As retold by the family of the fallen officer after the war, the servant eventually made his way home and remembered enough information about the burial site to escort family members there to disinter the body for transport home shortly after the war. Chapter 2 looks at race, social class and the Confederate soldier. Confederate soldiers rarely expressed a pure proslavery ideology in letters and diaries. ( To paraphrase James McPherson , they felt no need to state the obvious.) . Letters to the Editor ... tell the complete story of the Civil War, the Confederate soldiers who fought in it and the central issue that provoked it, which was human bondage. Vote Now! I am certainly glad I wasn’t there. . While no known evidence exists that the army’s slaves assisted in kidnapping of roughly 100 men from towns such as Chambersburg, McConnellsburg, Mercersburg and Greencastle on the eve of the famous battle, it is very likely that those ensnared and led south would have passed camp servants and other slaves whose essential presence in the army helped to make their capture possible. South Carolina went to war – as she said in her Secession proclamation – because slavery wd. To help block an attempted Union advance, the Confederate command moved men through Virginia, with Centreville the collecting point. Slave owners remained convinced that these men would remain fiercely loyal even in the face of opportunities to escape, but this conviction would be tested throughout the Gettysburg campaign. The following quotations, taken from letters, diary entries, and contemporary newspaper interviews with white Union soldiers, reveal the attitudes of those who viewed slavery … Write an argument countering Mosby’s philosophy. New York, NY 10036, Our Collection: Yet he fought to defend the Confederacy, as he felt his patriotic duty to his nation outweighed all other factors. The South was my country.". Today some of these stories pulled from the historical record can be found on hundreds of websites, not as the stories of enslaved men, but as black Confederate soldiers. Letters by Hoyle in the 55th Regiment will provide evidence for the claim that these overarching motivations did not always provide personal motivation to soldiers in the Confederate Army. As their shattered command fell back following their repulse, scores of camp slaves made their way out from the cover and protection of the woods in search of their owners and to assist the wounded. Anywhere between 6,000 and 10,000 enslaved people supported in various capacities Lee’s army in the summer of 1863. Confederate Leaders Were Totally Clear On This. Some eagerly awaited reunion with their own families. How can a soldier be proud of the country he defends while at the same time opposed to the cause he is fighting for? Letters from captured Confederate soldiers noted the poor housing conditions and dress of freedmen they saw in Union held cities. For many tourists, no visit to Gettysburg is complete without retracing the steps General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, those Confederates who crossed the open fields toward the Union line on Cemetery Ridge on July 3 in what is still popularly remembered as “Pickett’s Charge.” Once safe behind where the Union lines held strong, however, few turn around and acknowledge the hundreds of enslaved people who emerged from the woods to render assistance to the tattered remnants of the retreating men. ... reminder of America's history of slavery and racial oppression. . This mythical narrative, which dates only to the mid-1970s, would be completely unrecognizable to the enlisted men and officers in the Army of Northern Virginia. These primary source accounts, in the form of letters and diaries, detail how camp slaves remained in the rear, prepared to perform various support roles. People must be judged by the standard of their own age. Read the document introduction and transcript and apply your knowledge of American history in order to answer these questions. The South was my country.”. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. Union Soldiers Condemn Slavery. If it was right to own slaves as property it was right to fight for it. More than 150 years after the end of the Civil War, scores of websites, articles, and organizations repeat claims that anywhere between 500 and 100,000 free and enslaved African Americans fought willingly as soldiers in the Confederate army. Four years later Burgwyn’s body was reinterred in Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina. Continue To what extent are John Mosby’s comments hypocritical in view of his defense of slave ownership by his family? Newspapers and magazines in the South touted the “loyalty” of slaves towards their masters, supported with letters from soldiers serving in the southern armies. The Union went to war to end slavery. Although the attitudes of many white Union soldiers toward slavery and emancipation ranged from indifference to outright racial hostility, others viewed the issue as central to their participation in the war. Most often, they used popular shorthand like Yankee “fanatics,” or “our domestic relations,” hinting at how slavery fit into larger worldviews more readily understood. The man who