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Old 04-25-2007, 08:26 PM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

Oh, slavery had nothing to do with it--Lincoln used the slavery issue to bolster his point about reunification. He was hoping to create an instant 5th column. From the very formation of this country we have been a nation of bickering states--each state is sovereign (VA is techncally a British Commonwealth as is Massachusets) operating under a federal umbrella.

ALL points about the cause of the civil war are valid and at the same time they are not. The south did not want the north interferring in its business and evetually the steam built up and finally blew at fort sumter.

We talk about brother fighting brother during the civil war-ironically, the north and the south were just two feuding brothers who finally had it with each other.

Slaves were pawns used by both the north and the south--which makes the notion of slavery even more dastardly in that context in this country because when slaves were freed, they were not welcome anywhere and that is tragic.

Now, back to my mint julip...
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Old 04-25-2007, 09:08 PM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

Gosh, Jay ... are you one of them secesh? But you're right ... I don't think it's actually possible to pin down all the causes of that war or the way people were used. Lincoln primarily didn't want to be known as the president who let the United States divide. Slavery was simply a pawn in the great game. In 1864 Lincoln was interested in an idea to take all the slaves and send them back to Africa ... Nigeria I think. Very very few in the north welcomed the freed slaves and there were precious few of the soldiers in the northern armies who had any intention of fighting to free the slaves. After the Emancipation Proclamation, entire units rebelled and many deserted. The civilians didn't want more competition for jobs. After the great potato famine in Ireland from 1845-1850 tens of thousands of Irish immigrated and entered the competition for a few jobs. The racism against them actually still exists in places though it's watered down now. Signs in windows that read "Help Wanted. Irish need not apply" were quite common. That's one reason there were so many Irish regiments (on both sides) - it was a job.

Ironically, slavery nearly died a natural death in this country in the late 18th century. But it was a northerner, Eli Whitney, who invented the cotton gin and overnight made slavery very profitable. It was only a very small percentage of southerners who could afford slaves, but those few were the wealthy and powerful ... and paranoid. It was their greatest fear that the slaves would band together somehow and rise up to kill their owners. That's why they were forbidden to learn to read/write nor could they meet in groups.

And this quote should absolutely shock those who somehow think Lincoln was a man of the ages in his outlook on the black race. I think that is an unfair assessment ... he was a product of his times:

"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."
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Old 04-25-2007, 09:19 PM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

You know, Ken you really NEED to sit down and write a narrative and use these drawings as illustrations for a book. You tell truthful versions of the civil war but your writing is very compelling. You should consider it.
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Old 04-25-2007, 10:15 PM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

Ken, Jay -

I believe that slavery was a major factor in that it was a constant element in the 20 to 40 years' political life of the country preceding the Civil War, in particular around the question of "What to do with the new states...?" ..that were being created out of the lands of the Louisiana Purchase and the Mexican War. Would these new states be slave states or would they be free states? The answer in each case tipped the political power balance one way or the other as the years went by. Various devices and compromises were attempted. They all failed. Then came Kansas, and to paraphrase the late Sen. Dirkson, a skirmish here, a massacre there and pretty soon you're talking real warfare.

I think slavery was also a major factor in the outcome of the war. The Civil War was the first modern war, the first industrial war. It was fought with textile mills and iron foundries, railroads and steam power. The south's "peculiar institution" kept its economy rural and provided no incentive for the industrialization that would have eventually required a more skilled, more educated labor force. From the first shot to the last, the north always had more guns, more ammunition, more trains, more uniforms, more shoes, more food, more machines and more men. Some historian has written that shortly after Gettysburg, Lee had his last soldier in uniform. All the north had to do was to keep fighting. It was a question of simple, brutal arithmetic. Lincoln and Grant, it has been said, both understood this.

