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chaplain's monthly report with an endorsement regarding the "manner in which the chaplain performs his duties.” 23
Both chaplains and commanders interpreted their legal responsibilities in various ways. Some fulfilled their responsibilities enthusiastically and conscientiously, others perfunctorily, and others hardly at all.
THE OCCUPATION ARMY
It was a fitting way to end a war. Grant's terms of surrender were "mild, and the forms as little humiliating as possible” to Lee and his army. There was the promise of reconciliation and a minimum of recrimination, just as President Lincoln had wanted. Victory was important in itself, but what was to be done with the victory—“to bind up the nation's wounds” and “achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace”—was even more so. And it could be done much better "with malice toward none” and “charity for all.” 24 Unfortunately, the promise of Appomattox was more apparent than real, and it faded away into the 12 bitter years of Reconstruction.
The problems of Reconstruction were staggering. The crucial issues of the war, secession and slavery, had to be resolved. Eleven states had to be restored to their “proper practical relation” to the Union, and the status of four million freed slaves had to be settled. Moreover, and equally important, the nation's economy had to be revived, particularly in the South. President Johnson attempted to solve the problems in what he believed to be the spirit of Lincoln, but a Radical Republican Congress had other plans. It took every opportunity to neutralize his leadership and finally managed to do a complete job of it by passing the Reconstruction Acts of 1867. It then added insult to injury by impeaching him in 1868. In the meantime, the Army served as an occupation force in the Southern states and enforced national reconstruction policy, whether that policy came from the President or from Congress. 25
The Army had begun to enforce national policy as soon as it began to conquer and occupy the Rebel States. It maintained law and order, protected former slaves, and supported the Freedmen's Bureau, a bureau within the War Department created to look after the interests of freedmen and headed by General Oliver 0. Howard. Its mission increased when the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 became law. The first of those acts carved the 10 remaining Southern States—Tennessee had
been readmitted into the Union in 1866—into five military districts, placed each district under the command of a major general, and gave each general responsibility for the execution of the Reconstruction Acts in his district. Part of that responsibility was supervision of the readmission of the Southern States into the Union.26
With the exception of blacks and their white allies, Southerners generally chafed under the Federal reconstruction policies and the presence of occupation troops; some expressed their resentment by joining the Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist organizations. ?? When the last of the Rebel States was readmitted to the Union in 1870 and the Freedmen's Bureau was all but phased out of existence, the mission of the Army in the South changed to preservation of the Republican state governments and protection of the blacks and their allies. Two years later President Grant ordered the occupation troops not to interfere in Southern politics, but it was not until 24 April 1877 that President Hayes ordered the last of the Federal troops from the South and brought Reconstruction to a close.28
Unfortunately, 12 years of Reconstruction did not resolve the crucial issues of the war. When all was said and done, the blacks had merely exchanged their former bondage for the dehumanizing indignities of what became known as “Jim Crowism," and the Southern States had traded secession for the privilege of being the solid South.29 There was never a more difficult period in United States history.
During the antebellum and war years, churchmen on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line provided moral support either to the cause of slavery and secession or to that of emancipation and Union; they did it by offering prayers to the same God and by preaching and teaching from the same Bible. After Appomattox the same churchmen used the Bible to interpret differently the outcome of the same war. Southern churchmen, who had viewed their cause as a moral one, said defeat was the result of individual vices and sins, God's will, or Satan ruling the hour. Those in the North said the war had not only decided the victor but the moral issue as well. They rejoiced, believing that God had vindicated their cause, and in this Union Army chaplains concurred.” Chaplain Charles M. Blake said that the war had been provoked by a "wicked spirit of selfishness” in the South. Chaplain George
Whitefield Pepper, after rejoicing over the triumph of democracy and freedom and the death of rebellion and slavery, described the moral insufficiency of the Southern cause:
The heresy of secession ... is the adversary of God and of man,
to have exerted it at such a time.3
Northern churchmen and Army chaplains also aligned themselves with the program of reconstruction. After praising the reconstruction measures of the 39th Congress and the “grand enthusiasm of the people for equal rights and universal suffrage,” and saying “these are omens that better and brighter times will yet break on our land,” Chaplain Pepper said Unionists should “inflexibly” demand that the reconstruction legislation be "heartily and promptly accepted by those recently in rebellion.” On the other hand, he attempted to be “magnaminous toward a brave but mistaken people” by saying that any other “terms than those proposed by Grant in the surrender of Lee will overshadow the national cause with opprobrium,” by repudiating “vehemently ... all ideas of confiscation,” and by appealing that “there be no thorns planted where the olive had taken root.
