The Old South
An address by Lieutenant-General D. H. Hill, on Memorial Day, June 6th, 1887, at Baltimore, before the Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States in the State of Maryland.
Comrades of the Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States in the State of Maryland:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN--Years and years ago, "the time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary," I was a subaltern artillery officer in the United States army. There was great striving with the young lieutenants of that day to be stationed at Fort McHenry; for they said that everybody in the world knew that the most beautiful and graceful ladies in the solar system were in the city near by. I give this as a reminiscence of the long ago, and not as a piece of flattery, or as an endorsement of the astronomical opinions of the lieutenants of artillery of that pre-historic period.
But to-day, the battle-scarred veterans all over the South pay a higher and grander tribute than that to the mere beauty and grace of the ladies of the present generation, when they tell, with tearful eyes and husky voices, of the kindness and sympathy shown them while they were hungry, ragged, sick and suffering prisoners of war. In all ages of the world, poetry and song have embalmed the ministrations of mercy of the beautiful to the brave; but these offices of charity rise into the sublime, when the gentle ministrants receive scorn, contumely and contempt for their gracious deeds to the friendless, the hated and the despised. May God bless the noble women of Baltimore forever and forevermore.
But there came a time when my people owed a still deeper debt of gratitude to your generous city. It was the time of the gentle fanning of spring breezes, of the rustling of the new-born leaves on the trees, of the wafting of perfumery from buds and flowers, of the busy humming of freshly-awakened insect life, of the gladsome singing and love-wooing of birds. The booming of cannon and the ringing of church bells told of the rejoicing of twenty-five millions of people over a restored Union. There was gladness everywhere but in the eleven States scorched and withered by the hot blasts of war. Lee had surrendered, and sorrow had filled the hearts of those stern warriors who had battled for four years with the world in arms. But the grief of surrender had turned into sullen despair, when they came back in this joyous springtime to their suffering families to find desolation and destruction everywhere; blackened ruins marked the sites of the stately mansions of once lordly planters; the fields, once white with the world's great staple, were now fenceless and unplowed; "the fig tree had not blossomed, neither was there fruit in the vine; the labor of the olive had failed, and the fields yielded no meat; the flocks had been cut off' from the folds, and there were no herds in the stalls"; the cities were without business, trade and commerce, and grass was growing in the streets of the villages almost deserted of inhabitants. "The elders had ceased from the gates, the young men from their music (yea, the best and the bravest of them filled bloody graves.) The joy of their heart had ceased, and their dances had been turned into mourning. The crown had fallen from the head of their beautiful Southland, and the Lord of Hosts had seemed to cover Himself with a thick cloud so that the prayers of widows and orphans could not pass through."
It was at this time, when our whole people were shrouded with a pall of gloom and anguish, and absolute starvation was imminent in many places, that the generous heart of your city throbbed with one simultaneous pulsation of pity. Then both sexes, all classes and conditions, friends and foes alike, forgetting political and sectional differences, vied with one another in sending relief to the afflicted South.
In the name of my countrymen, thus rescued from despair and death, I invoke the blessings of Almighty God upon the heads of their deliverers, whatever be their religious creed or political faith; whatever be the skies of their nativity or their opinion of the righteousness or unrighteousness of the Southern cause.
My subject is the Old South; the Old South of pure women and brave men; the South of Washington and Jefferson; of Carroll and Rutledge; of Marshall and Taney; of the Pinckneys of Maryland and South Carolina (for they were of the same stock); of Andrew Jackson and Winfield Scott; of Decatur, McDonough and Tatnall; the generous Old South which, rich, prosperous and peaceful under British domination, cried, "the cause of Boston is the cause of us all," and had her sons slain and her land desolated in defence of her Northern sister; the magnanimous Old South which, without ships and commerce, hoisted in 1812, in the interest of the carrying trade, the banner inscribed "Free Trade and Sailors' Rights;" the chivalrous Old South, crying out in the person of Randolph Ridgely, when Charley May was about trying the novel experiment of a charge of cavalry upon a battery of Mexican artillery, "hold on, Charley, till I draw their fire upon myself." Ah! my countrymen, that Old South did many unselfish deeds which, in the slang of the day, "didn't pay." But the world was made purer, nobler and better by them, and they should be as ointment poured forth, fragrant through all the ages.
Christopher Columbus has justly been considered mankind's greatest benefactor, and surely no one ever did great deeds under more adverse circumstances. Crowned heads had tantalized him with hope, but to baffle his expectations; jealous courtiers sneered at him; men of science called him a dreamer and a madman; his own sailors were insubordinate and mutinous. Through it all, this wonderful man had borne himself grandly, never losing heart or hope until success had crowned his efforts. The fame won by Columbus stimulated the enterprise of the world for the next three hundred and fifty years, until all the highways and byways of the ocean had been thoroughly explored, and all its creeks, bays and estuaries had been thoroughly surveyed. Then discovery ceased, and it was said that there were no more continents, no more islands, no more coral reefs, no more sand-bars to be found in all the wide waste of waters. This lull in discovery ceased until 1868, when an enterprising brother from somewhere north of Mason & Dixon's line announced to the startled world that he had discovered a hitherto unknown region of vast extent, with fertile soil, varied and wonderful products, the loveliest scenery and the finest climate on the globe--cities, towns, villages and a vast rural population--all speaking the English language, though it was not told whether they were Christian or heathen. The great navigator had called his discovery the New World, and other navigators had called theirs New Caledonia, New Zealand, New Britain, New Hebrides, New Holland, etc.; this land navigator of the year of grace 1868, called his discovery the New South.
