Writing in the Ashes
by Douglas Southall Freeman
Chapter II of his book,
The South to Posterity
An Introduction to the Writing of
(New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1939. The spelling
and citation are Douglas Southall Freeman's.)
Sherman marched to the sea; the forts of Mobile fell one by one after a defense worthy of Troy; and, on Palm Sunday, 1865, when the first touch of green was coming to the forests of Midland Virginia, Lee surrendered. It is impossible fully to realize now what the death of the Confederacy meant to the South. For four years the two had been synonymous. A common cause never had unified the South completely, even when it was the Confederacy; but the blows delivered on the anvil of war from Sabine Pass to Harpers Ferry had brought the Southern States nearer a welding than ever they had been. Then, suddenly, the South found itself eleven conquered States---each one of which felt itself in a strange manner the guardian of a disembodied Confederacy and the defender of its history. Neither the Poland for which Sienkiewicz wrote nor the Czecho-Slovakia of our own time affords more than a crude analogy. Even while the ashes still smoldered, Southerners began to write in them "vindications of Southern rights," memorials of the fallen, personal narratives and military and political apologia.
Some of the first works on the constitutional basis of secession were written during the five years when the proudest of American individualists were under military rule. Many of their own newspapers fell into the hands of those who usually are grouped together as "carpet-baggers and scallywags." From the lips of bitter radicals in Congress, all Confederates received like denunciation as "rebels." They were disfranchised. None of them had larger security than was represented by military paroles, and some had not even that. Their former servants were their political masters and were incited against them. Around them were all the evidence of what war costs in widows' tears and orphans' woe, in death and in poverty. Leaders in every State felt that where the war had taken so hideous a toll, they should prove to posterity that the struggle was one for constitutional right. So, from many pens, there began to flow defences of the South.
The longest of these is Alexander H. Stephens' Constitutional View of the Late War between the States issued in two volumes in 1867.1 This surely is one of the most unusual books ever written in the United States by a man of high intelligence. Vice President Stephens had a feeble, deformed figure, and was more boy than man in appearance, but he was blessed with a keen mind and impressive eloquence. After the war he received at his Georgia home, Liberty Hall, a number of old-time Northern friends. With them he argued for days on the constitutional issues of the struggle, and ere long he decided that he would present the Southern case in dialogue. He introduced three fictitious individuals to debate with him---Judge Bynum from Massachusetts, who represented the radical Republican viewpoint, Professor Norton, of Connecticut, who spoke for conservative Republicans, and Major Heister, a Pennsylvanian and a Northern War Democrat. With these personages, Mr. Stephens discoursed on the constitution for some 1200 printed pages. In this day the reading not less than the method of presentation has its associations with Job, but every argument on every phase of the right of secession is set forth.
In sharpest contrast to Mr. Stephens' maximum opus stands that brief classic of American political argument---Is Davis a Traitor?2 This little book, written at white heat and published in 1866, is probably the most dazzling product of the near-genius of Alfred T. Bledsoe, Kentucky born, a graduate of West Point, lawyer in Illinois, professor of French and later of Mathematics in the University of Mississippi and the University of Virginia. War Clerk Jones, who presently will appear, gives an unhappy picture of Doctor Bledsoe while assistant Secretary of War, as a groaning mountain of flesh much averse to the routine work he had to do; but when one reads Bledsoe's argument on secession or follows him through the pages of the Southern Review, one gets an entirely different picture. Doctor Bledsoe was counsel for the defence, to be sure, but he was a great advocate and a most discerning analyst. If any Americans are either curious or dubious concerning the issues raised in 1861, Bledsoe is the supreme Southern authority.
Following Bledsoe and Stephens, so many Southerners devoted themselves to the presentation of the constitutional argument that a convinced audience quickly grew tired. Even the Reverend J. William Jones---a man who never heard any story of the Confederacy otherwise than with reverence---had to admit at a later time in the Southern Historical Society Papers that he could not attempt to publish all the Confederate memorial addresses. His reason doubtless was that these speeches usually were a mere restatement of the argument on the right of secession.
