J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Georgia”

Guest Post by Lewis Regenstein

As you know, I frequently feature other authors on my blog; Mr. Regenstein sets the record straight on how important ancestry is. With all the attacks on Confederate heritage these days, I wanted to share his perspective. I hope you enjoy this article.

Rebel

The Last Order of the Lost Cause

Speech By Lewis Regenstein

To Washington, GA Civil War Roundtable        

26 February, 2007

I am deeply honored  to be here today  in this wonderful town of Washington, and I thank you for the chance to speak before such a distinguished group of people. Claibourne has warned me that some of you all are extremely knowledgeable about the War Between the States, and to be careful not to make any mistakes because I will surely get caught and be called on it.  So please go easy on me. 

Before I begin I’d like to emphasize that while I am very proud of my ancestors, I‘m not bragging about anything.  I can  claim no personal distinction for their heroism, which reflects what was common among the hopelessly outnumbered, outsupplied but not outfought Confederate troops, something in which we all take much pride. 

Our ancestors often ran low on food, ammunition, and other supplies, but never on courage.

 I write and talk about all this because I am proud of our heritage and committed to helping keep its memory alive and honored, amidst the ongoing campaign to rewrite history and discredit the valor and honor of the Confederate soldiers and their Cause. I know that no one here today needs educating on this issue.

Here in Washington, some very historic events have taken place, one of them involving one of my ancestors, and I’d like to talk a little about that today. 

 I am very proud that my great grandfather, Andrew Jackson Moses, Jr, of Sumter, S.C., and his four brothers fought for the Confederacy, and Major Raphael Jacob Moses was their uncle, [having married Eliza Moses, the sister of the Moses brothers’ father, Andrew Jackson Moses, Sr.] 

We know first hand, from their letters, diaries, and memoirs, that they and their compatriots were not fighting for slavery, as is so often alleged. They were trying to defend themselves and their comrades, their families,  homes, and country from an often cruel invading army that was trying to kill them, burn their homes and cities, and destroy everything they had. 

Raphael Moses was a fifth generation South Carolinian who in 1849 moved to Columbus, Georgia, where he was a lawyer, planter, and owner of a plantation he named “Esquiline.” Moses’ English ancestors came to America during colonial days, one of them being  his great, great grandfather  Dr. Samuel Nunez, fleeing the Inquisition.  He is credited with saving the newly-established, mosquito-infested colony of Savannah, Georgia from being wiped out in 1733 by a “fever,” then  thought to be yellow fever but which was probably malaria.

Before the War, Moses pioneered the commercial growing of peaches and plums in Georgia, so it could thus be said that he is a major reason Georgia is called The Peach State. Moses is reputed to have been the first planter to ship and sell peaches outside of the South, in 1851, before there was any through connection by railroad. James C. Bonner’s “A History of Georgia Agriculture, 1732-1860,” credits Moses with being the first to succeed in preserving the flavor of shipped peaches, by packing them in a champagne baskets instead of pulverized charcoal.

Moses knew well and wrote in his memoirs about General Robert E. Lee (whom  he was with at Gettysburg) and other major Confederate figures Lee’s Lieutenants. The renowned Douglas Southall Freeman, in his authoritative work called Moses “…the best commissary officer of like rank in the Confederate service.”

As General James Longstreet’s chief commissary officer, Moses participated in many of the major battles in the East, and was responsible for supplying and feeding up to 54,000 troops, porters, and other non-combatants. General Lee had forbidden him from entering private homes in search of supplies in raids into Union territory (such as the incursions into Pennsylvania), even when food and other provisions were in  painfully short supply.  

Moses always paid for what he took from farms and businesses, albeit in Confederate tender.

Often while seizing supplies, Moses encountered considerable hostility and abuse from the local women, which he always endured in good humor, and it became a source of much teasing from his fellow officers. 

Moses always acted honorably, compassionately, and as a gentleman. Once, when a distraught woman approached Moses and pleaded for the return of her pet heifer that had been caught up in a cattle  seizure, he graciously acceded.

The contrast is striking between the humane Confederate policies and those of the North.  Union generals Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan regularly burned and looted homes, farms, courthouses, churches, libraries, and entire cities full of civilians, such as Atlanta and Columbia, South Carolina, and most everything of value in between, later engaging in the mass  slaughtering of Native Americans in the West, largely old men, women, and children in their villages, in what we euphemistically call “The Indian Wars.”

Moses’ memoirs contain some very interesting observations on the Battle of Gettysburg. “…We lost the battle,” laments Moses, “and then came the retreat; the rain poured down in floods that night ! I laid down in a fence corner and near by on the bare earth in an India rubber [tarp] lay General Lee biding the pelting storm.”

In his memoirs, Moses reveals that “General Longstreet did not wish to fight the Battle of Gettysburg. He wanted to go around the hill, but Lee objected on account of our long wagon and artillery trains.” Longstreet, as historian Ed Bearss notes, “knew what muskets in the hands of determined troops could do,” and  felt that the Union forces, holding the high ground, would have the same advantage over his forces that the Confederates had over the Federals at Fredericksburg. If his  advice had been taken, it could have changed the course of the War. 

But Lee rejected Longstreet’s recommendation to swing his troops around the heights, and instead ordered the attack on the center of the Union forces at Cemetery Hill, saying  of the Yankees, “I will whip them here, or they will whip me.” Honorable as always, after the battle Lee took responsibility for the disaster, saying “All this has been my fault.” Longstreet, feeling that the ground fought over had no military value, called that day “the saddest of my life.” Shelby Foote calls Lee’s decision “The mistake of all mistakes.”

Interestingly, the entire battle might have been avoided and the course of the war changed if Longstreet’s forces had not been forced to wait for their reinforcements to arrive. Moses  says that if the Confederates had not been delayed near Cash Town  for over a day waiting for General Richard Stoddert Ewell’s wagon train of supplies, “…I do know that we could have marched easily from Chambersburg to Gettysburg, in a day, and been there before the Union troops.” 

Moses’ three sons also fought for the South, and one was killed at Seven Pines in May, 1862 after performing acts of amazing valor – Lt. Albert Moses Luria, the first Jewish Confederate to fall in battle. 

He was killed at age nineteen after courageously  throwing a live Union artillery shell out of his fortification before it exploded, thereby saving the lives of many of his compatriots.

(The last Confederate Jew to be killed was Major Moses’ nephew, Joshua Lazarus Moses, of Sumter, South Carolina, the brother of my great grandfather. Josh was killed in the battle of Fort Blakeley, Alabama, a few hours after Lee surrendered, commanding the guns  firing the last shots in defense of Mobile. In this battle, Josh’s brothers Perry and Horace were respectively wounded and captured.

RUNNING OUT OF FOOD

Prior to Virginia’s  Battle of the Wilderness in May, 1864, Moses was having more and more difficulty obtaining supplies, since farmers were refusing to sell their crops because of increasing speculation over prices. Moses decided to travel to Georgia, his major source of supplies, to talk to the farmers:  [“It occurred to me, that if I could go to  Georgia and speak to the people who had sons, brothers, relatives and friends suffering for food, that I could get supplies.” Moses asked General Lee for a furlough to go there and loosen up the pipeline, and Lee replied,  “Major, I would approve it but really we can’t spare you, you know.” But when Moses explained his plans, Lee responded, “Well, Major, if you think you can do anything for my poor boys, go and may God crown you effort with success.”]

When he arrived in Georgia in mid-1864,  Moses found few willing and able to help out.[ In his memoirs, he recalled a meeting where he spoke at Temperance Hall in Columbus:

There were about thirty persons present…When I last spoke at this hall, it was to urge the people of Columbus to send their sons and brothers to confront the hazards of war to redress their country’s wrongs. The house was full from pit to gallery with patriotic citizens ready for the sacrifices asked. Now I come from those near and dear to the people here to appeal to them for bread, for the starving Army, and I am confronted by empty benches…

Travelling next to southwest Georgia, Moses was “met there with a very different spirit and had a very successful trip.”] But while there, the Confederate Commissary for the state died, and Moses was appointed  to fill the post. 

Still, the pressures on Moses to obtain and distribute supplies of food remained relentless, and towards the end of the War, the situation had become  desperate. 

THE FINAL DAYS

Moses’ account of those final, chaotic days after Lee’s surrender is filled with stories of heroism and heartbreak, humor and tragedy. (There are many conflicting accounts of this era; what follows is from Moses’ recollections.)

With the defeat of the Confederate forces, the capital of Richmond was abandoned in April, 1865, and the senior government officials and their staff  headed south, avoiding Union forces, and ending up in Georgia. 

Moses tells of  Mrs. Jefferson Davis awaiting her husband in Washington, Georgia, where he arrived accompanied by his cabinet and “a train containing gold and silver bullion.” 

Moses writes, 

shortly before [General  Joseph E.] Johnston’s surrender, I was ordered to Washington, Wilkes County. Soon after, Davis and his cabinet arrived there. Mrs. Davis met her husband in Washington.  A train containing gold and silver bullion accompanied the cabinet. It was brought from Richmond banks. I was staying with General Toombs… I remember seeing General [ Braxton] Bragg waiting under an oak tree to get his $20.00.

I received an order from General  Johnston to provide 250,000 rations at Augusta for the returning soldiers…and there arrange as best I could with general Mollyneux [Molineux] who then occupied Augusta with Federal troops, to protect me in furnishing the troops as they passed through Augusta and to provide for the sick and wounded in hospitals.

One of Moses’ stories describes the close escape from arrest by the Yankees of his close friend, and resident of this area,  General Robert A. Toombs, a leading Georgia planter who served as the South’s first Secretary of State.

Moses was in Washington with his son Israel Moses Nunez, called “Major,” when, he writes,  “…a cavalry man rode up coming from [War Secretary] Breckenbrige [sic] and threw over the fence a sack containing $5,000 in gold for his [Toombs’] personal use”:

He [Toombs] handed it to Major and told him to buy corn and provisions with it and distribute it among the returning soldiers as they passed through Washington, and my son did so use it…

Shortly afterwards, Moses continues, “the government came to arrest [Toombs], and my son Major  met the officer between the gate and the house, while [Toombs] escaped out of the back way, mounted his horse, donned  blue spectacles and after many hair-breath escapes, fled to foreign parts, where his wife followed, and he lived with her some time in Paris.”

THE LAST ORDER OF THE LOST CAUSE

About three weeks after the war’s end, as chief commissary for Georgia, Moses carried out what is reputed to have been the last order of the Confederacy. It involved safeguarding and delivering the Confederate treasury’s last $40,000 of silver and/or gold bullion (perhaps $750,000 today).

(Although the accounts are contradictory and confusing, it appears that Moses  paid $10,000 to the Quartermaster-General in Washington [according to Avery, p. 326], and carried $30,000 in bullion to Augusta.)

Carrying out the order was no easy task, amidst the anarchy of defeat, orderly government and military discipline having collapsed, and lawless mobs of unruly, sometimes drunken former soldiers searching desperately for food and money.

[“The Memoirs of Jefferson Davis,” written by his wife, contain a letter written to Davis several years after the war by Acting Secretary of Treasury, describing how he “directed him [an acting treasurer] to turn the silver bullion over to Major Moses, as it was too bulky and heavy to be managed by us in our then condition; and I saw Moses putting it in a warehouse in Washington [Georgia] before I left there. I also directed him to burn the Confederate notes in the presence of General Breckinridge and myself.]

The Acting Treasurer, Captain M.H. Clark of Clarksville, Tennessee, described the disposition of the Confederate bullion in a 13 January, 1882 interview with the “Louisville Courier Journal”:

Before reaching town [Washington, Georgia], I was halted by Major R.J. Moses, to turn over to him the specie [coins] which president Davis, before he left, ordered to be placed at the disposal of the Commissary Department, to feed the paroled soldiers and stragglers passing through, to prevent their burdening a section already stripped of supplies. I turned over to Major Moses the wagons and silver bullion, and all of the escort except about ten men.

The government’s final order was  handed down at its last  meeting, held  in Washington, Wilkes County, Georgia on 4 May, 1865, which  according to Moses, was attended, among others,  by President Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge, and Major  Moses. (It is unclear who actually attended the meeting, with some accounts saying that Breckinridge  arrived after Davis departed.)

And then, as “Confederate Veteran” observes, “…at last, in the old Heard House in Washington, on Georgia soil, the Southern Confederacy ceased to exist and passed into history.” 

That Last Order, dated 5 May, 1865,  reads as follows: 

Major R.J. Moses, will pay $10,000, the amount of bullion appropriated to Q.M. [quartermaster] Dept. by Sec. War to Maj. R.R. Wood. By order of Q.M. Gen.

[signed] W.F. Alexander, Maj. And Asst. to Q.M. Gen., 5 May, 1865, Washington

But the Confederacy did not die a quiet death. “By early may, 1865, realizing the war was lost, the major units of the Confederate Army had surrendered,”  author Mel Young writes in “Last Order of the Lost Cause,” the authoritative published account for this historic event. 

“Individual Confederate soldiers, groups of soldiers, and small units were trying to walk, ride, or move in groups back to their homes. They were in tattered uniforms, hungry and mostly penniless. Confederate General [Joseph E. ] Johnston, requested of President Davis that 250,000 rations be obtained to be distributed to these discharged soldiers. 

In accepting this responsibility, Moses, now 53 years old,  showed the usual courage and tenacity for which he was known. Facing down a turbulent mob of former Confederates who intercepted and threatened to storm his train  in Barnett, Georgia, Moses  successfully carried out the  order to deliver the remaining Confederate gold bullion to  help and provision the troops struggling to get back home, 

In his classic work, “The History of the State of Georgia, from 1850-1881,” I.W. Avery describes the  situation thusly:

Major Moses had a stirring time with his perilous treasure. It was,      of course, known immediately that he had it in his possession. The war had unhinged men’s ideas and principles. But still more demoralizing of the public conscience was the desperate stress of the people, coupled with the knowledge that the Confederate cause was dead, and that this specie was ownerless and a probable treasure trove and booty for the Federal soldiery. Maj. Moses, with punctilious honor, was resolved to part with it only with his life and to deliver it according to orders in fulfillment of its kindly mission.

