Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Religious Life of Robert E. Lee -- A Book Review

Book analyses Robert E. Lee's walk with God
by Mike Jones
      Although I've read many biographies on the life of the great General Robert E. Lee, they understandably dealt mostly with Lee's military career. When I first saw the "The Religious Life of  Robert E. Lee" by R. David Cox (Eerdsman's Publishing Co. 2017) was coming out, I immediately wanted  to get it.
     Now that I have read it, I must say I was not disappointed. The author was very complete in his analysis of Lee's religious beliefs, but also the major theological and familial influences on his spiritual formation. It also goes into how his faith became stronger and stronger throughout his life. While I don't necessarily agree with all of Cox's opinions and interpretations, I  think he was very fair and balanced in his evaluation.
    Starting out with Lee's family ancestry and the religious world into which he was born, the author goes into quite a  bit of detail about Anglicism and how it evolved in to a more evangelical form in Virginia. Cox notes the great influence Lee's mother (Ann Hill Carter Lee) had on his spiritual formation. She was a devout Protestant Evangelical Episcopalian. Lee formed a life long practice of church attendance, daily prayer and Bible reading no matter where he was.
     This obviously was a powerful influence in shaping his character and the way he conducted himself in all aspects of life. He married into a likewise Protestant   Evangelical Episcopalian family when he married Mary Custis, the step-great-granddaughter of George Washington. While his wife was at first worried that Lee was not religious enough, he steadily increased in the power of his faith until he matched or exceeded her own evangelical fervor.
      Robert and Mary were blessed with seven healthy children, three boys and four girls, that formed into a truly ideal Christian family unit. The Lee family was very strong in its daily prayer life. Lee was also active in the various churches he attended and was a member of during his long and varied  military career.
     During the War for Southern Independence, Lee was supportive of military chaplains of all faiths and encouraged and supported their spiritual guidance of the Confederate soldiers under his command. Lee was also a paragon of virtue and courage in the personal example he always presented to those who served under him, as well as to his whole family.
     After the war, as president of Washington College in Lexington, Va., Lee considered the Christian formation of each student to be the most important part of their education. Besides having the historic chapel at Washington & Lee University built, he encouraged daily student chapel attendance for an ecumenical service, for which he himself set the example. Lee also encouraged the students to attend the church of their choice in the community.
     In spite of all the trials and tribulations that he underwent in his eventful life, he never wavered in his unshakable Christian faith and came down with his last fatal disease shortly after attending a vestry meeting at the Grace Episcopal Church in Lexington.
     The book, published by Eerdman's Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. (www.eerdmans.com), has 336 pages, photographs, endnotes, bibliography, index, photographs. $26.00, trade paperback.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


[Excerpted from The Irish in America by John Francis Maguire, 1868]

But there is a grave amidst the countless graves that
mark the scene of one of the deadliest conflicts of the war,
on which I would drop a kindly tribute — that is the grave
of Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, one of the noblest of the
soldiers of the Confederacy.

Patrick Ronayne Cleburne was born within a few miles
of the city of Cork. His father — the son of a country
gentleman in Tipperary — was for many years physician of

the dispensary districts of Ovens and Ballincollig; his
mother. Miss Ronayne, was a lady from Queenstown.
Patrick, the youngest of three sons, was partly educated
for the medical profession; but his tastes, from his earliest
youth, tending to a military career, and, owing to his
father's second marriage, which resulted in a second and
numerous family, not being able to purchase a commission
as an officer in the British Army, he in his eighteenth
year enlisted in the 41st regiment as a private soldier.
He remained in the service until he was twenty-one^ when
he was purchased out by his friends. But these three
years of military training in one of the most thoroughly
disciplined armies of Europe was of incalculable advantage
to him in after life. He emigrated to America when the
war broke out; and it found the young Cork man prac-
tising with success as a lawyer in Helena, Arkansas.

