Browsing "Southern Culture Laid Bare"

Airlifted Whiskey at Gettysburg, 1938

Much of the credit for arranging the 1938 Gettysburg reunion of veterans was due to the intervention of Richmond Times-Dispatch editor Virginius Dabney, whose mother was descended from Thomas Jefferson and his grandfather a Confederate veteran. It was suggested that the final airlifted load of whiskey for the pint-flasks home was confiscated by the greatly outnumbered Rebel contingent.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Airlifted Whiskey at Gettysburg, 1938

“. . . One of the greatest stories of the era occurred in July, 1938, when some 1,800 surviving Northern and Southern veterans held a reunion at Gettysburg. But everyone who followed the copious preliminary press coverage knew that arranging this reunion was almost as perilous as the conflict that took place at Gettysburg in July 1863.

Plans for the reunion began as early as 1935, but some members of the Grand Army of the Republic said they would not foregather unless the Rebels left all their Confederate flags at home. And, indeed, earthier epithets were used for “Confederate flags.”

The Rebels not only insisted on bringing their “unsullied oriflammes.” Some of the more irascible stipulated: “There’ll be no damned reunion unless the Yankee government pays for some of the property their army destroyed, and just for the hell of destroying it.”

Many of the Yankees drew the line at “playing host for the damned Rebs,” and the Rebs, frequently in graphic language, told the Yankees where they “can put their invitations.” Finally, the idea, but not the practical vehicle, of a “joint reunion” was circumvented when the State of Pennsylvania asked both sides “to attend a gathering at Gettysburg.”

Most of the Confederates were escorted by boy scouts, and those who embarked from North Carolina to Gettysburg were cheered to the local train station by huge crowds and bands, wherever bands were available.

Amazingly, the non-reunion reunion of the old foes was as tranquil as the blue July clouds that hovered over the once-bloody fields of Gettysburg. There was only one formidable problem, and this, which gained national attention, was keeping the 1,800 nonagenarians supplied with drinking whiskey. As Virginius Dabney noted, “The Southern contingent was afflicted with a notable thirst, and principally because of this fact the original consignment of five cases of liquor was exhausted almost as soon as it was opened.”

The hosts had assumed that a small cup containing a couple teaspoons of whiskey would be an adequate drink for men pushing one hundred years. But the first time the whiskey ration was doled out, one 97-year-old Rebel snorted: “That ain’t even a good sniff, much less a drink.”

An airplane was sent for more booze, and it returned with twenty-two additional cases. When this was consumed, the same airplane brought fifteen more cases. While the extra fifteen cases managed to last-out the encampment, there was none left to “see the boys back home safely.” With the third supply, the last fifteen cases gone, the “airplane of mercy,” as some dispatches called it, “brought back enough whiskey for each of the Rebels to have a pint-flask for the trip home.”

By all accounts, the Rebels, even more outnumbered at Gettysburg than they had been seventy-three years before, won the battle of the bottle, walking sticks down. A wire service reported that one veteran, 104-years-old, but never designated as to side, was picked up suffering from acute alcoholism.

Many of the North Carolina chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy denounced the wire service “for printing vile slander,” but the clear implication of these frothy demurrers was that the unidentified 104-year-old alcoholic was a Yankee. As one local UDC regent reasoned, in a letter to several [daily newspapers], “If the poor man had been one of ours, you can bet your bottom dollar the Yankee reporters would have said so.”

(The Tar Heel Press, Thad Stem, Jr., NC Press Association, 1973, pp. 263-265)

The South Versus the Asylums of Religious Zealots

Author Margaret L. Coit has written that “The Old South was a school for statesmanship” and that Southern men “rode high in the saddle of the USA” from the 1776 Revolution to the 1861 Revolution. It is no exaggeration that the “Virginia Dynasty” was virtually synonymous with the founding of the American experiment, and with the exception of John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster, nearly every outstanding American political figure was a Southern man.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The South Versus the Asylums of Religious Zealots

“The difference between the Southern civilization and the Northern,” says Thomas Nelson Page, “was the result of the difference between their origins and subsequent surroundings.” Then he tells the familiar story of how the Northern colonies “were the asylums of religious zealots” who came in search of freedom and became themselves “proscriptors of the most tyrannical type.”

