Discussion About the morality of R.E.Lee

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
ROFL. I think I will stay with the dictionary meaning of bibliography. I'll also wait and see if sources are provided for the quotes so we can see from where and when they emanated.
In other words, keep pretending there are no sources.

You were given the author, the books, the page numbers, and you still deny to look at his sources. No one here has any obligation to do the research for you.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
Thanks -- good point here about the distinction between religious traditions. I was incorrectly using "Calvinism" as shorthand for predeterminism. In my previous post, I actually had Jackson in mind as well, as the friendship and collaboration between him and Lee was apparently based in part on strong Evangelical leanings. In reading about them, I've noticed both of them using the term "Providence" to refer to the influence of the divine will in their campaigns and battles.

Anyway, the reason I brought up Lee's religious views is the focus on morality here. It seems to me he was in the difficult position of trying to live as a devout person while directing so much destructive activity. I can see why he would try to make kind and compassionate decisions on a day-to-day basis in his dealings with others. In cases where compassion was not an option, or in connection with larger issues -- such as his commanding an army responsible for death and destruction -- Providence might be invoked to try to resolve the moral paradox.

Roy B.
Might you have meant “predestination” instead? The teachings of Calvin relied heavily upon the scriptures and a divine predestination. (Which can create quite a paradox when you add in free will to the mix.)
 

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
In other words, keep pretending there are no sources.

You were given the author, the books, the page numbers, and you still deny to look at his sources. No one here has any obligation to do the research for you.

Are you kidding? If the text in a book is not referenced it is impossible to know if there is any validity to what is being said by the author.
The bibliography is merely a list of books (and other works) that the author has consulted in writing their book. There is not necessarily any correlation between what the author says in their own words and those items listed in the bibliography; and it is impossible to know where any quoted remarks come from unless they are referenced.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
Are you kidding? If the text in a book is not referenced it is impossible to know if there is any validity to what is being said by the author.
The bibliography is merely a list of books (and other works) that the author has consulted in writing their book. There is not necessarily any correlation between what the author says in their own words and those items listed in the bibliography; and it is impossible to know where any quoted remarks come from unless they are referenced.
"Not referenced?" Seriously I don't what you're talking about. Simpson is a well-regarded historian who includes the sources at the end of his books. Anyone who wishes to see the sources, can look them up in the back of the book. The sources are organized by chapter, with the specific sources and page numbers.

I have no idea why this is even worth a debate. It was asked earlier if Simpson included sources in his work. I replied that yes, he does. So, the question was answered. Anyone that wishes to look up his sources, can do so. There's really no need to blow this issue out of proportion. Simpson includes sources just like any other credible historian.

It took me like 2 minutes to bring up one of the mentioned books in Google Books, and to look at how the sources are organized in the endnotes. Either look up the sources, or don't look up the sources. Suit yourself. But the fact is that Simpson includes the sources in his books.
 
Last edited:

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
"Not referenced?" Seriously I don't what you're talking about. Simpson is a well-regarded historian who includes the sources at the end of his books. Anyone who wishes to see the sources, can look them up in the back of the book. The sources are organized by chapter, with the specific sources and page numbers.

I have no idea why this is even worth a debate. It was asked earlier if Simpson included sources in his work. I replied that yes, he does. So, the question was answered. Anyone that wishes to look up his sources, can do so. There's really no need to blow this issue out of proportion. Simpson includes sources just like any other credible historian.

It took me like 2 minutes to bring up one of the mentioned books in Google Books, and to look at how the sources are organized in the endnotes. Either look up the sources, or don't look up the sources. Suit yourself. But the fact is that Simpson includes the sources in his books.

This is my last post on this matter because it does not seem that I can explain the difference to you between a bibliography and a sourced quote.

