In the whole list of outrages committed during this unnatural rebellion, not one, in point of meanness and atrocity, has exceeded the treason of Eastern Virginia. There was one palliating circumstance connected with the rebellion of South Carolina—it was forty years since she had made any professions of loyalty. We all knew she would revolt on the first opportunity. Floyd removed the obstacles. The imbecility of Buchanan allowed the plot to ripen. The rest is part of history. It was much the same with Florida. Georgia, with a population engaged in the same industrial pursuits, was corrupted by her neighbors, and in turn corrupted Alabama and Mississippi. But none of these causes operated on Virginia. With simulated dignity she viewed the beginning of the contest; proffered her mediation; expostulated with the rebels; marked out a line of policy for the Federal Government; voted against secession; assembled a large body of armed men; and then suddenly commenced hostilities against the very government to which she had professed so much attachment. In all the annals of our country, this is the most unpardonable transaction. It lacked even the miserable apology of revenge. There was none of the spirit or enthusiasm of high-mettled wickedness in it. It was a piece of low-bred, stupid, villainous treachery; infamous beyond precedent—scandalous, shameful, cowardly—ungenerous, and selfish, and mean. Separate the whole thing into its constituent parts, and we can find counterparts in the history of other treasonable plots; but when we put them all together, they form something without a parallel, and which, in a romance or a novel, we should condemn as a carricature.

Halting, limping, treacherous, spiteful, fool-ridden, man-degrading old commonwealth!—paradise of demagogues, hypocrites, cowards, and slaves!—the cup of thy iniquity is now full and running over. The treason was unnatural, and the cure should be radical and thorough. Separate the innocent from the guilty; draw a line between perfidy and good faith; and then lay on. With Western Virginia let us deal gently. Most of the people there are blameless. We can afford to forgive some faults in them. But the East—let it be well scourged. It has already passed into a by-word and a reproach; let it also be made a warning to the enemies of the Republic. Let the medicine be not less sharp than the Tenth Plague of Egypt. Let the traitors have a mortality list.—Aside from a slight change of programme to meet the new exigency, and a temporary derangement of communication between the loyal States and the Federal Capital, no harm to our cause will come of this foolish insurrection. Aside from the temporary exultation of short sighted traitors, and a momentary flush of excitement, the rebels will derive no good from it. And they will then have on their hands a helpless ally and an unwelcome dead-weight. On the very day on which Virginia revolted, Northern capitalists made her a bankrupt. Robbery, forced loans, begging,—on these she must rely for means. The July interest on her forty millions of public debt will not be paid. Repudiation will be added to the disgrace of treason; the seat of war will be transferred to her own soil; and the star of the old Dominion will go down in the blackness of shame and despair.

In a military point of view, the treachery of Virginia is a good thing for our side. It will oblige the rebels to march all their available force to the new seat of war, and save us hundreds of weary miles. The flower of their fighting population, which they have spent six months in arming and drilling and to transport which into Virginia will consume their last spare dollar, will be swept away in two or three pitched battles, and then there will be no reserve to fall back on save an undisciplined and unmanageable rabble. The remainder of the campaign will be a war of occupation rather than of conquest. A few severe reverses in Virginia will surely break the spirit of rebellion, while the Northern armies will just be getting into good fighting condition.

As soldiers, the men of Eastern Virginia are notoriously inferior. The wealthy class is proverbial for a sort of antiquated hospitality, for conceitedness, and for an infatuation for titles. Middle-class there is none. The poor are very poor, very ignorant, very superstitious, very filthy in their habits,—looking upon eating and drinking as the chief end of man; dividing their leisure time between sleeping and gossipping, and their pocket-money between strong drink and tobacco. It is hard to make good soldiers out of such materials. The shameful rout at Camden, and the more shameful flight at Bladensburg, have never been atoned for by a show of manly courage; and it is not likely that the sons will display higher qualities on the side of disgraceful treason, than their fathers did on the side of liberty. The “chivalry,” as the sons of wealthy Virginians delight to call themselves, are only a little better than the peasants. A surly or riotous independence, a disposition to anticipate insults, a determination to live without labor, a reckless, indolent, jealous temper,—these make up all that is pecul[i]ar, or remarkable in the character of the scion of Virginian nobility. While there are no hard duties to perform, epaulets to wear, servants to command, money to waste, wine to drink, he will be loyal and brave; but when the terrible reality of war comes, with its long intervals of dull privation, and its joyless and thankless tasks, his selfish, rebellious, lazy nature will make him a mere pest. Spasmodic bravery he certainly has; but far more than this is needed in a death struggle with men at once patient, cool, and energetic, and who do verily believe that Almighty God is on their side and has sanctified their cause.