J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “General Robert E. Lee”

A Horse Soldier and His Mount

One of the people I truly admire from the Civil War is Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Although the political climate today reflects negatively on him, Lee was, in reality, an amazing patriot, husband, father and leader. His soldiers loved him, and after the war, the entire country did, too. He was given a position as president of Washington and Lee University (then Washington College), which he humbly accepted. Lee only lived five more years, and passed away in 1870. He is interred in the Chapel on campus.

Lee was a dedicated military man, having graduated from West Point at the top of his class. His father was the famous Light Horse Harry Lee, who was a hero in the Revolutionary War. His wife, Mary Custis Lee, was a descendant of George Washington. Lee came from a long line of Virginia’s elite.

When the war broke out, Lee was faced with a very difficult decision. He chose his beloved state of Virginia over the Union, and reluctantly gave up his position with the U.S. military. He released his in-law’s slaves at the start of the war. Always the gentleman, Lee told his soldiers not to take or destroy anything when they entered Northern Territory, and that they should be required to pay with Confederate currency, since that’s all the men had, even though their money wasn’t worth anything.

In honor of General Lee’s upcoming birthday, I’d like to post a few articles about him, his life, and his service. This first article is about his beloved horse, Traveller. Lee had many horses during the course of the war, but Traveller was his favorite. You can read more about Traveller and Lee’s other horses in my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray.

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There are few relationships more appreciated than that of a horse soldier and his mount. During the American Civil War, over a million horses perished in service to their respective causes. Few of them are remembered and revered today as much as Robert E. Lee’s horse,Traveller. Buried at Lee Chapel, at the same site as his commander, this dappled grey American Saddle bred was known for his speed, strength and courage in combat. Lee acquired him in 1862, and rode him throughout the war and beyond.

In a letter penned during the war, Lee describedhis horse to Mrs. Lee’s cousin, Markie Williams,who wished to paint a portrait of Traveller. Hewrote: “If I was an artist like you, I would drawa true picture of Traveller; representing his fine proportions, muscular figure, deep chest, short back, strong haunches, flat legs, small head, broad forehead, delicate ears, quick eye, small feet, and black mane and tail. Such a picture would inspire a poet, whose genius could then depict his worth, and describe his endurance of toil, hunger, thirst, heat and cold; and the dangers and suffering through which he has passed. He could dilate upon his sagacity and affection, and his invariable response to every wish of his rider. He might even imagine his thoughts through the long night-marches and days of the battle through which he has passed.”

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(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, vol. 43, issue no. 1, January 2019)

Vandalism Backfires

I love this article! I am so sick and tired of hearing about historically ignorant people destroying monuments. This time, the joke’s on you!

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LEE STATUE DEFACED
The statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee on Richmond’s famed Monument Avenue has been vandalized.

Red paint was splattered on the statue’s base. The letters BLM, an apparent reference to the Black Lives Matter movement, was also sprayed on the base.

Virginia Capitol Police, which is responsible for policing the monuments, told news outlets the vandalism occurred late Friday or early Saturday between patrols.

Within just a few hours of discovering the desecration Saturday morning, cleaning crews arrived on the scene and began working to remove the red paint. By 1:00 pm, clean up was proceeding and our folks on the scene reported that the paint was coming off nicely. Capitol police reported to us that they had collected evidence and an investigation was underway.

This type of violent criminal activity by monument haters only proves to accentuate the real difference between us and them and helps bring more and more citizens to our side. Our folks, who remained on the scene, working with Capitol Police and the cleaning crew throughout the day, reported that most citizens who came by expressed disgust and anger at the vandalism.

By 3:30 pm, less than 10 hours after the vandalism was discovered, crews were putting the finishing touches on the clean up and the result was amazing.

The columns are now bright and shining like new! Almost makes us want to send a note of appreciation to the vandals. Because of them, the monument got a fresh cleaning and looks better than ever!

And on a similar note…
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RICHMOND RALLIES PLANNED
Virginia Task Force, Dixie Defenders, and CSA II have two events planned along Monument Avenue in Richmond.

The first event is on August 19 from 12-4 p.m. at the Jefferson Davis Monument, following the Monument Avenue Commission’s recommendation that the monument be removed.

The second event is planned for September 15.

