Saturday, July 11, 2015


1865 - 1877  The time after the War between the States when military rule was in effect in the Southern states.  I always think of the movie the "Outlaw Josey Wales" when the Confederate Commander, Fletcher, surrenders his troops to the Northern Senator and the Missouri Red Legs. After the troops surrender their arms, and are taking the pledge to the Union, they are shot down during the ceremony.  Fletcher is appalled by the action.  The following dialog occurs:

Senator: The war's over.  Our side won the war. Now we must busy ourselves winning the peace. And Fletcher, there's an old saying: 'To the victors belong the spoils.'

Fletcher: There's another old saying Senator: 'Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining.'

I believe this fictional account may have captured a lot of the attitude of the warring factions following Lee's surrender.  Here is David's researched account:

"Some historians believe that if Lincoln had lived, there would have been no Reconstruction, and the Southern states would have been peacefully re-admitted to the Union to continue as before.  Lincoln did make a number of speeches to this effect, but he also made speeches before and during the war declaring abhorrence of the idea of making war against civilians.  After all, it was Lincoln's consistent position that the Southern states could not leave the Union, therefore they never had and the inhabitants thereof remained U.S. citizens.  Nonetheless, this view did not prevent him from issuing orders, and by his tacit silence at other times, allowing the entire Bill of Rights to be ignored while he made war on civilians he considered U. S. citizens.

Therefore, as his words and actions often did not jibe, we can only speculate what Lincoln might have done with the former Confederate states after the war though the strongest indications are that he might very well have allowed the former Confederate states to return to the fold with no further punishment.  As previously noted, according to Sandburg, as well as others I have not mentioned, the one thing Lincoln was absolutely insistent about was that the blacks had to go.

What actually happened is that after Lincoln's death, those who have come to be known as the Radical Republicans took charge of the government and for 12 years reduced the Southern states to political and economic servitude by taking control of their state and local government and most of their economy at the point of a bayonet.  Railroads, banks, commercial shipping, and most all of the economy was taken over by Northern industrialists...these being the same Northern industrialists who decried slavery while working 'free' children as young as 8 years of age to death in their factories.

Under the Presidential administrations of Andrew Johnson, who was helpless in the face of a Congress controlled by the Radical Republicans, and later for the two terms U. S. Grant, the Southern states groaned under absolute military rule.

It is thought that race relations would have been much better if not for Reconstruction.  The economic situation of a lot of blacks would certainly have been better.  A large percentage of former slaves stated in a university study done in the 1920's and early 1930's that they were "better off in slave times."

Contrary to the impression left by such books as 'Roots', there were thousands of free blacks in the South, particularly in the upper South and Louisiana, prior to the war.  Many were farmers, but a significant number were blacksmiths, wheel wrights, and artisans of many types.  With some exceptions, which varied state by state, they had all of the civil rights of whites except that they could not vote, and they lived peacefully with their white neighbors.  After the war, returning white ex-soldiers found that their homes and farms were destroyed and their land and businesses often taken by northerners.  As a result, they took many of the jobs previously held by the free blacks.

If I may digress for a moment, I would like to illustrate how incorrectly this period and even the pre-war South are so often represented.  I mentioned 'Roots' above as an example.  In that book all blacks were slaves and suffered miserably.  While slavery itself is an injustice, many slaves, as also noted above, felt that they were in better shape as slaves rather than having to fend for themselves.  The huge number of pre-war free blacks is ignored altogether by most historians.

It is interesting to note that 'Roots' was written by a black author from Tennessee, Alex Haley, and the work was hailed throughout the nation when it came out in the 1970's.  He won literary prizes for the work, and was praised for the novel itself and the research which went into it.

Not so much publicized is the fact that he was sued by the author of another fictional work entitled "The African" who stated that a good portion of 'Roots' was stolen from his book.  Haley denied this, but lost the suit and later admitted to his plagiarism.  Furthermore, genealogists and historians have proved the Haley's statements that the book's chief character, Kunta Kinte, was based on one of his ancestors are completely false.

What we have here is a fraud of an author who wrote a plagiarized book based on the plot of another author, but whose depictions of the South and slavery are frozen into the minds of the millions who read the book and saw the mini-series.  Prior to the war, 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' had a similar effect. Lincoln referred to the author as 'the little lady who started this war.'  Lincoln was always good at deflecting blame.

Another little known fact is that almost 90,000 free blacks were enlisted in the Confederate Army. Contrary to the assertions of a few current, revisionist historians, they were not on the rolls as actual soldiers.  Most were employed as teamsters with the remainder being cooks, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, etc.  They were allowed to carry personal weapons and there are several documented cases of them voluntarily filling in the ranks during battles.  Ironically, they were paid a full private's pay while black soldiers in the Union army were only paid half pay.

The same type of misrepresentation is often found in history books when it comes to the Reconstruction period.  Suffice it to say that the South was under total military rule for the period while at the same time northern commercial interests plundered it economically.

I have found that Northerners of an earlier generation were often mystified at the feelings of anger held by Southerners toward them for many years after the war.  It is my opinion that it wasn't the war so much as Reconstruction which caused the bitterness.

My grandfather was born on the tail end of Reconstruction.  He well remembered the Yankee soldiers riding out to his father's farm and stealing whatever they wanted whenever they felt like it. Remember, this was after the war.

My grandfather was an intelligent man, a lawyer and an abstractor, but he never forgave and he never forgot the constant stealing of his family's livelihood and the humiliation of his father by not being able to stop it.

Reconstruction is often portrayed as a period when yes, the Bill of Rights was ignored and yes, military rule was imposed on U. S. citizens, but it was all for good reasons.  The first was to bring a still resisting South under control and the second was to integrate the freed slaves into society with the full rights and privileges which went along with their new citizenship.


My studies have indicated that the vast majority of whites were saddened that they had lost the war, but accepted that fact and wished to return as quickly as possible to normalcy as a part of the United States.  They also accepted the fact that slavery was done, though the majority could have cared less about that as they didn't own any slaves, but they were concerned about what to do with an enormous number of blacks. One thing they would not do was accept social or political equality with the black race.  In this view Lincoln agreed with them.

This latter view was not confined to the South.  200,000 Union troops deserted after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  Only one Northern state I am aware of allowed freed blacks to vote prior to the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1868,  Several others, among them Illinois, refused to even allow a black to enter the state.  However, the Radical Republicans realized the political advantage these freed blacks could bring them as new voters, therefore allowing them to vote and bringing them into the Republican Party would greatly increase the power of the party and its leaders.

The political leaders of the Republican Party knew they could not force their northern constituents to abide by the rules imposed on the South, and it didn't matter anyway as blacks only made up a tiny percentage of the Northern population.  Therefore, they focused on the newly subjugated Southern states.  Blacks were enfranchised and whites were disenfranchised.  The South was treated as a conquered territory and the whims of the puppets running the state governments were enforced by military rule.

It was not until 1877 that military rule ceased in the South and the people regained control of their state and local governments, but it was not until the 1950's that the South began to emerge from the economic ills brought upon them by the war and the subsequent Reconstruction period.

To illustrate just how badly the South had been reduced to overall poverty by the war and Reconstruction, in 1860 six of the top ten states in per capita income in the U. S. were Southern states. After the war and for the next 90 years or so the South ranked at the bottom of all of the states in per capita income.

Conduct Of The War

In this segment of my postings on the War between the States, I will post David's synopsis of the actual conduct of the war.  In particular, the role that Abraham Lincoln played in directing the actions of the Army of the North.  We all have our own ideas about the reasons for the war, and these may or may not be altered by anything we read.  I use a wide variety of sources in trying to make some sense of it all.  I wonder if we have learned anything.  600,000 Americans died fighting each other.  I fear the polarizing actions of men who continue to disregard our U. S. Constitution, combined with the moral slide in society, may doom us to repeat our history.  This will be made easier if we are talked into removing the symbols of only one half of the conflict to satisfy a small portion of our under-informed populace.  If Lincoln were judged by today's court of social media, would his historical mementos be removed from public view?  You be the judge.

"Lincoln held little respect for the Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights.  During the war he jailed over 30,000 people who disagreed with his policies.  Most were not charged with specific offenses and in many cases, were given no reason for their incarceration.  They had no trial and no recourse to habeas corpus, and most sat in jail for the duration of the war.  Constitutionally, only Congress can declare a suspension of habeas corpus for American citizens and only in time of war (the idea that habeas corpus applied to anyone on U. S. soil whether citizen or not did not appear until the late 20th Century), but Lincoln initially did it on his own.

Among those jailed were newspaper editors, journalists, members of the opposition party, virtually the entire legislature of Maryland, and thousands of regular citizens who were known or suspected of being opposed to his policies.  He shut down hundreds of newspapers and periodicals, and ordered the Post Office not to deliver copies of hundreds of others thereby causing the papers' demise.

He declared martial law for the duration in several Northern states, had the military shoot dead several hundred civilians in Chicago and New York who were rioting in protest of his Emancipation Proclamation and the draft laws, deported a U. S. Congressman for criticizing him in a speech in his home district, ordered the largest mass execution, 39 American Indians, in the history of the country, and generally during the war committed every single violation of law, restriction of individual freedom, and lack of respect for common decency attributed by Jefferson to King George in the Declaration of Independence.

