RENEWING OLD FRIENDSHIPS: VETERANS' REUNIONS
In the early years after the War Between the States, the Confederate veteran was content to nurse his wounds, rebuild his land and his economy, and learn how to live in the new and somewhat different order of things. His structure of racial relationships was different; his labor supply was no longer as much under his direct control; his ego was sharply deflated; his role in the nation's capital was sharply curtailed; and his economy was in ruins. He had left home in the Spring of 1861 expecting the easy and quick defeat of the Northern invading armies; he came back home in the Spring of 1865 defeated and discouraged. After having expected to win an easy war -- indeed, after having staked all that he had on the outcome -- it was difficult to face the bleak future of defeat and despair.
After the grief and pain had become a bit less vivid, the gray-clad soldiers began to gather together to share old memories and to tell war stories as veterans have done since time immemorial. At first, these "reunions" were informal and unstructured, but as the years passed, most of the Confederate military units began to organize, elect officers, and hold regularly scheduled annual meetings. At each of these events, parades and ceremony were the order of the day; the veterans would gather from where they had limped home after the surrender and there would be business meetings, election of officers, campfires, barbeques, reminiscences, and the usual oration by a leading Southern military figure.
These veteransÕ assemblies gained national attention in the last two decades of the century, and became a major avenue for the expression of conciliatory sentiment. As so many of the orators declared in great detail, the veteran was willing to let bygones be bygones; according to these speakers, if the soldiers could have controlled the matter, peace and sectional harmony would have come with the last shot of the last battle. According to Paul Buck, who has written the most thorough study of the reconciliation process to date, the "spirit of good will which permeated every aspect of American life during the eighties received its deepest and sincerest expression from the aging veterans who once had borne the heat of battle."1
Little of a scholarly nature has been written about these reunions, but apparently they were a major event in post-war Southern life.2 Woodward believes that the Confederate cult did not gain a religious cast until the movement was taken over by Southern Womanhood with the formation of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1895.3 There is, however, ample evidence that the veteransÕ organizations were responsible for major support of the numerous Ladies Memorial Associations mentioned in the previous chapter and also, for much of the glorification of the Lost Cause. In spite of the fact that there was much sentiment for the "old days" expressed in these meetings, there are many indications that these same soldiers' reunions strengthened and reinforced, and in some cases, no doubt, created the spirit of rapprochement. Many of the speakers, such as Robert Dabney and Charles C. Jones, Jr., did, indeed, laud the Old South and speak with religious fervor for the return of the prewar conditions, but many others looked to the future of the South and its role in a re-united America. As Eaton has written recently, the "Confederate veterans as the years passed, transformed the crass realities of war into something noble and glorious. For them and their descendants the lost cause passed into the realm of emotion and myth."4 This analysis should go a step further and say that to a significant degree, through these reunions, the nation's wounds were slowly healed and that perhaps these events were the most important catalysts in the reconciliation process. At any rate, the importance of these ceremonial occasions cannot be overlooked by those wishing to understand the myths and the realities by which the South has lived in the post-war century.
Charles C. Jones, Jr., a leading late nineteenth-century Georgia historian, and long-time president of the Augusta, Georgia, Confederate Survivors Association, described his organization in this way:
The Confederate Survivors Association consists of Confederate veterans. Every man who served under the Southern colors is admissible on being vouched for by two comrades and giving in his rank and command. Quarterly meetings are held, and on the 26th of April each year, Memorial Day, the Association has its annual meeting, and after the transaction of business drinks in silence and standing a toast to the Confederate dead. At the funeral of each member, a detail, and sometimes the whole association, attends with a war-worn, tattered, and smoke-grimed stand of Confederate colors. The maimed members, those who have lost arm or leg, are the color guard.5
A further example of the purpose and scope of these various veterans organizations is described in the charter of the Robert E. Lee Camp of the Confederate Veterans, Alexandria, Virginia:
... to perpetuate the memories of their fallen comrades, and to minister, as far as practicable, to the wants of those who were permanently disabled in the service, to preserve and maintain that sentiment of fraternity born of hardships and dangers shared in the march, the bivouac and the battlefield. It is proposed not to prolong the animosities engendered by the war, but to extend to their late adversaries, on every fitting occasion, courtesies which are always proper between soldiers, and which in their case a common citizenship demands at their hands. They propose to avoid everything which partakes of partisan-ship in religion and politics, but at the same time they will lend their aid to the maintenance of law and the preservation of order.6
A large order for a voluntary association, but one which it typically tried to fill in the years before the turn of the century. By the late 1890 s death was claiming more members of these groups than they were recruiting and the membership figures began to drop. But at their height, the veterans' organizations in Dixie were viable and formidable obstac1es to intersectional animosity and disharmony.
There must have been some concern by some citizens, however, that these reunions would generate and rekindle intersectional bitterness. As noted just above, the Robert E. Lee Camp felt compelled to state explicitly that their meetings would not "prolong the animosities engendered by the war." General Samuel McGowan speaks in this same vein at the reunion of Orr's Rifles in Walhalla, South Carolina, in July, 1875, when he remarks that, "This reunion of old soldiers is not intended, and we must not allow it to have the effect of rekindling again the old fires of strife."7 In somewhat the same manner, Governor John B. Gordon says in the opening remarks of his 1887 address before the Confederate Survivors' Association in Augusta, Georgia:
In discussing this subject I shall indulge in no criticisms of other sections. If I know the spirit of this people, or my own, we love our country -- our whole country -- because it is our country. We would strengthen and not weaken the bonds of cordial respect and fraternity that bind it together in a perpetual union of free and equal states.8
McGowan describes what he sees as the typical reunion and its function:
Let us in peace and in quiet, without malice or hatred to any, hold sweet converse one with another, talk over the past with all its hopes and fears, joys and sorrows; recount the stories of the bivouac and the camp-fire, and as we pass, drop a silent tear over the sweet memory of some comrade whom we buried on the battlefield, and recall the long marches and bloody battles in which we suffered and struggled, hungered and toiled, and fought and bled together.
