My Great-Grandfather

I come from a Southern family.  My great-grandfather was a lieutenant colonel in the 21st Alabama regiment.  He was born in Iowa; his wife was born in New York, but they moved to Mobile, Alabama, before the Civil War and stayed there for the rest of their lives.  They never owned slaves.

About the 21st Alabama, the Alabama archives say:

The Twenty-first was mustered into service Oct. 13, 1861, at Mobile, and remained at Hall’s Mill and Fort Gaines till ordered to Fort Pillow in March 1862. It remained there a few days, then moved to Corinth, where it was brigaded under Gen. Gladden. The regiment took part in the battle of Shiloh, where it lost six color-bearers in succession, and 200 killed and wounded out of about 650 engaged and was complimented in general orders. On the return to Corinth, the regiment was reorganized, and extended their enlistment from one year to “for the war.” The Twenty-first was at Farmington, but its casualties were few. In the summer the regiment was ordered to Mobile, and was on garrison duty at Fort Morgan, and at Oven and Choctaw Bluffs.* It was at Pollard a short time under Gen. Cantey, but was then ordered to the defenses of Mobile. Two companies were stationed at Fort Powell, where, with a loss of one killed, they withstood a bombardment of a fortnight from five gun-boats and six mortar-boats which attempted to force an entrance through Grant’s Pass. Six companies of the regiment were captured at Fort Gaines, and two at Fort Morgan; but the two at Fort Powell blew up and evacuated the post. The men captured at Fort Gaines were exchanged, the others were not. The remainder of the regiment were part of the garrison of Spanish Fort, where it lost about 10 killed and 25 wounded. The Twenty-first was surrendered at Cuba, in Sumter, May 6, 1865, about 250 strong. It is but just to say that the Twenty-first was composed largely of artisans from Mobile, many of whom were detached to assist in the various government works.

My great-grandfather was the commander of Ft. Powell, which held off five Union gun-boats until Admiral Farragut passed through Ft. Morgan and Ft. Gaines and entered Mobile Bay.  Ft. Powell was not designed to defend against attack from the east and so was indefensible after the Union navy entered Mobile Bay.

Black Lives Matter tries to claim that he and all other Confederate soldiers were evil, but they were not.  It’s often said that when the fighting gets tough, soldiers don’t fight for some glorious principle, but for the man in the foxhole next to them.  To say that everybody who fought for the Confederacy was fighting to preserve slavery and oppress blacks is wrong.  They were fighting for their families, friends and neighbors. They thought that the Confederacy would allow them to live the lives they wanted, rather than the Union.  Southerners felt threatened by the rapid industrialization of the North and the flood of immigrants to the North, just as they do today.  They feared that the slower, gracious South would be dominated by the bustling, aggressive North, and it was.

There is a book about my great-grandfather’s Civil War service: From That Terrible Field, by John Folmar



Confederates Were Not Traitors

Confederate soldiers did not consider themselves traitors, and in general they were not thought to be traitors by the men they fought against.  It is only in the last few years that race hatred has tried to cast them a traitors.

This article in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette explains why they were not.  It says:

The founders of the Confederacy understood themselves as the real Americans, as those who had kept faith with the real American Constitution, as opposed to the compromise-laden failure enacted in 1789. They cast themselves as the true Americans, the true inheritors of the Revolutionary legacy of ordered liberty and political sovereignty. They were the champions of liberty, standing firm against the usurpations of the Northern hordes.

They were, in short, fighting to defend no less than the promise of the American dream. To dismiss them as un-American is to ignore their own understanding of the counter-revolution with which they greeted the election of Abraham Lincoln in November of 1860. To pretend otherwise is to whitewash history.

The North and the South reunited after the Civil War, and most people of that generation dropped the animosities that had pervaded both sides during war.  Recently, racist recrudescence has reignited these old hatreds.  The Civil War was not  a race war, not was it even a war about slavery per se; it was about states rights and whether states had to remain member of a union they no longer supported.

Braxton Bragg

Since it was named the Bragg-Mitchell mansion, I thought this estate in Mobile had belonged to Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg, for whom Ft. Bragg in North Carolina is named (at least for a few more days). It turns out that it did not.  It belonged to a Judge Bragg.  Braxton Bragg did live in Mobile for a while, according to Wikipedia, but not in this house. 

Sen. Bennet is sponsoring legislation to rename all the military bases named after Confederate generals.  People criticize Bragg for being a bad general.  I was going blog and say at least he had a beautiful house, but it turns out he didn’t.