SLAVE-STATE LOYALTY AND DISLOYALTY.
[FRO]I OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.]
New York, February 20, 1864. THE game of strategy at the South and West becomes interesting ; but it is not yet sufficiently clear to warrant more than speculation, which in my judgment is wasted labour upon military movements, unless based upon authentic information as to essential facts. It seems to be pretty well ascertained, however, that General Sher- man has penetrated to the extreme eastern boundary of Mississippi, and there cut the railway, the Mobile and Ohio, which runs north- ward from Mobile, thus destroying the communication between the various detachments of General Polk's army. It seems here as if we were seeking the control of the Black Warrior river, which penetrates, a navigable stream, to the very interior of Alabama. In Georgia the rebel governor has ordered all the people to retire east of the Chattahoochie, a hideously named river which divides the north-western quarter of that State from the south-western three-quarters. Reminding you of the rebel saying, " That what• the Yankees get they keep," which has thus far proved true in this war, I turn to other subjects.
We " Federals," as you pleasantly style us (and it is a soothing
phrase), have from the beginning of the present war depended not a little for the final restoration of the power of the Government throughout the Republic upon the loyal men of the Slave States. The insurgents and their sympathisers in Europe, with some who were not their sympathisers, have laughed at this depend- ence as altogether unfounded. And if, indeed, the rule " De non apporentibus et non existentibus cam est ratio" were of universal application the laughers were fully justified. But the rule is not• of universal application, and the loyal men have existed in the- Slave States all along, although they have not appeared. I have proof of it lying before me in a package of letters addressed by Vicksburg men to a Vicksburg man now in New York, whither he came directly after the taking of that place. These letters are from men of very various positions in life—planters, judges, lawyers, and small traders. They were kindly placed in my hands. by a friend of the gentleman to whom they are addressed, that I might see what kind of folk they were who in the midst of adver- sity had been faithful to the old flag. I found very little in them of sufficient interest to be repeated to the readers of the Spectator; so filled are they with the personal affairs and the individual anxieties of the writers. But that little is to the purpose, and for the very reason just given is the more impressive.
In one of the letters, dated December 3, 1863, the writer, after expressing his sorrow for some men who were " only moderate secessionists," and who became so merely because they were too. poor and humble to resist the movement of the fire-eating planters, says, " We have a loyal club, and it numbers over two hundred men who have been all the time loyal. We are about to form a Loyal League : the corner-stone, Free State. New Orleans• numbers over 2,000 of that class ; and they intend to make of Louisiana a Free State. We wish to form a party that shall ultimately revolutionize the State."
In another letter, dated November 1, the writer, a small trader, says, " It is singular that gold should be at so great a premium on securities which in the end must be as good, at the least, as British. securities. But there is not much patriotism in money or stock_ financiers. God help the country that looks to them for aid ! But I do have faith in the patriotism of the people, and believe that- there is virtue enough in them to save the country ; and, with the blessing of God, I hope that you and I may both live to see it fully redeemed, and once more prosperous and happy. When she does. again start on her bright career, it will be under vastly different. circumstances; and compared to what it has been heretofore it will be a millennial age. I, for one, hope and pray that it will be emphatically the home of the Free and the land of the brave Let everything that stands in the way as a stumbling-block, be it slavery or what not, stand off ; and let this be a land of liberty, of enlightened Gospel privileges; and, on the part of the people, of Gospel obedience."
My next extract is in quite another style, though to the same purpose. It is from the letter of a, planter whose plantation is n8ar Natchez, Mississippi. The lettei. is dated /July 25, 1863. The
writer expresses his feeling very summarily thus :—" You know I am a great sufferer in this war—to the tune of 720 bales of cotton burned, and 140 negroes undoubtedly run off before this time. [Cotton and negroes worth about 300,000 dols., gold standard.] I say, joy go with them, if it will keep the country together. Sooner than destroy this country I would see every pound of cotton and every negro in Hell." Now this man means to express no particular indifference as to the fate of the negroes ; for, mind you, negroes as well as cotton were his property. This is merely the ordinary style of talking among the men whom Mr. Beresford Hope regards as the gentlemen par excellence of this country, when they are not putting themselves on papa to be seen and heard of men across the water. For this very man, who thus conditionally sends his poor negroes to the place unnameable to ears polite, immediately adds, and I believe with entire sincerity, "No people can prosper whose sole object in life is the raising of cotton and negroes, whose highest ambition is to raise the greatest number of bales. Some care for God and our fellow-men must be cultivated to make good citizens, and that you know is wanting in all that party." He means the fire-eating slavery propagandists, who are the only real secessionists.
