THE OLD WAR HORSE
THE VOICE OF GENERAL JAMES LONGSTREET CAMP #1247, SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS
VOLUME 6, ISSUE 10, NOVEMBER, 2004
Perhaps the most notable feature of the month of November is the celebration of Thanksgiving. One of the best known and beloved of American holidays, discussions of its origins have often generated heated and contentious debate. For many years it was almost universally accepted that the first Thanksgiving was held by the Pilgrims who gave thanks to God for their survival in a new world possessive of a hostile climate and populated by equally hostile natives. However historical research has discovered that the first Thanksgiving may well have been celebrated at what is now Berkeley Plantation near Williamsburg, Virginia, some years prior to the now famous New England feast of the Pilgrims. But Thanksgiving as a national holiday is a relatively recent invention. In fact it was not until the efforts of a writer and journalist named Sarah Josepha Hale to establish a national "Day of Thanksgiving" were met with enough widespread approval to attract the attention of the government, that Thanksgiving actually became "official." The year was 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November as a National Day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated annually. So it was that November 26, 1863 became another "first Thanksgiving"; the first day to be nationally recognized as Thanksgiving. There was little time or cause for celebration on that special day in November 1863 however, since the War Between The States was in full swing. The major battle for Chattanooga, Tennessee was over but Union Generals Sherman and Thomas pursued Confederate General Braxton Bragg through Chickamauga Station toward Graysville and Ringgold. Casualties at Chattanooga amounted to an astonishing 1 in 10 for both sides, with some 6,667 Southerners falling along with approximately 5,824 Federals. By immediately abandoning their defenses the Confederates conceded Missionary Ridge, but by doing so they avoided even greater losses and maintained their army as an effective fighting force. At Ringgold, the Federals ran into Confederate General Patrick Cleburne's rear guard and severe fighting took place at Chickamauga Station, Pea Vine Valley and Pigeon Hill in Tennessee as well as at Graysville, Georgia. General James Longstreet, "on loan" from the Army of Northern Virginia, was at Knoxville preparing for an assault. In Virginia, the front along the Rapidan River was coming to life as Union General George Meade and the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan in an attempt to turn Lee's right flank and finally carry out the oft-repeated urgings from Washington to take offensive action against the Army of Northern Virginia. Skirmishing flared at and near Raccoon Ford and Morton's Ford as Lee's outposts spread the alarm. Meade had hoped to maneuver Lee out of position and to force him to fall back toward Richmond, as Union troops outnumbered the Confederates some 85,000 to 48,000. In other actions there was skirmishing near Woodson, Missouri; Brentsville, Virginia; Plymouth and Warm Springs, North Carolina; as well as Columbia, Kentucky. In Columbus Ohio, Confederate cavalryman John Hunt Morgan celebrated this first official Thanksgiving Day by digging an escape tunnel out of the Ohio State Penitentiary, where he and a number of his officers and men had been confined subsequent to their capture by Union troops. Morgan tunneled through a six-foot wall, allowing him and six of his officers to break out of their cells and climb over the outer fence. Morgan made good his escape the following day, vanishing into Kentucky. Reaching the Confederate lines, he was given command of the Department of Southwest Virginia. Indeed throughout most of the land there was little cause for celebration, especially in the South as the depravations of war were beginning to take a major toll among the civilian population. It was a dubious beginning for a holiday dedicated to thankfulness, but all things are cyclical and better times eventually returned. In 1941 Congress again changed the date of Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in November, where it remains to this day. So on this Thanksgiving Day 2004, as we feast on sumptuous culinary delights and socialize with friends and family, let us remember to give thanks; not only for our many blessings, but also for the loyalty, bravery and sacrifices of our ancestors who have given us a so rich a heritage and bequeathed us so memorable a legacy. DEO VINDICE. Harry
Membership applications were sent recently to HQ for Daryl Cooke and Scott Summerfield. Daryl's great great grandfather Brigadier General John Rogers Cooke commanded a brigade in Heth's Division of the Third Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. General Cooke was the brother of Flora Cooke Stuart (Mrs. J. E. B.). Scott Summerfield is descended from John Wesley Noe of Company H, 60th Tennessee Mounted Infantry. It may take a while to receive their membership certificates and hold an induction ceremony, but that is a formality. We welcome Daryl and Scott as Camp members now. We received a note from Frank Bahen stating that he is going out of the country for several years on an assignment. He requested inactive status, but there is no provision in the SCV for such. We wish the best for Frank as he embarks on this phase of his life. Our Chaplain Henry Langford is home form the hospital and says he hopes to be with us soon. We are indeed fortunate to have Ed Bearss, retired chief historian of the National Park Service, as our scheduled speaker for our December 7 Christmas banquet at the Westwood Club. Anyone who has heard Ed speak wants to hear him again. If you haven't heard him you're in for a real treat. Ed combines an encyclopedic