Two later incidents may serve to illustrate how far the South went. Twenty years ago a young Southerner was asked to go into the Northern Neck of Virginia as one of two speakers at a Confederate reunion. His senior and principal was a State official born early enough to have some memory of the war. As they made their way on a little yacht to the place of meeting, the younger man made bold to ask the orator of the evening what his subject would be, in order that duplication might be avoided. The elderly politician spread himself in the amplitude of his deck-chair and answered: "Well, I shall relate briefly the outstanding events of the period during which the constitution of the United States was drafted; then I shall trace the pernicious development and expose the fallacy of John Marshall's theory of nationalism, and I shall vindicate beyond all cavil the right of secession; from that I shall pass to the events of the war and shall pay tribute to General Lee, to General Jackson and to the private soldier; and I shall conclude, of course, with a tribute to Southern womanhood." He essayed all for which he contracted, though nodding heads were not lifted at the last to his lofty flight in praise of Southern women---as if they needed praise.
The other instance concerned a Southern staff-officer who wrote one most useful book in the eighteen-seventies and, after almost thirty years, decided to write a second. He prefaced a valuable historical narrative with a long discourse on secession and sent the whole to a Northern publishing house. The editor-in-chief praised the manuscript but said that, in his opinion, the case for secession had been stated so often that the book would lose its effectiveness if preceded by a detailed argument on the subject. After some exchanges, the author had to choose between the excision of the essay on secession and the rejection of the manuscript by a firm that would have printed it expansively and would have circulated it widely. The old Confederate did not hesitate. He demanded the return of the manuscript and issued his book through a local printing house---with every word of the paper on secession in proper place. That was wholly characteristic of the mind of the Southern survivors of the war. Always their cry was, "Hear me for my cause. . . . "
Next to the men who wrote in the ashes the vindication of the South were those authors who memorialized the dead. These writers had begun their labors ere the battles ended. Their children have continued it. Every year witnesses the publication of volumes that are primarily memorials to Confederates who may have been dead this half century. Some of these books represent little more than ancestor-worship and have scant historical value. Others include letters of war-date or early reminiscences that occasionally illuminate some of the many dark passages of Confederate history. Several memoirs of known importance still are in manuscript.
Perhaps the most distinguished of the memorialists was Robert Lewis Dabney. This able, conservative divine was forty years of age and was teaching in the Union Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian church in Virginia when, in 1860, he was asked informally if he would accept the pastorate of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York City. The same year he was offered a professorship at Princeton. He declined both proposals because he felt the South needed him.3 By the spring of 1862, he was a major on the staff of "Stonewall" Jackson and was following the bloody course of the Army of the Valley from Front Royal to Winchester and back again to Cross Keys and to Port Republic. In Jackson he found his idol, and to the service of that amazing man he devoted his whole heart.
After Jackson was killed, Major Dabney was asked by the general's widow to prepare a Life of the fallen leader. Doctor Dabney proceeded to write more than a biography. It shaped itself as a memorial, succession of moral lessons, a review of the Southern cause and an expose of the misdeeds of the North. This labor Dabney was completing when the Confederacy perished. An English edition was issued in 1865, but this was revised slightly for American publication and was not in final form until April 1, 1866. Mrs. Jackson was most anxious that General Lee read the biography before it appeared in this country and, on a visit to Lexington, she brought the manuscript with her. General Lee read it, as he said, for the delight of the narrative---it was one of the few books on the war that ever he read---and to his embarrassment he found several instances where Major Dabney manifestly had asserted more for Jackson in respect to the strategy of the Army than the records justified or "Old Jack" ever would have dreamed of crediting to himself.
