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tv   The Civil War Civil War Violence  CSPAN  August 8, 2019 9:10am-10:16am EDT

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after an appearance by author charles murray on campus. >> at the end of your discussion with charles murray you left that room and went where and what happened? >> the fact of the matter is i don't really remember much of it. i couldn't even tell you what door we went out. but we were taken out of the hall and confronted this mob of angry people, some of whom were in masks, and they were shoving and jostling. their target was charles murray. >> sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q & a. american history tvs look at the civil war continues now with louisiana state university professor aaron sheehan-dean on his book the calculus of violence: how americans fought the civil war. this talk was part of the gettysburg college civil war institute's annual summer conference. it's an hour.
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>> good morning, everyone. i'm peter carmichael. a member of the history department at gettysburg college. also the director of the civil war institute. it is my pleasure this morning to welcome aaron sheehan-dean. aaron sheehan-dean is the -- is it fray? the fred c. fry professor of southern studies at lsu. aaron is a native of michigan, not far from lansing. he did his undergraduate work at northwestern before spending some time working in washington, d.c. as a congressional staffer and then moved on to the university of virginia where he studied under gary gallagher. published his dissertation with the university of north carolina press. the book is entitled "why confederates fought: family and nation in civil war virginia."
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his most recent book published by harvard entitled "the calculus of violence: how americans fought the civil war" just, again, published in 2018. aaron at lsu is a great place for him, of course, being in baton rouge and not far from new orleans, aaron is a self-proclaimed foodie so he has lots of places to select from down in new orleans, but today he will talk to us about his very important book and a book, i should add, that has received two recent awards, including the jefferson davis award from formerly the museum of the confederacy and now the american civil war museum, i believe, in richmond, of course. let's welcome aaron sheehan-dean. [ applause ] >> good morning. thank you all. i will start by saying happy father's day to everybody in the audience. it is a weird thing to spend
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today and a sunday morning talking about violence, but that's what we're going to do. so as pete said, my book is called "the calculus of violence" that's the promo part, and so we will get right into it. this lecture has a tendency to be as a friend said a long time ago a ten pound weight in a five pound sack. 45 minutes and the laf clear mic has been walked out so i have to stay on the podium which is no fun for me because i have a tendency to pace. it will get channeled out hopefully. we know that the civil war was a terribly bloody and violent war, the new estimate now and i think a reliable one that david hacker gave us is 750,000 dead. he sort of recalculating right now and doing more demographic work to assess it. we know that, i actually spent some time trying to do my own counting particularly around noncombatants affected by the war and counting in some
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respects proved unsatisfying so instead this book is really a book trying to explore the decisions that people on both sides made about who they could turn lethal violence on, what were the parameters of how the war could be fought. and i'm going to give you my conclusion up front here and the conclusion of the book, the sort of main argument of my book, is that the civil war was both bloody and violent, unimage in a blee violent for most americans and a war that could have been much worse, two or three times as many dead i would imagine if certain things happen. so i hope right now that may sound like a wishy washy conclusion, it says a little of this and a little at the end of the i hope by the end it sounds nuanced and sophisticated. i want to walk you through both sides of that, that is, the ways in which the decisions that people make during the war facilitate in particular unnecessary violence.
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obviously war inherently involves violence and the laws of war and i'm going to talk a fair amount about the laws of war determine who that violence can be directed at and that is generally according to the western laws of war uniformed combatants. so i'm not going to spend a great deal of time talking about the technologies of war, although some of those are, in fact, in the book, discussions of things like mines. but instead the decisions that people make about the kind of boundaries of where that's drawn, how are irregular combatants treated, what sorts of pressure can be applied to people outside of regular uniformed combatants. so the beginning of my talk will focus on two fill marry elements, who can fight a war and how do you fight a war and a couple of sort of cultural elements to determine who is inside that scope of lethal violence or substantial pressure. and then i will turn to those elements that diminished or restrained the violence of war and then try to offer some
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concluding points about what looking at the civil war this way might teach us about military conflict in general and the civil war and sort of american history. so i want to start with the sort of first question that americans were confronted with and my clicker is -- there we go. i have to go down, i'm clicking the wrong way. the first question is over who can fight. and the lincoln administration is confronted with this almost immediately because lincoln doesn't believe that the confederacy that succession is possible, he doesn't regard the confederacy as a real thing, you can sense as lincoln talks through the war him talking about the so-called confederate states and the air quotes and bunny ears that he would be making. he refuses to acknowledge that succession is possible, that the confederacy exists as an independent state. that's the game and if he gives that up he has in effect lost the war from the beginning. so the question happens as u.s. forces and these confederate forces start coming into contact
