Jul 1, 2023 - America Transformed, Lincoln's Revolutionary Legacy, Myth of Saving the Union, Withdrawing from the Union    Comments Off on The Death’s Head on the Board

The Death’s Head on the Board

The Death’s Head on the Board

“The . . . celebration of the birth of the American nation — was held in Philadelphia in 1876. An occasion so completely engaging the attention of the country and participated in so widely drew forth much discussion in the South.

Some Southern leaders opposed their section taking part; they still felt that the country was not theirs and that it might be less than dignified in themselves, and lacking in respect for their heroic Revolutionary ancestors, to go to Philadelphia and be treated as less than equals in a union which those ancestors had done a major part to found.

Former [South Carolina] Governor Benjamin F. Perry saw in the Centennial an effective way to drive home to the country the similarity of principles of the rebellion that became the Revolution, and the rebellion that became the “Lost Cause.”

[He wrote:] “This Centennial celebration of the rebels of ’76 cannot fail to teach the Northern mind to look with more leniency on Confederate rebels who only attempted to do in the late civil war what the ancestors of the Northern people did do in the American revolution . . . It shows a want of sense as well as a want of principle, and a want of truth, to call the rebels of 1776 patriots and heroes, and the rebels of 1861, “traitors.”

Only one contingency would induce a Virginian not to take part. The Grand Army must not be represented: “It would be the death’s head on the board; the skeleton in the banquet hall.”

(The History of the South, Volume VIII, E. Merton Coulter, LSU Press, 1947)

 

A Second Boston Massacre

New York’s Governor Horatio Seymour, a Democrat, firmly believed that conscription was unconstitutional as the federal government was to depend upon the States to furnish needed troops. He charged Lincoln’s draft with bringing disgrace upon the American name and shamed his administration. Seymour further declared that neither the President nor the Congress had a right ‘to force men to take part in the ungodly conflict which is distracting the land.’ Seymour also charged – and proved – that Lincoln levied higher draft quotas upon New York’s Democratic voting districts as part of a ‘manifest design to reduce the Democratic majority of voters.’ In short, the draft was designed, it appeared to Seymour, ‘to take Democrats into the army and exempt Republicans.’

New York City’s bloody draft riot which began July 11, 1863, ended the lives of some 120 residents as blue-coated soldiers hurried from Gettysburg opened fire on them with muskets and cannon. At least five black men were hung as demonstrators denounced Lincoln’s emancipation war. Strong anti-draft riots occurred across the State to include Buffalo, and throughout the north.

In Boston, though the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Colored Regiment was available, Gov. John Andrew feared that the sight of colored soldiers might excite his white citizenry. This colored regiment contained nearly 400 men enticed mostly from Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania to count toward Massachusetts troop quota and leave white residents at home. Only 22 soldiers were Massachusetts residents; 3 were Canadians. The black soldiers were hurried away and replaced with white men.

The governor’s fears were realized on July 14, 1863, when nearly a thousand angry residents – many of them women and children – gathered in front of the city’s Cooper Street Armory. After they hurled paving bricks at the wooden doors, a nervous officer inside ordered a field cannon loaded with grapeshot wheeled to the door and opened fire on the crowd, killing at least 14 and maiming many more.

This senseless slaughter of civilians recalled the massacre just over 93 years earlier, when British soldiers fired into a crowd of three hundred jeering and rock-throwing Boston residents. Eight were killed and five wounded. The post-riot investigation featured future US president John Adams representing the British soldiers.

(Lincoln and the War Governors. William B. Hesseltine. Alfred A. Knopf. 1948, pg. 305)

 

 

Jun 24, 2023 - Myth of Saving the Union, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on American Soldiers Suffering Worse Than Valley Forge

American Soldiers Suffering Worse Than Valley Forge

American Soldiers Suffering Worse than Valley Forge

“Starvation, literal starvation, was doing its deadly work. So depleted and poisoned was the blood of many of General Lee’s men from insufficient and unsound food that a slight wound which would probably not have been reported at the beginning of the war would often cause blood-poisoning, gangrene and death.

Yet the spirits of these brave men seemed to rise as their condition grew more desperate . . . It was a harrowing but not uncommon sight to see those hungry men gather wasted corn from under the feet of half-fed horses, and wash and parch and eat it to satisfy in some measure their craving for food.” General John B. Gordon, “Reminiscences of the Civil War.”

