Saturday, March 27, 2021

Site Visit Saturday: Jefferson Davis’s Flight South, Fort Mill, SC


   For a week, Jefferson Davis and the Confederate cabinet had called Charlotte, North Carolina, home. Numerous meetings had taken place, including discussions about the ongoing negotiations between Confederate general Joseph E. Johnston and Union general William T. Sherman. If the negotiations did not favor the Confederates, then Davis directed Johnston to move his army towards Charlotte. The plan was to move toward the Trans-Mississippi department, to Texas, and continue the war.  Yet Johnston favored surrender. Davis, with no army left to command in North Carolina, prepared to move south.

   The last full meeting of the Confederate cabinet was held in Charlotte on April 26, 1865. About noon, Davis and some of the cabinet rode out of Charlotte. Left behind was Attorney General George Davis. He had already resigned. Davis and his cavalry escort crossed over the Catawba River at Nation’s Ford and moved into York County, South Carolina. That evening, Davis stayed at the Springfield Plantation near Fort Mill, while others stayed at the home of Col. William E. White. That evening, Secretary of Treasury George Trenholm, already ill, grew worse. Not able to continue with the group, Trenholm submitted his resignation, which Davis accepted. Davis held an impromptu “cabinet” meeting, probably with Stephen Mallory and John C. Breckinridge. At the end of the meeting, Post Master General John H. Reagan rode up, and Davis informed him that he was now acting Secretary of Treasury.

   Davis and his party continued to move south, spending the night of April 27 in York. He would eventually work his way into Georgia, where he was captured on May 10.

   The route of Davis is marked with various highway trail markers through South Carolina and Georgia. The marker pictured is located at the intersection of N. White Street and Horse Road. I last visited this site in 2014.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Charleston was NOT the “Cradle of Secession” and Calhoun was NOT its father.

   Recently, while reading the Spring 2021 issue of The Civil War Monitor, I came across an article entitled “Who is Buried in Calhoun’s Tomb?’ by Ethan J. Kytle and Brian Roberts. While the article concerns the removal of John C. Calhoun’s remains from his tomb at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church West Cemetery, the authors repeat a couple of misconceptions regarding the history of secession in the United States.

   First, the authors consider Charleston the “cradle of secession.” This is an oft repeated assertion. In 1888, Rossiter Johnson considered Charleston as much in his history of the War.[1] Robert N. Rosen had a chapter bearing that title in his 1994 history of the city.[2] William C. Davis wrote in 1996 that the destruction in Charleston wrought by the war was price the city paid for being the “cradle of secession.”[3] Yet that title of “cradle of secession” belongs to other places and times, well before historians and entrepreneurs of the tourist traded branded the city as such.

John C. Calhoun (Clemson University)

   Probably the title of first real “cradle of secession,” post-establishment of the United States and its Constitution, falls to east Tennessee. In 1784, the State of Franklin was created as an autonomous territory in land offered by North Carolina as a cession to Congress to help pay off debts related to the American Revolution. Franklin (named in honor of Dr. Benjamin Franklin), had a capital, a president/governor, a congress, a constitution, etc. When Congress did not act upon North Carolina’s cession of property, the state of Franklin once again became a part of the state, whereas the Franklinites then seceded from North Carolina.  In 1784, the residents of Franklin actually submitted a petition for statehood to Congress. Short version of the story – this all eventually failed. Yet its history was remembered by a few in the 1860s. In 1861, John S.C. Abbott, in an address in Cheshire, Connecticut, made mention several times of Franklin being the “cradle of secession.”  Abbott even went as far as to state that the state of Tennessee, as a whole was “born of secession, rocked in the cradle of revolution.”[4]

  There are, of course, many other places that discussed secession prior to Charleston in 1860. In 1794, U.S. Senators Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut and Rufus King of New York appealed to John Taylor of Virginia for a division of the Union. Taylor believed that there were opportunities to settle inter-sectional issues, and refused to participate.[5] Taylor brought the issue up himself in 1789 with the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts.[6] Toward the end of Thomas Jefferson’s first term, there was a movement led by Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts to set up “a new confederacy” or “Northern confederacy” made up of New England states.[7] There are of course many other examples of the threat to secede: New England in 1809 over James Madison’s “Enforcement Act”; New England and New York during the War of 1812 (leading to the Hartford Convention in 1814); South Carolina in 1828 and again in 1832-33.  Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, the Abolitionists in New England repeatedly called for disunion.[8] At the same time, the topic again became popular in the South after the introduction of the Wilmot Proviso. While the act of secession came to maturity in South Carolina and the rest of the South in 1860 and 1861, a reading of American history proves that the Cradle of Secession was not Charleston, but New England.

