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The South and Her People

The conservative and noble Christian civilization of the South described below has all but vanished as the New South of industrial capitalism, materialism and commercial vulgarity supplanted it.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The South and Her People

Remarks of J.C.C. Black, at the Unveiling of the Benjamin H. Hill Statue, Atlanta, Georgia, May 1, 1886 (excerpt):

“As to us, [secession] was not prompted by hatred of the Union resting upon the consent of the people, and governed by the Constitution of our fathers. It was not intended to subvert the vital principles of the government they founded, but to perpetuate them. The government of the new did not differ in its form or any of its essential principles from the old Confederacy. The Constitutions were the same, except such changes as the wisdom of experience suggested.

The Southern Confederacy contemplated no invasion or conquest. Its chief corner-stone was not African slavery. Its foundations were laid in the doctrines of the Fathers of the Republic, and the chief corner-stone was the essential fundamental principle of free government; that all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Its purpose was not to perpetuate the slavery of the black race, but to preserve the liberty of the white race of the South. It was another Declaration of American Independence.

In the purity of their motives, in the loftiness of their patriotism, in their love of liberty, they who declared and maintained the first were not worthier than they who declared, and failed, in the last. Animated by such purposes, aspiring to such destiny, feeling justified then (and without shame now), we entered upon that movement. It was opposed by war on the South and her people.

What was the South, and who were her people? Where do you look for the civilization of a people? In their history, in their achievements, in their institutions, in their character, in their men and women, in their love of liberty and country, in their fear of God, in their contributions to the progress of society . . . Measured by this high standard, where was there a grander and nobler civilization than hers?

Where has there been a greater love of learning than that which established her colleges and universities? Where better preparatory schools, sustained by private patronage and not the exactions of the tax-gatherer – now unhappily dwarfed and well-nigh blighted by our modern system.

Whose people had higher sense of personal honor? Whose business and commerce were controlled by higher integrity? Whose public mean had cleaner hands and purer records? Whose soldiers were braver and knightlier? Whose orators more eloquent and persuasive? Whose statesmen more wise and conservative?

Whose young men more chivalric? Whose young women more chaste? Whose fathers and mothers worthier examples? Whose homes more abounded in hospitality as genial and free to every friendly comer as the sun that covered them with its splendor?

Where was there more respect for woman, for church, for the Sabbath, for God, and for the law, which, next to God, is entitled to the highest respect and veneration of man, for it is the fittest representative of His awful majesty, and power and goodness? Where was there more love of home, of country and of liberty?

Her religious teachers, deriving their theology from the Bible, guarded the Church from being spoiled “through philosophy and vain deceit after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

Her women adorned the highest social circles of Europe and America with their modesty, beauty and culture. Her men, in every society, won a higher title than “the grand old name of “gentleman” – that of “Southern gentlemen.”

It is asked what had [the South] added to the glories of the Republic?

Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? Jefferson. Who led the armies of the Republic in maintaining and establishing that independence? Who gave mankind new ideas of greatness? Who has taught the ruled of the world that man may be entrusted with power? Who has taught the rulers of the world when and how to surrender power? Washington.

What State made the first call for the convention that framed the Constitution? Virginia. Who was the father of the Constitution? Madison. Who made our system of jurisprudence, unsurpassed by the civil law of Rome and the common law of England? Marshall. Who was Marshall’s worthy successor? Taney.

Is it asked where [the South’s] history was written? It was written upon the brightest page of American annals. It was written upon the records of the convention that made the Constitution. It was written in the debates of Congresses that met, not to wrangle over questions of mere party supremacy, but, like statesmen and philosophers, to discuss and solve great problems of human government.

Forced to defend our homes and liberties after every honorable effort for peaceful separation, we went to war. Our leaders were worthy in their high commission. Our people sealed their sincerity with the richest treasure ever offered, and the noblest holocaust ever consumed upon the altar of country.

To many of you who enjoy the honor of having participated in it the history is known. You ought to prove yourselves worthy of that honor by teaching that history to those who come after you.”

