Extra Credit: Slavery By Another Name

The documentary Slavery By Another Name delves into the oppressive and horrid conditions that African Americans endured for over 80 years after the fall of slavery at the Civil Wars end.[1] The topic focused on the exploitative system setup in the South that allowed white men with power on both local and state levels to confine and imprison innocent blacks. After unjustly arresting these Americans, the prisoners could be rented out to companies and individual land owners for dollars a month. The conditions shown in the film are a testament to the pain and suffering inflected on innocent African Americans well after the so called fall of slavery that died with the Old South.

The years following the American Civil War were hard indeed. After the nations bloodiest conflict a period of Reconstruction ensued that was aimed at healing this divided country. Yet blacks who had won their freedom through their own feet, a Union gun, or by patience in the coming Northern victory were in many ways still chained to Southern society. I always knew because of research and reading that African Americans of this time, stretching from 1865 to the Second World War, had a hard up hill battle for not just equality but for basic human rights. But this documentary opened up just how bad conditions really could be for a black person during that time, especially in the “New South”.

Jim Crow laws and share cropping seem to be for ever connected with the South and the place in society that whites tried to put blacks. Yet because debtor prisons were abolished the process of arresting people for unpaid court fines and the like then renting the convict out to a third party, seems to have been for the most part swept under the rug. This modern injustice of white washing history is barely the tip of the ice burg.  The true crime is with the acts themselves.

From the film an African American could be arrested on a made up charge of owing money or not keeping up with a crop quota and so on. Once the person was charged a court fee was given and if the person in question could not pay, a second party could pay the bill and in effectively have the right to rent the arrested person. This form of neo-slavery allowed companies to rent the convicts as well and place them into inhumane conditions where death or serious were likely. After seeing the pictures and hearing the words of those that suffered in these conditions it became clear that this practice was completely based on a system that aimed to subjugate free people.

A link the documentary made between that time in American history and the modern era, was  the number of African Americans arrested then and the stigma of today, where black citizens  are more likely to go to prison. the large number of arrests from those 80 years  manifests today as a social bias toward African Americans and jail time. So effectively a system that spawned from the death of slavery is still at the forefront of American society, just out of sight but close enough to be remembered.

[1]. Slavery By Another Name, DVD, Directed by Sam Pollard, ( 2012; PBS)

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Confederate Cavalry in the Civil War

During the American Civil War new and old battlefield tactics were utilized at engagements across the nation from Virginia to Arkansas. Napoleonic tactics that dated back to the early 19th century were adopted by both Union and Confederate armies, involving masses of ranked companies that clashed with deadly results. A standard function of the cavalry was to support the infantry with flanking maneuvers around the enemy or with full frontal assaults. These up front cavalry engagements with infantry lines would soon prove detrimental to the horsed units very early in the war. The Southern cavalry proved to be the more adaptive of the two sides. Having to adjust to superior Union numbers and the deprivation of supplies, Confederate cavalry evolved with war time necessity.

Because the Civil War was primarily fought in the Southern United States, Confederate cavalry was essential to armies that needed to defend a vast swath of territory. Were as the Union cavalry unites were spaced out across the nation on into the western territories, rebel cavalrymen were already in the region at stack. This allowed for quick unit formations early in the war even if southern cavalry had to bring their own horses.[1]  Confederate cavalry was equipped well as could be, with carbines being the prized weapons of riders. Pistols and shotguns were also utilized with great effect in skirmishes and raids.[2] With improvements in weapons designs, like the rifling of barrels, cavalry could be picked off by infantry easier than in earlier decades   and at greater distances.[3] A   man on a horse silhouetted against the sky or back drop was a clear target, resulting in high officer deaths on either side.

