Browsing "Southern Heroism"

As Virginia Patriots Did Before Them

Northern General John Pope was a veteran of Missouri fighting and as commander of Lincoln’s army in Virginia in mid-1862, with Lincoln’s approval, issued orders for his men to confiscate from Virginia citizens “whatever food, forage, animals and other supplies they might require; to exile behind federal lines all male citizens who refuse to swear allegiance to the United States; to execute all persons who fire upon federal troops; to destroy the property of all such persons; to force local residents to repair any railroads, wagon roads, or telegraphs destroyed in their neighborhoods; and to deny guards for the homes of citizens who seek protection.” These were orders unprecedented in warfare, and directed against Americans.

As Virginia Patriots Did Before Them

“January 6, 1862: “Today Governor Letcher issued a proclamation designed to stir the passions of Virginians. The murderous and barbaric actions of the United States government during nine months of war have more than justified Virginia’s decision to secede, avers its chief executive.

Abraham Lincoln’s government, by its “unnatural” and “wicked” behavior, has “violated” and “annulled” the old compact between the States. More than that, Lincoln’s personal conduct has served to remind Southerners of another tyrannical and oppressive monarch who sought to enslave a free people some four score years ago. In another summer, in another century, that free and irrepressible people had risen up, joined together, cast off self-doubt, shoved aside its sunshine patriots, defied the penalty for failure, and declared its independence.

That, “our first revolution,” proclaims Letcher, can only serve to inspire Virginians and all Southerners in the unfinished task ahead. “We must be content with nothing less than the unqualified recognition of the independence of the Southern Confederacy and its nationality,” he continues; “and to this end we must meet the issue . . . with spirit, energy and determination.”

[In July, 1862, Culpepper, Virginia] has reacted as best it can. Some citizens take to the woods to plague detachments of federal troops as guerillas. Staccato exchanges of pistol and rifle fire vibrate across the country for the first time in the war. “The horrid Yankees have arrived,” reports one young lady. “There is skirmishing every day about the Rapidan River.”

The county makes so bold because they have heard rumors that Stonewall Jackson is rushing to the rescue. [No] one doubts that Stonewall will press on to liberate Culpepper [and that] includes the Union troops. It is as Pope has feared. Whatever confidence his address [to his troops] may have momentarily inspired is being corroded by the sniping and dreaded name of Jackson.”

(Seasons of War: The Ordeal of a Confederate Community, 1861-1865, Daniel E. Sutherland, excerpt, pp. 87-88; 117-119)

Mar 21, 2021 - American Military Genius, Memorials to the Past, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Commendable Deeds Transmitted to Posterity

Commendable Deeds Transmitted to Posterity

Ancient historians emphasized the study of past figures and societies to improve our own moral character. Polybius wrote that “not only is there no more authentic manner of preparing for political life than by studying history,” but there is no better teacher of the ability to endure with courage “the vicissitudes of Fortune than a record of other’s catastrophes.”

Commendable Deeds Transmitted to Posterity

“We are told by the historian of an earlier age that whenever the renowned men of the Roman commonwealth looked upon the statues of their ancestry, they felt their minds vehemently excited to virtue. It could not have been the bronze or marble that possessed this power, but the recollection of great actions which kindled a generous flame in their souls, not to be quelled until they also, by virtue and heroic deeds, had acquired equal fame and glory.

When a call to arms resounds throughout the land and a people relinquish the pleasant scenes of tranquil life and rally to their country’s call, such action is the result of an honest conviction that the act is commendable.

In recalling such an epoch, the wish that a true record of the deeds done should be transmitted to posterity must dominate every patriot heart. Loyalty to brave men, who for four long years of desolating war – years of undimmed glory – stood by each other and fought to the bitter end with indomitable heroism which characterized the Confederate soldier, demands from posterity a preservation of the memories of the great struggle.  We cannot find in the annals of history a grander record or prouder roll of honor, nor more just fame for bravery, patient endurance of hardships, and sacrifices.

The noble chieftain, Robert E. Lee said: “Judge your enemy from his standpoint, if you would be just.” Whatever may be said of the contention between the two great sections of the Union, whether by arbitration of council every issue might have been settled and a fratricidal war averted, there will be but one unalterable decree of history respecting the Confederate soldier.