(Southern Historical Society Papers, XIV, Rev. J. William Jones, editor, January to December 1886, excerpts, pp. 167-170)

 

South Carolina Withdraws From the Union

The people of South Carolina saw the Union broken by several Northern States nullifying the United States Constitution with their personal liberty laws, the same States which railed against South Carolina in 1832 over tariff nullification. The incessant abolitionist agitation which threatened violent slave insurrection, and the election of a purely sectional president settled the matter for South Carolina as it chose to peacefully form a more perfect union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

South Carolina Withdraws from the Union

“On November 13, the General Assembly in joint session ratified and act calling for a convention in Columbia on December 17. The election of delegates was set for December 6. Five former United States senators, the chief officers of Furman University and Limestone College, two railroad presidents, and a dozen clerics were among the 169 men elected as delegates to the convention. The majority were college graduates. More than one hundred were planters, and many of these planters had also passed the bar. More than forty had served in the State Senate, more than one hundred in the House of Representatives.

The convention assembled in Columbia’s First Baptist Church and, on its first day, unanimously resolved that “the State of South Carolina should forthwith secede from the Federal Union.” John A. Inglis introduced the resolution. Before the convention adjourned . . . [a committee was formed] to draft an ordinance and appointed John A. Inglis as chairman. By the next evening, the committee had agreed on the text that they would introduce for South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession.

On November 29, the [Charleston] Mercury printed a draft ordinance contributed by a “W.F.H.,” who noted that “the speedy secession of the State may be considered a fixed fact” and offered “a sort of diagram on which the problem can be worked.” The draft took nearly one hundred lines of newsprint.

On December 4, the Mercury responded to the draft submitted by its “esteemed correspondent.” Robert Barnwell Rhett, Jr., son of the secessionist leader and editor of the newspaper . . . objected to the “batch of details” which blurred the draft’s “force and dignity.”

We do not know how many drafts the committee had to consider in the few hours in which it did its work, but besides the draft printed in the Mercury, a manuscript document containing two other drafts, both unsigned, survives.

The longest of these additional drafts, “An Ordinance to withdraw from the Confederacy heretofore existing under the name of the United States of America,” is dated December 11. Its preamble cites tariffs, the obstruction of the recovery of fugitive slaves, “hostile agitation against the Southern institution of Slavery,” and the election of Abraham Lincoln as its justification and notes the declaration of 1852.

Eleven sections follow. They declare “the Confederacy heretofore existing between the State of South Carolina and the other States” dissolved, amend the State constitution, direct the governor to send a commissioner to President [James] Buchanan, provide for [foreign] trade, and empower the governor to appoint postmasters.

Ingliss’s committee, doubtless to satisfy those who wanted no further delay in officially leaving the Union, chose to present a much shorter and simpler text. [In] the afternoon of December 20 [1860], Chairman Inglis rose to present the committee’s [Ordinance of Secession]. There was no need for debate. Behind closed doors, a roll call vote was taken, alphabetically by surname, ending with “Mr. President.” It began at 1:07 P.M. and ended eight minutes later, at 1:15 when [convention President] David F. Jamison said “aye.” South Carolina had seceded by unanimous vote.”

(Relic of The Lost Cause, The Story of South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession, Charles H. Lesser, South Carolina Department of Archives & History, 1990, pp. 4-5)

The South Needs No Eulogy

Alexander White, antebellum United States Congressman from the Talledega District in Alabama and member of the State Convention in 1865, presented this speech to the convention. White “loved his country, he had loved the land of his birth, his native Alabama, before her disasters, before she was stricken down by armed battalions; but now in her misfortunes and desolation, now that she was in chains, he loved her more than ever.” Like Robert E. Lee, his country was his State, and to it he owed his allegiance above all else.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The South Needs No Eulogy

“Mr. President:

The Bonnie Blue flag no longer reflects the light of the morning sunbeam, or kisses with its silken folds the genial breezes of our Southern clime. The hands that waved it along the crest of a hundred battle-fields, and the hearts, for the love they bore it, that so often defied danger and death, no longer rally around it. Another banner waves in triumph over its closed and prostate folds; but proud memories and glorious recollections cluster around.

