Civil War Fangirl

The thoughts of a (slighty eccentric & crazy) Canadian who happens to be obsessed with Abraham Lincoln, General William Tecumseh Sherman & the Civil War

I beg to present you a birthday post about Sherman…

February is a special month for me. Why? It ain’t cause of Valentine’s Day (I’m so over it). My two favourite men both have birthdays this month! If y’all didn’t know, that would be Abraham Lincoln and General William Tecumseh Sherman.

My two favourite men. *Swoon*. One with a crooked bow-tie, the other with messy hair. This is why they’re awesome.

Today just so happens to be Sherman’s birthday! As such, I wanted to have a post about him. But what to write about? I was perplexed but than I thought, why not let Cump speak for himself? I mean, look at the man’s memoirs….

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Leave it to me to take a photo of Cump’s memoirs AND my Lincoln mug.

Yes, Cump was a chatterbox.

Robert L. O’Connell (author of an amazing biography about Sherman called “Fierce Patriot) has quite a priceless description of what a wordy guy Cump was and it makes me laugh out loud every time I read it:

Calling him a motormouth understates the case: he was a veritable volcano of verbiage, as borne by a mountain of letters, memoranda, and other official papers, not to mention the uniformly gabby impression he left among his contemporaries. If there was a contest for who spoke the most words in a lifetime, Sherman would have been a finalist – he lived a long time and slept very little; otherwise he was talking. [I’d like to add to this – or marching/burning things. But he probably talked while he did that too]

O’Connell goes on to say that Cump always “said what was on his mind at that instant”. He also would switch from subject to subject but eventually get back to the first. (Side note: I do this. All the time. One of my best friends does too. When we talk, our conversations our interesting, to put it lightly. Nothing like starting with talking about what we each had for dinner and somehow we end up talking about how we haven’t read certain classic novels like “War and Peace” and that we’ve been judged for it.  But I digress…).

And this is why for my post about Cump on his birthday, I want him to speak for himself. I found some of my favourite quotes from him – some funny, some serious, some sad. Now, I beg to present, to you my awesome readers and friends, a birthday post about my favourite General with quotes from the man himself (haha! See what I did there?)..

That time he partied a little too hard when he was in California but then the ship arrived with the mail…

“The ball was a really handsome affair, and we kept it up nearly all night. The next morning we were at breakfast…We were dull and stupid enough until a gun from the fort aroused us, then another and another. ‘The steamer!’ exclaimed all, and, without waiting for hats or anything, off we dashed…”

Schitt'S Creek GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

That time he ate a hot pepper in California but thought it was a tomato (and we see a hint of drama queen coming out in Sherman)…

“…I was helped to a dish of rabbit, with what I thought to be an abundant sauce of tomato. Taking a good mouthful, I felt as though I had taken liquid fire; the tomato was chile colarado, or red pepper, of the purest kind. It nearly killed me…”

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That maybe, sometimes, Cump wasn’t very patient,  he exaggerated and could have been a drama queen…

“By the time the ship was fairly at anchor, we had answered a million questions about gold and the state of the country…”

Like, oh my god, enough questions already…

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On his friendship with Grant…

Grant stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk, and now we stand by each other.

Nick At Nite GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

On war…

War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.

War is the remedy our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want. 

On reporters…

I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. 

I think I understand what military fame is: to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers. 

I wasn’t really convinced he hated reporters until I found this gem…

If I had my choice I will kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast. 

Face GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Well, okay.

Perhaps the most epic telegram of all time was sent by General Sherman to President Lincoln on December 22, 1864…

I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton

There you have it! Some of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite Civil War Generals, William Tecumseh Sherman. Do you have any favourite quotes from him?

Thank you, as always, for reading.

Until next time,

Mary 🙂

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Sources

“Fierce Patriot” by Robert L. O’Connell.

“Memoirs” by William T. Sherman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you need a good laugh…

Sometimes I write really serious blog posts.

This is not one of those posts.

Cause I think we need to laugh right now. 

I’ll just leave this here. 

Y’all can clearly see that Sherman is clearly the influence behind Darkwing Duck…

Abraham Lincoln holding a big gulp made my day (this is a behind the scenes shot from the awesome documentary “Killing Lincoln”. Billy Campbell played Lincoln and he was amazing!)

I find the most amazing shit on Reddit. Someone is a freaking genius.

9 out of 10 Union Army Generals would agree with this sentiment. 

Again, Reddit is epic

How Lincoln looked when McClellen said the horses were tired

Of course I have this meme on my phone…
The most epic telegram ever. Let’s discuss possible senders and recipients during the Civil War.
That’s all for now. I hope this post made you laugh, giggle or whatever. 

Until next time,

Love,

Mary 💖💖💖

The Horses of General Lee’s “Old War Horse” (and some digressions…)

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“God Be With You” beautifully painted by Mort Kunstler. Honestly, Lee looks like he’s about to give Longstreet shit for something.  Or they’re having some kind of stare down.

General Lee’s “Old War Horse” refers to General James Longstreet. He was also known as “Old Pete”. It was today, January 8th, in 1821 that General James “Pete” Longstreet was born in South Carolina. His parents were James and Mary Ann Dent Longstreet. His family, on both sides, dates back to the colonial period of America.

