Tag Archives: Virginia

June 3, 1864

Three days of indecisive movements by Union forces… allowed Robert E. Lee’s army to strengthen its positions near Bethesda Church and New Cold Harbor.  The delay muted the Federal assaults of June 1-2.   The troops in blue knew exactly what awaited them the following day.  The carnage of Grant’s Overland campaign had taken its toll.

1837-1864

1837-1864

Jefferson Truitt was one of the Union soldiers… who knew exactly what was going to happen on June 3rd.  The all-to-familiar pattern could again be seen; Confederates controlled the thoroughfares to Richmond, and Union troops would try bludgeon them open.  War-weary troops began pinning names to their uniform coats for easier identification; many penned one final diary entry- “Killed at Cold Harbor.”   Jefferson Truitt, and his regiment, the 62nd PA. were due to leave the service on July 1.  He had survived the bloodiest conflicts of the war: Malvern Hill, Antietam, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania…  now, with just weeks to serve, he would meet his end near the intersection of Old Church and Walnut Grove roads.

Last full measure

Last full measure

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Tale of Two Digs

The recent announcement by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation of the restoration of Sally Hemings’ “room”… was based on the opinions of several historians and archaeology supposedly completed through a $35 million grant.  The Foundation promises that the newly renovated room will show “Visitors will come up here and understand that there was no place on this mountaintop that slavery wasn’t”    —  A recent visit to Monticello revealed a gutted room and some renovation, but little evidence of actual archaeology.  ** see image below

Hardly scientific

The historical record provides no evidence of this room being used by any person, let alone, Sally Hemings…. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation continues to rely on speculation and a disingenuous brand of conjecture disguised as authoritative narrative.  If major archaeological discoveries were made, why weren’t they included in the media release?  The alleged affair between Jefferson and Hemings is good for business; it sells tickets, books, and research proposals to impressionable philanthropists and  unwitting spectators.  It diminishes the impact of  the Founder who gave this country its creed.

 

Archaeological science

30 miles to the Northeast at James Madison’s Montpelier…  archaeologists are meticulously plotting search grids and unearthing artifacts.  Since 1999, archaeology has been a centerpiece of understanding Madison’s life at Montpelier.  The excavations are providing insight into the original layout and functionality of the plantation, as well as the daily existence of Madison’s slaves.  The historians and archaeologists are working with the historical and archaeological records to provide visitors a more complete picture of daily life at Montpelier.  Research done at Madison’s home is academically and professionally sound.  There is no predetermined narrative  being propagated for the sake of political correctness or financial gain.

 

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Facts in Five

Mr. FJ Hooker edition…

"People will think I am a highwayman or a bandit."

“People will think I am a highwayman or a bandit.”

  • “Fighting Joe” was a nickname Hooker despised-  Lee often referred to him as Mr. F J Hooker in correspondence
  • Hooker’s delayed entry into the war was largely caused by his testimony against General-in-Chief, Winfield Scott, at a prewar court marshal proceeding. 
  • Before the War, Hooker unsuccessfully tried his hand at politics- losing a California assembly election 
  • Hooker was a member of the West Point class of 1837- classmates included Jubal Early and Braxton Bragg
  • Despite his reputation, there is little evidence that Hooker abused alcohol during his military service. 

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Chancellorsville by the Numbers

Chancellorsville is often called Lee’s “perfect battle”… facing the longest odds, using the boldest tactics, and winning the ultimate triumph- but a closer examination of the battle’s casualty statistics reveal a very different picture.  Far from perfect, Lee’s victory over Hooker was a costly, bloody gamble with marginal payoff.

Myth becomes fact all too often

Myth becomes fact all too often

Twice dividing his outnumbered force before a superior foe… and executing a bold flanking maneuver clouds the true cost of the battle.  Hooker’s inaction is far more striking than Lee’s tactical decisions.  By surrendering the initiative to Lee, Hooker allowed his opponent tactical discretion, thus making the flank attack possible.  Union reinforcements nullified Confederate gains on May 2.  Hooker’s refusal to counterattack with those additional troops only accentuated the modest Confederate gains.

Keep fighting Joe!

Keep fighting Joe!

Lee went into battle with just under 60,000 effectives… and suffered nearly 13,000 casualties- of which, over 10,000 were wounded or killed.  Almost a quarter of his men were gone at a time when the Confederacy was increasingly unable to replace such loss.  Comparatively, Hooker entered the battle with well over 130,000 troops, and suffered over 17,000 casualties.  But, of this number, nearly 6,000 were captured(11th Corps victims of Jackson’s attack.)  Factoring the captured, Hooker’s loss was a much smaller figure of just over 11,000.  The statistics show that Lee’s army actually took the worst of the fighting- His action, and Hooker’s inaction have permanently altered the history of the battle.  Far from the great army “cut to pieces” as remembered by Horace Greeley, Hooker’s men fought well and proved their mettle in battle.

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On Friendship

Friendship was not just a social convention to Jefferson… but he considered it essential to the human condition- a bedrock of civil society.  Acquaintances come and go, but true friends grow, mature, and age with you.  Jefferson realized that later in life, friendships would be therapeutic.

Oh really.....do tell.

Oh really…..do tell.

 

“I find friendship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the true old man’s milk and restorative cordial.”

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Jefferson in Love….Sort of…

Jefferson struggled with his love for Maria Cosway…. going as far as to illustrate his emotional agony to her in a letter- the letter detailed the tug-of-war between Jefferson’s head and his aching heart.  Jefferson was perfectly content to remain within his head, buried in his books and letters.  But, as seen in the previous post, Jefferson was a man who cared and loved deeply.  Maria Cosway was a special woman, he knew he would never find another like her:

Dear Friend

Head: In fine, my friend, you must mend your manners. This is not a world to live at random in as you do. To avoid these eternal distresses, to which you are for ever exposing us, you must learn to look forward before you take a step which may interest our peace. Everything in this world is matter of calculation. Advance then with caution, the balance in your hand. Put into one scale the pleasures which any object may offer; but put fairly into the other the pains which are to follow, and see which preponderates…The most effectual means of being secure against pain is to retire within ourselves, and to suffice for our own happiness. Those, which depend on ourselves, are the only pleasures a wise man will count on: for nothing is ours which another may deprive us of. Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures. 

Heart: This world abounds indeed with misery: to lighten it’s burthen we must divide it with one another. But let us now try the virtues of your mathematical balance, and as you have put into one scale the burthens of friendship, let me put it’s comforts into the other….In a life where we are perpetually exposed to want and accident, yours is a wonderful proposition, to insulate ourselves, to retire from all aid, and to wrap ourselves in the mantle of self-sufficiency! For assuredly nobody will care for him who cares for nobody.

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On Loss

The grieving optimist- Jefferson lost nearly everyone dear to him…. so he could relate grief to his dear friend, John Adams upon hearing of the death of Abigail.  Relating grief is not the same as understanding it, however…..

 

“Tried myself in the school of affliction, by the loss of every form of connection which can rive the human heart, I know well, and feel what you have lost, what you have suffered, are suffering, and have yet to endure. The same trials have taught me that for ills so immeasurable, time and silence are the only medi­cine….although mingling sincerely my tears with yours, will I say a word more where words are vain, but that it is of some comfort to us both, that the term is not very distant, at which we are to deposit in the same cerement, our sorrows and suffering bodies, and to ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved and lost, and whom we shall still love and never lose again.”

 

” I have often wondered for what good end the sensations of Grief could be intended.”

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