So, my last attempt to explain it.
In order to know where a quote in a book has come from it is necessary for the author of the book to include an in-text citation so reader knows where it comes from, such as:
Sherman said "I am compelled to join issue with General Wolseley in his conclusion, while willing to admit nearly all his premises." [Sherman, 1887].
Then, in the bibliography the writer provides full details - Sherman, W. T. 1887 May 1887 issue of The North American Review (volume 144), pp. 437–50.
In an instance where an author is quoting from another author's work then a similar process applies, such as:
Jones [1876, p 197] writes "The man afterward came to my house and said to me, in speaking of his interview with General Lee : 'Sir, he is the noblest man that ever lived. He not only had a kind word for an old soldier who fought against him, hut he gave me some money to help me on my way.'"
Then, in the bibliography the writer provides full details - Jones, Rev. J. W. Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters of Gen. Robert E. Lee, D. Appleton and Company New York.

If the author does not reference quotes and comments in a similar manner to the above it is impossible to know where a quote or comment in the text of the book has come from by looking at the bibliography. Therefore, the truth of any quote can not be verified and any unquoted comments by Simpson such as 'Meanwhile, he [Lee] planned to put more U.S. POWs in harm’s way by placing them in a pen at Dutch Gap, which was under Union artillery fire, should Grant not relent with his plans for retaliation' from the extract must be taken as her own words. If the author fails to provide any facts to support such a claim it is merely their opinion, it is unsubstantiated.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
This is my last post on this matter because it does not seem that I can explain the difference to you between a bibliography and a sourced quote.

So, my last attempt to explain it.
In order to know where a quote in a book has come from it is necessary for the author of the book to include an in-text citation so reader knows where it comes from, such as:
Sherman said "I am compelled to join issue with General Wolseley in his conclusion, while willing to admit nearly all his premises." [Sherman, 1887].
Then, in the bibliography the writer provides full details - Sherman, W. T. 1887 May 1887 issue of The North American Review (volume 144), pp. 437–50.
In an instance where an author is quoting from another author's work then a similar process applies, such as:
Jones [1876, p 197] writes "The man afterward came to my house and said to me, in speaking of his interview with General Lee : 'Sir, he is the noblest man that ever lived. He not only had a kind word for an old soldier who fought against him, hut he gave me some money to help me on my way.'"
Then, in the bibliography the writer provides full details - Jones, Rev. J. W. Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters of Gen. Robert E. Lee, D. Appleton and Company New York.

If the author does not reference quotes and comments in a similar manner to the above it is impossible to know where a quote or comment in the text of the book has come from by looking at the bibliography. Therefore, the truth of any quote can not be verified and any unquoted comments by Simpson such as 'Meanwhile, he [Lee] planned to put more U.S. POWs in harm’s way by placing them in a pen at Dutch Gap, which was under Union artillery fire, should Grant not relent with his plans for retaliation' from the extract must be taken as her own words. If the author fails to provide any facts to support such a claim it is merely their opinion, it is unsubstantiated.
As I said, look at the authors sources, or don't. It's up to you. It seems you're trying to make this into a English lesson Edited.

I recall an earlier discussion with you, where sources became the main issue. I gave you the author and the title of the book. You claimed you had no access, and I ended up screen-shotting the relevant pages of the sources for you (Marszalek was the author).

And yet there was no acknowledgement, or further discussion. As soon as the "sources" were shown, the discussion was over. I'm getting the impression that you would rather ignore sources that disagree with you.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Scott1967

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
If the author does not reference quotes and comments in a similar manner to the above it is impossible to know where a quote or comment in the text of the book has come from by looking at the bibliography. Therefore, the truth of any quote can not be verified and any unquoted comments by Simpson such as 'Meanwhile, he [Lee] planned to put more U.S. POWs in harm’s way by placing them in a pen at Dutch Gap, which was under Union artillery fire, should Grant not relent with his plans for retaliation' from the extract must be taken as her own words. If the author fails to provide any facts to support such a claim it is merely their opinion, it is unsubstantiated.

