Thursday, 8 December 2011

J. S. Walker's Twenty-Sixth Letter

Camp DeSoto,
10th Sept., 1861

My very dear Wife:

                As an opportunity occurs of my writing by Lieut. Rady, who goes up this evening, I avail myself of it to advise that my health is very excellent, and tho not as comfortably fixed as at Kings Mill, yet sufficiently so. I miss my plank floor, as the dirt keeps everything about us dirty. We are here prepared and preparing to give old Gen. Wool a warm reception should he be disposed to come out of Old Point. There is still a good deal of sickness on the Peninsular, principally chills and fever, but I think the health is improving and hope frost will restore it entirely.
                We are anxiously looking for cheering news from the Potomac, while we know it must bring sadness to many, and our prayer is for success and the preserving care of the Lord to our troops against the invading foe, and I hope the prayers of all good people ascend continually for the Lord’s favour and smiles, and that while he chastises us by war he will purify, revive and conduct us to himself as a peculiar people.
                If you have anything to send down at this time, Lieut. Rady will come down in ten days and will take charge of it. You can write and direct Capt. Jno. S. Walker, 15th Regt. Va. Vols., Camp DeSoto, Yorktown, and I will get it.
                Kiss the dear children and remember me to all friends.

                                                Yours very affectionately,

                                                                Jno. S. Walker

Trying to get Back in Butternut

Hello butternut fans!
I’m sorry things have been a bit quiet around the blog lately. I’ve been busy moving house. The move itself went quite smoothly, although there have been lots of little problems with the house that have needed attention. After three weeks, it is just starting to feel like home.
However, there is one major problem I haven’t been able to fix. At the moment, I have no phone and no internet. The phone company botched their first attempt, and then said they couldn’t return for a month (thanks). They are due back on December 22 to try again. I must admit, the thing I want most for Christmas is a working phone and internet connection.  At the moment, I am using a pay-as-you-go internet dongle. It’s better than nothing, but only just. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
I’m hoping it will work well enough that I can get back on track with butternut blogging. In the next day or so, I’ll be posting the next letter from John Stewart Walker. It appears that he might have received the chance to go home to Richmond and see his family. His next letter is written over two weeks after the last and from a different camp, but he makes no reference to the move nor mentions coming home.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

J. S. Walker's Twenty-Fifth Letter

Kings Mill Landing
Camp Adams, 24 Aug. 1861.

My very dear Wife:

                I only write to advise that my health is excellent, that the cantelopes did not come yesterday but expect them today by the Steamer Schultz, which stops at our landing and is the best boat to send packages by. She comes down Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and things sent the previous evening will be received here.
                As soon as the paymaster comes along and pays off our regiment I expect to be ordered up for a few days to buy clothing for our company and regiment. You must not expect me too certainly, as this soldier life is made up of disappointments, etc. Dr. Parker and Allen Lyon are now in Richmond. I still hope I may be privileged to spend a few days with my family soon and hope ere long by the Almighty intercession for peace to be home permanently. An honourable peace is now my prayer and should be of all good citizens.
                Kiss the dear children for father and tell them to look out for father next week.

                                                Yours very affectionately,

                                                                Jno. S. Walker.

                Always love to all the family.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Battle of Franklin

In order to learn more about the Civil War experiences of granddaddy Col. James McCullough, I have been looking for a good book or two about the battle of Franklin.  A bit of internet searching seems to have everyone pointing to this monster: For Cause and For Country: A Study of the Affair at Spring Hill & the Battle of Franklin by Eric A. Jacobson. It’s received loads of good reviews, and many people refer to it as the work on the subject.  Now, even at nearly 500 pages, I don’t expect that it will have much, if anything, to say about the Colonel, but it sounds like a great chunky history.
Despite living in the UK, it isn’t hard to obtain American books. Amazon is perfectly happy to ship them over, and it usually only takes a couple of weeks. That said, it is a bit pricey.  So, should anyone (hint, family, hint) need to find the perfect Christmas present for me, I commend this book to your attention.
Otherwise, I will likely make it a present to myself in the new year.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

J. S. Walker's Twenty-Fourth Letter

Kings Mill Landing,
Camp Adams,
20th Augt., 1861

My very dear Wife:

