The Oldest Door in Britain

Here is a fascinating piece of history– the Oldest door in Britain!

The Oldest Door in Britain-- Westminster Abbey

The Oldest Door in Britain– Westminster Abbey         Photo by Dan Snow

 

 

 

Installed in Westminster Abbey at an unknown time before the Norman Invasion.  The origins of Westminster Abbey date back to 960 as a Benedictine Abbey founded by King Edgar and St Dunstan. In 1040 King Edward ( The Confessor) re endowed it, and enlarged it considerably. Consecrated as West Minister Abbey on 28 Dec 1065 the King was too ill to attend and died a few days later. His successor, Harold Godwineson ( Harold II) was the first monarch of England to be coronated in the Abbey on 6 January 1066- he was also sadly the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. William , Duke of Normandy and Victor of the Battle of Hastings was famously crowned King in the Abbey on Christmas Day 1066.

Historian Dan Snow speculates the wood itself could be 1500 years old…..and may have seen the Romans depart the shores of England.

There are few remains of the Confessor’s Abbey. Mainly the pillars of what is known as the undercroft. The undercroft now houses the Abbey Museum.

photo credit: Dan Snow

http://www.westminster-abbey.org/

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Patrick Cleburne and the Battles of SpringHill and Franklin

30 November 1864 Franklin, Tennessee

Major General Patrick Cleburne sat astride his horse, Red Pepper, atop Winstead Hill, shaken to his soul by his commanding officer General John Bell Hood’s orders and plan of battle.

Major General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne

Major General
Patrick Ronayne Cleburne

He surveyed the Harpeth Valley below him, the village of Franklin sat in the gathering gloom that late November afternoon. Earlier he had ridden to Merrill Hill to see for himself the lay of the land. Through his field glasses he could see the heavily fortified breastworks of the Union Forces.

 

“They have three lines and they are all complete” he murmured to his friend and Brigade leader, General J.C Govan.  A mood of Celtic fatalism seemed to overtake the man known as “Stonewall Jackson of the West”. A sterling Division Commander, the best the South had, Cleburne knew his men were doomed.

General Patrick Cleburne at Winstead Hill Artist David Wright

General Patrick Cleburne at Winstead Hill Painting by David Wright

Putting away the field glasses, he turned to his friend and said “Well Govan, if we are to die, let us die like men.”

Enraged by the escape of the Union Army the previous evening at Spring Hill, General John Bell Hood saw, once again his dreams of glory fading. Less than 24 hours ago, the Union Forces commanded by General John Schofield were in dire danger of being trapped by Hood’s Confederate Forces. Hood’s Army had outflanked the Union Troops on the Colombia Turnpike in a desperate race to Nashville.

General John Bell Hood CSA

General John Bell Hood CSA Commander Army of Tennessee

General John M. Schofield (USA)Commander Army of the Ohio

General John M. Schofield (USA)Commander Army of the Ohio

The Confederate Forces were arrayed along the turnpike near the small village of Spring Hill. Worse for Schofield, his forces were divided, his infantry and supply wagons headed directly towards the Confederates.

Major General Cleburne and Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest on the road to Spring Hill. "Guns of the West", by John Paul Strain

Major General Cleburne and Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest on the road to Spring Hill. “Guns of the West”, by John Paul Strain

Hood, Commander of the Army of Tennessee, had a golden opportunity to intercept the Union Army, deliver a devastating blow to his old West Point classmate and resupply his forces with much needed food and supplies.  Plus such a resounding blow to the Union forces would go far in rehabilitating his tarnished reputation after the bitter loss of Atlanta that summer.

It was not to be…. Darkness began to cast its shadows and gloom over the turnpike in the late afternoon of 29 November. What followed was  an appalling series of command failures, conflicting orders, negligent miscommunication and leadership and the ‘fog of war’ leading to the Confederates not securing the Pike.

