Saturday, June 29, 2013

Raiders of the Lost Cause


The history of the Southern Confederacy contains numerous tales of feats of daring do.  The Lost Cause certainly had its share of nefarious plots and dark deeds plotted in smoke filled back rooms late at night.  The  Confederacy also had its share of raiders as well.  John Hunt Morgan, raider of Kentucky and Ohio, the CSS Alabama, raider of the high seas, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, raider of Middle Tennessee are just a few of the best ones.  I would be remiss if I did not also mention Earl Van Dorn, raider of Holly Springs.............and other men's wives.

Partially as a result of the Dahlgren Raid, the Confederate government turned to unconventional methods as a way to balance out the Northern numerical advantage.  Though some such plots had always existed (and did in the North as well), when the Confederate government felt that they had been specifically targeted by the Lincoln Administration, they took the gloves off.  (Note that the authenticity of the Dahlgren papers has always been questioned, however, that is beside the point as the Davis Administration believed they were true.)  All of this answers the question of why I would like to eat supper with Judah P. Benjamin.  Besides being a witty, cherubic fellow, as Secretary of State he was involved in setting up some of these Confederate operations.

I have done a tremendous amount of research concerning the Confederate plot to burn New York City.  I had an eye towards writing a book about it.  Indeed, I had one well under way.  However, another fellow beat me to the punch.  His book is good.  And as this is not a topic like Gettysburg that can sustain a million books, I put my project aside.  You can find his book here.  I definitely recommend it.  And you can find a free download of the memoirs of one of the Confederate agents involved in the operation here.

Now the Lost Cause needed an Indiana Jones too.  And believe it or not, they had one.  His name was Thomas Henry Hines.  His story reads like a espionage novel of old.  Hines was one of Morgan's men and in fact was with him when they escaped from the Ohio Penitentiary.  The Northwest Conspiracy was just one of the many things that he was involved in.  After the war, Hines went on to be a respected judge in Kentucky.  A book was published about him in 1954, but sadly it is out of print.  However, you can download a free copy from here.  I'm not normally given to hyperbole, but if you only read one Civil War book this summer, read this one.

I could pontificate at length on this subject, since it is one that fascinates me, but I will bring this to a close by mentioning that we are almost to the 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg.  (You know, that little battle they had in the Eastern Theater.)  And yesterday, the 28th of June, marked the 99th Anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

My name is Lee Hutch and I am a Civil War Addict.  (And something of a World War 1 addict as well.)