Dec 26, 2022 - Carnage, Lincoln's Grand Army, Sherman's Legacy    Comments Off on Sherman’s Avoidance of Battle

Sherman’s Avoidance of Battle

A lingering question regarding Sherman’s destructive march through Georgia was his disinterest in liberating Northern prisoners at the well-known Andersonville stockade. Given the late 1864 date of his time there, it is possible that the Radical Congress wanted him to leave the Northern men there to die of starvation and disease in order to better demonize the South as the war ended. Also considered is Grant’s late-war termination of prisoner exchanges – which condemned thousands of Northern men to death.

The writer below notes Sherman as not similar to Grant – the latter noted for his bloody human wave attacks against a numerically inferior enemy, regardless of the cost in lives. He was aware that his masters at Washington wanted results, now. At Bentonville, the timid Sherman feared defeat at the hands of Johnston after walking into a trap.

Sherman’s Avoidance of Battle 

The Northern General Sherman claimed a victory at the battle of Bentonville in North Carolina, fought in mid-March 1865. He claimed this as he was in possession of the battlefield when the fighting ended, and as General Joseph E. Johnston had not crushed Sherman’s left wing.  Nonetheless, the latter had little of which to boast of. Sherman’s force of near-70,000 was more than twice that of General Johnston’s 18,000 – and yet on March 19th, the invaders tottered on the brink of a resounding defeat.

Sherman’s conduct at Bentonville bears out the truth of one of his subordinate’s statements: Strategy was his strongest ability. “Take him into battle and Sherman did not seem to be the equal of a General Thomas or Grant.”

Furthermore, Sherman failed to follow up his success by pursuing his enemy and instead moved his army to Goldsboro. There the forces of Generals Terry and Cox awaited him after their march from Wilmington where they had avoided combat with Major-General Robert F. Hoke’s veteran troops. His total strength was now near 90,000 men, and Sherman’s explanation to Grant as to why he pushed on to Goldsboro rather than confront Johnston leaves something to be desired since he was not in need of food or ammunition – “the only adequate excuse” for halting. He seemed to consider shoes, which were noticeably absent among his men, his most essential need. Bu the scarcity of footwear did not warrant delay at this time – the Southern soldiers were also without shoes.”

(Life and Reminiscences of General Sherman by Distinguished Men of His Time, T. C. Fletcher, editor. H. Woodward & Co., 1891, pg. 292)

 

Access Denied to Those Seeking Historical Truth

Access Denied to Those Seeking Historical Truth

“Undoubtedly the main reason for confusion about some of the incidents of the War Between the States – such as the assault on July 3rd at Gettysburg – was the arbitrary manner in which the Northern war department denied Southern writers access to the official documents – even those of their own preparation which were stolen or captured.

This blackout continued for thirteen years after the end of hostilities, a period during which most of the abiding impressions about the war were being formed. It is an amazing fact that when General Robert E. Lee endeavored to inspect his own reports of battles and his own field returns, he was denied that right. He never did have the opportunity to make use of them. Other Southern officers and writers were rebuffed in their efforts to examine papers which they desired to see solely for historical purposes. Officialdom is usually more illiberal than the people it represents.

Never was there a more obvious effort to channel the course of history – to make certain that history was written from only one side – than of the arbitrary Northern war department officials in the late 1860s and the 1870s.

When Governor Zebulon Vance of North Carolina sought to review his own letter books, which had been seized, in order that he might refute accusation made against him that had been based on garbled use of these same letters, the privilege was denied.

It should be recalled that after the war the South was virtually destitute of papers and reports bearing on the conflict. All documents either had been destroyed or seized by the invading armies, bundled and sent to Washington. There many of them remain.

The Rev. J. William Jones, long the secretary of the Southern Historical Society engaged in a spirited campaign with the North’s war department to gain for Southern writers the privilege of reading the reports of Southern generals that were freely available to northern writers. The standard reply was that Congress would have to authorize the printing of any war archives.