Spring Hill 29 November Confederate and Union forces

Spring Hill 29 November
Confederate and Union forces

Hood had the utmost confidence that he had Schofield’s Army trapped on the Pike. He retired early to his Headquarters at the Absolom Thompson House for the night.  When reports reached him that Union troops were on the Pike and moving; he did not go himself to ensure his orders were being followed. Thus, in one of the greatest lost opportunities of the War, the Union infantry and supply wagons slipped past the Confederates on a moonless night, escaping to Franklin, 12 miles to the North.  Schofield realizing what a narrow escape he had just had, ordered his men to immediately entrench. His men began to build and fortify existing breastworks from a previous skirmish and prepare for Hood’s forces.

Breastworks at the Cotton Gin (large building in background). The Cotton Gin was the epicenter of the Battle of Franklin. Photo taken in the 1890's

Breastworks at the Cotton Gin (large building in background). The Cotton Gin and the nearby Carter House was the epicenter of the Battle of Franklin. Photo taken in the 1890’s

The morning of 30 November dawned with a “wrathy as a rattlesnake” Hood enraged at his Commanders; dressing them down for their failure to follow his orders and secure the Pike. As was his usual manner, Hood blamed everyone but himself.

Historians have been fascinated by the ‘Spring Hill Affair’ for over 150 years. Theories abound, but most historians agree that Hood and General Benjamin Cheatham share the blame for the egregious failure that night.  Stories of drinking and parties have largely been discounted over the decades. A lingering theory, not supported by all, is that Hood may have been under the influence of laudanum, an opiate derivative to ease the pain of his amputated leg and arm suffered after a long forced march.  Whatever the cause(s), the opportunity lost at Spring Hill on 29 November 1864 was to have devastating consequences for the Army of Tennessee.

Hood and his Army arrived on Winstead Hill, two miles from Franklin around 1pm in the afternoon of November 30th.  The Army of Tennessee that afternoon was a ragged and forlorn ghost of its once mighty self. Under the command of John Bell Hood, once the prex chevalier of Richmond society in the early glory days of the Confederacy, Atlanta had been lost.  This was a severe and crippling loss to the Confederacy. As a result, General T. Sherman (USA) was making good his threat to “make Georgia howl” on his slash and burn campaign to the sea.  The Confederates under General Hood were only 20,000 strong that late November afternoon, facing a well entrenched and defensible  force of roughly 30,000

Winstead Hill looking towards the Village of Franklin

Winstead Hill looking towards the Village of Franklin

After surveying the landscape Hood was determined to destroy the entrenched Union forces by a direct headlong assault against the center, leaving Schofield and his troops no room for retreat.  Hood knew the Union flanks were weak and the center extremely strong. He could have ordered his forces to encircle the Union Army as in fact his superb cavalry commander, Nathan Bedford Forrest begged him to do.  Forrest argued that if given a division of infantry with his cavalry , he could flank Schofield out of his position ‘within the hour’

Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest (CSA)

Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest (CSA)

 ” I do not like the looks of this fight, the enemy has an excellent position and is well fortified” Major General Frank Cheatham to General Hood on Winstead Hill 30 November 1864

John Bell Hood was not in a mood to listen to his senior commanders or wait for reconnaissance reports. They were to make a frontal charge for the center and fix bayonets.

It was 4pm, the winter sun low in the western sky, when the bands began to play and the regimental flags unfurled into the wind.  Stretched across two miles of Tennessee farmland was the once unstoppable Army of Tennessee.  The entrenched Union forces stared in disbelief and awe as that long grey line began to charge down on them. The eerie haunting sound of  the Rebel Yell mingled with the strains of Bonnie Blue Flag and the roar of thousands of men racing across the land in a charge twice the length of Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.  They were the very last…..

