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One Leaving The Context of the Southern Emigration to Brazil Cyrus B. Dawsey andJames M. Dawsey When the Confederate exiles left the United States during the mid-1860s, they were responding to a combination of interacting "push" and "pull" conditions, some real and some imagined. As we will see in chapter 4, these conditions often involved complex webs of personal and institutional relationships that extended across national boundaries. Disappointment over the outcome of the Civil War was a major reason for the movement. Most of the migrants were people who had been a part of the social and military fabric of the Old South, people who, with great loyalty to the ideals of the Confederacy, could not bear the thought of living subject to the hateful Yankees. Some of these sentiments lingered on in Brazil, as demonstrated by the continued prominence of the Confederate battle flag at the preserved American Campo chapel near Santa Barbara (described in chapter 8) and emphatic gravestone inscriptions at the nearby cemetery (e.g., "Once a rebel, twice a rebel, and forever a rebel"). The victorious Union was cursed for decades, and some expatriates in Brazil were apt to demonstrate little courtesy or hospitality when they encountered fellow Americans who came from a state beyond the Mason-Dixon line.' The Vanquished South The migrants left behind a region ravaged by war where they had been afraid and their lives had been filled with stress. Many accounts, such as the diary of the Confederate officer Douglas French Forrest, describe the social and economic disintegration occurring in the South at the end of the war. By mid-May 1865, Confederate currency had lost its value. Out of pity, Forrest gave some money to two sick soldiers and purchased $600 of Confederate paper money for $3. Kirby Smith's army had been dispersed , and "the whole country for miles around was filled with predatory 11 12 C. B. Dawsey &J. M. Dawsey bands, utterly irresponsible, recognizing no rights of property, utterly demoralized ." These bands stole anything that was useful and destroyed everything else. Forrest and his companions guarded their possessions as best they could. A horse thief was caught and hanged.2 Rumors abounded: The disbanded troops of the North were rioting. "Violence and anarchy," Forrest heard, "defies description, surpassing, if it were possible, that of our own land." AndyJohnson's cabinet had resigned. Sherman was about to establish a Western Confederacy. President Davis was safe in Nassau.3 At first, Forrest half believed the rumors and refused to accept defeat. He was angry and remained convinced of thejustice of the Southern cause. He found it difficult to contemplate reunion. "[The great powers of Europe] little understand the South," he wrote on May 24, "if they suppose us capable of soon forgetting our dead slaughtered by Yankee hirelings, our homes destroyed, our women outraged, our old men murdered! Heaven grant our people virtue and valor in this critical period of our history. I am most anxious to see and converse with the Geni. & earnestly trust he will regard the matter as I do & agree not to quit the country, but to try to arouse the people & to lead them again into the fight in our just quarreI."4 As the days passed, however, the reality of defeat set in. ByJune 3, Forrest vowed "to leave the country without ever being a prisoner paroled or otherwise of our detested foes." On June 4, Forrest wrote that although "no one seems to have any decided plan of action," he was adhering to the project of crossing the Rio Grande into Mexico. "[I] am purposed to quit the South malgre eux on my noble horse. I have considered the question from every standpoint, & am sure that my notions are not Quixotic, but according to right reason. There is no reason why I should put myself into the hands of the loathed Yankees." And the next day, Forrest joined General Walker on what he called "the Mexican scheme" and began the migration to the south.s Daniel Sutherland has argued that the word "disarray" best characterizes that period in the Deep South soon after Appomattox.6 The father of Bellona Smith, whose first-person account is presented in chapter 2, had served as a bugler in the Southern army in Galveston, and once released from duty, he must have taken several weeks to reach his home in Navarro County. For the Confederates, getting home could be a problem. Forrest hid at night and took special precautions against...


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