Moses biggest problem was protecting the bullion in his charge  from unruly soldiers: “The town was full of stragglers, cavalry men who had just been paid $20.00 each. They had arms but no consciences, and the little taste they had of specie provoked their appetites…” 

Moses writes in his memoirs that  General Robert Toombs gave me the names of ten of the Washington Artillery, all gentlemen well known to him”:

I agreed to pay them $10.00 each in gold to guard it that night and go with me to Augusta. I then took a squad of them and destroyed all the liquor I could find in the shops. I then got part of a keg of powder and put it in a wooden building that was unoccupied and put the boxes of bullion in the same room, placed my guard outside and around the building, and gave out that I had laid a train of powder to the outside, and if the guard was forced, the train would be fired. 

The next morning, Moses had the bullion loaded onto a train filled with some 200 soldiers and “29 cavalry men”, and when the train  was just outside of its destination of Barnett, the trouble started:

…the conductor, a nice old man, came to our car and said, “Major, from the talk I reckon the boys are going to ‘charge’ your car when we reach Barnett.” Charge meant to attack it and take the specie and divide it among themselves….I held a council with my guard, and I told them that if they would stand by me, keep cool, fire (and reload) through an opening we would make in the doors, I thought we could successfully defend the car, but they were not ready to do this, we would be overcome. 

They consulted together, and I was afraid they  would conclude “To join the Cavalry,” but they finally said, “We will stand by you as long as there is a chance to save the specie.”

Avery writes that “These desperate men, a reckless mob, coolly demanded the money, as being as much theirs as anyone’s, and they were armed to enforce the demand.”

Showing amazing courage, Moses then went out “among the men, who were as thick as blackbirds,” and told them that “every dollar of the bullion would be devoted to feeding their fellow soldiers, and caring for the wounded in the hospitals at Augusta…that they might killed me and my guard, but they would be killing men in the discharge of a duty in behalf of their comrades ! That if they killed us, it would be murder, while if we killed any of them in defending the bullion, which we certainly should endeavor to do, we would be justified, because the killing would be in self defense and in a discharge of a sacred duty.”

When two soldiers in the crowd spoke up and vouched for Moses, “the crowd began to disperse,” but unfortunately, the train he was meeting was over an hour late. “…the billows of the seas rise and fall when disturbed by the winds, and this restless crowd at the depot would surge and press up against the door of my box[car] trying to get in, and I would have to threaten them and appeal.”

Avery writes, in a page titled “Attempted Rape of the Bullion,”  that “Major Moses remonstrated quietly and argumentatively with the menacing men surrounding him, and appealed to their honor and patriotism and stated his orders. At length it is seemed nothing could avert the ravishment of this specie.”

“At last, the storm seemed to be subsiding,” writes Moses, when a fellow officer warned him that some men were about to charge his boxcar, led by a young man from Tennessee with a wound on his cheek. Again showing remarkable courage, Moses approached the man and said to him,  “You appear to be a gentleman and bear an honorable wound”:

I then read my orders to him, explained my position, and how trying it was to be forced perhaps to take life and lose my own in the performance of a duty that I could not voluntarily avoid. I told him I had a guard and some friends in the crowd, but we would be outnumbered unless I could enlist men like himself in our behalf. ..

I said, “I appeal to you in the spirit of that honor that belongs to all brave men, to assist me in the discharge of this trust.”

He seemed embarrassed, but said, “I don’t think you will have any further trouble,” and I did not. 

Finally, Moses and his men were able to catch the train to Augusta and  deliver the goods, obtaining a receipt for the delivered bullion from  Major and Quartermaster R.R. Wood dated  5 May, 1865.

“The Atlanta Journal” of 6 February, 1927, in an article entitled “Last official Writing of the Southern Confederacy,” reproduced this receipt, calling it “…the last official writing ever issued by the Confederate administration”:

          It is as historic a curiosity as the world affords, this last 

flicker of a mammoth revolution. Such thoughts cluster around it as would make a grand epic…the paper thus testifying to the honesty and promptness of the disbursing officer of a great shattered government – an administration gone down hopelessly in a grand ruin. 

[The complete story is told in Mel Young’s Last Order of the Lost Cause, and  Robert Rosen’s authoritative, The Jewish Confederates, and originally in I.W. Avery’s “History of the State of Georgia from 1850-1881.]

In his memoirs, Moses wrote: “I have never turned my back on an enemy that was attacking me, or failed to forgive one as soon as he cried for quarter. I can also say that I never deserted a friend…”

 And the Atlanta Journal in 1928 summed up Moses’ career thusly: “At the beginning of the war, although overage, he hastened to the defense of his beloved Southland, offering his fortune, his service, his sons – everything save his honor – a willing sacrifice on the altar of his country.”

After the war, Raphael Moses became an outspoken critic of the Reconstruction government in Georgia, calling its members “spies, carpetbaggers, a class of politicians, men without character who came from the North in swarms seeking whom they might devour.”  He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives and was named  chairman of the Judiciary Committee

On 3 April, 1867, Robert E. Lee, then President of Washington and Lee university in Lexington, Virginia, wrote to Moses asking him, and other prominent men of the South, to help heal the wounds of a divided nation.

Moses remained a loyal Confederate until the very end. When he  died in 

1893, his calling card still read, “Major Raphael J. Moses, C.S.A.”

 Moses and his fellow soldiers  typified many of the brave, beleaguered Confederates who honorably served their country, facing overwhelming, indeed hopeless odds, with loyalty and valor. That terrible war ended fourteen decades ago, but the memory of those  soldiers should never be forgotten. 

Thank you again for the opportunity to discuss and remember some of those events here with you today. 

Lewis Regenstein <regenstein@mindspring.com>, a Native Atlantan, is descended on his Mother’s side  from the Moses family of Georgia and South Carolina, whose patriarch, Myer Moses, participated in the American Revolution..

Almost three dozen members of the extended family fought for the Confederacy, and participated in most of the major battles and campaigns of the War. At least nine of them, largely teenagers,  died in defense of their homeland, and included the first and last Confederate Jews to fall in battle. 

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

In honor of the special holiday, I’d like to share this article. Erin go bragh!

soldier

IRISH REGIMENTS OF THE WAR

Memphis, Tennessee was home to the 2nd largest Irish population in the South, and on the outbreak of War, many rushed to the state colors. Colonel Knox Walker was in command of 2nd TN Infantry Regt, a.k.a. “Irish Regiment”. Early uniforms made by the ladies of the city consisted of a dark, 8 button frock coat, trousers and kepi. The men would carry flintlock or conversion muskets. On completion of basic training the 2nd was sent to Columbus, Kentucky, where they would assist in the construction of water batteries before seeing their first  action at Belmont, Missouri on November 7, 1861.

