February 8, 1915: Birth of a Nation Debuts in Los Angeles

Wednesday, February 8, AD 2017

 

The film Birth of a Nation, D.W. Griffith’s masterpiece, was  controversial at its release and remains so.  At three hours the film was a pioneering effort using then cutting age technology to produce a movie that stunned viewers with its cinematic quality, something that no one had ever seen before.  At the same time the film, based on the pro-Ku Klux Klan novel the Clansman by Thomas Dixon, a friend of President Woodrow Wilson, drew outrage from Grand Army of the Republic Union veterans and black groups with its depiction of the Klan as noble heroes attempting to fight against evil Unionists and its depiction of blacks as little better than beasts who walked erect.  Race riots broke out in cities where the film was shown.  President Wilson viewed the film in the White House and was reported to have said, “It is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true”.  The White House denied the remark, and in the wake of continuing protests, Wilson eventually condemned the “unfortunate production”.  The film used quotes from Wilson’s scholarly works to buttress its negative depiction of Reconstruction and its positive depiction of the Klan.  Considering the fact that Wilson imposed segregation on the Civil Service it is difficult to discern what he found to be “unfortunate” about the film.

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3 Responses to February 8, 1915: Birth of a Nation Debuts in Los Angeles

  • I have seen “Intolerance,” or at least most of it. It is a brilliant piece of film-making and the origin of the “cast of thousands.” Some of the shots still astound.

    It does a beautiful job of condemning religious prejudice, feeding into a Protestant audience’s feelings with a grim depiction of the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and then throwing a brutal change-up: the next chapter features an innocent Catholic man being framed for a crime and sentenced to execution.

    If only he could have done something with respect to the hatred depicted in the also-brilliant but hellishly racist “Birth,” which is no less than grotesque in parts.
    “Intolerance” is still worth a watch, despite its predecessor.

    Oh, and Wilson turns my stomach. If only Teddy had won in 1912…

  • DW Griffiths’ movie “Birth of a Nation”: “with its depiction of the Klan as noble heroes attempting to fight against evil Unionists.”

    Then, as now, Hollywood was controlled by the Demonrats: then, the military wing of the Demonrat party was the KKK; now it is “Occupy!”, BLM, and “Black Rock.”

    How little has changed.

  • Dale
    If you can tolerate 3 hour movies here is the link
    https://youtu.be/eo66cJqEl4A

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Christmas Bells Ring On

Saturday, December 10, AD 2016

 

Something for the weekend.  One of my favorite Christmas carols has always been I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.   It is based on the poem Christmas Bells written  by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day 1863.  Still devastated by the death of his wife in a fire in 1861, he had been rocked by news that his son Charles, serving as a lieutenant in the Union army, had been severely wounded at the battle of New Hope Church in November of 1863.  In a nation rent by civil war, along with his personal woes, one could perhaps understand if Longfellow had been deaf to the joy of Christmas that year.  Instead, he wrote this magnificent poem of faith in the power of Christmas:

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Civil War Book Haul

Wednesday, July 20, AD 2016

 

While in Wisconsin, my family and I visited the Civil War museum in Kenosha.  It has quite a few fascinating exhibits, including period battle flags, uniforms, films, a toy soldier exhibit showing the stand of the Iron Brigade on the first day of Gettysburg, etc.  One of my favorite features of the museum is their gift shop which has a huge collection of used Civil War books for sale.  I never fail to find often rare books on the Civil War.  Here is a list of my purchases for 43 dollars earlier in the week:

  1. Jefferson Davis:   American Patriot 1808-1861, Hudson Strode (1955)-Poor Jefferson Davis, portrayed as the Devil incarnate by the North during the War, he was often used as a scapegoat by Southerners after the War.  The simple truth is that Davis was a gifted man who brought the Confederacy close to independence against all the odds.  Hudson Strode was the first historian to have access to many of the personal papers of Jefferson Davis and launched a vigorous counterattack to the image of Davis as a bloodless pedant, revealing him instead as a passionate and complex man.
  2. The Hidden Face of the Civil War, Otto Eisenschiml (1961)-The Austrian born Eisenschiml was an oil company executive, and a tireless Civil War historian.  He is perhaps best known for his 1937 look at the Lincoln assassination which posited that Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton was behind the assassination.  I regard this theory as completely loony.  However, Eisenschiml was never afraid of controversy and is always entertaining to read.    In this volume he savages both the North and the South for incompetence in the waging of the Civil War.
  3. The Celebrated Case of Fitz John Porter:  An American Dreyfus Affair, Otto Eisenschiml (1950)-Eisenschiml takes on the case of General Porter who was court-martialed and removed from the Army for his actions at Second Bull Run, and who fought for 25 years to clear his name, a fight he ultimately won.
  4. Lincoln’s Scapegoat General: A Life of General Benjamin Butler, 1818-1893, Richard S. West, Jr. (1965)-A book in defense of “Beast” Butler.  I like seeing arguments made for impossible cases, and attempting to convince me that Butler was not the most incompetent Union general is close to an impossible task.
  5. General Sherman’s Son:  The Life of Thomas Ewing Sherman, SJ, Joseph T. Durkin, SJ (1959)  A biography of the Jesuit son of General Sherman written by a Jesuit.  Go here to read about Father Sherman.
  6. Grant Wins the War, James R. Arnold (1997)-A good one volume look at the Vicksburg campaign, the most decisive campaign of the War.

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4 Responses to Civil War Book Haul

On Wisconsin

Wednesday, September 9, AD 2015

Arthur Macarthur

The men of the 24th Wisconsin weren’t sure about this.  They were coming under heavy fire and from the looks of things they were being asked to commit suicide.  Charging uphill into Confederate entrenchments, how could they win?  When their second standard bearer went down, they were convinced this attack was a very bad idea.  Then an eighteen year old Lieutenant stepped forward and grabbed the flag.  Turning to the men he yelled, “On Wisconsin!” and began clambering up Missionary Ridge.  With a roar, the men followed, the Lieutenant eventually planting their standard on top of Missionary Ridge.  That night of November 25, 1863 the corps commander of the 24th Wisconsin, hard bitten regular army, Major General Phil Sheridan, tearfully embraced the young Lieutenant, and told the men of the 24th to take care of him, because he had just won the Medal of Honor.  He had too, although like many of the Civil War recipients, he would not receive the Medal until decades after the War.

In the battles and campaigns that followed the young Lieutenant, who had lied about his age to join the Union Army at 17, rose steadily in rank, eventually commanding the regiment and ending the war as a 19 year old brevet Colonel, the youngest colonel in the Union Army.  In Wisconsin he would ever after be known as the “boy colonel”.

After the War, he briefly studied law, but in 1866 he re-enlisted in the Army as a Second Lieutenant, retiring in 1909 as a Lieutenant General. 

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November 7, 1864: Davis Proposes Enlisting Slaves in the Confederate Army

Friday, November 7, AD 2014

Jefferson Davis

On November 7, 1864 Jefferson Davis made his annual speech to the Second Confederate Congress.  Most of the speech was a valiant, albeit largely delusional, attempt to place a happy face on the desperate military situation confronting the Confederate States.  However, there is one section which finally brought out into the open the question of enlisting slaves in the Confederate Army.  Long rumored to be under consideration, bringing it before Congress was a testament to how bad the military prospects were for the Confederacy, the protestations of Davis to the contrary notwithstanding.  However, even at five minutes to midnight for the Confederacy, Davis still raised the proposal as a possible move in the future, not an immediate policy.  To many members of the Congress it must have seemed ironic that a War begun in defense of slavery, had now reached such a dire pass that they were being asked to liberate slaves to preserve their new nation.  Here is the portion of the speech of Davis dealing with the issue: 

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45 Responses to November 7, 1864: Davis Proposes Enlisting Slaves in the Confederate Army

  • Let anyone who claims that the Civil War “wasn’t about slavery” explain why Davis’s proposal went nowhere even coming as, you say at five minutes to midnight.

    An Irishman, Gen. Patrick Cleburne [sp?] proposed just such a scheme in 1862 and was soundly rejected. Even though he was an excellent field commander he was never promoted again after that.

  • From “Confederate Emancipation” by Bruce Levine
    “Once unleashed, especially in newspapers, the idea of slave soldiers and Confederate emancipation met fierce opposition. Critics repeatedly labeled any form of the plan an “insult” to white soldiers and “embarrassing” (p. 41, 48) before the world. Some raised the specters of slave revolt and miscegenation, while other critics rehearsed familiar proslavery arguments about the inherent inferiority of black people, and the benign, natural character of slavery.
    Plantation mistress, Catherine Edmondston, condemned any attempt to arm slaves because it would “destroy at one blow the highest jewel in the crown.” “Our independence,” chimed in North Carolina governor, Zebulon Vance, “is chiefly desirable for the preservation of our political institutions, the principle of which is slavery.” And one Brig. Gen. spoke for most Confederate officers when he announced: “if slavery is to be abolished then I take no more interest in our fight” (p. 53, 56-58).
    Davis and Lee were never the enlightened advocates of emancipation their Lost Cause defenders, as well as some distinguished biographers, have fashioned. They were staunch Confederate nationalists, determined to do whatever it took to win a war of southern independence, and in so doing, preserve ultimate control over blacks in the post-war South. Among some Confederate leaders, a growing realization of two conditions drove them to support emancipation through soldiering: one, that by 1864 the demise of slavery in this war could not be stopped, and two, most difficult of all to square with their values, that slaves dearly wanted their freedom. Those Confederates who supported black enlistment coupled with emancipation did so in the hope of controlling the lives, prospects, and especially the labor of the people they would free.
    The rhetoric of a Lee or a Cleburne is similar to Otto von Bismarck’s assertion: “If there is to be a revolution, we want to make it rather than suffer it” (p. 107).Only in Virginia were any blacks actually mustered into companies, at most perhaps 200 men. None saw meaningful combat and some of those who did wear Confederate gray did so as a means of running away to Union lines.