Sir, I will refrain. The South needs no eulogy. The faithful record of her achievements will encircle her brow with glory bright and enduring as the diadem that crowns the night of her cloudless skies. The scenes of Marathon and Platae have been reenacted in the New World without the beneficent results which flow from those battle-fields of freedom, and our country lies prostate at the feet of the conqueror.

But dearer to me is she in this hour of her humiliation than she was in the day and hour of her pride and her power. Each blood-stained battle-field, each track of her devastation, each new-made grave of her sons fallen in her defense, each mutilated form of the Confederate soldier — her widow’s tear, her orphan’s cry, are but so many chords that bind me to her in her desolation, and draw my affections closer around my stricken country.

When I raise my voice or lift my hand against her, may the thunder rive me where I stand!

Though I may be false in all else, I will be true to her. Though all others may prove faithless, I will be faithful still. And when, in obedience to the great summons, “Dust to dust,” my heart shall return to that earth from whence it sprang, it shall sink into her bosom with the proud consciousness that it never knew one beat not in union with the honor, the interests, the glory of my country.”

(Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama, William Garrett, Plantation Publishing Company’s Press, 1872, excerpts, pp. 562-564)

 

The Blood of Young James Taylor

South Carolinian James Hunt Taylor’s great-grandfather fought heroically for independence in the Revolution; his grandfather served as the first mayor of Columbia, governor, and United States congressman. Taylor’s father was a noted physician in Columbia, and the importance of duty to his State and country was instilled in him at an early age. This he carried with him as he joined in the defense of his home and country.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Blood of Young James Taylor

“Among the bravest Confederate soldiers were the colorbearers. As they stepped forward into battle, those young men and boys were bound by duty and honor to keep the Confederate and regimental flags flying at all costs. Virtually defenseless as they marched into the face of death, they proved to be inviting, and often easy, targets for enemy marksmen.

No position in the Confederate army was more revered and honored than the color sergeant. Consequently, despite the extreme dangers, soldiers willingly dropped their weapons to carry forward a flag after it had fallen in battle.

[Soon after the war began, a fifteen-year-old Taylor was with] the First South Carolina Volunteers [who] departed the Palmetto State under the command of Colonel (later General) Maxey Gregg. On their journey to Virginia, the soldiers carried with them a freshly made South Carolina flag. Today, that banner, preserved by the State of South Carolina, bears the damage of shot and shell and the blood of young James Taylor.

Following several months of fighting on the Virginia battlefields, Colonel Gregg entrusted the proud banner to Taylor’s hands . . . “as a reward for meritorious conduct as a soldier.” Taylor proudly and confidently carried the blue and white banner into battle after battle. His captain, Dan Miller, described the teenager as “bold, free and dashing.”

At Cold Harbor [in late June 1862] . . . the South Carolinians were greeted by heavy artillery fire. Taylor was soon hit . . . [and] ignoring his loss of blood and terrible pain, he continued to hurry forward, waving the flag to encourage the regiment to follow. Then he suffered a second wound . . . [and knocked] down by the blast, Taylor mustered enough energy to keep the flag flying from his prone position.

Upon seeing the color sergeant fall, Shubrick Hayne dropped his weapon and took the South Carolina flag . . . Taylor managed to stand up and stagger behind Hayne, who took but a few steps before he was mortally wounded. As the flag dropped from Hayne’s hands, Taylor took hold of it and attempted to inspire the men as he stumbled in the direction of heavy enemy fire.

For a third time he was wounded, a projectile smashing into his chest. The flag fell from his grasp, and he collapsed upon it, blood streaming from his body.

Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel H. Hamilton bent down to attend to his dying warrior. All James Hunt Taylor could manage to say was, “I can’t carry it any further, Colonel.”

(Let Us Die Like Brave Men: Behind the Dying Words of Confederate Warriors; Daniel W. Barefoot, John F. Blair Publishers, 2005, excerpt, pp. 37-39)

 

John Laurens, South Carolina Emancipator

Though John Laurens intention to emancipate and arm African slaves was intended to blunt the actions of Lord Dunmore’s Virginia emancipation proclamation of 1775 which fomented race war, which Lincoln later copied, South Carolina had earlier considered arming slaves for community defense. This shows too that using slaves as armed combatants with freedom as a reward predates the War Between the States, and an inevitable strategy, both offensive and defensive, given the great numbers of Africans brought to North America by British and New England slave ships.

