Skip to comments.Copperhead bracelets..
Posted on 03/15/2006 7:35:54 AM PST by pickrell
The difficulties of sorting out the tremendous numbers of men who volunteered when the nation called, was matched only by the seeming impossibilities of locating sufficient equipment and arms. Ohio would eventually furnish a Grant, a Sherman, a Sheridan, a Rosecrans, and a host of other powerful leaders in a time of Civil war.
Unfortunately, it would also excrete a Vallandigham.
A Congressman from the Dayton district, Clement Vallandigham worked tirelessly and openly from the onset of the war for the defeat of the Union armies, the overthrow of the Lincoln administration, and the achievement of "peace without victory". He and his followers believed that only if the war was lost, could the "issues" of the day be discussed "without coercion". The fact that 60 years of discussions had already preceded hostilities seemed to escape their notice.
They became known as the "Copperheads" after a small snake which strikes from hiding and poisons the body through the ankles. As the initial battles of the Civil War proved more costly and less fortunate for the North than had been hoped, Vallandigham's ranks of followers swelled under his crusade. The main megaphone of the movement came through a Democratic newspaper called the "Columbus Crisis". It was not until 1863 that soldiers from a nearby army post, Camp Chase, finally had more than even military discipline could contain, and left camp to trash the offices of the newspaper. Until that time, however, word spread far that a vast secret underground of sympathizers was ready to rebel against the Union, or at least against Ohio.
Eventually, a cavalry raid by Confederate General John Morgan pushed up through the Blue Grass region of Kentucky, aimed towards Cincinnati, and was followed later by General Kirby Smith's forces. Crossing the Ohio River north of Cincinnati into Indiana, Morgan then wheeled and re-crossed the river back into Ohio. Moving through a number of southwestern Ohio counties, he found no promised adoring throngs of Ohioans- but rather a succession of scratch 'irregular' militia forces, providing ammunition to him in a decidedly unfriendly way. Some of the shots began whittling his forces down as Union cavalry also constantly ground down his rear. In more ways than one, in fact. The remnants of his ill-fated command were finally apprehended all the way up in the northeastern Ohio county of Columbiana.
Many of the deaths in the Morgan raid were directly attributable to the efforts of the copperheads. They would not be the last.
As Copperheadism became exposed for what it was, the adherents were forced underground, forming a shadowy organization who called themselves the "Sons of Liberty", and worked zealously to prevent that "liberty" from extending as far as the cotton fields of the South- or anywhere else that minority faces were seen. Estimates as high as 80,000 were given to it's Ohio membership, though only a small fraction of that were ever exposed.
The "coming out party" for them was planned to be during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, late August of 1864, with the platform of encouraging armed uprising against the State and Federal governments. A plot was undertaken to forcibly release the Confederate prisoners held at Sandusky Bay, in Ohio, but was thwarted when the leader of the raid, Charles Cole, was arrested while attempting to seize the gunboat "Michigan". Confederates to the plan, if you will excuse the phrase, were to simultaneously descend upon Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio, to free the Confederate prisoners held there. None of the attempts succeeded.
These were not persons content to simply clamor for impeachment of Lincoln. These were the Democrats with foam at the corners of their mouths. We can only presume that their descendants migrated west to Hollywood, and east to Massachusetts. Their candidate for that year, at the midpoint of the Civil War, was none other than Clement Vallandigham! Instead of running for Senator of New York, and recasting himself, in drag, as a "new moderate woman" and military hawk, Vallandigham predated Clintonism, and instead recreated himself as a born-again American. It is astonishing what some supporters are prepared to swallow, though apparently not quite enough of them...
The election of 1863 in Ohio yielded a Vallandingham(D) loss to Brough(R). Soldiers, allowed to vote by an act of the Ohio legislature in that year, in a stinging rebuke of the Democratic party, voted 41,467 for the Republican, and 2,288 for Vallandingham. The military vote- by itself!- was over two/thirds of the victory margin for the Republicans. Relief was felt all over the North, and President Lincoln telegraphed, "Glory to God in the highest; Ohio has saved the union!". He confessed to his Navy Secretary, Gideon Welles, that he was more nervous about Ohio in 1863, than the national election of 1860!
The rest of the carnage of the war, necessary to force the conclusion of issues which could not be finessed any longer politically, are well known.
But though the war was decided, and the carnage over, the elements who had worked so hard to undermine the outcome while back at home, were far from defeated. Very little nuance and subterfuge was applied to the Ohio elections of 1867, as both sides hardened into their views of 'managing' reconstruction.
The Democratic party turned towards attempting to save some remnants from the disaster. The issue of Negro suffrage was bitterly opposed by them in the State of Ohio, through appeals to the voters to save the state from 'negro-ism', [though the actual word used on the campaign trail was far harsher and more offensive].
Republicans countered that, "Honest black men are preferable to white traitors", and pressed hard for the vote for all men. It was a losing battle.
After several years of Democratic warnings against the "excesses of peace", and the dangers of changing too rapidly, along with their brutally effective campaign of "guarding against the swarm of unemployed blacks" soon to be headed across the Ohio river, the sense of why the war had been fought in the first place was cleverly subsumed into being a mere "pointless bloodbath" that occurred during the failed management of that bumbler Lincoln.
In the election squeaker that followed, though the Republicans barely held on to place Rutherford B. Hayes into the Ohio governor's mansion, the Democrats swept into control of the legislature. The issue of the Negro vote went down to defeat with all the finality of a sealed tomb, and promised to stay there for at least a generation or two.
