Friday, January 31, 2014

January 31, 1864

January 31, 1864

—An editorial from a Seneca County, New York, newspaper reveals the essence of how most Democrats and Copperheads in the North felt about slavery, abolition, and black people:

Politics in Petticoats.

On Sunday evening last, an Abolitionist of the feminine gender undertook to enlighten the people of Seneca Falls upon the dark subject of the Negro. The meeting was held in the Abolition temple of the Wesleyan Church, and was provided [?] over and encouraged by the clergyman who officiates at the Abolition altar of the Church. A large crowd was on hand, most of whom, probably, like myself, out of curiosity to witness the masculine freaks of a masculine woman, and the better to draw the contrast between a true lady in the quiet sphere of domestic life, and one who perverts the position which Providence originally assigned to her, by mounting a political forum, and haranguing a mixed multitude – male and female.

It appeared by her story that she had been "the General Superintendent," as she called herself, of eight or nine hundred contrabands, at the negro depot of the Government in South Carolina. . . . She acknowledged that the negroes were naturally lazy, and that the year 1862 proved a very unprofitable one for Uncle Sam in his negro farming speculation; that the one hundred Yankee Abolition school-teachers who went down there to try to teach the young niggers, were completely discouraged, and all returned home to the North, utterly disgusted with their lovely employment; but that now matters look more encouraging, because the Administration is soon to sell all those beautiful plantations to the darkies at $1, 25 per acre, so that they will have a fine chance to revel among the luxuries of their former refined masters. This she maintains is to be the blessed result of our glorious civil war. . . .

The meeting behaved very civilly, and only one or two faint efforts at applause were attempted, which didn’t produce the exhilarating effect that was intended, and the crowd dispersed after they had been invited by the clergyman to buy some pictures of the lady, purporting to show some dreadful effects of slavery. It is very evident that Abolition harangues do not draw the sympathy of respectable people now, as they formerly did in the flourishing of Old John Brown and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30, 1864

January 30, 1864

---Gen. Sherman has arrived at Vicksburg to take command of what is left of the Army of the Tennessee, and move against the remnant of the Confederate Army of Mississippi which is east of Jackson.  Sherman has 20,000 men in Hurlbut’s XVI Corps and McPherson’s XVII Corps.  Sherman has also consolidated the U.S. cavalry units in the area under the command of Gen. William Sooy Smith, who will take these 7,000 troopers south from Memphis to strike at Polk’s northern flank.  Sherman has also ordered two regiments of black troops to move up the Yazoo to threaten the railroads, seize cotton, and destroy any property and war material that could possibly aid the Rebels—including interdicting guerilla activity in the Yazoo Delta area.  Sherman’s orders include this:  “If the enemy burns cotton we don’t care. It is their property and not ours, but so long as they have cotton, corn, horses, or anything, we will appropriate it or destroy it so long as the confederates in war act in violence to us and our lawful commerce. They must be active friends or enemies. They cannot be silent or neutral.”

---The Federals begin to assembly a new army under Gen. Benjamin Butler.  The rumor is that the new force will head to Mobile, but Gen. Lee correctly surmises that this army is intended for a new campaign up the James river to threaten Richmond from the southeast.

---Pres. Lincoln writes to Gen. Frederick Steele, in command of Federal forces in Arkansas, concerning the upcoming Union elections in that state: “Possibly the best you can do would be to help them on their own plan. . . . Be firm and resolute against such as you can perceive would make confusion and division.”

---John Beauchamp Jones, a Confederate Ward Department clerk, writes in his journal about developments such as the new draft law, trading cotton with the Yankees, and his own high hopes for Confederate victory:

         JANUARY 30TH.—The Senate has passed a new Conscription Act, putting all residents between the ages of eighteen and fifty-five in the military service for the war. Those over forty-five to be detailed by the President as commissary quartermasters, Nitre Bureau agents, provost guards, clerks, etc. This would make up the enormous number of 1,500,000 men! The express companies are to have no detail of men fit for the field, but the President may exempt a certain class for agricultural purposes, which, of course, can be revoked whenever a farmer refuses to sell at schedule prices, or engages in speculation or extortion. Thus the President becomes almost absolute, and the Confederacy a military nation. The House will pass it with some modifications. Already the Examiner denounces it, for it allows only one owner or editor to a paper, and just sufficient printers,—no assistant editors, no reporters, no clerks, etc. This will save us, and hasten a peace. . . .
            Mr. Goodman, President of the Mississippi Railroad, proposes to send cotton to the Yankees in exchange for implements, etc., to repair the road, and Lieut.-Gen. (Bishop) Polk favors the scheme.
            Commissary-General Northrop likewise sent in a proposal from an agent of his in Mississippi, to barter cotton with the Yankees for subsistence, and he indorses an approval on it. I trust we shall be independent this summer. . . .

            I shall hope for better times now. We shall have men enough, if the Secretary and conscription officers do not strain the meshes of the seine too much, and the currency will be reduced. The speculators and extortioners, in great measure, will be circumvented, for the new conscription will take them from their occupations, and they will not find transportation for their wares.

January 29, 1864

January 29, 1864

---Was the War really about slavery?  The Charleston Mercury publishes an editorial that mocks the North for its racial “amalgamation” tendencies, while praising the South as a white race paradise  Notice how this piece pull out the stops on every variety of racial fear politics:

CHARLESTON MERCURY, January 29, 1864

Slaveholders and Non-Slaveholders of the South.

We believe that there is not in the world a more harmonious population than the white population of the Southern States. Every white man feels and knows that the negro is not of his race, that one race is the superior race, and he is one of the superior race. A Northerner may prate his dogma all day, of all men being equal; and may strive to persuade the white man of the South that he is on a dead level with the negro; but he will strive in vain. Facts are stronger than theories. The white man knows his superiority, and disdains the logic which would degrade him to the level of the negro. With the same privileges and rights, his affinities are with his race. All his aspirations, his security, his interests, are bound up in their destiny. Nor is he left to speculation to know the fate of white men in the community of liberated negroes. . . .