The thing stranger to me than even finding this hitherto unknown land is, that the English-speaking race discovered there have adopted the name given them, are proud of it, brag about it, and roll it as a sweet morsel under their tongues. All other barbarians, have resented the name imposed upon them by their discoverers, and have clung to their old names, their old ideas, and their old traditions.
It will be my business at this time to speak to you, Veterans of this Association, of the Old South for which we fought and for which so many of our comrades, as dear to us as our own heart's blood, laid down their precious lives. I would tell you, young people of that dear Old South which has passed away, that you may admire and imitate whatever was grand and noble in its history, and reject whatever was wrong and defective.
Dr. Channing, of Boston, one of the ablest and fairest of the many gifted men of the North, said more than forty years ago, that the great passion of the South was for political power and the great passion of the North was for wealth. I quote his words: "The South has abler politicians than the North, and almost necessarily so, because its opulent class makes politics the business of life. * * * In the South, an unnatural state of things turns men's thoughts to political ascendancy, but in the Free States men think little of it. Prosperity is the goal for which they toil perseveringly from morning until night. Even the political partisan among us (the Northern people) has an eye to property and seeks office as the best, perhaps the only way of subsistence."
This was a frank confession from a Northern scholar and thinker, that Northern politicians sought office with an eye to property and subsistence, while ambitious Southerners sought for place and power from love of political supremacy. Now, the motive of the latter class was not good, but these lovers of high position did have a restraining influence upon the lovers of money. The scandals that have brought shame upon the American name occurred when the Old South was out of power. Who has not heard of the Credit Mobilier swindle, in which high Government officers, Senators and Representatives, were implicated? Then there were frauds known as Emma Mine stock, Seneca Stone contract, Whiskey Ring swindles, Pacific Mail subsidies, sales of Sutlers' Posts, steals of Government lands, back salary grabs, Star Route robberies, etc., etc. When Southern statesmen had a controlling influence, these knaveries were unknown, because they were impossible. No official from the Old South, whether in Cabinet, Congress, Foreign Mission or public position of any kind was ever charged with roguery. No great statesman of that period ever corruptly made money out of his office. Calhoun, Clay and Webster were comparatively poor. Some of our greatest presidents were almost paupers, notably Jefferson, Monroe and Harrison.
Dr. Channing gave the distinction between the North and the South with great candor and fairness. But we might still inquire: Why did the North seek property as the chief good, and why did the South seek political supremacy as the chief good ? The reason of the difference between the two sections seems to me perfectly plain. It was not a race difference between the two peoples, for they were of the same blood and the same speech. The ambition of each section as to the avenues in which it should seek its own self-aggrandizement was determined by its surroundings. The Northern States of the Old Thirteen had magnificent bays and harbors, but a bleak, inhospitable climate, in which African slaves could not thrive, and a soil not adapted to producing the things which the world specially needed. The people of that region then freed or sold into the South the negroes whom they had brought from Africa and whom they found to be unprofitable slaves in their latitude. Naturally, these Northerners turned away from unremunerative agriculture to the wealth-giving sea and became the boldest and hardiest navigators the world had ever seen; but with all their courage, pluck and energy they were averse to war and personal conflicts as interfering with the peaceful gains of trade. They were too busy to be turbulent. They put thousands of ships upon the ocean as fishing-smacks, whalers and merchantmen. Their shipping interests called for great centres of trade and for foundries and machine shops. They built great cities and huge dock-yards; they opened vast mines and established rich factories. They became money-getting from the situation in which their surroundings had placed them. Anglo-Saxon energy and indomitable will had made them masters of whatever was at first unfavorable in their situation.
The South had but few ports, and these were in unhealthy places, it had a climate well suited to the African and a soil well adapted to produce those things which the world most needed. Hence the people of the Old South maintained slavery and devoted themselves almost exclusively to agriculture. They built no great cities, for they had no trade; they developed no mines and erected no factories, for their laborers were better at field work than at anything else. The Southern men of property went to the country and became feudal lords of black retainers, the best fed, the best clothed, the gayest, happiest, healthiest, strongest serfs the world had ever seen. The towns and villages at the South were shackly, mostly with unpaved and unlighted streets. The rural mansions were spacious and comfortable, seldom grand or elegant. An agricultural people are seldom rich, and the profuse hospitality of the Southern planter kept him generally straitened in his means. The Old South labored under a more serious disadvantage; there were few literary and scientific men among them. History shows that the great men of the world have been born chiefly in the country, and that they gained distinction, not there, but in cities and towns. The fire may be hid in flint for countless ages and the spark only be given out when the flint is struck by the steel. So the intellectual giants, reared in the free, fresh air of the country, have only given out their grand thoughts under the influence of other minds in populous places.
