War Between the States

Moderator’s note: This thread consists, to post #15, of posts taken from Victor’s Injustice http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9620&page=3. Further discussion within the broad scope of the thread title is up to members, but this is not the place for detailed discussion of specific battles, specific weapons etc but rather the broader issues involved in the War Between the States. Rising Sun*

Unfortunately, the winners always apply the international laws after the shooting is over. There were someof the punishments meted out at Nuremburg that I do not feel were right. There were some of those that I felt were deserved. Punishments deserved by leaders of the winning sides have to be dealt out by their own courts of military justice. If they let them slide, then there is little that can be done. Otherwise, Northern commanders such as W.T. Sherman go scott free for their behavior and the behavior of some of his men during the War of Southern Independence.

It’s a sad fact that the Northern military commanders broke no laws in the War of Northern Aggression because there were no laws, international or otherwise, which were in effect in the jurisdictions in which they were operating. Lincoln may have (probably did) violated the Federal Constitution in that he pursued an aggressive war in the absence of any Constitutional justification, but that is more a political matter to be adjudicated in the US Supreme Court. No Federal laws governed actions in the States until the advent of the 14th Amendment after the Civil war, and no international Conventions on War existed until 1864 (and at any rate, weren’t ratified by the US until 1882).

That is not to say there was no precedent (The first war crimes trial was held in 1474, the defendant was Peter von Hagenbach, and he was convicted and executed after claiming to just following orders) for a trial of some Union commanders, but nothing was binding on them. There was something called the Lieber Code which imposed criminal liability on troop commanders for ordering or encouraging their men to wound or kill troops who had ceased resisting. This apparently was a protocol attached to Lincoln’s declaration of martial law, which was of questionable legality in itself.

Thanks for your response, Wizard. The Union did find a way to prosecute and hang at least one Confederate Officer, the unfortunate Wirtz, commander of the infamous Andersonville Prison. Perhaps he deserved it, but I’m not sure of that. I have also read of very similar conditions in at least one of the Northern POW camps. Sounds like another example of “Victor’s Injustice” right in our own nation. There are other examples that occurred during the Indian Wars as well. Victor’s Injustice has been around a long time, and not just in WWII.

Um, didn’t the Confederate States of America open fire on Fort Sumter? And as for legality, it was the South that seized federal assets with no negotiations…

[i][SIZE=“5”][COLOR=“DarkRed”]Yes they did. Only after requests for removal of Federals in the confines of a soverign state. Lincoln was set on re-supplying them, rather than removing them. South Carolina had adopted the Ordinances of Secession. This was a right that had not been forbidden to States by the U.S. Constitution. At the Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made to allow the Federal Government to suppress a seceding state, but that proposal was rejected after James Madison said,

“A Union of the States containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a State, would look more like a declaration of war, than an infliction of punishment, and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound”.1

Instead of honoring the spirit of the Constitutional Convention, Lincoln seemed determined to provoke a war, instead of recognizing the rights of the States.


1.Max Farrand,ed, The Records of the Federal Convention, vol.1(New Haven, Conn.(Yale University Press,1911),p.47


By the way, Nickdfresh, I notice you are from New York. I have seen in my reading about the War for Southern Independence, that New Yorkers, in general, were friendly to Southrons, and I appreciate that. Perhaps we too, can be friends and just agree to disagree on some things. Long Live the South!


I admit that I am not all that well-read on the American Civil War. I do recall something in history class of certain mixed sympathies that resided in both the Northern and Southern regions. There were of course those northerners who had a pipe-dream of one day owning a Southern plantation, some that favored the notion of “states rights,” and many were immigrants from places like Ireland that objected to being conscripted to fight in a war after fleeing the travails of their homelands, which resulted in a surge of draft riots in the City. All understandable, but I doubt there was a significant groundswell of sympathy for secession here, and many New Yorkers bled into the hallowed battlefields…

Long live everyone!


This might make a nice thread in the Civil War forum though, no?

Agreed, “long live everyone” and the USA.

And peace breaks out just when I thought we were going to see the start of American Civil War II. :smiley:

More seriously, what I know about the Civil War would fit on the head of a pin. Is there a readily obtainable and fairly concise book any of you Civil War buffs would recommend as giving a fair view?