I have been favoured with an admirable biographical
sketch of General Cleburne by this attached friend and
distinguished commander. General W. T. Hardee, one of
the most thoroughly accomplished soldiers of either army;
and referring the reader to that sketch, which will be
found in the Appendix, I shall here simply indicate what
manner of man was this Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, who
learned his knowledge of military drill and discipline in
the ranks of the 41st British regiment of infantry. To
begin, then; this heroic Irishman, who was as strong as a
wall of granite to the foe, was as simple as a child, and
as modest as a girl; and that voice that rang like a
trumpet when cannon roared, and balls whistled about his
head, was low and gentle and hesitating when he was
exposed to the most formidable of all batteries to him, a
pair of eyes in the head of any woman of moderate youth
or ordinary attractions. His personnel is thus sketched by
a worthy countryman of his, whom he visited in Mobile, on
the occasion of the marriage of his friend General Hardee,
whose  ‘best man’ he was on that interesting occasion :  In
person he was about five feet nine or ten inches high,
slender in form, with a wiry active look. His forehead
was high and broad, with high cheek bones, cheeks rather
hollow, and face diminishing in width towards the chin,
the upper features being more massive than the lower.
The general expression of his countenance in repose was
serious and thoughtful ; but in conversation he was ani-
mated and impressive, while his whole air and manner
were remarkably unpretending.'

General Cleburne dining one day with the good Irish-
man whose words 1 have quoted, informed him that he
had made up his mind during the war to be a total
abstainer, because he found that in his pistol practice and
in playing chess, of which game he was remarkably fond,
even one glass of wine affected his aim, or interfered with
his calculation. He determined, therefore, while the war
lasted, and he was responsible for the lives of others, and
the results consequent on the manner in which he should
discharge his duties, that he would abstain altogether
from the use of all kinds of liquor.

Cleburne was in favour of arming the negroes as sol-
diers, conferring upon them and their families freedom as
a bounty. He, with several distinguished generals, signed
a petition to President Davis to that effect, and he per-
sonally offered to take command of a division of such
troops, when raised. But the movement failed on account
of the opposition which it met with. In private conversa-
tion he said that the general sentiment of the world was
against the Confederacy on the question of slavery, and
that Southerners could look nowhere for active sympathy
unless they made some such arrangement as he mentioned :
and he unhesitatingly expressed his belief, that the success
of the cause depended upon its adoption. He did not
pronounce a decided opinion against slavery in the abstract,
but he regarded the system in the South as having
glaring defects and evils, especially the utter disregard
of the married rights of the slaves, which, he said, was
enough to deprive the States in witch this evil existed
of the aid of Providence in the war. The opinions held
by General Cleburne were those emphatically expressed
in writing and from the pulpit by the Catholic Bishops of
Richmond and Savannah.

The opinions of a man of Cleburne's stamp, as to the
character of the Irish as soldiers, I give in the words of
the friend who heard them expressed by that great General :
 ‘In reference to the relative merits, as soldiers, of the
‘different kind of men in the service, he said he preferred
‘the Irish, not on the ground of their courage, for of that
‘there was no lack in the Confederate service, but for
other qualities, highly useful in war. After a long day's
‘march they generally had their tents up first; they were
‘more cleanly in their persons ; under the fatigue of hard
‘work, or a heavy march, they showed more endurance,
‘and recovered sooner; they were more cheerful under
' privation; and above all, they were more amenable to
‘discipline. These, he said, were highly useful qualities in
‘war ; and from actual observation he was persuaded the
' Irish soldiers possessed them in a higher degree than any
‘other people that came under his eye.’

Cleburne was one of those Irishmen who never could
understand how it was that his countrymen of the North
could join with the 'Yankee' to oppress and crush the
South; but had he been a lawyer in a Northern or North-
western State, he might have been equally surprised if
anyone had accused him of turning his military knowledge
to the same purpose. His countrymen throughout the
Northern States were proud of his splendid reputation;
while in the South it was not considered second to that of
the very greatest of its commanders. And when he died
— struck by a storm of bullets, as the fore feet of his horse
were planted on the Federal ramparts — a wail of sorrow
and a shudder of despair passed through the land. A
tower of strength had fallen. The dauntless soldier sleeps
in peace in the cemetery whose solemn beauty elicited
the strange remark, as he gazed on it a few days before he
gloriously fell, "It is almost worth dying to rest in so sweet
a spot."

I heard the heroic Irishman thus spoken of by two brave
men — General Buckner and General Hood — who had been
with him in many a memorable fight, and many a bril-
liant victory. Referring to his name, the first-named
general said : —

And particularly did I recall the virtues of the Irish character,
when a few short months ago, I stood, in the twilight hour, over
the grave of one of the noblest sons of Ireland. As I looked upon
the plain board inscribed with his name in pencil lines, and upon the
withered flowers which the fair hands of some of our countrywomen
had strewn upon his grave, I wept silent tears to the glorious memory
of General Patrick Cleburne. He commanded a brigade in my division,
and afterwards succeeded me in the command of troops whom I cannot
more highly praise than to say he was one uf the few who was worthy
to command such men. And conspicuous amongst such gallant men,
and worthy soldiers of such a glorious leader, were Irishmen, who illus-
trated their high military virtues on so many fields, and displayed
on so many occasions their fidelity to the cause they had espoused.

