CWRT flagge


Volume 25, No. 11 – November 2012

Volume 25, No. 11
Editor: Stephen L. Seftenberg

President’s Message:

I am pleased to announce that programs are scheduled through April 2013. If you have any interest in making a presentation, please call me [(561) 967-8911] or speak to me at a meeting. We would like to have speakers from May to August and not recess for the summer. Wednesday, December 12th, will be our annual Holiday Party. Guest are invited to share in a fun evening. We ask that everyone bring a dish-- appetizer, salad, entre, dessert or paper goods to the meeting. A list will be passed around at the November meeting so that members can sign up. The knowledgeable and dynamic author, Robert Macomber, will speak. In December the raffle is all inclusive and is not limited to Civil War items. Any donation would be appreciated especially small gift certificates. Members of the Roundtable will participate in both Veterans’ Day parades, 2 P. M., Saturday, November 10th in Lake Worth and 2 P. M., Sunday, November 11th in West Palm Beach.

Gerridine LaRovere, President

November 14, 2012 Assembly

Our speaker for the November 14 Assembly is an old friend of the Roundtable, Marshall D. Krolick, who enlisted in the Chicago Roundtable in 1961 where he served as President, Editor of the Newsletter and in 1985 was awarded an Honorary Life Membership. In 1990, he received the Nevins-Freemen Award for distinguished scholarship and dedication to Civil War study. He speaks all over the country, has published many articles and has served as a guide for tours of Gettysburg and other Civil War sites. A lifelong fan of the Eighth Cavalry Regiment, Illinois Volunteers, he wrote the Introduction to the History of the Regiment.

Krolick’s topic will be "Lee and Longstreet at Gettysburg." Here is a taste: Ever since Lee reached Virginia, debate was on as to the cause for the defeat. One hundred fifty years later, the center of the storm remains James Longstreet. Whether his enemies believed their criticism, or found a convenient scapegoat in a general who had switched to the Republican Party, is really irrelevant. Longstreet’s stout defense, impliedly critical of Lee, was "blasphemy" and made things worse for him. Krolick will strip away the rhetoric and examine the personalities and military theories of Lee and Longstreet and their effect on the outcome.

October 10, 2012 Assembly

According to Bill McEachern, the story of his great-great-grandfather, James Augustus McEachern (born January 23, 1840 - died 1874) starts in Kintyre, Scotland around 1500 A. D., when a Celtic cross was raised for Colin McEachern and his wife. By 1750, Bill’s ancestors lived in Argyle on the Isle of Islay in the Highlands, were Catholics and thought of themselves as "Scots." Lowland Scots were Protestants and thought of themselves as "English." Highlanders and their traditions were persecuted after the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The Dress Act of 1746 forbade the wearing of tartans, punishable by prison and by banishment for a repeated offense. In 1750, "cleansing" of the Highlands meant eviction of tenants in favor of sheep.

In 1770, Daniel McEachern, his wife and several neighbors emigrated to Robson, North Carolina. In 1774, after Daniel’s first wife died, he married Flora McNail and they had ten children. During the Revolutionary War, Daniel joined the Georgia militia to fight the English. Daniel’s first son, James was born in 1775 and in 1803 married Rebecca Allen. They had three sons, the oldest of whom was William. Their third son, David Augustus was born in 1814, after Daniel moved his family to Sumter, South Carolina. In 1839, Daniel married Margaret Darling, of Timminsville, South Carolina. Daniel was a carriage maker. His first son, James Augustus, was painting his father’s carriages for a living when South Carolina seceded, December 20, 1860.

HamptonIn January 1861, James, then 21 years old and a great marksman, joined the Timmonsville "Claremont Rifles," consisting of 93 men. The Rifles were sent to Sullivan’s Island and watched the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, April 12-14, 1861. On April 20, 1861, James wrote his sweetheart, Vicki, proposing marriage. A few days later, the Rifles went to Columbia, South Carolina, where Wade Hampton III (April 3, 1818 - April 11, 1902), the richest man in the state, and maybe even the country, was forming "Hampton’s Legion." Hampton owned plantations in many states and was reputed to own around 10,000 slaves. Hampton was famous for hunting bears with nothing but a Bowie knife, until one bear took his leg! Hampton’s grandfather had been a cavalryman in the Revolutionary War. Hampton’s father had been an aide to Andrew Jackson. Hampton served in the U. S. Senate 1858-61, opposed secession and favored gradual emancipation, but when war came he went with his state.

Hampton himself had no military experience and volunteered to be a private. Gov. Francis W. Pickens instead appointed him on April 30, 1861, a Colonel and invited him to form his own legion. On May 3, 1861, Hampton placed an ad in the Columbia Courier and 10,000 men (including James) responded! The Legion was to be a mixed unit with infantry (600 men), cavalry (350 men) and artillery (6 cannons) and Hampton paid the full freight, for which he got good people. The Legion was stationed in Richmond. Hampton’s infantry, at the cost of one-sixth of its men, "saved the day" for the Confederate army at First Manassas (Bull Run), July 21, 1861, just days after James McEachern was promoted to Second Corporal. The Legion fought in the Peninsular Campaign (March-July 1862), losing nearly half its men.