Irish

1862 would see the Tennessee Irish back in their adopted state and at Shiloh. The regiment took extremely heavy casualties, so much so that it would necessitate consolidation with the 21st TN (also Memphis origin with a large Irish contingent). The new unit would be designated as the 5th Confederate Infantry Regiment and it would go on to establish a reputation as one of the western army’s most reliable regiments and become a favorite of Major-General Patrick Cleburne. The autumn of 1862 would see the 5th acting as escort for General Bragg’s Pioneer Corps during the Kentucky campaign. They were released from this duty and participated at the Battle of Perryville, where they traded shots with the 10th Ohio, a Federal Irish unit. The action between these Irishmen was severe with the Federals having the upper hand. Despite running low on ammunition (the 5th was twice resupplied) the Confederate Irish continually refused to yield and were, eventually, joined by the 37th Tennessee and then by Gen. Cleburne leading his brigade onto the field securing the victory.

By the end of 1862 the regiment had, again, returned to Tennessee and Murfreesboro before going into winter quarters at Tullahoma and then Wartrace. Chickamauga in September 1863 would, once again, see the regiment’s high rate of attrition continue with Captains James Beard & George Moore among the fallen. Even though not part of his brigade, Gen. D.H. Hill was high in his praise for the Memphis Irish. Onto Missionary Ridge and again against overwhelming odds the regiment held until, finding themselves isolated, the 5th finally gave way. Gen. Cleburne used them at Ringgold Gap and his strategic placement of the regiment helped save the Southern army.

The following year would see the regiment involved in virtually all the engagements of the Army of Tennessee from Resaca in May through to Nashville in December even though it was now numbered less than 170 muskets. At Atlanta, these would be reduced further when a large number of them were taken prisoner after a ferocious struggle. Indeed, the remnants of the regiment became disjointed in heavy woodland near Peach-tree Creek. As Lt. Beard and Corporal Coleman emerged onto the road from the woods just as Gen. James B. McPherson and his staff were approaching. Corporal Coleman quickly fired off a round at the Federals, hitting and instantly killing Gen. McPherson. The Confederates were soon taken prisoner and, eventually arrived in Utica, allegedly as the General’s body got there. Corporal Coleman’s comrades later spoke of the young man’s distress and regret at his impulsiveness.

November 30, 1864 would see the 5th Confederate Regiment at Franklin where it formed part of Granbury’s brigade. Gen. Cleburne, however, sought them out and placing himself at their head, he would lead their charge to the Federal breastworks around the small Middle-Tennessee town. Like the general, many would fall. indeed Pvt. Richard “Dick” Cahill’s body was found inside the works with at least 4 bayonet wounds through his head the following morning. Later on, December 1 1864, just 21 men from the 5th would answer the roll. Within 2 weeks, overwhelming Federal numbers would force an overall Southern retreat from before Nashville; it would not be easy for many of the soldiers were barefoot, clad in rags and faced with constant harassment from pursuing Federal cavalry. They would finally reach Corinth, Mississippi before being sent to North Carolina.

 

Fredericksburg

Here just before the Battle of Bentonville, the remaining members of the 5th would again be joined with other units to form Co. I, Consolidated Tennessee Infantry. When Gen. Johnston surrendered his army on April 26, 1865, just 10 soldiers of the 5th Confederate Infantry Regiment laid down their muskets.

5th Confederate Flag Sources:”Military Annals of Tennessee”; C.W. Frazer “Irish-American Units of The Civil War”; T. Rodgers “The Confederate Army 1861 TN & NC: R. Field

Irish in Blue & Gray, # 44; Spring 2019

(Courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars, vol. 44, issue #2, Feb. 2020 ed.)

A Man With a Big Heart

I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas! The following is a story about a remarkable man. During this holiday season, let’s all make an effort to show others love and compassion, just as he did.

christmas-civil-war-gettyimages-551599945

A Soldier’s Christmas Gift

By Calvin E. Johnson, Jr., freelance writer, author of the book When America Stood for God, Family and Country, and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (cjohnson1861@bellsouth.net)

 

This is a True Christmas Story

Christmas is a wonderful time to celebrate with family, friends and supper at Grandma’s house. Grandpa will gather the children around the fireplace and tell them the story of Jesus Christ who was born on Christmas Day while Grandma makes gingerbread cookies and Daddy brings the Christmas tree in the family room for decorating. Mamma as always will lead us in the singing of ‘Silent Night—Holy Night’ as the Star of Bethlehem is placed on top of the tree.

90 years ago….

During the year 1919, one year after the end of World War I, the people of Atlanta, Georgia were celebrating the Christmas Season. Many people attended Church or Synagogue and gave thanks to God for his many blessings. Folks, while shopping, were uplifted by sweet sounds of Christmas music played by the Salvation Army Band. There was a friendly and charitable atmosphere during this time of the year.

There were, however, some who were not as fortunate!

The aging veterans, in the Confederate Soldier’s Home, were proud men who had braved many a battle in the 1860s. One of these men was former Captain Thomas Yopp who saw such battles as that of Fredericksburg where a cannon shell burst knocked him unconscious.

The man who stayed with him until he recovered was his servant who had also joined the 14th Georgia Regiment, Company H. Bill Yopp was more than a servant; he and Thomas Yopp were friends who hunted and fished together.

Bill Yopp, a Black Confederate, was sympathetic to the men of Atlanta’s soldiers’ home who had been his compatriots in arms over fifty years earlier.

During the War Between the States, 1861-1865, Bill Yopp was nicknamed “Ten Cent Bill” because of the money he made shining shoes. He did this for the soldiers at a dime a shine and ended up with more money than most of his comrades. These men, also, cared for him when he was sick.

During the Christmas of 1919, Bill wanted to pay back the kindness that was shown to him. He caught a train from Atlanta to Macon, where he was offered help from the editor of a local newspaper [The Macon Telegraph]. He then caught a train to Savannah to raise Christmas money for the old veterans. Bill met many generous people on his trip.

Just weeks before the Christmas of 1919, he had raised the money and Georgia’s Governor Hugh Dorsey helped him distribute envelopes of three dollars to each veteran. That was a lot of money in those days.

The old Confederates were speechless. Tears were shed because of Bill Yopp’s good heart and kind deed. Many of these men had little or nothing. Bill was invited to come into the home’s Chapel and say a few words.

Bill Yopp was later presented a medal of appreciation for his support of the old soldiers and also voted in as a resident of the Confederate Soldier’s Home.

Bill died on June 3, 1936, the 128th birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He was buried at Marietta, Georgia’s Confederate Cemetery with his compatriots.

The Confederate Soldier’s Home was located at 401 Confederate Ave. in Atlanta, Georgia.

