The following is a letter-to-the-editor of the Charleston, SC Post and Courier September 15, 2018 defending the crew of the Confederate submarine CSS Hunley against a letter-writer's accusation that they were traitors. It applies to all Confederates. This letter was not published by the Post and Courier but has been published in the Abbeville Institute Blog ("Confederate Soldiers Were Not Traitors", October 3, 2018) and other places.
Dear Editor of The Post and Courier,
A letter writer on September 12, 2018 is adamant that the proposed museum for the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley should not be incorporated into Patriot's Point because Patriot's Point honors the U.S. Navy and those "who defended the U.S. and its Constitution" whereas the CSS Hunley crew were traitors.
He is correct that the Hunley's sinking of the USS Housatonic to become the first submarine in history to sink an enemy ship in combat was an historic event, but he errs grievously when he says the Hunley should also be remembered "for their pardons for treason." That is fake history.
The Hunley crew gave their lives for their country. They were not charged with treason and nobody associated with the Hunley sought a pardon.
The writer is confused about our country's founding because nowhere in the U. S. Constitution in 1861 did it say the Federal Government had a right or obligation to wage war against any state in the Union for any reason.
The country was not centralized in those days and each state was sovereign and independent and had been since the Colonists won the Revolutionary War. King George III agreed to the Treaty of Paris, September 3, 1783, which stated:
Article 1st. His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz, New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free, sovereign and independent states . . . .
No state ever rescinded its sovereignty or gave up its independence.
In fact, three states were so protective of their independence that they insisted, before they would join the new Union, that they could secede from it if it became tyrannical in their eyes. Those states were New York, Rhode Island and Virginia. Because all the states were admitted to the Union as equals, the acceptance of the right of secession demanded by New York, Rhode Island and Virginia, gave that right to all the other states.
The right of secession was not questioned during the antebellum era. It was taught in places like the United States Military Academy at West Point in famous texts such as William Rawle's "A View of the Constitution of the United States of America." The New England states with their Hartford Convention almost seceded over the War of 1812, but the Southern boys under Andrew Jackson defeated the British in New Orleans and ended the war. New England threatened secession again with the admission of Texas in 1845. Even Horace Greeley believed in the right of secession ("let the erring sisters go") until he realized the loss of his Southern manufacturing market and cotton threatened to destroy the Northern economy, and along with it, his wealth and power. Then he wanted war.
In the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the Founding Fathers called for the Constitution to be ratified by each state through a special convention of the people to decide that one issue, rather than through their legislatures. If they ratified it through their legislatures, a later legislature might rescind the ratification of an earlier legislature, therefore a convention of the people was a more sound basis for a state to approve the Constitution.
When the Southern States seceded, they followed the exact precedent set by the Founding Fathers in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Each Southern state called a convention of the people (commonly called a secession convention), elected delegates as Unionists or Secessionists, debated the single issue of whether to stay in the Union or leave, then seven states voted to secede. Four rejected secession for the time being.
When the guns of Fort Sumter sounded, there were more slave states in the Union (eight, soon to be nine) than the Confederacy (seven). Of course, the four that had rejected secession, immediately seceded when Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to invade the South because they did not believe the Federal Government had a right to invade a sovereign state or coerce it to do anything.
Secession was their legal right and they did it properly. So, the idea that the crew of the CSS Hunley were traitors, is ludicrous.
I might remind the letter writer that the Hunley crew's ancestors, like all Confederate ancestors, gave our country independence because the Revolutionary War was won in the South.
And the Hunley crew's descendants, being from the South - a region that reveres military service - helped mightily to win every other American war.
Patriot's Point represents the highest ideals of American valor and patriotism, and there is none greater than that exhibited by the crew of the CSS Hunley.
The Hunley museum should not only be at Patriot's Point, it should be the star of Patriot's Point. The Hunley is only part of the story of the Siege of Charleston, which was one of the longest sieges in history. Anyone who has seen some of the hundreds of pictures of Charleston destroyed from the Battery to Calhoun Street by Union shelling from ships such as the USS Housatonic, knows there is a tremendous story here. The Confederate semi-submersible cigar-shaped vessels (Davids) that harassed the Union blockade as well as the ironclads, Palmetto State and Chicora, and blockade runners, are not as well known as the Hunley but just as fascinating. All of this should be told at Patriot's Point.
Patriot's Point could become one of the greatest historical assets on the planet. With Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, and the new International African-American Museum coming soon, Charleston could dominate history tourism like nowhere on earth and take us to a level we can't even imagine right now.
We Are in a Political Fight and Not a History Debate
by Gene Kizer, Jr.
(published in Confederate Veteran magazine, May/June, 2018)
Since the 1960s, the interpretation of Southern history and the War Between the States put forth by most of the news media and academia is largely a fraud. It is driven by the racist identity politics of the Democrat Party and not historical truth.
If Southern history was interpreted objectively as it was before 1960, instead of with liberal political hate as it is today, nobody would dare remove a monument to soldiers in a war in which 800,000 were killed and over a million wounded,i half of which were Confederate soldiers who were always hungry, ragged, outnumbered and outgunned, but exhibited valor such as the world had never seen.
Drew Gilpin Faust in her excellent book, This Republic of Suffering, Death and the American Civil War, uses the earlier statistics of 620,000 total deaths compiled by William F. Fox, and she writes that those deaths were "approximately equal to the total American fatalities in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War combined."ii If you use Hacker's statistics, you'd have to add Vietnam, both Gulf Wars, Afghanistan and the war on terror; in other words, deaths in the War Between the States were higher than all other American wars combined, with room to spare.
Faust says the rate of death "in comparison with the size of the American population, was six times that of World War II. A similar rate, about 2 percent, in the United States today would mean six million fatalities."iii
Confederate soldiers "died at a rate three times that of their Yankee counterparts; one in five white Southern men of military age did not survive the Civil War."iv
She quotes James McPherson who writes that "the overall mortality rate for the South exceeded that of any country in World War I and that of all but the region between the Rhine and the Volga in World War II."v
To personalize some of those statistics, Confederate Col. George E. Purvis was quoted in Confederate Veteran magazine, March, 1897, from an article he had written about Union Gen. Henry Van Ness Boynton and the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Gen. Boynton, with great respect for the courage of the Confederates he faced, wanted to make it a sacred memorial, not just to Union valor, but American valor.
Col. Purvis writes that Gen. Boynton and a friend had visited the Chickamauga battlefield on a quiet Sunday morning in the summer of 1888 and heard singing in a church nearby. The general's thoughts went from those sweet sounds to the hellish and "fearful horrors of that other Sunday, when the very demons of hell seemed abroad, armed and equipped for the annihilation of mankind" almost a quarter of a century earlier:vi
They saw again the charging squadrons, like great waves of the sea, dashed and broken in pieces against lines and positions that would not yield to their assaults. They saw again Baird's, Johnson's, Palmer's, and Reynolds's immovable lines around the Kelley farm, and Wood on the spurs of Snodgrass Hill; Brannan, Grosvenor, Steedman, and Granger on the now famous Horseshoe; once more was brought back to their minds' eye, "the unequaled fighting of that thin and contracted line of heroes and the magnificent Confederate assaults," which swept in again and again ceaselessly as that stormy service of all the gods of battle was prolonged through those other Sunday hours.
Their eyes traveled over the ground again where Forrest's and Walker's men had dashed into the smoke of the Union musketry and the very flame of the Federal batteries, and saw their ranks melt as snowflakes dissolve and disappear in the heat of conflagration.
They stood on Baird's line, where Helms's Brigade went to pieces, but not until three men out of four - mark that, ye coming heroes! - not until three men out of every four were either wounded or dead, eclipsing the historic charge at Balaklava and the bloody losses in the great battles of modern times.
They saw Longstreet's men sweep over the difficult and almost inaccessible slopes of the Horseshoe, "dash wildly, and break there, like angry waves, and recede, only to sweep on again and again with almost the regularity of ocean surges, ever marking a higher tide."
They looked down again on those slopes, slippery with blood and strewn thick as leaves with all the horrible wreck of battle, over which and in spite of repeated failures these assaulting Confederate columns still formed and reformed, charging again and again with undaunted and undying courage.
In the "Balaklava" reference above, Gen. Boynton is noting Confederate valor far in excess of the famous "Charge of the Light Brigade" of the British cavalry against Russian forces in the Battle of Balaclava, October 25, 1854, in the Crimean War.
The unfounded bigotry against the South in history today is liberal politics and not history. Every Confederate monument that has been removed, was removed from a college campus or by a liberal Democrat starting with Mitch Landrieu in New Orleans, despite widespread support for the monuments in New Orleans and nationwide (over 60% of Americans in polls say to leave Confederate monuments alone). Michael Signer in Charlottesville couldn't remove his monuments so he covered them with tarps that are constantly removed by outraged citizens.
These Democrat Party cultural Nazis are more like ISIS when ISIS destroyed the monuments in Palmyra, "a first-century Roman city in Syria whose classical architecture was an inspiration for the facade of the U.S. Capitol."vii Mitch Landrieu had to remove the New Orleans monuments at night with snipers in bullet-proof vests standing guard.
