Only Wirz--small, insignificant, miserable Wirz, the underling, the tool,
the servile, brainless, little fetcher-and-carrier of these men, was
punished--was hanged, and upon the narrow shoulders of this pitiful
scapegoat was packed the entire sin of Jefferson Davis and his crew.
What a farce!
A petty little Captain made to expiate the crimes of Generals, Cabinet
Officers, and a President. How absurd!
But I do not ask for vengeance. I do not ask for retribution for one of
those thousands of dead comrades, the glitter of whose sightless eyes
will follow me through life. I do not desire even justice on the still
living authors and accomplices in the deep damnation of their taking off.
I simply ask that the great sacrifices of my dead comrades shall not be
suffered to pass unregarded to irrevocable oblivion; that the example of
their heroic self-abnegation shall not be lost, but the lesson it teaches
be preserved and inculcated into the minds of their fellow-countrymen,
that future generations may profit by it, and others be as ready to die
for right and honor and good government as they were. And it seems to me
that if we are to appreciate their virtues, we must loathe and hold up to
opprobrium those evil men whose malignity made all their sacrifices
necessary. I cannot understand what good self-sacrifice and heroic
example are to serve in this world, if they are to be followed by such a
maudlin confusion of ideas as now threatens to obliterate all distinction
between the men who fought and died for the Right and those who resisted
them for the Wrong.
End of Andersonville, by John McElroy, v4
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