Christmas is about love, forgiveness, old friends, family and the Child who became a savior.

page11image28040

The source of information for this story came from the book, entitled: Bill Yopp “Ten Cent Bill” Narrative of a Slave! This book was written in 1969 by Charles W. Hampton.

 

Bill

William H. “Ten-Cent Bill” Yopp; Company H of the 14th Georgia

Residence: Laurens County, GA
Enlisted on 7/9/1861 as a Drummer-Colored. On 7/9/1861 he mustered into “H” Co. GA 14th Infantry. He was surrendered on 4/9/1865 at Appomattox Court House, VA.

After the war, now a free man, he returned to the Yopp plantation in Georgia and worked there until 1870. He then secured a job as bell boy at the Brown House in Macon. From there he went to New York, California, Europe, and then worked as a porter on the private car of the President of the Delaware and Hudson Railway.

In his later years he returned to Georgia to find his former master, Captain T. M. Yopp, ready to be enrolled in the Confederate Soldier’s Home in Atlanta. Bill was a frequent visitor to the home, not only to see his former master but the other Confederate veterans

as well. At Christmas, with the help of the Macon Telegraph, he raised enough money to give each resident in the home $3.

In 1920, Bill wrote a book entitled “Bill Yopp, ‘Ten-Cent’ Bill.” The book was about his exploits before, during, and after the war. The book sold for 15 cents a copy, or $1.50 for a dozen. Proceeds were shared by Bill and the Confederate Soldier’s Home.

The Confederate veterans were so appreciative of Bill’s help that they took up a collection and awarded him a medal. The board of trustees voted to allow Bill to stay at the Home for as long as he lived. He was one of the last remaining veterans in the Home when it closed its doors in the 1940’s. Bill was also a member of the Atlanta U.C.V. Camp.

1880 United States Federal Census:

Name: William H. Yopp, Home in 1880: Albany, Albany, New York, Age: 34, Estimated birth year: abt 1846
Birthplace: Georgia, Relation to head-of-household:Self (Head), Spouse’s name: Mary J., Occupation:Waite,

Marital Status: Married, Race: Black, Gender: Male Household Members:, William H. Yopp 34, Mary J. Yopp 34, Phoebe Woods 75, Forester E. Alford 20

Sources:
Census Source: Dainah Chandler

http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?C&125020 http://www.37thtexas.org/html/HistRef.html

Burial:
Marietta Confederate Cemetery, Marietta Cobb County, Georgia, USA

Bill's grave

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Jefferson Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars, Volume 43, Issue No. 12, December 2019)

 

 

THE LAST BATTLE, WON BY WOMEN

women

The following amusing incident was copied from a paper by the late Capt. John H. Martin, of Hawkinsville, Ga., in which he said: “The last guns of the Confederacy had been fired on the battle fields and the Confederate military organizations had disbanded, when the heartless despot in command of New Orleans issued an infamous order that prayers must be said in all the churches for Abraham Lincoln. Into St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which had only ladies attending services, strode one of the satrap’s subaltern officers with an imperious step and strut, handed the order to the minister, and, in a pompous, insulting manner, turned and ordered prayers for Lincoln. Like a flash of lightning, impelled by the same heroic impulse, every woman in the house, spontaneously and instantly, without a word, assailed the officer with hat pins, parasols and everything at their command. The cowardly cur beat a hasty retreat and reported to his superior officer that if any further orders for prayers for Lincoln were to be served on the women of New Orleans, another must be found who was fool enough to undertake the serving, for he had enough and had thrown up the job. This might be aptly termed the last battle of the Confederacy, and while the last fought by the men was not a success, the last one fought by the noble, grand, brave women of New Orleans in defense of honor and all that was true and pure and patriotic was a conspicuous success.” 

CONFEDERATE VETERAN—DECEMBER 1928 

Teresa Roane – BLACK CONFEDERATES AND OTHER MINORITIES IN THE WAR OF NORTHERN AGGRESSION

(Article Courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1462, Sons of Confederate Veterans, vol. 43, issue #10, October 2019)

The Number is Alarming

monument
According to the following article, 141 Confederate monuments have been removed or destroyed to date. I find this seriously alarming. Hiding monuments from public view or defacing them with inaccuracies won’t change our history, and neither will putting up plaques to try to explain away the climate as it was back when the monuments were erected. Even the president has declared that destroying Confederate monuments is a national tragedy.
monument 2
Writing on Wednesday for The National Interest, Jordan Brasher suggested that a national cemetery be erected where all of the nations removed Confederate monuments (141 in the last 3 years so far) can be placed. Literally, he has proposed a national Confederate Monument Cemetery.
The Washington Post then reported that in places where the State’s monument and heritage protection acts are working liberals are now taking to erecting signs of their own immediately next to Confederate memorials.
For example:
“This monument should no longer stand as a memorial to white brotherhood,” reads a sign erected this summer alongside a Confederate statue in Georgia.
“This monument … fostered a culture of segregation by implying that public spaces and public memory belonged to whites,” reads another.
Declares a third: “This ignores the segregation and disenfranchisement of African Americans.”
“It’s happening in all sorts of places,” said Adam Domby, a history professor at the College of Charleston who is writing a book about Confederate monuments. “Still, it’s clearly in many cases being used as a stopgap because the laws prohibit removing them.”
The Atlanta History Center now maintains an online database tracking the fate of Confederate monuments.
(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Sept. 27, 2019 ed.)

The Facts Are Alarming

I just read an article written by a former Southern governor, stating that all Confederate monuments were erected to celebrate white supremacy. This is so offensive and off base that I wanted to post the following list in order to show how wrong this attitude is. The fact is, most Southern soldiers fought to protect their homes and ward off the advancing enemy. Let me know what your thoughts are on the subject. Thanks again so much for reading my blog!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

TOWNS BURNED BY THE CONFEDERATE ARMY

1. Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, July 30, 1864

Chambersburg

TOWNS BURNED BY THE UNION ARMY

(from the Official Records):

1. Osceola, Missouri, burned to the ground, September 24, 1861

(The town of 3,000 people was plundered and burned to the ground, 200 slaves were freed and nine local citizens were executed.) *

2. * Platte City, Mo – December 16, 1861 – (“ColonelW. James Morgan marches from St. Joseph to Platte City. Once there, Morgan burns the city and takes three prisoners — all furloughed or discharged Confederate soldiers. Morgan leads the prisoners to Bee Creek, where one is shot and a second is bayonetted, while thethird is released. ”)

3. Dayton, Missouri, burned, January 1 to 3, 1862

4. Frenchburg, Virginia (later West Virginia), burned, January 5, 1862

5. Columbus, Missouri, burned, reported on January 13, 1862

6. Bentonville, Arkansas, partly burned, February 23, 1862

(a Federal search party set fire to the town after finding a dead Union soldier, burning most of it to the ground)*

