Thursday, September 20, 2018

Whatever happened to Joshua O. Johns?


On April 9, 1865, Pvt. Joshua O. Johns rode into the village of Appomattox Court House. He was one of three Confederates on the grounds of the McLean home as Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. Johns held the horses, his, Lee's favorite mount Traveler, and that of Col. Charles Marshall, as the details were worked out. Following the surrender, Johns rode out of the village, and pretty much out of the pages of history. What happened to Johns after the war?

Joshua O. Johns was a member of Company C, 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry. His compiled service record from the National Archives is really short. It states he joined the Battalion on December 21, 1863, at Orange Court House. He was present in September and October 1864 and November and December 1864. On April 9, 1865, Johns was paroled at Appomattox Court House.

It appears that Joshua Johns was born in Mississippi, and then enlisted on July 11, 1861, at Camp Perkins, Virginia, in Company E, 8th Louisiana Infantry. He was present or accounted for (sometimes sick) until January-February 1862, when he was "Detailed as Courier for Genl. Jackson." In August 1863, that detail changed to "Courier for General Ewell." Johns was reported present in September-October 1863. Was he back with the 8th Louisiana Infantry? The next card in his file states that on December 11, 1863, he was  "Transferred... to Capt. Taylor Co. C. Bat of S. G., and C. [Scouts, Guides, and Couriers]". Who is Captain Taylor? Yet another card, this time stating that he was 23 years old when he enlisted, that he was born in Mississippi, and living near Winnsboro, Louisiana, adds that he was "Transferred to Richardsons Batt. of Cavalry Dec 1863." Johns was captured on May 2, 1863, sent to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D. C., and paroled in June 10, 1863. It also appears that when he was captured, he was also wounded - "Flesh R. side of scalp battle minie..." On the hospital card it sates "Rank: Courier, Co. For Stonewall Jackson." Many believe he was with Jackson the night he was wounded.

The grave of Joshua O. Johns in Mississippi? 
Looking at the 1860 US census, there is a Joshua Johns, age 22, living with the R. J. Pricket family in Franklin County, Louisiana.  This Johns was born in Mississippi, is unmarried, an overseer, and quite wealthy: $2,400  in real estate and $13,475 in his personal estate (probably a slave owner, but I've not researched that out yet).

Looking at the 1870 census, there is Joshua O. Johns, Franklin County, Louisiana. He is 26 years old, a farmer with $100 real estate and $369 in his personal estate, and he is now married to Susannah E., who is 27 years old.

In 1880, it appears that Johns has returned to Mississippi. He is (I believe) listed as living in Meadville, Franklin County, age 47, and married to Sousanna Johns. He is listed as J. O. Johns, and as a farmer. There is a black man living with them as a servant. (First name Harry?, last name Beal.) The 1880 census states he was born in Mississippi, his father was born in Alabama, and his mother was born in Mississippi.

Rooting around on ancestry (I don't usually trust ancestry), I find a Joshua Oliver Johns, born 1834 in Wilkinson, Mississippi. His mother was Rebecca Harriet Wilkinson and his father was James Johns. Joshua married Susannah E. McDaniel.

Looking at newspapers, there was a J. O. Johns appointed the first sheriff of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1891. (Hattiesburg American January 31, 1982.) As an aside, there was a decision rendered by the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1883 - J. O. Johns v. John McDaniel. It seems that Johns was leasing property from McDaniels (in Franklin County) since 1867 and was later kicked off that property. (Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of Mississippi, Vol. 60, page 486-7). (It also appears this case first started in 1872)

I lose track of Joshua O. Jones about 1890 - no 1890 census, and I can't not find him in the 1900 census, or beyond. I also do not see a pension application for him. There is a J. O. Johns buried in the Oaklawn Cemetery in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The stone has no dates, and I cannot find a wife nearby.

So did Joshua O. Johns, private, Company C, 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry return to Mississippi after the war, get married, and lease land in Franklin County? Did he marry Susannah McDaniel, and then get into a legal battle with a member of the McDaniel family? Did Johns lose his land and move to Hattiesburg where he became chief of police? Is he buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Hattiesburg? Got any details you can add?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Who Rode with Lee at Appomattox?

