Browsing "Lincoln’s Hessians"

On The Bare Hills, Men Without a Country

It is said that Grant at Appomattox offered rations and transportation home to Lee’s surrendered Americans, or to exile in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Many might have gladly avoided living under Northern rule, “but in distant homes were old men, helpless women and children, whose cry for help it was not hard to hear.” With all the destruction around them and carpetbaggers flowing Southward, “no one dreamed of what has followed.”

On the Bare Hills, Men Without a Country

“[The enemy] were proud of their success, were more willing to give than our men, in the soreness of defeat, and not a man of that grand army of a hundred and fifty thousand men but could, and, I believe, would testify, that on purely personal grounds, the few worn out, half-starved men that gathered around General Lee and his falling flag held the prouder position of the two. Had politicians left things alone, such feelings would have resulted in a very different condition of things.

“We stacked eight thousand stands of arms, all told: artillery, cavalry, infantry, stragglers, wagon rats and all the rest, from twelve to fifteen thousand men.

The United States troops, by their own estimate, were one hundred fifty thousand men, with a railroad connecting their rear with Washington, New York, Germany, France, Belgium, Africa – all the world, and the rest of mankind,” as General [Richard] Taylor comprehensively remarked, for their recruiting stations were all over the world, and the crusade against the South, under pressure of the “almighty dollar,” was as absolute and varied in its nationality as was that of “Peter the Hermit,” under pressure of religious zeal upon Jerusalem.

Those of us who took serious consideration of the state of affairs, felt that with our defeat we had absolutely lost our country – the one we held under the Constitution – as though we had been conquered and made a colony of by France or Russia. So far, it was all according to the order of things, and we stood on the bare hills, men without a country.”

(Dickison and His Men, Mary Elizabeth Dickison, Courier-Journal Printing, 1890, excerpt pp. 241-243)

Planting Anarchism in America

Johann Most, self-styled anarchist communist found sympathetic ears in New York after arriving in 1882.  He promoted “propaganda of the deed,” acts of violence that would energize the masses. After the assassination of President McKinley, he wrote that it was not a crime to kill a ruler. Most gave a speech at Cooper Union twenty-two years after Abraham Lincoln gave his promoting ideas not found in the Constitution; in the latter’s audience was Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune, who employed Karl Marx (with Friedrich Engels assisting) as his European correspondent.  

By late 1864, fully a quarter of Lincoln’s army were German immigrants led by expelled revolutionaries of Europe’s 1848 socialist upheavals. Col. Rudolph von Rosa, an early member of the New York Communist Club, led the all-German Forty-sixth New York Regiment.

Planting Anarchism in America

“The failures and disappointments resulting from the series of national elections from 1874 to 1884 at last made an opening for party movements voicing the popular discontent and openly antagonistic to the traditional Constitution.

The Socialist Labor party held its first national convention in 1877. Its membership was mostly foreign; of twenty-four periodical publications then carried on in the party interest, only eight were in the English language; and this polyglot press gave justification to the remark that the movement was in the hands of people who proposed to remodel the institutions of the country before they had acquired its language.

The alien origin of the movement was emphasized by the appearance to two Socialist members of the Reichstag, who made a tour of the country in 1881 to stir up interest in the cause. It was soon apparent that the Socialist party organization was too hindered by the fact that it was too studious and its discussions too abstract to suit the energetic temper of the times. Many Socialists broke away to join revolutionary clubs . . . to fight the existing system of government.

At this critical moment in the process of social disorganization, the influence of foreign destructive thought made itself felt. The arrival of Johann Most from Europe in the fall of 1882 supplied this revolutionary movement with a leader who made anarchy its principle. Originally a German Socialist aiming to make the state the sole landlord and capitalist, he had gone over to anarchism and proposed to dissolve the state altogether, trusting to voluntary association to supply all genuine social needs.