ISIS destroys the monuments and culture of anybody who does not agree with them. Sound familiar?
There is a rot in history in this day and age. Keith Windschuttle, in The Killing of History, brings up a 1987 book by Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, in which Bloom argues persuasively that radical theory in academia had changed things so much that
humanities and social science departments within universities [where History resides] had abandoned objectivity and truth and become hopelessly politicized.viii
If you doubt that academia and the fake-news media are overwhelmingly liberal (with all that that means for truth), consider that in the 2016 election, the 33 wealthiest colleges in the United States gave $1,560,000 to Hillary Clinton. They gave Donald Trump $3,000.ix
Around 96% of money donated by journalists went to Hillary Clinton. In numbers of journalists giving, 50 gave to Republican Donald J. Trump, while 430 gave to Clinton. That means 10% of journalists donated to Republican Trump, and 90% to Democrat Clinton.x
Windschuttle writes: "Most young people today were taught to scorn the traditional values of Western culture - equality, freedom, democracy, human rights - as hollow rhetoric used to mask the self-interest of the wealthy and powerful. This teaching, Bloom argued, had bred a cynical, amoral, self-centered younger generation who lacked any sense of inherited wisdom from the past."
It is worse than just the politicization of history. Windschuttle points out that for 2,400 years history has ranked "with philosophy and mathematics as among the most profound and enduring contributions that ancient Greece made, not only to European civilization, but to the human species as a whole." History's "essence" has been to "tell the truth, to describe as best as possible what really happened."xi
Unfortunately today, "these assumptions are widely rejected."xii
Many in the humanities and social sciences "assert that it is impossible to tell the truth about the past" because "we can only see the past through the perspective of our own culture and, hence, what we see in history are our own interests and concerns reflected back at us." Because of this, supposedly, the entire point of history is no longer valid therefore "there is no fundamental distinction any more between history and myth" (Nietzsche had the same view over a hundred years ago) or between "fiction and non-fiction."xiii In other words, nothing exists except what liberals tell us exists.
Perhaps academics are right because it is certainly fiction that slavery caused the War Between the States. As Shelby Foote said, slavery was an element in the drama but not the cause of the war. Over 94% of Southerners in over 80% of Southern families did not own slaves according to the 1860 census. Men do not charge into "the smoke of the Union musketry and the very flame of the Federal batteries" as Col. Purvis noted, so somebody else can own slaves; but they do so enthusiastically for independence, especially if their country is invaded, and especially because their sires were the patriots who won American independence in 1776.
Windschuttle reveals the outrageousness (almost to the point of stupidity) of the liberal academic mindset. This would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic:
One of the reasons the humanities and social sciences have been taken over so quickly by the sophistry described in this book is because too few of those who might have been expected to resist the putsch understood what its instigators were saying. The uninitiated reader who opens a typical book on postmodernism, hermeneutics, poststructuralism et al must think he or she has stumbled onto a new foreign language, so obscure and dense is the prose. Now, this happens to be a very effective tactic to adopt in academic circles where there is always an expectation that things are never simple and that anyone who writes clearly is thereby being shallow. Obscurity is assumed to equal profundity, a quality that signals a superiority over the thinking of the uneducated herd.xiv
Like Big Brother said:
War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
And now academia says:
Clarity is shallowness. Obscurity is profundity.
God help us.
David Harlan points out more academic gobbledygook and liberal hate in his book, The Degradation of American History. He says that, starting in the 1960s with the Civil Rights Movement, leftist historians began criticizing American history as elitist. They said it "focused our attention on great white men at the expense of women and minorities, that it ignored the racial and ethnic diversity of national life, that it obscured the reality of class conflict." They wanted to expose the complicity of white men "in the violence and brutality that now seemed to be the most important truth about American history." They "feel no need to say what is good in American history."xv
Eugene D. Genovese, one of American's greatest historians before his death in 2012, wrote this in 1994:
Rarely, these days, even on Southern campuses, is it possible to acknowledge the achievements of the white people of the South. The history of the Old South is now often taught at leading universities, when it is taught at all, as a prolonged guild-trip, not to say a prologue to the history of Nazi Germany. . . . To speak positively about any part of this Southern tradition is to invite charges of being a racist and an apologist for slavery and segregation. We are witnessing a cultural and political atrocity.xvi
Dr. Genovese goes on to say that this cultural and political atrocity is being forced on us by "the media and an academic elite."xvii
I could go on and on, and I do in longer works that will be out later this year, so let me wrap up this article by pointing out that the monuments and memorials of both sides that went up in the early twentieth century were hugely symbolic for our reunited nation and the healing from a war that had killed 800,000 and wounded over a million. Drew Gilpin Faust writes:
At war's end this shared suffering would override persisting differences about the meanings of race, citizenship, and nationhood to establish sacrifice and its memorialization as the ground on which North and South would ultimately reunite. Even in our own time this fundamental elegiac understanding of the Civil War retains a powerful hold."xviii
The original Confederate Veteran magazine was established and ran from 1893 to 1932. It includes the definitive account of the War Between the States and the monuments that went up to honor Southern valor and sacrifice. It was written by Confederates who participated, soldiers, generals, women, politicians. You can not find a single angry or hateful word in the entire 40 year run, nothing but the most sincere outpouring of love and respect and the memorialization of Southern - indeed American - honor, valor and sacrifice. Today's Confederate Veteran has the same standard of truth and excellence and has since the SCV took it over decades ago.
The portrayal of the Confederacy by the fake-news media and hateful liberal academia is overwhelmingly a fraud. The American Historical Association is a national embarrassment and should change its name to the American Ahistorical Association.
Monuments in the South were paid for by pennies from children and an impoverished region that had been destroyed 35 years earlier, but it found money, a little here and there over the years, to honor its warriors, leaders and their families, and courage such as the world had never seen before. As Union Gen. Boynton said, he
looked down again on those slopes, slippery with blood and strewn thick as leaves with all the horrible wreck of battle, over which and in spite of repeated failures these assaulting Confederate columns still formed and reformed, charging again and again with undaunted and undying courage.
We are in a political fight and not a history debate. We need to look at it from that standpoint and develop creative comprehensive strategies to take on and defeat our enemies. The highest priority is to develop political influence.
Observe how business people and politicians brand and market successfully. The NRA is a great example and they are under attack all the time as we are.
The SCV, UDC, reenactors and every historical organization should push for, or support efforts, to put laws on the books protecting monuments in every state where there is no law. This goes back to political influence. Our Heritage Act in South Carolina has been effective though it is constantly under attack.
Camps should make it a high priority to construct roadside battle flag memorials on private property in highly visible places. We should put 10 up for every monument that has been removed. New Orleans and Charlottesville, Baltimore, and other places should be awash with battle flags, then we should write, publish and speak constantly, and tell what those flags stand for.
Learn. Read books and increase your historical knowledge. Read my book: Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument., that's on www.CharlestonAthenaeumPress.com, www.BonnieBluePublishing.com and Amazon. My book has 218 footnotes and 207 sources in the bibliography so it is full of documentation you can use.
Join the Abbeville Institute and the Society of Independent Southern Historians and participate.
Update Wikipedia articles when you see historical prejudice against the South. Review local school texts and refute them when necessary. Write letters-to-the-editor of newspapers.
Do whatever you can. Give money. Speak. Write. Share information.
We are going to have to do all this ourselves, but in the age of the Internet and social media, we have enormous power at our fingertips, and it goes along nicely with historical truth.
Gene Kizer, Jr. graduated magna cum laude from the College of Charleston in 2000 with History Departmental Honors and the Outstanding Student Award for the History Department. He is founder and publisher of Charleston Athenaeum Press. He is author of Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument.; The Elements of Academic Success, How to Graduate Magna Cum Laude from College (or how to just graduate, PERIOD!); Charles W. Ramsdell, Dean of Southern Historians; Charleston, SC Short Stories, Book One: Six Tales of Courage, Love, the War Between the States, Satire, Ghosts and Horror from the Holy City. There are sample pages of all his books on www.BonnieBluePublishing.com.
i These are the widely accepted statistics of historian J. David Hacker of Binghamton University. See Rachel Coker, "Historian revises estimate of Civil War dead," published September 21, 2011, Binghamton University Research News - Insights and Innovations from Binghamton University, http://discovere.binghamton.edu/news/civilwar-3826.html, accessed July 7, 2014. Hacker's range is 650,000 to 850,000. He uses 750,000, but my feeling is that total deaths are on the high side of his range, so I use 800,000 in my writing.
ii Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering, Death and the American Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), xi.
vi "American Valor at Chickamauga", Confederate Veteran, Vol. V, No. 3, March, 1897.
vii "ISIS' crimes against history", Charleston, SC Post and Courier op/ed, September 1, 2015.
viii Keith Windschuttle, The Killing of History, How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past (New York: The Free Press, 1996), 10.
ix "Donald Trump Campaign Lacking in Support from Academic Donors" by Carter Coudriet, August 16, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/cartercoudriet/2016/06/16/donald-trump-campaign-lacking-in-support-from-academic-donors, accessed January 25, 2017.
x See David Levinthal and Michael Beckel article, October 27, 2016, "Journalists shower Hillary Clinton with campaign cash", https://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/10/17/20330/journalists-shower-hillary-clinton-campaign-cash, accessed January 25, 2017.
xi Keith Windschuttle, The Killing of History, How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past (New York: The Free Press, 1996), 1-2.
xv David Harlan, The Degradation of American History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), xv. This paragraph comes verbatim from the Introduction to my book, Charles W. Ramsdell, Dean of Southern Historians, Volume One: His Best Work (Charleston: Charleston Athenaeum Press, 2017).
xvi Eugene D. Genovese, The Southern Tradition, The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), xi-xii. This is also verbatim from Ramsdell, Dean of Southern Historians, Introduction.