A passage in another letter, which is too long and wordy for me to quote, tells how the writer lived in a cave during the latter part of the siege ; how one of his children died from the dampness and bad atmosphere, and two of the party were wounded by shells ; and yet he adds that all that he suffered there was as nothing compared with the persecution which he had before suffered as a loyal man ; and that looking back he wonders how he went through it all. In considering this subject it must always be re- membered that the fire-eaters began this insurrection having the whip hand, and that they were sufficiently numerous and bold, in the absence of any interference on the part of the Government for months, to keep and establish their ascendancy. The Spectator has said that " at the South the leaders lead." No. The implied converse, that at the North the leaders follow, is measurably true. But at the South the leaders drive ; and they do it with the revolver in one hand and the bowie knife in the other.
But it was not only by intimidation of one kind or another that an acquiescence in secession, and even a kind of support of it, was brought about among men at heart its opponents. The ties which bound men to their old places in the State organization were not entirely severed, and many retained their posts as State officers while yet desirous of the perpetuation of the old Republic. A case of this sort is exhibited in the following passage from a letter dated Vicksburg, like the rest, September 23. The writer was, perhaps is, a judge of a county court in Mississippi. "I told you that I feared that we Union people might have a hard time in satis- fying the powers that be at Washington of our loyalty ; and that I desired you to furnish your evidence as to my soundness as a loyal man, thereby enabling me to obtain the clemency of the Presi- dent, as provided in the confiscation law of Congress. [Remember that this was -written before the proclamation of amnesty.] I have, only a few days since written to his Excellency asking him to grant me a full and free pardon for my part in the rebellion when he should become satisfied that I was deserving of such consider- ation. Now you know that I held office and still hold office under the State Government, and had to take the oath to support the Constitution of the Confederate States, and the Constitution of the State of Mississippi, so long as I continued a citizen thereof." I wish that this judge had shown his loyalty at least by the resignation of his office, so that he might have avoided that ugly oath-taking, for he is known to his correspondent to have been all along loyal to the Republic. But still, while I am ignorant of all the circum- stances under which he acted, I shall not be the first to condemn him.
From these words of Slave-State loyalists let me turn to those of a rebel of some note, General Howell Cobb, who pas just made a speech at Atalanta, Georgia, which is of little intrinsic importance, but one passage in which will, I think, have interest for you. Cobb, you may possibly remember, was our Secretary of the Treasury under President Buchanan. While he held that office he came on to New York, and used all the influence given him by his official position to embarrass the finances of the Government of which he was a part, from which he was drawing his pay, and to the support of which he was bound in the most solemn manner. He did this in the interest of the rebellion which he soon after
entered into, and in the armies of which he is now a nominal general. Now to us this conduct seems to add to political treason, which may be a gentleman's crime, personal perfidy, which is not the crime of a gentleman. This may be a very un-English view of the matter, and show great degeneracy on our part ; but still it is our poor Yankee notion. But to the passage of. Cobb's speech.
I have told you that I should always endeavour to sustain my assertions by evidence which would satisfy the most indifferent stranger ; and in one of my recent letters 1 said that the only difference between the people of the South and those of the North was that produced by slavery, and that many of the most rabid secessionists in the Slave States were born and bred at the North. I did not expect such speedy confirmation of my words as the following conclusion of a denunciation of the Yankees on the part of General Cobb. The speech is reported in the Atalanta Intelligencer.
"And do you think that you satisfy the demands of your country and of your own concsienco because you agree with others in this denuncia- ation of Yankees ? If there is any one in this wide world who hates the Yankee race worse than I do I am sorry for him, because he must have devoted his whole heart to the work ; but I tell you, and the history of this war will bear me out in the assertion, that many true- hearted Southern men were born at the North, and some of the vilest Yankees that ever disgraced this earth were born at the South." (Applause.) There you have it. This honest Mr. Cobb hates " the Yankee race ;" and yet in the next breath he says that it is not a question of whether a man is really a Yankee or not, but that there is
something which will make a Yankee a true-hearted Southerner, and something which will turn the Southerner into the Yankee.
What is this? Do you need to be told that on one side it is a like, and on the other a dislike, of slavery ? When men like Mr.
Cobb talk thus, how I rejoice that I am A YANKEE.