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tv   The Civil War Confederate Officer John Pelham  CSPAN  November 10, 2021 1:26pm-2:28pm EST

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of the room. you know, his banner says no more papa and mama. in the background, we have the two women both holding banners as well, also wearing bloomers. one says no more basement and kitchen. i think she's intending to represent servants, working class women. and the other one is a black woman who is smoking a people, pipe, and she has a sign protesting slavery. we have the scene that's very much kind of in the same world as the previous one. it's suggesting that if women gain rights, if women seek power and win power, they're going to abandon their domestic duties, they're going to force men to become more womanly, and it's going to lead to other changes including challenging the class hierarchy, like we see with the servants, as well as the racial hierarchy and the system of slavery. all of these things are wrapped
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up in this 1851 print. >> watch this program and thousands more online at >> i'm here to introduce sorry kay bierle. all of us here, we wear many hats. several months ago, we started a new series on the blog called my ecw story just to introduce you to some of the faces around ecw. that way when you come to a symposium and you want to tell us what you didn't like, you know who you're talking to and you know our background. sarah does so much with emerging civil war. her fingers are in every aspect of it, but i didn't even realize how much she did, how much she does until i read her contribution to my ecw story. i would encourage you, it was just within the past month, if you look up my ecw story, you'll find it. but she has a daily schedule. every day of the week, where she is working on some aspect of emerging civil war.
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it's just incredible. so if you like what we're doing, if you like what you see, make sure you give sarah a pat on the back. if you have any complaints, take them to dr. mackowski, it's probably his fault anyway. so sarah kay bierle graduated from thomas edison state university with a b.a. in history. serves as managing editor at manager civil war and works on staff at the battlefield trust. she spent years sharing quality historical research in ways that will inform and inspire modern audiences including school presentations, writing, and speaking engagements. sarah has published three historical fiction books, and her first nonfiction book, call out the cadets, is part of the emerging civil war series. she's currently working on a biography of major pelham and will be sharing some of that research today. ladies and gentlemen, sarah kay bierle.
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>> good morning. how is the volume? all right. i'm not seeing anything that tells me i need to readjust it, so we're going to say it's good. first of all, thank you so much for being here. it's nice to see lots of friendly faces and we've got a full day of presentations for you today, including our second one, on the rise of a confederate legend. so let's just go ahead and jump right in. we're going to actually start with the battle of kelly's ford. march 17th, 1863. on this day, union cavalry crossed the river at kelly's ford, and this is an early offensive movement that union cavalry is taking in the eastern theater, and it's significant because previously it's been the confederates doing a lot of daring things like riding around the army two times and doing
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these raids that are quite concerning to union high command. so kelly's ford, although it is often seen as an inconclusive military action, it's important to note that its arether first time that the union cavalry is taking initiative, and i see it as a turning point in this union cavalry history in the eastern theater. so what happens? the union cavalry, which is about 2100 men commanded by general avril, crosses the river, and they're going to fight with confederates. the battle escalates, stewart is actually in coal tepper a bit by accident, but he's there, and he and some of his officers including a young 24-year-old artillery major named john pelham, ride out to see what's going on in this fight at kelly's ford. the battle continues to evolve, and accounts can be a little confusing.
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i'm sorting through them, and i have vendiagrams drawn on some of my research boards trying to figure out, okay, this person says this. this person says this. does anything overlap or are these completely conflicting accounts. it's a challenging battle to dig into. one thing that happens is the virginia cavalry regiment. i want to read you to set the scene of this fighting at kelly's ford. gilmore writes, the general sent me to order the third to charge the woods directly in front. the poor fellows went in gallantly, but it was a fatal mistake x i thought so at the time, for that stone fence extended from the road on our right to the river on our left. and it was utterly impassable for cavalry throughout its whole length. but the gallant third gassed on in splendid style with their long bright sabres raised in
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point with a wild ringing yell to rile the horses and carry dismay to the hearts of their foes. but when within 150 yards of the barricade, a deadly fire poured into their ranks which emptied many a saddle and threw the column into some confusion. they pushed on, however, right up to the fence, killing men behind it with pistols and tried to make a gap. but that was impossible for mounted men to do, and the poor fellows were forced to fall back out of range and reform the regiment now looking no larger than a good squadron. so there's these cavalry charges that the confederate regiments are making and other regiments that charge in as well. they're not able to get to the union line at this point. so how does this play into our discussion of john pelham? well, john pelham is at the
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battle of kelly's ford, and some accounts say that he took part in one of these cavalry charges and was mortally wounded at that time. other accounts say that he was sitting a bit further back from the fight, observing, and that he was mortally wounded then. what we do know is he's not commanding his artillery guns at the battle of kelly's ford. there are confederate artillery pieces that come on the field, and they're commanded by one of pelham's subordinates. pelham supposedly goes and tells him, gives him a few suggestions on where to place the guns, but pelham doesn't stay with the horse artility during this battle. i thing it's possible that pelham may have participated in the cavalry charge and then been wounded a bit further back so there's a possibility that both accounts might be correct, and i'm continuing to look into that as i continue my research. what we do know, though, is that
