tv The Civil War Mississippi Homefront CSPAN November 26, 2021 12:24am-1:20am EST
over the next several hours, civil war scholars discuss a range of topics but first a look at the mississippi homefront during the civil war with university of southern mississippi professor susanna. >> i want to get right to the speaker. we are so happy to have her here and she's been so gracious to come in with coming in and giving the first speech. the professor of history and codirector ofs the center for te study of war and society of southern mississippi, scholar of warr and society the author of numerous books and articles on the civilil war era including te latest monograph texas brigade which we just talked about today. of the soldiers and families of the confederate's most celebrated unit her latest work is graduated in the field of digital humanity so i'm pleased
to introduce susanna. [applause] it's good to be back. thank you for that warm welcome and for having me. this is i'm out of practice in a room ofnd people and i have to t a powerpoint going. for what issues i did or did not come prepared on. but chris and the c-span crew bailed me out. it's good to see you all. i'm going to start my timer because i will be having so much fun i might not stop talking. i promise to try to be as entertaining as i can be. they fed you very well which is a cruel thing to do for you speakers of thosese in the backi will call on you.
i am talking tonight about a project i just started and i was trying to describe who first introduced me to this wonderfulc place and it's kind of an ongoing project. usually when i talk with groups it's all beautifully packaged and what i really want to do here tonight is talk about something that i'm finding and the ideas that i have. tell me where you think i might be wrong or right. you can see this question of dissent and why it matters on thee homefront and how it can impact in particular the confederate war effort. so, when we think about dissent in the civil war, these are
probably some of the issues, some of the images that might ecome to mind. you mightgh think about the richmond riot and the hanging at gainesville in the fall of 62 in the suspected unionists and traders or if you come from my neck ofer the woods in mississippi, you might know aboutw the free state of joe's replaced matthew mcconaughey. [laughter] they talk t about this question did the confederacy just kind of collapse from within or does it have anything to do with union forces that might be somewhat good at what they are doing or was it this overwhelming collapse. so using this project i'm leading right now how many of
you have worked on governors records historians and archivists already. i should have asked that one better. everybody like stephanie mccurry's book federal reckoning and getting into the records and hearing from everyday people. what this team is doing it's the state archives that already hold the papers forer all of the reconstruction for the state of mississippi, and we are taking these records where you can hear from just about everybody in mississippi. think about it like social media they just spew forth on things they are angry about. nobody writes to the governor and says you are doing a great job, love you. it's usually skewed and they are
upset but we are working with the digitized records and then the digital library putting all these documents up freely available online, no subscription and then the group that i lead in the university of mississippi we are transcribing and providing enhanced subject tagging when you see the documents i will be showing here today and i promise i'm not going to through documents on the screen if you see anything underlined and go to the website and click on it if it is a letter from mississippi, you can get every other document from ellisville. if you have an ancestor you can click on the name and find any other documents related to him. that's what, i mean, by enhanced subject tagging. ..
provide for the soldiers family if we went to war. those type of issues that's what i'm talking about the home front pressures. emancipation is this something that broke down as enslaved people start to self emancipate and rest union forces with this causing a massive breakdown on the confederate homefront? what happens in times of war. which of the stuff just always happens? there is a certain amount of defense and everything somebody will defense about something. it is what we do. it is part of your citizenship. it is dissent.