Jones charged that the records had been “for years closely guarded to all save a favored few,” and added: “Indeed, the outrage of keeping those documents locked up to Southerners, and open to every writer on the other side who might desire to defame our leaders or falsify our history, has become so patent to all right-thinking people that there have been denials that access has been denied to any seeker of historical truth.”

(Some Aspects of North Carolina’s Participation in the Gettysburg Campaign. Glenn Tucker. NC Historical Review, Vol. XXXV, No. 2, April 1958, pp. 191-193)

 

Recollection of Great Deeds in Bronze and Marble

Recollection of Great Actions in Bronze and Marble

“We are told by historians of an earlier age that whenever the renowned men of the Roman commonwealth looked upon the statues of their ancestry, they felt their minds vehemently excited to virtue. It could not have been the bronze or marble that possessed this power, but the recollection of great actions which kindled a generous flame in their souls, not to be quelled until they also, by virtue and heroic deeds, had acquired equal fame and glory.

When a call to arms resounds throughout the land and people relinquish the pleasant scenes of tranquil life and rally to their country’s call, such action is the result of an honest conviction that the act is commendable. In recalling such an epoch, the wish that a true record of the deeds done should be transmitted to posterity must dominate every patriot heart.

Loyalty to brave men who for four long years of desolating war – years of undimmed glory – stood by each other and fought to the bitter end with indomitable heroism which characterized the American soldier in grey, demands from posterity a preservation of the memories of the great struggle.

We cannot find in the annals of history a grander record or prouder roll of honor, no more just fame for bravery, patient endurance of hardships, and sacrifices. But what caused the four long years of desolating war?

Opposition to the to the right of equality within the political union of our fathers has been fostered and inflamed until it had taken possession of the public mind at the North to such an extent that it overwhelmed every other influence. The Republican party, soon to take possession of the powers of the national government, was sectional, irresponsible to the Southern States, and driven by an infuriated, fanatical madness that defied all opposition which must inevitably destroy every of vestige of our political rights.

The consideration for which our State’s gave assent to become members of the federal union of 1789 had wholly failed when they were not to enjoy equal rights within it. The compact was therefore willfully and materially broken.”

(Military History of Florida, Col. J.J. Dickison; Confederate Military History, Vol. XI.   Confederate Publishing Co., 1899, pp. 3; 8)

Dec 17, 2022 - Carnage, Immigration, Lincoln's Grand Army, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on The Irish Brigade Repulsed on Marye’s Hill

The Irish Brigade Repulsed on Marye’s Hill

The following is a Texas soldier’s letter home after the battle at Fredericksburg in late December 1862, and his account of the North Carolinian defenders at Marye’s Heights. It is remarkable that after the utter carnage of this battle and the already vast number of dead since mid-1861 – that Lincoln did not call for peace between the two Americas. It was within his power.

The Irish Brigade Repulsed on Marye’s Hill

“Between the last houses of the town [of Fredericksburg] proper and the stone fence stretched a piece of level open ground about two hundred yards wide. Entering this, the Federals halted a second or two to reform their lines; and then, some shouting “Erin go bragh,” they and others the Yankee huzzah, they rushed immediately forward against a storm of grape and cannister that, as long as the guns on the hilltop could be sufficiently depressed, tore great gaps in their ranks.

But, wavering not, they closed together and rushed onward until within fifty yards of the stone fence, when in one grand, simultaneous burst of light, sound and death, came a blinding flash, the deafening roar, the murderous destruction of two thousand well-aimed rifles, the wild, weird blood-curdling “Rebel Yell,” and two thousand Irishmen sank down wounded or dead, and a cowed and demoralized remnant sought safety in inglorious flight.

Seven assaults were made on that stone fence during the day, and five thousand Irishmen were sent to eternity before Gen. Burnside convinced himself that Lee’s position was impregnable. Only two regiments of our division were actually engaged in this undertaking – the Fifty-seventh and Fifty-fourth North Carolina – both comprised of young conscripts under twenty as well as old men – all dressed in homespun and presenting to the eyes of us veterans a very unsoldierly appearance. Ordered to drive the enemy back, these two regiments not only charged with surprising recklessness, but kept on charging the enemy until Gen. John B. Hood recalled them.

