Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

We Cannot Know Their Minds

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on June 15, 2010

ConfederateSoldiers2
Confederate soldiers captured at Gettysburg, 1863, by Matthew Brady.

Over at Civil War Memory, Kevin Levin has a great post on the near-impossibility of really knowing one’s ancestors, particularly those who died long ago and left no correspondence or journals. His post is, I think, motivated in part by real frustration at the tendency of some folks to build a narrative about their ancestors’ beliefs, attitudes and motivations out of — well, out of nothing but their own desires. This is a particular problem with the Lost Causers. They imagine their ancestors as brave and truthful and honest and patriotic and generous not because they actually were — because in fact we cannot know those things — but because those are the traits their descendants want to see in them. It’s not history; it’s fantasy. Based on my read of his blog, Kevin tends to be a pretty equanimous guy in his discourse, but he (quite rightly) makes a sharp and very direct point here:

This is a roundabout way of getting to my main point, which is that most of you with ancestors who fought in the Civil War don’t know a damn thing about them. You don’t know what they thought about slavery, secession, Lee, Jackson, Lincoln, Sherman, emancipation, defeat, victory or anything else for that matter. Without an opportunity to talk directly with them or the benefit of some written document your claim to know why they fought is about as valid as your claim to know why any random individual fought. You just happened to be lucky enough to fall within the same family tree. Your tendency to be offended by a claim about Civil War soldiers or anyone else from that time tells us everything about how you remember the past and nothing about how your ancestor might respond.

In my own case, I’ve been doing a little research on my family, with particular focus on identifying Civil War veterans. It’s turned up some surprises. In one case, I found a soldier who enlisted in a Georgia infantry unit in April 1861, and served the entire war in the same regiment — apparently in the same company — all the way from First Manassas to Appomattox. It’s staggering to think about the things he must have seen, the places and events and people that we know only from books and film. I do think — or maybe only hope — that it’s possible to at least to get a sense of what they knew, a sense of what they went through.

But even if that’s possible, it’s only a snapshot of a moment in time. In most cases we cannot know their minds, their fears, or their motivations, because there is no record of those intangible things. The men who marched off to war in 1861 were, like soldiers today, motivated by a whole range of reasons, often multiple reasons at once, and often by reasons that they cannot fully articulate to themselves.

I’m fortunate that I have a large collection of detailed stories about part of my family — though not involving the branch this particular Confederate inhabits — but even these would not really serve the matter, for they’re inevitably filtered though succeeding generations of perceptions, misunderstandings and prejudices. As you say, these often tell us more about those who have carried on the oral tradition than about the original subject.

I really do wish I could talk to that twenty-year-old soldier, a century and a half ago, and ask him why — why was he enlisting? What motivated him? What did he expect would happen? And I wish I could talk to him again, trudging back home from Appomattox — tired, hungry, hardened, and perhaps traumatized by his experiences.

Those are questions I want to ask, and never can. That’s a hard thing, but to my thinking, it’s preferable to creating an alternate fantasy. That’s no way to honor one’s ancestors.

[Cross-posted as a comment over at Civil War Memory]

Later addition, May 16: Robert Moore, writing over at Cenantua’s Blog, had an outstanding post last month on the the Virginia SCV’s response to the Virginia Confederate History Month debacle, to make the point that those who are most vocal in honoring their Confederate ancestors are actually doing their credibility a lot of harm by making false or entirely irrelevant historical claims (Lincoln was a segregationist! Grant owned slaves!), and by broad-brush assumptions about their Confederate ancestors’ beliefs and motivations that, while comforting to their descendants, are based on nothing more than wishful thinking. Moore’s writing very neatly expresses my thoughts about my own Confederate ancestors, and how they should be viewed:

As I have pointed out, I don’t believe that all [those men] embraced the Confederacy. They may have worn gray uniforms at different points, but belief in “the Cause” is subject to debate. Of those who went willfully (initially), I suspect that most were likely committed to the thought that they were enlisting to “defend their homes”, to “repel the oncoming invasion”, and maybe even believed that states’ rights were in jeopardy, but I remain quite aware that their motivations and that of many of those in high places in the Confederate government were not always one in the same. This is the line that I draw when looking back at my Confederate ancestors; a line between the motivations of the men (as they understood things) and those of the government.

