Southern Historical Society Papers

7 04 2009

I’ve set up this page as an index for Bull Run related articles in the Southern Historical Society Papers.  As I post the articles here I’ll link them to the index, as well as to the OOBs.

I don’t have hard copies of the SHSP, so I won’t be able to check the articles that I pull from disc for accuracy (typos, etc…).  So if you see any mistakes, please don’t hesitate to let me know via the comments feature on each post.

McDowell’s Stuff

3 04 2009

mcdowellIrvin McDowell remains a murky figure.  Probably the biggest obstacle in learning more about the man is the fact that his personal correspondence and records, what are most commonly referred to as “papers”, were destroyed or otherwise lost after his death.  But while it’s generally accepted that fellow Union general George Thomas destroyed his own papers to prevent the “hawking” of his story, nobody is really sure what happened to McDowell’s stuff.

One of the first studies of Bull Run that I read, R. M. Johnston’s still essential Bull Run: Its Strategy and Tactics (1913), contains this tantalizing tidbit:

I was long in hopes of getting access to some papers left by General McDowell which are said to contain information of importance as to his relations with the authorities at Washington; unfortunately, I was unable to persuade those who have charge of them to let me see them.

Note that Johnston didn’t write that he had heard the papers might exist, or that he was unable to track down or contact the owners, but rather that he knew where they were and who had them, and was denied access.  It sure sounds like there was something out there in 1913.  Where is it now?  Does the answer lay amid Johnston’s own papers, wherever they may be?  Does it lie in other collections, like those of fellow Ohio general and assassinated President James A. Garfield, who named a son after McDowell?  Or perhaps in those of his friends the Chase family, also of Ohio?  Or maybe someplace as mundane as the records of the San Francisco Dept. of Parks and Recreation  (McDowell served as Park Commissioner for the city between his retirement from the army in 1882 and his death in 1885)?

Maybe someday I’ll get an email from some distant McDowell or Garfield or Chase relative, or from some clerk in San Francisco’s city hall, or some archivist somewhere, telling me they have a steamer trunk labeled “Maj. Gen. McDowell” and loaded with old letters and dispatches and diaries and memoirs.  It’s happened before – not to me, but it’s happened.

June 2009 Civil War Times

2 04 2009

cwt609I think it’s official: Civil War Times has retaken its place as the preeminent general Civil War history magazine (Blue & Gray is a different animal).  This month’s issue includes three great pieces on Glory, still far and away the best Civil War film ever made: Gary Gallagher’s thoughts on the movie 20 years later; an interview with actor Andre’ (Thomas Searles) Braugher; and an article on Medal of Honor recipient William Carney of the 54th MA.  See here for a clip from the movie.  Looks like the clip has been removed from YouTube.  Sorry.

alAlso in this issue is a fine, scholarly article by Ethan Rafuse on George McClellan’s Whig roots and how they  affected his relationship with Lincoln.  No footnotes, but come on, who really reads the notes in a magazine article?  Stephen Budiansky has an article on the 7th Cavalry during Reconstruction; there’s a bit on the Gettysburg Cyclorama; Ernest Fergurson writes on Lincoln’s sense of humor; and Harold Holzer takes a look at an 1860 full-length photo of the future Emancipator.

Good goin’, CWT!

Notes on Kite Letter

1 04 2009

Notes on M. V. B. Kite, 33rd VA, on the Death of His Brother, 10th VA, by contributor Robert H. Moore, II:

By far, First Manassas (July 21, 1861) was the single worst day in the history of military casualties for Page County; the county losing more killed and wounded in that single day than any other before, during, or after the Civil War. Among those who fell was John William Kite (born ca. 1838), a son of David B. and Marie Kauffman Kite. John W. Kite enlisted in June 1861 with Capt. William T. Young’s Page Volunteers, a company that subsequently became Co. K of the Tenth Virginia Infantry. Two of John’s other brothers, Alfred Melton Kite and Martin Van Buren Kite enlisted in Rev. Rippetoe’s Page Grays (later Co. H, Thirty-third Virginia Infantry). The letter describes part of the events of the battle, as described by Martin to his sister Eliza (later the wife of Noah Rowe). Incidentally, since the two companies were not immediately fighting alongside each other during the battle, it can be understood why information conveyed to Martin on the battlefield was not immediate or necessarily accurate. The account was originally published in the 1920s in the “Richmond Missourian.”

