Browsing "Patriotism"

“Let the Lightnings of Heaven Rend Me”

 Reuben Everett Wilson was born in Stokes County, North Carolina, enlisted in the Yadkin (County) Grey Eagles, and was elected lieutenant of Company B, Twenty-first North Carolina Troops in May 1861. Less than a year later he was transferred to Company A, First North Carolina Sharpshooters where he rose to Major. In August of 1862 he was severely wounded near Warrenton, Virginia when an enemy ball broke both bones in his forearm, and grapeshot shattered his left leg below the knee. In early April, 1865 near Petersburg, his left leg was cut off by an enemy shell, was captured, hospitalized, paroled, rearrested, imprisoned, and finally released in December 1865.

Of his participation in defending his State and country, Major Wilson said after the war:

“If I ever disown, repudiate or apologize for the cause for which Lee and Jackson died, let the lightnings of Heaven rend me, and the scorn of all good men and true women be my portion. Sun, moon, stars, all fall on me when I cease to love the Confederacy.”

One might surmise that Major Wilson believed he was fighting for his State, and the Union known as the Confederate States of America.

 

A Splendid Body of American Soldiers

After fighting Sherman’s army of invaders to a standstill with one-quarter of their strength, Joe Johnston’s revived Army of Tennessee marched in review and under the gaze of the assembled North Carolina citizens. Gen. Thomas L. Clingman of North Carolina, exhorted his chief to allow his men to fight the invading host to the last, surpass the Greeks and gain everlasting immortality.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Splendid Body of American Soldiers

“After the battle of Bentonville, General [Joseph E.] Johnston retired his army to Smithfield, where he remained confronting [the enemy] for three weeks. While here General Johnston held a review 6 April, at which many ladies and civilians of Raleigh, including Governor Vance and officers of the State and Confederate Government were present. The army presented a fine appearance and the men were in excellent spirits.

There were in this army remnants of commands who under Albert Sidney Johnston won the first day’s battle of Shiloh, and nearly annihilated Grant’s army. Men who under Bragg, had won the battles of Murfreesboro and Chickamauga, and under Johnston had confronted Sherman from Dalton to Atlanta; the men who under Hood, had been in the disastrous battle of Franklin; who had followed [Generals Nathan Bedford] Forrest and [Joe] Wheeler and [Wade] Hampton and had successfully defended Fort Sumter for four years against the combined land and sea forces of the United States, and the brigades of [General Robert F.] Hoke’s Division, who had won endearing renown in the Army of Northern Virginia.

Here also were assembled those regiments of Junior Reserves, who under Colonels Hinsdale, Anderson, Broadfoot and Walter Clark emulated the heroism of their veteran comrades, and who on the battlefields of Kinston and Bentonville had shown they were of the same [mettle] as their sires and deserving of imperishable record in the history of their country.

It was a splendid body of American soldiers; survivors of a hundred battlefields; and as they marched proudly in review before their General, they were conscious of duty nobly done and nerved for any future service that might be required of them in defense of their country.

General Clingman visited his brigade while in camp at Smithfield, and though on crutches, asked of General Johnston the honor of commanding the rear guard. This was denied him, as he was physically unable to perform such duty, and he addressed the Southern commander as follows:

“Sir, much has been said about dying in the last ditch. You have left with you here thirty thousand of as brave men as the sun ever shone upon. Let us take our stand here and fight the two armies of Grant and Sherman to the end, and thus show to the world how far we can surpass the Thermopylae of the Greeks.”

(Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-65, Walter Clark, editor, Volume IV, Nash Brothers, 1901, excerpt, pp. 498-499)

The South Needs No Eulogy

Alexander White, antebellum United States Congressman from the Talledega District in Alabama and member of the State Convention in 1865, presented this speech to the convention. White “loved his country, he had loved the land of his birth, his native Alabama, before her disasters, before she was stricken down by armed battalions; but now in her misfortunes and desolation, now that she was in chains, he loved her more than ever.” Like Robert E. Lee, his country was his State, and to it he owed his allegiance above all else.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The South Needs No Eulogy

“Mr. President:

The Bonnie Blue flag no longer reflects the light of the morning sunbeam, or kisses with its silken folds the genial breezes of our Southern clime. The hands that waved it along the crest of a hundred battle-fields, and the hearts, for the love they bore it, that so often defied danger and death, no longer rally around it. Another banner waves in triumph over its closed and prostate folds; but proud memories and glorious recollections cluster around.

Sir, I will refrain. The South needs no eulogy. The faithful record of her achievements will encircle her brow with glory bright and enduring as the diadem that crowns the night of her cloudless skies. The scenes of Marathon and Platae have been reenacted in the New World without the beneficent results which flow from those battle-fields of freedom, and our country lies prostate at the feet of the conqueror.

But dearer to me is she in this hour of her humiliation than she was in the day and hour of her pride and her power. Each blood-stained battle-field, each track of her devastation, each new-made grave of her sons fallen in her defense, each mutilated form of the Confederate soldier — her widow’s tear, her orphan’s cry, are but so many chords that bind me to her in her desolation, and draw my affections closer around my stricken country.

When I raise my voice or lift my hand against her, may the thunder rive me where I stand!

Though I may be false in all else, I will be true to her. Though all others may prove faithless, I will be faithful still. And when, in obedience to the great summons, “Dust to dust,” my heart shall return to that earth from whence it sprang, it shall sink into her bosom with the proud consciousness that it never knew one beat not in union with the honor, the interests, the glory of my country.”

(Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama, William Garrett, Plantation Publishing Company’s Press, 1872, excerpts, pp. 562-564)