Browsing "Lincoln’s Grand Army"

American Attilla

On the 18th of December1864 Lincoln’s general-in-chief Henry Halleck wrote Sherman: “Should you capture Charleston, I hope that by some accident the place may be destroyed; and if a little salt should be sown upon its site, it may prevent the growth of future crops of nullification and secession.” Ironically, secession was first threatened by New England at the time of the Louisiana Purchase and in its 1814 Hartford convention; nullification of federal law was the very basis of the North’s prewar Personal Liberty Laws. In late 1864 and early 1865, Sherman’s 65,000 man army triumphantly plundered and destroyed Georgia and South Carolina with virtually no opponents except old men, women and children. General Joe Wheeler had 5,000 cavalry to merely harass Sherman with. The following was reprinted from a May 1873 article in Southern Magazine.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

American Attilla

“To [Halleck’s letter] General Sherman replies, December 24: “This war differs from European wars in this particular – we are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people; and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies.

I will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and don’t think “salt” will be necessary. The truth is, the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance on South Carolina. I almost tremble for her fate, but feel that she deserves all that seems to be in store for her.”

On the 23rd he writes to General Kilpatrick: “Let the whole people know the war is now against them, because their armies flee before us and do not defend their country or frontier as they should. It is pretty nonsense for Wheeler and Beauregard and such vain heroes to talk of our warring against women and children. If they claim to be men, they should defend their women and children and prevent us reaching their homes.”

If, therefore, an army defending their country can prevent invaders from reaching their homes and families, the latter have a right to that protection; but if the invaders can break through and reach these homes, [they] are justified in destroying women and children. Certainly this is a great advance on the doctrine and practice of the Dark Ages.

Is it any wonder that after reading [this] we fervently echo General Sherman’s devout aspiration: “I do wish the fine race of men that people our Northern States should rule and determine the future destiny of America?”

(Gleanings from General Sherman’s Dispatches, Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume XIII, William Jones, editor, 1885, Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1990, excerpts pp. 446-448)

Profiteering in Arkansas

With Lincoln’s approval, former Illinois Congressman William Kellogg advanced a cotton-trading scheme at Northern occupied Helena, Arkansas, which would reap millions for himself and provide slave-produced cotton for hungry Northern mills. Though Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase opposed the idea, Kellogg was later appointed chief justice of the Nebraska Territory in early 1865 for his patriotic efforts.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Profiteering in Arkansas

“Upon occupying Helena, Arkansas, in mid-July 1862, Union General Samuel Curtis complained that his camp was “infested with Jews, secessionists and spies.” By issuing orders that restricted trade to a few people he could control under military law as sutlers, Curtis adopted a policy that made him vulnerable to charges of improper monopolization.

Shortly, a steady stream of rumored abuses percolated up to Chicago and the department headquarters for Curtis’s army at St. Louis. Illinois Senator Orville Browning’s diary records Chicago rumors that Curtis deposited $150,000 with a Chicago financier less than three months after occupying Helena. By October 1862, [an] officer said, Curtis had already seized several million dollars worth of [cotton] and “converted it to his own use.”

Later, Curtis wrote Lincoln directly to explain that the complaints originated out of envy from unsavory characters who were unworthy of trade privileges. Nonetheless, within a few months, the general was transferred to St. Louis to become the new department commander, and rumors of his possible fraud trailed along.

An investigating Treasury agent concluded that Helena’s trade “diverted soldiers to become agents and brokers of cotton buying [and had] thrown thousands of dollars into the hands of our enemies.” Corruption flourished at Helena, where the army had little to do during twelve months of idle occupation before invading central Arkansas in late summer of 1863.

Federal soldiers even purchased cotton from slaves with counterfeit Confederate money.

Lincoln’s military governor of Arkansas complained late in 1862 that the idle troops at Helena were principally engaged in profiting from cotton trade. They raided neighboring plantations to confiscate whatever cotton they could get. As an afterthought, they would often destroy the plantation homestead.

Helena’s steady occupation led to deplorable sanitary conditions, particularly among the freed slaves . . . [and] disease, malnutrition, and lack of clothes and shelter took a toll on the blacks who sought refuge in the town.

Before the end of 1862, the inland navy began to get involved. [Admiral David Dixon Porter’s] crews became covetous of cotton as a prize of war . . . [and] 50 percent of a captured cargo was subject to a reward for the crew of the ship making the capture. By the end of the war, Porter had become so aggressive at stealing cotton . . . [he was dubbed] “Thief of the Mississippi.”

