By Judith N. McArthur
In 1861, James B. Griffin left Edgefield, South Carolina and rode off to Virginia to take in responsibility with the accomplice military in a method that befitted a Southern gentleman: on a fine-blooded horse, with slaves to attend on him, trunks, and his favourite looking puppy. He was once thirty-five years outdated, a filthy rich planter, and the landlord of sixty-one slaves while he joined Wade Hampton's elite Legion as a massive of cavalry. He left at the back of seven teenagers, the eldest basically twelve, and a spouse who used to be 8 and a part months pregnant. As a box officer in a prestigious unit, the possibilities for reputation and glory appeared unlimited. Griffin, besides the fact that, played no bold acts, nor did he motivate nice loyalty in his males. in its place, he unknowingly supplied a different and useful portrait of the accomplice officials who shaped the middle of Southern political, army, and company management. In A Gentleman and an Officer, Judith N. McArthur and Orville Vernon Burton have accumulated 80 of Griffin's letters written on the Virginia entrance, and through later postings at the South Carolina coast, to his spouse Leila Burt Griffin. remarkable of their breadth and quantity, the letters surround Griffin's complete Civil struggle provider, detailing dwelling stipulations and army maneuvers, the jockeying for place between officials, and the several methods officials and enlisted males interacted in the course of the Civil struggle. not like the recollections and biographies of high-ranking, famous accomplice officials or reports and edited collections of letters of individuals of the rank and dossier, this assortment sheds mild at the lifetime of a center officer--a existence became the other way up by way of severe army hassle and intricate additional by way of the continued want for reassurance approximately own valor and standing universal to males of the southern gentry. In those letters, Griffin describes mystery troop events in quite a few army activities comparable to the Hampton Legion's position within the Peninsula crusade (details that might definitely were censored in additional contemporary wars). right here he relates the march from Manassas to Fredricksburg, the siege of Yorktown and the retreat to Richmond, and the battling at Eltham's touchdown and 7 Pines, the place Griffin commanded the legion after Hampton used to be wounded. all through, as Griffin recounts those so much outstanding of occasions, he illuminates the main traditional of daily concerns. One may possibly look forward to finding a accomplice officer meditating on slavery, emancipation, or Lincoln. as an alternative, we're faced via easy humanity and straightforward issues, from the elements to gossip. enormous ancient occasions intruded on Griffin's lifestyles and despatched him off to warfare, yet his heartfelt concerns have been approximately his kin, his neighborhood, and his personal own satisfaction. finally, Griffin's letters current the Civil warfare because the refinery, the ordeal via fireplace, that verified and verified--or modified--Southern upperclass values. With a desirable blend of army and social background, A Gentleman and an Officer strikes from the start of the Civil warfare at fortress Sumter throughout the finish of the struggle and Reconstruction, vividly illustrating how the problems of the Civil battle have been right away devastatingly nationwide and revealingly neighborhood.
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Additional resources for A Gentleman and an Officer: A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War
35. Edgefield Advertiser, 19 Nov. 1852. 36. Edgefield Advertiser, 14 Feb. 1855. B. 38 His father and stepmother were members; his sister and each of her husbands attended. B. Griffin. B. Griffin's church affiliation remains a mystery. B. was not involved in the life of a church, especially since he and Leila had children, and so much of the social life of the rural community revolved around the church. B. chose to attend Leila's church. 's sister's husband, Diomede Hollingsworth, joined his wife's church.
Naming patterns reflect both African heritage and biblical names. Coroner Book of Inquisition, 1844-1855, p. 27, SCDAH. This Abram was the father of Griffin's slave valet, Abram. Leila's uncle Dr. M. Burt was the investigating doctor. Two other Griffin slaves testified at the inquiry. 50. 9 persons. "Without Counting the Cost" 27 Inferences from census data can be risky, but in the 1850 slave census many of the slaves appear to follow what would logically be a family order of a father, mother, children.
24 "A Gentleman and an Officer" Griffin's plantation was part of the economic and social system of both neighborhood and community. The records reveal that Griffin was more than a farmer; he was also a businessman. Plantation accounts for 1859-60 disclose that he regularly hired out slaves. 45 His business experience would enable him to refocus his life after the war. By 1860 Griffin was well established. Highland House Plantation encompassed 1500 acres and was valued at $25,000. Only fifty-one persons in all Edgefield claimed land of greater value.