Sunday, March 29, 2020

Recent Acquisitions to My Library


If I am able to find some silver lining to this COVID-19 pandemic black cloud, it is that it is affording numerous opportunities to get in additional reading. Spending more time indoors, with no sports distractions, and not being a big television or movie viewer anyway, I am trying to use my God-given time to continue to learn . . . and share a few of my "Random Thoughts."

Most of my recent readings have come courtesy of my two full "to be read" shelves. I've pulled books off of it that have been there for years. I figure there is no real need to add new books when I have so many waiting to be read, therefore the lack of "Recent Acquisitions to My Library" posts.

However, several different circumstances added three new books to my library over the last month or so. My latest purchase is Civil War Places: Seeing the Conflict through the Eyes of Its Leading Historians, edited by Gary Gallagher and J. Matthew Galman. I almost bought this book last June at the Gettysburg College Civil War Institute where I heard a panel discussion by several of the book's guest authors. I've always enjoyed reading historians connections to subjects and places. Our book club at work chose this selection for our next read before the extent of the corona virus was fully known. And, we may not get to discuss it when we had planned, but I'll have it read and ready in case. Fingers crossed!


I know writing book reviews is something that a lot of people dread, but I rather enjoy it, especially if it is for publication. Every so often I have the opportunity to write book reviews for Civil War News and other publications. Last week I claimed Men is Cheap: Exposing the Frauds of Free Labor in Civil War America by Brian P. Luskey for an upcoming issue. Historian Amy Murrell Taylor calls Men is Cheap "A masterful work of historical research. Centering his story on a wide-ranging cast of brokers, speculators, merchants, soldiers, and formerly enslaved people, Brian Luskey examines deep flaws in the system of free labor at the very moment when it was supposed to deliver the nation from the oppression of chattel bondage. Luskey leaves no doubt that the Civil War marked a critical shift in the history of American labor and capitalism. Men is Cheap is an eye-opening and absorbing read." Sounds like a good one!


The good thing about maintaining an online "wishlist" of books is that from time to time one can monitor prices, and when a good deal comes along, snatch it up. Well, a few weeks ago I found an excellent buy on a hard copy edition of Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman's March and American Memory by Anne Sarah Rubin. Memory studies are one of my favorite history genres, and I can't think of a much better memory study subject than Sherman's march to the sea.

Happy reading! Happy learning! Happy living!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Deserters or Prisoners, or Both?


A prisoner of war category, which occurred quite often during the Petersburg Campaign, are those soldiers who willingly went over to the enemy. I think these men fall into somewhat of a nebulous zone. Are they deserters or prisoners, or both? I personally tend to associate the "deserter" label with those that left their armies, not going to the enemy, but away from the fighting, usually toward home. In effect, they are officially prisoners of war, and often were sent to camps for incarceration, but not being captured in battle or without resistance seemingly makes them different. 

During the Petersburg Campaign, where the distance between opposing picket lines were sometimes measured by feet or a few yards, the opportunities abounded for worn out or frustrated soldiers to end their service by going over to the other side. Dusk, night time, and early mornings cloaked movements and enhanced chances of success. The Union army even posted messages that they would pay Confederates to bring in their rifles and equipment to encourage them to make the effort. 

While recently reading Col. Elisha Hunt Rhodes' (pictured above) diary, published as All for the Union, I came across an entry in late February 1865 where he encountered a group of Southerners running the picket gauntlet. After serving as Officer of the Day on the picket line just southwest of Petersburg, Hunt returned to his winter quarters hut to catch a little sleep. Before nodding off, he "told the sergeant in charge of the guard at the hut not to allow any deserters to enter until he had called me. After sleeping a short time I heard some one say 'Colonel,' and looking up saw four Rebels standing in the hut."

Being so near the picket line, Hunt was understandably startled. He wrote, "My first thought was that I was captured, and reaching down into my boot leg (My boots were on.) I pulled out my revolver and drew the hammer back. The sergeant said 'Hold on, Colonel,' and recognizing his voice I woke up fully and realized the situation. The four Rebels were deserters and belonged to the 37th North Carolina Regiment. I examined them and took down their answers to certain questions on paper and then after taking the cartridges from their boxes, sent them with the memoranda to the Provost Marshal at [VI] Corps. The object of sending questions and answers in writing to Corps Headquarters is to see they tell the same story twice alike."

While taking down the information, one of the Tarheels told Rhodes that one of his comrades also wanted to come over and a gave Rhodes the friend's name. Sure enough, some firing was heard and another North Carolinian came bounding into the Union picket line. Rhodes took a chance and addressed the soldier by the name provided by his friend earlier. The new prisoner was astonished that Rhodes knew his name and regiment. As he was being taken away the deserter/prisoner said to Rhodes, "I know you Yankees are smart, but I cannot see how you found out so much about me." Rhodes replied "Oh, that is all right, we have ways of getting the news that you people know nothing about."

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Refusing Capture: Capt. Theodore Gregg, Co. F, 45th Pennsylvania


It is perhaps not surprising that many of the accounts that I am finding involving soldiers captured during the Petersburg Campaign have an association with the Battle of the Crater. That particular fight is probably the most well known of the engagements during the 292-day campaign. The battle's unconventional approach and its dramatic nature of Union attack and Confederate counterattack in a relatively confined space helped ensure that an abundance of prisoners would result and that its participants would record their experiences.

Included in the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Series 1, Vol. 40, Part 1, page 553) is the report provided by Capt. Theodore Gregg of Company F, 45th Pennsylvania Infantry, made 10 days after the Battle of the Crater. The 45th Pennsylvania was in the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, IX Corps and were among the regiments who made it into the virtual earthen deathtrap.

During the fight, Capt. Gregg reported:
"We heard the cheering of the men as they dashed forward; in a few minutes the works were filled with negroes. A major of one of the negro regiments placed his colors on the crest of the crater, and the negro troops opened a heavy fire on the rebels, who were at that time charging on the ruined fort. In a few moments the rebel force, headed by several desperate officers, dashed into the pits among us, where a desperate hand-to-hand conflict ensued, both parties using their bayonets and clubbing their muskets."

As mayhem and madness swirled around Capt. Gregg and his men the opportunities were ripe to become a prisoner of war. In fact, Gregg was too close for much comfort. He relayed that, "A large rebel officer, who appeared to be in command of the force, rushed upon me, and catching me by the throat, ordered me to surrender, at the same time bringing his revolver to my head. I succeeded in taking his revolver from him, and after a sharp struggle left him dead on the spot. A rebel soldier who had come to the rescue of his officer attempted to run me through with his bayonet, but was killed by Sergeant [David] Bacon of Company G. His sword was taken from him, but after a sharp contest he succeeded in recovering it and killing his antagonists."