The Absurdity of Slavery as the Cause of the War Between the States
by Gene Kizer, Jr.
(Published in Confederate Veteran magazine, March-April, 2017)
Slavery as the cause of the American War Between the States is an absurdity of biblical proportions. The great historian Shelby Foote was right when he said that slavery "was not the true cause of the war. It was an element in the cause of the war, but it was not what the war was really fought about. The war was really fought about whether the federal government should dominate state government. In other words, it was basically states' rights . . . ".i
I have written a book entitled Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument.ii in which the argument is laid out in detail with 218 footnotes and over 200 sources in the bibliography. In this brief article, I would like to touch on the main reasons why slavery was not the cause of the War.
The primary cause of the War Between the States was the impending economic annihilation of the North when the first seven Southern states seceded. The rapidly deteriorating Northern economy created a backdrop of extreme urgency, fear, unrest and anger in the North, and it drove all actions of Lincoln and Northern leaders in the winter and spring of 1861. A solution had to be found quickly or a major catastrophe was going to happen in the North and lead to, at worst, anarchy, and, at best, a greatly diminished economic position in the world. Just the talk of secession caused extreme trepidation to many such as the Daily Chicago Times, which wrote on December 10, 1860, a week before South Carolina's secession convention was to convene:
In one single blow our foreign commerce must be reduced to less than one-half what it now is. Our coastwise trade would pass into other hands. One-half of our shipping would lie idle at our wharves. We should lose our trade with the South, with all its IMMENSE PROFITS. Our manufactories would be in utter ruins. Let the South adopt the free-trade system, or that of a tariff for revenue, and these results would likely follow. If protection be wholly withdrawn from our labor, it could not compete, with all the prejudices against it, with the labor of Europe. We should be driven from the market, and millions of our people would be compelled to go out of employment.iii (Emphasis added.)
Northerners quickly discovered that their enormous wealth and power, as well as most of their employment, were dependent on the South, on manufacturing for their captive Southern market and shipping Southern cotton. Cotton alone was 60% of US exports in 1860. Southerners were growing 66% of the world's cotton, but Northerners shipped that cotton and "handled virtually everything else" making huge profits in the process.iv
Without the North, the South was in great shape with 100% control of King Cotton.
Without the South, the North was dead.
To make matters worse, the insatiable greed of Northern leaders in Congress, who were utterly ignorant of basic economic principles, led directly to devastating mistakes such as the astronomical Morrill Tariff. The Morrill Tariff threatened to instantly rerout most US trade from the North into the South because of the South's low tariff. Protective tariffs were unconstitutional in the South where a free trade philosophy reined. The Morrill Tariff added 47 to 60% to goods coming into the North. Compare that with the South's 10% tariff for the operation of a small federal government in a States Rights nation. As with all the protective tariffs of the antebellum period, the Northerners who passed the Morrill Tariff assumed it would fall on the South. However, the South was out of the Union and no longer obliged to pay Northern tariffs. This one fell on the North with disastrous effect. Economic historian Philip S. Foner, in his excellent book Business & Slavery, The New York Merchants & the Irrepressible Conflict, writes:
On April 1, the Morrill Tariff would go into effect, and after that date the duties on the principal articles of import would be nearly twice as heavy at New York as they would be at New Orleans, Charleston, and Savannah. The consequences of this difference in duties were not difficult to see. Anything that had happened thus far in the secession crisis was mild compared with what the immediate future would bring.v
The Morrill Tariff was like pumping gasoline into a fire. It was a one-two punch for the North.
The North had lost its manufacturing market because Southerners were dying to get out from under exorbitant Northern prices jacked up by the federal government, which gave Northern businesses protective tariffs, bounties, subsidies, monopoly protection, etc. Texas Representative John H. Reagan told Northern representatives in Congress in early 1861: "You are not content with the vast millions of tribute we pay you annually under the operation of our revenue law, our navigation laws, your fishing bounties, and by making your people our manufacturers, our merchants, our shippers."vi Georgia Senator Robert Toombs called it a suction pump sucking wealth out of the South and depositing it in the North, and it was made up of:
Bounties and protection to every interest and every pursuit in the North, to the extent of at least fifty millions per annum, besides the expenditure of at least sixty millions out of every seventy of the public expenditure among them, thus making the treasury a perpetual fertilizing stream to them and their industry, and a suction-pump to drain away our substance and parch up our lands.vii
Henry L. Benning, one of Robert E. Lee's most able brigadier generals and for whom Fort Benning, Georgia is named, said $85,000,000, a gargantuan sum in those days, was the amount flowing continually through Robert Toombs's suction pump: "Eighty-five millions is the amount of the drains from the South to the North in one year, drains in return for which the South receives nothing."viii The prescient Benning also said:
The North cut off from Southern cotton, rice, tobacco, and other Southern products would lose three fourths of her commerce, and a very large proportion of her manufactures. And thus those great fountains of finance would sink very low. . . . Would the North in such a condition as that declare war against the South?ix
So, the North had lost its manufacturing market due to greed and abuse via the federal government, and now it was going to lose its shipping industry overnight, again, because of greed, the unbelievable greed of the Morrill Tariff as Northern ship captains beat a path to the South. Foner goes on:
The war of the tariffs has been ignored in most studies devoted to the antebellum period, yet it is doubtful whether any event during those significant months prior to the outbreak of the Civil War was as influential in molding public opinion in the North. Certainly in New York City, it caused a political revolution. It brought to an end any hope that Union could be preserved peacefully.x
Southerners were paying 3/4ths of the taxes going into the federal treasury, but 3/4ths of the tax money was being spent in the North.xi How long do you think Northerners would tolerate paying 3/4ths of the taxes if 3/4ths of the tax money was being spent in the South?
No wonder the Northern states loved the Union and no wonder Abraham Lincoln said over and over for the first two years of the war that the purpose of the war is to preserve the Union, not end slavery. That's why Lincoln supported the Corwin Amendment that left black people in slavery forever, even beyond the reach of Congress, and he used it to lobby seceding governors to stay in the Union.
That's why the North's War Aims Resolution of July, 1861 states that "this war is not waged upon our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor for the purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or institutions [slavery] of the States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution [which allowed and protected slavery], and to preserve the Union."xii
That's why the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation of September 22, 1862 states: "I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare that HEREAFTER, AS HERETOFORE, THE WAR WILL BE PROSECUTED FOR THE OBJECT OF PRACTICALLY RESTORING THE CONSTITUTIONAL RELATION BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES, AND EACH OF THE [seceded] STATES, . . ." (Emphasis added).
The great Southern writer, William Gilmore Simms, said: "No doubt that, in one sense, they [Northerners] cherish the Union, but only as the agency by which they prosper in uncounted prosperity. It is to them, the very breath of life; it has made them rich and powerful, & keeps them so. No doubt they love the South, but it is as the wolf loves the lamb, coveting and devouring it."xiii
For the North, the War was not about ending slavery. Four slave states fought for the North throughout the War, and West Virginia, the fifth Union slave state, was admitted to the Union during the war. It is an indictment of the North that so few slaves lived in Union states yet the North still refused to abolish slavery. For the North, it was about preserving the Union, which was the source of Northern wealth and power. It was about establishing the supremacy of the federal government over the states (Northerners were the "Federals" during the War) because that arrangement allowed the North to control business and rule the entire country with its larger population, and it flowed money into the North from the rest of the country.
Even Northern anti-slavery was economic, and it is misnamed. It should be called anti-South instead of anti-slavery because it was in no sense pro-black. Charles P. Roland said "There was a significant economic dimension in the Northern antislavery sentiment" and "a racial factor contributed to the Northern attitude" because:
Many Northerners objected to the presence of slavery in their midst, in part, because they objected to the presence of blacks there.xiv
This objection to the presence of blacks was also why many Northerners did not want slavery in the West, because they didn't want blacks near them in the West, and most Northern and Western states including Lincoln's Illinois had laws on the books forbidding free blacks from living there or even being there longer than a few days. Historian David M. Potter states that Northern anti-slavery was "not in any clear-cut sense a pro-Negro movement but actually had an anti-Negro aspect and was designed to get rid of the Negro."