   And what of John C. Calhoun being the “Father of Secession”? Once again, this is an often-repeated claim.[9] Yet the idea did not originate with Calhoun. Where did he learn the ideals and principles of secession? New England. In 1802, with financing from his brothers, Calhoun arrived at Yale College in Connecticut. He graduated in 1804 and moved on to law school, this time, in Litchfield, Connecticut. What was going on during Calhoun’s time in Connecticut? The people in the New England communities were angry over the Jefferson Administration’s perceived hostility towards New England. Timothy Pickering, Rufus King, Aaron Burr, and others wanted a new country that advanced their ideals of Federalism. Into that hotbed of secessionism rode the young John C. Calhoun. Calhoun biographer Margaret Coit argues that: “every principle of secession or states' rights which Calhoun ever voiced can be traced right back to the thinking of intellectual New England ... Not the South, not slavery, but Yale College and Litchfield Law School made Calhoun a nullifier ... [Timothy] Dwight, [Tapping] Reeve, and [James] Gould could not convince the young patriot from South Carolina as to the desirability of secession, but they left no doubts in his mind as to its legality.”[10] A close reading of Calhoun’s speeches and writings does not lead a person to the conclusion that Calhoun wanted secession. He didn’t. Over and over Calhoun expressed love and devotion for the Union. What he was warning the nation about was the dominance of one section of the country over another, the exact same thing that Pickering had written about in 1803 and 1804.

   Kytle’s and Roberts’s article in The Civil War Monitor is disappointing on many levels. Calhoun was not the “dogged defender of their [Charlestonian] culture.” He was a dogged defender of the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law. Calhoun wrote and spoke far more on banking, currency, protection, and free trade that he ever did on the issue of slavery. To be fair, Kytle’s and Roberts’s article deals with his grave in Charleston, a place where he never fit in and probably despised. The Charlestonians were not his people. Yet Kytle’s and Roberts want to take swipes at Calhoun, ignoring the person as a whole. “There was nothing groveling or low, or meanly selfish that came near the head or heart of Mr. Calhoun,” eulogized Daniel Webster from the floor of the senate in April 1850.[11] Maybe we could all learn a little from Webster or at least strive for a balanced approach.

[1] Johnson, A Short History of the War of Secession, 1861-1865, 307.

[2] Rosen, Confederate Charleston: An Illustrated History of the City, 38.

[3] Davis, The Cause Lost: Myths and Realities of the Confederacy, 27.

[4] Abbott, “An Address Upon our National Affairs,” 1861.

[5] Hunt, ed., Division Sentiment in Congress in 1794.

[6] Ford, ed., Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 7:263-265.

[7] Gannon, “Escaping ‘Mr. Jefferson’s Plan of Destruction,’” Journal of the Early Republic, Volume 21, pt. 3, 413-414.

[8] Mayer, All of Fire: William Lloyd Garrsion and the Abolition of Slavery, 327, 328.

[9] Botts, The Great Rebellion, 2008; Holmes, New School History of the United States, 198; Secor, Vice Presidential Profiles, 27.

[10] Coit, John C. Calhoun: American Portrait, 42.

[11] Webster, quoted in the Carolina Tribute to Calhoun, 11-12.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Site Visit Saturday: Bentonville Confederate Cemetery


   Bentonville, fought from March 19 to 21, 1865, was the largest battle fought in the state of North Carolina. In an attempt to stop or slow the advance of a Federal force under the command of General William T. Sherman, Confederate forces under the command of General Joseph E. Johnston launched an attack on one of the wings of the Federal army. Initially, the Confederate attack met with success, pushing back several lines of Federal troops. Confederate forces numbered 22,000, mostly from the Army of Tennessee. Federal forces numbered 60,000. At end of the fighting, Confederate losses amounted to 2,606: 239 killed, 1,694 wounded, and 673 captured.

Bentonville Confederate Cemetery

   Many of the Confederate wounded were evacuated to hospitals across the state of North Carolina. Over forty Confederate soldiers, too grievously wounded to be moved, were left behind at the Harper House, and after the Federal soldiers moved in pursuit of the Confederates, the Harper family was charged with their care. Twenty of them later died, and they were buried not far from the house. Over time, the location of those graves was lost.