And thus spoke General Hood, who bears in many a
scar and wound eloquent testimonies to his desperate but
unavailing gallantry: —

During the late war it was my fortune to have in my command
organisations composed of your countrymen, and it gives me pleasure
to assert that they were always at their post. And among these brave
men was to be found the gallant Cleburne. His name carries me to
the heights near Franklin. And his last remarks, just before moving
forward, I shall ever remember. He said : 'General, I have my division
in two lines, and at ready. General, I am more hopeful of the success
of our cause than I have ever been since the war commenced.' Within
twenty-five minutes this brave soldier was no more. Within an hour
an army was in mourning over the great loss. Thus ended the career
of this distinguished man — hopeful even at the last hour, but doomed
to disappointment as all other men.

Monday, January 16, 2017

HISTORY AS IT HAPPENED -- List of Confederate Generals as of January 1862

[The Richmond Daily Dispatch, Jan. 16, 1862]

This certificate shows some of the Confederate
Generals listed in the 16 Jan. 1862 article below.
Of course many more were made throughout the war.
(Library of Congress)

List of the General officers in the armies of the Confederate States.
The following interesting statistics of the Confederate Army organization are due to one of the Richmond correspondents of the Courier. In the list of Brigadier- Generals in the Provisional Army, the regular order of appointment is perhaps not always observed, but we believe the list is otherwise correct. The dates of graduation from West Point are taken from Gardner's Dictionary of the United States Army:
General in the regular Army.
  1. 1. Samuel Cooper, Virginia, Adjutant-General.
  2. 2. Albert S. Johnston, Texas, commanding in Kentucky.
  3. 3. Joseph E, Johnston, Virginia, commanding Northern Virginia.
  4. 4. Robert E. Lee, Virginia, commanding South Atlantic coast.
  5. 5. P. G. T. Beauregard, Louisiana, commanding Army of Potomac.
Major-Generals in the Provisional-Army.
  1. 1.*David E. Twiggs, Georgia, resigned.
  2. 2.Leonidas Polk, Louisiana, Commanding at Memphis.
  3. 3.Braxton Bragg, Louisiana, Commanding at Pensacola.
  4. 4.Earl Van Dorn, Mississippi, Army of Potomac.
  5. 5.Gustavus W. Smith, Kentucky, Army of Potomac.
  6. 6.Theopholis H. Holmes, North Carolina, Army of Potomac.
  7. 7.William J. Hardee, Georgia, Missouri.
  8. 8.Benjamin Huger, South Carolina, Commanding at Norfolk.
  9. 9.James Longstreet, Alabama, Army of Potomac.
  10. 10.John B. Magruder, Virginia, Commanding at Yorktown.
  11. 11.Thomas J. Jackson, Virginia, Commanding Northwestern Virginia.
  12. 12.Mansfield Lovell, Virginia, Commanding Coast of Louisiana.
  13. 13.Edmund Kirby Smith, Florida Army of Potomac.
  14. 14.George B. Crittenden, Kentucky, Commanding East Tennessee.
Brigadier-Generals in the Provisional Army.
  1. 1.Milledge L. Bonham, South Carolina, Army of Potomac.
  2. 2.John B. Floyd, Virginia, Commanding Army Kanawha.
  3. 3.Henry A. Wise, Virginia, waiting orders.
  4. 4.Ben McCulloch, Texas, Missouri.
  5. 5.*Henry R Jackson, Georgia, resigned.
  6. 6.*Robert S. Garnett, Virginia, Killed in action.
  7. 7.*William H. T. Walker, Georgia, resigned.
  8. 8.*Barnard E. Bee, South Carolina, Killed in action.
  9. 9.Alexander R. Lywton, Georgia, Commanding Coast of Georgia.
  10. 10.*Gideon J. Pillow, Tennessee, Kentucky.
