Book Chat
Covered With Glory
The 26th NC Infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg
By
Rod Gragg

This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 1/15/06 and covered Chapters 1 & 2

1/15/2006 9:04 pm (et) Basecat: Welcome Back to the Sunday Night Book Chat. Hope all had a nice vacation.:) Tonight we start to discuss Covered With Glory: The 26th NC Infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg by Rod Gragg.

1/15/2006 9:06 pm (et) Basecat: :) Been awhile and forgot how to proceed. Comments and thoughts on the first chapter?

1/15/2006 9:07 pm (et) Babs: Certainly an easier read than Pfanz

1/15/2006 9:07 pm (et) Teej Smith: Gragg tends to repeat the "party line" that most Southerners were neither secessionists or believed in slavery. That being true that were they doing there?

1/15/2006 9:07 pm (et) ks: I'd comment on the Acknowledgments. As I said, I know little about the Tar Heels or most anything Carolina. That's my loss, I know, Teej. I very much enjoyed Gragg's descriptions of time spent with grandparents in the Blue Ridge. That warmed me right up to wanting to see what he'd have to say about the regiment.

1/15/2006 9:08 pm (et) ks: And AMEN again, Babs. I feared it might be like Day 2 on Pfanz and didn't see how I'd have time to struggle through it. But so far...really much easier and (for me) more interesting as well.

1/15/2006 9:09 pm (et) Basecat: Teej...He was playing the angle that they did not like to be invaded, and thus went off to defend their land.

1/15/2006 9:09 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Was just typing the same thing. Opening of the book reeled me in completely.:)

1/15/2006 9:09 pm (et) Teej Smith: :-) for my state. :-)

1/15/2006 9:11 pm (et) Teej Smith: This is my first time in the discussion so if I do it wrong let me know.

1/15/2006 9:12 pm (et) Teej Smith: I thought it was interesting that Gragg didn't comment on the fact that the same man who helped Vance get into office did every thing he could to take that office away from him in 1864.

1/15/2006 9:12 pm (et) ks: Plunge right in, Teej. Main thing is to try to stay with section of book being discussed and not jump ahead. Plumb takes the surprise out of it for those of us who've stayed with the assigned reading.

1/15/2006 9:13 pm (et) Babs: Maybe that will come up later.

1/15/2006 9:13 pm (et) Basecat: Teej, A fine point, but getting ahead a bit. :)

1/15/2006 9:13 pm (et) Teej Smith: Sorry.

1/15/2006 9:13 pm (et) ks: *covers eyes*

1/15/2006 9:13 pm (et) ks: ;)

1/15/2006 9:15 pm (et) Teej Smith: Do you think Burgwyn was so tough on the men because of his youth?

1/15/2006 9:15 pm (et) Basecat: Folks like Burgwyn were very important to the Southern Army. He had the valuable talent of knowing how to drill and get his men ready for the upcoming battles. The South took more advantage of those who had military schooling, and utilized them as best they could, even someone as youthful as Burgwyn was at the start of the War.

1/15/2006 9:16 pm (et) Babs: His writing style is very straightforward. I did not get slowed down with any cumbersome language. Maybe it doesn't paint as lovely pictures as some of the books we have read, but it does not confound either.

1/15/2006 9:16 pm (et) Basecat: Teej, More like he was tough on them because he was a soldier, and that is what he was taught. Sorta reminded me of Jackson at the start of the war.

1/15/2006 9:16 pm (et) ks: I'm embarrassed to admit this, but it only goes to show how limited my experience with reading about N Carolina has been to this point. I found myself surprised to read that Vance had been a soldier. No, I'm not kidding. :( The phrase "Gov. Zebulon Vance" is what has stuck in my mind through the years.

1/15/2006 9:16 pm (et) Teej Smith: Yes, I've read that boys of 15 and 16 were taken out of military schools to train men in their 20's-40's.

1/15/2006 9:17 pm (et) Basecat: Babs. Agreed...and thought it is very well written thus far.

1/15/2006 9:17 pm (et) Teej Smith: I'm sure Mr. Davis had other names for Vance. :-)

1/15/2006 9:17 pm (et) ks: Base, I too made the comparison in my mind of Burgwyn to Jackson.

