When This Anti-War Northerner Challenged Lincoln, the President Exiled Him to the South

It took no time for phrase of Clement L. Vallandigham’s astonishing “banishment” to the Confederacy in Might 1863 to achieve newspapers throughout the nation. The protection was understandably imbalanced, nonetheless, with Union-loyal editors and correspondents the predominant voices behind narratives detailing the peculiar destiny of the nation’s most well-known, anti-administration Copperhead. Simply two days after Vallandigham’s Abraham Lincoln-sanctioned exile, an article titled “Vallandigham Despatched South,” appeared within the Might 27, 1863, situation of The Pittsburgh Gazette. Even then, questions and debates surrounding the legality of Vallandigham’s arrest and subsequent expulsion swirled on each side of the Mason-Dixon Line. Was it lawful for the U.S. authorities to order one in all its personal residents discovered responsible of treason by a army court docket extradited to the care of the federal government in opposition to which it was preventing?

Within the 159 years since, Accomplice views in regards to the incident and its aftermath have been uncommon. The earliest manuscript, Speeches, Arguments, Addresses, and Letters of Clement L. Vallandigham, was revealed in 1864, and notably didn’t even title the Accomplice officer with whom Vallindigham primarily interacted throughout his three-week exile. Newer scholarship—Frank L. Klement’s Clement L. Vallandigham’s Exile within the Confederacy, Might 25–June 17, 1863, for instance—solely cursorily investigated his Accomplice reception, and even then, Klement cited merely two main Southern sources: newspaper articles revealed in The Chattanooga Every day Insurgent, during which the unnamed correspondent offered no account of the particular switch on Might 25, 1863.

Klement’s 1999 biography The Limits of Dissent: Clement L. Vallandigham and the Civil Battle used a further postwar account by Accomplice Stephen F. Nunnelee, but details about the placement and method of the switch appears misinterpreted when put next in gentle of different up to date Southern paperwork. In the meantime, in his 2020 guide Opposing Lincoln: Clement L. Vallandigham, Presidential Energy, and the Authorized Battle Over Dissent in Wartime, historian Thomas Mackey briefly addresses Vallandigham’s banishment in his introduction, however he doesn’t benefit from extra Accomplice sources to unpack this necessary chapter of the controversial Copperhead’s life.


Subscribe to our Historynet Now! e-newsletter for one of the best of the previous, delivered each Wednesday.

What follows is a wanted examination of the ideas and experiences of the gray-clad troopers who reluctantly accepted and ushered Vallandigham into Dixie in the midst of the 1863 Tullahoma Marketing campaign.

On Might 25, 1863, Non-public Stephen Nunnelee of Firm H, 51st Alabama Partisan Rangers, discovered himself in “impartial floor” between the Union and Accomplice strains in Tennessee, sitting anxiously astride his horse. Intense skirmishes erupting every day and the rising chance of an all-out Union advance made Nunnelee’s job all of the extra harmful. The intense rays of daylight beat down upon him as he impatiently sat, unarmed and alone, on the Shelbyville Pike, simply north of Outdated Fosterville, awaiting the unknown Yankee cargo entrusted to him for secure passage into Accomplice strains.

About daybreak that day, 51st Alabama commander Lt. Col. James D. Webb obtained a dispatch addressed “to the officer comdng forces on Shelbyville Pike” that learn: “Head Qrs Division of the Cumberland Murfreesboro Ten Might 24 1863. Sir. By order of the President of america it’s directed that the Hon C.L. Vallandingham [sic] shall be positioned exterior the strains of the Military of the Cumberland. A flag of truce will accompany him & he’s consigned to your respectful consideration. By order of Genrl Rosecrans – J.C. McKibbin Col & ADC.”

Mounting their horses, Webb and Captain Nelson D. Johnson of Firm F rode three miles from regimental headquarters to the vedette publish, the place they discovered 1st Lt. William Fain of Firm A, commanding the picket, seated upon a log and casually conversing with two U.S. officers: Colonel Joseph McKibbin (Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans’ senior aide-de-camp) and Main William Wiles (the Military of the Cumberland’s provost marshal normal). After formal introductions, Webb expressed astonishment that McKibbin had approached the Accomplice strains with such an ostentatious intention, but when the Union colonel vouched for its truthfulness on assurance of his honor, he would settle for their flag of truce. The officers assured Webb of the veracity of their orders, and likewise expressed expectation that the Accomplice officer simply relent and permit their political prisoner to be ousted into Rebeldom with out fuss.