This reunion of Orr's Rifles apparently fulfilled its orator's expectations, for the Charleston newspaper editorialized:
The reunion of the Survivor's of Orr's Rifles was everything that the most ardent Confederate and patriotic citizen could wish -- no bitterness, no discontent, only a loving pride in the soldiers who fell, a fond recollection of the days that are past, and a fixed determination to be as true to their new allegiance as these brave riflemen were to the cause of the South.9
Not only were the veterans' reunions not designed to stir up hatred and bitterness, the veterans themselves were in the forefront of the drive for reconciliation. According to McGowan, "It is not the soldier who has smelt gunpowder, but the selfish politician, who wishes to perpetuate strife between the parties to the late contest." Then, in reference to Horace Greely's "bloody chasm", he says, "If the difficulties between the sections had been left to the soldiers at Appomattox, the 'bloody chasm' would have been crossed at once by an improvised pontoon bridge, the work of both armies."
Indeed, the veterans had already done much to alleviate the strains and hateful memories of the war. General Evander M. Law of South Carolina, in an 1890 address at Richmond to the annual reunion of the Army of Northern Virginia, praises General Grant:
Ulysses S. Grant, the Union hero and President, was never greater in all his eventful career than when, with the destinies of the two armies in his hands, he reconstructed the Union by the terms given at Appomattox. A reconstruction which, if allowed to stand, would have quickly healed the wounds of war, and left no bloody chasm to be bridged by the devilish devices of pestilent politicians.10
General Thomas Logan asserts to the reunion celebration of the Hampton Legion in 1875 that:
The soldiers, as well of the North as of the South, have prepared the way for reconciliation. Their policy has been 'forget, forgive, conclude and be agreed,' and if it had been left to them, the animosities of the war would long since have been buried. The liberal sentiments of Bartlett [a Union general] and others would have restored amity and good feeling, and the whole country would have thus received new impetus in its career of progress and prosperity.11
Although in 1875, General Logan could only say that the veterans had "prepared the way for reconciliation," within a decade, orators were more positive in their assertions that the nation was one again. Charles E.R. Drayton, in a brief address before the 1885 reunion of the Washington Light Infantry, of Charleston, South Carolina, assumes that the country was united when he says:
My fellow-countrymen, the day we celebrate is one around which clusters of the affectionate gratitude of more than fifty millions of American freemen. To-day we commemorate the one hundred and fifty-third birthday of the most remarkable man whose name is written upon the tablets of history... Such days as the one we celebrate are the national altars of the great American Republic.12
Drayton goes on to assert that "an era of good feeling and fraternal patriotism has at last dawned upon the people of this great Republic."
Two years later, General Gordon assumed that the Union was restored when he linked the funeral ceremonies held for President Grant with the celebration held in Montgomery, Alabama, for President Davis. This reconciliation emphasis was not unusual for Governor Gordon, for he was considered a leader of the reconciliation movement. As early as 1875 he was speaking in northern Mississippi at Holly Springs in a manner which was described by a Southern reporter as "conservative, breathing a spirit of reconciliation and good feeling and eulogizing Federal soldiers."13 Governor, Senator, railroad magnate, military hero, and a man of unusually attractive features, Gordon became a "popular idol in the South and the incarnation of the Lost Cause in the North."14 One of the biographical sketches of Gordon quotes the New York Times as characterizing the Georgian as "the ablest man of the South in the House of Congress."15 His fame and respect were also strong in the South, for when the United Confederate Veterans organization was formed in 1890 the General was elected the Commander and he retained that post until his death in 1904.16 In October, 1887, Gordon went to Ohio to support the Democratic Party candidate for Governor, Thomas Powell, against the charges of bloody shirt oratory which had been leveled by J.B. Foraker and John Sherman, Ohio Republican leaders. In a November 1 speech at Cleveland, the Georgian says:
I am profoundly impressed with the conviction that the sooner the barriers which divide Ohio and Georgia are broken down, the better for your interests and mine. I have sometimes thought that I would be willing to see one more war, that we might march under the stars and stripes, shoulder to shoulder, against a common foe. If I could call the lightning down tonight, I would blast forever this horrible feeling of sectional hate.17
Long a figure of national renown for his reconciliation sentiments, Gordon was most sincere when in 1887 he linked the North's great hero with the South's former President in a statement which takes for granted the oneness of the Nation:
It was my melancholy pleasure to take part in the funeral honors paid to the North's greatest hero, General U.S. Grant. Every soldier and citizen who took part in that greatest pageant of modern times; every child who, with loving hands, placed flowers upon his bier; and every stone that shall hereafter be placed in the monument to his memory, will but add to northern manhood and northern character. So on the other hand the almost equally great demonstration in the South one year ago, over the living president of the dead Confederacy, was potential in the formation of southern character. Every bonfire that blazed on the streets of Montgomery; every cannon shot that shook its hills; every rocket that flew on fiery wing through the midnight air; every teardrop that stole down the cheeks of patriotic southern women, was a contribution to the self-respect, the character, and the manhood of southern youth.
In this passage we also see an example of Gordon's rhetoric which led Richard M. Weaver to remark about the Georgian: "John B. Gordon also belongs to the group which never outlived a disposition to see the war as a contest of chivalry."18 He goes on to say that with Gordon, one finds "himself back in the heroic age. Every leader is a knight, brave, true, magnanimous; every woman is a high-souled heroine, devoting herself to her lord and comforting him in his hardships."19 These traits of chivalry and manhood and the usual Southern respect for womanhood find rich expression in this speech made by Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, April 26, 1887, at the ninth annual reunion of the Confederate Survivors' Association. Undoubtedly, by identifying so heavily with these traditional Southern values for support, Gordon's rhetoric was well-received by his audience.
James Webb Throckmorton, former Texas Governor and a Brigadier General in the Civil War, also implies that the nation was reunited in a June 27, 1889, address to a reunion of HoodÕs soldiers in Waco, Texas.20 Throckmorton had studied both law and medicine in Kentucky before coming to Texas in 1841. He served as a surgeon in the Mexican War and practiced both legal and medical science in Texas before entering into a political career. Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1851, he served until 1856 when he was elected to the Texas Senate, a post he held until 1861. He was a member of the Texas Secession Convention, and although he voted against secession, after war began he served as an officer in the Confederate Army. In 1864 he became a General in the Texas Militia and served as a commander on the Northwest border of Texas.
