Forgotten Battles, Missing Landmarks

by Cliff Page

On an abnormally warm early Spring day, I took a 150-mile motorcycle ride from Portsmouth to Stony Creek, Va. That’s where my Great Great Grandpa was captured by federal forces in 1864. He rode with the South Carolina 6th Insurgent Calvary (Aka: the Dixie Raiders), which fought in nearly every major engagement in Virginia from 1862 until the surrender.

Before visiting Stony Creek I had no idea of the importance of the place. I presumed that it was just an outlier to the defense of Petersburg. But from talking to some old timers who live there today, I learned that Stony Creek was a critical logistical hub for the Army of Northern Virginia and a focal point of the lengthy siege of Petersburg, the loss of which precipitated General Lee’s calamitous retreat towards Appomattox and the end of the Civil War.

Stony Creek lies to the west of Interstate 95 between Emporia and Petersburg. During the siege of Petersburg between June 1864 and March 1865 nearly all the supplies to the Confederate defenders — including those from Wilmington, N.C., the only Confederate port not blockaded on the East Coast at the time — came up the Petersburg and Weldon (now CSX Railway) into the Stony Creek depot. Goods were offloaded from the trains and put onto wagons and hauled on plank roads through the back woods and swamps to Petersburg, 25 miles to the north.

During the siege of Petersburg, a largely static affair, a series of engagements were fought over Stony Creek. In June, the Confederates turned back a Yankee cavalry foray, but not until the raiders had torn up 60 miles of railroad track. General Grant ordered another raid in December, which the defenders likewise repulsed. But the attack disrupted the vital supply line, doubling the distance supply wagons had to travel and exacerbating the Army of Northern Virginia’s shortages of ammunition, food, and medical supplies.

By March it was clear that Lee could no longer hold on. After a series of reversals, he evacuated Petersburg. In full retreat, the Army of Northern Virginia would fight only a couple more engagements before being forced to capitulate at Appomattox Court House on April 3rd.

I don’t know exactly where my Great Great Grandpa Randolph Page was captured at Stoney Creek, or where he was imprisoned. Many Confederate Calvary POWs were incarcerated on the Eastern Shore. But one thing is recorded – he was given ten dollars in gold, at discharge and walked on foot back to Landrum, S.C. Upon arriving at his log cabin and farm, he stripped off his lice-infested uniform, burned it, shaved off his hair and scrubbed his body down with lye soap in the creek. Thereafter he returned to the plow and put the war behind him.

Today Stony Creek is a little rural community in sad shape, and hanging by a thread. Cars and trucks whiz by on I-95 and and pay no mind. The BBQ pit and little antique shop, once easily accessible on old I-301, are off the beaten track. The billboard next to the BBQ displays the rust of over 50 years, as worn sign paper and gauze wisp gently in the breeze like curtains to the past.

The town’s history is being forgotten as those who remember get older. But the rail that brought in supplies and ammunition is still there, as are the winding roads where muleskinners ported supplies from the depot to Petersburg. A cannon abandoned in the swamp rests on the main street. The one-room Sappony Baptist church — where Confederate infantrymen fought off a company of Yankees before friendly cavalry ran them off — still stands. The church bears the scars from where a Yankee cannon ball punched through the front wall and a bullet hit the church Bible. Today, the wall’s hole is patched with tin and the church is sided with vinyl.

A wealth of knowledge about the Civil War resides in small communities like Stony Creek, but it is dying. I talked to the locals and encouraged them to print a flyer with a brief history of Stony Creek and a map showing the battlefields and the plank road routes that channeled supplies to Lee’s defenses. Virginians in communities across the state should do likewise, and put up materials on a common statewide History and Tourism website. Tourists could download and print these maps and history as guides or view them on their smart phones.

This would be a great project for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, indeed a project in which all Southern states could participate. Creating a platform for small communities to tell their story of Virginia’s defense and the Confederate cause would lift local spirits and stimulate tourism. History could be brought to life for a new generation, as folks discover the little places, now forgotten, that played significant roles in history.

Stony Creek is a great day trip on a motorcycle or an open convertible on a warm sunny day. I encourage Virginians to visit the place and learn about the history of which we all are apart.

Cliff Page, a sculptor, lives and maintains his studio in Portsmouth. 

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25 responses to “Forgotten Battles, Missing Landmarks

  1. Cliff,

    You dreadful racist, you. Don’t you know that you’ll be flogged for posting such history.

