The Confederate States of America
Taken from a speech given to his troops on January 2, 1864
By Confederate Major General Patrick Cleburne
“Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late. We can give but a faint idea when we say it means the loss of all we now hold most sacred ... personal property, lands, homesteads, liberty, justice, safety, pride, manhood. It means that the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern school teachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the War, will be impressed by all influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, our maimed veterans as fit objects for the derision, it means the crushing of Southern manhood ... to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties.”
The War for Southern Independence
The War for Southern Independence was not fought over the issue of slavery, as taught from public school books written by biased northern historians, who put their “spin” on history.
It was also not a "Civil War." A civil war is a war between two factions trying to take control over a central government. The War of 1861-1865 was between two nations. When the Constitution was ratified, the states retained the right to secede. When the rights of the Southern States were abrogated, they exercised that privilege. After withdrawing from the Union, they formed the Confederate States of America, a separate government. The Confederate States simply declared their independence from the Union exactly as the American Colonies had declared their independence from England. There has never been a Civil War in our country. The war was fought for Constitutional rights. The Confederate states had absolutely no intention of taking over the government in Washington, D.C., any more so than George Washington had of taking over England.
The state of Massachusetts had threatened to secede from the Union a few years previously, because of the addition of the states from the Louisiana Territory.
The main issue in the war was not slavery. The North did not first fight to free the slaves. "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with slavery in the states where it exists," said Lincoln early in the conflict. The Union Congress overwhelmingly endorsed this position in July 1861. The war had already begun some three months before, on April 14, 1861. Within a year of the July proclamation however, both Lincoln and Congress decided to make emancipation of slaves in the Confederate States, a Union war policy.
Union General U. S. Grant said during the war, "Should I become convinced that the object of the government is to execute the wishes of the abolitionists, I pledge you my honor as a man and a soldier, I would resign my commission and carry my sword to the other side." General Grant kept his slaves until after the war was over.
The Emancipation Proclamation actually freed no one at the time it was made. It applied only to the Confederate States. The reason it was issued was because Lincoln thought it would start a rebellion against the Confederacy by black people. Some blacks joined in, but many others remained loyal to the Confederacy and their homeland. The Emancipation Proclamation did not include the northern states, or the border-states, so they were allowed to keep their slaves until the war was over. Since slavery had become a Union war policy, the Union finally had to free them in the northern states.
Contrary to what is taught in our public schools today, many former slaves chose to remain and work for their former “owners” and they got along fine together. There were thousands of brave black soldiers who volunteered into the Confederate Army and fought proudly for their homeland in the Confederate Army.
Some ignorant “historians" have said; Lincoln was the best friend the South ever had. That is ridiculous. That is like saying that Hitler was the best friend the Jews ever had. It is true that he may not have been so cruel in his treatment of southerners after the war and during the (So called) “Reconstruction Period” (cruel military occupation) had he lived, but that is because he had already accomplished what he set out to do and that is nullify state's rights and concentrate power in a central government in Washington, D.C. After he was assonated, more vengeful Yankees took over the government.
Before that war, the states were sovereign. Afterward, federal law has always trumped state laws on everything. Who has power over all the states? It is crooked politicians and those liberals in the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. What happened to the 10th Amendment? Lincoln effectively nullified that, although it is still on the books. Who makes the rules on issues like gay marriage and late term abortions and everything else that affect us? We certainly don't. Government by consent of the governed no longer exists in America.
The war was fought over the "root of all evils," money or wealth. The main bone of contention was the Morrill Tariffs. A tax on imported goods that rose to 47 percent. At the time, Britain manufactured better and cheaper goods than in the industrialized northern states and since the southern economy was agrarian based, the people of the south preferred goods imported from England. Lincoln and his ilk imposed the tax and refused to stop it. This was done to protect northern industries, i.e. wealth in the north. Representatives from the southern states went to Washington, D.C. to try and have this tax repealed, to which Lincoln refused. As you can see, if the Confederacy had been allowed to stand, it would have ruined the northern economy because the vast majority of wealth lay in the southland. At that time, the agriculturally based economy in the south was greater than the industrialized north.
If the Confederate Battle Flag is a symbol of slavery, the United States flag is even more so. Slavery thrived under the United States flag from 1776 to 1865, (some 89 years,) while under the Confederate flag a mere four years, but Lincoln used the slavery issue, along with abolitionists support to have an excuse to invade the South. Yes, Lincoln invaded the Confederates States of America. Lincoln knew he must make the Confederacy fire the first shots of the war. He refused to remove federal troops from Fort Sumter, which was of course in the Confederate States. When he sent more troops and armor, supposedly just "supplies" to Ft. Sumter, he knew when the Confederates learned what they were doing, they would indeed fire the first shot.
Lincoln is no doubt, the most evil president our country has ever had. He was responsible for the deaths of more Americans than Hitler was. Not only that, but he was very cruel to civilians in the south. With his approval, his troops murdered civilians, burned their homes, farms and destroyed all of their food that the Yankee army couldn't use and even along with abolitionists support along with abolitionists support destroyed their farm equipment so they would starve. They raped, pillaged everyone in general sherman's path, even the negroes, whom he supposedly was trying to "free."