His sailors would seize bales and stencil “C.S.A” on them, thereby falsely representing the cotton as property of the Confederate government and therefore subject to prize law.”

(Trading With the Enemy: The Covert Economy During the American Civil War, Philip Leigh, Westholme Publishing, 2014, excerpts pp. 65-66)

Bounties Fill Lincoln’s Armies with Patriots

In mid-1862 volunteering in the North had all but stopped after the carnage and high casualty numbers to date, though Lincoln desperately needed more troops to continue his war. He threatened conscription as a whip to encourage governors to fill the “troop quotas” he demanded, and the governors rightly feared retaliation from their constituents who had little interest in the war. Bounties were used to buy the services of paupers, indigents, immigrants and recently-released criminals to fill the ranks and keep Northern working men at home. Massachusetts Governor John Andrew found a workable solution in sending State agents to the occupied South to enlist captured black men who would be counted toward his State quota – and approved by Lincoln.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Bounties Fill Lincoln’s Armies with Patriots

“After the first flush of patriotism had passed, one of the strong inducements to enlistment was a financial one – a bounty, and, at a later date, the advance of the first month’s pay. During the Civil War, bounties came from three sources – the federal government, local governmental units, and private subscription. (In Ohio there was no bounty offered directly from State funds.)

The federal government, at the beginning of hostilities, offered a bounty of $100, payable upon honorable discharge . . . [but] by action of Congress in July 1862, one-fourth of this sum was to be paid upon muster and the balance at the expiration of the term of enlistment.

By later acts of Congress the bounty was increased to as much as $400 in some cases, payable in installments at certain periods during the soldier’s service as well as upon his being mustered in and mustered out. By 1863, the volunteer could expect $75 from the federal government at the time he was mustered in, $13 of the amount being his first month’s pay.

To the federal bounty there came to be added bounties provided by local governmental units and private subscription. Indeed, as [Provost Marshal General James Fry] wrote, the federal bounty paled into “comparative insignificance” when compared with the “exorbitant bounties paid in advance by local authorities.”

These, he believed, were the most mischievous in encouraging desertion, bounty-jumping, and other evils connected with the system. So great was the stigma of the draft that local authorities were highly competitive in the amounts offered to volunteers. Furthermore, they paid all the sum in advance. The primary objective of these payments, as General Fry put it, came to be “to obtain men to fill quotas.”

Localities began by offering moderate bounties. In 1862 the average local bounty was estimated at $25; in 1863 it advanced to $100; in 1864 it bounded to $400; and in 1865 the average bounty was $500, although in some localities it was as high as $800. The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners levied a tax of two mills in 1863 to take care of local bounty payments. On a tax duplicate of $128,432,065 this levy yielded about $256,864. The next year the city of Cincinnati began to borrow in order to offer city bounty payments, and during that year 1,811 volunteers were paid bounties of $100 each.

After the war the adjutant-general of Ohio estimated that $54,457,575. Had been paid in local bounties throughout the State, of which amount cities and counties had paid about $14,000,000 and private subscribers, $40,457,575.

The private subscriptions represented ward or township bounties, offered to encourage volunteering to avoid the draft in a city ward or township. [Political] Ward military committees were very active in securing private contributions for this purpose, as well as in securing volunteers.”

(Relief for Soldiers’ Families, Joseph E. Holliday; Ohio History, Vol. 71, Number 2, July 1962, James H. Rodabaugh, editor, excerpts pp. 98-100)

Immigrant Politics and Recruits Up North

An 1845 congressional committee investigating naturalization frauds in New York and Philadelphia found it was common practice on the eve of elections for immigrants, many not yet qualified by residency, to be naturalized in droves by political machines like Tammany Hall. This immigrant influx had created two Americas by the late 1850s: An immigrant-dominated North versus a South still consisting of English and Scots-Irish who originally settled the region. The former knew little of American institutions; the latter revered limited government, self-reliance and independence.

In 1860, the South contained some 233,000 people born under a foreign flag, while the North held nearly 4 million foreign-born inhabitants. While running for president in mid-1860, Lincoln purchased Springfield (Illinois) Zeitung to gather immigrant votes; by 1864, fully 25% of Lincoln’s war machine consisted of Germans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Immigrant Politics and Recruits Up North

“In 1835, it was reported that more than one-half of the paupers in the almshouses of New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore were foreign-born, and in later years the proportion was even higher. Crime statistics, too, revealed a disproportionate number of foreign-born offenders; in 1850 there were three times as many foreign-born inmates of the New York State prisons as there were natives.

