Fighting Lost Causes in the American Civil War

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

PBS series, The Civil War by Ken BurnsIn the celebrated PBS series by Ken Burns, The Civil War (1990), Southern historian Shelby Foote provides excellent anecdotes that embroider the documentary. In one of these vignettes, Foote mentions a dialogue between a Confederate and a Union soldier, in which the latter asks, "Why do you fight?" The Confederate soldier responds, "Because you are here." Foote adds, "Which is not a bad answer!"

In another vignette, Foote opines, "The North was fighting with one arm tied behind its back." He referred to the gigantic disparity in resources between North and South. That being the case, the North should have done well to untie both arms immediately after the First Battle of Bull Run (a.k.a., First Manassas; July 21, 1861), fought at the outskirts of Washington, D.C. It was here, incidentally, Brigadier General Thomas J. Jackson stood his ground, earned the nickname "Stonewall," and passed through the mist of history into legend.

No Walk in the Park

Both armies were nearly equally matched at that first encounter. Both armies were inexperienced and poorly trained. After the disorganized engagement, though, the Union army was not only defeated, but its retreat degenerated into an inglorious rout. In fact, the road to the Capital was left wide open as Union soldiers panicked. The North should have then known that despite the disparity of resources, the war would be no walk in the park. President Abraham Lincoln saw the writing on the wall and called for the enlistment of another 500,000 men into the army. Enlistment was then no problem with Northern patriotism aroused. But two years later in 1863, after the Emancipation Proclamation had been pronounced, there were riots in New York and other Northern cities against the draft. The rioters had to be suppressed with force.

Initially, Lincoln had referred to the need for collecting duties and imposts in the South; then the preservation of the Union. Finally, he published the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed only the slaves in the rebellious states (photo, below) and turned the war into a moral crusade against slavery.

Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in rebellious statesThis Proclamation, though, was not issued until January 1, 1863, nearly two years after the outbreak of war and three months after the Union victory at the bloodiest campaign of the war, the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862).

High Protective Tariffs

Slavery was certainly a cause of the war, another was the high protective tariffs the North imposed on the South to protect and expand it's manufacturing and industrial interests in competition with Europe.

In fact, the South seriously began to consider its economic position relative to the North as early as a generation earlier, at least since the imposition of "The Tariff of Abomination" of 1828 during the Presidency of John Quincy Adams. Again, under President Andrew Jackson (1829–1837), South Carolina raised the specter of possible civil war over the revenue tariff of 1832. The imposition of high protective tariffs threatened not only Southern cotton interests but also life in the South that depended on manufactured goods produced in and imported cheaper from Europe.

Tariffs meant that all the manufactured goods including farm machinery, tools, even clothes and textiles in which Southern cotton was used, had to be bought from the North at high prices. Those same goods better and cheaper when imported from, let's say England, France, or Holland, became prohibitively more expensive because of the imposition of protective tariffs —  protecting Northern interests at the expense of the South. The Morrill Tariff was no exception and it passed the Senate on March 2, 1861. Together with Lincoln's inauguration's speech two days later, the two events were sadly the last straws to break the camel's back for the advent of civil war.(1,2)

Abraham LincolnIn his inauguration speech, President Abraham Lincoln (photo, left) said: "The power confided in me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property, and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion — no using force against, or among the people anywhere." So duties and imposts (i.e., tariffs) were again mentioned on the very eve of the conflict. The invasion would come after the events at Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861, when the South is believed to have been manipulated to fire the first shots in Charleston Harbor.(1,2)

As for slavery,  Lincoln later wrote in a letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862: "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."(3)

Slavery — Was the Civil War Necessary?
 
Protective tariffs were so abhorrent to the South that the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, in his February 18, 1861 inaugural address, announced that the Southern economy would be based on free trade, and the Constitution of the Confederacy that followed prohibited protective tariffs and permitted only the imposition of revenue tariffs that were absolutely necessary to run the central Confederate government. Besides slavery, there were other unresolved issues such as states’ rights, the right of secession, and the resented high protective tariffs that kept the agricultural South subservient to the industrial North.

With the victory of the North, protective tariffs, posited Southern politicians, would be passed repeatedly and would make the North an industrial giant and financial colossus, while the rural South would remain agricultural, lagging behind in industry, commerce, wealth, and educational standards.

Peaceful emancipation by gradual manumission and the purchasing of the liberty of the human beings in bondage would have been morally sound, cheaper, and a more amicable solution than fighting a four-year sanguinary and fratricidal war. The war in fact left nearly 700,000Aftermath of the Battle of Antietam 1862 by Matthew Brady young men dead (photo, right), the bloodiest war in American history with the possible exception of World War II.(4) Yes, the Northern victory preserved the Union and freed the slaves, but in its wake it destroyed not only the Southern infrastructure and economy, but also disrupted the lives of most citizens in the South — this included the vast majority of citizens (70% of Southerners) who did not actually own any slaves and who resented only Northern interference in Southern affairs. In the final analysis, it is true many Northern Union soldiers enlisted to fight for a noble ideal; many more because it was their patriotic duty to do so; others because, like Southerners, they were drafted. But the Confederate soldiers also fought to protect their homes and their way of life, not to defend slavery or the lofty issue of tariffs.

In the wake of Lincoln's assassination, a revengeful Republican Reconstruction policy worsened the situation for both blacks and whites in the South. It was intended to punish rather than redress wrongs and not to improve relations between the former slaves and the white population. Thus, it left the South way behind the North in race relations, as well as dramatically lagging behind in the fields of finance, industry, manufacturing, commerce, not to mention education. No wonder the war and Reconstruction sowed the seeds of dissension and distrust for generations in the defeated and humiliated South towards a victorious and imperious North.

Failing Extrication, Fight a Lost Cause to the End!

The South fought for a lost cause, just like the Indigenous Americans in the West fought for a lost cause — the preservation of their culture and way of life. The South also fought for its economic survival. It was a pity the economy and the climate conspired to force the South to Abolitionist Flyerdepend on the "peculiar institution" inherited from the European enslavers. The evil of slavery sooner or later, though, had to be abolished and eradicated. The North, inclined to finance, commerce, and manufacturing, was not at all dependent on the evil, and it was easy for them and their region to push for abolition, attaining a moral high ground while suffering no economic pain in return. The South wasn't so fortunate. Southern economy was dependent on the evil, most citizens, deep inside, knowing the practice was wrong. Of the Founding Fathers, two generations earlier, Alexander Hamilton had harbored the strongest abolitionist sentiments. He had seen the evil up close in the counting houses of the Caribbean islands of Nevis and St. Croix, whence he came as a seventeen year-old prodigy. But as a leading American Founder, he moderated his participation in the movement placing the interest of the unity of the nation ahead of his own personal abolitionist beliefs. It's ironic he was also the founder of the American economic system and industrial might that economically vanquished the South.

Although many historians point out that slavery was not dying but growing in the South and in new areas opened in the West, the truth is that the linear progression of history had condemned the peculiar institution to the dustbin of oblivion, sooner rather than later, as the example of Latin America, the Caribbean, and all of South America, including giant Brazil, clearly evinced. Abolition could have been accomplished without the terrible bloodshed. Emancipation, free trade, peaceful commerce and harmonious national unity would have allowed the South to catchup with the North economically, educationally, and achieve a better standard of living for future generations of Southerners, blacks and whites, all free.