                It has been some time since I had the opportunity of writing you either with ink or at any length, my want of opportunity and my military engagements having required that I should be brief and hasty. After a varied experience of now going on four months of active camp life, I am satisfied that the pursuit of war is neither profitable to the soul or body, that while the latter has to be crucified to the pleasures and comforts of this world that the former has to hunger for spiritual food, and yet the same experience would not allow me to retrace my steps or give up the present contest for the ease of home without the victory won. The cause outweighs all the trials, troubles, privations, and not only on our part justifies the war, but condemns all who are not for it.
                A kind Providence has thus far protected me in the danger of battle and even the more dangerous malaria of this country, for we have had to sleep in marshes without tents or covering but our blankets, drink the unwholesome water of the marshes and mill ponds, make forced marches under an August sun, eat ship biscuits and pickled pork, sleep at night under the dews of heaven, awake next morning wet with dew and stiff from the exposure of the night and the hardness of the ground, and again march without breakfast, sleep with our clothes and shoes on by our arms, within three miles of the enemy and ready for an attack, and yet I am now well, and any little headache of the bowels that I may have had has been less than I most probably would have had had I remained at home, and when I may be allowed to exchange the priming hook for the sword, I will certainly be better able to appreciate the blessings of peace and the happiness of home that those who have never been subjected to the same privations. I only regret that all our people may not probably have to take an active part in this contest. I think above all things else it would insure the stability of our government, for none but those who know the cost of liberty can appreciate it, and they who suffer the trails of war are alone in the proper appreciation of peace. Well, if the Lord spares my life and I live to a great old age, when the eye no longer reflects the light and I roll the soothing quid between the toothless gums “a la grandpa (unreadable)”, I will make happy the grandchildren by recounting the times of 1860, while I will go down to my grave with the proud consciousness of having discharged my duty to my country, and with the approbation of heaven I still hope and pray.
                With too weak a faith I fear that this war will soon be terminated, but sooner than see our principles for which we contend compromised I would have it continue to the end. I hope there is now a reaction going on at the North which will prove to our enemy that his great strength is his greatest danger, that the large population from which he would draw his immense army and the great wealth from which he would fill his treasury, will not respond to his cry for men and money, but that in the honesty of their hearts or dishonesty of their principles, they will arise and rebuke, aye pull him down. I look not to the recognition of England and France as a means of peace. I would prefer not to have them unless we had just proven by our strong arms and manly hearts that we were worthy of the prize for which we contend. I want no outside influence to be thrown in the scales to turn the balance in our favour. If we are not alone equal to the emergency, then let us sink into deserved slavery. Let not a peace be now patched up which like an unhealthily healed sore is in a short time to break out with greater violence than before and greater danger. I now contend to secure peace and happiness to my children, not to buy present peace to myself at the price of endless war to them, and tho the present may be to me unhappy the future may be bright and happy. Should the war be long and bloody, the greater security will there be of permanent peace to our children, but the Lord reigneth and He can bring the devices of evil men to naught. Let us act well our part, recognize Him and His chastisements as well as blessings, acknowledge Him in all things, and He will not leave or forsake us.
                I understand every article of necessity in the grocery and dry goods line is going up in value very much. Will it not be well for you to lay by such things as you require for yourself, servants and the children. I do not know what may be the end of this war, it may find me penniless, my wife a widow and my children fatherless, and while I am willing to leave it in the hands of Him who has always been protector and friend, yet I must discharge my duty to prevent such a casualty to them. To that end I again remind you of the necessity of great economy, and it may be lessons learned under peaceful circumstances may now prove of great value to you “make shift, turn and twist”, cut up old clothes for children, and save where you can and what you can, buying only when necessary, and whatever the consequences may be, you will be in a better condition than you otherwise would.
                If the truehearted men who compose the army should by the vicissitudes of war be called hence, I should fear to leave my wife and children to the sympathies of charities of the Knights of the Home Circle, who never took a full breath of the air of liberty since they came from their mother’s womb, but have always been the slaves of human selfishness and all the baser appetites and passions, and for whom I have the same contempt that a woman has for a eunuch. Of course, I do not censure all who stay at home. Far, very far, from it, but only those who stay to make money out of our troubles and act as watch for their own property. I believe my own brothers’ hearts are as much in as tho they themselves were, and that Providence has kept them out and not a want of disposition or inclination, and no doubt many more are similarly situated who can be relied upon in the hour of need. The place of usefulness for a great many is home.
                I have spread this letter out to three pages, with very little in it. It may be that I may be at home in a week, having today applied to Gen. Magruder for leave of absence to buy clothing for my company. He is in Yorktown and it may require several days to hear from him, and he may then refuse to let me go, for he is now my master, more rigid than ever I was to any of my slaves. If I get up, we can talk it all over, if not, this will have to suffice till I do.
                Kiss the dear children. Tell Dave father got his letter and has not forgotten him but when he gets time and in the right humor he will answer his letter. Best love to all friends, and if there are any who are afflicted with chronic dyspepsia tell them they will try the field for four months and if it does not cure them that I will agree to be prisoner to Gen. Butler at Fortress Monroe for the balance of the war.

