Browsing "Targeting Civilians"

Witness to Sorrow

Though opposed to his State’s secession, South Carolinian William J. Grayson saw the true face of the Northern-dominated union as Lincoln’s army murdered and plundered his neighbors. In like manner, North Carolina Unionist Edward Stanly, Lincoln’s proconsul in occupied New Bern, lost faith in the conquerors as he witnessed Northern troopships returning north laden with stolen furniture, artwork and jewelry.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Witness to Sorrow

“For this calamity, this crime of War between North and South, Northern people are chiefly chargeable. The cupidity and intermeddling spirit of New England were the main causes of dissention. Her greedy tariff exaction, her perpetual irritating interference with Negro slavery in the Southern States, her avaricious monopolists & political priests sowed the seed of which we are reaping the natural harvest.

If ever a people destroyed their own prosperity it is the people of New England. They are accustomed to call the brain of New England the brain of the Union — it is the brain of a lunatic who cuts his own throat. No chain of cause and effect in all history is more clearly traceable than the destruction of the Federal Union by Northern folly and madness.

If they succeed in the war they will be the rulers over insurgent provinces ready at the first opportunity to renew the contest. The restoration of the union is an impossibility. There must succeed to it another government with standing armies, enormous taxes and despotic power beneath whose influence Northern liberty will wither and perish. In the early part of November [1861] the Northern government began a series of predatory expeditions on the Southern coast. The first under Sherman and Dupont disembarked at Port Royal. They presented to the world a striking evidence of the ease with which men strain at gnats and swallow camels.

They were prosecuting as felons in New York the captured privateersmen of the South, and were seizing all the cotton and other property of widows, children and noncombatants on the islands of South Carolina, contrary to every usage of civilized war.

The robbery has been approved and applauded throughout the Northern States. They talk with exultation of cultivating the plantations of Port Royal on Federal account as a sort of financial appendage to the Washington government. The rights of the owners are disregarded.

To the people of St. Helena parish and the adjoining country the disaster was incalculable. They lost everything; houses, plantations, Negroes, furniture, clothing. They became fugitives. Northern men engaged formerly in surveying the coast served as guides for the marauding parties. With their wives and children they had spent months in the families of the planters, had eaten dinners and drank wine, and now they acted as pioneers of plunder to the scenes of the feast.

They were better able to discover the stores of old Madeira from having frequently joined the owners in drinking it. Their first question asked of the servants on entering a house from which their cannon had driven the owner was — “where is the wine kept?”

There was something indescribably mean in the conduct of these parties but very characteristic of the people whose officers they were. They are a thrifty race, not scrupulous about the means if their end be attained. Our worthy friends of Massachusetts treat us (as) they did the Indians, witches, Quakers, Baptists and other heretics of earlier times. There are many pious Christians but not a voice is heard in favor of peace. So far as we can judge from their acquiescence in Sewardism, they have fallen into the strange delusion that Christian Charity is consistent with rape, rapine and murder.

They pray and preach not for peace, but for the more earnest prosecution of a bloody war and the enactment of general confiscation acts. They [Northerners] exulted . . . a manifest judgment of Providence on the home of rebels and traitors. They believed that Heaven had put the torch to Southern homesteads to avenge the abolition party and support the cause.”

(Witness to Sorrow, the Antebellum Autobiography of William J. Grayson. University of South Carolina Press, 1990, pp 185-201)

Yankee’s Issued Matches

The hatred of the North engendered by Sherman’s devastation in Georgia and the Carolina’s would not easily subside. In 1898 President William McKinley, himself a Northern major during the war, visited Atlanta in December 1898 for a Peace Jubilee. McKinley wore a Confederate badge on his lapel and declared in an address to the Georgia legislature that “Confederate graves were “graves of honor” and it was the duty of the United States government to keep them green.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Yankee’s Issued Matches

“When word [of Sherman’s invasion of South Carolina] reached the plantations of the Low County, terror bordering on panic swept the towns and countryside . . . and with only old men, women, children and a few slaves who had not deserted left on the lands, [all] lay vulnerable before the invaders.

Some of the families moved farther north, ostensibly out of Sherman’s path. Three families who lived in the area south of Allendale fled to the plantation of Dr. Benjamin William Lawton. An occupied house was less subject to being burn; deserted houses, left vacant, were usually torched.

But the three families who set up housekeeping in the basement of Dr. Lawton’s house in Allendale were no safer than they might have been in their own homes. Sherman’s forces routed out the families, and set fire to the house of that signer of the Ordinance of Secession, Dr. Benjamin W. Lawton. All Lawton’s possessions dissolved in flames.

Lawton’s wife, Josephine, was warned [of this] and hastily took her children and house servants to Gaffney, South Carolina, where they were given haven by friends . . . There Josephine’s seventh child was born. In early 1865 another Lawton, Dr. James Stoney . . . returned [from Georgia] to find his house in ashes.

At least one Lawton home escaped destruction by fire. Major-General High Judson Kilpatrick . . . ordered his men to keep their issue of matches in their pockets while he occupied Rose Lawn, the home of Reverend and Mrs. Joseph A. Lawton in Allendale, as his headquarters during the days of battle and destruction in the area.

With his mistress said to have been ensconced in a large front bedroom – she accompanied [Kilpatrick] from one headquarters to another in his sweep from Savannah to Columbia – he delegated a small back room to the elderly owners. To the godly couple who had to stand by while the woman of “ill-repute” occupied their bedchamber, this must surely have added basest insult to dastardly injury.

[South Carolina] lay in ruins, and the Southern cities of Richmond, Atlanta, Charleston and Columbia were blackened rubble. Sherman’s men under [Kilpatrick] had used their issues of matches to fire countless towns, villages, plantations, farms, and railroads; open fields and pine forests were reduced to shambles.”

(Kith and Kin, A Portrait of a Southern Family, 1630-1934, Carolyn L. Harrell, pp. 209-212)

Britain’s Splendid Decision

Though lost in their effective propaganda against Germany in WWII, it was the British who commenced the indiscriminate bombing of civilians on May 11, 1940, as they “dispatched eighteen Whitley bombers against railway installations in western Germany, breaching what had been regarded by many as a fundamental rule of civilized warfare, that hostilities must only be waged against the enemy forces.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Britain’s Splendid Decision

“During the war, the Nazi Party punished severely – often by death – any written or spoken violation of the “Parole Endsieg,” of that “word” or “slogan” of confidence in “the final victory.” Germany, however, was not the only nation with a “Parole Endsieg,” nor with prohibitions against the expression of anything contrary to it. Although the British did not resort to severe punishment of violations, Great Britain did have its own “Parole Endsieg,” its own words that would contribute to final victory.

Part of that propaganda was the widespread dissemination of the belief that Germany had initiated the bombing of cites and civilians well behind the lines of combat at the front. Indeed, it was this belief that made the metaphor of the of the reversed newsreel – of German bombers that had initiated the bombing war over civilian targets receding as the Allied bombers increased their attacks over German cities – work most completely as effective metaphor and propaganda.

It was not until April 1944, when J.M. Spaight, former principal secretary of the British Air ministry, was permitted to publish his book, “Bombing Vindicated,” that the British and Allied public in general learned that it was Britain and not Germany that had initiated “the strategic bombing offensive” – the large-scale bombing of civilian targets. Spaight writes:

“Because we were doubtful about the psychological effect of propagandist distortion of the truth that it was we [British] who started the strategic bombing offensive, we have shrunk from giving our great decision of May 11, 1940, the publicity it deserved. That, surely, was a mistake. It was a splendid decision. It was as heroic, as self-sacrificing, as Russia’s decision to adopt her policy of “scorched earth” [against Germany]. “

Some would argue that Hitler followed [the rule of not bombing noncombatants] by using the Luftwaffe against cities only in support of ground forces already at the gates of those cities.

Although it might be argued that communications and arms manufacturing centers had always been considered legitimate targets in warfare, Spaight’s statement and the fact that British bombardment was not in support of any invading or retreating ground force seems to indicate that some in Britain thought they were breaking new ground with such attacks from the air.

Thus, what Britain’s “splendid decision” had also achieved was to introduce a new kind of terrorism into an already terrible war: the Allied airmen, who ostensibly were trying to hit factories to slow down munitions production, but who more often hit civilian homes, came to be known to the German civilians who had to suffer that indiscriminate area bombing as Der Terrorflieger, or “terror fliers.”

(Wolfsangel, A German City on Trial, 1945-48, Augusto Nigro, Brassey’s Inc., 2000, pp. 3-5)

Yankee Chaplain Caught Looting

The plantation of Josiah Collins, Somerset Place, on Lake Phelps had been looted by invading Northerners who occupied northeastern North Carolina. After Plymouth, North Carolina was liberated by General Robert F. Hoke in April 1864, the misdeeds of the invader came to light.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Yankee Chaplain Caught Looting

“Many years after the war, Dr. Joseph G.D. Hamilton happened to run across Hoke and his son-in-law at a restaurant in Raleigh. As the men sat together on the porch before dinner, Hoke rested quietly, gazing off in the distance.

In a tone designed not to arouse the reticent old soldier, Hamilton began to relate a newspaper story about an event that had occurred after the surrender of Plymouth. A Federal chaplain who had been denied officer’s privileges and “his” library called on Hoke, who responded favorably to his pleas.

After the chaplain left, the general noticed two large wooden boxes. When he enquired about the contents, a soldier responded, “They are the books of that Yankee chaplain.”

Hoke noticed that the top of one of the boxes was broken, so he removed a book. It bore the bookplate of Josiah Collins of nearby Somerset Place in Washington County. When the boxes were torn open, it was seen that all the books were likewise marked.

The chaplain was immediately summoned to Hoke’s headquarters, where the general dressed him down and stripped him of all privileges.”

(General Robert F. Hoke, Lee’s Modest General, Daniel W. Barefoot, John F. Blair, 1996, page 153)

 

 

Fire Bombing Japanese Civilians

Despite military press releases and public statements that the US was not indiscriminately bombing civilian populations, the fact was that the nighttime incendiary bombing of Japanese cities was a weapon of area destruction, not precision bombing of industrial targets. The incendiary raids “destroyed homes, hospitals and schools, as well as factories, and killed lots of people, mainly women, children, and old men.”  The waging of war upon defenseless civilians is perhaps the most lasting legacy of Lincoln and W.T. Sherman.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circ1865.com

 

Fire Bombing Japanese Civilians

“General [Hap] Arnold needed results. [Gen.] Larry Norstad had made that very clear. In effect he said: “You go ahead and get [bombing] results, or you’ll be fired.”

. . . Let’s see: we could load [the bombers] with E-46 clusters. Drop them to explode at about two thousand feet, say, or twenty-five hundred. Then each of those would release thirty-eight of the M-69 incendiary bombs . . . Could use both napalm and phosphorous. Those napalm M-47’s. They say that ninety percent of the structures in Tokyo are built of wood [and all sources] say that the same. Very flimsy construction.

Bringing those [B-29’s] all the way down from thirty thousand feet to about nine or even five thousand. A lot of people will tell me that flesh and blood can’t stand it. So if we go in low – at night, singly, not in formation – I think we’ll surprise the Japs. At least for a short period of time . . . But if this first attack is successful, we’ll run another, right quick. Say, twenty-four hours afterward. Two days at the most. And then maybe another.

With at least three hundred planes we can get a good concentration. No matter how you slice it, you’re going to kill an awful lot of civilians. Thousands and thousands . . . We’re at war with Japan. We were attacked by Japan. Do you want to kill Japanese, or would you rather have Americans killed? Crank her up, let’s go.

