THE OLD WAR HORSE
THE VOICE OF GENERAL JAMES LONGSTREET CAMP #1247, SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS
VOLUME 9, ISSUE 6, June, 2007
One of the many things I have learned since becoming involved with lineage organizations such as the SCV and SAR is that every one thinks that their ancestor is the most important individual in history. As far as the SCV goes, not everyone can be as fortunate as to be descended from Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart or James Longstreet. However, in an ideal family historian's world, each individual would have his or her just recognition in the historical spotlight. As your commander and total controller of this column, I have refrained from writing about my ancestors who I believe deserve their own chapters in America's history books. Currently there are four other Cowardins in our camp besides me who should find this month's "commander's comments" interesting. I hope the rest of you will find it interesting as well. Several months ago we were graced with the presence of Dr. Bob Kenzer from the University of Richmond. His topic was the "Richmond Dispatch Project" which has posted all of the issues of the Richmond Daily Dispatch published during the War of Northern Aggression on the Internet for everyone to see. During the war, the Dispatch was one of the most important newspapers in the country. Its circulation was the largest in Richmond and was rivaled by only one other newspaper in the south, that being in New Orleans. The Confederate government and military units used the publication regularly for announcements and public notices. Yankee spies smuggled the paper into the hands of Union army commanders particularly U.S. Grant who found the information in the paper quite useful. After the war, and a brief suspension of publication (due to the destruction of the printing offices and prohibition imposed by the occupying Federal forces) the Dispatch returned to is former glory as one of the best, if not the premier newspaper, of the south and the country. This month's commander's comments will concentrate on James Andrew Cowardin, the Dispatch's founder and one of the men who I rightly believe (as his descendant) deserves a more prominent place in our nation's history books. James was born in Bath County, Virginia on October 6, 1811. The family's homestead was located only a few miles from the Homestead Resort. The house in which he was born still stands today although it has been added to and modified several times since the family lived there in the early 1800s. Besides local lore and tradition, the only remaining evidence of our family's presence is a stream that originates on the old family property. To this day it is known as Cowardin Run and it flows into the Jackson River that in turn flows into the ancient Cowpasture River. James' father was a stonemason and his mother was a schoolteacher. Due to his father's occupation, the family moved around from county to county so he could work on masonry projects (a genealogist's nightmare). In 1813, just two years after James' birth the family was living in Amelia County. That year his father left the family for several months to fight in the county's militia defending Norfolk during the War of 1812. Just about all of James' siblings were born in different counties. There is no doubt that young James owed his success in life to his mother. A devout Baptist, she instilled in him a strong work ethic, and the love of learning, particularly reading and writing. There is evidence that the family struggled financially and at the age of 13, he was sent to work as an apprentice at the Roanoke Sentinel in Danville. He immediately fell in love with the newspaper business and evidently was good at it. At 16, he went to Lynchburg to work as the foreman for the Jeffersonian Republican, a staunch advocate of states rights and nullification. In 1832, the paper moved to Richmond and James followed,although the paper soon ceased publication. Out of work, James became the chief clerk to Thomas Ritchie, publisher of the Enquirer and one of the best newspapermen of the era. Ritchie became very fond of young Cowardin and did much to advance the young man's career. At the age of 19, James decided to put his experience to work by buying an interest in the Compiler, an ailing newspaper that was barely staying afloat but at the same time had the distinction of being the oldest daily newspaper at the time. He and his partner William H. Davis constantly struggled to keep the presses going but after 10 years they both realized that the paper just couldn't make it and they sold their interests. During this ten year period James met and married Anna Maria Purcell, the daughter of John B. Purcell, a successful Richmond druggist and co-owner of Purcell and Ladd, Co. Anna and James would go on to have seven children, three of whom would fight for the South during the war. Anna, being from a proud Irish Catholic family, made sure all here children were raised as good Catholics. One of their sons, William, would fight in the "Boy's Company" of the city guard and helped catch Dahlgren and prevent his infamous raid. After the war he became a Jesuit Priest and Cowardin Chapel at Georgetown University is named in his honor. James did not convert to Catholicism until his last days, allowing his son to perform the ceremonies. After selling his interest in the fledgling paper, James