By Judith N. McArthur
In 1861, James B. Griffin left Edgefield, South Carolina and rode off to Virginia to absorb accountability 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 searching puppy. He was once thirty-five years previous, a filthy rich 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 kids, the eldest simply 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 reputation and glory appeared unlimited. Griffin, even if, played no bold acts, nor did he encourage nice loyalty in his males. as an alternative, 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 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. awesome of their breadth and quantity, the letters surround Griffin's complete Civil warfare carrier, detailing dwelling stipulations and armed forces maneuvers, the jockeying for place between officials, and the various methods officials and enlisted males interacted throughout the Civil struggle. not like the recollections and biographies of high-ranking, recognized accomplice officials or reports and edited collections of letters of individuals of the rank and dossier, this assortment sheds mild at the lifetime of a center officer--a existence grew to become the other way up by means of severe army hassle and intricate additional by means of the continued want for reassurance approximately own valor and standing universal to males of the southern gentry. In those letters, Griffin describes mystery troop hobbies in a number of army activities akin to the Hampton Legion's position within the Peninsula crusade (details that will definitely were censored in additional fresh wars). right here he relates the march from Manassas to Fredricksburg, the siege of Yorktown and the retreat to Richmond, and the struggling 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 notable of occasions, he illuminates the main usual of day by day matters. One may possibly look forward to finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. as a substitute, we're faced by means of basic humanity and straightforward matters, from the elements to gossip. enormous old occasions intruded on Griffin's existence and despatched him off to battle, yet his heartfelt concerns have been approximately his relatives, his group, and his personal own satisfaction. finally, Griffin's letters current the Civil battle because the refinery, the ordeal via hearth, that established and verified--or modified--Southern upperclass values. With a desirable mixture of army and social background, A Gentleman and an Officer strikes from the start of the Civil struggle at citadel Sumter during the finish of the warfare and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil warfare have been right now 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
Burt's acreage was evenly divided between improved and unimproved land. His previous year's cotton crop—20 bales—was not large, but he had raised 80 hogs, 1200 bushels of corn and 1000 of oats. Of the eighty household heads who were fifty years of age in 1850, Burt was the eighth wealthiest. Burt Family, Leonardo Andrea Genealogical Collection, microfilm, roll 6, 45, SCL. 18. Edgefield Advertiser, 22 Feb. 1853; McClendon, Edgefield Marriage Records, 64. According to her gravestone in Calvary Cemetery, Fort Worth, Texas, Leila was born on 10 Oct.
This is a ledger in which Griffin kept his plantation and business accounts from the late 1850s through the late 1870s, and which his daughter Fannie subsequently filled with obituaries, poems, and stories clipped from various newspapers. Many of the clippings were pasted over the plantation accounts as well as on blank pages. 21. Chapman, History of Edgefield, 349-50. 22 His two marriages gave Griffin a total of six sons and three daughters, whom he loved dearly, as he did Leila. 24 Naming patterns indicated and mapped bloodlines.
Constitution. , Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 3:397-98. "Without Counting the Cost" 15 moderate gains. In 1840, just two years before his marriage to Mary Ann, Aquilla Miles had 10 slaves, while his prospective father-in-law held 47. 26 By 1860, even though his crops did not increase, he had 10 slaves and twice as much land, now worth $6500, almost as much as his father-in-law. Griffin's letters indicate that the two families were close despite great disparities in economic status.