Civil War Wednesday: Major General W.H.T. Walker

Major General W.H.T. Walker

Major General W.H.T. Walker

Hoping to place segments of his army in the rear of the Federals holding the left flank outside Atlanta, on the evening of July 21, 1864, General John Bell Hood ordered Lieutenant General William Hardee to lead his corps on a forced march toward the northeastern quadrant of the city. Hood believed this maneuver would afford Hardee’s men the opportunity to get in the rear of Major General James B. McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee. Rugged terrain accompanied the early-morning heat and delayed Hardee’s advance. Major General Joe Wheeler’s cavalry force joined the mission, and the Southern troopers rode toward Decatur.

Major General William Henry Talbot Walker’s Division, part of Hardee’s Corps, participated in this operation. Walker, a native Georgian, born 1816 in Augusta, and a graduate of West Point, received several wounds while fighting gallantly in the Seminole Wars and in the Mexican-American War. When he became commandant at West Point, a post he held for two years, 1854-56, the cadets tagged him with the nickname “Shot Pouch,” because of the amount of lead his body had collected over the years. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Walker initially led a Georgia volunteer division before receiving a brigadier general’s commission in the Confederate Army. The stress and strain during the first year of the conflict weakened Walker’s bullet-scarred body, and for one year, he rested. In February 1863, he returned to active duty, commanding the post at Savannah. He received a promotion to major general in May 1863 and traveled west to join with General Joseph E. Johnston’s force near Jackson, Mississippi.

Atlanta monument marking area of Walker’s death on July 22, 1864

Atlanta monument marking area of Walker’s death on July 22, 1864

Leading from the front on July 22, 1864, Walker commanded a body of troops consisting primarily of Georgia regiments, supplemented with a few units from South Carolina and Mississippi. The Battle of Atlanta/Bald Hill, a Federal victory, claimed the lives of two major generals; the North lost McPherson, and the South lost Walker, both men falling within a short time of each other. Hood recalled of Walker, “I am certain that those officers and men who came within the sphere of his genial presence will unite in the verdict that no truer or braver man ever fell upon the field of battle.”[1] The Charleston Mercury reported, “Gen. Walker, the brave old hero of Georgia, was killed in front of his division. There were none braver than him, and his patriotism was of the purest and highest order.” Augusta College’s Walker Cemetery serves as the final resting place for this warrior.



[1] John Bell Hood, Advance and Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate States Armies, (United States: Da Capo Press, 1993), 182.

shafferMichael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center , a Civil War historian, newspaper columnist, and author of ‘Washington County, Virginia in the Civil War.’ He is a member of the Society of Civil War Historians, Historians of the Civil War Western Theater, Georgia Association of Historians, and the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta. Michael also serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and as a Civil War consultant for the Friends of Camp McDonald.

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Civil War Wednesday: Alfred R. Waud

Alexander Gardner photograph of Alfred Waud, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-19623

Alexander Gardner photograph of Alfred Waud, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-19623

Sketching the American Civil War brought fame to Great Britain native Alfred Rudolph Waud (pronounced Wode). In 1850, this foreign-trained artist arrived in America seeking a job as a scene painter for the burgeoning theater houses of the period. While awaiting an opportunity in this field, Waud worked as a sketch artist for several New England newspapers. In 1861, the coming of war brought unprecedented opportunities for skilled artisans such as Waud, his brother William, and the “war-artist” who accompanied Major General William T. Sherman during the Atlanta Campaign – Theodore R. Davis. Prior to the Battle of First Bull Run/Manassas, Waud received an assignment from employer New York Illustrated News to “…accompany the army through the campaign.”[1] For the balance of the war, Waud followed the Federal Army of the Potomac, witnessing all the major battles in the eastern theater. He left the Illustrated News for Harper’s Weekly near the end of 1861; at war’s end, Waud amassed 129 scenes for the News, and another 215 images for Harper’s.[2]

 

Highlighting the changes from the field to the final version, (at left) Waud’s initial sketch of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-21320, and (at right) the printed sketch, as appearing in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol.4.