As unconventional gruella warfare became a staple of southern strategy in deterring Union forces headed south, the further one went West the more gruella warfare was used. Because of the distance from Richmond cavalry units in the Trans-Mississippi region helped make up for the lack of support from the Confederate capital. Raiding convoys moving to supply Union forces, cavalry killed two birds with one stone; by preventing supplies reaching northern hands the southern raiders replenished their own stores.[4] On September 19, 1864 in the Indian Territories an Indian Brigade under the command of Brig. Gen. Stand Watie hooked up with Col. Richard Gano’s cavalry from Texas that then proceeded to attack and take 250 wagons of supplies bound for the Union Fort Gibson. This take alone was worth one and a half million dollars.[5] Beyond raiding, scouting, honor guards, and picket duty were all tools in the cavalry’s toolbox.

Scouting was an essential operation that allowed for an army to locate an enemy force or to remain hidden from its prying eyes. Being fast and maneuverable a man and a horse could run circles around a foot soldier given the terrain was not to rough. When an area needed to be defended or taken before an opposing company could, cavalry could form picket lines very rapidly. A quick example of this would actually be from the Northern cavalry that held up General Robert E. Lee’s forces at the Battle of Gettysburg’s start.[6]

As the war drove on and bodies were stacked high, Southern cavalry found itself facing over whelming Northern numbers. After the fall of Vicksburg on the 4th of July, 1863 rebel horsemen in the Trans-Mississippi region of Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and the Indian Territories found themselves alone  cut off from the rest of the Confederacy.[7]  As the war went on in the Eastern theater, the southern leaders in the West turned to more gruella warfare to support the southern cause.

[1] Katcher, Philip. 1986. American Civil War Armies (I): Confederate Artillery, Cavalry and Infantry. London: Osprey Publishing Ltd. P.35

[2] Katcher, p. 37-40

[3] Miller, David.2001. The Illustrated Directory of Uniforms, Weapons, and Equipment of the Civil War.  London: Published by Salamander Books

[4] Bailey, Anne; Sutherland, Daniel. Civil War Arkansas: Beyond the Battles and Leaders. University of Arkansas Press Fayetteville, 2000

[5] Steele, Phillip; Cottrell., Steve. 2000: Civil War in the Ozarks. Published by Pelican Publishing Company, Grena, Loisiana

[6] Foote, Shelby. 1986. The Civil War a Narrative vol.s. I-III. New York, published by A Division of Random House

[7] http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/vicksburg.html

J.E.B. Stuart

James Ewell Brown Stuart

James Ewell Brown Stuart

Although the most renowned general for the Confederates was obviously Robert E. Lee, but there were many others that contributed to the war just as much, if not more. Generals such as Jeb Stuart were quality generals as well, they just may not have had the near celebrity status and public support that Lee had.

Stuart’s real name was James Ewell Brown Stuart and was born a militarily prestigious family with his great grandfather serving as a Major in the Revolutionary War and his father fighting in the War of 1812 [1]. Born in Laurel Hill, Virginia, he was destined to attend the infamous West Point military academy and continue on to a stellar military career.

Jeb Stuart really came to fame during the Bleeding Kansas period as a 1st Leutinent for the 1st Cavalry and he also carried out Robert E. Lee’s orders to crush John Brown’s rebellion [2]. He then resigned his command in the Union Army in May of 1861 to join the Confederacy with his friend from West Point friend, Robert E. Lee [3]. Upon his entry to the Confederate Army, he was placed under Stonewall Jackson where he was promptly promoted to Colonel of the Cavalry for the Shenandoah Army [4].

His fame in the Civil War really began to take off with his famous ride around the Union Army between June 12 and June 15 [5]. This was a scouting excursion to find out the location, size, and strength of the Union Army in the area. It was also a severe blow to the pride and reputation of General Cooke of the Union Cavalry. Due to his valor and military tactics, he was promoted to Major General over all cavalry in the Army of North Virginia on July 25. His tactics proved useful to the Confederate cause throughout the war

Robert E. Lee is without a doubt the “Hero of the South” from the Civil War, but I feel like due credit is owed to commanders like Jeb Stuart. Without Stuart, many of Lee’s campaigns would have been vastly less successful and he might not be the hero he is today. Lets all give a hand for Jeb.