>> but the question is when did you become o so problematic it would contribute to the military can feed defeat of the confederacy? and what is the difference between dissent as opposed to true unionism as opposed toe supporting the federal cause? what does that do to that confederate war effort? so some of the things we don't always think about when we think about civil war era mississippi are guys like william t rowland to at the beginning of the war refuse to support the confederacy and refused to serve in any capacity. from north mississippi. and then when conscription was passed as you can see william t rowland flat upset i would not get conscripted i will not serve the confederacy soo they found a federal unit and they
are listed. so the favorite part of my document that it appears in august 1865 because william t rowland by is required to pledge his loyalty to the united states government in writing to theor governor the thing i just fight for the last three years and if yout can read this but please send us information on the subject of what it takes to constitute a loyal citizen from 62 through 65 i served in the calvary. this is what i i mean it is a clear example of the mississippi and from the very beginning originally serving for the confederacy but then chose to resist it.ir
he's an example of the firm unionist to take up arms serving the federal cause. by the way you see my note at the top of the screen. the quote you will always here. i told you i was out of practice. it is about 500 white mississippians that the problem with that it only counts the one that doesn't count guys like william t rowland and with those state units. but my problem is with a massive factor in the defeat in the state of mississippi still is only 1500. i don't know if it is enough to make a difference so what
i'm starting to get curious about are the african-americans you are from mississippi those that are probably more so in the union army but after minutes of patient and make a major contribution but one of the things that talk about how we are really exploring that contribution in the ways that are more of the questions we should a ask. we have the question of defense and how big of a problem will that be for that confederacy? now we have some examples ofe what i consider clear unionism you are so we loyal you take up arms for it. and then to piece this together and look again. take mississippi as a case study and test the question of
defense. the first thinger i want to make sure everybody is very clear on their very upset about conscription those that come in that come into the governor's office calling on the governor to pass or support constriction. with this measure of equality basically making sure that there was actually some early support for this as a way to make sure this was a shared suffering if youou will go people getting frustrated but if youou notice the tone this is a letter from july 31st 1862 a couple months of the passage
in the person says a call was made for volunteers and the ypeople responded.ce and then there wasn't hundred that then they enrolled every invalid in the county. and now there is an order to draft out of that sort of men and it has caused great satisfaction from a few men are left. they are not necessarily mad about conscription but how the confederate government is carrying out policy. and those that are being outraged and that freeze date of freedom jones but that is the issue.
and those of mary jones. because she is writing and as a soldier's widow. and her children are starving. her father was a judge that she was from alabama. they move north of jackson and then moved in south mississippi. she doesn't really have any connections in the community. and she is writing to the governor to say we are literally starving and no one will help me. again this is for 19th century american see the governor someone who will be there protector and help them. these are the types of letters. you will see this one in particular will definitely pleading for assistance but with this iss what i mean help
and then youou can see where she starts to take over. and forcibly the only one that i have to plow to cultivate my piece of land again increasingly problematic increasingly worrisome if this continues but this isn't necessarily the dissent she's not angry with the confederacy she just want some help a need some assistance and law and order. remember that bad on —- by the way the bigger issue isn't necessarilyea the bigger issue by 64 / 65 mississippi is breaking down in terms of civil government and legal protection and criminal prosecution and providing any ofof the basics security that communities need that will be the biggest issue for the
ability to wage wars. by the way if you notice anything highlighted if you go to the website period if you are getting tired and need to do something else right now i know it wasf good food and a lot of pasta i will tell you when we're done so if you notice what is going on here are starting to see the impact of emancipation that i was talking about as you see this question how enslaved people are leaving farms and plantations and those way up in the very the stateart of that uses have got to do something in this black line is as we feel pretty confident notwithstanding the emancipation proclamation this is january 3rd 1863 so you kind of know it's coming this
will get worse from her perspective not better with this kind of breakdown so here is another example i want to show again as they start to leave those plantations throughout the state. there's one in on the mississippi river and now within thehe enemy lines to say they have stolen five of these enslaved s men's but then listing out again is not able to farm or produce but the bigger problem will be t the breakdown of the ability to provide that security he needs for that sustainable community. so this is 1863 where we start to have this absolute basically a flood that they will be moving more and more
as union forces right in the middle the vicksburg campaign to have a very strong foothold. this is one of my favorite documents i want to take up a little bit of time with to understand exactly what i mean but the breakdown off civil control. this is a letter up from the mississippi delta. and the first complaint in the back is not necessarily that surprising is there anything to be done with the parties you have taken the oath or traveled without passing from confederate authority but here is the part that does get surprising the man writing says i captured five negroes from island 753 of them
belonged to mr. humphries one to mrs. mainly and one of the negroes was armed they were engaged and tearing down the houses. and voting we established to us collect all the negroes that he can and has several times take whatever he wanted and those of the gunboat conestoga went out a few days ago and took his overseer as prisoner but we should be reminding you of a little bit by the way if there is any genealogy in the group please see me afterwards, we have found he was an overseer before the war. and he is known for attacking
plantations were he had worked as an overseer so he seems to be doing this and there are accounts of this happening in t all over mississippi as you start to have a breakdown of control where you startin to find these alliances forming but with this overseer and that creates the chaos in the mississippi delta. so talk about the discipline of security of law and order this will be another one of the issues a way to think about. this quote comes from canton mississippi. the big rail houses. during the civil war.
