CWT Letters from Readers- June 2010 | HistoryNet MENU

CWT Letters from Readers- June 2010

12/27/2017 • Civil War Times Magazine

Equine Tributes

The April 2010 issue’s “Statshot” includes a partial image of the memorial in Middleburg, Va., to horses killed during the Civil War. A duplicate of that statue is located on the grounds of the U.S. Cavalry Museum at Fort Riley, Kan. Both were sculpted by Tessa Pullen in 1996.

Fort Riley also boasts two other equestrian statues: Old Trooper, depicting a cavalry trooper in the Spanish-American War, and Duty, which portrays an early 1930s trooper. To find more information on the Cavalry Museum, visit riley.army. mil and click on “Recreation” and then “Museums.”

William McKale

Supervisory Museum Curator

Fort Riley, Kan.

Wrong Dedication Day

In the February 2010 article “Seeing the War Firsthand,” the caption for the sketch on pages 46-47 states that “James E. Taylor depicted the 1868 dedication of the 14th New Hampshire Monument at the Mount Hebron Cemetery in Winchester, Va.” According to the April 13, 1866, edition of the Winchester Journal, however, that monument was dedicated on April 10, 1866. Sometime between 1866 and 1870, the monument was moved from Mount Hebron Cemetery to the Winchester National Cemetery, where it still stands.

Ben Ritter

Winchester, Va.

In Defense of Lee

I would like to refute some of the statements Daniel Marino made in expressing his dislike for Robert E. Lee in the April 2010 issue’s “Mail Call.” First of all, General Lee was a far superior strategist than three-quarters of his Yankee counterparts. In the May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville, for example, he defeated a force that was more than twice the size of his.

Also, where did Marino get his information regarding the many former slaves and free blacks who were rounded up during the Gettysburg Campaign and sent south into slavery? I have never heard such ridiculous slander about Lee.

Robert Clyde Sapp II

Manassas, Va.

Editor’s note: Confederate troops did round up and send blacks into Virginia during the Gettysburg Campaign. No surviving records indicate that Lee was aware of the situation, but some highranking officers, such as James Longstreet, wrote messages indicating that they knew it was happening. An objective discussion of the issue can be found at gdg.org/Gettysburg%20Maga zine/gburgafrican.html

Daniel Marino is upset that Robert E. Lee referred to his battlefield foes as “those people.” But in Looking for Lincoln, the PBS documentary written and produced by Henry Louis Gates Jr., historian Allen Guelzo said, “As far as [Lincoln] was concerned the Confederate States did not exist. He would call them ‘those insurgents, the Rebels…,’” but he never referred to them as Confederate soldiers or the Confederate army. In other words, neither side accorded their adversary any special respect.

Marino also alleges that Lee did not admonish his troops, in a specific written order, not to capture African Americans during the Gettysburg Campaign. But how about William T. Sherman during his 1864 March to the Sea?

Sherman, an unashamed racist, was deeply disturbed that former slaves were flocking to follow his army as it crossed Georgia. On December 9, 1864, as Union troops traversed Ebenezer Creek on a pontoon bridge, slaves following the column were held back at bayonet point from crossing the swollen waterway. The Federal soldiers then abruptly pulled the bridge away, leaving thousands of slaves on the opposite bank.

Unable to swim, hundreds drowned while trying to cross the creek to keep pace with the blue-coated troops. Sherman had not specifically ordered the murder of those individuals, but neither had he issued an order to protect their lives!

Jim Forcum

Beavercreek, Ohio

I just received the February 2010 issue, which featured several items on General Robert E. Lee. I found the article “Do the Numbers Add Up for ‘Marse Robert’?” by Gary Gallagher, interesting, informative and hardly unfair. “Lee’s Last Hurrah” by Noah Andre Trudeau was also fair and un – biased, and aside from the error of naming Annie Lee as Lee’s oldest daughter—an honor that actually belonged to Mary Custis Lee—I enjoyed reading it and found it agreed with many other descriptions of the general’s final tour.

But who is responsible for the snide insult on the cover referring to the general’s son, claiming that he “Stayed out of harm’s way for much of the war”? Custis Lee was a West Point graduate, and he was certainly not hiding from the dangers of war. When his brother William Henry Fitzhugh (“Rooney”) Lee was incarcerated in a Northern prison, under sentence of death at the direct order of President Abraham Lincoln, should any Union officers be executed by the Confederates, Custis offered himself as a substitute so that Rooney could visit his dying wife.

What that meant was, should some hotheaded officer in any corner of the Confederacy have ordered the execution of a Union officer, no matter how justified, Custis—who held the same rank as his brother—would have been hanged. I would hardly call that the act of a coward.

Judith McParland

Green Bay, Va.

Editor’s note: We have received several letters in the course of the past year decrying our treatment of Lee as well as Grant and Sherman, so we must be cutting things right down the middle. Regarding Custis Lee, we never referred to him as a “coward,” and the caption on that issue’s Table of Contents makes it clear that Custis took the field and fought.

Also note that in the same issue author Bill Marvel states in his article “Staying the Course at Gettysburg” that while President Lincoln called for thousands of Northern men to serve, his military-age son Robert “would see no service until the last eight weeks of the war, when his father found him a safe spot on Ulysses S. Grant’s staff.”

Give Meade His Due!

I want to thank Gary Gallagher for challenging scholars and biographers to broaden their horizons and pay more attention to some of the neglected officers who commanded Union armies. His call for new, scholarly biographies of officers such as Joe Hooker and William Rosecrans is appropriate and long overdue.

George Gordon Meade also needs a new biography. The “Hero of Gettysburg” has not been the subject of a full-length scholarly biography since Freeman Cleaves wrote Meade of Gettysburg in the 1960s. Certainly the man who commanded the Army of the Potomac longer than any other, and who commanded the victorious Federals in the Gettysburg Campaign, deserves better!

Unlike many of his brother officers, Meade was never a self-promoter, but he gave much in the name of duty to the Union cause. Certainly someone could correct this blatant oversight. By all means, let’s get out of the rut!

Rev. Jeffrey S. Miller

Beaufort, S.C.

Battle of Lake Wood

I was intrigued by the brief piece on the Battle of Lake Wood that appeared in the April 2010 issue’s “Civil War Today” section. I once visited a little museum in New Ulm, Minn., where I saw an exhibit on the September 23, 1862, battle and was amazed that I had never heard of it.

As I remember, the battle started with a “massacre” of white settlers by the Santee Sioux and ended with a “massacre” of American Indians. I have always wondered why the incident isn’t given more attention. James McPherson’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Battle Cry of Freedom doesn’t mention the incident at all.

Vernon Newbold

Cornwall Manor, Pa.

Editor’s note: The Brown County Museum in New Ulm has more information on the Battle of Lake Wood. David Nichols’ book Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics is another good place to learn more about this topic.

 

Originally published in the June 2010 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.  

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