Browsing "Southern Heroism"
Jun 9, 2024 - Patriotism, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots, The War at Sea    Comments Off on Fighting for the “Juster Cause”

Fighting for the “Juster Cause”

Fighting for the “Juster Cause”

The following details the first encounter of the revolutionary CSS Virginia with the USS Monitor after the former had sunk the USS Cumberland and severely damaged the USS Congress the previous day. The Virginia was commanded by Commodore Franklin Buchanan, with Lt. Catesby Jones assuming command after Buchanan was injured. Also aboard was the indefatigable Lt. John Taylor Wood.

“When Jones saw that the Virginia’s guns only dented the Monitor’s turret, he ordered his gun commanders to concentrate their fire on her pilothouse. The vessels wore around until the Virginia’s stern was only ten yards from the Monitor’s pilothouse. Wood quickly barked out the necessary orders to his stern gun crew. A lightning flash erupted from the muzzle of the powerful Brooke rifle and a heavy shell seared the air to strike against the front of the Monitor’s pilothouse, directly in the observation slit. The explosion cracked the iron and partially lifted the top. The blow partly stunned the commander and filled his eyes with powder, temporarily blinding him while ordering his ship to disengage the Virginia. The Monitor retired briefly but resumed firing again.

Wood now had an idea that foreshadowed his special place in the war. As a last hope to defeat the Monitor, he called for volunteers to form a boarding party which he intended to lead to the enemy deck. The response was enthusiastic, and Wood organized the group into special forces, each with a specific task. Some collected sledgehammers and spikes to wedge the Monitor’s turret. Others were ready to fling oakum-ball grenades down the pipes and cover all openings with canvas to cut off visibility and air. A few men carried pistols, boarding pikes and cutlasses in the event of hand-to-hand combat. The Confederates intended to win this battle with brains, seamanship, heroism and the “juster cause.”

When all was ready, the Virginia made a run for the Monitor. The boarding party watched from all ports, each man “burning for the signal to swarm around the foe.” The blood was “fairly tumbling through our veins” recalled one crewmember as the hoarse bark of the boatswain called “boarders away.” At that moment, however, the Monitor frustrated the scheme by standing away and steaming to shallow water.

Wood was disappointed, and with good reason, since the would-be-boarders might well have succeeded [in capturing the Monitor].”

(John Taylor Wood: Sea Ghost of the Confederacy. Royce Gordon Shingleton. UGA Press, 1979, pp. 35-36)

Jun 2, 2024 - Myth of Saving the Union, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Americans Besieged

Americans Besieged

The commander of North Carolina’s Fort Fisher, Colonel William Lamb of Virginia, spoke postwar of his men defending the fortress in early 1865: “When I recall this magnificent struggle, unsurpassed in ancient or modern warfare, and remember the devoted patriotism and heroic courage of my garrison, I feel proud to know that I have North Carolina blood coursing through my veins, and I confidently believe that the time will come with the Old North State, when her people will regard her defence of Forth Fisher as the grandest event in her heroic past.” Gen. William Whiting commanded the Cape Fear District and came to the fort after Gen. Bragg’s reluctance to confront the enemy.

Americans Besieged

“In the midst of the whirling shells, he scarcely removed his pipe from his mouth as he stood on the open rampart spattered from the bursting shells. Lieutenant Hunter, of the 36th North Carolina, wrote of Gen. Whiting:

“I saw him standing with folded arms, smiling upon the 400-hundred-pound shell as it stood smoking and spinning like a billiard ball on the sand, not twenty feet away, until it burst, and then moved away quietly. I saw him fifty times a day – I saw him fight and saw him pray; and he was all that a General should be in battle. He was the best-equipped man in the Confederate States to defend the port of Wilmington, and his relief by Gen. Braxton Bragg brought gloom over the entire command.”

Time fails me to relate the details of the great battle of the 13th, 14th and 15th of January 1865. The enemy fleet arrived the night of the 12th, and early the next day began the rain of projectiles, increasing in fury at times to 160 per minute, and directed by converging fire to the destruction of the guns on the land force of Fort Fisher, and in the pounding of the northeast salient to a shapeless ruin.

