Browsing "Enemies of the Republic"

For Lincoln and the Fatherland

By 1864 a full 25% of Northern military machine was composed of German immigrants, many attracted by land and enlistment bounty monies with the Irish not far behind.  Some German newspaper editors argued that large units of foreigners was “a means of winning recognition for their nationality”  — as they marched against Americans in the South fighting for political independence and a more perfect union.  The diary entry below reveals immigrant views toward the black man.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

For Lincoln and the Fatherland

“On the 18th of June 1864 we arrived at the line of entrenchment in front of Petersburg. Here we had to stay in the trenches 48 hours and then be back in the rear 48 hours. This was nearly ½ mile back of the front. But there was a trench cut out from here to the front, for it was not safe to show yourself above the ground unless a man was drunk (While we lay there we drew a good dram of whiskey every morning).

A drunken man went outside the trench all the way to the front. The bullets flew all around him but none touched him. We stayed at this place till July 30th, during which time we lost a good many men, mostly by sharp shooters and some by mortar shells. One of our men was sitting by a tree with his plate on his lap eating when a sharpshooter shot him through the head. He fell over and was dead.

We had dug holes where we slept in and sat most of the time. When we were back in the rear, one fellow was lying in his hole when a mortar shell fell in the hole and exploded (My hole was about 100 feet away from his). It tore all the flesh off his leg below the knee and I guess he lost his leg.

We had port holes in the breastworks where we could shoot through without being seen by the enemy in front of us. That morning these two fellows were watching through a port hole and whenever a Johnny would show his head above their breastworks they would shoot at him. But they had not done that very long when a sharpshooter shot Elias Iran through the head and killed him. We carried him back to the rear and buried him. But before we got through they brought out the other fellow, Fred Ziehl, shot this same way.

We had a big fort on our left. It was built of pine logs and dirt. In this fort was a big gun, which threw a shell of over 62 pounds. They shot three or four of them into Petersburg every morning. We called it the Petersburg Express.

Opposite this fort the Rebs had a fort which was undermined by the 48th Pennsylvania Regiment. This fort was to be blown up on the 30th of July. Just as the sun was rising I felt the ground shaking under me. I jumped up and saw pieces of the Reb’s fort coming down in the air. Then the cannonading commenced. Then our Major (Mapes) said, “Forward boys! Every darn one of you!”

There was a regiment of Nigger troops to our left. The Rebs drove them back. They had brought up artillery in front of us and were shooting grape and canister at us. We got orders to fall back so they would not cut us off from our line. I said, “Boys, it is no use getting out of here for we will never get back to our line,” as the bullets were coming like hail. But they all started back and I was the last man in the ditch, so I concluded I would risk it too. As I went back I saw men in front of me falling and I expected any minute I’d get hit, but I got back to our line without a scratch.

When I got back to our trenches they were jammed full of Niggers, mostly bare headed and nearly scared to death and crowding for the rear. But the officers finally got them stopped and drove them back to the front.

[On the third day after the battle] There was a white flag put up on each side, and there was no shooting allowed. What I saw on the battlefield I will not forget as long as I live. The weather was hot and the dead were all black. The only way to tell a white man from a Nigger was by their hair and features. They were so badly decayed. We white soldiers were ordered to dig a ditch six or seven feet wide and four feet deep and the niggers were ordered to carry the bodies together and wrap them in a blanket and lay them side by side in the ditch and then we would cover them. They told us afterward our side lost 3000 in that battle.

After our 30 days, that we had agreed to serve as infantry, were up, we were asked to serve 30 days more. Some of the boys refused and deserted and we never heard of them afterwards. The next day when I got to the regiment they had lost 90 men, taken prisoner by some Rebel cavalry.”

(Gustave Milleville’s Civil War Diary, Part 2, Der Brief, Historical Society of North German Settlements in Western New York, July/August 2011, pp. 7-8)

Angela Grimke's Cornerstone of the Republic

Poor Alexander H. Stephens!

The Vice President of the American Confederacy’s informal speech to a Savannah audience in March 1861 is used to verify that the defense of slavery is all the new experiment in American government was about — and despite the fact that Stephen’s remarks were simply imperfect reporter’s notes and we are not even sure if he uttered those exact words.

If Stephen’s indeed mentioned “cornerstone and African slavery” in the same sentence in Savannah, he most likely was referring to Charleston abolitionist Angelina Grimke’ who some 25 years before said this about the United States.

Angelina’s speech in 1836 was entitled “An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South” and its topic anti-slavery. Both she and her sister were born into wealth in Charleston, SC — and later moved to the former center of the transatlantic slave trade, New England, to become Quakers and join William Lloyd Garrison’s abolition movement. There the Grimke’ sisters perhaps not only engaged in serious abolitionist discourse but also discovered that the slavery they abhorred was a mostly New England enterprise, and supported by its notorious rum trade with Africa.

Grimke stated in her appeal that “The interests of the North . . . are very closely combined with those of the South. The Northern merchants and manufacturers are making their fortunes out of the produce of slave labor . . . [and] the North is most dreadfully afraid of Amalgamation. She is alarmed at the very idea of a thing so monstrous, as she thinks. And lest this consequence might flow from emancipation, she is determined to resist all efforts at emancipation without expatriation. It is not because she [the North] approves of slavery, or believes it to be “the cornerstone of our republic,” for she is as much anti-slavery as we are; but amalgamation is too horrible to think of.” (see “Against Slavery, An Abolitionist Reader,” Angelina & Sarah Moore Grimke’, Penguin Books, 2000).

Stephen’s wrote in his Recollection’s that he spoke extemporaneously in his Savannah speech, and the reporter’s notes he reviewed afterward “were imperfect” contained “glaring errors.” He goes on to explain the contents of his speech with “The relation of the black to the white race, or the proper status of the colored population amongst us, was a question now of vastly more importance than when the Constitution was formed. The order of subordination is nature’s great law; philosophy taught that order as the normal condition of the African amongst European races. Upon this recognized principle of a proper subordination, let it be called slavery or what not, our State institutions were formed and rested. The principle of the subordination of the inferior to the superior was the “cornerstone” on which it was formed. I used this metaphor merely to illustrate the firm convictions of the framers of the new Constitution that this relation of the black to the white race, which existed in 1787 . . . The status of the African race in the new Constitution was left just where it was in the old; I affirmed and meant to affirm nothing else in this Savannah speech” (Recollections of  Alexander H. Stephens, 1910/1998, LSU Press).

Thus Stephens viewed African slavery in the same way as the abolitionists who sought secession from the United States by New England, to separate themselves from what they saw as the evil cornerstone of the United States. And the Confederacy incorporated nothing more than what the United States already had recognized as a domestic institution of the States, to be accepted or eradicated in time by each State.  This raises the obvious question: If the abolitionists were opposed to slavery, why did they not advance a peaceful and practical emancipation proposal as did England in the 1840s with compensated emancipation?

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

One American Ruler to Enforce Obedience

The peaceful political separation desired by the American South in early 1861 was best summarized by President Jefferson Davis’ in his inaugural address: “We seek no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any kind from the States with which we were lately confederated. All we ask is to be let alone; that those who never held power over us shall not now attempt our subjugation by arms.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

One American Ruler to Enforce Obedience

“From Mr. [Robert] Toombs, Secretary of State, Message No. 5, Department of State, Montgomery, Alabama, May 18, 1861.

To: Hon Wm. L. Yancey, Hon. Pierre A. Rost, Hon. A. Dudley Mann, Commissioners of the Confederate States, etc.

Gentlemen: My dispatch of the 24th ultimo contained an accurate summary of the important events which had transpired up to that date, and informed you that the Executive of the United States had commenced a war of aggression against the Confederate States.

On the 20th instant the convention of the people of North Carolina will assemble at Raleigh, and there is no doubt that, immediately thereafter, ordinances of secession from the United States, and union with the Confederate States, will be adopted.

Although ten independent and sovereign States have thus deliberately severed the bonds which bound them in political union with the United States, and have formed a separate and independent Government for themselves, the President of the United States affects to consider that the Federal Union is still legally and constitutionally unbroken . . . He claims to be our ruler, and insists that he has the right to enforce our obedience.

From the newspaper press, the rostrum, and the pulpit, the partisans of Mr. Lincoln, while they clamorously assert their devotion to the Union and Constitution of the United States, daily preach a relentless war between the sections, to be prosecuted not only in violation of all constitutional authority, but in disregard of the simplest law of humanity.

The authorized exponents of the sentiments of [Lincoln’s party] . . . avow that it is the purpose of the war to subjugate the Confederate States, spoliate the property of our citizens, sack and burn our cities and villages, and exterminate our citizens . . .

[The] real motive which actuates Mr. Lincoln and those who now sustain his acts is to accomplish by force of arms that which the masses of the Northern people have long sought to effect – namely, the overthrow of our domestic institutions, the devastation and destruction of our social interests, and the reduction of the Southern States to the condition of subject provinces.

It is not astonishing that a people educated in that school which always taught the maintenance of the rights of the few against the might of the many, which ceaselessly regarded the stipulation to protect and preserve the liberties and vested rights of every member of the Confederacy as the condition precedent upon which each State delegated certain powers necessary for self-protection to the General Government, should refuse to submit dishonorably to the destruction of their constitutional liberty, the insolent denial of their right to govern themselves and to hold and enjoy their property in peace.

In the exercise of that greatest of the rights reserved to the several States by the late Federal Constitution – namely, the right for each State to be judge for itself, as well of the infractions of the compact of the Union, as of the mode and measure of redress – the sovereignties composing the Confederate States resolved to sever their political connection with the United States and form a Government of their own, willing to effect this purpose peacefully at any sacrifice save that of honor and liberty, but determined even at the cost of war to assert their right to independence and self-government.”

(A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy 1861-1865, James D. Richardson, Volume II, US Publishing Company, 1905, excerpt, pp. 26-31)

John Brown and His Greater Villains

The violent attack of John Brown at Harper’s Ferry “and his apotheosis by Northern abolitionists had struck fear and rage into the hearts of Southerners and had revived talk of secession that had all but died out in 1859.” This sad event all but confirmed the suspicion of many Southerners that the North wished to destroy the South, and the Union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

John Brown and His Greater Villains

“On Wednesday morning, October 19, John Brown and [Aaron Dwight] Stevens were placed in a wagon and driven to the railway station under a strong guard of Marines to protect them from the possibility of a merciful lynching.

But when they reached the waiting train and the shouts of “Lynch them, lynch them!” rose, the Governor was there to call back, “Oh, it would be cowardly to do so now!”  The Sheriff of Jefferson County and the United States Marshal for the Western District of Virginia committed their four prisoners to the jail at Charlestown to await trial.

There was no apparent reason why the prisoners should not be brought to justice as soon as possible, for the evidence was clear, the law demanded immediate trial, and the State of Virginia recognized no advantage in submitting the case to the Federal courts. The Federal government was directly [affected] by the attack on the arsenal and indirectly by the whole nature of the conspiracy, but Virginia was insisting on a primary principle in retaining jurisdiction.

In the case of John Brown himself there was little hesitation; in that of his companions more debate occurred, for the temptation was strong to embody in fact a subsidiary principle concerning the slave problem by turning Stevens over to the Federal Government for prosecution . . . the great advantage the Federal court possessed [was] being able to summon “the greater villains” who resided beyond the jurisdiction of the State of Virginia; and meanwhile some of these villains had made haste to reside beyond the jurisdiction of the United States.

The immediate trial and the wounds of two of the prisoners provided unexpected capital for the “liberal” newspapers in the North. At first the Republican press hurried to repudiate John Brown and all his works, for it was felt that this sort of thing might prove disastrous in the Presidential contest of the next year, but it was not long before editors and politicians alike recognized an opportunity in the situation.

