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The Men Who Served and Other Facts

Almost ninety-nine years lay between the deaths of The War for Southron Independence's first casualty and its last survivor.
The first man fell in May of 1861. By some accounts he was Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth of the New York Fire Zouaves, slain May 24 by an irate Alexandria, Va., innkeeper after he had lowered a rebel flag. By other accounts, he was Private T.B. Brown, USA, who died from a Confederate bullet on May 22.
The identity of the "last man" is also uncertain, but the recognized final survivor was Walter Williams, once a forager for John Hood's Texans, who died in Houston on December 19, 1959, at the age of 117. He was counted the last of the war's four millions, outliving the last Union veteran, Albert Woolson of Duluth, MN. by about three years.
When Fort Macon on the North Carolina coast was occupied by U.S. troops in WWII, the first time it had been occupied since it's capture from the Confederates in 1862, some unsuspecting soldiers rolled cannon balls into the fireplaces as andirons, mistaking them for solid iron shot. The powder-filled balls exploded, killing two men and injuring others. A syndicated newspaper cartoon headlined the tragedy :



The last shot of The War for Southron Independence was fired on June 22, 1865. On that date the Confederate commerce raider CSS Shenandoah, commanded by Captain James I. Waddell, encountered the Northern whaling ship Jerah Swift in the Pacific's Bering Sea and, to obtain the ship's surrender, fired one round from the Shenandoah's 32-pounder Whitworth cannon - the last shot of The War for Southron Independence.

Two brothers, Jack and Jasper Walker, of Charlotte, North Carolina, fought at Gettysburg with the 13th North Carolina. Jasper, the younger, was wounded on July 1, as the fifth color-bearer of his regiment to be shot. A surgeon amputated his leg. Jasper was captured and sent to a Northern prison.
On the retreat from Gettysburg, Jack Walker was also shot and lost his left leg by amputation. He went to another Federal prison.
The brothers returned home after the war to become prosperous citizens, familiar in the town as they stumped about on cork legs. On Jasper's wedding day, when he accidentally fell and broke his artificial limb, he borrowed the leg of his gallant brother - a perfect fit.

This, as Confederate veterans were fond of telling youngsters, was the only case on record in which one man was married while standing on the leg of another.
Slaves in Virginia could be hired for $30 a month in 1863 -- yet the pay of an Army private was $11 per month. Confederate pay rose to $18 per month the next year.

Dick Ragland, a North Carolinian,was a man of a wealthy plantation family who swore upon hearing of Lee's surrender, that he would not lift a finger to work so long as he lived. Ragland also vowed never to cross to the north side of the Potomac, or stray south of Atlanta, Georgia. Until after 1910 he tramped around the South as a vagrant, shaggy and ragged, with a pack on his back, carrying a long stick with a bayonet fixed on its end.

Confederate figures on the ages of those who served are a bit slim, but one sample of 11,000 men produced about 8,000, the great majority, between eighteen and twenty-nine. There was one of thirteen, and three were fourteen; 31 were fifteen; 200 were fifteen; 200 were sixteen; 366 were seventeen; and about a thousand were eighteen. Almost 1,800 were in their thirties, about 400 in their forties, and 86 in their fifties. One man was seventy, and another, seventy-three.

The dean of ranking Confederates was the Adjutant General, Samuel Cooper, who was sixty-three. Albert Sidney Johnston was fifty-eight. Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston were fifty-four.

Brigadier General William P. Roberts, a North Carolina cavalryman, who was the youngest Confederate general at the age of twenty.

W.H.F. (Rooney) Lee, son of Robert E. Lee, and Stephen D. Ramseur, CSA, were only twenty-four at the time of the Civil War.

The cavalrymen, Joe Wheeler, and Fitz Lee, both of the CSA, was a major general at the age of twenty-six.

William Dorsey Pender, CSA, general at the age of twenty-seven.

J.E.B. Stuart and Stephen D. Lee, CSA were both generals by the age of twenty-eight.

