Browsing "Lincoln’s Blood Lust"

A Fort on South Carolina’s Sovereign Soil

When foreign troops occupy your land and sufficient warning is given, a sovereign State will expel them. “The ultimate ownership of the soil, or eminent domain, remains with the people of the State in which it lies, by virtue of their sovereignty.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Fort on South Carolina’s Sovereign Soil

“For well over one hundred years, uninformed and liberal historians and others have charged South Carolina with starting the Civil War when the shore batteries at Charleston fired on the Federally-held Fort Sumter in the bay. These writers have stated that this fort was the property of the federal government. This statement is false.

On March 24, 1794, the US Congress passed an act to provide for the defense of certain ports and harbors of the United States. The sites of forts, arsenals, navy yards and other public property of the federal government were ceded or assigned by the States within whose limits they were, and subject to the condition, either expressed or implied, that they should be used solely and exclusively for the purpose for which they were granted. The ultimate ownership of the soil, or eminent domain, remains with the people of the State in which it lies, by virtue of their sovereignty.

South Carolina, in 1805 by legislative enactment, ceded to the United States in Charleston Harbor and on the Beaufort River, various forts and fortifications and sites for the erection of forts. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts enacted the same in its legislature in 1836. New York State, in granting the use of the site for the Brooklyn Navy Yard says: “The United States are to retain such use and jurisdiction so long as said tract shall be applied to the defense and safety of the city and port of New York and no longer . . .” The cession of the site of Watervliet Arsenal was made on the same terms.

It has been said by many historians that these sites were purchased outright by the federal government. This is also false. The Act of 1794 clearly states, “that no purchase shall be made where such lands are the property of the State.”

When General George B. McClellan and his federal army of 112,000 men landed on the tip of the Virginia peninsula April12, 1862 and occupied Fortress Monroe, this action verified the Southern charge of Northern aggression.

A State withdrawing from the union would necessarily assume the control theretofore exercised by the general government over all public defenses and other public property within her limits. The South, on the verge of withdrawal (from the union) had prepared to give adequate compensation to an agent of the Northern government for the forts and other public works erected on the land. Therefore, three commissioners from South Carolina, one from Georgia, and one from Alabama were sent to Washington to negotiate for the removal of federal garrisons from Southern forts.

The commissioners, all prominent men, were Messrs. Robert W. Barnwell, James H. Adams, and James L. Orr of South Carolina; Martin Crawford of Georgia, and John Forsythe of Alabama, and arrived in Washington on the 5th of March.

On March 12th they addressed an official communication to Mr. [William] Seward, Secretary of State, explaining their functions and their purpose. Mr. Seward declined to make any formal recognition of the commissioners, but assured them in verbal conferences of the determination of the government at Washington to evacuate Fort Sumter; of the peaceful intentions of the government, and that no changes in the status prejudicially to the Confederate States were in contemplation; but in the event of any change, notice would be given to the commissioners.

The commissioners waited for a reply to their official communication until April 8th, at which time they received a reply dated March 15th by which they were advised that the president had decided not to receive them, nor was he interested in any proposals they had to offer. During this time the cabinet of the Northern government had been working in secrecy in New York preparing an extensive military and naval expedition to reinforce the garrison at Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.

As they had tried to deceive the people of the North and South in January 1861 with the Star of the West (expedition to Sumter), loaded with troops and ammunition, the radical Republicans again advised the press that this mission was also a mission of mercy for the garrison of Fort Sumter, and on April 7th the expedition set sail southward bound loaded with troops and arms.

At 2PM, April 11, 1861, General Beauregard demanded that Major Anderson of Fort Sumter evacuate the works, which Anderson refused to do. At a little after 3AM, General Beauregard advised Major Anderson that “in one hour’s time I will open fire.”  At 4:40AM, from Fort Johnson the battery opened on Fort Sumter, which fire was followed by the batteries of Moultrie, Cummings Point and the floating battery.

