The Class of 1861: Custer, Ames, and Their Classmates after West Point

By Ralph Kirshner

George Armstrong Custer wrote approximately his good friend Pierce Manning Butler younger, who left West element to develop into a accomplice common: "I be mindful a talk held on the desk at which I sat through the wintry weather of '60–'61. i used to be seated subsequent to Cadet P. M. B. younger, a gallant younger fellow, a classmate of mine, then and because the conflict an intimate and valued friend—a major-general within the accomplice forces throughout the struggle and a member of Congress from his local country [Georgia] at a later date. the upcoming conflict was once as traditional the topic of dialog within which all participated, and within the freest and such a lot pleasant demeanour. . . . eventually, in a part jocular, part earnest demeanour, younger became to me and introduced himself as follows: 'Custer, my boy, we will have battle. it really is no need speaking: I see it coming. all of the Crittenden compromises that may be patched up will not evade it. Now allow me prophesy what's going to take place to you and me. you are going to pass domestic, and your abolition Governor will most likely make you colonel of a cavalry regiment. i'll cross right down to Georgia, and ask Governor Brown to provide me a cavalry regiment. And who understands yet we may perhaps circulation opposed to one another throughout the battle. . . .' calmly as we either seemed this boyish prediction, it was once destined to be fulfilled in a impressive degree."

Ralph Kirshner has supplied a richly illustrated discussion board to allow the West element classification of 1861 to write down its personal autobiography. via letters, journals, and released debts, George Armstrong Custer, Adelbert Ames, and their classmates inform of their personal phrases in their Civil battle battles and in their diverse careers after the war.

Two sessions graduated from West aspect in 1861 due to Lincoln's desire of lieutenants, forty-five cadets in Ames's type in might and thirty-four in Custer's classification in June. The cadets diversity from Henry Algernon du Pont, first within the type of may well, whose ancestral house is now Winterthur backyard, to Custer, final within the category of June. "Only thirty-four graduated," remarked Custer, "and of those thirty-three graduated above me." West Point's arithmetic professor and librarian Oliver Otis Howard, after whom Howard collage is termed, can also be portrayed.

Other well-known names from the category of 1861 are John Pelham, Emory Upton, Thomas L. Rosser, John Herbert Kelly (the youngest normal within the Confederacy whilst appointed), Patrick O'Rorke (head of the category of June), Alonzo Cushing, Peter Hains, Edmund Kirby, John Adair (the merely deserter within the class), and Judson Kilpatrick (great-grandfather of Gloria Vanderbilt). They describe West element ahead of the Civil struggle, the conflict years, together with the Vicksburg crusade and the conflict of Gettysburg, the braveness and personality of classmates, and the finishing of the war.

Kirshner additionally highlights postwar lives, together with Custer at Little Bighorn; Custer's insurgent buddy Rosser; John Whitney Barlow, who explored Yellowstone; du Pont, senator and writer; Kilpatrick, playwright and diplomat; Orville E. Babcock, Grant's secretary until eventually his indictment within the "Whiskey Ring"; Pierce M. B. younger, a accomplice normal who turned a diplomat; Hains, the one member of the category to serve on energetic responsibility in international warfare I; and Upton, "the classification genius."

The e-book beneficial properties eighty-three photos of all yet one of many graduates and a few of the nongraduates. Kirshner contains an appendix entitled "Roll Call," which discusses their contributions and lists them in line with rank within the class.

George A. Plimpton offers a foreword approximately his great-grandfather, Adelbert Ames-Reconstruction governor of Mississippi and the final surviving Civil struggle general-and President Kennedy.

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By what would their destruction be threatened? Certainly not by a cavalry raid nor by the  navy alone operating from the river. The menace could only come from a field army, and the menacing army must be met by an opposing field army. The batteries could not be  protected by chaining the army to the guns, but by giving it mobility. History abounds in records of armies that have taken refuge in fortresses where there was a large civil population. Such civil population is a great hindrance to the defense. It is an  aggravated hindrance when supplies from the outside are in danger of being cut off. In that case the fortress generally falls a victim of starvation, if not to the superior force of the  enemy. Hains goes on to say, It is easy to criticize, but not always easy to suggest a course that would forestall criticism. In this case, however, certain things were obvious at the time. For instance, a strongly  entrenched camp should have been established from which a mobile army could operate on the front, flank or rear of an invading army from the south. The next thing in order was  the creating of a field army out of whatever forces were in the Department of the Mississippi or could be brought there. For this purpose every place of minor importance should  have been altogether abandoned. If not abandoned, they should have been temporarily occupied by detachments only. . . . The field army concentrated in an entrenched camp  midway between Vicksburg and Jackson would have protected Vicksburg on one flank and Jackson on the other. 25 When Pemberton surrendered, there were some surprises for the engineer of the Thirteenth Corps. "On July 4th the Confederates stacked their arms just outside their  works and," says Hains, "we took possession of them. We found they had better rifles than we had, that they still had a small supply of ammunition, but they had  nothing to eat. Soldiers cannot fight without something to eat, so they surrendered. " Hains further recalls, "Pemberton was a fine looking soldier in steel gray uniform as  he sat down at the table to      Page 45 sign the document of capitulation, but one looking at him at the time could not help pitying him. He was a broken man. He had staked everything on a policy of  defense, which he doubtless realized too late was a mistake. He had now lost Vicksburg and his army as well. " 26 Hains was more surprised at what Grant had done: The magnitude of Grant's victory was amazing, even to ourselves. He totally destroyed an army almost as large as his own, captured . . . guns of all calibers, besides about 60,000  muskets, caused the surrender of Port Hudson with all its armament and about 6,000 more men, opened the Mississippi River to the navigation of the great northwest, broke the  Confederacy into two pieces, destroyed almost absolutely all communication of the Confederacy with foreign nations, cut in two the lines of supply the Confederacy had  established to Mexico, and carried dismay to the hearts of the southern people, many of whom saw in the fall of Vicksburg the downfall of the southern Confederacy.

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