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Full text of "Memorial of the life of J. Johnston Pettigrew, Brig. Gen. of the Confederate States Army"

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OF THE 



UNIVERSITY Of NORTH (AROTINA, 

Endowed by the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies. 

Call No. C'B - 'P 'S W 



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UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL 



ill 

00032690963 



FOR USE ONLY IN 
THE NORTH CAROLINA COLLECTIO 



IHIS TITLE HAS BEEN MICROFILMEI 



Form No. A 365 



MEMORIAL 



or THE LIFE OF 



. |ol]uston lettigreto, 



BPJG. m. OF THE COPEDERATE STATES ARM, 



^sArnvc. H:DE!:cTI^■3^ TI^:ESGOT 



CHARLESTON : 

JOHN RUSSELL, 

1870. 



EVANS & COGSWELL, PRINTERS, 
No. 3 Broad street, Charleston, S. C. 



MEMORIAL 



The great civil war in this country has ended by the 
total defeat of one of the parties to the issue. Its 
causes and its consequences stand for judgment before 
impartial history ; and it is not in this generation of 
victors and vanquished that we can reasonably expect 
to find an unexaggerated statement of its fortunes — a 
temperate appreciation of the influences which produced 
it — or a dispassionate estimate of the results it has ac- 
complished. Time alone — time made up oftenest, both 
for nations and for men, of 

" Those slow, sad hours which bring us all things ill, 
And all good things from evil," 

can explain not only men to each other, but men and their 
actions to themselves. We are always working either 
better or worse than we can know ; and whether by 
victory or defeat, we are always achieving or sacrificing 
ends that we never purposed. But there is a value in 
such a conflict beside if not beyond the value of the prin- 
ciples at stake. The training of life has upon character 
the same influence which the training of mathematics 



Memorial of 



has upon intellect, and its worth is derived not from 
what it teaches, but from Avhat it forms. Men may dif- 
fer about the conflicting theories of the Constitution 
which created the parties to the contest; men ma}^ dis- 
agree about those great national interests, which, partly 
concealed and partly evident, lay at the foundation of 
the bitter difference ; men may rate, with very varying 
degree^ of praise or censure, the technical merits of Lee 
or Grant, of Sherman or Johnston. But men never will 
mistake purity of purpose, nobleness of deed, self-sacri- 
ficing lives, or heroic deaths, be they spent on one side 
or the other. And the time will surely come when all 
men will see and feel, as some men on both sides see 
and feel now, that upon such an issue it was the duty 
of true men to differ; when the spirit in which the 
events of this war will be reviewed will be the same 
manly and generous spirit which, in a conflict between 
those of our own blood, and from whom we learned the 
contending principles for which we fought, dictated this 
noble language from Sir William Waller, the Parlia- 
mentary general, to his old friend Sir Ealph Hopton, 
the lloyalist commander: "My affections to you are so 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 



unchangeable that hostility itself cannot violate my 
friendship to yoiii- person ; but 1 must be true to the 
cause wherein I serve. The great Goil, who is the 
searcher of my heart, knows with what reluctance I 
go upon this service, and with what perfect hatred I 
look upon a war without an enemy. The God of Peace, 
in his good time, send us peace, and in the meantime fit 
us to receive it. We are both on the stage, and we 
must act the parts that are assigned us in this tragedy. 
Let us do it in a way of honor, and without personal ani- 
mosities." 

After these words .were written how long and fierce 
was the contest ; how hot, and wild, and wicked were 
the passions and ambitions of men who called tliem- 
selves countrymen ; how complete and unforeseen was 

the result. 

The royalist who, to borrow Macaulay's picturesque 
description, saw his eldest son fiiU at Naseby or Mars- 
ton Moor, who stole by night to revisit liis old manor 
house which had been converted into barracks and 
desecrated by a Eoundhead garrison, whose silver had 
been melted to raise a regiment among his tenants, and 



Memorial of 



who, even after the war, was thankful to recover his 
wasted property by paying a large iine to Mr. Speaker 
Lenthall, thought and spoke very much as a South 
Carolina planter would of Mr. Lincoln's Emancipation 
Proclamation, of General Saxton's administration of 
the Sea Islands, or General Sherman's march through 
the State. The women of that day mourned their 
dead, and shrunk with shuddering from those whose 
garments smelt of the blood of their kindred. Eev- 
erend priests, who had prayed fervently and prophesied 
boldly, put their hands upon their mouths and bowed 
in perplexed humility when they learned that the ways 
of God were indeed past finding out. Bad men rose 
and ruled; impatient spirits sought relief in exile, and 
desponding ones sat sad and silent in the midst of 
darkness which could be felt. But how does the history 
of that cruel strife read now? The blood that was 
poured out like water has sunk into the ground; the 
tears that were shed have dried up like dew; the 
personal hatreds and jealousies are at rest in ancient 
graves, and all that was brave and pure, and true in 
the words and deeds of either of the great factions 



J. Johnston Pettigreiv. 



lives and glows to-day in the history of England. 
Cromwell and Falkland, Hampden and Clarendon stand 
to-day in monumental marble, in the great Palace of 
Westminster, to teach coming generations what have 
been the courage, the patriotism, the wisdom of 
English men. 

While, therefore, we who are the vanquished in this 
battle must of necessity leave to a calmer and wiser 
posterity to judge of the intrinsic worth of that strug- 
gle, as it bears upon the principles of constitutional 
liberty, and as it must aifect the future history of the 
American people, there is one duty not only possible 
but imperative; a duty which we owe alike to the 
Uving and to the dead; and that is the preservation 
in perpetual and tender remembrance of the lives of 
those who, to use a phrase scarcely too sacred for so 
unselfish a sacrifice, died in the hope that we might 
live. 

Especially is this our duty, because in the South a 
choice between the parties and principles at issue was 
scarcely possible. From causes which it is exceedingly 
interesting to trace, but w^hich I cannot now develop, 



the feeling of State loyalty had acquired throughout 
the South an almost ftmatie intensity — particularly in 
the old Colonial States did this devotion to the State 
assume that blended character of affection and duty 
which gives in the old world such a chivalrous coloring 
to loyalty to the Crown. The existence of large hered- 
itary estates, the transmission from generation to gene- 
ration of social and political consideration, the institu- 
tion of slavery, creating of the whole white race a 
privileged class, through whom the pride and power of 
its highest representatives were naturally diffused, ail 
contributed to give a peculiarly personal and family 
feeling to the ordinary relation of citizen to the Com- 
monwealth. Federal honors were undervalued and even 
Federal power was underrated, except as they were 
reflected back from the interests and prejudices of the 
State. When, therefore, by the formal and constitu- 
tional act of the States, secession from the Federal 
Government was declared in 1860 and 1861, it is almost 
impossible for any one, not familiar with the habits and 
thoughts of the South, to understand how completely 
the question of duty was settled for Southern men. 



