A Few of Our Biographies:
The Civil War (Western Theater):
This is Part Five of a Five-Part Article
2. French Camp Academy is a highly regarded Christian boarding school for children from broken homes. There are 12 residence homes staffed by house parents who lovingly treat each child like their own biological offspring. The comprehensive scholastic program is accredited by the Mississippi Department of Education; there is a full athletic program; and there is a required work-study program (a number of the children work part time at the Natchez Trace Historic Village). French Creek Academy boasts the largest astronomical observatory in Mississippi, a 100,000-watt radio station, and an impressive music department. It is worth the extra 15 to 20 minutes to drive through the campus.
3. Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton, C.S.A., was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. He was an artillery officer in the United States Regular Army (which may in part explain the superb placement of artillery at Vicksburg) and fought in the Mexican-American War alongside Ulysses S. Grant. Because he married a Southern woman and served many years in the South, he felt a deep attachment to the region, and resigned his Federal commission to fight for the Confederacy. Though he defended Vicksburg to the best of his ability, a significant number of Southerners suspected him of treachery in surrendering because of his Northern birth. Few of these suspicious souls could have come under fire during the seige, or seen starving children in caves.
4. Lt. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston was probably the best of all of the Confederate generals but was never able to exercise his full potential. An 1829 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York (13th among 46 cadets), Johnston was the first USMA graduate to achieve the rank of brigadier general in the United States Regular Army, thus reaching a higher Regular Army rank than did his 1829 classmate Robert E. Lee (2nd among 46 cadets). Johnston resigned his commission in 1837 and studied civil engineering. He was involved in heavy fighting in 1838 against the Seminoles in Florida, leaving him with a permanent head scar. Rejoining the Regular Army, he was commissioned a 1st Lieutenant of Engineers, then breveted a captain for his civilian actions against the Seminoles and his explorations of the Everglades. He was wounded twice in major battles of the Mexican-American War and after the war was posted to California. He was appointed Quartermaster General of the United States Regular Army in June 1860. A Virginian by birth, he resigned his commission when Virginia seceded in 1861, the highest-ranking Regular Army officer to do so. Commissioned a major general in the Virginia Militia, he relieved Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson in command at Harpers Ferry and organized the Confederate Army of the Shenandoah. Johnston brought forces from the Shenandoah to reinforce those of Brig. Gen. P. T. G. Beauregard.
5. Vicksburg’s surrender took place in the shade of an old oak tree "made historical by the event." In his "Personal Memoirs," Ulysses S. Grant describes the fate of the hapless oak: "It was but a short time before the last vestige of its body, root and limb had disappeared, the fragments taken as trophies. Since then the same tree has furnished as many cords of wood, in the shape of trophies, as the True Cross."
6. Hurricane Katrina, the costliest and one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, was the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the third-strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in the United States. Katrina formed 23 August 2005 over the Bahamas and crossed southern Florida as a moderate Category 1 hurricane, causing deaths and flooding there, before strengthening rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm weakened before making its second and third landfalls as a Category 3 storm on the morning of August 29 in southeast Louisiana and at the Louisiana-Mississippi state line. The storm surge caused severe damage along the Gulf Coast, devastating the Mississippi cities of Bay St. Louis, D’Iberville, Gautier, Gulfport, Long Beach, Moss Point, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula, Pass Christian, and Waveland. In Biloxi it did extensive damage to Beauvoir, home of Jefferson Davis following the Civil War, and an adjacent Confederate cemetery. In Louisiana, the New Orleans federal flood protection system failed in more than 50 places. Nearly every levee in metro New Orleans breached as Hurricane Katrina passed east of the city, subsequently flooding 80 percent of the city and many neighboring areas for weeks.
