Browsing "Lincoln’s Grand Army"

Experimenting on the Reunion of the United States

The following passage from a mid-1862 Harper’s Weekly reveals the impetus behind the war, and the intense industrialism and consumerism that drove the Northern war effort. And if the South could not be brought into the orbit of this new order, they would have to be exiled or exterminated once their land was confiscated.  Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Seward, stated in England in 1863 that the Southern people were free to leave and form their own government, and their land left behind would belong to the Northern government.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Experimenting on the Reunion of the United States

“Under the vigorous administration of Major-General [Benjamin] Butler, New Orleans is steadily returning into shape. General Butler has been more energetic and less conciliatory than General Dix or Governor Johnson: his iron hand has not been covered with a silken glove. We venture the prediction that his success will be all the more thorough and speedy. The good people of Louisiana are already complaining that they have been victimized by the rebels.

And no wonder. What could be more outrageous than the destruction of cotton and sugar, while hundreds of thousands of human beings are starving to death for want of the food which could only be purchased with this cotton and sugar?

To bring the people of Louisiana entirely to their senses, nothing more is needed than a plain statement of this, and we are glad to see that General Butler has stated it.  When one reads of the heart-rending sufferings of the people of the Gulf States of whole families starving, and every rich man reduced to poverty – one is tempted to regret that the civilization of the age forbids the infliction of the tortures of the Inquisition upon the miscreant authors of these atrocities.

Strict Justice would require that Davis, Beauregard, and Lovell should expiate their crimes on the rack, or at the stake. Mean while, the revival of trade, and the exemplary punishment of traitors by General Butler, is gradually developing a Union sentiment in New Orleans as the like policy did at Baltimore. The argumentum ad ventrem is doing the work. Baltimore, Nashville, and New Orleans, are the points where the forces of the United States are experimenting on the reunion of the United States.

If we restore the Union feeling there, we can do it throughout the South. If we cannot succeed there, the bulk of the white people of the South will have to be exiled, or got rid of in some way, in order to reconstruct the Union and secure the safety of the North. In order to create a Union sentiment at the South, we must satisfy the people of that section that we are stronger than they, and that we are thoroughly earnest in our purpose of preserving the soil of the United States undivided.

We must then show them that if they persevere in rebellion they cannot escape hunger and misery, that they will be outcasts without property or rights of any kind; that it is a mere question of time how soon they will be hunted down; that it is simply due to our forbearance that the negroes have not been armed for insurrection; whereas, on the other hand, if they return to their loyalty, they will be received into the Union with the same rights as the people of the North, and will be assisted by a generous government to emancipate their slaves and start afresh in a new and wholesome career of industry. When this is done, the work of reconstruction will be more than half achieved.”

(The Work of Reconstruction, Harper’s Weekly June 14th 1862, excerpts, many thanks to Electra Briggs)

 

 

Drafting Able-Bodies Slaves

Northern incursions into coastal areas would either carry away slaves to cripple Southern agricultural production, or impress male slaves into Northern military service. Massachusetts led the North in counting slave recruits against their troop quotas, thus leaving many white citizens free to remain home during the war.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Drafting Able-Bodies Slaves

“When [General] David Hunter returned to [South Carolina’s Sea] islands on January 20, 1863 . . . he brought with him James Montgomery, the man who would become the colonel of the Second [Union] South Carolina Regiment. Montgomery had gone to Kansas with John Brown and afterward became one of the most prominent leaders among the Jayhawkers. Like Brown, he sought to use the slaves to free slaves; and again, like Brown, his preferred tactic was the Kansas-style raid — swift, terrifying, and devastating, taking all that could be carried, and burning all that was left behind. Perfected in practice, the raid became the professional trademark of “Mon’gomery’s boys” and, to some extent that of the Negro soldier in South Carolina.

