Browsing "Looting the Conquered"

Union Captain Murrey’s Toast

Northeastern North Carolina suffered enemy occupation early in the war – those that could left the area. The occupation troops had little consideration for the African race they were emancipating, and seemed to consider the people of North Carolina their subjects and whose land would become resorts for Northerners.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Union Captain Murrey’s Toast

“With their young men away at war, Washington and most of Beaufort County came under the heel of the Union Army. They found the town evacuated by its defenders and abandoned by about three-quarters of its inhabitants. All who could possibly leave, and find refuge with friends and relatives further inland, had done so.

The occupation force included units of the 24th Massachusetts Cavalry; 3rd New York Artillery; 3rd New York Cavalry; and some Marine artillery. Gunboats anchored across the river, off the town. Union forces continued to occupy Washington from the end of March 1862, until 20 April 1864.

On March 30, Captain Murrey, commander of the gunboat Commodore Hull, invited six of the older men who had remained in Washington, to dinner on his vessel. He is alleged to have gotten them drunk, then proposed a toast: “To the reconstruction of the Federal Union, a plantation in Georgia with a hundred niggers, and a summer residence in North Carolina.” It is recorded these men all drank with zest to this toast.

During this period, conditions in Washington were growing steadily worse. Older men who were compelled to remain with their business, had sent their wives and families away. Food was scarce. Though the freed Negroes who had collected in the town were given better food than the inhabitants could procure, bands of these Negroes roamed the streets at night, pillaging and stealing. Strong protests were made by the representatives of eastern North Carolina to President Davis, to return North Carolina troops from Virginia, to clear Union forces from their homes.”

(History of Beaufort County, C. Wingate Reed, Edwards & Broughton, 1962, pp. 184-188)

Vandals and Goths at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina survived the war but found itself in desperate condition when Northern carpetbaggers and local scalawags assumed control of State government in 1868. Historian Hugh Talmage Lefler wrote: “Lack of public confidence, financial support, and students closed the University in 1870. A student expressed it graphically when he wrote of a classroom blackboard: “Today this University busted and went to hell.” The University was reopened in 1875 after North Carolinians regained political control of their State.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Vandals and Goths at Chapel Hill

“Of the seventy-eight new Trustees of the University, only four had been members of the former Board, and they were men who had seldom attended meetings of the Trustees and really cared very little about the fate of the University. At the meeting of the new Board in Raleigh, in June 1868, several names were brought forward for the presidency.

After several days of travail the Board brought forth Mr. Solomon Pool, a native of Elizabeth City, North Carolina . . . To be sure, he had no “established reputation” for scholarship, though he was a man of some ability. Immediately after the close of “The War” in 1866, Mr. Pool had resigned his position as Tutor in the University to take a job as a Deputy Appraiser in the Revenue Service of the hated Reconstruction Government, allying himself with the Republican party.

The word “opportunist” had not been invented, but “traitor,” “renegade,” and “apostate” were freely hurled at his complacent head. Mr. Joseph [Engelhard], editor of the Wilmington Journal, said in one issue of his paper that the University was “infested with pismires” (termites?) and the very next week he wrote that it was “presided over by nincompoops.”

The Board of Trustees had its own troubles in forming a new faculty. Mr. S.[S]. Ashley, a Massachusetts Yankee, who was Superintendent of Public Education, placed a relative, James A. Martling, in the “Chair of Belles Lettres,” whatever that means. The Martling family occupied the house recently made vacant by my grandfather’s death, and June Spencer and I, living next door, watched with scornful eyes the daughters of the family . . . with their village beaux on the piazza or strolling in the moonlight, but there was no communication between us.

George Dickson, Professor of Agriculture, was a Friend from Philadelphia who came South as a missionary to the Negroes. He brought Bibles, Testaments, and hymn books from the good Quakers of his city, a fine and generous gesture – if only the recipients had been able to read. Friend Dickson went to England to inquire into some new ideas in agriculture for the benefit of the South. He never came back.