Again, General Whiting came to the fort, on the first day’s bombardment, and upon his entrance said to Col. William Lamb: “I have come here to share your fate, my boy. You are to be sacrificed. The last thing I heard Gen. Bragg say was to point out a line to fall back upon, when Fisher fell.”

The firing never ceased – all day and all night long the 11-inch and 15-inch fiery globes rolled along the parapet; the palisades were cut to pieces, the wires to the mines were ploughed up in the deep sands. An English officer who had been at Sebastopol declared it was but child’s play to this terrific shaking of the earth and sea, by a fleet whose broadside could throw 44,000 pounds of iron at a single discharge.

The defenders fought on – their quarters having been burned along with their blankets and clothing – in the depth of winter, for three days, with cornmeal and coffee and uncooked rations – for not even a burial party could put its head out of a bombproof without casualties. On the evening of the 13th, some 8,500 troops landed four miles north, and in the language of their commander, as if at some exciting sport, with no one to molest them. Telegram after telegram besought Gen. Bragg to attack; but his troops had been ordered sixteen miles away for an idle review, and when in position again, he refused to attack the two brigades of colored troops which held the land side, though urged repeatedly by telegraph. The fire suddenly increased to inconceivable fury about 3PM pf the 15th, and the air was hot with bursting shells. All at once there was ominous silence, and the column of the enemy, 1,600 picked sailors and 400 marines, were seen approaching the northeast redan.

Whiting and Lamb rallied their gallant band upon the exposed ramparts – the struggle was terrible, but with twenty-one officers killed and wounded, that enemy column was broken to pieces, and a sight never seen in the world before, of two thousand US Naval troops in full flight, leaving four hundred on the sands and their commander, Breese, simulating death among them to escape capture.

But alas, two battles were going on at the same time! Just as the naval attack was beaten back, Gen. Whiting saw the enemy flags planted on the traverses. Calling on the troops to follow him, they fought hand-to-hand with clubbed muskets, and one traverse was retaken. Just as he was climbing the other to remove the enemy flag, General Whiting fell, receiving two wounds – one very severe through the thigh. Colonel Lamb fell with a desperate hip wound a half hour after Whiting, while the enemy poured into the fortress.

It was the struggle of North Carolina patriots. Lamb, in the fort’s hospital, found voice enough, though faint unto death, to say, “I will not surrender!” And Whiting, lying among the surgeons nearby, responded, “Lamb, if you die, I will assume command and I will never surrender.”

(A Memoir of the Late Major-General William Henry Chase Whiting. C.B. Denson. Edwards & Broughton, 1895, pp. 40-42)

 

Conquest, Not Union

On April 12, 1864, Fort Pillow, located north of Memphis on the Mississippi River, was surrounded by some 1,500 troops under Gen’s. Nathan Bedford Forrest and James Chalmers. After sending an ultimatum to surrender or suffer “no quarter” and the enemy rejecting capitulation, Forrest’s men attacked and caused most of the enemy’s 600 soldiers to flee into the river. As northern colored troops were half of the fort’s garrison, they suffered great loss along with their white counterparts, and the usual cries of “massacre” were heard from northern reporters anxious to sell newspapers to a gullible public. The Radical Republicans were also quick to establish a congressional committee to investigate Fort Pillow for political purposes.

This pattern was repeated late in the war as the northern public was fed atrocity stories of Georgia’s Andersonville prison stockade. Missing from the stories were the pleas of President Davis and other Southern leaders for prisoner exchanges, including safe passage for medical supplies and food to sustain the inmates. These were all refused by Grant, with Lincoln’s approval.

Conquest, Not Union

“What exactly did the [Committee on the Conduct of the War] uncover and how objective was its investigation? Critics have assumed that the committee deliberately exaggerated Southern atrocities to smear Forrest’s reputation, inflame public sentiments, and serve its own narrow partisan agenda.

