Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 03/March/Comments on the First Volume of Count of Paris' Civil War in America
Comments on the First Volume of Count of Paris' Civil War in America.
By General J. A. Early.
[The following paper needs no editorial introduction, as everything from the pen of this able military critic attracts attention, is read with interest, and is noted as of high historic value. We trust that it will be followed by papers from the same able pen on the succeeding volumes of the Count of Paris' history.]
History of the Civil War in America. By the Comte de Paris. Translated, with the approval of the author, by Louis F. Tasistro. Edited by Henry Coppee, LL. D. Volume I. Philadelphia: Joseph H. Coates & Co. 1875.
In reviewing the history of the regular army of the United States, the author, on page 24, volume I, makes the following statement:
"The cavalry, which was disbanded after the war of 1812, only dates, with the first regiment of dragoons, from the year 1832. The second was created in 1836, the third in 1846, as also the mounted riflemen, which being formed solely to serve in the Mexican war, made the campaign on foot, notwithstanding their appellation of mounted riflemen. In 1855 Congress passed a law authorizing the formation of two new regiments of cavalry, and Mr. Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, took advantage of the fact that they had not been designated by the title of dragoons to treat them as a different arm, and to fill them with his creatures, to the exclusion of regular officers whom he disliked."
It was the third dragoons which was formed to serve only during the Mexican war, and that regiment was disbanded at the close of that war. The "mounted rifles," though formed about the same time, was formed as a permanent regiment, and was continued in the service, with that distinctive appellation, until August the 3d, 1861, when it was designated the "third cavalry." The three mounted regiments, therefore, in the service in 1855, when the first and second cavalry were formed, were the first and second dragoons and the mounted rifles. By the act of Congress of August 3d, 1861, the first and second dragoons were designated respectively the first and second cavalry, the mounted rifles the third cavalry, and the first and second cavalry respectively the fourth and fifth cavalry.
The term "cavalry," in common parlance, includes all mounted troops, but in military phrase "dragoons," "mounted rifles" and "cavalry" originally constituted different arms of the service, because they were armed differently—dragoons, with muskets and sabres, to serve on foot or on horseback, as occasion might require; mounted riflemen, with rifles, to move on horseback with celerity, but really to serve on foot in action; and cavalry, with sabres and pistols—or short carbines—to serve on horseback in action and in the pursuit. Such was the case when the two regiments of dragoons, the mounted rifle regiment and the two cavalry regiments were respectively organized. The modern improvements in fire-arms, and especially the introduction of breech-loaders, have rendered useless the distinction between the different kinds of mounted troops, as they have destroyed the distinction between heavy and light infantry and riflemen serving on foot. When, therefore, the two regiments of cavalry were formed in 1855, they were really formed as and intended to be a distinctive arm of the service.
The statement that Mr. Davis, as Secretary of War in 1855, filled the new regiments of cavalry "with his creatures" is, perhaps, a mistranslation of the phrase in the original French. The term "creatures," as used in the translation, would be generally accepted by all English-speaking people as a term of reproach, indicating that the persons appointed by Mr. Davis were his dependents, sycophants and parasites men—who had no claim to respect themselves, but were subject to his will and control. To speak of a man as the creature of the Almighty Creator conveys no reproach, but to call him the creature of another man, is to apply to him one of the most opprobrious epithets in the English language. It is therefore probable that the translator, in rendering the French phrase into English, while giving the literal version, has failed to observe the difference between the idiom of the two languages. It is presumed that the idea intended to be conveyed by the author was, that the appointees of Mr. Davis were of his own selection; for it is hardly to be supposed that he intended to intimate that such men as Generals George B. McClellan, Edwin V. Sumner, Wm. H. Emory, John Sedgwick and George H. Thomas, of the Federal army, and Generals Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, Wm. J. Hardee and J. E. B. Stuart, of the Confederate army, all of whom were among the original appointees to the two regiments of cavalry organized in 1855, were the creatures of Mr. Jefferson Davis, in the sense in which that term would be understood by Englishmen and Americans.