  1. http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/jeb-stuart.html
  2. http://www.civilwarhome.com/stuartbi.htm
  3. http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/jeb-stuart.html
  4. http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/americancivilwar/p/jeb-stuart.htm
  5. http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/americancivilwar/p/jeb-stuart.htm

The Gettysburg of the West: A Missed Opportunity

Glorieta Pass[1]

The Gettysburg of the West: A Missed Opportunity

By: Jacob McCloud

Beginning on March 26, 1862, one of the most overlooked battles of the Civil War took place. Early on in the war, the Confederate states were trying to expand their territory in order to gain more supplies and support. The reason they needed these things had to do with the fact that the Union held a superior number in both of these categories, and the Confederate states had been cut off with a naval blockade. These events led to a Southern invasion of New Mexico and eventually the defeat of the Southern soldiers at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, which proved to be costly for the Confederate states.

After Jefferson Davis approved the campaign, Henry Sibley, a Confederate leader, raised a brigade of three mounted regiments, the 4th, 5th and 7th Texas Mounted Volunteers, along with supporting artillery and supply units.[2]  After leaving San Antonio, the Rebels moved into southern New Mexico, capturing the towns of Mesilla, Dona Ana, and Tucson, and continued their advancement north.[3] After defeating the Union forces at Fort Craig on February 21, Sibley left some of his army to occupy Albuquerque and Santa Fe while the rest of his troops headed east of Santa Fe along the Pecos River towards Fort Union. [4] The Union and Confederate forces eventually met at Pigeon’s Ranch near Glorieta Pass where Colonel John Slough and his 1,300 men clashed with Sibley’s men.[5] The Confederate forces pushed the Union forces further down the pass, but nightfall forced the Confederates to halt their advancement.[6] The turning point of this battle occurred when “Major John Chivington led an attack on the Confederate supply train, burning 90 wagons and killing 800 animals.”[7] Chivington’s raid eliminated the supplies necessary to continue the Confederate’s attack on the North, so they were forced to retreat.[8] Although there were not many casualties, the victory at Glorieta Pass marked the end of Confederate involvement in the westernmost front of the Civil War.[9]

The Gettysburg of the West was not a major turning point during the Civil War, but the impact it had on the South proved to be costly.  The reason the Battle of Glorieta Pass proved to be so costly had to do with what the Confederates missed out on when they were defeated. Not only were men killed, but also, they lost their opportunity to take over new lands for the Confederacy, which is what they desperately needed. If the Confederates would have succeeded in their overall plan, they would have taken New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and eventually parts of California. These lands would have given them more room for agriculture to provide food for the people of the Confederacy that were limited by the blockade. Also, the lands would have provided the South with more supplies and territory to fuel the war effort. Some examples include the rich mines of the Colorado territory, filled with silver and gold, which would have boosted the South’s economy, and the sea ports in Los Angeles and San Francisco, which would have stretched the Union’s blockade and possibly established a Confederate naval system and trade.[10] Also, if they would have acquired all of these lands, they would have been able to increase the manpower of their army. Although there would have been conflicts between slave and non-slave states, it is reasonable to assume that many would have joined the war effort. Lastly, the South would have gained control of the transcontinental railroad, which would have hindered the North’s travel to the west while giving the Confederates a way to deliver supplies and travel through their newly acquired territory.[11]

In the end, the South was forced out, but it is always interesting to see what could have happened in the most western theater of the Civil War. For further discussion, what if the South would have won? If they would have won this battle and eventually pushed the Union soldiers out of the area, the Confederate states would have gained access to an immense amount of land and supplies. Would that have changed the war? It is hard to decide if this would have changed the war, but it is fairly obvious that the Confederates would have put up a better fight and would have possibly made the war last longer. Why is this battle so overlooked? Obviously, the eastern and main western front grabs most of the attention because of the importance of the areas being fought over, and the massive amount of supplies, soldiers, and fatalities involved. Overall, the Battle of Glorieta Pass hurt the Confederate’s chances of gaining territory and supplies that would have benefited their war effort.

