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A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights… Napoleon Bonaparte

The following illustration epitomizes the propaganda efforts of the union sympathizers during the war. Unfortunately Neely’s book is not much more than an extension of the propaganda although he has been sanctified by anointing by the victor’s press. Even that can not make his book worthwhile.

Our series of views, illustrating the barbarities of the Confederates in Texas, are from sketches by Mr. Frederick Sumner, himself a victim of their cruelty and oppression. Mr. Sumner was a leader among the union men at Sherman, Grayson County, and when the troubles began these braveloyal men defied the secessionists and kept a fine Americanflag, presented by Mr. Sumner, floating over their Court House. After the war opened the case of the Union men began to growdesperate. Twiggs had betrayed the United States troops intothe hands of the Confederates, and but little hope remained ofimmediate help from the government. The murder of Mrs. Hillier showed them what was coming. Her husband had been brought before the Vigilance Committee of Clark County, and ordered to enlist or prepare to be hung; but though he submitted, an incautious word of his wife led to her arrest. Six of the Vigilance Committee, dressed in women's clothes, went to her house, dragged her out to the nearest tree and, regardless of her cries for mercy and deaf to the pleadings of her children, hung her. The individual vignettes (clockwise from upper left) have keyed titles below: the hanging of Mrs. Hillier by men in disguise; (large central scene) the hanging of thirty Union men; bringing in Union men; hanging and flogging; prison in Little Rock; (across the bottom) cages of Little Rock Penitentiary; and "the stocks." The central scene, the hanging of thirty Union prisoners, appears in the smoke of torches which appear at bottom center, bound together with whips, chains, and other instruments of torture. The print probably appeared in the spring of 1864, since the Library's impression was deposited for copyright on April 25. The title on this impression is in letterpress on a pasted-on label. The print was also published under the title "Confederate Barbarities in Texas.

Our series of views, illustrating the barbarities of the Confederates in Texas, are from sketches by Mr. Frederick Sumner, himself a victim of their cruelty and oppression. Mr. Sumner was a leader among the union men at Sherman, Grayson County, and when the troubles began these brave loyal men defied the secessionists and kept a fine American flag, presented by Mr. Sumner, floating over their Court House. After the war opened the case of the Union men began to grow desperate. Twiggs had betrayed the United States troops into the hands of the Confederates, and but little hope remained of immediate help from the government. The murder of Mrs. Hillier showed them what was coming. Her husband had been brought before the Vigilance Committee of Clark County, and ordered to enlist or prepare to be hung; but though he submitted, an incautious word of his wife led to her arrest. Six of the Vigilance Committee, dressed in women’s clothes, went to her house, dragged her out to the nearest tree and, regardless of her cries for mercy and deaf to the pleadings of her children, hung her. The individual vignettes (clockwise from upper left) have keyed titles below: the hanging of Mrs. Hillier by men in disguise; (large central scene) the hanging of thirty Union men; bringing in Union men; hanging and flogging; prison in Little Rock; (across the bottom) cages of Little Rock Penitentiary; and “the stocks.” The central scene, the hanging of thirty Union prisoners, appears in the smoke of torches which appear at bottom center, bound together with whips, chains, and other instruments of torture. The print probably appeared in the spring of 1864, since the Library’s impression was deposited for copyright on April 25. The title on this impression is in letterpress on a pasted-on label. The print was also published under the title “Confederate Barbarities in Texas.

Just as the Southern governors would send their militias to fight under a unified command the citizens of the South would meet the deprivations of a starvation blockade and the paranoia of an atmosphere of quislings and fifth columnists by sacrificing their most cherished rights to the need to repel the invaders and be allowed to continue the lives that so many families had sacrificed so much for in the first revolution in peace. This book isolates on hard cases that as the axiom goes make bad law and its author may be the darling of the Lincolnian’s but that doesn’t make him right.

The War in America: Union troops attacking Confederate prisoners in the streets of Washington

The War in America: Union troops attacking Confederate prisoners in the streets of Washington

The States in the South all had functioning court systems at the onset of hostilities with the north. The challenges of mobilization, war and invasion affected the administration of justice in the states, but, to the credit of the judiciary, especially on the trial level, there was a fine effort to continue the normal judicial process until Federal invasion finally disrupted the functioning of the organs of the state and local government. That invasion, in addition to the imposition of martial law by union troops, combined to at first slow, and then finally stop the operation of the courts on all levels. There is not ONE paragraph in this book that mentions the destruction of functioning state courts by the union victory or the prevalence of martial law in the twelve years following the cessation of hostilities in the occupied states.

Union prisoners at Salisbury, N.C. / drawn from nature by Act. Major Otto Boetticher ; lith. of Sarony, Major & Knapp, 449 Broadway, N. York.

Union prisoners at Salisbury, N.C. / drawn from nature by Act. Major Otto Boetticher ; lith. of Sarony, Major & Knapp, 449 Broadway, N. York.

Southern rights : political prisoners and the myth of Confederate constitutionalism  Mark E. Neely, Jr.  Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, 1999  Hardcover. vii, 212 p. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 175-204) and indexes. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Inflation. The money crisis in the Southern states during the American Civil War. Auction of a 25 gold piece at Danville, Virginia. From a sketch by a Union prisoner which appeared in Frank Leslie's Weekly of February 13, 1864

Inflation. The money crisis in the Southern states during the American Civil War. Auction of a 25 gold piece at Danville, Virginia. From a sketch by a Union prisoner which appeared in Frank Leslie’s Weekly of February 13, 1864

On the day Fort Sumter surrendered to Confederate authorities, General Braxton Bragg reacted to a newspaper report that might have revealed the position of gun emplacements by placing the correspondent, a union sympathizer, under arrest. During the civil war that followed, not a day would pass when Confederate military prisons did not contain political prisoners although never the nature or scope of Lincoln’s which saw everyone from congressmen to ministers locked away.

 Print shows exchanged Union prisoners of war walking to the steamboat "New York" waiting at Aiken's Landing, South Carolina.

Print shows exchanged Union prisoners of war walking to the steamboat “New York” waiting at Aiken’s Landing, South Carolina.

Based on the reconstruction of records of some of these prisoners  Neely’s  book seeks to undermine the understanding that Jefferson Davis and the Confederates were scrupulous in their respect for rights of citizens while ignoring how flagrantly Lincoln and the unionists regularly violated the rights of dissenters. Neely reveals the repression of spies and saboteurs claiming that it was evidence that Southerners were ready to give up civil liberties in response to the real threats of a foreign invasion – a choice not given mere dissidents in the north.

Serving out rations to our exchanged prisoners on board the "New York" / sketched by William Waud.

Serving out rations to our exchanged prisoners on board the “New York” / sketched by William Waud.

From the onset of hostilities communities from Selma to Lynchburg begged the Richmond government to impose martial law. Southern citizens resigned themselves to a passport system for domestic travel similar to the system of passes imposed on enslaved and free blacks before the war. These restrictive measures made commerce difficult and when one Virginian complained the Davis administration countered that the passport system was essential. Most Southerners accepted the passports as a necessary inconvenience and that the necessities of wartime mobilization had – temporarily – changed their government from a state’s rights confederacy to a powerful centralized authority.

The Union prisoners at Richmond, Virginia

The Union prisoners at Richmond, Virginia

After the war the records of men imprisoned by this authority were lost. Their partial reconstruction and interpretation by this historian seeks to explode one of the remaining myths of Lost Cause historiography and reveal Jefferson Davis as a calculated manipulator of the symbols of liberty. It fails both on the evidence presented and in a total lack of context.

Prisoner's occupation

Prisoner’s occupation
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