Browsing "Costs of War"
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)

Jul 27, 2022 - America Transformed, Carnage, Costs of War, Lincoln's Blood Lust, Myth of Saving the Union, Northern Resistance to Lincoln, Withdrawing from the Union    Comments Off on The Human Cost of Seeking Political Independence

The Human Cost of Seeking Political Independence

Edmund D. Patterson was born in Ohio of New England parents in 1842. Age seventeen found him well-educated and selling books by subscription in northern Alabama as well as teaching school. With war in 1861 came his enlistment in the Lauderdale Rifles, which became Company D of the Ninth Alabama Infantry. Patterson’s regiment arrived in Virginia two days after the battle of First Manassas, and the following extract is from his diary entry of July 23, 1861.

The Human Cost of Seeking Political Independence

“On the day we reached this place the rain poured down in torrents, and when we camped for the night, it was in mud and water several inches deep, and near the bloodiest part of the battlefield.

I have just returned from a walk over the battlefield. I made an attempt to go over it some hours ago, but the smell of the blood made me sick, and I had to turn back, but this time I succeeded, and may God grant that I may never see another.

I have often read descriptions of battlefields but never, until now, realized all the horrors that the word expresses. Here are the mangled human bodies on every side, some pierced by a rifle or musket ball – others almost torn to fragments by a shell – in some places horse and rider have fallen together. Some have a look or expression on their face as mild and calm as if they were only sleeping, others seem to have had a terrible struggle with the monster death and only yielded after having suffered such pain as has caused their faces to assume expressions that are fearful to look upon, their features distorted, the eyeballs glaring, and often with their hands full of mud and grass that they have clutched in their last agony.

I noticed one who had striven vainly to staunch the flow of blood from a wound through the body by stuffing mud into the wound. This was probably while the battle was still raging and no one near to attend to him. Another clutched in his hand a portion of a pack of cards, while the remained of them lay scattered around him.

But why attempt to describe in detail the particulars of this sickening scene? Many a poor fellow who left his home a few weeks or few months ago full of hope for the future now lies sleeping on this battlefield never more to be disturbed by the rattle of musketry . . . or the roar of artillery.

The result of this battle will teach the North a lesson that will not soon be forgotten. It will show them, and the world, that we are in earnest and that we mean what we say and that in attempting our subjugation they have undertaken a Herculean task. It seems to me that this battle has been a complete victory.”

(Yankee Rebel: Civil War Journal of Edmund DeWitt Patterson. J.G. Barrett, editor, UNC Press, 1966, pp. 7-8)

The Fruit of Lincoln’s “Victory”

In his “Note on American Heroes” author Donald Davidson wrote of the Lincoln myth still in use today by historians who have ceased to be what they claim and knowingly have become mere myth-perpetuators.

The Fruit of Lincoln’s “Victory”

“The Union that Lincoln is said to have wanted to reestablish was never really set up. If Lincoln was a supporter, as in a dim way he may have been, of the Jeffersonian notion of a body of free and self-reliant farmers as the bulwark of the nation, then why did he fight the South?

Lincoln made war upon his own idea, and that the fruit of his victory, represented in sprawling, confused, industrial America is a more pitiful sight than the desolate Lee plantations, for it is hardly even a noble ruin.

However effective it may have been as a war measure, Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation was an inept bit if civil statesmanship, for it put the Negro problem beyond the hope of any such solution as America has been able to use for the Indian problem.

By letting himself by used as the idealistic front for the material designs of the North, Lincoln not only ruined the South but quite conceivably ruined the North as well; and if fascism or communism ever arrive in America, Lincoln will have been a remote but efficient cause of their appearance.”

(A Note on American Heroes, Donald Davidson. The Southern Review, Winter 1936, pg. 439)

Sharp Gettysburg Farmers

After the carnage and devastation experienced by both sides in early July 1863, the silence of the guns on July 4th allowed Northern soldiers the opportunity to view the result of battle. They quickly discovered the depth of the local farmers’ patriotism as the latter saw an opportunity to profit from the soldiers’ misery.

Sharp Gettysburg Farmers     

“Most of the thrifty, compulsively orderly farm families of German ancestry had, until now, viewed the sectional conflict with indifference, a struggle over issues that were foreign to their interests. When, after two years, the war finally intruded itself upon their lives, it entered with a destructive force few parts of the North had yet experienced. For miles about, their carefully tended fields had been stripped of laboriously built post and rail fences, all the greyed wood having gone to fires or barricades.