The Charge at Franklin

The Charge at Franklin

“Boys, this will be short, but desperate!” General Ortho Strahl, to his men as they advanced on the Federal Center

“Into the works with them!” the rallying cry of the Confederates as they almost succeeded in breaking the Federal Center…as reported by Union survivors

The Confederates almost made it, they broke their hearts trying to break the Union Center. They charged into the heavily fortified breastworks again and again, facing withering fire from the enemy and almost broke through.  Vicious and desperate hand to hand combat ensued as the Confederates charged over the breast works.  In a desperate attempt the Union forces regained the upper hand just before the Confederates were able to completely breakthrough. Carnage and chaos reigned.

 “The Devil had full possession of the Earth”- Union Survivor

 

Union forces under command of Colonel Emerson Opdyke ( Opdyke Tigers) repulsing the Confederate Charge at the Cotton Gin

Union forces under command of Colonel Emerson Opdyke ( Opdyke Tigers) repulsing the Confederate Charge Painting by Don Troiani

 

General Patrick Cleburne was a beloved commander, his men had followed him willingly into the hell of many a battle; Shiloh, Corinth, Stones River, Perryville, Ringgold Gap, Chickamauga, Kennesaw Mountain and Atlanta. It was to be no different now

Cleburne astride Red Pepper leading his men towards the breastworks at the Cotton Gin Painting by Don Trojani

Cleburne astride Red Pepper leading his men towards the breastworks at the Cotton Gin Painting by Don Troiani

Patrick Cleburne, his famous blue division banner with the distinctive full moon flying above his head, rode towards the breastworks at the Cotton Gin. Red Pepper was shot from beneath him.  He tried mounting another horse loose in the fray, but it too was shot dead. Patrick Cleburne advance on foot, waving his kepi hat for his men to follow him…and they did…straight into the smoky jaws of hell on earth.

Cleburne's final moments as he advances to the breastworks

Cleburne’s final moments as he advances to the breastworks. Painting by Dale Gallon

Cleburne and his men at the Cotton Gin Artist Unknown

Cleburne and his men at the Cotton Gin Artist Unknown

Five hours later, the guns fell silent , only the moans of the wounded and dying could be heard in the frosty night air.  The Union forces escaped across the Harpeth River and were on the road to Nashville.  The Confederates were left in possession of the battlefield but there was no glory and no victory.

The enormity of the carnage was revealed in the early dawn. Thousands of men lay dead on the frost covered ground.

Dawn breaks over the carnage at the Cotton Gin Artist Unknown

Dawn breaks over the carnage at the Cotton Gin “Bringing Cleburne In” Painting by Mort Kunstler

His men found General Cleburne’s body near the Cotton Gin, scene of some of the most vicious fighting of the entire War.  He had been shot once on his left side. His kepi hat lay across his face ‘as though he was asleep’.  His sword, belt, diary and boots had all been stolen during the night. His men carried him and four other Confederate Generals to nearby Carnton Plantation, where the wounded had been taken for treatment. They were gently laid on the back porch.

The Porch at Carnton., where the bodies of General Patrick Cleburne, General Ortho Strahl, General John Adams, and General Hiram Granbury were all laid after the Battle

The Porch at Carnton Plantation, where the bodies of General Patrick Cleburne, General Ortho Strahl, General John Adams, and General Hiram Granbury were laid after the Battle. Two other Generals- General States Rights Gist and General John Carter were also killed at Franklin but not brought to Carnton

In early December, Patrick Cleburne was laid to rest in the graveyard of St John’s Episcopal Church, near Mt Pleasant, Tennessee.  Hood’s forces had stopped there as they approached Spring Hill.  At the time, Cleburne was reported to have said to a friend, ” It would not be so hard to die if one could be buried in such a beautiful place”. Several years after the War, his mortal remains were re-interred in St Helena, Arkansas, the place in his adopted homeland of America, he had called home.

St John's Episcopal Church Mt Pleasant TN

St John’s Episcopal Church Mt Pleasant TN

On December 5th, far to the south, in Mobile, Alabama, Cleburne’s fiancée Sue Tarleton walked in the her garden in the late afternoon sunshine. It was in this very garden, earlier in the Spring, surrounded by blooming azaleas that Cleburne had proposed to his “Miss Sue” after a 2 month courtship. He returned to his command the next day.  Although they continued to write, they were never to see each other in this life again.