School books have taught not only outright lies, but half truths every since the war and have "educated" (brainwash) the American people to give the north moral high ground. Even Southerners have been taught and sincerely believe that our ancestors were the evil people and that "Lincoln held the Union together. (He did hold the Union together, but denied freedom to the Southern states.) It must be remembered that if the King of England had been able to thwart the Colonies effort to free themselves from England, the king could have claimed (and correctly) that he held England together.
Whatever else is said about Lincoln, he was a brilliant political strategist. When he was practicing law, he once defended a fellow who had been accused of committing a crime one night. On Lincoln’s cross examination, one of the witnesses who had claimed that he saw the man commit the offense was asked by Lincoln how he could have observed the crime at night. The man replied that it there was bright moonlight that night. Lincoln pulled out a Farmer’s Almanac and read from it that on the date of offense, there was no moonlight. The almanac he used was an old one from a different year, so he didn’t mind stooping to dirty tricks to win a point. He also maneuvered things around to make it appear that the Union states had the moral high ground (the poor slaves) and the South to be the villains. and used the slavery issue, along with abolitionists support to have an excuse to invade the South. Yes, Lincoln invaded the Confederates States of America. Lincoln knew he must make the Confederacy fire the first shots of the war. He refused to remove federal troops from Fort Sumter, which was of course in the Confederate States. When he sent more troops and armor, supposedly just "supplies" to Ft. Sumter, he knew when the Confederates learned what they were actually sending reinforcements, they would indeed fire the first shot.
Back In 1832, South Carolina called a convention to nullify tariff acts of Abominations. A compromise lowering the tariff was reached, averting secession and possibly war. The North favored protective tariffs for the manufacturing industry. The South, which exported agricultural products to and imported manufactured goods from Europe, favored free trade and were hurt by the tariffs. Plus, a northern-dominated Congress enacted laws similar to Britain’s Navigation Acts to protect northern shipping interests.
Today, (In the year of 2000,) the "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People" has attacked our Confederate Battle Flag that is being flown in many state capitols in the Southern States, and claim that it is a symbol of black slavery, and they want it removed. Of course, the cause of their ignorance on the subject has been caused from the false teachings by northern "historians." To say that slavery caused the (so-called) “Civil War,” would be like saying that World War II was fought to free Jewish people from the Nazi death camps in Germany. That war did rescue Jews from the death camps, but that was only consequential. That brings up another interesting point; if you wanted information about persecutions the Jews suffered in the Nazi Death Camps during World War II, would you ask a Jew who survived this Holocaust, or a Nazi spokesman? After all, the war occurred here in our homeland and our ancestors were the ones who suffered the unbelievable cruelty by northern troops and the aftermath of that war, the military occupation and Carpetbag government. Naturally, the northern historians would put a pro-northern spin to history and make it appear that they were the “good guys.”
Actually, there were numerous causes of the war. One of these reasons is suggested in an 1831 speech by South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun where he said "Stripped of all its covering, the question is whether ours is a federal or consolidated government; a constitutional one or absolute one; a government resting solidly on the basis of the sovereignty of the states, or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, violence and force must ultimately prevail,"
Much of the Southern discontent was high tariffs Congress enacted to protect northern manufacturing interests. Referring to those tariffs, South Carolina’s U. S. Senator Calhoun said, "The North has adopted a system of revenue and disbursements in which an undue portion of the burden of taxation has been imposed on the South, and an undue proportion of its proceeds appropriated to the North. Among other Southern grievances were northern actions similar to King George III’s Navigation Acts, which drove our Founders to the 1776 War of Independence. You don’t have to take the slant of 20th century college professors on the causes of the War For Southern Independence, Just read the words of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America, in "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government," or the words of his vice president, Alexander Hamilton Stephens, in his two-volume account of the constitutional causes of the war.
The vast majority of white Southerners were very poor and had to work just as hard as the slaves to survive and out of necessity so did their children. Many of them were sharecroppers. Only six percent of Southerners owned slaves and among this six- percent were 13,000 free Blacks who owned slaves themselves. Would 94 percent of Southerners have fought so long and hard as they did for the six percent who owned slaves? Not a chance! There were also many honorable Southern Black people who proudly fought for the Confederacy. There were regiments made up almost entirely of Black soldiers. This is still another fact that is not taught in our schools.
It was the northern states that first began importing slaves from Africa. Later, as the northern states became more industrialized, their need for slaves diminished and since the Southern economy was based more on agriculture, there was still need for laborers, but only the more wealthy land owners could afford them. When the need of slaves in northern states diminished, all of a sudden, most of the people there developed their “Holier than thou” attitude and wanted to end slavery.
Because Lincoln was assonated, he became a martyr and is almost worshiped by modern society, but he was just an ordinary crooked politician who was only concerned with winning the presidential election, and would say whatever he thought would win him the most votes. Since he thought that abolitionist were in the majority, he campaigned as an abolitionist and won the election.
Lincoln would have never went to war to prevent slavery, but he wouldn’t allow the Confederacy to exist as a separate country because of the South’s rich natural resources, and the taxes collected from them. That would have severely damaged Union business interests.
I would like to recommend an excellent book, titled THE SOUTH WAS RIGHT, authors James Ronald Kennedy and Walter Donald Kennedy. This is absolutely the best and most enlightening book that I have ever read about American history. It goes to the very heart of the issues regarding causes of the War for Southern Independence. It explains in detail how history has been distorted in our history books by northern historians and how Lincoln and other Federalist have abrogated the 10th Amendment to our Constitution and seized power from individual states and formed an all powerful centralized government in Washington, D.C. The 10th Amendment says basically that powers not specifically delegated to the Federal Government shall remain with the individual states. It should be evident to everyone that this is no longer the case.