                                                Yours very affectionately,

                                                                Jno. S. Walker

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Mosby Myth

Having finished reading The Mosby Myth, I thought I would quickly share a few thoughts about this unusual work of Civil War scholarship. 
The book is really divided into two halves. The first half is a short biography of John Singleton Mosby with an emphasis on his Civil War years and how the newspapers portrayed him during the war. The second half of the book is an analysis of all the Mosby ‘stuff’ that has appeared since the war.  Most of this space is dominated by the novels that have included Mosby and the short-running television series, ‘The Gray Ghost’, although it also covers items such as paintings, board games, and even a wine label.
The book is well written, and it is only in the few places where the authors stopped to discuss literary and mythic theories that I felt my interest lagging. Many years of English academia have fulfilled my quota of literary criticism.
The real question, perhaps, is who exactly is the target audience for this book? If you are after a biography of Mosby or a history of his wartime activities, there are probably better books out there. If you are interested in Mosby novels or movies, you are probably better trying to find them on ebay.  However, if you’ve already read a few Mosby books and are interested in the various media that has kept his legend alive over the last 150 years, then this book might just be for you.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

J. S. Walker's Twenty-Third Letter

Camp Adams,
King’s Mill Landing
15th August, 1861

My very dear Wife:

                I returned yesterday to this place after an absence of twelve days and a march of twenty miles yesterday between 12 and 6½ o’clock. I found your letter awaiting me advising a box by Mrs. Stewart which was also received last evening, with bread, crackers, melons, tomatoes, etc., all of which were very acceptable. I am afraid Dr. Daggett gave you rather a glowing account of our camp life. We have had a very hard time, no doubt about it, but I am thankful to say that in spite of scorching suns, drive rain, cold east winds, without shelter, and very coarse fare, I am now and have been very well and that the men cheerfully bear all as good soldiers, and our sick list tho large is not alarmingly so, considering the season of the year and the unhealthiness of the location. I wrote you a hasty note from Bethel on a scrap of paper, giving you an account of the camp life we were leading, which is not now necessary to repeat. Suffice it to say it was as hard as it could well be, and but for the excitement of a visit to Hampton and the expectation of having a regular pitched battle with the Yankees at Newport News or Hampton, I do not think we would have been able to stand the march.  We bullied them under the guns of Fortress Monroe and took a position in an open field where they could see our strength and they could have a fair fight (with the advantage of odds in their favour) and no masqued batteries to frighten them, and yet they kept in their stronghold, frightened to death as we afterwards learned. We have slept on the ground, in swamps, raining, with the meanest pond water to drink, pickles, pork and ship biscuit for fare, and yet got on first rate, and am truly thankful to find myself back in our comfortable tents at this place. It is now two months since I saw you all, and would be made happy if I could spend a few days with you. The ragged condition of my Company may require the General to give me leave to go up. If I cannot get up a few days or procure the clothes, shoes, hats, etc., for them by letter, which I shall try, we will have an entire new uniform, and as clothes are so very high I will have to look to the ladies to make it up for me, so I speak in time for Centenary and the other Methodist Church ladies to help me out, for we are now in rags. I shall write today to Jno C. Page to make me a pair of shoes and boots which I must have. When you are down there, see that he makes them.
                As regards Mrs. Bell’s daughter either boarding or living in my family. I am opposed to it. I have no idea of you being used to bring them into society, or being surrounded by beaux and such annoyances, so cut that off at once. I am glad you have the opportunity of being kind to Mrs. Ryan, and I have no doubt they appreciate it. Vulgarity from a fashionable standpoint is frequently (unreadable), which is preferable to refined deceit.
                Tell the children that I read their letters and was much pleased. Miss the little darlings for father.
                I shall write Bro. David today and get me a buffalo robe. I want to provide against the winter’s cold. If he gets it, put it up in tobacco and keep it for me till I need it.
                Remember me kindly to all friends who inquire.
                I think from the tone of the Northern press that they would like now to have peace, which I hope they will not have until they are humbled and it be a lasting peace. We can maintain our independence , whether England and France recognize it or not. I doubt whether the North can keep up her  arms in the field with all their boasted wealth and patriotic devotion to the Union. God grant to give us success to bring speedily to a termination this war, and illuminate the mind of our enemies and convert their hearts from error. May the Lord uphold and keep you and protect our little ones is my constant prayer.

