Browsing "Lincoln’s Grand Army"

The War Against North Carolina Civilians

After Sherman’s 65,000-man army entered North Carolina in early March, 1865, eighteen-year-old Janie Smith wrote friend Janie Robeson of nearby Bladen County and described the invasion of her home in Lebanon, North Carolina. This was near the battle of Averasboro, where Lt. Gen. William Hardee’s 10,000 man army former garrison troops stopped the battle-hardened veterans of Sherman’s left wing. All of Janie’s brothers were in Confederate service.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The War Against North Carolina Civilians

“Where home used to be. April 12, 1865:

Your precious letter, my dear Janie, was received night before last, and the pleasure that it afforded me, and indeed the whole family, I leave for you to imagine, [and I am thankful] when I hear that my friends are left with the necessities of life, and unpolluted by the touch of Sherman’s Hell-hounds.

My experience since we parted has indeed been sad . . . Our own army came first and enjoyed the cream of the country and left but little for the enemy . . . [and] such an army of patriots fighting for their hearthstones is not to be conquered by such fiends incarnate as fill the ranks of Sherman’s army. Our political sky does seem darkened with a fearful cloud, but when compared with the situation of our fore-fathers, I can but take courage.

[At] about four o’clock the Yankees came charging, yelling and howling. They just knocked down all such like mad cattle. Right into the house, breaking open bureau drawers of all kinds faster than I could unlock. They cursed us for having hid everything and made bold threats if certain things were not brought to light, but all to no effect. They took Pa’s hat and stuck him pretty badly with a bayonet to make him disclose something . . . The Negroes are bitterly prejudiced to his minions. They were treated, if possible, worse than the white people, all their provisions taken and their clothes destroyed and some carried off.

They left no living thing in Smithville but the people. One old hen played sick and thus saved her neck, but lost all of her children. The Yankees would run all over the yard to catch the little things to squeeze to death.

Every nook and corner of the premises was searched and the things that they didn’t use were burned or torn into strings. No house but the blacksmith shop was burned, but into the flames they threw every tool, plow, etc., that was on the place. The battlefield does not compare with [the Yankees] in point of stench.

I don’t believe they have been washed since the day they were born. I was too angry to eat or sleep . . . Gen. Slocum with two other hyenas of his rank, rode up with his body-guard and introduced themselves with great pomp, but I never noticed them at all.

Sis Susan was sick in bed and they searched the very pillows that she was lying on, and keeping up such a noise, tearing up and breaking to pieces, that the Generals couldn’t hear themselves talk, but not a time did they try to prevent it. They got all of my stockings and some of our collars and handkerchiefs. If I ever see a Yankee woman, I intend to whip her and take the clothes off her very back.”

(Janie Smith’s Letter (excerpts), Mrs. Thomas H. Webb Collection, NC Division of Archives & History)

Treason in Wartime North Carolina

The traitors and misfits who terrorized North Carolinians during the war, called “Buffaloes,” were a by-product of the Northern invader. General Pickett and Hoke, during their attempts to liberate northeastern North Carolina in 1863-64, dealt severely with local men who aided and abetted the enemy. The Fort Branch mentioned below, was named in honor of Brigadier-General Lawrence O’Bryan Branch, a native of nearby Enfield, NC who was killed in action at Sharpsburg in mid-1862.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Treason in Wartime North Carolina

“The Tenth North Carolina Regiment was encamped near Fort Branch (about five miles east of Hamilton on the Roanoke River), and was awaiting the Federals, in December 1864. A force of Federals . . . were known to be advancing from Plymouth, reaching the vicinity of Fort Branch in the night of December 11.

“The enemy, piloted by some buffaloes (traitors) crossed the creek below (the east) and took our troops at the bridge in the rear. We had turned off from the main road from Tarboro to Williamston in order to come in by Hamilton to reinforce from the rear our troops at Butler’s Bridge.”

