Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/165
Sketch of M'ljor-Gemral Patrick R. Cleburne. 157
his children were not starving. Every instinct that appeals most powerfully and most sacredly to manhood called upon these men to return to their homes as soon as they could do so honorably. Cle- burne was a man of warm sympathies, and he felt profoundly the extent of the sacrifice his men were called upon to make; but, with Roman virtue, he set high above all other earthly considerations the achievement of Southern independence. He adapted himself to the peculiar conditions of a volunteer soldiery, and, laying aside the commander, he appealed to his men as a comrade to give up every- thing else and stand by the cause and the country. He succeeded in inspiring them with his own high purposes and exalted patriotism, and the result was the early and unanimous re-enlistment of his di- vision. The Confederate Congress passed later a conscription act that retained the three years' men in service; but those whose terms of enlistment expired in the interim would meantime have returned to their homes, and the moral effect of voluntary re-enlistment would have been lost to the cause.
Cleburne fully comprehended the disproportion in the military re- sources of the North and South, and was the first to point out the only means left the South to recruit her exhausted numbers. In January, 1864, he advocated calling in the negro population to the aid of Southern arms. He maintained that negroes, accustomed to obedience from youth, would, under the officering of their masters, make even better 'soldiers for the South than they had been proven to make under different principles of organization for the North. He insisted that it was the -duty of Southern people to waive con- siderations of property and prejudice of caste, and bring to their aid this powerful auxiliary. He pointed out, further, that recruits could be obtained on the borders who would otherwise fall into the hands of the Federal armies, and be converted into soldiers to swell the ranks of our enemies. His proposition met with disfavor of both government and people. A year later it was adopted by Congress, with the approval of the country, when it was too late.
The following extract of a note written about this time to a lady, a refugee from Tennessee, in reply to some expressions compliment- ary to himself, and to a hope expressed for the recovery of Tennes- see, is characteristic of the man:
" To my noble division, and not to myself, belong the praises for the deeds of gallantry you mention. Whatever we have done, how- ever, has been more than repaid by the generous appreciation of our