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the bond of respect between enemies - General Civil War Talk - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Sun Jun 10th, 2007 03:31 am
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JoanieReb
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I have pulled this out of "Johan Steele's" very thoughtful reply in the "Blue Motives" thread.  I would not be at all surprised to learn that such a thread already exists here on the CWi Discussion Board; but, I haven't seen it, so I'll take my chances.

There was a bond of respect between enemies that the staybehinders couldn't fathom.  Men who have shared the mud and danger had a tendency to respect each other. 


 

I am sure we all know and love many of the stories which show the sympathy and compassion that the average soldiers of each side felt towards those of the other side.  The whole trading coffee and tobacco thing.  Sharing newspapers.  The Confederate Pickett whom would not carry out the night attack on Fort Stedman,  even when the Confederacy was in it's eleventh-plus hour, without warning his Union counterpart in the last minute, complete with apology (after cooly fooling the Yank about the noise going on on his side of the "pickett fence"). Then. there was the small body of Union men whom, in the first days of April, 1865, came over to an equally small group of Confederate men under flag of truce, to share their rations with the starving Southerners.  Whom, in turn, antied up all the tobacco that they had, to return the favor.  Or, maybe they just said they did, to save face - I can't imagine that they had anything much left to share or give back.

We all love these stories.  The same is true of WWII:  every June 6th, I see a D-Day rerun on The History Channel of a man talking about how he was completely vunerable, and in a German's sights, on the beach - and the German just looked at him and did not shoot.  And, the stories of the Germans and Americans making an informal truce during Christams Eves - I believe the movie, "A Midnight Clear" was based on this.

Both enemies, in both wars, recalled sharing song with each other, from across the lines/trenches.

I read a  book awhile that made me so sick I didn't know what to do, about the atrocities of TWBTS - both sides.  I'd have to go through my library records to find the title and author.  Suffice it to say, I am sure it is not the only horrified and indignant account of what we would now consider war crimes, by both sides, during The Late Very Unpleasant Unpleasantness.

I have read accounts, from Southerner's in Elmira prison camp, about how they were bullied by the guards "of color", until those guards' units actually saw battle, then the guards treated them with a "soldier's respect", and their wives gave small kindnesses.

And, how, when Robert E. Lee's son, Rooney was wounded, then captured by the enemy,  Lee realized that, in almost any other war, the Northerners would have killed Rooney to hurt Lee, but this was a different sort of war, and Lee could hope that his old comrades - who had become "Those People"  would see to Rooney's welfare.

And, I have read equal and opposite favors and kindnesses being shown Northerners by Southerners.

And, about how Southern soldiers were struck by the northern civilians' amazement that Southerners looked just like Northerners, if you didn't consider the uniform (or lack there-of).  (Did you think we'd have tails and hooves? - got that reference nearby, if anyone wants verification.)

Then, of course, the deeds of "Beast Butler".  And, Sherman's March to the Sea.

And, one of my favorite quotations, from, if I recall, a foot soldier:  "Heck, if the genenals had just left it to the soldiers to work out, we would have had this war resolved years ago."

Perhaps I have babbled way too much here, just trying to show that I am not ignorant on the subject.

But I would love to have a thread where we talk about the common (and even uncommom) soldiers' relationship to those on the other side, and share amusing (and maybe horrific) stories. So, I am trying to start a thread to that end.

I promise to shut up and just read for awhile if You Enlightened and Knowledgable Others out there will please post.

Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

Last edited on Sun Jun 10th, 2007 03:51 am by JoanieReb



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 Posted: Sun Jun 10th, 2007 04:49 pm
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Johan Steele
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Silent Night by Weintraub details the WWI Christmas truce started by a few boys singing charols back and forth.  Superb read.

Incidents during the Civil War abound; to the point where they were not really incidents but IMO commonplace.

At Chattanooga during the seige some Union boys invited the opposing picketts to church... and they went; returning to their lines after lunch.

On the March to the Sea a detachement of pickets found some refugees on the side of the road. They were too tired to run anymore and "didn't care if we killed them or left them to rot."  The men noted a woman wearing a Reb jacket and asked about it.  It had been her husbands; he died at Atlanta.  "What Regiment?"  1st TN...  "Damn fine outfit... there's a house just back the road a mile or so we'll put you up there."  They wouldn't let us stay... Soldiers smile; they will now; otherwise we burn it.  I can't recall where the house is located but remember the story from a letter and finding the place on a map.  When I was stationed in SC I went to visit the place; found the town and went into a little museum, talked to the gal behind the desk & told her the story.  She told me the rest of the story: after the war the refugee family bought the place for a $20 gold eagle one of the skirmishers had given them and stayed.