The term buffaloes, commonly referred to renegade bands in eastern North Carolina, composed of armed Negroes, native Union bushwhackers, and criminally-intentioned local misfits. They preyed on the prosperous and poor alike, relying on brutality for their success.”

(A Tarheel Confederate and His Family, Robert Garrison Elliott, RGE Publications, 1989, excerpts, pp. 51; 60)

 

Resistance Fighters Against the Industrial Machine

William B. Elliott was a resident of Pasquotank County in northeastern North Carolina who enlisted at the age of 20, on May 4th, 1861. Captured by enemy forces at Roanoke Island in early 1862, he was exchanged in August of that year. William joined the small local resistance force fighting against enemy troops from New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and local black men seized for Northern service.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Resistance Fighters Against the Industrial Machine

“After William was exchanged in August, 1862, he renewed former friendships. While doing so, he learned of another resistance unit being formed in adjacent, and occupied, Camden County. Residents of counties bordering on the northern shores of Albemarle Sound, had been living under the shadow of Union occupation since mid-summer of 1861. In Camden County, there was Captain Willis B. Sanderlin, who commanded on of these shadowy partisan units.

In the middle of May [1863], the occupation forces again felt the sting from the valiant guerilla defenders [when the] Union steamers, Emily and Arrow, were captured by partisans at Currituck Sound, on May 15, 1863.

Every army of occupation has attempted to suppress civilians by acts of depredation. Not only were crops, livestock, and personal property confiscated, but also Federal wrath was directed at civilians themselves. [A North Carolina House of Representatives committee investigated enemy outrages and noted the depredations] of Brig. General Edward A. Wild, commanding all Negro soldiers, who occupied Camden and Pasquotank counties.

A citizen, Daniel Bright, was hung, by the roadside just north of Elizabeth City. Bright was a former soldier of the Sixty-second Georgia Regiment, with authority of Governor Vance to raise a company in Pasquotank for local defense. [The partisans] captured two of General Wild’s Negro soldiers . . . [and one], was hung as reprisal for the hanging of Daniel Bright.

Federal retaliation was directed against Mrs. Elizabeth Weeks, wife of Private Pender Weeks, and Mrs. Phoebe Munden, wife of Lt. W.J. Munden, of Captain John T. Elliott’s company. Both were taken hostage, abused, humiliated, and physically mistreated in public, then taken to Norfolk for imprisonment.

Dwellings in both counties were burned [by the enemy] . . . An aged gentleman of 70 years, Gregory, was taken hostage, all his property burned, and while a prisoner he suffered a seizure . . . endured great pain, dying a few days later.

Meager Confederate defensive forces, coupled with insufficient arms and provisions, matched against the Union industrial machine, would, had the truth been known, portend the future.

As October and November [1863] passed, all Union activity increased [and] Federal units scoured the countryside in search of horses, carts, fuel, forage, and contrabands. The Federals were becoming increasingly outraged for their inability to exterminate the guerillas.

[An official report stated that] ”General Benjamin Butler intends to exterminate all guerillas east of . . . Chowan River . . . and will use every means . . . to do so.” The General well emphasized the Union resolve, with warning for residents to: “give information against them (the guerillas) to the military . . . by assisting them (the guerillas) on their way with food and . . . transportation, you can save yourselves . . . the necessity of visitations from the Negro troops.”

(A Tarheel Confederate and His Family, Robert Garrison Elliott, RGE Publications, 1989, excerpts, pp. 14-26; 32)

 

Total War Comes to France

Otto von Bismarck saw Lincoln’s war as one of unification and centralization, as he had accomplished with the German states; Bismarck also promoted the purchase of US government bonds to support Lincoln’s war. In 1870, the Northern general who visited total war on the Shenandoah Valley and its people was an official observer of Bismarck’s war on France, and undoubtedly influenced the war against civilians. The “francs-tireurs” noted below were French partisans who were shot if caught.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Total War Comes to France

“Moreover as the war dragged on into the winter and fancs-tireur activity grew, the Germans learned an ever-deeper hatred of the nation which was in their eyes prolonging the struggle so uselessly, and by such underhand means. “The War,” wrote a German officer campaigning on the Loire in November, “is gradually acquiring a hideous character. Murder and burning is now the order of the day on both sides, and one cannot beg Almighty God finally to make an end to it.”