I admire the valor, courage, and sacrifice of the common Confederate soldier. I respect their decision to do what they thought was right, then. I marvel at the stories of their lives in those four short years.

YET, I know what underlying factors were at play, not with the common soldiers, but in the motivations of the Confederacy. I acknowledge that the Confederate government was a government conceived in the interests of preserving slavery. The Southern states felt their power waning in national government as slavery was not being allowed to expand, but was slowly being limited. I acknowledge that high officials took initiative into their own hands, without regard for the common Southerner’s voice.

About these ads

26 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. familyforest said, on September 7, 2010 at 2:19 am

    Great photo and article on knowing our ancestors!

    Here is an interesting on on Audie Murphy and who is ancestors were:

    http://familyforest.wordpress.com

    Aloha!

    familyforest.com

  2. familyforest said, on September 7, 2010 at 2:21 am

    Great photo and article on knowing our ancestors!

    Here is an interesting one on Audie Murphy and who his ancestors were:

    http://familyforest.wordpress.com

    Aloha!

    familyforest.com

    Sorry for double posting but hit the submit button before proofing! So wanted to correct it.
    Cheers!

  3. [...] to be sufficient in not only interpreting her own family’s history — I’ve addressed this before with regard to my own Confederate ancestors — but also in understanding the South, the [...]

  4. Dave Tatum said, on August 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Andy, I have the fortune of having many lettres from my Confederate ancestors, I’m in the process of putting the in order and hope to have them posted soon!
    When I get them on line please take time to read them!
    It’s why I feel the way I do about all Confederates.

    • Andy Hall said, on August 18, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      It’s good that you have those, but most people don’t. In any event, it’s a mistake to take one person’s writings and apply them, broad-brush, to all Confederates. W. H. Tatum’s writings reflect the views and beliefs of W. H. Tatum, which may or may not have been representative of any number of others.

  5. Dave Tatum said, on August 18, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I have compared his letters to many others from The Richmond Howitzers. William was a member of the Howitzers, all seem to fit the mold.
    I agree not all had the same exact views, but all in all they say the same thing, they were fighting to save their homes from an invading army!
    I also trust the writings, from a man on the front lines much more that I do any “Historian” north or south, who will inject his own feelings into his summation.

    • Andy Hall said, on August 18, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      “I have compared his letters to many others from The Richmond Howitzers.”

      You be careful, Dave. That’s the sort of thing an “historian” might do. ;-)

  6. S. Thomas Summers said, on December 5, 2011 at 8:37 am

    My poetry attempts to capture what these men experienced, albeit a guesstimation.

    Thanks for this post.

    All the best.

  7. Forester said, on July 25, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Then there is the other end of the spectrum …. I have photographs, mess kit spoon, buttons, a very damaged LaMat revolver with no cylinder, transcripts of letters …. and oral accounts that one ancestor murdered a black man in cold blood for trying to shake his hand. Now, I don’t know if it “really” happened. But even if his descendants made the story up — what kind of people would gleefully spread such a tale? (They evidentely thought it was a good thing). So even if he wasn’t a killer …. his descendants (still my ancestors) were sicko psychos. :-/

    Then there is the Confederate deserter who was whipped twice and ended up an alcoholic who got hit by an electric street car around 1901 … that’s a little TOO MUCH ancestor knowledge.

  8. dhpatrick said, on October 15, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Andy,

    I’ve thought about what you had to say and do not fully subscribe to it. My legacy – 40 or so years in mentoring/managing soldiers. Working towards making them all they could be. We can have no doubt there are big differences between the environments of the 19th and 20th Centuries, but people are still people. I do not believe it is any easier to determine truthfully how soldiers felt about their country or entering the service from those today and who are alive, and those during the Civil War, who are now deceased. Long sentence structure, sorry!

