Browsing "Southern Heroism"

Here Lies an American Hero

The first commander-in-chief of the United Confederate Veterans, General John B. Gordon of Georgia, tried repeatedly to retire from his high office, “but his comrades would not consent.” Below, he spoke in 1890 of the necessity of maintaining unblemished the nobility, heroism, sacrifices, suffering and glorious memory of the American soldiers in grey.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Here Lies and American Hero

“[The United Confederate Veterans] was created on high lines, and its first commander was the gallant soldier, General John B. Gordon, at the time governor of Georgia, and later was United States senator. General Gordon was continued as commander-in-chief until his death.

The note . . . struck in the constitution of the United Confederate Veterans were reechoed in the opening speech of the first commander-in-chief. General Gordon, addressing the Veterans and the public, said:

“Comrades, no argument is needed to secure for those objects your enthusiastic endorsement. They have burdened your thoughts for many years. You have cherished them in sorrow, poverty and humiliation. In the face of misconstruction, you have held them in your hearts with the strength of religious convictions.

No misjudgments can defeat your peaceful purposes for the future. Your aspirations have been lifted by the mere force and urgency of surrounding conditions to a plane far above the paltry considerations of partisan triumphs.

The honor of the American Government, the just powers of the Federal Government, the equal rights of States, the integrity of the Constitutional Union, the sanctions of law, and the enforcement of order have no class of defenders more true and devoted than the ex-soldiers of the South and their worthy descendants. But you realize the great truth that a people without the memories of heroic suffering or sacrifice are a people without history.

To cherish such memories and recall such a past, whether crowned with success or consecrated in defeat, is to idealize principle and strengthen character, intensify love of country, and convert defeat and disaster into pillars of support for future manhood and noble womanhood.

Whether the Southern people, under their changed conditions, may ever hope to witness another civilization which shall equal that which began with their Washington and ended with their Lee, it is certainly true that devotion to their glorious past is not only the surest guarantee of future progress and the holiest bond of unity, but is also the strongest claim they can present to the confidence and respect of the other sections of the Union.

It is political in no sense, except so far as the word “political” is a synonym for the word “patriotic.” [It will] cherish the past glories of the dead Confederacy and transmute them into living inspirations for future service to the living Republic; of truth, because it will seek to gather and preserve, as witness to history, the unimpeachable facts which shall doom falsehood to die that truth may live; of justice, because it will cultivate . . . that broader and higher and nobler sentiment which would write on the grave of every soldier who fell on our side, “Here lies an American hero, a martyr to the right as his conscience conceived it.”

(The Photographic History of The Civil War, Vol. 5, Robert S. Lanier, editor, Blue & Grey Press, 1987, pp. 298-299)

 

Jackson's Value to Lee

Second only to Robert E. Lee as a great American military commander, Stonewall Jackson’s death proved to be a calamity which may have cost Lee the battle at Gettysburg. Jackson, like Lee, could handily defeat far superior forces as he did between April 30 and June 9, 1862 in the Valley, frustrating 70,000 Northern troops with less than 18,000 men of his own.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Jackson’s Value to Lee

“It was not until the spring of 1862, when Lee became Jefferson Davis’ military advisor and Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia that Jackson’s independent command in the Shenandoah Valley came under Lee’s control. It was at this time that the partnership between Lee and Jackson first took form.

At once Lee sensed Jackson’s integrity. Lenoir Chambers . . . wrote that while Jackson and Lee were far apart, as far as communications went, they were always able, through their letters and orders, to project themselves into the future. Each had a sagacity to discern what the other was thinking or desired. Lee never had a subordinate so quick to grasp his thoughts or so reliable in carrying them out or, when on his own, in taking care of himself while he fitted all his movements to the grand purpose as did Jackson in the Valley Campaign of 1862.

On several occasions, Jackson demonstrated his zealous devotion to his chieftain. During the winter of 1863-63 [near Fredericksburg], Lee once sent word that he wanted to talk with Jackson at his convenience on a matter of no great urgency. Thereupon Jackson arising at daybreak and without breakfast rode through a blinding snow storm to Lee’s headquarters, 15 miles away.