Lincoln ordered his many generals to take total control of the geographic areas they were assigned and make civilian government subordinate to them.  For example, one of his generals in Missouri, a state which had not seceded, ordered the forced eviction of every living soul in three entire counties and part of a fourth.  General Order 19, issued in Missouri banned the civilian possession of any kind of firearm for any purpose in the entire state of Missouri.  General Benjamin F. "Beast" Butler hung a man for lowering the U. S. flag in New Orleans.

Lincoln authorized General Sheridan to declare total war on civilians in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by destroying every single man made structure and home, the seizure and/or burning of all crops, and the killing of all livestock that could not be used by the Army.  Freed slaves were involuntarily conscripted by the thousands as unpaid laborers for the Union army.  In a few cases in other states, even whites were forced to build earthworks against their will for the Union Army.

Particularly after 1862, civilians were terrorized, shot, hung, and imprisoned for no legal reason.  Several hundred women and children were seized in Georgia by Sherman and shipped off to the north to a concentration camp where most died.

A number of women, the exact number is uncertain, were imprisoned in Kansas City because they were suspected Confederate sympathizers and/or because their men folk were "believed" to be fighting in the Confederate Army.  Some were as young as thirteen.  As in most of theses cases, there were no trials and no habeas corpus for these people.  Many died when the building they were imprisoned in collapsed due to the foundation structure being undermined by Union enlisted men who built tunnels under the building for access to a neighboring whorehouse.  The invasion of Lawrence, Kansas by Quantrell's guerrillas was a direct result of the deaths of these women, many of whom were related to Quantrell's troops.

Atlanta was shelled mercilessly.  There was no military reason for the shelling.  It's only occupants were women, children, and old men after General Joe Johnston pulled out.  When the Union troops finally rode into what was left of the town, the bodies of women and children littered the streets.  When they left to continue their "March to the Sea", what was left of the town was burned.  Virtually the entire state of South Carolina, even its lowland forests, was burned to the ground.

In Vicksburg Mississippi, the Confederates defending the area were encamped in a wide ring outside the city.  Repeated attempts by Grant's army to break the Confederate lines failed.  Grant, with the permission of Lincoln, then began bombarding the city day and night with artillery and heavy cannon fire from gunboats.

There were Confederate positions on the edge of the city facing the river, but most of the Southern troops were outside the city.  Grant determined to lay siege to the city and shelled it as well as the Confederate positions.  22,000 shells from the gunboats' cannons and nearly twice that from artillery rained down on the city with no regard as to whether the targets were civilian or military.  Civilians were not allowed to leave as per Grant's order though this fact is disputed by some historians because no written order has ever been found.  For whatever reason, civilians were trapped.  After two months of the siege and constant shelling, remarkably few civilians had died.  Their city was destroyed, but civilians dug caves in the sides of the numerous hills, and ravines in the area and took shelter there.  Though Grant could not break the Confederate lines, the Confederate commander decided the lack of food for his men,and the very obvious reality that no relief was coming made surrender the only viable course.

All over the South looting by the Union troops was authorized and everything which could not be stolen was destroyed.  Many elderly men and loyal slaves were hung or shot because they would not reveal where the family had hidden valuables.  During the Red River campaign in Louisiana in 1863, over 50 gunboats were dispatched up the Mississippi River from New Orleans and then up the Red River, ostensibly to support the army's campaign against Shreveport.  The campaign failed and the gunboats were never really utilized except for one thing.  They were used to transport stolen cotton back to New Orleans where the generals sold it and pocketed the money.

There was little rape of white women reported, but there were thousands of slave women raped by their 'liberators' while their officers looked the other way.

The South was destroyed.  One quarter of all of the white men in the South were killed or wounded during the war.  While it made sense to destroy manufacturing centers, Lincoln's policy, in defiance of the recognized rules of war, as well as common decency, was also to make war on civilians.  It is estimated that over 50,000 Southern civilians were killed during the course of the war.  Hundreds of towns and cities were burned to the ground.  Private homes were looted and then destroyed as a matter of policy. Courthouses, churches, public buildings of all kinds, farms, plantations, opera houses...all were destroyed as part of a scorched earth campaign.  As previously noted, anything which was not stolen was, as in the case of livestock, killed, or as in the case of structures, burned. This policy caused many civilians, including slaves, to starve when their food supplies for the winter were carted off or destroyed.

