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The Unspoken Significance of Fort Fisher’s Fall in 1865

Fort Fisher, January 2017

This weekend the Fort Fisher historic site near Kure Beach, North Carolina observes the 152nd anniversary of the second Northern attack that succeeded in capturing the fort after a massive bombardment of 50,000 shells which killed or wounded 500 or so mostly-North Carolinians who fought valiantly from traverse to traverse before capitulating. Those taken prisoner by the enemy were shipped northward to frigid prisons in New Jersey and New York – the latter infamously referred to as a death camp.

Many people visiting Fort Fisher note that it can be an eerie experience – like walking the fields of Appomattox and sensing the death-knell of liberty and independence it is known for.

The State employees of the historic site will hold events of blue-clad troops splashing ashore to free North Carolinians from the yoke of independence and self-government, as well as waving the US flag from the top of captured cannon traverses. The red, white and blue flags of the North Carolinians will be minimized if shown at all. Rather than note that most of the defenders were North Carolina farmers from surrounding counties, the fort and media will refer to them as merely “Confederates.”

Often noted during these observances is the enemy soldier who fell out of ranks to visit his mother’s home — as his brother was fighting to defend his country in a grey uniform.  And few seem to comprehend that this wayward North Carolinian in blue is the very definition of treason, of aiding, abetting and going over to the enemy.

Also, what is usually not discussed at events like this are the sectional differences of that era and multitude of reasons why the South was invaded, and the important aftermath of that battle for the fort. What really happened in mid-January 152 years ago was the ending of an American struggle for freedom and independence, the consent of the governed to rule themselves, and the equivalent of Washington surrendering to British forces at Yorktown.

What happened after the fort fell is very important to remember, especially as one looks at the blue-clad reenactors splashing ashore waving their flag on what was then foreign soil to them. What was their true purpose?

After the fort was overwhelmed and silenced, the 10,000-man enemy army marched toward Wilmington in two columns and after some spirited skirmishes, captured the city, imposed martial law, seized private property, and forced citizens to swear allegiance to a foreign government in order to conduct their businesses.

When the enemy departed Wilmington, they moved to join other enemy forces coming into North Carolina from South Carolina and from occupied New Bern. At Bentonville the combined enemy outnumbered Southern forces 4 to 1 — who fought them to a standstill – they then moved on to capture Raleigh, arrest and imprison the governor, and impose military rule on North Carolina. Think of the French capitulation to Germany in 1940.

After the surrender of Southern forces in May, 1865 at Bennett Place, the “reconstruction” of the South lasted until 1877 – some say it never ended — though without armies and without as much gunfire. North Carolina endured rule by a new State constitution imported by a military consul appointed from Washington, and corrupt local men who sought employment with the late enemy. The new imported constitution settled the secession issue for good by stating that North Carolina will never again seek independence or political freedom from the United States Government.

Understandably, July 4, 1865 in occupied Wilmington was a muted affair, celebrated only by locals collaborating with the enemy and newly-freed blacks who were unaware that they had only changed masters.  Blue-clad sentries still patrolled the streets to ensure the rebellion did not re-ignite; then came the vultures known as “carpetbaggers.”

Former Governor Zebulon Vance described the aftermath of war in North Carolina in 1890:

“The carnival of corruption and fraud, the trampling down of decency, the rioting in the overthrow of the traditions of a proud people, the chaos of hell on earth which took place beggars the descriptive powers of plain history . . . I believe a committee of Congress, who took some testimony on this subject, estimated in 1871 the amount of plunder which was extracted from the Southern people in about 5 short years — some $300 millions of dollars in the shape of increased debt alone, to say nothing of the indirect damage inflicted by the many ways of corruption and misrule which cannot be estimated in money.”

The fall of Fort Fisher and ultimate surrender at Bennett Place led to the carnival of corruption that Vance illuminated. We should remember what occurred at Fort Fisher in mid-January 1865 for what it was and what it led to — the ending of an American struggle for freedom and independence, the consent of the governed to rule themselves. This is the sad fact that we should observe, and be cognizant of when gazing at the great earthen fortress.