Lee had the difficult task of telling this to Mrs. Jackson and, in so doing, he pursued the familiar masculine method of obscuring what he did not think it tactful to say in plain terms. One point, among several, involved a sharp difference of opinion concerning the unhappy affair at Falling Waters, Sept. 19, 1862, when Gen. W. N. Pendleton, chief of artillery, rode to Army headquarters at midnight and reported that he feared all the reserve artillery of the Army had been captured. Jackson went back to the Potomac the next morning, quickly drove the enemy into the river and secured the position with slight loss of men or equipment. Gen. D. H. Hill, who worshipped Jackson almost as profoundly as did Dabney, was satisfied that the manuscript was correct in its account of the episode and in its emphasis on the importance of the service Jackson rendered. General Lee, who had Doctor Pendleton as his rector as as one of his chaplains at Washington College, felt that the artillerist's blunder had been exaggerated.
What was Doctor Dabney to do? He would not accept Lee's account as accurate; but neither he nor Mrs. Jackson would have thought for a moment of writing what the General disapproved. The conclusion was to pursue a strange course: Doctor Dabney struck out his own version of the incident and substituted that of General Lee without a word of explanation concerning the authorship, and in order that he might not assume responsibility for the general's statement, he put it in quotation marks. There it stands today on pages 577-78 of Dabney's Life and Campaigns of Lieut. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson.4
This, of course, throws light on Dabney's own convinced opinion as well as on the esteem in which General Lee was held; but it was not more than an incident in its relation to a book which is remarkable despite the pitfalls that Doctor Dabney set for himself by his inclusive and moralizing treatment. His bitterness offends; his constant assumption that the Almighty was a Southern partisan shocks the present-day reader. The essential accuracy of his book, written in a time of misery and confusion, is a tribute to his memory, his diligence and his mental capacity. Seldom is it studied nowadays, because it has been superseded by Henderson's dazzling Stonewall Jackson, but the fact is Henderson leaned so heavily on Dabney as to accept even his mistakes. As further evidence of the vigor of the mind of Dabney, it may be noted that if he had not been cited here as the first distinguished Confederate biographer, he would have deserved a place amongh those who expounded the principle of States' rights. His Defence of Virginia and the South is a powerful paper.
While Dabney's memorial to Jackson was in the press, General Lee was planning a memorial to his soldiers. In a letter of July 31, 1865, to most of his general officers, he said: "I am desirous that the bravery and devotion of the Army of Northern Virginia be correctly transmitted to posterity. This is the only tribute that can now be paid to the worth of its noble officers and soldiers." To one of his comrades he was more specific: "I shall write this history," he said, "not to vindicate myself, or to promote my own reputation. I want that the world shall know what my poor boys, with their small numbers and scant resources, succeeded in accomplishing."5 In the autumn of 1866, to fiery old Jubal Early, who was preparing his own narrative of operations, Lee wrote: "I would recommend . . . that, while giving facts which you think necessary for your own vindication, you omit all epithets or remarks calculated to excite bitterness or animosity between different sections of the country."6 What Lee desired, most of all, were official reports, returns of the Army, and similar documents that had been lost or destroyed when his records had been burned by panicky teamsters on the retreat from Petersburg.
It developed that his own letter books, which contained all except his most confidential communications to the President, had escaped the flames. General Longstreet's papers for the last months of the war were placed at his disposal. Several other officers sent in duplicates of their reports. The most valuable of these, from the standpoint of the historical investigator, were those of Gen. Cadmus M. Wilcox, to whose thoughtfulness we owe one of the few adequate reports on the siege of Petersburg. These documents General Lee supplemented with many newspaper clippings, but he must have discovered early that adequate materials for the last year of the war could not be assembled until access could be had to the Confederate archives, which had been captured and carried to Washington. Permission to use those records was denied at the time to Confederate historians. Amid his many labors at Washington College, General Lee found scant leisure to pursue the collection of papers from other sources, and, apparently, he never wrote any part of his intended narrative. He may have decided that passion still deafened the ears of the nation; he may have realized the truth could not be told without damaging the reputation of men he respected. In his fine sensitiveness of soul, he may have been deterred by the tactless suggestion that the book would be very profitable. Nothing could have been more repulsive to him than the thought of gaining in purse by relating the tragedy that had been enacted in the blood of the South's best.
