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(NOTE: the first section below is an initial "how-to" section. The Introduction section is below--please scroll down! This on-line version omits endnotes.)
Discovering the "Vanished Hand and the Voice That is Stilled" Researching Your Civil War Ancestors
Did you ever wonder about your own Civil War ancestors and their experiences? Don't assume it's too tough or complicated for you to find out lots of intriguing information about them! One good day's research on the Internet, in a genealogical library, or at the state archives will turn up more intriguing information than you may imagine.
This appendix is a good starting point to help you begin your search, containing tips about genealogical, historical, and military sources, as well as some observations about organization and technique. You may wish to skip directly to the endnotes and bibliography, and use them to direct you straight to the sources you need. After all, this book comprises thirty-seven related, but separate, case studies in the genealogical and historical research techniques outlined here.
Each researcher has personal reasons for pursuing such a project. Shape your project the way you want to shape it, based on your own research goals. Select what you need, rather than feeling constrained to follow a "connect-the-dots" approach that locks you into a method that worked for someone else. If you simply want to find out the identity of your Civil War ancestor and his unit, this appendix will show you how to do it. Likewise, if you intend to replicate the scope of this book, you can find what you need to undertake the task.
Although it is important to try your best to identify your goals right at the beginning of your work, don't be surprised to find your interests growing as the project takes on a life of its own. This is why most genealogical primers stress an organizationally intensive approach that ensures maximum efficiency in record keeping. The prospective beginner is often intimidated by complex procedural outlines that imply weeks or months of exhausting study before even beginning research! If you are unsure what you want to learn about your Civil War ancestor, just jump right into the middle of it without worrying too much about efficient search procedure. Wade into the existing sources and grab up everything that seems relevant from Internet websites, library books, or archival records. If you enjoy the discoveries of your first few hours of research, you can always stop and reorganize your initial material to facilitate further work.
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To help you in your quest, consider four levels of research that will match your goals to the appropriate methods and resources.
Level One assumes you wish to identify your Civil War ancestor; obtain his military service and pension records; identify and obtain any existing regimental history; and find secondary sources, such as battle or campaign histories, that will help you understand what he experienced.
Level Two is the same as Level One, but with the intention of broadening your research to learn about your ancestor's relatives in a similar degree of detail.
Level Three is similar to Level One, but with a view to deepening your research on one specific ancestor by delving more thoroughly into primary historical and genealogical sources.
Level Four compares to Level Two, but with the intention of digging into primary historical and genealogical sources to deepen your research on your ancestor and his relatives.
Although I distinguish between genealogical and historical sources for organizational clarity, they often overlap in content. The published county history that identifies your ancestor's brother may also include his life story. Likewise, the history of his regiment may include a detailed character sketch of your ancestor.
A NOTE ON INTERNET RESOURCES:
When I began my research in 1994, the Internet was in its infancy, so I commenced my search in the "traditional" way, combing through county histories, census records, state archives, and genealogical libraries. These methods are still useful, and you certainly need to do a lot of this type of work if you wish to progress far beyond Level One research. Anyone beginning their search now, however, should use some simple search techniques on the Internet to save time. You may find critically important information within a few hours (or even minutes) of deciding to commence work, which was unimaginable just a few years ago. Any librarian can teach you basic search techniques in just minutes.
Read about the basic research methods of Levels One and Two at the conclusion of Part I, or consult advanced research techniques (Levels Three and Four) after the Epilogue.
On July 23, 1931, the citizens of San Antonio, Texas, went about the business of making ends meet in the midst of an era of economic hardship later known simply as the Great Depression. At 8:45 on this Thursday morning at his home at 120 Fairplay Avenue, Eugene Mangham bade a sad farewell to his elderly father, 86-year-old Reverend Charles Arthur Mangham, who breathed his last after a month-long struggle with the hemiplegia that paralyzed one side of his body. Reverend D. B. South conducted the funeral services at Eugene's home on the following day, and the bereaved family lay their beloved father to rest in the city's San Jose Cemetery.