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the fragment of a shell from a union cannon entered the back of john pelham's skull and he fell backwards off his horse. other officers see that he is wounded and unconscious, and they send him to culpepper, which is approximately 17 miles away for medical care. john pelham died in the early morning hours of march 18th, 1863, and as far as we can tell from the priary source accounts, he did not regain consciousness. the battle at kelly's ford is this turning point for the union cavalry in their war in the east. and one of those unintended consequences of the death of john pelham, and with pelham's fall at kelly's ford, it's marking the end of his life and the end of his actions in confederate history, and it's also where the legends begin. now, kelly's ford can be seen as this transition for pelham. it's where life and memory begin
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to intersect. he is a bit of a legend in his own lifetime. we're going to talk about that in a few minutes. but when he dies, life ends, memory begins, and do they always match up? we're going to explore that in the next few minutes. so i would like to start off with a premise for today's discussion. and that is that a person's life and the story written about them after their death may not match. and there's a few questions that i would like you to keep in mind as we're going through the presentation. what are the primary source facts during a life? so what's written about a person while they're alive? what do they write? what do we see in their own writings as well? number two, how did this person view themselves, and again, that's going to tie back into the primary sources. and number three, are there motives for a different narrative to emerge after their death? so keeping these things in mind,
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let's jump in to life versus legend with john pelham. now, life versus legend happens with a lot of civil war figures so i'm not going to make the claim that pelham has some unique experience. we see this, we can put these questions to other civil war heroes or even lesser known figures as well if we wanted. but did it happen exponentially with john pelham? that's something we're going to dig into a little bit today and i'm continuing to also look at in my future writings. and i would pose the question, what other confederate artillery major has his reputation, his stories, and his monuments? there are places marked for pelham, like we had cannons here. there aren't a lot of other confederate stand alone artillery majors who have that reputation and that sort of battlefield documentation. so how did this happen?
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my goal with these past years of research and a forthcoming book is not to bash pelham. i know i have had some people be like, do you have something against pelham? no, but i want to be truthful about who he was. and i think when we see the shiny stories and these romantic tales about him, that's kind of concerning. can we strip those away and can we find an even more impressive story with triumphs and a few flaws? when we can bring him back from the status of war demigod to humanities level, then we can better appreciate his character and accomplishments in fighting tactics without glittering legends cluttering the scene. so in the next few minutes of this presentation, we're going to look at john pelham's short life, and i want to highlight moments and connections that seem to have contributed to his elevated status and the confederate stories after his death. and i think we're going to find that some of it is billed during
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his own lifetime and rightfully so with his military actions on these battlefields. but then also, it becomes a story of connections and who wanted to tell his story after he was gone, which we'll explore toward the end of the program. so let's start off talking about the man and some facts we know about him. so all the screen, we have added a picture of john pelham when he was about 16 years old. he's looking quite dapper and he has his hair in a rather unique hair style. we'll have to ask chris if he styles his hair in similar ways. john pelham was born on september 7th, 18 they in bentonville, county, which is now calhoun county in alabama. it's a lot of fun when you have to do county records because it even changes in the time his family is there. he's one of six boys and then these six boys who are all in a
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row have a little sister. their father was atkinson pelham, a doctor and a plantation owner and the family properties were around the town of alexandria, alabama. pelham is educated locally and then he's tutored by a local minister as he's getting ready to pursue next steps in his higher education. he and his brothers were known as the wild boys in the neighborhood. they broke up schools when they didn't like the teacher. they came to bull and learned how to ride it, and the neighbors were so troubled by the pelham boys that they predicted at least one of them was going to hang. well, john pelham wasn't destined for hanging. and said he had an interest in the military. so hue got an appointment to west point, which is signed by secretary of war jefferson davis in the mid-1850s. he was also recommended to west
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point by powerful politicians in the state of alabama. the west point years for john pelham are 1856 to 1861. and if you're doing some quick math, this early in the morning, you'll see he's there five years. what happened? did he get in trouble, was he held back? no. jefferson davis, who is secretary of war for the united states at this point in time, had a brilliant plan, at least he thought it was, that the west point course of study should be changed from four years to five years. it didn't last very long, but pelham is one of the young men who is at west point for five years. so it's the typical studies that we read about for west point at this time. while he's at the military academy, he becomes very good friends with tom rosser, who will later be a well named
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confederate cavalry leader as well. they were room mates and when they leave west point, they'll leave together. i promised someone in the room that i would reveal what john pelham's first demerit at west point was for. so here we go. his first demerit was for, quote, bedding not properly aired at morning inspections, end quote. his other early demerits were for laughing in the ranks, boyish conduct in class, and relaxed ways when on century duty. some of the other young and rising leaders at west point with him in his class or there at the same time include addlebert aims, henry dupont, charles e. haglet, mathis w. henry, justin kkilpatrick, alono cushing, and george custer. ames would later recall he, speaking of pelham, was easily
