Browsing "Myth of Saving the Union"

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 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)

Unable to Settle the Great Differences

“The South in 1860 knew only that the party which was hotly intolerant of the whole body of Southern institutions and interests had triumphed in the elections and was about to take possession of the government, and that it was morally impossible to preserve the Union any longer.

“If you who represent the stronger portion,” Senator John C. Calhoun stated in 1850, in words which perfectly convey this feeling in their quiet cadences, cannot agree to settle the great questions at issue on the broad principle of justice and duty, say so; and let the States we both represent agree to separate and depart in peace.”  (Division and Reunion, 1829-1909. Woodrow Wilson. Longmans, Green and Co., 1912; pp. 209-210)

Black Recruits Unwelcome in Philadelphia

The North’s use of generous bounties for paid volunteers and resorting to the of black slaves as troops was an unmistakable admission that popular support for the war against the American South was nearly extinct by 1863.  Once Lincoln allowed dislocated and captured slaves to be counted against States troop quotas, Northern State agents swarmed into the occupied South in search of (and arguing over) black recruits who would leave white Northern men safe from Lincoln’s threat of conscription.

It is ironic that a Pennsylvania training camp for black recruits was named “Camp William Penn,” a slaveholder who founded the colony which bears his name.

Black Recruits Unwelcome in Philadelphia

“In spite of announcements assuring blacks of pay equal to that of the white soldier, actual practice belied this promise. White enlisted men received thirteen dollars a month with a clothing allowance of an additional three dollars and fifty cents. Black soldiers, however, were paid only ten dollars per month, three dollars of which might be deducted for clothing.

Blacks were also generally denied bounties. Bounties were cash bonuses paid to volunteers by federal, State, or local authorities as an incentive to enlist. These bounties often totaled more than five hundred dollars or more, a generous amount exceeding the average annual wages for a Northern worker.  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania eventually contributed a token bounty of ten dollars to each black recruit.

The War Department had also refused to commission black officers. A manyfold rationale stood behind this decision. First, the concept of black troops would be more acceptable [in the North] if white men exclusively were permitted to become officers in such units. Organizing “colored” regiments would create thousands of new positions for regimental officers. The awarding of these commissions to whites could create more support for the program and could reward those who had already shown support.

The [black recruits] of Camp William Penn constantly experienced another reminder of their inferior status through the discriminatory policy of the streetcars of Philadelphia. Of the nineteen streetcar and suburban railroad companies that operated in and around Philadelphia, eleven outright refused to permit blacks to ride.  The other eight tolerated black riders but required them to stand on the front platform with the driver.”

The “Grand Review” and battalion drills had all been executed in the friendly confines of the training camp itself. Colonel Wagner and the other [white] commanders recognized the risks they would face when their units left their camp. Earlier in the year, on September 18, the 3rd Regiment of US Colored Infantry marched through Philadelphia on its way to war. At that time the mayor and concerned officials compelled them to march unarmed and in civilian clothes.

[An] underlying tension still simmered because of the many residents who harbored deep prejudices.  This threatening situation had caused the mayor to delay an earlier planned parade of the 3rd US Colored Troops even after it had been publicly advertised.  During the 6th’s [US Colored Regiment] parade the fear of violence prompted marching officers to carry loaded revolvers to be used in an emergency. The enlisted [black] men, carrying musket and bayonet, “were not trusted with any ammunition.”

(Strike the Blow for Freedom, The 6th US Colored Infantry in the Civil War, James M. Paradis, White Mane Books, 1998, pp. 17-29)

Hatred and the Thirst for Vengeance

In truth, those States who remained in the 1789 Constitution under Lincoln’s presidency continued as “the Union” – while several Southern States decided to form a more perfect Union known as a Confederacy. In this manner Lincoln’s Union was saved – so why did he wage war against the States which is the very definition of treason?

In addition, the invading Northern army was not truly reflective of Northern society as rising casualty lists, coffins and those maimed for life returned home early in the war and enlistments dwindled. By mid-1862 volunteers no longer came forward and Lincoln had to resort to foreigners, conscription and generous bounties for outright mercenaries.

An alleged restoration the Union evaporated quickly as the invading armies descended into indiscriminate destruction, looting and property confiscation – and the erection of puppet governments in conquered areas.

Hatred and the Thirst for Vengeance

“[I]n reality Sherman was remarkably free of malice toward the Southern people. He urged a warfare of terror not out of vindictiveness, but simply to win the war as quickly as possible [and without regard for the human cost].