[1] Picture from http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/91glorieta/91glorieta.htm.

[2] “The Battle of Glorieta Pass: Union Victory in the Far West,” Civil War Trust, accessed November 12, 2014, http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/glorietapass/glorieta-pass-history-articles/glorietaalberts.html.

[3] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History, accessed November 12, 2014, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/battle-of-glorieta-pass.

[4] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History.

[5] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History.

[6] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History.

[7] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History.

[8] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History.

[9] “Rebels Turn Back Yankees at Glorieta Pass,” This Day in History.

[10] “The Battle of Glorieta Pass,” Civil War Trust.

[11] “The Battle of Glorieta Pass,” Civil War Trust.

The Faithful Companions of Civil War Soldiers

When Union and Confederate soldiers went off to war, they left their homes, belongings, and loved ones behind in order to defend their beliefs and homelands. In some cases though, they were able to bring some friends along. There are many historical instances where animals joined troops as mascots in order to inspire the troops or to stand as reminders of their homeland. [1]

Dogs were commonly used as mascots during the Civil War. Truly “Man’s Best Friend”, dogs lifted the general mood of the soldiers who were far from home. One famous example is Sallie, the mascot of the 11th PA Volunteer Infantry Regiment, trained in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The men all grew to love her and it was said that “there were only three things she had a distaste for, Rebels, Democrats, and women.” [2] She followed the men into battles and would stay with the bodies of men who had fallen in battle. Sallie herself was shot and killed during the battle of Hatcher’s Run. She held such a special place in her infantry’s heart, that on the monument memorializing the men who died in from that infantry there is a small bronze statue of a dog – Sallie. This gives an insight into value of companionship in the war, and also shows human nature – even after a war where we fought and killed other humans, kindness and innocence was memorialized in this monument of a beloved animal.

[3]

[3]

Having dogs had its advantages, but they were not the most useful animal during the Civil War. Horses were an advantage on the battlefield, giving soldiers speed and height. They also had a bond with their owners. Robert E. Lee and his horse, Traveller, were a team on the battlefield. His troops often remarked at how close Lee was to his horse. Traveller’s colors were shades of grey, making him “a true Confederate.” He blended in with the grey in Lee’s uniform and connected them. [4] This relationship between horse and rider not only gave soldiers’ battlefield companionship, but also an emotional connection with their creatures when riding onto the battlefield.

Apparently, not all animals were welcome during the Civil War. In a more amusing account, President Lincoln wrote a letter to the King of Siam, politely rejecting his offer to send a supply of elephants to help with war efforts. He wrote:

     I appreciate most highly Your Majesty’s tender of good offices in forwarding to this Government a stock from which a supply of elephants might be raised on our own soil. This Government would not hesitate to avail itself of so generous an offer if the object were one which could be made practically useful in the present condition of the United States. . . Our political jurisdiction, however, does not reach a latitude so low as to favor the multiplication of the elephant, and steam on land, as well as on water, has been our best and most efficient agent of transportation in internal commerce. [5]

The letter is amusing and fun to historians now, but also gives an interesting “what if” scenario to think about.

Seeing something as simple as having pets around during war time really puts things into perspective when it comes to the needs and wants of Civil War soldiers. The fact that a dog or a horse could be a major factor in uplifting a large group of men is a reminder that yes, these were soldiers fighting in a war, but they were also humans, missing their homes and their loved ones. The value that the men put on these pets gives insight into human nature and could also reflect toward feelings and emotions that link animals like dogs and horses to broader ideas like patriotism and America.