Waud’s initial sketch of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-21320

During the Civil War, photographers struggled with an art form still in a static state. Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, George Barnard, and other shutterbugs took to the battlefields across the country, but with an inability to capture objects in motion. Portraying the thrill of action during battle fell to the skillful hands of Waud and other sketch artists. Dramatic changes often occurred from what the eyewitness observer outlined on the field of battle, compared to the printed images, which appeared in newspapers across the land. After sketching a scene, Waud and others would send their work, either overland or via ship, whichever method provided the quickest delivery to the point of destination – their respective publishers. Once at the printer, typically, several engravers would each receive a segment of the sketch to carve into a wooden block. The finished blocks, assembled and mounted together, formed a foundation for a metallic plate used on the printing press. The image of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox shown above illustrates how these images could evolve from the field to press.[3]

Escaping danger on more than one occasion, as he came under Confederate fire, Waud survived the war and led a very busy life during the post-war and Reconstruction periods. He traveled to several states in the west, where he sketched frontier village scenes; he even made his way to Chicago to cover the Great Fire of 1871. Waud’s various employers during the latter stages of the nineteenth century certainly got a bang for their buck!

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Waud’s postwar sketch of Lost Mountain, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-17625

Hoping to capitalize on the various battles fought within Georgia, and boost travel on the Western & Atlantic Railroad (W&A), Joseph M. Brown, son of wartime Governor Joseph E. Brown, who served as traffic manager for the W&A, hired Waud in 1887. His mission for the artist – visit all the major battle sites in Georgia and sketch the terrain. Waud set about his journey, and along the way he interviewed many veterans to gain first-hand knowledge of how the fighting played out at sites of the Atlanta Campaign. His wonderful illustrations appeared in what today one would call a travel guide. In 1890, Brown titled the work The Mountain Campaigns in Georgia; Or, War Scenes on the W. & A. Pleased with the success of this venture, Brown asked Waud to remain in the south, travel to other battlefields outside the state, and sketch various scenes for a multi-volume work Brown planned to publish. Waud consented. During one of these sketching trips, he fell ill; after making his way back to Marietta, Waud received medical care in Brown’s home until April 6, 1891, when a husband, and father of four breathed his last at age 62. Despite initial desires among family members to have his body returned to his home in South Orange New Jersey, for burial, he received internment in Marietta’s St. James Episcopal Cemetery.

Waud’s gravesite in Marietta, Georgia, at the St. James Episcopal Cemetery, photo courtesy of author.

Waud’s gravesite in Marietta, Georgia, at the St. James Episcopal Cemetery, photo courtesy of author.

The Civil War’s most noted sketch artist left a legacy in the form of almost 2,300 images, housed today at the Library of Congress, which has digitized many of them for online viewing.[4] Follow this link to the Library of Congress, and enjoy the work of a very gifted artist!



[1] Frederic E. Ray, Alfred R. Waud, Civil War Artist (New York: Viking Press, 1974), 14.

[2] Ibid., 52.

[3] Ibid., 28.

[4] Terry L. Jones, Historical Dictionary of the Civil War (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2002), 2:1535.

shafferMichael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center , a Civil War historian, newspaper columnist, and author of ‘Washington County, Virginia in the Civil War.’ He is a member of the Society of Civil War Historians, Historians of the Civil War Western Theater, Georgia Association of Historians, and the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta. Michael also serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and as a Civil War consultant for the Friends of Camp McDonald.

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Civil War Wednesday: Alexander Stephens

A younger Stephens.

A younger Stephens.

Alexander H. Stephens, a Georgia native, graduate of Franklin College (later UGA), and a former member of the Georgia legislature and the U.S. Senate, served as vice-president for the Confederate States of America. Stephens, along with the other delegates from the Empire State, joined representatives from South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana as they met in Montgomery, Alabama, in February 1861 to consider the next steps toward achieving some form of independence among the recently seceded states. Texas had also left the Union, but due to the great travel distance required, their delegates did not arrive in Montgomery until activities Parajumpers Sverige had set in-motion the establishment of the Confederate States of America.

During the deliberations, and subsequent drafting of the Confederate Constitution, “Little Aleck” took a very active role. When the time arrived for naming the provisional president and his cabinet, Stephens received the position of vice-president. Early in the war, Stephens spent time in the Confederate capital, which relocated to Richmond, Virginia, after the Old Dominion seceded. Stephens and President Jefferson Davis initially enjoyed a relatively positive working relationship. Soon, however, Davis relegated Stephens to a figure head with minimal responsibilities; yet another cabinet member Davis did not take full advantage of in navigating through the struggles of maintaining a fledgling nation at war. Stephens made frequent trips back to his beloved Georgia, and as 1863 unfolded, he spent the majority of his time at his home, Liberty Hall, in Crawfordville. Despite many naysayers of the period who criticized Stephens for failing to offer more active support of the Davis administration, the Georgian primarily took issue with two decisions emanating from Richmond. Stephens did not agree with conscription (the draft), and Davis’s ability to institute marital law.

