Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Calling for North Carolina's Troops

Leroy Pope Walker,
Confederacy Secretary of War
For the past few days, I've been reading Denis Peterson's Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries (2016). Peterson does a good job detailing the various cabinet officers’ positions, and covering the men who filled those offices. There were several of these men about whom I really did not know much. However, I have now twice come across sections that I feel are wrong. The first was dealing with the last days of the Confederate government in Charlotte. I will not go into the details, since I have written two books on the subject.

The second deals with this statement: "After the Confederate peace commission failed to convince Lincoln to negotiate and in preparation for possible conflict over the fort [Sumter], Walker called on each of the seven states that made up the original Confederacy to supply 3,000 volunteers to meet any military necessity, for a total of 21,000..... Walker immediately ran up against the doctrine of states' rights. Each state wanted its troops to defend their own state... North Carolina's concerns were Forts Hatteras and Clark. Those states did not like the idea of having their troops sent to defend other states." (134)

Two things I see wrong here. 1): North Carolina was not one of the original seven seceding states. It was the last, not leaving the Union until May 20, 1861. The earliest call for troops that I can find is on March 9, 1861. Walker asked for troops from Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia (No South Carolina. See Official Records, Series IV, vol. 1, 135). Walker made a second call for troops on April 16, 1861, this time mentioning the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi South Carolina, Texas, and Florida. There is no mention of North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, or Arkansas - they had not left the Union! (Official Records, Series IV, vol. 1, 221-222.)

2): Peterson writes that North Carolina could not send troops because they were concerned with Forts Hatteras and Clark. Construction of these facilities does not begin until North Carolina leaves the Union on May 20, 1861. But, North Carolina is sending troops. On May 17, 1861 (three days before secession), Governor Clark telegraphs Walker, requesting him to accept four regiments of 12-month men. Walker sends word back to Clark, directing that the regiments be sent to Richmond. The 1st North Carolina Volunteers transfers to Virginia between May 16 and May 21. The 2nd North Carolina Volunteers leaves for Richmond on May 22, 1861, the 3rd North Carolina Volunteers leaves for Suffolk, Virginia, on May 29, and the 4th North Carolina Volunteers leaves for Suffolk on June 11. This is all about the same time that the construction of Forts Hatters and Clark begins. While North Carolina would want some of these troops back to defend their state in late 1861 and early 1862 (battle of New Bern), I would argue that the Tar Heel state does not have a problem sending troops to join the regular Confederate army.

I'm not one-hundred percent sure, but I think Peterson is relying upon some older, secondary sources. For the Charlotte problems, he cites Patrick's Jefferson Davis and His General, published in 1944. For the above citation, it is Harris's bio on Walker, published in 1962.

No printed text is perfect, or, as I often say, I am only as good as the material that I find. However, it makes me wonder what I am not catching, because I am not as well read in the lives of people like Walker, or Reagan, or Benjamin. 

No comments: