★ NASHVILLE’S BATTLEFIELD, OVERDEVELOPED & OVERLOOKED ★
FROM VMI CADET TO CONFEDERATE SCULPTOR
CHARGE! THIRD WINCHESTER THE WAR’S LARGEST CAVALRY ATTACK
LOST MOVIE OF THE
BATTLE OF FRANKLIN LETTERS FROM CONNECTICUT’S
‘IRISH REGIMENT’ February 2019 HistoryNet.com
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CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
46 BOMBS BURSTING IN AIR Union Flag Officer David Farragut’s fleet fights past forts guarding New Orleans on the evening of April 24, 1862.
ON THE COVER: This unknown Union trooper’s image is reversed due to the camera technology of the era.
Sabers, War, and Memory
Hidden in Plain Sight
By Jonathan Noyalas A massive cavalry charge at Third Winchester decided the fight and caused postwar commemorative battles.
By Sue Eisenfeld Moses Ezekiel, a Battle of New Market veteran, created noteworthy Confederate sculptures.
‘ I Hope You Will Come Home’
‘ Confederates Badly Needed’
By Susannah J. Ural A Connecticut colonel and his wife struggled with their commitment to the Union cause.
By John Banks A 1923 movie about the Battle of Franklin had all the makings of a blockbuster. Then it was lost forever.
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM, USA/BRIDGEMAN IMAGES; JEFF WARNECK/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO; MELISSA A. WINN; THE NASHVILLE TENNESSEAN MAGAZINE; COVER: STORCH FAMILY COLLECTION/PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: BRIAN WALKER
6 8 12 14 18 22 27 62 68 72
Letters Overlooked at Petersburg News ! Inherited prison trauma? Details Roof over their heads Rambling Nashville’s lost battlefield Insight Lee’s mea culpa Interview War makers Editorial Explosive technological change Explore Northern, Northern Virginia Reviews Complex common soldiers Sold ! Civil War cinema icon FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
MICHAEL A. REINSTEIN CHAIRMAN & PUBLISHER DAVID STEINHAFEL PUBLISHER ALEX NEILL EDITOR IN CHIEF
EDITORIAL DANA B. SHOAF EDITOR CHRIS K. HOWLAND SENIOR EDITOR SARAH RICHARDSON SENIOR EDITOR STEPHEN KAMIFUJI CREATIVE DIRECTOR BRIAN WALKER GROUP ART DIRECTOR JENNIFER M. VANN ART DIRECTOR MELISSA A. WINN DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY SHENANDOAH SANCHEZ PHOTOGRAPHER AT LARGE
Why the general’s Washington, D.C., monument took years to complete. bit.ly/meademonument
THE RISE OF SHERIDAN At the Battle of Stones River, Philip Sheridan launched his dramatic climb to military fame. bit.ly/SheridanRise
‘NO MAN WAVERED’ Firsthand accounts detail how the Confederate 1st Missouri Brigade paid a high price at Allatoona Pass and Franklin. bit.ly/MissouriAtFranklin
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ADVISORY BOARD Edwin C. Bearss, Gabor Boritt, Catherine Clinton, William C. Davis, Gary W. Gallagher, Lesley Gordon, D. Scott Hartwig, John Hennessy, Harold Holzer, Robert K. Krick, Michael McAfee, James M. McPherson, Mark E. Neely Jr., Megan Kate Nelson, Ethan S. Rafuse, Susannah J. Ural
On June 15, 1864,
BLOOD BY A. WILSON GREENE
at Petersburg, Va.,
Confederate forts and
MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM FARRAR SMITH WAS A DIFFICULT FELLOW.
“A short, quite portly man, with a light-brown imperial and shaggy mustache, a round military head, and the look of a German officer,” Smith, thought Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, was “obstinate” and “likely to condemn whatever is not suggested by himself.” In spite of these flaws, Grant brought Smith east from Tennessee and placed him in command of the 18th Corps of the Army of the James. On the morning of June 15, 1864, the lieutenant general assigned Smith primary responsibility for capturing Petersburg, Va., targeted by Grant as the key to reducing Richmond. Smith’s corps contained three infantry divisions, two of them comprised of white soldiers and one of United States Colored Troops. Brigadier General Edward W. Hinks led these two brigades of African Americans, which on that late spring day would experience their baptism of fire. In fact, Hinks’ division would begin the combat early that morning by overwhelming a small Confederate outpost at the Baylor
An 1863 lithograph titled “Make Way For Liberty!,” designed to encourage African American men to enlist in the Union Army, and to encourage white Northerners to accept that fact, graphically portrays a USCT soldier bayoneting a Confederate in the face.
CIVIL WAR TIMES DECEMBER 2018
I really enjoyed the article by A. Wilson Greene about the June 15, 1864, assaults at Petersburg featured in the December 2018 issue. Those opening attacks of the Petersburg Campaign are usually overshadowed by the events at the Crater and later battles around Petersburg. Also, the role of the USCTs in early June are usually overlooked by actions such as New Market Heights and Battery Wagner, which have gotten more attention and press. But what the USCTs did along the Dimmock Line established their reputation as hard fighters. Luckily for us, a lot of the battlefield where those men fought is preserved along the beginning of the park tour road of the Petersburg National Battlefield Park’s Eastern Front Unit. Robert Orrison Historic Site Operations Supervisor Prince William County, Va.
SHARPSHOOTER ONE MORE TIME Editor’s Note: Author Scott Fink’s June 2018 issue article “Behind the Barricade” and the identification of the Gettysburg sharpshooter has inspired a lot of dis6
Farm, east of Petersburg. This unexpected roadblock, however, prompted Smith to advance against the main Confederate line with an abundance of caution. Smith spent most of the day reconnoitering and then positioning his force along a front of more than two miles stretching from near the Appomattox River on his right to Jordan Point Road on his left. He settled on a battle plan targeting a strong point on the Rebel line called Battery 5, opposite the center of his formation. Once this attack commenced, the rest of Smith’s corps would join the assault, Hinks’ USCTs on the left of the Federal line of battle. The action began around 7 p.m., and quickly succeeded in capturing Battery 5. The division on Smith’s right made limited progress in expanding the breach toward the Appomattox River, leaving it up to the African Americans to demonstrate their combat credentials to the south of Smith’s initial breakthrough. Their performance that evening would
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
cussion. Below, Fink responds to a letter from historian Garry Adelman about the article that appeared in our December 2018 issue. I appreciate Garry Adelman’s letter on my article about the Gettysburg “sharpshooter,” but he should not be so quick to condemn my conclusions. One article cannot contain my entire four-plus years of research on this subject. Photo comparisons are subjective, but other elements of my argument are not. I have fully investigated the other units in the area of Devil’s Den that day, and established a very short list of potential soldiers killed in the area on July 3, 1863. Benning’s Georgia brigade and its location during the retreat on the evening of July 3 has been well documented by Benning and a detailed account by 2nd Georgia Infantryman William Houghton, mentioned in my article, and the locations mentioned are in very close proximity to where photographer Alexander Gardner found the body. Confederate service records are notoriously inaccurate. For example, the service record of Lieutenant James
Cicero Franklin of the 2nd Georgia’s Company B indicates that he was killed on July 1.The 2nd, however, was not in action that day and he was mortally wounded on July 3. Also, while service records indicate no enlisted soldiers were killed on July 3, Robert K. Krick’s list in Gettysburg’s Confederate Dead contains one, John Rutherford Ash. Krick’s source is a casualty report submitted by the acting adjutant for the 2nd Georgia, Sgt. Maj. H.B. Beecher. That same list was used for a July 22, 1863, Memphis Daily Appeal article that mentions Ash was killed in battle, but no death date is given in the paper. Ash does have a memorial stone in Banks County, Ga., erected by his brother, a lieutenant in the 2nd Georgia who was discharged in 1862 because of his heart. He was an active member in veteran groups after the war and was chairman of a committee trying to raise money for a memorial for Banks County soldiers. That memorial never materialized, but the markers to his two brothers that were killed in the war did. Ash’s death date is listed as July 4 on his stone, and is a mistaken date most likely given by a comrade, as I stated in the article. Inaccurate dates on postwar memorials are not uncommon. My conclusions are not based on “massive assumptions,” as Adelman says, but on years of research. I hope that readers will form their own opinions regarding my conclusions. I am currently in discussions with Savas Beatie Publishing to publish my books, Photo History: Gettysburg, and Where Defeated Valor Lies: The Rose Farm at Gettysburg.
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This sketch, done by artist James Taylor for a prison survivor’s memoir, shows emaciated Union prisoners and their Confederate captors in South Carolina’s Florence Stockade.
THE TRAUMA OF PRISONS A 8
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
the age of 45, were more likely to die earlier than sons of POWs held in less adverse conditions or sons of civilians. A comparable correlation between paternal trauma and offspring longevity was not found in daughters. ¶ The results are ascribed to epigenetic effects, which is when trauma ends up affecting the regulation of DNA and can be passed down to the next generation. Offspring of pregnant women who suffered famine in the first trimester of their pregnancy in Nazi-occupied Netherlands in 1944, for example, were the first study sample to reveal that deprivation can have an intergenerational effect. ¶ The researchers acknowledge that they cannot know definitively the reason for the discrepancy in health among offspring of POWs, nor could they distinguish whether starvation or sheer psychological stress was the primary factor. The work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online on October 15, 2018.
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study led by UCLA economics professor Dora Costa examined how the terrible conditions in Civil War POW camps affected not only the inmates, but also any offspring conceived after their father’s imprisonment. The report specifically compared outcomes for POWs who survived imprisonment before 1863, when exchanges were possible, to POWs who were held when no exchanges were permitted and deprivation of food and comfort occurred. The researchers also looked through military and pension files at the National Archives for more than 6,000 Union Army veterans and their wives, and at census data for nearly 20,000 offspring. Surviving deprivation in POW camps as prisoner exchanges ceased between mid-1863 and July 1864 was correlated with lower income, poorer health, and earlier death among veterans who lived past 1900. That group was also prone to have sons who, if they survived past
lincoln for sale
PAIN ACROSS THE POND
trove of recently discovered Civil War–era poetry in England shines an unexpected light on the reach of the American Civil War. During 1861-65, when U.S. shipments of cotton to England were blocked, textile workers in Lancashire mills were thrown out of a job. Their plight is portrayed in poems evoking the rift in the United States, the shutdown of their industry, and the poverty they endured. The poems were discovered by researchers at England’s University of Exeter, who were scouring archives for forgotten literary creations. The first 100 poems in the database were posted in July at cottonfaminepoetry.exeter.ac.uk, and others will be added, with a formal launch of the project scheduled for 2019. Poems were written both in local dialect and standard English, and each is annotated. Nearly all were written by men, and their titles convey the troubles: “North and South”; “Smokeless Chimney”; and “The Patched Shirt.” An anonymous 1862 poem, “The Millhand’s Petition,” closed with “The American war is still lasting; Like a terrible nightmare it leans/On the breast of a country, now fasting/ For cotton, for work, and for means.”
FROM TOP: COURTESY OF SWANN AUCTION GALLERIES; UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP/GETTY IMAGES
Harold Holzer, a member of the Civil War Times advisory board, sold his Lincolniana collection at Swann Galleries on September 27, 2018. John C. Wolfe’s portrait of a beardless Lincoln, at $40,000, was the best-selling item, well above the $20,000 estimate. The painting is believed to be based on a photo taken in 1860. Another standout from the sale was the commission of William Stoddard as the president’s secretary, which brought in $18,750. A ticket to Andrew Johnson’s impeachment brought $2,125.
tar heel tales The North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center in Chapel Hill has begun a project to assemble 100 stories of the era, one from each of the state’s 100 counties, packaged to be shared digitally and suitable for school-age children. The project comes on the heels of the controversy surrounding the toppling of “Silent Sam,” a 1913 monument to North Carolina Confederate soldiers, on August 20, 2018. The university removed the controversial statue and faces a self-imposed deadline of November 15, 2018, for deciding what to do with it.
Despondent Lancashire mill workers, unemployed due to the cotton crisis in England, line up at a soup kitchen.
FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
THE WAR ON THE NET n 1873, artist and Union Army veteran Julian Scott painted a piece he titled Surrender of a Confederate Soldier. It features a Confederate officer standing alongside a road, raising a branch with a white cloth. His wife sits behind him, cradling an infant, while an enslaved man stands to the side. The work is featured in the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) exhibition “The Civil War and American Art,” organized by senior curator Eleanor Jones Harvey. She explains that Scott purposefully portrayed this scene of an antebellum Southern domestic unit— husband, wife, child, slave—to highlight what the war forever changed. Scott presented the officer as proud, but defeated, while his wife stares at the ground, lost and confused. Only the enslaved man looks to the opportunities in the distance, considering, Harvey notes, “a very different future from his past.” Julian Scott was one of numerous artists featured in this 2012 through 2013 SAAM exhibit, which can still be enjoyed digitally through a series of podcasts and an online
Julian Scott, who served in the 3rd Vermont Infantry, painted a number of Civil War scenes, including Surrender of a Confederate Officer. lecture and tour. The podcasts feature video of the curator presenting thoughtful, detailed interpretations of six pieces by Scott and fellow artists Homer Dodge Martin, Frederic Edwin Church, Eastman Johnson, and Winslow Homer. Another set of podcasts includes 21st-century artists
Although some 3,000 alumni of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville served in the Confederacy, UVA graduate student Brian Neumann has uncovered a small contingent of alumni who fought for the Union. Neumann, working with files dating from 1825 to 1861, turned up 50 men who served in the Union Army or Navy, out of a total of 6,700 records. Two-thirds were from the South. Their support for the Union was typically based on preservation of the Union, although a handful opposed slavery. 10
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
explaining how the Civil War influences their current work, while six more podcasts offer modern scholars’ reflections on the war’s lasting influence on American art. Harvey organized the exhibit and the book that accompanies it to help audiences understand how artists wrestled with “the daily experiences of soldiers, slaves, and families left behind.” She notes that their work captured “their misgivings as well as their hopes for themselves and the nation,” and captured similar concerns in wartime America. For us, the exhibit provides a moving, inspiring method to improve our understanding of the Civil War. Harvey’s interpretation of Homer’s famous Veteran in a New Field, for example, has permanently changed how I view this piece. In fact, I’ll incorporate her analysis of Eastman Johnson’s Negro Life in the South into my Civil War course this spring. Regardless of what inspires you about the conflict, making time for Eleanor Harvey and her analysis of “The Civil War and American Art” is well worth your time.—Susannah J. Ural
LONELY OUTPOST Name this earthwork fort and send your answer to [email protected]
or to 1919 Gallows Road, Suite 400, Vienna, VA 22182-4038, marked “No Crater.” The ﬁrst correct answer will win a book. Congratulations to December 2018 issue winners James Milne of East Lansing, Mich. (e-mail) and Michael Bamford of Newburyport, Mass. (regular mail), who correctly identiﬁed the Bushong Farm on the New Market, Va., battleﬁeld.
FROM TOP: SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM/ART RESOURCE, NY; GOOGLE EARTH
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IN THE FIELD
in the great outdoors, Civil War photographers needed to set up a bulky camera, wait for the correct light to expose a glass or metal plate, prepare developing fluid to douse that plate in some sort of portable darkroom, and have human subjects willing to stay…very… still through the seconds-long exposure. Even with all that against them, dozens of photographers followed armies on the march to take remarkable images that captured the gore of battlefields, stiff-lipped soldier portraits taken in ad hoc tent studios, or as in this case, a group of comrades relaxing in their camp. We don’t know, unfortunately, much about the Union soldiers who are subjects of the image, except that they are supposedly troops from the western portion of Pennsylvania. It can’t be determined when and where the photo was taken, or if the men were veterans or green troops. But we can be thankful that circumstances put a photographer in their camp when the conditions were right to take this image of soldier life under a rustic shelter. –D.B.S. TO SUCCESSFULLY TAKE AN IMAGE
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
1. Cartridge boxes, haversacks, and tin canteens missing their cloth covers hang from the corner of the shelter. Also seen is an ever-useful tin cup.
2. Although a fairly large tent can be seen
in the left background, these infantrymen have created their own three-sided shelter, and its lived-in condition makes it appear they have been there for a while. Leafless trees indicate a late-fall to early-spring time frame. A pile of rocks, or the remnants of a stone wall, provide a windbreak.
3. The scalloped nose band and the longrange rear sight on the musket hanging from the ceiling are clues that the men could be carrying Model 1842 Rifle Muskets. These guns were made as smoothbores, but thousands were updated and converted to fire behemoth .69-caliber Minié balls by having their barrels rifled and the sights added. Most of these converted muskets were phased out by mid-1863. 4. A private wipes down his firearm. A Union gun-cleaning manual specified that “fine flour emery moistened with oil, or flour of emery cloth” was the best way to clean the “mountings” of muskets and “all of the iron and steel parts.” But the same manual cautioned officers to focus on the “qualities essential to service, rather than the bright polish on the exterior of arms,” when they inspected weapons.
5. As Union veteran John D. Billings explained in his classic book, Hardtack and Coffee, quantity of food was generally not a problem, at least in the Army of the Potomac, but as to “quality, the case is not quite so clear….” The image is just blurry enough to leave us wondering what is on this plate. Salt pork waiting for the campfire, or some soft bread from the camp bakery?
