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 prosperous 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 kids, the eldest in simple terms 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 repute and glory appeared unlimited. Griffin, despite the fact that, played no bold acts, nor did he encourage nice loyalty in his males. in its place, he unknowingly supplied a different and precious portrait of the accomplice officials who shaped the center of Southern political, army, and enterprise management. In A Gentleman and an Officer, Judith N. McArthur and Orville Vernon Burton have accumulated 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. notable of their breadth and quantity, the letters surround Griffin's whole Civil conflict provider, detailing dwelling stipulations and armed forces maneuvers, the jockeying for place between officials, and the several methods officials and enlisted males interacted in the course of the Civil battle. not like the memories and biographies of high-ranking, recognized accomplice officials or reviews and edited collections of letters of individuals of the rank and dossier, this assortment sheds gentle at the lifetime of a center officer--a existence became the wrong way up via severe army complication and intricate extra through the ongoing desire for reassurance approximately own valor and standing universal to males of the southern gentry. In those letters, Griffin describes mystery troop activities in numerous army activities resembling the Hampton Legion's position within the Peninsula crusade (details that might definitely were censored in additional fresh wars). the following 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 such a lot outstanding of instances, he illuminates the main usual of daily concerns. One may perhaps anticipate finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. in its place, we're faced through basic humanity and straightforward issues, from the elements to gossip. enormous ancient occasions intruded on Griffin's lifestyles and despatched him off to conflict, yet his heartfelt issues have been approximately his relations, his group, and his personal own satisfaction. finally, Griffin's letters current the Civil warfare because the refinery, the ordeal by means of hearth, that confirmed and verified--or modified--Southern upperclass values. With a desirable mixture of army and social historical past, A Gentleman and an Officer strikes from the start of the Civil battle at castle Sumter during the finish of the conflict and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil struggle have been instantaneously 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
In 1860 52. In May 1851 the Edgefield Advertiser noted that Antioch Baptist's new church had a large gallery for slaves. 's sister inherited Kejiah from her father James Griffin. , Sept. 1832, Sept. 1838, Feb. 1839, April 1843, June and July 1844, March 1850, Sept. 1856, May 1857, May and Aug. 1861. 53. Currency was highly inflated in 1863. S. 25 a day for nine days in February and two days in June. In March he hired Smith to Daniel Holland for four days, and immediately afterward for three days to neighbor Benjamin F.
The increased freedom that slaves experienced in camp worried masters. Private Charles Hutson of the Legion's Washington Light In54. B. Griffin to Capt. E. Bryant, 21 June 1865, Miscellaneous Griffin Papers, possession of Jack L. Gunter, Dallas. 55. Edgefield Advertiser, 15 Oct. 1862; Bonham, "Life and Times of Milledge Luke Bonham," 540. 56. , 52, 71. 30 "A Gentleman and an Officer" fantry, for instance, declined his uncle's offer to send him a valet because "one who has not seen the workings of camp-life cannot conceive how thoroughly a servant is spoiled by camp service.
74. , Hofstadter Aegis, 76-80. 75. Ford, Origins of Southern Radicalism, 304. B. Griffin, like his father before him, was one of the "local notables" who influenced politics.
A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War by Judith N. McArthur