To the Southern colonies, on the other hand, came “soldiers of fortune and gentlemen in misfortune . . . In the first ship-load of [Virginia] colonists there were “four carpenters, twelve laborers and fifty-four gentlemen.” The Southern settlers “came with the consent of the crown, the blessings of the Church, and under the auspices and favor of men of high-standing in the kingdom.”

With the best blood of England in their veins and the best of the Old World traditions in their cultural equipment, they produced a civilization “as distinctive as that of Greece, Carthage, Rome or Venice”; one that “made men noble, gentle and brave, and women tender, pure and true . . . It was, I believe, the purest, sweetest life ever lived.”

Page acknowledges, as many other traditionalists do, that the Southern planters were not wholly of Cavalier blood. They represented, he says, “the strongest strains of many stocks – Saxon, Celts, and Teuton; Cavalier and Puritan.”

(The South Looks at its Past, Benjamin Burks Kendrick and Arnett Alex Mathews, UNC Press, 1935, pp. 17-18)

 

The South the Genesis of American Independence

In 1887 North Carolina’s Lieutenant-General Daniel H. Hill spoke of the American Republic and the men who founded, led and sustained it until a revolutionary movement ended its life after some eighty years. Shorn of the conservative South after 1861, the Northern government descended into political corruption, the Gilded Age, incessant warfare and moral depravity.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The South the Genesis of American Independence

“With rare magnanimity, Southern congressmen had voted for protective tariffs, fishing bounties, and coast-trade regulations, which did so much to build up the big cities and great commerce of the North and to fill its coffers to overflowing. Even Mr. Calhoun had voted to protect “infant industries,” believing that the infants would in the course of time learn to crawl and walk, and do without pap. But that time has not yet come.

Thomas Prentice Kettell, a Northern man, estimates that in these three ways the Old South contributed from 1789 to 1861, $2,770,000,000 of her wealth to Northern profits. Our statesmen knew, surely, that their own section would never get one dollar in return from this enormous expenditure. But they were patriotic enough to be willing to make the nation rich and prosperous, even at the expense, for a season, of their own beloved South.

My countrymen! That Old South was a generous Old South. The world scoffs at generosity and says, “it don’t pay.”  The Old South believed with a wise man that “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and loving favor rather than gold and silver.”

Mr. Bancroft [in his History of the United States] says: “American Independence, like the great rivers of the country, had many sources, but the head spring which colored all the stream was the [British] Navigation Act.”

The whole of New England was in a blaze of fury because of it. The effect of upon their commerce and shipping interest was disastrous, and they believed that ruin impended over them. The Old South denounced the Navigation Act, which did not hurt its interest at all, just as severely as it did the Stamp and Revenue Acts. All were blows at the inalienable rights of freemen, and all were alike opposed.

Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina, in a speech delivered in Charleston in 1766, advocated the independence of the Colonies, and he was the first American to proclaim the thought. The first American Congress met in Philadelphia on the 7th of October, 21774. Peyton Randolph of Virginia, was elected President of that body.

On the 20th of May, 1775, the Scotch-Irish of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, absolved all allegiance with the Crown of Great Britain, and set up a government of its own. On the 12th of April, 1776, the Provincial Congress of North Carolina took the lead of all the States in passing resolutions of independence. On the 7th of June of that year, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia moved, “These united Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.”

It was upon this motion that the separation from Great Britain took place. It was a Virginian who wrote the Declaration of Independence. It was a Virginian who led the rebel armies to victory and to freedom. It was a Southerner — Charles Pinckney of South Carolina — whose draft of the Constitution was mainly adopted.

Thus independence was declared on the motion of one Southerner; its principles were set forth in the Declaration by another Southerner. A third led the armies of the rebel colonies to victory, while a fourth framed the Constitution, which though denounced at one time by the South-haters as “a covenant with death and a league with hell,” has lived for one hundred years, and is likely to live for hundreds more.

You . . . need not be ashamed of your ancestors and blush that they lived in the Old Bourbon South. That Bourbon regime lasted for eighty years, the grandest and noblest of American history. Eleven of its seventeen Presidents were of Southern birth. Fifty-seven of the eighty years were spent under the administration of Southern-born Presidents. Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, each served eight years, in all forty years — just one half the life of the nation.

Of the six Northern Presidents John Quincy Adams was elected by the House of Representatives and not by the people, and contrary to the wishes of the people. Nor was Mr. Fillmore elected to the Presidency, but on the death of General Taylor succeeded to the office . . . So during the existence of the Old South, John Adams, Van Buren, Pierce and Buchanan were the only Northern Presidents elected by the people. Another curious fact is, that every Northern President had associated with him as Vice President a man from the Old South.

[The Cape Fear Stamp Act resistance in 1765] was nearly ten years [before] the Boston tea party assembled, when a number of citizens, disguised as Indians, went on board a ship and threw overboard the tea imported in her. This was done in the night by men in disguise, and was directed against a defenseless ship. But the North Carolina movement, ten years earlier [in Wilmington], occurred in open day, and was made against the Governor [Tryon] himself, ensconced in his palace, and by men who scorned disguise” (Senator Clingman).

Every schoolboy knows of the Boston tea-party of 1773; how many of my intelligent audience know of the Wilmington party of 1765?  Yea, verily, the Old South has sorely needed historians of its own.”

(Address by Lt. General D.H. Hill on Memorial Day, June 6th, 1887 at Baltimore, before the Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States)

The Equestrian Statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a great American military leader who fought to win and made every effort to attain victory even when vastly outnumbered. He was admired by all, and those who attended his funeral noted the number of black people “among the thousands of mourners who viewed his corpse and followed it to the cemetery.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Equestrian Statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest

“The height of the entire monument is 22 feet. The height of the bronze figure is 9’, and it weighs ninety-five hundred pounds. The cost of the structure approximates thirty-three thousand dollars.

In Forrest Park, Memphis, Tennessee, surrounded by fifteen thousand spectators, at 2:30PM on May 16 [1905] little Miss Kathleen Bradley pulled the cord that released the veil from the magnificent equestrian statue of her illustrious great- grandfather, Lieutenant-General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

There was momentary silence as the imposing grandeur of this colossal bronze figure of the great “Wizard of the Saddle” and his steed met the gaze of the expectant crowd, then a wild cheer broke from hundreds of his old surviving followers clustered around the base and was enthusiastically taken up by the vast multitude.

The idea of erecting a monument to General Forrest was first projected in 1886, but it was not until 1891 that it took definite shape and a monument association was organized for this purpose. On November 18, 1900, the design was accepted and the order was given to the sculptor, Charles H. Niehaus. The designer of the base was Mr. B.C. Alsup, and it is built of Tennessee marble. The statue, which was made in Europe, arrived in Memphis on April 16, and was placed on its base a day or two later.

The unveiling of the monument was attended with elaborate ceremonies. In the big parade were most of the surviving staff officers of General Forrest, his general officers, and many of his old veterans who rode with him from 1861 to 1865.

Judge J.P. Young, who was one of Forrest’s old troopers, was master of ceremonies. In the opening proceedings he said in part:

“No one who did not ride with Forrest can have so keen an appreciation of the personal qualities of the man as those who were actually under his direct command, and who, from daily, hourly observation, witnessed his fertility of resource, his vehemence in battle, and his soulful tenderness toward the stricken soldier, whether friend or foe.