Driven from Germany, he had taken refuge in England, but even the habitual British tolerance had given way under his praise of the assassination of Czar Alexander in 1881 and his proposal to treat other rulers in the same way. He had just completed a term of imprisonment before coming to the United States.

Here he was received as a hero; a great mass meeting in his honor was held at Cooper Union, New York, in December 1882; and when he toured the country he everywhere addressed large meetings.”

(The Chronicles of America Series, Allen Johnson, editor, Yale University Press, 1919, excerpts pp. 135-136)  

Immigrants, Riots and Cannon Fodder

For five bloody days in mid-July 1863, armed mobs of draft resisters, mostly immigrants, fought on New York City streets against enforcement of Lincoln’s conscription law – what began as a simple demonstration on July 13 devolved into wholesale destruction of property and life – 120 black people were killed and many fled the city in fear of their lives. This carnage was the result of Lincoln’s insatiable need for troops, as volunteers were coming to the end of their enlistments, horrifying news came from the front, and the State drafts of 1862 met with widespread evasion. Also unpopular was Lincoln’s new war aim of freeing slaves. 

To combat the rioters, nearly ten thousand Northern troops and artillery units were brought in from Gettysburg to patrol the streets.

Immigrants, Riots and Cannon Fodder

“[The] film [Gangs of New York] gives a glimpse of the rather nasty nativism among Northerners, a great many of whom hated Catholics and immigrants as much or more than they hated Southerners. None of the above fit into the Yankee ideal of true Americanism. Nativist gangs burnt down convents in Philadelphia and Boston when such things were never dreamt of in the South.

The film can open the door to another dirty little secret. We have heard a lot about immigrant criminal gangs. The fact that vigilante law prevailed over much of the North during the War has been conveniently forgotten. Besides the thousands of his critics Lincoln jailed without due process, thousands more were killed, injured, intimidated, and run out of town by proto-fascist gangs of Republican bully boys called “Wide Awakes.” They played a major role in making sure Northern elections turned out right, i.e., Republicans won.

The “riots” did not start out as race pogroms, though they degenerated into that. They started out as organized civic resistance to the draft, encouraged by the Democratic State government. Everyone knew that the Lincolnites enforced the draft at a much higher rate in areas that opposed them than they did in friendly areas – according to forthcoming studies by the New York playwright and historian John Chodes, the draft was imposed at four times the rate for Massachusetts. And the conscripts were well aware that they stood a good chance of being used up as cannon-fodder by Republicans who knew if they lost four men for every Southerner killed they would still end up on top, as long as the immigrant flow kept up.

About a fourth of the total enrollment of Lincoln’s armies were immigrants, many of whom were brought over and paid bounties for enlisting. The situation was so bad that the Pope sent one of his most persuasive priestly orators to Ireland to warn the people about being used up for Union cannon fodder.

Perhaps we can begin to recognize the historical fact that millions of Northern citizens did not willingly go along with Lincoln’s War. And the opponents were not limited to the New York City draft rioters.

The truth is that Lincoln’s party did not save the Union and the Constitution. It was a Jacobin party that seized power and revolutionized the North as well as conquering the South. The Gangs of New York can perhaps open a window that will encourage further historical discovery along these lines.”

(Scorcese’s Gangs of New York; Defending Dixie: Essays in Southern History and Culture, Clyde N. Wilson, Foundation for American Education, 2006, excerpts pp. 220-221)

Arch-Rebel George Washington

On August 23, 1775, George III proclaimed the American colonists of New England to be traitors and in rebellion. To suppress the American revolt, George III prepared for total war and sent an army of Scots Highlanders and Royal Guards; his effort to buy troops from Catherine of Russia had fallen through, though he acquired 7,000 German mercenaries from Brunswick and Hesse-Cassel.

One cannot fail to see the similarities with 1861 as a new American nation declared its independence and raised an army for defense. An American president then assembled an army which included paid German troops to suppress a “rebellion,” and the rebel leader is denounced as an “arch-rebel.”

