Browsing "Lincoln’s Grand Army"

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)

Lincoln’s Soldier Vote

New York Governor Horatio Seymour vetoed the Republican effort to enable soldiers absent in the field to vote, believing that this would open the door to vote fraud and manipulation by politically-appointed officers. New York Secretary of State Chauncey Depew, a Republican, writes of Lincoln’s assistance to locate New York’s soldiers and delivered Republican ballots to them via American Express – though Democratic ballots were lost, and agents sent by the Democratic governor were arrested by Lincoln’s political machine.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln’s Soldier Vote

“The secretaryship of the State of New York is a very delightful office. Its varied duties are agreeable, and the incumbent is brought in close contact with the State administration, the legislature and the people.

In view of the approaching presidential election, the [New York] legislature passed a law, which was signed by the governor, providing machinery for the soldiers’ vote. New York had at that time between three and four hundred thousand soldiers in the field, who were scattered in companies, regiments, brigades, and divisions all over the South.

This law made it the duty of the secretary of state to provide ballots, to see that they reached every unit of a company, to gather the votes and transmit them to the home of each soldier. The State government had no machinery by which this work could be done.

I then sent for old [bankrupt freight and mail operator] John Butterfield [and] he at once organized what was practically an express company . . . for the sole purpose of distributing the ballots and gathering the soldiers’ votes.

Of course, the first thing was to find out where the New York troops were, and for that purpose I went to Washington, remaining there for several months before the War Department would give me the information. The interviews were brief and disagreeable, and the secretary of war very brusque.

[I then] met Elihu B. Washburne, who was a congressman from Illinois and an intimate friend of the president. I told him my story [and that] “I must report to the people of New York that the provision for the soldiers’ voting cannot be carried out because the administration refuses to give information where the New York soldiers are located.”

“Why,” said Mr. Washburne, “that would beat Mr. Lincoln. You don’t know him . . . he is also the keenest politician alive. If it could be done no other way, the president would take a carpet-bag and go around and collect those votes himself. I will go at once and see the president.”

In about an hour a staff officer stepped up to me . . . “The Secretary of War wishes to see you at once, he said.” [The secretary of war] gave a preemptory order to one of his staff that I should receive the documents in time for me to leave Washington on the midnight train.

The magical transformation was the result of a personal visit of President Lincoln to the secretary of war. Mr. Lincoln carried the State of New York by a majority of only 6,749, and it was the soldiers’ vote that gave him the Empire State.”

(My Memories of Eighty Years, Chauncey M. Depew, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1924, pp. 52-55)

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)

Heathen Vandals Sack St. Paul’s Church

The army of the Confederacy had many German soldiers serving in its ranks, and in particular, Captain Christian Cornehlson’s German Volunteers of Wilmington, North Carolina. This unit, eventually comprising 102 officers and men, were all German-born except for 30. The non-German-born 30 included men of German parentage from other European countries. The wives of these soldiers served with Mrs. Derosset’s Soldiers’ Aid Society, making uniforms, powder bags and bandages – and attending the wounded.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Heathen Vandals Sack St. Paul’s Church

“During the decade 1840 to 1850 quite a large number of German settlers came to Wilmington, N.C., and within the next few years the German population of the city had become sufficiently numerous that they were able to organize themselves into a military company under the name of “The German Volunteers.” Fifty-seven officers and men comprised the company.

During the War Between the States these German volunteers, who in the good old days before the war reflected so much credit upon themselves and upon our city, were among the first to volunteer for the defense of the State, and, and Company A of the Eighteenth North Carolina Regiment, they “bore a record of which one might be proud.”

The Lutheran Synod of North Carolina, learning of the presence of a considerable population of German people in Wilmington, decided that Wilmington might be a fruitful field for missionary activity. With enough Germans to organize a military company of their own, there should be enough Lutherans among them to organize a church.

[The] organization of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wilmington, N.C., was effected on Monday, May 31, 1858 [and] Rev. John H. Mengert [of Evansville, Indiana] accepted the call to the field in Wilmington, moving with his family on December 23, 1858.

[The intense sectionalism of 1860 erupted into war] and the effect of this great cataclysm upon the young congregation was most distressing and almost disastrous. When at last the war neared its close and the victorious forces from the North occupied Wilmington, St. Paul’s church edifice was used for military purposes, even the troops’ horses being stabled therein.

Great damage was done to the building and grounds; joists, pews and reading desk were used as fuel in the soldiers’ camp fires, while the beautiful steeple, blackened by smoke, then resembled a huge chimney. With little regard for the sacred character of the building, the soldiers disfigured the inside walls with all sorts of inscriptions.”

