Browsing "Southern Culture Laid Bare"

“Who Owns These Monuments?”

In April 1878, former-President Jefferson Davis prepared a letter to be read at the laying of the cornerstone of the Macon, Georgia monument to Southern dead. He wrote “Should it be asked why, then, build this monument? The answer is, they [the veterans] do not need it, but posterity may. It is not their reward, but our debt. Let the monument teach . . . that man is born for duty, not for expediency; that when an attack is made on the community to which he belongs, by which he is protected, and to which his allegiance is due, his first obligation is to defend that community . . . Let this monument teach that heroism derives its luster from the justice of the cause in which it is displayed, and let it mark the difference between a war waged for the robber-like purpose of conquest and one to repel invasion — to defend a people’s hearths and altars, and to maintain their laws and liberties.”

“Who Owns These Monuments?”

“An address on “Who Owns These Monuments?” delivered by Dr. Joseph Grier of Chester, South Carolina at the dedication of the Richburg monument on May 7, 1939, best sums up the issue of responsibility.

“Whose monument is this? He said, “It is the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s because it is their labor of love, representing a long period of loyalty, devotion and sacrifice, culminating in the erection of the splendid memorial.

Secondly, it is the community’s, because it will stand by the roadside for centuries in the same place and all may see it and draw inspiration from it.

Thirdly, it belongs to the Confederate soldiers whose names ate inscribed on it, because it is erected in their honor.

And Fourthly, to God, because patriotism and devotion to duty and willingness to sacrifice are a vital part of religion, and as we feel the impact of these things, we are swept toward God.”

(A Guide to Confederate Monuments in South Carolina . . . Passing the Silent Cup, Robert S. Seigler, SC Department of Archives and History, 1997, pg. 21)

An Aristocracy of Color

Antebellum North Carolina was home to an aristocracy of industrious free-black merchants, craftsmen and farmers, such as barber John Caruthers, “Barber Jack” Stanly of New Bern.  Stanly invested his profits into plantations and town property, making him one of Craven County’s most prosperous citizens with over $40,000 in personal wealth. Free-black brick mason Donom Mumford of the same community owned ten slaves.  Also, Virginia-born, free-black Thomas Day of Milton, North Carolina, owned fourteen slaves and was an acclaimed master cabinetmaker in the 1850’s with an extensive clientele.  See: The Free Negro in North Carolina, John Hope Franklin, UNC Press, 1943.

An Aristocracy of Color

“The diary which William Tiler Johnson kept from 1835 to his death in 1851 reveals the remarkable life of this exceptional free Negro in a Southern community.

In the 1830s William made profits of $15 to $20 a day from his barber shop and eventually accumulated an estate worth $25,000. He invested capital in two stores which he rented out, made loans to white residents and owned a farm, which he named “Hardscrabble.”

To work his farm William owned fifteen slaves and employed a white overseer to direct their daily work. A gun owner, he hunted regularly, enjoyed the theater where he sat in the colored gallery among friends, attended horse races, and subscribed to five or six newspapers. He took a keen interest in city affairs, politics, criminal court, militia musters as well as fireman’s parades.

Maintaining terms of friendship with several of his barber patrons, William respected the community standards of the day against dining or drinking with white people. He belonged to the aristocracy of the free people of color, avoiding “darky dances and parties.”

(The Growth of Southern Civilization: 1790-1860, Clement Eaton, Harper & Row, 1961, pg. 92-93)

Oct 12, 2021 - Costs of War, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Heroism    Comments Off on Wilmington Wrapped in Gloom

Wilmington Wrapped in Gloom

The following is excerpted from “One Good Man, Reverend John Lamb Pritchard’s Life of Faith, Service and Sacrifice,” originally written by Rev. J.D. Hufham in 1867, and edited in 2007 by Jack Fryar, Dram Tree Books. Rev. Hufham directed the proceeds of his book to Mrs. Pritchard for the education of their six children.

Rev. Pritchard, born in Pasquotank County, North Carolina in 1811, became pastor of First Baptist Church in Wilmington in early 1856. There he remained with his flock until his death from yellow fever.