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what is the condition of these men claiming to be soldiers of this independent state that lincoln doesn't believe is independent. and as "the new york times" suggests, the different is quite substantial, what confederates want is to be declared public enemies. this is, in fact, a journalist writing in the "new york times" who describes the difference between being a prisoner of war, which involves honorable restraint and a captured traitor for which you may be hung. it emerges in the really on the high seas first, that is, there are confederate letters of mark that are issued by jefferson davis to private ears doing the work the confederacy doesn't have much of a navy neither does the u.s. at the start of the war. those men are captured, there are three ships that are captured, one goes to new york, one goes to philadelphia and the men who are on those confederate ships go into regular criminal court and, in fact, in new york
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the judge says to the jury you have to decide whether we are in a state of war to determine the jurisdiction and to determine the outcome of this case. you can imagine these men, that is, the citizens of new york who happen to end up on this case, thinking i don't think that's my decision. that's above my pay grade. the decision about whether we are at war is taking place presumably at the white house or in some larger sphere. jefferson davis is observing this and growing more and more concerned and the men who are held and they're held in new york at the tombs which is the city's notorious jail and jefferson davis' response is to take an equal number of u.s. officers in this case he takes the highest ranking men who have been captured thus far, puts them in hard labor at richmond and says if the men captured are executed i will do the same to the men i have captured. he is using in effect what's called a retaliatory threat and i will talk about retaliation as it works within the laws of war a little bit later. lincoln blinks in this instance. lincoln recognizes and this is
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an important restraint, though the larger question of who can fight exacerbates the problems of the war, but lincoln recognizes that he has to effectively agree that the confederacy is an independent state. that in terms of how he treats those soldiers, that they will be recognized as public enemies and housed in prisons and given medical care if they require t that's a decision he is forced into and one place where we see real tension between how lincoln believes the war should be fought, not that he wants an unrestrained war but he does not want to acknowledge the confederacy but in this instance he's forced to. tens of thousands, eventually thuns of thousands of confederate prisoners over the course of the war and after 1863 and the introduction of black soldiers why nd the collapse of the cartel that determines how you can exchange prisoners, more and more prisoners subject to worse and worse conditions and
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eventually of course tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths in union and confederate p.o.w. camps as a result partly of this question over how you resolve and how you recognize who has the legitimate authority to fight a war like this in the 19th century. the confederates faced this as well and they faced this in the question of black soldiers. black men are recruited into the u.s. military, some of these are free men of color and some enslaved men in places like where i am right now in the lower mississippi valley area in the coastal south carolina and florida and then out in kansas in late 1862 we know the story of black enlistment. after the emancipation proclamation the u.s. army officially creates the usct and those men are put into uniform as regular soldiers according to the lincoln administration and they are confronted by confederates who are very reluctant to regard them as legitimate combat ants.
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these men says the confederacy cannot legitimately fight a war. so we don't have to accord them the status of public enemies. jefferson davis' first instinct is to encourage his armies to treat black soldiers captured as slaves in the act of insurrection and to be turned over to state authorities and pun lishd for slave rebellion. we heard patrick breen's discussion yesterday of what happens to those people in his discussion of the nat turner rebellion. the laws in every southern state are death for slave insurrection so davis knows what he is doing is sending these men to their death. the confederate congress endorses a variety of measures on this front and the confederacy begins this process, although they are also confronted almost immediately by the fact that many of the men fighting in union blue are free men of color, had never been slaves and the confederacy is reluctant to somehow change the status of those men and put put them into a position where they
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might be executed. davis i think recognizes what's coming which is in july of 1863 abraham lincoln issues a public proclamation declaring if the confederate state army executes u.s. soldiers and he doesn't distinguish between white and black, but he says if they execute or subject to hard labor u.s. soldiers, then the u.s. army will do the same thing in response for the captured confederates. by this point both sides have tens of thousands of captured p.o.w.s so the violence has the real potential to spin out of control. it doesn't, again, because davis respects this threat. now, that isn't to say that black men experience a just war because they do not. the confederate policy shifts to in some respects reflect the u.s. position. the u.s. position is there are no enslaved men in u.s. armies. if there are men who had
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previously held the classification under law of enslaved, they have by this point escaped from their masters, they have come into a u.s. refugee camp of the sort that amy taylor described yesterday and they have enlisted in the u.s. army as regular men so they are no different from white soldiers in that capacity. once they are in the union army there are no slaves in the union army and so the confederacy has to recognize that. that being said, the confederate army like the u.s. army is enormously decentralized and in many interactions with black soldiers across the south atrocities are committed and black men are refused the opportunity to surrender and this happens most famously at ft. pillow -- where are we -- i have a ft. pillow image coming up later. sorry. it happens most famously at ft. pillow, poison spring, plymouth in north carolina, it happens in saltville in virginia, it happens at the crater.