Lee expressed amazement, saying: “You know, General, I did not wish you to come in such a storm. It was a matter of no importance and I am sorry you had such a ride.” Thereupon Jackson blushed and simply said: “I received your note, General.” Jackson’s personal loyalty to Lee was intimately bound up with his confidence in Lee’s military ability. Once when an officer had criticized Lee, Jackson instantly replied: “Lee is a phenomenon. He is the only man I would follow blindfold.”

On that beautiful Sunday morning of May 10, 1863, when he was informed that Jackson could probably not live through the day, Lee at first refused to believe it, saying: “Surely God will not take from us now that we need him so much.” Notifying Gen. Jeb Stuart of Jackson’s death, Lee said: “The great and good Jackson is no more . . . May his spirit pervade our whole army; our country will then be secure.”

It was only after the war that General Lee gave a glimpse of what he may have thought in 1863 of the ultimate consequence of the removal of Jackson from the scene. In a conversation with one of his friends at Washington College, of which he was then president, he remarked: “If I had had Stonewall Jackson, as far as a man can see, I should have won the battle of Gettysburg.”

(Wartime Relationship Between Lee and Jackson, Dr. W. Gleason Bean, Rockbridge Historical Society Proceedings, Volume Six, J.P. Bell Company, 1966, pp. 43-46)

Jackson's Skill, Nerve and Generalship

Though early in his career friends saw Thomas J. Jackson exhibiting much energy and industry, none viewed him as possessing anything resembling military genius. His biographer John Esten Cooke wrote of Jackson that “To fight to the death was his unfaltering resolve, and his own invincible resolution was infused into his troops; they became inspired by his ardor, and were more than a match for two or three times their number fighting without this stimulus.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Jackson’s Skill, Nerve and Generalship

“ . . . Jackson set out in person for Winchester [in late May 1862], travelling by a special train on the Winchester and Potomac Railroad. A gentleman who was with his relates a scene that ensued during the brief journey. At one of the wayside stations, a courier was seen galloping down from the direction of Winchester, and Jackson clutched at the dispatch which he brought. “What news?” he asked.

As [the courier] spoke his lips were firmly compressed, his face grew rigid, and his eyes fixed themselves apparently on some distant object. Then this preoccupation suddenly disappeared; he read the [dispatch] which he held in his hand, tore it to pieces . . . and leaning forward, rested his forehead on his hands, and immediately fell asleep. He soon roused himself and, turning to the gentleman who furnishes these particulars, said:

“I am going to send you to Richmond for re-enforcements. I have just received a dispatch informing me of the advance of the enemy upon Front Royal, which is captured, and Fremont [with 25,000 men] is now advancing toward Wardensville. Thus, you see, I am nearly surrounded by a very large force.

“What is your own [plan], General?”

“To meet this attack I only have 15,000 effective men.”

“What will you do if they cut you off, General?” Jackson hesitated for a moment, and the coolly replied: “I will fall back upon Maryland for re-enforcements.”

Jackson was in earnest. If his retreat was cut off, he intended to advance into Maryland, and doubtless make his way straight to Baltimore and Washington, depending on the Southern sentiment in that portion of the State to bring him re-enforcements. The design was characteristic of his military genius, and its bold air of invasion probably surrounded it with more charms to the leader, who never lost sight of that policy.

That the [Northern] Government was apprehensive of some such movement is certain. The wildest rumors were prevalent in that country. It was said that Jackson had defeated all his opponents, had crossed the Potomac with an enormous army, and was then advancing on Washington. Terror reigned in the North.

We have seen that the “great force” at Jackson’s command was 15,000 men, and that a much larger force was about to close in on his rear. His position was critical in the extreme. Unless he moved with the greatest speed, and reached Strasburg before the junction of [Northern commanders] Fremont and Shields [4,000 men], his retreat would be cut off, and General McDowell, then at Front Royal [with 20,000 men], would achieve his design of “bagging Jackson.”   To defeat the designs of the enemy, and extricate his forces, was the object upon which he now concentrated all his skill, nerve and generalship.