Perhaps it is well that General Lee did not write his memorial of his Army. His letters how him not without skill in that type of composition. The revision he gave his military reports, which Col. Charles Marshall compiled, always added to their clarity. For sustained historical narrative, Lee had no aptitude. His introduction to his edition of his father's Revolutionary memoirs demonstrates that. More fundamentally, his character was such that he never could have brought himself to place blame where it was due. Any detailed military work from his pen would have been written in the reserved spirit of his letter to Mrs. Jackson, a propos of Dabney's mistakes, and would have raised more questions than it settled.7
Very different from anything that Lee might have written about his Army was the first conspicuous personal narrative, which, ironically enough, was not the work of a combatant but of a clerk. John Beauchamp Jones was a Baltimorean, born in 1810, who spent some of his boyhood in Kentucky and Missouri and came back to his native city in time for Poe to commend him as one who was editing the Saturday Visitor "with much judgment and general ability."8 Jones married Frances Custis, from the Eastern Shore of Virginia and doubtless a member of the same fine stock as the first husband of Mrs. George Washington. Because magazine editing was not a profitable occupation, Jones supplemented it by much writing on his own account. The list of his novels is formidable, but only his Wild Western Scenes attracted a large audience. This sold to 100,000 copies prior to the war and had the added distinction of a Confederate edition.
From Baltimore, Jones went to the vicinity of Philadelphia, where, from 1857 to the outbreak of the war, he edited the weekly Southern Monitor. He started South on April 9, 1861, journeyed to Richmond, went on to Montgomery, and came back to Richmond when the capital was moved. He had begun a diary the day before he left home. On April 29, he made this entry: "At fifty-one I can hardly follow the pursuit of arms; but I will write and preserve a diary of the revolution . . . To make my diary full and complete as possible, is now my business."9 It did not remain his exclusive business, but the diary was given authority of a sort by Jones's access to confidential records after he was made a clerk in the War Department. Through months dark or hopeful, he wrote almost daily, long entries or short, until April 19, 1865. On that date his diary ends abruptly. Apparently he went back to the Eastern Short and subsequently returned to Philadelphia to negotiate for the publication of his Rebel War Clerk's Diary.10 It was in press when, on Feb. 4, 1866, Jones breathed his last.
Gamaliel Bradford overshot the mark when he spoke of Jones as the Confederate Pepys.11 Little that was Pepysian appears in Jones's diary except for his insatiable curiosity; but much that was no less illuminating than the gossip of the Secretary of the Admiralty was recorded by the War Department Clerk. Full of absurd prejudices---even extending them to so great a man as Gen. Josiah Gorgas---Jones had a singularly large number of military incompetents among his favorites. The special, the well-nigh unique value of his diary is that it holds up a mirror to the hopes and fears of the city in which he labored. Whether Jones had this in mind when he began, it is impossible to say. Neither may one be sure that he realized the certain fame that would come to a man who set down what generals never saw and newspapers thought unworthy or report. In any event, he did this service while McClellan threatened and Grant thundered outside Richmond, and he has his reward. If not in the text, at least in the footnotes, he is more often quoted by historians than any contemporary writer on the Confederacy. He is a model for the emulation of any author who may not hope to write formal history. Reputation and the gratitude of posterity await any observant person in a center of population who will register accurately the daily comments of a few persons daily on the trend of events. The diary of such a citizen of Rome wold be prized above the lost books of Livy.
Jones serves the historian, also, on two other matters concerning which information is scant---prices and weather. He studied prices with the most intensive care, because he scarcely earned enough to keep his family alive and he tried always to be forehanded in maintaining a small reserve of provisions. From his pathetic accounts of his triumphant purchase of a peck of peas and his tragic relation of the failure of a scheme of co-operative buying in North Carolina, one has a glimpse of what the war meant in hunger and anxiety. A student of domestic science could reconstruct a surprising story of family economy from Jones's pages. It might not be Orchids on Your Budget, but it would demonstrate that thrift in the sixties was an art advanced beyond anything the domestic guides of our day have had the temerity to pronounce attainable. As for the weather, Jones frequently recorded rains or hot waves when the historians of campaigns never mentioned them.