“Winter poured down its snows and sleets upon Lee’s shelter-less men in the trenches. Some of them burrowed into the earth. Most of them shivered over the feeble fires kept burning along the lines. Scanty and thin were the garments of these heroes. Most of them were clad in mere rags. Gaunt famine oppressed them every hour. One quarter pound of rancid bacon was the daily portion . . . often times none. At the close of 1864 Grant had 110,000 men. Lee had 60,000 on his rolls, but this included men on detached duty leaving barely 40,000 to defend the trenches some 40 miles in length from the Chickahominy to Hatcher’s Run.” Henry Alexander White, “Life of Robert E. Lee.”

(Women of the South in War Times. Matthew Page Andrews. The Norman, Remington Company, 1920. pp. 398-399)

 

Dissent in the Northern Ranks

Northern military officers soon found that any Democrat political leanings were an obstacle to promotion from Republican politicians. One officer wrote his brother that “several sources advised that if I change my political views and make a few Republican stump speeches to my troops it would be greatly to my advantage.” Democrat officers claimed that promotions and dismissals were more often based upon partisan politics and Lincoln’s desire to win elections. Historian Michael Holt noted that Lincoln did appoint prominent Democrats to high rank, but only for the purpose of luring Democrat votes to union parties in northern States.

Dissent in the Northern Ranks

“While Republican soldiers had no difficulty [obtaining or] writing to their hometown newspapers, Democratic soldiers often found themselves in hot water. In August 1864, Pvt. Newton B. Spencer of the 179th New York Infantry wrote a letter to his local newspaper of which he had previously been editor, the Penn Yan Democrat, claiming that the “Abolition mania for employing “n****r” soldiers has culminated in the worst disaster of the whole campaign and discouraged and nearly demoralized the whole army.”

Spencer believed that it “was to glorify the sooty abolition idol, that upon a Division of raw and worthless black poltroons, was devolved the most important part of the whole conflict – in the hope that they would crown our temporary success with decisive victory and bear off the hard-won laurels of the white fighting men.”

Spencer was charged with conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline, contempt and disrespect for his commanding officer, violation of the Fifty-seventh Article of War (giving intelligence to the enemy), and “giving aid and comfort to the enemy,” which was essentially a charge of treason. Spencer admitted writing the letter but pleaded not guilty to each of the charges.

In like manner, Sgt. William B. Gillespie of the Twenty-eighth New York Infantry was convicted by courts-martial for publishing a newspaper article in January 1863 in which he stated that Lincoln’s emancipation edict “will be the cause of a large number of our best officers resigning and of a large number of desertions,” to which he added that the freed people should all be “shipped to Washington . . . for a heart welcome and cordial embrace.” Gillespie was sentenced to be reduced to the ranks and then drummed out of the service.

Capt. Thomas Barrett of the Nineteenth Illinois Volunteers was summarily and dishonorably dismissed for publishing a letter in the Chicago Times on May 25, 1863, critical of Lincoln’s policy of enlisting black soldiers.”

(Emancipation, the Union Army and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln. Jonathan W. White. LSU Press, 2014, pp. 55-57)

The Morrill Tariff War

The Morrill Tariff War

The United States House and Senate passed on March 2, 1861, a pro-slavery amendment by the required 2/3 vote which received the endorsement of newly elected President Abraham Lincoln. This would prohibit the United States government from ever interfering with the domestic institution of African slavery in any State. The amendment was ratified by at least three States prior to Lincoln’s ill-advised attempt to reinforce and supply Fort Sumter in mid-April, after which he began raising an army which a president is forbidden to do.

The amendment, as a clear assessment of northern political feeling at the time, indicates that the ensuing war was not prosecuted by the north for emancipation. If the American South’s only interest was “preserving slavery” it need only remain in the 1789 union and join the other States in ratifying the amendment.

At the very same time in early March the northern-dominated Congress passed the oppressive Morrill Tariff Act, which imposed a 40% sales tax on imported goods shipped primarily to the Southern States. This Act protected northern commercial interests.

The only way the American South could avoid the tariff was to withdraw from political union with the north, and initially the northern press supported this. Editor Horace Greeley wrote of “erring sisters” departing the union but entitled to determine their own political future – and not “pinned to the other States with a bayonet.”

In early March 1861 the Confederate States Congress convened and passed a minor 10% tariff which would bring the world’s shipping traffic to Southern ports instead of high-tariff northern ports. This sent a veritable shock wave through the commercial north as it would bankrupt those ports and business interests.