His deeds are heroism “are wreathed around with glory,” and he will ever be honored, because he was not only brave and honorable, but true to his convictions.”

(Military History of Florida, Col. J.J. Dickison: Confederate Military History, Vol. XI, Confederate Publishing Co., 1899, excerpt. pp. 3-4)

Mar 21, 2021 - Patriotism, Reconstruction, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on A Pensacola Lawyer from New England

A Pensacola Lawyer from New England

Confederate Brigadier-General Edward A. Perry, born on a farm near Richmond, Massachusetts in 1831, was descended from old New England stock which migrated to America in the 1630’s. He attended Yale for two years before moving to Alabama where he taught school and studied law.  In the postwar he rebuilt his life and turned to politics in the 1880s, and became governor in 1885. His primary platform issue was replacing the odious carpetbag constitution forced upon Floridians in 1868.

A Pensacola Lawyer from New England

“Perry moved to Pensacola, Florida about 1856, where he formed a partnership with Richard L. Campbell. Perry and Virginia Taylor [of Alabama] were married during this time and led a quiet and happy life together until he volunteered to defend his adopted State.

On the eve of the Civil War Pensacola seethed with military activities. Federal soldiers with the stars and stripes overhead held the forts guarding the harbor. A town which normally welcomed the regulars, now presented a hostile front. The young lawyer had a hard and momentous decision to make, for his native State and his family – were loyal to the Union.

His wife was a Southerner and he had chosen to make his living in the South. Although it meant fighting against his brothers, he volunteered his services to his State, the State of his adoption. Early in 1861 he was elected captain of an infantry company known as the Pensacola Rifle Rangers. The company first saw service near Pensacola when they captured the naval base, with Fort Barrancas and Fort McRee.  In July, 1861, the Rifle Rangers became Company A, Second Florida Infantry Regiment, and was assigned to the Army of Northern Virginia.

The regiment received its baptism of fire in the defense of Yorktown . . . On May 10, 1862, Perry was elected colonel of the Second Florida, [after] first demonstrating his leadership in the Seven Days fight for Richmond. In November the Florida regiments . . . [were] organized into the Florida Brigade under the command of Perry, promoted to brigadier-general.

[Perry led his men at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, but contracted typhoid fever before Gettysburg, where] the Florida Brigade lost about one-half its effective strength. At the Wilderness in May of 1864, General Perry, badly wounded, became permanently disabled for front line duty, thus depriving Florida troops of their gallant leader. [By late 1864] Perry’s men, who had once numbered over three thousand, were down to less than five hundred. When the end came at Appomattox . . . the original Perry Brigade numbers nineteen officers and 136 men left of the original three thousand.”

(Edward A. Perry, Yankee General of the Florida Brigade, Sigsbee C. Prince, Jr., Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 3, January 1951, excerpts pp. 197-203)

Mar 11, 2021 - Carnage, Patriotism, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Mr. Murphy’s Boy

Mr. Murphy’s Boy

Battery Buchanan, named for Admiral Franklin Buchanan, CSN, is located about one mile south of Fort Fisher and provided a citadel for the fort’s garrison in case of being overwhelmed by enemy forces.  The fort finally fell in mid-January 1865. The following was an incident told in Capt. Claudius B. Denson’s “Memorial Address on General Whiting,” delivered in Raleigh on Memorial Day, 1895. It was written to Capt. Denson by Sergeant Glennan.

Denson was a Virginian who in 1858 founded the first military school in North Carolina, located at Faison in Duplin County and known as the Franklin Military Institute. With the approach of war in 1861, the cadets were among the first to offer their services to the Governor.

Mr. Murphy’s Boy

“During the bombardment of Fort Fisher, there was at headquarters a detail of couriers, consisting of youths fifteen to eighteen years of age – the bravest boys I had ever seen; their courage was magnificent.

They were on the go all the time, carrying orders and messages to every part of the fort.  Among them was a boy named Murphy, a delicate stripling. He was from Duplin County, the son of Mr. Patrick Murphy. He had been called upon a number of times to carry orders, and had just returned from one of his trips to Battery Buchanan.

The [enemy] bombardment had been terrific, and he seemed exhausted and agitated. After reporting, he said ‘Sergeant, I have no fear personally; morally, I have, because I not think I am the Christian I ought to be. This is my only fear of death.”

And then he was called to carry another order. He slightly wavered and General [W.H.C.] Whiting saw his emotion. ‘Come on, my boy,’ he said, ‘don’t fear, I will go with you,’ and he went off with the courier and accompanied him to and from the point where he had to deliver the order. It was one of the most dangerous positions and over almost unprotected ground.

The boy and the general returned safely. There was no agitation after that, and that evening he shouldered his gun when every man was ordered on duty to protect the fort from [an enemy charge]. The boy met death soon after and his spirit wafted onward to a heavenly home. The General received his mortal wound in the same contest, in the thickest of the fight.

I tried to find the remains of my boy friend, but in vain. He rests in a nameless grave, but his memory will ever be treasured.”

(Chronicles of the Cape Fear River, 1660-1916, James Sprunt, Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, 1916, excerpt pp. 274-275)

Escorting President Davis

Thomas Goode Jones (1844-1914), was a boy of fifteen when he enrolled in Virginia Military Institute in 1860, and served under then-Major Thomas J. Jackson as drillmaster of troops in Richmond. Jones was wounded in battle, complimented for bravery, and with the rank of Major, led his men in the last charge at Appomattox. On April 9, 1865, he physically carried the flag of truce on his sword to enemy lines for General Lee. Major Jones’ ancestors were of Welsh extraction, the most famous being Pocahontas and John Jones of the Virginia Militia during the first War of Independence. He was elected Governor of Alabama in 1890.

Escorting Jefferson Davis

“As a conservative, Thomas Goode Jones seems to have accepted institutions as they existed. Growing up in a slave-holding family amid a slave-holding society, he never seems to have questioned the institution of slavery while he was growing up or while he served the Confederacy. And yet . . . his family treated their slaves well.

While Jones was serving as reporter for the Alabama Supreme Court at the time when it was dominated by Reconstruction Republicans, the Justices agreed to march in a 4th of July procession of “carpetbaggers” and blacks, and Jones agreed to ride with them. Twenty years later, this was used against him in his race for Governor.

[At] the 1901 [Alabama Constitutional] Convention, the issue of race relations arose several times, and on each occasion [Governor] Jones emerged as the spokesman for moderation. [He argued for the militia to be comprised of both white and black men, stating] “I remember well, Mr. President, in the dark days, when the sun of the Confederacy was setting around us . . . that the Confederate Congress, under the inspiration of Robert E. Lee, passed an act authorizing the employment of Negroes in the Confederate army.”

[Jones continues] “Mr. President, on one occasion I had the honor to command the escort for President Jefferson Davis in his last tour through Alabama and Georgia. We came to the little town of Albany in Georgia. While we were there, a Negro captain of a Negro company came up and asked to have the privilege of escorting the carriage of Mr. Davis.

I said to him that I would refer his request to Mr. Davis, and I did so. Mr. Davis said he would be glad to have him, “he was glad to see that spirit exhibited on their part towards him and the whites, and he wanted to encourage it.”

If Jefferson Davis could take that position, surely it is not a matter of reproach to myself or [former Governor] William C. Oates that we are of the same opinion.”

(Warrior, Statesman, Jurist for the South: The Life, Legacy and Law of Thomas Goode Jones, John A. Eidsmoe, Sprinkle Publications, 2003, excerpts pp. 189; 196)

The Mainspring of Human Conduct

Address of Judge John A. Campbell, Decoration of Confederate Graves, May 1, 1874

“It is well for us to recur to the principle underlying the Confederate movement. Never was a cause apparently less understood or more maligned. The history of the world furnishes many instances of revolutions, rebellions and wars for insufficient causes. The maintenance of the claims of an individual or family to supreme authority, trivial complaints, trifling affronts, desire for aggrandizement, pride and ambition, have been prolific causes of popular uprisings or national contests. But none of these actuated our movement.

It sprang from a spirit of independence, which is hereditary and part of our being; a belief in the right and a sublime determination to maintain it. If successful, it would have been pronounced right. Failure don’t make it wrong.