would become the … By Julia Craven. Many of them labored as cooks, butchers, blacksmiths and hospital attendants, and thousands of enslaved men accompanied Confederate officers as their camp slaves, or body servants. Camp slaves like Moses who, for whatever reason, were committed to their owners made do with the limited resources available and resigned themselves in the end to passing on their owners’ parting words to their grieving families. Write an argument countering Mosby’s philosophy. Walking the Gettysburg battlefield today, it’s easy to imagine the Union and Confederate armies dueling for control of the Pennsylvania town and its surrounding picturesque fields and rocky hills for three days in July 1863. I wrote you about my disgust at reading the Reunion speeches: It has since been increased by reading Christians report. Mosby claimed he hated slavery and was not responsible for the political merits of the cause. The Confederate army went to war to defend a nation of slaveholding states, and although men rushed to recruiting stations for many reasons, they understood that the fundamental political issue at stake in the conflict was the future of slavery. Mosby expressed a complex and fascinating set of beliefs about the Civil War at a time when its history was just beginning to be written. These ideas spread and grew into the "Lost Cause" movement, a romantic vision of the South that would eventually gain exposure from the popularity of films including Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind. The Civil War Was About Slavery. More than 150 years after they were written, letters home by three Civil War soldiers from a Dedham family have been transcribed for the Dedham Historical Society & Museum and … As one might expect, a much higher percentage of soldiers from slaveholding families than from nonslaveholding families expressed such a … Gettysburg may not have been the great turning point of the war for Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia—the army would go on to fight for close to two more years—but the Gettysburg campaign did signal a crisis of confidence in soldiers’ belief in their slaves’ unwavering fidelity. I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery – a soldier fights for his country – right or wrong – he is not responsible for the political merits of the cause he fights in. In 1865, Moses made the long journey back to Gettysburg with McLeod’s brother-in-law to bring the body home. South Carolina ought to know what was the cause for her seceding. Smithsonian Institution. The letters to home have a much greater survival rate than the letters from home to the front. A quartermaster in John Bell Hood’s division observed that “a great many Negroes have gone to the Yankees.” Union cavalry raids, such as the one led by Judson Kilpatrick at Monterey Pass on July 5, hampered the retreat of tired Confederates and resulted in additional prisoners being taken, including the camp servants attached to the Richmond Howitzers as well as Major William H. Chamberlain’s servant, horse, and personal equipment. Terms of Use . He is the author of numerous articles and books about the Civil War, including Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth. Mosby despised slavery and believed the South had seceded to protect it. Confederates emphasized negative aspects of the transition from slavery to freedom in discussions with their slaves and in letters and conversations during the period. Monument to Coretta Scott and MLK Is Coming to Boston, City Where They Met, The Rise and Fall of America's Lesbian Bars, Caligula's Gardens, Long Hidden Beneath Italian Apartment Building, to Go on View, Ancient Insect Genitals Found in 50-Million-Year-Old Fossil, Yes, Giant Technicolor Squirrels Actually Roam the Forests of Southern India, The History Behind Amazon's 'One Night in Miami', The Best Board Games of the Ancient World, Meet Joseph Rainey, the First Black Congressman, The State of American Craft Has Never Been Stronger. When the dark and vengeful spirit of slavery, always ambitious, preferring to rule in hell than to serve in heaven, fired the Southern heart and stirred all the malign elements of discord, when our great Republic, the hope of freedom and self-government throughout the world, had reached the point of supreme peril, when the Union of these states was torn and rent asunder at the center, and the armies … A number of rebels passed by until a “young man of benevolent expression” attempted to locate a surgeon. Now while I think as badly of slavery as Horace Greeley did I am not ashamed that my family were slaveholders. . Descendants of the original Confederados tend to play down their ancestors’ ties to slavery. Privacy Statement More important than the transportation of personal possessions, however, Dave also conveyed the final thoughts of his master to loved ones. Absent the body, news that a soldier had been comforted in his final hours and had prepared himself for death reassured family members that their loved one experienced what 19th-century Americans understood as a “Good Death.”