The committee’s most thorough historian, T. Harry Williams, for instance, argues that Benjamin Wade used this investigation, as well as previous atrocity reports, as a means to create a consensus for an even more radical reconstruction. By deliberately exaggerating Rebel brutalities, he would cause the public to support a reconstruction policy that would treat the South as a conquered territory.

There is little doubt that the issue of reconstruction was on the minds of committee members and other Republicans during the Fort Pillow investigation. George Julian, chairman of the House Committee on Public Lands, was already busy sponsoring legislation to confiscate the large holdings of Rebel planters and redistribute them to veterans of the Union armies, both white and black.

In remarks to the House of Representatives shortly after Fort Pillow, Julian castigated the Confederates as “devils” and argued that the [alleged] massacre provided additional reasons to support the program of confiscating [Southern property].

Even before the war, there were many in the North who viewed the South as backward and in need of radical reordering along the outline of Northern free labor institutions. The war accelerated such beliefs. “The war is quickly drawing to an end,” the Continental Monthly predicted in the summer of 1862, “but a greater and nobler task lies before the soldiers and free men of America – the extending of civilization into the South.”

In formulating its Fort Pillow findings, the committee reflected Northern opinion as much as it sought to shape it.”

(“These Devils Are Not Fit to Live on God’s Earth”: War Crimes and the Committee on the Conduct of the War, 1864-1865”. Bruce Tap. Civil War History – A Journal of the Middle Period, John Hubbell, ed. Kent State University Press, June 1996, Vol. XLII, No. 2, pp. 121-122)

The Meaning of Monuments

The Meaning of Monuments

An appreciation for the odds the American South fought against 1861-1865 is found in the numbers of those fighting on either side. The Northern government called forth some 2,535,799 white men plus nearly 179,000 colored soldiers, for the purpose of subduing Southern forces never numerically one-fourth as strong. The Northern army had the glory of success, but the gallantry and endurance of the Southern soldier has become legendary.

From the Richmond Dispatch, December 14, 1892:

The rainy weather of Tuesday, December 13, 1892, was not propitious for the Richmond Howitzer Monument unveiling. It lacked every suggestion of a gala occasion and could but carry many Howitzers and other veterans back to the days when, half-starved and half-clad, they shivered over a handful of a fire.

But the driving, penetrating and piercing blast could not daunt the spirit of the men whose guns had been heard upon every battlefield from Bethel to Appomattox, nor those who had stood shoulder to shoulder with the heroic Howitzers.

The step of the veterans was not as jaunty as it was in the period from 1861 to 1865, but their hearts glowed with the recollections with no lack of enthusiasm from the beginning to the end of the ceremonies.

The unveiling was a success in all of its details, and the memorial now stands as an object lesson for future generations. It is an imperishable illustration in the history of a people whose valor, fortitude and unselfish devotion to principle have no parallel in the annals of war.

What does the Howitzer Monument mean? What does it stand for? It means more than that this one fell under his gun never to rise again, or that one who lived will go to his grave a physical wreck. It means also that the survivors were among the rebuilders of the devastated American South. It stands also for a moral courage that could rise superior to any adversity.

The crowd of veterans assembled at this unveiling were hundreds who, when the war closed, were absolutely penniless, but whose energy, enterprise, self-denial and patience constitute the foundation stones upon which the present prosperity of Richmond and Virginia is reared. [This monument] stands for the spirit of the South – not only the spirit that was invincible in war, but the spirit that defied being broken or humiliated in peace.”

(Unveiling of the Monument to the Richmond Howitzers. Southern Historical Papers, Volume XX, R.A. Brock, editor. pp. 259-260)

Jan 3, 2024 - Historical Accuracy, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Lee’s Invasion of Pennsylvania

Lee’s Invasion of Pennsylvania

Lee’s Invasion of Pennsylvania

While northern accounts of the battle at Gettysburg in early July 1863 claim it as a victory and “high water mark” of the American Confederate States, the actual result told a different tale. It is important to note that the enemy was far too exhausted to leave their trenches and fortifications to pursue Lee’s movement away from Gettysburg.