The impelling cause was far greater and more justifiable than led to the American Revolution, and the different result can’t change the dictates of justice and the decision of right reason. The spirit which has ever animated and will ever inspire the resisters of oppression, impelled the Southern people. To judge fairly and determine justly, their action must be estimated from their standpoint.

This is the rule applied to individuals and applicable to masses. We must transport ourselves to their situation, circumstances and surroundings, see as they saw it, believe as they believed, feel as they felt, and consider the justice and reasonableness of their apprehensions from what they saw and felt.

Doing this, it is discovered that the movement sprang from the principle of self-preservation – the mainspring of human conduct, innate in the soul. For many years a bitter contest of words had been waged between North and South, originating in conscience and sentiment, gathering force as it progressed, and quickened into a fervid zeal by union and party efforts, until it culminated in party triumph in the election of a president on a platform of hostility to an overshadowing interest of Southern society.

The determination was to seek safety by withdrawing from a union, which it was thought was about to be made an engine for the destruction of our rights. There was nothing unnatural or unprecedented in this; there was no hostility to the people of the North; there was no dissatisfaction with the Constitution; war was not desired nor sought by us, but was deprecated, and tried by every means to be averted.

War resulted; a long, a fierce and terrible war, waged by the United States for subjugation and by the Confederate States for existence.

[The] Confederate flag was furled, and in its folds were enclosed the hopes of millions who had proudly gazed upon its stars and bars and fondly hoped that it would wave forever, an emblem of the right of self-government – the banner of a free people.

No national standard was ever raised more justly nor rallied to by a nobler band of brave hearts; no contest was ever maintained more gallantly; choicer spirits were never sacrificed at any shrine; fairer hands never toiled for any object; sweeter voices never were heard in prayer for any effort; purer hearts were never enlisted in any cause. But it still failed.

It devolves on the survivors of the Confederate period to preserve the truth of their history, and hand down, from generation to generation, a correct account of the impelling cause of the unfortunate struggle, in order that the cruelty of injustice to our motives shall not be added to the pangs of defeat.”

(The Lost Cause, Address by Judge J. A. P. Campbell, Delivered at Canton, May 1, 1874, on the Occasion of the Decoration of the Graves of Confederate Soldiers; Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume XVI, January-December, 1888, pp. 232-236)

 

Jan 17, 2021 - American Military Genius, Carnage, Lincoln's Blood Lust, Myth of Saving the Union, No Compromise, Pleading for Peace, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots, Uncategorized    Comments Off on “Not Since Hermann Destroyed the Roman Legions”

“Not Since Hermann Destroyed the Roman Legions”

The Wilderness battle was fought July 1-3, 1864: 104,000 Union troops versus 61,000 Southern. Once again the carnage was appalling and once again Lincoln had the opportunity to end the struggle against the South’s independence as the British did some eighty years earlier with the colonies. Several peace conferences committed to saving the lives of soldiers and civilians alike would end in failure as Lincoln stood firm in his conviction to rule all the American States, and nearly half in subjugation.

“Not Since Hermann Destroyed the Roman Legions”

“Before the close of the day Grant’s army was on the south side [of the Rapidan], four thousand wagons filled with forage and ammunition, beef-cattle, cavalry, artillery and infantry. This feat was so pleasing that Grant regarded it as a great success and “undoubtedly a surprise to Lee.” The ensuing night the Union army entrenched and camped in the Wilderness, that tangled forest in which Hooker had come to grief.

Now that Grant was busy with his operations, Lee had not been idle. He had observed the movements of the enemy from every angle and had made a report to his government. Yet the crushing numbers of the enemy gave him concern. He made no excuses, raised no questions and expressed no doubts, but he must have more troops.

By April 30 the federal plans had been foreseen by Lee, precisely as they had been worked out by General Grant, and he had prepared his line of defense. In the Wilderness, he would attack Grant’s army on its left flank and throw it back on the Rapidan. He would make a strategic offensive and concentrate his forces and shut Grant up in that dense jungle.

Of this strategy of Lee’s it must be said it was one of his boldest and most skillful. His proposed plan, experts declare, broke all modern precedent – it was to be a duel in the dark. Such an engagement had not been fought since Hermann destroyed the Roman legions in the forest of Teutoburg.

