By Judith N. McArthur
In 1861, James B. Griffin left Edgefield, South Carolina and rode off to Virginia to take in accountability with the accomplice military in a mode 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 prosperous planter, and the landlord of sixty-one slaves while he joined Wade Hampton's elite Legion as an important of cavalry. He left in the back of seven teenagers, 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, in spite of the fact that, played no bold acts, nor did he encourage nice loyalty in his males. as a substitute, he unknowingly supplied a distinct and worthy portrait of the accomplice officials who shaped the center of Southern political, army, and enterprise 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. amazing of their breadth and quantity, the letters surround Griffin's whole Civil battle provider, detailing dwelling stipulations and army maneuvers, the jockeying for place between officials, and the various methods officials and enlisted males interacted in the course of the Civil conflict. in contrast to the recollections and biographies of high-ranking, famous accomplice officials or experiences and edited collections of letters of contributors of the rank and dossier, this assortment sheds gentle at the lifetime of a center officer--a lifestyles became the other way up by way of severe army problem and complex extra through the ongoing 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 variety of army activities corresponding to the Hampton Legion's function within the Peninsula crusade (details that will 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 scuffling with 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 awesome of occasions, he illuminates the main traditional of day by day matters. One may perhaps look forward to finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. as a substitute, we're faced by means of uncomplicated humanity and straightforward issues, from the elements to gossip. huge ancient occasions intruded on Griffin's existence and despatched him off to battle, yet his heartfelt issues have been approximately his kin, his group, and his personal own delight. finally, Griffin's letters current the Civil struggle because the refinery, the ordeal through hearth, that proven 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 warfare at fortress Sumter during the finish of the conflict and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil struggle have been instantaneously devastatingly nationwide and revealingly neighborhood.
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Extra info for A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War
51. The 1860 slaves were listed generally by age, and did not appear to follow any other groupings. 28 "A Gentleman and an Officer" Physically segregated by seating arrangements, whites and blacks worshipped together in the same building. " In 1843, another slave, Kejiah, went before the church, related her conversion experience, and was baptized. B. Griffin. 's slave Olive joined the church, and in May 1857 Olive's brother, Charles, was received by experience into the church. In August of 1861, both Charles and Olive, "the property of Mr.
Burt's acreage was evenly divided between improved and unimproved land. His previous year's cotton crop—20 bales—was not large, but he had raised 80 hogs, 1200 bushels of corn and 1000 of oats. Of the eighty household heads who were fifty years of age in 1850, Burt was the eighth wealthiest. Burt Family, Leonardo Andrea Genealogical Collection, microfilm, roll 6, 45, SCL. 18. Edgefield Advertiser, 22 Feb. 1853; McClendon, Edgefield Marriage Records, 64. According to her gravestone in Calvary Cemetery, Fort Worth, Texas, Leila was born on 10 Oct.
2 percentile. When compared by household heads and by men his age (24) in 1850 he was financially secure. Of all household heads 24 years and under, only 13 of the 239 were wealthier. B. had inherited his father's slaves and land; he owned 36 adults and 25 children and a total of 1500 acres, of which 700 were improved. Total reported wealth of $81,350 put him in the richest 3 percent of all household heads in Edgefield District listed in the 1860 census. His personal property was assessed at $56,000 (only 77 people in Edgefield had a greater personal estate), much of it accounted for by his 61 slaves.
A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War by Judith N. McArthur