“Lee’s purpose to move northward into Maryland and Pennsylvania in late June 1863 was calculated to free Virginia, at least for a time at least, from the presence of a destructive enemy, to transfer the theater of war to Northern soil, and, by selecting a favorable time and place in which to receive the attack which his adversary would be compelled to make on him, to take reasonable chances of defeating him in a pitched battle. Lee knew full well that to obtain such an advantage on enemy soil would place him in position to attain far more valuable results than could be hoped for from like advantage in Virginia. But even if he were unable to attain a decided advantage over the enemy in Pennsylvania, it was thought that the movement north would at least disturb any enemy plans for a summer campaign of destruction in Virginia.”

It is additionally recorded that Lee’s operations to Gettysburg and back resulted in the expulsion of the enemy from the important Shenandoah Valley, the capture of four thousand Northern soldiers with a corresponding number of small arms, twenty-eight pieces of superior artillery, about three hundred much-needed wagons and as many horses, together with a considerable quantity of ordnance, commissary and quartermaster’s stores. (General Lee’s Report of the Pennsylvania Campaign). An important but little-noted aspect of the Gettysburg aftermath is the New York City riot of July 11th. The 37th Massachusetts and 5th Wisconsin regiments at Gettysburg were rushed to New York to battle angry citizens, mostly immigrants and members of the lower class who viewed conscription as slavery, while the wealthy could buy a substitute for $300. The clash took the lives of up to 120 residents.

(Four Years with General Lee. Walter H. Taylor. Indiana University Press, 1962. page 91)

 

Jan 1, 2024 - America Transformed, Historical Accuracy, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Brave American Soldiers at Petersburg, Summer 1864

Brave American Soldiers at Petersburg, Summer 1864

The brave American soldiers who suffered or fell defending their families, homes and State’s from enemy invasion 1861-1865 were immortalized in the many monuments and remembrances scattered across the South. In particular, North Carolina soldier Gabriel J. Boney later erected a memorial in Wilmington, North Carolina to the sacrifices of his comrades, many of them “living skeletons” who fought with General Lee against tremendous odds. Americans should be proud of their sacrifice.

Brave American Soldiers at Petersburg, Summer 1864

“At the beginning of the enemy siege of Petersburg, Virginia on June 20th, the report of Gen. James G. Martin’s Brigade occupying Colquitt’s Salient showed 2200 men for duty. In September when they were relieved, the total force was 700, nothing but the living skeletons of Lee’s army.

Occupying the sharp salient, the work was enfiladed on both flanks by direct enemy fire and their mortar shells came down incessantly from above. Every man was detailed every night to either guard duty or to labor with pick and spade, repairing the works enemy artillery knocked down during the day.

There was no shelter that summer from sun nor rain. No food could be cooked there, but our scanty provisions were brought in bags on the shoulders of men from the cook yard some miles distant. The rations to feed each man for three days consisted of one pound of pork and three pounds of meal – and no coffee, no sugar, no vegetables, no grog, no tobacco – nothing but the bread and meat.

No wonder that the list of officers was reduced to three captains and a few lieutenants with but one staff officer for this brigade of 700 skeletons. But every feeble body contained an unbroken spirit and after the Fall months came those who had not fallen into their graves or been disabled, returned to their colors and saw them wave them in victory in their last fight at Bentonville.”

(Lt. Wilson G. Lamb. Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War of 1861-1865. Volume II, pg. 1-13. Walter Clark, editor. E.M. Uzzell, Printer and Binder, 1901)

Nov 27, 2023 - Indians and the West, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Thathlo Harjo – National Native American Heritage Month

Thathlo Harjo – National Native American Heritage Month

Born in Florida in 1791, Harjo belonged to the Echoille band of Seminoles (Harjo means “so brave you are crazy”). He fought in two Seminole Wars in Florida before his family was relocated to Indian Territory in 1842. In 1861, Harjo joined the 1st Regiment, Seminole Mounted Volunteers and saw action at Round Mountain, Middle Boggy and Second Cabin Creek.  After the war, he settled in what is now Seminole County, Oklahoma, raised a family and passed away in 1904 at the age of 113.

