Southern insurrection during Grant’s presidency

Joined
Aug 29, 2020
Looking to start a conversation regarding Southern uprisings in the South surrounding elections during the Grant years. I just completed the section on his Presidency in Chernow’s Grant, in which he highlighted multiple instances of severe Southern intimidation tactics against blacks, leading to a large number of black voters being murdered, as well as non-voting women and children in Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia.

As we all know, any period in history usually develops a narrative, typically in black and white language; in this case “Reconstruction was a disaster.” As seen in other threads, there were successes and failures during the Reconstruction period, and like any event or figure in history we can not discredit an entire multi-year time period as a total success or a total failure. I was, however, deeply moved and completely disturbed by the racial violence ensuing in the South, particularly surrounding black voting rights, but I also, of course, am viewing them from my 21st century view and have to check myself in regards to the Open Wound being experienced in the south in the wake of losing the war.

Was there anything Grant could have done better or differently to quash these uprisings? He generating criticism from both sides; certain Republicans and (obviously) Democrats felt that federal aide was unconstitutional, while Radical Republicans felt he didn’t do enough. Furthermore, feel free to share more specific information regarding racial violence in the south, or elsewhere; I have only just begun studying Reconstruction.

Looking forward to responses :smile:
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Looking to start a conversation regarding Southern uprisings in the South surrounding elections during the Grant years. I just completed the section on his Presidency in Chernow’s Grant, in which he highlighted multiple instances of severe Southern intimidation tactics against blacks, leading to a large number of black voters being murdered, as well as non-voting women and children in Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia.

As we all know, any period in history usually develops a narrative, typically in black and white language; in this case “Reconstruction was a disaster.” As seen in other threads, there were successes and failures during the Reconstruction period, and like any event or figure in history we can not discredit an entire multi-year time period as a total success or a total failure. I was, however, deeply moved and completely disturbed by the racial violence ensuing in the South, particularly surrounding black voting rights, but I also, of course, am viewing them from my 21st century view and have to check myself in regards to the Open Wound being experienced in the south in the wake of losing the war.

Was there anything Grant could have done better or differently to quash these uprisings? He generating criticism from both sides; certain Republicans and (obviously) Democrats felt that federal aide was unconstitutional, while Radical Republicans felt he didn’t do enough. Furthermore, feel free to share more specific information regarding racial violence in the south, or elsewhere; I have only just begun studying Reconstruction.

Looking forward to responses :smile:
Basically the federal government was fighting a very low intensity Counterinsurgency Campaign with very limited means.
For example in one biography of General George Thomas" George Thomas Virginian for the Union"
General Thomas who was given a section of Kentucky and Tennessee wrote a letter to the widow of a Unionist complaining of ex Confederate's committing terrorism that Thomas's command simply lacked enough manpower to provide adequate protection to Unionists and people of color and his only Cavalry Regiment for a large area was sent to fight Indians in the West.
Some states such has Arkansas and North Carolina did have state militas that fought with some degree of success against white racist paramilitaries. Of course after the election of President Garfield and the withdrawal of federal troops from the South such state efforts collapsed. I have a past thread on this subject if you want me to bump it up.
Also @Pat Young has written various scholarly articles on the subject of Reconstruction on this forum and elsewhere.
I would compare Reconstruction to another similar more modern conflict bit you and whoever wishes would have to PM me on that subject.
Leftyhunter
 
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leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Looking to start a conversation regarding Southern uprisings in the South surrounding elections during the Grant years. I just completed the section on his Presidency in Chernow’s Grant, in which he highlighted multiple instances of severe Southern intimidation tactics against blacks, leading to a large number of black voters being murdered, as well as non-voting women and children in Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia.

As we all know, any period in history usually develops a narrative, typically in black and white language; in this case “Reconstruction was a disaster.” As seen in other threads, there were successes and failures during the Reconstruction period, and like any event or figure in history we can not discredit an entire multi-year time period as a total success or a total failure. I was, however, deeply moved and completely disturbed by the racial violence ensuing in the South, particularly surrounding black voting rights, but I also, of course, am viewing them from my 21st century view and have to check myself in regards to the Open Wound being experienced in the south in the wake of losing the war.

Was there anything Grant could have done better or differently to quash these uprisings? He generating criticism from both sides; certain Republicans and (obviously) Democrats felt that federal aide was unconstitutional, while Radical Republicans felt he didn’t do enough. Furthermore, feel free to share more specific information regarding racial violence in the south, or elsewhere; I have only just begun studying Reconstruction.

Looking forward to responses :smile:
My old thread has been locked but you can still read it and it has sources " armed opposition and ind insurgency during Reconstruction".
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Looking to start a conversation regarding Southern uprisings in the South surrounding elections during the Grant years. I just completed the section on his Presidency in Chernow’s Grant, in which he highlighted multiple instances of severe Southern intimidation tactics against blacks, leading to a large number of black voters being murdered, as well as non-voting women and children in Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia.

