The barbarians shot pet dogs for fun, stole what food they could carry and destroyed the rest so the people would starve, burned houses, barns, stored food, stored crops, crops in the field, even farming implements so no more food could be grown; they slit

the throats of livestock, threw the carcasses in wells and streams to contaminate drinking water and cause disease in the civilian population at a time when there was no medicine because Lincoln, the great humanitarian, had BLOCKADED it; stabled horses in church sanctuaries and chopped up pews for firewood just for spite, and dug up corpses looking for valuables.

People speak of Camp Sumter in Andersonville, Georgia, where yankee POWs died of starvation and disease, and imply it was done from some innate Southern cruelty. The fact was, Southern soldiers and civilians themselves suffered privation and disease from the lack of food and medicine. The situation at Camp Sumter was exacerbated by the union's refusal to exchange prisoners.

Contrast this with northern POW camps, where funds for food, blankets, and barracks was plentiful but purposely withheld and where prisoners were deliberately tortured. One of the worst was Point Lookout in Maryland. At Elmira, NY ("Hellmira") prisoners were fed potato peels and water fouled with sewage, and prison officials built viewing stands where townspeople could pay a few pennies and look down into the prison yard and entertain themselves watching Southern soldiers suffer.

Remember that winters in the north were brutally cold. Consider Camp Douglas in Chicago, where the union refused to build barracks for overflow prisoners, who were then housed in tents in the Illinois winter, where guards fired guns through the barracks and tents throughout the night to deprive prisoners of sleep, where POWs were made to sit bare-bottomed on blocks of ice, and where they were made to sit astride a thin board high off the ground with weights tied to their ankles.

Makes you proud to be an American, don't it? America's penchant for torturing prisoners of war didn't begin with Abu Ghraib.

After the shooting war, another war against the already devastated Southern people began with the military dictatorships set up over them. There was no civilian law enforcement, so unsurprisingly, vigilante justice sprang up. Today, this self defense from more predation is characterized as hatred of and violence against newly freed slaves, and while some of it was, most was sheer self-defense. As one ex-slave relayed to a WPA Federal Writers Project interviewers, "Now the Ku Klux was different [from slave patrols]. I rode with them many a time. It was the only way in them days to keep order."

The posse comitatus act, which prohibits using the military for civilian law enforcement, was a direct result of the military dictatorship set up to rule the South.

If military oppression wasn't enough, the union installed predatory governments in each state, which piled onto the backs of Southerners debt so massive it could never be paid off (often for the personal enrichment of the government officials).

Is it any wonder the women of the South who had lived through the horror -- saw it, experienced it -- raised monuments to commemorate the men who suffered so horribly and sacrificed their lives to protect them from the barbarism, as much as was humanly possible?

People attempt to attribute the time frame between the end of the war and the raising of the monuments as related to the rise of "Jim Crow", but that is coincidental, not cause and effect.

Dozens of towns had to be rebuilt; even more homes and farms. Agricultural recovery was greatly delayed and lengthened because the predatory yankee army had burned farm implements -- almost ten percent of the supply that existed before the war. Moreover, Southerners were deliberately kept in poverty by carpetbaggers who bought Southern timberland for pennies an acre and paid Southerners, black and white, slave wages to work them. This was also true of mining, textiles and the steel industry in Birmingham. Industry was further stifled by discriminatory freight rates.

by Connie Chastain