Gregg's account, while vivid, pales into comparison in some details to that provided by Gregg's comrade, Lt. Samuel Haynes. Included in History of the Forty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry are some of the letters Haynes wrote during the war. Haynes' letter five days after the fight kicked up the intensity of the situation a bit. "Captain Gregg came down with me day before yesterday and took supper with me. He did some big fighting in the Rebel pits on Saturday. He killed a Rebel officer who led the charge. The Rebel caught Gregg by the throat and placing his pistol at his head demanded him to surrender. Gregg said: 'You impudent scoundrel, how dare you to ask me to surrender?' and wrenched the pistol from out of his hand, knocked him down with it, drew his sword and ran him through the body and left the sword in him. Then Gregg said 'You _________, I guess you are my prisoner now.'"

Capt. Gregg also mentioned that Capt. Rees G. Richards of Company G gallantly rallied his men, but "was fired at by a rebel and was seen to fall." Richards, however, was not killed or wounded. He literally dodged a bullet, but became a prisoner. Eventually incarcerated in South Carolina, he escaped in February 1865 and made his way to Union lines in Chattanooga the following month.

While Capt. Gregg escaped capture at the Battle of the Crater, his good luck ran out during the Battle of Peebles Farm on September 30, 1864. Captured in that fight he was exchanged and returned to the 45th in February 1865. After the war Gregg returned to Center County, Pennsylvania, married and started a family.  He died in 1878 at age 58.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Lewis R. Morgan, 4th Ohio Infantry - Medal of Honor


While I was at Poplar Grove Cemetery recently, I found the above marker for Sgt. Lewis R. Morgan, Company I, 4th Ohio Infantry. Morgan was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on December 1, 1864, "for capture of flag from enemy's works" at Spotsylvania on May 12, 1864.

The 4th Ohio Infantry served in the Army of the Potomac's II Corps. During their effort to cut the Boydton Plank Road at the Battle of Burgess Mill, on October 27, 1864, Morgan was killed. He was only 28 years old.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Identification Badge of 5th USCI Soldier


The Battle of New Market Heights occurred early on the morning of September 29, 1864, just southeast of Richmond. This fight included two dramatic attacks by brigades in Brig. Gen. Charles Paine’s division of United States Colored Troops against the earthen fortifications of the famous Texas Brigade. Extreme examples of courage resulted in fourteen African American soldiers earning the Medal of Honor for their heroism at New Market Heights.


The first brigade to attempt an assault of the works was commanded by Col. Samuel Duncan and consisted of the 4th and 6th United States Colored Infantry. These units attacked in battle line formations with the 6th following in echelon to the left and just behind the 4th.

Encountering obstructions placed in front of the earthworks by the Confederates, the two black regiments took severe casualties as they attempted to reach the works. Three African American soldiers from the 4th and two from the 6th received their medals for rescuing their regimental or U.S. flags or rallying their comrades when their white officers were either killed or wounded.

The small brigade eventually fell back due to the severe number of casualties they received; over 55% of the men were killed, wounded, or captured. Sgt. Maj. Christian Fleetwood, a man of few words, but one of the Medal of Honor recipients for his heroism this day, noted in his diary for September 29, “Charged with the 6th at daylight and got used up, Saved colors.”
Next to attack was Col. Alonzo Draper’s Brigade, which included the 5th, 36th and 38th regiments. This brigade attacked in column, and although they took severe casualties, too, they were able to break through the Confederate earthwork line. Nine black men from these units received the Medal of Honor.

Although he did not receive the Medal of Honor, Peter Turner of the 5th United States Colored Infantry was “wounded severely” in the New Market Heights fight. Turner was apparently a free man of color before the war, from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and enlisted in Company I, there on December 10, 1863. Turner carried this identification tag with him during the war until he mustered out of service on September 20, 1865. Today, the tag is among the many significant artifacts in the care of Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Dying Close to Home: Cpl. Anderson Carrington, Co. C, 117th USCI


I apologize for the lack of recent posts, but I'm sure that I'm not the only one who feels that the last week and a half has been a true time of trial. However, in an effort to regain some sense of normalcy, I thought I'd share another soldier's story from Poplar Grove National Cemetery. These posts are usually titled "Dying Far From Home," but this particular story has somewhat of a different twist.

Having lived in Kentucky for six years, and thus studied some of the United States Colored Troops regiments raised there, I was fairly familiar with the 117th USCI (Infantry). The 117th was raised at Covington, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. Like other black Kentucky troops, their recruitment was delayed until 1864. Once organized, equipped, and trained they were transferred to Baltimore, and then to the Petersburg front, where Gen. Grant was grappling with Gen. Lee.

The spring of 1865 found the 117th (officially part of XXV Corps) serving on detached duty with the XXIV Corps near Hatcher's Run, southwest of Petersburg. They joined as part of that corps in the capture of Petersburg on April 3, and then pursued the Army of Northern Virginia to the surrender at Appomattox on April 9, playing an important role as part of the force that cut off any possible chance of further retreat to the west. After the surrender, the 117th returned to Petersburg and City Point as occupation troops for a few months before being sent to the Texas and Mexico border, where they remained for over two years before being mustered out of service.

It was while on post-surrender occupation duty in Petersburg that Anderson Carrington enlisted in the 117th. Carrington's complied service records show his enlistment date as April 28, 1865. Unlike the majority of his comrades who hailed from the Bluegrass State, Carrington appears to have been enslaved in Petersburg before and during the Civil War. The 20-year-old recruit is listed as being 5 feet 4 inches tall, with a "brown" complexion, and having previously worked as a "tobacconist." Laboring in Petersburg's many tobacco factories was a common occupation for both enslaved and free people of color during the antebellum years. Carrington eventually received a $300 bounty for his service commitment.

Although Pvt. Carrington enlisted after the Appomattox surrender, it appears that he took his soldier responsibilities seriously, as he appears as "present" on each muster card up to his final muster out. As additional evidence of this commitment, he received a promotion to corporal on November 1, 1866, in Brownsville, Texas.

But, obviously, Carrington's life story doesn't end there. We do not know Cpl. Carrington's line of thinking nor direction of immediate travel when he left the service in the fall of 1867. However, it appears that he returned to Virginia by 1869, as I found a marriage record for Carrington to Neila Ann Bruce on December 29, 1869 in Halifax County, Virginia. Another marriage record shows for Carrington four years later. This one wed Martha Smith on November 26, 1874, in Petersburg. Yet another marriage record appears for Carrington tying the knot with Bolena (Paulina?) Pryor in Petersburg on May 28, 1879. I was unable to find Carrington in the 1870 census.

Anderson Carrington does appear in the 1880 census in Petersburg. He is listed working in a tobacco factory and living with Paulina, his wife, who worked as a laundress. Also in the household was two-month-old daughter Martha, and brother-in-law Samuel Pryor, who worked as a carpenter. Several other Pryors were neighbors. Carrington also appears in an 1890 veterans census, living in Petersburg. I wonder if he participated in any G.A.R. activities?

In 1910, Petersburg remained Carrington's hometown. That census shows he was still married to Paulina and they had a 16-year-old son named Peter. Carrington's age is noted as 62 and he is shown as a "laborer" working "odd jobs." He could apparently read, but not write, and owned his own home mortgage free.

Records show that Anderson Carrington died before the next census. His death certificate indicates he died on October 9, 1916, from cerebral apolexy, a stroke. Although  Carrington's military enlistment record shows his place of birth as Petersburg, his death certificate (according to information provided by Paulina) states that he was born in Charlottesville. It also lists his father as Richard Carrington and his mother was Millie.

The last bit of information on Carrington's death certificate is that he was buried in Poplar Grove National Cemetery two days after he died. He rests in peace there today in burial plot #5592.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

11 Years . . . and Counting


Today, March 3, 2020, marks the eleventh anniversary of the birth of "Random Thoughts on History." Eleven years has resulted in 1349 posts. That is about 122 posts per year on average, or about ten posts per month.

Some years have resulted in prolific production. During the blog's first year, I churned out 178 posts. In 2012, I must have been in a zone, breaking the 200 posts barrier for the first and only time. I came close again the following year when I fell only seven posts short. Other years seemed like a drought, like 2011 (74), 2016 (75), and 2017 (78).  With so many posts, more than once, I've had to use the blog's search feature to check and see if I had already posted on a specific subject, as I've made an effort to not duplicate.

Over the years, I've developed a number of themed series posts. Some of the most common are:
"Recent Acquisitions to My Library," posts make up over 35 additions.
"Just Finished Reading" book reviews are over 230 of the 1349 posts.
"Zooming In" photo manipulations are about 20 posts.

Hundreds of other singular posts relating to the blog's subtitle of "American, African American, Southern, Civil War, Reconstruction, Public History books and topics" fill "Random Thoughts on History's" pages.

It is my hope to continue posting as long as I enjoy doing so. Sharing my "Random Thoughts" has brought me friends, knowledge, and an ever growing appreciation for sharing the benefits of learning history. 

Thank you for reading!

Monday, March 2, 2020

Freedom through Fighting - William Griffin, 7th USCI



Service in the United States army during the American Civil War was one way enslaved men broke their chains of bondage. Finally allowed to officially enlist in the Federal army when President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect, thousands of enslaved African American men made their way to recruiting stations in areas occupied by the Union army.

In slaveholding yet loyal Border States, like Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, and Missouri, owners could sometimes file claims and receive compensation for the emancipation of their enslaved property who enlisted in the Union army. Such a deed of manumission exists in the collections of Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier.

On September 28, 1864, William Griffin of Worcester County, Maryland, filed a “deed of manumission and release of service” in Baltimore for his former slave, Charles E. Griffin, who enlisted on November 1, 1863, in Company K of the 7th United States Colored Infantry (USCI).

Charles E. Griffin’s service records indicate that he was 23 years old when he enlisted in Berlin, Maryland. Described as 5’ 5 3/4” tall, with a mulatto complexion, Griffin officially mustered into service at Camp Stanton in Charles City, Maryland, on November 12, 1863, enlisting for three years. Upon his muster into service Griffin received a promotion to sergeant.

The 7th USCI was initially detailed to Florida, in the Department of the South, as part of the X Corps. Afterwards transferred to South Carolina, and finally Virginia, the 7th served on the Bermuda Hundred, then in the earthworks just outside of Richmond, as Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Union forces tried to capture Petersburg and Richmond. The 7th USCI battled bravely during the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm on September 29, 1864, showing tremendous fortitude in attacks on well defended Fort Gilmer. Amazingly, Charles E. Griffin survived the desperate fighting at Fort Gilmer. During October 1864, the 7th helped man earthen Fort Burnham (formerly Fort Harrison), which the Federals had captured from the Confederates on September 29.

It was during an exchange of artillery on October 10, 1864, that Sgt. Griffin received a mortal wound in the abdomen by a piece of exploding shell. Taken to a nearby field hospital, he died the following day. Described in his service records as “a brave man, cool in action, and a good soldier,” Griffin rests today in Section D, Grave 237 at the Fort Harrison National Cemetery.

Although sadly Charles E. Griffin did not live to see it, his surviving African American comrades of the XXV Corps were among the first troops to enter Richmond on April 3, 1865, effectively putting yet another nail in the coffin of slavery.   

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Dying Far From Home: Pvt. Charles Alexander, Co. K, 22nd USCI


Whenever I can, or just when I need take a moment away from the busyness of life, I take a short drive over to Poplar Grove National Cemetery and stroll through the thousands of graves there. Doing so restores a sense of humility and gratefulness that few other places can. Included among those buried in Poplar Grove are a number of men who served in various United States Colored Troops regiments. Since moving back to the Petersburg area in 2015, I've made an effort to show my appreciation to them by doing some research on their time in service and posting the information here for others to read and also offer their gratitude.

Resting in grave number 4417, just a few steps inside the cemetery's entrance gate, is Pvt. Charles Alexander, who fought with Company K of the 22nd United States Colored Infantry (USCI). The 22nd was one of the many regiments that was raised primarily of men from Pennsylvania and who mustered and trained at Camp William Penn, which was just outside of Philadelphia.

Pvt. Alexander's compiled service records tell us that he enlisted in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on December 30, 1863. Since his service records state that he was born in Centre County, Pennsylvania, I wondered if I could locate him in the 1860 census. Doing so, would tell me more about him. I was fortunate! I found him!


