Thursday, October 6, 2011

Davis and Stephens: A Marriage Made in Hell

Saturday, October 8 :Thomas Schott

The LCWRT welcomes Thomas E. Schott October 8. He was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi and raised in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He earned a Ph.D in American History from Louisiana State University where he studied under famed historian T. Harry Williams.  He has written a prize winning biography of Alexander H. Stephens, and is co-editor of two upcoming publications: Confederate Generals in the Trans-Mississippi, vol. 2  & Robert E. Lee and His Generals: Essays in Honor of T. Harry Williams, both future publications of the University of Tennessee Press.
He recently retired from a long career as a historian for various Air Force organizations and the U.S. Operations Command. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma, where his grandkids are.

                 Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens: A Marriage Made in Hell

Political expediency dictated the selection of Alexander H. Stephens as vice president of the Confederacy. A former Whig from Georgia, a  state which could not be ignored for top offices in the new nation, he vehemently opposed secession right up until passage of the secession ordinance. Jefferson Davis was his political opposite: a Democrat who favored secession. The two men did share some personality traits, but this only served to exacerbate the differences between them. The period of cooperation between them after their election lasted only a few months. Thereafter, Stephens stayed mostly at his home in Georgia and away from Richmond.

For Stephens, the war was about "constitutional liberty" above all else. Therefore he opposed virtually everything the Davis administration did in its efforts to win the war: conscription, impressment, financial policy, and especially suspension of writ of habeas corpus. In 1864, the vice president delivered a speech to the Georgia legislature publicly attacking the administration's policies. He actively supported various peace plans being proposed in the South in the latter stages of the war. He was probably the worst possible choice for the office he held in the Confederacy.

 The 149th Commemoration of the Battle of Perryville

The Battle of Perryville was fought 149 years ago on October 8, 1862. The battle was significant nationally as the CSA defeat at Perryville helped Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation.  During the summer of 1862, five Confederate armies began an offensive that would eventually end at Perryville, Kentucky. Never again would the Confederate military forces be able to launch such an offensive. The Confederate defeats at Corinth, Antietam and the stalemate at Perryville gave Abraham Lincoln the political clout he needed to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Battle of Perryville was Kentucky’s largest and bloodiest Civil War battle.  Over 40,000 men engaged in a desperate struggle that raged throughout the day of October 8, 1862. The battle left in its wake 7,500 men killed and wounded, a countryside ravaged by war and a civilian population in serious distress with a tremendous lack of food and water.  Today the preservation efforts at Perryville Battlefield are a great success. The park has over 750 preserved acres and the Civil War Trust recently entered into an agreement with several local land owners to purchase 248 more acres. The annual Commemoration of the Battle of Perryville will occur this year on October 1-2, 2011 and will feature numerous activities that can be enjoyed by both families and serious Civil War historians and enthusiasts. You can find more at for more information.

October 2011 Quiz:

1.  During October 1861, Jefferson Davis was besieged by requests from unhappy Confederate soldiers.  What did they want?

2.  CSA General Thomas Jackson's map maker was a native of what state?

3.  In what battle did the charging troops of Winfield Scott Featherstone, CSA, push their foes back so that they fell to their deaths over a steep cliff?

4.  Why, after the above battle, were neither USA Brigadier General Charles P. Stone nor CSA Brigadier General Nathan G. "Shanks" Evans promoted?

5.  This Georgia politician served as a U.S. Representative both before the Civil War and after Reconstruction.  Who was he and what did he do during the Civil War?

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