Browsing "Hatred of the American South"

The North’s War Against Free Trade

The unbridled pursuit of financial gain in America was no surprise to Englishmen and simply “a distasteful feature of democracy.” The British noted the widespread corruption in American political life and the rise of low men to power, while those better educated and unwilling to play the demagogue were not sought out. The British saw, especially in Northern States, an unwholesome tyranny of the democratic mob which eventually would break apart and replaced with an aristocracy or monarchy of better men.

The North’s War Against Free Trade

“The United States Senate, after fourteen Southern members had withdrawn (as their States had withdrawn from the United States), passed with a majority of eleven votes the almost prohibitive Morrill Tariff; the Confederate States adopted a constitution forbidding any tariff except for revenue – a denial, that is, of the principle of protection (for select industries).

From the economic point of view, which to some students of history is the only point of view, a major issue became perfectly clear. The North stood for protection, the South for free trade.

And for Englishmen . . . certain conclusions were obvious. “This [tariff] was the first use the North made of its victory [in the Senate]”, said one Englishman in a pamphlet . . .” The contrast between North and South was real and unambiguous, and so too were England’s free-trade convictions.

With those convictions and after these events, it was natural that many Englishmen . . . should readily embrace the theory of the South’s seceding because of economic oppression – since there had to be a reason for secession and both sides agreed that slavery was not the reason. As one of the ablest of the “Southern” Englishmen, James Spence, said, the South had long been convinced “that the Union was worked to the profit of the North and their own loss. [And] consider that the immediate cause of the revolt of those 13 colonies from this country was a duty of 3d. per pound on tea . . .”

The Confederate States were well aware of the appeal of economic facts. Their Secretary of State instructed James Mason on his mission to England to stress the free trade commitment of his government, as well as the British people’s “deep political and commercial interest in the establishment of the independence of the Confederate States.”

(The Glittering Illusion: English Sympathy for the Southern Confederacy. Sheldon Vanauken. Regnery Gateway, 1989. pp. 48-49)

Conquest, Not Union

On April 12, 1864, Fort Pillow, located north of Memphis on the Mississippi River, was surrounded by some 1,500 troops under Gen’s. Nathan Bedford Forrest and James Chalmers. After sending an ultimatum to surrender or suffer “no quarter” and the enemy rejecting capitulation, Forrest’s men attacked and caused most of the enemy’s 600 soldiers to flee into the river. As northern colored troops were half of the fort’s garrison, they suffered great loss along with their white counterparts, and the usual cries of “massacre” were heard from northern reporters anxious to sell newspapers to a gullible public. The Radical Republicans were also quick to establish a congressional committee to investigate Fort Pillow for political purposes.

This pattern was repeated late in the war as the northern public was fed atrocity stories of Georgia’s Andersonville prison stockade. Missing from the stories were the pleas of President Davis and other Southern leaders for prisoner exchanges, including safe passage for medical supplies and food to sustain the inmates. These were all refused by Grant, with Lincoln’s approval.

Conquest, Not Union

“What exactly did the [Committee on the Conduct of the War] uncover and how objective was its investigation? Critics have assumed that the committee deliberately exaggerated Southern atrocities to smear Forrest’s reputation, inflame public sentiments, and serve its own narrow partisan agenda.

The committee’s most thorough historian, T. Harry Williams, for instance, argues that Benjamin Wade used this investigation, as well as previous atrocity reports, as a means to create a consensus for an even more radical reconstruction. By deliberately exaggerating Rebel brutalities, he would cause the public to support a reconstruction policy that would treat the South as a conquered territory.

There is little doubt that the issue of reconstruction was on the minds of committee members and other Republicans during the Fort Pillow investigation. George Julian, chairman of the House Committee on Public Lands, was already busy sponsoring legislation to confiscate the large holdings of Rebel planters and redistribute them to veterans of the Union armies, both white and black.

In remarks to the House of Representatives shortly after Fort Pillow, Julian castigated the Confederates as “devils” and argued that the [alleged] massacre provided additional reasons to support the program of confiscating [Southern property].

