Browsing "Crimes of War"

Captain Beall Executed by the Hypocritical Dix

Captain John Yates Beall, a Southern officer, was captured at the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge in December of 1864 after attempts to capture the USS Michigan on Lake Erie, free Confederate prisoners held at Johnson’s Island, and rescue seven imprisoned Southern generals near Buffalo. For taking the brutal war to the Northern border of the United States in retaliation for Sherman’s and others crimes in his country, he was hung as a “guerilla” on February 24, 1865.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Captain Beall Executed by the Hypocritical Dix

“Mounting the platform, the prisoner takes his seat upon the chair immediately under the fatal rope. The adjutant of the post commences to read the charges, specifications and the orders of General Dix for his execution.

Beall, little dreaming of the test to which he is to be subjected, rises respectfully when the reading is commenced . . . When he hears himself designated as a citizen of the “insurgent State of Virginia” his smile grows intensely sad and significant; he sees now the men before him no longer as his own murderers only, but as the executioners of a sovereign State – his own beloved Virginia, and he smiles not in derision, but in protest and remonstrance.

Again when they denounce his heroic attempt to rescue from a vault the souls of three thousand fellow-soldiers, “piracy,” he smiles; but when the accuse him of an attempt as a “guerilla” to “destroy the lives and property of peaceable, and unoffending inhabitants of said State” (New York), he ceases to smile, and mournfully shakes his head in denial. But finally, when the adjutant reaches the concluding passages of the order of General Dix . . . Beall laughs outright . . .”

The reporters do not understand the joke; the truth is, Beall hears this homily upon the proprieties of war coming from a Federal officer; he hears it, whose home is in the valley of the Shenandoah! There rises up before him his own homestead, its desolated fields, its level forests, the ash heaps which now mark the positions of its once beautiful, and cottage-like out-houses; and the thousand other vestiges of rural beauty despoiled by the brutality of the Federal soldiers, in its unrestrained career of pillage, plunder, wholesale robbery, and wanton destruction.

He hears the protests of his helpless mother, and her appeals for protection heeded only by the God of the widow and fatherless. He remembers the deep burning insults which Federal officers have heaped, in their language, upon his own sisters. He hears in the hypocritical cant of General Dix that officer’s own self-condemnation; and knows that every breath which the commanding general draws is in default of the penalty which he attaches to the violation of the laws of civilized warfare.

He hears a sermon on the “rule which govern sovereign States in the conduct of hostilities with each other,” by the man who, through his unlicensed, ill-disciplined, unrestrained, and unpunished soldiery, laid in ashes William and Mary College, an institution whose associations were hallowed by the literary nurture of the fathers of the Republic, and whose vulnerable walls were whitened by the frosts of a century.

A general who, after an arduous campaign, succeeded in capturing a lunatic asylum, and who is said to have tendered to its patients the oath of loyalty to the United States, and who is known to have treated its refractory and unfortunate inmates with cruelty and inhumanity.

Turning upon the officer of the day, he speaks in a calm, firm voice. “I protest against the execution of this sentence. It is a murder! I die in the service and defense of my country!  Thus died in the thirty-first year of his age, on the scaffold, John Yates Beall.”

(Confederate Operations in Canada and New York, John W. Headley, Neale Publishing Company, 1906, pp. 365-366)

Lincoln, Grant and Beast Butler

President John Tyler’s son Lyon Gardiner Tyler was incensed in 1917 by a New York Times editorial which compared Southern planters to Hohenzollern autocrats plaguing the world. In 1928, Tyler was provoked again when the Virginia legislature adjourned on Lincoln’s birthday and declared publicly that Lincoln did not merit the honor. Time magazine fired back that President Tyler was a dwarf in comparison to the rail splitter, and Lyon published a book in 1929 defending his distinguished father – who had met Thomas Jefferson as a boy.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln, Grant and Beast Butler

“The reader of [Dr. Tyler’s] book will also have called to his attention the fact that in the recent World War this country had its flag fired upon time and time again and its citizens killed on the high seas without resorting to war, and Lincoln knew that the capturing of a fort guarding and controlling the most important city of South Carolina meant merely protection for that city and not an attack on the North.

It could be likewise been shown here that just a matter of weeks before the ballyhoo about “firing on the flag” at Sumter had been set to work to enrage the North, the flag had been fired upon when the Star of the West was shot at and turned back, but under Buchanan’s calm rule there was practically no excitement.

