Civil War Talks on the Life of Jacob Cox, the Battle of Antietam, the Battle of Franklin, and the War in West Virginia

Civil War Pets — Sacred by the Law of the Camp

In his memoirs Jacob Cox dealt with a wide variety of issues relating to the war, from strategy and tactics to the death of one of his children and the rivalries between West Pointers and Political Generals.  He also wrote about diversions from the tensions of fighting, including pets in the army and how they were treated.  Here is his story about his own pet and how it met a most unexpected end.

He wrote that many men in the ranks had pets, mostly dogs.  During the Atlanta campaign Cox acquired his own pet, a small “green and gold lizard,” which he found one day “residing” in his field desk.  (A picture of the desk, now placed in the Carter House at the Battle of Franklin facilities thanks to a Cox family gift, is below).  He did his best not to scare the lizard, and eventually he tamed it.  He wrote, “the little thing seemed to become fond of me, running about on my papers, clinging to my arm.”  Whenever Cox rode, the lizard sat on his hat rim, “like a most gorgeous aigrette.”  Cox joked that his men called the beast “an attache’ of the staff.”  One day when Cox was consulting with a colleague from another corps, however, one of the latter’s staff, seeing the lizard on Cox’s shoulder, knocked it off and killed it, thinking he had saved Cox’s life.  When Cox’s staff told the man that he had “killed the general’s pet,” he “slunk away, the picture of shame and remorse.”  Cox concluded, “Pets were sacred by the law of the camp, and he felt and looked as if he were a murderer.”  014

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Fear and the Longing to be Home; a typical letter

On June 24, 1864, soon after the “Atlanta Campaign” had begun, General Jacob Cox of the 23rd corps wrote home about his experiences in narrowly escaping death during the war in a way which likely echoed that of many men during this war.  In it he told his wife Helen that he had had many narrow escapes from death, but hadn’t told her about them because he didn’t want her to be worried.  Looking ahead, he assured her that he would recount all of those events at home “by the fireside” when the war was over.  In fact, Cox would also recount them in his four histories of the war, which today are still seen as objective analyses of every aspect of this conflict.  His “Military Reminiscences” are considered among the best memoirs of the participants.

He wrote, “I did not tell you that I was stunned by the explosion of a shell at Resaca [Georgia, during the Battle of Resaca], because it was not true…i ws simply deafened for a few seconds.  it was a providential escape…The bystanders thought we were all killed, &it was for a time so reported.  If I told you all the narrow escapes you would be kept uneasy all the time, & it is much better that you should only reflect upon the fact that so far  am unhurt, & the escapes will do to talk about at home, when the war is over, & I can fight my battles over again by the fireside.”

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Winston Churchill and Counter-Factual Civil War History

During a 1929 trip to the U.S., Churchill — whose mother was an American — visited several Civil War battlefields in the East. He also decided to take advantage of the booming U.S. economy and made significant investments — all of which failed during the stock market crash that year. To make up for the losses, he became even more active in writing history, but also wrote a counter-factual history article about Robert E. Lee’s “victory” at Gettysburg for a book entitled, “If, Or History Rewritten.” In the article, the key is the arrival of Jeb Stuart behind the center of the Union lines just as Pickett’s charge takes place. Lee then takes Washington and declares the end of slavery, then helps negotiate the “Treaty of Harpers Ferry” to create the divided nation.

As most readers of this and other Civil War sites know, 99.9% of all counter-factual histories have similar scenarios of Confederate victory. Maybe we need one with a different take on an early Union victory and its implications? Stay tuned.

 

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Antietam with Family and Friends, 3

Candid shots of the “tourists and the final stop on the tour, Nutter’s Ice cream, where every tour of Antietam must stop for some of the worl’d best and least expensive ice cream known to man.

 

  1. Mark Silverman and I at Bloody Lane in front of the cannon dedicated to Israel Richardson, who was fatally wounded near there.
  2. The Schmiel family in front of the Clara Barton memorial
  3. The ladies on the trip — Silvermans, Kathryn Schmiel, Joan Turner
  4. Nutter’s Ice Cream

 

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Antietam with Family and Friends, Part 2

I led a group of family and friends around the Antietam battlefield yesterday.  The weather wasn’t the best, with scattered showers, but everyone enjoyed hearing how this critical event almost ended the Civil War.  If McClellan had been more aggressive, if Hooker and Richardson had not been wounded at critical times, if McClellan had attacked on the right and left simultaneously in the morning, if, if, if.  But that didn’t happen, and so we had the limited Union victory and, more importantly, the justification for the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

 

Additional pictures: 1. “Burnside’s Bridge;” 2 and 3. The descriptive plates describing Jacob Cox’s contributions as 9th corps commander; 4. The sign describing the high water mark where Cox’s advance was stopped because of A.P. Hill’s unexpected attack from the left. 20180420_113132

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Antietam with Family and Friends, Part 1

I led a group of family and friends around the Antietam battlefield yesterday.  The weather wasn’t the best, with scattered showers, but everyone enjoyed hearing how this critical event almost ended the Civil War.  If McClellan had been more aggressive, if Hooker and Richardson had not been wounded at critical times, if McClellan had attacked on the right and left simultaneously in the morning, if, if, if.  But that didn’t happen, and so we had the limited Union victory and, more importantly, the justification for the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Here are a few photos from the day: 1. The NPS building; 2 The tower above Bloody Lane; 3. The Irish Brigade memorial; 4. The Pry House–McClellan’s headquarters20180610_142129-1.

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Soldiers and Sailors Civil War Monument, Cleveland, Ohio

On Cleveland’s Public Square the Civil War “Soldiers and Sailors” Monument dominates one of the four smaller squares which make up the area.  Designed by Levi Scofield, one of Jacob Cox’ engineers during the war and one of his major adjutants at the Battle of Franklin, the monument celebrates the achievements of, primarily, Ohioans.   The facility fell into disrepair, like much of the city, in the latter part of the 20th century.  But it is now refurbished and, free of charge, an excellent exhibit of the pride in one state for its contributions to the war effort.

Below are two pictures, one of the overall facility, and one of one of the four bas-reliefs inside.  The overall picture speaks for itself.  The second requires a listing of the Ohioans pictured there, two of whom became president.

In order, from the left, are General James A. Garfield, General Jacob Cox, General George McClellan, Governor William Dennison, Governor David Tod, Governor James Brough, General William Rosecrans, General Rutherford B. Hayes, and General Quincy Gillmore.

I’m not sure why some of the military men appear hatted and some do not, and why McClellan alone is looking to his right, directly at Cox and Garfield.

 

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