Bernhard Thuersam

 

 

“In Defense of Their Traditional Liberties”

In his May 1, 1861 message to the North Carolina General Assembly, Governor John Ellis of referred to the “Northern Government” and that “they have drawn the sword against us and are now seeking our blood. They have promised to partition our property and the earnings of our people among the mercenary soldiers after our subjugation shall be effected. All fraternity of feeling is lost between us and them. We can no longer live with them. There must be a separation at once and forever.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

“In Defense of Their Traditional Liberties”

“Although North Carolina had soon after the adoption of the Federal constitution taken steps to prevent the importation of Negroes, not only from abroad but from any other State, yet in the progress of time the system of slavery became strongly engrafted on her social structure, and the agitation of slavery question excited her people greatly.

Periodically this agitation stirred the people and animated them to maintain with steadfastness the right to manage their own domestic, local concerns in their own way.

At length when it was declared that an “irrepressible conflict” had arisen, and that the “Union could not exist half slave and half free,” it came to be regarded that the limitations of the Federal constitution were no longer to be observed, and that the abolition party would seek to abolish slavery. This led South Carolina and other commonwealths to the South to withdraw from the Union.

The question of holding a convention for the purpose of withdrawing was submitted to the people of North Carolina in the spring of 1861, but so conservative were they and so attached to the Union, that they separated themselves from their Southern brethren and refused to call the convention. The difference between the votes was, however, small — only about 250 in the poll of the entire State.

Such was the situation, when in April 1861, Fort Sumter was bombarded and President Lincoln called on North Carolina to furnish her quota of troops to coerce the seceding States. These events changed the aspect of affairs in North Carolina instantaneously. All differences ceased.

Union men, who, like George E. Badger, did not hold to the right of secession, united now in the declaration that North Carolinians must [now] share in the fortunes of their Southern kindred. Then amid the excitement of that period came the rapid preparations for the inevitable conflict — the marshaling of troops, the formation of armies, the strenuous endeavors to equip and maintain our citizen [soldiers] and make defense of our unprotected coast.

Never was there a finer display of patriotic ardor; never did peaceable ploughboys more quickly assume the character of veteran soldiers. It was if a common inspiration possessed the souls of all the people and animated them to die, if need be, in defense of their traditional liberties.

During the four years of strife that followed, the people of North Carolina bore themselves with an unparalleled heroism. With a voting population of 112,000, North Carolina sent to the army 125,000 soldiers.

Strenuous efforts were made to provide food for the soldiers and the poor, and while salt works were erected along the sea coast, vast quantities of cards were imported for the women to use at home, and other supplies were brought through the blockade.

[Life then] was accompanied, however, by straits and hardships, suffering and mourning, the separation from husbands and fathers from their families and the pall of death that fell upon every household. What awful experiences were crowded into four years of heroic and grand sacrifice — how trying the vicissitudes, how calamitous the dire result!”

(Cyclopedia of Eminent and Representative Men of the Carolinas of the 19th Century, Volume II, Brant & Fuller, 1892, pp. 35-36)

 

Principles Essential to the Perpetuation of the Union

Richmond’s bronze statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson was dedicated on October 26, 1875 before a crowd of 50,000; the oration was delivered by the Rev. Moses D. Hoge of Richmond’s Second Presbyterian Church.  Gen. Joseph E. Johnston served as Chief-Marshal; attending were Generals D.H. Hill, W.H.F. Lee, Fitzhugh Lee, and 500 members of the Old Stonewall Brigade.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Principles Essential to the Perpetuation of the Union

“For, when we ask what has become of the principles in defense of which Jackson imperiled and lost his life, then I answer: A form of government may change, a policy may perish, but a principle may never die. Circumstances may so change as to make the application of the principle no longer possible, bits it innate vitality is not affected thereby. The conditions of society may be so altered as to make it idle to contend for a principle which no longer has any practical force, but these changed conditions of society have not annihilated one original truth.

The application of these postulates to the present situation of our country is obvious. The people of the South maintained, as their fathers maintained before them, that certain principles were essential to the perpetuation of the Union according to its original Constitution.

Rather than surrender their convictions, they took up arms to defend them. The appeal was in vain. Defeat came, they accepted it, with its consequences, just as they would accepted victory with its fruits.

But it is idle to shut our eyes to the fact that this consolidated empire of States is not the Union established by our fathers. No intelligent European student of American institutions is deceived by any such assumption. We gain nothing by deceiving ourselves.