Even before the war, there were many in the North who viewed the South as backward and in need of radical reordering along the outline of Northern free labor institutions. The war accelerated such beliefs. “The war is quickly drawing to an end,” the Continental Monthly predicted in the summer of 1862, “but a greater and nobler task lies before the soldiers and free men of America – the extending of civilization into the South.”

In formulating its Fort Pillow findings, the committee reflected Northern opinion as much as it sought to shape it.”

(“These Devils Are Not Fit to Live on God’s Earth”: War Crimes and the Committee on the Conduct of the War, 1864-1865”. Bruce Tap. Civil War History – A Journal of the Middle Period, John Hubbell, ed. Kent State University Press, June 1996, Vol. XLII, No. 2, pp. 121-122)

American Civilians Suffer Total War

What is termed “total war” can be said to begin with the birth of the modern state, in which war became an instrument of national policy. Though the north’s “Lieber Code” of early 1863 clearly protected civilians from the barbarous acts of invading northern armies, senior officers such as Sherman had evolved their own personal philosophy of war clearly at variance with official pronouncements. Despite the “Code”, Sherman’s brutal conduct found no opposition from Lincoln or Grant.

Americans Civilians Suffer Total War

“The march of the Federals into our State,” says a writer in the Columbia [South Carolina] Phoenix, “was characterized by such scenes of license, plunder and conflagration as showed that the threats of the northern press, and that of their soldiery, were not to be regarded as mere brutum fulmen.

Daily, long trains of fugitives lined the roads, with wives and children, and horses and stock and cattle, seeking refuge from their pursuers. Long lines of wagons covered the highways. Half-naked people cowered from the winter under bush-tents in the thickets, under the eaves of houses, under the railroad sheds and in old cars left along the route. All these repeated the same story of suffering, violence, poverty and nakedness. Habitation after habitation, village after village – one sending up its signal flames to the other, presaging for it the same fate – lighted the winter and midnight sky with crimson horrors.

“No language can describe, not can any catalogue furnish, an adequate detail of the widespread destruction of homes and property. Granaries were emptied, and where the grain was not carried off, it was strewn to waste under the feet of the [Yankee] cavalry, or consigned to the fire which consumed the dwelling. The negroes were robbed equally with the whites of food and clothing. The roads were covered with butchered cattle, hogs, mules, and the costliest furniture. Valuable cabinets, rich pianos, were not only hewn to pieces, but bottles of ink, turpentine, oil, whatever could efface or destroy, were employed to defile and ruin. Horses were ridden into the houses.

“The beautiful homesteads of the parish country . . . were ruined; ancient dwellings of black cypress, one hundred years old, which had been reared by the fathers of the Republic – men whose names were famous in Revolutionary history – were given to the torch as recklessly as were the rude hovels; choice pictures and works of art from Europe, select and numerous libraries, were all destroyed.

The inhabitants, black no less than white, were left to starve, compelled to feed only upon the garbage to be found in the abandoned camps of the northern soldiers. The corn scraped up from the spots where the horses fed has been the only means of life left to thousands but lately in affluence.”

(The Desolate South, 1865-1866. John T. Trowbridge; Gordon Carroll, ed. Little, Brown and Company, 1956, pp. 294-296)

A Land as Silent as a Graveyard

A Land as Silent as a Graveyard

“The raids and rumors of raids were so traumatic to Clarissa Bowen that the tired, terrified woman miscarried. “All was over and we knew that God had taken from us the desire from our hearts – our much prayed for and longed for treasure,” the South Carolinian wrote in her journal, June 1865. “O, it was hard, very, very hard to give up . . . My recovery had been slow, being constantly retarded by fear of the Yankees.”

“Still another batch of Yankees . . .,” a weary Eliza Andrews scribbled in her diary. “One of them proceeded to distinguish himself at once, by ‘capturing’ a Negro’s watch. They carry out their principles by robbing impartially, without regard to race, color or previous condition. Ginny Dick has kept his watch and chain hid ever since the bluecoats put forth this act of philanthropy, and . . . old Maum Betsy says that she has “knowed white folks all her life an’ some mighty mean ones, but Yankees is de fust ever she seed mean enough to steal from n******.”

Not surprisingly, after suffering through several such visits, most plantations and farms had little more to offer. “We were left almost destitute,” said one stunned and suddenly impoverished lady. “Our poverty,” noted another victim, “is now our protection.”

Eventually, the highways of the South began to resemble scenes from antiquity and the plundering hordes of Mongolia. Observed one man:

“The road was filled with an indiscriminate mass of armed men on horseback and on foot, carts, wagons, cannon and caissons, rolling along in most tumultuous disorder, while to the right and to the left, joining the mass, and detaching from it, singly and in groups, were hundreds [of soldiers] going empty-handed and returning laden. Country carts, horses, mules and oxen, followed by Negro men, women and even children, (who were pressed into service to carry plunder) laden with every conceivable object, were approaching and mingling in mass from every side.

When the blue tide finally receded and moved off to garrison the cities and towns of the South, it left behind in its wake a land “as silent as a graveyard.”

(The Day Dixie Died – Southern Occupation 1865-1866. Thomas and Debra Goodrich. Stackpole Books, 2001, pp. 100-101)

“Supposed Desecrating Hands of Pre-Judged Thieving Rebels”

From the wartime diary of George M. Neese, an artilleryman assigned to Chew’s Battery, Gen. JEB Stuart’s Horse Artillery.

“Supposed Desecrating Hands of Prejudged Thieving Rebels”

“July 4, 1863: The arduous and responsible duty devolving on the Confederate cavalry during [Lee’s retreat from Gettysburg] was to guard and defend the retiring trains of wagons and ambulances against all inroads and attempts the Federal cavalry were liable to make for their capture and destruction, and more especially to strenuously oppose and foil all efforts of the enemy to make any advantageous interposition between General Lee’s army and the Potomac.

Today while we were at Fairfield a drenching thundershower passed over, and we went in a stable for shelter from the rain. While we were in there some of our boys’ played marbles for amusement. Eventually one of the marbles rolled through a crack in the floor, and in order to get it we raised one of the boards, and under there we found a large store-box full of good, clean, nice bed clothes, sheets, blankets, counterpanes [bed spreads] as white as snow, and beautiful quilts, all of which had been recently hidden from the supposed desecrating hands of prejudged thieving rebels.

We left everything in the box and reported our find to the family that owned the stable and told them to move their goods to the house and fear no danger of being molested. The family seemed to be astonished at our find and utterly surprised into coyish silence to learn that their goods were safe even when discovered by the dreaded Rebels.

I am almost convinced that a strong sentiment prevails throughout the whole North that the Southern army is composed of thieves and robbers mixed with barbarians and savages and this malignant spirit is instilled into the populace and encouraged by irresponsible, mean, lying newspapers that are published by men who have never been south of Mason and Dixon’s line.”

(Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery. George M. Neese. Neale Publishing Company, 1911, pp. 190-191)

The War Secretary’s Government

The public mind of the North from April through the summer of 1865 was one of vengeance, blood and death to the “rebels.” The South was roundly blamed for “treason” as well as the horrors of Andersonville, though it was Grant – with Lincoln’s approval – who refused Southern offers of food, medicines and medical care for Northern prisoners.

The War Secretary’s Government

“The secret papers of the Lincoln administration had been kept sealed at the request of his heirs until certain persons named therein were dead. It is difficult to understand why Lincoln’s family wished to protect those at whom the finger of suspicion would have pointed by disclosure of these papers after his murder. For the papers indicated that Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, had prior knowledge of the reported plot of John Wilkes Booth and others at Mrs. Surratt’s boarding house in Washington, but had failed to either warn Lincoln or give him special protection.