The idea that Mr. Davis, in filling the appointments for the new regiments, was influenced by dislike of the officers of the regular army, is a novel one. The complaint against him as President of the Confederacy was quite common, that in his appointments to the army he was too much influenced by his partiality for the officers of the old army, and especially for the graduates of West Point.
When the first dragoons was organized in 1833 (not 1832), a civilian, who had served with distinction as colonel of the regiment of "Mounted Rangers," formed for service in the Black Hawk war, was made its colonel, and all the other officers were appointed by selection, a considerable number being taken from civil life. When the second dragoons was formed in 1836, the lieutenant-colonel was taken from the pay department, and the major, and nearly, if not quite all of the company officers were taken from civil life. In the case of the eighth infantry, formed in 1838, the colonel was appointed by selection, and perhaps the most of the other officers by promotion from the other infantry regiments; and this is the sole case in the history of the United States army in which the appointments to a new regiment were made entirely from among the officers already in service. When the mounted rifles was formed in 1846, the colonel and most of the other officers were civilians, many of whom had come into service in the Mexican war as officers of volunteers.
When the two regiments of cavalry were authorized to be formed in 1855. it was with the understanding that all the field officers and one-half of the company officers should be taken from the army, while the other half of the company officers should be taken from civil life. This arrangement was probably adopted in order to propitiate the politicians, and insure the passage of the bill through Congress. The power and duty of making the appointments in fact devolved on Mr. Pierce, the then President, but he no doubt entrusted to Mr. Davis, an educated and experienced soldier, the task of making the selections from the army. How he performed that task will be seen from the following list of his appointees who bore a part in the late war:
Edwin V. Sumner, Major-General Volunteers, United States army, commanding corps in the Army of the Potomac.
Wm. H. Emory, Major-General Volunteers and corps commander United States army.
John Sedgwick, Major-General Volunteers and corps commander Army of Potomac.
Delos B. Sackett, Inspector-General United States army.
Thomas J. Wood, Major-General Volunteers, United States army.
George B. McClellan, Major-General commanding United States army and Army of the Potomac.
Samuel D. Sturgis, Brigadier-General Volunteers, United States army.
*Wm. D. DeSaussure, Colonel Confederate States army.
*Wm. S. Walker, Brigadier-General Confederate States army.
*George T. Anderson, Brigadier-General Confederate States army.
Robert S. Garnett, Brigadier-General Confederate States army—killed in action.
Wm. N. R. Beale, Brigadier-General Confederate States army.
George H. Steuart, Brigadier-General Confederate States army.
James McIntosh, Brigadier-General Confederate States army—killed in action.
Robert Ransom, Major-General Confederate States army.
Eugene A. Carr, Brigadier- General Volunteers, United States army.
*Alfred Iverson, Brigadier-General Confederate States army.
*Frank Wheaton, Brigadier-General Volunteers, United States army.
David S. Stanley, Major-General Volunteers, United States army.
James E. B. Stuart, Major General Confederate States army—mortally wounded in action.
Elmer Otis, Major First Cavalry and Colonel by brevet, United States army.
James B. McIntyre, Major Third Cavalry and Colonel by brevet, United States army.
*Eugene W. Crittenden, Major Fifth Cavalry, United States army.
†Albert V. Colburn, Lieutenant-Colonel on staff of General McClellan.
†Francis L. Vinton, Brigadier-General Volunteers, United States army.
†George D. Bayard, Brigadier-General Volunteers, United States army—killed in action.
†L. L. Lomax, Major-General Confederate States army.
Albert Sidney Johnston, General Confederate State army—killed in battle.
Robert E. Lee, General Confederate States army.
Wm. J. Hardee, Lieutenant-General Confederate States army.
George H. Thomas, Major-General United States army, commanding the Army of the Cumberland and Department of Tennessee.
Earl Van Dorn, Major-General Confederate States army.
Edmund Kirby Smith, General Confederate States army.
