Browsing "Targeting Civilians"

Lincoln's Hessian Thieves

The father of the writer below, Dr. John D. Bellamy of Wilmington, sent his family 60 miles inland to refugee in safety from marauding Northern troops. Not only was his family terrorized by invading Northern “hirelings” in early 1865, but Dr. Bellamy’s home in Wilmington was occupied and looted after the fall of that city. His wife organized the local Soldiers Aid Society which cared for the wounded and produced clothing for Southern soldiers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Hessian Thieves

“My [planter/physician] father had two sons in Virginia, in the [Confederate] Army and Navy, and the next one to go was I. So during the winters of 1863 and 1864, and the early part of 1865, although he shod his Negroes with good shoes, he made me, and also my younger brother, go barefoot during the winters. He said it would toughen and harden us, and that when my time to go to Virginia, I would be able to stand the exposure of the battle fields; and the result was that I never had, from that day to this, any serious illness – owing much of my longevity to this enforced practice in my rearing.

I can recollect, while going out in winters with my feet bare, in the snow and ice that I always went on the side of the fence where the sun shone through the cracks of the rails and melted the snow! It was warmer!

With great vividness I remember, also, how in March 1865, after Sherman had burned Columbia . . . General Francis P. Blair, of Sherman’s army, came with his corps, consisting of General Hickenlouper’s Brigade and other troops, through Robeson County, where we were refugeeing. The corps that came immediately around our home consisted of Germans or Hickenlouper’s Brigade, who could speak very little English, and German officers were in command.

They were hirelings of the United States Government to assist in fighting the South, very much as the Hessians were hired during the Revolutionary War.

It had been rumored that my father was a very wealthy man, and immediately the Hessians drew their steel ramrods out of their muskets, and began to pierce the ground all around our home and other places on the premises, to find what treasure they could unearth.

They found the silver my oldest sister had buried under the steps. They also discovered a valued deposit in which was my father’s valued diploma from Jefferson College, of the University of Pennsylvania. [The bummers] had gone through our home and cut open the locked bureau drawers with axes and stolen every valuable they could find . . . .

[An officer,] with three or four Germans, came into our home . . . and demanded that my mother give them the contents of her safe, which contained milk, butter and other food. Of course she had to comply! Immediately, they started to drink the milk, and remarked, “Mrs. Bellamy, is this milk poisoned?” So, my mother drank a cup of milk, before they would drink the remainder.

They left us without food and penniless for nearly a week, after the troops continued their march to Fayetteville and Wilmington and through Bentonville. [While] a boy, two bummers seized me, held me, and took off a nice pair of shoes, which I had put on to prevent them from being stolen! I was left in my stocking feet, in the cold rain, in the back yard! And that Yankee had my shoes!

[Someone told the Yankees of a] certain lady living in the neighborhood had money and jewels, which she had hidden in the mattress of her bed. [They] found her sick in bed [and] asked for her money and she denied having it. They pulled her out, raised up the mattress, found her valuables, and took them! As a punishment, they knocked in the top of a hogshead of molasses, which they found in her barn, and dipped her, head and all, into the barrel!

(Memoirs of an Octogenarian, John D. Bellamy, Jr., Observer Publishing, 1941, pp. 23-25)

Northern Destruction and Rebel Trophies

Anyone who scratches the surface of the Northern war upon the South cannot avoid the obvious question of why those Americans who sought a more perfect union with the consent of the governed, and in full compliance with Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, were to suffer wanton destruction, defeat and virtual enslavement for the very same act initiated by their forefathers in 1776.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Northern Destruction and Rebel Trophies

“The Civil War was not worth its cost. It freed the slaves, upset a social and an economic order, strengthened the powers of the national government, and riveted tighter upon the South a colonial status under which it had long suffered. What good the war produced would have come with time in an orderly way; the bad would not have come at all.

Its immediate effects on the South were glaring and poignant; those more fundamental were less evident and long-drawn out. The war generation bore the brunt, and it was they who had to grapple hardest with the new problems.

As the war had been fought almost entirely in the South, here its destructions were wrought. What invasion feeds upon is the same everywhere – towns and cities, lines of railways, bridges and fences, forests and fields, factories and homes, livestock and granaries, and personal belongings.

