Chad Comello

Librarian, cinephile, et al

Tag: Civil War 150

Jubal Early

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

There’s so much Civil War in this guy it makes me want to cry. “Old Jube” (as Robert E. Lee would later come to call him) and his brawny beard fought early and often in the war between the states, but for reasons you wouldn’t suspect from an eventual Southern fire-breather. But before all that silly war stuff, Early graduated from West Point in 1837 ranked eighteenth (like his Union counterpart Rufus Saxton) in his class of fifty. After a brief stint in an artillery regiment, Early took up law for a while before returning to the military for the Mexican War.

But when the war drums started beating in his home state of Virginia, Early was an unlikely opponent of secession; that is until Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to fight the South—that pissed him off mightily. Soon Brigadier General Early was on a greatest hits tour of all the key battles: Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg. He even spearheaded a Lee-ordered run on Washington D.C., which was eventually swatted back by General Grant’s reinforcements. The rest of the war was downhill for Early: defeated by Sheridan, he fled to Mexico and then to Canada, where he wrote his “Lost Cause” tinged memoirs about the “war of independence.”

Lucky for Early, upon his arrival back in the States the Southern-sympathizing President Johnson issued him a pardon, which allowed him to resume his law career.

Up next on CCWN, the glory-bound GOUVERNEUR KEMBLE WARREN.

(sources: 1, 2) (image)

Rufus Saxton

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

Saxton was, in the argot of youth, the bomb diggity. A Massachusetts native, his father was a transcendentalist, feminist, and abolitionist, which helped form Rufus’ anti-slavery sentiments from a young age. He graduated from West Point eighteenth in this class, then spent the rest of his antebellum days fighting the Seminoles in Florida, teaching at West Point, and surveying the Rocky Mountains for the Northern Pacific Railroad with none other than Mr. It’s-Everyone-Else’s-Fault, George McClellan.

And then, as the future Great Emancipator said, the war came. Saxton joined up with McClellan’s staff until partaking in what would become a pivotal moment in his career: leading a defense as brigadier general at Harper’s Ferry to push back Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah campaign. Saxton would receive the Medal of Honor for his work there, specifically for “distinguished gallantry and good conduct in the defense.”

But he didn’t stop there. Tasked with raising the first regiment of liberated slaves, Saxton put together the 1st South Carolina Colored Volunteers and helped organize the post-Emancipation recruitment of black soldiers. He continued along this line of work until the war ended, after which he gradually moved up the ranks before retiring to Massachusetts a colonel and all-around cool guy.

Up next in CCWN, the je ne sais quoi JUBAL EARLY.

(source: 1, 2)

Samuel C. Pomeroy

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

You get the feeling like this guy was the Mitt Romney of the Civil War era, because he did some good things but then kept managing to screw himself over. Born in Massachusetts, he served in the state House of Representatives for one year before joining ranks with the anti-slavery movement. But he wasn’t some foot soldier; after the Kansas-Nebraska Bill was passed he up and moved to Kansas as part of the abolition crusade and employee of the New England Emigrant Aid Company. He also served as a town mayor and helped out with famine relief in 1861.

If only he’d stopped there. Because throughout the ’50s and through the Civil War as well, Pomeroy got involved in a lot of shady investment deals with railroads, coal mines, bridges, etc., so much so that the 1860 federal census in Kansas called him “The Speculator.” The problem with all this is when he tried to run for Senate, he’d already made a lot of enemies. Money quote from one of those enemies, John Ingalls: “If abdomen was a test he [Pomeroy] would be sure to triumph, but as brains enter into the contest some what, his chances are small.”

Still, he was selected in 1861 and served until 1873 when he was accused of buying votes in the legislature and replaced as senator by none other than John Ingalls. Ouch.

The man lives on, though, as the fictionalized inspiration for a corrupt politician in Mark Twain’s The Guilded Age. Can’t get much better than Mark Twain, right?

Up next in CCWN, the stouthearted RUFUS SAXTON.

(source: 1)

Zebulon Baird Vance

Part of the Cool Civil War Names series.

This guy had ambition. Studying law by 21 and in the North Carolina House of Commons by 24, Vance made friends and won elections with his oratorical skills and soon entered Congress as the youngest legislator and one of the few Southern supporters of the Union. This is 1860, mind you, and Vance’s fire-breathing neighbors to the south are calling for secession. Yet once his home state voted in favor of it, he resigned his seat and returned and raised a company of soldiers dubbed the “Rough and Ready Guards.” He fought his way up to colonel and by 1862 was on the gubernatorial ballot as the “soldier’s candidate.” It’s tough beating a popular soldier during wartime, so he won handily and left his regiment just before it was decimated at Gettysburg.

His time as governor was noteworthy for a few reasons: he pissed off the Richmond crew because of his insistence on local self-governance, meaning he didn’t always play along with the rest of the Confederacy. North Carolina was the only rebel state to keep its civilian courts open and observe habeas corpus, and Vance refused to let blockade runners pass through until Carolinians had their share. That was all well and good until the war ended and Vance was arrested and imprisoned for a time (that whole rebellion thing usually backfires). No worries though – he was paroled eventually and went back to governating to much popular acclaim.

Up next in CCWN, the scandalous Samuel Clarke Pomeroy. 

(Source: 1) (Image credit)

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