ENGLISH ERRORS CONCERNING THE LATE WAR.
[FROIK OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONOENT.]
New York, August 18, 1865.
I PROPOSE to correct in this letter two grievous errors in regard to our late civil war, which thereafter may be allowed to pass out of the range of this correspondence. An Englishman now on it visit to this country, and who during the war was what you would call a moderate "Northerner," told me the other day that the argament on the part of the Southerners which he and those of his way of thinking found most difficult to meet was that which Mr. Roebuck stated in these sentences in his Sheffield speech :— " Many years ago England planted great colonies in America. They raised themselves up to a groat height. They became three millions of people, and they then determined to separate from England. They de- clared that they had a right to separate when they 'thought fit to do so. They supported that judgment of theirs by arms. They fought England —they beat England—they declared themselves independent.. . . Now, after above 80 years of alliance, the United States of America have separated in two. A large body of these States, calling themselves the Confederate States, declared that they would no longer be allied to these United States, but would make themselves independent. They are exactly in the position of the American colonies with regard to England in the year 1777."
This view of the question which has just been decided, as far as we are concerned, has, as all readers of the Spectator know, been stated again and again on your side of the water in all variations of phraseology which would convey the same idea, it having been put compactly in one instance thus :—" The South had as much right to secede from the United States as the United States had to secede from Great Britain." Now had our war of independence been begun by us positively, or byimplication, upon the ground that we had the right, for any reason whatever, to sever our connection with the Government of the mother country,—had it been even the consequence of an attempted separation by us, upon whatever pretence, this parallel might be established. But neither of these supposed cases has any foundation in fact.
Our Declaration of Independence was made on the 4th of July, 1776, and this act of separation was so far from being the cause of the war waged against us by the British Government of the day, and that war was so far from being the consequence of what Mr. Roebuck calls our determination to separate from England, that the war had been waged, and had been signalized by histori- cal conflicts, for more than a year before the declaration was made. The skirmish at Lexington was brought on not by the New-England men, but by an attack made by the British forces ; and the desultory battle of Concord, to which it was the prelude, and in which three hundred British troops fell, took place on the 19th of April, 1775. After this conflict, and before the Declaration of Independence, occurred the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, the appointment of George Washington commander-in-chief of the colonial forces, the battle of Bunker's Hill, the capture of Montreal, the siege of Quebec and our defeat these, the siege of Boston and its evacuation by Lord Howe, and the attack of General Clinton upon Charleston and his repulse. These and intermediate minor hostilities extended over a period longer than that which elapsed between the bombardment of Fort Sumter and the capture of New Orleans. It is as if those events and the intermediate battle of Bull Run, capture of Fort Donelson and of Island No. 10, and the battle of Pitts- burg Landing had taken place before the passage of the secession ordinances. But the secession of South Carolina took place four months before the bombardment of Fort Sumter, only after which our Government began even to prepare for war. The Confederates began their rebellion by secession, but our grandfathers and theirs resisted oppression, and stood up for their rights as Englishmen for more than a year before they took their first step towards separation from a Government 3,000 miles away. Even when the struggle had become bloody and irrecon- cileable, many who were determined in their resistance to oppression still clung to their allegiance. Washington himself declared that there was no thought of separation, only English liberty ; and the Declaration of Independence passed the Con- tinental Congress, after a sharp struggle, only by a majority of one colony, —for in that Congress the vote was by colonies. For our grandfathers fought the battles of that year, 1775-1776, as Englishmen for English rights—as Pym and Hampden and Crom- well did, that they should not be wrongfully taxed. The battle of Bunker's Hill was lost by us—not gained, as most of you strangely seem to suppose, yet lost so that we think of it with pride, under the red cross of St. George, as it appeared in the flag of the old English Commonwealth, I believe, and which still main- tains its place in the banner of the New England Society.
It appears, then, that there was this difference between the war which produced, and that which preserved, this republic,—that in the former, hostilities, begun by the British Government, were followed after an interval of more than a year by a reluctant act of separation ; and that in the latter, hostilities which were begun to maintain a declared separation followed the alaveholders' de- claration of independence. In a word, that in one case secession was the consequence, and in the other the cause, of the war. The consequence in every sense of the word, for in the Declaration of Independence the war waged upon the colonists by King George is set forth as one of the reasons justifying the declaration. Be- sides, one war was accepted by a people who had no representation in the Government whose oppression they resisted ; the other was accepted by a people who had more than a full representation, and who had suffered no oppression. One was incurred not for separation, but for those rights which are dearest to every man of English race ; the other, for separation, and, according to the confession of its own champions, to secure "the extension of slavery into the territories." The likeness between the position of the parties to them is that they both resisted authority ; a likeness which equally exists between Washington and Lucifer.
