J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “history”

Distortion of History

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Teresa Roane and I have taken up a crusade to defend Confederate monuments. She is more of an activist, and I am a writer, but we both feel the same passion about saving our history. Ms. Roane previously worked at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. She sees firsthand how the history of Richmond in relation to the Civil War has fallen under attack for the past few years.

Yesterday, she posted on Facebook:

“This is a sad day in Virginia. The fight to preserve Confederate heritage begins. I have not forgotten that one Richmond City Council member said that they hoped that the Virginia General Assembly would come under Democratic control. Why? Because then they could petition to eliminate Monument Avenue.

“Confederate memorials have existed for decades. An organization with a 5 million dollar endowment created a buzz phrase in 2017 and anyone who did not have a lick of sense spread that phrase all over this country. It created racial division and brought out such hatred. It also proved that ignorance about Confederate history reigns.

“Here is my question to the people who sat quietly on the sidelines. What are you going to do now? I have met so many people who said that they didn’t want the Confederate memorials removed. Will you stand up now? Will you let the politicians dictate history?

“We are in one heck of a fight……”

JEB

I cannot comprehend why this tragedy keeps escalating, although I understand why it occurred in the first place. If my ancestors were under attack, I’d be all in arms. However, my relatives came over from Ireland and Germany after the War Between the States ended. Still, I can’t believe how disrespectful it is that the great Commonwealth of Virginia has decided to disregard its heritage, along with so many other Southern states. Contorting everything related to the Confederacy by claiming it to be racist/Jim Crow is inaccurate, offensive, distasteful, and wrong. Keep distorting our historic remembrances by destroying and hiding them, and pretty soon, our history will all be gone. Erase our history, and after a while, history will be repeated because we will forget.

Here’s another jab against American heritage. It’s amazing how the past is being twisted into inaccurate, untrue current views.

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H.R.4179 – NO FEDERAL FUNDING FOR CONFEDERATE SYMBOLS ACT

116TH CONGRESS 1ST SESSION
H. R. 4179

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

August 9, 2019

Mr. Espaillat (for himself, Mr. Evans, Ms. Clarke of New York, Ms. Velázquez, Ms. Adams, Mr. Quigley, Ms. Wasserman Schultz, Mr. Khanna, Ms. Jackson Lee, and Mr. Gallego) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services, and in addition to the Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Natural Resources, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL To prohibit the use of Federal funds for Confederate symbols, and for other purposes.

1. Short title

This Act may be cited as the No Federal Funding for Confederate Symbols Act.

2. Findings

The Congress finds the following:

(1) The Confederate battle flag is one of the most controversial symbols from U.S. history, signifying a representation of racism, slavery, and the oppression of African Americans.

(2) The Confederate flag and the erection of Confederate monuments were used as symbols to resist efforts to dismantle Jim Crow segregation, and have become pillars of Ku Klux Klan rallies.

(3) There are at least 1,503 symbols of the Confederacy in public spaces, including 109 public schools named after prominent Confederates, many with large African-American student populations.

 

(4) There are more than 700 Confederate monuments and statues on public property throughout the country, the vast majority in the South. These include 96 monuments in Virginia, 90 in Georgia, and 90 in North Carolina.

(5) Ten major U.S. military installations are named in honor of Confederate military leaders. These include Fort Rucker (Gen. Edmund Rucker) in Alabama; Fort Benning (Brig. Gen. Henry L. Benning) and Fort Gordon (Maj. Gen. John Brown Gordon) in Georgia; Camp Beauregard (Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard) and Fort Polk (Gen. Leonidas Polk) in Louisiana; Fort Bragg (Gen. Braxton Bragg) in North Carolina; Fort Hood (Gen. John Bell Hood) in Texas; and Fort A.P. Hill (Gen. A.P. Hill), Fort Lee (Gen. Robert E. Lee), and Fort Pickett (Gen. George Pickett) in Virginia.

3. Federal funds restriction

(a) In general

Except as provided in subsection (c), no Federal funds may be used for the creation, maintenance, or display, as applicable, of any Confederate symbol on Federal public land, including any highway, park, subway, Federal building, military installation, street, or other Federal property.

(b) Confederate symbol defined

The term Confederate symbol includes the following:

(1) A Confederate battle flag.

(2) Any symbol or other signage that honors the Confederacy.

