Browsing "Southern Heroism"

The True Story of the Late War

Northern General Don Piatt was a prewar Ohio lawyer who was critical of Lincoln, whom he believed a skeptic, believing only what he saw, and possessing a low estimate of human nature. Piatt believed the latter blinded Lincoln to the South as Southerners valued honor and were determined to achieve political liberty and independence.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The True Story of the Late War

“[James] Madison said: “A Union of States with such an ingredient as coercion would seem to provide for its own destruction.”

It certainly would provide for the destruction of the principles of liberty itself. Looked at in the lurid light of the [18]60’s, one expression in the above letter of President Madison will make the reader pause and reflect a moment. The “feeble debility of the South could never face the vigorous activity of the North.”

The Republican Party had inherited from its progenitor, the Federal [Party], the above idea of the South’s feeble debility. Members of that party invited United States Senators and Congressmen to take their wives and daughters out to see the first fight of the war, especially to “see rebels run at the sight of Union soldiers.” Everybody knows how the rebels ran at Bull Run.

Republican officers of the Union army have expressed their opinion of the South’s “feeble debility.” General Don Piatt, a Union officer, on this subject has this:

“The true story of the late war,” wrote General Piatt in 1887, “has not yet been told. It probably never will be told. It is not flattering to our people; unpalatable truths seldom find their way into history. How rebels fought the world will never know; for two years they kept an army in the field that girt their borders with a fire that shriveled our forces as they marched in, like tissue paper in a flame. Southern people were animated by a feeling that the word fanaticism feebly expresses. (Love of liberty expresses it.)

For two years this feeling held those rebels to a conflict in which they were invincible. The North poured out its noble soldiery by the thousands, and they fought well, but their broken columns and thinned lines drifted back upon our capital, with nothing but shameful disasters to tell of the dead, the dying, the lost colors and the captured artillery. Grant’s road from the Rapidan to Richmond was marked by a highway of human bones. The Northern army had more killed than the Confederate Generals had in command.”

“We can lose five men to their one and win,” said Grant. The men of the South, half-starved, unsheltered, in rags, shoeless, yet Grant’s marches from the Rapidan to Richmond left dead behind him more men than the Confederates had in the field!

The Reverend H.W. Beecher preached a sermon in his church on the “Price of Liberty” . . . [and] astonished his congregation by illustrations from the South:

”Where,” exclaimed the preacher, “shall we find such heroic self-denial, such upbearing under every physical discomfort, such patience in poverty, in distress, in absolute want, as we find in the Southern army? They fight better in a bad cause than you do in a good one; they fight better for a passion than you do for a sentiment. They fight well and bear up under trouble nobly, they suffer and never complain, they go in rags and never rebel, they are in earnest for their liberty, they believe in it, and if they can they mean to get it.”

“Lincoln’s low estimate of humanity,” says Piatt, “blinded him to the South. He could not understand that men would fight for an idea. He thought the South’s [independence] movement a sort of political game of bluff.”

Hannibal Hamlin said: “The South will have to come to us for arms, and come without money to pay for them.” “And for coffins,” said John P. Hale, with a laugh. “To put a regiment in the field,” said Mr. Speaker Banks, “costs more than the entire income of an entire Southern State.”

It was not long before the men of the North found that the South’s soldiers supplied themselves with arms and clothing captured from Union soldiers.”

(Facts and Falsehoods Concerning the War on the South, 1861-1865, George Edmunds, Spence Hall Lamb, 1904, pp. 117-119)

Brave Deeds Worthy of Harp and Poet

Gen. Jubal Early was held in high esteem by Stonewall Jackson, in whose army the former commanded a division. General Robert E. Lee greatly valued Early as a subordinate commander and tolerated Early’s cursing in his presence. “Old Jube” had an opportunity to capture Washington late in the war, and rather than submit to subjugation at war’s end decided on temporary exile in Canada via Havana. The home he occupied at Niagara-on-the-Lake across from Fort Niagara still stands.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Brave Deeds Worthy of the Harp and Poet

“It was my fortune to participate in most of the military operations in which the army in Virginia was engaged both before and after General Lee assumed the command. My operations and my campaign stand on their own merits.