and i find to my surprise the public sentiment encourages devotion from the state troops. they are veryfi inefficient. so now you are seeing is clear evidence of devotion and civilian population encouraging it to continue. and here is another example as late as february 1865 the lack of men to arrestees absentees is a serious drawback on those who have the matter in charge and basically then and they go out to prosecute them image of that punishment but there are no o courts held and that amounts to nothing and those
that are functioning in the entire state by the time of february 1865. and then you can even have unionism but isol not necessarily going to be the absolute breakdown of well. i'm not entirely convinced that white mississippians lost the will to continue to fight and with that wartime dissent but so something to come back to and then to be conserving mississippi this is a document from shortly after the war and what you have here is an officer remember the locals
and us forces have to be sent in that we don't always think about with those occupation forces in a state like mississippi were over 50 percent of the population was black and enslaved before the war began that those occupation forces a number of them some of them former slaves from mississippi doing those occupation duties including to break out the officers from the jail so the long-term role where did unionism have a tremendous effect on the war effort mississippi where did they breakdown for the confederate war for their frustrations and dissent and it is desertion and the breakdown of civil order and the use that is
recruited from the state operating withinth it. and then to think about that a number of these men who are including by the way why officers with those occupation duty in the state of mississippi long after the period of reconstruction. but the photograph are pretty sure it's in the 18 nineties not positive. if you ever get to work in the state archives talking about this over dinner make sure you talk to jeff. if you are researching anything about the civil war department of archives and history you can go in there and i'm digging but agree archivist or librarian will know where everything is so you should look att this or
that. want to make sure i give some well-deserved credit but this is what i mean when we are not always thinking about the long-term impacts that you want —- if they have had in the war effort of mississippi and also i don't think we have find enough about how those units were raised. i went to shift gears on you a little bit and t propose something the field needs to consider so we have moved beyond that model to approach the studies which developed after years of a prejudice model with the role played and then into their heroic celebratory narrative. and now with the work ofna those like jonathan and others who try to explore some have horrible desertion rates they
do not all perform well in battle it's anotherle military unit these are just other military units to examine to try to understand. one thing we need to do if we explore the question to the defeat of the confederacy is how these units are recruited. when we study civilun war units, most of us use the old mcpherson model. with initial motivation you have sustaining motivation and combat motivation. what initially motivated them to join whatever forces? and what initially got them inspired enough? were talking about volunteers. then there is sustaining motivation what has them going wednesday get into camp and they realize army life is
miserable your told what to do and when to do it and you lose your freedoms that is what keeps you going when the battles are not going well. combat motivation and what keeps you going in those battles themselves? what are the things i don't think we are doing is to realize the difference in how they are raised many will be enslaved man to be plucked off plantations and then going into federal on their own. so think about confederate companies in the average civil war company a lot of them are in the same town of the same community they know each other and our family members within the same regiment and those that we have been studying in mississippi are not recruited that way. they don't come into the unit with any kind of that unit
cohesion so talking about the fact to commit with tremendous frustrations where they feel they have escaped slavery and then still feeling controlled in the union army. that's what they signed up for. if we look at the high desertion recent think of the other factors that are causing it. it with those recruitment methods but then we need to think about what is that motivation? they are trying to get enough guys in the race to win the war. and i have often wondered is like those soldiers to see african-american recruits are seen as the outsiders to the union cause.
so thinking what the motivations may be becausear they are not viewed as part of the american cause. we have to understand why they are effective in my they are not as effectiveso that is something else we have to consider. so finally with sustaining motivation they sign on for three years andnd in the war ends before those are up which means it is for three solid years which means the wars over you do not get to go home there has been some scholarship that argues it is an a artificial policy by say no they sign up for three years. look at any army or us forces. and this is what happens.
and then to think about and they have to stay in. that's how they signed up which means that this is why we go to the situations where a lot of the men are on the occupation duty that they have long active for and why the men would wind up in the mississippi long-term even if they're not from here. so what i i had hoped to do tonight was to show you why those papers matter. if you are at all interested in collections like these, the mississippi project was started if anybody is interested in border war history? our project was inspired by the civil war project on —- in kentucky. we have 3000.