There was not a grazing animal to be seen. The low stone walls dividing the properties in the area, products of countless plowings by generations of frugal farmers, had been broken down by shot and shell. Once rich fields wheat and grain had been trampled to worthlessness by masses of farm-boys turned soldiers who could fully appreciate the extent of the damage they were doing. The ground itself was furrowed and scarred by the wheels of caissons and gun carriages. Once symmetrical orchards had been made incongruous; some trees had been reduced to stumps while on others fractured limbs with crumpled dead leaves hung limply.

Regardless of what high principles the Union soldiers may have been fighting for on their soil, they were being regarded by some of the ruined farmers as the source of financial devastation, and they were not anxious to comfort the soldiers in any way.

One officer of a New York regiment complained that ‘a well-to-do farmer near us refused us straw for our men . . . not a man or woman in the vicinity offered a hand to help or drop of milk for the poor sufferers.’ A Northern surgeon said ‘I have yet to see the first thing brought in for the comfort of the wounded. Some farmers brought in some bread which they sold for 75 cents a loaf. The brave army that has defended this State surely deserves better treatment.’

The morning after the epic Little Round Top battle a committee of farmers confronted a Northern major of the 155th Pennsylvania and demanded payment for straw taken for field hospitals. They were driven away with threats of arrest ‘for their disloyalty as well as their inhumanity.’ Perhaps the meanest offenses were being committed by the local farmers who removed the handles and buckets from their wells to prevent the soldiers from reaching water.

What particularly offended a Northern artillery colonel was the hundreds of people who had come “in their wagons to see the sights, to stroll over the ground and gaze and gape at the dead and wounded.”

(Debris of Battle: The Wounded of Gettysburg. Gerard A. Patterson. Stackpole Books, 1997, pp. 53-55)

Mar 22, 2022 - Costs of War, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on North Carolina’s General Pender

North Carolina’s General Pender

North Carolina’s General Pender

At Gettysburg on July 2nd General William Dorsey Pender’s division assaulted the Northern position at Seminary Ridge with great success despite suffering heavy losses. Near sundown as Pender encouraged his men to continue pressure on the enemy, he was hit in the thigh with a shell fragment and forced to relinquish command to Gen. James H. Lane.

In too much pain to mount his horse, Pender was taken by ambulance to a nearby field hospital while his division’s assault subsided. It is said that this near rout of the enemy inspired the following day’s famous frontal assault on Cemetery Ridge.

Recuperating in a hospital at Staunton, Virginia two weeks later, Gen. Pender’s leg began hemorrhaging due to a severed artery which could not be repaired, and amputation followed. The General lived for only a short time after, passing on July 18th.

Devastated by the loss of such an able commander, General Robert E. Lee remarked: “If General Pender had remained on his horse half an hour longer, we would have carried the enemy’s position.”

It was said that Pender became a devout Episcopalian early in the war which helped fuel his disgust with the invading Northern armies which he referred to as “drunken rabble and unprincipled villains.”

Though a native of Edgecombe County, North Carolina, in the 1870’s Pender County, North Carolina was named in his honor. His epitaph reads: “Patriot by nature, soldier by profession, Christian by faith.”

(Confederate Generals of North Carolina, Joe A. Mobley, History Press, 2011)

The Choice Between War and Peace

Lincoln was without question a sharp Whig attorney who knew the intricacies of Illinois politics. On the national stage he led a conglomeration of former Whigs, anti-Catholic Know Nothings, radical abolitionists, free-soilers, Transcendentalists and tariff protectionists who valued their own interests above all. As stated in the second paragraph below he knew that his political support from this rainbow of varied interests and controlled by Radicals, would fall apart should any compromise to save the Union be embraced. He placed his party above his country.

His predecessor James Buchanan was not a supporter of secession but aware that a president waging war against a State was committing treason – Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution. His attorney-general confirmed this. A president could not raise an army – only Congress could do this – Lincoln circumvented the Constitution with Republican governors sending him their own State troops until Congress met in July. By that time congressmen were aware that they faced arbitrary arrest for “treason” should they oppose Lincoln’s actions.

The Choice Between War and Peace

 “Lincoln’s cabinet was almost equally divided between Conservatives and Radicals. The Radicals favored an immediate attempt to resupply Fort Sumter even should this precipitate war. These men thought the new Confederacy would crumble upon the first show of force, because a small junta had caused all the trouble, and the Southern people would have no heart in a conspirators’ war.