6. Reading seems to be the favorite choice to pass the time in this group of messmates. Four of the six men in the shelter are reading newspapers or magazines. The man in the center wears a clean, white paper collar, and one soldier is just content to smoke his pipe.
TOM MOLOCEA COLLECTION
FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
RAMBLING With John Banks
IN HIS FOOTSTEPS Gary Burke once sneaked into this railroad cut to gain an understanding about what his USCT ancestor experienced at the Battle of Nashville.
YOU NEED A KEEN IMAGINATION TO UNDERSTAND THE FIGHTING AT NASHVILLE
IN A SMALL PARK along Granny White Pike in Nashville, joggers
and walkers are busy burning calories early on a Sunday morning. Nearby looms the massive Battle of Nashville Peace Monument honoring Union and Confederate soldiers who fought over a vast swath of land south and west of this city. But the early risers seem oblivious to its existence. In an adjacent parking lot, a few steps from unmowed grass and 15 yards from a battlefield “witness tree,” visitors find a nearly unreadable wayside marker.This scene on the old Noel farm, once the front line on December 15, 1864, but now a sprawling neighborhood, is hardly surprising. The Nashville battlefield has a torturous history. Bulldozed, paved over, developed and mostly ignored, the hallowed ground on which John Bell Hood’s Army of
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
While Gary Burke was growing up here, his father—a Korean War veteran—had never mentioned Peter Bailey, a 5-foot-4-inch private in the 17th United States Colored Troops from Lebanon, Tenn. Then, Burke discovered Bailey’s name in a family history and began digging for more information. Bailey, he learned, was his great-great-grandfather, who had enlisted in January 1864 at age 18. As Burke talks of Bailey’s service, we walk the grounds of Travellers Rest, the Civil War-era home of Judge John Overton and one of Hood’s headquarters during the battle. He mentions how Glory—the 1989 movie about the
ALL PHOTOS BY JOHN BANKS
Tennessee was nearly destroyed December, 15-16, 1864, is today unrecognizable as a battlefield. Only pockets of core battleground remain—in a grimy industrial area, on the grounds of a modern church, in residential neighborhoods, on a golf course, and elsewhere. Sadly, Nashville is mostly a battlefield of the mind.
NASHVILLIANS HAD LITTLE
DESIRE TO SAVE THE SITE OF A MAJOR
54th Massachusetts—inspired him to reenact and opened his eyes to the battlefield experiences of African Americans. “When I was younger, it made me angry because I didn’t understand the history of the Civil War,” the 54-yearold says. “I tell young people of color we should embrace it. Don’t feel ashamed.” For Peter Bailey and eight USCT regiments, Nashville was their baptism of fire. At Peach Orchard Hill, across six lanes of I-65 from where we stand at Travellers Rest, the 13th USCT suffered 200 casualties, including five color-bearers, on the battle’s second day. “I never saw more heroic conduct shown on the field of battle than was exhibited by this body of men so recently slaves,” a Union officer said of the black troops’ performance that day. Unfortunately, the site where Private Bailey and the rest of Maj. Gen. George Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland fought bears no resemblance to its wartime appearance. By the 1950s, Peach Orchard Hill had become a residential neighborhood, with road construction carving huge portions from core battlefield. A member of the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society, Burke isn’t pleased with the destruction, calling it “preposterous and sad.” Later, we travel down Murfreesboro Pike, a gritty part of the city. It’s the same route Bailey and two USCT brigades took for a diversionary attack on the extreme far right of the Confederate line on the foggy morning of the battle’s first day. In industrial South Nashville, we inspect a small hill adjacent to a wrecker service. It is Granbury’s Lunette—all that remains of Confederate defenses here.
Four hundred feet west, we stand on a graffiti-marred, modern overpass to view a seldom-seen railroad cut—the very site where Bailey and his comrades, aiming to flank Confederates, instead were caught “like pickles in a barrel,” says Burke, and routed. He once sneaked into the cut—it’s about 10 feet deeper than it was during the war— because he wanted “to feel the fear that went through them.” Unlike at Granbury’s Lunette, where a wooden marker placed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans notes its significance, there’s no battlefield marker heralding the service of the USCT. Burke, who has written a poem about the fight in the cut, hopes to rectify that someday in South Nashville.
On December 15, Colonel Sylvester Hill’s 3rd Brigade routed Confederates at Redoubt No. 3, an attack today that would storm past children’s slides, overturn benches, and damage the twostory brick building in back of Calvary United Methodist Church on Hillsboro Pike. A 44-year-old Iowan, Colonel Hill was among those killed during the assault. Whether his death site is now in the parking lot of the Methodist church or postwar Woodmont Christian Church next door is open to interpretation. The shot that killed Hill, a married father of two children, is believed to have been fired about 300 yards away, from long-ago obliterated Redoubt No. 2, the site of a modern
REMEMBRANCE Framed by a “witness tree,” the Battle of Nashville Monument on Granny White Pike honors both sides of the December 1864 fight. Of 3,840 acres of core battlefield, only about 320 acres on which this critical late war fight occurred are preserved. FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
RAMBLING With John Banks
condominium complex. After briefly discussing Hill’s fate, church archivist Dave Nichols and I inspect the meager remains of the redoubt. It’s really just a shallow trench in the ground, covered with vegetation to protect it from erosion. Still, parishioners readily agreed to save it when two large additions to the church were built in the 1990s. Of the five redoubts constructed by Hood’s army in the countryside south of Nashville, only traces of Nos. 1, 3, and 4 survive. A marker along Hillsboro Pike once noted the location of Redoubt No. 3, but it was damaged when it was struck by a car several years ago and never replaced. But every so often, parishioners receive a reminder of the significance of the land their church was built upon in the late 1940s. “We have had sermons about how a battlefield was turned into a church,” says Nichols, 65. “This is a place where people were killed that has been turned into a place of peace.” Fifteen seconds into our meeting at Richland Country Club, Jim Kay establishes his Civil War credentials. On the back seat of the 58-year-old lawyer’s black Lexus rests a Colt pocket pistol, a Schenkl artillery round recovered from a Battle of Nashville site, and a Gwyn & Campbell carbine. On the short drive to his house in Oak Hill—scene of 16
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
A MINIÉ BALL WASH? At Nashville’s Richland Country Club, site of 1864 fighting, tee boxes are marked by large replicas of Sharps carbine bullets. intense fighting on the second day and today a wealthy suburb—it’s quickly apparent Kay also has a deep connection to the Nashville battleground. In the yard of his impressive house, behind Confederate lines in 1864, he has discovered scores of relics from the battle. Kay—whose long, salt-and-pepper hair and sideburns give him the air of a Confederate officer—also is blessed with “Civil War vision” for the battle. Where you may see a modern house, Kay visualizes a battlefield, with all the infantry and cavalry movements and artillery positions. As we drive down another street in the Oak Hill neighborhood, Kay points out the position of a Confederate battery in the front yard of a house, yards from a lengthy, wartime stone wall General William Loring’s soldiers used as cover against the Union 4th Corps. Near the battery position, a huge oak hangs on to life despite missing its top. That “witness tree,” Kay says, was a long-ago victim of cannon fire. Soon, we’re traveling south on Granny White Pike. When Kay was a kid, this area—about 15 miles from downtown—was farmland; now it’s
largely developed. “I’m sick about it,” admits Kay. In a desperate attempt to block pursuit of Union cavalry, Colonel Edmund Rucker’s brigade erected a barricade of fence rails and logs across macadamized Granny White Pike. Fierce, often hand-to-hand, fighting broke out that night during the “Battle of the Barricade”—the Army of Tennessee’s last gasp at Nashville—and Rucker was captured. Some of the fighting took place on the present-day site of the Richland Country Club, where Kay serves as president. “There were campfires everywhere here,” says Kay as we stand by two replica 3-inch ordnance rifles near a fairway. Several years ago, a country club maintenance worker even eyeballed a Union belt plate on the ground. Perhaps an apt metaphor for the Nashville battlefield may be found opposite an apartment complex, a few miles from booming downtown. Hidden among trees, weeds, and briars, the base of the old Battle of Nashville monument sits on a knoll overlooking Franklin Pike. Dedicated in 1927, the monument stood there defiantly until 1974, when a tornado toppled and destroyed it. By the early 1980s, construction of an interstate had made what was left of the monument a castaway on a tiny island in a sea of development. It was, according to the Battle of Nashville Preservation Society website, a “disaster.” Like the base on the second iteration of the monument, re-dedicated at the new site on Granny White Pike in 1999, the old pedestal includes this inscription: “A monument like this, standing on such memories, having no reference to utilities, becomes a sentiment, a poet, a prophet, an orator to every passerby.” A fitting epitaph, too, for a battlefield lost. ✯ John Banks is the author of two Civil War books and his popular Civil War blog (john-banks.blogspot.com). He lives in Nashville, Tenn.
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By Gary W. Gallagher
“ MARSE ROBERT” A photographer captured Robert E. Lee astride “Traveller” at Rock Springs Bath, Va., in 1866.
THE DESPERATE NO PART OF ROBERT E. LEE’S RECORD AS A CONFEDERATE GENERAL HAS OCCASIONED MORE CRITICISM THAN HIS DECISION TO LAUNCH PICKETT’S CHARGE
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By Gary W. Gallagher
FOLLOWING THE CARNAGE of Maj. Gen. George Pickett’s failed frontal assault against the Union center at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, General Robert E. Lee rode among survivors of Pickett’s Division as they returned to the sheltering slopes of Seminary Ridge. Luckily for future students of the battle, Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, the British observer and diarist temporarily attached to James Longstreet’s headquarters, was on the scene to record Lee “engaged in rallying and in encouraging the broken troops.” When Brig. Gen. Cadmus M. Wilcox approached the commanding general, “almost crying” in Fremantle’s judgment, “Lee immediately shook hands with him and said, cheerfully, ‘Never mind, General, all this has been MY fault—it is I that have lost this fight, and you must help me out of it in the best way you can.’” This example of Lee’s willingness to take responsibility for his own decisions—it was his fault—provides powerful evidence of his style of generalship’s gruesome cost. As friendly a witness as Edward Porter Alexander, who considered Lee a supremely gifted officer, judged his old chief ’s tactical offensive on the third day at Gettysburg harshly: “[C]ertainly in the place & dispositions for the assault on the 3rd day, I think, it will undoubtedly be held that he unnecessarily took the most desperate chances & the bloodiest road.” Confederate cavalry general Wade Hampton, while recovering from wounds incurred at Gettysburg, wrote that the Pennsylvania Campaign was a “complete failure” during which Lee resorted to unimag-
inative offensive tactics. “The position of the Yankees there,” the South Carolinian insisted, “was the strongest I ever saw & it was in vain to attack it.” Why did Lee select such a risky and potentially costly course? The prudent decision, as Porter Alexander pointed out, would have been to shift to the defensive following the Confederate tactical victory on July 1. But Lee overlooked the Federals’ superior ground, waived off objections from James Longstreet, and, frustrated by what he considered substandard performances from J.E.B. Stuart, Richard S. Ewell,
and A.P. Hill, decided to risk a great deal on the afternoon of July 3. In the end, a breathtaking confidence in his infantry likely proved the decisive factor in dictating Lee’s course on July 3. A memorable episode at Chancellorsville two months earlier helps explain Lee’s behavior at Gettysburg. Heavy fighting forced a Federal withdrawal on the morning of May 3, and Lee rode northward from Hazel Grove to the Plank Road, then turned east toward Chancellorsville crossroads. A mile’s ride carried him to a scene that no artist could improve. Confederate artillery south of the Plank Road sent deadly missiles into the ranks of retreating Federals. Smoke from woods set afire by musketry and shells drifted skyward. Just north of the Plank Road, in a clearing that had been the center of Hooker’s line, stood the Chancellor House, itself ablaze with flames licking at its sides. Lee guided Traveller through thousands of Confederate infantrymen, general and mount dominating a remarkable tableau of victory. Emotions flowed freely as the soldiers, nearly 9,000 of whose comrades had
CHRONICLE/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
FURY ON THE THIRD DAY Pennsylvania artist Peter Rothermel completed this depiction of Pickett’s Charge 1n 1870. This is a copy print of the original painting, which is still displayed in the State Museum of Pennsylvania.
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
NAMESAKE Though Maj. Gen. George Pickett was just one of three Rebel division commanders in the famous Gettysburg charge, his name is most closely linked to the attack.
SELECT SUCH A
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COSTLY COURSE ? fallen in the morning’s fighting, shouted their devotion to Lee, who acknowledged their cheers by removing his hat. Seldom has the bond between a successful commander and his troops achieved more dramatic display. Colonel Charles Marshall of Lee’s staff captured the moment: “The fierce soldiers with their faces blackened with the smoke of battle, the wounded crawling with feeble limbs from the fury of the devouring flames, all seemed possessed with a common impulse. One long, unbroken cheer, in which the feeble cry of those who lay helpless on the earth blended with the strong voices of those who still fought, rose high above the roar of battle, and hailed the presence of the victorious chief.” Lee basked in “the full realization of all that soldiers dream of—triumph.” Chancellorsville marked the apogee of Lee’s career as a general and cemented the reciprocal trust between him and his men that helped make the Army of Northern Virginia a formidable military instrument. That trust impressed many observers as the Confederates entered Pennsylvania in June. Ample testimony about soaring confidence in the Army of Northern Virginia lends credence to the idea that Lee believed his infantry could do anything he asked. Fremantle addressed morale in his diary. Over supper on the evening of July 1, Longstreet discussed the reasons attacks might fail; however, added Fremantle, in the ranks “the universal feeling in the army was one of profound contempt for an enemy whom they have beaten so constantly,
and under so many disadvantages.” The men’s attitude, together with Lee’s great faith in them, implied a degree of scorn for the Federals noted by Fremantle’s fellow foreign observer, Captain Justus Scheibert of the Prussian army: “Excessive disdain for the enemy…caused the simplest plan of a direct attack upon the position at Gettysburg to prevail and deprived the army of victory.” Two of Lee’s statements at the time suggest the centrality of his unbridled confidence in the army’s rank-and-file. He wrote his wife on July 26 that the army had “accomplished all that could reasonably be expected. It ought not to have been expected to perform impossibilities,” he admitted in a sentence that could be taken as self-criticism, “or to
have fulfilled the anticipations of the thoughtless and unreasonable.” Five days later, Lee wrote in the same vein to Jefferson Davis: “No blame can be attached to the army for its failure to accomplish what was projected by me....I am alone to blame, in perhaps expecting too much of its prowess & valour.” On July 3, Lee concluded that his infantry could overcome the recalcitrance of his lieutenants, difficulties of terrain, and everything else to achieve great results. Fourteen years after the battle, former division commander Henry Heth succinctly summed up what had happened in Pennsylvania: “The fact is, General Lee believed the Army of Northern Virginia, as it then existed, could accomplish anything.” ✯ FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
with Jeffry Wert
HI-TECH WARRIORS Cyrus McCormick, left, Abram Hewitt, center, and James Eads, right, all made innovations that helped lead to Union victory.
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
CWT: How did you come to this topic? JW: The United States has always relied on private business to supply the needs of the country during war. The scale of needs in the Civil War is truly unprecedented. What they really needed was private enterprise. It’s a mobilization not only of manpower but also of material and natural resources. CWT: You open the book with Jay Cooke. Why? JW: He’s the revolutionary who changes the way the United States finances wars. It’s certainly true in WWI and WWII. He is the one who links self-interest, or personal profit, to patriotism. And that’s how he sells war bonds during the war. CWT: What did he do? JW: He sold bonds, initially in Pennsylvania. When it came to a national issue of bonds and representing the government in the sales, he sent out at one point 2,500 sales reps. He made bonds with lower denominations where ordinary people could buy a bond, and in turn they had a stake in the fight.
TOP: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS (3); COURTESY OF JEFFRY WERT
MOSBY, CUSTER, AND LEE have been the focus of some of Jeffry Wert’s previous nine books, but in his latest volume he leaves the front lines to take a larger look at the conflict: men who created businesses that helped the Union to victory. Civil War Barons (Da Capo Press) profiles 19 businessmen and inventors, including Cyrus McCormick, who made his name selling a plow that so revolutionized grain harvesting that men could afford to leave their fields to join the Union Army. Several other figures created brands that last to this day: timberman Frederick Weyerhaeuser, inventor John Deere, canned-milk innovator Gail Borden, pharmaceutical giant Edward Squibb, and shoemaking pioneer Gordon McKay.
He put bonds down as low as $50. A group in Philadelphia would all buy weekly and put their wages into buying a bond, for example. That was unheard of. He made war bonds available to ordinary Americans and at the same time he tried to convince them that you will help save the Union and make a profit while doing it. CWT: One of an army’s basic needs is shoes. Talk about Gordon McKay. JW: Gordon McKay bought the rights to a machine invented by Lyman Blake that sewed shoe or boot uppers to their soles. When the war came, he sold the machines to shoemaking factories in New England. The estimate is that half of the shoes and boots worn by Union soldiers were sewn by the McKay stitcher. He took a royalty on each shoe or boot made. Before he died, he willed the vast amount of his estate to Harvard University and it sustains 40 scholarships and fellowships in their engineering department. CWT: Horseshoes were also critical. JW: Henry Burden, a Scottish immigrant, ends up in Troy, N.Y. In 1830, he invented a machine to cast or forge horseshoes. By the time the Civil War comes, he had gotten it down to a one-step process for casting the shoes. He ended up being able to produce a horseshoe a second—and sold 70 million horseshoes to the Union government. Astonishing numbers. An archaeologist told me that during the 1864 Shenandoah campaign, when the farriers would re-shoe Union cavalry horses, they would take those horseshoes and cut them in half and bury them in separate piles so the Confederates couldn’t find them. That’s how critical it was. CWT: Some of the Union success relied on industrial espionage. Tell us about Abram Hewitt. JW: Abram Hewitt went to Columbia on a scholarship and ended up tutoring Edward Cooper, the son of Peter Cooper, a wealthy inventor who formed the Trenton Ironworks in New Jersey.
HALF OF THE SHOES AND BOOTS WORN BY UNION
SOLDIERS WERE SEWN BY THE MCKAY STITCHER
When the war began, Edward Cooper and Abram Hewitt were running the ironworks to produce gunmetal for rifle barrels, but the Springfield Armory rejected them. The best gun barrel metal in the world was created in England and Germany, so he went to England to ask the leading manufacturers if they would give him their secret formula. They told him no. So he trolled the local pubs and found out from the workers what the formula was, came back, and produced with that formula, which was acceptable to the Springfield Armory. They also offered to turn one of his leading factories over to the government. Hewitt said that in times like this service means far more than profit. But the government rejected the offer, so what they did was charge enough to cover cost and make a little bit of profit. After the war, Hewitt becomes the mayor of New York City. CWT: A key contributor to Union success had Confederate sympathies. Tell us about Cyrus McCormick. JW: He and two brothers, William and Leland, were Virginians, but by the time the war comes, they had relocated from Rockbridge County, Virginia, to Chicago. But the McCormick brothers’ reaper was important to the Union victory. Even the secretary of
war acknowledged its role: the reaper, with its increased grain harvesting efficiency, allowed men to leave the farm and join the ranks of the army. If you read their letters and papers during the war, all three brothers wanted some kind of political solution that allowed a separate Confederate nation. The McCormicks end the war very rich, but they are clearly torn. CWT: Tell us about Edward Squibb. JW: He was a doctor in Philadelphia, a Quaker, who became a Navy surgeon. During the 1850s, he produced more pure forms of ether and chloroform. During the war, he continued to work on that. Investor friends gave Squibb money and he formed laboratories that became Squibb Pharmaceuticals. His work saved many men from the pain of surgery. He also produced what is known as the pannier, a medical box used by many surgeons during the war. Squibb was more concerned with saving lives than making money. CWT: Is there someone you would like to highlight? JW: James Buchanan Eads. Remarkable mind, a self-taught engineer, he made a fortune before the war by creating a device that allowed people to walk on the bottom of a river and salvage sunken ships. When the war comes, he designs gunboats that will be used in the Western waters, in the key campaigns of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. CWT: Which characters had the biggest impact on the course of the war? JW: Henry Burden did, in serving the critical need for the horseshoe. You can make a good case for Christopher Spencer—the quiet little Yankee, as Lincoln secretary John Hay calls him—and the repeating rifle he designed. He was just given a dollar a weapon as his share. Of course, Jay Cooke. And I believe the McCormick reaper was critical to Union victory. ✯ Interview conducted by Senior Editor Sarah Richardson FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
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BIG BANG THEORY Percussion locks, like this one on a Model 1861 Rifle-Musket, were the Civil War standard, and replaced cumbersome flintlocks. A percussion cap is placed on the cone.
NO FLASH IN THE PAN
MELISSA A. WINN
THE PERCUSSION CAP WAS AN EXPLOSIVE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCE ´ BALL INVENTED by French Captain Claude-Étienne Minié and THE MINIE refined by Harpers Ferry armorer James Burton is well known to Civil War students, and even Nashville golfers get a look at cartoonish replicas of their bullet (P. 16). But who knows anything about the inventors or the development of the percussion cap, arguably an even greater Civil War firearms technological advance? The little copper top hats impregnated with fulminate of mercury slipped over a hollow cone at the breech of a musket barrel, and when struck by the gun’s hammer, the resultant spark dropped through the cone and ignited the charge that launched lead assassins. Percussion cap gunlocks replaced flintlocks, which replaced gunlocks that used smoldering rope to set off the main charge, and for the first time infantrymen had a weapon that allowed for more rapid loading and that would work in all types of weather. Percussion caps were one of the reasons there were so few grand cavalry charges like the one at Third Winchester (P. 26). Troopers charging with drawn sabers were no match for bullet barrages fueled by percussion caps. The decimation of the 5th U.S. Cavalry at Gaines’ Mill in 1862, 55 casualties out of 237 attackers, exemplified the outcome of such efforts. If you want to learn a bit more about the percussion cap, for now one of the few places you can read about it is on Wikipedia. But my imagination has been sparked, and it’s time to do some research at the National Archives. –D.B.S. FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
UNION VICTORY AND INSPIRED
BY J O NATH A N A . N OYA LA S
ROLLING THUNDER In the 1880s, artist Thur de Thulstrup painted Sheridan’s Final Charge at Winchester, which depicted the five-brigade cavalry attack that helped decide the September 19, 1864, Battle of Third Winchester. The artwork was a fixture in Phil Sheridan’s postwar office.
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FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
“LITTLE PHIL” In this 1864 photo, Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan poses with Union cavalry commanders including Third Winchester participants Brig. Gen. Wesley Merritt, far left, and Brig. Gens. James Wilson and Alfred Torbert seated at right.
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
numerous skirmishes, and incessant occupations during that period, Fort Collier was never the scene of any major action. Troops camped in and around it at various points and Confederates from Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Ramseur’s Division sought its protection on July 20, 1864, after defeat at the Battle of Rutherford’s Farm, but it had up to that point avoided being the scene of any significant combat. By the war’s fourth summer it seemed that Griffith’s hope that Fort Collier would “never be used” might be realized. But the naïve wish of the young Valley resident ended on the afternoon of September 19, 1864, as the Stine Farm—and environs to its east and west—became part of one of the most dramatic scenes to ever unfold on any of the Shenandoah Valley’s battlefields when the largest cavalry charge of the war swept down the Martinsburg, or Valley, Pike and over the walls of Fort Collier. The charge not only changed the tenor of the Third Battle of Winchester and secured a major victory for the North, it also inspired great postwar works of art, as veteran troopers
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
s Harriett Griffith strolled around the Stine Farm on Winchester’s northern outskirts in the summer of 1861, the sight of an earthwork fortification under construction awed her. While troops labored on Fort Collier, named in honor of the Confederate lieutenant who supervised its construction, Griffith investigated every nook with her father and brother. “I have this day visited the breastworks or fortifications out on the Martinsburg Pike… Was exceedingly interested. First work of the kind I’d ever seen,” Griffith penned excitedly in her journal on August 21. She continued: “It seems real strong and well built….They have completely surrounded Stine’s House.” Near the end of her lengthy diary entry Griffith’s excitement about the visit transformed into a reflection about Fort Collier’s ultimate purpose. Confronted with the reality that this earthwork fortification could at some point be attacked, that men could be killed and the families of those slain left to deal with war’s tragic consequences, Griffith wrote wishfully: “Surely it is something to be remembered, but I hope it will never be used.” Throughout the conflict’s first three years it seemed that Griffith’s hope might be fulfilled. In a community that had already endured two battles,
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: JAMES H. KIDD PAPERS, BENTLEY HISTORICAL LIBRARY, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN; LIBRARY OF CONGRESS (3)
and infantrymen waged new battles over the memory of the engagement. On that bloody September day, while infantry from Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah battled against Lt. Gen. Jubal Early’s Confederates east of Winchester along the Berryville Pike, over the Dinkle Farm, Hackwood Farm, and the bloody Middle Field in the Third Battle of Winchester’s opening stages, two of Sheridan’s cavalry divisions—Brig. Gen. Wesley Merritt’s and Brig. Gen. William Averell’s—tried to secure various crossings on the Opequon Creek north of Winchester, Merritt in Frederick County and Averell in Berkeley. Throughout the morning, Federal cavalry confronted varying levels of resistance from Confederates under Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge’s command and elements of Maj. Gen. Lunsford Lomax’s cavalry division. That morning, as Confederates defended the Opequon crossings, Early ordered Breckinridge to pull his command closer to Winchester. When Breckinridge failed to appear by about noon, Early sent Lt. Col. Alexander “Sandie” Pendleton to find him and immediately pull Breckinridge’s troops closer to the city. When Pendleton found Breckinridge and relayed Early’s order, Breckinridge initially expressed his reluctance to obey. He believed that a complete withdrawal would only encourage the Union cavalry to be more aggressive. Although Pendleton may have sympathized with the Kentuckian, the order had to be obeyed immediately as Early needed Breckinridge to bolster the army’s weak right flank. Early desperately wanted Breckinridge’s regiments to move “toward the right, where our forces were weakest and the enemy was making demonstrations in force.” Time was of the essence not only to aid in supporting Early’s right flank, but to prevent Breckinridge from being cut off by Averell’s cavalry, which was thundering south toward Winchester along the Martinsburg Pike. While moving Breckinridge might, in Early’s estimation, have solved the dilemma on his right flank, “Old Jube” still understood the importance of checking Averell’s and Merritt’s divisions north of Winchester. Early turned to the chief of his cavalry corps, Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, and told him “to take charge of all the cavalry” north of Winchester and “check the enemy’s cavalry.” Now, on the ground where the Second Battle of Winchester ended in 1863 and where Ramseur met defeat at Rutherford’s Farm, Fitzhugh Lee, with support from Colonel George S. Patton’s brigade, had to do the unimaginable. As Lee formed his four cavalry brigades, about 2,000 troopers, north of Winchester “across the Martinsburg… Pike” and “concealed
THIRD WINCHESTER’S MEN OF THE SADDLE Clockwise, from top left: Tough Colonel James Kidd led the 6th Michigan Cavalry. Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee did what he could with his overmatched Confederate cavalrymen. West Pointer Brig. Gen. Wesley Merritt made the military his career and retired in 1900. Brigade commander Brig. Gen. George Custer was beloved by his men. “We swear by him. His name is our battle cry,” said Colonel Kidd. by an open pine forest,” Lee plainly understood that success was unlikely. Although the Confederate horsemen might have appeared somewhat protected in the pine forest, the trees were so widely separated that they offered virtually no impediment to an attacking force. One Union cavalry officer who spied Lee moving into position noted that, “the forests were so open as to offer little or no hindrance to a charging column.” Lee knew the ground invited a cavalry charge. “The pending disaster,” Lee explained, “was from the very open nature of the country clearly perceptible,” and he searched for a way to counter such an attack. That afternoon, as Lee observed Merritt’s and Averell’s cavalry brigades, he simultaneously felt awe and fear. With retreat not an option and staying put undesirable, Lee believed that his only alternative was to attack the Federal cavalry to shock the Union horsemen and cause disarray. FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
Some of the Federals he attacked, however, were not surprised. Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer, who commanded a brigade in Merritt’s division, believed Lee did precisely the right thing. “The enemy wisely chose not to receive our attack at a halt, but advanced from the wood and charged our line of skirmishers.” Lieutenant Colonel Caspar Crowninshield of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry recalled that as Lee’s regiments galloped toward Merritt’s and Averell’s skirmishers, “the whole line of the enemy’s cavalry was just in front of us… Soon the Rebel Cavalry charged and drove back our skirmishers on the right and left of the road [Martinsburg Pike].” Custer admitted “our skirmishers were forced back…a short but closely contested struggle ensued.” It mattered nil, however, as the Union cavalry regrouped, repulsed Lee’s advance and ultimately compelled him to pull his command closer to Winchester. As Lee’s regiments withdrew south toward Winchester, Early’s entire force contracted to Winchester’s eastern and northern edges. Confederate artillerist Milton Humphreys wrote of Early’s final defensive position, which assumed the shape of an inverted L: “Our army was now two sides of a rectangle of artillery, with the main body of infantry scattered over the space within the angle… there was nothing but cavalry and very little artillery placed across the Martinsburg road to protect our left.” With Early’s army hugging that thin line near Winchester’s boundaries Sheridan saw an opportunity to use his cavalry in a grand, traditional charge, something that had never occurred before in the conflict. “The ground… was open, and offered an opportunity such as seldom had been presented during the war for a mounted attack,” Sheridan observed. Although Sheridan believed the flat, open terrain north of Winchester and the broken condition of Early’s army invited a massive cavalry assault, Averell did not concur. Averell’s men had been in the saddle for already 15 hours that day, fighting and chasing Confederates from Berkeley County, W.Va., south to Winchester. Through one of his aides Averell explained to Sheridan that his division “had been chasing the rebels in from Martinsburg and Bunker Hill… [our] horses couldn’t move faster than a walk.” Sheridan cared little for that complaint, however, and ordered the attack. “Tell… [Averell] to charge,” Sheridan snapped, “I don’t care…for horse flesh today.” Additionally, Averell believed that Maj. Gen. George Crook’s corps had already secured victory with its attack, therefore making the cavalry assault needless. “It became at once visible,” Averell wrote, “to both armies that we had gained the day.” Averell, who wrote his report of Winchester after Sheridan removed him from command following the Union victory
at Fisher’s Hill several days later, harbored significant animosity against “Little Phil” and used the report to try and diminish Sheridan’s reputation, which rose significantly in Winchester’s wake. An irate Averell believed that “the broken ground, intersected by deep ditches and high embankments… gave the enemy a chance to save his left flank. Opposed by stubborn infantry and well-handled artillery our cavalry on such ground could make but slow progress.” If Wesley Merritt harbored similar concerns he didn’t share them with Sheridan. At about 3 p.m., as Merritt peered across the open ground to his front and gazed at the Confederate line facing north, he too believed the setting perfect for a massed cavalry charge. “At this time (3 p.m.) the field was open for cavalry operations such as the war has not seen,” Merritt wrote, “such as all good cavalry officers long to engage in.”
SLASH DEFICIT Tactical and firearm changes often forced Civil War troopers to keep their sharp blades, like this Model 1860 cavalry saber, in their scabbards. The saber-driven Union attack at Third Winchester that overran Fort Collier and its supporting earthworks, depicted above by artist James Taylor, was a rarity.
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TOP: THE WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY, CLEVELAND, OHIO; BOTTOM: HERITAGE AUCTIONS, DALLAS
As Averell’s and Merritt’s cavalrymen readied themselves for this hammer blow, some troopers reflected on the joy they felt that for the first time in the conflict, cavalry was being used for its proper purpose. Colonel James H. Kidd was ecstatic that he would be involved in “the first… proper use of this arm…in a great battle.” Other troopers, too, were impressed with the advance’s martial air. The scene of regimental bands playing, flags flapping in the breeze, and sabers glistening in the late afternoon sun inspired Custer. Gazing at the line of troopers Kidd estimated extended “more than half a mile from Averell’s right to Merritt’s left” Custer wrote, “This… furnished one of the most inspiring as well as imposing scenes of martial grandeur ever witnessed on a battlefield. No encouragement was needed to inspirit either man or horse.” As the cavalry advanced one could not clearly discern where one regiment or brigade ended and another began. In Custer’s estimation the men were “so closely connected that a separate account of the operations of a single brigade or regiment is almost impossible.” Although moving as one mass, each brigade had a particular point of the Confederate line facing north to assault. While Averell’s two brigades aimed at
Confederate positions west of the Martinsburg Pike, Merritt’s brigades focused on points in the Confederate line on or to the east of that important transportation route. For three years Fort Collier had stood silently on the eastern edge of the Martinsburg Pike. Now on the afternoon of September 19, 1864, Fitzhugh Lee’s command, elements of Breckinridge’s infantry, and Captain George Chapman’s artillery sought its protection as Union cavalry descended “like a besom of destruction” from the north. As troopers from Colonel Charles Russell Lowell’s brigade advanced toward Fort Collier the fire from Chapman’s artillery initially stymied them. “A withering fire staggered the head of his column,” Merritt remembered. Soon, however, the 3rd U.S. Artillery unleashed a furious barrage—one that wounded both Lee and Chapman (Chapman’s wound proved mortal). Now, Lowell’s brigade, as Merritt explained, “dashed down, broke through the enemy’s lines, and swept it away in confusion…it was a noble work well done.” Once the Confederate line began to crack under the weight of the assault some Confederates fled as fast as possible from the field, while others determined to stay and fight regardless of how desperate the situation. Merritt observed: “Many of them threw down their arms and cried for mercy; others hung tenaciously to their muskets, using them with their muzzles against our soldiers’ breasts.” Merritt even observed some Confederates taking “refuge in a house” and shooting “through the doors and windows.” Whether or not this was Stine’s home located in Fort Collier’s interior is unknown. Two days after the battle a correspondent for the New York Daily Herald recognized that the cavalry assault proved the battle’s significant moment. “Above the roar of artillery, musketry and cheers, and the fierce yells of the
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While Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan’s infantry attacked the right flank of Lt. Gen. Jubal Early’s army, 8,000 Union troopers thundered down the Martinsburg Pike and overwhelmed the Confederates holding Fort Collier and the Star Fort.