As we all know, any period in history usually develops a narrative, typically in black and white language; in this case “Reconstruction was a disaster.” As seen in other threads, there were successes and failures during the Reconstruction period, and like any event or figure in history we can not discredit an entire multi-year time period as a total success or a total failure. I was, however, deeply moved and completely disturbed by the racial violence ensuing in the South, particularly surrounding black voting rights, but I also, of course, am viewing them from my 21st century view and have to check myself in regards to the Open Wound being experienced in the south in the wake of losing the war.

Was there anything Grant could have done better or differently to quash these uprisings? He generating criticism from both sides; certain Republicans and (obviously) Democrats felt that federal aide was unconstitutional, while Radical Republicans felt he didn’t do enough. Furthermore, feel free to share more specific information regarding racial violence in the south, or elsewhere; I have only just begun studying Reconstruction.

Looking forward to responses :smile:
We have to keep in mind that the US population was exausted after the ACW and the US Government had a lot of debt. Counterinsurgency is always expensive and requires a lot of manpower and the results can be very messy. The Union Army was very experienced in Counterinsurgency operations during the ACW and did reasonably well but it required quite a bit of effort and expense.
Leftyhunter
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Improving the economy of the former states of the Confederacy was not a high priority. Establishing social justice that would add black farmers to the consumer economy was not seen as a worthy investment.
The first priority after the Civil War was cutting military expenditures and getting the federal budget back to a surplus position. In order to do that stored cotton had to start moving, and the south had to produce new cotton.
The debt had to be rationalized and the debt service was being paid in gold, which was a big premium for bond holders.
There was not an investment program in the south nearly as large as the effort to build a national railroad through the new Republican states of Nebraska and Nevada and to reach California and Oregon. Not too surprisingly, the country was in the process of helping friends and avoiding issues in the south that did not have an easy solution.
 
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wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
As this primitive map of 1880 railroads demonstrates, as soon as Missouri was free from slavery, it became very attractive to railroads. Missouri was a very populous and important state for the next 85 years after the Civil War.
1599872539672.png


Texas was similarly situated and the census counts agree. Once the issue of slavery was removed, the immensely productive land of Texas filled up, mainly with southerners looking to start over again, but plenty of freedmen and women, too.
 

Pat Young

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
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Location
Long Island, NY
Basically the federal government was fighting a very low intensity Counterinsurgency Campaign with very limited means.
For example in one biography of General George Thomas" George Thomas Virginian for the Union"
General Thomas who was given a section of Kentucky and Tennessee wrote a letter to the widow of a Unionist complaining of ex Confederate's committing terrorism that Thomas's command simply lacked enough manpower to provide adequate protection to Unionists and people of color and his only Cavalry Regiment for a large area was sent to fight Indians in the West.
Some states such has Arkansas and North Carolina did have state militas that fought with some degree of success against white racist paramilitaries. Of course after the election of President Garfield and the withdrawal of federal troops from the South such state efforts collapsed. I have a past thread on this subject if you want me to bump it up.
Also @Pat Young has written various scholarly articles on the subject of Reconstruction on this forum and elsewhere.
I would compare Reconstruction to another similar more modern conflict bit you and whoever wishes would have to PM me on that subject.
Leftyhunter
If you google “the reconstruction era blog” you can find a recent series I wrote on insurrectionary violence by the white league.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
If you google “the reconstruction era blog” you can find a recent series I wrote on insurrectionary violence by the white league.
Would you agree with the basic premise for Reconstruction to work it would of taken a massive federal investment in terms of military and civilian spending to rebuild the South into a more equitable society something an exausted American public was not willing to do?
Leftyhunter
 

Joshism

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
I was, however, deeply moved and completely disturbed by the racial violence ensuing in the South, particularly surrounding black voting rights,

This behavior didn't end in 1877 either.

Was there anything Grant could have done better or differently to quash these uprisings?

I get the impression Grant's administration was moderately successful responding to events especially under the circumstances. I agree the North was war weary.

There's also the fact that many Northerners were anti-slavery but not pro-black. They didn't care about black equality or voting rights, and were probably dismissive ("It can't be that bad") of reports out of the South. It wasn't until TV showed that, yes, it really was that bad that their attitudes really changed.

Reconstruction also became a very partisan issue. Violence and corruption in the South was used to attack the Grant administration, at least by the opposition press.

The Union Army was very experienced in Counterinsurgency operations during the ACW and did reasonably well but it required quite a bit of effort and expense.

Experienced, yes. But was anyone taking notes do really establish doctrine?

And in some cases the Union may have been a little too heavy-handed and also failed to reign in some overzealous commanders.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
This behavior didn't end in 1877 either.



I get the impression Grant's administration was moderately successful responding to events especially under the circumstances. I agree the North was war weary.

There's also the fact that many Northerners were anti-slavery but not pro-black. They didn't care about black equality or voting rights, and were probably dismissive ("It can't be that bad") of reports out of the South. It wasn't until TV showed that, yes, it really was that bad that their attitudes really changed.

Reconstruction also became a very partisan issue. Violence and corruption in the South was used to attack the Grant administration, at least by the opposition press.