Monument supporters are encouraged folks to bring flags but flags on poles and signs on sticks are not allowed.

 

(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, August 10, 2018 ed.)

Update on Lee’s Headquarters

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I recently blogged about the Civil War Trust’s efforts to restore the Widow Thompson House, where General Robert E. Lee had his headquarters during the Battle of Gettysburg. The CWT’s goal is to restore the house to its appearance in 1863. The Civil War Trust also intends to restore the surrounding landscape and install an interpretive trail.

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(Photo of the Widow Thompson’s House on Chamberlain Pike taken circa 1861 – 1865.)

The stone house, built in the 1830’s, was owned by Thaddeus Stephens, the Radical Republican Pennsylvania congressman who played an important role in Civil War financing and the anti-slavery movement. The house was leased to Mary Thompson who, in 1863, was a widow living in the house with her eight children. The property surrounding the house played a pivotal role during the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863. Located on Seminary Ridge, the house was first in the center of the Union line of defense and then became a key position for the Confederates. Lee’s army pushed out the Yankees, and the Confederate general quickly took control of the house as his headquarters. For the next three days, the house served as a hospital, fortress, and nerve center for the Confederate army.

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In the 1890’s, the house was left out of the National Military Park and fell into private hands. The site became a popular attraction. Campgrounds, cottages, and a museum popped up around the house. In the 1960’s, Larson’s Motel (later Quality Inn) and a large restaurant surrounded the house.

Two years ago, the Civil War Trust announced plans to purchase and restore the property, as well as four acres surrounding the house, at a cost of $6 million. After receiving donations, the property was purchased last year. This year, restoration to the property’s 1863 appearance began with the demolition of the restaurant and motel. This first phase will be completed this month.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/quality-inn-at-general-lees-headquarters-gettysburg

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/gettysburg/preservation/gettysburg-lees-headquarters.html?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email_update&utm_campaign=51116

 

Researchers Discover Confederate Shipwreck

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An area off the North Carolina coast known for its War Between the States shipwrecks may be adding another to the collection after the discovery of what is believed to be a Confederate blockade runner near Oak Island.

Archaeologists using sonar imaging discovered the 226-foot-long remains of a shipwreck on Feb. 27 in an area where historical documents indicate three runners used during the blockade of the port of Wilmington are located, said Billy Ray Morris, North Carolina’s deputy state archaeologist who manages underwater operations. Morris and a team of divers will return this Wednesday to the site, about 30 miles downstream near Fort Caswell to confirm their finding.

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“Nobody’s found a new Civil War wreck in decades,” Morris said Monday. “With a high-energy maritime environment like you have off the coast of North Carolina, ships are broken apart. This one is relatively intact. You can see that it looks like a ship.”

Three blockade runners are known to have been lost in the area: the Agnes E. Fry, Spunkie and Georgianna McCaw. “By the time I’ve crawled across it with a team of archaeologists and a couple of graduate students … I’m confident I’ll know which wreck it is,” Morris said. He said he hopes to tackle the project on Wednesday. He added that he is not 100 percent certain that the shipwreck is one of the blockade runners.

Wrecks of 27 blockade runners, Confederate ironclads and Union ships used in the blockade have been found in the area that includes the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean around islands such as Oak Island, according to Morris. “It’s the single best assemblage of Civil War shipwrecks anywhere in the world,” he said.
Blockade runners were the cigarette boats of their era, moving fast with an unarmed captain and crew using their talents to avoid the Union ships and get their goods to land.

Military supplies would be put on trains to Weldon in northern North Carolina, and then on to Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The civilian supplies were sold dockside. They were items that the Confederacy couldn’t make and which appealed to the wealthy, Morris said, such as wine and liquor, fancy fabric, books and shoes.

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The Union blockade of the port of Wilmington began in 1861 and ended in January 1865, when the Union troops closed the port and overtook Fort Fisher.

The Underwater Branch of the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology and the Institute of International Maritime Research discovered the shipwreck with the help of a multiyear grant called the American Battlefield Protection Program, Morris said. The grant, funded through the National Park Service, is ending this year, he said.