During the first year of the Reconstruction Administration there were thirty-five students in attendance . . . just little bare-foot boys from the village and the adjoining country, with their home-made breeches held up by a string across one shoulder, and their dinner in a little tin bucket. Now and then a small black face appeared among them. None of them knew what it was all about. It was just a grand frolic for them to be “goin’ to college.”

Nor were the pupils altogether appreciative of their advantages. We find one A.J. Banks haled before the faculty for non-attendance upon his classes. His excuse was that he did not want to study Greek, nor did he want to stay in college with “them Yanks.”

The grim record shows that the Archives of the Literary Societies were broken into and their contents scattered. A box of Siamese curios presented to the University by the Reverend Daniel McGilvary, a Presbyterian missionary to Siam, was broken, and objects of rare beauty and great value stolen or destroyed. Scientific apparatus was smashed into bits, and great damage was done to the buildings and libraries of the University . . . owls and bats flew in the broken windows of the buildings, the campus was a jungle of weeds, cattle and hogs roamed the unlighted streets at night.

From a charming, dignified home of cultured people, who enjoyed a gracious society, Chapel Hill had become a desolate, silent wilderness. Even the strangers who composed the puppet faculty disliked each other, the village, the State, and the institution they were expected to serve.”

(A Rare Pattern, Lucy Phillips Russell, UNC Press, 1957, pp. 45-49)

Northern Vandals Liberate Wilmington Furniture

Considered one of Wilmington, North Carolina’s antebellum architectural treasures, the Dr. John D. Bellamy mansion was seized by Northern General Joseph R. Hawley in February 1865 for use as his headquarters while occupying the city — ironically, Hawley was a native North Carolinian. Bellamy’s daughter Ellen was a young girl at the time and later recalled vivid memories of the enemy invasion.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Northern Vandals Liberate Wilmington Furniture

“The Federal troops captured Wilmington on February 21, 1865; they took possession of our home, which we had temporarily vacated, and it remained General Hawley Headquarters a long time, even after Lee’s surrender. It was very galling . . .”

[Mother] came up to own dear house, accompanied by a friendly neighbor . . . who was related to General Hawley, and had offered to introduce her. It was most humiliating, and trying, to be entertained by Mrs. Hawley, in her own parlor. Mrs. Hawley showed her raising by “hawking and spitting” in the fire, a most unlady-like act. During the call she offered Mother some figs (from Mother’s own tree) which Aunt Sarah had picked — our own old cook, who had been left there in charge of the premises.

My father made several trips to . . . Washington City before they would grant him his “Pardon.” For what? For being a Southern Gentlemen, a Rebel, and a large Slave Owner! The slaves he had inherited from his father, and which he considered a sacred trust. Being a physician, he guarded their health, kept a faithful overseer to look after them (his home being a regular drug store), and employed a Methodist minister, Rev. Mr. Turrentine, by the year, to look after their spiritual welfare.

Although the war was practically over seven months, we did not get possession of our home ‘till September. [T]he beautiful white marble mantles in the two parlors were so caked with tobacco spit and garbs of chewed tobacco, they were cleaned with great difficulty; indeed, the white marble hearths are still stained . . . No furniture had been left in the parlors . . . On leaving here, the Yankees gave [the] furniture to a servant . . .” In our sitting room, our large mahogany bookcase was left, as it was too bulky for them to carry off; but from its drawers numerous things were taken, among them an autograph album belonging to me brother Marsden.

A number of years later, when my brother John was in Washington as a member of Congress, this same Hawley, then a senator from Illinois, told him of the album “coming into his possession” when he occupied our house, and said he would restore it to him. However, he took care not to do it, although repeatedly reminded.”

(Back With The Tide, Memoirs of Ellen D. Bellamy, Bellamy Mansion Museum 2002, pp. 5-8)

The Anticipated Profits of Next Year’s Pay Checks

Lincoln instituted a national banking system which “developed into something that was neither national nor a banking system” and more represented a loose organization of currency factories “designed to . . . [serve] commercial communities and confined . . . almost entirely to the New England and Middle Atlantic States.” This system was more concentrated in New York and fraught with abuses, and superseded by the even more abusive Federal Reserve Act of 1913.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Anticipated Profits of Next Year’s Pay Checks

“July 3, 1930

Mr. McFadden: “Mr. Speaker and gentlemen, time and events have arrived at a point where we should no longer deceive ourselves concerning the business situation. Continued statements of unfounded optimism will have only an unhappy effect upon the minds of millions of our citizens who are now unemployed and who, in the circumstances, must continue to be unemployed for many months to come. The economic condition in which we find ourselves is too sustained and deeply seated to be met by pronouncements that it does not exist.