  • As a Southerner, I will say this much. The Confederacy deserved to lose the Civil War because of slavery. However, most Southerners object to the way the South was treated by Sherman during the War and by Radical Republicans after the War.

  • Mico, it depends on which southerners you’re talking to. As a black southerner, I view Sherman as a mixed bag. He didn’t care much for black people and viewed them as a nuisance to his army. While there is not, in any reasonable history of which I’m aware, any instance of his soldiers having been cited as raping white southern women, there a number of complaints of them raping black women. There is also that instance in Georgia where he pulled up his pontoon bridges and left black freed slaves who had been following his army to the tender mercies of the confederate cavalry. However, the destruction attributed to him by white southerners has been shown to be greatly exaggerated. Even Shelby Foote wrote that southerners have a penchant of saying things like “Sherman’s Yankees burned my great-granddaddy’s farm”, in areas where Sherman never was. However it is true that he and his soldiers were especially brutal in South Carolina. They wanted to make it pay for having started the war. He was much less so in Georgia and North Carolina. His taking the war to the deep south homefront definitely shortened the war and the total amount of killing and carnage.
    My view of reconstruction isn’t shaped by “Gone with the Wind” or “Birth of a Nation”, and neither should yours be. In truth, corruption by the so-called “carpetbag” government of the republicans were probably not much worse than the “redeemer” governments that came after, which can be judged by the fact that tax rates, school assessments, etc were pretty much kept in place after the “radical republicans” were replaced by “redeemer democrats”. For an interesting and non-biased view, read “Redemption-The Last Battle of the Civil War” by Nicholas Lemann.

  • Also, and interesting article about Sherman’s Field Order 15 (the famous “40 acres and a mule”)
    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/the-truth-behind-40-acres-and-a-mule/

  • Slavery in its profound arrogance promises to restore to the victim the freedom illicitly taken from him for a price.

  • “There is also that instance in Georgia where he pulled up his pontoon bridges and left black freed slaves who had been following his army to the tender mercies of the confederate cavalry.”
    BPS, thanks for that tidbit – I’d never heard of it. Do you know when and where it happened?
    BTW, another check in the plus column for Sherman was what he did when he arrived in Savannah. He discovered that the Union army was jailing freed slaves who had refused conscription. He rightly saw the hypocrisy in this position and freed them.

  • Thank you, BPS, for this history.

  • The point is, yes, slavery is evil. But the constitution does not permit the federal govt or a group of states to invade and conquer a state or group of states that has a law the invader considers evil.

    If abolition of slavery was the reason for the war, it must be admitted (as is the truth) that the federal leviathan acted unconstitutionally.

    Of course, slavery as the cause of the war is an old canard. lincoln didn’t give a damn about freeing slaves, his own stated reason for invading the south was to preserve the so-called union, a cause of arguable constitutionality. Slavery as a cause was an cynical afterthought when Lincoln needed to gin up support for his unpopular war. But grafting this issue onto the war’s justification didn’t add to the war’s constitutional justification, it detracted from it.

  • “But the constitution does not permit the federal govt or a group of states to invade and conquer a state or group of states that has a law the invader considers evil.”

    The constitution clearly allows the Federal government to act against rebellions and insurrections and that is all secession amounted to.

    “If abolition of slavery was the reason for the war, it must be admitted (as is the truth) that the federal leviathan acted unconstitutionally.”

    Defense of slavery is why secession occurred. One part of the nation may not leave the nation solely because it did not like the outcome of a Presidential election.

    “Of course, slavery as the cause of the war is an old canard. lincoln didn’t give a damn about freeing slaves, his own stated reason for invading the south was to preserve the so-called union, a cause of arguable constitutionality. Slavery as a cause was an cynical afterthought when Lincoln needed to gin up support for his unpopular war. But grafting this issue onto the war’s justification didn’t add to the war’s constitutional justification, it detracted from it.”

    Lincoln always hated slavery but he understood, and constantly stated, that he had no constitutional power to interfere with slavery where it existed. After secession Lincoln was able to use the war powers to end slavery where it existed in areas in rebellion. He then pushed for a constitutional amendment to end slavery, refusing last minute attempts by representatives of the Confederacy near the end of the war to negotiate a peace if slavery were preserved.

  • The individual citizen who is a person has civil rights within the U.S. Constitution. Dred Scott was declared to be only three quarters person and the rest Negro by the U. S. Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Roger B. Taney.
    .
    What you are saying is that because the slave was declared not a full person and therefore not a full citizen; that the Constitution did not protect and provide for him; that the northern states were forced by our Constitution to ignore that the African American was enslaved in the southern states. For Americans who fought the Revolutionary War and won freedom for “all men created equal” and “endowed with unalienable rights”…”Liberty”, the Constitution holds the same rights and privileges “for ourselves and our posterity” as does the Declaration of Independence.
    .
    It is a simple matter that Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney either did not read or could not have read America’s founding principles. Washington Irving’s Icabod Crane of Sleepy Hollow comes to mind or maybe The Headless Horsemen.

  • “The rhetoric of a Lee or a Cleburne is similar to Otto von Bismarck’s assertion: ‘If there is to be a revolution, we want to make it rather than suffer it'”

    1. Lee fought for Virginia and for the Confederates because VA joined the Confederacy.

    2. Please name a single quote attributed to Lee that fits the arrogance/thinking of the relative attitude in the quote above referenced in regard to Lee.

    3. I would not fight against Arkansans in this day and time. Would you fight against and kill/imprison the citizens of your state and local communities. These things are not as simple & forthright as you are attempting to make them in hindsight.

  • “After secession Lincoln was able to use the war powers to end slavery where it existed in areas in rebellion. He then pushed for a constitutional amendment to end slavery, refusing last minute attempts by representatives of the Confederacy near the end of the war to negotiate a peace if slavery were preserved.”

    Lincoln only freed slaves once it became advantageous to the Union cause. Note the following quote from a personal letter AL wrote during the heart of the Civil War.

    “I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be ‘the Union as it was.’ If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.”

    “I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.”

  • He wrote that to Horace Greeley Barbara, the publisher of the New York Tribune. At the time that he wrote that letter Lincoln had already drafted the Emancipation Proclamation which awaited only a Northern battlefield victory for its announcement to the world. Lincoln in this letter, which he assumed Greeley would publish, was laying the groundwork for public acceptance in the North and the Border States of Emancipation as an action of military necessity. Emancipation by itself was highly unpopular in the Border States and among quite a few Democrats in the North. Lincoln knew he had to bring public sentiment with him, or both Emancipation and the War would be lost. Framing it as an act of military necessity was all important in winning over that public sentiment, as well as vesting in Lincoln the power to emancipate as a war act, something he otherwise lacked any power to do.

  • For my fellow Southerners reading this blog: I don’t think someone raised outside of the rural Southern culture can understand the attitudes that still remain re: government’s attempt to tell you what to do–attitudes in part which most likely descended through the blood from our ancestors who were fighting their governments for freedom in Europe –like Irish/Scottish plantation owners–long before coming to the southern US and ended up fighting the fed govt here in America.)

    I have been told and have witnessed first hand that the Yankees in several of their cities actually comply with the jaywalking laws in their vicinities & are expected to do so. We, here in the South, generally ignore such laws & many others and would never think of complying with such a govt demand unless it were strictly convenient for us to do so.

    For the Yankees: I don’t expect you to understand our reasoning surrounding lack of compliance with government demands. 😉

  • “I have been told and have witnessed first hand that the Yankees in several of their cities actually comply with the jaywalking laws in their vicinities & are expected to do so.”

    That is certainly not true in Chicago Barbara. In Chicago autos can barely be kept from jaywalking let alone pedestrians!

  • “He wrote that to Horace Greeley Barbara, the publisher of the New York Tribune. At the time that he wrote that letter Lincoln had already drafted the Emancipation Proclamation which awaited only a Northern battlefield victory for its announcement to the world. Lincoln in this letter, which he assumed Greeley would publish, was laying the groundwork for public acceptance in the North and the Border States of Emancipation as an action of military necessity. Emancipation by itself was highly unpopular in the Border States and among quite a few Democrats in the North. Lincoln knew he had to bring public sentiment with him, or both Emancipation and the War would be lost. Framing it as an act of military necessity was all important in winning over that public sentiment, as well as vesting in Lincoln the power to emancipate as a war act, something he otherwise lacked any power to do.”

    Assuming all of the reasoning you attribute to AL regarding this letter is accurate (we do not know that for sure because he never said it in any documented format which we can see today)–that still does not make what AL wrote in the letter any less true. Lincoln was about saving the Union in his execution of the Civil War.

  • Of course he was since that was his duty as President to hold the Union together. That the War allowed him to end slavery, which he hated, did not break his heart. God loves irony, since He provides so much in human history. The Confederacy was created to defend slavery. But for secession, Lincoln would have spent a frustrating four years as President with the Democrats in the Senate blocking virtually all his initiatives. The Peculiar Institution of the South would have been left untouched. Instead, the slaveholders, most of them, went crazy after Lincoln was elected, hugely overreacted to a phantom menace to slavery, and provided the catalyst for the destruction of slavery.

  • Barbara wrote “The rhetoric of a Lee or a Cleburne is similar to Otto von Bismarck’s assertion: ‘If there is to be a revolution, we want to make it rather than suffer it’”
    1. Lee fought for Virginia and for the Confederates because VA joined the Confederacy.
    2. Please name a single quote attributed to Lee that fits the arrogance/thinking of the relative attitude in the quote above referenced in regard to Lee.
    3. I would not fight against Arkansans in this day and time. Would you fight against and kill/imprison the citizens of your state and local communities. These things are not as simple & forthright as you are attempting to make them in hindsight.
    In Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s book “Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee through His Private Letters” , which she wrote using a recent cache of Lee’s letters found in a trunk in an Alexandria, VA bankvault, she shows that much of the conventional wisdom about Robert E. Lee is not true, via his own words. From an article she wrote in the NYT:
    “The conventional wisdom holds, for example, that Lee disdained secession, but once his state took that step he was duty bound to follow. But these documents show that he was not actually opposed to disunion in principle. He simply wanted to exhaust all peaceful means of redress first, remarking in January 1861 that then “we can with a clear conscience separate.”

    Nor was he against the pro-slavery policies of the secessionists, despite postwar portraits of the general as something of an abolitionist. He complained to a son in December 1860 about new territories being closed to slaveholders, and supported the Crittenden Compromise, which would have forbidden the abolition of slavery. “That deserves the support of every patriot,” he noted in a Jan. 29, 1861 letter to his daughter Agnes. Even at the moment he reportedly told Francis Blair that if “he owned all the negroes in the South, he would be willing to give them up…to save the Union,” he was actually fighting a court case to keep the slaves under his control in bondage “indefinitely,” though they had been promised freedom in his father-in-law’s will.”
    I do think that by refusing to fight a guerilla conflict after April 1865, surrendering completely and after the war counselling reconciliation , he did our republic an immeasurable service.
    Regarding your third point, Mrs. Pryor writes-
    “Like many border-state families, the Lees and their friends were sharply divided on the issues. When Lee consulted his brothers, sister and local clergymen, he found that most leaned toward the Union. At a grim dinner with two close cousins, Lee was told that they also intended to uphold their military oaths. (Samuel Phillips Lee would become an important admiral in the Union navy; John Fitzgerald Lee retained his position as judge advocate of the Army.) Sister Anne Lee Marshall unhesitatingly chose the northern side, and her son outfitted himself in blue uniform. Robert’s favorite brother, Smith Lee, a naval officer, resisted leaving his much-loved berth, and Smith’s wife spurned her relatives to support the Union cause. At the same time, many of the clan’s young men, such as nephew Fitzhugh Lee, were anxious to make their mark for the South in the coming conflict, creating a distinct generational fault line.”
    I live in Virginia, but born in Mississippi. If abortion caused a rift in the U.S. like slavery did, I’d fight with the pro-life states, even if it meant fighting against home state, family, friends.

  • Don wrote: “But for secession, Lincoln would have spent a frustrating four years as President with the Democrats in the Senate blocking virtually all his initiatives. The Peculiar Institution of the South would have been left untouched.”
    You’re largely right Don, but I think Lincoln, and perhaps the electorate as well, might have viewed his presidency as successful if he had been able to, inspite of the legal ramifications of the Dred Scott decision, stop the spread of slavery to new states and territories. He said of slavery ” I would like to so set it in the public mind that it would eventually wither away”. Do you think he would have been successful, had the southern states not succeeded?

  • Absent Supreme Court change BPS, I don’t see how he could have been. Any nominees to vacancies would have to have been confirmed by the Senate, and doubtless the slavery issue would have made for stormy confirmation hearings. Now if he had been able to get the Homestead Act, a big if, through Congress it would have rendered the slavery issue in the territories moot, as wave after wave of Northern settlers departed for the West. No secession and what Lincoln’s administration would have been like as a result is a fascinating What If of our history.

  • BPS: Thank you for the information though I am not sure how you perceive the first or 2nd question to be answered by your responses.

    Re: your response to my 1st and 2nd statement: Conventional wisdom re: Robert E. Lee is determined strictly by the person you are talking to/reading from in many instances. The accusations that you have indicated Ms. Pryer is making against REL (i.e. that he supported slavery and was all for secession and wanted the Civil War to start) have been around for a very long time. One of my English students in a special ed English class and I researched those things about a decade ago and found many errors in that line of thought. So those ideas re: REL didn’t just suddenly appear because some new letters were found in a vault. I am not sure how those quotes answer my questions re: REL. REL did indeed state that he could not fight against the state of Virginia. The people of that time period saw their states in a different way from how we see them today and the individual states often had a lot more freedom/political power then than our states have today.

    “Lee Enters The Civil War With The Confederacy”

    “Several states of the Deep South seceded in protest over the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as president, and the newly formed Southern Confederacy offered Lee the rank of brigadier general. He ignored that offer, but the bombardment of U.S. troops in Fort Sumter at Charleston, South Carolina, on April 12–14, 1861, placed him in a difficult position. His former commander, Winfield Scott, offered him command of the army of volunteers being raised to suppress the rebellion; that same day, Virginia voted in favor of secession. Lee did not support secession, but he would not fight against his native state. He resigned his officer’s commission, wrote Scott a personal message of thanks and regret, and became a major general of Virginia troops, commanding all military forces of the state.”

    http://www.historynet.com/robert-e-lee

    “Because of his reputation as one of the finest officers in the United States Army, Abraham Lincoln offered Lee the command of the Federal forces in April 1861. Lee declined and tendered his resignation from the army when the state of Virginia seceded on April 17, arguing that he could not fight against his own people. Instead, he accepted a general’s commission in the newly formed Confederate Army. ”

    http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/robert-e-lee.html

    Re: your response to the my 3rd statement: Your beginning premise is false. The Civil War was not begun in the human realm because slavery was moral or immoral. It was begun because there were some Southern idiots who fired on a fort held by the US military. It was continued in the human sense to not allow the Union of the United States to break apart. Often moral issues come up in great conflicts as slavery came up during the Civil War. AL thought that the Civil War might be God’s judgement on the entire nation (North & South/abolitionists & pro-slavery folks) because of the evil of slavery. Moral issue of slavery was addressed by Lincoln later in the war-and then as a military/political tactic-not at the beginning of the war. What I have read leads me to strongly believe that AL always viewed slavery as a moral wrong. However, in his 2nd inaugural address, he clearly states that neither the Union nor the Confederacy began the war believing that slavery would be ended by the conflict.

    “These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.”

    “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

    http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres32.html

    Yes, I note that AL said in his 2nd inaugural that slavery was the “cause” of the war, however he never said that when he was campaigning for president the first time around. He said that he would fight to keep the nation one united entity.

  • Just one more thing. It really irks me when people try to prove that Robert E. Lee supported slavery and therefore chose to fight for the Confederacy.

    “There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race.”

    “Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild and melting influences of Christianity than from the storm and tempest of fiery controversy. This influence, though slow, is sure.”

    http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/Lee%20on%20Slavery.htm

  • “In Chicago autos can barely be kept from jaywalking let alone pedestrians!”

    Donald,

    I have friends from Chicago, and they have told me about some of the unique practices with vehicles in that city! LOL

    Some of the Yankee cities to which I was specifically referring in my jaywalking comments are places s.a. Morristown, NJ and Washington DC.

    In Washington DC, I started calmly walking across the street with a police officer standing nearby-as usual I was not in a cross walk–I was promptly and firmly grabbed by one of my horrified Yankee friends who yelled that I was going to be given a ticket. It took me two hours to figure out what behavior my friend found so objectionable. 😀

  • Re: “The Confederacy was created to defend slavery.”

    1. Most of those who did the actual fighting for the Confederacy were not slave owners and/or did not own large numbers of them.

    2. Just because a person fought on the Confederate side did not mean their motivation was simply to perpetuate the evil of slavery.

    3. Most of those who did the actual fighting for the Union were not fighting to end slavery.

    4. Again, these things are not as simple as some would make them in hindsight.

  • Without a doubt the whole purpose behind the creation of the Confederacy was to defend slavery. The men in the ranks could have any number of reasons to be fighting, including the fact that they were conscripted to do so in many cases, but without slavery there would have been no Confederacy and no war. The thinking of the Confederate leadership at the beginning of the War was well illustrated in Vice-President Alexander Stephen’s Cornerstone speech:

    “The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”

    Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

    http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/cornerstone-speech/

    The Confederates fought valiantly for a cause they deemed right, but at the core of that cause was human slavery.

  • Thank you for replying to my comments Barbara. The book by Elizabeth Brown Pryor, “Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters”, Viking, 2007, is rather more recent than your research 10 years ago and may bare your perusal. It is not some revisionist potshot at Lee, but quotes extensively from a cache of Lee’s letters, previously unknown to modern scholars. You are absolutely right when you write “these things are not as simple as some would make them in hindsight”. Lee was a complex man and a genius, but neither all good (as some white southerners think) nor all bad (the same can be said of Lincoln). I’m familiar with the history you quote about Lee and Lincoln and thank you for the reminder. Though it was not my intention to irk you, Mrs Pryor’s book suggest there is more to the story re: Lee’s decision to fight for the South and his views on slavery and black people in general. Even the quote from the 1856 letter from Lee is, let us say, not consistent with his actions in the court case to try to keep the Custis slaves, and a letter after the war to one of his sons instructing him never to hire blacks. And you should google the Crittenden Compromise. Your original point #2 asked for quotes or actions of Lee which reflect his sympathy with the relative attitudes of the slave society of which he was a member. Your point #3 asked about fighting against one’s home community. I showed that some of Lee’s close relatives stuck with the Union, and don’t see where I mentioned the morality of slavery so I’m not sure what you mean by my beginning premise is false. (Perhaps part of your point 3 was truncated?) While I agree that many, perhaps most of the soldiers fought in the rebel army to protect their homes and not necessarily to defend slavery, it is a simple fact of history that the Confederacy was formed as a government to protect and perpetuate “negro” slavery. The U.S. Constitution does not mention the word “slave” or “slavery” except in the amendments that end it. The framers were rightly ashamed of slavery, and hoped it would wither away in time. The Confederate constitution expressly protects “negro slavery”.
    Thanks again for your reply. I suggest you read Mrs Pryor’s book.

  • “without slavery there would have been no Confederacy and no war”

    That is a flatly true statement.

    Re: VP Stephens–leadership often has strong and/or extreme views in relation to the man on the street. Stephens’ speech would lead one to believe that he was either a horrid rascist or knew how to portray one very well. I have no interest in defending Stephens. It is Lee’s motivation of fighting for his home state that I am defending.

    I have done extensive reading of civilian & military members’ journals & letters written during the Civil War. They were not interested in debating slavery–they expressed other concerns & interests. Now, it is my understanding that, of those registered to vote (white males) during this time period, there was a larger amount of political participation & interest than we have in our modern times.

  • “Your original point #2 asked for quotes or actions of Lee which reflect his sympathy with the relative attitudes of the slave society of which he was a member.”

    I meant to request a quote showing Lee wanted the South to start the Civil War. That was my understanding of the quote being proffered.

    Thank you for the info on the book. My preference is original source documents. I would very much like to read the letters. Although, in doing so in this day & time it is difficult to determine some of the meaning as context is very important–just the plain reading would not be enough. Thanks, again.
    😀

  • “Dred Scott was declared to be only three quarters person”

    Actually, he was declared to not be a person at all, with “no rights that the white man is bound to respect” and no standing to sue for his freedom. The declaration of an entire class of human beings as non-persons is the biggest thing that Dred Scott v. Sanford and Roe v. Wade have in common.

    You all might be interested to know that Dred Scott’s great-great-granddaughter, Lynn Jackson, lives in the St. Louis area and has started a foundation devoted to his memory. She recently appeared with Alveda King, MLK’s niece and noted pro-life activist, at a rally to pray for peace in Ferguson, Missouri:

    http://www.thedredscottfoundation.org/dshf/

  • Elaine Krewer:
    “”Dred Scott was declared to be only three quarters person”

    Actually, he was declared to not be a person at all, with “no rights that the white man is bound to respect” and no standing to sue for his freedom. The declaration of an entire class of human beings as non-persons is the biggest thing that Dred Scott v. Sanford and Roe v. Wade have in common.”
    .
    ” and no standing to sue for his freedom”
    Reading our founding principles, I found no reason to believe that personhood is required to be eligible for equal Justice under the law or in the Supreme Court. “all men are created equal” The Declaration of Independence. “Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights” Francisco Suarez.
    .
    If Dred Scott had no standing in a court of law, then Scott had diplomatic immunity as belonging to another sovereignty, the country from whence he had come and in the analysis, Dred Scott had diplomatic immunity given him by “their Creator”, and Amendment 9, some 70 years before.
    “ Amendment 9 – Construction of Constitution. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
    Thomas Aquinas’ definition of a person is an “individual substance of a rational nature”
    It seems that Dred Scott was denied his humanity by the Supreme Court, the ultimate bias as Scott fulfilled the definition of a rational being in that Scott knew that he was a man, a free man and had the reason, the knowledge, and the ability to bring lawsuit in the court. (This government is trying to give animals, non-rational animals the ability to sue in a court of law. It has got to be the absolute punishment for abortion and slavery)
    The state and its court does not give life, nor personhood, nor sovereignty.
    .
    Even in Roe v. Wade, the court said that it did not know if the unborn was human, yet the court did not give the man within the womb the benefit of a doubt…and all with a straight face.

  • Thank you, Elaine Krewer for the information about the work of Dred Scott’s great-great-granddaughter, Lynn Jackson. I hope this give pro-abortionists pause to remember their own humanity.

  • “Dred Scott was declared to be only three quarters person”

    “Actually, he was declared to not be a person at all, with “no rights that the white man is bound to respect” and no standing to sue for his freedom. The declaration of an entire class of human beings as non-persons is the biggest thing that Dred Scott v. Sanford and Roe v. Wade have in common.”

    Thank you for reminding us that the US Supreme Court also declared that blacks were inferior to whites–thereby pointing out that the Union govt was far from morally clean itself. And remains unclean today.

  • “Thank you for reminding us that the US Supreme Court also declared that blacks were inferior to whites–thereby pointing out that the Union govt was far from morally clean itself. And remains unclean today.”

    Of course the Dred Scott decision was attacked by Lincoln and would have been overruled by the Court in due time based upon Lincoln’s appointments if slavery had not been abolished by Lincoln before a case could arise.

    As for Mary’s statement, I assume that she is referring to the three-quarters provision in the constitution regarding congressional representation. This was an attempt to limit the power of the slave holding states. The slave owners wanted their slaves to be counted in censuses as equivalent to free persons. The three-quarters compromise resulted.

  • The North saw the Negro as a black man, a human being. The South saw the Negro as an institution (of slavery).
    .
    Our founding principles are predicated on the human being that no institution can claim as its own without the consent of the individual person.
    .
    Roe v. Wade saw the unborn as a part of the woman’s body. The unalienable Right to Life sees the unborn as an individual human being. (creating mothers and fathers)

  • Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade must be neck-in-neck as the WORST Supreme Court decisions ever! The evidence is that Lincoln didn’t plan to enforce Dred Scott. In the book “Natural Rights and the Right to Choose” by Hadley Arkes, he cites two occurances of this early in Lincoln presidency. A black man had applied for a passport or visa (whatever they had in those days) to travel to Germany for medical school and another black man had applied for a patent. Since Dred Scott had declared them non-citizens, these had been denied by the government official involved. Lincoln reversed the officials decisions and order the passport and patent issued.

  • “Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade must be neck-in-neck as the WORST Supreme Court decisions ever!”

    Bingo!

  • “Of course the Dred Scott decision was attacked by Lincoln and would have been overruled by the Court in due time based upon Lincoln’s appointments if slavery had not been abolished by Lincoln before a case could arise.”

    This is an unprovable assumption as we have no way to show that it would have actually taking place. Possibly wishful thinking. Real life has shown us that Republican SCOTUS appointees cannot be counted upon to vote (woops! I mean rule) according to the thinking/policies of the president who appointed them–after all they are life time appointees and there is no one who can over rule them. Also, Roe vs Wade has stood for 41 years now.

  • Dred Scott was in 1858. The Emancipation Declaration was in 1863. Davis’ proposal to enlist slaves was in 1864. Roe v. Wade is in 1973.
    .
    With no standing to sue, nor standing to be a citizen, the individual (the Negro slave) (the unborn) was to go her own way as the Supreme Court told the atheist, Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Lincoln said: “One man cannot own another man”

  • “This is an unprovable assumption as we have no way to show that it would have actually taking place. Possibly wishful thinking.”

    Complete and total rubbish. Lincoln got five appointments to the Supreme Court during his administration. The idea that these Justices would not have overturned Scott, if they had had the opportunity, at a time when the country was at war with the Confederacy and the President, who had attacked the Scott decision, was successfully backing an amendment abolishing slavery, betrays a complete lack of understanding on your part for the history of this period. The simple fact is that Lincoln was an ardent foe of slavery and the War, fought by the Confederacy in defense of slavery, gave him the opportunity to act to end it, and his appointments reflected his desire to rid the country of that stain.

  • “Complete and total rubbish. The idea… betrays a complete lack of understanding on your part for the history of this period.”

    It is very interesting that you feel you can predict political/historical events with certainty–ones that never took place & that involved multiple people and multiple interchangeable events which would have needed to taken place–shows complete misunderstanding of the nature and predictability of politics.

  • Complete and total rubbish again Barbara. If you are going to continue to comment on this blog in regard to the Civil War, I will expect you to display basic knowledge of the facts. People who pontificate about history but clearly do not know what they are talking about are one of my pet peeves and I have little tolerance for it. You clearly are quite defensive about the history of the Confederacy and slavery, and that is your prerogative. However, on this blog commenters are not allowed to twist historical facts in order to put lipstick on a favored pig.

  • BPS, thank you for your comments. Please keep them coming.

The Great Beefsteak Raid

Tuesday, September 30, AD 2014

Great Beefsteak Raid

One of the more colorful episodes in the siege of Petersburg, the Great Beefsteak Raid of September 14-17 helped cement Major General Wade Hampton III as a worthy successor to Jeb Stuart in command of the Army of Northern Virginia.  Learning that a large herd of cattle were being grazed by the Union at Edmund Ruffin’s plantation on Coggin’s Point on the James River, Hampton decided to launch a raid behind enemy lines with 3,000 troopers, capture the cattle and drive them back into Confederate lines to feed the Army of Northern Virginia that was on starvation rations.

Hampton and his men seized the herd on September 16, and got 2,468 of them back into Confederate lines on September 17.  Along with the cattle he brought back 304 Union prisoners, having suffered 61 Confederate casualties during the course of the raid.  President Lincoln referred to it as “the slickest piece of cattle stealing” he had ever heard of.  An exasperated Grant, when a reporter after the raid asked him when he expected to defeat Lee, snapped, “Never, if our armies continue to supply him with beef cattle.”

