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Authors: Ben Ames Williams

House Divided

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Ben Ames Williams


Copyright © 1947 by Ben Ames Williams Copyright renewed 1974 by Ben Ames Williams Jr., Roger Chilton Williams, Ann Williams

All rights reserved
Published in 2006 by Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
814 North Franklin Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610

ISBN-13: 978-1-55652-619-0 ISBN-10: 1-55652-619-9

Printed in the United States of America

To My Daughter


ITH the completion of a work which in its finished form represents a dozen or fifteen years of preparatory thought and study, topped by about fifty-two months of concentrated labor, it is a pleasure to call a grateful roll of some of the men and women who have made helpful contributions. The list cannot be complete, since concrete information and stimulating suggestions came from many sources. For a long time before beginning to write this book, I read no Southern fiction, old or new; but I turned eagerly to every other source likely to be useful. Correspondence with two or three score librarians, historians, book dealers, and informed individuals was supplemented by an eight-thousand-mile journey which covered every locale described in these pages, and which gave me the opportunity to talk with many people. From these conversations came sometimes a phrase or a sentence, sometimes a chapter, sometimes an entirely new conception of an historic event.

At the top of the list of those whose co-operation has made this work possible must be set the names of Mrs. Williams and of my daughter, Ann. Mrs. Williams not only endured with an equal fortitude the abstractions, the depressions, and the exhilarations which are part of an author's travail; she preserved for me, often against heavy odds, a serene home where distractions were kept to a minimum. In addition, she made, with painstaking accuracy, a series of large-scale maps—of old Richmond, of the retreat from Petersburg to Appomattox Court-House, of the scene of war in Northern Virginia and around Richmond, of the Gettysburg battlefield, and of other regions—without which the difficulties of my task would have been infinitely greater.

My daughter typed from my longhand draft the first third of the manuscript; she read the entire manuscript at least three times at various
stages of revision; she was able to discuss with me at any time any passage concerning which I wished her opinion; and when the text of the manuscript was completed, she, with the assistance of Miss Emily Reynolds, checked the punctuation, decided which words should be capitalized and which should not, and whether such compounds as “smoke house,” “down river,” “business man” and a thousand others should be printed as one word, or hyphenated, or set as two words.

My thanks go, too, to Miss Emily Reynolds, who during the months of revision typed and re-typed some three thousand pages of manuscript, always alert to detect those treacherous slips which—once the author has set them on paper—elude him as easily as an error in a problem in addition. For the enormous physical labor of producing the manuscript, a task which consumed fifteen or twenty thousand pages of white and yellow paper, a quart or so of ink, and two or three hundred pencils, my thanks go not only to my daughter and Miss Reynolds, but also to Miss Caroline Boissevain and Miss Joan Andrews, who struggled with my always difficult handwriting through the intermediate stages.

To turn to those whose help, less direct, was nevertheless continuously valuable: Through the entire period of the work I had the ready advice and counsel of Douglas Southall Freeman, who answered by return mail and with courteous helpfulness every question asked, and who during my stay in Richmond put at my disposal not only his library but masses of unpublished matter which had been collected in the course of his own tireless studies. Major Bell I. Wiley, whose extensive researches have made him an authority on the subject, was generous with help in my attempt to arrive at a cross-section of the personnel of the Army of Northern Virginia from the point of view of the social and economic position of the individual soldier.

Many passages in the book are concerned with the private life of General James Longstreet. My mother, whose uncle he was, contributed from her own recollection and from the memories of relatives and friends in Macon, Mississippi, incidents and anecdotes which helped to round out his character. The General's surviving widow, Helen Dortch Longstreet, answered many letters of searching inquiry, and out of her memory of conversations with the General provided details not to be found in any documentary or published source. For
further information about Longstreet as a husband and father, I am indebted to his son, Fitz Randolph Longstreet of Gainesville, Georgia, and to his daughter, Mrs. L. L. Whelchel of Washington. For details of his military career not elsewhere available I owe thanks to Colonel Donald B. Sanger, who allowed me to read his as yet unpublished biography of the General. Katharine M. Hall of the University of Chicago libraries furnished me with the Sanger manuscript. Lionel B. Moses of Chicago loaned me the unpublished memoirs of his grandfather, Major Raphael J. Moses, who served as Commissary on General Longstreet's Staff. Through Mrs. Longstreet, James Longstreet Sibley, Sr., of Milledgeville, Georgia, gave useful answers to some questions. Henry Minor of Macon, Mississippi, searched old files of the Macon Beacon for information about the General.

Without the ready co-operation of librarians, this work would have engaged me for months longer than it did, and would have required more thousands of miles of travel. Miss J. M. Campbell of Lynchburg and her assistants in the Jones Memorial Library not only traced out for me every useful reference to General Longstreet's stays in Lynchburg, and to the Garland family there, but also introduced me to Miss Mary Lightfoot Garland of Richmond, who was generous in answering from her tremendous store of historical and genealogical information a thousand questions. Miss Josephine Wingfield of the Jones Memorial Library searched old newspaper files and took off for me pertinent excerpts. Mrs. Martha Adams of Lynchburg, through her wide and intimate knowledge of the city and the region, was able in five minutes to locate Mrs. Laura Landrum Crawley, who as a five-year-old child touched the sword of General Longstreet when he laid it aside while he dined at her mother's home in Concord Depot, on the day General Lee's army was paroled at Appomattox; and she was able to describe that scene in vivid and convincing detail.

Mrs. Lyman Cotten of the Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill not only answered many letters of inquiry, and provided me with books not elsewhere available, but she also filled out the history of the Williams plantation on Panther Creek in North Carolina, and guided a rapid search through some original manuscript letters in the archives of the library.

Miss Ellen Fitzsimmons and her associates of the Charleston Historical
Society put into my hands newspaper files and useful books. Miss Emma Woodward of the Public Library in Wilmington, North Carolina, scanned the Wilmington
Daily Journal
for January, 1864; she provided details of life in Wilmington during the blockade-running period, and she produced photographs of Wilmington streets which made it possible to describe them as they were eighty years ago.

Mr. L. F. Ranlett, head of the Bangor Public Library, contributed to the first stages of research. Mr. Harry P. Sands of Nassau gave me valuable information about the days of the blockade-runners, when Nassau was a boom town.

A typical example of the helpfulness of librarians everywhere came from Bloomington, Illinois. In answer to the question: “What business, would take a Richmond capitalist to Bloomington in May and June, 1856?” Miss Elizabeth Abraham of the Withers Public Library there sent me enough material to make a novel in itself.

Mrs. Louise F. Catterall and her associates in the Valentine Museum in Richmond allowed me to examine photographs and books which enlarged my knowledge of the history and architecture of Richmond. Mrs. Charlotte G. Russell and the staff of the Virginia State Library found every periodical, book, or document which I wished to consult. Mr. Robert C. Gooch of the Library of Congress met every request; and through the War Archives department he procured for me photostatic copies of a map of the Gettysburg battlefield on four-foot contour lines. This supplemented a map on a larger scale which was kindly loaned me by Mr. Hillory A. Tolson of the National Park Service.

Mr. R. A. McGinty of the Clemson Agricultural College at Clemson, South Carolina; Mr. F. H. Jeter of the North Carolina State College at Raleigh; Mr. W. E. Garnett of the Virginia Agricultural Station at Blacksburg; the staff of the South Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station on the highway from Camden to Columbia, and Mr. Richard L. Morton of Williamsburg, Virginia, were helpful in the study of agricultural methods of the period.

Mrs. Harold Lamb of Union Point, Georgia; Mrs. Noel McHenry Moore of Augusta, Georgia; and Mrs. Thomas Bailey of Augusta simplified my search for information about General Longstreet's convalescence there in the summer of 1864.

Mrs. Louise Haskell Daly of Cambridge, Massachusetts, presented
to me her privately printed biography of her father, Alexander Cleves Haskell, who commanded the Seventh South Carolina Cavalry during the last months of the war. No book that has come into my hands so vividly describes the philosophy, the tactics, and the strategy of the Southern cavalryman. Mr. Richard M. Boykin of Pelham, New York, provided me with his memoir of his grandfather, Captain Alexander Hamilton Boykin. This book gives an invaluable cross-section of life on a plantation near Camden, South Carolina, before, during, and after the war.

Professor John N. Ware of Rome, Georgia, supplemented my information as to what General Bee really meant when he called General Jackson “Stonewall” at First Manassas.

Miss Rose MacDonald of Berryville, Virginia, located scenes which I wished to visit near that town. Miss Anne Mann of Petersburg, Virginia, helped confirm my conjecture as to the identity of Mrs. Longstreet's hostess during her stay in Petersburg. Mr. David R. Williams of Mulberry Plantation in Camden, once the home of Marv Boykin Chesnut whose
A Diary From Dixie
is an encyclopedic picture of life in the Southern circles in which she moved during the War of the Sixties, put his well-stocked library at my disposal. Mr. Randolph Williams of Richmond gave me a History of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, and added from his own knowledge many details about the railroads which served Richmond during the War.

To Mr. and Mrs. Lovell Thompson, and to Mr. Paul Brooks, I am indebted for suggestions which helped me knit this book more closely together, eliminate many obscurities, and avoid unnecessary errors.

Special thanks in their particular field should be rendered to dealers in old books who have sought and—sometimes after months or years —have found for me rare volumes which enriched this work. A complete list would include a score of names; but from Mr. Lawrence Foster of Tuskaloosa, Alabama, and Mr. J. T. Gittman of Columbia, South Carolina, to Miss Marion Dodd of Northampton, Massachusetts, and Mr. Rudolph Gerlach of Goodspeed's in Boston, they were uniformly helpful, going far beyond routine business procedure.

For tireless work in my interest I must express my gratitude to Mrs. E. L. Gibbon of Richmond and to P. Victor Bernard of New
Orleans, who searched old newspaper files to locate requested material, and whose judgment in selecting additional useful paragraphs of which I knew nothing often fortified my investigations.

It is a matter of regret to me that of these helpful people five—Colonel Sanger, Mr. Sibley, Henry Minor, Miss Campbell, and Mrs. Daly—died before I could publicly express my appreciation.

B. A. W.

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