But Lee was not bound by rule. He practiced his own theory of the art of war and, in the coming campaign, was to furnish such an example of the use of natural features to neutralize a superior force as will always be a model. Grant’s telegraph lines were to be rendered useless, his artillery rendered useless, his artillery wholly ruled out, the guns, three hundred of them, to stand silent. Cavalry was to be still more useless.

Five times the federal charge was made and five times it failed. [The last days’ assault] lasted but sixty minutes, yet it was one of the most disastrous Union defeats of the war. Six thousand Union soldiers were killed or wounded in an hour, and Cold Harbor passed into history with Fredericksburg. The fatality among the Union officers was astounding; they literally went forward and led their men into battle and death.  The loss to Lee’s army was slight.”

(Robert E. Lee: A Biography, Robert W. Winston, William Morrow & Co., 1934, excerpts pp. 291-292; 306-307)

Assuming Puritanical Attitudes

Born at sea while his family sailed from Ireland to America, John Newland Mafffitt was destined for a life on the water. Having just relinquished command of the USS Crusader at New York on March 1, 1861, after several years capturing New England-captained and financed slavers off Cuba, the country he had left had become something different.

Soon to become one of the most famed of blockade runners and privateers, he had, by his account, in the first three of his four captures of slavers, rescued 789 Africans from their cramped holds.

The Wilmington Daily Journal of 25 September 1863 remarked, “It is a curious fact, for those who maintain the civil war in America is founded upon the slave question, that [Maffitt] should be the very man who has distinguished himself actively against the slave trade.”  

Though describing himself as a “slave holder” due to a modest interest in land he had inherited from his wife’s family, Maffitt found the newly-rediscovered morality of New Englanders disingenuous.

Assuming Puritanical Attitudes

“The news of Fort Sumter reached Washington in the early evening of April 13, causing intense excitement within the city. Maffitt now faced his terrible decision of allegiance. He could hear the tramp of soldiers and the roll of artillery wagons day and night outside his house. Southern families departed daily; resignations were announced “in language of gall and bitterness.” Maffitt’s relatives were in the South. His property was partly in the North – his Washington home with its valuable furnishings and fine library; and partly in the South interest in land he inherited . . .

He recoiled against a people who sold slaves to Southerners and then became puritanical in their attitudes:

‘I fancied that New England, with her well-developed secession proclivities, would offer no material objection to the course of the South. In truth it was natural to presume that fanatical abolitionism would hail with joy the departure of the un-Godly, slaveholding section of the country from her unwelcome participation in the Union. But material interest gave zest to patriotism, and her war course would lead the world to suppose that she never contemplated a severance from the Union and forming a Northern Confederation.”

(High Seas Confederate: The Life and Times of John Newland Maffitt, Royce Shingleton, University of South Carolina Press, 1994, excerpts pp. 30; 32-33)  

Defenders of Their Once Peaceful Homes

Bethel, Virginia is located about ten miles from Yorktown where Cornwallis surrendered and virtually ended the Revolutionary War, with French assistance. Oddly enough, the War to conquer the South began near the same place, Little Bethel Church and a little further north, Big Bethel Church.

In command of forces invading Virginia was Massachusetts lawyer and General, Benjamin Butler.  His plan of battle was described as “the official plan for the first battle for the maintenance of the Republic.” The object of Butler’s expedition “was stated in these unconventional words: “If we bag the Little Bethel men, push on to Great Bethel, and simultaneously bag them.  Burn both Bethels or blow up if brick.” Most of the work, it was further directed, was to be done with the bayonet.

Colonel John B. Magruder was commander of three Southern regiments, one of which was the First North Carolina Volunteers under Col. D. H. Hill.

Defenders of Their Once Peaceful Homes

“Yorktown, Virginia July 3, 1861

To: Mrs. Hugh McCormick, Bladen County, NC

As I am not well today I am not at work. I cannot pass off my time in a more satisfactory way than writing to one of my most highly esteemed cousins. I hope when this letter is received by you that Cousin Hugh, you and the babe will be well and enjoying the richest blessings of life.