  2. What is true for Stoney Creek is equally true for dozens of other Virginia towns and crossroads, with an almost equal number of places with forgotten Revolutionary War history. Perhaps some of it needs to be forgotten.

    My great great grandfather, Newton Shufflebarger, 30th VA Sharpshooters (Echols Brigade), was captured at Third Winchester in 1864 and finished the war in a huge POW camp at Point Lookout, Md., another of the places fading into obscurity. Perhaps your ancestor was there, too.

  3. Never see or hear much about the black folks in that time period do we? No Battlefield Parks, no monuments, no roadside markers…

    town after town – we see the Confederacy “remembered” but nary a whisper about the black folks and their trials and tribulations… to become free.

    • There are efforts afoot to create mechanisms for everyone in the Richmond area — including “black folks” — to tell the stories of their ancestors and their history in the Richmond area. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to write about them soon.

  4. Dear Larry,

    I think that efforts to put Black historic markers and protect historic sites is fine. On the Fairfax – Falls Church border, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority preserved a 1 to 2 acre area of “Tinner’s Hill,” the home of the Tinner family which White supremacists in the 1900s tried to force from their home because they wanted to force all Blacks into a single part of the town. The Tinners and their supporters withstood them. That is real history. The anti-lynching movement was also a good thing and should be memorialized, and Virginia, thankfully, had relatively few lynchings as compared to some other Southern states. What I object to is the abolition of Confederate and other mainly White monuments. That is the problem with today’s Left: It is not their promotion of non-White memories but their denigrating of anything and anyone who was a slaveholder or fought for the South in the War Between the States. The logic of today’s Leftism is either outright genocide of Whites, physical and / or cultural, or failing that, a partitioning of the United States along racial lines. Unless the Left changes its ways then the future will be grim for all. Whites were basically double-crossed with the advent of Martin Luther King: “We forgive you, let us move on from the past,” we were told, when in fact, the movement secretly harbored a desire for revenge against Whites, just as the segregationists in the Citzens’ Councils claimed. Make no mistake, the imposition of a pervasive Jim Crow laws was deeply mistaken, but the fall of the “mature” system of the same resulted in not the ending of all de jure political-racial hierarchy, but an inverted one. Is that really “progress”? It certainly is not “color-blind.” “We wuz snookered!”



  5. Cliff –

    Thank you for your fine article highlighting some Civil War history centered around Stony Creek Va., a place so many of us whiz by on I-95 without the slightest clue as to its rich history and that of so many other places there in the neighborhood. Thank you for preserving it here, and encouraging all of us to do the same for our neighborhoods. It seems almost as if a book could be written about every old crossroads in Virginia, and we are letting so much of that rich history of our ancestors drain away and/or be actively destroyed by others as we stand passively by.

    Why? Now, with the internet, these times should logically be the golden age of our history, a great opportunity for all of us to recover and enrich our past before it is too late. Instead, unfortunately, some others work to bury the past of other people who too often go along with their efforts, instead of standing up proudly for their ancestors, and the ancestors of all of us. This needs to stop. If we allow others to bury our history and our culture, we are complicit in the crime, the destruction of our own future and the future of our children. This, for one of so many examples, is why Russia and its society today is wounded likely beyond repair. The Russians have quite literally cut their rich past out from under their own feet, leaving them standing on nothing at all. It’s a living hell they are left living in. We’ll be in the same empty meaningless place if we keep on destroying our own history at the rate we are, starting with our schools.

    As you are surely aware, your Great Great Grandpa Randolph Page, with a name such as his, quite likely had a remarkable history built by generations of his people gone before. I have long been fascinated by the Virginia Randolphs and Pages. For example, how Thomas Nelson Page rejected his friend Woodrow Wilson’s stabbing of Italy in the back after World War 1. How he resigned his ambassadorship for reasons of principle and morality. That is a great untold tale that has much relevance to today.

  6. I am still trying very hard to understand the persistence of reverence for the ‘southern culture’ of the past that this Northern Liberal sees as a denial of facts about the Civil War and slavery as it existed. I think we can maintain a truthful history of our ancestors even when they choose to be on the wrong side of history. My own great, great Grandfather was a foreman stonemason building the capital dome at the time, and joined a militia to protect Washington. However, he and his forebears were Orangemen in Northern Ireland whose bigoted denigration of Irish Catholics also continued for a millennium. Not a proud fact.

