Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 40.djvu/203

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199
Battle of Fredericksburg.

division east of the Blue Ridge. The Federals, by degrees, were concentrating at Warrenton.

This was the position of the two armies. While Lee was anxiously and carefully watching the developments of the coming campaign, a sensation was produced on both sides of the Potomac by the recall of McClellan, and the appointment as chief in command of his army conferred on Burnside. McClellan was the ablest officer that ever was in charge of the Army of the Potomac—perhaps the ablest, as a whole, developed by the war on the Northern side, with, it may be, one exception, Gen. Thomas, if, indeed, he was an exception; on this point, to say the least, intelligent sentiment is much divided. In addition to his ability as an officer, his character as a man was unexceptionable. He fully recognized the alleged object of the war, and, in the prosecution of it, he was high-toned, honorable, and humane. When asked by Mr. Lincoln his views as to the conduct of the war he replied:

"This rebellion has assumed the character of a war; as such it should be regarded, and it should be conducted upon the highest principles known to Christian civilization. It should not be a war looking to the subjection of any State in any event; it should not be at all a war upon population, but against armed forces and political organizations. Neither confiscations of property, political executions, territorial organizations of States, nor forcible abolition of slavery, should be contemplated for a moment. * * * All private property and unarmed persons should be strictly protected, subject only to the necessity of military operations. All private property taken for military uses should be paid or receipted for; pillage and waste should be treated as high crimes. * * * A system of policy like this, and pervaded by the influences of Christianity and freedom; would receive the support of all truly loyal men, would deeply impress the rebel masses and all foreign states, and it might be humbly hoped commend itself to the favor of the Almighty."

Such a recognition of the claims of humanity, national law and religion, to say nothing of the constitution, in a fierce civil war, will be handed down to remote generations as worthy of all