https://muse.jhu.edu/article/419337/summary

THE DUTCH GAP AFFAIR: Military Atrocities and Rights of Negro Soldiers Richard J. Sommers The Battle of Chaffin's Bluff, September 29-October 1, 1864, threw the Confederate capital into grave danger of capture. The heavy fighting generated a state of strategic instability east of Richmond lasting into mid-October. It also raised a side issue of the rights of slaveholders versus Negro soldiers that threatened to result in one of the major atrocity incidents of the Civil War. This incident reached its climax in the Dutch Gap Canal, so it may well be termed "the Dutch Gap Affair." The affair originated in the wake of the battle of Chaffin's Bluff, which saw the Union Army of the James achieve a major breakthrough on the Peninsula, September 29. Southerners managed to stop this army short of Richmond but signally failed to drive it back, September 30 and again October 7. Unable to eliminate this potential threat, the Confederates sought to nullify it by tripling their force on the Northside and by strengthening existing fortifications and erecting extensive new lines.1 Digging over four miles of new works plus improving old defenses required much manpower. Engineer officers and troops could not begin to meet this need, and combat infantrymen, who fought three battles between September 29 and October 13, could devote only part of their time to entrenching.2 To spare the soldiers some of the burden, to help offset the shortage of manpower, and to meet the crisis, large gangs of Negroes were also set to work. Some such black labor details were already at the engineers' disposal and needed merely to be assigned to the new defenses. Other Negroes were drawn from various government agencies in response to the emergency. Beyond this, General Robert E. Lee, through the War Department, asked Virginia ' The battle of Chaffin's Bluff and other military operations on the Peninsula in this period are described in detail in the author's dissertation, "Grant's Fifth Offensive at Petersburg: A Study of Strategy, Tactics, and Generalship" (Rice University, 1970). ' "Muster Rolls of C and I/lst Confederate Engineers and of B/51st North Carolina, September-October, 1864," Record Group 109, Compiled Service Records, 1st Confederate Engineer Regiment Papers and 51st North Carolina Infantry Regiment Papers, respectively, National Archives (the symbols "RG" and "NA" hereafter refer to "Record Group" and "National Archives," respectively.); The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Annies (Washington, 18801901 ), Ser. I, XLII, pt. 1, 880-81 (hereafter cited as OR, with all references to Series II unless otherwise specified.). 51 52CIVIL WAR HISTORY to impress 1,000 more slaves into labor service. The zealous Engineer Bureau increased the figure to 1,590, and that same day, October 3, Governor William Smith duly called on Richmond and thirteen nearby counties for the larger number. Such measures were common. Black labor gangs customarily performed much of the work on permanent fortifications of the Confederacy , and the right of the central government, through the states, to press them into such service had long been exercised. In this case, however, the emergency was so great that several highly unusual steps were taken to increase the labor force. For one thing, provost troops in Richmond began impressing available Negroes into service as soon as the crisis broke, September 29—five days before the governor authorized such measures. Beyond this, Southern officials put captured Negro soldiers to work on the fortifications. Sixty-eight such captives, taken at the battle of the Crater over two months earlier, were placed in the labor gangs, October 2, and three days later Lieutenant-General Richard S. Ewell, commanding the Department of Richmond, ordered all available Negro prisoners in Libby Prison assigned to such duty. Eighty-two more men of the 5th, 7th, and 30th USCT5—many of whom had been captured at the battle of Chaffin's Bluff itself—were turned over to Brigadier-General Seth Barton to labor on the defenses.6 The causes and consequences of these extraordinary measures— unauthorized impressment of slaves and use of prisoners of war— deserve exploration. The dire crisis obviously prompted the conscription .

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just found this , So Dutch gap is genuine so Simpson is right.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
@DanSBHawk, I think the issues might be something along these lines. There’s a difference between researching and reading papers, letters and other accounts which you then write in your own words vs. a specific event or situation which ( if you’re lucky) there is a soldier’s letter home or a diary containing an eye witnessed account of the specific situation.

A good writer, should share the references that they received general information from - and a good writer should also show where specific quotes from eye witnesses were found.

