Spirit of Our Army
As written by the Confederate men and soldiers in February of 1865 to express their devotion to the Cause.
This was the righteous Spirit of the Army.
The resolutions which have been passed by the various regiments of the Confederate army, and which they have published to the world, ring like inspiring trumpet tones on the air. Wherever else the paralyzing suggestions of despondency and doubt are heard, they cannot affect the iron nerves of those heroes who have borne the brunt of this war; who have endured the winter's frosts and the summer's heat; who have slept on the bare ground, have lived on the coarsest food, marched weary miles in bare feet, poured out their blood like summer rain, and stood like a living wall between their country and its enemies. These are the men who send forth words of hope and cheer and high resolve, and whose heroic souls, like the Aeolian harp, give forth stronger strains as the tempest increases. Whatever others may dream, subjugation is a word which is not found in their vocabulary, and which it would not be safe for friend or foe to utter in their presence. They proclaim their fixed and unchangeable determination to conquer or die; and it is the army which is the country. They have no thought of permitting all their labors, privations, perils, to go for naught, nor of suffering the blood of their fallen comrades to cry in vain from the ground. Whatever others may do, the heroes of the Confederacy neither intend nor desire to survive their country. They love her, and they believe in her also; their faith and hope are equal to their valor and devotion, and their trust in God is firm and unwavering. Noble men!--The world has never seen their like.
At a meeting of Captain W. S. Griffin's Company A, Eighteenth Virginia battalion artillery, held in the trenches on Chaffin's farm, on Monday, the 20th instant, Private Joseph R. Briggs was called to the chair, and Private Richard S. Boykin appointed secretary.
On motion, the Chairman appointed Lieutenant W. H. Stephenson, Sergeant James M. Gardner, Corporal J. H. Drake, Privates Charles F. Pretlow and J. T. Halcomb, to draft a preamble and resolutions for the adoption of the meeting.
During the absence of the committee the meeting was addressed by Captain W. S. Griffin and Lieutenants S. W. Cobb and K. R. Griffin in eloquent and appropriate speeches.
The committee, after a short absence, reported the following preamble and resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:
"Whereas, the country demands the concerted and vigorous support of every loyal Confederate to sweep from its consecrated soil the ruthless invader who is seeking to destroy our institutions, to deprive us of the claims of freemen, and wrest from us the right of self- government; and whereas, the Old Dominion (of which we are children) has sacrificed many of her noble sons to defend her ancient pride and honor, to obliterate disgrace from the annals of her future history; therefore
"Resolved, That we renew our fidelity to our country and its cause, and pledge ourselves to perform cheerfully all the duties of a soldier that points to the welfare of our country.
"Resolved, That our confidence in the ultimate success of our arms has been renewed in view of the appointment of our much beloved chieftain, R. E. Lee, to the supreme command of the armies of the Confederate States; that we will give to him our hearty support in prosecuting this war to an honorable end.
"Resolved, That we have unlimited confidence in the wisdom and patriotism of our representatives in Congress and the Virginia Legislature, and we earnestly solicit them (if, in their judgment, the crisis demands it,) to tender to our beloved President the slaves of Virginia to aid in driving from our soil the nefarious invader who now pollutes it.
"Resolved, That we will willingly sacrifice our lives on the altar of liberty rather than suffer the desecration of those consecrated spots sacred to the memory of the honored slain; that we will accept of no peace that does not look to the glory, honor and independence of the South.
"Resolved, That we implore the ladies (and such men as are incapable of bearing arms) to identify their interest with that of their country and aid in sending delinquents to the field; that those who croak, or countenance the skulker and deserter, are enemies to our cause, and unworthy of freedom.
"Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to our representatives in Congress and the Virginia Legislature, and a copy to the Richmond papers for publication.
Joseph R. Briggs, Chairman.
Richard S. Boukin, Secretary.
A Voice from the Army of the Valley of Virginia.