A profitable legal professional and legislator earlier than the battle, Webb was not about to miss the nuances of protocol on this tense tactical, operational, and more and more political state of affairs. He skeptically identified that the official letterhead learn “Division of the Cumberland – Provost Marshal’s Workplace,” thus questioning the dispatch’s validity, because it appeared to return from the provost marshal and never straight from Rosecrans. The 2 males confessed that they had requested the doc be altered, which McKibbin had completed in pencil. The hasty edits spurred Webb to dismiss their claims of sincerity and to threaten slicing off additional communications, however the Federal officers reiterated that their orders got here straight from Lincoln.

James Webb (Alabama Division of Archives and Historical past)

“[T]he President of the U States had not proper to aim to switch to our strains any individual with out our consent,” Webb succinctly reminded them. “[I]f you might be charged with the security of Mr Vallandingham [sic] preserve him. absolutely you don’t suggest to switch to your foe your duty. Preserve Mr V & his baggage in case you are accountable for him & for it.”

Webb was fast to level out that the Confederacy “owed no allegiance to the Structure or the federal government of america…” and that it “didn’t now have or ever right here after supposed to have any conncexion [sic] with it or the folks thereof besides as a international energy & nation of individuals.”

Though the Accomplice commander vowed to not acknowledge Vallandigham’s existence in cooperating with the Union officers, if the Ohioan did seem exterior Accomplice strains and request permission to enter, Webb promised he would reply. With that, McKibbin and Wiles reiterated their dedication to dump Vallandigham on the Confederacy’s doorstep. They requested that Webb present a single escort to make sure Vallandigham and his baggage handed by way of the strains unmolested and, in flip, they promised the escort’s secure return. Webb acquiesced.

Lieutenant Fain chosen Nunnelee because the escort. Though a relative newcomer to the mounted Alabama unit, Nunnelee had seen motion through the Mexican Battle. Till 1861, he owned and revealed The Impartial Observer, a pro-secession newspaper in Alabama. He additionally served as a lieutenant within the eleventh Alabama Infantry early within the battle. Most not too long ago, he had, as a captain within the 4th Alabama Volunteer Militia, aided within the protection of Cellular.

“Colonel Webb despatched for and ordered me to go to the outpost and escort a flag of truce between the strains,” Nunnelee recalled, “and to placed on my finest ‘bib-and-tucker.’ I modified my wool hat for a brand new, home-made grey denims cap, or bonnet, which my spouse had made, and proceeded, having a really indefinite thought as to the aim of my mission.”

Not lengthy after arriving on the vedette, he noticed two males in a wagon thundering down the pike, “driving like Jehu.” Two Union officers pulled up below a big oak tree and Nunnelee suggested them of his orders to guard their flag of truce. Turning their wagon round, the officers and Nunnelee sped down the pike at breakneck pace. On the similar time, Webb despatched Captain Johnson to the headquarters of Colonel James Hagan, his brigade commander, with verbal directions to report what had transpired between him and the Union officers and to hunt permission for Vallandigham’s admittance if requested.

Upon reaching the outskirts of the Union strains, McKibbin requested Nunnelee to stay and await their return. “I used to be defending his flag, which he bore away, leaving me with out one,” Nunnelee recalled, “and I requested myself, ‘Who’s defending me?’ After all, I had no arms and didn’t know the guy who was posted 100 yards forward of me.” Fortunately, in lower than half-hour he witnessed the flag’s return over the ridge and likewise observed the wagon now had a further passenger, Vallandigham.

Earlier than disembarking from the wagon, the Ohioan stood erect and introduced: “Within the presence of this gentleman I protest in opposition to being forcibly taken from my State and my household.” Unsurprisingly, Vallandigham’s plea fell upon deaf ears. His escort, Wiles and a Captain Goodman, cooly remarked that they had been merely obeying orders. Nunnelee assisted Vallandigham together with his trunk and watched him hand a number of letters to one of many officers, requesting it’s mailed to his household. Then, for a second time, Vallandigham protested his compelled expulsion.

Nunnelee stays anonymous in most Vallandigham biographies, portrayed merely as one in all Webb’s orderlies who had no information of the plans for coping with the notorious political prisoner. The newspaperman-turned-soldier instructed a special story, nonetheless, relating that he stepped ahead and provided Vallandigham his hand. Nunnelee famous to Vallandigham that he had despatched him a duplicate of his Impartial Observer whereas the Ohioan was in Congress. Vallandigham instantly remembered the Accomplice printer’s title, and the 2 engaged in cordial dialog. Vallandigham queried Nunnelee, asking why he was within the Accomplice Military, what place he held, and what number of of “his type” had been within the military? The trooper retorted he was “taking part in soldier…attempting to maintain Rosecrans from operating over us”; that he was “a excessive personal within the entrance rank,”; and that “practically all of us had been there.”

“They will by no means whip you,” replied Vallandigham.

Nunnelee listened intently as Vallandigham offered an account of his arrest and all that had transpired as much as his conviction and banishment. On Might 24, the Copperhead recalled the he had boldly requested that Rosecrans assemble his males “in a hole sq. tomorrow morning and announce to them that [he] wishes to vindicate himself,” though Rosecrans had demurred. Vallandigham claimed that lots of the normal’s troopers already opposed the battle and would have mutinied. Rosecrans indicated, nonetheless, that he had denied the request as a result of he “had an excessive amount of regard for the lifetime of the prisoner to attempt it.”

By the summer time of 1863, many Union troopers embraced emancipation’s necessity, as Lieutenant Orville T. Chamberlain of the 74th Indiana Infantry would write, “the labor of the copperheads” successfully “abolitionize[d]” the Military of the Cumberland and that even Democratic officers in his personal firm started sounding like “black hearted abolitionists.” Regardless of the motive, Vallandigham didn’t obtain permission to argue his case earlier than the Military and presently discovered himself awaiting Webb on the dwelling of Mr. [Jeremiah] Odell, a mere 600 yards past Accomplice strains.

Whereas awaiting Johnson’s return from brigade headquarters, Nunnelee arrived with information of Vallandigham’s look and of his request to talk to the officer in cost. Webb, then engaged in formally writing Hagan, paused the correspondence and rode out to see Vallandigham. After dismounting at Odell’s dwelling, Webb approached the Copperhead, who then indicated he wished to give up as a prisoner of battle. After briefly questioning the Ohioan, Webb knowledgeable him that since he was a loyal citizen of america—a noncombatant, delivered to the strains in opposition to his needs, and never a spy—no expenses might be levied in opposition to him by the Confederacy. He provided, nonetheless, that if Vallandigham wished “to enter our strains as a refuge[e] from this tyranny & oppression from which the federal government of the U States have compelled you for the final two years, I’ll make identified your needs to the commander of my Brigade & ask his instruction & inform you.”

The arrest of Vallandigham. (Alamy Inventory Picture)

After their dialog, Webb returned to Accomplice strains, accomplished his correspondence to Hagan, despatched it by way of Nunnelee, and awaited additional directions. Within the meantime, Johnson returned and handed alongside an order from Hagan to not admit Vallandigham till additional discover. The captain suggested that Basic Braxton Bragg, commander of the Accomplice Military of Tennessee, had been telegraphed at his headquarters in Shelbyville. As quickly as Brig. Gen. William T. Martin, Webb’s division commander, obtained a solution, it might be forwarded to the entrance.

In line with Webb, the reply happened 1 p.m.: Vallandigham was ordered admitted to the Confederacy. Mounting his horse, Webb rode to Odell’s dwelling and relayed the information. Whereas there, he congratulated Vallandigham “on his escape from a land of tyranny & oppression & was proud to welcome him to the Accomplice States, the land of Constitutional & non secular liberty.”

With the information, the boys rode safely by way of the vedette into Accomplice strains. On the home of a Mr. Newman, Webb and the newly accepted exile met Martin, Hagan, and Captain Charles Pressure, commander of the 51st Alabama’s Firm E (the corporate chosen as Vallandigham’s escort). The entourage mounted and continued their trek to Martin’s headquarters, the place, shortly after 3 p.m., Vallandigham met Lt. Col. J. Stoddard Johnston, Bragg’s assistant adjutant normal. Vallandigham’s switch to Johnston could be the ultimate time Webb would encounter the Copperhead.

Vallandigham was escorted by carriage to military headquarters. As a testomony to his reputation amongst some Confederates, Johnston requested the Ohioan’s signature as “a memento of the occasion which has introduced you amongst us—a banished Exile, compelled from your property by despotic energy.”

Inside days, your entire incident made its manner into numerous newspapers, even touchdown a column within the obscure The Cecil Whig of Elkton, Md. The printed dispatch acknowledged that upon arrival on the Accomplice strains, Vallandigham instructed the Union officers charged with escorting him that “he was a loyal citizen of america.” It additional reported that “he made the identical comment to Colonel Webb of the eighth Alabama, to whom he was handed over” and continued by stating that “the Colonel instructed him he had learn his speeches, however didn’t like him; he would nonetheless, allow him to stay at his publish till the pleasure of the authorities must be identified.”