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contending armies,” the Herald observed, “could be distinctly heard the shrill notes of the cavalry bugle, sounding the charge which was the death knell of Early’s army.” Put simply, the Herald unequivocally concluded that the cavalry assault “secured us the victory.” But not all the Federal veterans of Winchester agreed. William Haroff, a private in the 126th Ohio Infantry, part of Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright’s Sixth Corps, may have thought the three infantry corps that fought with Sheridan were overlooked when he penned a postwar poem simply titled, The Battle of Winchester, September 19th, 1864, which ignored the cavalry’s critical role. The poem, published weeks after the battle, heaped all credit for Sheridan’s victory on Crook’s, Wright’s, and William Emory’s corps. “We charged the Rebs’ position and nobly won the day/Crook’s boys, with Wright’s and Emory’s, were also in the fray.” Fifty-one years after the battle Thomas H. M’Cann a veteran of the 90th New York, part of Emory’s Nineteenth corps, simply excluded the cavalry’s important role in a chapter he penned about Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Campaign in his The Campaigns of the Civil War. In describing the final advance at Winchester, M’Cann wrote that “at 4 p.m. the final attack was made… the 6th and 19th Corps rushed… and in a short time Early saw his whole left wing giving away in disorder—thus the battle was won for the Blues.” Not all infantry veterans sought to minimize the cavalry’s role during the battle. The 8th Vermont Infantry’s George Carpenter was among those who was amazed at the scene of five brigades of Union cavalry charging. “In solid columns,” Carpenter penned in the regimental history published in 1886, “with drawn sabers flashing in the sun… [the] troopers… burst at a gallop upon the surprised enemy. It was like a thunder-clap out of a clear sky, and the bolt struck home.” Merritt’s and Averell’s veterans seemed to monitor much of what was published about the fight. Whenever an infantry veteran failed to properly credit the cavalry, the former horse soldiers possessed no qualms about using articles in The National Tribune, like “A Blast From a Cavalryman’s Bugle,” to note that excluding cavalry from any discussion of the Third Battle of Winchester, or any of Sheridan’s victories in the Valley for that matter, was “like giving the play of Hamlet, with the character of Hamlet left out.” Although some of Sheridan’s veterans might have downplayed or ignored the significant role cavalry played in the battle, Mer-
CONSPICUOUS PRIDE By 1864, the Federal cavalry in the Eastern Theater was more than confident in its abilities. This badge, developed that year, was worn by many of the men of Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps. Some variants of the badge were simple, while others, like this one, were elaborate and cost more.
ritt’s and Averell’s troopers had little to fear as their late afternoon assault emerged as one the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign’s two most iconic moments—Sheridan’s ride at Cedar Creek being the other. Children’s textbooks and popular histories of the conflict penned in the half-century after the war used the cavalry attack at Winchester as an exemplar of courage and patriotism. Authors such as Charles Carleton Coffin, a correspondent whose wartime musings offer great insight into the Army of the Potomac’s campaigns, wrote of the charge in his Freedom Triumphant published in 1890, “thousands of horsemen were now riding across the fields….The sun, descending the western sky, glints from the gleaming sabres of the cavalrymen. The earth trembles beneath the hoofs of the horses… the Union cavalry was in good condition.” Five years earlier, poet Henry Horton mused in his “Sheridan’s Battles in the Shenandoah” that the “Cavalry… with movements deft/And swift and strong, smote Early’s dazed men so/That they recoiled dismayed beneath the blow.” The cavalry assault’s romanticism proved too strong to resist for the chromolithograph publishing firm of Louis Prang & Co. In the mid-1880s Prang published a series of 18 images depicting battles scenes. Six portrayed naval actions, six illustrated battles in the Western Theater, and the remainder provided snapshots of significant moments in the east. Among the six scenes chosen to represent the war in the east was “Sheridan’s Final Charge at Winchester” painted by Swedish-born Thur de Thulstrup. Captain Theodore F. Rodenbough, wounded in the assault and depicted in the painting astride a brown horse next to Lowell mounted on a white steed, believed it an excellent depiction. “I heartily congratulate you upon the fidelity with which you have reproduced the scene as I remember it,” Rodenbough wrote in a letter to Thulstrup after the painting’s release in 1886. He continued in admiration, “you have attained an exceptional degree of realism in the composition of your picture.” Even Sheridan, who cared little for Thulstrup’s depiction of his famed Cedar Creek ride released the same year, admired the depiction of the cavalry assault. Amid all of the items proudly displayed in Sheridan’s office in the War Department was Thulstrup’s portrayal of the charge. A journalist FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
A QUIET MAN T om Laws, a black man living near Winchester, is both a familiar and unknown part of the Third Battle of Winchester story. It’s common knowledge that Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan used Laws, who had a pass from the Confederates to enter Winchester and sell vegetables, to carry messages in and out of town to Rebecca Wright, a Quaker schoolteacher who provided Sheridan with important information about Lt. Gen. Jubal Early’s army. Much is known about Wright, but until recently, little was known about Laws. Thanks to painstaking research in primary records done at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Park, a patchwork of information has emerged to help us better understand the Tom Laws puzzle. Laws himself provided clues to his background in a letter dated September 26, 1894, to illustrator James E. Taylor of Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper fame, who drew the sketch at right. In that letter, Laws identified his prewar owner as Richard E. Byrd, and Phillip Burwell as the owner of his wife, Mary:
THE UNITED STATES, BUT WE STILL
DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HIM
Mr. Taylor, Dear Sir: …I was borned and raised in Clarke County, Virginia, and was owned by Richard Bird [Byrd]. My age is between 75 and 80 years, I married a woman belonging to Old Mr. Philip Burrill [Burwell]. She and I were sitting on the steps one Sunday evening. Two unknown men came through the yard and struck up a conversation with me about Winchester. I told them I could go to Winchester any time I chooses as my master lived there, that was, in Berryville, Sunday night, Sept. 11, and on Monday night these same two came back to my house and said to me, “The general wants to see you tonight.”
TOM LAWS RISKED HIS LIFE FOR
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BY WILLIAM H . AU S TIN
I got ready and started right off with them to the headquarters. They carried me to the general. When I got there, the general and I took our seat on an old log that was laying by the camp, and he asked me could I go to Winchester tomorrow, and I told him I could go there anytime the Rebels were there for my master lived there, and then the general asked me, did I know Miss Rebecca Wright. I told him I did not but I had a great many acquaintances in Winchester, I could find out. So I went to a lady, which was raised in the yard with my wife which I married, Matilda Robinson, telling her my errand. She quickly pointed me [to] the house. I went to the front door and knocked and Mrs. Wright came to the door and I asked, “Could I see Miss Rebecca Wright” and she called her to the door. I asked Miss Rebecca, “Could I see her privately.” She went into the school room in which she was teachin. I asked her, “Was she a Union lady,” she said she was. I asked her then, “did she know the general?” She said she did not and when she said she did not, I thought I was between Heaven and Earth. I ventured anyhow and gave her the letter which was sent to her and in the afternoon I called and got her reply and gave it to the scouts that night.
Archival records indicate Thomas Laws was born a slave in Virginia on January 7, 1817, and was the prop-
INFORMAL INTEL Sheridan meets with Tom Laws to discuss the mission to deliver messages to Rebecca Wright. erty of Captain Thomas T. Byrd. Captain Byrd died in 1821, and his estate passed to his wife Mary. After Mary Byrd died, her March 6, 1824, will mentions that her slave, Nancy, had a son named “Thomas.” Slave Nancy and her three children also appear on Mary’s January 2, 1826 estate inventory. Typically, slaves remained estate property until the estate formally closed—even those bequeathed freedom or distribution to a heir. The Byrds’ son, Richard E. Byrd, mentioned in Laws’ 1894 letter, handled the estate, and an 1835 account lists fees paid for the hiring out of slaves, including Laws, who brought in $5 for his services. He would have been about 12. Oddly, by 1840 Laws was listed on Clarke County’s tax lists as a free black, but he never appeared on any subsequent prewar personal property tax rolls. If he had been briefly freed, no deed or certificate of emancipation was found, meaning he likely returned to slave status in the Byrd family. Thomas T. Byrd Jr. was a brother of Richard E. Byrd, and Clarke County personal property tax records show one slave over age 16 on Thomas Jr.’s property in 1842 and again in 1850. It is possible that slave could have been Laws at about ages 25 and 33 respectively. County tax rolls from 1854 through 1856 also show that Richard E. Byrd owned one slave. Perhaps Laws? Slave marriage records for Tom and Mary Laws don’t exist, but their first-born son, Charles, arrived about 1850 or 1851. Exactly where Tom and
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Mary Laws lived is uncertain, but they were likely quartered separately on the Byrd and Burwell estates. The 1860 Frederick County Slave Census states Byrd owned 26 slaves, including one 44-year-old male, no doubt Tom Law. The picture clears up a bit after the war. In 1867, Clarke County personal property tax records list Tom Laws’ residence at Chapel Hill, the Burwell estate. He appears on the 1868 Clarke County personal property tax rolls at a Mrs. Kownslar’s farm and again in 1869 as “Laws & Son, Thomas.” By 1869, Tom Laws was an African Methodist Episcopal Church trustee and the 1870 U.S. Census enumerates Laws, age 53, living in Clarke County, Battletown Township, with Mary and five children. On September 19, 1870, Tom Laws purchased Lot #5 offered at public auction by Clermont Farm owner Ellen S. McCormick. He must have found it difficult to make loan payments, for on November 8, 1879, Laws was named defendant in a lawsuit brought by McCormick for money due on his lot. The lot was sold on January 30, 1882 by Sheriff Crow to Trustees of Battletown School District “for the purposes of building a public schoolhouse thereon.” By the summer of 1880, Tom, Mary, and their family were still living on or near the Kownslar farm. The 1880 Census describes them as: “Thomas Laws, Mulatto, age 63, Farmer, wife Mary 56, Charles 29, Thomas Jr. 26, Martha A. 23, Nancy 19, Mary J. 11.” We do know where he rests. Mary Laws died on July 11, 1885, at the approximate age of 61 and Tom Laws died at the age of 79 on April 16, 1896. They are buried under a cedar tree in Milton Valley Cemetery, Berryville. Thomas Laws’ patchwork history illustrates the challenges of researching slaves in the antebellum era, but the story he told in the 1894 letter to Taylor meshes well with the bits-and-pieces of his personal historical record. Tom Laws likely put himself at risk in 1864 in the hope of gaining a better life for himself and his family. Rebecca Wright once wrote of her partner in subterfuge, “I found him a quiet, dignified, sensible colored man.”
who visited Sheridan in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 1888 noted the painting seemed to hold prominence among all of the “large cases filled with curious pottery, Indian blankets, bows, arrows, clubs and other things” as Sheridan displayed Thulstrup’s work on “a small easel just beyond… [his] desk.” Twenty-four years later, Thulstrup completed another depiction of the cavalry assault for the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, Pa. The painting, which a correspondent for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette described as “a decorative canvas of unusual power and beauty,” focused on “Col. James N. Schoonmaker leading a cavalry charge against ‘Star’ Fort.” The cavalry charge also took center stage in a 1913 film adaptation of Bronson Howard’s play The Greater Shenandoah, which first hit the stage three years after Thulstrup’s initial painting. Advertisements for the film, which ran about 30 minutes, touted as one of its main features “the awe-inspiring Battle of Winchester with charging cavalry.” While at times Merritt’s and Lowell’s veterans might have felt their efforts at Winchester slighted, authors, artists, and playwrights solidified it as one of the conflict’s most iconic moments. In the end then Wesley Merritt’s official report of the battle proved not only informative, but prophetic when he wrote that the assault was indeed “a theme for the poet” and a “scene for the painter.”
Jonathan A. Noyalas is director of Shenandoah University’s McCormick Civil War Institute. Prof. Noyalas, author or editor of 11 books, is also editor of Journal of the Shenandoah Valley During the Civil War Era.
NO HORSEPLAY Ohio veteran William Haroff’s poem to the Union victory at Third Winchester did not mention the role of Sheridan’s cavalry in the battle.
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SIGHT You may not know his name, but
Moses Ezekiel’s bronze and stone sculptures are everywhere
BY SUE EISENFELD
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
espite being widely unknown among modern Americans, Civil War buffs, and even artists, Moses Ezekiel lived a life of firsts and participated in notable historical events. He was the first Jewish cadet enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), in 1862. As corporal of the guard, he took charge of the casket of former VMI instructor and Confederate icon Stonewall Jackson as the general’s body lay in his old classroom on May 14, 1863, the night before his burial. A year later, in May 1864, Ezekiel became the only Jewish cadet, out of 256 other teenagers, to fight in the Battle of New Market. Recalling that fight after many decades, he said it “seems to always bring tears to my eyes, none of us are sorry for what we did and under the same circumstances would repeat it.” And he was the one who read from the New Testament to fellow cadet, roommate, and friend Thomas Garland Jefferson—a great-nephew of Thomas Jefferson—as the young Jefferson lay dying after the battle. Robert E. Lee and his wife befriended Ezekiel after the war, and during a horseback ride together, the general said to Ezekiel, “I hope you will be an artist as it seems to me you are cut out for one.” Ezekiel did go on to become the only well-known American sculptor who had seen combat in the Civil War and the first renowned Jewish-American sculptor. He created numerous statues and monuments of religious, Southern, and Confederate themes throughout his life, including the Confederate monument “New South,” at Arlington National Cemetery; one of the first Confederate monuments on Northern soil, in Ohio; and the prominent statues at VMI of Stonewall Jackson and “Virginia Mourning Her Dead,” memorializing the 10 cadets who fell at New Market. The latter is still one of the most visited statues at VMI.
STILL STANDING Moses Ezekiel’s colossal 32-feet-high “New South” depicts Confederate soldiers and enslaved people. It remains in Arlington National Cemetery despite the Ezekiel family’s recent calls for its removal.
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DESPITE THESE DISTINCTIONS, Ezekiel’s renown faded
after his death. In life, he achieved international fame and became friends with presidents, kings, and celebrities; his studio was the center of artistic and social activities in Rome, and he was knighted three times for his artwork—he received the Cavalier’s Cross of Merit for Art and Science from George, Grand Duke of Saxe-Meiningen in 1887; the Cavalier’s Golden Cross of the House of Hohenzollern from William II, Emperor of Germany in 1893; and the honorary title of Cavalier Ufficiale della corona d’Italia from King Victor Emmanuel III in 1906. ¶ But in death, the art world ignored and forgot him because he never innovated; he emulated the classical style of the previous masters, focusing on the full human figure and historical and allegorical subjects, even when the time for that style had come and gone. ¶ By his obscurity, he also achieved the recent distinction of being the only Virginian, Confederate, or Jewish sculptor whose work—a statue of young Thomas Jefferson outside the University of Virginia Rotunda—served as the focal point for a hostile protest against the pending removal of a Lee statue, in Charlottesville in 2017. Pro-Confederacy protesters shouted hate speech about Jews while ironically circling around the statue made by Ezekiel—a man unequivocal about his Jewish heritage and a die-hard Southerner and supporter of the Confederate cause, who had hung the Confederate battle flag in his art studio in Rome for 40 years. ¶ In his anonymity, Ezekiel has shattered all stereotypes and assumptions. And despite his seeming invisibility, once you start looking for Ezekiel in bronze and stone, he is everywhere. ¶ These are key moments in his life and art:
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VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE ARCHIVES, 0002939
Moses Ezekiel as a VMI cadet.
RICHMOND, VA. Born in Richmond in 1844, Ezekiel lived in the back of his grandparents’ dry-goods shop on Old Market Street, on the west side of 17th Street between Main and Franklin, near the site of what is now the Richmond Farmer’s Market. “I loved my native city as a child loves its mother,” he once wrote of Richmond. The store “was filled with ready-made dresses of all sizes to fit any Negro woman or girl…Every Negro who was brought to Richmond from the South to be sold at auction was, on the morning of the sale, brought to our house to be dressed,” he wrote in his memoirs. Though he would come to fight for the South, Ezekiel says he didn’t believe in slavery—“In reality no one in the South would have raised an arm to fight for slavery. It was an evil that we had inherited and that we wanted to get rid of,” he said. “Our struggle…was simply a constitutional one based upon…state’s rights and especially on free trade and no tariff.”
VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE ARCHIVES, 0000766
LEXINGTON, VA. When the news broke of the bombardment of Fort Sumter and the secession of South Carolina, “bonfires were built on almost every corner of the town. Around them we little boys howled and jumped for joy,” he recalled. He says he became so enthusiastic that “I begged and entreated my grandparents to let me go to the Virginia Military Institute as a cadet”—hoping it would be a “means of my getting into the war.” He enrolled at VMI in September 1862 at age 18. Later in life, during his art studies at the Berlin Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1869, he crafted “Virginia Mourning Her Dead,” in plaster, a female figure representing Virginia, sitting on the remains of a fortress. Thirty-one years later, in 1900, VMI asked him to create it in metal. “It was…one of the most sacred duties of my life to remodel my bronze statue…to be placed on the parade grounds of the V.M.I. [in 1903], overlooking the graves of my dead comrades so that their memory may go on in imperishable bronze, sounding their heroism and Virginia’s memory down through all ages and forever.” NEW MARKET, VA. Ezekiel had been at VMI a little more than a year when early on the morning of May 10, 1864, the cadets were awakened by the beating of a long roll. “I think we all knew, when we heard those drums, what was coming,” he said. The Corps of Cadets was being sent down the Valley of Virginia to help General John Breckinridge “drive back the invaders…. A loud hurrah showed the willingness with which these boys between fifteen and eighteen years of age would leave their alma mater and go
towards the battlefields.” They marched for four days from Lexington to New Market. In his memoirs, he remembered back to May 15, the day of the Battle in New Market: “It was raining, and…we marched through fields of mud, in which I lost my shoes….Our battalion was beautifully in line when we crossed an open field. Halfway across this field, the Minié balls began to whistle around our ears, and the artillery shells came howling toward us.” They noticed a curve in their line and straightened out, then “we advanced in as perfect order as if on dress parade,” charging the enemy’s battery, “which had been firing its hellfire upon us,” and engaged in close-quarter fighting with pistols and bayonets before eventually hoisting the VMI flag on top of a captured Union cannon in victory. According to VMI, “Never before, nor since, has an entire student body been called from its classrooms into pitched battle.”
