J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Revolutionary War”

A Horse Soldier and His Mount

One of the people I truly admire from the Civil War is Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Although the political climate today reflects negatively on him, Lee was, in reality, an amazing patriot, husband, father and leader. His soldiers loved him, and after the war, the entire country did, too. He was given a position as president of Washington and Lee University (then Washington College), which he humbly accepted. Lee only lived five more years, and passed away in 1870. He is interred in the Chapel on campus.

Lee was a dedicated military man, having graduated from West Point at the top of his class. His father was the famous Light Horse Harry Lee, who was a hero in the Revolutionary War. His wife, Mary Custis Lee, was a descendant of George Washington. Lee came from a long line of Virginia’s elite.

When the war broke out, Lee was faced with a very difficult decision. He chose his beloved state of Virginia over the Union, and reluctantly gave up his position with the U.S. military. He released his in-law’s slaves at the start of the war. Always the gentleman, Lee told his soldiers not to take or destroy anything when they entered Northern Territory, and that they should be required to pay with Confederate currency, since that’s all the men had, even though their money wasn’t worth anything.

In honor of General Lee’s upcoming birthday, I’d like to post a few articles about him, his life, and his service. This first article is about his beloved horse, Traveller. Lee had many horses during the course of the war, but Traveller was his favorite. You can read more about Traveller and Lee’s other horses in my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray.

Horses in Gray Cover

There are few relationships more appreciated than that of a horse soldier and his mount. During the American Civil War, over a million horses perished in service to their respective causes. Few of them are remembered and revered today as much as Robert E. Lee’s horse,Traveller. Buried at Lee Chapel, at the same site as his commander, this dappled grey American Saddle bred was known for his speed, strength and courage in combat. Lee acquired him in 1862, and rode him throughout the war and beyond.

In a letter penned during the war, Lee describedhis horse to Mrs. Lee’s cousin, Markie Williams,who wished to paint a portrait of Traveller. Hewrote: “If I was an artist like you, I would drawa true picture of Traveller; representing his fine proportions, muscular figure, deep chest, short back, strong haunches, flat legs, small head, broad forehead, delicate ears, quick eye, small feet, and black mane and tail. Such a picture would inspire a poet, whose genius could then depict his worth, and describe his endurance of toil, hunger, thirst, heat and cold; and the dangers and suffering through which he has passed. He could dilate upon his sagacity and affection, and his invariable response to every wish of his rider. He might even imagine his thoughts through the long night-marches and days of the battle through which he has passed.”

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(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, vol. 43, issue no. 1, January 2019)

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It’s Getting Out of Control

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The PC police are at it again. It seems nothing is immune to what some would dub as “racist.” To me, that just seems like a convenient word to use for erasing our history. This is alarming, because if our history is erased, we have nothing to fall back on or to remind us of our mistakes. I received the following article last week and wanted to share. Let me know your thoughts on the subject.
FEDS SAY REVOLUTIONARY WAR FLAGS RACIST
In the latest of seemingly unnecessary things that the government has its paws in, the Equal Employment Opportunity Office (EEOC) will decide if wearing the Gadsden flag creates a hostile work environment, punishable as racial harassment.
The Gadsden flag comes from the Revolutionary War era. It is a yellow flag with the words “Dont tread on me” emblazoned on it, and a rattlesnake coiled up the middle.
Most recently, it has become a banner of limited government advocates and the Tea Party.
As Fox News reports, “the EEOC said it received a complaint in January 2014 from an African-American federal employee about a coworker wearing a hat bearing the flag.”
The issue of harassment stems from the creator of the flag, Christopher Gadsden, who was a slave trader.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Office has already deemed the wearing of Confederate Flags workplace harassment, The Washington Post explains, adding, “unsurprisingly, this is extending to other political speech as well.”
The case notes that “it is clear that the Gadsden Flag originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context…[h]owever, whatever the historic origins and meaning of the symbol, it also has since been sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts.”
The Feds have admitted, regarding the Gadsden flag that,””it is clear that the Gadsden Flag originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context..” The same is equally true of the Confederate Flag. And the Feds know that too!
This is important because the Feds have just admitted that this has NEVER been about racism. It has been about erasing the history of our nation. Racism is just the vehicle of convenience that they are riding right now to get us there.
The other goal is to turn a Christian nation into a pluralistic non-Christian nation. The code-word for that is DIVERSITY.
So first it was Confederate symbols. Then it was the Founding Fathers. Now it is the symbols of the Revolution.
If you can not bring an American Revolutionary Flag to work, or have a Confederate Flag on the truck that you drive to work, what if an employee came to work with a Trump/Pence bumper sticker? Or has a “Stop Illegal Immigration” sign on his cubical wall? Will these things too be considered racial harassment?
Should the flag be ruled harassment, “all employers – private and public – where employees wear the flag could be held liable for workplace harassment if they receive complaints,” Fox News notes.
(Courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, August 5, 2016 ed.)