7. Lt. Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, C.S.A., of Louisiana, was the first important Confederate general of the Civil War. Called "the Napoleon in gray," he commanded the Southern forces in the 12 April 1861 assault of Fort Sumter, South Carolina, that began the war. Three months later he commanded the victorious Confederate forces at the 1st Battle of Bull Run near Manassas, Virginia. Born near New Orleans, he graduated second in the Class of 1838 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, excelling both as an artilleryman and a military engineer. During the Mexican-American War he was breveted captain after the Battles of Contreras and Churubusco and to major after the Battle of Chapultepec where he was twice wounded. He served 1858-1861 as chief engineer in charge of drainage at New Orleans and supervised the construction of the Federal Customs House in that city. He returned to the USMA in 1861 to teach, becoming superintendent of the school five days before he resigned his commission when Louisiana seceded. He entered the Confederate Army as a brigadier general in March 1861 and was promoted July 1861 to lieutenant general, becoming one of only eight full generals to serve the Confederacy during the Civil War. After the 1st Battle of Bull Run, Beauregard advocated a standard battle flag for all Confederate forces and, as noted above, collaborated with Joseph E. Johnston and William Porcher Miles in designing one. He advocated garrisoning New Orleans with a strong force but was overruled by President Jefferson Davis, resulting in continuing and increasing animosity between Beauregard and Davis that undoubtedly was damaging to Beauregard’s career.
8. Barataria Bay, Louisiana, was the base of a pirate colony, the "Kingdom of Barataria," led by Jean Baptiste Lafitte and his older brother, Pierre, descendants of Spanish Jews exiled to France. Allegedly, Lafitte was a friend of Napoleon Bonaparte and tried to help Napoleon escape from exile at St. Helena; the attempt failed. Lafitte claimed he ruled "a thousand men," and he led whatever was the true number in helping Gen. Andrew Jackson defeat the British in the Battle of New Orleans. (The men brought by Lafitte were artillery experts and were doubtless of major assistance to Jackson.) Though Hollywood has twice made a hero of Lafitte, he and brother Pierre, heavily involved in espionage, were double agents, and their true loyalty to the United States is suspect. Lafitte was run out of New Orleans in 1817, two years after the legendary battle, and relocated to Galveston Island, Texas, established "the Kingdom of Campeche," and engaged in a slave-running enterprise with James Bowie. In 1821, a U.S. Navy warship evicted him from Galveston and from the northern Gulf of Mexico in general. The Lafittes, especially Jean, remain folk heroes with the people of Louisiana, particularly those in rural areas, and merchants continue to enjoy profits from hawking Lafitte-related souvenirs to tourists. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, a bar on Bourbon Street in the Vieux Carre (French Quarter), New Orleans, is one of the oldest continuously operating bars in the nation and claims to have been a front for Lafitte’s various enterprises in New Orleans, but there is no solid evidence to support this. Today there is the 20,000-acre Barataria Nature Preserve, there is the Louisiana Cajun village named Lafitte, Chalmette has a street named for Lafitte, and of course there is the huge Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.
9. During the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, Americans employed the British method of identifying large-bore weapons, i.e., they named a cannon by type and the weight of the projectile it fired. Thus, there were 12-pounder Napoleons, 6-pounder mountain howitzers, 100-pounder Columbiads (Rodmans), and the like. During the Civil War, the Federal Army (and by extension, the Confederates, though their pieces were inconsistently identified) continued this practice but also began identifying some artillery pieces by their types and sizes of their bores, e.g., 3-inch Ordnance Rifles, 13-inch seige mortars, 20-inch Columbiads (Rodmans), etc. This practice continues today, sometimes without apparent logic, e.g., during the Korean War there were 60mm, 81mm, and 4.2-inch mortars, 105mm, 155mm, and 8-inch howitzers, and the like.
10. At the end of the first day’s fighting at Shiloh, a worried William Tecumseh Sherman approached Ulysses S. Grant, who was sheltering under a tree from the pouring rain, smoking one of his seemingly interminable cigars while reviewing the day and planning for the next: “Well, Grant, we’ve had the devil’s own day, haven’t we?” Grant looked up. “Yes,” he said, followed by a puff of his cigar. “Yes. Lick ‘em tomorrow, though.”