Alexander was on Eden Township's enumeration in Lancaster County. He is shown as a 30-year-old head of household with the occupation of "farm hand." Living with him was his 27-year-old wife Emaline Alexander, 6-year-old daughter Savila A. Alexander, 4-year-old son William E. Alexander, and 1-year-old son Judge Burnsides Alexander. One has to wonder why Charles named his youngest Judge Burnsides. Did a Judge Burnsides do Charles a favor somewhere along his life path for which he was thankful?  Hmmmmmm. Also living with the Alexanders was 17-year-old "Domestic" Hannah E. Johnson (perhaps Emaline's younger sister?), and 8-month-old Margaret J. Sharp (perhaps Hannah's daughter?). Charles is not shown owning any value of real estate or personal property. Apparently, Charles was literate.

Charles Alexander's service records also tell us he was 34-years-old when he enlisted. He was only 5 feet 3.5 inches tall, and was described having a "brown" complexion. A note on one of his cards says that Alexander had a "varix" or varicose vein on his left leg. In February 1864, while stationed in Yorktown, Virginia, he spent time in a hospital.


The 22nd USCI participated in the June 15, 1864 attacks on Petersburg as part of Hincks' Division of the XVIII Corps. They fought at both Baylor's Farm and along the Dimmock Line of Confederate defenses ringing the Cockade City. It appears that he made it unscathed through those fights. However, in the weeks before their brigade was sent to Deep Bottom to prepare for the fight at New Market Heights they served in the earthworks near Petersburg. It was during this time, when on September 17, 1864, Pvt. Alexander was "killed . . . by explosion of a shell."

A list of last effects are not included among Pvt. Alexander's compiled service records, but his enlistment paper is. It confirms that he was literate, as his neat penmanship signature appears, written with a sure hand.


I cannot help but wonder, if and how, Emaline heard of her husband's death. How did she tell this heartbreaking information to her three children? By the time of his passing they would have been 10, 8, and 5, all old enough to realize their dear loss. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any of them in the 1870 census. However, in searches for Savila Alexander and Judge Burnsides Alexander, two of the couple's children, I located both. Savaila (later Valentine) died in 1944 at West Bradford, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Judge's 1920 death certificate shows he worked as a barber and lived in Bristol, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and died of a kidney ailment.

I salute you Pvt. Charles Alexander. Rest in peace.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Pvt. Samuel Johnson's Unusual Death


Recently, while browsing through the compiled service records of men in the 43rd United States Colored Infantry (USCI), I happened across those of Company H's Samuel Johnson. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Johnson was only 18 years old when he enlisted in the 43rd USCI on April 28, 1864, in Philadelphia. Listed as 5 feet 3 inches tall, and having the ambiguous occupation of "laborer" before joining the Union army, Johnson's regiment suffered significant casualties at the Battle of the Crater, on July 30, 1864. One source put their losses at "one officer killed, ten [officers] severely wounded, and two [officers] taken prisoner." As far as the enlisted men: "twenty-eight men killed, ninety-four wounded, and twelve missing."

Pvt. Samuel Johnson's service records show that it was just over two weeks after the Battle of the Crater that he "deserted on the march near Petersburgh [sic] on August 18, 1864." Johnson's muster card for July and August also states that he owed $23.75 for ordnances (probably for his rifle, cartridge box, and cap pouch) and $6.59 for garrison and camp equipage that he apparently discarded when he fled.

So, why did Johnson desert? Did the horrors of battle and seeing fellow black soldiers massacred at the Crater shake the patriotism of the young man to the core? Was he mistreated in some way by his comrades or officers? Did he suddenly realize that army life was not what he thought it would be? We will likely never know.

Pvt. Johnson's service records show he was "apprehended from desertion on October 30, 1864," just three days after his comrades had battled near Hatcher's Run, southwest of Petersburg. He was placed "under arrest, awaiting trial." However, Johnson would not face a courts martial, because two days later, on November 1, he "Died at Camp near Peebles House." Peebles Farm is shown in the center of the map below.


If you have read Brian Steel Wills's book Inglorious Passages: Noncombat Deaths in the American Civil War you know that Civil War soldiers died in all manner of ways. Some drowned, some fell off railroad cars, some were struck by lightning, some were stuck by felling trees, some were killed by kicking mules, and others were victims of pranks gone bad. Curious to see if I could find out how Pvt. Johnson passed away, I continued to read through his records.

Many Union soldiers who died in service have a set of "Final Statement" papers in their service records. Sometimes these give vague reasons for the death, others make it quite clear. Pvt. Johnson's are quite clear and due to a cause I had not encountered before. It states that he was entitled to a discharge from his service commitment by reason of "Death by resulting from exposure (having deserted and remained in the woods for six weeks) at Camp near Petersburg, Va., on the first day of November 1864." Johnson's "Inventory of effects" sheet reiterate his cause of death: "Exposure incurred during desertion," and claims he "died possessed of no effects."

Being that Pvt. Johnson died so nearby, I thought I might find him resting in peace at Poplar Grove National Cemetery. Many soldiers who died in their Petersburg environs encampments were buried immediately and then reinterred after the war when the government established its area national cemeteries. Unfortunately, his name did not appear on a list of USCT soldiers buried there.

Monday, February 24, 2020

43rd USCI Casualties on October 27, 1864


About three years ago I shared the stories of a couple of 43rd United States Colored Infantry (USCI) soldiers who were killed fighting near Hatcher's Run on October 27, 1864. This coordinated movement by the Union army to try to capture the Boydton Plank Road, and if possible the Southside Railroad, involved three corps (II, V, IX). The IX Corps included Gen. Edward Ferraro's Division, in which the 43rd USCI fought.

The two men who I covered in those posts, Company A's Pvt. Joseph Gatewood and Company B's  Pvt. Joseph Crossman, were both killed in the fighting. Gatewood's service records indicate that he was born in Alabama (likely formerly enslaved), and Crossman's show he was a freeman of color from Maine. I was interested in learning more about some of the other men killed, wounded, and missing in the October 27, 1864 action, so I dove into their service records.

Pushing from east to west, and skirmishing against Confederates across the Smith farm (see bottom center of map), several men fell in the fighting. In Richmond Must Fall: The Richmond-Petersburg Campaign, October 1864, historian Hampton Newsome notes that 28 men from the 43rd USCI became casualties. While looking through the service records of some of the other men who I was able to identify, I was surprised by the diversity of their origins. Knowing that the 43rd USCI was raised in Pennsylvania, I assumed that they were pretty much all free men of color. That was not necessarily the case.

