[civilwarwest] Re: Political smear in 1864
- Jack -
I believe that the book you are thinking of is by the late Frank Klement
(Prof. at Marquette University) entitled "Dark Lanterns: Secret Political
Societies, Conspiracies and Treason Trials in the Civil War". Dr. Klement
also wrote "Copperheads in the Middle West", "Lincoln's Critics: The
Copperheads of the North", and "The Limits of Dissent: Clement L.
Vallandigham and the Civil War".
Clement L. Vallandigham was indeed a "Peace Democrat" congressman from Ohio.
The "Peace Democrats" were also known as "Butternuts" to their friends,
and of course, "Copperheads" to their enemies. Vallandigham was determined
to end the war at all costs, and this determination led to him delivering an
electrifying speech on May 1, 1863, smack dab in the midst of the crucial
election campaign seasojn of 1863. He was subsequently arrested by Maj.
Gen. Ambrose Burnside (then commanding the Department of Ohio after the
disastrous "mud march" of Dec. 62). Although Vallandigham refused to defend
himself during his military trial, he did plead his case to the public at
large. Lincoln had no wish to litigate Burnside's arrest in civil court,
and decided to reduce his sentence from imprisonment for the duration of the
war to banishment to the South. Gen. Burnside protested Lincoln's decision
saying "In case he should now be sent South it would open the Government and
myself to the charge of having changed the sentence of the commission, which
in a legally organized court is not possible." His reply from the Lincoln
administration was that "He [the President] thinks the best disposition to
be made of Vallandigham is to put him beyond the lines, and directs you
execute the order without delay." Consequently, Vallandigham was banned to
the Confederacy, but then went to Canada and returned to the U.S. to
campaign against Lincoln in 1864, but by then was really not more than a
political nuisance, having been ousted by his consituents in Ohio by a large
The 1863 arrest of Clement Vallandigham is an interesting side-show to the
big show. Southern Ohio, Illinois & Indiana did have a lot of Southern
sympathizers - Company G of the 15th Tennessee Vol. Inf. was composed of
Illinois men who went south to fight for the Confederacy, as an example.
But I still stand by my earlier post that the majority of the soldiers in
the Union Army were Lincoln men - Lincoln knew it himself - "the pen is
mightier than the sword", etc.
I close with one last portion of a letter from Henry Walsh, Co. I, 29th Wis.
to his "Dear Mother", dated Sept. 17, 1864 which just about sums it all up:
"Charles Merrill (also of Co. I) wrote home a while ago to his father and
gave the Copperheads fits and his Father opened the letter and scratched out
"Dear Father" and sent it back to him as much to say he did not own him as a
son. Charley felt pretty bad about it, but said, "Let him go - there is a
hear after coming when things will be different". a man that will do that
to a son of his when he is in the Army ought to be hung. He is worse than a
Rebel. I would respect a Rebel - a real Butternut more than such a man. I
tell you the Copperheads has got to look out for themselves when the
soldiers get home or there will be a war in the North and maby a few less
Copperheads! They can have their way now, but the time is a coming when
they will have to keep mum or suffer the consequences. I tell you the Army
dont make Copperheads by eny means. Men that have come down here and fought
the Rebels for three years cant stand it to go home and have them praise the
South and say the North cant whip the South and all such things as that.
You may think that I am a blowing but I cant help it - it is so! I am a
Union man and am a going to vote for Abe if I get to vote at all."
>Subject: [civilwarwest] Political smear in 1864
>Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 14:32:00 EST
> Hello Group:
> Some days ago I posted a note expressing "skepticism" in the integrity
>the voting process. I offer the question once again in the light of prior
>postings emphasizing the political aspect alone... meaning the down and
>(not unlike some of our major cities were noted for in the 1950-60's).
>question should not be interpreted to denigrate the many diarists and the
>idealism they express nor the obvious repudiation of McClellan (however
>misty-eyed) by his former troops.
> However, the stark realities, it seems to me,can bear further
>and I am referring in addition to the checkerboard of political sentiment
>Missouri an apparently sincere political position held by Democrats in
>Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio in favor of McClellan. Was McClellan a
>Copperhead or traitor or a legitimate candidate of a Constitutional-minded
> Citing from memory,there is an extensive list of Constitutional
>violations noted in an excellent book by a History Prof at one of the
>Midwestern Universities called The Dark Lantern Societies, published by
>I'm sorry I can't be more specific but I simply can't find the little
>I do recall buying from LSU some years ago.
> The essence of the book cover the Copperheads (Sons of Liberty and a
>couple of other similar societies) and their actual minute power base which
>was blown far out of proportion in terms of propaganda. A prominent
>Valindigham (sp?) and I believe the former Governor of Indiana or Illinois
>were tried by a Military Court and later their conviction rescinded in the
>proper Civilian Court. People were imprisoned without trial or charges
>filed. A Col. Sweet completely rigged the conviction (later overturned) of
>over a hundred people for planning to aid a prison breakout of Confederate
>prisoners as well as burning the City of Chicago. In short, the book
>develops a fascinating backdrop for the '64 elections.
> Some of you within the group are far more informed than I on the
>theater. Perhaps, y'all might share a note from the diary of one of your
>Democrat (or even Copperhead) ancestors. What say you, Shotgun, about this
>barely noticed thread of history? I am, group,
> Jack O'Connor
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