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the most popular man of the corps in my time. everybody liked him. i never heard anyone say a word against him. he was that kind of man, the kind of men you felt instinctively, here is a friend. no, he was quiet, simple, unassuming, unpretentious. there was a reserve about him that we got to know covered an inward strength. classwork, pelham never gained top of class. he struggled with mathematics, but he excelled in the more physical activities like fencing, horsemanship, and boxing. he went home in the summer of 1858 after being at west point for two years, and the photograph on the screen was taken on that first trip home. when he returns to west point, some of his correspondents, his west point correspondence does survive, and there's an excerpt from a letter he wrote to his
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brother sam. he said i do not think a man can be strictly honorable unless he is brave. if he fears and cringes to other men, he cannot fulfill the full definition of a man. and his west point letters give us a little bit of insight into his foundational thinking. and then we can start seeing that play out as opportunities arise in the civil war. pelham's actions tend -- he wants honor, and he wants to be brave. and i think this quote from the west point letter is very insightful in that way. secession comes. john brown's raid in 1859 raises tensions within the barracks of west point, just as it raises tensions across the united states. pelham tended to stay out of the political squabbles and fights. and his classmates note this. in mid-1860, he went home to see his family, who had been
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seriously ill. but he returns to the military academy in time to meet prince edward of england. who is visiting the united states at that time. others around pelham in this period describe him as wise and discreet, and he's not jumping into the secession committees or clubs, which other cadets are forming. however, he begins to seek advice of state and national political leaders. and in his correspondence to his family, he does reveal the state centered focus of the constitution which was typical in the south at that time. on february 27th, 1861, pelham writes a letter to jefferson davis offering his services to the confederacy, but asking if or when he should leave west point, as far as we know, davis does not respond to that letter. in march of 1861, pelham writes, i am not master of my own acts.
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he's feeling a bit sabotaged at the moment because here he is at west point, the united states military academy, and yet his home state, alabama, and this newly formed confederacy, have commissioned him, and he's like, this doesn't work. it doesn't match his sense of honor. his family is telling him to stay at west point. he's so close to graduating. he really wants to graduate, and what becomes very clear in his writings at this time is pelham develops this idea that it would be honorable to resign his u.s. commission and he could accept another, but he cannot hold both at the same time. so on april 17th, after the firing on ft. sumpter and lincoln's call for troops, he sends his resignation to secretary of war cameron and he very specifically includes a note at the bottom of his letter, i have accepted no place or appointment from any state or
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government. so although he was out there and had his name on them, he wanted it to be clear he had not accepted it at that time. he leaves with thomas rosser on the 9th of april 22nd, and they left in the darkness because they were afraid they would be arrested. before he left, he told his friend ames, i am going home. i shall be in two or three fights and then be killed. and he repeats a similar sentiment to his mother when he leaves his home in alabama. does this help us gain insight into his mentality and how his thinking might have influenced his actions on the battlefield? if he's accepted he might not live through this war, will it change the way he fights? i think it's possible that it does. so pelham leaves west point, and he has to get back to alabama. and he takes the scenic route, shall we say, because he's avoiding capture. he goes through pennsylvania, ohio, indiana, kentucky, tennessee, and finally into
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alabama. on may 10th, he reported to the confederacy for assignment, and on may 15th, he commissioned as a first lieutenant and was sent to virginia. he goes into the shenandoah valley first and down to harper's ferry where he helps to organize and train what is known as alburtis' battery. alburtis is an older man, and although he wants to lead it, he ends up sick on the day of the first battle of bull run or manassas. so this puts pelham in command of alburtis' battery for the first major battle of the war. and their position in the battle is on the far right side of the confederate line on henry house hill near the robinson house. and there's a photograph on the screen taken kind of out in that area. pelham does move around a little bit on the manassas battlefield. he moves his gun forward into an
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exposed position, a position that's so exposed that a fellow officer remarks, if pelham's fool enough to stay there, i'm not. pelham's actions are noticed at the battle of first manassas, but he also starts to have a small change of heart or a change of perception about this war. he writes a letter to his father which fortunately was printed in the local alabama newspaper, making it one of the few war letters that pelham wrote to survive. i want to share an excerpt from it. he writes, i have seen what romancers call glorious war. i have seen it in all its phases. i have heard the booming of cannons and the more deadly rattle of musketry at a distance. i have heard it all nearby and been under its destructive showers. i have seen men and horses fall
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sick and flat around me. i have seen our own men bloody and frightened, flying before the enemy. i have seen them bravely charge the enemy lines and heard the shout of triumph as they carried the position. i have heard the agonizing shrieks of the wounded and dying. i have passed over the battlefield and seen the mangled forms of men and horses and frightful abundance. men without heads, without arms, and others without legs. all this i have witnessed and more, until my heart sickens and war is not glorious, as novelists would have us believe. it is only when we are in the heat and clutch of battle that it is fascinating and interesting. it is only then that we enjoy it. when we forget ourselves and revel in the destruction we're dealing around us. i am now ashamed of the feelings i had in those hours of danger. the whistling bullets and shells were music to me. i gloried in it. it delighted and fascinated me.
