The World Today

The World Today
Earth in 2013

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sons of the Confederacy

Not all veterans’ organizations in the South were filled with violent terrorists. One of the more legitimate and widespread organizations was called the Veterans of Confederate Wars. As the Confederate States participated in only one major war, their ranks were almost all Great War veterans. A few cavalrymen past their prime in 1913 were allowed to join. These old Indian fighters not only lent more legitimacy to the organization; they also brought with them new tales of warfare. Granted, none of them faced the meat-grinder of trench warfare but fighting on the old frontier was no less gruesome.
VCW also acted as a support structure, allowing soldiers to find jobs for their comrades and for the group as a whole to aid war widows and orphans. In the first winter following the war, the VCW was essential for staving off a potential famine. While small farmers were in no danger of starving, the people of the cities, who depended upon food harvested by slave labor, found the winter of 1916-17 to be hungry times. They were also cold times in the Upper South as not only was the limited electrical grid destroyed, there was also a chronic shortage of coal. Again, the VCW helped the needy.
Despite its obvious charity work, it still drew the suspicious eyes of the occupation authority. Anything with the word Confederate in its title was strongly discouraged. Most such organization were less than charitable. Of the numerous paramilitary organizations to sprout during Reconstruction, none were as destructive as the Sons of the Confederacy. This organization was founded by unreconciled veterans, chief among them the Georgian Earl Watson and Texan Leopold B. Jamison III. Their goal was not to aid the impoverished.

Their first appearance was recorded on April 15, 1918, when three hooded figures strode into a newly establish United States post office in Macon, Georgia and opened fire, killing seven. Of these, only one was a federal employee. The others were Georgians trying to ship packages. To the SOC, anyone using the federal government were collaborators.
Their favorite target were soldiers, Freedmen and the Bureau tasked with aiding them. In June 1918, fifty of the SOC engaged in a firefights with the US Army as it enforced the illegality of slavery. Taking down the plantation owners was an easy enough task. Their wealthy and large estates made them highly visible targets. The small farmer, the type that might own between three and seven slaves was another matter. Even two years after the way, not all of the backwoods farmers were tracked down and few of them voluntarily relinquished their property.
The SOC often came to the aid of these small slave owners, garnering great support among them though they fought a losing battle. Paramilitary with rifles and submachine guns were hardly a match for armored vehicles and soldiers angry of being posted so far from home after the war was supposedly over. The problem was most severe in Mississippi and Alabama. The June 1918 move to clean Lawrence county, Alabama saw more than a dozen such firefights on small farms. In only three of these attempts did the SOC have any success, temporarily driving back soldiers who were unprepared for a fight. As the month ground onwards, ambushes became less frequent and the Sons switched to softer targets.

They received little attention from Northern press as there were a great number of such groups dedicated to making restoration as difficult and costly as possible. In fact, few took them as a serious threat until August 1918, when they successfully bombed the Freedman’s Bureau in Selma Alabama. Sixty-four people were killed in the bombing, including Black civilians fleeing the burning building. Selma’s fire department refused to extinguish the flames, though if this was from support of the SOC or fear that they might be gunned down has not been established. The following day, soldiers searching the ruins found a message scrawl on a still standing wall. It read simply “the South shall rise again”.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rebels without a Cause

At the start of 1917, the war had been over for months. It appeared to the people of the North Carolina back country that some Confederate soldiers simply had not received the memo. Chief among these rebels was on Major Tom McPherson of the 102nd North Carolina, who took control of a regiment of the division and led it into the wilderness. From the Appalachians, his regiment raided towns and ambushed Union patrols. He caused so much trouble in 1917, that White Water ordered the entire XIII Corps to the region to deal with the problem.

The story of hunting down McPherson was retold time and again, its most famous incarnation being the 1956 movie Rebel without a Cause, staring actor and future President James Dean. If one believed the movie, the violence in North Carolina ended with the death of McPherson and the surrendering of his regiment on October 14, 1917–or rather most of the regiment. Not all surrendered. Squad and platoon sized elements escaped to continue the fighting.

Instead of attacking directly, they struck from the shadow, ambushing small patrols, robbing banks and trains and murdering off-duty soldiers. The problem grew so intense in the city of Winston, North Carolina that the commander of XIII Corps asked permission to take hostages in the city. White Water rejected the request, saying it had no worked for the Germans and it would not work here. Executing civilians at random would only drive civilians into the resistance. That was part of the holdout’s plans, one that never came to fruition. Southern civilians might not like the Yankee but they remained war weary after years of a losing war.

