My ancestor at Shiloh: A photo essay

On this day 149 years ago, my great-great-great-grandfather, 1st Lt. David Poindexter Reeves of Company C, 28th Tennessee Infantry (2nd Mountain Volunteers), CSA, died in valiant battle near Shiloh Church in Hardin County, Tennessee.  At age 43 and before the conscription acts, 1st Lt. Reeves must not have entered Confederate service lightly; though I have not found evidence of the exact reason, he certainly must have believed in the cause.  He and his North Carolinian / Tennessean lineage were successful, though not Southern aristocratic, and nobody owned slaves; a son later described him as “a farmer and stock trader … a very successful man in all his business transactions, and [he] grew to be quite wealthy” (see: Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas). This might have given him standing in the community and led to his rank as 1st Lieutenant, but that is just a guess.  From a book about his lineage, I can gather that the family was openly prideful and boisterously fun-loving, so those traits must have been influential in his decision on the whole to return to Overton County, TN, from Texas and enlist in late 1861.  Of note, his future son-in-law, William R. Smith, my great-great-grandfather, also joined the same Company, but I have no proof that Smith, who lied about his age so that he could be old enough to enlist, fought at Shiloh; that said, I also have no reason to believe he didn’t.

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit the Shiloh battlefield with my in-laws.  Needless to say, it was especially moving.  Here are some of the pictures I took:

The field from which the Confederate Army approached Shiloh early in the morning of April 6, 1862

The "Peach Orchard" from the vantage point of 1st Lt. Reeves

The Confederate right of the Peach Orchard, where Hardee's Corps and Breckinridge's reserves held ground

The sign next to the cannon about the 28th Tennessee

Though I don't know for sure, I would posit that 1st Lt. Reeves was killed in Breckinridge's charge across the Orchard; imagine running across this field, at the time consisting of an orchard full of shot-up peach trees, and meeting destiny

The Peach Orchard from the Union view; shots from here likely killed 1st Lt. Reeves, who would be coming from the left of this vantage point

Same as above, but zoomed-in on the opposing Confederate line

A marker at one of several Confederate soldier burial trenches, this one being closest to the orchard

The plaque with the marker

The entire burial trench with a proud and somewhat-appropriately limp Stars and Bars

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Opening Day and the Civil War: April Fools?

Where the Civil War meets the first 10,000 fans to enter the ballpark.

How many of you baseball fans knew that Abner Doubleday not only invented baseball but that he was also a key officer for the Union at Fort Sumter during the crisis of 1860-1861? If you said, “I did!” then you’ve probably been fooled! Most of us “know” that he invented what is now America’s national pastime, but few fans have heard of his key role in the Civil War (granted, readers of this blog are more likely to take the opposite stance, I suppose).  But while Doubleday most certainly was a Captain at the fort, next in rank to Major Anderson, his inventing of baseball is, well, a bit less certain.  Take a look at his Wikipedia page and the page about inventing baseball and make your own judgment. Has the public been fooled all this time? Either way, every Opening Day serves as a great opportunity to reflect on Doubleday’s service, Fort Sumter and the Civil War itself, and things like baseball that are uniquely ours and unite us as Americans.  GO WHITE SOX!!!

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How to run an immediate-need welfare program

Imagine a welfare program without legions of bureaucrats making rules and ordering people’s lives. Imagine a program that draws on citizens’ voluntary generosity and the opportunity to do well by doing good. No imagination necessary. It happened in 1781, and it’s the subject of my new post over at Thanks to WWTFT for the intro.

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“Facts” regarding the lower strata of society

One of the reasons that I began studying the Civil War era was the sheer magnitude of human passion shown by both sides.  A wonderful example of this is a recently uncovered letter written to the official Confederate Historian of South Carolina, John A. Chapman, in 1893. Around that time, the Historian’s office had reached out to living Confederate Veterans asking them to help compile rosters and rolls of each South Carolina unit that existed during the Civil War.  Apparently, the roll of Company K, 24th SC Volunteer Infantry, as sent in by R. A. Cochran, prompted some questions from Chapman; but far more interesting than those questions was the Brevet 2nd Lieutenant’s response (emphasis original):

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Federalist No. 1: The Importance of “We the People”

One of the best arguments to help us understand some of the frustrations with our current government comes from very first Federalist Paper, Federalist No. 1, written by Alexander Hamilton. “We the People” are the very first words to the United States Constitution, setting the tone for the American Experiment. It’s only fitting, then, to examine the ideas from the very first Federalist essay in order to understand their true importance, even into our day.  This is the subject of my latest article on; please click on over and enjoy!

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