I dunno, I’m still stuck in the under-read portion of the War of 1812 and The American Revolution… :smiley:

Unfortunately, I’ve been stuck on some other interests and have gotten away from wars a bit…

Rising Sun, I can’t think of a single edition, except perhaps the American Heritage single edition if it is still available. Look for anything by Bruce Catton, or Douglas Southall Freeman. Freeman has written several volumes of “Lee’s Lieutenants”. Any one of them would be a good read.
If I think of more, I’ll let you know.

Rising Sun,

The books I mentioned previously were published years ago, But I read one recently that I thought was really interesting. The name is The Jewish Confederates.It came out just a couple of years ago, and gives some insight into the War for Southern Independence (Civil War to the Unionists). It also gives interesting information of the contributions made by Jewish Statesmen, military officers, and just plain fighting men. I really enjoyed it


Thanks. I’ll see if I can find any locally.

My pleasure. The war was such a hugh part of our history, that it is difficult to find one book that would do it justice. I’ll keep looking through what I have and let you know when I come up with something recent.

Bumped to let people know this thread exists.

I have a copy of Campfire & Battlefields An Illustrated History of the Great Civil War (1894), you may borrow it if you wish, but you might have to send a private jet to collect - it’s massive!

Is it Nick or your keyboard you’re beating with that club? :lol:

A bit out of my budget.

But your contribution from the UK reminds me that the American Civil War had all kinds of effects elsewhere, such as the cotton industry in Lancashire in your country which led to support for the South there by some mill owners against support by others for Lincoln as an anti-slaver which resulted in a statue of Lincoln being erected in Manchester, albeit with American funds.

There was even a degree of support for the South here when the successful Confederate commerce raider CSS Shenandoah visited, provoking a range of diplomatic and legal moves which illustrated the variety of local views.

By the 25th, of January, Waddell stood off the entrance to Port Phillip, and asked for a Pilot, who responded that his orders prevented him from bringing a belligerent ship into harbour without a good reason, Waddell pleaded problems with his propellor shafting, which seemed good enough for Pilot Edward Johnson. Waiting off the heads, a health official came on board and indicated that the Confederate would find many friends in Melbourne, but warned of some enemies awaiting.

The ship received government approval to stay in port, provision, and make repairs to the propellor shaft, meantime, the locals turned out en masse to view the Rebel Pirate, her officers regaled with dinners ashore, and balls turned on in their honour.

US Consul William Blanchard protested to Governor Darling, that as Sea King had not visited another British port since she left England, she did not qualify as a warship, and should be designated a Pirate, but the Governor indicated that his law officers of the Crown had: “Come to the decision that, whatever may be the previous history of Shenandoah, the Government of the Colony is bound to treat her as a ship of war belonging to a belligerent nation.”

Now, Blanchard tried another ploy, he indicated that he would protect any crew member from the Confederate ship who had joined from a captured American vessel, 8 deserted, followed by another 6 later.

The repairs were taking their time to be executed, and the US consul believed that Waddell was merely stalling whilst trying to build up his crew numbers from the locals, and asked the police authorities to intervene. Superintendent Lyttleton, and Inspector Beam, of the Victoria went on board on the 13th. of February whilst Waddell was away from his ship, they carried a magistrate’s warrant to search for Charley the Cook, Lieutenant Grimbell, in his Captain’s absence, refused to allow such a search.

Now, Waddell also refused to allow a search on the following day, indicating he had not enlisted anyone since his arrival in Melbourne, the police reported to the Governor who summoned his Executive Council. The result, a message was drafted indicating that all repairs would be suspended, and the ship detained until the warrant was satisfied. At 1600 ( 4 PM ) police took over the ship, cleared the yard and stopped any further Australians from visiting the ship, and the official letter delivered, the messenger waiting for Waddell’s response. It was 2200 ( 10PM ) before the Captain replied, indicating to the Commissioner of Trade and Customs James C. Francis, he would be ready to sail on the 19th, of February, in a second letter to Francis he indicated that: "the execution of the warrant was not refused, as no such person therein specified was on board, but

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only those who had entered this port as part of the complement."

But Constable Alexander Minto from the Williamstown water police noticed a boat at Shenandoah’s gangway, and four men hastening down to jump in this boat, he chased it to shore, nabbed two of the occupants near the railway station, and found the other two lurking in a nearby toilet.

All were goaled, and one suprisingly like the description of " Charley the cook."

The next day, the executive council was again called to review this latest evidence, and a further letter arrived from Waddell indicating he had been told his ship was seized, and he wanted to know on whose authority.