But, in the first explanation above, just because an author reads several books and therefore becomes more knowledgeable about a subject which they now write about doesn’t mean that the author is in complete alignment with all the books they had read as referenced materials. And one is also entrusting that this reference materials used for this background knowledge were all written and referenced in the same manner of how you would prefer your information to be discovered.

So, there still is a human, even subconscious trait, to gravitate to the information based on your personal beliefs about the subject. And, technically, yes, “Book A” might’ve said 15 positive things about the person they are writing about but you don’t believe those 15 positive things so you chose to find the one negative issue which was a part of “Book A” as this one point fits into how you personally view the subject of the book you are writing.

By choosing the best accounts which were proven to be created by primary sources, then your references- either for or against the person who is the subject of your writings- is much more protected in that the information was as “pure” as could be based upon primary sources.

But, if you choose authors who aren’t as stringent to their research, that’s when mistruths ( both ways-for or against) get propagated. And, as the years go by, it become more ingrained and more shared and equally more difficult to prove to the contrary and change a general impression held by those interested in the subject matter.

That’s why I personally prefer primary sourced materials which lets the reader see the data and they are then able to take from these primary sources the closest to the actual truth as is possible without any personal influences from an author. And, in addition, you don’t have to worry about conjecture continuing to be propagated on down the line.

I think a month or so ago, I used this same illustration with you that a book of such researched information wasn’t unlike the telephone game. For example, the beginning quote was said by Ms. Smith into the ear of the next person. It would be shown in a reference that Ms. Smith shared the information - which is the honest truth. But, by the time this information is shared down the line and written in other books for referenced material, it’s like the telephone game that the statement gets all distorted. It all can be referenced back to the statement made by Ms. Smith, but everyone has taken her information and had heard and interpreted it differently.

That is why I’m cautious about the authors I choose to read who share information that is not rooted in primary sources.

And, I speculate this lack of primary sourced information is where the breakdown in the truth of a person or matter can happen.

Now, primary sources aren’t always the end all be all for honesty. And, that is a consideration which needs to be considered. But, through a personal diary one would feel there was nothing to be gained nor information exaggerated within the pages. Now, if a letter was sent, there could be a bit exaggerated or padded information to make the letter more exciting especially if the letter was being sent to someone a person wished to impress. So, my thoughts are that I try to find personal diaries first, along with neutral documents of events, then letters and lastly the works of trusted historians who are well respected in their fields.

Most can write a book. But not everyone has the humility to only share the complete story as most of the time that account isn’t nearly as glorious or exciting to a modern reader. Today’s reader seems to require even more conjecture and that is why certain writers, as have been discussed on the forum, are known for their dislikes or adorations of certain officers or sides in the Civil War. It’s human nature to align yourself to a writer which thinks as you do. But, is this alignment really the most honest story of the person or battle? I believe this may touch on the issues concerning the back and forth on referenced works.
 
Last edited:

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
@DanSBHawk, I think the issues might be something along these lines. There’s a difference between researching and reading papers, letters and other accounts which you then write in your own words vs. a specific event or situation which ( if you’re lucky) there is a soldier’s letter home or a diary containing an eye with meds account of the specific situation.

A good writer, should share the references that they received general information from - and a good writer should also show where specific quotes from eye witnesses were found.

But, in the first description, just because an author reads several books and therefore becomes more knowledgeable about a subject which they now write about- the author is now only referring to the information they read. And one is entrusting the reference materials used for this background knowledge were written in the same manner of how you would prefer your information was discovered.

So, there still is a human, even subconscious trait, to gravitate to the information based on your personal beliefs about the subject. And, technically, yes, “Book A” might’ve said 15 positive things about the person they are writing about but you don’t believe those 15 positive things so you chose to find the one negative issue which was a part of “Book A.”

By choosing the best accounts which were proven to be created by primary sources, then your references- either for or against the person who is the subject of your writings- is protected in that the information was as pure as could be based upon primary sources.

But, if you choose authors who aren’t as stringent to their research, that’s when mistruths ( both way- for or against) get propagated. And, as the years go by, it become more ingrained and more difficult to prove to the contrary and change a general impression held by those interested in the subject matter.