Thus, the men of the Old South, being cut off from wealth, from mining, manufacturing, commerce, art, science and literature, found but two fields open in which they could distinguish themselves--war and politics--and into these they entered boldly and successfully, and became leading statesmen and renowned warriors. So the surroundings of the Old South determined the destiny of its sons, just as the surroundings of the North determined that of its sons. Exceptional cases occurred at the South where fame was won outside of politics. Thus Audubon, of Louisiana, was the first, as he is the most distinguished, of American ornithologists. Washington Allston, of South Carolina, ranks among the foremost of American painters. M.F. Maury, of Virginia, has done more for navigation than any one of this century, and he received more medals, diplomas and honors as a man of science from European nations than any other American. John Gill, of Newberne, North Carolina, is the true inventor of the revolver, that has revolutionized the tactics of the world. Dr. Clemens, of Salisbury, North Carolina, is the true inventor of the telegraph, which has made almost instantaneous the intercourse between the most distant nations of the earth. McCormick, of Virginia, was the first to put the reaper into the field, which has done so much to develop the vast grain fields of the West. Stevens, of South Carolina, was the first to use iron as a protection against artillery, and thus the whole system of naval warfare has been changed. Dr. Reed, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is the inventor of rifled cannon, which have made useless fortifications of stone and brick. Richard Jordan Gatling, of Hertford county, North Carolina, is the inventor of the terrible gun that bears his name. The Georgians claim that their countryman, Rev. F. R. Goulding, is the inventor of the sewing-machine. General Gabriel J. Rains, by the construction of a peculiar friction primer, made the use of torpedoes successful in the Southern waters during the civil war, and demonstrated that weak maritime nations could be protected against the most powerful. The Le Contes, of Georgia, are to-day among our foremost men of science. Dr. J. Marion Sims, of South Carolina, had more reputation abroad than any other American physician. In literature, we have had such men as Marshall, Kennedy, Gayarre, Wirt, Gilmore, Simms, Hawks, Legare, Hayne, Ryan, Timrod, the Elliotts, of South Carolina, Tichnor, Lanier, Thornwell, Archibald Alexander and his sons, Addison and James W., Bledsoe, Mrs. Welby, Mrs. Terhune, &c. Brooke, of Virginia, solved the problem of deep sea sounding, which had so long baffled men of science. But the other day, General John Newton, of Virginia, was at the head of the Engineering Department of the United States. Stephen V. Benet, of Florida, is now head of the United States Ordnance Department, and Dr. Robert Murray, of Maryland, is Surgeon-General.
Most of the Southern inventions were lost to those whose genius devised them, because the Old South had no foundries or machine shops in which they could be made, and no great centres of trade by which they could be put upon the market. With rare magnanimity, Southern congressmen had voted for protective tariffs fishing bounties, and coast-trade regulations, which did so much to build up the big cities and great commerce of the North and to fill its coffers to overflowing. Even Mr. Calhoun had voted to protect "infant industries," believing that the infants would in the course of time learn to crawl and walk, and do without pap. But that time has not yet come. Thomas Prentice Kettell, a Northern man, estimates that in these three ways the Old South contributed from, 1789 to 1861, $2,770,000,000 of her wealth to Northern profits. Our statesmen knew, surely, that their own section would never get one dollar in return from this enormous expenditure. But they were patriotic enough to be willing to make the nation rich and prosperous, even at the expense, for a season, of their own beloved South. My countrymen ! that Old South was a generous Old South. The world scoffs at such generosity, and says "it don't pay." The Old South believed with the wise man, that "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and loving favor rather than gold and silver." But the world does not think with Solomon and the Old South, and chooses great riches rather than the good name, and gives its loving favor to the holders of the gold and silver. But while the Old South had some success in literature, art and science, the character of its people ought to be judged mainly by what they accomplished in the two departments to which their efforts were mostly restricted--politics and war. Did the Old South give to the country wise statesmen and brave warriors ? This will be the subject of the present investigation.
Mr. Bancroft says: "American Independence, like the great rivers of the country, had many sources, but the head spring which colored all the stream was the Navigation Act." The whole of New England was in a blaze of fury because of it. The effect of it upon their commerce and shipping interest was most disastrous, and they believed that ruin impended over them. The Old South was equally excited, though it had no carrying trade and was in no wise affected by the Act. But an agricultural people, living much by themselves, develop large individuality, and are always liberty-loving. Hence, though in many respects the gainers by intercourse with England, the sons of the Old South stoutly resisted all encroachments upon their freedom by the Mother Country--a term of endearment they still loved to use. The Old South denounced the Navigation Act, which did not hurt its interests at all, just as severely as it did the Stamp and Revenue Acts. All were blows at the inalienable rights of freemen, and all were alike opposed. Christopher Gadsden, of South Carolina, in a speech delivered in Charleston in 1766, advocated the independence of the Colonies, and he was the first American to proclaim that thought. The first American Congress met in Philadelphia on the 7th of October, 1774. Peyton Randolph, of Virginia, was elected President of that body. On the 20th of May, 1775, the Scotch-Irish of Mecklenburg county, North Carolina, absolved all allegiance with the Crown of Great Britain, and set up a government of its own. On the 12th of April, 1776, the Provincial Congress of North Carolina took the lead of all the States in passing resolutions of independence. On the 7th of June of that year, Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, moved: "These united Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States." It was upon this motion in the Continental Congress that the separation from Great Britain took place. It was a Virginian who wrote the Declaration of Independence. It was a Virginian who led the rebel armies to victory and to freedom. It was a Southerner--Charles Pinckney, of South Carolina--whose draft of the Constitution was mainly adopted.
Thus, independence was declared upon the motion of one Southerner; its principles were set forth in the Declaration written by another Southerner. A third led the armies of the rebel colonies to victory, while a fourth framed the Constitution, which, though denounced at one time by the South-haters as "a covenant with death and a league with hell," has lived for a hundred years, and is likely to live for many hundreds more.
