Jan 2, 2015 - Lincoln's Patriots    No Comments

Money to Fill New York Regiments

Americans in the South fought primarily for family, hearth and State, in sharp contrast to those in the North who required strong financial incentives after casualties mounted. From the time of the Northern draft of 1863 to the conclusion of the war, the Northern States, counties, cities and towns paid over $286 million; the Northern government itself paid out more than $300 million – and with substitute fees paid the total of all would be at least $750 million.  This would have paid for the emancipation of every slave several times over, and saved the lives of a million Americans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Money to Fill New York Regiments:

“At the outbreak of the war, New York had four million people, and during the course of the war it furnished the equivalent of 400,000 three-year enlistments to the armed forces. This represented about seventeen per cent of the total northern enlistment and was in proportion to the state population.

Before the war ended, 40,000 New Yorker’s gave their lives to the enterprise. It is interesting to keep in mind that thirty per cent of New York enlistees were foreign-born:  40,000 came from Ireland, 41,000 from Germany, over 12,000 from England, 12,000 were Canadian, 3600 from France, 2000 from Wales, and 2000 from Switzerland. On top of this, 5000 Negroes were in New York regiments.”

In the conscription activity of 1863, the Republican-organ Oswego (New York) Times emphasized the material benefits which would accrue to those possessing the “lucky draft numbers.” A US Bounty of $102, State Bounty of $100, City Bounty of $300 (if offered as the Mayor suggested); Total of $502.00.  Then one year at $13. per month, one year’s service totaling $156.  “$658 or almost $2. per day! Soldiering will be the best business for the future.”

On August 4 [1863] the draft came to Oswego. While most draftees accepted the [conscription] law . . . the Times reported that some were applying to the British Vice Consul for papers giving them protection as aliens. A few were said to be “skedaddling” across the Canadian border.  The Times noted also, that the draft had developed an extraordinary number of sharks in the area. “Several half-starved lawyers, who don’t often get any business, have been taking advantage of the anxiety of drafted men to become exempt, to charge the most exorbitant rates for their services in making out the necessary papers.”

A year later a second draft stared Oswegonians in the face. It might be avoided, of course, if the quota could be raised by enlistment; but for a time the latter lagged. Groping for a solution an imaginative group of twenty-five men sent the local recruiting agents, E.B. Burt and A.B. Getty to Newport News, Virginia, in a military district occupied by Federal troops under General Benjamin Butler, for the purpose of procuring substitutes among the freedmen; expecting, it is assumed, that they could be hired cheaply.

The agents wrote that they found a few substitutes, though the place was filled with bounty-jumpers, but that General Butler had issued an order prohibiting the removal of freedmen from the district; that they would therefore try to enlist them [freedmen] as part of the Oswego quota, provided the city would pay the bounties required.  The City Council quickly voted bounties up to $300, including the agents’ fees, but the project fizzled and the agents returned home empty handed.

The Times writer considered this scheme quite ingenious until he discovered that Jefferson County [New York] was trying the same experiment.   As has been seen, when enlistments lagged, bounties served as a stimulant. As early as July 1862, the State was offering $50 and the County [Oswego] an additional $50, By January 1864, the County was paying $300 bounties, and by December, 1864, the sum was increased to $300 for one year, $500 for two years, and $700 for three years.

Meanwhile, the Federal government had increased its offer to $300. Thus a volunteer might pick up $1000 if he had patience to wait for the installments; this, when laborers wages were about one dollar per day! To those who remained hesitant, the Mexico [New York] Independent offered the happy thought that the war would not last long, and they might never fire a gun or draw a sword.”