Sue Tarleton

A little newspaper boy rounded the corner of Claiborne Avenue, hawking the evening news.  ” Big Battle near Franklin, Tennessee, General Cleburne killed”.  Sue Tarleton fainted among the dead leaves of her winter garden.

The Battle of Franklin is quite unique in that it was fought during the night hours. Because it occurred so late in the War, The Battle of Franklin has not, until recently, been given its proper place in the history books.  Yet, it was one of the most deadly battles of the War. The battle raged for a mere five hours.  In terms of total losses 1750 men were killed on the Confederate side, including the loss of six Generals. Over 5,000 men were wounded and 705 captured. The Union dead numbered less than 200.  The Army of Tennessee had been destroyed by the recklessness of its own Commander John Bell Hood.

“It was a bloodbath of unparalleled proportions, one that cost John Bell Hood approximately one third of his total infantry sent to attack the Federal entrenchments. It was perhaps the greatest and most useless sacrifice of life the war ever witnessed”  Eric Jacobson, author  For Cause and For Country

Putting the  numbers into perspective – Hood lost one third of his infantry. In the Seven Days Campaign of 1862, General George McClellan (USA) fought  General Robert R Lee (CSA) for seven days and suffered a loss of 1734 men killed.  At Chancellorsville in 1863, the 97,000 men of General Joe Hooker (USA) fought for two days and had fewer battle deaths than Hood’s 20,000 men at Franklin.  The staggering and stunning loss of six Generals and a total of 54 Regimental Commanders can not be understated.

In a war known for great carnage, General John Bell Hood slaughtered his Army at Franklin. Private Sam Watkins in his memoirs, ‘Company Atch’, summarized the horror..

“Franklin is the blackest page in the history of the War of The Lost Cause. It was the bloodiest battle of modern times in any war. It was the finishing stroke to the Independence of the Southern Confederacy. I was there. I saw it”

Some 75 years later, historian Stanley Horn would write:

The Annals of War may be long searched for  a parallel to the desperate valor of the Army of Tennessee at Franklin, a charge which has been called the  ‘greatest drama in American history’— Army of Tennessee 1941

Unlike Vicksburg or Gettysburg, there is no large military park at Franklin. The battlefield was largely urbanized after the War.  However, through the magnificent efforts of civil war enthusiasts, historians, private citizens and the Battle of Franklin Trust, much is known of the battle and the field is slowly being reclaimed.

The Cotton Gin has long disappeared from the landscape, but the Carter House, scene of desperate fighting and carnage still stands. Hundreds of bullet holes are still visible  in the walls…silent testimony to the horror of that night.  Tours are given and the adjacent museum is a historical treasure trove.  General Cleburne’s jacket and recently his kepi hat are on display.

The Carter House-scene of some of the most ferocious fighting of the War

The Carter House-scene of some of the most ferocious fighting of the War

Carnton Plantation, made famous by  Robert Hicks’ novel, ‘Widow of the South’, still watches over the silent cemetery where hundreds of  Confederate soldiers are buried.

Carnton Plantation and Confederate Cemetary

Carnton Plantation and Confederate Cemetery

It is the largest privately owned military cemetery in the nation. The wooden floors of the upper level of the house, where the wounded were taken for surgery after the battle, still bear the bloodstains left by the dying 151 years ago.

Several key areas of the battlefield have been reclaimed from urbanization due to the untiring efforts of enthusiasts and the Battle of Franklin Trust. The spot where General Cleburne died was once the parking lot of a pizza parlour.  It is now a lush verdant green space with a memorial and historical marker. There are plans to create an entire park and rebuild the Cotton Gin. It is an exciting time!

Cleburne Memorial- Franklin Battlefield

Cleburne Memorial- Franklin Battlefield

To the memory of the men who fought so valiantly and against impossible odds at Franklin…Requiescat in Pace…for you are not forgotten….

