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

Archive for the category “Gettysburg”

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.

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

“He is one of the bravest men…”

It’s funny how I will develop an interest in someone from the Civil War, especially some high ranking officer. It’s often the eyes that strike me the most. Or just that they’re damn fine looking gentlemen. I give you a wonderful example below of my two favourites…

If y’all follow me on Twitter, you know how much I love General Sherman and probably have picked up on how much I LOVE General John Reynolds as well. With Reynolds, it was totally the eyes that struck me the most and it turns out he was a pretty damn fascinating guy. You can check the post I wrote about him here.

It was much the same when I came across this handsome gentleman. Totally the eyes AGAIN. Y’all, meet Major General John Gibbon…

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Major General John Gibbon. Intense eyes AND yes, he’s an interesting fellow…

Of course I wanted to know more about him. Just as was the case with General Reynolds, Major General Gibbon is an interesting guy. I recently wrote a post about the Battle of South Mountain, in which Gibbon was a part of at Turner’s Gap. Check it out here.

On to more about Gibbon. Here we go…

John Gibbon was born on April 20, 1827 in Philadelphia, PA. When he was ten years old, Gibbon and his family moved to the Charleston, South Carolina. His father had accepted a position of Chief Assayer (basically, analyzing the quantity of gold, silver, etc. in a coin) at the U.S. Mint.

In 1842 at the age of 15, John was appointed to the US Military Academy at West Point. He had discipline problems (i.e. rebel, badass, etc) and ended up having to repeat his ENTIRE first year. Clearly, mistakes were made but lessons were learned. After this, his time there and, subsequently, his entire military career was defined by rigid discipline. He graduated in the middle of his class in 1847.Two of his classmates were Ambrose Burnside and Ambrose Powell Hill.

After graduation, John was made Brevet 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd US Artillery.

He was in Mexico during the Mexican-American war, but saw no action there. He was also in Florida and in Texas.

In 1854, he returned to West Point where he taught artillery tactics. This proved to be quite a fit for him and must have been something he enjoyed, because he ended up writing an ENTIRE book about it called the Artillerist’s Manual. It was published in 1859, and was adopted by the War Department very quickly. It ended up being used by both the Union and the Confederate Armies during the Civil War.

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I bought an e-version of this from Amazon. My partner’s reaction: “We’re probably on some list now…”.

In 1855, Gibbon married Francis North Moale and together they had four children: Frances Moale, Catharine (Katy), John Jr. (he died as a toddler) & John S. Gibbon.

Life seemed to be rolling along smoothly for John when the Civil War broke out in 1861. His father, who still lived in the south, was a slave owner. John’s three brothers and his cousin, J. Johnston Pettigrew, all fought for the Confederacy.

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John Gibbon’s cousin, J.Johnston Pettigrew. He was involved in Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. He was killed at Bunker Hill, West Virginia, on July 17, 1863.

John, who was stationed in Utah at the time, decided to remain loyal to the Union. He took the oath to the United States and reported to Washington. Here he was made Chief of Artillery for Major General Irwin McDowell.

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Major General Irvin McDowell. Hails from Columbus, Ohio. Unfortunately, best known for his defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run. Well, f%^&

In 1862, the Gibbs (I know, so not an original nickname is you watch NCIS but…come on…it works! And it’s kinda cute…) was promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers and placed in charge of King’s Wisconsin Brigade, made of men from Wisconsin (duh), Michigan & Indiana. He proved to be quite good at handling the volunteers, and, unlike other officers, he did not have a negative opinion of them.  Not only was he big into drilling his soldiers but he used a rigid discipline system to turn them into being some of the most bad-ass, ferocious fighters in the Army of the Potomac. Gibbs believed the best way to promote such rigid discipline was using a system of awards (gold star, anyone?!) to recognize good behaviour and, for not-so-good behaviour, he used penalties that were meant to hurt their pride.

A few examples…

Fence stealing was popular (cause why not steal a fence when you’re a volunteer soldier, right?) amongst his brigade. Fence pieces would be used for shelter or fires. This extra curricular activity dwindled after Gibbs came on the scene. Fence stealing ain’t so much fun when you have to rebuild said fence.

On a positive note, however, the Gibbs discovered that giving the well-behaved soldiers 24 hour passes was a thing of miracles for promoting good behaviour. Y’all, this 24 hour pass was their version of a gold star. Leave camp, go have fun! I’d be good to if it meant I got to leave camp for 24 hours and go play cards (cards being a euphemism for various sorts of shenanigans I won’t mention on here) with the locals.