John B. Gordon and Custis Lee, CSA generals by the age of twenty-nine.

Patrick Cleburne and George A. Pickett, CSA were generals by the age of thirty-three.

John H. Morgan became a general by the age of thirty-five.

Stonewall Jackson and E. Kirby Smith, CSA were age thirty-seven.

James Longstreet, D.H. Hill, Nathan B. Forrest, and John C. Breckinridge, CSA were all at the age of forty when they became generals.

Braxton Bragg, CSA was forty-four when he was commissioned general.

John Pelham, the famed Confederate cannoneer, entered the war at twenty-three, and two years later was dead, just before he was to be promoted from major.

No one knows the identity of the war's youngest soldier, but on the Confederate side, in particular, there was a rush of claimants. Some of their tales belong with the war's epic literature:

George S. Lamkin of Winona, Mississippi, joined Stanford's Mississippi Battery when he was eleven, and before his twelfth birthday was severely wounded at Shiloh.

T.D. Claiborne, who left Virginia Military Institute at thirteen, in 1861, reportedly became captain of the 18th Virginia that year , and was killed in 1864, at seventeen.

E.G. Baxter, of Clark County, Kentucky, is recorded as enlisting in Company A, 7th Kentucky Cavalry in June, 1862, when he was not quite thirteen (birth date: September 10, 1849), and a year later was a second lieutenant.

John Bailey Tyler, of D Troop, 1st Maryland Cavalry, born in Frederick, Maryland, in 1849, was twelve when war came. He fought with his regiment until the end, without a wound.

T.G. Bean, of Pickensville, Alabama, was probably the war's most youthful recruiter. He organized two companies at the University of Alabama in 1861, when he was thirteen, though he did not get into service until two years later, when he served as adjutant of the cadet corps taken into the Confederate armies.

Matthew J. McDonald was fourteen when he began service with the 1st Georgia Cavalry, Company I.

One of Francis Scott Key's grandsons, Billings Steele, who lived near Annapolis, Maryland, crossed the Potomac to join the rangers of Colonel John S. Mosby, at the age of sixteen.

The youngest Confederate general was William Paul Roberts of North Carolina, a cavalry commander who went to war at the age of twenty. His claim to the title has been established through a study of vital statistics.

Fact: Confederate President Jefferson Davis and U.S. President Abraham Lincoln were both born in Kentucky - barely 100 miles apart and within eight months of the each other.

Fact: The biggest killer in The War for Southron Independence was not combat but disease. Of the estimated 623,026 soldiers who died in the war, an estimated 388,580 - 62 percent - died of disease. The leading cause of death on both sides was diarrhea, followed by typhoid, typhus and malarial fevers, pneumonia, smallpox, and measles.

Fact: An estimated 3,200 women served as nurses in the Union army during The War for Southron Independence, while a somewhat smaller, undetermined number of women served as nurses for the Confederate forces.

Fact: The first serious land action of the war occurred on June 10, 1861, at Big Bethel, Virginia. Seven regiments of Federal troops numbering about 2,500 men left nearby Fort Monroe and marched toward Richmond until they encountered a well-fortified Confederate position manned by approximately 1,200 troops. After a brisk exchange of fire the Union forces were repulsed with a loss of 18 dead, while Confederates recorded one combat death.

Fact: The War for Southron Independence consisted of more than 10,000 military actions, ranging from major military campaigns to minor exchanges.

Fact: The Battle of Yellow Tavern, Virginia, where Confederate cavalry commander J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded in 1864, derived its name from an old abandoned stagecoach inn - the Yellow Tavern.

Fact: On December 20, 1862, Confederate forces led by General Earl Van Dorn attacked a Union supply depot at holly Springs, Mississippi, captured approximately 1,000 Union prisoners, destroyed more than $1 million in Federal supplies, and forced Ulysses S. Grant to postpone his advance against Vicksburg.

