Browsing "Race and the South"
Oct 18, 2022 - Race and the South, Southern Patriots, Uncategorized    Comments Off on Louis Leon of Mecklenburg, Confederate Sharpshooter

Louis Leon of Mecklenburg, Confederate Sharpshooter

A German immigrant of the Jewish faith, Private Louis Leon was not unusual as a Confederate soldier from North Carolina. Many German Jews settled in Wilmington during the 1840s and 1850s, with many owning black slaves as was common then. In 1860, the Kahnweiler and Brothers store of Wilmington held five slaves; Charlotte dry goods merchants David Elias, Levi Drucker and Seigfried Frankenthal held slaves as well. In Atlanta, four of the six Jewish families in 1850 owned slaves – by 1860 this increased substantially plus David Mayer and Solomon Cohen were both slave dealers.

Captain Christian Cornehlson organized the German Volunteers in Wilmington in 1861, which became Company A of the Eighteenth North Carolina Regiment.  Of the 102 men in Company A, every officer and every enlisted man but 30 had been born in Germany. Residents Jacob Blumenthal and Henry Wertheimer died during the War; Solomon Bear was sent to Europe to arrange for goods and munitions to run the blockade into Wilmington. Simon Kahnweiler was also sent to Europe as a Confederate purchasing agent.

Returning to Wilmington postwar, German Volunteers M.M. Katz, Gustav Rosenthal, David Eigenbrunner and Jacob Weil all helped organize the Temple of Israel. (Bauman, 2010)

Louis Leon of Mecklenburg, Confederate Sharpshooter

“Louis Leon, a well-known resident of Wilmington and a veteran of Confederate States service, was born in Mecklenburg, Germany, November 27, 1841.  Three years later he was brought by his parents to New York City, whence he moved to Charlotte in 1858, and engaged in mercantile pursuits as a clerk.  Becoming a member of the Charlotte Grays, he entered the active service of that command, going to the camp of instruction at Raleigh on April 21, 1861.

The Gray’s were assigned to Col. D.H. Hill’s regiment, the First, as Company C, and took part in the Battle of Big Bethel, in which Private Leon was a participant.  At the expiration of the six months’ enlistment of the Bethel Regiment, he reenlisted in Company B [of] Capt. Harvey White, of the Fifty-first Regiment, commanded by Col. William Owen.

He shared the service of this regiment in its subsequent honorable career, fighting at Gettysburg, Bristow Station, Mine run, and the Wilderness, receiving a slight wound at Gettysburg but not allowing it to interfere with his duty. During the larger part of his service, he served as a sharpshooter.

On the 5th or 6th of May 1864, the sharpshooters of his regiment were much annoyed by one of the Federal sharpshooters who had a long-range rifle and who had climbed up a tall tree, from which he could pick off the men, though sheltered by stumps and stones, himself out of range of their guns.

Private Leon concluded that “this thing had to be stopped,” and taking advantage of every knoll, hollow and stump, he crawled near enough for his rifle to reach, and took a “pop” at this disturber of the peace, who came tumbling down.  Upon running up to his victim, Leon discovered him to be a Canadian Indian, and clutching his scalp lock, he dragged him back to the Confederate line.

At the Wilderness battle Leon was captured and from that time until June 1865 was a prisoner of war at Point Lookout and Elmira, N.Y.  Upon being paroled he visited his parents in New York City, and then worked his way back to North Carolina.

He is warmly regarded by his comrades of Cape Fear Camp, United Confederate Veterans, and has served several terms as its adjutant. When Col. James T. Morehead prepared a sketch of his regiment, the Fifty-third, Private Leon furnished him with a copy of a diary which he had kept from the organization of the regiment up to the 5th of May 1864, when he was captured.

(Chronicles of the Cape Fear River, James Sprunt, Edwards & Broughton, 1916, pp. 334-335; Jews at the Cape Fear Coast, Anton Hieke. Southern Jewish History, Mark Baumann, editor, Volume 13, 2010)

Oct 17, 2022 - Indians and the West, Race and the South, Southern Culture Laid Bare    Comments Off on Florida Indians and Bushwhackers

Florida Indians and Bushwhackers

The Seminole tribe of Indians is said to have originated in the 1750’s as a clan of Georgia Creeks separated from the main tribe and moved southward. They indeed held slaves as documented by Minnie Moore Wilson (Seminoles of Florida, 1910) who wrote of a Seminole chief told a traveling white abolitionist that though the white man’s slave was free, “the Injun esta lusta (negro) belong to Injun – now you go.”