It was obvious to observers at the time that the real beneficiary, should the plot have succeeded in killing the Vice-President and Secretary of State also would have been the Secretary of War – Stanton himself – who would have been next in line for the Presidency. Moreover, the Radical Republicans had refused to support Lincoln at the 1864 party convention, and this was the faction supported by and supporting Stanton in the disputes following Andrew Johnson’s accession.

Immediately following Lincoln’s assassination, Stanton was in full control of the government through martial law and was in charge of the trials of the so-called conspirators. While the hanging of so many persons without a civil trial did not arouse much comment abroad, the execution of Mrs. Surratt, because Booth had lodged at her house, was the subject of considerable discussion.

It is revealed in official testimony that Mrs. Surratt was offered her life if her son would give himself up. An effort was made by high members of the US government, including members of Congress, to obtain a civil trial for her. But the War Secretary refused on grounds that the executions were necessary to avert panic among the populace. This would indicate, of course, that the outcome of the military trial was predetermined.

Newspapers in France and Mexico began to refer to the Washington government as the “murderers of Mrs. Surratt.” The North’s bitterness against her son, Johnny Surratt, was heightened by the rumor that he was one of the leaders in the Confederate raid on St. Albans, Vermont, from Canada. A reward of $50,000 was offered for his apprehension but was never collected.”

(The Saga of Felix Senac: Legend and Life of a Confederate Agent in Europe. Regina Rapier, Bulletin of Art & History, No. 1, 1972. pp. 182-183)

The Sack of Williamsburg

The Sack of Williamsburg

“Our [25th Pennsylvania Regiment] picket line extended from the York to the James Rivers, about four miles; and with gunboats on either flank was a strong one.

One of the pickets posted at Williamsburg was at the old brick house once occupied by Governor Page of Virginia. It was built of brick imported from England. The library in the mansion was a room about eighteen by twenty feet, and the walls had been covered with books from floor to ceiling; but now the shelving had been torn down and the floor was piled with books in wretched disorder – trampled upon – most pitiful to see. In the attic of this old house the boys found trunks and boxes of papers of a century past – documents, letters, etc.

Among the latter were those bearing the signatures of such men as Jefferson, Madison, Richard Henry Lee; and one more signed by Washington.”

(25th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion. Samuel H. Putnam. Putnam, Davis and Company, Publishers. 1886, pp. 249-250)

The Conspiracy Which Brought on the War

The Conspiracy Which Brought on the War

The article in this number on the “Sudden Change in Northern Sentiment as to Coercion in 1861,” by Dr. James H. McNeilly of Nashville, shows that there was evidently a deeply laid plan to force the South into making the first hostile demonstration in order to arouse that sentiment which would respond to the call for troops necessary to invade this section. It is well-known that the general sentiment in the North was against making war on the seceding Southern States, but there was a powerful political element which really wanted war and could see the value of forcing the South into making an offensive move. Forcibly illustrating this spirit is the following quotation from a thoughtful writer of the South:

“On February 2, 1861, Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, in a letter published in the Memphis Appeal, wrote of the Republican leaders as follows:

‘They are bold, determined men. They are striving to break up the Union under the pretense of serving it. They are struggling to overthrow the Constitution while professing undying attachment to it and a willingness to make any sacrifice to maintain it. They are trying to plunge the country into a cruel war as the surest way of destroying the Union upon the plea of enforcing the laws and protecting public property.’

Shortly after Douglas wrote this letter Senator Zach Chandler of Michigan, wrote to Gov. Austin Blair which proves the conspiracy of the men determined on war. Virginia had solicited a conference of States to see if some plan could not be devised and agreed upon to prevent war and save the Union. Chandler wrote Governor Blair that he opposed the conference and that no Republican State should send a delegate. He implored the governor to send stiff-necked [anti-compromise] delegates or none, as the whole idea of compromise was against his judgement. Chandler added to his letter these sinister words: ‘Some of the manufacturing States think that a war would be awful; without a little bloodletting this Union will not be worth a curse.’”

