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November 01, 2004

This may lose a few readers...

...but the Armorer doesn't care. All ya'all ain't payin' a dime for this place.

The Andersonville post touched a few nerves. Some comments and emails just flat stomped on the Armorers remaining nerve. Lucky for the posters/mailers, the Armorer isn't suffering from gout at the moment, or he'd really tear some new assholes.

Let's get something out in the open about the Armorer.

1. He's eligible for membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Hell, he's eligible for membership in the Sons of the Revolution, too. The Armorer is named after a member of the Orphan Brigade. He honors his great-grandfather's service, he does not honor the Lost Cause - even though he is a Federalist at heart, he is, after all a retired Federal.

2. He's not a member. Of either organization. There are reasons for that.

3. He thinks the correct side won the war. He is aware that by the United State's own posturings in the last 100 years, that the Federal Government, to be totally consistent, would have to condemn it's armed resistance to secession. He also notes that Jimmy Carter also feels that way about the Republic in general, given his recent comments on the Revolution. He just throws that in there because, well, because.

4. He understands the 'State's Rights' arguments about the causes of the war. Tough noogies. The war's over, you lost. Be careful what you wish for. If you demand a return to the Status Quo Ante Bellum, because you think the war was un-Constitutional, let us read your blogposts regarding the return of the Southwest to Mexico. Regardless of how you personally feel about how war aims evolved, for whatever reasons they evolved so - on 1 January 1863, the war became about slavery, and as far as the Armorer is concerned, that trumps. Yes, the Armorer *is* aware that the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to Northern states. Really. The Armorer does have some background in the reading of history. Honest. No, he's not really interested in re-hashing the war here, this ain't a Civil War roundtable, which tend to be more war, less civil, unless everyone supports one side.

5. The Armorer is not interested in listening to diatribes about how Abe Lincoln botched the war, made mistakes, caused evil things to happen, etc - coming from the same mouths that mount defenses against the same charges laid against President Bush. Think that through, people. Some internal consistency helps produce regular bowel movements.

6. The Armorer also doesn't care for waking up in the morning while TDY away from Wife, Critters, Hearth, and Guns to read email just breathlessly scoring points for the South, directly or indirectly chiding the Armorer regarding the Eeeevils of the North. The Armorer is perplexed. And a little annoyed. And no, the comments you see on that post are the ones that survived the Armorer's wrath, either for not offending, or as an instructive lesson.

a. The post was about Andersonville. Not "Civil War Prison Camps I Have Known, With Peculiar Emphasis on Southern Atrocity at the Expense of a Balancing Look At Northern Atrocity. Nope. It said Andersonville.

b. The Armorer is wordy enough, without turning into DenBeste. Since the Armorer can't produce the quality of DenBeste, the Armorer does not attempt to be DenBeste. Or Wretchard at Belmont Club.

7. The Armorer also wishes people would Read before hitting Post. This includes their own writing. The shade of Stonewall opined thusly:

Unfortunately the South couldn't support its own armies and its treatment of POWs while poor cannot be compared to the North's deliberate mistreatment of the POWs it held. The North deliberately starved its POWs for which there is no defense. A comparison of mortality rates between both sides prisoners rasies numerous questions. A point you fail to bring out in the article is the kangaroo trial held against Wirtz for his supposed crimes.

The Armorer responds thusly. Gee, Genr'l, the opening paragraph said:

Andersonville sucked. In 1864 the war was not going well for the Confederacy. Grant and Sherman were starting the long grind that would end the war a year later, and the pressure on Confederate resources was high. To relieve some of the pressure on the Army of Northern Virginia, both in terms of security and food supplies, the Confederate government moved the Union prisoners of war from the Richmond area to other camps in the south, establishing a new one, that would be the largest of them, at Camp Sumter, near Andersonville, Georgia. The intent was also to get Union prisoners nearer to food supplies as well, though in the event... that didn't happen.
Emphasis added.

That answers the General's first sentence. The second sentence... the post said Andersonville. People come here to read, but not read books. I chose to stick to my subject. I don't mind the commentary that attempts to 'balance' the story - but I do object to commentary that ignores what I said to make points. If the North did, indeed, deliberately starve prisoners, that is Bad. Whether on the initiative of local commanders, or, worse, as Policy. However, the Armorer wasn't talking about Northern prison camps, and didn't feel the need to expand the post to make Everybody Happy. Though, ironically, he finds himself doing so here, to make a point about whingeing moonbats. (Who don't provide contact info, either.)

Regarding mortality rates, the Armorer spake thusly:

To be fair, Northern POW camps weren't always a lot better, having mortality rates comparable to most southern camps, in the mid-teens.

General Jackson may not care for the "weren't always" qualifier, but the Armorer made note that Union Camps were not much better than Southern. The camps for which the Armorer has data, from which he based his commentary, are:

In the South:

Andersonville: 45,000 prisoners, 12,920 deaths. 29%
Florence, SC: 18,000 prisoners, 2,802 deaths. 16%
Salisbury, NC: 15,000 prisoners, 3,649 deaths. 24%

Total: 78,000 prisoners, 19,371 deaths, 24.8%

In the North:

Camp Douglas, Ill: 30,000 prisoners, 4,454 deaths 15%
Rock Island, Ill: 12,409 prisoners, 1,960 deaths. 16%
Elmira, NY: 12,123 prisoners, 2,963 deaths. 24%
Camp Morton, IN: 12,082 prisoners, 1763 deaths. 15%
Johnson's Island (a comparative paradise, apparently) 12,000 prisoners, 221 deaths. 2%

Total: 78,614 prisoners, 11,361 deaths. 14.4%

Since Johnson's Island is such a rarity (and I'm not taking the time to research it this morning - for all I know it was only open a month) let's strip it out.

Total: 66, 614 prisoners, 11140 deaths. 16.7%

The Armorer is still thinking, on average, he would rather have been a prisoner of the North, than of the South.

The Armorer also covered that here, in a way:

Andersonville also shows the downside of being a prisoner from a winning Army... many times your own side's military success weighs heavily against you.

As for the Ghost of Lee's Right Arm's last virtual calumny - he either didn't read or chose to ignore the following:

The commander of the inner camp, Captain Henry Wirz, was arrested and tried for "conspiring with high Confederate officials to impair and injure the health and destroy the lives...of Federal prisoners" and "murder, in violation of the laws of war." The conspiracy never existed, but in the anger and indignation over the conditions of Andersonville, a military tribunal found Wirz guilty, and he was hanged on November 10, 1865. This was, in all probablilty, a miscarriage of justice.

The Armorer begins to see, General, how, at least in this avatar, you stumbled into your own troops and got shot. (With apologies to the real General Jackson).

Ya wanna piss on the Armorer's boots - you should at least read what the Armorer writes, and not just go into a howling moonbat frenzy. The Armorer wakes up grumpy and under-appreciative of your nuanced parsings of his musings when you are a whingeing drum-beater who does not read what is said, but just angles off on a rant. The good General's response was the best of the rest - so you shouldn't ascribe my vitiriol entirely to his post.

The Armorer was writing about Andersonville - and was as sympathetic to the Southern government as the facts at his command, and his personal experiences of command and war allowed. Offering up illuminating commentary is fine. Just try to pay attention to what's said, not what your predjudices in the matter scream in your ear.