‘VIRGINIA MOURNING HER DEAD’
Ezekiel felt a particular connection to this bronze sculpture that honored his VMI cadet comrades killed at the May 1864 Battle of New Market.
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CINCINNATI, OHIO In 1867, ‘RELIGIOUS Ezekiel moved in with his parents LIBERTY’ who had relocated to Cincinnati, where he began studying sculpture, Faith was always and in 1869, he left for Europe to important to study in Berlin. Among many sculpEzekiel. This granite tures that ended up in Ohio, Ezekiel artwork is located created “Southern” in 1910, a soldier at Philadelphia’s standing guard. Commissioned by the National Museum Robert Patton Chapter of the United of American Daughters of the Confederacy, it was Jewish History. erected at the former Union prisoner of war camp on Johnson’s Island, on Lake Erie. President Taft would tell Ezekiel he had heard that “veteran soldiers from the Northern army and the Southern army were fraternizing together there and had been photographed arm in arm with each other. ‘You have contributed a great deal towards the peaceful solution of our affairs.’”
CHARLESTON, W. VA. Ezekiel created more than 200 works of art, but a statue commissioned by the Charleston chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was perhaps the most exciting at this point in his life. It was placed in front of the state capitol in Jackson’s home town in 1910, and Ezekiel said the figure of Stonewall Jackson (a replica of which he later made for VMI) was, “in reality after 40 years the ...[first] commission I ever received from the South.” Having been plagued with poverty and depression for many years, getting this commission “was a rift in the clouds that had been gathering around me.” The governor of Virginia allowed Ezekiel’s beloved VMI Corps of Cadets to come to Charleston for the unveiling. ‘SOUTHERN’
On Johnson’s Island, Ohio, Ezekiel’s bronze statue, Southern, forever gazes toward its distant namesake. 42
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. The 1910 bronze Thomas Jefferson statue at UVA is a smaller replica of one originally commissioned by a Louisville businessman and placed in front of the Jefferson County, Ky., courthouse in 1901. Jefferson is 33 years
TOP: COURTESY SUE EISENFELD; BOTTOM: JEFF WARNECK/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO; OPPOSITE PAGE: FROM LEFT: © TODD TAULMAN | DREAMSTIME.COM; MARK SUMMERFIELD/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
PHILADELPHIA, PA. In 1873, Ezekiel became the first non-German and first American to win the Berlin Royal Academy of Fine Arts’ prestigious Michel Beer Prix de Rome, allowing him to study art in Rome, where he spent the rest of his life. But he deferred his award for a year because he had just received his first commission (and the first commission from an American Jewish organization to an American Jewish sculptor) from the Independent Order of B’nai Brith: a marble group sculpture called “Religious Liberty,” the first commissioned sculpture to this cause. A woman wears a 13-star crown, representing the original colonies, and clutches the U.S. Constitution, and an eagle grasping a serpent represents democracy vanquishing tyranny. It was intended for the American Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 and now sits on the grounds of the National Museum of American Jewish History within steps of the Liberty Bell.
The statue of the Confederate general stands in front of West Virginia’s capitol in Charleston. Jackson was born in Clarksburg in 1824.
old, presenting the Declaration of Independence to the First Congress, standing atop the Liberty Bell, which is draped with figures representing “Liberty, Equality, Justice, and the Brotherhood of Man.” Continuing a theme throughout his and his family’s life, Ezekiel has the figure of Equality holding a tablet that says “Religious Freedom” with the names of various deities beneath—“God, Jehovah, Brahma, Atma, Ra, Allah, Zeus.”
ARLINGTON, VA. “Religion is a term one might apply without too much exaggeration to Ezekiel’s feeling for his native Virginia. He all but worshipped the state and had an unflagging devotion to memories of the Confederacy,” according to a biographer. The year 1912 brought perhaps the most enthralling commission to Ezekiel: a request from the United Daughters of the Confederacy to make a statue in his own state, memorializing fallen Confederates: The Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery, called “New South,” intended to “permanently mark the union between North and South.”
“It is my greatest pleasure to feel ‘THOMAS that in the declining years of my JEFFERSON’ life—I have had the honour to place The elaborate statue some of my work in my own state.” In fact, he said, “I had been waiting of Thomas Jefferson for forty years to have my love for the stands before one South recognized.” of his lasting creAlthough he spent his life angling ations, the Rotunda for commissions and entering at least on the University of four contests to make a public sculpVirginia campus. ture of Robert E. Lee, which never came to fruition—“It was the one work I would love to do about anything else in the world,” Ezekiel said—his “New South” monument was erected in 1914 on the grounds of Lee’s former home, Arlington House, which had been seized by the Union. Surrounded by 482 Confederate graves in Jackson Circle, the bronze group statue features a heroic figure of a woman representing the South, holding a laurel wreath, with an elaborate frieze depicting various types of people going off to war, such as a blacksmith saying goodbye to his wife, and a variety of symbols commemorating the war. As reported in The Washington Post in May 1914, “It means, primarily, peace.” President Woodrow Wilson, who presided over a cereFEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
pride,” according to a friend. His was the first burial ceremony ever held in the amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery, built in 1920. His gravestone reflects the one thing of which he was most proud: “Moses J. Ezekiel, Sergeant of Company C, Battalion of Cadets of the Virginia Military Institute.” Ezekiel’s love for the South, for Virginia, for his fellow VMI cadets, and for the Confederacy never wavered throughout his life. His focus on the past, on history: dissecting it, reliving it, studying it, glorifying it, learning from it—his life’s guiding principles—are reminiscent of the credo of many Civil War buffs and scholars: interested in times gone by, eras past, the way things were, full of melancholy or appreciation for life and times that are no longer. Like Ezekiel, those of us who spend our days looking backward feel richer for it, but we have decidedly not heeded Lee’s post-Appomattox philosophy and recommendation to Ezekiel as a young man starting out in 1866: “I have buried the past with my sword, and I never expect to refer to it again.” mony to unveil the monument, said it was an “emblem of a reunited people,” and told the crowd that “this chapter in the history of the United States is now closed.” Upon his death in Rome in 1917 and his body’s return to America after World War I, Ezekiel was buried in 1921 beneath his Confederate monument—“the work he loved the most and which he labored at with the greatest satisfaction. [He wanted to lie] among the comrades of his youth, of the heroic period of his life which he always referred to with such 44
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Sue Eisenfeld is the author of Shenandoah: A Story of Conservation and Betrayal and a contributing author in The New York Times’ Disunion: A History of the Civil War. Her articles have appeared in major papers and she teaches nonfiction for the Johns Hopkins M.A. in Writing and Science Writing programs.
FROM TOP: VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE ARCHIVES, 0003586_006; VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE ARCHIVES, 0003586; OPPOSITE: ANDREA HILL/iSTOCKPHOTO
CONFEDERATE EXPATRIATE Despite his love for Virginia and the South, Ezekiel, below left, moved to Berlin in 1869, and then to Rome, where he spent most of his adult life and died at age 72. This image depicts the Rome studio in which he completed many of his major works.
MO SE S E Z E KI E L
ROADTRIP SEE MAJOR WORKS BY THE ARTIST! WI
KY CHICAGO, ILL. In Arrigo Park: A large bronze statue of Christopher Columbus. OHIO At Johnson’s Island Confederate Cemetery: Southern. Statues at the Cincinnati Art Museum, including Eve Hearing the Voice, and the Hebrew Union College Skirball Museum Cincinnati, including Israel, his Prix de Rome winner. In the collections of the University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Law Library, as well as the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. KENTUCKY In front of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Louisville: the original Thomas Jefferson from which the UVA statue originates, from 1901. At the Crescent Hill branch of the Louisville public library: A bust of Abraham Lincoln. At the Hickman city cemetery: The Confederate Memorial Gateway, a rare architectural piece by Ezekiel.
ITHACA, N.Y. In Sage Chapel at Cornell University: A recumbent marble statue of Mrs. Andrew Dickson White, wife of one of
the university’s founders; and a recumbent marble statue of Jennie McGraw Fiske, an early benefactor to the university. In the Goldwin Smith Building, a bust of Goldwin Smith, an early history professor at Cornell.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. In front of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia: Thomas Jefferson. In front of Cabell Hall: Blind Homer With His Student Guide.
PHILADELPHIA, PA. Outside of the
of Virginia Military Institute, his alma mater: Virginia Mourning Her Dead from 1903 and Stonewall Jackson. In the VMI Museum: A variety of smaller statues, busts, and paintings.
National Museum of American Jewish History: Religious Liberty. At Drexel University: A bronze statue of founder Anthony J. Drexel on the plaza, and a Drexel bust in the university’s main building. In Fairmont Park: A bust of governor Andrew G. Curtain as part of the Smith Memorial Arch, a Civil War monument.
BALTIMORE, MD. At Gordon Plaza at the University of Baltimore: Ezekiel’s last piece of work, a sculpture of Edgar Allen Poe, “our greatest poet,” claimed Ezekiel.
WASHINGTON, D.C. At the U.S. Capitol: A small marble bust of Thomas Jefferson created in 1886 by a commission from the U.S. Senate.
LEXINGTON, VA. On the parade grounds
LYNCHBURG, VA. Near the intersection of Park Avenue and 9th Street: A 1915 statue of Senator John Warwick Daniel, a former Confederate staff officer and “our Southern hero and great orator,” according to Ezekiel.
NORFOLK, VA. At the Norfolk Botanical Gardens: 11 figures of sculptors and painters from when William Corcoran, the banker, philanthropist, and art collector commissioned a series of them for the Corcoran Gallery of Art (now the Renwick Gallery), including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt.
The war n their words
CONTEST FOR THE “FATHER OF WATERS” This wartime painting depicts Union Admiral David Farragut’s ships attacking forts protecting New Orleans in 1862. The 9th Connecticut, led by Colonel Thomas Cahill, was sent to the Deep South to help initial Union land-based efforts to capture the Mississippi River and divide the Confederacy.
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family struggled with its
Commitment to the
cause BY SUSANNAH J. URAL
CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM/BRIDGEMAN IMAGES
n the eve of the Civil War, Thomas Cahill was well-established in New Haven, Conn., a bustling industrial city of 39,000 residents. Cahill was born in Boston in 1828, the son of Irish parents who came to the United States in the early 19th century. The family relocated to New Haven in the 1830s, and Cahill grew up there and did well. He made his living as a mason and owned his own construction business, which provided a comfortable middle-class life for his wife, Margaret, and their two children, Mary and Eddie, who were ages 2 and 1, respectively, in 1861. They had weathered the anti-immigrant fervor that rose with the Know Nothing political party in the mid-1850s, and in the years before the war he was awarded substantial contracts from New Haven’s town government. ¶ Cahill was the captain of a largely Irish-American militia unit, Company E (the Washington-Erina Guards) of the 2nd Regiment Connecticut State Militia. Nativism affected his participation in the martial organization in 1855 when the state passed an act disbanding all militia units composed primarily of foreign-born men. Local papers affiliated with the Democratic Party remonstrated against the ban, noting that Cahill was American by birth, the rank and file was “industrious and skillful,” and with unintended foreshadowing, boasted the militiamen were prepared to “shed their blood and sacrifice…in defense of American liberty….”
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in 1856, the ban on foreign-born men in the Connecticut militia was lifted, and just five years later when the war began, many of the men of Cahill’s unit were absorbed into the 9th Connecticut Infantry and elected Cahill colonel of the regiment. Irish-born and first-generation men born to Irish immigrants dominated the 9th Connecticut, the Nutmeg State’s only ethnic regiment. The unit joined Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler’s New England Expeditionary Force at Camp Chase in Lowell, Mass., and the 9th would go on to serve in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Virginia. The Cahills’ letters, chronicled in the University of Georgia Press book The Greatest Trials I Ever Had, edited by Ryan W. Keating, reveal the ethnic and religious loyalties of a couple who strongly identified with their Irish Catholic community in New Haven. ¶ But the letters exchanged by the Cahills also reflect the pressures that battered most middle-class military families, regardless of religion or ethnicity, as the war dragged on. Margaret (“Mag”) Cahill was left to care for her young children and manage her husband’s business as best she could, exhausting and challenging tasks that left her little time to be involved in patriotic duties on the home front. Her letters capture the limits of her willingness to sacrifice for Union, while Thomas Cahill’s correspondence highlights the frustrations of command, especially for a volunteer citizen-officer. These challenges led him to consider resigning his commission and returning home to Margaret on several occasions, but Cahill remained in uniform through October 1864, compelled to serve the men of the 9th Connecticut and the Union cause, perhaps in that order. Their letters reveal a wartime family motivated less by the cause of liberty than their sense of duty to their community in New Haven and in the 9th Connecticut volunteers. The Cahill’s phonetic misspelling has been maintained in the letters, and in some cases bracketed text has been inserted to enhance clarity.
CA M P C H A S E L OW ELL
Nov. 7, 1861
My Dear Wife We arrived safely at this camp on Tuesday Morning at 10 o clock. We had an awfull time with the Hard Cases on the manny [sic] of the Cars had no Lights in them and when they Commenced to hammer one another they could not tell where the blows came from; they smashed the glass in the car windows; and raised the mischief generally….We were met at the Cars by Col E.F. Jones of the 26th Mass Regt and after escorting us through the city delivered us into camp pretty well tired out.... They spent the fall in Lowell, Mass., attached to General Butler’s New England Expeditionary Force until the 9th Connecticut was ordered to Ship Island, Miss., where they could help enforce the Federal naval blockade and assist with invasion efforts along the Confederate coastline. Cahill grumbled because his commander, Brig. Gen. John Phelps, had issued a proclamation emancipating slaves in the region. Cahill, however, also rebuked slave owners for the 48
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cruel system of labor. That spring, Cahill took pride in his regiment’s improvement in drill and discipline, which they maintained despite the boredom at Ship Island and later at Camp Parapet, north of New Orleans, where they helped with the occupation of the Crescent City. They did not participate in the capture of New Orleans, though the 9th Connecticut did distinguish itself in a small engagement at Pass Christian, Miss., and in a larger battle at Baton Rouge, La., in August 1862 despite the sickness that weakened their ranks—likely contracted while digging “Grant’s Canal” near Vicksburg. Back in New Haven, Margaret Cahill worked to maintain her husband’s business accounts, collect rent, raise her children, and serve as a conduit between the regiment and the soldiers’ families at home.
Dec. 7, 1861
I am afraid that General Phelps [emancipation] proclamation will make trouble here. I have not seen it but understand that the naval officers denounce it bitterly. have heard some of them myself. Father [Daniel] Mullen [9th Connecticut chaplain] is also very bitter against it and says he will denounce it as Containing Sentiments anti Catholic. it is also said that the Massachusetts Regt are very much opposed to it. some of them are threatening to resign. as for myself shall be Cautious in my movements but certainly
CHARLES SIBLEY COLLECTION
Colonel Cahill and the 9th Connecticut marched off to war in the fall of 1861 amid pageantry that celebrated their IrishAmerican pride. “Hard cases” in the ranks, as Cahill called them, however, tarnished the regiment’s reputation from the start.
HOT, HUMID, HARD WORK Colonel Thomas Cahill, opposite page, had to lead his men in the challenging environment of the Mississippi River Valley. His troops were some of those assigned to dig a giant ditch, left, to try and reroute the river and leave Vicksburg dry. The attempt, which wore down and weakened many Union soldiers, failed.
N EW H AV EN
March 29, 1862 My Dear Husband …I hope you will come home soon. I do not Love to keep accounts I have deposited Johnys money and Carrolls too. Carrolls wife is Making a time about not getting More Money. but if what I hear be true she does not desire to get any more than will bearly [sic] support her.... Mrs Lawler recd her Money yesterday. it came to me—she is a very fine woman. tell her Husband she and family are well and Barney Lynch to remember me to him. his wife came to me and got her Money. they are all well....
shall not Endorse Either Abolition or Infidelity on sectarianism. I[t] is a Little Singular to say the least of it: That he should have issued such a Proclamation with out Consulting Col Jones or Myself.
Dec. 30, 1861
My Dear Wife: …Our men are beginning to look like soldiers since we got our new muskets and I am really impressed myself at their decided improvement. I am working hard to get ahead of the 26th [Massachusetts] and have the Concert to think we Can. the men begin to think so too. we can average more balls in the target than them now as the main guard gives every morning after guard mounting....it is now going on twelve o clock....no one can conceive the amount of reading writing and talking it takes to handle a regiment like ours. the company officers here are working like beavers....
April 8, 1862
My Dear Wife The rough ninth have been trooping around the Splendid summer residences [in Pass Christian] of the southern aristocracy built upon the meanest of all foundations: the unwilling labor of the Black....