(Information courtesy: Ron Mitchell via the Forgotten Oklahoma group on Facebook)

Thahlo Harjo – 1st Regiment, Seminole Mounted Volunteers, CSA

“Interestingly the name “Seminole” itself translates into “seceder” or “runaway” from the Creek nation, which occurred under Chief Secoffee. The Seminole tribe initially acquired its African slaves as gift from the British after 1763 or were purchased by them in imitation of the Europeans and held them in “a type of democratic vassalage” to the tribe. Though not considered the equals of the Seminole and living in separate settlements, black runaways were taught to hunt, fish and fight against white settlers living on Seminole land. After the tribe’s defeat in 1839, many of these “black Seminoles” accompanied the tribe to resettlement in the West.

Only twenty-two years later, resettled Seminoles fought bravely against northern soldiers in the three Seminole Mounted Volunteer regiments of the Trans-Mississippi Department, led by Major John Jumper, whose native name was “Hemha Micco.”

Seminoles also fought alongside the victorious Florida and Georgia forces at the Ocean Pond (Olustee) battle on February 20, 1864. One northern soldier wrote a New York friend just after the engagement:

“The most desperate enemy that we have to contend with here is the Florida Indians in roving bands of bushwhackers [who] occasionally steal upon our picket lines under cover of night . . . Many redskins are sharpshooters. During the recent [Ocean Pond] battle they took themselves to the tree-tops and picked off many of the officers of the colored troops.”    

(Key West’s Civil War: Rather Unsafe for a Southern Man to Live Here. Bernhard Thuersam. Shotwell Publishing, 2022. pg. 143)

Nov 20, 2023 - Costs of War, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on “You Can Tell His Folks I Buried Him Best I Could”

“You Can Tell His Folks I Buried Him Best I Could”

The Hibriten Guards of Caldwell County

“Company F of the 26th North Carolina Regiment achieved a terrible fame at the Gettysburg battle in early July 1863.  During the fight at McPherson’s Farm on the first day every member of the company was shot down: thirty-three men were killed or mortally wounded, and fifty-eight suffered wounds and recovered. That “unparalleled loss” is the only instance of an entire company being wiped out in one battle during the war. A handful of Company F were perhaps stragglers and absent; at least one participated in the Pettigrew-Pickett Charge of July 3rd, Pvt. Thomas W. Setser who suffered a severe wound.

Despite their virtual annihilation at Gettysburg, the “Hibriten Guards” rebuilt their strength in the months following the Pennsylvania campaign. Some of the wounded returned to duty; some recruits arrived. At the Battle of Bristoe Station in mid-October 1864, the company then comprised of 36 men, participated in the disastrous charge of two Tarheel brigades against a well-fortified enemy position.  The result was another near-obliteration of the company with five men killed or mortally-wounded, ten wounded and seventeen captured.

Pvt. Thomas Setser, who had recovered from his earlier wound, wrote a relative: “It was a pretty hard little fight while it lasted . . . John Tuttle was killed by a bayonet as he charged over the enemy breastworks . . . you can tell his folks I buried him best I could and cut his name on a piece of plank and put it on his grave.”

Setser, one of two surviving enlisted men of Company F later wrote: “When I look around and see none of our boys and think what has become of them I cannot help but cry, and it looks like our time will come next.”

(State Troops and Volunteers: A Photographic Record of North Carolina’s Civil War Soldiers. Vol. One. Greg Mast. Raleigh Department of Cultural Resources, Archives and History. 1995. Page 100.)