Bernhard Thuersam www.Circa1865.com

 

John Laurens, South Carolina Emancipator

[Laurens] fought in the Battle of Brandywine, was wounded at Germantown, and spent the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge on Washington’s staff. At Monmouth the following summer he escaped unscathed when his horse was shot from under him . . . during the late summer of 1778 he had served as liaison officer between the French and American commands during the joint attack on Rhode Island. His linguistic ability made him popular with the French officers and useful to Washington who spoke no French at all.

Nevertheless, Laurens was able to prevail upon his commander to send him back to South Carolina where he hoped to raise and lead a regiment of blacks against the British in the South. Early in 1778 John Laurens broached the matter to his father, who was then president of the Continental Congress. “I would solicit you to cede me a number of your able-bodied men slaves, instead of leaving me a fortune,” he wrote.

Formed into a unit and trained, they might render important service during the next campaign, he argued. What is amazing about his plan, though, is not merely that he was willing to surrender a large part of his inheritance in order to augment the Continental Army — practically everything he did during the Revolution testifies to his willingness to sacrifice his own private interest in favor of the general welfare. Nor is it even that he was willing to arm the slaves — South Carolinians had considered that step during earlier emergencies.

Rather, the astonishing aspects of his proposal are its candor, its boldness and its lager purpose. Service in the revolutionary army would be a stepping-stone to freedom — “a proper gradation between abject slavery and perfect liberty,” which would not only prepare a slave to take his place in free society but also establish his claim to it. In short, his was a clever and far-reaching plan for the gradual abolition of slavery.

A year later, after the fall of Savannah, however, the obvious need for additional manpower led Congress to urge the Southern States to enlist three thousand blacks, who would be freed at the end of the war.”

(The Last of American Freemen, Robert M. Weir, Mercer University Press, 1986, excerpts, pp. 90-94)

 

Feb 18, 2017 - Antebellum Economics, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Jubal Early and the Goddess of Liberty

Jubal Early and the Goddess of Liberty

West Point cadet Jubal A. Early was nineteen years old when he wrote the following letter to his father in 1835, begging for permission to join the Texans in their fight for independence from Mexico. He would hold the same opinion of combatting tyranny in what he viewed to be Northern tyranny in the War Between the States — and continuing unabated after the War.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Jubal Early and the Goddess of Liberty

“The Texans are bound by every principle of self-preservation and are justified by the natural law of rights, as well as by precedent, to declare their independence and to resist the attempt which is being made to annihilate them. And we of the United States are called upon by every principle of humanity, by our love of liberty and our detestation of oppression, to go to the succor of our countrymen and aid in overwhelming the tyrant.

Shall we shed tears over the fate of Greece and Poland, yet see our countrymen slaughtered with indifference? The respect we entertain for our forefathers of the Revolution forbids it.

The gratitude we owe another country for espousing our cause imperiously commands us to espouse that of the oppressed. The cause of the Texans is more justifiable than was ours. We resisted the usurpation of our lawful government. They are resisting the tyranny and cruelty of [a] usurped government.

Liberty has been driven from the old world and its only asylum is in the new. It is the imperious duty of every one, who in this fair land has received it and its principles unsullied from his ancestors, to extend its dominion and to perpetuate its glorious light to posterity.

How can this be done if tyranny more despotic than that which exists in Europe is allowed to exist in our own confines? In succoring the Texans we should consider that we extend the sway of the goddess we worship, that we secure to their progeny the benefits of which we are so tenacious, and secure to the oppressed freemen of other countries an asylum which our own country will, ere long, not be able to afford them . . .

The great end of all education is to expand the mind and gain a knowledge of human nature. What is more calculated to expand the mind than the espousing of and working in the cause if liberty? What better book in which to study human nature than such a variety of characters as I would be constantly thrown with?

