For the Reconstructed, they’re taught to believe that the merciful and angelic Union Army, under the command of the deity-king Lincoln, saved the humble slave from the murderous Confederate barbarians. To the dustbin of history, bigots! What the HiveThink® doesn’t tell you is that those newly freed slaves died in droves from that awarded abstract called freedom. Moreover, the heavenly Union was not quite as benevolent as the modern abolitionists would like for you to wrongly believe. Caution, non-approved history ahead.
This post isn’t to engage in antebellum DR3’ing (the mealy-mouthed Republican strategy that is: “Democrats are the real racists”), but to provide balance to the kosher history that both Northerners and Dixians are subjected to – that is, the Union were glorious liberators and the South, well, they’re basically evil Nazi slave owners.
Edward Pollard is quickly becoming my favorite Lost Causer. I’ve written about him before. He covers this point fairly in-depth in his Southern History of the War. Below is a much more salient point that I could ever make on the subject of Lincoln’s “muh freedom.”
In connection with the subject of the relations of slavery to the war, it becomes interesting to inquire what real benefits to the negro were accomplished by the political measures of the Lincoln government. The famous “emancipation” proclamation extended “freedom” to the negro merely to subject him to a worse fate, and to transform him from the peaceful service of the plantation to that of the military camp. It was followed by various acts of Congress to enlist the negro in the military service. It was stated by Mr. Seward, in a diplomatic circular, dated August the 12th, 1863, that nearly seventy thousand negroes were at that time employed in the Yankee armies, of whom, twenty-thousand were actually bearing arms in the field; and at a later date (that of the meeting of the Yankee Congress in December), the whole number of these African allies of the North was said to exceed one hundred thousand. The employment, as soldiers, against the Confederacy, of this immense number of blacks, was a brutality and crime in sight of the world; it was the ignoring of civilization in warfare; it was a savage atrocity inflicted on the South; – but it, certainly, was no benefit to the negro. It could be no benefit to him that he should be exposed to the fury of the war, and translated from a peaceful and domestic sphere of labor to the hard-ships of the camp and the mortal perils of the battle-field.
The scheme of the colonization of the negro in the invaded districts of the South was alike destitute of benefit to him, and the destructive of the white “civilization” under whose auspices it was conducted. Wherever this new system of labor was introduced, the negro suffered, the plantation relapsed into weeds, the garden disappeared, and the desolation and ruin took up their abodes. It had converted the rice coasts of South Carolina into barrens. It had been instituted on a grand scale in Louisiana. The result was, to use the language of a Yankee writer, this beautiful State was fast becoming “an alligator pleasure ground.” Where formerly had flourished rich and teeming plantations, were to be seen here and there some show of cultivation, some acres of corn and cane; but these were “government” plantations; the able-bodied negroes had been forced into the Yankee military service, and a few aged and shiftless negroes, who poked lazily through the weed-growth, were the only signs of labor in the vast districts occupied by the enemy. In Louisiana, where the Yankees had indulged such hopes of “infusing new life” by free labor and the scientific farming of Massachusetts, the development of the country, its return in crops, in wealth, amounted to little more than nothing. The negro had merely exchanged his Southern master for a Massachusetts shoe-maker, who was anxious to become a Louisiana sugar-maker. His condition was not improved, his comforts were decreased; and the country itself, redeemed by the most tedious labors from the waters of the Mississippi, and brought to a point of fertility unexampled in American soils, was fast reverting to the original swamp. Louisiana had taken more than fifty years to raise the banks of the Mississippi, to drain and redeem the swamp lands, and to make herself a great producing State. But, said the New York World “it has required only a few months for the Administration at Washington to prepare the State for its return to its original worthlessness; to ‘restore’ it to barbarism; to re-people it, in spots, with half bred bastards; to drive out every vestige of civilization, and to make the paradise of the South a rank, rotten, miasmatic, alligator and moccasin swamp-ground again.”
The fact is indisputable, that in all the localities of the Confederacy where the enemy had obtained a foothold, the negroes had been reduced by mortality during the war to not more than one-half their previous number.
To this statement, the deliberate assertion of President Davis to the Confederate Congress, we may make an official addition of the most melancholy interest in the winter of 1863-64, the Governor of Louisiana, in his official message, published to the world the appalling fact, that more negroes had perished in Louisiana from the cruelty and brutality of the public enemy than the combined number of white men in both armies from the casualties of war. In illustration he stated, that when the Confederate forces surprised and captured Berwick’s Bay, last summer, they found about two thousand negroes there in a state of the most utter destitution — many of them so emaciated and sick that they died before the tender humanity of the Confederates could be applied to their rescue from death.
The fate of these poor wretches was to be attributed to sheer inhumanity. The Yankees had abundant supplies of food, medicines and clothing at hand, but they did not apply them to the comfort of the negro, who, once entitled to the farce of “freedom,” was of no more consequence to them than any other beast with a certain amount of useful labor in his anatomy.
The practice of the enemy in the parts of the Confederacy he had invaded, was to separate the families of the blacks without notice. Governor Moore officially testified to this practice in Louisiana. The men were driven off like so many cattle to a Yankee camp, and were enlisted in the Yankee army. The women and children were likewise driven off in droves, and put upon what are called “Government plantations”— that is, plantations from which the lawful owners had been forced to fly, and which the Yankees in Louisiana were cultivating.
The condition of the negroes at the various contraband camps in the Mississippi valley furnishes a terrible volume of human misery, which may some day be written in the frightful characters of truth. Congregated at these depots, without employment, deprived of the food to which they had been accustomed, and often without shelter or medical care, these helpless creatures perished, swept off by pestilence or the cruelties of the Yankees.
We may take from Northern sources some accounts of these contraband camps, to give the reader a passing picture of what the unhappy negroes had gained by what the Yankees called their “freedom.”
A letter to a Massachusetts paper said: — “There are, between Memphis and Natchez, not less than fifty thousand blacks, from among whom have been culled all the able-bodied men for the military service. Thirty-five thousand of these, viz., those in camps between Helena and Natchez, are furnished the shelter of old tents and subsistence of cheap rations by the Government, but are in all other things in extreme destitution. Their clothing, in perhaps the case of a fourth of this number, is but one single worn and scanty garment. Many children are wrapped night and day in tattered blankets as their sole apparel. But few of all these people have had any change of raiment since, in midsummer or earlier, they came from the abandoned plantations of their masters. Multitudes of them have no beds or bedding — the clayey earth the resting place of women and babes through these stormy winter months. They live of necessity in extreme filthiness, and are afflicted with all fatal diseases. Medical attendance and supplies are inadequate. They cannot, during the winter, be disposed to labor and self-support, and compensated labor cannot be procured for them in the camps. They cannot, in their present condition, survive the winter. It is my conviction that, unrelieved, the half of them will perish before the spring. Last winter, during the months of February, March and April, I buried, at Memphis alone, out of an average of about four thou-sand, twelve hundred of these people, or twelve a day.”
Wow. Almost like freedom isn’t the gravy train that it’s made out to be.