(3) Any monument or statue that honors a Confederate leader or soldier or the Confederate States of America.

(c) Exceptions
(d) Subsection( a) does not apply—

if the use of such funds is necessary to allow for removal of the Confederate symbol to address public safety; or

(2) in the case of a Confederate symbol created, maintained, or displayed in a museum or educational exhibit, with such designation as the Secretary determines appropriate:

(1) Fort Rucker, Alabama.
(2) Fort Benning, Georgia.
(3) Fort Gordon, Georgia.
(4) Camp Beauregard, Louisiana. (5) Fort Polk, Louisiana.

(6) Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (7) Fort Hood, Texas.
(8) Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.
(9) Fort Lee, Virginia.

(10) Fort Pickett, Virginia. (b) References

Any reference in any law, regulation, map, document, paper, or other record of the United States to a military installation referred to in subsection (a) shall be deemed to be a reference to such installation as redesignated under such subsection.

 

(Article courtesy of the Southern Comfort, Samuel A. Hughey camp 1452, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Vol. 43, Issue No. 11, November 2019 ed.)

Some Statues Are Still Sacred

Bless Mississippi for standing true to her flag and protecting her Confederate statues. I only wish other Southern states would hold as true to their honorable history as the Magnolia State. The destruction/desecration of Confederate monuments is alarming. How weird would it be if, sometime in the future, only statues of Union soldiers existed? What about the other half of the story?

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MISSISSIPPI STATE MONUMENT TO BE REDEDICATED FOLLOWING SUCCESSFUL RESTORATION

Monument was originally dedicated in 1909 

Date: October 16, 2019 Contact: Scott Babinowich, NPS, (601) 642-6881 Contact: Bess Averett, Director of Friends of Vicksburg NMP(601) 831-6896 

On November 11, 2019 at 2:30 p.m., Vicksburg National Military Park, the State of Mississippi, and the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign will re- dedicate the Mississippi State Monument within Vicksburg National Military Park. 

Earlier this year, the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center completed an extensive restoration and repair project that included masonry repairs, testing of the monument’s lightning suppression system, and a thorough cleaning. Funds for the $75,000 project were donated by the State of Mississippi and championed by the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign. 

A brief ceremony will take place at the Mississippi State Monument, along Confederate Avenue within Vicksburg National Military Park, and feature several speakers who were involved in the project. More details will be announced closer to the event. 

The Mississippi State Monument was dedicated on November 12, 1909 and honors the sacrifice of Mississippi’s 32 infantry units, 17 artillery units, and 37 cavalry units which served in the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign of the Civil War. The monument was designed by R.H. Hunt of Chattanooga, TN and constructed at a of cost $32,000. 

The event is free and open to the public. 

(Article courtesy of The Jeff Davis Legion, Official Publication of the Mississippi Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, October 2019 ed.)

 

The Plight of American History

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I have been posting a lot recently about the destruction of our national monuments. This disturbs me greatly, because I see it as a way to eradicate and change our history. The monuments pay homage to ancestors who fought in ancient wars, but nevertheless, they were war veterans, and the monuments should be treated with respect. If someone desecrated a war memorial to Korean War vets, I would be deeply upset, because my dad fought in that war with the Marines.

NBF

Same goes for Civil War vets. They were recognized as American vets long ago, and yet, today, because of the changing tide of political correctness, their monuments have been inappropriately deemed as racist. This is completely wrong and inaccurate, and still, the monuments keep coming down. Recently, the Tennessee Supreme Court found that the Sons of Confederate Veterans could not appeal the decision for Memphis to take down three Confederate monuments. I find this shameful, especially since one of the monuments marked the graves of Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife. General Forrest was a trendsetter in establishing interracial relations in Memphis, but this has all been washed over. I only wish correct history was taught in our schools.

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I also find it disturbing that the Confederate battle flag is forever linked with the KKK, and thus, is also deemed as racist. This is also completely inaccurate. If anything, the Stars and Stripes should be associated with racism. It was that flag that flew over slave ships, and the KKK also used it repeatedly. The Confederate battle flag, also known as the Southern Cross, is based on the Scottish St. Andrews Cross. Therefore, it has deep Christian roots, and has nothing to do with racism.