On March 10, he landed in Jacksonville [Florida] along with [Col. Thomas W.] Higginson’s command and led a foray seventy-five miles inland, returning laden with booty and a large number of potential soldiers — lately slaves. In May and June, raids up the Ashepoo and Combahee rivers in South Carolina and an attack on the village of Darien, Georgia supplied more recruits. Meanwhile, Hunter issued an order drafting all able-bodied Negro men remaining on the plantations. Others were seized in the night by squads of Negro soldiers. On one plantation on St. Helena, Betsey’s husband was thus taken, leaving her with ten children and a “heart most broke.”

Those who attempted to evade the draft were roughly treated. Josh, who had fled to the marshes, was tracked to his hiding place and when he again tried to elude his pursuers was shot down and captured. Negro civilians suffered under the draft and resented the manner of its enforcement . . . ”the draft is either taking or frightening off most of the men,” lamented one of the [Northern missionary] superintendents at the end of March, 1863.

During [the] early history [of Negro impressments] the new regiments were plagued by desertions which were freely excused on the ground of ignorance . . . Private William Span, having been recaptured on his eighth or ninth defection, was brought before the colonel in his tent. Montgomery asked Span if he wished to offer and excuse. Span said no. “Then,” declared the colonel, “you will be shot at half-past nine this morning.”

(After Slavery, The Negro in South Carolina During Reconstruction, Joel Williamson, UNC Press, 1965, pp. 17- 20)

 

Aug 28, 2016 - America Transformed, Bounties for Patriots, Conscription, Lincoln's Grand Army, Lincoln's Patriots, Northern Culture Laid Bare    Comments Off on Enlisting Burglars, House-Burners and Thieves

Enlisting Burglars, House-Burners and Thieves

By mid-1862, General Henry Halleck informed Lincoln that volunteering had all but ceased, and other means of filling the ranks had to be found. Lincoln then used the threat of conscription as a whip to stimulate enlistment, with Northern towns, cities, counties and State’s raising immense amounts to purchase substitutes for their drafted men. Also, State agents were sent to the occupied South to scour the area for potential recruits, especially slaves, who would count against a Northern State’s quota of troops.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Enlisting Burglars, House-Burners and Thieves

“Complaints having come across the ocean that Northern recruiting agents were in Europe plying their trade, the Senate of the United States passed a resolution on the 24th of June 1864, requesting President Lincoln to inform that body “if any authority has been given any one, either in this country or elsewhere, to obtain recruits in Ireland or Canada,” &.

On July 13, 1864, Gov. [John] Andrew, of Massachusetts, informed Secretary Stanton that citizens of Massachusetts were recruiting a large number of aliens. On July 14, 1864, the US Congress passed an act authorizing the Governor of each State in the Union to send recruiting agents into any Confederate States, except Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana; and declaring any volunteers these agents might enlist should be “credited to the State, and to the respective subdivisions thereof which might procure the enlistment.”

Thereupon agents were sent from all the New England States, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois . . . into all the accessible parts of the Confederacy. New Hampshire’s agents, for an example, to receive $20 for each one-year man enlisted, $25 for each two-years’ enlistment, and $40 for each three years’ man; and these recruits to receive, respectively, $100, $200, and $300, a proviso being added to her law that the Governor might, if he found it advisable, pay a bounty of $500 for each three-years’ man enlisted in “the insurgent States.”

But, the “commercial spirit” not having yet taken possession of the South, Secretary Stanton said this in a report to President Lincoln, March 1, 1865: “The results of the recruitments under the act of July 4, 1864, for recruiting in the rebel States, were reported as unfavorable.”

On August 28, 1864, Prov. Mar.-Gen. Fry telegraphed to his assistant in Boston: “Hon. J.D. Baldwin writes me from Worcester that towns in his district enlist their own citizens, provide bounties for them, and send them to camp or rendezvous to be mustered in and credited. That after reaching rendezvous they are beset by recruiting agents for other places, especially Boston. These agents, offering higher local bounties, succeed in getting the men credited to other towns, etc.”

