All conflicts - even the Civil War - have some protestors
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff
Thursday, 01 March 2012 10:06
(Editor's note: "Josh Franklin's Far Out Family Blog" is 10 chapters of Civil War history focusing on Ohio's role, written in a modern tone. Students, parents and teachers are invited to take the series a little further after reading it, and discuss the topics suggested below. The series is published through Ohio Newspapers in Education and was written by Steven Coburn-Griffis. The illustration is by Isaac Schumacher.)
June 18, 1863
I swear that I will never understand the way some people think. Here we are, my fellow soldiers and I, fighting for the right of things, for the freedom of all men. Fighting and dying, Wilf. Yet here, back in my very own and beloved Ohio, the state of my birth, there are people resisting the Union and our efforts.
I do not understand these Butternuts, Wilf, these Copperheads. They are as wrong-headed in their way as any Johnny Reb. I pray for peace as much as any man. Of this you must surely be aware. But to plead for peace at the cost of our own souls, for how can any less be at stake here should we turn our backs on our brethren, is no plea at all, but a deal with the Devil himself.
God love you, Wilf. Should I ever find that you sided with these ignorants, I will give you such a thrashing as you would never dare have dreamed.
It seems that every war has its protestors, even the Civil War.
I have to admit that I was pretty surprised when I read this. And that sent me right to the computer to find out what's what. I mean, "Butternut" and "Copperhead"?
As it turns out, what my Uncle Ethan was so upset about was a fringe group of the Democratic party, the Peace Democrats. They were teed off about a lot of stuff that the federal government was doing at the time. Conscription, the draft, was at the top of their list. So they protested and encouraged people to either resist the draft or to desert the army, if they'd already been drafted.
Because they felt these kinds of protests were dangerous, even poisonous, to the Union, Republicans at the time called the Peace Democrats "Copperheads", like the snake. From what I could find out "Butternut" was more about the color of the Confederate uniforms.
At any rate, some of the rowdier Peace Democrats really got up to some trouble. In Holmes County, hundreds of Copperheads gathered in what is now Glenmont to fight the draft. News of this got back to Columbus and officers there sent out four hundred soldiers to "quell the rebellion." When the Copperheads got word of this, most just took off. But some decided to stay and set up to fight in an old farmhouse they chose to call Fort Vallandigham. They named it after Clement Vallandigham, a Dayton, Ohio, Congressman and Copperhead leader. Once the Union soldiers got there, there was even a battle … if you can call it that. It only lasted about a minute; maybe five, then the Copperheads jumped out the window and ran away into the woods. It seems that Fort Vallandigham wasn't everything they'd hoped it would be and it earned a new nickname with the locals.
They called it Fort Fizzle.
Chapter six: questions and activities
Locate Glenmont and Holmes County on a map. How far from your school is Glenmont?
Traveling at 55 mph, how long would it take you and your class to visit there?
Do you think it was important to put down this rebellion? Why or why not?
Uncle Ethan has slang terms for enemy soldiers, including "Johnny Reb". Josh is surprised by this. Research past wars and conflicts to discover slang terms used for the opposition.
Why do you think people did this? Do we still? Why or why not?
Last Updated on Thursday, 01 March 2012 10:13