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 tag “civilwar”

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…”

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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.

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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. 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 🙂

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

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.

jeb_stuart

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.

little_sorrel_6

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

“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.

irwinmcdowell

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”.

ironbrigade

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).

abraham_lincoln_november_1863

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.

appomattox_surrender

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.

gibbon_grave

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

 

 

They “Fought Like Iron…”

I’ve mentioned a few times on Twitter that for the last little while I’ve been working on a blog post about this Union Army hottie Major General John Gibbon…

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“Hey, girl…” as my BFF Jen always says when we’re discussing the Generals we love. Gibbon is swoon worthy and y’all, he’s interesting as hell, too. Post will be done soon 🙂

Gibbon was the second commander of what is known as the Iron Brigade. The first commander was Union Brigadier General Rufus King. The Wisconsin Historical Society has some more information about him here

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Rufus King, first leader of the Iron Brigade. President Lincoln had originally appointed him Minister to the Papal States in 1861 but when the Civil War broke out, he took a leave of absence from this to join the Union Army. 

It was on May 7, 1862, when Special Order No. 46 was issued, giving command of the Iron Brigade to Brigadier General John Gibbon. To begin, the Brigade had consisted of the 2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiments, 19th from Indiana and Battery B of the 4th U.S. Light Artillery. The 24th Michigan later joined their ranks.

When I started researching John Gibbon and finding out that he led the Iron Brigade, one of the questions I had was just how had this Brigade come to be called the “Iron Brigade”?

Well, it happened 154 years ago today, during the Battle of South Mountain (also known as the Battle of Boonsboro Gap), which was part of the Maryland Campaign. It was fought at three separate passes where General Lee’s Army  (this is where I started to go down a rabbit hole but quickly got back out again. No, Mary, focus on how the Brigade was named. You don’t need to talk about the whole damn battle!):

So, I won’t go into a lot of detail about the battle but Civil War Trust has a good summary of the battle here. Also, I’ve included a couple maps too, just to give y’all an idea of where the battle was fought and who was where…

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Crampton’s Gap. Southern most post of the battle. The Union won the day here. 

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Fox’s & Turner’s Gap. The Federal’s almost take Fox’s Gap but Confederate General John Bell Hood arrives in time to stop this. Turner’s Gap is where the Iron Brigade earns it’s nickname.

 

Onto the naming of the Brigade. By this point, Gibbon’s Brigade was already standing out with their black Hardee hats. Ever the unique snowflake, it was Gibbon who had made them part of the uniform. Hence the other name they are also known by – the Black Hat Brigade.

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The Hardee hat, chosen by John Gibbon as part of their uniform. Hence the name “Black Hat Brigade”

The morning of September 14 found Gibbon and his men marching towards South Mountain. In short, General McClellan (henceforth known as G McC) had found General Lee’s Order 191 (Pro-tip: don’t roll important orders around a cigar. Someone will probably drop them), giving detailed plans of his army’s operation. Hence the marching to South Mountain. By this point, however, Bobbi Lee had found out G McC had found the order. He’d already reinforced South Mountain. I read a couple sources that state G McC was taking things at a “leisurely place”(*gasp* Is this what Lincoln referred to as “the slows”? I think so…).

Gibbon was marching with Brigadier General John Porter Hatch’s Division to begin with…

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John Porter Hatch. He was wounded at the Battle of South Mountain. After the battle, he was promoted to Major General of Volunteers. He also earned the Medal of Honor. 

Plans changed, however, and he received direct orders from General Ambrose Burnside to take his brigade plus Battery B (the artillery) back to the National Road. It was there they started advancing towards the mountain at what is known as Turner’s Gap.

It was Confederate General D.H. Hill who was defending Turner’s Gap, a man who John Gibbon knew personally as he’d been D.H. Hill’s groomsman at his wedding. This is one of those moments where I think of the Godfather: “It’s not personal, it’s strictly business”.

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Confederate General D.H. Hill. He was the brother-in-law of General “Stonewall” Jackson. Did not get on too well with Bobbi Lee, therefore was considered to be under utilized. This may be why he looks angry.

With support from Battery B, it was Gibbon’s Brigade on its own that was to go up the National Road and hit the center of the Confederate line at Turner’s Gap. Back at headquarters, G McC and Burnside would have front row seats, so to speak, to see Gibbon and his men in action. Since Bobbi Lee knew G McC would be coming to pay him a visit, General D.H. Hill had been reinforced already with brigades from Brigidier General J.R. Jones and General John Bell Hood. Of course he had artillery of his own too.

Gibbs and his Black Hat Brigade were going to have a tough climb up to Turner’s Gap towards Alfred H. Colquitt, who had 1,100 men with him. It was later in the afternoon when Gibbon finally received word from Burnside to move forward. As they started their ascent, Gibbon was mounted on his horse, commanding “Forward! Forward! Forward!”. They ascended towards Turner’s Gap, and they had a hell of a fight.