Of all the Federal officers General Sherman was most proficient in carrying the rigors of war to the people, and for this Southerners set him upon a permanent pinnacle dedicated to Civil War ruthlessness, and often gave him credit for the destructions of other commanders. The lone chimneys – Sherman’s sentinels – reared themselves as conspicuous landmarks along the sixty-mile wide swath he cut across Georgia and up through South Carolina . . .

A Northerner who had travelled through the South declared that Sherman had not left a building on the railway from Macon to Savannah, and two years after the war Sherman . . . recalled to his veterans what had happened:

“Look to the South, and you who went with me through that land can best say if they too have not been fearfully punished.  Mourning in every household, desolation written in broad characters across the whole face of their country, cities in ashes and fields laid waste, their commerce gone, their system of labor annihilated and destroyed. Ruin, poverty and distress everywhere, and now pestilence adding to the very cap sheaf to their stack of misery; her proud men begging for pardon and appealing for permission to raise food for their children; her five million slaves free, and their value lost to their former masters forever.”

[Sherman] did his worst in South Carolina and left conditions there which a loyal Northern witness averred no pen could describe. Fearing he would be thought to be sentimentalizing, he added, “Yet that treatment was what the haughty little State needed.” Philip H. Sheridan’s ravages of the Shenandoah Valley and four years of other warfare in Virginia made the Old Dominion a fearful sufferer. Tennessee and Mississippi lay in ruins wherever armies had marched. Alabama claimed destructions amounting to $300,000,000 and the cane planters alone in Louisiana suffered losses set at $100,000,000. Total material destruction throughout the South has been estimated in billions of dollars [William W. Davis, The Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida, 1913, pg. 319].

Later, plundered belongings turned up in Northern pawnshops, and Southerners long charged that “the houses of volunteer officers, and chaplains especially, in almost every New England and Northern village” were filled “with stolen plate, pictures, books and even wearing apparel, and, in fact, everything from a piano to a pap-spoon, which, . . . [were] proudly displayed as “rebel trophies,” or “confiscated property.”

A group signing themselves “Many Southern Ladies” published in Northern papers a plea asking for the return of their property and directed it to “the families of lawyers, ministers, captains, colonels, generals, professors in colleges . . . [and to] thousands of privates in the army, and chaplains and governors of States.”

Lincoln Follows Dunmore's Proclamation

Though standard histories leave Lord Dunmore’s 1775 emancipation proclamation out of the story of that conflict, it is indeed true as related below that the slaves of Patrick Henry, Jefferson and George Washington would have been emancipated had the revolution failed. Yet that war is viewed as a political and economic war, not a moral war.  Lincoln’s intent to encourage race war in the South was identical to Lord Dunmore’s intent to defeat the South. In 1814, Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane did the same to wreak havoc in the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln Follows Dunmore’s Proclamation

“The author [John Wilkes Booth, Francis Wilson] thinks in common with so many of his fellow countrymen, North and South, that the point at issue between the sections was a moral one rather than political and economic. The idea vitiates the value of his historical contribution. This almost universal misconception would be absurd or pathetic if it were not also tragic in its partisan representation of a great people. Would that history be were taught correctly, or the facts were set forth in proper proportion!

But alas for the story when he leans on others! For example, “The President [Johnson] now [1865] gave his attention to the Negro, for whose freedom, unquestionably, the war was fought.” Thus an incidental outcome of the conflict is herewith made the primary cause of strife!

It is to weep! Not merely because the admirable [author] says this, but because it is the pathetic delusion of millions of people.

If, in 1776, the British had won, the slaves of Washington, Mason, Henry and Jefferson would have been set free by virtue of Lord Dunmore’s proclamation of emancipation. But the Revolutionary struggle was not begun or waged on the issue of slavery, not to anybody’s present understanding. [Royal] Governor Dunmore was not concerned, primarily, with the freedom of the Negroes; he hoped that the promised freedom would handicap the rebellion against British authority.

President Lincoln freely admitted that his proclamation was “a war measure”; and he had been in favor of perpetuating, by Constitutional amendment, if need be, the “bonds of slavery” wherever it existed within the bounds of the United States. Such was the form of the Thirteenth Amendment as passed by a Northern Congress in 1861.

