Southern View of History: The War for
PART XV. SOUTHERN HEROES
This section briefly introduces three prominent Southern heroes. In addition it makes an attempt to help the student begin research on their own family history allowing them the possibility of identifying ancestors that were alive during this time period. When a student makes a connection to a real person in history, it makes history more relevant in their lives.
Objective: To identify several Southern heroes and major events in their lives and to introduce the "how to begin" search for ancestors who were alive during the War Between the States.
A. Robert Edward Lee
(The following fact sheet is prepared by the Education Committee of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) The fact sheet may be freely copied and distributed without permission or notice if published, please credit the Sons of Confederate Veterans.)
No finer example of a Southern gentleman and leader exists whose positive impact was so great during and after the War. His superb character as a Christian gentleman stood out in his life as a man, husband, father, citizen, soldier, and a leader. These qualities greatly impressed such notable men as Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt. Fortunately General Lee left a wealth of sayings and personal wisdom of which only a fraction is present here in this educational sheet.
LEE AS OTHERS SAW HIM:
President Theodore Roosevelt described General Robert E. Lee as "the very greatest of all the great captains that the English-speaking peoples have brought forth."
Minister Winston Churchill wrote of Lee: "His noble presence and
gentle, kindly manner were sustained by religious faith and an exalted
character." Of his army, Churchill observed: "It was even said that
their line of march could be traced by the bloodstained footprints of unshod
men. But the Army of
LEE -HIS OWN WORDS & WISDOM-We can learn from the character of a man through his own words. General Robert E. Lee's wisdom and thoughts on various topics:
Character: As a general principle, you should not force young men to do their duty, but let them do it voluntarily and thereby develop their characters.
Choices: I think it better to do right, even if we suffer in so doing, than to incur the reproach of our consciences and posterity.
We have only one rule here (at
Defeat: We may be annihilated, but we cannot be conquered.
Determination: We had, I was satisfied, sacred principles to maintain and rights to defend, for which we were in duty bound to do our best, even if we perished in the endeavor.
Dreams: All I ever wanted was a Virginia farm, no end of cream and fresh butter and fried chicken-not one fried chicken, or two, but unlimited fried chicken.
Duty: Do your duty. That is all the pleasure, all the comfort, all the glory we can enjoy in this world.
Education: The education of a man or woman is never completed until they die.
Faith: I trust that a kind Providence will watch over us, and notwithstanding our weakness and sins will yet give us a name and place among the
nations of the earth.
After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and
fortitude, the Army of
Forgiveness: Abandon your animosities, and make your sons Americans.
Honesty: The trite saying that honesty is the best policy has met with the just criticism that honesty is not policy. The real honest man is honest from conviction of what is right, not from policy.
Honor: A true man of honor feels humble himself when he cannot help humbling others.
Integrity: There is a true glory and a true honor: the glory of duty done-the honor of the integrity of principle.
Patriotism: These men are not an army-they are citizens defending their country.
Perseverance: We must expect reverses, even defeats. They are sent to teach us wisdom and prudence, to call forth greater energies, and to prevent our falling into greater disasters.
Promotion: What do you care about rank? I would serve under a corporal if necessary!
Purpose: I am glad to see no indication in your letter of an intention to leave the country. I think the South requires the aid of her sons now more than at any period in her history. As you ask my purpose, I will state that I have no thought of abandoning her unless compelled to do so.
If I had taken General Longstreet' s advice on the eve of the second day of the
Union Atrocities: I have never witnessed on any previous occasion such entire disregard of the usage of civilized warfare and the dictates of humanity.
Vengeance: It must be remembered that we make war only upon armed men, and that we cannot take vengeance for the wrongs our people have suffered without lowering ourselves in the eyes of all whose abhorrence has been excited by the atrocities of our enemies.
Robert Edward Lee, general-in-chief of the Confederate
States army, is placed by general fame as well as by the cordial suffrage of
the South, first among all Southern military chieftains. By official rank he
held that position in the Confederate States army, and his right to the primacy
there is none to dispute. Considered as a true type of the American developed
through the processes by which well-sustained free government proves and
produces a high order of manly character, he fully and justly gained the
distinguished esteem with which all
General Lee's lineage and collateral kindred constitute
an array of illustrious characters, but certainly without dispraise of any, and
without unduly exalting himself, it can be calmly written down that he was the
greatest of all his race. Unaware he was of his own distinction. Unaware also
of a common sentiment was each of his people who cherished an individual
feeling in the years which followed his public service until the consensus came
into open view, where all men saw that all true men honored his name and
revered his memory.
Contrast of Lee with other men will not be instituted,
because there were indeed others great like himself, and he more than others
would deplore a contest for premiership in fame. The most that can be said in
any mingling of his name with other illustrious characters has been uttered in
the wonderfully felicitous and graphic sentences of Benjamin H. Hill, which may
be repeated here, because of their brilliant and true characterization:
"When the future historian shall come to survey
the character of Lee he will find it rising like a huge mountain above the
undulating plane of humanity, and he must lift his eyes high toward heaven to
catch its summit. He possessed every virtue of other great commanders without
their vices. He was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a soldier
without cruelty; a victor without oppression; and a victim without murmuring.
He was a public officer without vices; a private citizen without wrong; a
neighbor without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy and a man without
guile. He was a Caesar without his ambition;
It will be understood by all who read any biographical
sketch of one so eminent as the Southern military leader thus portrayed in Mr.
Hill's splendid words, that the facts of his life must sustain the eulogy.
Fortunately this support appears even in the cold recital which is here
attempted. General Lee was born at
He married Mary Custis, daughter of
At his graduation he was appointed second-lieutenant of
engineers and by assignment engaged in engineering at Old Point and on the
coasts. In 1834 he was assistant to the chief engineer at
Among the officers with Lee in Mexico were Grant, Meade,
McClellan, Hancock, Sedgwick, Hooker, Burnside, Thomas, McDowell, A. S.
Johnston, Beauregard, T. J. Jackson, Longstreet, Loring, Hunt, Magruder, and
Wilcox, all of whom seemed to have felt for him a strong attachment. Reverdy
Johnson said he had heard General Scott more than once say that his
In the subsequent years of peace Lee was assigned first
to important duties in the corps of military engineers with headquarters at
Baltimore, from 1849 to 1852, and then served as superintendent of the military
academy at West Point until 1855, when he was promoted brevet
lieutenant-colonel and assigned to the Second cavalry, commanded by Colonel
Albert Sidney Johnston This remarkably fine regiment included among its
officers besides Johnston and Lee, Hardee, Thomas, VanDorn, Fitz Lee, Kirby
Smith, and Stoneman, later distinguished in the Confederate war. With this
regiment Lee shared the hardships of frontier duty, defending the western
About a month later Lee was summoned to
The Confederate government in May, 1861, employed his
splendid talent for organization, an advantageous employment, indeed, but one
that kept him from that command in the field for which he was eminently qualified.
Subsequently the expeditions in the
The severe wounding of General J. E. Johnston, at the
battle of Seven Pines, and the illness of General G. W. Smith, next in rank,
brought to him the command of the army of Northern Virginia, which he immediately
led to successive victories over the great armies of McClellan, Pope, Burnside
and Hooker, attaining for him. self, in a few months, a fame for generalship
which spread over the world.
His subsequent career throughout the Confederate struggle
was distinguished by his regard for the humane usages of war; his exhibition of
great military skill; a spirited personal courage, as well as that nerve of
leader. ship that impelled him to give battle whenever he saw an opportunity to
strike an effective blow; a courteous bearing toward his officers and a tender
concern for the welfare of the men in line; an untiring attention to details
and an unexcelled devotion to duty. All these characteristics and much more
were made apparent as the war wore on to its disastrous end.
The details which establish his reputation as a military
genius are to be found in all the books which have been written on the
Confederate war. Referring to them for special information we pass on to see
him at Appomattox, nobly yielding himself and his army when resistance was no
longer possible, and then departing for his home, to refuse offers of place
that would bring profit and high civil position, and finally turning his
glorious life into channels of beneficent influence.
With clear insight into all the merits of the cause for
which he drew his sword in 1861, he wrote on January 5, 1866: "All that
the South has ever desired was that the
He lived only a few years after the fall of the
Confederacy, and those years were nearly all spent in service as president of
the Washington-Lee college. The anxieties of his military life had changed his
hair to gray, but he was still in vigorous health. His nearest friends alone
saw that his sympathy for the misfortunes of his people became a malady which
physicians could not remove. With sincere purpose to observe his parole, and,
after all military operations had ceased, to lend his influence fully to peace,
he carefully avoided all things which would irritate the people in power.
Rigidly preserving his convictions, as he felt he must do, he nevertheless
promoted the restoration of harmony among the people of the whole country. Thus
his life passed until he was suddenly seized with sickness on the 28th of
September, 1870, at his home in
my devotion to the
Lee returned to
the war Lee returned as a paroled prisoner at
devoted the remainder of his life to setting an excellent example of conduct
for the southerners. He refused a number of offers and promotional
schemes which would have given substantial financial rewards for himself
and his family. Instead he took the post of President of
Upon the surrender of the Southern army at
Robert E. Lee, had to wait five months before he could
apply for his citizenship. Now serving as president of the
One hundred years after Lee's oath was sent to
Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807 at Stratford, Virginia. Robert was the fourth child of a Revolutionary War hero Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee and Ann Hill Carter Lee. Young Robert, the son, was raised mostly by his mother. From her he learned patience, control, and discipline. As a young man he was exposed to Christianity and accepted its faith. In contrast to the strong example of his mother Robert saw his father go from failed enterprise to failed enterprise. In part the young Robert was led to try harder and succeed.
Robert was accepted to the
In 1845 the War between
Following the Mexican War Lee returned to service as an
army engineer. He spent most of this time near
Brown's attempt seemed to confirm all the worst fears of
the south and when Abraham Lincoln was elected President South Carolina seceded
and was quickly followed by 6 more deep southern states: Georgia, Florida,
North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The old warrior
General Winfield Scott asked Colonel Robert E. Lee to take command of the
References and Details:
"Officers Of Civil And Military Organizations", Confederate Military History, Volume I
"Who Was Who In The Civil War" by Stewart Sifakis
"R. E. Lee", by Douglas Southall Freeman
"Memoirs of Robert E. Lee", by A. L. Long
"The Recollections and Letters of Robert E. Lee", by Robert E. Lee Jr.
