Thursday, March 15, 2012

Article: Employment of Savages in War

The Cincinnati Enquirer published this peace on March 15, 1862. Even after having done a lot of reading from the Civil War era, it's still a bit strange (at least to me) to see the use of a term like "savages" and the stereotypes expressed in this article, but this type of thought was not uncommon at that time.

I find it ironic that this story, written from a Union perspective, included African-Americans in the groups of people not to be used as soldiers, yet in the next few years over 180,000 such individuals would serve the Union cause.


Employment of Savages in War
It is reported in the telegraphic accounts of the late battle in Arkansas that the Confederates employed a large body of Indians, and that the latter were guilty of their usual barbarities upon the field. If this is true, an indelible stigma and disgrace will rest upon the Confederates that can not be effaced. In relation to the employment of Indians or negroes in war, eminent statesmen long ago placed upon it the brand of their condemnation.


A noble lord once urged in the British Parliament the employment of the Indians against the British Colonists. in America. He said, this noble lord, that "it was perfectly justifiable to use all the means which God and nature had put into our hands." Then the great Chatham rose and blasted him with an eloquence which has become immortal:

"That God and nature put into our hands! I know not what ideas of God and nature that noble lord may entertain; but I know that such detestable principles are equally abhorrent to religion and humanity. Such notions shock every precept of morality, every feeling of humanity, every sentiment of honor."


"These abominable principles, and this more abominable avowal of them, demand the most decisive indignation. I call upon that reverend and this most learned bench to vindicate the religion of their God, to support the justice of their country. "


"I invoke the genius of the Constitution."

"To send forth the merciless cannibal, thirsting for blood - against whom? Your Protestant brethren! To lay waste their country, to desolate their dwellings, and extirpate their race and name and Instrumentality of these hell-hounds of war, I solemnly call upon your lordships, and upon every order of man in the State, to stamp upon the infamous procedure the indelible stigma of public abhorrence."

We hope to hear, for the credit of the American name, the report contradicted. 

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This story refers to the battle of Pea Ridge and according to this article on the Civil War Trust's website, Pea Ridge was "first sizable battle of the Civil War to involve Indian troops." From this story, actions like some of the horrors the Enquirer article mentioned may have actually occurred.



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