Nothing is Ever Forgotten….

The Annual Illumination at Carnton Plantation--over 10,000 candles, each representing the dead and wounded of the Battle of Franklin. Blue and Gray. Requiescat in Pace

The Annual Illumination at Carnton Plantation–over 10,000 candles, each representing the dead and wounded of the Battle of Franklin. Blue and Gray. Requiescat in Pace

 

Sources and References:

Five Tragic Hours….The Battle of Franklin   James Lee McDonough and Thomas Connelly , University of Tennessee Press, 1983

For Cause and For Country  Eric A. Jacobson and Richard A. Rupp. O’More Publishing , 2008

Battle of Franklin Trust

Carnton Plantation

The Civil War Trust

Save the Franklin Battlefield

 

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What Paul Revere did not say….

Two hundred and forty years ago tonight, on the Eve of the American Revolution, Patriot Paul Revere and William Dawes made their famous ride….this post was written as my first blog post a few months ago….but it is appropriate to repost tonight…..

History and literature are often intertwined…and sometimes become one, leaving us with enshrined myths that are hard to dispel after decades or centuries.  One needs only look at the treatment King Richard III received at the hands of the Bard to see the power of the pen.

However, King Richard is not the subject of this post…although he will most assuredly be putting in an appearance or two or more at a later date.

The piece of literature  in discussion today was written by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Who, in 1860, penned the memorable lines that once upon a time, every school child in America recited and can still recall …

Listen my children, and you shall hear

of the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere….

With the stirring cadence of the poem, it is almost impossible not to envision the Patriot Paul Revere, a silver smith by trade, galloping through the darkened streets to warn the colonists of approaching danger.

He said to his friend, “if the British march

by land or sea from the town tonight,

hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch

of the North Church Tower as a signal light–

One if by land, two if by sea…”

Paul Revere's Ride

Paul Revere’s Ride

Revere along with William Dawes were instructed by Dr. Joseph Warren to ride from Boston to Lexington on the night of 18 April 1775, to warn  patriots Sam Adams and John Hancock that the British Army Infantry regulars ( also known as Red Coats or Lobster Backs to the colonists) were planning to capture them and seize the weapon stores the colonists had stockpiled in Concord.

Revere crossed the Charles River to Charlestown on the opposite shore to begin his ride to Lexington. Dawes was directed by Dr. Warren to  ride via the Boston Neck and land route to Lexington.  As they rode, they warned patriots along their routes, who in turn saddled their horses and rode to continue the warnings. It is estimated there were as many as 40 riders that night.

The route taken by Revere, Dawes and Prescott 18 April 1775 by Paul Revere House website

The route taken by Revere, Dawes and Prescott 18 April 1775 by Paul Revere House website

As Revere rode towards Lexington he did not shout the famous phrase attributed to him “The British are Coming , the British are coming”. Not only was secrecy vital to the mission, the area was full of patrols, but the Colonists would have been quite confused.  The Colonists for the most part were British subjects and thus considered  themselves British.

Witnesses to the ride, as well as Revere’s own descriptions were that he warned the “Regulars are coming out”. However the image and the phrase ” The British are Coming”are forever  enshrined in the lexicon of Americana.

Having successfully warned Hancock and Adams around Midnight, Revere and Dawes decide to ride on to Concord.  They were joined by Samuel Prescott , a young doctor who was in Lexington returning home in the very early morning hours.

paul-reveres-ride-map1

Map of the Routes taken by Revere, Dawes and Prescott 18 April 1775 by National Park Service

On their way to Concord the three Patriot riders were detained by Regular troops at a roadblock in Lincoln. Prescott and Dawes managed to escape.  Prescott reached Concord in time to warn the militia. Dawes fell from his horse and was later captured. Revere was detained, questioned and ultimately escorted at gunpoint back to Lexington.