Florida Indians and Bushwhackers

“Many plantation owners in Georgia and South Carolina lost slaves who escaped to the wilds of Florida and the frequent cross-border Seminole raids on plantations often killed entire families and carried off more slaves. This would eventually push the American government toward military solutions and the annexation of Florida.

The Seminole tribe initially acquired black slaves as gifts from the British after 1763 or were purchased by them in imitation of Europeans and held in “a type of democratic vassalage” to the tribe. Though not considered the equals of the Seminole and living in separate settlements, black runaways were trained to hunt, fish and fight against white settlers who lived on Seminole land.  After the tribe’s defeat in 1839, many of these “black Seminoles” accompanied the tribe to resettlement in the West. Interestingly, the name “Seminole” itself translates to “seceder” or “runaway” from the Creek nation, which occurred in 1750 under Chief Secoffee.

Only twenty-two years later the resettled Seminoles fought bravely against Northern soldiers in three Seminole Mounted Volunteer regiments of the Trans-Mississippi Department, led by Major John Jumper, whose Seminole name was “Hemha Micco.” Seminoles also fought alongside the victorious Florida and Georgia forces at the Ocean Pond (Olustee) battle on February 20, 1864.

One Northern soldier wrote a New York friend just after the engagement:

“The most desperate enemy that we have to contend with here is the Florida Indians in roving bands of bushwhackers [who] occasionally steal upon our picket lines under cover of night . . . Many Redskins are sharpshooters. During the recent battle, they took themselves to the tree-tops and picked off many of the officers of the Colored Troops.”

(Key West’s Civil War: Rather Unsafe for a Southern Man to Live Here.” John Bernhard Thuersam, Shotwell Publishing, 2022, pg. 143)

May 19, 2022 - Race and the South, Southern Heroism    Comments Off on Confederate Cherokees

Confederate Cherokees

Thomas’ Legion of Eastern Cherokee Indians was formed in 1861 by Chief William Holland Thomas. In a letter of September 19, 1861, President Jefferson Davis notified Thomas that he believed the use of a Cherokee battalion could be used advantageously to defend the coast and swamps of North Carolina against enemy invasion. The following relates the intense nature of these brave Southern defenders:

“In September the Sixty-ninth Regiment (Thomas’ Legion) was ordered to Powell Valley. This regiment was raised in the mountains of North Carolina and had in it two companies of Cherokee Indians. On this march and during an ambush at Baptist Gap, one of the Indian companies became engaged in a sharp little battle with the federals. Lieutenant Astooga Stoga, who is described by Major Stringfield of that regiment “as a splendid specimen of Indian manhood,” led a counterattack and was killed.

“The Indians,” says Major Stringfield,” were furious at his death and before they could be restrained, scalped several of the federal wounded and dead, for which ample apology was made and the scalps returned to their owners.”

(Confederate Military History, North Carolina, Volume V, Gen. Clement Evans, Confederate Publishing Company, 1899, pp. 147-148)

An Aristocracy of Color

Antebellum North Carolina was home to an aristocracy of industrious free-black merchants, craftsmen and farmers, such as barber John Caruthers, “Barber Jack” Stanly of New Bern.  Stanly invested his profits into plantations and town property, making him one of Craven County’s most prosperous citizens with over $40,000 in personal wealth. Free-black brick mason Donom Mumford of the same community owned ten slaves.  Also, Virginia-born, free-black Thomas Day of Milton, North Carolina, owned fourteen slaves and was an acclaimed master cabinetmaker in the 1850’s with an extensive clientele.  See: The Free Negro in North Carolina, John Hope Franklin, UNC Press, 1943.

An Aristocracy of Color

“The diary which William Tiler Johnson kept from 1835 to his death in 1851 reveals the remarkable life of this exceptional free Negro in a Southern community.

In the 1830s William made profits of $15 to $20 a day from his barber shop and eventually accumulated an estate worth $25,000. He invested capital in two stores which he rented out, made loans to white residents and owned a farm, which he named “Hardscrabble.”

