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Northern Boys In Southern Armies.
Sketch of Capt. F. N. Graves,
by Gen. C. A. Evans:
When the Southern States seceded there were thousands of young men in the South of Northern parentage, and many of them were born on Northern soil. It is an historical truth that this class of young men were among the bravest sons of the South and showed patriotic devotion to the land of their adoption. Families were thus divided into hostile camps, and although preserving natural affection, brothers were distinctly arrayed in antagonism on many fields of battle. I will tell the romantic story of one of these splendid Northern boys, partly in my own language and from personal knowledge, and partly in his own words and in the language of his friends.
In the fall of 1859 there came to Lumpkin, Georgia, a stout, compactly built Northern lad not quite grown and fresh from Massachusetts, who instantly became popular. He came merely on a visit of recreation, expecting to return again to his New England home, but before the term of this vacation expired his life was totally recast. He liked the Southerners, formed a business partnership. He became a Southerner, enlisted as a private in a Confederate company, was soon promoted to Captaincy, fought for the side he had chosen, was captured, and imprisoned with unusual hardships until June, 1865, and then returned to his Georgia home to renew the struggle for a living. This soldier was Captain Frank N. Graves, Sixty first Georgia Regiment. In a letter to me he says: "Just thirty six years ago I first met you in Stewart County, the fall of 1859, I having gone there from my boyhood home on the banks of the beautiful Connecticut River in Massachusetts. I had just completed a hard summer's work in a clerkship at a fashionable summer resort, but had been reared on a small rich river valley farm of which I had entire charge at the age of seventeen, and had managed to keep the wolf from the door of a widowed mother and six brothers and sisters." In the South his business prospered, but meanwhile the cloud of war overspread the land, and, as Graves says in a letter, "In the early spring of '61 a little occurrence near Charleston disturbed the minds of the people generally. There was some talk among us of 'drinking blood,' but I sawed wood and said nothing. Men were wanted for the last ditch,' but I realized that men were wanted for the 'first ditch,' and I afterwards saw that the blusterers did not fill either ditch first or last.
You and I, with some of the other boys, went down to Savannah to be mustered in. I remember the exact spot on which we first lined up, and seeing you about ten feet from me.
Well, during the past year I went to Savannah for the first time since the war, and at sunrise I went out to find the old barracks where we were enlisted, but found the new De Soto Hotel instead. In the open court is the spot where we stood a third of a century ago and took the oath to support the C. S. A. as enlisted soldiers."
For sometime Graves served in the Commissary Department of Sixty first Georgia Regiment, but after a hard campaign one of the companies had lost every officer and the men remaining in the company elected him to be their Captain, which office he had not sought, but accepted, consistent with what he had often stated that he intended to serve Georgia faithfully in any capacity that fell to his lot without asking a favor. He marched at the head of his company of brave soldiers, with whom he shared the dangers of the war in Virginia until the famous battle on the 12th of May at Spottsylvania. Of this battle and his own capture Captain Graves says: "You doubtless remember the heavy fog that covered our camp on the night when Gen. Johnston was surprised at daybreak in the celebrated horse shoe bend, and that our regiment slept on arms in the rear as reserve. Gen. Lee, I well remember, called us himself. He touched me with his scabbard and remarked, 'We need you.' I looked up and saw for the last time, the General on his favorite horse. We were soon in a charge and retook the works, but in the dense fog the enemy came upon us again from various directions and in great numbers, when parts of my company and regiment were enveloped and compelled to surrender. As I retired through the army of the enemy I found that they had thirteen solid columns of troops massed in our front. We, the prisoners, stood up all the following night in the rain without rations and were closely guarded. The next day we were marched to Acquia Creek, put on a transport for Point Lookout and thrust into prison after being deprived of everything we had." The fearful march had so blistered his feet that he could not stand, causing him acute suffering, and disabling him from walking without pain for more than a year. After a month he was removed to Fort Delaware, where he was drawn by lot as one of the 600 Confederate officers who were to be sent to Charleston to suffer for the alleged cruelties at Andersonville prison. For four weary months he was held as a hostage, and his fare was "four mouldy hardtacks for a daily ration." A soldier says of the trip: "The transportation both ways was of the hardest character, all in one small transport, packed like sardines, four on the floor to every six feet square, then a bunk eighteen inches above with four more men, and then another tier above that making admiration of all men.
It was two months and more after the surrender of Lee before Capt. Graves was released from prison. At length, on June 17th, 1865, he was released and says: "I left for home via Massachusetts, where I was urgently asked to locate for life and let the South work out its own redemption, but I replied, 'Not for a fee simple title to the State!' " After a few weeks Capt. Graves was once more in Lumpkin and again associated with Mansfield in business, first at Lumpkin and then in Marietta. Better still, he married a lovely Southern girl. His comrades are proud of him and are glad that the South brings success to so many of his kind.