Drafts from the Tokyo fires bounced our planes into the sky like ping-pong balls. A B-29 coming in after the flames were really on the tear would get caught in one of those searing updrafts. According to the Tokyo fire chief, the situation was out of control within thirty minutes. It was like an explosive forest fire in a dry pine woods. The racing flames engulfed ninety-five fire engines and killed on hundred and twenty-five firemen . . . [and] burning up nearly sixteen square miles of the world’s largest city.

If it hadn’t been for that big river curving through the metropolitan area, a lot more of the city would have gone. About a fourth of all the buildings in Tokyo went up in smoke that night anyway. More than two hundred and sixty seven thousand buildings. No other air attack of the war, either in Japan or in Europe, was so destructive of life and property.

Let’s go back and consult Major Boyle for the final time, and hear what he has to say in his Air Force [magazine] article: “The ten-day fire blitz of Japan was a turning point. The panic-stricken [survivors] began an exodus from the major cities . . . “

(Mission with LeMay, My Story; Gen. Curtis E. LeMay with MacKinlay Kantor, excerpts, pp. 347; 352-355)

Sherman’s War of Terror

Despite claiming malice toward none and charity for all, the following is what Abraham Lincoln authorized and unleashed upon the American South. Young Jane Dickinson Cowan lived in Sherman’s path near Laurinburg, North Carolina, and later wrote: “My mother had a spoon in which she was mixing medicine for her sick children snatched from her, and she was obliged to mix it in her hand and put it into their mouths with her finger. They pulled the rings from her fingers as she was holding in her lap, and kicked the cradle in which the other one was lying, with the remark, “That one is dead already.”

The unnecessary killing of the animals was most assuredly done to starve the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Sherman’s War of Terror

“Like most Northerners, William T. Sherman profoundly misunderstood Southern “Unionism.” Upon entering North Carolina he issued an order to Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick that the cavalry chief “deal as moderately, and fairly by North Carolinians as possible, and fan the flame of discord already subsisting between them and their proud cousins of South Carolina.

Sherman’s admonition to deal “moderately” was generally ignored, and he must have quickly realized that these people were not about to embrace his Union. “Poor North Carolina will have a hard time,” the general wrote privately after a month in the State, “for we sweep the country like a swarm of locusts. Thousands of people may perish, but they now realize that war means something else than vain glory and boasting.”

Monroe and Wadesboro were among the first to “have a hard time” at the hands of Kilpatrick’s troopers. Episcopal bishop of North Carolina, Thomas Atkinson, was threatened with death if he did not give up his watch, horse and possessions. Another Anson County man was robbed of his watch and money, and the next band of Federals to arrive at his home demanded the very same items [and] killed him when he could not produce them.

At a nearby home Yankees chopped furniture to pieces with an axe and scattered feathers from pillows on a bedroom floor and then poured buckets of molasses and stirred thoroughly. Ten wagons filled with unlucky refugees were overtaken and their possessions captured.

Anson County native Esther Alden grieved about the suffering of her neighbors as well over what the Yankees did to the animals:

“It is like some horrid nightmare. When I shut my eyes I see nothing but creatures and human beings in agony. The poor suffering horses! Some fortunately dead and out of their misery, others groaning in death pains, some with disabled limbs freely hobbling about to glean a blade of grass; the cows and oxen slaughtered and left to rot! I counted eight beautiful calves lying dead in one pen; many times we saw two or three lying dead side by side!”

In Fayetteville the Yankees destroyed one thousand horses and mules they had no use for. There were two killing grounds: one a field on the bank of the Cape Fear River, the other a corral in town. It took hours to kill them all. Trying to run, some of the terrified animals plunged into the river. Most were left where they fell, with no effort made by the Federals to dispose of the carcasses as the troops abandoned the town.