I believe that the world has never produced a body of men superior, in courage, patriotism and endurance, to the private soldiers of the Confederate armies. I have repeatedly seen those soldiers submit, with cheerfulness, to privations and hardships which would appear to be almost incredible; and the wild cheers of our brave men, when their thin lines were sent back opposing hosts of Federal troops, staggering, reeling and flying, have often thrilled every fiber in my heart.

I have seen, with my own eyes, ragged, barefooted, and hungry, Confederate soldiers perform deeds which, if performed in days of yore by mailed warriors in glittering armor, would have inspired the harp of the minstrel and the pen of the poet.

Having been a witness of and participant in great events, I have given a statement of what I saw and did, for the use of the future historian. Having had some means of judging, I will say that, in my opinion, both Mr. [Jefferson] Davis and General Lee, in their respective spheres, did all for the success of our cause which it was possible for mortal men to do and it is a great privilege and comfort for me so to believe. In regard to my own services, I have the consciousness of having done my duty to my country, to the very best of my ability.

During the war, slavery was used as a catch-word to arouse the passions of a fanatical mob, and to some extent the prejudices of the civilized world were excited against us; but the war was not made on our part for slavery.

High dignitaries in both church and state in Old England, and puritans in New England, had participated in the profits of a trade by which the ignorant and barbarous natives of Africa were brought from that country and sold into slavery in the American Colonies.

The generation in the Southern States which defended their country in the late war, found amongst them, in a civilized and Christianized condition, 4,000,000 of the descendants of those degraded Africans. Nevertheless, the struggle made by the people of the South was not for the institution of slavery, but for the inestimable right of self-government, against the domination of a fanatical faction at the North; and slavery was the mere occasion of the development of the antagonism between the two sections. That right of self-government has been lost, and slavery violently abolished.

When the passions and infatuations of the day shall have been dissipated by time, and all the results of the late war shall have passed into irrevocable history, the future chronicler of that history will have a most important duty to perform, and posterity, while poring over its pages, will be lost in wonder at the follies and crimes committed in this generation.”

(Gen. Jubal A. Early: Narrative of the War Between the States, Jubal A. Early, Da Capo Press, 1989 (original 1912), excerpts, pp. viii-x)

 

Southern Remembrances in Stone

 

The South has not produced a domestic architecture since 1865 as distinctive as that of the Old South, though the traditions of older styles of architecture prevail to this day and thwart the acceptance of mediocre and soulless modernist (read: cultural Marxist) boxes. The cities, big and small, of the South also enjoy a plethora of important works by notable sculptors commissioned to create permanent reminders of those who fought for the liberty and independence of the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Remembrances in Stone

“America could never be called a sculpture-loving nation like France or Italy. A trip through either of these countries impresses one with the poverty of America sculpturally. The emotions, aspirations, and triumphs of these nations seem to have crystallized through the centuries into marble and bronze monuments.

A ready excuse for the lack of sculpture in the South is the poverty that was prevalent after the Civil War, the period in which the North erected so many of its monuments. That this explanation is not truly sufficient, however, is evident when one checks the sculptural commissions given in the South since the [First] World War.

The only State in the South that can boast of a long list of sculptured possessions is Virginia. Richmond as the capital has a fine array of monuments. Notable among these are Washington by Houdon; Robert E. Lee by Mercie; Jefferson Davis and General Wickham by Valentine. Charlottesville, the seat of the University of Virginia, has almost as many monuments as Richmond and several of high quality – a Lewis and Clark group and an equestrian Stonewall Jackson by Charles Keck; a second monument to George Rogers Clark of great merit by Robert L. Aitken, and the expressive Thomas Jefferson by Karl Bitter. Arlington, of course, adds to the State’s total.

A glance through the list off monuments in other cities in the State shows work by Henry Adams and Bryan Baker, monuments by Charles Keck in several places, and many monuments by George Julian Zolney. Even the smaller cities in Virginia are thus seen to call upon sculptors of national reputation to design their memorials.

