November 17, 1864, T. W. Brevard, "Camp Near Petersburg, Va" to "My Dear Father"
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The re-election of Lincoln gives us the certainty of four more years of
war, if the people of the North refuse to submit to the exhausting drain
upon their individual population, made constantly necessary by the
bloody and wasting campaigns of his main armies, and European
Governments depart from the non-intervention policy. The first contingency
is extremely improbable. The Northern people are completely in subjection
to the Washington Government. No ruler is more absolute than Lincoln,
practically; he commands the entire resources of his county and wields
the people of his nation as a sword. We have long ago ceased to hope for
foreign intervention. There is no earthly chance for terms of agreement,
which the re-constructionists urge (and I acknowledge that I am very glad
of it) for Lincoln makes it a condition precedent even to the reception of
the commissioners, that we shall lay down our arms and abolish slavery.
It is fortunate for us that he makes the issue so broadly. It has already
silenced many submissionists who admit themselves willing to comply
with the terms preliminary to negotiations. We stand therefore at the
expiration of nearly four years of bloodshed, in the face of a powerful
military despotism, armed with every possible warlike appointment and
equipment, determined not upon reestablishing the Union, but upon our
subjugation, and we have no choice but to fight for it to the bitter end.
Long ago I said, and I think so expressed myself in a letter to you, that
the great danger to be apprehended in our struggle was the possible
depression and arrest of fortitude on the part of our people—in and out of
the army—in the event of Lincoln’s re-election, and the prospect of four
years more of war. That test has come upon the country and may God
grant the people of the South strength and grace to look the prospect
bravely in the face, and to meet the issue honestly and defiantly.
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