Book Chat
Jefferson Davis, American
William J. Cooper

This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 08/10/08 and covered Chapters 4, 5 & 6.

8/10/2008 9:09 pm (et) ks:
Welcome to our second discussion on the book Jefferson Davis, American by William J. Cooper, Jr.
As usual, we ask that everyone refrain from posting private messages during the focused discussion.

8/10/2008 9:09 pm (et) ks:

”Located in a Very Retired Place”

Tonight we take up the Davis book with the sad tale of Jefferson’s “ami très cher” and wife, Sarah “Knox” Taylor. What are your thoughts on the courtship, Knox’s eventual demise and/or its effect upon Jefferson Davis? I’m still fighting a well-set image of Jeff as a sour puss. To read of his courtship and marriage to Knox is messing with my preconceived notions. ;) How about the rest of you?

 8/10/2008 9:10 pm (et) secret squirrel: He is becoming more humanized.

8/10/2008 9:10 pm (et) ks: Cooper is portraying him as one anyway. ;)

8/10/2008 9:11 pm (et) Babs: Cooper does present him in a MUCH better light than I have seen before.

8/10/2008 9:11 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: Jefferson Davis as a romantic surprised me. That was a little known side of him.

8/10/2008 9:11 pm (et) Basecat: The one thing I noticed about Knox's passing, is that Cooper did not include the reactions of her parents, who frankly did not want the union to take place. Maybe it will be addressed in future chapters. Hope it is.

8/10/2008 9:11 pm (et) Susansweet: I have always read that Knox was the love of his life

8/10/2008 9:12 pm (et) ks: I think that people tend to like a story like that, Susan. Paint such a lost and melancholy figure, like that of Abe pining away for Ann. I still don't buy that story. ;)

8/10/2008 9:12 pm (et) calcav: Do you suppose he would have stayed in the army had me not met Knox, or if Zach was a little more cooperative?

8/10/2008 9:12 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: I thought that the main objection the Taylors had to the marriage was that their daughter would be living in an area which was unhealthy.

8/10/2008 9:12 pm (et) mobile_96: Not nearly the iceberg he is usually portrayed as.

8/10/2008 9:13 pm (et) secret squirrel: I am reading this book kicking and screaming; I don't like J. Davis. but, there are other sides to him.

8/10/2008 9:13 pm (et) Babs: And they were right.

8/10/2008 9:13 pm (et) Basecat: Calcav...I tend to think his mind was made up to leave the army already.

8/10/2008 9:13 pm (et) ks: Lincoln Fan, I came away from the reading believing the main objection was to her being an army wife. Her father stated he'd barely known his children due to being gone so much.

8/10/2008 9:13 pm (et) secret squirrel: Calcav, I think not; he had more going for him at home.

8/10/2008 9:13 pm (et) Basecat: SS...No kicking and screaming here, but find myself shaking my head at times. :)

8/10/2008 9:14 pm (et) Susansweet: I think they objected to her marrying him first because he was in the military and they didn't want her living in various forts around the west.

8/10/2008 9:14 pm (et) ks: SS, you and I are pretty much on the same page. ;) While I did want to read this book, I've not be fond of JD.

8/10/2008 9:14 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: Base, I had just the opposite reaction; I thought he would have stayed in the army..

8/10/2008 9:14 pm (et) calcav: Steve, I came to that thought when he tries/considers reentering the service after she dies.

8/10/2008 9:15 pm (et) Basecat: LF...Main reason I thought his mind was made up, was the discussion with Joseph on a previous furlough about him getting involved in a RR a couple of years before he did resign.

8/10/2008 9:15 pm (et) Susansweet: I don't think he would have left the service if he had not married Knox.

8/10/2008 9:16 pm (et) Basecat: Calcav...In terms of that, he was angling to get command of a new regiment...When it did not happen, he went back to being a planter.

8/10/2008 9:16 pm (et) ks: Something that surprised me in this chapter was reading that Joseph had 3 daughters living with him and there being no record of any marriage. That and the suggestion that perhaps the isolation of Davis Bend to his "unusual family" being more hospitable thatn the town of Natchez.

8/10/2008 9:16 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: He may have thought about resigning but Knox was what made him do it.

8/10/2008 9:17 pm (et) Basecat: If you recall...back then promotion in the Army took forever...Tend to think that's why he angled for the job...Instant promotion.

8/10/2008 9:17 pm (et) secret squirrel: ks: Yeah what's up with that?

8/10/2008 9:18 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: ks, does anyone know any more about that? He probably had either a previous wife or how about children by a slave?

