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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: December 15, 1863

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-Page 01-

Description of Page: In addition to various legal announcements and commercial advertisements, this page contains a poem entitled "Suspense." Also, part of the page is illegible.

For the Spectator
(Column 6)
Summary: Remarking on a recent lecture by Dr. O. R. Harris at Churchville, "An Old Man Of the Neighborhood" commended the Doctor for his keen understanding of the issues facing the nation. After reminding the congregation of the parallels between the current situation and that facing our colonial forbearers, the Doctor urged the public to remain of good cheer. He also discussed the current financial problems and the current policy of the government on substitutes.
The Theme of the Secretary of the Treasury For the Relief of the Finances of The Government
(Column 6)
Summary: Details the lengthy plan (14 steps) put forth by Mr. Memminger to deal with the current financial woes of the Confederacy. Most significant is a recommendation that a "new and improved" issue of 200 million dollars be minted and all the old issues be canceled.
Editorial Comment: "The following is the scheme suggested by Mr. Memminger, in his report to Congress, for the relief of Government finances and the improvement of the Confederate currency:"
(Column 7)
Summary: A number of bills were recently introduced into Congress that sought to rectify a number of problems confronting the nation. These included bills to deal with abuses by quartermasters, to pay for slaves impressed under State law, and to prevent the enrolment of substitutes.
Editorial Comment: "Congress assembled on Monday, the 7th inst., and that body seems to be impressed with the importance of the present crisis. We have not room in this issue for much of their proceedings."
(Column 7)
Summary: While conceding that measures to enlist those who had previously avoided military service by purchasing a substitute may indeed be necessary, the Richmond Whig warns that the government must be careful not to violate the good faith pledged and implied by their allowing the process of hiring substitutes. If there is indeed a necessity to alter the situation, the Government should refund the money paid to the substitutes.
Origin of Article: The Richmond Whig
Our Losses At Chattanooga
(Column 7)
Summary: Despite initial reports, it appears that the Confederate losses at Chattanooga were much lighter than feared. The primary loss seems to have been in artillery pieces, but there is "some consolation in the fact that we have more field pieces than we can man."
Origin of Article: The Atlanta Register

-Page 02-

Description of Page: Also miscellaneous advertisements and announcements

General Orders
(Column 1)
Summary: Reprints the orders of S. Cooper dealing with impressment of slaves.
To the Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer and Depositaries of the Confederate States
(Column 1)
Summary: Details the measures Congress has taken to reduce the number of treasury notes in circulation. The most important of these measures was a public offering of twenty-year bonds with interest payable in cotton or coin.
The News
(Column 2)
Summary: Notes the recent actions by Northern forces in Virginia. The author of this article believes that these movements are designed to disguise the transfer of troops from Grant's army to Meade's forces. If the enemy forces do come to Staunton, it is the fervent wish of the citizenry that they be protected by members of the Stonewall Brigade.
Full Text of Article:

Fromt he rumors of the last few days, it would seem that the enemy are making a simultaneous movement in all parts of Western Virginia. They came from Kanawha, and on Saturday last had a fight with Gen. Echols' command, it is reported, at Greenbrier Bridge, three miles East of Lewisburg. Gen. Echols retreated into Monroe County. At the same time a force was threatening Col. Jackson's command in Pocahontas.--He has fallen back, it is reported--to what point we do not know. The enemy also appeared in strong force in the lower part of the Valley. They, we understand, have gone back. At the same time a force under the command of Gen. Averill moved up the South Branch Valley from Hardy County. Supposing it was his object to reach this place Gen. Imboden moved his force from Rockingham County to the Shenandoah Mountain West of this place. As soon as he apprised the authorities here of the movement of the enemy, the regiment of "Augusta Raid Guards" were summoned, [in the absence of Col. Baldwin,] by Lieut. Col. Harper commanding.--They responded very promptly notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather and marched to the expected scene of conflict.

We think it probable that this movement of the enemy in Western Virginia and in the lower part of the Valley is designed to conceal the transfer of troops from the army of Grant to that of Meade.

They desire to keep our troops so far away from the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road as to make it impossible for them to do any damage to that road, and also to prevent them from knowing, if possible, that troops are passing over that route from Grant to Meade. Another object may be to concentrate the forces of Western Virginia, that they may push on to the Virginia and Tennessee Rail Road with the view of cutting off communications with Longstreet and throwing a column in his rear. If either or both of these objects be contemplated by the enemy, the probability is that they will not desire or attempt to get to this place.

If assured that the enemy were trying to reach this place, we would desire to have the gallant and noble soldiers of the Stonewall Brigade within call, for we know that they would take delight in driving the invading foe from the soil of Augusta. How the hearts of our people would leap with joy, if they could greet the arrival of this famous brigade! That Brigade, individually as well as collectively, is dear to the hearts of our people. If the enemy should come, may the Stonewall Brigade be here to see. This is the aspiration of the hearts of all our people.

Fort Sumter
(Column 2)
Summary: A fire of uncertain origin has done some minimal damage to Fort Sumter. While the fire raged, the Union forces tried to take advantage of the situation by initiating an intense bombardment of the fort.
Columbia Furnace Burnt
(Column 2)
Summary: A recent raid by a small force of Union soldiers has managed to destroy the Columbia furnace, which was a major source of supply for the Confederacy.
To Post-Masters
(Column 2)
Summary: The Spectator notes the recent complaints by subscribers about the irregularity of their newspaper delivery. The editor requests that post-masters give special consideration to this matter.
(Column 2)
Summary: An absence of a quorum has delayed the transaction of business at the legislature. The paper assumes that little will be accomplished until after the holidays.
General Morgan
(Column 2)
Summary: Contrary to earlier reports, General Morgan did not head north to Canada after his escape from Ohio. Instead he traveled south and managed to reach the Confederate lines.
Grant Supersedes Meade
(Column 2)
Summary: Notes that General Grant has replaced General Meade as commander of the Army of the Potomac.
To Be Hung
(Column 2)
Summary: Mr. William A. Coffman of Rockingham has been sentenced to death for aiding deserters. His execution is scheduled to take place on December 18th.
The Battle of Payne's Farm
(Column 3)
Summary: Recounts a recent battle near the Rapidan at Payne's Farm. Also included is a list of the casualties from the Fifth Virginia infantry.
(Names in announcement: R. L. Gillick, Sgt. J. H. Lyder, Wash Grin, William Newcomb, Harvey S. Henderson, George L. Berry, Harvey Jamison, H. L. Hamrick, Samuel Lucas, William Karly, Jacob Palmer, John H. Bradley, Joseph H. Thomas, David Campbell, Peter Fitch, John Owen, Geo. W. Wiseman, J. W. Trimble, William Collins, Cornelius Donahoe, Lt. Kizer, Sgt. Bowen, C. H. Jones, Jas. M. Andrews, James Spraught, Chas. Young, Solomon Clear, Private G. P. Scherer, Albert Ramsey)
Recommendations of the Secretary of War
(Column 3)
Summary: In a synopsis of the Secretary of War's recent report, the paper notes his commitment to the end of substitution and a reduction of exemptions to bolster the armed forces. It is also reported that he acknowledges that the recent campaign in Mississippi was a disaster, and will be calling a Court of Enquiry to determine the cause of these setbacks. The Secretary's remarks concluded with a powerful appeal for the populace to continue the struggle in the certainty that their determined endurance will convince the North of the futility of their efforts.
Editorial Comment: "The report of the Secretary of War is too long for us to publish it in full. We give a synopsis of his recommendations:"
Full Text of Article:

The Secretary refers to the operations of the army in its several departments, and says that the campaign in Mississippi was certainly disastrous. It is difficult to resist the impression that its disasters were not inevitable. That a Court of Enquiry, to investigate the whole campaign, met in Atlanta in September, but in consequence of the vicinity of the enemy requiring the presence of witnesses and judges at other points, it has been temporarily suspended. It is expected soon to reassemble. A deficiency of resources in men and provisions, rather than reverses in battle, caused the withdrawal of the army to Middle Tennessee. He alludes to desertion, straggling & [illegible] is but little over half or two-thirds of the men whose names are on the muster rolls. He recommends the repeal of the substitute and exemption provisions, and that the privileges which Congress granted to put in substitutes can be regularly and constitutionally abrogated by the same power. He says that no compact was entered into between the Government and the person furnishing a substitute, as has been alleged, but only a privelege [sic] which Government accorded. Instead of complaining of such abrogation, the person ought to feel gratified at what has heretofore been allowed him. He recommends an abridgment of exemptions and the conscription of them all, making details according to the wants of society, at home.--He says that the three years' men, when their terms expire, cannot be finally discharged, and should be retained, allowing them to choose the existing company under its present organization, in the same arm of the service. He recommends the consolidation of such companies and regiments as are reduced below a certain complement. He pays a glowing tribute to the heroism, endurance and unfaltering devotion of the soldiers, and of the lamented dead who yielded their lives as sacrifices upon the altar of Liberty, and closes by saying that our very reverses, showing a united and determined endurance of everything for independence, must convince the enemy of the futility of his efforts to subdue us.

Lincoln's Message
(Column 3)
Summary: In a recent message, Abraham Lincoln reasserted his commitment to his emancipation proclamations, a position that does not surprise the author of this article.
Origin of Article: The Richmond papers
(Column 3)
Summary: Contrary to some reports that state that Augusta County has enlisted "twelve or fifteen hundred substitutes in the army as the representatives of citizens of this county," the enrolling officer reports that the true number is less than four hundred.
Full Text of Article:

As some persons, speaking at random have asserted that there are as many as twelve or fifteen hundred substitutes in the army as the representatives of citizens of this county, we deem it proper to state that this is a very great exaggeration, as the Enrolling Officer says that the number is less than four hundred.

The President's Message
(Column 4)
Summary: A synopsis of President Davis's message touches upon his concerns with the financial situation facing the Confederacy. He expresses his willingness to sign any law the legislature presents to him as long as it distributes the burden "uniformly and impartially on the whole property of the people." His other major concern is protecting the integrity of the army, which he believes requires the repeal of substitution and a tightening up of the policy of exemptions.
Editorial Comment: "We regret that the length of President Davis' Message is so great as to render its publication in full in our papers an impossibility. It occupies nine and a half columns of the Enquirer in small type. We must, therefore, upon the principle of cutting the coat to suit the measure of the cloth furnish a synopsis of its content instead of a full report."
Full Text of Article:

The President rapidly reviews the events of the past year, remarking that whilst our successes have not equalled [sic] our expectations we have checked the enemy everywhere in his advance. Our relations with foreign nations are discussed at considerable length. The President regrets that there has been no improvement since the message of January last, and that the conduct of the European nations is less impartial and in some cases has assumed a character positively unfriendly to the commissioners which were sent abroad for the purpose of entering into negotiations proper to fix the relative rights and obligations of the Confederate and United States under treaties entered into with foreign nations prior to the separation which has taken place; but this tender on our part was declined--hence, as we have been refused the benefit of these treaties, they certainly have ceased to be binding and in the opinion of the President our relations with European nations are now controlled exclusively by the general rules of the law of nations.

Legislation upon the subject of finances is earnestly recommended. Although the magnitude and duration of the war was not at first anticipated, still the resources of the country are so ample and the spirit of the people so devoted to lie cause that relief is within our reach.

The financial policy of the government since its formation is discussed, and the President contends that whilst the provisions of the permanent constitution in reference to direct taxation can not be carried into effect in the mode pointed out, it is plain that it is the duty of congress to execute the general intent of the Constitution by making taxes uniform throughout the Confederate States. These considerations are greatly enforced by the reflection that an attempt to apportion taxes amongst the States, some of which are wholly or partially in the occupation of hostile forces, would subvert the whole intention of the framers of the Constitution, and he productive of the most revolting injustice instead of that just co-relation between taxation and representation which their purpose secured. With large portions of some of the States ocupied [sic] by the enemy, what justice would there be in imposing on the remainder the whole amount of taxation of the entire State in proportion to is representation?

What else would this be in effect than to increase the burthen [sic] of these who are the heaviest sufferers by the war, and make our own inability to protect them from invasion, as we are required to do by the Constitution, ground for adding to their losses by an attempted adherance[sic] to the letter in violation of the spirit of that instrument. No such purpose could have been entertained and no such result contemplated by the framers of the Constitution. It may add to the of weight these considerations if we reflect that although the Constitution provides that it should go into operation with a representation temporarily distributed among the States, if expressly ordains that after providing for a census within three years this temporary distribution of representative power is to endure until such enumeration shall be made. Would any one argue that because the census cannot be made within the fixed period the Government must at the expiration of that period perish for want of a representative body? In any aspect in which the subject can be viewed I am led to the conclusion already announced, and which is understood to be in accordance with a vote taken in one or both houses at last session. I shall therefore until we are able to pursue the precise mode required by the Constitutional deem it my duty to approve any law levying taxation which you are bound to impose for the defence of the country, in any other practicable mode which shall distribute the burthen uniformly and impartially on the whole property of the people.

In your former legislations you have sought to avoid an increase of the volume of notes in circulation by offering inducements for voluntarily funding. Measures adopted for that purpose were not partially successful, the amount [illegible] no other remedy than compulsory reduction of currency to the amount required by the business of the country.

