*The Cause of Conflict and the Call to Arms
In 1861 a ringing call came to the manhood of the South. The world knows how the men of the South answered that call. Dropping everything, they came from mountains, valleys and plains— from Maryland to Texas, they eagerly crowded to the front, and stood to arms. What for? What moved them? What was in their minds?
Shallow-minded writers have tried hard to make it appear that slavery was the cause of that war; that the Southern men fought to keep their slaves. They utterly miss the point, or purposely pervert the truth. In days gone by, the theological schoolmen held hot contention over the question as to the kind of wood the Cross of Calvary was made from. In their zeal over this trivial matter, they lost sight of the great thing that did matter; the mighty transaction, and purpose displayed upon that Cross.
In the causes of that war, slavery was only a detail and an occasion. Back of that lay an immensely greater thing; the defense of their rights—the most sacred cause given men on earth, to maintain at every cost. It is the cause of humanity. Through ages it has been, pre-eminently, the cause of the Anglo-Saxon race, for which countless heroes have died. With those men it was to defend the rights of their States to control their own affairs, without dictation from anybody outside; a right not given, but guaranteed by the Constitution, which those States accepted, most distinctly, under that condition.
It was for that these men came. This was just what they had in their minds; to uphold that Solemnly guaranteed constitutional right, distinctly binding all the parties to that compact. The South pleaded with the other parties to the Constitution to observe their guarantee; when they refused, and talked of force, then the men of the South got their guns and came to see about it. They were Anglo-Saxons. What could you expect? Their fathers had fought and died on exactly this issue—they could do no less. As their noble fathers, so their noble sons pledged their lives, and their sacred honor to uphold the same great cause—peaceably if they could; forcibly if they must.
*Those Who Answered the Call
So the men of the South came together. They came from every rank and calling of life— clergymen, bishops, doctors, lawyers, statesmen, governors of states, judges, editors, merchants, mechanics, farmers. One bishop became a lieutenant general; one clergyman, chief of artillery, Army of Northern Virginia. In one artillery battalion three clergymen were Cannoneers at the guns. All the students of one Theological Seminary volunteered, and three fell in battle, and all but one were wounded. They came of every age. I personally know of six men over sixty years who volunteered, and served in the ranks, throughout the war; and in the Army of Northern Virginia, more than ten thousand men were under eighteen years of age, many of them sixteen years.They came of every social condition of life: some of them were the most prominent men in the professional, social, and political life of their States; owners of great estates, employing many slaves; and thousands of them, horny-handed sons of toil, earning their daily bread by their daily labor, who never owned a slave and never would.
There came men of every degree of intellectual equipment—some of them could hardly read, and per contra, in my battery, at the mock burial of a pet crow, there were delivered an original Greek ode, an original Latin oration, and two brilliant eulogies in English—all in honor of that crow; very high obsequies had that bird.
Men who served as Cannoneers of that same battery, in after life came to fill the highest positions of trust and influence—from governors and professors of universities, downward; and one became Speaker of the House of Representatives in the United States Congress. Also, it is to be noted that twenty-one men who served in the ranks of the Confederate Army became Bishops of the Episcopal Church after the war.
Of the men who thus gathered from all the Southern land, the first raised regiments were drawn to Virginia, and there organized into an army whose duty it was to cover Richmond, the Capital of the Confederacy—just one hundred miles from Washington, which would naturally be the center of military activities of the hostile armies.
*FROM THE RAPIDAN TO RICHMOND AND THE SPOTTSYLVANIA CAMPAIGNA Sketch in Personal Narrative of the Scenes a Soldier SawByWILLIAM MEADE DAME, D. D.Private, First Company Richmond Howitzers
I guess that this is as true of an account as you could find anyplace! Not from a politician of the era, not from a historian – 150 years after the fact! But from the man who signed or made his mark on the dotted line. The man who faced cold winters, little or no provisions, nonexistent pay, an overwhelming number of enemy soldiers; who were better armed, fed, and clothed !