8/10/2008 9:18 pm (et) Basecat: That and the fact that she died...another reason why he thought of rejoining the army.

8/10/2008 9:18 pm (et) Babs: Even in those times, I think it was icky that Joseph married someone so young.

8/10/2008 9:18 pm (et) ks: If we read anything about Joseph's family situation in the previous Varina read, it went right over my head. This struck me as very unusual, especially for such a wealthy man. Wealthy, powerful man. LF, the slave child possibility came to my mind as well.

8/10/2008 9:18 pm (et) Basecat: LF and SS...first thing I thought of he had kids with a slave...

8/10/2008 9:19 pm (et) ks: Babs...AGREED. :-P I was struck by that with both Joseph's and Jeff's marriages. But the JD marriage is for another chapter. ;)

8/10/2008 9:19 pm (et) calcav: KS, Browner and I thought the same...high yellow daughters???

8/10/2008 9:19 pm (et) Basecat: Trying to remember...How old was Joe's wife?? 16??

8/10/2008 9:20 pm (et) ks: Steve, if he did, the girls would seem to have been well received (at least from the *admittedly* little I've read).

8/10/2008 9:20 pm (et) ks: "high yellow"? Now that's a new term to me.

8/10/2008 9:20 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: What about a "significant other"?

8/10/2008 9:20 pm (et) Babs: The picture of Joseph looks like someone out of a Jane Austen story.

8/10/2008 9:20 pm (et) Basecat: Main reason why they were, if that was the cause, Joe would not have been the only one to find himself involved in that way down there.

8/10/2008 9:21 pm (et) calcav: KS, high yellow was used to describe mullatos that could pass for Caucasian.

8/10/2008 9:21 pm (et) secret squirrel: I don't know, i just don't know...could be.

8/10/2008 9:21 pm (et) secret squirrel: I mean in Louisiana that sort of thing went on all the time.

8/10/2008 9:22 pm (et) Basecat: SS...Just to add, I remember Mary Chesnut's writing on that topic in SC...It seemed to occur quite a bit.

8/10/2008 9:22 pm (et) calcav: Eliza was the same age as Joseph's oldest daughter, 16. Kinda creepy. Browner

8/10/2008 9:23 pm (et) Babs: He was 43.

8/10/2008 9:23 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: SS are you talking about marrying young or having children by slaves

8/10/2008 9:24 pm (et) Babs: Both

8/10/2008 9:24 pm (et) Basecat: Browner, sign of the times back then, and was totally acceptable.

8/10/2008 9:25 pm (et) Babs: When Joe was 43 he married a 16 year old. He already had three daughters of unknown origin.

8/10/2008 9:25 pm (et) ks: We read about both Jefferson and Knox being hard hit by malaria. Was quinine the only treatment available in that time?

8/10/2008 9:26 pm (et) secret squirrel: Having children by slaves.

8/10/2008 9:26 pm (et) ks: Babs, by present day JUDGEMENTS, that's absolutely creepy.

8/10/2008 9:27 pm (et) calcav: Quinine was the only one that tended to work, there were many "home remedys" that filled family cemeteries.

8/10/2008 9:27 pm (et) Basecat: Pat, As far as I know that was the main treatment. And Cooper's various descriptions of the levels of Malaria was something I have not read before.

8/10/2008 9:27 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: They didn't seem to live in a remote area, and they were wealthy enough to afford the best in medicine.

8/10/2008 9:27 pm (et) Babs: I know it happened a lot after the CW too. Aging vets married much younger gals. Had some advantages for both.

8/10/2008 9:28 pm (et) ks: Nor had I (referring to those 3 kinds of malaria).

8/10/2008 9:28 pm (et) Basecat: Pat, plus if you survived, you never really got rid of it...bothered Jeff the rest of his life...

8/10/2008 9:29 pm (et) mobile_96: I had forgotten about the 4 types, 1st heard it when I was studying to be a lab tech in the army.

8/10/2008 9:29 pm (et) ks: So we've read, Steve.
Anyone care to posts impressions on Joseph Davis?

8/10/2008 9:30 pm (et) secret squirrel: He was very generous to his family; but he kept those deeds!

8/10/2008 9:31 pm (et) Basecat: I like the word icky that was used well as Patriarchal, shifty, but loyal to his family.

8/10/2008 9:31 pm (et) Babs: I retained my vision of him as being controlling.

8/10/2008 9:31 pm (et) secret squirrel: Yep Babs.

8/10/2008 9:31 pm (et) ks: LOL @ Base. Babs, that was the word I was typing until I saw you beat me to it.

8/10/2008 9:31 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: I can't believe this guy is for real. He's wonderful to his family, completely unselfish, really a self-made man. But, why did he hold on to the land or maybe we'll find that out later I hope.

8/10/2008 9:32 pm (et) Basecat: LF...IMHO, he did so because he would be in charge...Don't think he would throw it into the face of those if they failed, but in a way a hold on them.

8/10/2008 9:33 pm (et) calcav: Cooper does not paint nearly as sterling a picture as he does of Jeff (controlling, shifty, etc.) . At this point in the book Jeff is still a candidate for sainthood.

8/10/2008 9:33 pm (et) ks: Lincoln Fan, the impression I have of the man is one who appear magnanimous, but sure kept the strings attached.

8/10/2008 9:34 pm (et) ks: Calcav, he quickly slips from that saintly persona IMO in the next chapter and even MORE so in the one that follows it! ;)

8/10/2008 9:34 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: Didn't he sell land to Quitman also. The map in the book shows Quitman's land next to Joe's.

8/10/2008 9:34 pm (et) Babs: This comes up in a later chap. where Varina is not comfortable in Jo's household.

8/10/2008 9:35 pm (et) ks: Yes, that's correct. And I did appreciate that map much more than any others included in tonight's chapters. It is one I can actually read. 8-)

8/10/2008 9:35 pm (et) calcav: I agree KS, but at this point Cooper would lead us to believe he never kicked a dog. Except for a few drunken nights at the Point.

8/10/2008 9:35 pm (et) ks: Any other thoughts anyone wishes to post on this chapter? If not...

8/10/2008 9:36 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: I have a paperback and I hope those of you who have a hardbound copy can read the maps easier.

8/10/2008 9:36 pm (et) Babs: KS: Agreed. The book should come with a magnifying glass.

8/10/2008 9:36 pm (et) Basecat: Or falling into a Jeff did..:) How does one miss a bridge?

8/10/2008 9:36 pm (et) ks: LOL! Calcav, most of my thoughts for tonight are already typed and formatted in another window. I say that because you'll think I was copying you when you see one later this PM. ;)

8/10/2008 9:36 pm (et) calcav: Base, you're skipping ahead :)

8/10/2008 9:37 pm (et) Basecat: I know..My bad...

8/10/2008 9:37 pm (et) ks: LF, I have a hardback. Maps in other chapters are all but impossible to read.

8/10/2008 9:37 pm (et) Babs: LF. Having the hardback does not help.

8/10/2008 9:37 pm (et) secret squirrel: BC, yeah that was a bender.

8/10/2008 9:38 pm (et) ks: And since we want to skip ahead, let's do.

”It Was What I Wished”

Brother Joseph’s old friend, William B. Howell of Natchez, had a certain daughter…Varina Banks Howell. :) And Brother Joe was anxious to have Varina visit Hurricane where the impressionable teenager grew to know Jefferson Davis, a man twice her age. Comments concerning courtship #2 are welcomed.

8/10/2008 9:38 pm (et) secret squirrel: it worked out :)

8/10/2008 9:39 pm (et) Babs: In Base's defense the bridge incident was in chap 4.

8/10/2008 9:39 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: I wonder if Joe was matchmaking and if so, here we go again with the May-December (or at least September) romance.

8/10/2008 9:39 pm (et) ks: Varina's passionate thoughts about Jefferson gag me. I'm sorry. I admitted early on that I didn't like the man. ;) And we've often discussed (with disgust) his taking Varina to Knox's grave on their honeymoon.

8/10/2008 9:39 pm (et) mobile_96: Yes, but also can be seen as.........meddling, or even controlling.

8/10/2008 9:39 pm (et) Basecat: Just wanted to add that the town here in NJ where William Howell grew up is named after the family. Howell, NJ is about an hour south of here near the Jersey Shore.

8/10/2008 9:39 pm (et) secret squirrel: Nothing wrong with 2 consenting adults, but she was awful young, but it DID work out.

8/10/2008 9:39 pm (et) ks: That it did. SS. ;)

8/10/2008 9:39 pm (et) calcav: Varinia did not have a wonderful first impression of Jeff "An uncertain temper and away of taking for granted that everybody agrees with him when he expresses an opinion, which offends me."

8/10/2008 9:40 pm (et) secret squirrel: ks, the grave thing was not right.

8/10/2008 9:40 pm (et) mobile_96: Did think the visit to Knox's grave was a bit too much.

8/10/2008 9:41 pm (et) ks: mobile, I'd go with the meddling and controlling. Joe more than looked out for his little brother IMO.

8/10/2008 9:41 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: Wonder when "Uncle Jeff" became "Jeffy".

