Nathan Evans

6 03 2014

For more on Evans, see here and here.





Reference Library: Biographical

20 09 2013

I often receive inquiries regarding books – recommendations, suggestions, questions, criticisms. I don’t know if this is because I’ve published quite a few, mostly quantitative reviews/previews both here and in print, or because in some circles I’m thought to own a lot of the little rascals myself (my current count of Civil War books is just over 2,100, which is a lot to some of you, not so many to others, and just-plain-silly to most.) So I thought it might be helpful to those interested to give a little insight into what’s on my shelves – particularly my reference shelves, the ones to which I turn most often. I’ll just list them here with no comment, but know that some are better than others. If you have any comments or questions regarding these volumes, or have any suggestions for possible additions – my wife will likely hunt you down and kill you, slowly and painfully – feel free to use the comments section below. Let’s start here with Biographical Reference works:

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Elizabeth Blair Lee

14 11 2010

 The author of this letter in the Resources section, Elizabeth Blair Lee (left, 1818-1906) was the daughter of Francis  Preston Blair, middle sister of Montgomery and Frank Blair, and wife of Union naval officer Samuel Phillips (Phil) Lee (right, 1812-1897).  These portraits were done by noted artist Thomas Sully.

Elizabeth wrote to her husband nearly every day while he was away on duty.  Phil would rise to the temporary rank of rear-admiral during the war, and attain that level permanently again after the war.

Elizabeth and Phil lend their name to the combined Blair-Lee house across the street from the White House – it currently houses visiting heads of state.  The left half of the house was first a wedding gift from Blair Sr. to his daughter and son-in-law.  I wrote a little bit about the Blairs and the house here and here.

You can read a more detailed biography of Elizabeth here.





Col. Simeon B. Gibbons

24 10 2010

Robert Moore has this interesting biographical sketch of Col. Simeon B. Gibbons of the 10th VA Infantry (Smith/Elzey Brigade).  Check it out.





The Curious Case of Richard Welby Carter

24 05 2010

Back in October 2009, a reader requested some information on Richard Welby Carter of the 1st VA Cavalry (you’ll find most of the Carter comments here).  My response:

Per Allardice “Confederate Colonels”, Col. Richard Welby Carter of the 1st VA Cav. died 12/18/1888 in Loudon County and is buried in the Carter family cemetery at “Crendel” in Loudon County. “Carter was widely disliked by officers and men, with such comments as ‘white livered,’ ‘a coward,’ ‘fat and looking greasy.’ He and his regiment broke at Tom’s Brook, largely causing the Confederate rout there.”

That reader – who linked to this somewhat misinformed website – didn’t have any further questions, but over time a couple of others did: Henry A. Truslow and Jim Whitin, who identified themselves as great-grandchildren of Carter.  While their greater argument seems to be that Col. Carter has received the short end of the historical stick, they specifically disputed the death date and burial site of their ancestor.  The correct name of the family estate, they informed me, is “Crednal”, and the correct year of Carter’s death is 1889.  I confirmed that “Crednal” is indeed the correct spelling via this site, and Mr. Truslow provided me with the following photos, saying the date of death was confirmed by family bibles:

  

So, if I were to write a biographical sketch of Carter, at this point I would go with “Crednal” and “1889”.

Mr. Truslow is interested in any information anyone can provide on his ancestor.  He told me about this article covering the recent family reunion at Crednal.  You’ll see that this branch of the Carter family is related to Robert “King” Carter over whose lands most of the battle of First Bull Run was fought.

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Robert Hitchcock

22 05 2010

The letters from Lt. Robert Hitchcock, USMC to his parents prior to the Battle of Bull Run were part of a larger article published in the March/April, 1992 Civil War Times Illustrated.  The article consisted of several Hitchcock letters, annotated by David M. Sullivan and including biographical information on Hitchcock.

Robert Emmett Hitchcock: born 9/29/1839 Shoreham, VT; B. S. Norwich University, 1859; appealed to Vermont congressional delegation for a Marine Corps commission 4/1861; drilled recruits of 2nd VT Volunteer Infantry, Waterbury, VT 4/61 – 5/61; reported to Marine Barracks, Washington DC 6/12/61, and appointed 2nd Lt. to date from 6/5/61; with 1st Lt. Alan Ramsey commanded Company C of four companies of the battalion assigned to Porter’s brigade of Hunter’s Division of McDowell’s Army, 7/16/61; while providing support to Hasbrouck’s section of Griffin’s Co. D, 5th U. S. Artillery on Henry House Hill during Battle of First Bull Run, struck in the face by a Confederate shell and killed instantly, 7/21/61; body assumed buried by Confederates on the field and not recovered; memorial in Lakeview Cemetery, Shoreham, VT.

 

Photos from Findagrave.com.

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Bull Run in the News – Kenton Harper, 5th VA

6 03 2010

Due to the transient nature of online newspaper urls, I’m going to depart from my custom of simply linking to OPW (other people’s work) and reproduce in its entirety this article from Staunton’s News Leader.  Kenton Harper was colonel of the 5th VA Infantry in Jackson’s Brigade (which means he was not “one of Bee’s officers”).

Kenton Harper Left Large Footprint in Staunton

By Charles Culbertson • mail@stauntonhistory.com • March 6, 2010

The moment was not going well for Confederate forces in the first major land battle of the Civil War. A coordinated Union attack at 11:30 a.m., July 21, 1861, had driven forces under Gen. Barnard Bee to the Henry House Hill near Manassas and was on the verge of breaking the line.

Suddenly, one of Bee’s officers — 60-year-old Col. Kenton Harper of Staunton — approached him and pointed out the presence of five regiments of Virginia troops under Col. Thomas J. Jackson that had just arrived on the scene.
Bee quickly made his way to Jackson and said, “The enemy are driving us,” to which Jackson reportedly replied, “Then, sir, we will give them the bayonet.”

At that point Bee is said to have shouted to his men, “There stands Jackson like a stone wall! Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Follow me!”

Some have claimed that Bee’s statement was perjorative — that Jackson was “standing there like a damned stone wall.” Whatever he said or how he meant it — we will never know, for Bee was mortally wounded moments later — his command rallied with Jackson’s men, who routed Union forces and helped win the First Battle of Manassas for the South.
Jackson, of course, received the immortal sobriquet, “Stonewall.”

It is unlikely that Bee was being critical of Jackson. Harper, a renowned Staunton publisher, politician, soldier and farmer, had little reason to either like Jackson or to portray him in a favorable light. Just before his death at age 66 in 1867, Harper told the editor of the Staunton Spectator that Bee’s words had been:

“Rally here! Look how these Virginians stand like a stone wall!”

Harper’s experience with the quirky professor from Virginia Military Institute began in April 1861. A major general in the Virginia state militia, Harper was given command of the 5th Virginia Infantry Regiment and marched out of Staunton with 2,400 men to seize the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry.

The assault was a success, with Harper’s men salvaging thousands of muskets, as well as milling machines, lathes and other supplies. Later that month, Harper was replaced in favor of Jackson, a move that irritated Harper and angered many of the officers serving under him.

He was further alienated from Jackson when, in September 1861, Jackson denied him leave to be by his dying wife’s side.

But Harper was bigger than his grievances, having forged a long and fruitful career through diligence, honor and competency. He continued to serve the Confederate cause despite fragile health that was exacerbated by the rigors of war.

Born in Chambersburg, Pa., in 1801, Harper grew up in the printing business, learning the trade from his father, who published the Franklin County Repository. In 1823, he moved to Staunton where he purchased the Republican Farmer and changed its name to the Staunton Spectator.

In 1836 Harper began serving as a state legislator and, in 1840, filled a year’s term as Staunton’s mayor. When the U.S. went to war with Mexico in 1846, Harper was appointed a captain in the 1st Virginia Infantry, commanding the Augusta County volunteers in the northern frontier of Mexico.

Although he never saw action, his “soldierly demeanor was so marked” that he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and given a military governorship in Parras, Northern Mexico. He was officially commended for the manner in which he conducted himself in that post.

Mustered out of service in 1848, Harper returned to Staunton where he sold the Spectator to the Waddell family. Soon he was appointed under President Millard Fillmore as U.S. agent to the Chicasaws at Fort Washita in the Indian Territory, a post he administered with distinction. His service there led to an appointment as assistant to the Secretary of the Interior — a post held by another Staunton resident, Alexander H.H. Stuart.

At the end of his term, Harper returned to Staunton where he worked his Augusta County farm, “Glen Allen,” and served as the president of the Bank of the Valley. By 1860 he was a major general in the Virginia state militia, a post that led to his military involvement in the Civil War.

After Jackson refused him permission to visit his dying wife, Harper resigned his commission and returned to Staunton for her funeral. He was again elected into the state legislature and, in 1864, was re-appointed as a colonel. Forming a regiment from reservist companies, he led them in battle at Piedmont and again at Waynesboro.

Two years after the war, Harper contracted pneumonia. Some of his last words were reported as, “I would not live always; I ask not to stay.” He died on Christmas Day, 1867.

Upon his death, the newspaper he had founded wrote, “His memory we should not willingly let die, his example of a virtuous life and peaceful death should long remain to point to each of us the lesson of the fineness he so truly illustrated.”

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