THE OLD WAR HORSE
THE VOICE OF GENERAL JAMES LONGSTREET CAMP #1247, SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS
VOLUME 7, ISSUE 2, FEBRUARY, 2005
The War Between The States was in many ways the first "modern" war, with technology playing a large part in the tactical operations of both sides, but the armies of today have taken technology to an almost unbelievable level, especially in the area of communications. Satellites now circle the globe providing a means of instantaneous communications among strategists and tacticians no matter what their location. One can only imagine the possibilities if Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia had at their disposal the military communications network available today. However, both the Union and the Confederate armies made extensive use of often elaborate means of communicating, especially in the area of coded messages. The art of secret writing is nearly as old as mankind itself, and so it was that a device utilized by the ancient Spartans over 2500 years ago embodied the basic principle for one of the most important devices of The War Between The States. A cylindrical staff known as a "skytale" was fabricated and precisely duplicated. When a coded message was to be sent, a narrow strip of paper was wound slantwise around the staff so that the edges just met, then the words were written across the wound-up paper. The paper was then removed and sent along to its destination where it was then wound upon a duplicate staff. The letters would automatically fall into place so the wording could easily be read. Should the message be intercepted, it would appear as nothing more than random letters and gibberish. Older than the skytale is the simple substitution cipher in which one letter is represented by another letter, figure or symbol. This type of coding was used extensively by the Confederacy, and was often called "The Vicksburg Code." It is quite simple to construct, so much so that a spy or operative could reproduce the working elements from memory. The key can also be short enough to memorize, thereby ensuring that no incriminating evidence would be found if capture took place. Among the many people interested in the science of codes was a young Virginian by the name of Edgar Allen Poe, who was unquestionably one of the most talented cryptologists of the day. Poe, who is considered the father of the detective story, was fascinated with secret writing and it was he who first proclaimed the now famous dictum that "human ingenuity cannot construct a cipher which human ingenuity cannot resolve." Poe put his interest in codes to good use in one of his most famous short stories, "The Gold Bug," which instantly made ciphers known to every literate person in America nearly 20 years before the War. He authored detailed instructions on how to make cipher disks, grilles, book and dictionary codes, and it may be said that Edgar Allen Poe is the founder of American cryptography. Many communication specialists of both North and South used his works as a guide. Another well known author who also contributed to the popular use of codes and ciphers was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who made use of stick figures substituted for letters in his Sherlock Holmes mystery, "The Adventures of the Dancing Men." At the outbreak of the War Between The States, the Signal Corps of the United States Army consisted of only one man. His students had all chosen to serve the Confederacy, notable among them J.E.B. Stuart and Porter Alexander. The Signal Corps of both armies dealt primarily with ciphers or codes sent by two flags or by torches at night. This type of communication simply substituted numerical combinations for letters. With the advent of telegraphic communications, complete words or "route ciphers" were utilized. This method of coded messaging was invented by a telegraph company superintendent then serving with Union General George McClellan early in the War. This tactic was extremely effective as Confederate intelligence officers had little experience with this type of code. Captured messages were often printed in Southern newspapers in hopes that someone might come up with a solution. "Dictionary Codes" were often used, that being simply a written deciphering document possessed by all parties involved, who could easily "look up" coded meanings. Union General Abner Doubleday boasted that he was able to correspond secretly with his brother during wartime because both had a copy of the same "dictionary." One of the most important coded messages of the War was sent to President Lincoln regarding events just transpired at Petersburg. It was written as follows: CITY POINT, VA., 8:30 A.M., APRIL 3, 1865 TINKER, WAR DEPARTMENT: A LINCOLN ITS IN FUME, A HYMN TO START I ARMY TREATING THERE POSSIBLE IF OF CUT TOO FORWARD PUSHING IS HE SO ALL RICHMOND AUNT CONFIDE IS ANDY EVACUATED PETERSBURG REPORTS GRANT MORNING THIS WASHINGTON SECRETARY WAR. It is magnificent in its simplicity. If read backwards, the message is crystal clear. WAR SECRETARY, WASHINGTON. THIS MORNING GRANT REPORTS PETERSBURG EVACUATED AND IS CONFIDENT RICHMOND ALSO. HE IS PUSHING FORWARD TO CUT OFF IF POSSIBLE, THEIR RETREATING ARMY. I START ALSO. HE IS PUSHING FORWARD TO CUT OFF IF POSSIBLE, THEIR RETREATING ARMY. I START TO HIM IN A FEW MINUTES. During the War the want-ad columns of newspapers became a regular medium for the exchange of secret