On the first day of the battle of Gettysburg, Confederate forces chased Federals from their original positions. In panic they hastened through the village to Cemetery Ridge south. The result, as seen by residents of the town after the Union soldiers had gained the heights, or been captured by the Rebels, was an exultant Confederate army occupying their hometown.
Feisty with the overload of Pennsylvania’s food and supplies; rested and anxious to continue what they had achieved in battle that day, Southern troopers bragged that they had beaten Meade’s soldiers, taking 5000 prisoners—which they had. They also boasted that they would capture the whole Army of the Potomac they next day—which they wouldn’t.
All of this showed an arrogance begotten by the Confederates’ previous success in arms. They felt invincible, whatever the odds against them. And having bested what troops Meade had at hand the first day, they saw no reason they couldn’t manhandle the rest as they arrived.
Then…in the evening of that day…an act defying human decency. Confederate troops detached from fighting herded together blacks from their homes in West Gettysburg and marched them south through town on their way to slavery! Whether they were free blacks or escaped slaves, and however much the captives cried and groaned as they left, the Army of Robert E. Lee felt obsessed with the need to drag back into slavery blacks from Northern soil! Witness to Gettysburg, 163-164. That historical event was like Hitler’s obsession with killing Jews—the very sin that caused his destruction.
For those who think slavery wasn’t the root cause of the Civil War, THINK about that decision. Trained to fight, and leading troops in war, a Confederate officer felt the need to detach his men to return blacks to slavery! Truly, that obsession cost the South the independence it demanded so it could continue its penitentiary culture. All other differences between the sections were resolvable by negotiation—and, most always to the benefit of the South. But slavery was not negotiable. Indeed, as Lincoln had declared in June, 1858, the nation could no longer exist half-slave and half-free. And since God Almighty wanted he nation WHOLE, slavery had to die.