I am just after having a long conversation with an intelligent Southern gentleman who is enthusiastically proud (as well he may) of the gallantry of the Confederates. Did ever people, he asks, fight more bravely for liberty? Their fighting now I grant, does look like fighting for liberty; but surely their liberty had not been taken from them, or even seriously threatened, when they first took up arms. My Southern friend admits that the grievances of which they had to complain were not sufficient to justify the extreme step of rebellion. If this be so their rebellion was a crime. It is, however, hard to believe that a majority of the population of any country ever rebelled against constituted authority without just cause. But it is by no means clear that the revolt of these seceded States was not the work of a minority and not of the MAJORITY. If this be so, it since the war commenced the greater portion of the Southern people have come to hate the Federal Government; – for there is no doubt but that they are pretty well agreed on this point now. If this be the fact, President Lincoln is responsible for having driven discontented but loyal citizens into rebellion by the very injudicious course he has pursued in reference to this lamentable disruption of a great Nation. The criminality of the North then in making enemies of the mass of the Southern people may be fairly set against the crime of the Southern planters in rebelling against the best constitution, take it for all in all, that the world has yet seen. The constitution has been violated by both North and South; so that they are quits on this point. The question now, ought to be, not who is wrong or who is right, but how best to preserve, at least, one powerful Republic on this continent. In my humble opinion to let the South go now, after such a tremendous sacrifice of men and money, would be to destroy the Republic utterly. The flag of the Union must be carried in triumph through the length and breadth of the revolted States, or there is an end to the Union. But if these States cannot be brought back to their allegiance, must they not be garrisoned and held as a conquered country? And in this case will they not prove a source of weakness, and not of strength to the republic? Even so, the evil will not be so great as the destruction of the Union. Let the North give up the struggle before the subjugation of the North is complete, and this destruction is inevitable. The Northern people will lose all respect and reverence for the Federal government. They will no longer be proud of their flag. Each State will only look to its own immediate interests. Every man for himself, will be the order of the day. And then the greatest nation the sun ever shone upon will be rent into fragments. Therefore, do I heartily wish with success to the Federal arms, leaving to Time to decide what is to be the ultimate destiny of these brave Confederates. They would not take a present of their independence now, if we are to believe the Richmond Inquirer. A writer in this journal (John Mitchel to wit – for there is no mistaking his Roman hand) declares that nothing short of the subjugation of the Federal states will satisfy them. They will hold the poor Federals in their clutches just long enough to indemnify themselves for all the trouble and loss they have been put to, “and then,” saith the Richmond Inquirer, “we’ll let them go about their business sadder and wiser Yankees.” I do not know what effect this style of writing may have in the South; but it is not calculated to make friends for the South in the loyal states. And there is, undoubtedly, a numerous party in the North (embracing nearly all the Irish) who strongly sympathise with their seceded brethren. This party, to be sure, are for prosecuting the water, and bringing back the haughty rebels to the Union; but they condemn the course pursued by President Lincoln, and seem to think that his conduct has gone a good way to make the worse the better cause.
A countryman of mine, who is a member of the New Orleans circle of the Fenian Brotherhood – the president of which circle is now a colonel in the Confederate army – assures me that the Irish in the South are, if possible, better lovers of Ireland, and better haters of England than the Irish in the North. Though Irishmen are at different sides in the war, they are united, heart and soul, in the cause of the old land. Well, if all this ends in smoke it is a queer story. But it never will so end. These men who have dared death, and spilled their blood for their adopted country, will never sheath the sword till their own persecuted country is rescued from the clutches of her tyrant – the tyrant who has driven them into exile and pursues them with hatred and calumny wherever they go. Oh! the return of these men “with a vengeance” will be a fine sight to see.