From the very beginning, Northerners, especially New Englanders, were America's slave traders who, with the British before them, brought most of the slaves here and made huge fortunes in the process. Even after the slave trade was outlawed in 1808, Northerners still carried it on vigorously right up to the war.xv Besides, genuine abolitionists in the North were only 2 to 5% of the electoratexvi and many were hated. Elijah Lovejoy had been murdered in Illinois in 1837.
Charles Dickens, the great British writer also published a periodical All the Year Round and was up on current events and horrified by the American war. He said that "Every reasonable creature may know, if willing, that the North hates the Negro, and that until it was convenient to make a pretence that sympathy with him was the cause of the War, it hated the abolitionists and derided them up hill and down dale."xvii Dickens also said that the federal government compelled the South "to pay a heavy fine into the pockets of Northern manufacturers" so that "every feeling and interest on the one side [South] called for political partition, and every pocket interest on the other side [North] for union."xviii
For the South, 1861 was 1776 all over. The War was about independence, self-government and maintaining the republic of the Founding Fathers in which states were supreme and the federal government weak and subservient. It was about economic independence and free trade, and not being ruled over by the Republican Party, which had used unbridled hatred and encouragement of terrorism to rally its votes. George Washington had warned that sectional parties would destroy the country but Wendell Phillips proudly proclaimed that the Republican Party is the party of the North pledged against the South.
For the North, war was better than anarchy as Philip S. Foner notes: "It was also exceedingly logical that when all the efforts to save the Union peacefully had failed, the merchants, regardless of political views, should have endorsed the recourse to an armed policy. . . . When they finally became aware of the economic chaos secession was causing, when they saw the entire business system crumbling before their very eyes, they knew that there was no choice left. THE UNION MUST BE PRESERVED. ANY OTHER OUTCOME MEANT ECONOMIC SUICIDE."xix (Emphasis added.)
The Manchester (N.H.) Union Democrat wrote on February 19, 1861, one day after Jefferson Davis's inaugural: "In the manufacturing departments, we now have the almost exclusive supply of 10,000,000 of people. Can this market be cut off, and we not feel it? Our mills run now, why? Because they have cotton. . . .But they will not run long. We hear from good authority that some of them will stop in sixty days."xx They went on:
[W]hen people realize the fact that the Union is permanently dissolved, real estate will depreciate one half in a single year. Our population will decrease with the decline of business, and matters will go in geometrical progression from bad to worse until all of us will be swamped in utter ruin.
The Morrill Tariff made things worse. In a March 12, 1861 editorial "What Shall Be Done for a Revenue?", ten days after the passage of the Morrill Tariff, The New York Evening Post warned of the hopelessness of the Northern situation:
[A]llow railroad iron to be entered at Savannah with the low duty of ten per cent., which is all that the Southern Confederacy think of laying on imported goods, and not an ounce more would be imported at New York: the railways would be supplied from the southern ports. Let cotton goods, let woolen fabrics, let the various manufactures of iron and steel be entered freely at Galveston, at the great port at the mouth of the Mississippi, at Mobile, at Savannah and at Charleston, and they would be immediately sent up the rivers and carried on the railways to the remotest parts of the Union.xxi
The New York Evening Post goes on to say that if the taxes aren't collected from the South then "the sources which supply our treasury will be dried up; we shall have no money to carry on the government; the nation will become bankrupt before the next crop of corn is ripe."
Tennessee Representative Thomas A. R. Nelson, who had submitted the Minority Report of the House Committee of Thirty-three, observed firsthand the crumbling Northern economy. In a speech just before the War, he said:
Three short months ago this great nation was, indeed, prosperous and happy. What a startling, wondrous change has come over it within that brief period! Commercial disaster and distress pervade the land. Hundred and thousands of honest laboring men have been thrown out of employment; gloom and darkness hang over the people; the tocsin of war has been sounded; the clangor of arms has been heard.xxii
Representative Nelson is talking about the North only, where "the tocsin of war has been sounded; the clangor of arms has been heard." Down South, there was no such feeling of desperation, only triumph, patriotism and jubilation over independence.
Imagine the calculation in the mind of Abraham Lincoln, president of the North, as his region collapsed. He could see no way out. He knew the South controlled the most demanded commodity on the planet, cotton, and he knew the South was tight with England and seeking to be tighter. He knew that once Southerners completed trade and military alliances with Great Britain and other European countries, the North would not be able to beat the South. Because of cotton, the South would ascend to dominance in North America, trading freely with the world.
The Confederate Constitution encouraged free states to join the Confederacy. Slavery was not required. Slavery was up to each state. Southerners were convinced that several Northern and Western states, especially those along the great rivers such as the Mississippi, would join the CSA and this petrified Lincoln. Southerners would also start manufacturing for themselves very soon.
Lincoln knew he had to get the war started as quickly as he possibly could. With each day that went by, the South got stronger and the North got weaker. There was no advantage to waiting a second longer. He was anxious to put up a naval blockade and force Europe to take a wait-and-see attitude toward the South, then he could let the North's huge advantages such as four times the white population, almost all of the country's manufacturing, an army, a navy with fleets of warships, a functioning government with unlimited immigration for the army, huge advantages in armaments, etc. wear out the South. War would also solve his political problems as people rallied to the flag.
The economic issues in play in the spring of 1861 are far more powerful causes of the war than slavery. I have only scratched the surface in this short article.
i Shelby Foote in article "Foote defends flag's meaning," The (Charleston, SC) Post and Courier, front page, January 16, 2000.
ii Gene Kizer, Jr., Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument. (Charleston, SC: Charleston Athenaeum Press, 2014).
iiiDaily Chicago Times, "The Value of the Union," December 10, 1860, in Howard Cecil Perkins, ed., Northern Editorials on Secession (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1964), Vol. II, 573-574.
iv Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, Jenifer Frank, Complicity, How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery (New York: Ballantine Books, 2005), 7, 25.
v Philip S. Foner, Business & Slavery, The New York Merchants & the Irrepressible Conflict (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1941), 277-278.
vi John H. Reagan, "Speech of Representative John H. Reagan of Texas, January 15, 1861," in Congressional Globe, 36 Congress, 2 Session, I, 391, as cited in abridged version of Kenneth M. Stampp, ed., The Causes of the Civil War, 3rd revised edition (New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1991), 89.
vii Robert Toombs, "Secessionist Speech, Tuesday Evening, November 13" delivered to the Georgia legislature in Milledgeville, November 13, 1860, in William W. Freehling and Craig M. Simpson, Secession Debated, Georgia's Showdown in 1860 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 38.
viii Henry L. Benning, "Henry L. Benning's Secessionist Speech, Monday Evening, November 19, 1860, in Freehling and Simpson, Secession Debated, 132.
ix Henry L. Benning, "Henry L. Benning's Secessionist Speech, Monday Evening, November 19, 1860, in Freehling and Simpson, Secession Debated, 132.
xi See earlier quotations of Sen. Robert Toombs, and Henry L. Benning in this article. Also, the Address of the People of South Carolina, Assembled in Convention, to the People of the Slaveholding States of the United States, adopted 24 December 1860 by the South Carolina Secession Convention, Charleston, S.C. in John Amasa May and Joan Reynolds Faunt, South Carolina Secedes (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1960).
xii The War Aims Resolution passed the U.S. House of Representatives July 22, 1861, and the Senate July 25, 1861. There were only two dissenting votes in the House and five in the Senate.
xiii William Gilmore Simms, "Antagonisms of the Social Moral. North and South.", unpublished 1857 lecture housed in the Charles Carroll Simms Collection of the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, 38-42.
xiv Charles P. Roland, An American Illiad, The Story of the Civil War (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1991), 3.
xvi Lee Benson, "Explanations of American Civil War Causation" in Toward the Scientific Study of History (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1972), 246, 295-303, in Gavin Wright, The Political Economy of the Cotton South, Households, Markets, and Wealth in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1978), 136.
xvii Charles Dickens, letter to W. W. De Cerjat, 16 March 1862, in Graham Story, ed., The Letters of Charles Dickens (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), Vol. Ten, 1862-1864, 53-54.
xviii The short quotations from Charles Dickens come from articles that are all quoted in Charles Adams, When in the Course of Human Events, Arguing the Case for Southern Secession (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publilshers, Inc., 2000), 90-91.
Here is a bitingly satirical letter to the editor of the Charleston, SC Post and Courier published January 28, 2019. Following the copy from the newspaper itself, is the actual letter I sent to the Post and Courier, which contains two footnotes.
From: Gene Kizer, Jr. - Charleston Athenaeum Press
Subject: Letter to the Editor of The Post and Courier for Publication
Dear Editor of The Post and Courier,
Here is a letter for publication. I have included a couple footnotes following the letter to document my sources.
I was appalled to read your article entitled "Under foot, Once-ubiquitous boot scraper now mainly a historic home adornment" (Real Estate, 1/20/2019). Surely you know that many of those boot scrapers were constructed during the Jim Crow era and are therefore symbols of white supremacy racism.
I read your article by Robert R. Macdonald entitled "How history shapes Charleston's landscape of memory" (Commentary, 1/2/19) in which Mr. Macdonald states that our Confederate monuments "could rightfully be called Jim Crow monuments because their creation coincided with the restoration of white supremacy."
