Browsing "Myth of Saving the Union"

They Have Made a Nation

The Radical Republicans in Washington “were annoyed and offended because Europe ventured to pronounce the condition of affairs in North America to be a state of war, which they affirmed to be only an insurrection.” The South, as the Radicals and some War Democrats saw it, was engaged in domestic insurrection inflamed by insurgents rather than forming a more perfect union with the consent of the governed.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

They Have Made a Nation

[Earl Russell said at Newcastle], “But I cannot help asking myself frequently, as I trace the progress of the contest, to what good end can it tend? Supposing the contest to end in the reunion of the different States; supposing that the South should agree to enter again the Federal Union with all the rights guaranteed to her by the Constitution, should we not then have debated over again the fatal question of slavery?

But, on the other hand, supposing that the Federal Government completely conquer and subdue the Southern States – supposing that be the result after a long, military conflict and some years of Civil War – would not the national prosperity of that country be destroyed?

If such are the unhappy results which alone can be looked forward to from the reunion of these different parts of the North American States, is it not then our duty…is it not the duty of men who wish to preserve to perpetuity the sacred inheritance of liberty, to endeavour to see whether this sanguinary conflict cannot be put to an end?

In a speech delivered in the House of Lords, February 5th, 1863, Earl Russell said: — “There is one thing, however, which I think may be the result of the struggle, and which, to my mind, would be a great calamity – that is, the subjugation of the South by the North . . . ”

Mr. W.E. Gladstone, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said in a public speech at Newcastle, October 7, 1862: — “We may have our own opinions about slavery; we may be for or against the South; but there is no doubt that Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the South have made an army. They are making, it appears, a navy, and they have made what is more than either – they have made a nation. (Loud cheers.) . . . We may anticipate with certainty the success of the Southern States so far as regards their separation from the North. (Hear, hear.) . . . ”

[Mr. Gladstone stated in the House of Commons on 30 June 1863] . . . Why, sir, we must desire a cessation of the war . . . We do not believe that the restoration of the American Union by force is attainable. I believe that the opinion of this country is unanimous upon that subject . . . .[and] believe that the public opinion of this country bears very strongly on another matter . . . whether the emancipation of the negro race is an object that can be legitimately pursued by means of coercion and bloodshed . . . I do not believe that a more fatal error was ever committed than when men – of high intelligence I grant . . . came to the conclusion that the emancipation of the negro was to be sought, although they could only travel to it by a sea of blood. I do not think there is any real or serious ground for doubt as to the issue of this contest.”

(The Secret Service of the Confederate States in Europe, James D. Bulloch, Volume II, Sagamore Press, 1959, pp. 359-361)

The Myth of the Saved Union

Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward admitted that Southerners were free to leave the Union, abandon their land and live elsewhere. Many Northerners wanted to drive the Southern people out and repopulate the section with New England-style government, customs and schools.

The following is excerpted from a speech and letter of Massachusetts Congressman George B. Loring, delivered April 26, 1865. Loring was a prewar abolitionist and reformer who realized that if the freedmen were not brought into the Republican party through the infamous Union League, New England’s political domination was in peril. While feigning justice toward the black race, those like Loring clamped chains upon the South. Ironically, Loring seems unaware that it was Massachusetts threatening secession several times in the early 1800s, though he condemns the South for following his State’s example.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Myth of the Saved Union 

“I know I used a strong expression when I said we must beware of clemency [toward the defeated South and] accord strict justice to those who have taken up arms against our government? Shall we restore them to the fullness of their former rights? Never.

They have taken their chances, and now let them abide by the result. (Great applause). They have declared that they were independent, now let them remain independent. (Applause). The world is wide, and all lands, and all oceans, and the islands of the sea are open to receive them. (Applause – amen). Some of them have taken care to provide the necessary comforts for their journey. (Laughter).

