Browsing "Northern Resistance to Lincoln"

Keeping the Loyal States in Harness

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

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Keeping the Loyal States in Harness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Union of Willing States, Not Conquered Provinces

Far from being united against Southern independence, the North endured military rule as Lincoln saw fit to silence criticism of his war policy against Americans by arresting newspaper editors and dissenters, including the grandson of Francis Scott Key. Even the Supreme Court feared arrest from a president who clothed himself in powers not granted by the Constitution.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Union of Willing States, Not Conquered Provinces

“Many [antebellum Northerners] . . . saw the Union in more conditional terms, as an agreed-upon relationship, not one resting upon coercion or compulsion. Millions of Northern Democrats, for example, denied the validity or value of a Union held together by force. Many felt so strongly about the invalidity of a coercive Union that they resisted and defied the Lincoln government during the Civil War in order to proclaim their views.

Even nationalists of an antislavery point of view could have doubts about a Union maintained by force. In 1801 when John Quincy Adams feared that Aaron Burr might break up the recently-created union he was not sure that it ought to held together by force. “If they break us up – in God’s name, let the Union go,” he wrote. “I love the Union as I love my wife. But if my wife should ask and insist upon a separation, she should have it though it broke my heart.”

Sixty years later another son of Massachusetts and an abolitionist, Wendell Phillips, used the wifely metaphor again – this time in confronting an actual breakup of the Union. Phillips spoke after secession had taken place. “A Union is made up of willing States, not of conquered provinces,” he said. “There are some rights, quite perfect, yet wholly incapable of being enforced. A husband or wife who can only keep the other partner within the bond by locking the doors and standing armed before the door had better submit to peaceable separation.”

(The Other South, Southern Dissenters in the Nineteenth Century, Carl N. Degler, Harper & Row, 1974, page 121)

Northern Race Riots, Conscription and Substitutes

In mid-1863, Tammany Hall’s Boss Tweed found a way to settle the hated draft issue, give Lincoln his cannon fodder, and buy immigrant votes. Tweed brokered a deal with New York City politicians to find substitute recruits for drafted city residents, use the city treasury to pay whatever signing bonus the market would require, and tap a special $2 million “substitute” fund financed by bonds to be sold on Wall Street. If a New York City resident got caught in Lincoln’s draft, he could either use the fund to buy his way out, or join the army and keep the money. With this deal, Lincoln used Tammany Hall to run his draft in New York.

Author Kenneth Ackerman wrote in his biography of Boss Tweed: “His county recruitment drive for the army would attract scandal: abusive bounty brokers, unqualified soldiers — either prisoners from local jails or immigrants literally straight from New York harbor — and middlemen stealing fortunes in graft. But it hardly raised an eyebrow compared to the epidemic of war profiteering that had infected the country.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Northern Race Riots, Conscription and Substitutes 

“For four days terror reigned [in New York City], marked by a series of grisly lynchings [of black residents]. A mob even swarmed onto a British ship in the harbor, and despite the Captain’s protests, cruelly beat up the foreign Negroes among the crew. The police were barely able to save the Tribune Building from total destruction. Men searched for the Tribune’s editor, singing, “We’ll hang Horace Greeley from a sour apple tree.”

A Negro orphanage on Fifth Avenue was burned to the ground. Looters had a field day, among them screeching women who opposed [military] conscription.

Troops were rushed from Gettysburg [immediately after the battle]; cadets from West Point came to aid the police; the entire naval force in the region was called upon to quell the disturbance. Finally, in desperation, the military raked the streets with cannon fire. But what really stopped the rioting was a posted notice: “the draft has been suspended in New York City and Brooklyn.”

The newspapers carried the word in huge print. Order was finally restored. According to the Tribune of July 25, some 350 people had been killed; but other estimates went much higher. Casualties, including the injured, amounted to 1,000 and private property damage was estimated at $1,500,000.

Republican newspapers claimed the outbreak had been sparked by Confederate agents. But Democratic Party feeling and a sincere desire for peace were mingled with race prejudice and resentment against what the anti-Lincoln papers called the “incompetence” of the Administration. Men resented fighting against their convictions and were indignant at “governmental “frauds and profiteering.”