Shrewd, practical men who had no faith in the result, 
old and eminent men who had grown gray in service 
under the national flag, liad their doubts and their mis- 
givings; but there was no hesitation as to what they 
were to do. Especially to that great body of men just 
coming into manhood, who were preparing to take 
their places as the thinkers and actors of the next gen- 
eration, was this call of the State an imperative sum- 
mons. The fathers and mothers who had reared them, 
the society whose traditions gave both refinement and 
assurance to their young ambition, the colleges in which 
the creed of Mr. Calhoun w^as the text-book of their 
political studies, the friends w^ith whom they planned 
their future, the very land they loved, dear to them as 
thoughtless boys, dearer to them as thoughtful men, 
were all impersonate living, speaking, commanding in 
the State of which they were children. ^N'ever in the 
history of the world has there been a nobler response 
to a more thoroughly recognized duty; nowhere any- 
thing more truly glorious than this outburst of the 
5'outh and manhood of the South. And now that the 
end has come, and we have seen it, it seems to me, that 



10 



Memorial of 



to a man of humanity, I care not in what section hi8 
sympathies may have been nurtured, there never has 
been a sadder or sublimer spectacle than these earnest 
and devoted men, their young and vigorous cohimns 
marching through Eichmond to the Potomac, like the 
combatants of ancient Eome, beneath the imperial 
throne in the amphitheatre, and exclaiming with ui^lift- 
ed arms, " moraturi te salutaHif^ ' 

And thus it happened that the veiy flower of our youth 
were mowed down by the reaper, whose name is Death, 
in the rich harvest fields which human passion and civil 
strife hfid M last ripened under the peaceful skies and on 
the unstained soil of the new Republic. For there was 
not a community in the South from which the younger 
men of mark, the men whom their people expected 
to take the places and sustain the characters of the 
fathers, did not hasten to take up the heavy burden 
of their responsibility. And if in ordinary times it is 
one of the saddest of human experiences to see the 
sudden destruction of great gifts, the extinction of fair 
promises, the uncompleted and fragmentary achieve- 
ment of useful and honorable lives, with what bitter 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 11 



regret must we not review that long list of the dead, 
whose virtues, whose genius and whose youth we sacri- 
ficed in vain. To the memory of these men I think we 
owe a peculiarly tender care. They went to death at 
our bidding, and the simple and heroic language of one, 
not the least among them, spoke the spirit of them all. 
"Tell the Governor," said he, as he was dying, "that if 
1 am to die now, I g^ive my life cheerfully for the inde- 
pendence of South Carolina." 

"Their leaf has perished in the green, 
And while we breathe beneath the sun, 
The world, which credits what is done, 
Is cold to all that might have been," 

Of the great men of this civil war history will take 
care. The issues were too high, the struggle too 
famous, the consequences too vast for them to be for- 
gotten. But as for these of whom I speak, if the State 
is indeed the mother whom they so fondly loved, she 
will never forget them. She will speak of them in a 
whisper, if it must be, but in tones of love that will 
live through all these dreary days. From among the 
children who survive to her, her heart will yearn for- 



ever towards the early lost. The noble enthusiasm of 
their youth, the vigorous promise of their manhood, 
their imperfect and unrecorded achievement, the pity 
of their deaths will so consecrate their memories that, 
be the revolutions of laws and institutions, be the 
changes of customs and fortunes what they maj', the 
South will, living, cherish with a holier and stronger 
love, and dying, if die she must, will murmur with her 
latest breath the names of "The Confederate Dead." 

Of the class of men to whom I have specially referred, 
I do not think there can be found a worthier represen- 
tative than the subject of this memoir. And I can best 
justify my opinion by telling the tale of his life dimply, 
briefly, I wish I could add nobly, as it really was. 

James Johnston Pettigrew was born at Lake Scup- 
pernong, Tyrrell County, North Carolina, on the 4th 
July, 1828, and was the son of Hon.Ebenezer Pettigrew 
and Ann Shepherd, his Avife. The fiimily from which 
he sprang, was remotely of French origin, but at a very 
early period, branches Avhich recognized their connec- 
tion, settled both in Scotland and Ireland. James Pet- 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 13 



tigrevv, a descendant of the Irish branch, and who was 
an officer in King William's army, at the battle of the 
Boyne, having received a grant of lands from the Crown 
established a family- at Crilly House, near Aughnarcloy, 
in Tj'rone Count}^, which enjoj^ed local consideration, 
and the younger members of which seem chiefly to have 
entered the inilitar}- and naval service, and in some in- 
stances, to have achieved both rank and reputation. One 
of his younger sons, James, who was being prepared for 
Trinity College, Dublin, married early, and having had 
apparently some unpleasant differences with his family 
emigrated to America about 1740. He settled origi- 
nally in Pennsylvania, then moved to Yirginia, thence 
to North Carolina, and finally after these many removes, 
made his home in Abbeville, South Carolina, about 
1768, where he lived to a good old age, and founded 
the family of which the late Hon. James L. Petigru was 
the well known and distinguished representative. When 
he removed from North Carolina, he left behind him his 
third son, Charles Pettigrew, who had been born in 
Pennsylvania, in 1743. This gentleman was educated 
in part, by the Eev. ]\Ir. Waddle, Wirt's famous " Blind 



14 Memorial of 



Preacher;" and ia 1773, was made Master of the Public 
School at Edenton, by Governor Martin. In 1775, he 
went to England to be admitted to holy orders, and was 
ordained by his Diocesan, the Bishop of London. Ee- 
tiirning immediately to Xorth Carolina, his labors w^ere 
devoted to his work in that portion of the State lying 
north and south of Albemarle Sound, and he was for 
many years the Eector of the church in Edenton. His 
ability and virtues seem to have exerted a most bene- 
ficial influence upon his times. The Episcopal Church 
had at that period scarcely an existence in IS'orth Caro- 
lina, and consisted of only a few parishes, almost too 
remote from each other for Christian communion or 
ecclesiastical organization. Mr. Pettigrew appears from 
all the accounts, to have been a man of sincere and 
gentle piety, which sought rather for those points of 
sympathy which unite all Christians, than those differ- 
ences of opinion which divide so many churches. While 
his labors, his attainments and his character attracted 
the regard and won the confidence of his brethren in 
the ministry, the sweetness of his disposition and the 
spirit of charity which in him believed no evil and hoped 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 15 



all things, rendered him dear to many devout people 
who did not worship at the same altar ; and he was not 
more the counsellor of his own church than the friend 
and adviser of denominations not included within the 
limits of his ecclesiastical authority. That there was 
also as much firmness as gentleness in the discharge 
of his duty, and that his sympathy with his fellow 
countrj^men in their trials, was not confined to his 
priestly relations, may be inferred from the fact that in 
1780, he felt it his duty to accompany the militia of the 
State who were called into service for a Southern cam- 
paign. 

He married Mary Blount, the daughter of Col. John 
Blount, the representative of one of the oldest, most 
influential and most respected families of the colony, 
and his own influence was naturally extended by the 
large and powerful connection into which he was thus 
introduced. Soon after the Eevolution, strenuous efl"ort 
was made to organize more eflSciently the Church in 
North Carolina, and in 1704 he was unanimously 
elected b}^ the convention Bishop of the new diocese. 
The history of the Church in the United States fur- 



16 JJemorial of 



nishes the official correspondence between himself and 
Bishop Wliite, but it is onlj^ necessary to state here 
that before his consecration, which was delayed by his 
inability to reach J^ew York in time, he died, leaving 
behind him a gentle and blessed memory. 

He left surviving him one son, Hon. Ebenezer Pet- 
tigrew, who married Ann Shepherd, the daughter of a 
very distinguished family of Xewbern, and seems to 
have inherited much of his father's attractive character 
and useful influence. With the exception of a short 
time, during which he represented his State in Con- 
gress, his life was passed in the cultivated and quiet 
retirement of his paternal estate of Bonarva, in Tyrrell 
County. 

Johnston Pettigrew was the third son of this marriage. 
The earlier portion of his life was passed with his 
maternal grandmother, but from his seventh to his 
fifteenth year his time was spent in summer at the 
school of AY. T. Bingham, in Hillsboro', and his winters 
at home or with his mother's relatives in Paleigh. In 
May, 1843, ho entered college at Chapel Hill, the State 
University, then under the presidency of that eminent 



J. Johnston Fettigrew. 17 

and venerable man, Governor Swain. His scholastic 
career was so brilliant as to have become a colle2;e 
tradition ; his preeminence not only in the usual course 
of study, but in general force and scope of intellect, 
was universallj^ admitted, and when he graduated, in 
1847, not only were those who had superintended his 
education lavish and exultant in their predictions of 
his future eminence, but the Press of the State vary 
generally signalized his graduation as an event in the 
history of the college. That there was more in this 
universal recognition of his merit than the partiality 
of friendship, may be concluded from the fact that Mr. 
Polk, then President of the United States, and himself 
a graduate of Chapel Hill, who was the guest of the 
University at this commencement, and accompanied by 
Commodore Maury, tendered to Pettigrew, at the sug- 
gestion of the latter, one of the Assistant Professor- 
ships in the National Observatory at Washington ; and 
from his journals and papers relating to this period of 
his life, it is not difficult to understand this brilliant 
success. Of course such documents Avould have no 
interest for the world, which looks only at results, but 



18 Memorial of 



they show how great was the superiority of his general 
preparation, how keen, persistent and vigorous was the 
ambition which stimulated his labors, and what per- 
haps best explains his influence with his fellow-students, 
and what every collegian will understand, his intense 
interest in what I may call college politics, his eager 
and animated contest for society honors — in short, his 
complete absorption in that mimic public life which, 
especially in a State institution, goes so far not only to 
form the character but to shape the fortunes of the 
rising generations. Knowing him as I did, familiar 
with many of the hopes and some of the plans of his 
after-life, I. have found a peculiar but sad interest in the 
traits scattered through these records, written with all 
the inconsequence, the frankness, the generosity, the 
vanity of his age, and showing how truly the boy was 
father of the man. 