That’s why I personally prefer primary sourced materials which let the reader see the data and they are then able to take from these primary sources the information to heart. And, you don’t have to worry about conjecture continuing to be propagated on down the line.

I think a month or so ago, I used this same illustration with you that a book of such information wasn’t unlike the telephone game. Honestly, the beginning quote was said by Ms. Smith into the ear of the next person. It would be shown as Ms. Smith shared the information - which is the honest truth. But, by the time this information is shared down the line and written in other books for referenced material, it’s like the telephone game that the statement gets all distorted. It all can be referenced back to the statement made by Ms. Smith, but everyone has taken her information and had heard and interpreted it differently.

That is why I’m cautious about the authors I choose to read who share information that is not rooted in primary sources.

And, I speculate this lack of primary sourced information is where the breakdown in the truth of a person or matter can happens.

Now, primary sources aren’t always the end all be all for honesty. And, that is a consideration which needs to be considered. But, through a personal diary one would feel there was nothing to be gained nor information exaggerated within the pages. Now, if a letter was sent, there could be a bit exaggerated or padded information to make the letter more exciting especially if the letter was being sent to someone a person wished to impress. So, my thoughts are that I try to find personal diaries first, along with neutral documents of events, then letters and lastly the works of trusted historians who are well respected in their fields.

Most can write a book. But not everyone has the humility to only share the complete story as most of the time that account isn’t nearly as glorious or exciting to a modern reader. Today’s reader seems to require even more conjecture and that is why certain writers, as have been discussed on the forum, are known for their dislikes or adorations of certain officers or sides in the Civil War. It’s human nature to align yourself to a writer which thinks as you do. But, is this alignment really the most honest story of the person or battle? I believe this may touch on the issues concerning the back and forth on referenced works.
Georgia, I don't disagree with anything you said. I enjoy reading primary sources too, but they can be limiting if a reader is trying to get the big picture. Historians compile many sources, primary and secondary, and then write a cohesive bigger picture.

The historians I've referenced, Brooks Simpson and John Marszalek, are both well-regarded historians who document their sources. I agree that historians are not always objective, but the first step to disagree with a historian is to look at the sources he used and read them and determine whether he or she got it wrong. I've disagreed with a very biased writer here, but I looked at his sources first.

The problem here is that people want to cherry-pick their sources to reinforce their biases, and ignore any sources which conflict with their biases. So we get distractions and denials and excuses of why we shouldn't even look at some historians sources.

Virtually every historian that we discuss here lists their sources, in footnotes or endnotes. I know Simpson uses endnotes. Part of the problem here is that I should have said "Notes" instead of "Bibliography." That mistake enabled the distractions and excuses of why Simpsons endnotes should be ignored. And that's the problem. People who want to discredit sources, rather than to consider them.
 

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
https://muse.jhu.edu/article/419337/summary