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we heard about this yesterday about the battle that transpired at the crater. those encounters certainly leave black men suffering an unjust war, that is, black men in uniform where confederates refused to allow them to surrender, where they don't offer quart, don't offer medical treatment to wounded soldiers and that happens over and over again. hundreds of black men die unjustly, unnecessarily at confederate hands over the course of the war. that total might well have been much higher if the confederate state hadn't changed that policy to a slate degree. about you that issue of who can fight is central. the other central issue here is over how you can fight and what legitimate war looks like. in the north herein cysts on regular uniformed soldiers that if war has happened between states, they happen then with regular armies of chains of command, clear chains of
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command, men in uniform on battlefields armed and responding to proper authority. when a flag of truce is issued men respond to that and stop fighting in the ways they are supposed to. the problems in the confederate response to that happen quickly. this is the famous band of ten issued in arkansas in 1862 after the 1862 battles against the union army, the confederate army mostly a band ons arkansas and the confederate citizens of arkansas take it upon themselves to organize themselves as he says in independent companies of ten men led by an elected captain to conduct guerrilla warfare. for the north this violates one of the central tenets of just war doctrine. the theory this philosophical enterprise that begins with st. augustine and extends really through sort of catholic europe
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through the centuries as theologians debate the ways in which military force can be conducted within a kind of christian framework. those laws are then sort of put together by hugo the dutch jurist in the 17th century but have not been codified, they will be codified in 20 minutes hopefully if my timing keeps up in 1863 in the lieber code which is a formalization of the ideas of just war. the central part of that just war relies on soldiers being able to discriminate among those people on whom they would subject violence and the discrimination here is i will only subject to lethal violence those enemies in uniform and armed against me. noncombatants, citizens, other people outside that scope and also uniformed enemies could have been wounded or who have laid down their arms, they cannot be subjected to lethal violence, guerrillas obscure all of that and that's the central
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problem. when guerrillas are organized independently and aren't wearing uniforms and don't have a chain of command, captain is in bunny quotes here, even heineman knows this. this then generates from the union what we would call today a counterinsurgency strategy. the union is going to fight a regular bar on the battlefields like gettysburg and also they are going to have to kwat and irregular war or what we would call an insurgency. they didn't use that language and they didn't call their anti-guerrilla operations counterinsurgencies but for those familiar with how that phrase works and the ways in which we have been fighting wars against irregular enemies in the last decade or dozen years the union effectively mounts a counterinsurgen counterinsurgency. that comes under various headings, mark grimsly gave us a way to think about this which is a hard war, a war that is increasingly destructive of resources in response to the irregularity of guerrillas there
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is an effort to destroy the resources upon which those guerrillas withstand william sherman who i am happy to say was the first president of the institution i represent lsu's first president almost no undergraduates are aware of that because sherman has basically no visible presence in the commemoration wars of late we're mostly talking about taking things down, our commemoration wars are trying to get something named for william t. sherman. this is my pitch to the board of visitors at lsu and they of course will not respond. sherman was one painting but it's in special collections in the men's room and on the third stall there is a nice -- and that's really the best that he gets at lsu. so clearly, i mean, in popular memory his raids in georgia and in south carolina are the kind of pinnacle of a hard war approach that is the destruction of logistical resources necessary to sustain an army and
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i will talk more about sherman a little bit later. sherman gets credit for this, you know, georgia gets sympathy and south carolina doesn't even though there's more destruction in south carolina. but the hard war policy actually i think has more sharper edges to it in other places. i wanted to start with something from the shenandoah valley and the problem that union officers confront in terms of how to punish and how to discourage and ultimately deter guerrilla warfare. this is part of the famous orders issued that lead to call him in his blue west language a miscrient. this is part of the campaign as pope is heading out to virginia. he says to the people of the shenandoah valley when there are operations that happen against lines of travel, the railroad or telegraph they will be held responsible. right? the "they" here and these are underlined by him not by me, they will be held responsible.
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citizens will be held responsible, ordinary citizens, for the violence committed by guerrillas. union officers confront this up and down the mississippi river, along both sides the arkansas and mississippi side and into louisiana, guerrillas as heineman encouraged them to do, heineman's call probably brings out in arkansas 5,000 men who flood the banks, this he snipe at union transports coming down the mississippi and he actually says that. to shoot to kill unarmed men, many transports bringing supply personnel and they are not in a state of war, so not a legitimate target under the regular laws of war, but instead they get sniped at from the bushes. it is enormously hard for union forces to track these men down. they have to get a ship over to the bank, they have to offload those men and then they have to go out on a scouting party by which point these guerrillas are gone by half an hour, 45 minutes and are never recoverable. so the response from the u.s. is to increase the pressure, not
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lethal violence, he doesn't say that we will begin arresting and executing civilians who happen to live mere guerrilla events happen, but what he does say is the pressure of our counterinsurgency is going to fall on the communities that sanction and support guerrillas. guerrillas depend upon a domestic supply line, the material, the horses, the fodder, the food and the intelligence that guerrillas use to operate comes from regular civilians and those regular civilians present a peaceful face to the union officers in one moment and in the other will sanction and encourage violence that the union considers unjust. the escalation, the kind of final moment of this policy comes in general orders number 11, this is by far the strongest counterinsurgency policy the u.s. army has ever enacted and certainly the strongest pressure ever applied by the u.s. army to american citizens.
