A REASON TO REMEMBER
Sunday, August 23, 2009
By Bob Hurst
Recently I received a phone call from the commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans camp in Lake City, Florida inviting me to a headstone dedication for a Confederate who is buried in a family cemetery not far from Tallahassee.
I was pleased to attend the event (in uniform) and very pleased with the event itself. The cemetery is in a rural setting just over the county line in Jefferson County in a beautiful location that makes me think of the Old South. The good-sized crowd came from far and near with many in period clothing and Confederate uniforms.
There were two color guards, numerous flags, a cannon to fire salutes, ladies in black mourning clothes and a host of others dressed like any average Southerner of today. When I say they came from far and near I am not exaggerating. There were attendees from as far west as Gadsden County, as far east as Columbia County, as far south as Taylor County and as far to the southeast as Gilchrist County. Since I didn’t meet everyone there, I might have missed some other out-of-towners. All in all it was a fine occasion.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, I spoke briefly to the assembled color guards of the importance of these occasions and of how necessary it is to remember our ancestors and the sacrifices they made fighting for a Cause they believed in. It was especially gratifying speaking to them since many of these young men in Confederate uniforms were young enough to be my grandson.
Both before and after the event, I told acquaintances about the occasion and, as frequently happens when I mention to others these ceremonies, I received "that" look and a question to the effect of "Why bother, that war was a long time ago and that person is not even part of your family". Well, the veteran honored that day might not be a part of my actual family line but he is certainly a part of my extended Confederate family – and that’s important.
The good Lord created time so that everything wouldn’t happen all at once. Our ancestors were here and they were real. They lived, they loved and, in the case of our Confederate ancestors, many of them sufferred terribly because of the atrocities committed by federal troops of the U.S. Army who invaded the homeland of people who only wanted to be left alone.
If we had true justice in this country, a great number of Federal generals, officers, troops and governmental leaders would be condemned as war criminals for the actions taken against Southerners (especially civilians) both during and after the War. This is one thing that I, personally, can never forget and something all Southerners should be aware of and remenber.
A book could be written (and thankfully some have) about these Northern-committed atrocities. Since there is not space in this article for that much information, I will write about SOME of the things that happened in just one state. I have chosen Missouri for several reasons.
Many Southerners are aware of what happened to our ancestors at Vicksburg, and in north Georgia during the reprobate Sherman’s rampage, and how Columbia was burned to the ground. I chose not to repeat these episodes, awful as they were, but to discuss SOME of what happened in a state that is generally not even considered to be a part of the Confederacy. At least, you don’t see Missouri on those maps in textbooks that show the states of the Confederacy.
Actually, the legitimate government of Missouri did adopt an Ordinance of Secession. This occurred in exile in Texas after the elected government of Governor Claiborne Jackson had been driven from the state in the spring of 1861 by federal troops. Missouri’s Ordinance of Secession was officially accepted by the Confederate government and the state was admitted to the Confederacy. That’s why one of the stars on the Confederate Battle Flag (and the Second National and Third National) represents Missouri.
Now, getting back to what happened to confederate sympathizers in Missouri.
When Abraham Lincoln, in April 1861, ordered each non-seceding state to supply troops for an invasion of the South, Gov. Jackson refused and sent a message to Lincoln saying: "Your requisition, in my judgment, is illegal, inconstitutional, and revolutionary in its object, inhuman and diabolical, and cannot be complied with. Not one man will the State of Missouri furnish to carry on any such unholy crusade." This apparently raised the hackles of Lincoln and, as I have written about previously, he was not a very nice man.
The federal war on Missouri began about a month after Gov. Jackson refused Lincoln’s order for troops. The Missouri militia had mustered in St. Louis for yearly training. On May 10 a federal force of about 8000 surrounded the training area and took prisoner the small Missouri guard of less than 700. As the prisoners were being led through the streets, outraged citizens heckled the federal troops who thereupon began firing on the citizens killing 28 (including women and children) and wounding 75. In addition, a number of the prisoners were killed. Despite this despicable performance (or perhaps because of it), the federal commander, Nathaniel Lyons, was promoted from captain to brigadier general by the Lincoln administration..
What followed in Missouri was one of the great examples of man’s inhumanity to man.
Within a few months of the St. Louis massacre, Union general Henry Halleck issued orders that anyone known to be hostile to the Union would be taxed "in proportion to the guilt and property of each individual". Those who resisted were imprisoned and those who couldn’t pay in cash had their furniture and property seized and auctioned. This began the rape and pillage of Missouri.
By requiring "loyalty oaths" and the posting of huge "performance bonds", the feds were able to extort millions of dollars from Missouri citizens. Orders were implemented forbidding citizen ownership of firearms for any purpose whatsoever in the state. Orders were passed establishing fines and assessments on local citizens if a federal soldier was killed or wounded in their neighborhood regardless of who was responsible. An order implemented in late 1862 required the arrest of anyone guilty of "disloyal conduct". Guilt was automatically assumed in these cases and there was no need for the gathering of evidence.
In the spring of 1863, by order of Brig. Gen. Benjamin Loan, no one would be allowed to grow crops or engage in business who was not considered to be loyal to the Union. Throughout the state, newspapers considered not loyal were shut down.
Union Brig. Gen. James H. Lane grandiosely stated the Federal policy: "We believe in a war of extermination. I want to see every foot of ground in Jackson, Cass and Bates counties burned over – everything laid waste." His troops were happy to comply burning 45 homes and buildings in Dayton (Cass County), 42 in Rose Hill, 20 in Greenfield, the entire town of Columbus and eventually 150 homes of suspected Confederate sympathizers in Johnson County.
Along with the financial theft and burning of homes, businesses, farms and fields, were the numerous and wanton murders of Missouri citizens even suspected of being Confederate sympathizers. A frequent ploy of Union horsemen was to ride up to a house at night and present themselves as Confederates. If the person answering the door was a male, or even a female who seemed to be Confederate-friendly, they were immediately executed. The house, of course, was then pilfered. This happened to ministers, doctors and leading businessmen of the various towns.
These type atrocities were committed so frequently that by war’s end, because of the murders, thefts and arsons, much of the state was uninhabited.
One of the great ironies of this inglorious period of thievery and murder involved a Union lieutenant colonel named Daniel Anthony. After a season of raiding and thievery, Anthony wrote to his ABOLITIONIST father and sister back home in Massachusetts encouraging that his brother come to Missouri immediately since there was a lot of money to be made quickly. He also bragged about now having four black servants waiting on him. Oh, by the way, his sister’s name was Susan B.
Well, there is so much, much more to be told about the atrocities committed against Southerners during the War and I will again visit this subject. Just consider that if this much inhumanity was vested upon the citizens of a border state, how much worse must it have been for those living in the Deep South. Let us never forget!
I encourage anyone reading this to make the effort to read more about the atrocities committed against Southerners both during and after the War. I highly recommend a book by the fine South Carolina author Walter Brian Cisco entitled WAR CRIMES AGAINST SOUTHERN CIVILIANS.
Oh, by the way, I contacted the larger-audience TV station in Tallahassee and the local newspaper about the headstone dedication ceremony. I know Saturday is always a slow news day and the media outlets are always looking for stories. Neither, however, apparently considered it newsworthy. Imagine that.
On The Web: shnv.blogspot.com/2009/08/reason-to-remember.html