Digression time (y’all know by now I do this kind of thing…): Who picked up on the maiden name of Longstreet’s mother? Dent. I’m sure it’s ringing a bell and you’re thinking “Where have I heard that name before?”. It’s Civil War connection time! Dent is the maiden name of General Grant’s wife, Julia. That’s right – James Longstreet and Union Rock Star General Ulysses S. Grant are related through marriage. James served as Best Man at Ulysses and Julia’s wedding. How’s that for a digression?

General Grant and General Longstreet. Related through marriage, fought against each other during the Civil War, most notably at the Wilderness where Longstreet ended up being wounded. I was just reading in Jeff Shaara’s “The Last Full Measure” about their connection. It was from Longstreet’s perspective. He refers to Grant as being a friend. I can’t imagine what it would have been fighting against someone who I considered a friend, let along was related to me and had stood up at my marriage. Such was the case too many times during the Civil War. 

Okay, enough for that digression.  Since it is Longstreet’s birthday today, I did want to have a post written to do with him so I decided to write about his horses. Again, are y’all surprised by that? Probably not, given the fact I’ve written a few posts where the General’s horses are mentioned, most notable Baldy and Little Sorrel.

So, I start my journey researching. Here I am thinking “this is going to be like researching Baldy and Little Sorrel. Longstreet was a famous General. There will be stories about his horses! I’ve got this!”

Sometimes, the best laid plans that you think will chug along just fine don’t because you discover the research equivalent to finding that Sherman’s Army has ripped up the railway tracks you were travelling on…

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I got derailed, y’all…

Unfortunately, there is not nearly as much information about Longstreet’s horses as there is for Traveller (General Lee), Cincinnati (General Grant), Rienzi (General Sheridan), Baldy (General Meade) and Little Sorrel (General “Stonewall” Jackson). But hey, that happens when you’re doing historical research. Sometimes the sources are just not readily available OR they just didn’t write about them. I’m sure his horses were just as cool the other ones out there – there just wasn’t much written about them.

But I still managed to find some snippets of info…

We know General Longstreet had two horses: Hero and Fly-By-Night. Hero, according to Longstreet in his memoirs “From Manasses to Appomattox”, was given this name by Longstreet’s Irish groom. Longstreet also remarks  in his memoirs that this was indeed his favourite horse. Back to Hero in a second.

As for Fly-By-Night, all I could find out about him was that he given to General Longstreet by General Lee sometime in 1864 while Longstreet was in Georgia or Tennessee (sources differ) for Old  Pete’s services in the West.

Back to Hero.

We can presume that General Longstreet would have ridden Hero at many notable Civil War battles. Wert remarks in his biography “General James Longstreet: The Confederacy’s Most Controversial Soldier” that in the morning hours of December 13th, Longstreet was astride Hero at Fredericksburg.  I found a beautiful Mort Kunstler painting illustrating just that…

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“War Is So Terrible” by Mort Kunstler. This painting depicts General Longstreet and General Lee on the morning of December 13, 1862 amid the melting snow at Fredericksburg. It was at this battle that Lee said to Longstreet “It is well that war is so terrible – we should grow too fond of it”.

He also rode Hero throughout the three days of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1st-3rd, 1863.  Below, the two paintings by Mort Kunstler depict him on a horse that we can presume is Hero.

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“Lee’s Old Warhorse” by  Mort Kunstler. This painting depicts the morning of July 3, 1863, the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

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“Storm Over Gettysburg” by Mort Kunstler. General Lee is riding his horse Traveller and General Longstreet is on his horse Hero. This painting depicts the night of July 3rd, 1863.

If Mort Kunstler’s paintings are correct, we know that Hero was a chestnut coloured horse with a white mark on his face (sounds quite similar to Meade’s horse, Baldy). Considering Longstreet would have ridden him into battle, Hero would have had to have been a strong and powerful horse,too, much like any of the other Civil War horses. In this discussion on Civil War Talk, I did find reference that Hero was an Irish Thoroughbred. Hero most likely looked very much like one of these beautiful horses:

I can imagine what a commanding presence Longstreet would have had on the battlefield as he was astride Hero.

Despite the way he was treated after the Civil War, Longstreet has not been forgotten. Nor has Hero. The two have a statue together at Gettysburg and it is one of my favourite ones in the park. I remember the first time I saw it, I was amazed with the level of the detail. This was one of my favourite photos that I took on the day I spent at Gettysburg in May of 2012.

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Monument to Confederate General James Longstreet at Gettysburg. Longstreet has very few monuments, as a result of the negative opinion of him by many southerners after the Civil War. This monument was installed at Gettysburg in 1998 and was sculpted by Gary Casteel. Compared to many of the other monuments in the park, Longstreet’s is relatively young.

In researching this post, I discovered that there were mixed feelings about this monument. There are a few people who simply don’t like it. Me? I love it. It’s one of my favourites in the park, mainly because it is an equestrian statue. Sure, I don’t love it as much as I love the equestrian monument to John Reynolds but  Longstreet’s is still a favourite. In discovering the mixed feelings as well as how different this monument is from others, I’ve decided to write a separate post about the monument itself at some point soon.

Just briefly: this monument, unlike many of the other equestrian monuments in Gettysburg (and elsewhere at Civil War battlefields) is not on a pedestal. Longstreet and Hero are at ground level. It allows one to see the great level of detail that encompasses the entire statue. Of course I was most drawn to Hero. That’s what attracted me to the statue in the first place.

Despite Hero & Fly-By-Night not having the same level of fame as Traveller or Rienzi, I still felt they were worthy of a post. Horses played a huge role in the Civil War, and I feel they deserve to be remembered too.

Living up to his name, Fly-By-Night is clearly the more mysterious of two horses, with next to nothing for information about him (or her?). For us to know this horse’s name must mean he (or she), meant something to Longstreet.

As for Hero, he’ll go down in history as Old Pete’s favourite horse, having been mentioned in his memoirs. He’s also been somewhat immortalized in the paintings by Mort Kunstler as well as in the  monument at Gettysburg.

Do y’all know any stories about the lesser known horses of the Civil War? Also, if you’ve seen the Longstreet monument at Gettysburg, please let me know what you thought of it!

Thanks, as always, for reading. Y’all are awesome.

Mary

P.S. If you want to see more of Mort Kunstler’s beautiful painting, check out his website here.

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Sources

Casteel, Gary. “It’s About Time: The Sculpting of the James Longstreet Memorial”. http://www.garycasteel.com/longstreet.htm.

Longstreet, James. “From Manassas To Appomattox”

Statue/Monument to General Longstreet. http://civilwartalk.com/threads/statue-monument-of-general-longstreet.10198/

Wert, Jeffry D. “General James Longstreet: The Confederacy’s Most Controversial Soldier”. Simon & Schuster: New York, 1993.

My Absolute Favourite Book Of 2016 Is…

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…”A Friend Of Mr. Lincoln” by Stephen Harrigan (you can find him on Twitter @stephenharrigan) . I did write about this book in an earlier post, which you can find here. I give a brief synopsis of the book in that post.

As 2016 comes to a close, I can say not only is this my favourite book that I read this year but it has become one of my favourite books ever. The writing is brilliant. The characters, both real (Lincoln and Speed) and fictional (Cage Weatherby, through whom the story is told), are well-developed, and Harrigan weaves a world in which I was pulled right into. The writing is such that the book played out in my head like a movie. I could see Lincoln and his friends playing handball as they discussed poetry. I felt like I was there at the various social events that play out in the novel. I felt the emotions the characters felt – there were moments I laughed, moments I felt frustrated and yes, moments where I was moved to tears. There was characters I absolutely loved and characters I detested but that I still enjoyed having as part of the story. In reading this book, I got absolutely lost in the world that was mid-19th century Springfield, Illinois.

I absolutely loved Mr. Harrigan’s portrayal of Lincoln. He presents such a humanizing portrayal of Lincoln. If you’re like me, you will come away feeling that you’ve come to know him just a little bit better.

The other thing that made me love this book so much is the author’s portrayal of depression – it is raw, it is relatable and it is real. Lincoln is not the only character to suffer from depression – it is quite clear that some of the other characters do too. I remember one scene in particular making me cry because I knew how the character was feeling. The way in which he described how he was feeling was exactly how I feel when I’ve been in my most depressed states.

But the main reason I recommend this book? I absolutely loved Mr. Harrigan’s portrayal of Lincoln. It is a humanizing, at times raw, portrayal of him. I saw Lincoln’s good side but I saw his bad side too. It doesn’t get much more human than that. I came away feeling that, even though this is historical fiction, I somehow have come to know Lincoln better, especially how he was in his younger days. The author gives a voice to Lincoln as well as the other characters that is relatable. It has given me a deeper respect for a man that I have loved and respected nearly all of my life. It is a book that has stayed with me and that I know I will read again. That’s why it is my favourite book of 2016.

I also want to take this time to wish everyone of my readers a very Happy New Year and all the best in 2017! Y’all are awesome and I can’t thank you enough for reading.

Love,

Mary 🙂

Another of my favourite books from 2016 is…

…”Lincoln’s Melancholy” by Joshua Wolf Shenk.

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Y’all, I’ll be honest – I’m going to be lazy with this one and just point you over to here. That is my review I wrote of this book back in March.

But I do have some stuff to add (I’m a chatterbox just like my man Cump was…)

It still remains one of my favourite books about Lincoln. It is one I most certainly will read again. In the months since I’ve read it, I’ve recommended it to numerous people. These are not just people who love Lincoln. In fact, quite a few of them do not know much about him. The reason I recommended it though? Because we were discussing depression and I told them how much this book helped me to understand my own depression. It was the first book that really spoke to me, and as I say in my earlier review, made me feel like “hey, you’re not alone”. I tell them how inspirational the book is and that in knowing that Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression (and at a time when it was not well understood) and he managed to do all the incredible things he did. I think a few of them have ended up reading it.

In reading more about Lincoln since finishing “Lincoln’s Melancholy”, I have come to truly realize how much his depression did challenge him and fuel him as a person. When I read about him, I’m always keeping this in mind and it truly has made me see him in a different light. It’s made reading Donald’s bio of “Lincoln” that much more interesting because I read between the lines, as one would say, and will think “Hmm, that could be why he’s being that way”.

The one thing I see the most as stemming from his depression is his empathy. Lincoln had an incredible amount of empathy and I think this is one of the many things about his personality that made him so ahead of his time. The best example I can think of involves General Sherman (I know. Y’all are so not surprised by that…) and just how empathetic Lincoln was to him when Sherman had his breakdown in 1862. O’Connell states in “Fierce Patriot” (side note: if y’all haven’t read that one, you need to. I read it in 2015 hence why it’s not being mentioned as a fav of mine from 2016), his biography about General Sherman, that:

Lincoln had suffered from deep bouts of depression since early manhood (he called it the “hypo”) and it’s likely he [Lincoln] recognized a similar condition lurking behind Sherman’s excessive pessimism. He also must have known from his own experience that these bleak episodes eventually passed and so remained open to giving his fellow sufferer additional responsibility once he [Sherman] recovered.

He goes on to write that “mental illness of any sort carried a tremendous stigma in nineteenth century America, but not with Lincoln when it came to a general he instinctively liked and believed in”

Of course I have to include a photo of my two favourite men 🙂

I could go on with other examples of Lincoln’s empathy but this is one that always comes to mind. And hey, any chance to mention my two favourite men in a blog post is always awesome. #goals #historycrush #hotties

“Lincoln’s Melancholy” did make me feel like I came to know Lincoln better. It very much is a book worth reading, especially if you love Abraham Lincoln and want to know more about him. Depression was very much a part of who he was just as was his sense of humour and his empathy, both of which, I believe, stem from him having depression. I know for myself, my sense of humour has been a sort of defence mechanism against depression since I was very young.

I’ll wrap up my post there. What are y’all reading right now? Better yet, what was your favourite book of 2016? I’ll be posting tomorrow what my favourite book of 2016 was.

Until that time, have a happy Friday, y’all!!

Much love,

Mary 🙂

Favourite Books of 2016: “Soul Of A Crow” by Abbie Williams

I think I’ve mentioned on here that I am a slow reader. I also tend to have five or six books on the go at once (…because ADD. Oh, and I like variety). 2016 was not the year of reading MANY books for me. Honestly, it’s about quality and NOT quantity for me when it comes to books.

I was going to do one gigantic post about my top five books but I thought, why not do individual posts? It seems like a good way to count down to 2017. So, over the next few days, I’ll be posting about my favourite books of 2016.

So, shall we get started? Oh, and they’re all going to be Civil War related books. Would y’all expect anything less from the Civil War fangirl? I think not.

So, here go…

“Soul Of A Crow” by Abbie Williams

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This book cover is gorgeous. One of my favourites.

This is the review I wrote for this book on Good Reads. I’ve added in a few things here and there to the original review.
The story is absolutely beautiful – yes, there are heart breaking moments but at the core of it all is love. I was pulled all the way through by Abbie’s beautiful style of writing. The characters are absolutely unforgettable.

These are two of the main reasons why I love the Dove series by Abbie Williams so very much. Picking up where “Heart of a Dove” (Book 1 of the series) leaves off, “Soul Of A Crow” will draw you in immediately into the world of Lorie Blake and her travelling companions – brothers Boyd & Malcolm Carter, and Sawyer Davis. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention Sawyer’s beautiful horse, Whistler. They are making their way their to begin a new life in Minnesota after the Civil War. But along the way the past will come back to haunt them and they will face new challenges.

I’d all but given up on romance when I decided to give “Heart Of A Dove”a try – I wrote about it here and here . I was pulled in right from the start. Just like the first book, “Soul Of A Crow” the romance that is real – there is anguish, torment, heartbreaking decisions but of course, above all else, there is love. The bonds of love formed between the characters are incredible and this is another reason I love this series so much.

Abbie is a beautiful writer. She writes in such a way that I become immersed in the world she has created. I can hear the mosquitoes as the Lorie, Sawyer, Malcolm and Boyd sit by a fire, I can see the fireflies, feel the prairie grass beneath my feet. I can hear the horses and picture everything so clearly in my mind. I also feel what the characters feel – I laugh when they laugh, cry when they cry and feel the torment they go through when heart breaking decisions are made. I feel the happiness they feel of being with the ones they love.

The characters have become so familiar to me. I feel I have come to know them so well. When I wasn’t reading the book, I found myself thinking about them. I adore Lorie. She’s a beautiful, strong female character that has become one of my literary heroines. Malcolm is like a younger brother – so sweet and adorable yet mischievous and always knows how to make people laugh. Sawyer is such a beautiful soul. Oh, and then there is Boyd (with what I imagine is a sexy Tennessee accent and eyes that I could get lost in). I’ll admit I am crushing on him hard. There are also new characters introduced in this book and they are just as likeable as the characters I have mentioned.

Just like the “Heart Of A Dove”, the romance is real and not sappy. This is how romance should be. The deep love between the characters is incredible. And I love when romance starts to blossom between characters because Abbie knows how to write this so very well – the anticipation and buildup is so gripping and real. I also relate to the friendships that develop between the characters.

As a Civil War buff, I also enjoyed the story. Abbie captures the feelings of post-war America – the wounds that are still there and the conflict and prejudices the arise. There is also the personal struggle of the characters that fought in the war and it’s heart wrenching to hear some of their thoughts. But this is yet another thing that makes the story so very real and one of the best I have read in a long time.