In 1847, having thus graduated with the highest dis- 
tinction, and having accepted from the President the 
position which he had so honorably won, his life had 
fairly opened, and with prospects for the future brighter, 
clearer, broader than fall to the lot of most men ; a 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 19 



home warm with paternal affection, refined by the cul- 
ture and elevated by the character of its inmates; a 
large and influential connection who were proud of his 
promise and powerful to sustain him in the career of 
honorable ambition; the prestige of an enviable and 
singular success among those with whom he had com- 
menced and with whom he was to go through life; 
great gifts and large talents, carefully cherished and 
highly cultivated ; the influences of the past and the 
hopes of the future to elevate and encourage him. 
Only nineteen years of age, his place in the Observ- 
atory gave him the opportunity for reflection and left 
him free to pursue the even tenor of a life devoted to 
scientific achievement, or to make his preparation de- 
liberately for a more exciting theatre. He was not 
long choosing, for in the vigor of genius he was not 
exempt from that restlessness which is its almost certain 
accompaniment until it has found a congenial field for 
its work. The character of his success at college, and 
the atmosphere of Washington were additional stimu- 
lants to that ambition which finds its natural sphere of 
activitv rather in the conflict with men than in the 



20 Memorial of 



more quiet but more strenuous struggle with thought. 
After a stay of only a few months at the Observatory, 
he decided upon adopting the profession of the law, 
and communicated his decision to his family in a let- 
ter which shows that his choice was made after very 
deliberate reflection. He accordingly removed to Bal- 
timore, and entered upon bis legal studies in the office 
of James Mason Campbell, Esq., where, however, he re- 
mained but a short time, as he accepted an invitation 
from his distinguished relative, Jas. L. Petigru, of 
Charleston, to complete his preparation for the bar in 
his office. He removed to Charleston in 1848, and after 
his admission to the bar, at the earnest instance of very 
near and dear friends, who wished him to receive all 
the advantages of a perfect culture, he left for Europe. 
On the 9th January, 1850, he commenced his voyage, 
and proceeding directly from Liverpool to Berlin, there 
devoted two years to conscientious and profound study. 
At the close of his term of study he travelled through 
Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, England 
and Ireland, and returned in 1852 to Charleston, and his 
profession. During his visit to Spain, Mr. Barrenger, 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 21 



then United States Minister at Madrid, offered him the 
position of Secretary to the Legation, a selection that 
there can be no reason to doubt, would have been con- 
firmed by the authorities at home. It was a post of 
duty peculiarly adapted to his tastes and qualifications. 
But learning that the gentleman then in oflice was, for 
special reasons, very anxious to retain it, and that he 
would be retained if he himself refused the appoint- 
ment, he declined it with a delicate generositj^, as rare 
as it was honorable. 

Before our late civil war, which, notwithstanding its 
present apparently ruinous result, has matured this 
country more rapidly than fifty years of ordinary life, 
I do not think that any young American of large intel- 
lect could have been properlj^ educated without some 
experience of the old world. I do not refer to such 
education as one picks up on the Boulevards of Paris, 
in the Thiergarten of Berlin, in the carnival at Eome, 
or even in that much shrewder and higher school, the 
clubs of London, or that one has seen the old masters 
at Dresden, or witnessed a genuine furore at Milan, or 
a bull fight at Seville, or drank pure hock or unquestion- 



Memorial of 



able Burgundy. I do not think even these things with- 
out their value, for no one can have failed to remark 
the refining effect of even superficial foreign travel 
upon very ordinary people. Xor do I mean something 
higher than this, hard study at Heidelburg, gradu- 
ation at Oxford, courses of science at Paris. But I mean 
this, which many I am sure have felt, although it is 
difficult to express, that the American who has studied 
history in books, never understands until he has lived in 
Europe what history really is. He never comprehends 
where in the point of human progress he stands in 
America, until he looks back upon it from Europe. It 
is not that he is among strange institutions and peculiar 
habits, different costumes and unfamiliar languages, that 
he sees cathedrals like Westminster, or palaces like the 
Tuileries. It is the atmosphere, the moral atmosphere, 
saturated with the crimes and with the virtues, the 
hopes and the failures of thousands of years of human 
civilization. There is a vitality, a reality in the past 
entirely new to his experience. He feels that the fu- 
ture, which to the genuine American looks so free, is, in 
fact, bound irrevocably to that humanity which has 



J. Johnston Pettigrew, 23 



suffered and struggled and failed and achieved through 
so many centuries, and that under conditions, which 
apparently new, are but variations of those essential 
conditions under which the social and political life of 
the world has grown for ages, we are acting our part in 
that one solemn and continuous drama the plot of which 
is above the comprehension, as it is beyond the alte- 
ration of the greatest actor in its varied scenes. And 1 
have never known one upon whom this impression was 
made, who did not come home a wiser and better man. 
Johnston Pettigrew had the intellect, the training, the 
moral nature to learn this lesson, and he grew in sta- 
ture visibly during his residence abroad. His journal 
and letters which are not finished enough for publica- 
tion, exhibit in a comparatively immature form the 
same powers of observation and reflection to which I 
shall have occasion to refer hereafter, in noticing his 
second voyage to Europe. 

It is sufficient for me to say here that he came home 
with that intense consciousness of the sacred unity of 
the whole history of humanity, which, while it gave 
larger worth and dignity to the history of his own 



24 Memorial of 



country, also gave to his study of the history of other 
times and people that breadth of view and varied inter- 
est Avhich he hoped would one day bear no unw^orthy 
fruit. And he had acquired an earnestness of purpose, 
which, if it could not entn-ely suppress that craving for 
cotemporary appreciation which is perhaps an instinct 
rather than a weakness, had at least taught him to sub- 
stitute, for the desire of great distinction, the honorable 
effort for great achievment. 

In his return to the bar, in 1852, he enjoyed, as 
he had done through life, many signal advantages. It 
is true that he was a stranger in a society, which, 
although governed by very generous impulses and 
ready sympathies, was still not unnaturally leavened by 
the spirit of family connection and local prejudice ; 
one in which nearlj^ all the leading interest of its social 
and industrial life were represented at the bar by young 
men of character and ability, in whose fortunes the 
community were personally concerned; and the city 
was scarcely large enough for that sort of professional 
success which is entirely independent of personal con- 
nection. But this disadvantage was more than com- 



J. Johnston Fettlgrew. 



25 



pensated by the fact that he was at once associated in 
business Avith his distinguished relative who had for 
many years stood without competition at the head of 
the profession in Carolina. Not only was he thus 
spared the difficult and wearisome labor of making a 
practice, but the character and extent of the engage- 
ments of the legal firm of which he was a member gave 
him at once that opportunity, on important and inter- 
esting cases, of exhibiting his ability, for which, in the 
ordinary course of events, he must have waited a long 
time. And to his honor be it said, that the great lawyer 
who had thus adopted him never ceased to manifest the 
most affectionate interest in his success; for it is well 
known to his friends that that large-hearted man, whose 
life had not ^QQnw without its sorrows and disappoint- 
ments, had found in the young kinsman, who shared 
his blood and name, the fulfilment of one of his proudest 
hopes, and looked upon him as the inheritor, in another 
generation, of that splendid reputation which his own 
virtues and labors had established. 

It is, perhaps, impossible to say how far Johnston 
Pettio-rew would have fulfilled that hope. That he an- 



26 Memorial of 



ticipated such achievement I do not think. Ilis cul- 
ture was too varied, his appreciation of other sorts of 
distinction too high, he was too free from the pecuniary 
necessity of professional success to have given to the 
law that patient and exclusive devotion, the absence of 
Avhich no genius can supply. He practiced law because 
he found in it the most congenial sphere for a mental 
activity that could not rest satisfied with merely ac- 
quiring, and because in this country its training and its 
influence were the almost necessary preparations for 
political life. His wonderful, almost unrivalled, quick- 
ness of perception and acquisition, his habits of severe 
and concentrated study, and above all his faculty, so to 
speak, of putting himself in sympathy with the subject 
of his studies, with the power of impressing clearly and 
strongly what he knew, enabled him to sustain the 
reputation which had been given him, and I think the 
profession recognized in him, during their short expe- 
rience, the capacity of a very high intellect. His con- 
nection with the bar lasted only four or five years. His 
position scarcely placed upon him the full responsibility 
of professional life, and he was never tested in that de- 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 27 



partment of practice which is the basis of professional 
reputation and consists not so much in brilliant argu- 
ments and recondite learning as in the practical sense 
which in the quiet of the office and the privacy of con- 
sultation directs and controls the business interests of 
the community. \Yhile, therefore, practicing at the 
bar he was preparing for that public life which was the 
real object of his aspirations. At that time there can 
be hardly said to have been any real political life in 
South Carolina. Mr. Calhoun had died in 1850. For 
many years before his death his will had been the law 
in the State and his opinions were received as decisions 
which governed her action. His isolation from either 
of the great living parties of the country, the State 
faithfully represented, while his long and undisputed 
autocracy, by diminishing all other men, had left the 
State absolutely without leaders in whom they confided. 
The State was Democratic, of course, but it had no active 
association with the Democratic party. It took no 
share in the party counsels, and supported its nomina- 
tions steadily and consistently, but without sympathy. 
The political divisions in the State were, therefore. 



28 Memorial of 



almost entirely personal, and as such differences never 
arouse the popular feeling, active political life was left 
very much to the friends of a few distinguished men 
Avho were supposed to hold the true faith and were 
allowed to distribute the political honors among them, 
selves. But in the Presidential campaign of 1856, a 
party in the State headed by Colonel Orr, who at thai 
time represented the mountain district in Congress, 
demanded that the State should manifest a more active 
sympathy with the Democratic party, and. abandoning 
the policy of isolation which they believed due to the 
accidents of Mr. Calhoun's position and unwise in itself, 
should participate in the convention which made the 
presidential nominations. It would be useless, and now 
perhaps not even interesting, to review this old contro- 
versy. It is enough for my present purpose to say that 
Johnston Pettigrew agreed with their opinions and 
took an active part in the political movement in Charles- 
ton which resulted in a convention of the State to nomi- 
nate delegates to the Cincinnati Convention; that his 
course was acceptable to the constituency among whom 
he lived; and that at the October elections of 1856 he 



J. Johnston Fettigrew. 29 



was elected one of the representatives to the Legisla- 
ture from the City of Cliarleston. As a legislator his 
career was brief and brilliant, and not onlj' brilliant 
but useful in a very high sense. 

I am not, I think, given to exaggeration, and I have 
had sufficient experience of life on a wider scale to be 
cured of that extravagance of admiration for local habits 
and local reputations which is the weakness of all small 
and isolated communities. South Carolina is a Yery 
small and not a very important part of the civilized 
world, and it would be very ridiculous to compare its 
Legislature to that most august of deliberative assem- 
blies the British House of Commons. But it is never- 
theless true that in the Legislature of this State have 
been preserved with singular fidelity some of the most 
striking features of the Parliament of our ancestors. 
The reverence for the forms of parliamentary law, the 
influence belonging to that silent body of country gen- 
tlemen, the long continuance of individual representa- 
tives, the weight given to the precedents of former gen- 
erations, the peculiar respect and dignity attached to 
the office of speaker, the antiquated and stately cos- 



30 Memorial of 



tnme of the presiding officers of both branches of the 
General Assemblj^, the unwritten and unbroken law 
of adjournment so that the parish representatives 
should be on their estates at Christmas, all were 
traditions of the habits and thoughts of our Eng- 
lish blood. In every other State, even at the South, 
there was a general legislative uniformity and con- 
formity to that worst of models, the United States 
House of Eepresentatives. But here an unbroken line 
of speakers from the colonial days of Jonathan Amory 
to the Ordinance of Secession, presided over a political 
assembly which preserved more of the conservatism of 
the old world than any other institution on this conti- 
nent, except, I ought to add, the common law as ad- 
ministered by the judiciary of the same State. Estab- 
lished in colonial times, when the parishes really 
represented all the wealth and all the population of the 
State, the parish system, with its intense respect for 
landed property, its deference to personal connection, 
its genuine love of culture and its sensitive obedience to 
the rules of good breeding, gave a character to the 
Legislature which it never entirly lost. The represen- 



J. Johnston Pettigrew, 31 



tatioii sprang from it. Session after session the same 
men, the natural leaders of the State, the men who rep- 
resented broad acres and thousands of slaves, the men 
who had won power and honor by professional labor^ 
the men who, in less conspicuous walks of life, had made 
for themselves names for industry, honesty and ability, 
met to make the laws of the State; and as years went 
on the boys from the college (as much a part of the 
State as the Legislature) who filled the galleries, and to 
whom the debates were as much a part of their educa- 
tion as their recitations, came down from the galleries 
to fill the seats in the House, and to renew and perpet- 
uate hereditary friendships. A member's name was an 
indication of the district he represented, and the public 
life of the State was developed in full and fitting sym- 
pathy with the personal affections, the traditional 
associations, the local attachments that made its private 
life. The tone and temper of such an association of 
men could not but be elevated. There were among 
them men of difterent conditions, various degrees 
of culture, of very diverse habits of thought, keen 
politicians, and very strong and contrary ambitions. 



But above all they were gentlemen. And by that I 
mean men who, by the universal consent of the society 
in which they lived, had the right to respect and did 
re?«pect themselves and each other. And they were 
bound together by that unity of the spirit which sprang 
from a simple but deep and unaffected devotion to the 
State whose honor and whose interests were entrusted 
to their keeping. Their sense of personal responsibility 
not only gave courtesy and dignity to their manners, 
but it secured that spirit of manliness and fair play 
which is the surest guarantee against the injustice of 
party; and I think I can say with truth that anything 
approaching fraud or falsehood, however it might serve 
the exigencies of party, anything like meanness or 
cowardice would, with them, have destroyed, beyond 
hope of redemption, the most brilliant reputation. 

Intellectually they were not above the average of 
sensible men, but they represented too absolutely the 
property and sentiment of the State to make any grave 
mistake as to its interests. They possessed an un- 
bounded admiration for intellectual supcriorit3\ and 
took a generous pride in the individual reputation of 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 33 

their colleagues. Thej were familiar with the discus- 
sion of many grave questions by very distinguished men ; 
and although in the main, as all sensible men are, very 
tolerant of mediocrity, they were shrewd and cultivated 
critics when their admiration was challenged. They 
had trained a'nd disciplined many men whose fame as 
orators and statesmen had become national, and with 
the exception of Mr. Calhoun, I do not know a great 
reputation in the State, the foundation of which was 
not laid broadly and solidly in the Legislature. It was 
in brief a body of whose judgment a young member 
might well feel apprehensive, of whose kind and gen- 
erous sympath}^ he might be assured, and of whose de- 
liberate approval he would have everj^ reason to be 
proud. 