    Due to some of the conditions which did or did not exist, it may be easier to come to an understanding of how they felt or thought. It is possible to partition the time and location and help the matter further as well.

    Facts such as; how old was the soldier? Did he or his family own slaves? Were there slaves in his county? Did he and his family belong to a particular church? Which level of government had the most affect in the day-to-day changes in his life? What was his and his father’s civilian profession? Was he married with children at the time of the war? How successful was medical science and what were the medical tribulations of his time?

    When did the soldier join, was it during the draft or before? What were the military service exemptions? What did his service record have to say about him? What was his rank? Was his service long or short? Did he receive a bounty for joining the service? Did he receive any citations? How many of his family served together in the same unit? Did he join a veterans organization after the war? How was his grave marked?

    These are only a few of the things that can help show who the soldier was. Rather than make this a marathon reply today, I will reply several times in the course of coming days. I’d like to start with a few different locations, if I may I’ll select Laredo, Texas as my first. To give you a heads up, I’ll talk about Colonel Santos Benavides and the 33rd Texas Cavalry. I’m not related to the colonel, but did have a quasi ancestor serve in the 33rd. My 4th great grand father’s stepson: Corporal John Jay Mahan.

    • Andy Hall said, on October 15, 2012 at 9:20 am

      Thanks. Those are all very important things, and I don’t think we disagree on those points. What I am pushing back against in this piece is the common practice among “heritage” folks of ascribing all sorts of beliefs and motivations on their ancestors (figurative or actual), based on little or no actual evidence. It’s mostly a case of projection, and (mostly unconsciously) filling in the gaps in the historical record of lone-gone folks with supposition and speculation. Remarkably, those ancestors turn out to believe and value and be motivated by the same things as their descendants are in 2012. Funny how that happens [snort!].

      I look forward to hearing from you soon.

  9. dhpatrick said, on October 16, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Andy,

    Your reply seems to take the wind out of my sails, but it doesn’t diminish the tone of your original post.

    Col Benavides, what did he believe? Did he fight for slavery? How about the 33rd Cavalry did they join because they were drafted or because they owned slaves and wanted to defend that right?

    Offered a commission in the Federal Army by Gen Banks, Col Benavides rejected it and accepted a commission as captain in the Confederate Army. That is no small matter and it should be apparent he had a strong commitment to the Confederacy. He was an effective leader, won most of his engagements along the border. Look at his headstone, he was proud of his service. There is no record that the colonel owned any slaves in the 1860 Federal Census Records.

    …and the 33rd Cavalry? Whole families enlisted in the Confederacy. Brothers and cousins alike. Look at the rolls of the 33rd Cavalry and you’ll see what I mean. None of them owned slaves. Some could argue they faced the Confederate draft. Not really. They could have lived on either side of the border. It was more porous back then, than it is today. They could have said it was a gringo war. After all they were mainly Hispanic. You won’t find much about them and their engagements in the history books, but they fought against heavier forces and generally won all their actions. They stopped and pushed back the Federal advance along the border.

    Was Laredo proud of Col Benavides? You bet. Many landmarks there are named after him, including a school. You see; Col Benavides and his men even fought against bandits and Indians. He protected the city of Laredo.

    Next post takes us to Tishomingo County, Mississippi and the 26th Mississippi Infantry. It is a fact there were few to no slaves in the whole county. Look at the Federal Census Records. More about it tomorrow.

    Warm regards,

    Donald Patrick

    • Andy Hall said, on October 16, 2012 at 11:17 am

      Col Benavides, what did he believe? Did he fight for slavery? How about the 33rd Cavalry did they join because they were drafted or because they owned slaves and wanted to defend that right?

      Let me respond by saying again what I’ve tried to say, repeatedly. Individuals are all driven by their own, individual motivations. I believe that soldiers then, like soldiers now, are prompted to volunteer for all sorts of reasons, often multiple reasons at once, and often reasons they themselves cannot fully articulate. In most cases, we simply don’t know why individual soldiers chose to go to war, because they left no individual record of it at the time. (Memoirs written decades later, a so many soldiers did, present their own issues to historians.)