Let us face the truth – that we and the world are undergoing a major economic and business adjustment which is and will be both drastic and painful. These consequences will be particularly severe in the United States, because they will force many people to recede from the standards of living and expenditure attained during the past 14 years.

Some part of this condition is the natural consequence of the operation of basic economic laws which function with little regard for human legislation. A large part is due to mismanagement of our national affairs. A still larger part is due to a deliberately contrived and executed program which has as its object the impoverishment of the people of the United States.

The end of the World War found us with a greatly expanded industrial and credit structure, to large, by far for the requirements of our national needs as the latter existed before the beginning of the war period of abnormal consumption. It was clearly a time to halt and to analyze fundamental economic facts. We did not do this.

Rather we chose to proceed with our abnormal production and to stretch the limits of credit still further. War production and its profits had made Americans drunk with power, and ambition for more power. Luxuries developed in the disorganization of war became necessities with the reestablishment of peace.

The American peop0le entered upon a decade in which the whole structure of their lives was to be passed upon the principle of discounting the future. A vast system of installment credit sprang into life almost overnight, aided by the optimism of the Federal Reserve system. The automobile industry expanded more rapidly and to greater size than any industry had expanded in history.

The public was encouraged by advertising and propaganda to buy beyond its immediate means. Further industrial expansion was financed by the same expansion of credit which made installment buying possible. Consumption was expanded and financed upon the consumer’s promise to pay and production was expanded upon by capitalizing the producer’s hope that the consumer would keep that promise.

In the period between 1920 and the present time we experienced the full use and purpose of the credit machinery built up with the Federal Reserve system. It was but a logical development that anticipated profits should be capitalized as anticipated production and consumption had been capitalized – and that the Federal Reserve system should in turn finance tis capitalization of anticipated profits.

The entry of millions of Americans of moderate means into stock-market speculation [was] a natural consequence of the policy of expansion to which we had committed ourselves. It was also a logical development that the Federal Reserve should expand broker’s loans to make possible a huge inflation of the business of speculating in securities on margins.

All this brought the country to a point where the individual was living beyond his personal means, buying more than he could afford on his hope that he could afford to pay for it in the future and then speculating in the hope that he could make enough profit to pay his debts when they came due. In brief, the greater part of the American business structure was built upon the anticipated profits of next year’s pay checks.”

(Basis of Control of Economic Conditions, the Collective Speeches of Congressman Louis T. McFadden, Omni Press, 1970 pp. 64-66)

The War for Tariffs, Taxes and Astonishing Profits

The war commenced by Lincoln in 1861 immediately presented his administration with the problem of a conflict the United States could simply not afford. In April 1861, federal spending was only about $172,000 a day, raised by tariffs and land sales. By the end of July 1861, Lincoln had caused this to increase to $1 million, and by the end of December it was up to $1.5 million per day. Also in December 1861 Northern banks had to stop paying their debts in gold, with the federal government doing the same shortly after and resorting to printing money. The country had gone off the gold standard, Wall Street was in a panic, and Lincoln would lament, “The bottom is out of the tub, what shall I do?” The cost of the war would eventually reach $8 billion, enough to have purchased the freedom of every slave five times over – and provided each with the proverbial 40 acres, and the mule.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The War for Tariffs, Taxes and Astonishing Profits

“By May 1864 [financier Jay] Cooke was selling [Northern] war bonds so successfully that he was actually raising money as fast as the War Department could spend it, no mean feat for that was about $2 million a day at this point. Altogether, the North raised fully two-thirds of its revenues by selling bonds. If Abraham Lincoln must always be given the credit for saving the Union, there is also no doubt that the national debt was one of the most powerful tools at his disposal for forging victory.