This reduction should be accompanied by a pledge that under no stress of circumstances will that amount be exceeded. No possible mode of using the credit of the government can be so disastrous [sic] as on which disturbs the basis of exchange, renders impossible all calculations of the future values, augments in constantly increasing proportions the price of all commodities, and so depreciates all fixed wages, salaries and incomes as to render them inadequate to bare subsistence. If to this be added the still more fatal influence on the morals and character of the people, to which I have already adverted, I am persuaded, you will concur in the conclusion that an inflexible adherence to a limitation of the currency at a fixed sum is an indispensable element of any system of finance now to be adopted. Holders of currency now outstanding can only be protected in the recovery of their just claims by substituting for notes some other security.

If the currency is not greatly and promptly reduced the present scale of inflated prices will not only continue to exist, but by the very fact of large amounts thus made requisite in the conduct of the war, those prices will reach rates still more extravagant and the whole system will fall under its own weight, rendering the redemption of debts impossible and destroying its whole value in the hands of the holder. If, on the contrary, a founded debt, with interest secured by adequate taxation, is substituted for the out-standing currency, its entire amount will be available to the holder and Government will be in a condition enabling it beyond the reach of any probable contingency to prosecute the war to a successful issue.

It is, therefore, demanded as well by the interest of the creditor as of the country at large that the evidences of public debt now out-standing in the shape of treasury notes be converted into bonds bearing adequate interest with provision for taxation sufficient to insure the punctual payment and final redemption of the whole debt.

The President recommends to the consideration of Congress the report of the Secretary of the Treasury; and hopes it will engross the consideration of that body until disposed of in the manner best adapted to attain the important results which the country anticipates from its action.

The President believes the army to be, in al respects, in better condition than at any previous period of the war. He recommends the restoration to the army of all who are improperly absent, putting an end to substitution, modifying the exemption law, restricting details and placing in the ranks able-bodied men now employed as wagoners, nurses, cooks and employees doing service for which negroes may be found competent.

He concurs in the opinion expressed by the Secretary of war that there is no ground for the objection that a new provision to include those who furnish substitutes under the former call would be a breach of contract. The action of the several executive departments is reviewed and the gratifying announcement made that the receipts of the past office department are six hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars in excess of the expenditures. Communication with Trans-Mississippi is so obstructed as to render difficult compliance with the executive needs. Legislation is required providing for the exercise of temporary authority, especially in the Postal Department and Treasury, for which the subsecretaries are recommended, while for military affairs it would seem to be sufficient to authorize the President and Secretary of war to delegate to the commanding Gen'l so much of the discretionary powers vested in them by law as exigencies of the service shall require. In conclusion the President adverts to the savage ferocity of the enemy in conducting the war, and holds up to public execration the refusal of the Lincoln Government to execute the cartel for the exchange of prisoners. But the patriotism of the people had proven equal to every sacrifice demanded by their country's need, and God had blessed us with success disproportionate to our means and under his divine favor our labors must at last be crowned with success.

Gov. Letcher's Message
(Column 5)
Summary: The governor addresses a number of issues in his latest address. These include his concerns about extortioners; lukewarm support for ending the policy of substitution; increased emphasis on the development of Home Guard units; a call for some fiscal sanity; and payment to the populace for slaves requisitioned by the government.
Full Text of Article:

The message of Governor Letcher is very long, filling nine and a half columns of the Richmond "Enquirer." It quotes the remarks of Samuel Adams of Massachusetts delivered in 1776 to show that our present struggle for independence is justified as was that of our fathers in the first revolution. Honor, justice, propriety--every consideration that should influence good and patriotic men--show the necessity of our eternal separation. Men who preach peace under present circumstances are false to us and the Confederacy. It is time enough to speak of an honorable peace when Lincoln shall have withdrawn his armies from our soil.

All classes, rich and poor, are equally interested in this struggle. Those who maintain the contrary are enemies to our cause and success. In the main, they are men who were active in bringing about the present war, but who have taken peculiar pains to keep out of the fight. I happen to know of a number of such in our own State, who have domiclied [sic] themselves and families in soft places, and have thus escaped the dangers of the field. They were for commotion and agitation, not for a fight and take their chances for martyrdom in a glorious cause.

Legislation is required for the protection of our people against the impositions practiced by impressment officers and persons claiming to be such, and I trust it will be had at this session. Impressment should be apportioned according to the quantities on hand in each neighborhood, leaving a portion to each farmer, to be disposed of for the inhabitants of the cities and the poor of the country. If any other system be adopted distress, dissatisfaction and starvation will be inevitable.

The harboring of deserters, and the aid extended to them in facilitating their passage from point to point on their way home, is a mot serious evil, and legislation is imperatively demanded for its correction.

He recommends an increase of the pay of soldiers.

The gains of extortioners since the war should be ascertained, from which a land should be created for the relief of the families of our gallant soldiers.