8/10/2008 9:41 pm (et) secret squirrel: I can't imagine what 10k is worth in today's money.

8/10/2008 9:42 pm (et) mobile_96: Same as the idea of keeping land titles in hand.

8/10/2008 9:42 pm (et) Babs: Varina's northern ancestors helped me understand why she could settle in the north after the war.

8/10/2008 9:42 pm (et) calcav: What impressed me was the clearing of the land to make it fit for cotton. It is hard work now with chainsaws and dozers.

8/10/2008 9:43 pm (et) Basecat: As to their courtship, as mentioned in the book Howell had bad luck with various businesses, and was lived on his wife's inheritance and such...Tend to think that placing Varina in a match with Jeff would assure that the rest of his family would be taken care of.

8/10/2008 9:44 pm (et) ks: calcav, in the chapters dealing with setting up Brierfield I was also very impressed with the amount of sweat that had to go into preparing the land for the cotton crops. Of course that sweat came from slaves.

8/10/2008 9:44 pm (et) Babs: She was disgusted that JD was a Democrat. IIRC that brooch she wore (the dog) was somehow in support of Van Buren.

8/10/2008 9:44 pm (et) calcav: Though Cooper points out that Jeff did pick up an axe on at least one occasion.

8/10/2008 9:45 pm (et) ks: Babs, is that what you recalled or were you able to find something in the other book? As I said this week, the brooch is haunting me. I KNOW we've read about it previously.

8/10/2008 9:45 pm (et) Basecat: How nice of him to do so Calcav. :)

8/10/2008 9:45 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: It was hard work and the book seem to indicate that Jeff Davis helped do the work.

8/10/2008 9:45 pm (et) Babs: KS, That's what I recall. Haven't revisited the book yet.

8/10/2008 9:45 pm (et) ks: How about that “wedding picture” of Jeff and Varina on page 96? In some chapter we read for this evening Jefferson Davis was described as a “specter”. IMO he very much resembles a spook or gaunt wraith in that wedding pic.

8/10/2008 9:46 pm (et) secret squirrel: bc: :) My words exactly.

8/10/2008 9:46 pm (et) ks: Davis at least designed the house. Pemberton and other plantation slaves built it.

8/10/2008 9:47 pm (et) Basecat: Pat that photo is loveless...Kinda wish the courtin' letters survived...Would help me to understand the attraction Varina felt for Uncle Jeff.:)

8/10/2008 9:47 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: Very good, ks. I love the description. Never saw a happier couple.

8/10/2008 9:48 pm (et) ks: Lincoln Fan, it's a image that cries out for captions in balloons. ;)

8/10/2008 9:48 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: Yes, ks, Davis designed the house and if you remember, he was really bad at designing things with wood.

8/10/2008 9:48 pm (et) calcav: The brooch story is mentioned in "First Lady of the South" by Ishbell Ross.

8/10/2008 9:48 pm (et) Basecat: Loved the line that Jefferson was not as good an architect after the man he was named for.:)

8/10/2008 9:49 pm (et) Babs: Makes Grant Wood's "American Gothic" look down right cheerful.

8/10/2008 9:49 pm (et) ks: I have also quickly tired of the "counsel" and other preaching Jeff offers Varina. I suppose it could be something of a how a man was expected to treat a woman in that day and age, but Varina was a strong and intelligent woman.

8/10/2008 9:49 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: The picture of the house reminds me of a shelter we have at a nearby park.

8/10/2008 9:49 pm (et) Basecat: And that had a pitchfork included Babs.:)

8/10/2008 9:50 pm (et) ks: calcav!! That's what we've been saying this week. But neither Babs not I own the book. We checked it out. I would love to know just what it said.

8/10/2008 9:50 pm (et) mobile_96: Babs, LOL

8/10/2008 9:50 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: Babs, I was going to say that. I was at Grant Wood's studio last week and actually bought a copy. When I first saw the picture, that's EXACTLY what it reminded me of.

8/10/2008 9:50 pm (et) Susansweet: But Grant Woods painting is a father and daughter.

8/10/2008 9:50 pm (et) secret squirrel: Yes, but she seemed to accept her role, not that she was happy about it.

8/10/2008 9:50 pm (et) calcav: Judge Winchester took "quite a fancy" to young Varina and spent the next 12 years as her tutor without a fee. She was used to being around older men.

8/10/2008 9:51 pm (et) Basecat: Have Joan Cashin's bio on Varina here, and will see if she mentions specifics about the brooch.

8/10/2008 9:51 pm (et) Susansweet: Don't remember anything about it in Cashin's book

8/10/2008 9:51 pm (et) Babs: Suan, I think it is a sister and a dentist.

