J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “John Bell Hood”

Destroying History

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On this date in 1864, Confederate General John Bell Hood launched an attack on the Federals outside Atlanta, Georgia. The Yankees were well-entrenched, and Hood’s troops, who ran headlong into their opponents, were predictably slaughtered. The outcome of the Battle of Ezra Church was 3,000 Confederates lost versus 700 Union soldiers. Hood’s assault, like those that had previously taken place at Peach Tree Creek and Atlanta, was a dismal failure. And like those two battles, the Battle of Ezra Church is only remembered by a few markers.

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This is yet another example of what can happen to hallowed ground if it is not protected. Battlefields around Atlanta have been swallowed up by commercial and residential development. Some markers designating the area of the Battle of Ezra Church have been vandalized.

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Right now, an assault is being waged against other monuments as well. After the city of New Orleans announced they were postponing a decision about removing five Confederate monuments, vandals expressed their anger by seeking revenge and spray painting graffiti on the monument of General Robert E. Lee. And the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, located in what was previously known as Forrest Park in downtown Memphis (near Sun Studios, where Elvis recorded his first hit record), was also spray painted.

Forrest Monument Vandalized

These places and monuments should be upheld with honor to those who served and died for a cause they believed in. Unfortunately, the true story of the Civil War is hardly taught in schools today, so those too ignorant to seek the truth believe the South fought to preserve slavery. This is completely wrong. Instead of destroying our nation’s history or trying to erase it by changing names, we should be enlightening people with the truth about why the war was fought and why the repercussions following the Civil War happened the way they did. If we don’t, we are only hurting ourselves.

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The Impact of Progress

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I find it very disheartening when I learn about another Civil War battlefield that has been lost to history due to urban sprawl. The first time I saw this was when I visited the Battle of the Wilderness area in Virginia. Housing developments had been built on the battlefield, not far from where trenches were dug and are still visible today. To me these areas are sacred and should be cherished.

On July 20, 1864, Confederate General John Bell Hood attacked a portion of Union General William T. Sherman’s army outside of Atlanta, Georgia, on the banks of Peach Tree Creek. Sadly, all that remains now is a sign marking the spot. The battle was one of the bloodiest during the Atlanta Campaign, with 4,250 soldiers being killed, wounded, or captured. And yet, nothing is left to remind us of the terrible struggle that took place there. It’s easy to forget about the sacrifices these men made when there is no reminder other than a few markers.

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On July 22, 1864, Union General James B. McPherson learned that his old West Point roommate, General John Bell Hood, was ready to strike. Skirmishers shot and killed McPherson. General Sherman wept when he saw McPherson’s body. The Federals rallied, crying, “Remember McPherson!” They staved off each Confederate assault until the Battle of Atlanta was finally over. It was the bloodiest battle of the Atlanta campaign. Again, there is no reminder of the terrible battle, since the field is now covered with gas stations, highways, and developments. The battlefield, like the one at Peach Tree Creek, is completely destroyed. The only reminder of McPherson’s death, an upturned cannon in a residential neighborhood, is basically forgotten. I think it is tragic that these men, who gave their lives for future generations, don’t receive a better legacy than this.

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Another example is Fleetwood Hill near Brandy Station, Virginia. The Battle of Brandy Station was the largest cavalry battle to ever take place on American soil. Years after the battle, however, homes were built on the sacred field. Fortunately, the Civil War Trust managed to buy back Fleetwood Hill, and is now in the process of restoring it to its original condition prior to the battle. (You can read more about this battle in my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire.)

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I consider all Civil War battlefields to be hallowed ground, and I only hope that what remains will be preserved. It seems every other aspect of the Confederacy is under attack, and it would be a shame and an insult to our children if we did not preserve these places.

The Civil War Trust is now in the process of saving over five hundred acres at four different Western Theatre battlefields: Shiloh, Stones River, Rocky Face Ridge, and Bentonville. For more information, check out http://www.civilwar.org/?referrer=https://www.google.com/.

https://www.amazon.com/Beckoning-Hellfire-Novel-Civil-War/dp/0595435319/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1469570084&sr=8-1&keywords=a+beckoning+hellfire

We Need More Mystery Donations

Recently, a large sum of money was donated to the Franklin battle site in Franklin, Tennessee. The site includes 112 acres of protected land that was established in 2005. More land is being purchased for $1.85 million. The key property is located on Highway 31, and will protect it from being used for housing developments. 