    As I wrote at the time of the Charlottesville riot, one thing I did not know was that there was a deliberate, and I must say successful, attempt by Jubel Early and the Southern Historical Society to write a history of the War that excluded slavery as a cause. This time around I have found more interesting takes on the Civil War. Here is one you Southern culture devotees should check out.

    After Lincoln was elected and presuming he would move against slavery, “delegates at South Carolina’s secession convention adopted a ‘Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.’ It noted ‘an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery’ and protested that Northern states had failed to ‘fulfill their constitutional obligations’ by interfering with the return of fugitive slaves to bondage. Slavery, not states’ rights, birthed the Civil War.”’

    “Other seceding states echoed South Carolina. ‘Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world,’ proclaimed Mississippi in its own secession declaration, passed Jan. 9, 1861. ‘Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of the commerce of the earth . . . A blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.’”

    The author goes on to make the case that “secession was an utter disaster for the South.“ … a political overreaction to Lincoln’s election. “There was no immediate proposal to abolish slavery, the Democrats still had enough political muscle to obstruct such attempts, and there was still a large faction of the North that opposed taking any drastic action on slavery.”

    It is also the author’s contention that slavery would only have survived until cotton became an untenable cash crop, around 1910. “Without the intransigence of the South in 1860, there may still have been enough voices for compromise to ensure a more orderly system of emancipation.” There is historical evidence that while Lincoln abhorred slavery, he also would have preferred a more orderly road to freedom for all.

    So let’s find truth in history as best we can. The South actually voiced complaints about the North claiming states rights. The Civil War was not a valiant defense of states rjghts, but in this view it was about a loss of political power to the North in spite of the fact that Southern plantation owners were likely the richest men in the world.

  7. Dear CL&W,

    I will go you one better. In 1849, John C. Calhoun declared:

    “If…[emancipation] should be effected, it will be through the agency of the federal government, controlled by the dominant power of the Northern states of the Confederacy, against the resistance and struggle of the Southern. It can then only be effected by the prostration of the white race; and that would necessarily engender the bitterest feelings of hostility between them and the North. But the reverse would be the case between the blacks of the South and the people of the North. Owing their emancipation to them, they would regard them as friends, guardians, and patrons…The people of the North, would not fail to reciprocate and to favour them, instead of the whites. Under the influence of such feelings, and impelled by fanaticism and love of power, they would not stop at emancipation. Another step would be taken– to raise them to a political and social equality with their former owners, by giving them the right of voting and holding public offices under the federal government.” (Calle, The Works of John C. Calhoun, vol. IV, p. 310) Ironically, this same North, except for Massachusetts, also segregated Blacks, when they did not bar them from settling outright, as was the case in Indiana. Lincoln was willing, he said, to protect slavery in perpetuity, but he would not let the South avoid paying the tariff. Calhoun’s and the other cotton states’ words about their departure is fact, but so are the other political-economic statements about the banks, manufacturers, etc. The South was far safer under British rule, then it when it partnered with the North in their “Great Experiment.” You have to remember that White Southerners were chilled by the outpouring of public mourning from many, but by no means all, Northerners to the execution for treason of John Brown, whose hope was to foment a bloody racial civil war that would have treated most cruelly, women and children. In short, while the secession crisis was spurred by fears of the overthrow of slavery, the war that followed was begun to force Southerners to remain in the Union, and especially maintain the new protective system and its tariffs. Similarly Kenneth Stampp, in his book on Reconstruction cites Northern Republicans after the war who frankly acknowledged that their support of enfranchising the freedmen was due to the fact that they would be able to keep that system going, to offset the votes of Southern Whites, many of whom were themselves disfranchised. Slavery, unfortunately, was a legacy of the colonial period, and Southerners allowed themselves to be addicted by its “cheap labor.” Sounds familiar.



  8. A post-script: It is essential to keep in mind that in several of the gulf states, such as Mississippi, and in South Carolina on the Atlantic, Whites were a minority of the entire state population, and in some places, like the Mississippi delta and in South Carolina, the Low Country, they were a small minority. Enfranchising the Freedmen meant giving political supremacy to them over the Whites. Massachusetts, for all of its moral posturing, was something like 99% White. They could afford to be equalitarians from afar, there would be no harm done to them as there would be in the South.