                                                                                Yours very affectionately,

                                                                                                Jno. S. Walker

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Mosby Myth

"In retrospect, slavery seems such a monstorous thing that some are...trying to prove that slavery was not the cause of the war. Then what was the cause?"

                       -  John Singleton Mosby

I have just started reading The Mosby Myth: A Confederate Hero in Life and Legend by Paul Ashdown and Edward Caudill. My copy is part of the very handsome edition reprinted for The American Crisis Series published by SR Books.  I bought the book at Harper's Ferry over six years ago, but until last summer it remained lost in my parent's attic. Now seems like a perfectly good time to give it a go. 

I have always found John Singleton Mosby one of the most facinating characters of the Civil War. Dashing, daring, and with a harsh but strict code of honor, he always seemed a little closer to Robin Hood or one of the legendary Old West gunfighters than a Civil War officer.  Well, perhaps this book will help me decide if that image is true. While I have read at least one biography and many accounts of Mosby's activities during the war, this is the first (and almost certainly only) book that examines not only the true story of Mosby, but also places a large emphasis on the development of his legend through his portrayal in various media, most especially contemporary newspapers and his own post war writings.

It should be an interesting read.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Confederate Army of Oxford – An Update

When I began working on the Confederate Army of Oxford a year or two ago, I had a specific goal I was working towards. This has changed slightly over time, but basically it consisted of the following:
4 Brigades of Infantry (20 Figures Each)
1 Brigade of Cavalry (8 Figures)
3 Batteries of Artillery (1 gun and crew each)
5 Generals

Well, I’m very quickly closing in on my goal. In fact, here is what I have left to paint:

1 General
18 Infantry
1 Cannon plus Crew

Now even when I reach my goal, that doesn’t mean the army is finished. I don’t suppose it will ever be finished. I’m sure I will continue to add bits and pieces to it for years to come. In fact, I already know several units and individual figures that I would love to add to the army. However, once I reach my goal, I will be switching my main attention to the boys in blue. It’s all well and good having a miniature civil war army, but if they don’t have anyone to fight...

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

J. S. Walker's Twenty-First Letter

King’s Mill Landing,
Camp Adams,
2d August, 1861

My very dear Wife:

                I merely write to keep you advised that I am well. I received the bread and tomatoes, and they were very grateful to my palate. We are laying in our oars without any prospect of any immediate action, but a soldier does not know what a day may bring forth.
                Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of our dear little Amanda and while it recalls past sorrows, makes me thankful that she rests with the good away from the trying troubles of this present time. Oh, that we may be ready when called to meet her in the skies, to die ready we must live ready, and I pray God to help me to live right that I may die right.
                The crying evil of the camp is intemperance and I have put my face against it and have given our Colonel a talk, and as officer of the day having command of the camp in my report say: “The unashamed introduction of liquor into the camp and the increasing evil of drunkenness calls for the most stringent orders to prevent the one and arrest the other”, and I hope we will succeed in arresting it. Entre nous.
                As dry goods are running low and it may be difficult to get flannel shirts or drawers in the fall, had you better buy me one shirt and one pair of drawers of thick flannel and save them for the winter?
                Kiss the dear children and give Luly and Mary these little shells Papa picked up on the river side. Write often and long and let me know all that is going on.

                                                                Yours very affectionately,

                                                                                Jno. S. Walker.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Louisiana Boys

I have just finished up my first regiment of Louisiana troops.

Basically, I wanted an excuse to do a unit of guys wearing straw hats, and these Steve Barber miniatures fit the bill. I'm thinking two regiments of these guys are a must for the Confederate Army of Oxford. 