The old gentleman left behind a grand family of four children, thirteen grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren, some of whom perhaps recalled tales about a long-ago day summer day 70 years previously when he had left home and family during times of even greater uncertainty. In August 1861, Charles Mangham was a mere boy of sixteen when he marched off to war with his friends and neighbors of Butler County's "Tom Watts Rifles," a company accepted by the Provisional Army of the Confederate States as Company F, 18th Regiment Alabama Volunteer Infantry. Mustering into service at the start of America's greatest national drama, the young lad was among the first of thirty-seven Mangham men and boys to join the Confederate service from the states of the Deep South.
Little could the boy have imagined the stern tests he would face in the months and years ahead: near a one-room country church in Tennessee known as Shiloh Meeting House, where his regiment suffered 120 killed, wounded or missing in April 1862. Or along the banks of a north Georgia creek known as Chickamauga, the "River of Death," where they lost another 297 killed and wounded out of 527 men present for duty. Or at Missionary Ridge, where the young veteran, now a corporal, was captured along with his regimental colors in a desperate action that left but seven privates from the once-proud Tom Watts Rifles to answer roll call. Still less could he have known that he would be one of the very last of his clan to return home in the bitter days of June 1865, after four years of privation and sacrifice had reduced his beloved Southland to ruin and despair.
At least five Manghams never returned home from the service, and wounds or disease broke the health of several others. Many more bore the scars of old wounds and injuries along with their memories of camp and field, victory and defeat. The Confederacy's death agony in the spring of 1865 engulfed at least one veteran in the eerie darkness of mental despair, resulting in his commitment to Georgia's state asylum for the insane until 1867. Most returned successfully to the pursuits of peace, however, and many left marks on the local, state, or regional levels which are clearly visible 135 years later. Many of these men-such as Charles Mangham-were avowedly proud of their service under the Stars and Bars, as evidenced by their membership in the United Confederate Veterans organization that flourished beginning in the 1880s. The ranks of the Mangham veterans slowly thinned out, however, as a new century dawned and the deeds of the 1860s passed slowly into the realm of the history books. Sixty-six years after the war's end, this inexorable process reached its appointed end. Charles A. Mangham became, as far as is known, the last of the family's Confederate veterans to "cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees."
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The purpose of this narrative is to explore the experiences of Manghams who wore the gray those many years ago, to the extent that surviving source material makes this possible, and to show what modern researchers can learn about a family's past. In the process, I have tried to learn whatever I could about these men as human beings, as family men and as soldiers, in order to recreate something of their essential natures, as well as to reach some conclusions about their war, their cause, and their society. I suspected my findings would reflect the classic interpretations of the Confederate experience portrayed by Bell Irvin Wiley's study The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy, and indeed they have in large degree. Since the various branches of the Mangham family comprised a passable cross-section of the Deep South's lowland farmers, plantation owners, and tradesmen, it is unsurprising that their individual military careers reflected most of the strengths and weaknesses of the Southern fighting man and his variegated military organizations. As students of the Civil War realize, the distinction between the two is not merely academic.
The resulting narrative thus seeks to develop the separate (but overlapping) stories of thirty-seven different men. They were primarily yeoman farmers, of course, but Frank Mangham was a Mississippi wheelwright and James A. Mangham was a sawyer in Mobile. James O. Mangham was a young plantation owner and schoolteacher in Taylor County, Georgia, while John H. Mangham was a judge in nearby Pike County. Two brothers, Thomas J. and Wiley P. Mangham, owned and edited the Saint Clair Diamond in Ashville, Alabama, prior to enlisting with their employees in May 1861.
