Columbus Daily Ohio State Journal, June 3, 1861
Some of the best words in our language have been prostituted to the basest uses. What term is in such bad odor as "affinity," for instance, since its adoption into the vocabulary of the pestilent Free Lovers. Yet no more corrupt office does it perform than the word written above. "Chivalry" once had a noble meaning. We naturally associate with it the high tone of the ancient warriors, who disdained to strike an unarmed antagonist, and who would defend to the last even a foe who had eaten salt with them. But in the progress of time, with its changes, we find the import of words accommodating itself to the habits, the thoughts and vices of men even. The civilization of slavery, which gilds treason into "peaceful separation," humilitating concessions into "compromises," and theft and robbery into an "accumulation of means," readily transforms cowardly ruffianism, simply, into "chivalry."
From the time Virginia first made negro-breeding her forte, South Carolina furnished a fine crop of poltroon tories for Marion's bullets, and Louisiana opened her arms to receive the harlots and cut-throats of France—our Southern brethren have monopolized all the chivalry of the entire Western Continent. They couldn't hear to the possession of a lingering spark of this element in the pleb[e]ian masses of the North, who work for a living, build churches and school-houses, construct railroads, pay their debts and fear God. These base Puritans never swagger. They have no servile population to bully. They consume a less amount of coarse tobacco and poor whisky, and have failed to reach the apex in brutal profanity and general beastliness. Hence their want of chivalry. Could these pitiable creatures be induced to embrace the saving grace of African slavery, repudiate their just debts, conspire against the Government, steal its property, the merchants turn their trading vessels into pirate ships, abolish the free school systems, devote themselves to dissipation, not forgetting the amusement, when maddened with "tanglefoot," to stab or shoot some unoffending, unarmed neighbor in the back, they might yet possibly redeem themselves.
This Southern chivalry takes on many shapes. It is as various as the different degrees of ignorance and brutality of its champions. To cudgel a United States Senator in his seat, off his guard and with no means of defence, beating him with a bludgeon within an inch of his life, while other armed ruffians stand near to see that the job is thoroughly executed, is the height of South Carolina chivalry and daring. It made a hero of the perpetrator of such a deed, and had not Providence so signally shown his hand, this same drunken bully would now doubtless be occupying a high seat in the rebel synagogue of the South.
The chivalry of Missouri assumed a form in Kansas which is yet fresh in the public mind. There Clark and Gardner, vieing with each other in the display of valor, stole behind one Barber, guilty of entertaining Free State notions, and fired their rifles at his back. He fell dead, but it was impossible to determine which hero had taken him off. A pro-slavery President got along with the matter, however, by appointing one Post Master and the other Purser in the Navy. In Kansas, too, was where Hopps, another Free State agitator, was scalped by Murphy, who was rewarded with an Indian Agency; where a Free State town was battered down and pillaged, everything portable being carried off; where a son of the old martyr Brown, a prisoner and unarmed, was hacked to pieces by a hatchet in the hands of one Gibson—where, in short, butchering Free State men and laying waste their property was the chief employment of the Missouri braves for two or three years.
Later we find the chivalry of Texas—after that State has committed the most disgraceful treason, and resorted to, the most dishonorable means to capture the loyal soldiers of the Federal Government—cropping out in the paying of respects to a Massachusetts woman. It was discovered by the chivalric citizens of San Antonio that this unprotected female was guilty of the heinous offense o£ having been born in Boston. It was inferrable from this, of course, that she did not regard the system of African slavery as a little ahead of the atonement in the regeneration of a fallen world, and she was surrounded by the daring sons of the South, who led her into the public streets, stripped her bare, applied a soothing, unctuous plaster of tar to her naked person, set off with an outer covering of down, rode her in state round the public square on an unpolished rail, with a secession flag on either side, the march accompanied by the musical yells of an excited mob. It is not uncommon for slave women to be stripped and lashed, in the South; and the above incident but shows that Southern character is progressing in the natural direction. We are constrained to believe there is yet some show for Sodom and Gomorrah in the last day.
After this chivalry has thieved and robbed until there was nothing else to lay its hands on, and plotted the most damnable treason, setting up its vileness against the Federal Government, it asks to be recognised as an independent power, and intimates a desire to carry on war after the civilized programme. It commences this war, however, by setting seven or eight thousands of its bullies on a starving garrison of seventy soldiers, and when discovered that the post the latter held was wrapped in flames, the braves plied the red-hot shot the more furiously. The Southern chivalric plan of warfare continues as it began, and is, in fact, but an expansion of its ruffianism and assassinations in time of peace. Bribes have been offered our faithful soldiers, who were guarding entrances to forts, and sentinels have been shot down at their posts by concealed foes. The lives of entire regiments have been attempted through poisoned liquors, dealt out as if from friendly hands.—The slaveholding Indians of Arkansas and North Carolina have been instigated to visit their savage atrocities upon the loyal citizens of the United States when fitting opportunity should offer.
The assassin's dagger and bullet, the savage's tomahawk and scalping knife, arsenic, prus[s]ic acid and strychnine are to be the weapons of chivalry in this war. Oh, Dahomey! Ye cannibal realms of the South Pacific! hold up your heads!