Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“It is General Hood; say nothing about it.”​

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 20, 2013
Taber Chickamauga
Walton Taber, “Confederate Battle Line at Chickamauga.”


The account of Chickamauga by Private Lawrence Daffan, Company G, 4th Texas Infantry:


On my return from Fredericksburg to the camp at Port Royal, I asked General J. B. Robertson and the Captain of my company for permission to stop for a week or ten days at my uncles’ homes, two of them, which were about twelve miles east of Fredericksburg. They granted this request. . . .​
One warm September evening we saw the dust rising down the main road, and we slipped around to see what it was. We went through the corn and his to see what was coming. The army was moving. The first brigade was Benning’s, of Georgia; the second was Law’s, of Alabama; and the third was Hood’s Texas Brigade, my brigade. I saw the Fifth Texas pass, then came the Fourth, my regiment, and I wondered where they were going.​
​In a few days I found I had been left in Virginia, for my brigade had gone to Georgia. In a few days I became “homesick,” as it were, to be with my company, but how to reach them was a problem. Having some idea of military affairs, though a boy of eighteen, I proceeded at once to Richmond to report to the provost marshal.​
​He understood my condition at once, and gave an order for transportation and rations to a point in Georgia, I believe Resaca, where I expected to find the brigade. I reached there on Friday, September 18, 1863, just in time to join them in the battle on Sunday at Chickamauga. ​
​I received my only injury during the war at Chickamauga; a ball struck my gun between the rammer and the barrel, shivering the stock and knocking me down. This was at the cabin [Viniard?] in front of Longstreet’s Corps, Saturday evening, September 19, 1863.​
​Our men made a gallant charge on the Federals and there were two lines of battle of Federals. We received a terrible volley of musketry there – the most terrible during the war. If they, the Federals, had shot low, it seems to me we would all have been killed. From six to thirty feet on the timber showed the effects of this terrible volley of musketry. I think ten of my company were killed at Chickamauga and thirty or forty wounded. Nearly all killed were shot in the breast or head, which indicated excited and high shooting by the Federals. We took their position, but did not press them further that evening. I was on picket Saturday night; the lines changed somewhat during the night. As well as I can know, we were fronting west Saturday evening, and changed out front to north Sunday morning. In the charge Sunday morning we captured a battery, driving the enemy back, and here general Hood was wounded. I am satisfied that General Hood was wounded by his own men, Confederates off to our left. I think they were Florida troops.​
​They mistook us on account of our neat, new standard uniform. They took us for Federals, as Bragg’s army had never seen a well-uniformed Confederate regiment. The couriers were sent to these troops telling them to cease firing, and to explain the situation. Were we in this battle, supporting the Western army, under Bragg.​
Hood at Chickamauga
Hood wounded at Chickamauga. Illustrated London News, December 26, 1863.
I saw General Hood wounded, and saw the men wrap him and carry him away in a blanket. I rushed up and pulled the blanket open to be sure that it was General Hood; the officer in charge of the litter corps spoke very rough to me about this, saying, “yes, it is General Hood; say nothing about it.”​
​This was all under fire. These places all have special names now, but I give my account as a boy soldier.​



The (Very) Posthumous Enlistment of “Private” Clark Lee

Posted in African Americans, Genealogy, Memory by Andy Hall on June 14, 2013

ClarkLeeKevin and Brooks have been all over the Georgia Civil War Commission, and particularly of its handling of the case of Clark Lee, “Chickamauga’s Black Confederate Soldier.” I won’t rehash all of that, but there are a few points to add.

First, kudos to Eric Jacobson, who noticed that the modern painting of Lee used by the commission on its marker (right) is almost laughably tailored to affirm Lee’s status as a soldier, including the military coat with trim and brass buttons, rifle, cartridge box belt, military-issue “CS” belt buckle, and revolver, all backed by a Confederate Battle Flag — even though the Army of the Tennessee didn’t adopt that flag until the appointment of General Joseph E. Johnston, well after the Battle of Chickamauga.

It’s probably also worth noting that the man in the painting looks a lot older than 15, the age the Georgia Civil War Commission says Lee was at the time of the battle.

