Tuesday, May 29, 2018

My Visit To The James K. Polk Ancestral Home In Columbia Tennessee

  It is amazing to me that the two men who acquired more territory for the United States than anyone else in American history claimed Tennessee as their home. Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk. President Polk was a protege of Andrew Jackson. He was called Old Hickory and Polk was called Young Hickory. He was one of the most effective presidents in history. Polk achieved a great deal in only four years. He ran for president on a four point platform. All of which he achieved. Polk lowered tariffs, reestablished an independent U.S. treasury, secured the Oregon territory which fixed the northern boundary of the U.S, and secured California and the southwest from Mexico. Although Polk worked hard to avoid sectional differences this acquisition of territory was the primary reason for the Civil War. The South wanted to expand slavery into the new territories and the North wanted to prevent it. This was the issue that would eventually result in war. On Sunday May 20, 2018 I visited Polk's ancestral home in Columbia Tennessee. Polk would live here as a young man from 1818 until his marriage to Murfreesboro native Sarah Childress in 1824. Besides the White House it is the only surviving home ever occupied by James K. Polk. Most of the furniture in the home came from Polk's Nashville home called Polk Place near the present Legislative Plaza. The Capital Hotel now occupies the spot.

Polk Place in Nashville

Polk Place

The interior of Polk Place

The Capital hotel now sits where Polk place stood
  President Polk left office on March 4, 1849 and retired to the home he bought in Nashville in 1847 called Polk Place. Nashville was in the throes of a cholera epidemic that had started in January. This was part of a worldwide pandemic that had begun in South Asia and lasted from 1842 until 1862. It was spread to the United States by world travelers. The epidemic lasted through 1850. In 1849 alone there were 311 deaths in Nashville. A large number in a city of only 10,000 people. One of those deaths was President James K. Polk who died of cholera on June 15, 1849. A little over three months after leaving office. Polk might have been the hardest working president ever. He was known to work 17 hours every day including Sundays. Polk especially liked Sundays because he could work without interruption from the many visitors during the week. This pace might have contributed to his contraction of the disease. Polk's corpse was placed in a mass grave at City cemetery with other cholera victims which was the protocol during an epidemic. A year later he was placed in a tomb at Polk Place. Polk's wife Sarah died in 1891 and was buried by his side. On September 19, 1893 their bodies were disinterred and moved to the east side of the Tennessee State capital.  Recently the Tennessee State Senate  voted to move the Polk's remains to his boyhood home in Columbia. Final approval for the move will have to come from the Tennessee Historical Commission. If this is approved it will be the 4th time Polk's body has been moved. 
Because Polk died of cholera his clothes were burned. This might be the only clothing belonging to Polk in existence
Two paintings of Polk painted two and a half years apart. Showing how much he aged.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Angry Atheist