Why not believe Lincoln when he specifically said he was not waging the war to free the slave? Why not believe the testimony (now wholly lost sight of in the pathetic fallacy of the “moral” issue) of contemporary witnesses that the Northern armies would have melted away had any such idea been understood in 1861?”

General Grant held slaves. Lee was an emancipationist. A.W. Bradford was the Union Governor of Maryland in 1862-1864. He was a large slaveholder, while his neighbor, Bradley T. Johnson, a distinguished Confederate general, owned no slaves. Lincoln’s proclamation did not affect slavery in Maryland because slavery in Maryland was protected under the Union.”

(John Wilkes Booth, Francis Wilson, Houghton-Mifflin. Reviewed by Matthew Page Andrews, Confederate Veteran, April 1929, page 129)

Grand Army of the Republic of Thieves

With the war nearly over and nothing to gain from destroying private homes and property, Lincoln’s Grand Army added salt to the wounds in a State which was rightly driven from the Union four years earlier by his inability to compromise and avoid war. In 1865 began reconstruction and twelve years of misrule, robbery and outrage in the American South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Grand Army of the Republic of Thieves

“Glen Burnie, [North Carolina] March 21, 1865

My Dear Cousin,

Well Pattie, I have seen the Yankees at last, and I earnestly pray that I may never see them again. The 9th of March will ever be remembered by me. The vagabonds appeared here early that morning, we had no idea they were within fifty miles of here . . . There was a hundred fifty men in the first squad that came here, and such a yell as they gave when they rode in the gate, mortal never heard.

Papa ran to the swamp as soon as he saw them coming, and they were almost frantic with rage when they found he had left and started in the woods to find him and swore by all the saints in heaven that they would kill him if they found him.

The rascals all came in, and in less than ten minutes the house was stripped of almost everything. Pa had the night before fortunately concealed his two watches and your jewelry in a very nice place . . . One of them came to me to know where they were, I of course refused to tell, he them immediately presented a pistol to my head and swore he would take my life if I did not tell him . . .” They carried off every earthly thing we had to eat, did not leave a grain of corn or coffee, or anything that would sustain life one day, and they found all our silver and took every knife, fork and spoon we had in the world.

They set the Piney Woods on fire all around us. Tell Aunt Jenny they set on fire all the rosin she saw, and turned day into night. They carried off a great many of our clothes, have not left me a cloak or shawl of any kind, tore the silk you gave Jenny all to flinders, and carried off my best dresses, and two of Mama’s silks. Have not one blanket in the house, have only a half dozen quilts. The Yankees burned our barn and swore they would burn our house over our heads, but Providence saved it. I can’t tell you how.

Well Pat, I must close by telling you that the Yanks never caught Papa and that we are not quite starved to death, though we came very near it, we went five days without a mouthful of bread. You will excuse the paper I know as it is all the Yankees left in the house, and ‘tis a wonder they left this.

Oh how I do hate the very name of Yankee! May the chilling blight of heaven fall on their dark and doomed souls. May all the powers of earth and heaven combine to destroy them, may their land be one vast scene of ruin and desolation as ours is. This is the blessing of the innocent and injured one. I forgive them? May heaven never!   Nellie”

(A Goodly Heritage, Emma Woodward MacMillan, Wilmington Printing Company, 1961, pp. 65-

The Governor's Coffin

The occupation troops of Northern General Ambrose Burnside at New Bern in mid-1862 not only loaded their empty transports with furniture, carpets and jewelry for the return trip North, but also found New Bern cemeteries full of coffins to appropriate.  Even Lincoln’s hand-picked proconsul, Edward Stanly, who was appointed “governor” of North Carolina, resigned in disgust after observing the looting by Northern soldiers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Governor’s Coffin

Richard Dobbs Spaight (1796-1850), son of a Revolutionary War veteran who was also a member of the North Carolina Legislature, United States Congressman and delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, served as governor of The Old North State from 1835 to 1837.

He was born in New Bern, and prior to being governor, he served in the State Legislature from 1819 to 1822, and again from 1825 to 1834. Spaight was the last governor to be elected by the legislature, and was a member of the 1837 Constitutional Convention which transferred the gubernatorial election to popular vote. During the War Between the States, Northern occupation troops used the Stevenson House (corner Pollock & George Streets) in New Bern as a hospital for wounded soldiers.

