During the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, I wanted to take time thank all of you for reading my newsletter this past year and to wish you a very Merry Christmas.
In August 1861, McClellan seemed loath to take direction from his superiors. Writing his wife he described Lincoln as a baboon. He related to her, “… the Prsdt is an idiot, the old General (Scott) in his dotage-they cannot or will not see the true state of affairs.”
That opinion prompted McClellan to ignore Lincoln’s suggestions and even Lincoln’s pleas for the general to do something with the Union’s new Army of the Potomac.
The situation in the West wasn’t much better. When Lincoln urged General Halleck commander of the Western Department headquartered in St. Louis, to begin military operations, he was told that orders from Gen. McClellan were needed; more excuses for delay.
Ulysses S. Grant a political appointee of the Illinois governor, had troops stationed in Cairo, Illinois. In January 1862, he suggested to his superior, General Halleck that he be allowed to attack Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and also Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River. Halleck refused to listen to his proposal. It wasn’t that Halleck did not feel the project had merit. Rather, he just did not want to approve such a venture under Grant’s command.
Halleck did not like Grant. His animosity went back to their days in California. There, Halleck knew Grant as a man who could not hold his liquor; a man who was forced to resign his army commission or face a court martial for being intoxicated while on duty.
But the Grant of 1861 was a sober man and a determined one, too. He sent some of his men east to occupy Paducah on the Ohio River. He also enlisted the support of naval Captain Foote for a joint naval/army operation against the two forts. He and Foote proposed the attack again on Jan. 28. Halleck knew the strategic importance of these two forts. And, Grant and Foote’s proposal came at the same time Lincoln was putting pressure on Halleck to begin some sort of offensive operation in the West. This time their proposal was approved by Halleck.
The approval came at the same time that the new military river craft were delivered to Halleck’s command. In January 1862, Foote took delivery of seven City Class ironclads. Pook boats were to be delivered then, too.
In August, operating out of St. Louis, Mo., James Eads began constructing boats designed for river use by Sam Pook. Eads employed workers virtually ’round the clock to build them. These Pook boats were heavily armored and well- armed. They only needed seven feet of water to operate; ideal for the western rivers. The Confederates could not match them anywhere on the Western waters. They were delivered to Captain Foote in January as well.
I have started writing a book in which Civil War prisons play an important role. Below is an early first read.
I hope you enjoy. I would love to hear your feedback. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Prior to the outbreak of hostilities, there were no military prisons in the United States; maybe a small jailhouse on each military post. But neither the United States nor Confederate governments had established any large facilities.
When civil war came to the country very suddenly in April of 1861, virtually no preparations had been made by either side to prepare for war. It should not be surprising that no preparations had been made to care for prisoners of war either. The leaders on both sides predicted that the conflict would be over after a battle or two. Anyway, it was assumed that prisoners would be exchanged or paroled right after any battle that would be fought.
In April of 1861, Confederate Secretary of State Robert Toombs predicted that his country’s flag would soon fly over Faneuil Hall in Boston. That same month, Mrs. Davis sent out invitations to her friends in New York City inviting them to a tea she intended to hold soon at the Confederate White House in Washington City.
Following the fall of Fort Sumter, the Northern press trumpeted ‘On to Richmond’, promising their readers an easy victory on the battlefield and a quick end to the Rebellion.
None of this was destined to happen. On the contrary, four years of war followed Fort Sumter. During that time, over 674,000 prisoners were taken. At first, most prisoners were paroled right on the battlefield. But over 410,000 were not. Instead, they were kept in camps. These, some 150 compounds, could be found from as far north as Boston to the Dry Tortugas Island in the South; as far West as Fort Riley, Kansas and Fort Craig in New Mexico.
In these prisoner-of- war camps, over 56,000 men died during confinement amounting to 13 percent of the total prison population north and south. Since only 5 percent of men who remained on the battlefield died, it appeared your chance of survival was better fighting on battlefields than remaining in the relative safety of a prison.
Aside from the belief that the war would be a short one, there were other reasons the care of prisoners was not given a higher priority. The most important of which was that as with most wars, the governments involved had not prepared for a conflict. When it came, their energy and resources had to be devoted to organizing and equipping their fighting forces. Building fortifications and a navy as well as planning strategy took priority over the care of potential prisoners. Then, when it became apparent that the war would not be a short one, both governments’ energy was primarily devoted to maintaining their fighting force. Concern for prisoners of war remained a low priority.