Wilmington Wrapped in Gloom

“In July 1862, the dashing little Kate, formerly a Confederate packet-boat, steamed boldly through the Northern fleet blockading the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and brought to the wharves of Wilmington a valuable cargo from Nassau. She rapidly unloaded, as rapidly re-loaded with cotton, and departed on her second voyage. But she left behind her that which brought to Wilmington many a sad day, and before which even the horrors and excitement of a great war were forgotten. She left behind the seeds of the dreadful scourge, the yellow fever.”

By mid-September it was conceded that yellow fever was indeed here, and by mid-October there were some 431 cases in town and a total of 102 deaths. These grew until nearly 500 had died of the fever, plus the death of 150 black residents was reported.  Wilmington clergymen who perished were Rev. John L. Pritchard and Rev. Dr. Robert Drane, plus Dr. James Dickson who was one of the North Carolina’s most eminent surgeons and President of the NC Medical Society. Dr. T.C. Worth, brother of the Governor, and James S. Green, Treasurer of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad both succumbed to the fever. Before his death, Rev. Pritchard wrote often to his wife in Richmond, who had departed with the children to visit relatives a few months earlier.

Sept. 22, 1862: “Dear Wife: I do not think there is any visible abatement in the disease. There have been so many deaths, but don’t be alarmed as we are just as near to God here, as anywhere out of Heaven. Let us humble ourselves and pray to God for his protection. I feel calm and resigned and pray that God will bless you all.” 

The streets had become deserted after residents not-stricken abandoned town, and harbor traffic came to a standstill as word spread on the high seas and adjacent ports. The black smoke of tar barrels filled the air with soot, somehow thought to clear the air of the contagion.

In answer to appeals for provisions and medicines – home remedies from long ago had to suffice due to the North’s blockade of medical supplies – towns up the Wilmington & Weldon tracks and beyond sent much-needed supplies. A local charitable association was formed by Mayor John Dawson to assist the families of those afflicted.

September 29th, 1862 : “Dear Wife: It is no longer the Wilmington you left. But the Lord is still with us and still will be. I have heard of several deaths this morning, several others expected to die. You cannot conceive of the desolation of our town. We find that many who have left have died. It is thought that it is safer to remain than to leave. I cannot reconcile it to myself to leave the many who must suffer, if someone does not attend them, and I try to be much in prayer. Let no one think me reckless of life, or regardless of my wife and children. No indeed, I yield to no one in my love of life or of my family. But must a minister fly from disease and danger and leave poor people to suffer for want of attention? How can he more appropriately die, than when facing disease and death for Christ’s sake?

Rev. Pritchard’s last letter to his wife was begun on October 14, 1862:

Dear Wife: Heard that Dr. Drane died . . . such a night my poor sister had: perfect prostration and utter weakness. I sat up some time . . . and listened to her plaintive moan. Well, my dear wife, do you ask me, how I feel in view of never meeting my loved ones again on earth? I cannot tell you. I must not conceal from you the true state of the case by which we are surrounded. I am sick now. My poor back and head ache, the true symptoms of fever. This is my bodily condition. I have no other trust but the precious Redeemer and He is precious to me. Though it may be feverish excitability, I am not afraid to commit you and my dear six children to Him.”

The hand of the destroyer was upon him as he wrote. After lingering nearly a month, though the fever’s grip on Wilmington was abating, Rev. Pritchard passed away on November 13th, 1862.

Sep 30, 2021 - Aftermath: Destruction, America Transformed, Carnage, Costs of War, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on A Surgeon in a Unionist Prison

A Surgeon in a Unionist Prison

A Surgeon in a Unionist Prison

Dr. Joseph C. Shepard, born on Topsail Island, North Carolina, became Post Surgeon at Fort Fisher in 1864, and oversaw an earthen hospital beneath the Pulpit Battery of the massive fortress. During the second battle in mid-January 1865 against a massive Northern fleet with more cannon on its flagship than the entire fort contained, he dressed the leg wounds of Cape Fear District Gen. W.H.C. Whiting, and a short time later the left chest wound of fort commander Col. William Lamb.

