By Judith N. McArthur
In 1861, James B. Griffin left Edgefield, South Carolina and rode off to Virginia to take in 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 searching puppy. He was once thirty-five years previous, a prosperous planter, and the landlord of sixty-one slaves while he joined Wade Hampton's elite Legion as a huge of cavalry. He left in the back of seven teenagers, the eldest purely twelve, and a spouse who was once 8 and a part months pregnant. As a box officer in a prestigious unit, the possibilities for repute and glory appeared unlimited. Griffin, notwithstanding, played no bold acts, nor did he motivate nice loyalty in his males. as an alternative, he unknowingly supplied a special and valuable portrait of the accomplice officials who shaped the middle 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. impressive of their breadth and quantity, the letters surround Griffin's whole Civil conflict carrier, detailing residing stipulations and army maneuvers, the jockeying for place between officials, and different methods officials and enlisted males interacted through the Civil conflict. in contrast to the memories and biographies of high-ranking, recognized accomplice officials or experiences and edited collections of letters of participants 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 by means of severe army problem and complex extra by way of 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 resembling the Hampton Legion's function within the Peninsula crusade (details that might 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 such a lot amazing of instances, he illuminates the main traditional of daily concerns. One may perhaps anticipate finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. as a substitute, we're faced by means of easy humanity and straightforward matters, from the elements to gossip. enormous ancient occasions intruded on Griffin's existence and despatched him off to conflict, 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 way of fireplace, that verified 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 conflict at castle Sumter in the course of the finish of the conflict and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil conflict have been without delay devastatingly nationwide and revealingly neighborhood.
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Extra info for A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War
9 persons. "Without Counting the Cost" 27 Inferences from census data can be risky, but in the 1850 slave census many of the slaves appear to follow what would logically be a family order of a father, mother, children. Some of these listings, however, look like groupings of mother and children only. 51 Church records also substantiate family relationships; members were listed as father, mother, wife, brother, and so on. Records at Antioch Baptist Church contain references to several Griffin slaves.
Leila's paternal family, the Burts, began this tradition soon after their arrival in South Carolina, when three sons of Mathew and Ann Burt married three daughters of Aquilla and Harrietta Giroud Miles. These families and the Doziers continued to intermarry, and instances of consanguine marriages occurred. B. Griffin's own sons in Texas after the war (see Chapter 9). 25 Ties of blood also helped family members economically. Aquilla Miles, Leila's cousin and brother-in-law, spent his life trying to work his way up to the planter class, and kinship ties to the Burts and Griffins surely contributed as much as the high cotton prices of the 1850s to his 25.
73. James B. Griffin obituary, clipping from unidentified South Carolina newspaper, Griffin Family Scrapbook, 1881. 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.