decided to try a new business. He entered into the world of banking with his brother-in-law, Charles Purcell. As his obituary stated: "Never was there a man more unsuited for the part." James was said to be too trusting and lacked the capacity to say "No" when it came to lending money. Seeing that he was not doing well in this line of work he began to look again at the newspaper business. The old saying "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" definitely rings true for James. In 1850, he and his old partner W. H. Davis decided to start a new paper, a paper that was different from all the rest, a newspaper called the Richmond Daily Dispatch. This paper was to be independent and dedicated strictly to news instead of politics and editorial rants. One of the greatest differences of this new paper from the rest in Richmond was that each issue would only cost a penny. This was the first penny paper to ever be published south of Baltimore. At first the paper struggled. The news world was just as politically charged then as it is now. Democrats subscribed to and advertised in the democratically slanted paper and the Whigs subscribed to and advertised in their designated paper. After a few months Davis lost hope and sold his interest to James. There was really no large demand for a neutral paper. This soon changed as the Dispatch got its foot in the door with good editorials and as the "penny paper" concept caught on. Soon its circulation grew to rival its competitors and before the war it surpassed those competitors and reached levels that rivaled those in larger cities like New Orleans, Washington D.C. and New York. In 1852, James was elected as a Whig to the Virginia House of Delegates to represent Richmond. This was as far as James went politically except in 1869 when he went to Washington to lobby for the end of Reconstruction in Virginia. In 1854, he helped organize the Virginia Mechanic's Institute which provided apprentice programs for the less fortunate citizens of the city. He was also a strong defender of slavery advocating the benefits of mixing slave and wage labor to build and improve the industries in Richmond. One time, wage workers at the Dispatch threatened to strike if they were made to work on Sundays. James retaliated with a threat to fire them all and replace them with slaves. This diffused the threat immediately. The Dispatch became pro-Confederate with the secession of South Carolina. Its editorials blasted Lincoln calling him "His Sable Excellency" and a "vulgar tycoon." As soon as Virginia seceded, it became one of the Confederate Government's most loyal supporters. The ravages of war did not spare the Dispatch as paper and ink became more and more scarce and expensive. The paper shrunk in size over the war years and the quality deteriorated. James did not serve in the military during the war. At the age of 50, he could do more damage with his pen than his sword. He was an honorary member of the Richmond Ambulance Corps using his contacts to arrange assistance in the form of food, clothing and money for wounded and captured Confederates in the North. He also accepted provisions from the North to give to Yankee prisoners. The Dispatch ceased publication in March of 1865 due to the fact that all its workers were impressed into the Confederate Army. When Richmond burned, the offices and presses of the Dispatch went with it. James took the Amnesty oath on July 1, 1865 and received a presidential pardon on July 13th. The paper resumed publication on December 9th 1865. From this point on, James never looked back. A diehard conservative Democrat, he and his paper fought against Radical Reconstruction and those who were involved with the federally imposed government. In 1869, he and eight other prominent individuals, a group known as the Committee of Nine, went to Washington to meet with officials to try and end reconstruction in Virginia and achieve a compromise on the new state constitution. In 1874, James helped to form the Virginia Press Association. He was elected president in 1876 and served two consecutive terms. In 1879 he suffered a stroke and was prevented from running the day-to-day operations of the paper due to the loss of feeling on his right side including his right hand. His wife, Anna, had died the year before from tuberculosis. Shortly after his stroke he traveled to Arkansas to the healing springs in hopes of finding relief. At first he showed signs of relief but they were only temporary. The last years of his life were spent at the healing springs in his native Bath County; waters which he believed from an early age (As a child he was cured from a serious illness by those same waters.) could perform miracles. He always loved the mountains of Bath and those were his some of the last sights he saw of this earth. He suffered another stroke in 1882 and was totally incapacitated. He was brought back to Richmond where he died on November 21, 1882 at his son, Charles' house. This house was on the block that is now occupied by the Media General building across the street from today's Richmond-Times Dispatch. James is buried in Hollywood Cemetery along with his wife and children. James was very well liked. He was one of the most widely known newspapermen of the time. A talented fiddler, quick witted and an excellent conversationalist, James was known for his warm personality and ability to throw a great party. Even in his older years he seemed to still be young at heart. Accounts from young newspapermen saying how their expectations of a strait-laced, old-fashioned Virginia Gentleman were shattered on their first meetings are numerous. Upon his death, tributes to James ran in newspapers all over the country. James' youngest son, Charles, took over the paper after his father's death and no doubt would have made his father proud. He continued to build the paper and expand its influence and circulation until his death in 1890. He also served as Chief of Staff to six Virginia Governors. After Charles' death the paper was merged with the Times and was from then on known as the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Hope to see you at the next meeting! Taylor