Much of the fighting was done in the darkness. The Black Hat Brigade fought hard and slowly, they gained ground, despite constant firing and shelling from the enemy. The Confederates were putting up a hell of a fight as well in order to hold their ground. Gibbon moved on the battlefield, directing his men where to go and seemingly staying quite cool considering the circumstances.

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Painting depicting the Iron Brigade fighting at Turner’s Gap. If anyone can tell me the name of the artist, please let me know! I couldn’t find it anywhere and they need credit for the this amazing painting.

Circumstances seemed grave near the end of the night and I’m sure even Gibbon was scared. You know shit is getting bad when you have to give your men the order “Hold your ground with the bayonet” because they’ve run out of ammo. This was the order he had to give the men of the 7th Wisconsin and it is eerily like an order given less than a year later by Union General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain at Little Round Top during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Just when things seemed at their worst, Gibbon finally got the word to cease firing and that they had won the day. At approximately 9pm on September 14th, the bloody fighting at Turner’s Gap was done.

Fighting had ended else where along South Mountain at this time too. General  Lee soon withdrew his troops. The wounded and dead lay strewn along the mountainside and this was Gibbon’s greatest concern. 25% of the brigade had been lost – 37 killed, 251 wounded and 30 missing. The 7th Wisconsin had the heaviest casualties with 147 wounded or dead. Overall, the Black Hat Brigade had sustained greater losses than any other Brigade that day at South Mountain.

Their hard fighting and sacrifice did not go unnoticed, however. Remember I said that G McC and Burnside had front row seats to watch Gibbon and his bad ass Black Hat Brigade ascend Turner’s Gap? Nolan sums it up perfectly in his book about the history of the Iron Brigade:

McClellan and Burnside and a number of other officers had seen it all, the initial advance up the mountainside, the unflinching progress as the enemy’s fire increased and the dogged movements, always forward, into the darkness, marked toward the end of the day by the flashes from the opposing lines of rifles. 

“A brilliant engagement” was how Burnside put it. G McC, in his official report, wrote that “General Gibbon, in this delicate movement, handled his brigade with as much precision and coolness as if upon parade and the bravery of his troops could not be excelled”.

The word “iron” was used to describe the brigade and how they had fought. Some sources say that it was Hooker who said “those men fought like iron”. Others say it was McClellan. Another source I found attributed it to Hooker. Whatever the case, Gibbon’s Brigade, nicknamed the Black Hat Brigade because of their black Hardee hats, became known as the Iron Brigade. This was the name they most certainly had earned in the fighting of Turner’s Gap.

Nolan states that:

On the rocky sides of South Mountain at Turner’s Gap, Gibbon’s soldiers acquired a reputation, a reputation they would have to sustain with further bravery and which would somehow make them brave, as brave as an “Iron Brigade”. 

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Just a few of the men from Gibbon’s Iron Brigade. This Co. K, 7th Wisconsin Infantry. These are the men who suffered the heaviest casualties in Gibbon’s Brigade.

Prior to South Mountain, they had fought at Second Bull Run. They went on to fight at Antietam, which happened just a few days after South Mountain on September 17th, 1862. Their other battles included Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Minerun, Overland, Richmond-Petersburg and finally, Appomattox.

Also, I can’t recommend Alan T. Nolan’s book “The Iron Brigade: A Military History” enough. Although I haven’t read it all the way through yet,what I have read is very well written and very interesting. It was my main source for writing this post.

Thanks, as always, for reading. I absolutely loved learning how the Iron Brigade earned it’s name at South Mountain. The Iron Brigade is becoming a favourite of mine and I can’t wait to read the whole book about them.

Do any of you have a favourite brigade from the Civil War? Let me know in the comments, on Twitter or on my Facebook page.

Until next time,

Mary

 

 

 

 

 

Thus ensued the Battle of South Mountain

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Sources

“Bloody Prelude: The Battle of South Mountain”. http://mountainaflame.blogspot.ca/2010/07/birth-of-iron-brigade.html

Civil War Trust

“King, Gen. Rufus (1814-1876)”. Wisconsin Historical Society. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=N:4294963828-4294963805&dsRecordDetails=R:CS2379

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

“The Battle of South Mountain”. The American Civil War 150 Years Ago Today. http://civilwarsesquicentdaily-wolfshield.blogspot.ca/2012/09/september-14-1862.html

Cump’s Memoirs…

For those who don’t know, “Cump” is the nickname of General William Tecumseh Sherman. I make no secret of the fact, that next to Lincoln, I dearly love the man and find him an incredibly fascinating individual. He’s pretty damn handsome too. I mean, come on…

oh, hai, Cump…you handsome devil…

Okay, enough with the swooning and batting of eyelashes…

Awhile ago, I started reading Sherman’s Memoirs. Being as I have 5 books on the go AND I’m a slow reader, I’m not too far into it. Plus, the book is freaking gigantic. Cump had a lot to say and Robert L O’Connell is absolutely correct in his book”Fierce Patriot” (hands down, one of the best bios I’ve ever read) when he refers to Sherm as a chatterbox and states “if there was a contest for who spoke the most words in a lifetime, Sherman would have been a finalist…”. Slay that dragon, Cump…

oh, hey…look at that…two of my favourite men.

