Monday, June 3, 2013

June 4, 1863 (Thursday): "Depraved Lincolnites"

General Archibald Gracie Jr.


    There has been brought to my notice a communication issued from the headquarters Second Brigade, Fourth Division, Army of the Cumberland, Kentucky, May 26, 1863, signed by S. A. Gilbert, colonel commanding, notifying the commandant of the rebel forces at Cumberland Gap, in the State of Tennessee, that the said colonel will cause the families of rebel sympathizers to be removed from their homes on account of the alleged removal of the families of certain (unarmed) citizens of Knox County, Kentucky.
    Without condescending to further notice the abusive character of the article or its author, I deem it due to the truth of history to remark that no families have been removed from their homes by my command until the order recently issued for the removal of the notorious Green Turner, his brothers Ben and Jim Turner, and John Howard, with their families, living in close proximity to my lines.
    Green Turner was guide to the Yankees in their late raid on this place; shot one of my men, and would have murdered him had he not been prevented by those with him. He was known to harbor spies, to steal horses, and was capable of any service or atrocity required by the enemy. His brothers and Howard were united with him in his treasonable purposes, and only differed from him in the fact of being lesser villains. From that respect and sympathy due to the helplessness of women and children which has so distinguished the confederate Army, they were permitted to leave unmolested, with their families and all their movable property, to the place of their choice, whereas the same spirit which has actuated the Northern Army and Government would have consigned them to the halter or the dungeon. Detachments sent to Barboursville, which could at any time have destroyed it, have been particularly instructed to commit no violence against its citizens or touch any of their property, and it stands now, an evidence of my clemency.
    The infamous threat against helpless families contained in the notice issued under the false pretense of retaliation is the braggadocio of a cowardly braggart, who, with the valor of the ass in the lion's skin, would attack the weak and helpless, and flee like a spurned cur from the strong, and adds, if possible, to the already merited infamy and disgrace of the Government he serves. The depraved Lincolnites on either side of the mountains have hitherto been the objects of my forbearance rather than justice, but if the homes or lives of "rebel sympathizers," as they are called, are put in peril or destroyed, the retaliation that shall instantly follow will teach those warriors on women a lesson not soon to be forgotten.
    The civilized world stands shocked at the falsehood and despotic tyranny of that hated Government, which has deprived its best citizens of their political and civil rights, condemned them, without trial, to the dungeon of the felon, for the mere expression of their political opinions; shed the blood of the innocent, and depopulated New Orleans of its most virtuous citizens, after robbing them of all their property. The threat of the minion of such a Government will not be regarded, and my orders will be carried into effect.

     A. GRACIE, JR.,
     Brigadier-General, Provisional Army of the Confederate States.

Official Records, Series I. Vol. 23, Part 2, Page 393-394.

Gracie was originally from New York and his family built the Gracie Mansion which is now the official residence of the mayor.  Before the war he left for Mobile, Alabama where he ran a cotton brokerage.  He cast his fate with the Confederacy and fought ably, most notably at Chickamaugua.  While in the trenches in Petersburg he was struck by a shell and killed.  His son, Archibald Gracie IV, behaved heroically during the sinking of the Titanic and survived by pulling himself on to an overturned life boat and waiting for rescue with other survivors.

Colonel Gilbert notified his superiors of the "ungentlemanly" language used against him by Gracie.  "This communication would indicate this individual as the true prototype in mind, as he is in person, of Shakespeare's famous knight, Sir John Falstaff. Deserters from his command represent his men in fully as sad a plight as the tatterdemalions led out to battle by Sir John."


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