Monday, January 11, 2010

Although technically a Confederate victory...

"...the Battle of Kelly's Ford exacted a high price from the Southerners. They lost 146 men killed, wounded, and missing, compared to a Federal loss of 85. Confederate losses were magnified by the death of the popular and promising young John Pelham, who died about 1 a.m. on March 18th, 1863." This quotation from the National Park Service brochure for the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park takes the traveler down Rt. 29 in Virginia back to a muddy winter the Union and Confederate armies spent on the opposite banks of the Rappahannock River. General Robert E. Lee conferred the nickname "The Gallant" on the 24 year old Pelham of Calhoun County, Alabama, for his repeated and conspicuous acts of valor in battle. Pelham's memory is honored today by 13 monuments scattered throughout the southern U.S., each one carefully cataloged by the John Pelham Historical Association. Here is the JPHA's description of the monument the blog saw on Sunday: The first was erected in 1926 and used to be on Route 674 in Culpeper County. It was moved in 1927 to the old Douglas home in Elkwood, overlooking U.S. Route 15/29. Mr. George Douglas and his wife were admirers of the gallant Pelham. The Douglas home sat at the site where the ambulance supposedly overtook Pelham's body. A ceremony was held dedicating it on October 29, 1927. The monument is a marble obelisk; its base stone was taken from the battlefield of Kelly's Ford. The monument in Anniston, Alabama, is also an obelisk.

In 1879 Confederate General Fitzhugh Lee (nephew of Robert E.) recalled the Virginia winter of 1863 in an address to the veterans of the Army of Northern Virginia. He spoke at some length about Pelham, and his poignant account was reprinted in the December 1879 issue of Southern Historical Society Papers.
Fitz Lee was notable for his reconciliation to the outcome of the war, and later served as a General in the U.S. army during the Spanish-American war.

The blog is ashamed to admit that it almost did not turn around and drive back.

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