He renews his recommendation of the last session for an organization of all able-bodied persons in our State, for the purpose of home defence, and to aid, if necessary, in the execution of the laws.

He was opposed to the policy of substitution, but as it was adopted, he is opposed to violating such contracts as have been made by requiring the principle to go into the service. Contracts between governments and individuals should at all times be held sacred and inviolable. No Government which violates them can long maintain its character for honor or integrity. When these are forfeited by a government, the public confidence in it is at an end.

He recommends the use of free negro labor exclusively in the repair of our railroads.

Of the currency, he says that excessive issues have caused distrust with the people as to their ultimate redemption, and hence the great depreciation and the enormous prices now demanded for articles of prime necessity. Confidence must be restored if a moderate degree of wisdom and good sense shall control the action of Congress at the present session.

On the 26th day of last month another call for five thousand more slaves was addressed to me by the President. This call and the papers accompanying it are submitted for your examination.

The people generally complain that the provision of the law, which requires the Confederate Government to pay the value of such slaves as may die, or be not returned to their owners, has not been complied with, and they have no guarantee that slaves now sent, if lost, will be paid for. The reason assigned to me for nonpayment has been that Congress had made no appropriation for this object, and that payment could not be made until a bill appropriating the amount necessary had become a law. Within the last few days I have been informed that it is the opinion of the War Department that all such claims, when that court shall be organized; and that no payments can be made without a favorable judgment be pronounced by such tribunal. Such a construction seems to me to be at war not only with the spirit but also the letter of the law requiring the Executive to comply with the President's requisition.

In this be the construction which is to be placed on this law, it is not wonderful that dissatisfaction and indisposition to comply with the requisitions should be the consequence. A slave lost in this service a year ago could not now be replaced at less than double the value fixed at that day; and if the demand of his owner is postponed, until a Court of Claims shall be organized, it is equivalent to nearly a total loss.--It is in my judgment the duty of our Senators and Representatives in Congress to see that an appropriation for this purpose is made without delay. The people expect it, and their reasonable expectation should not be disappointed in this respect.

The entire funded debt of the State on the 1st of October, 1868, was $85,145,798.35. For the payment of the interest and the final redemption of the principal of this debt, the Constitution of the State has provided a sinking fund, which must extinguish the whole in thirty-four years from its creation; and this fund has been realizing the anticipations of its founders, and will accomplish the end in less time. The temporary debt created for the purposes of the war, and for which treasury notes have been issued, amounts to the sum of $4,938,112. For the payment of this amount ample provision has been made, so that whenever the notes shall be called in they will be promptly redeemed.

The amount received into the treasury from all sources
during the fiscal year has been $16,874,995.51 Which, with the sum on hand at the end of the previous fiscal year 484,778.96 Makes 16,809,774.47 And the expenditures for the same period have been 15,484,770.25 Leaving a balance in the treasury on the 1st of October, 1868, of $1,375,004.22 Which with a few warrants issued in the year and not collected, as is explained in the Auditor's report, will make the actual balance $1,877,868.95

The auditor's estimate of the probable receipts into the Treasury for the fiscal year ending 30th September, 1864, with the balance on hand at the commencement of the year, is $10,666,532.67; and his estimates for the probable charges upon the treasury for the same year is $12,910,783.79; which for the present fiscal year will have a balance against the treasury of $2,244,251.12.

Than Virginia no State has been more loyal, more faithful, more devoted. None has contributed more liberally in means and men--none has bared her breast more boldly or defiantly to the storm--and none has sent her "reapers to the harvest of death" with more self sacrificing devotion than the Commonwealth of Virginia.--She enlisted for the war after full consideration, and with a just appreciation of all the consequences that were to follow the separation, and she will be true to the end. She will never sue for peace, because she did not bring on this war. She will never propose compromise, because she struggles only for her rights, her liberty and her independence. She will, as becomes the mother of States, stand up boldly, and hurl scorn and defiance in the face of her foes until they come to her terms. She will never consent to a treaty of peace which dismembers her own territory, nor will she consent to a treaty which does not recognize fully the Confederacy. She knows what is due to her own dignity and character, and she knows what is due to the Confederacy and her duty will be performed with scrupulous fidelity. Kneeling around the altar of the country, her sons will swear allegiance to her, and fidelity to the Confederate Government, and their prayers will ascend to heaven for blessings on Virginia and the Southern Confederacy.

Thanks to the Ruler of the Universe for His blessings conferred upon us with such liberality--for the successes which have attended our arms--for the unity and harmony of our people--and for the spirit and courage with which He has nerved them for this contest.

John Letcher.