“[A] Colonel of one of the negro regiments at Natchez “stated that in consequence of the presence of recruiting agents from Northern States offering large bounties for recruits his men were deserting, procuring citizens’ clothing, and secreting themselves until an opportunity offered of escaping from the place for purpose of enlisting. The same state of things,” he continued, “exists in the other colored regiments . . . ”

On January 19, 1865, the Actg. Asst. Prov. Mar.-Gen., Concord, N.H., wrote to Prov. Mar. Gen. Fry, Washington, saying among other things: “I would respectfully call your attention to the fact that burglars, house-burners, and thieves, felons of all classes and kinds, are daily taken from jails and prisons with the consent of the judges, both high and low, and enlisted under false names and false pretenses in the service of the U.S.”

(The South’s Burden, the Curse of Sectionalism, Benjamin Franklin Grady, Nash Brothers, 1906, pp. 116-118)

Lt. Snelling Returns Home to Georgia

Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 defined a traitor as one who “betrays his allegiance to his country” and “who aids an enemy in conquering his country.” Lt. Snelling, described below, deserted his Georgia regiment and guided the enemy army through his home State.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lt. Snelling Returns Home to Georgia

“Sunday, November 20, 1864 was a day of unprecedented excitement in the capital of Georgia. Members of the legislature had already departed in haste for their homes. The governor and Statehouse officers were in flight, and many citizens of the town were following the example set by them. In the afternoon distant cannon fire was heard in the direction of Macon, some thirty miles away.

Just before sunset a small group of blue-coated cavalrymen were seen lingering on the outskirts of the town . . . They cut telegraph wires, seized a few horses, and then made a hurried exit. They were the first of more than thirty thousand enemy soldiers who were to enter Milledgeville within the next four days.

With flags unfurled, the band at the head of the column playing the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and other martial airs . . . [the enemy army occupied the town and Sherman] learned that he was occupying a plantation belonging to General Howell Cobb and forthwith issued orders for its complete destruction.

On the same evening he ordered a special guard to protect the property of Andrew J. Banks whose farmhouse stood a short distance away. Banks, a North Carolinian by birth, was known to be of strong Unionist sentiment.

It is doubtful if Sherman’s intelligence channels had ever been more effective than on this particular occasion. His knowledge of the country which he had entered, and of the varying sentiments of the inhabitants, he owed largely to David R. Snelling, the twenty-six year-old cavalry lieutenant who commanded his escort. Snelling had been born a few miles from Cobb’s plantation and, until the war began, had always lived in the community to which he was now returning as a conquering enemy.

He had left the county early in 1862 as a member of Captain Richard Bonner’s company of the 57th Georgia Regiment. Never an enthusiastic rebel, he deserted at Bridgeport, Alabama, in July. Later he became a member of a Unionist regiment made up of defecting Southerners. He was now a first lieutenant in the 1st Alabama (Union) Cavalry and assigned to Sherman’s personal escort where his knowledge of the people and of the country through which they were marching made his services invaluable to the commanding general who kept him close by his side.

While [Sherman and Snelling] were seated around the [evening] fire, a Negro slave . . . recognized Snelling and greeted him as “Massa Dave.” According to [an observer], the slave fell on the floor, hugged the lieutenant around his knees, and expressed mixed feelings and astonishment and thankfulness at seeing his former master in the uniform of the invading army. The slave who greeted him had belonged [to David Lester, Snelling’s] uncle, in whose home the lieutenant had lived as an orphan since boyhood.

That evening Sherman granted . . . Snelling’s request to ride six miles ahead to visit his relatives at the Lester plantation. In his memoirs, the general noted that Snelling returned that night on a fresh horse from his uncle’s stable [and that the visit had been] social in nature. The David Lester plantation book, however, indicates that Snelling was accompanied on his visit by a squad of Federal cavalrymen and the group conducted a raid on the plantation, burned the ginhouse, and pillaged the premises.

Whether Snelling’s unusual conduct was an attempt to prove his loyalty to the Union army or the result of an old grudge he bore against his affluent uncle perhaps may never be determined.”

