Archive from August, 2015

Georgia's Alamo

Comparable to the vastly outnumbered Texans’ at the Alamo, and similar to Col. William Lamb’s vastly outnumbered and outgunned North Carolinians at Fort Fisher the following month, Fort McAllister’s garrison was fighting an enemy seventeen times their own strength. As is common today, Southern defenders are often termed “Confederates” rather than identified as mostly local men defending their homes, farms, families and State.

At Fort McAllister were the First Regiment, Georgia Reserve’s Companies D and E under Captains George N. Hendry and Angus Morrison, respectively; the Emmet Rifles under Capt. George A. Nicoll; and Capt. Nicholas Clinch’s Light Battery of artillery.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Georgia’s Alamo

“The sporadic crackle of musketry echoed through the woods and marshes as Union patrols probed the defenses of Fort McAllister on Tuesday, December 13, 1864. Hunched in the fort were about 230 Confederates commanded by [Savannah native] Major George W. Anderson, Jr. All of them knew they faced a grim and hopeless task in repelling the expected attack.

Behind . . . skirmishers and shielded by forests . . . four thousand Federals were deploying, intent on overrunning the fort at any cost. McAllister had a number of large-caliber guns, but most were aimed at the sea.

Under the direction of engineer Capt. Thomas A. White, the Confederates had done everything possible to strengthen McAllister, especially the landward defenses . . . as [enemy] troops neared the sea.

Anderson realized it would be much more difficult to hold the fort against a land assault, but vowed a fight to the last. “I determined under the circumstances, and notwithstanding the great disparity of numbers, between the garrison and attacking forces, to defend the fort to the last extremity,” he later recalled. Numbering his effectives as 150 men, Anderson added that “with no possible hope of reinforcement, from any quarter, . . . holding the fort was simply a question of time. There was but one alternative – death or captivity.”

The attack was launched shortly after 4PM. Ragged musketry and cannon fire dropped some of the Yankees as there neared the breastworks. Other explosions ripped gaps in the blue line . . . “[and torpedo-mines] were exploded by the tread of the troops, blowing many men to atoms.” “The Federal skirmish line was very heavy and the fire so close and so rapid that it was at times impossible to work our guns,” Anderson said of the [enemy] assault. “My sharpshooters did all in their power, but were entirely too few to suppress this galling fire upon the artillerists.”

[Enemy troops swarmed] onto the embankments to engage the Rebels in hand to hand combat. “[The enemy commander wrote that] There was a pause, a cessation of fire. The smoke cleared away and the parapets were blue with our men, who fired their muskets in the air . . . “

The surviving Confederate troops scrambled into the bombproofs, where the close-quarter fighting continued. The combat swirled for several minutes before the last defenders were overwhelmed. The Southerners “only succumbed as each man was individually overpowered,” [an enemy commander] reported.

“The fort was never surrendered,” Anderson recalled, “It was captured by overwhelming numbers.” Captain Nicholas B. Clinch, Anderson’s artillery commander, personified the Rebels’ mettle. Refusing to surrender, he became engaged ion a personal duel with [an enemy captain]. “The two fought for some minutes after the fighting had ceased,” a soldier recalled, “Both were good swordsmen and they were permitted to fight it out.” [The enemy captain] was “severely wounded about the head and shoulders” before other bluecoats intervened and subdued Clinch.

Bayoneted six times, sobered six times, and shot twice, Clinch was captured and survived the war. The fort was taken at 4:30PM, the assault lasting but fifteen minutes.”

(Civil War Savannah, Derek Smith, Frederic C. Beil, Publisher, 1997, pp. 173-178)

Defending Lee and Southern Heritage

A past historian of Lee’s Arlington mansion, Murray Nelligan, understood that Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton determined that the Lee family should never occupy their home again — placing a hospital on the grounds and a village for Negro refugees from the South. Not stopping there, he had a tax levied on the property which required payment by the owner in person. A relative of Mrs. Lee offered to pay the tax, but the authorities decided that such a procedure did not fulfill the letter of the law, so the estate was put up for sale at public auction on January 11, 1864, in Alexandria, Virginia. Congressman Graham Barden lectured Northern women on their continued sectional bitterness.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Defending Lee and Southern Heritage

“Barden’s opportunity to appear as a champion of the South occurred when a delegation of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic appeared before the [House] Library Committee to oppose a resolution to erect a memorial to Robert E. Lee near the mansion in Arlington.

Barden sat quietly and uncomfortably until the ladies attack upon Southern generals and the Confederacy turned into a tirade against the South and all Southerners. Then, as the only Southerner present on the committee, Barden came to the defense of not only Robert E. Lee, but of Southern heritage.

The congressman declared that he had “never heard such sectional bitterness expressed.” Answering the women’s insistence that Arlington National Cemetery was a “Union and not a Confederate graveyard” and that even though a few Confederate dead were buried there, Arlington was not a place to honor Confederates, Barden pointed out that in his home town of New Bern [North Carolina] a thousand Union soldiers were buried with honor in a beautiful cemetery.

He continued: “We of the South do not propose to keep our brains and characters befogged by bitterness and prejudice. The hospitality of the South has never been questioned, not even by a dead Union soldier.” [New Bern Sun-Journal, April 27, 1935]

The effectiveness of Barden’s position was apparent when the committee voted to report the Memorial bill favorably.”

(Graham A. Barden, Conservative Carolina Congressman, Elmer L. Puryear, Campbell University Press, 1979, excerpts, pp. 22-23)

 

Opposition to Crusading Programs of Some People

Federal aid to education had its beginnings in post-WW2 bills to assist local schools dealing with the increase of students caused by nearby military bases, and thus spurring a long-range policy of general aid to schools throughout the country followed by federal interference and control. Congressman Graham A. Barden of New Bern, North Carolina supported federal aid but without federal control.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Opposition to Crusading Programs of Some People

“Although Congress adjourned in 1950 without enacting a comprehensive aid program, Barden remained convinced that the public school system in most States were in great need of assistance . . . However, he was still insistent that the “Federal government must not have anything to do with the running of the schools” and that “tax money should go for public schools only.” While announcing his intention to continue work for Federal aid, he could not compromise on these two points.

Representative Jacob Javits questioned whether Federal funds could be used legally by segregated public schools. Barden, who was floor manager for the [H.R.5411] bill, heatedly replied that the question of segregated schools in the Carolinas was not the business of the congressman from New York.

All the bill did, Barden asserted, was to set up a system “that could operate without friction in the State in which it was located and become an integral part of the State, and not be part of any of these crusading programs that some people are so anxious to establish in the Country.” He suspected that Javits was simply creating dissension with the aim of settling nothing.

The President [Truman] said that the purpose of Barden’s bill was meritorious, but he objected to the provision requiring schools to conform to State laws . . . Baden was disappointed by Truman’s action because he believed that without the section to which the President objected, the bill’s passage would have been impossible.

Far more disturbing to the congressman than Republican control of Congress was the opinion of Chief Justice Earl Warren in Brown v. Board of Education . . . [and] many Southerners began to have second thoughts about Federal aid programs of all types. The decision probably accounted for Barden’s sudden disinterest in Federal aid. Immediately following the decision he wrote:

“The decision came as such a shock to us that as yet we aren’t able to evaluate all of its far-flung ramifications . . . I believe the decision was unwise, inappropriate and ill-timed, and it appears that political considerations were a controlling influence on the decree.”

With the Court’s decisions, knowing that Federal interference was bound to follow, he turned against the crusade for an aid program. He had always been opposed to Federal control, and perhaps as early as 1954 he clearly saw that Federal money would be the chief means of bringing . . . involvement by the Federal government in operation of the schools in the Southern States.

Because the Brown case dealt with racial matters, a lot of superficial analysts glibly checked off Barden’s opposition to Federal aid as being racially motivated. Their judgment was unsound. If the Brown case had dealt with something such as curriculum content, textbook selection or the like, his opposition would have been the same. What turned him off was not race, but the firm conviction that with Federal dollars came Federal regulators to interfere with the operation of the local schools.”

(Graham A. Barden, Conservative Carolina Congressman, Elmer L. Puryear, Campbell University Press, 1979, excerpts, pp. 101-108)

Civil Rights and Extending Executive Power

Barry Goldwater called so-called “civil rights” one of the most badly misunderstood concepts in modern political usage. He states that “as often as not, it is simply a name for describing an activity that someone deems politically or socially desirable. A sociologist writes a paper proposing to abolish some inequity, or a politician makes a speech about it – and, behold, a new “civil right” is born! The Supreme Court has displayed the same creative powers.”  Below, George Wallace predicts the true result of a so-called “civil rights” bill.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Civil Rights and Extending Executive Power

“I took off for my western tour in January 1964. I called the civil rights bill “the involuntary servitude act of 1964,” and I was applauded frequently. Outside a line of pickets carried the usual signs.

A reporter from India began to attack the South and its customs. He did not ask questions, he made accusations. I stopped him promptly. “I suggest you go home to India and work to end the rigid caste system before you criticize my part of the United States. In India a higher caste will not even deign to shake hands with a lower caste. Yet you cannot see the hypocrisy in your double standard.”

It was at UCLA that I told the press, “You know, free speech can get you killed.” My security advisors had warned me that I would have a difficult time and probably wouldn’t be allowed to finish my speech. We entered the auditorium from the rear to avoid a confrontation with the “non-violent” protesters. These “free-speech” advocates were there to make certain I didnt have an opportunity to exercise my right to free speech.

As I expected, most of the students had never read the [proposed] civil rights bill and didn’t know that its passage meant the right of the federal government to control numerous aspects of business, industry and our personal lives. I quoted Lloyd Wright, a Los Angeles attorney and former president of the American Bar Association: “The civil rights aspect of this legislation is but a cloak. Uncontrolled federal executive power is the body. It is 10 per cent civil rights and 90 per cent extension of the federal executive power.”

I denounced lawmaking by executive or court edict. And I lashed out against the press for its eagerness to bury a public official with smearing propaganda. I pointed out that the civil rights bill placed “in the hands of a few men in central government the power to create regulatory police arm unequaled in Western civilization.”

During one of my speaking engagements, a reporter asked me, “Do you have an alternative to the civil rights bill? This was an easy one. “Yes sir, the U.S. Constitution. It guarantees civil rights to all people, without violating the rights of anyone.”

I believe George Washington would have had words to say about the civil rights bill and the growing power of the federal government. These words from his Farewell Address are significant today:

“It is important, likewise, that [leaders] should confine themselves within their respective Constitutional spheres, avoiding, in the exercise of those powers of one department, to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism.”

(Stand Up For America, George C. Wallace, Doubleday & Company, 1976, pp. 84-89)

War to Exterminate Southerners

After the fall of Fort Fisher and occupation of Wilmington in January 1865, nearly 10,000 Northern prisoners were offered to the invaders for the taking — a humane gesture to reduce their suffering. Anxious to maintain the burden on the retreating Carolinians and force them to feed the prisoners with their own meager rations, the Northern commanders stalled. And it was Grant himself who ended the exchange of prisoners with Lincoln’s approval, thereby increasing the suffering at Andersonville.

George Templeton Strong was a Northern patriot who felt comfortable living behind the lines while his government lured domestic and foreign volunteers with generous bounties to maintain the “republic.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

War to Exterminate Southerners

Diary of the Civil War, George Templeton Strong, 29 March 1865:

“Our supplies sent by Chase reached Wilmington just at the right moment and saved scores of lives. His account of the condition of hundreds of returned prisoners, founded on personal inspection, is fearful. They have been starved into idiocy — do not know their names, or where their home is. Starvation has gangrened them into irrational, atrophied, moribund animals. No Bastille and no Inquisition dungeon has ever come up to the chivalric rebel pen for prisoners of war.

I do not think people quite see, even yet, the unexampled enormity of this crime. It is a new thing in the history of man. It definitely transcends the records of the guillotines and the concomitant nogades and fusillades. The disembowelment and decapitation of all men, women and children of a Chinese city convicted of rebel sympathies is an act of mercy compared with the politic, slow torture Davis and Lee have been inflicting on their prisoners, with the intent of making them unfit for service when exchanged.

I almost hope this war may last till it becomes a war of extermination. Southrons who could endure the knowledge that human creatures were undergoing this torture within their own borders, and who did not actively protest against it, deserve to be killed.

30 March 1865, page 571:

From observation at Wilmington, Agnew thinks the Southern “masses” are effete people, unable to take care of themselves now that their slave-holding lords and magnates are gone. A “local committee” at Wilmington is feeding four thousand Wilmingtonians all rations issued by the government. The white trash of even North Carolina is helpless and imbecile, unable to work or to reorganize the community.”

(Diary of George Templeton Strong, Allan Nevins, editor, MacMillan & Company, 1962)

No One-Dimensional History

Historian Benjamin B. Kendrick wrote in the Southern Review in 1936 that there exists those who would make history an “instrument of entertainment or of social control.” We can add that there also exists a “politics of history,” “the way in which political attitudes and views define the agenda and strongly influence the outcome of the historian’s research” — the result of which is a partial and incomplete account of history.  The following is excerpted from “Another Look at the Confederate Battle Flag” by Dr. Samuel C. Smith, dated August 7, 2015 and published on the Abbeville Institute website, www.abbevilleinstitute.org.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

No One-Dimensional History

“The modern knee-jerk reaction that the flag must be seen as nothing but a symbol of hate is a result of a seriously oversimplified view of history. As a historian I regularly alert my undergraduate and graduate students about the complex nature of the past. One of the hallmarks of what Cambridge historian Herbert Butterfield called the “Whig Interpretation of History” is the problem of oversimplification, especially as it exists in the academic profession.

[Writer Donald] Fraser has fallen into this most alluring historiographic trap. He is not alone, as many take this path of least resistance.

Fraser sees the Civil War as one-dimensional, with a simple monolithic cause—slavery. There is a bedrock rule-of-thumb in the historical discipline: nothing has one cause. Was slavery an issue in the Civil War? No doubt. Some southern heritage groups have unwisely tried to promote the idea that it was all about States’ rights without any reference to slavery. Anyone who reads history knows this is wrong.

By the same token, to boil something as complex as the Civil War down to nothing but slavery is equally simplistic and wrong. What about the Morrill Tariff that created a 47% tax targeting the agrarian South? Or what about the radical abolitionists who were calling for the death of all Southern slave owners, and the one radical, John Brown, who tried to make good on his promise?

Or what about Lincoln’s own admission at the outset of war that it was not in any way about freeing the slaves? He said in his first inaugural that he would go to war with the South for two reasons only: to re-secure federal property (forts) and collect the federal taxes.

Of course half-way through the war he issued the Emancipation Proclamation mainly to keep England from coming in as a Southern ally. To say the least, the causes and consequences of the Civil War were varied and complicated.”

Airlifted Whiskey at Gettysburg, 1938

Much of the credit for arranging the 1938 Gettysburg reunion of veterans was due to the intervention of Richmond Times-Dispatch editor Virginius Dabney, whose mother was descended from Thomas Jefferson and his grandfather a Confederate veteran. It was suggested that the final airlifted load of whiskey for the pint-flasks home was confiscated by the greatly outnumbered Rebel contingent.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Airlifted Whiskey at Gettysburg, 1938

“. . . One of the greatest stories of the era occurred in July, 1938, when some 1,800 surviving Northern and Southern veterans held a reunion at Gettysburg. But everyone who followed the copious preliminary press coverage knew that arranging this reunion was almost as perilous as the conflict that took place at Gettysburg in July 1863.

Plans for the reunion began as early as 1935, but some members of the Grand Army of the Republic said they would not foregather unless the Rebels left all their Confederate flags at home. And, indeed, earthier epithets were used for “Confederate flags.”