If I am wrong in this understanding, please set me right about it.
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Old 04-25-2007, 10:17 PM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

Thanks Jay. As I said, I've read hundreds of books, memoirs, histories and even most of the gigantic Official Records of the War the Rebellion. It retains it's fascination to me even after all that ... and there is still so much I have yet to learn, so much I don't know and have never even heard about. I've been told that I string words together nicely but I really haven't the time. I have only recently begun to draw and though I've made much improvement, I feel the need to continue and see what I actually am capable of doing. That takes a lot of time as we all know. So many of the stories of the war have already been written that I do not think there is much of a need for whatever I might come up with. And on top of that, I'm writing all this from memory (I did look up the quotes but I knew what I was looking for) .. in a real book I would have to spend a great deal of time researching everything for complete order .. which brings us back to time.

It's quite premature just now, but you did give me a thought. Once I get a good number of these portraits, perhaps some sort of book focusing solely on the drawings might be of interest to some. I know some of the other historical artists have done that (Don Troiani for one) and it met with great success. But I must do enough drawings to warrant such a thing and that is going to be the real journey for me here.

Thanks,
Ken
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Old 04-25-2007, 11:05 PM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

I agree with you Don. Not to mention the quality of the armaments. The south originally bought muskets from England (Tower Enfields for the stamp of the Tower of London on the striker plate). They got good deals because they were obsolete. After awhile Lees men were armed in full by captured rifles, his cannon were often captured so the quality was then high. BUT ... they still needed shot, shell and gunpowder. Some made it through the blockade as did some high quality arms, but the vast majority of it was made by hand. The women of the south actually had to save their urine which was required to make gunpowder. After the beginning, the south never had a problem with enough weapons, but it was not uncommon to misfire or fizzle. This did not happen with yankee powder. And then there were the Henry repeating rifles. Off the top of my head I cannot remember the size of the magazine, but I think it was 8 .44 caliber rimfire rounds. The muskets and Enfield and Springfield rifles were muzzle loading - meaning the soldier poured the gunpowder and wadding into the end of the muzzle, then the ball, then rammed it home. Finally he took a cap and placed it on the nipple, cock the hammer and finally aim and fire. A proficient soldier could do this twice a minute ... some excellent men, three times. Unfortunately, in the heat of battle it was not uncommon for the soldier to pound home 2 or 3 charges without ever firing them. In this case the weapon would likely explode in his face. They also got TERRIBLY hot very quickly. Sometimes so much so that they were useless till they cooled. That is why the metal case cartridge was such a technological breakthru. With the henry, for instance, the Confederates used to say the yankees would load on Monday and fire through Sunday. But one man with one of these, was the equal of about 8 of his enemy.

There were lots of other interesting inventions in weaponry in that war. Inventions were brought before the Department of War for testing by the inventors. Lincoln often would go to the Mall in Washington DC to watch small arm testing and he would also test fire them himself. Larger caliber weapons (like cannon) were shot out over the Potomac. One particularly unusual weapon which was not entirely well considered was tested in 1862 I think. It was two cannon side by side. The projectile was a solid shot in each - but the two shots were connected by a chain with the idea being that the chain would mow down anyone in it's path. What they had failed to consider was that the cannons might not discharge at the same time. Well, in the test they did not of course, so one ball was discharged but when it reached the end of it's chain it started to swing around and very quickly cut the gun crew of the second cannon to pieces. For some reason, the Department of War decided against it.

Another fascinating piece, was the gattling gun. It had 24(?) individual barrels mounted on a cannon carriage. The barrels would spin as a crank was turned, spitting out bullets at a very high rate - in effect, it was the first machine gun. Lincoln liked it because he felt it would save many lives even though it was not terribly accurate. So while he ordered a number of these. the army did not really get them into the field as they felt they were wasteful of ammunition which was costly to produce. This has always struck me as being similar to the policy that the British and French pilots were not given parachutes in the first World War because it was felt it would interfere with their will to fight! So they died by the droves. Nobody ever checks with me first!! Why????? Sigh.

