Browsing "Myth of Saving the Union"

Confiscating Symbols of American Patrioitism

The graves of Raleigh’s Southern dead were not safe from Sherman’s army of thieves in 1865; the Northern commander of that city was no better as he ordered the graves removed lest the remains be thrown into the street. Also, anyone possessing symbols of the late Confederate States risked confiscation and arrest.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Confiscating Symbols of American Patriotism

“The Ladies Association of Wake County was formed in 1865, when it was necessary to remove from the grounds of Pettigrew Hospital the remains of the Confederate soldiers buried there. It was but a short while after the Federals took possession of Raleigh before the Mayor was notified that they admired the spot where rested the Confederate dead, and ordered that they be removed at once, or they would be thrown out in the country road.

A town meeting was called, and the association formed, [with] Mrs. [Gen.] L. O’B. Branch being made president . . . A resting-place was selected for the re-interment of the beloved dead, and, with the help of the young men and boys of the town, the work was successfully accomplished. The graves were comparatively few at first, but none were safe from Sherman’s “bummers,” as there were scarcely a new-made grave anywhere but what was opened by these men, in search of treasures; so it was a sacred trust, most religiously kept by the young men and women, to visit these graves almost daily to see that they were kept in order.

The association grew in numbers and the interest increased. Many Confederate dead from the country were moved to this spot, and the grounds were laid off and improved by [Sergeant] Hamilton, a soldier of the Confederate army who lost both eyes from a wound.

After the death of Gen. Jackson the 10th of May was selected as Memorial Day, when the citizens were to repair to the cemetery to participate in the services there. To raise funds to care for the Confederate dead and erect a monument to their memory, every legitimate means was resorted to by the association.

This was not done without risk, as it was reported that contraband articles were for sale, such as Confederate flags, a strand of General Lee’s hair, pictures of President Davis or any Confederate general: so there would be the sudden appearance of a bluecoat with orders to search the room for these contraband articles.”

(Women of North Carolina, Confederate Veteran Magazine, May 1898, page 227)

Governor Holden’s Corrupt Promised Land

After the military overthrow of North Carolina’s government in 1865, political opportunist and scalawag William W. Holden was appointed provisional governor by Northern President Andrew Johnson. An organizer of the Republican party in the State, Holden was elected governor in 1868 via election corruption and the disqualification of white voters. Holden biographer William C. Harris wrote: “Most contemporaries characterized Holden as a bitter, unscrupulous, and arrogant demagogue who frequently changed his political stripes to advance his own ambitions.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Governor Holden’s Corrupt Promised Land

“Governor Holden in his inaugural address laid down the doctrine that no part in government should be played by those who had opposed reconstruction. He then advocated and threatened the use of force by the State administration. These two ideas, with his defense of the carpetbaggers, were prophetic of the character of his administration, for it was bitterly partisan throughout, force was employed to uphold it, and it was entirely controlled by carpetbaggers.

With the one exception of John Pool, who was, throughout his administration, his evil genius, no one had any such upon him as was exerted by the corrupt gang of aliens who infested the State and surrounded him. All played on his ambition, and there lay his most fatal weakness. Into their hands he committed his future, believing that high national honors were soon to be his, and the result was not only disastrous to himself, but well-nigh ruinous to the State.

The first matter to receive the attention of the governor was, as was to be expected, the filling of such offices as lay within his gift. [The] governor busied himself with the appointments, keeping clearly in mind their political value, and taking care that the Negroes obtained their full share of these cheap honors.

The office of magistrate in North Carolina had always been one of honor and importance. It now became a by-word and a reproach. Governor Holden’s appointments were notoriously poor and, in the main, the white men appointed were not much more fitted to discharge the duties of the office than were the Negroes. Hundreds of them could not read or write and prisoners often had to make out the papers to which the justice laboriously affixed his mark. Much of the later trouble in the administration of justice was due to these ignorant and often corrupt appointees of the governor.

The towns next won the governor’s attention and, without any authority, he commenced the appointment of mayors and commissioners of the various towns of the State. The municipal officers of Raleigh refused to yield to the new [city] administration which was headed by the governor’s brother-in-law. The governor then telegraphed to General Canby for a military force to seat his appointees. The next day he wired for the necessary force to oust the sheriff of New Hanover who had also declined to recognize an appointee of the governor. The sheriffs of Granville, Randolph, and other counties refused to and in every case military force was employed.

It was not a favorable outlook for North Carolina, though the real evils of Reconstruction were scarcely dreamed of. The leaders of [Holden’s Republican] party were holding back until the presidential election should be won, when they would be safe from unfriendly interference by the national government. To that time they looked forward with more eagerness than any slave had ever hoped for freedom and with more longing than any weary Hebrew had ever felt for the Promised Land.”

(Reconstruction in North Carolina, Joseph G. deR. Hamilton, 1914, excerpts, pp. 343-349)

Historical Objectivity and Machines

Since the end of the war, the Southern historian’s view of the conflict was not considered objective unless “he accepts and proclaims the Northern (i.e., “national”) interpretation of Southern things.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Historical Objectivity and Machines

“Once, years ago, a Southern historian beckoned me aside and led me to a room . . . “Look,” he said. An enormous machine occupied about half the room, and a graduate assistant was feeding punch cards into it. With inhuman noise and precision, the machine was sorting the cards.

The historian closed the door upon the noise and, with a kind of Stonewall Jackson glint in his eye, explained. Documentation, he said – mere documentation – would never convince the North. Mere argument was futile.

But if he could say, in a footnote to his forthcoming publication, that the figures in his statistical tables had been achieved by the assistance of a card-sorting machine (he would carefully cite the machine’s name and model), then the Yankees might hearken to both his documentation and his argument.

The machine, a guarantee of his “objectivity,” would remove his work from the area of suspicion that a study originating in the South would normally occupy.”

(Still Rebels, Still Yankees, and Other Essays, Donald Davidson, LSU Press, 1957, pp. 180-181)

Lincoln’s Hessian Thieves

The father of the writer below, Dr. John D. Bellamy of Wilmington, sent his family 60 miles inland to refugee in safety from marauding Northern troops. Not only was his family terrorized by invading Northern “hirelings” in early 1865, but Dr. Bellamy’s home in Wilmington was occupied and looted after the fall of that city. His wife organized the local Soldiers Aid Society which cared for the wounded and produced clothing for Southern soldiers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln’s Hessian Thieves

“My [planter/physician] father had two sons in Virginia, in the [Confederate] Army and Navy, and the next one to go was I. So during the winters of 1863 and 1864, and the early part of 1865, although he shod his Negroes with good shoes, he made me, and also my younger brother, go barefoot during the winters. He said it would toughen and harden us, and that when my time to go to Virginia, I would be able to stand the exposure of the battle fields; and the result was that I never had, from that day to this, any serious illness – owing much of my longevity to this enforced practice in my rearing.

I can recollect, while going out in winters with my feet bare, in the snow and ice that I always went on the side of the fence where the sun shone through the cracks of the rails and melted the snow! It was warmer!

With great vividness I remember, also, how in March 1865, after Sherman had burned Columbia . . . General Francis P. Blair, of Sherman’s army, came with his corps, consisting of General Hickenlouper’s Brigade and other troops, through Robeson County, where we were refugeeing. The corps that came immediately around our home consisted of Germans or Hickenlouper’s Brigade, who could speak very little English, and German officers were in command.

They were hirelings of the United States Government to assist in fighting the South, very much as the Hessians were hired during the Revolutionary War.

It had been rumored that my father was a very wealthy man, and immediately the Hessians drew their steel ramrods out of their muskets, and began to pierce the ground all around our home and other places on the premises, to find what treasure they could unearth.

They found the silver my oldest sister had buried under the steps. They also discovered a valued deposit in which was my father’s valued diploma from Jefferson College, of the University of Pennsylvania. [The bummers] had gone through our home and cut open the locked bureau drawers with axes and stolen every valuable they could find . . . .

[An officer,] with three or four Germans, came into our home . . . and demanded that my mother give them the contents of her safe, which contained milk, butter and other food. Of course she had to comply! Immediately, they started to drink the milk, and remarked, “Mrs. Bellamy, is this milk poisoned?” So, my mother drank a cup of milk, before they would drink the remainder.

They left us without food and penniless for nearly a week, after the troops continued their march to Fayetteville and Wilmington and through Bentonville. [While] a boy, two bummers seized me, held me, and took off a nice pair of shoes, which I had put on to prevent them from being stolen! I was left in my stocking feet, in the cold rain, in the back yard! And that Yankee had my shoes!

[Someone told the Yankees of a] certain lady living in the neighborhood had money and jewels, which she had hidden in the mattress of her bed. [They] found her sick in bed [and] asked for her money and she denied having it. They pulled her out, raised up the mattress, found her valuables, and took them! As a punishment, they knocked in the top of a hogshead of molasses, which they found in her barn, and dipped her, head and all, into the barrel!

