Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Samuel Garland: The Most Fearless Man I Ever Knew

Brigadier General Samuel Garland, Jr.

       Samuel Garland, Jr. was born on December 16, 1830 in Lynchburg, Virginia. He graduated second in his class at V.M.I. in 1849. Prior to the Civil War, he became a lawyer and captain of his local militia company. In 1856, he married Elizabeth Campbell Meem. He purchased a home for Eliza as she was called in Lynchburg.

Home of Samuel and Eliza Garland

       When the war began, Garland became colonel of the 11th Virginia Infantry. His regiment was assigned to Longstreet's Brigade near Manassas, Virginia. On June 12, 1861, Eliza would die of the flu and was buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia. Garland saw action at the engagement at Blackburn's Ford and was praised by General Longstreet for his coolness. The regiment would be held in reserve during the Battle of Manassas. On July 31, 1861, Garland's four year old son Sammie would also succumb to the flu. He was buried next to his mother in Lynchburg. Samuel Garland was devastated, but because of his religious beliefs he knew he would meet them again. He would be somewhat depressed for the rest of his life. 
       He led his regiment again in the skirmish at Dranesville and was praised for his coolness in action there. Joseph Johnston recommended he be promoted to brigadier general for his bravery under fire. 
       His regiment was assigned to D.H. Hill's Brigade at the Battle of Williamsburg and earned praise from Hill when he was wounded, but refused to leave the field. Because of this action, he was promoted to brigadier general on May 23, 1862 and given a brigade. He had two horses shot from beneath him in the Battle of Seven Pines. 
       During the Battle of Gaines' Mill, he successfully attacked a Federal flank and his brigade took many prisoners. He also led his brigade in the slaughter at the Battle of Malvern Hill. General Garland's reputation was outstanding by this point and he seemed destined for higher command. 

Samuel Garland in his militia uniform before the war

       General Garland's brigade was assigned to guard Richmond and Fredericksburg which ensured his missing the Battle of Second Manassas. His brigade was still a part of D.H. Hill's Division during the Maryland Campaign. His brigade contained a little over one thousand men during the Battle of Fox's Gap on South Mountain just two days before the Battle of Antietam. 
       As his brigade was being hard pressed there, Colonel Thomas Ruffin of the 13th North Carolina Infantry approached Garland and requested him move back to a safer position. Garland replied, "I may as well be here as yourself."
       Ruffin replied, "No it is my duty, but you should lead your brigade from a safer position."
       Ruffin was then struck in the hip by a Federal bullet. At the same instant a bullet struck Garland in middle of his back and exited through his right breast. One of his aides rushed forward to his side and caught Garland's last words which were, "I am killed. Send for the senior colonel."

Position marking the spot where Garland was killed at Fox's Gap

       General Lee praised Garland as an accomplished and brave officer. His immediate commander D.H. Hill said that Garland was "the most fearless man I ever knew." According to all who served with him, he would have been destined for higher rank had he lived. Samuel Garland was 31 years old. He rests today next to his wife and son in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia. 

Me and Ole Man at the grave of Samuel Garland in Lynchburg

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Henry Alexander Wise: It's the sound I want

Brigadier General Henry A. Wise

       One of the more interesting personalities in the Confederate Army was Henry Alexander Wise. He is often portrayed as a political general for that is just what he was, but he had some moments where he appeared to have some potential. I often tell a story about him that is quite comical and will include it at the end of the blog. 
       Henry Wise was born on December 3, 1806 in Drummondtown, Virginia. He graduated from Washington College (not to be confused with present day Washington and Lee College) in Pennsylvania. He became a lawyer and an outspoken supporter of states rights. An excellent public speaker, he soon became a congressman and then governor of Virginia. He was the governor during John Brown's raid and execution. Following the war, he would be taunted by Federal soldiers for allowing Brown to be executed. 

Henry A Wise CDV.jpg

A young Henry Wise

       He did a lot to pull Virginia from the United States and into the Confederacy. He immediately offered to help the Confederate Army despite not having any military experience. His popularity meant Davis had little choice but to make him an officer. Davis appointed him a brigadier general on June 5, 1861. His brigade was sent to the mountains of Western Virginia and placed under Brigadier General John B. Floyd. This would prove to be a mistake because he and Floyd were old political enemies and would never get along. 
       Wise had a temper when he felt he was dishonored. Even the arrival of General Robert E. Lee couldn't force Wise to get along with Floyd. He repeatedly asked Davis for a transfer and received the transfer in September to Richmond without his brigade. He would be assigned to a district command in North Carolina. Soon after arriving, Wise realized that the area was under threat by Federal General Ambrose Burnside. He began feuding with his commander Benjamin Huger. Begging for reinforcements, Wise went to Richmond to appeal directly to Davis for troops without permission to leave his command. He was sent back to North Carolina without troops and on February 8, 1862, Roanoke Island fell to Burnside as he had predicted. Wise was exonerated for the loss.