That part of the Federal reconstruction program of greatest interest to Northern churchmen was the welfare of the freedmen. It had been against the law to educate slaves, and believing education to be the Negro's key to full citizenship and opportunity, the churchmen organized numerous agencies, both interdenominational and denominational, for that purpose. 94 The work of the agencies was supplemented and reinforced by the Freedmen’s Bureau for the first five years of the postbellum period, and several former Union Army chaplains and one active duty Regular Army chaplain, George W. Pepper, served as agents of the bureau.35 Then, too, the regimental and post chaplains instructed the black troops.
The education of the Negro became a great crusade, and viewing it as an economic threat in their depressed area, many Southerners strongly resented it. $? As an agent in the Freedmen’s Bureau of North Carolina, Chaplain Pepper's duties required him to visit every county in the state and speak to blacks about the organization of schools. He
occasionally made visits in a “rickety old wagon, driven always by a colored man, frequently passing groups of ex-Confederate soldiers" and was “heartily glad when the labor was over” so he could return to the “shelter of the soldiers at Raleigh.' ? 38 Once he was speaking in Salisbury, and a burly ex-Rebel became enraged, bounded onto the platform, and attempted to plunge a huge knife into his throat, but fortunately, one of the local black leaders was able to seize the attacker and hurl him from the platform."
In an address to a mixed Raleigh audience of blacks, Union loyalists, and those who had fought for or sympathized with the Confederacy, Chaplain Pepper referred to the great education crusade and the resentment it aroused; the style, content, and humor of his oration indicated the probable reason for the burly ex-Rebel's attack against him:
You, my black friends. ... Your enemies say that you are too
married twenty-five years and have none yet.” 40
When the war ended, there were over 202,277 Federal troops stationed in the Rebel States; by January of 1866 their number was reduced to 87,550, and by the following October to 17,679.“ During that great reduction the chaplains continued their duties with their regiments, hospitals, or posts, until they were mustered out or transferred, but their number quickly diminished to only a few. More and more, the troops turned to religious services and ministrations provided by Southern churches and clergymen. That seemed to be a satisfactory arrangement for all concerned, although their attendance sometimes created resentment and problems, particularly during the early postwar years.
The few chaplains stationed in the South generally concentrated on their “official” duties as religious leaders and educators, but Chaplain Pepper's ministry with the 40th Infantry Regiment (Colored) was unlike that of any other Army chaplain. Claiming his duties were light, and with the approval of his regimental commander, Brevet Major General
Nelson A. Miles, he extended his ministry to become deeply involved in the reconstruction of North Carolina. He not only served as an agent in the Freedman's Bureau, but he also reported the reconstruction of the state for the Cincinnati Commercial, the New York Times, the New York Tribune, and at the invitation of Radical Republican Governor W. W. Holden, edited the Raleigh Standard, the state Republican newspaper.“ Moreover, during the Presidential election campaign of 1868, he worked and made speeches throughout the state on behalf of General Grant's candidacy.**
Pepper was particularly proud of his 1867 Independence Day oration in Raleigh, delivered at what he claimed was the "first Union meeting after the Civil War in any Southern State.” 45 In it he reflected the attitude of many in the North and of the conquerors toward the conquered. In addition to commenting about the moral insufficiency of the Southern cause, the importance of Negro education and suffrage, the validity of the Reconstruction Acts, his opposition to confiscation of property, and the need for reconciliation, he spoke of other topics related to both the war and reconstruction. He hailed the Union loyalists who had the “abiding faith that the wicked Rebellion would be utterly subdued, and that the Stars and Stripes would again wave in triumph over the land.” He praised Northern military leaders, including General William T. Sherman, who had marched through North Carolina. He called President Lincoln the “brightest of the bright and the purest of the pure” who lifted his “head above the tempest” and wrote the “immortal charter of universal emancipation” which millions "have gazed upon . . . with devout joy and rapture.” He alluded to Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher's eulogy of Lincoln as the "assassinated President going to heaven, bearing in his hand the broken shackles of four millions of slaves." He praised the "black heroes of the Union army,” saying their rights and privileges would be “most intelligently, vigilantly, and gallantly maintained by the fearless commander of this district . . . an accomplished soldier and a wise statesman.” In deference to the ex-Confederates in the audience, he mentioned General Lee, "a great soldier,” and named those "others equally distinguished,” who were “cooperating with the Washington authorities to repair the breaches of the war.' Finally, he appealed to his audience:
Be Union men, and this fair land, which affrights the angels with