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 looking puppy. He used to be thirty-five years previous, a filthy rich planter, and the landlord of sixty-one slaves whilst he joined Wade Hampton's elite Legion as an immense of cavalry. He left at the back of seven childrens, the eldest in simple terms twelve, and a spouse who was once 8 and a part months pregnant. As a box officer in a prestigious unit, the possibilities for reputation and glory appeared unlimited. Griffin, notwithstanding, played no bold acts, nor did he encourage nice loyalty in his males. as an alternative, he unknowingly supplied a different and worthy 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 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. remarkable of their breadth and quantity, the letters surround Griffin's complete Civil struggle provider, detailing dwelling stipulations and armed forces maneuvers, the jockeying for place between officials, and different methods officials and enlisted males interacted through the Civil battle. in contrast to 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 existence grew to become the other way up through severe army worry and intricate additional via the ongoing desire for reassurance approximately own valor and standing universal to males of the southern gentry. In those letters, Griffin describes mystery troop pursuits in quite a few army activities corresponding to the Hampton Legion's position within the Peninsula crusade (details that may 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 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 awesome of instances, he illuminates the main usual of day by day concerns. One may perhaps anticipate finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. as a substitute, we're faced via basic humanity and easy issues, from the elements to gossip. huge old occasions intruded on Griffin's lifestyles and despatched him off to battle, yet his heartfelt issues have been approximately his kin, his neighborhood, and his personal own satisfaction. finally, Griffin's letters current the Civil struggle because the refinery, the ordeal by means of hearth, that demonstrated and verified--or modified--Southern upperclass values. With a desirable mix of army and social historical past, A Gentleman and an Officer strikes from the start of the Civil battle at castle Sumter throughout the finish of the battle and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil struggle have been straight away devastatingly nationwide and revealingly neighborhood.
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Additional info for A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War
The Griffin slaves also had some leeway to work for themselves. They were permitted to cultivate private garden plots, and in slack periods they had access to his unimproved acres of woodland to sell for their own money whatever they produced or manufactured. 54 The war immediately affected the slave community on Griffin's plantation. Some slaves were impressed into Confederate service, and two, Ned and Abram, went with Griffin to the Virginia front. Like Griffin and numerous white males, these African Americans also left home and family.
The "aristocrats" of backcountry Edgefield claimed descent from settlers from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina during the mid-eighteenth century. Their ancestors had participated in the Regulator Movement of 1767-69 and had fought as Whigs in the 62. For comparative and informative purposes, the reader is directed to published biographies and edited letters of other prominent Edgefieldians. , The Hammonds of Redcliffe (New York: Oxford Univ. , Secret and Sacred: The Diaries of ]ames Henry Hammond, a Southern Slaveholder (New York: Oxford Univ.
Plantation accounts for 1859-60 disclose that he regularly hired out slaves. 45 His business experience would enable him to refocus his life after the war. By 1860 Griffin was well established. Highland House Plantation encompassed 1500 acres and was valued at $25,000. Only fifty-one persons in all Edgefield claimed land of greater value. "46 He valued his livestock— cattle, sheep, hogs, horses, mules, and oxen—at over $3000. He took particular pride in his horses, for racing was the sport of gentlemen.
A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War by Judith N. McArthur