Works Cited

[1] “Animal Mascots of the Civil War” Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site. http://alexandriava.gov/historic/fortward/default.aspx?id=40198

[2] “Sallie, Mascot of the 11th PA Volunteer Infantry Regiment.” http://www.nycivilwar.us/sallie.html

[3] Ibid

[4] “Robert E. Lee and his Horse Traveller”

http://www.historynet.com/robert-e-lees-horse-traveller.htm

[5] “Lincoln Rejects the King of Siam’s Offer of Elephants.” Civil War Trust. http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/primarysources/lincoln-rejects-the-king-of.html

The Overlooked Legacy of “Stonewall” Jackson

stonewall                                                                                               [1]

The Overlooked Legacy of “Stonewall” Jackson

By: Jacob McCloud

Lieutenant General “Stonewall” Jackson has been recorded as one of the most outstanding generals of the Civil War. He had the ability to lead his men without fear in a way that was different than most, if not all, Confederate leaders. Similar to General Robert E. Lee, Jackson was loved by his men and had the ability to motivate them to fight, but he has definitely not received the same amount of attention that Lee has. Because of these things, two major questions come up. Why was “Stonewall” Jackson so effective as a leader and has his impact been overlooked because of General Lee? Although some disagree, it is hard to argue against the fact that “Stonewall” Jackson played a major role during the Civil War.

Thomas Jonathon “Stonewall” Jackson was born January 21, 1824 in Clarksburg, Virginia.[2] After a difficult childhood, Jackson went to West Point and eventually fought in the Mexican War.[3] In 1861, Jackson’s home state of Virginia seceded from the Union, which led Jackson to join the Confederate army.[4] He quickly made his name at the Battle of the First Manassas when his soldiers witnessed him out on the front lines with the rest of the men. They said, “Look, men, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall.”[5] Because of Jackson’s leadership and courage on the battlefield, he was given the nickname “Stonewall” Jackson.  Jackson’s military career continued at Front Royal, Winchester, Cross Keys, Port Republic, Seven Days Battle, Second Manassas, and Sharpsburg where he earned the ranking of lieutenant general.[6] After his promotion, Jackson fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg, a major victory for the Confederates, and at Chancellorsville.[7] After the battle, Jackson was accidentally shot in the arm by some of his own men while he was making a reconnaissance.[8] After having his arm amputated, Jackson suffered from pneumonia and eventually died eight days after being shot on May 10, 1863.[9] The loss of Jackson was a devastating blow to the Confederate forces.

When it comes to Jackson’s success as a leader during the Civil War, there were multiple reasons that made him so special. Unlike most commanders who would sit back behind the lines and watch the battles take place, Jackson was right there with his men either sitting on his horse or standing and fighting. This was different from most other officers. Jackson’s men found motivation in his leadership during battles. They cared for their leader and were more willing to fight because of his actions. Also, Jackson’s brilliant battle tactics made him an even bigger threat to the Union forces. Because of this, Jackson’s men were, for the most part, successful throughout the war. All of these things led to Jackson being one of Lee’s most reliable officers until his death in 1863. Although most agree with the information mentioned above, what was the reason that made Jackson so unique during the Civil War? After researching, it is clear that his religion played a major role in his lifestyle, which carried on to the battlefield. Jackson’s strong relationship with God made him courageous and fearless. The text states, “‘Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me.’”[10] This belief was clearly portrayed on the battlefield. A mixture of his faith in God, his unique leadership approach, and his brilliant battle tactics led to him being such a successful Confederate leader.

“Stonewall” Jackson’s impact was very prominent during the Civil War, but today, many overlook it. Anytime people refer to the Confederacy, they are more than likely going to talk about General Robert E. Lee. Obviously, he was the Confederate general that was well-know and well-liked by most, but how much credit does he take away from other leaders like Jackson? He was one of Lee’s best men and played a big role in many Confederate victories. After reading the information above, it is hard to argue against the fact that he deserves more credit than what he has been given. Jackson’s impact on the war was unmatched by most, yet it has been consistently overshadowed by Lee. Jackson’s different approach to leadership, superb military tactics, and participation in many Confederate victories are the reasons why this argument is true.