After Virginia several States group together in the quantity and quality of their sculpture. Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas are about in the same class.

At Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, Georgia, the most stupendous sculptural undertaking is in progress that has ever been conceived anywhere in the world. The idea of carving the face of the gigantic Stone Mountain as a memorial to the Confederacy originated with Mrs. Helen Plane and was adopted by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1916.

Gutzon Borglum was appointed sculptor, and carving was begun on 1923. In 1925, following severe disagreements, his contract was cancelled and Augustus Lukeman was appointed his successor. At present the three main figures of the central group, those of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson, are being carved. Immediately upon the completion of these figures, however, the next phase of the work to be undertaken will be the Memorial Hall.

In Georgia there are of further note several monuments by Daniel Chester French. The Spencer Memorial in Atlanta and the General Oglethorpe Monument in Savannah are by him, and both have harmonious bases by Henry Bacon, architect.

Mississippi possesses an important repository of sculpture in the National Park Cemetery at Vicksburg. Among the memorials in the Park are the works of such men as Lorado Taft, Herbert Adams, A.A. Weinman, and Solon Borglum.

In New Orleans, Lousiana . . . [is] the Wounded Stag by Antoine Louis Barye, which stands in front of the Delgado Museum of Art. The center of the historic Jackson Square is accented by one of Clark Hill’s famous equestrian statues of General Jackson. Effectively place on the plaza in front of the Courthouse is the bronze figure of Chief Justice White by Bryan Baker.

[In Austin, Texas are] her monuments to General Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin, and the cemetery her figure of Albert Sidney Johnston.

In the 1933 edition of the American Art Annual are listed thirty-three native Southern sculptors. The most widely known name among these is that of Augustus Lukeman, a native of Virginia. Others in the list who have achieved more than a local reputation are William Couper, Nancy Cox McCormick, Angela Gregory, Ernest Bruce Haswell, Bonnie MacLeary, Waldine Amanda Tauch, and Enid Yandell.”

(The Fine Arts, Ula Milner Gregory; Culture in the South, W.T. Couch, editor, UNC Press, 1934, excerpts, pp. 275-277)

Feb 8, 2017 - Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots, Southern Women    Comments Off on Beauregard’s Romantic Set of Spies

Beauregard’s Romantic Set of Spies

Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard’s sweeping plans to annihilate the Northern host invading Virginia in mid-July 1861 were Napoleonic in character though both Davis and Lee discounted them due to Beauregard’s inflated numbers of troops available, and that rather than risk open battle against a superior force, the enemy would simply retire to its Washington’s defenses. Nonetheless, the Creole general did amass an interesting coterie of spies to monitor enemy movements.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Beauregard’s Romantic Set of Spies

“On July 13 [1861, Beauregard] sent an aide to Richmond with a proposal for the union of his army with [Gen. Joseph E.] Johnston’s. Hardly had the aide left when Beauregard enlarged his plan and sent Colonel James R., Chestnut of his staff to explain it to [President Jefferson] Davis.

The completed plan was truly Napoleonic. Johnston, leaving five thousand men in the Valley to contain the Federals, was to join Beauregard with twenty thousand (Johnston had eleven thousand in his command). The combined force would attack and destroy McDowell. Then Johnston would return to the Valley with his own army and ten thousand of Beauregard’s and smash the Federals there.

Next, Johnston would detach enough men to western Virginia to clear the enemy out of that region. These troops would return and join Johnston, who would then invade Maryland and attack Washington from the rear, while Beauregard, coming up from Manassas, would attack it in front.

In describing the plan to Johnston, Beauregard wrote: “I think this whole campaign could be completed brilliantly in from fifteen to twenty-five days. Oh, that we had but one good head to conduct all our operations.” Both the President and [Robert E.] Lee objected to it on two counts.

His design of grand strategy rejected by the government, Beauregard turned to studying the movements of McDowell. Of these he was kept informed by as romantic a set of spies as any general ever had in his service. Just before the war started, Colonel Thomas Jordan, his chief of staff, had arranged a spy apparatus in Washington.

