tv The Civil War Confederate General Earl Van Dorn CSPAN October 14, 2022 11:02am-12:01pm EDT
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cox along with these television companies despite c-span 2 as a public service. >> good afternoon everyone, it's my great privilege and honor to introduce the matt atkinson. matt is a native of houston, mississippi, and received a ba in general business, and a b.a. in history from the university of mississippi. and has an mma in -- -- gettysburg national military park. and he will be presenting to you about the fallen leader earl van dorn. >> [applause] >> this is the adjustment period, right? where you find out what the mic is like. or
like hank williams said, one time, in 1952, my good friend down in georgia, hank williams his that is on him and hang williams up to the microphone and he blew in it. and he says well, boys, this works. let's see if i do. >> [laughs] >>. i appreciate you all having me again. it's good to be that. in spots la niña, stevens and rich. i have an impossible task, i will go ahead and tell you, i've got 13 pages of single spaced notes on earl van dorn and i've got 45 minutes. and i've got a man standing in the back. this is such a big seminar, you notice they had the introducer of the introducer. that's when you are big-time, when you've got to introduce the introducer. >> [laughs] >> i ain't got time to do 13 pages of single spaced. so you'll excuse me. you are going
if we have to do a little bit of time to get the 90 mile an hour tour right there. and i need to tell you about the honda. i need to give you an update on my honda. when i came here and spoke last time, the only thing you people seem to get out of my lecture was the story about my electric chair being down and me riding all the way from gettysburg with no back support, with pillow stuffed in it. well, i've got a new story for you if i can remember. all right, so let's do old earl van dorn, i guess i was supposed to do this last year or the year before. just couldn't help, it you know? so, let's see if i can get to work here. earl i van dorn, when chris murkowski came to me and said, i need an idea, i forget
the whole thing -- how the conversation went down, it's been three years ago. but i say, you know, i think i've got a winning topic. i've got a guy that's got sex and violence. >> [laughs] >> especially after lunch. when when you get the slot which you get this sly -- which, thank you very much for moving that i also have to do double floor time here why i keep glancing to stage left, in just a minute. all right. earl van dorn, let's see where old earl is from right here. he was born in port gibson mississippi, the same site as the civil war battle from the vicksburg campaign. born in 1820. he came from a wealthy and influential family. i've actually been in that house. it's in a lot better shape when i saw 20 years ago, 15 or 20 years ago. but i think that picture predates that. his
father dies, though, when he is a teenager, leaving earl van dorn to fend for himself. and so, you know, people -- i was just talking to greg mertz, about 40 years in the park service, i've got 22 in. we've got all these kids in with the government and applying this to earl van dorn, i don't know how much his skill in life, ladies and gentlemen, and how much is who you know. well, none other than andrew jackson, his great uncle of earl van dorn and so when earl van dorn's daddy dies, uncle jack is going to gentleman appointment to west point military academy and that's how van doren gets going graduating in 1842, he ranked 52 out of 68. that would be about where i would fall. in my high school class. or there.
incidentally, though, and i'm saying this for bob crick, i haven't seen him in decades not that he sends me christmas cards but i'm sure he would appreciate the statement that earl van dorn beat out james longstreet for 55th in his law class. that's for you bob crick, wherever you are. >> [laughs] >> foreshadowing the ears of rebellious life, van dorn accumulated 183 demers from his tenure. ranked 210 out of 217. i bet i could rank lower than that. such offenses that van dorn came across was including a failure to salute in passing, tobacco smoke in the quarter's failure to attend church as well as not suppressing the profanity of friends. didn't know you had to do that at west point. the first assignment for the newly minted graduate. of
course they send him to the middle of nowhere. as a newly minted second lieutenant, he had a short assignment to fort pike, louisiana, then fort morgan in alabama. it's collateral duties, sending to the arsenal in mount vernon, alabama and while there, he met none other then 16 year old martha caroline got bold. no, this is not earl van dorn, i don't know why you are looking at that. and after a speedy courtship, they married in december of 1843. carrie, as his wife was called, was remembered as a girlish looking little girl, modest and shy, slight and graceful, and of quote. although mary, carey's parents, did not want to let go of their,.