George III offered amnesty and pardon if the colonists again recognized him as their Sovereign; Lincoln offered the South amnesty if it recognized him as their Sovereign. The “hideous dens of malnutrition and disease” described below were replicated in many Northern prisons and the cruel fate of the “Immortal 600” Southern officers held at Morris Island in 1864. One may also compare the tactics and methods of rebel-general Washington with rebel-general Stonewall Jackson in the Valley.

Arch-Rebel George Washington

“Washington’s plight [at New York in July 1776] was made more desperate by a piece of awesome news. America and the mother country had come to the parting of the ways. An express from Philadelphia brought the report that independence had been declared by [the Continental] Congress on 2 July.

Was he the first general of an emerging nation, or, as British propaganda had it, “the arch-rebel Washington,” outlaw leader of a guerilla band. [Howe’s] troops crossed the Hudson, scaled the Palisades, and took Fort Lee in twenty minutes, with yet another cache of arms and soldiers, the former to bombard the rebels, the latter to languish miserably in prison ships, floating sewers anchored off New York Harbor, hideous dens of malnutrition and disease.

[In early January 1777 near Princeton, British troops] opened a cannonade on the outnumbered Americans, trapped them in an orchard between a ravine and their cannon, leveled them with fresh blasts of artillery, and waded in with bayonets. Trapped and frightened, the [Americans] began to fall back to the rear . . . [and at] that moment Washington appeared.

Glancing once at the bloodied terrain, [Washington] plunged through the melee to within thirty yards of the advancing British and disappeared in a burst of fire and a gigantic cloud of smoke. It blew off a minute later, revealing George, possessed as ever, sitting calmly on his big white horse.

“Advance!” and the army plunged after him into the British center, driving them through the fields into the red brick buildings of the Princeton campus, where they holed up in schoolrooms, firing from class and chapel windows until blasted out by barrages of artillery or chased out at the point of bayonets. Perpetrators of the earlier orchard massacre received a dreadful vengeance; convinced the foe had used their bayonets with excessive severity, Americans closed in on the survivors and slaughtered nearly sixty on the spot.

[Cornwallis’s aide] Charles Stedman, objective even in catastrophe, traced the coup to Washington’s use of surprise and timing to unbalance a much larger army and his disposal of small forces for the maximum effect.”

(Washington: A Biography, Noemie Emery, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1976, excerpts pp. 192-193; 202; 210-211)

The Teutonic Tide

The only liberal democratic America which existed for German revolutionaries prior to 1860 was in the Northern States, already given over to burned-over districts and various “isms” of reform and communal-living movements. Well-before 1860, and mostly due to the foreign immigration in the North and flowing westward, two very different Americas existed. The South retained the Founders republic and Constitution; the North became the liberal democratic America which German revolutionaries believed they were migrating to. The Southern soldier fought for political independence against not only conscripted and bounty-enriched patriots in blue, but also recently-arrived Germans dreaming of a liberal socialist America. It was not by accident Lincoln purchased a German-language newspaper in Springfield, Illinois, to help him win the Republican nomination in 1860, and one-quarter of his army of invasion were German.

The Teutonic Tide

“After the Revolution, a number of the Hessian hirelings who had been brought over by the British settled in America . . . [and joined] the German settlements, avoiding the English-speaking communities in the United States because of the resentment shown towards them. The second period of German migration began about 1820 and lasted through the Civil War. [Between] 1845 and 1860 there arrived 1,250,000, and 200,000 came during the Civil War. [Due to the defeat of the socialist revolutions in Europe in 1848,] There seemed to remain only flight to liberal democratic America.

Arrived in America, these Germans were not content to settle, like dregs, in the cities on the seacoast. [And] westward they started at once . . . by way of the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes, and later by the new railway lines into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin and Iowa. St. Louis was the center of a German influence that extended throughout the Missouri Valley.

Unlike the Irish, the Germans brought with them a strange language [and] many of the intellectuals believed they could establish a German state in America. “The foundations of a new and free Germany in the great North American Republic shall be laid by us,” wrote Follenius, the dreamer, who desired to land enough Germans in “one of the American territories to establish an essentially German state.”