To work his farm William owned fifteen slaves and employed a white overseer to direct their daily work. A gun owner, he hunted regularly, enjoyed the theater where he sat in the colored gallery among friends, attended horse races, and subscribed to five or six newspapers. He took a keen interest in city affairs, politics, criminal court, militia musters as well as fireman’s parades.

Maintaining terms of friendship with several of his barber patrons, William respected the community standards of the day against dining or drinking with white people. He belonged to the aristocracy of the free people of color, avoiding “darky dances and parties.”

(The Growth of Southern Civilization: 1790-1860, Clement Eaton, Harper & Row, 1961, pg. 92-93)

The South Delivered Up to the Care of the North

When the Articles of Confederation were put to the States for ratification in November, 1776, the preparatory debates revealed very strong warnings of sectionalism. These clear and distinct divisions eventually produced threats of New England secession in 1814, economic fissures by the 1820s, talk of Southern secession by 1850, and eventually an all-out shooting-war in 1861 which ended the experiment in free government.

The South Delivered Up to the Care of the North

“The Congress debated the Articles throughout the summer of 1776. There were three main arguments. One was on whether each colony should have a single vote, and issue of large versus small States. The second was States’ rights, whether the confederation had authority to limit territorial expansion of individual States. Third was the method of apportioning taxation. The North wanted to tax according to total population. The South was opposed to taxing slaves.

The latter issue began one of the enduring sectional debates of the first American century. Were slaves part of the general population? Or were they property? The South held for property and Rutledge of South Carolina said that if ownership of slaves was to be taxed, then so should the ownership of the Northern ships that carried the slaves.

There were several strictly sectional votes on the subject with the bloc of seven Northern States lined up against the six-State Southern bloc. It was finally compromised that taxes would be apportioned according to the private ownership of land and the improvements thereon.

In November 1776 the Articles were sent to the States for ratification. The hottest opposition came from the Southern States (with the exception of Virginia) . . . The reaction of William Henry Drayton, chief justice of South Carolina, was typical of the eighteenth-century South. Drayton felt the Articles gave too much power to the central government and States’ rights would be run over roughshod. He observed that there was a natural North-South division among the States, arising “from the nature of the climate, soil and produce.”

He felt the South’s opportunities for growth would be crippled by the Articles because “the honor, interest and sovereignty of the South, are in effect delivered up to the care of the North.”

(The Natural Superiority of Southern Politicians, David Leon Chandler, Doubleday and Company, 1977, pg. 74)

Escorting President Davis

Thomas Goode Jones (1844-1914), was a boy of fifteen when he enrolled in Virginia Military Institute in 1860, and served under then-Major Thomas J. Jackson as drillmaster of troops in Richmond. Jones was wounded in battle, complimented for bravery, and with the rank of Major, led his men in the last charge at Appomattox. On April 9, 1865, he physically carried the flag of truce on his sword to enemy lines for General Lee. Major Jones’ ancestors were of Welsh extraction, the most famous being Pocahontas and John Jones of the Virginia Militia during the first War of Independence. He was elected Governor of Alabama in 1890.

Escorting Jefferson Davis

“As a conservative, Thomas Goode Jones seems to have accepted institutions as they existed. Growing up in a slave-holding family amid a slave-holding society, he never seems to have questioned the institution of slavery while he was growing up or while he served the Confederacy. And yet . . . his family treated their slaves well.

While Jones was serving as reporter for the Alabama Supreme Court at the time when it was dominated by Reconstruction Republicans, the Justices agreed to march in a 4th of July procession of “carpetbaggers” and blacks, and Jones agreed to ride with them. Twenty years later, this was used against him in his race for Governor.

[At] the 1901 [Alabama Constitutional] Convention, the issue of race relations arose several times, and on each occasion [Governor] Jones emerged as the spokesman for moderation. [He argued for the militia to be comprised of both white and black men, stating] “I remember well, Mr. President, in the dark days, when the sun of the Confederacy was setting around us . . . that the Confederate Congress, under the inspiration of Robert E. Lee, passed an act authorizing the employment of Negroes in the Confederate army.”

[Jones continues] “Mr. President, on one occasion I had the honor to command the escort for President Jefferson Davis in his last tour through Alabama and Georgia. We came to the little town of Albany in Georgia. While we were there, a Negro captain of a Negro company came up and asked to have the privilege of escorting the carriage of Mr. Davis.