THE DUTCH GAP AFFAIR: Military Atrocities and Rights of Negro Soldiers Richard J. Sommers The Battle of Chaffin's Bluff, September 29-October 1, 1864, threw the Confederate capital into grave danger of capture. The heavy fighting generated a state of strategic instability east of Richmond lasting into mid-October. It also raised a side issue of the rights of slaveholders versus Negro soldiers that threatened to result in one of the major atrocity incidents of the Civil War. This incident reached its climax in the Dutch Gap Canal, so it may well be termed "the Dutch Gap Affair." The affair originated in the wake of the battle of Chaffin's Bluff, which saw the Union Army of the James achieve a major breakthrough on the Peninsula, September 29. Southerners managed to stop this army short of Richmond but signally failed to drive it back, September 30 and again October 7. Unable to eliminate this potential threat, the Confederates sought to nullify it by tripling their force on the Northside and by strengthening existing fortifications and erecting extensive new lines.1 Digging over four miles of new works plus improving old defenses required much manpower. Engineer officers and troops could not begin to meet this need, and combat infantrymen, who fought three battles between September 29 and October 13, could devote only part of their time to entrenching.2 To spare the soldiers some of the burden, to help offset the shortage of manpower, and to meet the crisis, large gangs of Negroes were also set to work. Some such black labor details were already at the engineers' disposal and needed merely to be assigned to the new defenses. Other Negroes were drawn from various government agencies in response to the emergency. Beyond this, General Robert E. Lee, through the War Department, asked Virginia ' The battle of Chaffin's Bluff and other military operations on the Peninsula in this period are described in detail in the author's dissertation, "Grant's Fifth Offensive at Petersburg: A Study of Strategy, Tactics, and Generalship" (Rice University, 1970). ' "Muster Rolls of C and I/lst Confederate Engineers and of B/51st North Carolina, September-October, 1864," Record Group 109, Compiled Service Records, 1st Confederate Engineer Regiment Papers and 51st North Carolina Infantry Regiment Papers, respectively, National Archives (the symbols "RG" and "NA" hereafter refer to "Record Group" and "National Archives," respectively.); The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Annies (Washington, 18801901 ), Ser. I, XLII, pt. 1, 880-81 (hereafter cited as OR, with all references to Series II unless otherwise specified.). 51 52CIVIL WAR HISTORY to impress 1,000 more slaves into labor service. The zealous Engineer Bureau increased the figure to 1,590, and that same day, October 3, Governor William Smith duly called on Richmond and thirteen nearby counties for the larger number. Such measures were common. Black labor gangs customarily performed much of the work on permanent fortifications of the Confederacy , and the right of the central government, through the states, to press them into such service had long been exercised. In this case, however, the emergency was so great that several highly unusual steps were taken to increase the labor force. For one thing, provost troops in Richmond began impressing available Negroes into service as soon as the crisis broke, September 29—five days before the governor authorized such measures. Beyond this, Southern officials put captured Negro soldiers to work on the fortifications. Sixty-eight such captives, taken at the battle of the Crater over two months earlier, were placed in the labor gangs, October 2, and three days later Lieutenant-General Richard S. Ewell, commanding the Department of Richmond, ordered all available Negro prisoners in Libby Prison assigned to such duty. Eighty-two more men of the 5th, 7th, and 30th USCT5—many of whom had been captured at the battle of Chaffin's Bluff itself—were turned over to Brigadier-General Seth Barton to labor on the defenses.6 The causes and consequences of these extraordinary measures— unauthorized impressment of slaves and use of prisoners of war— deserve exploration. The dire crisis obviously prompted the conscription .

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just found this , So Dutch gap is genuine so Simpson is right.

Thanks to the referencing I was able to easily look this claim up for myself. I could find nothing from Lee at p880-881in XLII, Part 1 of the OR - all that was there was part a long report from B-G John Bratton (which did not mention anything about impressing slaves into service).
I did find Lee's reports in relation to that general area at p850-856 and read them twice. The was no mention, absolutely none at all, regarding the impressment of slaves or indeed any mention of slaves at all. I did learn from those reports that A P Hill was in fine form during those actions.
I also conducted a quick search on Dutch Gap and did find that digging was going on in that area but not by the CSA. The digging was being done by (mostly) USCT troops under the command of Gen B F (The Beast) Butler. Some brief information can be found on it here and a photograph here.
 

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
Here is another assessment on Lee's character, this time from the CSA President.

Jefferson Davis
"I shall not attempt to review the military career of our fallen chieftain. Of the man, how shall I speak? He was my friend, and in that word is included all that I could say of any man. His moral qualities rose to the height of his genius. Self-denying; always intent upon the one idea of duty; self-controlled to an extent that many thought him cold, his feelings were really warm, and his heart melted freely at the sight of a wounded soldier, or the story of the sufferings of the widow and orphan. During the war he was ever conscious of the inequality of the means at his control; but it was never his to complain or to utter a doubt; it was always his to do." [link]
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
https://muse.jhu.edu/article/419337/summary

