Defeated South


[America, 1865] America, 1865. In a bitterly fought Civil War, the Northern states were victorious in the end. The Union prevailed. After that, the South was ruled by the military, and war profiteers came in.

After the war

Thinking of General Sherman and his policy of scorched earth in Georgia, Annelie shuddered. The South … for her, it began close-by, with her brothers Joseph and Ben in Virginia and all the people with whom she had grown up. They all they needed her now. Food, seeds, tools … soon Annelie had set up a long list, a little later, the first carload was ready for transport. With Amber at her side, she set out for Virginia.

The “Merry Dragon” inn was still a field hospital. One of the last patients was a captain in the Union Army. Lorenz and he often had a talk about how their country could go on. President Abraham Lincoln wanted to be lenient towards the South, but he was assassinated on Good Friday 1865, a heavy blow on many people. “The war is over, but we don’t have peace yet,” the captain said, “There is so much hatred.”

Finally, the day came when the captain could go back home. Much to Lorenz’ surprise, a dozen men stood in front of the Merry Dragon Inn. The captain, however, was all smiles. “These are engineers and craftsmen from my unit,” he proudly said. “As a start, we will go to the Shenandoah Valley and help your family rebuild the vineyard.” Lorenz was stunned and deeply touched. “But … but,” he stammered, “it is in Virginia, in the South!” The captain smiled. “We agreed about that,” he said, “It is time to heal our country’s wounds.”

Emil and Lena will come

A couple of days later, Lorenz received a letter from Germany. All his relatives and friends on the Rhine had feared for them and were heartbroken over Heinrich’s and Rebecca’s death. They all had saved up money so that Lorenz’ cousin Emil and his young wife Lena, the winemakers, could travel to America and help rebuilding the vineyard. Sophie and Andras would not celebrate their wedding while their relatives in the United States suffered.

Carl Schurz’ “Report on the condition of the South”

During the War, Schurz served in the Union Army, he was brigadier general of Union volunteers in April 1862. Immediately after the war, President Andrew Johnson had sent him through the South to study conditions. Everywhere he saw destruction and devastation, and countless Southerners would have to live in poverty for years. Many of the old elites had only yielded to the force of arms and were not willing to accept the new order, especially to see the former slaves as fellow human beings and citizens of the same country. All that stood in his “Report on the condition of the South”, yet the president did not want to read it. Only upon the Senate’s request the report was published. The hardliners prevailed.

The South was military occupied and governed. Even more evil came with the war profiteers, the “carpetbaggers’ who wanted to profit from the defeat of the South. In the Deep South, the Ku Klux Klan terrorized ex-slaves and whites who wanted to help them.

In Washington, the “spoils system’ ruled – the state officials were hired and dismissed by party membership, not by capability. Under President Ulysses S. Grant, corruption was rampant and the President himself was involved in it. Eventually, the Republican Senator broke with the Republican President.

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