tv The Civil War Confederate Officer John Pelham CSPAN October 28, 2022 11:31am-12:30pm EDT
i'm here to introduce sarah kay bierle. all of us here at "emerging civil war", we wear many hats. and we wanted to do a series on the blog, to introduce you to some of the faces around. that way, when you come to a symposium and you want to ring our neck or something or tell us what you didn't like on the blog, you know who you are talking to. you know the background. sara does so much with emerging civil war, her fingers are in every aspect of it. but i didn't even realize how much she does until i read her contributions, my ecw story. but if you look up my ecw story, you will find it. but she has a daily schedule, every day of the week. where she is working on some aspect of the civil war. it's just incredible. so if you like what we are doing, if you like this, make sure you
give sarah kay bierle a pat on the back, if you have any complaints, make sure you take them to dr. --, it's probably his fault anyway. -- sarah kay bierle is managing editor of "emerging civil war" and work that central battlefield trust. she shares quality historical research in ways that will inform and inspire modern audiences including school presentations, writing and speaking engagements. sarah has published three historical fiction books and her first non fiction book, call out the cadets, the battle of newmarket, part of the emerging civil war series. she is currently working on a biography of major pelham for ecw and will be sharing some of that research today. ladies and gentlemen, sarah kay bierle. [applause] >> good morning, good morning. do we have volume? okay, i'm not seeing anything it's saying that i should be adjusted. first of all, thank you so much for being so much for being here. here, first of all. lots of friendly faces. we've got a full day of presentations for you today, including our second one, which is john pelham's,
the rise of the confederate. legend. so let's go ahead and jump right in. i will battle start with the battle of kelly's forward. on this day union cavalry crosses the river at surprisingly kelly's ford, and this is an early movement that union cavalry -- it is significant because previously, it has been the confederates doing a lot of things like writing around and doing rates that are concerning to the union command. as -- even though it's seen as an inconclusive military action it's important to note that it is the first time that the union cavalry's taking initiative. and i see a point in this union cavalry history. so what happened? the union cavalry, which is about 2100 man crosses the river and they're going to fight about
two miles from the river crossing with confederates commanded by general lee. the battle escalates, stewart is actually in culpeper, a bit by accident, but he is there. [inaudible] including a young 24 year old named john pelham, run out to see what is going on during the fight. the battle continues to evolve and accounts can be convinced -- confusing. i have venn diagrams drawn and some of my research saying that this person says this, this person says this, do they overlap, or do they conflict? it's a challenging battle to dig into. one of the things that happens though is the charge of the third virginia cavalry regiment. i want to read a little bit from henry gilmore's reminiscent is to set the scene of this
fighting. gilmore writes, the general sent me to order the third to charge the woods in front. the poor fellows went in gallantly but it was a fatal fate. and i thought so at the time, for that stone fence extended from the road on our right to the river on our left. and it was utterly impossible for cavalary throughout its whole length. but the gallant sir dashed on in splendid style with their long bright sabers raised in point with a wild ringing yell to round the horses and carry dismay to the hearts of their foes. but, when
within 150 yards from the barricade, a deadly fire poured into the ranks, which emptied many of saddles through the column into some confusion. they pressed on, however, right up to the center, killing men behind, and trying to make a gap. but that was impossible for mounted meant to do. and the poor fellows were forced to fall back out of range, and to reform the regiment now looking no larger than a good squadron. there are these cowboy charges that the confederate regiments are making and their other regiments that charge in as well. they are not able to break the union line at this point. so, how does this play into our discussion on john pelham? he is at the battle of callous ford, and some account say that he took part in one of these cavalry charges and was mortally wounded at that time. other accounts say that he was sitting a little bit further from the fight, observing, and that he was mortally wounded
