J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Mexican War”

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 

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Gray-Famous-Confederate-Warhorses/dp/145562327X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=horses+in+gray&qid=1564463368&s=gateway&sr=8-1

The Death of Jefferson Davis, December 6 1889

 

The Christmas Season of 1889, was a time of sadness in Dixie. Hundreds of thousands of people came to remember and pay their last respects to Jefferson Davis in the crescent city of New Orleans.

On December 6, 1889, Jefferson Davis died at the home of a friend. Do our young people who Davis was?

Jefferson Davis graduated from West Point Military Academy, served valiantly in the War with Mexico, was Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce, elected US Senator from Mississippi and was the first and only President of the Confederate States of America. Davis also wrote the book, “Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government” at his last home in Mississippi.

Jefferson Davis, and wife Varina, found great contentment and peace at “Beauvoir” their beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast Home. This is where he wished to die when his time came but it was not to be.

In November 1889, Varina attended to their home as Davis left for Brierfield Plantation to take care of family business. As he traveled through New Orleans Davis was exposed to a cold-rain that caused him a severe cold and bronchitis that was further complicated by Malaria.

Milo Copper, a former servant of the Davis family, upon hearing of Davis’ illness, made the long trip from Florida to New Orleans to be near Davis’ side. As Cooper entered Davis’ sick room, he burst into tears and fell on his knees and prayed that God would spare the life of Jefferson Davis and bless the family.

Jefferson Davis died between 12:30AM and 1:00AM on December 6, 1889. The news of his death hit the front page of many Southern newspapers. The

praises and tributes read similar to that of a New Orleans paper that read,

“Throughout the South are Lamentations and tears; in every country on the globe where there are lovers of liberty there is mourning; wherever there are men who love heroic patriotism, dauntless resolution, fortitude or intellectual power, there is an sincere sorrowing. The beloved of our land, the unfaltering upholder of constitutional liberty, the typical hero and sage, is no more; the fearless heart that beats with sympathy for all mankind is stilled forever, a great light is gone—- Jefferson Davis is dead!”

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The body of Jefferson Davis laid in state at the city hall of New Orleans, Louisiana from midnight, December 6, 1889, to December 11th. The United States and Confederate flags hung from above and in the city hall that was covered with many flowers.

The church bells toiled as over 80,000 people lined the streets of New Orleans to pay their respects to a Southern legend. All schools and businesses were closed that day.

Those men who comprised the honor Guard for the procession to Metairie Cemetery included: the Army of Northern Virginia Association, the Army of Tennessee and the Washington Artillery. Metairie Cemetery would be a temporary burial place for Davis as he was moved in 1893, by funeral train to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

The sad part of this story is that the United States War Department did not recognize Davis and the US flag was not flown at half-mast. The US flag was flown at half-mast in the South. Jefferson Davis was the only former Secretary of War that was not given the respect and honor by the United States Government.

Article written by Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.

Source of information: The 1990, first quarter edition of the Southern Partisan Magazine. The magazine article, by freelance writer Mrs. Peggy Robbins, was entitled, “Jefferson Davis’ Death.”

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, Volume 42, Issue No . 12, Dec. 2018 ed.)

The Southwest Isn’t Immune

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It seems the rampage against everything associated with the Confederacy has spread from the East and South into the Southwest. Texas has taken an exerted effort to eradicate its monuments and change school names. And now, New Mexico has jumped onboard with changing our American history. It’s a shame they don’t understand who Jefferson Davis was. Besides being the first and only president of the Confederacy, he was a U.S. Senator and a war hero in the Mexican War. He was reluctant to become president, and expressed this sentiment on several occasions. But because he was from the South, he felt compelled to do what he viewed as his patriotic duty. Jefferson Davis even started the Smithsonian Institution. It’s a shame that his name has suddenly become taboo.

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SEVERAL MEMORIALS REMOVED

Did you know that the section of I-10 from Lordsburg to Las Cruces in New Mexico was the Jefferson Davis Highway? At least it was. The decades-old markers, which had been erected in the State’s rest areas,  were removed by the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

When asked why the markers had been removed without any indication or action of the Governor or Legislature, Emilee Cantrell, a Transportation Department spokeswoman, said: “The markers…were brought to Secretary [Tom] Church’s attention, he had them removed.”

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Cantrell did not say when or how the Secretary became aware of the markers, only that each was removed.  She would not say what the Department has done with the markers, either.

Local officials, like Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima, seemed unaware the monuments ever existed.

Now, they are simply gone.

(Courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, June 15, 2018 ed.)

The Great General Lee

 

CivalWar_RobertELeeFull

One of my favorite people who lived during the Civil War is Confederate General Robert E. Lee. If Lee were alive, he would be celebrating his 209th birthday today. He came from a distinguished Virginia family, and his father, Harry “Lighthorse” Lee, fought in the Revolutionary War. Lee graduated at the head of his class at West Point, and served gallantly in the Mexican War. His integrity was unsurpassed, because he resigned his commission with the U.S. military to defend his home state of Virginia once the Civil War broke out. With reluctance, he did his duty, and performed it well up until the end of the war.

General Lee was deeply religious. He was a gentleman and a nobleman. He freed his slaves before the war started, unlike Union General Ulysses S. Grant, who freed his slaves after the war ended. Lee served as president of Washington and Lee University, but the war took its toll, like it did on so many soldiers. He only survived five years after the war ended.

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Lee was revered  by his countrymen, both North and South alike, as one of the finest generals America has ever produced. Dwight D. Eisenhower, America’s 34th president, said of him:

“General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause….he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle.

Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his belief in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.

From deep conviction I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s caliber would be unconquerable in spirit and soul.”

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When Franklin D. Roosevelt, America’s 32nd president, spoke at the unveiling of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Statue in Dallas, Texas, on June 12, 1936, he said: “I am happy to take part in this unveiling of the statue of Lee. All over the United States we recognize him as a great general. But also, all over the United States, I believe we recognize him as something much more than that. We recognize Robert E. Lee as one of our greatest American Christians and one of our Greatest American gentlemen.”

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General Lee has always been highly regarded… that is, until recently. Now, certain interest groups have been striving to disparage his name. It is shameful that they want to remove the Confederate battle flag that he fought under from his gravesite, or do away with his statues. It is also shameful that they are defacing monuments with graffiti. Just because political attitudes have changed, which they are always bound to do, is no excuse for erasing the past and defaming such an important historical figure.

“Everyone should do all in his power to collect and disseminate the truth, in the hope that it may find a place in history and descend to posterity. History is not the relation of campaigns and battles and generals or other individuals, but that which shows the principles for which the South contended and which justified her struggle for those principles.”                                                                   – General Robert E. Lee

General Lee appears in my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Beckoning-Hellfire-Novel-Civil-War/dp/0595435319/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453239012&sr=8-1&keywords=a+beckoning+hellfire

 

In Honor of Two Famous Generals

This week marks the birthdays of two famous Confederate generals: Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Lee’s birthday was yesterday, January 19, and Jackson’s birthday is tomorrow, January 21.

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Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807. He was a son of the famous Revolutionary War hero, “Light Horse Harry” Lee. Robert E. Lee’s upbringing was atypical of Virginia gentry. Although his first home was at Stratford Hall (a beautiful plantation in Virginia that is now a tourist attraction), Lee’s family moved to Alexandria when he was four because his father was thrown into debtor’s prison. Robert E. Lee was accepted into West Point Military Academy in 1825, where he excelled and graduated at the top of his class with no demerits. He served as a military engineer, and married Mary Custis, the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, at Arlington House.

After fighting in the Mexican War, Lee continued with the United States military until Virginia seceded in April, 1861. He then decided to stay true to his state, so he resigned his commission. He served under Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who eventually gave Lee total control of the Confederate Army. During the first two years of the war, Lee and Jackson fought side-by-side in several battles.

Following his surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, Lee served as the President of Washington and Lee University in Lexington. His tenure was short-lived, however. He died on October 12, 1870, and is buried on campus. Lee was a true patriot, hero, and gentleman. He was deeply religious, and was greatly admired and respected by his men, as well as his students and the citizens of Lexington.

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Thomas J. Jackson, born on January 21, 1824, was also a deeply religious man. He was sometimes ridiculed for his peculiar, eccentric behavior. Jackson was extremely shy, but after a harsh upbringing, he learned to read, and managed to graduate from West Point in 1846. He fought in the Mexican War, where he met Robert E. Lee. In 1851, Jackson became a professor at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Virginia, where his teaching methods received criticism. His first wife died in childbirth, but he remarried a few years later.

When the Civil War broke out, Jackson was assigned to Harpers Ferry, where he commanded the “Stonewall Brigade.” His strategic military genius helped win battles at First and Second Manassas, the Peninsula and Valley Campaigns, and the Battle of Fredericksburg. During the Battle of Chancellorsville in May, 1863, Jackson was mistaken for the enemy by his own men and wounded. His arm was amputated, and it was thought he would recover. But after eight days, he succumbed to pneumonia. He died on May 10, 1863, and is buried in Lexington Cemetery (his left arm is buried at Ellwood Manor).

Lee and Jackson were two of the most prolific generals of the Civil War. Their religious conviction and military genius will always be admired and revered. Both men, along with Jefferson Davis, are featured in the carving on Stone Mountain, Georgia.

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Lee and Jackson – Denied?

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It seems the assault on Confederate history is never ending. Last month, the U.S. Army War College took under consideration whether or not it would purge its history of all Confederate generals. Apparently, the college received complaints from certain faculty members about two full-length portraits of Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson that are currently on display. The staff members argued that the two Confederate generals were “enemies” of the U.S., and therefore, should not hold a place of honor in its hallowed halls.

I’m not sure if this issue has been resolved, but it is just another example of political correctness trying to eradicate our history. The school claims that this isn’t a racial issue, but I have to wonder. It doesn’t seem to matter that both generals graduated from West Point, fought in the Mexican War, held high-ranking positions with the U.S. military, and received military honors. After over 200 years, the case of trying to dispense with these portraits has suddenly become an issue.

If the school decides to “do away” with these portraits, what’s next? I’m sure they’ll find fault in Washington and get rid of his painting somehow. When it comes down to politics, nobody wins.

For more info, please read:

http://lastresistance.com/4073/army-war-college-considers-purging-history-confederate-generals/

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