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i feared not death in any form but when the battle was won and i visited the field, a change came over me. it was necessary, we are battling for our rights and a holily cause. the invader must feet the fate he deserves and we must meet him as he comes to us, as becomes men. it is quite a dramatic letter. and that is just part of it. but it, we're seeing shift in his thinking but also as we see in many other soldiers at this time, the solidification of their thinking about the cause. and i think that is important to note. another thing that jumps out in pelham's writings that do survive is the use of we will be men. he wanted to be a man and an honorable man fighting in this war and i do find it a bit ironic that so many writings about him continually refer to
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him as a boy. and, yes, he does look very young. i could see why we do. but he wanted to be seen as a man. so keep that in mind. so he tells us why he's fighting the war. at least in the summer of 1861. and this letter excerpt add layers to consider how he might have felt about the legacy crafted around his name and life. let's get to the horse artillery and introduce someone who plays a big part in pelham's life and memory. this is general james brown stuart and many of you heard gordon ray's presentation which included a lot of information about stuart so we'll do the quick over view this morning. stuart also has been to west point. he graduates in the class of 1854. so he missed being there with pelham by just two years. he's off fighting in the west. he takes part in topping john brown's raid at harper's ferry
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and stuart is a favorite with general robert e. lee and known for his flair and charisma and he tries out new tactics. and i think that is something that sometimes we forget about stuart. he has an incredible spy network that he's using throughout virginia and he also innovated with artillery. so stuart has this idea, could he have horst artillery. it is something that they used on napoleon battlefields and it is moving artillery from point to point. stuart gets the organizer down in richmond to buy off on this idea of horse artillery but he has trouble finding a commander. first he thinks it is john cook. but cook spends half of his time in richmond and doesn't have interest at this point in forming an artillery unit. then stuart puts forward james brod ard's name, they're not so
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into him at the moment and third time is a charm, he puts forward pelham's name. pelham has been active with the artillery and are training the units coming to the confederates at that point in time and for one reason or another, the confederate military authorities down if richmond, they say, yes, pelham will be the commander of the stuart horse artillery. so on november 29th, 1861 in in order number 557, pelham is transferred to the horse artillery. he spends the winter recruiting and training. he's still just a lieutenant at this time. he recruits from across the south and when the stuart horse artillery rolls toward the virginia peninsula in 1862, they have 130 horses and six cannons. their cannon are two six pound
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how litzers, one napoleon an one three inch blakely rifle cannon at this point in time. so let's talk about horse artillery and the tactics. so it comes from a european battlefields and one thing that could be kind of challenging to wrap our minds around is we look back to this era of warfare and we think, well, yeah, horse artillery, they used horses to pull the cannons all over the place. that is true. but, horse artillery is very specific. horse artillery accompanies cavalry and will take a gun and move and fire. and then hits to the horses again and take it to another place and move and fire. so it is not horses pull the cannon news a battery position and set up there. this is very rapid fire. it is very mobile fire power and this is what stuart wants to experiment with and pelham is going to be the one to help define this for stuart's
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cavalry. so in may 1862 pelham promotes to captain. the first battle that he will fight leading the horse artillery is at williamsberg and he positions near ft. mcgruder until he's out of ammunition. his report said that he fires 360 rounds. this will become a hall mark of pelham on battlefield. he tends to hole position until he's out of ammunition. whether he's supposed to or not. now, while on the peninsula, someone else enters the scene who will become part of pelham's story and part of how he's remembered. and this is general thomas jonathan jackson who has the nickname stonewall. now stonewall jacks has a passion for artillery and he likes it when he sees it well handled a. the bat of gains mill, pelham comes in on the
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left of jackson's line, and one gun break as cording to reports so it could have been caused in battle or wheels falling off, things are going on with this one gun. pelham dismounted and he helps to fire the remaining cannon that is out there. he duals to full batteries to a halt. jackson is seeing this and very impressed. jackson sends three more batteries over to his position to help pelham, asked who he is and insists upon meeting him after the battle. pelham is mentioned in both stuart and jackson's battle reports and he goes on to some other feats in the peninsula came in seven days battle including battling gun boats near white house landing filing on the army from the heights. the campaign and seven days battle is a testing ground for pelham. how does he and the battery fit into the calvary and the rest