(New York State in the Civil War, Robert J. Rayback, New York State Historical Association, 1961, pp. 69-70; Oswego Counties Response to the Civil War, Charles M. Snyder, New York State Historical Association, 1961, pp. 81-84)

Jan 2, 2015 - Lincoln's Patriots    No Comments

Millions for Bounties But Not Emancipation

The  Northern States were quite willing to raise millions of dollars for bounty-enriched mercenaries to subdue the American South, but never advanced a compensated emancipation plan to free the slaves — assuming that emancipation was the desired result.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Millions for Bounties But Not Emancipation

“It is very well known that the Northern people were so averse to military service that enlistments were, in most cases, procured by high bounties. When the Central Government began to draw imperative requisitions of men on the States, the local authorities, instead of simply drafting the required numbers from among their own militia, almost universally made arrangements for purchasing mercenaries to supply their “quotas;” thus relieving their own citizens from the dreaded service.

The price usually paid, towards the end for the human cattle for Confederate shambles, was not less than fifteen hundred dollars each. A sorry commentary by the way, upon the courage and patriotism of that people, that so large a bribe was needed to persuade them to “save the nation.” But thus it came to pass that not only the States, but cities, counties, country towns, and even the rural subdivisions called, among the people, townships, raised loans. Laws were passed to authorize them to make such loans, and to levy taxes necessary to provide for their interest.

The aggregate of these bounty-debts cannot be estimated by us from any evidences in our reach; but some data will be given to enable the reader to approximate it. The city of Philadelphia alone, it is believed, owes a debt of forty-four millions ($44,000,000) chiefly for bounties. It was a very “loyal” city. It claims about six hundred thousand (600,000) souls. The State of New York admits a bounty-debt of its own of $26 millions. But cities, counties and townships, within the State have also their own little debts for this and similar objects in addition.

A few other items may aid in our approximation. The federal Secretary of War informs us that in the latter part of the war there were 136,000 re-enlistments of the veterans honorably discharged. It is well known that these usually received the highest bounties. If we place them at fifteen hundred dollars ($1500) each, these cost the Northern people two hundred four millions ($204,000,000). The system of bounties was general from May 1863 until the end of the war.

The government itself fixed the minimum price of a man at $300 by appointing that sum as the cost of an exemption from the draft. But it is well known that few substitutes were purchased at so cheap a rate. The Secretary of War informs us that after May 1, 1863, there were one million six hundred thirty four thousand (1,634,000) enlistments. Placing the cost of each of these enlistments at three hundred dollars ($300), which is far below the average bounty, somebody had to pay for them four hundred ninety millions ($490,000,000).

The “bounty jumpers” as it is well known perpetrated immense frauds; and the number of bounties paid to them was far larger than that of the enlistments. The interest and principal of it (the debt) must be paid by the same people who have the federal debt to pay. If the policy pursued by the Government as to the local obligations incurred in the war of the Revolution is again to prevail, all these bounty-debts should be assumed and funded by the United States. Already this claim is heard in many quarters.

The recognized State and federal debts as we have seen, amount to three billion, four hundred forty three million dollars ($3,443,195,000).  It is most manifest, that the total mass of public debt now resting on the American people (nearly the whole incurred in the late war) for the payment of which provision must be made by taxation, must be at least four billions of dollars ($4,000,000,000).

Mr. Andrew Johnson, late president of the United States and an ardent advocate for the war, always affirmed constantly that the total cost of the war to the taxpayers would prove to be five billions ($5,000,000,000). He, of course, is good authority. And the interest on this debt is from 5 to 7 and one-fifth per centum!”

(Robert L. Dabney, Discussions, Volume IV, Secular, C.R. Vaughn, editor, Sprinkle Publications, 1897/1994, pp. 143-145)

Jan 2, 2015 - Lincoln's Patriots    No Comments

Bounty-Furnished Patriotism

Often concealed in Northern versions of the war is the immense amount of money paid in bounties for recruits, usually called volunteers, who would not have stepped forward if no money was proffered. Villages, towns, cities, counties and State’s paid lavishly into funds in order to buy exemptions and substitutes for residents, with the promise of additional bounties upon mustering. State agents were sent into the Northern-occupied South to capture and enlist black slaves, counted toward the State quota of troops and relieving white citizens from duty.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Bounty-Furnished Patriotism

“The Union army was meeting with defeat and loss of men. The President made a call for three hundred thousand more. The smothered fire of patriotism that was burning in the hearts of the young men in Perry [New York] burst forth, and fathers’ commands, mothers’ warnings, nor sweethearts’ pleadings and caresses could avail aught in trying to subdue the flame.