The north’s attitude of letting the “erring sisters” enjoy their political independence changed to invasion and conquest as the only remaining path to collecting their all-important tariff.  Hence, all Southern ports from Virginia to Texas had to be brought under northern control.

As only Congress is authorized to raise and supply an army and would not convene until July, it looked the other way while State governors in the north supplied Lincoln with troops after the provocation at Fort Sumter.

 

Colorphobia at New Orleans

In early 1863 Gen. Nathaniel Banks commanded occupied New Orleans and had to deal with problems between his New England troops and colored soldiers of the former Louisiana Native Guards – reconstituted as “Gen. Butler’s Native Guards.” The original Louisiana Native Guards of the city, officers and men, were all free, and in May 1861 were mustered into State service. They became the first black unit in the Civil War, serving a Confederate State. After conquering New Orleans Butler worked to change this during his tenure with most free blacks leaving the unit and replaced by contrabands.

Butler’s replacement, Gen. Banks, was a Waltham, Massachusetts native who shared the deep prejudices of his fellow New Englanders.

Colorphobia at New Orleans

“British-born Colonel Leonard Currie of the 133rd New York Infantry told his men “to continue in the performance of their duty until such time as the regiment is brought in contact with [black soldiers] by guard duty, drills or otherwise.” If that happened, he promised to march them back to their camp so as not to cause “their self-confidence or manliness to be lowered by contact with an inferior race.” The colonel’s prejudices were shared by the post commander, Brigadier General Cuvier Grover, who refuse to recognize Butler’s Native Guards 3rd Regiment as part of the Union army and would not allow it to draw clothing, blankets, or pay.

The volatile situation exploded within days of the 3rd Regiment’s arrival when a black captain reported for duty as officer of the day. The guard was composed of white soldiers from the 13th Maine Regiment of Colonel George Foster Shepley, a Saco, Maine native and Harvard graduate. When the black captain arrived to inspect the guard, the soldiers refused to recognize his authority. The white soldiers were willing to “obey every order consistent with their manhood,” a news correspondent reported, “but as to acknowledging a [black man] their superior, by any virtue of the shoulder straps he might wear, they would not.” The situation quickly turned ugly. The black officer pressed his authority; the white soldiers grounded their rifles in protest and threatened to kill him should he attempt to coerce their obedience.” (National Anti-Slavery Standard, February 28, 1863).

Gen. Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts, the new department commander at New Orleans, soon heard of the episode but did not punish the mutinous white soldiers from the 13th Maine. Banks called the black officers for an interview, listened to their grievances, then instructed them that it was not the government’s policy to commission blacks as officers in the US Army. Banks then recommended they all resign to avoid the embarrassment of being kicked out. Uncertain of their future, the black officers agreed and all sixteen resigned and to their surprise soon found that their white replacements had already been named to take their place.”

(Louisiana Native Guards, James G. Hollandsworth, LSU Press, 1995, pp. 44-45)

The Political Result of the War

The election of Democrat Grover Cleveland ended the reign of the Republican party since Abraham Lincoln plunged the country into a war from which it has never recovered. The following was written postwar by Ohio Congressman Samuel “Sunset” Cox, a painful thorn in the side of Lincoln during the war.

The Political Result of the War

“On June 9, 1882, Cox delivered a ringing denunciation of the Republican party in the House of Representatives. He referred to it as “the defiled party of moral ideas and immoral deeds,” responsible for “plutocratic usurpation of . . . the federal government . . . unscrupulous fealty to corporate wealth, fast becoming the main, and only, and the all-sufficient qualification for the high offices of state.” A power behind the Republican party “has grown up within the last twenty-five years under national charters, cash subsidies, land grants . . . and the excessive profits of indirect tariff taxes” and “has now almost exclusive control of the entire floating wealth of the nation . . . and the great bulk of the fixed wealth.”

Cox asserted that the cause of the Republican excesses was “plainly the continued extravagance of the war times, when the foundations of most of the present colossal fortunes were laid in great contracts and cemented with the blood, tears and cruel taxation of the people.”

In early December, some 800 New York Democratic leaders gathered at the Manhattan Club to greet President-Elect Grover Cleveland. Cox wrote of the Democratic triumph:

“At length peace has come. Slavery, the bête noir of our politics, is no more.”

