As I work through and organize some of the research I have been doing on Union veterans in Southern California I am reminded that technology can sometimes inexplicably and unexpectedly fail. A couple of summers ago my hard drive crashed and I lost a TON of work on former Union General William Rosecrans. As you all know, he migrated to California after the war and was up to all sorts of things, specifically: politics, land speculation, and veteran organization. I guess I will just move on and do the work again. It won’t be the first time I have had to go back to the archives. Fun fact: the “Genius” at the Apple store said that hard drives have a 100% failure rate. Meaning…your machine is going to die sooner or later. I guess he made a lot of sense – though I never thought it would happen to me.
I moped about my tragic loss for a while this morning but did however come across an old (Cosmic America) blog post that reflected a tiny shred of my Rosecrans research – it had to do with the former general and his relationships with a few ex-Rebels…including Robert E. Lee. Here’s a snippet:
[quote]I came across an interesting correspondence in that collection that I thought I would share here. It turns out, General Rosecrans was not in sympathy with the government’s policy towards the southern states in the immediate postwar years. The radical measures enacted for the reconstruction of the South seemed, to him, harsh and vindictive. In August, 1868, he wrote General Robert E. Lee requesting him to confer with leading citizens of the southern states and prepare a statement that would reflect the wishes and sentiments of his people with regard to the future of the South. General Lee’s reply is known as the White Sulphur Springs Letter.
Here is a segment of the letter dated August 26, 1868 – concerning former slaves:
It is true that the people of the South, in common with a large majority of the people of the North & West, are, for obvious reasons, inflexibly opposed to any system of laws which would place the political powers of the country in the hands of the negro race. But this opposition springs from no feeling of enmity, but from a deep seated conviction that at present, the negroes have nether the intelligence nor the other qualifications which are necessary to make them safe depositories of political power. They would inevitably become the victims of demagogues, who for selfish purposes, would mislead them to the serious injury of the public. The great want of the South is peace. The people earnestly desire tranquility & a restoration of the Union. They deprecate disorder and excitement is the most serious obstacle to their prosperity.
This letter is indicative of Lee’s public position on freedmen and the restoration of the Union. Privately he spent his days in bitter reflection. But when he conferred with former enemies on public statements, he often took up this conciliatory tone of moderation.
The collection is rich with others’ response to the letter – published throughout the South. Nathan Bedford Forrest, P. G. T. Beauregard, and John Brown Gordon number among the many former Rebels who wrote Rosecrans in support of both the letter and Rosecrans’s efforts to to initiate correspondence with Lee on the subject. Even Lee himself wrote a brief note of thanks. [/quote]
Anyway…enough reminiscing. Time to back up some files and get back to work. I’ll be heading back to UCLA special collections shortly to dig into the Rosecrans Papers (again). Expect some more juicy tidbits in the near future.