      I don’t think a great many Confederate soldiers would say that they “fought for slavery” — though as Joe Glatthaar points out in his book on Lee’s army, some even joked about it. But at the same time, there’s absolutely no question that the first states to secede — and this includes Texas — seceded and organized themselves into a national government to protect and preserve the institution of slavery. The Confederacy risked armed conflict for that cause, and they got one. And whatever personal motivations individual soldiers may have had for answering the call to arms, collectively their actions, their sacrifice was in the service of the national cause of defending a nation founded explicitly to protect the institution of slavery. To the extent they served the Confederate nation, that’s the cause they ended up defending — regardless of their personal beliefs.

      This is not especially difficult to understand, I think, this distinction between personal beliefs and national objective, which inevitably both get rolled into the identity of the soldier, whether private or general. History is replete with examples of soldiers who fought and sacrificed and showed courage and resolve, but in defense of a bad cause.

      I hope that makes by position clearer. But we may just have to disagree on these things, too.

      Best,

      Andy

  10. dhpatrick said, on October 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Andy,

    I don’t support slavery, never have and never will. I say this to make my position clear. I find myself being forced to appear to be defending it.

    While it is true that Texas and the Confederacy in seceding from the Union did specifically address slavery, there were many other reasons provided as well. At the start of the war, Slavery was not outlawed in the North. Even some of the States that were admitted to the Union on condition of not allowing slavery – had slavery anyway – consider Nebraska. Check their 1860 Federal Census Records. Slavery was not outlawed at the start of the Civil War and not even at the point of the Emancipation Proclamation. The latter merely outlawed (it I may use that word) it in the Southern States. Washington DC, Maryland and other Northern States continued to allow slavery.

    The North needed African-American soldiers. The South would not honor exchanges of African-American prisoners, if they thought the captured soldiers were escaped slaves. Allowing the South to do that would have hurt the Northern recruiting efforts. This is not a matter of speculation.

    The Anti-slavery movement did not gain real traction until the 1790s. As an organized movement, they began to buy the freedom of individual slaves in the North, for some reason not much so in the South. Many slaves in the North gained their freedom in this manner.

    Did the North consider the African-American to be their equal? I don’t know, but consider some facts. Normally they did not allow the integration of African-Americans with their regular troops. The Army was concerned it would affect the morale and discipline of these regular troops. They were organized into total black units, but commanded by only white officers. Those conditions remained in effect until after WWII. This behavior begs discussion.

    I had the opportunity to serve in the 9th Cavalry Squadron, one of the Buffalo Cavalry units. It is surprising the number of people and associations that are not aware these units were only commanded by white officers. ..and there was no integration of white soldiers in the units.

    Last, I might add, Andy; it is the people that fight wars, not a government. If the people do not bear the arms, there can be no war. For anyone to discount Col Benavides’ ardor, or that of the 33r Cavalry, for their actions during the Civil War, they would be wrong. …and I can assure you he and his soldiers did not fight the war alone. To discount their valor and determination would be very misplaced.

    I did have other Southern ancestors that did not believe the South should leave the Union, They resisted under threat of imprisonment and death. I will address them and their actions in time.

    Warm regards

    Donald Patrick

    • Andy Hall said, on October 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      “I don’t support slavery, never have and never will.”

      I never believed you did, nor did I intend to imply otherwise.

      “Slavery was not outlawed in the North.”

      Not true. It was outlawed in many states in the North. Several states (west of Ohio?) never had legal slavery at all. In 1860 the enslaved population of ALL Union states and territories, exclusive of the border states of Maryland, Missouri and Kentucky, was around 1,800, almost all of them in Delaware.

      “Even some of the States that were admitted to the Union on condition of not allowing slavery – had slavery anyway – consider Nebraska. Check their 1860 Federal Census Records.”