As to Lincoln’s cabinet [in contrast to John Tyler’s], “the accounts teems with the insubordinate actions of Seward, Stanton and Chase, to say nothing of Welles, while Stanton and Chase reveled in insults to Lincoln.”

As to the ideas of the two men in regard to personal responsibility and family obligations . . . ”Lincoln wrote to Grant in February 1865 (the war almost over), asking that his son, aged twenty-two, who had been kept at Harvard in spite of the draft, should be put on his staff and “not in the ranks.” President Tyler had four grandsons in the Confederate army, one of whom was killed and another wounded, and two sons by his second marriage who surrendered at Appomattox, aged sixteen and seventeen.”

“When [Beast] Butler issued his notorious “Order N0. 28” at New Orleans (an order that shocked decent humanity), which Lord Palmerson, the Prime Minister of England declared in the British Parliament was “unfit to be written in the English language;” Lincoln did not revoke the order, but on the contrary promoted Butler to responsible positions and wanted him as his running mate for the vice presidency in 1864. Yet Butler is the man who, Dr. John Fiske declared, “could not have understood in the smallest degree the feelings of gentlemen.”

(John Tyler and Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Lyon G. Tyler; book review by A. H. Jennings, Confederate Veteran, June 1929, pp. 213-214)

Sherman's Escaped Fiends from the Lower Regions

After terrorizing the civilian population of Georgia and South Carolina, the enemy entered North Carolina in early March 1865 to bring the same to its women and children living in their path. Houses were ransacked for anything of value, livestock was taken or killed, and the defenseless were left to starve.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Sherman’s Escaped Fiends from the Lower Regions

“General Sherman was traveling with the Fifteenth Corps on March 8 [1865] when it crossed the line into North Carolina, and that evening both the General and the corps went into camp near Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church, a region his soldiers thought looked “Real northern-like. Small farms and nice white, tidy dwellings.”

General Sherman, still riding with the Fifteenth Corps, took refuge on the night of March 9 from a “terrible storm of rain” in a little Presbyterian church called Bethel. Refusing a bit of carpet one of his staff had improvised into a bed on the pulpit platform, the General stretched himself out on one of the wooden pews for the night. Not far from Bethel Church, at the meeting hall of the Richmond Temperance and Literary Society, could be found another reminder of Sherman’s visit. J.M. Johnson, secretary of the society, entering in the minutes, April 22, 1865:

“After a considerable interruption, caused by the unwelcome visit of Sherman’s thieves, the Society meets again. And, of course, when God’s own house is outraged by the Yankee brutes, temples of morality and science will not be respected.  We find the ornaments of our fair little Hall shattered and ruined; our book shelves empty; the grove strewn with fragments of valuable, precious volumes; the speeches and productions of members who are sleeping in their silent graves, torn and trampled in the mire, “as pearls before the swine.”

“Ye illiterate beasts! Ye children of vice! Ye have not yet demoralized us, Today we marshal our little band again; and with three cheers for Temperance and literature, unfurl our triumphant banner to the breeze.”

A resident of the village of Philadelphus [Robeson county], after passing through “the ordeal of brutal, inhuman and merciless Yankeeism,” wrote: “They visited us in torrents,” and acted like “escaped fiends from the lower regions . . . ”

(The Civil War in North Carolina, John G. Barrett, UNC Press, 1963, pp. 301-302)

 

Butcher Weyler, Sherman's Understudy

The yellow-journalism American press railed at Spain’s decision to assign “Butcher” Weyler to solve the problem of Cubans seeking independence, though forgetting that it was Lincoln’s own General William T. Sherman who had taught Weyler how to carry total war to an American people seeking independence.  The New York papers in 1864-65 did not describe Sherman as “a butcher, rapist and a Torqemada of torture.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Butcher Weyler, Sherman’s Understudy

“In the circumstances, one can pity General Valeriano Weyler, who had been sent to Cuba by the Queen Regent of Spain with orders to put down the rebellion. He arrived to find himself described by New York newspapers as a butcher, rapist, and a Torquemada of torture.

A fifty-nine-year-old professional soldier, short and broad-shouldered, Weyler as a young officer had been a military attaché at the Spanish legation in Washington during the Civil War, and as an observer had accompanied Sherman on his march through Georgia. He had admired Sherman, but his liking for things American was dwindling.