  As a teenager during the 1960's I became aware of the famous atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair. I didn't know it at the time that she had been responsible for one of the court cases that successively removed prayer from public schools. Her son Bill was used as a pawn in her scheme to bring this about. Bill or William J. Murray III ultimately rejected his mothers atheism and became a Christian pastor. His mother disowned him. Not until I was in my late 40's did I begin to learn the real meaning of the 1st Amendment in regard to religious liberty. Although I was a Christian I sided with O'Hairs interpretation of the constitution and belief in a so called separation of church and state. By chance I ran across a small book in a Dollar Tree by William J. Murray III called Let Us Pray. It was ironic that the boy that was used to eliminate prayer in public school would grow up to write a book that would explain the true meaning of the 1st Amendment and make a brilliant case for prayer in public schools. This book changed my life. His book is also a biography of his mother. Bill described her as an angry embittered woman and described her this way. " Her atheism seemed to grow out of some deeply personal place, an inarticulated anger remarkable in it's depth. Mother was never a serious theorist of atheism." This is the way that I remembered her as a young man when she debated Christian ministers and others. I was always turned off by her anger more so than what she had to say. Most of her arguments seem ridiculous today. Murray says that his mother married a man before WW2 named John Roths. After Pearl Harbor he joined the Marines and fought in the Pacific. She joined the Women's Army Air Corps and served as a cryptographer in North Africa and Italy. She had an affair with a married Army Air Corps pilot named William J. Murray Jr. Bill Murray was conceived in this extramarital affair in September 1945. The same month that Japan surrendered. William J. Murray Jr., Bills biological father, was a wealthy Catholic and refused to get a divorce from his wife because he said that his religion wouldn't allow it. Bill's mother returned to the U.S. and was shocked to find that her parents had moved. They were so poor that they were living in a shack with a dirt floor and no inside plumbing. Madalyn had been sending money home to her parents to save for her. Upon returning she found out that her father had squandered the money on alcohol. Bill said that " God became the focus of her hate and the symbol of her abandonment". During a thunderstorm after lightning nearly struck her parents house she ran out in the yard and demanded that God strike her and her unborn baby dead. Because God did not kill her she claimed that it was "irrefutable" evidence that God did not exist. When her husband John Roths returned home from the war he discovered that his wife was pregnant by another. He was willing to forgive her and raise another man's baby. Madalyn was still hoping that the father of her child would change his mind and marry her. She filed for divorce from John Roths. Madalyn named her baby William J. Murray III and he was born on May 25, 1946. Regardless of the fact that William J. Murray Jr. would not marry her she took his name anyway calling herself Madalyn Murray. When Bill was nine Madalyn joined the Socialist Labor Party and subscribed to every Communist publication she could get her hands on. Eventually she would become a full fledged Communist. Madalyn had another affair with a married Catholic and a 2nd child was born in 1954. She wasn't interested in marrying him however. Her 2nd son would be named Jon Murray. In 1960 she tried to defect to the Soviet Union with her two children. She first approached the Soviet embassy in Washington DC and they expressed no interest in her. She then flew overseas with her children to Paris. There she approached the Soviet embassy and because of her poor work record the Soviets warned her that people who did not work would go to labor camps at half pay. Madalyn had trouble with authority and hopped from job to job in the U.S. The possibility of spending time in a labor camp was not appealing so she gave up and returned to the U.S. Madalyn had written a letter to the State Department renouncing her American citizenship. Upon her return to the US she re enrolled Bill into Baltimore's Woodbourne Junior High. They arrived during homeroom. It was quiet as they headed for the counselors office. Passing an open door where children were reciting the pledge of allegiance she asked Bill if they did this everyday. At another room she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw children with their heads bowed reciting the Lords Prayer. Spewing out a string of obscenities she asked Bill " Why didn't you tell me about this?" Upon arrival at the counselors office she asked him "Why are those f- - -ing children praying? It's un-American and unconstitutional." On the way home she instructed Bill to take notes in school on what happened during the school day. Anything that even hinted of religion she wanted to know about. When he asked why she replied "The United States is nothing but a fascist slave labor camp run by a handful of Jew bankers in New York city." After much publicity and help from the ACLU, and ironically a Jewish lawyer, her case was combined with another case. A case that came to be called Abington School District vs Schempp. In 1963 the Supreme Court ruled that " state sponsored devotional Bible readings in public schools constitute an impermissible religious exercise by government." Engle vs Vitale in 1962 combined with Murray's case in 1963 essentially ended public prayer in government schools. In my view this is a prime example of judicial tyranny. The Federal government has no jurisdiction over the way a state conducts it's religious affairs. The separation of church and state that Jefferson talks about in his letter to the Danbury Baptists is between the Federal government and the states not between the Federal government and the people. The Bill of Rights describes what the Federal government cannot do. Not what it can do.

  I believe atheism is based on anger more than unbelief. Like Madalyn Murray O'Hair they have been hurt by something or somebody. Christian's know that God is not the blame for the bad things in the world. The Bible says that satan is the king of this world. He is behind all the bad things that happened to us but somehow God gets the blame. I was so fortunate to have been raised by a loving God fearing mother. I experienced true love and I was secure in that love. My mother prayed with me every night before I went to bed. She taught me that no matter what I could not permit myself to hate anyone. I should hate their actions but never the person. This is a belief that I have never abandoned. She taught me to respect everyone regardless of their station in life. I was never to use racial or ethnic slurs. Profanity was not allowed. Seemingly innocuous words like darn were not even permitted. I could not call someone a liar. They were a story teller. My father killed my mother on January 16, 1963. I will never forget the grief that I experienced that day when my cousin Howard Wilkinson told me the news in the driveway of Bailey Jr. High school. I wailed like a wounded animal. The news was too overwhelming to absorb. My mothers love and teaching spoke from beyond the grave. Whether I knew it or not her love prepared me for that moment in time. I could not have survived without it. Never at any time did I blame God for what happened and that was because of her. She planted the seeds for my later conversion. Christians are constantly blamed for the bad that have happened in history. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem witch trials. However the Bible talks about a remnant of believers. A remnant is defined as that which is left over or that which remains. This is common theme throughout the Bible. Only 8 people were saved out of the worlds population during the flood. Only Lot and his two daughters survived the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah. A comparatively small group of Jews or true believers returned to Israel after the Babylonian captivity. The majority became comfortable and blended in with the Babylonian pagan culture. Jesus encouraged his believers to enter in through the narrow gate because broad was the road to destruction. In heaven there is the Book of Life that lists the names of professed believers and the Lambs Book of Life that only contains the names of the true believers and those who will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Your name can be crossed out of the Book of Life but not from the Lambs Book of Life. The remnant are those Christians who are still around after the persecution. They are not the persecutors. The remnant are not Crusaders, inquisitors or witch hunters. They are not the Christian militia in Lebanon or the Ku Klux Klan. The remnant is blamed for the sins of the pseudo Christians and the false Christians are what gives Christianity a bad name. John 10:27-28 says that "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man ever pluck them out of my hand, I have a friend that was raised as a Muslim but he is now an atheist. Like Madalyn Murray O'Hair he has been hurt. My friend hates all religion, Christianity and Islam alike. He married a professed Christian who is a devil. She curses like a sailor and is turning his kids against him. I cannot convince him that all Christians are not like her. He constantly cites the crusades and other so-called Christian atrocities. What he doesn't realize atheism is responsible for far more deaths than even pseudo Christianity. The French Revolution was an atheistic revolution that worshiped the cult of reason. Over 300,000 Frenchman were killed by the guillotine and by other means. It is estimated that Mao Ze Dong of China killed upwards of 78 million people. Stalin killed 15 million, which sounds very low to me. Pol Pot of Cambodia killed 1.7 million out of a population of about 3 million. Kim Il Sung of North Korea killed 1.6 million people. Tito of Yugoslavia killed 570,000 people. Suharto of Indonesia killed 500,000. Ante Pavelic of Croatia killed 359,000 people. Ho Chi Minh over 200,000 people. V.I Lenin over 30,000. Adolph Hitler over 12  million. Hitler was influenced by atheist writers such as Nietzsche and Wagner. There are many more atheistic regimes that can be listed. For the atheist that is being consumed by hatred the true believer understands the value of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not for the benefit of the offender but the offended. The most powerful example of forgiveness comes from the story of God taking on a human form and bearing torture and a slow agonizing death in order to make it possible for people to inherit the Kingdom of God. Incredibly in those last hours he was still able to say forgive them Father for they know not what they do.

