30 June 2009

Murdered For A Frying Pan

The following account is found in the excellent book The Spirit Divided - Memoirs of Civil War Chaplains - The Union, compiled and edited by Benedict R. Maryniak and John Wesley Brinsfield, Jr. The account is taken from the privately published memoirs of Union Chaplain Milton L. Haney. Haney (shown here) was one of only four chaplains to receive the Medal of Honor from service in the WBTS. Haney relates a story about a Union soldier shooting a female slave "like a beast" and how the woman found final comfort in Christ:
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The Siege of Vicksburg

Coming into Vicksburg from Black River brought great consternation to the natives, and there was a rush for the hills of the Yazoo. The slaveholders forced their slaves to go with them, though many, when they got into the hills, stole away and ran for protection to the Union Army. There were clusters of slave cabins, and as they returned, bringing what little they could, they entered these cabins. The soldiers all expected a siege, and there was a scrambling for cooking utensils for camp. A black man was carrying a frying pan and a mounted soldier ordered him to give it to him. The slave answered: "Lord Massa, I borrowed it, and promised to take it back, sir." He cursed him, but the man ran with the pan and threw it into the door of the cabin where it belonged. The soldier followed quickly and ordered the woman to give it up. She pleaded it was all she had and she could not spare it and closed the door. He deliberately got off his horse, put his musket through a crack in the cabin and fired at her. She fell like a beef and he walked in and got the frying pan and went away! Her left limb was broken above the knee, and the musket being so close the bone was badly shattered. Dr. Roller amputated the limb and cared for her till he was overtaxed with the sick and wounded and begged me to take charge of her. I brought soup and other nourishment and dressed her wound for thirty days. During that time I made use of every means I thought of to inspire courage and bring cheer to her soul, but in no case could I produce a smile. Her heart had died! She was a slave from infancy, had a child when fifteen years old, and her life had been a horror to her. When we came she, with all other slaves, recognized us as her city of refuge and at the risk of her life ran into our arms for safety, to be shot down like a beast!

One morning I went in and saw there was gangrene in her wound, and promptly told her she must die. Her face lighted up as I told her, for the first time in thirty days she smiled! It comforts me now to remember the care I took of that desolate soul. O, what wailing there will be at the judgment seat of Christ!
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25 comments:

Brboyd said...

You had better print this off and hide it somewhere. In another 5 to 10 years anything bad about Union soldiers will either be illegal to discuss or stricken from the record.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

BR:

Hopefully, your fears will go unrealized. But if history teaches those willing to listen, we know anything is possible, don't we?

Vince said...

Does this help assuage your fears?

http://cwmemory.com/2007/08/09/white-union-soldiers-race-and-the-battle-of-the-crater/

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Vince:

I'm not sure I understand your question. Some of KL's points are valid, others are overblown.

Levin has a particular and very obvious view of the WBTS and history in general, that is no secret.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Vince:

Regarding Manning's and Levin's selective quotes about how Union soldiers felt about the war being just over slavery, we can play "pull your supporting quote" all day long. That's silly.

Obviously, this particular Union soldier - regardless of how he viewed the war - showed how he really felt about the slaves who came to the Union lines for "safety."

Brboyd said...

and if the Union soldiers were so interested in freeing slaves, they could have went home and freed the ones that the EP didnt help.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

BR - true. But that would not have served Lincoln's larger agenda.

Brboyd said...

...and to respond to Vince directly: I am more particular about what I read. I doubt it would have assuaged anything.

Vince said...

"Regarding Manning's and Levin's selective quotes about how Union soldiers felt about the war being just over slavery, we can play "pull your supporting quote" all day long. That's silly. "

That is not at all the point I'm trying to make, and it is not at all the point made in Kevin Levin's post. I actually linked to it as an example of racially-motivated perceptions of the USCTs from white Union soldiers, especially their willingness to blame the USCTs first. Also, the historical works mentioned give a deeper and more robust explanation of Northern views on slavery than any quote contest.

I think this all comes back to your fundamental misunderstanding we discussed a couple weeks ago about the emancipationist vision of Civil War memory, which you described as having (maybe even built on?) "the fallacy that the Union went to war to end slavery (emancipationist)".

But that is a horribly flawed view of the emancipationist vision, clearly demonstrated by the fact that the wartime evolution of Northern views on slavery and race is a major storyline of the emancipationist vision.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Vince:

I understand completely. I just don't necessarily agree with much of that "vision". "Wartime evolution" of Northern views? There was some of that, sure. Similar, in some respects, to what was happening in the South in regards with efforts to finally enlist slaves as combat soldiers.

But the evolution, in those regards, came about in both regions due to forced reality and not, in my opinion, due to concern over the slave's plight. Political pawns in the North - bodies in the Southern Army.

That's a generalization and there were exceptions. But I believe overall its accurate. Lincoln and most Northerners were willing to accept slavery (i.e. the Corwin amendment) and opposed expansion into the territories in order to protect jobs for whites, not over moral issues.

Bottom line is that neither region viewed African-Americans that differently when it came to race.

Vince said...

From my spending thousands of hours in front of microfilm readers and in historical society basements--as well as the analysis of others who spent even more time and published their findings, I know your assertions (even as generalities) are absurd.

As an initial point for discussion, how would you explain that just about every Protestant denomination split before the war? Mere political posturing and opportunism on the part of religious leaders or an indicator of significant differences in beliefs about race and slavery?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Vince:

Re: analysis - We'll agree to disagree. Others have come to different conclusions.

