Another Online Resource

If you like sketches like these …

… then you might like to look at this:

CHARLES WELLINGTON REED PAPERS

The papers of Civil War soldier and artist Charles Wellington Reed, who served with the Ninth Independent Battery, Massachusetts Light Artillery, includes approximately seven hundred sketches and correspondence relating primarily to the Civil War. The letters are often prefaced by drawings which further illustrate not only the rigors of military life, but also the amusing and mundane aspects. The contents of the letters and corresponding sketches well document the ways in which soldiers adapted to seasonal changes in the weather, how they amused themselves, and the routines of camp life in the Army of the Potomac.

Online presentation: http://www.loc.gov/collection/charles-reed/about-this-collection/

Finding aid in html: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/eadmss.ms001005

Finding aid in pdf: http://rs5.loc.gov/service/mss/eadxmlmss/eadpdfmss/2001/ms001005.pdf

Reed won the Medal of Honor for his actions at Gettysburg in rescuing battery commander Captain John Bigelow on July 2, 1863, when the 9th Massachusetts Battery came under attack that afternoon.

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Confederate Heritage Under Fire in Ferguson, Missouri?

We hear a great deal about the proper use of Confederate symbols, including the Confederate flag, and passionate defenses of the proper display of the Confederate battle flag.

Now comes word of the Ku Klux Klan’s interest in injecting itself in the situation at Ferguson, Missouri. Yup, just when you thought things could not get uglier.

Are we going to see something like this in Ferguson, Missouri?

Even some Klansmen seem confused about this. Others are not so confused.

I await the passionate protests by Confederate heritage groups against a white supremacist group using what its defenders deem a scared banner for such a purpose. After all, they have no problem attacking other people who don’t like the display of the flag in certain contexts.

If the Confederate Battle Flag does not represent white supremacy, folks, then let’s hear you denounce the KKK for using it … and let’s hear it with the same intensity and frequency that you use when you assail other groups.

Restore the honor.

I’m waiting.

The League of the South and the Sons of Confederate Veterans: A Poll

Just curious as to your impressions.

Research Exercise: Confederate Soldiers on Tariff Policy

I have heard it said that since the correspondence of Confederate soldiers does not often mention that the soldier in question was fighting to protect the institution of slavery, Confederate soldiers did not fight to protect slavery … and, ergo, the Confederacy was not established to protect slavery.

Let’s stipulate for a moment that this reasoning is on the mark, and let’s apply it elsewhere … specifically the oft-cited cause, the tariff. Surely, if the Confederacy was established to protest protective tariffs, then Confederate soldiers would write home about how they were risking life and limb to protest the imposition of protective tariffs.

So, folks, show me those wartime letters. Thanks.

August 19, 1864: Lincoln Stays the Course on Emancipation

Having pondered the issue of emancipation and war aims for several days, Abraham Lincoln was ready to explain what he had decided and why. He shared his thinking with Wisconsin Alexander Randall and Judge Joseph T. Mills. Mills left the following entry in his diary describing what the president told them:

August 19, 1864
The President was free & animated in conversation. I was astonished at his elasticity of spirits. Says Gov Randall, why cant you Mr P. seek some place of retirement for a few weeks. You would be reinvigorated. Aye said the President, 3 weeks would do me no good—my thoughts my solicitude for this great country follow me where ever I go. I don’t think it is personal vanity, or ambition—but I cannot but feel that the weal or woe of this great nation will be decided in the approaching canvas. My own experience has proven to me, that there is no program intended by the democratic party but that will result in the dismemberment of the Union. But Genl McClellan is in favor of crushing out the rebellion, & he will probably be the Chicago candidate. The slightest acquaintance with arithmetic will prove to any man that the rebel armies cannot be destroyed with democratic strategy. It would sacrifice all the white men of the north to do it. There are now between 1 & 200 thousand black men now in the service of the Union. These men will be disbanded, returned to slavery & we will have to fight two nations instead of one. I have tried it. You cannot concilliate the South, when the mastery & control of millions of blacks makes them sure of ultimate success. You cannot concilliate the South, when you place yourself in such a position, that they see they can achieve their independence. The war democrat depends upon conciliation. He must confine himself to that policy entirely. If he fights at all in such a war as this he must economise life & use all the means which God & nature puts in his power. Abandon all the posts now possessed by black men surrender all these advantages to the enemy, & we would be compelled to abandon the war in 3 weeks. We have to hold territory. Where are the war democrats to do it. The field was open to them to have enlisted & put down this rebellion by force of arms, by concilliation, long before the present policy was inaugurated. There have been men who have proposed to me to return to slavery the black warriors of Port Hudson & Olustee to their masters to conciliate the South. I should be damned in time & in eternity for so doing. The world shall know that I will keep my faith to friends & enemies, come what will. My enemies say I am now carrying on this war for the sole purpose of abolition. It is & will be carried on so long as I am President for the sole purpose of restoring the Union. But no human power can subdue this rebellion without using the Emancipation lever as I have done. Freedom has given us the control of 200 000 able bodied men, born & raised on southern soil. It will give us more yet. Just so much it has sub[t]racted from the strength of our enemies, & instead of alienating the south from us, there are evidences of a fraternal feeling growing up between our own & rebel soldiers. My enemies condemn my emancipation policy. Let them prove by the history of this war, that we can restore the Union without it. The President appeared to be not the pleasant joker I had expected to see, but a man of deep convictions & an unutterable yearning for the success of the Union cause. His voice was pleasant—his manner earnest & cordial. As I heard a vindication of his policy from his own lips, I could not but feel that his mind grew in stature like his body, & that I stood in the presence of the great guiding intellect of the age, & that those huge Atlantian shoulders were fit to bear the weight of mightiest monarchies. His transparent honesty, his republican simplicity, his gushing sympathy for those who offered their lives for their country, his utter forgetfulness of self in his concern for his country, could not but inspire me with confidence, that he was Heavens instrument to conduct his people thro this red sea of blood to a Canaan of peace & freedom. Comr. Dole then came in. We were about to retire, but he insisted on our remaining longer. Dismissing the present state of the country, he entertained us with reminiscences of the past—of the discussions between himself & Douglass. He said he was accused of of [sic] joking. In his later speeches, the seriousness of the theme prevented him from using anecdotes. Mr. Harris a democratic orator of Ill, once appealed to his audience in this way. If these republicans get into power, the darkies will be allowed to come to the polls & vote. Here comes forward a white man, & you ask him who will you vote for. I will vote for S A Douglass. Next comes up a sleek pampered negro. Well Sambo, who do you vote for. I vote for Massa Lincoln. Now asked the orator, what do you think of that. Some old farmer cried out, I think the darkey showd a damd sight of more sense than the white man. It is such social tete a tetes among his friends that enables Mr Lincoln to endure mental toils & application that would crush any other man. The President now in full flow of spirits, scattered his repartee in all directions. He took his seat on the sofa by my side. Said I Mr President I was in your reception room to day. It was dark. I suppose that clouds & darkness necessarily surround the secrets of state. There in a corner I saw a man quietly reading who possessed a remarkable physiognomy. I was rivetted to the spot. I stood & stared at him He raised his flashing eyes & caught me in the act. I was compelled to speak. Said I, Are you the President. No replied the stranger, I am Frederick Douglass. Now Mr P. are you in favor of miscegenation. That’s a democratic mode of producing good Union men, & I dont propose to infringe on the patent. We parted from his Excellency, with firmer purpose to sustain the government, at whose head there stands a man who combines in his person all that is valuable in progress in conservatism—all that is hopeful in progress.

Whether Lincoln ever wavered on the issue of emancipation remains an issue of debate for some people. There is nothing to suggest that he did anything other than try out the advice given him by several leading Republicans in one of the drafts of his letter to Democratic newspaper editor Charles Robinson. But it was now clear that he would stay the course, come what may.