And many other Northerners were drawn to the hard policy by their deepening hatred of Southerners. The death of tens – eventually hundreds – of thousands of Northern men inevitably stirred cries for revenge. Simple victory and the restoration of the Union would no longer suffice; there must be retribution. It now seemed clear that the Southern people as a whole were not misled and innocent of treason, but willful and guilty.

Northerners concluded that Southern society as it existed was simply incompatible with American nationhood. Even if vanquished in war, the South would remain a menace to the Union unless its very society was fundamentally reformed. All the previous elements that represented this society had to be swept away so that the South could be reconstructed in the image of the North. Only then could America fulfill its sacred destiny.

The Northern invaders now had a very different mission: not to conciliate, but to conquer and avenge; not to protect but to seize and destroy; not to restore but to prepare the way for a new South, and a new nation.”

(When the Yankees Came: Conflict and Chaos in the Occupied South. Stephen V. Ashe. UNC Press, 1995, pg. 52-53)

Oct 17, 2022 - America Transformed, Lincoln's Grand Army, Lincoln's Re-election, Myth of Saving the Union, Northern Culture Laid Bare    Comments Off on A Regiment of Immigrants and Americans

A Regiment of Immigrants and Americans

The 7th US Infantry Regiment is a unit with a long history dating back to the War of 1812, and perhaps 1798. It fought at Tippecanoe and Fort Harrison, as well as New Orleans under Jackson. It saw action through the Seminole Wars in Florida and then Mexico, where it attained a reputation as fine assault troops. After 1848 the regiment found itself on relatively peaceful frontier duty in Oklahoma.

A Regiment of Immigrants and Americans

As an example of regular army soldiers on the eve of the Civil War, the men of the 7th US Regiment lived for a long time on the frontiers, at the margins of American society. One could describe them as outsiders – rootless, transient and forgotten men with little education carrying out a lousy job that no one else wanted. Their backgrounds were what most “respectable” Americans would consider as beneath contempt with most unable to read or write.

Most Americans at the time still viewed professional soldiers with suspicion, believing them incapable of holding an honest job who left a normal life to live off the government. By 1860, the regular army’s ranks were completely dominated by foreigners, with three-quarters of those enlisting between 1849 and 1860 being impoverished Irish and German immigrants. After Lincoln’s call for troops in April 1861 these immigrants who had no patriotic ties to the South for the most part remained in blue uniforms.

But many regular army soldiers deserted at the first opportunity to assume new identities and join state volunteer regiments. They were after the substantial federal, state and local enlistment bonuses, pensions, and sometimes land. Regular army officers too sought commissions in state “volunteer” regiments for higher rank and greater prestige.

At the battle of Chancellorsville in 1863, the 7th Infantry was besieged by a strong Southern force and its color-bearer shot down with the regimental flag. Immediately Corporal Stephen Neil grabbed the flag standard and proudly waved it, earning him the Congressional Medal of Honor. No disrespect for Neil’s bravery, but standards for the awarding of this supreme honor were much lower in the nineteenth century. This is probably explained by the great need for veteran reenlistments as the initial three-year terms began expiring in mid-1863, and Lincoln offered attractive bounties and medals to units remaining in blue.

The 7th Infantry participated at the Gettysburg standoff and remained in trenches as Lee’s still-formidable force marched away. The regiment was then sent to New York City in mid-August 1863 to join other blue units forestalling further riots against Lincoln’s draft in the heavily Democratic state.

October 1864 found the regiment still in New York City as a bulwark against more anti-Lincoln rioting though they were needed by Grant in his siege of Petersburg. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, intensely worried about the potentially explosive situation in New York in the days leading up to the presidential election of 1864, persuaded Grant to leave the 7th Regiment in New York to patrol voting polls and discourage anyone from voting Democratic.  After the war assistant secretary of war Charles A. Dana admitted that the entire force of the War Department was used to facilitate Lincoln’s reelection.

Desertion plagued units like the 7th near major metropolitan areas like New York as men could simply disappear from camp at night, don civilian clothes, melt into the population and move on to points unknown with another name.

Postwar the 7th ended up on the Indian frontier with its composition changing little – half of its men were emigrants from England, Germany and Ireland. The foreign born joined for the usual reasons of limited economic and social opportunities, and the native-born were usually farm boys and small-town kids seeking adventure and excitement in the over-publicized West. Its officers were nearly all Civil War veterans with a few green, West Point second lieutenants sprinkled in.

(American Courage, American Carnage: 7th Infantry Chronicles. John C. McManus, Tom Doherty Associates, 2009, pp. 121-123; 150-171)

 

From Independence to Independence

(The following is drawn from David Hackett Fischer’s excellent “British Folkways in America.”)

The American Revolution was not a singular struggle but a series of four separate Wars of Independence waged in very different ways by the major cultures of British America.

