The Salmon P. Chase Papers - Vol. 3

By John Niven; James P. McClure et al. | Go to book overview
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FROM ORMSBY M. MITCHEL

Letter in clerk's hand, signed by Mitchel. Chase Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania (micro 23:0013).

Head Quarters Department of the South

Hilton Head S.C.

September 22d. 1862.

My Dear Governor

We are reluctantly compelled to admit that our Government has not reached the measure of success in waging the present war against the Rebels, which was fairly due to the vast preparations which have been made, and to the large and well appointed armies which have been sent to the field

While the Southern Conspirators exult over the defeat and discomfiture of our Armies, I believe their exultation is far greater, in the fact that the North is still fighting over the dead carcass of Slavery.

Our defeats may be converted into victories, but the divisions in the North engendered by antagonistic views on the subject of Slavery so paralyzed the entire Nation, by making it impossible for the Government to adopt a decisive policy, that our victories are without results, and our most successful campaigns but profitable visits to the enemy's country.

I think a large majority of the People of North, are now desirous of executing the existing laws, and of destroying the institution of Slavery as a War Measure. But the question perpetually recurs, How can this be accomplished and the fatal blow struck at the enemy's power, without involving results and consequences of the most disastrous character to ourselves and to the blacks? All admit that the Slave population of the South, feeding as it does by its labor, the entire country, renders it possible for the Southern States now engaged in rebellion to send to the field and to maintain there, armies out of all just proportion, to the white population found in these Rebellious States. My own experience in penetrating the South at the head of the Third Division of the Army of the Ohio, has demonstrated to me that in case all the slaves from Middle Tennessee and Northern Alabama, could have been removed from the plantations, as our forces advanced in April last, that entire region, would have remained without cultivation, no crops would have been planted or harvested, and in this the most terrible blow would have been struck, from the effects of which the subsequent driving of our troops from that territory could not have relieved the enemy.

All reflecting persons will admit, I think that whenever it shall become possible, to deprive the South of its present Slave labor, the struggle in which we are now engaged will be brought to a speedy termination. But all, dread, the consequences of a sudden and universal

-279-

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