It was every man of the south who simply wanted the right to choose his own Government, and set the levels of the politician’s power at an acceptable level. I noticed a passage in the book /
“When rations got short and were getting shorter, it became necessary to dismiss the darkey servants. Some, however, became company servants, instead of private institutions, and held out faithfully to the end, cooking the rations away in the rear, and at the risk of life carrying them to the line of battle to their young massahs”
Also from a different book titled -
Reminiscences of the Richmond HowitzersBy Carlton McCarthy
“A few of our negro cooks, who were with our wagon train when it was captured by the enemy, escaped and returned to camp today. Certainly they were the happiest fellows I ever saw and were greeted with loud cheers by our men. A chance at freedom they had, but they preferred life and slavery in Dixie to liberty in the North.”
With all of the conflicting views on Black Soldiers in the Confederacy, an argument that will continue as long as the sun rises and sets, somehow the efforts of the loyal black servant gets lost in the shuffle.
Ok this group of black men were not rifle carrying soldiers, but their dedication is deserving of recognition. Their courage and dedication shows where their loyalty was at.No matter how you slice it they were “Black Confederates”. No one held them at gunpoint, all they had to do was walk away, but they didn’t. So were these men slaves when they could have walked away and didn’t? I guess they were, but something other than the Massahs whip kept them in camp! Loyalty! Honor! Courage! The same attributes we give to the confederate soldier who signed on the line and defended his country.
So It was not only the free man but the servants themselves who opposed the onslaught of the north.
I have a letter from another member of the Richmond Howitzers
William Henry Tatum, my Great Uncle, it says in part------
"When I volunteered I really did not know how a long a time it was for, and in fact did not care. I am, with the other 12 month volunteers . Called upon to reenlist in accordance with an act of congress Dec 11 1861, and I am called on to decide what I shall do, before we are mustered out of service.
I think that with everybody else, that the period will be the most critical one in our history, our enemy are perfectly aware of the straight in which we are placed and will certainly endeavor to take advantage of it.
Now what is my duty, to go home and leave our defense to undisciplined militia who will make a sorry fight at best, leaving it in the range of probability that the Northern hessians will overrun our state before the summer is over and bringing ruin on all of us? Or stay in the field, determined to see the end of this business before we give it up.
I might say to myself I am only one, I will not be missed, but ought we allow such selfish considerations to govern us, our whole army is made up of individuals, and suppose each was to say the same thing"?
a powerful statement! It says a lot about my ancestor and about the Confederate soldier as well.
Again from William Meade Dane
The Confederate Heart
" The heart is greater than the mind. No man can exactly define the cause for which the Confederate soldier fought. He was above human reason and above human law, secure in his own rectitude of purpose, accountable to God only, having assumed for himself a nationality which he was minded to defend with his life and his property, andthere to pledged his sacred honor. In the honesty and simplicity of his heart, the Confederate soldier had neglected his own interests and rights, until his accumulated wrongs and indignities forced him to one grand, prolonged effort to free himself from the pain of them. He dared not refuse to hear the call to arms, so plain was the duty and so urgent the call. His brethren and friends were answering the bugle-call and the roll of the drum. To stay was dishonor and shame"!
So who was the Confederate soldier
He was a man of every color, every income range, every religion, a man who was highly educated or had no education at all. A farmer, a lawyer, a politician, a store clerk, a blacksmith, a ship captain, a dock worker, a military man, a civilian, a slave , a slave owner, a native American, A Doctor, He was every man who resisted the despotic Government of Abe Lincoln; and all had one thing in common, they were Southerners! Men to whom Honor was more than an idea, it was a way of life.Men of courage, outnumbered, without supplies’, Men who when the enemy had repeating rifles and endless amounts of ammunition , stood their ground and threw rocks at the invaders. Men who at Appomattox upon General Lee’s return from the surrender told the general,
“Just give us the word General and we’ll charge em again”!
That is who they were, and that is why we honor them.