“We are learning to hate them more every day, wrote another, a sane and civilized man who watched with horror the deterioration which bitterness and brutality were working among his troops. “I can assure you that it is also in the interests of the civilization of our own people that such a racial struggle should be brought to an end. Atrocious attacks are avenged by atrocities which remind one of the Thirty Years’ War.”

The discipline which during the summer had forced the German troops to respect civilian property was gradually relaxed.

“At first we were forbidden with the severest penalties, to burn vine-posts in bivouacs, and woe to him who used unthreshed corn for his palliasse. Child-like innocence! Now no one asks whether you are using garden fences . . . no Frenchman can any longer lay claim to property or means of livelihood.”

Thus throughout the autumn and winter of 1870 the terrorism of the francs-tireurs and the reprisals of the Germans spiraled down to new depths of savagery. If the French refused to admit military defeat, then other means must be found to break their will.

The same problem had confronted the United States in dealing with the Confederacy six years earlier, and Sherman had solved it by his relentless march through the South. [General Helmuth von] Moltke had believed war to consist in the movement of armies; but General Sheridan, who was observing the war from German headquarters, pointed out that this was only the first requirement of victory. [He stated:]

“The proper strategy [he declared after Sedan] consists in inflicting as telling blows as possible on the enemy’s army, then in causing the inhabitants so much suffering that they must long for peace, and force the government to demand it. The people must be left nothing but their eyes to weep with over the war.”

Bismarck took this advice more seriously than did Moltke. The more Frenchmen who suffered from the war, he pointed out, the greater would be the number who would long for peace at any price. “It will come to this, that we will have shoot down every male inhabitant.” Every village, he demanded, in which an act of treachery had been committed, should be burned to the ground and all male inhabitants hanged. To show mercy was “culpable laziness in killing.”

(The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France, 1870-71; Michael Howard, Routledge, 1989 (original 1961), excerpts, pp. 379-380)

The True Story of the Late War

Northern General Don Piatt was a prewar Ohio lawyer who was critical of Lincoln, whom he believed a skeptic, believing only what he saw, and possessing a low estimate of human nature. Piatt believed the latter blinded Lincoln to the South as Southerners valued honor and were determined to achieve political liberty and independence.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The True Story of the Late War

“[James] Madison said: “A Union of States with such an ingredient as coercion would seem to provide for its own destruction.”

It certainly would provide for the destruction of the principles of liberty itself. Looked at in the lurid light of the [18]60’s, one expression in the above letter of President Madison will make the reader pause and reflect a moment. The “feeble debility of the South could never face the vigorous activity of the North.”

The Republican Party had inherited from its progenitor, the Federal [Party], the above idea of the South’s feeble debility. Members of that party invited United States Senators and Congressmen to take their wives and daughters out to see the first fight of the war, especially to “see rebels run at the sight of Union soldiers.” Everybody knows how the rebels ran at Bull Run.

Republican officers of the Union army have expressed their opinion of the South’s “feeble debility.” General Don Piatt, a Union officer, on this subject has this:

“The true story of the late war,” wrote General Piatt in 1887, “has not yet been told. It probably never will be told. It is not flattering to our people; unpalatable truths seldom find their way into history. How rebels fought the world will never know; for two years they kept an army in the field that girt their borders with a fire that shriveled our forces as they marched in, like tissue paper in a flame. Southern people were animated by a feeling that the word fanaticism feebly expresses. (Love of liberty expresses it.)

