Newspaper Page Text
Stray 33its of Con
(Mr. B. Wella, writer of the follow
ing article, was a clerk in the war de
partment in Washington several years
during and after the civil war. After
the fall cf the Confederacy lie was
placed in charge of thc Confederate
government papers which had been
sent to Washington by General Sher
man. In thia capacity Mr. Wella
was summoned aa witness to the trial
of Jefferson Davis in Ilichinond.)
It is the settled policy of the Amer
ican people that when a matter of na
tional interest has ouce been fought
out to the end, either on the fle'.d of
battle, or thc lesa dangeroun field of
public debate, thc issues involved
thereafter pass from thc domain of
politics to the domain of history, and
are discussed L?y the victorious ur de
feated party without any heat of pas
sion or rancorous feeling. In thia
way all parties alike discuss from the
standpoint of history the Mexican
war, the slavery question, secession
and the late civil war. It in wonder
ful how soon prejudice disappears,
and thc political atmosphere becomes
clear when once the struggle ia over.
An issue settled once ia settled for all
time. In thc busy rush of American
life no F.ection of thc country can
afford to sulk, or be illnatured over a
defeated cauac. The commercial tica
which bind tho nation together will
not permit any section either to be
revengeful in tho hour of victory or
, ?strated io the hour of defeat.
Cummeroo carries the olivo branch
and brings about friendly relations.
We are all fellow citizens now, loving
our common country, using the past
in such a manner that wo may thereby
better serve tho present and future.
I have been requested by some
friendo to write a Bketoh of what I
know of the "Confederate Archives,"
after a study of them for more than
six years immediately after the close
of the eivil war. What I shall have
to say will be from a purely objective
standpoint, and with no politics inter
woven. I shall, in the language of
the unfortunate Othello:
Nor set down aught in malice."
The subject naturally divided itself
into three heads:
First-How were the archivos ob
Seoond-Of what do they consist?
Third-Of what u?o have they beon
to the country?
Lee's Warning to Davis.
A statement as to the manner in
which the Confederate archives were
obtained recalls lo oar minda the
closing scenes of the war. With
General Lee in the early p-;t of 1865
the question of the duration of the
war was narrowed down to a mere
matter of weeks or months, as circum
stances might develop. Ho had kept
Jefferson Davis duly advised of the
dangerous tendency of passing events
in military oiroles, and of the move
ments whioh General Grant was mak
ing or likely to make. Re saw that
the boa constrictor of hostile forooB
was tightening its hold and stiffening
its muscles and drawing its folds slow
ly and surely toward the center of the
eirole within whioh lay the Confed
erate oapital and its defenders. No
help eould come to the threatened
oapital from the far South, for Gen
eral Joseph E. Johnston had more
than ho oould handlo in opposing
General Sherman. In view ot the
gathering olouds General Leo had ad
vised the Confederate government to
be really to leave the beleaguered city
cf Richmond on short notice. To
meet such an emergency tho Confed
erate government had strong boxes
made of hard pine, suitable for hold
ing valuable papers and booka. The !
Tccords were carefully packed in them, '
and the boxes wire ready to be closed,
locked and shipped at thc last mo
Then came that memorable Sunday
morning in April. 1805, when Lee's
messenger sought Mr. Davis in church,
and conveyed to him tho news that
the Confederate lines wero hopelessly
broken, and must fall baok and un
cover Richmond and Petersburg. The
Confederate government must leave
Bichmond. All was hurry. Ware
houses containing ootton and military
-supplies were in flames ?nd dismay
waa everywhere. Tho boxes of re
cords, several hundred in number,
were placed on the cars and shipped
with all ppeed ?o Danville, and thence
-into the line?* of Gen. Joe Johnston's
army in North Carolina. Possibly
some of tho records did not get that
ifar hut I am speaking of the bulk of
?thc- Mr. DAV?B, John C. Brecken
ridge, r crciary of war; John H. Rea
gan, pi: (.master general, Judah P.