As they passed our veteran brigade on their return, one old fellow halted, wiped the powder grime from his weather-beaten face with his sleeve, and wrathfully exclaimed, “Durn old Hood, anyhow! He jes’ didn’t have no bus’ness ter stop us when we’uns was a-whippin’ the durn blue-bellies ter hell an’ back . . .”

(The Irish Brigade is Repulsed on Marye’s Hill. A Soldier’s Letters to Charming Nellie, J. B. Polley. The Blue and the Gray, Vol. One, Henry Steel Commager, Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1950, pp. 242-243)

Dec 11, 2022 - Myth of Saving the Union, Pleading for Peace, Southern Unionists, Withdrawing from the Union    Comments Off on Southern Unionists

Southern Unionists

Southern Unionists

“One Southern conservative on the eve of war was a teacher of physics at a military institute. Observing the actions and words of the people in the North, he said:

‘It is painful to discover with what unconcern they speak of war and threaten it. They do not seem to know what its horrors are. I have had the opportunity of knowing enough on the subject to make me fear war as the sum of all evils.’

Looking around him at his own duties, he said – this was on February 2, 1861, after the first seven States had declared independence: ‘I am much gratified to see a strong Union feeling in my portion of Virginia . . . For my own part I plan to vote for the Union candidates for the [State] convention and I desire to see every honorable means used for peace, and I believe that Providence will bless such means with the fruits of peace.’

That was Thomas Jonathan Jackson.

Another was a United States cavalry colonel at the time. After the first six States had declared independence, he wrote his son on January 29, 1861:

‘I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope that all Constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love & kindness, has no charm for me . . . If the Union is dissolved & the government disrupted, I shall return to my native State & share the miseries of my people & save in her defense, will draw my sword on none.’

That was Robert E. Lee.”

(Lenoir Chambers, The South on the Eve of the Civil War. North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. XXXIX, No. 2., Spring 1962, pp. 193-194)

Nathaniel Macon, Model Conservative

Nathaniel Macon, Model Conservative

From the Congressional Globe, February 14, 1826:

“The government which John Quincy Adams found when he moved into the White House in 1825 was a much bigger government than his father had left; and Nathaniel Macon, who had represented North Carolina in Congress since 1791, was far from happy with it.

He regretted that everything had grown, just like the number of doorkeepers of the houses of Congress. “Formerly two men were sufficient for doorkeeper, etc., for the two houses,” Macon complained, “but now there is a regiment.”

As he recalled at the time, during the presidency of John Adams, when the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions had been passed, he asked: “If there was reason to be alarmed at the growing power of the General Government [then], how much more has taken place since? Congress now stopped almost at nothing, which it deemed expedient to be done, and the Constitution was construed to give power for any grand scheme.”

To Macon, it was a dangerous development. “Do a little now, and a little then, and by and by, they would render this government as powerful and unlimited as the British Government was,” Macon told his colleagues in the Senate in 1825.

At the next session, Macon declared that “he did not like to go on in this way – the Government constantly gaining power by little bits. A wagon road was made under treaty with an Indian tribe some twenty years ago – and now it has become a great national object to be kept up by large appropriations. We thus go on by degrees, step by step, until we get almost unlimited government power.”

(Nathaniel Macon and the Southern Protest Against National Consolidation. Noble E. Cunningham, Jr.  North Carolina Historical Review, Volume XXXI, No. 3, July 1955, pg. 376)

 

The Americans of 1860

An honest appraisal of events leading up to the national convulsion of 1860-1865 begins with understanding the American mind of that era. The literature is clear that Northerners rid themselves of slaves in their midst by selling them southward and did not want the black man among them – but restricted to the South. Northern workingmen too feared black freedmen coming northward seeking employment at wages less than that which white men would accept. But war came and the black man solved Lincoln’s dwindling enlistment problem as refugee freedmen were put in the ranks; white veterans were showered with generous bounties after 1863 to reenlist and eventually muster out – if they lived – rather wealthy men.