(Sunset Cox: Irrepressible Democrat. David Lindsey. Wayne State University Press, pp. 235-238)

Northern Democrat Thorn in Lincoln’s Side

Ohio congressman Samuel S. Cox stood out in the north as one who repeatedly challenged Lincoln’s wartime policies. A prewar Ohio newspaper editor in Columbus, he entered Congress in 1857 and served through 1865. As a War Democrat who wanted to somehow preserve the union, his efforts were directed toward effecting a rapid conclusion of the war before extreme bitterness had cut too deeply – and conciliation might still be possible.

Northern Democrat Thorn in Lincoln’s Side

“In the postwar, Cox said in retrospect: Could not this union have been made permanent by a timely settlement, instead of being cemented by fraternal blood and military rule? By an equitable adjustment of the territory this was possible . . . the Crittenden proposition . . . the Republican Radicals denounced . . . They were determined to prevent a settlement. Those who thought to counteract the schemes of secession were themselves checkmated by the extreme men of the Republican party.

Early in January 1862 Cox wanted to obtain from Lincoln his view regarding prisoner exchanges with the South. Asking if he would look to the safety of captured northern soldiers & sailors, Lincoln replied “You will have me recognize those [Southern] pirates as belligerents?” This was, then, the sum of his reasoning against the exchange or prisoners. It had in it no element of humanity or international law. With Cox’s prodding, an official agreement was established with the Confederacy in mid-1862.

By the spring of 1862 the tempo of fighting had increased along with the temper of northern politics, as the Radical Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania pressed for the confiscation of Southern property and emancipation of the South’s slaves. Congress had already in August 1861 enacted a confiscation act for property used for “insurrectionary purposes.” Stevens now wanted confiscation of the property of all “enemies,” slaves of all persons supporting the rebellion to be “forever free of servitude.” Cox denounced this proposal on June 3rd and urged Lincoln to reassure the public mind as to the purpose of the war. Playing upon the fears of the northern fears of freedmen flooding northward he asked: “will Ohio troops fight at all if the result should be the movement of the black race by the millions to their own State?”

Pressing his point, he said: “I would protect against this ambiguous policy” of professing a war to preserve the union but actually fighting a war to abolish slavery.  As for the cause of the war, he argued: “Slavery is the occasion, but not the cause . . . but slavery agitation, north and South, is the cause.”

Rep. Cox noted that “Indiana and Illinois, the latter Lincoln’s home State, already forbade the entrance of Negroes into their States. Ohio Republican legislators, resenting Cox’s obstructionist attacks on Lincoln’s administration, proceeded to redistrict the State under the new federal reapportionment act that cut Ohio’s representation from 21 to 19. Cox’s district was redrawn to make his reelection impossible.

The October 1862 Republican congressional defeats can be traced to waning enthusiasm for Lincoln’s stalemated war, waning enlistments and threatened conscription, arbitrary arrests of citizens and newspaper editors, and fear that his emancipation crusade would flood the north with freedmen in search of cheap wages. The Democrats were victorious in 14 of the Republican-redrawn 19 congressional seats.

Cox, outraged by Republican charges of disloyalty against northern Democrats, retorted: “Who brought on this war and then dragooned Southern Negroes to fight battles in which they would not even risk their own lives? How many abolitionists were hiding from the draft or paying for substitutes to fight for them?

In a mid-December 1862 speech Cox blamed Lincoln’s administration for the Radical rule that had resulted in a divided country, a national debt of $2,500,000,000, a tariff paying “millions into the pockets of capitalists from consumers,” the destruction of “the rights of personal liberty,” and the deaths of “at least 150,000 of the best youth of the country.”

During 1863 congressional Democrats steadily opposed the actions of Lincoln’s Administration, citing New England’s responsibility for the war, the unconstitutionality of federal emancipation, and the arbitrary despotism of the President.”

(Sunset Cox: Irrepressible Democrat. David Lindsey. Wayne State University Press, 1959, pp. 52-70)

May 20, 2023 - America Transformed, Carnage, Enemies of the Republic, Lincoln's Blood Lust, Myth of Saving the Union, Targeting Civilians    Comments Off on “Victory Rested On Our Banners”

“Victory Rested On Our Banners”

By the end of 1862 a total of 164,000 American had been killed or maimed over the decision of several Southern States to gain independence as the American founders had done. Given the carnage to that date, it is astonishing that an American president – who was encouraged by his predecessor to convene a constitutional convention to settle differences peacefully – chose to continue the slaughter of civilians and soldiers alike.