Governor Darling also wanted to know what was going on! Thomas H. Fellows of the Crown Court posted a public statement: “I am of the opinion that the Government have not the power which they claim. A ship of war commissioned by a foreign government is exempt from the jurisdiction of the courts of other countries.”

The Governor wanted Waddell chided, and demanded that Shenandoah sail by the 19th. of February, two days in advance of this deadline, after loading 250 tons of coal, the ship was prepared for sea.

Forty men were gathered on the beach at Sandridge, the original name for the port at Melbourne, which these days carries the name of Port Melbourne, three boats were seen to load these men, and row out to the Raider.

The US Consul forever watchful, rushed off a letter of complaint about illegal recruiting to the Governor, but the Crown Law office was shut for the day, and he could not get any action. He tried the police, outside our jurisdiction, they said, not one to give in easily, Blanchard dashed off to see the attorney general, George Higinbotham at Parliament House, he too, refused to help, but advised seeing Mr. Sturt, a county magistrate, but no, he would not issue an affidavit, and told Blanchard to file a charge with the Williamstown water police, across the bay.

Blanchard now documented the story narrated by Forbes who had first made the report about the 40 men going off to Shenandoah, sent it off to the attorney general, grabbed Forbes to go with him to try and get the Williamstown water police to act, en route, Forbes had second thoughts, thinking about his personal safety, he pulled out. Blanchard without his witness went back to his office, fuming at all the inaction to his complaint.

Now, a George Robbins, a stevedore, turned up at Blanchard’s office, and indicated he had seen boatloads of men plus their baggage crossing by boat to the Shenandoah, and that he could name some of these men. Blanchard was now too tired to act, but entreated Robbins to report his information to the Williamstown

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water police, he returned to his boat, and started to row the distance from Sandridge to Williamstown, close by Shenandoah, he came on a boat manned by two murky characters he knew, Jack Riley and Robert Muir, they overhauled him, and threatened him if he passed on his information to the police. Robbins hit one of the thugs on the head with an oar, and smashed the second one’s fingers, then raced them to the water police. Too late, Shenandoah at 1600 ( 4 PM ) was off, steaming down the bay making for the open sea.

When well clear of land, a number of strange faces emerged from various hiding places, as 45 new crew members, all claiming to be natives of the Southern Confederacy came on deck.

The local papers in Melbourne had a field day, Robbins story made the headlines, announcing Waddell had shipped 40 to 80 British subjects, Muir and Riley were charged, confessed, and were given brief gaol terms.

Then "Charley the cook, and his three mates went on trial in mid March, but in fact it was Shenandoah on trial, early on, the defence counsel asked the prosecution to prove that the Confederate States and the United States were actually at war.

Blanchard was subpoenaed to testify that the Confederate States were in fact a government, the US Consul, livid at being summoned to the court, reminded the Governor that his Government had allowed Shenandoah to enter the port because she was a belligerent, and now they expected him to provide proof.

The Governor ducked for cover, all a mistake, he proclaimed.

The rowdy court room obviously favoured an acquittal, all four had already spent 30 days in custody, Davidson ( Charley ) and one of his mates were sentenced to 10 days in gaol, one was released as he was an American, and the fourth let off, he was but 17 years of age.

The farce was over, and the case considered closed, but Waddell and his Officers were considered as liars, this slur went no further, by the time this story reached Richmond, the Coinfederate Government was no longer in existence, the Civil War was over.

Now Shenandoah sailed freely into the Pacific, no sign of any Union warship to bar her progress.

This may not be the correct thread for this but here are some neglected trivia about our Civil War:
1. Often noted is Ely Parker, a member of the Seneca Nation, who achieved the rank of Brig. Gen in the Union Army and was Commissioner of Indian Affairs after the War. What is less often mentioned is that many Native Americans took active part in the war. In fact the last Conf. Gen. to surrender his forces was a full blood Cherokee, Stand Wati. He was not a figure head (as far as I know Gen. Parker never commanded troops in action), he successfully lead troops throughout the War.
2. Technically the worlds first aircraft carrier was a Union ship which carried, maintained and launched observations balloons.
3. Hundreds of thousands of Black slaves (and some Native Americans) were used by both sides (especially the South) for labor during the War, and great numbers of Blacks served in the Union Army. But there were also many thousands of Blacks (I’ve seen figures from 50.000 - 100, 000) who willingly took up arms for the South.

“The farther back you can look - the farther forward you cam see.” Win. Churchill