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and what are sp tactics and work with his guns on the battlefields. at the battle of second manassas, at the end of august 1862, something remarkable happens. stonewall jackson gives john pelham permission to go anywhere advantageous on the field. jackson tells someone they could go anywhere they want on his battlefield is a little surprising. and we see this rising trust that jackson is placing in pelham an on the screen there is a quote of jackson, if i had a pelham on each flank, i would whip the world. this is how much admiration jackson has for this young artillery commander. the antietam campaign or sharpsburg, i'm not sure if it is clear on the map but we'll
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trial to make it work here. you'll see stuart's nape out here and then the symbol for a few cannons. those are going to be under pelham's command. stuart is overseeing the artillery over the battle days. but their first position is going to be at nicko deem us hill on the left flank. pelham will fire the opening shots in the early morning hours of september 17th, 1862. as the battle unfolds, and begins shifting, pelham moves his cannons and aren't just the cannons, these are other batteries that he's commanding from jackson's core and they're going to move from the heights where they were in danger of being captured and not so effective, they're going to move to halter ridge which is back here behind westwoods. so as union troops are plunging into westwoods and thinking maybe we'll break the
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confederate lines, pelham is already waiting on hosser ridge and begins blasting into that area with artillery fire. pelham will later move the cannons back to nicka deemus heights when the danger has pass the. he wanted to go forward into very exposed artillery positions but he's driven back toward the end of day but holds the heights and this is kind of fascinating because as far as we could tell from the writings of ant eat ham, he's blaze flair about the position on his left flank and that doesn't seem like jackson. could have it have gone unrecorded, possibly. but at the same time, jackson has a level of trust in stuart and pelham and that is getting played out on the field at antietam. and jackson's chief of artillery is not present at the battle of
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antietam, he's organizing the captured artillery from a few days earlier to they step up into the artillery role for jackson at this battle. on september 22nd, 1862, pelham promotes to the rank of major. and in the fall of '62, he continues to refine his signature moves if you will toward artillery. this will happen in the loudoun county, campaign, and we see that he could command all of the guns but he likes to take one or two guns and go out with those gun crews and do something -- spectacular and fearless and gets the attention of the commanders above him and is destructive to the yankees opposing him. on october 10th, through 12th,
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there is the chambers grade where stuart takes cavalry into pennsylvania. they're going to ride a126 miles in three days. they're going to come back with about 1200 horses, political prisoners and will leave behind them a path of destruction totaling about $250,000. the chambers for grade does not go without its problems and toward the end union calvary is closing in on stuart. he takes his calvary to a place on the potomac river called white's ford and he's crossing his horsemen over. pelham acts as the rear guard. they're worried he will get captured but he fights a brilliant delaying pattern moving his guns from position to position making it hard for union cannons to find range and
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he eventually does bring his guns across the river. he doesn't lose any cannon in the chambers grade which is rather remarkable. in the loudoun county campaign which is thought to guard the passes of the blue ridge mountains to allow the army of northern virginia to reunite closer to the fredericksburg area and this is october 26th through november 7th, pelham is again very involved in this move cannon from point to point from high ground piece to ridge to null and keep firing, keep holding off the union calvary that is following them. one of pelhams friends and a member of jeb stuart's staff bork writes about pelham in the loudoun county campaign. he said we had the opportunity of witnessing one of those daring feats which pelham was so constantly performing. he had been greatly annoyed during the day by a squadron of federal cal rarry which operated
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against his batteries. they already killed or disabled many of this horses when our galant major losing all patience advanced with 00 of his light how witzers at full gappol toward the wood. the yankee squadron was suspicious that a cannon was directly upon them from a point only a few hundred yards off. all at once, the thunder was heard and its iron hail swept through the ranks of the yankees killing eight of their number, among who was the color bearer, wounding efrl others an putting the rest to flight in hopeful stampede. pelham and his cannon years now erm earth from the wood in a run amid loud shouts of applause. before the yankees could recover from their astonishment, the hall itser was removed and the horses were hitched to it again and it had arrived safely at the battery. and it is instances like this
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that are repeated throughout the campaign and pelham is perfecting the idea of taking a cannon or two into advanced position and using them to great effect. this leads into what happens at fredericksburg. now, we usually jump right to fredericksburg itself in 1862, but i would like to point out that pelham actually fights off some gun boats on the rappahanock river prior to the battle itself. he's south of fredericksburg and helping to see what is going on down there, will the union army be making a movement further down river. they ultimately don't. but there are some union gun boats that try to come up the river and he helps drive them off. he could move cannons from point to point along the river bank and keep those gun boats under fire until they get out of his range as the river widens.