On the 22nd of August [1862], Mr. George S. Hastings received authority to raise recruits to join the organization called Captain Lee’s Battery, then stationed at Newport Barracks [North Carolina]. In one week fifty men had volunteered; another week increased the number to sixty.

The citizens of the town where they enlisted, encouraged them with kinds acts and words. Generous bounties were offered and paid. To many volunteers this was useful in the final settlement of their pecuniary matters. To the families of others it left a competence for a short time. To all it was acceptable; but to few, if any, was money a motive power to volunteering.

They arrived at Buffalo at ten o’clock, and forming into line at the depot, marched directly to the examining surgeon’s office . . . the surgeon was quick and skillful . . . He remarked several times it was one of the finest companies he had examined [with] manly bearing.

Town Bounty Fund. – The following is a correct list of the contributors to this fund for the town of Perry. The subscribers are requested to pay immediately to G.C. Chapin or C.W. Hendee, at Smith’s Bank, who will pass it to the credit of G.C. Chapin, treasurer. It is designed to pay this bounty to volunteers to-morrow or Monday [List of 163 individual contributors of $10, $15, $25 and $50 follows].

The men recruited by Geo. S. Hastings for Company B, Rocket Battalion, Captain J.E. Lee, took their final departure for the seat of the war, Wednesday. The citizens turned out early in the morning, to bid a last “good bye” to the boys. Forming into a line at the depot (preceded by Alpin’s Band, who kindly volunteered for the occasion), they marched to the Arcade, where a number of new recruits were mustered in, and then proceeded to Roth’s Hall, on Batavia Street, and took dinner.

Expecting to leave for Albany the same night, at four o’clock they returned to the mustering office to receive the Government bounty . . . The procession attracted much attention, and many flattering remarks were made by citizens along the route, complimentary both to the men and the band. We noticed a number of the boys had bouquets, showing that if they had left home, they were still among friends.

After a few days’ stay at a German hotel in Batavia street, Buffalo, where we were initiated into rations of Dutch bread, Bologna sausage and lager beer, furnished by the United States at thirty cents per diem, we were sent to Albany.

In this city we were quartered at the Asylum Barracks, and underwent another examination. I cannot conceive for what purpose, unless it was to put fees into the pockets of the post-surgeon.”

(Records of the 24th Independent Battery, New York Light Artillery, USV, J.W. Merrill, Ladies Cemetery Association of Perry, NY, 1870, pp. 162-169)

 

Jan 2, 2015 - Lincoln's Patriots    No Comments

Bounties for Northern Soldiers

Dwindling enlistments after crushing losses at Fredericksburg and around Richmond forced the US Congress to offer men $300 bounty for three-years’ service, later extended to conscripts who agreed to longer terms. Altogether, the Northern government paid some $300 million in bounties during the war, with State and local governments paying about an equal amount – totaling $600 millions to find men to fight to maintain a territorial union. Below, Colonel Lafayette Baker describes the common bounty-jumping schemes.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Bounties For Northern Soldiers

“The great demand for [Northern] recruits during the war, the large bounties offered for them, and the manifold facilities for fraudulent transactions, presented temptations of great power, even to reputable citizens, to evade the plain letter of the law, and traffic in substitutes, or, by bribery and deception, personally to keep out of the hands of the recruiting officer.

I had been told that soldiers would receive the bounty, re-enlist the same day, be sent to the Island, and repeat the process the day following. I was greatly amused while listening to the exploits of [bounty-jumpers]…One related, that in a certain period he left New York, and having enlisted in Albany, Troy, Utica, Buffalo, and Chicago, returned via Elmira, at which place he likewise enlisted.

Another had enlisted at every rendezvous from New York to Portland, Maine; while a third boasted of amounts he had received, and mentioned those paid to recruiting officers, surgeons, brokers and detective.”