The Chicago Convention which nominated Abraham Lincoln in 1860 unanimously resolved that the attempt of John Brown was criminal . . . But in the autumn of 1859 the “liberal” press . . . deplored the conditions which made [Brown’s attack] necessary; it deplored the misguided effort in a holy cause, but abhorred the barbarous conduct in Virginia in suppressing that effort. [William Lloyd] Garrison wrote in the Liberator:

“In recording the expressions of sympathy and admiration which are so widely felt for John Brown, whose doom is now swiftly approaching . . . that, judging him by the code of Bunker hill, we think he is deserving of high-wrought eulogy as any who ever wielded sword or battle-axe in the cause of liberty . . . ”

(John Brown, The Making of a Martyr, Robert Penn Warren, J.S. Sanders and Company, 1929, pp. 393-395)

 

On Diversity

The Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution in 1868 was illegally enacted without the requisite number of States ratifying it. This so-called amendment has been the source of many political and social conundrums then and today — most recently it allegedly allows children born on US soil to be instant citizens. It indeed was only a measure by the Republican party to ensure votes in the South from grateful and compensated former African slaves.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

On Diversity

“How much diversity can America tolerate and still be America?

There is no question that, at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed and the Constitution was framed, an American was white and English-speaking, and a product of Western Christian civilization. Non-whites were not allowed citizenship until Republicans forced through the 14th Amendment in 1868 partly as a way to enfranchise blacks in the South who they thought would then vote for the Grand Old Party.

Moreover, whenever non-white immigration reached any significant level, restrictions and prohibitions were enacted, e.g., the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907, and the Oriental Exclusion Act of 1924.

When the Founding Fathers talked about religious freedom, they were essentially thinking of disestablishing the Anglican Church. “Freedom of worship” meant that Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers and Catholics should no longer suffer as they had under English rule. I really don’t think the Founders were thinking about Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, animists, and Santerians.

What is America is five or ten percent non-white, non-English-speaking, non-Christian, non-Western? No problem. A little salt and pepper is interesting, enlivens and invigorates culture, and introduces new perspectives.

But what if that number becomes 40, 60, 80 percent of the population? No, I think it is called fragmentation, separation, Balkanization. Los Angeles is an outstanding example of this.

While politicians, school officials, and other so-called community leaders mouth inane slogans such as “Diversity is Our Strength,” whites flee to far-flung suburbs as fast as their SUV’s will carry them.

There are so few whites left in the Los Angeles Unified School District that busing only means that blacks and Hispanics are bussed to schools in white neighborhoods. All the white children whose parents can afford it are in private or parochial schools, leaving the local school no more than 20 or 30 percent white. In most of the elementary schools, English is a foreign language.

It seems to me that it is perfectly natural, moral, ethical, and legal for a people to want to preserve their identity. Would Japanese allow themselves to become Russian? Would Israeli’s allow themselves to become Arab? Would Indians allow themselves to become Chinese? Why should it be our fate to lose our American identity?”

(On Diversity, Dr. Roger D. McGrath, Chronicles Magazine, June 1999,excerpts, pp. 4-5)

Great Americans Amid a Great Crisis

While the Republican party reveled in its plurality victory and avoided any compromise in order to maintain party unity, Unionists like Jefferson Davis emulated great American leaders of earlier times in challenging Congress to meet the crisis and save the creation of the Founders. 

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Great Americans Amid a Great Crisis  

“Jefferson Davis, in his farewell address to the United States Senate, expressed the sentiments of Virginia . . . when he said:

“Now sir, we are confusing language very much. Men speak of revolution; and when they say revolution, they mean blood. Our fathers meant nothing of the sort. When they spoke of revolution, they meant the inalienable right.

When they declared as an inalienable right, the power of the people to abrogate and modify their form of government whenever it did not answer the ends for which it was established, they did not mean that they were to sustain that by brute force . . . Are we, in this age of civilization and political progress . . . are we to roll back the whole current of human thought and again return to the mere brute force which prevails between beasts of prey as the only method of settling questions between men?

Is it to be supposed that the men who fought the battles of the Revolution for community independence, terminated their great efforts by transmitting prosperity to a condition in which they could only gain those rights by force?  If so, the blood of the Revolution was shed in vain; no great principles were established; for force was the law of nature before the battles of the Revolution were fought.”

Robert E. Lee, writing on the 23rd of January, 1861, said:

“Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom and forbearance in its formation and surrounded it with so many guards and securities if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will . . . Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me. If the Union is dissolved and the Government disrupted, I shall return to my native State and share the miseries of my people — and save in defense (of Virginia) will draw my sword on none.”