In this body Johnston Pettigrew took his seat as one 
of the representatives from Charleston, at the extra 
session for the election of Presidential electors in 1856, 
and at the regular session a few week after made his 
maiden speech. A very strong effort had been made at 
the preceding Legislature, and had been renewed at 
this, to modify the judiciary system of the State. No 



34 Memorial of 



subject could have excited a more earnest and intelligent 
interest, for the character of the judiciary, both for in- 
tegrity and ability, had always been the pride of the 
State. A bill was introduced by Nelson Mitchell, the 
Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, another of those 
whose sun has gone down at midday, which provided 
for the creation of a separate court of appeals. There 
was a very warm difference of opinion between very 
able men. The old circuit court system had strong 
advocates. It was familiar to the people, w^as more 
economical, had in the course of its existence fur- 
nished some very eminent judges, and was much more 
agreeable to the country bar than the proposed change. 
The metropolitan bar, whose standard of judicial at- 
tainment was higher, and who were seriously incon- 
venienced by the delay incident to the existing sys- 
tem, warmly advocated both as a matter of efficiency 
and convenience, the creation of an independent and su- 
preme court of appeals. The discussion was sustained 
by the most distinguished members of the Ilouse, aud 
at its close Mr. Pettigrew addressed the speaker in sup- 
port of the bill. The speech was clear, strong, admi- 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 35 



rable in tone and temper, and above all, fresh. While 
it was practical, it avoided common place. The 
argument rested on large principles, but the appli- 
cation was direct and business-like, and it was col- 
ored by those scholarly illustrations in which the 
taste of the House took special pleasure. When 
he sat down his introduction to the public life 
of the State had been accomplished with signal 
success. 

At the ensuing session he took a long step forwards, 
a step not of promise, but of positive progress in the 
achievement of recognized and influential public posi- 
tion. The discussion of the slavery question had 
been during the last few years assuming in the poli- 
tics of the United States a graver and angrier char- 
acter. The Abolition party had ceased to be a small 
school of speculative reformers, and had become a 
strong party of political agitators. The Mexican war 
and the admission of Kansas had furnished the oppor- 
tunity of making the constitutional recognition of 
slavery a question of direct practical importance, and 
it was fast becoming, as it did become, a very few years 



36 Memorial of 



later, the essential issue of the great political contest of 
the Presidential election. 

As the dispute became more envenomed, the extreme 
men on either side became more violent, and the theo- 
ries of both parties were pushed more resolutely to 
their logical consequences, regardless of the great his- 
torical fact that the Constitution had been adopted and 
could only be preserved by a wise compromise of these 
very extremes. At the South, the extreme advocates 
of slavery abandoning or rather going beyond the old, 
and I think, impregnable position that domestic slavery 
was a political and social relation between the two 
races, recognized by the Constitution and guaranteed 
by that instrument so long as any one of the States 
maintained its existence, undertook to prove the intrin- 
sic righteousness and excellence of the institution, and 
demanded as a perfectly logical consequence from their 
premises that the constitutional prohibition of the slave 
trade should be abrogated. The men who held these 
views represented a very small minority even in South 
Carolina, and were distinguished rather for their eccen- 
tric and bold speculativeness of opinion than for any 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 37 

real influence upon public affairs. But in 1856, Gover- 
nor Adams gave a sudden and factitious importance to 
these opinions by advocating them in his annual mes- 
sage to the Legislature of South Cai'olina. The subject 
was referred in both branches of the General Assembly 
to special committees, with leave to sit during the 
adjournment and report at the next session. In the 
committee of the House, Mr. Pettigrew, although the 
youngest member, was selected by the minority to rep- 
resent their opinions. At the session of 1857, the re- 
port was made. In its condemnation of the views and 
recommendations of the governor it was a clear, com- 
plete, eloquent and forcible exposition of the convictions 
of three-fourths of the slaveholders of the South. The 
report is too well known and attracted too much atten- 
tion to render an analysis necessary. The complete- 
ness of the argument, the breadth of the principles 
upon which it rested, its full and exhausting history of 
all the legislation of other nations on the same subject, 
the curious picture of the social consequences of the 
slave trade drawn with infinite labor and ability from a 
study of the old statute law of the State, made this re- 



38 Memorial of 



port a document of permanent interest and value. The 
subject is one which it is scarcely pleasant or profitable 
to review. I will venture but one opinion, and that is 
that if time had been allowed for the principles which 
^vere the basis of that report, to have been enforced 
and illustrated, to have been applied to the larger con- 
sideration of the whole question in controversy, by such 
men as Mitchell and Pettigrew and others, who being 
still living I do not think it proper to mention, and 
who were young and strong enough to have waited for 
the result of their labor, I think a school of public 
opinion would have been formed at the South which 
^vould have steadily widened the sphere of its influence 
and manifested its ability to deal wisely and success- 
full}^ with those issues which have just reached their 
bloody solution. But be that as it may — at the close 
of the session of 1857, Johnston Pettigrew had fairly 
reached a position from which he could look forw^ard 
with confidence to an open career of honorable and dis- 
tinguished usefulness. But I must add with sorrow 
and not without mortification that w^ith this session his 
legislative career closed. B}^ one of those miserable 



J. Johnston Fettigrew. 39 



chances which results from the unworthy personal 
scramble for honors and office which the legislative 
election in Charleston has more than once become, 
he was defeated in the October elections of 1858, and 
thus his services were lost to the State at the very 
time ihey were most needed and would have been 
most valuable. He was disappointed, naturally enough, 
but more so I think than the occasion warranted or 
what was due to his own character ought to have 
permitted. For that popular confidence which secures 
stability of power, requires time and long and per- 
sistent achievement. Ko gifts however brilliant, no 
purpose however pure, will obtain it without patience 
of spirit and tenacity of temper. This disappoint- 
ment, however, gave him the opportunity to carry 
out a purpose which he had long cherished. He 
had felt, early in life, a desire for military service, 
and when a student at Berlin had made an ineffec- 
tual effort to procure admission into the Prussian 
army. The Italian war, which excited his warmest 
sympathies, was now in progress, and he determined 
to apply for a staff appointment in the Sardinian 



40 Memorial of 



army. The motive of his conduct I can best describe 
in his own words : 

"It was on the night of the -Ith of July, 1859, that 
I crossed Mount Cenis on the wh}^ to Turin. Though 
the precise date was a matter of accident, its associa- 
tions were in happy unison with the object of the jour- 
ney and the sentiments which prompted me. It was 
my birthday, but far more it was the day that ushered 
into life my native land — a day ever memorable in the 
history of the world — ^^not so much because it had added 
another to the family of nations as because it had an- 
nounced amid the crack of rifles and the groans of ex- 
piring patriots, the great principle that every people 
has an inalienable right of self-government without re- 
sponsibility to aught on earth, save such as may be im- 
posed by a due respect for the opinions of mankind. 
Once more this great battle wias to be fought, no longer 
in the wilds of the American forest, but on land re- 
nowned through all ages, and rendered sacred by recol- 
lections of intellect, art and religion. Xow, as then, a 
tyrant empire had with vain boastings poured her 
legions upon a devoted land ; now, as then, the op- 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 41 



pressed few forgetting their dissensions, hiid risen to 
burst their chains asunder; and now, too, as then, a 
great nation, the generous French, were rushing with 
disciplined battalions to aid struggling, expiring hu- 
manity. It was certainly humiliating that so large a 
portion of Europe should have remained unsympathiz- 
ing spectators of the contest. On the part of an Amer- 
ican, acquiescence in such neutrality would have been 
treason against nature. Inspired by these sentiments, 
I was hurrying with Avhat speed I might, to offer 
my services to the Sardinian Government, and to ask 
the privilege of serving as a volunteer in her armies — 
perhaps a foolish errand if measured by the ideas of 
this unromantic century. No emotion of my life was 
ever so pure, so free from every shade of conscientious 
doubt or selfish consideration. At the distance of four 
thousand miles, we were happily ignorant of the under- 
hand intrigues, if any there were, which so frequently 
disgust one in the turmoil of politics. I saw but the 
spectacle of an injured people, struggling as America 
had done, to throw off the yoke of a foreign and com- 
paratively barbarous oppressor, and as we passed bat- 



talion after battalion of brave Freoch slowly ascending 
the mountain, I felt toward them all the fervor of 
youth, fired by the grateful traditions of eighty years 
ago." — Spain and the Spaniards. 