But it was no holiday parade. It cost something to ride with Forrest. It meant days and nights of sleepless toil and motion. It meant countless miles under a burning sun in the choking dust. It meant limitless leagues across icy wastes, with a blanket of snow at night for a covering. It meant to run down and destroy miles of freighted supply trains, to burn depots of stores, to scale the parapets of redoubts, and to plunge, mounted, into the seeming vortex of hell, lighted with the fires of a myriad rifles and scores of belching guns.

It meant to meet death face to face like a drillmaster, to look into his dread eyes, to toy with the horrid trappings of his trade, to scorn the daily chill of his breath, and to turn away unscathed or sink into the oblivion of his eternal embrace.”

Of the many eloquent tributes paid to the great soldier that day, one of the most significant was that spoken by Colonel C.A. Stanton, of the Third Iowa Cavalry, 1861-1865, who for two years was directly opposed to General Forrest. He realized Forrest’s methods of war at Brice’s Cross Roads, Ripley. Harrisburg, Old Town Creek, Tallahatchie, and Hurricane Creek.

The spectacle of an officer who had fought in the Federal army delivering an address at the unveiling of a Confederate monument was an interesting one, and when Colonel Stanton was introduced the applause was most generous. Colonel Stanton said in part:

“General Forrest possessed the characteristic traits of the successful soldier; his personal bravery was without limit; his resources seemed to be endless; and his decisions, like Napoleon’s, were instantaneous; he was aggressive, masterful, resolute, and self-reliant in the most perilous emergency; he was comprehensive in his grasp of every situation, supremely confident in himself and his men, and inspired by his presence and example his soldiers fought as desperately as did Hannibal’s fierce cavalry at Canne or the trained veterans of Caesar’s Tenth Legion at Pharsalia.

I think the battle at Brice’s Cross Roads in June, 1864, was one of the best illustrations of General Forrest’s daring courage, his ability in a critical moment to decide swiftly, his relentless vigor of action, and his intuitive perception of the time and place to strike fierce, stunning blows which fell like thunderbolts upon his enemy and won for him in this battle an overwhelming victory over an opposing force which greatly outnumbered his command.

Impartial history has given General Forrest high rank as one of the greatest cavalry leaders of modern times. No American, North or South, now seeks to lessen the measure of his fame, and no one can speak of him without remembrance of the men who served with him and whose soldierly qualities made it possible for him to win his wonderful victories.

This monument is history in bronze; it illustrates an eventful era in our national history; it commemorates General Forrest’s fame and it represents all the gallant soldiers of his command; it attests the splendid courage which won triumphant victories and did not fail when reverses came; it stands for heroic deeds which are now the proud heritage of all American citizens.

It is eminently fitting that this figure should stand here within the borders of the Volunteer States, whose soldiers have marched and fought “from valley’s depth to mountain height and from inland rivers to the sea,” in every war in the history of our republic, with a valor which has helped to make the name and fame of the American soldier immortal.”

(Historic Southern Monuments: Representative Memorials of the Heroic Dead of the Southern Confederacy, B. A.C. Emerson, The Neale Publishing Company, 1911, pp. 313-318)

A More Perfect Union Formed in 1861

A More Perfect Union Formed in 1861

“The congress of delegates from the seceding States convened at Montgomery, Alabama, according to appointment, on February 4, 1861. Their first work was to prepare a provisional constitution for the new confederacy, to be formed of the States which had withdrawn from the Union, for which the style “Confederate States of America” was adopted.

The constitution was adopted on February 8, to continue if force for one year, unless superseded at an earlier date by a permanent organization. On the next day [February 9] an election was held for the chief executive offices, resulting, as I afterward learned, in my election to the Presidency, with the Hon. Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia as Vice President.

President Jefferson Davis’s Inaugural Address [excerpt]:

“Our present political position has been achieved in a manner unprecedented in the history of nations. It illustrates the American idea that governments rest on the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish them at will whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established. The right solemnly proclaimed at the birth of the United States, and which has been solemnly affirmed and reaffirmed in the Bill of Rights of the States subsequently admitted into the Union of 1789, undeniably recognizes in the people the power to resume the authority delegated for the purposes of government.