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the context for general order number 11 in missouri is the ongoing guerrilla conflict there which seems in 1863 like it will spiral out of control, people like bloody bill anderson and i won't give you all of the story here, but sur nice to say that they commit a raid on lawrence, kansas, in the summer of 1863 and while there this is in retaliation for the collapse of a jail in kansas city, they commit the worst single atrocity of the civil war, that is, the massacre of lawrence, this he line up, take all of the adult men and they define adult as men aged 15 and up, right at the boundary of the age where you become an adult, that is nearly taking children out, they line up about 150 adult males and shoot them in the street and destroy much of the town and leave. this is the single worst in terms of scale, single worst atrocity committed against civilians in the war. and so the union officers in western missouri need to respond
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to this and they are weighing a variety of options and the option they come to is general order number 11 and general order number 11 offers 30 days for all inhabitants of three and a half western missouri counties and the options that citizens are given are two, you move out of your domicile and take up residence near a u.s. army base, you take the oath of loyalty and you will be protected or you move out entirely and you are sort of on your own. in either case about 20,000 people from this region are expelled from their homes and nearly all the homes and facilities in these three counties are destroyed. it is an enormous policy in terms of the size and the scope. in many respects it looks a lot like the trail of tears. the u.s. army has turned this kind of pressure on noncombatants before, but only in indian wars. i would suggest that the kind of reverberations here are particularly unsettling for white settlers who had gone to
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missouri partly because the u.s. army had already expelled native people and now the army is turning around and deploying that same kind of strategy against white settlers. this is a famous painting by bingham, a missouri politician and painter, gives us most of our quintessential american 19th century images, every single american textbook, u.s. history textbook is required to use his the county vote to talk about antebellum democracy. he was a die hard unionist, he served in the state legislature in missouri, he was a unionist state militia member and despite that he felt that general order number 11 was horribly unjust and that its pressure on in particular unionist civilians in missouri was counterproductive. after the war, this is 1868, he uses his brush and gets the last word in on the tyranny that is general order number 11. thomas ewing the general who issues the order, he is on
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horseback, william sherman's stepbrother for those keeping score and, you know, a dead civilian on the ground and more destruction off. it's a little dramatized here but the scale of destruction in general order number 11 is quite dramatic. this policy i would submit is a policy developed with the laws of war in mind as a way to apply nonlethal pressure to this problem of guerrillas, that is, the problem created by the confederates refusal to fight the war the way the war should be fought and a policy that is consistent with ways of fighting that we know from western european history over the preceding centuries. in fact, partly what hall lack and lincoln are thinking about is what is emerging along the kansas/missouri border is a retaliatory or revenge expedition being led by angry kansans and the governor of kansas, in fact, called them up
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basically saying we assemble at the border and ride to missouri and will begin killing and burning. lincoln is very worried about what that would look like. so lincoln and hallak sanctioned general order number 11 despite the scope that it contains in order to curtail a yet more bloody and more irresponsible and unrestrained kind of action from this irregular force accumulating on the border. ewing and halak actually write to the governor and basically say stop stoking these fears, we are not going to allow kansans to come into western missouri and commit violence or what they would call military acts on their own. so these are the two sort of military issues, who can fight and how do you fight, that generate a great deal of unnecessary violence as they manifest through the war. i want to talk quickly about a couple cultural elements here. the first is the language of righteousness. both sides indulge in this, particularly ministers, but politicians as well, a language
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of righteousness that infuses the war and the violence of the war with a kind of sacralization, making that violence wholly and imperative. cain and abel is one of the obvious pair a bells from the bible that northerners use to talk about how they see the politics of this affair going, this is a kind of dee trail of a family, the family of the union, that southerners created and in response what you have here is a kind of call really for unrestrained -- right, if you're fighting people who exercise only fiendish malignancy you don't have to give them compassion. this is common on both sides, northern and southern ministers and the newspapers in particular encourage a rhetoric of righteousness, of moral indignation that is quite dangerous to control because of the way that it spreads. there's no question that the
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sharpest issue distinguishing who suffers just violence that is regular soldiers on battlefields from whom suffers unjust violence is race. that black soldiers in the union armies who fight across the continent experience a much less just war than regular soldiers do. this is one of many images at the time that ran at the time of ft. pillow. it draws enormous northern attention, the u.s. congress sends an investigatory committee that goes and gathers evidence and takes testimony, plenty of testimony from confederates as well describing what happened and being very clear about the way in which confederate troops singled out african-american soldiers for execution, rather than allowing them to surrender. mark nealy has made this argument as well that when the war happens between white men the violence tends to be less awful and certainly less -- more necessary in that sense than it
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does when the war happens between white and black soldiers. and i want to make that point so that we're clear. one last cultural point here, which is to think about the kind of relationship, etiology to the sort of violence that people sanction in war. these are sort of the two most famous or at least well known white an ligsists from before the war. one, john brown known for his willingness to engage in violence, the massacre in kansas in 1856, this is him and his sons murdering free soil -- i'm slower, pro slavery kansans in the disputes in the territories. brown filled with that righteousness, an old testament figure and then of course the raid on harpers ferry is the culmination of this. william lloyd garrison is much more typical of most white abolitionists comes out of evangelical reform movements of the 1830s and '40s and he is
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deeply committed to pacifism. so deeply that during the mexican war when garrison sees a soldier on his way to mexico who is enlisted from massachusetts, he writes to a friend i saw a soldier on the street today in uniform and i recoiled as though i had seen a snake. he says i have such an opposition to the military that it's a kind of visceral sensati sensation, it's a physical allergy that he has to inoculate himself against just to semen in uniform and yet once the civil war begins garrison and other abolitionists are confronted with a terrible dilemma, do they sanction military violence on this massive scale in order to accomplish the outcome that they have been striving for for decades and frankly not making great progress towards. and there's disputes in the literature about the extent to which republicans were anti-slavery, but i think it's fair to say that emancipation is not on the horizon in 1860 in a sort of regular election of
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lincoln as president. now all of a sudden by 1862 it's on the horizon but part of the way that will happen is if the war goes on long tough and is fought with enough vigor that the u.s. that lincoln who has been quite reluctant on this is compelled into emancipation. so what we find is a curious inversion. people like garrison and other white abolitionists who are theoretically committed to pacifism wind up being the most vigorous advocates of a hard war. they are the ones that want an army smofg with power across the southern landscape, destroying those social relations. they are not calling on the wanton killing of slave holders but want slavery destroyed and doing so requires a vigorous war. i point this out because we tend to think in a post world war 2 era that the alignment of hawks and doves is necessarily that the hawks who are in favor generally of u.s. military power are the political conservatives and the doves are the liberals
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and that's fixed. what we have are the political liberals people like william lloyd garrison who are the hawks and the political conservatives, the democratic party of the north who wind up being the doves, the democrats are the ones in the north who make the arguments about the laws of war and want proper oversight of the army and aren't eager to see emancipation happen as parts of the hard war policy. so i would suggest that one of the things this teaches us is that there is no necessary alignment between your ideological position and where you stand on military force. what is important is what the war accomplishes and the case of the civil war shows us a community of people who are dedicated to progressivism and liberal values who see a war that might facilitate those and so are willing to sanction violence in a way that we might imagine is quite surprising today. let me turn and try to uplift us here for a moment or two to talk about those things that restrain and bound the violence of war.