His application was successful, but on his way to join 
the army he was met by the news of the peace of Villa 
Franca, w^hich of course put an end to the purpose of 
his journey. Thus disappointed he devoted a few 
months to revisiting Spain, and returned to South 
Carolina towards the close of 1859. But his voyage 
was not without fruit, and in 1860 he printed for pri- 
vate circulation among his friends, "Spain and the 
Spaniards," a volume which forms the only memorial 
he has left us of his severe studies, his varied accom- 
plishments, his high aspirations. This book is admira- 
bly written. The country and the people whom be 
described had for him a romantic charm, and his enthu- 
siastic sympathy with their history and character gives 
to his descriptions a warmth and truthfulness which 
a colder observation could never have imparted. His 
thorough knowledge of Spanish history and his famil- 
iarity with the language taught him both what to ob- 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 43 



serve and how to observe, while his reflections have the 
breadth and vigor and freshness which in the study of 
the old world can be given only by the consciousness of 
the ever-living connection between the past and the 
present. While the spirit of the book is genuinely 
American, especially so in some of its outspoken preju- 
dices, and very liberal in its political coloring, its tone 
of refined and accomplished culture, its quick, bright 
sketches of character, its love of nature, its picturesque 
description of national habits and institutions give both 
variety and refinement to its pages, and although it 
scarcely afforded scope for the exhibition of his general 
ability, it will I am confident, if ever published, be 
placed in the front rank of that department of litera- 
ture. 

Pettigrew returned from Europe with the same con- 
viction he had carried away, from home, that every 
hour was bringing nearer the unavoidable conflict, and 
he had not been slightly influenced in his desire to see 
large and active service abroad by the persuasion that 
all he could learn there would find its early and fitting 
use here. Thus impressed, he had not only before his 



44 Memorial of 



journey devoted himself to the study of military science, 
so far as the best books in the various modern languages 
could teach, but while in Paris had used all such oppor- 
tunities as his favorable introductions and his avowed 
purpose afforded him. Upon his return he devoted 
himself with his usual enthusiasm to the improvement 
of the militia of the city. Elected captain of a rifle 
company, he endeavored to fashion it upon the Zouave 
model, the drill eflSeiency of which he had admired in 
France. The novelty as well as the success of his ex- 
periment attracted great attention and he was soon 
elected Colonel of the First Eifle Eegiment, the best 
organization of volunteer troops in the State. In a 
very little while his own energy and the sj^irit which 
he infused into his command made it a model of volun- 
teer organization. But he did more than this. He 
not only perfected their discipline and organization, but 
he fostered and developed in his command the convic- 
tion tbat their discipline and organization had a pur- 
pose beyond parade display, and that all its dignity 
sprang from the great duty for which it was a prepara- 
tion, and the hour of that duty was fast approaching. 



J. Johnston Peftigrew. 45 



That event occurred which for more than one genera- 
tion had been the subject of household talk and public 
discussion, which old men had died hoping, and young 
men had grown up expecting to see, which was the ex- 
pression of the prejudices and the passions, the conflict- 
ing interests and the contrary convictions of a half 
century of political strife. South Carolina seceded from 
the Union, and called upon her children to rally to the 
support of the only government they had ever been 
taught to love or to obey. Before the negotiations 
which the State initiated with the United States Gov- 
ernment immediately upon her assumption of sovereign 
power could reach their formal but inevitable conclu- 
sion, one of those occurrences which the history of the 
world proves always Avill happen in times of revolution 
to baflae the intentions and plans of those who would 
control them, placed the issue before the country sharp 
and sudden. Major Anderson, in command of the 
United States forces in Charleston harbor, without 
orders from Washington suddenly evacuated Fort 
Moultrie, secured Fort Sumter under cover of night, 
and in the morning had occupied a position which 



46 Memorial of 



involved the whole question in controversy and required 
for its peaceable solution the abandonment either by 
the United States or the State of the rights they re- 
spectively claimed. 

It would be idle now to inquire how far the action of 
Major Anderson hastened hostilities. It is sufficient to 
say here that the State of South Carolina felt bound to 
meet the consequences, and to secure possession of the 
other forts commanding the harbor. Colonel Pettigrew, 
whose command had immediately tendered their ser- 
vices to the Executive, was ordered to occupy Castle 
Pinckney, and shortly after was transferred to Morris 
Island, and charged with the preparation necessary at 
that point to prevent the reinforcement of Fort Sumter 
by the United States Government. This duty, which 
required not only the engineering knowledge requisite 
for the erection of batteries, but the combination of en- 
ergy and tact indispensable to the discipline and train- 
ing of troops unaccustomed to the discomfort and re- 
straint of camp life and real service was discharged by 
Colonel Pettigrew to the entire satisfaction of the Ex- 
ecutive, and during his command, a council of war was 



J. Johnston Pettigrew, 47 



seldom held of which he was not a member. The es- 
tablishment of the Confederacy transferred the control 
of military operations from the State authorities, and 
upon the arrival of General Beauregard, Colonel Petti- 
grew was removed to Sullivan's Island, where he re- 
mained until the surrender of Fort Sumter, the charac- 
ter of that bombardment excluding the infantry arm of 
the service from any active participation in its opera- 
tions. 

With the fall of Fort Sumter, all hopes of peace 
ended, and both sections addressed themselves earnestly 
to the work before them, and the spirit of serious, I 
might say, sorrowful resolution with which the South 
entered upon the struggle, was well expressed by Col- 
onel Pettigrew, who, in July, 1861, received a stand of 
colors for his regiment with the following words: 

" The flag of the old republic is ours no more. That 
noble standard which has so often waved over victorious 
fields ; which has so often carried hope to the afflicted 
and struggling hearts of Europe; which has so often 
protected us in distant lands, afar from home and 
kindred, now threatens us with destruction. In all its 



48 Memorial of 



former renown we participated. Southern valor bore it 
to its proudest triumphs, and oceans of Southern blood 
have watered the ground beneath it. Let us lower it 
with honor, and lay it reverently upon the earth." 

Of General Pettigrew's military career from this 
point I scarcely feel competent to speak. At the time 
of his death he had not risen to that rank in which inde- 
pendent command and the responsibilty of important 
operations, give historical interest to the conduct of the 
soldier, and therefore in what I say I will refer to the 
events of his military life rather as illustrations of his 
character than in their connection with the history of 
the war. And even here I consider myself fortunate 
that I am able to use the language of one who was his 
friend and his companion ; one who, when he speaks of 
battles, tells what he has seen — -when he describes a sol- 
dier, tells what he has been. General James Conner, in 
a letter written to a friend, soon after General Petti- 
grew's death, says ; 

'• Immediately after the fall of Fort Sumter prepara- 
tions for war were vigorously made by both of the con- 
tending parties. The troops which had been embodied 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 49 



for the defence of Charleston, and who had been in the 
field for three months, were, with few exceptions, the 
only military organizations of the State. For the pro- 
secution of the war beyond the limits of the State, 
special organizations were needed. The reputation for 
military ability, whicli General Pettigrew had acquired, 
and the confidence he had inspired in all who had served 
with or under him, pointed him out as an appropriate 
leader under whom to organize. The same qualities, 
however, had already attracted the notice of the Legis- 
lature, and the position of Adjutant-General of the 
State was tendered to him, and his acceptance of it 
urged under the belief that his administrative ability 
could accomplish more good in organizing the forces of the 
State than by restricting himself to the duties of a single 
regiment. The position, however, was not acceptable 
to him, and he declined it. He preferred the active 
duties of the field, and at the request of General Beau- 
regard, and with the approval of the Executive of the 
State, he proceeded to organize a rifle regiment for the 
war, of which he was to be colonel. Companies far ex- 
ceeding the number permitted were rapidly raised and 