if you go to c w rgm.org you can find records in 1859 and going all the way right now ithrough 1863. if you are really interested in military history, narrow down your search for telegrams they are all starting to go up including take the military telegrams to track the chaos that you have like the vicksburg campaign. i would love to do this with the meridian campaign if you known. anything this is where you see great sherman developing strategies w to use in georgia and the carolinas later that year. if you are interested in anything like this like i have been focusing on tonight with traditional military history to understand what they are going through but also the
back story to the books you have been studying and reading over many years. questions. any questions? baloney think dissent was a lot bigger than you think. do you want to go ahead and repeat the question? >> one thing that intrigued me is a person like wt roland who is from mississippi he left to join the union army were left when he got my guess what happened when he got home? >> this is the fun part because we have almost no letters that i have been able to find. after the war, i can find him in mississippi for a while. he is justin north mississippi.l
he comes back and i lose track of him after the 18 eighties. my sense is that it becomes an increasingly uncomfortable place to be for union veterans. it just does and then in mississippi up through 1890 and then again it is just because of the jim crow south and segregationist policies and also what happened was the white ga are post and the arguments that were tossed out there was the idea they are in a tenuous situation as it is. and to have alliances with fellow black soldiers it will not help them in their
business contacts or anything else but what is one cool thing at the national level that the overall commander absolutely if youf remember this part says it needs to be integrated we have to stand together after the war. that could be the other reason why it is a breakdown. but he certainly supported the union enough to take up arms and fight against southerners our fellow mississippians because the one battalion that is organized in the state and then you have to fight against fellow mississippians. and then to parse that word in
the nuanced way but is there room here for words like dissatisfaction? people who really are not against the cause but is that a descriptor for what they try to explain in some of these letters? >> so it is a very clear action. you are frustrated at the federal level whatever it is. and i thank you are right. there is that dissatisfaction that you will find dissatisfied people. it is a war. mississippi was not a fun place to be and is a hard-fought state. so that is why i like that
were dissatisfaction i might use that. had we made too much of that tinto little of those that are taking up arms to create serious problems in the idea of the breakdown of civil control. i was going to say this is profound it is a pretty classic argument that we made a little too much of dissent and too much of conscription. and i did not think that about nine months ago. as a read more and more documents as folks are asking skfor the exemption they are not necessarily saying it is unfair but we need this bookmaker making boots for the army. so if you read the book about
the army court of virginia that the poor are overrepresented. and the army ignored in virginia but now i am wondering if there is something similar to that in mississippi. i don't know. i cannot go that far but we've made too much of an issue. >> what about the middleground of taking up arms or sabotage of this type of activities? >> . >> i know the description of the american revolution how many were patriots or how many were loyalist and then the third in between. you definitely saw a lot of people like that. they are just trying to. get the crop in. or maybe they retired from the army and then they will send them back they are not
convinced anything goes well but that doesn't mean to take up the arms for the union but the problem is you cannot have a war effort once too many people are doing that. was going to put it up there but your eyes are starting to glaze they realize they had too many documents. they are rounding up deserters from that confederate federal level because they are closer to home. they are desiredhe on —- deserving but they are serving that confederate cause. you have to parse this out and be careful we don't just jump on these words. organize in terms of political parties and voting and things like that?
and organize dissent coming together with the same cause? the most erratic s example is the case thatt i put up which is a case in the mississippi delta. you can find organize dissent like the bushwhacker are those who are held together to make sure that nobody can come into force them back into service. we are finding evidence of that. they just don't want to serve the confederacy. >> and a defined the governor answered the correspondence? >> brief. very brief. [laughter] this is all i know i pour out my horror —- heart and soul you say thank you very much i'm leave you have written?