Lee, Marshall, and Johns. 

   I'm not sure of the source of this scene that is floating around in my head. Maybe it is a painting, or some clip from a movie or show (Civil War Journal?). It shows General Lee at Appomattox, with an officer and courier in tow, leaving the McLean house. Lee we all recognize. But who were the others?

   The common story is that Lee was accompied by Col. Charles Marshall, of his staff, and Sgt. George W. Tucker, A. P. Hill's former chief of couriers. That is the way that Charles Marshall wrote the story many years after the war, and it is a story often repeated. Charles Marshall was present, and why shouldn't his account have credence? But maybe the years were catching up to Marshall when he wrote. There is no doubt that Lee was present, as was Marshall, but what about that courier?

   Marshall writes that "early on the morning of April 9, General Lee... directed me to come with him and go down on the Lynchburg road to meet General Grant... An orderly by the name of Tucker, a soldier from Maryland and one of the bravest men that ever fought,--he was with A. P. Hill when he was killed and brought Hill's horse off... accompanied us. The flag of truce was a white handkerchief, and Tucker road ahead of us carrying it." The three rode ahead, passing through the Confederate battle and skirmish lines. They eventually rode to the Federal skirmish line and halted. "As soon as Tucker was halted, General Lee directed me to go forward and seek the Federal commanding officer," Marshall wrote. For the next four paragraphs there is a discussion between Marshall and a couple of different Federal officers. After agreeing to a suspension of hostilities, Lee heard artillery, mounted, and rode  toward the sound of the guns. Arriving at the section of the lines where Fitz Lee was in command, Lee ordered them to cease firing.  Lee then retired to an apple orchard to await word from Grant. An hour later, word arrived that Grant was on his way. Marshall continues: "General Lee... at last called me and told me to get ready to go with him... I mounted my horse and we started off - General Lee, Colonel Babcock, Colonel Babcock's orderly, one of our orderlies, and myself." Notice that this time, Marshall does not use Tucker's name, simply, "one of our orderlies." (268)

   Freeman, in volume four of his biography of Lee, picks up this story. The party heading to see Grant is composed of Col. Walter Taylor, Charles Marshall, George Tucker, and Lee. This is based upon a letter that William H. Palmer wrote to Taylor on June 24, 1911. Palmer was on Hill's staff until the latter's death, and was now serving under Longstreet. (124)  Later that morning, while still waiting for word from Grant, Taylor was sent with a Federal Assistant Adjutant General with a message. When word arrived from Grant, according to Freeman, Lee, Marshall, and Tucker set off. (133, using Marshall as his reference.) Then, according to Freeman, Marshall and an orderly rode off to Appomattox to find a place suitable for a meeting. When the McLean house was selected, Marshall sent the orderly back to inform and guide Lee. (134) Eventually, Grant showed up, and the terms were worked out.

   Then Freeman turned to an account by George A. Forsyth, a Federal general and witness to the proceedings at Appomattox, who published his account in April 1898. Forsyth recalled seeing "a soldierly looking orderly in a tattered gray uniform, holding three horses..." (708) Eventually, Lee emerged from the McLean parlor. According to Forsyth, Lee, not seeing his horse, called out "Orderly! Orderly! "Here, General, here," was the quick response. The alert young soldier was holding the General's horse near the side of the house..." (710)  Forsyth never mentions the name of the "orderly," or courier.
McLean House 

   Was it Sgt. George W. Tucker? Probably not, or, probably not by the time they arrived at the court house. On April 14, 1865, the New York Daily Herald  ran an account of the surrender proceedings. This account was written and published thirty years before the others. According to this account, "General Lee was accompanied only by Colonel Marshall... at present an aid-de-camp on his staff, and Orderly Johns, who has served him in that capacity for fourteen months." There is only one member of the 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry with the last name of Johns: Joshua O. Johns.  While he did not officially join the 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry until December 1863, he was reportedly with Jackson, and wounded by the same volley that mortally wounded the General on May 3, 1863, at Chancellorsville. He also surrendered at Appomattox. Lewis B. Ellis, also a member of the 39th Battalion, wrote another account in 1876. In his article, Ellis is refuting the idea that Lee surrendered under an apple tree. Instead, Lee was in the apple orchard awaiting word from Grant. When word arrived, Lee "called for his horse, and attended by Col. W. H. Taylor and Special Courier Johns, rode away in the direction of Appomattox Court house. He returned in about two hours and told us he had surrendered. I was a courier on duty with him at the time." (The Coffeyville Weekly Journal March 11, 1876)