I got a bit sidetracked here ... sorry. You are absolutely correct that the war had ALWAYS been about simple math. The North had I think 34 million persons while the south had something like 6 million including slaves. Not much to see the math there. Yet the odds never made much difference to Lee. He was almost always outnumbered by at least 1/3 and often by 2:1 or even more - yet he won time and time again. The Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam to the yanks) was fought on September 17, 1862. At that battle, Lee had at most 40,000 men - most estimate it was closer to 35,000 in line of battle. Most of them were barefoot and their uniforms in tatters. McClellan however was swimming in troops. He fought the battle with about 100,000 and still kept a entire corps in reserve that was never used ... all the while sending messages to Lincoln that he was horribly outnumbered and if he somehow managed to save the Union it would be no thanks to him OR the administration. (You're going to love hearing about him when I get to doing his portrait!). Even at those long odds, Lee fought him to a standstill, with casualties as high as 96% in some regiments ... total casualties for that one day were over 24,000 - the most the US has EVER suffered in 1 day. With his army as weak as about 20,000 effectives (and exhausted to boot), Lee sat there defiantly all the next day, daring McClellan to attack ... but he never did. We'd say today that Lee psyched him out ... as he did all the Federal generals until Grant took charge.

Grants orders directly from Lincoln were to destroy the southern armies. Forget Richmond, forget places ... destroy the fighting forces. And once that began, it was only a matter of time. But it was a horribly bloody affair while it was going on. The month of May, 1864 saw about 60,000 casualties in the Army of the Potomac (yankee) alone. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia lost about 40,000 - but many of those were only wounded and returned to fight later that summer. That war saw some horrendously gruesome sights.
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Old 04-25-2007, 11:20 PM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

I think we are all in agreement actually. Slavery was never a humanitarian and issue--it was always political and it was a source of contention between the north and the south but it was one of many issue. It all boiled down to the souths belief and anger from that belief that the north was poaching on the rights of the south as sovereign states. Do I agree with the south--not on the slavery issue--being of irish descent, my ancestors were of the group that came during the potato famine and I empathize with african americans as far as they way they were treated but I DO agree with the south on the issue of their sovereign authority being constantly superceded by the north.

...PLEASE somebody go jump in the wayback machine and SHOOT Eli Whitney!
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Old 04-25-2007, 11:57 PM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

Very good drawing of Lincoln Ken. This thread is making for some very interesting reading, throw in some good art every once in a while, and we have a winner!
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Old 04-26-2007, 01:08 AM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

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Originally Posted by SparrowHawk7
Thanks Jay. As I said, I've read hundreds of books, memoirs, histories and even most of the gigantic Official Records of the War the Rebellion.

Before we go any further Ken, Let's get one thing perfectly straight...it wasnt the "War of Rebellion" it was the "War of Northern Aggression".
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Old 04-26-2007, 01:15 AM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

All I said, really, was that the war was NOT fougth over slavery, which was my point. It WASNT fought to free the slaves as so many people would have you believe...Slavery was an issue to the states, yes, but slavery was NOT an issue in the war until late into it. I still hold fast to my argument that Lincoln freed them as a punishment. He did what he thought he had to do to keep the Union together.

GOD, i love this period in our history...so much can be discussed about it. So much of it is fascinating to me. To wonder how these soldiers lived day to day...we cant do ANYTHING if our electricity shuts off...or of we have no phone or toilet or Internet access. Yet they lived off of the land and used lanterns and ate stuff we would never in a million years eat...I like to put myself in these Soldiers shoes sometimes and just wonder what it must have been like to actually eat hardtack and rancid bacon...to drink water from a stream or lake...it just amazes me.

This is probably the best thread I have read in a LONG time on ANY message board, and I read a LOT of them.

And Ken, I agree with Jay...you should write a book and illustrate the thing yourself with these images...I'd buy one.

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Old 04-26-2007, 02:06 AM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

Ditto, I would buy it too.

