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Civil War Times: May 1998 Letters

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: September 23, 1998 
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Civil War Times
Civil War Times

From Fort To Park

About 20 years ago I was beginning work on a book on the Battle of Franklin and a biography of John M. Schofield. In 1975, I spent about three days in Franklin, Tennessee, making a thorough inspection of the battlefield and the surrounding country. I knew exactly where Fort Granger should be, so I drove north of town over the Harpeth River and turned east on a little dirt road to the highest point overlooking the town. I walked into the woods, and after about 300 feet I suddenly came to the remains of Fort Granger. The guns, of course, were gone, but the emplacements were clearly visible, although large trees had grown up in the middle of the fort. I came back about five years later. A number of paths wandered in through the woods to the fort, and the little gravel road had been named Fort Granger Drive. I was interested to hear from your article "A Setting for Disaster" ("Travel," February 1998) that the fort had become a city park.

Ramsay M.B. Fischer
Mantoloking, New Jersey

He Stayed Sober

In an otherwise excellent article, "A Setting for Disaster," Milton Bagby erred in furthering the rumor that General B.F. Cheatham failed to stop Schofield at Spring Hill due to drunkenness and carousing. Although the rumor was widespread at the time, there are ample records to disprove it. Major Joseph Vaulx, inspector general of Cheatham's division, wrote his eyewitness account of the Battle of Franklin to Dr. Henry M. Field, who used it in his book, Bright Skies and Dark Shadows (1890). "I was with General Cheatham when he was giving his orders to General Brown," Vaulx reported. "The charge that he was intoxicated is false. I never saw him more self-possessed than on that afternoon. He gave his orders in a very plain and explicit manner. His words expressed just what he wanted, and in such a manner that no doubtful construction could be given." Major James Davis Porter, assistant adjutant general of Cheatham's division, offered this further account: "I was with Cheatham during the entire day from Columbia to Spring Hill, and he was not only not intoxicated, but I am positive that he did not taste or see a drop of liquor of any kind." Porter would serve as governor of Tennessee from 1875 to 1879.

Charles M. Dugger
Miami, Florida

"Stonewall Of The West"

I found your articles (February 1998) on the "Stonewall of the West," Patrick Cleburne, quite interesting. The love that Cleburne's men had for him was evident. I now understand why the story has persisted that at Franklin, Cleburne gave up his shoes to a soldier who had none and, as a result, died in his stocking feet. The truth is not as important as the fact that the story is told.

Jennifer R. Goellnitz
Fairview Park, Ohio

There were many mistakes of arrogance in this war, and certainly the racist mindset that refused to consider Cleburne's proposal to accept black soldiers into the Confederate army ("Cleburne and the Unthinkable") was one of the most glaring examples. But this error was compounded by the prejudice of fellow officers against Cleburne because he made the proposition to General Johnston. Cleburne simply had a better grasp of reality than did any of the others.

Harry H. Ellis
Crossville, Tennessee

I wanted to praise your eloquent article "Cleburne's Final Charge" ("My War") by John McQuaid and L.H. Mangum. Leonard Henderson Mangum was born in Hillsborough, North Carolina, near Chapel Hill, the son of Priestely Henton Mangum, brother of U.S. Senator Willie Person Mangum, who helped to draw up the Compromise of 1850. One of three boys, L.H. Mangum graduated from Princeton University in 1857, settled in Helena, Arkansas, and became a law partner with General Cleburne's firm, which later became the firm of Cleburne, Scaife, and Mangum. At the Battle of Franklin, Lieutenant Mangum served as Cleburne's aide-de-camp.

William Preston Mangum II
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

I take fault with the manner in which author Wiley Sword presented his feature "The Other Stonewall." Sword's attempt to second-guess moves by President Davis and Generals Lee, Jackson, Johnston, Hood, and Hardee, all of whom in some way contributed to the South's failed cause, is moot now. Sword deserves credit for trying to enlighten the unenlightened about the merits of General Pat Cleburne. To cast a bad light on others to achieve this consideration for Cleburne is not the way to elevate his subject. Sword's piece about Cleburne is the poorest and most questionable writing I've read in ages.

Ralph B. Cushman
Houston, Texas

Errata

February: "The Other Stonewall"–At the Battle of Shiloh, William J. Hardee, not Braxton Bragg, commanded Cleburne's corps in the newly redesignated Army of the Mississippi. In addition, the fight at the Hornets' Nest was on the first day of the battle, not the second. "Cleburne's Final Charge"–Milledgeville, not Atlanta, was the capital of Georgia during the Civil War.

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