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that is a lesser known point in his military service. okay. so, fredericksburg. december 13, 1862, by this time union armys have established their crossing and come over to the confederate side of the rappahannock river and getting ready to attack. stuart and calvary including pelham and his horses have come back to the fredericksburg area, general stolewall jackson has also come back to the fredericksburg area and is filling in the position along prospect hill and then joining up with divisions from long street corner which was already in position. so on the morning of december 13th, 1862, pelham gets this idea, nothing much is happening. it is kind of a quiet morning, it is foggy, but they know there are union troops out there in front of jackson's position. pelham asked permission and gets permission to take a single
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cannon out in front of the confederate lines quite aways, he goes out arks he finds some ground that he really likes. the accounts say it was a bit of a hollow, so he's using topography to help shelter himself and the fog is hiding him as well as the land itself. he gets his gun into position and he orders the crew to fire. and their shell goes into waiting union troops who are out toward the area of what is now slaughter penfield. they are in for a surprise. in fact, they're so surprised that they think what is going on. who is shooting at us. did our artillery men, the ones in blue, have a little too much and they call it commissary. they're thinking some drunk union cannon is firing on their own men. they think this is friendly fire. who would have a a cannon out there so far in advance of the confederate line.
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well, it's john pelham. he gets off a few more shots and they realize it is not a drunk cannon ear, it is an enemy cannon. and there is going to be batteries on both sides of the rappahannock river that will start raining fire into pelham's position to try to get his coordinates and they don't call it that but they're trying to get his range, and blow up him and this cannon. but he keeps moving in this hollow, in this area. so he'll fire a shot and move the position. fire a shot and move the position. so it is very hard for the artillery to get an exact shot at him he does take casualties, something that is not always told in this part of the story. quite a few of his gun crew are wounded or killed. and some of them will later write that they weren't very happy about this escapade. they didn't think it was so great and wonderful.
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but, the officers watching from the high ground, the confederate officers were very impressed by what they saw. stuart is so impressed he thinks that this is working, let's send another cannon out there. so he does. the problem is, it was either a really unlucky cannon, or something happened. it gets blown up after firing just a shot or two. leaving pelham and his guys out there alone again. from lee's headquarters on what is lee's hill, lee observed this fight through his field glasses and he said it is glorious to see courage in one so young. he also called pelham galant. this is the top of honor that pelham seems to have wanted in his life. stuart meanwhile who really cares about pelham and will later said he cares for him as a brother, is in a panic because one of his best friends is getting shot by a lot of union cannons and he keeps sending
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messengers down there and the messengers don't want to go. finally he sends the message, get back from destruction, you infernal galant fool john pelham. he said i have plenty of ammunition why would i leave. i runs out of ammunition. i told you with it was a hallmark. and jackson so so impressed he orders tapeleton crushfield to send batteries down and let pelham figure out what to do with them on the right flank and at the end of the battle, jackson said to jeff stuart have you another pelham general. if so, i wish you would give him to me. what happens at fredericksburg and with pelham getting notices in this action that starts off the battle on december 13th, sweeps into newspapers, marley across the south. and you could find the account printed over and over. pelham is a name that is
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sweeping across southern homes and places where news is discussed. he's done other things that have been noticed but this is the moment that really introduces the south and the north to john pelham. these newspaper accounts are even reprinted in europe particularly in england. so we see his fame is starting to have an international spread. now before we move on to the final parts of story, i do want to point out that the artillery position at fredericksburg, that advanced artillery position, has been preserved by central virginia battlefields trust and you could see the photo on the screen of the marker cannon that we have out there. if you have not had the opportunity to visit that site and take a look at the panels, we do have some sheets on the cvbtv table that tems you how to get there. so if you're interesting, it is
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a great place to visit and you could stand there and kind of get an if idea and you'll see how far it is from slaughter pen and things like that. all right. so the final winter of john pelham's life. he is in winter camp with stuart. through the winter. and then he decides to make a trip to orange. and he deceives stuart a little bit, to get permission to go out there. he will eventually rejoin stuart at culpeper around march 16th, 1863. stuart doesn't have all of his calvary at culpeper and he's out there on some other military business but pelham thinks i'll rejoin stuart and go back to the camps with him and then kelly's ford happens. they see the fight and it ends with pelham mortally wounded and dying in the night of march 18th, 1863. after pelham dies, his friend