Thus the sovereign States here represented have proceeded to form this Confederacy; and it is by abuse of language that their act has been denominated a revolution. They formed a new alliance, but within each State its government has remained; so that the rights of person and property have not been disturbed. The agent through which they communicated with foreign nations is changed, but this does not necessarily interrupt their international relations.

We have changed the constituent parts, but not the system of government. The Constitution framed by our fathers is that of these Confederate States. In their exposition of it, and in the judicial construction it has received, we have a light which reveals its true meaning. Reverently let us invoke the God of our Fathers to guide and protect us in our efforts to perpetuate the principles which by his blessing they were able to vindicate, establish, and transmit to their posterity.”

(The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Jefferson Davis, DaCapo, 1990, pp. 197-203)

The Confederate Soldier in the Civil War

Major-General Fitzhugh Lee simply and methodically described why the Southern soldier fought in 1861, and under what privations and suffering these Americans fought outnumbered by 5 to 1 odds for four years — and came close to success. He sums up why the war and reasons for it will not go away. He prophesied that the time would come when the world would recognize that the failure of the Confederacy was a great misfortune to humanity.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Confederate Soldier in the Civil War

“An impartial study of the early history of the American republic from the period of a band of patriots, following on the wave of Washington’s sword, transferred power from king to people, will demonstrate that when Colonies were transformed into States, the latter delegated, in a written Constitution, the powers to be conferred on the United States, but all powers not so delegated were reserved to the States themselves, because they had never parted from them. Hence, sovereign power belonged to a State, while only derivative, and not primitive, power was possessed by the general government.

The States did not confer upon the Government they were then forming a right to coerce one of their number for any purpose, for it is not natural that the creator should create either executive, judicial or legislative authority anywhere which should be potent to destroy its life or diminish or alter the power it had reserved for its own purposes. A State speaks through its representative bodies, and the majority of delegates in a convention direct its course.

The people of the original thirteen States believed in State sovereignty, and Pennsylvania and the New England States are upon record as primarily holding such opinions. The Southern people were educated in the belief that the allegiance of the citizen was first due to his State, and that in any conflict between his Commonwealth and the United States, or other country, his place was at her side — at her feet he should kneel and at her foe his gun should be pointed.

This is the only explanation of the great and enthusiastic response by the masses of the people to the actions of their State Conventions, when they decided their States should no longer be members of the Federal Union, but, resuming their original independence, be free afterward to make such other alliances they might deem best to protect their rights and promote their growth and glory.

The Southern masses were the private soldiers of the armies; they may not have understood all the public questions involved, or the gravity of secession, or the importance of pending issues as thoroughly as the statesmen of the period, but they must have been thoroughly impressed in a conscious manner with the right of secession and with a fidelity and loyalty to the commands of their respective States.

It has been said that the man is under no circumstances so independent as he is when the next step is for life or death. The men who were to be enrolled as the soldiers of the new Confederacy of States, to battle for its existence, knew they were taking a step which might bring to them a hostile bullet and a soldier’s grave.

The existence of the slightest doubt as to the justice of the course of their States, or the presence of the smallest suspicion that their bayonets would glisten with treason, would have surely brought that independence of action spoken of, against which the pleading eloquence of their leaders would recoil as the waters are dashed back from a great rock.

No earthly mandate can compel men to leave their firesides, families and friends, and embrace death with rapture, unless their God-given consciences stamp with approval the motives which control their conduct.

With a free, fair and honest ballot, undisturbed by extraneous influences, and untouched by the modern methods of bribery and corruption, the masses of the people, from which came the unbroken ranks of gallant men, voted with practical unanimity to ratify the decision of their State Conventions. The movement to change the map of North America and make two republics grow where only one grew before, was enthusiastically received by the great body of the Southern people.

