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Millions of Americans believe the Civil War was fought to abolish the
institution of slavery. Because of that mischaracterization we honor
President Abraham Lincoln as one of our greatest leaders, a man who had
the “vision,” “clarity of purpose” and “morality” to “oppose such an
oppressive institution.”

Indeed slavery was “oppressive,” morally wrong and fiendishly
conceived. Anyone — black, white, Christian, Muslim, whatever — that
has ever been “enslaved” would agree, I’m sure. So would most
Americans. But to this day there is a disconnect between the reality of
American slavery and the war which was ostensibly fought to eliminate
it.

Many of you are not going to want to hear this — and the words
following this paragraph likely won’t change your mind — but I’m going
to say it anyway: Lincoln, and not the secession of southern states or
the institution of slavery — was responsible for killing over 600,000
Americans from 1861-1865. And here’s another bombshell for diehard
Yankees who have been lied to like the rest of us for the past 134
years: There were also a great number of willing, voluntary black
Confederates who fought and died for their “country,” the Confederate
States of America.

A newly published interview in the
Southern Partisan speaks volumes on these issues and, in the words of a
black Confederate descendant, dispels most of the myths, rumors and
outright lies about blacks, whites, and their roles during and after the
conflict.

Such truth should be required reading for every liberal race-baiting
opportunist, every congressional delegate, and every current and future
presidential candidate in this country. Because I’ll tell you something:
If we don’t get a handle on the truth surrounding the Civil War,
our country’s history before, during, and after the war, the
constitutional issues stemming from it, and especially the manufactured
racial tensions of the latter 20th century, there’s going to be hell to
pay in the next millennium.

The interviewee, Nelson Winbush, provided the magazine with
irrefutable insight into the life of his grandfather, Louis Napoleon
Nelson, who — at the age of 14 — volunteered to accompany his
master and son, E.R. and Sydney Oldham, into battle in the service of
the CSA. The trio were members of the Tennessee 7th Cavalry, Company M,
and Nelson himself actually saw combat in the battles of Lookout
Mountain, Bryson’s Crossroads, and Vicksburg. Winbush said his
grandfather told him many other blacks did the same thing.

“… My grandfather has been quoted in newspapers, The Commercial
Appeal out of Memphis and the Lauderdale County Enterprise, the county
paper there at home,” Winbush said, “as saying that if he had wanted, he
could have left any time during the War, but he didn’t. So I read him to
be typical” of most blacks who served the Confederacy.

Winbush also denounced today’s pop culture rendition of racism and
deep-rooted, “historical” racial tensions between blacks and whites,
which, the mainstream tells us, dates back to the Civil War. Not so, he
said, according to his grandfather. Winbush said that while growing up
and living in the Deep South, “I’ve had no problem. I’ve done any and
everything I wanted to do at any age. Of course, I wasn’t trying to do
things out of reason. So, I don’t … the South is not a problem. The
problem is with people who are looking for problems or who make
problems, I guess. Regardless of color.”

He added: “Now if racism had existed (in the 1860s) like the Yankees
would like to lead people to believe when the master and his older sons
went off to war — and we’re talking about the boys 12 years old and
older — who is left to take care of the missus and the children? Did
anything happen to them? No. They were respected, guarded and taken care
of. If racism had existed like the Yankees want you to believe it
existed, explain to me how in the world all of those white babies lived
sucking a black mammy’s (breast).”

Of those who see racism everywhere, Winbush added, “The people who
are saying that, most of them, where do they live? Where do they come
from? And what do they represent? The majority of them?”

“I guess they’re newspaper reporters,” said the interviewer.

“That’s right. And you see, this country is controlled by that old
dirty Yankee money that controls the media. That’s the electronic media
and the printed media. See, all your major networks, major newspapers,
are controlled by who? Yankees!” said Winbush. “They’re selling papers
and air time. They don’t give a damn what happened or what will happen.
The more controversy that can be stirred up, the more papers they sell.”

And what about the causes of the war and the cause of the
Confederacy?

“Well, secession was perfectly legal the way the Constitution was
written,” Winbush said. “Lincoln decided he wanted to declare war on the
South. So, when the South was invaded the Southerners saw fit to defend
their homes.”

His account is corroborated in an 1899 world history text, “Lee’s
World History.” At the turn of the 19th century, U.S. historians were
still reporting that shortly after southern states seceded, the new
southern Congress sent a delegation to Washington, D.C., in an attempt
to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the north. Lincoln gave his
assurances that during these negotiations, Fort Sumter — which was besieged by Confederate troops –
would not be reinforced. He broke that promise, and when Confederate
officials discovered that an armada of northern ships, stocked with
supplies and men, was enroute to Sumter, they attacked on April 12,
1861.

