I Married a Soldier: Or, Old Days in The Old Army With Photographs From The American Civil War
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The military, however, denied his request. York reluctantly entered the U. Army on Nov. His disciplined living and superior shooting ability saw him promoted. Such disapproval ended forever due to his Oct. As York witnessed the death and wounding of several in his unit, he saw that he must fight and kill in order to prevent further bloodshed among his fellow American soldiers. Having crossed this moral dilemma, plenty of physical obstacles remained, such as charging up a hill against machine gun fire.
At one point, York was facing 19 German soldiers some sources say 18 by himself. Unfazed, the crack marksman killed them all. A second wave of German soldiers desperately charged him with bayonets. York shot them down. At this point, a German lieutenant — deeply affected by the agony and pleading of a fellow officer — blew a whistle and ordered the remaining soldiers in his battalion to surrender, as related by Douglas V.
We make our way around the lakeshore, passing beaver-gnawed tree stumps and snaky-looking thickets. Reaching higher ground, Gavin points across the swamp to various local landmarks. Then he plants his staff on the ground and turns to face me directly. Knight also fathered nine children with his white wife, Serena, and the two families lived in different houses on the same acre farm.
After he and Serena separated—they never divorced—Newt Knight caused a scandal that still reverberates by entering a common-law marriage with Rachel and proudly claiming their mixed-race children. The Knight Negroes, as these children were known, were shunned by whites and blacks alike. An interracial community began to form near the small town of Soso, and continued to marry within itself.
I came to Jones County having read some good books about its history, and knowing very little about its present-day reality. It was reputed to be fiercely racist and conservative, even by Mississippi standards, and it had been a hotbed for the Ku Klux Klan.
But Mississippi is nothing if not layered and contradictory, and this small, rural county has also produced some wonderful creative and artistic talents, including Parker Posey, the indie-film queen, the novelist Jonathan Odell, the pop singer and gay astronaut Lance Bass, and Mark Landis, the schizophrenic art forger and prankster, who donated fraudulent masterpieces to major American art museums for nearly 30 years before he was caught.
This story is a selection from the March issue of Smithsonian magazine. Driving toward the Jones County line, I passed a sign to Hot Coffee—a town, not a beverage—and drove on through rolling cattle pastures and short, new-growth pine trees. There were isolated farmhouses and prim little country churches, and occasional dilapidated trailers with dismembered automobiles in the front yard. This part of Mississippi was dubbed the Piney Woods, known for its poverty and lack of prospects. The big trees were an ordeal to clear, the sandy soil was ill-suited for growing cotton, and the bottomlands were choked with swamps and thickets.
This, more than anything, explains its widespread disloyalty to the Confederacy, but there was also a surly, clannish independent spirit, and in Newt Knight, an extraordinarily steadfast and skillful leader.
Sherman’s Early Years
I drove past many small chicken farms, a large modern factory making transformers and computers, and innumerable Baptist churches. Laurel, the biggest town, stands apart. The old county seat, and ground zero for the Free State of Jones, is Ellisville, now a pleasant, leafy town of 4, people. Downtown has some old brick buildings with wrought-iron balconies. The grand old columned courthouse has a Confederate monument next to it, and no mention of the anti-Confederate rebellion that took place here. Modern Ellisville is dominated by the sprawling campus of Jones County Junior College, where a semiretired history professor named Wyatt Moulds was waiting for me in the entrance hall.
A large, friendly, charismatic man with unruly side-parted hair, he was wearing alligator-skin cowboy boots and a fishing shirt. Even the liberals carry handguns.
Civil War Records: Basic Research Sources | National Archives
He described Jones County as the most conservative place in Mississippi, but he noted that race relations were improving and that you could see it clearly in the changing attitudes toward Newt Knight. Some of the young guys are really identifying with Newt now, as a symbol of Jones County pride. He was a nightmarish opponent in a backwoods wrestling match, and one of the great unsung guerrilla fighters in American history. So many men tried so hard to kill him that perhaps his most remarkable achievement was to reach old age.
Those views were not unusual in Jones County. Grant and William T. When secession fever swept across the South in , Jones County was largely immune to it.
Powell, received When Powell got to the secession convention in Jackson, however, he lost his nerve and voted to secede along with almost everyone else. Powell stayed away from Jones County for a while after that, and he was burned in effigy in Ellisville. Although he was against secession, Knight voluntarily enlisted in the Confederate Army once the war began.
We can only speculate about his reasons. He kept no diary and gave only one interview near the end of his life, to a New Orleans journalist named Meigs Frost. But the leading scholar of the Knight-led rebellion, Victoria Bynum, author of The Free State of Jones , points out that Knight had enlisted, under no threat of conscription, a few months after the war began, in July She thinks he relished being a soldier. Victoria Bynum traces the origins and legacy of the Jones County uprising from the American Revolution to the modern civil rights movement.