And what a contrast we have before us – your eulogized and sainted President, known through all the world as the friend of freedom and a free government, who has written his name among the stars – and his opponent, [Jefferson Davis] flying in the darkness before an indignant people, branded and despised, bearing his ill-gotten treasure if possible to that safety which a foreign land alone can give him, an outlaw and fugitive. What a contrast – the one a martyr in heaven – the other a felon sunk to the lowest pit of infamy on earth.

I insist upon it that it is impossible to treat with traitors who have taken up arms against this government, for the express purpose of blasting it and all the hopes of freedom with it. We cannot restore our government in this way. I feel it to be impossible, and would never agree to the restoration of the old State organizations among the revolted States, or to any State government s manufactured for the occasion.

So I say of all the States which have destroyed their “practical relations” to the general government by rebellion. When all the citizens of a State reach that point at which they are ready to return, upon the basis of government which the war has made for us all, let them return. But not until this is accomplished – not until the institutions of these States conform to the highest civilization of the land – would I place them on equality with the loyal States.

Until this is done how can members of Congress be returned, whose principles shall render them fit to sit by the side of men from Massachusetts? (Great applause. Hurrah).

No oath of allegiance can purify them [prominent Confederate leaders who had once held high elective or appointive federal offices]. Our country – the civilized world, does not want their counsels. Their return would be an eternal disgrace to us.

Now, what is there on the other side? It is simply this. I would hold all the revolted States by the power of the Federal authority, — that power which we have strengthened and confirmed by this war. The first gun fired at Sumter . . . dispelled forever all the fallacies and sophistries accumulated for years under the names of State Rights and State Sovereignty.

I do not mean any invasion of the legitimate rights of a State, — but of that superlative folly which has been represented by the flag of South Carolina and the sacred soil of Virginia.

The Federal authority has now become powerful, and is the supreme power in the land. When the revolted States are ready to recognize that authority, when they are ready to bear their proportion of the national debt, when they are ready to make common cause with the loyal North in their systems of education and laws and religion, when their citizens are ready to sacrifice their lives in support of the Union as the North has done for the last four years, then and not till then would I allow them to return.

It has been said that the great contest has been between Massachusetts and South Carolina. BE it so. And as Massachusetts has carried the day, I would have South Carolina submit wisely and gracefully to the consequences of the defeat. (Applause and hurrahs.)

Let us see then, if we cannot adopt some system by which our schools, and all our institutions be planted and nurtured upon their soil. I think we can. I think the American people are equal to this issue, and that they will never be satisfied until the Federal arm is stretched over the revolted States, holding them firmly in obedience, in its powerful grasp, until they shall have learned the lesson of freedom, which the North has furnished them.

And during this period of pupilage [of the South] let us exercise such military sway as will secure the great objects of the war.

(Dr. George B. Loring, Speech and Letter, The Radical Republicans and Reconstruction, 1861-1870, Harold Hyman, editor, Bobbs-Merrill, 1967, pp. 234-237)

 

Lincoln's Army of Roughs and Jailbirds

The Hampton area of Virginia was evacuated by Gen. John B. Magruder’s forces in early August 1861; the region had become unstable after the enemy seized property and slaves, and by late July the Hampton-Fortress Monroe area had nearly 1000 blacks seized during enemy raids on upriver plantations. The intention was identical to Lord Dunmore’s in 1775 – deny Virginia its agricultural workers and arm them against their former owners.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Army of Roughs and Jailbirds

“On Monday, May 27 [1861] . . . soon after breakfast, several boats were seen loaded with [Yankee] troops going up the river and being so near the land, it was apparent they intended to land at the wharves. One can imagine the great excitement created by the sight of the troops. War seemed to have come in the midst of perfect peace.

Very soon after, a squad of marines came to the house and advised father to go and ask protection of the commanding officer, who turned out to be General [Northcott] Phelps. They said many of the soldiers were the rough and jailbirds of Boston and would steal and destroy everything unless it was guarded.