At this time a part of the federal naval force had arrived at the Charleston bar, but strange to say, Captain Fox, after hearing the heavy guns of the bombardment decided that his government did not expect any gallant sacrifices on his part, and took no part in the battle. On April 13 after the Confederate guns had reduced Sumter to a smoking heap of ruin, Major Anderson surrendered, with no loss of life on either side.

“On one side of the conflict was the South led by the descendants of the Cavaliers, who with all their faults had inherited from a long line of ancestors a manly contempt for moral littleness, a high sense of honor, a lofty regard for plighted faith, a strong tendency for conservatism, a profound respect for law and order, and an unfaltering loyalty to constitutional government.”

Against the South was arrayed the power of the North, dominated by the spirit of Puritanism which, with all its virtues, has ever been characterized by the pharisaism which worships itself, and is unable to perceive any goodness apart from itself, which has ever arrogantly held its ideas, its interests, and its will, higher than fundamental law and covenanted obligations; which has always “lived and moved and had its being, in rebellion against constituted authority.

The Reverend R.C. Cave, 1894″

(Not Civil War But Northern Aggression, Land of the Golden River, Vol. II, Lewis P. Hall, Hall’s Enterprises, 1980, pp. 77-78)

Abe Lincoln’s First Shot Strategy

Abe Lincoln’s First Shot Strategy

April 11, 1861:

[Biographer Hudson Strode would continue]:

“The next morning supported by the majority of his Cabinet, but with [Robert] Toombs not voting, the President asked [General] Beauregard to demand the evacuation of Fort Sumter, and if the ultimatum should be refused, to reduce it.”

On the afternoon of April 11, under a flag of truce, Beauregard’s aides, former Senator James Chesnut, of South Carolina, and Captain Stephen Lee, set out in a small boat and conveyed the ultimatum. Deeply perturbed, [Fort Sumter commander] Major [Robert] Anderson debated with himself. Because of the recent letter from his government, he decided that he could not in honor comply. As he handed his formal reply to Chesnut, he remarked sadly, with a resigned smile, “I will await the first shot.” Then he added, as if casually, “If you do not batter us to pieces we will be starved out in a few days.” Along with the result of the visit, Beauregard communicated to Montgomery Anderson’s significant remark.

When President Davis received the report, he understood the miserable quandary of his old friend Bob Anderson, as clearly as he saw through Lincoln’s maneuver to make the [Confederacy] shoot. Knowing that the fort must not be reinforced and that time was running out, he yet made one last effort to avoid [armed engagement]. He had Confederate Secretary of War Leroy Walker telegraph Beauregard:

“We do not desire needlessly to bombard Fort Sumter. If Major Anderson will state the time . . . at which he will evacuate, and agree that in the meantime he will not use his guns against us unless ours should be employed against Fort Sumter, we will abstain from opening fire. You are thus to avoid the effusion of blood. If this or its equivalent be refused, reduce the fort as your judgment decides to be the most practicable.”

Far to the north in Hartford, Connecticut, the editor of the Hartford Daily Courant wrote in his editorial for the following day’s edition, “Public opinion in the [northern States] seems to be gradually settling down in favor of recognition of the new Confederacy by the Federal Government.” But the Lincoln Administration was well along in executing plans to remake that “opinion.”

Hudson Strode would continue the story:

The missive was presented, Anderson held a midnight conference with his top officers. A dutiful soldier and a loyal [Federalist], Anderson was also a Kentuckian, and married to a Georgian; he loved the Southern . . . people. If he had not misguidedly moved from [Fort] Moultrie to Sumter on that fateful Christmas night, “to prevent an effusion of blood,” he would not be in his present miserable dilemma! If to avoid a war between the States he now agreed to evacuation before the garrison’s last slab of salt pork was gone, Anderson knew he would be branded as a traitor. After painful, almost unbearable, deliberation, at half-past two in the morning of April 12, Robert Anderson took up his pen to compose a formal reply:

“I will, if provided with the proper and necessary means of transportation, evacuate Fort Sumter by noon [April 15], and I will not in the meantime open my fire upon your forces unless compelled to do so by some hostile act against this fort or the flag of my Government by the forces under your command should I not receive prior to that time controlling instructions from my Government or additional supplies.”