And if history teaches any lesson, it is this: that a nation cannot long survive when the fundamental principles which gave it life, originally, are subverted. [Remember] Jackson’s clear, ringing tone . . . :

“What is life without honor? Degradation is worse than death. We must think of the living and of those who are to come after us, and see that by God’s blessing we transmit to them the freedom we have enjoyed.”

(Oration of Rev. Moses D. Hoge, Unveiling of the Statue of Stonewall Jackson, Richmond, Virginia; Stonewall Jackson, A Military Biography, D. Appleton and Company, 1876, excerpt pp. 564)

 

Jan 7, 2017 - America Transformed, Southern Conservatives, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Southern Courage and Carnage at Malvern Hill

Southern Courage and Carnage at Malvern Hill

After the costly Confederate assault on Malvern Hill on June 30, 1862, Stonewall Jackson ordered burial details to carry their dead from the “killing ground.” Author S.C. Gwynne writes that “Unlike most Civil War battles, in which artillery caused less than 5 percent of casualties, at Malvern Hill more than half of the Confederate dead and wounded had been victims of Federal solid shot, shell, spherical case, and canister. After such carnage in a war between Americans — one side fighting for independence from the other — it is a wonder that Lincoln did not raise his hand to halt the bloodbath and allow the South to govern itself in peace.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Courage and Carnage at Malvern Hill

“The place was more like a killing field, a defensive position that Fitz John Porter, architect of the fearsome [Northern] works at Mechanicsville and Gaines’s Mill, considered to be the strongest of the campaign so far.

The Union advantage started with its artillery: 268 cannons, many of them rifled, plus 26 giant siege guns that McClellan had been preparing to use against Richmond. The guns were everywhere: stacked on the brow of the hill, bristling on the army’s flanks, and even ranged in front of the infantry, where their flesh-tearing canister loads would enjoy a clear field of fire. Around them, stacked to the top of the rise, were the blue masses of infantry, fifty-four thousand of them.

The borders of the amphitheater were unassailable: ravines, swamps, streams and thick woods meant that the Union troops could not be flanked. Which meant the Confederate attack would be funneled into a narrow front with no cover. The rebel infantry would have to attack the Union position by coming up the rise, straight into the teeth of the strongest artillery emplacement of the war.

It looked like suicide, and Jackson and his brother-in-law [Gen.] D.H. Hill, who formed the Confederate left at the base of the slope, and along with [Gen. Benjamin] Huger’s and [Gen. John B.] Magruder’s troops would do the fighting this day, understood this at once.

For the Union gunners, the battle was more like a large-scale turkey shoot. Whenever a Confederate battery would unlimber, the massed Union guns would open on it, blowing it to pieces. When Jackson [ordered division commander Gen. W.H.C. Whiting] to bring up his guns . . . it took a moment for the Union batteries to register this. And then they blew the guns, wagons, men, horses, limbers, and caissons to bits.

Jackson, meanwhile, continued giving orders, in one case while a battery was being destroyed before his eyes. “He sat erect on his horse in this hurricane of canister and grape,” recalled one soldier, “his face was aflame with passion, his eyes flashing,”

Other Confederate gun crews were just as helpless before the massed counterbattery fire from the hill. After the war, McClellan’s chief of artillery . . . told Jackson’s artillerist Tom Munford, chillingly, how easy it was to destroy the rebel guns. He said he had “fifty pieces massed at Malvern Hill which he could concentrate on any battery that came out in the open and that they melted like wax before his rain of projectiles.”

Magruder’s first attacks did nothing but sacrifice several thousand men to Federal artillery and musketry [though they] became an inadvertent signal . . . for a general advance. The result was pure slaughter, some of the worst of the war. To their credit, the Southern infantry did not give up. They pressed attack after attack and were badly shot up, a huge percentage of them by artillery. “It was not war, it was murder,” said D.H. Hill later.”