Although the [Northern] people were willing to endure very high taxes during the war, peacetime was another matter altogether. Immediately after the war the cry for repeal of the wartime taxes became insistent. With military expenses quickly dropping, the problem, was what taxes to cut. American industrialists, who had prospered greatly thanks to wartime demand and wartime high tariffs, naturally did not want the tariffs cut.

Because the Civil War had broken the political power of the South, the center of opposition to the tariff, they got their way. The tariff was kept at rates far above the government’s need for revenue as the North industrialized at a furious pace in the last three decades of the nineteenth century and became the greatest – and most efficient – industrial power in the world.

Of course, no matter how large, efficient, and mature these industries became, they continued to demand [tariff] protection, and, thanks to their wealth and political power, get it.  As Professor William Graham Sumner of Yale explained as early as 1885, “The longer they live, the bigger babies they are.” It was only after the bitter dispute between Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick caused the astonishing profits of the privately held – and highly protected – Carnegie Steel Company to become public knowledge, in 1899, that the political coalition behind high tariffs began to crack.

Before the Civil War there had been little advocacy of an income tax in this country, at least at the federal level, although by the war six States had implemented such taxes for their own revenue purposes. But once a federal income tax was in place, thanks to the Civil War, it quickly acquired advocates, as political programs always do.

These advocates pushed the idea relentlessly . . . Republican Senator John Sherman . . . said during a debate on renewing the income tax in 1872, that “here we have in New York Mr. Astor with an income of millions derived from real estate . . . and we have along side of him a poor man receiving $1000 a year. [The law] is altogether against the poor man . . . yet we are afraid to tax Mr. Astor. Is there any justice in it? Why, sir, the income tax is the only one that tends to equalize these burdens between the rich and the poor.”

(Hamilton’s Blessing, John Steele Gordon, Penguin Books, 1997, pp. 79-83)

Reconstruction, the Most Shameful Period of Our History

The following is an excerpt from an 1892 address by Lt. Col. Alfred Moore Waddell to the Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina. He served as a United States Congress 1871-1879.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Reconstruction, the Most Shameful Period of Our History

“[Reconstruction] constitutes the one indelible and appalling disgrace of the American people — the one chapter of their history which contains no redeeming feature to relieve it from the endless execration of the civilized world.

A distinguished orator from a Northern State declared in Congress in 1872 that one-third of the boundaries of this Republic had been filled “with all the curses and calamities ever recorded in the annals of the worst governments known on the pages of history,” and attacking the [radical Republican] authors of these calamities, he exclaimed,

“From turret to foundation you tore down the governments of eleven States. You left not one stone upon another. You rent all their local laws and machinery into fragments, and trampled upon their ruins. Not a vestige of their former construction remained.”

And again he said:

“A more sweeping and universal exclusion from all the benefits, rights, trusts, honors, enjoyments, liberties, and control of government was never enacted against a whole people, without respect to age or sex, in the annals of the human race. The disgraceful disabilities imposed against the Jews for nearly eighteen hundred years by the blind and bigoted nations of the earth were never more complete or appalling.”

Those old enough to remember that most shameful period of our history will readily recall the degradation, the crimes against civilization, and the terrorism which then prevailed, and how, amidst the general dismay, the faint-hearted stood helpless and silent before the arbitrary and reckless power exercised over them.”

(The Life and Character of William L. Saunders, address to the Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina, Tuesday, May 31, 1892, Col. Alfred Moore Waddell of Wilmington)

The War Against Civilians

Lee’s grand army departed Gettysburg “dog-tired and hungry.” Poorly fed, they have existed on bread, berries and green apples with the horses eating only grass, and only after arriving at Culpepper did the men enjoy a cooked meal and the horses found loose corn. Of the battle at Gettysburg, Lee tells President Davis not to blame his men, that he alone is to blame “in perhaps expecting too much of [his army’s] prowess and valor.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The War Against Civilians

“August 4 [1863]: Culpepper civilians are apprehensive again. [General JEB] Stuart has not even enough men to protect them from the Federal raiders who seem to cross the Rappahannock at will. Sally Armstrong’s family is still plagued by the blue devils.