You of this newly discovered region need not be ashamed of your ancestors and blush that they lived in the Old Bourbon South. That Bourbon regime lasted for eighty years, the grandest and noblest of American history. Eleven of its seventeen Presidents were of Southern birth. Fifty-seven years of the eighty were spent under the administration of Southern-born Presidents. Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Jackson, each served eight years, in all forty years--just one-half the life of the Nation. Of the six Northern Presidents John Quincy Adams was elected by the House of Representatives and not by the people, and contrary to the wishes of the people. Nor was Mr. Fillmore elected to the Presidency, but on the death of General Taylor succeeded to the office and served out the unexpired term. So during the existence of the Old South, John Adams, Van Buren, Pierce and Buchanan were the only Northern Presidents ejected by the people. A remarkable thing is, that all the Southern Presidents were re-elected by the people, except Mr. Polk, and he did not seek a renomination. This fact speaks volumes for the capacity of Southern men for the administration of affairs. Another curious fact is, that every Northern President had associated with him as Vice-President a man from the Old South. Thus, the first Adams had Jefferson, the second Adams had Calhoun, Van Buren had R. M. Johnson, Pierce had W. R. King, and Buchanan had Breckenridge. On the other hand, Jackson served one term as President with a Southern man, Calhoun, as Vice-President, Harrison and his associate were both born in Virginia; Lincoln and Johnson were both born in the South.
This period of eighty years has been called by the North: "The Era of the Domination of the Slave-power." Without raising an objection to the discourteous phraseology, I would simply say that it is an admission that the South had marvelous success in its desire for political supremacy--one of the two objects of its ambition. Before passing to our second question: "Did the Old South produce brave and successful warriors?" I will allude to a few characteristic incidents of the Old South, which do not bear materially upon either of the two questions under consideration.
"In the year 1765, on the passage of the Stamp Act, Colonel John Ashe, Speaker of the House of Commons of North Carolina, informed Governor Tryon that the law would be resisted to every extent. On the arrival of the British sloop of war Diligence in the Cape Fear river, he and Colonel Waddell, at the head of a body of the citizens of New Hanover and Brunswick, marched down together, frightened the captain of the sloop so that he did not attempt to land the stamped paper. Then they seized the boat of the sloop, and carried it with flags flying to Wilmington, and the whole town was illuminated that night. On the next day they marched to the Governor's house and demanded that Governor Tryon should desist from all attempts to execute the Stamp Act, and forced him to deliver up Houston, the Stampmaster for North Carolina. Having seized upon him, they carried him to the market-house, and there made him take an oath never to attempt to execute the duties of his office as Stampmaster.
"It was nearly ten years after that the Boston tea-party assembled, when a number of citizens, disguised as Indians, went on board a ship and threw overboard the tea imported in her. This was done in the night by men in disguise, and was directed against a defenceless ship. But the North Carolina movement, ten years earlier in point of time, occurred in open day, and was made against the Governor himself, ensconced in his palace, and by men who scorned disguise." -- Senator T. L. Clingham.
Every school-boy knows of the Boston tea-party of 1773; how many of my intelligent audience know of the Wilmington party of 1765? Yea, verily, the Old South has sorely needed historians of its own.
Virginia gave seven Presidents and many illustrious statesmen and warriors to the nation. She gave Patrick Henry, the war-trumpet of the revolution, Washington, its sword, and Jefferson, its mouthpiece. When independence and white-winged peace came to the colonies, she gave to the Union that vast northwest territory, out of which have been carved the great States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Oh, but generosity does not pay. Possibly the "mother of States and statesmen" thought so when the soldiers of these five great States swarmed over her soil, and grand old Virginia became District No. 1.
I'll now take up the second question: "Did the Old South furnish brave soldiers?" The commander-in-chief in the rebellion against Great Britain was the Southern-born Washington, of whom Byron lamented that the earth had no more seed to produce another like unto him, and of whom Wellington said: "He was the grandest, the sublimest, and yet withal the plainest and simplest character in the world's history." That the Old South did its duty in this war, I will try to show, notwithstanding imperfect records and deceptive pension rolls. The Old South went nobly to the assistance of their Northern brethren, who were first attacked, and nearly all the battlefields of the North were drenched with Southern blood. In the retreat from Long Island, Smallwood's Maryland regiment distinguished itself above all the continental troops, losing two hundred and fifty-nine in killed and wounded. The Virginians made up a large portion of the army of Washington at Trenton and Princeton, where the wails of despair of the American people were changed into shouts of victory. Two future presidents of the United States of Southern birth were in those battles, one of whom was wounded. The only general officer there slain was in command of Virginia troops. Southern blood flowed freely at Brandywine and Germantown, and, in the latter battle, a North Carolina general was slain, whose troops suffered greatly. It was General George Rogers Clarke, of Virginia, who, with a Virginia brigade, chastised the Indians that committed the massacre in the valley of Wyoming. He made a Stonewall Jackson march to the rear, penetrated to the Upper Mississippi, captured the governor of Detroit, and took large booty in his raid. At Monmouth and Saratoga Southern blood was commingled with the Northern in the battles of freedom. In the battle of Saratoga, Morgan's Virginia Riflemen greatly distinguished themselves and slew General Fraser, the inspiring spirit of the British army. The guerilla troops, under Sumter, Marion, Moultrie, Pickens, Clarke, etc., drove the British step by step back to Charleston, where they were cooped up till the end came. It is my deliberate opinion that no battles of the Revolution will compare in brilliancy with the defence of Moultrie, the defeat of Ferguson at King's Mountain, and the defeat of Tarleton at Cowpens, all fought by Southern troops on Southern soil. In the last fight the victory was won when almost lost by the cavalry charge of William Washington, and the free use of the bayonet by that peerless soldier, your own John Eager Howard. The old tar-heel State, on the 16th of May, 1771, in the battle of the Alamance, poured out the first blood of the Revolution in resistance to British tyranny. The battle of Guilford Courthouse, fought on her soil solely by Southern troops, gave Cornwallis his first check in his career of victory, and led eventually to his capture. The first victory of the Revolution was won at Moore's Creek Bridge, in North Carolina, by Caswell and Lillington, in which one thousand Scotch loyalists were captured. Who knows of that battle? Oh! modest tar-heel State, in the slang of the newly-discovered country, "modesty does not pay." Nevertheless, true courage and true modesty walk hand-in-hand. One word as to the misleading rolls of the Revolution. I was born in the Scotch-Irish settlement of Carolina, which furnished troops to Sumter, Pickens, Davie, Davidson, Shelby, etc., etc. These men were never regularly enrolled; they gathered together for battle, and went back to their plows when the fight was over. There were no Tories in that region; it was thoroughly Whig. But I never heard of more than one pensioner in all that country. These men scorned the bounty of the government for simply doing their duty. No official records ever bore the names of those gallant partisans, whose daring deeds are known only to the Omniscient. There were no horn-blowers and quill-drivers among them.