All things cry out to me to go [to Texas]. Oh, my dear father, will you not give me permission? Do not think that my resolution has been taken unadvisedly, and do not smile at my aspirations. I do not believe that I shall become a Bonaparte or [Simon] Bolivar, but he who never aspires, never rises. I have confined this letter to one subject because my whole soul is taken up with that subject.”

(Lt. Gen. Jubal Anderson Early, CSA, Narrative of the War Between the States; Da Capo Press, 1989 (original 1912), excerpt, pp. 471-472)

The True Story of the Late War

Northern General Don Piatt was a prewar Ohio lawyer who was critical of Lincoln, whom he believed a skeptic, believing only what he saw, and possessing a low estimate of human nature. Piatt believed the latter blinded Lincoln to the South as Southerners valued honor and were determined to achieve political liberty and independence.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The True Story of the Late War

“[James] Madison said: “A Union of States with such an ingredient as coercion would seem to provide for its own destruction.”

It certainly would provide for the destruction of the principles of liberty itself. Looked at in the lurid light of the [18]60’s, one expression in the above letter of President Madison will make the reader pause and reflect a moment. The “feeble debility of the South could never face the vigorous activity of the North.”

The Republican Party had inherited from its progenitor, the Federal [Party], the above idea of the South’s feeble debility. Members of that party invited United States Senators and Congressmen to take their wives and daughters out to see the first fight of the war, especially to “see rebels run at the sight of Union soldiers.” Everybody knows how the rebels ran at Bull Run.

Republican officers of the Union army have expressed their opinion of the South’s “feeble debility.” General Don Piatt, a Union officer, on this subject has this:

“The true story of the late war,” wrote General Piatt in 1887, “has not yet been told. It probably never will be told. It is not flattering to our people; unpalatable truths seldom find their way into history. How rebels fought the world will never know; for two years they kept an army in the field that girt their borders with a fire that shriveled our forces as they marched in, like tissue paper in a flame. Southern people were animated by a feeling that the word fanaticism feebly expresses. (Love of liberty expresses it.)

For two years this feeling held those rebels to a conflict in which they were invincible. The North poured out its noble soldiery by the thousands, and they fought well, but their broken columns and thinned lines drifted back upon our capital, with nothing but shameful disasters to tell of the dead, the dying, the lost colors and the captured artillery. Grant’s road from the Rapidan to Richmond was marked by a highway of human bones. The Northern army had more killed than the Confederate Generals had in command.”

“We can lose five men to their one and win,” said Grant. The men of the South, half-starved, unsheltered, in rags, shoeless, yet Grant’s marches from the Rapidan to Richmond left dead behind him more men than the Confederates had in the field!

The Reverend H.W. Beecher preached a sermon in his church on the “Price of Liberty” . . . [and] astonished his congregation by illustrations from the South:

”Where,” exclaimed the preacher, “shall we find such heroic self-denial, such upbearing under every physical discomfort, such patience in poverty, in distress, in absolute want, as we find in the Southern army? They fight better in a bad cause than you do in a good one; they fight better for a passion than you do for a sentiment. They fight well and bear up under trouble nobly, they suffer and never complain, they go in rags and never rebel, they are in earnest for their liberty, they believe in it, and if they can they mean to get it.”

“Lincoln’s low estimate of humanity,” says Piatt, “blinded him to the South. He could not understand that men would fight for an idea. He thought the South’s [independence] movement a sort of political game of bluff.”

Hannibal Hamlin said: “The South will have to come to us for arms, and come without money to pay for them.” “And for coffins,” said John P. Hale, with a laugh. “To put a regiment in the field,” said Mr. Speaker Banks, “costs more than the entire income of an entire Southern State.”

It was not long before the men of the North found that the South’s soldiers supplied themselves with arms and clothing captured from Union soldiers.”