Apparently, from the magnitude of the outbreak, the London Times had not been far wrong in predicting that if the South won in Pennsylvania, Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee would receive a rousing welcome along Broadway.

Soon after the tumult subsided, the Democratic City Council of New York voted that the exemption [from military service] money of four hundred dollars for impecunious draftees would be paid from the city treasury. To meet Governor Seymour’s charge that the conscription as practiced was “unequal, fraudulent and a disgrace,” President Lincoln reduced the New York quotas [for troops].

When the draft was resumed a month later, he took the precaution of sending 10,000 infantrymen and three artillery batteries from the Army of the Potomac to see that the business went off quietly.

During New York’s bloody pandemonium, [British Colonel Arthur] Freemantle had been surprised to hear everyone talking of the “total demoralization of the Rebels.” To him it sounded absurd, since only a few days previously he had left Lee’s army “as full of fight as ever,” much stronger and more efficient from every military point of view than when it had crossed the Potomac to invade Maryland the previous September.

In the Colonel’s opinion, Lee’s army had “not lost any of its prestige at the battle of Gettysburg, in which it had most gallantly stormed strong entrenchments defended by the whole Army of the Potomac.”   Freemantle took ship for England and completed his book of observations at sea. “The mass of respectable Northerners,” he wrote, “though they may be willing to pay, do not very naturally feel themselves called upon to give their blood in a war of aggression, ambition and conquest . . . The more I think of all I have seen in the Confederate States of the devotion of the whole population, the more I feel inclined to say with General Polk — “How can you subjugate such a people as this?”

[And] even supposing that their extermination were a feasible plan, as some Northerners have suggested, I never can believe that in the nineteenth century the civilized world will be condemned to witness the destruction of such a gallant race.”

(Jefferson Davis, Confederate President, Hudson Strode, Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1959, pp. 458-460)

 

 

Virtue More Dangerous Than Vice

Horatio Seymour of New York always refused to consider any aspect of African slavery as a paramount issue in the country; He felt that “for seventy years the Union had existed with slavery; it need not perish overnight because of it.” He rightly saw anti-slavery rhetoric against the South as designed to divert attention from speculation and corrupt politics in the North.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Virtue More Dangerous Than Vice

“As one looks back at the antics of the abolitionists – Garrison burning a copy of the Constitution in a public square; Gerrit Smith playing “possum” at an asylum while the John Brown he had encouraged was found guilty of treason and hauled out to be hanged; self-righteous ranters pleading from their pulpits for the export of rifles to Kansas; industrious Mrs. Stowe embalming the slippery sentimentality of her half-truths in the lachrymose pages of Uncle Tom’s Cabin; even Democratic David Wilmot trying to repair with his famous proviso the political fences he had broken down with his vote for a lower tariff . . .

[T]here comes to mind the words of the ancient philosopher which a president of Yale was always happy to remember”: “Virtue is more dangerous than vice because the excesses of virtue are not always subject to the restraints of conscience.”

(Horatio Seymour of New York, Stewart Mitchell, Harvard University Press, 1938, pp. 229-230)

May 22, 2016 - Lincoln Revealed, Lincoln's Grand Army, Lincoln's Patriots, Myth of Saving the Union, Northern Resistance to Lincoln    Comments Off on Pennsylvania Miners Resist Lincoln’s Draft

Pennsylvania Miners Resist Lincoln’s Draft

Audenreid, Pennsylvania mine owner George K. Smith was killed by his workers in early November 1863 in retaliation for providing their names to the military draft authorities. By mid-1862 Northern enlistments had dwindled and Lincoln resorted to conscription to fill the ranks.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Pennsylvania Miners Resist Lincoln’s Draft

“Being a mine owner made Smith a much-despised man to begin with among the destitute miners. And the Civil War brought another factor into play that further fueled their hatred – the [Northern] government’s draft. One newspaper writer said the draft had converted the coal region into “a perfect hell.”

Ordering the immigrant German and Irish miners to serve in the Federal army and fight in a war they knew or cared little about proved too much for many of them to endure. They were being paid just fifty cents for a backbreaking day of work as it was, and when a mine boss collaborated with military authorities as Smith did, it doubled their rage.