If we come to the war of 1812, all will concede that Jackson, of North Carolina, and Harrison, of Virginia, gained the most laurels, as shown by the elevation of both of them to the presidency. All, too, readily concede that the brilliant land-fights of that war were in defence of New Orleans, Mobile, Craney Island and Baltimore, all fought by Southern troops on Southern soil.
Although that war was waged in the interests of the maritime rights of the North, it soon became unpopular in New England, because it seriously damaged trade and commerce. The Hartford Convention shows how deep was the defection in that region. The doctrine of secession was taught there half a century before the South took it up.(*) Hence, in this war, the old South furnished more than her proportion of troops. Southern troops flocked North, and, in the battles in Canada, a large number of general officers were from the old South: Harrison, Scott, Wilkinson, Izzard, Winder, Hampton, Gaines, Towson, Brooke, Drayton, etc. Kentucky sent more men for the invasion of Canada than did any other State.
All honor to the United States sailors of the North, who had no sympathy with the Hartford Convention, and nobly did their duty--Perry, Bainbridge, Stewart, Lawrence, Porter, Preble, &c. The
(*) In Barnes' History of the United States, the author tells us (page 167) of the ravaging of the Southern coast in the war of 1812 by the noted Admiral Cockburn. He says: "Along the Virginia and Carolina coast he (Cockburn) burned bridges, farm-houses, and villages; robbed the inhabitants of their crops, stock, and slaves; plundered churches of their communion services, and murdered the sick in their beds." And then the author explains why the Southern coast was devastated and the New England coast was not disturbed. This explanation is in a footnote, which reads as follows: "New England was spared because of a belief that the Northern States were unfriendly to the war and would yet return to their allegiance to Great Britain."
This is the statement of a Northern writer, and not the fabrication of an enemy. How did the belief start among the British people that New England wished to return to its allegiance to the "Mother country ?"
"Don't Give up the Ship" of dying Lawrence is a precious legacy to the whole American people.
But the unmaritime South claims, among the naval heroes of that period, Decatur, of Maryland; MacDonough, of Delaware; Jacob Jones, of same State; the two Shubricks, of South Carolina; Jesse D. Elliott, of Maryland; Blakely, of North Carolina, etc. A very large proportion of the naval heroes of the war of 1812 came from Maryland.
In the Mexican war, the commanders-in-chief on both lines were born in Virginia, one of whom became President for his exploits, and the other an unsuccessful candidate for the Presidency. This war was unpopular in the North, and hence the South furnished the troops to carry it on, out of all proportion to her population. The Old South, out of a population of 9,521,437, gave 48,649 volunteers for the Mexican war, and gave also the rifle regiment, recruited within her borders, making in all 50,000 soldiers. The North, out of a population of 13,676,439, gave but 24,698 volunteers. All New England gave 1,057 volunteers. (I use the American Almanac for these figures, and the census report of 1850).
It will be admitted, without question, that Butler's South Carolina regiment and Davis' Mississippi regiment gained more reputation than the other volunteer regiments. I think it will be equally admitted that Quitman's Southern division of volunteers had the confidence of General Scott, next to his two divisions of regulars. Scott's chief engineers on that wonderful march from Vera Cruz to the City of Mexico were Swift, of North Carolina, and R. E. Lee, of Virginia. His chief of ordnance was Huger, of South Carolina.
The most brilliant exploit of that war was the attack of Tatnall, of Georgia, in a little gunboat, upon the castle of San Juan' D'Ulloa and the land batteries at Vera Cruz. If there was anything more daring in that war, so full of great deeds, my eyes were not so fortunate as to behold it.
The bold, bluff tar of that day had a gentle, loving heart, full of kindly sympathy with his own race and lineage, as shown by rowing through shot and shell to offer such assistance as international law permitted to the British Admiral suffering under the murderous fire of the Peiho forts in China. "Blood is thicker than water" was the grand sentiment of the grand sailor, as he hurried to the rescue of the sufferers of his own race and blood. These things don't pay; nevertheless, it would be a cold, miserable, selfish world without them.
Maryland had no reason to suppose that her sons had degenerated from the days of Otho Williams, John Eager Howard, and William Smallwood, when the Mexican war brought out such men as Ringgold, the first organizer of horse artillery; Ridgely, his dashing successor; and Charley May, the hero of the cavalry charge upon the Mexican battery.