James Oakes, Brigadier-General Volunteers, United States army.
Innis N. Palmer, Major-General Volunteers, United States army.
George Stoneman, Major-General Volunteers, United States army.
*Albert G. Brackett, Lieutenant- Colonel Second Cavalry and Colonel by brevet, United States army.
‡Charles J. Whiting, Major Second Cavalry, United States army.
Nathan G. Evans, Brigadier-General Confederate States army.
Richard W. Johnson, Brigadier-General Volunteers, United States army.
Joseph H. McArthur, Major Third Cavalry-United States army.
Charles W. Field, Major-General Confederate States army.
Kenner Gerrard, Brigadier-General Volunteers, United States army.
*Walter H. Jenifer, Colonel Confederate States army.
*Wm. B. Royall, Major Fifth Cavalry, Colonel by brevet,United States army.
George B. Cosby, Brigadier-General Confederate States army.
William W. Lowe, Brigadier-General Volunteers, United States army.
John B. Hood, General Confederate States army.
*Junius B. Wheeler, Major Engineers and Professor of Engineering and the Science of War at West Point.
†A. Parker Porter, Lieutenant-Colonel of staff, United States army.
†Wesley Owens, Lieutenant-Colonel of staff, United States army.
†James P. Major, Brigadier-General Confederate States army.
†Fitzhugh Lee, Major-General Confederate States army.
(Those marked with * taken from civil life—with † graduates of West Point 1855 and 1856—with ‡ formerly in the army, but taken from civil life; all the others taken from the army.)
These two regiments, from the appointments made during Mr. Davis' administration of the War Department, furnished to the United States army during the war—
|12||Field and staff officers.|
Among the major-generals was one commander-in-chief of the army, and afterwards of the Army of the Potomac; one commander of an army in Tennessee, and three corps commanders.
They furnished to the Confederate army—
There were three lieutenants—P. Stockton and J. R. Church, first cavalry, and J. T. Sharf, second cavalry in Confederate States army, but there is no record of their rank, probably on the staff.
In addition, the following persons appointed second lieutenants declined, preferring to remain in other branches of the service:
George B. Anderson, Brigadier-General Confederate States army—mortally wounded in battle; N. Bowman Switzer, Colonel Volunteers, United States Army, now Major Second Cavalry and Brigadier-General by brevet.
Does the whole army besides, as it was at the beginning of the war, present such a brilliant record as that presented by Mr. Davis' appointees to the first and second cavalry?
It is very manifest that, in performing the duty assigned him, Mr. Davis filled those two regiments with officers of the very best military talent that the army afforded.
And of his appointees, there are at present in the United States army:
On the retired list—
Thomas J. Wood, as Major-General.
George Stoneman, as Major-General.
Richard W. Johnson, as Major-General.
In active service—
D. B. Sackett, Colonel and Inspector-General.
J. N. Palmer, Colonel Second Cavalry, and Brigadier-General by brevet.
William H. Emory, Colonel Fifth Cavalry, and Major-General by brevet.
James Oakes, Colonel Sixth Cavalry, and Brigadier-General by brevet.
S. D. Sturgis, Colonel Seventh Cavalry, and Major-General by brevet.
Frank Wheaton, Colonel Second Infantry, and Major-General by brevet.
D. S. Stanley, Colonel Twenty-second Infantry, and Major-General by brevet.
A. G. Brackett, Lieutenant-Colonel Second Cavalry, and Colonel by brevet.
E. A. Carr, Lieutenant-Colonel Fifth Cavalry, and Major-General by brevet.
Elmer Otis, Major First Cavalry, and Colonel by brevet.
William B. Royall, Major Fifth Cavalry, and Colonel by brevet.
Joseph H. Taylor, Major, Adjutant General's Department, and Colonel by brevet.
Junius B. Wheeler, Professor of Engineering and Sciences of War at West Point, Colonel by brevet.
