The War Between the States, from A to Z

The War Between the States, from A to Z

A: Alexander, Edward Porter, multi-talented, took charge of the Signal Corp and the Balloon Corp (Communication, Intelligence), Chief of Ordnance and Chief of Artillery. His work included blasting Burnside's men in Marye's Height, hitting Hooker's men in Hazel Grove, cannonading at Meade's line in Gettysburg, bombarding Grant's men in Cold Harbor to Thy Kingdom Come and defending the Confederate trenches in Petersburg.

B: Beauregard, Pierre Gustave Tanton, became a Confederate hero by bombing Ft. Sumter with his Ring of Fire. He won First Manassas but lost Shiloh. His quarrel with Davis deprived him high command. However, he did well in defending Charleston and he stopped Ben Butler and the army of the James at Bermuda Hundred. He held Petersburg with only a few thousand men against Baldy Smith and Hancock's formidable army, just long enough for the arrival of Lee's reinforcement.

C: Chancellersville, the battle of, was the most remarkable victory that Lee and Jackson had achieved, 1 against 2. It was the zenith of the Confederacy. Lee took the greatest risk in dividing his small army and ordered a rapid march, flanking the surprised Union army, and beating the dazed Hooker.

D: Davis, Jefferson, did not seek and did not run for the office of the President of the Confederate States. Yet he was unanimously elected. The Southern people had spoken and he bowed to their wishes. His original choice of service was serving as a General, leading an army.

E: Ewell, Richard, almost captured Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania. Opposing him was Darius Couch and his militia. Ewell should have no problem in achieving this goal, but for Lee's order, asking him to turned back immediately to Gettysburg. He obeyed the order and thus, he was deprived from this achievement.

F: Forrest, Nathan Bedford, was the most feared cavalry commander. He won all his battles with long odds when he was the ultimate commander, up to December 1864. Union regiments surrendered to him in drove. His men had complete trust in his leadership. He is the most capable commander of the Confederacy. The idea of the successful blitzkrieg strategy in WW II originated from Forrest whom the German studied.

G: Gettysburg campaign is the greatest 3 days battle of America. Heroes and legends on both sides were instantly made. The names Meade and Lee, plus others, are forever written in the annals of History.

H: Hood, John Bell, was a very capable Divisional commander and fighter, but unfortunately, he got promoted to higher position beyond his ability. As the Commander of the army of Tennessee, Hood indeed fought hard as Davis wanted him to do, but he wrecked his own army in the process, in Franklin and Nashville.

I: Ironclad ram, CSS Virginia was iron-plated and re-named on the raised USS Merrimack. She sank USS Cumberland and burned USS Congress. She met the Union ironclad USS Monitor the next day and fought to a draw for five hours. From that day, all battleships made of wood became obsolete.

J: Johnston, Joseph E. was the great retreater who used Fabian strategy. If the Confederate government adopted his strategy as national policy, they might get their independence. As long as the Confederacy had an army, it had a country. By prolonging the existence of the army, by fighting a protracted war, they prolonged the existence of the Confederacy. All they had to do was to make the Union people sick and tired of the war, and voted Lincoln out of office. The Confederate High Command took a different strategy, thus, depleting their resources.

K: Kershaw, Joseph, participated in every major battles: Ft. Sumter, First Manassas, Seven Days battles, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. He followed Longstreet to Chickamauga and Knoxville and back to Wilderness and Spotsylvania. He joined Early in Shenandoah Valley and Cedar Creek. He defended Petersburg, and was captured in Sayler's Creek and was imprisoned in Ft. Warren, an island off Boston habor.

L: Longstreet, James, was quite unlucky in his military career. He remained as a lieutenant of Lee for the duration of the war, while two of his underlings; Kirby-Smith and Hood were appointed Commanders of the Trans-Mississippi territory and the Army of the Tennessee respectively. After the war, he became a scapegoat of Lee's defeat at Gettysburg and a scorn of his former fighting buddies.

M: Manassas, First: Beauregard and Johnston beat McDowell's army by launching a counter-attack, with the help of Stonewall Jackson and with the accurate intelligence provided by secret agent Rose O'Neal Greenhow. On the Second Manassas, Lee sent Jackson as a decoy to lure Pope to the open, and then sent Longstreet to mow down Pope's flank in a surprised attack, achieving another victory.

N: New Market, the battle of: Gen. Breckinridge called out local reserve force including 250 members of the Corps of young Cadets of the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington to join his 6,700 men to fight and defeat Franz Sigel's Union force of 9,000. This was one of the simultaneous four major attacks launched by Grant. The other 3 forces were the armies led by Meade, Butler and Sherman, facing Lee, Beauregard and Johnston.

O: Orphan Brigade referred to the First Kentucky Brigade. At the battle of Murfreesboro, the brigade was part of the Confederate force that assaulted the Federal left, and unfortunately, the brigade suffered one quarter of casualties. The Division commander Gen. Breckinridge, who was born in Kentucky, wept and cried, "My poor Orphans! My poor Orphan Brigade!" He was referring to the fact that Kentucky never left the Union, leaving the brigade's Confederate soldiers cut off from moral support and material supply from home. From this incident onward, the nickname got stuck to the brigade.