Coming down to the Civil War, the President on the Union side was a Southern-born man, his successor was born in North Carolina, and the commanding General, who first organized his troops, was a Virginian. His great War Secretary, the Carnot of that day, was born in Edgecombe county, North Carolina, though he would never admit it.
The Union Generals who struck us the heaviest blows, next to those of Grant and Sherman, were from our own soil. From West Point there came forth forty-five graduates of Southern birth, who became Federal Generals. I have their names, from George H. Thomas and George Sykes to David Hunter and John Pope, with the States of their nativity, viz: George H. Thomas, Va.; George Sykes, Del.; E. O. C. Ord, Md.; R. C. Buchanan, Md.; E. R. S. Canby, Ky.; Jesse L. Reno, Va.; John Newton, Va.; R. W. Johnson, Ky.; J.J. Reynolds, Ky.; J. M. Brannan, D.C.; John Buford, Ky.; Thomas J. Wood, Ky.; John W. Davidson, Va.; John C. Tidball, Va.; Alvan C. Gillenn, Tenn.; William R. Terrill, Va.; A. T. A. Torbert, Del.; Samuel L. Carroll, D.C.; N. B. Buford, Ky.; Alfred Pleasanton, D.C.; O. M. Mitchell, Ky.; George W. Getty, D.C.; William Hayes, Va.; A. B. Dyer, Va.; John J. Abercrombie, Tenn.; Robert Anderson, Ky.; Robert Williams, Va.; Henry E. Maynadier, Va.; Kenner Garrard, Ky.; H. C. Bankhead, Md.; H. C. Gibson, Md.; John C. McFerran, Ky.; B. S. Alexander, Ky.; E. B. Alexander, Ky.; Washington Seawell, Va.; P.S. Cook, Va.; G. R. Paul, Mo.; W. H. Emory, Md.; R. H. K. Whitely, Md.; W. H. French, Md.; H. D. Wallen, Mo.; J. L. Donaldson, Md.; Fred T. Dent, Mo.; David Hunter, Va.; John Pope, Ky. Most of these were good officers, and some of them were superb. I could name six or eight of them who did the very best they could for their native land by going on the Federal side. In addition to these forty-five West Point Southerners in the Federal army, some of the high officers of that army were born in the South, but not educated at West Point; Joseph R. Hawley (now Senator from Connecticut), John C. Fremont, the three Crittendens, Frank Blair, &c.
If we come to the United States Navy, we find abundant proof of Southern prowess. Farragut, of Tennessee, was considered the hardest fighter and most successful commander, as shown by his elevation to the highest rank--that of Admiral--a rank specially created in order to honor him. Winslow, of North Carolina, was made a Rear-Admiral for sinking the Alabama. Goldsborough, of Maryland, was made a Rear-Admiral for the capture of Hatteras. Many other names of gallant Southerners will readily occur to you who are more familiar with the United States Navy than I am.
I will refer to but five points more in connection with the Civil War:
1st.--Disparity of Numbers. The population of the eleven States that seceded was, in 1860, 8,710,098, of whom 3,520,840 were slaves. That of the other States and Territories was 22,733,223, giving an excess over the whole seceded population of 14,023, 125, and over the white population of 17,543,965; the excess of population being nearly double the whole population of the States in revolt, and more than three times the white population of those States. These be tremendous odds, my countrymen, and the Old South need not be ashamed of her sons who contended for four years against them.
But as the job of "suppressing the unnatural rebellion" still dragged its slow length along, 54,137 sympathetic Union men in the Rebel States joined the Federal army, and 186,017 "brothers in black" were in some way induced to enter the same service. Secretary Stanton assured the world that "the colored troops fought nobly," and that without them "the life of the nation could not have been saved." There is another interesting aspect of the numerical statistics. The seceded States are supposed to have had, from first to last, 700,000 men in the field, and you must admit that this is a very large number out of a population of five millions.(*) The other belligerent had in the field, from first to last, 2,859,132, or more than
(*) Macaulay, in his essay on Frederick the Great, says: "The proportion which the soldiers in Prussia bore to the population seems hardly credible. Of the males in the vigor of life, a seventh part were probably under arms." Doubtless, Macaulay would have thought it not at all credible that the South put into the field, not one-seventh of the males in the vigor of life, but one-seventh of the entire white population, including men, women, and children. General Grant expressed tersely the draft made upon the male whites of the South, when he said: "The Confederacy robbed the cradle and the grave to recruit its armies."
It is plain that 700,000 soldiers is a high estimate for the Confederate forces from first to last.
four times the Confederate forces. Where did these immense hosts come from? The Southern States on the border--slave-holding States--furnished in all 301,062 and thus the entire South gave to the Union army 541,216 fighting men. From what quarter of the globe did the remaining two millions and three hundred thousands come?
Rosengarten, in his book, the" German Soldier," puts down the number of Germans in the Federal army at 187,858. I don't know certainly, but I suppose that the Irish soldiers were as numerous as the German in the Federal army, for the Irish seemed to lead every attack and cover every retreat--Sumner's Bridge, Marye's Heights, Sharpsburg, Chickamauga--always fighting with the indomitable pluck of their race. I once complimented for their gallantry some Irish troops in our service, and I modestly claimed that I had Irish blood in my own veins. But as I had broken up some barrels of whiskey a short time before, they would not own me, and I heard that they said: "Af the owld hapocrit had one dhrop of Irish blood in his veins, he would never have smashed whaskey as he did." Then there were in the Federal army Russians, Austrians, Hungarians, Slavs, Magyars, and Teutons alike--Scandinavians, Englishmen, Scotchmen, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, Canadians, and the inhabitants of the far-off isles of the sea. I think, then, that it is true that the seceded States and the border slave-holding States gave more native-born soldiers to the Union army than did the North give of her native-born sons to that army. Surely, then, General Sherman was mistaken in saying that the Civil War was a war of races, the South against the North. This is hardly fair to Farragut and Thomas and their gallant associates of the army and navy, and the half million of brave men who fought with them.
