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 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 He was once thirty-five years outdated, a prosperous planter, and the landlord of sixty-one slaves while he joined Wade Hampton's elite Legion as an enormous of cavalry. He left at the back of seven young children, the eldest merely twelve, and a spouse who was once 8 and a part months pregnant. As a box officer in a prestigious unit, the possibilities for popularity and glory appeared unlimited. Griffin, even though, played no bold acts, nor did he motivate nice loyalty in his males. in its place, he unknowingly supplied a special and worthwhile 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. striking of their breadth and quantity, the letters surround Griffin's whole Civil battle carrier, detailing dwelling stipulations and army 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 reviews 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 via severe army difficulty 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 events in numerous army activities similar 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 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 so much striking of occasions, he illuminates the main traditional of day by day matters. One may possibly anticipate finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. as an alternative, we're faced via basic humanity and straightforward matters, from the elements to gossip. huge old occasions intruded on Griffin's lifestyles and despatched him off to warfare, yet his heartfelt concerns have been approximately his kin, his neighborhood, 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 mix of army and social heritage, A Gentleman and an Officer strikes from the start of the Civil battle at castle Sumter during the finish of the battle and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil conflict have been instantaneously 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
B. L. Shepperd, 33 years old, owned 69 slaves. L. Dearing, one year older than Griffin, had 205, which is the most listed in the district for one person. Of course, Francis Pickens, James Henry Hammond, and others owned more, but their slaves were in other districts, or even in other states on different plantations and were not all enumerated in Edgefield. 43. In 1860, the mean for slave owners was 14 slaves, median 8, mode 1 for the 1,552 slave owners recorded in the manuscript slave census. 1 percent of household heads held at least one slave.
41. The acreage listed in Schedule 1 of the manuscript agricultural census was less than the amount that Griffin's father deeded to him in 1848, suggesting that either his father was still farming it or the remainder was rented. B. was in the 73rd percentile of all property owners and in the 87th percentile of all slave owners. 2 percentile. When compared by household heads and by men his age (24) in 1850 he was financially secure. Of all household heads 24 years and under, only 13 of the 239 were wealthier.
68 67. Edgefield Advertiser, 10 Aug. 1859. See Douglas Greenberg, Masters and Statesmen: The Political Culture of American Slavery (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1985), on oratory and honor. 68. All extant college records for South Carolina schools and several outof-state alumni records were searched for Griffin. Daniel Walker Hollis, University of South Carolina 1: South Carolina College (Columbia: Univ. of South Carolina Press, 1951), 155-56. Academic activity was considered a luxury in the early nineteenth century and indulged in only by well-to-do planter families or talented boys like George McDuffie or Joseph Abney recruited into the elite.
A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War by Judith N. McArthur