In 1966 a heavily fictionalized film on the beefsteak raid, Alavarez Kelly, was released.  Here is Hampton’s report on the raid:

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2 Responses to The Great Beefsteak Raid

August 5, 1864: Battle of Mobile Bay

Tuesday, August 5, AD 2014

“Damn the torpedoes!”

Bold Farragut said,

“Damn the torpedoes!

Full speed ahead!”

And, lashed to his rigging

With never a squeal,

He led his fleet into

The Bay of Mobile.

The Southern forts thundered

With vigor and vim

But grapeshot and canister

Never touched him.

The waters were mined

With a death-dealing load,

But Farragut simply

Refused to explode.

  

And fought till the Southerners

Gave up the fray.

(He’d captured New Orleans

In much the same way.)

So remember, if ever

You face such a plight,

There’s a pretty good chance,

“Straight ahead!” will be right.

And while “damn,” as you know,

Is a word to eschew –

He knew when to say it –

So few people do.

Rosemary and Stephen Benet

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3 Responses to August 5, 1864: Battle of Mobile Bay

  • Thanks!

    So at noon, I will toddle down Fifth Avenue to Madison Square Park and view the Farragut Monument on the north edge.

    From NYC Statues website.

    “Farragut is depicted in his naval frock coat, facing to the south. He looks as though he could be on the bridge of a ship (and we are assured by a letter to The Times in 1912 that Farragut’s pose is authentic for a seaman and “one of the great merits of this masterpiece”). Farragut has binoculars in his left hand and a gust of wind appears to be turning up the bottom of his coat. He is on top of a broad stone wall that is fairly festooned with bas-relief carvings, including two female figures (that’s Loyalty on the left, and Courage on the right), an unsheathed sword amid ocean waves, and a long-winded and highly stylized (and, err, hard-to-read) inscription.

    “In front of the monument is a sweep of small stones, apparently intended to evoke the sea floor. Imaginative viewers would envision themselves standing chest-deep in water, about to be run down by Farragut’s ship. Which, now that we think about it, may be appropriate. Set in the stones, as a peculiar embellishing detail, is a bronze crab, seemingly oblivious both of Farragut’s imaginary ship and onlookers’ clumsy steps, inscribed with the name of the sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and the name of the architect who designed the wall, the famous Stanford White.”

  • A bit of history still lives on daily on Mobile Bay:

  • Off-topic – Ace of Spades blog had something yesterday, I believe, about “live-blogging” Guadalcanal as part of a WWII+70 thing. You might want to check it out if you haven’t already.

Corcyra Fears

Thursday, May 8, AD 2014

Civil Unrest

 

 

The Federal Election Commission Chairman has some chilling things to say about threats to freedom of speech:

I think that there are impulses in the government every day to second guess and look into the editorial decisions of conservative publishers,” warned Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee E. Goodman in an interview.

“The right has begun to break the left’s media monopoly, particularly through new media outlets like the internet, and I sense that some on the left are starting to rethink the breadth of the media exemption and internet communications,” he added.

Noting the success of sites like the Drudge Report, Goodman said that protecting conservative media, especially those on the internet, “matters to me because I see the future going to the democratization of media largely through the internet. They can compete with the big boys now, and I have seen storm clouds that the second you start to regulate them, there is at least the possibility or indeed proclivity for selective enforcement, so we need to keep the media free and the internet free.”

All media has long benefited from an exemption from FEC rules, thereby allowing outlets to pick favorites in elections and promote them without any limits or disclosure requirements like political action committees.

But Goodman cited several examples where the FEC has considered regulating conservative media, including Sean Hannity‘s radio show and Citizens United’s movie division. Those efforts to lift the media exemption died in split votes at the politically evenly divided board, often with Democrats seeking regulation.

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8 Responses to Corcyra Fears

  • Your concerns are not fabrications of wild imagination. They are real as the threat is real.
    May God help us.
    Power is mans unquenchable appetite, and for many all means to quench power is acceptable in their heartless endeavors.
    Christ conquered the world.
    We know who holds the power. So we fear not and speak truth.

  • The Federal Election Committee is paid for by every citizen’s tax dollar. Censoring free speech because of content is unconstitutional.
    .
    “The tie of party was stronger than the tie of blood”
    .
    Communism: According to Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, communism is concerned with the party, the group, while true democracy is concerned with the individual person, the sovereign citizen, who is the person endowed with unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence by our Creator and whose freedom is inscribed in the Constitution for the United States of America by our government.
    .
    Philip: “Power is man’s unquenchable appetite”
    .
    Power over one’s appetite is called sovereignty or self discipline. If there is one sovereign person left in America who constitutes our nation and brings forth government of the people, we will survive.
    .
    “One hundred and fifty years ago we had experience of civil war and that left 600,000-750,000 dead out of a population of thirty million.”
    That one man might be free.
    .
    June 4th is the twenty fifth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising and already according to ChinaRealTime in the Wall Street Journal the government is starting to crack down. In the uprising, the Chinese government thought that no one would notice the tanks in the square but the internet got the truth out in eight minutes. Thank God for the internet.

    Both Drudge and Sean Hannity might begin their broadcast with a prayer as an exercise of freedom of religion and speech and press and peaceable assembly.
    Only TRUTH has freedom of speech and press. Jesus Christ the Word of God is TRUTH. Jesus Christ is a sovereign Person. Jesus Christ is God.
    .
    Saint Genevieve’s prayer over the city of Paris: “Please dear Lord, do not make it too hard.” Saint Clare drove the Saracens from the gate with the Blessed Sacrament. There is still time.

  • People who murder unborn babies and sanctify sexual filth will stop at nothing. Liberals will not give these things up without violence. Of course I do not want that. I pray against it, that we might somehow win peaceably at the election booth. But liberals cannot stand our point of view. And they hate God. It is that simple. 🙁

  • Paul: “But liberals cannot stand our point of view. And they hate God. It is that simple.”
    .
    Their’s is an opinion. You and I have an opinion. And you and I love God. It is that simple.

  • oh my
    .
    Our part does not change. We are to remain faithful, behave as Christians. Remember Whose we are.
    .
    2 Peter 2:12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge. …. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish.

  • That whole witness by Thucydides is so powerful. Thank you Donald McClarey.

  • I, too, am very impressed with the images inscribed in Thucydides. The images brought forth are better than and impossible for a film video. A Must save.

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April 27, 1864: Jacob Thompson

Sunday, April 27, AD 2014

Jacob_Thompson_-_Brady-Handy

Jacob Thompson of North Carolina was Secretary of the Interior under James Buchanan.  Resigning his cabinet post to follow the Confederacy, he joined the Confederate Army and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, fighting in several battles in the West.

On April 27, 1864 he met with Jefferson Davis who appointed him to lead a delegation of “special commissioners” to Canada.  In effect, he was the head of the Confederate Secret Service in Canada.  During 1864 he would concoct plots to free Confederate prisoners in Union POW camps with the help of copperheads.  He met with disaffected Northern politicians to plot the formation of a Northern Confederacy.  He was behind a plot to burn New York City in revenge of the burning of Atlanta.  He was accused of meeting with John Wilkes Booth, although this has not been proven, and after the War Thompson vigorously denied any involvement with the assassination of Lincoln.

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October 1, 1863: Wheeler Begins His Raid Into Tennessee

Tuesday, October 1, AD 2013

Joseph Wheeler

 

 

In most histories of the Civil War the focus tends to be on the big battles and this is understandable as they were very important.  However, this distorts our view of the War as it often takes our attention away from other facets of the War that loomed large to contemporaries and often had an impact on the conflict not much less than major battles.  One overlooked facet is the constant raiding that went on throughout the War by partisans and cavalry.  The Confederates were masters of this type of warfare, and these raids often slowed, if not crippled, the operations of major Union armies, as supply depots were destroyed, railroads cut, telegraph lines ripped down, and general havoc raised with Union rear area logistics.  One such raid began on October 1, 1863, led by General Joe Wheeler, commander of the cavalry of the Army of Tennessee.

With Rosecrans bottled up in Chattanooga, Wheeler went into Tennessee, for nine days, raising alarms through out the Union forces in that state, as he hit the supply lines that Rosecrans needed to keep his semi-besieged army supplied.  The shining moment of the raid for Wheeler came when he attacked an 800 wagon Union supply column, capturing 500 of the wagons, and killing approximately a thousand mules badly needed to haul Union supplies.  On his return to Confederate lines his command was roughly handled by pursuing Union cavalry under Brigadier General George Crook, but his mission to complicate the supply of the Union Army of the Cumberland was successful.  Here is Wheeler’s report:

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July 11, 1863: First Assault on Fort Wagner

Thursday, July 11, AD 2013

The longest siege in the Civil War was that of Charleston, South Carolina. 567 days the city was besieged by Union naval and land forces, only being taken by Sherman’s troops after the evacuation of the city on February 15, 1865 by the Confederate Army.

The siege began in July of 1863.  Union troops landed on Morris, Island at the mouth of Charleston Harbor, their goal to take Fort Wagner.

Fort Wagner

Brigadier General George C. Strong, portrayed in the video clip at the beginning of this post, was in command of the Union brigade of troops that landed on Morris, Island.  He attempted to take Fort Wagner on July 11, 1863, only to have his attack bloodily repulsed, sustaining 339 casualties to only 12 for the Confederates.  He would try again on July 18, an attack made famous due to the participation of the 54th Massachusetts.

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Saving Lincoln: A Review

Wednesday, July 10, AD 2013

 

In the past year three films on President Lincoln have been released:  the truly odious Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, the superb Lincoln and now the low budget, funded by Kickstarter, Saving Lincoln.  I am pleased to report that I think Saving Lincoln is much closer in quality to Lincoln than Vampire Hunter.  The film has an intriguing take on Mr. Lincoln and I was both amused and moved by it.  My full review is below.  The usual caveat regarding spoilers ahead is given.

