Browsing "Southern Heroism"

That “Superior” Army

The following quotation copied from the “Annual Reports, 1861-65, of the United States Sanitary Commission, appeared in the July issue of Confederate Veteran magazine in 1930. It is extracted from a published statement in Boston by Gen. Samuel G. Howe, in early 1862. He laments the lack of moral fortitude in the average Northern soldier.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

That “Superior” Army

“Our men in the field do not lack food, or clothing, or money, but they do lack noble watchwords and inspiring ideas, such as are worth fighting and dying for. The Southern soldier has what at least serves him as such; for he believes that he fights in defense of country, home, and rights; and he strikes vehemently, and with a will.

Our men, alas! have no such ideas. The Union is to most of them an abstraction, and not an inspiring watchword. The sad truth should be known – that our army has no conscious, noble purpose; and our soldiers generally have not much stomach for fight.

Look at the opposing armies and you will see two striking truths. First, the Northern men are superior in numbers, virtue, intelligence, bodily strength, and real pluck; and yet on the whole they have been outgeneraled and badly beaten.

Second, the Northern army is better equipped, better clad, fed and lodged; and is in a far more comfortable condition, not only than the Southern army, but any other in the world; and yet, if the pay were stopped in both, the Northern army would probably mutiny at once, or crumble rapidly; while the Southern army would probably hold together for a long time, in some shape, if their cause seemed to demand it.

The animating spirit of the Southern soldier is rather moral than pecuniary; of the Northern soldier it is rather pecuniary than moral.”

(Gen. Samuel Howe, US Army, February 20, 1862, Confederate Veteran Magazine, July, 1930, pg. 251)

Oct 16, 2016 - Myth of Saving the Union, Southern Conservatives, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Unyielding Determination at Cemetery Hill

Unyielding Determination at Cemetery Hill

The battle flags carried by Southern units were usually presented in a similar manner as the Desoto Rifles of New Orleans in 1861: “Receive from your mothers and sisters, from those whose affections greet you, these colors woven by our feeble but reliant hands; and when this bright flag shall float before you on the battlefield, let it not only inspire you with the patriotic ambition of a soldier aspiring to his and his country’s honor and glory, but also may it be a sign that cherished loved ones appeal to you to save them from a fanatical and heartless foe.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Unyielding Determination at Cemetery Hill

“Choking down their fear, and with their colorbearers leading them on, they started over the rise and then up into the face of the Yankee artillery. The guns on the hill “vomit[ed] forth a perfect storm of grape, canister, shrapnel, etc.” But their commander shouted “forward!” and on they marched, “over fences, ditches, through marshy fields”

After crossing the valley, the left flank of the Federal infantry behind a stone wall at the base of Cemetery Hill hit them with a sheet of flame and lead. Yet because of the darkness and the rolling nature of the terrain, their aim way high; most of the bullets shrieked overhead while the Louisiana Tigers kept going, up the hill and into the first line of [enemy] rifle pits.

The fighting became hand to hand as both brigades climbed the slope. One Southerner remembered “with bayonets and clubbed guns we drove them back” out of the Federals’ lines.

Seeing their forward lines break and the Rebels come screaming at them, the troops in the Federal second and third lines of rifle pits broke and ran. With [Brigadier-General Harry T.] Hays’ Tigers hot on their tails, the Federals retreated to the breastworks and emplacements around two batteries at the top of the hill . . . along the way scores of Federals surrendered, but the Confederates refused to stop and take them prisoner officially, instead simply ordered them to the rear.

It was pitch dark, but now the Louisianans and North Carolinians were in among the [enemy] guns on the crest. Here the fighting became “desperate,” recalled Capt. James F. Beall of the Twenty-first North Carolina:

“[B]ut like an unbroken wave, our maddened column rushed on, facing a continual stream of fire. After charging almost to the enemy’s [third] line, we were compelled to fall back, but only a short distance. The column reformed and charged again, but failed to dislodge the enemy. [Our] brigade held its ground with unyielding determination – ever keeping afloat our flag to battle and breeze.”

Over on the right of [Col. Isaac] Avery’s brigade the Sixth North Carolina had fought its way up . . . At least 75 Tarheels crossed the [enemy’s] wall, fighting with clubs, knives, stones, fists and anything else a man could use to defend himself or attack the enemy.

A Confederate colorbearer, probably from the Sixth North Carolina, jumped up on the wall, pistol in one hand, flag in the other. He shouted out “surrender you Yankees,” but a Federal stuck his bayonet into him and pulled the trigger of his rifle, blowing a hole clear through the Confederate. A Federal soldier grabbed for [the falling flag] at the same moment another Confederate grabbed the other end. The ensuing tug-of-war was won by the Rebel.

What was left of the Sixth cleared the ridge and captured the Federal guns, then retreated down the side of the hill to the stone wall, taking their battle flag with them.

When the first colorbearer of the Twenty-first North Carolina was killed while charging up the hill, the flag was picked up by Major Alexander Miller. When Miller went down, Pvt. J.W. Bennett picked it up, and was also shot. Four more men of the Twenty-first North Carolina were killed carrying the flag, then Capt. James Beall picked it up. “The hour was one of horror,” recalled Beall:

“Amid the incessant roar of cannon, the din of musketry, and the glare of bursting shells making the darkness intermittent – adding awfulness to the scene – the hoarse shouts of friend and foe, the piteous cries of wounded and dying, one could well imagine, (if it were proper to say it), that “war is hell . . .”

To remain was certain capture, to retreat was almost certain death. Few, except the wounded and dead, were left behind. Here, these brave North Carolinians ‘stood, few and faint, but fearless still.”

(The Damned Red Flags of the Rebellion, The Confederate Battle Flag at Gettysburg, Richard Rollins, Rank and File Publications, 1997, excerpts, pp. 131-134)

For the Love of the Dear Old Homeland

Sherman’s strength at Bentonville was initially 58,000 versus Johnston’s aggregate of about 20,000 men. On the way to reinforce Sherman were the 45,000 troops of Schofield, Terry and Cox, advancing from Goldsboro, New Bern and Wilmington — for a total of 103,000 versus 20,000. The author below erroneously suggests a much larger figure for Sherman’s total forces.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

For the Love of the Dear Old Homeland

“On March 7, 1865 General William T. Sherman and his army of mercenaries from Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and Prussia was well as the northern United States, many of whom could not speak English, crossed the North Carolina State line. Behind them lay the smoking ruins of sacked Georgia and South Carolina cities, homeless widows and orphans and death by starvation.

At Laurel Hill, NC, Sherman halted to refresh his troops, and from here he wired Gen. Schofield in Wilmington that he would be in Goldsboro, NC [on] March 20, 1865. On March 12th Sherman and his army of barbarians reached Fayetteville.

After plundering the residential section, it was then burned. Also destroyed were four cotton mills, the churches, banks, courthouse and warehouses. Sherman then moved on looting and burning. Any item that could not be carried, including furniture, carpets and farm equipment, was destroyed. Even the cabins of the slaves were robbed by the Yankees.

Following the fall of Wilmington, by the 7th of March General Robert Hoke and his small division of [mostly North Carolina] brigades were near Kinston, NC. On the 8th, Gen. Hoke and the division of [Daniel H.] Hill attacked the corps of Gen. Cox consisting of 13,056 Federal troops. The battle was a great victory for the Confederates with a loss to Cox of 1257 men.

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

After this defeat Gen. Sherman was unwilling to suffer another, so he waited for Gen. Schofield to join him, and this combined force consisted of over 160,000 troops. The Confederate corps of Gen. D.H. Hill numbered 2,687 men.

When Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his army of half-starved veterans at Appomattox, Virginia, General Johnston was also forced to surrender, April 26, 1865, near Durham Station, NC, and the War for Southern Independence came to a close.