To make matters worse for prisoners, in 1864, a decision was made by General Grant to end prisoner exchanges. He sacrificed the welfare of Union prisoners of war to keep Confederate captives in prison and away from returning to the battlefield after being exchanged.
The Outskirts of Washington City
“I think that be a Reb officer over there, lads,” Sgt. Riley told his squad of cavalrymen. “Let’s see how much trouble it’s gonna be ta’ get that horse off ‘en him.”
On patrol outside of the nation’s capital, Washington City, Sergeant Riley and his five man cavalry squad had been riding patrol southeast of the city. It was right after the first battle of Bull Run. Panic was still rampant in Washington for fear the Confederate army would follow its victory and be at the gates of the virtually defenseless city at any time. Riley’s mounted patrol was to provide the city with early warning of any attack.
On the other hand, the Confederates probed hoping to discover weaknesses in Washington’s defenses. Captain Pope had been leading his cavalry unit in that very effort when his horse stepped in a hole and rolled over falling on its rider. Shortly after, Riley’s squad came along.
“Keep a sharp eye out, lads,” he ordered. ‘This bird wasn’t out here alone ya’ know. I’ll look him over but you form a circle ‘round me and face out. I don’t want to spend this night tied up in a Reb camp, don’t ya know.”
While his men moved into the woods ten or so yards away, Riley approached the downed confederate officer with his weapon drawn.
“What have we here now?” he said. “Should we leave ya’ here now or take you with us. What’ll ya’ have laddie?”
“Tell ya’ what sergeant,” the trapped Reb officer responded. “Given the choice I vote that ya’ take me with ya’.”
It didn’t take long for two of Riley’s men to lift the horse enough for another Union trooper to pull the Confederate office free. He was lucky. The fall had not seriously injured him.
He was about five foot six inches tall, fair haired, blue-eyed, and one hundred fifty pounds or so in his polished riding boots. He looked like the typical cavalryman of his time.
“What now Sergeant?” He asked.
“Our troop commander will decide that,” Riley told him. “You’re headed for exchange or a prison camp be my guess. So, let’s get ya’ mounted now.”
“What did ya’ bring me this fine morning, Riley?” Captain Brennan said.
“We found this Reb pinned under his horse a few miles south a’ here, sir. Thought he might talk to another officer. He surely didn’t tell me much.”
“Thank you, Sergeant Riley,” Brennan told him. “You can leave the officer with me, Sergeant.”
“Yes, sir.” Riley came to attention, saluted and left his commanding officer’s tent.
“Well now,” Brennan began. “Have a seat, Captain. I’m having a cup of coffee. Can I pour you one?”
“Thank you. I would enjoy having a cup, Captain.”
While he was pouring the coffee, Brennan asked. “What name can I call you?”
“I’m Captain Richard Pope,” he answered. “I assume you are Captain Brennan?”
“You got that right, Reb,” Brennan snapped. “But, I didn’t catch the name of your unit, Captain Pope.”
“That’s because I didn’t give it to you, Captain Brennan.”
Smiling, Brennan said, “Of course, I forgot. But, you gotta know Captain, the more cooperative you are, the better your chance of being paroled instead of imprisoned.”
“Just how does a Yankee parole work?” Brennan was asked.
“Last I heard, you agree not to return to the fight until a Union soldier of equal rank is available to be exchanged for you. Is that how you understand it?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Are you a slaver, Captain?”
“Are you asking if I own slaves?”
“No, I don’t own a single slave, Captain.”
“So, why are you in this fight?”
“To defend my freedom.”
“Freedom to own slaves?”
“If I decide to do that, yes,” Pope spat back. “According the constitution of my country, citizens have the right to buy, sell and possess property without the approval of some government official sticking his nose in my business. You might recall that even your Supreme Court affirmed that right for citizens of your country in the Dred Scott decision of 1856.”
“Oh my, I’ve got an educated Reb on my hands, do I?”
“Damn right Brennan,” Pope snapped.”
“According to the letters Riley found in your saddle-bag, you’re from Charleston, South Carolina. That’s the place where you traitorous Rebs started this war. Right?”
“I’m from Charleston, correct,” Pope affirmed. “That’s where you refused to leave our territory and forced us to throw you out.”
“That’s one way to look at it, I suppose.” Brennan responded.