General Phelps was the colonel of the 1st Vermont (Regiment) but on account of his West Point training had been made brigadier-general . . . There were three regiments landed: the 7th New York, all Germans, were stationed next to our house, all on our land; the 1st Vermont, and the Massachusetts, next to Captain Wilbern’s.

In order to conciliate the guard, we furnished them with food, but they were very suspicious, and I usually had to eat some of it to show that it was not poisoned.

Tuesday afternoon I went over to the [enemy] camp . . . and witnessed something of what war was. It seemed that the colonel of the Massachusetts Regiment was very mad because Phelps had been promoted over him and for this reason perhaps had given passes to a great many of his men to go out of the lines . . . At any rate, a large number had gone out of camp and plundered the whole neighborhood.

They seemed to have stripped the farms and houses of everything conceivable. I learned afterwards that the thieves, finding that they would be arrested, had left most of the plunder in the thickets outside the pickets, all of which was brought into camp, in the night.

As only two of the Vermonters were arrested, and very few of the Germans, the Massachusetts Regiment became very indignant and made many threats. I now saw what a soldier would do if unrestrained and in what he conceived an enemy’s country . . . there was fear of mutiny, for we were informed by our guard that the Vermont Regiment was expecting an attack, and if we heard any firing we would know it was between them and the Massachusetts Regiment.

The Negroes had not tried to protect anything from the pillaging of the soldiers . . . What furniture or other things they wanted had been carried away by them. A small safe that father had used in his store in Hampton . . . had been taken out in the yard and broken open. The valuables were all stolen and books and papers scattered about the yard.”

(When the Yankees Came, Civil War and Reconstruction on the Virginia Peninsula, George Benjamin West, Park Rouse, Jr., editor, The Dietz Press, 1977, excerpts, pp. 47-50)

Two Cultures of 1860 America

A twenty-two year old Virginian in 1861, George Benjamin West wrote his memoirs of the war thirty years after the war. He noted during his State’s early occupation by the enemy the prevalence of German rather than American soldiers in blue – and the same in 1865 as he rode through occupied Richmond. His observations reveal two distinct cultures in the United States of 1860.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Two Cultures of 1860 America

“Our servants stayed with us several weeks [after the capitulation]. I intended to get a parole, but father insisted that I could go about much freer and would not be subjected to so many interruptions by the guards around Old Point if I took the oath.

I went up to take the oath, and General Joseph R. Anderson, CSA, of the Tredegar Iron Works, a splendid looking man and soldier, was ahead of me, and I heard the questions asked him, and saw the manner of the (Federal) lieutenant, who felt his importance, and I became so indignant with the lieutenant and sorry for the general that when my time came I did not feel the humiliation and shame I expected.

Look around at the sight now. No people ever recuperated in such a short time. This whole section soon became a garden spot, and though most of the people had to lose even their land for security debts (often for the hire of slaves before the war), yet though not accustomed and often not really able to work, they made the best of the situation and determined if possible to start in life again and show the Yankees that they could live without their aid, and even without slaves or property.

I think the South believed that the North opposed slavery not so much because of their [abolitionists’] love for humanity as they pretended but because they were envious of the prosperity of the South and hated the aristocracy because they knew they were superior, and felt that their own mean pecuniary dealings and money-making propensity was condemned.

The South did not try to make money because money was the means by which they could elevate themselves, because they looked more to a man’s character and behavior than to his bank account.

The North had to work harder and live more economically to get along, and probably on this account they would take advantages and do little mean tricks which were looked upon by us as wanting in honor and honesty, and gentlemanly instincts.

The better classes of the North never visited the South, nor were the Southern people anxious to mingle with them at the North, so we grew wider apart every year. They hating and envying us more and more, and we looked down upon them.”