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this is -- there are a number of northerners that make this observation about the weird inversion of sort of the kind of ideological inversion that happens as a result of the war. i want to talk about this guy francis lieber who we have heard about a little bit so far. lieber is german born, comes to the united states in the 1830s, serve as a professor of law in south carolina and like good academics is wrangling and trying to maneuver his way into a better position and finally gets his in 1860 when he comes north to take a job as a pro every if of law at columbia. he is certainly the smartest and the most well read of probably anybody in the united states or north america at that point on the laws of war, on the philosophy of nations, and he makes himself available, as i say, again, kind of aggressive self-promotion, to the state department and in 1863 they agree that it would be a good idea if he writes a compendium not of the laws of war, henry
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halak had published a 1,000 page book on the law of nations and within that the law of war this 1861. it's ponderously footnoted and totally unusable. what lieber does, he was also a good academic, old brains, what lieber does is create basically the origin of today's rules of engagement. if you know that as u.s. service members go into combat they carry a set of instructions about the rules of engagement or the roe that determines the ways in which they can function in a variety of contexts. this begins with lieber framing in 148 sort of short little bullet points not heavily footnoted but very specific, when you occupy a town, places with scientific instruments or hospitals need to be protected, universities need to be protected. that was observed maybe more often in the breach. uva was protected, university of alabama didn't fair so well and neither did vmi. but in general those laws are quite sharp and specific. one of the important points here
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is that that means after 1863 there is a clearer set of rules for determining and assessing conduct than there was in 1861. that is to say that the war doesn't inevitably grow worse and worse. the imposition of a structure to hold men accountable for how they behave as soldier is present in a way after 1863 that it wasn't at the war's start. why do places endorse this? and i would argue that both the north and south -- the confederacy never issues a lieber code but they enforce laws of war very similar, draw on the same concepts and deploy them at the ground level with their armies in much the same way. this he do so both sides, the north and south do so for similar reasons, partly because they want to attract european support. this issue of having global sanction for your nation is essential for both of them, and the part of the way you attract that sanction and particularly for the confederacy part of the way you prove to the world that you are a modern sovereign state is you make war the way you're
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supposed to make war, according to the laws of war in line with european tradition. the confederates are continually promoting the restraint that they exercise and the atrocities that the u.s. armies commit, general order 11 figures prominently in this campaign. it's an effort to say we are the ones following the rules, so we have our bona fides as states. they are also doing so because they want their armies to respect their values. this is a letter from a confederate private, a guy named james anderson who came out of new orleans and then moved west and enlisted in confederate forces, he is serving as a guard at andersonville and he is concerned enough to write his president to say we have guards here to think that shooting men who approach the deadline at andersonville, that doing that will make them big men and he says this is not how we make war. i write i make this statement to you, jefferson davis, knowing you could be a soldier,
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statesman and christian. and he sort of repurposes the glden rule here. we should do as we would be done by. that's the way to fight war. that is to say, there is a strategic reason for this, that you observe the laws of war because you want as a soldier and potentially as a captive to have those same protections offered to you as well. according to northerners this stops happening in 1864 when images like this start circulating, when soldiers, u.s. captives of belle isle and rich manned or aroundville and later in 1864 are released to u.s. authorities and they are released as 90 pounds of bone, we know images like this from concentration camps in world war ii, horrific images. the harpers weekly gives us a sense of how these get translated into wood cuts, newspapers can't print photographs, but the photographs circulate and the wood cuts circulate extensively in the spring of 1864 and generate a sense of outrage among
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northerners for whom the agreement about protecting prisoners although many confederates die in union p.o.w. camps, but they regard this as a gross violation of war and it compels in the u.s. senate eventually by february of 1865 a vigorous debate on what is called felt the retaliation provision or the retaliation resolution. that the u.s. senate is considering endorsing policies that will mirror those of the confederate prisons in terms of food supply and health and access to water and protection like add andersonville with the goal that hopefully confederate p.o.w.,will look effectively the same way. it crosses weird partisan and ideological lines because it's proposed by a republican, ben wade is one of the eagerest fighters in this conflict but it's charles sumner his republican colleague who says this is not retaliation, it's
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barerism, sam analogy ri and not the way the united states fights its wars. the retaliation provision is voted down by the u.s. senate but one of those dramatic moments where we come to the possibility that the war could escalate quite dramatically and doesn't. one place to see how retaliation works out and i will offer just a minute or two here on retaliation as a part of a law of war, it's in the lieber code, lieber recognizes it as what he calls the harshest part of the laws of war, retaliation is not revenge. retaliation is a recognition that your enemy has outstripped the laws of war, has violated them. it gives you, then, as the op nenlt the opportunity to respond in exact kind, that is, if they executed one of your officers, you execute one of their officers. you don't execute a civilian, right? it has to be proportional in terms of the classification of people, it has to be exactly proportional in terms of the numbers here. if they execute one unjustly, you may execute one unjustly.