Time had run out, for the Federal fleet was already overdue. Records show that the Harriet Lane had already arrived at the designated rendezvous point off Charleston Harbor, and within minutes her commander would communicate with [US Navy official] Gustavus Fox who was on the Baltic. The warships were gathering.”

(Abe Lincoln’s First Shot Strategy, excerpted from Bloodstains, an Epic History of the Politics that Produced the American Civil War,” Howard Ray White, 2011, pp. 31-33)

Several Views of the Fort Sumter Affair

Several Views of  the Fort Sumter Affair

“On the night of 26/27 December [1860], Major Robert Anderson . . . withdrew his small force from the unfinished Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, the most defensible of the various posts scattered about the harbor, spiking the guns and burning the gun carriages at Moultrie. This surprise move greatly alarmed the public in South Carolina.

It was the first federal act that could be interpreted as overly hostile in intent, and it seemed to South Carolinians an act of bad faith, violating their understanding of a tacit agreement with Washington to maintain a status quo until a political settlement could be worked out by the delegates the State had sent there. Indeed, it was this act and not the firing on Fort Sumter that South Carolinians regarded as the commencement of hostilities.”

(Carolina Cavalier, Clyde N. Wilson, Chronicles Pres, 2002, page 137)

 

From Mr. Toombs, Secretary of State, CSA, April 24, 1861:

[to Hon. W.L. Yancy, P. Rost, Dudley Mann, Commissioners of the Confederate States]

“When you left this city [Montgomery] you were aware that Commissioners from this government had been sent to Washington with the view to open negotiations with the government of the United States for the peaceful settlement of all matters in controversy, and for the settlement of relations of amity and good will between the two countries.

They promptly made known to the Administration at Washington the object of their mission; gave the most explicit assurance that it was the earnest desire of the President, Congress, and the people of the Confederate States to preserve peace; that they had no demand to make which was not founded on the strictest justice, and that they had no wish to do any act to injure their late confederates, [and] they did not press their demand for a formal reception or a recognition of the independence of the Confederate States.

So long as moderation and forbearance were consistent with the honor and dignity of their government, they forebore from taking any steps which could possibly add to the difficulties by which the Cabinet of Mr. Lincoln was beset.

[They] received the most positive assurances from Mr. Seward that the policy of his government was peace; that Fort Sumter would be evacuated immediately; that Fort Pickens would soon be abandoned; that no measure was contemplated “to change the existing status of things prejudicially to the Confederate States;” and that, if any change were resolved upon, due notice would be given to the Commissioners.

Incredible as it may seem, it is nevertheless perfectly true that while the Government of the United States was thus addressing the Confederate States with words of conciliation and promises of peace, a large naval and military expedition was being fitted out by its order for the purpose of invading our soil and imposing on us an authority which we have forever repudiated, and which it was well known we would resist to the last extremity.

Having knowledge that a large fleet was expected hourly to arrive at Charleston harbor with orders to force and entrance and attempt to victual and reinforce the fortress, and that the troops of the Confederate States would be thus exposed to a double attack, General Beauregard had no alternative left but to dislodge the enemy and take possession of the fort, and thus command absolutely all the approaches to the port of Charleston, so that the entrance of a hostile fleet would be almost impossible.”

(Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, 1861-1865, J. D. Richardson, Editor, US Publishing Company, pp. 13-16)

 

Who Bears the Guilt?

“Perhaps a word should be inserted here as to which side was the aggressor in this historic conflict. Who bears the guilt of starting the war? The North has sought to lay this stigma upon the South since we fired the first shot.