  11. 11.Samuel R. Anderson, Tennessee, Kentucky.
  12. 12.Daniel S. Donelson, Tennessee, Coast of South Carolina.
  13. 13.David R. JonesSouth Carolina, Army of Potomac.
  14. 14.Jones M. WithersAlabama, Commanding Coast of Alabama.
  15. 15.John C. Pemberton, Virginia, Coast of South Carolina.
  16. 16.Richard S. Ewell, Virginia, Army of Potomac.
  17. 17.John H Winder, Maryland, Richmond.
  18. 18.Jubsl A. Early, Virginia, Army of Potomac.
  19. 19.Thomas B. Flournoy, Arkansas, died in Arkansas.
  20. 20.Samuel Jones, Virginia, Army of Potomac.
  21. 21.Arnold Elzey, Maryland, Army of Potomac.
  22. 22.Daniel H. Hill, North Carolina, Army of Potomac.
  23. 23.Henry H. Sibley, Louisiana, Texas Frontier.
  24. 24.William H. C. Whiting, Georgia, Army of Potomac.
  25. 25.William W. Loring, North Carolina, Western Virginia.
  26. 26.Richard H. Anderson, South Carolina, Pensacola.
  27. 27.Albert Pike, Arkansas, Indian Commissioner.
  28. 28.*Thomas T. Fauntleroy, Virginia, resigned.
  29. 29.Robert Toombs, Georgia, Army of Potomac.
  30. 30.Daniel Ruggles, Virginia, Louisiana.
  31. 31.Charles Clark, Mississippi, Army of Potomac.
  32. 32.Roswell S. Ripley, South Carolina, Coast of South Carolina.
  33. 33.Isaac R. Trimble, Maryland, Army of Potomac.
  34. 34.*John B. Grayson, Kentucky, died in Florida.
  35. 35.Paul O. Hebert, Louisiana, Coast of Texas.
  36. 36.Richard C. Gatlin, North Carolina, Commanding Coast of North Carolina.
  37. 37.Felix K. Zollicoffer, Tennessee, Eastern Kentucky.
  38. 38.Benjamin F. Cheatham, Tennessee, Kentucky.
  39. 39.Joseph R. Anderson, Virginia, Coast North Carolina.
  40. 40.Simon B. Buckner, Kentucky, Kentucky.
  41. 41.Leroy Pope Walker, Alabama, Alabama.
  42. 42.Albert G. Blanchard, Louisiana, Norfolk.
  43. 43.Gabriel J. Rains, North Carolina, Yorktown.
  44. 44.J. E. B. Stuart, Virginia, Army of Potomac.
  45. 45.Lafayette McLaws, Georgia, Yorktown.
  46. 46.Thos. F. Drayton, South Carolina, Coast of South Carolina.
  47. 47.Thomas C. Hindman, Arkansas, Kentucky.
  48. 48.Adley H. Gladden, Louisiana, Pensacola.
  49. 49.John Porter McCown, Tennessee, Kentucky.
  50. 50.Lioyd Tilghman, Kentucky, Kentucky.
  51. 51.Nathan G. Evans, South Carolina, Coast of South Carolina.
  52. 52.Cadmus M. Wilcox, Tennessee, Army of Potomac.
  53. 53.*Philip St. Geo. Cocke, Virginia, died in Virginia.
  54. 54.R. E. Rodes, Alabama, Army of Potomac.
  55. 55.Richard Taylor, Louisiana, Army of Potomac.
  56. 56.Louis T. Wigfall, Texas, Army of Potomac.
  57. 57.James H. Trapier, South Carolina, Coast of Florida.
  58. 58.Samuel G. French, Mississippi, Army of Potomac.
  59. 59.William H. Carroll, Tennessee, East Tennessee.
  60. 60.Hugh W. Mercer, Georgia,--.
  61. 61.Humphrey Marshall, Kentucky, Kentucky.
  62. 62.John C. Breckinridge, Kentucky, Kentucky.
  63. 63.Richard Griffith, Mississippi, Army of Potomac.
  64. 64.Alexander P. Stewart, Kentucky, Kentucky.
  65. 65.William Montgomery Gardner, Georgia, on furlough.
  66. 66.Richard B. Garnett, Virginia, Army of Potomac.
  67. 67.William Mahone, Virginia, Norfolk.
  68. 68.L. O'Brian Branch, North Carolina, Coast of North Carolina.
  69. 69.Maxey Gregg, South Carolina, Coast of South Carolina.
Those having a *affixed are dead, or have resigned since the commencement of the war.
The West Point Generals.
The following Confederate Generals are graduates of West Point — the date of their graduation being prefixed:
  • Class of 1815--Samuel Cooper.