   My two cents’ worth on who rode with Lee: When the group started off the first time on the morning of April 9, 1865, the party consisted of Lee, Marshall, and Tucker. At some point after returning from the first attempt to meet Grant, Tucker is ordered away. On setting out a second time, Tucker is not present, and Johns carries the white flag through the lines. Marshall mentions Tucker by name in the first attempt, but does not in the second ride to Appomattox. We know that other officers were present, like Colonel Taylor, at various times, and it is likely that other couriers were milling around.

Sources: Maurice,  An Aide-De-Camp of Lee (The writings of Charles Marshall. The Appomattox piece was originally published in 1894)
Freeman, R. E. Lee, Volume 4 (1935)
Forsyth, Harper's Magazine, Volume 96, 1898
New York Daily Herald   April 14, 1865
The Coffeyville Weekly Journal March 11, 1876


Monday, September 10, 2018

Stonewall Jackson's Requiem


Attending church services was one of the activities Confederate soldiers could choose to break the monotony of their day-to-day lives. At the peak of the revivals in the Army of Northern Virginia (and to an extent, the Army of Tennessee), soldiers could attend services almost every evening (and probably twice on Sunday).  There were never enough chaplains or colporteurs to meet the needs of the soldiers. Truly, the harvest was great, and the workers few.

Not long ago, I began wondering what messages were being delivered about the time of Stonewall Jackson's mortal wounding. He was mistakenly shot by his own troops during the night of May 2, 1863. As the army was fighting the battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, there were no church services held in Confederate camps. Many of the chaplains were busy at various field hospitals. The next church service was held on May 10. We, of course, know that Jackson only had hours to live.

J. K. Hitner, a member of the Rockbridge Artillery, wrote a "Brief Compend[ium] of the Religious History of the Rockbridge Artillery." It appeared in Jones's Christ in the Camp: "It was the first quiet Sabbath after the battles [Chancellorsville and Second Fredericksburg]--Sabbath, May 10. The services were conducted by Rev. B. T. Lacy, who preached from the text, "All things work together for good to those that love God," etc.: Rom. viii. The attendance was very large--between 2,500 and 3,000--consisting of privates and officers of all grades, from General Lee down. I never witnessed such thoughtfulness and seriousness depicted on the face of any auditors. The preacher stated this was General Jackson's favorite text--then unfolded the doctrine and the peculiar comfort to be derived from it by those who were truly children of God. At the same time, the condition of General Jackson was very critical, and the men seemed to feel that much depended on his recovery. At the conclusion of the sermon, Mr. Lacy stated that it might be God's will to spare his life in answer to our prayers, and called upon all to join him in an earnest petition to the throne of grace that God would be pleased to spare him to us. I heard many broken utterances and ejaculations during the prayer, and some declared they tried to pray then, while they thought they had never tried to pray in earnest before. Deep and solemn earnestness appeared written on every countenance. At the conclusion, an impressive pause followed; then the preacher said a few words in application of the text--that if would be all for the best, whatever God would determine in reference to the event; and then the crowd quietly dispersed to their camps, ever to retain in their memories this impressive proceeding." (484)

Lexington Presbyterian Church
Jones adds that once the service concluded, Lee and Lacy met privately about Jackson's condition. Lacy had left Jackson's deathbed to lead the service. Lee inquired about Jackson's condition, and being told that Jackson would probably not live through the day, Lee exclaimed, "Oh! sir, he must not die. Surely God will not visit us with such a calamity. If I have ever prayed in my life I have pleaded with the Lord that Jackson might be spared to us." "And then his heart swelled with emotion too deep for utterance, and he turned away to weep like a child." (75-76)

Jedediah Hotchkiss, Jackson's topographical engineer, makes mention of the sermon in his diary, but did not seem to be present. However, he did attend service the following Sunday. Lacy was again present, and "preached the funeral sermon for General Jackson." Lacy's sermon was based on 2 Timothy 4:7-8: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Hotchkiss goes on to add: "The audience was large, but it looked strange not to see the earnest face of General Jackson there..."(Make me a Map of the Valley, 144, 146)

