A Confederate General and His Slave

Below is the first paragraph from a short essay that I recently wrote about Confederate General Edward Porter Alexander and his slave/camp servant, Charley. You can read the rest of it at the History News Network.

The Confederate rank and file said goodbye to many things in and around Appomattox Court House in the days following the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865. Three days following the formal surrender Lee’s men were separated from the weapons they carried over the previous four years through Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The stacking of arms was the first stage in a painful realization that the cause for which they fought and sacrificed so much for was beyond reach. But of all the separations that took place, the most difficult were the final farewells amongst friends and comrades that took place either at Appomattox or along the roads those groups of men followed until each crossroads gradually brought each individual to a final destination.

4 comments… add one
  • topicsfor2am Apr 28, 2015 @ 18:04

    Kevin, that was an insightful essay on a particularly noteworthy portion of what I’m assuming is Fighting for the Confederacy. Thanks for pointing out that specific relationship. Also to agree with what James said, Alexander may not have been the army’s chief of artillery in title but he did begin to move up in Lee’s estimation as time went on. Consequently as Longstreet would be given command of a certain field or assault, Alexander would be in charge of its artillery. I recall him describing what he ascertained as Pendleton’s feeling overslaughed on at least one occasion.

  • James F. Epperson Apr 26, 2015 @ 17:14

    I’m not sure Alexander ever served as Lee’s Chief of Artillery. He commanded an artillery battalion in First Corps, then became the Corps’ Chief of Artillery. Lee’s Chief of Artillery was always the marginally effectual William Nelson Pendleton. Alexander may well have been the best artillerist in the Army of Northern Virginia, but I don’t think he was ever in charge of more than the First Corps battalion. I think he was given some expanded responsibilities in terms of conducting siege operations around Richmond and Petersburg in 1864-65.

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