Browsing "Southern Patriots"

The Grandest Soldiers That Ever Marched

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the men who followed Lee and other Southern generals was their steadfast determination in the face of overwhelming odds. Rarely after mid-1863 were there even odds and most often Lee fought successfully against foes two or three times his own number.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Grandest Soldiers That Ever Marched

“It is quite a mistaken idea that the Yankees were poor soldiers and easily whipped. Any Confederate soldier who met them often in battle will testify that they were hard and tenacious fighters, especially those from the Great North West.

The Confederates could claim very little credit for holding at bay such a mighty host armed with the most improved weapons and devices of warfare for four long, dreary years, and defeating them so often and disastrously, with odds often greatly against them, had the Northern army been merely a disorganized mob and rabble.

Yes, the Northern army was a fine one, well equipped and well officered, with all the resources at hand that could be desired for great and aggressive warfare; but it had to meet an army of Southern troops composed of the grandest soldiers that ever marched to martial music, or fought in defense of country!

Just to think, that the Southern army of six hundred thousand men, poorly armed and equipped, ridiculously clad and meagerly fed, without tents, without medicine, without pay, checkmating, baffling, repulsing and often humiliating and disastrously defeating the Northern army of 2,778,304 men armed with the most improved engines of warfare, well paid, well fed, abundantly clothed; backed by all the resources of a great nation, for four long, dreary years, staggers the credulity of man to contemplate.

In a letter to General [Jubal] Early shortly after the close of the war, General Robert E. Lee wrote: “It will be difficult to get the world to understand the odds against which we fought.” From the number drawing pensions from the United States government today, fifty years since the close of hostilities, there might have been a million more soldiers in the Union Army than given in the figures named above.”

(Sketch of the War Record of the Edisto Rifles, William V. Izlar, The State Company, 1914, pp. 98-100)

Longstreet Finds Adversaries Lacking Honor

Southern commanders like James Longstreet expected their Northern counterparts to embrace the conviction that enemies no less than comrades merited honorable treatment, from officers down to enlisted men. To encourage a Southern soldier to desert was unthinkable; A letter from a Southern woman in 1862 stated that “the black title of tory and deserter will cling to them, disgracing their children’s children.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Longstreet Finds Adversaries Lacking Honor

Letter from General Longstreet to General [J.G.] Foster:

“Headquarters, Confederate Forces, East Tennessee, Jan. 3, 1864:

To the Commanding General, United States Forces, East Tennessee –

Sir – I find the proclamation of President Lincoln, of the 8th of December last, in circulation in handbills among our soldiers. The immediate object of this proclamation seems to be to induce our soldiers to quit our ranks and take the oath of allegiance to the United States government.

I presume, however, that the great object and end in view is to hasten the day of peace. I respectfully suggest, for your consideration, the propriety of communicating any views that your government may have upon this subject through me, rather than by handbills circulated amongst our soldiers.

The few men who may desert under the promise held out in the proclamation, cannot be men of character or standing. If they desert their cause, they disgrace themselves in the eyes of God and man. They can do your cause no good, nor can they injure ours.

As a great nation, you can accept none but an honorable peace. As a noble people, you could have us accept nothing less.

I submit, therefore, whether the mode that I suggest would not be more likely to lead to an honorable end than such a circulation of a partial promise of pardon.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

J. Longstreet, Lieutenant-General, Commanding

 

Headquarters, Confederate Forces, East Tennessee, Jan. 11, 1864:

“Sir – I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th of January, with its inclosures, etc.

The disingenuous manner in which you have misconstrued my letter of the 3d, has disappointed me. Let me remind you, too, that the spirit and tone of my letter were to meet honorable sentiments.

I have read your order announcing the favorable terms on which deserters will be received. Step by step you have gone on in violation of the laws of honorable warfare. Our farms have been destroyed, our women and children have been robbed, and our houses have been pillaged and burnt. You have laid your plans and worked diligently to produce wholesale murder by servile insurrection. And now, the most ignoble of all, you propose to degrade the human race by inducing soldiers to dishonor and forswear themselves.

Soldiers who have met your own on so many honorable fields, who have breasted the storm of battle in defence of their honor, their families, and their homes, for three long years, have a right to expect more of honor, even in their adversaries. I beg leave to return the copies of the proclamation, and your order.