That surprised me because none of the monuments say anything about white supremacy. All they talk about are valor and war dead in a war in which somewhere between 650,000 and 850,000 Americans were killed, and over a million wounded. Here in South Carolina, we supplied approximately 60,000 Confederate soldiers to Southern armies, and 40,000 were either killed or wounded (20,000 were killed).
That's why monuments went up, North and South. Both sides honoring war dead is what brought our country back together.
Regardless, the main issue today is those racist boot scrapers. They shouldn't be removed, but we should denounce Jim Crow and where it started. Let's consult distinguished historian C. Vann Woodward who wrote a famous book entitled The Strange Career of Jim Crow. He writes: "One of the strangest things about the career of Jim Crow was that the system was born in the North and reached an advanced age before moving South in force."
Death statistics for the war have been upped from 620,000 to between 650,000 and 850,000. These are the widely accepted statistics of historian J. David Hacker of Binghamton University. See Rachel Coker, “Historian revises estimate of Civil War dead,” published September 21, 2011, Binghamton University Research News – Insights and Innovations from Binghamton University, http://discovere.binghamton.edu/news/civilwar-3826.html.
C Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow (Oxford, New York, et al.: Oxford University Press, 2002), 17.
Thank you for considering my letter!
Sincerely, Gene Kizer, Jr. Charleston, SC 29412-2418
Radio Free Rocky D was at the Battle of Secessionville Commemoration June 15, 2019 and interviewed me, Gene Kizer, Jr., after my talk. He is a heritage ally and awesome interviewer! We talked for forty-five minutes and he opened the whole thing with Dixie! Click below to listen:
Here is the text of the address given by Gene Kizer, Jr. at the Battle of Secessionville Commemoration, which took place on the battle site at Fort Lamar Heritage Preserve June 15, 2019. Fort Lamar is on James Island between Folly Beach and Charleston, South Carolina. This memorial service honored the 157th anniversary of the brilliant Confederate victory of June 16, 1862. The Battle of Secessionville was an extremely important battle because, if the Confederates had lost, Charleston would have been lost early on and hopes for Southern independence ended quickly. When the battle started at 4:30 a.m. it was 500 Confederates against 7,000 Yankees. The fighting went on for two hours and included bloody hand-to-hand combat on the parapet twice. There were approximately 700 Union casualties and 200 Confederate. Accounts of the battle itself are detailed and exciting so I quoted participants and primary sources extensively, while putting it all in meaningful order. I spoke from this text so it's not footnoted but the sources are all there.
Thank you, ______.
It is a tremendous honor to stand on this sacred ground and speak to you this morning as we commemorate one of the most important battles of the War Between the States: the Battle of Secessionville.
There had not been that much immigration into the South in the antebellum days. The Confederates of 1861 were largely the same blood as the patriots who fought the British in 1776.
They had the same strong feelings about liberty and self-government.
Indeed, the most widely quoted phrase of the secession debate in the South during the year leading up to South Carolina's secession came from the Declaration of Independence:
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
The country was not centralized in those days. Each state was sovereign and independent, like the countries of Europe. King George III agreed to the Treaty of Paris, September 3, 1783 which listed EACH American state then proclaimed them all "to be free, sovereign and independent states . . . ".
No state ever rescinded its sovereignty or gave up its independence.
In fact, three states INSISTED, before they would join the new Union, that they could secede from it if it became tyrannical in their eyes. Those states were New York, Rhode Island and Virginia.
Because all the states were admitted to the Union as equals, the acceptance of the right of secession demanded by New York, Rhode Island and Virginia, gave that right to all the other states as well.
Tomorrow, June 16, 2019, will be the 157th Anniversary of the Battle of Secessionville which started on this hallowed ground before dawn on June 16, 1862, fourteen months into the war. If this battle had been lost, Charleston would have been lost, then soon, the war.
Charleston was a HUGE symbol for both sides.
Charleston is where the Confederacy began when South Carolinians met here on December 20, 1860 in a solemn convention of the people and voted unanimously, 169 to 0, to secede from the Union.
Charleston is where the war began 16 weeks later, on April 12, 1861, after Abraham Lincoln refused to remove his troops from sovereign South Carolina soil.
Instead, he lied to the Southerners, promising to remove the Fort Sumter garrison while secretly ordering it reinforced.
He sent "8 vessels, carrying 26 guns and about 1,400 men" to reinforce Fort Pickens in Pensacola, and to land 200 soldiers at Fort Sumter with a year's worth of supplies. (Strode)
He knew full well that would start the war.
When Major Anderson, Union commander inside Fort Sumter, received notification that he would be resupplied and possibly reinforced, Anderson responded with a letter on April 8th that stated in part:
. . . a movement made now when the South has been erroneously informed that none such will be attempted, would produce most disastrous results throughout our country. . . . We shall strive to do our duty, though I frankly say that my heart is not in the war which I see is to be thus commenced....
Major Anderson SEES that the war is to be "Thus commenced" by Abraham Lincoln.
The importance of holding Charleston can not be overstated.
Gen. Robert E. Lee wrote to Gen. Pemberton and said: "The loss of Charleston would cut us off almost entirely from communications with the rest of the world and close the only channel through which we can expect to get supplies from abroad, now almost our only dependence."
Gen. Lee added that Charleston was "to be fought street by street and house by house as long as we have a foot of ground to stand upon."
A resolution stated the same thing:
Resolved, That the governor and Executive Council concur in opinion with the people of South Carolina, assembled in Convention, that Charleston should be defended at any cost of life or property, and that in their deliberate judgment they would prefer a repulse of the enemy with the entire city in ruins to an evacuation or surrender on any terms whatever.
The North wanted to destroy Charleston as badly as we wanted to protect her.
Horace Greeley's New York Tribune on June 9, 1862, one week before the Battle of Secessionville, stated:
'Doom' hangs over wicked Charleston. That viper's nest and breeding place of rebellion is, ere this time, invested by Union Arms--- perhaps already in our hands. If there is any city deserving of holocaustic infamy, it is Charleston. . . .
This is the same Horace Greeley who believed in the right of secession and stated it proudly -- let our erring sisters go -- until he realized it would affect his money. Then he wanted war as did the whole North.
Southern secession had triggered the beginning of an economic collapse in the North. They had not realized that their economy was largely based on manufacturing for the South and shipping Southern cotton. Cotton alone was 60% of US exports in 1860.
Most of the North's wealth and power was dependent on the South. Tens of millions of dollars flowed out of the South and into the North annually because of tariffs, bounties, subsidies, and monopolies for Northern businesses.
Southerners were paying most of the taxes, yet, outrageously, three-fourths of the tax money was being spent in the North.
Georgia Senator Robert Toombs called it a suction pump sucking wealth out of the South and depositing it in the North, and it was made up of:
Bounties and protection to every interest and every pursuit in the North, to the extent of at least fifty millions per annum, besides the expenditure of at least sixty millions out of every seventy of the public expenditure among THEM, thus making the treasury a perpetual fertilizing stream to them and their industry, and a suction-pump to drain away our substance and parch up our lands.
Henry L. Benning, one of Gen. Lee's most able brigadier generals and for whom Fort Benning, Georgia is named, said $85,000,000, a gargantuan sum in those days, was the amount flowing CONTINUALLY through Robert Toombs's suction pump.
The prescient Benning also said:
The North cut off from Southern cotton, rice, tobacco, and other Southern products would lose three fourths of her commerce, and a very large proportion of her manufactures. And thus those great fountains of finance would sink very low. . . . Would the North in such a condition as that declare war against the South?
Without the North, the South was in great shape with 100% control of the most demanded commodity on the planet: cotton.
Without the South, the North was dead. And they were starting to panic.
The Daily Chicago Times wrote on December 10, 1860, a week before South Carolina's secession convention was to convene:
In one single blow our foreign commerce must be reduced to less than one-half what it now is. Our coastwise trade would pass into other hands. One-half of our shipping would lie idle at our wharves. [If] We should lose our trade with the South, with all its IMMENSE PROFITS. Our manufactories would be in utter ruins. Let the South adopt the free-trade system and these results would likely follow. We should be driven from the market, and millions of our people would be compelled to go out of employment.
The Manchester (N.H.) Union Democrat wrote on February 19, 1861, one day after Jefferson Davis's inaugural:
In the manufacturing departments, we now have the almost exclusive supply of 10,000,000 people. Can this market be cut off, and we not feel it? Our mills run nowwhy? Because they have cotton. . . .But they will not run long. We hear from good authority that some of them will stop in sixty days.
Sixty days from February 19th, is right at the beginning of the war. The war started 52 days from that editorial.
The Union Democrat went on:
[W]hen people realize the fact that the Union is permanently dissolved, real estate will depreciate one half in a single year. Our population will decrease with the decline of business, and matters will go in geometrical progression from bad to worse until ALL of us will be swamped in utter ruin.