Francis Kennedy, chaplain of the 28th North Carolina Troops, also preached both on May 10 and May 17. Members of Lane's brigade, to which Kennedy belonged, had been the troops who mistakenly mortally wounded their beloved Stonewall Jackson. The pain they felt was undoubtedly as great as that expressed by Lee. On May 10, Kennedy selected Psalms 103:2 as his text: " Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:" The following Sunday, May 17th, he selected Ecclesiastes 8:11: "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Unfortunately, Kennedy, a Methodist, does not elaborate upon the passages.

Last Tribute of Respect - Mort Kunstler
Turning toward Jackson's "official" funerals, we can examine the passages used at services where Jackson's remains were present. At a private service inside the Virginia Governor's mansion on May 13, the Rev. Thomas V. Moore, pastor of Richmond's First Presbyterian Church, used Isaiah 2:22: "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" (Robertson, Stonewall Jackson, 758) Jackson's funeral train was soon on its way to the Shenandoah Valley. That evening, the train stopped in Lynchburg and a service was held in the First Presbyterian Church. Dr. James B. Ramsey officiated, and Miss Massey sang "Come, Ye Desolate." (Robertson, Stonewall Jackson, 759) On Thursday, the party boarded a canal boat and began traveling toward Lexington. On arriving, Jackson's remains were transported to the Virginia Military Institute and placed in his old classroom. On May 15, Jackson was taken to the Presbyterian Church, where Dr. William S. White preached on I Corinthians 15:26: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (Robertson, Stonewall Jackson, 761) Then, White read a letter that Jackson had written to him on the death of his son, killed fighting at Second Manassas: "The death of your noble son and my much esteemed friend... must have been a severe blow to you, yet we have the sweet assurance that, whilst we mourn his loss to the country, to the church, and to ourselves, all has been gained for him... That inconceivable glory to which we are looking forward is already his..." (Chambers, Stonewall Jackson, 2:457)

There are undoubtedly other passages used by other chaplains in the army. It would also be interesting to see what passages pastors of churches across the South were using on May 17. Did they mention the death of Jackson? Always something more to research....

(All Scripture passages used come from the Authorized Version[sometimes referred to as the King James Version].)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"A Little Touch of Stonewall in the Night"?


   One of the most powerful scenes in the plays of Shakespeare occurs in Henry V, in which Good King Harry ditches his kingly garments, throws on an old cloak, and walks among his soldiers on the eve of battle.  In disguise, he asks them their thoughts on victory and mere survival in the upcoming fight.  

   Did Stonewall Jackson ever do the same? Maybe....
   
Stonewall Jackson - Mort Kunstler 

   First, it is important to understand that generals were not all that accessible to their men. A soldier could just not wander up to Jackson, or Longstreet, or Hill, and sit down for a chat. Staff officers usually tried to shield their commanders from those around them. So, seeing Jackson or one of the others was a treat, something soldiers usually remembered. They also cheered their generals lustily when they did see them. Hence, during Jackson's march around Hooker's flank at Chancellorsville, Jackson's men were told not to cheer, lest the surprise be given away. But did Jackson ever steal into camp unawares?

   Recently, while working in the Library of Virginia, I came across a story. A Confederate soldier was sitting in the rain, at night, with compatriots, gazing longingly up at a house with light streaming through the windows. The soldier said something to the effect of, "I wish I was a general and out of the rain." Out of the darkness came another voice, "Boys, Jackson is right here with you." (Sorry, I did not copy the source.)

   I found another reference, this time from a Union soldier. While not complimentary, and written by a Union soldier, there might be some truth in the article. It appeared in the New York Times September 8, 1862: "Returning to the first field, mentioned above, the visitors were surrounded by a motley group of human beings, gaunt in their appearance, ill armed and clad, who eagerly questioned all who would listen to them about the affairs of the Government. Among the number was the guerrilla chief, Jackson, disguised in the habiliment of a private soldier. This was not the first disguise Jackson has donned to the nonce; for while returning towards Richmond from the pursuit of Gen. Banks, and at a time when he expected to be cut off by Gen. Shields, he disguised himself in citizen's attire, and actually performed the duties of a wagon-master for several days, to avoid being recognized if taken prisoner. This fact I have from one of our officers who was a prisoner, and with him at the time. Nearly all of the rebel officers present wore the uniform of private soldiers, and wore no mark whatever to show their rank."

