|CREDIT: University of Georgia archives|
When I began researching Stoneman's Raid, I was fascinated to discover that the Union troops published newspapers in three towns they briefly occupied: Salisbury April 12, Spartanburg April 30, and Athens May 6, 1865.
I contacted historians in all three towns but was unable to find any of these newspapers during the 150th-anniversary run of The Stoneman Gazette. That was disappointing but not surprising. Confederate publishers did not keep Yankee scrapbooks. In fact, they often erased history as they shaped the myth of the Lost Cause. For example, the publisher of the Salisbury newspaper squelched any mention of Stoneman's Raid in a 618-page history of Rowan County that he published 16 years after the war. (Stoneman's scribes did not ignore him, as we shall see!)
So I was pleasantly surprised to hear recently from a diligent librarian at the University of Georgia who was able to track down this copy of the Athens paper. Even better, it includes stories from the other two editions.
You may not be impressed, but this old newspaperman feels like he has found a buried treasure.
Each story warrants its own discussion, which we will do in subsequent blogs. Follow the links below.
The scanned copy is smudged and hard to read, but I think this is what it says:
SOUTHERN WATCHMAN—EXTRA.TEACHINGS OF THE WAR.
In contemplating the present attitude and future prospects of the two great parties in the dark fierce struggle up in which the light of peace seems at length so happily dawning, it would seem, at first thought, difficult to designate any important and permanent advantage likely to be derived therefrom by the South.
Judged by the light of former revolutions, it would seem inevitable that the fruit of an insurrection so vast and far reaching as the Southern Rebellion, which struck at not only the life of a great Republic but at the vital principle of a great theory in human government, which desolated nearly half the territory of a great nation, and drank the blood of hundreds of thousands of the best and bravest of its adherents, as well as its enemies, should be disastrous in every respect to all who had either by over act or silent sympathy given it their support.
But while there is so much for every Southern mind to deplore, there is still room for congratulation that the fierce heat of war has melted away many of the sectional prejudices, which were so unworthy of a people boasting the enlightenment of our age and country, and which made the kindling of a great war so easy to its perpetrators. We have been mutually educated, the flash of serried bayonets and the roar of opposing cannon are potent in enforcing respect.
The contrast of the last four years, while it has confirmed the mood of bravery and fortitude to this Southern people, has no less fully demonstrated that the Northern “mudsill” to was a man who could go boldly to death for a principle.
The early fallacy of “five to one,” is exploded, and in the despised Yankee the southern soldier has found a foeman worthy of his steel.
Diverse as were the institutions and interests of the two sections, it was inevitable that the consequent restrictions of sympathy and intercourse should lead to an almost total misapprehension of the character of either.
A few of the wealthy summered together at Northern Springs and Sea sides, the eminent wintered in each others society, amid the intrigue and political friction of Washington; but the masses, the people of the north and south, never met, and ignorance widened the cleft, which the wedge of slavery was destined finally to consummate.
That this prejudice was strongest on the part of the people of the south, no one we presume need deny.
Affecting to despise a people, who accepted the necessity of labor, chained to their favorite idea that the existence of a subject race was essential to the respectability of a people, jealous of the democracy that made the hard handed artisan the peer of the lily primed aristocrat, the Southern mind had learned to regard its Northern neighbors as a race of servile, bartering cowardly fanatics, whose highest duty was to manufacture shoes and locomotives, clocks and calicoes, for their more highly endowed brethren of the South.
We are of those who believe that a more intimate acquaintance with each other, gained though it has been under the disadvantages natural to their relation as enemies, will be among the best results of the war, and go far toward instituting a degree of confidence in each other and a harmony of ideas, upon which alone a government like ours can serenely rest.
And, as the curtain of Peace descends at length upon this bloody drama, let prejudice be buried, and in the light of all that the past four years have demonstrated, begin under the flag of our Fathers, a new crop of Peace and Happiness.