Of course, their self-emancipation and enlistment in the Keystone State meant that they were free at the time they were mustered in, but many of the men were born in various slave states and thus were likely enslaved before making their way north.

Below is a list of the men (in addition Pvt. Gatewood and Pvt. Crossman) that I was able to find in a limited search and who were killed, wounded, or missing in action on October 27. If I am able to locate more in the future I will amend the list and hopefully find all 28 that Newsome noted.

Company A:
Pvt. Henry Hopkins, wounded in action, 21 years old at enlistment, substitute, born in Canada

Company B:
Sgt. James A. Anderson, wounded in action (through the left knee), 22 years old at enlistment, born in Chester County, Pennsylvania

Pvt. Richard Edmonds, wounded in action (through left hand), 20 years old at enlistment, born in New Orleans, Louisiana

Pvt. Edward Stewart, wounded in action (in both thighs), 19 years old at enlistment, born in Juniata County, Pennsylvania

Pvt. Edward Stephney, wounded in action (in right arm), 37 years old at enlistment, born in Frankfort, Kentucky

Pvt. Thomas McPherson Winfield, wounded in action (through left instep), 25 years old at enlistment, born in West Indies

Company D:
Pvt. Reuben Pollett, wounded in action (right forearm & right lower leg), 18 years old at enlistment, born in Virginia

Company G:
Pvt. William Lewis, mortally wounded in action (died Oct. 28), 33 years old at enlistment, born in Virginia

Pvt. Richard Notts, mortally wounded in action (died Oct. 31) "amputation of left forearm," 19 years old at enlistment, born in Glouster, Maryland

Company H:
Pvt. Asa Augburn, killed in action ("bullet wound in the head"), 24 years old at enlistment, born in Montgomery County, Tennessee

Pvt. Jacob Hues, "missing in action near Smith home," 19 years old at enlistment, born in Fayette County, Kentucky

Company I:
Pvt. Jeremiah "Jerry" Myers, wounded in action "amputation of right index finger," 19 years old at enlistment, born in Virginia

White Officers:
2nd Lt. James Roantree, Company A, killed in action "musket ball in the head," 21 years old

1st Lt. William Palmer, Company C, wounded in action

Capt. Joseph Forbes, Company E, wounded in action, 29 years old

1st Lt. Moses Sawyer, Company G, wounded in action left lower leg, 32 years old

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Civil War Scrip: 27th USCI Sutler's Token


For some, the Civil War offered the potential opportunity to make money. A recent study shows that many more men than once thought were likely motivated to enlist due to economic reasons than from patriotic or altruistic reasons. Manufacturers, both North and South, sought out lucrative government contracts and changed their lines of products from peace time goods to equipment and weapons of war in order to cash in. Merchants, too, jumped on the military bandwagon. And some rode it for all it was worth.

In the collections of Pamplin Historical Park and National Museum of the Civil War Soldier are some artifacts that provide evidence of the greed of the era. These artifacts are in the form of sutler tokens. The example shown here is valued at $.25 and issued to men in the 27th United States Colored Infantry (USCI).

Civil War sutlers, in effect, served as that era’s base commissary and post exchange; at least a mobile version of it. These civilian traders, operating with the army’s approval, sold items that the soldiers often needed most, had a difficult time obtaining, or required quickly. Sutlers, offered a virtual general store. They sold things like underwear, socks, pens and ink, cheap books, magazines, and newspapers, razors, and various types of foodstuffs, among hundreds of other items. Sometimes sutlers vended prohibited items, such as alcohol, too. After all, their sole reason for their being with the army was to make a profit.

As one might image, soldiers sometimes resented sutler’s high prices and their questionable quality in goods. Some soldiers applied the less than complementary title of “skinners” to sutlers, due to these seller’s ability to “fleece” their patrons. It was not an uncommon occurrence for individuals and groups of soldiers to thieve or raid a sutler’s stock as a way to retaliate.

Often Civil War soldiers received their supposed monthly pay on an inconsistent basis. In order to increase the chance of soldiers purchasing items from their stock of goods, sutlers minted tokens as a way of extending credit. Since soldiers received their pay infrequently a man could go to the sutler and ask for credit. The sutler would issue the soldier tokens, and to ensure the merchant ultimately received payment, he would have the soldier sign a paymaster’s order. On payday the paymaster paid the sutlers who extended credit before the soldier finally received what remained. Issuing tokens insured that the soldier did not take his business elsewhere.

Raised mainly from free men of color from Ohio, the 27th USCI, spent the majority of their service in Virginia and North Carolina. They participated in the Petersburg Campaign as part of Ferrero’s Division in the IX Corps and were among the United States Colored Troops who fought at the Battle of the Crater (July 30, 1864) and during Grant’s Sixth Offensive (October 27, 1864). They also spent part of their duty on the Bermuda Hundred, where a soldier likely dropped or misplaced this particular token.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Capturing Black Confederate Teamsters


On October 27, 1864, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant continued his strategy to capture Peterburg by making an attempt to sever the Boydton Plank Road, and if possible, the Southside Railroad beyond; Petersburg’s last two supply lines. 

Concerting the actions of the II, V, and IX Corps of the Army of the Potomac on that day resulted in the II Corps briefly cutting the Boydton Plank Road. However, unsupported, they withdrew that evening. Part of Grant’s Sixth Offensive, the battle has been referred to by several names: The Battle of Boydton Plank Road, First Hatcher’s Run, and Burgess Mill.

Private Cornelius B. Baker, a thirty year old soldier in the 1st Maine Cavalry, wrote a letter home to his mother three days after the battle giving a view of his present condition and the results of the fight. Baker began by telling his mother that, “My health is as good as can be expected.” After a short paragraph about the capture of a man named George—perhaps a comrade or kin—Baker got to the heart of the letter, which explained his regiment’s casualties and gains.

“We had a severe battle near this place last Tuesday. Our regiment lost heavily. I think there were about 90 killed, wounded, and missing. Among those that were killed was Lieut. Collins. He was a fine, promising young man, and is deeply lamented by all that knew him. Our men captured quite a number of prisoners, ten army wagons loaded with provisions, and the drivers (all colored men). One of them is with me. . . . He says that God alone knows the suffering there is among the poor [African American] class.”

Baker continued that a number of his comrades’ enlistments expired and thus returned home. He planned to do the same in the spring, if he survived. Baker ended his letter by asking to give his love to friends and family back home. It seems that fortune smiled on Pvt. Baker, as his discharge became final on March 5, 1865, a little more than a month before Appomattox.