When a government is afraid of the people, there is freedom. When the people are afraid of their government, there is tyranny. It has already come to that point. Activist federal judges have made rulings which are directly contrary to the meaning of our Constitution and the wishes of the majority of people. In the last few decades, they have been constantly chewing away our rights in every respect, including the First, Second and Tenth Amendments. If only our government would adhere to the original meaning of our beloved Constitution, we would be truly free.
The Union troops and carpetbaggers devastated Southern people and caused untold and unnecessary suffering and death. Although, the war was not fought over slavery, it did bring an end to it earlier than otherwise would have happened. After Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation,” he had no other choice than to free the slaves in the northern states.
Many Southerners owned slaves, so our section deserves its share of the blame. But, how did the slaves get here? British and Dutch vessels engaged in the slave trade, but, there were also American ships in the ugly business and though the historians have carefully steered clear of the fact, practically every one of them was owned and operated by Northerners.
People in Massachusetts captured their Pequot Indian neighbors and sold them into slavery in the West Indies; they also carried on a large trade in Negroes imported from overseas. In 1787, Rhode Island held first place in the traffic. Later, New York City became the leader in slave trade. Philadelphia soon found the slave business attractive. The slave traders could buy a slave in Africa for a few gallons of rum and sell him at a fantastic profit and they made fabulous fortunes. What did the Northern traders do with their slaves? Many were sold and used in the north, while others were sold to Southern Planters.
History books have misled today’s Americans to believe the war was fought to free slaves. Abe Lincoln’s family owned slaves, and kept them for over a year after he started the War Between the States. They finally freed their own slaves in August of 1862, after deciding to make the issue of slavery a union war policy. In President Lincoln’s first inaugural address, he said "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so." During the war, in an 1862 letter to the New York Daily Tribune editor Horace Greeley, Lincoln said, "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery." Lincoln’s in-laws also owned slaves. It is known that Union generals Grant, Sherman and other northern generals owned and kept their slaves in the Union Army until after the war was over, until it finally became unlawful in the northern states. If Lincoln was concerned about slavery, why didn't he prohibit it in the Union States before turning to the South?
Lincoln stated over and over again for his entire adult life that he did not believe in social or political equality of the races, he opposed inter-racial marriage, supported the Illinois constitution’s prohibition of immigration of blacks into the state, once defended in court a slave-owner seeking to retrieve his runaway slaves, but never defended a runaway, and that he was a life-long advocate of colonization – of sending every last black person in the U.S. back to Africa, or anywhere, but not allow them to live in the United States.
The Union had no legitimate reason to wage a war against the Confederacy, other than to deprive individual states of their Constitutional right to succeed from the union, and run their own business. Northern “historians” have taught outright lies about the war, they have used thousands “half truths” to put their spin on the war, that is, they never tell the “Rest of the story.”
The North fought for money and political power, while the Confederacy was fighting for independence.
Lincoln the Lawyer
It is true that Lincoln became famous for his debates with Stephen A. Douglas in 1858, regarding his stand against slavery, but Lincoln was a lawyer by trade and every lawyer must be good debaters, because that is the nature of their business. Lincoln did have great debating skills; there is no question about that. He could have easily argued the opposite side with equal vigor. He may have actually believed that slavery was wrong, but the fact that he kept his slaves for about a year after his war with the Confederacy began, strongly suggests that he didn’t let his conscience bother him about owning them. Lincoln was also a politician, with a great lust for power. At the time of the debates, he thought it would be politically expedient to gain favor with the abolitionist. Therefore, it is better to judge a man by what he does and not by what he says.
Slave trade began before the American Revolution.
It seems that the vast majority of our history books has ignored the truth about slavery, but has created an entirely different picture. The following was taken out of a very old history book, which was published in several volumes. It deals in part with some of the problems America was facing with the king of England immediately preceding the American Revolution. The book is entitled "The American Nation - a History" volume 8 – preliminaries of the Revolution 1763-1775 – page 250:
"The indignation of the people of Virginia was aroused by a much more serious grievance. In 1770 the king, in the interest of British merchants, issued an instruction commanding the Governor:
“Upon pain of the highest displeasure, to accent to no law by which the importation of slaves should be in any respect prohibited or obstructed."
In the address against this order, the House of Burgess in 1772 declared that:
"The importation of slaves into the colonies from the coast of Africa hath long been considered as a trade of inhumanity, and under its present encouragement, we have much reason to fear will endanger the very existence of your Majesty’s American dominions. We are sensible that some of your Majesty’s subjects in Great Britain may reap emoluments from this sort of traffic; but when we consider that it greatly retards the settlement of the colonies with more useful inhabitants, and may in time have the most destructive influence, we presume to hope that the interest of few will be disregarded, when placed in competition with the security and happiness of such numbers of your Majesty’s dutiful and loyal subjects."
Hundreds of books have been written about Lincoln the humanitarian, a soft and gentle man. But from the very beginning of his administration he intentionally waged a cruel and unbelievably bloody war on civilians as well as soldiers. As early as 1861, Federal soldiers looted, pillaged, raped and plundered their way through Virginia and other Southern States, completely burning to the ground the towns of Jackson and Meridian, Mississippi, Randolph, Tennessee, and others. Historian Jeffrey Rogers Hummel estimates that some 50,000 Southern civilians were killed during the war, and this number, even if it is exaggerated by a multiple of two, most likely includes thousands of slaves. In his march to the Sea, General William Tecumseh Sherman boasted of having destroyed $100 million in private property and that his “soldiers” carried home another $20 million worth.
In his memoirs Sherman wrote that when he met with Lincoln after his March to the Sea was completed, Lincoln was eager to hear the stories of how thousands of Southern civilians, mostly women, children and old men, were plundered, sometimes murdered, and rendered homeless. Lincoln, according to Sherman, laughed almost uncontrollably at the stories. Even Sherman biographer Lee Kennett, who writes very favorably of the general, concluded that had the Confederates won the war, they would have been “justified in stringing up President Lincoln and the entire Union high command for violation of the laws of war, specifically for waging war against noncombatants.
It is very clear that the Southern People and the Confederacy were not exclusively to blame for slavery. English and Yankee slave traders, along with black slave sellers should share equal blame for slavery.
Black people in Africa were captured by other Blacks and sold into slavery because they were prisoners. The ones bought for slavery were actually saved from an even worse fate, which would surely have been death. I’m quite sure that those poor people in those days would not have kept, fed and coddled prisoners like our country does today. Their market value to the black chieftains no doubt saved their lives.
Tales of Reconstruction
Taken from Destruction & Reconstruction, published in 1879
“The world can not properly estimate the fortitude of the Southern people unless it understands and takes account of the difficulties under which they labored. Yet, great as were their sufferings during the war, they were as nothing compared to those inflicted upon them after it’s close.
Extinction of slavery was expected by all and regretted by none, although loss of slaves destroyed the value of land. Existing since the earliest colonization of the states, the institution was interwoven with the thoughts, habits, and daily lives of both races, and both suffered by the sudden disruption of the accustomed tie. Bank stocks, bonds, all personal property, all accumulated wealth, had disappeared. Thousands of houses, farm buildings, work animals, flocks and herds, had been wantonly burned, killed, or carried off. The land was filled with widows and orphans crying for aid, which the universal destruction prevented them from receiving. Humanitarians shuddered with horror and wept with grief for the imaginary woes of Africans; but their hearts were as adamant to people of their own race and blood. These had committed the unpardonable sin, had wickedly rebelled against the Lord’s anointed, the majority. Blockaded during the war, and without journals to guide opinion and correct error, we were unceasingly slandered by our enemies, who held possession of every avenue to the world’s ear.
Famine and pestilence have ever followed war, as if our Mother Earth resented the defilement of her fair bosom by blood, and generated fatal diseases to punish humanity for its crimes. But there fell upon the South a calamity surpassing any recorded in the annals or traditions of man. An article in the "North American Review," from the pen of Judge Black, well describes this new curse, the carpetbaggers, as worse than Attila, scourge of God. He could only destroy existing fruits, while, by the modern invention of public credit, these caterans stole the labor of unborn generations. Divines, moralists, orators, and poets throughout the North commended their thefts and bade them God’s speed in spoiling the Egyptians; and the rein of these harpies is not yet over. Driven from the outworks, they hold the citadel…. Honest men regarded them as monsters, generated in the foul ooze of a past era, that had escaped destruction to live in a more wholesome age…. Twelve years of triumph have not served to abate the hate of the victors in the Great War. The last presidential canvass was but a crusade of vengeance against the South.”
The famous outlaws Jesse and Frank James were guerilla fighters with Quantrell’s Raiders and were not associated with the Confederate Army.
The story below was taken from a book written by one of the former James’ gang members Cole Younger in his later years. After serving 25 years in a federal prison, he joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show touring the country and staging "robberies" before large audiences.
These men were hardened war veterans. After the war ended, Jesse and Frank returned to their family farm and engaged in honest hard work trying to live off of the land peaceably for four years, until one day while they were working in the fields, a railroad representative for the Rock Central Railroad (Which was based in Chicago, Illinois) visited their farm in an effort to gain ownership of the James’ family farm, on which to build a railroad through. Mr. James was offered only one dollar an acre for it, which he refused. The railroad representative then shot and killed Mr. James, then threw a fire bomb into their house killing their young son and completely destroying their home, while the Yankee soldiers turned their backs.
When Jesse and Frank saw their house burning, they ran to investigate. Upon learning what had happened with the railroad man, they swore revenge. They felt they had no choice but to seek their own justice. They dug up their old revolvers that had been wrapped and buried in a Confederate Battle Flag inside their barn, hidden from the Yankee troops. Jesse and Frank rode into town, found the guilty railroad man and killed him. From that day on, they were outlaws and went into hiding.
After that incident, they continued to rob the Rock Central Railroad holdings, which included banks, stagecoaches and railroads. They had the full sympathy of their neighbors who helped to keep them hidden from their tormentors, the Yankee Carpetbaggers.
Although, peaceful for fours years after the war, they joined the Younger Brothers to form a gang of rebels that waged a bloody war against their corrupt enemies. One day, they rode into town and made a rather large cash withdrawal, although they didn’t have an account with them. While the robbery was in progress, Jesse confronted the bank’s vice president, who happened to be one of his former enemies. This man had been a captain in the Union army, and was the man who led an attack during which Jesse’s Confederate Captain Bill Anderson was killed. This man had Anderson’s head cut off and placed on public display to intimidate the local citizens. The James’ boys had a run in with this man only a few days earlier. He was a rather brash fool who made the mistake of threatening Jesse James. In less than two seconds, there was a surprised new face in Hell. The James gang escaped to commit many more robberies.