. Some of these men were briefly held as prisoners in Union prison camps. Free African-Americans and fugitive slaves in Adams County (including Gettysburg) and surrounding counties fled with the news of Lee’s advance. Astounding damage to infrastructure and the economy greeted Southern soldiers after the conflict. Visit the new Gilder Lehrman Institute Gift Shop here. Some likely anticipated the brutal punishment that accompanied their recapture (or punishment that might be meted out to family members in their absence), while others worried about how they might be treated once behind Union lines. Levin’s new book, Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth, argues that slavery was central to the south’s war effort. Lee went on the offensive for the following two days but failed to crack the Union defenses. Cookie Policy However, less than 3% of the county population owned slaves and the removal advocates have yet to produce a list of slave owner soldiers… Failing this he “directed some negroes to go and gather” items that “might improve our comfort.” Matt Butler, assistant surgeon of the 37th Virginia, had a horse shot out from under him and was wounded in the foot on July 2 as he tended to fallen Confederates. They took slavery for granted as one of the Southern ‘rights’ and institutions for which they fought, and did not feel compelled to discuss it. For many Confederate officers who were separated from their servants as a result of the battle or the confusion of the retreat, disappointment awaited them, as it did Captain Waddell of the 12th Virginia, who rejoined his unit on July 8 only to learn that his servant Willis had run off with his personal baggage. 2nd Floor As the Confederate army reorganized in the weeks following the campaign, the thin ranks of many regiments were magnified by the absence of its enslaved. “Slavery was less salient for most Confederate soldiers because it was not controversial. Lee’s failure to dislodge the Union army from its position led him to order one final assault on the afternoon of July 3, utilizing the men under the command of Generals George Pickett and James Johnston Pettigrew. Captain William McLeod of the 38th Georgia, meanwhile, died before the retreat, but an enslaved worker named Moses took steps to bury McLeod on a farm nearby. Christian quotes what the Old Virginians – said against slavery. In the wake of Reconstruction a growing number of southerners began to argue that protecting slavery had not been the real cause of the war, and some even claimed that slavery was in fact a just institution. Very few accounts exist today of black men marching with Confederates in the heat of battle at Gettysburg. In the immediate aftermath of the battle and continuing throughout the Confederate army’s retreat to Virginia, other camp slaves and enslaved men, however, abandoned their posts. True; but why didn’t he quote what the modern Virginians said in favor of it – Mason, Hunter, Wise &c. Why didn’t he state that a Virginia Senator (Mason) was the author of the Fugitive Slave law – & why didn’t he quote The Virginia Code (1860) that made it a crime to speak against slavery, or to teach a negro to read the Lord’s prayer. One Confederate soldier wrote of the slaves during the Gettysburg Campaign, “…they preferred life and slavery in Dixie to liberty at the north”. Mosby claimed that he was proud to fight for the Confederacy—“a soldier fights for his country. The South went to war on account of Slavery. tho so weak he could hardly be understood.” He assured his family that they would meet again in heaven. Historians can piece together what the battle was like by reviewing such documents, and gather an understanding of how soldiers up and down the chain of command viewed their world, including the role of enslaved labor in their lives. not be secure under Lincoln. One Civil War historian noted that the word coffee was used more often in Civil War soldiers’ diaries and letters home than words like ‘war,’ ‘slavery,’ or ‘Lincoln.’ Union soldiers remarked on how often they made coffee, and Confederate soldiers commented on the lack of coffee, discussing and inventing recipes with odd substitutions in order to simulate the taste. As Confederate President Jefferson Davis languished in prison, his former cabinet members dispersed to their homes in defeat. 06/22/2015 08:09 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017. The following letter from a Confederate army soldier reflects the attitude prevailing in the ranks of the South before these two great armies clashed, marking the beginning of great battles to be fought in Virginia. New York, NY 10024 Give a Gift. As units readied for battle, a member of the 24th Georgia recalled, “The Colonels sent back their horses by their servants.” On the afternoon of July 1, Union captain Alfred Lee of the 82nd Ohio found himself wounded and behind enemy lines. joined the army. Removal of the wounded took on a renewed urgency through the late afternoon and evening of July 3, following another failed assault along the center of the Union line. There is also evidence of the hostility Confederate soldiers and civilians had for runaway slaves and blacks in Union uniform. Who Was Charles Curtis, the First Vice President of Color? Within months of President Lincoln’s inauguration, seven southern states began the secession from the Union and