Monday, September 20, 2021

Reburying Confederates

    This past weekend, the decade-long task of disinterring Nathan Bedford Forrest from a park in Memphis and reburying him in Columbia, Tennessee, came to a close. Some people view this as a good thing: placing the famed Confederate cavalry general in a spot where people actually care. Others view this as a dangerous precedent. If one Confederate can be disinterred and moved, then how about the others? While this post does not usually support the idea of moving the remains of old soldiers from their resting spots, it has actually happened several times before.

   Forrest, following the war, returned to Tennessee, became president of a railroad, and then died in October 1877. He was originally buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis. Later, the remains of both he and his wife were interred under an equestrian statue in Forrest Park. In September 2021, their remains were reinterred at Elm Springs in Columbia, Tennessee.

   Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded by his own soldiers on the night of May 2, 1863, during the fighting near Chancellorsville, Virginia. He lingered for several days before dying at Guinea Station on May 10. His body was transported to Lexington, Virginia, where he was interred in a family plot in the Presbyterian Cemetery. Later, his remains and those of his wife were removed to a different plot in the cemetery and reinterred under a monument bearing his likeness. The Presbyterian Cemetery was renamed the Stonewall Jackson Cemetery in 1949, and then the Oak Grove Cemetery in 2020.

   Ambrose Powell Hill must be one of the most well- traveled post-mortem generals. Following his death near Petersburg, Virginia, on April 2, 1865, Hill was originally interred in the old Winston Family Cemetery near Coalfield, Chesterfield County. In 1867, Hill’s remains were moved to Hollywood Cemetery. In June 1891, the remains were again moved, this time to the intersection of Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road. Thanks to a recent ruling by the Richmond City Council, it appears that Hill is going to be moved once again, possibly to Culpeper, Virginia.

   Patrick Cleburne, Hiram Granbury, and Otho Strahl were all Confederate generals killed at the battle of Franklin. All three were originally interred in the potter’s field at Rose Hill in Columbia, Tennessee. Shortly thereafter,  they were removed to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ashwood, Tennessee. Many years later, all three were exhumed and reburied in different cemeteries. Patrick Cleburne was reburied in Helena, Arkansas. Otho Strahl was reburied in Dyersburg, Tennessee. Hiram Granbury was reburied in Granbury, Texas.

   Albert Sidney Johnston, killed in April 1862 at the battle of Shiloh, was originally interred in New Orleans. In January 1867, he was buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas.

   William Barksdale was mortally wounded in the fighting on July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg. He died the following day and was buried in the yard of the Hummelbaugh House. In January 1867, Barksdale was reburied in the Greenwood Cemetery, Jackson, Mississippi.

   Richard Garnett was killed during killed in a skirmish at Corrick’s Ford, Virginia (now West Virginia) on July 13, 1861. He was originally interred in Baltimore, Maryland. He was later reinterred next to his wife and a child in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.

Jefferson Davis reburial in Richmond, 1893. (The Valentine)

   It is not only some generals who have been reburied. Confederate president Jefferson Davis died in New Orleans on December 6, 1889. His body was laid to rest in a vault in Metairie Cemetery. After many requests, his widow agreed to allow his remains to be reinterred in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. He was reburied there in 1893.

   Confederate Senator Landon Carter Haynes passed away in Memphis on February 17, 1875. He was originally buried in Elmwood Cemetery, but later (1902) his son had those remains removed to Jackson Cemetery, Jackson, Tennessee, where he lies in an unmarked grave.

   There are doubtless many others whose remains have been moved over the years, such as the eight members of the crew of the C.S.S. Hunley who were reburied in the Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2004. It would be nice to know how many of the 425 Confederate generals have been moved at least once. Of course, there are a handful whose current resting places are still a mystery anyway. We’ll save that for another post.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Letitia Tyler and the first Confederate flag

   On March 4, 1861, Miss Letitia Christian Tyler was escorted to the top of the capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama. She was nineteen years old. Her grandfather was John Tyler, former president of the United States. Her father would serve as Regis
ter of the Confederate Treasury. Letitia was actually born in the White House while her grandfather was president and her father was serving as his private secretary. She was at the Alabama capitol building to raise the first Confederate flag.