(When the Yankees Came, Civil War and Reconstruction on the Virginia Peninsula, George Benjamin West, Park Rouse, Jr., editor, The Dietz Press, 1977, pp. 97-98)

Andrew Jackson's Pernicious Doctrine

Andrew Jackson may have been another “fire-bell in the night” warning to Americans of presidential power in the hands of someone with independent views of their authority. The grave of Jefferson was barely cold before the Founders’ barriers to democracy had eroded and presidential power predictably increased under vain men; another twenty-eight years beyond Jackson’s Force Bill found a new American republic forming at Montgomery, Alabama.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Andrew Jackson’s Pernicious Doctrine

“But when it came right down to the legality of nullifying the Tariff Acts of 1828 and 1832 [Senator John] Tyler was far less sure of himself. What he attempted to do was discover and occupy a middle ground on an issue which had no detectable middle. On one extreme of the question Calhoun maintained the legality of both nullification and secession and the unconstitutionality of Jackson’s Force Bill.

[Daniel] Webster, on the other hand, consistently upheld the illegality of secession and nullification and argued the propriety of using force in the circumstance. Tyler upheld the right of secession while denying the right of nullification. But he also denied the right of the federal government to employ force against nullification when it occurred.

Even firm States’ rights Virginians like St. George Tucker could not accept this peculiar dichotomy in Tyler’s thinking. It was a question of either submitting or seceding, and since South Carolina had not seceded, the federal government had no alternative but to compel the State to comply with federal legislation.

. . . Tyler informed Virginia’s Governor John Floyd on January 16, the day Jackson asked for a congressional authorization of force, that:

“If S. Carolina be put down, then may each of the States yield all pretensions to sovereignty. We have a consolidated govt. and a master will soon arise. This is inevitable. How idle to talk of me serving a republic for any length of time, with an uncontrolled power over the military, exercised at pleasure by the President . . . What interest is safe if the unbridled will of the majority is to have sway?”

By February 2 Tyler had warmed further to the theme that General Jackson was seeking to establish a military dictatorship in American. The old 1819 vision of the Man on Horseback returned. “Were men ever so deceived as we have been . . . in Jackson?” He asked Littleton Tazewell. “His proclamation has swept away all the barriers of the Constitution, and given us, in place of the Federal government, under which we fondly believed we were living, a consolidated military despotism . . . I tremble for South Carolina. The war-cry is up, rely upon it . . . The boast is that the President, by stamping like another Pompey on the earth, can raise a hundred thousand men.”

A few days later, on February 6, 1833, Tyler delivered his Senate speech against the Force Bill.

“Everything, Mr. President, is running into nationality. The government was created by the States, and may be destroyed by the States; yet we are told this is not a government of the States . . . The very terms employed in the Constitution indicate the true character of the government. The pernicious doctrine that this is a national and not a Federal Government, has received countenance from the late proclamation and message of the President.

The people are regarded as one mass, and the States as constituting one nation. I desire to know when this chemical process occurred . . . such doctrines would convert the States into mere petty corporations, provinces of one consolidated government. These principles give to this government authority to veto all State laws, not merely by Act of Congress, but by the sword and bayonet.

They would pace the President at the head of the regular army in array against the States, and the sword and cannon would come to be the common arbiter . . . to arm him with military power is to give him the authority to crush South Carolina, should she adopt secession.”

(And Tyler Too. A Biography of John and Julia Gardiner Tyler, Robert Seager, II, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1963, pp. 92-93)

 

Lincoln's Beast in New Orleans

Contemplating victory at New Orleans some 50 years prior, the British commander announced that his forces had come to “restore order, maintain public tranquility, and enforce peace and quiet under His Majesty’s laws.” The secessionists of that day were required to surrender their arms and suppress all flags except those of England. Full protection of person and property was held out to all who would renew the oath of allegiance to the British Crown and the band would play “Rule Britannia.” 

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa 1865.com

 

Lincoln’s Beast in New Orleans

“When the army transport Mississippi at noon on May 1 [1862] tied up to the wharf at the foot of Poydras Street, the New York Times correspondent on board reported:

 “I saw several instances of the bitter spirit of the rabble, and even of people whom one might have taken from their appearance to be respectable. The levee, for the whole length of the river front of the city, was constantly crowded by a turbulent throng and whenever a boat belonging to the fleet passed them, its occupants were jeered and hooted at . . . This wall of human beings stood there as enemies to bar our entry to the city.”