  9. Not quite sure what your point is … that politics played a very big role in facts of the Civil War….. When I read it all what I see is the “fire eaters,” those few Southerners who used a lot of fear and hyperbole to get the secession movement going. Facts didn’t really win out.

    The particular historian I was quoting emphasizes the fact that what those “fire eaters” had to say was absolutely not true, that the South was basically a highly successful cotton economy, enormously profitable because of slavery. Finally that slavery was loosing on moral grounds all around the world. Brazil was the last nation in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery, doing so in 1888. Even without a war, abolition would come to the US when the southern cotton economy faded and the reality of that “cheap labor” wasn’t so valuable anymore.

    Finally, you speak of maintaining “the new protective system and its tariffs” as why the North wanted the Union to continue. Not sure what that means. Maybe us Yanks just believe in our history, much of it crafted by Southerners, and think of enslaving other human beings as something that should be done away with based on it’s own merits. The issue of the vote and population numbers is another matter, and another aspect of the War that I will look up next.

  10. I do appreciate the reasonable discussion and thank folks.

    I also DO distinguish between “history” in books and museums and memorialization of history in public places.

    And to the extent that in town after town all through the south there are memorials to the Confederacy and almost none to blacks and slaves , lynchings, and their enslaved plight and denial of freedom and justice.

    We memorialize the efforts to – depending on who you talk to – “defend” the Southern Culture, States Rights and the “right” to own other people.

    We were not alone in the world in this practice – even Native Americans had slaves – but in terms of “remembering” that history – in our public squares … the Civil War and Confederacy seem much more prominent.

    It’s almost like if we had Statues and Memorials of Jews or Irish or other racial or religious characteristics – after a bloody war – only one viewpoint – in a modern and diverse society with generational descendants of both sides -everyone but – only memorials to one group.

    And still vestiges of racism and the hate and division associated with it.

    Not just here or in the South – you can go to many other places on this earth where that has happened and continues …to this day…

    It’s an ugly aspect to the human condition – and we cannot seem to reconcile ourselves from it …

    but.. the very first step if we are ever to actually address it – is to recognize it.

    • Dear Larry,

      You conflate and confuse different things.

      First, the War was largely, but not entirely, a White vs. White affair, in terms of the combatants. If there was hatred, than it largely fell along an inter-sectional, intra-racial affair. (Try this on for size: ; definitely not a Christian sentiment here) There was also a fair amount of hatred by a number of Northern soldiers who blamed the war on the Blacks, who were merely its pawns, with numerous murders committed by the invading army when they came upon plantations, and then there were the infamous New York City draft riots in which Blacks were lynched as the cause of White misfortune.

      Second, Southern slaveowners knew and depended on Blacks and during the war most Blacks did no harm to their families while they were away at the war. Think about that.

      Third, lynchings were a product, mainly, of the 1880s through the end of the 1920s in terms of relatively large numbers. There was tension after the war, but that was because Carpetbaggers (Northerners), Scalawags (Southerners who supported the occupation), and armed Blacks threatened Southern Whites. The antebellum South, while it was known for duels, another un-Christian practice, neither segregated nor lynched Blacks. In fact, after the Nat Turner mayhem, Whites brought the Blacks into the White churches for worship, remembering that Turner was a preacher. There was a fear of a repetition of that if Blacks remained alone. After the War, the overwhelming number of Blacks exited the “White churches” and set up their own. By the way, why DID Martin Luther King complain that Sunday was the “most segregated hour of the week”? Hmmm?

      What the Left has done is to do exactly what they accuse White racists of doing, and which they, indeed, often do: De-humanizing people. There is no interest in understanding “the Other” as Liberals love to say they do, only to make straw men who can be villified and destroyed.

      Also, why is that Liberals only seem to care about the rapes of Black women when it happened in the past, and was committed by White men, rather than in the present, when the overwhelming number are done by Black men? Why is that the 5,000 lynching committed by White Southerners over an 80-period are continually brought up, but the larger, for each and every year of slaughter of Blacks by Blacks is not so big a deal, at least it has no “shame value” for White Liberals, who only likely shaming other Whites. For the record, I am against all such collective punishments.

      Ultimately, White Liberals and Black radicals find the biased and rancid recapitulation of the past to be helpful to their cause of increased power. Southern Whites, and even Northerners who sympathize with them, know that the past, and present, are far more complicated than the Left claims it to be. Liberals like this simplicity because the past is just a means of carrying on their unending offensive war against their perceived enemies in the present, because they seek power and the moral preening that goes with it above all else. Southerners accused them of being Pharisees, and so many of them are; not righteous, but self-righteous and with hardened hearts. Such are not of God.



  11. Dear CA&W,

    Actually, I agree with you about the fire-eaters. Secession was premature and the Upper South was right to hold out and try to work with Northern Democrats. Firing on Fort Sumter was a tremendous blunder, too, though Lincoln had ships on the way to resupply it. Slavery was an inherited institution that predated the United States and it should never have been allowed, but Southerners’ made the bad, “short-term” decision that since their crops and hot climate required a “permanent labor force,” as opposed to shorter-term indentured servants, to run their economy, allowed themselves to become heavily dependent on it. Immediate emancipation would have created turmoil, and Lincoln’s preferred solution was to send the slaves to Africa whence their ancestors came, just as the founders of the American Colonization Society sought to do, and the establishment of Liberia with its capital of Monrovia (i.e. James Monroe) was part of that. Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation was good only for slaves in areas where Confederates forces had control, not in Union controlled areas and non-seceded states. Lincoln was amenable to ending “the rebellion” by massive slave revolts and the “collateral damage” that would entail. My overall point is to differentiate between secession and its causes from that of the War Between the States; both could, and should, have been avoided. But in some important ways, the sectional dislike existed long before the War, and Northerners’ recent dislike of slavery, which mostly began after 1830 with the rivalry over the tariff dispute and the rise of the unhelpful Henry Lloyd Garrison brand of abolitionism, with its sweeping condemnatory rhetoric. Garrison was probably the greatest cause of the death of Southern-grown gradual emancipationism and “colonization.” Virginians even debated the question of emancipation in the early 1830s, but the radicalization of Northerners, including the American Baptists decision to ban slaveholders from becoming sponsored-missionaries resulted in the formation of the Southern Baptists. Northern abolitionism was an antagonistic movement designed to attack Southerners as people, i.e. “hate the sinner.” I use quotation marks because the Christian Church’s view of slavery was one of toleration, so long as the master treated his or her slaves decently, which, as we know, didn’t always happen. Also, one should remember the case of the massive racial bloodlettings in Haiti that took place not only in their initial revolution, but for years afterward. To Southerners, Northern abolitionists were inviting them to commit collective suicide. Would you listen to people like that? I wouldn’t, and that same spirit lives on in today’s Left.



  12. To sum up about monuments: Add, but do not subtract or “re-interpret” existing ones. Respect goodwill from others, even if you disagree with them. For those who truly are criminal or terroristic, we have laws against such folk. Use them where it fits, but don’t lump them in with the honorable and peaceful. To do otherwise is to polarize.



  13. A few things I have to challenge …
    Maybe some of the Abolitionists were inviting the Southerners to “commit collective suicide” but they were not the majority of Lincoln’s Republican Party. To claim that all those who wanted the United States join the rest of the world and abolish slavery actually created their movement to “attack Southerners as people” is going way too far.

    What you do not hear from the South is that the Republican Party was split into the Abolitionists and the moderates of which Lincoln was one. He “never sided with abolitionists who called for its immediate end. He sought solutions that would make slavery gradually fade from white society—limit its location, sponsor compensation.”

    This history says “That is, the Republican Party supported a free Kansas and refused to countenance the idea of admitting another slave state after 1860. Lincoln himself believed that the federal government only had the right to abolish slavery in its territories, not in the states, a position he articulated many times.

    It is also true that an abolitionist wing of the Republicans did support an immediate end to slavery. However, abolitionists were not dominant in the Party as of 1860 — it would take four years of Civil War to win many of the moderates over to the cause of the 13th Amendment.”

    You say …Lincoln was amenable to ending “the rebellion” by massive slave revolts and the “collateral damage” that would entail.
    Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech decries that idea and asks for proof. There was some controversy after Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. It stated that the Union forces would do nothing to stop slaves from escaping. In response to the revolt controversy, language was added to the final version … “And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence.”

