Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 01/February/Editorial Paragraphs
The enterprise of doing our own publishing, which was begun in January with some misgivings as to the result, has excited a most gratifying interest, and received such substantial aid that it may now be announced that it is an assured success.
The press all through the South has teemed with kindly notices of the Papers, and of the Society; the secretary has received a large number of private letters from leading Confederates warmly endorsing our plan, and subscriptions and renewal fees have flowed in so steadily as to insure the pecuniary success of the enterprise.
If our friends everywhere will exert themselves a little to send us new subscribers, or advertisements for our advertising pages, we will be able not only to meet the expenses of publication, but also to have the necessary means of carrying out other important plans for the prosecution of our work.
We add sixteen pages to the size of our Papers this issue, and expect still further to increase the number of the pages as our subscription list may justify.
As to the character of the Papers, it may be well to say that they will be strictly Historical. We shall publish nothing that does not bear directly on the War between the States, and proper understanding of the measures, men and deeds of those stirring times. A large part of our space will be devoted to official reports, and our pages will contain a number of important ones which have never been published. But at the same time each number will contain something of popular as well as historic interest.
In a word, we propose to issue a Monthly which will at the same time interest the general reader and be of value to the future historian.
Kindness of the Press.
It would occupy more space than we could command to mention even the names of the newspapers which have contained kindly notices of our first number, and we therefore simply take off our editorial hat, and thank them all.
We are very anxious to secure in every section reliable, energetic men (or women) to canvass for members of the Society, and subscribers to our Papers. We can pay to such a liberal commission, and would be obliged if our friends would seek out suitable agents, and recommend them to us.
The number of letters of inquiry daily received makes it necessary for us to state distinctly again our terms of subscription. The payment of $50 entitles one to become a Life Member, and to receive for life (without further fees) all of the publications of the Society.
The payment of $3 entitles one to become an Annual Member of the Society, and to receive for twelve months our Monthly Papers, and any other publications which the Society may issue during the year.
Those who are not entitled to become Members of the Society, or who do not prefer to do so, can become subscribers to our Monthly Papers by paying $3 per annum.
Payments must be made invariably in advance.
We hope that our friends will aid us in securing advertisements, such as are suitable to our columns. Our issues go into every section of the country, and among the very best classes of our people, and we believe that we present an admirable medium of advertising.
The Society's Responsibility for what we Publish.
There are, of course, differences of opinion among prominent actors in the Confederate struggle as to many of the events, and we are liable to make publications which will arouse these differences. It should be understood that the Executive Committee are not to be considered as endorsing, and the Society is not to be held responsible for everything which we publish.
Indeed, we may sometimes publish what we differ from, on the principle that if errors endorsed by responsible names creep into our archives, they had better be published now, while men competent to correct them are living, than to turn up in future years when probably no one will be able to refute them.
Our Next (March) Number.
The recent attempt of Mr. Blaine to "fire the Northern heart," by reviving the stories of "Rebel barbarity" to prisoners of war, and the eagerness with which the Radical press of the North caught up the old charge, and are still echoing it through the land, have made us feel that the time has come when this question of the treatment of prisoners during the late war should be fully ventilated, and our Confederate Government and people put right on the record concerning it. We shall, therefore, devote the next number of our Papers to this subject. We expect to be able to establish some such points as the following:
1. The Confederate authorities always ordered the kind treatment of prisoners of war, and if there were individual cases of cruel treatment it was in violation of positive orders.
2. The orders were to give prisoners the same rations that our own soldiers received, and if rations were scarce and of inferior quality, it was through no fault of the Confederacy.
3. The prison hospitals were put on the same footing precisely as the hospitals for our own men, and if there was unusual suffering caused by want of medicine and hospital stores, it arose from the fact that the Federal authorities declared these "contraband of war," and refused to accept the Confederate offer to allow Federal surgeons to come to the prisons with supplies of medicines and stores.
4. The prisons were established with reference to healthfulness of locality, and the great mortality among the prisoners arose from epidemics and chronic diseases, which our surgeons had not the means of preventing or arresting.
A strong proof of this will be given in an official statement which shows that nearly as large a proportion of the Confederate guard at Andersonville died as of the prisoners themselves.
5. The above reasons cannot be assigned for the cruel treatment which Confederates received in Northern prisons. The order-books on that side are filled with vindictive orders. Though in a land flowing with plenty, our poor fellows in prison were famished with hunger, and would have considered half the rations served Federal soldiers bountiful indeed. Their prison hospitals were very far from being on the same footing with the hospitals for their own soldiers, and our men died by thousands from causes which the Federal authorities could have prevented.
6. But the real cause of the suffering on both sides was the stoppage of the exchange of prisoners, and for this the Federal authorities alone were responsible. The Confederates kept the cartel in good faith. It was broken on the other side.
The Confederates were anxious to exchange man for man. It was the settled policy on the other side not to exchange prisoners. The Confederates offered to exchange sick and wounded. This was refused. In August, 1864, we offered to send home all the Federal sick and wounded without equivalent. The offer was not accepted until the following December, and it was during that period that the greatest mortality occurred. The Federal authorities stood by and coldly suffered their soldiers in our prisons to die, in order that they might "fire the Northern heart "with stories of "Rebel barbarities."