The Conservatives believed that given peace and adequate time, the Union could be reconstituted. Would it not be better to withdraw the small garrisons from forts to so as to prevent immediate hostilities and secure the Border States to the Union? Seward knew there were no military reasons for keeping Sumter and had no doubt that it would soon be evacuated. On March 7, Lincoln told a caller that if Sumter were abandoned, he would have to leave the White House the same day.

On March 12 1861 Stephen Douglas began a debate designed to force the Radical Republicans either the accept or attack Lincoln’s peace policy as stated in his inauguration speech.

He reviewed at length the legal status of federal authority in the South. As the laws stood, the Executive could not use the army and the navy to enforce the law in the Southern States. What would be involved in the use of force? He had secured estimates from competent military authorities as to the troop requirements in the event of war. At least 285,000 men would be needed to compel submission and it would cost at least $316,000,000 to keep them in the field for a year. How could eighteen States ever pay the cost of subjugating fifteen?

The Republicans sat silent as he talked, smiling contemptuously. When he finished, Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, attacked him as the country’s outstanding alarmist. Douglas lost his temper and taunted the Republican Radicals with desiring the Union dissolved. The Republicans were unyielding, the few Northern Democrats were impotent but the galleries applauded wildly.”

(The Eve of Conflict: Stephen A. Douglas and the Needless War, George Fort Milton, Houghton, Mifflin Company, 1934, pp. 548-551)

War for a Certain Interpretation

“We talk of peace and learning,” said Ruskin once in addressing the cadets of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, “and of peace and plenty, and of peace and civilization, but I found that those were not the words which the muse of history coupled together, that on her lips the words were peace and corruption, peace and death.” Hence this man of peace glorified war after no doubt a very cursory examination of the muse of history.”

 War for a Certain Interpretation

“The surrender of the armies of Lee and Johnston brought the struggle to an end. The South was crushed . . . “the ground of Virginia had been kneaded with human flesh; its monuments of carnage, its spectacles of desolation, it’s altars of sacrifice stood from the wheat fields of Pennsylvania to the vales of New Mexico.” More than a billion dollars of property in the South had been literally destroyed by the conflict.

The palpable tragedy of violent death had befallen the family circles of the South’s patriotic not merely twice as frequently as in times of peace, or three times as frequently, or even ten times, but a hundred times as frequently. Within the space of four years was crowded the sorrow of a century. Mourning for more than 250,000 dead on battlefield or on the sea or in military hospitals was the ghastly heritage of the war for the South’s faithful who survived. The majority of the dead were mere boys.

Many strong men wept like children when they turned forever from the struggle. As in rags they journeyed homeward toward their veiled and stricken women they passed wearily among the flowers and the tender grasses of the spring. The panoply of nature spread serenely over the shallow trenches where lay the bones of unnumbered dead – sons, fathers, brothers and one-time enemies of the living who passed.

War is at best a barbarous business. Among civilized men wars are waged avowedly to obtain a better and more honorable peace. How often the avowed objects are the true objects is open to question. Avowedly the American Civil War was waged that a certain interpretation of the federal Constitution might triumph.

To bring about such a triumph of interpretation atrocities were committed in the name of right, invading armies ravaged the land, the slave was encouraged to rise against his master, and he was declared to be free.

“The end of the State is therefore peace,” concluded Plato in his Laws – “the peace of harmony.” The gentle and reasonable man of today has not progressed much beyond this concept. “War is eternal,” wrote Plato “in man and the State.”

The American Civil war strangled the Confederacy and gave rebirth to the United States. It brought forth a whole brood of devils and also revealed many a worthy hero to both sections. Seen through the twilight of the receding past a war is apt to take on a character different from the grisly truth.”

(The Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida, William Watson Davis, Columbia, 1913, pp. 319-322)

Oct 12, 2021 - Costs of War, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Heroism    Comments Off on Wilmington Wrapped in Gloom

Wilmington Wrapped in Gloom

The following is excerpted from “One Good Man, Reverend John Lamb Pritchard’s Life of Faith, Service and Sacrifice,” originally written by Rev. J.D. Hufham in 1867, and edited in 2007 by Jack Fryar, Dram Tree Books. Rev. Hufham directed the proceeds of his book to Mrs. Pritchard for the education of their six children.

Rev. Pritchard, born in Pasquotank County, North Carolina in 1811, became pastor of First Baptist Church in Wilmington in early 1856. There he remained with his flock until his death from yellow fever.