  • Class of 1820--John H. Winder.
  • Class of 1821--Isaac R. Tremble.
  • Class of 1825--Daniel S, Donelson, Benjamin Huger.
  • Class of 1826--Albert S. Johnston, John B. Grayson.
  • Class of 1827--Leonidas Polk, Gabriel J, Rains.
  • Class of 1828--Thomas F, Drayton, Hugh W. Mercer.
  • Class of 1829--Joseph E. Johnston, Robt. E, Lee, Theopholia H. Holmes, Albert G. Blanchard.
  • Class of 1830--John B. Magruder.
  • Class of 1832--George B. Crittenden, P. St. GeorgeCocke, Humphrey Marshall, Richard C Gatlin.
  • Class of 1833--Daniel Ruggles.
  • Class of 1835--Jones M. Withers.
  • Class of 1836--Joseph R. Anderson, Lloyd Tilghman.
  • Class of 1837--Braxton Bragg, Wm. H. T. Walker, John C. Pemberton, Arnold Elzey, Henry H. Sibley, Jubel A. Early.
  • Class of 1838--Wm. J. Hardee, James H, Trapier.
  • Class of 1839--Alex. R. Lawton, John P. McCown.
  • Class of 1840--Richard S. Ewell, Paul O. Habert, Richard B, Garnett.
  • Class of 1841--Robert S. Garnett, Samuel Jones.
  • Class of 1842--Earl Van Dorn, Gustavus W, Smith, Mansfield Lovell, James Long street, Daniel H, Hill, Richard H. Anderson, Lafayette McLaws, Alex. P. Stewart,
  • Class of 1843--Roswell S. Ripley, Samuel G. French.
  • Class of 1844--Simon B, Buckner.
  • Class of 1845--E Kirby Smith, Bernard E. Bee, Wm. B. C. Whiting.
  • Class of 1846--Thomas J. Jackson, Cadmus M. Wilcox, David R. Jones, Wm. M. Gardner.
  • Class of 1848--Nathan G. Evans.
  • Class of 1854--J. E. B. Stuart.
Generals who were not graduates at West Point.
     The following Generals were appointed to the old United States Army, without passing through the West Point Academy; David E, Twiggs, appointed in 1812; Wm. W. Loring, in 1836; Thos, T. Fauntleroy, in 1836.
     The following Generals first saw, service in the Mexican war; M. L. Bonham, Henry R. Jackson, Gideon J, Pillow, Samuel R. Anderson, Chas. Clark, Thos. C. Hindman, John C. Breckinridge, Benj. F. Cheatham, Richard Griffith, Albert Pike, Adley H. Gladden, Maxcy Gregg.
     The following Generals participated in the Texan wars and the wars with Mexico; Ben McCulloch, Louis, T. Wigfall.
     The following Generals saw no military service previous to the present war; John B. Floyd, Henry A. Wise, Robert Toombs, Richard Taylor, Thos. B. Flournoy, L. Pope Walker, F. K. Zollicoffer, William Mahone, L. O'B Branch, William H. Carroll, R. E. Rodes. Some, however, received military educations at State institutions.
      Virginia has 16 Generals in the Confederate armies, South Carolina 9, Louisiana 8, Georgia 7, Tennessee 8, North Carolina 6, Kentucky 7, Maryland 4, Alabama 4, Mississippi 4, Texas 3, Arkansas 2, Florida 1, Missouri none.
     The following were born at the North, though previous to the present war they were citizens of Southern States: General Cooper, born in New York; Ripley, in Ohio, Pemberton, in Pennsylvania; Whiting, in Massachusetts; Pike, in Massachusetts; Ruggles, in Massachusetts; Blanchard, in Massachusetts; French, in New Jersey.
     The following Confederate Generals are South Carolinians, viz: Huger, Bonham, Bee, (dead,) D. R. Jones, Ripley, R. H. Anderson, Drayton, Evans, Trapier, and Gregg, and the following are natives of South Carolina, though citizens of other States, viz: Longstreet, of Alabama; Lawton, of Georgia; Donelson, of Tennessee; Withers, of Alabama; Hill, of North Carolina; Gladden, of Louisiana; and Wigfall, of Texas.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