To many nativists an equally grave and more immediate threat to republican freedom stemmed from the political role of the foreign-born. In places the proportion of foreign-born voters had so increased as to hold the balance of electoral power; this of itself was a source of alarm, for most immigrants remained ignorant of American institutions.

In addition, the electoral violence and voting frauds, which had come to characterize immigrant voting in politics, we believed to be sapping the very foundations of the American political system. There were numerous complaints of native voters being kept from the polls by organized mobs of foreign laborers, of immigrants voting on the very day of their arrival in America, and of hired witnesses and false testimony as the commonplaces of naturalization proceedings.

[Native resentment] of German arrogance gave way to excited warnings against the machinations of a disaffected and turbulent element to whom America had unwisely given asylum. [An example of this were] the demands of Communist Forty-Eighters like Wilhelm Weitling, who advocated complete social revolution and the establishment of an American “republic of the workers.”

In Missouri in the spring of 1861, the bulk of Union forces consisted of German militiamen [who] thwarted secessionist attempts to take the State out of the Union. What led many to enlist was the offer of a bounty greater than an unskilled laborer’s annual earnings. Large numbers, too, joined the army because the trade depression at the beginning of the war, and its consequent unemployment, left them no choice save starvation or military service.

Such cases were common, for example, in New York where Horace Greeley, struck in April 1861 by the high proportion of foreigners among the recruits, wondered whether “the applicants were actuated by the desire of preserving the Union of the States or the union of their own bodies and souls.”

(American Immigration, Maldwyn Allen Jones, University of Chicago Press, 1960, excerpts pp. 152-154; 171-172)

Jul 1, 2018 - Carnage, Lincoln's Grand Army, Myth of Saving the Union, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Giving the Federal Army a Shock at Gettysburg

Giving the Federal Army a Shock at Gettysburg

In a letter to his wife from the Georgia legislature on November 16, 1860, State Senator Clement Evans (1833-1911) wrote: “There is no need of alarm when the Union dissolves. It will be a peaceful death of a decrepit old man, and the North shall take the body, and we will be the disenthralled soul.” Wound five times, twice severely, Evans commanded the Thirty-first Georgia Regiment, the Bartow Guards, which reached York, Pennsylvania, the farthest advance of any Confederate unit. His regiment was the last to leave Pennsylvania after Gettysburg.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Giving the Federal Army a Shock at Gettysburg

“[General Lee was not sure exactly what Gettysburg had meant, nor did General Meade assess the battle’s full significance. Both President Lincoln and President Davis were disappointed. In fact, nobody fully evaluated the events at the time of the [battle]. Only years later did historians, in retrospect, dub it the “high tide of the Confederacy.” However, Colonel Evans’ contemporary view of what the battle meant is scarcely to be improved upon as he closes his diary]:

“Thus ended for the time being the Pennsylvania Campaign. The success of the movement was not as great as was to be desired – Had our wishes been gratified the Yankee Army would have been demolished & Washington captured, but I doubt if either was expected – We remained in the enemy’s territory as long as it was possible to subsist the army there.

Short rations will always compel short campaigns of invasion, unless we could invade where railroad and water communications could be kept up. The general results of the last 40 days however are not at all unsatisfactory.

The Federal army of the Potomac had been forced out of Virginia – The enemy have learned to their cost what invasion is, and have one great battlefield with all its horrors on their own soil to contemplate.

We have given the Federal army a shock at Gettysburg in the loss of over 40,000 killed, wounded & prisoners from which it will not recover. We have drawn from the enemy subsistence stores for the whole army for two months. We have furnished our trains, cavalry & artillery with new & good horses – We have supplied ourselves with quite a few thousand new wagons. The capture of ordnance & ordnance stores have been abundant.

We have possession of the Valley of Virginia with its abundant crop of grain & hay – Our loss during the 40 days will reach 20,000. That of the enemy will not fall short of 60,000.”

