by Michael Gaddy by Michael Gaddy
I am an anarchist, as defined by Robert LeFevre. I believe that government contributes nothing of value to the individuals it governs. No matter what political party is in control, like a leech or a tick, government attaches itself to the body of freedom and feeds on the life-giving blood of that body, while imparting the Lyme disease of corruption, fear, pestilence and war. Finally, that decaying host/body of freedom and liberty is totally destroyed by the parasite called government.
People of a wicked and criminal nature are drawn to the stench of government like flies to manure. Even those of integrity who engage in service to the State find themselves administered and controlled by those who are wicked and criminal. They eventually learn, that if one is to advance in this government service, they must take on the characteristics of their leaders.
I am also a proud Southerner – born and bred. I revel in the writings of Thomas DiLorenzo, Professor Clyde Wilson, the brothers Kennedy and Michael Grissom, but thanks to my grandfather, who lived into his one hundredth year with an insatiable thirst for history, I know that the fledgling government of the Confederacy was just as cruel and wicked as any other.
The government of the Confederacy, born, as we believe, to the parents' self-determination and liberty, was nothing but coercion, violence and force wearing a butternut uniform.
I offer as partial evidence the plight of an ancestor, one Montraville Ray, listed in the 1860 census as a farmer, a husband and a father, who owned not one slave. I can't say whether Montraville was drawn to the service of his new country by a devotion to self-determination or whether he sought glory on the field of battle. There is nothing to be found in his available history to indicate either.
Montraville was my grandfather's uncle. Uncle Mont, as my grandfather called him, joined the u201CBlack Mountain Boysu201D of Yancey County in May of 1861, the records show, when the state of North Carolina seceded, not because it defended slavery but because President Abraham Lincoln ordered North Carolina and other states, not in rebellion, to furnish 75,000 troops to invade the states that had sought the right of self-determination by nullification.
Montraville and his fellow soldiers marched off to Statesville, North Carolina where they learned to march and drill and then off to Raleigh where they were dispatched by train to Virginia to do battle with the Yankee Army. The record indicates Montraville participated in several battles including Second Manassas. I have looked at the muster rolls, most kindly provided by the historian at the battlefield. I have stood somewhere near where this ancestor was as he was wounded in combat at the u201Crailroad cutu201D on August 29th, 1862.
Family history shows that somewhere after the battle of Second Manassas, Montraville received a letter from his wife. In the beginning of this letter he is told how proud his wife is of him and his service to his country. She then begins to describe the situation she is facing at home. With several young children to take care of, she is unable to tend the farm and manage the crops. She tells Montraville that his family is suffering, his children are going to bed hungry and there are no prospects for improvement. Montraville went to his superiors and explained the plight his family was facing. Then, as now, the welfare of the government was more important than was the welfare of those who fought for it and their families. Individuality and freedom were forced to take a back seat to coercion and slavery. The right of self-determination was trumped by the dominating desires of the State.
Montraville, saddled with the anguish of a suffering family and the wildly independent nature of his Scots Irish heritage, the very nature that led him to join the Army, did what he saw as his primary duty: he deserted the government and headed for home to provide for his ailing family. These mountain folk were a hardy and independent lot. One could bounce a musket ball off their pride.
Back home in the mountains of North Carolina, those who had influence over the matters of government, or money to buy their way out of military service, were engaged in defending the homeland, albeit far from the field of battle. These sunny day patriots defended the local area from hypothetical threats and sought rewards for returning deserters such as Montraville to the service of the Army they lacked the courage to join. The government, using the war as its rationale, turned neighbor against neighbor in a deadly manner during the war. Those who sought only to lead their lives the way they saw fit and to avoid conscription, which they saw as indentured servitude, were hunted down, many times with death, either to the hunter or the hunted, being the result. Wanting to be left alone made you a criminal and a terrorist to the cause!
Montraville related stories of his exploits upon returning home to his young nephew, (my grandfather) years after the war was over. He told of the constant harassment of this u201Chome guardu201D and of not being able to live with his family, but existing in the wilds of the mountains and sneaking home with meat and other necessities they desperately needed. He told of being in the mountains in the winter with no shoes, wrapping his feet in burlap, and losing these make-shift shoes as he ran through the snow to elude the u201Chome guardu201D and of the cuts on his feet from the frozen snow and ice.
Montraville was not alone in these mountains. There were others suffering the same plight. Many of them were called u201CToriesu201D by the u201Chome guardu201D and were often times shot on sight. Cash rewards were offered for their apprehension, living or as a cold corpse.
