Clinton Burns and the Civil Struggle


Born on a farm. Demise in a church. Clinton Burns, my ancestral cousin, grew up in western Pennsylvania within the 1850s, when the difficulty of slavery was sizzling and even fractured households. Younger Clinton was swept up on this cauldron of battle.

Even the wooden used for flag poles was politicized. A hickory publish was in Andrew Jackson’s honor, “Previous Hickory,” whereas anti-slavery sentiments had been symbolized by poplar wooden.

Clinton’s memoir reveals her father’s emotions on the flagpole situation. “My father thought slavery was a sin towards God, against the law towards his neighbor and a stain on the fame of our nation. He used poplar wooden.

An uncle, Squire John Burns, led the realm’s pro-slavery get together that paraded on horseback to a rally and, out of necessity, drove previous Clinton’s home. “One of the vital enraged males coated his saddle with black sheepskin to represent the negro. The black man was solely match to be ridden and dominated by the white man. When the procession handed our home, this man left the road and, climbing as much as our poplar flagpole and holding his horse till he was standing on his hind legs, he poured a volley. of curses on us.

Clinton, 6, reacted. “My blood was in place. It was the primary awakening, the primary impulse, of political sentiment in my coronary heart. I picked up stones and threw them on the man, a lot to the delight of my father who was sitting on the porch watching the procession.

Such incidents had been “the gathering of clouds of battle, a storm which quickly erupted in all its fury.” No household, no establishment, has been spared the toxicity of the civil battle. Minister Clinton’s sermons towards slavery divided the congregation so badly that the church closed. And when Clinton’s father picked up his mail from the publish workplace, he discovered he was additionally trapped within the fury of the Civil Struggle.

“After harnessing his horse, my father walked throughout the yard to the publish workplace, the place 100 or extra males had been gathered. He heard them say, “Kill him. Kill the rattling abolitionist. After receiving his mail, he left the scene shortly. He hadn’t gone far when six or eight males got here in the direction of him from the corners of the fence. Two of them grabbed his horse by the bridle, two others grabbed him by the leg to carry him in place whereas the others hit him with golf equipment, breaking two of his ribs. Then he purchased a Colt revolver and let the neighborhood know he was armed. He was not molested.

In the meantime, Clinton’s older brother had joined the Union Military and was on the entrance line, seeing the 4 officers above him killed or wounded in

Gettysburg in 1863 and surviving 28 different battles or skirmishes leading to lack of life. However figuring out that they had the help of household and buddies “at residence” was important to sustaining morale. An episode that Clinton skilled at college was her household’s remaining contribution to the battle effort.

Clinton: “Political sentiment was excessive. No less than half of the college’s bosses sympathized with the South. A very powerful of them was a household named Bebout [Be-bow]. Three of the women, aged fourteen to eighteen, had been attending college. Jane Bebout as soon as rigged what she referred to as a Secession flag and, carrying it across the college, was speeding for Jefferson Davis. This woke up the patriotic blood of my cousin, Martha Burns, who got down to seize the flag and drag it into the mud. They had been quickly in a bitter battle for possession of the flag.

“The opposite two Bebout women ran to their sister’s rescue whereas Martha’s sister, my sister and Ellen Midday ran to assist Martha. The seven women had been in essentially the most horrible battle you’ve got ever seen. Warren Teagarden ran to assist the Bebouts retrieve the flag.

“My blood was up and I went to get Warren. He was the tallest however I used to be essentially the most energetic and prepared to endure essentially the most punishment. The blows had been falling thick and quick, and blood was flowing freely as the women forgot their flag and had been appalled at our battle. Lastly, out of sheer exhaustion, we go away with out succumbing to one another. Wars descend to our kids.

Clinton later grew to become a historical past instructor and returned residence for a household reunion. He was sitting on the entrance bench at Windy Hole Presbyterian Church, ready to present a household historical past lecture when, two weeks into his eightieth birthday, he suffered a deadly coronary heart assault.

James F. Burns is a retired professor on the College of Florida.


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