By the time they reached Lexington, dawn was breaking and the sound of gunfire broke the morning stillness.  Alarmed the Regulars released Revere minus his horse and rode toward Lexington Green.  The American  Revolution had begun…

Revere walked to Rev Clarke’s House where  John Hancock and  Sam Adams were staying. As the Battle of Lexington continued Revere helped Hancock and his family to safety.

It is  not a coincidence that Longfellow wrote his poem on the eve of the  American Civil War. Once again the Nation faced uncertainty, turmoil and turbulence. By 1860 Paul Revere had largely been forgotten; his role in the hours leading to the Battles of Lexington and Concord not particularly celebrated during his life. In lifting Revere out of historical obscurity and casting him as a national hero, Longfellow caught the nation’s imagination as the drums of war began to be heard across the land once  again.

Henry  Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today the Ride of Paul Revere is re-enacted each year with due credit to Dawes and Prescott who were not immortalized by Longfellow.

A cry of defiance, and not of fear,

A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,

And a word that shall echo forevermore!

For borne on the night-wind of the Past ,

Through all our history , to the last

In the hour of darkness and peril and need,

The people will waken and listen to hear

The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,

And the midnight message of Paul Revere

Sources

Patriot’s History of the United States Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen

Online Resources

The American Revolution

Revolutionary War and Beyond

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow- Maine Historical Society

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In Memoriam…..RMS Titanic

On 10 April 1912, the RMS Titanic steamed out of South Hampton UK, enroute to New York, via Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland.  In South Hampton, as well as Cherbourg and Queenstown, crowds gathered for a glimpse of the world’s largest and most glamorous passenger ship.  She carried 2, 234 passengers and crew.

She sailed out of Queenstown on 11 April,  amidst the pomp and panoply that accompanies a great ship’s Maiden Voyage.

Thought to be the last known photo of the Titanic.  Taken as she steamed out of Queenstown, Ireland 11 April 1912 Photo may have been taken by Jesuit Priest Frances Brown

Thought to be the last known photo of the Titanic. Taken as she steamed out of Queenstown, Ireland
11 April 1912
Photo may have been taken by Jesuit Priest Frances Brown

She carried some of the world’s wealthiest individuals and the poorest, desperate for a new beginning in America.

She never made safe harbor again.  Minutes before Midnight on the icy cold night of 14 April 1912, only 4 days into her maiden voyage the unthinkable happened. It was a clear night with fields of bright  stars above the sea.  There was no moon lighting the water. There, in the middle of the dark Atlantic Ocean, RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg that buckled the hull plates, ultimately popping rivets and compromising the water tight compartments, sending her to an icy grave and into the mists of legend.

The Infamous Iceberg? photographed in North Atlantic mere miles from the Titanic tragedy.  Photographed by Chief Steward on Geman steamer SS Prinz Adalbert. He had not yet heard of the Titanic's fate, but saw the iceberg had a  red paint streak along its base- indicating it may have been hit by a passing ship

The Infamous Iceberg?
photographed in North Atlantic mere miles from the Titanic tragedy.
Photographed by Chief Steward on Geman steamer SS Prinz Adalbert. He had not yet heard of the Titanic’s fate, but saw the iceberg had a red paint streak along its base- indicating it may have been hit by a passing ship

The mighty ship and passengers clung to life for almost three hours. At 2:15 the ship began to list dangerously, and the hull began to rise out of the sea, the lights flickered and then went out forever. At 2:20 the great ‘unsinkable’ ship,  slipped under the dark waves with more than 1500 souls on board.

As dawn broke, the only sign of the disaster was the tiny flotilla of lifeboats carrying the survivors… some not even close to full. They were surrounded by debris and the frozen bodies of their fellow passengers, kept afloat by their lifejackets.  A passenger on the rescue ship RMS Carpathia, which had dodged several icebergs on the way to the Titanic, wrote of their first view  of the survivors surrounded by “fields of ice on which, like points on the landscape, rested innumerable pyramids of ice.”

