Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Prattville Dragoons January Camp Meeting - Part 4 (The Emancipation Proclamation Cause and Effect)

Sam Reid, the guest speaker for the Dragoon's January camp meeting concluded his discussion of the Emancipation Proclamation with an analysis on what the impetus for issuing the proclamation was and what were the results.  Lincoln needed to try to get the slaves to stop helping the Confederate war effort both working on plantations to raise crops and also on the front lines and supply trains. He hoped for a slave revolt to try to get the Confederate soldiers to return home to safe guard their homes and families looking to the example of the slave revolt in Haiti which resulted in the massacre of their owners and even Napolean's troops were unable to put down the uprising.  Lincoln was actually scolded by Northern newspaper editors for attempting to incite a slave revolt and riots.

Notably, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation exempted freeing slaves in states and territories controlled by the federal government in the Union including Louisiana, Missouri, West Virginia and others, only "freeing" slaves in territories controlled by the Confederate government.  He could have freed 800,000 slaves but effectively freed none.  But, the result was that Europe stayed out of the War and the Pope was quiet as they could not then endorse state sanctioned slavery. But the slaves still worked in the South and there was no revolt.  But in the North, the desertion rate in the Union army skyrocketed up to 200,000 soldiers. Whole regiments including 1900 from Vermont deserted. Parents wrote their sons to return home explaining they went to war to preserve the Union, not to free slaves. General Ulysses Grant said, "'Sir, I have no doubt in the world that the sole object is the restoration of the Union. I will say further, though, that I am a Democrat--every man in my regiment is a Democrat--and whenever I shall be convinced that this war has for its object anything else than what I have mentioned or that the Government designs using its soldiers to execute the purposes of the abolitionists, I pledge you on my honor as a man and a soldier that I will not only resign my commission, but will carry my sword to the other side, and cast my lot with that people."

There were riots and fires in the North objecting to Lincoln's proclamation.  In New York, two combat brigades took two weeks to put down an uprising during which a black orphanage was burned down. To replace deserters, the North conscripted immigrants from Ireland and Germany to fill the ranks.  Friends of Lincoln said Lincoln acknowledged the Proclamation was folly.

Contraband camps were built by Union troops to hold freed slaves but the death rate in these camps was higher than those in the POW camps including the infamous Camp Douglas in Chicago and Elmira in New York where the death rate exceeded 40%.  The Union troops used these freed slaves to dig trenches near Petersburg then after the war told them to go home, wherever that was.  It was well documented the rampant raping of black women by Union troops plundering the countryside during their crusade. Freed slaves followed Sherman's army and it is documented that at a bridge crossing in South Carolina that the bridge the troops used was burned on both ends and that slaves who attempted to ford the river.

Vice President Stevenson asked Lincoln what his plans for the freed slaves was following the War and he stated, "Root, hog or die".  It was estimated that over one million freed slaves died after the War thru the summer of 1867 due to starvation, disease and exposure.

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