8/10/2008 9:51 pm (et) ks: Father and daughter? I had no idea. The things you learn in this place. :)

8/10/2008 9:51 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: I thought it was a husband and wife (it was actually his dentist and his sister).

8/10/2008 9:52 pm (et) Susansweet: When I saw it that was what I was told.

8/10/2008 9:52 pm (et) ks: Somebody better get to googling. ;)

8/10/2008 9:52 pm (et) ks: Any thoughts on Jefferson's move into politics?

8/10/2008 9:53 pm (et) Basecat: If you want, I can send Joan an e-mail, and am sure I will get a response...

8/10/2008 9:53 pm (et) calcav: The brooch was a bloodhound chained to a strongbox.

8/10/2008 9:53 pm (et) Susansweet: Nan, apparently embarrassed at being depicted as the wife of someone twice her age, began telling people that the painting was of a man and his daughter, a point on which Wood remained silent.[1]

8/10/2008 9:53 pm (et) secret squirrel: He had very definite ideas and wanted them voiced.

8/10/2008 9:54 pm (et) Babs: Yes! I have been waiting to get to page 101. I read that at work and my friend and I spent a lot of time discussing it.

8/10/2008 9:54 pm (et) Susansweet: That's what I found when I googled it

8/10/2008 9:54 pm (et) ks: And the significance??

8/10/2008 9:55 pm (et) Basecat: Pat...My thoughts on his move to Politics explains why I don't buy the state's rights philosophy. He sure spent a lot of time making sure that The South was well represented in DC, and yet The South was not a state. Hard to reconcile that as a state's rights defense, which has constantly been thrown my way in discussions of the pre CW period.

8/10/2008 9:56 pm (et) amhistoryguy: The brooch with the bloodhound and strongbox was known as an "sub treasury brooch.

8/10/2008 9:56 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: The thing I found most interesting about the political part of the chapter was on page 126 where he gives his view on the relation between the states and the federal government. His view seems to be that the States give the authority to the Federal Gov't and the Federal Gov't is limited to those powers given to it by the states. Kind of twisting the Constitution a bit.

8/10/2008 9:56 pm (et) calcav: Ross says "that many Southern women wore the brooch by way of a reproach. It showed a prevailing distaste in her region for Martin Van Buren. (page 7)

8/10/2008 9:56 pm (et) ks: Yes, I recall that phrase, AHG. Now I do.

8/10/2008 9:56 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Popular during Van Buren's presidency.

8/10/2008 9:57 pm (et) ks: Thanks for that info on the brooch, Tom and Dave.

8/10/2008 9:57 pm (et) Babs: HA! I haven't totally lost my memory.

8/10/2008 9:57 pm (et) ks: A phrase in this chapter that stood out for me was one concerning Texas. "Texas generated such a volcanic reaction in the South because it bore to the bedrock of southern values." Reaction to that??

8/10/2008 9:57 pm (et) Babs: Yes, Thank you.

8/10/2008 9:58 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Children of Whigs were told that Van Buren was going to let the dog loose on them.

8/10/2008 9:58 pm (et) calcav: Okay, I'll admit it, the whole discussion of bonds and repuditaion left us with crossed eyes.

8/10/2008 9:58 pm (et) mobile_96: SS, for question on value of 10,000---1835 to 2008=$242,789.23 using the Consumer Price Index

8/10/2008 9:59 pm (et) ks: LOL. Calcav and Browner...same here. That's when I dropped the book on a couple of different nights. I kept hoping it'd get better again. Thankfully, it did. ;)

8/10/2008 9:59 pm (et) Babs: The phrase that stood out for me was Jeff saying the Whig party reminded him of "a certain insect which rolls its ball backwards and down hill."

8/10/2008 9:59 pm (et) Basecat: Pat...Glad you brought that up as well...Annexation of Texas was his big theme as well...Last I checked he was from Mississippi...Again dispels the notions of state's rights theory...He wanted Texas annexed as a slave state, which would favor the South.

8/10/2008 9:59 pm (et) ks: That was colorful, Babs. :)

8/10/2008 10:00 pm (et) calcav: We read it on the road home from Illinois, I only fell asleep twice while driving.

8/10/2008 10:00 pm (et) secret squirrel: Wow, lot of jack mobile.

8/10/2008 10:00 pm (et) mobile_96: Babs probably reference to a Dung Beetle

8/10/2008 10:00 pm (et) Babs: Mobile, That is what I finally figured out.

8/10/2008 10:00 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: The south needed Texas badly as a state. If they didn't have Texas, they would have nowhere to expand, while the North could go to the Pacific with free states.

8/10/2008 10:01 pm (et) ks: You bet, Steve. And we read in Cooper that annexation of Texas was linked with "southern honor" by claiming that a failure to annex would brand the South as inferior to the rest of the country: Southerners must be unworthy Americans if only SLAVERY, their FUNDAMENTAL SOCIAL INSTITUTION, barred Texas.

8/10/2008 10:01 pm (et) Basecat: LF...Exactly, but to me throws the state's rights argument out the window, as that was not really the case...Should be told as The South's rights policy.

8/10/2008 10:02 pm (et) calcav: Good point LF. Cooper did make the Texas issue clearer to me. Browner

8/10/2008 10:02 pm (et) ks: Not trying to rush anyone, but we've got another chapter. Any other thoughts on 5?

8/10/2008 10:03 pm (et) Basecat: Pat...19th Century version of BS..:) Jeff was very good at that...and highly doubt I could listen to him speechify about it as he did on many occasions for hours.:)

8/10/2008 10:03 pm (et) mobile_96: Made it clearer to me also.

8/10/2008 10:03 pm (et) Susansweet: I was interested to find out what a speaker he appeared to be.

8/10/2008 10:04 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: Jeff Davis seems to be an eloquent speaker. It's his LETTERS that leave me with glazed eyes.

8/10/2008 10:04 pm (et) ks:
”It May Be That I Will Return with a Reputation”

He did return with that desired reputation, but what are your impressions on how he left to go into the Mexican War? Please expound upon his political aspirations, his COMPLETE AND TOTAL DISHONESTY WITH HIS WIFE (oh, that Varina could have aimed a well-placed kick—or worse--upon the shyster and his dear brother!), etc. No, I don’t detest the man…much. ;)

8/10/2008 10:05 pm (et) Basecat: Susan...Interesting that he focused on not inciting the "passions" of his audience, when each of those issues were highly stirred up by passion.

8/10/2008 10:07 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: How can one profess so much love and then be so totally dishonest with his wife? I understand that he felt he had to go to war, but still.

8/10/2008 10:07 pm (et) Basecat: I tend to think he was bored, and desired to get away..

8/10/2008 10:08 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: Can one detect an undercurrent here that his real agenda was building a power base for Jeff Davis, no matter what the cost? Sometimes it seems that way.

8/10/2008 10:08 pm (et) Susansweet: He felt he had to go to war to build on his political career

8/10/2008 10:08 pm (et) ks: Screamed again of CONTROL, LF. Steve, I didn't see him as bored, but rather ambitious. He wanted the accolades that would go to the war "hero" and to hell with darling Winnie and what she thought or felt.

8/10/2008 10:08 pm (et) Basecat: Reason why I say this, just look at all the traveling he had done in his life thus far...NE, Cuba, etc.

8/10/2008 10:09 pm (et) ks: Exactly, LF...and Babs.

8/10/2008 10:09 pm (et) Basecat: Pat..That too...sense of adventure and making more of a name for himself.

8/10/2008 10:09 pm (et) Babs: I think he was looking to make a move to advance himself politically.

8/10/2008 10:09 pm (et) mobile_96: Believe he thought more of going to increase his political standing.

8/10/2008 10:10 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: I wonder what brother Joe that of Jeff's ambition.

8/10/2008 10:10 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: Sorry...thought of Jeff's ambition.

8/10/2008 10:11 pm (et) ks: And he was certain to go for that good press on his efforts in the Mexican War. BTW I have appreciated Cooper's descriptions of the actions during the Mexican War even though I think the maps are horrible.

8/10/2008 10:12 pm (et) Babs: Yes, he did a decent job of putting a whole war into one chapter.

8/10/2008 10:12 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: I never knew much about the Mexican War and the descriptions of the battles of Monterey and Buena Vista were wonderful. Would someone please explain to me the "V" formation and how it worked. I'm lost there.

8/10/2008 10:12 pm (et) mobile_96: ks, and what are the odds of finding Good maps?

8/10/2008 10:13 pm (et) mobile_96: Not sure the V was a standard formation, at least this was the first time I've heard of it.

8/10/2008 10:14 pm (et) ks: Tough to read that while Jeff was at war Varina had been told that she could have a new house, build whatever she desired...but ONLY after talking with Joseph and getting his advice.

8/10/2008 10:14 pm (et) Babs: Were the Mexican troops marching toward the point of the V or between the arms?

8/10/2008 10:14 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: No, it wasn't standard and the book says it was creative, but how did it work.

8/10/2008 10:14 pm (et) ks: mobile, I've had good maps in other books I've read on the Mexican War. And there is a WONDERFUL website.

8/10/2008 10:15 pm (et) mobile_96: Open end toward the cav.

8/10/2008 10:15 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: I thought they wee marching toward the point but then looking at the book, I wasn't sure.

8/10/2008 10:16 pm (et) mobile_96: I know about a great site, However, this book is a bio, not a book on battles.

8/10/2008 10:16 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: OK, open end. How was that advantageous?

8/10/2008 10:16 pm (et) ks: That's true. But why have the maps if they're too small to be able to read? :)

8/10/2008 10:16 pm (et) Babs: Why would the cavalry ride into that? Very dangerous--- obviously.

8/10/2008 10:17 pm (et) mobile_96: The formation concentrated all the fire into a small point, blasting the front apart, more effective than a general formation of a straight line.

8/10/2008 10:18 pm (et) mobile_96: Maybe because they were too close to stop? remember they did slow down, but whether to straighten up the lines, or in confusion over the formation they were advancing toward isn't known.

8/10/2008 10:19 pm (et) Basecat: And sorta like the hollow square formation used by Gamble at Gettysburg...Concentration of fire was devastating...

8/10/2008 10:19 pm (et) ks: If anyone is interested in Mexican War maps, please check out and then click on "Battle Maps". Heck, even Jeff Shaara's NOVEL on the Mexican War had far superior maps.

8/10/2008 10:19 pm (et) mobile_96: ks, maybe just to make the claim of maps.

8/10/2008 10:19 pm (et) Babs: Book said there wasn't time to form the hollow square.

8/10/2008 10:20 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: OK, and the "v" didn't provide much of a target, did it. An observation about Varina getting the house while Jeff was away. They probably wanted him out of the way when the house was designed.

8/10/2008 10:20 pm (et) Basecat: Babs...I know, but was just making a comparison to what Gamble did on Day one.

8/10/2008 10:20 pm (et) Babs: LF LOL

8/10/2008 10:20 pm (et) mobile_96: Babs, right, they were already in a bit of battle line, moving to a square would take much longer.

8/10/2008 10:21 pm (et) mobile_96: Good point LF.

8/10/2008 10:21 pm (et) ks: Not following you, mobile. ?? You referring to my comment about Shaara's book having maps? If so, so what? My main point was that the maps in this book aren't usable. And JEFF'S maps are full page. ;) I really did enjoy his book on the Mexican War, "Gone for Soldiers". ;)

8/10/2008 10:21 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: Was that formation ever used again? I never heard of it.

8/10/2008 10:22 pm (et) ks: Too bad for Varina that she couldn't also have Joseph out of the way when the house was designed. ;)

8/10/2008 10:22 pm (et) mobile_96: ks, only point is Cooper was able to claim maps, even if not usable to anyone

8/10/2008 10:22 pm (et) Susansweet: It was used by English Archers in the 100 years war. Easier to hit the sides of the Knights horses than the front

8/10/2008 10:22 pm (et) Basecat: LF...It would depend on the situation...Know with the Hollow square as used in the CW..rarely occurred.

8/10/2008 10:22 pm (et) mobile_96: Very true KS, and being educated as she was, might have done a Great job.

8/10/2008 10:23 pm (et) Babs: Maybe Varina should have married Pemberton. Oh never mind he was already married.

8/10/2008 10:23 pm (et) ks: Babs :)

8/10/2008 10:24 pm (et) ks: Ahh, gotcha. COOPER was able to claim maps. :) Read like you were dogging Shaara and I just didn't get it. Thanks for explaining.

8/10/2008 10:24 pm (et) mobile_96: Babs, ROFLOL

8/10/2008 10:24 pm (et) Babs: When given the choice Pemberton didn't go running off to war.

8/10/2008 10:24 pm (et) mobile_96: And many claimed that slaves weren't intelligent.

8/10/2008 10:25 pm (et) mobile_96: Yea, right.

8/10/2008 10:25 pm (et) ks: Interesting to read about the participation of others in the Mexican War whose names we know so well from the CW, case in point, Braxton Bragg.

8/10/2008 10:26 pm (et) Babs: I bet we hear about him later.

8/10/2008 10:26 pm (et) Basecat: That's another thing that makes me don't like Jeff...Pemberton, and how odd it was to have a black man as he did him a great favor.

8/10/2008 10:26 pm (et) mobile_96: Mexican war is the reason so many Great ones, like Bragg, thought they were wonderful military men.

8/10/2008 10:27 pm (et) ks: Other thoughts on the Mexican War and/or Jeff and the Mississippi Rifles homecoming after their service?

8/10/2008 10:27 pm (et) mobile_96: Base, was odd at that time, but later on, became quite common.

8/10/2008 10:28 pm (et) mobile_96: The ones that did get back must have needed diets after the welcome they received.

8/10/2008 10:28 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...True, but the point being as described in the book is how close he was to Pemberton...and he should be awarded credit for that decision...

8/10/2008 10:28 pm (et) ks: No kidding, mobile! And they probably needed to sober up as well. Those “some twenty toasts” later followed by BBQ and “thirteen regular toasts with ten more in response from the Rifles”. That’s some stamina to endure.

8/10/2008 10:29 pm (et) Babs: I wonder if Bragg's importance (heading the artillary) in this battle helped lead to Jeff's irrational loyalty to him later.

8/10/2008 10:29 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: When Davis came home, he took all the credit for himself and his men, leaving out his superior. I also thought he treated the Quitmans horribly - some neighbor. He made sure, however, to keep all his Washington connections informed. There's the hidden agenda again.

8/10/2008 10:29 pm (et) mobile_96: Base, another point, Davis was known for his good treatment of his slaves.

8/10/2008 10:30 pm (et) mobile_96: Could be Babs.

8/10/2008 10:30 pm (et) ks: Doesn't seem very well hidden, does it, LF?

8/10/2008 10:31 pm (et) Babs: Is homework three more chapters?

8/10/2008 10:31 pm (et) ks: Think Cooper's closing statement in this chapter sums it up well.

8/10/2008 10:31 pm (et) mobile_96: Not sure that he cared if it was hidden or not KS, just as long as it got noted First.

8/10/2008 10:32 pm (et) ks: Yes, Babs. That's about 119 pages.

8/10/2008 10:32 pm (et) Basecat: Good treatment of slaves is like treating your animals well Mobile...Just turns my stomach to read descriptions like that and it was looked on as a nicety.

8/10/2008 10:33 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: Yikes, I was hoping for two chapters.

8/10/2008 10:33 pm (et) mobile_96: Understand Base, just was making that statement as per that era.

8/10/2008 10:34 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...I know...and am using hindsight here...which I find myself continue to do. My bad.

8/10/2008 10:34 pm (et) ks: We're trying to stay the course since we won't meet the next week, LF. The week of the 24th some of us will be on the way home from Springfield. Read as much as you can. :)

8/10/2008 10:34 pm (et) Babs: LF: Strict taskmasters here.

8/10/2008 10:34 pm (et) ks: It's a BIG book. ;)

8/10/2008 10:34 pm (et) mobile_96: We all do Base, just trying to keep from a discussion on what Was normal back then.

8/10/2008 10:35 pm (et) Susansweet: Some of us will be on the train for a few days.

8/10/2008 10:35 pm (et) ks: Not SO strict. ;) We'll see how far we get. And if a person doesn't get it all read, they can work on it during the off week in addition to a few MORE chapters. ;)

8/10/2008 10:35 pm (et) Susansweet: Thanks for skipping a week so I can get home.

8/10/2008 10:35 pm (et) Lincoln Fan: Oh, I'm enjoying the book. I was afraid I was going to miss next week as am at the Islands again, so this works out really well.

8/10/2008 10:36 pm (et) Babs: At least for the most part it is not tedious reading.

8/10/2008 10:36 pm (et) Susansweet: So I can keep up.

8/10/2008 10:36 pm (et) ks: I was saying about Cooper's closer on this chapter, Davis thought his service in Mexico might give him a "significant reputation". "He could have hardly imagined the results."

8/10/2008 10:37 pm (et) Basecat: There will be a chat next Sunday. The following week we will be off as folks will be traveling back from Springfield.

8/10/2008 10:37 pm (et) mobile_96: KS, going to be lots of fun for me, doing 119 pages, going to a Blues Fest in IN on Sat, then Sun rush back home to the local Historical society for a talk on the writing of a book on 2 ILL regiments, from material found in the societies basement, then........listen to a concert by the 33rd ILL Regimental Band

8/10/2008 10:37 pm (et) ks: The homework for August 17th (remember we’re taking off the 24th due to the Springfield gathering) will be posted on YODB. Those chapters will be 7, 8, and 9, covering approximately 119 pages.

8/10/2008 10:37 pm (et) ks: Thank you to everyone who is taking part in the discussion!

8/10/2008 10:39 pm (et) Basecat: My thanks to Pat for the work she did for this chat. As per usual, she stepped up, when it was possible I could not attend tonight because of bad weather. Many thanks Pat, and it is much appreciated here in the Garden State. :)