Little Mac Says Goodbye

George McClellan said goodbye to his beloved… Army of the Potomac on November 11, 1862.  He cared deeply for their well being(much too deeply it turned out) and they repaid him with unwavering affection.  Lincoln had to make the decision- The “Young Napoleon” was fighting like the war could go on for decades.  But to his troops, he would forever be “Little Mac.”  He left them with this thought….

“In parting from you I cannot express the love and gratitude I bear to you. As an army you have grown up under my care. In you I have never found doubt or coldness. The battles you have fought under my command will proudly live in our nation’s history. The glory you have achieved, our mutual perils and fatigues, the graves of our comrades fallen in battle and by disease, the broken forms of those whom wounds and sickness have disabled—the strongest associations which can exist among men—unite us still by an indissoluble tie. We shall ever be comrades in supporting the Constitution of our country and the nationality of its people.”

Slavery Caused Secession

Neo-secessionists and revisionists struggle uselessly to blame the Civil War… on Federal overreach, inequitable tariffs, and outmoded economic theory- they fail to see the forest for the trees.  The historical record settles matters plainly and without ambiguity.

Future Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens delivered the clearest, most definitive explanation… for secession and the existence of a Confederate State.  Less than three weeks following Lincoln’s inauguration, Stephens defiantly declared to the nation:

 

Portrai

“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago.”

Lincoln and Civil Liberties

The Lincoln administration arrested 14,401 people… during the Civil War.  Most were never indicted and denied a speedy trial.  Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus in September of 1861 allowed the detentions to happen.  Current Lincoln scholarship trends hold that Lincoln abused civil liberties and that his historical legacy must be drawn into question.  A closer examination of the statistics shows that modern researchers are using them merely for shock value and book sales.  Compared to other Presidents using the same powers- Lincoln’s actions are clearly justified.

Lincoln_O-60_by_Brady,_1862

John Merryman was not an innocent victim… of government tyranny as portrayed by Chief Justice Roger Taney.  Merryman led a detachment of Maryland militiamen in armed resistance to troops in Federal service.  Taney was a partisan Democrat staunchly opposed to Lincoln and supportive of secessionist doctrine.  Ex parte Merryman is not legal precedent at all and cannot be cited as such- it is a political document designed to hinder Lincoln’s attempts to protect Washington and preserve the Union.  It was issued by Taney alone- scholars often make the mistake of assuming that the Supreme Court concurred with the ruling.

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Scott v. Sanford cannot be erased

Lincoln faced no mass opposition to these detentions… there were no mass protests, nor mob violence.  A closer look into the statistics shows that well over 80% of those arrested were:

  • from the Confederacy
  • Agitators in border states
  • Foreign agents supporting the enemy
  • Perpetrators of actual crimes against the Government

Far from indiscriminate arrests, the detentions were almost always a direct result of an attributable illegal act.  Rose Greenhow WAS a spy and did pass secrets to the enemyClement Vallandigham routinely denounced Lincoln on the floor of the House of Representatives and was never arrested for it– but when he publicly incited recruits to desert- he committed sedition and was arrested.

LBJ and Civil Rights

Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964…. the most significant piece of civil rights legislation in our history.  No President in the 20th century more eloquently expressed the fight for civil rights as Johnson did in 1965,

“There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem. And we are met here tonight as Americans—not as Democrats or Republicans—we are met here as Americans to solve that problem.”

MLK-and-Pres.-Johnson

Johnson also signed the Voting Rights Act… in 1965.  Johnson’s administration created the Department of Housing and Urban Development to oversee equality in public housing and all his Great Society programs were color blind.  He appointed Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court in 1967.  Johnson acted where his predecessors had only given lip service to the issue of civil rights.  Yet, his legacy is in doubt today, largely due to his off-color language and perceived personal prejudice.

Lyndon_Johnson_and_Richard_Russell

Conservatives cite Johnson’s racial feelings… as proof that Democrats have never cared about minorities; that the GOP remains the party of Lincoln, the true civil rights champion.  Johnson’s civil rights record is just another conspiracy to dupe the ignorant masses into voting Democratic.  Reconciling personal feelings with our public actions has never been an easy task.  The 24 hour news cycle is driven by a culture dependent on sound bytes as the only acceptable measure of public figures.  Perhaps it’s time we start judging a person’s actions rather than snippets of their personal conversations…?

Chancellorsville By the Numbers

Chancellorsville is often called Lee’s “perfect battle”… facing the longest odds, using the boldest tactics, and winning the ultimate triumph- but a closer examination of the battle’s casualty statistics reveal a very different picture.  Far from perfect, Lee’s victory over Hooker was a costly, bloody gamble with marginal payoff.