Monday, 5 September 2011

J. S. Walker's Twentieth Letter

Camp Adams
King’s Mill Landing
29th July, 1861

My very dear Wife:

                I write you by every favourable opportunity and as I have time, and if you do not hear from me regularly attribute it to my engagements and not to sickness, as I am now very well and hope I may continue so. One or two members of my company have had chills, and I fear if we are kept here that the whole company will have to pass through them, as it is a chill and fever country. I will not, however, take trouble or interest, as we may at any moment be ordered to another part of the State, as a soldier has nothing certain to rely upon in this life. Our Col. August has been on a big frolic for two weeks, too drunk to discharge his duties. I have found him tolerably sober a day or two ago and I have him an earnest, honest talk which he took kindly and I did hope and pray that I had done him good in soul if not in body, from his promises to amend, but as a hog returneth to her wallow so the drunkard returns to his cup, and I fear he is no better. I told him I had determined ever since I entered the service that I would not agree to be exposed or expose my company under a drunken commander and if he does not speedily reform more stringent measures will have to be adopted.
                I do not know how long it will be before I will see my family again, as the General has issued orders stopping all forloughs. I willingly commit them to the keeping of my kind Heavenly Father, knowing that his protection is better than any earthly father can afford. Give my love to all friends and loving kisses to our dear little ones, and continue constant in prayer that the lord may continue to smile upon our arms and bring soon peace to our land and a restoration of friends, and should it please Him to give us peace and return us to the quite of our homes, won’t we appreciate the blessings of quiet.

                                                                Yours very affectionately,
                                                                                Jno. S. Walker.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Back in Butternut

It’s been a few very quiet months here on the blog, for which I have two excuses. The first is softball, where I captained my Knights to a 2-11 record. The other is house hunting.

Oxford has recently been named the worst place in the United Kingdom to buy a house, based on average salary versus average house price. Thankfully, with the generous help of my father-in-law, we are just able to grab hold of the bottom rung of the property ladder. After several weeks of searching, my wife and I had an offer accepted on a house about 100 yards from where we presently live. Hopefully, if we can survive a couple of months of paperwork and lawyers, we’ll be able to move in!

The house is only slightly bigger than the one in which we presently live; however, this slight difference could mean a big difference for me. Assuming it all works out, I’m hoping to get the cupboard under the stairs as my wargaming domain, and (dream of dreams) a big miniatures display cabinet! We shall see. I’m trying not to get too excited about it at the moment.

For now, the Confederate Army of Oxford lives on a shelf in the kitchen. (Did I mention that my wife is a very understanding woman?). The wooden backdrop works well for them.

So, hopefully, in the coming weeks and months, you’ll start to see a greater frequency of posts again, except perhaps, when we finally make our move.

Monday, 18 July 2011

J. S. Walker's Nineteenth Letter

King’s Mill Warf,
Camp Adams,
22d July, 1861.

                I only propose dropping you a line to acknowledge the receipt of the bread and tomatoes and to say that I am well and that I received by Allen Lyon the two books, which on yesterday, Sunday, were food to my hungry soul, for camp life is no friend to grace, and devotional exercises are confined to the closet pretty much. A watchful spirit standing sentinel, a guilty conscience too often prisoner, but thanks to the Lord, a kind Saviour ever ready as mediator and pleader, and while the camp life is no friend to grace, it may, it should be and will be to a healthy Christian a great means of grace, and to that end I pray God may improve the present opportunity and give us Grace, for without the sustaining grace from on high I would now be of all men most miserable, but with it I have peace and hope, with contentment, tho separated from all who are dear to me. Were there no hope beyond the grave to the Christian, the happiness it gives, tho surrounded by everything calculated to make life a burden in this world, it would be more than compensation for all.
                I await with interest to hear what my brothers are going to do, and regret on their account that they have to try the hardships of camp life. I pray the Lord to direct them.
                I am seriously thinking of sending all my servants that are not required for your use South, where they will have some employment, for as I am now engaged in no business and everything is getting so high in price, there is greater necessity for more rigid economy, for we know not what may be their fate. Of course, of one thing I am assured, that all things will work together for good to those that love the Lord. Oh, that I may love him more.
                Return my thanks to Kenningham for the pearls of thought, they surely are diamonds of the purest water.
                Kiss the children. Tell little Mary this is all Papa has to send her. Love to all friends and let not your prayers be limited by a contracted appreciation of God’s mercy and favour, but pray for great blessings that we may have them.

                                                                                Yours affectionately,

                                                                                Jno. S. Walker

Sunday, 19 June 2011

My First Union Gun Crew

Well, after a nice break that included tromping around the English Lake District, I’m back.
My latest project has been painting a Union gun crew from Foundry that I picked up in the recent North Star sale. I don’t actually have a gun for them yet, so the shots include a stand-in Confederate piece.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

J. S. Walker's Eighteenth Letter

According to the date, this letter was written before the 17th letter. I will correct this in the final version.

Camp Adams,
King’s Mill Warf,
10th July 1861

My Very dear Wife:

                I received yours and Luly’s yesterday and if you knew how much happiness your letters give you would steal a great deal of time from other duties to write. Tell Luly Papa will write to her soon. I am today very busy and cannot do it. Tell little Mary that though it thundered and rained very hard the other night that father was just as dry and comfortable as if he had been at  home in his own bed.
                We are here quietly awaiting the enemy and may have to remain some time. In these trying times, unless our hearts are stayed on God, we are of all men most miserable, but if we lean on him and with strong faith see his guidance and leave with him the issues of the future, we may spend our days in peace in the midst of war. We have a great work to accomplish and it must be done, and tho it may seem that the hosts of the enemy would engulf us, let us remember that the victory is not always to the strong. It will not take years, as you seem to imagine, to terminate these troubles. There is now more accomplished in a month than formerly in years, and I have a trust that the Lord will soon make fall his arm and open a way of deliverance.
                We anxiously await news from the Potomac and hope that the report in yesterday’s paper that Col. Pegram’s command has been taken prisoners may prove untrue.
                If you think it would be more agreeable to yourself or protection of the health of the children to go up the country, do so, and if you would like to be relieved of the house I think putting the furniture in order and storing with David or Moorman the private articles that you could easily rent out house and furniture at good price, and thus save a great deal. Just do as you please. Should you think seriously of renting out, let me know and I will try and make the necessary arrangements. I will write again soon on this subject. I am now too busy with other things.
                Allan (Lyon?) will come down Saturday morning. Try and send me a little good bread by him.
                Kiss the dear children and give the enclosed to my dear little Mary.

                                                                Yours very affectionately,
                                                                                Jno. S. Walker

                Pray for our cause that the Lord may smile through the dark cloud and tune men’s evil heart to praise him. I will if He give me strength see my native land free from (absolute?) despotism, if my life is spent to accomplish it, and count it all honor to die in the protection  to my children of the rights which I believe the Lord has given me and would have me defend.



Sunday, 15 May 2011

Flying the Spirit Flag!

Earlier this year, I learned that one of my South Carolina based cousins had been offered a place at the Citadel, one of the United State’s oldest and most-respected military institutions. I have yet to hear if he accepted the place, as he also received offers from several other worthy universities.
Partly in honor of him, but mostly because it was fun, I decided to add a Citadel Spirit Flag to my Confederate Army of Oxford. I’ve already established that there is a strong South Carolina contingent to the force, and the flag is just such an attractive piece.  Normally, it will fly over one of my batteries, but it is pictured here with the first Confederate figure I have painted from Steve Barber Miniatures.
Previously, I painted a Union officer that I received as a sample. I was pretty enthusiastic about that figure, and that enthusiasm carries on to this one. The figure has some incredibly sharp detailing that makes it a joy to paint. Size-wise, it is fractionally bigger than my Sash and Sabre and Perrys figures, but I’ve placed this guy right into a mixed unit and he’s difficult to pick out.  I do wonder a little about his close-legged stance. I am told that this comes straight out of a period drill manual, but it looks a bit unnatural to me. I wonder how often such a stance was employed by troops in battle. Still, this a minor point to me.

I have purchased several more packs of these figures and will be hopefully showing off some more soon.

The Mysteries of Blogger

A few days ago, I saw that Josiah had posted a nice comment regarding J.S.W.’s seventeenth letter, but when I went to check the blog, I found both the letter and the comment had disappeared. Well, two days later, the letter has reappeared, but the comment is still missing. Josiah, I’d love for you to post your comment again, if you can remember it.
As for myself, this has served as an important reminder. While it is great to have this blog to use as a base and encouragement for my family history studies, it is important to back up all of this information. For myself, I will be storing all of the important stuff both on my computer and in hard copy, just in case.         