The Americans of 1860

“There is no evidence to show that the American people of 1860, not only those living in slaveholding States, but also the vast majority of Americans living in the former slaveholding States of the north and others, thought the Negro capable of skipping over the tendencies which the white man had derived from thousands of years of his well-developed civilization, and passing with or without a few years training, from the mental condition and inheritance of barbarians and slaves into full equality with the free citizens of a self-governing republic, whose laws, traditions, habits and customs were totally alien, far more alien than those of the Japanese and Chinese.

The Americans of that day did not feel that a mere statute law permitting the Negro to equal the white man in autonomous government could enable him to do so. The slave system was considered fundamentally not as a matter of morals, of right and wrong, but merely as an economic arrangement which was essentially the outgrowth of an inequality and difference in inheritance between the average white and black man.

It is safe to say that all of the Southerners and most of the Northerners knew that the Negroes were not a race resembling angels in ability, to pass from one extreme to the other without passing through the middle.

Therefore, it cannot be said that there was a basic antagonism between the Northern and Southern people in regard to the slavery question in the Southern States. If there was any real vital difference between the North and South, it was on what constituted a sectional control of the federal government. And Northerners in 1860 failed to realize that the Republican party of 1860 answered perfectly to Washington’s definition of a geographical party against the formation of which he solemnly warned his fellow-countrymen in his Farewell Address.”

(The Peaceable Americans of 1860-1861: A Study in Public Opinion. Mary Scrugham, Columbia University, 1921, pp. 57-60)

Nov 20, 2022 - Aftermath: Despotism, Pathways to Central Planning, Toward One World Government    Comments Off on Changing Place Names to Honor the Demi-god

Changing Place Names to Honor the Demi-god

“When truth was a luxury, any careless word or act would be seen as an attack on the state’s monopoly of truth.”

Changing Place Names to Honor the Demi-god

“Soon after Lenin’s death the dubious practice of had grown of giving the names of the party faithful and state figures to towns, regions, factories, educational facilities, theaters and so on. It had become the norm for state-run newspapers to help implement these desires of Party leadership. Trotsky himself had received a request from the citizens of Kochetovka, Zosimov District, Tambov Province, who had requested permission to call our village “Trotskoe,” in honor of our leader and inspirer of the Red Army, Trotsky.

By early 1925, Stalin had agreed to Molotov’s proposal to perpetuate his name by printing his collected works. After this it was decided to rename the town, province and railway station of Tsaritsyn to “Stalingrad.” The factories, parks, newspapers, ships and palaces of culture bearing his name would now embody his claim to eternity.

By the end of the 1920s there was virtually no district where Stalin’s name had not been adopted by one administrative, production or cultural body or another. By this means the people were surreptitiously imbued with the idea of the exceptional role that Stalin played in the nation’s destiny. The glorification of the Leader would be heard in every routine press report or speech by which the local “leader” would see that some of the glory was reflected upon himself.

The impression was inevitably gained that, having given up belief in God in heaven, the people were creating his replacement on earth. By August or 1931 and before the personal cult of Stalin had reached its zenith, there were attempts to immortalize Stalin in works of political biography. Everything he said, wrote or formulated was immutable, true, and in no need of actual evidence. In other words, Stalin was a demi-god – an all-wise man whose intellect was capable of answering all questions of the past, understanding the present and peering into the future.”

(Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy, Dimitri Volkogonov, Prima Publishing, 1991)

The Timeworn Stereotype of the South

In the following paper historian Frank L. Owsley refutes the claim that the North fought the war to preserve democratic government in America. He asserted that on the surface the South sought to establish its independence while the North fought to deny this desire. Owsley wrote that by early 1861 the Southern people “felt it both abhorrent and dangerous to continue to live under the same government with the people of the North. And so profound was this feeling among the bulk of the Southern population that they were prepared to fight a long and devastation war to accomplish a separation. On the other hand, the North was willing to fight a war to retain their fellow citizens under the same government with themselves.”

The Timeworn Stereotype of the South

“The Civil War was not a struggle on the part of the South to destroy free government and personal liberty, nor on the part of the North to preserve them.