   In 2007, the Office of State Archaeology and the Wake Forest University Archaeology Laboratories, as a part of the History Channel’s “Save Our History” program, began working on finding these graves. Using ground penetrating radar, and an old photograph from 1895, the graves were located. The Harper House/Bentonville Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy donated tombstones to mark the graves of these unknown soldiers.

   I have been to Bentonville numerous times over the years, and I have even spoken and signed books in their visitor center. This image dates from a 2011 trip.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Biographies on Kentucky’s Confederate Generals

Part of three of an infrequent series related to biographies on Confederate generals, this installment features the state of Kentucky. Other states covered include North Carolina and Florida. Like the posts on other states, this list only covers men born in Kentucky. Others who were born elsewhere but associated with Kentucky are not included on this list (such as John Hunt Morgan). This list includes only book-length biographies (and if I have missed any, please feel free to drop me a line with the title and author). There is a book, Kentuckians in Gray: Confederate Generals and Field Officers of the Bluegrass State (2008) by Bruce Allardice and Lawrence L. Hewitt that might be able to fill in a few holes. 

Adams, Daniel W. (1821-1872)

Adams, William W. (1819-1888)

Beall, William N. R. (1825-1883)

Bell, Tyree H. (1815-1902)

                Hughes, Moretti, and Browne, Brigadier General Tyree H. Bell, C.S.A. (2004)

Breckinridge, John C. (1821-1875)

                Davis, Breckinridge: Statesman, Soldier, Symbol (2010)

                Heck, Proud Kentuckian: John C. Breckinridge, 1821-1875 (1976)

                Stillwell, Born to be a Statesman: John Cabell Breckinridge (1936)

Buckner, Simon B. (123-1914)

                Stickles, Simon Bolivar Buckner: Borderland Knight (1940)

Buford, Abraham (1820-1884)

Churchill, Thomas J. (1824-1905)

Cosby, George B. (1830-1909)

Crittenden, George B. (1812-1880)

                Eubank, In the Shadow of the Patriarch: the John J. Crittenden Family in War and Peace                                  (2009)

Duke, Basil W. (1838-1916)

                Duke, The Civil War Reminiscences of General Basil W. Duke, C.S.A. (1911)

                Matthews, Basil Duke, CSA: The Right Man in the Right Place (2005)

Fagan, James F. (1828-1893)

                Luker, Mature Life of General James Fleming Fagan (1987)

Field, Charles W. (1828-1892)

Gano, Richard M. (1830-1913)

                McLaurin, Richard M. Gano: Physician, Solder, Clergyman (2003)

Gholson, Samuel J. (1808-1883)

Gibson, Randall L. (1832-1892)

                McBride and McLaurin, Randall Lee Gibson of Louisiana: Confederate General and New                              South Reformer (2007)

Grayson, John B. (1806-1861)

Hanson, Roger (1827-1863)

Hawes, James M. (1824-1889)

Helm, Benjamin H. (1831-1863)

                McMurty, Ben Hardin Helm: Rebel Brother-in-law of Abraham Lincoln (1943)

Hodge, George B. (1828-1892)

Hood, John B. (1831-1879)

                Brown, John Bell Hood: Extracting Truth from history (2012)

                Coffey, John Bell Hood and the Struggle for Atlanta (1998)

                Davis, Texas Brigadier to the Fall of Atlanta: John Bell Hood (2019)

                Davis, Into Tennessee & Failure: John Bell Hood (2020)

                Dyer, The Gallant Hood (1950)

                Hood, Advance and Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate                                  States Armies (1880)

                Hood, John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General (2013)

                Hood, The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood (2015)

                McCurry, John Bell Hood and the War for Southern Independence (1992)

                Miller, John Bell Hood and the Fight for Civil War Memory (2010)

                O’Connor, Hood, Cavalier General (1949)

Hughes, John T. (1817-

Jackson, Claiborne F. (1806-1862)

Johnston, Albert S. (1803-1862)

                Cook, Albert Sidney Johnston, the Texan (1987)

                Johnston, The Life of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston (1878)

                Roland, Jefferson Davis’s Greatest General: Albert Sidney Johnston (2000)

                Roland, Albert Sidney Johnston: A Soldier of Three Republics (2001)

Lewis, Joseph H. (1824-1904)

Lyon, Hylan B. (1836-1907)

                Lee, General Hylan B. Lyon: A Kentucky Confederate and the War in the West (2019)

Marshall, Humphrey (1812-1872)

Martin, William T. (1823-1910)

