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The Battle of Shiloh and the KKK

In Hebrew, the word "Shiloh" is related to the word for "peace" but nothing peaceful will be happening today. Union General U.S. "Unconditional Surrender" Grant has successfully tromped on Confederate forces at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson (and he has brought himself to the attention of the higher-ups). Grant leads his troops down the Tennessee River to Pittsburgh Landing which is deep into Tennessee. It is the location of a tavern (hmmm) and a small meeting house called Shiloh Church. Apparently, no one was expecting 45,000 Union troops to show up so Grant makes himself at home. There is a small and decrepit Confederate post across the river, but unbeknownst to Grant, the Confederate troops have been massing near a railroad junction just 22 miles southwest of his position. Confederate General Johnson organizes 40,000 men to drive Grant into the swamps at Owl Creek. As the morning attack ensues, Grant's forces unexpectedly turn toward Pittsburgh Landing. It is probably not the smartest thing to do, but it foils the Confederate plan and concentrates Grant's forces. Wave after wave of Confederate troops charge into Union positions... and die along with General Johnson. Command falls to General Beauregard (the fellow who fired on Fort Sumter). As evening falls, he calls off the attack and rests his troops. That evening, Union reinforcements arrive. They are worn out, but willing to fight. The Union is going to win this one, but it is going to cost them 13,000 casualties including 1,754 dead. The Confederates will lose about the same in dead but suffer fewer total casualties. It will prove to be one of the bloodiest battles of the war. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I've simplified this battle quite a bit. My apologies to Civil War buffs. As a side note to the battle, Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest was nearly killed when a Union soldier placed the barrel of his musket into the side of the Colonel and fired... missing his spinal cord. After the war, Forrest became the first Grand Wizard of the KKK, and his name was used for the fictional character, "Forrest Gump." No doubt that was done as an insult to Colonel Forrest, but don't discount this fellow. As a military leader, he was deadly. My second point is about the technology of the time. This many men could not have been killed without the miracle of transportation... namely trains and river barges. We are talking about logistics. Simply getting troops to the battlefield is not enough. You must supply them with food, water, and AMMUNITION. Ammunition is heavy. So is a rifle, a full pack and a tent when you are carrying them more than a couple of miles. Ideally, your troops should be well-fed and rested before battle. I'm not sure if General Beauregard made the right decision to rest his troops, but he hadn't made any big breakthroughs and he didn't know that Union reinforcements were coming. [4]

Freedom by Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln wants to pay the slave states to free their slaves and (apparently) to ship them off to Liberia. This was Henry Clay's old idea, and it isn't working for Lincoln either. The Northern states want slavery stopped now. Several Union generals have freed the slaves in their areas of responsibility. Lincoln writes, "as commander-in-chief of the army and navy, in time of war, I suppose I have a right to take any measure which may best subdue the enemy." Meanwhile, the Republican Congress passes the Second Confiscation Act which calls for the seizure of property from disloyal citizens and the freeing of slaves within Union jurisdiction. (There is also something in there about treason and death.) Lincoln has only one card left to play, or be rendered politically irrelevant. Perhaps a limited emancipation? But no. He needs some good news, before he can act. McClellan's bloody victory at Antietam gives Lincoln his opening. He announces that effective on January 1st, 1863, all slaves in all the states currently in rebellion are free. The Emancipation Proclamation is limited to the areas covered under his war powers. With fear and trepidation, he is committed. Later he will call it his crowning achievement, but right now it looks more like he is betting all his money on a pair of jacks. [5] [6] [3] [7] [8]

If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.... and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.
-- Abraham Lincoln in response to criticism for his Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves. [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Of course, Lincoln's original argument about paying to free the slaves had a fundamental flaw. It presumed that slaves were property and not people. People are people. You might ransom them, but you don't pay for them. In the past, the United States avoided wars by paying off its enemies, but those wars were over land which is... let me check my legal dictionary... oh yes... LAND IS PROPERTY. Granted... many of the abolitionists were insane, but they were right and the slave idea is wrong. [10]

The Texas Housewife Riots

The main export crop for Texas is cotton, but the current blockade of the Confederacy limits the amount of cotton going out to England, France, and oddly enough... THE UNION STATES. Yes. Everyone needs cotton, but legally speaking and just between us gentlemen and ladies, Texas cannot sell that cotton directly... so they sell it to Mexican agents who then sell it to the highest bidder, which, often, is the United States of America, otherwise known as the Union. Prices are sky-rocketing. The cost for simple staples and household goods are out of control. Texas housewives are in serious competition for a limited supply which is causing riots amongst the women-folk. Mary Maverick of San Antonio fights her way to the counter to buy 1 bolt of cloth, one pair of shoes and a dozen wax candles. Total price? $180 which is $3,430 minimum in 2015 dollars. A wagon-load of goods might cost a merchant $60,000 (that's over a million bucks), but he pays the price because he will be sold out within a week. The General of the Military Department of Texas is outraged that this sort of underhanded commerce is going on, so he demands that all international transactions be approved by the state. While this might seem reasonable in a modern context, we are talking about 1862. Commerce suddenly grinds to a halt. The General is replace by another fellow who lifts all restrictions which only upsets the Confederacy. Laws are passed but the problem is never resolved. [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
This is why so-called illegal markets flourish. The more stringent the controls, the more profitable it becomes to circumvent the controls. There is a happy medium, but like the drunk at the bar, pounding his fist for another drink, governments can't limit themselves no matter what their good intentions. Regarding the Confederacy, they needed hard currency desperately. The fact that selling cotton to the Union states diminished the Union and enriched the Confederacy seems not to have occurred to them.