'Benjamin, secretary of state; General
Sam Cooper, adjutant and inspector
general, as well as other officials, were
soon io tho same neighborhood, and in
close communication with General
Johnston. The last cabinet meeting
took place within bis military lines.
It was finally decided that Johnston
could not hold out, and he was left to
make bis own terms wi'.h Sherman.
At that last meeting the question
came up, "What shall be done with
: the records?" One of the parties
j present advised that they he burned
j in order to prevent their capture by
j the Federal troops. Hut General
j Johnston was cool headed, as well ns a
good lighter. Ile stated that when
! the war was over there would come a
i time when tho history of the events
I would have to he written. The United
; States would have the reports of bat
? tier, sent in by the Federal generals on
I which to draw for historical material
as well as the Congressional records.
Thc South might want to write its
version of the battles and sieges, the
victories and defeats fought out in
? the Southern cause. Thc records of
; thc Confederate government would he
of priceless value along this line.
The South's side of thc war could not
he written without access to the re
cords written by Confederate officers.
To destroy these records might he to
cripple the South, ?nd render a South
ern history well nigh impossible. He
therefore advised that the Confeder
ate archives bo turned over to General
Sherman, with a request that they bo
sent to tho adjutant general at Wash
ington, and there preserved as a part
of tho records of the war.
The Davis Beauregard Fend.
The records of thc armies under
Beauregard, Johnston and Robert E.
Lee were found among the archives.
These were the records kept at the
headquarters of these generals re
spectively. It is needless to say that
theso officers, having had a military
ed;-.ration, kept their records well and
in regulation style. Among the lot
tere captured at Beauregard's head
quarters were many letters of a politi
cal oharacter, written by Augusta J.
Evans, the Southern novelist and
authoress of "St. Elmo," "Macarie"
and "Beulah," books which had quito
a run between 1861 and 1865, but now
somewhat out of date, being founded
on political conditions which are now
settled and referred to only as matters
of past history. These letters were
on the current political affairs of that
dato. They wore in her usual pleas
ant style and breathed a lofty senti
ment from a Southern standpoint.
She was deoidedly opposed to the
manner in whioh Jefferson Davis
treated both Beauregard and "doe"
Johnston, and denounced the Confed
erate president for bis overbearing
methods and despotic will. She dis
liked Davis almost as much as she did
the "Yankees." Beauregard's records
showed the answers to these Jotters.
They were strictly dignified responses
to her viows, dwelling on his personal
opinions of tho military situation, and
the way in whioh affairs were con
ducted by the Confederate chief mag
istrate. His criticisms of him were
many and bitter. It was an ill-con
cealed secrot in military circles in the
South that Davis and Beauregard
wasted no love on each other, but
hated with an intensity which noth
ing ezcopt the danger to their com
mon causo kept within bounds.
Beauregard claimed that after the bat
tle of Shiloh Mr. Davis, without
cause, withdrew him from activo ser
vice in the field, where he oould win
distinction, and assigned him to en
gineering and defensive duty at
Charleston and other seacoast towns,
whore he was practically shelved.
Among other dooumcnts captured
with Beauregard were several hundred
anonymous printed pamphlets severe
ly criticizing Mr. Davis for partiality,
obstinacy and imperfect knowledge of
tho military situation and for abuse of
power. Under military law Beaure
gard would have been oourlmartialed
if bc had publioly expressed senti
ments whioh were thus privately dis
tributed among his trusted friends.
The author was discreet enough to
havo printed across the front page of
j eaoh pamphlet in conspicuous type
thc words "Printed but Not Publish
ed." It was a fine point in the
strategy of libel to .ell a '-hing with
out saying it. It is not known wheth
er Mr. Davis ever saw any of these
documents, as they wero only intend
ed for distribution among Davis's per
sonal enemies in the Confederate
Congress. In the letters of Beaure
gard and Miss Evans and in the print
ed pamphlet it was stated that Mr.