For two years this feeling held those rebels to a conflict in which they were invincible. The North poured out its noble soldiery by the thousands, and they fought well, but their broken columns and thinned lines drifted back upon our capital, with nothing but shameful disasters to tell of the dead, the dying, the lost colors and the captured artillery. Grant’s road from the Rapidan to Richmond was marked by a highway of human bones. The Northern army had more killed than the Confederate Generals had in command.”

“We can lose five men to their one and win,” said Grant. The men of the South, half-starved, unsheltered, in rags, shoeless, yet Grant’s marches from the Rapidan to Richmond left dead behind him more men than the Confederates had in the field!

The Reverend H.W. Beecher preached a sermon in his church on the “Price of Liberty” . . . [and] astonished his congregation by illustrations from the South:

”Where,” exclaimed the preacher, “shall we find such heroic self-denial, such upbearing under every physical discomfort, such patience in poverty, in distress, in absolute want, as we find in the Southern army? They fight better in a bad cause than you do in a good one; they fight better for a passion than you do for a sentiment. They fight well and bear up under trouble nobly, they suffer and never complain, they go in rags and never rebel, they are in earnest for their liberty, they believe in it, and if they can they mean to get it.”

“Lincoln’s low estimate of humanity,” says Piatt, “blinded him to the South. He could not understand that men would fight for an idea. He thought the South’s [independence] movement a sort of political game of bluff.”

Hannibal Hamlin said: “The South will have to come to us for arms, and come without money to pay for them.” “And for coffins,” said John P. Hale, with a laugh. “To put a regiment in the field,” said Mr. Speaker Banks, “costs more than the entire income of an entire Southern State.”

It was not long before the men of the North found that the South’s soldiers supplied themselves with arms and clothing captured from Union soldiers.”

(Facts and Falsehoods Concerning the War on the South, 1861-1865, George Edmunds, Spence Hall Lamb, 1904, pp. 117-119)

Rogue Quartermaster of the West

Rogue Quartermaster of the West

The brief biography of Brigadier-General Justus McKinstry in “General’s in Blue” (Ezra J. Warner, LSU Press, 1964) describes him as “one of the most thoroughgoing rogues ever to wear a United States uniform.” Graduated from West Point, he survived a courts-martial which could have stifled his military career and future ill-gotten earnings. Warner begins the biography with:

“Justus McKinstry . . . was born July 6, 1814, in New York, probably in Columbia County. He moved with his parents to Michigan as a young boy and was appointed to the Military Academy from there. He was graduated in the class of 1838 which furnished an unusually large proportion of general officers to the Union and Confederate armies.”

To his credit, McKinstry served meritoriously in the war with Mexico under the command of Gen. Winfield Scott.

When the War Between the States commenced in 1861, then-Major McKinstry was appointed chief quartermaster of the Department of the West in St. Louis. He was charged with acquiring military supplies through various civilian contractors, and it was reported that his administration there “was rife with fraud and abuse.” McKinstry had civilian allies as “unscrupulous businessmen and adventurers defrauded the public of large sums of money,” and it was often unstated, but clearly implied, that “a goodly portion of that money stuck to the palms of the man who approved the expenditures.”  This was McKinstry.

Warner continues: “While in charge of the quartermaster’s department, [McKinstry] found ample opportunity to line his own pockets at the expense of the government. Among the exactions levied upon contractors who wished to do business with his office was a three-thousand dollar silver service for Mrs. McKinstry.

The contractor’s usual procedure for absorbing these obligations was for one contractor to bill another for goods at an enormous advance in price; these goods would then be sold to the quartermaster’s department at “market.” One St. Louis firm admitted profits of $280,000 on sales of $800,000 in a few months under the administration of McKinstry.

On September 2, 1861, he was promoted to brigadier of volunteers and commanded a division under General John C. Fremont who was ordered to invade Missouri with a large army which needed provisions and equipment. Fremont himself was no stranger to controversy.

In John McElroy’s “The Struggle for Missouri” the author writes that “Fremont, in the palatial Brandt Mansion, for which the Government was paying the very unusual rent of $6,000 per year, was maintaining a vice regal court as difficultly available as that of any crowed head of Europe.”

Regarding the autocratic Fremont’s expensive entourage, McElroy states that his “uncounted and glittering staff, which seemed to have received the Pentecostal gift of tongues – in which English was not included – was headed by a mysterious “Adlatus” – a title before unknown in America or to the dictionary’s . . .”

Those surrounding Fremont knew little or nothing of Missouri, geography or its affairs, though their purpose was to hold the State in the territorial union now centered in Washington.  Like a European duke, Fremont maintained a personal bodyguard of 300 hand-picked men and by mid-1862 had quarreled sufficiently with his superiors to be all but cashiered.

Warner writes that “Upon the succession of General David Hunter to command of the department, McKinstry’s peculations were investigated. And after a year in arrest he was cashiered, January 28, 1863, “for neglect and violation of duty, to the prejudice of good order and military discipline,” the only such sentence handed a general officer in the war.

McKinstry’s later record is obscure and for a time he was a stockbroker in New York, and later a land agent in Missouri. He died in St. Louis on December 11, 1897 and is buried in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

Sherman’s New Notion of Total War

There is little question that Sherman operated against American civilians in the South with the full approval of Lincoln and Grant, who must also share the responsibility for visiting total war upon defenseless men, women and children. This executive approval of war against civilians was not lost on the young Spanish attache to the Northern army, Valeriano Weyler, who became known in mid-1890s Cuba as General “Butcher” Weyler. To discourage Cuban freedom fighters, Weyler herded their women and children into concentration camps after burning their homes.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Sherman’s New Notion of Total War

“Major-General [Henry W.] Halleck, Sherman’s overall commander-in-chief, was an accepted authority of his day on the rules governing the intercourse of nations and the laws of war. Sherman had attended West Point with Halleck, and certainly curiosity if not actual interest on the subject would have prompted him to look into Halleck’s “International Law.”

It was said of Sherman that he was in the habit of “starting new notions constantly in his own brain, and following them up, no matter how far or whither they led.” On October 4 [1862] he reported to General Grant that two more steamboats had been fired upon – the attacks being described by Sherman as wanton and cruel – and he informed Grant of the new notion that had occurred to him:

“I caused Randolph [Mississippi] to be destroyed, and have given notice that a repetition will justify measures of retaliation, such as loading boats with their captive guerillas as targets (I always have a lot on hand), and expelling families from the comforts of Memphis, whose husbands and brothers go to make up the guerillas. I will watch Randolph closely, and if anything occurs there again I will send a brigade by land back of Randolph and clean out the country.”

From this modest beginning – the experiments to discover the effectiveness of the practical application of his concepts of total war – the destruction of property, the holding of hostages and now the improper exposure of prisoners to the fire of their own forces, would not be enlarged on in the weeks ahead and their effects carefully noted.

Whether Sherman himself ever entertained any doubts or hesitations as to the course to which he had committed himself cannot be stated accurately, but it is noteworthy that during this period no mention is made in his correspondence of the rules of war, nor does he suggest that his actions were not in accord with them.

There are threads of justification woven into his letters and his orders for extreme severity and barbarism; and a definite impression is left that many of these were included with one eye on posterity and the hope of ultimate vindication.”

(Merchant of Terror: General Sherman and Total War; John Bennett Walters, Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1973, excerpt, pp. 68-69)

From William Sherman to William Calley

As of April 24, 1863, the Northern armies were officially guided by Francis Lieber’s General Orders 100, Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field, which prohibited robbery, sacking, pillage rape, wounding maiming or killing of the South’s inhabitants. Observance of these instructions seemed to be the exception rather than the rule.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

From William Sherman to William Calley

“Paradoxically . . . Union General William Tecumseh Sherman [gradually] evolved his own personal philosophy of war along lines which were clearly at variance with the official pronouncements [of the North’s and in his practical application of that philosophy became one of the first of the modern generals to revert to the use of military force against the civilian population of the enemy.

While this represents only a part of the present concept of total war, its significance lies in Sherman’s demonstration of the effectiveness of a plan of action which would destroy the enemy’s economic system and terrify and demoralize the civilian population.

Sherman’s conduct, reflected in the actions of his men, demonstrated a strange hatred – one without parallel even in World War II. Even as brutal as the Japanese were to prisoners and to civilians who came under their bayonets, there was no demand in United States newspapers for the burning, sacking and pillaging of towns. Nor was there any public sentiment for the humiliation of civilians.

No efforts are made here to show that Sherman’s program pf terror was original with him. It is evident that he was willing to proceed in the face of official pronouncements to the contrary to apply the terrifying force of an uncontrolled soldiery against noncombatants.

It is likewise evident that he would not dared do so without the tacit approval of Abraham Lincoln and General Grant. Sherman pleaded that he could no control his troops in the face of their righteous indignation against those who would rebel against a benign government. The pages of recent history reveal that this plea was reiterated by both Japanese and German generals as the mounted the steps of scaffolds to which they were condemned by international tribunals.

There were extreme and unnecessary cruelties involving civilians in the Korean action. However, it was in the highly dramatic court martial of Lt. [William] Calley that the army undertook to point up the brutal attack upon civilians in the village of My Lai, South Vietnam.

The nation and the world was shocked at the pictures and detailed accounts of witnesses which placed upon the consciences of people everywhere the details of the massacre of the inhabitants, including women and children, of My Lai.

There can be little doubt that Sherman’s actions toward a proud and almost defenseless people left a heritage of hate which lasted far longer than it might otherwise have lasted.”

(Merchant of Terror: General Sherman and Total War; John Bennett Walters, Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1973, excerpt, pp. xxii-xxiii)

The Unspoken Significance of Fort Fisher’s Fall in 1865

Fort Fisher, January 2017

This weekend the Fort Fisher historic site near Kure Beach, North Carolina observes the 152nd anniversary of the second Northern attack that succeeded in capturing the fort after a massive bombardment of 50,000 shells which killed or wounded 500 or so mostly-North Carolinians who fought valiantly from traverse to traverse before capitulating. Those taken prisoner by the enemy were shipped northward to frigid prisons in New Jersey and New York – the latter infamously referred to as a death camp.

Many people visiting Fort Fisher note that it can be an eerie experience – like walking the fields of Appomattox and sensing the death-knell of liberty and independence it is known for.

The State employees of the historic site will hold events of blue-clad troops splashing ashore to free North Carolinians from the yoke of independence and self-government, as well as waving the US flag from the top of captured cannon traverses. The red, white and blue flags of the North Carolinians will be minimized if shown at all. Rather than note that most of the defenders were North Carolina farmers from surrounding counties, the fort and media will refer to them as merely “Confederates.”

Often noted during these observances is the enemy soldier who fell out of ranks to visit his mother’s home — as his brother was fighting to defend his country in a grey uniform.  And few seem to comprehend that this wayward North Carolinian in blue is the very definition of treason, of aiding, abetting and going over to the enemy.

Also, what is usually not discussed at events like this are the sectional differences of that era and multitude of reasons why the South was invaded, and the important aftermath of that battle for the fort. What really happened in mid-January 152 years ago was the ending of an American struggle for freedom and independence, the consent of the governed to rule themselves, and the equivalent of Washington surrendering to British forces at Yorktown.

What happened after the fort fell is very important to remember, especially as one looks at the blue-clad reenactors splashing ashore waving their flag on what was then foreign soil to them. What was their true purpose?

After the fort was overwhelmed and silenced, the 10,000-man enemy army marched toward Wilmington in two columns and after some spirited skirmishes, captured the city, imposed martial law, seized private property, and forced citizens to swear allegiance to a foreign government in order to conduct their businesses.

When the enemy departed Wilmington, they moved to join other enemy forces coming into North Carolina from South Carolina and from occupied New Bern. At Bentonville the combined enemy outnumbered Southern forces 4 to 1 — who fought them to a standstill – they then moved on to capture Raleigh, arrest and imprison the governor, and impose military rule on North Carolina. Think of the French capitulation to Germany in 1940.

After the surrender of Southern forces in May, 1865 at Bennett Place, the “reconstruction” of the South lasted until 1877 – some say it never ended — though without armies and without as much gunfire. North Carolina endured rule by a new State constitution imported by a military consul appointed from Washington, and corrupt local men who sought employment with the late enemy. The new imported constitution settled the secession issue for good by stating that North Carolina will never again seek independence or political freedom from the United States Government.

Understandably, July 4, 1865 in occupied Wilmington was a muted affair, celebrated only by locals collaborating with the enemy and newly-freed blacks who were unaware that they had only changed masters.  Blue-clad sentries still patrolled the streets to ensure the rebellion did not re-ignite; then came the vultures known as “carpetbaggers.”

Former Governor Zebulon Vance described the aftermath of war in North Carolina in 1890:

“The carnival of corruption and fraud, the trampling down of decency, the rioting in the overthrow of the traditions of a proud people, the chaos of hell on earth which took place beggars the descriptive powers of plain history . . . I believe a committee of Congress, who took some testimony on this subject, estimated in 1871 the amount of plunder which was extracted from the Southern people in about 5 short years — some $300 millions of dollars in the shape of increased debt alone, to say nothing of the indirect damage inflicted by the many ways of corruption and misrule which cannot be estimated in money.”

The fall of Fort Fisher and ultimate surrender at Bennett Place led to the carnival of corruption that Vance illuminated. We should remember what occurred at Fort Fisher in mid-January 1865 for what it was and what it led to — the ending of an American struggle for freedom and independence, the consent of the governed to rule themselves. This is the sad fact that we should observe, and be cognizant of when gazing at the great earthen fortress.

Bernhard Thuersam

 

 

Ohio Bounties Stimulate Enlistments

There was only one “flush of patriotic enthusiasm” in the North after the war began, and Gen. Halleck advised Lincoln in early 1862 that enlistments had virtually ceased and few new volunteers were to be had. A new system of procuring troops was needed, and conscription was contemplated. States, cities and counties feared losing local men to the threatened draft, and therefore raised exorbitant amounts to buy substitutes and anyone who would take the money to fill Lincoln’s troop quotas. As the war wore on, higher bounties had to be offered to attract men.

Ohio’s Governor William Dennison reminded his constituents in mid-May 1861 that the federal government “offers a bounty of one hundred dollars to all who may enlist, payable at the close of service, or to the soldier’s family, if he should not survive.” Dennison was a Whig and Republican like Lincoln, with the latter rewarding him with the cabinet post of Postmaster General.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Ohio Bounties Stimulate Enlistments

“An act of May 1, 1861, exempted from execution the property of any soldier in the militia of Ohio mustered into the service of the United States during the time he was in service, and fro two months thereafter. In February, 1862, the general assembly sought to protect citizen-soldiers charged with criminal offenses by providing that judges should postpone their trials until they were discharged. Still later, in March 1864, certain relief was given to debtors in the armed services who might have judgement rendered against them without defense . . .

After the first flush of patriotic enthusiasm 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 government units, and private subscription. (In Ohio there was no bounty offered directly from State funds.)

Indeed, as the provost marshal wrote, the federal bounty paled into “comparative insignificance” when compared to “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 [Provost Marshal] General [James B.] Fry put it, came to be “to obtain men to fill quotas.”

Localities began by offering moderate bounties. In 1862 the average local bounty in Ohio was estimated at $25; in 1863 in 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. The next year (1864), however, the city of Cincinnati began to borrow in order to offer city bounty payments, and during the 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 paid about $14,000,000 and private subscribers, $40,457,575.”

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