(Rebel Yell, the Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson, S.C. Gwynne, Scribner & Sons, 2014, excerpts, pp. 379-382)

Dec 25, 2016 - Economics, Southern Patriots, The War at Sea    Comments Off on “Rhett Butler” and the Other Runners Speak

“Rhett Butler” and the Other Runners Speak

The port city of Wilmington, North Carolina, was the most successful and lasting entry for blockade-running during the war, not falling until mid-January 1865. Though Governor Zeb Vance had created State-owned runners to bring in military supplies, the Richmond government forced private runners into limiting luxury items and carrying government cotton and goods – thus reducing their profits. The “Captain Roberts” mentioned below was in fact Augustus Charles Hobart Hampden, a British sailor of fortune who wrote “Never Caught” in 1867, a personal account of his 27 trips through the Northern blockade. The home he rented is passed on the “Confederate Wilmington” walking tour, see: www.cfhi.net.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

“Rhett Butler” and the Other Runners Speak

“Shortly after the various features of the 1864 legislation were put into effect, Captain Roberts, one of the most successful blockade-runners, ceased all activities, saying:

“The game, indeed, was fast drawing to a close. Its decline was caused in the first instance by the impolitic behavior of the people at Wilmington, who, professedly acting under orders from the Confederate Government at Richmond, pressed the blockade-runners into their service to carry cotton on Government account in such an arbitrary manner, that the profit to their owners, who had been put to enormous expense and risk in sending vessels in, was so much reduced that the ventures hardly paid.”

Another of the most famous blockade-runners – often believed to have been the real-life model for Margaret Mitchell’s character of Rhett Butler . . . was Thomas Taylor, who made twenty-eight trips through the blockade. Unlike Captain Roberts, Taylor continued to run the blockade because he had negotiated a secret profit arrangement with the Confederate Commissary-General that compensated him for the 1864 legislation.

Late in the war, despite his best efforts to the contrary. Taylor accurately predicted the downfall of the Confederacy. Writing to his superiors on January 15, 1865 [the date of the Northern attack on Fort Fisher], he said, “I never saw things more gloomy, and I think spring will finish them unless they make a change for the better.”

As he had put it, had blockade-running been encouraged, “instead of having obstacles thrown in the way, I am convinced that the conditions of affairs would have been altered very materially, and perhaps would have led to the South obtaining what it had shed so much blood to gain, viz., its independence.”

It appears that the blockade-runners could adjust to the advances of the Union blockade, but not to the economic constraints of the Confederate legislation. As Captain Roberts explained, “the enterprise had lost much of its charm; for, unromantic as it may seem, much of the charm consisted in money-making.”

Economic motives, however much we support or reject them ethically, morally, or philosophically, appear to have determined the outcome for the lifeline of the Confederacy.”

(Tariffs, Blockades and Inflation, the Economics of the Civil War; Mark Thornton and Robert B. Ekelund, Jr., Scholarly Resources Books, 2004, excerpts, pp. 53-54)

 

Dec 25, 2016 - Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Union Panic Fever at Ream’s Station

Union Panic Fever at Ream’s Station

The Northern failure at Ream’s Station in late August, 1864 took a personal toll on Northern General Winfield S. Hancock, whose men panicked under the assault by A.P. Hill and Henry Heth. By the end of the day, triumphant Southern troops took captured 12 stands of enemy colors, 9 cannon, 3,100 small arms, and sent Hancock’s two divisions fleeing northward.  It was Northern Gen. Nelson Miles who later manacled President Jefferson Davis at Fortress Monroe, by order of Lincoln’s Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. Dana, a confidante of Karl Marx.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Union Panic Fever at Ream’s Station

“Major-General Henry Heth arrived on the field with two fresh Confederate brigades and assumed tactical control of the operation. He conferred briefly with the stricken [Gen. A.P.] Hill, who told him that he “must carry the position.” With Heth came Colonel William J. Pegram and twelve artillery pieces. While Pegram arranged his cannon to bombard the Federals, Heth deployed a three-brigade assault force aimed at the northwest corner of the enemy perimeter. Pegram opened fire at 5:00 P.M.

Henry Heth moved to signal the advance by calling for a regimental flag to be brought to him. The standard of the 26th North Carolina arrived, along with its young color-bearer. Heth asked for the flag, but the color-bearer insisted on carrying it himself. Heth smiled and took the soldier by his arm. “Come on then, we will carry the colors together,” he said.  This was the signal to begin the third assault on Reams Station.