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

J. S. Walker's Seventeenth Letter

Camp Adams,
King’s Mill Warf,
12th July, 1861.

My very dear Wife:

                Had I known that Crow intended to report me sick in bed, I should have kept him here, but I suppose he is excusable, as the whites set the blacks the example of exaggerating everything, and sensation is the order of the day. I had a bilious headache and diarrhea caused by the necessity of standing several hours in the sun in moving our camp. I concluded it prudent to keep still for several days and not do military duty fast and take a little physic, to have my system the better prepared to stand the hot sun of the summer. When I think I am seriously sick and my health is likely to require it, you may rest assured I will go home, for while I willingly lay down my life for my State’s honor and my own rights, I do not regard it at all patriotic to lose it through neglect, inattention, etc., if care can prevent it.
                You ask me if I received any of your letters. I have very little doubt but that I received them all, but in camp so uncertain are my movements that I have adopted the plan of reading them carefully and then destroying them, so as to prevent their accumulation and by accident falling into the hands of the enemy, so when I write a return I cannot reply acknowledging dates. The last received is dated July and has three slips of newspaper in it and quite long for you. I fear from its tone that while you are willing to submit the issues of this war to the Lord that at the same time you allow speculations of your cowardly male neighbours, retailed through the sensational females of the city, to shake your faith, and that you find yourself drifting into all the horrors of a seven years away. If the North raise 400,000 men and $400,000 and the chivalry of the South sit at home and speculate upon the issue and seek money making investments, and rejoice at our victories with great odds against us, and swear by the eternal that we (that is, they) can whip all creation, and good Lord forsakes us, the war will be short, and thank the Lord I will have fallen before my country’s disgrace is consummated, but if the Lord continues to smile, and those who enjoy the rights of free men and show themselves by their services worthy of the name, then, be it long or short, the right secured to our children and the principle established, we can go down to our graves honoured. Trust in the Lord and listen not to the flippant speculations of home knights. My own prophecy is that the war will be at an end in three months and that the Lord will direct the strength of the enemy to their own destruction. I will trust him to the end.
                I must close that this may go to the Post Office.
                You need not send me papers. I get them every day.
                Direct your letters to the 15th Regt: VA. Vols., Grove Warf, James River.
                Kiss the children. Love to all.
                                                Yours very affectionately,

                                                                Jno. S. Walker.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Col. James McCullough

Of all my Civil War ancestors, the one to which I feel most closely connected is my great-great- great-grandfather James McCullough, who spent most of the war leading the 16th South Carolina Volunteer Regiment.  Not only did he pass his family name along to me, but when I was a boy, my family spent many summer days down in South Carolina on the same McCullough farm that he had worked both before and after the war. I remember seeing the Colonel’s portrait hanging in my great-grandmother’s house, and his monument continues to dominate the small family graveyard.
James McCullough was born in 1824 on the family farm, 25 miles south of Greenville, S.C. His father was a major landowner, slave owner, farmer and horse-breeder. His father died in 1853 and James inherited the farm.
In the fall of 1861, C. J. Elford was granted authority from the Governor of S.C. to raise a regiment for state service, and James McCullough did his part by organizing one company.  The regiment would eventually be labelled the 16th South Carolina Volunteers and James McCullough was elected Lieutenant Colonel under Col. Elford. In early 1862, the regiment was sent to Adams Run on the Charleston Savannah Railroad where they participated in the small battles of Pocotaligo and Johns Island. In April, the regiment was changed from state to Confederate States service, and James McCullough was elected Colonel of the regiment.
In March of 1863 the regiment journeyed to Wilmington, N.C., but soon returned to the Charleston area. Then, on May 4, 1863, the regiment was ordered west to join General Joseph E. Johnston’s army attempting to relieve Vicksburg. Now part of States Rights Gist’s brigade, the 16th missed the battle of Chickamauga while on detached duty. However, they returned in time to take up a position on Missionary Ridge for the defeat at Chattanooga. From then on the regiment stayed with the army through all of the battles in the Atlanta campaign.
From there, the 16th joined in Hood’s disastrous campaign. At the battle of Franklin, States Rights Gist’s brigade was one of the first to hit the Federal lines. When Gist was killed during the battle, Col. James took command of the brigade. Sometime after this battle, possibly after the battle of Nashville, the depleted 16th regiment was combined with another regiment. With no real command left, Col. McCullough resigned his commission and returned home.
He lived on until 1892 and was very involved in veteran’s affairs.
That is most of what I know about the Colonel’s war record. As you can see, there are many gaps in my knowledge. With the help of this blog, I hope to start filling in some of those gaps and gathering as much information as I can about my great-great-great-grandfather and his four years as a citizen of the Confederate States of America.