2d. Disparity of Resources.--Oh! my dear brethren of the loyal North, do not taunt us with our poverty, when your own writer, Thomas Prentice Kettell, tells the world that the South gave $2,770-000,000 of her wealth to swell Northern profits. If that money were given back to us, we could get up a "big boom" sure enough, and become a veritable New South. As it was, we were very poor in military resources in 1861. We were without mines, without factories, foundries, machine shops, roller mills--without mechanical appliances of every kind. We rushed into war, not only without ships of war and trade, but without a single mill to make powder in the whole Confederacy, and without even a single machine to make percussion caps. We had been dependent upon the North for everything, even for the paper upon which the Ordinances of Secession were written, and for the ink and pens used in the writing. There never was a people on earth so destitute of all means of making war material and of supplying comforts and conveniences for those in camps and for those at home. From first to last, we had to depend largely upon the spoils taken from the enemy with Stonewall Jackson as Quartermaster and Commissary General. From first to last, ours was the worst fed, worst clothed and worst equipped army in the world, deficient in medical stores, in ordnance stores, in wagons, tents, shoes--even in artillery and rifles. Theirs was the best organized, the best equipped and the most pampered army in the world, with abundant commissariat, medical supplies, transportation, ordnance stores, etc., etc.
A young rebel lieutenant, who had been accustomed at home to a dram before each meal, and at frequent intervals between these three periods, was asked when the war would be over. "I am no military man," groaned he. "I know nothing of military affairs; but one thing I do know, and that is that the Confederacy has started the biggest temperance movement the world ever saw."
You all know how readily the Irish of the two armies affiliated when they came together as captors and prisoners. At Second Manassas I was amused at a conversation between some Federal Irishmen and their countrymen in my division, who were in charge of them. One of the Irish prisoners complained to one of my Irishmen that he had not had anything to eat in twenty-four hours. My man replied: "And are you after complaining of such a thrifle as that ? Why, Pat, me boy, in the Southern Confideracy we have one male (meal) a week and three fights a day."
3d. I wished to say a few words in regard to the Confederate Navy, and I regret that I am so ignorant on this subject. I had the honor to know a few, and a few only, of our naval heroes, but these were all grand men. Among them were Semmes, the Chevalier Bayard of the ocean; J. J. Waddell (of an illustrious North Carolina lineage), almost the peer of Semmes as a successful cruiser; M. F. Maury, the greatest benefactor to the merchant and naval marine the world has ever known; the brave W. F. Lynch, the Christian scholar and explorer; the gallant Pegram, Hunter, Alexander and a few others. I was proud before the civil war of the fame of Tatnall, Ingraham and Hollins, and was glad that they cast in their lot with their own people. I always regretted that I never saw your own Franklin Buchanan, the hardest fighter on our side, as Farragut, of Tennessee, was on their side. These two Southerners rose to the highest rank in their respective navies. But what I know so little, I do not wish in my ignorance to make distinctions. I have introduced the subject merely to express a long-felt opinion, viz: that it required a higher and nobler patriotism for our sailors to leave the navy than for our soldiers to leave the army, for the following very obvious reasons: 1st. The flag to the sailor not only told him in foreign lands of his own country, but it spoke of his far-off home, with all its endearments. It was hard for him to give up the old flag with all these sacred associations. 2d. Our army officers gave up generally subordinate positions to command regiments, brigades, divisions, and armies. The naval officers gave up fine positions on great ships of war to serve in little tubs of vessels, of which they must have been ashamed. 3d. The true sailor is a sailor and not a land-lubber. He never gets off his sea-legs on shore. Our patriotic naval officers knew certainly that the failure of our cause would drive them from sea, and compel them to seek business on land, in which they would feel as awkward as Commodore Trunnion on the fox-hunt. All honor to the noble men who put country above self and self-interest. The Old South had thousands of unselfish men, but I put these in the forefront of them all.
4th. Indebtedness of the Nation to the Old South.--The statesmen of the Old South were all broad-gauge men, with nothing narrow and contracted about them. They had fully the instincts of the Japhetic race for land-grabbing, and they were eager to fulfil the prophecy in regard to the enlargement of Japhet's borders. We find, accordingly, that every inch of territory that has been added to the area belonging to the original thirteen States has been added under Southern Presidents, and all has been acquired, save bleak Alaska, during the "Era of the Domination of the Slave-power." When Jefferson came to the executive chair the whole Union comprised but 830,789 square miles. By his wise policy and diplomacy, he won, without one drop of bloodshed, for the paltry sum of $15,-000,000, that vast territory out of which have been carved nine great States and six large Territories, embracing in all 1,282,005 square miles, or 415, 216 square miles more than the United States possessed before his administration. That is, he doubled the area of the United States, and had this respectable slice left over. Mr. Blaine, in his recent speech at St. Louis, said in reference to this grand achievement: "In the annals of American greatness, Jefferson deserves to be ranked as the second Washington.