The newly returned soldiers, many maimed from the war to end the subjugation of man, learned a bitter irony at the hands of the Democratic party. Even worse than a Pyrrhic victory, were the Democratic machinations of their Pyrrhic defeat. Having lost everything, the Dems began their campaign to insure that the victors also lost everything if possible. It was a lesson plan that they would come to master.
But this has been a recurrent strategy of the copperheads of America since the revolution and perhaps even before. When there is no way to prevent a victory for the country- the next best thing is to organize those who elect not to fight- those who stay behind- to subvert any possible peace. Though Ohio overall did it's best in the fight to preserve the Union, both in treasure and blood, no State is ever totally free from the fifth columnists in their midst; and their power to rush from the tall grass, once the fighting is over, is legendary.
In the end, the efforts to finally eliminate the last vestiges of that 'peculiar institution', were dismissed as mere Republican 'waving of the bloody shirt', and the universal suffrage issue was successfully crushed by the Democratic majorities which sprang up not only throughout the south, but in states like Ohio.
Decades later, as the issue finally recurred during and after the World Wars, the Democrats were forced to radically shift their tactics. The overtness of yesterday had to give way to a new subtlety. Looking unthreatening and inert, the copperhead appears pretty lying in the field, like some abandoned spangle, some lost necklace. Something to add to one's finery for free.
It is not easy to compel a people newly released, to willingly offer their wrists back to the shackles. The glitter of discovered treasure, however, has a visceral appeal to the unwary. A party that becomes skilled at turning an entire people away from the self reliance, independence and promise of the American heritage- and towards the dogma that only from a government purse can sustenance be achieved; a party that can successfully defeat an entire people's clamor for an educational system which prepares their children for success, in favor of the counterfeit diplomas dispensed by the cynical utopians of deconstruction... can probably reconstitute the era of the "magnanimous masters... and the simple supplicants laboring in the fields".
These are the gems of subjugation... the jewels of the Democratic party.
They are the copperhead bracelets.
And they fit more tightly than you could possible imagine...
** Much of the factual information was drawn from the excellent "A History of Ohio", by Roseboom and Weisenburger, and other excellent works on the period.
I'll have a read, thanks for the post.
Talk about history repeating itself...!
They haven't changed their tactics much in 140 yrs.
kinda redundant, even now...
Excellent article. Just goes to show that history does repeat itself.
They just changed the name, it now starts with Pecker.....
Great link. Being a Civil War buff, I was already aware of much of this, but such a well organized site with ready references is quite a find. In response to your post, I expect you'll just get chirping crickets. IMO the Civil War was the death of the Constitutional Republic as intended by the founders and the foundation of the unlimited powers of government that we are rapidly heading towards.
I apologize for the tardiness of my response. Obligations wrapped me up.
I note that in most cases of treachery to one's homeland, the fallback position is one of process. Seldom have I heard anyone defend Jane Fonda's aid to the communists of Asia as being a good thing, and necessary to clear out those million or so "extra" Vietnamese and Cambodians who needed to die.
Fonda, Sheehan, Vallandigham, and those like them, have been defended by others who make a fetish of conflict, and who aren't abhorred by the sickening waste of human life prolonged and produced by those Americans who elect to 'hold the copper penny'. I've never been a Civil War "buff", in that the "issue" of the day, and the fact that so many were willing to die to protect that peculiar institution, leaves me nauseous and indignant.
Today's society makes legal a wide range of behaviors to it's citizens. This is certainly the "right" of any American under the Constitution. Amazingly, those Americans who avail themselves of their Constitutional rights to undermine and work against our military seldom have any appreciation that that same Constitution is only still extant due to the offering of the lives of that same military to protect your right to freedom from "self delusion".
If Lincoln had been a good little boy, and allowed the full constitutional rights of the quislings who worked to destroy the Union, he would have been more "appreciated" by certain individuals... and responsible for America not being there, later, to stop the Nazi's, as well as numerous other evils that we have removed from the world.
Far be it from me to try to change your mind on this matter, since it is my experience that no one clings tighter to their beliefs than those who would be indicted by the monstrosity of that which they so dearly wish to justify.
List me instead, as one of those deluded 'chirping crickets' who find Cindy Sheehan, Jane Fonda and Clement Vallandigham as the same sort of leprosy that Vidkun Quisling was.
I find no cute elegance to the argument that Lincoln was a "monster" who deprived certain Americans of their full Constitutional rights to continue the enslavement of millions of human beings, and to rend to pieces the one country that has forever stood as the final garantor of human rights.
As someone once said, "The Constitution has never been... a suicide pact".
I would add that it also specified that certain persons were "three-fifths" of a human being.
It has been amended by the deaths of millions, who offered their mortal bodies and their futures to decide the issue.
I'm not a Civil War buff, but I believe that our side won.
The Constitution is a pact; an agreement among free men outlining the conditions under which they give their consent to be governed. It is a binding legal contract; when it is violated by the governemnt, the government has surrendered their legal authority, and the people are freed from the constraints of the original treaty. So it is a sucide pact, unless the government wishes to surrender their LAWFUL authority and operate as a tyranny--that is what Lincoln chose to do, setting a dangerous precedent that results in a tyranny rather than a Constitutional Republic. And just because a black-robed tyrant said that it isn't a suicide doesn't make it so-- we are the ones who give consent to be governed and always have the final say since it is a contract among we the people, not we the government.