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retaliation is a way of diminishing cycles of violence because by making that counterretaliatory move you then say to your enemy i have leveled the field and make sure it i le field and make sure it doesn't go further. this happens across the landscape, again because of decentralization of armies, individual commanders make the decisions and use it to discourage violence on their own wou without recourse to washington. one place it happens is shenandoah valley. his units operate very irregularly. i would argue he is effectively a guerrilla, we can debate that later. his forces are effective, hard to catch. it embarrasses and frustrates custer. out of the great state of michigan.
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in this case what he does is respond to execution of one of his officers, at the time there was wide consensus a union officer was captured and injured and mosby's men didn't want to take him. in response to the execution, custer takes six men and hangs them in front royal in late '64. a disproportionate response. one of the six isn't really a soldier, it is a young man from front royal who rode with the con fed rats out of town. and mosby knows it. he is a smart man. the only honest ex-confederate. of course we fought about slavery. that's what we fought about, i don't see why it is a big deal. what he says to custer in a public letter is your execution of the soldiers was unjust, i am
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executing six union prisoners that i have. make sure this doesn't happen again and it doesn't. that is to say one of the cycles you could see spiraling out of control, we might imagine would, you kill one, the enemy kills 6, you kill 18, then you kill 50. in the civil war it stops. retaliation works in this context to diminish violence. grant and sheridan are commanders over custer. there's nothing in the record from them. one can sense a kind of latent frustration that he's exceeded his capacity and that mosby's response was a lawful, proper response to what happened, and one that diminishes the violence. two more points to make. then i will wrap up. the single most important factor limiting violence in the civil war is the decision of enslaved people to seek freedom rather than revenge. the discussion we had yesterday about nat turner, about violence
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with which he behaved, where he was using violence as a tool to break slavery is extraordinarily uncommon in the civil war itself. amy taylor talked about the hundreds of thousands of enslaved people that seek freedom, come to freedom through u.s. army contraband camps over the course of the war, a half million or a seventh of those enslaved in the south, those people come to freedom. they rarely stop to commit violence against whites which had been the fear not just of confederates anticipating another haiti with the language that the lincoln administration is using, emancipation proclamation, sam chase in '62, he says be careful of emancipation. there will be bloodshed and it will be on our hands.
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there's a great deal of reluctance to endorsee mans pags for this reason. in the end, black and slave people that free themselves move to freedom. this is not a passive action, the act of escaping as amy described is enormously fraught with peril, takes great bravery and courage to make it happen and great physical stamina. decision to withhold violence, not cut the throat of the master on the way out, not set fire to houses you leave is an act undertaken for strategic reasons. they're aware black southerners have a monopoly on violence, know the patterns of white people. we discussed and heard from professor breen about response to nat turner, the dramatic overresponse by white southerners, 200 black virginia ns killed in the next month or two, accused of being in league with nat turner in wheeling and places they had no connection to him at all. they know the response, tendency
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towards overreaction. there's also a long tradition by 1860, a century or more of after row christianity that seeks deliverance and salvation, sees no purpose in unnecessary bloodshed. what they prophesy and say what will happen, a haitian revolution, never happens. there's no question the u.s. civil war is the greatest slave rebellion of the 19th century, by far the most successful one. it winds up helping destroy slavery but it is not the revolution white southerners anticipate. there's none of that violence that happens that they imagine and i would dispute that haiti happens the way they think, but the common northern white and southern assumption about haiti is of a landscape drenched in blood. that decision diminishes the violence. you can imagine if in fact enslaved people, those 500,000 killed a white person, not talking about another 500,000 dead and in response whites
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turn. most is anticipate tree violence by whites, guerrillas, regular soldiers committing violence against enslaved people trying to seek their freedom, not the other way around. this seems to me an overlooked point about the dynamics of the war that limits the violence enormously, it means the civil war does not develop into a race war. the one that many people were expecting. last is politics. in the north, lincoln has a divided government, he has democrats to deal with, the confederacy abolishes parties or party labels, thinking it abolishes parties, it doesn't. but it means politics configures itself differently in the confederacy. lincoln is critiqued and they see criticism of the administration of the war both because they believe the war should be softer, should not effect slavery and for partisan
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advantage, excesses that happen on lincoln's watch, democrats take advantage of that. there's continually partisan pressure to diminish violence, and then there's the bigger political goal for lincoln is reunion. this means he needs to conduct a war with the bare minimum amount of violence in order to reunify the country. if he fights a war where there's a general order number 11 in every state and these accumulate and gather over time, he makes reunion impossible. so lincoln is continuously triangulating about what level of violence is necessary to achieve the outcome which is the destruction of the confederate armies and inability to fight to begin the process of cultural reunification. takes decades, even with all of the measures i discussed that the union adopts as ways to curtail that violence. quickly, in what ways does this matter, this framing of a war that's both to borrow lincoln's
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phrases a war of malice and charity, not one and the other. he talks about charity at the end, but in fact it was fought with a great deal of malice. it means our war is not exceptional. most civil wars look like this. most civil wars have restraint in them and also extreme violence. it is also important to observe that the civil war doesn't move in linear fashion. violence of the war doesn't necessarily escalate perpetually. this is a model we map on every conflict. as enemies fight one another, grow more embittered, violence will escalate. you see it in john dowar's book, war without mercy, there's inevitability to that. that war compels people to more and more violence. the civil war contradicts that. what you see are cycles of violence like in shenandoah valley when he executes six men