Indian

Not to offend anyone, but I will continue to express my disdain and vigilance supporting the Confederate monuments and flags. People today don’t understand that the Confederacy didn’t consist of Southern slave holders. There were Rebels in the north and west, Southern sympathizers in the north, Slave holders in the north and west, and black slave holders as well. That is why I love writing about this time period. It was topsy-turvy, all convoluted, and a mixed bag of  new immigrants coming in, as well as Native American people being eradicated. Genocide was okay back then,  and political incorrectness was, too. I wish people, especially those with political clout, would keep that in mind when they decide to destroy our history. How can we remember our mistakes if all the remembrances are destroyed?

The Number is Alarming

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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.)

Historical Victory!

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Earlier today, I received an email from the American Battlefield Trust with wonderful news. Because of donations, 143 acres at the Plank Farm on the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania battlefield has been preserved.

According to the American Battlefield Trust,

“On all three days of the Battle of Gettysburg, and for many weeks after Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia made its retreat, this farm (owned by J. Edward Plank at the time of battle) served as one of the largest hospitals in all of Gettysburg. Soldiers on each side traversed these 143 acres, and more than 1,500 soldiers were treated on this land, including Confederate General John Bell Hood. There were more than 60 documented burials on the property. The soldiers buried there were later reinterred in proper cemeteries.

Unknown

“Now … this sacred land and the stories that it holds will be preserved, forever! This transaction was truly a team effort, with the Trust and other partners raising funds to enable the Land Conservancy of Adams County to protect the farm with a conservation easement. Because (investors) have secured this land now, (they) are proactively protecting this part of the battlefield from commercial or residential development while further securing the integrity of nearby hallowed ground, like the 18 acres Trust members … preserved at Seminary Ridge earlier this year and the preserved and restored Lee’s Headquarters site we saved in 2014.”

I think this is an awesome accomplishment! If you would like to support the American Battlefield Trust, here is a link to their website:

https://www.battlefields.org/?emci=56cf5d34-7dd9-e911-b5e9-2818784d6d68&emdi=ace04701-a1df-e911-b5e9-281878540838&ceid=315208

And It’s Offensive Because Why?

I’m having difficulty grasping what is happening in this country, specifically in the South. I just read how some group was protesting the annual UCD convention and requesting that the venue deny their gathering. Unbelievable! Thankfully, the venue ignored their request. But what’s to happen next year? I shudder to think. Here is more bizarre news about the destruction of our history because it is supposedly, suddenly, inexplicably “offensive.”

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TWO RALLYS – NO BLOODSHED
Supporters and opponents of Confederate monuments gathered in downtown Pittsboro, North Carolina on Saturday afternoon to hold opposing rallies.

Police closely monitored both rallies.
As we reported last month, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to move the Confederate monument in front of the courthouse, which has been in place since 1907. This gives until October 1st for the local chapter of the UDC to come up with a plan for the statue.
The reality is the United Daughters of the Confederacy gifted the statue — which would make it public property and as a public monument the 2015 law which limits removal and alteration of monuments on public grounds would apply. That is why the city, over a hundred years later has “repudiated” the gift. If the courts allow this repudiation, which we suspect they will, it will set a dangerous precedent erasing the monument protection laws in most states.
ALSO IN NORTH CAROLINA
Silent_Sam
A student is climing to have found the remains of the Silent Sam monument. While the Charlotte Observer has reported the discovery they have not confirmed it. So far, The University of North Carolina will not comment on the matter.
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(Articles courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Sept. 20, 2019 ed.)

Antietam (Sharpsburg) Remembered

Today marks the 157th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. It was a game changer in many ways. Mostly, it gave President Lincoln a vehicle to bring his Emancipation Proclamation to life and give it authenticity. Prior to the battle, slavery wasn’t the prominent reason for the onset of the Civil War. But by September 1862, Lincoln realized he needed a more poignant excuse to fight the South and thus recruit more Union soldiers. However, at that time, neither North or South had any interest in fighting to preserve or end slavery. It was about economics, westward expansion, and the invasion of the South by Union troops. Slavery at that time was an underlying issue. Even Lincoln didn’t care about setting slaves free. That’s why the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t apply to Northern slave-holding states.

The Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam) was, and still is, the bloodiest day of fighting in American history. Terrible casualties occurred, and Antietam Creek ran red with blood, literally, from all the dead soldiers bleeding along its banks into the water.

Antietam Battle Page Hero_0

Dead Confederate soldiers at Dunker Church (Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress)

At that time, most Americans didn’t have any comprehension about the carnage of war, especially if they were far removed from the battlefields. Enter Mathew Brady, as well as his field photographer, Alexander Gardner. These two men changed the way people would forever see war – not as the heroic and glamorous way previous wars were depicted in paintings, but as gruesome, in-your-face, black and white reality.

Two days after the battle ended, Garner ascended on the battlefield with his crew. It’s obvious that some of the photos were staged, but they would still prove to be shocking to naive Victorians, nevertheless. The photographs were displayed in New York at Brady’s studio, and the exhibit was titled “The Dead of Antietam.”

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Burying the dead on the battlefield of Antietam (Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress)

These shocking photos were described by the New York Times, which stated that Brady was able to “bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along streets, he has done something very like it…”

The American Battlefield Trust has preserved the epicenter of the battlefield, as well as 461 additional acres and over 2,000 acres of the Maryland Campaign, “ensuring that generations of today and tomorrow never forget the sacrifices made on this hallowed ground.”

If you would like to donate to this noble cause, please visit their website:

https://www.battlefields.org/?emci=43a144bd-2dd6-e911-bcd0-2818784d4349&emdi=61842fa2-57d9-e911-b5e9-2818784d6d68&ceid=315208

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!

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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.

 

Another Example of Stupidity

It seems some are still hell bent on twisting historical accuracy, and making everything Southern, especially in regard to the Civil War, racist. This is beyond ridiculous. Now the inaccurate perception of the Confederacy has spread to California. It is unbelievably sad to me that people can’t respect our ancestors and honor their graves. We have no concept of what life was like when they were alive, so it’s wrong to classify their beliefs by today’s standards.

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CONFEDERATE MONUMENT DEFACED LAST MONTH HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM SANTA ANA CEMETERY

Alicia Robinson, August 1, 2019

A monument to Confederate soldiers who settled in and helped establish Orange County after the Civil War no longer stands at the Santa Ana Cemetery.

Erected in 2004 by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the 9-foot-tall granite structure – which had been vandalized with red paint and the word “racists” last month – was removed early Thursday, Aug. 1, Orange County Cemetery.

District General Manager Tim Deutsch said in a news release. The district operates three public cemeteries, including Santa Ana.

Hundreds of Civil War veterans are buried in Orange County, most of whom fought for the Union. A monument dedicated to “the unknown dead of the Civil War ”was previously installed at the Santa Ana Cemetery by the Daughters of Union Veterans.

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The Confederate monument removed Thursday may be the last one in Orange County and among only a few that were left in California. A February survey by the Southern Poverty Law Center listed a monument in Bakersfield and a highway marker in Siskiyou County, both honoring Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis, as the state’s two remaining memorials.

Public attention settled on the Santa Ana monument in 2017, after a confrontation between groups of white supremacists and protesters ended in a woman’s death in Charlottesville, Va. Cemetery district officials realized they couldn’t find records to prove who owned the burial plots where the monument stands or that it was approved by the district’s board, according to letters from Deutsch and an attorney for the district.

The district contacted the Orange County chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to discuss altering the monument per an agreement the two parties had apparently reached. But Deutsch said last month the Confederate group had not followed through

and had stopped responding to his inquiries, so the district’s board ordered the monument removed.

Robert Williams, who leads the Orange County chapter and statewide division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, disputes the district’s account of the monument saga.

Reached Thursday, Williams said district officials are motivated by “the most absurd kind of political correctness” and that there are plenty of records and people who were involved in putting up the monument. Cemetery district leaders at the time chose the monument’s location, he said.

“Nobody put it there in the middle of the night – there was a huge public ceremony,” Williams said.

The purpose of the monument was not political or for “extolling war, Confederate victories or Confederate generals,” he added. He said the monument recognizes founding fathers prominent in establishing Orange County who had come to the area after fighting for the South.

The monument names 10 men and also commemorates “C.S.A,” the Confederate States of America. Two panels are etched with the names of Davis and Gen. Robert E. Lee.

In the news release, Deutsch said the district wanted the monument out quickly because there’s a shortage of burial plots, and it became “an unsightly public nuisance” after the vandalism. It’s costing an estimated $15,000 to remove and store the granite pillar (a 100-foot crane was required because it weights several tons), so Williams’ group would have to reimburse the district to get the monument back, the release said.

