Friday, May 30, 2014

The Ultimate Civil Wargasm Part III

Home of the Richmond Vampire in Hollywood Cemetery

       We left Charlottesville, Virginia for Richmond at dark on Friday night and arrived about bedtime in Richmond. The next morning would give us a bunch of generals for our scrapbook. When Jerry and I began our hobby of getting our photographs made with Confederate generals, I wasn't sure how I would display them. A trip to Corinth, Mississippi a month ago to see my buddy Shirley McKenzie would solve that problem for me. She had a scrapbook that she made that showed pictures of her family. When we left, I told my wife that Shirley gave me an idea and we immediately went to Hobby Lobby where we purchased a scrapbook to begin my photo's of me and Confederate generals. I can't wait to show my book to Shirley the next time we meet. 

Me and Jerry with Lieutenant General A.P. Hill

       The next morning we struck out for the grave of Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill who happens to be buried in the middle of a Richmond intersection. Jerry had promised me several times that the intersection is not very busy because he had passed through this place before. I was convinced that a Saturday morning about 8 a.m. would be the perfect time to visit a "not very busy" intersection. We arrived to find it extremely busy. I told Jerry that we would be ran over and placed in the Richmond paper obituary. Melanie refused to get out of the van. She kept saying, "This is crazy" as she watched the traffic fly by. Stacie positioned herself in the perfect position to take our picture as we darted across the road amid the traffic. It reminded me of a real life game of "Frogger" as we dashed past flying automobiles. Upon returning to the van, Melanie mentioned a guy stopped at the red light who picked up his phone to report us to someone. A.P. Hill became a corps commander under General Robert E. Lee. Legend has it that he is buried standing up in the center of the intersection. I need to do more research on General Hill to learn why.
       We left Hill's grave and went to Shockhoe Hill Cemetery where we got photographed at the grave of Brigadier General Patrick Theodore Moore. Moore was so severely wounded at Manassas that he was unable to take field command for the remainder of the war. The neighborhood around Shockhoe Hill made our wives feel very uncomfortable about getting out of the van, but of course Jerry and I pressed on. 

At least there was a police department across the street from Shockhoe Hill

       We left Shockhoe Hill and proceeded to Hollywood Cemetery which is known as the "Arlington of the Confederacy." This cemetery contains the graves of 17,000 Confederate soldiers (along with the Gettysburg dead) and possibly 27 Confederate generals. (More on the possibly 27 as we go along). 
       We entered Hollywood (named Hollywood because of all the Holly trees located there) and found the office was closed on Saturday. I was already concerned about finding all the generals, but became more so when I realized we couldn't purchase a map without the office being open. Melanie is not at all bashful and saved us on this trip. She found a lady that worked as a caretaker in the cemetery and asked her for a map. She drove back to the office and located us a small cemetery map which saved the day. On the drive up, Jerry had printed off a list of all 26 Confederate generals buried at Hollywood (notice I said possibly 27 in the prior paragraph). I told him we would get 27 generals on our visit to Hollywood, the reason being that the body of Brigadier General Richard Brooke Garnett was never found and buried alongside the rest of his troops. People often look at the paintings of generals in their dress coats leading charges, but this rarely happened during the war. General Garnett led his brigade in Pickett's Charge wearing only a plain blue coat. Therefore, when he was killed by canister fire (his body was possibly ripped to shreds) he was unidentified and buried alongside his men. When the Confederate soldiers were dug up and re-interred in Hollywood Cemetery following the war, General Garnett was most likely removed with his men and rests today in an unmarked grave there. Therefore, the only way for Jerry and I to get our pictures made with Garnett is beside the marker in his memory amid his men in Hollywood and that's what we did. 
       The first general we located was Brigadier General John Daniel Imboden who had commanded artillery at Manassas and cavalry for the remainder of the war. It was at this grave that Stacie decided the grass was too high for a quality photo. Jerry bent over pulling up weeds while I found a switch and attempted to spank him, but he moved too quickly for me. It seems he probably spent the early part of his childhood avoiding spankings by the speed in which he got away from me. 

Me trying to spank the Ole Man

       Although, I had visited Hollywood Cemetery back in 1996, I had trouble finding Garnett's stone because Melanie had to use the bathroom so bad, she couldn't wait for the woman to open the bathroom (it was locked). I had to avert my eyes and search for the grave because she was behind a small shrub with a small napkin in her hand. Luckily, Jerry found the grave for me. 