George Baylor, speaking on the 1st of March 1861 in the Virginia Convention, said:

“I have said, Mr. President, that I did not believe in the right of secession. But whilst I make that assertion, I also say that I am opposed to coercion on the part of the Federal Government with the view of bringing the seceded States back into the Union . . . I am opposed to it first because I cannot find any authority in the Constitution of the United States delegating that power to the Federal Government, and second, because if the Federal Government had the power it would be wrong to use it.”

John Quincy Adams, speaking before the New York Historical Society in 1839, on the 50th Anniversary of Washington’s inauguration as President of the United States, said:

“To the people alone there is reserved as well the dissolving as the constituent power, and that power can be exercised by them only under the tie of conscience binding them to the retributive justice of Heaven.

With those qualifications we may admit the right as vested in the people of every State of the Union with reference to the General Government which was exercised by the people of the United Colonies with reference to the supreme head of the British Empire of which they formed a part, and under these limitations have the people of each State of the Union a right to secede from the Confederated Union itself.”

(Virginia’s Attitude Toward Secession, Beverley B. Munford, L.H. Jenkins, Richmond, VA, 1909, pp. 294-295)

 

 

Lend-Lease Equals Dead American Boys

In his last major campaign speech of the 1940 election, to the “Boston Irish,” FDR reaffirmed his opposition to intervention in the European war, and added that “while I am talking to you mothers and fathers, I will give you one more assurance.  I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lend-Lease Equals Dead American Boys

“The 1940 presidential campaign soon settled into a phony contest to see who could most reassure American fathers and mothers that their boys would not be sent off to fight a war. [Republican presidential candidate Wendell] Wilkie kept calling FDR a warmonger and the public reaction finally got under the President’s skin.

The late Robert Sherwood, a Roosevelt ghost writer, has written that on a trip through New England on October 30 FDR was flooded with telegrams “stating almost tearfully that if the President did not give his solemn promise to the mothers, he might as well start packing his belongings at the White House.”

For this reason, Sherwood explained, the President that night in a speech in Boston spoke those unforgettable lines: “I have said this before, but I shall say it again – and again – and again – your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign war.” According to Sherwood, FDR rejected a suggestion by another speechwriter, Samuel Rosenman, that he add the phrase that was so important to him in the [Democratic] platform – “except in case of attack.”

The President’s campaign promises did not square with an impression I was getting from insiders. In October, Vice President John Nance Garner called me into his room off the Senate floor. He had just come from a Cabinet meeting.

“I’ll bet you a grand,” the Vice President [stated], “that we’re in the war by June first of next year.” Garner paused, ruminating, then added: “[Secretary of State Cordell] Hull is more anxious to go to war with the Japs than the Chief is.” I asked why.

“Because he thinks we’ve got to go to war with them sometime and we might as well do it now,” the Vice President said.

“That’s a hell of a reason,” I said. Garner agreed. Later, I mentioned Garner’s report on Hull’s attitude to Chairman Tom Connally of the Foreign Relations Committee and he grunted, “That’s right.”

The evidence that Hull wanted to go to war with Japan is overwhelming. Senator George W. Norris, the great liberal independent, knew it and once innocently assured me we would not lose any soldiers in a war with Japan.

Immediately after the election . . . Roosevelt [asked] Congress for authority to lend-lease all sorts of aid to the allies. It would be a revolutionary law giving him tremendous dictatorial powers to further our intervention – something he would not dare broach before the election.

When I arrived in Washington, DC, Senator Ed Johnson, a Colorado Democrat who shared my sentiments about the war, said he could not prevent its passage . . . . “The skids are greased and the Republicans and Democratic leaders are all for the bill,” Johnson said. I told him I would fight it even if the only vote I mustered was my own.

“When you pass this bill, it means war,” I told my colleagues. All the Democrats speaking for the Administration said the bill meant peace.

“If it is our war,” I said on January 2, 1941, “how can we justify lending them stuff and asking them to pay us back?” If it is our war, we ought to have the courage to go over and fight it, but it is not our war.”

[Wheeler said on the radio:] “The lend-lease program is the New Deal’s triple-A foreign policy; it will plow under every fourth American boy.”