B. General Thomas "Stonewall"
Lieutenant-General Thomas Jonathan
He was born January 21, 1824, in Clarksburg, Va., and his
parents, who were of patriotic Revolutionary stock, dying while he was but a
child, he was reared and educated by his kindred in the pure and simple habits
of rural life, taught in good English schools, and is described as a
"diligent, plodding scholar, having a strong mind, though it was slow in
development." But he was in boyhood a leader among his fellow-students in
the athletic sports of the times, in which he generally managed his side of the
contest so as to win the victory. By this country training he became a bold and
expert rider and cultivated that spirit of daring which being held sometimes in
abeyance displayed itself in his Mexican service, and then suddenly again in
the Confederate war. In June, 1842, at the age of eighteen, he was appointed to
a cadetship in the military academy at
His religious character, which history has and will
inseparably connect with his military life, appears to have begun forming in
the City of Mexico, where his attention was directed to the subject of the
variety of beliefs on religious questions. His amiable and affectionate
biographer (Mrs. Jackson) mentions that Colonel Francis Taylor, the commander
of the First artillery, under whom
In 1848 Jackson's command was stationed at Fort Hamilton
for two years, then at Fort Meade, in Florida, and from that station he was
elected to a chair in the Virginia military institute at Lexington in 1851,
which he accepted, and resigning his commission, made Lexington his home ten
years, and until he began his remarkable' career in the Confederate war. Two
years later, 1853, he married Miss Eleanor, daughter of Rev. Dr. Junkin,
The only special incident occurring amidst the
educational and domestic life of Major Jackson, which flowed on serenely from
this hour, was the summons of the cadets of the Institute by Governor Letcher,
to proceed to Harper's Ferry on the occasion of the raid of John Brown in 1859.
During the presidential campaign of 1860 Major Jackson
visited New England and there heard enough to arouse his fears for the safety
of the Union. At the election of that year he cast his vote for Breckinridge on
the principle that he was a State rights man, and after Lincoln's election he favored
the policy of contending in the Union rather than out of it, for the recovery
of the ground that had thus been lost. The course of coercion, however, alarmed
him, and the failure of the Peace congress persuaded him that if the
Jackson's valuable service was given to Virginia in the
occupation of Harper's Ferry and several subsequent small affairs, but his fame
became general from the battle of First
He was commissioned brigadier-general June 17, 1861, and
was promoted to major-general October 7, 1861, with the wise assignment to
command of the Valley district, which he assumed in November of that year. With
a small force he began even in winter a series of bold operations in the great
Virginia valley, and opened the spring campaign of 1862, on plans concerted
between General Joseph E. Johnston and himself, by attacking the enemy at
Kernstown, March 23rd, where he sustained his only repulse; but even in the
movement which resulted in a temporary defeat he caused the recall of a
considerable Federal force designed to strengthen McClellan in the advance
against Richmond. The next important battle was fought at McDowell, in which
This Valley campaign of 1862 was never excelled,
according to the opinions expressed by military men of high rank and long
experience in war. It is told by Dr. McGuire, the chief surgeon of Jackson's
command, that with swelling heart he had "heard some of the first soldiers
and military students of England declare that within the past two hundred years
the English speaking race has produced but five soldiers of the first
rank--Marlborough, Washington, Wellington, Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and that
this campaign in the valley was superior to either of those made by Napoleon in
Italy." One British officer, who teaches strategy in a great European
college, told Surgeon McGuire that he used this campaign as a model of strategy
and tactics, dwelling upon it for several months in his lectures; that it was
taught in the schools of Germany, and that Von Moltke, the great strategist,
declared it was without a rival in the world's history.
After this brilliant service for the Confederacy
After the most complete preparations Hooker advanced
against Lee at Chancellorsville, who countervailed all the Federal general's
plans by sending Jackson to find and crush his right flank, which movement was
in the process of brilliant accomplishment when Jackson, who had passed his own
lines to make a personal inspection of the situation, was fired upon and
fatally wounded by a line of Confederates who unhappily mistook him and his
escort for the enemy. The glory of the achievement which Lee and Jackson
planned, fell upon General Stuart next day, who, succeeding
General Jackson lived a few days, he died eight days
later on May 10, 1863, from pneumonia, lamented more than any soldier who
had fallen. Lee said: "He has lost his left arm; but I have lost my right
arm." The army felt that his place could not be easily supplied. The South
was weighted with grief. After the war, when the North dispassionately studied
the man they ceased to wonder at the admiration in which he was held by the
world. He was buried at
References and Details:
Officers Of Civil And Military Organizations. Confederate Military History, Volume I
"Who Was Who In The Civil War" by Stewart Sifakis
"Stonewall Jackson", Southern Historical
Society Papers Vol. XXXVIII.
