Browsing "Lincoln’s Grand Army"

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)

 

 

The Former Colony Becomes Colonialist

The American commander in the Philippines in 1898 was Gen. Thomas Anderson, a Northern lieutenant-colonel in the War Between the States, who knew firsthand about invasion and thwarting independence movements. In a twist of irony, Sen. George Hoar of Massachusetts, a radical Republican who was instrumental in subjugating the American South thirty-some years earlier, became outspoken in 1898 regarding US military force creating vassal states.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Former Colony Becomes Colonialist

“At the Paris Peace Conference of December 1898, where the terms of final surrender were fixed, Spain tried to retain Puerto Rico, arguing that the United States had never before challenged its sovereignty there. President McKinley rejected [this] . . . and said he decided that Puerto Rico was “to become the territory of the United States.” The Spanish, defeated and weak, had no choice but to accept.

No American alive in 1898 could have had any doubt about why the United States had gone to war with Spain. The conflict was fought to resolve a single question: Who would control Cuba? [But] as a result of Commodore Dewey’s victory at Manila, the United States suddenly exercised power over [the Philippines].

At first, McKinley seemed to want only enough territory in the Philippines to build a naval base at Manila. Then he considered the idea of granting the islands independence . . . [though] “One night late, it came to me this way.” He said. “there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and educate the Filipinos and uplift them and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could for them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died.”

What is certain is that McKinley, in the words of one historian, “knew the Filipinos not at all, and would misjudge their response with tragic persistence.” He himself admitted that when he heard news of Dewey’s victory at Manila, he “could not have told where those darned islands were within two thousand miles.” His fervor to “Christianize” the Filipinos, most of whom were already practicing Catholics, suggested his ignorance of conditions on the islands.

He certainly had no idea that they were in the throes of the first anticolonial revolution in the modern history of Asia. “The episode marked a pivotal point in the American experience,” Stanly Karnow wrote in his history of the Philippines. “For the first time, US soldiers fought overseas. And, for the first time, America was to acquire foreign territory beyond its shores – the former colony itself becoming colonialist.”

On May 1, 1898 . . . Dewey welcomed the Filipino guerilla leader Emilio Aguinaldo aboard his flagship, the Olympia. Their versions of what transpired are contradictory. Aguinaldo said they agreed to fight the Spanish together and then establish an independent Republic of the Philippines. Dewey swore that he made no such commitment. Whatever the truth, when Aguinaldo declared the independence of the Philippine, on June 12, neither Dewey or any other representative of the United States turned up at the ceremony.

General Thomas Anderson . . . was the first commander of American troops in the Philippines, sought to reassure them “I desire to have amicable relations with you,” he wrote Aguinaldo on July 4, “and to have you and your people cooperate with us in military operations against the Spanish forces.”

On December 21, [1898], McKinley issued an “executive letter” proclaiming American sovereignty over the Philippines. Rebels there were already proceeding along their own path. They had elected a constituent assembly that produced a constitution, and under its provisions the Republic of the Philippines was proclaimed on January 23, 1899. Twelve days later, this new nation declared war against the United States forces on the islands.

McKinley took no notice. To him, the Filipinos were what the historian Richard Welch called “a disorganized and helpless people.” Senator George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts warned that [this oppression] would turn the United States into “a vulgar, commonplace empire founded upon physical force, controlling subject races and vassal states, in which one class must forever rule and the other classes must forever obey.”

(Overthrow, America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, Stephen Kinzer, Times Books, 2006, pp. 46-49)

Sherman’s War of Terror

Despite claiming malice toward none and charity for all, the following is what Abraham Lincoln authorized and unleashed upon the American South. Young Jane Dickinson Cowan lived in Sherman’s path near Laurinburg, North Carolina, and later wrote: “My mother had a spoon in which she was mixing medicine for her sick children snatched from her, and she was obliged to mix it in her hand and put it into their mouths with her finger. They pulled the rings from her fingers as she was holding in her lap, and kicked the cradle in which the other one was lying, with the remark, “That one is dead already.”

The unnecessary killing of the animals was most assuredly done to starve the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Sherman’s War of Terror

“Like most Northerners, William T. Sherman profoundly misunderstood Southern “Unionism.” Upon entering North Carolina he issued an order to Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick that the cavalry chief “deal as moderately, and fairly by North Carolinians as possible, and fan the flame of discord already subsisting between them and their proud cousins of South Carolina.

Sherman’s admonition to deal “moderately” was generally ignored, and he must have quickly realized that these people were not about to embrace his Union. “Poor North Carolina will have a hard time,” the general wrote privately after a month in the State, “for we sweep the country like a swarm of locusts. Thousands of people may perish, but they now realize that war means something else than vain glory and boasting.”

Monroe and Wadesboro were among the first to “have a hard time” at the hands of Kilpatrick’s troopers. Episcopal bishop of North Carolina, Thomas Atkinson, was threatened with death if he did not give up his watch, horse and possessions. Another Anson County man was robbed of his watch and money, and the next band of Federals to arrive at his home demanded the very same items [and] killed him when he could not produce them.