After Gen. Whiting arrived at the fort before the second attack, he told Col. Lamb that he had come to share his fate as Gen. Braxton Bragg had “sacrificed’ the fort and its garrison.  No reinforcements would be forthcoming.

Dr. Shepard was imprisoned at Governors Island at New York for six weeks, then exchanged and sent to Greensboro, North Carolina. There he cared for the wounded at a Presbyterian church converted to a hospital, and rejoined his family at Scott’s Hill, north of Wilmington, after Gen. Johnston’s surrender at Durham.

He wrote the following from his Governors Island cell:

“I suppose it was inevitable – the War, that is. Our customs were different from those of the North. But who is to say which way was right, which way was wrong. All I know is that as I sit here in this Unionist prison on Governor’s Island, I wonder if I will ever see my family again.

Confined to these prison walls, I have nothing to do but think.  I cannot bear to think of the past several years and the ugliness of the War, so my mind drifts back to the year 1855. I had just graduated from the University of North Carolina and was preparing to study medicine in New York.  Life was so simple then.

A smile embraces my lips when I think back to May 8th, 1861, my wedding day, and envision my beautiful bride Mrs. Henrietta Foy Shepard. Although a happy day for us both, my wife was in mourning over the death of her father, Joseph Mumford Foy of Poplar Grove Plantation, who died just one month earlier. A great man he was, Mr. Foy. His death was a great loss to us all.

I had great reservations about leaving my wife so soon after our wedding, but my burning desire to further my education in medicine took me to Paris, France. Shortly thereafter, war erupted between the States back home and my loyalty to the South compelled me to return and offer my services.

Although I had originally enlisted for twelve months, an act of Confederate Congress dated April 16, 1862, extended my period of enlistment to three years or the duration of the war. Isn’t it interesting that the war came to an end exactly three months before the end of the extended enlistment period.

Oh, this cell is so cold and damp. How I wish I were with Henrietta and my daughter, Gertrude, basking in the heat of a warm, glowing fire. God willing, that day will come.

War is hell. And the ravages seem hardly reparable. But it is over. God only knows what’s in store for us now. Time will tell. I have once again read the surrender of General Lee to Lt. General Grant. We lost – but at least it’s over.

I’ve heard rumor that the failure of General Braxton Bragg to send in replacement troops was responsible for the fall of Fort Fisher. I don’t know if there is truth to this, but still, it’s over. Praise be to God Almighty with a prayer that our families will never have to endure this living hell again.”

(Reflections of Dr. Joseph Christopher Shepard, Surgeon, CSA, Governors Island Prison, Winter 1865)

 

Helot Rhett Butlers

It is said that one of the most distinguishing achievements of the American Confederacy was the ingenuity of Southern authorities and businessmen meeting the challenge of a naval blockade of its coasts. They answered the challenge with swift, light draft blockade runners fueled with quick-burning Welsh coal while utilizing two Southern-friendly islands, Bermuda and the Bahamas, for supply transshipments.

Gen. U.S. Grant, III, stated in 1961 that “if the Cambridge Modern History is correct in its allegation that between October 26, 1864 and January 1865 it was still possible for 8,632,000 lbs. of meat, 1,507,000 lbs. of lead, 1,933,000 lbs. of saltpeter, 546,000 pairs of shoes, 316,000 blankets, half a million pounds of coffee, 69,000 rifles and 43 cannons to run the blockade into the port of Wilmington alone, while cotton sufficient to pay for these purchases was exported, it is evident that the blockade runners made an important contribution to the Confederacy’s ability to carry on.” (New York History Quarterly, Vol. XLII, No. 1, January 1961, pp. 49-50).

Helot Rhett Butlers

“There were, of course, precedents for blockade evasion in the history of warfare. One striking parallel to the Southern problem occurred in 425 B.C., during the Peloponnesian War. The Athenians had succeeded in trapping a portion of the Spartan land forces on the island of Sphacteria, off the coast of Pylos, and thus, by maintaining a blockade, learned what the federal navy and government would in time come to understand: a blockade immobilized, perhaps, some of the enemy’s forces, restricted his strategy, and imposed attrition, but it did not of itself bring him to capitulation.