Monument in front of Liberty Hall, Stephens’s home in Crawfordville, Georgia.

Monument in front of Liberty Hall, Stephens’s home in Crawfordville, Georgia.

Of conscription, Stephens suggested the act proved “…radically wrong in my judgment, both in principle and policy. Under this general system it will with us be a simple question of how much political quackery we have strength of constitution to bear and yet survive.” [1] As for suspending the writ of habeas corpus and imposing martial law, Stephens turned, as he always did, to Constitutional law. His brilliant legal mind interpreted the matter as the “… [Confederate] Constitution was made for war as well as peace…laws for the civil authorities and laws for the military…the constitutional guarantees are above and beyond the reach or power of Congress, and much more…beyond the power of any officer of the government.” [2] For his position on each of these issues, but especially his speaking out against martial law, Stephens received much criticism in newspapers throughout the Southland. “Little Aleck” remained in Crawfordville, until early 1865, when hopes for a potential end of hostilities drew him back to Richmond.

Davis appointed Stephens, and fellow Georgian John A. Campbell, along with Virginian R.M.T. Hunter to meet with President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward. After four hours of discussion onboard the River Queen, with Lincoln holding steadfast to his demand for the seceded states to peacefully resume their place within the Union, the failed Hampton Roads Peace Conference ended. The fighting would continue

Notebook and reading glasses on Stephens’s desk.

Notebook and reading glasses on Stephens’s desk.

without Stephens, who returned to Crawfordville. On May 11, 1865, Federal officers took him into custody, and he spent five months incarcerated in Boston’s Fort Warren prison. After receiving parole, Stephens once again returned to Crawfordville, where he spent the next few years penning his two-volume discourse A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States, which appeared in print, volume one in 1868, and the second in 1870. He served several terms as a U.S. Representative from Georgia before his election as governor in the fall of 1882; he would hold this position but four months.

Stephens died on March 4, 1883, and after an initial interment in Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery, he came home to Crawfordville one final time where he rests today, amid the scenic grounds of the Alexander H. Stephens Historic Park. Tourists can visit his home, as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources currently manages the site.


[1] Stephens to Unknown Recipient, August 29, 1863, in Alexander H. Stephens, in Public and Private. With Letters and Speeches, Before, During, and Since the War, ed. Henry Cleveland (1866; repr., n.p.: IGCtesting, 2013), 173.

[2] Stephens to Honorable James Calhoun, Mayor of Atlanta, September 8, 1862, Ibid., 747-48.

All photographs taken at the A. H. Stephens State Historic Park in Crawfordville, Georgia, courtesy of the author.

shafferMichael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center , a Civil War historian, newspaper columnist, and author of ‘Washington County, Virginia in the Civil War.’ He is a member of the Society of Civil War Historians, Historians of the Civil War Western Theater, Georgia Association of Historians, and the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta. Michael also serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and Center Combined Logo-page-001as a Civil War consultant for the Friends of Camp McDonald.

Civil War Wednesday: Ringgold Gap

Alfred Waud sketch of Ringgold Gap, Courtesy Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-14334

Alfred Waud sketch of Ringgold Gap, Courtesy Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-14334

The Battle of Chattanooga played out on November 25, 1863 as Federal troops continued to scale the heights of Missionary Ridge, forcing the Confederates holding the high ground to break – a rout ensued! However, one Confederate officer and his men continued to hold firm – Major General Patrick Cleburne. General Joe Johnston, who worried over his ability to withdraw the Army of Tennessee away from the untenable position, and maneuver into northwest Georgia, would once again depend upon Cleburne, or as many people had started calling this officer – the “Stonewall of the West.” Cleburne did not disappoint; he seldom did when rallying his brave Arkansans, Alabamians, Tennesseans, and Texans!

Major General Patrick Cleburne, Courtesy Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-107446

Major General Patrick Cleburne, Courtesy Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-107446

One often reads in the annals of military history of units engaging in a rearguard action. Ringgold Gap, or as most soldiers referred to the high ground flanking the Western and Atlantic Rail Road and Chickamauga Creek passage – Taylor’s Ridge – exemplified the best of protecting an army on the fly, ensuring their ability to gain safe haven in order to refit and regroup. Cleburne’s quick reconnaissance of the terrain, and expert deployment of his brigades, enabled the outnumbered (one gray division against three in blue) Confederate troops to hold-off the advancing force of Major General Joe Hooker. Hooker acted quickly, perhaps too hurriedly, as he threw each arriving brigade into the attack in piecemeal fashion instead of waiting for a massing of his force, and his artillery. He believed he faced a Confederate army on the run, opening a path for him to move in for the knockout. Hooker’s hunch proved as false as his punch!

Each Federal advance met with a repulse, as Cleburne’s Brigadier Generals Polk, Lowrey, Granbury, and Govan masterfully maneuvered their troops into position to thwart the approaching Federals. When ammunition ran low, the Southerners threw rocks down upon the men attempting to scale the ridge. Hooker’s guns finally arrived around noon, and the resultant shelling made life along the ridge a little hotter for Cleburne. Soon, he began withdrawing his brigades; a move made in confidence after he received a dispatch notifying him of the Army of Tennessee’s safe departure from the area. Cleburne’s actions did not escape notice, as the Confederate Congress issued a Joint Resolution of thanks “…for distinguished service at Ringgold Gap.”[1] Southern newspapers also praised the rising star of the west; The Confederate Union recounted the affair in their December 8, 1863 edition, proudly proclaiming, “The whole command behaved well, and especially that model solder, Maj. Gen. Cleburne, a true son of Emerald Isle, and his heroic division.”

Federal artillery at Ringgold Gap, Courtesy National Archives

Federal artillery at Ringgold Gap, Courtesy National Archives

Private Sam Watkins with the 1st Tennessee Infantry described what he witnessed on the slopes of Taylor’s Ridge. “The scene looked unlike any battlefield I ever saw. From the foot to the top of the hill was covered with their slain, all lying on their faces. It had the appearance of the roof of a house shingled with dead Yankees.”[2] Many in the North criticized Hooker for failing to await the arrival of his artillery. A December 11, 1863 account from an Ohio newspaper, The Jeffersonian Democrat, typified the response to Hooker’s actions. “It was important to dislodge them, but madness to attempt to do it without the assistance of artillery to cover the assault.”

The fighting along Taylor’s Ridge lasted four hours, with each side suffering over 400 casualties, yet Cleburne performed his assigned task, and afforded Johnston the opportunity to move his army into winter quarters in Dalton.


[1] U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, vol. 31, pt. 2 (1890; repr., Harrisburg, PA: National Historical Society, 1985), 758.

[2] Sam Watkins, COMPANY AYTCH or a SIDE SHOW of the BIG SHOW: A CLASSIC MEMOIR of the CIVIL WAR, ed. M. Thomas Inge (New York City: Plume, 1999), 99.

Andersonville Trip 2013 068Michael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center , a Civil War historian, newspaper columnist, and author of ‘Washington County, Virginia in the Civil War.’ He is a member of the Society of Civil War Historians, Historians of the Civil War Western Theater, Georgia Association of Historians, and the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta. Michael also serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and as a Civil War consultant for the Friends of Camp McDonald.

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Civil War Wednesday: Camp McDonald

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1917 Version of wartime map of Camp McDonald

On May 29, 1861, President Jefferson Davis issued a call to Georgia Governor Joe Brown, “Troops, armed and equipped, ammunition included, are much needed. Please urge forward with all practicable dispatch.”[1] The governor wasted no time in establishing Camp Brown, located near Smyrna, and calling General William Phillips to command the soldiers assembling there. A few days after receiving the request from Davis, Brown replied, “I have General Phillips Brigade in camp of instruction.”[2] The volunteers trained at this installation until moving to Camp McDonald; the new, 60-acre facility opened on June 11, 1861. Phillips, founder of the famed Phillips Legion, named the camp in honor of his former law mentor and governor of Georgia Charles J. McDonald.

General William Phillips, (Photo Credit: Civil War Times Illustrated).

General William Phillips, (Photo Credit: Civil War Times Illustrated).

The soldiers struggled with their newfound discipline, exposure to disease and the rigors of camp life. One private described conditions in a letter to his wife, “I am enjoying health…we have plenty of beef and flour…but some of the boys says it’s mule beef but it goes by the name of old buck.”[3] Governor Brown received $20,000 from the Georgia Railroad and Bank Company to provide subsistence for the men in training, and they evidently enjoyed abundant supplies, as one volunteer later recalled, “We wasted enough at Big Shanty in one week to have lasted us very well two weeks the latter part of the war.”[4]

Forty cadets from Marietta’s Georgia Military Institute, under the direction of Major Francis W. Capers, assisted in training the volunteers, and as June 1861 ended, Brown could proudly exclaim to Confederate Secretary of War Leroy Pope Walker, “I have a fine brigade of state troops now in camp at this place. It is a fine body of men, consisting of two regiments…also a battalion of cavalry…well armed and on good horses.”[5] The Southern Confederacy reported on the front page of their July 2, 1861, edition, “A few hours spent at the encampment is very well ‘put in,’ and we advise every citizen, who can spare the time, to lay over one train at Big Shanty and see the soldiers. Though one may not get much idea of war, yet he will see something of the preparation and the machinery by which it is perpetrated.”

Wartime photo of Camp McDonald, (Photo Credit: Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center).

Wartime photo of Camp McDonald, (Photo Credit: Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center).

Phillips and the other officers scheduled a “Grand Review” for July 31, 1861. Governor Brown and citizens from across northwest Georgia attended, producing the largest mass of people gathering in Kennesaw until the return of the General during the 1960s centennial! A soldier participating in the parade later recalled the spectacle, “Gov. Brown made a most fiery and eloquent speech, as only a man who is not about to be shot at can make.”[6] One of the GMI Cadets considered the review repayment “…for their diligent instruction, for it furnished an object lesson in the evolution of troops in line of battle, which could not then be seen elsewhere and whetted a desire for the actual encounter of the field, for which they had earnestly longed. ‘Hope long deferred,’ was at last gratified.”[7]

The initial group of soldiers occupying Camp McDonald departed for Virginia in mid-1861; future requests for additional regiments produced a beehive of activity around the camp again in 1862 and 1863. A volunteer from one of the responding companies, the “Jackson Farmers,” described the conditions in a letter for the June 2-3, 1862, edition of the Southern Watchman. “The name of camp McDonald, familiarly known as ‘Big Shanty,’ has been generally a terror to ‘our boys,’ and upon our arrival here, we were agreeably disappointed by finding it a fair, open country; the camps being situated upon elevated eminences, where the pure air of heaven can reach from all quarters. Water is good and plentiful, and with a proper degree of cleanliness, I can see no reason why this should not be as healthy as any location in Georgia.” A vigorous camp produced brave fighters, a fact Governor Brown proclaimed in a message to the state legislature. “They were a noble, patriotic, chivalrous band of Georgians, and I hazard nothing in saying, military men being the judges, that no brigade in the Confederate service was composed of better material, or was better trained at that time for active service in the field.”[8] During the course of Camp McDonald’s existence, an estimated 13,000 to 16,000 soldiers learned the art of war in Big Shanty.

Today, the Friends of Camp McDonald work to preserve, protect and interpret this ground. Visit their website, www.campmcdonaldpark.org, to learn how you can help.


[1] The Confederate Records of the State of Georgia, comp. Allen D. Candler (Atlanta, Ga.: C.P. Byrd, State Printer, 1910), 2:90.

[2] Ibid., 96.

[3] Erwin E. Addy, Erwin Addy to Wife and Children, March 28, 1862, MS 1510, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah.

[4] Hugh W. Barclay, Reminiscences of Hugh W. Barclay, http://196thovi.tripod.com/23rdgeorgiainfantry/id34.html (accessed May 14, 2013).

[5] The Confederate Records of the State of Georgia, 101.

[6] James Lile Lemon, Feed Them the Steel: Being, the Wartime Recollections of Capt. James Lile Lemon, Co. A, 18th Georgia Infantry, CSA (Acworth, GA: Mark H. Lemon, 2013), 15.

[7] Gary Livingston, Cradled in Glory: Georgia Military Institute, 1851-1865 (Cooperstown, N.Y.: Caisson Press, 1997), 52.

[8] Georgia: Confederate Military History: A Library of Confederate States History, ed. Clement A. Evans (Secaucus, NJ: Blue & Gray Press, 1960), 53-54.

Andersonville Trip 2013 068Michael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center , a Civil War historian, newspaper columnist, and author of ‘Washington County, Virginia in the Civil War.’ He is a member of the Society of Civil War Historians, Historians of the Civil War Western Theater, Georgia Association of Historians, and the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta. Michael also serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and as a Civil War consultant for the Friends of Camp McDonald.

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