O N B OA R D S T E A M ER M ATA N Z A S O F F T H E D O C K AT N EW O R LE A N S
May 2, 1862
My Dear Wife we have within the Last hour Come up from the “Passes” to help to hold this immense City. it seems Completely at our Mercy.... do not give yourself any uneasiness about me. their men have Evidently got in the way of running away when we came in behind the Fort Philip.... The Rebels in the Forts mutinied and…Came up to the 26th Regt which was the first to Land and surrendered themselves. They were all let go without their arms. FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
R E A D I N G CO T T O N PA S S N EW O R LE A N S
May 4, 1862
My Dear Wife …Our men find lots of Old acquaintances here. I think if we were to stay here another week we would have the biggest half of the Irish here with us....
CA M P PA R A P E T, CA R RO LLT O N L A
May 26, 1862
My Dear Wife …I am taking in a large number of recruits and they were verry [sic] stalwart men much Larger than the overage [sic] of our men: They are natives of Ireland Germany and some of the Northern and Western States. They represent themselves as having suffered terribly during the Last year and seem glad to Come among us. our regt has such a tremendous name here some how or other that they walk out here about 8 miles to join us. While I write I heard 6 have Come into Camp....
N EW H AV EN
May 30, 1862
2 OClock P.M. My dear Husband I have just recd your Letters of the 13 and 14 from Camp Parapet. I need not tell you I was delighted to hear from you—that you know—but if I say I do not hear from you half often Enough—do not think me too selfish—you know I had no Idea when you levt [sic] home that you would be done [sic] so Long. but enough of this what I was going to say will do neither of us any good under present circumstances. I will trust altogether in Gods Mercy and hope for your return very soon....
tion of property we read so much about: the people seem intolerably passive standing in small groups staring at us as we sail by: I can see manny [sic] females in apparent mourning which is suggestive of friends lost, still it may be mere fancy as some ladies affect that style of dress.
O N B OA R D T R A N S P O RT S T E A M ER D I A N A O F F V I C K S B U RG
June 24, 1862
10 OClock P.M. My Dear wife …we are detailing 200 men per day to Cut a new Channel for the Miss River in order to turn it away from Vicksburg and to leave her all along on her Bluffs which she has so impudently attempted to use to ban our progress up the Mississippi. [T]his is a great scheme if it will work as it promises and it may be another Evidence that we Cannot be stopped when we want to go ahead....
O N B OA R D S T E A M ER D I A N A M I S S I S S I P P I R I V ER N E A R V I C K S B U RG H [ S I C ]
June 30, 1862
My Dear Wife …we have made no perceptible progress since my last: I say we I mean the Fleet for not much is Expected from the small land force here at this time unless the stupendious [sic] attempt we are making to turn the River out of its usual Channel amounts to more than it seems at present to promise: we are still digging with about 700 soldiers and 4 to 5 hundred negroes: and will let the water on in a few days but as the river is falling rapidly I have not much faith in the scheme. never did but that is not my business. we work as we are told and do as well as we can....
O N B OA R D S T E A M ER M C C L E L L A N M I S S I S S I P P I R I V ER
My Dear Wife as you may judge from the heading we are again on the move. This time to Baton Rouge to join 4 other Regts under Brigd Genl Williams.... I have Enlisted near 200 men in New Orleans. they are fine looking men much better looking than the average of our men. I am not at all pleasant with the looks of the Country along the River. there are some fine looking plantations and houses but the land is too flat, it seems well cultivated. there is no Evidence [of ] that desperate destruc50
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RIVER CRUISE A sketch of the paddlewheel steamship McClellan , named for George McClellan, the commander of the Army of the Potomac. The 9th was transported to Baton Rouge on this vessel.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
June 1, 1862
BORN LEADER A sketch from History of the Ninth Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, published in 1908, shows Colonel Cahill as he appeared in the field. In 1862, after the fight at Baton Rouge, Connecticut Governor William A. Buckingham wrote Cahill that the “conduct of your men meets my cordial approval....”
at present a great while and I shall take the first opportunity to Escape. but I must try to do so in an honourable manner. if I could only get my papers for discharges I could send home half the Regt before I leave myself: but then I really do not know what to turn my self to. there is not likelihood of their being any business to do for a long time after this infernal war and there must be a complete change in all the affairs of Life. if I could get along with such confounded ____ as I am under now I would continue from seat of Policy as well as from Patriotic motives but this is all speculation. I cannot tell what may turn up. yet however you can understand that I feel like Coming home as soon as I can and I want to take Care of my friends and get them out with me or into better places if they stay in it.... In the summer of 1862, Margaret Cahill gave birth to the couple’s third child, who brought them joy but compounded the pain of their separation.
N E A R V I C K S B U RG
HISTORY OF THE NINTH REGIMENT CONNECTICUT VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
July 20, 1862
My Dear Wife …The men are a good deal Debilitated from the heat but I do not apprehend a great amount of sickness: there are a good manny however that I would discharge and send home if I could get the necessary [sic] papers.... The men are getting home sick as in fact we all are. the uncertainty of our movements tends greatly to this End. we do not know how where we are going to be from one day to another. all this tends to depress the spirits and make the men uneasy which of course reacts upon the health.... The tremendous Cut off that was to have done so much is about given up so that really things are in worse shape than when we Came here. How it will End I do not know and as I am not responsible let them do as they like. I will take care of my self and my Command as long as I can and then I will stop. I dislike to offer my resignation but feel that I cannot serve under such a man as we are under
N EW H AV EN
July 24, 1862
My Dear Husband Our dear little Thomas Mathew is 11 Days-20 hours old at the commencement of this letter....I have had a great many sudden changes up to two days ago but with Gods help they have all passed over and I am Mag again but only on Conditions and those are that you must come home. now I have said must (but not in anger) and that means a good deal. I cannot help it for my Heart is nearly broken. I cannot hold out much longer and you must give me credit for being patient a good while—you know I have too much feeling or pride or whatever you may choose to call it to let any person know my real feelings about your being absent—but I am not ashamed to tell you that it is the greatest trials I ever had. although I have had many and sore ones too. but none like this I think.... FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
STORM IN THE DELTA On August 5, 1862, Confederate forces tried to recapture Baton Rouge, La., from the Union occupying force. When the Federal commander, Brig. Gen. Thomas Williams, was killed, Colonel Cahill took command of the Union troops and skillfully led them in a retreat to the covering gunfire of gunboats. The Southerners then retreated, leaving the town in Cahill’s possession.
BAT O N RO U G E
pose A Man is a traitor that asks for it at present. I shall try however for your sake....
My Dear Wife Your Welcome letter…Reached me during the Excitement following our fight of August 5th [at Baton Rouge]. I think it was on the 7th that I received the letter announcing the birth of little Thomas Matthew. So you see good luck Comes in Couples. to hear of the Birth of a son and win a Battle at about the same time is what is not often vouchsafed to Mortal Man: (I cannot say thus I was as much surprised by the news from home as I was to be Called so suddenly to the Command of the Army of Baton Rouge Even for the short time that I held the verry [sic] responsible position) [when Brig. Gen. Thomas Williams was mortally wounded].... So My dear wife is anxious to have me come home. Oh dear what makes you talk so. it would do me a heap of good to See you all again. but how Could I part with you and all the Orders from Head Quarters are against the Chances of Getting a leave of absence. and as far as resignation I sup-
H E A D Q UA RT ER S 9 T H R E GT CO N N VO L S N EW O R LE A N S
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
October 21, 1862
My Dear Wife … I am sending home a good may discharged men. I cannot bear to see them lying about here looking like death although I know a great manny [sic] of them are playing on me and will be as well as Ever as soon as they get their discharges. but I do not Care. I would send the whole Regt home if I could and then go home myself. I wish I could do so with the whole Regt. Thomas Cahill returned home to New Haven in January 1863. After enjoying three months with his family, he returned to New Orleans in much better spirits.
CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES
August 16, 1862
N EW O R LE A N S
May 6, 1863
My Dear Wife We arrived here safely….The men and officers of the Regiment are all well….the prospect [for victory] is glorious after all the gloom. if we have troops to stand by what we have on if we only strip the Country completely of every vestige of wealth if they will not submit; this is the method to subdue them and take Vicksburg and Port Hudson not by rushing men on Fortifications prepared for their slaughter. They cannot live on the air; and they must be starved if they will not submit....
N EW H AV EN
June 5, 1863
My dear Husband …There is a perfect Panic here among the Men liable to the first Call [of the Federal draft] namly [sic] unmarried men. Some are being married and consider themselves Save but the majority are running away from it is great pity for Times were never before so good here. Father Hart is down on their running away so soon at least he advised them to form into Associations and have a fund and if necessary buy each other off but you know how excitable our people are....
ASSIMILATION BANNER The colorful emblem on the 9th Connecticut’s regimental banner showing the Celtic harp and the U.S. flag illustrates pride in the unit’s Irish and American heritages.
H E A D Q UA RT ER S 2 D B R I G A D E N EW O R LE A N S
COURTESY OF ROBERT LARKIN
August 8, 1863
8 PM My Dear Wife … Every thing is quiet in this Department since the fall of Port Hudson. the 24th has gone to ship Portland but has left a lot of stragglers around the city which I am picking up and sending off as fast as I can. 2 or three of our officers are going home for the conscripts. We want 400 to fill up with. we send home 6 men for same purpose….I dont suppose we will get a great many of the Conscripts but here now do I suppose a great many will be got by it only way now. in short do I Care whether or not if they dont come. I may be mustered out for which I suppose you will pray, but I dont find much fault as yet, as I am honestly getting on Easier living than Ever before and more money for it. In the fall of 1863, Margaret traveled south to join her husband in New Orleans. Their correspondence paused until the summer of 1864 when Cahill and the 294 members
of the 9th who chose to re-enlist at the end of their threeyear terms were transferred to operations in Virginia. Cahill had serious reservations about his decision to stay in the army, and the intensity of the fighting in the Eastern Theater terrified Margaret. Thomas Cahill finally decided to resign his commission in October 1864. It seems that once most of his friends and neighbors in the 9th Connecticut had left the army, he could conclude that he had fought well, cared for his men, and made sufficient sacrifices for the Union. Thomas returned home, and his construction business boomed after the war. He had precious little time to enjoy his success, however, as he died in 1869 at age 42. Margaret died the next year, and Thomas’ sister, Ellen, raised their orphaned children.
Susannah J. Ural is co-director of the Dale Center for the Study of War & Society at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is the author of Hood’s Texas Brigade: The Soldiers and Families of the Confederacy’s Most Celebrated Unit, and is currently editing a Texas Brigade family’s correspondence for a project titled, This Murderous Storm: A Confederate Family at War. FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
NEEDED’ and union troops, too, for a long-lost 1923 movie about
the Battle of Franklin
BY JOHN BANKS
nder high-piled clouds, soldiers in blue and gray clashed on a hot morning on the killing field of Franklin, Tennessee. Flags aflutter, gritty Confederates repeatedly charged as huge explosions sent “great geysers” of dirt flying. The wind carried battle smoke across the field, a witness wrote, in a “never-ending current.” ¶ “Federal gunners, stripped to the waist, sweated and cursed at their flaming field pieces,” according to an account. When the Confederate flag fell to the turf during an attack, an eager Southerner was there to swoop up the treasured flag. In an odd twist, a Federal sharpshooter wearing a curly blond wig squeezed off shots from behind a low stone fence. ¶ Above the wild fray, a commander could be heard barking out orders: “Tell them to fall back! Make them retire! Retreat, retreat, retreat!” On the Union left flank, intense handto-hand combat broke out, and after ammunition ran out, soldiers grappled in “desperate wrestling matches.” ¶ As the battle reached a crescendo, the commander demanded both sides cease fire. The soldiers grudgingly complied. In fact, the begrimed combatants eventually joined each other for a huge barbecue lunch, courtesy of the local Kiwanis Club. Casualties were extremely light— several sprained ankles, a few black eyes, and at least one case of sunstroke. After the last gun had been fired, 10,000-12,000 spectators—vastly more than the number of civilians who witnessed the First Battle of Bull Run—headed home. These scenes were not the least bit surprising. ¶ After all, this Battle of Franklin was fought September 27, 1923, and it was all Hollywood.
ACTION! Authenticity was critical for director Allen Holubar in re-creating the Battle of Franklin for his 1923 film The Human Mill . Here, extras portray Union artillerymen— some of them Southerners grudgingly wearing blue to the horror of their own families.
COURTESY OF THE RICK WARWICK PHOTO COLLECTION
FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
If you’re looking
for evidence of the real Battle of Franklin, fought on November 30, 1864, you can easily find it on Fountain Branch Carter’s bullet-scarred house and outbuildings on Columbia Pike or on the bloodstained floors of nearby Carnton, the stately ancestral home of the McGavock family. If you’re looking for the Hollywood movie version of the great battle, you won’t find it on YouTube, Netflix, HBO, or anywhere else. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Grab a cold drink and some popcorn, and let’s hold off before we roll the credits. Sixteen years before the epic Gone With the Wind debuted, production began on The Human Mill, an adaptation of Alabama native John Trotwood Moore’s 1906 historical novel The Bishop of Cottontown. Moore, Tennessee’s state librarian and archivist, based the book around his state’s cotton industry. One of the main characters was “General Jeremiah Travis,” who, along with his stereotypical faithful slave “Bisco,” figured significantly in the book’s chapter on the Battle of Franklin. Shot on location in middle Tennessee, the movie about the Old South featured in leading roles Blanche Sweet and Henry B. Walthall, the son of a Confederate captain who had fought at Franklin. In 1915, Walthall played “The Little Colonel” in Birth of a Nation, the highly controversial, Civil War– themed silent film. But the real star of The Human Mill was 33-year-old director Allen Holubar, a former silent movie actor and husband of famed actress Dorothy Phillips. A “man of easy and immediate personal charm, with piercing quick eyes,” the California native was the stereotypical Hollywood movie man of the era. Holubar “offered his public gray whipcord riding breeches, high-laced boots, multi-colored silk sport shirts, a pipe, and a jaunty panama,” Marshall Morgan wrote in 1950 in an excellent, two-part retrospective for The Nashville Tennessean Magazine about the making of The Human Mill. Arriving in Tennessee in mid-September, his first trip to the South, Holubar initially made his headquarters at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, the city’s first million-dollar hotel. The region, unfamiliar with big-time Hollywood movie making, was “agog” by the presence of the director and his crew, according to the local newspaper. “Fully half the population of middle Tennessee seems intent on helping us film the scenes,” noted Holubar, a director of nearly three dozen films, “and the other half wishes to appear in them.”
For the Battle of Franklin, the major scene in the movie, Holubar wanted to shoot on the actual battlefield. In 1923, the bloody plain upon which John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee charged was largely open fields. Today, it’s a hodgepodge of office parks, convenience stores, strip malls, and neighborhoods, with little open space at all. Holubar chose J.W. Yowell’s farm a half-mile west of Columbia Pike and about a mile south of the wartime Carter House, the epicenter of the real battle where nearly 10,000 men became casualties. About a mile farther south loomed tree-covered Winstead Hill, where Hood watched the battle unfold. Holubar needed thousands of extras for the battle scenes, and he found no shortage of men and boys willing to play army for a day of shooting film and firing blanks. A military academy in Columbia as well as two schools in Spring Hill supplied their entire student bodies. Franklin’s Battle Ground Academy and high school also offered up their male students for the big show. To supplement the youthful ranks, Holubar sought area veterans, many of whom eagerly volunteered. “I simply sent out cards to all ex-servicemen in the county,” recalled a local attorney who commanded a U.S. artillery battery in France during World War I. “I told them, in substance, that unless they showed up early on the morning of the film battle, there could be no assurance that they could take part.” Seeking a double for Blanche Sweet, Holubar, a master of public relations, put out word he wanted a local. “If you believe there is a resemblance between yourself and this wellknown screen star,” The Tennessean noted under a large, published photo of the actress, “get in touch with Mr. Holubar immediately at the Hermitage hotel.” To ensure historical accuracy, the president of the Tennessee Historical Society, a WWI brigadier general, author Moore, and 91-year-old John A. Fite, who served under Robert E. Lee in Virginia as a colonel of the 7th Tennessee, made themselves available to the director. On the day of filming, a holiday was declared in Franklin. Stores were closed, and doors of the county’s schools were shut so students could “see how a big motion picture is actually made.” Thousands of visitors jammed the town, population about 3,200. “It seems an uncanny thing,” the local newspaper wrote. “But the filming of this principal scene in the ‘Human Mill’ picture, will, doubtless, be one of the most interesting events the historic little city has ever witnessed.”
This Battle of Franklin was
all Hollywood 56
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PRIME TIME The lead duo for Holubar’s film were Hollywood actors Blanche Sweet and Henry B. Walthall. Walthall, in fact, already had a Civil War film on his resumé—the controversial Birth of a Nation . Below: The film drew the attention of The Tennessean newspaper, and a local reporter noted: “The directors [came] all the way from the Pacific Coast to secure the correct acting and ‘atmosphere’ for their gigantic production.”