On the speed of the “foot cavalry” depended the safety of the army; and if the larger portion marched, as they seem to have done, from the vicinity of Harper’s Ferry to Strasburg, nearly fifty miles, between the afternoon of the 30th and the night of the 31st of May, it is one of the swiftest marches on record. Jackson arrived in time, just in time . . . [and then] determined to attack Fremont, and hold him in check. Jackson was now comparatively safe. He had realized the prayer which his great namesake of the “Hermitage” uttered for a friend – he had “triumphed over all his enemies.”

[Jackson] had flanked them at Front Royal, pursued them from Middletown, beaten them at Winchester, chased them to the Potomac, filled Washington with alarm; and now, when their forces were closing in upon his rear to intercept him, he had passed between them with his prisoners and stores, struck them heavily as he retired, and was moving toward the upper Valley.

He had captured 2300 prisoners, 100 cattle, 34,900 pounds of bacon, flour, salt, sugar, coffee, hard bread, and cheese, $125,185 worth of quartermasters stores, $25,000 worth of sutler stores, immense medical stores, 9354 small-arms, two pieces of artillery, many cavalry horses . . . These results had been achieved with the loss of 68 killed, 329 wounded, and 3 missing – a total loss of 400. In ending his report, Jackson proudly reported that the battle of Winchester was, “on our part, a battle without a straggler.”

(Life of Stonewall Jackson, John Esten Cooke, D. Appleton and Company, 1876, pp. 158-161)

Stonewall's Noble and High Mission on Earth

The early victories of Southern armies were cause for much celebration across the Atlantic, and this was reported home by Confederate diplomats. The London Times, Morning Herald and Evening Standard reported the elation with which Jackson’s victory at Chancellorsville was received, and later the widespread grief over his death.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Stonewall’s Noble and High Mission on Earth

Diplomatic Correspondence, 1863

From: A. Dudley Mann, No. 48, 3 Rue D’Arlon, Brussels, May 28, 1863

To: Hon. J.P. Benjamin, Secretary of State, Confederate States of America, Richmond, Va.

“Sir: The excessive joy occasioned on this side of the Atlantic by our dazzling victory at Chancellorsville has been tinged by inordinate sorrow. [General Stonewall Jackson’s death causes] civilization to mourn, as it has rarely ever mourned, for the loss of a public man.

The London Times of yesterday no more than reflects the general opinion of Europe upon the subject in the following paragraph contained in its leader: “The Confederate laurels won on the field of Chancellorsville must be twined with the cypress. Probably no disaster of the war will have carried such grief to Southern hearts as the death of General Jackson . . . Even on this side of the ocean the gallant soldier’s fate will everywhere be heard of with pity and sympathy not only as a brave man fighting for his country’s independence, but as one of the most consummate generals that this century has produced.

The blows he struck at the enemy were as terrible and decisive as Bonaparte himself. But perhaps the crowning glory of his life was the great battle in which he fell.

When the Federal commander, by crossing the river twelve miles above his camp and pressing on as he thought to the rear of the Confederates, had placed them between two bodies of his army, he was so confident of success as to boast that the enemy was the property of the Army of the Potomac. It was reserved to Jackson, by a swift and secret march, to fall upon his right wing, crush it, and by an attack unsurpassed in fierceness and pertinacity to drive his [enemy’s] very superior forces back into a position from which he could not extricate himself except by flight across the river.

[That evening], Jackson received two wounds, one in the left arm, the other in the right hand. Amputation of the arm was necessary, and the Southern hero sank under the effects of it. He was only thirty-eight years old, and was known before the war as a man of simple and noble character and of strong religious faith.”

The conservative organ, the Morning Herald, also in its leader says: “No end can be more honorable to any man [than] to die at his post of duty. To die of his wounds in battle, with the shout of victory still ringing in his ears, is a glory reserved to the soldier.

The sympathy that is felt in Europe for their grief at this immeasurable loss will add to the warmth of popular feeling for the men who have striven so long in a just cause and acquitted themselves so well. A soldier of remarkable ability, he fought with the advantage of an earnest faith in his cause; and, controlled in all he did by a strong religious feeling, he fought the better still for believing that God was on his side.

He was animated by the spirit which rendered the soldiers of the Commonwealth irresistible in fight, which carried Havelock through incredible dangers to the gates of Lucknow in triumph. The Christian and patriotic soldier achieved the last and greatest of his successes in dying for his country. He perished doubly a martyr, and in his last breath attested the righteousness of the cause which he sealed with his blood.”

The Paris correspondent for the Evening Standard . . . remarks: “I cannot forbear noticing the universal feeling of regret created among the English colony in Paris by the sad tidings . . . He was a hero after our own heart . . . I can safely say deeper and more unanimous sorrow has not been experienced by our countrymen here.

The Northerners in Paris often express wonder at the universal sympathy for the South felt by Englishmen. They may learn a useful lesson from the tribute paid by our countrymen to Stonewall Jackson. Independently of the justice of the cause, independently of the disgust excited by the arrogance and boasting of the North, it is the presence in the Southern ranks of such men as Davis, Lee, Longstreet, Jackson, Stuart, Beauregard, and Semmes that conciliate the esteem of the world, as well as its admiration. Stonewall Jackson was one of the most heroic figures that have been thrown into relief in the course of this gigantic struggle.

Look at the North, and we may ask: Quando et quo invenient parem? Low speculators, dishonest politicians, pettifogging tyrants, unhanged murderers, and strong-minded women, for whose conduct insanity is the only possible excuse – these are the worthies of the North. The loss of Jackson has brought home this contrast to many minds, and, if possible, added strength to the general conviction in the ultimate triumph of the cause supported by such as he.”

General Jackson has lived long enough for the creation of world-wide, exalted fame; but alas! not sufficiently long for the interest of his struggling country. Nobly, most nobly, did he complete his high mission on earth. In his separation from us let us console ourselves with the belief that his illustrious example will exercise as salutary an influence upon our citizen soldiers in the hour of battle as did his presence, and that his pure spirit will linger around his beloved associates whenever they may be engaged and guide to their accustomed achievements.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, A. Dudley Mann”

(A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy 1861-1865, James D. Richardson, Volume II, US Publishing Company, 1905, excerpt, pp. 489-492)

 

An Isolated But Self-Reliant People

Necessity being the mother of invention, the war and naval blockade thrust upon the American South forced its citizenry to rely on their ingenuity to not only survive, but fight tenaciously for independence against vast and overwhelming odds for four grueling years.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

An Isolated But Self-Reliant People

“One lasting a beneficial result of this situation somewhat compensates for the temporary inconveniences and sufferings. It stimulated the inventive genius of the Southern people and revealed to them a mechanical capacity which they did not know they possessed. Speaking to a New England audience in 1886 on “The Political and Social South During the War,” [former North Carolina governor and United States Senator Zebulon] Vance said:

“You can scarcely imagine the feeling which comes to a people when isolated as we were, and shut out from communication with all the world. A nation in prison we were, in the midst of civilized society, and forced to rely exclusively upon ourselves for everything. When the war began, with the exception of a few cotton and woolen mills and the crude establishments common to all plantations and villages, we were utterly without manufactures of any kind . . . But the land was full of resources, and the raw material for the manufacture of all that we needed.

And strange as it may appear to you, it was full of mechanical capacity to deal with this material . . . Cotton and woolen mills quickly sprang up and the capacity of existing ones enlarged. Foundries for casting cannon, shops for making fire arms, swords and bayonets, and mills for making powder were set up in abundance. Shoes and blankets were made by the hundred thousand, and transportation wagons and camp equipages of all kind soon supplied the demand.

The situation called into active use all the mechanical talent of our people. The village or cross-road blacksmith refurnished his shop and made tools and agricultural implements for his neighbors; the shoemaker, the cooper, the wheelwright, and the tanner, all sprang into sudden importance. Even the druggist who compounded from the wondrous flora of the country substitutes for nearly all the drugs of commerce, which if not so efficacious were at least more harmless than the genuine article.

The devices and expedients adopted in all the industries, the social and domestic departments of our daily life, were most ingenious, though sometimes ludicrous.”