Joe Kennedy, a friend since the early 1920s, shared my concern about our avoiding the war. He once told me that he liked Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain better than Winston Churchill because Chamberlain was interested in working out a peaceful solution. If this was so, I asked him, why did Britain let itself get involved in a war. Kennedy said it was “pressure from the United States.”

(Yankee From the West, Burton K. Wheeler, Paul F. Healy, editor, Doubleday & Company, 1962, pp. 24-27)

 

Grasping Yankee Prussians Against the South

Southern President Jefferson Davis described Bismarck’s Prussians as the “arrogant robbing Yankees of Europe” who appropriated their small sister states into a centralized and oppressive regime. By 1864, fully 25% of Lincoln’s war machine was comprised of German soldiers and US war bonds found many subscribers in the Fatherland.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Grasping Yankee Prussians Against the South

“ . . . Southerners insisted that slavery was not a cause of the war in the sense of being a source of an irrepressible conflict between North and South. They ascribed [Northern attacks on slavery] . . . not to any humanitarian or ideological considerations which indicated divergent opinions on the morality of slavery, but to the desires of ambitious politicians and selfish manufacturers for political power and economic gain.

They charged that Northern majorities in Congress had passed legislation for the benefit of their section’s commercial and manufacturing interests and at the expense of the Southern States. The Yankees had become grasping and aggressive, and Jefferson Davis, drawing a parallel to the contemporary Franco-Prussian War, compared the Yankees of the 1850’s to the Prussians of the 1870’s . . .

Not slavery, but the North’s unjustifiable assaults upon the Southern States had caused secession and war, in the view of Confederates . . . the primary reasons for the North’s hostility to the Southern States lay in the fact that the Northern and Southern States had differing, antagonistic and competing ways of life. The Southern way of life was generally defined by former Confederates in terms of an agricultural economy, locally controlled and conservative in its social and political customs.

[They] emphasized in particular that the ante-bellum South had differed from the North in that its civilization had been essentially conservative. It was conservative, they asserted, in its concept of constitutional liberty, centering around the sovereignty of States, and opposed both to national centralization and to extreme doctrines of the “natural rights” of individuals.

It was conservative also, they stated, in its aristocratic principles, opposing mere majority rule, opposing what the former Confederate Secretary of State, R.M.T. Hunter called the “despotic majority of numbers” in the North.

D.H. Hill, A.T. Bledsoe, and R.L. Dabney took the lead in describing the antagonism between Southern “conservatism” and Northern “radicalism.” The North, they declared, had abandoned the system of government prescribed in the Constitution and had adopted radical, democratic, European “isms,” based upon principles of equal rights for all individuals and rule by the majority.

These doctrines stemmed from the French Revolution; they were held, implied General Jubal Early, by the men who had crucified Jesus Christ. Against Northern Jacobinism the Confederacy had fought the whole world’s battle; the South, asserted [Gen. Daniel H.] Hill, was the Vendee of the United States and had waged a similar fight for “conservatism against lawlessness, infidelity, irreverence towards God and man, radicalism.”

(Americans Interpret Their Civil War, Thomas J. Presley, Princeton University Press, 1954, pp. 119-121)

Grand Army of the Republic of Thieves

With the war nearly over and nothing to gain from destroying private homes and property, Lincoln’s Grand Army added salt to the wounds in a State which was rightly driven from the Union four years earlier by his inability to compromise and avoid war. In 1865 began reconstruction and twelve years of misrule, robbery and outrage in the American South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Grand Army of the Republic of Thieves

“Glen Burnie, [North Carolina] March 21, 1865

My Dear Cousin,

Well Pattie, I have seen the Yankees at last, and I earnestly pray that I may never see them again. The 9th of March will ever be remembered by me. The vagabonds appeared here early that morning, we had no idea they were within fifty miles of here . . . There was a hundred fifty men in the first squad that came here, and such a yell as they gave when they rode in the gate, mortal never heard.

Papa ran to the swamp as soon as he saw them coming, and they were almost frantic with rage when they found he had left and started in the woods to find him and swore by all the saints in heaven that they would kill him if they found him.