As the soldiers were disembarking, angry citizens had to be held back at point of bayonet. Voices from the mob called out “Picayune Butler,” “You’ll never see home again.” “Hallo, epaulets, lend us a picayune.”

 The picayune, Louisiana’s smallest coin in colonial days, had recently achieved minstrel-show fame in a jocular song about “the arrival of a mythical Picayune Butler at a mythical town for mythical purposes. General Butler, in his stateroom, hearing the outcries for “Picayune Butler,” paused in the composition of his proclamation to the citizens of New Orleans long enough to inquire if any of the bands could play the tune. As the music was unavailable, “Yankee Doodle” and “The Star Spangled Banner” were played instead.

At 5PM, Butler began his march through the downtown section of the city to the Custom House [with Massachusetts and Wisconsin troops]. Crowds on the pavements craned their necks. Here and there a throat screamed: “Where is the damned rascal?” “There he goes, God damn him!” “I see the old damned villain!” Others taunted the Federals with “Shiloh!” “Bull Run!” “Hurrah for Beauregard!” “Go home, you damned Yankees!”  

In his proclamation to the citizens of New Orleans Butler emphasized the peaceful intention behind the mailed fist. There would be martial law, but only for so long as it might be necessary, since the United States forces had come to “restore order, maintain public tranquility, and enforce peace and quiet under the laws and constitution of the United States.”

Secessionists were required to surrender their arms and suppress all flags except those of the United States. Full protection of person and property was held out to all who would renew the oath of allegiance.

Mayor John T. Monroe, summoned on May 2, made his way to [Butler’s headquarters] through packed, sullen streets and was received in the . . . Ladies Parlor.  Monroe, remembering Butler as a fellow Democrat in prewar days, greeted the General as “always a friend of the South.”

“Stop sir,” Butler interrupted, “Let me set you right on that point at once. I was always a friend of Southern rights but an enemy of Southern wrongs.”

The interview was interrupted by loud shouts in the streets of “hang the traitor,” and an aide rushed in. “General Williams orders me to say that he fears he may not be able to control the mob.”  “Give me compliments to General Williams,” directed Butler, “and tell him, if he finds he cannot control the mob, to open upon them with artillery.”

[Butler’s wife] Sarah Butler relished the experience, and described it to her sister:

“And what do you think about being among the first to enter New Orleans . . . Mr. Butler ordering the opening of the St. Charles, compelling a hackman at the point of a bayonet to drive us to the Hotel. We had no guard but an armed soldier on the box and another behind the carriage. A regiment was drawn up around the hotel and four howitzers on the corners. The band was stationed on the piazza, and they played with fiery energy all the national airs from Yankee Doodle to the Star Spangled Banner.” 

[Butler stated] . . . “if a shot is fired from any house, that house will never again cover a mortal’s head; and if I can discover the perpetrator of the deed, the place that now knows him shall know him no more forever. I have the power to suppress this unruly element in your midst, and I mean to use it.”

(Lincoln’s Scapegoat General, A Life of General Benjamin F. Butler, Richard West, Jr., Houghton Mifflin, 1965, pp. 131-135)

 

Freedmen Intoxicated with the Idea of Power

Not content with devastating the American South and destroying its political power, the vindictive Radicals in Washington considered the conquered States as mere territories to be ruled by Northern proconsuls. To establish a veneer of democracy, blacks were herded to the polls by the notorious Union League to elect Northern men; the freedmen were instructed to burn the barns and homes of white citizens to keep them from the polls.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Freedmen Intoxicated With the Idea of Power

“It was to The Shrubs, the home of his former classmate, Judge Thomas M. Dawkins of Union [county], that Governor McGrath moved the State Capitol with the officials and archives just before General Sherman reached Columbia. There daily reports were received of the burning of Columbia, the position of Sherman’s and Cheatham’s armies, and finally the surrender of Lee and the flight of Jefferson Davis through Union.