Looked at from the present perspective of the worldwide attempt of totalitarians to erase free governments and nations living under such governments from the face of the earth, the timeworn stereotype that the South was attempting the destruction of free government and the North was fighting to preserve it, seems very unrealistic and downright silly.

Indeed, both Northern and Southern people in 1861 were alike profoundly attached to the principles of free government which is substantiated by period newspapers, diaries, letters and speeches give irrefutable evidence in support of this assertion. Their ideology was democratic and identical.

By 1860 the northeastern section of the United States had already assumed its modern outlines of a capitalist-industrial society where the means of production were owned by a relatively few. That is to say that New England and the middle States were fast becoming in essence a plutocracy with the lower classes dependent upon those who owned the tools of production.

Turning to the South, which was primarily agricultural, we find the situation completely contradictory to what has usually been assumed. The so-called slave-oligarchy of the South owned scarcely any of the land outside the black belt and only about 25 percent of the land inside the black belt. Actually, the basic means of production in the black belt and in the South as a whole was well-distributed among all classes of the population. The overwhelming majority of Southern families in 1860 owned their farms and livestock; about 90 percent of the slaveholders and about 70 percent of the non-slaveholders owned the land on which they farmed.

And it is important to note that the bulk of slaveholders were small farmers and not oligarchs – the majority of whom owned from one to four slaves and less than three hundred acres of land.

Thus, unlike the industrial population of the East, the overwhelming majority of white families in the South, owned the means of production. In other words, the average Southerner like the average Westerner possessed economic independence and held on strongly to its democratic ideology and sound economic foundation of a free government.”

(The Fundamental Cause of the Civil War, Frank L. Owsley. Journal of Southern History, Vol. 7, No. 1, February 1941. pp. 5-6)

Nov 10, 2022 - Costs of War    Comments Off on War and Change

War and Change

“Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it compromises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies, from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few . . . No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” James Madison, 1795.

War and Change

“The North’s defeat of the American South’s bid for independence decisively settled the question of whether or not the 1789 agreement between the States was dissoluble. By confirming the permanence and supremacy of federal power, the war had shifted the basis of national legitimacy at least partly back toward its Hamiltonian and Federalist roots.

The Civil War prefigured not only the massive firepower, extended fronts and complex logistics of World War One, but also the economic mobilization integral to that war. By penetrating the American economy in previously untried ways, Lincoln significantly altered the relationship between the economy and his government. Prior to 1861, the federal government had been a minor purchaser in the American economy; during the war it had become the largest single purchaser and a catalyst of rapid growth in key industries such as iron, textiles, shoes, and meat packing.

The war also spawned a revolution in taxation that permanently altered the structure of American federalism. Prior to war over 80 percent of federal revenue had come from customs duties, which of course could not sustain Lincoln’s war economy. In early August 1861 the first income tax appeared, soon followed by the Internal Revenue Act of 1862 which levied many taxes on stamps, luxuries, inheritance, and manufactured goods.

Beyond taxation the northern public experienced federal intrusion such as Lincoln’s arbitrary suspension of habeas corpus resulting in thousands of arrests without judicial process. Anyone could be arrested or detained simply for suspicion of “disloyal practice” with trial before military commissions. Lincoln’s imposition of national conscription, which even Horace Greeley decried as slavery, ignited the largest civil insurrection in American history. The riots and violence in northern cities had to be suppressed with military units pulled from the front lines.”

With the South’s independence crushed, the Radical Republicans began remaking the South in the image of the North as Congress imposed military rule on the South And mandated a rewriting of State constitutions on northern models. The Radicals main agents of change were the coercive arms of the Freedmen’s Bureau – to ensure freedmen did not align with their former owners – and the US Army. The seemingly peaceful Union League, a postwar political arm of the Republican party in the South, politicized the freedmen against their white neighbors, and in the process created the Ku Klux Klan.

In the early 1870s, two former Confederate generals testified before Congress that if the Union League were disbanded, the Klan would disappear.

(War and the Rise of the State, Bruce D. Porter. The Free Press, 1994. pp. 258-263)

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