In Other News

  • The first true bicycle is built. A baby-carriage-maker, adds a gear mechanism and pedals to the "dandy horse" and invents the bicycle. [12]
  • Photosynthesis is discovered. A German botanist finds that starches are produced in plants through interactions of chloroplasts and light. [13]
  • Victor Hugo publishes "Les Miserables". An ex-convict seeks redemption as he is chased all over France by an insane police inspector. I saw the musical and walked out. I was not interested in watching humanity suffer in perfect key. Anne Hathaway was good, though. [14] [3]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1862, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Battle of Fort Henry - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 September 2016. “On February 4 and 5, Grant landed two divisions just north of Fort Henry on the Tennessee River. (The troops serving under Grant were the nucleus of the Union's successful Army of the Tennessee, although that name was not yet in use.)”
  2. Battle of Fort Donelson - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 September 2016. “The Union capture of the Confederate fort near the Tennessee–Kentucky border opened the Cumberland River, an important avenue for the invasion of the South. The Union's success also elevated Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant from an obscure and largely unproven leader to the rank of major general, and earned him the nickname of 'Unconditional Surrender' Grant.”
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 424-425. 
  4. Battle of Shiloh - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 September 2016. “As skirmishers from the 77th Ohio Infantry approached, having difficulty clearing the fallen timber, Forrest ordered a charge. The wild melee, with Confederate troops firing shotguns and revolvers and brandishing sabers, nearly resulted in Forrest's capture. As Col. Jesse Hildebrand's brigade began forming in line of battle, the Southern troopers started to retreat at the sight of the strong force, and Forrest, who was well in advance of his men, came within a few yards of the Union soldiers before realizing he was all alone. Sherman's men yelled out, 'Kill him! Kill him and his horse!' A Union soldier shoved his musket into Forrest's side and fired, striking him above the hip, penetrating to near the spine. Although he was seriously wounded, Forrest was able to stay on horseback and escape; he survived both the wound and the war.”
  5. Confiscation Act of 1862 - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 September 2016. “The defining characteristic of the act was that it called for court proceedings for seizure of land and property from disloyal citizens (supporters of the Confederacy) in the South as well as the emancipation of their slaves that came under Union control.”
  6. Emancipation Proclamation - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 September 2016. “It proclaimed the freedom of slaves in ten states.[2] Because it was issued under the President's war powers, it necessarily excluded areas not in rebellion - it applied to more than 3 million of the 4 million slaves at the time. The Proclamation was based on the president's constitutional authority as commander in chief of the armed forces;[3] it was not a law passed by Congress.”
  7. Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684808463. “Freed from his desk job, Pope took up his command and immediately made it clear that, unlike McClellan, he would not fight a soft war. He published a series of tactless orders informing his exhausted and dispirited Eastern soldiers that he came from the West, 'where we have always seen the backs of our enemies,”'and promising that he would pay more attention to his lines of advance than to his lines of retreat.” 
  8. John Pope (military officer) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 September 2016. “Let us understand each other. I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies; from an army whose business it has been to seek the adversary and to beat him when he was found; whose policy has been attack and not defense. In but one instance has the enemy been able to place our Western armies in defensive attitude. I presume that I have been called here to pursue the same system and to lead you against the enemy. It is my purpose to do so, and that speedily. I am sure you long for an opportunity to win the distinction you are capable of achieving. That opportunity I shall endeavor to give you. Meantime I desire you to dismiss from your minds certain phrases, which I am sorry to find so much in vogue amongst you. I hear constantly of 'taking strong positions and holding them,' of 'lines of retreat,' and of 'bases of supplies.' Let us discard such ideas. The strongest position a soldier should desire to occupy is one from which he can most easily advance against the enemy. Let us study the probable lines of retreat of our opponents, and leave our own to take care of themselves. Let us look before us, and not behind. Success and glory are in the advance, disaster and shame lurk in the rear. Let us act on this understanding, and it is safe to predict that your banners shall be inscribed with many a glorious deed and that your names will be dear to your countrymen forever — John Pope, message to the Army of Virginia”
  9. Emancipation Proclamation - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 September 2016. “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.... I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.”
  10. Alex Shrugged notes: Thank you Professor CJ for pointing out some of these idea in your Dangerous History podcast. However, my point of view is my own and what I write may or may not reflect what the Professor says or even thinks.
  11. Fehrenbach, T. R.. Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans. Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.. ISBN 9781497609693. “The pioneer Mary Maverick of San Antonio wrote in her journal that after a tiring battle, 'wedged up and swaying for hours,' she finally fought her way to a counter and purchased one bolt of domestic cloth, one pair of shoes, and one dozen wax candles for $180. The broker in question paid $60,000 in specie for this shipment, and he sold everything out in less than a week.” 
  12. Pierre Lallement - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 4 August 2016. “In 1862 while Lallement was employed building baby carriages in Nancy he saw someone riding a dandy horse, a forerunner of the bicycle that required the rider to propel the vehicle by walking. Lallement modified what he had seen by adding a transmission comprising a rotary crank mechanism and pedals attached to the front-wheel hub, thus creating the first true bicycle.”
  13. Julius von Sachs - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 September 2016. “Most important are his experiments, developing the concept of photosynthesis, that the starch-grains, found in leaf chloroplasts, depend on sunlight. A leaf that has been in sunlight, then bleached white and stained with iodine turns black, proving its starch content, whereas a leaf from the same plant that has been out of the sun will remain white. A demonstration of this experiment is shown in the second episode of BBC Four's 'Botany: A Blooming History' presented by Timothy Walker.”
  14. Jean Valjean - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 September 2016. “Valjean and Police Inspector Javert, who repeatedly encounters Valjean and attempts to return him to prison, have become archetypes in literary culture. In the popular imagination, the character of Jean Valjean came to represent both Hugo himself and leftist sentiment.”

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