Monday, May 21, 2018


Well meaning people are just plain tired of these mass shootings, whether they are in schools, restaurants, malls or churches. Regardless of whether you are for gun control or you stand for the 2nd Amendment, like myself, we are all tired of it. I'm tired of useless talk. I am tired of talking about them and writing about them. I am especially tired of spineless governments like Tennessee that refuses to act to remedy the problem. Like Reagan said government isn't the solution it is the problem. In my view government created the environment in which these shootings are thriving. I am not just tired of the mass killings by active shooters I am tired of the carnage going on in our big cities like Chicago, Detroit, and St.Louis. Liberal policies have destroyed families by feeding the welfare state mentality since the Great Society created by Lyndon Johnson. Johnson's handling of the Vietnam War created a generation of returning veterans with damaged minds and drug addictions. The counterculture created our drug culture and our culture of sexual immorality that combined with government policy has further destroyed the integrity of our families. That same counterculture cut their dirty hair, took a shower, put on a tie or dress and since 1972 have risen to the pinnacles of power and are leading a Communist counterrevolution. The Federal courts emptied our mental institutions in 1975 and we have seen that most, if not all, active shooters are on some form of psychotropic drugs. What is baffling to me is how the state of Tennessee can have a super majority Republican legislature and very little constructive ever gets done. We should have some of the best gun laws in the country but we don't. In early April the Tennessee state legislature voted down the right of teachers to be armed. What is more precious than our children and grandchildren? I know what it is to lose my parents but I could not imagine what it would be like to lose a child. We don't hesitate to protect our government officials with guns but we do very little to protect our children. I remember how stunned I was when Kennedy was assassinated and learning of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. There is no argument about whether or not we should protect our presidents, governors and political leaders. But just imagine losing your child. Imagine a police officer and a chaplain walking up to your front door with the news that your child is dead. Or turning on the TV and learning that there has been a shooting at your child's school. Regardless of whether that child belongs to the president or to the average citizen they are precious lives. Even if it means calling out the National Guard and posting guardsman in schools until we can train teachers to protect our children as some are suggesting we should do it. We should consider deploying the National Guard to our inner cities to stop the carnage until we figure out a way to make the cities safer. These measures would work. Gun control and wringing our hands over mental health will not.

The Historic Zion Presbyterian Church And Graveyard

  A church was built here between 1805 and 1806 by Scots-Irish settlers from South Carolina. They purchased the land from the heirs of Revolutionary War hero Nathaniel Greene. The present church was finished in 1849 by church members and their slaves. There are 15 Revolutionary War veterans buried here along with 3 veterans from the War of 1812 and 60 Confederate veterans. There is even one veteran of the Seminole War of 1836. In addition there are over 1500 total burials in this graveyard. A slave named "Daddy Ben" is honored by a monument in the graveyard. He refused to tell the British Army during the American Revolution where his master was hiding and survived three attempts by the British to hang him. There is one grave marker to a little girl that simply says Alice Sleeps Here. Another grave belongs to a Sarah N. DeGraffenreid born in 1796 and is buried alongside her 4 young children who died on the night of March 24th 1835 in a tornado. I love old graveyards and cemeteries and this is well worth the visit.
Zion Presbyterian on 5-20-18

