J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “” North”

Not Just a Southern Thing

Those who are less familiar with the War Between the States will often assume that only Southerners fought for the “Southern Cause.” Although this is primarily the case, many Northerners (otherwise known as Southern sympathizers, or Copperheads) also supported and/or fought for the Confederacy. Likewise, many foreigners fought for the South as well. Because Southerners were primarily of Irish and Scottish decent, many Scot-Irish fought for the South. Native Americans also fought for the Confederacy. In other words, it was an interesting hodgepodge of characters that made up the Confederate army.

Occasionally, new gravesites are being discovered in foreign lands that belong to soldiers who fought for the Confederacy. In the May/June 2014 edition of the SCV Magazine, an editorial discussed how a Confederate grave was recently found in Scotland. The grave was discovered just outside Dundee, and it was the result of more than 15 years of searching. Nearly 100 graves have also been found in England, with many more under investigation. Some of these gravesites belong to Americans who relocated across the pond after the war.

There are also many informative places on the web where those interested can discover more about Confederates with overseas ties. One Facebook group known as “English Friends of the South” has members from all over the world. It is dedicated to preserving Southern history.

Privations, Suffering and Deliberate Cruelties

Starvation, literal starvation, was doing its deadly work. So depleted and poisoned was the blood of many of Lee’s men from insufficient and unsound food that a slight wound which would probably not have been reported at the beginning of the war would often cause blood-poison, gangrene, and death.

Yet the spirits of these brave men seemed to rise as their condition grew more desperate . . . it was a harrowing but not uncommon sight to see those hungry men gather the wasted corn from under the feet of half-fed horses, and wash and parch and eat it to satisfy in some measure their craving for food.”  General John B. Gordon, “Reminiscences of the Civil War.”

“Winter poured down its snows and its sleets upon Lee’s shelterless men in the trenches. Some of them burrowed into the earth.  Most of them shivered over the feeble fires kept burning along the lines. Scanty and thin were the garments of these heroes.  Most of them were clad in mere rags.

Gaunt famine oppressed them every hour. One quarter of a pound of rancid bacon and a little meal was the daily portion assigned to each man by the rules of the War Department. But even this allowance failed when the railroads broke down and left the bacon and the flour and the mean piled up beside the track in Georgia and the Carolinas.  One-sixth of the daily ration was the allotment for a considerable time, and very often the supply of bacon failed entirely.

At the close of the year, Grant had one hundred and ten thousand men. Lee had sixty-six thousand on his rolls, but this included men on detached duty, leaving him barely forty thousand soldiers to defend the trenches that were then stretched out forty miles in length from the Chickahominy to Hatcher’s Run.” Henry Alexander White, “Life of Robert E. Lee.”

“When their own soldiers were suffering such hardships as these in the field, the Confederate leaders made every effort to exchange men so that helpless prisoners of war would not suffer in anything like equal measure, offering even to send back prisoners without requiring an equivalent.  Hence, the charges brought against the Confederate government of intentional ill-treatment of prisoners of war are not supported by the facts.

[In  the South] the same quantity and quality of rations were given to prisoners and guards; but that variety in food could not be had or transported on the broken-down railway system of a non-manufacturing country, which system could not or did not provide sufficient clothes and food even for the Confederate soldiers in the field.

[The] control of the prisons in the North was turned over by Secretary Stanton and the vindictive and partisan men (who were later responsible also for the crimes of Reconstruction) to the lowest element of an alien population and to Negro guards of a criminal type, and such men as President Lincoln, Seward, McClellan, and the best people in the North were intentionally kept in ignorance of conditions in Northern prisons while officially furnished with stories as to “the deliberate cruelties” practiced in the South.”

(The Women of the South in War Times, Matthew Page Andrews, Norman, Remington Company, 1920, pp. 399-406)

Battle Hymn of Hatred

Music played a significant role in the War Between the States. The South had a battle song, “Dixie,” so the North wanted its own as well. In 1862, a year into the war, Julia Ward Howe came up with new lyrics to a melody that was already familiar, “John Brown’s Body.” Ironically, her husband, Dr. Samuel Howe, was a financial supporter of the raid at Harper’s Ferry, where John Brown was captured and hung for treason. Both he and his wife were staunch abolitionists.

Mrs. Howe was inspired to write “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” after visiting Washington D.C. and witnessing Union soldiers’ campfires flickering on the outskirts of town. At the time, the song was considered inspirational in its religious references.  Mrs. Howe was a member of the Unitarian Church,which is said to be more atheistic in their beliefs. This held true for Mrs. Howe as well. The strong sentiment and symbolic overtones in the lyrics she wrote are indicative of the hatred she apparently felt for Southerners in general; not just toward Confederates.

This song is commonly sung in churches and at patriotic events today. However, the problem arises when one considers the lyrics. They will find that “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is hate-filled rhetoric consisting of derogatory implications. It is no wonder that people realize the negative aspects and refuse to sing the anthem. It is interesting to note that the song is performed frequently at Southern churches within the Bible Belt. “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored” is one example of a symbolic reference – vintage representing the blood of Southern people. When a song becomes controversial, it is generally avoided, and many in the South feel this sentiment. Just as African-Americans have for centuries fought to acquire respect and equality, it seems only fair that any song deemed offensive by any group such as “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” should be discontinued as well.

Song of the South

No one knows for sure where the word “dixie” originated. Some believe that it was a shortened nickname referring to the Mason-Dixon Line, while others think it came from ten-dollar notes that were widely used and issued from Louisiana (“dix” is French for “ten). By the 1850’s, the term “dixie” was directly associated with the South.

The song “Dixie’s Land” is commonly believed to have been written by Daniel Emmett, although others emerged who contested this. The melody became popular in black face minstrel shows, and after the start of the War Between the States, became the Southern anthem. (The North felt as though it needed an anthem as well, so it adopted the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.) Many variations in the lyrics appeared at this time, as was common practice back then. The song was played at both President Lincoln’s and President Davis’ inaugurations. It was a favorite of Lincoln’s, who also requested that the song be played during the Grand Review after the war was over. And, of course, it was played at Emmett’s funeral.

Unfortunately, during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, “Dixieland” became associated with negative, racist implications, rather than having been considered as an important piece of history, ancestry, and Southern heritage. Recently, it was banned from being played at Ole Miss sporting events. When local school children in Mississippi were asked if they knew the song, none of them recognized it. Personally, I think that’s a shame.

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