,,, that's basically the only strip shun description that i can find. but from a historians standpoint, i'm very curious about her. i'd like to know more and i wish i had more to because she's always in these stories -- lingering there. i've often wondered what she thought of what i'm about to describe to you. >> [laughs] >> so much for a sentimental crowd around here. all right. in 1846, you will never get to believe this, but the war broke out with mexico. and he was
assigned -- earl was assigned to the u.s. infantry and began the war in for texas in brownsville, texas. future texas, i guess you could argue. when the american flag trial from the pole it was van dorn who volunteered to dash out 100 yards and re-raise the flag. in 1847, he transferred to winfield scott's command where he earned promotions for conduct. one promotion to to the rank of captain came in april to the battle of sarah guerrero. and the brevity rank of major came in mexico city following day mexican war, the army signed him to various posts, such as jefferson barracks in st. louis. all right? always a favorite. baton rouge louisiana. must have a tennessee fan in here somewhere, didn't like baton rouge. and
florida, surely there is somebody from georgia here -- where he was fighting and pascagoula, mississippi. earl van doren. 1850s, he was in oklahoma, chasing the indians. and in october, earl first 1850, eight he was seriously wounded van doren. at the battle of wichita village. while holding the reins of his horse, i'm going to describe this to you, and i've got a lot to cover you and i probably going to shorten myself somewhere else but i think right here, ladies and gentlemen, in this life, in case i can't finish this program -- but in this life i think this is where the style of command that earl van dorn exercises in the civil war comes from. the time he was stationed in the peace war army. so, anyway, at the fight -- or, excuse me, at the battle of wichita village, while handing the reins in his left an arrow that would probably have hit his heart, instead hit
him just above the wrist and after passing the between two bows stopped near the elbow. i don't know exactly how to describe that to you but i don't think i have to. if that didn't get your goose up after lunch i will tell you this, another arrow fired from below. the opponent was below and struck him on the right side, puncturing both lungs and stomach before exiting out his left side. he reportedly extracted the arrow himself, the arrows himself. and van dorn was expected to die but you know that people like him, and -- who do we add to that, category? they don't die but revealing the tenacity like no other was back in the saddle five weeks later. no, no, no, no, i'm a government man
myself. >> [laughs] >> i need a light earl van doren. workstation is what i need. all dorm. right -- van dorn became known as one of the greatest indian fighters in the john. united states army and he received a silver serving set from the earl van doren. citizens of port gibson. try saying that when you are in a hurry. silver serving set -- from the citizens of port gibson, in recognition of his gallantry. he was also given several swords over his career. one from the state of mississippi. this is van dorn, circa 1860, and the sort he has in his hand is the one from the state of mississippi. getting to the, war in 1860 and 1861, van dorn was on leave when the civil war broke out and he resigned and joined the provisional army of mississippi, basically the state army, remember, montgomery is organizing the confederate states that had provisional armies and so he gets into that
and he rises to the rank of major general in the provisional army of the state of mississippi which means absolutely nothing. and the newly minted national however, he wanted a rank in the newly minted national government, and therefore, set colonel c. in the confederate infantry of march of 61 on april 11th, he was given command of the department of texas, and let's get into earl van dorn. the federal troops are starting to withdraw or more east of them have been withdrawn from texas. but there is one last contingent and van doren shows great audacity or at least, i don't know if i would call it this. he doesn't have any naval forces, as you can well imagine. the state of texas does not have any navy. but the
last remnants of the union army are pulling out and they have a transport ship and it's called the star of the west and to make it such a small world, this is the same vessel that was charged with reinforcing fort sumter in april of 61 and was turned back by the confederates. i'm reaching deep right here. but anyway, long story short, van dorn proceeds to get a transport ship and, hiding the men below the deck, he sails up next to the captain, the store star of the west, and he hails the captain somebody does, and says we're pulling into port, do you mind if we tie up? sure, go ahead. so, they throughout the gangplank, throw out a rope, and the next thing they know, there is a confederate flag. [laughs] well, guess what, you can't have a corvette like that and with a bunch of red next, and they take it for a sale and it eventually goes to new orleans and, when new orleans falls, they take it further north. it ends up, the union navy coming
