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1863 August 15: Address of Jefferson Davis

August 20, 2013

From the August 8, 1863, issue of The Prescott Journal comes this report on a speech made by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Address of Jeff. Davis.

BALTIMORE, August 8.

The American of this evening has Richmond papers of the 5th, which contain the following address of the President to the soldiers of the Confederate States:

After more than two years of warfare scarcely equalled in the number, magnitude and carnage of its battles, a warfare in which your courage and fortitude have illustrated your country, and attracted not only gratitude at home but admiration abroad—your enemy continues a struggle in which your final triumph must be inevitable; unduly elated with their recent successes, they imagine that temporary reverses can quell your spirits or shake your determination, and they are now gathering heavy masses for a general invasion in the vain hope that by a desperate effort, success may at last be reached.

You know too well my countrymen, what they mean by success.  Then malignant rage aims at nothing less than the extermination of yourselves, your wives and your children.  They seek to destroy what they cannot plunder.  They propose as the spoils of victory that your homes shall be partitioned among wretches whose atrocious cruelty has stamped infamy on their Government.  They design to incite a servile insurrection and light the fires of incendiarism [sic] wherever they can reach your homes, and they debauch an inferior race, heretofore docile and contented, by promising them indulgence of the vilest passions as the price of their treachery.

Conscious of their inability to prevail by legitimate warfare, not daring to make peace lest they should be hurled from their seats of power, the men who rule in Washington refuse to confer on the subject of putting an end to the outrages which disgrace our age, or listen to a suggestion for conducting the war accrding [sic] to the usages of civilization.

FELLOW CITIZENS:—No alternative is left you but victory or subjugation, slavery, and the utter ruin of yourselves, your families, and your country.

The victory is within our reach, and you need but to stretch forth your hands to grasp it.  For this, all that is necessary is, that those who are called to the field, by every motive that can nerve human hearts, should promptly repair to the post of duty and stand by their comrades, now in front of the foe, and thus so strengthen the army of the Confederacy as to ensure success.”

Davis then appeals to those who have absented themselves from their posts to return to duty, and declares general pardon and amnesty to all officers, and men absent without leave who shall without delay return to their posts, or within twenty days after the publication of this proclamation in the State where the absentees may be.

This pardon extends to all who have been accused or convicted and are undergoing sentence for absence without leave or desertion, except those twice convicted of desertion.

He then says, finally:

“I conjure my country women, wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of the Confederacy, to use their all-powerful influence in aid of this call, and to add one crowning sacrifice to those which their patriotism has so freely and constantly offered on their country’s altar, and to take care that none who owe service in the field should be sheltered at home from the disgrace of having deserted their duty to their families, their country and their God.”


By the President.

J. P. BENJAMIN, Sec’y of State.

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