A plaque honoring the 15 Revolutionary War veterans buried here

My Visit With Sam And Jennie Watkins

  Yesterday, May 20, 2018, I had the pleasure of visiting the grave of Sam Watkins and his beloved wife Virginia (Jennie) Mayes Watkins. My favorite memoir of the Civil War is Company Aytch. It was written by Sam in 1881 twenty years after the beginning of the war. It was serialized by the Columbia Herald from 1881 to 1882 and was first published as a book in 1882. At one point he operated a store in Columbia and members of his family encouraged him to write an account of the war to leave to his children and descendants. Like any combat veteran he probably suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While writing his book he could be seen by an old pot bellied stove on cold mornings writing with a pencil and laughing as he thought of something funny and quietly weeping as he recalled the horrors of war. Watkins enlisted with 120 men in 1861 and was one of only 7 men left when General Johnston surrendered the Army of Tennessee to General Sherman on April 26, 1865 in Durham North Carolina. I have read Co. Aytch at least 4 times and each time I hate to put it down because it is such an interesting read. Sam served for a very short time under Stonewall Jackson and fought at Shiloh, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, the Atlanta campaign, Franklin and Nashville. He was wounded at Murfreesboro and Nashville and had many brushes with death. I love Watkins view of the war. He said " America has no north, no south, no east, no west. The sun rises over the hills and sets over the mountains, the compass just points up and down, and we can laugh now at the absurd notion of there being a north and a south. We are one and undivided. Sam Watkins is buried with his beloved Jennie who he talked about in the book. Sam and Jennie were both born in 1839. He died in 1901 and was buried with full military honors. Jennie died in 1920 and both are buried at Zion Presbyterian church in the Ashwood community near Columbia Tennessee. 
Virginia Mayes Watkins

Zion Presbyterian Church

Sunday, May 13, 2018


I am a Confederate artilleryman - Living history at Chickamauga National Military Park

Chickamauga - September 19, 20, 1863

 The Chickamauga campaign was nothing but one lost opportunity after another for the Confederacy. Bragg squandered the opportunity to destroy the Union Army piecemeal in the mountain passes below Chattanooga. Another opportunity was wasted by not destroying the Union Army at Chickamauga after Longstreets's Corps split the enemy in half near the Brotherton cabin on September 20th. Instead Bragg wasted thousands of valuable men trying to destroy George H. Thomas. If he had been smart he would have left a small force to hold Thomas in place while he rode down the panic stricken Union Army scrambling into Chattanooga. The city would have been his without much of a fight. Nathan Bedford Forrest would question why Bragg even bothered to fight battles. Running down the routed Union Army is exactly what Forrest wanted to do and there was none better than he when it came to pursuing a defeated army. Brices Crossroads and Streights capture were great examples of this. Although the North had won two great victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg Lincoln's political situation was tenuous. Many people in the North were not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There was still strong opposition to the war. Especially in  the Midwest where there were many Democrat Copperheads. The loss of a whole army and the city of Chattanooga might have been a deadly political blow to Lincoln. Even with Bragg's ultimate defeat at Chattanooga Lincoln believed that he would not win reelection in 1864. Only the fall of Atlanta in September 1864 would insure a second term for Lincoln. Chickamauga would prove to be an empty Confederate victory producing thousands of needless casualties that the South could ill afford. Bragg would prove once again how incompetent he really was. He was the Souths version of George B. McClellan. As far as casualties Chickamauga was the second worst battle of the war. There were almost 40,000 men killed and wounded which included more than 18,000 Confederate casualties, and over 16,000 Union casualties. This included 2,312 killed, 14,674 wounded and 1,468 missing for the Confederacy. The Union had 1,657 killed, 9,756 wounded and 4,757 missing.

Russell Qualls At Chickamauga

Longstreet's position across from the Brotherton cabin

Longstreets breakthrough near the Brotherton cabin

The Gettysburg Address - November 19, 1863

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

  Lincoln once said that the three greatest influences on his life were the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. These things have been the greatest influence on my life. He understood, like Jefferson, that the Declaration recognized a truth that was established the day that man was created. That all men were created equal. Not in ability, or in appearance, but in the eyes of God. Even though Jefferson believed this principle, he knew that he, and most of his fellow Americans were not ready to put this principle into practice when he wrote the Declaration in 1776. Lincoln realized that most American's were still not able to recognize this fact in 1863 but he understood what the war was really about. It was not only a fight to preserve the Union but a fight for human freedom. Lincoln expresses this thought with the following words.The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced  He was a visionary in that he could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The passage of the 14th Amendment in 1868 and the 15th Amendment in 1870 should have solved the problem, However America was not ready to accept the equality of all men as fact. Lincoln gave the address in 1863 but it would be just over 100 years later in 1964 and 65 before America was finally able to recognize  the equality of all men. Even then many would be dragged kicking and screaming into accepting this reality. As Lincoln said the work is still unfinished but we have come a long long way. Many on the left will try to convince you that we haven't. The political left, more than anyone has hampered progress in this area. It is because the political left doesn't believe in the values that Jefferson and Lincoln believed in. Yes, I will say it. They are Communists and the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution are anathema to them. America has moved so far in the right direction that we were able to finally break the color barrier and elect our first Black president. Barack Obama on the other hand set us back many years by not appealing to our better angels as Lincoln said in in his first inaugural address. The community organizer-in-chief spoke Hope & Change but left a bitterly divided nation instead. The only hope that will provide real change is a return to the principles first acknowledged in our Declaration of Independence and later acknowledged by Lincoln at Gettysburg.