Jefferson Davis in Montgomery

   The delegates meeting in Montgomery recognized quite early that the new nation needed a new flag. And they wanted one by the inauguration of the new provisional president, Jefferson Davis. On February 9, the delegates appointed a committee to select a flag. Some felt that the flag should be as much like the Stars and Stripes as possible. Walter Brooke, from Mississippi, introduced a resolution to adopt such a flag. There was so much opposition to the proposal that it was withdrawn. On March 4, the committee made its recommendations for the new flag. The committee reported that “A new flag should be simple, readily made, and, above all, capable of being made in bunting. It should be different from the flag of any other country, place, or people.” The new flag “shall consist of a red field with a white space extending horizontally through the center, and equal in width to one-third the width of the flag. The red space above and below to be of the same width as the white. The union blue extending down through the white space and stopping at the lower red space. In the center of the union a circle of white stars corresponding in number with the States in the Confederacy.”[1] The report was adopted and the manufacture of the first flag turned over to the “Sewing Establishment of the Messrs. Cowles, Market street,” in Montgomery.[2]

   Writing many years after the war, and confessing that “many of the details of the event” had faded from her memory, Letitia Tyler recalled “ascending the stairs that led to the dome of the building and that I was escorted by Hon. Hon. Alex B. Clitherall, one of the Confederate officials. Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Taylor and several other persons accompanied us to the top of the Capitol. Below us were vast throngs of people, who were watching and waiting for the signal to unfurl the flag of the new nation. On reaching the base of the dome I found the flag ready, and the cord was handed to me. Then I began to pull it, and up climbed the flag to the top of the pole and floated out boldly on the stiff March wind. The hundreds of people below us sent up a mighty shout. Cannon roared out a salute, and my heart beat with wild joy and excitement.”[3]

   Letitia C. Tyler never married. Her parents were, in fact, living in Pennsylvania at the time, and she was visiting with friends who lived near Montgomery when she was asked, by Jefferson Davis, to raise the new national flag. It is assumed that she moved to Richmond after her family arrived from Pennsylvania. After the war, the family moved to Montgomery where Robert edited the Montgomery Advertiser. Letitia C. Tyler died in Montgomery on July 22, 1924, and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.



[1] Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States, I:101-102.

[2] Montgomery Weekly Mail, March 8, 1861.

[3] Confederate Veteran, 24:199.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Guarding Prisoners During the Gettysburg Campaign

   The June 1863 battle of Winchester was a resounding Confederate victory and a good start to the Gettysburg campaign. Confederate forces under Richard Ewell were assigned the job of capturing or pushing out the 6,900 Federals garrisoning in and around Winchester, Virginia. The Federal force was under the command of Gen. Robert Milroy. One historian writes that the Federal soldiers, largely from Ohio and West Virginia, “had done little since their enlistments but guard duty on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and their fortifications were badly suited to resist a determined attack.”[1] 

Richard Ewell 

   Milroy believed that the gathering Confederate forces south of him were merely staging for a cavalry raid. When news arrived that a large Confederate force had near by, it was really too late to escape. The Confederates broke through the outer defenses on the evening of June 14, and Milroy ordered a retreat that began at 2:00 am the next morning. Four miles from Winchester, Milroy ran into Confederate forces at Stephenson’s Depot. It was an “ambush cleverly laid by Ewell.”[2] Leading the ambush were the three brigades under Allegheny Johnson. After three failed attempts to break through the Confederate lines, Milroy ordered his regiments  to each “leave to look out for itself, and what had once been Milroy’s command broke up in desperately fleeing fragments.”[3]

   Based upon returns from the Federal regiment, the loses were approximately 3,856 captured, although it is unclear just who was captured in Winchester and who was captured at Stephenson’s Depot. The heaviest-hit were the 67th Pennsylvania Infantry, losing 714 men, the 18th Connecticut, with 513 men captured, and the 123rd Ohio, losing 445 men captured.[4]

   Following the battle, the prisoners were marched to the recently captured Federal forts. It would take several days to move all of the prisoners to Richmond. On June 16, captured Federals began to make the trip to Richmond. They, with their guards, would travel over 200 miles, part of it on foot, and part via rails. The 58th Virginia and the 54th North Carolina were assigned the task of escorting the prisoners. Colonel Francis H. Board, 58th Virginia, addressed the guards: “Men, these Yankees have fallen into our hands by the fortune of war. I want them treated like gentlemen. If I hear of any insults or abuse, it will be punished.” The men would walk from Winchester to Staunton, where they boarded the cars to Richmond. According to one Federal, it took six days, from June 18 to June 24, to reach Staunton.[5]

