PoP's<br><b> War Crimes Against Southern Soldiers & Civilians</b>: "Wake up, you little bastard rebel..........."


"Wake up, you little bastard rebel..........."



   General Nathan Bedford Forrest once exclaimed that a Tennessean in blue was an outrage and hoped the blue wool would “burn good in Hell”. Bedford Forrest was true to the call of his State and considered it treasonous for a Southern man to fight in Abe Lincoln’s Army.
   On December 8, 1860 Tennessee Governor Isham Harris called for the State legislature to hold a special session to take up the issue of secession. By February 9th, 1861, Tennessee voters had rejected a call for a secessionist convention. Tennessee, unlike her neighbors in the deep South, did not hold slavery as an overriding issue and preferred to stay in the Union.
On April 15, President Lincoln called on Tennessee to provide troops for the Union, however, Governor Harris refused and called for a second convention and on May 6th, Tennessee voted to go to a popular referendum to consider secession. On June 8th,
Tennessee decided to break from the Union, as the issue of States Rights overrode the Unionist appeals of East Tennessee.  
   On June 17, 1861, voting was held “for and against” representation in the Confederate States Congress. The voting took place in Greeneville…Sullivan County voting 1,586 for separation with the opposing vote at 627; the vote for representation being 1,567 for and 637 against. In contrast, Carter County was 86 for separation and 1,343 against; 86 for representation and 1,343 against.
By August 1st Tennessee voted to adopt the Constitution of the Confederate States of America, thereby laying the basis for secession; Tennessee becoming a hotbed of contention by both North and South. Sullivan County sent her sons to the Southern Army, Carter and Johnson County to the North. Southern primary units receiving Sullivan County men were the 19th, 59th, 60th, 61st and 63rd Infantry Regiments, while others made their way westward to enlist with other regiments. Carter and Johnson County Unionists made their way primarily into the ranks of the 13th Regiment Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry and 4th Tennessee Infantry Regiment under Colonel Daniel Stover, a son-in-law of Andrew Johnson.
   Those who remained suffered dearly in all of upper East Tennessee; with no side escaping criminal predations from bands of lawless raiders of lives and property, mainly known as “bushwhackers”. Such was the life and fate of many good citizens during this holocaust of “brother against brother.”
   The events of nearly 150 years ago still raise arguments to the present day, and it is usually easy to get heated discussions going on blogs and web sites, pro and con. Everyone has his or her own opinion based primarily on their perception of the causes of that heinous period in history. Re-enactments of battles are popular events, and the tales of gallantry of various Regiments and heroic acts in battles are acted out with the utmost respect to detail. Organizations abound for the descendants of those who fought this great war: The Order of The Confederate Rose, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Grand Army of the Republic and others. As a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I feel no need to elaborate on my beliefs (stated in the first paragraph)…..for that is not the purpose of this article. One must do his own research, and there is no dearth of information. Library shelves are full of books on the subject, and the Internet is buzzing.
   The treatment of and plight of the Negro populace of that period is the object of many historians lectures and books. I have read many and can conclude only that these people had endured their condition for centuries prior to the War for Southern Independence. The institution was part of both Northern and Southern cultures, with the South using their labor in agrarian pursuits. While considered by most to be morally wrong to own the person and labor of another, a primary concern was how to end it in the most humane manner. Europe had done so without bloodshed. America could have done the same, had not Northern abolitionists used the issue as a catalyst, for it certainly was not the cause. It is known that Southern taxation had became burdensome in financing Lincoln’s “internal improvements” and enriching Northern industrialists, and slavery, as well as secession was legal under the Constitution. With the South paying seventy per cent of the nation’s taxes, Lincoln could not afford to lose his cash cow, and if necessary, would beat the South into submission by military force. But great loss of life would be the result of his war.