He asked Mrs. Rose Greenhow, famous capital society dowager and Southern sympathizer, to send him information of important Federal movements . . . [and] provided her with a crude cipher. Mrs. Greenhow dispatched her first message in early July: McDowell would advance on the sixteenth.

It was carried from Washington by a beautiful girl named Bettie Duvall, who disguised herself as a country girl and rode in a farm wagon to Virginia. Going to the home of friends, she changed her costume to a riding habit, borrowed a horse, and rode to [Brigadier-General Milledge Luke] Bonham’s headquarters at Fairfax Courthouse. Both Bonham and his young officers were thrilled when she unrolled her long hair, took out Mrs. Greenhow’s dispatch, and handed it to the general.

At this time, volunteer girl spies from Virginia were bursting into Beauregard’s lines at every turn, bearing news that the Yankees were coming. They were received with consideration and applause, although their information was generally vague and available in Washington newspapers.

To secure more definite news [Beauregard’s chief of staff Thomas] Jordan sent a man named Donellan to Mrs. Greenhow. He carried a scrap of paper on which Jordan had written in cipher “Trust bearer.” He reached Washington on July 16 and received from her a code message saying McDowell had been ordered to move on Manassas that night.

Travelling in a buggy and using relays of horses, Donellan brought the dispatch into the Confederate lines. It was delivered to Beauregard between eight and nine the same night.”

(P.G.T. Beauregard, Napoleon in Gray, T. Harry Williams, LSU Press, 1955, excerpts, pp. 74-76)

 

Feb 5, 2017 - American Military Genius, Memorials to the Past, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on The Passing of a Creole Hero

The Passing of a Creole Hero

General Pierre G.T. Beaurgard is said to have been an enigma “for after the war he helped to destroy the old agrarian way and to build the New — the industrial — South.” Said also to have been a good general rather than a great one, his masterful defense of Charleston and Petersburg against staggering odds are a testament to his tactical abilities, though the independent field command he craved eluded his grasp. His egotistical mind and tongue warred continuously with fellow generals and political leaders of the Confederacy, and left him in a combative spirit long after the war ended.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Passing of the Creole Hero

“Beauregard seemed resigned to death. On Saturday, February 18, 1893, he seemed better, and dressed and came downstairs. The next day he complained of a feeling of oppression around his heart, and that night he did not sleep well.

Still, he got up on Monday, the twentieth, and spent most of the day in the garden and on the balcony. He dined with the family and spoke cheerfully of his recovery. Before retiring that night, he wound his watch so he could follow the doctor’s orders. Before [son] Henri left, Beauregard said, “I will be well tomorrow if I sleep tonight.”

The nurses remained on duty in the room. Shortly after ten they were startled to hear the death rattle in his throat. Before they could summon the family he was dead.

Into the home on Esplanade Avenue the condolences and resolutions of respect poured in a flood. They came from Louisiana and from all over the South – from State and city officials, former comrades, the organizations of which he had been a member, chapters of the United Confederate Veterans from Virginian to Texas.

[New Orleans] Mayor John Fitzpatrick proclaimed a period of mourning until after the funeral and directed that all municipal buildings be closed. Governor Murphy F. Foster ordered the same arrangements at the capital in Baton Rouge. Both the governor and the mayor asked the family for permission to let the body lie in state at the City Hall, and consent was granted.

Accompanied by an escort of National Guard units, the body, resting in a heavy casket finished in burl and ebony and adorned with silver handles, was conveyed to the council room at the City Hall. The walls of the dimly-lit chamber were hung with black drapes and Confederate and United States flags. Three Confederate emblems, one of which belonged to the Washington Artillery, covered the casket.

Above the catafalque stood the battle flag which Miss Hettie Cary had made for him from her own dress in 1861. All that night and throughout the next day, while an honor guard of Confederate veterans stood by, thousands of people passed through the room to gaze on the Creole hero.

On the afternoon of the twenty-third the body was . . . taken for burial to the tomb of the Army of Tennessee in Metarie Cemetery. Riding in a carriage was the chief mourner, Edmund Kirby Smith, now the only surviving full general of the Confederacy, who had come to New Orleans to attend a reunion. A month later he too would be dead.