Jerry and I with the marker for Richard Brooke Garnett

       We quickly found the graves of Confederate general's Edward Johnson (Major General of Virginia), David Rumph Jones (Major General of South Carolina), and Brigadier General John Caldwell Calhoun Sanders (Brigadier General of Alabama) in the Confederate officers section. Actually, General Sanders grave site has been lost and the marker is somewhere near his actual grave. We then ran into a snag with the grave site of Brigadier General Walter Husted Stevens. The map shows him alongside of the three generals in the officers section, but he was no where to be found. At this point, I was extremely glad that Melanie had the lady unlock the bathroom doors because I had an emergency. We raced back to the office and I raced into the restroom. When I exited the bathroom, I jumped in the van and began to head back toward the cemetery. Melanie screamed at me to stop. I hadn't noticed, but my wife had gotten out of the van and went to the bathroom and I was about to leave her at the cemetery entrance. 
       We drove back down the hill and Jerry and I quickly found General Stevens. We jumped out and had our photo's taken with him before continuing our search. 

Brigadier General Walter Husted Stevens

       Things began to get even more goofy from here on out for our visit to Hollywood Cemetery. We then began to search for the grave of one of my personal hero's Brigadier General William Edwin Starke who was killed at the battle of Antietam while serving under Stonewall Jackson. We approached the area where Starke is buried and found the ghost dog of Hollywood Cemetery. This dog is supposed to come alive at night as it guards the grave of a girl who died during the Civil War at a very young age. We got pictures of both Stacie and Melanie petting the dog. Both said they almost cried as they put their hands on the dogs head. 

Mel with the ghost dog

Stacie with the ghost dog

       Jerry and I quickly located the grave of General Starke and had our picture made. It was when we returned to the van that we had a moment of disbelief. Melanie's maiden name is Turpin and she found a man buried in the cemetery that was a Turpin. When we returned, she was busy pushing buttons on her phone. The following is what I heard her saying:

Melanie: "That's the strangest phone number I've ever seen, but I gotta call him and see if we are related. One eight zero seven dash one eight seven four."
Me: "What are you doing Melanie?"
Melanie: "Trying to find out if I'm related to this man."
Jerry: "Do you see what I have to put up with every day?"
Tim: "Mel, that is not his cell number, it's his birth and death dates."
Melanie: "Well, no wonder he won't answer his phone."
Jerry (shaking his head as usual): "I told you I didn't have very far to drive when I drove her crazy."
Tim: "Mel, how were you going to call a dead guy and expect him to answer the phone?"
Melanie: "I don't want to hear no more from you or you brother, just shut up."

Ole Man and me with General William E. Starke

       The rest of Hollywood Cemetery coming up tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Ultimate Civil Wargasm Part II

Me and Jerry with Brigadier General John Echols

       The ultimate Civil Wargasm would hit its first snag at Thornrose Cemetery in Staunton, Virginia. We pulled into this huge cemetery and immediately found the grave of Brigadier General John Echols. We jumped from the van and had our pictures made in front of the vault that contained the remains of General Echols. If you look at the photograph above, General Echols is in a vault that is about even with the second block from the bottom and on my side of the mausoleum. Following us taking this photograph, Jerry and I began our search for the other Confederate general in this cemetery.
       Brigadier General Robert Doak Lilley commanded a brigade in Early's raid on Washington where he was wounded in the arm and was disabled following amputation. Now, I have narcolepsy and I get ill very easily when I haven't had much sleep. I had gone to sleep about 5 a.m. the morning of this trip and slept about an hour and a half. Jerry, Melanie, Stacie, and myself had crossed this entire cemetery about 123 times and none of us were able to find General Lilley. I was hot, exhausted, and frustrated, yet none of us were able to find Lilley. I resorted to asking the locals if they knew where he was buried. A woman told me she thought she had seen the name somewhere before and a man told me the general location. Jerry, being much smarter than me when it comes to slowing down and paying attention noticed something that I never would have. In the book we use to find graves, it said that General Lilley is buried very close to Major Jedediah Hotchkiss's grave. He found the grave and off we went searching for Lilley. We never found him. I decided that Lilley's tombstone must have been damaged by vandals and been removed. Stacie proved us all wrong by contacting the woman that oversee's the cemetery. Stacie left a message on her answering machine and she later replied that she could take us directly to General Lilley's grave. We were in Richmond at this point and will have to return on a later date. 
       I was frustrated when we left Staunton and we struck out for Charlottesville, Virginia. I figured we wouldn't have time to get all the generals there, but hoped we would. We went first to the University of Virginia Cemetery and Jerry found Brigadier General Carnot Posey before I could. General Posey was wounded in the thigh at the Battle of Bristoe Station and died a month after being struck by artillery fire. 