I said to him that I would refer his request to Mr. Davis, and I did so. Mr. Davis said he would be glad to have him, “he was glad to see that spirit exhibited on their part towards him and the whites, and he wanted to encourage it.”

If Jefferson Davis could take that position, surely it is not a matter of reproach to myself or [former Governor] William C. Oates that we are of the same opinion.”

(Warrior, Statesman, Jurist for the South: The Life, Legacy and Law of Thomas Goode Jones, John A. Eidsmoe, Sprinkle Publications, 2003, excerpts pp. 189; 196)

Military Government Perfected

“Lee, indeed, saw an analogy between the Revolution of 1776 and the Revolution of 1861. In ’76 the Colonists threw off the yoke of Great Britain, in ’61 eleven Southern States threw off the yoke of the North. In each instance the act was one on revolution. Lee maintained that a government held together by coercion – such as Lincoln’s call for troops would create – was but a semblance of a government. He remembered that Washington himself had declared, “There is nothing which binds one country or one state to another but interest.”

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation made an impression upon Robert E. Lee. He understood the significance. Lincoln intended to win the war and to preserve the Union regardless of consequences.  When he was inaugurated he had affirmed that he had neither the power nor the disposition to interfere with slavery. He had now reversed himself. But thereby his military government was made perfect.

This view Lee expressed to [President Jefferson] Davis. “The military government of the United States has been so perfected by the recent proclamation of President Lincoln, which you have no doubt seen, and civil liberty so completely trodden under foot, that I have strong hopes that the conservative portion of [the Northern] people, unless dead to the feelings of liberty, will rise and depose the party now in power.”

Yet while Lee was penning this letter to Davis he was signing and delivering a deed of manumission to the three hundred Custis slaves [he had inherited through marriage]. This act antedated Lincoln’s proclamation by three days; Lincoln’s proclamation became operative January 1, 1863, Lee’s manumission papers had been in effect since December 29 previous.”

(Robert E. Lee: A Biography, Robert W. Winston, William Morrow & Company, 1934, excerpts pp. 96; 208-209)

Jul 4, 2020 - Antebellum Economics, Antebellum Realities, Economics, Historical Accuracy, Race and the South, Slavery Worldwide    Comments Off on Feudal Lords, Modern Capitalists and the Dole

Feudal Lords, Modern Capitalists and the Dole

The feudal lord of the manor mentioned below could have been European, Asian, Arab or African owners of serfs or slaves.  A North German serf in Mecklenburg belonged to and worked the land of his lord, owning little more than his clothes and cooking utensils. But he and other serfs were essential to the lord for agricultural production, as in the American South and elsewhere in the world, and thus could not be abandoned.  

Feudal Lords, Modern Capitalists and The Dole

“The feudal lord of the manor was quite as much a property owner as the millionaire under modern capitalism. He had property rights in the tools of production, and often directed the processes of production. But unlike the man of property under modern capitalism, he could never make a decision in respect of his property rights, one of the results of which, would be widespread unemployment and destitution, for, as a practical matter, he could not expel the serf from the land or deny him the use of the land and some elementary capital for the production of food, shelter and clothing.

Modern capitalism is the first important system of property rights to allow property owners to make decisions which result in large scale unemployment. The much vaunted freedom of modern capitalism is largely a matter of the freedom of property owners from social responsibility for the consequences of their economic choices.  It is a matter of the freedom of property owners not to invest their savings if the profit incentive is not considered sufficient.

To say that it is also a matter of the freedom of the worker to abstain from work is to utter a shallow mockery of human necessity. The rich man is, in a practical sense, free to withhold his savings from investment. The poor man is never free in any but a legal sense and absurd sense to withhold his labor from the highest bidder, however low the bid, if, as the principles of sound capitalism require, so to withhold his labor is to starve.

At the present time, one of the fundamental rules of sound capitalism is being violated by the payment of the dole, which prevents a man from starving and thus enables him to withhold his labor from the highest bidder if the bid is not materially higher than the amount obtainable from the dole.”  