A dozen miles outside Fayetteville, at the home of Duncan Murchison, Kilpatrick’s cavalrymen charged into the bedroom of a small girl desperately sick with typhoid. They were looking for items to steal but found nothing . . . Seventy year-old Mr. Murchison was dragged to the swamp and assaulted while vandals destroyed furniture, slashed family portraits, and poured molasses into the piano. The little girl died while the troopers were still in her home. Federal horses left a little uneaten corn on the ground, for that was all the family had to live on after the invaders moved on.”

(War Crimes Against Southern Civilians, Walter Brian Cisco, Pelican Publishing Company, 2007, pp. 163-165)

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.com

 

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)

Halleck, Agent of Revolution

Gen. Henry W. Halleck, one of the most vilified of all generals of that era, was described by a reporter as a “cold, calculating owl,” brooding “in the shadows,” and “distilling evil upon every noble character.” He married the granddaughter of Alexander Hamilton and ironically held the same nationalist and centralizing views of his wife’s grandfather. Halleck predicted before 1861 that the North “will become ultra-antislavery, and I fear, in the course of the war will declare for emancipation and thus add the horrors of a servile to that of a civil war.” He saw Lincoln adopt the same policy as the British in the Revolution and War of 1812: emancipating slaves by edict to incite the horrors of race war in the American South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Halleck, Agent of Revolution

“During the excitement following Lincoln’s death [Secretary of War Edwin M.] Stanton virtually took over the government. Among other high-handed acts, he did what the martyred President never desired – the Secretary ordered Halleck out of Washington. [Working to] ingratiate himself with his superiors, Halleck, in Richmond, did everything he could to gain Stanton’s approval.

[Told by Richmond bankers of] wild rumors about “Jeff. Davis and his partisans” fleeing with a large amount of [gold] specie” . . . Halleck . . . ordered Sheridan to Sherman’s headquarters , in Greensboro, North Carolina, telling him to look for Davis and his “wagons” of gold on the way. [On] April 23 [1865], Halleck wired Sheridan: “Pay no attention to the Sherman-Johnston truce. It has been disapproved by the President. Try to cut off Jeff. Davis’ specie.”

The Treasury Department had issued special permits and only those possessing them were entitled to buy or sell in the South. “It is now perfectly evident that these [treasury] agents are resolved that no one shall buy or sell even the necessities of life except through themselves or their favorites,” Halleck fumed. “I know of no better system for robbing the people and driving them to utter desperation.” Old Brains’ greatest objection was that if the system continued “the military must feed the people or permit them to starve.”

Still Halleck could not resist the temptation to use his power occasionally. On April 28 he issued a series of General Orders, one of which proclaimed: “No marriage license will be issued until the parties desiring to be married take the oath of allegiance to the United States, and no one can marry them unless he has.”

To insure that Virginians received proper indoctrination, Halleck closed all churches in which the clergyman refused to read the prescribed prayer for the President – they would be opened by “any other clergyman of the same denomination will read such service.”

While attempting to bring Southern churches under Northern control, Halleck also did his bit in the attempt to prove that secession had been a conspiracy on the part of a few high-placed Confederates He seized former Cabinet member Robert M.T. Hunter’s papers and forwarded them to Stanton with the notation that they included “inclosures of a suspicious character.”

[Halleck] was anxious to use the Civil War to build up the regular army (as opposed to an armed mob composed of State militia troops) serving under nationally-trained professionals. From the day they mustered in until the day they mustered out, Halleck tried to make the Federal troops feel the hand of the national army. Conscription, which increased the power of the nation and its army as opposed to the States and their militia forces, received active support from Halleck.

He was convinced that opposition [to conscription] came not from idealists but from traitors [and] had no qualms about the means used to enforce national conscription: “Loyal men at home must act at home,” he felt. “They must put down the slightest attempt at disorder.”

Halleck saw to it that conscription was merely the beginning of the contacts with the federal government and its army that the American citizen soldier experienced. Once the men were in the service, Halleck and his staff, rather than the State governments, supplied their needs. The operating procedure was brutally simple and efficient; and it was part of a general trend toward centralization in all areas of American life. The total result was revolution.