Williams said he believes the district’s actions, seizing and removing private property, were illegal.

“We went out of our way to placate what sensitivities some may have about the Civil War,” he said. “The county’s going to have to answer, because they don’t own that.”

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https://www.ocregister.com/2019/08/01/confederate- monument-defaced-last-month-has-been-removed- from-santa-ana-cemetery/

How disgusting. Santa Ana spits on it’s own History. Last Friday was the 130th Anniversary of the founding of Orange County, and the Santa Ana Cemetery removed the Founders Monument in the middle of the night. Why you ask? Because the men were ex-Confederate Soldiers who traded swords for plows, and came out west looking for a better life than Reconstruction Era in Dixie offered. These men were all duly elected officials for the County of Los Angeles who formed OC by seceding the southern sections they represented from LA. These men worked with their Union Veteran counterparts to create what is now Orange County.

If you’d like to contact the Orange County Cemetery District and express your displeasure, they can be reached at 949-951-9102. Be respectful and no foul language!!!

Honor your Ancestors’ good memory.

Deo Vindice.

#SCV #DixieWest #SantaAnaCemetery #OrangeCounty

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452, Sons of Confederate Veterans Newsletter, Volume 43, Issue No. 8, August 2019 ed.)

 

Traveller: The Most Famous Confederate Equine

Probably the most famous horse of the Civil War, at least on the Southern side, was General Robert E. Lee’s favorite mount, Traveller. The following excerpt is from my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray: Famous Confederate Warhorses. It describes Traveller’s history up until General Lee acquired him.

Horses in Gray Cover

Behold that horse! A dappled gray!

I saw him in the month of May,

When wild flowers bloomed about his feet,

And sunshine was his mantle meet.1

Of all the horses to serve in the War Between the States, the most famous is Traveller. The magnificent steed and his owner, General Robert E. Lee, have become synonymous in history. Although Traveller was not the only horse Lee owned, he was certainly the general’s favorite. The two were constant companions.2

Born of humble beginnings, Traveller was conceived in Mason County, Kentucky in 1856. His lineage stretched back to the great foundation sires that had made English horseflesh notable: the Godolphin Barb, the Darley Arabian, and the Byerly Turk.3 Traveller’s direct line traced back from English-bred Diomed, to Sir Archy, and to the great racehorse Grey Eagle, who was Traveller’s sire. 

A full-blooded thoroughbred, Gray Eagle stood sixteen hands high, was gray in color, and had a high-stepping gait. He was a champion racehorse, setting a record for two-mile heats in 1838. In 1839, he ran in a $20,000 stakes race at Oakland Race Course in Louisville. That race, a direct predecessor to the Kentucky Derby, drew 10,000 spectators and at least as many wagers. Grey Eagle, who was defeated by Wagner, broke his coffin joint during the race, which was irreparable. 

The race was described by William T. Porter in the Turf Register:

By the most extraordinary exertions, Wagner got up neck and neck with “the gallant grey” as they swung round the turn into the quarter stretch. The feelings of the assembled thousands were wrought up by a pitch absolutely painful – silence, the most profound, reigned over that vast assembly, as these noble animals sped on as if life and death called forth their utmost energies.

Both jockeys had their whip hands at work, and at every stroke, each spur, with a desperate stab, was buried to the rowel-head. Grey Eagle, for the first hundred yards, was clearly gaining; but in another instant Wagner was even with him. Both were out and doing their best. It was anybody’s race yet! Now Wagner, now Grey Eagle, has the advantage. It will be a dead heat? “See! Grey Eagle’s got him!” “No, Wagner’s ahead!” A moment ensues – the people shout – hearts throb – ladies faint – a thrill of emotion, and the race is over! Wagner wins by a neck, in 7.44, the best race ever ran south of the Potomac 4

Grey Eagle was put to stud and sired many racehorses, as well as saddle horses. He was bred with native stock horses that were thought to have been natural-gaited mares descended from the Narragansett Pacer. 