7. Winton, North Carolina, burned, February 20, 1862

8. Bluffton, South Carolina, burned, reported June 6, 1863

(Union troops, about 1,000 strong, crossed Calibogue Sound and eased up the May River in the pre-dawn fog,

surprising ineffective pickets and having their way in an unoccupied village. Rebel troops put up a bit of a fight, but gunboats blasted away as two-thirds of the town was burned in less than four hours. After the Yankees looted furniture and left, about two-thirds of the town’s 60 homes were destroyed.”)*

9. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, burned, August 5 & 21, 1862

10. Donaldsonville, Louisiana, partly burned, August 10, 1862

11. Athens, Alabama, partly burned, August 30, 1862

12. Prentiss, Mississippi, burned, September 14, 1862

13. Randolph, Tennessee, burned, September 26, 1862

14. Elm Grove and Hopefield, Arkansas, burned, October 18, 1862

15. Bledsoe’s Landing, Arkansas, burned, October 21, 1862

16. Hamblin’s, Arkansas, burned, October 21, 1862

17. Napoleon, Arkansas, partly burned, January 17, 1863

18. Mound City, Arkansas, partly burned, January 13, 1863

19. Clifton, Tennessee, burned, February 20, 1863 20. Hopefield, Arkansas, burned, February 21, 1863

(“Captain Lemon allowed residents one hour to removepersonal items, and the men then burned every house inthe village.”)*

21. Celina, Tennessee, burned, April 19, 1863

22. Hernando, Mississippi, partly burned, April 21, 1863

23. Greenville, Mississippi, burned, May 6, 1863

24. Jackson, Mississippi, mostly burned, May 15, 1863

25. Austin, Mississippi, burned, May 23, 1863

(“On May 24, a detachment of Union marines landednear Austin. They quickly marched to the town, ordered all of the town people out and burned down the

26. Darien, Georgia, burned, June 11, 1863

27. Eunice, Arkansas, burned, June 14, 1863

28. Gaines Landing, Arkansas, burned, June 15, 1863

29. Richmond, Louisiana, burned, June 15, 1863

30. Sibley, Missouri, burned June 28, 1863

31. Donaldsonville, Louisiana, destroyed and burned, June 28, 1863

 

32. Columbus, Tennessee, burned, reported February 10, 1864

33. Meridian, Mississippi, destroyed, February 3 to March 6, 1864

34. Campti, Louisiuana, burned, April 16, 1864

35. Washington, North Carolina, sacked and burned, April 20, 1864

36. Grand Ecore, Louisiana, burned, April 21, 1864

37. Cloutierville, Louisiana, burned, April 25, 1864

38. Bolivar, Mississippi, burned, May 5, 1864

39. Alexandria, Louisiana, burned, May 13, 1864

40. Hallowell’s Landing, Alabama, burned, reported May 14, 1864

41. Newtown, Virginia, ordered to be burned, ordered May 30, 1864

42. Ripley, Mississippi, burned, July 8, 1864

43. Harrisburg, Mississippi, burned, July 14, 1864

Oxford

44. Oxford, Mississippi, burned, August 22, 1864

45. Rome, Georgia, partly burned, November 11, 1864

(“Union soldiers were told to burn buildings theConfederacy could use in its war effort: railroad depots, storehouses, mills, foundries, factories and bridges. Despite orders to respect private property, some soldiers had their own idea. They ran through the city bearing firebrands, setting fire to what George M.Battey Jr. called harmless places.”)*

atlanta

46. Atlanta, Georgia, burned, November 15, 1864

47. Camden Point, Missouri, burned, July 14, 1864

48. Kendal’s Grist-Mill, Arkansas, burned, September 3, 1864

49. Shenandoah Valley, devastated, reported October 1, 1864 by Sheridan

(Washington College was sacked and burned during this campaign)*

50. Griswoldville, Georgia, burned, November 21, 1864

51. Guntersville, Alabama, burned January 15, 1865

52. Somerville, Alabama, burned, January 17, 1865

53. McPhersonville, South Carolina, burned, January 30, 1865

54. Lawtonville, South Carolina, burned, February 7, 1865

55. Barnwell, South Carolina, burned, reported February 9, 1865

56. Orangeburg, South Carolina, burned, February 12, 1865

57. Columbia, South Carolina, burned, reported February 17, 1865

58. Winnsborough, South Carolina, pillaged and partly burned, February 21, 1865

59. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, burned, April 4, 1865

Thanks to Jim Huffman with The Gainesville Volunteers, Picayune for the above places, dates and actions.

(*) information taken from: https://seekingliberty.org/2018/10/01/ the-benchmark-set-by- union-army-1861-1865/

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1452, President Jefferson Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars newsletter, vol. 43, issue 9, September 2019)

 

There’s No Way to Make ‘Em Happy

The latest thing to sweep the South is to place disclaimers on Confederate monuments. I’m sorry, but this is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of. Nevertheless, politically correct kiss asses have bowed down to the NAACP and other various city officials and organizations, and have complied to their bizarre requests. But placing these disclaimer plaques still hasn’t been enough to appease them. The following article conveys the change in opinions.  It’s all weird, in my opinion. Ten years ago, this wouldn’t have even been an issue. Why is that? (Just a side note, we should leave history alone, even if it is offensive to some. It is OUR history, after all. We should cherish and embrace it, not try to erase and destroy it.)

lion

ITS NEVER GONNA BE GOOD ENOUGH
Atlanta became the first city in the country to install contextual markers around its Confederate monuments a month ago, but the local branch of the NAACP says the explanations on the signs aren’t good enough.
In a Tuesday letter to the Atlanta City Council, Atlanta branch president Richard Rose said the markers don’t “counter the notion of white supremacy.” On Wednesday, Rose went further, accusing members of a council committee of being “complicit on compromising on racism.”
“It’s such a profound disappointment,” Rose said of the language on the markers. “It doesn’t give the story of why these monuments were built and the effect they have to this day.”
(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, August 23, 2019 ed.)

What You Didn’t Know About the WBTS

I recently came upon this article and wanted to share. So many myths and legends have surfaced in regard to the causes of the American Civil War, especially since the last veterans died around the 1930’s. Within the past few years, emphasis has been placed on the issue of slavery. Just to set the record straight, slavery was not the cause of the war, like so many believe today. Georgia has decided to put markers on all their Civil War monuments and memorials in an attempt to make a connection to slavery. I think this is completely inappropriate and inaccurate. Let me know what you think after you read this article. Thank you so much for reading my blog!

American-Civil-War-Battle-300x213

Why have many schools stopped teaching American history or cut back drastically on the curriculum? Does anyone care? Is this making kids dumber?

We have been taught, thru the previous rewrites of history, that the North was righteous and good, the South was evil, and all owned slaves and beat and raped them all the time…Lincoln was a saint, who lead troops into war to end slavery. I understand the hatred generated…but it was based on LIES. This propaganda was generated to justify what was done and the lives lost on American soil.

Falsehood: The reason for the war was slavery. Truth : It was MONEY! Excessive taxation (Morrell Tariff was the breaking point) had the South paying 96% of the nation’s taxes. Only 6% of the population of the South owned slaves. Some slaves were even owned by black people. According to the 1860 U.S. CENSUS There were MORE FREE BLACKS living in the SOUTH than in the north. There WERE also slaves in the north. (Grant said of the slaves which attended him throughout the war, that they were his wives. Sherman also had slaves.) The offered Crittendon Amendment, stated that slavery could be made PERMANENT INSTITUTION IF THE SOUTH DIDN’T SECEDE…This was preaching to the choir, in that these congressmen and legislators were of that elite group…BUT they still declined!!!! There had been an agreement with the previous administration to not fortify or send munitions and additional troops to Ft Sumpter, which was violated at night, under the guise of darkness but the moonlight and the close proximity of the Charleston Battery, revealed this to those watching in Charleston and shots which could easily target MEN, where instead issued as warning shots harmlessly across the bow. Our military STILL does this, upon occasion as a warning of a violation.

ALso, during the War, BOTH white and black women were robbed and raped by invading Union troops. The food that they had if not taken, was spoilt and they were left to starve. The city of Atlanta, WAS KNOWN not to be occupied by any TROOPS , but ONLY by women, children, and elderly people when it was decided to be burned. Lincoln was NO SAINT. He wanted Blacks deported to Africa, Or nearby Haiti, Cuba, or other tropical islands…and NOT mixing the races TOGETHER. He met with several black ministers during the war to discuss this plan. Slavery was NOT targeted UNTIL the North lost several battles, and in hopes that in asurrection might take place…but it didn’t. (The Emancipation Proclamation DIDN’T FREE ANYONE…as Lincoln didn’t control those territories. It took a Constitutional Amendment to make that happen. Etc.) And the Confederate Battle flag NEVER FLEW OVER EVEN ONE SLAVE SHIP, But Old Glory DID. IF these vandals had not been LIED to, I don’t think they would have done this. 

The emancipation proclamation only freed the slaves in the South. It was a tactic used to make Lincoln appear to have a moral reason for the destruction he caused.

Thanks to Sharolyn Hamilton for this article.

 

Women of the Confederacy (Pt. 13)

Today is the final day of Confederate Heritage/History Month, as well as Women’s History Month. Likewise, this post is the last one in my series about Confederate Women. The last installation of this series is about the most famous Confederate woman of all, President Jefferson Davis’ wife.

Varina Davis

Varina Howell Davis 

     The namesake of my UDC chapter is one of the most famous women of the Confederacy. Yet, she didn’t wish to be. 

     Varina Banks Howell was born on May 7, 1826 at her family’s plantation, the Briars, near Natchez, Mississippi. She was one of eight surviving children. Her parents were a unique pair, in that her father was a Yankee from New Jersey, and her mother, a Southern Belle, was the daughter of a wealthy planter. Because of that, the First Lady of the Confederacy was an irony, referring to herself as a “half-breed.” Varina’s father managed to provide for his family, but prosperity was intermittent, as he squandered his wife’s inheritance and made poor investment decisions. 

     Varina was not considered attractive by nineteenth century standards: she was tall, thin, and had an olive complexion. She was very well educated, however, and learned to play the piano beautifully. She was able to attend Madame Greenland’s School in Philadelphia, but the money soon ran out, so she returned home to complete her education with a private tutor. She established the reputation of being highly intelligent but outspoken, which was frowned upon in Victorian society.  

     Seven years later, when Varina was seventeen, she was invited to spend the Christmas season with an old family friend, “Uncle Joe” Davis, at his plantation, the Hurricane. While there, she met his much younger brother, Jefferson. It was the first time she had met any of Joseph’s extended family, and although Jefferson was immediately smitten with her, Varina was reluctant. She wrote to her mother: 

He impresses me as a remarkable kind of man, but of uncertain temper, and has a way of taking for granted that everybody agrees with him when he expresses an opinion, which offends me; yet he is most agreeable and has a peculiarly sweet voice and a winning manner of asserting himself. The fact is, he is the kind of person I should expect to rescue one from a mad dog at any risk, but to insist upon a stoical indifference to the fright afterward. 

     After Varina returned home, Jefferson asked her parents’ permission to court her, but Varina’s mother objected. She was concerned that Jefferson was far too old for her daughter (eighteen years her senior), that he was still in love with his deceased wife, Sarah Knox Taylor (daughter of President Zachary Taylor), that he was too devoted to his relatives (his older brother, Joseph, raised him after their father died and financially supported him), and that his political views were different (he was a member of the new Democratic Party, but Varina’s family were Whigs). She eventually gave in, and the two were engaged. An enormous wedding was scheduled to take place at the Hurricane, but just before the event happened, the wedding was cancelled. Varina fell ill, and out of concern, Jefferson frequented her home. The two managed to reconcile, and were wed on February 26, 1845 at the Briars with only a small group of the bride’s family in attendance. Their honeymoon was spent visiting Jefferson’s aged mother and the grave of his deceased wife. 

     The newlyweds set up housekeeping in a two-room cottage on the Brierfield plantation, which was adjacent to the Hurricane. Trouble soon appeared in the form of Jefferson’s widowed sister and her seven children, who moved in without Varina’s approval or consent. Her own family’s financial reliance on them was also an embarrassment to her. Addition problems arose when Jefferson left to campaign for Congress and serve in the Mexican War, leaving Varina to deal with domineering Joseph herself.  

Jefferson was elected to the Senate, so he and Varina moved to Washington, where she thrived. She adored the city and was intrigued by politics. As her husband rose in his political career, she rose in Washington elite society, becoming one of the city’s youngest and most popular hostesses. But when the Civil War broke out, Jefferson resigned his Senate seat, and the two returned to the South. It wasn’t long before Jefferson learned that he had been selected as the new president of the Confederacy. This dismayed Varina deeply, for she knew that her husband didn’t want the job, and that the South would most likely lose the war. However, she dutifully supported him. 

     During the first two years as First Lady, she held extravagant parties. Her friend, Mary Boykin Chesnut, enjoyed and admired her, but others weren’t so supportive. Varina received criticism for being over-extravagant, for not being extravagant enough, for playing favorites, for meddling in politics where she didn’t belong, and for influencing her husband’s decisions. Despite the reticule, she supported the troops by knitting clothing for them, donating rugs for blankets, making shoes from scraps, and visiting wounded Yankee and Confederate soldiers in the hospitals, but she resisted her husband’s insistence to become a volunteer nurse.  

     Jefferson and Varina lost one of their children in the spring of 1864 when he fell from a second-story window of the White House of the Confederacy. A few weeks later, Varina gave birth to a daughter, and nicknamed her Winnie, who later became known as the “Daughter of the Confederacy.” Varina also rescued a young slave boy named Jim Limber, and took him in as her own. In early 1865, Jefferson ordered her to flee Richmond with their children. She financed the trip by selling everything they owned, which came to $8,000 in gold. The family was reunited in Georgia, but Jefferson was soon captured and sent to Fort Monroe prison, where he remained for two years. In the meantime, Varina was prohibited from leaving Georgia. Jim Limber was taken from her, never to be heard of again. After a freed slave threatened one of her children with a gun, Varina sent them to Canada with her mother, and petitioned relentlessly for Jefferson’s release. Finally, he was freed, but he was sickly and frail. 