Jerry and me at the grave of Brigadier General Carnot Posey

Brigadier General Carnot Posey

       We immediately left the University of Virginia, both Jerry and I both had to refrain from shouting at the students there, "Roll Tide!!!" We both are big Alabama Crimson Tide fans and love to rub that in to all other colleges. We struck out for the next cemetery on our list, Maplewood Cemetery about five minutes away. The sun was getting low in the sky, but we pressed onward. We rolled into Maplewood and found the graves of Brigadier General John Marshall Jones and Brigadier General Armistead Lindsay Long. Jones was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness in the spring of 1864 and Long served on Lee's staff. Jerry mentioned the fact that although he has never drank any alcoholic beverage, he wished we would have brought some rum to place on Jones's grave. The neighborhood where Jones's is buried made me think that the best thing to do was pour the rum on his grave or someone would come steal the beverage and drink it themselves. 

Me and Jerry with Rum Jones

       We left Maplewood Cemetery and headed to Riverside Cemetery where Brigadier General Thomas Lafayette Rosser rested. He was a cavalry commander in Virginia. We got to his grave just before dark and had our pictures made. We then struck out for the grave of Brigadier General George Wythe Randolph who rests in the Jefferson Family Cemetery at Monticello. General Randolph had spent some time as the Confederate Secretary of War and then as a brigadier general. He died in 1867 of tuberculosis. We found Monticello closed at such a late hour. Jerry was very frustrated because he said it's illegal to deny a person access to a cemetery before dark. Nevertheless, we were forced to give up on finding General Randolph until a future trip. Our fifty plus general trip was quickly falling apart. We planned to return to Alabama with 52 generals, yet we would come home with only 49. More on that in part III...

Me and Ole Man at the grave of Thomas Lafayette Rosser

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Ultimate Civil Wargasm, Part I

Me with a switch trying to whip Ole Man, but he got up too quick

       Jerry, his wife Melanie, Stacie, and I had planned a trip to get over fifty Confederate general's graves, not to mention a couple of battlefields along the way. We left home about 2:30 p.m. on Thursday and drove all the way to Abingdon, Virginia where we spent the night. The next morning, the gasm began in earnest. We drove to Sinking Spring Cemetery in Abingdon the next morning and got Brigadier General John Buchanan Floyd. Floyd is the general who was in command at Fort Donelson in February of 1862 and escaped during the night to keep from surrendering to General Grant. He would spend the rest of his life in western Virginia commanding a minor post. He fretted over how the world would remember his military career and rightly so. He is considered one of the worst generals to serve the Confederacy. 

Jerry and I with General Floyd

       We then headed up the road about fifteen miles to Old Glade Spring Presbyterian Churchyard in Glade Spring, Virginia. There we visited the grave of Brigadier General William Edmondson "Grumble" Jones. General Jones had married while serving in the old U.S. Army. He was carrying his new bride to Texas when the ship they were on sank in a hurricane. Jones attempted to save his wife, but she was pulled from his grasp and drowned. Jones became a very bitter man for the remainder of his life. He despised the fun loving Jeb Stuart who he served under during the first part of the war. Jones was killed at the Battle of Piedmont when he was shot in the head. He happens to be one of Stacie's favorite Confederate generals because of his nickname "Grumble". 

Me and Stacie with Grumble Jones

       We left Old Glade Spring and headed to Wytheville, Virginia and East End Cemetery. There we visited the graves of Brigadier General William Terry and Brigadier General James Alexander Walker. Walker was chosen by Stonewall Jackson to command the famed Stonewall Brigade. I told Jerry about the time that Walker threw a brick at Stonewall Jackson while Jackson taught at V.M.I. He narrowly missed hitting Jackson in the head. Jerry said that is a good example of keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer. 

Brigadier General William Terry

Brigadier General James Alexander Walker

       We left Wytheville and headed to Radford, Virginia. This grave worried me more than any other on our list. When I searched the Wharton Family Cemetery in Radford on google maps, it showed the cemetery behind a house in a subdivision. The area on the map was behind the pool in the backyard. I told Jerry that I doubted the directions I had were accurate. Jerry said he wasn't afraid to walk up and ask the people at the house if we could go through their backyard and visit the grave. Amazingly, we drove through someone's driveway, past the house and pool and right to the cemetery. There we found the grave of Brigadier General Gabriel Colvin Wharton beneath a large tree. 

