|Soldier on the North Carolina Confederate monument|
Scottish missionary David MacRae (1837-1907) toured the American South in 1867-68 to survey the postwar desolation and poverty. His most noteworthy meetings were with General Robert E. Lee and Admiral Raphael Semmes of the CSS Alabama.
MacRae was struck by Lee's "Christian character revealing itself almost unconsciously in his manners and conversation." Following are some of MacRae's observations of his Southern tour.
"I was struck with the remark made by a Southern gentleman in answer to the assertion that Jefferson Davis had culpably continued the war for six months after all hope had been abandoned. "Sir," he said, "Mr. Davis knew the temper of the South as well as any man in it. He knew if there was to be anything worth calling peace, the South must win; or, if she couldn't win, she wanted to be whipped - well whipped - thoroughly whipped."
The further South I went, the oftener these remarks came back upon me.
Evidence was everywhere that the South had maintained the desperate conflict until she was utterly exhausted. At its outbreak she had poured her best men into the field. Almost every man I met at the South, and especially in North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia, seemed to have been in the army; and it was painful to find how many even of those who had returned were mutilated, maimed or broken in health by exposure.
When I remarked this to a young Confederate officer in North Carolina, and said that I was glad to see that he had escaped unhurt, he said, "Wait 'til we get to the office, sir, and I will tell you more about that." When we got there, he pulled up one leg of his trousers, and showed me that he had an iron rod there to strengthen his limb, and enable him to walk without limping, half of his foot being off. He showed me on the other leg a deep scar made by the fragment of a shell; and these were but two of seven wounds which had left their marks upon his body. When he heard me speak of relics, he said, "Try to find a North Carolina gentleman without a Yankee mark on him."
In Mobile I met a brave little Southern girl who had gone barefooted the last year of the war, that the money intended for her shoes might go to the poor soldier. When medicines could no longer be sucked into the South through the rigorous blockade, the Confederate Government called upon the women and children, who went into the woods and swamps and gathered horehound, boneset, wild cherry bark, dogwood, and everything that could help supply the want. When there was a danger of any place falling into the hands of the enemy, the people with unflinching hand, dragged out their last stores of cotton, tobacco, and turpentine, and consigned them to the flames.
The people said, "we did it all, thinking the South would win."
Source: David MacRae, "Exhaustion of the South," America Through British Eyes, Allan Nevins, ed. (London: Oxford University Press), 345-346. Thanks to Bernhard Thuersam, Director, Cape Fear Historical Institute