Wilmington Wrapped in Gloom

“In July 1862, the dashing little Kate, formerly a Confederate packet-boat, steamed boldly through the Northern fleet blockading the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and brought to the wharves of Wilmington a valuable cargo from Nassau. She rapidly unloaded, as rapidly re-loaded with cotton, and departed on her second voyage. But she left behind her that which brought to Wilmington many a sad day, and before which even the horrors and excitement of a great war were forgotten. She left behind the seeds of the dreadful scourge, the yellow fever.”

By mid-September it was conceded that yellow fever was indeed here, and by mid-October there were some 431 cases in town and a total of 102 deaths. These grew until nearly 500 had died of the fever, plus the death of 150 black residents was reported.  Wilmington clergymen who perished were Rev. John L. Pritchard and Rev. Dr. Robert Drane, plus Dr. James Dickson who was one of the North Carolina’s most eminent surgeons and President of the NC Medical Society. Dr. T.C. Worth, brother of the Governor, and James S. Green, Treasurer of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad both succumbed to the fever. Before his death, Rev. Pritchard wrote often to his wife in Richmond, who had departed with the children to visit relatives a few months earlier.

Sept. 22, 1862: “Dear Wife: I do not think there is any visible abatement in the disease. There have been so many deaths, but don’t be alarmed as we are just as near to God here, as anywhere out of Heaven. Let us humble ourselves and pray to God for his protection. I feel calm and resigned and pray that God will bless you all.” 

The streets had become deserted after residents not-stricken abandoned town, and harbor traffic came to a standstill as word spread on the high seas and adjacent ports. The black smoke of tar barrels filled the air with soot, somehow thought to clear the air of the contagion.

In answer to appeals for provisions and medicines – home remedies from long ago had to suffice due to the North’s blockade of medical supplies – towns up the Wilmington & Weldon tracks and beyond sent much-needed supplies. A local charitable association was formed by Mayor John Dawson to assist the families of those afflicted.

September 29th, 1862 : “Dear Wife: It is no longer the Wilmington you left. But the Lord is still with us and still will be. I have heard of several deaths this morning, several others expected to die. You cannot conceive of the desolation of our town. We find that many who have left have died. It is thought that it is safer to remain than to leave. I cannot reconcile it to myself to leave the many who must suffer, if someone does not attend them, and I try to be much in prayer. Let no one think me reckless of life, or regardless of my wife and children. No indeed, I yield to no one in my love of life or of my family. But must a minister fly from disease and danger and leave poor people to suffer for want of attention? How can he more appropriately die, than when facing disease and death for Christ’s sake?

Rev. Pritchard’s last letter to his wife was begun on October 14, 1862:

Dear Wife: Heard that Dr. Drane died . . . such a night my poor sister had: perfect prostration and utter weakness. I sat up some time . . . and listened to her plaintive moan. Well, my dear wife, do you ask me, how I feel in view of never meeting my loved ones again on earth? I cannot tell you. I must not conceal from you the true state of the case by which we are surrounded. I am sick now. My poor back and head ache, the true symptoms of fever. This is my bodily condition. I have no other trust but the precious Redeemer and He is precious to me. Though it may be feverish excitability, I am not afraid to commit you and my dear six children to Him.”

The hand of the destroyer was upon him as he wrote. After lingering nearly a month, though the fever’s grip on Wilmington was abating, Rev. Pritchard passed away on November 13th, 1862.

Sep 30, 2021 - Aftermath: Destruction, America Transformed, Carnage, Costs of War, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on A Surgeon in a Unionist Prison

A Surgeon in a Unionist Prison

A Surgeon in a Unionist Prison

Dr. Joseph C. Shepard, born on Topsail Island, North Carolina, became Post Surgeon at Fort Fisher in 1864, and oversaw an earthen hospital beneath the Pulpit Battery of the massive fortress. During the second battle in mid-January 1865 against a massive Northern fleet with more cannon on its flagship than the entire fort contained, he dressed the leg wounds of Cape Fear District Gen. W.H.C. Whiting, and a short time later the left chest wound of fort commander Col. William Lamb.

After Gen. Whiting arrived at the fort before the second attack, he told Col. Lamb that he had come to share his fate as Gen. Braxton Bragg had “sacrificed’ the fort and its garrison.  No reinforcements would be forthcoming.

Dr. Shepard was imprisoned at Governors Island at New York for six weeks, then exchanged and sent to Greensboro, North Carolina. There he cared for the wounded at a Presbyterian church converted to a hospital, and rejoined his family at Scott’s Hill, north of Wilmington, after Gen. Johnston’s surrender at Durham.