Pvt. Baker’s letter is part of the Wiley Sword Collection, held at Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier.

Sketch of “A Mule Driver” by Edwin Forbes, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Butler Medal in the General's Own Words

Much like the Battle of New Market Heights is often forgotten among the Antietams, Gettysburgs, and Vicksburgs of the Civil War, the Butler Medal is little known as well. Commissioned by the commander of the Army of the James, Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, in the wake of the New Market Heights assaults, Butler's medal was given to the courageous black Union soldiers who braved the leaden storm.

In his 1892 autobiography, simply titled Butler's Book, the general explained why he had the medal struck:

"My white regiments were always nervous when standing in line flanked by colored troops, lest the colored regiments should give way and they (the white) be flanked. This fear was a deep-seated one and spread far and wide, and the negro had no sufficient opportunity to demonstrate his valor and his staying qualities of a soldier. And the further cry was that the negro never struck a good blow for their own freedom. Therefore, I determined to put them in position, to demonstrate the fact of the value of the negro as a soldier coute qui coute [cost what it may] and that the experiment should be one of which no man should doubt, if it attained success. Hence the attack by the negro column on Newmarket Heights.

After that in the Army of the James a negro regiment was looked upon as the safest flanking regiment that could be put in line.

I had the fullest reports made to me of the acts of individual bravery of colored men on the occasion, and I had it done for the negro soldiers, by my own order, what the government has never done for its white soldiers - I had a medal struck of like size, weight, quality, fabrication and intrinsic value with those which Queen Victoria gave with her own hand to her distinguished private soldiers in the Crimea. I have caused an engraving of that medal to be printed in this book in honor of the colored soldiers and of myself."  


"Freedom Will Be Theirs By The Sword"

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Bully Photograph - Signal Corps


It has been a while since I shared a "Bully Photograph," but this one caught my attention recently, so I thought I'd post it.

It comes courtesy of the Library of Congress and shows a group of men from the U.S. Signal Corps, apparently on Elk Ridge, near the Antietam battlefield. Sitting among the group are three African American young men.


The young man on the left side of the photograph rests against a small tree as he intently stares at the camera. His slouch hat sits next to the left knee. It is difficult to tell if his clothing is civilian or military, or a mix, however, his coat appears to have lapels. He wears boots rather than shoes. I wonder how he came to be with the army? Was he formerly free or enslaved? Did he come from Washington D.C., Frederick, Maryland, or was he from the country? Did he serve in a United States Colored Troop regiment later in the war?


The boy in the center of the photograph appears to be the youngest of the three. It looks like he has a military forage cap on the right knee. He wears a vertically stripped shirt under an open checked jacket. Either he is too bashful to look into the camera or the shot was taken while his head was slighted bowed. He seems to hold onto the pant leg of the solider sitting to his right. This youngster cannot be more than eight or nine years old, probably even younger. Did he see the terrible sights from the Battle of Antietam? Where were his parents? Did he know the other two black young men in the photograph? What did such a little fellow do for the army?


The third young man, who sits on the far right side of the photograph has his legs crossed and is barefooted. He, like the first, stares at the camera. He wears what looks to be military jacket with epaulets, perhaps a shell jacket, with the too long sleeves rolled up to fit better. What did he do after the war? Who are his descendants? 

We'll likely never know the answers to these questions, but thanks to photography we have this amazing image to record this particular point in time.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Officer's Servant Lost!


From Raleigh, North Carolina's Daily Confederate, April 4, 1865.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Personality Spotlight - Lt. Col. John A. Bross, 29th USCI


Today's post comes courtesy of Mike Spencer, who serves as Secretary for the Petersburg Battlefields Foundation. Mike has been researching many of the Union forts that were built around Petersburg in 1864 and 1865. Many of these earthen fortifications were named for Union officers killed in the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns. You may remember his excellent article that I shared a while back on Fort DuShane. This one provides a nice biography of Lt. Col. John A. Bross.

Lt. Col. John A. Bross, 29th United States Colored Infantry

John Armstrong Bross was born on February 21st, 1826, in Milford, Pennsylvania. Bross eventually relocated to Chicago in 1848, where he would practice law. He held positions such as United States Marshall and Commissioner. He married his wife Isabelle “Belle” Mason in 1856. The couple had two children, a daughter Cora and a son named Mason. Tragically in July of 1861, just as the war was beginning, young Cora passed away at the age of 2 ½. This tragedy loomed over the remaining years of John’s life, leading him to write many letters and poetry in memoriam to his little daughter. His grief would remain strong until he met his own demise three years later while leading his men in battle.

In the early months of the war, Bross did not immediately join the ranks to fight. Understandably with his recent loss of his daughter, along with a successful career, John stayed home with his family. As the war moved into its second year in 1862, Bross finally answered the call to duty. He helped raise several units in his area of Illinois near Chicago. He would be appointed as Captain of Company A, 88th Illinois. With this command, Bross and his men saw action in the Western Theater at such battles as Perryville, Kentucky, Murfreesboro/Stones River, Tennessee, and Chickamauga in Georgia.

Once the state of Illinois finally approved the raising of United States Colored Troops (USCTs), Bross agreed to help raise and lead these men. He became Lieutenant Colonel of that unit, which became the 29th Infantry U.S. Colored Troops. We get a glimpse into this man’s dedication when we read the following quote from Lieutenant Colonel Bross that was heard at an event for the 29th as they prepared to go to Virginia.
"When I lead these men into battle, we shall remember Fort Pillow, and shall not ask for quarter. I leave a home and friends as dear as can be found on earth; but if it is the will of Providence that I do not return, I ask no nobler epitaph than that I fell for my country, at the head of this black and. blue regiment." (Various authors, Colonel John A. Bross, pgs. 10-11)
He and the 29th joined the IX Corps in Virginia as the Overland Campaign was taking place in May of 1864. They did not take part in much fighting but were with the Union Army of the Potomac as they moved south of the James and Appomattox Rivers in June in its attempt to capture Petersburg. Once the initial attempts failed to capture that city, the 29th USCT joined the rest of the Union army in its war of attrition against Robert E. Lee’s army.

In July, Bross and his men were ordered to prepare for a coming assault against the Confederate defenses east of Petersburg. He and his men were specifically trained to assault the enemy works following a mine explosion that would blast a hole in their defenses. Shortly before the assault took place on July 30, 1864, Army of the Potomac commander General George Meade decided not to use the U.S. Colored Troops out of fear of the political backlash if the attack failed. Instead other units that were not as prepared as the USCTs were ordered in first. This shift in the plan no doubt played into the coming disaster that became the Battle of the Crater.

“Colonel Bross was about six feet in height, slender and compactly built. His features were regular and finely molded, and his countenance indicative of strongly marked character, and refined sensibilities. As an officer, his appearance was finer than that of a majority of those in command.” (Various authors, Colonel John A. Bross, pg. 23) This man of honor and dignity, known also for his strong faith in God, had his brave troops ready on the morning of July 30th, the day that many in the Union ranks had been preparing for. At 4:40 a.m. the mine under the Confederate lines exploded, leaving a huge hole in the works. After an initial shock to both sides, Union troops of the IX Corps attacked, led by General James Ledlie’s Division. These troops gained the Confederate works and drove beyond the original line some, but were not prepared for the chaos and confusion that surrounded the Crater. It did not help that their commander, General Ledlie, failed to coordinate the attack well and was somewhere in the rear of his men and, later accused of being drunk. His men did not properly secure the outer trenches and many of them lingered in the actual Crater itself. These delays allowed for the Confederates to recover and respond with violent counterattacks, most notably led by General William Mahone.

General Burnside finally ordered General Ferrero’s division of Colored Troops forward. Colonel Sigfried’s brigade managed to gain some ground and push back Confederates who had started to gain the upper hand. Colonel Henry Thomas’ brigade, which contained the 29th USCT, tried to add to this success as well. Bross was personally leading the brigade into the fight. The brigade was devastated with canister fire and volleys of musketry as it descended into the confusion of the trenches north of the Crater and in some cases into the hole itself. Ferrero’s brigades managed to push a short distance beyond the Crater before withering under intense fire and falling back to the safety of a rear Confederate trench.
Burnside soon ordered one more attack to try and gain Cemetery Hill, which lay about 500 yards beyond Ferrero’s men. It was at this point, around 9:00 a.m. that Lieutenant Colonel Bross climbed out of the trench with the regimental flag in hand, and called on his men to follow him. Approximately 200 of his troops followed their leader forward. It was at this same time that General Mahone launched another powerful counterattack, stopping this last brave attempt by Bross and the USCTs to win the day. At this moment Bross planted the regimental flag in an attempt to rally his men, but “was struck by a minie bullet, in the left side of the head, and fell dead, uttering…’Oh Lord’.” (Various authors, Colonel John A. Bross, pg. 17)

The Confederates soon pushed the Union troops back into the Crater or beyond their original trenches. Burnside ordered his Corps to withdraw, but not before a terrible slaughter took place in and around the Crater for a period of time before the firing stopped, ending this momentous and terrible battle. After the battle, the Confederates identified his body but decided to bury his body with his men.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Recent Acquisitions to My Library


Few Americans today, black or white have heard of the Christian Recorder newspaper. However, for African Americans, particularly those from the Free States, it served as a way of receiving news on how the United States Colored Troops (USCT) were faring in the Civil War. Soldiers and others associated with the USCTs wrote in regularly giving reports. One of those who wrote often was Henry McNeal Turner who helped recruit the 1st United States Colored Infantry and served as its chaplain. Freedom's Witness: The Civil War Correspondence of Henry McNeal Turner has distilled his contributions to the Christian Recorder and provided them for us to read. Edited by Jean Lee Cole, this book is sure to be an excellent and insightful read.


I've had Lincoln and the Politics of Slavery: The Other Thirteenth Amendment and the Struggle to Save the Union by Daniel W. Crofts on my book wishlist since it was published by UNC Press about four years ago. I recently found an inexpensive but well-kept used copy and snatched it up. Everyone know the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States when it was finally ratified in December 1865, but few know a much different 13th Amendment was once proposed, The earlier one would have made slavery perpetual in the states that wanted it as a means of compromising on the issue that was splitting the country in 1861.


The Politics of Black Citizenship: Free African Americans in the Mid-Atlantic Borderland, 1817-1863 by Andrew K. Diemer focuses on the large antebellum free black populations of Baltimore and Philadelphia and the area between these urban locations to examine their struggles for acceptance as citizens. These areas provided thousands of USCT regiments during the Civil War, so I'm intrigued to learn some of the religious, social, and political organizations that helped motivate free blacks to serve in the United States military in effort to end slavery and gain citizenship rights and equality.
 

Examining the lives of Civil War veterans in the post-war years has almost turned into its own special area of study in recent years. Books like Brian Matthew Jordan's Marching Home, Donald R. Shaffer's After the Glory, Paul A. Cimbala's Veterans North and South, and others, are reshaping what we thought we knew about veterans after they came home and pulled off their blue and gray jackets. Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America by James Marten is sure to make an additional valuable contribution to this growing body of scholarship.


As my shallow knowledge of how North Carolina experienced the Civil War deepens, I'm always on the lookout for studies to help me learn even more. Driven from Home: North Carolina's Civil War Refugee Crisis by David Silkenat examines how five groups who were displaced by the tumult of the Civil War in the Old North State moved to find safety and life's necessities. Silkenat looks at white Unionists, pro-Confederate whites (both slaveholding and non-slaveholding), African Americans, and young women to forge this important study. It promises to be a good one!

As always, Happy Reading!

Friday, January 31, 2020

"Interesting from Virginia"

In my ongoing search for sources containing information about prisoners of war captured during the Petersburg Campaign, I decided to try thinking outside the box a bit. Knowing that many of the Petersburg newspapers from the period of the campaign are not digitized yet but being aware that papers of that era reran stories from other newspapers I looked for some papers outside of Virginia. In the July 6, 1864, Raleigh Weekly Confederate, I located a story that originally appeared in the Petersburg Express on July 1.

This extended article, commenting on the results of the Union's Wilson-Kautz Raid across Southside Virginia in late June had several interesting parts under different headings. During the raid, the Union cavalrymen captured numerous wagons and supplies and freed scores of enslaved men, women, and children, who followed the raiders back toward their lines. Before they made it all the way back, they were attacked by Confederate cavalry under Gen. Wade Hampton at Sappony Church and infantry at Ream's Station. Hundreds of Union soldiers found themselves captive, as well as the slaves seeking their protection. 

