By Judith N. McArthur
In 1861, James B. Griffin left Edgefield, South Carolina and rode off to Virginia to take in responsibility 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 looking puppy. He was once thirty-five years previous, a filthy rich planter, and the landlord of sixty-one slaves whilst he joined Wade Hampton's elite Legion as an immense of cavalry. He left in the back of seven little ones, the eldest simply twelve, and a spouse who was once 8 and a part months pregnant. As a box officer in a prestigious unit, the possibilities for reputation and glory appeared unlimited. Griffin, even if, 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 enterprise management. In A Gentleman and an Officer, Judith N. McArthur and Orville Vernon Burton have accrued 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. awesome of their breadth and quantity, the letters surround Griffin's whole Civil struggle carrier, detailing residing stipulations and army maneuvers, the jockeying for place between officials, and the several methods officials and enlisted males interacted throughout the Civil struggle. not like the recollections and biographies of high-ranking, famous accomplice officials or reviews and edited collections of letters of individuals of the rank and dossier, this assortment sheds gentle at the lifetime of a center officer--a lifestyles became the other way up by means of severe army difficulty and complex additional by way of the continued want for reassurance approximately own valor and standing universal to males of the southern gentry. In those letters, Griffin describes mystery troop pursuits in quite a few army activities resembling the Hampton Legion's position within the Peninsula crusade (details that might definitely were censored in additional contemporary wars). right here he relates the march from Manassas to Fredricksburg, the siege of Yorktown and the retreat to Richmond, and the battling 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 so much awesome of occasions, he illuminates the main usual of daily matters. One may perhaps look forward to finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. in its place, we're faced by means of uncomplicated humanity and straightforward matters, from the elements to gossip. huge historic occasions intruded on Griffin's lifestyles and despatched him off to battle, yet his heartfelt concerns have been approximately his kinfolk, his group, and his personal own delight. eventually, Griffin's letters current the Civil battle because the refinery, the ordeal via fireplace, that demonstrated and verified--or modified--Southern upperclass values. With a desirable mix of army and social background, A Gentleman and an Officer strikes from the start of the Civil conflict at citadel Sumter throughout the finish of the warfare and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil warfare have been right away devastatingly nationwide and revealingly neighborhood.
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Additional resources for A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War
Emmett Seibels to Ed Seibels, 28 Nov. 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.
The "aristocrats" of backcountry Edgefield claimed descent from settlers from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina during the mid-eighteenth century. Their ancestors had participated in the Regulator Movement of 1767-69 and had fought as Whigs in the 62. For comparative and informative purposes, the reader is directed to published biographies and edited letters of other prominent Edgefieldians. , The Hammonds of Redcliffe (New York: Oxford Univ. , Secret and Sacred: The Diaries of ]ames Henry Hammond, a Southern Slaveholder (New York: Oxford Univ.
Griffin was totally disbelieving when his slave Abram ran away to enemy lines late in the spring of 1862. Although this occurred only a few weeks after what Griffin perceived as a "light flogging," he convinced himself that the Yankees had lured Abram away. 59 57. Hutson to Mother, 28 April 1862, Charles Woodward Hutson Papers, SHC. Hutson was from Charleston. 58. Emmett Seibels to Ed Seibels, 28 Nov. 1862, Seibels Family Papers, SCL. 59. Bell 1. Wiley in Southern Negroes, 1861-1865 (New Haven: Yale Univ.