THE DUTCH GAP AFFAIR: Military Atrocities and Rights of Negro Soldiers Richard J. Sommers The Battle of Chaffin's Bluff, September 29-October 1, 1864, threw the Confederate capital into grave danger of capture. The heavy fighting generated a state of strategic instability east of Richmond lasting into mid-October. It also raised a side issue of the rights of slaveholders versus Negro soldiers that threatened to result in one of the major atrocity incidents of the Civil War. This incident reached its climax in the Dutch Gap Canal, so it may well be termed "the Dutch Gap Affair." The affair originated in the wake of the battle of Chaffin's Bluff, which saw the Union Army of the James achieve a major breakthrough on the Peninsula, September 29. Southerners managed to stop this army short of Richmond but signally failed to drive it back, September 30 and again October 7. Unable to eliminate this potential threat, the Confederates sought to nullify it by tripling their force on the Northside and by strengthening existing fortifications and erecting extensive new lines.1 Digging over four miles of new works plus improving old defenses required much manpower. Engineer officers and troops could not begin to meet this need, and combat infantrymen, who fought three battles between September 29 and October 13, could devote only part of their time to entrenching.2 To spare the soldiers some of the burden, to help offset the shortage of manpower, and to meet the crisis, large gangs of Negroes were also set to work. Some such black labor details were already at the engineers' disposal and needed merely to be assigned to the new defenses. Other Negroes were drawn from various government agencies in response to the emergency. Beyond this, General Robert E. Lee, through the War Department, asked Virginia ' The battle of Chaffin's Bluff and other military operations on the Peninsula in this period are described in detail in the author's dissertation, "Grant's Fifth Offensive at Petersburg: A Study of Strategy, Tactics, and Generalship" (Rice University, 1970). ' "Muster Rolls of C and I/lst Confederate Engineers and of B/51st North Carolina, September-October, 1864," Record Group 109, Compiled Service Records, 1st Confederate Engineer Regiment Papers and 51st North Carolina Infantry Regiment Papers, respectively, National Archives (the symbols "RG" and "NA" hereafter refer to "Record Group" and "National Archives," respectively.); The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Annies (Washington, 18801901 ), Ser. I, XLII, pt. 1, 880-81 (hereafter cited as OR, with all references to Series II unless otherwise specified.). 51 52CIVIL WAR HISTORY to impress 1,000 more slaves into labor service. The zealous Engineer Bureau increased the figure to 1,590, and that same day, October 3, Governor William Smith duly called on Richmond and thirteen nearby counties for the larger number. Such measures were common. Black labor gangs customarily performed much of the work on permanent fortifications of the Confederacy , and the right of the central government, through the states, to press them into such service had long been exercised. In this case, however, the emergency was so great that several highly unusual steps were taken to increase the labor force. For one thing, provost troops in Richmond began impressing available Negroes into service as soon as the crisis broke, September 29—five days before the governor authorized such measures. Beyond this, Southern officials put captured Negro soldiers to work on the fortifications. Sixty-eight such captives, taken at the battle of the Crater over two months earlier, were placed in the labor gangs, October 2, and three days later Lieutenant-General Richard S. Ewell, commanding the Department of Richmond, ordered all available Negro prisoners in Libby Prison assigned to such duty. Eighty-two more men of the 5th, 7th, and 30th USCT5—many of whom had been captured at the battle of Chaffin's Bluff itself—were turned over to Brigadier-General Seth Barton to labor on the defenses.6 The causes and consequences of these extraordinary measures— unauthorized impressment of slaves and use of prisoners of war— deserve exploration. The dire crisis obviously prompted the conscription .