      Fifteen. Fifteen enslaved persons in Nebraska in the 1860 census. There are some city blocks in my town that were home to more enslaved persons than the entire Nebraska Territory. If your point is that chattel bondage was still commonplace across the North and the western territories, this is a terrible example.

      “Slavery was not outlawed at the start of the Civil War and not even at the point of the Emancipation Proclamation. The latter merely outlawed (it I may use that word) it in the Southern States. Washington DC, Maryland and other Northern States continued to allow slavery.”

      Again, slavery was indeed outlawed in many states in the North by 1860. I’m also well aware of the complexities and limitations of the Emancipation Proclamation — it was a war measure and, in fact, was presented as such by NARA in its recent CW exhibition.

      You are incorrect, however, when you say that “Washington DC. . . continued to allow slavery” after the EP, because emancipation had been effected there in April 1862, long before the EP was even announced.

      “Did the North consider the African-American to be their equal? I don’t know, but consider some facts. Normally they did not allow the integration of African-Americans with their regular troops. The Army was concerned it would affect the morale and discipline of these regular troops. They were organized into total black units, but commanded by only white officers. Those conditions remained in effect until after WWII. This behavior begs discussion.”

      Begs discussion? Maybe with someone who believes that the North was an egalitarian utopia without bigotry or prejudice. But that person isn’t me, and I’ve never made such a claim. In the decades leading up to the war there was a growing consensus — not universal, but increasingly common nonetheless — in the North that chattel bondage was wrong, and largely incompatible with the broader notion of American ideals. Southern secession forced the question, which was ultimately settled by force of arms. But believing slavery is wrong is NOT the same thing as believing in real equality between whites and African Americans. To put it bluntly, one can still believe in white superiority and be opposed to the institution of slavery, and that would be the case for a great many in the north.

  11. dhpatrick said, on October 16, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Andy,

    Maybe I should have said, Emancipation Proclamation was not meant to outlaw slavery in the North. Would that be more true to form? Because it didn’t outlaw slavery in the North. True freedom was not effected in the North until the end Civil war. As there was a law in Nebraska for no slavery, yet there was slavery, doesn’t mean there was no slavery in Nebraska. The Census recorded the fact, nothing to my knowledge was done about it. Interesting you knew the figure to be 50. What if you were one of the fifty?

    I don’t understand you give the North the benefit of the discussion and you hold the South to your premise. Nice concept. It was actually your original premise we were discussing. …and slavery was still around in DC during the war. As it was in Maryland and many other Northern States. That is an accepted fact.

    Your thoughts about white superiority as opposed to slavery astounds me. Neither ‘should’ have been acceptable. What is the difference? To accept one and ignore the other would be odd in deed. Are you really going to suggest that you can do that?

    I didn’t want to get into this part of the discussion, but I believe you have forced me to it. I know I will appear to lecture, maybe that is my purpose, maybe not. I suspect I will regret this, but here goes:

    If you know statistics, you will already know that reaching anything with a 98% level of determination is almost impossible. 96% is easier, but still a heavy burden of proof. Should that mean we should discount everything that fails to reach the 96% level of confidence, I think not. If you are a perfectionist it is alright to demand 100%, but you will probably end you days in frustration.

    Psychology as a science has always stated; normally people deal with things based on their group frame of reference. In this frame of reference, people like you and I, whom are probably non-conformists, are on the tails of the statistic curve. Our approach to things are not quite within a normal 96% level of confidence for a particular group’s frame of reference.

    Science assures us that most people operate within their group frame of reference. If you wanted a simple cause of why people chose to fight in the Civil War, it was due to this group frame of reference. They did so because they embraced it or they were afraid of the sanctions which could have been imposed on them by the group. It doesn’t change their action or their discussion for it – whether they be dead or alive.

    Myself, I became aware of this science because of my desire to succeed in the development of new soldiers. I must tell you as a concept it has normally been effective for me. Of the thousands of soldiers I’ve mentored, I lost only four, I’m aware of. I really hate to break it down to this level, because they were all truly fantastic soldiers. I remain proud of them all, even the ones I lost.