knowledge of American history with a dynamic delivery style that will hold your interest. If you blindfolded Ed and flew him to any historic site in America, he could identify it and proceed to tell you more about what happened there than anybody. We have received a thank you letter from Julie Krick, President of Richmond Battlefields Association for the contribution made with funds generated by the Ukrop's Golden Gift Certificates. We were one of three camps listed as donors in a recent flag conservation newsletter sent out by the Museum of the Confederacy. The recent commissioning ceremony in Norfolk of USS Virginia (SSN 774), brings to mind the most famous warship of all with that name, CSS Virginia, a participant in the battle of ironclads which changed naval warfare forever. The Confederacy's ship is often called Merrimac, because that was its U. S. Navy name before the Confederacy seized it and converted it into an ironclad. Seeing CSS Virginia called by its old name in print today causes a written salvo to be fired at the offending publication, pointing out that by that line of fallacious reasoning the United States Coast Guard ship Eagle should be called Horst Wessel, its name until seized from Germany by America at the end of World War Two. It's interesting that several Confederate officers who had served in the U. S. Navy before The War continued to call the Confederate ironclad Merrimac. At least they had an excuse. One would have hoped that Virginia authorities would have had better sense than to misname the tunnel in the tidewater area Monitor-Merrimac. Oh, well. Walter Tucker
(The New) ROMA'S RESTAURANT 8330 STAPLES MILL RD. LOCATED IN "THE SHOPS AT STAPLES MILL" TURN LEFT AT FIRST STOPLIGHT NORTH OF THE WISTAR SHOPPING CENTER DINNER- SOCIAL 6:00 PM
Our speaker for November is Ms. Karen Kinzey, the director of Arlington House, Lee's home at Arlington National Cemetery. Ms. Kinzey will give us an insight into the history of Arlington House and its grounds and will tell us about the work of the Arlington House Foundation. This should be an interesting presentation, particularly to those who have never visited Arlington, so come and help us make Ms. Kinzey welcome to Longstreet Camp.
WILLIAM POTTER William "Bill" Potter, author of The Boy's Guide to the Historical Adventures of G. A. Henty and The Letters of Stonewall Jackson to His Wife, spoke to the Camp about the May 5, 1862 vicious battle of Williamsburg which involved 30,000 soldiers. Colonial Williamsburg's emphasis of the colonial and Revolutionary War periods has obscured the War Between the States battle. The first full length study of the battle appeared in 1997. Bill pointed out that "Prince" John Magruder with his penchant for the theatrical was the right man in the right place manning the Yorktown line and leading the over cautious George Brinton McClellan into believing that he was facing an enormous force with many artillery pieces. Confederate General Joseph Eggleston Johnson, always back pedaling, withdrew from the Yorktown line and established a second line before Williamsburg. McClellan, never a believer in leading from the front, remained at Yorktown. Without maps and yielding to his propensity for sorting out things, Little Mac sent three incompetent corps commanders against the Confederates. On the afternoon of May 4 Stoneman's Yankee cavalry was resisted by the Confederate rear guard. Johnston asked General Longstreet to take command of the troops in Williamsburg. Longstreet sent troops to the redans and redoubts. Fighting Joe Hooker was on the Union left, displaying his talent for bold plans and cautious execution. He had a contrasting combination of audacity, caution, and vacillation. He did fight, which is more than can be said of other Yankee commanders. The Confederates captured a Yankee flag on which was emblazoned 'To Hell or Richmond." Phil Kearny stabilized Hooker's line. Confederate cavalry blocked the Yankees all over the field, especially on the right. Yankees occupied 11 redans after being informed by a runaway slave that several were unoccupied. George Armstrong Custer captured an empty redoubt. Winfield Scott Hancock's artillery fired into Fort Magruder. Jubal Early's troops attacked Hancock. General Edwin Vose Sumner, in overall command, refused to send reinforcements to Hancock, who lost 126 men and was ordered to return to Union lines. After the fighting, each side, with few exceptions, occupied essentially the same ground that it had before. Both claimed victory. The Confederacy achieved its goal of blunting the Union advance. Sumner remained confused throughout the battle. McClellan late in the day heard that something big was happening and finally came to the scene. Ambrose Powell Hill performed well and was elevated to Division command. This battle has been described as a blunder that ought not to have happened. Walter Dunn Tucker
2003-2004 CAMP OFFICERS LONGSTREET CAMP #1247Commander: Harry Boyd 741-2060 1st. Lt. Cmdr.: Taylor Cowardin 356-9625 2nd Lt. Cmdr.: Michael Kidd 270-9651 Adjutant/Treasurer: Walter Tucker 360-7247 Quartermaster: R. Preston Nuttall 276-8977 Chaplain: Henry V. Langford 340-8948 PUBLICATIONS Webmaster: Gary F. Cowardin 262-0534 War Horse: David P. George 353-8392
The following is a cumulative listing of contributors to the upkeep of “The Old War Horse” for the period July, 2004 through the current month. As you know, our cumulative listing starts in July of each year. Lloyd Brooks Phil Cheatham Brian Cowardin Gary Cowardin* Taylor Cowardin Ron Cowardin Raymond Crews Chris Jewett Jack Kane* Michael Kidd Frank Marks Joe Moschetti Richard Mountcastle Bill Setzer Austin Thomas Walter Tucker* David Ware Hugh Williams Legend: * - Multiple contributions § - Visitor Donation Thanks to all of you for your great support! We're off to a running start in the new fiscal year!