(The Blue and the Gray, Henry Steele Commager, editor, Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1950, pp. 728-732)

Jan 2, 2015 - The War at Sea    No Comments

Blockade Running from Bermuda

It is said that masters of private blockade runners could expect $5,000 in gold for a successful round trip from Bermuda to Wilmington and back, and the Captain Roberts mentioned below used his profits to rent the opulent residence of Wilmington Mayor John Dawson while in port. The Confederate commerce raiders like John Maffitt and John Wilkinson were so successful in their work that they destroyed the North’s merchant marine, which never recovered.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Blockade Running From Bermuda

“In July 1863 Captain [Hezekiah] Frith loaded his sturdy little Bermuda schooner, the Harkaway, with a cargo of boots, shoes and cloth and ran the blockade into Wilmington. Frith was evidently proud of his contribution to the Southern cause. [US] Consul [Charles M.] Allen noted that upon his return he “flew the Confederate flag a considerable time while in port.”

Another captain who often called at Bermuda . . . [was] “Captain Roberts” . . . the nom de guerre of the Honourable Augustus Charles Hobart-Hampden, a younger son of the Earl of Buckinghamshire. Roberts/Hampden held the rank of Captain in the Royal Navy and at one time served as commander of [Queen Victoria’s] yacht.

Roberts started blockade running in 1863 . . . On one run he earned a 1,100-percent profit selling corset stays, Cockle’s Pills and toothbrushes to Southerners starved for consumer goods.

Another raider to call at Bermuda was the CSS Florida, under the command of Lieutenant John [Newland] Maffitt, CSN. She left Liverpool as the Oreto in March, 1862, and received her guns from the CSS Nashville in Nassau a month later. After capturing a number of prizes in the South Atlantic, Maffitt turned north, threatening US shipping along the eastern seaboard.

Arriving in St. George’s in early July for coal and repairs, the Florida exchanged salutes with the British garrison at Fort Cunningham. While in port the Florida . . . took on all the coal then available in St. George’s. She also transferred . . . captured items from various prizes to the Robert E. Lee, which ran them into Wilmington. While his ship was being repaired, Maffitt was “handsomely entertained” by the island’s British garrison, who, according to Georgiana Walker, “believed that Capt. Maffitt had achieved gallant deeds upon the sea & . . . [and] honored him accordingly.”

In mid-1864 the blockade runner Edith was converted to a commerce raider and commissioned as the CSS Chickamauga. She left Wilmington for her first cruise on October 28, under the command of Capt. John Wilkinson, CSN, former captain of the runner Robert E. Lee.

The Chickamauga prowled the shipping lanes as far north as Long Island Sound, taking seven prizes before calling at Bermuda to provision. One of the vessels she captured southwest of Bermuda, the US merchant ship Harriet Stevens, carried a supply of gum opium that Wilkinson consigned to a runner for delivery to Southern hospitals.

(Rogues & Runners, Bermuda and the American Civil War, Catherine Lynch Deichmann, Bermuda National Trust, 2003, excerpts pp. 46-57)

Jan 2, 2015 - The War at Sea    No Comments

Ineffective Blockade of Southern Ports

Lincoln’s blockade of Southern ports was initially a propaganda device intended to discourage foreign recognition and trade with the American South, and its effectiveness through 1865 was largely exaggerated. Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin’s diplomats regularly advised foreign leaders of the increasing volume of Southern trade in an out of its ports, and despite the so-called blockade by Lincoln’s navy.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Ineffective Blockade of Southern Ports

From Mr. Benjamin, Secretary of State, Department of State, Richmond, September 2, 1863

Hon. John Slidell, etc., Paris, France

“Sir: Although it is painfully apparent that but little hope can be entertained of present redress for the injury suffered by this confederacy in consequence of the respect accorded by neutral nations to the so-called blockade of our entire coast proclaimed by the United States, it is none the less deemed a duty to renew the oft-repeated protests of this Government, lest silence be construed into acquiescence of the principles and policy avowed by one of the maritime powers of Europe, and tacitly adopted by all others.