In her diary Mrs. Dawkins wrote: “Young people were hopeful to the last so when soldiers were with us, music, dancing, charades, etc., made many enjoyable evenings never to be forgotten. There was a bon ami, a comradeship born of the situation very fascinating and rare.”

After surrender Mrs. Dawkins wrote, “We had 11 servants in the yard, and many of them were there. I said “I have told you, you are free and of course can leave at any time but would rather you wait and let us settle you comfortably.”

My seamstress Milly was Abraham Dogan’s wife, the carriage driver. He became a member of the Legislature. It was with difficulty we could get them to move out of the yard.

Finally in January 1866 Judge Dawkins hired for them a house and settled them with pig provisions, but poor ignorant creatures, they were intoxicated with the idea of power, and always fond of idleness began to steal and destroy property. Scarcely a night without burning. There was no redress, no law, and the Ku Klux Klan was formed to frighten the Negroes, so sensational superstition — all done to this point – masks, coffins, etc. This was done as patiently as possible for 10 years from 1866 to 1876. Then our hero, General Hampton came forward to help us.”

Thus Mrs. Dawkins, born in England, an imported schoolteacher from the North, married to a member of the aristocracy in Union [county], spoke to future generations through her diary of the tensions and problems of a tragic episode in American history.”

(Plantation Heritage in Upcountry, South Carolina, Kenneth and Blanche Marsh, Biltmore Press, 1965, page 107)

Not Knowing What Free Government Was

In 1876, the anti-Catholic Senator James G. Blaine of Maine introduced an amendment to the Constitution that would prevent States from establishing an official religion, especially Catholicism. Blaine regularly expressed hatred toward the South and was notorious for his “bloody shirt” tirades in Congress. His proposed amendment failed to muster sufficient votes after a Senator from Kentucky explained free government to Blaine.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Not Knowing What Free Government Was

“[Proposed] Article XVI:  No STATE shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under any State.”

Mr. Randolph, of New Jersey said: “The amendment proposed by the Judiciary Committee is an altogether different affair from that the people have asked for or the press discussed. It opens, if adopted, many grave questions . . . I can take no part in any such legislation, save to attempt to prevent it.”

Mr. Kernan, of New York said:  “I ask the attention of Senators to the leading principle or idea which the wise men who framed the Constitution of the United States followed in framing it. The framers . . . believed . . . that it was wiser and better that the people of the several States should reserve to themselves and exercise all those powers of government which related to home rights, if I may use that term, to the internal affairs of the State, to the regulating of domestic relations . . . in a word, that the people of each State should have the exclusive power to manage their local and internal affairs as they thought best for their own happiness and prosperity.

I think all experience shows how wise this was and is. I will answer frankly that I believe that the matter of educating children may be wisely left to the people of each State.  [This amendment] in my judgment, instead of allaying strife and dissention, it will increase them and bring evil to our schools, to our institutions, and to the people of our country.

Mr. Whyte, of Maryland said: “[T]he first amendment to the Constitution prevents the establishment of religion by congressional enactment; it prohibits the interference of Congress with the free exercise thereof, and leaves the whole power for the propagation of [religion] with the States exclusively . . .”

Mr. Stevenson, of Kentucky said: “While I impugn no man’s motives here, a religious discussion, appealing to passions which do not in my judgment belong to a deliberative body . . . seems to be out of taste, and to be accompanied by no practical good.  Friend as he was of religious freedom, [Jefferson] would never have consented that the States which brought the Constitution into existence, upon whose sovereignty this instrument rests . . . should be degraded and that the government of the United States, a government of limited authority, a mere agent of the States with proscribed powers, should undertake to take possession of their schools and of their religion; and had the speech of the honorable Senator . . . been uttered before Mr. Jefferson, he would have told him that he did not know what free government was.

