Tag Archives: secession

John Singleton Mosby on Slavery and the Cause of the Civil War

Screen shot 2014-03-08 at 9.05.26 AMWe all know about John Singleton Mosby, right? Yes indeed – the storied  “Gray Ghost” commanded the 43rd Battalion, 1st Virginia Cavalry – aka Mosby’s Raiders. He was known for lightning raids and quick getaways…in other words he drove the Yankees nuts.

Mosby fancied himself a straight shooter (in more ways than one) and after the war had no problem speaking his mind – even on the controversial subject of slavery.

In a 1907 letter to Samuel Chapman, he wrote:

People must be judged by the standard of their own age. If it was right to own slaves as property it was right to fight for it. The South went to war on account of slavery. South Carolina went to war – as she said in her Secession proclamation – because slavery wd. not be secure under Lincoln. South Carolina ought to know what was the cause for her seceding.

Now if that is not straight to the point I do not know what is. And this from a former Confederate! Now the good people of the South (the white ones, anyway) for the most part looked down on this kind of talk. Mosby had some other problems, too. He supported Ulysses S. Grant for President. This audacious move earned him the title “alien” in at least one southern state – as he informed a Charlottesville acquaintance. I am sure he was called much worse.

Anyway – I’ll admit that Mosby was the exception not the rule when it came to former Confederates and their stance on the “slavery as a cause” argument. I just wanted to point out that not all Rebels thought alike.

With compliments,

Keith

The Charleston Mercury Defends the Fight for Slavery…in 1865

Screen shot 2014-02-27 at 11.05.20 AMI run across people all the time who try to convince me that the Confederacy was not established to preserve the institution of slavery. Of course I think that is nonsense – so I figured that from time to time I would a post tidbit of primary evidence to illustrate exactly how slavery was the driving force behind secession and war.

So here is a succinct, straight to the point newspaper article. Now I know that one article does not prove an argument. So stay tuned – I will give you lots and lots. This article  from an 1865 edition of the Charleston Mercury – the day is unknown but it seems like the CSA is very close to the end – is a good place to start. Sorry, no picture of the actual article – so I posted and old page of the Mercury announcing the ordinance of secession.

Pay special attention. The author notes slavery explicitly as the cause of the war and the reason to maintain the fight…despite the severe losses endured by the South. Further, alluding to the proposition that blacks be enlisted to fight for the Confederacy, the Mercury takes a firm stand against arming black people. It would only lead to emancipation, notes the author – thus rendering their secession pointless.

I have quoted the article below in full (in italics). Please note that when I quote primary evidence I leave the language, grammar, and spelling exactly as written. I do NOT sanitize for your protection. Therefore, some of you may be offended by the choice of words. Rest assured, these are the words of the AUTHOR OF THE MERCURY, not mine.

In 1860 South Carolina seceded alone from the old union of States. Her people, in Convention assembled, invited the slaveholding States (none others) of the old Union to join her in erecting a separate Government of Slave States, for the protection of their common interests. All of the slave states, with the exception of Maryland and Kentucky, responded to her invitation. The Southern Confederacy of slave States was formed.

It was on account of encroachments upon the institution of slavery by the sectional majority of the old Union, that South Carolina seceded from that Union. It is not at this late day, after the loss of thirty thousand of her best and bravest men in battle, that she will suffer it to be bartered away; or ground between the upper and nether mill stones, by the madness of Congress, or the counsels of shallow men elsewhere.

By the compact we made with Virginia and the other States of this Confederacy, South Carolina will stand to the bitter end of destruction. By that compact she intends to stand or to fall. Neither Congress, nor certain makeshift men in Virginia, can force upon her their mad schemes of weakness and surrender. She stands upon her institutions—and there she will fall in their defense. We want no Confederate Government without our institutions. And we will have none. Sink or swim, live or die, we stand by them, and are fighting for them this day. That is the ground of our fight—it is well that all should understand it at once. Thousands and tens of thousands of the bravest men, and the best blood of this State, fighting in the ranks, have left their bones whitening on the bleak hills of Virginia in this cause. We are fighting for our system of civilization—not for buncomb, or for Jeff Davis. We intend to fight for that, or nothing. We expect Virginia to stand beside us in that fight, as of old, as we have stood beside her in this war up to this time. But such talk coming from such a source is destructive to the cause. Let it cease at once, in God’s name, and in behalf of our common cause! It is paralizing to every man here to hear it. It throws a pall over the hearts of the soldiers from this State to hear it. The soldiers of South Carolina will not fight beside a nigger’ to talk of emancipation is to disband our army. We are free men, and we chose to fight for ourselves—we want no slaves to fight for us…. Hack at the root of the Confederacy—our institutions—our civilization—and you kill the cause as dead as a boiled crab.

So….there you go. Not enough, you say? Stick around – there is much much much more to come.

With compliments,

Keith