The rascals all came in, and in less than ten minutes the house was stripped of almost everything. Pa had the night before fortunately concealed his two watches and your jewelry in a very nice place . . . One of them came to me to know where they were, I of course refused to tell, he them immediately presented a pistol to my head and swore he would take my life if I did not tell him . . .” They carried off every earthly thing we had to eat, did not leave a grain of corn or coffee, or anything that would sustain life one day, and they found all our silver and took every knife, fork and spoon we had in the world.

They set the Piney Woods on fire all around us. Tell Aunt Jenny they set on fire all the rosin she saw, and turned day into night. They carried off a great many of our clothes, have not left me a cloak or shawl of any kind, tore the silk you gave Jenny all to flinders, and carried off my best dresses, and two of Mama’s silks. Have not one blanket in the house, have only a half dozen quilts. The Yankees burned our barn and swore they would burn our house over our heads, but Providence saved it. I can’t tell you how.

Well Pat, I must close by telling you that the Yanks never caught Papa and that we are not quite starved to death, though we came very near it, we went five days without a mouthful of bread. You will excuse the paper I know as it is all the Yankees left in the house, and ‘tis a wonder they left this.

Oh how I do hate the very name of Yankee! May the chilling blight of heaven fall on their dark and doomed souls. May all the powers of earth and heaven combine to destroy them, may their land be one vast scene of ruin and desolation as ours is. This is the blessing of the innocent and injured one. I forgive them? May heaven never!   Nellie”

(A Goodly Heritage, Emma Woodward MacMillan, Wilmington Printing Company, 1961, pp. 65-

The Inscrutable William Seward

It is said that antebellum Southern politics were for the most part honest and ruled by responsible statesmen, but Reconstruction forced Southern leaders to reluctantly descend into the mud to successfully oppose the carpetbaggers, Union Leagues and Radical Republicans. The high-toned sense of serving the public good was seen in statesman Jefferson Davis, who acted from conviction alone; William Seward was more interested in manipulating public opinion and serving his own twisted ends. The former tried his best to save the Union, the latter helped destroy it.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Inscrutable William Seward

“It was on one of these visits that Mr. Seward said a most remarkable thing to me [Varina Davis]. We were speaking of the difficulty men generally had in doing themselves justice [when speaking in public], if not cheered on by the attention and sympathy of the audience. Mr. Seward said . . . ” it is rather a relief to me to speak to empty benches.”

I exclaimed, “Then, whom do you impersonate?” [Seward replied] “The [news]papers . . . I speak to the papers, they have a much larger audience than I, and can repeat a thousand times if need be what I want to impress upon the multitude outside; and then there is the power to pin my antagonists down to my exact words, which might be disputed if received orally.”

Another day he began to talk on the not infrequent topic among us, slavery . . . I said, “Mr. Seward, how can you make, with a grave face, those piteous appeals for the Negro that you did in the Senate; you were too long a schoolteacher in Georgia to believe the things you say?”

He looked at me quizzically, and smilingly answered: “I do not, but these appeals, as you call them, are potent to affect the rank and file of the North.”

Mr. Davis said, very much shocked by Mr. Seward’s answer, “But Mr. Seward, do you never speak from conviction alone?”  “Never,” answered he. Mr. Davis raised up his . . . head, and with much heat whispered, “As God is my judge, I never spoke from any other motive.”

After this inscrutable human moral, or immoral, paradox left us, we sat long discussing him with sincere regret, and the hope that he had been making a feigned confidence to amuse us. He [Seward] frankly avowed that truth should be held always subsidiary to an end, and if some other statement could sub serve that end, he made it. He said, again and again, that political strife was a state of war, and in war all stratagems were fair.

About this time Mr. Seward came forward into greater prominence, and became the most notable leader of the Republican party. Mr. [President James] Buchanan said: “He was much more of a politician than a statesman, without strong convictions; he understood the art of preparing in his closet and uttering before the public, antithetical sentences, well-calculated to both inflame the ardor of his anti-slavery friends and exasperate his pro-slavery opponents . . . he thus aroused passions, probably without so intending, which it was beyond his power to control.”

(Jefferson Davis, A Memoir By His Wife Varina, N&A Publishing, 1990, excerpts, pp. 580-652)