No sir; this power is not in the Federal Government. Kentucky does not want New England and other States to dictate to her what her schools shall be or what her taxes shall be, and least of all what her religion shall be . . . But when you undertake to bring to the Federal Government the power of making the States hewers of wood and drawers of water you destroy the whole foundation-stone upon which this government was reared and upon which only it can be preserved.”

(Appleton’s Annual Cyclopedia, 1876, US Congress, D. Appleton & Company, 1881, pp.176-180)

 

Georgia Boys Hundreds of Miles from Home

The year 1862 ended with great loss on both sides; the carnage at Fredericksburg should have convinced a sane Northern leader that the human cost of his war upon the South was not worth the ever-increasing casualty lists. By mid-year Lincoln was told that enlistments had virtually ceased and that only forced conscription could fill his armies fighting against poorly-armed and supplied Southern men who were fighting for their homes and political independence. In the fighting [below] at Seven Days’, twenty-five Athens, Georgia men were killed at the Seven Days’ battle.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Georgia Boys Hundreds of Miles from Home

“General Robert E. Lee, now in command of the entire force defending Richmond, set June 26 [1862] as the day for a great attack to drive the enemy from the area. Suddenly, in mid-afternoon there came the crashing sounds of war. Many thousands of Confederate soldiers crossed the Chickahominy [river], advancing eastward toward the village of Mechanicsville, driving the enemy steadily before them.

It was after four o’clock in the afternoon before Captain Samuel Lumpkin led the Johnson Guards across the Chickahominy . . . [and] Scarcely had they crossed before a group of civilian horsemen appeared . . . it was President [Jefferson] Davis, trying as ever to get nearer the center of action.

Lumpkin’s men hurried toward Mechanicsville with their regiment . . . exposed on open ground to the raking fire from the heights beyond. Some found cover, others could only protect themselves by lying down prone. There was no chance for a direct assault on the Federal lines, and the Southern commanders could only hope to flank the Union left. The Forty-fourth Georgia, that included the Johnson Guards, was given the task . . . in the face of the concentrated fire of Federal muskets that poured bullets into them from the easiest point-blank range.

The Georgia lines were shattered, and the attack utterly crushed. Of the five hundred men of the Forty-fourth Regiment that entered the battle, less than fifty escaped unharmed; nine-tenths of the command were shot or captured. Of the three hundred Georgians that lay dead in the tangled swamp of Beaver Dam Creek, eleven were country boys from the Watkinsville area, shot dead on their first day of battle, hundreds of miles from home.

On the following days the Confederate command, rallying all along the line, regained the initiative it had lost at Beaver Dam Creek. At Gaines’ Mill, Savage Station, and Frayser’s Farm, in one bitter battle after another, the enemy was gradually pushed back from the gates of Richmond.

In the early morning hours of July 1, the war once again caught up with the Johnson Guards, when the weary survivors of Ripley’s Brigade were thrown into the attack against the hill. Before the day was over, the six other Clarke County companies were joined in the fight, all occupying the same battle line. The old Athens Guards [of Capt. Henry C. Billups] and [Capt. Isaac S. Vincent’s] Clarke [County] Rifles, now merely companies “K” and “L” in the regiment of [Ambrose] R. Wright’s Brigade, were on hand. So were Captain William S. Grady’s Highland Guards, of Robert Ransom’s Brigade, and the three Athens companies of Tom Cobb’s Legion, of his brother Howell’s Brigade.

At one time, all the Athens companies were on the move simultaneously in the Army’s desperate attempt to make headway up the murderous slope. But the onslaught was useless; the defensive positions were too strong, and he attackers were driven back with great loss. As night came on, the Federals still held the hill. When the artillery of both sides finally ceased firing at ten o’clock that night, only the agonized cries of the wounded and the dying could be heard from the hillside.

At daylight the following morning, Wright’s Brigade of Georgians was one of only two Confederate commands that had not been swept off the hill. As the men of the Athens Guard and Clarke Rifles looked up the slope, the only soldiers they could see were the writhing wounded and the shattered bodies of the dead. Eleven of their comrades had been killed.

