Online Work

Online Etymology Dictionary
The Sciolist
Slavery in the North
Civil War Writing

Civil War Causes

It's often said that the American Civil War was entirely and only about slavery. Is there another view?

Yankee Canards
Was the ante-bellum South a primitive, backwards, illiterate, violent culture?

Numbers and significance of the Southern mulatto population

Northern Racism
De Tocqueville observed that "race prejudice seems stronger in those states that have abolished slavery than in those where it still exists, and nowhere is it more intolerant than in those states where slavery was never known"

Slavery as History
How can you make an honest inquiry into American slavery without understanding the mindset of slave-owners? How can you do that without being yourself a racist?

Rebel View
Early 19th century American politics and political culture as it was seen by many Southerners

Abraham Lincoln was perhaps the greatest writer in American political history. Writers are great, in part, because of their ability to disguise what they really intend.

Lincoln and Race
"You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races."

Thaddeus Stevens
The life and times of Pennsylvania's fiery anti-Southern Congressman

Sidelights on Christiana
The Christiana Riot of 1851 is sometimes described at the first skirmish of the Civil War

1860 Election
Even if all the Democrats had united behind one candidate, the Northern regional ticket would have won

The wire-pulling over the Morrill tariff bill in 1860 showed the party of the abolitionists cynically using a legitimate government mechanism to gain power in a presidential election.

Legal Issues
Secession was legal under the Constitution, based on its ratification by the states in 1787 and 1788

Cornerstone Speech
Alexander Stephens "Cornerstone Speech" in context.

Upper South
"States rights" is dismissed as a red herring argument, yet the Upper South states seem to have left the Union for this reason.

What Cost Union?
Lincoln saved the union, but at a terrible cost to America's democracy and culture of freedom.


Up from History
The evolving historical view of the American Civil War.

Soldiers and War
Responding to the slander against Southern military effort.

Why the South Lost
Was Northern victory inevitable?

War Effort
The South put forth a tremendous effort for independence.

The Southern Press
Journalism and Southern civil liberties.

An examination of the myth of massive Southern desertion.

A Closer Look
Desertion by the numbers; case studies North and South.

Ella Lonn
The original study of desertion in the Civil War.

Southern conscription was the first attempt to create a modern military system.

Draft of 1862
An overlooked draft in the North that was underway almost simultaneously with the first rebel conscription.

Albert B. Moore
An important source for the "South against the South" thesis.

The Lincoln Administration's crackdown on Maryland.

Occupied Maryland
A sampling of federal documents dealing with martial law in Maryland.

Maryland Peace Party
A pamphlet from the anti-government forces in Maryland.

Habeas Corpus
The suspension of Habeas Corpus in the North by the Lincoln administration during the war.

A Northern newspaper editor fights the administration after it closes down his press in response to anti-government articles.

"Keystone Confederates"
Some Pennsylvanians fought for the South during the Civil War.


Southern Populists
"You are deceived and blinded that you may not see how this race antagonism perpetuates a monetary system which beggars you both."

Coatesville Lynching
Zach Walker was burned alive by a white mob in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

York Riots
A little-known but violent 1960s race riot in York, Pennsylvania.

New South
Slavery, racism, and segregation were national experiences.

New Lost Cause
A native-born Southern white woman worked with native-born Southerners, black and white, with a shared sense of decency, to accomplishing the work of desegregation in Mississippi.

Flag dispute
From 1879 to 1956, the Georgia state flag was essentially the "Stars and Bars." If you were going to link any state flag with slavery, that would be the one.

Jonathan Kozol
"So two-tenths of 1 percent marks the difference between legally enforced apartheid in the South 50 years ago, and socially and economically enforced apartheid in New York today"


sources consulted


[exerpts from OR Series 2, vol. 1, part 1, p.563 ff., under the section heading UNION POLICY OF REPRESSION IN MARYLAND]

BALTIMORE, April 19, 1861.



Under these circumstances it is my solemn duty to inform you that it is not possible for more soldiers to pass through Baltimore unless they fight their way at every step.


[Gov. Hicks attached his endorsement]

PHILADELPHIA, April 23, 1861.