The Civil War Preservation Trust Society is attempting to save approximately 665 acres of land at the White Oak Road Battlefield. This is an important piece of the Petersburg Battlefield and once it is lost to developers, then a very important part of the last campaign of the Army of Northern Virginia is lost forever. NASCAR was recently petitioned by the National Association of Minority Race Fans to have the Confederate flag removed or replaced by either an American flag or a NASCAR flag at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. NASCAR has refused to issue a statement directing its fans to do so. The Virginia Division of the SCV is reporting that the 1862 headquarters of General J.E.B. Stuart, known as the Timberlake Farms, is set to be destroyed and replaced with a new shopping mall. The area in question is at the intersection of U.S. 301 and Atlee Road in Hanover County. Finally, the national SCV Office is holding a General Executive Council meeting in Concord, NC on December 18th. Concord is just north of Charlotte off of I-85 and Highway 49. Michael Kidd 2nd Lt. Commander
The Christmas Banquet will be held again this year at The Westwood Racquet Club on Tuesday, December 7th starting at 6:00 PM. Our guest speaker will be Ed Bearss, retired Chief Historian of the National Park Service. Ed is a world-renowned expert on the War Between the States, and we are indeed fortunate to have him with us at our Christmas celebration this year. You simply cannot miss this opportunity to meet Ed and help us introduce him to the wonderful fellowship that we enjoy as Compatriots of Longstreet Camp. Further details will be found on the attached reservation form.
"The Young Soldier and His General" (The following depicts an actual event. At Second Manassas, after desperate fighting along an unfinished railroad embankment, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's men, reinforced by the arrival of Longstreet's Corps, have driven the enemy from the field.) That night, around a campfire, Hunter McGuire recounted for the General which commanders and acquaintances were lost in the battle. The list was long. "Colonels Neff, Botts and Forno are dead," said the Doctor grimly. "Generals Trimble, Field and Ewell are severely wounded. Ewell has lost a leg." Thomas (Stonewall) listened in silence, expressionless, his eyes glowing as he stared at the fire. For reasons he didn't understand, he had a gift for war. When the Heavenly Father's work required him to lead men into battle, it was like an intoxicating tonic to him. But afterward came the reckoning. Always afterward came the reckoning over friends and comrades whom God had willed to die. It never failed to sober him. High indeed was the price of performing the work of the Almighty. "And I'm afraid young William Preston is mortally wounded," added the Doctor. "He won't make it through the night." Willie was the 18-year-old son of J.T.L. Preston, Thomas's comrade from VMI. Thomas had watched Willie grow up and had made him an aide, but the boy insisted on rejoining his unit, the Liberty Hall Volunteers, just prior to the heaviest fighting. The news hit Thomas hard. "What.!? Then why are you not with him?" demanded the General, springing up from his log seat. His eyes glowed like cobalt and his facial muscles twitched as he clamped down hard on the doctor's shoulder. "Why did you leave him?" "There.are so many, General," said the Doctor, wincing in discomfort. "There's.just nothing I can do. We have won this battle by the hardest kind of fighting." Thomas reflected a moment and loosened his grip. "No, no, Doctor, we have won it by the blessing of Almighty God." He turned and walked away. He was losing control and wanted to be alone. He didn't want his officers to see the tears forming in his eyes. Out beyond the circle of light he walked, out along the railroad embankment where his men had fought so hard, and where so many had fallen. How much more killing, he wondered. How long before the mission of killing that God had given him would be done and he could be with Anna and their expected child? How long before he could enjoy the creation of life rather than the heartbreak of so much death? Suddenly he halted, almost stumbling over a form lying in the dark. It was a young soldier, maybe twenty, alone and struggling to drag himself up onto the embankment. "Why.Sir!" exclaimed Thomas, stooping down with concern. "Are you wounded?" "Ye.yes, Gen'ral, it's my leg," said the boy, recognizing his commander and fighting not to show pain. "But.tell me.have we whupped 'em?" "Yessir, we have, sir! What regiment are you?" "The 4th Virginia.your ol' brigade.from the Valley. I've been wounded four times, General.but never so bad as this. I hope I'll soon be able to.to follow you agin." Thomas placed a hand to the boy's feverish head. "You are worthy of the old brigade, son, and with God's blessing, you shall return to it!...Doctor!! Doctor McGuire! Come here! And bring a stretcher!" Soon the Doctor and an aide were at their side. Thomas glared at his medical officer and pointed to the wounded boy. "God willing, this man shall be saved! You will take him to the rear and attend to him personally!" They lifted the boy onto the stretcher. He tried to speak, but sobs choked off the words as tears ran down his ashen cheeks. He and his general looked at each other in silence. No words were necessary. Preston Nuttall