    In general, the individual frame of reference is not normally as important as the group frame of reference. Your premise can not stand in the norm because of this scientific fact. We non-conformists are only left to sit watch the rest of society march on by. This should explain to you why the news media is deemed so important in the scheme of things. This media issue has not changed in the 237 or so years we have been a nation.

    Actually I could have made this discussion a lot more simple. In the words of Sherlock Holmes “By the method of exclusion, I had arrived at this result, for no other hypothesis would meet the facts.”

    I apologize if I overstated myself. I am a product of my environment, teacher and all. Also if you understand the real horrors of war, as do I, you will understand first hand these matters are not small matters.

    I did make some typos/errors in my last post, but since they were not noticed, I stand silent.

    Warm regards,

    Don

    • Andy Hall said, on October 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm

      “Maybe I should have said, Emancipation Proclamation was not meant to outlaw slavery in the North. Would that be more true to form? Because it didn’t outlaw slavery in the North. True freedom was not effected in the North until the end Civil war.”

      Yes, again, I understand this. I know of no historian — academic or otherwise – who argues differently. It did not end the practice of slavery in the border states that did not secede, either. I don’t know who you’re challenging on this point. I will, though, reiterate that apart from places like Kentucky, Missouri and Maryland, there were very few slaves in “the North” to begin with at that time.

      “…and slavery was still around in DC during the war.”

      You previous comment, though, said that DC “continued to allow slavery” after the EP, which is not correct. Just so we’re clear.

      “As there was a law in Nebraska for no slavery, yet there was slavery, doesn’t mean there was no slavery in Nebraska. The Census recorded the fact, nothing to my knowledge was done about it. Interesting you knew the figure to be 50. What if you were one of the fifty?”

      The number was fifteen, not fifty. I’m not trying to minimize how hard that was for those enslaved, but if we’re talking at the macro level, about the prevalence of slaveholding, then fifteen is a very different thing than, say, 182K in Texas or 400K in South Carolina.

      I’m not sure what you’re driving at when you say, “interesting you knew the figure to be 50 [sic.],” but I looked it up. You suggested I do that, remember?

      “I don’t understand you give the North the benefit of the discussion and you hold the South to your premise. Nice concept. It was actually your original premise we were discussing. …and slavery was still around in DC during the war. As it was in Maryland and many other Northern States. That is an accepted fact.”

      I’ve never said otherwise. But not “many other” Northern states. In fact, only a handful – five states and two territories, by my count, including the border states.

      “Your thoughts about white superiority as opposed to slavery astounds me. Neither ‘should’ have been acceptable. What is the difference? To accept one and ignore the other would be odd in deed. Are you really going to suggest that you can do that?”

      I’m not sure what astounds you about that statement unless you’re assuming that’s a view I endorse and hold myself. It is not, period, full stop. I don’t consider either to be “acceptable.” Nonetheless, it is possible for people can still believe that (1) one group is inherently inferior to another, but (2) should not be bought and sold as property. You don’t have to look very far to find people who believe that men are inherently superior to women, or Christians to Jews, or [fill in the blank] to [fill in the blank], but also don’t consider the other to be property to be bought and sold.

      So let me say it again – in the run-up to the war, there was growing opposition in the North to the institution of slavery, which intensified dramatically once the war began. There was, by the latter part of the war, a strong support for carrying the war to complete victory and crushing the institution of slavery in the Confederacy — but that doesn’t mean most Northerners believed in real equality, either. It’s not an either-or proposition.

      “I didn’t want to get into this part of the discussion, but I believe you have forced me to it.”

      I’ve “forced” you to do nothing.

      I don’t really follow the rest, because it’s couched in pretty abstract terms. But again I will reiterate what I said previously, that individual soldiers are personally motivated by many different things, but that regardless of those individual motivations, they are still also bound up with the cause for which their nation fights. I don’t see that as controversial, at all.

      But I will close with a passage from Grant’s memoir, that rings true down to the present. Discussing the surrender at Appomattox, Grant wrote,

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

      That seems like a good epitaph for the conflict to me.