After the end of hostilities, Throckmorton was a delegate and the presiding officer in the reconstruction government created by President Andrew Johnson. He was easily elected Governor in 1866 by a four to one margin, but was removed from office by General Sheridan the following year and resumed his law practice in Collin County, Texas. The Governor's political role lapsed until 1875 when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He served in Washington for four years, then returned for two more terms in 1883. He died in McKinney, Texas, in 1894.21
Although most of his 1889 speech is comprised of tedious summary accounts of General Robert E. Lee's battles against overwhelming odds and references to the actions of Hood's Brigade in these battles, there are portions devoted to the reconciliation message. Most of this reunion oratory is based on Throckmorton's assumption that the nation is once again reunited. The orator points out that there are soldiers present in the audience who fought on both sides in the Civil War and that also present are those who had fought in the war of Texas Independence and in the Mexican War. He asserts, "It is fit and proper that the soldiers of all our wars should meet and mingling together commemorate the deeds of their comrades in arms." He goes on to say:
We are American citizens; we are descendants of the heroes and statesmen who won our independence and established a government dedicated to human liberty. We all share alike in the fame won at Bunker Hill and Yorktown, at Lundy's Lane and New Orleans, at the Alamo and San Jacinto, at Buena Vista and Chapultapec; and we are justly proud of the renown won by the heroes who fought at Shiloh, Manassas, at the Wilderness and Gettysburg, regardless of the banner under which they fought.
The soldiers of the civil war who wore the blue fought for the supremacy of the Union. Those who wore the gray fought for their firesides and for principles dear to the American heart -- implanted there by the fathers of the Republic.
In a fine rhetorical stroke which helps to affirm the reunion spirit, Throckmorton links both Lee and Grant as he says that both these men, and their officers and soldiers,
will occupy a s brilliant a page in the military annals of the world as any whose deeds me recorded there. Their splendid achievements belong to the history of our common country, and are not surpassed, if equaled, by those of any people, ancient or modern, and are the heritage of a common people whether won under the stars and stripes or the stars and bars. As has been said on another occasion, the memories that cluster around the deeds of the soldiers of the civil war, the living as well as the dead, should teach us that we are one people -- that we cannot and should not be divided.
The orator then favorably compares Pickett's charge and Hood's attack at Gettysburg -- "the daring achievements of any age our county" -- with the "valor of the stern warriors who saved the Federal army from defeat on that field of death and glory." Again, this linking of the bravery of both armies would serve to create an aura of national unity: both armies were American, and both were courageous. By applauding both Northern and Southern pride in the armed valor of each side, he hoped to move his auditors to accept his basic reconciliation premise that re-union is best for all the nation's people. If he could show them that both sides were brave, then they would be more likely to feel as brothers. Texas was still frontier country in 1889 and a place where the auditors could be expected to prize highly the individualistic frontier virtues of courage and valor. Throckmorton appealed skillfully to those values and, therefore, deepened the reconciliation spirit in his listeners.
Throckmorton's entire reconciliation message strikes a thoroughly positive, optimistic attitude about the re-uniting process. He simply assumes, in 1889, that it has occurred and that all his listeners are not only aware of the fact, but rejoice in it. For the Texan, the nation was one; the war proved "we are one people -- that we cannot and should not be divided."
General E.M. Law, in his Richmond address the following year, also uses this common assertion that "the heroism of both victor and vanquished will be claimed as the common heritage of the American people." Law goes on to conclude that he hopes "every section might unite in a spirit of loyal brotherhood to meet every danger that threatens, in any and every part of our wide domain." He urges nation-wide support of the original constitution, that is, a states' rights approach for government. Law pledges that the states of the South stood ready to carry the nation's "banner triumphantly through every peril."
The printed text claims that the orator was "frequently applauded during his address, and at its close he was warmly congratulated by many of those who heard him," so Law's message must have been effective for his audience. In addition, a member of the Association, Reverend Dr. J.J. William Jones, moved that the group officially thank General Law and that they request a copy of his address so that it might be published. Doubtless that public expression of confidence aided in strengthening the audience's apparently positive reception of the speech.
Returning to the former Texas Governor, we hear his claim, "The dark clouds of war have rolled away; the bitterness of the strife engendered by the war, and the wounds inflicted by it have been assuaged." He then points out that the Southern soldiers who died on Northern battlefields and in Northern prisons and hospitals have their graves tended by the widows of the Northern men who died in the South, and "the graves of Northern soldiers who lie buried in the South are tenderly cared for by the fair women whose homes they invaded." General Throckmorton then closes this passage of reunion rhetoric by calling on God to extend the virtues of "charity and forgiveness" until they pervade the "heart of every fair woman and manly breast throughout the length and breadth of our glorious country; even until there shall not be a sorehead in the South, or a scurvy partisan in the North, to mar the harmony and beauty of a united and prosperous country."
One reason that these orators claimed that the nation was again reunited lies in the assertion made by Drayton that Anglo-Saxons are magnanimous. As he expresses it to the Washington Light Infantry:
On the field of carnage, the Anglo-Saxon may rend and destroy with the ferocity of the wild beast, but when the struggle is ended and the sword returned to its scabbard, and the dead are buried, and the tents are silently folded away reason asserts her empire, and he becomes the most magnanimous and conservative of the whole human family. You have helped to make this demonstration clear in the midst of all the splendid moral and material accomplishments of this prolific century.
Drayton, alone of all the veterans' reunion speakers surveyed in this chapter, believed the Union is stronger because the war had purged the nation of its problems. He had begun his 1885 address by reinforcing a spirit of national pride and unity of intersectional feeling as he stressed the entire nation's respect for Washington. "Such days as the one we celebrate are the national altars of the great American Republic." Drayton then remarks:
We can all meet together on this memorable day to kindle anew the fires of patriotism, and thank God that we are American citizens; thank God that the fires of civil war are extinguished; that sectional strife and animosities are flitting away before the steady tramp of a progressive and expansive patriotism, that impels the Northman and the Southron to clasp hands in bonds of brotherly sympathy 'neath the folds of a starry banner, representing a Union made dearer and more precious by the fierce struggles and sufferings of the past -- a Union purged of the curse of slavery, an indestructible Union of co-equal States.