In a truly unbelievable act of barbarism, “the body of Governor Spaight was dug up by Northern soldiers, the skull placed on a gate post, and the metal coffin used to send the body of a federal soldier back North.”

(A New Geography of North Carolina, Bill Sharpe, Sharpe’s Publishing Company 1961, page 1232)

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)

Terror, Looting and Banishment in Tennessee

General Eleazer A. Payne (Paine) was an Ohio lawyer and prewar friend of Abraham Lincoln. Formally reprimanded for brutality toward civilians in western Kentucky, he was known to have allowed Southern prisoners to ride away on old horses to be chased down and killed by his men.  After the war Mrs. T.J. Latham became president of the Tennessee Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy and State Agent for the Jefferson Davis Monument Fund. She also raised funds for the Nathan Bedford Forrest Monument.

www.Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Terror, Looting and Banishment in Tennessee

“Mrs. Latham was married at her home in Memphis just at the beginning of the war to T.J. Latham, a young attorney and Unionist of Dresden, Tenn., their home till the close of war.

Dresden was debatable ground, subject to raids by “bushwhackers” and “guerillas,” one week by one side, and the next week by the other. These incursions, frequent and without notice, were sometimes to arrest “disloyal” citizens and always to secure every good horse, or any moveable article they could make available.

From these harassing surroundings, Mr. Latham sought refuge by making Paducah his homes, but passing much of his time in New York. The notorious Gen. Payne was in charge at Paducah, and soon became a terror to every one suspected of being a Southern sympathizer. Soon after the famous Forrest raid into Paducah, Payne’s reign became much more oppressive and unbearable. Nero in his prime did not exceed him in heartless cruelty.

The couple with whom Mr. and Mrs. Latham boarded also came from Dresden. They were highly estimable people and had a son in the army. [The gentleman] was quite old and feeble, and under excitement subject to apoplectic attacks. Payne had him arrested. [His wife] fainted and he became alarmingly excited, appealing to Mrs. Latham to go with him, fearing, he said, that Payne’s Negroes would shoot him.

She went, and the first sight that confronted her at headquarters was a lovely woman at on her knees at Payne’s feet, praying for the release of her son, who was arrested the day before while plowing in the field a few miles from the city. Being refused, she asked what in deepest anguish: “What will you do with him?”  “Have him shot before midnight, Madam, for harboring his brother, who is a Forrest Rebel,” and [Payne then] executed his threat.

Mrs. Latham was more fortunate, securing the release of her friend; but Gen. Payne then, addressing her, said he would pardon her and furnish carriage and the best white escort, if she would return to her home in Dresden and point out the Rebels.

Instantly she replied: “Never! Sooner than betray my country and three brothers in the army, I would die!”

Turning savagely to Mrs. Latham, he said: “You will hear from me soon, and T.J. Latham though now in New York, will be attended to. He is a fine Union man to have the impudence to visit Gen. [Napoleon] Dana, at Memphis, my commanding officer; and, with others, induce him to annul my order that no person having sons or brothers in the Southern army should engage in business of any kind in the Paducah district. I will teach him a lesson in loyalty he will remember.”

Next morning a lieutenant went to Mrs. Latham’s and ordered her to get ready, as Gen. Payne had banished her with about ten other women to Canada. He advised her that he had selected Negro soldiers as a guard.  At Detroit the militia was ordered out to insure the safe transportation of a dozen women and children prisoners across to Windsor. On landing, John [Hunt] Morgan and many of his men and others gave them a joyous greeting, and at the hotel they sang Dixie war songs till a late hour.

Thence Mrs. Latham went to New York to join her husband. Mrs. Payne advised [her husband and others] of Payne’s despotic rule, and it was soon known to “honest old Abe” and Gen. Grant. A committee of investigation and a court-martial soon followed, with the speedy relief of Paducah of the most obnoxious and cruel tyrant.

In [Gen. Payne’s] desk were found letters [to his subordinates] saying: “Don’t send any more pianos or plated silver or pictures; all the kin are supplied. But you can send bed linen and solid silverware.”