The MorRILL Tariff made things worse. It was adopted March 2nd, 1861, just before Lincoln was inaugurated, and made the cost of entry into the North 37 to 50% higher than entry into the South, so NOBODY wanted to do business with the North. The Northern shipping industry was shifting to the South overnight where Northern ship captains headed for their cargoes. Ten days after the MorRILL Tariff was passed by the Northern Congress, The New York Evening Post wrote:
[A]llow railroad iron to be entered at Savannah with the low duty of ten per cent., which is all that the Southern Confederacy think of laying on imported goods, and not an ounce more would be imported at New York: . . . the railways would be supplied from the southern ports. . . . Let cotton goods, let woolen fabrics, let the various manufactures of iron and steel be entered freely at Galveston, . . . at the great port at the mouth of the Mississippi, . . . at Mobile, . . . at Savannah . . . and at Charleston, and they would be immediately sent up the rivers and carried on the railways to the remotest parts of the Union. . . . the sources which supply our treasury will be dried up; we shall have NO MONEY to carry on the government; . . . the nation will become bankrupt before the next crop of corn is ripe.
Imagine the calculation in the mind of Abraham Lincoln, president of the North, as his region collapsed. He could see no way out. He knew the South controlled the most demanded commodity on the planet, cotton, and he KNEW the South was tight with England and seeking to be tighter. He knew that once Southerners completed trade and military alliances with Great Britain and other European countries, the North would NOT be able to beat the South. Because of cotton, the South would industrialize and ship its own commodities and ascend to dominance in North America, trading freely with the world. They had always wanted free trade and had made protective tariffs unconstitutional.
When you compare the overwhelming resources of the North with the South: The North had FOUR TIMES the white population of the South --- maybe 200 times or more the manufacturing. There was not a single factory in the South capable of building marine engines but there were 19 in the North. The North had an extensive railroad system, a functioning government with access to unlimited immigration with which to feed Union armies, an army, a navy, a merchant marine fleet, relationships with all the governments of the world, a solid financial system . . .
Lincoln was a man 40 feet tall, armed to the teeth with modern weaponry, facing a man five foot tall carrying a musket.
Of course Lincoln wanted to fight. He could not WAIT to fight. That's why he did not withdraw his troops from Fort Sumter. That's why he landed troops at Fort Pickens in Pensacola hours before Fort Sumter was bombarded. That's why he sent his hostile reinforcement mission to Charleston in the first place.
Some in the Northern press agreed. The Providence (R.I.) Daily Post wrote on April 13, 1861, as Fort Sumter was being bombarded, "We are to have civil war, . . . because Abraham Lincoln loves a party better than he loves his country. . . . Mr. Lincoln saw an opportunity to inaugurate civil war without appearing in the character of an aggressor."
Both sides realized that James Island was the key to taking Charleston and despite problems here and there, as well as severe shortages of everything, the defenses of Charleston were BRILLIANT. The Confederates defenders, many of whom were native Charlestonians, were fearless, and they knew the terrain.
A member of the 1st South Carolina Regiment who was in action in Charleston, B. A. O. Norris, of Graham Texas, stated in Confederate Veteran magazine, December 1907, about Charleston:
I think I am right when I state that this was the only place besieged that did not yield to the forces besieging it. It was stronger and abler to repel any attack on the day that it was evacuated than ever before.
Brigadier General Roswell Sabine Ripley wrote a good article entitled "Charleston and its Defenses." in 1885. Ripley had done a lot of the work.
EVERY approach to Charleston had to be taken into account. Ripley said the lines of defense extended from "the inland channel opposite Christ Church parish [Mt. Pleasant], across that parish to the Wando River; across Charleston Neck; and from the right bank of the Ashley River, through St. Andrew's parish, to the Stono, and on the banks of that river and across James Island to the channels on its east, near Secessionville."
Because Charleston had been taken by the British in the Revolutionary War from the neck area, Ripley writes "it was determined to close that avenue effectually. A strong line of fortifications was built across the peninsula from river to river at once. It was intended to cut a canal from the Cooper to the Ashley, some two miles in advance of this, with complete fortifications. In case of attack the timber in front could be readily felled to cover the approaches with abattis, while the whole system could be flanked by fire from gunboats in either one or the other river. The interior line was finished in a few weeks."
Ripley writes "a strong cremalliere line [JAGGED] was constructed across James Island from a point on Wappoo Cut . . . to the vicinity of Secessionville." This was done January to February, 1862. Fort Pemberton was on the end by Wappoo Cut, and Tower Battery was on the opposite end by Secessionville. Both were in advance of the regular Confederate line by almost a mile.
If you look at a Google map of the Secessionville peninsula, it is shaped somewhat like an oblong hourglass and the part where the Confederates built Tower Battery is the absolute narrowest part across the peninsula.
Ripley said "At this time Colonel L. M. Hatch was stationed with his regiment at Secessionville. His especial duty was to watch the creeks and interior water-approaches. He conceived the idea of fortifying the neck of the latter peninsula, . . . his suggestions were approved, and with the labor of his regiment he constructed the priest-cap work across the neck with flanking arrangements, built a strong bridge to connect the northern end of the peninsula [Secessionville] with the main island, and erected an observatory which commanded an extensive view of the approaches to Charleston from the south-east. It proved very fortunate that this work was early accomplished."
The priest-cap design was two reDANS, side by side, so, together, they looked like the letter M. That design allowed troops inside to shoot an enfilading fire on anybody attacking the front. The whole front was approximately 125 yards across.
The footbridge was well over a half mile long and extended from old Secessionville to the main Confederate lines and it was capable of men AND horses so Tower Battery could be reinforced.
The tower was 75 feet high and a lookout with field glasses could see all over James Island including all the Yankee positions at the mouth of the Stono by Folly Beach.
Johnson Hagood, in his memoirs, added that Tower Battery "was further strengthened by a small flanking battery across the northern creek or marsh, afterwards called Battery Reed, in honor of the gallant Captain Sam J. Reed." Reed was killed in the Battle of Secessionville. Battery Reed was extremely beneficial, laying down enfilading fire from a mile away on Yankees attacking the front of Tower Battery.
Hagood said "Fort Pemberton was in fighting condition. But four guns were mounted [initially] at Secessionville; a bomb-proof shelter, and a powder magazine had been there constructed. The parapet was unfinished in front of the guns---indeed, its profile was so slight that after the battle of the 16th June Colonel Hagood rode his horse into the ditch and over the parapet from the exterior approach."
Milby Burton in Siege of Charleston writes:
"On June 2, 1862, General Pemberton wired Jefferson Davis that there were 20 vessels in the Stono Inlet. . . . [O]ther Union troops stationed on Edisto Island were ferried across to Seabrook's Island and marched across Johns Island to Legareville, from which point they were transported across to James Island for the assault on Charleston."
Pemberton was short of ammunition. He told Brig. Gen. States Rights Gist "not to waste ammunition."
He also told Brigadier General Mercer in Savannah to have "ALL of your command ready to move at the shortest notice."
"On June 8, Pemberton informed W. J. Magrath, president of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, that 'the enemy in large force is preparing to attack Charleston---Probably through James and John's Island,' and requested Magrath have several trains ready to move at a moment's notice for or with troops.'"
On June 9, writes Confederate Gen. Samuel Jones in his book, also entitled The Siege of Charleston, Union General Wright's division crossed the Stono "and took position on Mr. Thomas Grimble's plantation, two miles above Union General Stephens' command. The Confederates immediately opened fire of solid shot and shell, which fell into, around, and over General Wright's camp and among the gunboats in the Stono. General Stephens' camp was also under fire. This at once convinced General Benham [the Union commanding officer] that the main camps and landings were untenable while exposed to the Confederate fire, and as there was not dry land enough on the island above high water for a secure camp out of range of the Confederate guns, it seemed evident that he would be obliged to abandon the island, the key to Charleston,--- or silence the advanced Confederate batteries."
"On June 10, Pemberton ordered the Confederate lines to advance in order to establish a battery of heavy guns on the edge of Grimball's plantation with a view to driving the gunboats from the immediate area and making landing hazardous. Colonel Hagood started advancing with the First South Carolina and a battalion of the Fourth Louisiana on the right flank, and Colonel Williams with the Forty-seventh Georgia on the left flank. Williams ran into the Union forces in the thick woods. The Georgians made 'a gallant advance and fought with great vigor, but their lines being disorganized, advanced in squad strength where they were repulsed and badly cut up.'" They lost 60 to 70 men. (Burton, Hagood)
On June 14, Emma Holmes in her diary wrote "Skirmishes of almost daily occurrences on James Island."
Also on June 14, Gen. Evans assumed command on James Island and inspected the lines.
On "June 15, General Pemberton wrote Governor Pickens that he had on James Island only 6,500 effective men." Yankees thought 12,000.
There was much skirmishing. They knew something was about to happen.
Sunrise on Monday, June 16, 1862, was 5:14 a.m. The time structure was different in those days and an hour earlier than today.
Milby Burton writes: "In spite of feverish activity, this breastwork was incomplete at the time of the attack. Col. Thomas G. Lamar, who was in command, had pushed his men to the point of exhaustion. Finally, at 3 a.m. on the morning of June 16, he allowed his worn-out men to sleep. . . . They were barely asleep when they were awakened by an assault by a brigade of Union troops. . . . Since there was little time to give the alarm, Lamar rushed to one of the big guns, already loaded with grape, and pulled the lanyard. The roar of the gun aroused the troops, and the grape tore into the oncoming ranks" and the Battle of Secessionville was on.