“Nothing but Yankees from morning to night,” she protested on July 29, “no signs of them leaving yet.” She hears of how horribly the Federals have been treating people in Fauquier County, and lives “in dread of having the infantry come over and pillage.” “Great anxiety we live in . . . our neighbors . . . have had almost every mouthful taken from them.”

[Nearby enemy regiments have] emboldened Culpepper slaves to dash toward Union lines all along the river, from Kelly’s Ford to Waterloo. On one evening alone, about forty “children of Ham,” as [the enemy commander] calls them, moved within his picket lines . . . . Many of the boys and men will be hired by Federal officers as body servants, although some officers refuse under any circumstances to hire “wretched niggers.”

Most have been mere field hands as slaves, complains one [Northern officer], and therefore are ignorant of the duties of a personal servant. “To this ignorance,” he elaborates, “must be added the natural laziness, lying, and dirt of the Negro, which surpasses anything an ordinary white man is capable of.” Not [all Northern troops] agree with this assessment . . . A member of the 20th New York Militia admires “the thousands” of contraband blacks laboring in [General] Meade’s camps as cooks, teamsters and servants . . . he informs his mother. He believes the blacks “as a class” exhibit more “native sense” than the majority of white Southerners.

[Meade] makes no move [and many sense] that Meade is not yet comfortable as the army’s commander. Word has it that he nearly gave up the fight at Gettysburg after the second day, and he now seems overly deliberate and cautious.

Meanwhile, Culpepper’s civilians hunker down. Captain Charles Francis Adams, Jr., commanding the Union picket force on the Hazel River . . . knows that these people hate him and his men, but he understands the reason. He has witnessed daily “acts of pillage and outrage on the poor and defenceless” that make his “hair stand on end,” and cause him to “loathe all war.” [His] Soldiers, usually under cover of darkness, break into homes, rifle closets and drawers, take what they like, and abuse and threaten their victims. Some citizens are too terrified to sleep.

“Poor Virginia!” laments Captain Adams. “Her fighting men have been slaughtered; her old men have been ruined; her women and children are starving and outraged; her servants have run away or been stolen; her fields have been desolated; her towns have been depopulated.”

“The horrors of war are not all to be found in the battle-field,” he laments, “and every army pillages and outrages to a terrible extent.”

“What shall I write for these times?” [Sally] asks her diary. “Yankees doing all conceivable wickedness.” “If God did not rule we would die in despair. He only can help us.”

(Seasons of War, The Ordeal of a Confederate Community, 1861-1865, Daniel E. Sutherland, LSU Press, 1995, excerpts, pp. 269-276)

War is Not Hell Unless a Devil Wages It

War is Not Hell Unless a Devil Wages It

“Petition to the Postmaster General by the Citizens of Texas:

We, the citizens of Huntsville, Tex., respectfully petition the Postmaster General to place on sale in this State no stamps or postal cards bearing the likeness of W.T. Sherman. We are loyal citizens, we love our country, we wish to forget the past differences and bitterness; but there are two things which no true Southerner will ever forget or cease to teach his children to remember. These are the deeds of W.T. Sherman and the period of Reconstruction.

There were enough brave and chivalrous Union generals in the Civil War to furnish subjects for stamps, and we object to the face of a ruffian who made war on women and children being placed among the faces or Washington, Franklin, Jefferson . . . and other honorable men and forced upon our children when we have done nothing to deserve insult.

Sherman observed the laws of civilized warfare only when he had a hostile army to fear. When Hood was defeated the people were helpless and defenseless, he set his bummers upon them and boasted of it. Union armies were not bad unless they had bad leaders. Among civilized people war is not hell unless a devil wages it.

If this man’s face is forced before us in this way, we shall be forced to teach in public those lessons in history which we teach by the fireside, even if those with goods to sell preach that all should be forgotten.

If W.T. Sherman’s face must be held up to view, send it to those who love his character and celebrate his victory in song, but not to those whose homes he robbed, whose daughters he insulted, whose sons he murdered, and whose cities and homes he burned.”