We welcome our newest member Will Akers, whose ancestor Sergeant Milton Hervey Vivion served in the 11th Kentucky "Chenault's" Cavalry. We plan to induct Will at our June 19 meeting. We extend get well wishes to Robert Mahone, who has been hospitalized recently. Our congratulations to Richard Campbell, who was sworn in as a Judge in Richmond's Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on May 10. Many thanks to Clint Cowardin, Lee Crenshaw, Ray Crews,, Gene Golden, Andy Keller, Lewis Mills, and Wally Scott for cleaning up the Longstreet Camp section of Studley Road (Route 606), Hanover County, near Enon Church. Particular thanks to Lewis who supervises this effort and to Lee for providing several pickup sticks, which prevent aching backs. Thanks also go to our May speaker Ed Harris, who donated his raffle winnings to our Buck Hurtt Scholarship Fund. We're scheduled to present a check on June 12 to the outstanding senior history student at Douglas S. Freeman High School as selected by the faculty. William H. "Buck" Hurtt, a private in the 26th Virginia Infantry who died in prison at the notorious Yankee prison camp at Elmira, New York, was the great grandfather of our late Camp Commander Chuck Walton. This scholarship award was Chuck's idea, and he made the first presentation in June 2003. Chuck died of a heart attack one month later, and we named the award after his Confederate ancestor in honor of both of them. Buck's surname is spelled with one "t" in the regimental history. When I challenged Chuck on his two "t" spelling, he said that his mother spelled it that way, and he wasn't going to contradict her. Not wishing to be haunted by Chuck's ghost, I now spell Hurtt with two t's. John Thompson, Sr. and his three sons have transferred their memberships to Captain Abner S. Boone Camp # 2094, of Tennessee. We wish them well in their new home camp. Several Camp members attended the Jefferson Davis Memorial Service June 2 at Hollywood Cemetery, where keynote speaker Bud Robertson gave a fine talk entitled "The Abiding Qualities of Jefferson Davis." Next year will be the 200th anniversary of Davis's birth. At the Davis ceremony Compatriot Keith Morris reported that the Virginia Division is only 65 applications shy of the number needed to have a Virginia license plate honoring Robert E. Lee. Keith handed out applications at the ceremony and received several completed applications with fees. Unlike the SCV plate, which is restricted to SCV members, anyone can apply for the Lee plate. Instructions are on the Virginia Division web site. I plan to bring some applications to our June 19 meeting for those Camp members not connected to the Internet who wish to apply for a Lee license plate. Please apply today to honor one of our greatest American heroes. If you applied previously and paid the fee, you do not need to apply again. A friend with a brilliant son once told me that the bright lad had one big problem, he believed everything that he read in a book. How dangerous! I'm currently reading an otherwise interesting book about the founding of the U. S. Navy entitled Six Frigates. The author states that DNA evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Thomas Jefferson was the father of Sally Hemings's children. The author obviously never read The Jefferson-Hemings Myth: An American Travesty, edited by Eyler Robert Coates, Sr. and published by The Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society. The author further states that James Madison was tutored at home (Montpelier, Orange County) by a Scottish tutor. According to Barbara Beigun Kaplan's Land and Heritage in the Virginia Tidewater: A History of King and Queen County, Madison's Scottish teacher, Donald Robertson, operated a fine private school near Newtown, King and Queen County, from 1758 until 1773. James Madison was a student at that school from 1758 until 1763. Madison once said of Robertson, "All that I have been in life, I owe largely to that man." James Madison was a grandson of John Madison and James Taylor, both of King and Queen. Several Longstreet Camp members have ancestors from King and Queen who served in the 26th Virginia Infantry, which had soldiers from Gloucester, Mathews, and King and Queen counties. Walter
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 MEETING STARTS AT 7:00 PM
Our speaker for this month is Fred Ray, author of Shock Troops of the Confederacy. Fred will present a program on sharpshooters in the War and their impact upon the waging of war. This is a subject that, to our knowledge, has not been covered before by any of our speakers and it should be prove to be very interesting. Be sure not to miss this program!