"Stonewall Jackson" by Robert Lewis Dabney 1897
C. President Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis was born June 3, 1808, in that portion of
Samuel Davis, after the Revolution removed to
Kentucky, resided there a few years and then changed his home to Wilkinson
His sudden and surprising resignation occurred June 30,
1835, with an immediate entrance upon the duties of civil life. His uncle and
other attached friends were averse to his continuance in military life,
believing that he was unusually qualified to achieve distinction in a civil
career. For some time he hesitated and then yielded to their wishes. Perhaps
also the attractions of Miss Sallie Knox Taylor, daughter of Zachary Taylor,
commanding the First infantry, to whom he became affianced, contributed to the
decision. The marriage between them has been often spoken of inaccurately as an
elopement, but it was solemnized at the house of the bride's aunt, near
In August, 1847, the governor of
Senator Davis entered upon his new and full term as
senator from Mississippi March 4, 1851, from which date there were before him
six years of honor in the position he preferred to all others. There was a
strong probability also that if living he would be continued in the Senate,
since the Southern States were accustomed to the retaining of their eminent men
in office. No man had less reason than himself for conspiracy against the
government. With this advantage and under the influence of strongly
conservative feeling he canvassed the State of Mississippi in 1851, bravely
advocating the policy of determined resistance to sectional aggressions, and
insisting that the country should be defended from the perils of Congressional
usurpation. His argument was that reverence for the constitutional reservations
of power would alone save the
The election for governor of the State was to occur later
in the same year. Governor Quitman had been nominated for re-election, but his
political antecedents so decidedly committed him to disunion as to imperil his
success. Therefore he withdrew from the nomination, and Senator Davis was
called on by the executive committee to take his place, because his
conservative record accorded more nearly than Governor Quitman's with the
recent ballot of the people. It was only six weeks to the day of the election,
the State rights party had been lately beaten by a majority of over 7,000
votes, Davis was at that time too sick to leave home, and acceptance of the
nomination required his resignation of the high office he then held secure for
nearly six years. Nevertheless he accepted the trust, resigned the senatorial
office and was defeated by less than one thousand votes. Mr. Davis retired for
a short time to private life, from which he was called by President Pierce, who
had been elected to the presidency in 1852. At first the tender of a place in
the cabinet of the new President was declined, but on further consideration he
accepted the office of secretary of war. Mr. Davis had ably supported Pierce in
the race of the previous year upon the platform which emphasized beyond all
else the finality of the compromise measures, and the cessation of sectional
hostilities. He was therefore in this as in other respects in complete
agreement with the President from the beginning to the closing of his
administration The duties of the war office were discharged with characteristic
energy and ability, and at its close his portrait was added to others of
eminent men who had enjoyed the same distinction, and it remains suspended in
its proper position to this day. A few years later the friendly and confiding
letter of the President to Mr. Davis expressed his painful apprehension
concerning the Southern movement for secession, accompanied with the kindest
expressions of regard for his former able associate in the executive department
Mr. Davis went now from the cabinet of President Pierce,
March 4, 1857, to re-enter the
With this standing among the counselors of the
government, Senator Davis endeavored in the beginning of 1860 to lay the
foundation for a policy which would prevent sectional agitation and unite
inseparably all the States in friendly union. This policy was defined in a
series of seven resolutions introduced by him in the Senate February 2, 1860,
which were debated three months and adopted in May by a majority of that body
as the sense of the Senate of the United States upon the relation of the
general government to the States and territories. They were opposed en masse by
senators who were allied with the new sectional policy upon which the
presidential campaign of that year was projected. In the great conflict of that
year he was mentioned extensively as a statesman suitable for the presidency,
but it was fully announced that he did not desire the nomination. Regretting
the breach which occurred at Charleston in his party, he sought to reconcile
the factions, and failing in that, endeavored to gain the consent of Douglas
and Breckinridge to withdraw their names in order that union might be secured
upon some third person. On the election of Mr. Lincoln he sought with others
who were alarmed by the situation some remedy other than that of immediate and
separate State secession. He was appointed a member of the Senate committee of
Thirteen and was willing to accept the Crittenden resolutions as a compromise
if they could have the sincere support of Northern senators. His speeches in the
Senate were distinguished for their frankness in portraying the dangers of
sectionalism, but through the debates of that session he was careful to utter
no words which could produce irritation. Mr. Stephens says that Mr. Davis
indicated no desire to break up the Union. Mr. Clay, of Alabama, said,
"Mr. Davis did not take an active part in planning or hastening secession.
I think he only regretfully consented to it as a political necessity for the
preservation of popular and State rights which were seriously threatened by the
triumph of a sectional party who were pledged to make war upon them. I know
that some leading men and even Mississippians thought him too moderate and
backward, and found fault with him for not taking a leading part in
secession." Mr. Buchanan sent for him on account of his known conservatism
to secure his advice as to the safe course which the administration should
pursue, and he promptly complied with the summons. Another fact bearing
forcibly on his position while the States were preparing to secede is the
meeting of Mississippi congressional. delegation at Jackson, called together by
the governor, in which the course of their State was the subject of conference.
"Mr. Davis with only one other in that conference opposed immediate and
separate State action, declaring himself opposed to secession as long as the
hope of a peaceable remedy remained." After the majority decided on
separate State secession Mr. Davis declared he would stand by whatever action
the Mississippi convention would take, but several members in that conference
were dissatisfied with his course, suspecting that he was at heart against
secession, and desired delay in order to prevent it. The State convention
adopted the ordinance of secession January 9, 1861, and immediately after
receiving the official notice Mr. Davis made an exquisitely appropriate and
pathetic address to the Senate, taking leave of it in compliance with the
action of his State, which he fully justified. "I do think," said
he," she has justifiable cause, and I approve of her act. I conferred with
her people before that act was taken, counseled them that if the 'state of
things which they apprehended should exist when their convention met, they
should take the action which they have now adopted." "I find in
myself perhaps a type of the general feeling of my constituents toward yours. I
am sure I feel no hostility toward you, Senators of the North. I am sure there
is not one of you, whatever sharp discussion there may have been between us, to
whom I cannot say in the presence of my God, I wish you well, and such I am
sure is the feeling of the people whom I represent toward those whom you
represent. I carry with me no hostile remembrance. Whatever offense I have
given which has not been redressed or for which satisfaction has not been
demanded, I have, Senators, in this hour of our parting, to offer you my
apology for any pain which in the heat of discussion I have inflicted. I go
hence unencumbered by the remembrance of any injury received, and having discharged
the duty of making the only reparation in my power for any injury offered, Mr.
