Richmond Dispatch, 10/28/1861

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From the Richmond Dispatch, 10/28/1861

THE PRISONERS. - As usual when first caught, some of the prisoners last captured exhibited a good deal of impudence and swagger upon their arrival in this city. Being prisoners, they have the advantage in a war of that kind, for no one can return the abuse of unarmed men. Our people in general have too much generosity to taunt, or exult over captive men. But unprovoked insolence on the part even of prisoners ought not to be permitted. Some of them, we learn, boast that their turn will come next, and that Lincoln and Scott will soon be in Richmond. We may yet have Lincoln and Scott in one of our vacant tobacco factories. The insolence of the prisoners is very natural, and what was to be expected. They do not understand the forbearance of the Southern people. They know that, if we had invaded their country with threats of robbery, rapine, and confiscation, as they have invaded ours, they would not have troubled themselves with prisoners, but drowned us all in the nearest river, as we would have deserved. In such a war as this, carried on under the watchwords of confiscation, extermination and rapine, the South would have been justified in acting from the threshold upon the principle - “No quarter asked or given.” We believe that such a principle would have been politic, as well as just, and was the only one to convince the course, brutal ruffians of the Northern population that we are in earnest. But, having resolved to treat an enemy, who threatens our leaders with hanging, brings handcuffs with his army, devotes our property to his own uses, and makes the most horrible threats against our women, having resolved to treat such an enemy according to the rules of civilized warfare, it is too late now to visit with that just vengeance which they deserve the malicious and wicked invaders of our peace and homes. Nor would we subject them all in any event to the same rigor. The officers and privates of the old regular army, whose duty forces them to go wherever they are ordered, should not be objects of personal animosity to any of our people. But the volunteers brought themselves here, and would have no one but themselves to blame, if they were to receive the severest treatment. Some even of these may show themselves by their conduct to be worthy of gentle treatment, but a mass of turbulent, malignant pensioners upon our country, ought not to be congregated in this city. They should be sent to different parts of the South at an early period. The expense of feeding such a large number of prisoners suggests the expediency of employing them in some avocation to which they are accustomed, and in which they might render themselves useful to the country. We conceive that, whilst they are feeding at the Southern crib, there is nothing inconsistent with humanity and justice in making them work for their living.

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