(United Daughters of the Confederacy, Annual Convention at Montgomery, Alabama; Confederate Veteran, December, 1900, pp. 522-523)

No Full-Blown Yankee Heroes

The belief that the Northern soldier fought for the emancipation of the black man is a long-standing myth and coupled with the parallel myth that Lincoln saved the Union. The army of occupation brought an alien culture to the South which looted farms and left destitute American women and children without food or the means to survive.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

No Full-Blown Yankee Heroes

[Diary Entry] June 5, Monday [1865]:

“A Yankee came this morning before breakfast and took one of father’s mules out of the plow. He showed an order from “Marse” Abraham and said he would bring the mule back, but of course we never expect to see it again. I peeped through the blinds, and such a looking creature, I thought, would be quite capable of burning Columbia. [Northern] Capt. Schaeffer . . . He not only will not descend to associate with Negroes himself, but tries to keep his men from doing it, and when runaways come to town, he either has them thrashed and sent back home, or put to work on the streets and made to earn their rations.

People are so outraged at the indecent behavior going on in our midst that many good Christians have absented themselves from the Communion Table because they say they don’t feel fit to go there while such bitter hatred as they feel towards the Yankees has a place in their hearts. The Methodists have a revival meeting going on, and last night one of our soldier boys went up to be prayed for, and a Yankee went right up after and knelt at his side. The Reb was so overcome with emotion that he didn’t know a Yankee was kneeling beside him . . . Some of the boys who were there told me they were sorry to see a good Confederate going to heaven in such bad company.”

[Diary Entry] June 6, Tuesday:

Strange to say the Yankee brought back father’s mule that was taken yesterday — which Garnett says is pretty good evidence that it wasn’t worth stealing.

They are making a great ado in their Northern newspapers, about the “robbing of the Virginia banks by the Confederates” but not a word is said in their public prints about the $300,000 they stole from the bank at Greenville, S.C., not the thousands they have taken in spoils from private houses, as well as the banks, since these angels of peace descended upon us. They have everything their own way now, and can tell what tales they please on us, but justice will come yet. Time brings its revenges, though it may move but slowly.

Some future Motley or Macaulay will tell the truth about our cause, and some unborn Walter Scott will spread the halo of romance around it. In all the poems and romances that shall be written about this war, I prophesy that the heroes will all be rebels, or if Yankees, from some loyal Southern State. The bare idea of a full-blown Yankee hero or heroine is preposterous. They made no sacrifices, they suffered no loss, and there is nothing on their side to call up scenes of pathos or heroism.

(The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, Eliza Frances Andrews, D. Appleton, 1908, pp. 287-290)

God Will Protect Us; God Will Take Care of Us

William Henry Belk was a child of three in 1865 when his father Abel was murdered by Sherman’s bummers, leaving his mother Sarah not only a widow but with three babies and several Negro hands to feed and clothe. The industrious William would be working his first job in Monroe, North Carolina at age fourteen, and at twenty-six had started his own business which eventually spread to every State in the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

God Will Protect Us; God Will Take Care of Us

“Across more than four-fifths of a century of incredible change William Henry Belk remembers the day his father left home to escape the advancing Federals. It was 1865, and the Confederacy was dragging wearily into its last days. The South was almost prostrate now; even Sarah Walkup Belk’s beloved Waxhaw country, the country of Andrew Jackson, the gallant William Richardson Davie, and her own Wauchope family, lay under the heel and torch of Sherman.

This Federal general . . . was moving north after his march to the sea, pillaging and burning and slaughtering, and in the path of his troops, in the border region between South Carolina and North Carolina, lay the modest home of Abel Washington Belk.

If young Belk, whose weak lungs had prevented his joining the Confederate army, should be found at home, the Belk’s feared that Sherman’s men would steal his property, burn the house, and possibly hang him. If he should leave and hide out with some of the Negroes and the valuables that could be removed, the Yankee marauders might spare the house . . . over the heads of a defenseless young woman and her three babies.

So he loaded up the wagons and took some of the Negroes and they went down to Gill’s Creek some fifteen miles east of Lancaster, South Carolina . . . refugeeing on the creek down there until the Yankees had got out of the country. And it wasn’t long before the Yankees caught a fellow . . . who figured he’d save his own hide and get in their good graces by turning up my grandfather, old man Tom Belk. This scoundrel told them that my grandfather had barrels of gold hid out at his mine . . . .

