By Judith N. McArthur
In 1861, James B. Griffin left Edgefield, South Carolina and rode off to Virginia to soak up 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 looking puppy. He used to be thirty-five years outdated, a prosperous planter, and the landlord of sixty-one slaves while he joined Wade Hampton's elite Legion as an enormous of cavalry. He left in the back of seven kids, the eldest in simple terms twelve, and a spouse who was once 8 and a part months pregnant. As a box officer in a prestigious unit, the possibilities for reputation and glory appeared unlimited. Griffin, even if, played no bold acts, nor did he encourage nice loyalty in his males. as a substitute, he unknowingly supplied a different and precious 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 accrued 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. remarkable of their breadth and quantity, the letters surround Griffin's complete Civil warfare carrier, detailing dwelling stipulations and armed forces maneuvers, the jockeying for place between officials, and the various methods officials and enlisted males interacted throughout the Civil warfare. in contrast to the recollections and biographies of high-ranking, famous accomplice officials or experiences and edited collections of letters of individuals of the rank and dossier, this assortment sheds gentle at the lifetime of a center officer--a existence grew to become the wrong way up via severe army hassle and complex extra 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 activities in a number of army activities corresponding to the Hampton Legion's position within the Peninsula crusade (details that might definitely were censored in additional fresh wars). right here he relates the march from Manassas to Fredricksburg, the siege of Yorktown and the retreat to Richmond, and the battling at Eltham's touchdown and 7 Pines, the place Griffin commanded the legion after Hampton was once wounded. all through, as Griffin recounts those such a lot notable of instances, he illuminates the main traditional of daily concerns. One may possibly look forward to finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. as a substitute, we're faced by means of easy humanity and easy issues, from the elements to gossip. huge ancient occasions intruded on Griffin's existence and despatched him off to warfare, yet his heartfelt concerns have been approximately his relatives, his group, and his personal own delight. eventually, Griffin's letters current the Civil struggle because the refinery, the ordeal by way of fireplace, that demonstrated and verified--or modified--Southern upperclass values. With a desirable mixture of army and social background, A Gentleman and an Officer strikes from the start of the Civil conflict at fortress Sumter during the finish of the conflict and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil struggle have been right now devastatingly nationwide and revealingly neighborhood.
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Extra resources for A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War
14 "A Gentleman and an Officer" the names of her aunt and her mother. The preponderance of maternal lineage names among the Griffin children reflects the Burt clan's much larger size. Names such as Harwood, Armistead, and Moody, Mary Ann, Harriet, and Caroline had been passed on for generations. Kinship communities in Edgefield District were linked at many junctures. Griffin was kin by blood or marriage to the Butler, Bonham, Lipscomb, and Nicholson families, to name some of the more notable ones.
Burton, In My Fathers House Are Many Mansions, 72. " In 1915 he replied, "Generally they did. " In 1922, he remembered that the upper class did not mingle with others. "They considered themselves and families above the former classes socially. . "40 Edgefield gentry lived and worked beside those from other classes. Griffin's immediate neighbors, the Deans on one side and the Timmermans on the other, had families to feed and only a few hundred dollars in assets. B. 41 He owned 26 slaves, which placed him almost in the top decile of all slaveowners.
Knopf, 1974), 60-93, and Orville Vernon 18 "A Gentleman and an Officer" cally representative of rural South Carolina. The black population was proportional to that in most parts of the state. The majority of the residents, like most South Carolinians, made a living in agriculture, constrained by the shared problems of declining soil productivity, fluctuating crop and slave markets, and competition from the newer cotton lands of Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. Birth and death rates, and the ratio of males to females, resembled demographic patterns for the state as a whole.
A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War by Judith N. McArthur