   The Federals often had harsh words about their captors and the citizens they met. The chaplain of the 12th Pennsylvania Cavalry complained that turnpike seemed to burn and blister his feet. “Half-clad, many shoeless and hatless and unfed, the cavalcade was a sorrowful one. The sufferings of the trip I cannot express. Nothing to eat but what we begged or bought off citizens who hated us intensely, shut their doors in our face, and from appearances would have been far better pleased with a visit from even his Satanic majesty himself. Indeed, unless the guard had [not] interfered in our behalf, we should have fared very badly.”[6] A captain in the 123rd Ohio was even harsher, writing that during the march to Staunton, “we were necessitated, by our unfortunate condition as prisoners of war, to submit to the most contemptible treatment, and outrageous insults, that an enraged and diabolical enemy could heap upon us. This detestable treatment was not confined, neither was it most rampant among the soldier guards; but the citizens outrivaled even the soldiers in the exhibition of hate and virulence. They seemed to take great intense delight in hurling their anathemas upon us with unmitigated fury, such as ‘d----d Yankees,’ Milroy’s thieves and robbers,’ ‘black abolitionists,’ ‘every one of you, out to be hung,’ &c. &c.” Of course, some vitriol might be expected. But at one point, the colonel of the 58th Virginia asked if their were any musicians among the Federals captives. When the answer was yes, he ordered them to the front, provided them with a fife and drum, and allowed them to play what ever airs they wanted, which included “Yankee Doodle” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”[7]

   David Parker, 54th North Carolina, was one of those detailed to guard the prisoners. He wrote home that his column contained 2,200 Federal prisoners. “We had to march ninety two miles by land to Stanton. It took us five days. . . I tell you that we have had a hard time getting them here [Richmond]. We scarcely got to sleep any on the road. We had to stand guard two hours and only sleep two hours through the night and then march hard the next day.” On arriving in Staunton, the prisoners were placed in the cars, fifty per car. The guards were likewise divided up. Parker was assigned to continue the trip on to Richmond. “They then detailed twenty eight out of our regt to guard seven hundred of them to Richmond. We left Staunton a Tuesday evening about half an hour by sun and landed here the next evening.”[8] The Federal officers were sent to Libby Prison, while the enlisted men were sent to first to Castle Thunder, and then to Belle Island.

   The almost 4,000 men captured during the second battle of Winchester are not often counted as Confederates captured during the Gettysburg campaign. As Gettysburg concluded, General Lee placed “several thousand” Federal prisoners in charge of Maj. Gen. George Pickett, with orders to escort these men back to Virginia.[9] Kent Masterson Brown places the number at 4,000.[10] Stephen Sears places the number at 3,800.[11] If coupled with the 1,300 that Lee had paroled, and the couple of hundred that JEB Stuart had captured and paroled, the number of Federal soldiers captured during the Gettysburg  campaign probably came close to 10,000.

   If you are interested in this part of the Gettysburg Campaign, let me highly recommend The Second
Battle of Winchester: The Confederate Victory that Opened the Door to Gettysburg
(Savas Beatie, 2016) by Eric J. Wittenberg and Scot L. Mingus, Jr. It is a fantastic book at this overlooked part of the history of the war.



[1] Guelzo, Gettysburg, 60.

[2] Coddington, Gettysburg, 89.

[3] Guelzo, Gettysburg, 62.

[4] ORs, Vol. 27, pt.  2, 53.

[5] Wittenburg and Mingus, The Second Battle of Winchester, 379.

[6] Wittenburg and Mingus, The Second Battle of Winchester, 385.

[7] Wittenburg and Mingus, The Second Battle of Winchester, 382-383.

[8] Henry, Pen in Hand, 91.

[9] Hess, Pickett’s Charge, 354.

[10] Brown, Retreat from Gettysburg, 177.

[11] Sears, Gettysburg, 479.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

How tall were Confederate generals?