Lincolns visit to Gettysburg- Baltimore Street

The only picture of Lincoln immediately after the speech

During the Gettysburg Address

The Evergreen Cemetery gatehouse off in the distance

Lookout Mountain And Missionary Ridge -  November 24, And 25, 1863

The Battle of Lookout Mountain exposes the incompetence of Braxton Bragg even further. When Hookers forces attacked Lookout Mountain on November 24, 1863, Bragg's men were outnumbered 6 to 1. This was because Bragg had sent Longstreet's men off to capture Knoxville prior to the battle. This campaign would end in complete disaster at the battle of Fort Sanders. In my view the real opportunity to capture Chattanooga was lost at Chickamauga. Bragg's position on Missionary Ridge should have been impregnable. U.S.Grant thought that it was impregnable. Several unforeseen factors contributed to the ultimate rout of Confederate forces. The Army of the Cumberland had been humiliated by their defeat at Chickamauga. Reinforcements had been rushed in from Sherman's Army of the Tennessee and two Corps from the Army of the Potomac which was to that point the greatest mass movement of troops by rail in American history. Just weeks before it had been the movement of Longstreet's Corp's from Virginia to reinforce Bragg in north Georgia that had been the largest. The Army of the Cumberland resented having to be rescued at Chattanooga. These proud veterans were shamed by the taunts of their rescuers and the fact that Grant placed them in reserve for the upcoming battle. A painful reminder that he did not trust them to have a major role in the battle. There was much pent up rage in the Army of the Cumberland.The Army of the Potomac troops were used to capture Lookout Mountain and Sherman's Army of the Tennessee was used to attack Bragg's right. However Sherman ran headlong into Cleburne's Division and was stopped cold. Grant ordered George Thomas, who was the commander of the Army of the Potomac to occupy the Confederate rifle pits at the base of Missionary Ridge on November 25th. They were to go no further than the rifle pits. Thomas's troops followed orders and took the rifle pits but this placed them in an untenable position. They could not remain there because they were exposed to fire from the Confederate line that was directly above them on the mountain. Their only options were to retreat or advance. If they advanced they would be disobeying orders. After the shame of Chickamauga they weren't about to retreat. Without orders, and filled with rage, they scrambled straight up the mountain. The Confederate Army could not fire at the Yankees because their skirmishers had just vacated the rifle pits and were a few feet ahead of them. They were afraid of hitting their own men. Confederate engineers had made a mistake in the placement of the Confederate trenches. There is an actual crest of a mountain and then there is the military crest. Engineers mistakenly placed the trenches on the actual crest. The military crest would have placed the trenches lower on the mountain which would enable the Confederate troops to see the Yankees all the way up the mountain. Being on the actual crest there were blind spots and the Yankees were on top of them before they had a chance to react. The combination of rage, not being able to fire for fear of hitting their own men, and bad engineering combined to cause the complete rout of the Confederate Army. Missionary Ridge was one of the worst defeats ever suffered by an army on either side during the war. The fall of Chattanooga opened the deep South to invasion and catapulted Ulysses S. Grant into command of all Union forces. The casualties at Lookout Mountain were 408 Union soldiers and 1,251 Confederate, which included 1,064 captured and missing. At Missionary Ridge the Union suffered 5,153 casualties. Six hundred and sixty four killed, 4,251 wounded and 238 captured. The south had 6,667 casualties. Three hundred and sixty one killed, 2,160 wounded, and 4,146 men captured.
Hookers assault on Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain from Chattanooga

Union troops raising Old Glory over Lookout Mountain

Point Park


Russell Qualls
Melanie Segroves at Lookout Mountain
My wife Debbie on our honeymoon - July 1968

Me on our honeymoon July 1968

Russell Qualls

Grant and his staff on Lookout Mountain
The same view as above

Souvenir shops on Lookout Mountain - This picture belonged to my wife's grandmother Grace Brown
Grant and Thomas on Orchard Knob
Orchard Knob

A Kansas Regiments assault on Missionary Ridge
From Missionary Ridge

The position that Sherman attacked
Cleburne's stand
Captured Confederate cannon
Grants Overland Campaign - The Battle Of The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg - May 5, 1864 through April 2, 1865. 

  From the end of the battle of Gettysburg until May of 1864, a period of about ten months, incredibly the Army of Northern Virginia was left virtually unmolested by the Army of the Potomac. Most military action occurred in the western theater. Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. Besides the fact that Lee's raid into Pennsylvania was turned back the major gain by the North after Gettysburg was that Lee was never able to go on the offensive again. He would have to defend Richmond from within the boundaries of Virginia. What Lee didn't know was that the war was about to change. Richmond would no longer be the target. Lee and his army would become the target. The desire to defend Richmond would be used against him. His army would waste away defending it and this is how Grant would win the war. Lee thought Grant would be like all the others that had been sent against him in the past. Lee thought that he would be able to get into Grants head. Grant was much different. After he took overall command of all Union armies he told Meade that his main job was to follow Lee wherever he went. Give him no rest.. There would be no respite, no weeks and months to refit, heal, and replenish Lee's army or any other Confederate army for that matter. Grant would apply equal pressure in both east and west. There would be no more transferring of troops from a non threatened point to a threatened point. This happened when Lee transferred Longstreet's Corps to Georgia in order to reinforce Bragg in September 1863. Lincoln saw this grand strategy to win the war long before anyone else. He could never get his generals to see it until Grant came along. From May 1864 until April 1865 there would be no respite in the war. In the month of May 1864 alone Grant would lose more men than Lee had in his whole army. Evidence of Grants change in strategy came just after his defeat in the battle of the Wilderness when he headed south instead of north. James McPherson in his book Battle Cry of Freedom describes the boost in morale of the men of the Army of the Potomac this way. (But instead of heading north, they turned south. A mental sunburst brightened their minds. It was not another "Chancellorsville ... another skedaddle" after all. "Our spirits rose," recalled one veteran who remembered this moment as a turning point in the war. Despite the terrors of the past three days and those to come, "we marched free. The men began to sing." For the first time in a Virginia campaign the Army of the Potomac stayed on the offensive after its initial battle).The war had begun with men shooting each other down out in the open and with little protection. As the war progressed and because of the deadly accuracy of the rifled musket men began hiding behind breastworks. By the end of the war a Civil War battlefield looked more like a WW1 battlefield. Men fought from trenches with overlapping fields of fire. abatis, and Cheval de frise. A frontal assault on these formidable defenses was pure suicide. Cold Harbor, Petersburg and Kennesaw Mountain were perfect examples of this point. One of my favorite quotes from the war was when a hysterical Union officer approached Grant during the battle of the Wilderness. He said "General Grant, this is a crisis that cannot be looked upon too seriously. I know Lee's methods well by past experience ; he will throw his whole army between us and the Rapidan, and cut us off completely from our communications." The general rose to his feet, took his cigar out of his mouth, turned to the officer, and replied, with a degree of animation which he seldom manifested : "Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault, and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. Go back to your command, and try to think what we are going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do." The officer retired rather crestfallen, and without saying a word in reply.

Grant being cheered by his troops for heading South instead of retreating after his defeat in the Wilderness


The dead at Petersburg

Dead Confederate at Petersburg

Dead Confederate boy of about 14 at Petersburg

The battle of the Crater

The entrance to the tunnel that the charge was placed in

The battle of the Crater

The Atlanta Campaign - May 7th Through September 2, 1864

  Joseph E. Johnston was appointed commander of the Army of Tennessee after Bragg's defeat at Missionary Ridge. The strategy that he employed against Sherman was a Fabian like strategy. I like Wikipedia's definition of Fabian warfare. Wikipedia defines the Fabian strategy this way. Fabian strategy is a military strategy where pitched battles and frontal assaults are avoided in favor of wearing down an opponent through a war of attrition and indirection. While avoiding decisive battles, the side employing this strategy harasses its enemy through skirmishes to cause attrition, disrupt supply and affect morale. Employment of this strategy implies that the side adopting this strategy believes time is on its side, but it may also be adopted when no feasible alternative strategy can be devised. Wikipedia continues on to say Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, the dictator of the Roman Republic was given the task of defeating the great Carthaginian general Hannibal.

Washington in the American Revolution along with the North Vietnamese employed this strategy and were successful. Although Johnston is not one of my favorite generals his Fabian approach to warfare gave the Confederacy a greater chance for success than the offensive defensive strategy employed by Lee and other Southern commanders. Who knows? If Jefferson Davis had not relieved Johnston and replaced him with Hood Lincoln's chances at re-election in 1864 might have been diminished in November. Even Lincoln doubted that he would be re-elected. Based on Johnston's movements to that point there is no guarantee that he would have held Atlanta until after the election. At least Johnston wouldn't have virtually destroyed the Army of Tennessee, as Hood did, in four fruitless battles in and around Atlanta. Sherman's March to the Sea would have have been much more difficult with an intact Army of Tennessee countering his every move. Sherman was very happy with Davis choice of Hood as a replacement. Even though the North was on the move by the Summer of 1864 there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Grant would become stalemated at Petersburg after some of the bloodiest fighting of the war. Sherman had made more progress but it appeared that he was facing a stalemate outside of Atlanta. War weariness was setting in. The fall of Atlanta on September 1st was the light at the end of the tunnel. He wired Lincoln "Atlanta is ours and fairly won". Lincoln was insured election over the peace candidate McClellan and the war would be pressed to a successful conclusion. After four months of fighting the Atlanta campaign produced 37000 Union and 32,000 Confederate casualties.


Battlefield of resaca

The battle of Kennesaw Mountain

Kennesaw Mountain

Debbie, Melanie, Jon and Misty on Kennesaw Mountain

The battle of Atlanta

The battle of Atlanta

The battle of Atlanta

Confederate works Atlanta

Union destruction of Atlanta

Destroyed railroad yards in atlanta



Sherman at Atlanta

Union troops destroying railroad tracks

Sherman in Atlanta

The burning of Atlanta

The Battle of Franklin - November 30, 1864

  The battle of Franklin is generally considered a defeat of the Confederate Army by historians but in a purely tactical sense it was a victory for them. That is because the Union Army retreated to Nashville and left the Confederates in possession of the battlefield during the early morning hours of December 1st . Like the British, who could also claim a victory at Bunker Hill, it was a very costly one. The Confederates lost 7,000 casualties as opposed to the Federal Army's 3,000. This was in a space of about five and one half hours and mostly at night. Night battles were rare in the Civil War. Franklin was one of it's bloodiest battles. There are personal accounts that say that the blood was ankle deep near the Carter House. Franklin was a battle that in theory should have never happened. Confederate General John Bell Hood was crazy to order a frontal assault against entrenchments manned with men armed with rifled muskets that had an effective range of 300 yards. This was nearly the equivalent of a frontal assault in WW1 against entrenchments manned with machine gun nests. Add artillery to the mix and you have a bloodbath. In retrospect however unforeseen circumstances occurred during the the battle. Circumstances similar to what happened at Missionary Ridge for the Union. Missionary Ridge should have been a defeat for the Union. The Confederate position, like the Union position at Franklin, should have been impregnable. These unforeseen circumstances worked in the Unions favor but the unforeseen circumstances at Franklin did not work in the Confederates favor for two reasons. Friction primers and Union general Emerson Opdyke. Ironically Opdyke's Brigade had been the first unit to reach the summit of Missionary Ridge. A young Lieutenant by the name of Arthur MacArthur of the 24th Wisconsin regiment earned the Medal of Honor carrying the colors to the top of Missionary Ridge. His son Douglas would also be awarded the Medal of Honor after the fall of the Phillipines in WW2. In my opinion Arthur's was well deserved and his sons was not. Arthur MacArthur would nearly be killed at Franklin. Opdyke commanded a brigade under Union General George Wagner. His brigades were the rearguard of the Union Army on the night of November 29th and the morning of 30th 1864. The men had gone without sleep or food for many hours and were hungry and exhausted. Many historians have accused Wagner of being drunk. Instead of posting his men in the Union entrenchments in the main line he posted them in an exposed position hundreds of yards out in front. Others believed that Wagner wasn't drunk at all but just simply obeying orders from the Army commander General Schofield. Whichever was the case Opdyke considered Wagner's position untenable and disobeyed orders. He moved his brigade to a position a few hundred yards behind the Carter House and the center of the Union line. As it turned out Opdykes insubordination put his brigade in a position to ultimately win the battle. Much has been written about Pickett's Charge where 15,000 Confederate soldiers charged across one mile of open ground into an almost impregnable Union position on Cemetery Ridge. Prior to this charge there had been a Confederate preparatory artillery bombardment of 150 guns. The largest bombardment ever on the North American continent. There were 18,000 Confederate soldiers at Franklin however that charged across two miles of open ground into entrenchments with virtually no artillery support. This charge is a distant second to Pickett's Charge in the history books. As the Confederate Army marched toward what many thought was certain death they encountered Wagner's exposed brigades. Vastly outnumbered Wagner's troops set out on the run back toward the Union main line near the Carter House with the rebels right on their heels. This created a major dilemma for the Union soldiers in the main Union line. They could not fire on the advancing rebel infantry for fear of hitting their own men. As a result the Confederates punched a hole through the Union line at the Columbia Pike and captured a battery of four guns. These guns were turned on the fleeing Yankee's. The Confederates could have won the battle then and there but for one unfortunate circumstance. They forgot to bring friction primers in order to fire the captured cannons. Normally soldiers were tasked to have them on hand for just such a moment but no one thought to bring them and the captured guns were of no use to the rebels. Opdyke's Brigade had been cooking their first meal for many hours in the rear when they heard all of the commotion around the Carter House. Angry because they had to leave their meal and they were being denied rest Opdykes brigade slammed into the charging Confederates plugging the hole in the Union line. Men fought at close quarters hand to hand smashing heads with rifle butts, shovels, pick axes or anything they could get their hands on. This is when the battle stalemated and the Confederates suffered lopsided casualties from this point on. Six field generals were killed including one of the South's best. General Patrick Cleburne. Although the Confederate Army would go on to fight bravely at Nashville Franklin decimated the army in a way that it could never recover from. John Bell Hood, by advancing into Tennessee was trying out Lee's old strategy of invading Northern territory in an attempt to draw the enemy out. Such as Lee's Maryland and Pennsylvania campaigns earlier in the war. The only problem was Grant and Sherman weren't McClellan and Meade. John Bell Hood was no Robert E. Lee.


The Battle Of Nashville - December 15, 16, 1864

  Stanley Horn, a local historian, wrote a book called the Decisive Battle of Nashville. I have read this book several times and I agree with Horn. The battle of Nashville was one of the most Decisive battles of the Civil War. There were bigger and costlier battles in terms of casualties during the Civil War but few battles achieved as much for the Union and were more devastating to the Confederate cause. There were two main armies that defended the Confederacy. The Army of Northern Virginia that basically defended the Confederate capital at Richmond and operated for the most part in the 100 mile radius between Washington and Richmond. The Army of Tennessee was tasked with defending the Heartland of the Confederacy. An area the size of Western Europe. Tennessee, northern Georgia, northern Alabama, and northern Mississippi. Basically an area between the Appalachian  mountains to the east and the Mississippi river to the west.. Union Major General George H. Thomas smashed the Confederate Army at Nashville and destroyed it's effectiveness for the remainder of the war. Yet in my opinion Thomas was never really appreciated by Grant and his circle of generals for what he actually accomplished at Nashville. Or for his past accomplishments. In my opinion Thomas was the best field general produced by the Union Army during the war. I also have much respect for the average Southern soldier who fought to the end at Nashville in spite of the fact that they knew in their heart that they were fighting for a lost cause. They gave it their all and at least a third of the army was barefoot during one of the coldest winters on record. Finally Nashville was the place where Black Union troops displayed incredible bravery. They suffered more casualties than their White brothers in arms at Nashville. Primarily in their attack on Lunette Granbury on December 15 and on Peach Orchard Hill the following day December 16, 1864. Union casualties were 3,061 of which 387 were killed and 2, 558 were wounded. Confederate casualties were 6,000 of which 1,500 were killed and wounded. Over 4,500 were captured and missing. The Union Army had 70,000 troops of which 55,000 were combat troops against 25,000 Confederate troops.
Stanley Horn

Kelly's Point / Bells Bend

Kelly's Point / Bells Bend

USS Carondelet

USS Fairplay

USS Neosho
Lunette Granbury

Lunette Granbury

Lunette Granbury

The railroad cut

Redoubt 1

Redoubt 1

Redoubt 1

Looking toward Redoubt 2

Redoubt 3

Colonel Sylvestor Hill

The death of Colonel Sylvestor Hill
Redoubt 4 marker

Redoubt 4

Redoubt 4

Peach Orchard Hill in the late 1800's

Peach Orchard Hill
United States Colored Infantry monument at the National Cemetery on Gallatin Rd.

The Bradford House

Stewarts Line

Stewarts Line

Stewarts line
Minnesota Regiments attack on Shy's Hill

Minnesota State Capital sitting room where the battle of Nashville mural now resides
Shy's Hill in the late 1800's

Shy's Hill late 1800's

Shy's Hill

The Minnesota monument in Nashville's National cemetery

Shy's Hill

Shy's Hill

Shy's Hill

Shy's Hill

Shy's Hill

Shy's Hill

A young picture of Colonel Shy

Colonel Shy

Colonel Shy's casket

The Battle of Nashville peace monument's old location at the intersection of Thompson Lane and Franklin Rd.

The New location of the Peace monument on Granny White Pike

Appomattox Court House Virginia, April 9, 1865

  When you ask most people who have any knowledge of the Civil War at all where the war ended they will say at Appomattox. However Appomattox was only the beginning of the end. What was left of the Army of Tennessee wouldn't surrender until April 26th at Durham North Carolina and Nathan Bedford Forrest would surrender on May 9th. The last battle of the Civil War, Palmito Ranch, was fought near Brownsville Texas on May 12 and 13, 1865. It was a Confederate victory. The last person killed in the Civil War was believed to be Union Private John J. Williams of the 34th Indiana Infantry regiment. In essence the war did end at Appomattox because Lee was the South's most successful general and it's George Washington. The American Civil War was a bloodbath because it was a family fight. Family fights are always the worse. A police officer is in more danger of being killed answering a domestic call than any other kind of call. Our Civil War had the potential for being even bloodier than it was. Lincoln's biggest fear, and the thing that kept him up nights was the fear that Robert E. Lee, Joseph E.Johnston, or Nathan Bedford Forrest would keep the fight going and fight to the death. He was afraid that they might head for the mountains and break up into guerrilla bands. If this had happened we might still be fighting the Civil War today or it could have created a legacy of hatred that this nation could never have overcome. Lincoln in my view had a Christlike vision of how he wanted the war to end. He did not want anybody executed for treason or imprisoned. As far as the leaders of the rebellion like Jefferson Davis he just hoped that they would leave the country. He told Grant and Sherman to "Let them up easy". The story of Appomattox is an amazing story for me personally. Two armies and their leaders were able to end one of the bloodiest conflicts in world history without further bloodshed and reprisals. The South simply laid down it's arms and went home. Robert E. Lee was a great general but his finest years were the last years of his life from 1865 until 1870. During this time he dedicated his life to restoring the Union by encouraging his men and the Southern people to repair the breach caused by the Civil War by becoming good American citizens. Lee would apply for citizenship himself but his application was not discovered until the 1970's. His American citizenship would be restored by an Act of Congress in 1975. The way we ended our Civil War would carry over to the way that we treated Japan and Germany at the end of WW2. We let them up easy. America spent millions restoring war ravaged Germany and Japan. These countries transformed from two militaristic and feudal autocratic regimes into two of the worlds greatest democracies. I like to think that the legacy of Appomattox plays a big part in how we end our wars.