The Civil War News & Views Open Discussion Forum

Federal Compensation for Freed Slaves

Military Memoirs of a Confederate: A Critical Narrative by Edward Porter Alexander

[So from Appomattox I started on April 12 for Washington, sending my horses to Ga., by friends, and joining a mixed party of Federals and Confederates riding to Burkesville, where we could take a train. The party had an escort of cavalry, and included Hon. E. B. Washburne of 111., well known as the special friend of Gen. Grant, and Confederate Maj.-Gen. Wilcox of Ala. In the course of the ride Wilcox and I had a conversation with Mr. Washburne, which impressed us both deeply at the time, and which, I am sure, I can even now repeat without material variation.

In common with all of Grant's army, the officers and soldiers of our escort and company treated the paroled Confederates with a marked kindness which indicated a universal desire to replace our former hostility with special friendship. All Federal privates would salute our uniforms, horsemen and teamsters would give us the roads, and in all conversations with officers or men special care would be evident to avoid painful topics. At one time, when the three mentioned were riding together, Mr. Washburne asked us, —

"What, in your opinion, will now be the course of your other armies? Will they seek to prolong the war, or will the surrender of Lee be accepted as ending it?"

We both answered that we had no doubt of the latter course being followed by the remaining armies, nearly as fast as the news could reach them. And we then said to him: —

"The question will not be what are we going to do, Mr. Washburne, but what is Mr. Lincoln going to do?" "Well, gentlemen," said he, "let me tell you something. When the news came that Richmond had fallen, and that Grant's army was in a position to intercept Lee's retreat, I went up to the White House to congratulate Mr. Lincoln, and I had the opportunity to have a talk with him on this very topic. Of course, it would not be proper for me to violate Mr. Lincoln's confidence by disclosing any details of his plans for restoring the Union, but I am going to make you a prophecy.

" His plan will not only astonish the South, but it will astonish Europe and foreign nations as well. And I will make you a prediction. Within a year Mr. Lincoln will be as popular with you of the South as he is now with the North."

As soon as we were alone together, we compared notes as to what Washburne could have meant. In view of our poverty it could only have meant that in some way the South would receive money. In view of the lack of any other plausible excuse for paying it to us, and of the arguments used by him at the Fortress Monroe conference why the South should be compensated for the emancipation of the negro, I have ever since felt convinced that Lincoln, in that interview with Washburne, recurred to his wellknown wish to do that act of justice to the South, and that Washburne believed that he would now be able to accomplish it with the prestige which success in the war would bring, and with the spread of the good feeling already inspired in the army by Grant's act of generosity. Unfortunately, and without fault of her own, the work of an assassin, only three days later, changed everything, converting into gall the very milk of human kindness in every breast, and blasting the South with a whirlwind of resentment, the effects of which will not disappear for generations.]

Who killed Lincoln?

David Upton

Messages In This Thread

Federal Compensation for Freed Slaves
Re: Federal Compensation for Freed Slaves
Re: Federal Compensation for Freed Slaves