After 1870 a great change came over the German migration. More and more industrial workers, but fewer and fewer peasants, and very rarely an intellectual or man of substance, now appeared at Ellis Island for admission to the United States. The new Germans came in hordes even outnumbering the migrations of the fifties. Humility on the part of these newcomers now gradually gave way to arrogance. Instead of appearing eager to embrace their new opportunities, they criticized everything they found in their new home.

In 1895 there were some five hundred German periodicals published in America, and many of the newer ones were rabidly Germanophile. Before the United States entered the Great War, there was a most remarkable unanimity of [pro-German] expression among these German publications; afterward, Congress found it necessary to enact rigorous laws against them. As a result, many of them were suppressed, and many others suspended publication.”

(Our Foreigners, A Chronicle of Americans in the Making; The Chronicles of America Series, Allen Johnson, editor, Yale University Press, 1921, excerpts pp. 129-131; 134-135; 141-143)

Lincoln’s European Revolutionaries

Lincoln’s election owed much to the Italian, Hungarian, German, French, Spanish, Polish and Irish exiles who fled Europe after their failed socialist revolutions. In appreciation for swinging the foreign vote to him, Lincoln offered military command to Italy’s Garibaldi early in the war, and made Carl Schurz and Franz Sigel generals. Austrian Charge d’affairs to Washington, Chevalier J.G. Huelsemann, viewed Lincoln as a rude politician “who emerged from a log cabin to become the symbol of republican democracy and the very antithesis of” his emperor. The Chevalier found Jefferson Davis “definitely superior” to Lincoln.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

Lincoln’s European Revolutionaries

“The sympathy of the United States in general, and Lincoln’s Republicans in particular, for the revolutionaries of Europe was a long-established fact. Chevalier Huelsemann had frequently expressed indignation at the cordiality displayed in America toward exiles of the anti-Habsburg revolutions.

He never forgot his bitter feud with Daniel Webster over favors shown to Hungary’s Kossuth, and he also remembered that Abraham Lincoln, back in the Springfield days, had offered a resolution at a public meeting which called for recognition “in governor Kossuth of Hungary the most worthy and distinguished representative of the cause of civil and religious liberty on the continent of Europe.”

This, however, had taken place about ten years before when Mr. Lincoln was just a local politician and could be ignored by an envoy of the Emperor. But the righteous ire of the Chevalier rose to the boiling when President Lincoln, in the first month of his administration, announced the “provocative appointment” of Anson Burlingame, a “violent radical,” to the post of Minister Extraordinary at the Court of His Apostolic Majesty Francis Joseph I.

Former Senator Burlingame was guilty of giving moral support to the revolutionary leaders of Europe and, above all, of having sponsored legislation in favor of recognizing the new, anti-Austrian Italy of the Risorgimento. Plainly, such a man could not be allowed to enter the exalted presence of the Emperor. The Secretary of State [William Seward] rejected all protests of Huelsemann and instructed Burlingame to proceed to Vienna.

Burlingame, on his arrival in Paris, was informed by Austrian Ambassador Prince Metternich that his American Excellency would not be received by the Emperor.

At this point Lincoln intervened . . . [with orders that Burlingame] “has been commissioned United States Minister to China.”

(Lincoln and the Emperors, A.R. Tyrner-Tyrnauer, Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962, excerpts pp. 32-34)

Lincoln Cultivates the German Vote

Lincoln set out to cultivate the German vote while campaigning for the first Republican candidate John C. Fremont in 1856, using the popular expression “God Bless the Dutch” (Deutsche) at rallies. In this, Lincoln had to distance himself from the Republican party’s absorption of nativist “Know-Nothing” party members who distrusted foreigners. To further his own presidential ambitions in 1860, he purchased a German language newspaper in Springfield, Illinois – the result was that German Protestants and refugee 1848 revolutionists helped assure him of the presidential nomination.