At a nearby home Yankees chopped furniture to pieces with an axe and scattered feathers from pillows on a bedroom floor and then poured buckets of molasses and stirred thoroughly. Ten wagons filled with unlucky refugees were overtaken and their possessions captured.

Anson County native Esther Alden grieved about the suffering of her neighbors as well over what the Yankees did to the animals:

“It is like some horrid nightmare. When I shut my eyes I see nothing but creatures and human beings in agony. The poor suffering horses! Some fortunately dead and out of their misery, others groaning in death pains, some with disabled limbs freely hobbling about to glean a blade of grass; the cows and oxen slaughtered and left to rot! I counted eight beautiful calves lying dead in one pen; many times we saw two or three lying dead side by side!”

In Fayetteville the Yankees destroyed one thousand horses and mules they had no use for. There were two killing grounds: one a field on the bank of the Cape Fear River, the other a corral in town. It took hours to kill them all. Trying to run, some of the terrified animals plunged into the river. Most were left where they fell, with no effort made by the Federals to dispose of the carcasses as the troops abandoned the town.

A dozen miles outside Fayetteville, at the home of Duncan Murchison, Kilpatrick’s cavalrymen charged into the bedroom of a small girl desperately sick with typhoid. They were looking for items to steal but found nothing . . . Seventy year-old Mr. Murchison was dragged to the swamp and assaulted while vandals destroyed furniture, slashed family portraits, and poured molasses into the piano. The little girl died while the troopers were still in her home. Federal horses left a little uneaten corn on the ground, for that was all the family had to live on after the invaders moved on.”

(War Crimes Against Southern Civilians, Walter Brian Cisco, Pelican Publishing Company, 2007, pp. 163-165)

Lincoln’s Youthful Mercenaries

The Northern army consisted mostly of younger men more drawn by the money rather than saving the territorial Union.  Author Ella Lonn writes that “it was no uncommon thing to find bounties of $1200 to $1500 offered for three year recruits; [and] the average sum paid to a recruit in an Illinois district once rose to $1,055.95.” The average Southern soldier fought with his home and family to his back, little food and for near-worthless money. 

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln’s Youthful Mercenaries

“The Grand Army of the Republic [veterans’] organization was founded by Dr. Stephenson, in Decatur, Illinois in 1866.  The final encampment was in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1949. The number of men, by age, who served the Union (from the Adjutant General’s report):

Age 15 and under: 104,987; Age 16 and under: 231,051; Age 17 and under: 844,891;

Age 18 and under: 1,151,438; Age 21 and under: 2,159,798; Age 22 and over: 618,511;

Age 25 and over: 46,626; Age 44 and over: 16,071.

Total of [men in Northern service:] 2,778,304.”  

(Civil War Union Monuments, Baruch and Beckman, Daughters of Union Veterans, 1978, page 183)

 

If Southerners Had Behaved Themselves . . .

One of the myths of the Northern invasion of the American South is that Sherman did not wreak the destruction on North Carolina as he and his vandals had in South Carolina. Homes in the Old North State were looted indiscriminately and livestock shot to deny noncombatants food for themselves and their children.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

If Southerners Had Behaved Themselves . . .

. . . [T]he Yankees came by the hundreds and destroyed everything that we possessed — every living thing. After they had taken everything out of the house—our clothes, shoes, hats, and even my children’s clothes — my husband was made to take off his boots which a yankee tried on. The shoes would not fit, so the soldier cut them to pieces. They even destroyed the medicine we had.

In the cellar, they took six barrels of lard, honey and preserves — and what they did not want, they let the Negroes come in and take. They took 16 horses, one mule, all of the oxen, every cow, every plough, even the hoes, and four vehicles. The soldiers filled them with meat and pulled them to camp which was not far from our home. They would kill the hogs in the fields, cut them in halves with the hair on. Not a turkey, duck or chicken was left.

My mother in law . . . was very old and frail and in bed. They went in her bedroom and cursed her. They took all our books and threw them in the woods. I had my silver and jewelry buried in the swamp for two months.

We went to Faison Depot and bought an old horse that we cleaned up, fed and dosed, but which died after a week’s care. Then the boys went again and bought an ox. They made something like a plough which they used to finish the crop with. Our knives were pieces of hoop iron sharpened, and our forks were made of cane — but it was enough for the little we had to eat.

All of which I have written was the last year and month of the sad, sad war (March and April, 1865). It is as fresh in my memory and all its horrors as if it were just a few weeks ago. It will never be erased from my memory as long as life shall last.

I do not and cannot with truth say I have forgotten or that I have forgiven them. They destroyed what they could of the new house and took every key and put them in the turpentine boxes. Such disappointment cannot be imagined. My children would cry for bread, but there was none. A yankee took a piece out of his bag and bit it, and said: “If you had behaved yourselves this would not have happened.”

(Story in Sampson Independent, February 1960; The Heritage of Sampson County (NC), Volume I, Oscar Bizzell, editor, pp. 253-254)

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