By Judith N. McArthur
In 1861, James B. Griffin left Edgefield, South Carolina and rode off to Virginia to take in responsibility 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 looking puppy. He was once thirty-five years outdated, a prosperous planter, and the landlord of sixty-one slaves while he joined Wade Hampton's elite Legion as an incredible of cavalry. He left in the back of seven teenagers, the eldest in basic terms 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 popularity 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 an alternative, he unknowingly supplied a distinct and beneficial 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 amassed 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 whole Civil battle provider, detailing residing stipulations and army maneuvers, the jockeying for place between officials, and different methods officials and enlisted males interacted in the course of the Civil battle. not like the recollections and biographies of high-ranking, famous accomplice officials or stories and edited collections of letters of participants of the rank and dossier, this assortment sheds mild at the lifetime of a center officer--a lifestyles became the wrong way up by means of severe army difficulty and complex additional via the continued desire 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 might definitely were censored in additional fresh wars). the following 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 used to be wounded. all through, as Griffin recounts those so much impressive of occasions, he illuminates the main traditional of daily matters. One may perhaps look forward to finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. in its place, we're faced by way of basic humanity and straightforward issues, from the elements to gossip. huge ancient occasions intruded on Griffin's lifestyles and despatched him off to struggle, yet his heartfelt concerns have been approximately his relatives, his neighborhood, and his personal own satisfaction. eventually, Griffin's letters current the Civil warfare because the refinery, the ordeal by way of hearth, that confirmed and verified--or modified--Southern upperclass values. With a desirable mix of army and social background, A Gentleman and an Officer strikes from the start of the Civil struggle at fortress Sumter in the course of the finish of the struggle and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil battle have been straight away 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
The Hammonds of Redcliffe (New York: Oxford Univ. , Secret and Sacred: The Diaries of ]ames Henry Hammond, a Southern Slaveholder (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1988); Drew Gilpin Faust, James Henry Hammond and the Old South: A Design for Mastery (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1982); John B. , Francis Pickens and the Politics of Destruction (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1986). 63. His father ranked 73rd of the wealthiest people in Edgefield. Benjamin Nicholson, notebook, 41, Hughes Papers, SHC.
The system that developed over time allowed each legislative delegation to control the selection of commission members in its own district, and the power at stake naturally resulted in vigorous competition for seats in the legislature. It also created networks of patronage among local ruling elites who helped legislators win election, and these successful candidates then dispensed local offices. 75 70. William C. Preston to George Ticknor, 2 March 1864, Preston Papers, SCL; Burton, In My Father's House Are Many Mansions, 21.
See Burton, In My Father's House Are Many Mansions, 145-46, 16880, 183-90. 61. Mary Boykin Chesnut, A Diary from Dixie, ed. , Mary Chesnut's Civil War, 464. 32 "A Gentleman and an Officer" Griffin and the Edgefield Elite Much of Griffin's experience in the Civil War related closely to the problems and opportunities he experienced as part of the second tier of community and military leadership; in both Edgefield District and the Confederate Army, he ranked just below the top. An old Edgefield family, the Griffins were part of the elite and just on the cusp of the local aristocracy in 1860.
A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War by Judith N. McArthur