Another Wartime photograph of Henry Wise. Though he is in his mid-fifties here he appears much older.

       Robert E. Lee would give Wise command of a brigade upon his return to Richmond. His brigade would see little action and people nicknamed his command "the Life Insurance Company." This frustrated Wise and he thirsted for action. His brigade was sent to South Carolina in the fall of 1863, but saw little action there. His brigade would return to Petersburg, Virginia in the spring of 1864. He was part of a failed attack near Port Walthall and became unpopular for criticizing his superiors although he received a good deal of blame for the failure. 
       When Grant's army approached Petersburg in June of 1864, Wise had his best day of the war. His defense was stubborn and helped save the town. In an effort to secure praise in the Richmond newspapers for his brigade's performance, he offended Major General Bushrod Johnson and was soon relieved of command. He would regain command in January of 1865. He cut his way through the trap at Saylor's Creek and was praised for his performance there by Robert E. Lee. Ironically, he would be given command of Bushrod Johnson's division for his performance. 

Another uniformed wartime photograph of Wise

       Wise would surrender the division at Appomattox with the rest of Lee's Army. Following the war, he would practice law in Richmond. He never asked for a pardon. He died of tuberculosis on September 12, 1876 at the age of 69. He rests today in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia, the "Arlington of the Confederacy." The war was especially hard on General Wise. He had nineteen relatives serve in the war. Of these, ten were wounded and two were killed. Among the killed was his son. It was reported that he looked sick during the war, his body thin, eyes sunken, but these losses had brought him closer to God. It was reported that he had extreme faith in Jesus his savior, but he does curse sometimes. 

Jerry and I at the grave of Henry Wise

       Now for the comical story I promised you. Early in the war, Wise had no military experience whatsoever. His brigade was posted in a forest. He ordered up his artillery to fire on the enemy. When the commander of the artillery protested that his cannon's wouldn't have much effect because of the tree's, Wise replied, "Damn the effect, it's the sound I want!"

Henry Wise stands second from right in this photograph with seven other Confederate generals. Lee sits second from left. James Conner stands at far left. Next to Conner stands Martin Gary, next to him is John Magruder, to the right is Robert Lilley, next to him is Pierre Beauregard, between Beauregard and Wise is Alexander Lawton. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Right to be Offended by John Crisp

English Professor John Crisp

       Well, I've picked up a newspaper where another English professor is attempting to rewrite our history books yet again. Why should we have history professor's if the English professor's know more about history than everyone else. The name of Mr. Crisp's column is The Right to be Offended in the US and of course it was all about slavery. In Mr. Crisp's column you'll find out that the Sons of Confederate Veterans are in the wrong for teaching what the war was truly over. Let's look at a few things he mentions in his column and see how intelligent Mr. Crisp truly is on Civil War history.

The 1st National Flag of the Confederacy otherwise known as the "Stars and Bars"

The Confederate Battle Flag on the Texas S.C.V. tag

       In Mr. Crisp's column, he is offended by the "notorious Stars and Bars battle flag." These are his words, not mine. Now there never was a "Stars and Bars battle flag. The Confederate 1st National Flag that actually flew over a country was called the Stars and Bars. The Confederate battle flag flew over an army and never flew in any official manner over the government of the Confederate States. I guess actually knowing your history doesn't matter when you write a column as an English professor. 
       Now this idiot goes on to say that because he had an ancestor who owned slaves, it makes him the expert on whether blacks should be offended by the flag. But, he does say that his slave holding ancestors are too removed from him to give him feelings of guilt. Now, it sounds a lot like hypocrisy to me. 
       Now, I've been told that the reason the flag offends is because Ku Klux Klan used the flag in the 1940's. Fair enough, now look at the photograph below and tell me should this flag also offend since the Klan used it before the 1940's. 

This flag offends me because it was used by the Ku Klux Klan

       I'm currently reading Bevin Alexander's new book Such Troops As These. He gives a few reasons that caused the Civil War. Among them is the disagreement on slavery. Is that the only reason? Mr. Alexander explains that the dispute came down to money. This is a direct quote from Bevin Alexander's book:

       "Northern industrialists wanted to create a closed American economy in which only their products would be available. And these products would cost more than British products because American industry was newer and less efficient than British industry. The South was being asked to pay to strengthen Northern industry...and this conflict played an important role in the division of North and South."