information. An advertisement in the New York Herald offering a specified number of acres of farmland for sale, could inform Richmond how many pounds sterling were being transferred from secret service funds in Canada to England. And there are many, many more examples of coded messages throughout the War. Most were intended to be destroyed as soon as they were deciphered, but a large number have survived. The last official cipher message of the Confederacy was a brief note from President Jefferson Davis, dated April 24, 1865. It was sent from Charlotte, North Carolina and read, "The hostile government rejects the proposed settlement, and orders active operations to be resumed in forty-eight hours from noon today." The key needed to decipher this code was the somewhat prophetic phrase "Come Retribution." There is no doubt that codes played a large part in the operations of both the Union and the Confederacy and that many plans were carried out to successful conclusions because of their use. However, one can only wonder what Northern strategies may have been thwarted if the master of the macabre, Edgar Allen Poe had lived to serve the Confederacy. "Quoth the Raven, `Deo Vindice.'" SOUTH THE SAVE GOD! Harry
We hope that you will attend the Stuart-Mosby-Historical Society ceremony honoring Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart at the Stuart family section in Hollywood Cemetery Saturday February 12 at 11:00 AM. J. E. B. Stuarts V and VI call Longstreet their home camp. J. E. B. Stuart IV is an associate member. New Longstreet Camp members Daryl Cooke and Will Wallace are descendants of Brigadier General John Rogers Cooke, the brother of the original JEB's wife, Flora. There will be signs in the cemetery leading you to the Stuart section. This is an annual event scheduled on a date close to General Stuart's birthday. Ceremonies such as this bring to mind a statement made by Douglas Southall Freeman, "We Virginians do not go to the storied shrines of the past to do worship, but rather to gain inspiration." Inclement weather caused cancellation of the Stuart-Mosby January 22 ceremony honoring Robert E, Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Matthew Fontaine Maury. We hope that our Camp members and families maneuvered safely through the snow and ice-filled streets during the recent unpleasant and dangerous weather. safely through the snow and ice-filled streets during the recent unpleasant and dangerous weather. Thank you's are in order to John Coski and Ann Lowry Lauterbach for their special donations to the Old War Horse. Ann's gift was in memory of her late husband Tom, who had served as Adjutant and Commander of our Camp. We appreciate very much these donations to Longstreet Camp's outstanding newsletter. John, a long-time good friend of our Camp, is in charge of the Confederate Navy exhibit at the Museum of the Confederacy beginning March 4. Many people confine their thinking about the naval war to the battles of CSS Virginia vs. USS Monitor at Hampton Roads, CSS Alabama vs. USS Kearsarge off the coast of France, and Mobile Bay. The Museum's exhibit has some fascinating artifacts which cover much more than these famous engagements. If you aren't already a member of the Museum, now is a great time to join. We were pleased to induct at our January meeting new members Dave Forrest, Scott Summerfield, and Will Wallace. Our Camp continues to grow, as we have sent to headquarters the membership application of Clinton L. Cowardin, whose ancestor William Henry Cowardin served as a private in Company B, 12th Battalion, Virginia Light Artillery. We shall schedule an induction ceremony after his membership certificate is received from headquarters. This gives our Camp five Cowardins, all descended from this Confederate artilleryman. We welcome warmly all these new members. At the January meeting we were delighted to have visiting us Rick Valentine, his father-in-law Carl Cimino, Marion (Mrs. Dave) George, Robert Mahone, Stephen Pierce (son of recently deceased associate member real son Clifton Pierce), Peyton Roden, And Patty (Mrs. Mike) Kidd and son Andrew Kidd. Thanks to our Camp members who invited these guests. Our chaplain Henry Langford has moved to the Hermitage retirement home. Henry's surgery and some other medical situations have prevented him from attending recent meetings, which has made them less colorful and enjoyable. We hope that Henry will be with us again soon. Ken Parsons is scheduled for February surgery. Ken is one our more faithful members and has brought a good number of new members into our Camp. He prefers not to have company in the hospital. We shall, nevertheless, pray for successful surgery and a complete and speedy recovery. The George C. Marshall Foundation is joining with VMI and Washington and Lee to sponsor a two-day conference on "Leadership with Integrity: The Character and Career of George C. Marshall." This program will be held in Lexington February 25-26 as part of Washington and Lee's Institute for Honor, established four years ago by the Washington and Lee Class of 1960. General Marshall, VMI 1901, was much in the mold of Robert E. Lee. Both had distinguished Army careers, marked by outstanding performance, integrity, and unselfish devotion to duty. After their military careers both could have taken positions in the business world which would have brought them substantial monetary rewards. They declined to capitalize on their reputations, but chose instead to pursue lives of continued service. Lee became President of Washington College, feeling that education was vital to the rebuilding of the South after the devastation caused by the War Between the States. At the request of President Truman General Marshall served as special envoy to China, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense. He was awarded the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize for his Marshall Plan for the post World War Two rebuilding of shattered European nations. In a November 14, 1938 meeting of top government and military officials General Marshall had the courage to express directly to President Franklin Roosevelt his strong feeling that the President's plan for aircraft production was less than what the nation needed. It is a tribute to both men that in April 1939 President Roosevelt announced that General Marshall would become Chief of Staff of the United States Army effective September 1. Germany's invasion of Poland on that date began World War Two in Europe. General Marshall remained Army Chief of Staff throughout the entire war. In the Marshall Museum at VMI there is a letter dated 21 May 1942 from General Marshall to Douglas Southall Freeman which says, "I appreciate the trouble to which you are putting yourself in preparing for me a memorandum based on General Lee's experience. Certainly no commander could wish for better guidance or for better lessons than those to be drawn from examples of his illustrious leadership." Both Marshall and Lee declined to write memoirs, at least partially due to their desire not to damage the reputations of others. A few years ago, a friend from John Marshall High School days and I were walking around the grounds of those two fine Lexington schools. We opined, "Think of it- a school named after Washington where Lee was president next door to a school where Jackson taught and where George C. Marshall was First Captain of the Corps. There's no place in America that can match this." There really is no place on earth like Virginia. How blessed we are to live here. Walter Tucker
(The New) ROMA'S RESTAURANT 8330 STAPLES MILL RD. LOCATED IN "THE SHOPS AT STAPLES MILL" TURN LEFT AT FIRST STOPLIGHT NORTH OF THE WISTAR SHOPPING CENTER DINNER- SOCIAL 6:00 PM
Our speaker for February will be Darren Jackson, a local Civil War enthusiast and scholar of Stonewall Jackson. his subject will be "The Personal and Private life of General Stonewall Jackson." Be sure to attend and learn more about this very unusual husband, father and great warrior in the struggle against the invading armies of the North.
Taylor Cowardin with Mike Gorman Mike Gorman, ebullient Richmond Battlefield National Park historian and webmaster of the magnificent web site Civil War Richmond (www.mdgorman.com) gave an outstanding Power Point presentation entitled Richmond Hospitals at our January meeting. In 1860 there were only three hospitals in Richmond, including one slave hospital and MCV. With the advent of The War came chaos. Fifteen thousand soldiers, most of whom were from sparsely populated rural areas were brought together in Richmond. Disease preceded battles. Many of the sick were put up in private homes and in one large hospital, St. Charles. Wounded Confederate and Yankee soldiers began arriving after 1st Manassas. Prisoners were housed in converted warehouses. Some of these became hospitals. Wounded Yankees were housed in the Alms House. They got reasonably good treatment there. Complaints were raised. Yankees were moved out and Confederates in. The Richmond Female Institute became a hospital for Confederate officers. Chimborazo Hospital was opened October 1861. in buildings which had originally been winter quarters for the Confederate Army. James B. McCaw, superintendent, had to defend use of the bath house. Postwar, a school for former slave children was established in this location. Winder Hospital, near Shields Lake (Byrd Park) was established for convalescents and North Carolina soldiers. Howard's Grove was established on Mechanicsville Pike for smallpox victims. Wounded transported to Richmond went to Seabrook for initial triage. From there they went to one of the major hospitals or to one of the 28 smaller hospitals. Some went to tiny private hospitals where attention was excellent. Everybody's heard of Captain Sallie Tompkins and her work in hospitals. Mike brought to our attention Juliet Opie Hopkins, who administered three hospitals for Alabama soldiers. General Joseph Johnston said of Ms. Hopkins, "Her hospital is worth more than a brigade of fresh troops. The 2nd Alabama Hospital is in the East End building occupied for years by Pohlig Brothers Box Company. Problems of supply were horrendous. Inadequate budgets, raging inflation, and the blockade led to supplies being brought in from western Virginia by canal boat. There was also an inability to retain experienced nurses. Slave owners would rent their slaves to the hospitals as workers. They didn't let the war effort keep them from pitting the hospitals against each other in bidding for the highest prices. By 1865 there were five large hospitals, 28 general hospitals, and 23 other buildings used as hospitals. In addition, wounded and sick soldiers were housed in countless private homes. The images displayed by Mike were fascinating. His informative and interesting talk, interspersed with humorous comments, made this an outstanding evening. Afterword: One of Mike's photos showed a boat marked Winder Hospital. My great grandfather Iverson Lewis Dunn was a nurse at Winder from 23 April 1864 until war's end. Iverson started out in the 55th Virginia Infantry, but was in hospital with kidney trouble from September 1863 until he became a nurse. Walter Dunn Tucker
Ed Bearss Ed Bearss, Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service, enlightened us about General James Longstreet in his usual entertaining manner at our December 7th Christmas banquet. He began by stating that a monument to the General would have gone up many years earlier if he had died from his wounding at the Wilderness May 1864. He commented that the monument is small and does not do justice to the large frame of the General. Ed reminded us that James Longstreet finished 54th out of 56 in the class of 1842 at the United States Military Academy. This was slightly better than George Edward Pickett, who finished last in the class of 1846. Longstreet was wounded at the Mexican War Battle of Chapultepec, where he handed the colors of the 8th United States Infantry to George Pickett. James Longstreet fathered ten children, three of whom died in a scarlet fever epidemic in Richmond in January 1862. They are buried in Hollywood cemetery. The General has been criticized for being slow. Offsetting this is his reputation for attacking with a sledge hammer, as demonstrated at Second Manassas and Chickamauga. After General Longstreet's unsuccessful and unhappy experience in command at Knoxville, he returned to the Army of Northern Virginia in April 1864. The clash of Lee's Army with Meade's (really Grant's) Union Army of the Potomac occurred at the Wilderness May 5. It was Hancock vs. Hill, with the latter's Corps retiring. John Gregg's Texas (plus Arkansas) brigade lost 600 of 800 men. Here occurred the famous "Lee to the rear" incident. Longstreet's Corps came up on May 6 to relieve his beleaguered comrades. The Union broke. Union General James Wadsworth was mortally wounded. Grant was so concerned the he went through 22 cigars. Longstreet's party of 11 went up the Orange Plank Road to reconnoiter. They were wearing newer, darker uniforms. The 12th Virginia Infantry, alone of the regiments of Mahone's brigade, was on the north side of the road. Thinking that Longstreet's party consisted of Union soldiers, they began firing. Brigadier General Micah Jenkins was killed. General Longstreet was hit in the right hand and in the right clavicle. The latter bullet came out the front of his throat. He first thought he was going to die. Soldiers put his hat over his face. The Army came to a halt. The General told General Field to press the attack. He lifted his hat in his left hand and waved to the troops. The Yankees had four hours to throw up breastworks at the intersection of the Brock Road and the Orange Plank Road. The Confederate attack was repulsed. On May 7 General Longstreet was evacuated first to Orange and then to Lynchburg before going to Georgia to recuperate. This big man, known as the "Bull of the Woods," was never able to speak above a whisper again. He also could not use his right hand. After the War Longstreet urged reconciliation and became a Republican, being put in charge of a customs house and serving as an ambassador to Turkey. This plus his response to verbal attacks on him by Jubal Early did not endear him to many fellow Confederates. Afterword: Ed's talk inspired me to revisit the Wilderness battlefield, where I followed the tour described on an audio tape obtained several years ago at the Chancellorsville Visitor Center. Park historian Mac Wyckoff informed me on this visit that my tape was still the most current. I recalled with much pleasure that late Longstreet Camp Commanders Hef Ferguson and Chuck Walton were with me on a previous trip to the Wilderness several years ago. On the battlefield there is a nice stone and metal marker at the spot where Union General Wadsworth was killed, while there is only a NPS sign at the site of Longstreet's wounding. Once again, the General has received less than he deserves. Gordon Rhea's The Battle of the Wilderness was published in 1994 by LSU Press. Robert K. Krick (the elder) wrote this comment for the dust jacket, "Rhea has written the definitive study of the Wilderness, better than anything published heretofore and certain to stand for decades as the ultimate authority on the battle." Praise by Robert K. Krick is always well earned and never lightly given. The Wilderness Campaign, edited by Gary Gallagher, has essays by respected historians John Hennessy, Rhea, Peter Carmichael, both Kricks, Carol Reardon, and editor Gallagher. Robert E. Lee Krick's essay is about General Longstreet's flank attack. Both these books are informative and interesting. Walter Dunn Tucker
Brig. General Degataga (Stand Watie), a Cherokee chief, was the last Confederate General to lay down his arms. Brevet Brig. General Donehogawa (Ely S. Parker), a Seneca sachem, was Grant's military secretary and recorded the terms of Lee's surrender at Appomattox. The Civil War Book of Lists
1st Lt. Commander Taylor Cowardin shown above administering the oath to (l. to r.) Will Wallace, Scott Summerfield and Dave Forrest We welcomed three new members at the January meeting! This brings us up to 71 members, 2 associate members and, of course, Austin Thomas, our one and only honorary member!!
2003-2004 CAMP OFFICERS LONGSTREET CAMP #1247Commander: Harry Boyd 741-2060 1st. Lt. Cmdr.: Taylor Cowardin 356-9625 2nd Lt. Cmdr.: Michael Kidd 270-9651 Adjutant/Treasurer: Walter Tucker 360-7247 Quartermaster: R. Preston Nuttall 276-8977 Chaplain: Henry V. Langford 340-8948 PUBLICATIONS Webmaster: Gary F. Cowardin 262-0534 Website: longstreetscv.org War Horse: David P. George 353-8392
The following is a cumulative listing of contributors to the upkeep of “The Old War Horse” for the period July, 2004 through the current month. As you know, our cumulative listing starts in July of each year. Ben Baird Lloyd Brooks Phil Cheatham John Coski § Brian Cowardin Gary Cowardin* Taylor Cowardin Ron Cowardin* Raymond Crews* Lee Crenshaw John Deacon* Jerold Evans Pat Hoggard* Charles Howard Chris Jewett Jack Kane* Michael Kidd Ann Lauterbach + Frank Marks Lewis Mills Conway Moncure Joe Moschetti Richard Mountcastle Ken Parsons Norman Plunkett §* Bill Setzer Austin Thomas Walter Tucker* John Vial David Ware Hugh Williams Legend: * - Multiple contributions § - Visitor Donation + - in memory of Past Cmdr. Tom Lauterbach Thanks to all of you for your great support! We're off to a running start in the new fiscal year!
A bill has been introduced into the Virginia Senate to create a State Commission to help celebrate the 200th Birthday of Robert E. Lee in Virginia in 2007. The bill must first get through the Senate Rules Committee that is expected to be voting on it the first week of February. Senator Emmett Hanger is introducing the Resolution. Please contact his office to thank him for his support, and to offer your support to this important Resolution. The Virginia Division of the SCV has announced that the annual Capitol of the Confederacy Memorial March will be held on April 2, 2005 - beginning at 2 p.m. The march will follow the same parade route as last year. This year the parade will honor four brave Confederate soldiers whose remains will be carried by horse drawn caissons to Hollywood Cemetery to be buried alongside so many other brave Confederate compatriots. Please show your support at this year's parade by participating. The annual ceremony at President Jefferson Davis's graveside will be held June 4, 2005, at Hollywood Cemetery. For anyone interested in re-enactments - the 12th Virginia Infantry will be involved with several re-enactments across the Old Dominion this coming year. For a complete list of re-enactments involving the 12th Virginia Infantry, please go to their web-site at: www.12thvirginia.org Michael Kidd 2nd Lt. Commander
EXHIBITION ON THE NAVY OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA BEGINS ON TUESDAY, MARCH 8TH! Few people are aware that the Confederate States of America assembled a navy from scratch and successfully employed new technologies - including ironclad warships, explosive mines, and submarines - to overcome its numerical disadvantage. Exhibit opens on March 8, 2005 at The Museum of the Confederacy. This would be a great time to join the Museum if you are not a current member! Reacquaint yourself with your heritage and do your part to build up the membership of this great museum. Remember, it houses the largest collection of Confederate items in the world right here in River City!!
JOHN COSKI Great news!! Our good friend, John Coski of the Museum of the Confederacy, has written a new book, The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem. On Saturday, April 9, 2005 from 12 noon until 5 p.m., John will be on hand at the Museum to autograph copies of his book, published by the Harvard University Press. He will also give an informal talk on the subject at 3:00 p.m. Copies of the book will be available at the museum at $29.95 each.( $26.95 for Museum Members.)
Will Shumadine had a big smile for the BIG book he won in the monthly raffle! The presentation was made by Mike Gorman, our guest speaker. You really couldn't call it a coffee table book. It is so big it is more a dinner table book!!! A wonderfully weighty addition to Will's library and we know he will enjoy wading through it.