Browsing "Southern Patriots"

Americans Overwhelmed by Grant's Mercenaries

Americans Overwhelmed by Grant’s Mercenaries

[A Northerner from Wisconsin asks a Southerner:] “Did you ever read of Appomattox?”

He received the reply: “O, Yes! We’ve read of Appomattox, where a few hungry and ragged thousands surrendered to a man with a million of men under his command . . . the whole wide-world remembers that it required five of your federals to whip one of our Confederates . . . Will you fight for Grant if he should slap a golden crown on his cranium?” (quoted in Daily Constitution, Atlanta, Feb. 1, 1880).

(The Rise of Cotton Mills in the South, Broadus Mitchell, Johns Hopkins Press, 1921, pp. 84)

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)

 

Financial Panics and Copperhead Uprisings

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

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Financial Panics and Copperhead Uprisings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

An Exemplar for Generations to Come

General Jubal Early notes in his “Narrative of the War Between the States”: “On the 24th of May [1861], the day after the election in Virginia ratifying the ordinance of secession, the Federal troops . . . crossed over from Washington into Virginia, the bands playing and the soldiers singing “John Brown’s soul goes marching on”; and John Brown’s mission was, subsequently, but too well carried out in Virginia and all the Southern States under the inspiration of that anthem.” Slavery may have cause secession, but secession was the cause of invasion and war.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

An Exemplar for Generations to Come

“[It] was believed by many persons that a large party at the North would oppose the prosecution of a war of invasion. It will be remembered by those at all conversant with the history of events at that time, how strong had been the party opposed to secession in the Convention then in session at Richmond (at least two-thirds of its members having been elected as Union men), and what strenuous efforts towards peace and compromise had been made by the Border States Commissioners.

The call upon Virginia, by President Lincoln, for her quota of troops to aid in subjugating the South, had settled the question, however, in the Convention; and in a few hours after Governor Letcher’s reply to that call, Virginia had virtually cast her lot with the Gulf States, although two weeks elapsed before she became a member of the Confederacy.

I had visited, some months previous to the secession of the State, many of the little villages in New England, where I saw that the population were in terrible earnest. “Wide awake,” and other secret societies were organized; and inflammatory harangues aroused the populace. The favorite theme of the orators was the “martyrdom” of John Brown; the piratical and murderous raid of that fanatic into the State of Virginia being exalted into a praiseworthy act of heroism.

When I returned to Virginia and contrasted the apparent apathy and want of preparation there with the state of affairs at the North, I trembled for the result. But when the State severed her relations with the Union, the Governor acted with great vigor and ability, and the most was made of the limited resources at his command. Volunteers responded with alacrity to the call to defend the State from invasion; and none responded more readily, or served more bravely, than those who had opposed secession in the Convention.

It seems invidious to cite particular examples; but the “noblest Trojan of them all” will point a moral, and serve as an exemplar for generations to come. Wise in council, eloquent in debate, bravest and coolest among the brave in battle, and faithful to his convictions in adversity, he still lives to denounce falsehood and wrong. Truly the old hero, in all he says and does, “gives the world assurance of a man.” I allude to General J[ubal] A. Early.”

(The Narrative of a Blockade Runner, John Wilkinson, (reprint) Valde Books, 1876/2009 pp. 4-5)

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