“Reverse out situations,” Pope suggested. “You live in Charleston and see the flag of a foreign power flying over a fort in your harbor. I won’t take it down and leave. I refuse to accept a deal to pay for it either. Instead, I attempt to resupply the place indefinitely and even tell you when I’m going to resupply the troops stationed there.
“Just between you and I and the lamp post, wouldn’t that aggravate you all to hell” Pope asked.
“That surly would.” Brennan replied.
“Consider this” Pope continued. “ I appear to have made up my mind to hold on to the fort out in your harbor, at least that’s what I’ve said publicly several times. If you continue to allow me to resupply the place, occupy it and fly my flag, what does that say to your people and the world?”
“That I’m indecisive, maybe weak.” Brennan admitted.
“But you can’t allow that image to continue. At some point, don’t you have to insist that I leave and recognize your existence as a legitimate state? If not, don’t you have to give up the attempt at independence and come back into the Union?”
“This is all crap!” Brennan almost shouted. “You people fired upon the American flag!”
“Yes we did,” Pope admitted. “President Lincoln used your flag to taunt the South Carolina authorities and by extension the Confederate government. He put us in a box of sorts. If we let you stay at Fort Sumter and allowed you to fly your flag there we were admitting that we were not a sovereign state independent of the United States. If we didn’t, but forced you out we were Rebels firing on your sacred flag. We were damned if we did and damned if we didn’t.”
“So what? You started the fighting.”
“And Lincoln got his way whichever choice we made.” Pope concluded.
Brennan paused and finally responded. “I can see your point Reb. But I can’t get over the simple fact that you damned slavers fired on the flag of the United States of America.”
“I can’t deny that Yank. So, here we are, right?” Pope reminded him. “We’re at one another’s throat for sure. Is it all over a flag? I don’t think so. I believe it’s between two very different societies. We decided to recognize the difference and walk away and get out a’ your hair. You refused to allow that.
“You said it yourself, didn’t you?” Pope reminded Brennan. “I’m a slaver even though I don’t own a single one. You’re a Yank who represents a region that had become rich off cotton, sugar and tobacco and the slave labor which produces all of it.”
“Captain Pope,” Brennan interrupted. “I must admit that what you say has the ring of truth and common sense to it. But it’s all smoke in tha’ wind my friend. You and I are just little cogs in the great wheel of this thing.
“So drink up and I’ll take ya’ to my Regimental HQ where they’ll decide what ta’ do with yas.”
Pope stood, finished his coffee in one gulp, straightened his cap and jacket and said. “Thanks for the coffee and the stimulating conversation, Captain. I’m ready any time you are.”
I thought it would be nice to take a break from my mini lessons on the Civil War. In addition to my Civil War series, The Drieborg Chronicles, I co-authored a two-volume historical fiction account entitled The Kennedy Assassination: Was Oswald the Only Assassin? (volume 1) and Why Was Kennedy Killed? (volume 2).
Did Oswald act alone?
Fact: Both the FBI Report and the Warren Commission Report insisted that three shots were fired by Oswald and all from behind President Kennedy.
But: Several doctors who treated the president at Parkland Hospital swore that there was an entry wound in the President’s throat.
Therefore, there was someone firing at President Kennedy from the front as well, or all those emergency room doctors lied under oath.
Fact: Governor Connelly was hit in the back by a bullet 1.8 seconds after the President was hit in his back by the first bullet fired.
But: Expert riflemen could not fire Oswald’s weapon a second time within that time frame.
Therefore, there must have been a second shooter firing from the rear of President Kennedy.
The Kennedy Assassination: Was Oswald the Only Assassin?
The FBI insisted that one man killed President John F. Kennedy. The Warren Commission agreed. But since those hurried investigations were completed, many skeptics have disagreed with both declarations. On the contrary, they contend that there had to have been multiple assassins involved in the assassination, not just one.
In this historical novel, the readers will be led through the evidence to judge for themselves.
Credible witnesses, law enforcement officials, bystanders and medical professionals had their testimonies either ignored or falsified. Now, for the first time since the FBI investigation of 1963 and the Warren Commission study of 1964, they will be allowed to tell once again what they saw and heard on November 22, 1963, in Dallas.
Michael Burke and Harold Ryan will interview the same witnesses and look at the same evidence available to the FBI and the Warren Commission’s investigators. Now, for the first
time since the Kennedy assassination, readers will have an opportunity to hear their testimonies, see the evidence and answer the central question for themselves.
Was Oswald the only assassin in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963?