The Rock Central Railroad hired Allen Pinkerton, head of the Pinkerton Detective Agency to capture the James Gang. Allan Pinkerton hired one of his nephews to help.
In the evening of January 11, 1874, Pinkerton’s nephew confronted Jesse James on a ferry-boat and tried to kill him. Instead, Jesse James killed him. Allan Pinkerton swore that he would not rest until the James Brothers were hung by a rope. The ferryman would not admit to witnessing the killing and did not testify against Jesse James.
Most history books only tell one side of the story and depict the James gang as being blood-thirsty in the very beginning, but conveniently leave out the fact that their anger was caused by the Northern railroads who were protected by the carpetbag government. So, in the beginning at least, the James gang set out to get revenge for the deaths of their daddy and younger brother, plus a little something for their burned out farm house.
In an attempt to capture the James’ gang, the Yankee troops attacked the James farm and one of the soldiers blew off an arm of the elder Mrs. James. The gang was not there at the time of the attack. In another incident, a group of Yankee soldiers ran across a couple of gang members. In a short skirmish, the two gang members escaped, but the Yankees succeeded in killing an innocent 15 year old boy.
Southern White people were not allowed to vote, or own land without Carpetbag government’s approval. Yankee troops even showed up at their funerals to harass them. These people were not only robbed of their possessions, but also robbed of their pride and dignity.
I am not condoning everything the James gang did, but just wanted to tell the true side of history that has been ignored by most northern historians. I can empathize with the James gang.
Members of the Missouri legislature tried to pass an amnesty bill for the James Brothers, so they would turn themselves in to authorities. Allan Pinkerton then shot and killed the old ferryman who was running the ferry service across a river at the time of his nephew’s death, in revenge for the old fellow’s refusal to admit seeing Jesse James’ killing his nephew. Pinkerton then blamed the killing of the ferryman on the James Brothers to stall the amnesty bill.
Jesse James was shot in the back and killed in his own home by one of his former gang members by the name of Bob Ford, for reward money. Bob Ford in turn, was shot and killed in a bar in Colorado by a cowboy who shouted as he shot, "This is for Jesse James."
Frank James was tried and acquitted. Allan Pinkerton died of a heart attack before Frank James’ trial. Frank was not convicted, and never served one day in prison.
We who still revere the "Old South" consider the cause of the War for Southern Independence to be the right cause – not the lost cause. Civil War is a misnomer.
Another misconception that has been taught and believed by about 95 percent of people is that the leaders of the Confederacy sought to overthrow the government in Washington, D. C. That is blatantly false. In an obituary of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, published by the New York Times, states that “Lee's greatest victory was the Battle of Chancellorsville in May of 1863. Lee was faced with a larger army led by fighting Joe Hooker. Lee and his most trusted lieutenant, Gen. Stonewall Jackson, divided their forces and through a forced march around General Hooker fell on his exposed flank, rolling it up, and defeating the union forces yet again.
This victory led Lee and Davis to consider a second invasion of the North. Lee's army would hopefully bring the Federal forces to bay and destroy them. They would then march on Washington to hand Lincoln a letter asking for recognition of the CSA. So with desperate hopes, and while still mourning the loss of Stonewall Jackson, Lee and Davis crossed the river and invaded Pennsylvania.
Our Confederate troops were always greatly outnumbered by an immeasurably better equipped army, but man for man were never outfought. They won the majority of the battles, but lost the war. I swell with pride when I think of the raw courage and fighting spirit shown by our Southern ancestors in the face of such overwhelming odds. The great writer Rudyard Kipling once said "There in the Southland lives the greatest breed of fighting man the world has ever known."
I am very proud of the fact that my grandfather George W. Higginbotham fought with the 3rd Alabama Cavalry, in the defense of Atlanta.
The demands of the war strained the Confederate economy to the breaking point, while the North was plunged into a period of booming prosperity. Government purchases for military needs stimulated industry and farming. Expanding industries included iron and steel, woolen clothing shoes munitions, railroads and coal. Farmers vastly increased wheat and wool production.
During the entire time of the war, and the so-called "Reconstruction Period" (which was nothing more than a brutal military occupation of Southern States by the Union forces.) was a time of unbelievable suffering and hardships for Southerners, a nightmare too horrible for us to imagine. During the war, most able-bodied men had to serve in the army, leaving only old men, women and children to work the fields. Yankee general William Tecumseh Sherman and his troops during his so-called "March to the Sea" killed, terrorized and robbed poor helpless citizens of their food, to supply his army. Then they deliberately destroyed the rest of their food as well as their farm equipment and barns, to leave them without any means of growing food. Even many northerners regarded their general Sherman as a mad man. The whole town of Atlanta, Georgia was burned.
Published Fall, 1985 by historian and genealogist Faye Acton Axford of Athens, Limestone Co. AL. A copy can be secured from the McClung Collection, Knoxville, Tennessee or the Limestone County Alabama Archives.