HISTORY AS IT HAPPENED -- Confederate piety

Stonewall Jackson at Camp Prayer Meeting
(Library of Congress)

[The Richmond Daily Dispatch Jan. 3, 1863]
The piety of the Confederates.
A Baltimore correspondent, writing to the London Index, says:
But before I close I must tell you of the beautiful humility and heroic piety which seemed to pervade the hearts of all the Confederates I saw. I have never seen a strong religious sentiment so generally prevalent as I find it among them. Of twenty men with whom I conversed one afternoon, seventeen were professors of religion, and the eighteenth said he was a man of prayer, and looked to God as his protector. A plain, unlettered Georgia boy said: "In all my intercourse with these Yankees, I have never heard them allude once to what God can do. They talk about what twenty millions of men can do, and what hundreds of millions of money can do, and what their powerful navy can do; but they leave God out of the calculation altogether; but, sir, the Lord is our trust, and He will be our defence." The Rev.--was with me during a part of my tour. He was asked on one occasion to lead in prayer, in a barn filled with wounded, near Sharpsburg. After a season of most solemn and affecting devotion, a young man called the reverend gentleman to his side, and said: "I am dying, sir; but I am not afraid to die, for I hope to go to heaven. Nor am I sorry that I have been slain in battle, for I would willingly sacrifice a dozen lives if I had them for such a cause as we are fighting for."

Time and again I heard the 124th Psalm quoted: "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us; then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us. Blessed be the Lord, who bath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth."

They are not given to vaunting themselves; there is nothing as all of the spirit of bravado about them; and so far from manifesting a ferocious disposition, they very frankly confess they are tired of the war; but at the same time they are animated by a determined resolution that, God helping them, they will never be subjugated. When one of them was asked if he did not fear that the prodigious armies now organizing against them would utterly overwhelm them, he replied that, "with God above, and General Lee at their head, they feared nothing that man could do." History, sir, furnishes no legends more touching and glorious than are exhibited in the sacrifices and endurance of the Southern people. Such a people merit the admiration of the world, and deserve to achieve their independence.

Pardon me for saying so much, but incident after incident arose in my mind, and so clamored for relation that I could not sooner stop.

Monday, January 2, 2017

HISTORY AS IT HAPPENED: The intelligence from the West.

The Richmond Daily Dispatch: Jan. 2, 1863:

    The telegram of General Bragg announces a great victory, after a bloody battle, at Murfreesboro. We should at once give way to the most joyful feelings, were it not for the concluding sentence, which announces that the enemy still he'd out on the extreme left. We confess this acts as somewhat of a damper upon our pleasure, which would otherwise be unmeasured, and we will not give way to our feelings until we hear what has become of the enemy on the extreme left. We recollect but too well the telegram from Corinth announcing a
Gen. Braxton Bragg
splendid victory, and the announcement which followed a few days after. We recollect Shiloh, also, and the second edition of the news from that point. We do not wish to clamp the enthusiasm of our readers. So far as heard from, the victory is a splendid one. Four thousand prisoners and thirty-one guns make if among the most splendid of the war. All we hope is that trouble some "extreme left" may have been gotten out of the way or captured. Then, indeed, our joy would be complete, and we should not only about ourselves but call on the whole Confederate States to about with us.
     Should the signs hold out to the last, and the cup of victory not be dashed from the mouth of General Bragg before he shall have fairly tasted its contents, this will have been one of the most important events of the whole war. It will prove, if we are not mistaken, the turning point in the affairs of the West. The Western people, discouraged by frequent failures, will be reanimated to the point of giving an irresistible impulse to our military proceedings. The winter campaign in that quarter, so largely counted on by the enemy, will have proved a failure even before it shall have begun. The whole South and Southwest will rally, our armies will become concentrated, and under the lead of General Johnston they will be invincible.
     The intelligence from Vicksburg, also, is cheering. We really believe there is very little reason to fear for Vicksburg. It is probably the most defensible city on the continent, except Grand Gulf and Natchez, from a land attack. The country in its rear is broken and rolling, and strong positions, where a small army may set a large one at defiance, sound everywhere. Advantage, we understand, has been taken to the almost of all the local features which it presents. Stupendous fortifications rise in all directions — fortifications which nothing we have yet seen of Yankee valor warrants us to believe that they will attack with success.
[Editor's Note: This article references the battles of Murphressboro, Tenn. and the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou above Vicksburg in Mississippi.]