   This passage has some interesting items to unpack. Many of the Confederate high command left their dress uniforms back in the wagons. A. P. Hill had his famous red battle shirt, R. E. Lee was often spotted wearing a colonel's uniform. Bryan Grimes's coat had no rank on it at all. Flipping through Echoes of Glory: Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy on can see several short depot-style jackets worn by company and field grade officers. It is not so much of a disguise that these officers were wearing, but simple, fabric-saving jackets that preserved their dress uniforms for special occasions, much as modern military fatigues are worn. Furthermore, I do not believe Jackson donned civilian garb and attempted to pass off as a teamster. Jackson was not Grant when it came to horsemanship. Many have written that he always rode looking like he was getting ready to fall out of the saddle at any moment. Some even thought he was under the influence of strong drink because he was such a poor rider.

   There are other accounts (fanticiful?) of Jackson donning other clothes and stealing into the Federal lines. Another story came from a hospital matron near Frederick, Maryland. She reported being visited by a civilian with a "keen eye seeming to take in everything." She checked, and reported he was "Dr. George," a veteran of the Crimean War. However, she believed Dr. George was really Stonewall Jackson "In disguise," who often went into Federal camps "and so acquaints himself with what is going on." (Greene, Whatever you Resolve to Be, xv)

   There are probably other accounts out there of Jackson moving among the troops or even the enemy wearing some sort of disguise. Many probably mistook his simple, shabby dress (at least until he was presented a new uniform by J. E. B. Stuart) as an attempt to blend in. He probably could have cared less.  As his legend took on a life of its own, whatever the true accounts were, they became embellished until perhaps, like Prince Hal, Stonewall, and the truth of his actions, were blurred with fiction.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Does "little history" matter?

Toe River Valley during the War

   This was the topic of my facebook live program this past Sunday evening: does "little history'"matter? Lately, I've been tracing this story from a neighboring county. As the local story goes, during the war, a group of "Indians" crossed over the Tennessee border into the Toe River Valley area of North Carolina. Their mission was to look for and detain deserters. They were camped on the Nolichucky River, or, along the North Toe River.

   So, this group was sent into the Toe River Valley to look for deserters (and there were a fair number of deserters and dissidents hiding out in the area). As the story goes, someone alerted the local home guard that a group of Union soldiers was camped in the area. The home guard took up a position and attacked the camp, killing three and mortally wounding four. One version of the story has dead bodies floating down the Nolichucky River. Another story has the Natives being buried by local people.

   In the existing literature, I see nothing to back up any of this story: nothing in Volume 16 of the North Carolina Troop book series, nothing in Crow's Storm in the Mountains, nothing in period letters or newspaper accounts. It could be that this story is simply folklore, a ghost story. Of course, I often state that in every piece of folklore resides some piece of truth.

Thomas's Legion fighting the 14th Illinois in 1864
   We know that at times, the Cherokee of Thomas's Legion roamed the mountainsides. In January 1863, following the salt raid in the town of Marshall, North Carolina, portions of Thomas's command were sent with other Confederate troops to the Shelton Laurel area to respond to the events in Marshall. At the same time, Thomas himself was ordered to take "200 whites and Indians of his legion, is operating in Madison, and will go into Haywood Jackson, and Cherokee Counties, North Carolina, and Clay County, Georgia, with orders to arrest all deserters and recusant conscripts and all tories who have been engaged in unlawful practices on the Tennessee line of the mountains...."   (OR ser 1, vol. 18, 810-811.) Dan Ellis, the Union guide, reported in May 1863 that Carter County was full of Indians. (Ellis, Thrilling Adventures, 147) Part of Thomas's Legion was back in the Laurel community of Madison County in January 1864, looking for outliers and deserters. (NC Troops, Volume 16, 145-146) These stories alone place the Cherokee right on the border of the Toe River Valley.