Nov 10, 2023 - Carnage, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Remembering North Carolina’s Soldier’s on Veterans Day

Remembering North Carolina’s Soldier’s on Veterans Day

The heroic men of the Third North Carolina Regiment are immortalized in the Boney Monument at Third and Market Streets in Wilmington, a memorial to North Carolinians who fought valiantly to defend their homes, county and State. This impressive civic art features a standing bronze figure representing courage and protection, while a bronze figure of a fallen soldier represents self-sacrifice. The memorial was designed by renowned sculptor Francis Packer in 1924; the base and backdrop were designed by Henry Bacon, architect of the Lincoln Memorial.

The John F. Van Bokkelen noted below was the son of Mr. A. H. Van Bokkelen who “clothed and cared for his son’s men [of Company D] before the South’s new government was operable. Additionally, the father ensured that the wives and children of every man in his son’s company were provided for during the war. Young Van Bokkelen died of typhoid fever in late-May 1863; his Wilmington friend and fellow officer James I. Metts later named his first-born after Van Bokkelen.  (Doctor to the Front, Koonce, pg. 56)

Remembering North Carolina’s Soldiers on Veterans Day

“The brave men of the Third North Carolina Regiment, which included many men from New Hanover County who left their families, homes and farms to defend their State.

“September 17, 1862 was a day of unsurpassed carnage in which as many as four thousand Northern and Southern men died in battle. Exceptional losses were the rule, but the terrible honor of having suffered the most casualties at Sharpsburg may belong to the Third Regiment, North Carolina State Troops.

One of the largest units on the field, the Third North Carolina carried 520 men into action against the enemy, but by day’s end acting-adjutant John F. Van Bokkelen could account for only 190 of them. Later analysis revealed a staggering 111 battle deaths: 75 men killed on the field and 36 dying of their wounds in the weeks and months that followed. In all, 299 members of the Third North Carolina were killed, wounded and/or captured, a loss of 57.5 percent.

The Third rebounded but only to suffer two more terrible blows during the 1863 campaign: 233 men fell at Chancellorsville (58 killed), and 229 at Gettysburg (49 killed). The regiment suffered near annihilation at Spotsylvania, where 238 men were captured, but the survivors fought on, sustaining 139 more casualties, until a remnant of 58 men laid down their arms at Appomattox.”

(State Troops and Volunteers: A Photographic Record of North Carolina’s Civil War Soldiers. Volume One. Greg Mast, NC Department of Cultural Resources. 1995, pg. 339).

 

Saving “Uncle George” MacDonald

Saving “Uncle George” MacDonald

“The Osceola (Missouri) Democrat raised money to send “Uncle” George McDonald of St. Clair County, a colored Confederate veteran, to the Confederate Reunion at Columbia last month. In 1861 “Uncle” George went off with the men of St. Clair County and fought in several engagements.

At Wilson’s Creek a Minie ball plowed through his hip and buckshot struck him in the face. George lay groaning upon the ground when he was found by Owen Snuffer, a lieutenant of his company. Snuffer stooped down, examined the black man’s wounds and stanched the flow blood from them. “For God’s sake,” cried the suffering negro, “give me a drink of water.”

Snuffer’s canteen was empty but midway between the firing lines was a well. To reach it the lieutenant was to become the target of sharpshooters, and it meant almost certain death. But with bullets falling all around him like hailstones he pushed forward until the well was reached. And then he discovered that the bucket had been taken away and the windlass removed. The water was far down and the depth unknown.

The well was old-fashioned – stone-walled. Owen pulled off his long cavalry boots and taking one in his teeth he let himself down slowly, hand over hand until the water was reached and the boot filled. He then climbed up, straddling the well and clutching with hands and feet the rocky walls. Reaching the surface again he picked up the other boot and safely made his way back to his lines and brought water to “Uncle George.”

Returning from the war, “Uncle George” settled near Monegaw Springs and has reared an intelligent, honest and industrious family. One of his children educated himself, graduated the Smith University in Sedalia, and is now the pastor of a church in Kansas. Another child is a waiter at the Commercial Hotel in Osceola, an establishment known for high integrity.”

(Confederate Veteran, Volume XI, November 1903, pg. 494)

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