The Justice of Retribution
Buffalo Morning Express, May 30, 1861
While this Government, in defending its rights, sustaining its laws and enforcing its authority, should bear the struggle above the barbarisms of savage warfare, and save women and children from outrage and slaughter, we have no tenderness for the rebels and their property. This war is for the supremacy of Government, and the foe arrayed against us, in view of all the circumstances which have led to it, and the characteristics which it presents since its inauguration, are placed beyond the pale of sympathy and deserve only the retribution that belongs to outlaws, rebels and traitors. In lifting their unhallowed hands against a Government founded upon the most sacred principles of humanity and Christianity, the offenders deserve the most dreadful consequences that the storm they have raised can inflict. They are no longer entitled to the considerations belonging to a common humanity, for they violate every principle which characterises that relation, in their atrocities against Government and the welfare of the country, and while we would avoid it, if possible, extermination alone seems to afford future security to the Government and peace to the country. This is harsh, perhaps,It may grate unharmoniously upon the sensibilities of many, but in view of this whole question, and the wanton and unprovoked assault upon all that a citizen of the United States holds dear, what less than destruction to the rebellious crew and their nesting places can successfully reestablish law, order and good Government in the land. This is an important question and fearful in its contemplation, and it is difficult to say at what point the federal authority should hold its power.
The Government has determined upon subjugation. In regard to that it has drawn its line and is working up to it. We are fearful that it can never be reached successfully and permanently until the race which are now at war with it become extinct. The spirit of rebellion may be subdued, but it will not, we apprehend, be destroyed, while the flesh in which it now tabernacles continues upon the face of the earth. As evidence of this we cite the proceedings at Alexandria, subsequent to the murder of poor ELLSWORTH, and in the face of the gallant Regiment which he led upon the soil of Virginia. It is reported that a Coroner's inquest was held upon the body of Col. ELLSWORTH's murderer, and that the jury rendered a verdict that "he died at the hands of United States soldiers while defending his own property in his own house." This, of course, tacitly justifies the murder, and makes every juryman, as much a murderer at heart as Jackson himself, and as much deserving the vengeance which was so summarily and so justly meted out to him upon the spot. When a jury of Alexandrians thus insult the government and outrage humanity, they should leave, or the town which shelters them should be razed to the earth and left a blackened monument of a fearful but just retribution. These consequences which are so richly merited in that locality, may be applied with equal propriety to Norfolk, Richmond, Charleston, Harper's Ferry, and we had almost said Baltimore, for we have but little confidence in the loyalty and good faith of a majority of the population of that city. Loyalty should be established, or if needs be, annihilate the hiding places of rebellion. We deprecate vandalismwe regret to see property destroyed, but if rebellion cannot be squelched without, we could gladly witness the consuming element as it licked up with its firey tongue every shelter now raised above the heads of those who aid, encourage or prosecute this unholy war against the government and the rights and liberties of this people. The more terrible the retribution the sooner the work will be ended. Assess the cost of the war upon the property of the rebels. Let the power of the government be felt with a vengeance not to be forgotten by the traitors themselves and their progeny for centuries to come. In this alone, can we hope for indemnity for the past and security for the future.
Last Updated: July 9, 2007 8:50 PM