Thucydides records that much time was consumed in the blockade of the island because the Spartans had not stood idly by while the cream of their land forces was being starved to death.

“The fact was,” he wrote, “that the Lacedaemonians had made the advertisement for volunteers to carry into the island ground corn, wine, cheese, and any other food useful in a siege; high prices being offered, and freedom promised to any of the Helots who should succeed in doing so . . . In short, both sides tried every possible contrivance, the one to throw in provisions, the other to prevent their introduction.”

Thucydides reasoned well in considering the material inducement offered the Helots to undertake running the blockade. Those men of the Confederacy who were interested in bringing in supplies from abroad, and who were not involved in the trade officially, had rich material benefits in mind.”

(Ploughshares into Swords: Josiah Gorgas and Confederate Ordnance, Frank E. Vandiver, Texas A&M Press, 1994, excerpt pg. 85)

As Virginia Patriots Did Before Them

Northern General John Pope was a veteran of Missouri fighting and as commander of Lincoln’s army in Virginia in mid-1862, with Lincoln’s approval, issued orders for his men to confiscate from Virginia citizens “whatever food, forage, animals and other supplies they might require; to exile behind federal lines all male citizens who refuse to swear allegiance to the United States; to execute all persons who fire upon federal troops; to destroy the property of all such persons; to force local residents to repair any railroads, wagon roads, or telegraphs destroyed in their neighborhoods; and to deny guards for the homes of citizens who seek protection.” These were orders unprecedented in warfare, and directed against Americans.

As Virginia Patriots Did Before Them

“January 6, 1862: “Today Governor Letcher issued a proclamation designed to stir the passions of Virginians. The murderous and barbaric actions of the United States government during nine months of war have more than justified Virginia’s decision to secede, avers its chief executive.

Abraham Lincoln’s government, by its “unnatural” and “wicked” behavior, has “violated” and “annulled” the old compact between the States. More than that, Lincoln’s personal conduct has served to remind Southerners of another tyrannical and oppressive monarch who sought to enslave a free people some four score years ago. In another summer, in another century, that free and irrepressible people had risen up, joined together, cast off self-doubt, shoved aside its sunshine patriots, defied the penalty for failure, and declared its independence.

That, “our first revolution,” proclaims Letcher, can only serve to inspire Virginians and all Southerners in the unfinished task ahead. “We must be content with nothing less than the unqualified recognition of the independence of the Southern Confederacy and its nationality,” he continues; “and to this end we must meet the issue . . . with spirit, energy and determination.”

[In July, 1862, Culpepper, Virginia] has reacted as best it can. Some citizens take to the woods to plague detachments of federal troops as guerillas. Staccato exchanges of pistol and rifle fire vibrate across the country for the first time in the war. “The horrid Yankees have arrived,” reports one young lady. “There is skirmishing every day about the Rapidan River.”

The county makes so bold because they have heard rumors that Stonewall Jackson is rushing to the rescue. [No] one doubts that Stonewall will press on to liberate Culpepper [and that] includes the Union troops. It is as Pope has feared. Whatever confidence his address [to his troops] may have momentarily inspired is being corroded by the sniping and dreaded name of Jackson.”

(Seasons of War: The Ordeal of a Confederate Community, 1861-1865, Daniel E. Sutherland, excerpt, pp. 87-88; 117-119)

Gibbon’s Long-Haired Barbarian

Admiral Raphael Semmes (1809- 1877) was a Naval Academy graduate, prewar lawyer and remarkable naval strategist who quite-nearly destroyed the US merchant marine with his devastating commerce raiding tactics. A frequent critic of the New England mind and character, he saw the Yankee as “ambitious, restless, scheming, energetic, and has no inconvenient moral nature to restrain him from the pursuit of his interests, be the path ever so crooked. In the development of material wealth he is unsurpassed.” Below, he describes President Jefferson Davis’ path after departing Richmond in 1865.

Gibbon’s Long-Haired Barbarian

“[President Davis] moved soon to Charlotte, in North Carolina, and in a few weeks afterward he fell into the hands of the enemy. The reader knows the rest of his history; how the enemy gloated over his captivity; how he was reviled, and insulted, by the coarse and brutal men into whose power he had fallen; how lies were invented as to the circumstances of his capture, to please and amuse the Northern multitudes, eager for his blood; and finally, how he was degraded by imprisonment, and the manacles of a felon!