(Sherman at Milledgeville in 1864, James C. Bonner, Journal of Southern History, Volume XXII, Number 3, August, 1956, pp. 273, 275-277)

 

Aug 21, 2016 - Enemies of the Republic, Lincoln's Grand Army, Lincoln's Patriots, Myth of Saving the Union, The United States Constitution, Traitors and Treason    Comments Off on Treason Against His Native State — Virginia?

Treason Against His Native State — Virginia?

Officers in the US military are sworn to defend the Constitution, not the government or flag of the government, the latter mentioned below as a justification for loyalty. William Rawle’s “View of the Constitution” which supported the idea of political secession, was a West Point text at least until 1840, when George H. Thomas graduated, and he was well aware of the seat of loyalty in the Constitution.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Treason Against His Native State — Virginia?

“We have collected the most conclusive proof that General [George H.] Thomas had at first fully decided to come South and cast his lot with his own people . . . But, in the meantime, it may be as well to put into our records the testimony of Senator Cameron of Pennsylvania, in his speech in the United States Senate on the bill for the relief of General Fitz John Porter. Mr. Cameron, in the course of his defense of General Porter said:

“It became my duty to take charge of the railroad from Harrisburg to Baltimore, and while so engaged an incident occurred in my office which impressed me greatly at the time, and which it has always seemed to me should atone to a great extent for any errors General Porter may have committed . . . It was to a great extent through him, in my judgment, that the services of General George H. Thomas were secured to the side of the Union. General Thomas, then Major Thomas, was stationed at the Carlisle Barracks.

The capital of the nation was menaced by an enemy camping within a few miles of it, and had but a handful of men for its protection. Porter . . . selected Thomas from . . . three Majors and ordered him to report to him at my office in Harrisburg, that being Porter’s headquarters.

When informed of the duty to be performed, Thomas hesitated, then began a conversation between the two officers which continued until morning and made a lasting impression on my mind. Thomas argued against the war taking the ground that the trouble had been brought upon the country by the abolitionists of the North, and that while deploring it as sincerely as any man could, the South had just cause for complaint.

Porter took the position that he, Thomas, as a soldier, had no right to look at the cause of the trouble, but as an officer of the United States army it was his duty to defend his flag whenever it was attacked, whether by foes from without or from within. Porter pleaded as zealously, as eloquently, as I have ever heard any man plead a cause in which his whole heart was engaged, and it was this pleading which caused Thomas to arrive at a decision.

“I do not say that Thomas refused to obey his orders, but I do say that he hesitated and would much have preferred that the duty had devolved upon another. Thomas was a Virginian, and had, as many other good and patriotic men had, great doubts as to the ability of the government to coerce the States back into the Union that had, by their legislatures, formally withdrawn . . . ”

(Did George H. Thomas Hesitate to Draw His sword Against His Native State — Virginia? Notes and Queries, Southern Historical Papers, Volume XII, R.A. Brock, Editor, pp. 568-570)

 

Keeping the Loyal States in Harness

In mid-1864 General Ulysses S. Grant was greatly concerned about massive draft resistance and the need to send troops northward despite outnumbering General Robert E. Lee at least four to one in Virginia. President Davis in April 1864 sent three commissioners and agents to Canada for the purpose of opening a northern front on the border after freeing Southern prisoners – in hopes of a negotiated peace and independence for the South. It is reported that Lincoln feared losing reelection to a Democrat, and spending the rest of his life in prison for repeated violations of the United States Constitution.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Keeping the Loyal States in Harness

“The slow and bloody progress through Virginia to the James [River], the failure of the first assaults on Lee’s lines around Petersburg, the appearance of [General Jubal] Early before the gates of [Washington, DC], produced a greater sense of disillusionment and of disappointment than had followed Burnside’s [1862] repulse at Fredericksburg or Hooker’s [1863] failure at Chancellorsville. The New York World, which had been exceptionally friendly to the commander in chief, asked on July 11:

“Who shall revive the withered hopes that bloomed on the opening of Grant’s campaign?”