1/15/2006 9:18 pm (et) Teej Smith: But Jackson had practical experience, Henry B. didn't.

1/15/2006 9:18 pm (et) Basecat: ks...They came from the same stock in terms of how to do things soldier wise.

1/15/2006 9:18 pm (et) Babs: KS, I know less than you (in case it is a contest). I had never heard of Vance in any capacity.

1/15/2006 9:19 pm (et) Basecat: Teej, Must correct, and can see why at first he was not all that popular with the boys of the 26th. Also shows that Vance should not have been in command at all, as he left all the dirty work to Burgwyn to do, while Vance rode around and am still trying to figure out just what he was doing..:)

1/15/2006 9:20 pm (et) Basecat: oops...Most correct.

1/15/2006 9:20 pm (et) ks: Did I mention I've really missed you, Babs? ;)

1/15/2006 9:20 pm (et) Teej Smith: If I answer you, Steve, I'll be jumping ahead. :-)

1/15/2006 9:21 pm (et) Babs: KS, Thanks :^)

1/15/2006 9:21 pm (et) Basecat: BTW, They sure seem to have graduated quite early from UNC. I know Burgwyn was smart, but 2 years to get a degree. Had to be very uncommon.

1/15/2006 9:22 pm (et) Basecat: Teej, Just my thought here, he was using the command to drum up support for his political ambitions.

1/15/2006 9:23 pm (et) Teej Smith: Could be, Steve. Vance was a political animal.

1/15/2006 9:23 pm (et) Basecat: BTW, at this time, Not that much detailed drill going on in the Union Army...Not to the extant of drill that the 26th experienced under Burgwyn.

1/15/2006 9:24 pm (et) Teej Smith: That seemed to be a common theme among N.C. regiments, Steve.

1/15/2006 9:24 pm (et) ks: Pettigrew seemed to be of that same brilliant stock from what we've read. But I'm jumping chapters.

1/15/2006 9:24 pm (et) Basecat: Teej...Most he did before they actually fought, was get the Regiment a band..:)

1/15/2006 9:25 pm (et) Basecat: ks...:) Pettigrew is still, in some circles, called the smartest Tar Heel ever. :)

1/15/2006 9:25 pm (et) Teej Smith: LOL, Steve. Like Roy Williams, he was a good recruiter. :-)

1/15/2006 9:25 pm (et) ks: But that was quite the accomplishment in building morale. Moravian musicians...I'm glad to have that information on the regimental band included.

1/15/2006 9:25 pm (et) Teej Smith: You mean General Reverence N. Awe?

1/15/2006 9:26 pm (et) ks: Oh, now those two words have become dirty words in some parts (like a certain Abolitionist stronghold up north of me). ;)

1/15/2006 9:26 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Especially the letter on just how many pieces they would play etc. Interesting stuff, and had no clue they even had a band.

1/15/2006 9:27 pm (et) Basecat: Teej...Was thinking of Dean Smith, but guess we are on the same wavelength..:)

1/15/2006 9:27 pm (et) Teej Smith: Old Salem still honors that band every year with a re-enactment of their receiving their flag from the ladies of Salem.

1/15/2006 9:28 pm (et) Teej Smith: Backtracking a bit. Matt Ransom and J. J. Pettigrew had identical grades at UNC.

1/15/2006 9:29 pm (et) ks: Pardon my NC ignorance...Old Salem?

1/15/2006 9:29 pm (et) Basecat: Teej...You have any idea how big Camp Carolina was?? How many troops were sent there?

1/15/2006 9:29 pm (et) Teej Smith: The school decided to determine the valedictorian by alphabet. J comes before "R." Ransom believed it was because Johnston P. came from money and influence and he didn't. He never forgave J. J.

1/15/2006 9:30 pm (et) Teej Smith: Except for the old time of Salem, it's now "Winston-Salem."

1/15/2006 9:30 pm (et) Babs: I'm guessing Teej is a Tar Heel?

1/15/2006 9:30 pm (et) Teej Smith: Oops. "old town"

1/15/2006 9:30 pm (et) Teej Smith: LOL...what gave me away, Babs?