Lincoln repaid his important German supporters with patronage positions: Carl Schurz became the United States Minister to Spain; Herman Kreismann to the Berlin legation; Georg Wiss, Consul to Rotterdam; George Schneider, Consul to Denmark; Theodore Canisius, Consul at Vienna; Johann Hatterscheidt, Consul to Moscow; Charles Bernays, Consul at Zurich; Heinrich Boernstein, Consul at Bremen. Other German-born naturalized American citizens receiving European consulates included August Wolff, August Alers, and Francis Klauser. To former Prussian military officers went regiments, brigades and preferential promotions.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Lincoln Cultivates the German Vote

“The proportion of foreigners grew from 13 percent to 19 percent. For all these newcomers to Illinois, the Homestead [Act] was the promise of an easy settlement in the West. Among them, foreigners, especially the Germans, constituted a particularly active and militant group in favor of the Homestead. It was, in fact, in response to the Germans of Cincinnati in 1861 that Lincoln would make his first declaration on the subject.

Lincoln entrusted to Gustave Koerner, the direction of efforts extended toward the Germans. Koerner, a lawyer from Belleville, put him in touch with [Theodore] Canisius, editor in chief of the Frei Presse of Alton, and, on May 30, 1860, Lincoln confided to the latter the management of the Illinois Staats Anzeiger, which he had recently acquired. An important role went to Friedrich Hecker, hero of [the] 1848 [German socialist revolution], who . . . established himself as the principal organizer among Germans . . .

In the person of Koerner, Lincoln brought into his campaign a moderate anti-slavery man who had broken with [Stephen] Douglas in 1854, two years after being elected lieutenant governor of Illinois.

By 1860 Lincoln enjoyed several advantages with German voters. He was known as the main adversary to nativism within the Illinois Republican party. The Caucus of German delegates at the [Republican’s 1860] Chicago Convention brought together . . . Caspar Butz, former Forty-eighter and representative in the Illinois house . . . Keorner; Hecker; George Schnieder, the founder of the Illinois Staats Zeitung and a collaborator of Lincoln since 1856 . . . and Joseph Weydemeyer, a former Prussian artillery officer, friend of [Karl] Marx, editor of the Voice of the People [Stimme des Volkes] in Chicago in 1860, genera of a Missouri regiment, and principal correspondent of Marx and Engels on military questions in the Civil War.”

(Lincoln, Land and Labor, 1809-1860, Olivier Fraysse, University of Illinois Press, 1988, excerpts pp. 138-141)

Virginia’s Killing Fields and War Profiteering

The immense carnage unleashed by Lincoln in 1861 led to Northern war-weariness by mid-1864 — and the suppression of liberties in the North had only increased opposition to his military regime. Lincoln’s war had unleashed another devil – war-profiteering. Historian James G. Randall wrote that “The relation of the War Department to the army on the one side and the contractors on the other is a sorry tale. Whether it was a matter of uniforms, food, horses, guns or munitions, the service was made to suffer while ill-gotten wealth was gathered in by shameless profiteers.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Virginia ‘s Killing Fields and War-Profiteering

By early June 1864, war-weary Northerners began to suspect that they had been betrayed by rosy promises of victory, just as they had been disappointed in every spring since 1861. They had been led to believe that the armies of Generals Grant and Sherman, in their combined offensives aimed at crushing the Confederacy, would finally achieve the triumph that had eluded Federal armies through three years of slaughter.

This time, Grant hurled 115,000 men across the Rapidan and attacked Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, a force only half as large but well entrenched behind elaborate defenses in the thicket of The Wilderness. Sherman led about 100,000 men out of Chattanooga, heading south to capture the railroad center of Atlanta . . .

As usual, the War Department sent forth cheerful bulletins about great “victories” and Northern newspapers blazoned headlines: “Glorious Successes – Lee Terribly Beaten.” “Our Army in Full Pursuit of the Enemy Towards Richmond.”

