1860 Abiding Commentary


“Thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: ‘Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all nations to whom I send you drink it. They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword which I am sending among them.’ “

Jeremiah, Chapter 25, Verse 15.



from: the Southern Manifesto, 13 December 1860:

“We are satisfied [that] the honor, safety, and independence of the Southern people are to be found only in a Southern Confederacy —a result to be obtained only by separate State secession — and that the sole and primary aim of each slaveholding State ought to be its speedy and absolute separation from an unnatural and hostile Union.”

Signed by J. L. Pugh, David Clopton, Sydenham Moore, J. L. M. Curry, and J. A. Stallworth of Alabama; Alfred Iverson, J. W. H. Underwood, L. J. Gartrell, and Jas. Jackson, (Senator Toombs is not here, but would sign). John J. Jones, and Martin J. Crawford of Georgia; Geo. S. Hawkins of Florida. It is understood Mr. Yulee will sign it. T. C. Hindman of Arkansas. Both Senators will also sign it. A. G. Brown, Wm. Barksdale. O. R. Singleton, and Reuben Davis of Mississippi; [Representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives] Burton Craige and Thos. Ruffin of North Carolina; J. P. Benjamin and John M. Landrum of Louisiana. Mr. Slidell will also sign it. Senators Wigfall and Hemphill of Texas, will sign it. DATE: 13 December 1860.


“. . . .in the year 1860 the Republican Party held that justice was overthrown and domestic tranquility destroyed by the existence of slavery; that slavery was a perpetual menace to the general welfare; and that the strife in regard to slavery had its origin in the action of an aristocratic governing class founded upon that institution.” from Samuel S. Cox, UNION-DISUNION-REUNION: THREE DECADES OF FEDERAL LEGISLATION, 1855 TO 1885 [1885]: 36.


“For the inequality of the negro, Providence is responsible, as He is for the entire creation which surrounds us. When human laws are in accordance with the system of nature, they are wise; but if in opposition to it, they are productive only of mischief.”

“It is not, as the Abolitionists in their silliness assert, just a question of color or prejudice against a black skin. If the negro were in fact in all respects like the white man, his blackness would have been of no more consequence than the difference between black and red hair or light and dark eyes. The feeling against him grows out of the fact that he is in all respects different from the white man and inferior.”

Both quotes from United States Senator Thomas L. Clingman of Buncombe County, NC in his speech in the United States Senate on 16 January 1860.


The great event of all our lives [has] come to pass [bringing a] Civil War of gigantic proportions, infinite consequences and indefinite duration.”
comment from John Moncure Daniel, the RICHMOND EXAMINER, 1861 in response to the secession of Virginia from the Union; as cited in William A. Link, THE ROOTS OF SECESSION: SLAVERY AND POLITICS IN ANTEBELLUM VIRGINIA (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003): 242 – 243.


The slaveholders themselves have saved our cause from ruin! They have exposed the throat of slavery to the keen knife of liberty.” comment from Frederick Douglass in his journal DOUGLASS’S JOURNAL, May 1, 1861 in response to the Confederate attack and capture of the Federal facility of Ft. Sumter in the harbor at Charleston, SC initiating the fighting in the war of secession; as cited in Nelson D. Lankford, CRY HAVOC! THE CROOKED ROAD TO CIVIL WAR, 1861 [New York: Viking, 2007]: 93 – 94.


“. . . they [the North Carolina secessionists] promised us that if war should ensue, they would go to the battlefield, and spill, if necessary, the last drop of their blood in the cause of their beloved South. . . . As regards their promise ‘to go to the war and spill the last drop of their blood in the cause of their beloved South,’ I will say nothing. Every body knows how the Secessionists of North-Carolina have kept that promise. Every body knows that the leaders, with a few honorable exceptions, will neither fight nor negotiate. . . .”

Richard Spaight Donnell [1820 – 1867], a delegate from Beaufort County at the 1861 – 62 North Carolina Secession Convention; printed in RALEIGH (N.C.) STANDARD, of July 31, 1863.



In 1863, the Association decided that a church should not hold in fellowship colored members who had run off from their owners for Yankee freedom and protection.”

from: James A. Delke, compiler, THE HISTORY OF THE NORTH CAROLINA CHOWAN BAPTIST ASSOCIATION, 1806-1881, Raleigh, NC: Edwards, Broughton & Co., Publishers. 1882]



On Sunday night, 22 February 1863 “twelve of the Confederate prisoners confined in the pens at Camp Douglas (Chicago) were frozen to death. On Monday morning they were found in the miserable handful of hay in their bunks frozen stiff, though to all appearances in the enjoyment of perfect health the day previous.” CHICAGO TIMES, Chicago, IL at reported in the HOUSE JOURNAL, Volume 6, page 142 on 27 February 1863.


The great popular heart is not now, and never has been in this war. It is a revolution of Politicians, not the people; and is fought at first by the natural enthusiasm of our young men and has been kept going by State and sectional (the Confederate States of America) power, assisted by that bitterness of feeling produced by the cruelties and brutalities of the enemy.”

