NEWSLETTER - JAN 2023

CIVIL WAR ROUND TABLE OF GREATER KINGSTON

Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Meets at The Seniors Centre, Francis St.
All meetings begin at 7:30 p.m.; Visitors are always welcome.


Major General William Mahone, CSA
"A Little Man Leaves a Huge Footprint"

by Bill Cookman

12 January, 2023

Mahone, William

We maintain the tradition (and for some years, logic) of holding our September
and January meetings on the 2nd Thursday of the month: in 2023, that's the 12th.

Seniors Centre, in the AV room, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Masks are not required but distancing practices should be respected.



PROGRAMS 2022 - 2023
Sep 8 Lloyd Therien The Battle of Ream's Station: a Different Perspective
Oct 6 Dave Dorward History of the 8th Wisconsin and Old Abe,
and a Surprising Canadian Connection
Nov 3 Peter and Michelle Clarabut Food and Ration Supplies in the Civil War
Dec 1 Rod Holloway From Reconciliation to Revenge: Changes in the
Manner in Which the American Civil War Was Fought
Jan 12 Bill Cookman Major General William Mahone, CSA
A Little Man Leaves a Huge Footprint
Feb 2 Cheryl Wells Daughters of the Confederacy and the
Reconstruction of the Confederate Nation
Mar 2 Bruce Cossar An Environmental History of the Civil War
Apr 6 Ross Cossar War Gaming the Civil War
May 4 Gord Sly Newspapers, Magazines and Literary Works During The Civil War
Jun 1 Robert Conner Abolition as a Union Aim


Last Month's Program:

From Reconciliation to Revenge:
Changes in the Manner in Which the Civil War was Fought

By Rod Holloway

1 December 2022

Longtime member Rod Holloway was our featured speaker when the Civil War Round Table of Greater Kingston gathered for our last meeting of the year on December 1, 2022. Rod's chosen topic was the Union conduct of the Civil War; specifically, how the North's military policy towards the South changed over time, evolving from an initial conciliatory stance based on a desire not to inflame the national crisis following secession and the formation of the Confed-eracy, to the dogged, attritional warfare that characterized the latter stages of the war as the Union sought to stamp out the last stubborn embers of the rebellion.

As Rod explained, the course of a war will often develop over time as political leaders revise their goals and adopt new strategies to meet the changing circumstances of the conflict. Rod referred to the current war in Ukraine as a classic example. Putin's expected one-week walkover has now, one year later, degenerated into a prolonged struggle with no end in sight. The Civil War was no exception to this rule. The war that many people North and South expected would end as soon as their opponents had a taste of battle ended up dragging on for over four years and only concluded after the South had felt the full impact of the North's superiority in resources and generalship. As a major source for his talk, Rod used the 1995 book by Mark Grimsley, "The Hard Hand of War".

The election of Abraham Lincoln as President in November 1860 was interpreted by Southern firebrands as a signal that Northern abolitionists had come to power in Washington and were about to begin the dismantling of slavery. In response, the states of the Deep South began seceding from the Union and forming their own country, the Confederate States of America. When President Lincoln came to take the oath of office in January 1861, he was anxious to calm the fears and suspicions which had led to the national crisis. Rod quoted from Lincoln's first inaugural address in which the President addressed Southern slaveholders as follows:

"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

As Rod explained, rather than adopting a threatening, confrontational approach towards the Confederacy's leaders, Lincoln hoped to reverse the drift towards open war by clarifying his position on slavery. He endeavoured to persuade Southerners that his main goal was to restore the Union, not destroy their slave economy. Indeed, Lincoln pledged to uphold the Constitution and maintain slavery where it currently existed.

Rod pointed out that the roots of Lincoln's conciliatory policy towards the South in 1861 could be traced to the conduct of the American army under General Winfield Scott during the Mexican War of 1846-48. At that time, said Rod, General Scott encouraged the officers of his army occupying Mexico City to behave respectfully towards the civilian population. Mexicans would already be hostile towards their American invaders, but Scott hoped to avoid provoking them to retaliation or guerilla warfare by doing his best to keep his soldiers under strict control.

Scott's strategy of seeking to implement government policy to restore the Union through measures that did not rely on violence and bloodshed were apparent during the early phase of the Civil War when he held the position of General-in-Chief of the U.S. Army. As Rod pointed out, Scott's famous Anaconda Plan was designed to use a naval and military blockade to isolate the South diplomatically and subdue it through financial pressure by cutting it off from international markets. Such a policy was consistent with the goal of the Lincoln administration to end the rebellion of the slave states without recourse to a bloody decision on the battlefield.

But events soon began to cast doubt on the efficacy of the North's conciliatory attitude towards the Confederacy. The firing on Fort Sumter in April 1861, Rod said, demonstrated that Southerners were deaf to Lincoln's rhetoric. Lincoln's calling of 75,000 volunteers to defend the Union further fanned the flames of war. The Battle of First Manassas in July was evidence that both sides were willing to fight, not just palaver, in defense of their vision of the nation's future.

Defectors from Lincoln's 'soft war' stance began to step forward in the Northern public press and in Congress. Rod referred to radical Republicans Thaddeus Stevens, Benjamin Wade, and William P. Fessenden as members of Lincoln's party who began advocating for the sterner measures of a 'hard war' against the South, not just to restore the Union but to eradicate slavery.

At this stage in the war, however, Lincoln was still reluctant to antagonize Southerners by any direct attacks upon slavery. When his first Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, issued a press release espousing the freeing of the slaves, Lincoln ordered all copies to be confiscated and destroyed.

Meanwhile, the war continued. One of General Scott's subordinate officers during the Mexican War was George B. McClellan. McClellan agreed with Scott's policy of taking a humane approach towards the enemy's civilian population and made it part of his own strategic planning when he took over from Scott as Commander-in-Chief after First Manassas. As Rod explained, McClellan believed the majority of Americans were fundamentally loyal to the Union and in favour of a compromise solution to the national crisis. He blamed the outbreak of civil war on a minority of radical abolitionists in the North and firebrand slaveholders in the South.

When McClellan finally began his Peninsula Campaign against Richmond in March of 1862, his military operations were characterized by a slow, cautious approach and a reliance on siege warfare techniques that gave the impression of telegraphing his intentions to the enemy, giving them the opportunity to get out of the way. McClellan's desire to avoid needless bloodshed may have been commendable on humanitarian grounds, but as Rod said, his tentative generalship of the Army of the Potomac stood in stark contrast to reports coming from General U.S. Grant operating with an army and a naval flotilla on the western waters of Kentucky and Tennessee. There was nothing conciliatory about Grant's message to Confederate General Buckner demanding the surrender of Fort Donelson: "No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works."

By now, there was a growing impatience in the North with the apparent kid glove approach towards the Confederacy. The hard war faction in Congress began to attract more recruits, and Rod pointed to the example of Senator Lyman Trumbull who proposed a Confiscation Act to allow for the seizure of any property, including enslaved people, from Southerners supporting the Confederacy. The Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War convened meetings with Union commanders to scrutinize their conduct in the field and ensure their 'hard war' credentials.

Rod also explained that, as Union armies began advancing southwards into Confederate territory, they came face-to-face with Southerners' openly hostile and with unrepentant attitudes towards the Lincoln administration and the North in general. These people seemed immune to any soft words or blandishments to live again under Old Glory. Many Union officers came to agree that, since the purpose of the Confederacy was to defend slavery, the only way to defeat the South and end the war was to abolish slavery. Thus, as Rod said, General David Hunter in May 1862 issued an order freeing slaves in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. President Lincoln immediately cancelled the order for fear of driving more border state Southerners into the Confederate fold, but within six months Lincoln was prepared to issue his own Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery as a means of striking against the South's war-making capability.

Rod cited other Union commanders who agreed with Hunter that it was high time for the South to feel the hard hand of war. In the Eastern Theatre, for example, General John Pope took command of the Army of Virginia in July 1862 announcing to his troops that he intended to prosecute the war vigorously against the enemy. Out west, there was the Russian-born Colonel John Basil Turchin who commanded a brigade in General Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio in the spring of 1862.

In some detail, Rod described how Buell's troops in northern Alabama were frequently subjected to attacks by roving bands of rebel partisans and bushwhackers who often avoided detection by disguising themselves as members of the local civilian population. Colonel Turchin and his men became increasingly frustrated and angry, not only with the Confederate raiders but also with their commanding general, as Buell had issued orders that Alabama civilians were to be treated with all due consideration.

On May 2, 1862 Colonel Turchin and his men rode into the town of Athens to inflict retribution. The Colonel told his men he would close his eyes for two hours during which time they were free to seek their revenge. Accordingly, Turchin's troopers diligently ransacked the town, plundering homes and businesses in the process.

Buell ordered Turchin to be court-martialed and cashiered from the army in disgrace, but the Colonel's family and friends interceded with Secretary of War Stanton in Washington, and Turchin was actually promoted to brigadier general. This was done with Lincoln's approval, signally the President's growing abandonment of his previous conciliatory policy towards the South, which would culminate when the Emancipation Proclamation came into effect on January 1, 1863.

There were other practitioners of a 'hard war' policy, said Rod, most notably General William Tecumseh Sherman. His destructive march against Meridian, Mississippi in early 1864 is usually considered to be a dress rehearsal for his later more famous march through Georgia from Atlanta to the Sea in November-December of that same year.

Rod's conclusion was that the resort to a 'hard war' policy on the part of the North was inevitable if the Union was ever to be restored and slavery abolished. In light of Southerners' intransigence and their willingness to fight so fiercely in defense of slavery, the chances that a more patient and conciliatory approach would ever have achieved the same final victory for the North seem slim to none.

Editor: Tom Brzezicki


156 Years Later, Ulysses S. Grant Could Get One Last Promotion
(Article provided by both Pete Clarabut and Lloyd Therien from military.com)


General Ulysses S. Grant at Cold Harbor
(Edgar Guy Fowx photo courtesy of Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons)

A soldier with broken time as a result of his love of bourbon whiskey could soon become the third man to hold the rank of General of the Armies.

The proposed fiscal 2023 James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act would let President Joe Biden posthumously promote Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who retired with the rank of General of the Army to General of the Armies -- a rank only held by Gen. George Washington, posthumously, and Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing of World War I fame.

Grant became the country's first four-star general in 1866. For the past year, members of Congress have worked to promote the general to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth on April 27, 1822.

Lawmakers wrote Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in April asking that he review Grant's military record and report to Congress his thoughts on the merits of a posthumous promotion.

"Ulysses S. Grant was an incredible leader who proved himself to be one of the most influential military commanders America has ever seen," Wagner said in an April press release marking Grant's birthday this year. "His leadership held our nation together at a perilous time in history." [Wagner is a Representative of Missouri (Republican).]

An Ohio native, Grant, whose ancestors fought in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, received a nomination to West Point in 1839 and graduated in 1843 as a second lieutenant, assigned to the infantry. He first saw combat in 1846 against Mexico near what is now Brownsville, Texas, and excelled throughout the Mexican-American War as a quartermaster and in combat.

Promoted to captain in 1853, Grant was assigned to California, where, away from his family, he began to drink -- reportedly favoring Old Crow bourbon -- and was reprimanded on several occasions, leading to his eventual resignation.

After the first shots of the Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861, however, Grant requested to be recommissioned. He served as a military aide to the governor of Illinois and established 10 regiments in the Illinois militia, earning a promotion to colonel and a command. The rest is history: the first major Union victory in Cape Girardeau, Missouri; wins at Shiloh, Chattanooga and Vicksburg; but also disastrous losses at Cold Harbor and Petersburg, Virginia.

After accepting Confederate Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, Grant remained in the Army, eventually entering politics and ascending to the presidency in 1869. While his administration had its share of scandals, and he made a series of poor choices in domestic and foreign policy, Grant also was known for instituting laws that provided rights for Black Americans, as well as policies that sought to destroy groups including the Ku Klux Klan.

After two terms, plagued by dissent and opposition, Grant elected not to run for a third term, although he later would try again. He died of cancer at age 63 in 1885. Grant traditionally has ranked as one of the worst American presidents, but his reputation has improved in the past several decades in part due to a re-examination by biographers that cast new light on his military leadership style and victories, accomplishments as a leader and his abilities to settle disputes.

