Relationships between Southerners and Yankee Soldiers during 1865
The conflict of the relationships between various sections of the population of the same country may cause historic changes not only inside the country but also in the whole world. One can say with certainty that the Civil War of 1861–1865 in the USA is considered one the greatest turning points in the US history. It started the profound changes in the lives of Americans, changes that outline the mentality and the values of the American nation even nowadays. There is no doubt that the results of the war and the evolution of the relationships between the Southerners and Yankee contributed to the development of democracy all over the world greatly.
The Reasons of the War
One of the reasons that the war had broken out between the Northern and Southern states was their different approach to slavery. The Northerners were against slavery and they denied it as the way of treating other people. Their life style and the way they ran their households as well as the methods of management did not need a usage of slaves. The farms were not large and the Northerners successfully managed to run them on their own.
On the contrary, the Southerners were, mostly, owners of the rich plantations and estates that needed a great deal of the slave’s labor. Therefore, they had the mentality that differed greatly from their Northern counterparts. Even those who belonged to the so-called middle-size yeomen and who never had the slaves “…when the war came they supported their state’s secession and pledged their loyalty to the new Confederacy” (Ash 10).
On the eve of the Civil War, the country was already divided into two different nations and even civilizations. Although the Northerners and the Southerners were of the same origin, they were so completely divided by the climate, morality, religion and were absolutely opposite to each other in evaluating everything that concerned honor, truth, and courage that they could not exist under the common governing. Another reason for the Civil War was the fact Abraham Lincoln had been elected a President of the USA and he was a confirmed opponent of a slavery. Therefore, the reason of the Civil War was the difference in moral values between the North and the South.
The Relationships between Southerners and Yankee Soldiers
To understand the real attitude of the Southerners to Yankee in 1865 one must bear in mind that the population of the Southern states consisted of two opposite groups of people – the whites and the blacks. The whites were the masters and the blacks were the slaves. Thus, the relationships of the Southerners with Yankee soldiers must be evaluated taking in account this factor.
The relationships of the whites were mainly based on their lack of receptivity to the Northerners’ values, differences in upbringing, and the hostility towards their greediness, roughness, and ignorance. Considering themselves as aristocrats and gentlemen, the Southerners called the Northerners ‘the dirty Yankees’. Stephen Ash wrote about one of the contemporaries of those days who was ready to sacrifice everything even her own sons because “She trembled at the prospect of her beloved South under the heel of “our insolent enemies” (43). As many Southerners were rich planters and got used to luxury accumulated out of the exploitation of the slaves deprived of civil rights, the ideas of the Northerners about equality were alien to them.
There was another group of the white Southerners who differed a little from those mentioned above, the so-called middle-size yeomen who were the farmers owning some acres of the land where they planted different vegetables and fruit and looked after the cattle. They did not have any slaves and they had to do all the household work by themselves. Some of them even considered themselves democrats but during the Civil War, they took the side of the Confederacy. Moreover, their position towards Yankees was just the same as the position of the rich planters. Many of them even joined the Confederates’ troops in order to defend their lands. Different factors influenced that group – religion, education and upbringing, the environment and the life style, and some others.
The opposite group to the two groups mentioned above was the black slaves whose destiny, in the white people’s opinion, was to work hard for the rich people’s welfare. In the book A Year in the South: Four Lives in 1865 devoted to the problem of the relationships between the Southerners and Yankee, Stephen Ash says “Six days a week, the slaves labored from dawn to dusk” (115). The black slaves worked for food without being paid any salary for their job. Moreover, all their attempts of disobedience or rescue were severely punished, sometimes by death. It happened very often that the slaves being caught after the unfortunate rescue were not even taken back to the masters’ estates but shot dead at the very place of their capture. Some of them were taken back to their owners but they were hung in order to demonstrate the slaves’ uselessness and to teach the lesson to other slaves. When the war came, and especially in winter 1865, when the Unionists’ Army was almost on the eve of its victory, the cavalry detachments of the Confederacy were organized in some counties for manhunt of the escaped slaves, the conscripts, and deserters. That manhunt was cruel and bloody, leading to deaths of many people.
Such state of the things did not add much to the improvement of the relationships between Southerners and their black slaves. On the contrary, it whetted them to find different ways of the rescue and desire to join the Yankee troops to fight together for their freedom and civil rights. Some of the slaves managed to elude their pursuers on their way to the Union lines and some of them went with one of the Yankee raiding parties that periodically came through the counties.