The [Southerners] were blasted from the moment they came into view, and the heavy fire was kept up as the leading Rebel elements scattered the Federal pickets . . . A few more minutes of this punishment, [Gen.] Nelson Miles thought, and the [Confederates] would have to withdraw.

Suddenly, three of his regiments near the northwest angle panicked, and their once neat battle lines dissolved into a welter of fleeing men. At the same moment, triumphant [Southern] soldiers began to clamber over the breastworks. Other units along the upper western section of the [federal] line began to break apart. “This was the turning point of the fight,” one of the frightened Federals later recalled, “and here we failed.”

Rebel rifle fire ripped into the battery covering the gap . . . [and the enemy cannons were captured].  A New York battery posted [nearby] twisted its gun around to fire into the lost lines even as the regiments supporting it began to catch the panic fever.  Once their infantry help fled, the gunners had to run as well, leaving their pieces for the enemy.

The Union lines below the Depot Road gave way at about the same time Miles counterattacked . . . Union cannoneers . . . fought their guns to the last, then had to leave them behind as they raced for cover; many of the horses whose task it was to pull the guns out of harm’s way had become early victims of [Southern] sharpshooters.

[With Gen. Wade] Hampton’s cavalrymen and horse batteries pressing the southern face of Hancock’s line, some of the [federals] were in fact getting hit from three sides. Once the western face of the perimeter collapsed, dismounted Confederate troopers poured into [Hancock’s] earthworks.

The possibility of encirclement decided the matter: at 8:00 P.M., [Northern Gen. Winfield S.] Hancock issued orders to withdraw.  By 9:00 P.M., the Federals had disengaged and pulled back to the east. In the confusion of this night movement, Hancock’s devoted adjutant and postwar biographer, Francis Walker, was captured when he rode into an enemy picket line.

It had been a hard-won victory for Confederate arms, so much so that A.P. Hill decided not to pursue Hancock’s retreating corps. His troops, and Hampton’s, were kept busy rounding up prisoners and captured weapons. Then nature closed the scene with some artillery of its own: a heavy thunderstorm rumbled across Reams Station, bringing vivid flashes of light in the heavens along with a pelting rain that washed over the weary, wounded and dead alike.”

(The Last Citadel, Petersburg, Virginia, June 1864-April 1865, Noah Andre Trudeau, Little, Brown and Company, 1991, excerpts pp. 186-189)

 

Dec 18, 2016 - American Military Genius, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Utilizing the Enemy’s Commissary

Utilizing the Enemy’s Commissary

Viscount Garnet Wolseley wrote in his “English View of the American Civil War” that when he was with Lee’s army at Winchester, Virginia in the autumn of 1862 that “the soldiers in every camp laughingly spoke of General John] Pope as “Stonewall Jackson’s Commissary,” so entirely had Jackson in the “Pope Campaign” depended upon capturing from that General everything he required for his men” (page 139).

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Utilizing the Enemy’s Commissary

“The battle of Gettysburg will, no doubt, rank as the turning point of the war though perhaps it may better be called the breaking point of the South’s resources. For months our men had been on rations such as no troops ever campaigned on and did a tithe of the work ours were called on to do.

Corn meal and damaged bacon were the staples, often so damaged that to live on them inured disease. Medicines, chloroform especially, had got so scarce that small operations as painful as great ones were done without it. Much of that which was used was of such bad quality that it was used as only a choice of evils.

Delicacies for the sick were unheard of. They lived on damaged bacon or lean beef or went hungry. Clothes and shoes were scant and insufficient, except for those which were taken from our friends, the enemy. Overcoats would have been almost unknown but for them, though for that matter we would have fared badly for everything but for their contributions.

Certainly half our muskets and two-thirds our artillery were forced contributions from them, while [General N. P.] Banks, who commanded United States troops in the [Shenandoah] Valley in 1862, was better known as and better deserved the title of [Stonewall] Jackson’s commissary than as commander of his troops.

The state of affairs would appear to give compelling reasons for the much-criticized advance into Pennsylvania. With our railroad lines worn out, our ports blockaded, and the field of operations stripped by both armies, and burned and desolated by the enemy, who at last openly declared that their policy would be, as Sheridan later boasted, to leave the country so that a crow flying over it would have to carry his rations, the capture of arms, clothing, medicine, and even food, which earlier had added to our comfort, now came to be a necessity.