      I think we’ve driven this discussion into the ground, don’t you?

  12. dhpatrick said, on October 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Andy,

    I guess I expected a more balanced discussion. You presented your legacy for one side and yet behave derisively for the other. I don’t like the direction you are pushing this discussion. I’m not just for the South, I’m also for the North. Your discussion seems to push me in only one direction. I don’t have a chance to deal justice the North. I’m not comfortable with that. …and I believe that to be derisive on your part. For I know I’m capable of praising both sides. I look back over our posts and I don’t see that.

    It is not a matter of fending for myself, it more a matter constructive conversation.

    I wish you adieu in these matters. If ever down the road you want a more balanced discussion let me know.

    What ever it is bothering you, I hope you find the answer and inter peace with yourself.

    Warm regards,

    Donald Patrick

    • Andy Hall said, on October 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      I’m not sure what you want me to say, or how I’m pushing you in one direction. You started this conversation, and for the most part I’ve simply responded — though disagreed on multiple points.

      Need I point out that this discussion started with you accusing me of “yellow journalism?” Sheesh.

      Best,

      AH

      • dhpatrick said, on October 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm

        Andy

        When you discount the facts in favor of your point of view that is yellow journalism. I’ve given you facts which you have chosen to ignore. Don’t know what more I can do. You have been very selective in what you have addressed in my remarks. Lots of other issues you could have focused on. Like I’ve said you are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

        The fact that you do not understand Statistics or Psychology is very telling. Maybe you need to go back to school and that may give you a better understanding.

        It is a shame; you could have used your productivity to help society rather than hurt it. Yet you have chosen to hurt. Your agenda is very plain to all that read these posts.

        I’d like to end this if you will let me – or are you a last word person.

        Warm regards,

        Donald Patrick

        • Andy Hall said, on October 17, 2012 at 6:31 pm

          You have a nice day, Donald. (Does that make me a “last word person”?)

          • Mike Musick said, on October 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm

            Andy,

            This doesn’t relate to your recent exchange with Mr. Patrick, but rather to the main post. For his caption to the photo you use, Thomas A. Desjardin, in “These Honored Dead: How the Story of Gettysburg Shaped American Memory” (Cambridge, MA, 2003), my favorite Gettysburg book, wrote: “Looks can be deceiving. Civil War photographer Mathew Brady took this well-known photograph of three Confederate prisoners at Gettysburg. It is often described as a depiction of the character of Confederate soldiers – stalwart and upright, even in defeat. While used as models of positive Southern traits, the time and place of their capture reveals that these three were likely stragglers or deserters rather than heroes” (for more see pp. 119-121).

            Here is one woman’s unpublished account of a Gettysburg Confederate POW from Alabama who wound up at the Point Lookout, MD, prison camp (please pardon the length). It illustrates the difficulty of knowing their minds. She wrote to her congressman: Gettysburg, Oct. 17th 1864