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Civil War History and Inevitability

Thursday, April 25, AD 2013

I’ve been on a bit of a history kicker lately, particularly Civil War history, even if by chance. On successive occasions I read Tony Horowitz’s Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War, followed by April 1865: The Month that Saved America by Jay Winik. It was purely coincidental that I read those books back-to-back, though they serve as proper bookends to Civil War history. I also happened to finally see Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. 

First a review of the works themselves. Midnight Rising is an excellent recounting of the events leading up to John Brown’s raid, the raid itself, and of course the fallout. Horowitz’s account is fairly straight, though one can’t help but detect a bit of admiration for Brown peeking through his narrative. You can probably make a good argument for both the proposition that Brown was a complete lunatic and that he was a hero who stood on principle (though probably more the former).

Winik’s narrative is engaging, and if you are unfamiliar with many of the details of not just the events of April 1865, but of the Civil War in general, then Winik’s book is a very good primer. Unfortunately it suffers from a few severe, though hardly fatal defects. First of all, Winik litters his story with repeated digressions, filling in biographical details of the main figures – Lee, Grant, Lincoln, Davis, Forrest, Sherman, Booth, even Johnston. Again, this may or may not infuriate the reader depending upon his knowledge of Civil War history. It felt like padding to me, and unnecessary padding at that.

Second, while he gets his history mostly right, there are a few notable lapses. Most grating to me was his discussion of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and their respective writings on nullification. Like many other writers, he contends that Madison supported nullification in the Virginia Resolutions, when in point of fact Madison completely rejected the doctrine of nullification throughout his life and merely argued for a concept known as interposition in the Virginia Resolutions. This is a relatively minor point, but Winik makes a handful of errors, especially with regards to Lincoln’s attitudes towards having extra protection on the day of his assassination. Winik makes Lincoln seem callous about his own security, but it was Edwin Stanton who denied him an extra bodyguard.

Finally, Winik’s fundamental thesis is overstated (and also restated repeatedly in a  seemingly unending epilogue). Though the conclusion of the war was a momentous occasion in American history, Winik overstates the willingness and the capability of the south to engage in guerilla warfare to prolong to conflict. Certainly Lee could have decided to rebuff Grant’s peace overtures, and Johnston could have listened to Jefferson Davis’s appeals to continue the fight, but would the south have kept the Union at bay as effectively and as long as Winik speculates?  I suppose that is a matter of some conjecture, but I think Winik drastically overestimates the ability of any sizable confederate band to harass the Union for much longer.

As for the movie Lincoln, I’ll largely second Donald’s review. It was an epic film, and Daniel Day-Lewis was simply outstanding. I’ll admit I even got choked up at the end – a rarity for me as usually only Field of Dreams ever makes me cry.

Beyond the merits of these works, I wanted to explore some of their themes – or at least some of the thoughts that they inspired in me directly or indirectly.

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21 Responses to Civil War History and Inevitability

  • Ah, John Brown.

    Our history has its share of odd characters, but surely none odder than John Brown. An Old Testament prophet somehow marooned in Nineteenth Century America, John Brown preached the wrath of God against slave holders and considered himself the bloody sword of the Almighty. It is tempting to write off John Brown as a murderous fanatic, and he was certainly that, but he was also something more.

    The American political process was simply unable to resolve the question of slavery. Each year the anti-slavery and pro-slavery forces battered at each other with no head way made. Bleeding Kansas was the result of Stephen A. Douglas’ plan to simply let the people of the territory resolve the issue. Where ballots cannot, or will not, resolve a question of the first magnitude in a democracy, ultimately bullets will. A man like Brown, totally dedicated to the anti-slavery cause, was only too willing to see violence resolve an issue that the politicians would not.

    Brown attacked a great evil, American slavery, but he was also a murderer, as the five pro-slavery men he had dragged from their houses at night and hacked to death at Pottawotamie in Kansas with home made swords would surely attest. His raid on Harper’s Ferry was a crack-brained expedition that had absolutely no chance of success, and yet his raid helped bring about the huge war that would ultimately end slavery.

    After his mad and futile attempt to start a slave insurrection at Harper’s Ferry in 1859, Brown was tried and hung for treason against the state of Virginia. He considered his trial and treatment quite fair and thanked the Court. Brown impressed quite a few Southerners with the courage with which he met his death, including Thomas Jackson, the future Stonewall, who observed his execution.

    Brown of course lit the fuse for the Civil War. He convinced many moderate Southerners that there were forces in the North all too ready to incite, in the name of abolition, a race war in the South. The guns fired at Harper’s Ferry were actually the first shots of the Civil War.

    Brown, as he stepped forward to the gallows, had a paper and pen thrust into his hand by a woman. Assuming for the last time the role of a prophet, Brown wrote out, “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”

  • “Winik may have overestimated the Confederacy’s ability to effectively engage in guerrilla warfare, but at the very least such a fight would have only dragged the already staggering body count even higher.”

    A low level guerilla war ultimately convinced the North that it was not worth continuing the fight in order to maintain civil rights for blacks in the South. That took 12 years. A guerilla war to gain independence for the South would have been far bloodier and much more resisted by the North. However if the white Southerners had been willing to fight it out for 30 years or so, I think it entirely possible that the North might have decided that the South was never going to be pacified and that it simply wasn’t worth it. However, after perhaps 750,000 dead by the most recent estimates, both the North and the South simply were not ready for continued large scale fighting.

  • I think both sides had had enough, none moreso than the leaders in the field who had seen the horrors of the war up close. But that was another point I was going to raise in the post but forgot to mention. We probably think it inconceivable that we could have had this perpetual mini rebellion with a band of insurgent fighters being a persistent thorn in the side of the federal government. But hasn’t that been more the norm through world history than the perpetual internal peace that has reigned here for 148 years?

  • The EP’s “changing the course of the war” from union-preserving to slave-freeing is oft-repeated, but, imho, arguable. Lincoln publically pressed it as a necessary military measure more than anything else. And he was careful, along with the Union generals, to sell the fighting men that they weren’t now fighting to “free the slaves”, lest they lose their motive to fight (their prejudice. I assure you, not mine.) While Abe might have had the private intent all along to free the slaves, the public case and public aftermath of the EP was not a clarion call of a changed war.

  • “But hasn’t that been more the norm through world history than the perpetual internal peace that has reigned here for 148 years?”

    Indeed. Condsider ETA of the Basque, still fighting the Spanish Civil War more than 77 years after the start of the conflict. Perpetual Irish rebellions against the Brits for centuries is the classic example.

  • Slavery was the underlying cause. For the South it provided the economic driver – King Cotton – to the elites. The South was intent on preserving slavery (and its economy) and extending it. The north’s elites were intent on limiting and abolishing slavery (arguably supporting the South’s economy).

    The radical differences in their societies and economies led to an absence of unified, much less cordial, “intercourse” between the two sections. They became two different peoples – jealous and suspicious of each other.

    Publications of sectional books and demagogues, on both sides, added to sectional hatreds.

    Brown’s raid brought to the surface the sectional hatred on both sides. It inspired the North’s demagogues/elites and terrified the South’s demagogues/elites.

    That being said, somebody please tell me how was OT Dispenser of Almighty God’s Just Retribution, John Brown, different from Nate Turner?

  • “That being said, somebody please tell me how was OT Dispenser of Almighty God’s Just Retribution, John Brown, different from Nate Turner?”

    Almost three decades more of time. The country was ready to split over slavery at the time of John Brown as it was not at the time of Nat Turner. Interestingly enough, Turner’s Rebellion occurred at the same time that an ultimately unsuccessful movement to abolish slavery was gathering steam in the Virginia legislature. Opponents and proponents of slavery both pointed to Turner’s Rebellion, drawing opposite conclusions from the event.

  • Slavery had become more than an economic driver. The South was riding the tiger, and they knew it. There were four million (presumably angry) slaves in the South. In Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, the slave population was comparable to or greater than the white population. The Southern whites were fully aware of what had happened in Haiti. It’s all well and good to be a Bostonian who opposes slavery, but when you’re living in Atlanta you’ve got a lot more at stake. Then some lunatic tries to stir up a slave revolt? You can bet that there was a lot of tension.

  • I love Horowtiz! Confederates in the Attic and Baghdad without a map are both hilariously entertaining yet deeply revealing travelmentaries. A great story teller who ties the past to the present in a supremely enjoyable.

  • There are two portions of “April 1865” which made the biggest impression on me. One is Winik’s blow by blow account of the fall of Richmond, from the Sunday morning church service at which Jefferson Davis received word that it was time to evacuate the capital, through a day and night of chaos, flames and terror, to the arrival of the Union troops and, finally, the arrival of Lincoln himself, bringing great joy to the newly freed slaves. When I finished reading it, I could not help but think that perhaps, this is what Judgment Day and the Second Coming will be like.

    The other, which I have mentioned before on this blog, is Winik’s account of the guerilla war in Missouri, where it was at its most brutal and where Union troops took some of the harshest measures against civilians (e.g. Gen. Ewing’s Order No. 11) in an attempt to quell the violence. He quotes a Union military official as saying “there was something in the hearts of good Christian people which had exploded.” Ever since, I have wondered, if “good Christian people” not that much different from you and I, who could have been my ancestors (or yours), and who were raised in a far more “Christian” society than us, could be literally at one another’s throats over the issue of slavery, what’s to prevent it from happening again over an issue like abortion, gay marriage, gun control, or something else?