August 19, 1864: Frederick Douglass Meets Abraham Lincoln

On August 18, 1864, Abraham Lincoln learned that Frederick Douglass would be visiting the White House the following day. The president had something of great import to discuss with the abolitionist. The two men had worked together before on enlisting African Americans in the Union army, but this time it was something different.

In 1883, Douglass recalled the August 19th meeting:

The main subject on which he wished to confer with me was as to the means most desirable to be employed outside the army to induce the slaves in the rebel States to come within the Federal lines. The increasing opposition to the war, in the North, and the mad cry against it, because it was being made an abolition war, alarmed Mr. Lincoln, and made him apprehensive that a peace might be forced upon him which would leave still in slavery all who had not come within our lines. What he wanted was to make his proclamation as effective as possible in the event of such a peace. He said, in a regretful tone, “The slaves are not coming so rapidly and so numerously to us as I had hoped.” I replied that the slaveholders knew how to keep such things from their slaves, and probably very few knew of his proclamation. “Well,” he said, “I want you to set about devising some means of making them acquainted with it, and for bringing them into our lines.” He spoke with great earnestness and much solicitude, and seemed troubled by the attitude of Mr. Greeley and by the growing impatience at the war that was being manifested throughout the North. He said he was being accused of protracting the war beyond its legitimate object and of failing to make peace when he might have done so to advantage. He was afraid of what might come of all these complaints, but was persuaded that no solid and lasting peace could come short of absolute submission on the part of the rebels, and he was not for giving them rest by futile conferences with unauthorized persons, at Niagara Falls, or elsewhere. He saw the danger of premature peace, and, like a thoughtful and sagacious man as he was, wished to provide means of rendering such consummation as harmless as possible. I was the more impressed by this benevolent consideration because he before said, in answer to the peace clamor, that his object was to save the Union, and to do so with or without slavery. What he said on this day showed a deeper moral conviction against slavery than I had ever seen before in anything spoken or written by him. I listened with the deepest interest and profoundest satisfaction, and, at his suggestion, agreed to undertake the organizing a hand of scouts, composed of colored men, whose business should be somewhat after the original plan of John Brown, to go into the rebel States, beyond the lines of our armies, and carry the news of emancipation, and urge the slaves to come within our boundaries.

Douglass left Washington thinking about how to implement Lincoln’s idea. On August 29, Douglass wrote Lincoln as follows:

Rochester: N. Y. August 29th 1864

Sir: Since the interview with wh. Your Excellency was pleased to honor me a few days ago, I have freely conversed with several trustworthy and Patriotic Colored men concerning your suggestion that something should be speedily done to inform the slaves in the Rebel states of the true state of affairs in relation to them sho and to warn them as to what will be their probable condition should peace be concluded while they remain within the Rebel lines: and more especially to urge upon them the necessity of making their escape. All with whom I have thus far spoken on the subject, concur in the wisdom and benevolence of the Idea, and some of them think it practicable. That every slave who escapes from the Rebel states is a loss to the Rebellion and a gain to the Loyal Cause, I need not stop to argue the proposition is self evident. The negro is the stomach of the rebellion. I will therefore briefly submit at once to your Excellency — the ways and means by which many such persons may be wrested from the enemy and brought within our lines:

1st Let a general agt. be appointed by your Excellency charged with the duty of giving effect to your idea as indicated above: Let him have the means and power to employ twenty or twenty five good men, having the cause at heart, to act as his agents: 2d Let these Agents which shall be selected by him, have permission to visit such points at the front as are most accessible to large bodies of slaves in the Rebel States: Let each of the said agts have power — to appoint one subagent or more in the locality where he may be required to operate: the said sub agent shall be thoroughly acquainted with the country — and well instructed as to the representations he is to make to the slaves: — but his cheif duty will be to conduct such squads of slaves as he may be able to collect, safely within the Loyal lines: Let the sub agents for this service be paid a sum not exceeding two dolls– per day while upon active duty.