Suppose the object of Northern Abolitionists then accomplished, and the four millions of slaves liberated at the South–what becomes of the poorer whites? The rich–the sagacious–will leave the country. None will remain, but those who are unable to leave it, or who do not realize the fearful terrors of their condition. A strife will arise between the white men who remain in the South and the negroes, compared with which the atrocities and crimes of ordinary wars are peace itself. The midnight glare of the incendiary’s torch will illuminate the country from one end to another; while pillage, violence, murder, poisons and rape will fill the air with the demoniac revelry of all the bad passions of an ignorant, semi-barbarous race, urged to madness by the licentious teachings of our Northern brethren. A war of races–a war of extermination–must arise, like that which took place in St. Domingo.

Or, possibly, suppose no antagonism between the two races–and harmony and identification takes place–amalgamation must be the result. There is no portion of our people who contemplate such a fate with as much horror as our white non-slaveholders–because they are the people who will be exposed to it in the wreck of our institutions. . . . The consequence is, that there are no people in the South who abhor Abolitionists more than the non-slaveholders of the South, or who are more ready to resist their machinations. With them, it is not only the patriotic hatred of a public foe who would involve the country in convulsion and ruin, but it is also the hatred of a social, personal enemy–the Black Republican–who would force upon them the alternative either of the most terrible degradation and barbarism, or of slaughtering the negro, or being slaughtered by him, in a war of extermination.

The people of the North cannot, or will not, understand this state of things. They gloat with secret joy at the anticipations of conflicts among the citizens of the South, by which their fiendish policy will be consummated. The few negroes they have amongst them do not jostle them, in their public marts, their theatres, their ballrooms. . . . But if Abolition meant the existence suddenly of four millions of emancipated negroes amongst their laboring population, their equals, there would not be a single Abolitionist even in New England. The doom they are ready to visit upon the poor white man of the South they would not dare to propose to the white laborer of the North. They would be crushed out, like grapes in the wine press.

Our people–slaveholders and non-slaveholders–they will find not unworthy of the great and free destiny before them. They are one in sympathy, interest and feelings. They have equal rights and privileges–one fate. They will stand together in defence of their liberties and institutions, and will yet exist at the South a powerful and prosperous confederation of commonwealths, controlling the welfare and destiny of other nations, but controlled by none.

(Source: Seven Score and Ten: The Civil War Sesquicentennial Day by Day, )

January 28, 1864

January 28, 1864

---In East Tennessee, the victorious Gen. Samuel Sturgis, commanding Foster’s cavalry, pushes his divisions forward towards Dandridge, and collides with Frank Armstrong’s division of Confederate cavalry.  The Federals push forward in time to see Rebel infantry crossing the river towards them, at least three brigades strong.  Sturgis decides these odds are too severe, and conducts a fighting retreat. 

---Alexander G. Downing, a young sergeant in the 11th Iowa Infantry Regiment, writes in his journal about the Army of the Tennessee, under the command of William T. Sherman, gearing up for the Meridian campaign:

Thursday, 28th—Some of the troops that are going out on an expedition to Meridian, started on their way this morning. It is rumored that the Seventeenth and Sixteenth Army Corps are to make a raid across the State of Mississippi for the purpose of destroying the railroad running from Vicksburg to Meridian, and that General Sherman is to be in command of the expedition.

January 27, 1864

January 27, 1864

---Battle of Fair Garden, Tennessee:  Near the Little Pigeon River, about ten miles east of Sevierville, Sturgis has deployed his divisions, under Garrard, Wolford, and Edward McCook.  McCook sends forward one of his brigade under Archibald Campbell.  Col. Campbell has a Michigan regiment and a Pennsylvania regiment dismount, and they advance through the wooded area on foot, along with a battery of artillery.  They charge (on foot) Morgan’s Rebels, and drive them out of their position.  Another Federal brigade under LaGrange advances on foot, and attacks another part of Morgan’s brigade.  LaGrange’s men, outnumbered, nevertheless drive the Rebels back quickly, and capture the Southern artillery.  The Rebels counterattack, but are stopped with heavy losses.  Campbell pushes forward again, and finally the 4th Indiana make a mounted charge and capture the Rebel artillery.  Rebel losses exceed 165, and the Union losses are minor.  Union Victory.

---Sergeant L.G. Sleeper, of the 44th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, after having spent a furlough at home, returns to his regiment and writes this letter to Secretary of War Seddon about the depredations of Confederate cavalry (not Union) against his family and property in Southern Mississippi, thus revealing one of the great ironies of Southern life in wartime:

Having just returned from my home in Amite County, Miss., to which place I was sent by order of General Hardee, to obtain clothing for the company to which I belong, I am compelled to complain of the shameful conduct of our own soldiers for the manner in which my place, effects, and family have been treated by Logan's brigade of cavalry in South Mississippi, now commanded by General Wirt Adams. Last summer they camped near my place for ten days. During that time they stole 6 of my mules and horses, killed nearly all my hogs and sheep, destroyed my corn by turning their horses in the field when the corn was ripening. As many as 10 to 40 men and officers would come to the house, order their meals of victuals, and have their horses fed; and that at a time when my family were buying their subsistence at the most exorbitant prices.

This, sir, is to inquire of you if I have no recourse upon our Government, and if I am not entitled to damages for the outrage thus perpetrated upon one, a soldier, who has a large family of negroes, a wife and child, dependent upon their own exertions for a support during my absence? As for my conduct as a soldier, I refer you to the indorsement of my commanding officer.