J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “General Ulysses S. Grant”

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.

Yankee Myths

MYTH– “Confederate symbols should not be tolerated because they represent a government that fought a war to keep blacks in bondage and to preserve the institution of slavery.”

This is one of the most commonly used arguments against Confederate Symbolism and one of the easiest to prove false.

Everyone knows that the South (and the North) had slavery until 1865. The north had slavery at least until 1866, due to some holdouts like future President Union General Ulysses S. Grant who refused to give-up his slaves until the passage of the 13th Amendment. Prior to 1866, slavery was completely legal. The Supreme Court had ruled favorably on the legality and constitutionality of slavery. Presidents Buchanan and Lincoln both promised many times, that they would not interfere with the practice of slavery. Even new laws were put on the books protecting slave owners from loss of slave property due to theft or runaways. Add to that, the fact that the Confederate States constituted the fifth wealthiest region in the world.

The slave owning states had all of these things and more. So why on earth would Southern States secede from the United States? Surely, no one believes that the South would have left the security of the Union and gone to fight a war for something they already had! Countries do not fight wars for the things they have, they fight wars to obtain the things they do not have.

To emphasize how secure the institution of slavery was in the United States, let’s look at what it would have taken to eliminate it. Since slavery was enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, it would require a Constitutional Amendment and that is very difficult to achieve. Two-thirds of the House and Senate must agree to the Amendment and then three-fourths of all the states must vote to ratify the Amendment before it can become part of the U.S. Constitution. This simply would never have happened as long as the Southern States stayed in the Union! That’s right; with the South in the Union, the northern and Southern slave states would have voted down any attempt to amend the Constitution, thereby guaranteeing that the immoral institution of slavery could continue almost indefinitely. So you see, it is quite easy to prove that the South did not secede and fight a war to maintain slavery; an institution they already possessed.

What the South did not have was financial freedom. Southerners were slaves to the industrial demands of the north, just as blacks were slaves to the agricultural demands within the bonds of an unjust labor system. Growth potential was severely limited in the South so long as the north continued to levy heavy Tariffs on things that Southerners needed to purchase; and heavy taxes on those things that Southerners produced.

(Article courtesy of the General William Barksdale Camp 1220, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Columbus, Mississippi, September 2014)

Shiloh (“Peaceful Place” in Hebrew)

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This weekend marks the 151st anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee. Last year was the big event, with over 10,000 spectators and reenactors in attendance (myself included). Although nothing as monumental is slated for this year, the Shiloh National Military Park will still hold discussions and tours of the battlefield.

ImageLast year, a week of events to commemorate the terrible battle took place, including two separate reenactments. Opening ceremonies included an appearance by Miss Tennessee, as well as reenactors portraying generals who fought there: Grant, Hardee, Albert Sidney Johnston (who was killed), Beauregard, Buell, Wallace, and Prentiss, to name a few.

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Simultaneous battles took place before several hundred spectators. A ladies tea and soiree, followed by an 1860’s fashion show, were held under a big tent, surrounded by food vendors and sutlers selling any era item imaginable.

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On Saturday evening, a period ball was held in the big tent, which was so filled with reenactors that it was difficult to move about. However, dancers still had a very enjoyable time. Music was performed by the 52nd Regimental String Band. Sunday morning began with a period church service. Officers spoke about the roles they played during the battle, and then another reenactment took place before the event came to a close.

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