The foregoing exposition shows how unjust, both to Mr. Davis and the officers appointed at his instance, is the stricture contained in the extract from the book of the Comte de Paris, taken in its very mildest form. If the passage in French imports what the English translation does, then it is apparent that the Comte has been the victim of a shameful imposition by his informant, or he has been exceedingly careless in ascertaining his facts and most reckless in his assertions.
On page 73, the author, in speaking of the employment of the army on the frontier at the commencement of secession, says: "It was in the midst of this active and instructive life that the news of the disruption of the Union reached the American army. The perfidious foresight of the late Secretary of War, Mr. Floyd, had removed the whole of this army far from the States, while his accomplices in the South were preparing to rise against the Federal authority. The soldiers had been honored with the belief that they would remain faithful to their flag. Under a multitude of pretexts, the Federal forts and arsenals had been dismantled by the very men whose first duty was to watch over the general interests of the nation; and the garrisons which had been withdrawn from them, to be scattered over Texas, had been placed under the command of an officer who seemed to have been only selected for the purpose of betraying them."
In the chapter on "The Federal Volunteers," page 187, he says: "The Federal Government, therefore, was required by law to arm and equip the volunteers; but, as it stood in need of everything at the moment when all had to be created at once—as its arsenals, which would have been insufficient for the emergency even if well supplied, had been plundered by the instigators of rebellion, and could not even furnish a musket, a coat, or a pair of shoes for the improvised defenders—most of the States themselves undertook to furnish those outfits for troops which they raised."
In the chapter on "The Material of War," pages 307-8, he says: "The Confederate Government could not count upon the industry and commerce of the Rebel States to supply its troops with provisions, equipments and arms to the same extent as its adversary. But at the outset of the war they possessed a very great advantage. As we have stated elsewhere, Mr. Floyd, Secretary of War under President Buchanan, had taken care, a few weeks before the insurrection broke out, to send to the South all the arms which the Government possessed. He thus forwarded one hundred and fifteen thousand muskets, which, being added to those already in the arsenals of Charleston, Fayetteville, Augusta, Mount Vernon, Baton Rouge, etc., secured a complete armament for the Confederate armies of superior quality."
Here again the author manifests the exceeding carelessness he has exhibited in ascertaining his facts.
The army of the United States had always been very small in time of peace, and after 1855, up to the beginning of the war, consisted of only eight regiments of infantry, four regiments of artillery, and five mounted regiments, numbering about ten or eleven thousand men in all. The great bulk of that army had been employed on the Western frontier as a protection against the Indians from time immemorial, and Governor Floyd, as Secretary of War, made no change in the policy of the Government in that respect. General Twiggs, the officer alluded to as having been selected for the purpose of betraying the troops placed under him, had been on frontier duty during the greater part of his military life, and had been in command in Texas from a period dating long before secession was contemplated. The troops under him that are represented as having been withdrawn from the Federal forts and arsenals, to be scattered over Texas, consisted mainly of the Second cavalry, which had been in Texas since 1856—very shortly after its organization. If the author had taken the trouble to look at Mr. Buchanan's message to Congress, of January 8th, 1861, he would have found in reference to the capture of the forts and arsenals in some of the Southern States this statement: "This property has long been left without garrisons and troops for its protection, because no person doubted its security under the flag of the country in any State of the Union. Besides, our small army has scarcely been sufficient to guard our remote frontier against Indian incursions." The truth of these statements of Mr. Buchanan were of easy verification, if the author had taken the trouble to make the proper inquiries before making such grave charges as he has recorded in a work in which he claims to have observed "the strictest impartiality."
He has also recorded as historical facts the absurd statements of unscrupulous partizans, made for the purpose of inflaming the passions of the Northern populace, that the arsenals had been plundered of all the arms belonging to the Government by Governor Floyd, and that said arms had been sent South. He says "he has examined with equal care the documents that have emanated from both parties." If this be true, then it follows, in reference to this subject of the removal of arms, that he has given very little attention to what has emanated from either party. He has entirely overlooked two reports made by Mr. Benjamin Stanton, of Ohio, Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, to the House of Representatives, one on the 9th of January, 1861, and the other on the 16th of February, 1861, disproving of the charges that were made in regard to the sending of arms South for the purpose of aiding the Secessionists. The majority of the House of Representatives was then Republican, with a Republican Speaker, and Mr. Stanton and a majority of his committee were Republicans, and of course with no bias to induce them to misstate the facts to screen Governor Floyd.