50 Memorial of 



tendered to him; his selections made, his field and staff 
officers agreed upon, and Major Barker, the Junior Field 
Officer, dispatched to Montgomery, the then seat of the 
Confederate Government, to tender the regiment to the 
Secretary of \Yar, and receive authority to muster it 
into service. The views of the War Department at this 
time were, not to receive organized regiments, but to 
receive only companies, reserving to itself the organi- 
zation into regiments, and the selection and appointment 
of field officers. This mode of organization was not in 
accordance with the wishes or expectations of those who 
constituted the regiment. The companies had been 
formed and organized with a view to the rifle regiment, 
and to those whom they had understood were to be its 
field officers; and the projiosition to lay aside those 
under whom they were anxious to serve, and for whom 
they had raised and organized these companies, was in 
the highest degree distasteful to the officers of the regi- 
ment. Several attempts w^ere made to change the 
decision of the Secretary of War, but without effect, 
and the several companies composing the regiment 
being unwilling to accept officers named b}^ the War 



J. Johnston Pettigreio. 51 



Department and unknown to them, sought and obtained 
admission into other organizations then in process of 
being raised in the State, under authority direct from 
the War Department. The company which I had 
raised for the rifle regiment — the Washington Light 
Infantry Volunteers — was received into the Hatnpton 
Legion. 

" Colonel Pettigrew was thus without command, but 
his ardent spirit would not permit him to remain a 
mere spectator of the strife, and soon after my com- 
mand was moved to Richmond, he wrote me requesting 
leave to join my company, and shortly after came on. 
He was only a few days in Richmond when he received 
a letter from the Governor of North Carolina, inform- 
ing him that he had been commissioned as Colonel of 
the Twelfth North Carolina. The next day he started 
for Raleigh to assume command. A few days after, the 
Legion was ordered to Manassas, and participated in 
the battle of the 21st Julj', and well do I remember the 
earnestness with which Pettigrew, when next we met, 
listened to our narrative of the battle, and the great 
reo;ret he felt at having so narrowly missed participa- 



52 Memorial of 



tion in the glory and excitement of that day's triumph. 
During the winter of 1861-62, he was camped at Evans- 
port, on the Potomac, and there, as at Charleston, his 
high military attainments, his quick perception, and 
unflinching, untiring devotion to duty, rapidly won for 
him the confidence and esteem of all who surrounded 
him. He was assigned to important duties requiring 
high skill both as engineer and artillery officer. These 
he discharged so completely to the satisfaction of those 
in authority, that without his knowledge, he Avas rec- 
ommended to promotion to the rank of brigadier. The 
appointment was tendered to him. To the surprise of 
the president he refused it, and being in Richmond at 
the time, he waited upon the president to state to him 
the reasons of his refusal. The principal ground upon 
which he based his non-acceptance was that he had 
never been under fire, never handled troops in action, 
and his conviction was firm that no man who had not 
been actually tried in battle should be appointed to the 
rank of brigadier. The president replied with a smile 
that the responsibility for the appointment was his, that 
he was thoroughly satisfied with Colonel Pettigrew's 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 53 



qualifications for the position and had no hesitation in 
tendering the appointment, and urging its acceptance. 
The presi(ient was, however, met b}^ a firmness of pur- 
pose equal to his own, and Colonel Pettigrew persist- 
ently refused the appointment to the admiration and 
somewhat the amusement of the president, who re- 
marked that he wished the whole country could have 
heard the conversation which had taken place between 
them, as he had been besieged with applications for 
brigadierships upon every conceivable ground, but that 
this was the first instance of an officer refusing promo- 
tion because he had not demonstrated his ability to 
discharge the duties. Colonel Pettigrew returned to 
Fredericksburg and remained there for a few days. At 
the expiration of that time, General French, his brigade 
commander, was ordered to report to Wilmington for 
duty, and Major-General Holmes commanding the 
troops in and around Fredericksburg, sent for Colonel 
Pettigrew and insisted on his writing to the War De- 
partment, and revoking his refusal of the tendered 
commission. For a long while Pettigrew combated 
the reasons of the general and declined to accede to his 



54 Memorial of 



request. It was only when the general seriously and 
earnestly said — ' Colonel Pettigrew, it is important to 
the command and the country that you take the office, 
and I regard it as your duty to do so ' — that Pettigrew 
yielded his own convictions and wrote the desired let- 
ter. I saw him a day or two afterwards and he was 
even then chafing at having given up his own ideas of 
what was proper, and referring to some experiences we 
had shared, remarked : ' You and I ought to know by 
this time that a man's own convictions are the surest 
guides for his own action. He ought not to listen to 
anything else.' I laughed at his earnestness and replied 
that on this occasion I belonged to the Holmes faction, 
and was delighted that the major-general had over-ruled 
him into accepting. A few days after, the army was 
moved to Yorktown, and I did not see Pettigrew again 
until on the retreat from that place, when we met for a 
few moments at Williamsburg. We met subsequently 
for a moment as his brigade and that to which I be- 
longed were moving together into the battle of Seven 
Pines. At the close of the fight I learned that he was 
known to be captured and supposed to be killed. The 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 55 



next time I saw him I was wounded in Eicbmond, and 
he had just returned from Fort Deh\ware, and was still 
unfit for duty owing to the wound received at Seven 
Pines, but eager to be in the field again. He shortly 
after returned to the field in command of a brigade 
near Petersburg, and I was invalided to South Caro- 
lina. We never met again. 

" Of his military abilities I need hardly speak. They 
were known and respected by the whole army. Dis- 
tinguished as he was in the pursuits and employments 
of civil life, he was by nature essentially a soldier. The 
life military and everj'thing connected with it, even to 
the slightest details of the profession, had for him a 
charm which no other profession yielded. Possessing 
many qualities, eminently fitting him for command, he 
possessed that rare faculty of inspiring confidence in 
those whom he commanded. From the company up to 
the division, there was no body of troops whom he ever 
commanded, even for a short time, who were not de- 
voted to him, and ready to follow him regardless of all 
dangers. He infused his own spirit into those whom 
he commanded, he shared their perils and privations, 



58 Memorial of 



and systematically disregarding bis own comfort, he 
labored for theirs. Firm and strict as a discipHnarian, 
he was eminently just. His impartiality was a proverb. 
Doing his own duty fully and thoroughly, he exacted 
from all under him the full performance of theirs; and 
the knowledge that duty had to be performed, and that 
neglect of it was sure ahke of detection and punish- 
ment, rendered punishment almost unnecessary, and 
made everything in his command move with tbe regu- 
larity and precision of a well regulated machine. He 
watched over his troops most anxiously. He regarded 
them as a trust, and labored for them faithfully, and 
they repaid his care with a devotion w4iich I have never 
seen equalled. It was impossible by any words to give 
a faithful description of the confidence he inspired, or 
the enthusiasm he awakened in his troops. To realize 
it, one must have lived among his troops and heard the 
recital from their own lijDS. Throui^h his friendly in- 
fluence 1 was selected to command his regiment shortly 
after he became a brigadier, and although he had then 
been separated from it for some time, his influence re- 
mained as strong as ever. They loved to talk of him^ 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 



they were proud of having served under him, and I am 
sure that no stronger appeal could have been made to 
these men, in their hour of battle, than to bid them 
remember that Pettigrew still looked to them to do 
their duty. 

"Skilful, fertile in experience, full of resource, bold, 
yet with quick and sound judgment, reckless only where 
he was personally concerned, and inspiring confidence 
and enthusiasm w^ierever he w^ent. he only needed time 
to have won his way to the highest military distinc- 
tion." 