            Kind Sir, as you requested I will try to tell you what I know of Mr. Walters. The first I knew of him was in the College, then a rebel hospital. Feelings of humanity led me to do something for the poor miserable suffering creatures that lay there. Our own men had placed Mr. W. wardmaster on one story of the building, and the rebels would say if you have anything for us leave it with Walters. He is honest and we will get it. But I did not become acquainted with his views until the general hospital was established. He was appointed nurse in a ward where I was (and would just say here that I was a voluntary nurse with many others; we got nothing, asked nothing for what we done or took from home). I did not confine myself to one set of men, but done what I could for Union and rebel alike. But my heart was with my country, as the rebels well knew, for I spoke my sentiments freely, which led the Union men South to put confidence in me, Mr. W. among the rest. He told me his history. Not knowing whether to believe him, I went to members of his company, who confirmed his testimony. John Howard, since dead and a whole hearted rebel, was one. An old gentleman grey headed badly wounded a merchant before the war and a Union man named H. Wooley knew him from a boy, said he and his father were both staunch Unionists, hard working but honest people. And last but not least was the testimony of his captain, who died at the general hospital. Capt. Livingston came under my care a short time, and as he was very much of a gentleman, pleasant in conversation (though a whole hearted rebel) I liked to talk with him. I will relate as near as I can recollect what passed between us with regard to Mr. W. I said Capt., Had you a man in your company named Walters? He replied yes, two of them. I said can you tell me what their sentiments were with regard to the country? He smiled and said why do you wish to know? I said because John has told me his history, and I want to know whether it be true. Well, he says, you would call them Union men. We call them traitors. Capt., I says, I beg to differ with you. I think a man that remains loyal to his country, not PART OF IT, through such trying times as these, deserves the respect of all good people. I says, pleas answer another question. Walters says they never fought. That is true, said he, the rascals would not fight. I threatened to shoot them, and they told me to shoot. I could not get my consent to do that, but I put them in the front, and I have the satisfaction to know most of them are killed. Yes, Capt., says I, if that is a satisfaction. Out of the seven but two are left. One of them is missing, the other wounded. John Walters is wounded, his brother killed. Both skulking at the time. I don’t doubt that, said he, but the wonder is we were not all killed. It was the hottest place I was ever in in my life, and I have been in a good many battles. We were not there ten minutes until two thirds of us were cut down, I among the rest, and the remainder saved themselves as best they could. A good deal more was said from time to time, but this I think ought to be sufficient to prove his loyalty, coming from such a source. Mr. Walters had the confidence of all who knew him. He went in and out when he pleased, and I heard the Union men who knew him best try to persuade him not to go to prison, but to walk out of the camp, and he would never be inquired after. But he thought he would take the oath and be honorably acquited. Instead he has been kept a prisoner of war. And now dear Sir I hope you will excuse the length of this letter. I know men of business don’t like to spend time reading details, but I did not know how to help it. I am not used [to] writing to Honorables, and I feel that it is a task, but that duty demands it of me. I am not personally interested in Mr. W., don’t expect to benefit, but I think justice demands his release, and I am willing to add my mite towards its accomplishment. Relying on the goodness of heart I know you possess, I am with respect your humble servent [I'm not including the name of the writer, as I'd like eventually to publish this, along with several related letters. - Mike]

  13. kennethuil said, on April 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    “The Fall of the House of Dixie” also contains the claim that Grant owned slaves. I’ve been trying to find trustworthy online sources to confirm or deny this, without much success. Do you know for a fact that he didn’t?

    • Andy Hall said, on April 12, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      I don’t believe I’ve ever claimed that Grant never owned a slave. Grant owned one slave during his lifetime, a man named William Jones, possibly received from his father-in-law, probably in 1858. Grant formally manumitted (freed) Jones in March 1859, foregoing substantial potential revenue to himself by doing so. Grant was not rabidly anti-slavery (or overtly political in other ways) before the war, but his father Jesse was. Jesse, in fact, had lived with John Brown’s family as a young man, and knew the then-teenaged John Brown well.

      You can read more about the Jones case on Bob Pollock’s blog.

      • kennethuil said, on April 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm

        Thanks!

        I misinterpreted your mention of Grant above (“…actually doing their credibility a lot of harm by making false or entirely irrelevant historical claims (Lincoln was a segregationist! Grant owned slaves!)” Now I see you meant “Grant owned slaves!” (or rather, *a* slave) as irrelevant rather than false.

        • Andy Hall said, on April 12, 2013 at 4:22 pm

          Happy to clarify. Grant did own a slave, briefly, and freed him after a few months. What I was originally responding to was a common (and false) claim that Ulysses S. Grant owned multiple slaves through the entire war, and never freed them until required to do so by law. The idea is the show some sort of deep, personal hypocrisy on the part of one of the architects of the defeat of the Confederacy. But even if it were true, it wouldn’t do what they seem to think it does, which is to show that the ultimate goal of emancipation, picked up by the Union at the mid-point of the war, was — what? Disengenuous? Morally bankrupt? I don’t know.

          Anyway, it’s a popular idea in some circles.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 337 other followers

%d bloggers like this: