Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year: From the New South

A bit of a New Years celebration here at AoT. This is a poem I came across during my thesis research that I've always loved. It's from the Lexington Observer & Reporter, owned and edited by W.C.P. Breckinridge, Colonel of the 9th Ky. Cav (CS), and lately (by the time of this poem) passed off to Confederate sympathizer George S. Ranck. The paper was a leading spokesman for the Kentucky Democracy, a New South booster, eventually a New Departure paper following Henry Watterson's lead, and one of the best sources I have for news and (favorable) opinion about anti-black militia and Kuklux activity.

Notice the "cut down in the prime of life" and "whipped but defiant" South imagery. And, of course, the section towards the end about guarding the "annals and altars of state" from the "wolf" is, going into 1869, a commentary on Kentucky's position on the upcoming 15th Amendment debate.

Lexington Observer & Reporter,
The 1st of January, 1869.

Looking backward for the glory,
Of a gilded summer dawn,
Down a weary waste of whiteness,
Down a dreary winter lawn.

Looking backward, down the shadow
Of an iron beaten way,
Whence the armoured TIME came silent,
On the animate to-day.

Oh, it startles human reason;
Oh, it withers human pride,
Looking backward, ever backward,
On the living things that died.
Tread lightly – tread softly – oh, merciful Time,
O’er the land of the sun, and the lemon and lime,

For leaves of the flowers so faded and strewn,
Were fair in the morning and fallen at noon.

Go back to the plane of your ice-hidden lakes –
Go back with your breath of the frost and the flakes,

Go northward, oh, season of winter and gloom,
From the emerald South and its odorous bloom.
Oh, better to die and be hidden away,
Than to live in the circle and sight of decay.

Our metals of life in their crucibles run,
When the pulses are red in the glow of the sun.

But come to the South with the ice of your heel,
And the channels are still and the currents congeal.

Go backward, oh, winter, go back to the lakes,
With your withering frost and your wandering flakes.
The bush is borne down, and the blossom is shed
And we gather to-day at the grave of the dead.

The course that is stark, and the body that’s cold,
Is a lick of the past to be lost in the mold;

And armies may go the sepulcher plain,
To laurel the bier of the body that’s slain,

But never again at the death of the years,
Will the heart of the Southron be lavish of tears,

Go seek in the far-reaching fields of his land,
For the shade of his column and capital grand;

Go look for the mosque of his worship and pride;
Go look for his brother go look for his bride;

Go look for all things he has cherished and loved,
The garden be haunted – the valley be roved,

And the desolate track, and the ravens that fly.
Will tell that the fount of the Southron is dry.

Time was, when a sentinel stood at the gate,
And guarded the annals and altars of state;

When the gleam of his eye and the glare of his blade
Kept the wolf in the covet afar and afraid;

When the good and the pure, and the noble and true,
Were all in the land that the sentinel knew –

Time was when the tyrant would blanch in the sight,
Of the column and arch of our temple of right,

When the marbles of state in their purity stood –
That our fathers had builded and hallowed in blood;

But time is long gone with the sands of the glass,
When honor was watchword, and virtue the pass.

Go banish the dust from your lexicons old
Ye people that glitter and seek to be gold;

Go back to the schools of your earlier days,
For their lessons of truth, and their patriot lays;

Go study the greatness, that tried in the fires,
Shone bright in the glory that covered your sires;

Go feel in the spell that encircles their graves
That tyrants and cowards are meaner than slaves.

Oh, men of the nation – oh, rulers and kings,
Do ye know that your riches and powers have wings?

Do ye know that the ashes ye scatter and spurn,
Must quicken in time, and arise from the urn?

Do you know that the gates where ye gather your tolls,
Are peopled with things that have pulses and souls?

Do ye dare from your source in the dust and the clods
To covet the robe and the thrones of the Gods?

Ye may look at the waves that go out on the sea,
And learn from the past, what your future will be;
But evening must come from the shadow at last
With a garment of gloom and a gathering blast.

Happy New Year from a still-defiant South!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Old Hickory's Ties to Chickamauga

I take pen in hand (well, keyboard) in order to peer into the lives of “Old Hickory’s” adopted family and trace their loyalties to the Union. General Andrew Jackson was an ardent Unionist but had several relations give their lives for the “Southern Cause.” It was Jackson who, during Thomas Jefferson’s birthday celebration on April 20, 1830, starred John C. Calhoun squarely in the eyes, and gave the resounding toast, “OUR UNION: IT MUST BE PRESERVED!” Although born in South Carolina, and a Tennessee emigrant, Jackson was willing to lay down his life and the lives of United States soldiers in order to keep the Union together. His adopted grandson (grandnephew in reality) and grandnephew gave their lives for the South at the Battle of Chickamauga.

Jackson and Rachel had no children of their own, but one cannot say they were childless. Children seemed to be scrambling all about the Hermitage and the White House during his presidential years. The couple adopted two children during their lives and acted as guardians for eight others. One of the adopted children was the son of Rachel’s brother, Severn Donelson, renamed Andrew Jackson, Jr, to honor his adopted father. The other adopted son was an orphaned Creek Indian named Lyncoya. Jackson adopted him during the Creek Indian war of 1813-14 and sent him to the Hermitage to be reared, but unfortunately, Lyncoya died in 1828, at the age of eighteen, as a result of tuberculosis. Andrew Jackson, Jr. married Sarah Yorke of Philadelphia in 1831, and they had a son, Samuel Jackson, in 1837.

The Jackson’s also added three nephews to their family in 1804. After another brother of Rachel’s died, John Samuel Donelson (1798-1817), Daniel Smith Donelson (1802-1863), and Andrew Jackson Donelson (1799-1871) came to call Andrew guardian. The best known of the three nephews was Andrew Jackson Donelson, who married Emily Tennessee Donelson and was his Uncle Andrew’s private secretary during his two terms as president. Emily Donelson acted as White House hostess for most of Jackson’s presidency, but she died of tuberculosis in 1836. One of the Children produced from this marriage was John S. Donelson.

John S. Donelson was born in the White House on May 18, 1832, and was standing at the bedside of his granduncle when the ex-president died in 1845. According to John's stepmother, Elizabeth, the dying Jackson called John to his side, "kissed him and gave him his blessing and parting admonitions [.] He told him not to weep for him[,] that he hoped to meet him in Heaven & that he must be a good boy, obey his parents, keep the Sabath[sic] holy, and not neglect his salvation." John cast his lot with the Confederacy on May 14, 1861, when he was mustered into Company E of the 154th (Senior)Tennessee Regiment as a 2nd lieutenant. His promotion to 1st lieutenant came in August 1861, and his appointment to captain occurred on June 27, 1862. Captain Donelson received a severe wound during the Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro) on December 31, 1862, and was subsequently killed on September 19, 1863, at the Battle of Chickamauga while serving on Brigadier Preston Smith’s staff as Acting Assistant Adjutant-General (A.A.A.G.). His effects were placed in his brother’s care but no record of his burial was documented. According to the Compiled Service Records (CSRs), Donelson’s captaincy had not been filled by December 1863, due to “the captain-elected” having “failed to pass ex board and appointment not made.”

General Jackson’s “grandson,” Samuel, was born at the Hermitage on June 9, 1837, to Andrew Jackson, Jr. and Sarah Yorke. He enlisted and was elected as the 1st lieutenant of Company G, 44th Tennessee Infantry on December 30, 1861, and received an appointment as captain on April 24, 1862. He too was wounded at the Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro). Unlike his cousin, John Donelson, Jackson’s wound was recorded. He took a shot in the hand and was sent to Marietta, Georgia, to recover. His company’s muster roll recorded him as being “present” in May and June 1863. Like his cousin, Samuel Jackson took part in his final battle on September 19, 1863, at Chickamauga. Brigadier General Bushrod Johnson described the scene in his official report on October 24, by saying, “ The Forty-fourth Tennessee Regiment had Lieut. Col. John L. McEwen, jr., commanding, a gallant and able officer, who has rendered faithful and efficient service in our army, and 5 company officers wounded, 1 (Capt. Samuel Jackson) mortally.” Johnson goes on to say that “Captain Jackson, of the Forty-fourth Tennessee Regiment, has since died of his wounds. Known to me long and familiarly in youth and manhood as Capt. Samuel Jackson has been, I feel unable to do justice to his many virtues, his pure and admirable character, or his merits as an officer and a soldier.” Jackson’s CSR records he died on October 2, 1863, from wounds received at Chickamauga, but his gravestone at the Hermitage records his death as September 29. Samuel Jackson’s name was placed on the Confederate Roll of Honor on August 10, 1864, posthumously.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Watching the Death of an Army

As Lee said, it's that time of year again for the destruction of the AoT. And in the case of the Battle of Nashville, we are lucky to have a photographic glimpse into the battle as it is going on in real time. Photographer George Bernard documented U.S. troops -- those not engaged, that is -- watching the battle from their positions in the outer works. The LoC has fantastic .tiff scans of these photographs here, but these are some zoom-in and crop jobs that give us some neat detail.