President and Senators, having made the announcement which the occasion seemed
to me to require, it only remains for me to bid you a final adieu." With
these fitly spoken words, uttered with the grace of manner for which the
accomplished orator was distinguished, and with a tenderness in tone produced
by the occasion, the Senator vacated the seat which he had honored and stepped
away from a position of commanding dignity and power sufficient to gratify his
ambition. It must be seen that the sacrifice was great. Before him the
experiment of secession to be tried, according to his expressed belief, alone
by bloody war--around him, as his parting words fell from his lips, the associations
of a nobly patriotic life rise up and engage his thought--within him a
consciousness of rectitude in present motive, and magnanimity in feeling; while
a record ineffaceable by any power attested the fidelity of his past life to
the general welfare of his country. The change of all conditions became
peculiarly and specially great as to him, because even contrary to his wishes
he was destined to become the head and front of the secession movement. His
virtues would be forgotten and his name maligned through the spite and
prejudice not only of the ignorant masses, but of prominent men of warped
He is to be fairly viewed after secession as the same man
who had justly earned fame in the service of the United States, but whose relations
to that country were changed by the act of the State to which he owed
allegiance. Surveying him at this crisis in his life we take account of his
hereditary virtues, his pride of patriotic ancestry, his training in the
Southern school of thought, feeling and manner, his systematic education to
graduation from West Point academy, his associations from childhood to manhood
with men of culture and women of refinement. We observe his physical
advantages--a fine figure, erect and strong--in bearing, graceful when moving
and pleasing in repose; his features clearly classic and betokening firmness,
fearlessness and intelligence. Far he was from any hauteur of bearing, and free
from the supposed superciliousness of the misunderstood Southern aristocracy.
We see his mind cultivated and fruitful by reason of native power, early
education, extensive reading and long communion with great thoughts on affairs
of vast importance. He had self command, gained by the discipline of a soldier,
which fitted him to command others; certainly also a strong willed nature to
that degree where his maturely considered opinion was not lightly deserted, nor
his .well-formed purpose easily abandoned. He was not the man to desert a cause
which he once espoused. He was liable to err by excess of devotion. Such men
make mistakes, and the Confederate President was not exempt. The insight of his
general character reveals him a conservative patriot, opposing all tendencies
to anarchy or monarchy, faithful to constitutional agreements and supporter of
popular liberties; in his public and private life above reproach; in religion a
devout believer in the Christian faith and living in the communion of his
church. Such is the man who had vacated his place as senator from the State of
Mississippi elected him at once to the command of her
State forces, a position he desired, but a few weeks later he was called by
election to the Presidency of the Confederacy--a responsibility which he had
Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of
America and commander-in-chief of the army and navy, belongs to history, and
his career is subject to full and fair treatment by just and intelligent men.
The failure of his government to establish itself in permanency by the power of
its armies will not be accepted as evidence against his own right to be
reverenced, except by such persons as those who regard the triumphs of superior
over inferior force as decisive of merit. Such persons judge men and their
causes by an exploded savage theory which subjected the weak to the strong. The
feudal system, Russian serfdom, and African slavery in the beginning of the
horrible slave trade, rested on this basis. Men divested of that prejudice
which constricts the reason will not decry the President of the Confederacy
because it failed. Not the Southern people alone, but intelligent men of the
finer mould of thought and feeling among all nations, are gratified by the
cessation of the vituperous language of twenty-five years ago, with which even
men of eminence as well as the lower sort declaimed against the exalted man who
in public service for a like period of twenty-five years, filling positions in
war and peace of great public trust, did not in the least degree betray the confidence
which his people had reposed in him. That his career is open to adverse
criticism will be conceded by his most reverent friends; but that his name, now
that he is dead, should be made to wear the chains which generous justice broke
from about his imprisoned living body, will not be claimed by the present
generation of fair-minded Americans. It is reported that Mr. Gladstone said in
1861 of Jefferson Davis that he had "created a nation," while at the
same time it was being urged upon England that he was attempting to take a
nation's life. Neither statement was exactly true. Mr. Davis had not created a
nation. He was but the executive head of a republic which the intelligent free
people of a number of large and powerful States had created. Nor had he attempted
the destruction of the United States, for that government remained the same
living political organism after secession that it was before. The great English
statesman was not a sympathizer with the Southern secession, but he saw with
clear vision that a nation in fact had come into being whose greatness was
reflected in the character of the ruler it had chosen. His administration was
not restrained by his antipathies. With the true greatness of his own nature he
could esteem the virtues which were conspicuous in the character of such a
chieftain of such a people. Jefferson Davis and the people of the Confederacy
being inseparable in the reflections of mankind, the South asks only that he
and they shall be judged by honorable men who have the capacities of reason and
gentility to render a just judgment.
His administration of the government of the
Confederate States must be viewed, as Mr. Stephens justly remarks, in the light
of the extraordinary difficulties which had to be suddenly encountered by a new
republic which was attacked at all points in the beginning of its formation.
The errors of the administration are not so clearly observable as its wisdom.
Possibly certain policies ably proposed by patriotic and capable advocates, but
not adopted, might have been more efficacious than others which were pursued.