This sketch closes with a description of his visit to his aged mother in the old New England home. Capt. Graves, in 1894, took steamer for Boston, which he had left thirty five years before. He found the old home of his Boston girl, but the girl was not there. Next day he took train for the old home and in the afternoon he knocked at the door of his mother's home. He found her on crutches, eighty five years of age. The seven children were all living. He said: "After a careful look at me for a half minute, she asked, 'Is this my oldest boy, Frank?' I had not notified her of my intention to call so soon, and the meeting after our long separation cannot be described. Capt. Graves is still a Georgian, the same true, candid, noble, man over whose head many years have gone, but in whose heart is still the same warm fidelity to every trust reposed in him.
This story is excerpted from "The Best of Confederate Veteran Vol. 2."
See more at www.researchonline.net/catalog/191202.htm
This collection contains over two dozen selected stories from The Confederate Veteran Magazine
This story is excerpted from "The Best of Confederate Veteran" Vol. 2.
Crucial Test For General S. D. Lee 1
W. L. Goldsmith, Lieut.-Col. Fourteenth Georgia Regiment, now of Meridian, Miss., writes:
The morning after the fearful battle of Sharpsburg, when both armies were utterly exhausted and neither desired a renewal of the terrible carnage of blood, Col. S. D. Lee was ordered by Gen. Lee to report to Stonewall Jackson, commanding the Confederate left. Jackson took Col. Lee to a large Indian mound in advance of his main line, where Gen. Stuart's artillery had been severely handled the day before, scattered around which were the wrecks of several guns, caissons, and many dead horses. As they reached the mound, several minie balls of the enemy's sharp-shooters admonished them to be careful. They were in full view of McClellan's army, which reached around to the Potomac, with a strong skirmish line in front of it, and seventy to eighty pieces of artillery in plain view. Gen. Jackson quietly said, "Col. Lee, I wish you to take fifty pieces of artillery and crush the Federal right." At a glance, Col. Lee's practical judgment told him that before fifty pieces could be unlimbered and ready for action at short range, they would be almost totally annihilated, but he replied, "Yes, General, where will I get the guns?" Jackson said, "You can take your own guns and I will furnish the rest, and if they are not enough, Gen. Lee will furnish more. Can you crush the Federal right?" Col. Lee replied that he would try. "I did not ask you, Colonel, if you would try, but if you could do it, sir. “Col. Lee then said, "I will fight my guns, General, as long as any officer in Gen. Lee's army."
Jackson sternly replied, "Answer my question, can you crush the Federals with fifty pieces of artillery?" Col. Lee said, "I can do it if anybody can." Jackson again said, "Answer my question, sir."
Col. Lee then asked Gen. Jackson if he wanted a technical opinion as an artillery officer, or if he wanted the attempt made. Jackson replied, "I want your opinion, sir, as I have asked it." Reluctantly Col. Lee told him that it could not be done, as the guns would have to be brought up under fire of the Federal guns and skirmish line, and to be effective would have to be close to the enemy. Jackson replied, "That is all right, Colonel, let us ride back." When he said this, Col. Lee, fearing he had shown a lack of nerve that Gen. Jackson would doubt his ability as an artillery officer and, with tears in his eyes, begged to be allowed to make the attempt, promising to hold the guns there as long as he lived.
Jackson, with moistened eyes, also, replied, "Colonel, nobody in this army doubts that you would hold them there as long as anybody else. It is all right. You go back to Gen. Lee and tell him all that has occurred between us since you reported to me until you left." When he had heard the circumstances, Gen. Lee was very sad, and said, "It is all right, Colonel. Rejoin your battalion of artillery. "
A few days afterward, when the army had re-crossed the Potomac, Col. Lee learned that on the morning mentioned Gen. R. E. Lee had ordered Stonewall Jackson to concentrate from his own and Longstreet's Corps a battery of fifty cannon on McClellan's right and crush it. Jackson, after reconnoitering the position, sent word to Gen. Lee that it could not be done. Lee told him to make the attempt. Jackson then sent word that if Gen. Lee would send him an expert artillery officer and he said the plan was practicable and feasible, then he would make the attempt. Col. S. D. Lee was detailed by Gen. Lee to go to Gen. Jackson, not knowing for what purpose he was sent, with the above result. It was a gratification to him to be so honored by Gen. Lee, and to know that his technical opinion as an artillery officer coincided with that of the immortal Jackson. So, there was no fighting on the second day.
