From Antietam to Chancellorsville: September 1862 to May 1863

Battles For the West

What did Davis say in his twenty-page message to the Confederate Congress?

In a sense, there was little that he could say. Bragg’s defeat at Murfreesboro was a crushing comedown, and the memory of Antietam was still fresh in people’s minds. Worst of all, however, was the Emancipation Proclamation, with which Lincoln and the North had gained the moral high ground.

Davis, therefore, made his message to the Confederate Congress one of defiance. All sorts of measures that would have previously been unthinkable were now proposed. Conscription was already in place: Davis pledged to increase it. Taxation was already part of the Confederate nation: Davis planned to increase the taxes. Even farm equipment would be seized by the Confederate government, if necessary, to defend the Confederacy itself. Davis was all too aware that these desperate measures risked his being labeled a hypocrite. The Confederacy had broken from the Union because of states’ rights; soon, it seemed, there would be no states’ rights left.


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