1/15/2006 9:31 pm (et) Teej Smith: No, I don't, Steve.

1/15/2006 9:31 pm (et) Teej Smith: I'll try to find out before next week.

1/15/2006 9:32 pm (et) Babs: Teej, The Red Clay on your boots.

1/15/2006 9:33 pm (et) Teej Smith: Umm...I live in the sand hills. :-)

1/15/2006 9:33 pm (et) Basecat: Another thing I would add, know I would have gone nuts if I had to sit around in Camp for that long as the 26th did before they first went into battle. Also shows a common theme we have seen before, as how the men suffered as disease raged through those camps. Had to be very demoralizing to see deaths begin to mount up, even before they were in battle.

1/15/2006 9:33 pm (et) Babs: Babs, Dang! I was hoping I would guess right.

1/15/2006 9:34 pm (et) Basecat: Thanks Teej...Just interested, as he did not go into much detail about the Camp.

1/15/2006 9:34 pm (et) Teej Smith: I was touched by the homesickness

1/15/2006 9:34 pm (et) ks: Teej, Babs and I "don't no nothin" about them Tar Heels or their section of the country. I have a feeling that's going to change.

1/15/2006 9:34 pm (et) Babs: Base, Also we see how the tone of letters home change as time goes on.

1/15/2006 9:34 pm (et) Teej Smith: Clarke's doesn't mention Camp Carolina.

1/15/2006 9:35 pm (et) Teej Smith: I live in Pinehurst, Golf Capital of the South. :-)

1/15/2006 9:35 pm (et) Basecat: Babs...You certainly can see that, as they started to realize this was not gonna be no Sunday Picnic in the Hills.

1/15/2006 9:35 pm (et) ks: First time in the CW reading I've done where I've seen mention of soldiers not really knowing HOW to compose letters to home and, in many cases, composing so formally.

1/15/2006 9:36 pm (et) Babs: KS is right. I only knew to guess about red clay because of a music group called the Red Clay Ramblers.

1/15/2006 9:36 pm (et) Teej Smith: I found that interesting too, ks.

1/15/2006 9:36 pm (et) Basecat: Anymore comments on Chapter 1??

1/15/2006 9:36 pm (et) Teej Smith: Red clay is usually associated with Georgia. Although we have some around the Raleigh area.

1/15/2006 9:38 pm (et) Babs: No. Let's move on to New Bern

1/15/2006 9:38 pm (et) Teej Smith: Just one. You mentioned disease Steve. N.C. lost 23,000 men to disease.

1/15/2006 9:38 pm (et) Basecat: If not...Let's move on to Chapter 2, where the 26th's participation in the war began.

1/15/2006 9:39 pm (et) ks: That's also where the Moravian musicians entered the picture. So the 2 chapters really blended for me, okay? ;)

1/15/2006 9:39 pm (et) Basecat: Teej...Did not know it was that high a total, and then add what they lost in Killed and wounded...ouch.

1/15/2006 9:40 pm (et) Teej Smith: 44,000 in all out of 125,000

1/15/2006 9:40 pm (et) ks: Wasn't familiar with the story on the Blalock's, Kesse and "Sam". I'd like to know more about what happened to the 2 of them, especially given the sentiments of their having enlisted hoping for the chance to desert to Northern forces.

1/15/2006 9:41 pm (et) ks: Is that a higher than average number for loss to disease?

1/15/2006 9:41 pm (et) Teej Smith: They became the "Bonnie and Clyde" of western N.C. :-(

1/15/2006 9:42 pm (et) Basecat: ks...Plus an odd way to get out of the army, IMHO.

1/15/2006 9:43 pm (et) Teej Smith: They took part in three battles. Malinda (Sam) was wounded once. They enlisted for the bounty money.

1/15/2006 9:43 pm (et) ks: Oh my. :( That's some story then. And Base, yes, I thought so as well. Rubbing poison oak all over one's body was an extreme measure. But certainly it was an extreme time full of extreme circumstances.

1/15/2006 9:43 pm (et) Teej Smith: Please don't have any sympathy for the Blalocks. They didn't for the people they murdered.