The Great General Lee

 

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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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Turner Ashby Day

On this date in 1862, Confederate Colonel Turner Ashby met his fate at the Battle of Good’s Farm. Ashby’s grandeur so captivated the South that he was compared to a knight, a pirate, and a crusader. He was a superb horseman and a daring soldier under the command of Stonewall Jackson. He customarily rode a beautiful white horse, regardless of the additional danger. He was third generation military. His grandfather, Jack, fought as a captain in the Revolutionary War, and his father served as a colonel in the War of 1812. As was the case with most Southern gentry at the time, Ashby was an accomplished horseman. His favorite pastime was fox hunting, and he competed frequently in jousting tournaments, almost always placing first.

When Virginia left the Union on April 17, 1861, Ashby persuaded Governor John Letcher to order the state’s militia to capture the federal arsenal at Harpers’ Ferry. Arriving too late, Ashby found most of the buildings and the 15,000 small arms located in the arsenal burned by Union troops. Ashby’s Rangers remained in the area, patrolling the fords of the Potomac River, and bridges spanning from both Harpers Ferry and Point of Rocks, Maryland. The Rangers disrupted the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and obstructed the passage of boats on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, otherwise known as the grand old ditch.

Ashby was an adventure seeker, and commonly went on scouting rides and inspections alone. His appearance was striking, setting him apart from other soldiers. Along with his tall stature of 5’-10”, Ashby had a thick black beard reaching down to his chest, a swirling long mustache to match, mahogany brown eyes, and a dark complexion. His demeanor was quiet, and his manners befitted the position he held within an old Virginia family.

Like many cavalrymen of his day, he was attracted to gaudy trappings, and could be seen donning gauntlets. He secured a brass spyglass on one side of his saddle and a fox hunting horn on the other. To enhance his appearance, he always rode either a coal black horse or a pure white horse named Tom Telegraph. They were the finest horses the vicinity had to offer, and bestowed upon Ashby the knightly prowess that inspired his men to give him the moniker, the Black Knight of the Confederacy.

When Ashby lost his brother in June 1861, he became even more daring. Of Ashby’s troopers, a Federal cavalry officer complained, “They leap fences and walls like deer; neither our men nor our horses are so trained.”

On several occasions, the phantom-like Colonel Ashby on his snowy white horse could be seen sitting atop a hill above the Federals, provoking them. The bluecoats rode furiously to catch him. Ashby patiently waited until they were close. He then casually cantered off and disappeared before they arrived, only to reappear on another distant hill crest.

On June 6, 1862, the 1st New Jersey Cavalry attacked Ashby in an attempt to capture him. After Ashby’s horse was shot out from under him, he charged toward his foe on foot, but was shot through the heart. Turner Ashby died instantly. He was thirty-three years old. Because of his remarkable reputation and service record, he was deeply mourned by the Southern people. His body was wrapped in a Confederate flag and taken to the Frank Kemper House in Port Republic for viewing. 

General Jackson, who was one of the mourners present, reacted to Ashby’s death by saying, “As a partisan officer, I never knew his superior; his daring was proverbial; his powers of endurance almost incredible; his tone of character heroic, and his sagacity almost intuitive in divining the purposes and movements of the enemy.”

Turner Ashby was buried with honors at the University of Virginia. He became a legend in his own time, and so impressed people that the thought of him brought back fond memories. To this day, many Shenandoah localities celebrate Confederate Memorial Day on June 6, the anniversary of Ashby’s death.

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