Camp of Smith's Brigade, February 10, 1865
At a meeting of the Thirty-sixth and Sixtieth regiments and Forty-fifth battalion of Virginia infantry, Smith's brigade, Wharton's division, near Fishersville, Virginia, the following preamble and resolutions were unanimously adopted:
‘ Whereas the arms of the Confederate States, during the recent campaigns, have sustained serious reverses, which have caused an undue despondency in some portions of our country, and created an unpatriotic doubt as to the final result of our struggle, and induced some to entertain the treasonable thought of making terms unworthy of freemen with the enemy that seeks to destroy them: therefore, we, the officers and soldiers of the Thirty-sixth and Sixtieth regiments and Forty-fifth battalion Virginia infantry, do resolve,
I. That in the beginning of this revolution we volunteered in response to the first call of our country to battle for the sovereign right of self-government; and that after four years of terrible war with the savage foe who seeks our subjection, we are still firm in our determination to achieve our independence, or to perish nobly struggling for it.
II. That in the cause of our country is involved all we hold dear; that it has been consecrated by the blood of those heroes who have fallen in its defence, and by the blessings of Almighty God manifested on many occasions, and that we once more renew our vows to adhere to it through weal or woe.
III. That whilst we will hail with joy that peace which brings to us the recognition of our independence and assigns us our proper place in the family of nations, we cast from us with scorn the arrogant and insolent propositions recently made to our commissioners by Abraham Lincoln, as representative of the people of the United States, and respectfully urge our Government to apply every resource of the country to the vigorous and untiring prosecution of the war as the only means of obtaining an honorable peace.
IV. That we send this declaration greeting to our friends at home — within our lines and on the border of Western Virginia--and bid them be of good cheer, and "never despair of the Republic."
V. That copies of these resolutions be sent to our Representatives in the General Assembly of Virginia and in the Congress of the Confederate States, and also to the newspapers in Richmond, with the request that they be published.
[Many of the members of the above brigade are from Northwestern Virginia, and have not seen their homes since the beginning of the war.]
Camp of the Fifteenth
Fort Gilmer, February 9, 1865.
At a meeting of companies B, G. and I, of the Fifteenth Virginia infantry, Corse's brigade, Pickett's division, the following preamble and resolutions were adopted without a dissenting voice:
Whereas, an unreasonable amount of gloom and despondency has seized hold of the minds of many of our citizens and soldiers, because of the recent reverses to our arms: we, as a component part of the Army of Northern Virginia, nothing daunted, come with renewed vows and an unflinching determination to be free, and say to our people be of good cheer; therefore, be it
1st. Resolved, That we have battled too long, shed too much good blood, and are engaged in too holy and too glorious a cause ever to submit to a fanatical and vindictive foe. That we will have no terms or propositions except such as will guarantee to us our rights as a free and independent people.
2nd. That we will press on to the goal, a recognition of our independence, as long as the great Jehovah gives us life — as long as strong arms can wield a glistening blade — and as long as we are sustained by our good people at home.--That we can never lay down our arms as long as the dastard hirelings of a bloodthirsty Government treads foot on Southern soil. We have seen with holy indignation the sufferings and wrongs of our noble women — the base treatment of grey-haired sires — the burnings of our houses — the despoiling of Southern territory, nearly four long years. These barbarous acts of mercenary hirelings have been countenanced by a despotic ruler, a desperately wicked administration and a malignant people.
3rd. That, in view of these things so degrading to our enemy, we call upon the Lord our God, to whom belonged vengeance, and renewing our allegiance to the good old mother of States and our Southern sisters, we buckle on, with renewed strength and redoubled energies, our burnished armors, and go forth conquering and to conquer, in a cause as just as ever a people espoused.
4th. That we see nothing in the present aspect of affairs in our country that should cause us to mourn as a people without hope — but to the contrary, we honestly believe that by the manifestation of a little fortitude and patience, and by a firm and united action on the part of our citizens at home, and the army in the field, we can and will successfully maintain our independence and conquer a peace that will give us a name and a place among the nations of the earth.
5th. That a copy of these resolutions be sent to brigade headquarters and to the Richmond papers for publication.
At a meeting of the Twenty-sixth Virginia cavalry, held this day, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
Whereas, Abraham Lincoln, representative of the United States Government, regardless of the commonest dictates of humanity in the late interview with our commissioners, has indicated a fixed purpose and design to place in bondage the free and sovereign States of this Confederacy, and thereby reduce to absolute vassalage the citizens of the same; and whereas, he predicts his ability to carry out his fiendish purposes upon the presumed discontent in our army; therefore be it
1. "Resolved, That we, the Twenty-sixth regiment Virginia cavalry, Jackson's brigade, send greeting to our comrades in arms throughout the Confederacy our firm and inflexible determination to accept the gage of battle tendered by the Northern hirelings, and, with a firm reliance upon Almighty God, never, never to lay down our arms until we have secured the priceless boon of liberty.
2. "Resolved, That, amidst the trials and privations of army life, we are cheered by the prayers and smiles of the matrons and daughters of the South, and we pledge our every energy to protect them from the foul invader.
3. "Resolved, That we look down with utter scorn and contempt upon the subjugated speculator and extortioner, and we call upon our companions-in-arms, as well as the patriotic citizens, to brand them as enemies, to be remembered by all in the same list with the hated foe.
4. "Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to Hon. Allen T. Caperton, Confederate States Senate; Hon. Robert Johnson, Confederate States House of Representatives, and Hugh Sheffey, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, with a request that they be read before their respective Houses; and that the Richmond and Lynchburg papers be requested to publish them as an expression of our sentiments."
Lieutenant-Colonel H. D. Ruffner,
Major J. G. Gittings, Secretary.
Camp Twenty-sixth regiment Virginia cavalry, Jackson's brigade, February 14, 1865.
Of Forsberg's Brigade, Wharton's Division.
At a meeting of Forsberg's Brigade, Wharton's Division, Army of the Valley, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That whilst we thus meet to pledge anew our devotion to our country, and our determination to spare no efforts nor exertions for the maintenance of this struggle for independence; a struggle in which we cheerfully and readily cast our lots, in its very commencement
Resolved, That whilst ardently desirous of peace and its attendant blessings, we are convinced that we are dealing with a crafty, cruel and merciless foe, whom we distrust so much, that, were he to come with the Bible in one hand, we would look for the dagger in the other; and we know that while he proffers us peace, he plans our destruction.
Resolved, That we feel deeply the insult lately offered lo freemen through our commissioners, and spurn, with indignation, the bare idea of peace upon such disreputable terms; and sooner than submit to such, in the language of President Davis, "we will claim that which no enemy can dispossess us of, the right to maintain our personal honor and the right to fill an honorable grave."
Resolved, That with the great and glorious Lee — the Christian gentleman and chivalrous soldier — for our leader, we are content to cast the interests of our struggling; country, believing that his cool judgment and soldierly ability and Christian conduct, will eventually lead us forth to victory, honor and liberty.
Resolved, That Forsberg's Brigade feel unbounded confidence in our rulers — that we cherish admiration for are devotion to our cause, and, with the blessings of God, we here again pledge our arms and hearts, our lives, our all to the great interest of this struggle, firmly resolved that upon our army's success alone rests our independence. To this end we are prepared to fight our battles over again and conquer peace and prosperity for our sunny South.
Private 45th Va. Regt.
Ser'gt Major 30th Batt.
Private 50th Ga. Regt.
Captain 51st Va. Regt.
Hon. F. M. Waller:
The above is a true copy of the resolutions of this brigade, which near a month ago, was sent to the Examiner, but they have not been published. When you present them to Congress, please say that they were adopted near a month ago.
PETER J. OTEY, Major Act.