ED HARRIS Ed Harris of the Latane Camp opened his talk by asking us to name the eight full generals in the Confederate Army. Lee came immediately to mind. Ed helped us by naming Samuel Cooper as the least known. Camp members rattled off two Johnstons, Kirby Smith, and John Bell Hood. The last named were Beauregard and Bragg. Ed then told us that Hood's assignment to the Army of Northern Virginia wa a surprise to him, and that his Texas Brigade wanted to prove themselves worthy. The opportunity came June 27, 1862 at Gaines's Mill. The Confederates made several advances during the day without much success. In the afternoon Hood's Texas Brigade broke the Union line and led to a withdrawal by the Yankees. This battlefield success made "the gallant" Hood a popular figure in Richmond after the Seven Days Campaign. The next major action for Hood's Texans was Second Manassas August 1862. Hood's brigade went against the 5th New York and reduced that regiment from 550 to 90 men. At Sharpsburg on September 17, 1862 Hood's Division of 2,000 men knocked Yankee Joe Hooker's corps out of the battle. Hood's career as a Confederate general was at its zenith after this bloody fight. The next major action for Hood was Gettysburg. On July 2, 1963 Hood's repeated requests to Longstreet to change the direction of his attack to sweep behind the Round Tops were denied. Longstreet sent a messenger to Hood to tell him to attack as General Lee had ordered. As Hood's Division became engaged, an exploding shell above Hood sent fragments ranging through his left hand, forearm, elbow, and biceps. The wounded Hood rode in an ambulance with South Carolinian Wade Hampton. After several weeks in Staunton, Hood arrived in Richmond in early September. During this time Hood's infatuation with Sally "Buck" Preston, whom he had met previously, blazed. Mary Chesnut described Buck as the most beautiful lady in the South. Hood was sent to Chickamauga to serve with Longstreet. There he was shot in the leg, which had to be amputated. He received an artificial leg. In February 1864, Hood was sent to the Army of Tennessee, in which he became a corps commander under Joseph E. Johnston. On July 17 Jefferson Davis ordered Hood to replace Johnston as Commanding General of the Army of Tennessee. Hood felt that the way to defeat Sherman was to lead his Army into Tennessee, where the Yankees had two armies under John M. Schofield and Virginian George H. Thomas. Hood's attacks against Schofield at Franklin and against Thomas at Nashville were disasters. Hood led his battered army to Mississippi. On January 23, 1865, his resignation was accepted by General Beauregard. On the way to Richmond, he stopped in Columbia, South Carolina for a visit with the Prestons and a reunion with Sally. Nothing came of this. After writing his report in Richmond, Hood was ordered to proceed to Texas. He surrendeded to Yankee authorities May 31, 1865 in Natchez. After The War, he settled in New Orleans. After an unsuccessful venture in the cotton business, he entered the insurance business. That fared no better. He married Anna Maria Hennen, and they had eleven children in ten years. For those of you doing the math, there were three sets of twins. In August 1879, Anna died of yellow fever, followed by Hood six days later. Their oldest daughter died five hours after John Bell Hood. The ten orphaned children were adopted by seven different families. Sam Watkins, author of Company Aytch, described Hood as a good man. Hood's autobiography is entitled Advance and Retreat. Reporter's note: Advance and Retreat is in the Library of Virginia in book form and in the Henrico County Library as an E book. Also in the Henrico Library are The Gallant Hood (321 pp.), by John P. Dyer and John Bell Hood and the War for Southern Independence (203 pp.), by Richard M. McMurry. Numbers of pages do not include footnotes.
2005-2007 CAMP OFFICERS LONGSTREET CAMP #1247Commander: Taylor Cowardin 359-9277 1st. Lt. Cmdr.: William F. Shumadine, III 285-4044 2nd Lt. Cmdr.: Michael Kidd 270-9651 Adjutant/Treasurer: Walter Tucker 360-7247 Judge Advocate: Richard B. Campbell 278-6488 Quartermaster: R. Preston Nuttall 276-8977 Chaplain: Henry V. Langford 474-1978
PUBLICATIONSWebmaster: Gary F. Cowardin 262-0534 Website: longstreetscv.org War Horse: David P. George 200-1311
The following is a cumulative listing of contributors to the upkeep of “The Old War Horse” for the period September, 2007 through the current month. As you know, our cumulative listing starts in July of each year. Ben Baird Lloyd Brooks Brian Cowardin* Clint Cowardin* Gary Cowardin Lee Crenshaw* Raymond Crews* Jerold Evans* Kitty Faglie* Richard Faglie* Dave George Pat Hoggard Louis Heindl Chris Jewett John Kane Roger Kirby Mike Miller* Conway Moncure Joe Moschetti Preston Nuttall Rufus Sarvay Lewis Mills Waite Rawls Peyton Roden Bill Setzer John Shumadine Will Schumadine Harrison Taylor Walter Tucker* John Vial Will Wallace David Ware Harold Whitmore Hugh Williams Joe Wright In Memory of Bill Jones-Anonymous In memory of Tom Lauterbach-Anonymous In Memory of Chuck Walton-Ben Baird Legend: * - Multiple contributions § - Visitor Donation + - in memory of Past Cmdr. Tom Lauterbach
Longworth's Philosophy Fill what's empty. Empty what's full. And scratch where it itches. Alice Roosevelt Longworth The number of people watching you is directly proportional to the stupidity of your action. Remember: In America it's not how much the item costs, it's how much you save. The only way to prevent getting food on your necktie is to put it in the refrigerator.