In Charlotte, renegades preyed on the occupation force, murderer soldiers off duty throughout the city, as well as killing any civilians viewed as ‘too close’ to the Yankees. By June 1917, it was unadvised for any soldiers to be out on the street in less than squadron strength, with platoon-sized patrols a regular feature in the city. Again, the random murders sparked a request for taking of hostages and again the request was denied. However, to allow the soldiers freer reign, Charolette was declared a city under siege. While under siege, the defenders of a city can take any actions they deem necessary, though hostage taking was explicitly forbidden.

Nonviolent, or rather no casualties attacks were also launched against facilities that aided the occupiers. In October 1917, renegades sabotaged one of US Steel’s newly acquired steel mills in Asheville. Attempts to organize the steel workers failed, at least attempts by the rebels. The Labor Party and its supporters would prove more successful in the following decades. Many Southerners, especially veterans, were so pleased to have any source of income that they dared not risk it. Without a paycheck, they could not care for their families, a consideration that does not apply to the largely single men of the resistance.

The organized military resistance in North Carolina ended in February 1919, when the last of the renegades were declared killed by XIII Corps. In truth, they killed only the last fighting soldier. Many other soldiers in the renegade regiment deserted, returning to their families after years from home. Others cast off their uniforms and continued the struggle in a different guise.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Recon. part 4

Redistribution of Wealth
To break the power of the Southern elite, the Roosevelt administration designed a two-prong attack. First, the plantations and land holdings of all slave owners (i.e. the wealthy who ruled the former Confederate States) was confiscated without compensation. Afterwards, the slave were freed and the land divided among several groups of people. The first choice to prime land was rewarded to veterans of the United States Army, or in the case of Cuba the United States Marine Corps. The parceling of land to veterans not only rewarded them for years of service but it also placed a very loyal demographic into the heart of the Deep South.

The second group to be rewarded land were the former slaves. In effect, those who worked the land now owned it. Parcels of land ranging from forty to one hundred sixty acres were rewarded to each slave family, depending on the number of dependents. The plots were smaller than those granted to veterans but equal to the size of the land granted to the third group; poor Southern Whites. This was simply buying the loyalty of the previously disposed poor voters of the Confederacy.  It turned out to be a poor political tactic as most of Southern Whites voted for the Democratic Party once elections were restored.

The final party happens to be the most controversial at the time. Roosevelt and the Progressive Party decided to extend the offer to the Five Civilized Tribes. The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole once lived in the Deep South. In April 1917, after safely re-elected, Roosevelt pushed for the repeal of the Indian Removal Act. It was strictly a symbolic act as United States law allowed Indians to live wherever they chose.
The Democratic and Republican Parties openly accused the Progressive of ‘stacking the electoral deck’ in the Deep South. The Labor Party made similar protests, though partly because they were unable to employ the tactic. Nonetheless, more than twenty thousand families with ancestral ties to the Five Tribes departed Oklahoma to take their forty or one hundred sixty acres of prime Georgia, Florida or Alabama land.
All this redistribution left the former plantation owners penniless and homeless, which was precisely what Roosevelt had intended. The punishment of the Southern aristocracy was more popular than what some viewed as socialist redistribution of wealth in more conservative and reactionary circles. A great many of the disposed left North America altogether, with more than half choosing Brazil as a place to begin a new, with another thirty percent opting for South Africa. The diaspora was not intended but nor did anyone in Washington try to stop it.

The States themselves were also wealthy land-owners. Unlike the Union, where politics and economics tend to be separate, the Confederate States partook in state capitalism. The individual States owned industries, and often monopolies within their borders. For the most part, these businesses were industrial in nature, such as munitions plants, foundries, shipyards and other strategically vital industries.

In the case of Cuba, the State owned a monopoly on liquor distribution (though manufacturing of alcohol was privately owned). The state-controlled rum industry was caused not by strategic necessity but for political reasons. The temperance movement was big in the Confederate States, with the Deep South (with the exception of Louisiana) outlawing the selling, manufacturing and transportation of alcohol within their borders. As Cuba was the largest producer of alcohol in the C.S.A., it was necessary for the State to control its flow as to not have it end up in Florida or Mississippi.

Starting in 1917, the Federal Government began to privatize the state-owned businesses. Unlike land redistribution, privatization was a process rife with corruption. In a repeat of the 19th Century spoils system, businesses were turned over to political favorites. The Southern arms industry was quickly partitioned between the largest weapons manufacturers in the United States, with Colt and Remington reaping the biggest rewards. The Norfolk Shipyards ended up in the pocket of U.S. Steel while notorious privateer Joseph Kennedy used his influence to gain control of Cuba’s liquor distribution network.
Kennedy was viewed as somewhat of a war hero in New England. The wealthy man purchased an old destroyer in 1913, a three-stacked, three hundred ten tonne ship. Kennedy, as well as a number of other wealthy adventurers, managed to convince Congress to grant them Letters of Marque. In 1856, European powers signed the Paris Declaration which outlawed privateering. To Britain, Kennedy and the like were little more than pirates and would hang if ever captured. As the United States and the Confederate States were not signatories to the agreement, privateering was still a legal activity by the time of the Great War.
Kennedy captured several Confederate and British freighters, hauling their prizes back to Boston to the cheers of the crowds. Kennedy, though he hated the British, focused mostly on Confederate commerce. They were softer targets and the Confederate Navy would view a privateer more as an enemy combatant and not an outright pirate. Confederate privateers preyed upon Union shipping throughout the war. Kennedy’s biggest success was in a duel with the Confederate raider Chicken Hawk. In a two hour duel, his ship crippled the Hawk, forcing the ship to surrender at a great cost to his own crew. Kennedy himself received wounds in the battle when pieces of shrapnel ricocheted around the bridge, scarring his face for life.

The business men swooped down on the South like a flock of vultures. The Southern press, once restored, labeled these Northerners Vulture Capitalists. Southern workers lost jobs as the new owners either fired them and replaced them with more politically reliable employees or sold off their grant for scrap, making themselves that much wealthier. The military governors in the South tried to stem the corruption as the rise of Southern unemployment was a cause of tensions. Generals argued that employed civilians were less likely to cause trouble. Unemployed civilians had nothing better to do with their time and tended to gravitate towards anti-restoration groups.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Recon- part 3

Reconstructed Governments
As per the terms of their surrender, be it individual State or Confederate Congress, the civilian government within the State was suspended and placed under military occupation. Each of the generals commanding the occupation sectors appointed a general to be military-governor of the reconstructed State. In order to assure a smooth transition back into the Union and a loyal government, each of the generals and their staff were given authority over who could and could not be in the new civilian governments.
The first to be reformed were the individual towns and counties. They seldom had much interference from military rule, save to bare certain individuals from public office. At the top of the list was everyone in the Confederate bureaucracy, both national and State level. Given the lack of skilled people able to take up running the States during the era, these restrictions were soon limited to the higher echelons of either tier of government.
Those in the lower tiers were forced to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States before they could even obtain permission to run for office of apply for employment with the elected official’s department. During the first few years of Reconstruction the number of Southerners attempting to obtain permission was small and primarily at the local level. At State level, seeking permission and swear allegiance to the United States was seen simply as collaborating with the Yankee. Few took the risk.
One who did was Colonel Christopher Fuller of the 77th Cuba Infantry. He fought against United States Marines in his home State for years and swore to his dying day that had the order been given, he would have fought them until his dying day. For too many of his comrades, such a proclamation turned out to be true, though their deaths were not at ripe old ages. Cuba, despite its large slave population in the 1860s, was always a rather reluctant member of the Confederate States. 
Its succession convention was held by a handful of mostly self-appointed delegates who represented only the Anglo plantation owning elite. The Spanish plantation owners were divided on the issue and the Mestizo and Freedmen ranchers and small farmers, along with small White land holders were against succession. Many of the Whites took the Union up on the peace terms and resettled in the United States, primarily in Kentucky and Costa Rica.