How are you, armistice? What are you any way, what was you made for, and with what design was you entered into? Who knows, and who can tell? When Stoneman’s Cavalry insured the surrendering of Lee, by completely destroying all his means of retreat; when the same force had as surely insured the capture of Johnston’s army by cutting the communications in his rear, at Salisbury, and was ready to take Charlotte with much treasure and supplies and also bad Jeff Davis with his gifted Sec’y of War, and worthy Cabinet, and all the ill gotten gains of four years’ public stealing, within their very grasp when the whole south lay open to our unopposed and uninterrupted march to this place; when Stoneman has both bowers, the ace and a hand full of trumps, lo the game was stopped by an Armistice on all sides when any meat for the men and corn for the horses was taken, we met with the ignorant insolence common to slaveocracy, and were informed that to go with an armistice existing and that no property was to be touched at all, and it mattered little to them if men and horses starved, their property must be respected.
Misguided sons of a sunny clime, you claim that we have broken or violated the Armistice or Peace Convention. Turn for a minute and consider how the head director of your bogus concern has observed its obligations. You know, and we know, that Jeff Davis has been on the move with treasure, and an armed force seeking a place of safety, ever since the first flag of truce passed between Sherman and Johnson.
Nearer home, Athenians. You know that the Rebel Government supplies, of which there was a great abundance in your own city, was surreptitiously hauled away at night, and secreted in the houses of the rich, who have since claimed the stores as private property, and the supplies were not given out to the poor people, as was claimed by the Military Authorities. It was an act in keeping with all the other acts of those in power, in the so-called Southern Confederacy. The rich and influential receive the spoils, the poor and needy are left to shift as best they may.
Wake snakes and raise the dead! How are you, so-called Southern Confederacy? Going, going—just going to say gone, when lo and behold, in comes MR. ARMISTICE. Gentlemen, for a little time the auction and bids on this insignificant piece of property called Confederacy will stop at the last call—(not ditch,) and wait the action of the bankrupt owner who has by some unauthorized technicality been allowed a few days to redeem. So, my friends, just stand back—hold your breath and give the poor devils who own the property a short, very short, time to redeem. Now is the acceptable time for redemption; turn, sinners, aye, vile sinners, turn and redeem while yet a few days of grace is allowed you, for the end is not yet. And most insolent sons of Athens, let us use an old time saying, put a flea in your ear, that unless a different disposition is manifested towards the United States Troops than has been shown to the by the people of Athens, the end is not yet.
Most worthy Athenians, we are with you only for a little time, today we come, and tomorrow we go. We go where no map listeth, and where, it is none of your business. Behave yourselves like good children and no harm will come to you, but to the proud and scornful shall be humbled in spirit—that is, taken down a peg.
Farewell, but remember the hour of when the Yankees—horrid monsters, wicked vandals—entered your fair, deeply shaded Athens.
The Federal forces, under command of Brig. Genl. Palmer, entered our place on the 4th inst. The conduct of the troops since their occupation of the town, has been good, and reflects great credit upon Genl. Palmer as a strict disciplinarian.
We hope that our citizens will endeavor by kind and courteous treatment toward the soldiery, to encourage a continuance of the protection which they seem willing to afford.
——Below we give extracts from the Salisbury Watchman and Carolina Spartan—two papers that have from the beginning of the war advocated the policy of fighting on until the last man and dollar were exhausted, and by their vile, traitorous and insidious words exerted a strong influence over the minds of the South; and thousands of widows and orphans who are now suffering every privation and horror connected with the war, and attribute them to the false and unscrupulous arguments set fourth and spread out in these papers. It is an easy thing, and one that requires but little valor or manly spirit, to cry out, “War to the last!” when comfortably ensconced at home, surrounded by every luxury and comfort that civil life affords, and where no Yankee bullets can reach. Such has been the position of those who govern the Southern press, who, keeping their devoted carcasses at a respectable distance in the rear, still cry out for more lives to sacrifice and more money to squander, to enable them to secure a foundation for their weak and rotten Confederacy to stand upon. They are too mean and craven-hearted themselves to take the field and expose their worthless bodies to Yankee powder; but when the fortunes of war draw the hated Yankees close to their place of refuge, they call upon others to defend them from deserved punishment.