In bridging the gap between the legendary and the real Free State of Jones, she shows how the legend reveals a great deal about the South's transition from slavery to segregation.
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Returning home, they found their wives struggling to keep up the farms and feed the children. A Confederate colonel named William N. In early , Knight was captured for desertion and possibly tortured. After Vicksburg fell, in July , there was a mass exodus of deserters from the Confederate Army, including many from Jones and the surrounding counties. The following month, Confederate Maj. Amos McLemore arrived in Ellisville and began hunting them down with soldiers and hounds.
By October, he had captured more than deserters, and exchanged threatening messages with Newt Knight, who was back on his ruined farm on the Jasper County border. Soon afterward, there was a mass meeting of deserters from four Piney Woods counties.
They organized themselves into a company called the Jones County Scouts and unanimously elected Knight as their captain. Joel E. Welborn, their former commanding officer in the Seventh Mississippi, later recalled. In March , Lt. Confederate Capt. Wirt Thompson reported that they were now a thousand strong and flying the U. That spring was the high-water mark of the rebellion against the Rebels. Polk ordered two battle-hardened regiments into southeast Mississippi, under the command of Piney Woods native Col.
Robert Lowry. With hanging ropes and packs of vicious, manhunting dogs, they subdued the surrounding counties and then moved into the Free State of Jones. They were deep in the swamps, being supplied with food and information by local sympathizers and slaves, most notably Rachel. After Lowry left, proclaiming victory, Knight and his men emerged from their hide-outs, and once again, began threatening Confederate officials and agents, burning bridges and destroying railroads to thwart the Rebel Army, and raiding food supplies intended for the troops.
Three months later, the Confederacy fell. In , the filmmaker Gary Ross was at Universal Studios, discussing possible projects, when a development executive gave him a brief, one-page treatment about Newton Knight and the Free State of Jones. Ross was instantly intrigued, both by the character and the revelation of Unionism in Mississippi, the most deeply Southern state of all. He repeatedly warned his Southern friends of the dangers they faced taking on the more prosperous, industrialized North, but to no avail. He resigned his position after Louisiana seceded in January For several months, he worked as the president of a St.
Louis streetcar company. After the Confederate States of America attacked Fort Sumter , Sherman worried that President Abraham Lincoln was not committing enough troops to bring the war to a swift end. But he overcame his doubts, and his brother John secured him a commission in the U. S Army. Sherman became colonel of the new 13th Infantry Regiment. The Union suffered a surprising defeat, but Sherman was praised for his actions, and Lincoln promoted him to brigadier general of volunteers.
Sherman succeeded General Robert Anderson, but suffered grave doubts about his lack of men and supplies, as well as his own abilities. Sherman called for , men, and was widely ridiculed in the press, some of which called him insane, an event that permanently soured Sherman on the media. In November , Sherman was relieved of his duties and returned home to Ohio, suffering from depression and a nervous breakdown.
He returned to service just weeks later, again assigned to the Western Theater. He supported Ulysses S. Grant at the successful Battle of Fort Donelson , Kentucky, and the two began to develop a close bond. Caught unprepared by the Confederate assault he had dismissed intelligence reports on the size and placement of enemy troops , he rallied his troops for an organized retreat that prevented a rout, allowing Union forces to secure victory the following day.
He was promoted to major general of volunteers. Grant was heavily criticized for the losses at Shiloh and considered resigning, but Sherman convinced him to stay. Sherman continued to serve with Grant in the West, culminating in the capture of the vital Confederate stronghold after the Siege of Vicksburg , Mississippi.
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When the city finally fell on July 4, , the Union gained control of the Mississippi River, a key turning point in the war. President Lincoln recognized the value of both men: Grant was put in charge of all troops in the West, and Sherman received an additional commission as brigadier general of the regular army. At the head of the Army of the Tennessee, Sherman was criticized for his performance at the Battle of Chattanooga , although the Union eventually prevailed.
He assumed control of all Western armies when Grant was transferred East to take command of all Union armies.
The American civil war didn't end. And Trump is a Confederate president
In May , Sherman set out for Atlanta, a center of Confederate industry. Johnston and John B. Hood was forced to abandon the city, and Sherman captured Atlanta in early September. By this time, Sherman was convinced that the Confederacy could only be brought to heel by the complete destruction of both its military and civilian ability to wage war. There is no use trying to reform it.
The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over. With the full support of both Lincoln and Grant, Sherman devised an unusual plan. In November , he departed Atlanta with 60, troops, bound for the coastal port of Savannah.