Surely this theme, almost an Old Testament pronouncement, had a strong appeal to the strongly religious Southerner.
Although this speech is unusually short, Drayton expresses his conviction that peace had occurred between the sections and that Southerners could fully and convincingly support the cause of national unity. Indeed, that is his basic theme. He gains support for it through praise of his audience, the Washington Light Infantry, and their role in promoting harmony by participating in the Revolutionary War Centennial celebrations in the North and by praising the Southerner George Washington, who had done so much for the nation. If the auditors rejected reconciliation, according to Drayton, they would be rejecting what Washington himself stood for: national unity. And doubtless, Washington was second possibly only to Lee in the hearts of post-bellum Charlestonians. Short though they are, Drayton's remarks, through his use of the rhetorical strategy of audience praise and by presenting Washington as a model to follow, contribute their share to mending the split nation.
Another common theme employed by three of the reunion speakers -- MCGowan, Gordon, and Throckmorton -- is a simple and direct plea to their listeners to adopt a stance of national harmony and trust which will bridge the intersectional chasm. As early as 1875 -- and in the heart of the Confederacy at that -- General McGowan urges the Orr's Rifles at Walhalla, South Carolina:
Let every one who was a good soldier in the past do his best, as a good citizen in the future, to create kind and fraternal relations between the sections, and to maintain that mutual respect, which alone can make the condition of the South, as a part of the Government, tolerable to a defeated, but proud and high-spirited people.
Twelve years later, in Augusta, Georgia, Gordon uses this same approach as he advocates to the Confederate Survivors:
Wedded inseparably to the constitutional rights of the
States, let us cultivate, by all legitimate means, a broad nationality
embracing the whole union of States. Here hangs above us the flag of that
union. Let us honor it as the emblem of freedom, of equality, and unity --
remembering that there is not a star on its blue field which is not made
brighter by light reflected from the southern skies -- not a white line in its
folds but what is made whiter and purer by the South's incorruptible record --
not one of its crimson stripes that is not deeper and richer from southern
blood shed in its defense in all of the wars with foreign powers.
Out in the frontier
state of the Confederacy, General Throckmorton counsels the same course of
action to Hood's Brigade at Waco, Texas in 1889:
May we not invoke the veterans of our entire country,
the survivors of all our wars, and our people everywhere, in the name of the
living as well as the dead -- in this our day of peace and prosperity -- to
renew upon the altars of our country eternal devotion and loyalty to its
institutions, and supplicate the aid and blessings of heaven that we, and those
to come after us, shall preserve our liberty, 'the Union of the States, now and
forever one and inseparable.'
Although all of the speeches discussed in this chapter are replete with passages designed to encourage and reinforce intersectional reconciliation, one stands above the others in this regard. From a rhetorically artistic point of view, the address General Thomas Muldrup Logan made to the reunion of the Hampton Legion in Parker's Hall, Columbia, South Carolina, on July 21, 1875, is perhaps the best of this group of reunion orations, and thus deserves a closer inspection. Logan, who had been the South's youngest general officer, was born in Charleston and educated at South Carolina College before moving to Richmond, Virginia, after the war where he became a wealthy and influential lawyer and railroad executive.22
The newspaper reports of the speech were not as glowing as they so often were on occasions such as this one, but the reporters did remark that the speech was "highly spoken of by all who heard it,"23 and that the address was "well-considered."24
In spite of newspaper assertions that the reunion was to have "no political significance,"25 it is difficult today to accept this statement in view of the fact that Wade Hampton, the commander of the Legion, was busily engaged in 1875 organizing his campaign to "redeem" South Carolina from the Republican rule which it had been under for the past ten years. His "Red Shirts" were formed with a strong nucleus of former Confederate soldiers, many of whom doubtless spent much time at this reunion discussing South Carolina politics, Negro intimidation tactics, and plotting the overthrow of the Radical regime. The Red Shirts and Rifle Clubs harrassed the political meetings of South Carolina Republicans in the crucial election of 1876;26 their campaign of Negro intimidation and "force without violence" was so successful that Hampton was elected to the Governorship of the state.27 This veterans' reunion could not have been devoid of political overtones. In this context, it is somewhat surprising that this oration by Logan contains as much reconciliation sentiment as it does.
It is Logan's belief that man should be basically hopeful and optimistic about life; this is the mood projected in the introduction and sustained through the entire speech. This feeling of hope supports his reconciliation message because much of what he is saying sustains the image that the Nation is reunited and that the sections have bridged the "bloody chasm." He says that the reunion of the Legion is being held mainly for the purpose of honoring the past, but reminds his listeners that, at the same time, they must look confidently to the future and prepare for it as a part of a reunited country.
Logan's first main point in the body of the speech consists of an analogy that some" eminent writer on social science" has devised between the body politic and animal organisms; this analogy is referred to at several points in the address, and contributes significally to the speaker's reconciliation message, as it describes metaphorically how Logan sees the nation's development after the War Between the States. The simple, according to the analogy, always tends to become complex, the small becomes large, the organism moves from a state of independence to a state of dependence. Logan carries the comparison a step further by saying the arteries and veins of an animal are similar in function to the telegraph lines of the country. Logan urges his audience to keep this analogy in mind as he develops his speech because he believes it is an apt illustration.
The speaker then asserts that the American nation has grown by these inevitable natural laws into a "vast social organism."28 No longer is the country a mere aggregation of states, but is "so far advanced in its growth as a national body politic ... that unity is a necessity of its further development." The inevitable laws of nature decreed that the Confederacy could not have won the Civil War and were the deciding factors in the North's victory, regardless how hard others may look elsewhere to find the answer to the South's defeat. The South has now "accepted the result, and there is now nothing surer in the political world, than that this country will continue in the future a united nation." Due to the recent development of the network of veins and arteries (the American railroad system) and the nerves of the organism (the telegraph) the nation is now governable from coast to coast. Previously, one of the major objections to a federal type of government was that the vast reaches of the continent prevented effective, efficient government. Now, says Logan, these barriers have been removed by progress. "The future is not for State, but for national development, and we [the South] recognize the fact."