Me and Ole Man with Gabriel Colvin Wharton

       We left Radford and headed for one of the better parts of our trip. Lexington, Virginia and the graves of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson among others was awaiting us. My wife began to get excited. I watched Jerry for signs of excitement, but he was busy irritating his wife Melanie. I said, "Jerry, you have driven your wife crazy." He replied, "Yeah, but I didn't have far to drive." (More on the arguments later). 
       We arrived in Lexington and visited the home of Stonewall Jackson first. We were in a hurry and didn't tour the house (besides, I'd been through it before). We got our pictures made outside and struck out for the cemetery. It was there that we got the graves of Brigadier General William Nelson Pendleton (the general that exclaimed at First Manassas while commanding artillery, "Fire low men and may God forgive their misguided souls"), Brigadier General Edwin Gray Lee (a cousin of Robert E. Lee), Brigadier General Elisha Franklin Paxton (a friend of Stonewall Jackson and also killed at Chancellorsville), and of course Lieutenant General Stonewall Jackson. We also learned that Jerry's twin brother is buried here. (More on this later).

Friday morning found Stacie and I on the front porch of Stonewall's house

Stacie and I at Stonewall's grave

Wind had blown the flags down, so I had a good excuse to climb the fence

Me and Ole man forgot our coats for this photo with Edwin Gray Lee

Elisha Franklin "Bull" Paxton

William Nelson Pendleton

       We left Stonewall Memorial Cemetery and headed north to Lee Chapel on the grounds of Washington and Lee University. It was here that Robert E. Lee served as college president until his death. He is buried beneath the chapel that he had built on campus along with his wife, his family, along with his two sons that were Confederate generals, George Washington Custis Lee and William Henry Fitzhugh Lee. It was here that Stacie got tears in her eyes as we visited the monument to Lee. We were actually walking on top of his grave as we walked around the monument. 

Me and Stacie standing where Lee's casket sat during his funeral

Me and Ole Man with Robert E. Lee

       We then headed to V.M.I. where we toured the museum. Stacie gave me a heart attack as we approached the college when she saw the cannons Jackson commanded at First Manassas called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. She screamed and I locked up the brakes almost throwing the Ole Man through the windshield of the van. My hands shook for thirty minutes and Ole Man's hair turned a little grayer than normal. 

Jackson's artillery, the small flowers in front marks the grave of Little Sorrel his horse

       In the museum, we got to see the rain coat Stonewall was wearing when he was killed at Chancellorsville. We also saw the amputation kit used to cut off his arm. I got to pose in front of Little Sorrel which had been mounted following his death. I didn't notice anything small about Little Sorrel, it looked like a normal sized horse to me, but what do I know about horses. 

Little Sorrel

Me with Jackson's rain coat in the background

       It was at this place that I walked around a corner and found Melanie staring at painting and rolling in laughter. I walked up and asked, "Are you o.k.?" She said, "Who does that picture look just like?" I looked at the painting of Colonel Francis Henney Smith (the commandant of V.M.I. during the war) and realized he looked just like Jerry. I said, "That looks just like Ole Man." Melanie laughed and said, "And he's a Smith too." Ole Man then proceeded to pose in front of the painting of his long lost twin brother.

Jerry Smith with Francis Henney Smith

       We soon left V.M.I. and were back on the road headed to Staunton, Virginia. Jerry and Melanie were soon back to arguing as usual. (I have a theory as to why they argue so much. They like to have make up sex later at night, so they argue all day.) Here is a typical conversation as we're driving down the interstate. 

Melanie: "Tim, do you know Little Bob who lives in Russellville?"
Tim: "Never heard of him."
Melanie: "Jerry said that you knew him is why I'm asking."
Jerry: "Woman, I ain't said no such thing."
Melanie: "Yes you did."
Jerry: "Where in the world do you get this stuff. I haven't mentioned Little Bob to Tim."
Melanie: "I heard you talking to him about Little Bob."
Jerry (shaking his head): "I tell you what, that woman don't half listen."

       And the conversation continues for about another half hour. Now you know why I have so much fun with them on trips. This blog will probably take about four parts to complete and I will try to have part II on in a few days. Stay tuned....

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Poor Cantey: The Mediocre Brigade Commander

Brigadier General James Cantey

       James Cantey was born in South Carolina in 1818. He graduated from South Carolina College and became an attorney. He also served in the South Carolina state legislature. Cantey fought in the Mexican War and was wounded there. Following the war with Mexico, Cantey moved to Alabama and became a planter in Russell County. 