"When you return to your homes, you will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed", said Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. And afterwards, hundreds of weary, dirty, often vermin-ridden men marched homeward, heads bowed in sorrow over their dead comrades lost in a cause for which they had given everything. That the bowed heads did not signify defeat was often reiterated by those who had been there-at Shiloh, Bull Run, Salem Church, Gettysburg and many other never- to- be forgotten places of which they had never heard before being caught up in war.
The confederates reached Limestone County in that summer and fall of 1865, unprepared for the scenes which met them-the courthouse and many buildings around the square lying in gutted ruins, homes pilfered of all vestiges of former beauty and /or comfort, hunger rampart, and fields stripped bare by the occupying forces. Corn, when it could be found, was almost their only means of sustenance.
Unfortunately, they couldn't eat cotton, for five million bales of that commodity were stored in the South, which would have been many millions in Liverpool, but much of it was seized, and a heavy tax was levied on the remainder. Before a law was passed to exempt the tax in 1868, Alabamians paid almost $10.3 millions in tax. The New York Chamber of Commerce had its influence in this exemption law, perhaps, for they reported that they deplored this tax, on the grounds that "taxation without representation is tyranny," and the cotton tax was a violation of the U. S. Constitution.
Other problems arose as the veterans settled in to recoup their losses. Lands that had been cleared in the early part of the century by pioneer antecedents and mastered with pride and prosperity before 1861, began to slip away through the chancery courts and bankrupt proceedings because of high taxes imposed upon them. Freedmen, who had been good workers under the slave system, now bided their time, waiting for the "forty acres and a mule" promised them by the Freedman's Bureau from their former masters' lands. The former President of the Confederacy was imprisoned at Fortress Monroe; the government to which they had pledged allegiance was in shambles, and loyal Confederates considered it treason to identify with the Federal Government. State and local governments had little or no jurisdiction over the citizens. Perhaps the most serious problem lay in the lawless bands of black and white soldiers and agitators who seeking power and revenge for real or imagined insults. It was not long before it was apparent that some kind of protection against these outrages was imperative.
In her book, the Authentic History of the Ku Klux Klan: 1865-1877, printed in New York in 1924, Susan Lawrence Davis gives an account of these troubled times. We herewith wish to give a condensed version of her findings, made through her personal memories, interviews, and documents dealing with the period of activity of this group which began in Pulaski, Tennessee as a secret social organization on Christmas Eve, 1865. Their first ride through town, dressed in their strange garb, produced fear among the superstitious, and this fear became the weapon used by the Ku Klux Klan after it became more than merely a social lark, but dedicated itself to the protection of the innocent.
In February, 1866, Captain John C. Lester of Pulaski, visited Lawrence Ripley Davis, father of Susan Davis, in Athens. There was a rumor that white children would be forced by bayonet to attend a school in the Baptist church in Athens which had been opened for Negroes by J. W. Alvord of the Freedmen's Bureau. Mrs. Jane Hamilton Childs, who had saved the Female Institute from the torch by her Northern sentiments, persuaded the commanding officer not to carry out this threat. She had lived among the Southern people long enough to know that they were far from being ready for such a drastic departure from tradition.
Following this favorable talk between Lester and Davis, Editor Frank McCord of the Pulaski Citizen and Grand Cyclops of the Pulaski organization, met with a group of leading citizens at "The Cove," three miles from Athens. Charter members attending were: Dr. Nicholas Davis Richardson (elected Grand Cyclops of the Athens den), R. A. McClellan, Robert Donnell, Fortunatus Wood, Paul L. Jones, John B. Floyd, T. J. Cox, R. B. Mason, William Richardson, James B. Richardson, W. R. Pryor, William Cass Nichols, Thomas Carter, Henry J. Pepin, and Edwin R. Richardson.
Edwin Tanner, son of Peterson Tanner and ex-Confederate soldier living three miles from Athens, was called out of his house, dragged into the road and shot by Negro soldiers in August 1866. It so happened that Tanner's wife had just given birth to a son and Dr. N. D. Richardson, the attending physician, was there. The doctor sent a faithful ex-salve of his to Athens to notify the Ku Klux Klan members to come and capture the murderers. Plantation bells, signal of danger among the Klan, started ringing over the county. Sue Davis recalled that she was awakened by the bell at their home in the east end of the county, and saw her father, dressed in Klan regalia, kissing her mother goodbye. The Klan members pursued the murderers to the Tennessee River, where members of the guilty party tried to cross the railroad bridge by foot, met an oncoming train and jumped into the river. Some escaped and some were drowned. Edwin Tanner's will was probated by Samuel Tanner, Jr., on 29 August 1866.
Many other outrages were perpetrated by members of the Union League and the Loyal League, which was a branch of the parent organization. The Union League was founded in Ohio in 1862 to bolster the morale of the Union Army, which suffered several defeats during that time. The League sent agents into the South to distribute leaflets to Negroes with orders to molest women and children to the point that their Confederate soldiers would leave the army to protect them. Sue Davis recorded that a faithful slave, Alex, brought such a paper to her mother to read it to him. After he heard it, Alex declared that he would die before harming her or the children. Alex asked for a shotgun belonging to Davis, and sat at the front of the Davis house with the gun and an axe to guard the house during Davis' absence. Scenes like this were enacted all over the South.