At an April 9, 1861 cabinet meeting, President Jefferson Davis was warned by his Secretary of State Robert Toombs:
“The firing on that fort (Fort Sumter) will inaugurate a civil war greater than the world has ever seen. Mr. President, it is suicide, it is murder, and will lose us every friend in the North. You will wantonly strike a hornet’s nest which extends from the mountains to ocean and legions, now quiet, will swarm out and sting us to death. It is unnecessary; it puts us in the wrong. It is fatal.”
But, Lincoln had made it very clear that he did not recognize secession and would not give up any federal property. More specifically, he would not surrender Fort Sumter. In addition, he would do his sworn duty and collect import duties on goods bound for every United States port.
The president of the Confederate States of America and the majority of his cabinet believed it necessary to exert their sovereignty over property within their borders. Honor was at stake.
As expressed in the De Bow’s Review, ” … war is not the only, nor is it the greatest evil to which a people can be subjected. War is preferable to dishonor”
So, the strong warning made by Toombs was rejected. On the contrary, it was decided that if the Lincoln administration would not immediately surrender Fort Sumter peacefully, it would be taken by force.
A telegram was therefore sent to General Beauregard the military commander in Charleston, South Carolina. He was instructed to take Fort Sumter by force if it was not surrendered peacefully.
The commander of the fort, Major Anderson, refused to surrender. So, in the early hours of April 12, 1861 a bombardment began. After thirteen hours of continuous firing, Fort Sumter was surrendered.
The headline in the New York Tribune announced:
THE RUBICON HAS BEEN CROSSED
Celebrations broke out throughout the South. The hostility between North and South had been building for many years. “The Republicans would not let us go in peace. So be it! We will settle it by war.”
Review by Dr. Michael J. Deeb
Northern Armageddon: The Battle of the Plains of Abraham and the Making of the American Revolution
by Peter MacLeod
Can it be true? Could a 1760 battle fought on the Plains of Abraham near Quebec City in Canada have had something to do with the American Revolution? Peter MacLeod builds a convincing case that it did.
In 1749, a Swedish botanist who traveled the British American colonies reported, “I have been told by Englishmen that the English colonies in North America in the space of thirty or fifty years would be able to form a state by themselves entirely independent of Old England.”
A Philadelphia royal administrator, James Logan commented in 1732, “While Canada is so near they (colonists) cannot rebel.”
Even though Lincoln was elected on November 6th of 1860, he would not take office until March 4th, 1861. So after the secession of South Carolina on December 20th, 1860, it was lame duck President Buchanan who had to deal with the immediate secession crisis.
January and February 1861 saw six other states join South Carolina and form a new government called the Confederate States of America. Federal facilities and assets were seized throughout the new Confederate nation. No resistance was offered by the Buchanan administration. However, several Federal facilities were not occupied by the forces of a seceded state during Buchanan’s final months in office. These were, Fort Sumter located in the port city of Charleston, South Carolina, Fort Pickens located in the Florida panhandle and Fort Tortuga located in the Florida Keys. All three were still in Federal hands when Lincoln took the oath of office in March 1861.
Why? Why didn’t Buchanan relinquish possession of these facilities, too?
Certainly it wasn’t due to lack of effort by commissioners from the Confederate States. Their efforts to acquire them, even by purchase, failed to gain approval from President Buchanan. He left this powder keg to his successor, Lincoln.
President Buchanan failed to address secession or the loss of Federal facilities before he left office. In fact, he added more flame to the smoldering fire. He did so with his last official act, when he signed into law the Morrill Tariff just hours before Lincoln was to take office.
In his March 4th inaugural Lincoln made it clear that he did not recognize either secession or the Confederate States of America. On the contrary, he pledged to retain all federal property and collect the new federal import duties in every port.
Despite Lincoln’s declaration, his cabinet advised him to surrender Fort Sumter. His military advisor, General Scott agreed and advised him to recognize the existence of the Confederate States and wish them well.
Lincoln refused to follow any of this advice.
The Chicago Tribune editorialized that the people of the Northwest would never negotiate for free navigation of the Mississippi river.
“It is their right and they will assert it to the extremity of blotting Louisiana out of the map.”
Midwesterners were assured that no impediment would be established on the Mississippi or at the port of New Orleans to their commerce. To address this concern, the Louisiana Secession delegates pledged free access to all river traffic. The Confederate Congress meeting in Montgomery, Alabama promised the same treatment for river traffic on the Mississippi and its tributaries.
