Browsing "Aftermath: Destruction"

Menacing Tide of Abolitionist Fanaticism

A youth of fifteen when Fort Sumter fell, Walter Clark rose to the rank of major in the 35th North Carolina Regiment by the end of the war. Like most Southern men at the end of the war, he went back to his farm to eke out a living amongst the devastation. He found that an undependable labor supply would not bode well for the economic future of the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Menacing Tide of Abolitionist Fanaticism

“[At the close of the war] . . . the former slaves were thoroughly confused. These Negroes were being deceived by the report that Lincoln had promised to give each family a mule and forty acres of land and that they as free citizens would not have to work for anyone. Thus demoralized and imbued with false hopes, they staged the first great “sit down strike.” In an effort to secure dependable labor for the plantation, Clark visited Raleigh, Baltimore and even New York, but with little success.

On December 2nd 1865 he wrote [to the Raleigh Sentinel]:

“The picture of abandoned farms, stagnated business, a dejected people and open lawlessness is fearful to contemplate. We must rid ourselves of the dead body of slavery, and with it dispose of the perplexing problems of Negro suffrage and Negro equality forever. We have fertile lands, navigable rivers, inexhaustible mines, and a brave and generous people. We need labor to develop these resources and improve our advantages. To do this, however, the labor must be dependable. The conduct of the newly emancipated freedmen is a problem yet to be solved by the future. The prosperity of a great State should not depend upon a contingency.”

Clark pointed out that if the resolution for the abolition of slavery introduced in the Virginia and Kentucky legislatures in 1831 and 1832 had not been defeated by the menacing tide of [abolitionist] fanaticism, our own interests would have long since led us to abolish a system which is “at variance with the spirit of our institutions and the genius of the age and has been fraught with the most baneful effects.”

He strongly urged the importation of free white labor and advocated the industrial development of the State, saying: “The broad fertile fields, unexplored mines, unimproved waterpower and dwarf cities of North Carolina are imperiously calling for the influx of population.”

(Walter Clark, Fighting Judge, Aubrey Lee Brooks, UNC Press, 1944, pp.37-39)

 

The Union League of the Republican Party

In the midst of the mostly inflammatory influence of the Republican’s Union League upon the freedmen, the Ku Klux Klan emerged in the immediate postwar. To underscore the Union League’s destructiveness, an 1870 Congressional Committee report provided this indictment of Republican rule over the conquered South: “[The] hatred of the white race was instilled [by the League] into the minds of these ignorant people by every art and vile that bad men could devise; when the Negroes were formed into military organizations and the white people of these States were denied the use of arms; when arson, rape, robbery and murder were things of daily occurrence, . . . and that what little they had saved from the ravages of war was being confiscated by taxation . . . many of them took the law into their own hands and did deeds of violence which we neither justify or excuse. But all history shows that bad government will make bad citizens.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Union League of the Republican Party

“The nocturnal secrecy of the gatherings, the weird initiation ceremonies, the emblems of virtue and religion, the songs, the appeal to such patriotic shibboleths as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Flag, and the Union, the glittering platitudes in the interest of social uplift — all these characteristics of the League had an irresistible appeal to a ceremony-loving, singing, moralistic and loyal race. That the purposes of the order, when reduced to the practical, meant that the Negro had become the emotional and intellectual slaves of the white Radical did not dull the Negro’s enthusiasm, he was accustomed to be a slave to the white man” [South Carolina During Reconstruction, Simkins & Woody, page 7].

The Union League gave the freedmen their first experience in parliamentary law and debating . . . the members were active in the meetings, joining in the debate and prone to heckle the speakers with questions and points of order. Observers frequently reported the presence of rifles at political rallies, usually stacked in a clump of bushes behind the speaker’s platform, sometimes the womenfolk left to guard them.