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

“How splendid and great 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; all this for the glory and honor of North Carolina.

And 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 their heroism their lives inspired and their lives declared, then not one drop of blood was shed in vain.”

[General Robert F. Hoke’s said (excerpted) in a farewell address to his men:]

“The fortunes of war have turned the scale against us. The proud banners which you have waved so gloriously over many a field are to be furled at last; but they are not disgraced, my comrades. History will bear witness to your valor and succeeding generations will point with admiration to your grand struggle for constitutional freedom.

You have yielded to overwhelming numbers, not to superior valor. You are paroled prisoners, not slaves. The love of liberty, which led you into this contest, burns as brightly in your hearts as ever. Cherish it. Associate it with the history of your past. Transmit it to your children. Teach them the rights of freedom, and teach them to maintain them.

Teach them that the proudest day in all your proud career was that on which you enlisted as Southern soldiers, entering that holy brotherhood whose ties are now sealed by the blood of your compatriots who have fallen, and whose history is coeval with the brilliant record of the past four years.”

(Land of the Golden River, Volume 2, Lewis Philip Hall, Hall’s Enterprises, 1980, pp. 101-103)

 

Sep 15, 2016 - Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots, Southern Statesmen    Comments Off on Those Faded Jackets of Grey

Those Faded Jackets of Grey

 

“We had lived in South Carolina less than five years when I was dipped deep in the fiery spirit of Southern patriotism. This was the Confederate reunion of 1903, held in our home town of Columbia. It was but one in a long line of reunions.

In South Carolina they had a way of placing the first in the year 1876 — “the grandest reunion ever held in any State, one of the most sublime spectacles ever witnessed,” “thrilling the hearts” of the people of Columbia. They called it the first, but “there were no invitations, no elaborate programme, no committees of reception, no assignment of quarters, no reduced rates of transportation, no bands of music, no streamers flying.”

Of it they said: “The State was prostrate. The people had with marvelous patience restrained themselves from tearing at the throat of the Radical party. Hampton had been elected governor, and yet the tyrannical party would not yield.” (Wade Hampton and his “red shirts” had just overthrown Reconstruction.)  At that moment, the story goes — “It was the supreme moment of the crisis” — there appeared, coming into Columbia from every direction, by all the highways, “men in apparel which had become the most glorious badge of service since the history of the world — those faded jackets of grey.”

They came, it is said, ten thousand of them, converging on Columbia, making their way straight to the headquarters of the Democratic Party. They were resolved, they said, “to make this State one vast cemetery of free men rather than the home of slaves.”

Their voices shouted hoarsely, “Hampton!” “Forth came the great captain who stilled the tumult with a wave of his hand.” He said, “My countrymen, all is well. Go home and be of good cheer. I have been elected governor of South Carolina, and by the eternal God, I will be governor or there shall be none.”

I remember nothing of the Lost Cause movement before the Confederate reunion of 1903. I may have been drinking it in since the time of my babyhood . . . In 1903 I was verily baptized in its sentiments. In the air we felt a sense of urgency, as though the chance might never come again to honor the old men.

The oratory stressed it: “Ranks of the men who fought beneath the Stars and Bars — the beautiful Southern Cross — are thinner . . .” “Pathos . . . there cannot be many more reunions for these oaks of the Confederacy . . .”

“Not far from taps . . . for the many ties that bind will soon be severed . . . the high tribute is but their honor due.”

(The Making of a Southerner, Katherine Du Pre Lumpkin, UGA Press, 1991, (original 1946), pp. 112-114)

 

Aug 10, 2016 - Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Two Hundred-Fifty Half-Starved North Carolinians

Two Hundred-Fifty Half-Starved North Carolinians

The war nearly over in early April 1865 and Southern regiments vastly outnumbered and starving, the defense of Fort Gregg by the decimated Thirty-seventh North Carolina demonstrated the resolve to continue the struggle for independence. Like the earlier heroic defense of Fort McAllister in Georgia, Fort Gregg can be easily compared to the embattled Texians at the Alamo.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Two Hundred-Fifty Half-Starved North Carolina Heroes

“The Federal infantry soon came into sight. One Mississippian later wrote: “Ah, what a contrast, what a soul-sickening spectacle to behold. 25,000 men, flushed with recent victory, to be hurled against 250 . . . half-starved heroes, whose hearts of steel [quailed] not even at such fearful odds.”