The anonymous donor generously pledged to give $250,000, and the Civil War Trust will match the amount if local preservationists can raise $500,000 by May 1. The preservationists don’t know the identity of the donor, but do know that she is a woman. They are excited for the opportunity to hold a fundraising campaign to save the battlefield.

The Battle of Franklin took place on November 30, 1864, and was a Confederate loss. General John Bell Hood confronted Union General John M. Schofield. Two weeks later, Hood’s army was demolished at the Battle of Nashville.

For more information, or to make a donation, please visit www.franklinscharge.com

Mary Boykin Chesnut

Of all the written works created during the Civil War, Mary Chesnut’s diary is one of the most well known. Because of her ability to frankly describe the events that transpired,her diary is considered by historians to be the most important work by a Confederate author, and a true work of art.

Born to Congressman Stephen Decatur Miller and May Boykin on March 31, 1823 at Mount Pleasant plantation near Stateburg, South Carolina, Mary Miller was the eldest of four children. In 1829, her father became governor of South Carolina, and in 1831, he served as a U.S.senator. Mary was educated at home and in Camden schools before she was sent to a French boarding school in Charleston at age 12. She spent her school break at her father’s cotton plantations in Mississippi,but when he died in 1838, she returned to Camden.She met James Chesnut Jr., eight years her senior, in 1836, when he was at the boarding school visiting his niece, and although he began to court her, Mary’s parents opposed it. However, on April 23, 1840, when Mary was 17, the two were married.

For the next twenty years,Mary spent her time between Camden and Mulberry, her husband’s family plantation. James was elected to the U.S.Senate in 1858, so Mary accompanied him to Washington, where she nurtured friendships with many upper-class citizens, including Jefferson and Varina Howell Davis,John Bell Hood, and Wade Hampton III. When talk of war escalated in 1860, James was the first to resign his senate seat on November 10, The Chesnuts returned to South Carolina, where he participated in drafting an ordinance of secession, and served on the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America.From February 1861 through July 1865, Mary recorded her experiences. She was in Charleston when Ft. Sumter was fired upon on Friday, April 12, 1861, and watched the skirmish from a rooftop. In her diary, she described the city’s residents, along with what is now known as The Battery, sitting on balconies and drinking salutes to the advent of hostilities.

James subsequently served as an aide to General P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general. During the war, Mary accompanied him to Montgomery, Columbia, and Richmond, where she entertained the Confederate elite.

After the war, the Chesnut’s returned to Camden,struggling unsuccessfully to get out of debt. James had inherited two plantations when his father died in 1866: Mulberry and Sandy Field. They were heavily damaged by Federal troops, and slaves who had become freedmen still depended on him. James and Mary’s mother died within a week of each other in January 1885. According to his father’s will, the land was to be passed down to a male heir, and because he and Mary never had children, she lost her claim.

Mary’s writing revealed her strong opinions concerning slavery and women’s rights, as well as criticism for conservative decisions made by Southern leaders, her husband included. She expressed her repulsion for lapses in morality caused by the male-dominated society of the South, using her father-in-law’s liaison with a slave as an example.

In the 1870’s, she edited her diaries in an attempt to publish them, but failed. She tried her hand at fiction, writing three novels, but was also unsuccessful at having them published, so in the 1880’s, she revised her diaries into a book entitled Mary Chesnut’s Civil War. Only a small excerpt was published in the Charleston Weekly News and Courier as “The Arrest of a Spy.” Her final years were spent supplementing her $100-a-year income by selling eggs and butter. She died of a heart attack on November 22, 1886. Historians believe she wasn’t finished with her work. In 1905, and again in 1949, her diaries were published in truncated and heavily edited versions as A Diary from Dixie. In 1981, C. Vann Woodward published a version that included her complete work, and won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1982.

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