Editor’s Note: This article was provided by John Hennessy and transcribed by Jackie Martin.
LETTER FROM A TRUE SOLDIER.
NEAR PETERSBURG, VA.,
October 17th, 1864.
EDITOR PATRIOT AND UNION: Through bribery, through fraud, and through compulsion, Ohio and Indiana have went for a continuation of war, for a continuation of the rule that brings only disunion and anarchy to our now bleeding country. But to Pennsylvania, the old Keystone State, is all honor due for the noble stand she has taken on the side of Union and Democracy. Redeemed, yes thrice redeemed from the hateful oppression, the noble old State stands forth, an honor to Union. When I charge corruption in these elections, I charge what I know is correct. For the mere pittance of $25 I have known men sell themselves, sell all the principle in them and went over to Shoddy and corruption. Every device, every plan under the sun was set afloat to win at any price, and though it is won to-day it will be lost to them tomorrow. I have heard men curse Lincoln one day, and in two weeks later and the furlough in the meantime they would curse McClellan. Shame on the patriotism of such men, they don’t deserve to be free. One told me he voted Republican, yet wanted to see a Democratic victory; what consistency—sell a vote, and then so early rue the sale. But hundreds and thousands have done the same. What are the chances in the army for Democratic soldiers? Not a campaign document is allowed to be brought here, though I have seen more than a ton of Republican arguments land from one boat. Hand-bills of all kinds, called “Democratic Peace,” “Disunion Party,” and in English and German, are posted where he who runs may read. Forney’s CHRONICLE, New York INDEPENDENT, &c., are choice reading here, and you are invited to take all you want, free, gratis, for nothing. Yet where can you see any of the Democratic kind? Not in the army, unless some one was bold enough to try to smuggle some through in the mail, which it aint likely would succeed, as there are so many spies in the Post Office Department. Oh what a party for fairness! What consistency!
During the election Shoddy tickets were plenty, but not one of the other kind except what some one had the audicity to write and circulate. The only fair plan of carrying on this campaign, in the army, is to send no campaign documents but let those who are so anxious to denounce Copperheads, circulate the Bible and urge men to study that instead of party truths, taking Shoddy as an example. They may be afraid to circulate it, not knowing whether it would teach anti-slavery truths, and lend to the worship of an anti-slavery God. But it is not too late yet to do right. It ain’t too late to redeem Indiana and Ohio with such a noble leader as McClellan. We cannot, we must not remain idle. Lincoln must not rule, or the Union is dead. Feel as I do, that the life of the nation depends on McClellan’s election, and work with your might. God will give victory to the just, even though all the (illegible) of the Treasury is used to corrupt the people.
I have said it here and I repeat it now, “If Lincoln is re-elected and the war continues, I hope every man who votes for him, between 20 and 45 years of age, will be drafted.” If he is elected I hope they will not be so cowardly as to ask Democratic soldiers to fight their battles. Yet the next draft will take the innocent as well as the guilty. But it is election time now, and if there are no real victories there will be plenty manufactured in time for election. Democrats stand pledged to a free election; let them stand to it, if force must meet force, or bayonet meet bayonet. I love the North, I love the South, and only in the Union of the two can it be my country. Democrats, stand by your flag, fall with it, if necessary, but never desert it. I am willing to stand by it on the battle-field. You cannot falter at home. My only hope is in the Union, but not in the disunion policy of Abraham. Then, Pennsylvanians, I greet you. Well done good and faithful servants. You have done nobly. Victory may seem to be with the wicked, but right and McClellan will win. Falter not, but move on and victory is certain in November.—Wherever you are left to the freedom of your own choice you need not fear.
How Indiana and Ohio were carried, none but Loyal Leaguers know. How many were bought, how many were deterred from voting is yet to be found out. But who doubts the final success of our cause? None but the weak. O that I could speak in words loud enough for all to hear. You all have an interest in the Union as deep and true as I, and your only hope is in success. Compare the candidates, and you will quickly decide for McClellan. The great battle is yet unfought. You fight all the issues, you fight corruption, and only the most daring and tyrannical acts of the administration can wrench victory from you. Bring your forces out for battle, urge them to stand firm, and fight the fight of justice and a united country. Strike deep, strike fatal blows, and drive the oppressor from his throne. Nobly have you done, yet you can do more. Now let us pull all together, work hard until the last vote is polled, on the second Tuesday of November. A fair election and they can’t defeat you, and it is your fault if there is none. As you love the Union, as you love Washington’s memory, stand not idle while the nation dies.
Land of Liberty only in name. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Lincoln joked while the Union died. O, what a vile Copperhead I am to thus speak my thoughts. I have not done my master’s bidding, but thank God I will not. I could talk much longer with you, but my thoughts are scattered. I feel the great responsibility resting on me and on us all. Do all you can. Work for the Union and November will bring victory. Then once more go at the work, unfurl your banner, and with McClellan and Pendleton the Union restored, once more we move on. “Westward the Star of Empire takes its way,” and Peace is written in the political heavens.
“O, McClellan the hope of the nation,
The Leader we honor and trust;
We dwell on his name with elation
And hail him the brave and the just.
His sword was unsheathed with devotion
To fight for the cause we count true.
His name is as broad as the ocean
And bright as the Red, White and Blue.”
ONLY A PRIVATE.1
- “Letter from a True Soldier.” Harrisburg (PA) Patriot and Union. October 27, 1864, p. ? col. ? ↩