By Gary Farrow, Danville VT Historical Society
The times were very bleak indeed for the North: the President was flopping around on the race question; a shockingly swift military reversal had just occurred in the east; and the Federal government was fighting with the judiciary here in Vermont. Meanwhile, the Ninth Vermont suffered a reversal of fortune.
North Star–September 6, 1862
The President’s Colonization Scheme
Senator S. C. Pomeroy of Kansas by request of the President consented to organize emigration parties of free colored persons for settlement in South America and has been commissioned accordingly. This gentleman’s success in organizing “Emigrant Aid Expeditions” from Massachusetts for the purpose of getting control of Kansas for the Free Soilers is looked upon as an encouragement for the present scheme. The Government proposes to send the emigrants in good steamships and provide them with all the necessary implements of labor and also sustenance until they gather a harvest.
Senator Pomeroy’s address proposes to take with him on the first day of October next, 100 colored men, as pioneers in the movement with their families to Chirigui in New Granada [Nicaragua], if the place on examination is found satisfactory and promising. He desires all persons of the African race, of sound health, who desire to go, to send him at Washington their names, sex, age, numbers and post office address… He wants mechanics and laborers, earnest and sober men, for the interests of a generation, if may be, are involved in the success of this experiment, and with the approbation of the American people and under the blessing of God it cannot fail.
Abolitionists were mortified by the Central American project. Frederick Douglass raged that Lincoln, based on his statements that blacks should be given an equal chance at “the race of life,” was contemptuous of blacks and hypocritical. Many Republicans opposed colonization, calling it racist and inhumane. However, conservatives lambasted the Republicans “for ignoring the immutability of racial differences.” One conservative stated that abolitionists “may prattle as they wish about the end of slavery being the end of strife,” but “the great difficulty will then begin.” Ultimately, the Congress appropriated $600,000 for the effort. As one Republican said, “Colonization is a damn humbug. But it will take with the people.”
Senator Pomeroy did successfully recruit hundreds of emigrants; however, this colonization project fell apart with opposition of host countries Nicaragua and Honduras.
North Star–September 6, 1862
Gen Pope’s Retreat
When Gen. Pope assumed command of the Army of Virginia, he issued a bombastic address to his soldiers, one of which is as follows:
“In the meantime I desire you to dismiss certain phrases I am sorry to find much in vogue among you. I hear constantly of taking strong positions and holding them – of lines of retreat and bases of supplies. Let us discard such ideas. The strongest position a soldier should desire to occupy is one from which he can most easily advance against the enemy…. Success and glory are in the advance – disorder and shame lurk in the rear.”
The General who undertakes to conduct a campaign against such officers as lead the rebel armies without care for strong positions, lines of retreat and bases of supplies there by shows himself unfit for command. Fortunately for Gen. Pope and his brave soldiers and for that great cause in which they are engaged, he did not act so senselessly as he wrote; … – he certainly made good use of those “lines of retreat”… [N.H. Patriot]
Pope’s retreat marked the Union’s second defeat at Manassas. General Lee had completely turned the tables on the North. Less than a month had passed since McClellan’s Army of the Potomac was twenty miles from Richmond. But with an army one-half the size of the combined forces of Pope and McClellan, Lee had orchestrated events to where rebel troops were now within twenty miles of Washington, DC.
As beaten Union troops came streaming back to Washington, Secretary of War Stanton called out for volunteers to go to the front and help with the wounded. Government employees and others responded, but a second debacle would follow the first. Not only was Pope soundly beaten, but some of the volunteers arrived at the front drunk, whereupon they bribed ambulance drivers with whiskey to take them back to Washington instead of to the wounded.
The paper also reports on a conflict between the Vermont courts and Federal authorities over a person’s constitutional right to a speedy trial.
North Star–September 13, 1862
Judge Smalley on Habeas Corpus
We learn from Burlington (VT.) Times that an important decision has just been made by Judge Smalley, on the writ of habeas corpus. The question arose on a writ issued in the case of Deacon Anson Field of Jericho, recently arrested by Marshal Baldwin for uttering treasonable language, and discouraging enlistments. The writ commanded the Marshal to produce in Court the said Field. Between the issue of the writ and the day of the return, the Marshal received the following telegram from the War Department.
Washington, Aug 30, 1862
To C. C. P. Baldwin, U.S. Marshal:
Pay no attention to the habeas corpus for the liberation of … Field and if any attempt be made to liberate them from custody, resist it to the utmost, and report the names of all who may attempt it.
By Order of the Secretary of War
I.G. Turner, Judge Advocate
When the case came on for hearing, Lieut Gov. Underwood on behalf of the Sheriff and Marshal made a return stating that the arrest of Field was under the order of Secretary Stanton, relating to discouraging enlistments, dated Aug 8, 1862; and that under the order of the Secretary of War, suspending the writ of habeas corpus in such cases: and also in consideration of the telegram from the War Department, Messrs [Marshal] Baldwin and [Sheriff] Flanagan without intending any disrespect for the Court declined to produce the body of Field.
Hon. Gen. Edmunds and Wm. G. Shaw counsel for Field, argued that this return was not sufficient and that the refusal to bring him into Court was a contempt on the part of the Marshal and Sheriff.
Judge Smalley, then, after stating that Secretary Stanton and his subordinates had no power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, decided that the return was not in accordance with the writ; and that he would give Marshal Baldwin and Sheriff Flanagan four hours to produce Mr. Field…. Marshal and Baldwin declined to produce the prisoner.
This case will bring directly before the Court the question of the right of Government to suspend the writ of habeas corpus when, in its discretion, in the cases of insurrection or invasion, the public safety requires it. Judge Taney decided more than a year ago in a similar case, that the arrest was illegal, but had no power to enforce the writ he only issued a written protest against the act. And in this case a decision of the Court similar to Judge Taney’s would practically amount, doubtless, to as little as that decision.
It is, however a very important question involving as it does the liberty of the citizen. There can hardly be a more dangerous power that permits a Marshal or Sheriff to arrest, at the pleasure and without process, a peaceable citizen whose only offence is the utterance of what in the Marshal’s judgement of a disloyal sentiments, and if exercised at all, it should be with the utmost care against abuse.
North Star–September 27, 1862
Ninth Vermont Taken Prisoner
For the first time since the commencement of the war (says the Green Mountain Freeman) we are called to chronicle the surrender of an entire regiment of Vt. troops – not however, from any want of bravery in the men or lack of skilled officers. The Vt Ninth were among the troops which surrendered at Harper’s Ferry last Monday.
They had been stationed at Winchester under Col White… White’s command evacuated that place and proceeded to Harper’s Ferry, where they arrived the next day. They left some eighty sick soldiers belonging to the regiment at Winchester in charge of Surgeon Carpenter, simply because they had no ambulances or means of transportation to take them off. These sick men were undoubtedly taken prisoners when the rebels occupied Winchester.
It does not appear whether the regiment was or was not seriously engaged in the fight, which resulted in the surrender of Harper’s Ferry… the men had all been paroled by the rebels.
We see it stated that the paroled prisoners of Col Miles are immediately to be sent Northwest, to be used in suppressing the Indian outbreak. If this be true, we presume the Vermont Ninth will go with them to Minnesota.
A paroled prisoner could not fight in Civil War battles, thus the chance they would be sent to the Northwest. According to the Revised Roster of Vermont Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion, the paroled men were actually sent to Chicago, but under prisoner exchange in January 1863, could once again do battle.