Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Last Confederate Holdout...!

Surprisingly, the last holdout of the Confederacy didn't give in until 1946. That's not all, either! This holdout was not as far south as you might think.

This is an interesting little bit of history that I never knew about. It might be a surprise to you as well!

The Confederate Town In New York That Held Out Until 1946
By Larry Jimenez on Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Unusual for a town so near the Canadian border, Town Line, New York voted to secede from the Union in 1861 and join the Confederacy. While the circumstances surrounding the treasonous act is shrouded in urban legend, the secession—ignored by the Union government—remains a curious aberration. Town Line was the only Northern town to turn rebel during the Civil War, and didn’t rejoin the US until 1946, making it the last stronghold of the Confederacy.

Town Line in Erie County, New York is only a few miles from the Canadian border. Go to the local fire station and until recently, you might have seen the personnel wearing shoulder patches reading “Last of the Rebels 1861–1946.” During Civil War celebrations, townsfolk display the Confederate flag and wear the Confederate gray. Any visitor would be baffled. It is well-known that the loyalty of towns farther south, near the Mason-Dixon Line, wavered along the divide between North and South during the war. But in upstate New York a few minutes from Canada? In a town populated in the 1860s by first- and second-generation German immigrants with no kinship ties to the South?

Nobody really knows the reason why, in late 1861, the men of Town Line gathered in a schoolhouse and voted 85–40 (or by some accounts 80–45) to leave the Union and join the Confederacy. They clearly supported Abraham Lincoln in the previous election. Among other provocations, perhaps the most likely was President Lincoln’s call for 75,000 men, to which the German farming community refused to comply.

The secession was largely symbolic, as the government did not recognize it. It never sent troops in to compel the town to return to the US, the Post Office continued its business and taxes were still duly paid. That didn’t mean, though, that the entire thing was a sham. There were real rebels in the town, and a few even left to actually enlist in the Confederate army. On the other hand, some of the men also fought for the Union. By 1864, as the tide of war turned against the South, the town’s secessionists were being harassed, forcing some to flee to Canada.

Things settled back to normal at the end of the war. The secession was conveniently forgotten until 1945. In a wave of patriotism accompanying American victory in World War II, residents realized that they were technically not part of the US. Returning veterans were chagrined and infuriated that they were not American. A special committee wrote to President Harry Truman about the situation. Truman responded good-naturedly, “Why don’t you run down the fattest calf in Erie County, barbecue it and serve it with fixins, and sort out your problems.” The matter was once again put to the vote. Incredibly, the first vote held on December 1945 still failed to secure unity. The town had by now become national news, and the next attempt at reunion was attended by celebrities like movie actor Cesar “the Joker” Romero. Finally, on January 26, 1946, Town Line officially voted to be readmitted into the Union. (Still, 23 rebels decided against the measure—truly the town’s last Confederates.) The rebel flag that had flown for 85 years was hauled down, and the residents took the oath of allegiance.

Whatever the reasons for Town Line’s secession, be it grievances against the government, or just plain stubborness and a streak of independence, the episode might just be the most curious anomaly to come out of the Brothers’ War.

Boy, just when you think you are familiar with the Confederacy, a story like this pops up. If it weren't for the folks over at KnowledgeNuts, I would have never known about this. Never too old to learn something new, I reckon!

Coffee out on the patio again today. The neighbor lady brought over some really good cookies I'll share!


Chickenmom said...

Good story, Mr. Hermit. There were more sympathizers in the North than people realize. Cookies and coffee - save me a seat!

Mamahen said...

Into resting tidbit...snowing here again with temps heading down toward 0° the next few nigh s so i'll enjoy your warm patio :))

linda m said...

What a fantastic story. I never heard this one before. Wow!!! Guess those fools didn't like TPTB telling them what to do. Coffee and cookies on the patio sound good. 8 degrees here with wind chill of -5.

JO said...

Another lesson learned here at the Hermits Patio. Amazing how things like this were never taught in school's American History.

Rob said...

"Another lesson learned", well said!

buddeshepherd said...

I'm with the 20 who voted no

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
Seems like they hung in there for a long time in some cases.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Mamahen...
That snow is really hanging around for a long time, isn't it? Bet you are ready for Spring.

Thanks for dropping by this morning!

Hey Linda M...
It was news to me as well!

Better to come hang out where it's warm.

Thanks for stopping by!

Hey Jo...
You know me...I do what I can. This came as a complete surprise to me as well!

Thanks, sweetie, for the visit this morning!

Hey Rob...
I learn something new every day, it seems!

Thanks for stopping by today!

HermitJim said...

Hey Buddeshepherd...
Probably a lot more out there that think the same way!

I appreciate the visit this morning!

Dizzy-Dick said...

In my travels, I have run into a lot of confederate supporters that I sure do believe it.