In fact, Secretary [of War Edwin] Stanton deliberately withheld the truth that Grant’s forces had suffered horrendous losses in the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor battles and that they had finally moved across the James River to about the same place where General McClellan had been two years before.

In a few weeks of direct frontal attacks on Richmond’s defenses Grant lost more than 50,000 men – killed, wounded and missing – almost as many men as Lee had in his army. Other estimates of Union losses ran much higher. John Tyler, an officer with Lee’s staff, claimed that the total was 70,000.

“Grant has shown great skill and prudence combined with remorseless persistency and brutality,” Tyler commented.

Eventually the enormous casualties could no longer be concealed as the people read the lengthening lists of killed and wounded in their newspapers, and boatloads of maimed soldiers arrived at the Washington waterfront from the killing fields of Virginia.

Thurlow Weed observed a depressing scene in New York State: “Regiments are returning home worn, weary, maimed and depleted. Our cities and villages swarm with skulking, demoralized soldiers.” He also lamented that “there is a reckless, money-making spirit abroad which, profiting by our disasters, favors a long war.”

“The commercial metropolis of the Union is flushed with prosperity and riots in extravagance,” one newspaper found. Throughout the spring of 1864, the New York Times observed that speculation mounted madly, higher and higher. “It was openly proclaimed on the Street that too much could not be paid for railway shares or mining allotments, because the currency was going to the dogs.” War profiteers made a vulgar display of their ill-gotten wealth by wearing diamond-studded waistcoats and spending money freely on jewelry for their women, and riding in fancy carriages and entertaining with lavish parties in their expensive homes.

As far as wealthy pleasure-seekers were concerned, the war was only a dim and distant sound coming out of the South . . . They would not care if the war would go on for another year or so if they could keep their precious carcasses out of the army. They could hire their substitutes for a few hundred dollars each and let the Irish, Germans, and the freed slaves fill the ranks and endure the hardships of battle and risk their lives for the Union.”

(The Dark Intrigue: The True Story of a Civil War Conspiracy, Frank van der Linden, Fulcrum Publishing, 2007, excerpts, pp. 113-114)

 

“It Was Lincoln Who Made War”

The author quoted below, US Navy Captain and Virginia-native Russell Quynn, was a veteran of both World Wars and a member of the Virginia bar since 1941. He writes that against the North, “the armies of the South at peak strength never exceeded 700,000 men,” and that “imported “Hessians” were used “by Lincoln to crush Americans of the South whose fathers had served in the armies of Washington, Jackson, Taylor, to make the nation, to found its renown.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

“It Was Lincoln Who Made War”

“Jefferson Davis, with his family, was captured in the Georgia pines on May 10, 1865, while en route to the Trans Mississippi, where he had hoped forces were still intact to continue the struggle Johnston and Beauregard had given up to Sherman at Durham, North Carolina . . . The odds now were ten to one; the North was being armed with Spencer-magazine repeating rifles, against the Confederates muzzle-loaders, to turn the war into mass murder.

During the four years of war the Northern armies had been replenished with large-scale inductions of more than 720,000 immigrant males from Europe; who were promised bounties and pensions that the South afterwards largely had to pay (see the Union Department of War records).

Charged with detestable crimes that, it was only too well known, he could not be guilty of, Davis was unable to obtain a hearing, and finally was released. A bail bond of $100,000 had been posted for him, oddly enough, by some of the men who had been his bitterest enemies – Horace Greeley, Gerrit Smith, Vanderbilt, and others among the twenty men who pledged $5,000 each in federal court.

Davis himself thought that “. . . by reiteration of such inappropriate terms as “rebellion” and treason,” and the asseveration that the South was levying war against the United States, those ignorant of the nature of the Union, and of the reserved powers of the States, have been led to believe that the Confederate States were in the condition of revolted provinces, and that the United States were forced to resort to arms for the preservation of their existence . . . The Union was formed for specific enumerated purposes, and the States had never surrendered their sovereignty . . . It was a palpable absurdity to apply to them, or to their citizens when obeying their mandates, the terms “rebellion” and “treason”; and, further, the Confederacy, so far from making war or seeking to destroy the United States, as soon as they had an official organ, strove earnestly by peaceful recognition, to equitably adjust all questions growing out of the separation from their late associates.”