As events turned out, Smith had written his own death certificate the moment he supplied work rolls to Union draft officials. Captain E.H. Rauch, the deputy provost marshal, injudiciously said that when he was in Beaver Meadow serving draft notices, Smith had given him a detailed map showing where each of the drafted men lived.

As early as 1862, rebellious bands of miners were becoming known and feared throughout the coal regions by encouraging desertions, interfering with recruiting, interrupting mining operations, and attacking loyalists who were devoted to the Union cause.

After the National Conscription Act was passed in August 1862, individual States were forced to draft men as a means of filling their quotas when the specified number of volunteers fell short. After the list of conscripts for each district was drawn, the men selected went immediately to their county seats and from there boarded trains for Harrisburg.

Immediately after the draft commenced, anti-draft leaders swung into action . . . From this rebellious group there emerged a secret band of terrorists known as the Buckshots, later to be known as the Molly Maguires. Mine bosses who [cooperated with Lincoln] were targeted . . . would receive an ominous notice posted on his door, complete with a picture of a coffin and two crossed pistols.

[Buckshot gangs in early 1863] boldly stopped a train with new recruits in the Schuykill County town of Tremont. Protection was promised for any new draftees who wanted to leave the train cars and return to their homes. Many took the Buckshots’ offer and skedaddled.

With the industrialized North in a wartime mode, the output of coal could not be hindered. Trouble in the minefields first caused alarm bells to sound in the State capital at Harrisburg, and the concern soon spread to Washington’s War Department and ultimately to President Abraham Lincoln.

Pennsylvania [Republican] Governor Andrew Curtin kept Washington informed of developments . . . [and] urged caution, realizing that with anti-war sentiment on the rise open conflict could have a bad effect on the rest of the country.

Alexander McClure of Chambersburg, a political ally of both Curtin and Lincoln, stated that “Lincoln was desirous of a course to see that the law was executed, or at least to appear to have been executed.”

(Coalfields’ Perfect Hell, Jim Zbick, America’s Civil War, March 1992, excerpts pp. 22-25)

 

Major Anderson’s Reluctance at Fort Sumter

In his “Rise and Fall”, Jefferson Davis wrote that it is “undeniably that the ground on which Fort Sumter was built was ceded by South Carolina to the United State IN TRUST for the defense of her own soil and her own chief harbor. No other State or combination of States could have any distinct interest or concern in the maintenance of a fortress at that point, unless as a means of aggression against South Carolina herself.” He added that the North’s claim that it was public property was untenable unless stated from an imperial view of total control over the people of that State.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Major Anderson’s Reluctance at Fort Sumter

“The course pursued by the government of the United States with regard to the forts had not passed without earnest remonstrance from the most intelligent and patriotic of its own friends . . . [Senator Stephen] Douglas of Illinois – who was certainly not suspected of sympathy with secession, or lack of devotion to the Union – on March 15th offered a resolution recommending the withdrawal of the garrisons from all forts within the limits of the States that had seceded, except those at Key West and the Dry Tortugas. In support of the resolution he said:

“We certainly cannot justify the holding of forts there, much less the recapturing of those which have been taken, unless we intend to reduce those States themselves into subjection. I take it for granted, no man may deny the proposition, that whoever permanently holds Charleston and South Carolina is entitled to possession of Fort Sumter.

Whoever permanently holds Pensacola and Florida is entitled to the possession of Fort Pickens. Whoever holds the States in whose limits those forts are placed is entitled to the forts themselves. Unless there is something peculiar in the location of some particular fort that makes it important for us to hold it for the general defense of the whole country, its commerce and interests, instead of being useful only for the defense of a particular city or locality.

It is true that Forts Taylor and Jefferson, at Key West and Tortugas, are so situated as to be essentially national, and therefore important to us without reference to the seceded States. Not so with Moultrie, Johnson, Castle Pinckney, and Sumter, in Charleston Harbor; not so with Pulaski, on the Savannah River . . .

We cannot deny that there is a Southern Confederacy, de facto, in existence, with its capital in Montgomery. We may regret it. I regret it most profoundly; but I cannot deny the truth of the fact, painful and mortifying as it is . . . I proclaim boldly the policy of those of with whom I act. We are for peace.”