It is conjecture only that a different policy would have gained the Southern
cause. Possibly the offensive policy which was urged upon the Confederate
President in the first months' fighting might have been better than the
defensive which he was constrained to adopt. The financial system was not the
best and yet some of its features were adopted or followed by the United
States. Conscription was a hard measure, and perhaps the appeal for volunteers
would have kept the army full. There were on these and other great problems
differences of opinion, but there was rare unity in the Confederate purpose to
succeed, and hence the government was maintained against forces of men, money
and diplomacy leagued against it in such strength as to force the conclusion
that after all the Confederate government was wonderfully well sustained for
the four or more years of its existence. Nearly all the great reviewers of the
Confederate civil administration and the operations of its armies agree in the
verdict that both departments were well sustained by the intelligent and brave
leaders at the head of affairs. The administration policy incurred special
opposition at all the points above named, in regard to which President Davis in
his writings concedes the fidelity and intelligence of his opposers, even
admitting that in some instances his policy should have been changed. The
difficult and delicate situations in which he was placed by the progress of
military events often embarrassed him. His appointments were not always the
best that could have been made, and his military suggestions were sometimes
faulty because they were given at a distance from the field. But the constantly
diminishing resources of his country, through the destructive agencies that
eroded them at every point, caused the collapse of the government. President
Davis did not publicly disclose any apprehensions of failure even to the last
days of the Confederacy. So far as the antagonists of his government could
determine from his open policy he had no thought of peace except in
independence. But it is apparent from his actions in the winter of 1864 and
1865, especially after his interview with Lee and other officers, that he began
to look about him for the way to peace. The commission sent to Canada to meet
any parties from the United States who would counsel peace; his readiness to
give audience to even such unauthorized but friendly visitors as Colonel
Jacques; his two interviews with Blair and his letter to Blair to be shown to
Lincoln; his appointment of Stephens, Campbell and Hunter to meet President
Lincoln in an informal conference--all these indicated at the time and now more
clearly disclose that the Confederate President would have consented to peace
upon terms that would even subvert his presidency and consign him to private
life. The defeat and surrender of the armies of Lee and Johnston dissolved the
Confederate States in fact leaving nothing to be done in law but the abrogation
of the ordinances of secession by the States which had erected them. As one
result of the fall of the armies the President was made a captive by the
military, imprisoned in chains, charged unjustly with crimes for which he
demanded trial in vain, and after two years of imprisonment which disgraced his
enemies was released on bond. A nolle prosequi was entered in his case in 1869,
and thus he was never brought to the trial which he earnestly demanded.
After this release on bail the ex-President enjoyed an
enthusiastic reception at Richmond, Virginia, and then visited Europe.
President Davis would live his life, first abroad, to regain his health to some
degree. He would end up living in Biloxi, Mississippi at Beauvoir. It
was there that he wrote and published his "Rise And Fall of the
Confederate Government." Though he did not often appear in public,
he occasionally spoke at various Confederate monument dedications across
the South where he received the adoration of a grateful people. He
avoided ostentatious display, appearing before the public, however, in
occasional address and writings. He counseled the South to recover its wasted
resources and maintain its principles. Secession he frankly admitted to be no
more possible, but he remained to the last an unyielding opposer of power
centralized in the Federal government. Now and then public demonstrations
revealed the attachment of the Southern people, especially two occasions in
Georgia, one being the unveiling of the Ben Hill statue in Atlanta, and the
other an occasion in Macon, Ga., during the State agricultural fair. These
popular demonstrations were of such an imposing character as to evidence the
undiminished attachment of the people to his personal character, and sympathy
for him in his misfortunes.
At 81, he went to Brierfield on some business, and became ill. Starting back home, he made it to the home of Judge Fenner, a long time friend. The death of the President occurred at New Orleans about one o'clock a.m., December 5, 1889, and the event was announced throughout the Union. President Davis lay in state in the New Orleans City Hall, which like every business building in the city was draped in black, people came to show their respect for the deceased leader of the Confederate cause. Ten thousand people viewed his body on the first day, December 7th. Viewing hours were quickly lengthened to 10:00pm each night. At noon, December 11, the casket was removed to the porch where the funeral eulogy was presented to a sea of people filling every standing space as far as the eye could see. The funeral procession itself numbered 10,000. The crowd was the largest ever assembled in the South for a funeral, numbering over 200,000 people. The people of the North were shocked by the display of affection for President Davis, but were firmly convinced of the South's dedication to their now deceased leader and the cause for which he stood. The funeral ceremonies in New Orleans were such as comported with the illustrious character of the deceased chieftain, while public meetings in other cities and towns of the South were held to express the common sorrow, and the flags of State capitols were dropped to half-mast. Distinguished men pronounced eulogies on his character, and the press universally at the South and generally at the North contained extended and laudatory articles on his character.
The burial place in New Orleans was selected only as a temporary receptacle, while a general movement was inaugurated for a tomb and monument which resulted in the removal of the body to Richmond, the capitol of the Confederacy. The removal took place by means of a special funeral train from New Orleans to Richmond, passing through several States and stopping at many places to receive the respectful and affectionate tributes bestowed by the people. The scene from the time of the departure from New Orleans to the last rites at Richmond was singular in its nature and sublime in its significance of popular esteem for the memory of the Confederate President. The funeral train moved day and night almost literally in review before the line of people assembled to see it pass. Finally in the presence of many thousands the casket was deposited in the last resting place in the keeping of the city which had so long withstood the rude alarms of war under his presidency.
References and Details:
"Officers Of Civil And Military Organizations" Confederate Military History, Volume I
"Who Was Who In The Civil War" by Stewart Sifakis
"Life, Services and Character of Jefferson
Davis" Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. XVII. Richmond, Va.,
"Is Davis a Traitor" by Albert Taylor Bledsoe
"The Life and Death of Jefferson Davis" by A.C. Bancroft
"The Rise And Fall Of The Confederate Government" by Jefferson Davis
"Life of Jefferson Davis", by Edwin A. Pollard
"The Real Jefferson Davis", by Landon Knight
"Jefferson Davis", by William E. Dodd
"The Life and Death of Jefferson Davis", by A.C. Bancroft
D. Our (Your) Ancestors
Too often we limit our study of history to those who were famous. Men and women, great as they were, were the celebrities of their era, and we tend to think in terms of them and how they impacted history. While we do not wish to diminish the accomplishments of those famous statesmen and soldiers of the past, we would also like to remember our (your) ancestors. Whether they were a solider, a sailor, a farmer, a shopkeeper, housewife, it makes no difference. If they lived through the War of Northern Aggression in the South, and here we particularly are reminded of our Georgia ancestors, they were heroes in one way or another. The hero is not always the one in the press, it may be the farm family that struggled to endure the shortages of all materials, including labor, trying to keep food on the table and send a little to the soldiers. It could have been that soldier that spent months or years away from home fighting, suffering, sacrificing and sometimes paying the ultimate price in combat or to disease, but offering their life up for the freedom of the families, both current and those in the future. It might have been the granddaddy having to bring out the shotgun and join a county homeguard unit to defend the area from Sherman's devastation, or the terrified child who ran to the woods, hiding food from the marauding bummers. Heroic acts were performed daily, without fanfare or even notice, but men, women and children, the young and the old, the privates and the generals and all in-between. History comes alive for those who read and research it when they connect with those famous events through an ancestor. For that reason we include the study of our (your) ancestors in this section.