 (The Coming American Fascism: The Crisis of Capitalism, Lawrence Dennis, Harper & Brothers, 1936, excerpt pp. 22-23)

Red Shirts, Black and White

After his election in 1876, Gov. Wade Hampton of South Carolina promoted a hiring policy for State employees which “depended on a man’s competency and his conduct, if he was capable and did his duty faithfully to retain him, black or white.” The “Hampton party” was Democratic and included both races in its ranks. The Republican party continued its policy of racial discord in an effort to retain political power in the South.

Red Shirts, Black and White

“Negro Congressman Robert Smalls was hampered in his campaign by the interference of the Red Shirts.  At a meeting in Blackville there were only three hundred Negro supporters of Smalls and an approximate equal number of Red Shirts, some of who were Negroes.

In the new county of Hampton he attempted to make a speech at Gillisonville. When he arrived at ten in the morning he found about forty Negro men gathered at the meeting place and groups coming up the street to attend the meeting when suddenly a large group of Red Shirts rode into town, giving the “real rebel yell,” or as Smalls described it, “whopping like Indians.” They drew up on the outskirts of the crowd and remained still . . . Smalls with some difficulty restrained the Negro men from counterattacking.

Then the leader of the white group insisted that he be given halftime at the meeting. Smalls refused to speak at all on the grounds that it was a Democratic meeting, but the Democrats insisted that there should be a joint session and gave Smalls ten minutes in which to make up his mind to hold the meeting.

During this time he withdrew with some of his supporters into a nearby outbuilding, where they were surrounded by Red Shirts who fired several shots into the building and threatened to set it afire. However, as the alarm was spread in all directions, Negroes from the countryside, armed with guns, axes, and hoes, began to converge on the town and the Red Shirts galloped away. A major riot was narrowly averted.”

(South Carolina Negroes, 1877-1900, George Brown Tindall, University of South Carolina Press, 1952, excerpts pp. 34-35)

Filling the South’s Decimated Ranks

The enlistment or outright conscription of black troops by Northern commanders was applauded in the North as they were credited to the State which captured and claimed them. Additionally, the black recruits and their families could not vote so Northern politicians feared no election retribution from constituents who avoided military service.

On the other hand, the South considered black agricultural workers essential to the war effort as Southern armies needed the foodstuffs they produced. But as the Northern armies relentlessly grew from infusions of foreigners and black soldiers, however obtained, the South determined to enlist black men who would fight for their homes and freedom.   

Filling the South’s Decimated Ranks

“[Samuel Clayton of Georgia wrote in January 1865: “We should . . . promptly take hold of all the means God has placed within our reach to help us through this struggle – a bloody war for the right of self-government.  Some say Negroes will not fight. I say they will fight. The enemy fights us with Negroes, and will do very well to fight the Yankees.”

Judah Benjamin stated . . . “It appears to me enough to say that the Negroes will certainly be made to fight us if not armed for our defense . . . I further agree with you that if they are to fight for our freedom, they are entitled to their own.  Public opinion is fast ripening on the subject.”

[Jefferson] Davis in a letter to John Forsythe in February 1865: “It is now becoming daily more evident to all reflecting persons that we are now reduced to choosing whether the Negroes shall fight for us or against us, and that all arguments as to the positive advantage or disadvantage of employing them are beside the question, which is simply one of relative advantage between having their fighting element in our ranks or in those of the enemy.”

The Confederate Congress authorized on March 3rd, 1865, the raising of 300,000 blacks as soldiers. On April the 28th, the major-general commanding in Florida directed ten prominent citizens of Florida each “to proceed at once to raise a company of Negroes to be mustered into the service of the Confederate States for the War.”  But Lee and Johnston had already surrendered. The dissolution of the Confederacy defeated this last desperate measure to recruit the decimated ranks of the Southern army.

The black recruit was sought in Florida assiduously for the Union army after the first year of the war. When the Federal forces quit [Jacksonville’s occupation] in the autumn [of 1862] they carried some Negroes away with them.  Invasion of East Florida by Negro troops under Colonel [T.W.] Higginson quickly followed. “The object of this expedition, “ reported General Saxton, Higginson’s chief, “was to occupy Jacksonville and make it the base of operations for arming the Negroes and securing in this way possession of the entire State of Florida” – in other words, inciting servile insurrection.

The Federal army failed to obtain many black recruits, but Higginson concluded that black troops “were the key to the successful prosecution of the war for the Union.”

(The Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida, William Watson Davis, Columbia University, 1913, excerpts pp. 227-228)