In some of the southern parishes of Louisiana were plantations owned by French nationals who chose not to take either side in the war.  It didn't matter to the Union troops.  The French homes were burned, some of the men were murdered, and all of their possessions either stolen or destroyed.  After the war, the U. S. government paid reparations to most of these people, not because it was sorry for what had been done in the name of the U. S. government, but to pacify the French government.

There were some interesting exceptions to the total devastation.  Louisiana established the 'Seminary of Learning in Louisiana' in Pineville, Louisiana across the Red River from Alexandria, in 1853.  It was primarily a military academy for men.  The president of the institution was William Tecumseh Sherman.  He had many friends who were plantation owners in the central Louisiana area and gave specific instructions during the afore mentioned Red River campaign not to burn their homes.  As a result, there are an unusually large number of anti-bellum homes in this area which survived the war.  Unfortunately, the city of Alexandria did not.  It was burned to the ground though there was not military reason for such an act.  Other than the homes specifically exempted by Sherman, a twenty mile wide strip of complete devastation was wrought for almost seventy miles through northwest and central Louisiana.

In short, by the laws of war both then and today, Lincoln and many of his generals were war criminals.

I say Lincoln and his generals because thy authorized the heinous crimes committed against civilians and their property.  I have read letters by union soldiers of all lower ranks, both officers and enlisted, who were horrified by the actions taken against civilians and in some cases, they refused to participate.  Enough did, however, and the South was laid desolate."

Thursday, July 9, 2015

And Then There was Slavery.

We have come to the final component in the list of reasons that are proffered defending the necessity for Lincoln and his Federal army to invade the Southern states.  I hope you have enjoyed this foray into un-sanitized history.  I also hope that along with the Michael Medved piece from 2007, this serves to enlighten you.  I further hope that it will explain why it is not necessary to ban inanimate objects that belong in our history.  History is the story of our past, and it should remain complete whether good or bad.  Once again, I thank my late friend David for his extensive research in this area. I still have David's thoughts and research on the conduct of the war and the period of Reconstruction after the war.  Maybe we can post that at some later date.

"And then there was slavery.  Slavery was definitely an issue in the war, but it was never THE issue except for a tiny minority of Southern whites and Northern abolitionists.  Lincoln himself said that he would not interfere with slavery if that was what it took to preserve the Union.  He did not mention slavery in his call to war.  At the beginning of the war, slavery was legal in Washington, D.C.  As already noted Grant's wife and Father-in-law owned many slaves and refused to free them the entire time Grant was a Union general.  Lincoln's wife's family owned slaves.

It was not until the North appeared to be losing the war that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  However, humanitarianism had nothing to do with his declaration.  It did not free the slaves in Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, or Missouri.  Nor did it free the slaves in those parts of the South occupied by Union forces.  It only freed the slaves in those areas over which Lincoln had no control.  It was intended to cause insurrection among slaves in the South and to disrupt the Confederacy on its home front.

It didn't work except to establish a moral purpose for some individuals in the North for an immoral and illegal war.

We can safely say that economic tyranny imposed upon Southern states by politicians subservient to northern industrialists, the invasion of Southern states by U. S. forces, and for some few, slavery were the three primary causes of the war.

Four Southern states, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas did not secede until after
Fort Sumter.  People in those times, in all of the states, considered themselves citizens of their state first and their nation second.  When they were invaded by Northern armies they fought illustrated by the young Confederate soldier quoted earlier.

All of that said, I believe the single greatest cause of the war was Abraham Lincoln.  He could have ended slavery with compensated emancipation as was done in England, Brazil, and numerous other countries. But, he did not attempt to avail himself of this option except in the Border States where he was rebuffed.

Interestingly, Lincoln lobbied Congress during his entire term for the funds to round up every single black in the U. S. at the end of the war and ship them to Africa or the Caribbean.  He did not intend to allow a single black to stay in this country.  As part of the above mentioned compensated emancipation offered to the Border States, he added the provisos that the emancipation would be gradual and that the freed slaves would be deported.  He had voiced and written his opinion that blacks were not generally the social or intellectual equal to whites many times, and apparently wished to rid the country of the freed blacks.

For those of you who may doubt this little known fact of Lincoln's intention to deport all blacks, you can find his efforts in this area documented in great detail in Carl Sandburg's six volume biography of the man.  Sandburg, from Illinois, was hardly a Southern sympathizer.

Lincoln's agenda was to institute a centralized government which held total power over the states. Secondly, he wished to destroy free trade, thereby enriching his Northern businessmen supporters. As a result, he could not allow a state to secede, even though it was and is constitutional for one to do so, because this was the ultimate challenge to a powerful central government.  He succeeded in these goals and was perfectly willing to sacrifice 600,000 Americans to achieve them."  This is the Michael Medved link on slavery mentioned in the introduction.