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 searching 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 He was once thirty-five years outdated, a prosperous planter, and the landlord of sixty-one slaves while he joined Wade Hampton's elite Legion as a tremendous of cavalry. He left at the back of seven teenagers, 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 repute and glory appeared unlimited. Griffin, despite the fact that, played no bold acts, nor did he encourage nice loyalty in his males. as an alternative, he unknowingly supplied a different and helpful 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 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. awesome of their breadth and quantity, the letters surround Griffin's complete Civil battle carrier, detailing dwelling stipulations and armed forces maneuvers, the jockeying for place between officials, and different methods officials and enlisted males interacted through the Civil battle. not like the recollections and biographies of high-ranking, recognized accomplice officials or reports and edited collections of letters of contributors of the rank and dossier, this assortment sheds gentle at the lifetime of a center officer--a existence became the other way up via severe army worry 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 activities in quite a few 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 scuffling 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 amazing of instances, he illuminates the main traditional of day by day concerns. One may well anticipate finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. in its place, we're faced through uncomplicated humanity and easy issues, from the elements to gossip. huge historic occasions intruded on Griffin's existence and despatched him off to battle, yet his heartfelt issues have been approximately his relations, his neighborhood, and his personal own satisfaction. finally, Griffin's letters current the Civil conflict because the refinery, the ordeal through fireplace, that demonstrated and verified--or modified--Southern upperclass values. With a desirable blend of army and social heritage, A Gentleman and an Officer strikes from the start of the Civil conflict at citadel Sumter in the course of the finish of the conflict and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil warfare have been right away 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
1861, note 5, and 28 April 1862, note 5. Emily Bellinger Reynolds and Joan Reynolds Faunt, Biographical Directory of the Senate of the State of South Carolina, 17761964 (Columbia: Univ. of South Carolina Press), 86. 72 Griffin's obituary would claim that he had no political ambitions for himself but sought advancement for his friends instead: "to his friendship and influence, more than one of the young aspirants of that day were indebted for their first political preferment. " 73 Although not a member of the legislature, Griffin had influence, and influence mattered a great deal in antebellum South Carolina, where the aristocratic structure of government largely withheld power from the electorate.
Allowing for many exceptions, the Edgefield aristocrats preferred the Episcopal Church. , however, was not a member of Trinity Episcopal Church either. B. was a man of upright moral character, and he may have been reluctant to give up the faith of his father. B. )39 Within a particular church, members did not seem to be distinguished by economic status (except for enslaved African Americans). In both 1915 and 1922 a Confederate veteran, the son of a slaveowning Edgefield farmer, responded to a question about whether "slaveholders and nonslaveholders mingled on equal footing at church, 37.
Within one generation, this group of backcountry planters rose to wealth and prominence and established the basis of their descendants' claim to aristocracy. The second generation aligned itself through marriage with the coastal South Carolina and Charleston power establishment. Patriciate clans formed interlocking relationships through marriage. Family links, important factors in political alliances and allegiances, often led to leadership in the community and the state. By the time of the Civil War, the first families of Edgefield frequently had intermarried.
A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War by Judith N. McArthur