I laughed, cried and have grown to love this series and the characters Abbie has created so very much. She writes with so much heart and soul it’s impossible not to get drawn into the world she has created. If you’ve read “Heart Of A Dove” and enjoyed it, “Soul Of A Crow” will not disappoint you. If you haven’t read the series yet, be sure to start with “Heart Of Dove”. If you love historical fiction, you will not be disappointed. Even after finishing the book, the characters are popping into my mind. I am left eagerly awaiting to read Book 3, which is titled “Grace Of  A Hawk”. It is due out in November 2017 (ahhh!! That seems so far away!!)

You can follow Abbie on Twitter or check her website. Besides being a talented writer, she’s a wonderful and sweet person.

Okay, y’all that’s all for now! Until next time (which will be tomorrow when I post about another book), hope y’all are doing awesome!

Mary

 

The timeless words of Abraham Lincoln

Today is the 153rd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address given by Abraham Lincoln. Those of us who love Lincoln most likely have it, or at least most of it, memorized – a feat I undertook a the age of seven. Even those who may not be as familiar with him will recognize at least a few lines from one of Lincoln’s greatest and most well-known speeches (and perhaps one of the most famous speeches in the entire world).

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live…

that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, but this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom…

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“Gettysburg Address” by Mort Kunstler. He’s one of my favourite artists EVER. Amazing painter. Google him.

These words, along with the entire speech, are so well known, just as many of Lincoln’s speeches are. And if not the entire speech, at least a few lines are known from them and often quoted.

Now, more than ever, we need Lincoln’s words. Not just from the Gettysburg Address, but from his other speeches – the First Inaugural, the Second Inaugural and many others. I don’t need to say why we need them ever. We all know why. 

This post came to me about 30 minutes before I had to leave for work yesterday. I knew I wanted to write something to post on the anniversary of the address…but what exactly to write evaded me.  Given the turmoil happening in a country that is a like my second home, a country I love very much and a country where many that I love very dearly live (y’all know who you are) I wanted to write something hopeful, something positive. I’ve been turning to Lincoln’s words very much in recent weeks and I know a few others who have been doing this as well. So, this post is to bring hope, to show how remembering what Lincoln said – not just the Gettysburg Address but his other speeches as well – can perhaps help us see a light in the darkness, and most of all, remember what he stood for.

His words show us how he felt about his country, how much he loved it but also how we should be to others. To have empathy, as he did. To accept, as he did. To laugh, as he so very much loved to do. To grieve and to feel sorrow. But most of all, to find hope. His words are absolutely timeless.

There are so many lines that come to mind. I can’t possibly write them all down here. But some of my favourites that I find solace in, that bring me hope, that remind the type of person I should strive to be, are the ones I’ve chosen to include in this post.

The one I’ve been thinking of the most lately is from his First Inaugural, given on March 4, 1861…

I am loathe to close. We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as they surely will be, by the better angels of our nature.

It is “….not enemies but friends” and “…the better angels of our nature” that move me the most. It is these lines that remind me to be a good person, to treat people with respect and that though we may have differences, we need to stay together and be friends. And, if not friends, respect people for their differences.

His Second Inaugural, given on March 4th, 1864, is another one that stands out in my mind, and there is one very line in particular:

With malice toward none

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Abraham Lincoln giving his Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1864

Those four words to me have always stood out to me. Just like the First Inaugural, they remind us how they should be. On a more grander scale, the rest of the closing of the speech is powerful too, showing that darkness can be overcome:

…let us strive to finish the word we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Lincoln, so well ahead of his time, knew peace could be achieved. I believe he truly did.

From his Annual Message to Congress on December 1, 1862:

The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just – a way which, if follow, the world will forever applaud…

From the Cooper Union Address, given on February 27, 1860:

Let us have faith the right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dar to do our duty as we understand it…

And here are some random quotes that I love…

Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them.

He reminds us to never give up…

Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life.

The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a case we believe to be just; it shall not deter me. (“Speech on the Sub-Treasury” given in the Illinois House of Representatives December 26, 1839)

Having friends is awesome…

The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships…

So, those are just a few of my favourite words from one of my favourite men, Abraham Lincoln.

One line in the Gettysburg Address that has always stuck out to me (especially when I was 7, this line really hit me…)

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here…

It is not surprising that Lincoln, a truly humble man, would say this. He was sure his words would not go down in history. But as we remember today, on this 153rd anniversary, his words are still very much alive as they were that very long time ago. Many years from now his timeless words will continue to be remembered and perhaps, things like “…the better angels of our nature” and “…with malice toward none” will be taken more to heart.

Abraham Lincoln helped his nation through a very dark time. Lincoln’s words are timeless and in them we can find hope to persevere, hope that we can become better people and most of all, find hope that the darkness, when it happens, can be overcome and that the light will shine through. Lincoln helped get his country through a dark time and these words show just that.

I’d love to know some of your favourite words from Lincoln. Please leave them in a comment, write me on Twitter or on my Facebook page. And tell me why that particular line from a speech or from something he said means so much to you.

Thank you so much for reading. Y’all are awesome.

Until next time,

Mary

“With a few simple cautions, he hopes to lead you to achievements equal to those of the past…”

It began with a letter to his men written by his Aide-de-Camp, L.M. Dayton, on November 8, 1864:

The general commanding deems it proper at this time to inform the officers and men of the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth and the Twentieth Corps, that he has organized them into an army for a special purpose, well known to the War Department and to General Grant. It is sufficient for you to know that it involves departure from our present base, and a long and difficult march to a new one. All the chances of war have been considered and provided for, as far as human sagacity can. All the asks of you is to maintain that discipline, patience and courage, which have characterized you in the past; and he hopes, through you, to strike a blow at our enemy that will have material effect in producing what we all so much desire, his complete overthrow. Of all things, the most important is, that the  men during marches and in camp, keep their places and do not scatter about as stragglers or foragers, to be picked up by a hostile people in detail. It is also of the utmost importance that our wagons should not be loaded with anything but provisions and ammunition. All surplus servants, non-combatants, and refugees, should now go to the rear, and none should be encouraged to encumber the march. At some future time we will be able to provide for the poor whites and blacks who seek to escape the bondage under which they are now suffering. With these few simple cautions, he hopes to lead you to achievements equal in importance to those of the past. 

By order of Major-General W.T. Sherman

L.M. Dayton, Aide-de-Camp

As you can see, the above letter was sent to the soldiers who were in the army of my favourite Civil War General, William Tecumseh Sherman. This was the letter that was sent informing troops they would be going on what has become known as  Sherman’s March To The Sea. Also issued at this time was Special Field Orders. No 120.  I’m going to discuss that more in another post.

Cump was about to “make Georgia howl”. In a cable to Grant on October 9, 1864, he stated:

If the North can march an army right through the South, it is proof positive  that the North can prevail in this contest…Even without battle, the result operating upon the minds of sensible men would produce fruits more than compensating for the expense, trouble and risk

Robert L. O’Connell says it best in his biography about Sherman called “Fierce Patriot”: “Sherman was proposing a trek across the mind of the South as much as a march across their territory”. In other words, this was not just physical war. Sherman was about to crush the morale of the south.

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What I call the “Sherman Stare”. It’s a thing. And it’s sexy.

The troops were, of course, in Atlanta, Georgia. And the place where they were headed? First stop was Milledgeville. The final stop? The ultimate goal? Savanah. A distance of approximately 285 miles. Wow…

And for that, you need soldiers who are in very good shape. These were the Spartans of the Civil War. Sherman had medical inspectors. They went through ALL the troops. The result? Around 62,000 troops who were in very good shape. O’Connell states that “the weeding out process had left them feeling like members of a truly elite force”. You can bet this also boosted morale about them and with Uncle Billy knowing “exactly where he was going and what he was doing” (O’Connell) , these men probably felt damn near invincible. They would be walking fifteen to twenty miles a day carrying a blanket, pot, extra shirt, socks, canteen, food, gun plus forty rounds of ammo. This was considered the bare essentials.

And like I mentioned, Atlanta to Savannah is a LONG way when you’re on your feet…

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Map showing the route of the March to the Sea. I’ll explain why there is a left and right light. In short: it’s called confusing the enemy, keeping them thinking and yes, Sherman was playing the mind game with the South.

Military strategist/genius/hottie that Sherman was, he didn’t want the Confederacy to know what he was up to (though they had their suspicions). Cump meant business. This is why there is a right wing, led by General Oliver O. Howard and a left wing, led by General Harvey W. Slocum. These two divergent lines, as Cump explains in his memoirs, were designed to threaten both Macon and Augusta and “to prevent a concentration at our intended destination”, of which was Milledgeville.

Keep ’em guessing, Cump.

Sherman estimated 7 seven days to arrive at Milledgeville.

It was on November 15, 1864 that Howard with the 15th and 17th Corps plus cavalry and Slocum with the 20th Corps, left Atlanta. Sherman would leave the next day. He stayed behind with the 14th Corps, which would eventually join General Slocum.

Sherman stayed behind to complete the loading the trains and for the destruction of many of the buildings in Atlanta. He believed they “could be converted to hostile uses” and he clearly wanted to make sure that did NOT happen.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be doing more posts about Sherman’s March to the Sea. One of the best accounts I’ve ever read of it is in Robert L. O’Connell’s “Fierce Patriot”. If y’all haven’t read that one yet and are looking for a good bio about General Sherman, read this one! It is freaking awesome!

As always, thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Mary 🙂

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Sources

O’Connell, Robert L. “Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman”. Random House: New York, 2014.

Sherman, General William T. “Memoirs”. Barnes & Noble: New York, 2005 (originally published in 1886).

Trudeau, Noah Andre. “Southern Storm: Sherman’s March To The Sea”. Harper Collins: New York, 2008.

 

A “remarkable little horse” named Little Sorrel

In early May 1861 at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson seized 6 train cars, one of which was carrying horses. From these horses, Jackson ended up purchasing two – a large one for himself, which he called “Big Sorrel” (apparently, he was a beautiful, black Stallion) and a smaller one he named “Fancy” (who was not fancy but rather kind of shaggy and unruly looking), which he intended for his wife, Anna. Jackson soon found “Big Sorrel” was a bit of a spaz. Spazzy horses and battles do not mix well and clearly, Jackson knew this. He needed a horse that would have some level of “zen” amid the noises of guns, artillery, shouting and other general chaos that accompany battles.

He decided to try “Fancy”, the horse he had intended for Anna. Upon riding him, Jackson remarked “a seat on him was like being rocked in a cradle” and that he “showed a smooth pace and even temper” (quite the opposite of Spazzy) . Jackson also changed the horse’s name to Little Sorrel. Thus began another famous horse and rider duo from the Civil War – that of General Stonewall Jackson and his Morgan horse, Little Sorrel (Anna ended up with Spazzy McSpaz a.k.a. Big Sorrel). Meanwhile, the brown coloured Little Sorrel would be Jackson’s primary horse/animal BFF from 1861  until Jackson was wounded at Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. He would subsequently die of pneumonia on May 10, 1863.

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“There Stands Jackson Like A Stonewall”. Painting by Mort Kunstler.

A bit of backstory on Little Sorrel (cause after doing some digging and falling down rabbit holes, I managed to find a few tidbits for y’all…)

Little Sorrel was a small Morgan horse, about 15 hands high, or 5 feet at his shoulders and was about 11 years old when Jackson took him under his wing. He is said to have been born around 1850 on the farm of Noah C. Collins in Somers, Connecticut and is believed to be a descendent of the original Morgan horse, born in 1789 to Springfield, Connecticut. These horses are known for their short legs and stocky bodies which Little Sorrel possessed and which makes the Morgan an ideal battle horse (remember, spazzy horses are bad. Zen horses are where it’s at). The Morgan horses are also known for their endurance, quickness and agility. Also, like many of the Civil War horses and their BFF General’s, Little Sorrel became almost an extension of Stonewall’s personality, and was often seemingly as calm as his General was during battles (no word on if Little Sorrel enjoyed to eat lemons like Stonewall did). During breaks in battle, Little Sorrel was known to lie down and sleep.  Kyd Douglas, a member of Jackson’s staff had this to say about Little Sorrel:

“…[he was] a remarkable little horse. Such endurance I have never seen in horse flesh. We had no horse at Headquarters that could match him. I never saw him show a sign of fatigue.”

Douglas was being quite serious – on long marches, Sorrel could cover 40 miles in one day. Jackson was so comfortable on him, that he would often sleep during part of these marches.

The Jackson/Sorrel duo  would make the soldiers rally and would boost morale (this is much the same as it was for General Sheridan and Rienzi on the Union side. More on that partnership in another blog post). The ironic thing was, however, that Jackson didn’t like the cheering and was actually somewhat embarrassed by it. Little Sorrel seemed to grow to learn this and “whenever Confederates raised loud and friendly noise, the horse would break into a gallop and carry [Jackson] speedily along”. 

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“Horse and Man” by Mort Kunstler. I believe this painting truly captures the bond between Jackson and Sorrel, a bond that happened with many horses from the Civil War and their Generals. 

Little Sorrel and General Jackson were in many battles together – First Manasses (I did find one source that stated Jackson actually borrowed a horse for this battle. More sources said he had Little Sorrel at the battle) & Second Manassas (or Bull Run), Kernstown, McDowell, Front Royal, Winchester, Cross Keys, Port Republic, Cedar Mountain, Harper’s Ferry, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Seven Days Campaign, and finally, Chancellorsville in early May 1863. This battle would prove to be the last battle both General Jackson and Little Sorrel were in.

General Jackson was wounded by friendly fire at Chancellorsville on May 2nd, 1863. He ended up having his left arm amputated but he succumbed to pneumonia on May 10th. When Jackson had been shot, this is said to have the one and only time that Little Sorrel bolted. He is said to have remained on the battlefield after Jackson was taken away for medical attention. In all the chaos, no one was much paying attention to the gingerbread coloured horse who was wandering around. One account I read states that he was eventually found by two artillery soldiers who had no idea who the horses belonged to. One of them took it upon himself to start riding him. Eventually, Little Sorrel was recognized. He is said to have been given to General J.E.B. Stuart who gave Little Sorrel to Jackson’s widow, Anna.

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Confederate General JEB Stuart with his “impeccable” hat (y’all will get that joke if y’all have seen “Gods & Generals”). Skylark and Highfly were two of his horses.

Little Sorrel lived with Anna for a time. The horse became known as a “rascal” and he most certainly had a mind of his own. He the had ability to undo latches, untie ropes and even remove rails from fences so he could jump into another pasture. He was also known to let other horses out to tag along with him.

Eventually, Little Sorrel was moved to Stonewall’s old stomping grounds at the Virginia Military Institute or VMI. Here, he didn’t need to worry about latches, ropes or fences as he was free to graze on the lush, green parade grounds. I’m sure this was absolute heaven for him. It is clear, however, the Little Sorrel never forgot his friend Stonewall or the Civil War. This was always quite clear during artillery practice at VMI. Little Sorrel’s ears would stand up and his nostrils would flare at the sound of cannons. He would canter around as if looking for General Jackson. To me, this shows the bond that Jackson and Sorrel had with each other and clearly, Little Sorrel never forgot him.

Little Sorrel had gained as nearly as much fame as his General after the Civil War. As such, the horse made appearances at many fairs and veterans reunions. VMI cadets always accompanied him to make sure people did not pluck hair from his mane and tail for souvenirs (why do people have to be weird like that?).

Little Sorrel after the Civil War

In the later stages of his life, Little Sorrel lived at the Confederate Soldier’s Home in Richmond (also called Robert E. Lee Camp). Here, he was seen as a pet and absolutely adored by the veterans. Little Sorrel eventually developed arthritis. It reached a point where the elderly horse could no longer stand. Curious onlookers often came to see Jackson’s famous horse and so the veterans at the home made a sling and hoist to help Little Sorrel stand up. Unfortunately, one day there was an accident and the sling broke causing Little Sorrel to fall. In the fall, the horse broke his back which proved to be mortal.

Little Sorrel’s final hours were not spent alone, however. He was cared for by the veterans and one in particular, stayed by his side:

“An old Confederate veteran, Tom O’Connell, stood by during the day and at night slept beside his charge [Little Sorrel] until he went over the green fields of some animal heaven to rest in peace and honor”.

Or perhaps he found Jackson on the other side of the river.

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This beautiful painting by Mort Kunstler is titled “Cross Over The River, General Stonewall Jackson”.

After his death, Little Sorrel’s body was given to taxidermist Frederic Weber and mounted over plastic. Weber kept Little Sorrel’s bones (umm…gross) as part of payment but he later donated them to The Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One can imagine this angered many southerners. I will come back to this in a few sentences. As Aaron Burr says in Hamilton…”wait for it…” (psst, Jen…there’s a Hamilton reference for you). You can view Little Sorrel today at VMI

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There’s something slightly creepy but cool about this…

Little Sorrel’s legacy continues to live on to this day. He is nearly as famous as General Robert E. Lee’s horse, Traveller.In 1990, a street was named after him in his birthplace of Somers, Connecticut. There are also a few statues showing General Jackson and Little Sorrel.

 

Oh, hey, remember the thing about the bones?

Here’s the story…

In 1997, the bones of Little Sorrel were returned to the VMI. On July 20 of that year, they were buried at the foot of a statue of General Jackson. Dirt from every battlefield where Jackson and Little Sorrel had been together was placed in the grave. The site was also flanked (Haha. That was Sherman’s signature move…) by wreaths of apples and carrots plus several horseshoes.I’m sure had he been there Little Sorrel would have made short order of those wreaths.

That’s the story of Little Sorrel, the horse of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Thanks, y’all, for reading. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed researching it.

Until next time…

Mary

P.S. I’ve used a few Mort Kunstler paintings in this post. To view more of his beautiful artwork, please visit here .

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Sources

Gwynne, S.C. “Rebel Yell”. Simon & Schuster: New York, 2014.

“Jackson’s Most Trusted Sidekick” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/apr/7/20060407-090610-9730r/

“Little Sorrel Buried at VMI July 20, 1997” http://vaudc.org/sorrell.html

“Little Sorrel, Connecticut’s Confederate War Horse” http://connecticuthistory.org/little-sorrel-connecticuts-confederate-war-horse/

“Stonewall Jackson FAQ” http://www.vmi.edu/archives/stonewall-jackson-resources/stonewall-jackson-faq/

“Stonewall Jackson’s Horse, Little Sorrel” http://www.horseandman.com/horse-stories/stonewall-jacksons-horse-little-sorrel/11/11/2014/

“Stonewall Jackson’s Stuffed Horse” http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/3611

“Traveller and Little Sorrel – The War Horses of Lee and Jackson” http://www.civilwarprofiles.com/traveller-and-little-sorrel-the-war-horses-of-lee-and-jackson/

Early Mornings…

Morning, y’all!
Here’s how a Civil War fangirl spends her morning when she has a silly head cold.

A good cup of tea, Donald’s bio on Lincoln (White’s bio is also there too) and a cool bookmark from Iceland.

I couldn’t sleep so rather than tossing and turning, I decided to be productive and make some headway in Donald’s bio of Lincoln (which, I confess, I have taken far too long in reading. I’m a slow reader AND I usually have five books on the go).


I graffiti the hell out of my books and sticky notes have become my friend again. I need to write notes and highlight or else I have a tough time retaining information.
So, this morning I’ve been reading about my fav guy Lincoln winning the election, and now I’m onto his cabinet selection. It’s amazing how much reasoning and calculation went into selection of his cabinet. He was striving for balance, as he said to Thurlow Weed, whom felt Lincoln had given favour to the democrats: “You seem to forget that I expect to be there; and counting me as one, you see how nicely the cabinet would be balanced and ballasted”. Again, he knew exactly what he was doing!

Of course when I’m reading too, tons of blog post ideas flood my mind! I do go through lulls where I don’t get many ideas, but lately I’ve had quite a few. So, expect posts about:

  • Little Sorrel – General Jackson’s horse. I did a poll on Twitter and over on my Facebook page for this blog. Little Sorrel was the popular one.
  • Rienzi – Philip Sheridan’s horse. You might also know him as Winchester.
  • A post or post(s) (haven’t decided yet) about the relationship between Sherman and Lincoln. I’ve been reading a bio about Sherman and am just passed the part about First Bull Run. There’s a quite a story about his interaction with Lincoln here and that’s where I came up with the idea.
  • Posts about some of Lincoln’s cabinet members – Gideon Welles definitely comes to mind for this. He’s one of my favorites and his diary is an amazing primary source for anything to do with Lincoln’s cabinet and the Civil War.

Those are just a few of the ideas floating around in my mind right now. Do you have any suggestions for posts I could do? Just let me know in the comments below, on Twitter or on my Facebook page. I’m always open to suggestions!

Hope y’all are doing well. As always, thanks for reading.

Happy Saturday!

-Mary

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