(The Conspiracy Which Brought on the War. Confederate Veteran, Vol. XXIV, No. 10, October 1916. pg. 436)

 

Access Denied to Those Seeking Historical Truth

Access Denied to Those Seeking Historical Truth

“Undoubtedly the main reason for confusion about some of the incidents of the War Between the States – such as the assault on July 3rd at Gettysburg – was the arbitrary manner in which the Northern war department denied Southern writers access to the official documents – even those of their own preparation which were stolen or captured.

This blackout continued for thirteen years after the end of hostilities, a period during which most of the abiding impressions about the war were being formed. It is an amazing fact that when General Robert E. Lee endeavored to inspect his own reports of battles and his own field returns, he was denied that right. He never did have the opportunity to make use of them. Other Southern officers and writers were rebuffed in their efforts to examine papers which they desired to see solely for historical purposes. Officialdom is usually more illiberal than the people it represents.

Never was there a more obvious effort to channel the course of history – to make certain that history was written from only one side – than of the arbitrary Northern war department officials in the late 1860s and the 1870s.

When Governor Zebulon Vance of North Carolina sought to review his own letter books, which had been seized, in order that he might refute accusation made against him that had been based on garbled use of these same letters, the privilege was denied.

It should be recalled that after the war the South was virtually destitute of papers and reports bearing on the conflict. All documents either had been destroyed or seized by the invading armies, bundled and sent to Washington. There many of them remain.

The Rev. J. William Jones, long the secretary of the Southern Historical Society engaged in a spirited campaign with the North’s war department to gain for Southern writers the privilege of reading the reports of Southern generals that were freely available to northern writers. The standard reply was that Congress would have to authorize the printing of any war archives.

Jones charged that the records had been “for years closely guarded to all save a favored few,” and added: “Indeed, the outrage of keeping those documents locked up to Southerners, and open to every writer on the other side who might desire to defame our leaders or falsify our history, has become so patent to all right-thinking people that there have been denials that access has been denied to any seeker of historical truth.”

(Some Aspects of North Carolina’s Participation in the Gettysburg Campaign. Glenn Tucker. NC Historical Review, Vol. XXXV, No. 2, April 1958, pp. 191-193)

 

Hatred and the Thirst for Vengeance

In truth, those States who remained in the 1789 Constitution under Lincoln’s presidency continued as “the Union” – while several Southern States decided to form a more perfect Union known as a Confederacy. In this manner Lincoln’s Union was saved – so why did he wage war against the States which is the very definition of treason?

In addition, the invading Northern army was not truly reflective of Northern society as rising casualty lists, coffins and those maimed for life returned home early in the war and enlistments dwindled. By mid-1862 volunteers no longer came forward and Lincoln had to resort to foreigners, conscription and generous bounties for outright mercenaries.

An alleged restoration the Union evaporated quickly as the invading armies descended into indiscriminate destruction, looting and property confiscation – and the erection of puppet governments in conquered areas.

Hatred and the Thirst for Vengeance

“[I]n reality Sherman was remarkably free of malice toward the Southern people. He urged a warfare of terror not out of vindictiveness, but simply to win the war as quickly as possible [and without regard for the human cost].

And many other Northerners were drawn to the hard policy by their deepening hatred of Southerners. The death of tens – eventually hundreds – of thousands of Northern men inevitably stirred cries for revenge. Simple victory and the restoration of the Union would no longer suffice; there must be retribution. It now seemed clear that the Southern people as a whole were not misled and innocent of treason, but willful and guilty.

Northerners concluded that Southern society as it existed was simply incompatible with American nationhood. Even if vanquished in war, the South would remain a menace to the Union unless its very society was fundamentally reformed. All the previous elements that represented this society had to be swept away so that the South could be reconstructed in the image of the North. Only then could America fulfill its sacred destiny.

The Northern invaders now had a very different mission: not to conciliate, but to conquer and avenge; not to protect but to seize and destroy; not to restore but to prepare the way for a new South, and a new nation.”

(When the Yankees Came: Conflict and Chaos in the Occupied South. Stephen V. Ashe. UNC Press, 1995, pg. 52-53)

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