Can the Governments of Europe justly expect that we shall continue to permit their vessels to convey without question the property of our enemies, while their lawful commerce with us remains obstructed and embarrassed by their acquiescence in the flagrant violation of public law committed by the unscrupulous people who are warring against us?

The reports of the [US] Secretary of the Navy of the United States made to President Lincoln on the 4th of July and 2nd September 1861, show that at the date of that President’s inauguration, on the 4th of March, 1861, the total number of vessels of the United States of all classes in commission was twenty-four, of which half were in distant seas; and that of the home squadron, consisting of twelve vessels, only four were immediately accessible to orders.

It results from these statements that the United States were provided on the average with one vessel for every three hundred miles of the coast, or one vessel for every fifteen of the ports of which they proclaimed the blockade. Such was the blockade at its inception. [Just] the returns from [the ports of Charleston and Wilmington] from July 1861, [to 13 August 1863]…exhibit a trade constantly and largely progressive in spite of the additions made to the Federal naval forces since the inception of the blockade.

Turning now to the port of Wilmington, we find a progressive monthly increase in the cotton exported from 526,824 pounds in January, 1863, to 2,144,887 pounds in July; while in the present month of August [1863] these exports are likely to reach 4,000,000 pounds, if we may judge from the reports of the first thirteen days of the month.

The average foreign commerce of the port, estimate on the same basis as Charleston, is about $270,000 a month, exclusive of large quantities of naval stores. This commerce at the present rate, therefore, without allowing anything for its rapid increase, amounts to $3,240,000 per annum; while the whole foreign commerce of the State of North Carolina, including the ports of Edenton, Plymouth, Newbern, Washington, Beaufort, and Wilmington, in the year 1858 amounted to only $715,488.

Thus one “blocked” port in 1863 carried on more than four times the amount of the whole foreign commerce of the States in 1858, and this business is done by ocean steamers running almost with the regularity of packets. In January last this Government determined to introduce some supplies and to export some cotton on its own vessels, and for that purpose purchased a few ocean steamers. The report shows that these steamers have made since January forty-four voyages through the “blockading fleet” without suffering a single loss by capture. No comment can add to the force of this statement.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of State”

(Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence (excerpt), Vol. II, James D. Richardson, US Publishing Company, 1905, pp. 547-550)

 

Vindicating the South

The articles of Dr. Albert Taylor Bledsoe would often express “in vigorous language . . . the best types of literature of the conservative point of view” from the South. In battling against the inevitable tendencies of modernity changing the postwar South, he reminded Southerners that their civilization was one to cherish and perpetuate.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Vindicating the South:

“The most indefatigable champion of the Southern cause was the Southern Review, established January, 1867, by Alfred Taylor Bledsoe, formerly professor of mathematics in the University of Virginia and the author of the noteworthy book entitled “Is Davis a Traitor?” A man of undoubted intellectual power and with remarkable energy and resourcefulness, he had already during the war, by his studies in the British Museum, made himself familiar with the first hand sources necessary for the study of early American history.

He brought back into the South the point of view of John C. Calhoun and gave forth the arguments in favor of secession with searching logic and a scholarship that was more exact than that of the great statesman himself. He conceived it to be his duty through the Review to give permanent statements to the ideas that had been fought for by the Southern people. He would not let any criticism of his course to change him in his desire to set forth the Southern point of view.

“Shall we bury in the grave of the grandest cause that has ever perished on earth, all the little stores of history and philosophy which a not altogether idle life has enabled us to enmass, and so leave the just cause, merely because it has fallen, to go without our humble advocacy? We would rather die.”

He quoted with great gusto the words of Robert E. Lee: “Doctor, you must take care of yourself; you have a great work to do; we all look to you for our vindication.” None of the discouragement incident to the management of the Review or threatened poverty could for one moment cause him to swerve from his frequently expressed object. In a long article in Vol. VIII, in pleading with the Southern people to stand by him in the fight, he says:

“To abandon The Southern Review would be like the pain of death to me. It is the child of my affections. Money is not my object. I am willing to work for the South; nay, I am willing to be a slave for the South. Nothing but an unconquerable zeal in the cause of the South and of the truth, could have sustained us under the heavy pressure of its doubts, its difficulties, its trials, and its vexations in spirit.”