Titanic survivors  photographed from  the deck of the   RMS Carpathia  15 April 1912

Titanic survivors
photographed from
the deck of the
RMS Carpathia
15 April 1912

Only 705 people survived the Titanic disaster.  The World was stunned, then outraged by the tragedy and boards of inquiry were set up on both sides of the Atlantic.  New safety regulations and requirements were put into place to ensure such a maritime disaster never happened again.

Newspaper Headline    Loss  of RMS Titanic  15 April 1912

Newspaper Headline
Loss of RMS Titanic
15 April 1912

There is much more to say of the Titanic, and so shall it be on these pages….but for now let us remember those lost 15 April 1912…..Requiescat in Pace

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The Last Salute of the Army of Northern Virginia

On the 9th of April 1865, General Robert E. Lee signed the Articles of Surrender at Appomattox in the presence of General Ulysses S. Grant.  This was one of the last officially recorded events of the American Civil War. As General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin told a Boston Journal writer in 1901

“The war was over when Lee signed the terms of surrender, and with the closing of the war all official record-writing ceased.”

The Surrender at Appomattox  9 April 1865 Painting by Tom Lovell

The Surrender at Appomattox
9 April 1865
Painting by Tom Lovell

We would know very little about the calm, peaceful and orderly disbanding of the Confederate Army, if not for General Chamberlin’s poignant account in his memoir “Passing of the Armies”

General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin  United States Army

General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin
United States Army

Fate and General Grant assigned  General Chamberlin, the hero of Little Round Top, Gettysburg, the duty of officially witnessing and receiving the weapons and flags of the defeated Confederates at Appomattox.

As the sun rose on the morning of April 12, 1865, the ragged, tattered but proud Army of Northern Virginia lined up  to surrender their weapons and flags to the Union Army of the Potomac. The Union soldiers held their rifles in the “carry” position, indicating a “marching salute,” as the Confederates passed by. This display of “honor answering honor” evoked great emotion in both armies.

Union Forces salute the Confederates at Appomattox  12 April 1865 Old Glory Prints.com

Union Forces salute the Confederates at Appomattox
12 April 1865
Old Glory Prints.com

General Chamberlin writes of the emotional moment in “Passing of the Armies”

“It was now the morning of the 12th of April. I had been ordered to have my lines formed for the ceremony at sunrise. It was a chill gray morning….We formed to face the last line of battle, and receive the last remnant of the arms and colors of that great army which ours had been created to confront…We were remnants also….

We could not look into those braved, bronzed faces, and those battered flags we had met on so many fields where glorious manhood lent a glory to the earth that bore it, and think of personal hate and mean revenge. Whoever had misled these men, we had not. We had led them back home….

Forgive us, therefore, if from stern and steadfast faces, eyes dimmed with tears gazed at each other across that pile of storied relics so dearly laid down, and brothers’ hands were glad to reach across that rushing tide of memories which divided us, yet made us forever one.”…

The Surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia Ken Riley,1965 Courtesy of WestPoint Museume

The Surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia
Ken Riley,1965
Courtesy of WestPoint Museum

Surely, the knowledge of the ironic twist of fate was heavy in the air, but unspoken…….exactly 4 years previously , April 12, 1861 Confederate Forces fired the first shot of the American Civil War on the attack on  Fort Sumter…..

Sources:

Passing of the Armies, Joshua Chamberlin  Public Domain

The  Civil War Trust

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The Fall of Richmond

On this day 3 April 1865, the Union Forces commanded by General Ulysses S Grant entered the Confederate Capitol of Richmond Virginia, unopposed.

Civil war- fall of richmond

Union Forces entering Richmond Virginia while parts of the City were engulfed by fires set by the fleeing Confederate Forces

General Robert E. Lee, and his Army of Northern Virginia, evacuated both Petersburg and Richmond during the night of 2 April, knowing that if they stayed they would be trapped.  They burned Richmond as they left the City.

civil war- richmond fires

The War which spanned Five April’s was coming to a close….

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Book Reviews

Book Reviews coming soon…..

medieval- books are carriers of civ_n

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