Maxey, Samuel B. (1825-1895)

                Horton, Samuel Bell Maxey: A Biography (1974)

                Waugh and McWhiney, Sam Bell Maxey and the Confederate Indians (1998)  

Preston, William III (1816-1887)

                Sehlinger, Kentucky’s Last Cavalier: General William Preston, (2010)

Robertson, Jerome B. (1815-1890)

Shelby, Joseph O. (1830-1897)

                Bartels, The Man who wouldn’t Surrender, even in Death: General Jo Shelby (1999)

                Davis, Fallen Guidon: The Saga of Confederate General Jo Shelby’s March to Mexico (1995)

                Edwards, Shelby and his Men: Or, the War in the West (1867)

                Scott, The Forgotten Cavalier: Confederate Raider Joseph Orville Shelby and his Great Missouri Raid of 1862 (1900)  

Slack, William Y. (1816-1862)

Smith, Gustavus W. (1821-1896)

                Smith, Confederate War Papers (1884)

                Smith, The Battle of Seven Pines (1891)

                Smith, Generals J.E. Johnston and G.T. Beauregard at the Battle of Manassas (1892)

Taylor, Richard (1826-1879)

                Parrish, Richard Taylor, Soldier Prince of Dixie (1992)

                Taylor, Destruction and Reconstruction: Personal Experiences of the Late War (1879)

Williams, John S.  (1818-1898)

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Site Visit Saturday: Fox’s Gap and Brig. Gen. Samuel Garland, Jr.

    Do lawyers make good generals?  Some of them have. Others, not so much. There were a slew of lawyers who became Confederate generals, such as Lawrence Branch, John B. Gordon, Theodore W. Brevard, Jr., Daniel W. Adams, and Alpheus Baker, just to name a few. Included in the bunch was Samuel Garland, Jr.

   Born in Lynchburg, Virginia on December 16, 1830, Samuel Garland, Jr., was the great-grandnephew of United States President James Madison. His father was an attorney (who died when Samuel was ten years old). Samuel was educated in a private school in Nelson County, then at Randolph Macon College, and finally, the Virginia Military Academy, where he graduated in 1849, third in his class. He went on to study law at the University of Virginia, and after John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry organized a militia company. When the war came, that company became a part of the 11th Virginia Infantry, and Garland was commissioned the regiment’s colonel. Garland and his regiment fought at the battle of Manassas in July 1861, as a part of Brig. Gen. James Longstreet’s brigade. Following the battle of Seven Pines, in which Garland was wounded in the elbow, he was promoted to brigadier general. He commanded a North Carolina brigade composed of the 5th, 12th, 13th, 20th, and 23rd Regiments.


Garland Marker, Fox's Gap

   With the reorganization of the Army of Northern Virginia following the Seven Days campaign, Garland found his brigade in D.H. Hill’s Division, Jackson’s wing. During the Maryland Campaign, while the rest of Jackson’s command invested Harper’s Ferry, D.H. Hill’s command was sent to guard the gaps across South Mountain, protecting the rear of Jackson’s forces capturing the town. At the beginning of the fight, Garland was ordered to take his brigade and defend the National Pike. D.H. Hill wrote after the battle that “The firing had aroused that prompt and gallant soldier, General Garland, and his men were under arms when I reached the pike. I explained the situation briefly to him, directed him to sweep through the woods, reach the road, and hold it at all hazards, as the safety of Lee's large train depended upon its being held. He went off in high spirits and I never saw him again. I never knew a truer, better, braver man. Had he lived, his talents, pluck, energy, and purity of character must have put him in the front rank of his profession, whether in civil or military life.”  During the fighting at Fox’s Gap, Garland was struck in the back by a bullet that passed through his body. His last words were “I am killed. Send for the Senior colonel.”

   Following his death, Garland was interred at the Presbyterian Cemetery in Lynchburg, next to the graves of his wife and son who had passed in June and July 1861 of influenza.

   In September 1993, the Sons of Confederate Veterans erected a commemorative marker near the spot of Samuel Garland’s death. I last visited the site in May 2011.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Torn families – the Flussers


   Often we hear that the Civil War was a war fought brother against brother. And that’s true, but really oversimplified. It was brother against brother, and father against son, and mothers and sisters against fathers and sons, and uncles, and cousins. One of those families were the Flusser family.

   Charles T. Flusser was born in Prague in 1798. He immigrated to the United States, settling in Maryland and marrying Juliana S. Waters. They had several children, including Ottokar (1830); Charles (1832); and Guy (1833). It is thought that the family moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi, and then later Louisville, Kentucky. Thomas died in 1858 and is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.