History books at the University of North Carolina say that Montraville became a leader of these Tories and in 1864 led a raid on Burnsville, North Carolina, burning the city to the ground. That fiercely independent nature would lead him to fight any imposed restrictions on his liberty, even those visited on him by the government he once chose to serve. Montraville Ray obviously believed that true freedom was indeed the lack of coercion.
My grandfather told me that Montraville was ostracized by many of the people of the area, even after the war was over. I will never forget his telling of the last time he saw Montraville alive. My grandfather was just a young teenager crossing the rugged mountains to make a visit to Asheville. This overland trip, on foot, took the better part of a week to negotiate. One night, as darkness was approaching, my grandfather saw a campfire in the distance. As he approached this campsite he yelled out to the as yet unknown occupant. Hearing a voice beckoning him in, my grandfather advanced to the fire and recognized u201CUncle Montu201D as the man tending it. After sharing a meal, Montraville asked my grandfather where he was living. My grandfather responded that he was living u201Cdown on the Cattail,u201D referring to the Cattail creek area, not far from Burnsville. He in turn asked Montraville where he was living. u201CRight hereu201D was the response. Montraville was never seen again, to my grandfather's knowledge. He died somewhere in those rugged mountains – a free man!
Another example of the atrocities and evils of government is most obvious in the story of those simply executed, the majority being old men and young boys, by the Confederate Army in the remote mountains of Madison County, North Carolina.
In the mountains is the community of Shelton Laurel. Even in the days of my youth these people continued to be fiercely independent. For a very long time I did not understand the old-timers referrals to this area as u201CBloody Madison.u201D Wars are a lot easier to start than they are to stop. The feelings generated by the war and the government's actions during that time created deep hatreds among families that once lived as peaceful neighbors.
In the days of the War Between the States, salt was a rare but necessary commodity. If one had no salt to cure meat for the winter, this could lead to hunger for the entire family and perhaps even starvation and death. Salt sold for as much as $50 a barrel, but to these mountain folks that might as well have been a million. The Confederate government decided that if these independent folks would not enslave themselves to the State, they were not deserving of salt. When the distribution of salt was made to the citizens of Madison, those people who chose freedom and self-determination over slavery were left out.
In January of 1863, a group of men raided the building where the salt was stored in Marshall and took what they determined to be their share. A provisional force led by Lt. Colonel Keith of the 64th North Carolina Regiment was ordered to apprehend these thieves and Union sympathizers by Confederate General Henry Heth. Colonel Keith would go to the settlements and coerce information as to the whereabouts of these men from the women and children who were there. Tactics used by this regiment could serve as examples for those in government who perpetrated the acts at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
Some women and young people were actually hung by the neck until they passed out. They were then revived and threatened with a repeat performance. One lady was tied in the door of her cabin and her infant placed in the snow right outside the cabin. She was told that when she told where the perpetrators were hiding, she would be allowed to get her infant but if she didn't she could watch it die; all this from the representatives of a government purporting to be fighting for the right of self-determination and freedom.
Using these tactics, information was secured by Colonel Keith that led to a group of older men and boys, who had nothing to do with the raid on Marshall, but were easy to apprehend and a convenient target for the troops. A march was started to take these u201Ccriminalsu201D to Tennessee for trial. Somewhere along the way, Colonel Keith decided that he would just take it upon himself to administer justice and save himself from a long ride in the cold of January. He took five of the number into a clearing away from the others. He promptly ordered his men to shoot these five as they were bound and forced to their knees in the snow. Some of his men refused this order and were told by this soldier of freedom that if they did not they could join those there on the ground. The five were executed. Another five were brought to the clearing, many seeing those previously killed and begging for their lives. They too were shot. Finally, the last three were brought to the meadow including a 13 year old named David Shelton. David begged for his life, seeing that his father and his brother had already been killed. He was promptly shot with the other two but was not killed outright. As he lay in the snow, again begging for his life, he was shot in the face. There were two eyewitnesses to this massacre.
Government can never resist the impulse to coerce and intimidate its citizens. The lure of power and money is just too strong and the will of most men, too weak. Even those governments founded on freedom will eventually succumb to this cancer. The government that evolved from the revolution of 1776 and the government of the South in 1861 are prime examples. Governments by their very nature are evil. This cancer of evil eventually brings death and destruction to the governed body. That death is, by nature, one of violence and upheaval. Ours is nearing that terminal stage.
Michael Gaddy [send him mail], an Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut, lives in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest.