In this post I discussed an entry in the Oxford Guide to American Military History in which the contributor indicated that Confederate Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell was removed from command of the Army of Northern Virginia’s 2nd Corps in 1864 in part because of his wife Lizinka Brown Ewell’s “increasing Unionist sentiments”. Not recalling ever coming across this in my readings before, I fired off a note to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania NMP Chief Historian John Hennessy, and asked if he could forward a link to my post to his colleague Donald Pfanz, who wrote The Book on Ewell. Mr. Pfanz was good enough to respond and give his permission to post his note here.
Dear Mr. Smeltzer,
John Hennessy passed along your inquiry about Lizinka Ewell and her supposed Unionist sentiments. Lizinka was definitely not a Unionist. In fact, she outfitted an entire Confederate company at the outset of the Civil War. She was, however, a practical woman, and early in 1865 when she saw that the South was “up the spout” and that it was only a matter of time before the Confederacy collapsed, she and her daughter fled to the North in an apparent effort to save what she could of her property. Instead, she ended up under house arrest in St. Louis, where she stayed with a cousin, Thomas T. Gantt, who had been on McClellan’s staff earlier in the war. (There must have been some interesting conversations in the household during that period!)
Lee transferred Ewell out of the army because he lacked faith in him and preferred to have Jubal Early lead the Second Corps. (Lee also realized that with Longstreet’s wounding Ewell would take command of the army if anything happened to him.) I am not completely satisfied in my own mind why Lee harbored doubts as to Ewell’s ability to command the corps. It may have had something to do with Ewell’s adolescent behavior in the winter of 1863-4, his loss of temper at the Bloody Angle, or Lizinka’s overbearing conduct at headquarters. It didn’t have anything to do with disloyalty on Lizinka’s part, however.
That’s good enough for me. Thanks, Mr. Pfanz, for taking the time to respond.