11. In 1766, the river where the Battle of Stones River would be fought was named for the hunter Uriah Stone, i.e., Stone's River, with an apostrophe in "Stone's." It was Stone's River at the time of the battle, and it was Stone's River for decades after, but sometime in the 20th Century the apostrophe got dropped, possibly when the battlefield became part of the National Park System; it became Stones River on maps, travel brochures, etc., and remains so to this day. Incidentally, Stone was a "longhunter." Longhunters were 18th Century explorers and hunters who conducted expeditions into the frontier wilderness for as long as six months - forerunners, in some ways, of the 19th century Mountain Men. Information gathered by the longhunters was important to the early settlement of Kentucky and Tennessee. Many longhunters were employed by land surveyors, and some guided settlers to southeastern Kentucky and Middle Tennessee.
12. Lt. Gen. Braxton Bragg, C.S.A., was graduated in 1837, fifth in a class of 50, from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, after which he served in the Second Seminole War in Florida. During the Mexican-American War he won several commendations and promotions for distinguished and gallant conduct. He resigned his commission in 1859 to become a sugar planter at Thibodaux, Louisiana, serving simultaneously in the Louisiana Militia, where he was promoted to major general in February 1961. He was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate Army in March 1861, then promoted to major general in September 1861, assigned to command the Army of Mississippi. After the Seige of Corinth, Lt. Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, C.S.A., left the army allegedly because of "illness." He did not report his leaving to President Jefferson Davis and was thus absent without leave for two weeks. Davis had been seeking a replacement for Beauregard because of his poor performance at Corinth and in June 1862 seized this opportunity to replace him with Bragg, who thus became commander of the Army of Tennessee.
There is no doubt that troops under his command were some of the most soldierly of either side. A strict disciplinarian, he enforced military policies and regulations to the letter. When he took his forces to Corinth, Mississippi, he was charged with improving the discipline of the troops already stationed there, a task which he apparently accomplished with relish. Unfortunately for him and the Confederacy, his irritable and pugnacious attitude diminished his overall effectiveness, not only among the enlisted men but with his officers as well.
13. More than two-thirds of Tennessee – the eastern and central sections especially – are part of what the National Biological Information Center refers to as the Southern Appalachia Regional Node. Like the rest of Appalachia, this region comprises multiple north-to-south mountain ranges and ridges (individual mountains average about 3,000 feet above sea level, with Mount Mitchell, North Carolina, the highest in the Appalachian Chain at 6,684 feet above sea level) with deep, sometimes wide, valleys between them. Depressions in these mountains and ridges which allow relatively easy passage from one valley to the next are regionally termed "cuts." In Europe and in the western United States, such passages are called "passes." Because traffic necessarily funneled through these cuts, settlements often grew next to them.
14. When the Civil War began, John T. Wilder set out to form his own artillery battery, casting two cannons in his foundry, only to find that the State of Indiana already had its quota of artillery batteries. Wilder then joined the 17th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment as a captain and was soon promoted to lieutenant colonel. The 17th Indiana regularly skirmished with Confederate cavalry. Frustrated because there was not enough cavalry to protect the infantry, Wilder applied to have his men mounted. His application was granted in February 1863 and the Wilder’s Brigade of Federal cavalry became official. Wilder wanted his cavalry to have the best weapons available, and he attended a demonstration of Christopher Spencer’s new lever action repeating rifle. Unable to obtain Spencers through official channels, Wilder took out a bank loan to finance their purchase, his troopers agreeing to have an amount deducted regularly from their pay to reimburse him. The men of Wilder’s Brigade received their Spencers in May 1863, becoming one of the first units of the Federal Army of the Cumberland to be equipped with the weapons. The Spencer-armed unit became known as "Wilder’s Flying Brigade" because of its speed of response. At the opening of the Chickamauga Campaign, the brigade was comprised of the 97th, 98th, and 123rd Illinois and the 17th and 72nd Indiana regiments, with artillery support supplied by Capt. Eli Lilly’s 18th Indiana Artillery Battery of six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.