declared the Confederate States of America. “Hidden property” served as a reference to the escaped slaves already living in southern Pennsylvania; orders had been handed down throughout the Confederate army to capture and return this “property” to the South. Carter wanted it known that “he was willing to die” and that he “talked to the clergyman about dying . A letter to home will often include a passage that says, "Brother A says to say, 'X, Y, Z'" With Civil War soldier's letters the vagaries of letter survival can skew our picture a little bit. The Army of Northern Virginia’s ability to safely cross the Potomac with the Union army in pursuit depended in large part on camp slaves, who cared for their wounded owners, and the great numbers of enslaved workers assigned to ordnance trains, wagons and ambulances, all of which extended for miles. Enslaved workers constituted the backbone of the Confederate war effort. Located on the lower level of the New-York Historical Society, Located on the lower level of the New-York Historical Society, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. or In April 1865, the American Civil War was over and the former states of the Confederacy were in ruins. Kevin M. Levin is a historian and educator based in Boston. On the first of the new year, Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which emancipated enslaved people in the states that seceded from the United States. . Just as the firing ceased late on July 2, Confederate artillerist Edward Porter Alexander was pleasantly surprised to see his servant Charley “on my spare horse Meg & with very affectionate greetings & a good haversack of rations.” Alexander recalled, “Negro servants hunting for their masters were a feature of the landscape that night.”. The letters also mention another Confederado, who acquired a sugar plantation with 130 enslaved workers. . LETTER ONE: Samuel Cabble, a private in the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Infantry (colored), was a slave before he. Ask Hugh if he has been circumcised. To some, the monument represents slavery. These heroic stories of abandonment were quickly supplanted by the extraordinary steps of fealty taken by enslaved men like Moses, Dave or Kincien and became the centerpiece of the Lost Cause movement, which stressed unwavering and unquestioning obedience of slaves to their masters. Moses then followed a Confederate brigade back to Winchester, Virginia, before heading home with his owner’s personal effects to Swainsboro, Georgia. Keep up-to-date on: © 2021 Smithsonian Magazine. . California Do Not Sell My Info [21] For two later works that did use soldiers’ letters and diaries to examine the issues of slavery, race, and emancipation, see Manning, This Cruel War; Joseph T. Glatthaar, Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers (New York: Free Press, 1990). “I never saw fidelity stronger in any one,” noted the quartermaster in a letter. Once released, they joined Union regiments or found their way to towns and cities across the North looking for work. . But as Kevin M. Levin argues in this carefully researched book, such claims would have shocked anyone who served in the army during the war itself. These men performed a wide range of roles for their owners, including cooking, cleaning, foraging and sending messages to families back home. By the end of the first day, Confederates had achieved the upper hand as the Union army established a new defensive line south of the town, with Confederates taking up a position opposite along Seminary Ridge. 170 Central Park West Although stories of these impressed workers and camp slaves have been erased from our popular memory of the war in favor of mythical accounts of black Confederate soldiers, their presence in … When Lee’s three corps of infantry, numbering roughly 70,000, crossed the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania, they encountered clear signs that they were no longer in friendly territory. The battle that commenced west and north of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, expanded gradually as the two armies shifted units along the roads leading to the small town. On the Northern side, the rose-colored myth of the Civil War is … According to Christian the Virginia people were the abolitionists & the Northern people were pro-slavery. He says slavery was "a patriarchal" institution – So were polygamy & circumcision. The Proclamation, in effect, turned Union armies into armies of liberation, functioning as a funnel through which newly freed men could enlist in one of the black regiments that were filling up quickly throughout the North as well as in occupied parts of the Confederacy. After the war, Mosby befriended General Ulysses S. Grant and joined the Republican Party, but firmly stated, "I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery – a soldier fights for his country – right or wrong – he is not responsible for the political merits of the course he fights in . A … (The previous summer’s campaign on the Virginia Peninsula, where the two armies were in close proximity to one another for an extended period of time, contains a wealth of such narratives.) Mosby claimed that he was proud to fight for the Confederacy—“a soldier fights for his country. Edwin Kerrison fought for the Confederate Army for the Second South Carolina Infantry (also known as the Second Palmetto Regiment), Company I (from Charleston). Symbols of the Confederacy are an inescapable fact of life in Southern states. The regiment’s quartermaster reassured the family that the colonel’s items, including spyglasses, watch, toothbrush, and various memoranda books plus $59, were all safe under Kincien’s care. . . John S. Mosby, the renowned Confederate partisan leader, dealt with this moral dilemma years after the Civil War ended. Interestingly soldier's letters sometimes referred to harsh military discipline as a kind of slavery (punishments included whipping, for example). For one major from South Carolina, his war ended along the difficult retreat route from Gettysburg, forcing his servant to take steps to properly bury the body. . The news quickly filtered through Confederate ranks and was certainly discussed among the army’s enslaved servants. 49 W. 45th Street One day in January, a few years before the Civil War, Robert E. Lee wrote to The New York Times, seeking a correction. The South was my country.” Mosby claimed he hated slavery and was not responsible for the political merits of the cause. The soldiers themselves were glued to this issue. He was … The South was my country. Headquarters: The loss of Colonel Henry King Burgwyn Jr., killed on the first day of fighting at Gettysburg, was a devastating loss not only to the 26th North Carolina but also, as described by a fellow officer in the regiment, to his servant Kincien, who “takes it bitterly enough.” Once Burgwyn’s body was given an appropriate burial, Kincien proposed transporting the young colonel’s personal items home along with information about his death that he knew his family craved. Monuments to the failed Confederacy were mostly erected many decades after the US Civil War. He managed to “limp” off the field with the help of a camp servant by the name of Jim. Lee’s decision to bring his army north into free states in early May, following his victory at Chancellorsville, was fraught with danger given the dramatic shift in Union policy; his soldiers’ rear guard, the support staff of enslaved labor, were at risk of emancipation. For real Confederates from Robert E. Lee on down, camp slaves and other enslaved workers—the entire institution of slavery, really—were crucial to the ultimate success of the army in the field and the Confederate insurgency as a whole. There were literally hundreds of newspaper editorials, letters, and diaries from people in the army writing about this. In fact, only 20 percent of the sample of 429 Southern soldiers explicitly voiced proslavery convictions in their letters or diaries. Drawing on thousands of letters and diaries in archives across the United States, she demonstrates that Confederate and Union soldiers identified slavery and … A letter from Confederate soldier Edwin Kerrison to his sister about his experience during the Battle of Gettysburg, July 7, 1863. List and explain the reasons Mosby expressed particular disappointment with “the. . Civil War Letters. Once again, the historical record tells us their stories. Lieutenant Sidney Carter’s wounding at Gettysburg cut his life short, but before his death he requested that his camp slave, Dave, “take everything he had and bring it home,” where each item would be offered as a parting gift to his family members. The Confederate flag is displayed prominently near the South Carolina statehouse, evoked in multiple Southern state flags, flown in frontyards, on T-shirts and off pickup trucks. It was our inheritance – Neither am I ashamed that my ancestors were pirates & cattle thieves. The American Civil War began in 1861, lasted until 1865, and was ruinous by any standard. South Carolinians in Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s First Corps witnessed the women of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, appeal to their enslaved servants to run off and seize their freedom. In this letter written in 1907, when he was an attorney at the Justice Department, Mosby furiously attacked the men who supported this mindset. Restoration of Library of Congress image by Adam Cuerden via Wikicommons, mythical accounts of black Confederate soldiers, Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War's Most Persistent Myth (Civil War America), Archaeologists Unearth Egyptian Queen's Tomb, 13-Foot 'Book of the Dead' Scroll, You Can Now Explore the CIA's 'Entire' Collection of UFO Documents Online, How Wolves Are Driving Down Mountain Lion Populations, Wolverine Captured on Yellowstone Trail Cameras for the First Time. Prisoners in Union uniform willing to die ” and that he was proud to fight the... Duty to his sister about his experience during the Battle of Gettysburg, 7. Reminder of America 's history of slavery enslaved workers until a “ young man of benevolent expression attempted... Much greater survival rate than the letters also mention another Confederado, who acquired a sugar plantation with 130 workers... S. Mosby, the American Civil war was over and the former states of the Confederacy an... 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