      The most shocking thing of all is that Bevin Alexander is a historian, not an English professor. I've said it in blogs before about English professors. They should stick with teaching English, Grammar, etc. and let the historians teach history. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Samuel McGowan: The Fifth Avenue Ghost

Brigadier General Samuel McGowan

       Samuel McGowan was born on October 9, 1819 in Laurens District, South Carolina. He graduated from South Carolina College and read law before being admitted to the bar. He was known for his speaking skills. Soon he was elected to the state legislature. He served in the Mexican War as a captain and was commended for his actions at the Battle of Chapultepec. Following the war, he returned to his law practice and rose to the rank of major general in the South Carolina militia.
       His first action occurred as he commanded a brigade at the bombardment of Fort Sumter. He served on Brigadier General Milledge Luke Bonham’s staff at the Battle of First Manassas. Following the fighting there, he was assigned to the 14th South Carolina Infantry where he rose to the rank of colonel. This regiment became a part of Maxcy Gregg’s South Carolina brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia. They saw heavy fighting during the Seven Days battle’s and McGowan was slightly wounded at Gaines’ Mill, though he never left the field.
       He would be severely wounded at Second Manassas. This would mean he missed the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg). He would be back in command of his regiment at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Maxcy Gregg was mortally wounded during this battle and McGowan was promoted over two senior colonels to command the brigade. His commission to brigadier general would rank from January 17, 1863. He wasn’t a strict disciplinarian, but was a confident commander.
 His first action as a brigadier general occurred at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Attacking a line of breastworks, his brigade was repulsed, but not before McGowan was struck below the knee by a bullet. He would be out of action until February of 1864, meaning he would miss Gettysburg. When he returned, he was forced to use a cane.
McGowan’s South Carolina brigade was broken at the Battle of the Wilderness. He reformed his men in the rear and led them back to the fight. At Spotsylvania, his brigade helped save the Confederate Army when the “Mule Shoe” was over ran. He was struck in the right arm by a bullet during this attack and would not return to duty until the brigade was in the trenches of Petersburg. He would surrender with his men at Appomattox.
       Following the war, he would eventually return to the state legislature and then serve as a judge on the state supreme court. He died in 1897 at the age of 77 and rests today in Long Cane Cemetery, Abbeville, South Carolina. 

Samuel McGowan

Grave of General McGowan

       Perhaps his time on earth didn’t exist there. I’m not a big believer in ghosts, but my buddy Jerry Smith is a strong believer. (He claims he saw one in a clothes basket once. I think it was trying on his dirty underwear.) In 1953, a series of séances were conducted on Fifth Street in New York City. The people conducting the séance were given some pretty accurate details about General McGowan (supposedly by his ghost) and his life after the war when he lived sometime in New York. These people wrote a book called The Fifth Avenue Ghost about these events. The problem I had with the book is the fact that McGowan claimed he was choked to death by the boyfriend of his mistress. Everything I have ever found on the death of McGowan states that he died in South Carolina. Nevertheless, it was interesting and a good read.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Aggressive and Daring: James McQueen McIntosh

James McQueen McIntosh

       James McQueen McIntosh was born in what latter became Tampa, Florida sometime in 1828. He was born of a military family. His great uncle was Lachlan McIntosh, a Revolutionary War general. His father was James S. McIntosh, a U.S. Army colonel who was killed at the Battle of Molina del Rey during the Mexican War. James would graduate from West Point in 1849, ranked last in his class. Graduating so low, meant he was destined for the infantry, but in 1855, he managed to transfer to the cavalry. 
       He resigned from the U.S. Army in 1861, although his younger brother remained in the Union Army. James was ordered to report to Ben McCulloch in Little Rock, Arkansas. He also served on Arkansas Governor Rector's staff. At the Battle of Wilson's Creek, McIntosh commanded the 2nd Arkansas Mounted Infantry. He led a charge that drove the enemy back and was praised by future Confederate Brigadier General Louis Hebert. Others praised his actions at Wilson's Creek in their reports. 

John Baillie McIntosh (James's younger brother)

       All the praise that James received at Wilson's Creek resulted in his promotion to colonel. He led his command in what became known as the Battle of Chustenahlah against Indians who were hostile to the Confederacy. He soon was promoted to brigadier general to rank from December 13, 1861 and took command of a cavalry brigade. 

Ben McCulloch

       Advancing against the Federals in northwest Arkansas with Van Dorn's army, McIntosh had developed great admiration of Ben McCulloch, his former commander. At the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern or Pea Ridge, McCulloch had ridden ahead of his men to find the position of the enemy. The 36th Illinois saw him approaching through a tree line and opened fire. A bullet struck McCulloch in the chest. He was killed instantly. When McIntosh learned of this, he decided to lead a charge to recover McCulloch's body. As the line was preparing to move forward, McIntosh received a shot in the chest from a Federal sharpshooter and was also killed instantly. 

Both General's McCulloch and McIntosh were killed in the tree line across this field

       Both bodies were taken by wagon back to Fort Smith, Arkansas where they were buried in the National Cemetery. McCulloch would later be removed to the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas. James McIntosh rests today in the Fort Smith National Cemetery in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He was either 33 or 34 years old. 

James McQueen McIntosh

The Grave of James McIntosh

       Major General Earl Van Dorn said of McIntosh, "He was alert, daring, and devoted to his duty. His kindness of disposition, with his reckless bravery, had attached the troops strongly to him."