Fearing a severe public backlash after his army’s defeat at Fredericksburg in mid-December 1862, Lincoln ordered news reports of the loss suppressed.

“Victory Rested on Our Banners”

“On Wednesday, December 10th, [1862], clothing was issued to the [Sixteenth Connecticut] regiment. Shoes were very much needed. In the evening a pontoon [wagon] train went down towards the Rappahannock River, but no unusual notice or remarks were made about it, and both officers and men went to sleep that night without suspecting the least that early on the morrow a heavy battle would be raging.

The next morning the troops were early aroused by the tremendous discharge of two mortars, and simultaneously the opening of our batteries of nearly two hundred pieces. Nearly the entire day the batteries poured incessantly their deadly fire of shot and shell into the city with terrible rapidity. During the afternoon the firing gradually ceased and at sundown victory rested on our banners.

During the day three days rations and sixty rounds of cartridges were issued to the men. The next day the Sixteenth advanced to the river early in the morning and lay on the banks all day, watching the fighting on the other side of the stream. In the evening they crossed the pontoon bridge and went into the city of Fredericksburg. After stacking arms on Main Street most of the men went into houses to sleep.

The effects of this short siege were awful to contemplate. Some portions of the city were completely battered down. Buildings in various parts of the city were burning, and during the night fresh fires were continually breaking out. Although the enemy had carried away most of their wounded and dead, still a few remained in the city.

Our men found ten women and a child, all dead, in a cellar; they had gone there for protection from our shells but one of them struck there, and bursting, killed them all.”

(History of the Sixteenth Connecticut Volunteers, B.F. Blakeslee, Case, Lockwood and Brainard Printers, 1875, pp. 27-28)

May 18, 2023 - Future Political Conundrums, Recurring Southern Conservatism, Southern Conservatives    Comments Off on Reassessing George Wallace

Reassessing George Wallace

Author Josh Doggrell provides an exceptional synopsis of George Wallace’s political career and his positions which appeared in the December issue of Chronicles Magazine. This periodical provides some of the finest commentary on American culture today and is highly recommended.

Doggrell posits that “In the poisonous political climate of the 21st century, it is nearly impossible to have rational conversations about the social issues of the 1950s and 1960s. Nearly sixty years later, not only have the wheels not fallen off that bus, but the bus has become a revenge locomotive surging ahead at full speed.”

The author identifies “two main takeaways from the life and impact of George Wallace. He failed to improve his legacy as “those on the Right cannot seem to learn that trying to win points with the Left and win battles on their home turf playing by the Left’s warped rules is an exercise in futility.” No matter what, the Left still reviles him as much as the unfortunate Trent Lott who groveled in front of Jesse Jackson.

Second, Wallace won enormous support from the people. He said that “Reagan ran on everything I ran on . . . He even used some of the same phrases I used.” The author suggests that the George Wallace’s populist revolution of the 1960s made possible the Reagan revolution of the 1980s.

Reassessing George Wallace  

“One can study the texts of [George] Wallace’s inaugural address and his schoolhouse-door speech from 1963 and see the consistent themes of federal overreach, State sovereignty, Yankee dissimulation, constitutionalism, free enterprise and regional pride.

Virtually ignored in the popular history of this event is that in the following three days Wallace received over 40,000 letters and telegrams, the vast majority supportive and over half coming from outside the South.

Barry Goldwater became the first presidential candidate to echo, if not incorporate wholesale, the views of candidate Wallace when Goldwater became the Republican nominee in 1964. In 1968 Richard Nixon won the presidency by sounding a lot like Wallace without a Southern accent.  The “Southern strategy” was born.

Nixon took the populist threat of Wallace very seriously, instructing his personal attorney Herbert Kalmbach to make secret payments to his opponent’s campaign.

It is easy for us to forget just how well Wallace was doing in the 1972 presidential race, before calamity struck. He was riding high in the polls just before he was shot five times in Laurel, Maryland. Before entering the 1972 Florida Democratic primary, he said: “I have no illusions about the ultimate outcome. But we gonna shake up the Democratic party. We gonna shake it to its eye-teeth.”

Wallace would go on to win more Democratic primaries than anyone except the nominee, George McGovern, in a five-way race. Wallace’s popular vote was less than two points behind McGovern’s.

Nixon went on to win by a landslide – and we are left only to imagine the entertainment spectacle of a Nixon-Wallace debate.”

(Reassessing the Legacy of George Wallace. John Doggrell, Chronicles Magazine, December 2021, pp. 39-40)