[These two sentences appear in a letter from North Carolina’s Civil War Governor Zebulon Vance to a friend written in September 1864; as cited by W. K. Boyd, “William W. Holden: Part II – Secession and Peace Movement,” in THE TRINITY COLLEGE HISTORICAL PAPERS. Series III [Durham, NC: Historical Society of Trinity College, 1899]: 69.


“Men busy to-day killing swallows that fly low; partly for amusement, but more particularly for food they furnish. Are eaten raw before hardly dead. No, thank you, I will take no swallow.” Andersonville Prison, Georgia, May 24, 1864 from JOHN RANSOM’S DIARY [New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1963]: 74. On 19 March 1864 (p. 53) Ransom estimates that 18 to 20 men died each day; by 17 May 1864 (p.72), as the prison population rises to about 19,000, he estimates that 90 to 100 men died each day.


You know perfectly well it was the wealthy men of the South who dragooned the people into Secession” President Andrew Johnson in 1865 speaking with a delegation of Virginians. As it turned out secession was the ONLY option the privileged men of the South, who held the exclusive power to decide, presented to the people for their consideration. In 1861, in North Carolina, the decision to secede and join the Confederacy was not submitted to a popular vote of the state’s legal voters in dramatic contrast with the referendums submitted to all the voters living in Virginia and Tennessee.


It is amusing to observe how brave and firm some men become when all the danger is past.” William T. Sherman as cited in B. H. Liddell Hart, SHERMAN: SOLDIER, REALIST, AMERICAN, page 400.



“. . . .the varieties of the strayed dead, (the estimate of the War department is 25,000 national soldiers kill’d in battle and never buried at all, 5,000 drown’d— 15,000 inhumed by strangers, or on the march in haste, in hitherto unfound localities — 2,000 graves cover’d by sand and mud by Mississippi freshets, 3,000 carried away by caving-in of banks, &c.,)— Gettysburgh, the West, Southwest — Vicksburgh — Chattanooga — the trenches of Petersburgh— the numberless battles, camps, hospitals everywhere — the crop reap’d by the mighty reapers, typhoid, dysentery, inflammations — and blackest and loathesomest of all, the dead and living burial-pits, the prison-pens of Andersonville, Salisbury, Belle-Isle; (not Dante’s pictured hell and all its woes, its degradations, filthy torments, excell’d those prisons) — the dead, the dead, the dead — our dead — or South or North, ours all, (all, all, all, finally dear to me) —or East or West — Atlantic coast or Mississippi valley — somewhere they crawl’d to die, alone, in bushes, low gullies, or on the sides of hills — (there, in secluded spots, their skeletons, bleach’d bones, tufts of hair, buttons, fragments of clothing, are occasionally found yet [about 1880]) — our young men once so handsome and so joyous, taken from us — the son from the mother, the husband from the wife, the dear friend from the dear friend—the clusters of camp graves, in Georgia, the Carolinas, and in Tennessee — the single graves left in the woods or by the roadside, (hundreds, thousands, obliterated) —the corpses floated down the rivers, and caught and lodged, (dozens, scores, floated down the upper Potomac, after the cavalry engagements, the pursuit of Lee, following Gettysburgh) — some lie at the bottom of the sea — the general million, and the special cemeteries in almost all the States — the infinite dead — (the land entire saturated, perfumed with their impalpable ashes’ exhalation in Nature’s chemistry distill’d, and shall be so forever, in every future grain of wheat and ear of corn, and every flower that grows, and every breath we draw) .—not only Northern dead leavening Southern soil — thousands, aye tens of thousands, of Southerners, crumble to-day in Northern earth. . . . I have at night watch’d by the side of a sick man in the hospital, one who could not live many hours. I have seen his eyes flash and burn as he raised himself and recurr’d to the cruelties on his surrender’d brother, and mutilations of the corpse afterward. (See in the preceding pages, the incident at Upperville — the seventeen kill’d as in the description, were left there on the ground. After they dropt dead, no one touch’d them — all were made sure of, however. The carcasses were left for the citizens to bury or not, as they chose.) . . . The hospital part of the drama from ’61 to ’65, deserves indeed to be recorded. Of that many-threaded drama, with its sudden and strange surprises, its confounding of prophecies, its moments of despair, the dread of foreign interference, the interminable campaigns, the bloody battles, the mighty and cumbrous and green armies, the drafts and bounties — the immense money expenditure, like a heavy-pouring constant rain — with, over the whole land, the last three years of the struggle, an unending, universal mourning-wail of women, parents, orphans — the marrow of the tragedy concentrated in those Army Hospitals—(it seem’d sometimes as if the whole interest of the land, North and South, was one vast central hospital, and all the rest of the affair but flanges).

The Home Away from Home for a Growing, Seemingly Endless Number of Men, North and South, Who were Wounded and Dying! Mass graves were common, in the North and South, around all the hospitals and prisons as well.”

Walt Whitman, 1881; War Correspondent and Dedicated, Tireless Visitor to Army Hospitals in Search of Ways to Relieve the Suffering that the War Visited Upon so Many Men and Their Families, South and North, who served in the Armed Forces.

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