It looked easier to go to the enemy’s homes to get it, and to leave our poor people a chance to rest and to gather together the fragments left them.”

(The Haskell Memoirs, Govan and Livingood, editors, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1960, excerpts, pp. 54-55)

 

Dec 17, 2016 - American Military Genius, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Success of the Confederate Privateers

Success of the Confederate Privateers

Early in the war, Alabamian Raphael Semmes evaluated the South’s naval dilemma of not having a navy to speak of, and advised the use of privateers to prey upon the North’s merchant marine. His record with the CSS Sumter was exemplary, as was the career of the CSS Alabama he later captained. His protocol when capturing Northern commerce was in accordance with the laws of war: “We were making war upon the enemy’s commerce, but not upon unarmed seamen.”  Semmes and other Confederate privateers like John Newland Maffitt and John Wilkinson virtually destroyed the North’s merchant marine.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Success of the Confederate Privateers

“The advance [of American merchant ships] continued to 1855, when American steam-shipping amounted to 115,000 tons. From that time a retrograde movement set in, and the steam-tonnage of the United States was less in 1862 than it was seven years before. The civil war which intervened accelerated the decline, and prevented attention from being devoted to the subject, which might possibly have given a different direction to events.

American commerce was, in a measure, driven from the seas by Confederate cruisers and their allies, and American shipping was sold to foreigners on account of the special risks to which its use was subjected. Attention was turned away from ship-building for commercial purposes, and from the fostering of commercial interests in general, and the heavy burdens imposed upon the country in order to raise war revenues had the effect of restricting foreign intercourse and trade.

Accordingly, when the war was over, the American merchant marine was well-nigh destroyed. The wooden sailing vessels had largely disappeared, there had been no increase in steam-tonnage, and the slight revival which followed the return of peace affected the coasting-trade mainly, if not wholly.”

(Merchant Marine of the United States, Appleton’s Annual Cyclopedia, 1882, Appleton & Company, page 522)

Dec 16, 2016 - American Military Genius, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on A Suffering Devotion to the Cause of Independence

A Suffering Devotion to the Cause of Independence

The winter of 1864-1865 at Petersburg found Pickett’s Division cold, hungry, and opposed by a well-fed and equipped war machine. Unable to defeat the starving American army that resembled Washington’s at Valley Forge, the North resorted to propaganda leaflets.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Suffering Devotion to the Cause of Independence

“The cold winter winds began to be felt in the close of the November days . . . The men were not only thinly-clad, but some, at least, had but little clothing of any kind and a large number were without shoes; and when the first blasts of winter came numbers could be seen shivering over the small fires they were allowed to kindle.

Famine stared them in the face; the ration being from one-eighth to one-fourth of a pound of bacon and one pint of unsheived corn meal a day, and occasionally a few beans or peas. With empty stomachs, naked bodies and frozen fingers, these men clutched their guns with an aim so steady and deadly that the men on the other side were exceedingly cautious how they lifted their heads from behind their sheltered places.

[T]hese heroic men, who loved their cause better than life stood to their posts, and defied the enemy to the last. The enemy, by general orders and circular letters which they managed to send and scatter among the Confederate soldiers, offered all manner of inducements to have them desert their country; but, as a rule, such offers were indignantly spurned.

The consecration of the Southern women to the cause for which their husbands, sons, brothers, and sweethearts struggled and suffered, is beyond the power of the pen to describe. The hardships of these women were equal to, and often greater than that of the shivering, freezing and starving soldier in the field.

They had not only given these men to the cause, but, in fact, themselves too; for they remained at home and labored in the fields, went to the mill, the blacksmith shops, lived on cornbread and sorghum molasses, and gave practically every pound of meat, flour and all the vegetables they could raise to the men in the army, whom they encouraged to duty in every possible way.

They manufactured largely their own clothing, out of material that they had produced with their own hands; and would have scorned any woman who would wear northern manufactured goods . . .”

Through this long, cold, dreary winter, Pickett’s Division — less than five thousand strong — held the line which, in length, was not less than four miles; being not many beyond one thousand men to the mile; only a good skirmish line; over which the enemy, by a bold, determined charge, could at any time have gone.

