Thursday, August 2, 2012

Post Civil War Horrors!

I'm currently writing a series called Escape to Paradise. It's the story of a group of disgruntled Southerners who left the South after losing the Civil War and headed toward greener pastures. (In my story, they sail for the lush jungles of Brazil!)  But what many people don't know is how bad things became for the South after their defeat. The North was angry and they wanted revenge for their lost loved ones, so they came down upon the south like a fierce judge's gavel.  Here are just a few facts I uncovered during my research.

Defeat covered the South with the gray pallor of hopelessness. Almost every family had lost at least one member or at the least had a family member disabled from the war.

Union troops tore up fences, drove cattle away, burned houses, confiscated lands, and stole food. The civilian population had nowhere to live and little food to eat. Many sought refuge under trees or in borrowed tents. Railroads were torn up, schools closed, banks insolvent, towns and cities reduced to rubble. 

Northern merchants and speculators moved in, taking jobs from southerners. Factories were desolate, merchant ships swept out to sea, livestock consumed, notes, bonds, mortgages, and Confederate currency became worthless. Bands of robbers swept the land. Violence and anarchy ruled.
Southerners could not transfer title or participate in some business activities until they received a pardon from the North. Neither could they hold state of federal office. Northern tax collectors descended to make south pay for the war. They bought land cheap for resale.

Congress declared 150,000 Confederate citizens guilty without trial and deprived them of rights of citizens.
Many confederate officers hanged and imprisoned, while notherners often called for the hanging of regular southern citizens whom they considered traitors Whole towns lay in ruins. 

The landscape “looked for many miles like a broad black streak of ruin and desolation, the fences all gone; lonesome smoke stacks, surrounded by dark heaps of ashes and cinders marking spots where human habitation had stood; the fields along the road wildly overgrown by weeds with here and there a sickly patch of cotton cultivated by Negro squatters.”   

People left because of anarchy, poverty and demoralization. As a consequence nearly 3 million Southerners left the South in the years following the Civil War. Some went to Canada, Mexico, out west, and some went to Brazil to start over in a land where they could be free.


  1. Thurs Aug 2nd,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Thank-you again for sharing more history with us. No, I was not aware of just how bad things became for the Southerners. How horrible indeed ! I can't even begin to imagine it all.
    But I found it totally interesting to see/hear how you chose the story-line for your new book "Escape to Paradise" ...
    Following the Civil War -- some went to Canada, Mexico, out west, and "some went to Brazil" !
    New information I have learned today, re -- 'Post Civil War Horrors'.
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  2. Wow, how sad.

    I can’t wait until Christ comes back and there is no more fighting and war! What a day that will be!

  3. I guess when we think a war is 'over', we tend to assume that it's OVER. The brokeness, hurt and anger are still raging though, as seen in the years after the Civil War. So sad. I never knew this part of the story ... what I've learned or read kind of stopped at the end of the war, and Lincoln's assassination.
    I'm looking forward to the new series! :)

    On a side note ... my son keeps looking over my shoulder at your blog page as I type. He sees your picture in the right side bar with the pirate hat on and is quite thrilled that I'm writing a mesasge to Elizabeth Swan. ;)

  4. Good morning, Ladies! Yes, I was shocked also when I learned the depth of cruel destruction the South endured. It makes me realize why, even today, there is lingering bitterness between the North and the South (I grew up in the South.. first Florida and then Tenn)

    Emma, Amen! Come quickly Lord!! War is nasty business.

    And Caroline, tell your son that Elizabeth Swan greets him and welcomes him aboard the pirate ship, Redemption!

  5. Wow I didn't know that it was that cruel. It's sad. It never seems like history books say that much about what happened.

  6. There's a civil war event in Bolivar, Tennessee that I help out with every year, so I'm familiar with the terrible things that the northerners did that are often neglected to be mentioned in history books.

    There are about 6 houses from the 1800's in Bolivar that lasted the war and are put on tour every year to raise money for their upkeep. I'm a tour guide in one of them every year. It's called the Bolivar Home Tour. It's quite interesting, so if anyone gets a chance, they should come out to it. It's usually in April or May.