He has no sympathy for modern democracy, for to him it was the child of infidelity. He is opposed to all the tendencies of modern science, for it tends to destroy the faith of mankind. He is opposed to industrialism, looking upon it as the enemy to all that is chivalric and beautiful in civilization. He will have nought to do with German philosophy or German criticism, for they are both the inaugurators of the reign of radicalism and rationalism.”

(The South in the Building of the Nation, Volume VII, Edwin Mims, Southern Historical Publication Society, 1909, pp. 463-465)

Blackout of Honest Government

Even Northerners saw the ill-effects of a vindictive postwar Reconstruction which reduced a free people to bondage and political despotism. It appears that Northern army commanders also felt remorse at what they had wrought in the destruction of the American South. A minority report of a Congressional committee declared that “History, till now, gives no account of a conqueror so cruel as to place his vanquished foes under the domination of their former slaves. That was reserved for the radical [Republican] rulers in this great Republic.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Blackout of Honest Government

“Psychologically and in every other respect the Negroes were fearfully unprepared to occupy positions of ruler-ship. Race and color came to mean more to them than any other consideration, whether of honest government, of justice to the individual, or even of ultimate protection of their own rights.

Negroes on juries let color blind them, and the rejected the wisest counsel, Northern and Southern, against banding together politically, instead of dividing on issues and policies of government . . . but Negroes proscribed their own race if any voted Democratic — their preachers excommunicating them, their womenfolk bringing all their feminine powers to play against them, and Loyal Leagues intimidating and doing violence to them.

Their idea of the new order was “De bottom rail’s on de top, An we’s gwine to keep it dar.”

Carpetbaggers were as little desirous of promoting Negroes into high office in the South as their Northern colleagues were in their States; and Scalawags, actuated by racial antipathies more than Carpetbaggers, objected to Negroes holding any offices. Both were quite desirous that Negroes vote – but not for Negroes.

A Georgia Negro wrote [Massachusetts Senator] Charles Sumner [in 1869] that there was no other place in the Union where there were so “many miserable hungry unscrupulous politicians . . . and if they could prevent it no colored man would ever occupy any office of profit or trust.” Even so, Negroes frequently held offices far beyond their capacity to administer them.

Radical leaders imposed their views on the Negroes . . . [the Dalton Georgia Citizen wrote on 10 September 1868 that] ”every man knows that the Republican party, under the lead of God, President Lincoln and General Grant, freed the whole colored race from slavery; and every man knows anything, believes that the Democratic party will, if they can, make them slaves again.”

A Carpetbagger characterized Henry M. Turner, preacher, politician and [who] presided at many Negro conventions, as a “licentious robber and counterfeiter, a vulgar blackguard, a sacreligous profaner of God’s name, and a most consummate hypocrite. Yet the Negroes elected him to the Georgia legislature — if he had received his deserts, he would have gone to the penitentiary; he was a thief and a scoundrel, and yet they voted for him.”

“If the colored people have not the elements of morality among them sufficiently to cry down on such shameless characters, they should not expect to command the respect of decent people anywhere.”

General William S. Rosecrans, amidst a [postwar] Confederate atmosphere at White Sulphur Springs, asked General Lee, in writing, whether he thought the South must in reality be ruled by “the poor, simple, uneducated, landless freedmen” under the corrupt leadership of whites still worse. Lee and thirty-one other prominent Southerners signed an answer declaring their opposition, basing it on no enmity toward the freedmen, “but from a deep-seated conviction that at present the Negroes have neither the intelligence nor other qualifications which are necessary to make them depositories of political power.”

As for Federal commanders, Rosecrans, Sherman, George H. Thomas, George G. Meade, Winfield S. Hancock, George B. McClellan, Don Carlos Buell, Henry W. Slocum, John A. McClernand, William S. Franklin and others either were silently ashamed or expressed their abhorrence of what was going on. The editor of Scribner’s Monthly saw Southerners in despair and he blamed the Federal government: “They feel that they were wronged, that they have no future, and they cannot protect themselves, and that nothing but death or voluntary exile will give them relief.”