From those reports, and the evidence accompanying them, it appears that the United States had on hand in its arsenals at the North—mostly at Springfield—499,554 muskets of the old percussion and flint-lock patterns, and under orders given by Governor Floyd in December, 1859—several months before Mr. Lincoln was nominated, and when the Democratic party was confident of carrying the next presidential election—105,000 of these muskets were removed to arsenals in the South, which were comparatively empty, and at the same time there were removed to the same arsenals 10,000 old percussion rifles. These constituted the 115,000 muskets which the author says "secured a complete armament for the Confederate armies of superior quality," and left the Federal Government "in need of everything at the moment when all had to be created at once," though there was still about 400,000 of the same kind of arms left in Northern arsenals. It also appears that in 1860, under the law for arming the militia, 8,423 muskets and 1,728 long-range rifles were distributed among the States, and the Southern States received of the muskets 2,091, and of the rifles 758, making 2,849 in the aggregate, though of the States which were among the first to secede several received none of either kind of arms. Mr. Stanton, in his report, says: "There are a good deal of rumors, and speculations, and misapprehensions, as to the true state of facts in regard to this matter."
It does not appear that any cannon were sent South by Governor Floyd, but it appears that about the 20th of December, 1860, he gave orders for the guns necessary for the armament of the forts on Ship Island and at Galveston to be sent to these forts. The orders were, however, countermanded by his successor before they were carried into effect or a single gun had been sent.
The author has very probably adopted as true some statements of General Scott's, made after he had become a dotard, though it is not believed that even he went to the extent of asserting that the United States had not "a musket, a coat, or a pair of shoes for the improvised defenders."
If the United States did not have arms to issue to the volunteers, and the States had to furnish them, where did the latter get them from? None of the States had any manufactory of arms, and if they had to buy them, was their credit any better than that of the Federal Government? The statement of the author in regard to the inability of the Federal Government to furnish a musket to its defenders, is calculated to provoke a smile even from General Sherman, who has commended the book for "its spirit of fairness and candor."
That the Federal army, at the first battle of Manassas, was far better armed and equipped than the Confederate army which it encountered, is a proposition that does not admit of dispute. The former army had a portion of its troops armed with minnie muskets and long-range rifles, while its artillery was more numerous and of much better quality than ours. The Confederate troops at that battle were armed almost entirely with smooth-bore muskets, most of which had been altered to percussion from flint locks, though, perhaps, there were a few rifles that had been rescued from the flames at Harper's Ferry. All of the artillery used there by us, except a few guns brought by the Washington Artillery from New Orleans, was furnished by Virginia, and consisted mainly of the old-fashioned iron smooth-bore six-pounders, for which caissons had to be improvised by using the wheels and beds of ordinary wagons. The greater portion, if not all of the percussion caps used by us in the battle, had been manufactured with a machine procured and put in operation in Richmond, by the Chief of Ordnance of Virginia, after the secession of that State. The duty had been devolved on me to organize and arm the Virginia troops mustered into the service at Lynchburg, and I there organized, armed and sent to Manassas two regiments of infantry and one of cavalry, besides several companies of infantry that were sent to other regiments. The infantry was armed with muskets, without cartridge boxes, bayonet scabbards or belts, and the cavalry was armed partly with double-barrel shot guns, collected from the surrounding country, and partly with old flint-lock horseman pistols, which were altered to percussion under my orders, while the only sabres that could be procured for the men consisted of a variety of old patterns of that weapon collected from some companies belonging to former militia organizations. Upon application to the Confederate Ordnance Department at Richmond, I found that it had neither cartridge-boxes, &c., nor cavalry arms to furnish to me. Cartridge-boxes, belts and bayonet scabbards were not issued to my own regiment until a day or two before the engagement at Blackburn's ford, on the 18th of July, and they were issued to a part of the regiment on the morning of that day, having been manufactured subsequent to the arrival of the regiment at Manassas.