The Fight for Heritage Continues

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Last week, the Sons of Confederate Veterans won a major victory in Memphis, Tennessee, after a judge decided that they had the right to sue the city for changing the names of three parks. Forrest Park, named after Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, was the primary subject of the suit, because the SCV had placed a large sign at the edge of the park designating it as “Forrest Park.” The city removed the sign without notice, and changed the name of the park to Health Sciences Park. They also did away with Jefferson Davis Park and Confederate Park, renaming them as well.

The ruling is a tremendous victory for Constitutional rights. To remove all things “Confederate” is a criminal offense and should not be taken lightly. Confederate veterans were designated as American veterans way back in 1906, when a Congressional Act was passed as a move toward reconciliation. To destroy or mutilate any veteran’s grave or marker is a Federal offense and should be treated accordingly.

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This goes hand in hand with trying to do away with the Confederate battle flag – the flag for which these veterans so gallantly fought. It is disrespectful to omit the flag from public view because it is misconceived by a few. This has happened at Washington and Lee University. In the chapel where General Robert E. Lee is interred, Confederate flags have been removed. The Confederate battle flag that flew above the Confederate soldier’s monument on the State Capitol grounds in Columbia, South Carolina received national attention a couple of months ago after a massacre took place by a lunatic at a church, and was also removed.

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Several schools around the country are debating whether or not to remove the flag. Although a small town in Virginia decided to retain the flag and their mascot name, “the Rebels,” and Gettysburg, South Dakota declined removing the Confederate battle flag from their town’s logo and police cars, other towns have caved under the pressure brought on by hate groups such as the NAACP. In Kentucky, the debate will continue later this month when board members discuss replacing the flag that was previously flying over an elementary school in Floyd County but was taken down.

Confederate Heritage Month

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Across much of the South, the month of April has long been celebrated as Confederate History or Heritage Month. Some states have debated whether or not to continue the tradition of honoring their Confederate ancestors due to political correctness. Like everything related to the Confederacy, certain groups are trying to erase history by expecting Southerners to stop honoring their ancestors.

After the war concluded, very few Southern soldiers expressed regret for fighting for the Confederacy. On the contrary, most were proud to have fought against northern aggression. The way they saw it, they were not fighting for the continuation of slavery, but for the preservation of state’s rights. General Robert E. Lee, who was commissioned with the U.S. Army when the war broke out, resigned because he decided it was better to side with his state than to fight for the U.S. government as a whole.

Colonel John S. Mosby was quoted after the war as saying, “I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery – a soldier fights for his country – right or wrong – he is not responsible for the political merits of the course he fights in.” This sentiment holds true throughout the course of time, and is still true today. So who are we to judge the sentiments of soldiers who served 150 years ago? Beliefs were very different then, but they shouldn’t be considered as right or wrong. That is merely the way it was.

On this, the final day of Confederate Heritage Month, we should take a moment to consider all the suffering and sacrifice that Southern soldiers went through to protect and defend their homeland. One hundred and fifty years ago, the war they fought in to preserve their heritage came to a close.  Hopefully, the tradition of Confederate History Month won’t come to a close as well.

150th Anniversary of Lee’s Surrender

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Today marks the 150th anniversary of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender, and the closing moments of the Civil War. After realizing that his exhausted and weakened army was surrounded, Lee exchanged a series of notes with Union General Ulysses S. Grant. They finally agreed to meet on April 9, 1865 at Wilmer McLean’s home in the village of Appomattox Court House. Their meeting lasted approximately two and a half hours, after which Lee surrendered his troops to Union forces.

This was indeed a sad day for the South, because it meant the end of states’ rights, as well as a more unified central government. It was sad for the country as a whole, because over 620,000 men lost their lives. Freed slaves thought it was the happiest day until they discovered later on that the Federal government had no intention of helping them prosper as a society. Because of this lack of support, many freedmen suffered from lack of food, medicine, etc., and had no other recourse but to return to their now impoverished former owners and beg for jobs. Thus, sharecropping began.

Appomattox Courthouse is now an historic national treasure. Wilmer McLean’s house has been restored, as have several other outbuildings at the tavern, located at a crossroads intersection. The road where Confederate soldiers lined up to surrender their arms still exists.

All of the buildings were in severe decay when restoration began. Mr. McLean lived at the home for five years after the war until his debt forced him to move back to Northern Virginia, where his wife owned a home. From that time until the 1970’s, the house and surrounding buildings stood vacant. Restoration is still in process.

