Letter to John Wolcott Phelps

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BrattleboroAug. 10. 1862Genl. J. W. Phelps,
My dear Sir:-

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I wish I had the leisure to be a fuller and more prompt correspondent. I often think of things I would like to talk over with you, and to write to you about, but, with a sigh, realize that I can for the present do neither. Your interesting letter of the 21st Ult. was duly received. I hope you will allow the habit to continue of writing to me frequently upon any and all subjects that interest you or engage your efforts, for it is exceedingly gratifying to me to hear from you. I am rejoiced that you are forming "The Dark Brigade", of which you speak. I would organize and drill the men, if I were you, even though it were not probable that the Administration would allow them to be armed and used as soldiers. The

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fact is, General, that both Government and people of the United States, and especially the present Administration, have got to be educated up to a higher and holier standard with regard to our National short-comings, vices and dangers, and to the cuases of the present War, before we can ever conquer a peace. If ever the hand of Providence was visible in the affairs of men, it is now in the affairs of our people. We as a Nation are passing through a pupilage which is either to purify, exalt and establish us in the enjoyment of more personal liberty than was ever before vouchsafed to Man, or we are to fall like Lucifer and become a byword or reproach, to ourselves & mankind. We are to be baptised and re-baptised, in blood, suffering & affliction, till we either clear ourselves of our sin and weakness as a Nation, or sulk under ourand rise to the grandeur of our institutions & opportunities, or sink under our vices and false views and our training for a redemption. It is sad to think how rotten and demoralized we are, though we have been exalted almost to heaven in privileges. But still, I think

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I see light breaking through our darkness, and that we are beginning to see our wrong bent, and shall come out of our present severe training a better people. I think the masses in the loyal States grow better and stronger with every disaster, and every new sacrifice they are called on to make. When I can clearly see that our National Authorities are waking up to the vigor and serious earnestness of the masses, I shall feel pretty sure that our redemption is right. But there must yet be a "Great Awakening" at Washington. There must be for vaster and more comprehensive plans, & vigor of execution, and use of means, before we can succeed. I sometimes ask myself, - Is it possible that with the almost unlimited resourses of men and means, at the disposal of our Government, we are to go to ruin because there is not the high virtue and ability in our National Authorities to use them? I have felt that I must almost, if not altogether conclude that we were to be ruined, for this cause.

I wrote President Lincoln some two weeks ago, that I was gratified he had called for 300,000 additional troops, but should have been better pleased

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if the number had been twice as large; that I had for weeks felt that we ought to have a million men under arms; that in March last I suggested to the War Department the propriety of raising 200,000 more men & putting them in Camps of Instruction, ready for an emergency, and would furnish Vermonts quota thereof in six weeks; that in view of our present situation, on the verge of ruin and destruction, I respectfully but most ernestly suggested that he immediately call for 300,000 more men (which has been done within a day or two post) to be put into Camps of Instruction, if they could be spared for that purpose, and be training as a reserved force, ready for any breach or emergency; that the spirit of the people was up to and equal to the emergency, but that if Government did not keep up with them, they might become restive and troublesome, or discouraged, gloomy and faint hearted. I do not know as my letter had the slightest influence, but at any rate, the step I advocated has been taken. This, with the other call for 300,000, makes 600,000 fresh troops, and I suppose we must now have 300,000 effective troops left of the old army, and perhaps 400,000.

You would be surprised and gratified if you could be here to observe how nobly our Vermonters meet