A photograph of Cantey during his Mexican War days

       He helped raise the 15th Alabama Infantry and became its first colonel. His brigade was sent to Virginia and placed in the brigade of the division of the ever aggressive Isaac Trimble. There he participated in Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign. His best day occurred at the Battle of Cross Keys. There he repulsed the Federal attack and drove them back for a mile before being halted. 
       Cantey was then ordered to Richmond where they joined Robert E. Lee's army in defending the Confederate capital. They saw very little action in the Battle of the Seven Days. Cantey then received orders to return to Alabama. He returned to command a brigade of three Alabama regiment's and one Mississippi regiment. He also obtained a promotion to brigadier general to rank from January 8, 1863. He spent most of his time in the defenses of Mobile. He commanded a division of three brigades in August of 1863, but didn't receive a promotion to major general. During the winter of 1863-1864, his brigade was assigned to the Army of Tennessee in northern Georgia. 
       When Sherman sent Major General James McPherson to flank the Confederate army under Joseph Johnston, the brigade he encountered at Resaca belonged to James Cantey. Cantey had 4,000 defenders against McPherson's entire army of 23,000 men. McPherson became concerned that he was facing a larger force and withdrew. When it was over, Sherman told his close friend McPherson, "Well, Mac, you have missed the opportunity of your life." Had he not been such a close personal friend, Sherman would have sacked him. 
       During the battle, a Georgia soldier noted that Cantey was so nervous that he remained in a bombproof during the entire affair. The soldier called him "poor Cantey." Cantey served with his brigade when his health allowed him. Some state that he should never have attempted to serve in the war because of his feeble health. He missed most of the rest of the war, but arrived in North Carolina in time to surrender his command in 1865. 
       After the war, he returned to Alabama where he became a farmer. He died in Fort Mitchell in 1874 and rests there today in a small family cemetery. Historian Jeffry D. Wert labeled Cantey a mediocre brigade commander. 

Me and Jerry at the grave of James Cantey

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Trouble at the Top: 1st South Carolina Artillery

Colonel Alfred Moore Rhett

       Alfred Moore Rhett was born in 1829 in Beaufort, South Carolina. His father was Robert Rhett, the secessionist fire-eater. Alfred was a Harvard graduate and planter before the Civil War began. He began the war as a 1st lieutenant in the 1st South Carolina Artillery. By March of 1862, he'd been promoted to major. Rhett was an extremely arrogant man. 
       The commander of the 1st South Carolina Artillery was Colonel William Ransom Calhoun, the nephew of John C. Calhoun the "father of secession". Colonel Calhoun was born in 1827 in Charleston, South Carolina. He was a graduate of the United States Military Academy, served briefly in the U.S. Army before also becoming a planter. Prior to the trouble between himself and Major Rhett, Calhoun fought at the battles of Second Manassas and Secessionville.
       The trouble between the two officers seems to have begun in April of 1861 around the time of the shelling of Fort Sumter. It appears that Rhett thought Calhoun an inferior officer to himself and often denounced him in public. He resented Calhoun's military education and thought he was better suited for colonel. He'd already fought two duels with a friend of Colonel Calhoun who had overheard him making offensive remarks about the colonel. Neither man had been injured in these two duels. 
       It appears that Rhett had been drinking when the final insult occurred. It was reported that Rhett called Calhoun a "puppy", but most likely he called him a part of a woman's anatomy that was not used in every day language of that time. Calhoun challenged Rhett to a duel. In both previous duels, Rhett had let the other party fire first and after having been missed, he fired his pistol into the air. Legend has it that Calhoun was so fed up with Rhett, that he made it a rule that neither party was to fire into the air. 
       It was called one of the fairest duels ever fought by the Richmond Daily Dispatch. There were three state senators, the South Carolina speaker of the house, a civilian, and an army captain present for the duel. Major Rhett preferred the "drop" shot (where the pistols are pointed toward the sky when the order to fire is given), but Colonel Calhoun preferred to shoot on the "rise" (where the pistols are pointed toward the ground at one's side before the order is given). Discussions were held and Calhoun won. It seems that Major Rhett took the time to write out a formal protest before stepping out to duel. 

Another view of Alfred Moore Rhett

       Calhoun was dressed in civilian clothing as he had been away from the army because of ill health. Rhett was dressed in his major uniform. When the order to fire was given, Rhett fired just a half second after Calhoun. Calhoun missed and the bullet from Rhett's pistol struck Calhoun in the body. He survived for about an hour. 
       Major Rhett was arrested for dueling, but Beauregard soon pardoned him and promoted him to colonel of the 1st South Carolina Artillery. Rhett briefly commanded Fort Sumter. He would serve in Charleston until 1865 when he retreated into North Carolina where he was captured at the Battle of Averasboro. A Federal soldier called Rhett a "devil in human shape". He was held at Fort Delaware until July 24, 1865. 

Col Alfred Moore Rhett

Tombstone of Alfred Moore Rhett

       Rhett served as police chief of Charleston, South Carolina following the war and died on November 12, 1889. Ironically, both men were buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, where they rest today.