    You also say “Lincoln’s preferred solution was to send the slaves to Africa whence their ancestors came”.
    Believing the president only had the authority and political support to free enslaved persons residing within the eleven rebel states … “In Nov 1961 he did promote a plan to encourage voluntary abolition in Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri, “the border slave states that remained with the union. The federal government would provide financial compensation to states that acted to end slavery, and would encourage the freed people to emigrate to Africa or Central America.” Not the program of a man willing to foment massive slave revolts.

    New evidence also shows Lincoln made several attempts to find country’s amenable to slave relocation after he delivered the Emancipation Proclamation in Jan, 1863. None of those efforts actually turned out as he had hoped. Again, evidence of Lincoln’s moderate approach.

    To sum up about monuments ..,,. “Do not subtract or reinterpret”…
    I don’t see the issue as one of agreeing or disagreeing with who should be honored. It is a question of historic facts … making sure that the facts presented are actual facts. As we have discussed, so much of what led to secession was hyperbole.

    What I see here is a process similar to the transition away from fossil fuel. Exxon’s scientists told them all about the science of climate change in the 80’s and the corporate response has been to deliberately create doubt about the scientific process and the conclusions reached by 97% of global scientists, our experts who say we would be smart to phase out the use of fossil fuels as fast as we can. The scientific truth, as it is known today by those who study it, is the best we have. Not heading their advice is taking risks we need not take in order to maintain a system in need of change. Corporations prioritizing immediate profits have hindered us from reaching a structured, concensus transition, one that is now almost too late to devise.

    Historians tell us that in late 1850 Lincoln believed slavery would wither away as our world view and the economy changed. His vision of a structured transition would have been a whole lot better than Civil War.

    • Dear CA&W,

      I was not defending the fire eaters, I wrote that secession was, “premature” at best and basically agree that the Abolitionist threat, while real, was exaggerated for political purposes or just plain self-delusion, and agree with a number of the reasons you give.

      My comments about Northerners were about the extreme Abolitionists, but John Brown, a terrorist, was lauded by “many” prominent and ordinary Northerners. (Modern, “scientific” polling did not exist to quantify the question of just how many Northern people supported him; estimating it was up to each person, some perhaps better informed than others.) I also gave examples of Northern Whites who despised Blacks enough to commit murder and rape.

      Your remarks about Lincoln’s moderate approach to Abolitionism are correct. I will look further into my assertion that Lincoln was willing or intended to foment a slave revolt, however.

      Nor am I defending the abstract desirability of slavery. It is clearly not a “preferential option”, and the Blacks should never have been loaded up like cargo and sailed the “Middle Passage” to these shores. The people involved in that enterprise, including many a Yankee merchant and seamen, and, yes, Southerner, and others, did terrible harm to them, and to their own souls. We cannot change that, however. Nor can people living today be blamed for it. However, if those living who insist on publicly raising it ad nauseum aren’t careful, they will re-open old wounds. Of course, for the radicals, that’s the whole point, creating dissension. Shall Christians go back to call Jews, “deicides”; I sure hope not. But that is what the Left in effect calls Whites today.

      You compare the historic facts of Secession, the War, and we can add, Reconstruction, to the “scientific facts” of today, over which there remains strong disagreement when it comes to Global Warming, including allegations of major fraud committed by researchers. So when the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were removed from Baltimore, what was the “fact” involved, beyond that they, indeed, were removed? In both cases of the sciences and history, we have political agenda guiding and funding the research. Historians and Scientists today hold political and philosophical commitments that color their research and conclusions. We can agree to disagree or we can have one side try to impose its view of things on others who do not share it. Ever hear of the 30-Years War in Germany, or the other “glorious little wars” that Protestant and Roman Catholic visited on one another? Intolerance does things like that.



  14. Perhaps my comparison was not clear … I wish my Orangemen ancestors had espoused a tolerant point of view, not the bigoted, fighting one they chose, but theirs was a different time. I can acknowledge their awful and intolerant stand, and disagree with it while I honor the fact that they were my ancestors with other virtues.

    Regarding my analogy … I am equating the level of untrue statements used in arguments that have won the day then and now. In the run-up to secession much was said that was not true, played on fears, and did not acknowledge facts. For instance, South Carolina’s secession document says … “the Republican Party was planning to wage a war against slavery upon taking office in March 1861. “ That statement is not a fact. There is nothing to support that claim.