     The family traveled to Canada and Europe for several years. Jefferson was never convicted of war crimes, but was never able to make a go of any financial endeavors, either. High strung Varina suffered from a nervous breakdown in 1876. While she recovered in Europe and their children studied abroad, Jefferson returned home. He established an insurance company in Memphis, but the business went belly up. He sought the companionship of the wife of a fellow inmate, but the press leaked the news, and Varina, of course, was enraged. Somehow, the two managed to reconcile again, probably because they lost two of their sons (bringing the total to four lost sons). 

     An old friend, Sarah Dorsey, invited Jefferson to live with her at her beachfront home, Beauvoir, in Biloxi. He accepted, thinking that the sea air would do his ailments good, and Varina later joined him. Before Mrs. Dorsey died, she bequeathed Beauvoir to them. Jefferson proceeded to write his memoirs. He died in 1889 while visiting a friend in New Orleans. Varina sold his memoirs the following year, but the book was a failure. She remained at Beauvoir for another year before she sold it to the state of Mississippi for $10,000 to be used as a Confederate veterans’ home, stipulating that it be preserved as “a perpetual memorial sacred to the memory of Jefferson Davis” and the Confederate cause. 

     Once again, Varina received criticism when she moved to New York City to accept a job as a journalist for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York Herald, and took her daughter, Winnie, with her. She befriended Julia Dent Grant, the widow of President and Union General Ulysses S. Grant. Southerners were shocked and offended by her moving to New York and becoming friends with the wife of a dreaded enemy. Not only that, Varina attended a reception and socialized with Booker T. Washington, treating him, to the Southerner’s dismay, like he was an equal. She declined offers to return to the South, and even turned down a residence offered to her in Richmond. On many occasions, she attended both Union and Confederate veterans’ reunions. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. 

     Varina’s heart was broken when Winnie passed away in 1898. Following a bout with double pneumonia, she too died on October 16, 1906 in her apartment overlooking Central Park. She was eighty years old, and was survived by only one of her six children (a daughter), and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Following a funeral procession through the streets of New York City, her body was returned to Richmond and laid to rest beside Jefferson and Winnie in Hollywood Cemetery. 

     One of Varina’s last remaining prized possessions, her diamond and emerald wedding ring, was housed in the museum at Beauvoir, but when Hurricane Katrina hit, the ring was lost. Amazingly, it was discovered on the grounds a few months later, and returned to its rightful place at Beauvoir. 

Women of the Confederacy (Pt. 4)

Juliet Opie Hopkins

“Florence Nightingale of the South”

Juliet Opie Hopkins

Juliet Opie Hopkins was a pioneer in the advancement of women at a time when most were overlooked for supervisory positions. Her extraordinary abilities awarded her the position of leadership and power that didn’t exist anywhere else.

She was born on May 7, 1818 at her family’s Woodburn Plantation in Jefferson County, Virginia. Her father owned around 2,000 slaves, which established him in elite society. During her childhood, Juliet was home-schooled, and was sent to Miss Ritchie’s private school in Richmond when she reached adolescence. When she was sixteen, however, her mother died, so she left school to return home, where she helped manage Woodburn.

In 1837, Juliet married Commodore Alexander Gordon of the United States Navy. However, Gordon died in 1849, leaving her a young widow. She remarried in 1854, to a widower who was twenty-four years her senior. Arthur Hopkins was a lawyer and prominent businessman who had served as a United States senator and Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. They adopted a niece, and considered the girl to be their daughter.

When the War Between the States broke out, Juliet sold her estates in New York, Virginia, and Alabama. She donated the money to the Confederacy for the establishment of hospitals. The Confederate military system dictated that each state was responsible for the care of its own patients.

In June 1861, she moved to Richmond and began organizing money and supplies that were sent from Alabama. In August, she set up a hospital for Alabama’s soldiers, and by November, had established a larger second hospital as well. During the November session, the Alabama legislature assumed responsibility for supporting the hospitals and appointed Juliet as chief matron. In the spring of 1862, she established a third hospital, and received the help of 92 women’s auxiliary groups in Alabama who made clothing and collected supplies.

During the Battle of Seven Pines on June 1, 1862, she was shot twice in the leg while attempting to rescue wounded men from the battlefield. Her injuries required surgery and left her with a permanent limp.

Although her husband was technically named State Hospital Agent, she was the one in charge. Regardless of her tremendous responsibilities, Juliet found time to personally care for soldiers by writing letters, making furlough requests, providing books, and keeping a thorough list of the deceased. She even collected hair samples from the dead to send to their families, which was common practice at the time.

A nurse in the Third Alabama Hospital, Fannie Beers, wrote about her:

“I have never seen a woman better fitted for such work. Energetic, tireless, systematic, loving profoundly the cause and its defenders, she neglected no detail of business or other thing that should afford aid or comfort to the sick and wounded. She kept up a voluminous correspondence, made in person every purchase for her charges, received and accounted for hundreds of boxes sent from Alabama containing clothing and delicacies for the sick and visited the wards of the hospitals every day. If she found any duty neglected by nurse or surgeon or hospital steward, her personal reprimand was certain and very severe. She could not nurse the sick or wounded personally, for her whole time was necessarily devoted to executive duties, but her smile was the sweetest, I believe, that ever lit up a human face, and standing by the bedside of some poor Alabamian, away from home and wretched as well as sick, she must have seemed to him like an angel visitant.”

In March 1863, the Confederate Medical Department assumed control over all hospitals. Many patients were sent to larger facilities, which prompted the closure of 35 units, including two of Juliet’s hospitals. The third hospital was closed in October, so she moved back to Alabama. Finding supplies scarce, she had the carpets in her Mobile home cut up and used for blankets. She continued her work in Tuskagee and Montgomery hospitals. When the state was invaded in April 1865, she and her husband fled to Georgia.

After the war ended, they returned to Mobile, and her humanitarian efforts became more well-known, making her a living legend.

Judge Hopkins died later that year, so Juliet left Alabama to live on property she still owned in New York City. Because she and her husband had lost most of their wealth, she lived the rest of her life in relative poverty. She died on March 9, 1890 while visiting her daughter in Washington D.C. Scores of veterans attended her funeral, including Confederate Generals Joseph Wheeler and Joseph E. Johnston, as well as Union General John Schofield. Members of the Alabama congressional delegation served as pallbearers. She was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in the same gravesite as her son-in-law, Union General Romeyn Beck Ayers.

In 1987, a marker was finally placed on her grave.

It is estimated that Juliet donated between $200,000 and $500,000 for the Southern cause. She was so revered by her peers that her picture was printed on Alabama Confederate paper currency 25-cent and 50-cent bills. She is a member of the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame.

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