“About ten o’clock the enemy commenced charging with four or five lines,” Lieutenant [Dallas M.] Rigler [of Mecklenburg County] would write a few years after the war. “We did not fire until they were within forty yards, and then gave them one volley; they wavered, and then the first line gave way; the second came forward, and came within thirty yards of the fort. We yelled and fired – they stood a few seconds and then broke. The third retreated also, but the fourth and fifth came to the ditch around the fort.

While this fighting was in the front, one line came in the rear and almost got inside the fort through the door. About twenty men charged them, drove them back. About eleven o’clock they scaled the walls of the fort, and for several minutes we had a hand to hand fight. We used the bayonet, and killed almost all of them that came on top.”

Private [Angelum M.] Garrison [of Mecklenburg County] chronicled: “A man of Company D, of our regiment, volunteered to shoot while three of us loaded, and we did the best that was possible. This soldier of Company D took good aim, and I think he must have killed or wounded scores of the enemy.”

Twenty-year old Lieutenant [Dallas M.] Rigler would conclude his story of the defense of the fort:

“About half-past eleven they attempted to scale the walls again. We met them with the bayonets, and for several minutes it was the most desperate struggle I ever witnessed; but it did not last long. Soon they were all killed or knocked back, and then a deafening shout [arose] from our boys. [But] by this time the ammunition was almost out, and our men threw bats and rocks at them in the ditch. No ammunition would we get, and after a short struggle, they took the fort, and some few did fire on us after they got possession, but their officers tried to stop them.”

General [Cadmus] Wilcox would add this, viewing things from outside the fort while in the Confederate lines: “As they [Federals] appeared at this point [Fort Gregg], they were either shot or thrust off with the bayonet . . . Again and again this was done. At length numbers prevailed, and the parapet of the little work was thickly covered with men, six [Northern regimental] flags seen on it at one time; and from this dense mass a close, and of necessity destructive fire, was poured down upon the devoted band within.”

(The Thirty-seventh North Carolina Troops, Tar Heels in the Army of Northern Virginia, Michael C. Hardy, McFarland & Company, 2003, pp. 228-229)

 

Aug 7, 2016 - America Transformed, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Heroism, Targeting Civilians    Comments Off on Two of Seven Wounds

Two of Seven Wounds

British traveler and Scottish missionary David MacRae (1837-1907) toured the American South in 1867-68 to survey the postwar desolation and poverty. His most noteworthy meetings were with General Robert E. Lee and Admiral Raphael Semmes, being struck by the former’s “unconscious Christian character revealing itself almost unconsciously in his manners and conversation.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Two of Seven Wounds

“I was struck with the remark made by a Southern gentleman in answer to the assertion that Jefferson Davis had culpably continued the war for six months after all hope had been abandoned.

“Sir,” he said, “Mr. Davis knew the temper of the South as well as any man in it. He knew if there was to be anything worth calling peace, the South must win; or, if she couldn’t win, she wanted to be whipped – well whipped – thoroughly whipped.”

The further South I went, the oftener these remarks came back upon me. Evidence was everywhere that the South had maintained the desperate conflict until she was utterly exhausted. At its outbreak she had poured her best men into the field. Almost every man I met at the South, and especially in North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia, seemed to have been in the army; and it was painful to find how many even of those who had returned were mutilated, maimed or broken in health by exposure.

When I remarked this to a young Confederate officer in North Carolina, and said that I was glad to see that he had escaped unhurt, he said, “Wait ‘til we get to the office, sir, and I will tell you more about that.”

