Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/411

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381
First Congress.

unavoidable in the armed contests of the war; it allows of the capturing of every armed enemy, and every enemy of importance to the hostile Government, or of peculiar danger to the captor; it allows of all destruction of property, and obstructions of the ways and channels of traffic, travel, or communication, and of all withholding of sustenance of means of life from the enemy; of the appropriation of whatever an enemy's country affords necessary for the subsistence and safety of the Army, and of such deception as does not involve the breaking of good faith, either positively pledged regarding agreements entered into during the war or supposed by the modern law of war to exist. Men who take up arms against one another in public war do not cease on this account to be moral beings, responsible to one another and to God.

The striking contrast to these teachings and practices presented by our army when invading Pennsylvania illustrates the moral character of our people. Though their forbearance may have been unmerited and unappreciated by the enemy, it was imposed by their own self-respect which forbade their degenerating from Christian warriors into plundering ruffians, assailing the property, lives, and honor of helpless noncombatants. If their conduct, when thus contrasted with the inhuman practices of our foe, fail to command the respect and sympathy of civilized nations in our day, it cannot fail to be recognized by their less deceived posterity.

The hope last year entertained of an early termination of the war has not been realized. Could carnage have satisfied the appetite of our enemy for the destruction of human life, or grief have appeased their wanton desire to inflict human suffering, there has been bloodshed enough on both sides, and two lands have been sufficiently darkened by the weeds of mourning to induce a disposition for peace.

If unanimity in a people could dispel delusion, it has been displayed too unmistakably not to have silenced the pretense that the Southern States were merely disturbed by a factious insurrection, and it must long since have been admitted that they were but exercising their reserved right to modify their own Government in such manner as would best secure their own happiness. But these considerations have been powerless to allay the unchristian hate of those who, long accustomed to draw large profits from a union with us, cannot control the rage excited by the conviction that they have by their own folly destroyed the richest sources of their prosperity. They refuse even to listen to proposals for the only peace