In the autumn of 1867, a League chapter made up mostly of blacks, but with a white president named Bryce, was holding a meeting with its usual armed sentries on the perimeter. When a poor white named Smith tried to enter the meeting, shots were fired; there followed a general alarm and, subsequently, a melee with a white debating club nearby. The Negroes rushed out; Smith fled, hotly pursued to the schoolhouse; the members of the debating club broke up in a panic and endeavored to escape; a second pistol was fired and a boy of fourteen named Hunnicutt, the son of a respectable [white] citizen, fell dead.

[Carpetbagger John W. De Forest wrote]: “The Negroes, unaware apparently that they had done anything wrong, believing, on the contrary, that they were re-establishing public order and enforcing justice, commenced patrolling the neighborhood, entering every house and arresting numbers of citizens. They marched in double file, pistol in belt and gun at the shoulder, keeping step to the “hup, hup!” of a fellow called Lame Sam, who acted as drill sergeant and commander. By noon of the next day they had the country for miles around in their power, and the majority of the male whites under their guard.”

(Black Over White, Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina During Reconstruction, Thomas Holt, University of Illinois Press, 1977, pp. 29-32)

 

Vandals and Goths at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina survived the war but found itself in desperate condition when Northern carpetbaggers and local scalawags assumed control of State government in 1868. Historian Hugh Talmage Lefler wrote: “Lack of public confidence, financial support, and students closed the University in 1870. A student expressed it graphically when he wrote of a classroom blackboard: “Today this University busted and went to hell.” The University was reopened in 1875 after North Carolinians regained political control of their State.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Vandals and Goths at Chapel Hill

“Of the seventy-eight new Trustees of the University, only four had been members of the former Board, and they were men who had seldom attended meetings of the Trustees and really cared very little about the fate of the University. At the meeting of the new Board in Raleigh, in June 1868, several names were brought forward for the presidency.

After several days of travail the Board brought forth Mr. Solomon Pool, a native of Elizabeth City, North Carolina . . . To be sure, he had no “established reputation” for scholarship, though he was a man of some ability. Immediately after the close of “The War” in 1866, Mr. Pool had resigned his position as Tutor in the University to take a job as a Deputy Appraiser in the Revenue Service of the hated Reconstruction Government, allying himself with the Republican party.

The word “opportunist” had not been invented, but “traitor,” “renegade,” and “apostate” were freely hurled at his complacent head. Mr. Joseph [Engelhard], editor of the Wilmington Journal, said in one issue of his paper that the University was “infested with pismires” (termites?) and the very next week he wrote that it was “presided over by nincompoops.”

The Board of Trustees had its own troubles in forming a new faculty. Mr. S.[S]. Ashley, a Massachusetts Yankee, who was Superintendent of Public Education, placed a relative, James A. Martling, in the “Chair of Belles Lettres,” whatever that means. The Martling family occupied the house recently made vacant by my grandfather’s death, and June Spencer and I, living next door, watched with scornful eyes the daughters of the family . . . with their village beaux on the piazza or strolling in the moonlight, but there was no communication between us.

George Dickson, Professor of Agriculture, was a Friend from Philadelphia who came South as a missionary to the Negroes. He brought Bibles, Testaments, and hymn books from the good Quakers of his city, a fine and generous gesture – if only the recipients had been able to read. Friend Dickson went to England to inquire into some new ideas in agriculture for the benefit of the South. He never came back.

During the first year of the Reconstruction Administration there were thirty-five students in attendance . . . just little bare-foot boys from the village and the adjoining country, with their home-made breeches held up by a string across one shoulder, and their dinner in a little tin bucket. Now and then a small black face appeared among them. None of them knew what it was all about. It was just a grand frolic for them to be “goin’ to college.”

Nor were the pupils altogether appreciative of their advantages. We find one A.J. Banks haled before the faculty for non-attendance upon his classes. His excuse was that he did not want to study Greek, nor did he want to stay in college with “them Yanks.”

The grim record shows that the Archives of the Literary Societies were broken into and their contents scattered. A box of Siamese curios presented to the University by the Reverend Daniel McGilvary, a Presbyterian missionary to Siam, was broken, and objects of rare beauty and great value stolen or destroyed. Scientific apparatus was smashed into bits, and great damage was done to the buildings and libraries of the University . . . owls and bats flew in the broken windows of the buildings, the campus was a jungle of weeds, cattle and hogs roamed the unlighted streets at night.

From a charming, dignified home of cultured people, who enjoyed a gracious society, Chapel Hill had become a desolate, silent wilderness. Even the strangers who composed the puppet faculty disliked each other, the village, the State, and the institution they were expected to serve.”

(A Rare Pattern, Lucy Phillips Russell, UNC Press, 1957, pp. 45-49)

Northern Vandals Liberate Wilmington Furniture

Considered one of Wilmington, North Carolina’s antebellum architectural treasures, the Dr. John D. Bellamy mansion was seized by Northern General Joseph R. Hawley in February 1865 for use as his headquarters while occupying the city — ironically, Hawley was a native North Carolinian. Bellamy’s daughter Ellen was a young girl at the time and later recalled vivid memories of the enemy invasion.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Northern Vandals Liberate Wilmington Furniture

“The Federal troops captured Wilmington on February 21, 1865; they took possession of our home, which we had temporarily vacated, and it remained General Hawley Headquarters a long time, even after Lee’s surrender. It was very galling . . .”

[Mother] came up to own dear house, accompanied by a friendly neighbor . . . who was related to General Hawley, and had offered to introduce her. It was most humiliating, and trying, to be entertained by Mrs. Hawley, in her own parlor. Mrs. Hawley showed her raising by “hawking and spitting” in the fire, a most unlady-like act. During the call she offered Mother some figs (from Mother’s own tree) which Aunt Sarah had picked — our own old cook, who had been left there in charge of the premises.

My father made several trips to . . . Washington City before they would grant him his “Pardon.” For what? For being a Southern Gentlemen, a Rebel, and a large Slave Owner! The slaves he had inherited from his father, and which he considered a sacred trust. Being a physician, he guarded their health, kept a faithful overseer to look after them (his home being a regular drug store), and employed a Methodist minister, Rev. Mr. Turrentine, by the year, to look after their spiritual welfare.

Although the war was practically over seven months, we did not get possession of our home ‘till September. [T]he beautiful white marble mantles in the two parlors were so caked with tobacco spit and garbs of chewed tobacco, they were cleaned with great difficulty; indeed, the white marble hearths are still stained . . . No furniture had been left in the parlors . . . On leaving here, the Yankees gave [the] furniture to a servant . . .” In our sitting room, our large mahogany bookcase was left, as it was too bulky for them to carry off; but from its drawers numerous things were taken, among them an autograph album belonging to me brother Marsden.

A number of years later, when my brother John was in Washington as a member of Congress, this same Hawley, then a senator from Illinois, told him of the album “coming into his possession” when he occupied our house, and said he would restore it to him. However, he took care not to do it, although repeatedly reminded.”

(Back With The Tide, Memoirs of Ellen D. Bellamy, Bellamy Mansion Museum 2002, pp. 5-8)

Vandals Pickax the Pews Again

Wilmington, North Carolina’s St. James Parish was violated and ransacked twice in eighty-five years by foreign invaders, first in 1780. In 1865, Rector Dr. Alfred A. Watson wrote Northern General Hawley, demanding his church back and citing it as an infringement on the great Constitutional principle of religious freedom. Dr. Watson refused Hawley’s order to offer prayers for Abraham Lincoln, stating that “Because to ask it of me is to ask me to mock my Maker. What is proposed is not to restrain the Church from uttering prayers hostile to the government, but to require the Church to offer prayers specifically in its favor.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Vandals Pickaxe the Pews Again

“After the capture of Wilmington this venerable church, established in 1738, was seized by order of General Hawley for a military hospital, and in giving an account of it the rector, Dr. Watson (afterward Bishop of the Diocese) reported to the Diocesan Convention of 1866 as follows:

“This was not the first calamity of the sort in the history of the Parish Church of St. James. In 1780, during the occupation of Wilmington by British troops the church was stripped of its pews and furniture, and converted, first into a hospital, then into a blockhouse, and finally into a riding school for Tarleton’s dragoons.

In 1865 the pews were once again torn out with pickaxes . . . There was sufficient room elsewhere, more suitable for hospital purposes. Other hospitals had to be emptied to supply even half the beds in the church which were indeed, never more than half filled.”

(Some Memories of My Life, Alfred Moore Waddell, Edwards & Broughton, pp. 58-59)

Reconstruction, the Most Shameful Period of Our History

The following is an excerpt from an 1892 address by Lt. Col. Alfred Moore Waddell to the Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina. He served as a United States Congress 1871-1879.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Reconstruction, the Most Shameful Period of Our History

“[Reconstruction] constitutes the one indelible and appalling disgrace of the American people — the one chapter of their history which contains no redeeming feature to relieve it from the endless execration of the civilized world.

A distinguished orator from a Northern State declared in Congress in 1872 that one-third of the boundaries of this Republic had been filled “with all the curses and calamities ever recorded in the annals of the worst governments known on the pages of history,” and attacking the [radical Republican] authors of these calamities, he exclaimed,

“From turret to foundation you tore down the governments of eleven States. You left not one stone upon another. You rent all their local laws and machinery into fragments, and trampled upon their ruins. Not a vestige of their former construction remained.”

And again he said:

“A more sweeping and universal exclusion from all the benefits, rights, trusts, honors, enjoyments, liberties, and control of government was never enacted against a whole people, without respect to age or sex, in the annals of the human race. The disgraceful disabilities imposed against the Jews for nearly eighteen hundred years by the blind and bigoted nations of the earth were never more complete or appalling.”

Those old enough to remember that most shameful period of our history will readily recall the degradation, the crimes against civilization, and the terrorism which then prevailed, and how, amidst the general dismay, the faint-hearted stood helpless and silent before the arbitrary and reckless power exercised over them.”

(The Life and Character of William L. Saunders, address to the Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina, Tuesday, May 31, 1892, Col. Alfred Moore Waddell of Wilmington)

War of Conquest, Not Emancipation

Following the War Between the States, the freedmen were exploited by the infamous Union League to help ensure the election of Northern radical Republicans who exploited and bankrupted the exhausted South.  The emergence of the Ku Klan Klan was a predictable result.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

War of Conquest, Not Emancipation  

“Reconstruction” is a curious name to apply to the period following the war. Indeed, the war had left widespread destruction, but the government in Washington had no policy of reconstruction.  The South was left to its own economic devices, which largely amounted to being exploited by Northern interests who took advantage of cheap land, cheap labor, and readily available natural resources. This exploitation and neglect created an economic morass, the results of which endure into the twenty-first century.

Not surprisingly, governments based on the leadership of carpetbaggers, scalawags, and freedmen, groups that represented a minority of the population, met widespread and violent opposition. This attempt to create a government based on racial equality was made even more ludicrous when many of [the] Northern States rejected the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, creating a situation where the States that said they had worked to free the slaves failed to grant equality to people of color.

(Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Escort and Staff, Michael R. Bradley, Pelican Publishing Company,

Cuba Libre Si, Southern Libre No

Thirty-three years after Appomattox the United States Congress, still dominated by Republicans, resolved that the oppressed and invaded Cuban people “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent.” A further irony is that Captain-General Valeriano “Butcher” Weyler, who instituted the cruel “reconcentrado” policy in Cuba, was a young Spanish attache in Washington observing the War Between the States, and especially, Sherman’s brutal tactics to subjugate Americans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Cuba Libre Si, Southern Libre No

“When the civil war in Cuba began in 1895 the old methods of resistance were adopted by the insurgents, and although 200,000 Spanish troops were sent to Cuba the revolt was not suppressed. Small bands struck at Spanish detachments, raided from the swamps the plantations of the cane growers, or levied contributions on property owners. They had the sympathy of the poorer men in general, from whom they received supplies or recruits.

To put down this form of resistance demanded more enterprising soldiers than Spain’s. General [Valeriano] Weyler, the Captain-General, undertook to overcome it with a decree of reconcentration. In 1896 he ordered all Cubans living outside of garrison towns to move within such towns or be treated as rebels. The inhabitants, forced to leave their homes, were huddled together in narrow spaces in towns and, provided with little food, many died from malnutrition.

[President William] McKinley, less inclined than [his predecessor Grover] Cleveland to oppose the public [sentiment], took a more earnest attitude with Spain. [On] June 27, 1897 he protested to Madrid against the harsh policy adopted by [General Weyler] and against reconcentration in particular.

Spain replied that the situation was not as bad as represented and that reconcentration was no worse than the devastation in the Civil War by [Northern Generals] Sheridan and Hunter in the Shenandoah Valley and by Sherman in Georgia.

[On] April 11 [1898] the President laid before Congress the whole Cuban question . . . Congress took a week to debate and on April 19 adopted resolutions declaring that the right of the people Cuba “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent” and empowering the President to use force to carry these resolutions into effect.”

(Expansion and Reform, 1889-1926, John Spencer Bassett, Kennikat Press, 1971 (original 1926), pp. 71-72; 76)

 

Will the South Survive?

Southern States seem to be outbidding each other on how many tax dollars can be given away to big business or Hollywood and calling the extortion “economic incentives” —  thinking that somehow it is the duty and obligation of government to create employment for all. The current onslaught against the South has brought the social equality-greeting “you guys,” dinner is now called “lunch,” and supper is referred to as “dinner.” The book below can be ordered from www.dogwoodmudhole.com.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

 Will the South Survive?

“The Tullahoma local newspaper reported that the town was trying to pass liquor by the drink laws to woo “up-scale” restaurants to locate themselves at the interstate interchanges. Such new South boosterism has made heavy inroads into local culture.

New South boosterism began in the nineteenth century with Henry Grady, editor of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper. Boosters and their legislation promised that all the South needed was to give up everything that makes us the south and become just like the North, and we would all be happy and wealthy (nobody mentions boring).

A Chamber of Commerce might conclude that we need to entice more national chains to establish prosperity, but chains and industry move elsewhere, leaving behind unemployment, a victim mentality, and no lasting prosperity. I call this kind of approach, “homo economicus” anthropology. It reduces everything – and every man – to a question of money.

One hundred and twenty years later, the promised still haven’t been fulfilled. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, or puke, but I am pretty sure that passing liquor-by-the-drink laws will not bring economic nirvana to Tullahoma. When you make a bargain to sell your soul, first make sure that the devil can pay.

Will boosterism finally gobble up the South? On the surface, the homogenization of culture that come with the local economy relying on big business and chain stores means we are steadily being de-Southernized. The whole effect is to homogenize and standardize the landscape. That seems to be proceeding fast, while the people themselves seem unchanged. What’s happening to the roots of Southern culture is anybody’s guess. On the outside the country here is peaceful, pleasant, friendly, independent and helpful, but at the same time there’s that welfare mentality, some very fat people, and loads of government economic intervention.

The courthouses at the heart of each county tell this story of the South eloquently. Giles County 1910 courthouse retains the integrity of the South’s past. In Lawrenceburg sits a hideous 1960s “Modern” courthouse. In Waynesboro looms a 1970s tenement-style concrete slab. In Winchester squats a blocky 1936 “American fascist” look that would gladden the heart of any fascist or Soviet architect.

Gone are the stately courthouses, the statues of soldiers holding muskets and facing north, symbols of the community’s continuity and long life, and with them fast disappears our local history.

Nevertheless, many of these counties have attracted back-to-the-land, simple-life people, and their roots are permanent so they will recreate permanent prosperity. The land is rich, the people true, the leadership clueless. I could move elsewhere, but Tennessee is my home. Our family could do a lot worse than finding itself at home here.

Perhaps the fate of the Magic Road says it all. The State is turning Highway Sixty-four into a four-lane, bypassing exquisite little villages like McBurg and big towns alike. I know it’s faster, but God help me, I do love the old road better.”