And nine days before Congress had invited the President to appoint a day for national prayer and humiliation. Horace Greeley attempted to open negotiations for peace by meeting Confederate commissioners at Niagara [Falls], and in the middle of July two other semi-official seekers of peace, James F. Jacques and J.R. Gilmore, had gone to Richmond, only to be told by the Southern President:

“If your papers tell the truth, it is your capital that is in danger, not ours . . . in a military view I should certainly say our position is better than yours.”

Greeley, despite the failure of his journey to Niagara, resumed his efforts to end the war, and on August 9, wrote to the President:

“Nine-tenths of the Whole American people, North and South, are anxious for peace – peace on almost any terms – and utterly sick of human slaughter and devastation. I beg you, implore you, to inaugurate or invite proposals for peace forthwith. And, in case peace cannot now be made, consent to an armistice of one year, each party to retain unmolested all it now holds, but the rebel ports to be opened.”

Not only was there this pressure from outside; there was discord within. [Secretary Salmon P.] Chase had resigned, a presidential election was drawing near, and there were outspoken predictions of a Republican defeat. The North was feeling as it had never felt before the strain of prolonged conflict . . . the rumblings of opposition to the draft, which had just become law, were growing daily louder [and] surely Lincoln would have been justified in [opening negotiations] in August, 1864. But what happened?

Early in August the grumblings against the draft had alarmed [General Henry] Halleck, and on the eleventh of that month he told Grant: “Pretty strong evidence is accumulating . . . to make forcible resistance to the draft in New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky, and perhaps some of the other States. The draft must be enforced for otherwise the army cannot be kept up. But to enforce it, it may require the withdrawal of a considerable number of troops from the field . . . ”

Four days later, on the evening of August 15, Grant answered . . . ”If there is any danger of an uprising in the North to resist the draft . . . our loyal governors ought to organize the militia at once to resist it. If we are to draw troops from the field to keep the loyal States in harness, it will prove difficult to suppress the rebellion in the disloyal States. My withdrawal from the James River would mean the defeat of Sherman.”

(A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and War of 1861-65, Capt. S. A. Ashe, Raleigh, NC, 1935 pp. 66-67)

 

Suppressing the Consent of the Governed

As described below, Americans in general seem unaware of the enormity of the Southern experience 1861-1865 and the aftermath of devastating defeat and subjugation. The author’s analogy brings needed perspective to an unnecessary war and death of a million Americans, counting military and civilian casualties.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Suppressing the Consent of the Governed

“Imagine America invaded by a foreign power, one that has quadruple the population and industrial base. Imagine that this enemy has free access to the world’s goods as well as an inexhaustible supply of cannon fodder from the proletariat of other countries, while America itself is tightly blockaded from the outside world.

New York and Cincinnati have been taken. For months, Boston and Chicago have been under constant siege, the civilian population driven from their homes. Enemy forces roam over large parts of the country burning the homes, tools and food of the noncombatants in a campaign of deliberate terrorism.

Nearly eighty-five percent of the nation’s able-bodied men (up to 50 years of age) have been called to arms. Battlefield casualties have run to 39 percent and deaths amount to half of that, far exceeding those from any other war.

On the other hand, the enemy, though its acts and domestic propaganda indicate otherwise, is telling the American population that it only wants peace and the restoration of the status quo antebellum. Lay down your arms and all will be as before. What would be our state of morale in such conditions? Americans have never suffered such misfortune, have they?

Alas, they have. This was the experience of the Southern people from 1861-1865 in their lost War for Independence.

How hard the Southerners struggled for independence from the American Empire has been, and continues to be, suppressed by a nationalist culture that can only wonder: How could any group possibly have dissented from the greatest government on earth? But a very large number of Americans did no consent that government (the regime, after all, was supposed to be founded on the consent of the governed).

They were willing to put their dissent on the line in a greater sacrifice than any large group of Americans has ever been called on to make. Until finally, as a disappointed Union officer quoted by [author Gary] Gallagher remarked: “The rebellion [was] worn out rather than suppressed.”

(An Honorable Defeat, Clyde Wilson, Chronicles, October 1998, pg. 28)

Lincoln Turns the Trick

Lincoln purposely withheld news of military disasters so as not to discourage enlistments. To satisfy the endless levies for troops, Secretary of State William Seward scoured Europe for mercenaries, Lincoln allowed Northern governors to count captured slaves against State quotas, and generous enlistment bounties put many men in blue who would not otherwise fight.  After McClellan’s defeat at Gaines’s Mill, the Comte de Paris related that “Far from letting the [Northern] people know what was taking place around Richmond, the Secretary of War [Seward] . . . gave out that the Army of the Potomac had undertaken a strategic movement which would result in the capture of Richmond.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln Turns the Trick

“The defeat of General [George] McClellan’s right wing at Gaines’s Mill [June 1862] was a shock to President Lincoln and his cabinet, who were daily anticipating the capture of the Confederate capital. It was hard for them to realize that the expensively equipped Grand Army, on which their hopes and expectations of swiftly ending the war were fixed, had turned its back on Richmond.

President Lincoln, on further weighing McClellan’s despondent telegram, felt assured that the Peninsula campaign was about to end in failure and that a new levy of troops would be necessary.

Yet, while he wanted volunteers badly, he was, as he says in a carefully prepared letter to Secretary [William] Seward, fearful that “a general panic and stampede would follow” if he “publicly appealed to the country for this new force”; for the desperate strait of the Federal army on the Peninsula was being withheld from the people. How otherwise than by direct call, queries Bancroft [Life of Seward], “could a hundred thousand new soldiers be obtained?  Seward was a master of political strategy, and Lincoln was no novice. Here is the device: it was principally Seward’s.”

Seward, taking with him Lincoln’s letter just mentioned and an equally adroit letter to the governors of Northern States, hurried to New York and other cities for personal and telegraphic conferences with such governors and other men of influence as could meet them. During these conferences Seward so shaped matters that the responsibility for a new levy was seemingly shifted from the President and assumed by the governors of the several States.

To give the appearance of reality to the transaction he formulated a petition for the loyal governors to sign. The petition recites:

“The undersigned, governors of the states of the union, impressed with the belief that the citizens of the states which they respectfully represent are of one accord in the hearty desire that the recent successes of the Federal arms may be followed up . . . that you at once call on the several states for such equal numbers of me . . . as may in your judgment be necessary to garrison and hold all the numerous cities and military positions that have been captured by our armies and to speedily crush the rebellion.”

To this uniquely contrived petition, the President graciously replied: “Fully concurring in the wisdom of the views expressed to me in so patriotic a manner by you . . . I have decided to call into the service an additional force of three hundred thousand men.”

When the correspondence, “purporting to be the voluntary request of eighteen governors to the President,” was published on July 2, the people were still ignorant of McClellan’s discomfiture. When [the Northern public] learned that the army had been driven to Harrison’s Landing, the trick had been turned.  “The alarm and anger of the North,” adds Bancroft, “were great, but the prospects of having large reinforcements saved the administration from serious embarrassments.” Under this call 421,465 men were secured. To stimulate volunteering Secretary Stanton agreed, at Seward’s request, to go beyond his lawful authority and advance $25 out of the $100 bounty promised to each recruit.”

(The History of North Carolina in the War Between the States, Volume II, Bethel to Sharpsburg, Daniel Harvey Hill, Edwards & Broughton, 1926, pp. 128-130)

Harriet the Deliverer

Harriet Tubman was utilized by Northern forces on the South Carolina coast to help in carry away black laborers who were supporting the Southern war effort. With the plantations overrun and crops destroyed, the African workers had lost their homes and livelihood and left with the liberators who promised farms for all.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Harriet the Deliverer

“They came down every road, across every field, just as they had left their work and their cabins; women with children clinging around their necks . . . all making at full speed for “Lincoln’s gun-boats.”  Eight hundred poor wretches at one time crowded the banks, with their hands extended toward their deliverers, and they were taken off upon the gun-boats, and carried down to Beaufort [South Carolina].

“I nebber see such a sight,” said Harriet [Tubman]; “we laughed an’ laughed . . . One woman brought two pigs, a white an’ a black one; we took ’em all on board; named the white pig Beauregard, and de black pig Jeff Davis.

And so they came pouring down to the gun-boats. At length Colonel Montgomery shouted from the upper deck, above the clamor of appealing tones, “Moses, you’ll have to give ’em a song.” Then Harriet lifted up her voice and sang:

“Of all the whole creation in the East or in the West,

The glorious Yankee nation is the greatest and the best,

Come along! Come along! Don’t be alarmed,

Uncle Sam is rich enough to give you all a farm.”

(Harriet, the Moses of Her People, Sarah Bradford, Citadel Press, 1961, pp. 101-102)

Uncle Gibb’s Liberators

The passage below describes the surrender and occupation of Smithville, now Southport, North Carolina in late January 1865 after Fort Fisher had fallen to Northern forces. The town’s public offices were plundered by the troops and those like Uncle Gibb suffered ill-treatment from soldiers who sought buried valuables.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Uncle Gibb’s Liberators

“Now Smithville [North Carolina] had relapsed into its state of quiet, but not the quiet of former days . . . Negroes however reaped a rich harvest in the shape of clothing from soldiers and blankets of which the forest was strewn.

A large assembly of Negro men, women and children had collected at the boat in order to greet their “saviors,” and to fall upon their necks and kiss them if such liberties should be allowed. [Northern] Captain [William] Cushing then addressed the sable crowd and informed them that they were free, that they were in all respects equal to the whites and would be so treated. In order to make that this was true he directed that they [the Negroes] should form a procession and give three cheers which they did saying, “God bless Massa Lincum, we’re free” and “Massa Lincum is cumin in a day or two to bring each of us a mule and deed for forty acres of land.”

The procession then started to move, and wild cheering for “Massa Lincum.” There were some small United States flags scattered among the crowds which they waved frantically in the air, crying “hallelujah, hallelujah.” The procession then moved through the garrison to Moore Street, a motley crowd dressed in every conceivable style bearing banners of anything that was bright color and they started down Moore Street amid cheering for “Massa Lincum.”

In the procession which had marched around town was “Uncle Gibb,” and in his posterity “Uncle Gibb” had been treated during his entire life as kindly as any white citizen in the town. He had a house to live in, plenty of food and clothes, and a horse and dray; and it was difficult to perceive how he had bettered his condition by freedom; but he soon found out as he was brought a prisoner into the [Northern army] Garrison for some alleged offense.

Here he was tied up by the thumbs to an oak tree which stood there, and hoisted till his toes barely touched the ground. This was done in full view of his own sister who was cooking in an adjoining kitchen, and who fainted and fell at the awful sight. We thus had an opportunity to find out whether the new friends of the colored race were any better than the old friends who had treated him with such kindness.

The ceremony attending the surrender [of Smithville] having been completed, the boat containing the plunder was dispatched back to the [USS] Monticello, and there being apparently nothing to do on shore, the sailors were given liberty and the officers proceeded to enjoy themselves.

The sailors spread themselves over the town, and proceeded first to inspect the public buildings. They broke open the court house and its offices, tore up such papers as they found lying around, among which happened to be the entire record of the Court of Equity and scattered them about the streets. They went to the Academy building in which was a Masonic Hall, and stole the jewels of the Order, and carried them to the ship.”

(Reminiscences, Dr. D.W. Curtis, Special Collections, W.M. Randall Library, UNCW, pp. 33-37)