(Intrepid Warrior, Clement Anselm Evans, Confederate General from Georgia. Life, Letters and Diaries of the War Years; Robert Grier Stephens, Jr., editor, Morningside House, Inc., 1992, excerpts pp. 238-239)

Jun 28, 2018 - Carnage, Lincoln's Blood Lust, Lincoln's Grand Army, Myth of Saving the Union, Northern Culture Laid Bare, Uncategorized    Comments Off on One Thousand a Minute Casualty Rate

One Thousand a Minute Casualty Rate

Lee had 55,000-some troops with which to oppose Grant’s invading force of 108,000 at Cold Harbor, though the latter consisted of many raw, inexperienced garrison troops unfamiliar with infantry tactics. They were nonetheless thrown into mass assaults against Lee’s entrenched veterans in suicidal assaults, and Grant’s apparent disdain for the lives of his own men was later matched by his refusal of prisoner exchanges which be believed benefited the South. This led to the death of many Northern prisoners from disease and starvation, despite President Davis’ offer of allowing food and medicine for the prisoners.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

One Thousand a Minute Casualty Rate

“Many officers and men in grey were taken by surprise at Grant’s move to interpose his forces between them and the Rebel capital. After the long and brutal contest in The Wilderness, Rebels had expected men in blue to retire for a period. Instead, here they were – apparently headed toward Spotsylvania.

This showed Grant had no intention of retreating. Furthermore, the usual pattern of actions in Washington had not been followed. That meant failure or defeat would not remove [Grant] from command. He would be expected to continue his war of attrition, regardless of losses sustained by his own forces.

Despite [concerns of Northern officers], the general advance ordered by Meade and Grant began about 4:30PM on June 2 [1864]. [General William F.] Smith castigated the movement as providing conclusive proof of the “entire absence of any military plan” among the Federal forces. Despite “a murderous fire,” men in blue managed to reach the edge of the woods, where the second line caught up with them . . . resuming their advance [but] the enemy fire was so heavy that the fell back.

Whether the decision was made by Grant or by Meade, orders soon came for a full frontal assault at 4:30 on the following morning. Smith saw the Rebel positions as being more than merely formidable . . . Generations later, [historian] Jeffrey D. Wert characterized the Rebel works at Cold Harbor in two words: “nearly impregnable.”

Impregnable or not, orders were to take the Confederate works. Diaries and letters reveal that on the night before the scheduled grand assault, large numbers of men in blue wrote their names and addresses on slips of paper and pinned them to their shirts . . . essential if bodies of the slain were to be shipped home to their relatives.

Soon afterward it became generally known that the Federal move at Cold Harbor, whose width is variously estimated at having been from one-half to six miles, lasted less than 10 minutes. During that time, men in blue became casualties at a rate of about 16 per second. Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg is far better known and may have involved more casualties. Yet no other Civil War action approached Cold Harbor in its June 3rd per-minute casualty rate of approximately one thousand men.

Smith dashed off a dispatch to Meade in which he reported the triple repulse of one body of Federals [adding that] there was no hope that they could carry the works in front of them without relief from galling Rebel fire. In reply, he received orders to move forward [and later] an oral command that he lead another assault. “That order I refused to obey,” Smith later confessed.

Because the leader of the XVIII flatly disobeyed his commander, some eight thousand men in blue – more or less – watched as their comrades were once more mowed down. In the melee of battle, it is unlikely that anyone except a handful of loyal aides knew that he had defied Meade. If his action had been known at headquarters and regulations had been followed, his disobedience would have led to a charge of mutiny.”

(Mutiny in the Civil War, Webb Garrison, White Mane Books, 2001, excerpts pp. 134; 136-139)

Recruiting Lincoln’s Sable Arm

Alongside the North’s notorious bounty system for attracting recruits and substitutes to its armies, was Lincoln’s authorization to count Southern black men toward his State troop quotas. The latter allowed Northern men a way to avoid military service and Northern governors a means to avoid being voted out of office. State agents seeking recruits immediately swarmed into Northern-occupied areas of the South beat others to the new source of manpower with which to subjugate the South. One Northern general who held little regard for black people was Sherman, whose adversaries in the North charged him with “an almost criminal dislike of colored people and with frustrating the Negroes cruelly in their attempts to follow the army from the interior.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Recruiting Lincoln’s Sable Arm

“The abuse of the freedmen that had always occurred whenever new troops came into the [Sea] island district was vigorously reenacted [when Sherman’s western troops arrived]. Some soldiers cheated the Negroes by selling them horses they did not own, and others behaved “like barbarians, shooting pigs, chickens and destroying other property.”

The brotherhood of the Western army stopped abruptly . . . at the color line. “Sherman and his men, explained Arthur Sumner to a Northern friend, “are impatient of darkies, and annoyed to see them so pampered, petted, and spoiled, as they have been here.”

Sherman was thought “foolish in his political opinions” by a [Northern] teacher who resented his crusty remark that “Massachusetts and South Carolina had brought on the war, and that he should like to see them cut off from the rest of the continent, and hauled out to sea together.”

On January 12, 1864, [Secretary of War Edwin M.] Stanton . . . met twenty Negro leaders at Sherman’s headquarters [in Savanna] and asked their opinion on a dozen problems involving their welfare. They advised Stanton that the State recruiters should be promptly withdrawn from the district, sagely pointing out that Negro soldiers recruited in this system merely served to replace Northern white men who would otherwise be drafted to fill State quotas.

They said they well knew, that their ministers could do a better job of persuading young men to enlist than could mercenary bounty agents.

Coming up to Beaufort on a steamer with Stanton, [General Rufus Saxton] asked most particularly whether the freedmen would be maintained in possession [of property], and the Secretary had most heartily reassured him.

On December 30, 1864, he had written a bitter letter to Stanton, reviewing the long series of frustrations he had endured in his Sea Island work. Over and over he had been the unwitting agent of the erection of false hopes among the freedmen.

In the matter of recruiting he had assured the people that no man would be taken against his will, but he had been undone by General [David] Hunter in the first place, by General Quincy Gillmore in the second place, and at last by General John G. Foster, who in 1864 resumed wholesale recruiting “of every able-bodied [black] male in the department.”

The atrocious impressment of boys of fourteen and responsible men with large dependent families, and the shooting down of Negroes who resisted, were all common occurrences.

The Negroes who were enlisted were promised the same pay as other soldiers. They had received it for a time, “but at length it was reduced, and they received but little more than one-half what was promised.”

(Rehearsal for Reconstruction, the Port Royal Experiment, Willie Lee Rose, Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1964, excerpts pp. 322-329)

Jun 22, 2018 - Bounties for Patriots, Lincoln's Grand Army, Lincoln's Patriots, Newspapers, Northern Culture Laid Bare    Comments Off on Grover Finds a Substitute

Grover Finds a Substitute

Grover Cleveland at age twenty-five had been elected to Buffalo’s Second Ward; at twenty-seven he was appointed assistant district attorney of Erie County (Buffalo) and prepped for a long career in New York machine politics. As Lincoln targeted Democrats in New York with his conscription act of March 1, 1863, Cleveland was swept up in it — but already had a substitute to serve in his stead.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Grover Finds a Substitute

“[Said an editorial in the Buffalo Courier]: “Mr. Cleveland is one of the most promising young members of the bar, is a thoroughly read lawyer, and possesses talent of a high order.”

[Cleveland’s job of district attorney] paid half what he earned in private practice . . . should Grover be conscripted was an unthinkable prospect and unanswerable question – until Abraham Lincoln took up a pen to sign into law the Conscription Act of March 3, 1863.

Its provisions allowed draft eligible men to buy their way out of serving by paying $300 for “commutation,” or by furnishing a substitute. When the conscription procedure began with the drawings of names in May, Grover’s was chosen on the first day.

But he was ready: He had found a substitute in the person of a Great Lakes seaman named George Brinske, also known as Benninsky. Had Grover wished, as assistant district attorney he could have found an almost limitless roster of substitutes among discharged convicts or friendless men accused of a crime who would have gladly chosen army life over imprisonment.

Satisfied with the financial arrangement offered him ($150), Benninsky was sworn into the army at Fort Porter on July 6, 1863. Serving with the Seventy-sixth New York Regiment on the Rappahannock River in Virginia, he injured his back (not in combat) and served as an orderly in a military hospital in Washington, DC, for the remainder of the war.

When another local election loomed in 1865, [Grover] offered himself to Buffalo voters as the Democratic candidate for Erie County district attorney. His declaration has promptly hailed by the [Buffalo] Courier . . . “he is a young man . . . who, by his unaided exertions, has gained a high position at the bar, and whose character is above reproach.”

(An Honest President: the Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland, H. Paul Jeffers, HarperCollins, 2000, excerpts pp. 28- 31)

Martial Law in Maryland

As Lincoln prepared his invasion of the South after Fort Sumter, he responded to public outcry in Maryland with illegally suspending the right of habeas corpus, increasingly severe repression, and monitoring elections. The author below writes that Lincoln’s “clumsy response is better explained by psychological impulse than by political imperative,” as he could not abide having dissident Maryland citizens waving Southern banners so close to his political seat.