(Memoirs of an Octogenarian, John D. Bellamy, Jr., Observer Publishing, 1941, pp. 23-25)

Higher Law Treason

Many thought William H. Seward’s “higher law” speech treasonous as it claimed something that superseded the United States Constitution – the compact agreed to by all the States as the law of the land. In reality, the abolitionists who sought a separation from what they referred to as “a covenant with Hell,” and unstable theorists like Seward, were the disunionists in 1860.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Higher Law Treason

“[Future President] Franklin Pierce addressed a Union meeting in Manchester [New Hampshire] in November 1850. His speech reveals his true sentiments on the most important issue of his time. When several Baptist ministers “hissed” at his remarks in favor of the Union, Pierce responded that the “feeble demonstration of moral treason to the Union, to humanity, to the cause of civil liberty would disturb neither him nor the meeting.” He declared, “If we are precipitated into a war by fanaticism, we cannot conquer. Both sections of the country may be immolated. Neither could come out of the contest short of ruin.”

Pierce was consistent in believing the preservation of the Union was more important than any one issue. The New Hampshire Patriot reported Pierce’s speech: “Who did not deplore slavery? But what sound-thinking mind regarded that as the only evil which could rest upon the land? The [abolitionist] men who would dissolve the Union did not deplore slavery any more than he did . . . The resort to disunion as an experiment to get rid of a political evil, would be about as wise as if a man were to think of remedying a broken arm by cutting his head off.” Pierce closed with the shout, “The Union! Eternal Union!”

When Senator Seward of New York followed [Daniel] Webster’s [7 March 1850] speech with one in which he declared that there is a “higher law” than the Constitution and that God was opposed to slavery, the Patriot editorialized, “If Mr. Seward’s doctrine were to be endorsed by the people at large there would be an end not only of the Union but of every rational form of government”. . . Webster would later call the “higher law” doctrine “Treason, treason, treason!”

(Franklin Pierce: New Hampshire’s Favorite Son, Peter A. Wallner, Plaidswede Publishing, 2004, pp. 168-169)

High Treason Against South Carolina

In 1862, black pilot Robert Smalls intentionally delivered a ship to the fleet blockading Charleston and thus adhered to the enemy of his people and State – the very definition of treason in the US and CSA Constitutions. He gained further infamy by leading enemy forces through local waters, and encouraging black South Carolinians to desert their State and wage war against it as the British had done 88 years earlier. After the war and part of the corrupt Reconstruction government in South Carolina, State Congressman Smalls was convicted in 1877 of taking a $5000 bribe for the awarding of a State printing contract to a Republican crony.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

High Treason Against South Carolina

“On May 12, 1862, the small but fast shallow-draft steamer Planter was sent to Cole’s Island to take on board four guns that were there, with orders to transport them to Middle Ground Battery (Fort Ripley). Having loaded the guns, the Planter proceeded to the city; since it was late, she tied up at her usual berth at Southern Wharf. In spite of a general order stating that officers were to remain on board during the night, the captain, mate and engineer left the Planter in charge of the Negro crew under the command of Robert Smalls and returned to their homes. Smalls, a man of exceptional ability, planned to abscond with the Planter and turn her and the guns over to the [enemy] blockading fleet outside the harbor.

By the time anyone on [Fort] Sumter realized that anything was wrong, the Planter was out of range of the guns. Heading for the nearest blockade vessel, the USS Onward, Smalls lowered his two flags and ran up a white sheet. The captain of the Onward immediately brought his ship into position so that his port guns could be brought to bear on the oncoming Planter . . . as soon as the Planter came alongside she was boarded and the [United States] ensign raised. A crew was put aboard, and she went straight to Port Royal.  Smalls was praised by Du Pont for his part in the abduction of the Planter, and it was through the insistence of Du Pont that he and his crew received a share of the prize money. Smalls’ share amounted to $1500; the other crew members received less.

The [Planter’s] captain, mate and engineer were arrested and tried. The first two were found guilty, and the engineer was released because of insufficient evidence. The captain was sentenced to three months in prison and a fine or $500; the mate was to be imprisoned for one month and pay a fine of $100. Smalls was made a pilot by Du Pont. After the war he was elected to the State House of Representatives and then to the State Senate; later he became a United States congressman. A high school in Beaufort, South Carolina bears his name.”