After reading all of the information necessary for this post, some questions come to mind. First, do you agree that Jackson’s impact has been overlooked by many because of General Lee? Secondly, how big of an impact do you believe Jackson had on the Civil War? Clearly, he was influential as a leader, but did his loss seriously hurt the South’s chances of winning the war? Thirdly, why were more leaders not willing to take on the same approach that Jackson took? If Jackson was so successful, you would think that other Confederate leaders would adopt his strategy. In the end, “Stonewall” Jackson was a unique leader and had a huge impact on the Civil War.

[1] Picture from http://www.vahistorical.org/collections-and-resources/virginia-history-explorer/thomas-jonathan-jackson.

[2] “T. J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson,” Civil War Trust, accessed on October 11, 2014, http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/thomas-jackson.html.

[3] “Stonewall Jackson,” History Website, accessed October 11, 2014, http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/stonewall-jackson.

[4] “Stonewall Jackson,” History Website.

[5] “Stonewall Jackson,” History Website.

[6] “T. J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson,” Civil War Trust.

[7] “T. J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson,” Civil War Trust.

[8] “T. J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson,” Civil War Trust.

[9] “Stonewall Jackson,” History Website.

[10] “Stonewall  Jackson Quotes,” American Civil War Story, accessed October 11, 2014, http://www.americancivilwarstory.com/stonewall-jackson-quotes.html.

The Battle of Fredericksburg

The Battle of Fredericksburg

[1]

The battle of Fredericksburg was easily one of the best victories for the South in the Civil War. The Confederate army had only 4,576 casualties compare to the Union’s 13,353 casualties [1]. Even though the Union Army outnumber the confederates at Fredericksburg, they lost nearly three times as many troops. With nearly 200,000 combatants from the combined sides, this was the greatest concentration of troops in one battle for the entire war [2]. This massive defeat can be mostly accredited to the failed strategy of Ambrose Burnside, the newly appointed commander of the Army of the Potomac at the time. He replaced the indecisive George McClellan, and knew that he must act with swiftness to avoid the same fate as his predecessor. He planned to take Fredericksburg to get a foothold for the campaign to Richmond.

He planned to out maneuver Lee by crossing the Rappahannock river and flanking Fredericksburg by surprise. If he did this, he could push Lee’s army out of the town and into the open against a much larger army. As reported to him by officers that scouted the river, there were no bridges left to cross, so he would need to fashion a bridge. He decided that using a pontoon bridge would be his best course of action, so he put in an order for them, in hopes that they would arrive soon and he could maintain his element of surprise. The pontoons needed to build the bridge did not arrive on time, which gave Lee plenty of time to strategize a defense and fortify his position [3].

By the time that Burnside’s army arrived on the south shore of the Rappahannock, it was too late. Lee had already entrenched and gained the upper ground and the upper hand. Lee entrenched on a hill behind the town near a broken wall and sunken road, so he had all the advantages of the battlefield. Burnside refused to call retreat and admit the superior tactical advantages that Lee’s army had.

This battle is often overlooked, even though it is one of the South’s most commanding victories. This battle was the first major battle that the South won since the catastrophe of Antietam [5]. It not only fended off the North from gaining ground towards Richmond, but also provided a bit of a moral victory for soldiers. Antietam caused many Confederate soldiers to lose faith in the cause or in their ability to win the war. Fredericksburg provided a reason for the soldiers of the South to be motivated to fight again.

1. Civil War Trust. http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/fredericksburg/maps/fredericksburg-blackburn.jpg (accessed October 15, 2014).

2. Civil War Trust. http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/fredericksburg.html?tab=facts (accessed October 14, 2014).

3. History Channel. http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/battle-of-fredericksburg (accessed October 14, 2014).

4. Brotherwar.com. http://www.brotherswar.com/Fredericksburg-14.htm (accessed October 15, 2014).

5. PBS: Timeline of Civil War Battles.  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/timeline/death/ (accessed October 14, 2014).