When I see the battle-scarred soldiers and sailors of the Confederacy, with uncovered head and profoundest reverence I bow before those dauntless heroes, feeling that if the greatest suffering with the least reward is worthy of the highest honor, these deserve to stand shoulder to shoulder with their greatest army commanders in the brotherhood of glory.

It was a wonderful exhibition of courage, constancy, and suffering, which no disaster could diminish, no defeat darken. The soldiers went to battle from a sense of duty, and were not lured into the ranks by bounties or kept there by the hope of pension. The records show 600,000 Southern men were enlisted during the whole war, while 2,700,000 represent the total enlistments of their opponents during the same period.

“It would be difficult to convince the world,” General Lee would often say, “of the numerical superiority of our opponents.” And yet, for four years success trembled in the balance, though fate denied the Confederate soldiers the final victory, it “clothed them with glorious immortality.”

There was no “passion-swept mob rising in mad rebellion against constituted authority,” but armies whose ranks were filled by men whose convictions were honest, and whose loyalty to the Southern cause was without fear and without reproach — men who remained faithful to military duty in the conflict between fidelity to the Confederate banners or adherence to the trust assumed in the marriage vow, who resisted the pressures of letters from home, and whose heart-strings were breaking from the sad tale of starvation and despair at the family homestead.

As the hostile invasion swept over more territory the more frequent the appeals came, marked by the pathos and power which agony inspires,  until at last the long silence told the soldier his home was within his enemies’ lines, and the fate of his family was concealed from his view.

Under such conditions the private soldier of the South promptly fell into line. If saved from the dangers of the contest, his reward was the commendation of his immediate commanding officers and the conscientiousness of duty faithfully performed. If drowned amid the hail of shot and shell, his hastily buried body filled a nameless grave, without military honors and without religious ceremonies.

No pages of history recounted in lofty language his courage on the field or his devotion to his country, or described how, like a soldier, he fell in the forefront of battle. His battle picture, ever near the flashing of the guns, should be framed in the memory of all who admire true heroism, whether found at the cannon’s mouth, or in the blade of the cavalry, or along the blazing barrels of the infantry.

There he stood with the old, torn slouch hat, the bright eye, the cheek colored by exposure and painted by excitement, the face stained with powder, with jacket rent, trousers torn and the blanket in shreds, printing in the dust of battle the tracks of his shoeless feet. No monument can be built high enough to commemorate the memory of a typical representative private soldier of the South.

Very truly yours,

Fitzhugh Lee”

(The Confederate Soldier in the Civil War, Major-General Fitzhugh Lee, Ben La Bree, 1895, excerpts, pp. 7-8)

 

American Patriots Against Overwhelming Odds

The last land battle of the war in North Carolina exhibited the great heroism and fortitude of the Southern patriot; most North Carolina soldiers were with Lee in Virginia and suffered knowing that large numbers of enemy troops had overrun their State and their families left to the mercy of Sherman’s vandals. General Joe Johnston’s force numbered only some 20,000 men – many the remnants of garrison troops and the wrecked Army of Tennessee.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

American Patriots Against Overwhelming Odds

“General Joseph E. Johnston attacked General Sherman at the hamlet of Bentonville [North Carolina] on the 19th of March [1865] inflicting a signal repulse. Brigade after brigade of the Federals were crushed, and but for a gallant charge of the Federals under [General B.D.] Fearing the center would have been entirely destroyed.

After this defeat Sherman was unwilling to suffer another so he waited for General Schofield to join him, and this combined force consisted of over [88,000] men. The Confederate [Corps] of General D. H. Hill numbered 2,687 men.

In regards to the Confederate soldiers of 1861-1865 Judge de Roulhac Hamilton wrote:

“How splendid they were in their modest, patient, earnest, love of country! How strong they were in their young manhood, and pure they were in their faith, and constant they were in their principles. How they bore suffering and hardship, and how their lives were ready at the call of duty!