He wrote the following from his Governors Island cell:

“I suppose it was inevitable – the War, that is. Our customs were different from those of the North. But who is to say which way was right, which way was wrong. All I know is that as I sit here in this Unionist prison on Governor’s Island, I wonder if I will ever see my family again.

Confined to these prison walls, I have nothing to do but think.  I cannot bear to think of the past several years and the ugliness of the War, so my mind drifts back to the year 1855. I had just graduated from the University of North Carolina and was preparing to study medicine in New York.  Life was so simple then.

A smile embraces my lips when I think back to May 8th, 1861, my wedding day, and envision my beautiful bride Mrs. Henrietta Foy Shepard. Although a happy day for us both, my wife was in mourning over the death of her father, Joseph Mumford Foy of Poplar Grove Plantation, who died just one month earlier. A great man he was, Mr. Foy. His death was a great loss to us all.

I had great reservations about leaving my wife so soon after our wedding, but my burning desire to further my education in medicine took me to Paris, France. Shortly thereafter, war erupted between the States back home and my loyalty to the South compelled me to return and offer my services.

Although I had originally enlisted for twelve months, an act of Confederate Congress dated April 16, 1862, extended my period of enlistment to three years or the duration of the war. Isn’t it interesting that the war came to an end exactly three months before the end of the extended enlistment period.

Oh, this cell is so cold and damp. How I wish I were with Henrietta and my daughter, Gertrude, basking in the heat of a warm, glowing fire. God willing, that day will come.

War is hell. And the ravages seem hardly reparable. But it is over. God only knows what’s in store for us now. Time will tell. I have once again read the surrender of General Lee to Lt. General Grant. We lost – but at least it’s over.

I’ve heard rumor that the failure of General Braxton Bragg to send in replacement troops was responsible for the fall of Fort Fisher. I don’t know if there is truth to this, but still, it’s over. Praise be to God Almighty with a prayer that our families will never have to endure this living hell again.”

(Reflections of Dr. Joseph Christopher Shepard, Surgeon, CSA, Governors Island Prison, Winter 1865)

 

Aug 7, 2021 - Carnage, Costs of War, Future Wars of the Empire    Comments Off on Machine Guns and Poor Tactics

Machine Guns and Poor Tactics

The British eventually subjugated the Boers in the same manner as the Northern States under Lincoln subjugated the American South, with overwhelming military and economic might, but not superior fighting ability or leadership. Within twenty years of their victory over the Boers, the British were again fighting in a desperate war which cost a total of 40 million lives. Of that number, nearly 900,000 British and colonial troops died in trench warfare, hopeless infantry charges against machine guns and terrifying artillery barrages. With American assistance, the British and French were victorious, imposed a punitive defeat upon Germany, and set the stage for a nationalist leader to seek revenge for his defeated country.

Machine Guns and Poor Tactics

“Almost a year after the successful conclusion of the Sudan campaign, the British Army found itself at war again in Africa, right at the other end of the continent, and this time the enemy was not natives armed with spears and a grasp of tactics which was straight out of the Dark Ages, but Europeans with Mauser repeating rifles and Maxims of their own, who proved themselves to be masters of mobile warfare.

This is considered the first time machine-gun-armed armies had faced each other . . . and it was, as Rudyard Kipling was to comment presciently in The Captive, published in 1903, ‘A dress parade for Armageddon.’

The Boers 37mm ‘pom-pom’ Maxims proved to be particularly effective against British field artillery detachments, often reducing them completely before they could get into action.

British infantry sent into the set-piece battles such as Magersfontein, Colenso and Paderberg with no better tactics (though considerably better discipline) than the Khalifa’s Dervishes had employed against them in the Sudan; they advanced over open ground with fixed bayonets, and were cut down in swathes by the machine guns of defenders they couldn’t even see.

The tactics of close-quarter battle which General James Woolf had devised after Culloden in 1746 and used so successfully against the French in Canada, and which successive British generals had adopted throughout the nineteenth century, were finally beaten, though few in London – or, indeed, in any of the other capital cities of the world – would yet acknowledge the fact, and it was to take further decade and the bloodiest, most costly war the world had ever seen to drive the message firmly home.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is incredible that the British Army, which had been instrumental in obtaining proof that the machine gun was absolutely lethal when deployed in defensive positions, had not itself learned the lessons it had taught so widely and so effectively, but that was true not only in 1899, but also in 1914.”

(The World’s Great Machine Guns: 1860 to the Present, Roger Ford, Barnes & Noble Books, 1999, pp. 32-33)

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