He read things in the American papers he could scarcely credit. Miss Nellie Bly, the World reporter who had gone around the world in seventy-two days, announced that she planned to recruit a regiment of volunteers, officered by women, to fight for Cuban independence.

“The Cubans are fighting us openly,” Weyler said. “The Americans are fighting us secretly . . . The American newspapers are responsible. They poison everything with falsehood.”

The Spanish government in Cuba had been autocratic, but not oppressive. The rebellion was in large part inspired by revolutionists in New York, encouraged by unrest caused by economic depression and poverty. It had gained strength because of a ruthless rebel decree that all Cubans who did not aid them would be considered allies of Spain and enemies of the “republic,” causing many citizens to help the insurgents out of fear.

Weyler, like the majority of Spaniards, believed that the rebels would long since have been crushed but for the incitement of the New York press, and the arms, men and supplies sent by filibuster ships that slipped into Cuba.

Weyler commanded some 80,000 Spanish soldiers whose presence in Cuba was bleeding Spain white. Yet they could not achieve a finished fight because the rebels invariably dodged them. The rebel strategy was to burn sugar plantations and towns, wreck railroads and flee, always avoiding pitched battles. The hatred between the contending parties had grown so bitter that when men were captured by either side, hangings and disembowelments were common.

Amid such incidents . . . Weyler employed the stern measures expected of him. To neutralize the thousands of Cubans in the interior who were secretly aiding and supplying the rebels while posing as loyal citizens, he issued a “reconcentration” order. This required all citizens . . . to leave their villages and move within Spanish lines.

Spanish forces then proceeded to clear the interior of supplies, applying a “scorched earth” program to starve out the rebels. This brought great suffering and privation to the reconcentrados, or uprooted families, many of whom were near starvation themselves. But the measure, along with renewed Spanish military activity, proved effective and the insurgents for a time lost ground.”

(Citizen Hearst, W.A. Swanberg, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961, pp. 118-119)

Bismarck Receives Sheridan's Lesson on Total War

Bismarck’s Reich supported Lincoln in his war against the American South as the German consolidator promoted Northern war bonds to his countrymen. Bismarck might have been ruthless while fighting foreigners, but Sherman and Sheridan were fighting ruthlessly to deny Americans self-government.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Bismarck Receives Sheridan’s Lesson on Total War

“The discipline which during the summer had forced the German troops to respect civilian property was gradually relaxed. “At first we were forbidden, with the severest of penalties, to burn vine-posts in bivouacs, and woe to him who used un-threshed corn for his palliasse. Child-like innocence! Now no one asks whether you are using garden fencing or the doors of houses or wagons for fuel . . . no Frenchman can any longer lay claim to property or means of livelihood.”

Thus throughout the autumn and winter of 1870 the terrorism of the [French partisan] francs-tireurs and the reprisals of the Germans spiraled down to new depths of savagery. If the French refused to admit military defeat, then other means must be used to break their will. The same problem had confronted the United States in dealing with the Confederacy six years earlier, and [General] Sherman had solved it by his relentless march through the South.

[Chief of Prussian General Staff] Moltke had believed war to consist in the movement of armies; but General [Philip] Sheridan, who was observing the war from German headquarters, pointed out that this was only the first requirement of victory.

“The proper strategy [he declared after Sedan] consists of inflicting as telling blows as possible on the enemy’s army, and then in causing the inhabitants so much suffering that they must long for peace, and force the government to demand it. The people must be left nothing but their eyes to weep with over the war.”

Bismarck took this advice more seriously than did Moltke. The more Frenchmen who suffered from the war, he pointed out, the greater would be the number who would long for peace at any price. “It will come to this, that we will shoot down every male inhabitant.” Every village, he demanded, in which an act of treachery had been committed, should be burned to the ground and all male inhabitants hanged. To show mercy was “culpable laziness in killing.” [Bismarck’s wife suggested] that all Frenchmen should be “shot and stabbed to death, down to the little babies,” and the German press abounded in similar ideas.

Nor did the French lag behind in urging suitable torments for the invaders. Each nation came to believe that it was upholding civilization against a race of barbarians which could only be bullied into submission by brute force.”