Besides Grey Eagle, Lexington, (who was the leading sire from 1861 to 1874) and the aforementioned Wagner contributed to the Saddlebred breed. Grey Eagle’s blood was also a factor in trotting pedigrees.5

In 1856, Andrew Johnston, the former sheriff of Greenbrier County, Virginia, purchased a half-bred grade mare named Flora, who was already in foal by Grey Eagle. The stallion was standing at stud on the farm of J.B. Pyntz near Maysville, in what is now West Virginia. Grey Eagle made two breeding seasons at the Pyntz farm before being sold and sent to Morrow County, Ohio. He died on July 4, 1863, at the age of 28. 

Johnston shipped Flora to his farm near Blue Sulphur Springs via steamboat. She gave birth in the spring of 1857. Her foal was named Jeff Davis. He was named after Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis, who had fought in the Mexican War and served under President Franklin Pierce as Secretary of War. Unbeknownst to Johnston, the foal’s name was a prediction of what the future held.

Andrew Johnston’s son, Jim, as well as a local slave boy, Frank Winfield Page, handled and trained the young colt. When Jeff Davis turned two, he was shown at the 1859 Greenbrier County Fair in Lewisburg and won first place. The following year, he won another blue ribbon.

Jeff Davis was a silvery-gray gelding with black points and a flowing mane and tail. He stood sixteen hands high and weighed 1,100 pounds. Robert E. Lee later described the horse as having “fine proportions, muscular figure, deep chest and short back, strong haunches, flat legs, small head, broad forehead, delicate ears, quick eye, small feet, and black mane and tail.”6 The colt possessed such Saddlebred qualities as a good trot and extra gaits.

When the war broke out, Jim enlisted in Wise’s Legion, the 3rd Virginia, commanded by Virginia’s former governor, Henry Wise. Wise’s Legion, along with a brigade under John B. Floyd, former Secretary of War under President James Buchanan, was ordered to expel Federal troops from western Virginia. That fall, Major Thomas Broun, who was also enlisted with Wise’s Legion, authorized his brother, Captain Joseph Broun, the regiment’s quartermaster, to scour the countryside in search of horses to be used by the military. He came upon Jeff Davis. Thomas later renamed the colt Greenbrier. He wrote:

I authorized my brother to purchase a good serviceable horse of the best Greenbrier stock for our use during the war. After much inquiry and search, he came across the horse above mentioned, and I purchased him for $175 (gold value) in the fall of 1861 from Captain James W. Johnston, son of Mr. Johnston. When Wise’s Legion was encamped about Meadow Bluff and Big Sewell mountains, I rode this horse, which was then greatly admired in camp for his rapid, springy walk, his high spirit, bold carriage, and muscular strength… he needed neither whip nor spur and would walk his five or six miles an hour over the rough mountain roads of Western Virginia with his rider sitting firmly in the saddle and holding him in check by a tight rein, such vim and eagerness did he manifest to go right ahead so soon as he was mounted.

When General Lee took command of Wise’s Legion and Floyd’s brigade that were encamped at and near Big Sewell mountains in the fall of 1861, he first saw this horse and took a great fancy to it. He called it his colt, and said that he would use it before the war was over. Whenever the general saw my brother on this horse, he had something pleasant to say to him about my colt as he designated this horse.7 

In 1926, The Charlottesville Daily Progress recorded Mrs. Louisa Cary Feamster’s eyewitness account of Lee‘s first encounter with Jeff Davis. She said that General Lee and his staff stopped at the Johnston farm to rest on their way to Sewell Mountain. The weather was warm, there had been a light afternoon rain, and soon the general dozed off. After he awakened and was conversing with the Johnston’s, including Captain James “Dick” Johnston, who was home visiting, General Lee saw the gray gelding grazing in a clover field near the house. He immediately offered to buy “the Kentucky thoroughbred,”8 as Mrs. Feamster called him. Captain Johnston, who was in the infantry and not in need of a mount, told the General that he had tentatively sold the horse to Joseph Broun.9 

Generals Wise and Floyd refused to cooperate during the campaign, and the military effort to keep the western counties of Virginia in the Confederacy failed. Lee was sent to Charleston, South Carolina, and given command of the coastal defenses. The third regiment of Wise’s Legion, now the 60th Virginia, was also transferred to South Carolina. Thomas Broun had become ill, so Greenbrier went to South Carolina with his brother, Joseph. When the 60th Virginia arrived at Pocotalipo, Lee saw Greenbrier again. Captain Broun offered to give the horse to him.

Lee declined, saying, “If you will willingly sell me the horse, I will gladly use it for a week or so to learn its qualities.”10 

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