I have the honor to renew to you the assurance of great respect, your obedient servant,

J. Longstreet, Lieutenant-General, Commanding.”

(Lee and His Generals, Profiles of Robert E. Lee and Seventeen other Generals of the Confederacy, Captain William P. Snow, Gramercy Books, 1867/1996, pp. 333-334)

Theodore Roosevelt's Tribute to Lee

In his Life of Thomas H. Benton (Houghton-Mifflin, 1900), Theodore Roosevelt traced the important influences which formed Benton’s character to the militant spirit found in his native South, and further mentions that important influence on the Southern army and its commander.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Theodore Roosevelt’s Tribute to Lee

“No man who is not willing to bear arms and to fight for his rights can give a good reason why he should be entitled to the privilege of living in a free community. The decline of the militant spirit in the Northeast during the first half of this century was much to be regretted.

To it is due more than to any other cause the undoubted average individual inferiority of the Northern compared with the Southern troops – at any rate, at the beginning of the [War].

The Southerners, by their whole mode of living, their habits, and their love of outdoor sports, kept up their warlike spirit, while in the North the so-called upper classes developed along the lines of a wealthy and timid bourgeoisie type, measuring everything by a mercantile standard (a peculiarly debasing one, if taken purely by itself), and submitting to be ruled in local affairs by low, foreign mobs, and in national affairs by their arrogant Southern kinsmen. The militant spirit of these last certainly stood them in good stead in the civil war.

The world has never seen better soldiers than those who followed Lee, and their leader will undoubtedly rank, without any exception, as the very greatest of all the great captains that the English-speaking peoples have brought forth . . .”

(Roosevelt’s Tribute to Lee, Rev. J.H. McNeilly; Confederate Veteran, June 1900, page 257)

Georgia's Alamo

Comparable to the vastly outnumbered Texans’ at the Alamo, and similar to Col. William Lamb’s vastly outnumbered and outgunned North Carolinians at Fort Fisher the following month, Fort McAllister’s garrison was fighting an enemy seventeen times their own strength. As is common today, Southern defenders are often termed “Confederates” rather than identified as mostly local men defending their homes, farms, families and State.

At Fort McAllister were the First Regiment, Georgia Reserve’s Companies D and E under Captains George N. Hendry and Angus Morrison, respectively; the Emmet Rifles under Capt. George A. Nicoll; and Capt. Nicholas Clinch’s Light Battery of artillery.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Georgia’s Alamo

“The sporadic crackle of musketry echoed through the woods and marshes as Union patrols probed the defenses of Fort McAllister on Tuesday, December 13, 1864. Hunched in the fort were about 230 Confederates commanded by [Savannah native] Major George W. Anderson, Jr. All of them knew they faced a grim and hopeless task in repelling the expected attack.

Behind . . . skirmishers and shielded by forests . . . four thousand Federals were deploying, intent on overrunning the fort at any cost. McAllister had a number of large-caliber guns, but most were aimed at the sea.

Under the direction of engineer Capt. Thomas A. White, the Confederates had done everything possible to strengthen McAllister, especially the landward defenses . . . as [enemy] troops neared the sea.

Anderson realized it would be much more difficult to hold the fort against a land assault, but vowed a fight to the last. “I determined under the circumstances, and notwithstanding the great disparity of numbers, between the garrison and attacking forces, to defend the fort to the last extremity,” he later recalled. Numbering his effectives as 150 men, Anderson added that “with no possible hope of reinforcement, from any quarter, . . . holding the fort was simply a question of time. There was but one alternative – death or captivity.”

The attack was launched shortly after 4PM. Ragged musketry and cannon fire dropped some of the Yankees as there neared the breastworks. Other explosions ripped gaps in the blue line . . . “[and torpedo-mines] were exploded by the tread of the troops, blowing many men to atoms.” “The Federal skirmish line was very heavy and the fire so close and so rapid that it was at times impossible to work our guns,” Anderson said of the [enemy] assault. “My sharpshooters did all in their power, but were entirely too few to suppress this galling fire upon the artillerists.”

[Enemy troops swarmed] onto the embankments to engage the Rebels in hand to hand combat. “[The enemy commander wrote that] There was a pause, a cessation of fire. The smoke cleared away and the parapets were blue with our men, who fired their muskets in the air . . . “

The surviving Confederate troops scrambled into the bombproofs, where the close-quarter fighting continued. The combat swirled for several minutes before the last defenders were overwhelmed. The Southerners “only succumbed as each man was individually overpowered,” [an enemy commander] reported.

“The fort was never surrendered,” Anderson recalled, “It was captured by overwhelming numbers.” Captain Nicholas B. Clinch, Anderson’s artillery commander, personified the Rebels’ mettle. Refusing to surrender, he became engaged ion a personal duel with [an enemy captain]. “The two fought for some minutes after the fighting had ceased,” a soldier recalled, “Both were good swordsmen and they were permitted to fight it out.” [The enemy captain] was “severely wounded about the head and shoulders” before other bluecoats intervened and subdued Clinch.

Bayoneted six times, sobered six times, and shot twice, Clinch was captured and survived the war. The fort was taken at 4:30PM, the assault lasting but fifteen minutes.”

(Civil War Savannah, Derek Smith, Frederic C. Beil, Publisher, 1997, pp. 173-178)

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 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)

Flight to Exile and Freedom in the Confederacy

Former Vice President John C. Breckinridge sat in the US Senate as a representative of Kentucky in July 1861. He denounced Lincoln’s concentration of power in Washington as an act “which, in every age of the world, has been the very definition of despotism.” He also saw the Republican party using the war to change the very character of our government, and the reduction of the resisting State’s into territories governed by Lincoln’s appointees.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Flight to Exile and Freedom in the Confederacy

“On September 18 [1861], the Kentucky legislature formally ended neutrality and took the side of the Union. The arrests began the same night, and among the first to be taken was former Governor [Charles] Morehead of Louisville. At the same time, the pro-Southern Louisville Courier was suppressed. That same day several men throughout the nation advised Washington authorities that Breckinridge should be arrested.

The Republican Cassius Clay, who believed that “John C. Breckinridge . . . was never at heart a Secessionist.” Even a bearded little Union general, U.S. Grant, sympathized with the senator in some degree. “He was among the last to go over to the South,” Grant would say, “and was rather dragged into the position.”

He had fought for compromise and failed; he had sought peace and moderation and found only bitterness; and had proclaimed his devotion to the Union to the best of his ability . . . He was an innocent man, but he would be taken, denied his rights, and like Morehead, spirited away to a prison deep in the North to sit for months without hope.

On October 8, 1861, from Bowling Green, he issued his last address as a statesman, and his first as a Confederate. He returned the trust given him to represent Kentucky in the Senate, he said. He could no longer keep it. He had tried to stand for the State’s wishes in Washington, he had opposed Lincoln’s war policy at every step, even to refusing Kentucky’s men and money . . . ”I resign,” he said, “because there is no place left where a Southern Senator may sit in council with the Senators of the North. In truth, there is no longer a Senate of the United States within the meaning and spirit of the Constitution.”

The Union no longer existed, he continued, Lincoln had assumed dictatorial powers. The rights of person and property were being flagrantly violated every day. Unlawful arrests were the rule. The subjugation and conquest of the South were the rallying cries in the Federal Congress.

As for Kentucky, her rights of neutrality had been violated repeatedly, arms secretly supplied to Federal sympathizers, troops unlawfully raised within her borders, the legislature intimidated and packed with the minions of Washington, freedoms of speech, press, and assembly, restricted, and hundreds forced to flee their homes for safety. He explained his own flight to avoid arrest, saying he would have welcomed it if he had any assurance that it would have been followed by a trial of judge and jury, but he knew that would not be.

Would Kentucky stand by while all of this went on? Would she consent to the usurpations of Lincoln and his hirelings; would she suffer her children to be imprisoned and exiled by the “German mercenaries” that the Union was enlisting to fights its war? Never, he said.

Whatever might be the future relations of the two nations, the old Union could never again be reunited as it once was. He wanted peace between the them lest one conquer the other and the result be military despotism. To defend his own birthright and that of his fellow Kentuckians who had been denied the protection due them, and were forced to choose between arrest, exile, or resistance, he now exchanged the “with proud satisfaction, a term of six years in the Senate of the United States for the musket of a soldier.” As one of those forced to make that choice, he said, “I intend to resist.”

(Breckinridge, Statesman, Soldier, Symbol, William C. Davis, LSU Press, 1974, pp. 287- 290)

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)

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