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harls bork dresses his body in a clean military uniform and places him in a wooden casket. as some point in the night. jeb stewart comes to the shackleford home and pays his last respects to his young officer. his body is sent by train to richmond and then his remains are transferred to an iron casket with a window overlooking where his face is. he lies in state in the capitol here, you could see washington statute and the unique patterns there on the floor. he lies in state in the virginia capital and most of the ladies in richmond will come pay respects, leave flowers, it is a scene quite similar to what will happen at jackson's funeral just a few weeks later. on march 28th, the casket arrives at his family's home in alabama and they bury him on march 31st in jacksonville, alabama. the stuart artillery officers
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were wearing army bands for 30 days after pelham's death. why did john pelham rise in the legends of confederate heroes. his heroic actions were spotlighted during his lifetime which made his death a national event in the confederacy. stuart begins most mortem memory announcing pelham's death and while mostly based in fact, the language that stuart chooses to use brings pelham into a heroic martyr at the us just days after his death. so a few of the factors that we see in the rise of and continuation of the pelham legends are starting with stewart himself. and he described pelham this way. my comrade friend, all but brother, john pelham was to me a younger brother. if you know his military exploits, read my official
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reports, since the commencement of the war these are his biography and had he lived he would have risen to the highest honors in the nation. stuarts to name his name his next child john pelham stuart and tells his wife there. however the little girl who is born gets the name virginia pelham stuart. stuart dies in 1864. so it can't be stuart alone who keeps pelham's memory. another fak factor is did pelham die at the perfect time. that doesn't sound nice because there is not a perfect time to die. but the confederacy is in the east, the confederate calvary is undefeated. pelham doesn't have a major defeat on his record. his funeral is almost a rehearsal for jackson's. it is very fascinating to look at. and also i would just point out in his personal life, pelham was unmarried and to public knowledge was not engaged.
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so he is the perpetual young bachelor who dies in the middle of the war while a confederacy was at its height. john cook writes about pelham after his death and in the latest writings continues to put pelham's name forward. he places pelham on the level with lee, jackson and stuart, top of the confederacy and top heroes in virginia. and others do the same. basically pelham's name doesn't die. and he's placed in the top heroes an martyrs in confederate memory. then you get to the confederate veterans. pelham's idea of a south in the post war. he's loyal to his state, and courageous and unmarried which allows for every possible rowe montic story to appear, whether true or not. around 1912 some of the confederate veterans and sons of
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confederate veterans had an obsession with pelham and someone had special meeting gavels made from wood from the room where pelham was supposedly born. pelham continues to be placed in the highest and favorite levels of confederate heroes and this allows him name to continue in the reminiscence and bim part of the confederate novels and stories of the era. one of the real challenges is pelham's lost letters. and the simple fact is the majority of the letters, particularly his war era writings were lost in the early 20th century. there have been efforts made by researchers to recover them but so far they've been unsuccessful. and there this he lost his voice beyond the grave if you will and researchers have lost the insight and personal views that he wrote to his family. and finally we have the biographers. due to the lost letters, biographers has used a lot of secondary sources and interviews
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that were long after pelham's life and death. and then they made best guesses to try to piece together the unclear parts of his life. along the way these best intentions authors wrote stories at best and fiction at worst. and this is a challenge because those stories keep getting repeated and repeated and repeated each time a book is written generally speaking. so we come back to our premise as we're wrapping up of his life and the story written about him after the death may not match. the primary sources for pelham are limited, making it hard to find his thoughts and personal feelings in the credible sources that still available. how did pelham view himself? he was fearless and he wanted honor. ar there motives for a different narrative to emerge after his death? possibly. pelham wants honor and glory and he wanted to live fearlessly. his understanding of glory
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changes at manassas and maybe at other points in the war. he believes in the southern reasons for fighting and his life gave a near perfect pattern for the ideal young confederate officer and what was missing could be easily added as the decades passed. as i started researching john pelham in early 2019 and have been digging through archives, materials, newspapers and old fiction books to track the myths and strange techniques ever since, i started, when i started i had no idea how many rabbit trails and how much conversation i would find and piecing together and sorting through for a book in the emerging civil war sears. now the pandemic restrictions might be easing, i'll hopefully be able to finish the archive reading an complete the manuscript sooner rather than later. one of the challenges with this project is to separate the life from the legend. they crossed at points and even dur pelham's life, who was he.