Suffering they bore, duty they performed, and death they faced and met, all for the love of the dear old homeland; and all this for the glory and honor of North Carolina. As they were faithful unto thee, guard thou their names and fame, grand old mother of us all. If thy sons in the coming times shall learn the lesson of the heroism their lives inspired and their deeds declared, then not one drop of blood was shed in vain.”

(Land of the Golden River, Lewis Philip Hall, Hall Enterprises, 1980, pp. 101-102)

"Feelings Understood Only by Southern Men"

Famed blockade-running Captain Mike Usina of Charleston stated that the South truly had no naval traditions prior to the war, “but the record of the Southern sailors during the war is second to none that the world has ever produced, and should the emergency arise again, the descendants of the same men will emulate the example set by their fathers.” His faithful leadsman was a slave named Irwin.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

“Feelings Understood Only by Southern Men”

“My leadsman was a slave owned by myself. On the last trip of the Atalanta, while under fire, the ship going very fast toward shoal water, I thought possibly he might get rattled, and to test him I said: “Irwin, you cant get correct soundings, the ship is going too fast, I’ll slow her down for you.”

He answered, “This is no time to slow down sir, you let her go, I’ll give you the bottom”; and he did, he being a leadsman without peer. I have had him in the chains [lashed to the spar] for hours in cold winter weather, with the spray flying over him cold enough to freeze the marrow in his bones, the ship very often in very shoal water, frequently but a foot to spare under her, and sometimes not that.

Yet I never knew him to make a mistake or give an incorrect cast of the lead. He is the man whom, when pointing to the island of New Providence I said: “Every man on that island is as free as I am, so will you when we get there.”

He answered: “I did not want to come here to be free, I could have gone to the Yankees long ago if I had wished.” And afterwards when the war was over, I said to him: “I am going to England, perhaps never to see Savannah again, you had better go home.”

His answer was: “I cannot go without you”; and he did not. The feeling that existed between us can only be understood by a Southern man; by a Northern man, never.”

(Chronicles of the Cape Fear, James Sprunt, Broadfoot Publishing, 1916/1992, pg. 426)

Republicans Instilled Lessons of Hatred and Hostility

Acclaimed historian Dr. Clyde Wilson has written that the Republican party was solely responsible for carrying out the bloodiest war in American history against the American South, to destroy self-government. In South Carolina, a Republican-rigged postwar convention erected a corrupt political regime kept in power by Northern bayonets, carpetbaggers and freedmen.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Republicans Instilling Lessons of Hatred and Hostility

“When the war came to an end, and the Southern States lay prostrate at the feet of their conqueror, they experienced the bitterest consequences of the humiliation of defeat. There were no revengeful prosecutions (a few judicial murders in the flush of the victory excepted). The Congress devoted itself to the work of reconstruction . . . on the principle of equal rights to all men . . . there seemed to be no reason why the States should not proceed harmoniously in the career of peaceful progress.

But there was an element in the population which rendered such a principle fatal to all peaceful progress. In many of the States, and in South Carolina particularly, a majority of the people had been slaves. All these were suddenly elevated to the rank of citizens. Were this all, even then there might have been hope.

The slaves had always lived well with their masters, bore no resentment for past injuries, and if they were let alone in their own mutual relations, the two races might, and doubtless would have harmonized and soon discovered the art of living together in peace. But this was not to be.

With the progress of Northern arms grew up an institution founded ostensibly, perhaps really, for the protection of the rights of the newly emancipated slaves. This institution, known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, became for the time the ruling power in the State. It interfered in all the concerns of whites and blacks, its officers were generally men who not only had no love for the South, but who made it their mission to foster in the minds of the blacks a bitter hatred and mistrust of the whites.

They were, on all occasions, the champions of the Negroes rights, and never failed to instruct them that it was to the Republicans that they were indebted for all the rights which they enjoyed. In the train of the Bureau came the schoolmistresses who instilled into the minds of their pupils the same lessons of hatred and hostility.