He also changed the uniform of the soldiers. The most notable of these changes was the hat. He replaced the traditional Kepi with the black felt Hardee hat. Soon after this, they became known as the Black Hat Brigade.

Clearly, Gibbs wanted his bad-ass Brigade to stand out.

And stand out his brigade did…

He fought at Second Manasses at Brawner’s Farm. This was one of the most intense fire fights of the entire Civil War. One of his solider’s remarked of him after the battle:

How completely that little battle removed all dislike from the strict disciplinarian, and how great became the admiration and love for him, only those who have witnessed similar changes can appreciate…

Gibbs was at South Mountain at Turner’s Gap. It was here that either General Joseph Hooker or G McC (my pet name for General McClellan) christened Gibbon’s brigade as the “Iron Brigade”. The men had “fought like iron”.

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Part of the Iron Brigade

At Antietam, the Iron Brigade had heavy losses. It was here that Gibbon manned an artillery piece during the very bloody fighting in the Cornfield.

In late 1862, John was promoted to the 2nd Division, I Corps. This meant he would be separated from his “Iron Brigade”:

My feeling was one of regret at the idea of being separated from my gallant brigade.

It is said that John Reynolds picked up on this and said he could offer it to someone else. Gibbs, despite qualms about leaving, did accept the new position he had been offered. One officer of the Iron Brigade described Gibbon as “a most excellent officer…beloved and respected by his whole command”.

His love of this brigade and its men evidently stuck with the Gibbs throughout his life. His answer to an invitation to all soldiers honorably discharged from Wisconsin shows how he felt towards them:

I was not a Wisconsin soldier, and have not been honorably discharged, but at the judgement day I want to be with Wisconsin soldiers. 

So, on it was to his new command, and the first battle he led them at was Fredericksburg. It was here Gibbon ended up receiving a wound near his wrist after a shell exploded close by. This put him out of duty for several months.

He was back in time for Gettysburg. It was here he commanded the 2nd Division of General Winfield Scott Hancock’s II Corps.

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General Winfield Scott Hancock. As my #soulsister Jen would say…#HeyGirl. She’ll also be happy I  managed to include a photo of him in this post. 🙂

On July 3rd at Gettysburg, Gibbon was at Cemetery Ridge. His major role in the battle was the repulse of Pickett’s Charge. In a council of war meeting (sounds like Game of Thrones shit happening here…) the night before, General Meade had pulled Gibbon aside and predicted that if Lee were to attack, it would be right where Gibbon would be. Eerily enough, Meade was right. Gibbon’s division did bear the brunt of the fighting, as predicted by Meade. Both Gibbon and Hancock ended up getting wounded here.

With being wounded, Gibbs was out of action and he ended up being sent to Cleveland, Ohio where he worked in a draft depot.

I’m sure that was really exciting…

But here’s something really cool. While Gibbon was still recovering from his wounds (okay, so that’s not so cool but this next part is the total silver lining in it all), he was able to attend the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. Y’all know what happened on that day, right? GETTYSBURG ADDRESS BY MY FAVOURITE MAN. How  awesome is it that Gibbon got to see and hear Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address? Also, could you imagine being there at the Gettysburg Address? Lincoln and Gibbon in the same place? I would have been fangirling big time. On a serious note, it would have been absolutely amazing to witness the Gettysburg Address, perhaps one of the most amazing speeches ever written (that’s for another post though).

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I had to put a photo in of my fav man! #heygirl #fangirl Also, the crooked bowtie is awesome. #workit

Once he’d recovered from his wounds, Gibbon was back in action again. He dove right back in for the Overland Campaign and fought at Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. On June 7th, 1864,  he was promoted to Major General for his service in the Overland Campaign.

On August 25, 1864, he and his men fought in the Second Battle of Reams Station. He felt his Division had fought poorly and this very much disheartened. At this time, he also began to quarrel with his superior, General Hancock. I’m guessing Hancock was probably not a good man to cross. Although promoted briefly to command the XVIII Corps, Gibbs ended up going on sick leave.

In January 1865 he came back and was given command of the XXIV Corps in the newly created Army of the James. James Rufus Davies, a member of the Iron Brigade, had this to say about Gibbon receiving this command:

His honors are fairly won. He is one of the bravest men. He was with us on every battlefield

On April 2, 1865, Gibbon was involved in the Third Battle of Petersburg. This battle was also known as (SPOILER ALERT) the Fall of Petersburg, so I think we all know how that turned out for the Confederates. It was during this battle that the Gibbs captured Fort Gregg, part of the Confederate defences.

During the Appomattox Campaign, Gibbon blocked the Confederate escape route during the battle of Appomattox Courthouse.

At the conclusion of the Appomattox Campaign, Gibbon served as the Surrender Commissioner.

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Can y’all spot Gibbon? And check out the evil eye on Sheridan towards Lee.

After the Civil War, Gibbs was demoted to being a Colonel in the regular army (this apparently happened quite a bit. It’s complicated to get into and I’m just beginning to learn about it myself). Gibbon spent much time on the frontier. He was mainly engaged in the Indian Wars. It was Gibbon who came upon the remains of Custer and his men after the Battle of Little Big Horn.

In 1885, he was promoted to Brigadier General in the regular army. He was placed in command of the Department of Columbia, which represented all points of the Pacific Northwest. In 1890, he was made head of the Military Division of the Atlantic. He only held this post for a year, however, as he was forced to retire in 1891.

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Gibbs aged well. #finewine #swoon

In all, he served nearly fifty years! John Gibbon passed away on February 6, 1896 in Baltimore, Maryland and he is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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One cool thing I learned in researching this post is that Gibbon has a few towns that are named after him. Thanks for my cool Twitter follower @AndersenTy, I found out there is a town in Nebraska called Gibbon. Yes, named after John Gibbon. There are others too – in Oregon, Minnesota, and Washington. Gibbon River and Falls in Yellowstone National Park is also named after him. Gibbon went there on an 1872 expedition.

Besides “The Artillerist’s Manual”, Gibbon also wrote two other books, both of which were published posthumously: “Personal Recollections of the Civil War” (1928) and “Adventures On The Western Frontier” (1994).

Just on the lighter side of things, apparently Gibbon was quite the colourful speaker, something which I appreciate because I do have a knack for use of colourful language myself (as I’m sure y’all have picked up on from some of my blog posts or videos). A member of General Meade’s staff described Gibbon as having an “up-and-down manner of telling the truth, no matter whom it hurt”. In other words, he was blunt. He could also out-swear most officers in the Army of the Potomac, which does make him a personal hero of mine now (upon finding this out, I blurted out “that is f&^%ing awesome!”).  Apparently, the exception to this rule was Andrew Humphreys  and quite possibly (and for some reason this did not surprise me), Winfield Scott Hancock.

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Major General Andrew Humphreys, known potty-mouth of the Army of the Potomac. #lifegoals

Gibbon was a really cool, interesting guy. He was clearly well-respected by his troops and despite being a strict disciplinarian, a hard-ass and a-type about drilling his soldiers, in his heart he clearly cared about those he commanded. He created some of the most bad-ass fighters in the Army of the Potomac when he commanded the Iron Brigade. And the men he commanded after that were just equally as bad-ass. I’ll end this post by leaving you with a photo of the monument to Gibbon, which is at Gettysburg. It was dedicated on July 3, 1988 and it close to where he was wounded during Pickett’s Charge. Check out the swagger…

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#workit #heygirl #sexyboots #swagger

As always, thanks for reading! I hope y’all enjoyed this post. I certainly enjoyed researching and writing it.

Until next time,

Mary

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Sources

“John Gibbon”. Civil War Trust. http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/john-gibbon.html?referrer=https://www.google.ca/

“John Gibbon, Loyal and Able Soldier” http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=139325

Nolan, Alan T. “The Iron Brigade: A Military History” Indiana University Press: Indianapolis. 1961.

Reardon, Carol & Tom Vossler. “A Field Guide To Gettysburg”. University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill.2013.

John Gibbon. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gibbon

 

 

Reason #20 Why You Need To Watch “Firefly”…

My partner and I had a quiet night in. We went out for dinner with my parentals. Afterwards, we played Firefly Fluxx. I won the first round with my boys Mal & Wash…


After three rounds (two of which I won…just sayin’…), we decided “hey, let’s start watching “Firefly” again! ” cause you know, it’s only been two months since my first time through.

Yup…it’s that good.

Now you’re about to find out why I’m blogging about it on my Civil War blog.

Y’all, here it is: “Firefly” is a sci-fi western written & directed by the awesome Joss Whedon. What did Joss Whedon base this amazing show on?  “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara. That’s right. This awesome Sci-Fi Western is based on a novel about the battle of Gettysburg. Yup. When my brother told me I was all “WTF?” and I didn’t watch it cause it sounded silly.

But FINALLY I watched it…

And fell in love…

With Mal…

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Oh, damn, Mal…

With Kaylee…

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Kaylee Frye…major girl crush…

And Wash…oh, Wash…

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Hoban “Wash” Washburne…the guy I didn’t realize how much I loved until the end of the series…”I am a leaf on the wind…”

And Jayne…as much of an idiot as he is, I can’t help but love him for that…

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That f&%*ing hat is awesome…

And the whole show. It’s awesome. Y’all need watch it.

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All my loves from Firefly: Jayne, Kaylee, Shepherd, Simon, Inara, Mal, Zoe, Wash & River

And something cool I discovered? I’ve always thought that Malcolm Reynolds was based on union hottie General John Reynolds. Not just the last name but just how Mal is. I’m seeing it more the second time around.

They kind of look alike too

I was looking at info about Mal on the Firefly Wiki tonight and found his birthdate: September 20, 2468

Random, right?

Nope.

September 20th is not random. It is the same day as my Union Rock Star General John Fulton Reynolds was born. Granted, Reynolds was born in 1820 (same year as my man Sherman).

Wow. Cool. Kudos to Joss Whedon.

Watching the first episode the second time through makes me realize how much of the Civil War is woven into this show. That if the Civil War is an interest of yours, watch “Firefly” and after that, the movie “Serenity” because the a-holes at Fox cancelled “Firefly”. And “Serenity” wraps it all up.

But this connection of date of birth between John & Mal? It made the show mean that much more to me. And I thought it was the most awesome thing ever when I found out. Mal is awesome and so is Reynolds.

It’s the little things like that I love about the show. I love how the American Civil War is woven into the show in little ways like that.

Malcolm Reynolds, I believe, is Joss Whedon’s way of paying homage to the Union Rock Star General John Fulton Reynolds.

That’s reason #20 of why you need to watch “Firefly”.

That…and seeing Mal in a bonnet is hilarious…

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“I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you…”. SLAY, MAL, SLAY!!!

As always, thanks for reading.

Mary 🙂

P.S. SHINY!! (Watch “Firefly” and you’ll get this expression)

The Whirlwind Journey To Here…

I’ve been interested in Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War for as long as I can remember. Well, since at least six years of age. That’s a long time, considering I turn 34 in a couple of weeks. I’ve been asked a few times, especially since I’m a Canadian, how I came to be OBSESSED with American’s 16th President and the Civil War.

So, I decided to make a video about it. It’s about 18 minutes long. I totally get if you just skim through it or don’t watch it. I also made it for myself because I wanted to start posting videos on here and I’m trying to become more comfortable with doing that. I have social anxiety…this is a HUGE thing for me to be able to do this.

So, a couple things…

  1. The video is very amateur. I didn’t edit it or anything. It’s the raw footage as I shot it yesterday in my basement with my iPad.
  2. I swear a little bit. Okay, sometimes more than a little bit. Just a warning. I start talking and my filter doesn’t always kick in.
  3. I ramble.
  4. I don’t look at the camera.
  5. I’m learning as I go. And it’s been a good experience so far.

So, here’s the video…how I became a history geek…

Oh, there’s a few things I mention in the video and I’ve posted the photos below, just so y’all have reference to them…

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This is it. The book that started it all for me. I still have it, along with all the other books in the series, in the black hole that is my parent’s place.

The above photos are from my first visit to Gettysburg with my highschool when I was 16. It was an amazing experience.

Oh, and here’s the blog post I mention about when my husband and I went to DC. We got lost in Arlington National Cemetery. If you EVER go on a trip with me, DO NOT let me navigate UNLESS you want to get lost. If that’s the case, by all means, let me navigate. I was born with a broken GPS and I will get us lost.

Oh, and I give a shout out to a few people in my video. I’m taking it down to nerves (and really, I should have sat and made a list), but there are a few other people to mention that follow me on Twitter (and I follow them and immensely enjoy their tweets): Old News Co, Kimi, Roxi, Bob, Ethan, Mike, Abbie. And anyone else…I love y’all just as much! I hate leaving people out…

Oh, and I’d love to hear how y’all became interested into history, Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, etc. I always love to hear how people become passionate about the things they love! Feel free to leave your story in the comments!

As always, thank you for reading (and if you watched the video, awesome!). I love and appreciate all of you.

Until next time…

Mary a.k.a Civil War Fangirl a.k.a Miss_Bellatrix

Union Rock Stars: Major General John Fulton Reynolds

I’ve gone down a rabbit hole of sorts with someone from the Civil War. Surprise, surprise. It started when I was at Barnes and Noble earlier this week and I picked up this Gettysburg Field Guide…

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…and landed on a page with a photo of this handsome gentleman, Major General John Fulton Reynolds…

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“Every girl crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man…”. Reynolds was one of the Rock Star Union Generals (and kinda hot). His horses were Fancy &  Prince.

Something about seeing him made me want to learn more him and down the rabbit hole I went. Turns out he’s a very interesting fellow and was perhaps one of the most talented men in the Union Army at the time of his death at Battle of Gettysburg.

Born on September 20, 1820 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (about 50 miles from Gettysburg) Reynolds graduated from West Point in 1841 (a year after Sherman. Yes, I had to stick him somewhere in this post…). As with many of the well known military personalities from the Civil War, Reynolds fought in the Mexican War. He proved himself to be quite talented during this war, and was brevetted (in other words, promoted) twice for gallantry. He especially proved himself at the Battle of Buena Vista, when his artillery stopped a flanking attack by enemy cavalry, forcing the Mexican Army to withdraw.

In 1860, he was back at West Point, this time as commandant of cadets and an instructor in tactics. When the Civil War broke out, he was appointed Brigadier General of volunteers. It was here he began a lengthy association with the Pennsylvania Reserves. Also, another tidbit of information, while Reynolds was Pro-Union, he did not support anti-slavery politics.

During the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, Reynolds occupied and became military governor of Fredericksburg, Virginia. He fought during the Seven Days Campaign, commanding his brigade at the Battle of Beaver Dam Creek and Gaines Mill. It was after Gaines Mill Reynolds had an “oh shit” moment (well, it was more than a moment, I suppose) when he ended up getting captured by the Confederate Army. After Gaines Mill, Reynolds had not slept for a few days and was absolutely exhausted. He was attempting to sleep when the Confederate Army found him and captured him. Reynolds was no doubt embarrassed. Confederate General D.H. Hill, who also happened to be a friend of Reynolds, tried to reassure him that all would be fine by saying “do not feel so bad about your capture, its the fate of wars” (#nothelping). He was held at Libby Prison but luckily for him, this was not to last long. On August 15, 1862, he was exchanged and released back to the Union Army.

Back in the saddle on either Prince or Fancy, Reynolds picked up where’d left off and show cased his military talent at the Second Battle of Bull Run. He led his men in a last ditch stand at Henry Hill. He shouted “Now boys, give them the steel, charge bayonets, double quick”. He assisted greatly in keeping the Confederates halted allowing the Union Army to retreat.

He was not at Antietam due to a slightly paranoid Governor of Pennsylvania, Andrew G. Curtin, wanting him to organize, train and lead a Pennsylvania militia called into active duty. Needless to say General McClellan and General Hooker were none too pleased about losing one of their military rock stars. They stated that “a scared governor ought not to be permitted to destroy the usefulness of an entire division”. Too bad the governor won out, much to the chagrin of Mac and Fightin’ Joe. (side note: Mac was not going to have to worry about it for long since Lincoln was about done with his shenanigans and Mac was about to relieved of *surprised gasp* command of the Army of the Potomac).

Off Reynolds went to train the militia…

Turns out he was only gone for a couple of weeks…

Reynolds was back for the Battle of Fredericksburg. By this time, the Army of the Potomac was now headed by General Burnside. Reynolds directed the First Corps. One his divisions was commanded by George Meade, who ended up making the only breakthrough at the battle. Reynolds failed to reinforce Meade because he had not received clear orders from from a Brigadier General William B. Franklin as to what his role was. #Frustrating.

Despite this, on November 29, 1862, Reynolds was promoted to Major General of Volunteers. It was also after this battle, he was one of a few generals to speak out against General Burnside.

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General Burnside (his horse was Old Bob) and Reynolds (dunno who Mr Blurry Face is in the background). I love this photo. Reynolds is looking RIGHT at the camera. And that stance. Damn…he looks like a man who gets shit done….

We all know what happened to Burnside…

Next up was Chancellorsville. In charge of the Army of the Potomac by this time was General “Fightin Joe” Hooker…

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General”Fightin’ Joe” Hooker. He got concussed at Chancellorsville after an incident with a cannon ball. His horse: Lookout (that’s the one one I could find. I’m sure he had more)

Major General Reynolds commanded the First Corps again at this battle. He ended up clashing with “Fightin Joe” when Hooker changed the placement of his troops, causing the XI Corps to become over run by General “Stonewall” Jackson and his troops before Reynolds could get his I Corps to their new position. The Union Army ended up having to retreat. Afterwards, a vote was held as to whether to proceed with battle. There was a 3 to 2 vote to continue and go on the offensive against the Confederates. Reynolds voted for the offensive. Hooker, however, made the ultimate decision, and despite the majority wanting the offensive, decided to withdraw the Army of the Potomac (I’m sure the other Generals that voted for the offensive were thinking “WTF, man?”). When awakened by Meade and told the news of the retreat, Reynolds said loud enough for Hooker to hear “What was the use of calling us together at this time of night when he intended to retreat anyhow?”. Yeah, I’d be angry too. Hooker did have a rough day though. Not only had Stonewall’s surprise attack rattle him to his core, he also had a concussion from an incident involving a cannonball striking the house he had set up command in.

Reynolds had voiced his concern for a good commander of the Army of the Potomac, stating “If we do not get someone soon who can command an army without consulting Stanton and Halleck at Washington, I do not know what will become of the army”. Clearly, Reynolds felt the army needed to be independent from the government in Washington and have the ability to make its own decisions. Just as he’d done with Burnside, Reynolds spoke out against General Hooker, calling for his removal. Before this could happen, Hooker ended up resigning. Of himself he said “To tell the truth, I just lost confidence in Joe Hooker”.

Reynolds had the talent to lead the Army of the Potomac. He’d proven himself to be excellent tactical commander on many occasions. President Abraham Lincoln recognized this in him and on June 2, 1863, the two met in Washington. Lincoln asked if Reynolds would lead the Army of the Potomac. His response was basically “Yup…if you’ll let me do what I want and let me have control. Oh, and no interference from Washington” (not exactly what he said but you get the idea…). Lincoln could not guarantee this. Sticking to what he firmly believed, Reynolds refused the command.

On June 28, 1863, General George Meade was given command of the Army of the Potomac. This was just a mere three days before the Battle of Gettysburg.

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General George Meade. Random fact: His horse was called Old Baldy. Coolest name ever for a horse.

On the morning of July 1st, Reynolds was leading his force to the little Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg when he found out Confederate Forces were almost there too. He met with Major General Buford there.

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Major General John Buford. Union Cavalry officer. He died five months after the Battle of Gettysburg. His horse was Grey Eagle

Reynolds shouted to him “What’s the matter, John?”. Buford replied “The devil’s to pay”.  Reynolds learned the situation – Buford’s  men were being pushed back by the Confederates and Reynolds had a choice: move back or fight.

He decided to fight.

Reynolds led the Iron Brigade to McPhearson’s Ridge. Out ahead of his men, he eyed the Confederates in an apple orchard . He turned back in his saddle and shouted to the infantry behind him: “Forward, forward, men! Drive those fellows out! Forward! For God’s sake, forward!”. These were to be his last words. Suddenly, he fell from his horse and lay still. An aid rushed to him and saw he’d been struck behind his right ear by a bullet. Major General John Fulton Reynolds, was said by Shelby Foote to be “not only the highest ranking but the best general in the Army” at the time of Gettysburg, was dead at the age of 42.

Of the death of Reynolds, one soldier wrote “his death affected us much for he was one of the soldier generals of the army”. Reynolds was incredibly talented, a gifted tactician and had proven himself many times on the battlefield. We’ll never know if he would have been offered command of the Army of the Potomac again but it’s easy to speculate he probably would have done well in that role. If he had lived, he, General Grant and General Sherman would have been a force to be reckoned with.

Reynolds was burned on July 4, 1863 in his hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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There are also a few memorials for him at Gettysburg, which I plan on going when I’m back there (hopefully in the Autumn)

I’m not done with Reynolds just yet. There is another part of his story I want to tell and it’s a bit of a love story. It deserves it’s own post though.

Thank you, as always, for reading!

Sources

Civil War Trust. “John F. Reynolds”. http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/John-F-Reynolds.html

Foote, Shelby. “The Civil War: A Narrative. Volume 2 Fredericksburg to Meridian”. New York: Random House, 1963

Reardon, Carol & Tom Vosslet. “A Field Guide To Gettysburg”. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2013

 

 

 

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