Aside from his discountable bias and the display of occasional credulity, Jones had only one serious fault as a chronicler of life in the Confederate capital: he could not resist the temptation of posing as a prophet---after the event. A reader scarcely can blame the poor war clerk for desiring to say "I told you so," but occasionally one is provoked to discover that Jones wrote into his diary facts he could not possibly have known at the time he professes to have recorded them. In short, one has to deal with a glossed text; and, if it were worth while, one probably could identify most of the glosses and restore the original.
One this score it may be interesting to not that while there are occasional glosses in other documents and some instances of the suppression of records, Confederate historical literature is relatively free of deliberate frauds. Doctor Charles A. Graves years ago proved forgery of the letter in which General Lee is made to tell his son Custis that "duty is the sublimest word in the English language."12 The language is almost a direct steal from Kant, but the clumsy and obvious forgery may have been executed solely for his own amusement by some idle young officer who came across Lee letters in the loot of Arlington. Of course one finds endless instances where the imagination has soared with time and distance. In the case of only one writer is there reasonable suspicion of extensive forgery.
While Jones's diary was having its first reading---and not a friendly reading by Southern politicians---a number of men in different parts of the country were seeking to establish magazines that would be a depository of historical as well as of general literature. The aim seemed reasonable, but, unfortunately, all plans overlooked the poverty of the people. Gen. D. H. Hill made one of the bravest struggles with his monthly entitled The Land We love, which was published in Charlotte. The first issue bears date of May, 1866, and the last issue was for March, 1869. It is, perhaps, more important for General Hill's views on education than for the historical articles it published; but first and last it included much of Jackson from Hill's pen, and a series of articles, all too brief, by Wade Hampton. Its miscellaneous historical anecdotes were diverting if unimportant.
More remarkable in every way was the Southern Review, a quarterly which Doctor Bledsoe began soon after he completed Is Davis a Traitor? General Lee had said after the war to Bledsoe, "Doctor, you must take care of yourself; you have a great work to do; we all look to you for our vindication." Bledsoe took this perhaps more seriously than it was meant, and to his magazine he devoted immense effort. Doctor Edwin Mims states that in the average issue Doctor Bledsoe had from three to five articles, and that for one number he write all but one article, or a quarterly of about 250 pages.13 They were not superficial articles, either. Bledsoe put into nearly all of them the rich resources of his powerful mind. His was the voice of conservatism but never was it apologetic. Like a valiant rearguard his face always was to the foe. After he died in 1877, his Review expired within two years, but it had become a distinct monument to his peculiar abilities. Much of it is deadly memorial now; but occasionally, when one turns to a subject of special sacredness to Bledsoe, one feels precisely as if one were talking in the Round Church of the Templars, and a knight suddenly rose from the floor and brandished his blade.
Like Bledsoe, John Esten Cooke wrote in the ashes but not with slowly diminishing heat. He did not write for bread alone. In his devotion to Stuart and the cavalry corps he determined that the Beau Sabreur of the Confederacy should not lack his literary monument and, in 1867, he published Wearing of the Gray.14 This was a series of personal sketches of the most renowned cavalrymen of the Army of Northern Virginia. Judged photographically, some of the pictures were out of focus, but Cooke "caught" Stuart precisely as a fortunate artist now and again gets a sitter in characteristic and revelatory pose. Nothing that has been written since Cooke's day has changed a line in the laughing face of Stuart.