(History of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wilmington, North Carolina, 1858-1958, Jackson & Bell Company, 1958, pp. 5-6, 12-13)

Pennsylvanian Happy as a Private

The North’s version of the war includes the myth of fighting to free the black man and the attendant stories of equality. More often than not, the Northern troops had little use for the Negro other than menial laborers and guards; officers for the colored troops were normally found only among radical abolitionist officers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Pennsylvanian Happy as a Private

“On August 16, 1862, in the battle of Deep River Run, Virginia, Company F of the 85th Pennsylvania assaulted and drove the Confederates from their entrenchments, and Ed Leonard, of said company, had fired at the retreating color bearer, who was unknown to him.

When his gun was empty, he ordered the ensign to halt, which he refused to do. He threw his gun at him thinking he would knock him down with it;  but he was just far enough away for the gun to turn once, and the bayonet went through the body of the color bearer, killing him.

Leonard picked up the flagstaff, tore the flag from it, and concealed it about his person, intending to send it home; but it was discovered and he was required to turn it into headquarters. For this act of bravery Leonard was commissioned a captain. When he was assigned to his command, he found it was a Negro company; he returned the commission and went back to his company as a private.”

“Wouldn’t Command Negroes in Service,” W.T. Rogers, Knoxville, Tennessee; Confederate Veteran Magazine, May 1912, page 213)

Yankee’s Issued Matches

The hatred of the North engendered by Sherman’s devastation in Georgia and the Carolina’s would not easily subside. In 1898 President William McKinley, himself a Northern major during the war, visited Atlanta in December 1898 for a Peace Jubilee. McKinley wore a Confederate badge on his lapel and declared in an address to the Georgia legislature that “Confederate graves were “graves of honor” and it was the duty of the United States government to keep them green.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Yankee’s Issued Matches

“When word [of Sherman’s invasion of South Carolina] reached the plantations of the Low County, terror bordering on panic swept the towns and countryside . . . and with only old men, women, children and a few slaves who had not deserted left on the lands, [all] lay vulnerable before the invaders.

Some of the families moved farther north, ostensibly out of Sherman’s path. Three families who lived in the area south of Allendale fled to the plantation of Dr. Benjamin William Lawton. An occupied house was less subject to being burn; deserted houses, left vacant, were usually torched.

But the three families who set up housekeeping in the basement of Dr. Lawton’s house in Allendale were no safer than they might have been in their own homes. Sherman’s forces routed out the families, and set fire to the house of that signer of the Ordinance of Secession, Dr. Benjamin W. Lawton. All Lawton’s possessions dissolved in flames.

Lawton’s wife, Josephine, was warned [of this] and hastily took her children and house servants to Gaffney, South Carolina, where they were given haven by friends . . . There Josephine’s seventh child was born. In early 1865 another Lawton, Dr. James Stoney . . . returned [from Georgia] to find his house in ashes.

At least one Lawton home escaped destruction by fire. Major-General High Judson Kilpatrick . . . ordered his men to keep their issue of matches in their pockets while he occupied Rose Lawn, the home of Reverend and Mrs. Joseph A. Lawton in Allendale, as his headquarters during the days of battle and destruction in the area.

With his mistress said to have been ensconced in a large front bedroom – she accompanied [Kilpatrick] from one headquarters to another in his sweep from Savannah to Columbia – he delegated a small back room to the elderly owners. To the godly couple who had to stand by while the woman of “ill-repute” occupied their bedchamber, this must surely have added basest insult to dastardly injury.

[South Carolina] lay in ruins, and the Southern cities of Richmond, Atlanta, Charleston and Columbia were blackened rubble. Sherman’s men under [Kilpatrick] had used their issues of matches to fire countless towns, villages, plantations, farms, and railroads; open fields and pine forests were reduced to shambles.”

(Kith and Kin, A Portrait of a Southern Family, 1630-1934, Carolyn L. Harrell, pp. 209-212)

Minnesotans for Lincoln’s Army

Immediately after Fort Sumter surrendered, Governor Alexander Ramsey “tender[ed] to Secretary of War Simon Cameron 1,000 men from Minnesota “to defend the Government.” This was the first State to offer men to Lincoln’s regime, though Minnesota’s principal Democratic newspaper pointed out that it was the only Northern State which demanded federal money before troops were released to Lincoln.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Minnesotans for Lincoln’s Army

“Ramsey’s patriotic tender [of April 14] was not as magnanimous as it appeared at first glance. In the written tender he commented that since the Minnesota legislature was not in session [until early 1862], he felt justified in requesting the Federal government to provide the “reasonable expenses” involved in readying the men for service.