The article mentions the heterogeneous lot: "the old and the young; the robust and the infirm; the quick footed and the the halt; the bright mulatta clad in tawdry finery, and the ebo-skin and the 'molungeoun,' dressed in homespun." There were supposedly so many that "they occupied nearly the whole of Bank street" in Petersburg.


From the Confederate perspective, these people were uprooted from their comfortable domiciles by the thieving Yankees. It is probably more close to the truth that they were willing to take enormous risks and endure much discomfort in fleeing for a chance at freedom. "And when we thought of these creatures driven from happy and contented homes, and made to walk many long and tedious miles, through heat and dust, until they were hungered and footsore, we could not resist the conviction that the authors of all their troubles had justly merited more that the felon's fate," the reporter wrote. This section of the article closed by stating, "Every Yankee prisoner taken in the raid should be punished, and we hope that our State authorities will see to it that not one escapes."


Immediately following "The Negroes" section was one titled "Yankee Officers in a Novel Capacity." It claimed that after the slaves were recaptured by the Confederates two of the pregnant women in the large group gave birth on the route to Petersburg. One mother gave birth "in the bushes on the side of the road, and the other in an ambulance." Apparently the Confederates made the captured Union officers serve as midwives during the births. Again from the Southern perspective this was only proper. "They [Yankees] profess great love for the poor negro, entice and steal them from human[e] masters and comfortable homes, and it is only right and proper that they should practice what they preach" by helping birth the babies. 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

An Address to the People of the Free States


I've mentioned on here a few times how successful social media can be in advancing the study of history. Yes, along with all the mindless memes and political canting, social media can be a positive. Being able to share primary source documents to multitudes of people is something that I can appreciate, and hopefully you can, too. A perfect example comes from this morning's review of my Facebook feed. I've joined several "groups" that share information on Antebellum Southern, Civil War, and Reconstruction history. This morning I came across a partial transcription of the above document in the The Civil War Era Historian's Page.

Amazingly, I'd never seen this document. I'm not sure how I had not come across it, or at least references to it, in my reading and in searching the Library of Congress website. It just goes to show that one should keep their eyes (and mind) open to new information.

It is a pretty straight forward read and clearly shows the Confederacy's reactionary response to President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Here's the full transcription:

AN ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE OF THE FREE STATES BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SOUTHERN CONFEDERACY.
Richmond, January 5, 1863.
Citizens of the non-slave-holding States of America, swayed by peaceable motives, I have used all my influence, often thereby endangering my position as the President of the Southern Confederacy, to have the unhappy conflict now existing between my people and yourselves, governed by those well established international rules, which heretofore have softened the asperities which necessarily are the concomitants of a state of belligerency, but all my efforts in the premises have heretofore been unavailing. Now, therefore, I am compelled e necessitati rei to employ a measure, which most willingly I would have omitted to do, regarding, as I always must, State Rights, as the very organism of politically associated society.
For nearly two years my people have been defending their inherent rights—their political, social and religious rights against the speculators of New England and their allies in the States heretofore regarded as conservative. The people of the Southern Confederacy have—making sacrifices such as the modern world has never witnessed—patiently, but determinedly, stood between their home interests and the well paid, well fed and well clad mercenaries of the Abolitionists, and I need not say that they have nobly vindicated the good name of American citizens. Heretofore, the warfare has been conducted by white men—peers, scions of the same stock; but the programme has been changed, and your rulers despairing of a triumph by the employment of white men, have degraded you and themselves, by inviting the co-operation of the black race. Thus, while they deprecate the intervention of white men—the French and the English—in behalf of the Southern Confederacy, they, these Abolitionists, do not hesitate to invoke the intervention of the African race in favor of the North.
The time has, therefore, come when a becoming respect for the good opinion of the civilized world impels me to set forth the following facts:—
First. Abraham Lincoln, the President of the Non-Slaveholding States, has issued his proclamation, declaring the slaves within the limits of the Southern Confederacy to be free.
Second. Abraham Lincoln has declared that the slaves so emancipated may be used in the Army and Navy, now under his control, by which he means to employ, against the Free People of the South, insurrectionary measures, the inevitable tendency of which will be to inaugurate a Servile War, and thereby prove destructive, in a great measure, to slave property.
Now, therefore, as a compensatory measure, I do hereby issue the following Address to the People of the Non-Slaveholding States:—
On and after February 22, 1863, all free negroes within the limits of the Southern Confederacy shall be placed on the slave status, and be deemed to be chattels, they and their issue forever.
All negroes who shall be taken in any of the States in which slavery does not now exist, in the progress of our arms, shall be adjudged, immediately after such capture, to occupy the slave status, and in all States which shall be vanquished by our arms, all free negroes shall, ipso facto , be reduced to the condition of helotism, so that the respective normal conditions of the white and black races may be ultimately placed on a permanent basis, so as to prevent the public peace from being thereafter endangered.
Therefore, while I would not ignore the conservative policy of the Slave States, namely, that a Federal Government cannot, without violating the fundamental principles of a Constitution, interfere with the internal policy of several States; since, however, Abraham Lincoln has seen fit to ignore the Constitution he has solemnly sworn to support, it ought not to be considered polemically or politically improper in me to vindicate the position which has been at an early day of this Southern republic, assumed by the Confederacy, namely, that slavery is the corner-stone of a Western Republic. It is not necessary for me to elaborate this proposition. I may merely refer, in passing, to the prominent fact, that the South is emphatically a producing section of North America; this is equally true of the West and Northwest, the people of which have been mainly dependent on the South for the consumption of their products. The other States, in which slavery does not exist, have occupied a middle position, as to the South, West and Northwest. The States of New England, from which all complicated difficulties have arisen, owe their greatness and power to the free suffrages of all other sections of North America; and yet, as is now evident, they have, from the adoption of the Federal Constitution, waged a persistent warfare against the interests of all the other States of the old Union. The great centre of their opposition has been Slavery, while the annual statistics of their respective State Governments abundantly prove that they entertain within all their boundaries fewer negroes than any single State which does not tolerate slavery.
In view of these facts, and conscientiously believing that the proper condition of the negro is slavery, or a complete subjection to the white man,—and entertaining the belief that the day is not distant when the old Union will be restored with slavery nationally declared to be the proper condition of all of African descent,—and in view of the future harmony and progress of all the States of America, I have been induced to issue this address, so that there may be no misunderstanding in the future.
JEFFERSON DAVIS.
Richmond Enquirer Print.
Document and Transcription Courtesy of the Library of Congress