And it was a nation, not a Union, that the troops had saved. Politically, economically, socially, and militarily, the Civil War had created a new nation upon the wreck of the old Union. Halleck, who realized that the powerful army he wanted needed a powerful nation to support it, was an important agent in the revolution.

He used troops to quell draft riots, break strikes that threatened the national effort, ensure Republican victories at the polls and suppress traitorous politicians. He rejected the democratic ideal that opposition is not only loyal but necessary. He constantly condemned those who opposed, not just Lincoln’s administration, but the whole fabric of centralization; he believed that only centralization could lead to victory.

During the political campaign of 1864, Halleck supported Lincoln as the lesser of evils [though] would have preferred Lincoln to act with Bismarckian ruthlessness . . . Old Brains realized that America’s entrance into the modern world [of centralization] might be slightly hindered, or slightly helped, by individuals, but that by 1864 it could no longer be halted. Politically, socially, and militarily, centralization had become institutionalized; Halleck had done his share in making that possible.”

Halleck: Lincoln’s Chief of Staff, Stephen E. Ambrose, LSU Press, 1962, (pp. 199-200; 202-203; 208-211)

Lincoln's Army of Roughs and Jailbirds

The Hampton area of Virginia was evacuated by Gen. John B. Magruder’s forces in early August 1861; the region had become unstable after the enemy seized property and slaves, and by late July the Hampton-Fortress Monroe area had nearly 1000 blacks seized during enemy raids on upriver plantations. The intention was identical to Lord Dunmore’s in 1775 – deny Virginia its agricultural workers and arm them against their former owners.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Army of Roughs and Jailbirds

“On Monday, May 27 [1861] . . . soon after breakfast, several boats were seen loaded with [Yankee] troops going up the river and being so near the land, it was apparent they intended to land at the wharves. One can imagine the great excitement created by the sight of the troops. War seemed to have come in the midst of perfect peace.

Very soon after, a squad of marines came to the house and advised father to go and ask protection of the commanding officer, who turned out to be General [Northcott] Phelps. They said many of the soldiers were the rough and jailbirds of Boston and would steal and destroy everything unless it was guarded.

General Phelps was the colonel of the 1st Vermont (Regiment) but on account of his West Point training had been made brigadier-general . . . There were three regiments landed: the 7th New York, all Germans, were stationed next to our house, all on our land; the 1st Vermont, and the Massachusetts, next to Captain Wilbern’s.

In order to conciliate the guard, we furnished them with food, but they were very suspicious, and I usually had to eat some of it to show that it was not poisoned.

Tuesday afternoon I went over to the [enemy] camp . . . and witnessed something of what war was. It seemed that the colonel of the Massachusetts Regiment was very mad because Phelps had been promoted over him and for this reason perhaps had given passes to a great many of his men to go out of the lines . . . At any rate, a large number had gone out of camp and plundered the whole neighborhood.

They seemed to have stripped the farms and houses of everything conceivable. I learned afterwards that the thieves, finding that they would be arrested, had left most of the plunder in the thickets outside the pickets, all of which was brought into camp, in the night.

As only two of the Vermonters were arrested, and very few of the Germans, the Massachusetts Regiment became very indignant and made many threats. I now saw what a soldier would do if unrestrained and in what he conceived an enemy’s country . . . there was fear of mutiny, for we were informed by our guard that the Vermont Regiment was expecting an attack, and if we heard any firing we would know it was between them and the Massachusetts Regiment.

The Negroes had not tried to protect anything from the pillaging of the soldiers . . . What furniture or other things they wanted had been carried away by them. A small safe that father had used in his store in Hampton . . . had been taken out in the yard and broken open. The valuables were all stolen and books and papers scattered about the yard.”

(When the Yankees Came, Civil War and Reconstruction on the Virginia Peninsula, George Benjamin West, Park Rouse, Jr., editor, The Dietz Press, 1977, excerpts, pp. 47-50)

Lincoln's Beast in New Orleans

Contemplating victory at New Orleans some 50 years prior, the British commander announced that his forces had come to “restore order, maintain public tranquility, and enforce peace and quiet under His Majesty’s laws.” The secessionists of that day were required to surrender their arms and suppress all flags except those of England. Full protection of person and property was held out to all who would renew the oath of allegiance to the British Crown and the band would play “Rule Britannia.” 