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unjustly, then that cycle winds back down, escalates and then deescalates. this is partly because of the scale of the war, the sheer scope of it, but also because people take steps consciously to regulate how they behave over time. there's a code in 1863 that wasn't there in 1861 that provides structure for punishing people that violeate it. i have a great deal in the book on sexual violence and crimes against women. they're punished by the union army, particularly once the structure is in place. 1864 and '65 you see punishment for union soldiers on those scores. linearity. one other things is states matter. lincoln acknowledges it is easier to contain violence of war and structure it properly when you are dealing with another state. when you're dealing with a stateless entity, dealing with guerrillas, it is hard to do
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this. i am making the terrifically unpopular stance of standing up for nation states, dare i even advocate nationalism as a force that inspires people to have respect for their state and commit themselves to monitoring and policing actions of that state. in a democracy as both places were, when the army goes out, it is us. the actions it takes reflect our values in democracy. we can't hide behind an emperor or king. 19th century americans know this as we do today. and they're invested in the ways in which that war is fought. it is part of how they function. you don't have that when you are dealing with stateless entities. and last to remind us that there's no just war. in its final way, was the civil war just, yes or no, vote here, i would not vote having tried for a long time to answer that question. the civil war is both just and unjust. every war contains elements of
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malice, elements of charity. that tells us as americans the importance of paying careful attention, of knowing there's a likelihood that our troops and that our enemy's troops are going to violate customs how war should be fought, our job as citizens and sometimes as members of the military is to correct for that, pay careful attention and try to make sure there's less malice and more charity. thank you. [ applause ] we have ten minutes for questions here. >> what were the numbers of colored troops that found their way to confederate prisoner of war camps? >> there are not good numbers on this. there are black prisoners, how many black prisoners were there,
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there were some at andersonville, if you're dealing with -- if any of you are teachers, the book pink and say, a picture book about this is magnificent. very hard read, but deals with this question. hundreds do, but the problem is we don't know how many don't. i was trying to keep track of these incidents. i am reading through and finding moments when a platoon of 12 soldiers is captured, and as often happens as they're marched there, there's attempt at escape and they're killed. sometimes that happened. men often tried to escape after being captured. it is weird when all 12 have bullet holes in the back of the head, doesn't look like the escape got far. certainly hundreds or thousands make it to prisoner of war camps, we don't know how many don't. >> thank you. >> thank you. stan prayinger from massachusetts. i am curious, there's lots of
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evidence of confederates showing restraint for union soldiers, not shooting them when they could like the siege of petersburg. there's different than executing african-american soldiers like at the battle of crater and what have you. i have seen a lot of information about confederates during the time and afterward justifying murder of african-american soldiers. have you run against in research any remorse for that, for not treating them -- >> there's not a great deal of remorse. newspaper treatment dives in, and jefferson davis talks about it as a heroic victory. davis was never one to withhold from a bad cause. his take on emancipation was the blackest crime in all humanity. this is called going all in if you're going to be wrong, be wrong on a biblical scale. so there's not a lot of public
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remorse. there are certainly soldiers, famous testimony from achilles clark, sergeant in tennessee that writes about fort pillow and writes to his sister saying this is what happened. it is clear he thinks it shouldn't have happened. brains could have been scooped up in any quantity from skulls bashed in with rifle butts inside fort pillow. but no. i haven't seen a great deal of that. what you see is tendency to say they didn't happen in the way the union overdrama advertised this. we were trying to take the fort and it was an accident. but not a clear reckoning with that among that wartime generation, even though there's plenty of evidence from people that talk about it. in private correspondence, i guess i would say, in private correspondence people that say this isn't how we should behave. after they cross into pennsylvania, confederate
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soldiers write back, this is something we shouldn't have done. this is not how we're supposed to fight. it is easier for them to criticize that than treatment of black soldiers because it isn't such a third rail. >> thank you. >> kristin pollack from fairfax, virginia. in regard to your discussion on retaliation did you find any evidence of the confederate military and political leadership acknowledging missouri guerrillas response to jayhawkers, union militia on the western border of missouri as justified retaliation? >> the jayhawkers are kansas guys that come over to western missouri. any place you don't want to be in the united states civil war, living on the kansas, missouri border. and the jayhawkers are generally prounion folks coming into missouri and confederates are going back. there's a sense that the confederates justify it, they don't use the word retaliation,
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it is proceeding in an irregular way, it is like a series of revenge cycles. what i was surprised about with regard to retaliation how deep awareness went. a woman was born from enslaved parents in louisiana, woman of color in up state new york. her son fights in the 55th massachusetts and writes to lincoln mid summer of 1863 before he issued the retaliation provision. she said we need to retaliate. she spells it out. she understands. she is not saying to lincoln, we need to kill white soldiers, we need to make them know they can't kill ours. even at a citizen level among people you would be surprised, they understand retaliation is a feature of war that ensures balances in order to restrict the overall violence. so both sides are quite aware of that. sometimes use the language a little sloppily. and the kansas missouri border