   Will I ever be able to prove this story? Maybe... Probably not... But back to my original question: does little history matter? This is not Gettysburg, or Chickamauga. A huge percent of those reading this will have never heard of this story, and many of you will not even be familiar with the Toe River Valley.  For those who might have been killed, and their families back at home, this little piece of the war was just as important in their lives as Gettysburg or Chickamauga, a place many of them never heard of until some story of those great battles filtered back into their communities.


   To answer my own question, yes, "little history" does matter.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Who rode with Venable to find Stuart at Gettysburg?


Veterans left us a great deal of information about the events in which they participated during the war. At times though, they skipped over small details that seem to haunt us as we try to tell their stories. Such is the case of Charles Venable, and the search for Gen. J. E. B. Stuart on July 2, 1863.

Charles Venable 
A brief summary: Stuart is off riding around the Army of the Potomac. Stuart is supposed to link up with Gen. Richard Ewell, but cannot quite find him.  So, Stuart sends Andrew R. Venable to look for Ewell.

In 1907, Venable writes Col. John S. Mosby about the events: "Dear Sir: On the Gettysburg campaign General Stuart's command arrived at Dover, Penn., during the night of June 30th, 1863, where, learning that General Early's command was marching towards Gettysburg, I was directed by General Stuart to take a detachment of thirty mounted men and go in the direction pursued by General Early, to learn the purpose of General Lee. I left Dover before daylight of July 1 with the detachment of thirty men and, after skirmishing all day with a regiment which was pursing us from Dover, we overtook General Early about 4 P.m., just approaching Gettysburg, where upon my arrival I reported to General Lee, and found him on the hill west of Gettysburg. On making my report, he ordered a squadron of cavalry to go in search of General Stuart at once." (Mosby, Stuart's Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign, 184-185)

JEB Stuart
So just which squadron of cavalry rode with Venable to find Stuart? When Stuart sets out on his raid, he takes three brigades of cavalry with him (W. H. F. Lee's brigades, under John Chambliss; Fitzhugh Lee's brigade, and Wade Hampton's brigade). Robert E. Lee is left with four cavalry brigades (John D. Imboden's brigade, Albert G. Jenkins' brigade, Beverly Robertson's brigade, and Grumble Jones' brigade). Lee has 12 regiments, plus McNeill's Rangers, at his disposal. Of course, we know that Lee does not utilize the cavalry he has at hand. That's why Heth's men blindly stumble into the Federals at Gettysburg on June 30/July 1.

Back to my question: just who does Lee send with Venable? Could it be portions of the 39th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry? Maybe. Eric Wittenberg and J. D. Petruzzi, in their book Plenty of Blame to Go Around advance that as a possibility (good read, by the way). However, no one in the 39th Battalion actually says that. Records are sparse. Franklin Walters writes his company was on picket duty behind the lines. Sergeant Martin V. Gander (Company C) recalled that he "placed four guards around the old stone house on the hill, the personal headquarters of Gen. Lee the evening of July 1, 1863." Members of Company A reported that they were detailed to accompany the engineers as they mapped the surrounding roads. How many men are even in a squadron? Four? Two companies?


Was it a part of Mosby's command? Or the Comanches? Maybe in this morass of books and articles on my desk there is an answer...

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Peering into the headquarters of the ANV




Lee's bed, table, and camp chest. (Museum of the Confederacy) 
   For several weeks, I was reading deeply into the history of the cavalry branch of the Army of Northern Virginia. I am writing a history of a cavalry battalion attached to that command. However, I have discovered that my focus needed to shift. Lately, I've been reading more on the headquarters staff of the ANV. They were the men who came into daily contact with the 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry.  There are a couple of good books on staff operations: Bartholomees's Buff Facings and Gilt Buttons comes to mind. Most of my reading has been more focused on the letters of staff officers - Walter Taylor, Thomas Goree, and Jedediah Hotchkiss, just to name a few.

   Given the number of men involved in the Army of Northern Virginia, there are surprisingly few accounts of what those headquarters actually looked like. Well, maybe it is not that surprising. The common soldier in the ranks, and his regimental or brigade commander, would seldom see the headquarters complex. They were busy with their daily routines, and Lee's staff went to great lengths to keep Lee from their gaze. We are left with a few descriptions of what the ANV headquarters looked like.

   In late 1862, between the Maryland Campaign and the battle of Fredericksburg, a British observer painted this picture of HQ. It originally appears in Blackwood's monthly, and at the first of 1863, in several British newspapers:
   "Lee's head-quarters (at Winchester) consisted of about seven or eight pole tents, pitched with their backs to a stake fence, upon a piece of ground so rocky that it was unpleasant to ride over it: its only recommendation being a little stream of good water which flowed close by the general's tents. In front of the tents were some three or four wheeled wagons, drawn up without any regularity, and a number of horses roamed loose about the field. The servants, who were of course slaves, and the mounted soldiers called 'couriers,' who always accompany each general of division in the field, were unprovided with tents, and slept in or under the wagons... The staff are crowded together two or three in a tent; none of them are allowed to carry more baggage than a small box each, and his own kit is but very little larger. Each one who approaches him does so with marked respect, although there is none of that bowing and flourishing of forage caps which occurs in the presence of European generals..." (Birmingham Daily Post January 1, 1863)

Shadow of '64 (John Paul Strain) 
Walter Taylor, one of Lee's most trusted staff officers, left this description of headquarters after the battle of Fredericksburg, in his biography of Lee, published in 1906: "The headquarters camp of General Lee was never of such a character as to proclaim its importance. An unpretentious arrangement of five or six army-tens, one or two wagons for transporting equipage and personal effects, with no display of bunting, and no parade of sentinels or guards, only a few orderlies, was all there was of it. General Lee persistently refused to occupy a house, and was content with an ordinary wall-tent, but little, if any, larger than those about it." (Taylor,  General Lee, his campaigns in Virginia, 156)

   Francis Dawson, a member of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's staff, disagreed with Taylor about the lack of bunting being displayed. He wrote after the war that there "was no pomp or circumstance about [Lee's] headquarters, and no sign of rank of the occupant, other than the Confederate flag displayed in front of the tent of Colonel Taylor."

   John Esten Cooke, in his biography of General Lee, wrote that ANV headquarters in the fall and winter of 1863, was "in a wood on the southern slope of the spur called Clarke's Mountain, a few miles east of Orange Court House. . . . Here his tents had been pitched, in a cleared space amid pines and cedars; and the ingenuity of the 'couriers,' as messengers and orderlies were called in the Southern army, had fashioned alleys and walks leading to the various tents, the tent of the commanding general occupying the centre." (Cooke, A Life of Gen. Robert E. Lee, 371)

   An unknown newspaper correspondent wrote sometime in the fall of the 1863: "I rode over yesterday to Gen. Lee's headquarters, which consisted of cloth tents pitched in a grove of oaks, surrounding an old meeting house. I found Gen. Lee sitting by a log fire at the mouth of his tent, with one of his aides, enjoying a social conversation over a late Federal newspaper." (The Times-Picayune November 26, 1863 [originally from the Raleigh Progress])

   There are many cases of Lee being offered a house to use. Early in the war, he often refused. Even the famous Lee's Headquarters House at Gettysburg appears only to have been used for meetings. Lee's tent was pitched across the street. However, after Gettysburg, when Lee's health began to decline, he did use a house from time to time.

Lee's HQ in Petersburg 
   At times, there appears to not even be a tent. At Appomattox, as Lee met with Longstreet, Gordon, and Fitzhugh Lee, a soldier recalled that "Lee's headquarters were then [in] a little field close by the edge of a piece of woods; no house was near, nor were the headquarters tents pitched. The army commanders bivouacked in the open air. There was a large fire of long logs burning." (Staunton Spectator November 9, 1887) Another soldier, bearing a dispatch to Lee's Appomattox Headquarters, wrote: "Finally we found two ambulances and two rail fires. Gen. Longstreet was at the first one... At the next fire was Gen. R. E. Lee lying down on an oil cloth and a blanket. I do not know whether he was asleep or not, but at our approach he rose to a sitting posture, and the firelight fell on his face." (The Owensboro Messenger August 15, 1885)

   Are there other accounts of Lee's headquarters out there? Probably. I'm continuing to search...