OH, I renamed the war:

The war between Grits and Cream of Wheat

That should settle it!
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Old 04-26-2007, 08:11 AM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

Thank you Steve .. he sure had big ears, didn't he? I'm enjoying this thread particularly. The drawing will be coming along, but I really only have time to sit down and concentrate on it on weekends so I will usually get 3-5 hours in on Saturday and the same amount on Sunday. In between I can take a few minutes to respond and do a little browsing elsewhere.

I agree with Jay ... I think we all pretty much agree with the slavery issue anyway. There are SO many underlying things that we could get into a very lengthy debate about "The Cause" ... exactly as the southern officers did around their campfires and in parlors for the first few years of the war.

My complaint, and I think yours as well drawingislife, is that the textbooks lump slavery into the issue from the beginning when it didn't actually get brought into the equation until October 1, 1862 when Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was declared to take effect on January 1, 1863. As the quotes I used clearly point out, it was restoration of the Union that Lincoln held as his sacred goal and he was willing to use anything, including slavery, to that end. Some readers may want to know, why slavery and not other things. And why wait.

Initially the war went entirely against the north. Most of you may remember the name First Bull Run .. the first really major battle in the war - yet not much more than a day long skirmish as measured against what was to come. It was a complete rout with the northern army disintegrating and running back to Washington with each man for himself. They were an entirely disorganized mob. Of course, they were not in much better shape than the Confederates who were no more experienced at war which is why they didn't follow up the victory. But after that, it was one defeat after another for the north and the people weren't pleased. It doesn't take long with casualty lists in the thousands every week for war weariness to set in. Some days the lists topped over 10,000 in a single day - and that was in the north alone. People grew tired of losing loved ones in defeats time after time after time and they began to want to just let the south go. That brought a good deal of political pressure on Congress. Lincoln's cabinet actually started a private campaign to impeach him by the middle of 1862 but his was the iron will that kept the war going in the face of horrendous casualties and vast discontent for the war among the people. There were huge demonstrations against the administration throughout the north and Lincoln had virtually no support from even his cabinet. He was so distraught over things that he even slept on a bench in the telegraph office when things were particularly dicey militarily so he would have the first information. And on top of this, Great Britain was not the great ally as they now are. It had been less than 100 years since we had revolted and thrown them out (it would be more accurate to say they threw up their hands and left) and we had had our spats like the War of 1812. We did so well in that war that they actually burned the White House. So we were still contentious and they were beginning to look for a reason to declare another war on the US. Remember I mentioned the Mason Slidell affair in an earlier post - this happened during this period and was the reason it was such an international disaster.

Now Jefferson Davis was an absolutely brilliant man. His vice was that he micromanaged, but even at that he was brilliant. Lee said of him once, that he didn't know of another man who could possibly have done the job at all, and certainly none that could have done it nearly so well. Coming from Lee, that carries tremendous weight. So that situation is exactly what the south was trying to foster and why they witheld the cotton shipments (blockade or no blockade). And it ALMOST worked. Lord Palmerston in England was increasingly pressured to do something and war was the something he had in mind. It was palpably tasteful by the fall of 1862. What could possibly stop what seemed like an inevitability? Lincoln knew the ONLY thing that could turn international pressure around was if he changed the reason for the war. An internal struggle to keep a country together would not keep other countries from interfering on the side of the south. The south was aristocratic in nature and that appealed to the English nobility and nobility in other countries - like France who was also an ally of the Confederacy. Lincoln carried a little piece of paper around in his pocket for over a month waiting for an opportune time to reveal it. But that time seemed never to come.