    Slave insurrections … Certainly there were isolated slave revolts in the 20 years running up to the war, but in fact they were not strong efforts and they fizzled, yet, in spite of evidence that the Union generals were told to not support insurrections, some “Southern writers went so far as to declare that the purpose of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 was to incite slaves to revolt.” In fact It was official War Policy to consider negroes as “contraband of war.” Tent cities of escaping slaves sprung up around Union Army encampments, and “between 1861 and 1865 about 200,000 former slaves donned the union uniform and faced fire and death to defend their country.”

    So I am only saying that the arguments that powerful economic interests have used to block change, like the fossil fuel companies and the Confederate planters, have included know falsehoods. Those powerful economic interests distorted facts for their own benefit, then and now, and the ability to easily do so seems to be a flaw in our system of government. The Exxon/API’s 20+ year defense of fossil fuel was a deliberate attempt to cast doubt. The scientists, 97% of them, agree that green house gases emitted by burning fossil fuel are creating a climate we will not be able to live with unless we adopt new technologies soon. The industry’s own scientist’s consensus was buried by the industry for the last 30+ years and is onlynow challenged in Court. I see a parallel there.

    • Dear CA&W,

      As I have said, South Carolina and the Gulf states’ decisions were rejected, and even condemned, by the majority of Virginians and others in the Upper South. Just as you rightly draw a distinction between Northern extremists and moderates, so there were Southern extremists and moderates as well. Jefferson Davis was a Unionist as was Alexander Stephens, the Confederacy’s future Vice-President. But they accepted the “process”, i.e. the results, and bowed to the wishes of the majority of voters in their states. Also, too, remember, that Northerners also were treated to the “Slave Power” conspiracy theory. The book I recommended on a different thread, that of _Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery_ goes into all of these “nuances” that existed at the time.



  15. Thanks for the book references. I will check them out.

    However, I still feel that there was a lot more hyperbole coming out of the South, hyperbole that swayed those Southern voters you say wanted to secede. Voters need accurate information from somewhere … I find it hard to believe that they were getting it from Jefferson Davis who claimed that the Emancipation Proclamation ““encouraged [slaves] to a general assassination of their masters.”

    Finding accurate information seems to be getting harder and harder these days.

    • Dear CA&W,

      The North had its hotheads, too, and they got “full play” during Reconstruction. I am against hotheads, Northern and Southern. The Fleming book will introduce you to some of these, I think, as will Fogel’s _Without Consent or Contract_. Davis was no hothead. His “valedictory” speech to the U.S. Senate in January of 1861 is very somber, and not “wild” in any way. To properly judge the situation, it helps to see the crazies on both sides, as well as the moderates. But to sum, Lincoln did not fight the War to free the slaves. He fought it to preserve the Union, and the tariff. He would not compromise on the tariff, but was open to compromise, “even giving away the farm,” so to speak, on slavery (Corwin Amendment) in order to bring Southerners back in. The history books today are very selective, in my opinion. Nice chatting with you.





  16. Nice chatting with you too.

    Lots of info and thought and as I thought about your last comment on Lincoln …maybe you will find the same conclusion … Lincoln’s prime boundry as he tried to deal with the increasing levels of outrage on both sides of the slavery issue, was the fact that he believed the federal government only had the right to abolish slavery in its territories, not in the states, a position he articulated many times. Once the Amendment was passed, a process that took 4 years, that was a different ballgame.
    His legal belief required him to maybe look like he was ready to ‘give away the farm.’

    Happy hunting

  17. This has been a very useful discussion. Thank you for it.

    There are, of course, many lens through which to appraise events leading up to, during, and after the American Civil war. As to political events, one of the most explored and useful today are the political writings, speeches, and debates of Lincoln. The most useful and comprehensive of those that I have found are the commentaries of Professor Allen C. Guelzo, to wit:

    Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that defined America; and

    Fateful Lighting: A New History of Civil War and Reconstruction; and

    Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President; and

    Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America; and

    Gettysburg: the Last Invasion; and

    The Great Course’s lectures of Professor Guelzo devoted to the Speeches and debates of Lincoln (including those with Douglas.)

    I have also found the works of Professor Harry v. Jaffa on the Civil War particularly groundbreaking and useful. These include:

    Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the issues of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, 50th Anniversary Edition; and

    A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming Civil War.

    If you confront this material, you will have a good starter foundation on which to begin to understand the complexity and paradox of the America Civil War that resulted in some 1.5 million military casualties, including 620 military deaths. There is still much to be learned about the Civil War, its causes and its consequences.

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