1861 WAR FEVER

1860 – 1861 WAR FEVER: SECESSION CONVENTION DELEGATES COMMENTING ON THE PASSIONS DRIVING THE WAR DECISIONS AND BLOCKING THE CALCULATION OF RISKS IN THE SEVERAL SOUTHERN STATES OF THE CONFEDERACY

Richard Taylor, Louisana Planter and Delegate to the 1861 Louisana Secession Convention.

“In January, 1861, the General Assembly of Louisiana met. A member of the upper branch, and chairman of its Committee on Federal Relations, I reported, and assisted in passing, an act to call a Convention of the people of the State to consider of matters beyond the competency of the Assembly. The Convention met in March, and was presided over by ex-Governor and ex – United States Senator Alexander Mouton, a man of high character. I represented my own parish, St. Charles, and was appointed chairman of the Military and Defense Committee, on behalf of which two ordinances were reported and passed: one, to raise two regiments; the other, to authorize the Governor to expend a million of dollars in the purchase of arms and munitions. The officers of the two regiments were to be appointed by the Governor, and the men to be enlisted for five years, unless sooner discharged. More would have been desirable in the way of raising troops, but the temper of men’s minds did not then justify the effort. The Governor declined to use his authority to purchase arms, assured as he was on all sides that there was no danger of war, and that the United States arsenal at Baton Rouge, completely in our power, would furnish more than we could need. It was vainly urged in reply that the stores of the arsenal were almost valueless, the arms being altered flint-lock muskets, and the accouterments out of date. The current was too strong to stem.

The Convention [meeting in March, 1861], by an immense majority of votes, adopted an ordinance declaring that Louisiana ceased to be a State within the Union. Indeed, similar action having already been taken by her neighbors, Louisiana of necessity followed. At the time and since, I marveled at the joyous and careless temper in which men, much my superiors in sagacity and experience, consummated these acts. There appeared the same general gaite de comt that M. Ollivier claimed for the Imperial Ministry when war was declared against Prussia. The attachment of northern and western people to the Union; their superiority in numbers, in wealth, and especially in mechanical resources; the command of the sea; the lust of rule and territory always felt by democracies, and nowhere to a greater degree than in the South—all these facts were laughed to scorn, or their mention was ascribed to timidity and treachery.” from his book DESTRUCTION AND RECONSTRUCTION, 1879, page 13.

“The early seizure of these two fortresses [Barrancas, FL and Ft. Sumter, SC] would have spared the Confederates many serious embarrassments; but such small details were neglected at that time.” [Here he is referring to Lincoln cleverly luring the Confederacy into launching the first military attacks starting the Civil War. These early military actions enable him to classify the fighting a “rebellion” and the men taking up arms against the United States of America were assigned the label of “rebels.” These political labels lasted, had impact and helped garner support in the North for fighting to prevent disunion.]

Richard Taylor, son of President Zachary Taylor, was one of the better educated officers in the Confederate armed services.

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