Were some Union soldiers fighting to preserve slavery?(!)

CMWinkler

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Were some Union soldiers fighting to preserve slavery?(!)
Posted on February 19, 2011 by Robert Moore
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Yes, you read that correctly. Give me a little time, and I’ll set the stage…
As many who follow this blog know, one of my favorite areas of study is western Maryland… most especially, the Clear Spring and Conococheague Districts in Washington County. Likewise, I spend a good deal of time researching the men from this area who were members of Col. Henry Cole’s 1st Potomac Home Brigade Cavalry (US). As most of the men in Co. B were from these two districts, and considering the fact that this area was, indeed, south of the Mason-Dixon Line, many of the men could be classified as Southerners. Even C. Armour Newcomer, author of the only standing history of Cole’s Cavalry, considered himself Southern (though not a Washington Countian, but native of Baltimore, and member of Co. A).
Although connected by ties of birth and blood with the South, I loved my country and flag better than my State or section.​
Being culturally Southern, and being in support of Union, the label “Southern Unionist”, therefore, seems only fitting for these people.
Still, in that there were several “tiers” of Southern Unionists, I need to be clear. While some Southern Unionists were, without a doubt, unconditional Unionists, there were a good number, even among the unconditionalists, who continued to embrace the institution of slavery. There was, at least at the early point in the war, no need to draw a line between the two – slaveholder and Unionist. In fact, it appears that some of these slaveholding, unconditional Unionists clung to the Union even tighter, thinking that following the Union, not secession, was the best way to preserve the peculiar institution.
So, this gets me to the point where I can explain a little about the reasoning behind the title of this post…
This has all been in the back of my head for sometime, but tonight, I sat down, for just a little while, to tap into the 1860 slave schedules for Clear Spring… and, I was not disappointed at my findings. On the first page (there are only three pages for Clear Spring) I selected (page 2), I found Mr. Henry Firey. Henry was born about 1795, and was still kicking in 1860. Not only was he kicking, but he was also the owner of seven slaves (ranking third in most slaves held by anyone, at that time, in that district).
Expired Image Removed
Firey/Fiery Family Monument, St. Pauls Lutheran Church Cemetery, Clear Spring, Md.
Yes, I know, Henry was too old to fight… but he did have sons who merit further attention.
One son, William F. Firey, was the captain of Company B of Cole’s Cavalry (1st Potomac Home Brigade Cavalry).
Another son, Lewis P. Firey, carried huge anti-secessionist sentiments, and not only played a powerful part in securing a strong following for Bell and the Constitutional Union party in Clear Spring, but was a lion for the early Union war effort in the district. When the 1st Potomac Home Brigade Infantry formed, Lewis was initially on the books as a major and enrolling officer, but declined further service once he was tapped for a spot in the wartime Maryland legislature.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Believe me, I know all too well that sons did not necessarily carry-over the sentiments of their fathers. I’ve encountered this on more than one occasion in the Shenandoah Valley… some fathers being devout Unionists, while sons were Confederates… sometimes even Confederate officers. But, we’re left to wonder just what that relationship was between the sons and their father’s slaves, and how, and if, it had any influence on their decisions in 1861, and even into 1862. Were they ashamed, was it simply part of life as they understood it, or were they men of action, doing what they did, in part, with the hope of seeing the continuance of slavery?
I think it merits further thought and discussion… and, of course, research.

http://cenantua.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/were-some-union-soldiers-fighting-to-preserve-slavery/
 

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leftyhunter

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Where the rubber hit the road was after the Emancipation Proclamation some Union soldiers did desert since now they knew the war was really about slavery. From what I can tell though most Union soldiers from the border states and the CSA states did not desert and continued to serve at least adequately has soldiers.
Leftyhunter
 

John Hartwell

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While some border-staters may well have enlisted in the Union army in hopes that their loyalty might preserve their own slave property, nearly the same number possibly enlisted because they thought Lincoln was a great Vampire Hunter!:giggle:

Hilaritas!

jno
 

James B White

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Kentucky's loyalty to the union meant Kentuckians, legally speaking, got to keep their slaves up to the bitter end, December 1865 (practically speaking, they were draining away at a fast rate).

So in that sense, Kentucky's support for the union meant slavery lasted longer there than it would have if it seceeded, but not as long as if it had seceeded and the south had won.
 

Republican Blues

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Yup sure, all of em were... and them good ol boys down south just wanted to be independant, so they could free em in thier own time, all Notherners are not even human, they are all spawn of the pit, they all have tails and horns, they breathe fire, eat children, rape anythng that moves, and are solely responsible for all the wars ever fought by man, the plague, the holocaust, racism, slavery, and anything else you wanna tag onto them.... mater of fact, my ancesters in the federal army were actually known to have firey red scaled skin, and rattles at the end of thier tails, and 18" long fangs and spines down thier backs that ooozed venom.
 

