By Judith N. McArthur
In 1861, James B. Griffin left Edgefield, South Carolina and rode off to Virginia to soak up accountability with the accomplice military in a method that befitted a Southern gentleman: on a fine-blooded horse, with slaves to attend on him, trunks, and his favourite searching puppy. He used to be thirty-five years outdated, a prosperous planter, and the landlord of sixty-one slaves while he joined Wade Hampton's elite Legion as a massive of cavalry. He left at the back of seven teenagers, the eldest merely 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, besides the fact that, played no bold acts, nor did he motivate nice loyalty in his males. as a substitute, he unknowingly supplied a distinct and priceless portrait of the accomplice officials who shaped the center of Southern political, army, and company 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. impressive of their breadth and quantity, the letters surround Griffin's complete Civil struggle 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 memories and biographies of high-ranking, recognized accomplice officials or experiences and edited collections of letters of contributors of the rank and dossier, this assortment sheds mild at the lifetime of a center officer--a lifestyles became the wrong way up by way of severe army difficulty and intricate additional by way of the continued desire for reassurance approximately own valor and standing universal to males of the southern gentry. In those letters, Griffin describes mystery troop events in quite a few army activities equivalent to the Hampton Legion's function within the Peninsula crusade (details that will 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 combating 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 impressive of occasions, he illuminates the main traditional of daily matters. One may well look forward to finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. as an alternative, we're faced by means of easy humanity and straightforward matters, from the elements to gossip. huge historic occasions intruded on Griffin's lifestyles and despatched him off to warfare, yet his heartfelt issues have been approximately his relatives, his group, and his personal own delight. finally, Griffin's letters current the Civil battle because the refinery, the ordeal via fireplace, that validated 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 warfare at fortress Sumter throughout the finish of the warfare and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil battle have been right away devastatingly nationwide and revealingly neighborhood.
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Additional resources for A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War
Griffin," asked for letters of transfer. Interestingly, beginning in 1860, the church clerks stopped referring to slaves in quasi-familial terms, that is, "James Griffins Bob" or "Griffins boy Peter," and used designations such as "Kizziah the property of Mrs. 's sister). 52 A social and occupational hierarchy existed within the slave workforce. " Jim was also a skilled carpenter. Griffin's slave carpenters fashioned plow stocks and shovel handles for neighboring farmers and planters, and his blacksmith shop made plow sweeps and shod horses.
In that reorganization, James Sr. B. 34 When his stepmother died in 1852, the paper reported that she had been a member of the Baptist Church for more than twenty-eight years. She had been ill for eighteen days and would not take medicine for the pain. A devout Christian, she was looking forward to heaven. " The paper stressed his "high sense of honor" and his service to the Baptists, Antioch Church, and his community. On his death, the church clerk wrote that "for the space of twenty-four years and six months" Griffin Sr.
He often investigated disputes and talked with members about their conduct. It was 33. For a discussion of religion in nineteenth-century Edgefield, see Burton, In My Father's House Are Many Mansions, 21-28. 34. 's stepmother, joined the Village Baptist Church in late 1827 and left in mid-1830 to join her husband at Antioch Baptist Church. Edgefield Village Baptist Church Records, Dec. 1827 and June 1830, FU. 35. Edgefield Advertiser, 19 Nov. 1852. 36. Edgefield Advertiser, 14 Feb. 1855. B. 38 His father and stepmother were members; his sister and each of her husbands attended.
A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War by Judith N. McArthur