|King Cotton: A Story of the Old South
Author: DawsonGirl777 PM
The Old South is now just a memory, only to be visited through books. Read about the Old South's glory and the fall of the Cotton Kingdom as the Confederacy during the American Civil War.Rated: Fiction T - English - Suspense/Tragedy - Chapters: 5 - Words: 9,023 - Reviews: 4 - Updated: 05-29-12 - Published: 03-20-12 - id: 3006713
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Years ago, when Westley was but a boy, the Old South was a prospering kingdom of such rare beauty that not even the land of Nysa – a mythical land of nymphs of which was believed to have its location in Greece – could match her glory. Glorious fields made of endless miles of golden wheat – wheat so gold that one could mistake the swaying stalks as a wide ocean at sunset with the sun reflecting off of its waves. Each and every gentle breeze took flight in these glorious wheat fields and every time that one heard the sound of the golden stalks of wheat brushing against one another, each was reminded of the strong love and patriotism that was felt for their homes. Some had even said that God himself had blessed these golden fields and gave them their beauty and their peaceful tone.
And for these reasons, the southern citizens were distraught when the Union tore down their luscious golden fields. Their world was destroyed and from every corner of the south, there was a cry of 'God damn those Yankees, they've destroyed your hard work'. Women wept, men took revenge and no more was the Old South in existence. Everything was taken from these unfortunate southern souls. Religion was gone – it was like God was no longer with them. Wealth was gone – there weren't any more crops to be sold or workers to plant them. Power was gone – President Davis had fled with all of the Confederate gold. Happiness was gone – there wasn't anything that anyone could do or anywhere that anyone could go without being reminded of the horrors that the Yankees had unleashed upon them.
With the Old South in ruins, all hope was gone. There wasn't a thing that the Confederates could do for their falling Cause. And with their last glimpse of hope, the war went on for four, horrific, terrifying and devastating years, and there wasn't anything for them to do but wait…
After the skirmish at Shenandoah, Beauregard was switched out with General Robert E. Lee. Hundreds of young men were wounded, and about half of them were dead. James Smith, the young man that Westley had met only the day before, was dead. Wilbur Amistad was injured, but not fatally. All that the young rebel had lost was his leg to the knee due to a nasty case of gangrene. Gangrene was the soldiers' worst fear. Gangrene was the death of a mass portion of a body tissue and showed in the horrifying and disgusting color of a hideous shade of green. Many of the bullets that were used in this war contained the bacteria that caused diseases such as gangrene, and it was quite common with conditions as bad as they were. Gangrene was a serious disease and often caused the death of an innocent soldier.
Wilbur was unable to fight any longer with his leg missing, so he was sent home to Atlanta. Westley could feel the pain that his close friend was going through, for how humiliating was it that the young man was sent home during the beginning of the war? It took only one bullet – one single bullet fired by one single Yankee – to take Wilbur's entire leg, and it was take a single bullet fired by a single Yankee to kill almost half of the white southern population.
"You hear about Wilbur?" asked Thaddeus Baudeir to Westley. Westley nodded.
"Lucky son of a gun…" said Westley, and Thaddeus glared at him.
"I'd strike you if I could… A southerner can take on twenty Yankees and not even suffer a scratch! It's honor and glory for a man to be fighting for this Cause and you call him a 'lucky son of a gun' to be sent home?" he demanded. Westley was silent for a few moments.
"When war becomes glorious, Heaven will become Hell," he said, and he said no more.
The army, now called the Army of Virginia under Lee, was constantly on the move. During the day, the men would walk for miles so the Yankees wouldn't attack so often, and at night, they would set up camp and sing 'Dixie', 'Bonnie Blue Flag' and other such popular southern songs around a fire. It put these men at peace to be in their homeland of Dixie, but it certainly did peeve them to know that the Yankees could be anywhere in Dixie.
Dixie land, or so it was called, was anywhere from the northernmost border of Virginia to the westernmost border of Texas and contained eleven states – Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Though eleven states had officially seceded from the Union by June of 1861, two more states – Kentucky and Missouri – had Confederate governments, and thus represented the twelfth and thirteenth stars on the Confederate battle flag.
Though it went down in history that the years of the war were from 1861 – 1865, in truth, the war had been going on since 1820. The Missouri Compromise, signed in 1820, admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state. However, slavery was then restricted to being below the 36°30' latitude line. However, when the Kansas-Nebraska act was signed in 1854, the Missouri Compromise was ruled out. The territory west of Missouri was divided into two new territories – Kansas and Nebraska – and many anti-slavery and pro-slavery settlers rushed into both areas hoping to determine the election of whether or not these territories would be slave states or free states. The Kansas-Nebraska act upset anti-slavery abolitionists because according to the Missouri Compromise, slavery was not permitted above the 36°30' latitude line. Both of these act pushed the country closer and closer to the American Civil War and further aggravated the split between the Northern states and the Southern states.