P: Petersburg, the defense of: This was the prelude of WW I. The army of the Northern Virginia had less men and less guns. So Lee ordered his men to fight the trench warfare, against a more numerous opponents. Lee foresaw Grant's troop movement in the Overland Campaign and "greeted" him step by step, strike by strike. Lee held Petersburg for about 9 months. He no longer could hold it anymore when he had no reinforcement and received little supplies.

Q: Quantrill, William Clark, was a (ruthless to the North, but effective to the South) guerrilla who caused havoc in Missouri. The Federal began to imprison suspected guerrilla sympathizers. In Kansas, a prison building collapsed, killing 5 female kin of Quantrill's followers. Quantrill's band retaliated and sacked Lawrence, Kansas; looting, burning and killing about 150 unarmed men and boys. Later, Quantrill was hunted down, shot and wounded, and was left to die in the Federal prison without medical attention.

R: Red River, the defense of: Yale educated Richard Taylor was one of the most capable Generals of the South. He knew the strategies of Caesar and Napoleon. With only a small number of troops, he stopped Banks' vast army and beat him at Pleasant Hill, and drove the Federal Army and Navy back. Union Porter's fleet barely escaped from being captured and only saved by Bailey's series of dams to raise the river's water level.

S: Semmes, Raphael, was an exceptional Navy Rear Admiral who, with so little, accomplished so much. Commanding CSS Sumter and CSS Alabama, he burned 64 US registered merchant ships, bonded 13 vessels, and sank a new US Navy ironclad side-wheeler, USS Hatteras. In Cherbourg, France, Alabama met USS Kearsarge, commanded by his ex-room-mate, Capt. John Winslow. His "black smoke" gunpowder was no match with the power of Winslow's "white smoke" gunpowder. Kearsarge was well protected by the "chain-covered" sides and got no damage from Semmes' fire. Alabama sank but it was not Semmes' fault. Semmes swam to safety and he had done his duty. Davis appointed him Brig. General.

T: Tompkins, Sally, got her signed captain and nurse commission from Davis. Starting from July 1861, she began nursing the seriously wounded in her hospital in Richmond, using her family's money to finance the work, and worked all through the war until June 1865. About 1,330 patients were treated in her hospital and most of them recovered. Only 73 died. She was highly respected. Affectionately called "Captain Sally", her name was honored by four chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

U: Uniform: There were no regulations on uniform, and most privates followed their captains and companies' choice, resulting a varieties of color and patterns. It was especially the case in the first Manassas. Later on, gray clothing was adapted for the Confederate army. Close to the end of the war, soldiers just wore any home-span clothing of any color since Government uniform supplies were scarce.

V: Vicksburg, the defense of: Gen. Pemberton had two bosses. His military supervisor Joe Johnston urged him to save the army and abandoned Vicksburg. His President, Davis, wanted him to save Vicksburg at all cost. So he did the worse; he did a little bit of both. He held Vicksburg but also sent some troops to fight Grant. His piece-meal approach doomed his failure, and the Union troops defeated his dispersed troops. This is the fault of the Confederate dual-command system, each having different approach, and one conflicting with the other.

W: Walker, Leroy, was the first Secretary of War in Davis's Cabinet. When he found out he had no real authority, he resigned. He made two famous erroneous predictions. First, he predicted that there would be no war and no bloodshed. "I could wipe all the blood with my handkerchief." Walker said. He would need awful lots of handkerchiefs. Secondly, he predicted in a few months after Ft. Sumter, the Confederate flag would wave over the capitol at Washington. Of course, this never happened.

X: X-flag: The first Confederate national flag "Star and Bars" looked too much alike the Federal "Stars and Stripes" flag in the battlefield from afar and that caused lots of confusion. Gen. Beauregard lobbied South Carolina Congressman William Porcher Miles for an alternative flag. Miles chose the "Southern Cross" (X-flag), a red flag that featured a blue St. Andrew's cross lined with white stars as the Confederate flag.

Y: Yancy, William Lowndes, was the most fiery and eloquent orator for Southern independence. He lost his bid to be elected when the delegates wanted a more moderate leader, with military and executive experience, to be President of Dixie. He was the architect to split the Democratic Party, dumping nominee Stephen Douglas, and pushed Southern Democratic nominee John C. Breckinridge, and that ensured Lincoln got elected as President. Thus, the southern outrage would trigger Secession, fulfilling his ultimate goal of Secession.

Z: Zebulon Vance, served as Governor of North Carolina, and before that, he served in the Confederate army. He was a firm advocate of slavery, but he strongly defended the Union during the secession crisis. He put the interest of his State ahead of the interest of the Confederacy, and very often quarreled with Davis. He supported N.C. Supreme Court Justice Pearson who ruled that the state militia could not enforce conscription. He complained that N.C. officers did not get promoted as fast as those officers from other States. He supported the Confederacy in his own way, in his own term. State Right still prevailed.

(Sources: from many books and on my general knowledge on the War Bewteen the States.)

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Author and Webmaster, Gordon Kwok

First posted on March 2, 2001
Uploaded on current server: March 19, 2009