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS; GLASSHOUSE IMAGES/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO; THE TENNESSEAN
On the morning of filming,
the most thankless job fell to “Captain” Koch, real first name unknown, “a thick-guttaralled, red-faced” German WWI veteran. He was in charge of movie wardrobes, stored in Franklin’s historic Masonic Lodge, completed in 1826. During the Battle of Franklin, the building was struck by Union artllery fire, and in the aftermath of the fighting, it was used as a hospital for Federal wounded. In what is today a Masonic Lodge restroom, you can still see the scrawling of Union soldiers on a wall. Yankees, however, were the furthest thing from the minds of most soldier extras—a mob, really—who early that morning in 1923 charged into the three-story brick building on what is now 2nd Avenue South. Intrepid reporter Marshall Morgan described the scene: “‘Give us Confederate uniforms!’ members of the crowd yelled, surging forward. ‘We don’t want any damn Yankee uniforms!’ The redoubtable captain, bracing himself against the onrush, wiped his crimson brow. ‘Gentlemen please, gentlemen!’ he roared. ‘How vill de pig-ture be made if no vun vill be a Vederal?’ In what was presumably a burst of inspiration, Captain Koch allowed the first 15 or 20 insurgents to seize Confederate uniforms. After that, with the aid of assistants, he rushed men through the hall so rapidly, and piled uniforms into their arms so vigorously, that hundreds of malcontents emerged to find themselves equipped with rifles, blank cartridges and blue uniforms before they could realize the extent of their humiliation.”
Even nearly 60 years after the battle, feelings ran especially high in the South about the Civil War. When a Confederate veteran saw his grandson emerge from the Masonic Lodge with a blue Yankee uniform, he became enraged, growling, “Go take those damn rags off !” Trampling fencing and cornfields, battlefield spectators
were everywhere. “The Columbia Pike leading out of Franklin was literally jammed with traffic for more than three hours before the spectacle,” according to a Page 1 Tennessean account about the battle action. “The spectators came in almost every conceivable sort of vehicle. Autos were parked in cornfields, in wood lots and anywhere else that space could be found.” Ropes held the throng back from a small platform on a hillside where the battlefield commander, director Holubar, and his assistants made movie magic. To prepare the battlefield for the film, trenches were dug and fake houses and barns were constructed. Rail fences were laid, and white flags marked the boundaries of the “killing zone.” Federal cannons came from sources throughout Tennessee, including the state capitol. The technical star of the operation was powder and explosives expert Carl Hernandez, “the master of the minefields.” Beginning about daybreak, the field was mined with explosives that, when exploded, simulated the results of artillery fire. Hernandez controlled that action from a switchboard. In a touch of movie-making genius, the director invited Confederate veterans to the set, most probably in their late 70s and early 80s. “After that,” Morgan wrote, “the ghostly lilt of Dixie would ride the winds.” At least one of the old soldiers participated in the final charge scene. FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
Unsurprisingly for a complicated project with thou-
sands of moving parts, the day got off to an inauspicious start. The Franklin mayor—an adviser for the film and witness to the battle when he was 10—stormed off the massive outdoor set because he thought the location was not historically accurate. But Holubar stuck to his guns; the location he chose would remain. After several fits and starts, soldiers found their zone. The result was magnificent, a stunningly realistic 500 feet of movie film. Wrote Morgan about the “ear-splitting inferno of thunder, flame, smoke…”: “‘Individual participants, swallowed up in the billowing smoke, blinded by rifle flashes and borne to earth under cascading tons of dirt, remember shreds of their own experiences. The immediate and first general reaction among 58
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IN FOCUS Director Allen Holubar (right) looks much the picture of health in a photo taken during filming, but became ill and died in late 1923, before completing his movie. Above: Colonel Emerson Opdycke‘s 125th Ohio engages Confederates near the Carter House at a critical point of the fighting, in a painting by Don Troiani.
FROM TOP: TROIANI, DON (B.1949)/PRIVATE COLLECTION/BRIDGEMAN IMAGES; THE NASHVILLE TENNESSEAN MAGAZINE
A stickler for details, Holubar, called “Mars, the God of War” by a local reporter, complained that a Union gun crew appeared to be too young. An assistant told the director the gunners had fought during World War I. The director smiled and walked away. When battle flags appeared to be too new, Holubar had them replaced with scruffier versions. His vision, of course, was to make the battle action as realistic as possible.
the troops was the shocked realization that the thing was terrific, far more realistic and hazardous than anyone had foreseen. One astonished Confederate soldier, struggling to his knees under a deluge of dirt, expressed the overall reaction of the combatants when he shouted to the companion lying beside him: ‘My God, I didn’t know it was going to be like this!’”
A Confederate veteran, a spectator, was consumed by the action: “Let me at ’em, boy!” he said from behind ropes during a scene. “I fit ’em in ’64, and I ain’t afraid to fight ’em now!” After the soldiers got their post-battle chow, another veteran who had a bit part in the charge thanked Holubar for his role in the film. It was a touching moment. “The grayclad veteran,” The Tennessean reported, “asked if the director needed ‘the boys’ for more scenes.” No, Holubar replied with a smile, the battle was over for “the boys.” The director knew he’d created a winner. “For its explosive effects,” Holubar said, “this battle scene surpasses any I have ever seen taken.” Days later, a writer who witnessed the faux battle marveled at what was an almost mystical experience for him. “The past itself was here,” he wrote in The Tennessean. “What had been done to bring it back was a matter of little moment. All the more praise for [Holubar] that he made us forget the quick fire of his imagination, his art, and all his dominance of a thousand details, in the grip of the thing he had produced.” “It is not Allen Holubar that we remember as the thrill of the scene still strikes at our hearts,” he added, “but the gray ghosts that he brought to life and the old battle that roared again across a famous field because of him.”
Sadly, Allen Holubar’s
PHOTO BY JOHN BANKS
masterpiece never made it into a theater. Apparently under severe mental and physical strain during filming in Tennessee, the director returned to California, where he underwent a gallstone operation. While convalescing at his Hollywood home, he died on November 20, 1923, with his wife, 7-year-old daughter, and his mother at his bedside. “Stricken while filming his greatest picture,” read a headline on his obituary in the Los Angeles Times. “All Tennessee grieves with you,” Moore wrote in a telegram to Holubar’s wife. “No one ever so completely won our hearts....” Production on The Human Mill had been suspended, and ultimately, the movie was never completed. Spurred on by Second Hour of Glory, Morgan’s 1950 newspaper series on the film, Tennessee officials tried to secure a copy of the battle scenes from MGM to show at a local fair. But the studio’s search was fruitless. “We have several contacts in Hollywood,” a fair official said after receiving the bad news, “and it’s possible the film may be in a private film library.” Since then, no trace of The Human Mill has surfaced. Like the gray ghosts on Franklin’s Bloody Plain, it has vanished into the mists of history.
John Banks is a regular columnist for Civil War Times and the author of a popular Civil War blog (john-banks.blogspot.com). Banks lives in Nashville, Tenn.
Where to find soldiers’ graffiti in Franklin
History often isn’t pretty. Case in point:
the second-floor men’s room in historic Hiram Masonic Lodge No. 7 in Franklin, Tenn. On a wall next to the urinal there, you’ll find graffiti by 14th Michigan Sergeant John Cottrell and other Union soldiers who occupied the town from 1862-63. The 14th Michigan was one of several regiments garrisoned at nearby Fort Granger. Of course Cottrell—quite a ladies’ man according to a diary the Masons purchased on eBay —and his comrades had no idea at the time they were defacing a restroom. The bathroom was added sometime in the 20th century, well before the Federals’ graffiti was uncovered during a 1970s renovation. On the same wall where Cottrell wrote his name, rank, regiment, company, and date of defacement (August 25, 1863), even more soldier graffiti has been uncovered. Civil War–era graffiti appears elsewhere in the building, too. Wardrobes for The Human Mill, the 1923 Hollywood-produced movie, were stored at the lodge, built in the 1820s and now a National Historic Landmark. In 1830, President Andrew Jackson, a Tennessean and a Mason, met members of the Chickasaw Nation there during treaty negotiations with the tribe. During the Battle of Franklin, the building was struck by errant Union cannon fire, and in the aftermath of the fighting on November 30, 1864, it was used as a Federal hospital. The Union army also used it as a barracks. –J.B.
HIS JOHN HANCOCK Graffiti left by one Union soldier on the walls of what is now a bathroom at a Franklin-area Masonic lodge, which was used as a hospital after the battle.
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GRIM REALITY IN TENNESSEE
Drama The lost film of Franklin was inspired by the actual battle
that helped ruin the
Army of Tennessee hen Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman turned his back on Atlanta on November 15, 1864, and headed east on his March to the Sea, he left behind military drama in central Tennessee, where John B. Hood’s Army of Tennessee found itself pitted against the Union forces remaining in the Volunteer State under the overall command of Maj. Gen. George Thomas. Based in Nashville with 26,000 men, Thomas also oversaw Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield’s 30,000-man Army of the Ohio, which was positioned near the Tennessee-Alabama border to keep an eye on Hood. Hood was content to let Sherman go because he had grandiose plans of his own: cross the Tennessee River into its namesake state, move quickly to get between Schofield and Nashville, take that city, and then head into Kentucky. Hood even hoped to pick up enough recruits along the way to take them east and join the Army of Northern Virginia. Despite the implausibility of success, Hood’s 27,000 men left Florence, Ala., on November 21 and pushed hard for Nashville, marching through freezing rain and inclement weather at a pace that took them 70 miles in 3 days. Schofield’s force was near Pulaski, Tenn., on the Columbia-Nashville
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
Pike, east of Hood, and the Union general fell back to Columbia on the Duck River to block the Confederates. On November 24, Hood reached Columbia, and boldly bypassed Schofield by swinging east of the town and then crossing the river. Hood had achieved an important goal of his campaign. But following the Battle of Spring Hill on November 29, in one of the more bizarre incidents of the war, Schofield’s men were able to retreat north to Franklin by marching essentially unchallenged past the Rebel camps lining the roadway. Even though many of the Confederates watched the Union columns heading north, and the Federals could see dozens of Southern cooking fires, no Rebel attack was launched. The Union troops arrived at Franklin the morning of November 30 on what would be an unseasonably warm day. The Federals could not cross north of the Harpeth River because the bridges needed repair, and they began to shore up earthworks that had been in place since 1863 near the home of Fountain Branch Carter, as well as to build new ones. The Harpeth River anchored the Union defenses on both flanks. The pursuing Confederates soon arrived, and Hood made his headquarters on Winstead Hill, about 3 miles south of Franklin. Angry at the
missed opportunity at Spring Hill, Hood was determined to ram his way through Schofield’s defenses. Hood arrayed 20,000 troops, with minimal artillery support, for a massive assault that would force them to cross two miles to reach the Union earthworks. Hood’s generals mostly opposed the attack. Brigadier General Daniel Govan remembered that his division commander, Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne, was “more despondent than I ever saw him,” and told Govan, “if we are to die, let us die like men.” The attack began around 4 p.m., and a stunned Ohio private watched as “column after column began to pour over the hills and down into the valley and up through the ravines.” The bloodbath that followed was of epic proportions. Two Union brigades were caught out in the open and routed. As those troops fled along the Columbia Pike, which bisected the center of the United States earthworks, they created confusion that permitted Hood’s men to pierce the Union center near the Carter House and its cotton gin. A headlong Federal counterattack, however, drove back the Rebels. Later, Union cavalry stopped a mounted Confederate attack on Schofield’s left flank north of the river. Until about 7 p.m., however, the frontal assaults continued to crest on the Union works with horrific bloodshed. When the fighting finally ended, an estimated 6,257 Confederates were casualties, including 14 generals—six of whom, including the beloved Cleburne, were killed. Schofield’s 2,326 casualties were also substantial, but during the night he used the repaired bridges to get his army to the safety of the Union lines around Nashville. Hood laid siege to the city, but two weeks later Thomas attacked out of his defenses. Devastating assaults by the “Hammer of Nashville” on December 15-16 destroyed the Army of Tennessee as a cohesive fighting force.–D.B.S.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
“I recollect seeing one man, with the blood streaming down his face from a wound in the head, with a pick axe in his hands, rushing into a crowd of the enemy and swinging his pick....A rebel colonel mounted the breastworks and…demanded our surrender…Private Arbridge…thrust his musket against the abdomen of the rash colonel, and with the exclamation, ‘I guess not’ instantly discharged his weapon. The…shot…actually let daylight through the victim.” Captain James A. Sexton of the 72nd Illinois, describes the frenzied fighting near the Carter House.
HALLOWED GROUND An 1874 map by William Emery Merrill depicting the Franklin battlefield. Merrill, a Wisconsin native who graduated No. 1 in the West Point Class of 1854, did not fight at Franklin, but did serve in William Sherman’s army during the Atlanta Campaign. He served in the U.S. Army’s Engineering Corps after the war.
“I was in the last charge, about sundown….The air was all red and blue flames, with shells and bullets screeching and howling everywhere, over and through us, as we rushed across the cotton fields strewn with fallen men. Wounded and dying men lay all about in ghastly piles, and when we reached works at the old cotton gin gatepost, only two or three of my companions were with me….I was tumbled over by a Yankee bullet and was dragged over and laid a prisoner of by the old gin house.” Captain James Synnamon of the 6th Missouri, CSA, describes the last Rebel attack near the Cotton Gin.
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A PIECE OF OLD VIRGINIA Several skirmishes took place at Fairfax Court House, and troops from both sides marched through the town during the war.
Virginia, is a nice place to raise a family. But it was once a place to fight a war. Halfway down Pickwick Road, you can park and walk along what’s called the Covered Way, a three-acre linear park that winds through the housing developments. Here, Union forces built a long series of defensive earthworks, many of which can still be seen. Befitting its name, Centreville was considered an important Northern Virginia crossroads, connecting several important towns including Manassas, Warrenton, and Washington, D.C. Throughout the war, fighting, ransacking, and bivouacking were common occurrences C EN T R EV I LLE in Centreville and the neighboring town of Fairfax, as Union and Confederate armies crisscrossed the region, leaving damage and desolation in their wake. “If ever a village was killed in war,” a Washington, D.C., newspaper declared in 1914, “it was Centerville [sic].” But news of the town’s death was premature, as these two towns are now among the most populated suburbs of Washington, D.C. People can still view battlegrounds, field hospitals, winter quarters, plantation houses, and even two martyrs’ graves, all in a single weekend. Most sites are located about a half-hour to 45 minutes west of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 66. –Kim O’Connell 62
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MELISSA A. WINN
WITH ITS MANICURED LAWNS and mature trees, Pickwick Road in Centreville,
The now quiet site of winter quarters
CHURCHES IN THE CROSSHAIRS
Slave cabin at Sully Plantation
MELISSA A. WINN (4)
TRIED BY WAR
At the outbreak of hostilities, a clerk named Alfred Moss removed George Washington’s will from the 1799 Fairfax Court House, but inexplicably left Martha Washington’s will behind. Taken by Union Lt. Col. David Thomson, Martha’s will eventually landed in the hands of steel magnate J.P. Morgan, who refused to return it to Virginia. Eventually, Morgan’s heirs returned the will to Fairfax in 1915. The courthouse was also the site of a June 1861 fight that killed Captain John Quincy Marr, the first Confederate officer to die in a military engagement during the war, and a monument to the captain is located there. In June 1863, J.E.B. Stuart’s men whipped an
outnumbered force of Union troopers at the courthouse, but the skirmish slowed the Confederate horsemen yet one more day in their effort to rejoin the Army of Northern Virginia during its advance into Pennsylvania.
Not far away from St. John’s Episcopal Church sits an undeveloped park that was the site of Confederate winter quarters, rows of small pitched-roof log buildings that together resembled a shantytown. According to published plans, the county may eventually include an interpretive trail and some reconstructed quarters at this site, but for now, it’s simply a quiet place for contemplation.
Built in 1854, Centreville’s Old Stone Church (top), a Methodist Episcopal congregation, became a hospital for Union wounded after First and Second Manassas, and would change hands several times before war’s end. Soldiers finally dismantled the property, but it was rebuilt in 1870 and currently operates as the Church of the Ascension. St. John’s Episcopal Church (above) was also used during the war. Soon after the first volleys at Manassas, Union troops reportedly vandalized the property. The church was later the site of a Confederate camp and partially burned in 1863. To one side of the church is a towering magnolia tree. Here you’ll find two headstones— one memorializing the unknown Confederate dead in the churchyard and the other marking the graves of privates Michael O’Brien and Dennis Corcoran, Louisiana Tiger Zouaves who became the first two soldiers executed by the Confederacy, for a drunken attack on a superior.
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“…The night air was chilly to men in wet clothes. At the regimental headquarters we built a ﬁre, and to this ﬁre the dead body was brought. We knew by the uniform that it was a Federal officer, but we did not know his name or rank.” Major Washington Grice, 49th Georgia Infantry, describes seeing the body of Union Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny, killed at the Battle of Ox Hill, or Chantilly, on September 1, 1862.
Ox Hill Battlefield Park
Heading from Centreville to the city of Fairfax, stop at the picturesque Sully Historic Site, the 18th century estate of Richard Bland Lee. An uncle of Robert E. Lee, Richard and his family lived at Sully from 1794 to 1811, along with more than 30 enslaved African Americans. Now run by the Fairfax County Park Authority, the site contains five extant original buildings, including the main house, and a reconstructed slave quarters. J.E.B. Stuart and his men had breakfast at Sully, which must have caused consternation for Maria Barlow, whose family was living on the property, given that the Barlows were Unionists.
ARMY ON THE RUN
A small building that was rebuilt from the stones of a house where John Singleton Mosby met J.E.B. Stuart has now been reopened as the Stuart-Mosby Civil War Cavalry Museum. It includes several artifacts related to both of the lauded troopers, including sabers, a lock of Stuart’s hair, and a photo album, above, that Stuart gave to female friend Nannie Price. Check their website stuart-mosby.com for hours and details.
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Today, the paved trail through Cub Run Stream Park is popular with runners, but an interpretive sign tells the story of another famous “run”—the frenzied retreat from the First Battle of Manassas. It was here that fleeing Union troops converged on the bridge over the stream, abandoning wagons and gear as Confederate artillery rained down on them.
A DOUBLE BATTLEFIELD
The Ox Hill Battlefield Park in Fairfax is well worth your time. This is the site of both a fierce
THIS PAGE: MELISSA A. WINN (2); OPPOSITE PAGE: MADISON BEST/HISTORYNET ARCHIVE; CLARENCE HOLMES PHOTOGRAPHY/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
battle on September 1, 1862, as well as a historic preservation battle. In the late 1980s, a determined group of preservationists—including the late Brian C. Pohanka—worked to save the battlefield from the rapid development that was taking over the rest of Fairfax County. Today, this five-acre site remains a monument to the power of preservation activists.
WRITING ON THE WALL
Civil War soldiers commonly wrote graffiti on the walls of the buildings they occupied—either out of boredom, to leave their mark, or to taunt their enemies. Located only blocks from the center of Fairfax, Blenheim is a historic brick farmhouse built in 1859 that contains nearly 125 known signatures, sketches, and other commentary on the walls done by Union soldiers who camped on the property or who were hospitalized in the house. One graffito depicts the sinking morale of the common soldier: “No money. No whiskey. No friends. No rations. No peas. No beans. No pants. No patriotism.”
Graffiti at Blenheim House
With content light years away from the Civil War, another must-see attraction in Fairfax County is the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. It features numerous civilian and military aircraft, including the famous Enola Gay, the retired Space Shuttle Discovery, and a Lockheed SR-71 reconnaissance plane. The kids might also enjoy a visit to Cox Farms, which features year-round produce, hayrides, and other country attractions. FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
Known for sublime natural beauty, captivating history and heritage and warm hospitality, West Virginia really is the great escape. Start planning your getaway today.
Explore the past in Baltimore during two commemorative events: the War of 1812 Bicentennial and Civil War 150. Plan your trip at Baltimore.org.
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he Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area highlights the historic, cultural, natural, scenic and recreational treasures of this distinctive region. www.mississippihills.org
Search over 10,000 images and primary documents relating to the Civil War Batle of Hampton Roads, now available in he Mariners’ Museum Library Online Catalog! www.marinersmuseum.org/catalogs
ALABAMA HISTORICAL COMMISSION Confederate Memorial Park is the site of Alabama’s only Home for Confederate veterans (1902-1939). he museum interprets Alabama’s Confederate period and the Alabama Confederate Soldiers’ Home.
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If you’re looking for an easy stroll through a century of ine architecture or a trek down dusty roads along the Blues Trail, you’ve come to the right place. www.visitgreenwood.com
Follow the Civil War Trail in Meridian, Mississippi, where you’ll experience history irst-hand, including Merrehope Mansion, Marion Confederate Cemetery and more. www.visitmeridian.com.
hrough personal stories, interactive exhibits and a 360° movie, the Civil War Museum focuses on the war from the perspective of the Upper Middle West. www.thecivilwarmuseum.org
Join us as we commemorate the 150th anniversary of Knoxville’s Civil War forts. Plan your trip today! www.knoxcivilwar.org
Experience living history for he Batles of Marieta Georgia, featuring reenactments, tours and a recreation of 1864 Marieta. www.marietacivilwar.com
Are you a history and culture buf? here are many museums and atractions, Civil War, and Civil Rights sites just for you in Jackson, Mississippi.
To discover more about Tennessee and to order your free official Tennessee Vacation Guide, visit: tnvacation.com or call 1-800-GO2-TENN
Alabama’s Gulf Coast
Lebanon, KY is home to the Lebanon National Cemetery, its own Civil War Park, and it’s part of the John Hunt Morgan Trail. VisitLebanonKY.com today.
Come to Helena, Arkansas and see the Civil War like you’ve never seen it before. Plan your trip today! www.CivilWarHelena.com www.VisitHelenaAR.com
Relive the rich history of the Alabama Gulf Coast at Fort Morgan, Fort Gaines, the USS Alabama Batleship, and the area’s many museums. Fort-Morgan.org • 888-666-9252
here’s no other place that embodies the heart and soul of the True South in all its rich and varied expressions—Mississippi. Find Your True South.
Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury, Alabama, commemorates the Civil War with an array of historic sites and artifacts. Experience the lives of Civil War soldiers as never before.
Fitzgerald, Georgia...100 years of bringing people together. Learn more about our story and the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s conclusion at www.itzgeraldga.org.
Treat yourself to Southern Kentucky hospitality in London and Laurel County! Atractions include the Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park and Camp Wildcat Civil War Batleield.
Six major batles took place in Winchester and Frederick County, and the town changed hands approximately 72 times— more than any other town in the country! www.visitwinchesterva.com
Historic Bardstown, Kentucky
CIVIL WAR MUSEUM
H I S T O R I C
of the Western Theater
Roswell, Georgia Prestonsburg, KY has myriad Civil War and history atractions, and reenactment dates at prestonsburgky.org Home to Jenny Wiley State Park, country music entertainment & Dewey Lake.
History, bourbon, shopping, sightseeing and relaxing—whatever you enjoy, you’re sure to ind it in beautiful Bardstown, KY. Plan your visit today. www.visitbardstown.com
Hundreds of authentic artifacts. Voted fourth inest in U.S. by North & South Magazine. Located in historic Bardstown, Kentucky. www.civil-war-museum.org
Whether you love history, culture, the peacefulness of the great outdoors, or the excitement of entertainment, Roswell ofers a wide selection of atractions and tours. www.visitroswellga.com
COMPLEX VOLUNTEERS REVIEWED BY ANDREW F. LANG cholarship on the common soldier of the Civil War is strong and vibrant, and Peter Carmichael’s The War for the Common Soldier: How Men Thought, Fought, and Survived in Civil War Armies adds a new and ambitious element to the field. His work fundamentally alters the trajectory of the literature, compelling readers to recognize not why soldiers fought but instead how they thought. Treating Union and Confederate citizen-soldiers with absorbing empathy, Carmichael reminds us that his subjects were governed by a range of emotional commitments antagonized by the horrors of war. To appreciate the full scope of the soldiering experience, he argues, one must understand the inner mind of common volunteers. Carmichael gives due credit to the myriad historians who have paved the dynamic field of soldier studies, yet his perspective leaves little doubt about what he considers the subject’s current limitations. While ideological rhetoric may explain a soldier’s commitment to a national political cause, such lofty expressions cannot capture the internal contradictions that volunteers daily confronted in their military lives. Indeed, soldiers did not remain in the ranks only because they believed in their respective nations. Their worldviews were far more nuanced and tied far more to negotiating the complex human condition. Each chapter of the book reveals how soldiers attempted to make sense of the inherently nonsensical: killing in the name of Christian duty; forgoing personal independence in the service of martial efficiency; leaving behind one’s family to ensure the family’s stable future. Carmichael presents a compelling case for Civil War soldiers “to rise above the dehumanizing aspects of military life through physical and moral discipline.” In this way, soldiers used the written word, through letters and diaries, as a cathartic medication to ease their suffering and to rationalize their experiences. Though it often seems that war shatters the inward sense of self, Carmichael is at his best when demonstrating the “pragmatism” of soldiering. While saturated with the dehumanizing conditions of modern war, burdened by the regi-
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
The War for the Common Soldier: How Men Thought, Fought, and Survived in Civil War Armies By Peter S. Carmichael University of North Carolina Press, 2018, $31.97
mented nature of military life, and trampled by the coercion from officers—who, in civilian life, would be a common soldier’s societal equal—Union and Confederate volunteers possessed remarkable agency over their daily lives. They adapted to the unpredictable and “determined their own truths of soldiering.” Thus, they battled daily against the overwhelming forces of disillusionment, resolved not to lose faith in their God, their comrades, and themselves. Too much was at stake, well beyond the preservation of Union or the establishment of a new slaveholding republic: their carefully constructed public reputations, their perception of masculine duty, and their certainty of some kind of divine authority. Carmichael takes a bold stand against a trendy scholarly agenda that sees the Civil War as little more than an aimless, brutalizing experience in which its very practitioners emerged disenchanted, skeptical, and damaged. To be clear, The War for the Common Soldier is hardly a triumphal celebration of war nor a hagiographic portrait of its central participants. Rather, it seeks to understand history’s actors as they lived in their own uncertain, terrifying present.
LEE’S 1862 OFFENSIVE FAILS
REVIEWED BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
n September 17, 1862, Union and Confederate forces fought on the pastures and farms of Sharpsburg, Md. By day’s end, over 3,500 men lay dead. In A Fierce Glory: Antietam—The Desperate Battle that Saved Lincoln and Doomed Slavery, author Justin Martin investigates why this episode was so important to the nation’s fate. According to Martin, the men of the Union and Confederate Armies weren’t the only players in the fight. Woven into his account are striking vignettes featuring nurse Clara Barton and photographer Alexander Gardner, who captured haunting images of the battle’s aftermath. Especially important, Martin offers a brilliant man-on-the-ground account of the clash, as well as a bird’s-eye view of life in America of 1862. In doing so, he places one of the bloodiest battles in American history within the larger
context of the Civil War, namely by exploring what it meant to Lincoln. The Union was desperate for a victory, as was Lincoln, who planned to issue his Emancipation Proclamation following a military win. Martin’s book is the product of thorough research and his numerous novelistic details infuse the narrative with a strong first-person perspective that’s as educational as it is entertaining. His opening chapter alone is a masterful piece of writing. It describes the early hours of September 17 as a light drizzle fell on Sharpsburg and a blanket of clouds hid the moon and stars. One soldier wrote, “you could make a hole in the darkness with your finger.” This “you are there” style, when paired with a clean, well-organized presentation of key troop movements, makes for accessible, palpable, military history. Martin covers in full the fighting that ultimately produced the bat-
A Fierce Glory: Antietam— The Desperate Battle that Saved Lincoln and Doomed Slavery By Justin Martin De Capo Press, 2018, $28
tle’s horrific casualties, yet he always manages to circle back to the president. The commander-in-chief opposed not only to Lee but also his own general, George McClellan. The Democrat who held the president in contempt likewise controlled the balance of the country’s future. Martin’s fresh and revealing approach broadens our understanding of this legendary battle.
REVIEWED BY LOUIS P. MASUR
B Becoming Lincoln By William W. Freehling The University of Virginia Press, 2018, $29.95
efore Lincoln succeeded he failed. He failed in politics, failed in business, failed even in love. These setbacks might have derailed another person. But the Kentucky native triumphed over his personal reversals to become, arguably, our greatest president. William Freehling’s Becoming Lincoln probes the puzzle of how an awkward, self-educated frontiersman rose to become one of the most venerated figures in history. Freehling has been writing Southern history for more than 50 years and is the author of numerous landmark books. Freehling’s work is especially noteworthy for the attention he pays to understudied topics such as Lincoln’s eight years in the Democrat-dominated Illinois legislature. An orthodox Whig in politics, Lincoln agitated mostly unsuccessfully for state aid to canals and railroads. Although he lost a race for speaker of the House by only five votes, his support steadily declined and his final term ended ignominiously on March 1, 1841. Freehling argues that Lincoln “spent years glooming over why such promise had turned to ashes” and concludes “the lessons learned from his first political debacle guided his strategies toward latter-day triumphs.” It is impossible for anyone to say with certainty how Lincoln triumphed over so many obstacles and became Abraham Lincoln. He had ambition and luck, that helped. But the answer belongs more to the realm of psychology than history. Whether or not we can learn from him, Lincoln remains an inspiration for all who have faced hardships in their lives. FEBRUARY 2019 CIVIL WAR TIMES
THE DEFINITION OF
REVIEWED BY GORDON BERG he essays Paul Quigley has assembled in The Civil War and the Transformation of American Citizenship investigate what it meant to be a citizen during the Civil War and Reconstruction. In short, Quigley concludes, war, emancipation, and Reconstruction “forced all Americans to rethink the fundamental meanings of citizenship in many aspects of their lives.” Quigley’s cadre of authors has produced essays that are deeply researched, cogently argued, and clearly written. Elizabeth Regosin uses former slave Huldah Gordon’s quest for citizenship to show that “a person might feel like a citizen before the legal contours of citizenship were fully defined, and, alternatively, might be considered a legal citizen but feel excluded from its benefits.” Tamika Nunley examines the petition filed by Emeline Wedge when her owner in the District of Columbia refused to take advantage of the compensation provision of the 1862 Emancipation Act. Earl Maltz rethinks the racial boundaries of citizenship by investigating how it affected Native Americans and people of Chinese descent. During the war, allegiance to the Union bedeviled Confederate prisoners and Southern civilians. Jonathan Berkey concludes that, in many areas, “secessionists swallowed the oath of allegiance to the United States for The Civil War and the pragmatic reasons” but that in Winchester, Transformation of Va., a strong sense of belonging to a commuAmerican Citizenship nity proved stronger than the benefits accrued Edited by Paul Quigley by renouncing their secessionist convictions. LSU Press, 2018, $47.50 Angela Zombek shows that “Union prison officials enticed enemy inmates to affirm their allegiance, reclaim U.S. citizenship, and mitigate their trials of imprisonment.” New forms of citizenship were forged during the tumultuous years after 1865. David C. Willard chronicles the trials of diehard Confederate Charles E. Dabney to illustrate how defeated Southerners “would define citizenship and civic virtue in the Civil War’s wake.” Claire Wolnisty shows that, for some, it meant leaving the country of their birth. “Thousands of Southerners who relocated to Latin America after the downfall of the Confederacy,” Wolnisty writes, “ask us to conceive of a citizenship in which transnational familial, social, and economic relationships took precedence over all other manifestations of citizenship.” While the anthology’s essays don’t focus on the broader relationship of governance and citizenship, Laura Edwards contends that, taken as a whole, “the Civil War placed incredible pressure on government at all levels, imposing new responsibilities while making existing ones more difficult to fulfill—a situation that raised questions about the meaning of citizenship.”
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019
Women of the Blue & Gray: True Civil War Stories of Mothers, Medics, Soldiers, and Spies By Marianne Monson Shadow Mountain, 2018, $19.95
REVIEWED BY JON GUTTMAN
he American Civil War was by no means the only one in which women played active, sometimes prominent, often overlooked, roles. Where it may differ from previous conflicts, however, might be seen in the entry in Women of the Blue & Gray devoted to Mary Walker, field surgeon, part-time secret agent, lifelong partisan for women’s rights, and postwar suffragist—the only woman awarded the Medal of Honor, only to have it rescinded in 1917, largely due to her suffragist stand. Eighteen months after her death in 1919, the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, bringing her cause to fruition, and in 1977 her Medal of Honor was reinstated. Marianne Monson’s short but remarkably comprehensive volume covers all the familiar names—Louisa May Alcott, Clara Barton, Mary Chesnut,
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Harriet Tubman, Belle Boyd, Sallie Tompkins—but Civil War aficionados will find a wealth of new names in this rough collection of feminine involvement. Their efforts range from penning ideological literature and chronicling their life and times through diaries, to espionage (often hiding in plain sight), smuggling, battlefield medicine, exerting political influence and, in more cases than can be confirmed, taking up arms alongside the men. Harriet Tubman is not the only black voice to be heard in these pages. There is also the testimony of ex-slaves and Susie Baker King Taylor, Union nurse, teacher, and the only African-American woman to leave behind a first-hand written account of her wartime experiences. There is also the story of Maria Lewis, a freed slave who passed herself off as a welltanned man to join the 8th New York Cavalry Regiment and serve for more than 18 months with a distinction that led to her being on an honor guard presenting 17 captured Confederate battle flags to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton after the war. Confederate heroines and those who recorded their wartime hardships are given their due, and so are those Native American women who suffered in a parallel conflict that had taken no sabbatical while the states fought each other—as well as those caught up in their own civil war, among the tribes, and even factions within one tribe, taking a Union or Confederate stand. Women of the Blue & Gray should give the reader a new perspective on the Civil War period. It should also provide a lot of new perspectives within its own subject. Not a bad achievement for a mere 230 pages.
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★ EXPLORE WILMINGTON, N.C., HOME TO FORT FISHER ★
‘FOR THE CAUSE OF MY RACE’
ASSAULT BLACK REGIMENTS ROUT REBEL TROOPS YOU’RE FIRED!
JUDGE JOSEPH HOLT CRUSHED MILITARY CAREERS
‘MY DEATH STROKE’ LETTERS OF A DIEHARD MISSOURI CONFEDERATE December 2018 HistoryNet.com
8/24/18 1:17 PM
$ 97.99 DIRECTOR JOHN HUSTON was
HERITAGE AUCTIONS, DALLAS
bitterly disappointed in the version of his movie, The Red Badge of Courage, based on Stephen Crane’s 1895 novel of the same name, which reached theaters in 1951 and was advertised on this poster sold by Heritage Auctions. Huston wanted to release a 1.5-hour-long epic that followed Private Henry Fleming’s Civil War sojourn in the 304th New York Infantry, but editors hacked it down to just 69 minutes. Despite being fiction, the movie’s chronicling of Fleming’s complex reactions to what author Crane powerfully described as the “furnace roar of the battle” gives audiences insight into war’s impact on Civil War soldiers. 2
CIVIL WAR TIMES FEBRUARY 2019