Here's how Col. Lamar described it:
On the morning of June 16 about 4 o'clock my pickets were driven in and reported to me that the enemy were advancing in force. . . . I immediately dispatched a courier to Lieutenant Colonels Gaillard and Smith, ordering them to move up their battalions at once. . . . I then proceeded to my batteries. . . . When I arrived . . . I found the enemy to be within 700 yards in line of battle and advancing on me at the double quick.
That's when the Columbiad was fired, and soon all the guns were firing.
Milby Burton writes: "By 2 a.m. on June 16 the Federal troops had been 'falling in' into two columns. The first or assaulting group consisted of the Second Division, composed of six regiments with some engineers, cavalry, and artillery, under the command of Brigadier General Stevens; this group comprised about 3500 men. Another column, comprised of the First Division, consisting of about 3100 troops, was formed on the left of the Second under the command of Brigadier General Wright. The assaulting group was to advance in silence and make the attack at 'first light' with the bayonet; the First Division was to protect the Second from a flank attack by the Confederate troops. The large number of Federal troops should have been more than sufficient to surprise and crush a garrison of 500 men."
"Confederate troops rushed to the aid of Colonel Lamar's defenders as they were aroused. The first to reach him was the Pee Dee Battalion under the command of Lt. Col. A. D. Smith. Next, from its encampment nearby, came the Charleston Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. P. C. Gaillard. Finally those of the assaulting troops who had reached the parapet were either killed or repulsed. The Eighth Michigan fell back and re-formed; with the aid of the Second Brigade they charged under fire for 1000 yards, assaulted the works, and again gained a foothold. After more fierce hand-to-hand fighting, they were again pushed back."
Here is the Yankee perspective by Confederate Gen. Samuel Jones in his book:
"The enemy were known to be busily at work night and day, strengthening their positions, and it had been reported to General Benham some days before that from the masthead of a naval vessel in the Stono several long trains of cars loaded with troops had been seen pouring into Charleston over the road which Colonel Christ's expedition had failed to break"
Colonel Christ's expedition, that he is referring to, was an attack on the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, a critical part of coastal defenses. Whichever city needed troops, the other was to send them on the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. It's defenses were put in place by Gen. Robert E. Lee who had his headquarters along the railroad line at Coosawhatchie, SC, half way between Charleston and Savannah, from November, 1861, to March, 1862, when he was in charge down here. There were numerous attacks by Union troops to break the railroad but they were always defeated by tenacious Confederates.
Gen. Jones continues:
"About four o'clock on a dark cloudy morning Stephens' whole command was in motion and, pressing forward rapidly and in silence, surprised the Confederate picket in the house they occupied, captured two or three of the men and, debouching through the advanced hedge, advancing at double-quick time, deployed, or attempted to deploy, into line of battle, the Seventh Connecticut, the center regiment, following close on the Eighth Michigan, to form on its left. It seems that the mistake, or blunder, had been made of attempting to charge with brigade front over a space scarcely wide enough for a regiment in line. While the regiments of the leading brigade were forming forward into line in double-quick time, a storm of grape and canister from the Confederate guns crashed through the center of the line and continued tearing through the ranks with great rapidity, severing the line, one part crowding toward the right, the other to the left."
"Still, the regiment moved rapidly on, preserving their order and leaving the ground in their rear strewn with their dead and wounded, and did not stop until they gained the parapet and delivered their fire upon the enemy in his works. But they were unable to contend against such great odds, and, being entirely unsupported for a considerable time, they fell back slowly, contesting every inch of ground . . . .".
"When within two or three hundred yards of the Confederate works the Seventh Connecticut 'came obliquely upon an unforeseen ditch and morass,' crowding and doubling up the regiment toward the center. At this moment a terrific fire of grape and musketry swept through the ranks. 'The line was inevitably broken,' says Colonel Hawley, 'and though the men stood bravely to their work the line could not be reformed until the colors were brought into the open field."
There was much confusion, then the Yankees went forward and "marched by the flank through a dense brush on our left and followed the edge of the bushes, which formed one side of a marsh to within forty yards of the enemy's work. Here our progress was interrupted by a large fallen tree, between which and the enemy's work was an impassable marsh. On our right was an abattis of dense brush and on our left and front marsh. Here we lost many of the men who were killed and wounded in the regiment. Seeing that we could be of no possible use in this place with less than platoon front to retaliate by fire on the enemy, and this position being raked by the fire of the gun on the corner of the enemy's work nearest the observatory, I ordered the regiment to retire, and it, too, found shelter behind the hedge.'"
He continued: "While the First Brigade was being thus cut up the Seventy-ninth Highlanders, leading the Second Brigade, was ordered by General Stephens to the right to assail the work a little to the right of the point from which the Eighth Michigan had been driven. Lieutenant Colonel Morrison led the right wing of his regiment to the parapet."
"'As I mounted the parapet,' says the Lieutenant Colonel, 'I received a wound in the head, which, though slight, stunned me for the time being; but still I was able to retain command. With me, many mounted the works, but only to fall or to receive their wounds from the enemy posted in rifle-pits in rear of the fort. . . . From the ramparts I had a full view of their works. They were entrenched in a position well selected for defensive purposes and upon which our artillery seemed to have little effect, save driving them into their retreats, and in attempting to dislodge them we were met with a fierce and determined opposition, but with equal if not superior determination and courage were they met by our forces, and had I been supported could have carried their works, . . . for we virtually had it in our possession. After remaining in this position some considerable time and not being supported by the other regiments, I received orders to fall back, which I did in good order, leaving behind about forty killed or badly wounded, many of whom fell on the ramparts . . . ".
"While the two latter regiments were coming into line, Colonel Leasure, the Brigade Commander, with his staff, hastened forward to hurry up the left of the Seventy-ninth, intending to lead the assault in person. When about three hundred yards from the Confederate works, he reached the storm. He says: 'We entered the range of a perfect storm of grape, canister, nails, broken glass, and pieces of chains, fired from three very large pieces on the fort, which completely swept every foot of ground within the range and either cut the men down or drove them to the shelter of the ravine on the left. I now turned to look after and lead up the One Hundredth Pennsylvania Regiment and found its center just entering the fatal line of fire which completely cut it in two, and the right under Major Lecky obliqued to the right and advanced to support the right of the Seventy-ninth New York, and many of the men reached the foot of the embankment and some succeeded in mounting it . . .".
Across the creek on the right side of Tower Battery if facing forward "The Third New Hampshire and Third Rhode Island were pushed well to the front. The Third New Hampshire approached to within forty years of the Confederate works and opened fire. Colonel Jackson, commanding the regiment, reports that he found no artillery on that part of the Confederate works and that he could easily have gone into the fort."
"'IF,' he adds, 'I could have crossed a stream between me and the earthworks about twenty yards in width with apparently four or five feet of water, and the mud very soft; the men therefore could not cross. The enemy soon opened on me from a battery about two hundred yards in our rear, throwing grape in to the ranks, from which we suffered severely. In a short time they opened fire with rifles and infantry. At the same time a battery about a mile north of us opened on us with shot and shell.'"
I just want to say, you can't cross a saltwater creek that is five feet deep and full of pluff mud and assault a fort unless you have a heck of a lot of time to wade across, as we all know. This proves the brilliance of Confederate thinking and planning.
Gen. Samuel Smith goes on: "He seems to have been well enveloped in fire and the [Yankee] regiment suffered severely. He saw reinforcements passing into the Confederate works, which he was powerless to prevent. A section of Hamilton's battery---regular artillery---succeeded in silencing the battery in the rear and a battalion of the Third Rhode Island penetrated the brushwood to dislodge the Confederate sharpshooters, but did not succeed. The assault was already essentially over and it was a mere waste of life and limb to keep these troops where they were. They were therefore withdrawn."
Here's what the Charleston Battalion had to say about it from Charlestonians in War:
"One hundred and twenty-five yards across the marsh that was protecting the Confederate right flank, the rattle of musketry was heard followed in a split second by a shower of bullets and booming artillery fire from an undetected Federal force. The exhausted men of the Charleston Battalion had just begun to relax after their fight when they were rudely jolted by this fire. These fresh Union troops, namely the Third New Hampshire Infantry and Third Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, were pouring a 'continuous and deadly fire,' witnesses reported. 'Many of our men fell at the guns and along the line formed to the rearward of the battery on its right flank.' These New Englanders had managed to reach a point behind the Confederate right flank where they could fire into the unprotected rear of the battery and resultantly the few remaining Confederate artillerists were compelled to abandon their guns and take cover while the infantry desperately returned the enemy fire."
