||2. Internal Military Interventions before 1877||Page 4|
Aptheker, like others, speculates that the dependence of the South on militia to maintain suppression of slaves greatly under-mined its ability to commit troops to the Civil War and may have been a major contributing factor in its defeat.
The records of federal troop interventions against slave revolts quoted by Reichley (1939) refer only to 'Negro Insurrections' in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Virginia in 1831. In Louisiana, two companies were engaged, in North Carolina two artillery companies, and in Virginia, where a full-scale revolt took place under the leadership of the slave Nat Turner, eleven federal companies were mobilized, over 3,000 Virginia militia, and the state militia of Maryland and North Carolina as well. Federal troops were also used to suppress the abolitionist insurrection led by John Brown at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1859.
There were other federal interventions against slave revolts according to Aptheker (1943). A battle in New Orleans in 1811 involved 60 army troops from New Orleans, .200 from Baton Rouge, and 400 state militia, with a toll of 66 slaves killed in the initial engagement and many others executed later. In 1816 and 1820 hundreds were killed by federal troops suppressing slave rebellions in Florida. Technically, one might say that these were not internal interventions because Louisiana did not become a state until 1812 and Florida not until 1845. Other interventions by federal troops against slave revolts occurred in Richmond, Virginia, in 1800, Mississippi in 1807, and New Orleans in 1826. In 1831, in response to rumors of slave revolts, federal troops were sent to New Orleans and to Ft Monroe, Virginia, to prepare for possible intervention, and federal troops were again mobilized in New Orleans in 1837 and 1840.
Internal warfare continued in the South after the Civil War during the period of Reconstruction. At first, the Southern states reinstituted a militia which Mahon (1983, p. 108) describes as 'virtually the old Confederate Army down to the worn gray uniforms left over from the Civil War'. Then, in 1867, the US Congress under Republican control outlawed these militia. Two years later, the Congress established a new militia composed primarily of black soldiers. Fighting then occurred between these black militia and the illegal white armies. According to Mahon, 'two hundred and ninety white rifle companies sprang up at one time in South Carolina alone' (p. 109). Eventually the old racist forces of the South regained the upper hand following numerous bloody confrontations. Details may be found in the history of federal troop interventions for that period published by the US Army's Center of Military History (Coakley, 1988).
(continued on next page)