When we got there, he pulled up one leg of his trousers, and showed me that he had an iron rod there to strengthen his limb, and enable him to walk without limping, half of his foot being off. He showed me on the other leg a deep scar made by the fragment of a shell; and these were but two of seven wounds which had left their marks upon his body. When he heard me speak of relics, he said, “Try to find a North Carolina gentleman without a Yankee mark on him”

In Mobile I met a brave little Southern girl who had gone barefooted the last year of the war, that the money intended for her shoes might go to the poor soldier. When medicines could no longer be sucked into the South through the rigorous blockade, the Confederate Government called upon the women and children, who went into the woods and swamps and gathered horehound, boneset, wild cherry bark, dogwood, and everything that could help supply the want. When there was a danger of any place falling into the hands of the enemy, the people with unflinching hand, dragged out their last stores of cotton, tobacco, and turpentine, and consigned them to the flames. The people said, “we did it all, thinking the South would win . . .”

(Exhaustion of the South, David MacRae, America Through British Eyes, Allan Nevins, editor, Oxford University Press, 1948, pp. 345-346)

Aug 7, 2016 - Antebellum Realities, Southern Heroism    Comments Off on Unable to Take Richmond

Unable to Take Richmond

General Winfield S. Scott commanded the United States forces which captured Mexico City in mid-September, 1847. His junior officers included Joseph E. Johnston, Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, John A. Quitman, John B. Magruder and E. Kirby Smith.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Unable to Take Richmond

“Abraham Lincoln once asked General Scott the question:

“Why is it that you were once able to take the City of Mexico in three months with five thousand men, and we have been unable to take Richmond with one hundred thousand men?

“I will tell you,” said General Scott. “The men who took us into the City of Mexico are the same men who are keeping us out of Richmond.”

(Confederate Veteran Magazine, September 1913, page 471)

Universal Mourning in the South

With their men away at war, American women in the South did the farm work, raised children alone, and prayed their husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, and uncles would return home alive. Lincoln’s war upon the South cost the lives of some 260,000 Southern men.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Universal Mourning in the South

“Cornelia Phillips Spencer was married six years before becoming a widow at age thirty-six. Her journal read: “May, 1862, My hearing is going, and with it youth, hope, and love. There remains for me nothing but to sit at home and remember.” Commentating on Spencer’s diary, author Wright described the “universal mourning” in the South had made her own loss seem less burdensome because at least her husband had not died “horribly in battle, or lain lingering and mutilated in hospitals.”

Another diarist, Sarah E. Mercer, recorded that her brother Oliver (called Buddy), had to return to camp even though he was not well. She said, “Tears are such a solace . . .” In less than three weeks, he would be among the dead at Gettysburg.

“I cannot look to the future, it is too dark. All is dark, dark, dark. The fate of our country is in a thick mist, too dark and thick to see through.” Still grieving, Mercer three days later declared, “Pity that the politicians were not obliged to do all the fighting themselves. Me thinks there would be considerably less blood shed . . .” Major Brooks visited the family and gave them the contents of Buddy’s pockets. Mercer said, “We can have no hopes of ever getting is dear remains, as they were left on Yankee soil. We do not even know if he was buried.”

Elizabeth Robeson had several sons in service. A religious woman, she questioned her faith as did other women. Entries in her diary are as follows:

“May 18th – but all God does is right, though he moves in a mysterious way. He takes the young and leaves the aged for some wise purpose, but we shortsighted mortals cannot see it.”

“Jun 1, 1862 – Mr. W. Cain came in and said that he heard our boys (Bladen Guards) were in the battle and were cut to pieces. Many a better woman than I am has been bereaved of their only child, but I feel as if I could not bear up under it.”

Henry Fuller was wounded in June of 1862 at Seven Pines, Virginia. His wife Ann “went to Richmond in search of him but was unable to find even an ambulance driver, since it was almost impossible to keep up with the troops. She did find the man who placed him in the ambulance and was told that he was seriously wounded with a Minnie ball through his head. After several days of fruitless inquiry, she was forced to return home empty handed and the fate of her husband was never known.”

