February 06, 2009

A Yankee Trick

My wife is doing geneological research. She started researching our geneology more than a decade ago and had to put it on the shelf when we adopted our son. She recently began the search for our ancestors again. And she has found it to be tremendously easier with today's technology than it was in the early days of the Internet.

But as she has done her research, other interesting tid-bits have come to light.

As Kim searched for records of her 5-times great grandfather's murder, she found an article about the murder in the Lynchburg Virginia, the newspaper that served the Lynchburg community at the time—“the time” being during the War Between the States.

A contiguous article in the paper that carried the news of her ancestor's untimely death dealt with a shocking revelation about the behavior of the Yankee troops at the battle of Fredericksburg. Here is that article:

SATURDAY,...........................DECEMBER 20, 1862

A Yankee Trick

The report which comes to us through several sources, that the Yankees actually propped up their dead at Fredericksburg to present the appearance of pickets, and cover their design of retreat, must be accepted as veritably true. And what a picture of depravity it presents! We cannot recur to an instance of similar character on record. It is a new feature in civilized warfare. Heretofore, amongst all people claiming to be one removed from barbarism, the first practise after a great battle has been to care for their wounded, and to endeavor to give to their slain the sacred rite of sepulture. But the Yankees rob the grave of its due, that they may turn even the dead to good account. Grinning, ghastly human forms, upon which the process of decay had set in, are festering in the sunlight, to excite loathing and disgust towards those who placed them there—But perhaps, it is fitting that they who came to rob, plunder, and destroy, should be denied a grave in the soil they have desolated. If the fair bosom of Virginia could throb with the impulses which now animate her sons, it would eject those alien enemies who have been pillowed there, and stir up her own patriotic dead to compel their removal from her soil. In the sublime language of the grandest prophet of the old testament, they would say, "Hell (the grave) from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sward, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under foot.—Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people; the seed of evil doers shall never be renounced."

Do these people deserve to be "joined in burial" with ours? Guilty of the grossest inhumanity towards the innocent people whom they invade, and of the most shameful neglect of their own whom they abandon, are they fit to be classed amongst civilized men? They seem to be of a different race and more like Mongol Tartars than Anglo-Saxons. The record of their doings at Fredericksburg, their bombardment of a town full of women and children; their wanton destruction of property of every kind after it fell into their hands; their violation of the universal customs observed towards the dead, and their posting of putrid carcasses like so many scarecrows, to frighten away their enemies, will all tend to sink them to a level with common barbarians.

There is another fact to be deduced from this last named Yankee trick, which will go a great way towards moderating the boasts of the enemy. It proves that they were alarmed for their safety, and therefore resorted to this extraordinary expedient to conceal their flight. Such, we are led to infer, was their panic and fright, that living men could not be induced to take the post of danger to insure the safety of their companions. What an end to the much vaunted "on to Richmond" movement of McClellan's successor!

Lynchb’bg Virginian, December 20, 1862

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