Page images

being far more complex and far less homogeneous, were plagued with peace parties that grew like human weeds, clogging the springs of action everywhere. There were immigrants new to the country and therefore not inclined to take risks for a cause they had not learned to make their own. There were also naturalized, and even American-born, aliens, aliens in speech, race, thought, and every way of life. Then there were the oppositionists of different kinds, who would not support any war government, however like a perfect coalition it might be. Among these were some Northerners who did business with the South, especially the men who financed the cotton and tobacco crops. Others, again, were those loose-tongued folk who think any vexed question can be settled by unlimited talk. Next came those "defeatist" cranks who always think their own side must be wrong, and who are of no more practical use than the outand-out "pacifists" who think everybody wrong except themselves. Finally, there were those slippery folk who try to evade all public duty, especially when it smacks of danger. These skulkers flourish best in large and complex populations, where they may even masquerade as patriots of the kind so well described by Lincoln when he said how

often he had noticed that the men who were loudest in proclaiming their readiness to shed their last drop of blood were generally the most careful not to shed the first.

Many of these fustian heroes formed the mushroom secret societies that played their vile extravaganza right under the shadow of the real tragedy of war. Worse still, not content with the abracadabra of their silly oaths, the busybody members made all the mischief they could during Lincoln's last election. Worst of all, they not only tried their hands at political assassination in the North but they lured many a gallant Confederate to his death by promising to rise in their might for a "Free Northwest" the moment the Southern troopers should appear. Needless to say, not a single one of the whole bombastic band of cowards stirred a finger to help the Confederate troopers who rode to their doom on Morgan's Raid through Indiana and Ohio. The peace party wore a copper as a badge, and so came to be known as "Copperheads," much to the disgust of its more inflated members, who called themselves the Sons of Liberty. The war party, with a better appreciation of how names and things should be connected, used their own descriptive "Copperhead" in its

appropriate meaning of a poisonous snake in the grass behind.

The Indians would have preferred neutrality between the two kinds of inevitably dispossessing whites. But neutrality was impossible in what was then the Far West. Not ten thousand Indians fought for both sides put together. On the whole they fought well as skirmishers, though they rarely withstood shell fire, even when their cover was good and their casualties small.

The ten times more numerous negroes were naturally a much more serious factor. The North encouraged the employment of colored labor corps and even colored soldiers, especially after Emancipation. But the vast majority of negroes, whether slave or free, either preferred or put up with their Southern masters, whom they generally served faithfully enough either in military labor corps or on the old plantations. As the colored population of the South was three and a half millions this general fidelity was of great importance to the forces in the field. field.

The total population of the United States in 1861 was about thirty-one and a half millions. Of this total twenty-two and a half belonged to the North and nine to the South. The grand total

odds were therefore five against two. The odds against the South rise to four against one if the blacks are left out. There were twenty-two million whites in the North against five and a half in the South. But to reach the real fighting odds of three to one we must also eliminate the peace parties, large in the North, small in the South. If we take a tenth off the Southern whites and a third off the Northern grand total we shall get the approximate war-party odds of three to one; for these subtractions leave fifteen millions in the North against only five in the South.

This gives the statistical key to the startling contrasts which were so often noted by foreign correspondents at the time, and which are still so puzzling in the absence of the key. The whole normal life of the South was visibly changed by the war. But in the North the inquiring foreigner could find, on one hand, the most steadfast loyalty and heroic sacrifice, both in the Northern armies and among their folks at home, while on the other he could find a wholly different kind of life flaunting its most shameless features in his face. The theaters were crowded. Profiteers abounded, taking their pleasures with ravenous greed; for the best of their blood-money would end with the war.

Everywhere there was the same fundamental difference between the patriots who carried on the war and the parasites who hindered them. Of course the two-thirds who made up the war party were not all saints or even perfect patriots. Nor was the other third composed exclusively of wanton sinners. There were, for instance, the genuine settlers whom the Union Government encouraged to occupy the West, beyond the actual reach of war. But the distinction still remains.

Though sorely hampered, the Union Government did, on the whole, succeed in turning the vast and varied resources of the North against the much smaller and less varied resources of the South. The North held the machinery of national government, though with the loss of a good quarter of the engineers. In agriculture of all kinds both North, and South were very strong for purposes of peace. Each had food in superabundance. But the trading strength of the South lay in cotton and tobacco, neither of which could be turned into money without going north or to sea. In finance the North was overwhelmingly strong by comparison, more especially because Northern sea-power shut off the South from all its foreign markets. In manufactures the South could not compare at all.

« PreviousContinue »