His captors and he were of different races – of different blood. They had nothing in common. He was the “Cavalier,” endowed by nature with the instincts and refinement of the gentleman. They were of the race of Roundheads, to whom all such instincts and refinements were offensive.  God has created men in different moulds, as he has created the animals. It was as natural that the Yankees should hate Jefferson Davis, as that the cat should arch its back, and roughen its fur, upon the approach of the dog.

I have said that the American war had its origins in money, and that it was carried on throughout, “for a consideration.” It ended in the same way.

The “long-haired barbarian” – see Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” – who laid his huge paw on Jefferson Davis, to make him a prisoner, was paid in money for the gallant deed.  A President of the United States had degraded his high office, by falsely charging Mr. Davis with being an accomplice in the murder of President Lincoln, and offered a reward for his apprehension; thus gratifying his malignant nature, by holding him up to the world as a common felon.”

(Memoirs of Service Afloat During the War Between the States, Raphael Semmes, LSU Press, 1996 (Original 1868) excerpt pp. 817-818)

Mar 14, 2021 - Foreign Viewpoints, Historical Accuracy, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Multicultural Confederates

Multicultural Confederates

The German citizens of Charleston were quick to form ranks against invasion, organizing the German Riflemen (Schutzen) of Captain J. Small; the Palmetto Schutzen of Captain A. Melchers; the German Fusiliers of Captain Schroder; Captain Theodore Cordes’ German Hussars. But German South Carolinians won their greatest distinction as artillerists in Hampton’s Legion, early on known as Major Johann Wagener’s artillery.

Multicultural Confederates

“In Richmond . . . The old German Rifle Company, which had been organized on March 1, 1850, was attached to the First Infantry Regiment as Company K.  Another company of recent comers, the Marion Rifles, was mustered into service on May 1, 1861, and ordered to the peninsula on the twenty-fourth of that month. Colonel Rains recruited an artillery regiment composed in part of Germans from Richmond.

The First Virginia Regiment was, except for the German Rifle Company, composed of Irishmen, and was termed accordingly the Irish Battalion. It was attached to [Stonewall] Jackson’s division From December 1861, to about December 1862, when it was made provost guard for the Army of Northern Virginia. The Nineteenth Virginia Reserved Forces were chiefly composed of foreigners, Germans, Frenchmen and Italians, recruited for home defense among the artisans in the government workshops.

Even from North Carolina, which boasts of its almost purely Anglo-Saxon population, hail several companies which were constituted of sons from other climes. Wilmington had a goodly number of foreign-born [including the German Volunteers of Captain Christian Cornehlson], a group which became Company A, Eighteenth North Carolina. Every officer and every enlisted man, 102 in all, except 30, had been born in Germany.

It was inevitable that a city, with as large groups of Germans and Irish as Charleston had, should send forth companies comprised in whole or in large part of men born in the Germans states or in Ireland. Most generously and patriotically did the Germans of Charleston uniform and equip the company . . . They came from the superior ranks of the German citizens, merchants, lawyers, teachers, clerks and artisans.”

(Foreigners in the Confederacy, Ella Lonn, UNC Press, 1940, excerpts pp. 117-120)

Letter from Gardner’s Corner, South Carolina

Col. Joseph Newton Brown led the Fourteenth South Carolina Volunteers in the Gregg-McGowan Brigade at Gettysburg, and later at Spotsylvania. At Gettysburg’s Seminary battle his regiment lost heavily from enemy artillery, losing over 200 in killed and wounded out of 475 carried into action.  After the war Col. Brown became Anderson, South Carolina’s first millionaire, who built an imposing home on three acres of land on North Main Street in 1890. It was demolished in August, 1953.