On August 30-31 he received news of yet ANOTHER defeat. This time on much the same ground as the First Bull Run but this time called the Second Bull Run where his generals had been quite fooled (once again) and blindly wandered into a pincher that ground them up and resulted in yet another rout back to Washington - not as bad as the first though ... the soldiers were getting more practiced at being beaten. Lee was intact and for the first time was moving his army across the Potomac and invading the north. Lincoln was in Washington, wringing his hands with stress and did not have an organized force within reach that could do anything to help. Politicians had this tremendous fear for their own safety and the pressure to defend Washington was never greater. Remember Washington, DC is located in a place surrounded by Maryland with Virginia just across the river, and Maryland had strong southern sympathies. In fact, the situation was so precarious that Lincoln suspended constitutional rights (including free speech) throughout Maryland for the entire war. Hundreds if not thousands of people - including popular politicians - were arrested and incarcerated for the entire war without being charged. (Can you imagine how well THAT would go over today?) All Lincoln had to oppose a strong and victorious invading enemy was an unorganized mob of defeated men. This was, however, exactly the situation where George Brinton McClellan shone. Lincoln put him back in control and within days, the army was reorganized and ready for action. By September 17 both Armies had come together on the banks of Antietam Creek for yet another slaughter. This time it was not an abject Union disaster, however. It was not a victory by any means, but more of a draw. Yet Lee was forced to withdraw south for supplies so the Union army was left in possession of the field. This was the break Lincoln was looking for and he pulled that scrap of paper from his pocket.

He could not have issued the Emancipation Proclamation without some sort of battlefield victory or it would have been seen as the last gasp of a dying government. Instead it appeared that the battlefield defeats were turning the corner and the world stopped for just a moment. It was in that moment that Lincoln declared that the war was NOW about freeing the slaves. No country in Europe then allowed slavery and all had abolished the slave trade many years earlier. It was a stigma that they simply could not handle and supporting the south was thereafter supporting slavery. It was the final nail on the coffin for the south although they did not realize it at the time. THAT was the actual value of the Emancipation Proclamation - it isolated the south.

Other than that it was quite a worthless document. It said that the north was granting freedom to slaves in areas over which it exerted no control (the south). It did NOT free slaves in occupied territories where it COULD be enforced. The document caused a tremendous furor in the north as only the abolitionists supported it - and they were very few in number. Soldiers deserted in droves because "they were not going to fight to free darkys". And the public cried for Lincoln's head on a platter. Even his generals were furious. Some, of course, supported it, others resigned but that little worthless document forced a ramrod wedge into the fight. The south, of course, viewed it with great derision and called it things like unholy, etc.

Off the top of my head, I cannot recall which Union general started this (I think it was Benjamin Franklin Butler but I'm simply not sure), but he was incensed that Lincoln had not gone anywhere near far enough and he determined to force Lincoln's hand. So he declared the slaves in his area of occupation to be Contraband of War because they were helping the enemy to resist. And as such, they were seized by the army and taken north. This caused TREMENDOUS problems because the US government was now responsible for thousands more people. That's another tale entirely, but the point is that the colored people (as they were then called - or negro. Black is a new term within the last 30 years) became known as "contrabands". After that they streamed to the yankee lines by the thousands for protection, and, as they quickly discovered, eventual freedom. Obviously the northern government could not hold so many people indefinitely - nor could it afford the cost involved.

As usual, I got sidetracked a bit, but that's the story in a very small nutshell as to how the war turned out to be against slavery. It patently was NOT begun with that as a stated reason the way textbooks would have you believe.
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Old 04-26-2007, 08:12 AM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

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Ditto, I would buy it too.

OH, I renamed the war:

The war between Grits and Cream of Wheat

That should settle it!
Who wore the grits and who wore Cream of Wheat? I think I need a program to tell the sides apart now.
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Old 04-26-2007, 08:19 AM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

And just to keep everyone's attention on the artwork which is really the reason for this thread .... here's the Confederate Major General who shared command during the Battle of First Bull Run - General Beauregard. He also commanded during the attack on Ft. Sumter on April 12, 1861.


He deserves a place here as well.
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Old 04-26-2007, 09:34 AM
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Re: Civil War Portraits - The Series

Ken, are these pictures already done or are you cranking them out THAT fast? Im loving this thread! Campfire is getting low though, gotta go find wood.
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