On the March to the Sea the picture of a young soldier on the wall would often save a house from burning... and in one case a Reb Sgt sans an arm stayed at home.   No bummers or anyone else bothered him; his house & property survived unscathed... Wheelers men had already taken his horses.  After the War some of Wheelers men came back through the area and found that the bank was about to reposses the house and land.  They "acquired" a wagon loaded him and his family up and took him west to Texas w/ them.  

Exchange an officer overheard:  "Hey Johnny; we won't shoot yours if you won't shoot ours?"  "What about the damned officers?"  "Officers don't count."  For some odd reason the officer made himself scarce.

Again on the March to the Sea, some Texas Cav came upon a Union hanging party.  There were 2 men about to be strung up.  The Union skirmishers had taken to cover and were ready to scrap but they had left two men w/ ropes about their necks ready to be hanged.  "What you bluebellies up to?"  "Soldier's Justice."  "What?"  "They raped a girl... can we pass her to you?"  "Fair nuff."  The skirmishers were let alone & men hanged, credit for the hanging was given to Wheeler's men and the girl was taken from the area.

Savannah Christmas 1864/65 boys of an Illinois Regiment got together and made toys, the idea spread to other Regiments in the Brigade, Division and finally Corps.  At least 5000 toys (probably more as there were more toys than children) were distributed to Savannah children by Santa Claus operating out of a Union supply wagon w/ "Santa's Sleigh" painted on the side.

After the war some Regulars (Cav) on patrol & led by a Sgt came upon an odd scene; three men were about hang a man wearing a Reb jacket.  "What's going on here?"  We're going to hang us a Reb!"  "Why?"  "He's an uppity Reb."  "Cut him down and let him be... he's a soldier going home."  Louis Lamour read about the incident and used a version of it in one of his Sackett novels.

 

There are literally hundreds of stories that come to mind... they are immesly understated in the study of the ACW.



 Posted: Sun Jun 10th, 2007 06:48 pm
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ole
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Lest we get too treacley, there are also tales of another kind, on both sides.

Ole



 Posted: Sun Jun 10th, 2007 07:31 pm
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Johan Steele
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ole wrote: Lest we get too treacley, there are also tales of another kind, on both sides.

Ole

I know; refreshing though to run across stories of compassion instead of hatred; helps us to remember that they were men.



 Posted: Mon Jun 11th, 2007 12:29 am
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CleburneFan
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This has been a very moving topic. I've been reading "Confederate Wrath; Yankee Fury" and this thread is a welcome respite from that very difficult book. Thanks guys.



 Posted: Mon Jun 11th, 2007 03:36 pm
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younglobo
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good tread , have not run across many stories in my reading though, Alot of movies show this side of the conflict , always wonder if it is like a urban legend thing.

 



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 Posted: Fri Jun 15th, 2007 11:02 am
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PvtClewell
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Speaking of drinking from the same canteen, don't forget Richard Kirkland at Marye's Heights in Fredericksburg. Nice boy. Maybe he was an angel.


And do you suppose those stories about Spangler's Spring in Gettysburg are true, or just aprochryphal?



 Posted: Fri Jun 15th, 2007 01:23 pm
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Fuller
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In his Memoirs, Grant observed, "While a battle is raging, one can see his enemy mowed down by the thousand, or ten thousand, with great composure, but after the battle these scenes are distressing, and one is naturally disposed to alleviate the sufferings of an enemy as a friend."



 Posted: Fri Jun 15th, 2007 02:34 pm
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David White
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Fuller:

Just another example of why Grant's Memoirs are so great.  I'm sure he especially felt that latter emotion due to his uneasiness at the sight of blood.



 Posted: Fri Jun 15th, 2007 06:18 pm
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Fuller
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I agree David.  Yet another example from the same book...

"At the appointed hour the garrison of Vicksburg marched out of their works and formed line in front, stacked arms and marched back in good order.  Our whole army present witnessed this scene without cheering.  Logan's division, which had approached nearest the rebel works, was the first to march in; and the flag of one of the regiments of his division was soon floating over the court house.  Our soldiers were no sooner inside the lines than the two armies began to fraternize.  Our men had had full rations from the time the seige commenced, to the last.  I myself saw our men taking bread from their haversacks and giving it to the enemy they had so recently been engaged in starving out.  It was accepted with avidity and with thanks."



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