Nicholas Lemann’s Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War can be aptly summarized as another leftwing, anti-Southern tirade by a Jewish revisionist that bewails the demise of Radical Reconstruction. There is no shortage of those these days.
Set in Mississippi, Lemann’s refreshing narrative tells the story of the violent overthrow of Reconstruction in 1875 by armed groups of Confederate veterans. “The Mississippi Plan” later became the model that was used to liberate South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana from Republican rule.
“The Civil War” didn’t end at Appomattox. It shifted into a second phase of low-intensity guerrilla warfare against the American occupation that culminated in the Redemption of the Southern states in 1877.
Lemann begins his account with the story of the pivotal Battle of Colfax in Louisiana in April 1873. Sheriff Columbus Nash, a former Confederate POW, raised an army of Confederate veterans to fight for the restoration of white supremacy in Grant Parish, a new gerrymandered parish that had been created by the Republican state legislature to place Whites in the Red River valley under negro rule:
“As one of them remembered it, “They were informed that the action about to be taken could result in prosecution for treason and those who were afraid to fight for white supremacy could step out and return home. Some twenty five men took advantage of this offer.” The rest of them, two to three hundred men, rode toward Colfax.”
The Whites engaged the African-American militia and defeated them on the field of battle. In their bloodlust for revenge, they massacred the survivors. The federal government responded by sending troops into Colfax. A federal grand jury indicted three of the White participants, but the Colfax case ended in a mistrial.
After years of American occupation, White Louisiana was emboldened by the heroic resistance to Reconstruction at Colfax. In 1874, three former Confederate officers started a militant newspaper called the Caucasian, which was dedicated to the violent restoration of white supremacy in Louisiana.
“We, having grown weary of tame submission to this most desolating war of the negro upon us, propose to take a bold stand to assert the dignity of our manhood, to say in tones of thunder and with the voice of angry elements STOP! THUS FAR SHALT THOU GO, AND NO FURTHER.”
The Caucasian opened a new chapter in the White resistance to the American occupation. It led to an explosive outburst of similar sentiments in newspapers all across the state that galvanized the demoralized White masses to revolution.
Within a month, a group of Whites established a new paramilitary organization called the White League in Louisiana. Unlike the Klan, the White League operated openly, solicited newspapers for coverage, and was explicitly political in its design to overthrow Reconstruction by means of voter suppression.
The White League considered themselves defenders of “hereditary civilization and Christianity menaced by a stupid Africanization.” In the Battle of Liberty Place, 5,000 members of the White League marched on New Orleans in September 1874 to retake the city and capture control of the state government. They routed an integrated opposition force of 3,500 police and state militia.
President Grant dispatched troops to restore Governor Kellogg (a Yankee carpetbagger from Vermont) to power. The White League retreated from New Orleans, but the point that Whites could resist Reconstruction had been made. The successful capture of the Louisiana state capital emboldened their White counterparts in neighboring Mississippi.
In 1874, Mississippi was smoldering under the rule of Gov. Adelbert Ames, a Yankee carpetbagger from Maine who led the famous 20th Maine Infantry Regiment at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Ames is featured as an unsympathetic prig in Gods and Generals.
In 1868, Ames was appointed provisional Governor of Mississippi by the Radical Republican Congress. The new majority black legislature of Mississippi sent Ames to the Senate where he represented Mississippi in Washington from 1870 to 1874.
While in Washington, Sen. Adelbert Ames married Blanche Butler, the daughter of Beast Butler, the tyrant of New Orleans. He later returned to Mississippi where he served again as the Reconstruction governor from 1874 to 1876.
The White revolution against Republican rule in Mississippi began in Vicksburg in the summer of 1874. A group of Whites shot up a Republican Fourth of July celebration and the Democrats were swept back to power in the August elections.
As in Louisiana, White Mississippi was emboldened by the successful act of resistance to Republican rule in Vicksburg, and Confederate veterans in Mississippi formed their own paramilitary organization called the White Line.
In 1875, Congressman Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar rallied White Mississippi to restore the Democrats to power in the fall elections. Taxpayer organizations proliferated across the state which opposed Republican corruption on non-racial spending and constitutional grounds.
The White Line used every means at their disposal (violence, fraud, threats, and intimidation) to suppress the negro vote across Mississippi. The Democrats recaptured control of the Mississippi legislature in the 1875 election and quickly moved to impeach Gov. Ames who resigned under pressure and fled to the Midwest.
A year later, Ames told his story of the 1875 election to the New York Times. The demise of Reconstruction in Mississippi was really about, he said:
“In one phrase – hostility to the negro as a citizen. The South cares for no other question. Everything gives way to it. They support or oppose men, advocate or denounce policies, flatter or murder, just as such action will help them as far as possible to recover their old power over the negro. Everything that stands in the line of their march to this end is overthrown.”
In 1895, he further elaborated on his downfall in a letter to Scribner’s magazine:
“There was a time when policy made it advisable for the white men of Mississippi to advance ‘corruption,’ ‘negro mobs,’ anything and everything but the real reason for their conduct. That time has long since passed. There is no good reason why the truth should not be stated in plain terms. It is that they are white men, Anglo-Saxons – a dominant race – educated to believe in negro slavery. To perpetuate their existing order of things they ventured everything and lost. An unjust and tyrannical power (from their standpoint) had filled their state with mourning, beggared them, freed their slaves and as a last insult and injury made the ex-slave a political equal. They resisted by intimidation violence and murder. Excuses by the way of justification were given while the powerful hand of the national government was to be feared. Soon the national government and public opinion ceased to be dreaded. Then they announced boldly that this is a white man’s government and that the negro and ex-slave should forever form no part of it.”
Adelbert Ames was right.
After the demise of Reconstruction in Mississippi, paramilitary groups composed of Confederate veterans like the White League, the White Line, the Red Shirts, and the Regulators used the same violent tactics to overthrow Reconstruction in South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana.
The Redeemers were fighting for their ubiquitous belief that the South was a “White man’s country.” They rejected multiracial democracy (an alien concept practiced in prewar New England that was imposed by Yankees upon the prostrate Confederacy) because they believed that blacks were an inferior race. They believed that Southern civilization was based primarily on race, religion, and culture and only secondarily on republican political principles.
In South Carolina, wearing the red shirt or the red ribbon was a symbol of resistance to the Yankee occupation and coming of age that was proudly worn by boys and girls who were children during the War Between the States. It was the next generation of Southerners that grew up during the thirty years of forced integration (Black Run Amerika 1.0) that built the Jim Crow South.
In those years, Dixie became the White Republic within the United States, and its racial ideal and memory of Reconstruction spread across the North and West in the early twentieth century, where it remained dominant until the late 1930s when opposition to Hitler’s Germany reawakened the virulent strain of Yankee egalitarianism.
The Reconstruction amendments in the Constitution were never abolished. They were later used as the legal basis to overturn the Plessy decision, dispatch federal troops to Dixie, and to dismantle the Jim Crow South with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In the year 2011, “White Nationalists” on the internet advocate everything from secession from the United States to the creation of a “White Republic” without realizing that the White revolution is actually behind us. There is an ancestral memory of this because the “White Republic” was a place that actually existed.
Dixie was the White Man’s Country. The Redeemers won the revolution in 1876.
Note: Below you can watch The BRA Experience documentary of Reconstruction told from the mainstream Yankee perspective.