The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

12 12 2008

A great clip of a pretty much perfect song from a superb film, The Last Waltz.  Written by a Canadian (Robbie Robertson), but given voice by a son of the south (Levon Helm), this song by The Band nails it – however you want to defne it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jREUrbGGrgM

Go here for a great discussion of the song by musicians and historians.

Saw the clip on Publius.  Check out his post.





Pelham Monument

10 12 2008

john-pelham

Before John Pelham (left) became “Gallant”, before he gained fame – and death, in March 1863 –  at the head of JEB Stuart’s horse artillery, he was a lieutenant in Capt. E. G. Alburtis’s Wise Artillery, attached to Col. Francis Bartow’s brigade of Johnston’s Army of the Shenandoah at First Bull Run.  By all indications, Capt. Alburtis was not with the battery on the day of the battle, and it was commanded by Pelham.  He wrote about his experience at the battle in this letter.

Here’s something interesting – below is the monument to Pelham in Anniston, AL (see here for more photos of the monument).  Anniston didn’t exist until after the war, but Pelham was born and is buried in nearby Jacksonville, AL. According to this site, the monument was erected on Quintard Ave in 1905.  There appear to be lots of things in Anniston named for the Pelham family.  What makes this so interesting to me is the fact that Anniston’s founder, who named the town for his daughter-in-law, Annie – Annie’s Town – Anniston, was none other than Daniel Tyler, Federal division commander at First Bull Run, likely one of the men Pelham was shooting at that day.

pelham-monument

UPDATE 12/11/2008: Being a slave to sounds, I was struck by the name of the street on which the Pelham monument sits.  Charles Todd Quintard was the chaplain of the First Tennessee Infantry (of which Sam Watkins’ Co. Aytch was a part), and later was Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee.  So, I sent the following to friend Sam Elliott – no, not the actor famous for his role as The Stranger in The Big Lebowski, but rather the author of Soldier of Tennessee and editor of Doctor Quintard, Chaplain C.S.A. and Second Bishop of Tennessee:

Quick question: Anniston, AL was founded after the war by former US BG Daniel Tyler.  There is a monument to John Pelham (from nearby Jacksonville) in Anniston, located on Quintard Ave.  Do you have any idea if this street, the “main drag” of Anniston, was named for Doctor Quintard?

To which Sam quickly replied:

To answer your question, I’ve always thought so. 

Wikipedia says of Anniston:     “In 1872, Anniston’s Woodstock Iron Company organized by Samuel Noble and Union Gen. Daniel Tyler (1799-1882), rebuilt a furnace on a much larger scale, as well as a planned community.”

According to Quintard, Noble was a “very dear friend” and, although a northerner, was with Quintard on Easter Sunday, 1865 in Columbus, Ga. when James Wilson and his 12,000 Spencer-armed Yankee cavalrymen stormed the city, and he actually secured a guard for Quintard and his family.  Quintard said Noble was in the area to secure cotton for the Federal government, which I thought was odd, since the area was still under CS control. 

Sam followed that up with this treat: 

Harry, here’s a freebie from Google on my Quintard book: 

Thanks, Sam!





Pelham’s Letter

9 12 2008

NPS historian and Civil War author extraordinaire John Hennessy stopped by to comment on the Pelham Letter.  Here’s his note:

Harry,

I have always felt that Pelham’s description of his feelings in battle, and his shame at having felt as he did, was one of the more vivid revelations about the human condition as it relates to combat. Clearly his reaction to battle was not universal. Is there something about the makeup of true warriors that in the moment renders battle appealing rather than horrific? I don’t know….

Thanks for sharing this….

And here’s my response:

John,

Yes, I found the letter striking for the same reason. I view his closing sentences as essentially a rationalization in light of what preceded them.

Thanks for stopping by – knowing you’re out there reading this stuff at least every now and again helps keep me honest!

The closing sentences to which I refer are these:

We are battling for our rights and our homes. Ours is a just war, a holy cause. The invader must meet the fate he deserves and we must meet him as becomes us, as becomes men.

What preceded them was Pelham’s description of the horrors of battle.

Any thoughts from my readers?





John Pelham’s Account of the Battle

8 12 2008

A letter from Lt. John Pelham to his father first appeared in the Jacksonville, AL Jacksonville Republican on August 8, 1861.  This excerpt appeared in the newsletter of the John Pelham Historical Association, The Cannoneer, Vol. 2, No.1 (see here)

MANASSAS JUNCTION,
July 23, ’61

I just write to let you know that we have had one of the most desperate battles ever fought on American soil. It was the most desperate — the enemy fought long and well, but victory is ours; it was a splendid victory too. Jeff Davis made his appearance on the field, just as the last of the Yankees were in full retreat. I was under a heavy fire of musketry and cannon for about seven hours, how I escaped or why I was spared a just God only knows. Rifle balls fell like hail around me. Shells bursted and scattered their fragments through my Battery — my horse was shot under me, but did not give out till the fight was almost over. I was compelled to take one of my Sergeant’s horses and ride through. At one time I dismounted and directed the guns — one of the gunners asked me to dismount and shoot the Federal’s flag down. I did so — you ought to have heard the cheers they gave me. I directed all my guns three or four times apiece. My men were cool and brave and made terrible havoc on the enemy. They fought better than I expected they would. The highest praise is due them. We shot down three U.S. flags and dislodged the enemy from several positions. I was complimented several times on the field of battle by general officers and a great many times after the battle was over by other officers.