15. The Spencer repeating rifle was a manually operated, lever action breech-loading rifle with a seven-round tubular magazine in its butt, using .56-56 caliber (actual projectile diameter was .52 inches) rimfire self-contained all-metal blackpowder cartridges. Adopted by the Federal Army, it was popular (especially the lighter, shorter carbine version used by units of the Federal cavalry) but did not replace the standard-issue Enfield and Springfield rifles. A lever was worked to feed cartridges from the magazine and to extract fired cases. The hammer was then cocked manually, making the weapon ready to fire. When empty, the tubular magazine could be rapidly reloaded by dropping cartridges into the tube or by use of the Blakeslee Cartridge Box.
Development of the weapon was completed by Christopher Spencer in 1860 but the highly conservative War Department thought it too wasteful of ammunition. Spencer was eventually able to gain the attention of President Abraham Lincoln, who invited him to a shooting match and demonstration of his rifle. Impressed, Lincoln ordered adoption of the rifle. (The story is told in the fascinating book "Lincoln and the Tools of War" by Robert V. Bruce .) The United States Navy almost immediately adopted the Spencer repeating rifle, with the Army following suit some months later. One of the first combat uses of the Spencer was at the Battle of Hoover’s Gap where the Federal cavalry "Lightning Brigade" effectively demonstrated the superiority of its firepower. A soldier armed with a Spencer could fire 20 or more aimed rounds a minute, while one armed with an Enfield or Springfield could fire a maximum of three aimed rounds a minute. During the Gettysburg Campaign, two regiments of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer were armed with Spencer carbines, using them effectively against the Confederate cavalry. The Confederates occasionally captured Spencers, but their use was limited to the ammunition at hand, as insufficient copper was available to manufacture the Spencer cartridge cases. Almost 200,000 Spencer rifles and carbines were manufactured, marking the first time a removable-magazine breech-loading infantry rifle was adopted by any nation. After the Civil War many surplus Spencer carbines were sold to France where they were used against Germany in the 1880 Franco-Prussian War. Although Spencer went out of business in 1869, ammunition for the weapons was sold extensively through the 1920s and is still available from specialty cartridge manufacturers today.
16. Eli Lilly's first command in the war (as a captain) was "Lilly’s Jackass Battery," six 12-pounder mountain howitzers drawn by jackasses instead of horses, regarded as the best-organized, most effective Federal artillery battery of the war. After the war Lilly became a cotton planter in Mississippi but was ruined by drought. He found work in 1867 in Indianapolis with a wholesale grocery and druggist. The drug business was sold to a local entrepreneur, ultimately being acquired by Lilly and a partner, who went into the drug business in Paris, Illinois, as Binford & Lilly. The venture was successful; Lilly, meanwhile, was enticed by the possibilities of drug manufacturing. In 1873 he returned to Indianapolis to found the drug manufacturing firm of Johnston & Lilly. In 1876 he left that firm and went into business for himself. Blessed with Lilly’s inventive ability and machinery design talent, the business prospered as Eli Lilly & Co. Today the firm has some 40,000 employees world-wide.
17. Chickamauga is a Native American word meaning "stagnant water." However, many writers have corrupted Chickamauga to mean "river of death," probably because it is more colorful in light of the battle fought along that creek.
18. A canister round consisted of a thin metal cage holding 27 cast iron balls. As the round was fired, the cage disintegrated, freeing the balls and turning the cannon or rifle into a giant and extremely lethal shotgun. When artillerymen were faced with a great number of attackers, they loaded two canister rounds, one on top of the other, i.e., double canister. The terrible effect of double canister is reflected in the number of casualties in such close-run battles as Franklin and the third day of Gettysburg where double canister wreaked carnage on courageous Confederates during Pickett’s Charge.
19. The State of Georgia, the first state to preserve and protect battlefields of the Civil War, cooperated extensively with the National Park Service in establishing the Georgia section of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, as it did in establishing the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. The superb Georgia Blue and Gray Trail boasts some of the best-preserved and best-maintained Civil War sites in the nation, including the battlefields of Ringgold, Tunnel Hill, Dalton, Resaca, and Allatoona, and dozens of other important sites. The Blue and Gray Trail is a work in progress, as the State of Georgia attempts to regain as much original battlefield terrain as possible. One excellent example of this zeal is Tunnel Hill. In the 1990s, the tunnel was boarded up, and a fence prevented access to the battlefield area. Now the railroad tunnel itself has been restored and is open to the public, and a visitor center has been built. Regular battle reenactments are conducted periodically at the site. Another site, a true gem of preservation, is Pickett’s Mill Battlefield, the site of a bloody and costly encounter, where almost the entire battlefield is kept in pristine 1864 condition, as though the combatants had been there only days ago. As at Tunnel Hill, a visitor center has been built and is staffed with knowledgeable Georgia State Park personnel. Sadly, only markers and monuments trace the elements of the Battle of Atlanta. There is an Atlanta History Center containing thousands of Civil War artifacts and portraying the events of the battle accurately. And there is the Cyclorama, in Grant Park, which houses "The Battle of Atlanta," a magnificent enormous circular painting of the 22 July 1864 battle, unveiled in 1892.
20. For instance, regarding the 20th President of the United States: "James Garfield served as Major General William S. Rosecrans' Chief of Staff at Chickamauga. Four months after becoming President, Garfield was shot in the back by a disgruntled office seeker. Garfield died two months later on 19 September 1881, the 18th Anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga," and "Ambrose Bierce, American writer of the late 19th Century and author of 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,' 'Chickamauga,' and other Civil War stories, served as topographical engineer (map maker) on General William B. Hazen’s staff during the Chickamauga Campaign."
21. In March 1865, Col. William F. "Baldy" Smith was breveted first a brigadier general, then a major general, in recognition of his services during the Battles for Chattanooga and in the Virginia Campaign of 1864.
22. Maj. Gen. Patrick Ronayne Cleburne was born in Ovens, County Cork, Ireland to Dr. Joseph Cleburne and his wife (who died when Patrick was 18 months old; he was orphaned at 15). He intended to follow in his father’s footsteps as a physician but in 1846 failed his medical examinations. Feeling disgraced, he enlisted in the 41st Regiment of Foot, British Army, eventually promoted to corporal. After three years, Cleburne bought his discharge and emigrated with two brothers and a sister to the United States. Following a short stay in Ohio, he settled in Helena, Arkansas, where he became a pharmacist and was accepted into the upper echelons of the town’s social order. By 1860, Cleburne had become a naturalized citizen of the United States and a successful lawyer, and was well-liked and respected by the citizens of Helena. As the secession crisis came to a boil, Cleburne allied himself with the South out of love for the people who had accepted him so fully. As the crisis neared the breaking point, Cleburne enlisted in the Yell Rifles (a local militia company) as a private but was quickly elected captain. When Arkansas joined the Confederacy, the Yell Rifles became part of the 1st Arkansas Infantry, later renumbered the 15th Arkansas Infantry, of which Cleburne was elected colonel, being promoted to brigadier general 4 March 1862.
(See here for additional reading suggestions on the Civil War.)
Bobrick, Benson. "Testament: A Soldier’s Story of the Civil War" (2003).
Cozzens, Peter. "No Better Place to Die: The Battle of Stones River" (1990).
Cozzens, Peter. "The Shipwreck of Their Hopes: The Battles For Chattanooga" (1994).
Cozzens, Peter. "This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga" (1992).
Dyer, John P. "The Gallant Hood" (1950).
Hart, B. H. Liddell. "Sherman: Soldier, Realist, American"
Kaltman, Al. "Cigars, Whiskey & Winning: Leadership Lessons from General Ulysses S. Grant" (1998).
McDonough, James Lee & Thomas L. Connelly. "Five Tragic Hours: The Battle of Franklin" (1983).
Sword, Wiley. "The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah: Spring Hill, Franklin & Nashville" (1992).
Tucker, Glenn. "Chickamauga: Bloody Battle in the West" (1960).
Watkins, Samuel R. (Ruth Ashby Ed.) "The Diary of Sam Watkins, a Confederate Soldier (in My Own Words)" (2003).