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May 14, 2021 - Southern Patriots, Southern Statesmen, The War at Sea    Comments Off on A Madcap Scheme at Sea

A Madcap Scheme at Sea

Major Caleb Huse, a native of Massachusetts married to a lady born in New York, and friend of Stephen R. Mallory, was sent to England by President Jefferson Davis to be chief purchasing agent for the Confederate army. Captain James Bulloch credited Huse’s weapon and munitions acquisition efforts with enabling the South to check McClellan’s advance on Richmond in 1862. He named a swift, British-built blockade runner, “Harriet Pinckney” to honor his wife. Captain Robert B. Pegram (below) commanded the CSS Nashville which had just docked at Southampton, England. William Lowndes Yancey headed the South’s diplomatic mission to England and France early in the war.

A Madcap Scheme at Sea

“My object in calling on Captain Pegram was not one of courtesy alone. A most outrageous proposal had been made to me, involving the capture of a British ship bound from Hamburg to New York, loaded with a hundred thousand Austrian rifles [for the US government]. The proposal, in brief, was:

That I should deposit 10,000 [pounds] in the Bank of England subject to the draft of one of two persons. In the event of success of the scheme, one was to draw out the money; in the case of failure, the other.

The plan was to capture a British ship, then loaded with arms at Hamburg for New York. It had been proposed to me that with a tug, having a gun on board, I should intercept the ship, fire [the] gun, and demand her surrender. The captain would have orders to comply with my demand, and I was to direct him to sail for Charleston.

The scheme was not impossible for anyone holding a privateer’s commission, and I applied to Mr. Yancey for a letter of marque. On hearing my story, Mr. Yancey said he had such commissions, but that they were contrary to the spirit of the age, and he had determined not to give any of them out. However, in this instance, he would issue one if I wanted it.

I believe my land-service commission would protect me, but I asked for the letter- of-marque as an additional safeguard. Captain Pegram, after considering the matter in conference with his executive, Lieutenant Fauntleroy (formerly of the US Navy), determined not to make the attempt, and the matter was dropped. Perhaps it is well that . . . Captain Pegram declined to act; for I had the money ready to deposit, and what seems now to me a madcap scheme might have been attempted.”

(The Supplies for the Confederate Army, Caleb Huse, Ninety-Nine Cent Publishing, original published 1904, pp. 35-36)

Helot Rhett Butlers

It is said that one of the most distinguishing achievements of the American Confederacy was the ingenuity of Southern authorities and businessmen meeting the challenge of a naval blockade of its coasts. They answered the challenge with swift, light draft blockade runners fueled with quick-burning Welsh coal while utilizing two Southern-friendly islands, Bermuda and the Bahamas, for supply transshipments.

Gen. U.S. Grant, III, stated in 1961 that “if the Cambridge Modern History is correct in its allegation that between October 26, 1864 and January 1865 it was still possible for 8,632,000 lbs. of meat, 1,507,000 lbs. of lead, 1,933,000 lbs. of saltpeter, 546,000 pairs of shoes, 316,000 blankets, half a million pounds of coffee, 69,000 rifles and 43 cannons to run the blockade into the port of Wilmington alone, while cotton sufficient to pay for these purchases was exported, it is evident that the blockade runners made an important contribution to the Confederacy’s ability to carry on.” (New York History Quarterly, Vol. XLII, No. 1, January 1961, pp. 49-50).

Helot Rhett Butlers

“There were, of course, precedents for blockade evasion in the history of warfare. One striking parallel to the Southern problem occurred in 425 B.C., during the Peloponnesian War. The Athenians had succeeded in trapping a portion of the Spartan land forces on the island of Sphacteria, off the coast of Pylos, and thus, by maintaining a blockade, learned what the federal navy and government would in time come to understand: a blockade immobilized, perhaps, some of the enemy’s forces, restricted his strategy, and imposed attrition, but it did not of itself bring him to capitulation.

Thucydides records that much time was consumed in the blockade of the island because the Spartans had not stood idly by while the cream of their land forces was being starved to death.

“The fact was,” he wrote, “that the Lacedaemonians had made the advertisement for volunteers to carry into the island ground corn, wine, cheese, and any other food useful in a siege; high prices being offered, and freedom promised to any of the Helots who should succeed in doing so . . . In short, both sides tried every possible contrivance, the one to throw in provisions, the other to prevent their introduction.”

Thucydides reasoned well in considering the material inducement offered the Helots to undertake running the blockade. Those men of the Confederacy who were interested in bringing in supplies from abroad, and who were not involved in the trade officially, had rich material benefits in mind.”