Mr. Douglas, in urging the maintenance of peace as a motive for the evacuation of the forts, was no doubt aware of the full force of his words. He knew that their continued occupation [by Lincoln] was virtually a declaration of war [on the South].

The general-in-chief of the United States Army, also, it is well-known, urgently advised the evacuation of the forts. But the most striking protest against the coercive measure finally adopted was that of [Fort Sumter commander] Major Anderson himself. The letter in which his views were expressed has been carefully suppressed in the partisan narratives of that period and well-nigh lost sight of, although it does the highest honor to his patriotism and integrity.

It was written on the same day on which the announcement was made to Governor Pickens of the purpose of the United States government to send supplies to the fort, and it is worthy of reproduction here:

“Letter of Major Anderson . . . Protesting Against [Secretary of War] Fox’s Plan for Relieving Fort Sumter.

Fort Sumter, April 8, 1861

To Colonel L. Thomas, Adjutant-General, United States Army.

Colonel: . . . I had the honor to receive, by yesterday’s mail, the letter of the Honorable Secretary of War, dated April 4th, and confess that what he states surprises me very greatly – following, as it does, and contradicting so positively, the assurance Mr. Crawford telegraphed he was “authorized” to make.

I trust that this matter will be at once put in a correct light, as a movement made now, when the South has been erroneously informed that none such would be attempted, would produce most disastrous results throughout our country. It is, of course, now too late for me to give any advice in reference to the proposed scheme of Captain Fox.

We shall strive to do our duty, though I frankly say that my heart is not in this war, which I see is about to be thus commenced. That God will still avert it, and cause us to revert to pacific means to maintain our rights, is my ardent prayer.

Your obedient servant, Robert Anderson, Major, 1st Artillery, commanding.”

This frank and manly letter . . . fully vindicates Major Anderson from all suspicion of complicity or sympathy with the bad faith of the government he was serving. The “relief squadron,” as with unconscious irony it was termed, was already underway for Charleston, consisting, according to their own statement, of eight vessels, carrying twenty-six guns and about fourteen hundred men, including the troops sent for reinforcement of the garrison.

These facts became known to the Confederate government, and it was obvious that no time was to be lost in preparing for, and if possible anticipating the impending assault.”

(The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Volume I, Jefferson Davis, D. Appleton & Company, 1881, pp. 281-284)

“In God’s Name, Let Them Go Unmolested”

Delaware was a slaveholding State in early 1861 and Confederate Secretary of State Robert Toombs of Georgia expected that State to adhere to the South in its new experiment in government. Congressmen James A. Bayard and William G. Whiteley were two Delawareans who advocated peace between the sections and sympathy for Southerners seeking a more perfect union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

“In Gods Name, Let Them Go Unmolested”

“Congressman Whiteley [of Wilmington, Delaware] served on the Committee of Thirty-Three and signed a minority report of that Committee. The minority report was signed by five congressmen, all from either Southern or border States. Whiteley and these congressmen advocated peaceful secession. They believed that:

“. . . the doctrine of the indissolubility of the general government has no foundation in the public law of the world . . . ”

Also, . . .”that no power has been conferred upon the general government, by the Constitution . . . to keep a State in the Union.” They became specific when they stated that: “You cannot coerce fifteen sovereign States . . . That a separation, which has become inevitable, shall be bloodless.”

Whiteley signed a statement advocating the secession of all slaveholding States, including Delaware. Specifically, it proposed that there should be no war, but peaceful separation. Succinctly, they stated their position:

“Whether any State has or has not the right to seceded under the Constitution, it is a matter of fact that four States have already seceded; and that in a few short months — perhaps weeks — all of the other slaveholding States will have in like manner seceded, with the purpose of maintaining their new position, by force of arms, if no adjustment is made of the differences between them and the non-slaveholding States.”

After the firing on Fort Sumter, William G. Whiteley held to his previous position. On June 27 at a mass meeting in Dover he stated:

“In God’s name, let them go unmolested . . . Would Delaware give money or men to hold States as conquered provinces? . . . Could the South be subjected? Never!”

(The Secession Movement in the Middle Atlantic States, William C. Wright, Associated University Presses, 1973, pp. 86-87)

In God's Name, Let Them Go Unmolested

The State of Delaware was a slaveholding State in early 1861 and Confederate Secretary of State Robert Toombs of Georgia expected that State to adhere to the South in its new experiment in government. Congressmen James A. Bayard and William G. Whiteley were two Delawareans who advocated peace between the sections and sympathy for Southerners seeking a more perfect union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

In Gods Name, Let Them Go Unmolested

“Congressman Whiteley [of Wilmington, Delaware] served on the Committee of Thirty-Three and signed a minority report of that Committee. The minority report was signed by five congressmen, all from either Southern or border States. Whiteley and these congressmen advocated peaceful secession. They believed that:

“. . . the doctrine of the indissolubility of the general government has no foundation in the public law of the world . . . ”

Also, . . .”that no power has been conferred upon the general government, by the Constitution . . . to keep a State in the Union.” They became specific when they stated that: “You cannot coerce fifteen sovereign States . . . That a separation, which has become inevitable, shall be bloodless.”

Whiteley signed a statement advocating the secession of all slaveholding States, including Delaware. Specifically, it proposed that there should be no war, but peaceful separation. Succinctly, they stated their position:

“Whether any State has or has not the right to seceded under the Constitution, it is a matter of fact that four States have already seceded; and that in a few short months — perhaps weeks — all of the other slaveholding States will have in like manner seceded, with the purpose of maintaining their new position, by force of arms, if no adjustment is made of the differences between them and the non-slaveholding States.”

After the firing on Fort Sumter, William G. Whiteley held to his previous position. On June 27 at a mass meeting in Dover he stated:

“In God’s name, let them go unmolested . . . Would Delaware give money or men to hold States as conquered provinces? . . . Could the South be subjected? Never!”

(The Secession Movement in the Middle Atlantic States, William C. Wright, Associated University Presses, 1973, pp. 86-87)

Mercenaries for Massachusetts

The former slave State of Massachusetts had great difficulty finding citizens to fight a war they did much to foment, and many fled to neighboring States to avoid service. Hence the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts comprised of black men not from that State, and men from California forming a Massachusetts cavalry regiment, and all counting toward the quota set by Lincoln.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Mercenaries for Massachusetts

“Both [abolitionists John Murray] Forbes and [Amos] Lawrence devoted a great deal of time to raising troops. At the end of 1862 Forbes wrote a friend that “I eat, drink and sleep recruits.” He added, “no slave-trader is more posted on the price of men.” By early January 1863, Forbes was complaining that “volunteering with and without bounties is nearly played out” and that without the California men he would not have been able to fill the [Massachusetts] cavalry regiment.

In the fall of 1863, Forbes, back in Boston, returned once more to the idea of encouraging foreign immigration to Massachusetts . . . to provide men for the State’s quotas . . . [of troops for Lincoln]. They would advertise on the Continent for prospective immigrants, holding out to them prospects of homesteads, high wages, or sizable bounties if they enlisted in the army.

Some [Bostonians] organized their own companies to put up some funds. They hoped to use the large [enlistment] bounties offered by the State and local governments to purchase “voluntary immigrants” from the Continent; they would give them less than the full bounty and, even after paying their passage, expected to obtain a profit. A Massachusetts man in Hamburg told the investors that he could obtain some 2000 men there who had been gathered for a war in a neighboring German state; they were not wanted there after all and were ready to come to Massachusetts.

Eventually, 907 Germans were brought to Massachusetts in 1864. The State adjutant general later admitted that they were transported there by a Boston firm “partly from patriotic motives, and partly for speculative purposes.”  Upon arrival in Massachusetts, most did enlist in the State’s regiments. Some of them later claimed that Massachusetts agents had either forced them into service against their will or deceived them through false representations.

The colonels of the regiments in which these men served were . . . unhappy . . . most of the recruits could not speak English or understand orders, and many were subsequently massacred in the Wilderness Campaign that summer. At the end of the war the Massachusetts adjutant general confessed that the whole affair was of questionable propriety and reflected poorly on the patriotism of the people of his State.