Davis had, in the most important
crisis of the war in the West, relieved
General Johnston of a highly impor
tant position in the field in front of
Sherman's army, and had assigned
him to the command of the defenses
of Mobile, thus depriving the South
of his valuable services, and had
placel General John B. Hood i ri his
place, for which position, they de
clared. Hood was incompetent, as the
battle of Franklin showed. Ali the
disasters of the Confederate army in
the West were ascribed to Mr. Davis's
obstinacy and partiality. The corre
spondence disclosed the fact that
other officers were chafing under the
arbitrary usc of power by Mr. Davis.
At this same time enemies of the
executive were making themselves
heard io the Confederate house of
representatives, notably Henry S.
Foot, of Mississippi. Davis was be
coming unpopular every day in the
South, as one disaster after another
befell the Confederacy and was
charged up to him as the cause.
Secrets from the Confederate Congress.
The records of the Confederate Con
gress came to us almost entire. They
covered all the legislation from the
beginning to thc close of the war.
These debates and acts have all been
published and need no special mention
here. They have passed into history.
In thc Confederate House were many
speeches of criticism of Davis, Mr.
Foote being conspicuously, a leader of
the anti-administration party. Foote
(?nally left Richmond in disgust and
endeavored to reach the federal lilied
and go North. Mr. Davis made the
mistake of his life when he* sent
troops after him and caught him be
fore he reuched the federal iiucw and
brought him buck to Richmond. Mr.
Foote resumed his pljce iu the house
and assailed Davis as before.
The records of the executive ses
sions of the Confederate Senate dis
closed a bitter feud between Seuator
Hill and Senator Yancey. In the
heat of debate Hill struck Yancey a
hard blow and felled him to thc floor.
It is said that Yancey never entirely
recovered from the effect of it, aud
that it shortened bis life. The Senate
passed a resolution that no account of
it should be published.
No records of the Confederate State
department were found among the
surrendered archiv?e. Certainly there
must have been such records, but
what became of them has never been
disclosed. In the records of the Con
federate Congress, however, were
found many interesting papers sent
there by the State department in an
swer to resolutions of the Senate from
time to time. In this way we have
copies of many letters written fron
France and England by Mason and
Sidell. Judah P. Benjamin was Sec
retary of State at Richmond at the
time of the downfall of the govern
ment. He made his way to Cuba anc
thence to England, where he evei
afterwards resided. Whether he tool
the records of his department witt
him, or destroyed them, or hid them
has nover been known.
Nap oh cn III Deceived the South.
Here and there among the recordi
of the Confederate war department
and the letters of Mason and Sidell
mentioned as found in congressional
proceedings, we find that the Goofed
orate government had secret agents ii
France, England, Germany and th
Netherlands. We ascertained th
names of some of these. The letter
from these men detail the efforts mad
in France, England and Holland to oh
tain recognition abroad. If we cai
rely on the letters written from Paris
found among the congressional re
cords, tho late Louis Napoleon bel
out hopes of ultimate recognition, an
kept the Confederate representativ
at Paris in a constant state of ezpec
tanoy. We know now, however, tha
the wily emperor did not intend t
recognise the Confederaoy, but kop
Confederate envoys dangling at th
end of his fishing polo, playing wit
them for politioal purposes, in ordc
to keep tho United States in suffioiec
awo to prevent an interference wit
his plans for the establishment c
Maximilian on the throne of Mexioc
The Confederacy firmly expected rt
cognition and the letters from Pari
held out hopes to the last. 'The lei
tors from England were not so buoj
ant. While many of tho nobilit
favored tho South, the middle olassei
on account of slavery, were not t
There were also among the archive
incomplete reoordsof the Confedera!
treasury department, showing the roi
tine business, issues of treasury cote
and bonds of various denomination
Everyone has seen specimens of thei
and a description of them is not n
oessary. Tho heads represented c
^ them were these cf Jefferson Davi
Alexander H. Stephens, "Stonewall
Jackson, Mr. Trenholm and Mr. Men
inger. The South had few facilitr
for the manufacturo of suitable pap
for suoh purposes or for engravin
Tho bonds and notes presented rath
a shabby appearance, when oompan
with those of the United States. Se
eral large dry goods boxes, sontainii
Confederate money and bonds, we
found among the records. The f*
value of them amounted to many m
lions of dollars, but the market val
was quite another thing. Our offer
turn the boxes of money ov r to t
United States treasury, to be held 1
tho treasurer, was regarded as t
standing joke of the season. F. '.
