Saturday, February 4, 2012

American Civil War: Surprising Facts Too Strange To Hide

A Democratic Party Advertisement In 1861
From 1861 to 1865, Americans were at war.

Believe it or not, I know a few Southerners who call the Civil War, "The War of Northern Aggression." And yes, I've known a few Northerners who have called it, "The Democrat's War to Keep Slavery."

Since I'm always on the look out for strange and interesting, and maybe sometimes just plain weird facts about history, I figured that this would be a great time to take on the American Civil War.

During the US Civil war, 200,000 blacks served in the Union Army; 38,000 gave their lives; 22 won the Medal of Honor.

Gen. Robert E. Lee married a relative of George Washington, Mary Ann Randolph Custis. She owned a plantation called "Arlington." They lived there 30 years until Gen. Lee resigned his commission to avoid fighting against his home state.

The Lees vacated the property in 1861. Union troops occupied it and 200 acres were set aside to bury fallen Union soldiers. Today over 250,000 war dead are buried there. Now of course, it is known as Arlington National Cemetery.

Did you know that in the Civil War, General Stonewall Jackson walked around with his right hand in the air to balance the blood in his body? It's true! 

Because the General was right-handed, he thought that his right hand was getting more blood than his left, and so by his raising of his hand, he really believed that this allowed the excess blood to run into his left hand.

General Jackson also had a thing for good food. He never ate food that tasted good, because he assumed that anything that tasted good was completely unhealthy. He was obviously a man way ahead of his time, since today most Diet Experts believe the same thing.

Two percent of the population—more than 620,000—died in the Civil War.

In 1864, Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to Lieutenant General, a rank previously held by General George Washington, and led the 533,000 men of the Union Army, the largest in the world. Three years later, he was elected President of the United States.

According to researchers, about one-third of the Soldiers who fought for the Union Army were immigrants, many Irish, but even more were Germans. Some researchers believe that nearly 1 in 10 Union Soldiers was African American, I've read where others say it was more like 1 in 15. But either way, they did not fight for until the Union allowed Negros to fight in 1863.

During the Civil War, eye glasses with colored lenses were used to treat disorders and illnesses. Yellow-trimmed glasses were used to treat syphilis, blue lenses for insanity, and pink for depression. And that my friends is where we get the term, "To see the world through rose-colored glasses."

General Ulysses S. Grant was not a fan of military ceremonies or military music. He is reported to have said, that he could only recognize two tunes. "One was Yankee Doodle, the other one wasn’t."

Did you know that the average American in the 1860’s could not afford to paint his house, and a painted house was a sign of affluence? In order to keep up appearances, they used cedar clapboards.

Did you know that when a woman mourned for her husband in the 1860’s, she spent a minimum of two-and-a-half years in mourning? That meant little or no social activities: no parties, , no outings, no visitors, and a wardrobe that consisted of nothing but black. The husband, when mourning for his wife, however, spent three months in a black suit.

During the Battle of Antietam, Clara Barton tended the wounded so close to the fighting that a bullet went through her sleeve and killed a man she was treating.

During the Civil War, Medical Doctors and Surgeons never washed their hands after an operation. The belief at the time was that all blood was assumed to be the same.

It is said that in March 1862, that all of the European powers watched as the Monitor and Merrimack battled off Hampton Roads, Virginia.  It is said that after these ironclads opened fire, every other Navy on earth was obsolete. Well, that makes sense, considering that both the Monitor and the Merrimack were made of iron - while all other Naval vessels at the time were made of wood. It was the dawn of a new technology in shipbuilding for use in warfare.

After the Monitor and the Merrimack battle at Hampton Roads, supposedly the North built 58 Monitor Class ironclads, and the South built 22. Imagine that!

Future Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., was wounded three times during the Civil War. First in the chest at Ball’s Bluff, then in the back at Antietam, and finally in the heel at Chancellorsville.

During the Victorian era, the dead were either laid out in their parlors, or, as the Southerners preferred, in their bedrooms. There was no such thing as funeral homes at the time. Death was a part of life, and the dead remained in the house up until they were buried. The tradition of flowers around the coffin comes from the people in the Victorian Age trying to hide the scent of the deceased.

We've all heard of Stanley and Livingstone. Well, a little know fact is that Confederate Private Henry Stanley fought for the Sixth Arkansas, and was captured at Shiloh. Yes, he survived.

And as we know, as a Welsh journalist and Explorer he went to Africa to find Dr. Livingstone. Upon finding Livingstone, Stanley allegedly uttered the now-famous greeting, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

In those days, when a child died, it was customary for parents to have a photograph taken of the child. They wanted to preserve the memory for as long as possible. A lot of photographs taken of sleeping children are actually of deceased sons or daughters.

On July 4, 1863, after 48 days of siege, Confederate General John C. Pemberton surrendered the city of Vicksburg to Union General Ulysses S, Grant. After that, the Fourth of July was not be celebrated in Vicksburg for another 81 years.

In November 1863, President Lincoln was invited to offer a "few appropriate remarks" at the opening of a new Union cemetery at Gettysburg. The main speaker, a celebrated orator from Massachusetts, spoke for nearly two hours. Lincoln offered just 269 words in his Gettysburg Address.

Finding out the he, President Lincoln, had a mild form of smallpox (varioloid) while he gave the now famous Gettysburg Address. On the train back to Washington he supposedly said, "Now I have something that I can give everybody."

President Lincoln’s favorite tune was "Dixie"! It was a tune written by and preformed by a Northerner!

Disease was the chief killer during the Civil War, it was responsible for taking two men for every one who died of battle wounds.

Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest had twenty-nine horses shot out from under him during the Civil War.  Of course, there is that other thing he's famous for. His other claim to fame is being responsible for creating the Ku Klux Klan.

In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private "social club" in Pulaski, Tennessee, called the Ku Klux Klan. That "social club" terrorized Republicans, Catholics, and freed Blacks for the next hundred years or more.

Forrest served as the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.  He is directly responsible for launching a reign of terror against freed slaves, Northerners who had moved to the South during the Reconstruction Era, Catholics, Southern "Unionist" who had supported the North, and Republicans. 

In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private "social club" in Pulaski, Tennessee, called the Ku Klux Klan. That 'social club" terrorized Republicans, Catholics, and freed Blacks for the next hundred years or more.

Democrats for slavery?

The war was started by Democrats determined to keep the Black man a slave, and since Republicans who were against slavery, Republicans were targets after the war - just as they were during the war.  Before William Tecumseh Sherman became a great Union General, he was demoted for apparent insanity.

In October 1861, William Tecumseh Sherman, commander of Union forces in Kentucky, told U.S. Secretary of War Simon Cameron he needed 60,000 men to defend his territory and 200,000 to go on the offensive. Cameron called Sherman’s request "insane" and removed the General from his command.

In a letter to his brother, a devastated Sherman wrote, "I do think I should have committed suicide were it not for my children. I do not think that I can again be trusted with command." 

But in February 1862, General Sherman was reassigned to Paducah, Kentucky, under General Ulysses S. Grant, who saw not insanity but competence in the disgraced General.

Later in the war, when a civilian badmouthed Grant, Sherman defended his friend, saying, "General Grant is a great General. He stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk. And now, sir, we stand by each other always."

Some say there is a fine line between genius and insanity. General Sherman had a genius to wage "Total War."  It is the concept that says that you will wage a war that your enemy will not want to fight you because he sees that you are both tenacious and horrific.  

General Ulysses S. Grant wasn’t the bloodiest general of the war—Robert E. Lee was.

It is said that Mary Lincoln called General Grant a "butcher" for the huge losses that were sustained by his troops during the Overland Campaign in the spring of 1864—twice the number of casualties as General Lee’s Army.

Researchers now believe that if casualties are counted proportionally, then Lee’s Army suffered the most throughout the Civil War. 

This is because General Lee relished the attack, a trait that won him key battles such as Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg but cost him heavy casualties.  Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg is an example, and it eventually decimated the Army of Northern Virginia.

By the end of the war, Unionists, those loyal to the Union, from every Southern state except the state of South Carolina had sent regiments to fight for the North.

During the American Civil War, Union forces used their naval ships to create a blockade of southern ports. Known as the "Anaconda Plan," this blockade stretched from the Maryland coast down the eastern seaboard, around Florida, and into the Gulf of Mexico. The goal was to prevent supplies from reaching Confederate troops. By the end of the war the US Navy sunk 1504 blockade runners.

Both before and all during the Civil War, President Lincoln pushed to return slaves to Africa, or settle them in their own colony in South America.

The policy, called "Colonization," had been supported by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, and Henry Clay.

Even the writer Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose protagonists in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” ultimately emigrate from the United States to Africa.

In August 1862, Lincoln brought five black ministers to the White House and told them that slavery and the war had demonstrated that it would be "better for us both, therefore, to be separated."

His idea was to send blacks back to Africa, or to Central America, and even went so far as to call for a Constitutional Amendment authorizing Congress to pay for the relocation and Colonization.  President Lincoln never got the support he needed for the idea, and after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation he never mentioned it publicly again.

On May 13, 1865, a month after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Private John J. Williams of the 34th Indiana became the last man killed in the Civil War, in a battle at Palmito Ranch, Texas. The final skirmish was a Confederate victory.

62,000 men were under General Sherman during his march to the sea.

There were no communication lines to or from General Sherman during his march to the sea. It was only when he reached Atlanta that he notified others where he was.

At the start of the war, the value of all manufactured goods produced in all the Confederate states added up to less than one-fourth of those produced in New York State alone.

The First Maine Heavy Artillery suffered 635 casualties in seven minutes at Petersburg. The unit began with 900 men.

At Spotsylvania, Robert E lee’s horse, Traveller, was spooked and reared up just in time for a canon ball to pass under him. Traveller was usually calm in battle.

At the battle of Ball’s Bluff more than 200 Union soldiers were killed or wounded, and 700 were missing and presumed drowned. Captured by the Confederates were the grandson of Paul Revere and the son of Oliver Wendell Holmes.

The Civil War produced not only the first income tax, but also the first "Sin tax" on tobacco and alcohol, a luxury tax on jewels and a license tax. In addition to this, the South imposed a 10% "tax in kind" which required farmers to turn over a portion of their crops.

The total number of Americans killed in the Civil War is greater than the combined total of Americans killed in all other wars.

The Union ironclad, Monitor, was the first U.S. ship to have a flush toilet.

The US federal income tax was first enacted in 1862 to support the Union's Civil War effort. It was eliminated in 1872, revived in 1894 then declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court the following year.

More than 20,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing in action in the battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862. This was the bloodiest one-day fight during the Civil War.

On December 20, 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union.

Before the war started General Robert E. Lee led the U.S. Marines against John Brown at Harper's Ferry, JEB Stuart was his aide.

And finally, at Spotsylvania, General Robert E Lee’s horse, Traveller, is said to have been spooked and reared up just in time for a canon ball to pass under him. Traveller was usually calm in battle.

 Imagine that!

Tom Correa