Flusser stone at Cave Hill Cemetery

   The war found the family on different sides. Charles W. Flusser graduated from The United States Naval Academy in 1854. He stayed with the Union, arising to the rank of lieutenant commander. He spent much of the war along the coastal waters of North Carolina, and in April 1864, he was commanding the USS Miami, when the CSS Albemarle sailed down the Roanoke River. The Albemarle engaged the USS Southfield, sinking the gunboat. Flusser fired a shell at the Albemarle, but the Albemarle and the Miami were so close that a piece of shrapnel rebounded back and killed Flusser. He is buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in Maryland. (Three different US destroyers have been named in his honor.)

   Oldest brother Ottokar Flusser joined the Fourth Texas Infantry on July 11, 1861, at Camp Clark, Texas. He apparently was mustered in as a second sergeant in Company B. In March 1862, he was nominated to be a captain in the regular Confederate army. However, when Flusser was killed in the battle of Sharpsburg, Maryland, in September 1862, his rank was listed as private. Ottokar Flusser is buried in the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.

   Younger brother Guy Flusser also served. On June 1, 1863, in Abington, Kentucky, Guy Flusser enlisted in Company K, 4th Kentucky Cavalry (CS). He was mustered in as a private. The 4th Kentucky Cavalry was a part of John Hunt Morgan’s command. At some point, it appears he was promoted to Lieutenant. Flusser was killed in a skirmish at Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, September 14, 1864. Guy Flusser is also buried at the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.

   It appears that none of the three brothers was married at the time of death. On a marker in the family plot in Cave Hill Cemetery is a stone that reads “TO MY SONS.” The marker has both a cavalry sword and a ship’s anchor.  

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Site Visit Saturday: Marietta Confederate Cemetery, Georgia


   A battle produced ghastly numbers of dead: 3,100 at Gettysburg; 2,843 at Second Manassas; 1,900 at Franklin. Bodies needed to be interred as quickly as possible, a task usually left to the victor that held the field. Sometimes the dead were buried where they fell, and at other times they were gathered and interred in trenches.

   The battle of Chickamauga was fought in September 1862. While it was a Confederate victory, almost 4,000 soldiers from both sides were killed. Confederate forces buried the vast majority after the battle was over. Once the conflict ended, the war-ravaged landscape was littered with more than 700,000 graves. The Federal government was quick to establish a program to disinter Federal soldiers from various battlefield and hospital sites and re-inter their dead in what became National cemeteries. (National cemeteries were established by an act of Congress on July 17, 1862.)

   Confederate dead were untouched by the hands of the government. Instead, Southern civilian organizations were formed for the purpose of finding and relocating the graves of fallen soldiers. Because of laws that prevented former Confederate soldiers from gathering, much of the work fell to women. A group of thirteen women met in July 1866 in Resaca, Georgia, and formed a “Ladies Memorial Association.” About this same time, Mary Green, instrumental in the formation of the Ladies Memorial Association, began working on a cemetery for Confederate soldiers killed and buried near her home in Resaca. When the project was finished in October 1866, over 450 soldiers had been reinterred.

   Resaca was just one small portion of the fighting in North Georgia during the war. Mary Green approached the Georgia Legislature for funding, which, despite the impoverished condition of the state government, agreed to help. They not only agreed to pay off what remained of the bill for re-interring Confederate dead from the Resaca battlefield, but also agreed to an additional $3,500 for a cemetery for the Confederate dead from the Chickamauga battlefield. A site was chosen in Marietta, Georgia. The site was adjacent to the Western and Atlantic Railroad, and was an already established Confederate cemetery, begun in 1863, next to the Marietta City Cemetery. There were soldiers buried here who had died in a train crash, and some who had died in area hospitals. Mrs. Jane Porter Glover of Marietta donated the property for the cemetery expansion.

   There were three different groupings in which the work was carried out. The first took place in July and August 1867, when fourteen graves were removed. Beginning in October 1867, 151 more soldiers were removed from the Chickamauga battlefield. In 1869, a third group of removals began, and eventually, 615 Confederate soldiers killed at Chickamauga were reburied at the Marietta Confederate Cemetery. The group then began searching for burials in and around Ringgold, Kolb’s Farm, Tunnel Hill, and parts of the Atlanta Campaign.