Their military ranks spanned the spectrum from private to colonel, including Sam Mangham, who left his prosperous business and plantation in Georgia's Spalding County to serve as both. Most served as "webfoot" infantrymen, although some of them were detailed to man artillery pieces or act as marines aboard gunboats. Henry and William R. Mangham served the guns, while Wiley, Tom, and Bush Mangham joined artillery units, but soon found themselves shouldering muskets in the infantry. Willis Mangham "jined the buttermilk cavalry" in Texas, although his life in the saddle certainly was not the pampered one implied by the Rebel foot soldiers' wisecracking jibe, "Who ever saw a dead cavalryman?" Their service ranged across the crazyquilt of parallel, overlapping, competing, and even conflicting organizations that undertook to defend the Confederacy (or specified portions thereof), and which threaten to bewilder modern readers who mistakenly suppose that the Confederate Army was a monolithic, rational organization. Thus, we see Manghams serving not only in the state volunteer regiments that comprised the bulk of the Provisional Army of the Confederate States, but also in militia units, State Guards, or State Reserves. Sam Mangham was again exceptional in this respect: he served in every one of these categories! Manghams aged 16 to 56 enlisted from Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, and they marched and fought in every single state of the Confederacy, plus New Mexico, Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.
Given their various backgrounds and experiences, their most obvious shared characteristic was their surname. Even that, however, can be deceptive, for they lived in an era of developing literacy and evolving surnames. The name Mangham, as they rendered it, seems to have crossed the Atlantic by the 1660s from England, although family lore then (and since) often identified it as Irish, Welsh, or even French. Probably due to phonetic spelling, Mangham often became Mangum, a version that predominated in Virginia and the Carolinas long before the Civil War. Many obviously pronounced their name with a trill, thus producing the variants Mangrum or Mangram, which dominated in Tennessee by the same time.
The Solomon Mangham family group, which migrated from the Carolinas into central Georgia in the late 18th century, intentionally revived and formalized the spelling Mangham, however, based on their study of existing records. One of Solomon's nephews, James C. Mangham, was a Georgia state senator when he wrote to his close kinsman Willie Person Mangum in 1823, upon the latter's election to the United States Senate. James observed that "on Examining the Register of names from England Ireland and wales-I find that the original name In Ireland-Is Spelt-Mangham-which Has been the cause of the alteration in the Spelling the same-the family is Numerous here." Most of the Southerners who spelled their name Mangham by the time of the Civil War were thus descended from Solomon or James C. Mangham. These wartime Manghams traced their ancestors to Georgia at the turn of the century, and through them to Granville, Orange, and Wake counties in North Carolina, thence to Surry and Isle of Wight counties in Virginia.
Two sons of Solomon's brother Joseph Mangum were the primary exceptions to this rule. One, William Mangham, moved to Georgia about the same time as his Uncle Solomon, and the two maintained close contacts in Hancock and Putnam counties. William and his sons established a solid record of prosperity and public service in Putnam and Henry counties before moving across the Chattahoochee to newly opened territories in Russell County, Alabama. The family of William's brother, Josiah Thomas Mangum, emigrated from Granville County to western Georgia and eastern Alabama in the late 1820s. There, several of his sons adopted the spelling Mangham while living amidst their numerous well-established cousins; several other sons nevertheless retained the spelling Mangum after moving to Texas. The ongoing westward migrations of this period resulted in the influx of numerous other Mangum and Mangrum families into the states of the Deep South, where most retained their now-accustomed spellings alongside their Mangham cousins and neighbors.
My subsequent research on the Civil War connections of the Mangham family has therefore involved a significant amount of genealogical detective work aimed at distinguishing my intended subjects from their much more numerous Mangum and Mangrum relatives. I have placed much of this evidence in endnotes or the Genealogical Appendix, except where it contributes to placing individuals and family groups in the appropriate context. The census data so essential to this aspect of my research played a major role in identifying many aspects of a Civil War soldier's personal life, however, both before and after the war. Especially when combined with information derived from agricultural production schedules, slave censuses, tax rolls and the like, this census material, even with its limitations, provides a gold mine of data about families, occupations, economic status, literacy, and settlement patterns. Published county histories and genealogical publications on Mangham and Mangum families have proved extremely useful in expanding upon these primary sources, as have articles and obituaries from 19th and 20th century newspapers.
The National Archives' official Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR) served as the fundamental source of specific information about each soldier's military service, although I have made use of many other types of unit records from state, local, and national archives. I must stress that the original Confederate muster rolls, which comprise the backbone of the CMSRs, offer us a series of snapshots of unit strength, typically at two- to four-month intervals in the very best cases. As such, they fall far short of providing a seamless narrative of each man's service career. A soldier marked "present" on the day of a given muster formation could have been absent for any number of reasons since the preceding muster, and we probably would not know unless his Orderly Sergeant made a notation on the muster roll. Indeed, many units actually mustered weeks or months after the dates for which they mustered, and one finds that they did not always record this deviation explicitly, despite regulatory requirements to do so. Therefore, a soldier's presence or absence at any given battle is difficult to determine with absolute accuracy, unless additional evidence (such as records of wounds, capture, or death) provides the necessary confirmation. I have treated this ambiguity with due regard, without unduly cluttering the narrative with caveats.
I have used the justly famous War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies as my primary source of material for each unit's military activities. In many cases, archival sources, published memoirs and unit histories have allowed me to supplement this information to a greater or lesser degree, as have published county histories and other secondary sources. Taken as a whole, these sources have allowed me to depict, at least to a significant extent, the war as each Mangham soldier experienced it, although the quality and quantity of available source materials varied widely from case to case. To my regret, in only two instances have I succeeded in finding a description of the war in the soldier's own words. Since the Georgia Department of Archives and History has preserved the wartime letters of Pvt. Willoughby Hill Mangham on microfilm, I was able to use his own words to help portray his experiences in the 11th Georgia Volunteers. Thomas Jefferson Mangham wrote a series of letters to his uncle's newspaper in 1861 and 1862, and these missives to the Jacksonville Republican provide thoughtful insights about life in the 25th Alabama Infantry. Official correspondence survives from many of their cousins, as do postwar letters and articles, wartime letters by close comrades, and other primary sources.
Willoughby, Tom and their Mangham kinsmen in Confederate uniform served in many different units and at varying times and places, thus posing a major challenge to organizing a coherent narrative of their experiences. The problem is multiplied by the fact that brothers often fought in completely different theaters of war, while cousins sometimes served in the same regiment and shared the same experiences. Consequently, organization by family group risked some repetition in narrating military events. Using a theater of operations as an organizing principle, however, would have isolated close relatives from each other in the narrative, negating much of the human drama inherent in their stories. I have therefore sought to blend both approaches, while retaining my reliance on family groups as the structural framework of each soldier's story. In the process, their widely varying experiences serve to illustrate numerous perspectives of the South at war, as well as providing a significant level of detail on the activities and personalities of many Confederate units.
Of course, the story of Mangham Confederate soldiers and their lives is not one that is explicitly about slavery per se, but the South's "peculiar institution" was at the root of the Confederacy's existence. I had hoped to find plentiful evidence of the Manghams' views on the entire issue, but the dearth of anecdotal information has forced me to content myself, in large part, with statistical information about slave ownership. The assiduous search for statistical data, however, facilitated a number of inferential conclusions which are probably more important historically, although much less satisfactory for the task of weaving a historical narrative about individual Mangham Confederates and their families. In the first place, the complex pattern of slave ownership apparent among the various Mangham families in the Deep South highlights potentially serious flaws in commonly cited statistics about the relatively low percentage of Confederate soldiers who "had a stake in slavery." Such statistics commonly rely upon assessments of the number of soldiers who owned slaves. Assertions of this genre are sometimes used defensively, even reflexively, to buttress the argument that the "war wasn't really about slavery after all," since many soldiers never owned slaves. Many serious modern analysts interpret the evidence in this way, based on their evaluation of the available information. Their readers often encounter such assessments of "slavery-connectedness" as a jumping-off point for insightful, even spellbinding, examinations of Confederate motivation for secession, enlistment, or combat. It seems clear, however, that these assessments are ripe for renewed analysis.
Whether the proponents of these statistically based assessments are defensive, scurrilous, or serious in intent, my examination of Mangham Confederates suggests limitations inherent in the "first premises" of such studies. In the first place, any extensive analytical work with ante- or post-bellum census data quickly forces the researcher to wrestle with numerous inaccuracies. Any well-grounded genealogist could tell us this, but I have encountered precious few historians who acknowledge the possible implications for an analysis grounded upon fine distinctions, e.g. exact numbers of slave owners, or minor distinctions between the numbers of slaves they owned. Historians must beware of simple errors in census counts for one thing; the overwhelming number and type of errors relating to their owners' names, genders, ages, birthplaces, literacy, school attendance, and property ownership makes one leery about much of the slave-related data, to be sure! The fault was not all with the census-takers, of course, although some of them were clearly taxed to the limit by the job of organizing, conducting, and recording their enumeration. One senses that they often fell victim to informants who began their answers with, "Well, I reckon. . .", at which point the proceedings took on the nature of educated guesswork.
My research on these Mangham Confederate soldiers involved a great deal of work in tax records, and it soon became utterly unremarkable to note discrepancies between census and tax records regarding every type of property, whether slave or real estate. Part of this results from simple error, and part perhaps from monetary concerns of valuation and taxation. Clearly, however, some of the variation was due to the fact that slave owning was a dynamic business, like any other economic activity. The man who owned five slaves in 1858 tax records might own none in 1860, or he might own ten. Sometimes the cause for the change doubtless was natural increase through birth or decrease through death, and sometimes it was due to the owner's financial status at a given point in time. Additionally, the man who owned a certain acreage and number of slaves in a given county under study often owned significant acreage in other counties or states. Sometimes his slaves lived and worked there, possibly under his name or sometimes under his agent's name, where they remain difficult to trace to the true owner. In any case, it is very easy to miscalculate a man's economic status based on the snapshot view provided by a discrete census entry. John N. Mangham of Pike County, Georgia, owned thousands of acres of land in other counties, but one would never know to look there without examining tax records.
These errors are minor in magnitude, however, compared to a much more fundamental problem with the typical statistics-driven analysis. In no case does a survey of census data allow historians to draw conclusions about slave ownership based on a family's propensity for slave ownership, much less the extended family's propensity for it. These are crucial distinctions, even in light of the reality that some men and women made purely individual decisions about slave ownership, just as they did on a wide range of other issues, whether it be marriage partner, choice of profession, or the sale price of a bale of cotton. Given the popular history of "rugged individualism" and our modern-day geographic mobility, however, it may be too easy to conclude mistakenly that each man "was an island" in 1860. Despite these powerful modern images, only one of the thirty-seven Manghams who enlisted in the Confederate Army lived demonstrably alone and apart from his immediate family, and this man, Willis Mangham, originally moved to Washington County, Texas, on the trail of his deceased brother Nathaniel. On the contrary, most Manghams were absolutely surrounded by an intricate kinship network, and those who emigrated commonly followed (or led the way for) brothers, fathers, uncles, in-laws, and cousins.
Documentary evidence indicates that only nine of the thirty-seven Manghams in the Confederate Army personally owned one or more slaves during or before the Civil War, which seems to support existing studies that emphasize how few soldiers were directly involved in the "peculiar institution." Of the twenty-eight not confirmed as personally owning slaves, however, at least twenty were sons of families who did own slaves in 1860. At least six of the remaining eight lived in very close association to aunts or uncles who owned slaves. Only two youngsters have no clear-cut connection to relatives who owned slaves. Bush W. Mangham enlisted in Butler County, amid the cotton lands of Alabama's "Black Belt," and probably near the plantation of his aunt, Rhoda Callaway Mangham Moore. Her deceased husband, Thomas H. Mangham, and her second husband, Seborn Moore, both owned slaves. John S. Mangham, an orphaned youngster in Mary Croley's household in McDonough, Georgia, was apparently a grandson of James M. Mangham, a small farmer and slaveowner in neighboring Butts County. If my genealogical conclusions are correct, then, every single Mangham Confederate soldier had close paternal family associations with the institution of slavery. The already one-sided nature of these figures does not even attempt to account for the slave-owning propensities of the Manghams' in-laws. Although such research lay outside the scope of the present inquiry, fragmentary evidence indicates that their story would be essentially the same.
Although limitations of scope obviate any assertion that the Mangham Confederates were statistically "typical" of Southerners in general, it seems clear that they typified Dixie's lowland farmers in many respects. While many lived in or migrated to hilly areas, none lived in the mountainous areas well known for bare subsistence agriculture and Unionist views, such as north Georgia and Alabama, East Tennessee, or the Ozarks. On the contrary, the extended Mangham family largely reflected historian Frank Owsley's thesis in Plain Folks of the Old South, in which he asserts that Southern emigrants in the early 19th century sought cheap frontier lands that looked and felt like the homes they left back east. Likewise, they strove to gain the prosperity to buy more lands and the slaves necessary to help work them, and thereby rise to the economic level of the comfortable farmer or small planter. The Manghams' specific social aspirations remain unclear, but their families and individual members repeated this economic pattern over and over again. Some may have eschewed slave ownership on principle, and perhaps others manumitted their slaves after a change of heart, but no such evidence ever came to light during my research. Indeed, it seems that just about every Mangham of that era owned slaves if he could afford them.
Unfortunately, the lack of documentary evidence has made it impossible to offer any conclusions about the Manghams' treatment of their slaves, their individual views on the morality of the "peculiar institution," or other related, albeit socially brissant, topics. In the absence of documentation that would facilitate worthwhile social analysis, one presumes that most of them exemplified the sternly paternalistic approach that appears to have been common among slave owners who themselves were hard working, God-fearing people. Some may have been lazy, vicious hellraisers or "no accounts," but county histories rarely record such people and most obituaries benignly omit such characterizations. In no case did a Mangham's military or civilian record indicate any such misanthropic tendencies. The Simon Legree image of the vicious slave driver had a basis in reality, of course, and its emotionally loaded, uncompromising quality was one that helped bring the great national debate on slavery to bitter fruition in civil war. Many of slavery's supporters tried to explain to abolitionists, foreigners, and Northerners in general that the Legree-types were social outcasts and faced legal sanction for their misdeeds, and their motivations for such explanations doubtless spanned the entire spectrum. For some, it must have been an essentially accurate reflection of slavery as they practiced it and saw it practiced; for others it was merely a cynical attempt to manipulate opinion, and nothing else.
Nevertheless, every slave owner was a practitioner of a socioeconomic system that was hard-pressed to remain on a firm ideological foundation amidst a Western civilization in the throes of the great liberal revolutions of the 18th and 19th century. The post-Enlightenment Liberal idea, which asserted the grand natural imperatives of liberty and equality, was evolving and expanding continually, as it does still, and some Southerners already had concluded that chattel slavery was morally unsupportable. Although the breadth of such dissent is a disputed issue among modern historians, it seems clear that this was still an avant garde opinion at best. Perhaps many worried about it, but relatively few concluded to act upon such doubts by freeing their slaves.
