Friday, January 26, 2024

The Civil War -- A Few Interesting Facts -- Part One

Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson

The Civil War started in 1861 and lasted until 1865. How awful was the Civil War? Well, believe it or not, there were more than 620,000 casualties. Let's put it this way, to understand the toll it took on the nation as a whole, we need to understand that two percent of the entire population of the United States died in the American Civil War.

During the Civil War, the Union Army needed a place to bury their dead soldiers. The Quarter Master of the Army confiscated Confederate General Robert E. Lee's home and turned his entire estate into a cemetery. It was done so that General Robert E. Lee would be reminded of the carnage he caused. Lee's estate later became Arlington National Cemetery.

The South did not expect to lose the war. Because Southerners figured that Northerners were mostly from cities and had to learn how to shoot and ride, Southerners figured they'd have it better since they were mostly farmers who were already skilled marksmen, hunters, woodsmen, and horsemen.

Most Southerners were not slaveholders. Less than a tenth of all White Southerners had any direct connection to slavery. In fact, the number of White Southerner slave owners is believed to be less than 6% of the entire White population in the South. Of the slave owners in the South, there were Black Southerners who owned slaves.

Northerners expected to win because they had more men and their Army was much larger and better equipped. Northerners believed the South could not compete with the output of Northern factories that produced 100 times more government supplies than that of the South. And yes, along with the huge manufacturing and railroads for transporting guns and supplies, there was 100 times the corruption from government contractors who profited from the war.

It is said that during the Battle of Chancellorsville, a Union soldier discovered that he and many in his unit were swindled by corrupt government contractors in the North. It happened when his rifle misfired. When the Union soldier checked, he found that his rifle cartridges were filled with dirt rather than gunpowder.

On the dark night of May 2nd, 1863, right after the Battle of Chancellorsville, Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson and his staff were returning to camp. His staff's arrival was mistaken for a Union Army cavalry unit. The Confederate sentries immediately fired a volley at the approaching men. When the General's staff identified themselves, Confederate Major John D. Barry didn't believe them and shouted "It's a damned Yankee trick! Fire!"

With that, a second volley was let go. Of the rounds fired in the second volley, General Jackson was struck by three rounds. Some of his staff were killed. Yes, along with their horses. It was quite the massacre. It was also total mayhem.

After the confusion settled down, General Jackson waited to be cared for. Then, once medical assistance arrived, Jackson was actually dropped from his stretcher while he was being evacuated from that position. Some say he was evacuated because of incoming artillery while others say he was simply being relocated when his unit was moved.

After General Jackson's left arm was amputated, he was actually thought to be recovering. But then, on May 10, 1863, eight days after being shot, General Jackson died of complications from pneumonia. Stonewall Jackson received chloroform for the removal of his left arm. On his deathbed, he described being anesthetized as the "most delightful physical sensation I ever experienced."

He was 39 years of age. And with his death, it's said that General Robert E. Lee felt that the Confederacy had lost one of its best Generals. No, not as a result of a Yankee sniper. But sadly, as a result of his own Confederate troops mistaking him and his staff for Union troops.

For the record, Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson got his nickname during the first Battle of Bull Run. During the battle, his men noted that he stood "like a stone wall" while leading them on.

As far as having a very strange of thinking, to call Stonewall Jackson quirky would be pretty much an understatement. First, he was a hypochondriac who thought that he was "out of balance" at times. As strange as it sounds, even in the heat of battle, he would raise an arm so the blood would flow down into his body because he felt that that helped him re-establish equilibrium. And yes, believe it or not, he was shot in the hand during the First Battle of Bull Run because he was doing that.

He absolutely refused to eat pepper. He said the spice made his left leg weak. He sucked lemons because he believed that lemons helped his "dyspepsia." As for medical remedies that he believed in, he used to dunk his head into a basin of cold water with his eyes open. He did that because he believed it was good for his poor eyesight. He also believed that he needed to stand upright so that all of his organs were "naturally aligned." As for feeling invincible, it's said that he once told an aide that he felt "as safe in battle as in bed."

On May 10th, 1865, Union troops ambushed and captured Confederate guerrilla William Quantrill at Wakefield Farm, Kentucky. Quantrill was considered a mad dog killer. It seems fitting that he was shot in the back while trying to escape and lingered in pain while paralyzed from the chest down. He was taken to a military prison hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, where he died of his wounds on June 6th. He was 27 years of age.

And by the way, some reports say the Union doctors refused to give him any sort of pain medicine for the whole time that he suffered because he refused to admit who he was. Yes, even though he was identified by those who knew him. That includes men in his band.

It's believed that he refused to admit who he was because he feared he would be hanged for the Lawrence Kansas Massacre if he recovered from his wounds. He was right as it was Quantrill who ordered his more than 450 Confederate guerrilla fighters to kill around 150 unarmed men and boys -- and then burn Lawrence, Kansas, to the ground.

On that same day, on May 10th, 1865, near Irwinville, Georgia, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured by Union troops. It's said that he was dressed in women's clothing to escape detection. Later, he tried to say that he was only wearing his wife's shawl because he was cold.

One bit of trivia that I found hard to believe had to do with two brothers. Chang and Eng Bunker are best known as "the original Siamese Twins." Natives of Siam, present-day Thailand, the brothers were joined at the sternum. As a curiosity, they became a popular attraction in a traveling circus.

By 1839, they purchased 110 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. They married sisters and settled down there. And yes, they were slave owners. With a handful of slaves, they built a successful farm. The brothers also became naturalized citizens devoted to the Confederacy.

In 1865, Union General George Stoneman raided North Carolina and decided to draft some of the locals into service. General Stoneman did not care where their loyalties lay, he wanted troops to work in support roles. To find those troops, Gen. Stoneman set up a draft by selecting the names of local men over 18. Their names were put into a lottery wheel.

Believe it or not, Eng Bunker's name was drawn. No, his joined brother Chang was not. After some fuss about how such a mistake could happen, neither was forced to serve in the war. But of course, that didn't stop their eldest sons who enlisted to fight for the Confederacy.

There is a lot of talk these days about why the United States government put "In God We Trust" on money. On July 30, 1956, the 84th Congress passed a joint resolution "declaring 'IN GOD WE TRUST' the national motto of the United States."

Of course, there's that "In God We Trust" became the official motto of the United States in 1956 because atheistic-Communism was on the rise in the 1950s. Well, while the 84th Congress may have passed their joint resolution to show the Communists that America believes in God, the words "In God We Trust" first appeared on a U.S. coin in 1864.

In fact, "In God We Trust" first appeared on the obverse side of the Two-cent piece in 1864. It was done to boost morale during a time when war had ravaged America, and many started to question if God had abandoned us. 

Lastly, some Native American tribes were slaveholders who found a political and economic kinship with the pro-slavery Democratic Party. It is said that when Confederate Brigadier General Albert Pike authorized the raising of Native American regiments during the fall of 1860, the Creek, Choctaw, and Cherokee tribes allied with the Confederacy. It's said they felt a sense of kinship with the Confederacy. 

How anyone can have a sense of kinship with people who would fight to enslave others is beyond me. No, I don't understand the whole "Slave Owner Mentality." But, it just shows that it also took place back then.

Tom Correa

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