Don't revise Civil War history

Friday, November 14, 2003

By Clint E. Lacy

Your insert in the Veterans Day edition of the Southeast Missourian would have been a fine tribute to our nation's veterans had the writers of the insert not stained the honor of the veterans' memories by taking the opportunity to interject political correctness into it.

I read in the Civil War section that the Southern soldiers were referred to as "Confederate thugs" who "terrorized western Missouri."

A closer look at the facts would reveal who the real thugs were.

May 10,1861: Gen. Nathaniel Lyon captures Camp Jackson in St. Louis. An unruly crowd begins to riot as Lyon marches the secessionists through St. Louis. Lyon's men fire into the crowd, killing a baby and two men and wounding many. Most were just spectators.

June 11, 1861: At a meeting at the Planter House in St. Louis, General Lyon tells Governor Jackson, Sterling Price and Thomas Snead, "Rather than concede to the state of Missouri for one single instant the right to dictate to my government in any matter however unimportant, I would see you, and you, and you, and you, and every man, woman and child in the state, dead and buried. This means war."

Aug. 14. 1861: Gen. John C. Freemont declared martial law on the city of St. Louis. Six days later, Freemont extended the order to the entire state.

Sept. 22, 1861: Kansans led by Jim Lane burned and looted the southwest Missouri town of Osceola, killing six civilians.

Dec. 21, 1862: General Halleck institutes the no-quarter policy not just to guerrillas, but to all Confederate soldiers.

The writer of the Civil War portion of the Veterans Day insert also insinuates that Sherman marched through Atlanta in retaliation for the bushwhacking going on in Missouri. This too is false.

Sherman's main objective was the Army of Tennessee. But he soon found more value in waging war on civilians, thus denying the Army of Tennessee supplies. During the Atlanta campaign, Sherman deliberately stopped shelling the Army of Tennessee and turned his guns on the city's buildings.

Sherman once stated that to win the war, " a large portion of the [Southern] civilian population must be exterminated."

It must be noted that, at the beginning of the Civil War, Missourian's were against secession. But the Camp Jackson affair and the policies of warfare against Missouri civilians forced them to defend their homes.

Next time, stick to the history and leave the political correctness out of it. Missouri's Confederates served with honor. There are monuments to them all over the South. The very least the Southeast Missourian could do for them would be to show them a little respect.

Clint E. Lacy is a resident of Marble Hill, Mo.

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