To add to the drama, President Lincoln was concerned that if his administration did not do something the Midwestern governors would feel forced to negotiate some sort of agreement with the Confederate States on their own. So, despite assurances from the Confederates, Midwestern governors continued to be concerned about the unhindered use of the Mississippi, free access to the port of New Orleans, and to the river cities of Memphis, Natchez and Vicksburg.
The questions were:
- Could Midwesterners trust the CSA assurances that river commerce would be guaranteed free access as they had prior to secession?
- Could they live with New Orleans being in the hands of a foreign power?
- Could future generations of Confederate leaders be trusted not to tax commercial
traffic? The temptation would certainly be very real.
The Midwestern governors told Lincoln that they thought the issue was worth going to war over, even if he did not.
In early 1861, William Sherman wrote his wife that, despite assurances of free trade, “Collisions are sure to follow secession, and the states lying on the upper rivers will never consent to the mouth being in possession of a hostile state.”
Next: The Decision for War
During the Secession Winter, the business community in the North had urged the Lincoln administration to do what was necessary to maintain the peace. Toward that end, the stock market soared on news from Secretary of State Seward that Fort Sumter would be evacuated. It seemed that a peaceful solution had been reached on the issue of Federal forts in Southern territory, and a profitable business relationship with the Confederate States would therefore continue.
Slavery and union was of little concern. Peace was good for business. The Northern press agreed.
“If the Cotton States shall become satisfied that they can do better out of the Union than in it, we insist on letting them go,” wrote Horace Greely, editor of the New York Tribune. “We hope never to live in a republic whereof one section is pinned in the residue by bayonets.”
But, with the passage of a low revenue tariff by the C.S.A. on March 11, it appeared that a tariff war with the United States would commence instead. It was suddenly apparent that foreign shipping and goods would flow to Southern ports instead of Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Baltimore. Iron and cotton goods virtually prohibited by virtue of the Northern Morrill Tariff would flow into the Free Trade Zone’ of the South and find their way north through the porous 2,000 mile shared border. Thus the Northern press changed their tune and trumpeted that a ‘Tariff War’ would ruin the entire Northern economy.
Faced with this new fear, Northern merchants petitioned Washington that they would not pay the new duties unless the Federal government collected the new import duties in all Southern ports, too. Northern bankers, industrialists and the northern press changed from supporting a policy of accommodating the new southern nation to one of restoring the Union, even if coercion was necessary.
Even Lincoln’s cabinet did a turn-around after March 11. On his inauguration day, all but two members of his cabinet had urged accommodation with the Confederate States; give them Fort Sumter.
With the outcry, after March 11, from the northern business community and the press, all but one member of Lincoln’s cabinet reversed their view and supported his position of holding on to Sumter and the remaining federal property in the South.
More to come.
In March of 1861, the federal tariff again became part of the national discussion. From the earliest days of the Republic, Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party had supported a revenue tariff only. On the other hand, Hamilton’s Federalist Party, later the Whigs, later the Republicans, supported a protective tariff.
The Tariff of Abominations and Nullification Issues were settled during the Jackson administration. And, by 1846, a tariff structure satisfactory to both the industrial North and the agricultural South was in place. In 1857, despite bank failures in the North, Northern and Southern Democrats in the House and Senate lowered tariffs in response to a Treasury surplus and a desire to stimulate trade.
Nevertheless, the newly formed Republican Party and a few Northern Democrats supported the idea of higher tariffs to protect various industries in the North, particularly the iron industry in Pennsylvania and the textile industry of New England.
The emergence of the Republican Party in the North saw increased pressure to pass a protective tariff. During the 36th Congress the Republican majority in the House of Representatives passed a sharply increased tariff called, the Morrill Tariff. This bill was passed On May 10, 1860 by a vote of 105-64. The vote largely followed sectional lines:
All but 2 Northern Republicans voted for the bill, 89-2. The Southern vote was heavily against the protectionist measure, 39 – 1. There were 55 abstentions.
The bill was sent to the Senate where it was bottled up in the Democratic Party controlled Finance Committee. But that power was lost when seven Deep South states left the Union taking their Senators with them.
The Morrill Tariff was then signed into law by President Buchanan on March 2, 1861. On March 11, 1861 the Confederate Congress responded with a tariff bill instituting a much lower tariff for the Confederate States of America.
The scene was set for a tariff war.
More on the Tariff War later.