We can imagine nothing more sublime than a great people moving unitedly to war, under the inspiration of a single noble sentiment, and for the maintenance of a great principle. Before such a movement as this, all prejudices fall. Peace societies cease their opposition, Quakers are dumb, and Christian hearts rise into grateful approval. Now nothing has been more patent from the beginning of the present rebellion, than that the North had no bitterness of feeling toward the South. The long suffering of the North has been the long suffering of good nature, good wishes, good intentions, and fraternal good neighborhood. The South, with all its arrogance and insolence, has been unable to provoke a spirit of bitterness and revenge. At last, the sacred national flag was fired upon, and the attack upon that did what the abuse of a quarter of a century, directed against individuals, was unable to accomplish. When the nation’s flag was shot down at Sumter, the national spirit was roused, but not in vengeance. The North arose as one man, and swore that the honor of that flag should be maintained, and the American nationality preserved. Even then the spirit of a bitter revenge was not excited. The loyal states were above this, and they moved their troops southward in conscious strength, and with a motive so pure that even car loads of soldiers in their armor prayed and sang in the pauses of their passage.

It is this spirit of noble Christian devotion to the country’s flag and that which it represents, which it would have been delightful to see carried through the war; but the traitors have tried to break it, and to infuse into it the element of their own bitterness. It is known to Col. Anderson’s friends that he feels bitterly toward the men with whom he had to deal in Charleston. Their boasted chivalry was a lie, and all their stories of the fight and the events which followed it were lies. At the moment when his barracks were burning, and he and his soldiers were in danger of roasting, the fire of the rebels was thickest and most unrelenting. In all their treatment of him, from first to last, they acted more like demons than men, and were inspired by a hate such as only a city of traitors can feel in the presence of a single loyal garrison. Col. Anderson is a Christian, but he can never forget the abuses of Charleston.

Again, when the Massachusetts troops moved through Baltimore, a mob attacked them, and shot some of them down and maimed others for life. Then began to kindle the spirit of revenge. The sentiment that inspired the Massachusetts troops was so noble, they were proceeding so peaceably upon their patriotic errand, they had responded so promptly to the president’s call, that the attack upon them and its fatal results thrilled the country’s heart, and men could hardly be restrained from taking the task of vengeance into their own hands.

Then came the poisoning of loyal troops, in brandy and sugar, so that the men were obliged to eat all their food with suspicion; and last came the assassination of Col. Ellsworth. Wherever the secessionists have done anything, they have done it so meanly and so unfairly, that the feelings of all decent men have been outraged. The spirit excited by the death of Col. Ellsworth will not subside in that corps of Zouaves during the war. They will fight like tigers. The blood of that young man will be fearfully avenged. God pity the foe that has to deal with them. More or less their feelings must necessarily be shared by the whole army. The effect can only be to render the carnage of the contest the more terrible and unrelenting.

Perhaps it was necessary that this should be so. We have to deal with a mean and perfidious foe, whose inspiration is treason, and whose means of warfare are chosen without reference to morality or decency. Theft, usurpation, denial of popular rights, assassination, mob violence, falsehood—these have been the instruments of the rebellion from the first, and in every quarter. Perhaps it is necessary that the spirit of vengeance be aroused in all loyal hearts, that the punishment of these crimes be sufficiently severe. Yet we could wish it might have been otherwise. It would be a proud thing to remember, that of all these legions that rose in the North for the defense of the country, not one struck a blow for a personal motive—that love of the old flag and devotion to the country inspired every arm from the opening action to the crowning victory. If, however, the spirit of revenge has been aroused, the responsibility be upon the heads of those who must receive the bitter consequences.