Fuller was born in Jacksonville into the Anglo elite, though he took a Spanish wife and lived in strongly Catholic Santiago. His home was the first major Confederate city to fall to the Union when it, along with Guantanamo, were targets of the late 1914 invasion. He nor his wife owned any slaves and thus their home was spared the torch, though Marines did help themselves to its wine cellar.
Cuba had always been the oddball of the Confederate States. Its demographic made it the most liberal State, more so than Louisiana. It also was one of great contrasts. It retained slavery in the agricultural and tourist industries yet had the most liberal laws concerning freedmen. Free Blacks were allowed to own property, theoretically including slaves though few were known to have taken advantage of it. Though the land-owning Whites, Anglo and Spanish, dominated politics and government, there was a great deal of legal equality among the races. Enough so that Roosevelt once referred to it as the most egalitarian of the Confederate States.
This attitude would aid it greatly in returning to the Union as an equal among States. Fuller knew there was little point in resisting reunion and believed his fellow Cubans should put the past behind them and move forward. In order to run for office, he was forced to take the oath of allegiance, a process that he said afterwards left a worst taste in his mouth than the cheapest of gin. He was also limited to what political affiliation he could chose from the select granted to him by the USMC Governor-General, that being the four political parties of the Union.
Even after more than fifty years, no self-respecting Southerner would join the Republicans, the party of Lincoln. He also viewed the Labor Party as a thinly veiled platform for socialism. He respected the Progressive Party, for it was the party of Roosevelt and the party that defeated the C.S.A.. Because of the latter, he stayed away. This left him with the Democratic Party, which he found ironic. The US and CS both had their own native Democratic Parties and both followed similar ideologies.
His choice was more than for personal preference. Another similarity between the two government was that one candidate from each party was allowed to run for any given office. As a registered Democrat, Fuller was guaranteed election for the governorship as well as Congressional Representative and possibly Senator, depending on the make up of the State Assembly and that in turn would depend on how many of the recently freed slaves were allowed to vote. Black men had the franchise in the United States, mainly because they comprised less than three percent of eligible voters. Close to thirty percent of Cuba’s population was Black, making the political dynamics far different.
When he ran for office in 1924, when Cuba was declared reconstructed, handily winning a seat in the State Assembly for his district. From there, he continued to preach reconciliation as a veteran of the Confederate Army and as a citizen of the United States. He also fought against the corruption growing in Cuba both from organized crime and from vulture capitalists, with one of his greatest political enemies becoming the former Union privateer Joseph Kennedy, who used his political connections to muscle his way into the privatization of formerly Cuban owned industries.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Reconstruction Part Two

Road Plan for Reconstruction
The road to fully restoring the Union would be a long and expensive one and the soldiers occupying the South would not be the only Americans discontent. The initial plans for Reconstruction came to life following the 1915 Battle of Fredericksburg, where a quarter of a million Americans on either side of the divide perished. Taking and holding the small scrap of land galvanized President Theodore Roosevelt as well as his Secretary of State and members of Congress into preventing a similar disaster from again occurring.
As Roosevelt was no fool, he knew the next war would use weapons even more powerful and lethal than the machine guns of the Great War. The only way to prevent a future war was to prevent two separate sides from occupying the same continent. It was an idea his administration toyed with since the war began. When war broke out in 1913, War Plans Gray and Red were activated. In each case, the objectives and how to defeat the enemy were discussed in great detail. What came afterwards was a matter the War Department did not plan.
Nobody in 1913 or 1914 would openly discuss restoration, though there was plenty of talk about regaining land lost to the British following the Second and Third Anglo-American Wars. As for concessions from the C.S.A. they ranged from indemnities to disarmament to cession of land. As 1915 rolled in, the question of how much cession would justify the loss of life. Following Fredericksburg, there could only be one answer to the question.
The war, indeed the previous five decades, were nothing less than a national tragedy. In the States’ War, brother fought brother. In the Great War, cousin fought cousin. Even the Canadians were viewed as wayward relations, though the quest to ‘conquer Canada’ was long since abandoned and any hopes of them peacefully merging with the United States long past. It was time for the American family to come back together.

In 1915, restoration was unthinkable to the Confederates. Their war aims were simple: survival. They had hoped for a quick defeat of Germany in Europe followed by an influx of British soldiers to aid against the Union. Even Canada was denied the level of aid Ottawa requested. With a population of seven million, Canada could not hope to stand up alone to the United States with its sixty million. Philadelphia knew this and decided to mark Canada as secondary in importance. The twenty-seven million Confederates concerned them greater.
Comparing populations between Union and Confederacy is always a bit of a problem. The Union has its entire demographic of men between the age of eighteen to thirty to draw upon. In the Confederate States, nearly one-third of their population is automatically discounted. Black soldiers were not part of Montgomery’s equation, not even freedmen volunteers. In the beginning of the war, they were bared from industries the same as women. Only the tremendous losses at the front changed the stubborn minds of Southerners, though only enough to permit Black men into occupation previous classified as White only.
Even halfway through 1916, the Confederates defiantly claimed to rather fight to the last man than rejoin the Union. Or rather that was the word of the Confederate Congress. By the middle of the year, Tennessee lay in ruins with Virginia and Cuba not in much better shape. With more than half his State already administered by the Union, Governor Harold Wilson sought any means to stem the tide. Requests for more soldiers from other States went unheeded. Even if his prayers were answered, Wilson doubted the Union could be kept out of Chattanooga and the industrial heart of eastern Tennessee.