(Facts and Falsehoods Concerning the War on the South, 1861-1865, George Edmunds, Spence Hall Lamb, 1904, pp. 117-119)

Feb 12, 2017 - Southern Conservatives, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Patriots, Southern Women, Withdrawing from the Union    Comments Off on Love and Southern Loyalty

Love and Southern Loyalty

An admirer of Southern society and culture, Northern Major-General John Pope held in very high esteem the Southern officers he had served with or under in the old army to include Joseph E. Johnston, P.G.T. Beauregard, G.W. Smith, and Barnard Bee. He feared that had General Winfield Scott departed Washington to serve his native State of Virginia, “no man can now tell how many more officers would have gone South with him.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Love and Southern Loyalty

“The Adjutant-General of the [United States] Army when the war broke out was Samuel Cooper, a native of New York and a graduate of West Point. He married a Virginia lady and had long before identified himself with that section of the country. It was a noticeable fact that, whilst almost every Northern man who married a Southern woman attached himself at once to his wife’s country and became naturally the most violent and bitter partisan of the South, very few Northern women were able, perhaps they were not anxious, to hold their [Southern] husbands loyal to the [Northern] government.

One of the strangest social phases that characterized the years before the war was the recognized social supremacy of the South and the deference paid to it. The South did not possess the wealth, the culture or the polish given by the experiences of foreign travel, yet in any society anywhere they dominated almost without question.

The South had been ruined in fortune and their customs and habits of life altogether overthrown. Yet poor, indeed well-nigh destitute, they still hold their heads high and are recognized as among the leaders of men of society by their far more prosperous fellow-citizens of the North. If things go on as they have been for the past ten years, the South by the end of another ten years will be as fully in possession of the government and will as completely direct its policy as in 1858 . . . [the South] blazes that power to rule and that fitness to command which characterized them before the war and which is rapidly being recognized and submitted to now.

General Cooper, as I have said, was a native of New York and except through his wife could have had neither interest in the South nor sympathy with its purpose . . . I do not now recall a single Northern officer who married a Southern woman who did not go South with her.”

(The Military Memoirs of General John Pope, Cozzens & Girardi, editors, UNC Press, 1998, pp. 200-201)

Brave Deeds Worthy of Harp and Poet

Gen. Jubal Early was held in high esteem by Stonewall Jackson, in whose army the former commanded a division. General Robert E. Lee greatly valued Early as a subordinate commander and tolerated Early’s cursing in his presence. “Old Jube” had an opportunity to capture Washington late in the war, and rather than submit to subjugation at war’s end decided on temporary exile in Canada via Havana. The home he occupied at Niagara-on-the-Lake across from Fort Niagara still stands.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Brave Deeds Worthy of the Harp and Poet

“It was my fortune to participate in most of the military operations in which the army in Virginia was engaged both before and after General Lee assumed the command. My operations and my campaign stand on their own merits.

I believe that the world has never produced a body of men superior, in courage, patriotism and endurance, to the private soldiers of the Confederate armies. I have repeatedly seen those soldiers submit, with cheerfulness, to privations and hardships which would appear to be almost incredible; and the wild cheers of our brave men, when their thin lines were sent back opposing hosts of Federal troops, staggering, reeling and flying, have often thrilled every fiber in my heart.

I have seen, with my own eyes, ragged, barefooted, and hungry, Confederate soldiers perform deeds which, if performed in days of yore by mailed warriors in glittering armor, would have inspired the harp of the minstrel and the pen of the poet.

Having been a witness of and participant in great events, I have given a statement of what I saw and did, for the use of the future historian. Having had some means of judging, I will say that, in my opinion, both Mr. [Jefferson] Davis and General Lee, in their respective spheres, did all for the success of our cause which it was possible for mortal men to do and it is a great privilege and comfort for me so to believe. In regard to my own services, I have the consciousness of having done my duty to my country, to the very best of my ability.

During the war, slavery was used as a catch-word to arouse the passions of a fanatical mob, and to some extent the prejudices of the civilized world were excited against us; but the war was not made on our part for slavery.

High dignitaries in both church and state in Old England, and puritans in New England, had participated in the profits of a trade by which the ignorant and barbarous natives of Africa were brought from that country and sold into slavery in the American Colonies.