After decades of increasing debate about slavery, which was the primary ingredient of a witches' brew of states-rights issues including tariffs and territorial settlement, the distracted country faced a presidential election in November 1860. In the Deep South, where the Manghams lived, adult white males could vote the Democratic ticket, either for Stephen A. Douglas or John C. Breckenridge, or they could support John Bell, who headed the Constitutional-Union ticket. Bell's platform was vague on the crucial issue of slavery, emphasizing the need to uphold constitutionally protected rights, while remaining politically unified. Since pro- and anti-slavery advocates argued endlessly over the constitutional basis for their views, Bell's stance did little more than hold out the prospect of continued wrangling over the issue that was rending the very fabric of the American polity. Stephen Douglas represented the northern wing of a fractured Democratic Party, and his "popular sovereignty" platform asserted that the settlers of each territory should decide the fate of slavery within its boundaries. Kentuckian John Breckenridge received the nomination of the Southern wing of the Democratic Party, on the constitutional principle that one's rights to property were inviolate in all of the territories, regardless of any locally imposed attempts to restrict the practice. Specifically, Breckenridge supporters insisted that Congress take positive action to reinforce the judicial precedent rendered in the rancorously disputed Dred Scott case of 1857, which confirmed the inviolability of slave property throughout the territories.
Abraham Lincoln's name was not even on the ballot in the Manghams' polling places, as his infant Republican Party had no organization in the Southern states. The Republicans comprised abolitionists and Free-Soilers as core-level interest groups, and their platform called for positively prohibiting slavery's expansion into the territories. In a country whose society, economy, and political structures were largely predicated upon geographical expansion and mobility, such a platform promised the ultimate extinction of the "peculiar institution." It was only a matter of time before numerous territories (and future territories) became states, and Republican logic seemed to guarantee that every single senator and representative from the future states would espouse anti-slavery views. The concept of prohibiting slavery in the territories also equated to codifying the moral condemnation of slave owners, since their social and economic organization would thus be adjudged as meriting explicit legal prohibition in most of the country. Although Lincoln expressed his determination to leave the "peculiar institution" unmolested within its existing boundaries, any Republican vote amounted to a vote for the rejection of slavery and condemnation of slave owners.
For anyone who may have owned slaves as a mere matter of convenience, as opposed to conviction, the Republican view promised an economic upheaval at the very least. The loss of slave property, whether sooner or later, thus required a complete reordering of such persons' economic lives. For Southern whites who embraced their society as it currently existed, however, any concept of immediate abolition or gradual emancipation opened a veritable Pandora's Box of trials and tribulations. Where would the freedmen live? How would they make a living? What political rights would they have? Where would they attend school to learn the basic skills necessary to exercise their new responsibilities? How would they fit into a society that prided itself that every man was equal to the next, but really meant only white men? As chattels, their station was clear, but every single political, social, legal, and economic mechanism in society would require fundamental change after emancipation.
Although these may seem like lame and ineffectual rationalizations to late-20th century Americans, we should tread respectfully and somewhat self-consciously upon the graves of the past. Anyone can see that we continue to struggle today with the tremendously complex socioeconomic problems arising from slavery itself, as well as the nature of its eventual overthrow, and no modern observer dares minimize the impact of economic factors on the democratic process. On the purely practical side, most Northerners in 1860 had little need to seek a solution. Few blacks lived there, so it was not their problem. Many cared little for either abolitionists or slave owners, but abhorred the threat to national unity posed by the festering question of slavery. Southerners did not have the luxury of choosing any such "ostrich" solution even had they wanted one. In 1860, even those who may have favored some mechanism of gradual emancipation found themselves confronted squarely by a Republican Party whose views clashed fundamentally with theirs. Southerners considered that a Lincoln victory would amount to an overthrow of their rights as free and equal citizens in the country, as their society would, in essence, be branded outlaw. The individual signposts along the route to social extinction might remain hazy, but the end of the line seemed clear enough; it would be only a matter of time. Such a conclusion spelled danger indeed for America's body politic, for Dixie still relished the code duello, albeit informally rather than as a matter of law, and abolitionist condemnation of their society was both intended and accepted as an insult. In their society, an insulted individual was likely to "demand satisfaction."
In his classic 1941 study The Mind of the South, author W. J. Cash sought to dissect the apparently distinctive nature of the 19th century Southerner. He concluded that the prideful individualism of the backcountry frontier and plantation alike had, as its essential quality, "the boast, voiced or not, on the part of every Southerner, that he would knock hell out of whoever dared to cross him." Against the background of a "simple, direct, and immensely personal" society, this character assured the "perpetuation and acceleration of the tendency to violence." Although Cash believed this tendency to be somewhat juvenile in a psychological sense, he emphasized: "I am very far from suggesting that it ought to be held in contempt. For it reached its ultimate incarnation in the Confederate soldier."
Although it is impossible to determine accurately how these and other factors influenced the Manghams as they cast their votes in November 1860, one presumes that some voted for Bell, as did many Southerners, in the hope that something could be worked out eventually. Many doubtless cast their ballots for Breckenridge, insisting that the slavery question be solved once and for all, and in a manner that explicitly supported their society, past, present, and future. When one assesses both their propensity for owning slaves and their subsequent military records, it becomes clear that most Manghams felt a strong motivation to fight and to keep fighting, once Lincoln secured election, secession ensued, and the Federal government sought to "coerce" seceding states back into the Union. At least four Mangham Confederate soldiers had belonged to prewar militia companies; one of them, along with a second who had no known militia connection, enlisted in a volunteer company even before gunfire erupted at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. A further sixteen enlisted over the course of 1861, while thirteen more mustered in during the great wave of voluntarism in early 1862, spurred on by a string of Confederate defeats and the passage of the Conscription Act. Of the six who enlisted afterwards, only James M. D. Mangham and James O. Mangham had been of military age earlier in the war; the other four were either young boys or older men.
Of all the Mangham men and boys known to be between the ages of 17 and 45 by 1864, only James Green and Robert J. Mangham did not serve in the army. Lamed by a clubfoot from birth, Bob went to Virginia with his brothers and tried to enlist, but apparently had to content himself with performing camp and courier duties. James may have been exempted from conscription due to his profession, or perhaps his service was undocumented amidst the chaos that engulfed northern Louisiana. The only others of military age who did not serve were Robert H. Mangham, a young Methodist minister in Texas who died in 1863, and John N. Mangham, who turned 50 in 1864. John was duly enrolled as a militiaman in Pike County, Georgia, but he was at the maximum age limit for conscription and his position as county clerk was among those formally exempted from military service.
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To a great degree, these men and boys exemplified the hopes, aspirations, strengths, and weaknesses of lowland Southerners of the ante-bellum era. Although the countenances of many are almost obscured by the shadows of time, they generally seem to have been fair specimens of the pioneer stock whence they came. Most were pleasant enough companions for their peers and humble before God, but they certainly shared with their Northern fellow citizens the contemporary Anglo-American sense of superiority and destiny that bode ill for the non-Western, non-Christian peoples they encountered. Strong currents of confidence and pride combined with a dose of suspicion for "Yankees" in the prewar decades to make a dangerous opponent when the shooting started in 1861. Once it did, their pride in past accomplishments matched their confidence in a bright future as an independent nation. Perhaps Cash captured the essence of their outlook:
And down to the final day at Appomattox his officers knew that the way to get him to execute an order without malingering was to flatter and jest, never to command too brusquely and forthrightly. And yet-and yet-and by virtue of precisely these unsoldierly qualities, he was, as no one will care to deny, one of the world's very finest fighting men.
Allow what you will for esprit de corps, for this or for that, the thing that sent him swinging up the slope at Gettysburg on that celebrated, gallant afternoon was before all else nothing more than the thing which elsewhere accounted for his violence-was nothing more or less than his conviction, the conviction of every farmer among what was essentially only a band of farmers, that nothing living could cross him and get away with it.
This, then, is their story.