(Sherman’s Picture on US Postage Stamps, Confederate Veteran, June, 1911, pg. 272)

 

 

War of Conquest, Not Emancipation

Following the War Between the States, the freedmen were exploited by the infamous Union League to help ensure the election of Northern radical Republicans who exploited and bankrupted the exhausted South.  The emergence of the Ku Klan Klan was a predictable result.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

War of Conquest, Not Emancipation  

“Reconstruction” is a curious name to apply to the period following the war. Indeed, the war had left widespread destruction, but the government in Washington had no policy of reconstruction.  The South was left to its own economic devices, which largely amounted to being exploited by Northern interests who took advantage of cheap land, cheap labor, and readily available natural resources. This exploitation and neglect created an economic morass, the results of which endure into the twenty-first century.

Not surprisingly, governments based on the leadership of carpetbaggers, scalawags, and freedmen, groups that represented a minority of the population, met widespread and violent opposition. This attempt to create a government based on racial equality was made even more ludicrous when many of [the] Northern States rejected the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, creating a situation where the States that said they had worked to free the slaves failed to grant equality to people of color.

(Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Escort and Staff, Michael R. Bradley, Pelican Publishing Company,

The War to Create Many Large Fortunes

After the departure of conservative Southern congressmen in 1861, the old Whigs in the Republican party went unrestrained in their merger of government and corporations. Historian Charles Beard would later write of the War that it was not easy to tell “where slavery as an ethical question left off and economics – the struggle over the distribution of wealth – began.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The War to Create Many Large Fortunes

“As the election of 1872 approached, the tax and tariff issues were potent enough for [President Ulysses] Grant to take at least some action. Trying to shore up support among farmers and others, Congress approved a 10 percent reduction in tariffs on most items including cotton and wool textiles, iron, steel, paper, glass and other items. But these were baby steps with marginal impact, designed to preserve the whole protectionist system.

Throughout the assault on the [Civil War] income tax, opponents had considered the step of going to court to challenge the tax’s constitutionality. Some suits were filed, and parts of the tax were upheld by various courts, including the Supreme Court. But as the expiration of the tax approached, there did not seem to appear much sentiment in Congress to continue it anyway. Senator [John] Sherman [brother of General Sherman] fought once again to keep the tax alive. He asserted that one of the most solemn obligations of the federal government was to protect the property of Americans. It was therefore only proper “to require property to contribute to their payment.”

Sherman’s appeal was to no avail. Congress was more sensitive to the demands of the growing number of wealthy entrepreneurs, investors, and tycoons, who were at their moment of maximum influence. The power of the new wealthy rested on the newly consolidated railroads and the many large fortunes create by the Civil War.

The landscape of wealth had changed. Whereas New York City had had a handful of millionaires before the conflict, there were hundreds of millionaires afterward. Their fortunes were in the tens of millions of dollars. A.T. Stewart, the dry goods magnate, was worth $50 million, and other millionaires, such as William B. Astor, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the banker Moses Taylor, were not far behind.

Before Congress abolished the publication of income tax returns, it was reported that Astor had paid more than $1 million in income tax, while Vanderbilt and Taylor had paid more than $500,000. After the war, many millionaires routinely engaged in tax evasion or tricks to hide their income. What they did not bother to hide was their vast influence.

In 1869, Grant’s friend Jim Fisk worked with [Northern financier] Jay Gould to monopolize the market in gold, driving up its price so they could make a killing. Instead, on “Black Friday,” September 24, 1869, a collapse in gold prices engulfed a vast number of speculators and investors.

Fisk and Gould managed to bribe enough officials to avoid prosecution, and Fisk remained close to his trusting friends in the White House. Years later the Credit Mobilier scandal revealed that the construction company owned by stockholders of the Union Pacific Railroad had ensnared many prominent members of the Grant administration and Congress.

As tax the historian Sidney Ratner notes, the Civil War debt “became one of the most powerful instruments in America for the enrichment of the rentier class, the leading capitalists. For the next forty years, farmers, workers, small merchants and other working-class Americans carried this debt burden, to the benefit of the rich.”

(The Great Tax Wars, Lincoln to Wilson, Steven R. Weisman, Simon & Schuster, 2002, pp. 99-101)