Spinner, the treasurer, deolarod th
the war department must not make t
ornee a dumping ground nor an "0
Curiosity Shop." Besides that, he
insisted no one was so well qualified
to hold tho money of the deceased as
the "administrator of the late lament
ed." So we had to hold the money,
but we were not required to give any
bond on that account, and thc auditor
of the treasury never asked auyone for
an accounting along that line. Gen
eral T. T. Eckert, assistant secretary
of war, jocosely remarked that the
more a man had of that kind of money
the poorer ho was. So great had the
value of the money depreciated in the
latter days of thc war that a pair of
boots cost $100, and it required more
than that to pay a week's board. It
was jokingly remarked that a head of
a family needed a market basket full
of money to buy a basket full of pro
visions. This rise in the price of the
necessities of life caused the authori
ties at Richmond to appoint commis
sioners to ^T?gulate the price of the
commodities used in daily life. In
the archives wc often ran across lists
of prices established hy these commis
sioners. Paper for writiog or print
ing was very scarce in many parts of
tho South. Some of the official re
turns made by officers to the govern
ment wore written on wall paper, and
envelopes were often mado of the
same material. Paper for printing
hank notes was so scarce that they
used ?"??ne times old paper of broken
or su. pended hanks and printed new
bills^of current hauks on thc reverse
side of thc suspended bauk and can
celled tho old hills with a stamp.
Very few of the records of the Con
federate navy were captured. Per
haps sumo of tho missing papers oi
the navy and State departments were
accidentally burned at Richmond at
the time of the exacuation. There fell
iuto our hands much that related tc
blockade running and correspondence
with ageuts in Europe. This corre
Bpondenoe was preserved on account
of having been sent to Mr. Seddon
secretary of war, and these lettcrf
were kept at the Confederate wai
When the Confederate forces wen
driven out of New Orleans, and after
wards.from Baton Rouge they carrier,
away with t..em old records relating
to the time when Louisiana was i
Spanish, and afterwards French prov
ince. They also took with them thi
records of the Supreme Court of th?
State. These records drifted abou
from pillar to post in Louisiana an?
Texas within the lines of General E
K. Smith, and when he surrenderee
to General Frank B. Heron of th
United States volunteer forces, thee
records of the State of Louisiana wen
with the other property and fouu
their way to Washington. Old, dust
and crumbling with age, the record?
written in Spanish and Frenoh over
hundred years ago, were quaint an
interesting as a study of a bygone age
They were in strange contrast wit
the records whioh were the product c
the war. Old fashioned paper manu
factured before any of the actors i
the civil war were born, tied togethe
with ribbons, whioh was the style i
the days of Spanish and French ru!
when high officials of noble blood re]
resented their sovereigns beyond tl
sea, an air of departed aristoorao
hovered over the papers. Stately ac
dignified to the last degree were tl
doouments they handled and oareful!
filed away for our respectful invest
gatioo. We could almost imagine v
saw the knightly royal officers wi
had written and signed tnem in the
Toyal master's name. The dooumen
survived to tell their story of tl
kingly days on Amerioan soil loi
after the hands whioh had writti
them had crumbled to dust. T
doouments were cared for and at
later day when peace had fully coi
they were restored to the State
One San's Double Dealing.