"Due to loss of blood from his neck wound, Lieutenant Colonel Lamar now passed command of the entire battery to Lieutenant Colonel Gaillard, who himself was soon severely wounded in the knee. Without hesitation, Gaillard moved some of his men down the bank of the marsh, where they stood opposite their foe and exchanged rifle shot for rifle shot in a slugging match of endurance. . . . The exhausted Charlestonians tore cartridges and rammed home round after round to the point of giving out, when on the field arrived reinforcements in the form of the Fourth Louisiana Battalion, . . . " and "the Twenty-fourth South Carolina Infantry and Eutaw Battalion, who both rapidly advanced from their camps several miles to the battlefield to aid in the Union defeat."
After Lieutenant Colonel Gaillard was wounded in the knee, he turned command over to Lt. Col. T. M. Wagner.
Gen. Samuel Jones continues:
"The assault which had resulted so disastrously, narrowly missed brilliant success. The works about Secessionville were occupied by two companies of the First (afterwards Second) South Carolina Artillery, and two battalions of infantry, the Charleston Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Gaillard, and the Pee Dee Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Smith commanding, in all, less than five hundred men. Colonel T. G. Lamar, of the South Carolina Artillery, commanded the post."
"From the landing of the Federal force on the 2d to the morning of the 16th the Confederate troops had been subjected, day and night, to the most arduous duties. On the 15th there had been sharp skirmishing and the combined fire from the land and naval batteries had been unusually heavy. Notwithstanding the secrecy observed in the Federal camps, Colonel Lamar had observed enough to convince him that an attack would be made in the night of the 15th or early the following morning, and so reported to General Evans, commanding on the island, who ordered Colonel Johnson Hagood to reinforce Secessionville up to 2000 men, but the reinforcements had not arrived when the assault was made."
"Colonel Lamar and his men had been busily at work all night of the 15th and until three o'clock in the morning constructing a new land battery and transferring guns to it from an old gunboat."
"The aggregate Confederate loss was 204, nearly the whole of it falling on the troops who defended the Secessionville batteries. The struggle for the parapet had been especially stubborn and fierce. Muskets were clubbed and Lieutenant Campbell and Mr. Tennant, of the Charleston Battalion, in default of better weapons, seized handspikes and wielded them with effect."
"As soon as the result of the assault was made known to [Union] General Hunter, then at Hilton Head, he relieved General Benham from command and ordered him to Washington in arrest, charged with disobedience of orders and instructions in making the assault. General Wright, who succeeded General Benham in command, was ordered to abandon James Island, which was soon done, leisurely and in perfect order. The Federal troops returned to the points from which they had started on the expedition and the Confederates were left undisturbed to complete the strong lines of earthworks on James Island from Fort Johnson, on the harbor, to Pringle, on the Stono, which were never captured.
Milby Burton writes that
"Two things helped turn the battle in the battery's favor." One was "two small field guns at two different locations, one manned by Lieutenant Jeter, the other by Lt. Col. Ellison Capers" later known as Battery Reed whose purpose was to enfilade an enemy attack on the breastwork at Secessionville a mile away." . . . . "Both men fired their guns with excellent effect into the Third New Hampshire and helped to hasten their withdrawal" as the hand-to-hand fighting had continued until the "assaulting troops were again repulsed."
Another major factor that turned the battle in the favor of the Confederates was that "Lt. Col. J. McEnery, commanding a battalion of Louisiana troops, had been aroused by Col. Hagood and sent to Secessionville. McEnery and his men, who were encamped some distance away, started toward the battery" and "advanced to Secessionville over the bridge, nearly a mile long, that extended from the opposite part of the island to the rear of the battery. They arrived on the run . . . and gave considerable assistance in repulsing the Third New Hampshire, which was pouring a deadly fire into the rear of the battery."
Here is an account by a soldier IN that Louisiana battalion, H. J. Lea of Winnsboro, Louisiana, writing in Confederate Veteran, January, 1923:
I was a member of Capt. J. W. Walker's company, which enlisted and went out from Monroe, Louisiana March 2, 1862. We went to Savannah, Ga. and there were attached to and made part of the 4th Louisiana Battalion, commanded by Col. John McEnery.
At the break of day on the morning of the 16th, firing was heard up in the front of the fort, the alarm given, and the LONG ROLL BEAT, and the line was quickly formed with orders to march in double-quick time. The distance was as much as three-quarters of a mile or more to the fort. We went up the road along the west side of the line to the bridge, which was about two hundred yards long, crossed over, and turned to the east about four hundred yards to the fort. Just before the head of our line reached the fort, the Yankee regiment, having formed on the opposite side of Lighthouse Creek, at this point about one hundred yards distant, opened fire on us. We were ordered to halt, face to the right, and fire. This continued but a short time; the storming party in front was crowding in, and we were ordered to face to the left and rush to the fort, where the Yankees were scrambling for the top of the parapets crowding forward in great numbers with a desperate determination to capture the fort. We arrived just at the critical moment; a few minutes later would have been too late. They were repulsed, routed, and fled in the same quick time that they came, with the rifles and artillery playing on them to the extreme range.
It seemed that every man there in defense of the fort felt as though the whole responsibility of holding the fort rested on him, for it would have been impossible for any force of the same size to have done more. As soon as the storming party in front gave way and fled, the flanking party across the creek also fled hurriedly, for had they remained, even for a short time, they would have been cut off and captured or killed.
I remember a tower which stood at the south end of the fort . . . on which a guard was constantly on duty to observe the movements of the enemy. I was permitted to go upon one occasion, and the sentry kindly let me have the use of his glasses for a short time.
This battle was one of great importance, considering the effect it may have had on the Confederacy had we failed, for, as I remember it, this point was in reach of Charleston and the enemy, if successful, might have reversed our own guns and brought them to bear on that city.
General Lee's army surrendered April 9 , and General Johnston's a few days later, and, other organizations rapidly following, the Confederate government merged into history. I have not been back since, but remain an unreconstructed Confederate.
Another Confederate in the battle, R. De T. Lawrence of Marietta, Georgia, wrote in Confederate Veteran, November, 1922:
Many years after, I met at the Confederate Home of Georgia, a Mr. Jordan, who had been in the engagement in the battery, and subsequently in a number of battles in Virginia, and he told me that the one at Secessionville was the closest and hardest fought of any.
Warren Ripley writes in the Introduction of Siege Train:
". . . just as the Southerners had discovered the power of the U.S. Navy at Port Royal, Fort Lamar taught the Yankees a valuable lesson --- don't tangle with the Confederate Army beyond protective range of the warships' guns. These two principles were to color military thinking in the Charleston area for the remainder of the war."
Mary Boykin Chesnut in her famous diary wrote:
"At Secessionville, we went to drive the Yankees out, and we were surprised ourselves. We lost one hundred, the Yankees four hundred. They lost more men than we had in the engagement. Fair shooting that! As they say in the West, 'We whipped our weight in wildcats' and some to spare. Henry King was killed. He died as a brave man would like to die. From all accounts, they say he had not found this world a bed of roses."
Her numbers are wrong but her proportions are almost right!
Later she wrote:
"More talk of Secessionville. Dr. Tennent proved himself a crack shot. They handed him rifles, ready loaded, in rapid succession; and at the point he aimed were found thirty dead men. Scotchmen in a regiment of Federals at Secessionville were madly intoxicated. They had poured out whiskey for them like water."
Milby Burton writes:
"Total Union casualties, including killed, wounded, and missing, were almost 700; those of the Confederates came to slightly over 200. Most of the casualties occurred in an area about 125 yards wide immediately in front of the battery and on the battery itself."
"Before the attack, the battery was known as the Tower Battery . . . After the battle, however, it was named Battery Lamar."
"When the news of the repulse of the Federal forces reached Charleston, the citizens were elated, but when the casualty list arrived including the names of many Charlestonians, one commentator wrote: 'a Gloom has been cast over our City by the death of many fine young men.'"
"After the valiant defense of the battery, the Confederate Congress passed the following resolution: 'That the thanks of Congress are due and are hereby tendered to Colonel Thomas G. Lamar and the officers and men engaged in the gallant and successful defense of Secessionville against the greatly superior numbers of the enemy on the 16th day of June, 1862.'"
Gen. Ripley ended his article on the defenses of Charleston with these interesting facts:
"The works of defense around Charleston were continued throughout the war until its close . . . . With the exception of a spasmodic attempt to overwhelm Fort Sumter, and an abortive attack upon Battery Simkins and Fort Johnson, the siege of Charleston degenerated into a blockade, in which the Federal fleet was assisted by the Federal batteries on Morris Island, and a useless though annoying bombardment of the city of Charleston at long range.
"The work of the engineers went on, however, notably at Fort Sumter which the enemy endeavored to crush continually. It was WELL supplied at night, and the works of the interior retrenchment well and efficiently carried on under Captain John Johnson, an able engineer, so that it became almost impregnable against an assault, and its garrison lived under the terrific cannonade to which it was subjected in comparative comfort."
In ending, I just want to say Charleston was never conquered militarily or surrendered. When Confederate forces were ordered to evacuate at the end of the war to continue the fight elsewhere, the city was turned over to the Union Army by an alderman.
Confederate soldier R. De T. Lawrence also said after the battle:
The troops which had reinforced the command of General Gist on James Island were returned to their former stations on the coast and at Savannah, and the heroes of Secessionville were toasted on every hand.