Certainly one of these quite a few printed accounts discovered its solution to Webb’s headquarters in Outdated Fosterville. In response, he penned a letter to his spouse, Justina, correcting the erroneously printed dispatch:

You will note it reported in among the papers that Col Webb of the eighth Ala Regt instructed him Vallandingham [sic] that he had learn his speeches & I don’t such as you. The variety of my Regt is incorrectly given[;] it must be the 51st Ala Regt (PR). I instructed the officers McKibbin & Wiles I had learn Vallandingham’s speeches. [H]e was no buddy of ours. [H]e was a Union man. [A] reconstructionist. [W]e had been against that. [W]e didn’t like him as a consultant of that precept. Mr. Vallandingham was not current on the interview with the Federal officers[;] he was then three miles off, at their picket line. He parted with me wishing me nice happiness & once more thanked me for my kindness & for the style during which I had acted. I’ve given you this prolonged assertion to put myself proper. You recognize it isn’t for print or publication.”

Webb continued patrolling his key place alongside the Shelbyville Pike. Unknown on the time, the publish was destined to deliver him into contact with different important people and occasions, resembling “entertaining” Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle, a British Military officer, throughout his private sojourn by way of the Confederacy, in addition to receiving the private results of the executed Accomplice spies Colonel Lawrence W. Orton and Lieutenant Walter G. Peters, whereas below one other flag of truce. Webb additionally managed to flee wounding or seize through the Accomplice cavalry debacle at Shelbyville on June 27, 1863. (Nunnelee, it must be famous, was significantly wounded and subsequently captured in that engagement.)

Apparently, Webb was not by way of entertaining questions on his well-known contact with Vallandigham. Because the Battle of Gettysburg raged in Pennsylvania, the Military of Tennessee retreated throughout the Elk River exterior Winchester, Tenn., the place the 51st Alabama Partisan Rangers assisted in an effort to stymie a Union advance throughout the river at Morris’ Ferry. In line with Non-public Enoch Morgan of Firm I, Webb was “wounded on the night of July 2nd in a heavy cavalry struggle about 3 miles beneath the ford of the Elk River on the Winchester & McMinnville street. The ball struck him in the correct aspect in entrance, passing by way of the decrease a part of the liver & lodged below the pores and skin behind.” Unable to take away him from the sector, a number of of his males, together with Morgan, took him to a close-by home however had been compelled to desert him to the pursuing Union cavalrymen.

That night, Union Maj. Gen. David Stanley despatched Jacob R. Weist, the 2nd Cavalry Brigade’s performing surgeon, to test on the feasibility of transporting the wounded Accomplice officer into Union strains. The wound’s severity made shifting Webb infeasible. Weist recalled, nonetheless, that “although the colonel knew that he was mortally wounded,” he appeared greater than keen to converse with reference to Vallandigham.

As Weist wrote:

“I made some inquiries in regards to the nice copperhead. Amongst different issues the colonel instructed me was that VALLANDIGHAM TOLD HIM THAT THE SOUTH DID NOT PURSUE THE RIGHT POLICY; THAT INSTEAD OF ALLOWING THE NORTH TO INVADE KENTUCKY AND TENNESSEE…, THEY SHOULD TRANSFER THE BATTLE-FIELDS TO OHIO AND INDIANA…; that the Administration could be compelled to acknowledge the independence of the South.”

The particulars of the Webb–Weist interview can’t be corroborated with different up to date eyewitness accounts. In his meticulously written June 9, 1863, letter to his spouse, Webb didn’t point out any such coverage. Subsequently, Weist’s account may probably have been strategically crafted to extend public disapproval of Vallandigham and his fellow extremist Peace Democrats.

Though an actual date can’t be confirmed, Webb probably died between July 4 and July 8. In line with Weist, he died two or three days after being wounded. On July 8, Main Charles Seidel of the third Ohio Cavalry concluded his official after-action report by stating that his “regiment, marching on the correct, up the street, encountered the Fifty-first Alabama Cavalry” and “after a struggle of ten minutes,” the Alabamians “fled in confusion, leaving his useless and wounded behind. Colonel Webb, commanding the Fifty-first Alabama, was severely wounded, and has since died.”

Fortuitously, Vallandigham’s story of exile didn’t die with Webb in Center Tennessee. Acceptance of the exiled Vallandigham into the Confederacy for these three weeks within the late spring of 1863 may appear trivial compared to the overall upheaval and embarrassment brought on by the Copperhead’s Mount Vernon speech, subsequent arrest, army trial, and banishment; nonetheless, the assembly between enemy contingents off the Shelbyville Pike on Might 25, 1863, held probably embarrassing political ramifications for the Confederacy and wanted to be handled prudently. Webb exercised that prudence, and thru his detailed and devoted correspondence to his spouse, we are able to draw a extra exact, holistic image of this delicate occasion when interspersed with different necessary narratives, resembling these by Vallandigham and Nunnelee.

historynet magazines

Our 9 best-selling historical past titles characteristic in-depth storytelling and iconic imagery to interact and inform on the folks, the wars, and the occasions that formed America and the world. Sale! Save $7.99 in your subscription immediately!