You may want to know my feelings — I felt as cool and deliberate under the shower of lead and iron as if I had been at home by our fireside — I did not feel fear at any moment; I can’t see how I escaped — a merciful Providence must have been watching over us and our cause. We slept on our arms last night but were not disturbed. The battle began about 8 o’clock but did not become general until 10 o’clock. We fought desperately about 9 1/2 hours, but I was under fire only about 7 1/2 hours; the enemy attacked our left flank and then tried to turn it. We had to change our line of battle and fight them on their own ground.

We whipped old Scott on Sunday — his great fighting fortunate day on ground of their own choosing in open field. They poured down overwhelming numbers on us. I firmly believe they had three to our one — but I don’t know positively how many they had — certainly between 50,000 and 100,000 men. A great many prrisoners told us, they expected confidently to whip us here and then go to Richmond. We have got about 1000 prisoners and the cavalry are bringing them in continually. We took the celebrated Rhode Island battery of rifled cannon, also Sherman’s great battery of the same kind of guns — also the West Point battery that I have drilled with so often.

They say we have taken 90 pieces of Artillery — I have not seen all of them, but I have seen a great many. They had the best Artillery trains and equippage I ever beheld, but We have them now: I have no idea how many small arms we took, a great many. The victory was splendid and complete. Col. Forney’s Reg’t was not engaged — but the 4th Ala. Regt. was cut all to pieces. They fought desperately. The Col., the Lieut. Col., and Major were all shot down but neither of them are mortally wounded. I don’t know what the intention of our General is but I hope I will be able to write to you from Washington City before many weeks. Johnston’s forces were encamped at Winchester, but we all moved down here on getting a dispatch from Beauregard. We got here the evening before the fight — Beauregard repulsed them with considerable loss a few days ago.

I have seen what Romancers call glorious war. I have seen it in all its phases. I have heard the booming of cannon, and the more deadly rattle of musketry at a distance — I have heard it all nearby and have been under its destructive showers; I have seen men and horses fall thick and fast around me. I have seen our own men bloody and frightened flying before the enemy — I have seen them bravely charge the enemy’s lines and heard the shout of triumph as they carried the position. I have heard the agonizing shrieks of the wounded and dying — I have passed over the battle field and seen the mangled forms of men and horses in frightful abundance — men without heads, without arms, and others without legs. All this I have witnessed and more, till my heart sickens; and war is not glorious as novelists would have us believe. It is only when we are in the heat and flush of battle that it is fascinating and interesting. It is only then that we enjoy it. When we forget ourselves and revel in the destruction we are dealing around us. I am now ashamed of the feelings I had in those hours of danger. The whistling of bullets and shells was music to me, I gloried in it — it delighted and fascinated me — I feared not death in any form; but when the battle was won and I visited the field a change came over me, I see the horrors of war, but it is necessary: We are battling for our rights and our homes. Ours is a just war, a holy cause. The invader must meet the fate he deserves and we must meet him as becomes us, as becomes men.





Let it Snow

6 12 2008

Don’t attempt to adjust your computer screen.  We control the vertical.  We control the horizontal.  For all you Californians, that’s snow falling on Bull Runnings, courtesy of WordPress’s extras.  You guys out there get great big giant fake breasts, we here in Pittsburgh get snow.  I for one am glad for it, ’cause if it was the other way around shoveling my driveway would be a real bear.

Happy Holidays!





New Map

4 12 2008

I know I haven’t posted much here or in the Bull Run Resources about the fight at Blackburn’s Ford on July 18, 1861.  I’ll get to that eventually, I promise.  But for now, I have updated the Maps page with the below image of a map of that action drawn by E. Porter Alexander.  Check it out.  Thanks to Jim Burgess of Manassas National Battlefield Park for sending me the image from the Park’s archives. 

Recently some e-quaintances and I were discussing the position of Ayres’ (Sherman’s) Battery during the fight.  It would appear from Alexander’s perspective the battery was situated somewhat to the east of the ford, but it’s not clear from the map to which of Ayres’ positions Alexander was referring.

You can leave comments here or on the Maps page, but here is probably better.

alexander-map





Cool Stuff Coming Up

3 12 2008

A few neat developments here at Bull Runnings.  With the help of friends Robert Moore and Jonathan Soffe, I think we’ve ironed out some problems with the CSA and CSA artillery OOBs.  According to Jim Burgess at the Battlefield, one of these is a problem which has persisted at least since 1947!  At the same time I think we’ve solved a related problem in the Bull Run bible, R. M. Johnston’s Bull Run: Its Strategy and Tactics.

I made the changes, but think I’m going to revamp the Arty OOBs a little.

I’ll also share an E. Porter Alexander map of the action at Blackburn’s Ford Jim provided.








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