The generation in the Southern States which defended their country in the late war, found amongst them, in a civilized and Christianized condition, 4,000,000 of the descendants of those degraded Africans. Nevertheless, the struggle made by the people of the South was not for the institution of slavery, but for the inestimable right of self-government, against the domination of a fanatical faction at the North; and slavery was the mere occasion of the development of the antagonism between the two sections. That right of self-government has been lost, and slavery violently abolished.

When the passions and infatuations of the day shall have been dissipated by time, and all the results of the late war shall have passed into irrevocable history, the future chronicler of that history will have a most important duty to perform, and posterity, while poring over its pages, will be lost in wonder at the follies and crimes committed in this generation.”

(Gen. Jubal A. Early: Narrative of the War Between the States, Jubal A. Early, Da Capo Press, 1989 (original 1912), excerpts, pp. viii-x)

 

Feb 8, 2017 - Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots, Southern Women    Comments Off on Beauregard’s Romantic Set of Spies

Beauregard’s Romantic Set of Spies

Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard’s sweeping plans to annihilate the Northern host invading Virginia in mid-July 1861 were Napoleonic in character though both Davis and Lee discounted them due to Beauregard’s inflated numbers of troops available, and that rather than risk open battle against a superior force, the enemy would simply retire to its Washington’s defenses. Nonetheless, the Creole general did amass an interesting coterie of spies to monitor enemy movements.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Beauregard’s Romantic Set of Spies

“On July 13 [1861, Beauregard] sent an aide to Richmond with a proposal for the union of his army with [Gen. Joseph E.] Johnston’s. Hardly had the aide left when Beauregard enlarged his plan and sent Colonel James R., Chestnut of his staff to explain it to [President Jefferson] Davis.

The completed plan was truly Napoleonic. Johnston, leaving five thousand men in the Valley to contain the Federals, was to join Beauregard with twenty thousand (Johnston had eleven thousand in his command). The combined force would attack and destroy McDowell. Then Johnston would return to the Valley with his own army and ten thousand of Beauregard’s and smash the Federals there.

Next, Johnston would detach enough men to western Virginia to clear the enemy out of that region. These troops would return and join Johnston, who would then invade Maryland and attack Washington from the rear, while Beauregard, coming up from Manassas, would attack it in front.

In describing the plan to Johnston, Beauregard wrote: “I think this whole campaign could be completed brilliantly in from fifteen to twenty-five days. Oh, that we had but one good head to conduct all our operations.” Both the President and [Robert E.] Lee objected to it on two counts.

His design of grand strategy rejected by the government, Beauregard turned to studying the movements of McDowell. Of these he was kept informed by as romantic a set of spies as any general ever had in his service. Just before the war started, Colonel Thomas Jordan, his chief of staff, had arranged a spy apparatus in Washington.

He asked Mrs. Rose Greenhow, famous capital society dowager and Southern sympathizer, to send him information of important Federal movements . . . [and] provided her with a crude cipher. Mrs. Greenhow dispatched her first message in early July: McDowell would advance on the sixteenth.

It was carried from Washington by a beautiful girl named Bettie Duvall, who disguised herself as a country girl and rode in a farm wagon to Virginia. Going to the home of friends, she changed her costume to a riding habit, borrowed a horse, and rode to [Brigadier-General Milledge Luke] Bonham’s headquarters at Fairfax Courthouse. Both Bonham and his young officers were thrilled when she unrolled her long hair, took out Mrs. Greenhow’s dispatch, and handed it to the general.

At this time, volunteer girl spies from Virginia were bursting into Beauregard’s lines at every turn, bearing news that the Yankees were coming. They were received with consideration and applause, although their information was generally vague and available in Washington newspapers.

To secure more definite news [Beauregard’s chief of staff Thomas] Jordan sent a man named Donellan to Mrs. Greenhow. He carried a scrap of paper on which Jordan had written in cipher “Trust bearer.” He reached Washington on July 16 and received from her a code message saying McDowell had been ordered to move on Manassas that night.

Travelling in a buggy and using relays of horses, Donellan brought the dispatch into the Confederate lines. It was delivered to Beauregard between eight and nine the same night.”

(P.G.T. Beauregard, Napoleon in Gray, T. Harry Williams, LSU Press, 1955, excerpts, pp. 74-76)

 

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