 Cousin Bettie, I am now faring worse than I ever have. I try to take it in good faith, since I do not consider myself better than those who are sharing the same fate. I will stand firmly under all the hardships and temptations I’m exposed to here.

The Cause that I’m engaged in is a glorious one. Please do not understand me to say that Civil War is a glorious thing – it is not. On the other hand it is the greatest curse that ever befell a nation. But we did not introduce war into our peaceful land. We are only defenders of our once peaceful homes. We have taken up arms to drive back the invading foe and the hirelings of the North. Our commanders are much stronger than Lincoln or Scott. I believe our great Benefactor is interceding for us and will continue to do so as long as we are engaged in the right Cause.

Tell Cousin Hugh that I was in the battle at Bethel. Our company was in the most exposed position of any of them . . . We could only dodge the balls the best way we could. The shells came so thick it gave the appearance of a hailstorm. A shell burst about twenty or thirty feet from me in the air.

Cousin Bettie, I must close by saying I hope to see you all one more time.

Yours until death, N.G. King”

(Our John of Argyll and Cumberland, An Informal Narrative of John MacCormick and His Descendants, 1762-1976, Luola MacCormick Love, Publisher, 1976, pp. 55-56)

No Quarter for Old Men and Beardless Boys

Marianna, Florida was a peaceful west Florida town of prewar Whigs who bitterly opposed their State’s secession. Aware of the theft and destruction Northern forces had visited upon other Florida towns, Marianna made ready to defend their homes. Though a disaster for the town, the old men and boys succeeded in causing sufficient casualties to thwart the enemy advance to Tallahassee, and force its retreat to Pensacola.

No Quarter for Old Men and Beardless Boys

“On the morning of the 25th of September, 1864, the usually quiet town of Marianna, in west Florida, of about 2,000 inhabitants, was in a state of great anxiety over the report that the “Yankees were coming.”

The church bells were rung, calling out all citizens to the court house, where a meeting was held and resolutions passed to repel the invaders. A few Confederate soldiers, then at home and on sick leave, formed the nucleus of an organization which was at once perfected. Grayheaded old men, boys under 16 years of age within the town and ten miles around, regardless of previous Union sentiment, arrived with shotguns and formed what they themselves called “The Cradle and Grave Militia company,” in all about 200, and partly mounted.  They elected Captain Norwood, a prominent Unionist, as their captain, and reported for duty . . . full of ardor and brave endeavor. [Their commander formed a defensive] line with its right at the boarding-house and the left resting at the Episcopal church.

[The enemy invader] consisted of a battalion of the Second Maine cavalry . . . and several companies of deserters, the so-called First regiment of Florida Troops, and two full companies of ferocious Louisiana Negroes, in all about 600 . . . [the enemy] detached a part of his command to flank the village, and advanced the main body directly toward the church.

An indiscriminate firing began from the Confederate front and rear, the old men and beardless boys fighting like enraged lions, disputing every inch of ground. The contest was fierce and deadly for half an hour, when [the enemy commander] ordered the church, boarding-house and a private residence opposite burned.

The militia kept their ground manfully between the two walls of flames. In the meantime the Federal flanking party gained the rear of the militia and commenced an indiscriminate slaughter, giving no quarter to anyone. The Negro companies in particular acted in a most fiendish manner. Old men and boys who offered to surrender were driven into the flames of the burning buildings; young lads who laid down their arms were cut to pieces; others picked up bodily by stalwart Negro soldiers and thrown into the seething, burning church.

The half-charred remains of several of the half-grown boys were afterward found in the ruins of the church. The Confederates scattered in every direction, every man for himself, pursued by the Maine cavalry who kept up a steady fire on them. The whole fight lasted about an hour . . . [the enemy] would return to Pensacola with their prisoners, contraband and plunder.

The day after the fight, Marianna presented a pitiable sight. The dead and wounded lay all about, and the wails and cries of mothers, wives and sisters could be heard in every direction. Women and children searched for father, son or brother in the ashes of the burnt buildings. Here and there a charred thigh or ghastly skull was disinterred from the debris.”

(Federal Incursion to Marianna, J.J. Dickison, Confederate Military History, Clement A. Evans, editor, Confederate Publishing Company, 1899, excerpts pp. 114-117)