A common question is: "How can I find out if an ancestor fought in the war and how do I find out about his service?"
This outline is given to help get you started. Making a connection to an Confederate ancestor is an exciting way to bring history into focus. The first step has got to be learn your family’s genealogy.
The basic facts that you will need to know in order to do research on an ancestor are: name, state, regiment, and if possible, the company. Knowing what county your ancestor resided in during the 1860's would also be helpful.
Start your search by talking with your oldest living relatives. See how much information they can give you to build a family tree. Try to develop a family tree that extends back to the mid 1800’s. Males aged 16-40 on the 1860 census are prime candidates for CSA service. Begin your search with these men. Later you can check on older or younger men that may have also served.
It is important now to determine the state and county of residence so that Census records from 1860 may be located and reviewed for information. Census records can be found in local libraries, historical and genealogy societies, government archives and at LDS Family History Centers. Some are in books, but more common are microfilms. Paper copies of census records can usually be made. Develop a list of men whom you suspect may have served.
Contact that county to see if they have local historical society. Many counties have historical societies that have already documented local-county men who fought for the Confederacy. Many have "County History Books" which contain their men’s involvement with the WBTS. They'll have at least the local companies raised, and sometimes the roster and pension recipient list. Occasionally the battles their local soldiers participated in, their letters home, etc. may also be found.
Confederate regiments were frequently referred to by the commander's name even when in fact they had a numerical designation. You will find that many states have some sort of indexed listings of a soldiers. The National Archives has published a "Consolidated Index to Compiled Confederate Service Records" on microfilm which is available in many large historical libraries. The service records themselves are also frequently on microfilm at the library.
All Southern states have archived records of men who fought in the WBTS and also records of men who applied for pensions based on service to the CSA. Once you have a name or list of names you can visit or contact the state archives to view and/or obtain copies of service and/or pension records. Remember that not all records survived the war and the amount and quality of information can vary greatly from state to state.
When you have gathered the basic information, you can also obtain copies of your ancestor's service records by writing to the National Archives and requesting NATF Form 80. The address is:
National Archives and Records Administration
7th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20408
You may also request NATF Form 80 by sending e-mail to: email@example.com When you have the forms, fill one out as completely as possible and check "Military Service". It is recommended that you write in red ink next to the veteran's name "Please send complete contents of files". Several weeks after you send in the Form 80, the Archive will return the form indicating what they have located and how much it will cost to copy it, typically about $10.
The information from compiled service records from the National Archives may be the same, similar or different that the information from the state archives on the same soldier. The National Archives will not have pension records for Confederate veterans. Only the former Confederate state did awarded the pensions and their archives will have such records.
The National Archives will soon discontinue providing paper copies of Confederate service records. The records will be available but you'll have to buy a roll of microfilm for $34.00, take it to a microfilm machine w/a printer, look up your veteran and print your own copies. The National Archives cites many reasons for this "life altering" decision. They state that they're under funded and often months behind on filing requests for paper records. Also, while the original records are on microfilm, the staff found it easier to make copies from the original papers, causing continual damage to these records to the point that they're no longer in good condition. This new policy is being undertaken to preserve Confederate service records, Union border & western states, and the United States Colored Troops. As more Union service records are microfilmed, they will also be covered by this policy.
Another source are the LDS Family History Centers. Most communities will have a Family History Center (genealogy library) within easy driving distance. Check your yellow pages. You can rent an entire roll of microfilm that covers your ancestor's regiment and records. You may view and copy the records at your local FHC. You may find other ancestors on this same roll of film as it was common for family and friends in the same county to join the same regiment. The cost to rent the microfilm is $3.45 for the initial period (I believe 6 weeks) and $3.45 for each of the renewals. A second renewal puts the roll in permanent loan status to your local FHC, so for $10.35 up front you can have the entire roll available for your own use (and anyone else who may be interested now or in the future). To look for a FHC in your state go to http://www.genhomepage.com/FHC/
Another option is to order paper copies of individual Confederate records from: BROADFOOT PUBLISHING COMPANY. (http://www.broadfootpublishing.com/ ) They are a private company with years of experience in Confederate and WBTS research. The charge is $25.00 plus $5.00 S&H. You can contact them at
Broadfoots Publishing Co.
1907 Buena Vista Circle,
Wilmington, NC 28405,
Washington Genealogy Library, Macon, GA: (http://www.co.bibb.ga.us/library/G&H.htm#Queries)The library has graciously agreed to provide a Georgia CSA soldier service. Please follow the guidelines. Submit only 2 Soldier's names at one time. (Can reorder after receipt of research) 40 cent per page, plus postage, to be paid upon receiving material. GEORGIA RECORDS ONLY! Send E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write:
Genealogy & History Room
Washington Memorial Library
1180 Washington Avenue
Macon, GA 31201
Finally there are some on-line data bases (see reference below) that allow you, usually for a fee, to search by name and state for ancestors. There are also persons who register with state archives and for hire will conduct searches in genealogy.