((North Carolina, Rebuilding an Ancient Commonwealth, Vol. II, R.D.W. Conner, American Historical Society, 1929, pp. 195-196)

The South's Invincible Bravery

The South believed the invader of their land inferior and recalled that Hannibal had destroyed more than ninety percent of a vastly superior Roman army; Frederick the Great defeated an army twice the size of his in 1757; and Zachary Taylor defeated 15,000 Mexicans at Buena Vista in 1847 with 5,000 troops. Historian Bell Wiley noted: “Indeed, it is doubtful that any people ever went to war with greater enthusiasm than did Confederates in 1861.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The South’s Invincible Bravery

“General Robert E. Lee had decided to disregard the advice of a division commander [to] assault the strong Federal position [at Malvern Hill]. For the task he selected country boys and men from the Deep South . . . together with regiments from North Carolina and Virginia. These were proud soldiers, even a bit cocky now because for nearly a week they had been pushing Yankees back . . . [the enemy general] thought they came on with “a reckless disregard for life . . . with a determination to capture our army, or destroy it.”

At Sharpsburg a Federal remembered that the advance of his unit was stopped by a “long and steady line of rebel gray . . . sweeping down through the woods.”

Another Northerner recounted the “invincible bravery” of the attacking Confederates and how his regiment “opened a withering, literally withering, fire on the rebels . . . but they still advanced. A color-bearer came forward within fifteen yards of our line, and with the utmost desperation waved a rebel flag in front of him.

Our men fairly roared, “Shoot the man with the flag! And he went down in a twinkling and the flag was not raised in sight again. Several charges at Sharpsburg cost the Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiment sixty-two percent of its 325 men. One company lost all but five of its 30 men; two-thirds of the men and all of the officers in another company were killed or wounded.

The South lost 175,000 soldiers in the first twenty-seven months of combat. This number was more than the entire Confederate military service in the summer of 1861 and it far exceeded the strength of any army that Lee ever commanded. More than 80,000 Southerners fell in just five battles. At Gettysburg, three out of every ten Confederates present were hit; one brigade lost sixty-five percent of its men and seventy percent of its field officers in a single charge.

A North Carolina regiment started the action with some 800 men; only 216 survived unhurt. Another unit lost two-thirds of its men as well as its commander in a brief assault.”

(Attack and Die, Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage, Grady McWhiney and Perry Jamieson, University of Alabama Press, 1982, pp. 3-5)

Georgia Boys Hundreds of Miles from Home

The year 1862 ended with great loss on both sides; the carnage at Fredericksburg should have convinced a sane Northern leader that the human cost of his war upon the South was not worth the ever-increasing casualty lists. By mid-year Lincoln was told that enlistments had virtually ceased and that only forced conscription could fill his armies fighting against poorly-armed and supplied Southern men who were fighting for their homes and political independence. In the fighting [below] at Seven Days’, twenty-five Athens, Georgia men were killed at the Seven Days’ battle.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Georgia Boys Hundreds of Miles from Home

“General Robert E. Lee, now in command of the entire force defending Richmond, set June 26 [1862] as the day for a great attack to drive the enemy from the area. Suddenly, in mid-afternoon there came the crashing sounds of war. Many thousands of Confederate soldiers crossed the Chickahominy [river], advancing eastward toward the village of Mechanicsville, driving the enemy steadily before them.

It was after four o’clock in the afternoon before Captain Samuel Lumpkin led the Johnson Guards across the Chickahominy . . . [and] Scarcely had they crossed before a group of civilian horsemen appeared . . . it was President [Jefferson] Davis, trying as ever to get nearer the center of action.

Lumpkin’s men hurried toward Mechanicsville with their regiment . . . exposed on open ground to the raking fire from the heights beyond. Some found cover, others could only protect themselves by lying down prone. There was no chance for a direct assault on the Federal lines, and the Southern commanders could only hope to flank the Union left. The Forty-fourth Georgia, that included the Johnson Guards, was given the task . . . in the face of the concentrated fire of Federal muskets that poured bullets into them from the easiest point-blank range.

The Georgia lines were shattered, and the attack utterly crushed. Of the five hundred men of the Forty-fourth Regiment that entered the battle, less than fifty escaped unharmed; nine-tenths of the command were shot or captured. Of the three hundred Georgians that lay dead in the tangled swamp of Beaver Dam Creek, eleven were country boys from the Watkinsville area, shot dead on their first day of battle, hundreds of miles from home.