    There's one house, which is now a bed and breakfast, that once hosted Grant and some other northern generals. There's one particularly famous story about Grant and and another infamous one about his wife while they stayed in that area.

  7. Yes, the south was utterly devastated. And yes, even today, there are still numerous people, families, who hold on to the conflicts and losses of the Civil War.
    One of my ancestor family had 7 sons. One son was too young to fight, the other 6 joined in the war. 5 on one side, 1 on the other.
    Even worse,another family had 2 brothers, each a Captain, one for the South, one for the North. In a battle that took the life of the Southern Captain and his father, it was the Northern Captain's company that invaded the town. It is said my Northern Captain "Uncle" did not take part in that battle. The cabin where the battle took place still stands today, bullet holes and all. This was my ggggrandfather's father and his brothers.
    Sorry for the long book today. This is a subject that excites me (my family history, I mean!)
    Thanks for sharing, MaryLu:)

  8. I am a genealogy nut and have done a lot of research on my family. Some do not know that not all had a choice on rather or not to join the Confederate army. This was the case with one ancestor. He was a farmer and did well before the war. He had no slaves but had one paid servant. While he was in the war he would go AWOL during planting and harvest. But would return after those times. He also lost his wife to diphtheria and a son in Gettysburg. After the war, he was penniless and lost his farm. Never recovering, he was found in his house with his throat cut and a bushel basket of worthless Confederate money. I couldn't imagine what life had to been like for everyone in those days!
    Thanks for a great post!

  9. It's sad to think of America fighting two wars to keep her land and then have SC want to leave the Union. The Civil War was horrible, but it kept our nation together. I didn't know that southerners left afterwards. Sad once again to think about a great majority of people not wanting to perserve and reconstruct the nation (or what was left). In some ways I understand why.
    I'm sure this is a very interesting study. How the economy, education, and all former life was recreated. And sadly President Andrew Johnson wasn't all together cut out for the job after Lincoln's death.
    I am wondering if anybody thought of "Gone with the Wind". The movie gives you an idea of the destruction and poverty that came after beauty and wealth. A reminder that such things are so small compared to our promised home in Heaven.

  10. Heather, I never learned about it in school either.. at least not to this degree.
    How very cool, Amanda, that you are a tour guide in such a fascinating piece of our history! I'm jealous. You should email me the stories about Grant and I'll post them here if you'd like. :-)

    Ink in the book, feel free to write your book here any time! I love history and love hearing tidbits about it from others who know it well. It was such a sad thing that families were torn apart.. fighting against each other. I can't imagine.

    Wow,Amy, what a sad tale. I'm sure there are many more like it. Were you related to this man? I didn't know men were forced to join the army but I imagine if they didn't, they'd be called traitors or cowards. So many people lost everything.. many committed suicide after the war. So sad.. it's a wonder it didn't tear our nation apart. Thank God it didn't.

    Jeanie, yes.. I wonder what would have happened if Lincoln hadn't been killed. His view toward the South was much more benevolent and kind than Johnson's. Gone with the Wind is a great example. I've been meaning to watch that again. :-)

  11. Very interesting. I wonder did some of them take any of their former slaves with them and what kinds of relationships were developed? Still waiting for a Christian author to write a wonderful Interracial Christian Romance and will not be afraid to have a African-American or Latino American hero or heroine on the cover of their book.

  12. Yes, some of them did take their former slaves with them.. and some freed slaves went. Brazil still allowed slavery at the time but they wouldn't allow the importation of any more slaves.
    There are many Christian authors who would love to write interracial Romances, believe me, but it's the publishers who are hesitant from allowing it or at least from putting a non-white heroine on the cover. They believe it will impact sales in the negative. I was fortunate that Barbour (my publisher) accepted Veil of Pearls due to the interracial romance between an ex-slave and a plantation owner's son.

  13. wow i am currently writing a report on the civil war and thi tidbit of information was extrmely helpful and interesting .I will be sure to add it inot my essay because this is not something that our teacher tought us ,Maybe even he was not aware .thanks ladies