Friday, February 20, 2009
The following are some interesting excerpts;
"During this period of life I read the newspapers which were full of the happenings in Kansas Territory. The territorial government had applied to Congress for statehood in the Federal union. The abolitionists of the north wanted it admitted only upon the terms of a free state, while the Southern or pro- slavery people wanted it admitted as a slave state; that is, that a citizen of the United States, owning slaves, should have the right to go into Kansas and have his property and slaves protected, as any other property, which had been done under the constitution of the United States from the beginning of the government. The northern Free Soilers, as they called themselves, sent men and arms to Kansas under the name of the Secret Aid Society, for the purpose of driving out the Southern people. The other side being equally determined, it resulted in frequent collisions at arms between the contending factions. My sympathies naturally went out to the Southern people not that I owned any property in slaves, but I naturally loved the Sunny South together with all her institutions, then as now; whether right or wrong, was no question with me. I am for her and will be, I think, while I have an existence upon the earth. My patriotism began to run pretty high; so I made up my mind that if I had any way of getting over there I would go and help my people. After some reflection I frankly laid the matter before my father, telling him of my intentions. He heard me kindly through my story. When I had finished, he told me that I knew nothing of life in an army; that I had best wait, for he believed that inside of two years a fearful war would be forced upon the people of the Southland; that, when the time came, it would be our duty to aid our people to the best of our ability. After this conversation I abandoned the idea of a trip to Kansas."
"About this time came John Brown's raid into Virginia. Thus every move on the political chessboard was a move in the direction of war the most fearful in the annals of history. Thus John Brown's raid was the first shot fired and the first onslaught made upon the institutions of our country, which burst upon us in all its fury in the year 1861. I was then in my nineteenth year; full of patriotism and hope of success; anxious to take part in the struggle, I enlisted in a company being raised by Richard Barham May, 1861."
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Lieutenant-Colonel Phil Lee, of the Second Kentucky, was quite a wit and something of a wag as well, and after the Fifth came to use, he characterized the five regiments as follows: The "honest ninth," the "theiving fourth," the "supple sixth," the "invincible second" and the "simple fifth." The fifth had been recruited in the mountain counties of Kentucky, and we called them "seng diggers" when they first came to us, but we soon learned to respect them for their prowess, their indomitable courage notwithstanding their want of culture.And in so doing, Garrigus joined what was, by then, a cultural phenomenon that considered the American mountain South another America, a retarded frontier, the contemporary ancestors of the country permanently locked in their Elizabethan past. This is not surprising for 1914 as many scholars who study the evolution of the idea of Appalachia will point out. But what is most interesting is that Garrigus' claims are backed up by wartime accounts that disparage the soldiers of the Fifth as jeans wearing, uncultured, ginseng digging, persons outside the mainstream Kentucky. The development of an Appalachian other has been linked to mountain unionism during the war, but I can't help but wonder if there are also roots of an Appalachia-as-other in intra-Confederate criticism of the mountaineer as well. I have decided to start poking around this idea this semester in a seminar with Dwight Billings to see if it has legs.
My exploratory steps thus far has been to see if the 5th was really a "mountain" regiment. Using E.Porter Thompson's 1868 annotated rosters, here's where the Orphans hailed from. Update: New maps! Red counties sent a company-sized contingent, Orange counties sent a significant (~15+) group, and Yellow counties sent a small number of soldiers into the unit:
The "Simple Fifth." While there are the large groupings from Morgan and Breathitt (2 companies in that case), there are certainly large contributions from non-stigmatized Northern Ky. Certainly, though, the 5th is the most tightly grouped of any of the units.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Here is the description from the catalog:
Great Things Are Expected of Us is a fascinating collection of letters written by Lt. Col. Irvine Walker to his fiancé as he fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War's Western Theater from May 1862 until April 1865. This correspondence offers candid, revealing insights into the mind of a man whose devotion to the Southern cause was matched only by his desire to maintain the status befitting his high station in society.A South Carolinian who fought in the Army of Tennessee, Walker was a quintessential representative of what historian Peter Carmichael has described as the “last generation of the Old South.” Walker viewed his participation in the war as the perfect opportunity to live up to the idealized sense of manhood championed by the men of his class and to defend its way of life.Not only do the letters provide firsthand accounts of the military campaigns in which Walker participated, they also show the war from a uniquely human perspective. Writing with passion and literary verve, the young officer was refreshingly open yet careful to present himself and his fellow soldiers in a positive way. He was quick to defend his friends, but he could be scathing in his criticism of others. Of particular interest is his defense of General Braxton Bragg, a commander whom many have maligned but whom Walker greatly admired.Making these letters even more fascinating are the postwar corrections and commentary that Walker added when he had his letters transcribed decades after the conflict. Also included is an appendix containing Walker's accounts of his participation in the battles of Franklin and Nashville. These various elements, along with the editors' introduction and annotations, make Great Things Are Expected of Us a significant contribution to the Voices of the Civil War series and to our understanding of the Confederate elites and the war in the West.