Last_Meeting_of_Robert_E._Lee_and_Stonewall_Jackson_at_Chancellorsville

Twice dividing his outnumbered force before a superior foe… and executing a bold flanking maneuver clouds the true cost of the battle.  Hooker’s inaction is far more striking than Lee’s tactical decisions.  By surrendering the initiative to Lee, Hooker allowed his opponent tactical discretion, thus making the flank attack possible.  Union reinforcements nullified Confederate gains on May 2.  Hooker’s refusal to counterattack with those additional troops only accentuated the modest Confederate gains.

FightinJoeHookeronMount

Lee went into battle with just under 60,000 effectives… and suffered nearly 13,000 casualties- of which, over 10,000 were wounded or killed.  Almost a quarter of his men were gone at a time when the Confederacy was increasingly unable to replace such loss.  Comparatively, Hooker entered the battle with well over 130,000 troops, and suffered over 17,000 casualties.  But, of this number, nearly 6,000 were captured(11th Corps victims of Jackson’s attack.)  Factoring the captured, Hooker’s loss was a much smaller figure of just over 11,000.  The statistics show that Lee’s army actually took the worst of the fighting- His action, and Hooker’s inaction have permanently altered the history of the battle.  Far from the great army “cut to pieces” as remembered by Horace Greeley, Hooker’s men fought well and proved their mettle in battle

Friends Only in Peace- Grant

Simon Bolivar Buckner though he knew US Grant… They roomed together at West Point, formed a strong friendship, and Buckner was the Best Man at Grant’s wedding in 1848.  In February 1862, they stood on opposite sides of the walls of Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River.  Grant’s army outnumbered Buckner’s garrison- and the noose was growing tighter.  At the Confederate council of war on the evening of February 15th, Buckner convinced his fellow officers that his old friend Grant would offer generous surrender terms… not quite…. the legend was born.

General S. B. BUCKNER,
Confederate Army.

        SIR: Yours of this date, proposing armistice and appointment of commissioners to settle terms of capitulation, is just received. No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U.S. GRANT,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.


HEADQUARTERS,
Dover, Tenn.
February 16, 1862.

Brig. Gen. U.S. GRANT,
U.S. A.

        SIR: The distribution of the forces under my command incident to an unexpected change of commanders and the overwhelming force under your command compel me, notwithstanding the brilliant success of the Confederate arms yesterday, to accept the ungenerous and unchivalrous terms which you propose.

I am, sir, your very obedient servant,
S. B. BUCKNER,
Brigadier. General, C. S. Army.

Vietnam- Policy and Intelligence Failure

America’s blind obedience to the dogmas of… monolithic communism and the Domino Theory led to tragedy of the Vietnam war.  In 1945, American intelligence officers established clear and firm links with the Viet Minh and its leader, Ho Chi Minh.  The Vietnamese nationalists of the Viet Minh were resisting Japanese rule and providing our OSS officers with valuable intelligence.  Ho Chi Minh sought the national self-determination Franklin Roosevelt seemed to be promising the world.  The OSS agents believed Ho to be the best alternative to govern Vietnam.  FDR let them both down.

America’s point man in Indochina was… Lt. Col. Archimedes Patti.  Dubbed “The Deer Team,”  Patti’s men contacted the Viet Minh and began to equip and train a select number of their best troops.  In return, the Viet Minh assisted in the recovery of downed American flyers, provided invaluable intelligence, and battled the Japanese.  With the surrender of Japan, Ho Chi Minh was prepared to move forward with Vietnamese independence- a dream thousands of years in the making.

Ho with US military intelligence, 1945
(Rene Defourneaux-Photo)

Ho Chi Minh dined with Lt. Col. Patti in late August 1945… to discuss the transfer of power and disarming Japanese troops.  Near the end of the meeting, Ho presented Patti a document- a draft of the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence he planned to release on September 2.  Patti was taken aback to read the words of Thomas Jefferson quoted reverently in the brief document.  Both men toasted the future of an independent Vietnam… Patti remembers,   “We had him, we had Ho Chi Minh on a silver platter…the Soviets were in no position to help him-only we could…I did prepare a large number, and I mean about, oh, well over fifteen position papers on our position in Vietnam. But I never knew what happened to them. Those things just disappeared, they just went down the dry well.”

Patti with General Giap

Roosevelt had already decided to give Indochina… back to the French.  Churchill insisted the French empire not be broken up, lest the British empire would follow.  Rather than disarm Japanese troops, British forces rearmed them and turned them against supporters of Ho Chi Minh’s government.  A temporary division of the country was allowed to solidify.  The OSS agents were marginalized, accused of fomenting revolution, and finally forced out of Saigon by the British commanders.  The expulsion led to the murder of Colonel Peter Dewey, America’s first casualty in Vietnam.  America had followed the wrong course, in spite of all the masterful intelligence work done by Archimedes Patti and his OSS team.  The Vietnam war was our fate