(Ploughshares into Swords: Josiah Gorgas and Confederate Ordnance, Frank E. Vandiver, Texas A&M Press, 1994, excerpt pg. 85)

Goths and Vandals in Florida

Captain J.J. Dickison, renowned for his fearless role in leading Florida’s “Cow Cavalry” during the war, is said to have always carried three revolvers – two in holsters and one on his saber belt. On more than one occasion after emptying his pistols and dashing up to an enemy cavalryman who was ordered to surrender, but refused to do, he would strike an unerring blow with his trusty saber.

Goths and Vandals in Florida

“Gainesville, Fla., August 19, 1864

The enemy’s cavalry [from Ohio and Massachusetts], reported to be four hundred strong, reached this place on the 17th, at four o’clock, a.m., with the view to sacking and burning the town. Upon their arrival, we had but one company of militia and a few citizens, who had assembled suddenly upon the emergency, under command of Judge Thomas F. King, to repel them.

Finding that they were unable, in consequence of the largely superior force, to successfully resist them, they retired . . . anxiously hoping for the arrival of our cavalry.

The enemy, or, at least a majority of them, were stationed at the railroad and depot, while the remaining began an indiscriminate robbery and plunder of the citizens of the town. Just in the midst of their thieving operations, and conduct such as would have been a disgrace even to the names and character of the Goths and Vandals, Captain [J.J.] Dickison . . . with his noble command, dashed in the town from nearly every direction.

When nearly opposite the residence of Colonel Dozier, Captain Dickison directed Lt. Bruton of the artillery, to open upon the enemy with the two pieces under his command. A portion of our cavalry then charged upon the enemy, and opened such a terrific fire upon them that they scampered through the town in every direction like a flock without a shepherd.

The fighting between our troops and the enemy then became indiscriminate and general. The Yankees tried to secret themselves in and under the houses in town, while many of them sought to remain near the ladies for protection, knowing full well our gallant men would not aim their trusty rifles at them thus situated.  Finding that they were completely hemmed in . . . a large number surrendered.

A number of the enemy, after being routed . . . started pell-mell on the road leading to Newnansville, where they were met by a detachment of militia cavalry, commanded by Captain Williams, who captured twenty-four of them.”

(Dickison and His Men: Reminiscences of the War in Florida, Mary Elizabeth Dickison, Courier-Journal Printing Co., 1890, excerpts pp. 100-102)

As Virginia Patriots Did Before Them

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

As Virginia Patriots Did Before Them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commendable Deeds Transmitted to Posterity

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

Commendable Deeds Transmitted to Posterity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Pensacola Lawyer from New England

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

A Pensacola Lawyer from New England

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mar 14, 2021 - Foreign Viewpoints, Historical Accuracy, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Multicultural Confederates

Multicultural Confederates

The German citizens of Charleston were quick to form ranks against invasion, organizing the German Riflemen (Schutzen) of Captain J. Small; the Palmetto Schutzen of Captain A. Melchers; the German Fusiliers of Captain Schroder; Captain Theodore Cordes’ German Hussars. But German South Carolinians won their greatest distinction as artillerists in Hampton’s Legion, early on known as Major Johann Wagener’s artillery.

Multicultural Confederates

“In Richmond . . . The old German Rifle Company, which had been organized on March 1, 1850, was attached to the First Infantry Regiment as Company K.  Another company of recent comers, the Marion Rifles, was mustered into service on May 1, 1861, and ordered to the peninsula on the twenty-fourth of that month. Colonel Rains recruited an artillery regiment composed in part of Germans from Richmond.

The First Virginia Regiment was, except for the German Rifle Company, composed of Irishmen, and was termed accordingly the Irish Battalion. It was attached to [Stonewall] Jackson’s division From December 1861, to about December 1862, when it was made provost guard for the Army of Northern Virginia. The Nineteenth Virginia Reserved Forces were chiefly composed of foreigners, Germans, Frenchmen and Italians, recruited for home defense among the artisans in the government workshops.

Even from North Carolina, which boasts of its almost purely Anglo-Saxon population, hail several companies which were constituted of sons from other climes. Wilmington had a goodly number of foreign-born [including the German Volunteers of Captain Christian Cornehlson], a group which became Company A, Eighteenth North Carolina. Every officer and every enlisted man, 102 in all, except 30, had been born in Germany.

It was inevitable that a city, with as large groups of Germans and Irish as Charleston had, should send forth companies comprised in whole or in large part of men born in the Germans states or in Ireland. Most generously and patriotically did the Germans of Charleston uniform and equip the company . . . They came from the superior ranks of the German citizens, merchants, lawyers, teachers, clerks and artisans.”