Next, Logan proclaims his belief in the future destiny of a strong and united nation. Compared to the states of Europe, the United States is in a far better position for rapid growth and development. For one thing, this country does not drain its resources by maintaining a large standing army as do the nations of Europe. Again, this nation is superior because of our "mixture of blood of different nations of the same race." This trait or national characteristic, is supposed to produce "vigor, energy, and vitality"; how this process occurs his audience is not told. Because of these factors, as well as climate, soil, and location, "a vast empire is in process of formation." Throughout this early part of the speech, Logan is creating a positive, optimistic mood which will motivate his listeners to accept the fact that they are a part of a powerful, free, and independent nation. He is attempting, and with success, to instill a sense of pride in the United States and a feeling that both sections can work together to achieve greatness.
General Logan then moves from this discussion of the unified nation's optimistic future to a major topic of his speech: the future of the Southern region. First, he asks the question, "What effect will the overthrow of our social and industrial system [i.e., slavery] have upon our region?" Although he does not depict the outcome as being clear, in keeping with his generally positive tone, he believes that progress will result from the new system. "An unprejudiced consideration of the subject unquestionably justified the opinion, that our capacity for progress has been increased, and that the present opportunities for developing our resources are greater than are [sic] possible under the old regime."
Surprisingly, for a native Southerner and former Confederate General speaking in 1875 to an audience of basically unredeemed South Carolina rebels, Logan admits that, "The material resources of the South had been developed to a very limited extent, as compared with her population and wealth, hence we have always been, in this respect, the most helpless and dependent people of the civilized world." He even goes a step further to admit that the NorthÕ s "rapid increase of population and general diffusion of wealth" was a characteristic of the Northern section that should be envied and copied by the defeated Confederacy. In fact, Logan implies at several points that the SouthÕs best interests financially will be served by the section's becoming reconciled and adopting a more materialistic approach to life.
Since the South has been through fifteen years of turmoil and suffering, Logan reminds his audience, her people "appreciate now the importance of developing all our resources, and will no doubt, realize the necessity of Labor in all its forms as the means of material success, but also to honor it as an essential condition of social progress." If the South will recognize the important factor of work in the economy, then she should gain her "full share of prosperity." If Bertelson is accurate in his assessment of the "Lazy South,"29 Logan and other "New South" advocates who called for the Southern people to adopt the industrialized ways of the North were flying in the face of a cultural tradition in which leisure was a meaningful expression of a way of life. In other words, they were denying one of the essences of what was Southern about the South. Whether the auditor would realize it or not is another question, but Logan was clearly out of step with the accepted cultural mores of his society. He is, however, clear and forceful in his admonition concerning work; in his attempt to make this point vivid for his listeners, Logan uses the Biblical testimony, "By the sweat of thy brow thou shalt earn thy bread."
In an obvious attempt
to identify with his audience's values and background, Logan next discusses how
difficult it is for the older citizen to adapt to a changing society and to the
evils perpetrated upon the South by the Reconstruction governments. For Logan,
"The sorrows and horrors of war were exceeded by the evils of
reconstruction." Even though South Carolina is still under Republican rule
and, therefore, the "misrule" is vivid and current to the listener,
it is difficult to see how the "excesses" of Reconstruction could be
worse than the evils of total warfare practiced by the combatants in the civil
struggle. But for Logan and his South Carolina audience, this view of
Reconstruction was real and the "myth" by which they and succeeding
generations of Southerners lived. At any rate, the newspaper assertion that
this reunion was to be non-political can be easily refuted by this portion and
by later sections of the speech in which the orator describes and attacks the
unjust rule of the Republican Party control of the state government. Although
this passage seems to indicate an "anti-reconciliation" bent, in
fact, it probably helped to reunite for it gave the Southerners in the audience
a scapegoat for their problems: the Radical Republicans. As Logan later
expressed it, the evils of the era were placed at the feet of the leadership of
the Republican Party. These scheming politicians wanted to perpetuate
themselves in power and therefore achieve their political salvation by
capitalizing on the emotions stirred by war. Logan is almost vicious in his
attack on these men -- although he does not call them by name:
The reconstruction measures, it is true, were not only
oppressive and tyrannical-- conceived in hate and born in iniquity -- but they
resulted from a gross and unscrupulous abuse of power by a radical faction,
whose legislation was a disgrace to American people, claiming, as they do, to
teach and lead the world in the art of free government. We should not, however,
hold the people responsible [emphasis his].
This attack on the Republicans not only serves to identify Logan more closely with the values of his audience, it also helps to overcome any audience dissatisfaction he might have created when he asserted that the demise of slavery was doubtless good for the South and that the South needed to follow the lead of the North in developing industry and commerce.
After this attack on
the Republican Party Radicals, General Logan returns to his analogy as he
observes that the national government has "become consolidated." But
he cautions that one must remember,
with the growth and
development of the country, there was necessarily the usual change from the
homogeneous to the heterogeneous, from the simple to the complex, from the weak
and purely Federal republic of the past, to the strong and powerful nation of
to-day; but this was only in accordance with the law of progress itself,
and arose from the necessity of the case, in the growth of the 'social
In order to settle the fears of those auditors who would feel that stronger federal government weakens local government, Logan asserts that there is "no real incompatibility between the two." In fact, the "present revulsion against the centralizing policy of the Republican party will result in the recognition of all constitutional restrictions, and check any tendency to further consolidation."
Change in the organism also produces opposite changes through reaction. Logan believes that this reaction has occurred in our process of national development. "Corrective and harmonizing agencies have been developed, which supply adequate counteracting influences; and I hesitate not to affirm that the equilibrium will be preserved, and the resultant be real progress." In other words, the South will be able to maintain and even increase her power in the national councils, because her beliefs in local government and constitutional checks and balances upon the power of the central government will be upheld by this natural reaction.
The next step in the speech is to describe what these "corrective and harmonizing agencies" are. In the first place, there has been increased influence of public opinion over governmental policy and action which has occurred due to the "new media" of the telegraph and the railroad, "those two great adjuncts to the printing press in diffusing knowledge." Not only do they spread knowledge more broadly, they also "bring the citizens of all sections into direct and immediate communication with each other, if not into personal conference." In short, public opinion has become more consolidated at the same time that government has become more amalgamated.