Letter from Gardner’s Corner, South Carolina, Nov. 11, 1861

“Dear Mother, We marched from Pocotaligo yesterday and arrived at dark. This place is a junction of two roads which the enemy must pass in going to Charleston if they land anywhere east of the Salt River Ferry. We are ordered to retreat from this point in case of an attack by an overwhelming force. We passed [some] poor fellows yesterday evening . . . [who] barely escaped from being taken prisoners and had to leave all their baggage, tents and provisions and in fact brought nothing but their muskets with them.

But the worst remains to be told. The terror stricken inhabitants have left their homes and property in the possession of the enemy. We met them all the way and with tears in their eyes they encouraged us to strike for their homes and fireside. The ladies would talk to the meanest looking private and tell him the enemy was in his front and to meet them as became Carolinians.  The richest and finest dressed lady would ask the soldier if he was willing to fight for her.

You cannot imagine the dreadful state of things existing here. Plantations are deserted and Negroes by hundreds wandering through the country without a master or anyone to tell them what to do or where to go. The railroad trains are all crowded with women and children and the men have shouldered their guns, leaving all things else to take care of themselves.

Beaufort is deserted by the inhabitants and the enemy occupies it at his pleasure. The Negroes were left in the town and as soon as the whites had departed they broke open the stores and groceries and are now reveling in drunkenness and disorder. One man left his little children and went to hunt a place for their safety and on his return found a drunken Negro beating one of them nearly to death. The promise of freedom will ruin many a one which the master has depended on as faithful.

Direct [your letters] to Pocotaligo, Beaufort District, S.C. My love to all. Trusting that the God of Sumter and Manassas will be with South Carolina’s sons in the conflict before us, we will put our reliance in Him. I will write as often as circumstances will permit.

Your affectionate son, Joseph N. Brown

(A Colonel at Gettysburg and Spotsylvania, Varina D. Brown, The State Company, 1931, pp. 39-40)

Escorting President Davis

Thomas Goode Jones (1844-1914), was a boy of fifteen when he enrolled in Virginia Military Institute in 1860, and served under then-Major Thomas J. Jackson as drillmaster of troops in Richmond. Jones was wounded in battle, complimented for bravery, and with the rank of Major, led his men in the last charge at Appomattox. On April 9, 1865, he physically carried the flag of truce on his sword to enemy lines for General Lee. Major Jones’ ancestors were of Welsh extraction, the most famous being Pocahontas and John Jones of the Virginia Militia during the first War of Independence. He was elected Governor of Alabama in 1890.

Escorting Jefferson Davis

“As a conservative, Thomas Goode Jones seems to have accepted institutions as they existed. Growing up in a slave-holding family amid a slave-holding society, he never seems to have questioned the institution of slavery while he was growing up or while he served the Confederacy. And yet . . . his family treated their slaves well.

While Jones was serving as reporter for the Alabama Supreme Court at the time when it was dominated by Reconstruction Republicans, the Justices agreed to march in a 4th of July procession of “carpetbaggers” and blacks, and Jones agreed to ride with them. Twenty years later, this was used against him in his race for Governor.

[At] the 1901 [Alabama Constitutional] Convention, the issue of race relations arose several times, and on each occasion [Governor] Jones emerged as the spokesman for moderation. [He argued for the militia to be comprised of both white and black men, stating] “I remember well, Mr. President, in the dark days, when the sun of the Confederacy was setting around us . . . that the Confederate Congress, under the inspiration of Robert E. Lee, passed an act authorizing the employment of Negroes in the Confederate army.”

[Jones continues] “Mr. President, on one occasion I had the honor to command the escort for President Jefferson Davis in his last tour through Alabama and Georgia. We came to the little town of Albany in Georgia. While we were there, a Negro captain of a Negro company came up and asked to have the privilege of escorting the carriage of Mr. Davis.

I said to him that I would refer his request to Mr. Davis, and I did so. Mr. Davis said he would be glad to have him, “he was glad to see that spirit exhibited on their part towards him and the whites, and he wanted to encourage it.”

If Jefferson Davis could take that position, surely it is not a matter of reproach to myself or [former Governor] William C. Oates that we are of the same opinion.”

(Warrior, Statesman, Jurist for the South: The Life, Legacy and Law of Thomas Goode Jones, John A. Eidsmoe, Sprinkle Publications, 2003, excerpts pp. 189; 196)

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