By Judith N. McArthur
In 1861, James B. Griffin left Edgefield, South Carolina and rode off to Virginia to take in responsibility with the accomplice military in a method that befitted a Southern gentleman: on a fine-blooded horse, with slaves to attend on him, trunks, and his favourite searching puppy. He was once thirty-five years previous, a filthy rich planter, and the landlord of sixty-one slaves whilst he joined Wade Hampton's elite Legion as a huge of cavalry. He left at the back of seven childrens, the eldest simply twelve, and a spouse who used to be 8 and a part months pregnant. As a box officer in a prestigious unit, the possibilities for status and glory appeared unlimited. Griffin, although, played no bold acts, nor did he motivate nice loyalty in his males. as a substitute, he unknowingly supplied a special and worthwhile portrait of the accomplice officials who shaped the middle of Southern political, army, and company management. In A Gentleman and an Officer, Judith N. McArthur and Orville Vernon Burton have gathered 80 of Griffin's letters written on the Virginia entrance, and through later postings at the South Carolina coast, to his spouse Leila Burt Griffin. awesome of their breadth and quantity, the letters surround Griffin's whole Civil warfare carrier, detailing residing stipulations and army maneuvers, the jockeying for place between officials, and different methods officials and enlisted males interacted throughout the Civil warfare. not like the memories and biographies of high-ranking, famous accomplice officials or reviews and edited collections of letters of participants of the rank and dossier, this assortment sheds mild at the lifetime of a center officer--a existence grew to become the wrong way up through severe army worry and complex additional by means of the continued want for reassurance approximately own valor and standing universal to males of the southern gentry. In those letters, Griffin describes mystery troop hobbies in a number of army activities corresponding to the Hampton Legion's function within the Peninsula crusade (details that will definitely were censored in additional fresh wars). the following he relates the march from Manassas to Fredricksburg, the siege of Yorktown and the retreat to Richmond, and the scuffling with at Eltham's touchdown and 7 Pines, the place Griffin commanded the legion after Hampton used to be wounded. all through, as Griffin recounts those so much awesome of instances, he illuminates the main usual of day by day matters. One may anticipate finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. as a substitute, we're faced via basic humanity and straightforward issues, from the elements to gossip. huge ancient occasions intruded on Griffin's lifestyles and despatched him off to warfare, yet his heartfelt concerns have been approximately his relations, his neighborhood, and his personal own satisfaction. finally, Griffin's letters current the Civil warfare because the refinery, the ordeal via fireplace, that validated and verified--or modified--Southern upperclass values. With a desirable mix of army and social background, A Gentleman and an Officer strikes from the start of the Civil warfare at citadel Sumter throughout the finish of the battle and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil conflict have been instantly devastatingly nationwide and revealingly neighborhood.
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Additional resources for A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War
In March he hired Smith to Daniel Holland for four days, and immediately afterward for three days to neighbor Benjamin F. Mays. He also sold Mays 243 lbs. of iron, suggesting that the slave, "Smith," was a blacksmith or ironworker. The Griffin slaves also had some leeway to work for themselves. They were permitted to cultivate private garden plots, and in slack periods they had access to his unimproved acres of woodland to sell for their own money whatever they produced or manufactured. 54 The war immediately affected the slave community on Griffin's plantation.
And James were both growing the same kinds of crops, mostly corn, peas, beans, wheat, and oats. , twenty for James. 40. Thomas Jefferson Howard, Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaires, (1915): 3, and (1922): 3, Tennessee State Library and Archives. 41. The acreage listed in Schedule 1 of the manuscript agricultural census was less than the amount that Griffin's father deeded to him in 1848, suggesting that either his father was still farming it or the remainder was rented. B. was in the 73rd percentile of all property owners and in the 87th percentile of all slave owners.
Wiley in Southern Negroes, 1861-1865 (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1953), 134-38, 142-43, has useful information on enslaved people at the front. According to Wiley, in 1861 numerous "elite" slaves went to the front with their masters, but as the war became more difficult in 18621863, many were sent home to assist with crops and farm work. The duties performed by these slaves included barbering, errand running, cooking, cleaning, procuring extra food, and generally anything the master did not want to do.
A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War by Judith N. McArthur