1. The KillerFrogs

Randolph Clark's exact words about Addison's role in the Civil War

Discussion in 'Killingsworth Court, Formerly The General Forum' started by JurisFrog, Aug 10, 2015.

  1. With all the talk about the Clark brothers lately, I figured I'd add not my words, but Randolph Clark's own words to the discussion.  One would think his words would carry the day.  Below is Chapter IV from Reminiscences, a book written by Randolph about his brother Addison and their life together.  Hopefully this will add a bit of perspective, proportion, and understanding for some of you about the War between the States and what happened to two great men during that time.
    In 1860 the storm that had been brewing in the political horizon gave evidence of near approach.  The people had been made to think of war till they were willing for it to come.  Secession was the subject for orators, debaters and political wranglers.  There were three classes in Texas in favor of secession.  The slave holder on the cotton and sugar plantations, from pecuniary interest; the old Texan, with an almost sacred reverence for the Lone Star, and with the memories of the struggles and hardships ensured in establishing the Republic of Texas, thought the way out of the political broil was to resume its status as an independent republic; the third party was made up of those tenacious of the doctrine of states' rights, who feared the tendency toward centralized power, many of whom opposed slavery, but thought it a matter to be settled by each state.  Two classes opposed secession.  One claimed the states had the right under the constitution, as New England had always contended, to withdraw from the Union, but thought it better policy to surrender the right than to disrupt the Union.  These were mostly from the middle southern states, and held the doctrine of Henry Clay and the old Whig party.  Another party was for the Union without regard to sentiment, pecuniary interest, or political rights.
    The northern border counties gave a large majority against secession, but the state went for secession by an overwhelming majority.  The state was out of the Union with all these conflicting sentiments, and a grave feeling of uncertainty as to what would be the result swept over all.  The purpose of forming a Southern Confederacy had not fully taken possession of the people.  Some "patient waiting" and wise counsel might have spared the Union without the horrors of war.  Lincoln's call for volunteers to invade the South instantly welded the factions, all differences were forgotten, every man and boy was ready to volunteer to meet an invading army.
    Addison had been taught from childhood that Christians should not go to war.  {long discussion of this doctrine, which I am skipping here}
    Addison kept his own counsel, did not discuss the war problems.  In writing to a friend who was elated over the prospects of military glory, he said "It is a good time to be calm, and take one's reckoning.  The people ill soon know who are the unsafe advisers.  Some Washington may arise and lead the people to safety, but just now the political fools are in appearance."  He was slow to prophesy of the future.  He made up his mind as to his individual duty and advised with no one.  He was impelled by no ambition for place or for glory, had no personal or sectional hate to gratify.  He volunteered among the first that went to the front.  The captain and first lieutenant of the company in which he enlisted were elders in a Christian church, the orderly sergeant was the senior deacon in the same church, and the preacher for the church had gone as chaplain in a regiment whose colonel was a son of Campbell's co-laborer, Barton W. Stone.  Many of the boys and young men of the company were members of the same congregation.  There were young men in the company who had recently come to Texas from the North, and whose relatives were in the North.  They settled no doctrine of state's rights, and were opposed to slavery.  The South was their home, it was invaded, they answered the call to defense.
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  2. Randolph Clark's account of the War, continued:
    In the knapsack that held his outfit of clothing he placed a small Bible, a pocket edition of Byron, and a translation of a french work on higher mathematics.  After many a weary march, or anxious watch on the picket line, the solder's camp fire became the scholar's study.
    He took his place in the ranks, aspired to no office, sought no easy task, was ready for every call of duty.  He was soon asked to take office of orderly sergeant of the company, and in a short time was given a commission as a lieutenant.  He accepted cheerfully all dangers and hardships that came in the line of duty, avoiding easy places, even to the extent of declining an appointment to a position of light service out of the danger of the firing line.  On occasions he was given command over men his senior in years and rank.  He accepted the honor with a modest self-forgetfulness, and when the occasion passed took his place with his own company.  These stoical qualities that gave poise when all was excitement, and prevented passing immature judgment in time of crisis, became more firmly fixed by the experiences of the war.
    The early part of 1865 was a period of wearing suspense in the army west of the Mississippi.  The Federal forces had been withdrawn and all efforts were being concentrated on crushing Lee and Johnson.  A heavy patrol of gun-boats prevented any movement of the Army of the West to reenforce the armies east of the Mississippi.  News from the east filtered through slowly.  The account of Lee's surrender, then of Johnson's capitulation, the assassination of Lincoln, the capture and imprisonment of Davis, caused such revulsion of feelings that men almost stopped thinking; all things seemed unreal; it was the hush, the daze after the storm, before the mind can realize what has happened.
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  3. Randolph Clark's account of the War, continued:
    The Confederacy had collapsed--was no more than a memory; titles and ranks were no more than phantoms of authority.  Without the form of surrender the Army of the West went to pieces, disbanded, melted away.  Amid the chaos and confusion Addison was of few who were seemingly not disturbed.  In Lee's surrender he realized the inevitable.  There was no time to mourn when the country was calling for men to rebuild a wasted land, to reconstruct a shattered government.  Four years of the hardship of war had transformed this army of boys into men trained to duty's call.  With the consciousness of duty done, with fame untarnished by a single act of vandalism, they answered the call to higher service.
    On May 22, 1865, we shouldered our knapsacks, leaving much of our soldier equipment behind, and began the long tramp homeward.  At the beginning of the war the family were living in Grayson County.  Refugees from the war-ridden sections found the border counties the nearest safe retreat; partisan bands to belonged to neither army used this territory as their base of supplies; the nondescript, that is in such evidence at disastrous fires, was there.  These kept the country in such a state of unrest that father sought a more quiet retreat.  He found the ideal spot where the counties of Hill, Johnson, and Ellis join.  Here he bought a cow-man's home.  It was a rich tract of black land with a rude ranch house near a small stream, fringed with scattering trees.  Looking south from his door one could see an unbroken expanse of rich prairie covered with waving grass.  For sixteen miles this stockman's paradise was not marred by a single mark of civilization.  Thousands of cattle, horses, and wild animals roamed unmolested.  During the war the stock were undisturbed by the annual "round up."  The vesper and reveille were rendered by prowling packs of wolves with an occasional accompaniment by a lone panther.  But these were more pleasant than the discordant notes of war.
    It was to this home we came.  For days and far into the nights, we had walked, coming "nearer our home."  In the afternoon of a beautiful spring day, through the green grass and wild flowers, we came to an eminence overlooking a beautiful valley, through which ran a sparkling stream.  Beyond this, in a cosy nook of the valley, nestled an humble ranch house; cattle were lazily browsing on the green; smoke curling from the kitchen chimney, told where the mother was preparing food for any tired ones who might pass that way--while, with every heart-beat, ascended a prayer that her boys might be the next.  A little girl sat on the fence intently watching the soldier boys homeward bound, hoping to find her brothers among them.
    Here, and only this once in all his life, I saw Addison overcome with emotion.  He halted a moment at seeing this picture of perfect peace--this wonderful contrast to the scene of war--and raising his hands to give a shout of joy, he could find no words to express his thanks.  Silent tears coursing down the weather-beaten cheeks said more than words could have spoken.  We hurried on; the little blue-eyed Mary at the gate could not, in these tattered, war-worn men, recognize her brothers, but the mother was near; she knew her boys, and this was home!
    So concludes Randolph's remarks on the War between the States.  I hope this adds some depth to your thinking about the war and the men who fought in it, especially the fine men who founded our beloved university.  
  4. But, but this does not fit the narrative of politicos with agendas.

    Seriously, appreciate the post. It was an interesting perspective from someone and a time over 150 years ago.

    I thought one point was interesting made to the portion of Texans that had a fondness of Texas when it was an independent republic and had a desire to return to that of being it's own nation again. It is amazing that sentiment is still alive today but only in a novelty sense of Texas being an independent republic. I remember Texas Monthly Magazine hawking Texas secede Tshirts in the 70's when I was a kid.
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  5. This was very interesting. My Great Great Great Grandfather fought for the South.  We have the letters he wrote back to his family.  He was just a simple farmer in Alabama...not owning any slaves.  His letters echo the sentiment of Clark that "The South was their home, it was invaded, they answered the call to defense." Mostly they spent their time starving and being sick. He so badly wanted to hold his wife and kids one more time.  Sadly he died at the Battle of Bakers Creek which led to the siege of Vicksburg.
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  6. The above is a transcript from Reminiscences by Randolph Clark, published in 1919.  It obviously isn't in the book, but Addison Clark served in the same division as my great-great grandfather, two of his brothers, and a brother-in-law, though Addison was in a different regiment.  He served in the 16th Texas Infantry, my ancestors in the 14th Texas Infantry.  Their regiments were part of Walker's Division, also know as "Walker's Greyhounds" because of their reputation for marching speed.  They fought in the Vicksburg Campaign of 1963 and the Red River Campaign of 1864.
    There are other interesting things in the book.  For instance, Joseph Clark, Addison and Randolph's father who co-founded TCU with them, was originally named Zechariah, but changed his name to Joseph Addison in the 1830's after a British writer he admired.  He took over the support of his mother and three siblings in 1825 at the age of 12 when his father, Thomas Clark, had to flee a murder charge.  Thomas stabbed a man to death in New Orleans who owed him money and refused to pay.
    Thomas fled by ship to Texas, which was a refuge for all kinds of fugitives from the United States during the 1920's-1840's.  It was later thought that he had drowned at sea in a shipwreck while en route to Texas, but in fact he survived and made it to Texas in 1838.  He served for a time in the Texas Army and had a brief reunion with his family in 1840, after they had moved from Alabama to the Texas Republic in 1839.
    Lots of other historical goodies in this book.  Highly recommended reading if you're interested in TCU history, Texas history, or Clark family history.
    Some of this history isn't in Randolph Clark's book.  Some of it is in a book called Thank God We Made It by Joseph Lynn Clark, Randolph's great-grandson.  The book was given to me by my sister-in-law (my oldest brother's wife), whose deceased first husband was Edwin Clark, Joseph Lynn's cousin and another of Randolph's great-grandsons.
    I sometimes get a brief laugh by saying, "My brother is married to the widow of the son of Randolph Clark's son, which makes me practically TCU royalty."  As I said, a brief laugh.  Really just a chuckle.  It's true, but it's a pretty weak joke.
  7. Jurisfrog, thanks for the post. I am a retired History teacher. I worked very hard at trying to explain the realities of the Civil War that you so well described with your post. Because in large part of the misguided "work" of earlier teachers in my students lives, they believed that the "War" was caused only by slavery. One probably shouldn't blame the teachers in the lower grades too much, as every text book they were allowed to use in the classroom were products of professors who were largely educated in the North in the early 20th Century and firmly intrenched in the belief that slavery was the one true cause of the discord. The misconception lives on. I used to have a banner that  hung on the wall in my classroom that read "History is like a foreign country, they think differently there." Thank you again for pointing that out.
  8. Great post, very informative! However, the facts do not conform to what people want to hear or think.  I'm from a border state and had family on both sides and none owned a single slave; their diaries are filled with allegiance to the union or to the state and how they were allowed to live their lives. Thanks for the posting.
  9. Ulysses S. Grant, commander of Union forces in the Civil War was a slave owner until 1859. However, 
    Grant's wife, Julia, kept her four slaves until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.
    Slavery was utilized as more of an emotional issue.
  10. Thanks juris
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  11. Interesting read. Thanks
  12. Another thing that does not fit the narrative...the amancipation proclamation did not free the slaves in the pro Union border states. It was a military measure against the south only. Slaves in Tennessee and southern LA were not freed either because those areas were under Union control.
  13. General board
  14. Yes, General Board.  There's a thread over there dealing with this.  Please, move it.
  15. Normally I would agree with general board, but this excerpt of the writings of Clark is interesting and I would imagine most have not read or seen.
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  16. Obviously the entire issue was complicated, with underlying issues between two cultures and economies that were quite different. Had it not been slavery, had some form of peaceful emancipation (as we saw in...pretty much every other country) been achieved, we very well might have still seen an attempt at secession for some other reason.

    However, I think so many try to go further to pretend that slavery was not the proximate cause of the conflict, instead bringing up things like "States rights". That's revisionist nonsense. Someone in the other thread put it best, I think, saying (paraphrased) "The war was over secession, but the South seceded specifically because of slavery". That's spot on, the Confederate States said so themselves in their articles of secession, and most famously in Alexander Stephens' Cornerstone Speech:
    (Emphasis added)

    The fact that the North did not fight to eradicate slavery, but rather to preserve the Union, does not mean that the South was not fighting for the preservation of slavery. They absolutely were, they said so themselves.
    Tim Griffin likes this.
    Are you saying that Mr. Clark said he was fighting to preserve slavery?  Or just "the South" made up of men like Mr. Clark?
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  18. General board!!!
    We are about to start a awesome season with a lot of visitors to this site.  Do we really need another discussion on slavery and state's rights and all that it entails?
    What about recruiting and its eyeballs on this site.  Do we really need another discussion again to turn off recruits and their families?
  19. I'm referring to the explicit reasons given for secession by the federal and state governments that comprised the Confederate states. The motivation of individual soldiers, of course, will vary.

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