Hard feelings still
After the Union passed though
Exclusive: Leading GOP senator ignites outcry over comments about “getting over” Lincoln
By John Byrne | RAW STORY Editor
Senator Lindsey Graham has ignited a new furor in Washington over comments he made over the weekend referring to his state’s difficulty in “getting over” President Abraham Lincoln, with apparent reference to Lincoln’s role in the civil war and the freeing of American slaves, RAW STORY has learned.
“We don’t do Lincoln Day Dinners in South Carolina,” Senator Graham told a Lincoln Day gathering in Tennessee Saturday. “It’s nothing personal, but it takes awhile to get over things.”
According to a Knoxville News Sentinel article published Sunday, Graham entertained an amicable crowd and joked about his predecessor in the Senate, former Sen. Strom Thurmond.
“In theory, I have 50 more years left in the Senate,” Graham remarked.
The article, titled “GOP senator has unifying message,” was picked up upon by the progressive Washington blog DC Inside Scoop.
The Democratic National Committee said Sen. Graham’s remarks were inappropriate and that they echoed comments made by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MI), which resulted in Lott’s removal as Senate leader.
“Joke or not, this is exactly the type of comment that Trent Lott made when he was deposed as leader,” said DNC spokesman Jano Cabrera. “It has no place in public discourse.”
“He should apologize,” Cabrera added.
Graham, who isn't known for playing the race card, is being unfairly attacked. He's not talking about slavery, but the burning of the state capital, Columbia, in 1865. Without context, it sounds horribly racist, but what people don't widely realize is that Sherman's march to the Sea didn't end at Savannah, but continued well into the Carolinas and ended at New Bern, NC in April, 1865. In fact, Sherman's Army of the Tennessee destroyed far more in South Carolina than Georgia. And this is what Graham is talking about. Not some longing for slaves.
Capture of Columbia, S.C.
The truth is," wrote Union Gen. William T. Sherman shortly before leaving Savannah, "the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina. I almost tremble at her fate, but feel she deserves all that seems in store for her." The destruction Sherman's army had caused on its way to Savannah had surely made Georgia howl, but it was mild compared with what detested South Carolina was to face. Here the war had started, and now the first secessionists were to get retribution. One of his soldiers wrote home, "If we don't purify South Carolina, it will be because we can't get a light."
After leaving Savannah on February 5, 1865, Sherman's 60,000 men took a direct line toward Columbia, the capital. Able South Carolina men had long since left for the Confederate armies in distant states, and the Union soldiers faced only token resistance from any organized Rebel troops. Sherman's men foraged liberally upon the native population, and everywhere left little more than clusters of black chimneys to mark the sites of where towns had been. One soldier joked that the name of the town of Barnwell should now be changed to Burnwell. Still, the march was grand and spectacular.
By the night of February 15, the first of the Union soldiers had reached the Congaree River across from Columbia. The next day they sighted their cannon on the State House across the river and fired shells into the heart of the city. Other members of their forces laid pontoon bridges and crossed the river. On the morning of February 17, the advancing blue horde was met by the mayor of Columbia, who surrendered the city and was in turn assured by Sherman that the city and its inhabitants would not be harmed. Even so, as the blue soldiers marched into Columbia, some could be heard to sing, "Hail, Columbia, happy land. If you don't burn, I'll be damned."
The official story was that a cotton mill caught fire, some say from retreating Confederate troops, and it spread through the town.
But union troops were far from unhappy to see Columbia ablaze, since they blamed the state for starting the war. No one in my family was all that upset about it, but I do see Graham's point. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing to apologize for, because every South Carolinian knows he's talking about Sherman's March and not slavery.
Who did start the fire?" (at Columbia S.C.), I feel it is my turn to write. I have Comrade Byers's (5th Iowa) "Diary of a Soldier Under Grant and Sherman," published by The National Tribune some time ago, before me. At this day many events that have escaped our memory tends to revive that spirit of patriotism that entered into our lives when we were called to defend our country's unity, and the feeling is as strong now in our later years as it was then. How much good the incidents written by our comrades at this late day do our old souls cannot be told. They revive us to a younger life, and make us better G.A.R. comrades and better citizens. We love to read the columns of the soldier's friend, The National Tribune. Its weekly coming is as precious as our pensions, and it gives food for the brain as our pension gives food for the body.
Comrade Byers says that Gen. Sherman left with his army the day after the fire. That is not altogether correct. I know that our company (I, 76th Ohio) did not leave for several days. I speak for only my company. I do not know at this day how many others remained in the city. We of the First Brigade, First Division, Fifteenth Corps, entered the city early in the afternoon. I do not claim we were the first; we got there, all the same, and helped to put out the fire. I remember waiting upon the other side of the river while our batteries were shelling the city, and could see the State House plainly before we crossed. We entered the city before night. We had the honor of being placed at different buildings, doing guard duty, as so many of our soldiers were going into the stores before the fire reached them, taking whatever they wanted, as the citizens seemed to have deserted everything. I was guard at a bank, and during the night was right in the midst of the fire. We succeeded in getting an old hand engine on a street, but were unable to use the hose and we abandoned it. I still have a scar on my hand from a cut by glass in a door, which fell out when I closed it. After the building had burned we hunted among the ruins in the cellar for what we could find. I got several chunks of melted silverware as large as two fists. I carried it for some time, but it became heavy, and I threw it away to make more room for hardtack. I got some other pieces of silverware that did not melt. I know of a certain regimental officer who carried in the headquarters wagon silver plate that was gotten from the same building, and was sent to his home. I got an opera glass. One of my company officers offered me $50 for it. I carried it as far as Louisville, Ky., when it was stolen from me by a member of our company and pawned.
We were camped in the yard at a private house. There were no men about, only two women, and they were very thankful for the protection we gave, as so many soldiers became drunk and disorderly. I well remember the night of the burning. Towards morning a most weird and solemn sight presented itself - the Catholic sisters tramping alone in charge of many orphans driven from their home by the fire. After the fire we moved to another part of the city, and again camped in the yard of a private house. We got feather beds out of the houses and used them. We also took a piano into the yard and played upon it for a while, then broke it up to burn for cooking. Most of those houses were deserted by their owners, and of course, what was there belonged to us. It will never be known how many of our soldiers were burned with the buildings during the fire. I saw one body, all burned to cinders. I knew it was a soldier, for beside the trunk was the barrel of his gun. Where the fire started, or when, or by whom, is a question that no one can answer correctly. We all have our surmises. But I guess the city did not get any more than she was entitled to
posted by Steve @ 7:38:00 PM