Cooke gave in his book an interesting example of the manner in which myths develop quickly through the uncritical acceptance of stories which recount feats on the border line of the attainable. Perhaps the three Southern generals concerning whom the most extreme stories were told during their fighting years were "Stonewall" Jackson, Bedford Forrest, and Turner Ashby. The last-named of these three, a romantic, fearless figure, with a long beard and complexion almost as dark as a Moor's, commanded Jackson's cavalry through the winter of 1861-62 and during the following spring. Ashby was not accounted a good army administrator and he insisted upon maintaining the independence of his command; but in every retreat and in all the advances of the Army of the Valley, he was closest to the enemy. His troopers regarded him as invincible, much as their companions of the "foot cavalry" thought Jackson invulnerable. In the bivouacs, a tale that credited Ashby with some superhuman feat had only to be told to be believed. After a few months there was no appeal to the modest Ashby for the verification or denial of any of his alleged exploits, because he was killed in action near Harrisonburg, June 6, 1862. Cooke must have heard from some of Ashby's troopers many a tale of the fallen officer's prowess and, in his Wearing of the Gray, he wrote down this one:
Jackson slowly retired from Winchester [in March, 1862], the cavalry under Ashby bringing up the rear, with the enemy closely pressing them. The long column defiled through the town, and Ashby remained the last, sitting his horse in the middle of Loudoun street as the Federal forces poured in. The solidary horseman,15 gazing at them with so much nonchalance, was plainly seen by the Federal officers and two mounted men were detached to make a circuit by the back streets, and cut off his retreat. Ashby either did not see this maneuver, or paid no attention to it. He waited until the Federal column was nearly upon him, and had poured a hot fire; then he turned his horse, waved his hate above his head, and uttering a cheer to defiance, galloped off. All at once, as he galloped down the street, he saw before him the two cavalrymen sent to cut off and capture him. To a man like Ashby, inwardly chafing at being compelled to retreat, no sight could be more agreeable. Here was an opportunity to vent his spleen; and charging the two mounted men he was soon upon them. One fell with a bullet through his breast; and, coming opposite the other, Ashby seized him by the throat, dragged him from the saddle, and putting spurs to his horse, bore him off. This scene, which some readers may set down for romance, was witnessed by hundreds both of the Confederates and Federal army.
To reaffirm his faith in this story, the devoted Cooke made it the subject of one of the woodcuts of his book. Ashby is seen in the act of gripping the second Federal trooper by the throat at the instant a Union column, in most orderly array, is two doors down the street.
Actually, as recorded by Ashby's chaplain, Reverend J. B. Avirett, in a book16 which appeared the same year as Cooke's, here is what happened:
Fighting and falling back slowly, Ashby retarded the advance of the enemy until Jackson effected the evacuation of Winchester, which was completed on the night of the 11th of March. On the morning of the 12th, as the enemy continued to advance, the Confederate infantry retired by the turnpike leading up the Valley to Staunton. Skirmishing almost to the limits of the town, Ashby, as quiet as if on dress parade, followed his men down the street, and though followed closely by the enemy, coolly stopped to take a biscuit offered him by a noble-hearted lady.17
Perhaps the difference between history and myth could not be better illustrated than by the difference between a momentary pause for a biscuit and the bloody affray that Cooke had been assured hundreds of men in two armies had seen.
President Davis was not a man about whom myths gather, though Pollard and others accused him during the war of every political crime short of treason. The end of hostilities found Mr. Davis probably the most unpopular man in the wrecked Confederacy, but after he was taken to Fort Monroe, Virginia, and was put in irons, the entire South was outraged. He seemed to the Southern soldiers to be suffering vicariously for them. Forgotten speedily were all the old resentments and complaints. A prisoner, he had larger affection than he had enjoyed at any time after the winter of 1861-62.
He had this additional good fortune. The chief surgeon at Fort Monroe, and medical director of the X Army corps, was Doctor John Joseph Craven. This interesting man, born in utter poverty at Newark, N. J., in 1822, had schooled himself while working in a chemical establishment. When the magnetic telegraph was invented, Craven quit the factory and joined the crew that was constructing the first line from New York to Philadelphia. He made some of the pioneer discoveries in electrical insulation but failed to procure a patent. Turning to new adventures, he joined a party of Forty-Niners and went to California, where he had no better fortune. On his return to Newark he devoted himself to medicine and, on the outbreak of hostilities, became surgeon of a New Jersey regiment. He must have had exceptional administrative capacity, for he son was made medical director of the Department of the South and in 1864 received like appointment for a corps.
It was by the sheerest chance that this physician, simple, able, understanding and with a native antagonism to cruelty, should have been summoned to advise on the treatment of President Davis. To him Mr. Davis owed the lessened rigor of treatment and to him, no less, the South owed its first dispassionate picture of the imprisonment. Doctor Craven was mustered out of service January 27, 1866. and thereafter was free to write as he pleased. His Prison Life of Jefferson Davis appeared that year.18 Based on a diary Doctor Craven kept while at Fort Monroe and supplemented with reports of many conversations, it was an honest book. Had Doctor Craven been a Confederate himself, instead of an avowed Republican enemy of slavery, he could not have been more candid, nor could he have presented more clearly the courage, the character and the high intelligence of President Davis. He wrote while Mr. Davis still was a prisoner, but in the last paragraphs of his little volume he asked a question that may have had some influence on public opinion. These were his final words: "For the crime of treason, not one of these---not the humblest official under the late rebellion---was one whit more or less guilty than the man whom they elected their titular President; and if any other crimes can be alleged against him, in the name of justice, and for the honor of our whole country, both now and in the hereafter, are not his friends and suffering family entitled to demand that he may have an early and impartial trial as provided by the laws of our country?"19 It is pleasant to record that his fine-spirited man continued a life of generous usefulness to his death past three score and ten. No less is it pleasant to note that in the summer of 1939 the United Daughters of the Confederacy unveiled a tablet in his honor at Fort Monroe.
Mr. Davis found another early defender in Frank H. Alfriend, last editor of the famous Southern Literary Messenger.20 In 1868 Alfriend answered through his Life of Jefferson Davis the allegations of Pollard.21 It has to be admitted that Alfriend was as partial to Mr. Davis as Pollard was hostile, and that he started as many fires of controversy as he extinguished. For twenty years, Alfriend's early attempt to portray the life of the Confederate President, market as it inevitably was by errors and omissions, was considered by the critics of Mr. Davis as virtually his own apologia,22 though in actual fact the book apparently was written without the President's authorization. Only one letter from Mr. Alfriend to Mr. Davis appears in Rowland's collection23 and that bears a date long after a mournful event had changed the spirit of Confederate historical writing.
1 Philadelphia (National Publishing Co.).
2 Baltimore (Innes).
3 Cf. T. C. Johnson, Life and Letters of Robert Lewis Dabney; Richmond (The Pres. Comm. of Publication), 1903; p. 198 ff.
4 Edition of 1866, New York (Blelock).
5 J. William Jones, Personal Reminiscences of General Robert E. Lee; New York (Appleton), 1874; p. 180.
6 Ibid., p. 221.
7 A letter from Lee to Doctor A. T. Bledsoe, somewhat similar in content to that addressed Mrs. Jackson, led Gamaliel Bradford to remark: "This letter, like many others, goes far to reconcile me to the loss of the memoirs Lee did not write. I feel sure that with the best intentions in the world he would have left untold a great deal that we desire to know." Lee the American; New York (Houghton Mifflin), 1912; p. 151.
8 10 D. A. B., p. 182.
9 I J. B. Jones, Swiggett edition, New York (Old Hickory Bookshop), 1935; p. 29.
10 Philadelphia (J. B. Lippincott and Co.), 1866.
11 American Mercury, December, 1925.
12 Reports Virginia Bar Asso., 1914, pp. 176-215; 1915, pp. 299-315; 1917-18, pp. 288-291.
13 Edwin Mims, "Southern Magazines" in 7 The South in the Building of the Nation; Richmond (The Southern Publication Society), 1909-13; pp. 464-65.
14 New York (E. B. Treat & Co.).
15 Op. cit., p. 74.
16 The Memoirs of General Turner Ashby and His Compeers; Baltimore (Selby & Dulany), 1867.
17 Op. cit., pp. 155-156.
18 New York (Carleton).
19 Op. cit., 1st ed., p. 377.
20 Cf. J. W. Davidson, Living Writers of the South; New York (Carleton), 1869; p. 18.
21 Chicago (Caxton).
22 Cf. J. H. Reagan to Jefferson Davis, 7 Rowland, Jefferson Davis, Constitutionalist, Jackson, Miss (Miss. Dept. Archives and History), 1923, p. 563.
23 Ibid., p. 528.