Bernhard Thuersam  www.Circa1865.org

 

Martial Law in Maryland

“[General Winfield] Scott . . . [issued the order] for the arrest of Baltimore’s city marshal, George P. Kane, and the entire board of police commissioners – all of whom [were] implicated in the imagined [Maryland secession] plot.

So it was that at an early hour on June 27, 1861, a detachment of troops marched through Baltimore’s streets . . . [to] Marshal Kane’s home. Within the hour Kane arrived at Fort McHenry . . . When the sun rose over the Eastern Shore on July 1, all four commissioners lay in the dank dungeon of Fort McHenry . . . Soldiers by the hundreds strode Baltimore’s streets with their bayonets fixed that morning, and citizens who dared to express disagreement with their government felt the teeth of martial law.

The United States Congress convened three days after the arrest of the commissioners and questioned the seemingly highhanded action taken against public officials of a loyal State. Knowing that Lincoln had already ignored judicial demands in such matters, the police commissioners bypassed the legal system to petition their congressional representative for relief, and twenty days into its session the House of Representatives adopted resolution requesting [Lincoln] to provide grounds and evidence for the arrests.

Lincoln declined to cooperate. Citing what would become the favorite excuse of future administrations seeking to invoke a dubious prerogative, he informed the elected representatives of the people that it was “incompatible with the public interest at this time” to release that information.

Some of the commissioners remained in confinement for months, and Marshal Kane was not released until November of 1862, but for the rest of the war and thereafter, revealing the reason for their detention remained incompatible with the public interest.”

(Mr. Lincoln Goes to War, William Marvel, Houghton Mifflin, 2006, excerpts pp. 104-105)

Bungling and Unprincipled Self-Seeking

As the invading Northern armies moved South, huge quantities of cotton were found and Yankee cotton-hunger “was fierce and insatiable.” Union officers could make a quick fortune seizing bales and shipping them northward to New England mills, the same ones who had themselves perpetuated slavery with dependence on Southern cotton.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org

 

Bungling and Unprincipled Self-Seeking

“The opening of the full length of the Mississippi by the capture of Vicksburg and Port Hudson augmented the illicit traffic from all river towns into the Confederacy. General [Stephen A.] Hurlbut, himself probably corrupt and certainly drunken, explained to his superiors [in Washington] the impossibility of imposing controls. “A perpetual flood of fraud, false-swearing, and contraband goods runs through the city,” he wrote. Even the pickets are bribed.

[US] Treasury agents were really no more culpable than Army officers, and old cotton-brokers no worse than Chicago commission-men; Yankees and foreigners could be equally unscrupulous.

Ben Butler, who had held command [at New Orleans] in 1862, believed in generous trade policies, and one recipient of his generosity was his brother, Andrew Jackson Butler. The operations of both the Butlers became highly complicated . . . When military expeditions were sent out ostensibly for the chastisement of guerillas, but with cotton also in view, and shallow-draft steamers began to scour the bayous with the same objectives, the situation became still more tangled.

[Secretary of the Treasury Salmon] Chase’s special agent, George S. Denison . . . found that a great deal of contraband material was being shipped to the Confederates in exchange for cotton, and that [Northern] military men of high rank who lent their cooperation were reaping large harvests.

It was clear, he wrote Chase, that Ben Butler “knows everything, controls everything, and should be held responsible for everything.”

On the Red River in the spring of 1864, the carnival of trade and speculation reached its height for a single campaign. General [Nathanial P.] Banks, who also had to carry the ignominy of defeat, suffered censure . . . Officer after officer, in testimony that runs for pages despite sharp questions put by Congressmen, charged that the Navy seized wagons and mules right and left, ranging far into the interior away from the Red River and branding cotton “C.S.A.” so that they with impunity then add “U.S.N.”

Porter went on to attack the Army, writing: “General Banks had come up in the steamer Black Hawk, loaded with cotton speculators, bagging, roping, champagne, and ice. The whole affair was cotton speculation . . .”

At times, in the aftermath of the Red River campaign, it seems that every participant was misrepresenting everyone else. The only definite certainty is that it was a time of bungling, lying, chicanery, corruption, and unprincipled self-seeking, all to the injury of the [Northern] war effort.”

 

(The War for the Union: the Organized War 1863-1864, Volume III, Allan Nevins, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971, excerpts pp. 355-361)

 

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