But the memoirs are full of good chatter. Yes, he has much to say but it’s interesting as hell. I’m enjoying it immensely. When I read it, I seem to get lost in a world where Cump is sitting with me, telling me the whole story. It’s fascinating to read. He also lets his sense of humour shine through and he’s got a certain way of saying things that I can see the meaning underneath the words. Let’s just say I’ve had a few laugh out loud moments and times where I’ve uttered “Oh, Cump…you’re cute”.There has also been many times I can picture him in a situation and imagine the mannerisms he must have employed, like eye rolling and uttering “Whatever the f$&/” under his breath when he was frustrated about something. Or maybe not under his breath. This is General Sherman after all…

Anyway, here’s some cool stuff I’ve found out so far…

He attended West Point and graduated in 1840 at the age of twenty. His best subjects were drawing, chemistry, mathematics and natural philosophy (science).He graduated sixth in a class of forty-three. His explanation as to why this happened is, to me, typical Sherman:

At the Academy I was not considered a good soldier, for at no time was I selected for any office, but remained a private throughout the whole four years. Then, as now, neatness in dress and form, with a strict conformity to the rules, were the qualifications required for office and I suppose I was found not to excel in any of these…

 

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I give you Exhibit A…messy haired Cump. Clearly not excelling in neatness yet still excelling in being handsome. Cump wins again!


He continues on about his demerit points.

My average demerits, per annum, were about one hundred and fifty, which reduced my final class standing from number four to six.

All I thought was “Damn, Cump, you knew how to have fun & you made sure you did at West Point”. Uncle Billy, as his soldiers later called him, knew how to have a good time. I’m also surprised geography wasn’t mentioned as one of his best subjects because, damn, you can tell the man was quite the geographer. The level of detail he gives in describing places in his memoirs , such as the terrain, buildings, etc. is incredible.

In the summer of 1840, he was appointed and commissioned second-lieutenant, Third Artillery. He was in Company A. He reported to Governor’s Island, New York and after that, it was off to the sunny south! Florida, specifically.

The entire Third Artillery were stationed along the Atlantic coast of Florida from St. Augustine south to Key Biscayne. His Company was stationed at Fort Pierce, Indian River.

Not the best map but you get an idea of where Cump was stationed

The fort was abandoned in 1842 (not long after Cump left) and burned down the following year. It’s now the home of Old Fort Pierce Park. Cump describes his first encounter with the fort:

We walked up the steep sand-bluff on which the fort was situated and across the parade-grounds to the officers’ quarters. These were six or seven log-houses, thatched with palmetto-leaves, built on high posts, with a porch in front facing the water. The men’s quarters were also of logs forming the two sides of rectangle, open toward the water; the intervals and flanks were closed with log stockades.

It doesn’t sound like it was a bad place to be. Plus it’s Florida (granted, Florida pre-Disney so maybe not as fun…).

Sherman was stationed there during the Second Seminole War, which lasted from 1835 to 1842. He arrived just before active operations so there was time for leisure and there was a particularly colorful character called Captain Ashlock (Sherman describes him as a “character of some note”), with whom he and other officers spent a good deal of time with:

The season was hardly yet come for active operations against the Indians, so that the officers were naturally attracted to Ashlock, who was the best fisherman I ever saw. He soon initiated us into the mysteries of shark-spearing, trolling for red-fish and taking the sheep’s-head and mullet.

They also caught green turtles so the cooks had an ample supply. They often ate turtle instead of what he describes as “poor Florida beef or the usual barreled mess-pork” (ummm…yuck).

Captain Ashlock unfortunately ended up drowning after his boat capsized while he was bringing people to shore. Sherman remarked that “strange to say, he [Ashlock] could not swim, although he had been employed on the water all his life”. Ashlock had just been married too and had brought his wife back with him. Sherman did see to it that she and her sister were taken care of, giving them his own quarters to use. The two women were eventually sent back to St. Augustine, Florida.

Sherman did not see much action while in Florida. He did seem to enjoy his time there though, remarking that while on excursions there was:

a peculiar charm, for the fragrance of the air, the abundance of game and fish, and just enough of adventure, gave to life a relish.

So, while he seemed to have enjoyed Florida, he felt it was of little value to it being a great state. If only he knew what the future held…

magic-kingdom-castle-in-frosty-light-blue-with-fireworks-06-thomas-woolworth

Florida became something, Cump! It’s the happiest freaking place on earth!

Let’s face it. Sherman would have enjoyed the fireworks. He probably would have also enjoyed the “Pirates Of The Caribbean”. As for “It’s A Small World”, however…

general-william-sherman-war-is-hell-store

Cump not impressed after the kids make him binge ride “It’s A Small World”…

He’s internally burning “It’s A Small World”. Let’s face it…some of us secretly want that…

My question for y’all: have you read the memoirs of anyone from the Civil War? Do you have a favourite and why?

As always, thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Mary


Sources

“Memoirs”. General William Tecumseh Sherman

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

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