Adopted by the Staunton Artillery February 1, 1865
At a meeting of the Staunton Artillery, held at their camp near Fishersville, on the 1st of February, 1865, Captain A. W. Garber was called to the chair, and Sergeant A. S. Spitzer was appointed Secretary.
Lieutenant A. H. Fultz offered the following preamble and resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:
Are are fighting for our liberty! The despondency talked of does not exist in the army. The same spirit animates us now which inspired us in 1861. We are determined never to acquiesce in any accommodation short of the independence of our Confederacy. We believe this to be the spirit of the whole army, and we appeal to the people of our loved homes to respond to it; especially, we demand it of our Congress. We do therefore Resolve;
1st. We know no such word as fail in this contest.
2nd. We will never consent to any peace which does not assure our independence and liberty.
3rd. We ask our Representatives in Congress to present our humble views, and to pledge us to stand by the glorious South till the last man has shed his last drop of blood.
On motion of Sergeant John Butler,
Resolved. That our hearts have been cheered, and our hands strengthened, by the evidence of kind feelings afforded us by our fellow-countrymen and fair country-women in the bountiful repast provided for us on the 28th instant, and we now renew our pledge, given nearly four years since, to defend their liberties and ours, to the bitter end.
A. W. GARBER, Chairman.
A. S. Spitzer, Secretary.
Meeting of the Thirty-first Virginia regiment, of Pegram’s Brigade.
Immediately after dress parade, on February 1st, 1865, a meeting was organized in the Thirty-first Virginia regiment by calling Captain N. Glaerson to the chair, and appointing Dr. S. Buttermore secretary.
Major H. P. Cooper explained the object of the meeting, and offered the following preamble and resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:
“Whereas, it is the duty, as it is the privilege of freemen to express their sentiments upon all subjects affecting the public weal, we, the officers and men of the Thirty-first Virginia regiment, do therefore.
“Resolve, That we have entire confidence in the President, the members of his Cabinet, both Houses of Congress, and our commanding officers.
“Resolved, That we denounce all fault-finding croakers as enemies of their country — detest their pretended sympathy, and decline their friendship.
“Resolved, That we pity our weak-kneed, desponding brethren, both citizens and soldiers, (if there are any such soldiers,) and say unto them: ‘Be of good cheer'; do but half your duty to your God, your country and yourselves, and all will be well.
“Resolved, That we took up arms to achieve our independence, and that four years of hardships and privations, as well as the blood of our slaughtered comrades, demand that we shall lay them down only when that purpose is accomplished.
“Resolved, That the Richmond papers be requested to publish the proceedings of this meeting.”
After which the meeting adjourned.
N. Clawson, Chairman.
S. Buttermore, Secretary.
Resolutions of the Fifty-Second Virginia regiment.
Camp Pegram’s Brigade, February 2, 1865
Preamble and resolutions adopted by the Fifty-second Virginia regiment:
“Whereas, the Southern States never bound themselves to make the union that they formed with those of the North a permanent one; and, whereas, the war waged against us to make it such against our will is unjust: be it, therefore,
1. “Resolved, That we have as good right to be free and to govern ourselves as our enemies have, and that we are unwilling to forfeit that right by accepting at their hands any terms short of independence.
2. “That we are firmly convinced that a valorous zeal and steady adherence to the determination to conquer by force of arms cannot fail to reward us with an honorable peace; that with our resources and an inflexible resolution to be free, subjugation is impossible, and that should we be conquered, it will not be by the stern valor of our foes, but by a want of firmness and determination in ourselves.
3. “That we ever acknowledge the hand of Providence in our past successes, and that we trust in the righteousness of our cause and in the justice of our God, and lean upon His strong arm for deliverance in time to come.
4. “That these are our sentiments, and that a copy of this preamble and resolutions be sent for publication to the Richmond Examiner and Dispatch, the Staunton Vindicator and Lexington Gazette.”
The above preamble and resolutions were enthusiastically adopted by this regiment without a dissenting vote.
C. B. Coiner, Captain commanding regiment.
60th Virginia Infantry Regiment