The signing of the Missouri Compromise in 1820 and the signing of the Kansas-Nebraska act only further proved the north's being hypocritical. Slavery had existed in the United States of America since before the Revolutionary War. It was permitted by the British in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to bring more income to Britain. By the end of the American Revolution in 1783, however, slavery was abolished in all of the northern states. Congress had prohibited slavery in the Northwest Territory. However, slavery had gained a new life with the cotton industry boom after 1800, and slavery expanded into the Southwest territories. However, Congress banned the international import or export of slaves in 1807, and all of the slaves owned in America now were born in America. Many northern abolitionists saw slavery as a sin, and by 1862, set their goal to the abolition of all slavery in the United States. This goal was achieved in 1865, and the Thirteenth Amendment, adopted on December sixth, 1865, officially abolished all slavery and slave trade in the United States of America.
Norah Hamilton was living a fine life on the plantation of Gael in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At least, that was how it was in 1861. Her young head was filled with thoughts of Confederate triumph, like every other Confederate soldier fighting the war and every other Confederate woman and child who had a family member fighting in this war. However, deep down inside, Norah had a horrible feeling that what Westley had told her before his departure was right. How could the south win with barely any cannon foundries in all of Dixie? How could they win with cotton, wheat and other cash crops without being able to ship them out through the port cities? The Union had bottled them up in what was called "The Anaconda Plan" developed by Union General-In-Chief Winfield Scott.
The Anaconda Plan was proposed to president Abraham Lincoln from early April to early May 1861. The Anaconda Plan consisted of a complete and total blockage of the Confederate borders, preventing importation and exportation of cash crops and war supplies. The Confederate harbors were bottled up and the Mississippi River was guarded by Union ships, preventing all ships, Confederate and foreign, from importing or exporting their goods. However, some importations and exportations were made in the early years of the war by brave and noble blockaders, until the blockade was tightened in 1864 and 1865.
In 1861, it was unknown to the Hamiltons of the true horrors of the war. Not many men returned with wounds and many on furlough told stories of gallantry and heroism at Confederate-won battles, such as Manassas and Shiloh. William Fontaine had married Katie Hamilton before the war began, and when he was visiting Gael with his wife, he told Norah of Westley's heroic moves at the Battle of Manassas come July of 1861. It was now August, four months into the war. There weren't many Confederate losses yet and there weren't many Union losses, either. Eleven battles have been fought since the start of the war in April, five being Confederate victories. The rest of the eleven battles fought were either Union victories or inconclusive.
William Fontaine was a young boy who very much enjoyed his mother's raspberry pies at Windsong, and looked very much like his father. He had dark hair and dark eyes and stood maybe six feet tall, but probably a little less. For years, William had fancied Katie Hamilton and now, he was her husband and the two of them were expecting a baby in early 1862. William had been one of the lucky boys who went uninjured in the battle of Manassas and the skirmishes beforehand, though his brother wasn't as lucky. Earl was wounded in the arm by a Yankee bayonet and was later captured and sent to Rock Island prison camp in Illinois. It frightened dear Mrs. Fontaine because Rock Island is notorious for being, basically, a "death camp". Many prisoners of war have already died of diseases such as pneumonia, consumption and dysentery. The Confederate prisoners of war camp was located in Andersonville, Georgia. It was also notorious for being a "death camp" due to the many Union deaths that have already occurred. William tried his hardest to shield his dear mother from the horrors of the war and said that Earl just wasn't on furlough yet.
Norah listened with interest at William's story of Westley's heroic move at the Battle of Manassas on the twenty-first of July. William was reloading his rifle behind a tree when he noticed that a Union soldier was trapped beneath a fallen tree. The tree was knocked over by a shell and was set to flames by another. The Union soldier was wounded and would probably end up losing his right leg, but to William, he was the enemy. William, when reloading his rifle, had planned on shooting him, but Westley came in and quickly rescued the wounded Union soldier from the burning tree.
What had happened after William had left was something almost unheard of for a Confederate – or even a Union – soldier to do for an enemy. Westley bravely carried the wounded Union soldier through the battlefield and to the Union campsite, carrying him to a hospital tent and telling the surgeon what had happened and what should be done for the soldier. The Union soldier's name was Jack Whybecker, and he was a young nineteen-year-old boy from Maine. When Westley arrived carrying Jack to the hospital tents, many alarmed Union soldiers prepared their rifles, shotguns and bayonets to kill Westley with, but Jack had stopped them. He barely had enough energy to move, yet he yelled for the Union soldiers to let Westley go.
"No… don't shoot him… he saved my life…" the young man had mumbled weakly. He looked at Westley, and held up a bloody hand. "I am now in debt to you for life… I owe you my life, for you risked your own to save it… I shan't forget such a heroic action…"
"No," said Westley. "I am nothing but a dirty rebel, and at the same time, I am nothing more than your brother. May God plague both of our armies, for they have done nothing but hurt and kill their own brothers, fathers, sons, uncles and cousins…" With those final words spoken, Westley fled the Union camp, unseen by any other Union soldiers.
Westley's heroic move went unseen to the Confederate army as well, but William had watched what he saw and had he seen and heard the rest, certainly would have agreed with him. The only outcome of this war was the deaths of each other's fathers, sons, brothers, cousins and friends.