  • Indeed. Condsider ETA of the Basque, still fighting the Spanish Civil War more than 77 years after the start of the conflict. Perpetual Irish rebellions against the Brits for centuries is the classic example.

    I think ETA has closed up shop and never amounted to much. The Provisional IRA was much more consequential. British Ulster comprehends about 3% of the population of the UK. For all that, the number of lives claimed over a generation by the most recent Troubles amounts to about 4 years worth of common-and-garden social pathology in Coleman Young’s Detroit.

  • John Brown made his solemn oath to destroy slavery in a church in Hudson, Ohio, which is five miles west of where I grew up.

    Spain, Portugal, France, Holland and England all brought slavery to the New World.
    England was the most effective in building an economy dependent upon slave labor, which remained in place after the War for Independence.

    Brazil, which has the most slaves, freed them in 1871. Brazil did so peacefully by compensating slave owners. It is to our shame as a nation that the South would not consider seriously such a move.

  • I get the following from a 1961 HS AP American History textbook.

    Nat Turner’s slave revolt was a tragic coincidence with Garrison’s start of his uber demagoguery, “The Liberator.” The combination of the two killed southern anti-slavery societies. Turner was a fanatical, semi-educated preacher who had “visions.” He and his gang butchered 60 white Virginians. Coincidentally, Georgia offered a $5,000 reward for Garrison’s arrest and conviction. LIke southerners, I sleep with a weapon under my pillow.

    John Brown was a fanatical, semi-educated lunatic preacher. He had innocent blood on his hands from KS. His plan was to invade the South, raise up the slaves and seize an area as a negro free state. He was backed by thousands of Northern terrorist dollars. He seized Harpers Ferry arsenal with 20 other bloodthirsty terrorists, killing seven innocents.

    In the Brown trial, 17 of Brown’s friends and relatives attested to his insanity. Thirteen of his relatives, including his mother and grandmother, had been insane. VA Governor Wise was so unwise as to send him to the gallows instead of an insane asylum. And so, the abolitionists had their martyr, the South was lost, and 600,000 men died.

    PS, I will never again read anything R. W. Emerson. He compared Bloody Brown to Jesus.

  • Your analysis T.Shaw ignores the violence of the slavery system, and that one reason for the vanishing of southern abolitionism was that most Southern states made it illegal. In some Southern states it was a prison offense to merely possess abolition literature. People merely suspected of being anti-slavery were routinely mobbed in the South, tarred and feathered, and run out under threat of being lynched.

    In regard to Brown he was hardly the only man to resort to violence in regard to the slavery question in th 1850s. I direct your attention, for example, to the Marais des Cygnes massacre:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marais_des_Cygnes_massacre

    When peaceful means do not resolve a question like slavery, violence inevitably will.

  • Mac,

    I love you, man.

    That was one reason it was called “Bloody Kansas.” The Missouri terrorists hadn’t read Marx. They didn’t ride East and try to radicalize underpaid Northern factory slaves, nor try to assassinate Garrison or the New England plutocrats.

    The cited infringements on free speech were engendered by (Bless their hearts!) Nat Turner; the radical fringe abolitionists’ desire to incite mass murder; and the growing potential for thousands of other such crimes. Why did similar “mobbings” of abolitionists also occur in the North?

    Supposedly, the slavery dispute had been settled when the various states ratified the Constitution in 1789.

    I was trying to be factual (added floral phrases).

    A super-majority (about 76%, almost eight in ten) of white southerners did not own one slave. Fewer than 14% (one in eight, lawyers) of white Southerners owned five or more slave. Another 10% owned four or less.

    Why did the south fight for a small minority of evil rich southerners? The Shadow knows.

    One may weigh the facts and make a determination. If one exaggerates and omits the result is opinion, about which Plato wrote, “Opinion is not truth.”

    You and I are entitled to our opinions.

  • “The cited infringements on free speech were engendered by (Bless their hearts!) Nat Turner”

    Some of them pre-dated Nat Turner and most of them were based on the simple human refusal not to stop engaging in manifest evil which is deemed profitable.
    “The Missouri terrorists hadn’t read Marx. They didn’t ride East and try to radicalize underpaid Northern factory slaves, nor try to assassinate Garrison or the New England plutocrats.”

    Marx in America was only known at this time as an occasional European reporter for Horace Greeley. The most ultra of the pro-slavery advocates did say that slavery would expand throughout the country and one day they would sell slaves on Boston common.

    “Why did similar “mobbings” of abolitionists also occur in the North?”

    In the case of the murder of Elijah Lovejoy it was because Alton, Illinois was settled by Southerners and was a hotbed of pro-slavery sentiment. Most of the Democrat party in the North was pro-slavery, and those who were not eventually helped found the Republican party. This ensured that there was going to be anti-abolition sentiment throughout the North. However no Northern state restricted the civil liberties of either the proponents or opponents of slavery.

    “Why did the south fight for a small minority of evil rich southerners? The Shadow knows.”
    Because the average poor white Southerner was afraid of what would happen if slaves were freed and placed on an equality with himself. If it had been simply a matter of keeping slavery so Scarlet O’Hara could continue sipping mint juleps on the veranda, I doubt if the Civil War would have occurred.

    “You and I are entitled to our opinions.”

    Everyone is entitled to his opinion T.Shaw. No one is entitled to his own set of facts.

  • Mindsets definitely chanbged and hardened between Turner and Brown. David Downing points out in his “A South Divided” that in the early 1800s, the majority of abolitionist newspapers and organizations were based in the States that would comprise the Confederacy.

    By 1850, they had vanished.

    I also think its safe to say that the overwhelming majority of Confederate soldiers didn’t enter the war for slavery per se–they followed their States.

    But there was considerable ambivalence about the Cause within Dixie, and it only grew as the war dragged on. After all, the phrase “Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight” originated in the South.

  • Mac,

    Apparently, you rely on wikipedia and other propaganda for your “history.”

    “In the case of the murder of Elijah Lovejoy it was because Alton, Illinois was settled by Southerners and was a hotbed of pro-slavery sentiment. Most of the Democrat party in the North was pro-slavery, and those who were not eventually helped found the Republican party. This ensured that there was going to be anti-abolition sentiment throughout the North. However no Northern state restricted the civil liberties of either the proponents or opponents of slavery.”

    First off, it WASN’T A MURDER. L. AND ABOUT 20 OTHER ARMED ABILITIONISTS/INSURRECTIONISTS WERE IN A BUILDING DEFENDING THE FOURTH PRINTING PRESS HE HAD BROUGHT IN (THE OTHERS WERE ALSO DUMPED IN THE RIVER). FOUR OF THE UNIONIST MOB WERE KILLED FIRST.

    THE MOBS IN VARIOUS NORTHERN STATES AND THE DEM PARTY WERE NOT PRO-SLAVERY. THEY WERE PRO-UNION AND PRO-CONSTITUTION. The lunatic abolitionists were intent on mass violence/civil war and lower class people knew it.

    The slavery question had been decided in 1789 when the various states voted to ratify the Constitution. See Daniel Webster, et al on the sanctity of the Constitution. Such men as Webster had convinced most of the country that the Union was inviolable. The abolitionists preached insurrection and secession. Lovejoy constantly stated the Constitution was evil and the Union must be destroyed.

    Don’t go to wikipedia. Find a history written before the re-writes and look up “broadcloth mob.”

    I could go on, but I’m at work.

    In conclusion, your above slander (“No one is entitled to his own set of facts.”) is evidence of untoward reliance on others’ distortions, omissions, and fabrications to support your rank Lincoln idolatry.

  • Apparently, you rely on wikipedia and other propaganda for your “history.”

    Donald can defend himself, but this is mind-bendingly stupid. As is obvious to anyone who reads this blog, Donald clearly reads a wider selection of Civil War history than anyone, including you, T Shaw.

    It is sometimes true that the widely accepted narratives about history are mistaken or overblown. When it comes to the Civil War; however, there is a concerted effort to rewrite history so as to blur reality and make the Confederate cause just. So before throwing out accusations about others relying on Wikipedia, why don’ t you do a little original research yourself and rethink the neo-confederate propaganda.

  • “Apparently, you rely on wikipedia and other propaganda for your “history.”

    That is the funniest, although not the nuttiest, thing you have written on this blog T.Shaw.

    “First off, it WASN’T A MURDER.”

    It certainly was murder T.Shaw. Not liking someone’s opinions is not a license to attack them.

    “THE MOBS IN VARIOUS NORTHERN STATES AND THE DEM PARTY WERE NOT PRO-SLAVERY. THEY WERE PRO-UNION AND PRO-CONSTITUTION.”

    Putting a statement in caps T.Shaw does not make it any more convincing. Being pro-slavery was not being for the Constitution or the Union, since that august document placed no restrictions on laws being enacted on the state level freeing slaves, as demonstrated by the fact that such laws were passed in many states. Additionally, contrary to the wrongly decided Dred Scott decision, Congress had the power to legislate in regard to slavery in the Federal territories. By constitutional amendment Congress could end slavery at any time. These were uncongenial facts to pro-slavery advocates, hence their ultimate resort to secession and war to protect their sacred right to treat other Children of God as chattel.

    “your above slander’

    Truth is an absolute defense to a charge of slander T.Shaw. When it comes to the Civil War you choose to believe in neo-Confederate myths rather than deal with the actual historical record. I will call you on it every time you choose to comment on the Civil War and slavery on this blog.

  • “In the early 1800s, the majority of abolitionist newspapers and organizations were based in the States that would comprise the Confederacy. By 1850, they had vanished.”