Rob9641

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At the beginning of the war, the Union goal was keeping the Union together with the least disruption possible. I would argue that at the beginning of the war, all Union soldiers were fighting to keep slavery intact, where it was in the slaveholding states where it already existed. After the Emancipation Proclamation, they were all fighting to abolish slavery.

Individual Union soldiers had their own reasons for fighting, just as individual Confederates did, but like soldiers everywhere, they fought for their political affiliates' reasons no matter what. The Confederacy's goal was always to preserve and expand slavery, and their soldiers always fought for that. The Union goal re: slavery changed in 1863.
 

1SGDan

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Were some Union soldiers fighting to preserve slavery?(!)

Union soldiers, like their Confederate counterparts, were fighting, if they liked it or not, for the goals of the government they supported. That's the way it has always been, they were no different.
 

James B White

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At the beginning of the war, the Union goal was keeping the Union together with the least disruption possible. I would argue that at the beginning of the war, all Union soldiers were fighting to keep slavery intact, where it was in the slaveholding states where it already existed. After the Emancipation Proclamation, they were all fighting to abolish slavery.
I think it depends how narrowly or broadly you define the goal of the government. After the Emancipation Proclamation, it's true that Union soldiers were fighting to gain control of land which would then free the slaves in that area, but it didn't abolish slavery nationwide, so they were fighting to free some slaves, but not to abolish slavery in principle. But one could also say that after the 1861 Confiscation Act and similar things, they were already fighting to free some slaves.

However, the Emancipation Proclamation certainly made more clear that the federal government was an abolitionist one, and in that sense, they were fighting for the goals of their government. But some had suspected that from the beginning, and others, like some of the Kentuckians or Marylanders, perhaps thought or hoped that slavery could continue among loyal citizens, so the change in mindset is hard to define as specifically as a legal change.

Legally, the months after the EP was announced and before it went into effect Jan. 1 was probably the one time Union soldiers were fighting most explicitly for slavery. Any slaves in areas that they could get to surrender during that time would remain legally slaves after Jan. 1.
 

CMWinkler

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Were some Union soldiers fighting to preserve slavery?(!)

Union soldiers, like their Confederate counterparts, were fighting, if they liked it or not, for the goals of the government they supported. That's the way it has always been, they were no different.
Then you agree with me, Top, that at least prior to January 1, 1863, Union soldiers were, in fact, fighting to preserve slavery.
 

Carronade

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"Fighting to preserve" something implies a deliberate intent or objective, which I doubt existed in the minds of most Union soldiers. It also implies that the outcome of the fighting will determine the preservation of whatever, which was not the case early on. If the war had been won or lost in its first year, there would have been no immediate effect on slavery in states like Kentucky. It might better be phrased that preservation of slavery in loyal states was incidental to the war for the Union.

JBW provides a good example, perhaps inadvertently:

Legally, the months after the EP was announced and before it went into effect Jan. 1 was probably the one time Union soldiers were fighting most explicitly for slavery. Any slaves in areas that they could get to surrender during that time would remain legally slaves after Jan. 1.

If Union forces had secured say several counties of Mississippi or Virginia during that period, it would indeed have had the incidental effect of allowing slaveowners therein to retain their slaves; but that would hardly have been the purpose or intent of the strategists who conceived the operation or the soldiers who carried it out.
 