and nine times out of town —- nine times out of ten they will be there but the signed photograph. no. i was verycu articulate. but the responses are that sometimes you see them very quickly on the back of a letter that most of it is in the executive journals. and then he hired himself out and then to pay a portion of his earnings a man who owned him but then to look at the state budget so there is a tax on all wartime earnings. but then to be taxed on the
money met by this point either august or september of 1865 very shortly after the war and when you can find the's experiences all people from all backgrounds and then to say i paid my wartime earnings and has a statement included in his letter to say as a portion of his earnings so the argument they make to the governor we could even either give me back c the money that has been collected or figure how much you or me for my labor as the enslaved man but there is as. little note at the back left office is given back is money he's not ready to tackle the bigger issue. sometimes you can see the answer on the back of the
document that for a lot of them we will go into those ledgers. >> how much do they feel a freedom to dissent i would think a lot of people in the state would not feel that because all of those hangings in texas they read your letter go send somebody to get this property or something like that. it is hard not to measure that if they didn't d have that freedom to dissent. >> the best evidence i can give you is that the letters keep i pouring in the complaints keep pouring in. so if people are feeling too scared to continue they still write the governor but where i thank you may have a case is how openly are they
dissenting? is it safe? it is about a local community attacking within its own may be deserted but not unionist. so it's hard to measure. but you do see these cases of the deserters being protected. so speaking out against the confederacy and the goals and then it will actually increase later on and in the 19th century start to get this lost cause popular memory it is a unified lights out and everybody is motivated if you look at the monument downtown in mississippi it talks about that unified group forgetting about the fact part of the
freeze data jones and even as a war we are not unified so i certainly have not heard cases of the government sending people out. >> i understand you using mississippi as a model and how generic do you think your findings are throughout the south? >> i don't know. is a good historian i will tell you i would not do that. you can't. this is why t folks would say that using bill players book and white southerners understood and i am looking at some of the accounts and i don't know.
but the more i dig into these letters, i don't know. i'm almost to the point now they did not necessarily like the draft. but they don't seem upset about it as the documents i had read earlier and those that made it seem like with a wealth of documents it's almost as though people want exemptions but it's almost as though they understand this is part of what is happening. so you just have to do it againer the upper south is different and the deep south you cannot do the generalities. but i wish they would. is an important part of understanding it's important part of understanding how were wars are lost. owe trained forces to win more than they have to stay in occupied. that is not what we do.
so with reconstruction you can understand the leg 81 —- those legacies that some hoped. >> . >> . >> and with those occupation troops. and those that were used not only because a sign that for three years andik had to stay, but they liked it. they like to being occupying the territory to show their manliness a black man with buttons and a gun in the neighborhood shows that they have emancipated themselves.
so white troops said they signed up the fight to go home but black troops often used as occupation troops because it was something positive for them. >> i thank you have to do again because so do you feel you are having an impact ournd my commander doesn't know what he is doing? to say this was the experience but number two but there is a drive. but there will be different motivations sometimes getting to a union army is a way to get out of slavery. so for a while to obey a powerful force and with a lot
of those letters they did not even want to sign up but it was the only option to get away from slavery. so you really have to break down and what is true. and then to get away from the 54 massachusetts model looking at units formed out of enslavement who are trying to escape her be pulled into service because some of these are meeting recruiting quotas and even at the end of the line it's an incredibly miserable experience. it will be a mixed bag. >> since you didn't mention it am i correct in assuming that
weren't for those historians in the back i cannot think of one. and then to think of complaining that by no means and those that are still on the books thatto are the worst in us history i have a phd student who is trying to help folks understand there were smaller draft riots and only philadelphia but all over the place. >> anythingg else? >> so is not that you have organized writing like new
york city but people living in creating a greater havoc that starts i individually and that gets bigger and bigger. >> anything else? and how much it people don't want to get involved. so i guess what i'm trying to say is the jimmy stewart thing at shenandoah. >> yes. i would imagine there are peoplegi there. is what i call rural
isolationism so look at what based on the possessions in the states by county come if you take the whole state you cannot see it but if you break it down and you can see pockets. and that's what i mean always be aware they are not happy. they want to be left alone the deafly have those people i see a lot of documents and tax. not use that much text. i
if you have teachers in your families and communities share the lesson plans and how they can use these. a we also always use volunteer transcribers right now we have so v many good volunteers we can literally barely keep up with them they are going to the document so fast. if you are interested in a project like this byo the way. everything goes through tuesday independent review and is verified. don't worry it still being done. think everybody. i enjoyednj it.