(At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, Vol. 1, Franklin Sanders, Four Rivers, Inc. pp. 37-39)

Death is Mercy to Secessionists

Sherman viewed Southerners as he later viewed American Indians, to be exterminated or banished to reservations as punishment for having resisted government power. They were subjects and merely temporary occupants of land belonging to his government whom they served. The revealing excerpts below are taken from “Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama,” published in 1872.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Death is Mercy to Secessionists

Headquarters, Department of Tennessee, Vicksburg, January 1, 1863.

[To] Major R. M. Sawyer, AAG Army of Tennessee, Huntsville:

“Dear Sawyer — In my former letter I have answered all your questions save one, and that relates to the treatment of inhabitants known, or suspected to be, hostile or “secesh.”  The war which prevails in our land is essentially a war of races. The Southern people entered into a clear compact of government, but still maintained a species of separate interests, history and prejudices. These latter became stronger and stronger, till they have led to war, which has developed the fruits of the bitterest kind.

We of the North are, beyond all question, right in our lawful cause, but we are not bound to ignore the fact that the people of the South have prejudices that form part of their nature, and which they cannot throw off without an effort of reason or the slower process of natural change.

Now, the question arises, should we treat as absolute enemies all in the South who differ with us in opinions or prejudices . . . [and] kill or banish them? Or should we give them time to think and gradually change their conduct so as to conform to the new order of things which is slowly and gradually creeping into their country?

When men take arms to resist our rightful authority, we are compelled to use force because all reason and argument ceases when arms are resorted to.

If the people, or any of them, keep up a correspondence with parties in hostility, they are spies, and can be punished with death or minor punishment. These are well established principles of war, and the people of the South having appealed to war, are barred from appealing to our Constitution, which they have practically and publicly defied. They have appealed to war and must abide its rules and laws.

The United States, as a belligerent party claiming right in the soil as the ultimate sovereign, have a right to change the population, and it may be and it, both politic and best, that we should do so in certain districts. When the inhabitants persist too long in hostility, it may be both politic and right that we should banish them and appropriate their lands to a more loyal and useful population.

No man would deny that the United States would be benefited by dispossessing a single prejudiced, hard-headed and disloyal planter and substitute in his place a dozen or more patient, industrious, good families, even if they be of foreign birth.

It is all idle nonsense for these Southern planters to say that they made the South, that they own it, and that they can do as they please — even to break up our government, and to shut up the natural avenues of trade, intercourse and commerce.

We know, and they know if they are intelligent beings, that, as compared with the whole world they are but as five millions are to one thousand millions — that they did not create the land — that their only title to its use and enjoyment is the deed of the United States, and if they appeal to war they hold their all by a very insecure tenure.

For my part, I believe that this war is the result of false political doctrine, for which we are all as a people responsible, viz:  That any and every people has a right to self-government . . . In this belief, while I assert for our Government the highest military prerogatives, I am willing to bear in patience that political nonsense of . . . State Rights, freedom of conscience, freedom of press, and other such trash as have deluded the Southern people into war, anarchy, bloodshed, and the foulest crimes that have disgraced any time or any people.

I would advise the commanding officers at Huntsville and such other towns as are occupied by our troops, to assemble the inhabitants and explain to them these plain, self-evident propositions, and tell them that it is for them now to say whether they and their children shall inherit their share.

The Government of the United States has in North-Alabama any and all rights which they choose to enforce in war — to take their lives, their homes, their lands, their everything . . . and war is simply power unrestrained by constitution or compact. If they want eternal warfare, well and good; we will accept the issue and dispossess them, and put our friends in possession. Many, many people, with less pertinacity than the South, have been wiped out of national existence.

To those who submit to the rightful law and authority, all gentleness and forbearance; but to the petulant and persistent secessionists, why, death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of the better. Satan and the rebellious saints of heaven were allowed a continuance of existence in hell merely to swell their just punishment.”

W.T. Sherman, Major General Commanding

(Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama, William Garrett, Plantation Printing Company’s Press, 1872, pp. 486-488)