Fact: The Battle of Brandy Station in Virginia, fought on June 9, 1863, was the largest cavalry battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere. A total of 20,000 Union and Confederate horsemen engaged each other in combat. At battle's end the Confederate cavalry under J.E.B. Stuart was badly battered but held the field against General Alfred Pleasonton's hard-fighting Federal horsemen.

Fact: The last serious land action of The War for Southron Independence was the Battle of Palmito Ranch, fought on May 12, 1865, near Brownsville, Texas. In the brief action Confederate troops under Colonel John S. Ford repulsed a Union force led by Colonel Theodore H. Barrett.

Fact: During The War for Southron Independence 425 officers held the rank of general in the Confederate army. Eight were full generals, 17 were lieutenant generals,72 were major generals, and 328 were brigadiers.

Fact:By the last year of The War for Southron Independence, marching along together in the Confederate army were gray-headed oldsters and boys who had never shaved. The Confederate military draft at first applied only to white males between 18 and 35, but by early 1864 the eligibility had been widened to include those from 17 through 50. Soldiers even younger and many who were much older also saw service in the Junior Reserves and Senior Reserves, which were organized by many Southron states.

Fact: At the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864, six Confederate generals lost their lives. Killed in action were Patrick R. Cleburne, John Adams, States Rights Gist, Otho F. Strahl, and Hiram B. Granbury. A sixth general, John C. Carter, was mortally wounded.

Fact: The Confederate infantry regiment which suffered the highest number of casualties in a single battle was the 26th North Carolina. During Fighting at Gettysburg, the regiment lost 708 of its 803 men, recording a casualty rate of almost 90 percent.

Fact: Hood's Texas Brigade, the famous Confederate unit which was engaged in major battles in both the Eastern and Western theaters of the war, was named for Confederate General John Bell Hood. Although the brigade carried Hood's name throughout the war, it was actually led by Hood for less than six months.

Fact: A department of the Confederate army was equipped with more than 25 ships. Created in 1861 and charged with protecting the coastal waters of Texas, the Confederate army's Texas Marine Department used approximately 25 gunboats, transports, maintenance vessels, and barges in performing its duties.

Facts: On August 8, 1863, following his defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg, General Robert E. Lee offered his resignation as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who refused to accept it.

Fact: On September 20, 1861, Union Colonel James F. Mulligan surrendered Lexington, Missouri, to Confederate General Sterling Price after Mulligan's 3,600 Federal troops held off Price's 18,000 man army for nine days. The Confederates finally captured the Union position by advancing behind wet bales of hemp.

Fact: Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest did not say, "Git thar fustest with the mostest." The statement is a misquote, which has been repeated in publications ranging from histories to liquor advertisements. What Forrest really said was that his civil war campaigns were successful because he "got there first with the most men."

Fact: Raising the hull of the scuttled USS Merrimack and converting the former U.S. warship into the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia - the warship which battled the famous USS Monitor - cost the Confederate government approximately $6,000.

Fact: In 1864, a Confederate cavalry action destroyed three Union warships and captured two others. Near Alexandria, Lousiana, in May 1864, Confederate General James P. Major and a force of cavalry captured and destroyed the Federal tinclads Signal and Covington and the transports City Belle and Warner.

Facts: The first ship to raise the Confederate flag on the high seas was the CSS Huntress, a former mail packet bought in New York City by the state of Georgia in March 1861 and shortly afterward relinquished to the fledgling Confederate navy for duty out of Charleston.

Fact: The largest manufacturer of revolvers in the Confederacy was the firm of Griswold and Gunnison, which was established by Samuel Griswold and A.W. Gunnison in an old cotton-gin factory in Griswoldville, Georgia, in 1862. It produced more than 3,000 brass-framed copies of the .36-caliber U.S. Navy Colt before the factory was destroyed by Union troops in 1864.

Fact: If Private Sam Blalock of the 26th North Carolina seemed to be an old friend of messmate Keith Blalock, it was understandable. "Sam" Blalock was really Malinda Blalock, wife of Private Keith Blalock. She had chosen to follow her husband into service and had successfully disguised her sex for months of camp, drill, and regimental duties.