Doing the Barbarous Will of the Abolitionists
The Old Guard was published from 1863 to 1867 by C. Chauncey Burr in New York, though not pro-Union. Articles that appeared during the war years were very critical of Lincoln and his administration, and blamed them either directly of indirectly, for the mass casualties on both sides of the fighting.
Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865
Doing the Barbarous will of the Abolitionists
“The following extract from a letter written by one of our officers the day after the slaughter at Fredericksburg will be read with mingled shame and indignation by every Northern man, except the abolitionists, who appear to delight in such theft and plunder.
“I went over the Rappahannock this morning (the 13th) and such a scene as I witnessed cannot possibly be described. The men [of the Northern army] had emptied every house and store of its contents, and the streets, as a matter of course, were filled with chairs and sofas, pianos, books and everything imaginable. The men were beginning to make themselves appear as ridiculous as possible. Some had hauled pianos to the front doors and were making hideous noises on them.
Others were in silk dresses with beaver hats on, parading the streets. Others were reading letters; while others turned their attention to obtaining tobacco of which there was an immense quantity in town. I have seen hundreds of men with from 50 to 100 pounds of it. I saw one man with a canary bird, and another with a banjo.
A more disgraceful scene I have never witnessed. If Richmond suffers the same fate this town has, no wonder that the [Southern] whites fight so. The shelling was a military necessity; but after the town was in our possession the pillaging should have ceased. I think our army has been disgraced today by this act.”
A federal officer, corresponding for the Chicago Times, gives an account of General Grant’s progress in Northern Mississippi which shows that our soldiers under that command are horribly demoralized:
“ Straggling through the country, and stealing everything that they can lay their hands on (says the correspondent), whether of use or not to them, goes on. Helpless women and children are robbed of their clothes and bedding, their provisions taken from them and by men who have no earthly use for them whatever.”
From Another Correspondent:
“A private letter received here not long since, from a soldier in one of our western armies states that their march South was characterized by acts of vandalism and wanton outrage, and fiendish cruelty disgraceful to a civilized people. Burning houses, desolated fields and homeless households marked their path; while unlicensed robbery, indiscriminate plunder, and, not infrequently, assassination completed the woeful picture presented by an invading army which appeared to be without restraint, and whose only purpose would seem to be as thus manifested, to burn, pillage and destroy as it went.”
Men who behave in this manner are not soldiers, but brigands. The officers who allow such crimes deserve to be execrated by the parents whose sons are under their command. It was one of the real causes of abolition complain against General McClellan, that he forbid marauding and plundering. It is painful to publish such things; but the people ought to know them, in order that they may understand why it is that the Southern people fight with such unnatural desperation, and why they have come to entertain such a sincere horror of Northern people.
Generals who allow these crimes on the part of their soldiers, it is certain, are not fighting to restore the Union—they are doing the barbarous will of the abolitionists, to drive the South so far out that it can never get back. We are sorry to say that General Grant has won for himself a most inglorious notoriety in this particular.”
(The Old Guard, September 1863, C. Chauncey Burr & Co. New York.)