1/15/2006 9:45 pm (et) Basecat: Babs...New Bern was the only real success Burnside had during the war, and also shows how desperate the Union was for any type of Victory at that time in the East. Burnside was over promoted as well, as the invasion of NC was done with more troops than the South could gather in that area to defend it. In my own mind, that was actually a Southern Victory, as it brought Burnside to the forefront of the Union Army, and we all know how that turned out.

1/15/2006 9:45 pm (et) ks: I wasn't meaning to imply I'd any sympathy for them. It's more like "Urgh! What an unpleasant story. Seems rather "Q-ish".

1/15/2006 9:46 pm (et) Babs: Material like this around and Hollywood chooses to remake old movies.

1/15/2006 9:47 pm (et) Teej Smith: My apologies, ks. They were very bad people. Remember that scene in Cold Mountain where they crushed the fingers of that woman, that was a favorite trick of the Blalocks.

1/15/2006 9:47 pm (et) Basecat: Also found it interesting at how disappointed Burgwyn was that he had yet to be in battle, and yet that attitude would change very quickly as well.

1/15/2006 9:48 pm (et) Teej Smith: Amazing how cool he was in getting his men across Brice Creek, no?

1/15/2006 9:49 pm (et) ks: Found some info on ehistory that provides the rest of the story on the Blalocks. http://ehistory.osu.edu/USCW/features/people/bio.cfm?PID=92

1/15/2006 9:50 pm (et) Basecat: Which is an important part of the story, as what he did there changed the opinion the men had of him. Would love to get a hold of his journal if it is available, and found it refreshing to see how he admitted how scared he was while ferrying the men across the river.

1/15/2006 9:50 pm (et) ks: That was amazing. Understandable how that would turn some of his men's thinking around where he was concerned. Hard nosed drill master, but he stood with and for his men staying to the last boat.

1/15/2006 9:50 pm (et) Teej Smith: There's a book about them titled "Rebels in Blue: The Story of Keith and Malinda Blalock" by Peter F. Stevens.

1/15/2006 9:51 pm (et) Basecat: Wonder if the Blaylocks were kin to Quantrill...certainly did a lot of the same things in their time.

1/15/2006 9:51 pm (et) Teej Smith: I think he reinforced that respect when he made sure all of his men got off Malvern Hill.

1/15/2006 9:52 pm (et) Basecat: Notice who got across first also...

1/15/2006 9:52 pm (et) ks: INTERESTING...that blurb on e-history was written by some Tonia J. Smith. :)

1/15/2006 9:52 pm (et) Teej Smith: LOL...Hey, he almost drowned.

1/15/2006 9:52 pm (et) Babs: Imagine being so exhausted as to fall asleep on the battleground and not know if you'd wake up dead.

1/15/2006 9:52 pm (et) Teej Smith: LOL...it was a correction to their original article. :-)

1/15/2006 9:53 pm (et) Basecat: This may be a dumb comment as well, but a lot of those folks sure needed some swimming lessons. Yes, I know the equipment they were carrying was heavy, as well as the uniforms would be when wet, but makes me wonder just how many of them could actually swim.

1/15/2006 9:53 pm (et) ks: That's definitely the stuff of nightmares, Babs.

1/15/2006 9:54 pm (et) Basecat: Teej.,.,and no mention of his horse surviving that plunge. :)

1/15/2006 9:54 pm (et) Teej Smith: Apparently not that many, Steve. According to Jim Morgan a lot of the men who drowned at Ball's Bluff did so because they couldn't swim.

1/15/2006 9:55 pm (et) Teej Smith: IMO, it was a dumb thing to do, Steve.

1/15/2006 9:56 pm (et) Teej Smith: Imagine being so exhausted that you could sleep through 44 guns firing every minute!

1/15/2006 9:56 pm (et) Basecat: Teej, and not something a commanding officer should have done.

1/15/2006 9:57 pm (et) Basecat: Found it more interesting that even that exhausted, He would figure out just how many guns were firing every minute...Now that's being cool under some very difficult circumstances.

1/15/2006 9:57 pm (et) Teej Smith: His men had to risk their lives to save him from his own folly.

1/15/2006 9:57 pm (et) ks: I imagine you'd reach a point of sensory overload and it would all become a blur.

1/15/2006 9:58 pm (et) Basecat: Exactly Teej, and surprises me Vance was not ripped for doing something like that.

1/15/2006 9:58 pm (et) Teej Smith: I think that's true of every battle, ks.

1/15/2006 9:58 pm (et) ks: True. It'd be the mind's way of coping.

1/15/2006 9:59 pm (et) Teej Smith: That's where the importance of drilling bears fruit. By going through familiar motions, you can block out everything else.

1/15/2006 10:01 pm (et) Teej Smith: It was a lucky day for the 26th when Vance got elected governor. :-)

1/15/2006 10:01 pm (et) ks: The chuckle I got out of Chapter 2 was from Burgwyn's letter to his mother when speaking of the suffering from lice. "I myself (your son) found one upon the outside of my pantaloons...".

1/15/2006 10:02 pm (et) Teej Smith: Six weeks in the same underwear?

1/15/2006 10:02 pm (et) ks: The repetition would hopefully make the correct response routine, 2nd nature.

1/15/2006 10:03 pm (et) ks: Now that I cannot imagine. ;)

1/15/2006 10:03 pm (et) Basecat: Teej...All depends how you look at it...think it was more lucky for Vance as we shall see. Amazing that they did not suffer as harshly at Malvern Hill as others did, especially as to how close they got to the Union lines. Know they went in later than most, but still a bad place to be.

1/15/2006 10:03 pm (et) ks: Good people, I have so much work ahead of me this week, really need to bug out. Good to be back to book chatting. I hope you'll carry on as I back out. Night!

1/15/2006 10:04 pm (et) Basecat: Night ks. Take Care.

1/15/2006 10:04 pm (et) Teej Smith: Especially that company that did not get the word to hit the ground.

1/15/2006 10:04 pm (et) Teej Smith: Night, KS.

1/15/2006 10:05 pm (et) mobile_96: night KS

1/15/2006 10:05 pm (et) Teej Smith: What's the assignment for next week, Steve?

1/15/2006 10:05 pm (et) Basecat: Teej, Exactly...Hard to believe anyone would stand up there.

1/15/2006 10:06 pm (et) Basecat: Chapters 3 and 4. Easing us back into the chats. Know I am rusty for one.

1/15/2006 10:06 pm (et) Teej Smith: Burgwyn found out later that there weren't friendlies between them and the artillery. Had he known that would it really have made a difference?

1/15/2006 10:08 pm (et) Basecat: I don't think so, as they probably would have been swallowed up by those regiments in the Union lines stationed in that area to protect those guns. Plus, it would have just been his boys who got into the breech...No support was close enough, IIRC.

1/15/2006 10:08 pm (et) Teej Smith: That's what I thought. Hunt had a 100 guns showing and another 150 in reserve plus infantry support.

1/15/2006 10:09 pm (et) Teej Smith: IMO, it would have been a blood bath for the 26th.

1/15/2006 10:10 pm (et) Basecat: Much like what happened to Armistead's boys in terms of casualties. Best thing that happened to the 26th that day is they got lost on the way to the battle. Cost Huger his job, which was no real loss to the AoNVA, IMHO.

1/15/2006 10:11 pm (et) Teej Smith: LOL...no, it wasn't. :-)

1/15/2006 10:12 pm (et) Teej Smith: I need to get going too. I enjoyed this very much and hope I didn't monopolize the conversation too much.

1/15/2006 10:13 pm (et) Basecat: Night Teej, and enjoyed your participation...Thanks.:)

1/15/2006 10:14 pm (et) mobile_96: comments were enjoyed here Teej

1/15/2006 10:14 pm (et) Babs: Base, Did I read correctly that the author may join us sometimes.

1/15/2006 10:15 pm (et) Basecat: Thanks all. Homework for next week will be Chapters 3 and 4. Please let me know if that number of chapters is too small as we go along in the book.

1/15/2006 10:15 pm (et) Basecat: Babs. Yep...He joined the chat room, and said he would join us when he could on Sunday evenings.

1/15/2006 10:15 pm (et) mobile_96: well, if the author shows up, am sure 2 might be too many LOL

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