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would be one of those. yes, they're framing that as you started it and we're getting back. but this had been going on since the mid 1850s. yes. >> yes. dennis doyle from joliet, illinois. professor, have you seen in research where an officer or enlisted man or group of soldiers refused an order based on their own ethics or morality, that they refused in the chain of command to commit an act of violence. and what were the repercussions if they did that. >> that's a good question. i didn't. i think the short answer is no, i didn't see anything explicit. there are times when certainly orders are countermanded. the issue i don't deal with is violence against native people during the war. the sioux uprising in minnesota, the kind of pope and town
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fathers of minnesota, the white settlers want 300 men involved in that uprising executed. and lincoln diminishes that, kur tails it to 38, still the largest execution in american history, shocking on its scale, but that's one of the places where there's an intervention. part of what happens after '63 is appointment of joseph hold and a jag system in the army that can review these. review mu review punishments, review how the union army is consistent how it exercises violence against men in its own care, its own soldiers. there are mutinies that happen, generally if you disobey orders you are accused of mutiny. in florida, black soldiers, the mutiny and execution rates are higher for ustc regimens than white. and basically violence committed
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against the members of this regimen, took up arms. they're i think justified in doing that, and it is not actually a mutiny in a classic sense, six are executed for mutiny, and their bodies buried at fort clinch on the atlantic coast. more within the army than across the army in that way. yeah. >> john willing from washington, d.c. are there any examples of the opposite occurring, in other words mistreatment or execution of confederate p.o.w.s by black troops? >> well, there is certainly a great deal of unnecessary death of confederates held in union camps. charles sanders made this argument most strongly in his book "while in the hands of the enemy." he argues the pow apparatus is set up with malignant intent that produces unnecessary deaths and neither side cares.
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the union has less excuse than the confederacy, they have the resources to care for people in a way the confederacy is more strapped. i don't quite see it as intentional. there's a great deal of malign, neglect on the part of the union dealing with confederates. there are isolated instances where particularly after fort pillow along the mississippi river where black troops who engage with whites shout no surrender and remember fort pillow he writes to the commander at memphis, i heard report that the black soldiers in memphis, writing to herlbutt, i heard black soldiers went on bended knee and offer no surrender. gross violation of terms of war and i will respond in kind if i am to encounter these people. and he writes back and says i didn't hear that happened but if it did, i'm glad it did after what happened at fort pillow
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your men don't deserve quarter and i expect this is how the war will be conducted. that isn't how the war is conducted. there are moments there in mid '64 on the mississippi river where i think this happens, but in general even with herlbutt and forest at each other, that doesn't in fact produce the kind of cataclysm of violence. >> a popular view of the end of the civil war is that we are exceptional in that there is very little retaliatory violence after the war. putting our civil war in context of others, how accurate that popular view? >> it is 100% accurate. this is partly my next book, setting the conflict in the context of others around the world. i actually in the next book, i'm not getting to the paris come union, in some ways that's a useful. it is 1871, a workers revolt. yet it is secessionist
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enterprise. paris will make itself independent. the national army suppresses that. at the end of that, they kill probably 25,000 in the streets of paris. a week of blood letting, bodies lined up, famous photographs of this. 25,000 killed just there. nothing remotely similar. in the united states, the commandant of andersonville is killed, executed. champ ferguson is executed for war crimes, there's a handful, but no treason prosecutions. bill blair's book on this talks about the rapid shift of sentiment in the north among people like henry ward beacher to posture of conciliation and sympathy. in the context of the rest of the world, tie ping which is happening contemporaneously, in the siege of a city, you don't take prisoners, you close the city and let it ferment until people are dead from color a,
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then you take the city. nothing like that happens. enormous restraint is demonstrated. in that, the u.s. war is exceptional, one we may look back to as a model how to treat people. i think we're done. sorry. i will talk to you in a moment. thanks very much. i appreciate the time. this is a special edition of american history tv. sample of compelling history programs that air every weekend on american history tv. like lectures in history, american artifacts, real america, the civil war, oral histories, the presidency, and special event coverage about our nation's history. enjoy american history tv now and every weekend on cspan3. saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on lectures in history.
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female activists in the 1960s civil rights movement. >> while women were instructional helping to organ put the march together, the event was dominated by men. >> sunday at 4:30 p.m. eastern. the global significantance of before, during and after the revolution. >> also made it to clom bea and venezuela of the 50 year period. a half century known to scholars as the age of revolutions. >> and at 6:00 p.m., eyewitness accounts from inside the white house during the apollo 11 lunar landing. >> we staked ourselves into the cabinet room throughout the day. you can see the windows are dark, we're into nighttime, the
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module landed at 4:15 in the afternoon, the astronauts didn't walk until later. >> explore our nation's past on american history tv. every weekend on cspan3. next, on american history tv. university of georgia professor steven berry looks at his work on the digital history project, private voices that digitizes letters written in the civil war. part of the gettysburg college civil war institute's annual summer conference. it is close to an hour. >> again, let me reintroduce myself to the cspan audience. peter carmichael, director of the civil rights institute. also a member of the history department here at gettysburg college. it is a pleasure to welcome


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