7. But the charge of cruelty made against the Confederate leaders is triumphantly refuted by such facts as these: The official reports of Secretary Stanton and Surgeon-General Barnes show that a much larger per cent. of Confederates perished in Northern prisons than of Federals in Southern prisons. And though the most persistent efforts were made to get up a case against President Davis, General Lee and others (even to the extent of offering poor Wirz a reprieve if he would implicate them), they were not able to secure testimony upon which even Holt and his military court dared to go into the trial.
We have a large mass of documents on this subject, and the Secretary has been busy compiling them. But it is earnestly requested that any of our friends who have facts and figures bearing on the question in any of its branches, which they are willing to give (or lend} to the Society, will at once forward them to the Secretary, Rev. J. Wm. Jones, Richmond, Va.
Let us unite in making the discussion full, thorough, and a complete vindication of our long slandered people. Will not our Southern papers call special attention to this matter?
J. H. Coates & Co., 822 Chestnut street, Philadelphia, the publishers, have kindly sent us the first volume of the translation (embracing two volumes of the French edition) of History of the Civil War in America, by the Comte de Paris.
The favorable notices of this book by the Northern press, and an extract we had seen from the preface, which seemed just and fair, made us anxious to see the book.
As the work of a foreigner of distinction, it is worth the attention of our people, and will find a place in the libraries of our military men. But it can never be accepted by us as at all fair to the Confederate side, and some portions of the volume before us smack of the bitter partisan rather than of the disinterested foreigner who is trying to mete out even-handed justice to "both the blue and the gray." The author evidently sees through only the bluest of spectacles.
Reserving the privilege of pointing out in a future number some of its most glaring mistakes, we will only add now that the book is gotten up by the publishers in excellent style and will doubtless have a large sale.
D. Van Nostrand, New York, has put us under many obligations by presenting the library of the Society with the following sixteen volumes of his publications, gotten up in the admirable style for which this famous publisher of military books is noted:
1. The Peninsular Campaign and its Antecedents. By General Barnard.
2. Report of the Engineer and Artillery operations of the Army of the Potomac, from its organization to the close of the Peninsular campaign. By General J. G. Barnard and W. F. Barry.
3. General McClellan's Report of operations of theof the Potomac while under his command.
4. The C. S. A. and the battle of Bull Run. By General Barnard.
5. Records of Living Officers of the United States Navy. By Lieutenant Lewis R. Hammersley.
6. Rifled Ordnance. By Lynall Thomas, F. R. S. L.
7. Report of the United States Commissioners on Munitions of War, exhibited at the Paris Exposition of 1867.
8. Manual for and Commissaries. By Captain R. F. Hunter, U. S. A.
9. Osborn's Hand-Book of the United States Navy, from April, 1861, to May, 1864.
10. Manual of Military Surgeons. By Dr. John Ordronaux.
11. The War in the United States. By Ferdinand Lecomte, Lieutenant-Colonel Swiss Confederation.
12. Our Naval School and Naval Officers. Meade.
13. How to Become a Successful Engineer. By Bernard Stuart.
14. The Hand-Book of Artillery. By Major Joseph Roberts, United States Artillery.
15. Company Drill and Bayonet Fencing. By Colonel J. Monroe, United States Army.
16. General Todleben's History of the Defence of Sebastopol.
We regret that our space will not allow us at present to review each one of these books, which make a most valuable addition to a military library. General Barnard's books are very valuable for a study of the campaigns of which they treat—albeit there are many things in them on which we would take issue with him.
General McClellan's report is invaluable to the student of his campaigns, and (though full of most exaggerated estimates of the force opposed to him) shows him to have displayed great skill in the organization and discipline, and very decided ability in the handling of his army, while his famous letter on the conduct of the war marks him as a humane gentleman, and will go down in history in striking contrast with the orders of Butler, Pope, Sheridan, Sherman, and others of that class.
The books about the navy are of interest, and the manuals are very valuable for those who may desire to prepare for the profession of a soldier.
History of Democracy. By Honorable Nahum Capen, L. L. D. American Publishing Co., Hartford, Connecticut. We are indebted to the courtesy of the distinguished author for a copy of the first volume of this book, which is warmly commended by leading men in every section of the country.
It is a book of vast research, and shows great ability. Although the publishers take special pains to prove that Mr. Capen was not a sympathizer with "the Rebels," the book has a very decided leaning to our side, and should have a wide circulation.
Southern Historical Monthly. By S. D. Poole, Editor and Proprietor, Raleigh, N. C. Terms: Postage paid, $4 a year in advance. We have received the first (January) number of this new candidate for public favor, and gladly place it on our exchange list, and bid it a hearty "God speed."
The printers admonish us that we have not more space now than to say that the elegant style of the make up of this number, together with our knowledge of Colonelability, gives assurance that he will make a first-class magazine.