south from kay roe and st. louis, etc. and you get the other flotilla, ascending north from new orleans. the confederates eventually -- i know you can see that very well, but it's the best i can do for you and i'm really in a hurry right now. they tell the star of the west into the interior of the mississippi, or the state of mississippi. and when the union army approaches, during the yazoo pass expedition -- if you got that, one my hats off to you, the yazoo pass expedition, which i've been writing about, chris murkowski is still waiting on this darn book lord have mercy. i'm going to show you what's holding that book up in just a few minutes. anyway, they literally sailed this thing into the interior of the state when the union navy approached, they sank, it they turned it at right angles and sank it. and guess what? that vessel that was supposed to resupply fort sumter, was one that van doren captured outside galveston,
texas, is now still sitting at the bottom in greenwood, mississippi. there is some trivia for you. now, while he's down there, going back to texas, the good folks of san antonio threw a ball in van doren's honor and after a generous toast, van dorn responded in part to this. now, the only reason i'm telling you this is because i like to hear my voice echo off this microphone. just kidding. but in all honesty, it will give you a good taste of what he was like. -- and it is all, ladies and gentlemen, cavalier, if you will. so, walter scott. i hope you didn't do this off the cuff, but if he did, boy, i'm jealous. this assembly of beauty and chivalry is more than a fountain to the thirsty assist ambition. one smile from the beauty around me here, when kind of
proving glance from the eyes of those here who, like myself, contend in the rough arena of life are more than sufficient to compensate me for all my humble laborers on the tended field. the smile of women and the approbation of men are the earth marks of our lofty a staff operations. to win them, the student burns the midnight lamp, the soldier sheds his blood on the battlefield, and for them, all are willing to die. they are the sweetest apples of the -- i'll never get this. one hesperdites. asperities? h e s p e r i. d. e. a. s -- anybody know a little ancient history? well, guess what? all that convoluted stuff, i went to the mississippi public education
system. what's your excuse? [laughs] thanks for bailing me out. you know we're on live television. allow me to propose the women of the south, the safeguards of our honor, wherever they point, there, our honor lies. [laughs] [applause] there are honor lies. [applause] you can just smell the whiskey on his breath. when you read that quote right there, you are looking at a drinking man right there. beer man. in september of 61, van dorn was ordered to richmond, virginia. when he arrived at richmond, he received the promotion to the rank of major general, making him the scene senior major
general in the south. at first, he was given all the command of the cavalry in virginia, but department commander joe johnson preferred another officer named jeb stewart. van dorn was reduced to inspections. he did his duty, but he longed for action. one eyewitness said that many point full visited his headquarters were quote, around his hospitable board, the danger of the fields were forgotten for a time, giving place to the feast of reason and the flow of the sold. which means what? [laughs] that's the one knock on this darn banquet. i don't get all you can drink. they ought to open the taps up right after launch. i'd have you, all we could be sitting here for an hour or two. at a banquet, given by general james an argument
ensued on the subject of what song should be the new southern national anthem? some suggested marilyn my marilyn, while others, dixie. not van dorn. he argued vehemently for the liberty to wet from i puritan a. the liberty to wet from i puritana. in merriment, he began to sing the stanzas at the table. van dorn could not be heard, and but longstreet retorted upon the table and show yourself, we can't see you. up on the table van dorn went, but not before telling longstreet that the only way he would get up on that table was, if longstreet joined him. and up on the table they went. and joining them was non other than gustavo smith. that must have been a heck of a berth, gusts of eight. and they bellowed the versus as a muse --
looked on. let the words, country victory and honor awaken tear in the enemy. let the trumpet sound and fearlessly, i'll fight courageously, it is a fine thing to face death crying, freedom. that's the best i can do for you. while at manassas, a lady named constants designed a new battle flag for the armies. being the senior major general in the confederate service, and her family also being from mississippi, she sent one of the originals to earl van dorn with the request he liberate her hometown of alandria, virginia. here a note for you. these flags run for all the troops of the grand ceremony on november 20th, 1861. d the reason i put this slide up here and told you the story is this is one of the few paintings i've ever found that has van dorn in it. and that's not gentlemen right here. right here. you can't really see him but this is -- i believe that
j. w. smith. i believe that maybe johnson, right here. i always like to try on. e he was always one of my favorites. as the new year 62 turned over, van dorn reached a new assignment out west. although confederate forces have been driven out of missouri, they have rallied in arkansas. their two principal commanders, bill mcaleenan and stirling price, could not get along. jeff davis sends earl van dorn to unite the two forces. so, this will set up the battle of p ridge. thank you very much. doing much better on that last word. this it's samuel currency, but basically -- i apologize that. but basically, they were under the command of samuel curtis. on the screen right here.
and van dorn ordered mccullough and prices forces, about 16,000 total, which included 1000 indians, under the command of pike, confederate organized indians. to unite for a counter offensive. for his part, federal commander curtis took up a defensive position along sugarcreek with about 10,000 confederate. so, 16 versus 10,000. from a confederate standpoint, you might think they had pretty pretty good odds. van dorn did not wish to attack the federals in their strong position -- you can't see it very well. i can't either. it's down here at the bottom of the screen. this blue, which you see, and that line, which you see, is sugarcreek. so anyway, van horn proceeds to try to flank them and try to attack curtis from the three or. the confederate march was slow,, though too slow to surprise curtis, and in an effort to speed things up just made
things slower. so, in order to expedite things, because the armies were backed up on one road, van dorn hits upon the novel idea that he will divide his army into two parts. basically, he has a mountain, sugar loaf mountain, separating the two halves of his army. now, you should know, ladies and gentlemen, even if you aren't a civil war buff, a military historian, without instant communication, it is well nigh impossible to coordinate two separate forces with the means that they had at hand at that time period. this is what van doren is going to do. now, one half of this army it's going to be under mccullough, and they're going to meet, and they are going to is going to get to focus solely on mccullough's half of the confederate army. and this is near the town of leaves town, arkansas. mccullough has
18,000. a lot more veterans of wilson creek -- they marched out. mccullough gets killed. his second in command, james mcintosh, gets killed. shortly thereafter -- and basically, everything goes to pieces after that. is that concise enough? the remaining confederates try to stand them off, which included the indians, under albert pike. but they eventually are checked by the arrival of fresh union reinforcements, even though seesaw battle is what i'm saying, and jefferson davis, not f davis, davis, arrives with his division and turns the tides. and so, mccullough's half is defeated. as a side note, i just can't resist putting his picture up here as we go through it. these are -- veterans, confederate veterans, and american indians. those are up there.
pikes indian brigade did participate in this fight and the warriors did not fight -- in conventional the napoleonic tactics. basically, they came up, fired a volley, and they ran off. however, they returned later, after the fight was over, and retrieved some scouts. boy, you didn't offer laugh for that one, did you? meanwhile, van dorn wrote with prices left-wing, so there's mccullough with the right wing, and price with the left wing. on the morning of march 7th, 1862, the head of van dorn's call them struck the 24th missouri near alcorn tavern. federals russian reinforcements, van dorn is slow to deploy, the federals are allowed to deploy and their own defensive conditions -- but nevertheless, the confederates hit them on both flanks and they do collapsed the union line, sending them back. curtis, samuel curtis, the union commander, is not done though.
even though van dorn scores a success at alcorn tavern, the next, day samuel curtis, he's got that right there. i need not even explain the action. you can look at the map and tell what happens from here. so your goal is going to be in tactical command of the field and he will counter attack and drive van dorn from the battle of p ridge. hesperdites van dorn it's lucky to get away in the retreat. he's actually, he needs to retreat south, and he is on the northern side of the battlefield. the union, i guess, doesn't know the road network better than the confederacy. van dorn slips around the union flag. he gets very lucky, remember, that because that kind of comes back with van dorn. from time to time, to say the least. van dorn, though, writes richmond that if they leave him
in command, he will be willing to go back on the offense, if he would have no problem doing that. the next step is the confederate government is finding out that you can't defend everywhere along a 1000-mile front of the confederacy. and arkansas is going to be sacrificed. so, after the battle of p ridge, johnson starts consolidating all the forces, including the confederate forces from west of the mississippi. and so van dorn and his command are going to march east and cross the river. they will not make it in time, though, for the battle of shiloh. they will get there like, i believe, two or three days after the battle. i would love to have known what would have happened if 10,000 men that cross the river would have been without johnson in the battle of shiloh. but what they bring with them -- this is just a personal interest note of mine. they do bring the missourians, the former state guard, the militia,
if you will from missouri. which turned out to be some of the finest combat troops in the vicksburg campaign later. if you ever want to see heretic heavy lifting, you look at john bowen's division in the pittsburgh campaign. there is a reason those missourians are called on. okay, anyway, he goes back across, they missed that, in the meantime, though, president davis is not happy about the vicksburg, mississippi situation. new orleans has fallen by now. if you know your civil war history, i'm about to deep dive, here man's full lowell has retreated from new orleans -- up to vicksburg, and jefferson davis doesn't trust him with the last nugget on the river. so, he sends earl van dorn down there in the summer of 62 to take command. that is when van dorn sends john c breckenridge to attack baton rouge. that is the end of the the sdf
arkansas. well, van dorn is over that's apartment at the time that all these offenses are taking place. when i'm trying to get you in a cursory overview is how many places this guy is at in the short span that he is in the war. i mean, no doubt jefferson davis trusts him up until this point. we have a problem again up in northern mississippi. the missourians, who crossed the river, are now under the command of stirling price, the same guy that was a alcorn tavern. van dorn it's supposed to go up there and unite with him, take over, and they are jointly going to attack the real traction of carnage, mississippi. remember, the battle of shiloh was followed at the rail junction at carnage, mississippi. the offensive, which goes up, is in conjunction with robert e. leave antietam campaign and brags 62 kentucky campaign.
so, van dorn is this third leg, some would argue, fourth like of this offensive which is happening right here. here he goes. the first thing that van doren does is march past karen. i know that doesn't make sense, but he marches to the northern side, acting like he's going to go through middle tennessee, into western kentucky. he is not doing that. he turns back around and attacks carne from the north, he is slow getting into position, you hear this over and over, and on october 3rd, the union army is allowed to consolidate and is awaiting his a rival. this is going to be william rosencrantz. a trap, i don't know, there's a small gap in between one of the two union brigades -- the confederate eventually exploit that gap -- and drive the union forces back. so, here's the front lines, the exterior
alliance is the word i'm looking for. and union forces are going to fall back closer carne to. on october 4th, this is going to happen. now, the attack is delayed because we a number of different reasons. lewis a bear is the, he postpones until 9:00. i don't think it made any difference anyway. i always feel sorry for the soldiers. both sides have to attack the strongly entrenched enemy lines. forts, intrenchments -- that kind of firepower facing them, and the confederates momentarily breakthrough at a place called bte -- but it's just fleeting, if you will. the end result is a bloody debacle. and van dorn has to get out of there as best he can. -- loses 2500, van dorn loses 4200. to show you the extent of his losses, this is
part of the confederate dead piled up in front of battery robin that's right here. it's interesting. on the left foreground, the gentleman that is propped up on the very left is colonel william p lodger's off the second texas. if you ever go to court and, mississippi, i hate to say this, i don't know this, i'm not trying to be flippant right now. if the monument is still standing over the square, i believe that's supposed to be the likeness of rodgers on the confederate monument in the courthouse square. if you get there, remember if you can, you know, i was at a seminar in fredericksburg, virginia, out there, and that guy said william p rogers was up on that statue. i figure y'all need a reprieve. at carne, but confederate government lost faith in earl van dorn, no, really, and his ability to lead an independent army. they sent
john c pemberton to supersede him. that's even more puzzling. [laughs] as the new army and department commander, van dorn received a core command as a result. beginning in november of 62, grants begins account offensive against vicksburg. and what happens here, ladies and gentlemen, is grant has not yet learned in his career that -- y'all are seeing something that not many people see. matt standing still. i hope you're and during this moment. i have to be tethered. i was about to walk off. there are two railroads right here. memphis is at the center top of your map. basically, grant is going to rebuild the railroad. he has not yet learned that he can forge the countryside. like they would later. so, he is tethering his army to a railroad. well, the confederate start off -- there are three main rivers that they can defend. the cold water, the
tallahatchie, and the olive bushy. pemberton decides to keep retreating, back to the center of this map, tornado, the albuquerque river. and this is where van dorn it's going to come into play. he will go, or at least, if you want to take a deep dive, one of his texas cavalier will come to him and say general, why don't we ride around grant's army? grant is approaching grenade right here and his supply depot is that hardly springs right here. van dorn proposes, or at least he is going to get the credit, that we ride around grant's army and destroy his supply base at holly springs. this is in december of 1862. i would say this is the peak of van dorn career because he pulls it off. he rides around and surprises the union garrison and destroys 1. 5
million dollars worth of supplies. and grant is forced to turn around. the net result of that is that sherman, his trusted lieutenant, has set sale on boats and got into vicksburg, missionary, but he's waiting on grant to come in from behind, while he hits them in front -- sherman attacks. and that is the battle of chickasaw bayou. so, okay, van dorn is responsible for turning back grants army. now, folks, positive press was now at van dorn feet. and can you imagine -- i hope you're getting a sense of what kind of guy. he's not a coward. he does not send men into places he would not go himself. van dorn would go anywhere. he is impulsive. that's what i sense from this gentlemen. he has an impulsive character to him. and he loved glory. he
loves the glory of war. okay. march 5th, van dorn scores another success at a small place called thompson station. not a very good picture, but i love that jacket. i'd like to have that jacket. i saw stephen lang at gettysburg a couple weeks ago and i wanted to talk to him about that jacket he had on. where did you get that jacket? it's a nice jacket. thompson station on march 5th of 63. van dorn scores a very good success against a small federal fourth. yes nathan bedford forrest under him at the time. and he stands in classic, farce, well, altus let the map explain it to, you all right? you've got whitefield, armstrong, and forest on the right here and all at the arrow just show you
what happened. it is never good to have an arrow with forest's name at the bottom pointing to your rear. that's the battle of thompson station. as a side note, in the midst of this fighting, i thought this was interesting, into the fray. and the confederates were fighting with a seesaw, i'm talking about the front lines, this 17-year-old, alice thompson, not much too much older than you all, ladies. and she picked up the fallen banner and waved it around to rally the men. and after the battle, she attended the wounded. the reason i'm telling you this is she later married the sergeant that she assisted that day. a doctor david duncan. the story does not end well, though. it never does, right? especially when you start off talking about -- alice dies in 1869 at the age
of 23. some people just don't have any luck. back to nathan bedford forrest. i've got one more story for. you you know, forrest never worked well underneath somebody else. ladies, could you bring me that drink here. i forgot it. thank you. i appreciate it. you can imagine how van dorn and forest are going to get along. you want to come up? [laughs] all right. well, listen. we on the way to the beach. [laughs] and i decided, come on up here. i decided there is no use coming up all the way to gettysburg to turn back around. so, here we go. i would like i would like chris maciejewski to know if he's precedence, that this is reason his vicksburg
book is not done. right here. i got one too much over here, but he's not playing right now. >> that's an excellent reason. >> thank you. thank you very much. i guess you want to set before you go, don't you? i learned you people may not think you drink after someone else -- i used to work at vicksburg, and i had 12:12 year old voice underneath me. 100 degrees, 100 percent humidity, full uniform, eight hours a day. you'd be surprised who you drink after -- you get over it in a hurry. oh, lord. she says, daddy -- oh, thank you. i appreciate it. daddy, you're
not going in there talking about those dead people, are you? forest and van dorn can't get along, and reportedly, there was a heated engagement -- not engagement. that belies military forces -- a heated argument between the two of them. van dorn headquarters about some kind of article that came out over a thompson station, the battle that i just detailed, and forest got the credit for it and van dorn was angry -- van dorn said -- the if he produced the author of the article, he would have been recanted right in front of him. van dorn, warning him, quote, talking about forest, the general expressed his conviction of my two great willingness to listen to
stories to his discredit. one thing led to another, until at length, i threw off all restraint and directly expressed my belief in his treasury and falsehood. suggesting that there was as a good place, a time, as any to settle our difficulties. and suiting too action to my word, i step to wear my sword was hanging against the wall, snatched it down, turn to face him, forest was really a sight to see. he had risen and advanced one step. his sword half drawn from the scabbard. and his face, a flame with feeling. but even as i unseated my own sword and advance to meet him, a wave of some kind seem to pass over his countenance and he slowly returned his sword to it sheath and steadily regarding me, said, general van doren, you, i am not afraid of. but i will not fight you. i leave you to reconcile with yourself the gross wrong you have done me. it would never do for two
officers of our ring to set such an example to the troops. and i remember, if you forget, with what's both we owe to the cause. i never felt so ashamed in my life, van dorn said to his staff officer. he went on to say that the true or -- position was restored, quote, i immediately replied, that he was right. and apologize for being used for such expression to him. i wish i could talk like that. and so we parted better friends. and i believe that we have been before. whatever else he may have been the man is certainly no coward. i hope to show -- and this is the part i wanted to dwell on right here -- i hope the show has brought out a couple of things. impetuosity, for one, that is coming out of van dorn. and also, we his love for
glory. and that love also is going to extend, of course, to the fairer sex. even after the bloody, repulsive carnage of the confederate army retreating, van dorn still wanted to turn back and attack the city. sterling price turn to van dorn during this time and says, you are the only man i ever saw who loves danger for its own sake. when any daring enterprises before you you cannot adequately estimate the obstacle in your way. van dorn was also a renaissance man. painting, poetry, and horsemanship. he also, as i said, had an insatiable desire for glory. we come now to the ladies. a mobile newspaper reporter described van dorn as the terror of ugly husbands and
serious pop of. >> [laughs] >> would you like for me to repeat that? because some -- i shouldn't say, never mind -- >> [laughs] >> the terror of ugly husbands. the same newspaper reporter described the following conversation of when van dorn was in springfield. quote, with the buxom widow of 20, after the lively little creature had congratulated on him his recent success, she close by saying general, you are older than i am, she said. but let me give you advice -- let the women alone until the war is over. my god, madam, replied van dorn, i cannot do that. because it is all i am pining for. i hate all men and were it not for the women i should not fight at all. >> [laughs] >> besides, if i adopted your generous advice, i would not now be speaking to you. whoa! now that man, if
he's going to be saying that, he's got good hair. he's got good hair, i tell you what, i'm going to try that. by the time he got to spring hill, in 1863, earl was already first in having affairs. while he was in texas from 57 to 1860, he took up company with a local andrés named martha good bread. [laughs] and had three children during those years he was stationed in texas. during the civil war, there was rumors of an affair with an 18 year old in vicksburg. actually pulled a staff officers letter one time when i was researching at the library of congress. he was writing his parents saying all these rumors are not true. and i'm reading this and i am saying yeah, i think they are.
now, become too april of 1863 and van dorn goes to the home of dr. george peters to inquire about using his farmland to graze has cavalry horses. well, the good doctor is out but while he is they are up writes a lady of the house, and her name was jesse helen mckissick peters. and after introductions, mrs. peters offers the general the use of a cabin on the estate for his headquarters. and van dorn, it's not something he instantly jumps on. he would rather be in town, that's where all the bars are, that's where all the social stuff is happening. eventually, he does need -- and he goes outside. and when she finds out he is out in that, cabin what else is there to do? all right, so -- >> [laughs] >> when dr. peters arrived back in town, he's about 51 years old. he's been out doing the rounds. he's 51
in 1863. jesse was his third wife, who he married in 1858. i'm sorry this is the only picture i could find. she's not 25. she was the local dark haired beauty. witty and intelligent, the daughter of a prominent springhill family and 25. besides the age difference, twice between the two, apparently the married couple were not well suited to each other. can you imagine? she wanted to go out and socialize and he wanted to sit at the house. well, you can see what is coming, don't you? all right, so -- the doctor had landholding in arkansas, which would take him over there, i think he had some plantations during this time. van dorn and her get to know each other. dr. peters was present at some of the things. there was one time when the doctor came home when there was a bunch of guests
there. just not van dorn, and it was a we grow upstairs about that, everybody left -- anyway, rumors or started. and van dorn, i think, moves. now after dr. peters kicked everyone out of the party, some van dorn moves to whitehall. and apparently, jesse was not far behind him. you've got to remember that the people who owned this, they are good christian folk. and when you open the door up and jesse walks through and asks where the general is, you are supposed to wait in the parlor. well, she is now waiting. he goes straight up the stairs and and to his office and they closed the door and they don't come down for a couple of hours. well, you can't have that happening. and so -- [laughs] -- the misses takes sick. put it on her husband to
kick van dorn out and van dorn moves right down the hallway to the martin shares home, also known as ferguson hall. meanwhile, dr. peters, who has been making sikh called, has found out that there is something amiss. and he returns home to hear the story. well, old george peters did not appreciate that. so he is ready to go. and so he goes to find van dorn and there are two versions of the story. one is that he found van dorn at his house, came own unexpectedly, there was a driving out there rainstorm, and van dorn came out and he found him in the house and he dragged him out of the house and beat him up and stuck a gun to his head and van dorn told him to spare his life if he would come to the headquarters the next day he would write him a full confession. the second story -- that's tying it all in at the -- end the second story just has dr. peter's going to
headquarters and van dorn knowing nothing is up or nothing is amiss. so whichever one you want to believe. regardless of which is true, he shows up at headquarters and van dorn is sitting at his desk and i can't imagine van dorn knew something was coming, because dr. peters gets off a shot behind the left ear of earl van dorn. why would you turn your back on a man that meant to harm you, all right? i believe that dr. peters -- it would indicate, and i could be wrong -- that dr. peter was simply attempting to get a pass to get across the line too make sick calls and the staff thought nothing of it, to see the general. and he's nothing unusual, and he shot it. and the, staff he got away, he made it to union lines. believe it or not. interestingly enough -- i've got to wrap this up, you are being very gracious
with me -- interestingly enough, jesse gives birth to a baby girl on january 26th, 1864. would you like to do the math with me? >> [laughs] >> in 1866, dr. peters files for divorce, citing abandonment on the date of may 17, 1863. a couple reconciled a couple of years later. george and jesse sold their home in 73, moved to memphis with george passing in 1889 and jessie passing in 1921. that would be an interesting grave to look up. ironies of all ironies. madeira, but the authors name, reportedly took care of the doctor on his sick bed. that was the point of their splitting in the first place, i'm sure. in conclusion, ladies
and gentlemen, stevenson. the bloodstains that are in the house today. in conclusion, lady and gentlemen, the coverage of the van dorn death was mostly planted towards the allegiance of the publication. the stevenson murder, quote, of general earl van dorn, a conspicuous traitor, we'll strike a thrill of heart through the whole south. pennsylvania's carlile weekly herald says that this man was a conspicuous traitor. he had not a particle of moral principle. he was deceiving alike, friend and foe, falls to his country, his god and his fellow man. and a violent death was a natural consequence of the life stained all over with violence. i don't think they liked him. >> [laughs] >> i want to end this right where i began. it earl van dorn could not be buried in port gibson, his hometown, because it was in federal hands. he was buried at
the godbold family plot. remember, the girl i told you about in the beginning? -- his wife. he's taken to alabama, mount vernon, to be exact, i bet you remember that one. and eyewitness reported as we watch the immense root perception of hurst's, six white horses, a gorgeous a ray of white and black ones that bore the grand casket in which the dead hero lay, with fought with sorrow, the handsome face, him and death, in the heartbroken wife, this cruelly windowed, his little walter was the chief sorrow or visible at his beard. the wife being too prostrate with grief to leave her room. you believe it? [laughs] you believe that? would you show up if you were her? she can read. in november of 1899, emily
miller, with the help of her son, t. marshall miller, had a brother's body to centered. she accompanied -- port gibson for rebury all next to her father and winter green cemetery. fold soon sums facing south, toward the old home. in port gibson, the casket was reopened. and after 30 years, would you like to know what they found? you always like that, don't you? you like when the coffin is opened? the remains were found to be an excellent state of preservation. quote, the form was clad in the confederate gray uniform of a major general. the belt buckles and epaulets being intact and around the soldiers were a soft golden curls, familiar to soldiers on 100 battlefields, as the intrepid warrior road at buck the front of his men and burst into battle. ladies and gentlemen, the earl! mr. van dorn, thank you all. >> [applause] >> not too bad.
i don't have any time for any questions. i have done burned through that. anyone of a quick one? >> as tawdry as this tail is, and with men as the storyteller, imagine the version we would have gotten had his daughters but not been here? >> yeah, that's karma is what's the sitting over here. >> math -- from williamsburg, when you consider overall van dorn to be an asset or a liability to the confederate cause? >> heat like anybody else. it depends on where you put him. i could say the same thing about myself. you would probably say the same thing about yourself. if you have to put somebody and you supervise him and you have to put them in a place to succeed, there are some people you cannot put in that position. in answer to the question, i think he was an excellent cavalrymen. but he needed somebody, he doesn't
need to be in total control. he is too impetuous. he -- i don't know. you know? it's the peter principle. he also, in his defense, he is the quintessential southern type general. he is the type of confederate government wants. he is an offensive minded combat man, is what he is, and i think that comes from the indian fighting which he learned on the plains, when you attack and attack and attack before the indians can get set. you are constantly, it's moving, moving, moving. fast-paced in other words. but his larger battle, as i said, were pretty slow. his cavalry seem to do well. [inaudible] [applause] >> thank you very much. if you are entering american history tv, sign up for a newsletter using the qr code on
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