But the courts (and common sense as well) have decreed that the aggressor is not the one who strikes the first blow, but the one who makes that blow necessary. The ground on which Fort Sumter stood had been lent to the Federal Government by the State of South Carolina for the erection of a fort to guard its chief harbor, but when South Carolina withdrew from the Union, the property automatically reverted to the State.

Morally and legally, the first blow was not struck at Charleston, but when this fleet with hostile intent weighed anchor in the harbor of New York. Hence the guilt of aggression lies at the door of the Federal government at Washington. (See Stephens History of the US, pp. 421-429)

(Some Things For Which the South Did Not Fight, Henry Tucker Graham, 1946)

Lincoln Launches His War Against the South

North Carolina retained strong Unionist sentiments until Lincoln’s provocations at Fort Sumter resulted in open warfare. Governor John W. Ellis was well aware of Constitutional limitations of presidential authority, and knew a president could not wage war against a State – an act of treason.  Read more about “A State Forced Out of the Union” at the North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial website, www.ncwbts150.com.   

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com   

 

Lincoln Launches His War Against the South

“In manipulating the Fort Sumter crisis to produce that “first shot,” Abe Lincoln had followed the advice of his long-time political friend, Orville Browning, of Illinois. Lincoln had first met Browning during brief service in the Illinois Militia, when they were both chasing after Black Hawk’s Native Americans. Well-educated, Browning practiced law in Quincy, Illinois, and was a Whig politician during the years that Lincoln was active in the Whig party. Then, like Lincoln, Browning became a major figure in the founding of the Illinois Republican party in 1856.

But Browning’s instruction about manipulating the Fort Sumter crisis to produce that most valuable “first shot” had been his most fearsome influence on Lincoln. Before the inauguration, Browning had written Lincoln: “In any conflict…between the [Federal] Government and the seceding States, it is very important that the [Secessionists] shall be [perceived] as the aggressors, and that they be kept constantly and palpable [allegedly] in the wrong. The first attempt…to furnish supplies or reinforcements to Sumter will induce [a military response] by South Carolina, and then the [Federal] Government will stand justified, before the entire [Federation], in repelling the aggression, and retaking the forts.”

Later that summer Lincoln would happily tell Browning, “The plan succeeded. They attacked Sumter – it fell, and thus, did more service than it otherwise could.”

Lieutenant [Gustavus] Fox was very discouraged by his failure to resupply Fort Sumter, and would soon write Abe Lincoln a letter of apology. To Fox, Lincoln would reply: “You and I both anticipated that the cause of the [Federation] would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the results.”  Having in his hand his coveted “first shot,” Abe Lincoln lost no time in launching a war against the Confederacy. 

On the very next day, April 15, Lincoln issued an Executive Proclamation directing the Army and Navy to invade the Confederacy and force her States to submit to Federal authority. Lincoln cloaked his rhetoric in awkward language that avoided referring to the Confederacy by name, ignored the fact that seven States had seceded prior to his taking office, ignored Fort Sumter, alleged the existence of lawlessness and rebellion on the part of some of the people in seven States, and inferred that the northern States were somehow in harm’s way.

The Proclamation was set in legal language to circumvent the authority vested in the Federal House and Senate to declare war, and to suppress the notion that the Confederacy even existed. Instead of naming the Confederacy, he called his adversary, “combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings.”

In his proclamation Abe Lincoln had totally ignored the action of his fleet of warships and the Confederate eviction of the Federal regiment from Fort Sumter. To have done so would have required that he admit that 7 States had seceded and formed a new nation, that the States into which he was dispatching militiamen were actually members of a peaceful foreign nation.

(Abe Lincoln’s First Shot Strategy, excerpted from Bloodstains, an Epic History of the Politics that Produced the American Civil War,” Howard Ray White, 2011, pp. 38-43)

 

Lincoln’s Duplicity at Fort Sumter

The land ceded to the federal agent at Washington for forts, arsenals and yards by individual States were intended for the protection, not destruction, of the States they were located in. If a fort was to be used by that agent for a warlike purpose against a State, it is obvious that State would immediately eject the federal employees. Lincoln in early 1861 sent spies to Charleston to gather intelligence before he commenced war.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln’s Duplicity at Fort Sumter

“There are many matters of interest and importance connected with the firing upon Fort Sumter which are not generally mentioned in our American histories. These are given in some detail in Dr. H.A. White’s “Life of Robert E. Lee.” Such information is essential to an understanding of the whole subject of the beginnings of the sectional conflict.

“. . . It will be an advantage for the South to go off,” said H.W. Beecher. After the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln there was a strong current opinion in the North that the Federal troops should be withdrawn from the Southern forts. President Lincoln’s “organ,” the National Republican, announced that the Cabinet meeting of March 9 had determined to surrender both Sumter and Pickens.

That [Major Robert] Anderson would be withdrawn from Sumter “was the universal opinion in Washington (Rhodes, U.S., vol. iii, p. 332). Welling, of the National Intelligencer, was requested by [William] Seward to communicate the Cabinet’s purpose to George W. Summers, member of the Virginia Convention (The Nation, Dec. 4, 1879). March 15 Secretary Seward unofficially notified the Confederate Commissioners, through Justice Campbell of the Supreme Court, that Sumter would be yielded at once to the Southern Confederacy.”

“. . . March 24 brought Colonel Ward H. Lamon of Washington to Fort Sumter. He obtained permission from Governor Pickens to visit Major Anderson upon the representation that he had come as “confidential agent of the President,” to make arrangements for the removal of the garrison. The impression produced upon Major Anderson by Lamon, as well as upon the officers and men of the garrison, was that the command was to be withdrawn.” Lamon informed Governor Pickens “that the President professed a desire to evacuate the work.” After Lamon’s return to Washington he sent a written message to Pickens, that he “hoped to return in a very few days to withdraw the command.”

(The Women of the South in War Times, Matthew Page Andrews, editor, Norman, Remington Company, 1920, pp. 59-60)

New England Rebels and Tyrants

Admiral Raphael Semmes wrote in the immediate postwar that “Constitutions are made for the protection of minorities,” that “they naturally cling to the guarantees and defences provided for them in the fundamental law; it is only when they become strong” and become majorities “that their principles and their virtues are really tested.” He was referring to New England which when in the minority was firmly for States’ rights, but in 1860 when it became the majority, became strongly nationalist and embarked on a path to subjugate the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

New England Rebels and Tyrants

“The American Constitution died of a disease that was inherent in it. It was framed on false principles inasmuch as the attempt was made, through its means of binding together, in a republican form of government, two dissimilar peoples, with widely dissimilar interests.

Monarchical governments may accomplish this since they are founded by force, but republican governments never. The secession of the Southern States was a mere corollary of the American proposition of government; and the Northern States stultified themselves, the moment they started to resist it. The consent of the Southern States being wanted, there should have been an end of the question.

If the Northern States were not satisfied to let them go, but entertained, on the contrary, a desire to restrain them by force, this was a proof that those States had become tired of the republican form and desired to change it.

So loth was the South to abandon the Union that she made strenuous efforts to remain in it, even after Mr. Lincoln had been made president in 1860. In this election that dreaded sectional line against which President Washington had warned his countrymen in his Farewell Address, had at last been drawn . . . There had at last arisen a united North, against a untied South.

[Lincoln’s election] was purely geographical; it was tantamount to a denial of the co-equality of the Southern States with the Northern States, since it drove the former out of the common Territories. In both houses of Congress the Northern faction which had so recently triumphed in the election of their president, was arrayed in hostility to the South, and could not be moved [to compromise] an inch. Rebels, when in a minority, [New Englanders] had become tyrants now that they were in a majority.

Nothing remained to the South, but to raise the gauntlet which had been thrown at her feet. The federal government which had been established by our ancestors had failed of its object. Instead of binding the States together, in peace, and amity, it had, in the hands of one portion of the States, become an engine of oppression of the other portion. It so happened, that the slavery question was the issue which finally tore them asunder, but . . . this question was a mere means, to an end.

[That] end was empire . . . in this hemisphere, the drama which had so often been enacted in the other, of the more powerful nation crushing out the weaker.

The war between the American sections was but the prototype of many other wars, which have occurred among the human race. It had its origin in the unregenerated nature of man, who is only an intellectual wild beast, whose rapacity has never yet been restrained, by a sense of justice. The American people thought, when they framed the Constitution that they were to be an exception to mankind, in general.

History had instructed them that all other peoples, who had gone before them had torn up paper governments, when the paper was the only bulwark that protected such governments, but then they were the American people, and no such fate could await them.”

(Memoirs of Service Afloat During the War Between the States, Raphael Semmes, 1868, LSU Press, 1996, excerpts, pp. 53-70)

 

The Responsibility for Suffering Prisoners

Southern men held captive and starving in cold Northern prisons were surrounded by bountiful harvests and plentiful medicines while Northern prisoners shared the meager rations of their guards. Though the South had little medicine and scarce foodstuffs, a lower percentage of Northern prisoners died in the South than the reverse. Below are excerpts from the Joint Select Committee of the Confederate States Congress, investigating the conditions of prisoners after the US Congress issued a report condemning alleged Confederate mistreatment of Northern prisoners.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Responsibility for Suffering Prisoners

“[We] deem it proper at this time to make a preliminary report, founded on evidence recently taken, relating to the treatment of prisoners of war by both belligerents. This report is rendered especially important, by reason of persistent efforts lately made by the Government of the United States . . . to asperse the honor of the Confederate authorities, and to charge them with deliberate and willful cruelty to prisoners of war.

The candid reader of [Northern publications claiming Southern cruelties] will not fail to discover that, whether the statements they make are true or not, their spirit is not adapted to promote better feelings between the hostile powers. They are not intended for the humane purpose of ameliorating the condition of the unhappy prisoners held in captivity.

They are designed to inflame the evil passions of the North; to keep up the war spirit among their own people; to present the South as acting under the dominion of a spirit of cruelty, inhumanity and interested malice, and thus to vilify her people in the eyes of all on whom these publications can work.

They are justly characterized by the Hon. James M. Mason as belonging to that class of literature called the “sensational” – a style of writing prevalent for many years at the North, and which, beginning with the writers of newspaper narratives and cheap fiction, has gradually extended itself, until it is now the favored mode adopted by medical professors, judges of courts and reverend clergymen, and is even chosen as the proper style for a report by a committee of [the Northern] Congress.

The intent and spirit of this [Northern congressional] report may be gathered from the following extract: “The evidence proves, beyond all manner of doubt, a determination on the part of rebel authorities, deliberately and persistently practiced for a long time past, to subject those of our soldiers who have been so unfortunate to fall into their hands, to a system of treatment which has resulted in reducing many of those who have survived and been permitted to return to us, to a condition both physically and mentally, which no language we can use can adequately describe.”

The evidence proves that the rations furnished to prisoners of war in Richmond and on Belle Isle, have been never less than those furnished to the Confederate soldiers who guarded them, and have at some seasons been larger in quantity and better in quality than those furnished to Confederate troops in the field. How often the gallant men composing the Confederate army have been without meat, for even long intervals, your [US Congressional] committee does not deem it necessary to say.

Once and only once, for a few weeks, the prisoners were without meat, but a larger quantity of bread and vegetable food was in consequence supplied to them.

The scarcity of meat and of bread stuffs in the South in certain places has been the result of the savage policy of our enemies in burning barns, filled with wheat or corn, destroying agricultural implements, and driving off or wantonly butchering hogs or cattle. Yet amid all these privations, we have given to their prisoners the rations above mentioned.