Honorable SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War:

DEAR SIR: Since I wrote my last of this date I have been informed that the Baltimoreans and Marylanders have destroyed the whole of the bridges on the Northern Central. This seems to have been a mere spite action and must convince the Government that those loyal to the Government in Maryland are in a vast minority. As soon as the capital is safe from attack it seems to me that the Government should at once turn on Baltimore and place it under martial law and require that it should pay all damages to the railroads it has destroyed and to their business.

Yours, truly,
President Pennsylvania Central Railroad.

BALTIMORE, July 1, 1861.

Lieutenant-General SCOTT:

The board of police was arrested this morning at 4 o'clock. Troops have been stationed at the principal squares of the city. All is perfectly quiet. We greatly need cavalry for patrol duty.


FORT McHENRY, August 25, 1861.

... I have adopted stringent measures to secure quiet but they are so ordered as to attract no notice. The regiments are well drilled to street-firing and in half an hour I can have 1,000 men in any part of the city; in forty minutes five times that number. ...


FORT McHENRY, August 31, 1861.

Honorable M. BLAIR.

In regard to the "Exchange" and other secessionist presses in that city. I presume you are not aware that an order for the suppression of these presses was made out in one of the Departments of Washington. ... I think a measure of so much gravity as the suppression of a newspaper by military force should carry with it the whole weight of the influence and authority of the Government especially when the publication is made almost under its eye.

There is no doubt that a majority of the Union men in Baltimore desire the suppression of all the oppsition presses in the city but there are many -- and among them some of the most discreet -- who think differently. The city is now very quiet and under control though my force is smaller than I asked. There is a good deal of impatience among some of the Union men. They wish to have something done. The feeling is very much like that which prevailed in Washington before the movement against Manassas. It would not be difficult to get up a political Bull Run disaster in this State.

If the Government will give me the number of regiments I ask and leave them with me when I have trained them to the special service they may have to peform I will respond for the quietude of this city. Should the time for action come I shall be ready. In the meantime preparation is going on.

I am fortifying Federal Hill under a general plan of defense suggested by me and approved by General Scott. Two other works will be commanded the moment I can get an engineer from Washington. On the Eastern Shore there should be prompt and decisive action. I have urged it repeatedly and earnestly during the last three weeks. Two well-disciplined regiments should march from Salisbury, the southern teminus of the Wilmington and Delaware Railroad, through Accomack and Northampton Counties and break up the rebel camps before they ripen into formidable organizations as they assuredly will if they are much longer undisturbed. ...


Reffered to General McClellan. I believe the "Exchange," "Republican" and "South" should be suppressed. They are open disunionists. The "Sun" is in sympathy but less diabolical.

Baltimore, Md., September 4, 1861.


No secession flag has to the knowledge of the police been exhibited in Baltimore for many weeks, except a small paper flag displayed by a child from an upper window. It was immediately removed by [the police]. They have been instructed to arrest any person who makes a public demonstration by word or deed in favor of the Confederate Government and I have prohibited the exhibition in shop windows of rebel envelopes and music.


If there is an uprising on the Eastern Shore under the influence of the rebel organizations in Accomack and Northampton, or if the Confederate forces cross the Potomac we may have trouble. I shall endeavor to be ready for it whenever it comes.


Baltimore, Md., September 5, 1861.


Fort McHenry which has not sufficient space for the convenient accommodation of the number of men necessary to man its guns is crowded with prisoners. ... It is too near the seat of war which may possibly be extended to us. It is also too near a great town in which there are multitudes who sympathize with them who are constantly applying for interviews and who must be admitted with the hazard of becoming the media of improper communications, or who go away with the feeling that they have been harshly treated because they have been denied access to their friends.

... If as is supposed Fort Lafayette is crowded may they not be provided for at Fort Delaware? ... I certainly do not think them perfectly safe here considering the population by which they are surrounded and the opportunities for evading the vigilance of their guards.

BALTIMORE, September 15, 1861.
Honorable W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

DEAR GOVERNOR: I thank you in the name of every truley loyal man in Baltimore and in my own poor name too for your arrest of the traitors whom you have sent to Fortress Monroe. A great and a good work has been done. Rebellion has received a staggering blow. I hope General Banks will take care that the Legislature shall not sit at all. There are thin-skinned Union men enough who will seek to get a quorum for the sake of the $4 a day. General Kimmel is one of them. He told me a day or two ago he wanted to have a chance to pass his foolish resolutions. I bade him take up his musket rather and go to the field.