The other error to which I refer is one of especial interest to us ; and as I found the facts of the case hardly leas interesting to my English friend above mentioned, I presume that they may not be regarded with indifference by my readers. It is the appa- rently fixed belief in Europe that our armies were in large pro- portion recruited from Irish and German immigrants. It has been said, for instance, in one prominent London journal, that in con- sidering the determined purpose with which we conducted the war, it must be remembered that we "were making free with Irish and German blood ;" and by the special correspondent of another, that "out of every hundred Federal soldiers . . . sixty are foreigners, who have been starved, bribed, or hoeussed into the ranks." These assertions, made rashly and upon very imperfect knowledge, are directly at variance with the facts, as can be clearly shown by public records. I happen to have preserved two reports, one of the killed and wounded in the 19th Army Corps at the battle of Cedar Creek, the other a list of prisoners of war who up to a certain time had died in that horrid pen at Ander- sonville. The list of the wounded in the 19th Army Corps numbers 612; that of the dead at Andersonville a few more than 3,000. In these lists I have carefully marked every Irish, German, French, Italian, Russian, and Polish name. Of the 612 in the 19th Corps just 60 are thus marked, showing not ten in the hundred, instead of sixty. But this 19th Corps had in it many New York regiments, including some from New York city, where Irish and German immigrants most congregate. Let us look at Anderson- vine, where we have not only a larger number on which to base our calculation, but a general representation of all the army corps. Of the 3,000 and more prisoners whose death was recorded on the list in question, the number having Irish or German names, or others belonging to the continent of Europe, is 175, or not one in 17+, which is not 6 (instead of 60) in 1.00!
This evidence as to the composition of the United States volun- teer army is confirmed by evidence of another kind—the records
of the quotas furnished by the several States. I take the State of New Hampshire, because that is the most remote of all the States in the Union from the course of emigration, lying as it does in the most retired part of New England, north of Massachusetts, and west of Maine, being full of mountains, and having little or no commerce at the single port where it touches the sea-board. New Hampshire, according to recently published official records, fur- nished 33,427 men to the national armies in the late civil warp Now the population of this State, wording to the census taken in 1860, immediately before the rebellion, is 326,073. This State therefore furnished to the army more than one in ten of its aggre- gate population, including women and children. But the census tables show that of the New Hampshire people 133,974 were under 20 years of age, and that of those over 20 years of age, 99,649 were women, and 27,906 were men over 50 years of age, The sum of these numbers, 261,529, deducted from the total population, leaves 64,544; showing that of the New Hamp- shire men between 20 and 50 years of age more than one-half went into this war. How these men did what they undertook to do appears from the fact that the returns show 5,818 ldlled and 11,039 permanently disabled., besides those less seriously Wounded. In other words the close of the war Ws in this single Yankee commonwealth considerably more than one quarter of its men between 20 and 50 years of age, who were alive and well before the war, killed or crippled for life.
This is no singular instance ; but an example of the devotion of the native population of the Free States. When the war 4rst broke out, foreigners flocked into the army. The temporary de- rangement of business threw a large number of the people in cities and mantifacturing towns out of employment. They did here then what they might have done at home at any time—enlisted. But as the war went On, and trade revived, and labour began to be in great demand, as their short ternui expired they returned to their old employments, to find and keep through the remainder of the war plenty of work at very high wages. In this they were imitated by the great mass of the in-coming emigrants. Then it was that the Yankees, finding that the affair was of a gravity which they had not anticipated, took it in hand and looked after it until it was finished. There were probably more, not only more in proportion, but actually more Irishmen and Germans on the field at the battle of Bull Runthan either Grant, or Meade, or Sherman, or Sheridan had under his command all through the remainder of the war. Of course there were always some Irishmen and Germans in our armies, and the large class of worthies known as " bounty-jumpers " is shown by the records to have been chiefly composed of men Of these two nations, prin- cipally the former. But the number of foreigners, though posi- tively large, became comparatively small as the wax passed into its second year. However it was begun, it was finished by Yankees, i. e., by men of English blood, born and bred in the free common- wealths of this republic. How large a proportion of the educated classes went to the field may be estimated from the fact that at the recent Commencement at Harvard College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it was found that more than one-fifth of the living graduates, including the aged, the sick, and the clergymen, had entered the army, and that of these one in five had been killed in battle. A like exhibit has been found upon the records of our other colleges, notably in that of Yale, at Newhaven, Comm, ticut. Whatever else these Yankees did, they did not shirk their duty.
The negro Davenport, who married the white woman, has thought it advisable to leave Greenwich. In this quiet, sober Connecticut village —I know the place well—where he was justified in killing an unarmed man who had not even assaulted him (what- ever his purpose might have been), and where the jury before whom he was brought assured him that he should be completely protected in every legal right, he yet found that it would not do for him to live with a white wife, even although she was an Irish emigrant. "It may be all very base and bad, but politicians must deal with facts."
You will learn in England by the steamer which takes out this letter, if you have not learned before, of the hopeless nature of the accident which befell the Atlantic telegraphic cable, but you cannot know, without the opportunity of observation, how utterly in- digerent the people here are about the matter. It hardly fur- nishes a topic for common conversation. The contrast be- tween public feeling on this subject now and that shown before tbs rebellion is very striking, and to me of sad significance.