"No Evil Can Equal a Return to Federal Control"
 
From: bernhard1848@gmail.com
 
Despite General Joe Johnston’s capitulation in May 1865, the War Between the States still raged until 1877 when Northern troops finally were withdrawn in exchange for the unopposed ascendance of “His Fraudulency,” President Rutherford B. Hayes.  General Wade Hampton argued below that surrendering to the North in 1865 would not preclude further suffering of the Southern people.
 
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"Unsurpassed Valor, Courage and Devotion to Liberty"
www.ncwbts150.com
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
 
“No Evil Can Equal a Return to Federal Control”


 
“On April 19, Hampton, seeking a way to avoid surrender of a remnant of the Confederate forces, wrote a letter to [President Jefferson] Davis:
 
“My Dear Sir:  Having seen the terms upon which it is proposed to negotiate [for capitulation], I trust that I may be pardoned for writing to you in relation to them . . . There are now not less than 40,000 to 50,000 men in arms on this side of the Mississippi [River].  On the other side are many more . . . If we keep any organization, however small in the field we give Europe the opportunity of aiding us.  The main reason urged for negotiation is to spare the infliction of any further suffering on the people.
 
Nothing can be more fallacious than this reasoning. No suffering which can be inflicted by the passage over the [Confederacy] of the [Federal] armies can equal what would fall on us if we return to [Federal control].
 
We shall have to pay the debt incurred by the [Federal Government] in this [invasion], and we shall live under a base and vulgar tyranny.  No sacrifice would be too great to escape this train of horrors, and I think it far better for us to fight to the extreme limit of [the Confederacy], rather than to reconstruct the [Southern States] upon any terms.
 
If I had 20,000 mounted men here I could force Sherman to retreat in twenty days.  Give me a good force of cavalry and I will take them across the Mississippi [River] – and if you desire me to go in that direction it will give me great pleasure to escort you.  I am sorry that we paused to negotiate, for to my apprehension, no evil can equal that of a return to [Federal control].  If you allow me to do so, I can bring to your support many men strong arms and brave hearts – Men who will fight to Texas, and will seek refuge in Mexico, rather than in the [conquered States].  Very Respectively Yours, Wade Hampton.”
 
Hampton wrote a second letter to Jeff Davis on April 22, making the same plea, and adding, “Wish to see you as soon as convenient.” On April 22Hampton and [General] Joe Wheeler traveled to Charlotte by train.  Biographer Edward Longacre would describe the meeting:
 
“The President and his generals thrashed out the details of the [plan Hampton had proposed, which Wheeler supported and which the President viewed as the only way to keep alive the dream of Southern (States] independence. Late in the afternoon, when Hampton and Wheeler left to rejoin their commands, they carried authorization from Davis to form an escort not only by recruiting volunteers, but by impressing horses, weapons and other needed resources.”
 
(Bloodstains, Volume 4, Political Reconstruction and the Struggle for Healing, Howard Ray White, Howard Ray White Publishing, 2012, pp. 34-35)