If about such facts as those referred to in the extracts given and commented on—to wit: the character of the appointments made by Mr. Davis to the two regiments of cavalry in 1855, the purpose of the employment of the troops on the Western frontier in 1860, the sending of arms to the South, and the relative state of preparation of the two governments for the war—the author is so much at fault, when the evidence to disprove all his statements was easily attainable, how can we expect him to arrive at correct conclusions when he treats of the points in dispute in regard to the merits of the controversy that led to the war, or in regard to the events of the war itself?
Notwithstanding his own declaration that "he has endeavored to preserve throughout his narrative the strictest impartiality," and that of the editor of the English version of his book, that "he has produced a book displaying careful research, cool judgment, and a manifest purpose to be just to all," it is very apparent that he has adopted as his own the extreme views of the most embittered of the Northern Radical Republicans in regard to the Southern people, the character of the government framed by the authors of the Constitution, the merits of the controversy that led to the war, and the events of that war, so far as he has undertaken to relate them.
Upon the subject of slavery, he has formed his opinions as to the character and conduct of the slaveholders and the condition of the slaves, from the work of fiction entitled "Uncle Tom's Cabin," by Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, that literary ghoul who has shocked the moral sense of all decent people in England and America by exhuming and gloating over that horrible story about Byron and his sister, which, even if true, should have been allowed to rest in that oblivion into which it had sunk; and the diary of Fanny Kimble, the actress, who, in order to vent her spleen upon the husband from whom she had parted, undertook to calumniate the people among whom he had been born. The Comte de Paris adopts without question the statements of these two female writers, one of whom knew nothing and the other very little of the practical operation of slavery in the South; but he gives no consideration to such testimony as the published letters of Miss Murray, an English lady of real refinement and culture—once Maid of Honor to Queen Victoria, who visited the United States with strong prejudices against slavery, but, after a sojourn of some months on Southern plantations, changed her views, and gave an account of the physical and moral condition of the slaves entirely different from that given by Mrs. Stowe and Miss Fanny Kimble.
Considering the source from which he seems generally to have obtained the facts whereon to base his opinions, it is not a matter of much surprise that his book should contain such passages as the following: "It will thus be seen that the States which defended the Union in 1861 are those that had made the greatest sacrifices to establish it, while those that raised the standard of rebellion against it are also those that had the least right to call themselves its founders." Page 7.
In speaking of the slave of a good master, he says: "In short, his owner will take care of him, will not impose any labor above his strength, and will administer to his material wants in a satisfactory manner, precisely as he will do for the animals that are working by his side under one common lash. But, in order that he may enjoy this pretended good fortune, he has to be reduced to the moral level of his fellow-slaves and have the light of intelligence within him extinguished forever; for if he carries that divine spark in his bosom he will be unhappy, for he will feel that he is a slave." Page 80.
If the Comte de Paris really believes that this picture represents the true condition of the negro slave, under the most favorable circumstances, what must he think of his Northern friends, who in March, 1867, less than two years after the abolition of slavery by the result of the war, enacted the Reconstruction Laws, by which they disfranchised a large portion of the white people of the South, and that the most experienced and intelligent, and conferred suffrage on the recently emancipated slaves—by which the latter were entrusted with the formation of constitutions and governments for all the Southern States? What does he think of the fact that some of those emancipated slaves, within whom "the light of intelligence" had been "extinguished forever," have even occupied seats in the House of Representatives and in the Senate of the United States? Nay, what can he think of the further fact, that the votes of the negroes of South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana (where they are certainly more ignorant and depraved than in other part of the South), as ascertained and declared by certain returning boards, composed in one case of half negroes, have recently settled the question of the election of a President of the United States, against a majority of at least one million of the white votes of the country?