UCLA Professor Emeritus Joan Waugh is among the historians who has delved into Grant's personality and legacy. Her book, "U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth," is considered one of the top retrospectives of Grant's life.

"I am hoping that [the bill] passes," Waugh said in an email to Military.com. "I agree with Prof. Anne Marshall's [executive director of the Grant Presidential Library] assessment of this delayed promotion as not only recognizing his generalship but also his leadership in trying to secure civil rights for the freed people during Reconstruction."

The House passed the defense policy bill 8 Dec 2022, and the Senate is expected to approve the measure in the coming weeks. It will be up to Pres. Biden to determine whether to grant Grant a new rank.

It took Washington 195 years to be promoted posthumously to the rank of General of the Armies; his promotion was formalized on March 13, 1978, and backdated to July 4, 1976, to commemorate the Bicentennial.

"Grant's exemplary leadership on the battlefield could only be overshadowed by his commitment to a more just nation for all Americans during the Reconstruction Era. I'm proud to recognize President Grant's many accomplishments with this resolution as we plan a bicentennial celebration honoring his service 200 years after his birth in Point Pleasant, Ohio," Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said in a press release in September introducing the legislation.


FROM THE DESK OF THE SECRETARY

It is not too late to recall a Christmas song, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day". "America's Poet" Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on that very holiday in 1863. The lines, which were first set to music in 1872, reflect a new wellspring of hope discovered as he watched his son's recovery from a wound received a month earlier. Nine months earlier his son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, snuck away from home and enlisted in the Federal army in Washington, D.C. The younger Longfellow excelled in his training and received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry in time to take part in the Chancellorsville campaign. He was ill during the Gettysburg campaign but returned to duty in the fall of 1863.

While at dinner on December 1, 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow received a tele-gram. His son had been severely wounded in a skirmish on November 27, 1863. [Ed. likely the Mine Run Campaign]. A bullet entered Charles' left shoulder, passing through his back and clipping the spine before exiting the under the right shoulder blade. The elder Longfellow immediately set out for Washington, arriving there on December 3. After two more days of waiting, Charles arrived by train in the nation's capital. According to the poet, "[t]he army surgeon who came with the wounded alarmed me by saying that his duty to himself and to me required him to say that the wound was very serious one and paralysis might ensue." That evening, three more surgeons gave another more favorable report. Charles "will be long in healing," but it will be at least six months before he can return to the service. In fact, though Charles survived his wound, his military career was over. In summarizing the ordeal to a friend, Henry Longfellow wrote, "I have been through a great deal of trouble and anxiety." This "trouble and anxiety" is evident in the lines of the poem, "Christmas Bells"-the basis for this popular Christmas carol.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Preserving the property adjacent to the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble (PPT) Charge: Some of you might remember the motel on Pettigrew's left flank: "Home Sweet Home". Well, this was acquired and demolished many years ago but next in line, to the north, is a restaurant and theatre: General Pickett's Buffet and the Tour Center: Battle Theater. The 8th Ohio formed its line on this property, facing south and the flank of Pettigrew's Division and Trimble's demi-division (2 brigades). It was in this field that Trimble was badly wounded, captured and imprisoned eventually on Johnson Island, Lake Erie.

This is how the Trust describes the property: "This land, while just over half an acre in size, was offered to the Trust by the current owner who wanted to see it preserved, instead of selling it for development!" This was written in November expressing the hope that the $550,000 needed in the next few weeks to close the gap and match the more than $1 million that is on the table, or we could lose a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Stay tuned - next month, we'll know!

EXECUTIVE - 2022-23
President Gord Sly  foxysly012@gmail.com  613-766-9944
Vice-President Cheryl Wells  19cheryl.wells@gmail.com  1-613-246-0733
Past President Bill Cookman   williamcookman@gmail.com  613-532-2444
Treasurer Lloyd Therien     613-546-0278
Sec - Archivist Paul Van Nest  pvannest@cogeco.ca  613-532-1903
Program Bill Cookman  williamcookman@gmail.com  613-532-2444
Webmaster Paul Van Nest  pvannest@cogeco.ca  613-532-1903


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