Monday, 2 May 2011

J.S. Walker's Sixteenth Letter

Camp Adams,
King’s Mill Warf,
6th July, 1861

My very dear Wife:

                I cannot let the opportunity escape of writing by Lieut. Rady, who goes up today, tho I have only to report my continued good health and everything quite in the camp and surrounding country. It may be but the lull before the approaching storm, it may be the premonition of permanent peace. Whichever it is leaving with the Lord, I pray for grace to do my duty, to live for and love him as I ought, quiet moments when I am allowed to enjoy them prove I hope times of spiritual profit, to face our evil hearts and judge them by the Lord’s standard shows us the sin therein, as far as the Lord wills, for if with the piercing eye of the Almighty we could at a glance see their whole enormity I fear divine grace could hardly sustain poor fallen humanity, the (unreadable) of heaven for purifying the human heart demands our admiration if not our continued praise.
                If you want to send down anything, Rady will bring it or tell you of opportunity to send it. Be sure and let me know the state of your health, and the dear children who you will kiss, and remember me to all friends and relatives.
                We are looking for stirring runs from the Potomac line every day.

                                                                Yours very affectionately,

                                                                                Jno. S. Walker.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

What They Fought For 1861-1865

I've just finished reading What They Fought For: 1861-1865 by James M. McPherson. This slender volume, a gift from my father, is a collection of three lectures presented by McPherson at Louisiana State University in 1993.

It’s an intriguing little book with a very carefully chosen title. Through a vast reading of soldier’s letters and diaries, McPherson explains why the men of both sides joined and stayed in the army. What ideals (for it was ‘ideals’ in many cases) caused them to pick up a rifle and leave their families?
There is one paragraph in particular that caught my attention that I thought I would share.
‘These men were not posturing for public consumption. They were not looking back from years later through a romantic haze of myth about the war. They were writing during the immediacy of their experience to explain and justify their beliefs to family members or friends who shared – or in some case questioned – those beliefs. And how smugly can we sneer at their expression of willingness to die for those beliefs when we know that so many of them did just that?’
As I slowly make my way through John Stewart Walker’s letters, I admit that I have once or twice rolled my eyes at what I saw as patriotic hyperbole. Not anymore.
As for the book, it’s a very good read, but hard to justify the cost versus the page count. Definitely pick it up if you see it in a used bookstore or the library.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Who was John Stewart Walker?

John Stewart Walker with his younger brothers.

Thanks to his letters, I have a first-hand account of what my ancestor, John Stewart Walker, did during the Civil War. However, until lately, I knew almost nothing about his life before the war. In order to learn more, I wrote letters to various relatives and eventually got in contact with my previously unknown cousin, Jack Jones. Jack has long had an interest in our shared ancestor, and he was able to provide me with a good deal of information. Most of the below comes from his notes.

John Stewart Walker was born in Virginia in 1827. His father, David Walker, was a Scottish immigrant who had come to American to join in the family tobacco business. With the death of his father in 1845, John Stewart Walker went to live with his uncle, John Stewart, in his mansion at Brook Hill (which still stands). Soon thereafter, John enrolled in Washington College and later transferred to Harvard, where he was a member of the exclusive Porcellion Club. On John Stewart Walker’s 21st birthday, he held a massive party at the Revere House. The party proved so expensive that when his uncle received the bill, he pulled John out of school and brought him home.

J.S.W.'s tobacco award.

The next year, 1849, John married his second cousin, Lucy Otey, and bought a $10,000 property in Richmond.  From then until the war, John joined in the family tobacco business, producing his own award-winning brand, Queen Bee Tobacco.  John Stewart Walker and his family were members of the Centenary Methodist Church in Richmond. John is listed as a steward of the church in 1856 and became superintendent of the Sunday school in 1857, a position he held until he volunteered in the Virginia militia. It is thought that several men in his company were members of his Sunday school.

J.S.W. in his more respectable years.