The eagerness with which Massachusetts leaders sought to fill their State quotas by finding men in neighboring States, in Canada, or in Europe reflected the atmosphere of desperation in which these steps were taken. The same reasoning affected their decision to recruit black troops for the Union armies. Clearly, Massachusetts would benefit from such efforts. Raising black troops would enable the State to meet its draft quotas more easily, would keep white workers at their jobs, and might also be less costly than paying high premiums [bounties] to whites. [Forbes argued] that “we ought to be pushing our Negro and German resources” in order to avoid “going much into the population now at home . . .”

In the summer of 1862, calls on Massachusetts for troops were increasingly difficult to meet, and Forbes predicted that “we must either draft men or resort . . . to slaves.” He was sure that the citizens of Massachusetts would rather see blacks enlisted to fight “than see our people violently drafted, or brought in with enormous bounties.”

(Cotton and Capital, Boston Businessmen and Anti-Slavery Reform, Richard H. Abbott, UMass Press, 1991, pp. 114-118)

 

Financial Panics and Copperhead Uprisings

Not surprising was the resistance of the Northern war munitions industry to peace initiatives; after defeat in 1856 the new Republican party saw future victory in wooing northeastern industrialists through protective tariffs and corporate welfare schemes, and protecting their interests at the expense of the agricultural South.  From March to early June, 1864, Capt. Thomas Hines devoted his time in Canada to rounding up Southern prisoners of war who escaped across the border to freedom. From June on, Hines and the Confederate Commissioners planned bold moves to open a northern front against the enemy.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Financial Panics and Copperhead Uprisings

“While Hines rounded up the escaped prisoners of war to form his tiny “squadron,” as he would call it in later years, [Confederate Commissioner in Canada Jacob] Thompson set out for Niagara Falls to contact “potent men of the North” to learn how they felt about peace.

Leading Copperheads like Fernando Wood, ex-mayor of New York City, and ex-governor Washington Hunt of New York, met with him at the Clifton House [hotel]. New York and the East were not ready for peace or an uprising, they told Thompson. War [munitions] manufacturers there were too powerful and were on the alert to “neutralize” any peace efforts.

Thompson next turned to Secretary [Judah] Benjamin’s favorite project: trying to create a financial panic in the North by buying up gold and smuggling it out of the country in order to weaken the gold security for the Union dollar. A Nashville banker named [John] Porterfield, who was living in exile in Montreal, was selected by Thompson as the proper man to set this in motion.

Porterfield was furnished with fifty thousand dollars. He went to New York, opened an office under a fictitious name and began to purchase gold, which he exported to England and sold for sterling bills of exchange. Then he converted the sterling bills into dollars which he used to buy more gold.

The transaction was a costly one, showing a loss due to the cost of operations, trans-shipment, etc. Porterfield continued until his losses were twenty thousand dollars . . . [but by] this time he had exported five million dollars in gold, “and had induced many others to ship much more [gold].” His buying up gold and sending it out of the country began “showing a marked effect,” as Thompson said in his official report to Richmond, when the Federals cracked down.

A former partner of Porterfield’s was arrested by General Ben Butler for exporting gold, and thrown into Lafayette Prison in New York Harbor. Porterfield fled back to Canada . . . [but] still retained the twenty-five thousand dollars remaining to continue the exporting of gold through “fronts” in New York.

By the first week of June, 1864, Hines was in touch with his Copperhead friends in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois and in communication with [Clement] Vallandigham, who was now [exiled] in Windsor [Ontario]. A meeting was set for the 14th to plan the Copperhead uprising and the release of the Rebel prisoners in Camps Douglas, Morton, Chase and Rock Island.

Hines and Thompson met with Vallandigham on the 14th . . . [at] St. Catherines, Canada . . . [and the latter] detailed for Hines the strength of the Copperheads. Membership totaled about 300,000. Illinois had furnished 80,000, Indiana, 50,000, Ohio, 40,000 and Kentucky and New York States, the rest. A “feeling of fatigue” was sweeping through the North, Vallandigham told them, following Lincoln’s call for 500,000 more men . . . [and] he added: “If provocation and opportunity arise, gentlemen, there will be a general uprising.”

(Confederate Agent, A Discovery in History, James D. Horan, Crown Publishers, 1954, pp. 88-90)

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