But as events took place, the South saw no way it could extricate itself from the evil in time to prevent the impeding cataclysm.

Disparity of Resources but Not of Courage

What remains shocking is that despite the disparity in resources, Southern courage and superb generals extended the war for four incredible but desperate years. The North contained 71% of the population, 72% of the railroad mileage, 92% of iron and steel production, 85% of the factories, and 75% of the wealth of the nation. But the South fought on. (Photo, below [North and South: Different Cultures, Same Country. Courtesy of civilwar.org])

Disparity between North and South at time of Civil WarMoreover, immigrants were pouring into the North, 7 out of 8 settling in the industrial areas there. The Southern population of over 9 million consisted of 5.5 million whites and 4 million blacks (i.e., most of them slaves, who were left behind the lines to be watched by the women and old folk). The Northern population was 22 million.(5) Moreover, while Northern manufacturing was booming, Southern agriculture was stalling, falling behind. Northern tariffs had been hurting the South, leaving it behind economically. The South had needed diversification and modernization. Southern agriculture based on black slavery was not only wrong but also economically on the way out. Unfortunately, no effective statesmen arose from either North or South to speak up and make others see the way out of the dilemma. To the North goes the credit of fighting ultimately for a just and noble cause, the end of slavery, industrial progress, and an arguably good cause, the preservation of the Union. I say arguably because we must ask ourselves, is a Union (like human bondage) held and kept by compulsion and force a good thing? Let's then have the political scientists argue that point.

To the South goes the credit of fighting nobly and with fortitude for an ultimately lost cause, an antebellum way of life (although supported by an ignoble institution), destined incontrovertibly to be gone with the wind; the credit of fighting for other ideals, not quite so noble, but good ideals nevertheless, when examined in the proper context — namely states' right, free trade, and self-determination. When speaking of states' rights I refer to the principle of the states having the right to be "the laboratories of democracy," where governments can experiment with policy within the context of federalism and freedom. When I refer to free trade, I refer to today's almost universal call for lifting trade barriers, ending protectionism, and promoting commerce on a global scale. When speaking of self-determination, I refer to a free people having the options to either remain part of a nation, as was the case with Scotland in the United Kingdom, or conversely, having the right to separate from a union and to be allowed to determine their own national destiny, pursuing their own happiness peacefully without the threat of force, intimidation, or coercion. The Confederacy did not invent these notions; nevertheless the South, to its credit, championed them before they were fashionable and fought for them valiantly in an uneven struggle for four arduous and desperate years.

References

1. Adams C. When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession. Rowman & Littlefield, 2000, p. 257.

2. DiLorenzo TJ. The Real Lincoln. Prima, 2002, p. 333. Also see: Lincoln's Tariff War by TJ DiLorenzo, May 6, 2002. Available at: http://mises.org/library/lincolns-tariff-war.

3. Faria MA. Slavery and the Civil War. HaciendaPublishing.com, July 25, 2011. Available at: http://www.haciendapub.com/randomnotes/slavery-and-civil-war

4. Civil War Trust — Civil War Facts. Available at: http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/faq/

5. Civil War Trust — North and South: Different Cultures, Same Country. Available at: http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/civil-war-overview/northandsou...

Written by Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D. is Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International. He is a former Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery and Adjunct Professor of Medical History. Dr. Faria is the author of Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). He has written numerous articles on the blessings of liberty and the venalities of totalitarianism, collectivism, and communism — all posted at his website: www.haciendapub.com & www.drmiguelfaria.com

The photographs used to illustrate this article came from a variety of sources and were added for the enjoyment of readers at HaciendaPublishing.com. A shorter version of this article also appeared in the Macon Telegraph, December 12, 2014

This article can be cited as: Faria MA. Fighting Lost Causes in the American Civil War. HaciendaPublishing.com, December 7, 2014. Available at: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/fighting-lost-causes-american-civil-war

Copyright ©2014 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

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The South and Slavery

An article was sent to me on this subject for my perusal. The article, or rather, the book review, was entitled The South’s Foreign Policy by Mr. Fergus M Bordewich. It reviews This Vast Southern Empire By Matthew Karp. The link to this review is provided below.

My comment: I tend disagree with many points made by the author’s book or the reviewer. The unvarnished truth is that slavery was going down the drain of history because it was not an efficient or profitable economic institution, particularly in the competitive “global market.” Moreover, the moral weight of the evil of this peculiar institution was taking its toll even if it was not apparent or expressed in the South. One only has to read the writings of the Virginians, including some of the founders, to recognize they were wrestling with the subject and it weighted heavily on them, even as they profited from it.

Every action and inaction in 19th century America by southern politicians, according to these authors, was solely geared to promote slavery and the interest of the “slaveholding class.” They make this claim even when Jefferson Davis as Minister of War for President Franklin Pierce, was strengthening the federal army. Really?

Even Stephen Douglas supposedly had a malevolent motive for conciliation and compromise, because he benefited from slavery, according to author Karp. Douglas, like him or not, gave his health and his life, as did Henry Clay (a hero of mine since high school), arguing for compromise after compromise to prevent the horrible civil war that years later ensued.

When there were no longer any statesmen — like Clay, Webster, and even Calhoun, to orate with their beautiful and sometimes fiery oratories or negotiate intricate compromises — then the juggernaut of war could no longer be prevented or postponed.

The author writes:

"Cuba was a particular obsession for pro-slavery policy makers. The island’s wealth was fabulous—in the 1850s, it produced fully a quarter of the world’s sugar—and slavery was firmly established there. American diplomats tried for years to purchase the island outright and forestall any attempt at emancipation by Cuba’s Spanish rulers. “We regard an attempt . . . to blast with the plague of emancipation that garden of the West, as a crime against civilization,” wrote the Charleston Mercury, a frequent mouthpiece for pro-slavery opinion"

Who would have believed from reading the above paragraph that:

The two largest slave economies in Latin America were Cuba and Brazil (the last one by far the largest). Cuba abolished slavery in 1886, and Brazil, the last country in Latin America to do so (and where more than 40% of all black slaves in the Americas ended), did so in 1888. Both countries did so peacefully and without fighting a shot! Their economies had been longer and more intricately enmeshed with slavery than the American South.

Unbeknownst even to American historians, the Yucatan, then mostly inhabited by Mayans and Mexicans of Spanish descent, wanted to secede from the hegemony Mexico’s Federal District, whom they considered a different nation (Spanish and Aztecs descendants) and pleaded for Yucatan to be annex by the United States, but this was blocked by the Northern abolitionists, as they did with Cuba. How much grief could have been prevented in the last century if those annexations, particularly Cuba’s, had taken place in the best interest of all.

The South’s Foreign Policy by Mr. Fergus M Bordewich. It reviews This Vast Southern Empire By Matthew Karp: http://ereader.wsj.net/publink.php?shareid=2f2544b90

U.S. Civil War atrocities!

The following debate on various aspects of the Civil War has been raging on and off the Macon Telegraph for months, even before the printing of the article above. The correspondence that follows is published here in order to preserve this candid debate for the readers who might have missed it in the local newspaper to which I’m myself a frequent contributor.

July 7, 2015: Atrocities of war

In Thursday’s edition of The Telegraph, “Should a monument stand to a convicted war criminal?” J.C. Smith declared that the atrocities of Andersonville prison should be laid at the feet of Capt. Henry Wirz. He needs to consider the rest of the history of Civil War prison camps. An estimated 56,000 men perished in Civil War prisons on both sides. Confederate troops, as well as civilians, did not have food or clothing, either. At the beginning of the war, most prisoners were paroled or exchanged since neither side wanted to keep and house prisoners. But the exchange system broke down in 1863.

The Union side had Fort Delaware dubbed, “The Fort Delaware Death Pen.” Maryland’s Point Lookout housed soldiers in tent cities walled by high fences. Elmira prison in New York saw almost a 25 percent mortality rate. Camp Douglas was located in Chicago and had the highest mortality rate of all the northern prisons. Mortality rates there equaled Andersonville. In 1864, Wirz personally paroled five Union prisoners to petition the Union to reinstate prisoner exchanges in order to allow prisoners to leave the camp. The request was denied.

History is written by the victors. Atrocities in the northern prisoner camps were not reported. Andersonville exists, not as a memorial to the Confederacy, but as a reminder to the atrocities of war. It is the prison that gets attention but it is typical of nearly all the prisons on both sides.—-- Gary Chamberlain, Warner Robins

July 26, 2015: No comparison

Where to begin, or is it even worth beginning at all to address such a mishmash of misinformation Gary Chamberlain has penned for this page?

Henry Wirz was a war criminal and deserved to be hanged. Yes, there were other Confederates who also deserved to be hanged for war crimes but weren’t, and someone lied during his trial, but he would have been convicted anyway. Wirz’s attempts late in the war to reinstate prisoner exchanges was not humanitarian, but practical. Exchanges were a much bigger benefit to rebels than Yankees and by that time Wirz didn’t need a crystal ball to know the war was lost and that outraged Americans would demand he be tried for war crimes.

No, Yankee prison of war camps were not even close to being the hell hole that Andersonville was. As a matter of fact, as more and more Yankees learned of the conditions at Andersonville they demanded that conditions in their prisons for rebels be downgraded. Some even suggested that they should make their prisons reproduce the conditions at Andersonville, but that never happened, and while some camps, because of Andersonville, were less than they should have been, they never even came close to the horrors of Andersonville...

No matter how much Dwight Poole, Gary Chamberlain and their ilk [sic] want to change history, they can’t. Andersonville was a hell hole that had no counterpart in the North.-- Jim Sandefur, Lizella

July 28, 2015: Your Say: Ellis’ open letter draws ire of reader

I was born and raised in Macon and now reside in Jacksonville, Florida. I was in town visiting my elderly father in the ICU unit at Coliseum Northside Hospital last weekend when I read former Mayor C. Jack Ellis’ open letter and his opinion about my Confederate great-great-grandfather being a traitor. That struck a nerve in me.

Reading Ellis’ letter I realized that he is nothing more than a wandering nomad going from one goat herd to the next trying to find himself. He could not find himself fighting the enemy in Vietnam... Ellis cannot find himself being the ex- mayor of Macon and being on the dole at the taxpayers expense and just being happy. Now he is trying to get his satisfaction ridiculing dead people, concrete statues and flags.

My ancestor joined the Georgia 22nd, fought on the front line at Antietam, where 21,000 white guys died in one day. He spent the night on the front line listening to wounded and dying souls on both sides -- then followed orders -- fought in other battles including Appomattox; was paroled at Appomattox, then walked home 650 miles to Dublin, Georgia. I can wager Ellis that God has not created a white or black man since this relative of mine lived that could do what he did. Not only did he walk home 650 miles, he pitched his tent a least two times with offspring of which I am a relative. To top it all off, my relative did not claim post traumatic stress disorder and get on the government dole as some of these cowards are doing today because they are afraid to kill a nonbeliever.

The only traitor in this whole discussion is Ellis who switched from believing in the Lord and worshipped Allah for a time until he came to his senses.

A comrade of my ancestor at Antietam told General Lee, “Sir we will fight the sons of bitches till hell freezes over, then sir, we will fight them on the ice.” This white infidel continues the fight with cowards such as C. Jack Ellis. Coward must be what the “C” in Ellis’ name means.— Ricky Camp is a resident of Jacksonville, Florida.

August 2, 2015: A’ville

Jim Sandefur’s statement, “Andersonville was a hell hole that had no counterpart in the North” is inaccurate. Elmira Prison in New York was the northern counterpart to Andersonville. Dubbed ‘Hellmira” it was a death camp and had approximately the same death rate as A’ville. (Google it.)—Dr. Cash Stanley, Macon

August 3, 2015: The right to secede

… While the concept of slavery in and of itself is wrong, there were other issues besides slavery that were tied to the Confederacy and secession. One can conclude this by reading reliable and well-documented historical accounts. The Confederate States of America was not a recognized separate government. It was a federation of states that comprised the current southeastern United States from 1861-1865.

Each state enacted their right as an independent state to secede. Camp uses two important words in his letter when he makes reference to his ancestor when he uses the terms “followed orders.” All Confederate soldiers followed orders when they enlisted for service. These were not men acting as street gangs raising hell for a self-serving identity nor were they radical thugs rioting … They were soldiers on a battlefield fighting for the concerns that were then associated with their territory.

For anyone to decide that it should be their prerogative to wipe out the history of another culture is not only ludicrous and self-serving but it is also ignorant.--- Melissa Kuipers, Macon

August 3, 2015: Not a Camp fan

I’m sorry to see that the Telegraph lowered its standards enough to print Ricky Camp’s “Your Say” piece. The debate about the Confederate battle flag and Confederate memorials is an interesting one. It is also one that any intelligent person has to admit has good arguments on both sides of the debate.

As a person who had three of his four great-grandfathers fight for the South in the American Civil War and uses one of those great-grandfather’s picture for his Facebook avatar, and as a person who thinks Jack Ellis was one sorry excuse for a mayor, I think you did Ellis and your readers a disservice by printing Camp’s silly little rant.

Not having the mental equipment needed to debate the issue, Camp resorts to non-sensible statements, ad hominem attacks and name-calling -- the mark of a real coward and childish (ideas) that should find no space on this page.-- Jim Sandefur, Lizella

At the risk of once again being called a cyber "stalker," by the polemicist and bully-in-chief of the Telegraph, Jim Sandefur, I cannot help commenting at this point regarding the prevailing progressive-illiberal intolerance, as exemplified by Mr. Sandefur himself decrying the Telegraph purportedly “lowering the publication standards” and alleged "disservice" for publishing Ricky Camps' letter, which in reality is an intolerant effort to censor ideas, opinions, or inconvenient facts with which he disagrees. This is particularly cynical when losing a debate, which to begin with, Sandefur himself repeatedly instigated, and does not allow to end, unless he has the last word! More hilarious is Sandefur's comment supposedly condemning "ad hominem attacks and name-calling," which according to him is "the mark of a real coward." I can think of no one who has been more guilty than Sandefur himself in using ad hominem attacks and bullying readers with whom he disagrees. Sandefur routinely insults people of faith "in the three Abrahamic religions" (that he abhors with a vengeance) as "superstitious fools," whose religions are "an insult to man's intelligence," and his irresponsible statement that "a good church is a burnt out church," (for which he never apologized), etc.; those with whom he disagrees, he refers to as "not having the mental equipment," "nincompoops," "confederate nuts," and/or "mental midgets"; his challenges to debate are crude attempts at intimidation, "a lurker without the cojones," etc. So much for his sincerity for honest debate and condemnation of ad hominem attacks!---Dr. Miguel Faria

August 4, 2015, YOUR SAY: North and South both guilty of prisoner abuse during Civil War

An anonymous wit once proclaimed that “All generalizations are false, including this one.” The continuous, often contentious, letters debating the 1861-1865 unpleasantness are rife with generalities that contain a kernel of truth but are far from uniformly accurate or true. Such is the case with Jim Sandefur’s latest letter, especially his final sentence denying that Andersonville prison had no counterpart in the North.

Combined, there were more than 150 POW camps holding over 400,000 prisoners during the war. Overall, the mortality rate in Northern prisons was 12 percent while in Southern prisons it was 15.5 percent, according to a 1908 report by the adjutant-general of the United States. The highest reported rate of mortality for any single month of the war was reached at Chicago’s Camp Douglas in February, 1863, when 10 percent of all Confederate prisoners there died. It was said that the unsanitary conditions caused the prisoners to “drop like flies.” Estimates of total prisoner deaths at New York’s Elmira prison range from 24 percent 27 percent while Andersonville is estimated at 29 percent. Elmira could be viewed as the Union’s Andersonville, but that dubious honor likely goes to Point Lookout, Maryland...No amount of revised history will change that fact. A great-great-uncle, James Giles, 51st Virginia Volunteer Infantry, lost a leg when wounded and captured at Smithfield, Virginia. He was exchanged through Point Lookout and returned at Venus Point on the Savannah River. He survived until age 67 and died in 1903. Arguably, the most famous POW camp is Andersonville resulting from the publicity surrounding the trial of Henry Wirz…

Henry Wirz was clearly a scapegoat. Had the same standards been applied, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, by all accounts a vindictive man, and Point Lookout Camp Commander Major A.G. Brady would have shared the gallows with Wirz. Stanton, in May 1864, ordered a severe reduction of rations to Confederate prisoners with the result that many more died than should have. The Union was in a far better position to care for its prisoners than the South but intentionally ignored their needs. Brady personally amassed $1,000,000 taken from funds to be used for feeding, clothing and sheltering prisoners. Furthermore, Brady would not allow the citizens of Maryland to provide for the prisoners. Laughably, Sandefur claims that Wirz’ attempt to reinstate prisoner exchanges were not for humanitarian reasons but then claims that earlier Union efforts were.

On the subject of traitors, Sandefur conveniently ignores the fact that secession was not illegal under the United States Constitution of 1861. Once the 11 Southern states left the Union, they were no longer bound by the Constitution of the United States. Robert E. Lee resigned his commission in the U.S. Army honorably. He then left the United States and retired to his native state of Virginia as a resident there and a resident of the Confederacy where the U.S. Constitution no longer applied and to which he no longer owed allegiance. He was a citizen of a different country. Furthermore, none of the Confederate soldiers who were citizens of the 11 secessionist states can be considered traitors...

My sources include “The Photographic History of the Civil War,” an original 10-volume set published in 1912. Volume seven deals with prisons and hospitals. It’s made clear that conditions in prisons on both sides were often horrible and frequently made more so by those charged with caring for the prisoners. The Union certainly had it’s equivalent of Andersonville; more than one, in fact.—Walker Smith is a resident of Byron.

[Extracted from YOUR SAY: North and South both guilty of prisoner abuse during Civil War by Walker Smith of Byron, Georgia, Special to The Macon Telegraph, August 3, 2015]

Mike Ganas: Good points. Especially the fact that secession was not illegal. It still is not illegal. There is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits it.

And while we're on the subject, the name is wrong. It was not a civil war. A civil war is two or more factions fighting for control of the same country. This was two separate countries, one fighting for its independence and the other fighting to keep it enslaved. It was the War for Southern Independence.

Jim Sandefur: When the South left the Union secession was not illegal and they had every right to leave that union that they had voluntarily joined as sovereign nations. But now, changes in the constitution and Supreme Court rulings make that legality doubtful at best. Remember before the American Civil War the United States was plural (as in "he United States are going to war" instead of "The United States is going to war"). The US was more like the European Union is today before the ACW.... And while we're on the subject calling the American Civil War the "War of Southern Independence" or "War of Northern Aggression" are just hackneyed attempts to be cute. The ACW clearly meets the requirement of the dictionary definition because both the US and CSA fought for control of the same county.

Mike Ganas: Jim Sandefur, I realize you have anointed yourself as the final authority on all things WFSI but you're not. They were not fighting for control of the same country. They were two separate countries fighting each other...

Admittedly, these are selected passages because of the amount of material involved. The reader is encourage to peruse the postings of the Telegraph while they are still available for a more complete transaction.

American Union —Free choice?

The Southern states were allowed to join the union, but not secede from it. Why? If a country has to use violence & force to sustain itself, doesn't that tell you something? If a country is making the right choices & the right decisions, states would want to be a part of it. But when the Soviet Union broke apart, countries were happy to separate from it. And what's happening in Ukraine today is similar to what happened in the Civil War.

Besides the Soviets' totalitarian maintenance of its Union before the breakup, the only other time that I've seen supposed unity enforced by violence was by the Mafia. Once in, the Mafia would kill someone if he tried to leave.

Slavery in America would have ended on its own without a violent & bloody war the plunged the South into abject poverty for a hundred years & spawning the Southern redneck culture (both white & black). Read Thomas Sowell's "Black Rednecks & White Liberals."

Col. Chenoweth on the Civil War!

That was an excellent article of yours in today's paper about the Southern Causes in the Civil War. Great synopsis. You, too, are quite a historian. By the way, you might like to read "The Lincoln Myth" by Steve Berry. It's a docu-novel, much on the order of Bill O'Reilly's "The Killing of Patton"— which was excellent.

As to the Civil War, I read Bruce Catton's massive history probably before you left Cuba; but I haven't read Shelby Foote's works, nor James McPherson's. Only Foote had any actual military experience: Army and Marines in WW II. To me, the best contemporary historian is Victor Davis Hansen, who I'm sure you have read — especially his classical works.

But referring to Foote: in your email you mentioned the "Union victory at Antietam." I think since Foote's writings, the consensus is that "Sharpsburg-Antietam" was an inconclusive draw. It was so bloody and exhaustive that both sides called it quits at the end of day. If I recollect, the total casualties were c. 23,000, of which 2,600 Yankees died and 2,500 Rebels. Anyway, McClellan was indecisive and Burnside was no better; Lee withdrew his forces without pursuit. We lived up near that battlefield in Maryland a decade ago and visited the battlefield often. I painted a picture of a reenactment there which I will try to sent to you as an attachment. There is another subject that underlies this country's problems: ignorance. Massive, destructive, ignorance fostered by the inept educational system and a lazy, self-centered society. That bears a lot of insightful writing and hammering away at. Best regards, Col. Avery Chenoweth

Dr Faria replies: I agree ignorance and the public education system are major problems in contemporary American society. I received your attachment: Your painting is excellent. You are quite an artist!

As far as Antietam, it was a tactical draw but a strategic victory for the North. The North also kept the field. It was also the bloodiest day in American history. Sandefur claims, "one of the biggest of Lee's many blunders" in his letter yesterday. I thought McClellan was the one who made the biggest error in letting Lee escape. But you are correct it was a savage engagement and they were all exhausted. You might be interested in Jim Sandefur's letter and my reply to it on this same page. — MAF

Sherman's total war!

Sherman Unleashes Total War on Confederacy
by Pat Horan, Realclearhistory, November 12, 2014

"Nov. 12 marks the 150th anniversary of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous burning of Atlanta in the American Civil War. Sherman had defeated Southern General John Bell Hood at the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864. After a long siege, the city finally fell on Sept. 2. Sherman’s victories were well-timed as they helped Abraham Lincoln sail to presidential victory that year against the “peace” candidate, Democrat and former Union General George McClellan (a few months earlier, Lincoln’s reelection hopes had seemed dim as the North had suffered heavy losses that summer at the Battles of the Crater and Cold Harbor)...

"One of the most notorious incidents during the March was the abandonment of freed slaves at Ebenezer Creek in December. As the Union armies closed in on Savannah, thousands of former slaves had anxiously followed them. At Ebenezer Creek, with Confederate cavalry nearby, Union General Jefferson C. Davis’ [ironies of ironies!] corps waited as engineers built a pontoon bridge. Davis promised to let over six hundred blacks cross the river after the Northern soldiers, but instead, he ordered the pontoon bridge to be cut after all of his forces had crossed.

"The freed slaves, caught in between the river and the approaching rebels, frantically attempted to swim across the icy, cold creek or to use logs as make-shift ferries. Many drowned. Those who did not attempt the crossing were enslaved once again. Despite complaints brought to the U.S. War Department, Davis, who had Sherman’s backing, was never punished for his actions."

...One wonders how much the Northern generals really cared for the African-Americans they were fighting for and liberating! — MAF

Deflating the Rebuttal

Macon Telegraph, Dec 13, 2014

Letter to the Editor: A rebuttal to the rebuttal’s rebuttal

If Miguel Faria wants us to take his comments about the American Civil War seriously he should use better source material than Ken Burns’ “The Civil War.”. It was entertaining and a good “History for Dummies,” and I loved the fact that it didn’t use re-enactors, but it was basically sentimental fluff that eschewed historical analysis for unquestioned conventional wisdom.

As for Shelby Foote’s masterpiece, “The Civil War,” I have enjoyed reading those three thick volumes three times, but more as wonderfully written narrative than good history. It has been a while since I read it, but it is obvious that Foote has a bias in favor of the South. It was hard to believe that in 1.2 million words, Foote doesn’t mention Andersonville, but mentions the 216 BCE Battle of Cannae too many times.

I’m sure many Confederate soldiers fought for the South because Yankees were down here, but it is ridiculous to confuse the reason a person might fight in a war for the cause of the war. While differences over tariffs, states’ rights and many other things were the subjects of heated debate, the main cause of the war was slavery. As I and at least one other person has pointed out on this page before, the people who started the war left no doubt in their writings that the main cause of the war was slavery.

In addition to those writings, the definitive proof that slavery was the cause of the war, are the Declarations of Secession that most Confederate states published when they left the Union. Just as the United States gave the reasons for its war with England in the Declaration of Independence, most of the Confederate states published Declarations of Secession and in all of them the fear of the abolition of slavery and efforts to stop slavery from spreading to new territories is the main cause of secession.
After the war started and Southern leaders realized that England and France would not help them fight for slavery, they toned down their emphasis on slavery and tried to put more weight on other reasons for the war. One of these reasons was that the states were independent nations that had voluntarily joined the union of small nations called the United States, and had the right to leave that union. In that they were right.

As James McPherson writes in, “Battle Cry of Freedom,” “The Upper South, like the lower, went to war to defend the freedom of white men to own slaves and to take them into the territories as they saw fit, lest these white men be enslaved by black Republicans who threatened to deprive them of these liberties.” (“black” here means “evil,” not African-Americans.)

On another page, McPherson mentions the captive rebel who made the over-quoted “Because you’re down here” comment and adds, “But without slavery there would have been no black Republicans to threaten the South’s way of life, no special Southern civilization to defend against Yankee invasion.”
Faria is wrong in claiming that Lincoln’s call for more troops after the Confederate victory at First Bull Run (or Manassas) caused the draft riots in New York and other cities. First Bull Run was fought in mid-1861. There was no draft in the North until 1863 and the draft riots were later in 1863. The bloodiest single-day battle of the American Civil War, Antietam, was a draw, not a Union victory. It was also one of the biggest of Lee’s many blunders.

Faria’s claim that Southern courage and superb generals made the war last as long as it did is laughable. There is not enough room here to critique the generals of the American Civil War, but suffice it to say that one reason Lee is considered by most people (but not me) to be a great general, is that most of the other Southern generals were incompetent jerks. Just one example: Bragg didn’t pursue the rioted Yankee army after the rebel victory at Chickamauga because he was peeved that they won because Longstreet (on loan from Lee) discovered a hole in the Yankee line instead of winning by following Bragg’s plans, which would in all probability have lost the battle. This caused one of the few good generals fighting for the South, Nathan Bedford Forrest, to warn his commanding general, Bragg, that he might have to do him bodily harm if they met again.

As for Southern courage there is no doubt about the fact that the South fielded many brave soldiers. At least two of them were my great grandfathers. But, they were no braver than the soldiers fighting for the United States and in some cases, like at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, they were downright cowardly.

As for the North having a great advantage in human and materiel resources that is true, but it is very much mitigated by the fact that the Confederacy was a huge territory to invade and conquer. The South had the advantage of interior lines, the morale advantage of people fighting an invader and they only had to fight to a draw, not beat the United States into submission. Some historians go as far as to suggest that the South had the advantage.
Also, go to some battlefield in Georgia at the time of the year the battle was fought and imagine soldiers accustomed to Massachusetts and Maine climates in wool coats and pants marching, sleeping, pushing cannons through swamps and fighting in chigger and tick infested woods in July.

Last, let me end with this reason a Yankee might want to fight. Had I been an American living in the North in 1860, I would have been willing to join up to fight after seeing things like this from Southern newspapers that were reprinted in the North. This is from Georgia’s Muscogee Herald: “Free Society! We sicken at the name. What is it but a conglomeration of greasy mechanics, filthy operatives, small-fisted farmers, and moon-struck theorists?... The prevailing class one meets with in the North is that of mechanics struggling to be genteel, and small farmers who do their own drudgery, and yet are hardly fit for association with a Southern gentleman’s body servant.”

-- Jim Sandefur, Lizella

Deflating the Rebuttal of Rebuttals

Dr. Miguel Faria Replies:

Mr. Sandefur, "the dogmatist martinet of the Telegraph," is in his own mind always right and everybody else is wrong — the possessor of ultimate truth! If an opponent with a contrary view has not actually made a mistake, Sandefur will manufacture one out of thin air! Sleight of hand and presto! I did not "claim" that it was immediately after "Lincoln’s call for more troops following the Confederate victory at First Bull Run (or Manassas) that caused the draft riots in New York and other cities."

Space constraints to fit my word limit in the Telegraph may have cause the association. The call for more troops was immediately after the First Bull Run, but as he stated, the draft and the riots came later in 1863. No argument there. The timing is of significance only in that the riots took place not long AFTER the Emancipation Proclamation was announced, suggesting that many Northerners were willing to fight against Southern secession but not to end the evil of black slavery!

As far as the outcome of the Battle of Antietam, it has been called a union "strategic" victory as well as a "tactical" draw. The error is actually with Sandefur who erroneously claimed, "It was also one of the biggest of Lee’s many blunders." In fact most historians agree it was ultimately the cautious mistakes of George McClellan and his failure to engaged more of his army in the battle that prevented the North from obtaining a decisive victory!

Although Lee was outnumbered two-to-one, he committed his entire force to the engagement, while McClellan used less than three-quarters of his army. General McClellan, much to the displeasure of Abraham Lincoln, did not attack and pursue the exhausted, retreating Confederate army. It was the bloodiest day in American history, both sides were exhausted, but the North also kept the field. As I have stated before, one cannot be too dogmatic a martinet with disputed information! While the Battle of Antietam was as an inconclusive tactical draw from the military perspective, Abraham Lincoln and the Union thought Antietam was a good enough of a victory to proceed with the Emancipation Proclamation. Thus, politically and strategically, Antietam WAS a union victory, the North had blown the opportunity and Lee escaped with his army!

Finally, Sandefur's suggestion that the South had the advantage in the war for the reasons he stated, despite the overwhelming disparity of resources — is absolutely ludicrous! So much for his Rebuttal of all Rebuttals!
Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

War for Southern Independence, 1861

Your papers on the War for Southern Independence were wonderful pieces of scholarship and clarity. This last one is another masterpiece, providing an excellent encapsulation of the period. As for Mr. Sanderfur, I could only say that you, Miguel, were engaged in an intellectual battle with an unarmed man. It is obvious he is one of the modern revisionist haters of everything Southern and tries to rewrite the history of the period. In fact, there is a movement among Marxists radicals to rewrite black history during the War for Southern Independence, one even insisting that there were no black slaves who fought for the Confederacy.

One delightful book that was recently published is called The Un-Civil War: Shattering the Historical Myths by Leonard M. Scruggs. I don't have the books in front of me but there are also a couple of excellent books on the period of Reconstruction that deserve to be studied carefully. One, in fact, was written by a Yankee, Marxist radical, but proves that the bulk of the slave trade was by Northerners.

As for the argument that slavery was the main cause for the war, we have a number of testimonies of Southern soldiers who stated after the war that if it were about slavery they would have never fought, as they owned no slaves. Moreover, the difference between the "immediate" cause of the war and the "true" causes of the war is essential, and as you stated, S.C. Senator John Calhoun explained the growing and long-term attempt by the Northern industrialists (and bankers) to ruin the South as they wanted to collect the tariff monies. They also wanted to stifle the South's growing political influence in the national legislature. This rift between the South and the Northern regions even started before the American Revolution (Rebellion).

What the South knew was that the Radical Republicans (called "Red Republicans" at the time) were out to destroy Southern commerce. A sudden abolishment of slavery would have bankrupted the South and left the Southerners to care for millions of slaves who had no means to care for themselves once the plantation system was ended and commerce was destroyed. It would have meant mass starvation of both white and blacks, but then the leftist reformers never really care about those they use to foment their bloody revolutions. (Just witness the events in Rhodesia and South Africa after the leftist had their way.)

In all discussion about slavery, we never see mentioned the most obvious force that would have ended the practice--mechanization of cotton farming. Once this technology appeared, the slaves would have been released and would be either free to join society as citizens or they would have been allowed to go back to Africa.

I also found Sanderfur's comments about you leaving out Andersonville prison in your discussion interesting. In truth, the conditions at Andersonville prison were the result of the devastation of the war and the brutality of Union gangs within the prison. Records show that the death rate of the Southern population outside the prison was almost as high as for the Union soldiers within the prison--this was from disease and malnutrition. There were a number of Union prisons that were houses of horror--the difference being that the commanders of these prisons purposely tortured and murdered the Southern soldiers and were never punished. The commandant of Andersonville went out of his way to protect the Union soldier in his prison from the marauding Union gangs that were robbing, beating and killing their fellow soldiers. In fact he hang a number of them. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! -- Russell L. Blaylock, M.D.

Yellow Journalism!

I have been reminded to address Sandefur's final paragraph, and I had forgotten... it refers to the offending and contemptuous description of artisans, small farmers, and blue collar workers in the North by a Southern newspaper, reproduced in the North — derision fueling the fire of war. But inflammatory newspapers by irresponsible armchair publishers bent on selling newspapers was not unusual. Inflammatory opinion articles were fired to and fro, North and South, both sides adding fuel to the coming conflagration!

In the hands of newspaper magnet, William Randolph Hearst, a generation later, it came to be called yellow journalism! Obviously, Mr. Sandefur would have been easily incited and might not have waited for the actual war to begin, but alas, he might have joined John Brown at the raid at Harpers Ferry.

Read more on: Yellow journalism

Debate: Sherman's March to the Sea

Macon Telegraph Viewpoints
December 9, 2014
 
Sherman's March rebuttal by William Harris Bragg

Sunday’s article by Avery Chenoweth Sr. failed entirely in “Setting the record straight on Sherman’s march.”

But it did provide a holiday cornucopia of misreadings, distortions and flat-out mistakes, together with a wonderfully emotional introductory description of “Southerners’ benighted and knee-jerk misconception” of the march.

This first paragraph clearly suggested that what followed would be subjective and anti-Southern, and it was, but only a few of the most glaring factual errors are addressed below:

• Wheeler’s cavalry (though closer to 3,500 than Chenoweth’s 5,000) was not “the only force to face and harass Sherman.” In addition to the cavalry, there were originally around 3,000 state and Confederate troops in Macon (some of whom waged the campaign’s only major infantry engagement at Griswoldville). In Savannah, the Confederates ultimately gathered some 10,000 men from all sources to man the city’s fortifications. Some of them also crossed into South Carolina on Nov. 30 and defeated a Union force attempting to break Savannah’s rail communication with the outside world.

• Instead of “5,000 head of cattle to be slaughtered on the way” to Savannah, Sherman’s herd actually numbered 3,476 on leaving Atlanta. En route, 13,294 cattle were captured (representing catastrophic losses to their owners), and 9,909 were slaughtered, still leaving over 6,800 cattle to arrive with the troops in Savannah.

• Sherman’s offer to pay for what his army consumed was made to Georgia Gov. Joseph E. Brown before the march began and was contingent on Brown’s withdrawing the Georgia troops from the Confederate armies. He didn’t withdraw them and payment for supplies did not become Sherman’s policy.
• Whether or not Sherman’s men “set out to burn any plantations,” they did so on many occasions (and burned villages as well, including Hillsboro and Griswoldville). Regarding Howell Cobb’s plantation above Milledgeville, Sherman himself sent word to one of his generals to “spare nothing.” A Union officer passing the next day thought that Cobb’s “place looked as though it had been visited by a very healthy and vigorous cyclone.”

• Sherman’s march “brought war for the first time to Georgia” only if one omits the reduction of Fort Pulaski in April 1862, the burning of Darien in June 1863, and the Battle of Chickamauga the following September, along with various other raids and skirmishes.

• That Sherman “only pursued actions of military necessity” is denied by Sherman himself, who estimated the material damage to Georgia at “$100 million -- at least $20 million of which was inured to (the Union army’s) advantage and the remainder is simple waste and destruction.”

• To assert that Savannah “surrendered ... without a fight” is simple to say, impossible to prove. Savannah’s surrender actually came after the reduction of Fort McAllister and 10 days of artillery and sharpshooter action, before the Confederate army withdrew into South Carolina on Dec. 20-21.
Although the above list does not begin to correct all the problems with Chenoweth’s article, it should indicate that the piece contains much more attitude and opinion than factual information. Sadly, it will probably be widely believed and quoted, and thus bring more heat than light to discussions of Sherman’s March.-- William Harris Bragg lives in Gray

Macon Telegraph Viewpoints
Dec. 7, 2014

City spared by Marty Willett

Too many present-day historians base their interpretations of history on an all-knowing attitude because they have the privilege of knowing all the pertinent facts of history after the fact and too often neglect the minutia of the many possible turning points in that history, such as Sherman’s March to the Sea.

The fact is, Macon was attacked twice by Sherman’s forces, and twice the artillery fire from Fort Hawkins’ high hilltop repelled the invading forces, thus preventing any potential destruction.

The point is that if Sherman’s right wing could have feinted deeper into Macon, it would have caused even more confusion and hardship for the Confederacy. The reasons are many but would include the fact that we had just captured in July a major general in Sherman’s army and took him to the Union officer prison -- Camp Oglethorpe. Macon was home of the Confederate Laboratory and a significant armory. We were a center for transporting, financing and supplying the Confederate breadbasket. We were the home of the hated Howell Cobb, and it is true not many homes were destroyed on the March to the Sea.

However, when Sherman learned that a plantation near Milledgeville belonged to Cobb, he had it razed. Such could have been Macon’s fate if not for the brave Georgia militia and the successful artillery fire from Fort Hawkins in July and November of 1864.

There has been much written about the American Civil War, and in Dick Iobst’s “Civil War Macon” there are thousands of sentences and facts about what happened here 150 years ago. Yet there are only three sentences about what happened in November when Sherman’s right wing did breach our earthen defenses and would have done a whole lot more damage if the cannons at Fort Hawkins had not repelled them back across Walnut Creek. Fort Hawkins did indeed help spare Macon the torch a second time.

It’s minutia that should not be neglected, but remembered and honored. Please come visit the new log cabin visitors center at Fort Hawkins, and learn even more forgotten and misunderstood history that took place right here in Middle Georgia. Nothing nefarious, just fun and enlightening facts.-- Marty Willett is Fort Hawkins Commission press officer and project coordinator in Macon

Other Readers reply with constructive replies supported by facts to "Setting the record straight on Sherman’s march" By Avery Chenoweth Sr.:

Dec 7, 2014 Online comments

Sam Hood: Sherman only "captured" Columbia SC? Like Savannah, Columbia surrendered, but unlike Savannah, Sherman burnt it to the ground, for no reason.

Lester Maddox: Unfortunately some of this is not true , the part about paying for items taken is not true, my 5th Great Grandfather Russell Thompson of Wilkinson Cty had his farm raided and all items taken, including pots and pans to cook with, also the part about paying for items taken, that's funny, as far as poultry and vegetables to supplement their diet, they took 110 hogs, 40 sheep and 65 cured ham quarters from the farm. The Southern Claims Commission documents are a great source of genealogical research, my Grandfather filed suit against the Union Army, unfortunately it wasn't until 1879, 2 years after he died that he was compensated for items taken.

Dec. 9, 2014

Dr. Miguel Faria : I sincerely believe that my learned friend Colonel Chenoweth was misled by the biased historical writings of a confirmed polemicist frequently writing in the pages of the Telegraph, Mr. Jim Sandefur. I say polemicist and that is a soft term because he no longer argues for its own sake but insults and bullies those with whom he disagrees. Here is a sampling: those people of faith "in the three Abrahamic religions are superstitious," and the religions themselves, "an insult to man's intelligence," etc; those with whom he disagrees besides ad hominem attacks, he refers to as "nincompoops," "confederate nuts," and "mental midgets."

Mr. Sandefur in short dogmatically and inflexibly claims ultimate truth about everything under the sun and the civil war and can not abstain also from disparaging Southerners in any way he can, or anyone, if they happen to be Christians (Sandefur calls it "making fun of"). How Col. Chenoweth, whose book, Guidebook for "Z-Generation Grads," I commended, can be mislead by such a political dogmatist is beyond me.

My critique "Slavery and the Civil War" and the discussion that followed of Mr. Jim Sandefur's concluding remarks in his article, "Sherman didn’t slow down to take Macon"(Macon Telegraph, November 28, 2014 ) follows. I regret that this same article was presumably as previously mentioned the object of Col. Chenoweth's praise. I wrote:

Sandefur now fully injects his politics, as well as heaps insults on the South and anyone who disagrees with his one-sided and dogmatic view of the Civil War:
"This pillaging [by Southern cavalry] of their own people was weakly justified as attempts to keep such goods out of the hands of Sherman’s men even though this was often done well out of the path of the Union army. Some of these Confederate units never fought another Yankee and spent the rest of the war robbing Georgians."

And the crushed, famished, and demoralized southerners — with their houses burnt, fields ruined and desolate, their thousands of deaths, etc. — did not hate Sherman and his conquering army, but were happy to see them coming and welcomed them with open arms. He further claims:

"Another often overlooked fact is that by the time Sherman was marching through Georgia, many of the common people of Georgia were sick and tired of 'the rich man’s war and the poor man’s fight' and actually welcomed Sherman with only slightly less enthusiasm than the slaves."

And not neglecting an opportunity to inject envy and Marxist class warfare hatred into the mix and the Confederacy, he adds:

"No doubt many a poor white woman whose husband had been killed fighting for the Southern aristocracy and the right to own human beings enjoyed watching a plantation house go up in flames." — MAF

Another Round!

Macon Telegraph, Dec 12, 2014

Col. Chenoweth: Rebutting the rebuttal

Bill Bragg (no doubt claiming kinship to the inept Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg) has rebutted my recent article on Sherman’s controversial march through Georgia. But, he has failed to comprehend that my short summation eschewed extraneous details that he proudly brought up and uncharitably criticized my short, concise essence of the march.

As part of the Union Army, Sherman had fought at Chattanooga, etc., then all the way down to Atlanta. From there, after resting and reprovisioning for two months, he continued his two large columns of his army in a “tactical march” -- not for the purpose of fighting or pillaging -- down to Savannah.

Of course there were minor clashes along the way and untoward personal incidents, but the march was deliberate and humane, not a continuing aggression, contrary to still-angry Southerners’ distorted memories. I stand by my article against such smoldering rancor by picayune hardliners. I believe my credible sources, one of which is a cherished first edition of Jefferson Davis’ “A Short (503-page) History of the Confederate States of America,” which has been in my family since it was published in 1890.
Davis pointed out the military necessities of destroying anything the rebel forces could use but only sketches the march as a tactical one. He does, however, accuse as barbaric Sherman’s order for all residents of Atlanta to evacuate and Union soldiers’ robbing them as they left.
Neighbor Bragg’s detailed diatribe is based on extraneous minutia, not my broader overview analysis. He simply fails to see the forest for the trees, proving my opening point about knee-jerking post-rebels. By the way, my forebears fought on both sides. -- Avery Chenoweth Sr., Perry

Dr. Miguel Faria Replies: The problem, Col Chenoweth, is that the debate began with an attack by Sandefur on an article discussing an interesting incident relevant to the history of Macon: the "minutia" of Confederate soldiers from Fort Hawking shooting at separated Northern troops or stragglers meandering toward and threatening Macon. It was not a discussion of General Sherman's March to the Sea with his two main columns or an attempted derailment of his plans by a defeated Confederate army. The South was incapable at this point of making any effective resistance. I think both Professor Willim Harris Bragg and Marty Willett made some important corrections and additions to the record and their remarks are entirely within what I have read.

Sherman's March — Final Chapter?

YOUR SAY: Other views of Sherman’s March to the Sea
By J.D. SPENCE - Special to The Macon Telegraph
December 17, 2014
 
My respect for Avery Chenoweth as an historian evaporated almost completely with his letter in Viewpoints on Friday, Dec. 12, titled “Rebutting the rebuttal.” I was already contemplating my response to his first letter about Sherman’s March (Viewpoints, Dec. 7,) but before I could respond, Georgia historian William Harris Bragg did a very credible job of countering Chenoweth’s marginalizing of Sherman’s March to the Sea.

I know Georgians have, over the past 150 years, made the march bigger and badder than the reality. But it was indeed much worse than Chenoweth’s version. By far. Let me begin with Willian Harris Bragg. According to his bio, Bragg makes no claim to being a descendent of Braxton Bragg, which I thought was a snide remark for Chenoweth to make. But if he is, so what? Maybe Chenoweth has some embarrassment in his own genealogy? Bragg authored the book “Griswoldville” (Mercer Press, 2000). This small but deadly battle just outside Macon had no in-depth treatment until Bragg’s study came along.

Bragg also authored “Joe Brown’s Army, The Georgia State Line, 1862-1865” (Mercer, 1987), and he co-wrote with William Scaife “Joe Brown’s Pets, The Georgia Militia, 1861-1865” (Mercer, 2004). I have these books. They are all excellent histories and well-written. I trust Bragg and his research. I have found no factual issues with him concerning his subjects. Bragg is also a native Georgian and taught (or still teaches) history at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville. Bragg is a past recipient of the Georgia Historical Society’s Coulter Award for Excellence in the Writing of Georgia History.

I accept Chenoweth’s first article as a fine summation of the march, not a detailed history of it. But it certainly set no record straight of the awful destruction visited on the people of the time. For that, and for a detailed history, I encourage readers to peruse any number of older works and new historiographies by such authors as Burke Davis’ “Sherman’s March” (Random House, 1980). Burke took 10 years researching to write his history. His was the first full-length narrative of Gen. Sherman’s devastating march through Georgia and the Carolinas. You might be amazed by what you read. It reads like a novel.

After the war, Union Gen. Jacob D. Cox admitted in his book about the march that Sherman’s “bummers” and army “were far less than scrupulous with the white citizens” of Georgia. That is a major understatement. I recommend Joseph T. Glatthaar’s “The March to the Sea and Beyond” (LSU Press, 1985). He quotes heavily from the letters and diaries of the Union soldiers who were on the march, and some, it might surprise, admit quite openly and candidly to the atrocities visited upon the residents along Sherman’s route.
Jim Miles of Warner Robins has written several volumes on Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign and March to the Sea. My favorite author on this subject is Noah Andre Trudeau’s “Southern Storm, Sherman’s March to the Sea” (Harper Collins, 2008.) This thorough book covers both wings of the army separately and details the foraging and taking of all the food and livestock so there was nothing left for families to eat that winter. It covers deprivations, theft, unauthorized, as well as authorized, destruction, staged, tortuous, semi-hangings and/or real beatings of both whites and blacks for information about where valuables were buried or hidden. It details the mistreatment of citizens, including the refugee blacks who followed the Union army as they pushed through our state. Read up on the incidents concerning the stranding and/or drowning of the refugee slaves at Buckhead, Ebenezer and Lockner Creeks during the march. Oh yes, brothers and sisters, there were many, many atrocities. And yes, “the wounds still fester in the memories of Southerners,” to quote Chenoweth, and, with due cause.

I won’t pretend that some Southerners have increased the privations visited upon Georgians of the day a hundredfold, or more. It was as Sherman called it, “total war.” They had to do a lot of meanness to win the war and reunite the nation. I accept that, but the truth is a double-edged sword and it was used upon the property and lives of innocent Georgians. The march was not “humane” as Chenoweth suggests.

I do not see Bragg’s letter responding to Chenoweth as anything resembling a “diatribe.” I have never been accused by those who know me as a “knee-jerking post-rebel” and I have not read one word written by William Harris Bragg that suggests he is one, either. Nor am I a revisionist of the facts. The facts are available for those of you with the fortitude and foresight to look them up. And stay away from revisionist websites and neo-Confederate literature. There are too many respectable authors, from all sections of the country, writing and publishing factual histories fair to both sides. And of course the controversies are myriad and never ending. And oh so entertaining. Sherman’s March to the Sea is just one of them, still going strong in its 150th year.

On a different subject, I rather enjoy John Kelley’s occasional essays and consider them history, and I do feel they belong on the Viewpoints page. Only some kind of “purist” would want him to stop. Lighten up, Aaron McIntosh. A laugh, a smile, a memory to pass along. How can that be on the wrong page? -- J.D. Spence, Warner Robins.



Diary of Dreams performs at the 2016 M’era Luna festival in Hildesheim, Germany. M’era Luna, “one of the biggest dark music events in Germany,” is held each year on the second weekend in August. Close to 25,000 people attend the festival annually to hear gothic, metal and industrial music performed on two large festival-style stages.