(The Siege of Charleston, 1861-1865, E. Milby Burton, USC Press, 1970, pp. 94-97)

 

High Estimates of Yankee Shrewdness

The war itself was a profitable enterprise for the North as “life insurance in force tripled during the Civil War, and one company, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., targeted military men in particular. In 1865, the Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. began writing policies for those who did not qualify medically.” Northern business found vast profits even in the lives of their own soldiers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

High Estimates of Yankee Shrewdness

“Notorious as they are for the matter-of-course way in which they are wont to put off the ties of nature, they could yet grow eloquent when descanting on the brotherhood of all citizens, or the sisterhood of States. When first secession “reared its awful form” they called us “erring brethren” and “wayward sisters,” “rebellious brethren” and “estranged sisters,” “a little more than kin and less than kind,” and so on ran the gamut of appropriate epithets to their unfraternal relatives of the South.

Then they became still more affectionate as we became less fond, and next assumed the paternal type; Uncle Sam found out that his nieces were his own children; and imported citizens in Wisconsin and Minnesota mourned in High Dutch, and wept in lager beer, over the unfilial conduct of South Carolina and Georgia.

But the climax of sentimentality for the North and of insult to the South, was attained when the Yankee worked himself up to the amatory pitch and represented the union of States under the symbol of wedlock – the Northern States the bridegroom and the Southern the bride. We all remember how the fit idol of these modern Egyptians, their god Anubis, their chosen chief, Abraham Lincoln aired this comparison on his way to Washington, and how he enlivened the parallel by ribald allusions to Free Love and Elective Affinities.

[The] true standard bearers of the South – her statesmen and her thinkers – were never so much given to bursts of sympathy as the declamatory champions of the North; and now that the fiery trial of actual warfare has brought out the stamp of each nationality in clear outlines, no one should wonder that the Yankees have the monopoly of the sentimentality department; for sentiment is always idle, always selfish; real feeling alone is active and self-sacrificing.

Still we have too high an estimate of Yankee shrewdness to suppose that these displays of rhetoric are meant for any other ears than those of the groundlings; and the initiated have, no doubt, a far different idea of the real nature of the Union. They are not imposed on “by brotherhoods and sisterhoods, by the bonds of a common descent, a common language and a common history.” They too, take a business view of the connexion, and look upon the Union as a great Life Insurance Bubble. And how well they understand the workings of such institutions, our Southern policy-holders know to their cost.

The peculiar form of insurance company after which the Union, as they have it, was framed, is technically called a Tontine, and the brief exposition of the system is conveyed in the familiar regulation: “the longest liver takes all.” The Southern States, according to them, had so many inherent elements of weakness that they were to die out, and the North was to succeed by virtue of survivorship, to the rents of their less vigorous neighbours, and, meanwhile, by dexterous management in the board of directors, to cheat them out of any annuities which might be due. But the process of dying out was very slow. In short, it soon became evident that the “course of ultimate extinction” was very tardy, and it was deemed expedient to aid nature a little.

Wholesale murder – the last resort of Yankees as kings – is their present experiment…[but] the butcher’s business, as conducted by the Federal armies, does not pay. Our throats are not easily cut, and so far from letting them have the whole body of the Confederacy as the fee of their exertions we begrudge them even the “fifth quarter.”

(Soldier and Scholar, Basil L. Gildersleeve and the Civil War, Ward W. Briggs, Jr., editor, pp. 128-131)

 

Happy Forgetfulness

Author Robert Penn Warren writes below of “The Treasury of Virtue,” the psychological heritage left to the North by the War and the irrefutable basis of its long-serving Myth of Saving the Union. With his armies victorious the Northerner was free “to write history to suit his own deep needs . . . and knows, as everybody knows, that the war saved the Union.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Happy Forgetfulness

“When one is happy in forgetfulness, facts get forgotten. In the happy contemplation of the Treasury of Virtue it is forgotten that the Republican platform of 1860 pledged protection to the institution of slavery where it existed, and that the Republicans were ready, in 1861, to guarantee slavery in the South, as bait for a return to the Union.

It is forgotten that in July, 1861, both houses of Congress, by an almost unanimous vote, affirmed that the War was waged not to interfere with the institutions of any State but only to maintain the Union.

The War, in the words of the House resolution, should cease “as soon as these objects are accomplished.” It is forgotten that the Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 23, 1862, was limited and provisional: slavery was to be abolished only in the seceded States and only if they did not return to the Union before the first of the next January.