(Foreigners in the Confederacy, Ella Lonn, UNC Press, 1940, excerpts pp. 117-120)

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

Mr. Murphy’s Boy

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

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

Mr. Murphy’s Boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Going South”

The US Marine Corps in 1861 had a total strength of 1,775, including 63 officers. Nineteen of these went South in 1861 to join the newly established Confederate States Marine Corps, and all were very well-informed on the Constitution they had sworn an oath to defend against enemies both foreign and domestic, especially the latter. The following are taken from the resignation letters of three officers: one Marine and two Navy.

“Going South”

After reading Lincoln’s inaugural address, Captain Robert Tansill, USMC explained his resignation from the US Marine Corps:

“In entering the public service, I took an oath to support the Constitution, which necessarily gives me the right to interpret it. Our institutions, according to my understanding, are founded upon the principle and right of self-government. The States, in forming the Confederacy [in 1789] did not relinquish that right, and I believe each State has a clear and unquestionable right to secede whenever the people thereof think proper, and the Federal Government has no legal or moral authority to use physical force to keep them in the Union. Entertaining these views, I cannot conscientiously join in a war against any of the States which have already seceded or may hereafter secede, either North or South, for the purpose of coercing them back into the Union . . .”

Officers of the highest rank were also dismissed summarily, particularly if they, like Captain Isaac Mayo, took the trouble to attack the Lincoln administration. Writing from his Maryland estate on May 1, he asserted:

“It was the hope of my old age that I might die, as I had lived, an officer in the Navy of a free Government. This hope has been taken from me. In adopting the policy of coercion, you have denied to millions of freemen the rights of the Constitution and in its stead you have placed the will of a sectional Party. What a spectacle to intelligent minds . . . I cannot fight against the Constitution while pretending to fight for it. You will therefore oblige me by accepting my resignation.”

Less high-minded and more sentimental was the resignation letter sent by Lieutenant James J. Waddell who was serving aboard the USS John Adams and who wrote from the island of St. Helena the following lines:

“The people of the State of North Carolina having withdrawn their allegiance to the Government of the late Confederacy of the United States . . . I return to ‘His Excellency the President of the United States,’ the Commission which appointed me a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy . . . In thus separating myself from association which I have cherished for twenty years, I wish it to be known that no doctrine of the rights of secession, nor wish for disunion of the States impel me, but simply because my home is the home of my people in the South, and I could not bear arms against them.”

(Going South: US Navy Officer Resignations & Dismissals On the Eve of the Civil War, Naval Historical Foundation Publications, Series II, Number 27, Fall 1981, pp. 21-22)

Feb 6, 2021 - Southern Conservatives, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Southern Independence Would be Secured at Gettysburg

Southern Independence Would be Secured at Gettysburg

A prewar railroad engineer who directed the Philadelphia & Baltimore Central line, Isaac Trimble was contracted to rejuvenate the Santiago to Havana railroad in Cuba when war began in America.

Writing a post-battle account of battle near Cross Keys in late April 1862, then- brigadier Trimble wrote: “a deadly fire was delivered along our whole front, dropping the deluded victims of Northern fanaticism and misrule by the scores.” During the Second Manassas Campaign, Trimble revealed his soldierly intensity to Stonewall Jackson, stating “Before this war is over, I intend to be either a Major-General or a corpse.”

In the postwar Gen. Isaac Trimble remained a largely unreconstructed Southern man, and no record indicates he ever “swallowed the dog” of allegiance to the victorious Northern government beyond the superficial promises required for parole in 1865.

Southern Independence Would be Secured at Gettysburg

“Isaac Trimble was not to be left out of [the] discussion [regarding Lee at Gettysburg], for his opinions were strong indeed. Trimble prefaced his comments thusly:

“But it is certain that the Confederate commander never for a moment supposed he could take a large army into Pennsylvania and continue there many weeks without fighting a great battle somewhere. This, General Lee hoped to do on ground of his own choice, with deliberate plan, and under circumstances entirely favorable to success. We are to see how these reasonable expectations were defeated by adverse circumstances; disobedience of orders by his commander of cavalry, and want of concerted action and vigorous onset among his corps commanders at critical moments in the assault of each of the three days.”

Trimble was of the opinion that the three days’ fighting at Gettysburg were a draw, and certainly the fact of the two armies at rest, facing one another for the day of July 4th, supports his contention. He also opined . . . that had any one of several errors by the Confederates not occurred, the battle would have been a signal victory for Lee.

Trimble concluded his commentary by the statement that there was “no question” that a victory at Gettysburg “would have secured Southern Independence.”

(Furious, Insatiable Fighter: A Biography of Major-General Isaac Ridgeway Trimble, CSA, David C. Trimble, University Press of America, excerpts pp. 117-119)

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