A second question often is "How can I find information about a particular regiment?"
Printed and Internet sources of information on regiments will be found under References and Details below:
In addition many "County History Books" contains their men's involvement with the WBTS. They'll have at least the local companies raised, sometimes the roster and pension recipient list. Occasionally the battles their local soldiers participated in, their letters home, etc. Contact the county of origin. Ask for contacts for the county historical society or local library or local UDC or SCV organizations.
Many books on individual regiments, brigades, divisions, and corps have been written. A search on the internet or in your local library or local book store may turn up works that will cover the history of the specific regiments of interest.
You can also try the "OR’s" Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. It is suggested that you use the index or obtain the CD-ROM that allows searches. This may be your only alternative for particularly obscure units. The index lists the regiments by state. It is a good idea to check the index for the name of the regiment's commander and perhaps for the brigade commander.
At some point it will be helpful to learn of the regiment's place in the army structure. In other words which brigade, division, corps it was attached to. Knowing other regiments in the same brigade can give you a picture of what the regiment may have experienced. Histories of battles or campaigns may not mention every regiment, but they may mention the brigade or division the regiment is in.
While it is not possible to answer every specific question that you might have here on this web page, it is hoped that we have helped you to get started in this exciting, honorable, and worthy cause.
SCV Confederate Cross of Honor Grave Marker: (http://www.scv674.org/scvcross.htm ) Order one for your Confederate Veteran Ancestor. This link will also explain how to obtain a CSA Veteran's headstone for your CSA Veteran at no cost to you.
While we are on the subject of the Internet, we must admit that there is an explosion of information found on line nowadays and it would be impossible for us to keep up with all the new additions, or the dropped links and discontinued pages. For that reason we will only post here some of the more stable, long term sites and will leave the exploring of new sites to the researcher. In the invent that a dead link is found within this document, try a search for the new URL using the titles or descriptions. That in most cases will bring you to the source which changed their internet address. Many researchers that have posted regimental histories. Use search engines to match up with regiments of interest. In particular here are some sites to help you in your research:
References and Details:
Georgia and Confederate Military History (SCV Camp #674): (http://www.scv674.org/gamilhist.htm )Resources and links to many regimental histories and WBTS sites relating to Georgia and the Confederacy. This is a great source of information regarding regimental work and researchers on the web.
"In Search of Confederate Ancestors", by J.H. Segars.
"Civil War Genealogy", by G.K. Schweitzer,
"In the Footsteps of the Blue and Gray: A Civil War Research Handbook", by Brian A. Brown
"Tracing Your Civil War Ancestor", by B.H. Groene,
"Confederate Research Sources: A Guide to Archive Collections", by James C. Neagles
"Military Bibliography of the Civil War", (4 vols) by C.E. Dornbusch
Broadfoot’s Roster of Confederate Soldiers 1861-1865 16 vols.
"Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia 1861-1865", 6 Volumes by Lillian Henderson, (also available on CD-ROM)
"Compendium of the Confederate Armies", by Stewart Sifakis, 11 vols
"Units of the Confederate States Army", by Joseph H. Crute Jr.
"Confederate Military History", 1899 by the Confederate Publishing Company 19 vols, Edited by Gen. Clement A. Evans of Georgia, (also available on CD-ROM)
National Park Service, Ancestor Research Tips and Links (http://www.nps.gov/frsp/ancestor.htm)
National Park Service Civil War Soldiers Index (http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/soldiers.htm)
(Georgia Civil War Soldiers Index-GA-GenWeb project http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/ga/military/civilwar/gsi.htm)
Georgia Civil War Rosters (http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Lair/3680/cw/cw-ga.html)
Georgia and Confederate Military History (http://www.scv674.org/gamilhist.htm)
Confederate Regimental Histories: (http://www.tarleton.edu/~kjones/confeds.html)
Military History Institute: Bibliography list for Regiments (http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usamhi/Bibliographies/CivilWarUnitBibliographies/)
National Park Service: Sources of Confederate Regimental Histories. (http://www.nps.gov/frsp/archive.htm#Confederate%20Sources)
Regiments of the Confederate Army Webring (http://r.webring.com/hub?ring=csregiment)
WBTS Researchers list CSA A-M (http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/unit4.html)
WBTS Researches List CSA N-V (http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/unit5.html)
Confederate Research Center at Hill College (http://www.hill-college.cc.tx.us/museum/history.html)
Part 15 Questions:
In short essay format give and support an opinion for at least five of these questions:
1. Give a brief explanation of why General Robert Edward Lee is considered a Southern Hero and a role model for young people even today.
2. Give a brief explanation of why General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson is still today considered an honorable man and a Southern Hero.
3. Give a brief explanation of why President Jefferson Davis was a man of honor and is considered a Southern Hero.
4. Why would you consider your Southern ancestors who lived in the 1860-80's heroes?
5. What characteristics of the three men profiled in this unit do you most admire and why?
6. What lessons can people of today learn from the character of these three men?
7. Why is it that so few history books give much information on Southern heroes and patriots?
8. Give a short narrative of any ancestor that was a soldier in the Confederate Army.
9. Give a short family history of ancestors that were alive at the time of the war or during reconstruction.
10. Give a brief explanation of any other Southerner from the War Between the States era that you feel deserves remembrance today.