A week or so after this, Gen. P. E. Lee sent for Col. Lee and told him that he had made up his mind to recommend him to President Davis for Brig-General of Artillery of the Army of Northern Virginia, but that he had that day received an order from President Davis to detail the best and most accomplished artillery officer in the army and send him to Vicksburg. Col. Lee asked for time to consider the matter. His friends urged him to go, and he accepted the position at Vicksburg. So, when the important position of Brigadier-General of Artillery was in S. D. Lee's grasp, he thus lost it. But what honor and glory were his! Few men ever had or deserved so much, but S. D. Lee was one of the "immortal few."
Gen. Lee rose rapidly in the West. After his service he was promoted to command of the cavalry in Mississippi, and on May 9, 1864. he assumed command of all the Cavalry in Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. In July, 1894, he was put in command of the Hood Corps. He is now in charge of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Miss.
This collection contains over two dozen selected stories from The Confederate Veteran Magazine
The following story is excerpted from our "Best of Confederate Veteran, Vol. 2."
Alabamians In The Crater Battle
George Clark, Waco, Texas
I have read with much interest and pleasure the article in your January number by Col. Geo. T. Rogers, entitled "The Crater Battle, 30th July, 1864," and as I was a participant in said battle, I deem it due to history that some inaccuracies which have crept unintentionally into Col. Rogers' account should be corrected. I do this with the feeling of an old comrade for the Colonel, whom I knew and highly respected in those historic days. Doubtless the long time which has intervened since the occurrences he relates, added to the fact that a regimental line officer could not know particulars relating to the movements of other commands than his own, must account for the injustice he does "Wilcox's old Brigade," from Alabama, then commanded by the brave young Saunders.
I was a Captain in the Eleventh Alabama Regiment, and at the date of this battle was serving temporarily on the staff of Brig. Gen. Saunders, as assistant adjutant general. I was also flag of truce officer after the battle, and with Col. Jas. F. Doran, Twenty-fourth New York Cavalry (dismounted), who was the Federal truce officer, had charge of the burial of the dead on the morning of August 1st, 1864. My opportunities for knowing the movements of the brigade were therefore excellent, and the nature of the work before us on that day so strongly impressed itself upon me that I retain until this day a most vivid recollection of all incidents which came under my observation.
The regular position of the brigade at that time was a short distance west of the right angle in our defensive works, near the plank road. On the morning of the explosion, about three o'clock, the Brigadier-General was aroused by an order from Division Headquarters to get his men up and man the works. This was immediately done. As our regular battalion of sharpshooters (under command of Major James M. Crow, of Florence, Ala.) had been relieved from skirmish duty on the night before, Gen. Saunders became anxious as to his skirmish line, and directed me to see that Maj. Crow went to the front with his battalion relieving our pickets. This was done. The General and staff were sitting on the gallery of a little house which constituted our headquarters when the explosion occurred. Immediately a tremendous bombardment opened from the enemy along the whole front. We galloped to the works, and took position in the rear of the center of the brigade, near a company of Washington Artillery. The bombardment was kept up an hour or two, perhaps longer, when Gen. Lee came to where we were and held a short talk with our brigade commander. About an hour, or perhaps two hours, after this, and after the bombardment had slackened, we were ordered to quietly leave the works, retire to a ravine in the rear, and form. This was done, and nothing but the artillery was left in the line we abandoned. From Col. Rogers' description of the route pursued by his brigade to the scene of the explosion, we must have traveled the same route. On our way there, the general and staff having abandoned their horses, we met Col. Weisiger, of the Twelfth Virginia, wounded in the side, and supported by a soldier. The Colonel who was then in command of Mahone's Brigade, told us of the charge of the Virginians, which had already occurred. When we reached the scene, we were met by Gen. Mahone, accompanied by Gen. Bushrod Johnson, and Gen. Mahone gave directions as to how he wished the brigade formed. It was then about eleven a. m. The rife pits to the left of the crater (enemy's right) were then held by the Virginia brigade, their right resting at the crater. I was sent by Gen. Saunders to look over the ground, and went forward to the rim of the crater. I there met and talked with Lieut. Col. W. H. Stewart, and other acquaintances in the Virginia brigade, including Col. Rogers, if my memory is correct, both of whom I knew well, having served with them upon General Court Martial the preceding winter. I found that while the Virginians had done their part of the job thoroughly, and were holding their positions heroically, Wright's Georgia brigade had failed to carry the trenches on the right of the crater (enemy's left), and the crater itself was still in possession of the enemy, filled not only with Negro troops, but also with a much larger per cent of white troops, as was demonstrated after the capture. I returned and reported the situation to Gen. Saunders. At this time our brigade was resting on their arms just east of a little branch or marsh under the hill. I was instructed by Gen. Saunders to pass along the line, count the men, and inform them, as well as company commanders, that our attack would begin at two o'clock, upon the firing of two signal guns from the batteries in our rear—that every man must be ready to rise and go forward at the signal, slowly at first, and then at a double quick as soon as we rose the hill—that our object was to recapture the rifle pits on our right as well as the crater, and for this purpose the brigade would be compelled to right oblique after starting so as to cover the points of attack—no man was to fire a shot until we reached the works, and arms must be carried at a right shoulder shift. I was also instructed by Gen. Saunders to inform the men that Gen. Lee had notified him that there were no other troops at hand to recapture the works, and if this brigade did not succeed in the first attempt, they would be formed again and renew the assault, and that if it was necessary, he (Gen. Lee) would lead them. As a matter of fact, a large portion of the army was on that day east of the James river. These directions of Gen. Saunders were communicated at once to every officer and man, and by actual count made by me the brigade had in line 632 muskets.