So much for Lincoln, the man of “principle.”

“The Yankee historians want to make people believe that the war was
about slavery,” Winbush continued. “The war wasn’t about slavery. The
war was about states’ rights and tariffs: they call ‘em taxes now. The
system was skewed toward the North. See, I grew up less than eighteen
miles from the Mississippi River. We used to go down and watch the
barges go up and down the river and I never saw a barge break away going
upstream. Every barge I ever saw break away was going downstream. But it
cost more money to send cotton and other goods and produce up the river
than the refined goods and textiles back down the same river. And the
money always stayed up North.”

Would Winbush have fought for the Confederacy?

“I probably would have been right along there with my granddaddy,” he
said. “You see, what people don’t realize, when the Yankees came south,
they were hoodlums. The first thing they did was rape the black women,
then they raped the black missy girls, you know, those that are
approaching young womanhood. Then the jokers went and got drunk before
they could rape the white women. Well, now if that was enough to make
the white Southerners mad enough to go fight them, then why in the hell
couldn’t the black Southerners be just as angry? He’s had a double dose
before the white Southerner had a first dose.

“Then they proceeded to burn the houses to the ground. Now if the
house I was living in was burned to the ground, would it make a whole
lot of difference whether it was my house or my master’s house?” he
said.

Can Winbush be believed? That’s up to you, but he personally has
reams of letters, pictures, and old newspaper clippings to substantiate
his grandfather’s accounts. You won’t find any of them in today’s pop
culture school history books, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

You will, however, find plenty of references to the lie that the War
Between the States was fought solely on the premise of southern slavery,
buttressed by healthy references to Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation
Proclamation. Never mind that Lincoln himself never believed the war was
primarily about slavery, or that his proclamation was made in typical
political fashion: To reinvigorate a northern population that was
already tiring of the war, its costs and hardships. The ploy worked,
though, and tens of thousands of northern blacks volunteered for
military service; Lincoln got the infusion of manpower he needed by
using a favorite liberal tactic of this century — exploiting a minority
population for political expediency.

The thing to remember here is that unlike most of today’s
race-baiters and politicians, Winbush has no political agenda. He mostly
travels now, is retired and doing very well financially. When he does
speak, he addresses Confederate historical groups and, he says, he gets
favorable ratings from — among others — fellow blacks.

If indeed there is a “racial crisis” in this country today, it is a
manufactured “crisis” for the most part, and its purpose is to
prevent unity, not restore it. There can be no other explanation
for omitting the truth about the most tumultuous time in our history,
nor can there be any denying that the “divide and conquer” tactic is a
well-worn and time-honored practice. It is used mostly by liberal
demagogues but is increasingly being adopted by politicos of all
stripes. Unfortunately, however, all of us suffer the
consequences of such selfish motivation.

As for Lincoln’s culpability in starting the Civil War, ultimately
you’ll have to judge that for yourself. Personally I think the evidence
against him is overwhelming and concrete, and not entirely based on
Winbush’s accounts. History in its most raw form is devoid of bias and
agendas — only those who record it (or rewrite it) are burdened with
such humanistic fallacies.

For my money, however, starting a war that ultimately killed over a
half million of my countrymen is a burden I would not want to carry. The
attempt of latter-day historians to sanitize Lincoln’s actions by
couching them under the premise of “ending slavery” is cruel,
exploitative and a lie. All Americans have suffered for it — though
blacks, again, have suffered most because while they did endure slavery,
they have since had to endure endless attempts by political opportunists
to use their troubled past for the most selfish reasons.

In my indictment of Lincoln I wish to make one final point: The right
of secession was reserved by the original 13 states when ratifying our
Constitution, and as of 1861 had never been questioned, repealed, or
otherwise nullified. Lincoln’s war settled the issue once and for all;
for good measure, the Constitution was amended to solidify the victory.
Before the War, neither he nor any U.S. president had the right to
attack a state for “opting out” of their original agreement any more
than the U.S. government had a right to cheat them out of what was
rightfully theirs to begin with.

The irony today is that the true causes of the Civil War had more to
do with trade, commerce, and tariffs between the states — something to
think about as we rush headlong into “agreements” with such entities
like the WTO.

I applaud men like Nathan Winbush for having the courage to stand up
and refute the myth that the Civil War was fought largely on behalf of
members of his ethnic community. As a black, that must take more
courage than most of us can even imagine. But unless or until more
Americans do that, we’ll continue to hyphenate ourselves from each
other, which will only cause more division. It’s a shame that, in the
year 2000, Americans are still “fighting” this war — for all the wrong
reasons.

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