Fuller remained on the farm and raised her three children. Foraging Union troops took everything on the place at the close of the war. “

(Blood and War at My Doorstep, North Carolinians in the War Between the States, Volume II, Brenda McKean, Xlibris, pp. 640-641)

Jun 16, 2016 - Bounties for Patriots, Lincoln's Grand Army, Lincoln's Hessians, Lincoln's Patriots, Southern Heroism    Comments Off on Victims of the Confederate Fury

Victims of the Confederate Fury

Lincoln’s Grand Army of the Republic was superbly equipped, well-fed and well-paid, with most receiving bounties from the home towns, State’s and the federal government. They faced a varied collection of barefoot, undernourished American farmers armed mostly with captured muskets and equipment; or what slipped past the blockade. Even as late as March 1865 entire Northern regiments were being captured by Southern forces.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Victims of the Confederate Fury

“The Federal fatalities during the entire war were 359,528 men. Of this number, 110,070 were killed in battle or died of wounds; 249,458 died of disease or accident . . . Over 250,000 men were discharged for disabilities arising from wounds or disease rendering them unfit for service. Losses in the main battles of the Civil War ran high.

A comparison of the casualties at Gettysburg with those sustained in some of the European conflicts might prove illuminating. The Third Westphalia Regiment lost at Marc La Tour 49.4 per cent killed and wounded; the Garde-Schutze Regiment lost at Metz 46.1 per cent; the Light Brigade lost at Balaklava 36.7 per cent.

These battles probably recorded the greatest losses in single engagements up to the time of the Civil War; yet it has been asserted “without fear of contradiction” that in the Union army at least 63 regiments lost more than 50 per cent in killed and wounded in single engagements.

At least 23 regiments lost more than one half in killed and wounded in the three bloody days of Gettysburg. Native regiments made splendid records there — and paid for it, the Iron Brigade losing almost exactly 50 per cent of its number — but so did units of foreign-born, notably some Pennsylvania regiments.

The Fifth New York, Duryee’s Zouaves, in which there were many foreigners, lost in the Second Battle of Bull Run [Manassas] over 60 per cent in killed and wounded, with none missing; the regiments went into battle with 490 men, but in less than ten minutes nearly 150 lay dead or mortally wounded. Though almost annihilated, it retired slowly, carrying off with it the flags and some of the wounded.

The ultimate of sacrifice was probably sustained by the Irish Brigade when it was hurled by General Pope against Marye’s Heights in December 1862, in a useless massacre. It may be said that the Brigade virtually ceased to exist, with an average loss in casualties per regiment of almost 41 per cent. Seven thousand men in all were entered on the rolls of the Brigade; less than 1,000 returned to New York.”

(Foreigners in the Union Army and Navy, Ella Lonn, LSU Press, 1951, pp. 480-482)

The War of Conquest

The War of Conquest

“The only proper title of our war is “the war of conquest.” I always speak of it so. To call it a civil war is to acknowledge that the States, which are now merely counties of a government at Washington, were not the sovereignties they were until 1865.

Then we had a “Union” based on “the consent of the governed”; now we have a “nation,” founded on force like the monarchies of Europe. “Civil war,” therefore, does not express the truth. If England and France go to war . . . would it be called a “civil war?” Nor the war between the sovereign States of the North against the Confederate States.

Neither let us speak of the “Union troops” and the “ex-Confederates.” Are we not now just as much Confederate as ever? I don’t like the “ex.” “X” is an unknown quantity; and the world knows our quality and found out how small was our quantity when it was discovered that with only six hundred thousand men, all told, we kept out of Richmond for four years twenty-five hundred thousand men of the other nation. Let our war be known as what it was in reality, the “war of conquest.”

(Rev. P.G. Robert, Chaplain, Thirty-fourth Virginia Infantry, Confederate Veteran, November, 1898, page 520)