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

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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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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The “Atlanta Campaign,” a Misnomer?

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In May 1864 W.T. Sherman began what has been called the “Atlanta Campaign” against Confederate General Joe Johnston’s Army of Tennessee.  But, as modern historians have pointed out, Atlanta itself was not an objective.   Grant’s order to Sherman stated  that he was to “move against Johnston’s army, to break it up, and to get into the interior of the enemy’s country as far as you can, inflicting all the damage you can against their war resources…I leave you free to execute in your own way.”  (In some ways that order is a precursor of Sherman’s objective in his “March to the Sea,” but leave that for the moment).  Grant wanted to be sure that Johnston couldn’t send reinforcements to Lee in the East — and vice versa — even as they tried to defeat these two armies.

When Confederate commander John Bell Hood abandoned Atlanta after Jacob Cox’s men cut his final supply line, the city was open for the Union to move in on September 1/2.  As the rebel army abandoned Atlanta, Sherman had an opportunity to destroy the divided Confederate forces, half of which were at Jonesboro, and half of which were retreating from Atlanta to the east.  Instead, satisfied with the capture of the city, Sherman decided to let Hood go. He told O.O. Howard that because Atlanta had fallen, “I do not wish to waste lives by an assault.” Perhaps forgetting that the objective of his campaign was to destroy the opposing army and not to take Atlanta,  Sherman told his commanders September 4, “The army having accomplished its undertaking in the complete reduction and occupation of Atlanta,” it would take a month’s rest until a new campaign was launched.

Both Sherman and Hood ultimately realized that Sherman should have continued the campaign. Hood wrote later, “I have often thought it strange Sherman should have occupied himself with attacking Hardee’s intrenched position, instead of falling upon our main body on the march round to his rear.” Sherman admitted to Halleck on September 4, “I ought to have reaped larger fruits of victory,” but he blamed the slowness of his commanders instead of his own decision-making. He later acknowledged, “I had not accomplished all, for Hood’s army, the chief objective, had escaped. Then began the real trouble.”

 

 

 

Rawlins Remembered

On my way to an event in downtown DC, I passed through a small park near the White House and found a statue of Civil War Union General John A. Rawlins, which was sculpted by “A Bailly” in 1873 and erected in 1874.    Other than the word “Rawlins” on one side, there is no other notation on the statue, nor any explanatory note nearby — presumably because, unlike today, everyone knew,  in 1874, who Rawlins was and what he had accomplished.

Rawlins, a Galena, Illinois lawyer who met Ulysses Grant there before the war, was Grant’s closest friend and advisor, and his military rank was due almost wholly to his being at Grant’s side from early in the war.   In his Grant biography, Chernow emphasizes, repeatedly, that Rawlins’s roles during the war included keeping Grant away from alcohol.   Although Rawlins was dying of tuberculosis, Grant  named him Secretary of War in 1869.  He served five months before dying.  Jacob Cox, then Secretary of the Interior, and W.T. Sherman were at his bedside.  According to Wikipedia, one of his few accomplishments was approval of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

For reasons unknown, Grant mentioned Rawlins only a few times in his memoir, and gave no emphasis to the key advisory role he had played for many years.

Today, Grant’s epic statue, one of the finest examples of that art, sits in front of the west side of the U.S. Capitol building.  When presidents are inaugurated, they look out over the assembled masses and Grant’s statue is there, front and center.   A mile or so away, Rawlins’s statue remains anonymous.

 

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A “Soapy” Reunion in North Carolina for Sherman and Schofield

In late May 1864, following Jacob Cox’s defeat of Braxton Bragg at Wyse Forks and his completion of the rebuilding of the railroad from New Bern to Goldsboro, he and the other forces under John Schofield were reunited in Goldsboro with Sherman’s army, which had been moving north from South Carolina.

In his memoirs Cox, commanding the 23rd Corps, described the occasion,  which had moments not only of joy, but also of the kind of humor probably typical of men who had fought so long and so hard, and now had victory in sight.   He wrote:

“Sherman joined us in person, and we paraded the Twenty-Third Corps to honor the march-past of Slocum’s Army of Georgia, the Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps, as they came in from Bentonville.  Sherman took his place with us by the roadside, and the formal reunion with the comrades who had fought with us in the Atlanta campaign was an event to stir deep emotions in our hears…The men who had traversed the Carolinas were ragged and dirty, their faces were begrimed by the soot of their camp-fires of pine-knots in the forests, but their arms were in order, and they stepped out with the sturdy swing that marked all our Western troops.

“Our men were in new uniforms we had lately drawn from the quartermaster, amd the tatterdemalions who had made the march to the sea were disposed to chaff us as if we were new recruits or pampered garrison troops.  ‘Well, sonnies!~’ a regimental wag cried out, ‘do they issue butter to you regularly now?’  ‘Oh, yes to be sure!’ was the instant retort; ‘but we trade it off for soap!!’  The ironical emphasis on the ‘we’ was well understood and greeted with roars of laughter, and learning that our men were really those who had been with them in Georgia and who had fought at Franklin and Nashville before making the tour of the North to come by sea and rejoin them in North Carolina, they made the welkin ring again with their greeting.”

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Holmes County, Ohio; Fort Fizzle, and the Monument to the Civil and other wars

During the Civil War, Holmes County, Ohio (60 miles south of Cleveland) supplied many soldiers for the Union effort.  The residents there also created one of the more unusual internal conflicts when, in 1863, a thousand men resisted conscription.  When federal troops fired on their encampment, most of the men fled — and were ultimately conscripted.  Attached below is a placard describing the events at the aptly-named “Fort Fizzle.”

As is the case in many counties in Ohio, on the town square in Millersburg, the county seat, there is a monument which has a Union Civil War private atop it.  But clearly the Holmes county residents were more frugal than most.   As can be seen from these pictures, the monument covers the contributions of county residents to four wars, not just one!  It has the names Washington,  Jackson, Scott, and Grant on it, and above each name is an inscription noting that Holmes county men served in the Revolutionary, Indian, Mexican, and Civil Wars.   I’d be interested to know if this frugal, efficient approach was used on other town squares.