Experienced, yes. But was anyone taking notes do really establish doctrine?

And in some cases the Union may have been a little too heavy-handed and also failed to reign in some overzealous commanders.
The first official US military field manual on Counterinsurgency was the 1928 USMC " Small Wars Manual" that discussed lessons the US Marines learned during the earlier conflicts in Hatti,the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
Former Union Colonel George Kirk of the Third North Carolina Mounted Infantry Union was given command of the North Carolina State Troops by North Carolina Governor Holden during the brief 1876 "Kirk-Holden War".
@billie_yank17 might be interested in the book " Kirk's Raiders a notorious bunch of scoundrels and thieves" George Bumgardner Tar Heel Press which goes into great detail about the Kirk-Holden War.
I would argue that Robert Rogers and George Kirk were pioneers in what would latter be called Special Warfare.
George Kirk was very familiar with Counterinsurgency.
Another very experienced counterinsurgency officer was Walter Monk Colonel commanding the 9th Missiouri State Militia during the ACW and latter commanded Arkansas State Militia that sucessfully fought the KKK using both MSM and Unionist veterans from Arkansas. See his autobiography " A History of Southern Missiouri and Northern Arkansas'.
What the US lacked was using officers with an extensive Counterinsurgency background in a substained effort using former Unionist and USCT Veterans that know the terrain and the people .
As a general rule the most effective counterinsurgency troops are local troops since they know who's who. The caveat is they bare grudges and yes they will act upon them.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
This behavior didn't end in 1877 either.



I get the impression Grant's administration was moderately successful responding to events especially under the circumstances. I agree the North was war weary.

There's also the fact that many Northerners were anti-slavery but not pro-black. They didn't care about black equality or voting rights, and were probably dismissive ("It can't be that bad") of reports out of the South. It wasn't until TV showed that, yes, it really was that bad that their attitudes really changed.

Reconstruction also became a very partisan issue. Violence and corruption in the South was used to attack the Grant administration, at least by the opposition press.



Experienced, yes. But was anyone taking notes do really establish doctrine?

And in some cases the Union may have been a little too heavy-handed and also failed to reign in some overzealous commanders.
No doubt that counterinsurgency doesn't bring out the warm fuzzies in military and or paramilitary personnel. Sucessful commanders might not be the nicest sweetest people.
Leftyhunter
 

Pat Young

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Featured Book Reviewer
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Location
Long Island, NY
Would you agree with the basic premise for Reconstruction to work it would of taken a massive federal investment in terms of military and civilian spending to rebuild the South into a more equitable society something an exausted American public was not willing to do?
Leftyhunter
I am not sure. Arming the African Americans for their own defense might have relieved the cost somewhat. I think one problem was the unwillingness of Northern whites to allow blacks to do to Southern whites what Northerners eventually allowed Southern whites to do to blacks. I think that many Northern whites were unwilling to see Southern whites deprived of the vote and subjected to coercive governmental violence, but they allowed Southern whites to do just that to Blacks.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I am not sure. Arming the African Americans for their own defense might have relieved the cost somewhat. I think one problem was the unwillingness of Northern whites to allow blacks to do to Southern whites what Northerners eventually allowed Southern whites to do to blacks. I think that many Northern whites were unwilling to see Southern whites deprived of the vote and subjected to coercive governmental violence, but they allowed Southern whites to do just that to Blacks.
Ideally there would be no racial discrimination against any population group but absolutely it would of been necessary for African Americans to full participate in their own defense. Counterinsurgency by definition is manpower intensive but as pointed out it was a political bridge to far although there were some black Milita and police such has at the batttle of Liberty Palace in New Orleans where Former Confedrate General James Longstreet actually led such a force.
Leftyhunter
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
I am not sure. Arming the African Americans for their own defense might have relieved the cost somewhat. I think one problem was the unwillingness of Northern whites to allow blacks to do to Southern whites what Northerners eventually allowed Southern whites to do to blacks. I think that many Northern whites were unwilling to see Southern whites deprived of the vote and subjected to coercive governmental violence, but they allowed Southern whites to do just that to Blacks.
The US should have created freedmen's districts where the land was force leased to family that worked it under terms set by Congress, with leases lasting 30 years. But anything simulating ownership of land by the freed slaves would have been revolutionary, and the northern white property owners were not willing to support such steps.
 
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
While strongly indirectly related to the thread, I wish to put in a plug for: FAREWELL TO THE BLOODY SHIRT by STANLEY P. HIRSHSON which is an old outstanding classic. It explains the How and the Why the abandonment of the Southern Negro by the Republican Party. By its nature this also explains the same fate of the Southern White Republican/Unionist.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
The US should have created freedmen's districts where the land was force leased to family that worked it under terms set by Congress, with leases lasting 30 years. But anything simulating ownership of land by the freed slaves would have been revolutionary, and the northern white property owners were not willing to support such steps.
Unfortunately the US Constitution doesn't allow siezing land from disloyalty people.
Leftyhunter
 
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