Out of sight, behind the crest of the hill, a Federal force of cavalry and infantry waited for a time, but withdrew at the first fire of the Confederates. By ten o’clock in the morning, the last Union soldier had disappeared . . . The field belonged to the South at last, but the victory had not been won. The enemy had successfully got away.

Edgar Richardson, of [Capt. Marcellus Stanley’s] Troup Artillery, walked over the Malvern Hill battlefield, looked at the bulging eyes of the dead, and wrote his sister he never wanted “to behold such a sight again.” Tom Cobb wrote [wife] Marion: “It is very unpleasant to go to [the battlefields], not only on account of the stench, but also the flies which . . . over the whole earth and trees in a dense mass.

Thus ended the Seven Days. The enemy was gone, withdrawn to its James River base, and Richmond was saved.”

(These Men She Gave, Civil War Diary of Athens, Georgia, John F. Stegeman, UG Press, pp. 52-54)

 

Destruction, Confiscation and Genocide

Ample evidence suggests that exterminating Southerners and repopulating their lands with New Englanders was desired by abolitionist radicals like Eli Thayer and Parson Brownlow. The latter wanted Negro troops under Ben Butler to drive Southern men, women and children into the Gulf of Mexico to clear the way for those loyal to Lincoln’s government to settle on confiscated Southern lands.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Destruction, Confiscation and Genocide

“For many [Southern] manufacturers, the personal and financial losses of the Civil War were truly overwhelming. At Roswell, Georgia, [Northern-born] Barrington King found upon his return from refugeeing farther South, away from Sherman’s destructive swath across that State, that “going towards the creek to see the destruction of our fine mills, all destroyed, the loss of two sons, another wounded, & one with a broken wrist, all caused by the late unnatural war, made me sad indeed.”

Duncan Murchison, the former proprietor of the Little River factory in Fayetteville, North Carolina, lamented, “the fortunes of war have snatched away nearly the whole of my property – my cotton factory, store house, ware-houses, turpentine distillery, with all the stock on hand, were burned by Genl Sherman’s army, and my grain, provisions and stock taken by the two contending armies.”

With six bullet wounds himself, William H. Young of Columbus’s [Georgia] burned Eagle factory also “suffered much and heavily in the recent war by the loss of children and property.”

Ralph Brinkley, who fled the Memphis Wolfe Creek mill upon the entrance of federal troops into Tennessee, wrote the president that he “suffered heavily by the war, and by the loss of two lovely children” and was weighted down with grief and affliction.” The psychological and economic trauma was made more acute by the uncertain political atmosphere in the North.

Eli Thayer, once a confidant of John Brown, wrote [President Andrew] Johnson that Confederate lands should quickly be confiscated and immigrants settled on them. The president at times seemed to endorse treason trials and massive confiscations.

Following the complete occupation of the former Confederacy in the summer of 1865, Secretary of the Treasury McCulloch approved extensive seizures of property that fell under the terms of [the Northern confiscation acts since 1861]. Secretary McCulloch, responsive to Andrew Johnson’s insistence that treason be made odious, ruled that State and locally-owned properties in the South were also alienated and liable for confiscation by virtue of their use in the rebellion.

In North Georgia, [Barrington] King observed, as did others across the South, that many freedmen were “leaving their masters’ plantations, crops ruined, no one to do the work – all flooding to the cities and towns, expecting to be supported by Govt.” Although accommodating to free labor, he believed that “without some law compelling the Negroes to work for wages, there will be trouble in another year, as the poor creatures expose themselves, become sickly & fast dying off.”

Then high mortality rate for freed people in the summer of 1865 convinced King and many managers that blacks could not survive without supervision.”

(Confederate Industry, Manufacturers and Quartermasters in the Civil War, Harold S. Wilson, University of Mississippi Press, 2002, excerpts, pp. 234-237; 252-253)

 

Pages:«1...49505152535455...61»