But old Sherman’s men didn’t come by our house . . . [and] caught my father instead of my grandfather. They asked him where the gold was hid out. He told them he didn’t know. But they thought he was just trying to save his gold. So they took him down to the creek . . . and held him by the feet and pushed his head down under the water.

Then they’d jerk him up and ask again where the gold was. When he’d tell them he didn’t know – which he didn’t – they’d push him down again. That went on several times. His weak lungs couldn’t stand it. I reckon they just filled with water . . . But they did drown him . . . on Gill’s Creek.”

A letter which was written by Henry Belk’s uncle to Sarah Walkup Belk was her first news of the tragedy. It read as follows: “Sister Sarah, I have sad news to tell you. Abel, your husband and my brother, is I suppose no more. He is not found as we know but there is a certain person buried about one and a half miles below here, in Graham’s field, who I suppose is Abel. His clothes were like those that Abel had on [and] Abel’s little mule is lying dead on the road not far from where the man was drowned. [signed] Herron.”

It was a cheerless, somber day when Sarah Walkup Belk turned away from the red mound in old Shiloh graveyard. But even darker were the thoughts that threatened to crush her, for everywhere she seemed to sense the very presence of death.

Beyond the stones of the graveyard . . . lay fields bare and brown and dead, and there was little promise anywhere that the resurrection of spring would provide adequate crops. The Confederacy, too, she knew, was at its death and tired hungry hopeless men could no longer stem the rush of advancing hordes from the north.

And now her husband was dead. What would she do now? Where would she turn? How could she make a living for herself and her three babies? How actually to find enough food?

She went back to her farm and organized what poor efforts she could command. She found food and clothing for herself, her babies and the Negroes. She managed to provide security in those perilous days, joy even and much love. And always she taught her children. Sometimes it seemed that doubt and despair would engulf her. Always when the darkness was heaviest the pinpoint of a star broke through. She held to her faith. And she worked.

When the days were darkest she would repeat over and over again and in staunch faith the prayer and prophecy of that day when without knowing it she had waved her last good-bye to her young husband: “God will protect us; God will take care of us.”

(William Henry Belk, Merchant of the South, LeGette Blythe, UNC Press, 1950, pp. 3-8)

War to Exterminate Southerners

After the fall of Fort Fisher and occupation of Wilmington in January 1865, nearly 10,000 Northern prisoners were offered to the invaders for the taking — a humane gesture to reduce their suffering. Anxious to maintain the burden on the retreating Carolinians and force them to feed the prisoners with their own meager rations, the Northern commanders stalled. And it was Grant himself who ended the exchange of prisoners with Lincoln’s approval, thereby increasing the suffering at Andersonville.

George Templeton Strong was a Northern patriot who felt comfortable living behind the lines while his government lured domestic and foreign volunteers with generous bounties to maintain the “republic.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

War to Exterminate Southerners

Diary of the Civil War, George Templeton Strong, 29 March 1865:

“Our supplies sent by Chase reached Wilmington just at the right moment and saved scores of lives. His account of the condition of hundreds of returned prisoners, founded on personal inspection, is fearful. They have been starved into idiocy — do not know their names, or where their home is. Starvation has gangrened them into irrational, atrophied, moribund animals. No Bastille and no Inquisition dungeon has ever come up to the chivalric rebel pen for prisoners of war.

I do not think people quite see, even yet, the unexampled enormity of this crime. It is a new thing in the history of man. It definitely transcends the records of the guillotines and the concomitant nogades and fusillades. The disembowelment and decapitation of all men, women and children of a Chinese city convicted of rebel sympathies is an act of mercy compared with the politic, slow torture Davis and Lee have been inflicting on their prisoners, with the intent of making them unfit for service when exchanged.

I almost hope this war may last till it becomes a war of extermination. Southrons who could endure the knowledge that human creatures were undergoing this torture within their own borders, and who did not actively protest against it, deserve to be killed.

30 March 1865, page 571:

From observation at Wilmington, Agnew thinks the Southern “masses” are effete people, unable to take care of themselves now that their slave-holding lords and magnates are gone. A “local committee” at Wilmington is feeding four thousand Wilmingtonians all rations issued by the government. The white trash of even North Carolina is helpless and imbecile, unable to work or to reorganize the community.”

(Diary of George Templeton Strong, Allan Nevins, editor, MacMillan & Company, 1962)

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