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just found this , So Dutch gap is genuine so Simpson is right.
Here you go, Scott. A period newspaper backs it up:

NY Times Oct 24, 1864​
-- Gen. BUTLER's latest application of the law of retaliation has been followed by practical and satisfactory results. Gen. LEE had a number of negro troops, that had fallen into his hands as prisoners of war, put to work in the trenches near Fort Gilmer. Gen. BUTLER made his Provost-Marshal take evidence as to the facts, and on finding them proven, he at once ordered a number of rebel soldiers to be put to work on the Dutch Gap Canal, within range of the rebel fire. The expedient worked like a charm. LEE has released the negroes from the trenches at Fort Gilmer, BUTLER has released the rebels at Dutch Gap. We presume the dignity of the Confederacy is sustained.​
 

Georgia

Sergeant
Here you go, Scott. A period newspaper backs it up:

NY Times Oct 24, 1864​
-- Gen. BUTLER's latest application of the law of retaliation has been followed by practical and satisfactory results. Gen. LEE had a number of negro troops, that had fallen into his hands as prisoners of war, put to work in the trenches near Fort Gilmer. Gen. BUTLER made his Provost-Marshal take evidence as to the facts, and on finding them proven, he at once ordered a number of rebel soldiers to be put to work on the Dutch Gap Canal, within range of the rebel fire. The expedient worked like a charm. LEE has released the negroes from the trenches at Fort Gilmer, BUTLER has released the rebels at Dutch Gap. We presume the dignity of the Confederacy is sustained.​
Curious, did it say which newspaper?
 

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
Here you go, Scott. A period newspaper backs it up:

NY Times Oct 24, 1864​
-- Gen. BUTLER's latest application of the law of retaliation has been followed by practical and satisfactory results. Gen. LEE had a number of negro troops, that had fallen into his hands as prisoners of war, put to work in the trenches near Fort Gilmer. Gen. BUTLER made his Provost-Marshal take evidence as to the facts, and on finding them proven, he at once ordered a number of rebel soldiers to be put to work on the Dutch Gap Canal, within range of the rebel fire. The expedient worked like a charm. LEE has released the negroes from the trenches at Fort Gilmer, BUTLER has released the rebels at Dutch Gap. We presume the dignity of the Confederacy is sustained.​

No it doesn't.

The original claim being made was:
"Beyond this, General Robert E. Lee, through the War Department, asked Virginia to impress 1,000 more slaves into labor service."

This was said to be in relation to Dutch Gap: it is now being said it relates to Fort Gilmer. Even if the Fort Gilmer matter occurred how do we know Lee issued the order as there is no record of it. I doubt any evidence exists to say that General Lee was there let alone issued any such order.

On 29 September 1864 it appears that General Lee was personally leading CS reinforcements to the battle [link] so we know he could not have been personally involved in any defensive preparations. The extract says "General Robert E. Lee, through the War Department, asked Virginia to impress 1,000 more slaves into labor service. The zealous Engineer Bureau increased the figure to 1,590, and that same day, October 3, Governor William Smith ..."
On October 3 1864 we know that Lee was not at Fort Gilmer because he was at his headquarters at Chaffin's Bluff [link].
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
No it doesn't.

The original claim being made was:
"Beyond this, General Robert E. Lee, through the War Department, asked Virginia to impress 1,000 more slaves into labor service."

This was said to be in relation to Dutch Gap: it is now being said it relates to Fort Gilmer. Even if the Fort Gilmer matter occurred how do we know Lee issued the order as there is no record of it. I doubt any evidence exists to say that General Lee was there let alone issued any such order.

On 29 September 1864 it appears that General Lee was personally leading CS reinforcements to the battle [link] so we know he could not have been personally involved in any defensive preparations. The extract says "General Robert E. Lee, through the War Department, asked Virginia to impress 1,000 more slaves into labor service. The zealous Engineer Bureau increased the figure to 1,590, and that same day, October 3, Governor William Smith ..."
On October 3 1864 we know that Lee was not at Fort Gilmer because he was at his headquarters at Chaffin's Bluff [link].
Actually yes it does. The original blog post that Scott referenced that began this was about the black union POW's forced to work on fortifications and the resulting retaliation by Butler exposing confederate POW's to enemy fire in the same way.

If you had bothered to look at Simpsons sources, you'd see where to find the letters back and forth between Lee and Grant concerning this situation. Simpson provides a volume and page number in the Papers of Ulysses Grant, which are freely accessible online.
 
Top