On the following days the Confederate command, rallying all along the line, regained the initiative it had lost at Beaver Dam Creek. At Gaines’ Mill, Savage Station, and Frayser’s Farm, in one bitter battle after another, the enemy was gradually pushed back from the gates of Richmond.

In the early morning hours of July 1, the war once again caught up with the Johnson Guards, when the weary survivors of Ripley’s Brigade were thrown into the attack against the hill. Before the day was over, the six other Clarke County companies were joined in the fight, all occupying the same battle line. The old Athens Guards [of Capt. Henry C. Billups] and [Capt. Isaac S. Vincent’s] Clarke [County] Rifles, now merely companies “K” and “L” in the regiment of [Ambrose] R. Wright’s Brigade, were on hand. So were Captain William S. Grady’s Highland Guards, of Robert Ransom’s Brigade, and the three Athens companies of Tom Cobb’s Legion, of his brother Howell’s Brigade.

At one time, all the Athens companies were on the move simultaneously in the Army’s desperate attempt to make headway up the murderous slope. But the onslaught was useless; the defensive positions were too strong, and he attackers were driven back with great loss. As night came on, the Federals still held the hill. When the artillery of both sides finally ceased firing at ten o’clock that night, only the agonized cries of the wounded and the dying could be heard from the hillside.

At daylight the following morning, Wright’s Brigade of Georgians was one of only two Confederate commands that had not been swept off the hill. As the men of the Athens Guard and Clarke Rifles looked up the slope, the only soldiers they could see were the writhing wounded and the shattered bodies of the dead. Eleven of their comrades had been killed.

Out of sight, behind the crest of the hill, a Federal force of cavalry and infantry waited for a time, but withdrew at the first fire of the Confederates. By ten o’clock in the morning, the last Union soldier had disappeared . . . The field belonged to the South at last, but the victory had not been won. The enemy had successfully got away.

Edgar Richardson, of [Capt. Marcellus Stanley’s] Troup Artillery, walked over the Malvern Hill battlefield, looked at the bulging eyes of the dead, and wrote his sister he never wanted “to behold such a sight again.” Tom Cobb wrote [wife] Marion: “It is very unpleasant to go to [the battlefields], not only on account of the stench, but also the flies which . . . over the whole earth and trees in a dense mass.

Thus ended the Seven Days. The enemy was gone, withdrawn to its James River base, and Richmond was saved.”

(These Men She Gave, Civil War Diary of Athens, Georgia, John F. Stegeman, UG Press, pp. 52-54)

 

Incomparable American Soldiers

After his twenty-thousand men were soundly whipped by eight-thousand Southern men under General A.P. Hill in mid-1864, at least one enemy general realized that only merciless attrition, starvation and destruction could force the Americans he fought to lower their arms.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Incomparable American Soldiers

“So much has been said about the morale of the Army of Northern Virginia after the Battle of Gettysburg . . . and to say nothing about the splendid fighting of [General] A.P. Hill’s men and the cavalry at Ream’s Station in August 1864, and the almost daily fights that [Gen.] W.H.F. Lee’s cavalry had along the Boydton Plank Road and the Weldon Railroad at Ream’s Station, we swept Hancock’s celebrated 2nd Corps away from our front like the whirlwind.

Nothing stopped us and our force was far inferior [in number] to theirs . . . General A.P. Hill sent . . . for a mounted man who was familiar with the country, and he [Lt. Aldrich] was sent.

When he reported to General Hill, the General said: “Lieutenant, how many men have you with the cavalry?”

Lieutenant Aldrich told him that he had about two thousand and then asked: “General Hill, how many men have you?”

The response was: “About eight thousand, I think.”

Then the General said: “How many men do you think are in front of us Lieutenant?”

To which the Lieutenant replied: “All of Hancock’s troops, I should say about twenty thousand men.”

Lieutenant Aldrich then insinuated that the General was attempting a big job with the force he had.

General Hill then said: “Lieutenant, if we can’t whip them with this proportion we’d better stop the war right now.”

