By Judith N. McArthur
In 1861, James B. Griffin left Edgefield, South Carolina and rode off to Virginia to soak up accountability with the accomplice military in a mode that befitted a Southern gentleman: on a fine-blooded horse, with slaves to attend on him, trunks, and his favourite searching puppy. He used to be thirty-five years previous, a filthy rich planter, and the landlord of sixty-one slaves while he joined Wade Hampton's elite Legion as an immense of cavalry. He left in the back of seven kids, the eldest in basic terms twelve, and a spouse who was once 8 and a part months pregnant. As a box officer in a prestigious unit, the possibilities for repute and glory appeared unlimited. Griffin, besides the fact that, played no bold acts, nor did he encourage nice loyalty in his males. in its place, he unknowingly supplied a special and worthwhile portrait of the accomplice officials who shaped the middle of Southern political, army, and company management. In A Gentleman and an Officer, Judith N. McArthur and Orville Vernon Burton have amassed 80 of Griffin's letters written on the Virginia entrance, and through later postings at the South Carolina coast, to his spouse Leila Burt Griffin. remarkable of their breadth and quantity, the letters surround Griffin's whole Civil struggle provider, detailing residing stipulations and armed forces maneuvers, the jockeying for place between officials, and the various methods officials and enlisted males interacted throughout the Civil struggle. not like the memories and biographies of high-ranking, famous accomplice officials or experiences and edited collections of letters of individuals of the rank and dossier, this assortment sheds gentle at the lifetime of a center officer--a existence became the wrong way up through severe army problem and complex additional by way of the ongoing desire for reassurance approximately own valor and standing universal to males of the southern gentry. In those letters, Griffin describes mystery troop pursuits in a number of army activities resembling the Hampton Legion's function within the Peninsula crusade (details that will definitely were censored in additional contemporary wars). the following he relates the march from Manassas to Fredricksburg, the siege of Yorktown and the retreat to Richmond, and the scuffling with at Eltham's touchdown and 7 Pines, the place Griffin commanded the legion after Hampton used to be wounded. all through, as Griffin recounts those such a lot notable of occasions, he illuminates the main usual of day by day matters. One may perhaps look forward to finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. in its place, we're faced through easy humanity and easy matters, from the elements to gossip. huge historic occasions intruded on Griffin's existence and despatched him off to battle, yet his heartfelt concerns have been approximately his kinfolk, his group, and his personal own satisfaction. finally, Griffin's letters current the Civil struggle because the refinery, the ordeal via fireplace, that proven and verified--or modified--Southern upperclass values. With a desirable mix of army and social historical past, A Gentleman and an Officer strikes from the start of the Civil warfare at citadel Sumter in the course of the finish of the warfare and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil warfare have been immediately devastatingly nationwide and revealingly neighborhood.
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Additional info for A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War
1862, Seibels Family Papers, SCL. 59. Bell 1. Wiley in Southern Negroes, 1861-1865 (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1953), 134-38, 142-43, has useful information on enslaved people at the front. According to Wiley, in 1861 numerous "elite" slaves went to the front with their masters, but as the war became more difficult in 18621863, many were sent home to assist with crops and farm work. The duties performed by these slaves included barbering, errand running, cooking, cleaning, procuring extra food, and generally anything the master did not want to do.
32 Religion was central to culture in Edgefield, as in the rest of the rural South. ," The Proceedings of the South Carolina Historical Association, 1987 (Aiken: South Carolina Historical Association, 1988), 23-32. 31. Burton, "In My Father's House Are Many Leaders," and Burton, In My Father's House Are Many Mansions, 4-7. 32. Lacy K. Ford, Origins of Southern Radicalism: The South Carolina Upcountry, 1800-1860 (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1988), 5-7; Burton, In My Father's House Are Many Mansions, 19.
Christened their sons Burt Butler and Pickens Butler. Common ancestors showed up in the naming patterns of related branches on a family tree: Stanmore Butler, born before the Revolution, reappeared in the names of antebellum Lipscomb cousins, Stanmore Butler Brooks and Stanmore Butler Griffin. Griffin, who was named for his father and maternal grandfather, followed tradition in christening his own children. Each child had at least one name of an ancestor, and most had two. James William (Willie) was given the names of his father, uncle, grandfather, and great uncle.
A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War by Judith N. McArthur