But the question forces itself upon us why have these sufferings been so long continued? Why have not the prisoners of war been exchanged, and thus some of the darkest pages of history spared to the world. In the answer to this question must be found the test of responsibility for all the sufferings, sickness and heart-broken sorrow that have visited more than eighty thousand prisoners within the past two years. On this question, your committee can only say that that the Confederate authorities have always desired a prompt and fair exchange of prisoners.

Soon after [a] cartel was established, the policy of the enemy in seducing Negro slaves from their masters, arming them and putting white officers over them to lead them against us, gave rise to a few cases in which questions of crime under the internal laws of the Confederate States appeared. Whether men who encouraged insurrection and murder could be held entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war under the cartel, was a grave question.

But these cases were few in number, and ought not to have interrupted the general exchange. We were always ready and anxious to carry out the cartel in its true meaning . . . but the fortunes of war threw the larger number into the hands of our enemies. Then they refused further exchanges – and for twenty-two months this policy has continued.

Secretary Stanton, who has unjustly charged the Confederate authorities with inhumanity, is open to the charge of having done all in his power to prevent a fair exchange and thus prolong the sufferings [of Northern prisoners in the South]. [Gen. Benjamin Butler] has declared that in April 1864, the Federal Lieut. General Grant forbade him to deliver to the Rebels a single able-bodied man” . . .

These facts abundantly show that the responsibility of refusing to exchange prisoners of war rests with the Government of the United States, and the people who have sustained that government; and every sigh of captivity, every groan of suffering, every heart broken by hope deferred among these eighty thousand prisoners, will accuse them in the judgement of the just.

Their own savage warfare has wrought all the evil. They have blockaded our ports; have excluded from us food, clothing and medicines; have even declared medicines contraband of war, and have repeatedly destroyed the contents of drug stores and the supplies of private physicians in the country; have ravaged our country, burned our houses, and destroyed the growing crops and farming implements. These desolations have been repeated again and again in different parts of the South. Thousands of our families have been driven from their homes as helpless and destitute refugees.

While thus desolating our country, in violation of the usages of civilized warfare, they have refused to exchange prisoners; have forced us to keep fifty thousand of their men in captivity, and yet have attempted to attribute to us the sufferings and privations caused by their own acts. We cannot doubt that, in the view of civilization, we shall stand acquitted, while they must be condemned.”

(The Treatment of Prisoners During the War Between the States, compiled by the Secretary of the Southern Historical Society, Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume One, excerpts, pp. 132- 148)

Death is Mercy to Secessionists

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

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Death is Mercy to Secessionists

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

W.T. Sherman, Major General Commanding

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

 

Six Hundred Southern Officers at Morris Island

Imprisoned Southern officers were transported to Morris Island near Fort Sumter as used as a human shield in front of Northern batteries indiscriminately shelling Charleston in mid-1864. Those who did not perish from the ordeal would later suffer serious intestinal disorders or early death from their near starvation by the enemy.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Six Hundred Southern Officers at Morris Island

“After weary months in Washington, during which time I was shown many kindnesses and attentions from Southern sympathizers, I was carried to Fort Delaware prison. After a lapse of some time I was drawn in with the lot of six hundred officers to be carried to “Morris Island,” to be placed under the fire of our own guns at Charleston. We were crowded in the dark hole of the vessel, only equal to the “Black Hole of Calcutta,” and packed on shelves like goods in a store, without any light or air, except that driven down a shaft by wind-sails.

On our arrival we were put in a “stockade pen,” between “Fort Wagner and Fort Gregg,” and guarded by a Negro regiment. For forty-five days we sat upon the sands and witnessed the burning fuses from bombs, larger than nail-kegs continuously fired night and day by our men at the forts. If they overshot the one or undershot the other they’d hit us. But that God marks the sparrow’s fall, protected us.

On the eve of our leaving for “Hilton Head,” the Negroes on guard fired into some of us. I saw three fall either killed or wounded; they were hurriedly moved out. I never learned their fate.

Three of our number got the cabin maid to steal life preservers from the cabins and quietly slid over-board where sharks were as thick as minnows. Two were exhausted from thirst and lack of food and were captured on PinckneyIsland; the third reached Charleston.

They gave us absolutely nothing at all to eat for forty-five days but a little rotten corn meal filled with black bugs, without salt or anyway to cook it. Our comrades were dying by squads daily, the dead house was filled all the time with the corpses. Scores of cats would enter through holes and prey upon the dead.”

Lt. Col. C.B. Christian, Walker’s Ford, Amherst County, Virginia

(Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. XXXVII, R.A. Brock, editor, 1909, pp. 241-242)

Witness to Sorrow

Though opposed to his State’s secession, South Carolinian William J. Grayson saw the true face of the Northern-dominated union as Lincoln’s army murdered and plundered his neighbors. In like manner, North Carolina Unionist Edward Stanly, Lincoln’s proconsul in occupied New Bern, lost faith in the conquerors as he witnessed Northern troopships returning north laden with stolen furniture, artwork and jewelry.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Witness to Sorrow

“For this calamity, this crime of War between North and South, Northern people are chiefly chargeable. The cupidity and intermeddling spirit of New England were the main causes of dissention. Her greedy tariff exaction, her perpetual irritating interference with Negro slavery in the Southern States, her avaricious monopolists & political priests sowed the seed of which we are reaping the natural harvest.

If ever a people destroyed their own prosperity it is the people of New England. They are accustomed to call the brain of New England the brain of the Union — it is the brain of a lunatic who cuts his own throat. No chain of cause and effect in all history is more clearly traceable than the destruction of the Federal Union by Northern folly and madness.

If they succeed in the war they will be the rulers over insurgent provinces ready at the first opportunity to renew the contest. The restoration of the union is an impossibility. There must succeed to it another government with standing armies, enormous taxes and despotic power beneath whose influence Northern liberty will wither and perish. In the early part of November [1861] the Northern government began a series of predatory expeditions on the Southern coast. The first under Sherman and Dupont disembarked at Port Royal. They presented to the world a striking evidence of the ease with which men strain at gnats and swallow camels.

They were prosecuting as felons in New York the captured privateersmen of the South, and were seizing all the cotton and other property of widows, children and noncombatants on the islands of South Carolina, contrary to every usage of civilized war.

The robbery has been approved and applauded throughout the Northern States. They talk with exultation of cultivating the plantations of Port Royal on Federal account as a sort of financial appendage to the Washington government. The rights of the owners are disregarded.

To the people of St. Helena parish and the adjoining country the disaster was incalculable. They lost everything; houses, plantations, Negroes, furniture, clothing. They became fugitives. Northern men engaged formerly in surveying the coast served as guides for the marauding parties. With their wives and children they had spent months in the families of the planters, had eaten dinners and drank wine, and now they acted as pioneers of plunder to the scenes of the feast.

They were better able to discover the stores of old Madeira from having frequently joined the owners in drinking it. Their first question asked of the servants on entering a house from which their cannon had driven the owner was — “where is the wine kept?”

There was something indescribably mean in the conduct of these parties but very characteristic of the people whose officers they were. They are a thrifty race, not scrupulous about the means if their end be attained. Our worthy friends of Massachusetts treat us (as) they did the Indians, witches, Quakers, Baptists and other heretics of earlier times. There are many pious Christians but not a voice is heard in favor of peace. So far as we can judge from their acquiescence in Sewardism, they have fallen into the strange delusion that Christian Charity is consistent with rape, rapine and murder.

They pray and preach not for peace, but for the more earnest prosecution of a bloody war and the enactment of general confiscation acts. They [Northerners] exulted . . . a manifest judgment of Providence on the home of rebels and traitors. They believed that Heaven had put the torch to Southern homesteads to avenge the abolition party and support the cause.”

(Witness to Sorrow, the Antebellum Autobiography of William J. Grayson. University of South Carolina Press, 1990, pp 185-201)