 


 Have you ever noticed the W.B. Matthews lithograph of Confederate generals published in 1907? There stands Lee surrounded by some of the Confederacy’s best generals: Ewell, Bragg, Hampton, A.P. Hill, Joe Johnston, and many others. All the generals are about the same height, except Lee, who is a couple of inches taller than the others.  But how tall were they really? Was Lee really taller than all the others?  Here is a brief look. For some generals, they are simply described as being of medium height in their biographies, probably around five feet eight inches. Those who did not have an exact height listed are not included in this list. (For example, Earl Van Dorn is described as “About medium height,” and he is not included.)[1]

 

Who was over six feet tall?

James Longstreet, Lee’s Old War House, was an astounding six feet, two inches.[2]

Nathan Bedford Forrest was described as around six feet or six feet two inches tall.[3]

Wade Hampton, considered a “giant,” also came in at six feet.[4]

John C. Breckinridge, both general and cabinet member, stood six feet, two inches.[5]

James B. Gordon was thought to be between six feet three or four inches.[6]

Micah Jenkins was six feet two inches.[7]

Stephen D. Lee stood six feet tall.[8]

Collett Leventhopre, British born, “stood nearly six and one-half feet in height.”[9]

John H. Morgan “nearly six feet in height.”[10]

William N. Pendleton “was fully six feet in height.”[11]

Matt Ransom “stood a little over six feet in height.”[12]

Henry Sibley “Lean six feet.”[13]

Albert Sidney Johnson “was six feet and an inch in height”.[14]

John B. Magruder came in at six foot four inches.[15]

Robert F. Hoke – “Nearly six feet.”[16]

 

Who was a little taller than average, say between five feet ten and eleven inches?

Robert E. Lee was considered quite tall for the time, coming in at five feet ten and a half or five foot eleven inches tall.[17]

Stonewall Jackson was taller than Lee, “a little over five feet eleven inches.”[18]

Braxton Bragg, considered the most-hated man in the Confederacy, was five feet, ten inches in height.[19]

E. Kirby Smith was five feet, ten inches in height.[20]

Ambrose Powell Hill came in at five feet ten inches.[21]

J.E.B. Stuart was reported as five feet, ten inches tall.[22]

Patrick Cleburne stood about five foot, ten inches.[23]

Basil Duke was described as being five feet ten inches.[24]

Henry A. Wise was recorded as “five feet eleven inches.”[25]

 

Who was average?

Joseph E. Johnston was considered “of medium height: about five foot seven.”[26]

P.G.T. Beauregard “was five feet seven inches in height.”[27]

Richard Ewell was either five feet eight inches or five feet ten and one-half inches tall.[28]

Rowell Ripley “was five feet eight inches tall.”[29]

 

 

Who was below average?

Joseph Wheeler was considered “Small, only five feet, five inches tall…”[30]

Daniel Harvey Hill “was small in stature, barely five feet tall…”[31]

John B. Gordon was but five feet two inches. [32]

Thomas C. Hindman was “just barely five feet tall.”[33]

William Mahone was five feet five inches.[34]

Dabney Maury – five feet three inches.[35]

 

 



[1] Hartje, Van Dorn, 60.

[2] Wert, General James Longstreet, 24.

[3] Hurst, Nathan Bedford Forrest, 261; Wyeth, Life of Nathan Bedford Forrest, 628.

[4] Andrew, Wade Hampton, 28.

[5] Davis, Breckinridge,

[6] Hartley,  Stuart’s Tarheels, 417n.3.

[7] Fox, General Micah Jenkins and the Palmetto Sharpshooter

[8] Hattaway, General Stephen D. Lee

[9] Cole, Collett Leventhorpe, 238.

[10] Ramage, Rebel Raider

[11] Lee, Memoirs of William Nelson Pendleton, 10.

[12] Marlow, Matt W. Ransom, 17.

[13] Gilman, Henry Hastings Sibley, 20.

[14] Johnson, The Life of Albert Sidney Johnson, 72.

[15] Casdorph, Prince John Magruder, 2.

[16] Barefoot, General Robert F. Hoke, 76.

[17] Blount, Robert E. Lee: A Life, 170.

[18] Smith, Stonewall Jackson’s Little Sorrel, 40.

[19] Martin, General Braxton Bragg, 9.

[20] Parks, General Edmund Kirby Smith, 93.

[21] Hassler, A.P. Hill, 3.

[22] Pavlovsky, Riding in Circles, 559.

[23] Nash, Biographical Sketches of Pat Cleburne, 142.

[24] Matthews, Basil Wilson Duke, CSA, 165.

[25] Wise, The Life of Henry A. Wise, 38.

[26] Symonds, Joseph E. Johnston, 10.

[27] Williams, P.G.T. Beauregard, 51.

[28] Pfanz, Richard S. Ewell, 552n.30.

[29] Bennett, Resolute Rebel.

[30] Martin, General Braxton Bragg, 104.

[31] Martin, General Braxton Bragg, 270.

[32] Tankersley, John B. Gordon, 212.

[33] Neal, The Lion of the South, 33.

[34] Blake, William Mahone of Virginia, 271.

[35] Waugh, The Class of 1846, 64.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Guarding Confederate parolees at Camp Lee

In the past, I’ve referenced the small book Pen in Hand: David Parker Civil War Letters, edited by Riley Henry. Parker served in the 54th North Carolina Troops. (You can check out the other post here.) Recently, while re-reading this set of letters, I came across another interesting reference. Sometime around September 21, 1862, Company B, 54th North Carolina, was sent to Camp Lee to do garrison duty. On September 25, Parker writes that they are assigned to “gard prisoners.”[1] 

Harper's Weekly, August 9, 1862. 

First, a little about Camp Lee: organized as a fairgrounds prior to the war, Camp Lee was named in honor of Richard “Light Horse” Harry Lee in 1860. Camp Lee was a sixty-three-acre site dedicated to training Confederate soldiers. Jackson had marched the Virginia Military Institute cadets there in April 1861; William Gilham, who wrote an infantry manual, was the first camp commander; the grounds contained a hospital, quartermaster and commissary shops and rooms for surgeons and drill masters. It was also the site of executions for spies and deserters. Tens of thousands of volunteers and conscripts passed through the area during the four years of the war.[2]

It appears that Parker’s company was stationed at Camp Lee until the end of November 1862. In a letter written on October 1, Parker writes that he is not guarding Federal prisoners, but Confederates. “We are here garding paroled prisoners that has been taken by the north and paroled and sent here to be exchanged and thare has several run away and went home so we have the rest to guard.”[3]

An article in August in the Richmond Whig, making mention of a camp visit, tells readers that “A number of tents occupied by artillery companies, conscripts, and exchanged prisoners are scattered over the grounds.” The “prisoners” made mention of by Parker were probably part of a group of 20 men that arrived at Aiken’s Landing, on the James River, on September 28.[4]

But why guard Confederate soldiers? Why even put them in a camp? Why not send them to their respective regiments? All great questions. Usually, the parolees went into a camp until the “paperwork” was finished. Each former prisoner of war had to be swapped for a Federal prisoner of the same rank. Or, a certain number of privates could be swapped for an officer. While the former prisoners might be paroled, they were not officially declared exchanged until the paperwork was finished. They were not allowed to return to their regiments to take up their arms until the process was complete. The Confederate government needed a place to keep these soldiers, and Camp Lee was the spot in the east, not far from Aiken’s Landing on the James River. Pvt. Heglar P. Summit, Company C, 28th North Carolina Troops, was captured and confined in a Federal prison on September 14, 1862. He was paroled and transferred to Aiken’s Landing on September 27, 1862, but was not declared exchanged until November 10, 1862.[5] If the soldier was well, then he could be returned to his regiment once the paperwork was finished. If he was sick, then he could be sent home on furlough. Why were Confederate soldiers, in the case of David Parker, his entire company, sent to guard fellow Confederate soldiers? Parker answers this question for us: several had already “run away” and headed for home. Once at home, they were hard  to get back in the army.

While there are a lot of books about Richmond (check out this post), there seems to be only scattered information about Camp Lee. Hopefully, this post will add a little information to the mix.



[1] Riley, Pen in Hand, 33.

[2] Burns, Curiosities of the Confederate Capital, 54-64.

[3] Riley, Pen in Hand, 39.

[4] Richmond Whig, August 12, 1862, September 29, 1862.

[5] Jordan, NC Troops, 8:151.