The Rebels not only insisted on bringing their “unsullied oriflammes.” Some of the more irascible stipulated: “There’ll be no damned reunion unless the Yankee government pays for some of the property their army destroyed, and just for the hell of destroying it.”

Many of the Yankees drew the line at “playing host for the damned Rebs,” and the Rebs, frequently in graphic language, told the Yankees where they “can put their invitations.” Finally, the idea, but not the practical vehicle, of a “joint reunion” was circumvented when the State of Pennsylvania asked both sides “to attend a gathering at Gettysburg.”

Most of the Confederates were escorted by boy scouts, and those who embarked from North Carolina to Gettysburg were cheered to the local train station by huge crowds and bands, wherever bands were available.

Amazingly, the non-reunion reunion of the old foes was as tranquil as the blue July clouds that hovered over the once-bloody fields of Gettysburg. There was only one formidable problem, and this, which gained national attention, was keeping the 1,800 nonagenarians supplied with drinking whiskey. As Virginius Dabney noted, “The Southern contingent was afflicted with a notable thirst, and principally because of this fact the original consignment of five cases of liquor was exhausted almost as soon as it was opened.”

The hosts had assumed that a small cup containing a couple teaspoons of whiskey would be an adequate drink for men pushing one hundred years. But the first time the whiskey ration was doled out, one 97-year-old Rebel snorted: “That ain’t even a good sniff, much less a drink.”

An airplane was sent for more booze, and it returned with twenty-two additional cases. When this was consumed, the same airplane brought fifteen more cases. While the extra fifteen cases managed to last-out the encampment, there was none left to “see the boys back home safely.” With the third supply, the last fifteen cases gone, the “airplane of mercy,” as some dispatches called it, “brought back enough whiskey for each of the Rebels to have a pint-flask for the trip home.”

By all accounts, the Rebels, even more outnumbered at Gettysburg than they had been seventy-three years before, won the battle of the bottle, walking sticks down. A wire service reported that one veteran, 104-years-old, but never designated as to side, was picked up suffering from acute alcoholism.

Many of the North Carolina chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy denounced the wire service “for printing vile slander,” but the clear implication of these frothy demurrers was that the unidentified 104-year-old alcoholic was a Yankee. As one local UDC regent reasoned, in a letter to several [daily newspapers], “If the poor man had been one of ours, you can bet your bottom dollar the Yankee reporters would have said so.”

(The Tar Heel Press, Thad Stem, Jr., NC Press Association, 1973, pp. 263-265)

Lincoln's Sable Arm in North Carolina

Former Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Moore Waddell of Wilmington, North Carolina was a prewar Whig, newspaper editor and opposed to the secession of his State. On July 26, 1865 he addressed a colored audience at the Wilmington Theater, advising them on their newly-conferred liberty and subsequent duties and responsibilities — and that the white people of the South they grew up with were not their enemies, despite what the carpetbag element was telling them. At the time he made the address, the black soldiers occupying were a lawless element who were arming local blacks and inciting them to insurrection.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Sable Arm in North Carolina

“[Alfred Moore Waddell of Wilmington wrote Reconstruction Governor W.W. Holden that] The town had a Negro garrison, and with its large Negro population was in a state of great alarm. [He] wrote the governor in early June [1866] that outrages by the troops were of daily occurrence and that the effect of the presence of the colored troops on the Negro population was very dangerous. Arrests [by colored troops] were constantly made without any cause, and in one instance the soldiers were instructed, if the person arrested said or did anything, to run him through [with the bayonet]. There was little or no redress, as unusual latitude was given the colored troops.

In July the mayor and commissioners wrote describing the conduct of the Negroes and the apprehension felt by the white people of an insurrection. The Negroes had demanded that they should have some of the city offices and had made threats when they were refused. The governor replied that the citizens had acted rightly in refusing to appoint Negroes to office, as the right to hold office depended on the right of suffrage. He also assured them that if the Negroes attempted by force to gain control of public affairs or avenge grievances suffered at the hands of the whites, they would be visited by swift punishment; but if obedient to the laws, they would be protected.