Either he must be mistaken in his estimate of the effects of slavery on the negro's mental and moral faculties, or the people whom he so admires, and whom he exalts so far above the people of the South in refinement, morals, education, intelligence and civilization, must be the most unmitigated villains in this wicked world of ours.
In speaking of the classes into which he alleges slavery divided the people of the South, he says of the class which he designates as "common whites": "This was the plebs romana, the crowds of clients who parade with ostentation the title of citizen, and only exercise its privilege in blind subserviency to the great slaveholders, who were the real masters of the country. If slavery had not existed in their midst, they would have been workers and tillers of the soil, and might have become farmers and small proprietors. But the more their poverty draws them nearer to the inferior class of slaves, the more anxious are they to keep apart from them, and they spurn work in order to set off more ostentatiously their qualities of freemen." Page 87.
Really it is hard to conceive from what source the Comte could have derived this information. The census of 1860 shows that in all the slave States, except South Carolina and Mississippi, the white population exceeded not only the slaves, but the entire colored population, and in some of them very largely—the white population in the eleven States that regularly seceded being 5,447,199, the free colored 132,760, and the slaves 3,521,110, while in Kentucky and Missouri the white population was from four to eight times the number of slaves. Now it is well known that the slaveholders constituted a very small minority of the white population. How was it, then, that the non-slaveholding whites subsisted at all, if they owned no land and would not work? Does the Comte mean to intimate that the large slaveholders fed and clothed all the whites who were not slaveholders? And yet his American editor says: "In a large and philosophic view of American institutions he hasDeTocqueville."
To point out all the numerous errors of opinion, speculation and fact contained in the published volume of his "History," would be an interminable task, and I will close my notice of the author's mistakes by calling attention to one more statement on pages 141-2. He says: "The seceders on their side had not lost a moment in Virginia. They were in possession of Richmond when the convention was in session; they surrounded it, threatening their opponents with death, and extorted from it the ordinance of secession, which, however, was passed by a vote of only eighty-eight to fifty-five."
I was a member of the Virginia Convention which adopted the ordinance of secession, and voted against its passage; and this is the first that I have ever learned of the convention having been surrounded by the secessionists, or of the extortion of the ordinance from it by threats of death or of any other violence. That ordinance was extorted from the convention, however, but it was by the proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, and his threat of a war of coercion in the seceded States—a war that the great bulk of the opponents of secession in the convention believed to be unwarranted by the constitution.
The Comte de Paris, in a letter to his American publishers, which immediately follows his preface, says:
"I trust that my account of these great events will, at least, not provoke a too bitter controversy; for if I have been obliged to judge and censure, I have done so without any personal or partial feeling against any one, with a sincere respect for truth and a keen sense of the responsibility which I assumed."
I am disposed to give him credit for entire sincerity in this declaration, but I must be permitted to say that the most embittered partizan of the North could not have done greater injustice to the South, in a statement of the causes that led to the late war, than he has done in the part of his history that has been published.
As his book contains statements about the people of the South that I know to be entirely without foundation, and that every candid man, even at the North, would declare to be so, and as he has also made strictures upon the character of the Southern people, their cause and their conduct, that are exceedingly harsh and unjust, he must pardon me for saying that it is very apparent that he has not had access to truthful sources of information, or, if he has had access to such sources, he has turned from them to adopt as his conclusions the most unfounded slanders of our bitterest and most prejudiced enemies. If he desires to continue his "History of the Civil War in America," and to produce a work of real historic value, he had better consign to the flames all that he has so far published, and begin his task de novo, after devoting his attention to a thorough investigation of the history of the American people, the character of their governments—State and Federal—the causes that led to the late conflict, and the events that attended that conflict; for it is impossible to eliminate from the first part of his work the innumerable errors which it contains without writing the whole over again. If he should succeed better with his future volumes, and make them accurate, to attach them to the first would present a most incongruous conjunction of truth and error.
J. A. Early.