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why did he make the decisions he he made and what were the prime sources during his life say and how do they hold up to his writings after the death. the theme of this symposium is fallen leaders and i'm talked about pelham's death and miamiory but as we close, i want you to remember he really lived. he was 24 years old when he dived but in those short years of life he acted memorably in the military eye. the concept of really lived helps us to remember the humanity of a historic figure. and for pelham, citable facts tell us that he laughed, he got demerits, he read his bible and wrote to his parents and brother and little sister. he blushed he read military manuals and fired cannons and he got angry and wept and he fought battles and dozens of unnamed skirmishes receiving
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commendation. he lived a live full of principles that he believed in and he had the courage to act upon them the foresight to use innovative tactics and the ability to command. he really lived until a fragment pierced his skull and took hem into death and eternity. [ applause ] >> we have time for maybe one or two questions. remember tell you are your name and where you're coming in fr. >> crisper, locus grove. what happened to his brothers? >> so his brothers did fight for the confederacy in other units mostly in the western theater. >> that would be a great blog post. i should do that sometime. >> jim from frederick.
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regarding antietam, they moved around the flank and william poe was not impressed with impetuousness and do you think that was in pelham's nature which we see throughout his military career? >> definitely. pelham is impettus and he likes to go out in exposed positions an he does kind of maybe get a little bit of a hand slap from some of the other officers watching at antietam. the end of the day at antietam, i do not counts as one of his fine moments. >> you mentioned the lost letters, what is the story there? do we know what happened? >> it is a bit of a saga. family had his lertss and hister loaned them to someone who called themselves a researcher and they were either lost in the mail, as the researcher claims, or he potentially took them.
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but others reached out to this individual, this is in the early 20th century and he claimed to have no idea, so there is a bit of a mystery. >> john wellen, washington, d.c. d.c. round table, where the second president was brute kat by the way, i just read john madison's book about fredericksburg. >> yes. >> and pelham being one of the characters, i think his thesis which he touched on is maybe fredericksburg gave him the idea that he could get away with things like kelly's ford which ultimately led to his demise. is that sort of your impression, too? >> a little bit. one thing that i would question back a little bit is how is pelham fitting in with other officers his age in his position. can we look and see other
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examples? yes, he's impettus and going out and doing things that were like, yeah, he maybe should have thought about that a little more. but this is the time in which he lives and the culture that the military culture that he's in at that point is very much go forward and distinguish yourself. i think what happened in the chambers grade in loudoun county does set the overlooked connection there. >> one final question. >> ted romans from waynesburg. and the life of hell pelham, would you consider his life chivalrous, ultimately doomed, a biproduct of the lost cause era of the civil war. >> this is a good question and one i'm addressing long-term in my writing. i don't think pelham was doomed from the start.
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think what happened at kelly's ford if he could have said something from the grave, i think he would have been surprised that he died at kelly's ford. that is not the place we would have thought he would have died. was he doomed by the mentality of his era? i don't believe so. and i will explain that further in writing. thank you. [ applause ] ♪♪
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our weekly series the presidency, highlights the politics, and policies of first president and first ladies. christopher leahy skpoeked about his own portfolio party. >> the senate in february of 1836 rather than vote to expunge the senture of andrew yks, the wick party led by henry clay in the senate had passed a resolution of censure, took andrew jackson to task for removing the bank deposits which inaugurated the bank war in jackson's second term but when the democrats regain control of congress, they pass what was known as the expunging resolution and what they aim to do was expunge the censure from
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the senate journal, to get it out of the record of the senate journal. tyler was instructed to vote for the expunging by the slate legislature and he refused and he resigned in february of 1836 out of principle. but he returned to politics yet again a year and a half later. he was elected to the virginia legislature for the third time. we see this pattern at looking as a way to try to continue his political career by using the legislature as the spring board. he got nominated as vice president by the wigs at their convention in december of 1839, the national convention, they nominated william henry harrison and tippecanoe and tyler too defeated martin van buren in november of 1840. harrison as you know died 32 day
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news his term, tyler became president, this image on the the right is a romantic image of tyler receiving news of harrison's passing and his elevation to the presidency. watch this program and thousands more online at >> welcome to atlanta history, and any maim is haley and i'm here for the history center. it is my pleasure to welcome you all in the audience and tonight's special guest allen guelzo. he's discuss his newest book, robert e lee, a biography of the figure that a lot of us think we might know but might uncover new and interesting insight in the book. as i said earlier, if you haven't purchased your copy, it was just published yesterday to congratulations, allen, we're excited to have you day after publication day. you could purchase a copy from atlanta history centers museu


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