It is forgotten that the Proclamation was widely disapproved [in the North] and even contributed to the serious setbacks to Republican candidates for office in the subsequent election.

It is forgotten that, as Lincoln himself freely admitted, the Proclamation itself was of doubtful constitutional warrant and was forced by circumstances; that only after a bitter and prolonged struggle in Congress was the Thirteenth Amendment sent, as late as January, 1865, to the States for ratification; and that all of Lincoln’s genius as a horse trader (here the deal was Federal patronage swapped for Democratic votes) was needed to get Nevada admitted to Statehood, with its guaranteed support of the Amendment.

It is forgotten that even after the Fourteenth Amendment, not only Southern States, but Northern ones, refused to adopt Negro suffrage, and that Connecticut had formally rejected it a late as July, 1865.

It is forgotten that Sherman, and not only Sherman, was violently opposed to arming Negroes against white troops. It is forgotten that . . . racism was all too common in the liberating army. It is forgotten that only the failure of Northern volunteering overcame the powerful prejudice against accepting Negro troops, and allowed “Sambo’s Right to be Kilt,” — as the title of a contemporary song had it.

It is forgotten that racism and Abolitionism might, and often did, go hand in hand. This was true even in the most instructed circles [as James T. Ayers, clergyman, committed abolitionist and Northern recruiting officer for Negro troops confided to his diary] that freed Negroes would push North and “soon they will be in every whole and Corner, and the Bucks will be wanting to gallant our Daughters Round.” It is forgotten, in fact, that history is history.

Despite all this, the war appears, according to the doctrine of the Treasury of Virtue, as a consciously undertaken crusade so full of righteousness that there is enough oversurplus stored in Heaven, like the deeds of the saints, to take care of all small failings and oversights of the descendants of the crusaders, certainly unto the present generation. The crusaders themselves, back from the wars, seemed to feel that they had finished the work of virtue.

[Brooks Adams pronounced] “Can we look over the United States and honestly tell ourselves that all things are well within us?” [Adams] with his critical, unoptimistic mind, could not conceal it from himself, but many could; and a price was paid for the self delusion.

As Kenneth Stampp, an eminent Northern historian and the author of a corrosive interpretation of slavery, puts it: “The Yankees went to war animated by the highest ideals of the nineteenth-century middle classes . . . But what the Yankees achieved – for their generation at least – was a triumph not of middle class ideals but of middle class vices. The most striking products of their crusade were the shoddy aristocracy of the North and the ragged children of the South. Among the masses of Americans there were no victors, only the vanquished.”

(The Legacy of the Civil War, Robert Penn Warren, University of Nebraska Press, 1998, pp. 60-65)

Lincoln Follows Dunmore’s Proclamation

Though standard histories leave Lord Dunmore’s 1775 emancipation proclamation out of the story of that conflict, it is indeed true as related below, that Patrick Henry’s, Jefferson’s and George Washington’s slaves would have been emancipated if the revolution failed. Yet that war is viewed as a political and economic war, not a moral war.

Lincoln’s intent to encourage race war in the South was identical to Lord Dunmore’s intent to defeat the South. In 1814, Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane did the same to wreak havoc in the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Lincoln Follows Dunmore’s Proclamation

“The author [John Wilkes Booth, Francis Wilson] thinks in common with so many of his fellow countrymen, North and South, that the point at issue between the sections was a moral one rather than political and economic. The idea vitiates the value of his historical contribution. This almost universal misconception would be absurd or pathetic if it were not also tragic in its partisan representation of a great people. Would that history be were taught correctly, or the facts were set forth in proper proportion!

But alas for the story when he leans on others! For example, “The President [Johnson] now [1865] gave his attention to the Negro, for whose freedom, unquestionably, the war was fought.” Thus an incidental outcome of the conflict is herewith made the primary cause of strife!

It is to weep! Not merely because the admirable [author] says this, but because it is the pathetic delusion of millions of people.

If, in 1776, the British had won, the slaves of Washington, Mason, Henry and Jefferson would have been set free by virtue of Lord Dunmore’s proclamation of emancipation. But the Revolutionary struggle was not begun or waged on the issue of slavery, not to anybody’s present understanding. [Royal] Governor Dunmore was not concerned, primarily, with the freedom of the Negroes; he hoped that the promised freedom would handicap the rebellion against British authority.