   The North certainly had no moral high ground in regard to racial attitudes: From the History of the Thirteenth Regiment by Regiment Adjutants Samuel W. Scott and Samuel W. Angel, we read: “There was a‘Contraband Camp’ at Gallatin and it looked if all the colored people in the country had gathered there. The Northern soldiers, who had preceded us at this place, had made the ‘colored man and brother’ think he was the whole thing. When we first went there our men had to give the pavement to these‘Contrabands’, who did not seem to think they had anything to do but parade the sidewalks. Our men soon concluded they needed good strong walking sticks. Provided with these the colored gentry soon found it convenient to vacate the sidewalk in ample time when he saw a‘Thirteenth’ soldier approaching. These mountaineers had known the colored man only as a slave and had lost little sleep over him in any way; they were not fighting to free the slave but to restore the Union. He might be free for all they cared, but his place was not in front; he must ‘go way back and sit down, and not be sassy.” [It is curious Scott & Angel would state "the Northern soldiers, who had preceded us at this place........", when it is known the 8th Tennessee Cavalry was in Gallatin prior to the 9th and 13th Regiments.]
   In War Crimes Against Southern Civilians by Walter Brian Cisco: “Robbery was common, as was sexual abuse of black women by Yankee soldiers. A U.S. cavalry regiment recruited from among East Tennessee Unionists and described by one girl as ‘the meanest men I ever saw’ rode into Gallatin in May 1864 and began a reign of terror. They torched two newly established schools for black children, murdered one freedman, and swore they would—as soon as they could—kill every black in town”. [This was possibly done, as previously mentioned, by the vaunted Thirteenth Tennessee—men from Carter and Johnson Counties—who committed these war crimes, or possibly the 8th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment or 9th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, also comprised of East Tennessee Unionists and in Gallatin in May of 1864.]  
   A Company of the 13th, Co G, is also“credited” with the capture and death of General John Hunt Morgan in Greeneville, TN. There are reports of witnesses who claim General Morgan was murdered after he surrendered, but of course, denied by Scott & Angel.   In Between the States: Bristol Tennessee/Virginia During the Civil War by V.N. “Bud” Phillips stories are told of Bristol citizens, including women and children being abused, beaten and shot by Yankee invaders. One story of particular interest to this writer is the story of a slave in the home of a Mrs. Seabright. The slave, named Safrilla, was watching the Seabright’s one year old baby sleeping on an open blanket near an open fireplace. It was in December of 1864 and General Burbridge was in Bristol to put “holy fear” into the local citizens as well as “visit” their homes. A Yankee soldier entered the home, and seeing the folded blanket the child was laying on, jerked it from beneath the child while yelling, “Wake up, you little bastard rebel, and see what a real Yankee looks like.” As the child screamed, Safrilla arose and without hesitation seized a fire poker and broke the Yankee’s skull. Safrilla wrapped the soldiers bleeding head in a throw rug, pulled him into the kitchen, dropping his body through a trap door to the cellar. She pushed a huge cupboard over the trap door. She then bodily threw Mrs. Seabright into her bed and told her to pretend to be seriously ill: “Now ye play sick; lay still and look bad.” She then raked coals and ashes over the blood stains in the floor and hid the soldier’s rifle under a bed. When the soldiers missed the dispatched child molester, they went looking for him. When they got to the Seabright home, Safrilla answered: “Oh sho he come here, but I told him they got the pox and he hightailed it and left.” Looking at Mrs. Seabright she said, “they got the pox, they got the pox.” The Yankees left on the run.
    When General Burbridge was told a soldier was missing, he threatened to burn Bristol to the ground…..but one of his officers convinced him he saw the soldier running toward Blountville, a possible deserter. Bud Phillips believes that the officer was perhaps from Bristol or had relatives in the town, thus sparing the town more misery from the invading army. 
There are many references of the black population of the South protecting their Southern homes, for close bonds had been formed over many generations. Some served in the Southern Army, fighting beside their masters in a common defense of their homeland. The number can be debated, but is an historical fact.

References and suggested reading:

Alice Williamson Diary—David N. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library; Duke University War Crimes Against Southern Civilians by Walter Brian Cisco
The Day Dixie Died by Thomas and Debra Goodrich
History of the Thirteenth Regiment Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry by Scott & Angel
Between the States Bristol Tennessee/Virginia During the Civil War by V.N. “Bud”Phillips
Adventures of Daniel Ellis The Union Guide by Himself

The Real Lincoln by Thomas J. DiLorenzo The Confederacy’s Greatest Cavalryman Nathan Bedford Forrest by Brian Steel Wills

William C. “Bill” Hicks/26 July, 2010


















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In 1866, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton reported that according to the Commisary General of Prisoners,
over 26,000 Confederate POWs died in prisons and hospitals.