History shows well how he figured. General Hancock, when he returned from the hospital testified to the completeness of [his] defeat and told his Corps that the Confederate army could not be beaten, but must be worn out.”

(The Battle of Five Forks, David Caldwell, Columbia, SC, Confederate Veteran Magazine, March 1914, page 117)

 

Washington Lonely No More in Heaven

In early 1926 a Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Post in Pennsylvania protested placing a statue of General Robert E. Lee in the Capitol near George Washington. Lee surpassed the latter as a military leader as he fought the grand armies whose intentions were destroying the very republic Washington helped create.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Washington Lonely No More in Heaven

“The following, taken from the News & Observer, of Raleigh, NC, disposes of the recent emanations from that GAR Post in Pennsylvania which seemed to feel the need of getting before the public in some vicious way. Doubtless this was soothing:

“Somebody ought to take up a collection and transport to Washington the members of that GAR Camp in Pennsylvania which recently declared that Robert E. Lee was a traitor to his country and the military leader of an armed rebellion against the government of the United States having as its object the destruction of the Union, and if Robert E. Lee had received his just dues he would have been hanged and the scaffold preserved as a monument to his infamy.

Those provincial fire-eaters would find that, with the approval of the Congress of the United States of America, representing forty-eight sovereign States, the statue of Robert E. Lee stands near to that of George Washington — par nobile fratum — in the Capitol in Washington. In all the history of the world there have not been two great men so much alike.

Indeed, as has been said, “Washington was lonesome in heaven until Lee arrived.” Both were rebels against authority; both fought honorably.  If Washington had lost, he still would have been the great figure he is. Lee’s fame rises higher because of failure to attain his objective, because in defeat he had a nobility and grandeur unequaled except by that of Washington in victory.

If Lee was an “arch traitor,” so was George Washington. It is good company, and the superheated Pennsylvanians will live to see the day they will be ashamed of their resolution.”

(Confederate Veteran, May, 1926, page 164)

 

Six Thousand Against Twenty Thousand!

 

Despite the tide of war turning against them and being hopelessly outnumbered in every battle, the hungry and ragged American soldiers fought on in North Carolina, bravely trying to destroy the Northern invaders. They fought to protect their families, homes and State; their enemies fought for bounties, looting and conquest.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Six Thousand Against Twenty Thousand!

“At Monroe’s Farm . . . General Wade Hampton and his Confederate cavalry caught Judson Kilpatrick with his pants down — in fact, without any pants — in a sudden surprise attack during the early dawn of March 11 [1865]. Had the famished Confederates not stopped to loot the Yankee camp of food, they might have gained a signal victory that day.

Many of the Confederates killed in that fight were boys — the seed corn of the Confederacy, as Governor Vance called them. They died then, those boys, many calling for their mothers. Their mangled bodies lie in a mass grave in old Longstreet Church Cemetery, now a part of the Fort Bragg [military] Reservation.

On through Fayetteville, across the Cape Fear River and up toward Averasboro went [General Joseph E.] Johnston’s little army of hungry, ragged men. Only a few days before an order had been issued than none would be excused from duty merely because he had no shoes! And this was March, and it was cold and it rained — Lord, it rained all the time.

So they slogged through the mud and the mire and ate parched corn, pickled pork, roots, grub worms — anything they could chew and swallow. It was at the time when Johnston’s chief surgeon stated he didn’t believe there was a sound set of guts in the entire Confederate Army.

The route of Johnston’s retreat could be followed by following the trail of dysentery-ridden soldiers left in houses along the way. These, then, were the 6,000 men of General Hardee’s Corps, composed principally of South Carolinians, who placed themselves across that 3-1/2 mile stretch of land between the Cape Fear River and Black Rivers — 4 miles south of old Averasboro. Their job? Lick the Yankees!

Over in the Black River Swamp the Confederates had charged the Yankee position . . . The charge was intended to turn the Federal right and neatly cul-de-sac the whole Yankee Army against the Cape Fear River and destroy it. Six thousand against twenty thousand!”

(They Passed This Way, Malcolm Fowler, Friends of Harnett County Library, 1955, pp. 95-96)