Lee’s Retreat

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One hundred and fifty years ago today, Confederate General Robert E. Lee found his lines overextended around Petersburg, Virginia. The siege had been going on for nine months, and after a series of battles on April 1-2, 1865, the Rebel lines were broken. Lee withdrew from the city and took his army further southwest, hoping to link up with Confederate troops in North Carolina.

But Union General Ulysses S. Grant pursued, preventing Lee and his dwindling army from moving south. Lee fled through south central Virginia, into Amelia Court House, and west to Sailor’s Creek. Disaster for his army was soon approaching.

On April 6, 1865, the two armies clashed, resulting in a near annihilation of Lee’s forces. But the Confederates resiliently continued westward, marching through Farmville toward Appomattox Court House.

Haunted Lincoln

It is said that ghosts are the spirits of people who met traumatic, violent, untimely deaths. Abraham Lincoln, of course, is one, because he was murdered by John Wilkes Booth about a week after General Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops to General Grant at Appomattox, and on Good Friday at that. Before his assassination, the president foresaw his own death in a dream, where he was wandering around the White House, and was told by a soldier that the president had been killed.

Since then, Lincoln’s ghost has been roaming the halls of the White House. Jenna Bush, one of President George W. Bush’s daughters, said that she had heard phantom opera music coming from the fireplace in her bedroom while she was living at the White House. In the same breath, she expressed her disappointment about never seeing the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. It’s common knowledge that Lincoln’s spirit still resides within the Executive Mansion, as the White House was called during the Civil War. Several heads of state have witnessed the ghost of Lincoln, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, President Coolidge’s wife, Grace, President Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and Ronald Reagan’s daughter, Maureen.

The president’s widow, Mary Todd Lincoln, said that her husband’s ghost often visited her. She became an avid believer in the supernatural and regularly attended seances, usually under an assumed name to disguise her identity. In one photograph, an eerie manifestation of Lincoln appears behind her. It could have been a photographer’s trick, but many other witnesses have seen his ghost as well.


Sightings of Lincoln’s ghost have occurred near his grave in Springfield, Illinois, and at his former home there. It has also been seen at the Loudon Cottage in Loudonville, New York, which belonged to one of the women who was sitting in the president’s box at Ford’s Theatre when he was shot. The President’s spectral funeral train has been observed on the anniversary of its journey from Washington D.C. to Springfield, thundering through the darkness to its spooky destination.

Fortress Monroe, where Confederate President Jefferson Davis was incarcerated for several years following his capture at the end of the war, is said to be haunted by Lincoln, as is Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was shot.

How Could They Have Known?

After the War Between the States ended, many scholars predicted what was to come, and what the national climate would be like. Even during the war, Confederate General Patrick Cleburne was quoted as saying:

“Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late… It means the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern schoolteachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war; will be impressed by the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, and our maimed veterans as fit objects for derision… It is said slavery is all we are fighting for, and if we give it up we give up all. Even if this were true, which we deny, slavery is not all our enemies are fighting for. It is merely the pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties.”

How interesting that, 150 years later, all things representing the Confederacy are under attack. The social climate in America has become too engrossed in what some view as political correctness, instead of paying respect to those who died for a cause and country they believed in. Another interesting quote is as follows:

“History, as written, if accepted in future years, will consign the South to infamy,” says Honorable J. L. M. Curry. The truth, the only antidote for the poison of falsehood, should be set to work at once, or the evil effects will become incurable. No time is to be lost. Soon the cemetery will hold us all. What shall be then thought of our cause and conduct will depend upon what we leave in the books of our era. Books live on. They should not misrepresent us or our dead. But think of the stream pouring from the press, a stream so strong and so full of ignorance of us, and of prejudice against us-think of the political interests, and sectional rivalries, and financial superiority, and numerical preponderance, and commercial advantages, and the immense Governmental influence, all combined upon the successful side-will posterity ever know who we were, or why we fought?”                             – John R Deering, Lee and His Cause,1907

Instead of being concerned about erasing history by deeming certain things as “offensive,” we should embrace them as part of our nation’s heritage. I only hope this turnaround takes place before everything is gone.

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