At the boom of the signal guns the Alabama brigade rose at a "right-shoulder shift," and moved forward in perfect alignment—slowly at first, until we came in sight of the enemy and received his first fire, and then with a dash to the works. For a moment or two the enemy overshot us and did no damage, but as we reached the works many were struck down and the gaps were apparent, but the alignment remained perfect. It was as handsome a charge as was ever made on any field, and could not have been excelled by the "Guard" at Waterloo, under Ney.
On reaching the works the real fight began. Our men poured over into the crater and the ring of steel and bayonet in hand-to-hand fight began. Men were brained by butts of guns, and run through with bayonets. The brave Saunders (who sleeps in Hollywood) had a regular duel with a big Negro soldier, and both proved bad marksmen. Adjutant Fonville, of the Fourteenth Alabama (the bravest soldier ever under fire), was killed by a Negro soldier. So was Lieut. John W. Cole, of the Eleventh Alabama, and many other brave officers and men. This melee kept up for at least fifteen minutes, the enemy fighting with desperation because they were impressed with the idea that no quarter would be given. The credit of capturing the crater and all its contents belongs to Morgan Smith Cleveland, then Adjutant of the Eighth Alabama Regiment, who now fills a Patriot's grave at Selma, Alabama. I am told that his grave is unmarked, if not unknown, and that he was buried by charity; and I hang my head in humiliation if this information is true. Morgan Cleveland was as humane and tender as he was brave. Standing in the crater, in the midst of the horrid carnage, with almost bursting heart he said to a Federal colonel who was near him, "Why in the hell don't you fellows surrender?" and he put the accent on the cuss word. The Yankee replied quickly, "Why in the hell don't you let us?" A wink being as good as a nod, either to a blind horse or a brave soldier, the effect was instantaneous. The enemy threw down their arms, marched out as prisoners, some being killed or wounded by their own cannon as they filed past where I stood, and the day was saved as a glorious heritage for the Southern soldier and those who come after him. I remember helping Gen. Bartlett, of Boston (I think Bartlett was his name), who was trying to get out on two muskets inverted and used as crutches. I could see no evidence of physical pain in his face, and remarked to him that he must have nerves of steel, as his leg was shot away. He smiled and replied that he had lost his real leg at Williamsburg two years before, and the leg he had just had shattered was a cork leg.
This is a brief account of the Alabama Brigade on that day—too brief and imperfect to do even partial justice to my old comrades, most of whom have already "passed over the river." It was a gallant band, and many of them sleep their last sleep in the soil of old Virginia, having given their lives in defense of its firesides. I am sure the gallant Col. Rogers, himself a brave Virginian, would not intentionally do them the slightest injustice if he knew it. And yet his article, without so intending perhaps, minimizes its services in these particulars:
1. Mahone's Brigade did not take charge of the line between the Appomattox and the James a little after the battle of the crater, but the whole of Mahone's division, including Forney's Alabama Brigade (Wilcox's old Brigade), Harris' Mississippi Brigade, Finnigan's Florida Brigade, Sorrell's (Wright's) Georgia Brigade, and Mahone's Virginia Brigade, took charge of that line in February, 1865; the Alabama Brigade occupying the extreme left of the line, its left resting at the Howlett Batteries on James river. We withdrew from this position on the night Richmond was evacuated.
2. The Alabama Brigade came up at the "Mine" and did the work of capturing the crater, which was the purpose of the movement, but it was not a "walk-over," as the Colonel terms it. It was one of the hardest fought fields of the war, and brilliant success was wrenched by valor from serious danger.
Doubtless our friends, the Virginians and the Georgians peppered away at the enemy during the charge, but their fire did not "keep down all heads," as our lists of killed and wounded attest, nor did they go down into the crater like the Alabamians did. With a handful of men more than treble its numbers were captured, the lines re-established, and what promised at early dawn the closing victory of the war for the enemy, was turned into disastrous defeat by a few ragged Alabamians. I once asked a prominent officer on Gen. Grant's staff, what the General thought ought to have been done with Burnside for this failure at the Mine. He replied without hesitating, "He ought to have been shot."
This collection contains over two dozen selected stories from The Confederate Veteran Magazine
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