FlagOn May 31, 1862, at Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), James took a bullet through his lung, one of many killed and wounded, leaving the Legion severely undermanned. In June 1862, the Legion was broken up, with its artillery assigned to Jeb Stuart, its cavalry assigned to Rosser’s Cavalry Brigade and the infantry, led by Hampton, to John Bell Hood’s Texas Brigade. James, though still recuperating, went with him. At Gaines Mill (June 27, 1862), Hood’s men charged repeatedly against Porter’s lines, arrayed in three lines up a hill, but were repulsed with heavy losses. Lee, still looking for his first victory, told Hood, "I want you to charge one more time." Told Hood’s men had no cartridges, Lee ordered Hood to attack the first line; if it cracked, it would retreat up the hill, Chargeblocking the Federals in the upper lines from firing. The result of the "Greatest Charge" in the Civil War was a resounding victory, paid for in a lot of Confederate blood. At Second Manassas (Bull Run), August 28-31, 1862, James’ unit played a major role in defeating Pope. At Sharpsburg (Antietam), September 17, 1862, the Legion lost 66 casualties out of 77 men present for duty! Although hardly recovered from his wound, in late 1862 James was promoted to Second Sergeant. Finally, in January 1863, he was given an "indulgence" leave to go home and recuperate. As a result, James did not participate in the Battle of Gettysburg, but returned to duty in mid-1863.

In September 1863, President Davis sent Longstreet (and James) by rail to East Tennessee, to retake Knoxville and prevent Burnside’s army from relieving the Union army besieged in Chattanooga. After the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19-20, 1863) which became a Confederate victory when Rosecrans mistakenly left a hole in his defenses, Thomas led the Federals back to Chattanooga where they were besieged and running short on supplies. Lincoln sent Grant there to save the Union army. After opening a supply line (the "Cracker Line") to feed his starving men and animals, Grant fought off a Confederate counterattack at the Battle of Wauhatchie on October 28–29, 1863. Between November 23rd and 25th, Union forces won repeated victories at Orchard Knob, Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain and drove the Confederates out of Tennessee.

Longstreet succeeded in bottling up the Union army in Knoxville, but desperately needs supplies (of which the Union forces had plenty). Longstreet decided on a night attack under a full moon. Unfortunately for him, his maps were defective, his intelligence was inadequate and the attack was poorly planned and executed. On top of that, his troops lost the element of surprise by giving a premature Rebel yell. The Battle of Fort Sanders lasted only 20 minutes but was a bloody disaster for the Confederacy, coming on the heels of the loss of Chattanooga.

James in a letter dated December 1, 1863, says he fortunately "missed the battle." He returned with Longstreet to Virginia, where in March 1864, he became a "mounted infantryman" (with horse and mule) and participated in many battles and raids. He eventually was promoted to Second Lieutenant and became the commanding officer of the Claremont Rifles. After the siege of Petersburg, James’ company was among the last to leave Richmond. The Hampton Legion eventually surrendered at Appomattox. At the end, James’ company was down to 16 men. James died in 1874 at the age of 34, probably due to the wounds he suffered in the war. He had two sons, one of whom, George C. McEachern, was Bill’s grandfather.

To bring his wonderful talk to a close, Bill asked this question: "Why did the Scots fight for the South?" It certainly was not because they owned slaves or even favored slavery. Simply stated, they fought to be left alone and, in the context of time and place, it was the North that was invading their space, just as the English had done so many years before!

Bill McEachern is not the only one who has become interested in his Civil War ancestor. Daniel Fey, of Whitefish, Montana, has written an article for The History Channel Magazine (November / December 2012, page 58, entitled, "Meeting a Soldier," which is copied below:

"As a youngster growing up in Fremont, Ohio, in the '50s and '60s, I developed a passing interest in one of my ancestors, Cpl. Henry Graback (also spelled Greybach and Grabach), when my maternal grandmother told me he had been killed during the Civil War. In later years, I conducted a research project to determine who he was, what he did, and the circumstances of his death. Through the accounts of family and friends, a visit to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio, research of battles and records from the National Archives, the lyrical and haunting books of Civil War historian Bruce Catton, and the Internet, I was able to piece together quite an account. Graback enlisted in the 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the summer of 1861 shortly after the First Battle of Bull Run. An 18-year-old laborer from Fremont, he stood 5 foot 3 and had dark hair and eyes. The reasons Henry joined the war are unclear. Perhaps he was answering President Lincoln's call for volunteers following the Union defeat at Manassas. Whatever his motivation, the regiment with which he served was one of Ohio's more illustrious units.

GrabackFrom June of 1861 to June of 1864, the 8th Ohio fought in nearly every major engagement in the eastern theater--Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and Gettysburg, where in a forward position along Cemetery Ridge the 8th so thoroughly shot up a Virginia regiment the Rebels completely broke and ran (a rarity for Confederate infantry). All told, the 8th Ohio suffered 132 killed with another 73 soldiers falling to disease. Graback’s luck ran out at the Battle of the Wilderness in northern Virginia in early May 1864. The 8th Ohio had advanced and taken its objective, but was forced to retreat in the face of a Rebel counterattack. At some point Graback was wounded. While family accounts had led me to believe he died during battle, in fact he languished with thousands of other wounded soldiers under horrendous conditions in Fredericksburg, Va., awaiting transport to a hospital in Washington, D.C. National Archives records reveal he died on June 4, 1864, following the amputation of his right arm. His death was probably the result of gangrene. Within days he was buried in Arlington Cemetery. He was 21. Three weeks later the 8th Ohio Infantry was mustered out of service.

Several years ago while in Washington, D.C., I attended a family reunion of sorts. I crossed into Arlington's hallowed grounds through the Ord and Weitzel Gate. Next to the red sandstone wall at the cemetery's northern boundary, in section 27, marker number 864, was Cpl. Henry Graback. We had finally met.

Before I finish this Newsletter, your Editor claims editorial privilege to announce that our President has authored a book titled "Sunshine Places," containing ten short stories about Florida locations, with appropriate recipes! A signed copy will be raffled off at our December 12, 2012 Assembly! To order, use or bring your money or a check to the December meeting.

Last changed:  11/06/12

Home  About  News  Newsletters  Calendar  Memories  Links  Join