The consequence was, that though the personal relations between the races were friendly, though the blacks invariably addressed themselves to the whites as to true friends for all offices of love and kindness, of which they stood in need, they would never listen to them, if the latter wished to talk about politics.

This feeling was intensified by the introduction of the Union League, a secret society, the members of which were solemnly bound never to vote for any but a Republican. By such means, the Negro presented a solid phalanx of Radicalism . . . a new business arose and prospered in Columbia, a sort of political brokerage by which men contracted with speculators to buy the votes of members when they were interested in the passage of any measure. Here was a corruptible Legislature under the influence of men utterly corrupt.

In South Carolina . . . Society was divided into the conquered whites, who were destined to satisfy the voracious appetites of the carpetbagger, and the needy and ignorant Negro, directed by his hungry teachers. The whites had no rights which they were bound to respect; if they paid the enormous taxes which were levied upon him, the Negro was satisfied; he had done all that it was necessary for him to do in the degenerate State.”

(Last Chapter of Reconstruction in South Carolina, Professor F.A. Porcher, Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume XIII, pp. 76-79)

Enlightened Southern Labor Management

While the older brother of Jefferson Davis, Joseph E. Davis, was conducting enlightened labor management techniques in Mississippi, New England factory and mill owners worked young women, and children under ten, hard sixteen-hour workdays in dimly lit sweat-shops. Their meager pay was usually insufficient to cover living expenses and left nothing health care—Africans in the South enjoyed cradle to grave medical care and security.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Enlightened Southern Labor Management

“ . . . Joseph Davis demonstrated the enlightened methods of slave management that he had developed from modifications of the ideas of Robert Owen, Frances Wright, and other reformers of an earlier era. In the words of a family member, “[The cabinets] were well built, with plastered walls and large fireplaces, two large rooms and two shed rooms behind them.” Each had its own henhouse from which the slaves could sell surplus chickens and eggs and a small garden patch for their own use.

Davis was determined to make his [plantation] enterprise a model of labor management as well. As one of nine Mississippians who owned more than 300 slaves in 1860, Davis was faced with a major administrative task [and had learned] that people worked best when treated well and given incentives rather than when driven by fear of punishment.

He established a court, eventually held every Sunday in a small building called the Hall of Justice, where a slave jury heard complaints of slave misconduct and the testimony the accused in his own defense. No slave was punished except upon conviction by this jury of peers. Sitting as a judge, Davis seldom intervened except to ameliorate the severity of some of the sentences.

Davis insisted that the overseers, too, must bring their complaints before the court, and they could not punish a slave without [their] permission. In addition to self-government, Davis provided more direct incentives for his laborers. Convinced that every human being should be allowed to develop to his full potential, the master encouraged his slaves to acquire skills in areas that interested them.

He provided opportunities for training in current trades and crafts. Moreover, skilled workers were allowed to enjoy the benefits of their more valuable labor; Davis ruled that all slaves might keep anything they earned beyond the value of their labor as field hands.

Davis was sensitive to the needs of his workers and regularly rewarded them for unusual achievements, in addition to providing gifts for a birth or wedding, or in consolation for a death. He expected them to work hard for their own benefit as well as his, and he was quick to commend and encourage those who performed well.

Davis’s benevolent management methods seemed amply vindicated by the example of his most able slave, Benjamin Montgomery, who seized the opportunities Davis provided and became an invaluable assistant as well as confidant and companion to his master. Born in Virginia in 1819, the brilliant Montgomery learned to read and write along with his young master.

With access to the large (plantation] library, Ben improved his literary skills and was soon copying letters and legal briefs as the office clerk. He learned to survey land to plan the construction of levees essential for flood protection on Davis Bend. He drew architectural plans and participated in the construction of several buildings, including the elaborate garden cottage.

(Joseph E. Davis, Pioneer Patriarch, Janet Sharp Hermann, University Press of Mississippi, 1990, pp. 53-58)