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America's Civil War: May 2001 Letters

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: September 23, 2001 
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Preservation Donation

Thank you so very much, Primedia History Group, for your generous donation of $9,778 to the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust. These proceeds from your recent Chancellorsville reenactment at Ft. Pickett, Va., [September 22-24] are a wonderful indication of the support and loyalty of participating reenactors. The gift will allow our organization to purchase more of the hallowed ground that we seek to preserve and protect from development.

Those members of our Board of Directors who were able to be there that weekend were unanimous in their praise of your organization's effort on our behalf. We felt most warmly welcomed, and we all enjoyed the opportunity to participate.

Thank you again for your generosity. Your support and good will are very important to the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust (www.cvbt.org).

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John D. Mitchell, President
Central Virginia Battlefields Trust

Editor's note: We were glad to help. Primedia's next reenactment will be held August 3-5 near Leesburg, Va., and will re-create the First Battle of Manassas. Funds for preservation will also be raised at this event. Check www.firstmanassas.com for more information.

Jeb Stuart Monument

In the January 2001 issue you published a letter from Charles Bly regarding the J.E.B. Stuart Monument on Telegraph Road in Henrico County, Va. I'd like to inform your subscribers that this monument is not by any means being ignored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) or the reenactors of the 44th Virginia Regiment. The UDC chapter conducts a commemorative service on May 11 (the date of Stuart's mortal wounding), and the 44th Virginia helps maintain the grounds. There are so many memorial services on Memorial Day in the Richmond area that it is impossible to have a service at every monument. We chose May 11 for that very reason.

Henrico County's historical commission has now included the monument on bus tours. Telegraph Road is located in a very, very rural area. Except for a few houses, it is nearly like it was during the War Between the States, not overgrown as might be interpreted from Mr. Bly's statements.

Some additional good news: A Boy Scout and his troop have adopted this monument as an Eagle Scout project, the flag pole has been newly painted and the brass plaque has been professionally cleaned.

A rededication service is planned for May 12, 2001 at 11:00 a.m. All are invited.

Lastly, do not fear that this monument is abused, misunderstood or lost to "progress." The Virginia Department of Historic Resources continues to help finance maintenance of this "sacred treasure."

Sylvia M. Richards, President
Richmond-Stonewall Jackson
UDC Chapter 1705

Battle of Franklin

How could the compelling story of Franklin native Tod Carter, a son of Fountain Carter who owned the Carter house, be left out of Gary Dolzall's January 2001 article "Union Stand That Destroyed an Army"? His tragic death in the Confederate charge that bore down on his childhood home simply can't be left out of any story about this bloody conflict.

Grant E. Cole
Alexandria, Va.

Gary Dolzall responds: I had actually mentioned poor Tod Carter in the draft originally submitted, but the reference was edited out, I'm sure for space considerations as the manuscript was a bit lengthy. You are certainly correct that the fate of young Carter merits attention. The 24-year-old son of Fountain Carter was a captain serving on Confederate Brig. Gen. Thomas B. Smith's staff when he was struck down barely 500 feet from his family home, near the locust grove. He died after the battle in his own parlor.

The Better Angel Review

In regard to William Anderson's January 2001 issue review of The Better Angel, Roy Morris' book on poet Walt Whitman, I can't tell whether the following idea comes from the book or is the opinion of the reviewer, but to stress that Whitman's career was "largely over" when the Civil War started is disputable if not inaccurate.

Whitman had not yet written Drum-Taps, with poems such as "Reconciliation," "Cavalry Crossing a Ford" and "I Saw Old General at Bay." Also, still to come was one of his finest poems, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd."

Then would come "By Blue Ontario's Shore," "To a Locomotive in Winter," "To a Common Prostitute," "Passage to India" and "The Sleepers."

"A Noiseless Patient Spider" (1868) is an exquisite work of art by a poet at the top of his bent. I would be glad to demonstrate that on paper.

Arthur Kay
Via e-mail

Whitman biographer Roy Morris, Jr., responds: I'm not responsible for Mr. Anderson's opinion, but I think he was more correct than incorrect in his interpretation of Whitman's poetic career. Mr. Kay is partially right in noting that Whitman did write other fine poems after the Civil War, but most Whitman scholars believe that his best work was, indeed, behind him following the publication of Leaves of Grass in 1855. Even "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" is not universally considered one of Whitman's greatest poems.

Certainly, I make the point in my book that Whitman's Civil War poems, in Drum-Taps, were quite significant. As I say on page 61 of The Better Angel, "This was a new way of writing, not just for Whitman but for American literature in general, and its importance can scarcely be overstated."

Nevertheless, Whitman would still be remembered as a great poet if he had never written his post­Civil War poems. By the way, three of the poems Mr. Kay cites–"The Sleepers," "By Blue Ontario's Shore" and "To a Common Prostitute"–were all published before the Civil War, so he's not entirely correct in his dating.

Confederate Uniform

Ross Kimmel's piece on the Henry Hollyday uniform in the January 2001 issue was a nice bit of research and writing.

I found in the National Archives' Register of Letters Received by the Office of the Confederate Quartermaster General (RG 109, vol. 12, "K-25") an entry under the date of November 30, 1864, for a letter received from Geo. P. Kane, dated the previous day. Its content is described as: "Asks QMD [Quartermaster Department] officers at Greensboro [N.C.] be telegraphed to take charge of 7 bales of goods for Marylanders & send them on gov't trains to this place [Richmond]."

Michael Musick
National Archives and
Records Administration

Editor's note: Thanks for uncovering this historical nugget. If nothing else, the letter entry lends further credence to the theory that George P. Kane, in his effort to materially aid his fellow Marylanders in the Army of Northern Virginia, personally struck a deal with North Carolina officials for uniforms and equipment.

Send letters to America's Civil War Editor, Primedia History Group, 741 Miller Dr., SE, Suite D-2, Leesburg, VA 20175, or e-mail to AmericasCivilWar@thehistorynet.com. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited.



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