   Besides holding the remains of graves of Confederate soldiers who died during the war, the Marietta Confederate Cemetery was also the burial location for some of the men who died in the old Confederate soldier’s home in Atlanta. The Marietta Confederate Cemetery is one of the largest in the South, probably behind Hollywood Cemetery (18,000 graves) and Oakwood Cemetery (17,000 graves), both in Richmond, and Blandford Church Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia, with 30,000 Confederate graves. At the Marietta Confederate Cemetery, there are markers for some of the soldiers, markers for various states represented in the cemetery, and a statue honoring Mary Green.

   I last visited this site in May 2008.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Did Judah P. Benjamin draft North Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession?

   Joseph C. Sitterson, in his 1939 book, The Secession Movement in North Carolina, makes an interesting claim, that Judah P. Benjamin reportedly wrote North Carolina’s ordinance of secession.[1] Sitterson writes that Convention delegate Burton Craige introduced a the resolution at the request of Governor John W. Ellis. The simple ordinance “repealed and abrogated the ordinance of 1789 by which North Carolina had ratified the Constitution of the United States and declared the union between the state of North Carolina and the other states, under the title of ‘The United States of America’ dissolved.” Is there any truth to this?

Judah P. Benjamin

   Judah P. Benjamin is one of those interesting people in history. Born in 1811 in St. Croix, in what is now the United States Virgin Islands, his parents were Sephardic Jews. In 1813, the family moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina, and then to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1821. Benjamin enrolled in Yale College in 1825, but did not graduate, and moved on to New Orleans where he eventually worked in a mercantile business, clerked in a law firm, tutored French Creoles in English, and eventually earned a law degree, being admitted to the bar in 1832 at the age of 21. Benjamin specialized in commercial law. In 1842 Benjamin won election to the Louisiana House of Representatives, then served in a Louisiana Constitutional Convention, was appointed a United States Attorney in New Orleans, served in the Louisiana State Senate, and in 1853, was elected a United States Senator. He was twice offered a place on the United States Supreme Court but declined both times. Benjamin remained a United States Senator until February 1861. When the Senate was not in session, he tried cases before the Supreme Court. Benjamin served as a Confederate Attorney General, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State, and was with Jefferson Davis as the president moved through North Carolina and South Carolina at the close of the war. Benjamin escaped, fleeing to Great Britain, and becoming one of the leading barristers in the country before retiring to Paris where he died in 1884.

   At time the delegates were meeting in Raleigh to considered secession, Benjamin was serving as the first Confederate attorney general in Montgomery, Alabama.

   J.G. de R. Hamilton, in his book Reconstruction in North Carolina, tells us that North Carolina’s ordinance “was prepared by Judah P. Benjamin” and “brought to Raleigh from Montgomery by James Hines, a North Carolinian, and delivered to Gov. Ellis, who asked Burton Craige, the member from his county, to introduce it.”[2] Hamilton does not give a source for this information. Barrett, in his history of North Carolina and the War, leaves out this little piece of information. Just how Benjamin came to draft North Carolina’s ordinance of secession seems to be somewhat of a mystery.  

John W. Ellis

Turning to Governor Ellis’s papers, we find an interesting letter from former United States Senator Thomas L. Clingman. Writing from Montgomery on May 14, 1861, Clingman tells Ellis: “I enclose you drafts of Ordinances which I think ought to be adopted at once by our convention. I got Mr. Benjamin the Attorney General to draw them up and hope they will be put through on the 20th.”[3] In Jeffrey’s biography of Clingman, we read that Ellis sent Clingman to Montgomery after the capture of Fort Sumter. Clingman’s job? To “negotiate North Carolina’s entrance into the Confederacy.” There is no mention of the Ordinances.[4] It is possible that Ellis and Clingman discussed the matter of the Ordinance prior to Clingman’s departure from Raleigh to Montgomery. At the same time, Clingman might have taken it upon himself to visit Benjamin and ask for some guidance regarding the Ordinances, and Benjamin wrote the Ordinances and gave them Clingman who gave them to Hines who caught a train to Raleigh. This begs another question: who was James Hines? Was he just a messenger? A quick search has not produced an identity. And yet another question: did Judah P. Benjamin play a role in any other Ordinances of Secession passed by the other Southern States?

[1] Sitterson, The Secession Movement in North Carolina, 246-47, n.103.

[2] Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Carolina, 29.

[3] Tolbert, The Papers of John W. Ellis, 2:50.

[4] Jeffrey, Thomas Lanier Clingman: Fire Eater from the Carolina Mountains, 162.