While the railroads and telegraph have united public opinion, the national press has become more free and responsive to the needs of the people. This evolution has increased their influence on the citizens' well-being. In the beginning of the nation's press history, the papers were forced to "become the organ of some party, individual, or particular interest," but in the decade of the 1870's Logan sees them as "independent pecuniarily, as well as in principle." Thus, we can see that "while the vast patronage and power [of] the national Government would have been regarded formerly as inevitably subversive of our institutions, yet we have no such apprehensions, because an active, fearless and powerful independent press is now always ready (and is able) to attack and expose corruption."
Next the orator moves into a discussion of how the ordeals of reconstruction were overcome even while the South was out of power in Washington. He says the North has always desired an increase of wealth and population and an ever-stronger central government, while the "Southern people have always been conservative -- opposing every encroachment of national authority, and thus exerted a restraining influence of the centralizing tendency of the North." If the equilibrium between the two sections had existed after the war, the Congress would have eventually evolved a system in which both sections could have been protected. The North could have had a government strong enough to protect its financial institutions and wealth; and at the same time the South could have had its full local rights and its individual freedom. With the absence of the South in the decision-making councils of state, however, this equilibrium was temporarily destroyed. "But the dangers were at last appreciated by the North, and the reaction of public opinion became so great as, even in Massachusetts, to hurl the Republican party from power. The South is now again on a footing of equality ... her conservative influence will be available and may be relied on."
What the nation now needs most of all, according to Logan, is for the South at long last to acquire the habits of thrift and energy possessed by the North.30 With these traits she would build up her cities, and "in short, develop as rapidly as possible all her material resources." North of the Mason-Dixon line, the people should "check any further tendency to centralization, whether in the executive, legislative or judicial department." In summary, "While we [the South] should study more the science and art of wealth, they [the North] should study more the science and art of government." Doubtless this passage in which Logan instructs the North as to its conduct was received enthusiastically by the Confederate veterans assembled in Columbia.
Although Logan has introduced his theme of reconciliation at various points in the oration, notably in his basic contention that this nation is on the verge of greatness with both sections striving together toward this end, and through the use of his extended "social organism" analogy which implies that the nation is again united, he now develops a lengthy portion devoted entirely to the reunion message. In this year of centennial observances, the nation is offering on the altar of union the sacrifices of prejudice. Logan, in an appropriate and effective reference to a timely, current topic, believes that the celebrations will "restore reunion in feeling as well as in form." General McGowan and Charles Drayton also refer to the national centennial celebrations as lending support to the reunion of the country; so apparently this is a common theme for speakers who wished to speak of reconciliation. Logan is careful to say that "permanent reconciliation and true friendship must be based upon mutual respect and equality." He then moves into a lengthy discussion of the fact that both sides in the recent armed conflict must recognize what each section "has accomplished for the common good." The North, with its emphasis upon wealth and industry, has contributed most to the "physical world" of material development, while the South has been much more concerned with the "moral world," that is, with the development of "true manhood, of broad and pure statesmanship and high public character."
Continuing with this theme, Logan pleads for the South to be proud of the contributions made by the North to the nation's well-being. In addition, the Southerner must not be ashamed at the South's lack of physical wealth but to be proud of what the South had created and given to the nation. This demand that the South be proud of what it had contributed was a significant and valuable point for Logan to make to the South Carolinians. The South had been defeated in the forum and had been crushed on the battlefield: the two areas of its cultural 1ife in which it had seen itself as standing supreme. Add to these defeats, the humiliation of ten years of "carpet-bag misrule" and one can easily see that the SouthÕs self-esteem was weak. For Logan to attempt to rebuild that self-concept is a worthwhile but difficult task. A defeated, pessimistic, and almost paranoic attitude was a strong legacy to the Civil War and Reconstruction years; to assauge this would be conducive to the realization of reconciliation.
The speaker illustrates what the South had rendered to the nation by mentioning famous names of the early national period: Jefferson, Madison, Marshall, Laurens, Rutledge, Pinckney, and, of course, Washington. In addition, he points out that the South has great "valor and heroism" which will be available to the nation in time of future need. He does not illustrate that valor and heroism, but simply assumes that his listeners know it exists and can supply their own examples. In addition, not only has the South given Washington to the nation and the world, she has also given the "exalted and majestic character of her Lee as personifying and embodying her highest aspirations."
As Logan continues his extended plea for reconciliation, he admonishes the nation and reminds the South that
we should beware of overlooking the value of moral worth. There is something to be cultivated by our people far more important than physical progress, without which no national prosperity can be real or permanent . . . in the name of a common country's welfare, we should, in these later days of worldly progress, all unite in urging the importance of cultivating and cherishing a high moral tone -- purity as well as force of public character.
Still following this discussion of the SouthÕs contribution and the pride it should compel, Logan next shows how the Southern armies in the war stressed the individualism of the private soldier, and how the "use of temporary and hastily-constructed earth-works in the field, to supply the deficiency of numbers, was another equally striking feature of our Confederate tactics."
Still another Southern contribution was the fact, according to General Logan, that the war effort made by the South will be recorded on the pages of history as "a peopleÕs protest against interference." Although this part of the speech text is confusing and poorly unified, Logan makes the point that the issue upon which the South went to war was secession, "and the arbitrament of the sword decided against it." But the principle for which the South fought was "social self-government." The North condemned the issue of secession, and against the principle of self-government they raised the equal principle of loyalty and allegiance. Logan claims that both sides cherish the principles of freedom (self-government) and loyalty, and both now see that the issue of secession is dead. These two basic principles -- freedom and allegiance -- have furnished the "basis for that enlarged spirit of reconciliation which now pervades the country."
Logan concludes the address with a lengthy discussion on the greatest leaders of the Confederate cause: Lee and Jackson. He also includes General Wade Hampton in that list, as would be appropriate for the occasion, but he does not defend or elaborate on that judgment. Doubtless Hampton played an important role as a cavalry leader in the war, but one would be hard pressed to defend his leadership above that of Forrest or Stuart, for example. Most of these concluding remarks are saved for a eulogy of Lee, which ends: "May his grand character as a bright example, a shining light, bless his countrymen to remotest generations." There is some question about textual authenticity at this point, as the text seems to end rather abruptly. Perhaps this was indeed the end of the speech, but it seems more likely that the newspaper account of the address stops before the actual oration was concluded. (No other account of the speech has been found.)
General Logan extensively develops the idea that the South has been able from the beginning of the nation's history to contribute to the welfare of the United States. This strategy helps build a mood of reconciliation for his listeners -- or, at least, makes them more receptive to the reunion message. In the first place, by encouraging his listeners to understand what the South has done in the past for the nation and to ask them to agree that the South has indeed made these contributions, Logan presents a base for future Southern leadership. To be sure, there were members of the Hampton Legion who could not care less what the South could give to the nation in the decades to come. But if they were made to see how their section had already devoted much time and effort to the nation's history, they might be induced to make further contributions of time and effort in the future.
In the second place, by making his listeners aware of what the South had done, Logan could perhaps open the rebel mind to what the North had been able to furnish the nation. By spending much more time discussing what the South had done, Logan makes it appear that the Southern states had rendered the greater service to the nation. Through this appeal to Southern pride, the defeated Confederate could be more willing to accept the fact that the North had also made some contribution to American culture; therefore, he would have to admit that both sections had something to offer the country. In addition, much what the South had contributed were concepts such as "true manhood," "broad and pure statesmanship," and "high public character." After Logan had reminded the audience that they possessed these particular personality traits, the listeners could hardly do less than forgive and forget and allow themselves and their region to become reconciled with the victor.
A Charleston reporter evaluated the speech in words which today appear accurate and appropriate when he wrote that the address "is emphatic in its advocacy of reconciliation and reunion; inspiring and hopeful in its faith in the future of the South";31 he could have added "and the nation." Through his appeals to Southern pride and past results of Southern contributions, Logan created an atmosphere conducive to future Southern participation in national life and strongly reinforced a feeling for fraternal harmony between the sections. If enough Southerners could have proclaimed along with Logan, "The war prejudices are at last buried, the bloody chasm is finally bridged, and all the dark clouds that lowered over us have entirely disappeared from our political sky," the animosities which have lingered into the mid-twentieth century might have been lessened.
This speech occasion was perhaps the most difficult of any surveyed in this study, given the audience and the time. But by skillfully using an extended analogy which implied by its very nature that the nation was one law, by giving the listeners a scapegoat for the troubles, by showing how important the South had been for the nation's history and for its future and by always presenting an optimistic and positive view of the nationÕs prospects, Logan met the demands of the situation.
It would be useful to compare the two speakers who addressed veterans' reunions in 1875, General Logan and General McGowan, in an effort to determine their unique characteristics as speakers. Both speeches were given in the twilight years of the reconstruction effort in the South and both delivered in what was probably the most unredeemed state in the former Confederacy, South Carolina. These two former Generals were speaking essentially to the same type of audience, a group of former rebel soldiers, and at the same type of occasion, the reunion of a former unit of the Confederate forces. What is different about their speeches?
McGowan is obviously the more pessimistic in his outlook on life and the Southern past. He says that the old soldier has nothing left except his memories. Pessimistically, he reminds his listeners that the former Confederate has to fend for himself because his government was defeated. He is also quite past-oriented in his address. He recalls the bivouac and the battlefield on which his comrades lived and died for their cause, and seems to be honestly sad at the death of his friends and fellow-warriors.
While his mood is essentially past-oriented and pessimistic, McGowan is at the same time the more realistic of the two speakers concerning the status of reconciliation. McGowan's rhetorical strategy of looking back to the past and at the same looking forward to the future and saying that peace was on its way for the former soldiers on both sides of the chasm is more realistic and honest. By calling up the images and feelings of the past in great detail and length, he doubtless identifies closely with the audience and is thereby effective. Logan is more optimistic in his overview of the South and is more willing to overlook the real sectional problems which still existed at the time he gives this speech. In terms of the ultimate value of the two speeches to the listeners who heard them, Logan's speech, focusing as it did on the potential future of the South and the nation, and his ability to point out specific areas with which the South had to deal in order to meet that potential fit the needs of the audience more adequately than does the address by McGowan. The audience did not need to be reminded of its past and current problems as McGowan does so forcefully and pessimistically; the listeners needed to have their spirit boosted in 1875 before they could consider reunion, and Logan achieved this purpose effectively. In addition, Logan is more skillful rhetorically in that his extended analogy which described the social development of the country toward a stronger and more unified nation strongly suggests the theme of reconciliation and its inevitability.
In comparing the two addresses by McGowan and Logan presented in 1875 with the two speeches delivered in 1889 and 1890 by Throckmorton and Law, one finds a substitution of timely reconciliation themes. In 1875, both orators stress the importance of the 1876 Centennial celebrations in the reconciliation process. For the observance of the nation's anniversary would help foster national unity. By 1889-1890, this theme had been dropped, at least Throckmorton and Law did not use it, but they, too, express an idea timely to their period: praise of General Grant. The early speakers avoid this praise -- apparently the war memories were still too vivid, but the speakers in the later years, after Grant had served as the nation's civil, as well as military leader, praised his contributions, and, above all, his magnanimity to his defeated foe.
All four speeches have a common reconciliation theme: there is good to be said for both North and South. Both sections have contributed and will continue to contribute to the good of the nation. Both sections have just claim to valorous men and great soldiers. This appeal to sectional pride was an effective tactic for the Southern reconciliation orator. If he could lead his audience to believe in him by praising the glories of Southern contributions to the nation's history, then he could more easily lead them to recognize the same virtues in the North -- often by stating that the people of both sections came from the same Anglo-Saxon stock. And if the listeners accepted those Northern virtues, then they would be more likely to feel harmony and unity with those who "weren't so different after all."
There is ample evidence that there was much anti-Union sentiment still to be overcome in the South during the 1875-1890 period of this study. Time and again, concerning these soldiers' reunions, newspaper editorialists and platform speakers made statements such as: "[The reunion] is not designed to keep up any hostile feeling between the sections of the country. It is to be rather a family gathering of people who honor each other, and meet again to renew and keep bright the memories always dear to soldiers."32 It could well be that without reunions such as these, Memorial Day celebrations, and other civic and social events which provided an opportunity for reconciliation oratory, the divided nation would have remained divided permanently. It was, however, occasions such as these reunions and the other situations described in this study which provided a natural and a national platform for the expression of fraternal spirit.