At the grave, priests chanted the requiem, three volleys were fired in a last salute, and taps were sounded. From above, the equestrian statue of Albert Sidney Johnston looked down on the scene.”

(P.G.T. Beauregard: Napoleon in Gray, T. Harry Williams, LSU Press, 1955, excepts, pp. 320; 326-328)

The Unspoken Significance of Fort Fisher’s Fall in 1865

Fort Fisher, January 2017

This weekend the Fort Fisher historic site near Kure Beach, North Carolina observes the 152nd anniversary of the second Northern attack that succeeded in capturing the fort after a massive bombardment of 50,000 shells which killed or wounded 500 or so mostly-North Carolinians who fought valiantly from traverse to traverse before capitulating. Those taken prisoner by the enemy were shipped northward to frigid prisons in New Jersey and New York – the latter infamously referred to as a death camp.

Many people visiting Fort Fisher note that it can be an eerie experience – like walking the fields of Appomattox and sensing the death-knell of liberty and independence it is known for.

The State employees of the historic site will hold events of blue-clad troops splashing ashore to free North Carolinians from the yoke of independence and self-government, as well as waving the US flag from the top of captured cannon traverses. The red, white and blue flags of the North Carolinians will be minimized if shown at all. Rather than note that most of the defenders were North Carolina farmers from surrounding counties, the fort and media will refer to them as merely “Confederates.”

Often noted during these observances is the enemy soldier who fell out of ranks to visit his mother’s home — as his brother was fighting to defend his country in a grey uniform.  And few seem to comprehend that this wayward North Carolinian in blue is the very definition of treason, of aiding, abetting and going over to the enemy.

Also, what is usually not discussed at events like this are the sectional differences of that era and multitude of reasons why the South was invaded, and the important aftermath of that battle for the fort. What really happened in mid-January 152 years ago was the ending of an American struggle for freedom and independence, the consent of the governed to rule themselves, and the equivalent of Washington surrendering to British forces at Yorktown.

What happened after the fort fell is very important to remember, especially as one looks at the blue-clad reenactors splashing ashore waving their flag on what was then foreign soil to them. What was their true purpose?

After the fort was overwhelmed and silenced, the 10,000-man enemy army marched toward Wilmington in two columns and after some spirited skirmishes, captured the city, imposed martial law, seized private property, and forced citizens to swear allegiance to a foreign government in order to conduct their businesses.

When the enemy departed Wilmington, they moved to join other enemy forces coming into North Carolina from South Carolina and from occupied New Bern. At Bentonville the combined enemy outnumbered Southern forces 4 to 1 — who fought them to a standstill – they then moved on to capture Raleigh, arrest and imprison the governor, and impose military rule on North Carolina. Think of the French capitulation to Germany in 1940.

After the surrender of Southern forces in May, 1865 at Bennett Place, the “reconstruction” of the South lasted until 1877 – some say it never ended — though without armies and without as much gunfire. North Carolina endured rule by a new State constitution imported by a military consul appointed from Washington, and corrupt local men who sought employment with the late enemy. The new imported constitution settled the secession issue for good by stating that North Carolina will never again seek independence or political freedom from the United States Government.

Understandably, July 4, 1865 in occupied Wilmington was a muted affair, celebrated only by locals collaborating with the enemy and newly-freed blacks who were unaware that they had only changed masters.  Blue-clad sentries still patrolled the streets to ensure the rebellion did not re-ignite; then came the vultures known as “carpetbaggers.”

Former Governor Zebulon Vance described the aftermath of war in North Carolina in 1890:

“The carnival of corruption and fraud, the trampling down of decency, the rioting in the overthrow of the traditions of a proud people, the chaos of hell on earth which took place beggars the descriptive powers of plain history . . . I believe a committee of Congress, who took some testimony on this subject, estimated in 1871 the amount of plunder which was extracted from the Southern people in about 5 short years — some $300 millions of dollars in the shape of increased debt alone, to say nothing of the indirect damage inflicted by the many ways of corruption and misrule which cannot be estimated in money.”