(The Franco-Prussian War, Michael Howard, Routledge Press, 1961, pp. 380-381)

Principles of International Justice Left in Ruins

In his 1944 book, Bombing Vindicated, former Principal Secretary of the Air Ministry J.M. Spaight, revealed that on May 11, 1940 the British government had commenced unrestricted bombing of German cities, known as “The Splendid Decision,” to which the Germans responded in kind. Spaight traces this decision to 1936 when Bomber Command was organized, with “the whole raison d’ etre of Bomber Command was to bomb Germany should she be our enemy.”  Visiting Germany as a military observer during the Franco-Prussian War, General Philip Sheridan, known for his brutal devastation of Americans in the Shenandoah Valley, was surprised that the Germans did not starve and torch their French enemies.  By 1940, they had learned Sheridan’s lesson.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Principles of International Justice Left in Ruins

“Nothing better illustrates how hell may be paved by good intentions which crumble than the war-crimes trials themselves. No doubt many who supported them were motivated by primitive Mongol demands for the massacre of defeated enemies, by “scientific” Marxian precepts which called for the liquidation of elements that could not be assimilated into a proletarian and totalitarian society, and by a purely vindictive desire for revenge.

On the other hand, many sincerely believed that the trial and punishment of men, many of whom had certainly been guilty of ordering or permitting unspeakable and boundless cruelties, would both reduce the prospect of future wars and make any that did take place more humane and restrained. During the Second World war, even Germany and Russia, despite their mass butcheries in the war in the East, refrained from using such lethal weapons, already in plentiful reserve, as poison gas and disease germs, for fear of possible retaliation.

The war-trials, by making it crystal clear that the losers will, henceforth, be subjected to such trials, regarded as aggressors whether they were or not (it was not emphasized at Nurnberg that England and France declared war on Germany), and be hanged or subjected to long prison terms, whether guilty as charged or not, made it inevitable that all the restraints that survived the Second world war would be thrown to the winds in the third – as even the limited war in Korea has demonstrated.

Since nothing worse can happen to a national war leader than to be disgraced, tortured and hanged, if defeated, there is no logical psychological reason for failing to throw in everything which may promise victory, however lethal and barbarous.

By 1952, the only belief of the early post-war years which still survived more or less unshaken was the belief that the Second World War had at least resulted in the establishment of new international standards of justice. As we have seen, as late as March 1951, the then British attorney-general, Sir Hartley Shawcross, was able, without making himself ridiculous, to put forward a moving appeal that what he called the principles of international justice established at Nurnberg should not be undermined for purposes of political expediency.

This comforting belief remained unshaken until it was reported in July 1952, that the Chinese Communists had indicated an intention to subject in due course certain of their prisoners of war captured in the Korean campaign to war-trials carried out “in accordance with the principles established by the international military tribunals of Nurnberg and Tokyo.”

In thousands of homes on both sides of the Atlantic the matter ceased to be an academic problem whether certain more or less worthy or unworthy foreigners had been unjustly condemned a few years before.

The anxious relatives of the British and American soldiers, sailors and airmen serving in Korea – and of those in the armed forces who might later be called upon to serve in Korea – had no difficulty in foreseeing what would be the result of war-trials carried out “in accordance with the Nurnberg principles.” All the illusions on this subject instantly vanished.

What may be regarded as the obituary notice of the Nurnberg war-trials was pronounced by Ex-Lord Chancellor Maugham in a letter to the London Times of July 25, 1952. “The Nurnberg Tribunal,” declared Lord Maugham, “never purported to lay down “principles” for all mankind.”

Perhaps it was always an unreasonable hope that the British Air Ministry’s “Splendid Decision” of May 11, 1940, would result in the establishment of any principles. The eighteen Whitley bombers which left England on that memorable spring night, in what now seems the remote past, did not set forth to establish principles.

The bombs which they dropped in the darkness on the countryside of Westphalia may, indeed, by chance have hit railway installations. Perhaps it is best to regard this historic air raid as a symbolic act, unconnected with corpses or debris, which left behind it in ruins nothing more substantial than the principles of civilized warfare that had been established in Europe for over two hundred years.

Similarly, the war-trials which were the outcome of that perhaps equally splendid decision taken at the Tehran Conference in 1943, did not, as we are now informed, lead to the establishment of any new principles of justice. Perhaps some day it may become generally agreed that, without establishing any new principles of justice, the war-trials actually left in ruins the principles of justice which had been accepted without question by all civilized peoples for many centuries.

Indiscriminate bombing invincibly linked warfare with barbaric military practices and ghastly mortality. All this would be intensified by the extensive use of guided missiles in later wars. The war-crimes trials at Nurnberg, Tokyo and elsewhere linked postwar procedures with juristic barbarism and made mandatory the utilization of the most savage methods of warfare in order to avert defeat and judicial lynching.”