The arrest of W. Wilkins Glenn, the proprietor of the "Exchange," has given intense satisfaction. Beale Richardson and his writing editor Joice, of the "Republican," are very violent and would grace the Tortugas. If the exchange should go on a Doctor Palmer and a William H. Carpenter are the ostensible editors, and both write with bitterness. They too would do well at Tortugas.

A Mr. Hodges here told me last evening that any amount of money could be raised to continue the "Exchange," but said he, "What's the use? We can't get it through the mails." I still think they will try to keep it up just for a vent of their spleen and sinister designs.

Our provost-marshal, Mr. Dodge, whom I have just left, is anxious to have it bought up by the Union men but that's impossible. It is in debt some $40,000 and would be worth nothing to the Union cause because all its supporters are rebels who would instantly withdraw. My own judgment is that it should be suppressed out and out if it is continued.

The "South" [newspaper] has stopped after trying to get up a Polignac revolution. May's arrest has caused infinite pleasure because of his hypocrisy and malignancy. The effect of these arrests must determine very rapidly the status of the floating population who are ever on the watch for the stronger side. I have already heard of cases in our favor.

We are determined to prevent any rebel voting if he will not take the oath of allegiance. It is to be done by a system of challenging. The new mayor has already surrendered the pistols retained by the old police and evinces a reaidness to co-operate with the Federal authorities. His name is Blackburn. It is intimated that General Howard has taken the hint and will not accept the rebel nomination for Governor. If he does he should be sent at once to Fortress Monroe, and so too of Jarrett, the rebel nominee for comptroller.

I hope the Government will not release a single one of these prisoners let the circumstances be what they may. The effect upon the public mind depends largely upon firmness at this juncture.

Faithfully, yours,

Baltimore, Md., September 20, 1861.

Captain BRAGG,
Second Regiment Maryland Volunteers.

SIR: I do not wish any searches made in private dwellings by the military. I prefer it should be done by the police. You have very properly reported to me the case of Doctor Henkle and I shall put it in the hands of the provost-marshal in Baltimore. I do not wish any persons to be stopped who have shotguns and who are evidently going on sporting excursions. They should not be detained or interfered with in any way. Your duty is to examine vihicles passing out of the city of Baltimore and suspected of having concealed arms or goods destinated to the disloyal States.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major-General, Commanding.

BALTIMORE, September 23, 1861.

MY DEAR JOHNSON: My belief is that the peace convention is defunct. Still I have taken measures to have them watched and will inform you promptly of any movement by them.

Sincerely yours,

BALTIMORE, September 25, 1861.

MY DEAR JOHNSON: * * * In regard to the peace convention I still think it defunct; but it will be well not to be thrown off our guard and if there should be any indications of its revival I shall be informed of it. From present appearances there will be no opposition to the Union tickets either in this city or county. Much will depend, however, upon the turn of events. If the rebels should lick us or obtain any decided advantage over us the rebel sentiment here will revive. Otherwise it will remain cowed as it is now. I do not think it would be wise to cease making arrests entirely. Some evidence that the power is with the Government should be kept before the eyes of the discontented few. It has a most salutary effect.

Yours, truly,

Baltimore, Md., October 10, 1861.


SIR: I have carefully examined the papers in the case of Dr. A. C. Robinson and have some doubt about the expediency of allowing him to return to Baltimore until after the fall election -- say the 10th of November. He has been a very violent secessionist, and even through he should take the oath of allegiance and abstain from any act of hostility to the Government he would not consider himself precluded from a participation in the proceedings of his party in support of the peace ticket. He is not a dangerous man like Wallis but I would rather have him away from Baltimore for the next three weeks at least.

It looks very much as though we should carry out ticket without any organized opposition. I am confident at all events that Maryland will be a Union State in November. Until then I think it would be wise to let those who have been active against the Government and have influence remain out of the State if they are not in it now. It is understood that Doctor Robinson is in Richmond at this time though he may be nearer home. If you will allow me to suggest a course in regard to his friends seeking his release it would be not to discourage them but to hold out the expectation that he will be permitted to return shortly on taking the oath of allegiance, and it ought not to be less than the one prescribed by Congress.

NEW YORK, October 11, 1861.