Re: Denomination splits - I explain it this way:

From my study, Northern denominations condemned Southern slaveholders as sinful. Southern slaveholders used their Biblical interpretation to justify their "benevolent paternalism."

Since they could not come to terms, they split.

I've discussed this subject before at length here. I'm bored with it at this point.

I go into greater detail regarding some of this subject in my book about Stonewall Jackson and his black Sunday school class. Have you read it?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Vince:

Let me add something regarding how many Southerners viewed the North's condemnation of their slaveholding.

There was also some resentment regarding the North's self-righteous attitude regarding slavery. After all, they had built their economy on the slave trade and were still benefiting very nicely from the cotton trade with the South - cotton picked by slaves.

As historian Edgar McManus has pointed out: “abolitionists of the 1780's belonged to the business elite which thirty years before had reaped handsome profits from the slave trade...The leaders of the abolition movement were honorable men who sincerely regarded slavery as a great moral wrong. But it is also true that they embraced antislavery at a time when it entailed no economic hardship for their class.”

I think many Southerners were skeptical of their "moral high ground" AFTER they had profited so handsomely.

Vince said...

"Bottom line is that neither region viewed African-Americans that differently when it came to race."

"From my study, Northern denominations condemned Southern slaveholders as sinful. Southern slaveholders used their Biblical interpretation to justify their "benevolent paternalism.""

I believe the second statement contradicts the first, so maybe I misunderstood and that's at least one spot of agreement. (I'd also add that condemning the institution of slavery is more historically accurate, at least in an official sense, than condemning slaveholders.)

No, I haven't read your book, but I had planned to pick it up next time I see it.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

The next time you see it? Good luck.
;o)

Amazon is having a fire sale on it right now.

No contradiction. Both populations viewed African-Americans as inferior and were certainly racist by our standards. That's what I meant.

Northerners - though still profiting indirectly from the benefit of the slave trade - had made their fortunes and could now sanctimoniously wash their hands of slavery. It rang rather hollow.

Anonymous said...

Whether one reads broad interpretations or the specific details of US history, it is obvious that moral parity existed between whites North and South. Individuals like Levin who attempt to focus only on one-sided selective portrayals of history while disregarding its context promote erroneous views of our past. In particular, they want to villainize the South.

The methodology of these tactics is to confuse 19th century laws and norms with today's trend of seeking a moral highground for a "progressive" political agenda. Unfortunately, the outcome results in poor historical interpretation, and political and racial division. Somehow these progressive revisionists think the costs are worth it.

The motivations are that the South is typically a bastion of conservatism that some believe can be brought to heal through the perpetual forced, narrow acknowledgement of guilt that can be assuaged through the support of liberal policies.

Michael Bradley said...

Actually only two protestant denominations split before the war, the Methodists and the Baptists. The Presbyterians and Episcopalians split after the war began. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) never did split. The Cumberland Presbyterians were entirely a southern based group and they did not split.

Vince said...

I should clarify, I intentionally used "split" instead of "split up" to refer to very deep divisions within the denominations. I know the Lutherans, for example, didn't split up officially until 1862, but there's no mistaking that deep divisions over slavery split the denomination before the war. Seeing that my word choice led to understandable confusion, I apologize.

Anyway, my point is that Richard's characterization of race in the North is off or shallow, and that he consequently misinterprets the changes that happened in the wartime North.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Vince:

I believe it is your characterization of race in the North that is off or shallow.

"Race prejudice seems stronger in those states that have abolished slavery than in those where it still exists, and nowhere is it more intolerant than in those states where slavery was never known." --Alexis De Tocqueville, “Democracy in America”

Both regions, in my mind, are equally guilty.

Brboyd said...

Didnt the democratic party split also?

Vince said...

In response to your quote, the whole chapter from which it came is a great analysis focusing on differences regarding race, slavery, and labor North and South. Done from a classical liberal viewpoint, it tends to place agricultural economics as the primary determinant of a region's racial attitudes. There might be some unexplored social or religious angles, but overall it's really interesting.

Anyway, preoccupation with guilt and innocence is completely wrong-headed (from the standpoint of history as a discipline), and serves as a barrier to good historical analysis of causes, effects, and changes.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Vince:

I'm intrigued.

"Done from a classical liberal viewpoint, it tends to place agricultural economics as the primary determinant of a region's racial attitudes."

Elaborate a little. I read part of "Democracy in America" years ago but I am ashamed to say, don't have a copy in my library.

Vince said...

I don't have time to elaborate now, but multiple copies are available full/mostly full-text at books.google.com. I think even if you google a sentence from the quote, the google books reference will appear.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thank you Vince.

Michael Bradley said...

The classic study of race and religion is "The Circuit Rider Dismounts." That work points out that churches in the ante-bellum period saw slavery as a political issue and said nothing official on the topic because churches did not meddle in political questions. The Unitarians were an exception to this rule.

The classic study of race post-bellum is C.Vann Woodward's "The Strange Career of Jim Crow." This work points out that neither north nor south accepted the concept of racial equality. Martin Luther King called this book "the bible of the civil rights movement."

"Sweet Land of Liberty" is a study of race in the 20th and 21st centuries. It points out that de facto racial segregation is still well entrenched in the north today.

"Clash of Extremes" is a recent (2009) study of the causes of the C.W. done by a British historian. He argues that the nation was quite willing to compromise on the slavery issue until economic changes drove the sections apart.