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Were some Union soldiers fighting to preserve slavery?(!)
Posted on February 19, 2011 by Robert Moore
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Yes, you read that correctly. Give me a little time, and I’ll set the stage…
As many who follow this blog know, one of my favorite areas of study is western Maryland… most especially, the Clear Spring and Conococheague Districts in Washington County. Likewise, I spend a good deal of time researching the men from this area who were members of Col. Henry Cole’s 1st Potomac Home Brigade Cavalry (US). As most of the men in Co. B were from these two districts, and considering the fact that this area was, indeed, south of the Mason-Dixon Line, many of the men could be classified as Southerners. Even C. Armour Newcomer, author of the only standing history of Cole’s Cavalry, considered himself Southern (though not a Washington Countian, but native of Baltimore, and member of Co. A).
Although connected by ties of birth and blood with the South, I loved my country and flag better than my State or section.​
Being culturally Southern, and being in support of Union, the label “Southern Unionist”, therefore, seems only fitting for these people.
Still, in that there were several “tiers” of Southern Unionists, I need to be clear. While some Southern Unionists were, without a doubt, unconditional Unionists, there were a good number, even among the unconditionalists, who continued to embrace the institution of slavery. There was, at least at the early point in the war, no need to draw a line between the two – slaveholder and Unionist. In fact, it appears that some of these slaveholding, unconditional Unionists clung to the Union even tighter, thinking that following the Union, not secession, was the best way to preserve the peculiar institution.
So, this gets me to the point where I can explain a little about the reasoning behind the title of this post…
This has all been in the back of my head for sometime, but tonight, I sat down, for just a little while, to tap into the 1860 slave schedules for Clear Spring… and, I was not disappointed at my findings. On the first page (there are only three pages for Clear Spring) I selected (page 2), I found Mr. Henry Firey. Henry was born about 1795, and was still kicking in 1860. Not only was he kicking, but he was also the owner of seven slaves (ranking third in most slaves held by anyone, at that time, in that district).
Expired Image Removed
Firey/Fiery Family Monument, St. Pauls Lutheran Church Cemetery, Clear Spring, Md.
Yes, I know, Henry was too old to fight… but he did have sons who merit further attention.
One son, William F. Firey, was the captain of Company B of Cole’s Cavalry (1st Potomac Home Brigade Cavalry).
Another son, Lewis P. Firey, carried huge anti-secessionist sentiments, and not only played a powerful part in securing a strong following for Bell and the Constitutional Union party in Clear Spring, but was a lion for the early Union war effort in the district. When the 1st Potomac Home Brigade Infantry formed, Lewis was initially on the books as a major and enrolling officer, but declined further service once he was tapped for a spot in the wartime Maryland legislature.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Believe me, I know all too well that sons did not necessarily carry-over the sentiments of their fathers. I’ve encountered this on more than one occasion in the Shenandoah Valley… some fathers being devout Unionists, while sons were Confederates… sometimes even Confederate officers. But, we’re left to wonder just what that relationship was between the sons and their father’s slaves, and how, and if, it had any influence on their decisions in 1861, and even into 1862. Were they ashamed, was it simply part of life as they understood it, or were they men of action, doing what they did, in part, with the hope of seeing the continuance of slavery?
I think it merits further thought and discussion… and, of course, research.

http://cenantua.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/were-some-union-soldiers-fighting-to-preserve-slavery/
" While some Southern Unionists were, without a doubt, unconditional Unionists, there were a good number, even among the unconditionalists, who continued to embrace the institution of slavery. There was, at least at the early point in the war, no need to draw a line between the two – slaveholder and Unionist. In fact, it appears that some of these slaveholding, unconditional Unionists clung to the Union even tighter, thinking that following the Union, not secession, was the best way to preserve the peculiar institution. " This perfectly describes The " Fighting Parson," east Tennessee Unionist, William G. Brownlow. He and Andrew Johnson despised one another for years before the Civil War. On this point however the totally agreed.
 

CMWinkler

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That's a wild stretch and ignoring the Confiscation Acts.
I prefer, Ole, to think of it as hyperbole. My point is that things aren't as cut and dried that it was proslavery vs. anti-slavery. While slavery was at the core of the dispute, it was not kind the end all and be all of the war.
 

Georgia Coast

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Hmmm, looks like a pretty good propaganda job to me, since this was one of the favorite ways slaveholders tried to keep slaves from running to Union lines -- "The Yankees will sell you to Cuba where you will be even worse off than you are here." What's the source and date of the clipping? Who was the Spanish consul? What Southern port? Is there any evidence at all of this claim?
 

Rob9641

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I think it depends how narrowly or broadly you define the goal of the government. After the Emancipation Proclamation, it's true that Union soldiers were fighting to gain control of land which would then free the slaves in that area, but it didn't abolish slavery nationwide, so they were fighting to free some slaves, but not to abolish slavery in principle. But one could also say that after the 1861 Confiscation Act and similar things, they were already fighting to free some slaves.

However, the Emancipation Proclamation certainly made more clear that the federal government was an abolitionist one, and in that sense, they were fighting for the goals of their government. But some had suspected that from the beginning, and others, like some of the Kentuckians or Marylanders, perhaps thought or hoped that slavery could continue among loyal citizens, so the change in mindset is hard to define as specifically as a legal change.

Legally, the months after the EP was announced and before it went into effect Jan. 1 was probably the one time Union soldiers were fighting most explicitly for slavery. Any slaves in areas that they could get to surrender during that time would remain legally slaves after Jan. 1.
Except that everyone, north and south, knew that after the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery was completely finished everywhere if the Union prevailed. In Maryland, for instance, slavery was done in 1864, before the end of the war. The places not affected by the EP had very few slaves, relatively speaking.
 

ole

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I prefer, Ole, to think of it as hyperbole. My point is that things aren't as cut and dried that it was proslavery vs. anti-slavery. While slavery was at the core of the dispute, it was not kind the end all and be all of the war.
I see what you're saying, CM. There was more to it but, at the bottom of the barrel, was the desire for the slavocracy to have a country of their own wherein they could have their own aristocracy with slavery and cotton as the economic base.

In that sense, it wasn't slavery so much as it was the elite wanting their own way -- and out of a government they had come to disapprove of.
 


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