As it turns out, several weeks ago the SCV and other heritage folks installed and dedicated a new headstone for Lee, explicitly (and posthumously) giving him the military rank of Private. The stone also states that Lee “fought at” Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, the Atlanta Campaign, and a host of other engagements by the Army of Tennessee. These are very specific claims, so it’s worth asking what the specific evidence for them is.


E. Raymond Evans (center, with umbrella), author of The Life and Times of Clark Lee: Chickamauga’s Black Confederate Soldier, speaking at an SCV memorial service for Clark Lee in April 2013. From here.


As is so often the case, there doesn’t appear to be any contemporary (1861-65) record of Lee’s service. There is no compiled service record (CSR) for him at the National Archives. Presumably the historical marker, the headstone, and a recent privately-published work on Clark Lee are all based on his 1921 application for a pension from the State of Tennessee, where he had moved in the years after the war. You can read Lee’s complete pension application here (29MB PDF). I cannot find a word in it that mentions or describes Clark Lee’s service under arms, or in combat. There is a general description of Lee’s wartime activities, but it’s quite different from what the Georgia Civil War Commission wants the rest of us to understand about him. I’ve put it below the jump because of some of the unpleasant themes expressed.


“Sympathies and antipathies are disabilities in an historian.”

Posted in Leadership, Media, Memory by Andy Hall on September 3, 2010

Archibald Gracie IV (1859-1912, left) is today remembered primarily as a survivor of the Titanic disaster, who wrote one of the better first-person accounts of the sinking. Gracie, who had attended (but not graduated from) West Point, was an energetic amateur historian, and was particularly obsessed with the Battle of Chickamauga, in which his father, Archibald Gracie III (1832-1864), had served as a Confederate brigade commander. The younger Gracie spent years researching the battle, work which culminated in his December 1911 publication, The Truth About Chickamauga. Gracie took an extended trip to Europe after completing the volume, booking return passage on the soon-to-be-infamous White Star liner. He apparently hadn’t quite gotten Chickamauga out of his system for, as the late Walter Lord wrote in The Night Lives On, “he cornered Isidor Straus, on whom he had foisted a copy of The Truth About Chickamauga. The book strikes one reader as 462 pages of labored minutiae, but Mr. Straus was famous for his tact; he assured the colonel that he had read it with ‘intense interest.'”

Also not a fan of The Truth About Chickamauga: Ambrose Bierce. The famous writer had served at Chickamauga on the staff of Brigadier General William Babcock Hazen (1830-1887), personally witnessed several key events in the battle, had published several pieces on the action, and apparently gave Gracie at least one face-to-face interview. But Bierce found Gracie’s efforts at telling the truth about Chickamauga to be badly and willfully biased. Here is the opening paragraph of a letter Bierce wrote to Gracie in March 1911, several months before the latter’s book went to press:

March 9, 1911

From the trouble that you took to consult me regarding certain phases of the battle of Chickamauga I infer that you are really desirous of the truth, and that your book is not to belong to that unhappily too large class of books written by “bad losers” for disparagement of antagonists. Sympathies and antipathies are disabilities in an historian that are hard to overcome. That you believe yourself devoid of this disability I do not doubt; yet your strange views of Thomas, Granger and Brannan, and some of the events in which they figured, are (to me) so obviously erroneous that I find myself unable to account for them on the hypothesis of an entirely open mind. All defeated peoples are “bad losers” – history supplies no examples to the contrary, though there are always individual exceptions. (General D. H. Hill is an example of the “good loser,” and, with reference to the battle of Chickamauga, the good winner. I assume your familiarity with his account of that action, and his fine tribute of admiration to some of the men whom he fought — Thomas and others.) The historians who have found, and will indubitably continue to find, general acceptance are those who have most generously affirmed the good faith and valor of their enemies. All this, however, you have of course considered. But consider it again.



Letter from Phantoms of a Blood-Stained Period: The Complete Civil War Writings of Ambrose Bierce (Russell Duncan and David J. Klooster, eds.)