The fall of Fort Fisher and ultimate surrender at Bennett Place led to the carnival of corruption that Vance illuminated. We should remember what occurred at Fort Fisher in mid-January 1865 for what it was and what it led to — the ending of an American struggle for freedom and independence, the consent of the governed to rule themselves. This is the sad fact that we should observe, and be cognizant of when gazing at the great earthen fortress.

Bernhard Thuersam

 

 

“In Defense of Their Traditional Liberties”

In his May 1, 1861 message to the North Carolina General Assembly, Governor John Ellis of referred to the “Northern Government” and that “they have drawn the sword against us and are now seeking our blood. They have promised to partition our property and the earnings of our people among the mercenary soldiers after our subjugation shall be effected. All fraternity of feeling is lost between us and them. We can no longer live with them. There must be a separation at once and forever.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

“In Defense of Their Traditional Liberties”

“Although North Carolina had soon after the adoption of the Federal constitution taken steps to prevent the importation of Negroes, not only from abroad but from any other State, yet in the progress of time the system of slavery became strongly engrafted on her social structure, and the agitation of slavery question excited her people greatly.

Periodically this agitation stirred the people and animated them to maintain with steadfastness the right to manage their own domestic, local concerns in their own way.

At length when it was declared that an “irrepressible conflict” had arisen, and that the “Union could not exist half slave and half free,” it came to be regarded that the limitations of the Federal constitution were no longer to be observed, and that the abolition party would seek to abolish slavery. This led South Carolina and other commonwealths to the South to withdraw from the Union.

The question of holding a convention for the purpose of withdrawing was submitted to the people of North Carolina in the spring of 1861, but so conservative were they and so attached to the Union, that they separated themselves from their Southern brethren and refused to call the convention. The difference between the votes was, however, small — only about 250 in the poll of the entire State.

Such was the situation, when in April 1861, Fort Sumter was bombarded and President Lincoln called on North Carolina to furnish her quota of troops to coerce the seceding States. These events changed the aspect of affairs in North Carolina instantaneously. All differences ceased.

Union men, who, like George E. Badger, did not hold to the right of secession, united now in the declaration that North Carolinians must [now] share in the fortunes of their Southern kindred. Then amid the excitement of that period came the rapid preparations for the inevitable conflict — the marshaling of troops, the formation of armies, the strenuous endeavors to equip and maintain our citizen [soldiers] and make defense of our unprotected coast.

Never was there a finer display of patriotic ardor; never did peaceable ploughboys more quickly assume the character of veteran soldiers. It was if a common inspiration possessed the souls of all the people and animated them to die, if need be, in defense of their traditional liberties.

During the four years of strife that followed, the people of North Carolina bore themselves with an unparalleled heroism. With a voting population of 112,000, North Carolina sent to the army 125,000 soldiers.

Strenuous efforts were made to provide food for the soldiers and the poor, and while salt works were erected along the sea coast, vast quantities of cards were imported for the women to use at home, and other supplies were brought through the blockade.

[Life then] was accompanied, however, by straits and hardships, suffering and mourning, the separation from husbands and fathers from their families and the pall of death that fell upon every household. What awful experiences were crowded into four years of heroic and grand sacrifice — how trying the vicissitudes, how calamitous the dire result!”

(Cyclopedia of Eminent and Representative Men of the Carolinas of the 19th Century, Volume II, Brant & Fuller, 1892, pp. 35-36)

 

“Mexico Will Poison Us”

The newly-acquired territories of the Mexican cession set the stage for conflict between Northern and Southern interests to dominate them. In the case of the South, they observed the steadily increasing numbers of Northern immigrants flowing westward which threatened the political balance and harmony with the industrializing North. The bloody victory over Mexico was crowned with the black clouds of future warfare, and a dark legacy which we still live with today.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

“Mexico Will Poison Us”

“Santa Anna had worked a prodigy: he had succeeded in raising a large army from a nation that was half in revolt against him, he had armed and equipped it, and he had made it a fine fighting force. It was a good army, it fought with sustained fury, it came exceedingly close to winning the two-day battle, and it might well have won it if Santa Anna’s own courage had lasted long enough to send it into action on the third day [at Buena Vista].

