#2 AN ANTI-ABOLITIONIST FIGHTING FOR THE UNION: WILLIAM ALLEN CLARK
October 5, 1862, Louisville, Kentucky
We have no politics here. But too much abolitionism. But I have seen slavery in fact, and it is not so bad as you might suppose.
October 15, 1862, Frankfort, Kentucky
We have not had preaching in camp for 2 weeks, the chaplain being at home. He is back now. There will be meeting tonight. But it is (sad to say) abolition. Mother said she was afraid I would turn to an abolitionist. If I had been one at home, I have seen enough to make me a Negro hater since I came here. We was down to Versailles last Sabbath, took 251 prisoners and lots of negros. They got to ride when we came back and we walked with 56 lbs. on our backs, so much for being white. We were cheered by the blacks and pointed at by the whites. It makes my blood boil to think of it.
March 22, 1863, Camp near Murfreesboro, Tennessee
You need not be afraid of my deserting or taking a French furlough [going home on furlough and not returning to duty]. I think too much of my character and my country. I would like to see you but I will wait till I can come without being called Deserter.
We hear some talk of the Draft being resisted by those who oppose the [Emancipation] Proclamation. I don't know who will oppose it or who won't, but if any of my friends and relatives talk of resistance, my advice is to them to come to Kentucky or Tennessee and see what effect war has upon the country and the people in the vicinity of those large Armies, before they inaugurate a war at home.
I have got three or four letters from D. F. Clark [a relative]. He is a pretty strong antiwar man. I think there is some danger of his taking the wrong horn of the Dilemma, but perhaps he will come out right at the end of the Race. My political views are the same as when I left home. I am opposed to Abolitionism with all my might. And I never, Never, want to Compromise with the Traitors.
August 9, 1873, Decherd, Tennessee
One year ago today I enlisted, what for I couldn't tell. I did it without reflecting what the life of a Volunteer was. I didn't appreciate the comforts and blessings of home. In fact, I done it just to be doing, and as luck would have it, I was entrapped so securely that Begging off would have been silly. The first six months I made a dunce of myself by fretting about spilt milk. I then came to the conclusions to make the best of a bad bargain. Since then I have had good health and have been contented. The war has been prolonged much longer than I then thought it would be . . . . My time is one third out, and I have escaped unhurt so far unless my morals are injured. Of that it is not for me to judge of myself.
June 5, 1864, Carter's Station, Georgia
There is quite a strong element here that will support the worthy Oliver P. Morton for governor of Indiana again. But I can't see it in that light . . . .
February 19, 1865, Camp at Smith's Landing, Alabama
I haven't seen a paper of a later date than the 7th and no news in it. It is rumored that Grant has been defeated at Richmond, but the report lacks confirmation. Mobile is said to be in possession of the Yankees. The Peace Rumors have all passed off, and left nary peace for us . . . . We haven't much confidence in peace being brought about.
[Note: Grant was not defeated at Richmond, and Mobile fell to Union forces on April 12. Clark was discharged from his unit in June.]
I haven't heard from the Boys [his boyhood friends from home] . . . so I concluded I would let them know that if I wasn't an Abolitionist, I was still laboring in defense of the Star Spangled Banner.
William Allen Clark was an Indiana Democrat who voted against Abraham Lincoln and against the state's Republican governor, Oliver Morton. He was also extremely prejudiced against all black people, slave or free, and was an ardent anti-abolitionist. Nevertheless, Clark enlisted in an Indiana Union regiment and fought until the end of the war. Answer the following questions based on the excerpts above from Clark 's letters to his family:
1. What are some of the many clues that tell you that Clark is against the abolition of slavery?
2. Based on Clark 's letter of March 22, 1863 , why is he remaining in the army and fighting? Who are the traitors he refers to at the end of the letter?
3. What does his August 9, 1873, letter reveal about his initial motivations for enlisting? Does it suggest any reasons for why he remains in the army? Do you think Clark is the only soldier who might have held such opinions? Why or why not?
4. Why reasons might Clark have to write, in his final letter above, that he wants "the Boys" to know that he is still "laboring in defense of the Star Spangled Banner"?