Friday, December 23, 2016

[The Richmond Daily Dispatch, Dec. 26, 1864]
Christmas 1864.
One of the most charming productions of Dickens in that "Christmas Carol," in which he tells of an old miser, Scrooge, whose cold nature was unlocked by the genial inferences of a certain Christmas, and who became thereafter the most benevolent and charitable of mankind. We wish that some of the persuasive visions of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas to come, which worked such a wholesome influence upon the mind of the English miser, could make themselves left in the adamant natures of our Confederate Scrooges. Objects of compassion may be found at every step, in comparison with whose condition that of Bob Crotchett and Play Tim was happy and luxurious. We should like to know whether Christmas, which showers its bounties upon the heads of the extortioners and speculators, will melt their hearts towards their suffering fellow-men, or whether even the warm rain of Divine benevolence will freeze as it falls through such an icy temperature.

We can scarcely bring ourselves to wish our readers a merry Christmas in such an ere of selfishness and coldness of soul. The face of nature itself is not as dreary, the frozen streams are not as cold, as the hearts of men have been rendered-by the absorbing thirst of gain and gold. Beneath the hard crust of the earth lie buried those principles of life which will clothe its surface with the beauties of spring and the harvests of summer, and the imprisoned waters will soon break their icy chains and run-warm and sparkling in the sun's fervid rays. But what life is there in the soul cankered by the greed of gain? What spring shall cause the desert to blossom or the arctic ice to melt?

But even amidst the general corruption there remain some men who hold fast their integrity, and to them we appeal to celebrate this Christmas by deeds of extraordinary mercy and charity to the extraordinary sufferers by this war. In the hospitals and in the habitations of the poor are hundreds and thousands whose Christmas will be sad and solitary unless cheered by the visitations and benevolence of those whom Providence has made the objects of its blessing and the almoners of its bounty. Amid the solemn scenes of this awful struggle we can in no way celebrate Christmas so appropriately as in those acts of mercy and compassion which bless him that gives and him that receives. He that remembereth the poor will be remembered by God in his own time of trouble and affection.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

[The Richmond Daily Dispatch, Nov. 5, 1863]

HISTORY AS IT HAPPENED: Confederates Concentrate at Niblett's Bluff, La.
     The intentions of the Confederates in Texas.
The New Orleans correspondent of the New York Herald, writing on the 16th ult., gives the programme adopted by the "rebel" leaders in Texas and the trans-Mississippi districts. He says:
     The armies now commanded by Holmes, Price, and Parsons, in Arkansas; the forces of Smith, Hobart, and Taylor, in Northern and Central Louisiana; those of Greene, Straight, and Major, in the southern part of the State, and part of the troops of Magruder, in Texas, are to be concentrated at Niblett's Bluffs, on the Sabine river, which, together with the lake of the same name, forms the boundary between Louisiana and Texas. The evacuated regions necessary to be occupied, for military reasons — for instance, demonstration against the advance of our armies — will be held by a mere handful of mounted men, depending upon the co-operation of guerilla bands in cases of a move upon our part.
     The point of concentration chosen by the enemy exhibits no insignificant sagacity. Sabine Lake lies immediately upon the Gulf coast, being connected with the Gulf by a narrow channel known as Sabine Pass. The lake is formed by the inflow of the waters of the Sabine and Neches rivers. Upon the Louisiana side of the Sabine is situated Niblet's Bluffs; in almost the same latitude, on the west side of the Neches, lies Beaumont — a small town. Between the two points — by land across the peninsula formed by the two rivers — there lies an immense swamp, impassable at some seasons of the year even to local conveyances; but for the passage of an army, its infantry, cavalry, artillery, baggage and supply trains, would be at all times impracticable. However, by running from Niblet's Bluffs down the Sabine river, across the lake, and thence up the Neches to Beaumont, form an excellent water communication between the Bluffs and Beaumont, the distance being but eighty-eight miles. For purposes of navigation by this route the enemy has about twelve light draught steamers.
     Upon these excellent considerations Niblett's Bluffs has been chosen as the defensive or offensive positions of their concentrated armies, and Beaumont the base of supplies; for, from that place to Houston, Texas, the communication by road is passable, and at Houston the cattle and entire agricultural resources of Texas can be centred for transportation to Beaumont and thence to their army at the bluffs.
     The entire force of the enemy when here centred will not exceed thirty thousand. Their armies in the extreme West have suffered a greater depletion than those of the East, and more from disease than by the casualties of battle or campaign.
     The enemy is resolutely determined to hold Texas, for the possession of that State by us will put an end to the existence, as an aggregate, of their armies on the west side of the river.