Monroe found a troublesome neighbor in Florida, and by the payment of $5,000,000, with a few hangings by Andrew Jackson thrown in, he made loyal citizens of the United States out of the Spaniards and mongrel breeds in that territory, and enlarged the area of the Union by 58,680 square miles. Next came the annexation of Texas, under Tyler, and the Mexican war, under Polk, which added to the Union two huge States and four huge Territories and 855,410 square miles. These were notoriously Southern measures, advocated by Southern statesmen, and carried out by Southern Presidents, spite of the opposition of the South-hating philanthropists. This policy enlarged our territory 2,196,095 square miles, nearly trebled its area, extended the power of the government from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and gained the richest mineral, farming and grazing grounds on the globe. With prophetic vision, Southern statesmen had seen that our country must extend to the Pacific, and from its ports carry on a trade with the populous nations of the East. Think of it, but for the Old South, a Spanish province would bound the United States on the south, and the Mississippi river, under the control of France, would bound it on the west. Compare, ye English-speaking Americans, the United States which Jefferson found with the United States which Polk left, and then you will form some conception of the indebtedness of the nation to the Old South.
Next came the purchase of Alaska, and the gain of 577,000 square miles of territory. By a singular providence, this acquisition was advocated by the South-hating philanthropists, and consummated by a Southern President. Southern men favored it, not that they expected to gain anything thereby, but the land-grabbing instinct was strong in them, and they knew that the wives of their neighbors in the loyal North would need furs and sealskin sacques. Thus we see that, under Southern Presidents, the area of the United States has increased from 830,789 square miles to 3,603,884 square miles; that is, it is now four times as big as it was. There is not a man of intelligence in the Union who does not know that this vast increase has been due to Mr. Jefferson and the Old South.
Oh! men of the loyal North, in view of what the Old South has done in quadrupling the national domain, with all of the inestimable advantages thereof, let us cry quits and stop talking about Jeff. Davis and the sour-apple tree, and talk rather of Jefferson, Monroe, Tyler, Polk and Johnson. Probably, too, a few words might be whispered in commendation of the Old South for its Japhetic proclivities, for its gift of Washington, and a long line of statesmen and warriors, and for its donation out of its poverty up to this date of more than three billions of dollars to swell the wealth of the North.
5th. Results of the War. I would place first of these the general diffusion of love for the Constitution of the United States. Time was when the South-hating philanthropists denounced it as "a covenant with death and a league with hell," gotten up by the slave-power in the interests of slavery. But in 1861, the philanthropists experienced a change of heart, and ever since have talked of the Constitution as that "sacred instrument," that "bulwark of freedom," that "palladium of liberty," etc., etc. I am glad of their conversion, suspiciously sudden though it was, and I hope that they will never fall from grace. As a stalwart Presbyterian, I believe in the perseverance of the saints.
2d.--Change of views in regard to the intellectual, moral and social status of the Negro. The philanthropists used to tell of the cruelty and brutality of slaveholders to their slaves, and said that they had reduced the negroes to the lowest state of ignorance, barbarism and bestiality. But in the reconstruction period, the philanthropists underwent a radical change of views and discovered that these negroes, whom they had described as more savage and degraded than the barbarians on the Congo, were not merely enlightened and civilized enough to be freemen and voters, but also to be United States Senators and Congressmen, Foreign Ministers, Consuls and Marshals, Governors of States, Judges, Members of State Cabinets, &c. I am glad that the philanthropists found out that the Old South had trained its slaves so carefully for these high and responsible duties. No other masters in the world's history ever gave such training to their slaves. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution of the United States are the grandest possible eulogies to the Old South.
But there was one great error in this training. The simple-hearted, confiding Southern masters, always careless of their own money, did not teach their slaves to be cautious about their investments, and tens of thousands of these credulous creatures put their money in a bank in Washington, established by the philanthropists, and lost it all.
3d.--Development of Great Men. I love to hear the praises of the wonderful deeds of McClellan, Grant, Meade, and Hancock, for if they were such great warriors for crushing with their massive columns the thin lines of ragged Rebels, what must be said of Lee, the two Johnstons, Beauregard, and Jackson, who held millions at bay for four years with their fragments of shadowy armies ?
Pile up huge pedestals and surmount them with bronze horses and riders in bronze. All the Union monuments are eloquent of the prowess of the ragged Rebels and their leaders. Suppose the tables had been turned, and that either of the five Southerners named above had been superior to his antagonists in all the appliances and inventions of war, and had been given, moreover, an excess of two millions of men over them, how many statues, think ye, my countrymen, would there be of bronze warriors and prancing chargers ?
The Congressmen from the Old South have voted liberally for all legitimate pension bills to Union veterans, for they know what a tough job it was for the 2,859,132 Union soldiers, with their magnificent outfit, to overcome the 700,000 Rebels, poorly fed, poorly clothed, and poorly equipped. These pension bills are splendid tributes to the pluck, patience, perseverance, and fortitude of the chivalry of the Old South.
I love to hear the philanthropists praise Mr. Lincoln and call him the second Washington, for I remember that he was born in Kentucky, and was from first to last, as the Atlantic Monthly truly said, "a Southern man in all his characteristics." I love to hear them say that George H. Thomas was the stoutest fighter in the Union army, for I remember that he was born in Virginia. When the old lady of the Old South hears the eulogies upon these men, she pushes back her spectacles that she may have a better view of the eulogists, and says: "These were my children." Then the old lady adds: "I have another son born in Kentucky, and he is not a stepson, nor did I raise him to die on a sour apple tree."
Source: Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. XVI. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1888.
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