[In] Beaufort, a party [of colored soldiers] from Fort Macon committed a brutal rape and were also guilty of attempting the same crime a second time. They were arrested in the town and the garrison of Fort Macon threatened to turn its guns upon the town if they were not surrendered. The condition of affairs there was so bad that General [Thomas] Ruger forbade any soldier to leave the fort except under a white officer.

Near Wilmington, Thomas Pickett was murdered and his two daughters seriously wounded by three soldiers from the Negro garrison at Fort Fisher in company of a Negro from Wilmington. In Kinston, a citizen was beaten by the soldiers, and upon Governor Holden’s complaint to General Ruger, the garrison was removed. Soon afterwards the governor notified General Ruger that a [railroad] car of muskets and ammunition had been side-tracked at Auburn, and while left unguarded had been opened by the freedmen and its contents distributed. The possessors of the arms then became the terror of the community.

Complaints of colored troops were also sent in from New Bern, Windsor, and other eastern towns. In September 1866, the last remaining regiment of Negro [troops] was mustered out, and that cause of discontent disappeared. The white [Northern] troops as a general thing, after the confusion incident to the surrender was over, behaved well. In Asheville, however, they were so disorderly and undisciplined that great efforts were made by the citizens to have them withdrawn.”

(Reconstruction in North Carolina, Joseph D.R. Hamilton, Books for Libraries Press, 1914/1971, pp. 159-161)

Grant's Royal Robes

Imprisoned by scalawag Governor William Holden for alleged activities with North Carolina’s postwar Klan as it fought Holden’s Union League, Randolph A. Shotwell spent three hard years in an Albany, NY prison, which he termed the “Radical Bastille.” The prison staff was instructed to use any means to extract confessions of Klan outrages and lists of Klan members in North Carolina. Below, Shotwell criticizes the 1872 victory of Grant’s corrupt administration and the low quality of the Northern electorate.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
Grant’s Royal Robes

“Nov. 6th. All is over! The Great Farce, (the Presidential Election) closed yesterday, as had been foreseen for the past month, with a complete triumph for the Bully Butcher, and National Gift Taker. Grant walked the track. Telegraphic reports from all quarters leave it doubtful whether [Horace] Greeley will get a single vote. Even New York – the Democratic Old Guard – surrenders to the tune of 3500 majority for the “Coming Man.”

Twenty-five other States are in the same column – marching the Despot gaily to his throne! Selah! It is absolutely amazing, the apathy, the blindness, the infatuation of the people!

Is there no longer an patriotism, any conservatism in the land? What do we see this day? A nation yielding its elective franchise to elect a worse than Napoleonic despot! I say the nation yields its franchises because no one believes that Grant is the choice of the people, that he is worthy of the high Authority which is now his for another term and doubtless for life.

Bu corruption, and greed, and avarice, and fear, and Prejudice, and Misrepresentation, every malignant passion, every illegal and dishonorable means have been made to bring about the stupendous result. And now, what next?

Historians tell us that every Republic that has fallen, to shake the faith of man in his own capacity for government, has been, preceding its final fall, the scene of just such transactions as these; sectional prejudices, the majority trampling on the minority, the courts corrupted and used for political ends, open corruption in office, bribery of voters, use of the military to intimidate the opposition, great monopolies supporting the most promising candidates, and finally much unanimity in favor of some popular leader, who quietly took the crown and Royal Robes when a suitable opportunity occurred.

This is the political panorama now unfolding, slowly but surely, in our own country. The end we may almost see. And then bloodshed, insurrections, turbulence and anarchy! I do not predict that all of this is to occur in a year or two; it may be postponed for a score of years. But one thing is certain it will not be half so long, nor a third of it, if the Government continues to usurp power, and hold it, as it has done during the last decade.”

(The Diary, 1871-1873, The Papers of R. A. Shotwell, Volume III, Jos. D.R. Hamilton, editor, NC Historical Commission, 1936, pp. 276-277)

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