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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: February 18, 1862

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-Page 01-

Description of Page: Various reports from the battlefield including political and military developments. Fort Donelson and Roanoke Island among the battles reported. Col. 7 local ads and notices.

Our Recent Reverses
(Column 1)
Summary: Article encourages Southerners to take heart in view of recent reverses on the battlefield and asks that the soldiers re-enlist when their terms of service expire. The article suggests that the enemy is plagued by financial woes and cannot continue much longer.
Full Text of Article:

We are not disposed to take a gloomy view of the seemingly sad reverses with which our arms have recently met. We do not feel discouraged by them; on the contrary, we believe that they will eventually result in good to the cause of the South. "The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower."

These reverses are but the thunder-claps which were necessary to arouse the giant of Southern energy from its false repose. We had indulged too long a fancied security, and it was necessary for our good that we should be aroused to a proper sense of our duty under the trying circumstances by which we are surrounded. We were enjoying our otium cum dignitate, and acting as though there was no one to molest or make us afraid, whilst a powerful and ruthless enemy was exerting all of his energies, with might and main, to prepare and equip an enormous force to fall upon us unexpectedly at some weak and unprotected point. That he should succeed in gaining a few successes, after so much vigilance and preparation on his part, and such carelessness and listlessness on ours, furnishes no cause of wonder or alarm. The news of these reverses falls upon the ears of the brave and patriotic like the sound of the trumpet calling to arms, and inspires them with a determination to buckle on their armor and rally, with the spirit of heroes, to the defence of the banner of freedom and independence. Whilst we felt secure, our volunteers, who have been for a long time in the service, and who were beginning to pine for the sweet pleasures of home, were hesitating whether or not they would re-enlist; but we mistake their spirit for bravery and patriotism, if the news of our recent reverses does not determine nearly every one to re-enlist with an increased determination to meet and conquer the enemy, and to share in the glory of establishing the freedom and independence of their country. They have acquired a name and fame which they will not tarnish by laying down their arms when their country and their dear native State calls most loudly for the services of their brave hearts and strong arms. The Yankees may be guilty of the shame and infamy of disbanding and returning home when the sound of hostile cannon was reverberating in their ears, but Southerners cannot be guilty of such dastardly conduct.--We believe confidently that nine-tenths of the Virginia volunteers will now re-enlist promptly and cheerfully, and we have no reason to believe that the troops from other Southern States will act less bravely and patriotically. This is one good effort, which we expect to result from our recent reverses.

Another is, that it will have a similar effect upon those who are not now in the service. We believe that thousands will now cheerfully volunteer, who have not done so heretofore, for the reason that they did not feel that their services were needed. Now that they are conscious of the necessity of their services, they will cheerfully offer them to the Confederacy. We do not believe that the patriotic spirit which animates the sons of this good old county will ever allow the necessity of a draft upon its citizens. The number of volunteers required will promptly step forth when their State calls for them.--This county has too fair a name and her sons are too proud of it to allow the stigma of a forced draft to be put upon it. They feel that to volunteer is brave, commendable, and patriotic, and that, as volunteers, they can, with heads erect, walk with bold and manly step, whilst as draftsmen, they would hobble along as convicts enforced to the performance of a reluctant and disagreeable duty. We cherish the hope that the required number to furnish the quota of this State will cheerfully volunteer.

Another good effect which we expect to result from these reverses is, that our officials, upon whom the heaviest responsibility rests, will be awakened to the necessity of exercising more vigilance, activity and energy.

Last, but not least, is the effect it will have upon the conduct of the enemy. The finances of the enemy are now in a precarious condition, and another pound put upon the back of the camel will break it down. The following is the view of the Richmond Examiner upon this point:

The enemy's exultation over their recent achievements will be extravagant enough; and the Federal Congress will be emboldened to enact all the measures required by the war. The demand note bill will go through the Senate with the legal tender clause; and the tax bill, levying a hundred and fifty millions from the people, will become a law. Expenditures, which might otherwise have been abstained from, will be boldly rushed into; and the government will get more deeply involved in debt than ever.

If it had been possible before to save the Northern finances, it will not be now. The government will take a new plunge into the sea of financial trouble, and this time into deep waters that have no bottom. The legal tender clause of their treasury note bill will cut down the wealth of the entire creditor classes, and impose the chief burdens of the war, in the most odious form, upon the men who have so far contributed to it the most important aid. The rich will be disgusted by the unjust and unequal measure, and the poor be burdened by the heaviest tax they have ever yet had to shoulder. The bills enforcing these measures might have hung fire in the Federal Congress for a long time, but for the brave news coming up to it from Tennessee and North Carolina; they will now become laws, and the Northern people be made to feel, in all its weight, the burden of debt which their mad and bloody policy has imposed upon them forever.

It may, therefore, after all, be a kind Providence that has directed the recent reverses of the South. If they be the means of plunging the enemy still deeper into debt, and of securing the passage of measures which will bring home the war to the pockets of the Northern people, they may prove more fortunate in ultimate consequences than the many victories we gained to the field. These victories incensed them, and combined the whole public sentiment to support of the war. The successes they have now achieved will somewhat soothe their exasperated feelings, while the losses and taxes imposed by the new financial measures of Congress will tend to cool the ardour with which they have urged on the war.