It was Lincoln who “made war.” Still another perversion, Davis thought, “was the attempted arraignment of the men who formed the Confederacy, and who bore arms in its defense, as “instigators of a controversy leading to disunion.” Of course, it was a palpable absurdity, and but part of the unholy vengeance, which did not cease at the grave.”

(The Constitutions of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis: A Historical and Biographical Study in Contrasts, Russell H. Quynn, Exposition Press, 1959, excerpts pp. 126-128)

“Could Such Men be Defeated?”

Lieutenant-Colonel Garnet J. Wolseley was sent to Canada to reinforce the existing military force after the US Navy seizure of the British mail packet Trent in November, 1861. War was expected to commence and Wolseley, who distinguished himself later in his career in the Second Ashanti War and in an effort to rescue General Charles Gordon, led 10,000 seasoned British troops in Canada. Wolseley was well-aware of the immigrant source of Lincoln’s army.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

“Could Such Men be Defeated?”

Wolseley was aware of the source of many of Lincoln’s soldiers, combed from Ireland and Germany to fight against Americans. As he called for British intervention, he also knew that his country was responsible for populating the US with Africans, over whom the war was allegedly fought by the North.

“The first British officer to visit the Confederacy had at one time expected to be fighting against the North. Lieutenant-Colonel Garnet J. Wolseley, a veteran of several of Queen Victoria’s wars, was part of a British force ordered to Canada in 1861 as a show of strength after the US Navy stopped the British mail packet Trent and seized two Confederate agents who were on board.

The threat of war receded . . . [and taking] two months leave, he travelled . . . to New York City in September 1862 . . . and crossed the Potomac [as] General Robert E. Lee’s army was withdrawing from Maryland at the conclusion of the [Sharpsburg] campaign.

Even as he entered Virginia, Wolseley was favorably disposed toward the Confederacy, ostensibly out of concern for civil liberties in the wartime North. He described residents of Maryland as “stricken . . . with terror” by arrests ordered from Washington [and declined] to describe his route through Maryland, lest he endanger those with whom he had stayed.

Travelling by train from Fredericksburg to Richmond, [the] wounded from Lee’s Maryland invasion . . . impressed even Wolseley, the professional soldier:

“Men with legs and arms amputated, and whose pale, haggard faces assumed an expression of anguish even at the slightest jolting of the railway carriages, lay stretched across the seats – some accompanied . . . by wives or sisters, whose careworn features told a tale of sleepless nights passed in painful uncertainty regarding the fate of those they loved.”

In early October, Wolseley set out for Lee’s headquarters . . . his driver was a convalescent soldier who was still in considerable discomfort. “He said his furlough was up, and he would rather die than overstay it . . . when spoken to about the war, every man in the South, were prepared to die, he said, but never to reunite with the d—d Yankees.”

The British officer was impressed [with Lee]: “He is slightly reserved; but he is a person that, whenever seen, whether in a castle or a hovel, alone or in a crowd, must at once attract attention as being a splendid specimen of an English gentleman.”

Everywhere he was impressed with the tough, dedicate Confederate soldiers. Could such men be defeated, he would ask, “by mobs of Irish and German mercenaries, hired at $15 a month to fight in a cause they know little and care less about?”

[Returning] to Britain, he wrote an article for Blackwood’s Magazine [in which] he urged the British Parliament to intervene on behalf of the South, saying that the time had come “for putting an end to the most inhuman struggle that ever disgraced a great nation.”

(British Observers in Wartime Dixie, John M. Taylor; Military History Quarterly, Winter 2002, excerpts pp. 68-69)

 

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