(Advance to Barbarism, F.J.P. Veale, C.C. Nelson Publishing Company, 1953, pp. 293-297)

Prisons Holding Independence-Minded Americans

In April 1864 Gen. Grant, apparently with the approval of Lincoln, forbade Gen. Benjamin Butler “to deliver to the Rebels a single able-bodied man.”  Butler then wrote that “[the] facts abundantly show that the responsibility of refusing to exchange prisoners of war rests with the Government of the United States, and the people who have sustained that government; and every sigh of captivity, every groan of suffering, every heart broken by hope deferred among [the North’s] eighty thousand prisoners [in Southern prisons], will accuse them in the judgment of the just.”  Lincoln kept his own men starving in Southern prisons in order to deny the South any returned soldiers.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Prisons Holding Independence-Minded Americans

“For the common soldier in prison, survival was a daily struggle. James Huffman of the Tenth Virginia Infantry was one who lived to write his reminiscences of prison life:

“Elmira Camp was a very sickly place. The death rate was much higher than in the army during active hostilities. About half of us Virginians — and I think three-quarters of all the Southerners — died here in eight to ten months. A large number of North and South Carolinians had been captured at a Fort on the North Carolina coast — hale, hearty looking fellows except that they were yellow from lying in the trenches.

These men crowded us very much at first, but in two or three weeks they were nearly all gone to the hospitals, and most of them died. The well water looked pure and good but was deadly poison to our men, thousands taking chronic diarrhea from which they died. We had smallpox almost all the time. One doctor there said he killed more Rebs than any soldier at the front.”

(True Tales of the South at War, Clarence Poe, editor, UNC Press, 1961, pg. 147)

Sherman's Civilian Enemies

Sherman personalized American civilians in the South as his enemy — he branded their acts of self-defense as “cowardly” and deserving of swift retaliation — in effect denying that the South had the right to resist an invasion of its own country. While Sherman’s mental health is held in question by many, he was in truth only carrying out the orders of his master, Lincoln.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Sherman’s Civilian Enemies

“Article 44 [of US Army General Orders No. 100] . . . specified that “All wanton violence committed against persons in the invaded country, all destruction of property not commanded by the authorized officer, all robbery, all pillage or sacking, even after taking a place by main force, all rape, wounding, maiming, or killing of such inhabitants, are prohibited under penalty of death, or other such severe punishment as may seem adequate for the gravity of the offense.”

Paradoxically, it was . . . Union general, William Tecumseh Sherman, [who] gradually evolved his own personal philosophy of war along line which were clearly at variance with the official pronouncements, and in his practical application of that philosophy became one of the first of the modern generals to revert to the idea of the use of force against the civilian population of the enemy.

On the eve of the Civil War, Sherman could look back upon a career of dependence, frustrations, and failures. “I am doomed to be a vagabond, and shall no longer struggle against my fate,” he wrote his wife from Kansas in 1859. As he travelled northward in late February, 1861, to face once more the prospect of renewed dependence upon his father-in-law, his brooding over the ghosts of his own failures became mingled with gloomy forebodings concerning the future of the nation itself.

Passing from the South, where it seemed to him that the people showed a unanimity of purpose and a fierce, earnest determination in their hurried organization for action, into Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, where he found no apparent signs of preparation . . . he began to develop the deep conviction that he was one of the few people who understood the real state of affairs. It was only a short step from there to resentment against those who seemed unwilling to heed his warning or advice.

Convinced that Washington’s failure to act promptly on his requests [as a brigadier in Kentucky] was due either to indifference to the situation or to a willingness to sacrifice him, he developed a state of nervous tension in which his irritability and his unreasonable treatment of those about him antagonized the newspaper correspondents and led some . . . to publish stories questioning his sanity.

[He was relieved of command and] It was during this period of inactivity that the full import of these charges of insanity began to bear in upon him and to create in his mind an agonizing sense of humiliation. [He wrote his brother John] “that I do think I should have committed suicide were it not for my children. I do not think I can ever again be entrusted with a command.”

Two months later . . . he wrote to his brother that the civilian population of the South would have to be reckoned with in the months of war ahead . . . “the country is full of Secessionists, and it takes all [of a Northern] command to watch them.” Having become convinced that [telegraph] destruction was being accomplished by civilians rather than military personnel, he found it easy to judge the whole South on the basis of what he saw . . . Here was a manifestation of his tendency to arrive at generalizations by leaping over wide gaps of fact and reason and to proceed on the basis of his inspirations and convictions with the utmost faith in the soundness of his conclusions.

In this case his generalization led him to visualize the people themselves as a significant factor in the conduct of the war and to think in terms of a campaign against them as well as against their armies. [Writing to the Secretary of the Treasury], “When one nation is at war with another,” he said, “all the people of the one are enemies of the other: then the rules are plain and easy of understanding.”

[He continued]: “The Government of the United States may now safely proceed on the proper rule that all in the South are enemies of all in the North; and not only are they unfriendly, but all who can procure arms now bear them as organized regiments or as guerrillas.”

Sherman’s disposition to consider all resistance as treacherous acts of the civilian population prepared the way for the next steps in the development of his attitude on the conduct of the war.”

(General William T. Sherman and Total War, John Bennett Walters, Journal of Southern History, Volume XIV, No. 4, November, 1948, pp. 448-450, 454-455, 457-460,

Fort McHenry's Prisoner of State

Fort McHenry’s Prisoner of State

“The grandson of the author of the Star Spangled Banner, Francis Key Howard, editor of The Exchange Newspaper of Baltimore, had been arrested on the morning of the 13th of September 1861, about 1 o’clock, by the order of General [Nathaniel P.] Banks, and taken to Fort McHenry.

He says (Fourteen Months in American Bastille, page 9):

“When I looked out in the morning, I could not help being struck by an odd and not pleasant coincidence. On that day forty-seven years before my grandfather, Mr. F.S. Key, then prisoner on a British ship, had witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry. When on the following morning the hostile fleet drew off, defeated, he wrote the song so long popular throughout the country, the Star Spangled Banner. As I stood upon the very scene of that conflict, I could not but contrast my position with his, forty-seven years before.”

(The Real Lincoln, L.C. Minor, Everett Waddey Company, 1928, (Sprinkle Publications 1992, pp. 148-149)

Despicable and Malevolent Old Thad Stevens

Lincoln’s devastating warfare upon the American South was followed by the brutal military-occupation regimes of Pennsylvanian Thaddeus Stevens and his Radical Republicans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Despicable and Malevolent Old Thad Stevens

“[M]y first recollections of the social and political life of our little village of five hundred inhabitants are all set in a sense of mystery and uncanny terror. A dreaded name was on every man’s lips—“Old Thad Stevens.”

Lest it be thought that I am giving a prejudiced Southern record of this strange old man and his character, I quote a sentence from The Epic of America by James Truslow Adams, the greatest historian our nation has yet produced, a scholar of Northern birth and training. On page 275 Mr. Adams says:

“Unfortunately, on Lee’s dash into Pennsylvania, the iron-works of a man whose one idea had been to get rich quickly were destroyed. They belonged to Thaddeus Stevens, perhaps the most despicable, malevolent and morally deformed character who has ever risen to high power in America.”

A man from our county went to Washington to ask of President Johnson the pardon of a friend who was still a political prisoner. Johnson had declined to interfere. He learned that the President had been stripped of all power by the Radical bloc in Congress headed by Thaddeus Stevens. He must see Stevens and present his petition to the Dictator, the real ruler of America . . . And on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, whom he loathed, this malevolent outcast had suddenly become master of the nation, determined to destroy Lincoln’s plan of Reconstruction and enforce one of his own, inspired by his black mistress.

Steven’s plan was as simple as Lincoln’s but as different as night from day. He declared the Southern States conquered territory and subject only to the will of the conqueror. He proposed to stamp out the white race of the South from the face of the earth and make their States into [Negro] territories. To this end, two years after the close of the war, he destroyed the Union, wiped out the Southern states, established five military districts instead of the eleven old commonwealths, took the ballot from the white leaders of the South, enfranchised the whole Negro race and set them to rule over their former masters. And this at a time when the people were in a life and death struggle to prevent famine.

Mr. Stevens thus paralyzed every industry of the South, turned every Negro from the field to the political hustings and transformed eleven peaceful States into hells of anarchy. His fanatical followers, blinded by passion, deliberately armed a million ignorant Negroes and thrust them into conflict with the proud half-starved white men of the South. Such a deed can never be undone. It fixed the status of these two races in America for a thousand years.”

(Southern Horizons, The Autobiography of Thomas Dixon, IWV Publishing, 1984, pp. 20-23)