This guy has always screamed "Western Fed" to me. The nonchalant demeanor, the decidedly unmilitary bearing. Also not that tent/hut city sprawling back in the distance, and the regiment after regiment's worth of rifles stacked off in the distance.

More on those troop positions in the background of the first fellow. How good are these guys at putting up abatis by now?

And the part of the war that tends to be left out: logistics, wagons, horses, and the non-glamorous stuff.
They say that the army life is one of great boredom punctuated by times of great excitement. Obviously, for these fellows with a ringside seat, this battle certainly provides that break from the mundane along with the added bonus of not getting shot at.
...and observing is not for the soldiers alone. This civilian/military mixed group is standing perhaps 10-15 yds. behind the others.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Death of the Army of Tennessee

Patrick posted a few weeks ago about the "birth" of the Army of Tennessee, and I thought it fitting that the date of its' death should be likewise noted. Today marks the 144th anniversary of the battle of Nashville. Although Joe Johnston would surrender a "Army of Tennessee", when you look at the order of battle, only one small corps was made up of what was left after Nashville and the disasterous retreat that followed.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"All Men of Decency Ought to Quit the Army"

In honor of finishing up my essay, "'All Men of Decency Ought to Quit the Army': Benjamin F. Buckner, Manhood, and Pro-Slavery Unionism in Kentucky," for The Register last night, I decided to post Ben's letter to Helen, his fiancee, from which I took my title. It also happens to be one of his most concise (but certainly not only) articulations of his opinions about the propriety of African Americans as soldiers and the actions of the Lincoln administration.

Bowling Green, Ky.
Feby. 1, 1863

My Dear Helen,

I received a very long and interesting letter from you yesterday evening, and as the mails have at last commenced coming with some regularity, I shall doubtless have the pleasure of hearing frequently and of writing to you as often. I cant tell you when I am coming home as that depends on Col Hansons stay. When he comes I am going home on leave for a while, and just as soon as we are paid off I am going to try General Wright with a resignation.
The papers come quite regularly and we are very much edified by reading the proceedings of the Congress upon the Negro Soldier bill. All men of decency ought to quit the army if that bill becomes a law.
What is to become of Kentucky it is impossible to tell. All is dark in her future. I am sick at heart with the prospect before us. We who are in the army feel that we have been grossly deceived by the President and the party in power and what to do is the question that disturbs us all. We are all opposed to secession, and believe that it is no remedy for any of the evils that beset us. At the same time, we are uncompromising in our opposition to the infamous and disgraceful measures originated by the President & his party. The fact [is] that the Army and the Country are brought into disrepute both at home and abroad by the adoption of measures totally unfit for the accomplishment of any useful purpose. ...
Col Hanson’s time is up in the 5 or 6 of this month. You must be sure and keep me posted up as to your whereabouts for I dont want to have to go all over the Country hunting you up like I did before. I am going to send this letter by Capt Williams of Mt. Sterling[.] He is on duty in the Provost Marshall’s office, and is going home to see his wife. I hope to get my resignation through Genl Wrights head quarters. We are in disputed jurisdiction Rosecrans and Wright both claim us and having tried Genl Rosecrans I intend to try the other.
I hope soon to see you at any rate and we can then arrange for the future.
Goodbye the train is whistling & I have no time to write further [at] this time.

Ever yours

Though he had first stated his intention to resign back in June of '62 because of preliminary anti-slavery measures, the threat of social contamination-by-association with blacks in the military was too much for him to bear. Standing in integrated ranks was no way to preserve the "decency," honor, community esteem, or whatever else you might call it that a young lawyer needed to successfully build a practice and win a sweetheart. Of course, even had he stayed in the army he would have likely never seen, associated with, or formed alongside African American soldiers. But the pollution to the institution of the army and the country were too great to risk personal miasma.

Interestingly, just like Gorgas in the (apparently firebrand of a) post from the other day, he seems to suggest that despite the radical step taken by the Republicans, the USCTs would still be "unfit for the accomplishment of any useful purpose" as soldiers. But numbers might disagree with Ben. 23,000 black Kentuckians did things like relieve white troops from garrison duty, allowing the Ben Buckner-less 20th KY to return to active service the field in the Summer of '63 and again in '64.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Confederate Veteran on "How The Confederacy Armed its Soldiers"

Thanks to Kaelin for alerting me to this interesting article about Confederate industry from Confederate Veteran XXX, no. 1 (1922).