On the following day, April 15, Lincoln issues a call for 75,000 militiamen to serve for three months . . . His authority was an act of Congress passed in 1795. Included in the act were provisions that no militiaman could be compelled to serve longer than three months; nor could the militia as a whole be continued on active duty thirty days after the commencement of the next session of Congress.

The response of the [Minnesota] volunteer militia was less than gratifying [to the Governor]. The Clearwater Guards held a meeting on April 22. In reply to the query “Will the Guard volunteer its services . . . for a term of three months . . .” the vote was twenty yeas and twenty three nays; eleven members were absent. Similarly, the volunteer militia company near St. Cloud, a German unit, decided against being activated. The members argued that if both they and the regular army troops who had been guarding the frontier left the State, there would be no protection for the settlers from Indian raids.

The companies from Chatfield, Mankato, and New Ulm were also conspicuously absent later at St. Paul. The remaining three companies: the Minnesota Pioneer guard from St. Paul, the St. Anthony Zouaves, and the Stillwater guard, were likewise reluctant to enlist for three months.

The Minnesota Pioneer Guard was the oldest, best known, and at the time thought to be the best trained of the three. Social exclusiveness rather than military efficiency was reflected by the qualifications for membership. As a bona fide member of the Pioneer Guard the recruit could look forward to active participation in 4th of July celebrations, steamboat excursions . . ., and other festive doings. Military activities, while of some significance, were not the primary concern of the company.

Cameron’s [new] directive was determined by a proclamation by Lincoln on May 3 [1861] which called for 42,034 volunteers to serve for three years unless discharged at an earlier date. Lincoln had no authority to issue an executive order requiring men to serve as volunteers for three years. In illegally doing so, he indicated that Congressional approval would be asked for as soon as possible.

Many of the men were hesitant to sign up for the extended term. Few were of the opinion that the war would be a short one. They did not relish the thought of continuing their present mode of living for the next three years. Approximately 600 of the original three-month men signed up for the three-year tour of duty. A total of 345 declined. No company re-enlisted as a single unit. Whether undue pressure was exerted upon the men is difficult to determine.

[A] letter from a member of the Wabasha company to [Lt. Governor Ignatius] Donnelly stated that: “The officers went to work to get the consent of the men. The Col. Gets drunk – rolls out half a dozen kegs of beer, issues orders that clothing shall not be given to those who will not enlist. Those who don’t enlist will be discharged and disgraced . . .”

In addition to the enlistment problem . . . Mage Eustis of Minneapolis and John Lamb of St. Paul negotiated a contract to provide rations for the regiment at a rate of fifty cents per man per day. The first meal on April 29 . . . was satisfactory. Complaining commenced with the breakfast the following morning and eventually resulted in the so-called “bad beef riots.” The men pelted the cooks and the cookhouse with plates along with their contents consisting mainly of foul-smelling beef.”

(The First Minnesota, John Quinn Imholte, Ross and Haines, 1963, excerpts, pp. 6-10; 19-22)

Yankee Chaplain Caught Looting

The plantation of Josiah Collins, Somerset Place, on Lake Phelps had been looted by invading Northerners who occupied northeastern North Carolina. After Plymouth, North Carolina was liberated by General Robert F. Hoke in April 1864, the misdeeds of the invader came to light.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Yankee Chaplain Caught Looting

“Many years after the war, Dr. Joseph G.D. Hamilton happened to run across Hoke and his son-in-law at a restaurant in Raleigh. As the men sat together on the porch before dinner, Hoke rested quietly, gazing off in the distance.

In a tone designed not to arouse the reticent old soldier, Hamilton began to relate a newspaper story about an event that had occurred after the surrender of Plymouth. A Federal chaplain who had been denied officer’s privileges and “his” library called on Hoke, who responded favorably to his pleas.

After the chaplain left, the general noticed two large wooden boxes. When he enquired about the contents, a soldier responded, “They are the books of that Yankee chaplain.”

Hoke noticed that the top of one of the boxes was broken, so he removed a book. It bore the bookplate of Josiah Collins of nearby Somerset Place in Washington County. When the boxes were torn open, it was seen that all the books were likewise marked.

The chaplain was immediately summoned to Hoke’s headquarters, where the general dressed him down and stripped him of all privileges.”

(General Robert F. Hoke, Lee’s Modest General, Daniel W. Barefoot, John F. Blair, 1996, page 153)

 

 

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