The report of his death, to which General Conner re- 
fers, excited the universal lamentation of the country, 
and he enjoyed the unusual privilege of hearing w^hile 
he lived what would be said of him when he died. As 
soon as he was sufficiently recovered from the effects of 
his w^ound and imprisonment, he resumed the command 
of his brigade, although the exigencies of the service 
had transferred his old regiment to another command. 
His efficiency and the enthusiasm which his reputation 
incited in his native State, however, soon perfected the 
discipline of the new organization and filled its ranks 



58 Memorial of 



with the best manhood of North Caroliiui. With this 
command he joined the army of the Potomac, and en- 
tered with Lee upon the Pennsylvania campaign. At 
the battle of G-ettysburg, the first great engagement in 
which he took a prominent part, he was in command of 
Heth's division, which, under General Longstreet, and 
in conjunction with Pickett's, attempted the fatal and 
famous advance upon Cemetery Hill, on the morning 
of the 3d July, 18(J3. 

"Thedistance," says General Petligrew's aide-de-camp, 
Captain Young, " over which we had to advance may 
be estimated when I state that the fuses for the shell 
used by the artiller}^ stationed immediately in our front 
Avere cut for one and a quarter milc^. The ground over 
which we had to pass was perfectly open, and numerous 
fences, some parallel and others oblique to our line of 
battle, were formidable impediments in our way. The 
position of the enemy was all he could desire. From 
the crest on which he was entrenched, the hill sloped 
gradually, forming a natural glacis, and the configura- 
tion of the ground was such that when the left of our 
line approached his works, it must come within the arc 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 59 



of a circle from which a direct, oblique and enfilade fire 
could be and was concentrated upon it." All that hu- 
man courage could do was done. The heroic battalions 
reached the enemies lines, but only to be hurled back 
in final and bloody defeat. G-eneral Pettigrew was him- 
self painfully wounded, the majority of his staff killed 
or disabled, while of the other officers, Burgwy(|p and 
Marshall, McCreay and Iredell, all North Carolinians, 
wrote in blood their testimony that with unweaned de- 
votion and unbroken spirit, their State had followed the 
Confederate banners to the extremest point where Lee 
had planted them. The noble brigade which, on the 
morning of the 1st July, mustered three thousand men, 
numbered on the morning of the 4th, eight hundred 
and thirty-five. Well might General Lee say in those 
simple and weighty words, which will make history for 
another generation : 

" The conduct of the troops was all that I could de- 
sire or expect, and they deserved success so far as it can 
be deserved by heroic valor and fortitude. More may 
have been required of them than they were able to per- 
form, but my admiration of their noble qualities and 



60 Memorial of 



my confidence in their ability to cope successfully with 
the enemy, has suffered no abatement from this issue of 
protracted and sansjuinary conflict." 

The Confederate army fell back upon Hagerstown 
and the Potomac without interference from the enemy, 
crossing that river partly at Williamsport and partly 
at Falling Waters. Greneral Longstreet's corps, of Avbieh 
Heth's division formed a part, crossed at the latter 
place. On the morning of the 14th July this division, 
after a weary and exhausting night's march, stopped 
for rest and breakfast about a mile and a quarter from 
the bridge at Falling Waters. For some inexplicable 
reason General Heth had not thrown out pickets, and 
about nine o'clock while he. General Pettigrew and 
several other officers were walking towards the left 
of the division, their attention was attracted by a small 
squad of cavalry riding out of a wooded valley about a 
mile off. Their number (about twenty-five) and their 
neighborhood misled General Heth into the belief 
that they were Confederate troops, and before the 
error was discovered, they had reached the group of 
officers Avho bad remained at the sj^ot from which 



' Vj 



3 ■■ "u / 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 61 

they had just been seen. The arms of the soldiers 
in the immediate vicinity were stacked, the men 
surprised, there was a brief alarm, an obscure and 
confused skirmish, a few scattered shots, and, within 
sight of a whole division, General Pettigrew was mor- 
tally wounded by one of these reckless troopers, who 
made their escape as raj^idly and safely as they had 
made their attack. He was removed in the track of 
the army, which effected its crossing about one o'clock 
of the same day, and carried to the house of Mr. Boyd, 
half-way between Martinsburg and Winchester. And 
there, on 17th July, upon the soil of the Old Dominion, 
in the arms of that noble State whose pious and gentle 
care had soothed and sustained the dying moments of 
the eldest-born of the whole South, in the early still- 
ness of the summer morning, he peacefully folded his 
hands from battle and rested with God ! 

Into the sacred privacy of his last hours I dare not 
intrude. To those only who were born of the same 
mother, does such communion belong. But for the sake 
of those who loved him so well in this life that they 
long for an assurance of their future hope, I will re- 



62 Memorial of 



peat the words of the Bishop of Louisiana, who was 
with him : " In a ministry of near thirty years, I have 
never witnessed a more sublime example of Christian 
resignation and hope in death." 

Such was his life. And now that it is told, it is mani- 
fest that its results — its actual achievements, when 
summed up, as they can bo in a few brief sentences — 
fail to explain the strength and breadth of the impres- 
sion he made upon those among whom that life w'as 
passed. The influence was in himself, and the oppor- 
tunity of public action which he enjoyed, only widened 
the circle in which that influence was felt. He had 
that in his nature which made men love him. Although 
eager in the pursuit of objects which he desired, and 
which other men desired, too ; bold and out-spoken in 
the vindication of his opinions, and placed by his early 
success where it was difficult not to excite jealous 
prejudices, yet it is worthy of note that amongst his 
cotemporaries, those whose characters and abilities 
would have made them his natural and most formidable 
rivals, he found his truest and warmest friends. 

He had that in his nature which made men respect 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 63 



him. His learnings his accomplishments, his talents, 
were all under the control of his moral sense. He was 
a man who desired to be, and not to seem. His am- 
bition was large, but it was an ambition to do what was 
worthy to be done. " What he would highly, that he 
would holily ;" and, although as sti-ong men will desire, 
he desired the vantage-ground of place and power — the 
standpoint wherefrora to use the lever of his intellect, 
yet his life was instinct with the consciousness that. a 
great end can never be compassed by low means, that 
nothing is worthy the ambition of a true man which 
requires the sacrifice of personal honor, of fidelity to 
his friends, or of loyalty to his convictions. 

He was essentially an earnest man. From his early 
youth whatever he did was done with an intense pur- 
pose. As his experience widened and his mind matured, 
the purpose was changed, but the intensity was con- 
stant. Those who knew him best will, I think, ao-ree 
with me that this earnestness was every year concen- 
trating upon a higher purpose and proposing to itself a 
loftier aim, that the restlessness of his early ambi- 
tion was subsiding, the effbrt of his intellect growin^^ 



84 Memorial of 



steadier, and that it needed only this final consecration 
to an unselfish cause to perfect the nobleness of his 
character. 

When I think of him, and men not unlike him, and 
think that even they could not save us ; when I see 
that the cause which called out all their virtues and 
employed all their ability has been permitted to sink in 
utter ruin ; when I find that the great principles of 
constitutional liberty, the pure and well-ordered society, 
the venerable institutions in which they lived and for 
which they died, have been allowed to perish out of the 
land, I feel as if, in that Southern Cause, there must 
have been some terrible mistake. But when I look 
back again upon such lives and deaths; when I see the 
virtue and the intellect and the courage which were 
piled high in exulting sacrifice for this very cause, I 
feel sure that, unless God has altered the principles and 
motives of human conduct, we were not wholly wrong. 
I feel sure that whatever may be the future, even if our 
children are wiser than we, and our children's children 
live under new laws and amid strange institutions, 
History will vindicate our purpose, while she explains 



J. Johnston Pettigrew. 65 



our errors, and, from generation to generation, she will 
bring back our sons to the graves of these soldiers of 
the South, and tell them— aye, even in the fulness of a 
i prosperity we shall not see— This is holy ground ; it is 
good for you to be here !