The first (1775-1776) was a massive popular insurrection in New England. An army of British regulars was defeated by a Yankee militia much like the Puritan bands from which they were descended and urged on by their Calvinist clergy. This war, as stated by John and Samuel Adams was not fought to secure any rights of man in any universal sense, but against what was called “the contagion of venality and dissipation” which was spreading from London to America. New Englanders felt that they had always managed their own affairs and when England tried to stop them – especially their smuggling of goods and slave trade without the Crown’s percentage paid – the war came.

The second war for independence (1776-1781) was more protracted and fought mainly in the middle colonies and coastal south. It was a gentleman’s war of British regulars and professional mercenaries commanded by English gentry, against an increasingly professional American army led by a member of the Virginia gentry. They were fighting for what Jefferson called “the ancient liberties of his Saxon ancestors.”

The third war of independence reached its climax in the years 1779-1781. It was a rising of British borderers in the southern backcountry against American Loyalists and British regulars who invaded the region. The result was a savage struggle which resembled many earlier conflicts in North Britain with much family feuding and terrible atrocities committed on both sides. Prisoners were slaughtered, homes were burned, women were raped, and even small children were put to the sword.

The fourth war of independence continued in the years from 1781 to 1783, a non-violent economic and diplomatic struggle, in which the elites of the Delaware Valley played a leading part. The economic war against England was led by Robert Morris of Philadelphia; the genius of American diplomacy was Benjamin Franklin.

The end of the war resulted in the creation of three “regional republics” of British America – voting blocs of “eastern” colonies of New Englanders; a Southern bloc centered in tidewater Virginia; and a midland bloc of mainly Delaware Valley delegations. The Constitution of 1787 was an attempt to write the rules of engagement among these three regional republics – an agreement which began dissolving in Andrew Jackson’s first term. The nullification issue of 1832 tested the strength of a State’s true sovereignty.

By 1850 the Southern bloc had enough and began reconsidering the value of its political alliance with the others. In 1854 the new Republican party arose from the ashes of the Whig party and absorbed anti-Catholic Know Nothings, Transcendentalists and radical abolitionists. In 1860, this strictly sectional party fielded its second presidential candidate and won a plurality victory in November 1860. Within a month this party would drive South Carolina to independence; other States would soon follow.

In an act of desperation and fearful of his party losing its recently-gained power, this first Republican president violated Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution he was sworn to defend – “Treason against the United States shall consist only of levying War against them; or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” “Them” is the States, individually or collectively.

(Primary Source: Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. David Hackett Fischer, Oxford University Press, 1989, pp. 827-828)

 

The Twenty Thousand Bayonets of a Free Government

Ohio-native and Alabama soldier Edmund Patterson found himself captured at Gettysburg on the second day of battle. His captors were of the “German Corps”, the unit Stonewall Jackson overran and scattered earlier at Chancellorsville; he was sent to Johnson’s Island prison in Ohio. Patterson relates below how the prison heard news of the New York City draft riots, quelled by Northern troops sent from Gettysburg.

The Twenty Thousand Bayonets of a Free Government

Diary entry August 18th, 1863:

“Years must pass before this war will be settled and thousands upon thousands of noble forms must lie cold in death, and I may be among that number. I wish to live to see the Confederate States and Independent Nation, loved at home and respected abroad, and at peace with all the world.

I believe that this war will be the downfall of slavery, or that it will not exist at all in the Southern States as it once did exist. What effect this will have on the future wealth and greatness of our country, I am unable to say.

Present appearances indicate that a large portion of our country will be overrun by the invaders and will become a desert waste. Wherever the foot of the Yankee hireling presses the sacred soil of the South, it carries with it the torch as well as the sword. Not confining themselves to making war on armed men, as our noble army does, they satisfy their insatiable thirst for plunder and revenge by burning dwellings, by turning defenseless and helpless women and children out of their homes and burning their only shelter before their eyes.

Many have thus been left penniless and homeless, dependent on the charities of the world, but it will be remembered to the honor and glory of the Southern people that they, during this terrible struggle, have always been ready to open their heart and their homes to these poor homeless wanderers.”

Diary entry, August 21st, 1863:

“We [prisoners] are told that the draft is going on very peaceably in N.Y. City; strange, “passing strange,” what a pacifying influence twenty thousand bayonets together with artillery and cavalry in proportion will have in executing the laws of a “free government.” Is it not strange that this number should be required in New York City, when two and a half millions of men cannot enforce the laws of Abraham in the South?”

(Yankee Rebel: Civil War Journal of Edmund DeWitt Patterson. J.G. Barrett, editor, UNC Press, 1966, pp. 130-131)

 

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)

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