On the morning of the third day, instead of attacking again, he was already in retreat. The retreat became a panic, the army melted away, and it was only by what amounted to another miracle that he raised an army to oppose Scott.

It turned out a victory after all, a victory won by [Zachary] Taylor’s subordinates and the courage of the private soldier. But it was Captain [Braxton] Bragg and the other officers of artillery ((T.W. Sherman, George Thomas, John Reynolds), it was Jefferson Davis and the First Mississippi Rifles, above all it was the anonymous platoons, who won the battle.

Taylor may have inspired his troops: he certainly did not direct them. The company officers and the private soldiers improvised a rule of thumb defense on the spot as it was needed. The army was shot to pieces in two days of murderous fighting that was frequently hand-to-hand, but it was full of fight – and it held the field. Thus ended the military career of Zachary Taylor. His former son-in-law [Colonel Jefferson Davis] had won the election for him.

It was a little after noon of the second day when a brigade of Mexican cavalry, grandly uniformed, charged the one remaining strong point that defended a flank and protected the road to Saltillo by which an American retreat would have to move.

The troops of that strong point had been driven back and the Mississippi Rifles were coming up in support. Their wounded [Colonel Davis] formed them as a retracted flank, joining an Indiana regiment at a sharp angle. When the Mexican cavalry got within rifle range, it halted. Mississippi and Indiana blew it to pieces and there was no further attack in that part of the field.

By September Jefferson Davis was a Senator of the United States. In 1853 he was Secretary of War. In 1861 he was a President exercising the function of a military genius.

Winfield Scott, however, made an army and conquered a nation. He had, of course, brilliant assistants. [Daniel] Twiggs was a first rate fighting man, and [William J.] Worth . . . was rather more than that. Moreover Scott had a handful of brilliant engineers – Robert E. Lee, who was effectively his chief of staff, [PGT] Beauregard, [George] Meade. Company and battalion officers whose names read like a list Civil War generals, North and South, fought in detail the campaign that Scott conceived and directed. The classic tactics of Robert E. Lee, the perfect battle of Chancellorsville, the converging attacks of Gettysburg, were all learned at the headquarters of Winfield Scott.

“The United States will conquer Mexico,” Ralph Waldo Emerson had said, “but it will be as a man swallows the arsenic which brings him down in turn. Mexico will poison us.”

(The Year of Decision: 1846; Bernard Devoto, Little, Brown and Company, 1943, excerpts, pp. 486-488; 492)

Principles Essential to the Perpetuation of the Union

Richmond’s bronze statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson was dedicated on October 26, 1875 before a crowd of 50,000; the oration was delivered by the Rev. Moses D. Hoge of Richmond’s Second Presbyterian Church.  Gen. Joseph E. Johnston served as Chief-Marshal; attending were Generals D.H. Hill, W.H.F. Lee, Fitzhugh Lee, and 500 members of the Old Stonewall Brigade.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Principles Essential to the Perpetuation of the Union

“For, when we ask what has become of the principles in defense of which Jackson imperiled and lost his life, then I answer: A form of government may change, a policy may perish, but a principle may never die. Circumstances may so change as to make the application of the principle no longer possible, bits it innate vitality is not affected thereby. The conditions of society may be so altered as to make it idle to contend for a principle which no longer has any practical force, but these changed conditions of society have not annihilated one original truth.

The application of these postulates to the present situation of our country is obvious. The people of the South maintained, as their fathers maintained before them, that certain principles were essential to the perpetuation of the Union according to its original Constitution.

Rather than surrender their convictions, they took up arms to defend them. The appeal was in vain. Defeat came, they accepted it, with its consequences, just as they would accepted victory with its fruits.

But it is idle to shut our eyes to the fact that this consolidated empire of States is not the Union established by our fathers. No intelligent European student of American institutions is deceived by any such assumption. We gain nothing by deceiving ourselves.