His State already counted more than two hundred thousand among the dead, not including civilian losses. If his compatriots in the Confederate States could or would not aid him in the fight, he had few options in saving Tennessee. He had no option in evicting the Union. Even if restoration was never achieved in the Deep South, there was no way the Union would ever let Tennessee go when the war ended. No matter who won, Tennessee was under the Stars and Stripes.
With the fate of his State already decided, Wilson saw no reason why his people should continue to suffer. His momentous decision to seek a separate peace opened a flood gate. With Tennessee quitting, Cuba follow, then Virginia and even the whole of the Confederate West threw in the towel as a whole, leaving the Deep South alone to face a wave of destruction with nothing but disorganized State divisions wanting nothing more than to return home.
Once the Confederate Congress surrendered, the former C.S.A. was divided into three military sectors; west, central, east. The Eastern Sector consisted of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Cuba. To oversee the occupation, Roosevelt nominated General Clarence White Water, the man who commanded Second Army since 1915. The general from the State of Iroquois was a war hero in the eyes of all Americans, though perhaps not of the same level as Pershing or Arnold. For White Water it was a well earned post. For the former Confederates it was a calculated insult as the racially minded Southerners scoffed under the command of a general who was three-fourths Indian.
The Central Sector was granted to General John ‘Black Death’ Pershing. His virtual destruction of Tennessee saw the nickname Jack replaced by that of Death. Pershing held the position until 1919, when he decided to transfer to the Military Academy at Fort Arnold as an instructor in history. One of the Joint Chiefs famously grumbled upon hearing of Pershing’s transfer “great, now we’re going to have a whole generation of officers spouting nonsense about Gilgamish and Sargon.” Finding a successor was a great challenge. Samuel Arnold, self-styled Conqueror of Memphis, was the obvious choice. However, as with many in his family he stepped on the toes of politicians. Congress decided on an anyone-but-Arnold policy for command of Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana.

The Western Sector (Durango, Sonora, Chihuahua, Jefferson, Texas and Oklahoma) was placed under the command of a lesser known commander. Lieutenant General Charles Rhodes commanded XVIII Corps on the Colorado Front. The western part of the Great War received far less press than the massive body counts of the Ohio and Potomac Fronts. The war also lacked any solid front and consisted of large maneuver and sieges. Rhodes participated in the conquest of Nogales in 1913 and the Siege of Guaymas in 1915. The less populated West would prove much easier to reconstruct than the other regions.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Reconstruction, part one

A sample of one of my current projects. Reconstruction: The Roarings '20s.

Not Home by Christmas
Those hundreds of thousands of veterans who expected to be home by Christmas upon hearing of the Confederate States’ unconditional surrender on September 30, 1916, turned out to be sorely disappointed. Unlike previous wars, the United States did not quickly demobilize its army. It was an unprecedented move in the nation’s history and one explained by President Roosevelt during last minute campaigning in October.

Defeating the Confederate States was not enough. After a war that left millions of Americans dead on both sides, he and his administration, along with Congress, every soldier who shed blood and the families of the casualties were all determined that such a calamity should never again befall the American continent. Now that the Confederate Congress surrendered the Union still had a job to do; make sure the Confederate Army and the divisions of the several States complied.

Disarming more than eighty divisions took time, months in fact. Many soldiers who expected to return home as soon as the fighting ceased found themselves in exotic locations such as New Orleans, Montgomery, Macon or Pensacola disarming the States’ divisions. The Deep South was expected to be the most stubborn of the C.S.A.’s regions, given that the Upper South sued for peace in piecemeal and the West gave in as a whole. If there were to be unreconciled rebels, they would be in these States.

Or so the Joint Chiefs believed. They did not expect to see the 102nd North Carolina simply vanish. Out of the division, eighty-two hundred seventy-one soldiers took to the North Carolina back country, swearing to fight the invaders in what they hoped would be a costly and long-drawn guerilla war. The Army did plan for resistance, either by former soldiers or local civilians. To what extent and degree it would come was anyone’s guess.

Disarming the Confederate Navy proved a far easier process. With half of their Atlantic Fleet destroyed at the Battle of Grand Bahama, there was little for their navy to surrender. U.S. Marines took control of three battleships, the CSS Congress, Mississippi and crippled Sonora, as well as a battlecruiser squadron, six cruisers and a number of destroyers. Not all of the ship of the Confederate Navy ended up in Union hands. The captain of the CSS South Carolina ordered his ship scuttled rather than handed over to his life-long enemies. Other Confederate captains, mostly of cruisers and destroyers, followed suit.

As the Confederate Navy was under the control of the former central government, there was nobody the Federal Government could penalize for the loss of the war prizes. The same was not true about the Confederate Army. North Carolina suffered a complete suspension of all civil liberties until their holdouts surrendered. In Alabama, when a number of armored vehicles of an Alabaman division were unaccounted for (later discovered to be scrapped rather than turned over to the Union), the Union military governor levied a fine upon the county that was home to most of the division.