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa 1865.com

 

Lincoln’s Beast in New Orleans

“When the army transport Mississippi at noon on May 1 [1862] tied up to the wharf at the foot of Poydras Street, the New York Times correspondent on board reported:

 “I saw several instances of the bitter spirit of the rabble, and even of people whom one might have taken from their appearance to be respectable. The levee, for the whole length of the river front of the city, was constantly crowded by a turbulent throng and whenever a boat belonging to the fleet passed them, its occupants were jeered and hooted at . . . This wall of human beings stood there as enemies to bar our entry to the city.”

As the soldiers were disembarking, angry citizens had to be held back at point of bayonet. Voices from the mob called out “Picayune Butler,” “You’ll never see home again.” “Hallo, epaulets, lend us a picayune.”

 The picayune, Louisiana’s smallest coin in colonial days, had recently achieved minstrel-show fame in a jocular song about “the arrival of a mythical Picayune Butler at a mythical town for mythical purposes. General Butler, in his stateroom, hearing the outcries for “Picayune Butler,” paused in the composition of his proclamation to the citizens of New Orleans long enough to inquire if any of the bands could play the tune. As the music was unavailable, “Yankee Doodle” and “The Star Spangled Banner” were played instead.

At 5PM, Butler began his march through the downtown section of the city to the Custom House [with Massachusetts and Wisconsin troops]. Crowds on the pavements craned their necks. Here and there a throat screamed: “Where is the damned rascal?” “There he goes, God damn him!” “I see the old damned villain!” Others taunted the Federals with “Shiloh!” “Bull Run!” “Hurrah for Beauregard!” “Go home, you damned Yankees!”  

In his proclamation to the citizens of New Orleans Butler emphasized the peaceful intention behind the mailed fist. There would be martial law, but only for so long as it might be necessary, since the United States forces had come to “restore order, maintain public tranquility, and enforce peace and quiet under the laws and constitution of the United States.”

Secessionists were required to surrender their arms and suppress all flags except those of the United States. Full protection of person and property was held out to all who would renew the oath of allegiance.

Mayor John T. Monroe, summoned on May 2, made his way to [Butler’s headquarters] through packed, sullen streets and was received in the . . . Ladies Parlor.  Monroe, remembering Butler as a fellow Democrat in prewar days, greeted the General as “always a friend of the South.”

“Stop sir,” Butler interrupted, “Let me set you right on that point at once. I was always a friend of Southern rights but an enemy of Southern wrongs.”

The interview was interrupted by loud shouts in the streets of “hang the traitor,” and an aide rushed in. “General Williams orders me to say that he fears he may not be able to control the mob.”  “Give me compliments to General Williams,” directed Butler, “and tell him, if he finds he cannot control the mob, to open upon them with artillery.”

[Butler’s wife] Sarah Butler relished the experience, and described it to her sister:

“And what do you think about being among the first to enter New Orleans . . . Mr. Butler ordering the opening of the St. Charles, compelling a hackman at the point of a bayonet to drive us to the Hotel. We had no guard but an armed soldier on the box and another behind the carriage. A regiment was drawn up around the hotel and four howitzers on the corners. The band was stationed on the piazza, and they played with fiery energy all the national airs from Yankee Doodle to the Star Spangled Banner.” 

[Butler stated] . . . “if a shot is fired from any house, that house will never again cover a mortal’s head; and if I can discover the perpetrator of the deed, the place that now knows him shall know him no more forever. I have the power to suppress this unruly element in your midst, and I mean to use it.”

(Lincoln’s Scapegoat General, A Life of General Benjamin F. Butler, Richard West, Jr., Houghton Mifflin, 1965, pp. 131-135)

 

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