Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/420

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414 Southern Historical Society Papers.

Now fall Atlanta, Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, only fragments of the former States fight in their narrow limits, cut off from all the outside world; the small army of defence melts visibly away, and just as visibly grow the armies and courage of the enemy. Hope dies out, and fidelity to duty alone must sustain courage.

Manly courage and woman's faith remain the last support. The women care for the wounded and strengthen the courage of the com- batants. The men stand brave and unterrified behind Johnston and Lee and suffer no diminution of their immortal renown. The fight rages around Richmond and Petersburg in a narrow space, and here stands Jefferson Davis, unbowed and not disheartened, in the midst of troops bleeding to death, caring for everything as far as lay in his power. At last nature could do no more. The Southerner, wasted to death by hunger and privation, sank exhausted on his shield. At Appomattox he fell unconquered by human hand, stricken down by inexorable fate, a hero even unto death. And now does any one ask those to whom secesssion brought nothing except ruin, wounds, death, and misery, what they thought of Jefferson Davis ? The an- swer is unanimously given from the huts to the palaces, from the Mississippi to the Atlantic Ocean, that the love and veneration of the whole South has followed him to the grave, for he was a sincere Christian and a man of the greatest nobility of character. Seldom has there been more superficial and false judgment about a war and more calumnious opinion about a man than about Jefferson Davis and the rebellion. May Heaven forgive the people who knowingly spread such lies !

Jefferson Davis was after the war judged not by the measure of justice but of passion. One hundred thousand dollars reward was placed on his head. In prison he was accused of having tor- tured the captured and of having plotted treason. He was held a prisoner without a trial for two years ; like a common criminal put in chains, confined in a solitary cell, in which a guard kept eyes upon him with a burning light day and night. All this created in him neither hatred nor thirst for revenge. The greatness of his soul elevated him above it. During this time the prying eyes of his enemies sought among the official and private papers which had fallen into their hands for a pretext on which they could pass judg- ment upon him. Hundreds of eyes, eager for revenge, hunted through the Government papers which remained undestroyed, and woe to him had any evidence been found in the most secret corner