Martin Van Buren Kite’s service was short-lived as well. Sent home sick in October 1861, by January 1862, he was detailed as a nurse at a Lynchburg hospital and there remained for most of the rest of his service. Alfred M. Kite also survived the war.

M. V. B. Kite, Co. H, 33rd VA, on the Death of His Brother, 10th VA

1 04 2009

From contributor Robert H. Moore, II – this account was originally published in the 1920s in the Richmond Missourian:

Mr. C.C. Rowe, of Fleming, Mo., this county, furnishes The Missourian a copy of a letter of historic interest. The message, here printed practically complete, was written to Miss Eliza Jane Kite of Honeyville, Virginia [Miss Eliza Jane Rowe, of Fleming, Missouri, who died on December 28, 1913, aged over 80 years] written by Mr. Martin Van Buren Kite, her brother, just after the Battle of Bull Run, which was fought near Manassas Station, at the opening of the Civil War. Mr. Martin Van Buren Kite and his brother, John William Kite, who was killed in that battle, were gallant Confederate soldiers. The remarkable letter from the battle field of Bull Run is as follows:

“Well Sis, I guess you have been looking to hear something about Willie.

I am sorry to say I did not get to him until he was wounded – and then he was so weak he could scarcely talk.

Poor fellow he was shot through the body, the ball entering his right side and coming out on his left.

From what I can learn he was shot about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. He fell by the side or very near Trenton Graves. He and several others ran to his assistance to see if he was much hurt. He told them to never mind him and let him lie there for he was going to die.

He asked Trenton to give him a drink of water – and while Trenton was stooping, so that he could drink a ball passed through Trenton’s knee which they say gave him a very bad wound.

From the very time Willie was shot he never ceased praying until he died.

He inquired for me a half dozen times.

The reason I did not get to see him any sooner was that the news came to me he was shot dead on the field. I then pacified myself the best I could.

Later in the evening I heard he was not dead but very low. I then rushed to find him. I spoke to him and he knew me and held out his hand to me. I asked him where he was shot – he told me through the side. I asked him if he suffered much, he said ‘no’ but he was going to die.

I then told him to give himself up to God, pray to God to save him.

He said he had been praying all day. He told me I must be a good boy and meet him in Heaven. I got so full and my feelings were so hurt, I walked away so that he might not hear or get disturbed from my crying.

Oh, it is hard to see a dear brother die and no one else to shed a tear for him.

I thought in my heart it would kill me at first, but I am getting in better spirits now. Now, don’t you all mourn after him for I believe he is at rest; he has fought with a brave heart in defence of his country. Oh may he be at rest in heaven now.

I had him moved that evening to the nearest house where I had him buried in the best manner I could. I had him put in a box, the best I could get. I then had his grave dug in a particular place in a garden where I may recognize the spot as long as I live.

See notes here.

Notes on Co. K, 10th VA Memoir

1 04 2009

Notes on Co.K, 10 VA in the Campaign, from contributor Robert Moore:

Casualties of Co. K, (“Page Volunteers”) at First Manassas


John Ambrose Comer

James H. Gaines [the soldier who did the rooster imitation]

John W. Kite [“his dying words were ‘Boys, I am gone, go ahead, save the country!’”]


Lt. Daniel T. Fagan

Cpl. Trenton O. Graves [seriously wounded in the knee while in the act of giving a dying comrade (John W. Kite) a drink of water]

James H. Cubbage [wounded in left thigh, later discharged]

[John W. Kite is a distant – 1st cousin, 6 times removed – relative of mine. Also, the photocopy I have of this account becomes poor at the end, but it appears that the author’s initials are either B.C.B. or R.C.B. If R.C.B., this would be Robert C. Bragonier, a native of Shepherdstown, Va/WV and member of Company C, not Co. K. Nonetheless, he was quite familiar with the men of Co. K and resided in Page a good part of his life after the war and was a member of the Rosser-Gibbons Camp, UCV in Luray. He died in Luray in 1904 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Shepherdstown.]


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 849 other followers