then. but we do know is he is not commanding his artillery gun at the battle of the fort. there other artillery pieces, and they are commanded by one of pelham's subordinates. apparently gives him a few suggestions on where to place the gun, but pelham does not stay with the horse artillery during the battle. i think it's possible that pelham may have participated in the cavalry charge and then been wounded a bit further back. there is a possibility that both accounts might be correct. and i'm continuing to look into that as i continued my research. but we
do know though is that the fragment of a shell from a union cannon entered the back of pelham what's skull and he fell backwards office horse. other officers see that he is wounded and unconscious and they sent him to cold pepper, which is approximately 17 miles away from medical care. john pelham died in the early morning hours of march 18th 1863, and as far as we can tell from the primary source account, he did not regain consciousness. the battle of kelly's forward is a turning point for the union cavalry. it was one of the unintended consequences was the death of pelham. when he falls, it marks the end of his life in the end of his action in confederate -- it's where the legends begin. kelly's ford can be seen as a transition for pelham. it's where life and memory begin to intersect. he is a bit of a legend in his own lifetime, we're gonna talk about that in a few minutes. but when he dies, what stories do not always match up. we will explore that in a few minutes. let's just start off with a premise for today's discussion. that is that a person's life and the
story written about them after their death may not match. there are a few questions that i would like you to keep in mind as we go through the presentation. what are the primary source facts during the life? what is written about a person while they are alive? what do they write? why do we see in their own writing as well? number two, how does this person view themselves. again, that's gonna tie back into the primary sources. and number three, are their motives for different narratives to emerge after their death? so keeping these things in mind, let's jump into life versus legend.
with a john pelham. live versus legend [inaudible] a lot of civil war figures. so i will not make the claim that he has a unique experience. we've seen, this we can put this question to other civil war heroes or even lesser-known figures as well if we wanted. but did it happen exponentially with john pelham? this is something that we will dig into a little bit today and something i look forward to in my future writing. i will post the question, what other confederate artillery major has his reputation, his story, and his monuments? there are places marked for pelham, like had cannons here. they're quite a lot of other stand-alone federal artillery majors who have that reputation will, so how did this happen? my goal is not to bash pelham. i know that some people have told me that i have something against. i'm no, but i want to be truthful about who he was. and i think, when
we see the shiny story and these romantic tales about, him that's kind of concerning. can we strip those away and can we have a more impressive story with triumphs and flaws? when we can bring him back from the status of war demigod to humanities level, then we can better appreciate his character and accomplishments and fighting tactics without glittering legends cluttering the scene. so in the next few minutes of this presentation, we will look at john pelham freud's life. i want to highlight moments in his life to see how it contributed to his elevated status in the confederate stories after his death. and i think we're gonna find that some of them are built during his own lifetime, and rightfully so with his military actions on the battled. but it also comes a story of connection, and who wanted to tell his story after
he had died. so let's start talking about the man and some facts that we know about. i'm on the screen, we have a picture of john pell and when he was about 16 years old. he's looking quite dapper and he's got his hair in a rather unique hairstyle. we'll have to ask what chris if he styles's hair in similar ways. [laughs] john pelham was born in alabama. what he's one of six boys and these boys -- the father was a doctor and plantation owner and the family properties were around alexandria, alabama.
tell him is educated locally and he is getting ready to pursue the next step in his education. his he and his brother were known as the wild boys in the neighborhood. they broke out of schools if they don't like the teacher, the team doubled and learned how to write it. and the neighbors were so troubled by the pelham boys, that they predicted that one at least one of them was going to hang. john pelham wasn't destined for hanging. instead, he had an interest in the military. so he got an appointment to west point, which was overlooked by jefferson davis in the mid 18 eighties. he was also appointed to west point by powerful politicians in alabama. the west point years, for john pelham r. 1856 to 1861. and if
you are doing some quick math, this early in the morning, you will see that he is there five years. what happened? did he get in trouble, was he held back? no. jefferson davis, who is secretary of war for the united states, had a brilliant plan, he thought it, was that the west point study should be changed from four years to five years. it didn't last very long, but pelham is one of the young man who is at west point for five years. it's the typical studies that we read about for west point at this time. while he's out the academy, he becomes good friends with tom roster, we will -- who will later be named a confederate leader as well. they were roommates and when they leave west point, they will leave together. i promise someone in the room that i would reveal what john pelham's first a marriage at west point was. his
first demerit was for a, quote, bedding not properly aired at morning inspection. and quote. his other early demerit's were for laughing at a rank, boyish conduct in class, and relaxed ways when on sentry duty. some of the other young and rising leaders at west point with him in his class where they're at the same time include albert ames, justin a democrat, henry dupont, charles e. has lit, w. henry, patrick, edmund herbie, emory upton, illegal cussing, and george kuster. aims would later recall he, thinking of tell them, was easily one of the most popular men in the court in my time. everybody liked him. i never heard anyone say a word against him. he was that kind of man, the kind of man whom you felt instinctively, here is a friend. now, he was
quiet, simple, unassuming, unpretentious. there was a reserve about him that we got to know covered in inward strength. in his class work, pell i'm would never gain top of class. he struggled with mathematics, but he excelled in the most physical way classes. he went home in the summer of 1858. there is a photograph on the screen that was taken on that first trip home. when he returns to west point, some of his correspondence, his west
point correspondent does survive and there's an excerpt from a letter that he wrote to his brother sam. pelham says, i do not think a man can be strictly honorable unless he is brave. if he fears and cringes, then he cannot fulfill the full definition of a man. and his west point letters give us a little bit of insight into his foundational thinking and we can start seeing as opportunities arise in the civil war,'s actions -- he wants honor and he wants to be brave. and i think that's quote from the west point letter is very insightful in that. way this action comes. john brown's
rate in 1859 was in the barracks of west point, just as it raises tensions across the united states. pelham tended to stay out of the political squabbles and fights. his classmates notice. and in the mid 18 sixties he went home to see his family who had been seriously ill. -- in time to meet prince edward of england, who is visiting the u.s. at that time. others around pelham at this period described him as wise and discreet. not jumping into the secession committees or clubs with other southern -- however, he begins to seek advice of state and national political leaders. and in his correspondence to his family he does reveal that there is a state standard focus of the constitution, typical of the south of that time. in 1861, pelham writes a letter to jefferson davis, offering services to the confederacy but asking if or when he should
leave west point. as far as we know, davis does not respond. in march of 1861, pelham writes, i am not master of my own acts. he is feeling a bit sabotage at the moment because here he is at west point, the united states military academy and yet his home state, alabama, and this newly formed confederacy has commissioned him and he is like, this doesn't work. it doesn't match his sense of honor. his family is telling him to stay at west point and he is so close to graduating, he wants to graduate. what becomes clear in his riding at this time is that pell i'm develops this idea that it would be honorable to resign
his mission and pelham could accept another but he could not hold both at the same time. so on april 17th, after the firing on fort sumpter, pelham doesn't his resignation from west point to secretary of war cameron, and he specifically includes a note at the bottom of his letter, i have accepted no place or appointment from any state or government. so although commissions were out there, and had his name on there, he wanted it to be clear he did not accept them at that time. he leaves with thomas on the night of april 22nd. they
left in the darkness because they were afraid they'd be arrested. he told his friend ames, i am going home, i shall be in two or three fights and then we killed. -- when he leaves in helmand alabama. invite into his mentality into how his actions on the battle bit field may have been influenced? if he
without arms and others without legs. all this i've witnessed and more until my heart sickens and war is not glorious as novelists would have us believe. it's only when we are in the heat in the flush of battle that it's fascinating and interesting. only then do we enjoy it but we forget ourselves and revel in the destruction we are feeling around us. i am now ashamed of the feelings i've had in those hours of danger. the bullets and shells were music to me. i glory in it. delighted and fascinated me. i fear not death in any form but when the battle was won and i visited the field a change came over me seed the war before but it was necessary. we were battling for our rights and the a just war.
the change came over me. i see the horrors of war. but it was necessary. we are battling for our rights and home. it is a just war, a wholly cause. the invader must meet the faith he deserves and we must meet him as becomes us, or as becomes man. >> it's quite a dramatic ladder. that's just part of it. we've seen the shift in its
thinking, but also we see that in other soldiers at this time. the solidification of their thinking about their cause. i think that's important to note. another thing that jumps out is pelham's use of, we will be man. and that paraphrasing, a little bit. he wants to be a man, an honorable man, fighting in this war. and i do find it a bit ironic that he is writing -- many writings about him refer to him as a boy. i can see why we do. but he wants to be seen as a man. so keep that in mind. he tells us why he is class of 1854, and he misses being there with pelham by just two years. he's all fighting in the west, takes part in stopping -- at harpers ferry. he is known for his flair, charisma, has lots of legends
that he actively loves to cultivate and he tries out new tactics and i think that that is something that we forget point to point. well, stewart gets the confederate military organized down in richmond to buy off on this idea of forced artillery. but he has trouble finding a commander. first, he thinks it's going to be cook. koch has had time in richmond but does not have interest in this time at forming this unit. then, he looks at his brother's name, and goes, well, the confederate military, they are not so into him at the moment.
and then they look up pelham's name, pelham has been active with the artillery. he's helped to form and train a unit that is coming to the confederate at that point in time, and for one reason or another, the confederacy -- for the confederate military, authorities, rather, they say, look, stewart will be commander of the artillery. and so in order 557, is transferred to the horse artillery. he recruits from across the south and in the course artillery that goes across virginia in 1862, they had 141 artillery
men, 130 forces horses, and six cannons. that cannons are -- and won three inch blakely rifle cannon at this point in time. so we've talked a little bit about horse artillery. and the tactics. it comes from the european battlefields and one thing that can be challenging to wrap our minds around, is that we know this era of warfare and we say, okay, yeah, horse artillery, they needed horses to pull cannons all over the place. that's true. what horse artillery is very specific. horse artillery accompanies cavalry, and it will hit the gun and move and fire. and then hitch to the horses again, take it to another place, move and fire. so it's not that horses pulled a cannon into a battery position and set up their. this is very rapid fire. it's very mobile firepower. and this is what stewart wants to experiment with, and pelham is going to be the one to find that for stewart's cavalry. and so in may 1862, pelham is finally promoted to captain and this is the first that he will lead the stewart horse artillery. and then at four mug
ruder, he holds the position antilles out of ammunition and the report says that he fired 360 rounds. so this will become a pelham on the battlefield. he tends to hold position until he's out of ammunition, whether he is supposed to or not. now while on the peninsula, someone else enters the scene who will become part of pelham's the story and how he is remembered, and this is general jackson, who had the name stonewall. now stonewall jackson has a passion for artillery, he really likes it when he sees artillery well handled. at the battle of janesville, there are cannons on the left of jackson's line. and one gun breaks according to reports. and it could have been and one gun breaks according to reports. and it could have been caused in battle, things are going on with this one gun.
pelham dismounts and he helps to fire the remaining cannon that is out there. he duals two full batteries to a halt, and jackson is seeing this and is very impressed. jackson sends three more batteries over to position to help pelham and asks who he is, and insist upon meeting him after the battle. pelham is mentioning both stewart and jackson's battle reports, he goes on to some other feats in the campaign in the seven days battles, including battling gunboats, near white house landing. hiring on mcclelland's army from evil tint heights the peninsula i'm campaign in these battles is a testing ground for pelham, how does he and his battery fits into that cavalry and the rest of the army? and there are some things that work with his guns on these battlefields. at the battle of second manassas, at the end of
august 1862, something rather remarkable happens. stonewall jackson gives john pelham permission to go anywhere advantageous on the field. jackson telling him he can go anywhere he wants on the battlefield is a little surprising. and we see this rising trust that jackson places in pelham and on the screen there is a quote of jackson's. and he says if i had a pelham on each flank i, could whip the world. so this is how much admiration jackson has for this young artillery commander. but the anti some campaign and the battle of antifa or sharks bergh, i'm not sure if it's going to be clear on the map but we will try to make it work here and you will see stewart's name out there. and then the symbol for a few cannons. those are going to be under the command of pelham. and steward oversees the command of the
battle days. but their first position is going to be at nicotine miss heights. it's out there on the confederate left flank. pelham will fire some of the opening shots of the battle, in those early morning hours of september 17th, 1862. as the battle unfolds and begins shifting, peam moves his cannons, and this is not just a cannon of the horse artillery, these are other batteries that he is commanding from jackson score and they are going to move to the heights and not so effective and then they are going to move to a ridge behind west woods. so as he is going to the west woods and say, oh, maybe we are going to break the confederate lines, pelham is already waiting on -- ridge and goes blasting into that area with artillery fire. pelham removes the cannon back to the heights and when the
danger in that position is passed, he wants to go forward into to the expos artillery position, and he holds the -- this is kind of fascinating because johnson as best we can tell from antietam, he is kind lost a fair about the artillery position out on his left flank and that doesn't always seem like jackson. could it have gone unreported if he was out there micromanaging it? possibly, but at the same time, jackson has a level level of trust in stewart and pelham. and that's getting played out on the field of antietam. it's also important to note that jackson's chief of artillery, stapleton crutch field, is not the president present at the battle of antietam, he is still on harper's fairy organizing the captured artillery from a few days earlier. so pelham and stewart really go into that artillery role for jackson at
this battle. on september 22nd, 1852, pelham promotes to the rank of major. and in the fall of 1862, he needs to refine his signature move, if you will, for horse artillery. a lot of this is going to happen in the chambers and in the lauden county campaign. and we start seeing that pelham can command all of these guns he has in the stewards horse artillery. he likes to take two guns and go out with those gun crews and to do something spectacular and fearless, and something that really gets the attention of the commanders above him. and this is destructive to the yankees approving him. on october 10th through 12, the chambers berg raid, where stewart takes cavalry into pennsylvania. they will ride 126 miles approximately in three days. they are going to
come back with about 1200 horses, political prisoners and will leave behind them a path of destruction that is about 250,000 dollars. the raid does not have go without its problems, and towards the end, cavalry is closing in on stewart. he takes his cavalry to a place on the potomac river called white forward, and he is crossing his horsemen over. and then there is the rear guard. stewart is very concerned that pelham is going to get captured in this delaying action, but he finds this brilliant delaying pattern, moving his guns from position to position, making it hard for union cannons to find range and he does bring his guns across the river, he doesn't lose any cannons in the
chambersburg raid, rather remarkable. and the last campaign, delaying action fought to guard the passes of the blue ridge mountains -- in the -- area. and this is through october 7th, pelham is very involved in this move cannon from point to point, from high ground place, two ridge, two knoll and keep firing off. one of our pelham's friends and a member of staff writes about the loud and county campaign, he says, we have the opportunity, for these
,. -- -- he is down south of edericksburg and helping see what's of going on, will the union be making in movement further down river? they ultimately don't, but these gunboats are trying to cross the river. pelham it with one of those artillery units helped to drive them off. he can move cannons from points to point along the riverbank and keep those gunboats under fire until the river widens and they get out of his range. this is also known as a key point in his military service. okay, so, fredericksburg, december 13th, 1862. at this time, union armies had established their crossings, they come over to the confederate side of the rappahannock river and they are
getting ready to attack. stewart and cavalry, including pelham and his horse artillery, half come back to the fredericksburg area, stonewall jackson has also come back to the fredericksburg area. and is filling in the position along prospect hill and joining up with divisions from the corps of war longstreet, which was already in position so, in the morning of 1862, pelham gets this idea nothing much is happening. kind of a quiet, morning, it's foggy, but they know there are union troops out there in front of jackson's physician. pelham asks permission and gets permission to take a single cannon, out in front of the confederate lines quite away away, he finds some ground that he really likes. the account say it was a bit of a hollow, so he's using topography to help shelter himself a little bit, and the fog is hiding him as well as the land itself he
gets his gun into position or does the crew to fire. and marshall goes into waiting union troops, out toward the area of what is now slaughter pen field. those union troops are in for a surprise and in fact they are still surprised they think, what is going on? who was shooting at? us this is our artillery man, but once in blue, half a have a little too much? they call it commissary. [laughs] they are thinking some drunk union cannon men are firing on their own men. they think this is friendly fire. who would have a cannon out there so far in advance in the confederate lines? well, it is john pelham. he gives off two more shots in they start to realize, it is not a drunk union cannon are out there, it is actually from enemy cannons, and there are going to be batteries on both sides of the rappahannock river that will start raining fire into pelham's position and they're
trying to get its coordinates -- and they don't exactly call it that, but that's what they're trying to do. they're trying to blow up him and this can then that keeps moving in this hollow, in this area, fire potshot, move position, fire shot, move position. so it's hard for the union artillery to get in a good position. he does take casualties and this is something that is not always told in this part of the story. quite a few of his gun crew are wounded or killed. some of them will later write that they were not very happy about this escapade. they didn't think it was so great and wonderful. but the officers watching from the high ground, the confederate officers, they were very impressed at what they saw. still work is so impressed he thinks that if this is working, let's send another cannon out there. so, he does. the problem was, it was either an unlucky cannon or something
happened. it gets blown up after firing just a shot or two, leaving pelham and his guys out there alone again. and then from leeds headquarters, what is now from leave hill, they observe this fight through his field glasses. and says it is glorious to observe courage in one so young. he also calls pelham gallant. this is the top of honor that pelham seems to have wanted in his life stewards, meanwhile, who cares about pelham and says he cares for him as a brother, is in a panic, because one of his best friends is getting shot by a lot of union cannons. and he keeps ending messengers down there. and the messengers don't want to go. finally, he sends the message, get back from destruction, you in fern gallant fool john pelham. he's like, what? what's the big deal? a company of ammunition, why would i leave? he runs out of
ammunition, i told you it was one of his hallmarks. then he pulls back. jackson is so impressed that he orders stapleton to send some batteries down and let pelham figure out what to do with him on the confederate right flank. and then, at fredericksburg, he says to stewart, have you another pelham? if so, i wish you would give him to me. what happens at fredericksburg, and with pelham getting noticed in this action, at the battle on december 13th, it leaps into newspapers, particularly across the south. you can find the accounts printed over and over and over. pelham is a name that is sweeping across southern homes, in places where news is discussed. he has done of the things that have noticed. so this is the moment that really introduces faust and the north to john pelham. these newspaper accounts are even reprinted in
europe, particularly in england. we see his name is starting to have an international spread. before we move on to the final parts of the story, if i do want to point out, the artillery position at fredericksburg, that advance artillery position has been preserved by central virginia battlefield trust. you can see the photo on the screen, the marker cannon that we have out there. if you've not had the opportunity to visit that site and take a look at the interpretive panels, we do have some sheets on those cvbt table that tell you how to get there from strange ways brewery. so, if you're interested, it's a great place to visit. you can stand there, get an idea, you will see how far it is to slaughter pen and things like that. so, the final winter of john pelham's life. he is in winter camp with stewart, through the winter.
and then he decides to make a trip to orange. and he deceives stewart a little bit to get permission to go out there. he will eventually rejoin stewart at whole pepper around march 16th, 1863. stuart doesn't have all his cavalry ott cole pepper, he's out there on some other military business but pelham thanks, all rejoin stewards and go back to the camps with him. but then kelly's ford happens. they got to see the fight and it ends with pelham mortally wounded and dying in the night, in march, 1863. after pelham dies, his friend dresses his body in a clean military uniform and places him in a wooden casket. at some point in the night, stewart comes to the shackles for his home and pays-less last respects to his young officer. and pelham's body is taken by train to richmond. and in
richmond, his remains are transferred to an iron casket with a window overlooking where his face is. he lies in state in the capital here, you could see washington's statue, and the unique patterns there on the floor. he lives in state, in the virginia capitol. and most of the ladies in richmond will come, hate respects, leave flowers. it's a scene quite similar to what happened that jackson's funeral later. on march 28th, the casket arrives at the family home in alabama, and they bury him on march 31st in jacksonville, alabama. the stewart horse artillery officers wore mourning armbands for 30 days after pelham's death. why did pelham rise in the legend and pantheon, if you will, of confederate heroes? his heroic actions were spotlighted during his lifetime, which made his death a national event in the confederacy.
stewart begins the post-mourning memory with honors to his death. and while mostly based in fact, the language that stewart chooses to use brings pelham into a heroic martyr status just days after his death. so these are a few of the factors that we see in the rise in continuation of the pelham legend, starting with stewart himself. and stewart writes to pelham's father and describes pelham this way. my comrade, friend, all but brother, john pelham was to be a younger brother. if you would know his military exploits, read my official reports, since the commencement of the war. these are his biography and had he lived, he would have risen to the highest honors in the nation. stewart wants to name his next child, john pelham stewart, and he tells his wife this. but his little girl gets the name
virginia pelham stewart. [laughs] stewart dies in 1864, so it can't be stewart alone who keeps pelham's memory. another factor is, did pelham die at the perfect time? i know this doesn't sound nice because there's not a perfect time to die. but the confederate is at its zenith in the east. confederate cavalry is undefeated. pelham doesn't have a major defeat on his record. his funeral is almost a rehearsal for jackson's, very fascinating to look at. and also, i would just point out, in his personal life, pelham was unmarried and to public knowledge was not engaged. so he is the perpetual, young bachelor who dies in the middle of a war when the confederacy was at its height. someone else who is influential's john s dean cook. he writes about pelham immediately after his death and in these postwar writings, continues to put
pelham's name forward. he places pelham on the level with lee, jackson and stewart, top heroes of the confederacy and heroes in virginia. this is the same with blackford. basically, pelham's name doesn't die and he is placed in the top heroes and markers in confederate memory then you get to confederate veterans. pelham is an ideal of the south in the post-war. he it's loyal to his state, courageous, and unmarried, which allows for every possible romantic story to appear, whether true or not. around 1912, some of the confederate veterans and sons of confederate veterans had a obsession with pelham and someone had special meeting gavels made from wood taken from the room where pelham was supposedly born. pelham continues to be placed in the highest and favourite levels of confederates heroes, and this allows his name to continue in the reminiscence and become
part of the confederate novels and stories of the era. one of the real challenges is pelham's lost letters. the simple fact is, the majority of the letters, particularly his war era writings, were lost in the early 20th century. there have been efforts made by researchers to recover them, but so far they have been unsuccessful. and through this, pelham lost his voice beyond the grave, if you will, and researchers have lost the insights that he wrote to his family. finally, we have the biographers. due to the loss letters, biographers have eased a lot of secondary sources and interviews that were long after pelham's life and death, and then they've made best guesses to piece together his life. along the way, these best intentioned authors wrote uncited stories at best and fictions at worst. this is a challenge, because those stories keep being repeated and
repeated, anytime a book is written, generally speaking. so we come back to our premise, as we are wrapping up. of course, we delight in the stories written about him after the death, and these may not match. but primary sources for pelham are limited, making it hard to find his personal feelings and the credible sources that are still available. how did pelham view himself? he was fearless and he wanted honor. are their motives for a different narrative to emerge after his death? possibly. pelham wanted honor and glory and he wanted to live fearlessly. his understanding of glory changes at manassas and perhaps at other points in the war. he believes in the southern reasons for fighting and his life gives a perfect pattern for the ideal young confederate officer. and what could missing could be easily added as the decades past. as i started researching in 2019, the life --
and have been thinking through archives, old fiction books backed by mid, and strange techniques ever since, when i started, i had no idea how many rabbit trails and how much controversy i would find. and i'm still piecing things together for a book in the "emerging civil war" civil war series. now that that pandemic restrictions may be easing, i will hopefully be able to finish the archive readings and complete the manuscript sooner rather than later. one of the challenges i've given myself with this project is to separate the life from the legend. they crossed that points and even during his life, but he -- who was he? why did he make the decisions he made? what did the primary sources during his life say? and how did this affect hold up to the writing after his death? the theme of this symposium is fallen leaders that talk about his death and memory. as we close the presentation, i want you to remember that he
really lived. he was 24 years old when he died. but in those short years of life, we have to remember him in the military eye. the concept of -- helps us to remember the humanity of a historic figure. for pelham, citable facts tell us that he laughed, got the merits, he read his bible, he wrote to his parents, brother, and little sister, he had military manuals and treatises, he fired cannons, he got angry, he >> wept, he organized artillery. he fought battles and dozens of lesser-known and unnamed skirmishes, receiving commendation from leaders from the army of northern virginia. he lived a life full of principles that he believed in and had the courage to act upon them, the foresight to use innovative tactics and the ability to command. he really lived until the day an artillery shell fragment pierced his skull and struck him senseless into death and
eternity. [applause] >> we've got time for maybe one or two questions. remember, tell us your name and where you are. from >> chris forward, locust grove. what happened to all his brothers? >> his brothers fought for the confederacy and other units, mostly in the western theater. that be a great blog post, wouldn't it? i should do that some time! [laughs] >> -- from frederick. regarding pelham at antietam, at the end of the day, when they try to make that move around the northern flank, and william pogue was not as impressed with pelham, his impetuousness. do you think there is a degree of impetuousness in pelham's nature, which we see throughout his military career? >> definitely, he is impetuous,
he likes to go in exposed positions. and yes, he likes to get a bit of a hand slap from some of the other officers watching in antietam, and at the end of the day in antietam, i do not count every one of pelham's fine moments. >> yes, daniel clements from washington d. c.. you mentioned the lost letters. do we know what happened? >> it's a bit of a saga. the family had his letters and his sister loan them to someone who call themselves a researcher. and they were either lost in the mail, as the researcher claimed, or he potentially took them. but others reached out to this individual, in the early 20th century, and he claimed to have no idea. so there's a bit of a mystery. >> dr. john -- washington, d.c.. d.c. roundtable.
our second president was [inaudible] anyhow, i just read john madison's book about fredericksburg. >> yes! >> pelham being one of the characters, i think it's thesis, which you touched on, maybe fredericksburg gave him the the idea that he could get away with things like kelly's ford. is that your impression as well? >> a little bit. one thing that i would question back a little bit, how is pelham fitting in with other officers to engage in his position and can we look and see other examples? yes, he is impetuous. he is going out and doing things that are like, yeah, he thought about that a bit more. but this is the time in which he lived. and the military culture that he is in at that point. it's very much go forward and distinguish yourself and i think what
happened at the chambers berger raid, in loudoun county, sets the groundwork for what happened in fredericksburg. so this can be an overworked connection as well. >> one final question. >> ted williams from williamsburg in the life of pelham, when you consider consider his life chivalrous or ultimately doomed? a byproduct of a lost cause during the civil war? >> that is a good question, one i am addressing long term in my writings. i don't think, pelham was doomed from the start. i think what happened that kelly's ford, if he could have said something, you know, from the grave, which of course does not happen -- i think he would've been surprised that he died at kelly ford! it's not the place we would have thought he would have died. was he doomed by the mentality of his era? i don't believe so. and i will explain
that further in writing. thank you. [laughs] [applause] american history tv, saturdays on c-span, to exploring the people on the fence that tell the american story. at 12:30 pm eastern, on the presidency, top speaker nancy pelosi, along with the missouri congressional -- reveal a statue of harry truman to the u.s. rotundum. -- marks the 50th anniversary of the return of american p.o.w.'s from vietnam, 1973 author alvin tao moye talks about their harrowing experience. the work of the national league of p.o.w. mia families, to bring them home. exploring the american story, watch american history tv, saturdays, on c-span two. and find the schulin your program guide, or watch online,
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