I was teaching my classes the other day about reading material culture as a primary source. For instance: a sun-faded, hand-sewn, jeans Confederate jacket can speak to raw material shortages and the labor of women behind the lines; an Atlanta arsenal cartridge box containing rounds from the Selma arsenal with powder from the Augusta works can tell us why Billy Sherman was so determined to stop the flow of supplies from the Confederate industrial heartland. Interesting, then, that we see in the pages of CV "How the Southern Confederacy developed a great industry in the manufacture of firearms and munitions while handicapped by the demands of active warfare is brought out in this article from the Springfield (Mass.) Republican, published while the World War was raging."

What's fascinating to me is that the CV would even publish such a thing. It smacks of the pride of the New South Men who sought capital and industry to restore the region to prominence while retaining the more conservative social structures of the Old South: racial, gender, and class hierarchy. I've always been of the opinion that if Gaines Foster is correct about the UCV being an town/urban professional phenomenon then we would see a significant amount of overlap in those professing the New South Creed and the shapers of Confederate memory.

" We began in April, 1861," wrote Gen. Josiah Gorgas, chief of ordnance of the Confederate army, in a monograph to President Jefferson Davis, "without arsenal or laboratory, or powder mill of any capacity, and with no foundry or rolling mill except in Richmond; and before the close of 1863, or within a little over two years we supplied them. During the harassments of the war, while holding our own in the field defiantly and successfully against a powerful enemy, crippled by a depreciated currency; throttled by a blockade that deprived us of nearly all the means of getting material or workmen; obliged to send every able-bodied man to the field; unable to use slave labor, with which we were abundantly supplied, except in the most unskilled departments of production; hampered by want of transportation of even the commonest supplies of food; with no stock on hand even of such articles as copper, leather, iron, which we must have to build up our establishments—against all these obstacles, in spite of all these deficiencies, we persevered at home as determinedly as our troops did in the field against a more tangible opposition. ... Steam was put in at the Charleston arsenal. The Mount Vernon institution was moved to Selma, nearer the district where the hardest cast iron in America was being turned into gun bores. Ancient field pieces of 1812 were replaced by new cannon from the Tredegar iron works in Richmond. ... Lead at the rate of nearly 80,000 pounds a month came in from the mines near Wytheville, Va., to be smelted in the new government plant at Petersburg. Battle fields were combed for gunstocks, bores, and bullets, with excellent results.

Notice how Gorgas downplays the potential contribution of slaves, pointing to their presumed inferiority and incapacity for skilled work, and without batting an eye can later point to Tredegar's contributions to the CS war effort while not acknowledging the slave labor that enabled that installation's success. But despite the racial assumptions which are largely inescapable from any source written in the 1920s, this remains a fairly sound introduction to Confederate industry. The conclusion is what I really enjoyed.

The Confederacy fell not so much because it had not been able to make arms, as because all the places where the arms were made fell before the Union armies.

Indeed, Harper's Ferry, Nashville, and eventually Atlanta would all suffer that same fate. But let us also keep in mind William Freehling's contention that the Confederacy had already lost the industrial war when it did not bring the manufacturing and transportation might of Baltimore, Louisville, and St. Louis into its ranks in 1861.

Chickamauga "Seminar in the Woods" 2009

For the past several years, Dave Powell, has been conducting indepth tours of the Chickamauga Campaign, and once again there is one scheduled for March 2009. I have been on these the past several years and they are very good. For more info,

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How they fought at Chickamauga

Here is another account describing the way soldiers fought at Chickamauga, similar to what we have posted before, but with more descriptions of what they were using for breastworks. Enjoy.

From an account of Chickamauga of Lt. Col. Henry Davis, 82nd Indiana Infantry;

"Our father was doing everything in his power to strengthen the line by forcing stragglers who were streaming past, singly and in groups, to lie down in line with his men, and by urging the men to pile up rocks, rails, logs, chunks, and anything and everything they could find for defensive breast works, when a general officer on horseback rode up to him (our father), leaned over, put his arm round our father's neck and with an oath said, "Old man, I love you". This happened between the charges of the enemy, and while preparing for their return. Our father did not know who this officer was nor his rank, except that he was a general officer, but I have always believed it was Pap Thomas himself."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Goodbye Mr. Bragg

Just to note that today was the 145th anniversary of Braxton Bragg's resignation from command of the Army of Tennessee.