For obvious reasons I wiihhold t
name, but for the sake of couvenien
I will oall him Colonel T. He was
Southern birth and education, b
lived in a Northern State before t
war and when it began. He too)
prominent part in politics, and opel
and boldly proclaimed his sentimei
in favor of the Southern cause. Th
came the firing on Sumter and t
President's call for troops to put do
the secession movement. To the s
priso of everyone, among the first
enlist in the State where he was livi
was Colonel T. He obtained a cc
mission as major in the volunteer s
vioc. From that moment he seen
like a ohaoged man. He expresi
no more sympathy for the South?
oause, but entered heartily into <
Union service. His regiment was
dered to the front and participated
many battles. He was not defioi
in personal oourago, and was promo
for bravery on the field of battle,
the close of the war his regiment 01
to Washington with Sherman's ari
Ho rod* ?*. fhn o panel raviAV in M
1865, wearing th<-. star of a brigac
After the disbanding of tho vol
teers forces ho'sought a poaitioi
the regular army. Friends in h
official circles testified to his gallar
and to wounds reoeived in tho serv
But his was the fate of Tantalus. 1
ooveted prite of a commission
snatched from his outstretched ha
by a circumstance as unforeseen as it
was dramatic. Just at that time the
Confederate archives arrived in Wash
ington and were being inspected.
Among the papers and letters captured
from Jefferson Davis was one from
Colonel T. * lt waB written to Mr.
Davis one or two months before the
firing on Sumter. It addressed him
as an old friend and acquaintance of
years gone by, approved of his course
and expressed a wish for the success
of the Confederate causo, and closed
with a request for acommission in tho
Southern army. There was no evi
dence that Davis had ever answered
the letter, no indorsement by him be
yond the date of receipt. By one of
those striking coincidences which arc
sometimes met with in history, and
startle us by the exactness with which
they matoh the occasion, this letter to
Mr. Davis was resurrected from the
officia! graveyard tofrhich the Con
federate chief had consigned it and
hundred.-; of similar letters during the
four years of war, and was carried to
the Secretary, Mr. Stanton. Thus it
came to pass that on a bright summer
morning Mime months after the war
there lay on the dei;k of the Secretary
the application of the colonel asking
for a commission in thc regular ser
vice, and by its side this ghastly let
ter for former years.
Could tho letter of 1861 and the ap
plication of 18G5 have been vitalized
and made to assume human shape they
would have stood arrayed against each
other in armed hostility, so divergent
were they in sentiment. The ghost of
1801 murdered the bright and loyal
hopes of 1865. The four years of
fighting, the soars received in battle,
were all outweighed by thc words of
the ill omened letter, written perhaps
in a moment of haste and indiscretion,
and before the feelings of the people
had crystalled into that all consum
ing loyalty which swept over the
North after the fall of Sumter. He
did not get his commission. He
sought a civil position in the West at
the hands of President Johnson. His
name was sent in to the Senate by the
Executive, but the Senate and the
President were not on speaking terms
just at that time, and spent their time
principally in making faces at eaoh
other from opposite ends of Pennsyl
vania avenue. The Senators had
heard of the letter and sent for a cer
tified copy of it. The reading of the
letter caused tho Senator? to say "no"
with emphasis. Than letter came up
against him every time he applied for
a position and defeated him. I am
not discussing whether this result was
right. I am ouly stating facts.
A man had been absent for some
time, and during his absence had
raised a pretty luxuriant crop of
whiskers, mustache, etc. On return
ing home he visited a relative, whose
little girl he was very fond of.
The little girl made no demonstra
tion toward saluting him with a kiss,
as was usual.
"Why, ohild," said the mother,
"don't you give Unole Will a kiss?"
"Why, ma," returned the little girl,
with the most perfect simplicity, "I
don't see any place!"
- A Germam inventor has produced
an instrument to assist people to
swallow pills. A small apparatus is
plaoed in the mouth so that the open
tube goes olose to the throat, the end
is pressed and the pill is on its travel
before the taker is svfare of the faot.
- No wonder E*e didn't care for
the Garden of Eden when-no furs were
- Tho bigger a woman is in some
spots the more ohp wishes she .were
not so in some other spots.
The woman who reads this will under
stand to the full what Mrs. Tipton meant
when alie says; ?I am enjoying good
many women who jjjpP^^^ ^^^B
women, heals in? 81 iBwre^ffi^Sj
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