The editor of The Nation by 1870 had come to view the South with a different light from that of 1865. In the South the people had forgotten “that in free countries men live for more objects than the simple one of keeping robbers’ hands off the earnings of the citizen.” There people were worse off than they were in any South American republic; for in the latter place tyrants could be turned out through the right of revolution, but the South with the army on its back could no longer resort to this ancient remedy.

Southerners must continue to suffer enormities “which the Czar would not venture toward Poland, or the British Empire toward the Sautals of the Indian jungle.” The North with all its charities had done less good than the Carpetbaggers had done harm.

[Carl] Schurz had learned much since his first visit to the South in 1865. He saw fearful acts perpetrated against the South, all in the name of patriotism, and particularly in Louisiana, “a usurpation such as this country has never seen, and probably no citizen of the United States has ever dreamed of.”

(History of the South, Volume VIII: The South During Reconstruction, E. Merton Coulter, LSU Press, 1947, (142-146; 160-161)

No Sacrifice Too Great for Independence

Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin was one of the most vocal advocates of arming the slaves to fight the North and offering freedom in return for defending their country. He said in February 1865, “Let us say to every Negro who wishes to go into the ranks on condition of being made free, “Go and fight – you are free.” Let us imitate [the Yankees] in this. I would imitate them in nothing else.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

No Sacrifice Too Great for Independence

“On 12 October [1864] a radical editorial appeared in the [Richmond] Sentinel. Probably influenced by [Judah P.] Benjamin, it wrote that the South “would sooner sacrifice slavery a thousand times than to be conquered by the Yankees and have it sacrificed by them. If it becomes necessary we can enlist the Negro element on our side. We can make all the offers that the Yankees can, and some they cannot.”

Other editorials in somewhat similar vein followed on 14 and 24 November – after Lincoln had been re-elected and Sherman was marching to the sea. In the latter editorial the Sentinel flatly advocated the arming of the slaves in case General Lee and the other military authorities felt it was necessary for Southern success.

The Negroes who fought in the ranks were to be given their freedom at the end of the war. For it was not a case, the Sentinel said, where the Confederate people could cling to pre-conceived notions and prejudices about slavery. If they did not arm the Negroes to fill their depleted ranks, they were likely to lose their independence, and no sacrifice was too great to keep them from getting under the Yankee yoke.

Simultaneously with the appearance of these editorials the Confederate Congress had assembled on 7 November, and Jefferson Davis, reputedly on Benjamin’s suggestion, recommended the employment of 40,000 slaves in the army but not to be used as soldiers except in the last extremity; after the war they were to be emancipated.

It was an opening wedge for the use of large numbers of Negro troops in the Confederate ranks . . . [and] General Lee, Governor Smith of Virginia, Senator Brown and Benjamin argued ably for the measure on the ground of military necessity. In a letter on 21 December to his old college-mate Frederick Porcher of Charleston, who had written him primarily to urge the arming of the slaves, Benjamin indicated that President Davis was only waiting for public opinion to ripen on the subject.

Early in February, 1865, the Confederate peace commissioners, Judge Campbell, Alexander H. Stephens, and R.M.T. Hunter, returned from their unsuccessful meeting with Lincoln and Seward at Fortress Monroe. A mass meeting was then held in the African Church at Richmond on 9 February to rally the people for a further desperate effort. The African Church, then the largest auditorium in Richmond, was frequently borrowed from its Negro members for such assemblies.

{Judah Benjamin spoke] “I want all the bacon, everything which can feed soldiers, and I want it as a free gift to the country. Talk of rights! What rights do the arrogant invaders leave you? Look to the trenches below Richmond. Is it not a shame that men who have sacrificed all in our defence should not be reinforced with all the means in our power? Is it any time now for antiquated patriotism to argue refusal to send them aid, be it white or black?