Now is the Time for Action
(Column 3)
Summary: Article asserts that Southern victories while the North is reeling from financial trouble are crucial to attract foreign symoathy and discourage the North from continuing the fight.
(Column 3)
Summary: Article reports the circulation of petitions seeking to ban the use of grain for distilling liquors.
Full Text of Article:

Petitions are in circulation in this county praying the Legislature "speedily to enact the necessary laws to suppress the consumption of grain in the manufacture of spirituous liquour, on account of the numerous evils resulting to the country, under existing circumstances, from the increase of distilleries.["]

We have no doubt that these petitions will be numerously signed, as an overwhelming majority of the people feel that some effective step should be taken to prevent such immense quantities of corn and rye from being converted from a blessing into a curse--from being changed from a supporter into a destroyer of life. It is supposed that, in this county, FIFTY THOUSAND bushels of grain are consumed monthly by the fifty or sixty distilleries which are now in active operation. In Richmond, it is said, that one large distillery there consumes a thousand bushels per day. As liquor will command any price, the distilleries can afford to pay an enormous price for grain, and the consequence will be that corn will become so high in price that the poor will have to suffer, as they will not be able to buy.

The Richmond Dispatch says that "the consumption of grain in North Carolina for whiskey was so great, that the press predicts that corn will be worth $5 PER BUSHEL IN THE SUMMER, unless the distilleries are suppressed."

In reference to the traffic in ardent spirits at this time the same paper says:

"The authorities ought to take this subject in hand. Sumptuary laws are in general improper and odious, but in times of great public emergency like the present, the sale of ardent spirits ought to be suppressed as a measure of public safety and military discipline. The Southern Confederacy would be better off if every drop of spirituous liquors now within its borders were emptied into the sea. The Northern authorities seeing the havoc that hard drinking was doing their armies, have taken strong measures to suppress it. Here is one instance in which we may learn a valuable lesson from the enemy. What can be done in this matter? Who will suggest the proper remedy for an evil crying aloud for reform?"

"If there should be a scarcity of grain commencing in the spring, and the next crop should fail, or not be a good one, what would be the dreadful consequences? That possibility must be taken into view in considering this question."

Return the Public Arms
(Column 3)
Summary: Article reports a request by Col. E P. Alexander, Chief of Ordnance, C.S.A, that all citizens in possession of Confederate arms return the immediately to the ordnance office.
War Upon the "Perfidious Destroyer"
(Column 3)
Summary: Article reports that Brigadier Gen. Edward Johnson has banned liquor from his 3rd Brigade in West Virginia. Gen. Johnston has issued similar orders at Manassas.
Col. Wm. S. H. Baylor
(Column 3)
Summary: Item reports that Col. Baylor is raising a regiment of infantry in Augusta Co.
(Names in announcement: Col. William S. Baylor)
Military Organization
(Column 5)
Summary: A speech from Gov. Letcher outlining a plan for the defense of Virginia cities and towns.
Consumption of Corn - The Whiskey Distilleries
(Column 5)
Summary: Article reports that the War Department will shortly issue an order directing the seizure of all corn currently held for the purpose of distilling liquor.
Origin of Article: Richmond Dispatch
[No Title]
(Column 5)
Summary: Item repors that John D. Imboden will arrive soon to address the people on war matters.
(Names in announcement: Capt. John D. Imboden)
(Column 5)
Summary: Marriage of Magnus Crane to Ella Sibert.
(Names in announcement: Rev. John Pinkerton, Magnus S. Crane, Ella R. Sibert, Lorenzo Sibert)
(Column 5)
Summary: Death of Sophia Bell.
(Names in announcement: Sophia Bell, John Bell)
(Column 5)
Summary: Death of Esmonia Long.
(Names in announcement: Esmonia Bell Long, Emanuel Long, Amanda Long)
By the Governor of Virginia. A Proclamation.
(Column 6)
Summary: Proclamation by the Governor recommending the general draft of troops to defend the approaches to cities and towns.
A Deserter! $80 Reward.
(Column 7)
Summary: Notice offers reward for the return of William Temple, who deserted from Camp Alleghany.
(Names in announcement: William Temple)
Head Quarters 100th Regiment Virginia Militia.
(Column 7)
Summary: Notice calls for the asssembly of the members of the 100th at the Hastings Court of Staunton.
(Names in announcement: Lt. Col. John H. Crawford)

-Page 02-

Description of Page: Col. 1 continuation of Governor's proclamation regarding the militia draft. Reports of military maneuvers. Remainder of page ads and local notices.

Contributions for the Northwestern Virginia Refugees
(Column 2)
Summary: List of donations received for the refugee soldiers of the 31st regiment.
(Names in announcement: Mrs. Charles Wade, Mrs. James Dover, Mrs. Chittum, Mrs. D. H. Bird, Mrs. William Campbell, Miss Lizzie Byrd, Miss Mary Byrd, Miss Kate Bird, Miss Fannie Bird, Miss Maggie Bird, Mrs. P. Bird, Miss Carrie Matheny, Mrs. J. W. Canter, Mrs. Thomas Campbell, Miss Maggie Bonser, Mrs. A. O. Wade, Miss Lizzie Kelley, Mrs. G. H. Bird, Mrs. J. H. Kider, Mrs. J. F. Patterson, Mrs. A. Gilmore, Miss Mahala Bird, Mrs. E. Seybert, Mrs. D. Matheny, Mrs. Margaret Ruckman, Mrs. D. V. Ruckman, J. C. Bird, Mrs. A. Wade, Miss Fannie Wade, Miss Kate Wade)