In the spirit of the holiday I thought I would highlight a curious item that a soldier in the trenches at Petersburg was thankful for. “We have had some very cold weather, the ground has been frozen hard but now the weather is more mild and cloudy, threatening rain,” wrote Lieutenant John Lewis Warlick of the 11th North Carolina in a letter on November 27, 1864, in what first appears to be a complaint to his sweetheart. Instead the embattled Tarheel viewed the pending downpour as “a blessing to us no doubt as the enemy can not make any move while the ground remains soft; therefore we prefer bad weather at this time.”
Warlick does include a more traditional holiday wish at the end of his letter, writing: “I wish we could get some nice things from home for Christmas, couldn’t some man in Burke volunteer a week before that time to come through with some boxes & I would be well pleased to have some spareribs and sausages for breakfast on that morning.”
Happiest of Thanksgivings from all of us at Emerging Civil War!
Today, we are pleased to welcome guest author Derek Maxfield.
One hundred-fifty years ago this fall, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman led an army of sixty-thousand men on a militarily-unorthodox campaign through the heart of Georgia. Sherman’s “March to the Sea”, as it has come to be known, began with the utter destruction of Atlanta as a railroad hub and seat of manufacturing – and ended with the capture of Savannah just before Christmas, 1864.
Posted in Armies, Battlefields & Historic Places, Battles, Campaigns, Civil War Events, Common Soldier, Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Confederate, Leadership--Federal, Memory, Sesquicentennial
Tagged Battle of Griswoldville, Ebeneezer Creek, Henry Slocum, Jefferson C. Davis, John Bell Hood, Joseph Johnston, Judson Kilpatrick, Leonidas Polk, March to the Sea, Meridian Campaign, Oliver Howard, Savannah Georgia, Thomas Ewing, Ulysses S. Grant, Vicksburg Campaign, William Tecumseh Sherman, XIV Corps
On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, 1864, the Army of the Potomac lost one of its finest fighting commanders. Winfield Scott Hancock, tenacious leader of the Second Corps, was relieved by Andrew Humphreys and sent to Washington, D.C. to lead in the formation of the First Corps, Veteran Reserve. He was leaving because his health could simply no longer sustain the rigors of the campaigning against the Confederacy. The wound from Gettysburg never fully healed, forcing Hancock to ride in an ambulance throughout most of the Overland Campaign. Pushing through the horrendous pain, Hancock could stand no more and had to relinquish temporary command in the initial attacks against Petersburg in mid-June to attend to his wounds. He resumed command soon thereafter, “much relieved from the discharge of quite a large piece of bone from the wound.” Continue reading
The memory of John Bell Hood has taken on a popular view that more often than not emphasizes the negative while ignoring the positive. As has been mentioned over the course of the last several days in “Hood Remembered,” Hood rendered invaluable service to Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia at Gaines’ Mill, Second Manassas, and Antietam. These actions have been forgotten in an effort to overemphasize the failure of the Tennessee Campaign.
Unfortunately, Hood is not the only victim of this view. Ulysses S. Grant’s inability to break the Confederate line at Cold Harbor has blotted out his achievements in the Western Theater. Indeed, the final 24-36 hours of George Custer’s life has completely overshadowed his four years of service in the Civil War. In remembering Hood, we should be reminded to view his career in total, as opposed to his final campaign.
General Hood in happier times
It is not two years since the sight of a person who had lost one of his lower limbs was an infrequent occurrence. Now, Alas! there are few of us who have not a cripple among our friends if not in our own families.
— Physician Oliver Wendell
Confederate General John Bell Hood was crippled by the Civil War. His disabilities were so severe that only in the desperate straights of the 1860s could anyone imagine a man with his useless left arm permanently in a sling and no right leg going back to the army to fight another day. General Hood was, by no stretch of imagination, impaired. Continue reading
Posted in Leadership--Confederate, Memory, Personalities
Tagged aftermath of battle, amputations, Battle of Gettysburg, civil war dearhs, Confederate army, Confederate veterans, disabled Civil War veterans, emergency amputations, General Hood, Gettysburg, Hood, Hood-Remembered, Jefferson Davis, John Bell Hood, medicine, Memory, Oliver Wendell Holmes, prosthetics, Sally Preston, Union veterans, veterans' benefits Civil War, wounded warriors
John Bell Hood
Soon after my five-year-old daughter got hooked on the Civil War, she had me buy for her two decks of Civil War flashcards. The blue deck contained Union officers, the gray Confederates. We would flick through the cards on road trips to battlefields. This was how we both learned our Civil War Who’s-Who.
In a deck full of men with crazy beards, John Bell Hood might have just blended in with the others, but he stood out because of his eyes. “He has ‘hound-dog’ eyes,” Stephanie would say. “They make him look sad.” Continue reading
John Bell Hood is one of those Civil War commanders that seems like he was promoted above his capacity. He’s hardly alone in that category, joined by numerous others who were commanding at a level they should not have been. Early in the war Hood’s men were nearly unstoppable—his breakthrough at Gaines’ Mill, his counter-attack at Antietam— and the Army of Northern Virginia benefited extremely from having him in its ranks.
But the war took its toll; wounds at Gettysburg and Chickamauga should have sidelined Hood for the rest of the conflict. In the summer of 1864 the Army of Tennessee needed someone to stand up to Sherman, but it wasn’t Hood. The three offensive battles he orchestrated outside Atlanta were all bloodily repulsed, and all foreshadowed the gruesome charge at Franklin. He’s a man who should be lauded for his services in the first-half of the war, but he will always bear the responsibility for bleeding the Army of Tennessee of some of its best commanders and manpower.