Apparently some of these veterans' reunions presented an audience situation in which the listeners expected appeals for reconciliation. For example, the newspaper account of General McGowan's address quoted verbatim only those portions of the speech which focused sharply on the reunion theme. It merely summarized the rest of the oration by saying that the speaker discussed the Orr's Rifles' action in the war and read some official reports and accounts of the battles in which the unit was involved. No doubt the fact that the newspaper chose to publish only the orator's words about the reconciliation process reflects that the desire for intersectional peace was important to the listeners who heard the speech and for the newspaper's readers, and that they expected him to speak on that subject.
There is no question that these events made a deep and abiding impression on the towns and cities where they were held. An example which is typical of these reunions and similar occasions in the post-war South is the reunion of the Confederate Survivors' Association in Augusta, Georgia, on Memorial Day, 1887, at which Governor Gordon was the featured speaker. According to the newspaper account,
The celebration of Memorial Day this year will certainly be on a grand scale, the Survivors' and Ladies' Associations having entered into the movement with great earnestness and in thorough accord. All the railroads have arranged reduced rates, and thousands of visitors will be in the city.
A committee asked all of the town's stores to close for the day. The newspaper editorialized: "It is but right that our business men should accede, for April 26th is now really the only holiday into which the city enters with any extent."33 This statement surely says much about the social life of a small Southern community in the closing decades of the nineteenth century.
All of the orators surveyed in this chapter agree that reunion should occur. But they disagree on whether it had already happened, whether it was still in the process of fruition, or whether reconciliation was still in the distant future. Doubtless this difference of opinion was based largely upon the different observations of their communities and section made by the various speakers. Whatever the reason, this non-agreement is an example of how matters of public concern so often do not have clearly defined answers or interpretations.
So far this study has
dealt with observances which are essentially military-oriented: Memorial Day
(or Decoration) Day, Monument Dedications, and Veterans' Reunions. We shall now
turn to a ceremony with a different focus: the educational situation.
1 Paul H. Buck, The Road to Reunion, 1865-1900 (New York: Random House, 1937), p. 245.
2 Ibid., pp. 245-272.
3 C. Vann Woodward, Origins of the New South, 1877-1913 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1951), p. 156.
4 Clement Eaton, The Waning of the Old South Civilization, 1860-1880's, Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures, No. 10 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1968), p. 109.
5 Charles C. Jones, Jr. Memorial History of Georgia (Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Company of Spartanburg, 1966), pp. 297-298.
6 Ceremonies and Speeches at the Dedication of the Monument to the Confederate Dead (Alexandria, Virginia, no pub., 1889), p. 3.
7 Samuel McGowan, "Address at the Reunion of Orr's Rifles," delivered at Walhalla, South Carolina, July 21, 1875. Text from The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, South Carolina), July 25, 1875.
8 John B. Gordon, Address Delivered Before the Confederate Survivors' Association, Augusta, Georgia, April 26, 1887 (Augusta, Georgia: Chronicle Publishing Company, 1887).
9 "Orr's Rifles Reunion" The News and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina), July 24, 1875.
10 Evander McIvor Law, The Confederate Revolution, An Address Delivered Before the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia, Richmond, May 28,1890 (Richmond: Wm. Ellis Jones, 1890).
11 Thomas M. Logan, "The Future of the South," delivered at Columbia, South Carolina, July 31, 1875. Text from Daily Phoenix, July 22-23, 1875.
12 Charles E.R. Drayton, Address to the Washington Light Infantry, delivered at Charleston, South Carolina, February 22,1885. (n.p., n.d.). Printed text located in The South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina.
13 The Columbia Register (Columbia, South Carolina), September 8, 1875.
14 Woodward, Origins of the New South, p. 17.
15 "Lieut. -Gen. John Brown Gordon," The Story of Georgia, Biographical Volume (New York: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1938), p. 659.
17 Huber Vv. Ellingsworth, "The Ohio Raid of General John B. Gordon," The Southern Speech Journal, XXI (Winter, 1955), p. 125.
18 Weaver, The Southern Tradition at Bay, A History of Postbellum Thought, edited by George Core and M.C. Bradford. (New York: Arlington House, 1968), p. 202.
19 Ibid., p. 203.
20 James Webb Throckmorton, "Speech Delivered at Re-Union of Hood's Soldiers" Waco, Texas, June 27, 1889 (N.P., N.D.).
21 The biographical sketch is drawn from: Walter B. Moore, "James Webb Throckmorton" News (Dallas, Texas), May 11, 1963; "James Webb Throckmorton" Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896 (Chicago: A.N. Marquis Company, 1963), p. 530.
22 Robert Douthat Meade, "Thomas Muldrup Logan," Dictionary of American Biography, XI, edited "by Dumas Malone (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933), pp. 367-368.
23 "Hampton's Legion" Daily Phoenix, July 23, 1875.
24 "Hampton's Legion" News and Courier, July 22, 1875.
Legion" Ibid., July 19, 1875.
26 Rembert W. Patrick, The Reconstruction of the Nation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967) p. 253.
27 Thomas D. Clark and Albert D. Kirwan, The South Since Appomattox, A Century of Regional Change (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 47.
28 In his study of "Science and Symbol in the Turner Frontier Hypothesis," William Coleman states that in the nineteenth century "no metaphor was so striking or so compelling as the image of the social organism ... " American Historical Review, LXXII (October, 1966), p. 25.
29 David Bertelson, The Lazy South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967).
30 As Richard M. Weaver points out in his insightful study of the post-war South, "Only when it became plain, as it did in the course of the war that inefficiency was a luxury that had to be paid for in pains and in failure, was there serious impatience with it. Later, the more farsighted Southerners were to hope that Reconstruction, with its discipline of poverty and hardship, would root out this expensive habit." Southern Tradition at Bay, pp. 240-241.
31 "Hampton's Legion" News and Courier, July 24,1875.
32 Ibid., July 19, 1875.
33 "Memorial Day" Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Georgia), April 22, 1887.