3dly In order that these agents shall not be arrested or impeded in their work –let them be properly ordered to report to the General Commanding the several Departments they may visit, and recieve from them permission to pursue thier vocation unmolested. 4th Let provision be made that the slaves or Freed men thus brought within our lines shall receive subsistence until such of them as are fit shall enter the service of the Country or be otherwise employed and provided for: 5thly Let each agent appointed by the General agent be required to keep a strict acct of all his transactions, — of all monies recieved and paid out, of the numbers and the names of slaves brought into our lines under his auspices, of the plantations visited, and of everything properly connected with the prosecution of his work, and let him be required to make full reports of his proceedings — at least, once a fortnight to the General Agent.

6th Also, Let the General Agt be required to keep a strict acct of all his transactions with his agts and report to your Excellency or to an officer designated by you to recieve such reports. 7th Let the General Agt be paid a salary sufficient to enable him to employ a competant Clerk, and let him be stationed at Washington — or at some other Point where he can most readily receive communications from and send communications to his Agents: The General Agt should also have a kind of roving Commission within our lines, so that he may have a more direct and effective oversight of the whole work and thus ensure activity and faithfulness on the part of his agents–

This is but an imperfect outline of the plan — but I think it enough to give your Excellency an Idea of how the desirable work shall be executed.

Your Obedient Servant

Fredk Douglass

The League of the South and Confederate History

Recently Michael Hill offered a rather straightforward statement of his understanding of the history of the Confederacy that pulled no punches.

Basically, Hill links the creation of the Confederacy with the defense of slavery and white supremacy. He does so in what has become a rather traditional attack on so-called “Rainbow Confederates,” who in his eyes are “politically correct.” However, Hill clearly disagrees with some of the historical interpretations offered here recently about the Confederacy by such people as the rainbow-sounding “Melissa Blue” and Ben Jones, chief of heritage operations for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

One must admit that the League of the South has been straightforward and candid about its understanding of history. I’d question whether some of the people Hill labels as “Rainbow Confederates” are in fact as tolerant as he may make them out to be. Indeed, I think the racial views of several so-called “Rainbow Confederates” are much more in line with the Southern Nationalist Network, Occidental Dissent, and the League of the South than certain folks would want to admit. Nevertheless, I think in other cases there is much distance indeed. When someone from the SCV tells me that a sign of his racial views is his membership in the NAACP, I’m tempted to remind him that many of the people he claims to represent characterize the NAACP as a “hate group.”

To me the issue is not what the League of the South believes. That message has been fairly consistent, and it has been made public a number of times. Indeed, there is a great deal of merit in their view of the Confederacy’s foundations, in large part because that interpretation is based on what secessionists and Confederates actually said. It’s not whether you have 1,200 books in your library: it’s which books you have, whether you’ve read them, and how your understanding of history is shaped by what you’ve read.

Simply put, one can reject their message to today’s America while accepting that their interpretation of the past has merit. Or one can pose in pictures with white supremacists and march with white supremacists and call them good guys and good friends, which renders whining about “guilt by association” ludicrous. Certain people simply don’t have the courage of their convictions.

As I’ve already said, the Mid-South Flaggers deserve a lot of credit for not ducking this issue. They understand what the League of the South is all about, and they have started to move to disassociate themselves from the group. Not so the Virginia Flaggers or the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Yet in such inaction is the suspicion that one does not denounce what one privately embraces, or that one accepts the support of groups one claims to oppose.

We know that the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Virginia Flaggers can be very vocal in their opposition to groups with whom they do not agree … so what are we to make of their silence in this instance?

Seems Like I Struck a Nerve

Well, it appears that the League of the South now knows what the Mid-South Flaggers think of their participation in a recent event at Oxford, Mississippi.
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Again, I appreciate the candor Brad Griffin and his associates display in this exchange of views … especially when it comes to H. K. Edgerton. Guess you know where you stand now, H. K.

UPDATE: I guess exposing this exchange embarrassed the League of the South, which immediately removed it from their Facebook page … just a little too late, I think.