    The hardening of Southern opinion on slavery in the 19th century seems to have followed a trajectory roughly similar to the hardening of liberal/Democrat opinion on abortion in the 20th and 21st centuries. Pro-life liberal Democrats today are as scarce as anti-slavery Southerners were in the 1850s.

Return the Flags

Tuesday, February 19, AD 2013

‘But they’re wearing blue, grandpa. They are yankees.’

‘No son. They’re Americans.’

Rough Riders (1998)

The video above matter of factly displays the flag of the 28th Virginia captured by the 1st Minnesota on July 3, 1863 during the repulse of Picket’s Charge.    The 1st Minnesota of course had its moment of glory when it delayed a Confederate attack with a charge that left 82% of the regiment dead and wounded, buying time with their blood for Union reinforcements to hold the line against the advancing Confederates, and likely saved the Union Army from defeat at Gettysburg.

One can understand the significance of the captured flag for the people of Minnesota.  Of course the flag also has significance to the state of Virginia, and a conflict has been simmering for years over the refusal of Minnesota to return the flag to Virginia:

Minnesota returned fire Wednesday when a Senate committee voted to ignore a request from the state of Virginia and keep a controversial Civil War battle flag.

The flag, which features the stars and bars of the Confederate emblem, was captured by the Minnesota 1st Volunteer Regiment at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The 28th Virginia Infantry regiment, a re-enactment group based in the Roanoke, Va., area, has tried for years to regain possession of the flag.

Members say Minnesota is obligated to return the flag under a 1905 congressional resolution that says flags captured in battles should be returned to their originating states.

In 1998, then-Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III rebuffed a request from the 28th Virginia Infantry regiment, saying the law applied only to flags already in the War Department’s possession. He also ruled that the group had no legal standing to request the flag.

Minnesota refused to return the flag.

Last year, Virginia’s Legislature and governor signed off on a resolution urging the Minnesota Historical Society to ‘‘facilitate’’ the flag’s return to Virginia.

The Historical Society again refused.

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16 Responses to Return the Flags

  • It would be a nice gesture, but I wouldn’t count on it. Too much of temptation to lord their superiority and triumphalism over the South.

    Not all of your Yankee brethren are gentlemen like you, Don.

    😉

  • I actually find this showdown to be refreshing, if only for the reason that it means that states still matter.

  • Cool.

    VA does not have a valid claim.

    However, if I were Minnesota I would not taunt VA with “Come and take it.”

    Given the numbskulls they keep electing, I doubt if many contemporary Minnesotans could carry the laundry of their courageous Forebrears.

  • Case in point.

    Ah, well. Enjoy your gun confiscations and unrestricted abortions-on-demand and same-sex “marriages” up there in Yankee town. The South, meanwhile, will continue to do alright for itself, with or without the flag.

  • That should say “Yankee land”, not “Yankee town”. l certainly didn’t mean to limit my “taunt” to those living within any particular urban locale.

  • “Enjoy your gun confiscations and unrestricted abortions on demand and same sex ‘marriage’ up there in Yankee land.”

    I don’t think ALL “Yankee”, i.e. Union, states are like that. Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota are pretty darn conservative and didn’t SoDak come about as close as any state has to passing abortion laws that directly challenge Roe? At one point, I believe, NOW or some similar organization was advocating a boycott of South Dakota tourism over the issue. Also, it would appear that Wisconsin and Michigan have to some extent “seen the light” and taken a sharp right turn in recent years — WI finally passed concealed carry a couple of years ago, leaving IL as the lone state with no provisions whatsoever for it — though it remains to be seen whether it lasts.

  • Suffice it to say, NONE of the Southern states are like that.

  • Jay, don’t you now live in Ohio, the state that sent the third largest number of troops to fight for the Union?

  • While I may live in Ohio, my heart is in Dixie. I am a Texan and a Virginian. I merely reside in Ohio, and I forgive them for sending that many soldiers to invade my home.

    😉

    As to my comment above to which Elaine was responding, it has generally applicability to “Yankee land”, but I was specifically thinking about the state of New York when I wrote it.

  • Suffice it to say, NONE of the Southern states are like that.

    Sad to say, I worry that Virginia, despite who holds office as of this writing, is on the precipice.

  • And why is Virginia on the precipice? Because of NORTHERN Virginia. Full of … Yankees.

    😉

  • I think most of Ohio thinks of the themselves as “Southern”.

  • Sorry we made you free all your slaves. Next time, fight harder.

  • Yep. All you Yankees got is lording your superiority over the South about something that happened 150 years ago. Good luck with that while being enveloped by rampant secularism.

  • Next time, fight harder.
    Can’t be done.
    Never in history has there been better.
    (Eh, sure it’s up for argument, but that’s my best response to your gag line.)

  • “Never in history has there been better.”

    Certainly in American history. The Confederates kept fighting until virtually every city and most towns were occupied by the Union. They kept fighting until half past midnight for their cause. General Grant had this to say:

    “What General Lee’s feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.”

November 5, 1862: Lincoln Removes McClellan

Monday, November 5, AD 2012

By November 5, 1862, Abraham Lincoln had reached the end of his patience with George B. McClellan, Commnder of the Army of the Potomac.  The story of the War in the East for the Union in 1862 was largely the tragedy of Little Mac.  A superb organizer and trainer of troops, and not a bad strategist, McClellan lacked all tactical ability and  could not win battles.  Additionally, he simply was afraid to risk the fall of the iron dice of war.  McClellan had created the Army of the Potomac and made certain that the men under his command were well supplied, paid on time, and well-equipped, and as the above video indicates most of his men were fond of him.  If some other general could have acted as field commander, McClellan would have made a fine chief of staff.  As it was, the Army of the Potomac was not going to meet with success as long as Lincoln left him in command, and his removal was inevitable.    Here is the text of the order removing McClellan and turning a page in the Union war effort:

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7 Responses to November 5, 1862: Lincoln Removes McClellan

  • My Dear McClellan:

    If you are not using the army, I should like to borrow it for a short while.

    Yours respectfully,

    Abraham Lincoln

    One of my favorite Lincoln letters, and one which encapsulates his issues with McClellan.

  • TELEGRAM TO GENERAL G. B. McCLELLAN.

    WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON CITY, October 24 [25?], 1862.

    MAJOR-GENERAL McCLELLAN:

    I have just read your despatch about sore-tongued and fatigued horses. Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything?

    A. LINCOLN.

    On another occasion Lincoln asked an aide what they had just visited. The aide said The Army of the Potomac. Lincoln responded that they had just visted McClellan’s personal body guard.

  • McClellan loved the Army of the Potomac that he had created and he hated the idea of risking it in battle. Unfortunately to be a good soldier one must both love the Army and then see parts of what one loves be destroyed before one’s eyes in order to win battles. This dichotomy was brilliantly explored in this clip from the movie Gettysburg:

  • McClellan is one of those historical personages I would like to have observed in person. There is no doubt the AoP loved him as much as he loved them, but none of that inspiring charisma shows up in his correspondence.

    Alas for the Union that Lincoln gave the Army to Burnside…

  • “that Lincoln gave the Army to Burnside…”

    Burnside, unlike McClellan, a general who had no redeeming features, as opposed to his successor Hooker who might have done well except that in Lee and Jackson he was up against the greatest military partnership in American history.

  • Meade was competent, but if only Hancock had been offered, or Reynolds accepted, command.

    Well, it turned out as it turned out.

  • I think Meade was competent as a Chief of Staff for Grant. On his own his Mine Run campaign in the fall of 1863 showed severe limitations.

Review of the Lincoln Trailer

Thursday, October 18, AD 2012

The idea of reviewing movie trailers I find somewhat humorous, but I think that Grace Randolph in the above video does a good job of attempting such a review in regard to the Lincoln movie by Spielberg being released in November.  In an earlier post last week, which may be read here, I took issue with Spielberg’s historical ignorance and/or political bias regarding how, in his view, the Democrat and Republican parties have switched positions.  This will not deter me from attending the film, as I attempt not to allow the politics of those involved with a film to influence my opinion of the film.  Having said that, like Ms. Randolph I have concerns as to whether Daniel Day-Lewis will create the suspension of disbelief to allow us to view him as Lincoln in the film.

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Did John Pope Claim that His Headquarters Was in the Saddle?

Thursday, August 30, AD 2012

 

One hundred and fifty years ago today General John Pope was busily engaged in having his Union Army of Virginia thrashed by the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia at the Second Battle of Bull Run.  In the 1880’s Pope wrote an article for Century Magazine, one of its many articles by Civil War commanders which would later come out in the four volume set Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, in which Pope did his unconvincing best to defend his conduct in this fiasco.  Go here to read it.  At the end of the article Pope claimed that he never said that his headquarters was in the saddle.

There are other matters which, although not important, seem not out of place in this paper. A good deal of cheap wit has been expended upon a fanciful story that I published an order or wrote a letter or made a remark that my “headquarters would be in the saddle.” It is an expression harmless and innocent enough, but it is even stated that it furnished General Lee with the basis for the only joke of his life. I think it due to army tradition, and to the comfort of those who have so often repeated this ancient joke in the days long before the civil war, that these later wits should not be allowed with impunity to poach on this well-tilled manor. This venerable joke I first heard when a cadet at West Point, and it was then told of that gallant soldier and gentleman, General W. J. Worth, and I presume it could be easily traced back to the Crusades and beyond. Certainly I never used this expression or wrote or dictated it, nor does any such expression occur in any order of mine; and as it was perhaps served its time and effected its purpose, it ought to be retired.

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4 Responses to Did John Pope Claim that His Headquarters Was in the Saddle?