After the post-war marriage of Federal General Jesse Phillips and Sue Davis's sister,
Virginia Davis Harris, they were often in Washington, D. C. Once they were invited to attend a meeting of the Loyal League. At this meeting, it was decided that the name of "Loyal League" should be changed to "Ku Klux Klan," and they would send more men South to spread terror. Mrs. Phillips decided to go to President Johnson, whom she had known during his short residence in Limestone County as a young man, to apprise him of the situation. Johnson later reported that it was after her visit to him that he changed his tactics of abuse of the South, and determined that that section should be fully restored to the Union. Virginia Phillips then hurried South to inform her brother and the other Ku Klux Klan members of the false Klan's plans. General Nathan Bedford Forrest, by now the Grand Wizard, called a meeting in Athens, and stationed men to patrol the roads and arrest those who could not give the very secret and authentic Ku Klux grip and pass word. President of the Loyal League around Athens, according to testimony given by Captain William Richardson, was D. H. Bingham, who is mentioned several times in the newspaper accounts. Richardson stated that the League met in an old drug store building on the corner of the Athens square.
Although the Ku Klux Klan spread rapidly throughout Alabama, the headquarters for the State were always in Athens. General James H. Clanton, brother-in-law of L. R. Davis, was the first Grand Dragon of the Realm of Alabama. Clanton was killed in 1871 as the result of a railroad dispute in Chattanooga. General John T. Morgan served from that time until 1876, when the Klan was instrumental in his election to the U. S. Senate; and General Edmund W. Pettus, a native of Limestone and later U. S. Senator, served from that time until the actual disbanding of the Klan in 1877. Bishop Hooker Wilmer, close friend of Morgan, went to England to see Judah P. Benjamin, ex-Confederate Cabinet member who became one of the most noted of English barristers. Benjamin, a Jew, was so impressed with the work of the Klan that he borrowed money to assist them in their efforts. Bishop Wilmer became the chaplain of the Alabama Klan and Father Abram Ryan, the noted southern poet, became the Chaplain for the Invisible Empire. Ryan attended at least one meeting of the Klan at the Athens home of Henry J. Pepin.
In 1871, when the health of Dr. N. D. Richardson made it impossible to continue as Grand Cyclops of the Athens den, Major R. A. McClellan took over. McClellan, who had served in Company C, 7th Alabama Cavalry under Colonel James c. Malone, later married Autora Pryor, daughter of Senator Luke Pryor. He was succeeded as Grand Cyclops by Major Robert Donnell, a veteran of company E, 50th Albama Regiment and the 22nd Alabama Infantry. When Sue Davis and her sisters attended Miss Sally Malone's school in Athens, either their father or Major Donnell would accompany them. Sue later learned that Donnell was one of the guards set up by the Klan to protect the school children.
Prior to the first convention of the Klan, held in Nashville during May 1867, Captain william Richardson, Captain John B. Floyd, and Bishop Hooker Wilmer joined Tennessee delegates in visiting General Robert E. Lee in the hopes that he would join and head the movement. Lee would not actively join, but stated that he would support it, so long as it remained a protective organization, in an invisible way. Thus, at the convention, which was held in Room Number 10 of the Maxwell House Hotel, the term "Invisible Empire" was adopted. Captain Richardson asked for, and received, Lee's approval to invite General Nathan Bedford Forrest to be the Klan leader. L. r. Davis and William Richardson traveled to Memphis before the convention to see Forrest. Richardson wished, in addition to asking Forrest to be the leader, to thank the general for rescuing him from being hanged as a spy (which he was not) in Murfreesboro during the war. J. W. Morton, once commander of artillery in Forrest's company and now Grand Cyclops of the Nashville den, administered the oath to Forrest as Grand Wizard of the Invisible Empire.
The Wizard had ten assistants called "Genii." The Empire was divided into Realms, the Realms into Divisions along the line of Congressional Districts, the Divisions into Provinces, and Provinces into Dens. At the convention, principles were adopted, stating that: "We recognize our relation to the United States government, the supremacy of the Constitutional laws thereof, and the Union of the States hereafter." They pledged to protect the weak, innocent and defenseless from the indignities of the lawless; and relieve the injured and oppressed and the suffering, especially the widows and children of confederate officers.
Forrest issued an order for a 4 July 1867 parade in all the provinces. He himself paraded with the Klan at Pulaski, then they came to Athens, not arriving at the latter place until about midnight. It was here that Forrest reenacted the tactics employed in the battle of Athens in September 1864, when by a skillful movement of his forces which bolstered their number manyfold, he tricked the defending Colonel Wallace Campbell into surrendering the Federal fort west of town. On this July 4th night in 1867, the Klan members came and went "like a wraith in the night," doing nothing to change the belief that they were the spirits of dead Confederate soldiers.
The worst period for the south came with the end of Johnson's administration. State and local offices were filled by Radical "carpet baggers," and military districts were set up. One instance of this action was in the replacement of John B. McClellan by Silas Thurlow as probate judge of Limestone County in 1868. Klan members and other citizens were incensed. At a meeting in Huntsville in November 1868, Thurlow was killed, and the Klan was blamed for it. Substantial evidence was given later, however, to clear the Klan of guilt. A Federal officer testified at hearings that the Klan was not on the side of the square where Thurlow was shot, and eye witnesses stated that he was killed by Negro soldiers stationed at the Court House.
Riots such as this furnished Washington with further reasons to tighten its control over the south. Every killing or whipping or disturbance was credited to the Ku Klux Klan. South Carolina was declared a military state after riots there, and Louisiana and Arkansas were particularly hard pressed.
When General U. S. Grant was elected to the Presidency in 1869, the South was hopeful that it would then be rid of carpet bag rule, but they were disappointed. The first Anti-Ku Klux Act was passed in 1871, and the second in 1872. Trials were held in Huntsville in May 1872, in which much evidence was brought forth, showing that the Klan was innocent of many charges against it. The trials made many in the northern states realize the serious situation in which the South found itself. A number of Federal officers spoke in favor of the assistance which the Klan had offered to them in the pursuance of law and order.
One such case in which the Klan proved of value was in the arrest of the desperado, Tom Clark, who left a wake of violence in North Alabama and Tennessee. When Forrest heard of the atrocities committed by Clark and his band of Tories, which northern papers called the work of the Ku Klux Klan, he went at once to Florence and held a meeting at the plantation George S. Houston near Muscle Shoals. Two of Clark's men were captured by Klansmen and taken to military authorities at Florence, under command of Captain DeFord, who had the men shot.
In 1868, the Radical governor of Tennessee, William P. "Parson" Brownlow, issued an order that Ku Klux Klansmen be shot on sight. During a speech in New York about this time, Brownlow was quoted as saying that he would like to see every Rebel man, woman ,and child exterminated south of the Mason and Dixon line. Such statements, of course, kept the hatred and bitterness alive in all geographical sections of the country.
Brownlow's order, coupled with the fact that atrocities were being committed far beyond the geographical range of the Klan, but attributed to them, caused Forrest to issue his only write order to the Klan on 20 October 1869. He demanded that all true members of the Klan destroy their masks and costumes. Any one refusing to do so would be "deemed an enemy of the Order, and shall be treated accordingly." It was stated that the Klan had never been the enemy of Negroes as long as they were peaceful, and indeed that they had come to their assistance in many instances. The Klan, it was stated, stood for order and peace, it was not a military or political organization, but a protective one. This order led to the popular belief, as it evidently was intended, that the Ku Klux Klan had officially disbanded, but this was, in fact, not a reality until the death of Forrest in 1877.
By that time, the difficult situation had been greatly alleviated. The "new day" that had long been dreamed of, was dawning. It was during the meeting at Houston's plantation , as described above, that Houston expressed his fervent desire that Alabama be rescued from radical rule. His old friend, Lawrence Ripley Davis, said that Houston was the only man who could defeat the Republican candidate, and that he would "stump" the state for him. Houston would win his campaign in 1874, and become the first Democratic governor to bring home rule back to the state. Davis went with him to Montgomery as his private secretary, and helped to bring about the reforms which would eventually put the State on a firm footing.
It cannot be denied that Susan Davis was highly prejudiced in her Authentic History, but it does present a clearer picture of events in those dark days. We get a glimpse of these conditions in the novel Gone With the wind, by Margaret Mitchell. It is interesting to note that Susan Davis sued Margaret Mitchell, stating that the latter had plagiarized whole pages from her Authentic History of the Ku Klux Klan in her novel. The suit was eventually dropped.
Invaluable information can be derived from the newspapers of the day, and we have endeavored to disseminate a better understanding of the times, sans magnolias, in this work. The whole story, however, cannot be gleaned from the yellowed newspaper journals, for much of the history could not be printed one hundred and twenty-odd years ago.
Following this introduction, Faye Acton Axford and Eulalia Yancey Wellden listed a collection of local excerpts from the Newspapers of the Day which tell the story of the citizens struggle. For example: Athens Weekly Post 1867;
Real Estate Sales - B. Sanders, trustee for J.W.S. Donnell, advertised for sale on 4 November 1867, the "magnificent residence in the town of Athens, situated near enough to the public square for the owner to enjoy all the facilities of town, and remote enough to have all the quietude of a country life, etc. I will also proceed to sell for cash, in the county of Lawrence, State of Alabama, on Tuesday 12 November 1867, the plantation known as the Seclusion Place, containing 2000 acres more or less.
Churches - The world-renowned Southern pianist, L. P. Wheat, gave a concert at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church…Rev. G. W. Mitchell who through the long night of war kept its fires burning and his flock together…for two years he was the only clergyman in the place. His church was used by the Federal military, for occasional barracks and hospital. When the carpets, books and furniture were mostly taken, then for quartermaster and commissary stores, until the floors and gallery were broken down, after which almost every piece of timber was destroyed - pulpit, seats, floors, windows, blinds, sills -all consumed, leaving the bare walls.
The Memphis Avalance paid tribute to the memory of Capt. Thomas Hubbard Hobbs, who died in July 1862 as a result of wounds received in the battle of Gaines Mill. "No better man, or braver soldier, fought with the Army of Northern Virginia - He gave his life for the country he loved so well, and for the development and improvement of which, he had done so much. In every sense of the word, he was a true man-as near faultless as it is possible for a man to become in a world so full of wickedness and deception as ours. There was never but one Tom Hobbs in this county"
George Donnell, a faithful and honest old servant died in October.
"For four years the souls of many of us had never wafted higher than the range of a cannon ball; our thought never reached deeper than a soldier's shallow grave; our calculations were of the comparative strength of armies, and the power of guns…but there was a little flock among the faithless-Dr. Petway, was sent to fill this station and under him and Smith a revival of religion had returned…