President Lincoln freely admitted that his proclamation was “a war measure”; and he had been in favor of perpetuating, by Constitutional amendment, if need be, the “bonds of slavery” wherever it existed within the bounds of the United States. Such was the form of the Thirteenth Amendment as passed by a Northern Congress in 1861.

Why not believe Lincoln when he specifically said he was not waging the war to free the slave? Why not believe the testimony (now wholly lost sight of in the pathetic fallacy of the “moral” issue) of contemporary witnesses that the Northern armies would have melted away had any such idea been understood in 1861?”

General Grant held slaves. Lee was an emancipationist. A.W. Bradford was the Union Governor of Maryland in 1862-1864. He was a large slaveholder, while his neighbor, Bradley T. Johnson, a distinguished Confederate general, owned no slaves. Lincoln’s proclamation did not affect slavery in Maryland because slavery in Maryland was protected under the Union.”

(John Wilkes Booth, Francis Wilson, Houghton-Mifflin. Reviewed by Matthew Page Andrews, Confederate Veteran, April 1929, page 129)

Propaganda Sustaining the War Effort

Of German and English parentage, Lincoln’s chief of staff Henry W. Halleck married the granddaughter of Alexander Hamilton and in early 1861 was worth $500,000 from a career in railroads and banking. He predicted that the North “will become ultra anti-slavery, and I fear, in the course of the war will declare for emancipation and thus add the horrors of a servile war to that of a civil war.” While Halleck directed the propaganda war and often withheld casualty figures from the Northern press, William H. Seward scoured Europe for mercenaries to fight against Americans struggling for independence.

 

Propaganda Sustaining the War Effort

“Politically, Old Brains served Lincoln well. When the President decided to fire a general he had Halleck sign the order; thus the general’s supporters blamed Halleck for the dismissal. Lincoln liked to assume a pose of weakness and simplicity and to give the impression that others were controlling him. When friends enquired about a military move, Lincoln would say, “I wish not to control. That I now leave to General Halleck,” or “You must call on General Halleck, who commands.”

To Horatio G. Wright, commander of the [Northern] garrison at Louisville, Kentucky, Halleck clarified the issue: “The Government seems determined to apply the guillotine to all unsuccessful generals.” Ruefully he added: “It seems rather hard to do this where a general is not in fault, but perhaps with us now, as in the French revolution some harsh measures are required.” Halleck’s realization demonstrated his growing insight of the necessary interrelation of war and politics in a democracy.

[Halleck] struggled for efficiency against [an] entrenched and powerful enemy, the [Republican] politicians, who wanted to include the army in the spoils system.

Writing to a civilian who was active in army reforms, Francis Lieber, Halleck expressed a fear that the governors would build up a “northern States rights party that would eventually overpower all Federal authority.” He had cautioned Lincoln, but “no heed [was] given to the warning,” and now “approaching danger is already visible.”

Since the North was in legalistic confusion during the war, there were other areas where Halleck needed [Prussian liberal Francis Lieber]. The government’s official policy that the Southern States had not withdrawn from the Union, meant that the Confederate armies were mere rebellious mobs and were therefore not protected by established rules of civilized warfare.

But Union generals could not slaughter every captured Confederate, or their own men would receive similar treatment when they were seized. The Northern populace needed a heavy diet of propaganda to sustain their fighting spirit and the government had to cater to them. The Confederacy’s inadequate prison camps . . . were the soup de jour on the propagandists’ menu.

Halleck contributed his share of atrocity stories. In his annual report for 1863, he said that the North treated Rebel prisoners with “consideration and kindness,” while the Confederates stripped Union officers of blankets, shoes even in winter, confined them in “damp and loathsome prisons,” fed them on “damaged provisions, or actually starved [them] to death.”

Others were murdered “by their inhuman keepers,” and the “horrors of Belle Isle and Libby Prison exceed even those of “British [floating prison] Hulks” or the “Black Hole of Calcutta.” Southerners [he claimed] applauded these “barbarous” acts as a “means of reducing the Yankee rank.” Laws of war justified retaliation and the “present case seems to call for the exercise of this extreme right,” he concluded.

[Halleck’s] General Orders No. 100 were entitled] “Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field,” [and] Southerners denounced it for legalizing crime [committed by Northern forces]. [Lieber, like Clausewitz] believed that total war could not and should not be limited [and] said that restrictions on violence – such as General Orders 100 – were “hardly worth mentioning.”

(Halleck, Lincoln’s Chief of Staff, Stephen E. Ambrose, LSU Press, 1990 (original 1962), pp. 65; 88; 102; 104; 128-131)

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