EXTRA EDITIONWEDNESDAY, APRIL 12, 1865.
Good morning, our kind and chivalrous readers of the Salisbury Watchman. We appear before you this morning considerably diminished in size; and as an apology for the Tom Thumb dimensions of our paper and the very sudden and necessary disappearance of the senior editor, will impart the awful and truly terrifying intelligence that Stoneman, with a large force of cavalry, is within a few miles of this place and marching on confident of his ability to capture it. Already the booming of cannon is heard, and soon our streets will resound with the clash of arms. Let every man nerve himself for the struggle, and help teach these vandals a lesson in warfare that will not soon be forgotten. Our readers may think it strange, that we while urging the necessity of every man girding on his armor, and battling against the invader, do not ourselves take the ditch; but the senior editor, who is the devil for strategy, took the first train for Morganton, and we have to assume the responsibility of the office; and which renders our duties so arduous that it will be impossible for us to make any physical exertion towards driving the invaders back, and as a further excuse for our Quakerish conduct, will refer them to the old motto that the “pen is mightier than the sword.”
But, kind reader, the near and still nearer approach of the Yanks, admonishes that there is no more time for writing and all our printers having imbibed the same spirit of chivalry as the senior, it would be madness for us to remain. But one last appeal—“Fight on, fight ever.” We leave you for some spot on earth where Yankees cannot come. Adieu, kind friends and patrons—all adieu. We are going—gone.
THE CAROLINA SPARTAN
SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 1865KIND READERS:
While writing this we smell the battle afar off, and on every breeze is bourne to one ears, the thunder of the Captains and the shouting. Already in our minds eye, we behold the hungry villains devouring our subsistence; already to the doleful brays of our mules made captive reach our distracted ears, and admonish us that the time to take these valuable animals to the mountains has arrived.
There no longer remains any doubt as to the approach of the Yankees; and as the Assyrians came down like the wolf on the fold, so will the vandal hordes of Lincolndom descend upon Spartanburg, unless something is done to prevent it. There is no time left for decision or delay. Rise, men of Spartanburg, in your might, and gird up your loins for the conflict, go forth, and smite the invaders.
Some there may be in the community whose craven hearts prognosticate failure and defeat,
“But screw your courage to the sticking point,
and we’ll not fail.”
During the meantime, your Editor will retire to a safe place in the vicinity and await the results with anxiety. If one brave, but alas, small force is successful in resisting the Yankees’ advance, we will return, if not —.
As we write, news has arrived by a reliable gentleman that France has formed an alliance offensive and defensive with Col. [William] Thomas, commanding the Cherokee Indians, and one hundred thousand gallant copper colored patriots, armed with tomahawks and scalping knives are now marching on New York City. Great consternation prevails at the North. This glorious item of intelligence should nerve the arms of our brave defenders to strike at last.
As the Spartans of old choked up the pass of Thermopyle with the Persian dead, so let us imitate their glorious example, and cover our hills and valleys with the carcasses of these miscreants. How truly the poet says,
“Tis great for one’s country to die.”
We trust that our readers will appreciate the grandeur of the sentiment and that they will not go backward to offer such a precious and great thing as life on the altar of Southern Independence. Oe, Spartans of old. —Since writing the above we learn that the report of the alliance between Gen. Napoleon and Col. Thomas is untrue, which is greatly to be regretted. One devil, who is possessed of a literary taste, has been reading an ancient poem entitled (unclear), and has just read aloud the following passage from the same,
“He that fights and runs away,
Will live to fight another day;
But he that is in battle slain,
Will never, never, fight again.”
After thinking the matter over, we have come to the conclusion that there is rich truth in the above lines, and accordingly advise our friends to refrain from hostilities.