And if history teaches any lesson, it is this: that a nation cannot long survive when the fundamental principles which gave it life, originally, are subverted. [Remember] Jackson’s clear, ringing tone . . . :

“What is life without honor? Degradation is worse than death. We must think of the living and of those who are to come after us, and see that by God’s blessing we transmit to them the freedom we have enjoyed.”

(Oration of Rev. Moses D. Hoge, Unveiling of the Statue of Stonewall Jackson, Richmond, Virginia; Stonewall Jackson, A Military Biography, D. Appleton and Company, 1876, excerpt pp. 564)

 

Jan 7, 2017 - America Transformed, Southern Conservatives, Southern Heroism, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Southern Courage and Carnage at Malvern Hill

Southern Courage and Carnage at Malvern Hill

After the costly Confederate assault on Malvern Hill on June 30, 1862, Stonewall Jackson ordered burial details to carry their dead from the “killing ground.” Author S.C. Gwynne writes that “Unlike most Civil War battles, in which artillery caused less than 5 percent of casualties, at Malvern Hill more than half of the Confederate dead and wounded had been victims of Federal solid shot, shell, spherical case, and canister. After such carnage in a war between Americans — one side fighting for independence from the other — it is a wonder that Lincoln did not raise his hand to halt the bloodbath and allow the South to govern itself in peace.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Courage and Carnage at Malvern Hill

“The place was more like a killing field, a defensive position that Fitz John Porter, architect of the fearsome [Northern] works at Mechanicsville and Gaines’s Mill, considered to be the strongest of the campaign so far.

The Union advantage started with its artillery: 268 cannons, many of them rifled, plus 26 giant siege guns that McClellan had been preparing to use against Richmond. The guns were everywhere: stacked on the brow of the hill, bristling on the army’s flanks, and even ranged in front of the infantry, where their flesh-tearing canister loads would enjoy a clear field of fire. Around them, stacked to the top of the rise, were the blue masses of infantry, fifty-four thousand of them.

The borders of the amphitheater were unassailable: ravines, swamps, streams and thick woods meant that the Union troops could not be flanked. Which meant the Confederate attack would be funneled into a narrow front with no cover. The rebel infantry would have to attack the Union position by coming up the rise, straight into the teeth of the strongest artillery emplacement of the war.

It looked like suicide, and Jackson and his brother-in-law [Gen.] D.H. Hill, who formed the Confederate left at the base of the slope, and along with [Gen. Benjamin] Huger’s and [Gen. John B.] Magruder’s troops would do the fighting this day, understood this at once.

For the Union gunners, the battle was more like a large-scale turkey shoot. Whenever a Confederate battery would unlimber, the massed Union guns would open on it, blowing it to pieces. When Jackson [ordered division commander Gen. W.H.C. Whiting] to bring up his guns . . . it took a moment for the Union batteries to register this. And then they blew the guns, wagons, men, horses, limbers, and caissons to bits.

Jackson, meanwhile, continued giving orders, in one case while a battery was being destroyed before his eyes. “He sat erect on his horse in this hurricane of canister and grape,” recalled one soldier, “his face was aflame with passion, his eyes flashing,”

Other Confederate gun crews were just as helpless before the massed counterbattery fire from the hill. After the war, McClellan’s chief of artillery . . . told Jackson’s artillerist Tom Munford, chillingly, how easy it was to destroy the rebel guns. He said he had “fifty pieces massed at Malvern Hill which he could concentrate on any battery that came out in the open and that they melted like wax before his rain of projectiles.”

Magruder’s first attacks did nothing but sacrifice several thousand men to Federal artillery and musketry [though they] became an inadvertent signal . . . for a general advance. The result was pure slaughter, some of the worst of the war. To their credit, the Southern infantry did not give up. They pressed attack after attack and were badly shot up, a huge percentage of them by artillery. “It was not war, it was murder,” said D.H. Hill later.”

(Rebel Yell, the Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson, S.C. Gwynne, Scribner & Sons, 2014, excerpts, pp. 379-382)