It is certain that if the Federal line in front of Pickett’s men had been as weak, and held by as few men as that of Pickett, they would have either been prisoners before the 1st day of January 1865, or have been driven into the James River and drowned.”

(A History of Middle New River Settlements and Contiguous Territory, David E. Johnston, Standard Printing, 1906, pp. 285-288)

 

Dec 14, 2016 - Southern Conservatives, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots, Southern Statesmen    Comments Off on Superior Heroes and Noble Patriots

Superior Heroes and Noble Patriots

Dr. Hunter McGuire, Stonewall Jackson’s surgeon, recalled Edmund Burke’s opinion of the Southern people in America, that they are “much more strongly and with a higher and more stubborn spirit attached to liberty than those in the [North].” Burke added that “such were the ancient Commonwealths; such were our Gothic ancestors; and such, in our day, the Poles . . . In such a people the haughtiness of domination combines with the spirit of freedom, fortifies it and renders it invincible.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Superior Heroes and Noble Patriots

[Southern] society produced splendid men and women, probably the best on this continent. Culture, grace, elegance, self-reliance, were its legitimate offshoots. Orators, poets, statesmen, soldiers, scientists, lawyers, ministers and physicians, the first and greatest in the whole land, came out of it.

What orator have we like Henry or Yancey, what poet like Poe, what scientist like Matthew F. Maury, what statesman like Jefferson, what jurist like Benjamin, what divine like Hoge, what soldier like Stonewall Jackson, what surgeon like Sims?

And the women – how can I describe them! They were as cultured as they were refined; they were as beautiful as they were queenly, the loveliest of sweethearts, the noblest of matrons. Let us look for a moment and see from whence these people of the South came, and what they have done.

The colonial settlers of the southern portion of North America were kindred by ties of blood, by association, and by the laws of common inheritance. They came to this country deeply imbued with the idea of civil liberty. In many instances they were descended from a superior element of the English people. The blood of the cavalier coursed through their veins; they were prepared to organize a government, to undertake the herculean task of creating a country out of chaos. And they accomplished it.

To these settlers were soon afterwards added another stream of emigrants, who came into the South through Maryland and Virginia, and through the seaports of the Carolinas and Georgia. These were the God-loving, tyranny-hating Scotch-Irish, who have left their distinguishing characteristics to this day, upon the people of every State in the South, from Maryland to the Rio Grande.

When the struggle came for the defense of their rights against the mother-country, how quickly her sons took up arms in defense of the common cause, and how nobly they performed their part it is useless to say, for is not the history of the time filled with accounts of their patriotism and achievements?

The enunciation of principle, the declaration of rights, sprung from the fertile brain of a Southerner, and to-day the readers of American history recognize in Jefferson the foremost thinker of his age.

Well has a New Englander, in speaking of Washington and the Southern soldiers of 1776, recently said: “We must go back to Athens to find another instance of a society, so small in numbers, and yet capable of such an outburst of ability and force.” Without the men of the South, the Revolution of 1776 would have gone down into history as the rebellion of that period.

How wonderful it is, that in the comparative seclusion and solitude of an agricultural country, the men should have been reared whose writings on Constitutional government embodied the wisdom and the experience of the patriots of all ages, and whose State papers actually formed the mould in which the constitution of the United Colonies was shaped; and that then, after Southern statesmen had formed the most perfect government the world ever saw, that Southern soldiers should have made it an accomplished fact by their skill, valor, and endurance.

Men of Southern birth and Southern rearing were the successful generals in the war of 1812, and the central figures in 1846. The acquisition of territory was made during the administration of Southern men. Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and California were acquired during their terms of office.

The Chief Justice-ship was held continuously for sixty-three years by Southern men. I need not speak of the orators and statesmen produced in every State in the South – they are household names.

Examine the details of the well-contested battlefields [of the late war] . . . Jackson, Lee, Johnston, Claiborne, Stuart and Forrest! What tender thoughts, what hallowed associations gather around the names of these bright stars in the Southern constellation! Does all history, does even the field of romance furnish heroes superior or patriots more noble? They were leaders of an equally brave and noble people, who, when all save honor was lost, submitted to the inevitable with a dignity born only of true greatness.”

(The Progress of Medicine in the South, Dr. Hunter McGuire, Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. XVII, R.A. Brock, editor, 1889, pp. 5-7)

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