MY DEAR SIR: The result of the election in Baltimore proves the wisdom of the action of the Government in having the prominent traitors arrested. Even the secessionists in Western Maryland are reconciled and even approve it for they dread civil war within the State.

At the same time, however, I learn from a very reliable source in Allegany County that a secret movement is on foot by the peace party, i.e., secessionists in disguise[,] to nominate an opposition ticket; and for the purpose of defeating the Union ticket the commissioners, nearly all secessionists, have lately had a meeting and appointed the rankest secessionists as judges of election.

I mention the name of one so appointed for Cumberland, W. O. Sprigg, well known as a rabid secessionist, having a son in the rebel army. Amongst the opponents of the Government the foremost in Allegany County are Judge Perry and Doctor Fitzpatrick. The former appointed young Brien, now an officer in the rebel ranks, foreman of the grand jury and permitted him to come into court with a large secession badge on his breast. I mention this fact as a glaring instance of his proclivities.

He and his Confederates[,] Doctor Fitzpatrick, W. O. Sprigg (who I believe has also a son in the rebel ranks) and if I mistake not Devecmon, the lawyer, are the head and front of the secret movement now going on. They are in constant communication with the rebels in Virginia and are doing all the mischief they can. Now it seems to me these people should for a while be placed where they can do no harm. If the Government could be made aware of the state of things I think they should give these gentlemen free quarters at Fort McHenry or Fort Lafayette from now until after the election.

The quiet and safety of the State of Maryland would be promoted by such a proceeding and an election result obtained which could not but have a most beneficial effect upon the whole country.



Washington, October 29, 1861.

Major General N. P. BANKS,
Commanding Division, Muddy Branch, Md.

GENERAL: There is an apprehension among Union citizens in many parts of Maryland of an attempt at interference with their rights of suffrage by disunion citizens on the occasion of the election to take place on the 6th of November next.

In order to prevent this the major-general commanding directs that you send detachments of a sufficient number of men to the different points in your vicinity where the elections are to be held to protect the Union voters and to see that no disunionists are allowed to intimidate them or in any way to interfere with their rights.

He also desires you to arrest and hold in confinement till after the election all disunionists who are known to have returned from Virginia recently and who show themselves at the polls, and to guard effectually against any invasion of the peace and order of the election. For the purpose of carrying out these instructions you are authorized to suspend the habeas corpus. General Stone has received similar instructions to these. You will please confer with him as to the particular points that each shall take the control of.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Chief of Staff.

[Lincoln, in a July 1861 speech to Congress, had complained that Confederate elections, "where the bayonets are all on one side of the question voted upon, can scarcely be considered as demonstrating popular sentiment."]

Baltimore, Md., November 1, 1861.

Inspectors of Election, New Windsor.


I consider it of the utmost importance that the election should be a fair one and that there should be no obstruction to the free and full expression of the voice of the people of the State believing as I do that it will be decidedly in favor of the Union. But it is in the power of the judges of election under the authority given them to satisfy themselves as to the qualifications of the voters -- to put to those who offer to poll such searching questions in regard to residence and citizenship as to detect traitors and without any violation of the constitution or laws of Maryland to prevent the pollution of the ballot boxes by their votes.

[Substance of a memoranda of an order issued by Major Andrews, of the Second Delaware Volunteers, to Captain Moorehouse of the said regiment, under which order Mr. E. K. Wilson, of Snow Hill, Worcester County, was arrested.] "The memoranda states in substance that -- All persons who have lately uttered expressions of hostility to the Government or have spoken disrespectfully of the President of the United States are to be arrested and detained in camp."

[Dix corrected the military officer]: "Our mission is not to annoy or invade any personal rights but to correct misapprehension in regard to the intentions of the Government."

Washington, November 26, 1861.

SEWARD to JOHN S. KEYES, Esq., U. S. Marshal, Boston, Mass.


You will ... please inform all the prisoners confined at Fort Warren that this Department will not recognize any person as an attorney in such cases, and that if the fact comes to the knowledge of the Department that any prisoner has agreed to pay to any attorney a sum of money or to give to him anything of value as a consideration for interceding for the release of such prisoner that fact will be held as an additional reason for continuing the confinement of such person. You will also please say to the prisoners that it is the wish of the Government that they should communicate whatever they may have to say directly to this Department.

2002Douglas Harper "When misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood." -Lionel Trilling