I wish to call your attention to some figures, which I wish you to seriously ponder. In 1860 the South had 1,664,000 arms-bearing men. How many men have the Yankees send against us? In 1861, 654,000; in 1862, 740,000; in 1863, 700,000; in 1864 they called out 1,500,000.

Here you have the figures that they brought out 3,000,000 men against 1,664,000 Confederates., who lived at the beginning of the war to draw sword in their country’s service. Our resources of white population have greatly diminished, but you had 680,000 black men of the same ages, and could Divine prophesy have told us of the fierceness of the enemy’s death grapple at our throats, could we have known what we now know, that Lincoln has confessed, that without 200,000 Negroes which he stole from us, he would be compelled to give up the contest, should we have entertained any doubts upon the subject?”

Judah P. Benjamin, Confederate Statesman, Robert Douthat Meade, Oxford University Press, 1943, pp. 305-307)

 

Black Soldiers on Both Sides

The first black unit, including black line officers, in the War Between the States was the Louisiana Native Guards of New Orleans, accepted into State service by Governor Thomas D. Moore on May 2, 1861. The Daily Crescent assured its readers that “They will fight the Black Republicans with as much determination and gallantry as any body of white men in the service of the Confederate States.”  The author below illustrates that black men served on both sides.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Black Soldiers on Both Sides

“Chapter XX: In Which is Recalled the Fact Negroes Served on Both Sides In That War and Yankee Recruiters Fished a Long Way From Home and Hardly Got Their Bait Back.

The Civil War wasn’t entirely a white man’s fight. Negroes served in both the Federal and Confederate forces. Soon after Edmund Ruffin pulled the trigger at Charleston, Negroes tried to enlist in both the Northern and Southern armies but their services, as was the case in the Revolution, were at first declined.

This attitude changed rather quickly in the North. The Federal Congress, in July of 1862, passed a law permitting the enlistment of Negro troops. Their pay at first was fixed at $10 a month compared to $16.50 for white troops. Fred Douglas protested to Lincoln and Old Abe told him that if he were a Negro he’d be glad to fight for his freedom free of charge. Douglas and the other Negro leaders continued to protest and the pay differential was wiped out.

Negro troops were used in the main by the North for garrison duty and labor forces and, after Appomattox, for occupation duty in the South; but they saw action in 250 battles and skirmishes, including the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg in which Negro troops were scheduled to have led the charge after that mine was exploded. They missed the assignment due to a foul-up in orders.

Northern governors sent 1,405 agents into captured areas of the South in an attempt to recruit Negro slaves to help fill their State draft quotas but business was mighty poor. They worked for several months but got only 5,052 recruits. When the war ended there were 178,975 Negroes in the Yankee armies, comprising 116 regiments.

In the South, free Negroes came forward at first in large numbers to offer their services to the Confederacy. Richard Kennard of Petersburg gave $100. Jordan Chase, of Vicksburg, gave a horse and authorized the government to draw on him for $500. Down in New Orleans, Thomy Lafon gave $500. An Alabama Negro gave 100 bushels of sweet potatoes. At Charleston a little Negro girl gave twenty-five cents. Confederate war bonds found many Negro subscribers (The Negro in the Civil War, Quarles).

Negroes by the thousands were employed in Southern war factories. Free Negroes were paid the prevailing wage. Slaves impressed into service were given food, shelter and clothing and their owners paid $25 a month. If a slave ran away or died, the owner was paid $354.

Negroes in the South rendered their greatest service to the Confederacy by tilling the farms and taking care of the folks at home while the white men were at the front. The slaves could have ended the War overnight had they chosen to rise in rebellion. Southern armies would have headed back home en masse at even the rumor of such a development.

As the War dragged on, the need for men became finally so desperate the Confederate Congress, acting on the recommendation of General Lee and the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi, passed a law in March of 1865 authorizing enlistment of Negroes, both slave and free.

They were to be paid the same as white troops; and slaves, if they remained loyal through the War, were to be set free. President Davis signed the law on March 13. It was less than a month before Lee’s surrender.”

(Then My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night!, W.E. Debnam, The Graphic Press, 1955, pp. 49-50)