Sgt. Bates March from Vicksburg to Washington, 1868

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Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Feb 20, 2005
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
To All,

This is an interesting story of one Sergeant Gilbert H. Bates, formerly of the 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery Regiment, who wished to prove there were no longer any ill feelings among southerners towards the north, by marching with an unfurled United States flag from Vicksburg, MS, to Washington, D. C.

Read his story at the following websites:

Gilbert Bates.

Sergeant Bates March Carrying the Stars and Stripes Unfurled from Vicksburg to Washington (1868) (In his own words).



Sep 3, 2009
South Carolina
Bates must've been a Democrat. The Republicans were the ones kicking the South while it was down.

A few snips from Paul Buck's Road to Reunion

"Even the whites of the non-slaveholding class, whom Trowbridge portrayed as the victims of exploitation in the old regime and who would be, he predicted, greatly benefited by free society, could not at the moment be trusted as a stable foundation for society. They had been rendered too ignorant by slavery. The smug sense of superiority so prevalent in Trowbridge was sharply revealed in the language he used to describe his contact with a young yeoman of Virginia. "What a gulf betwixt his mind and mine! Sitting side by side there [on the buggy seat] we were as far asunder as the great globe's poles." "He was,"
Trowbridge later added in his reminiscences, "a common product of Southern institutions."

"There remained only the emancipated Negro, and he emerged as the hero of Trowbridge' s pages. He was pictured as a self-
reliant character, eager for advancement and deserving impartial enjoyment of his "rights as a freedman." In contrast to
him stood the white people who, "well-educated or illiterate, . . . detested the negroes and wished every one of them driven
out of the State." Trowbridge concluded therefore that some protection on the part of the Federal government as necessary to the black man in his new condition."

The following might be part of the incentive for the biased reporting.

"Knox's bias was apparent in the caution that not until Southerners were taught that "there is no possible hope for them to control the national policy" could conciliation be accomplished."

However, there's always at least a few good men willing to tell the truth, like Bates. His words seemed to fall on deaf ears though.

"Most penetrating of all the journalists and most sympathetic to the Southern point of view was the New Englander, Benjamin C. Truman. He placed implicit trust in the disbanded Confederate veterans as the best material for worthy citizenship and as the safest basis for the erection of a Reconstruction policy. In his opinion the Negro's future would be most secure in the understanding and friendly hands of the former master class. "Stories and rumors" of Southern outrages he assailed as overdrawn. Few reporters spent as much time in the South as he. None had a better technique of investigation. But whereas other journalists presented their material in readable books, Truman's report was in the nature of an official governmental document of fourteen pages. In such form it was a mere bundle of conclusions with none of the vivid anecdotes, personal encounters, or circumstantial intimacies that conveyed so effectively the message of his rivals."

But the predominate voice wasn't Truman's.

"(Whitelaw) Reid was never dull, and his swift-running narrative had an answer to every question that the North was raising. The message he transmitted was that the Southern people were arrogant and defiant, still nursing the embers of the "rebellion" and cherishing its ashes."

"To a large extent, especially in the lesser journals of the West, this material came from Northern sojourners in the South. As a class this group had aggravated conceptions of Southern failings, and was inclined to urge a policy of sternness, vigilance, and repression. Yet being Northerners they had the ear of the North, and gave a tone of unrelaxing severity to Northern journalism."

What, another voice of truth?

"The great Juggernaut of propaganda ran easily into radicalism because that was the line of least resistance, where war
emotions found readiest outlet. It was indicated to President Johnson in October that the radicals were flooding the country
with partisan accounts, and that it was "wrong for us to wait until prejudices and passions, and hate of the South, and avarice, and ambition shall all be joined together hand in hand, before wise statesmanship, magnanimity and returning affection and loyalty can have a fair chance."

Lord Grey stated it best in 1919 at the end of WWI.

"War has stirred passion, enlisted sympathies, and aroused hatreds; many of the war generation have formed opinions that nothing will modify, and are dominated by predilections or prejudices that have become an inseparable part of their lives. With such people mental digestion ceases to be able to assimilate anything except what nourishes convictions already formed; all else is rejected or resented; and new material or reflections about the war are searched not for the truth, but for fuel to feed the flame of preconceived opinion."
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John Winn

Mar 13, 2014
State of Jefferson
What a great story ! I'd never heard of the guy. Those kinds of things help restore a little of the faith in humanity I seem to be short of these days. Thanks.
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!