Thus, one can affirm that the relationships of the black Southerners and the Yankee soldiers were rather friendly. More to say, the Union army post commanders were under orders to take in all who came and to see to it that the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced as far as their authority could reach. Therefore, the black runaways became soldiers and took part in liberating other states from slavery.
The Southern conservatives were so obstinate and their hatred towards Yankee was so great that they failed in the negotiations proposed and organized by President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 in order to escape the further victims in the fratricidal war. Even after their defeat, some of the most conservative Southerners, rich planters, and owners of a great deal of slaves did not want to recognize and to realize the fact of the slavery’s abolition and did not let their former slaves to leave the estates. They did not want to understand that black slaves and white people could be equal in their rights and opportunities. They thought that the Yankee’s aspiration for equality and freedom would provoke the black people’s aggression towards the whites. Therefore, numerous conflicts between the Southerners and Yankee emerged during the first post-war months, especially between the representatives of the old aristocracy and priesthood and new Yankee administration.
The new Yankee administration adopted The Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon that was called to start the reunification of the American nation. In this case, Ash mentions that:
The Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon granted political absolution to those who had supported the Confederacy. They had only to take an oath pledging their allegiance to the United States and their acceptance of emancipation in order to avoid punishment for their “treason. (145)
In their efforts to improve the relationships with the Southerners, the Yankee undertook several serious steps. They let the Northern entrepreneurs to come into the Southern towns on wagons full of different merchandise and set up shops as tradesmen. First, there was a great deal of customers among the Negroes and very few among the white people because most of the whites thought of the Yankee as of adventures who had come to cheat their people out of the little remaining money. The Yankee themselves considered their ‘invasion’ as an attempt to show the Southerners different ways of arranging busyness and the relationships between people.
Nevertheless, the Southerners boycotted all Yankee’s attempts because they considered themselves, but not the U.S. soldiers as those who were able rule in their own towns. They saw no reason for martial law to be prevailing in their towns. However, there was a reason for this. It is necessary to confirm that not all the released slaves were honest in the relationships with their former masters and even with their relatives. The pent-up hatred, hypocrisy, and the feeling of revenge on behalf of the black people led to serious conflicts. Moreover, the martial law at that time was the only capable method to solve all the arising problems. Many of the institutions that stopped their activities during the war years started to function again by means of the martial authorities.
Despite this fact, most of the Southerners went on demonstrating by words and gestures their negative attitude toward the Yankee. Nevertheless, the changes came soon, and the first one was a necessity of organizing the labor relationships with the blacks who still worked at their plantations but who were no longer their slaves. It turned out that they had to be paid for their job and all those things they were taught by the Yankee.
Great tribute to the improvement of the relationships between the Southerners and the Yankee was made by the above-mentioned The Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon that gave many Southerners an opportunity to soften their punishment or to avoid punishment for their participation in the war completely. Moreover, some of the rebellion commanders became the outstanding political leaders. Regarding this, a story of Benjamin G. Humphreys is demonstrative and described by Ash in his book:
As a Confederate general, he was excluded from President Johnson’s general amnesty for rebels, but he had taken the oath of allegiance to the United States and then run for governor with the hope that the president would grant him a special pardon—which Johnson did, three days after the election. Humphreys was to be inaugurated on October 16, and the new state legislature would convene the same day. (221)
It was an act of a good will on the behalf of the victors not to start the revenge towards the confederates but to involve them into the process of building a new society according to the values of humanism and respectability. Such an approach to the arrangement of the relationships inside the nation led Americans to the first position in the world.
It is very important when the relationships between the people of the same country are based on the same human values. The religions, races, and upbringings may be different, but the principles on which the laws regulating the rules of the communication and the relationships between people forming a nation are based on the common grounds, and all the members of the community must follow them precisely. This statement is approved by examining of the story of the evolution of the relationships between the Southerners and the Yankee during the Civil War of 1861-1865. This conflict was bloody and it took thousands of Americans’ lives but it was inevitable because the conservative Southerners’ life style was a great obstacle on Americans’ people way to progress. The new society with its principles of foundation born out of the war became an example for other countries and nations outside the American continent.