Where Did the Ex-Confederate Leaders Go After the Confederacy Was Defeated by the Union?

Conrad Wise Chapman, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Conrad Wise Chapman, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Jay Bazzinotti:

Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, spent two years shackled to a wall in a Virginia prison. He had many unlikely sympathetic supporters including the Pope, who advocated for mercy, and even some former enemies and abolitionists. After he was released he went to Canada and Cuba and England and eventually managed a successful insurance company, hiring only former Confederate officers. He remained an unrepentant racist and Confederate supporter until the end of his life.

Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy, was arrested and held in prison at George’s Island in Boston until October, 1865. He was released from indemnity by Andrew Johnson, a pro-slavery, anti-Black President. He was elected to the Senate, which refused to allow him to sit; was elected to Congress; and became the governor of Georgia. Stephens was a rabid anti-Black racist who wrote the “Cornerstone Speech” stating the the Civil War was all about slavery and that Blacks would never be the equals of Whites.

Robert E. Lee, former General, was not arrested but joined the pro-Confederate Democrats and worked to prevent Blacks from getting the right to vote. He lost all his property and money and the right to vote. He was seen as an iconic, sacrificial Christ-like figure in the South and often had to speak against resuming the war by any means possible as many of his supporters wanted. He was used as a vehicle of reconciliation. Later, he was the very successful head of Washington College, which he built up greatly.

James Longstreet, former General and one of the best strategists of the war, became a largely mediocre businessman with little success. He was friends with Grant, who helped him and supported the Union/Republican cause, which made him a pariah in the South [as he was] seen as a traitor. In 1874 a major election battle broke out between about 10,000 white supremacists and former Confederate soldiers and about 3500 Federals, including Black troops. It was called “The Battle of Liberty Place” and was a resounding “Confederate” victory. Federal troops had to be sent in to restore order. Longstreet was shot and captured by the White faction and treated poorly until his release. He became a turkey farmer and called his farm “Gettysburg.” It was destroyed, along with his uniforms and writings and memorabilia, in a fire. He died after years of poor health, hated by the South but outliving almost all of his detractors, in 1904.

J.E.B. Stuart, cavalry general, was mortally wounded near the end of the war in the Battle of the Yellow Tavern, shot in the back.

George Pickett, a general associated with Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, fled the country for fear of prosecution for war crimes. He went to Canada for two years until he was pardoned. He was in ill health for the remainder of his life and died in 1875, about 10 years after the war. He was always bitter about what happened at Gettysburg and never stopped blaming Lee for the destruction of his men. Over 40,000 people showed up for his funeral but his body was buried in a secret location and the massive monument built over an empty grave.

John Bell Hood was a brilliant and reckless general who arrived late to the battle of Gettysburg and was immediately wounded by an artillery shell. He was relieved by an incompetent who frittered away the South’s last best chance to win the battle or at least fight to a draw. After the war he was immediately exonerated of any crime and for a while was a successful businessman. However, about 12 years later, an economic crisis caused his business to succumb and six days later he caught yellow fever and died.

Joe Johnston was a senior, controversial general who was critical of the Confederate leadership and saw people against him everywhere. After surrendering to Sherman, the two became friends. Johnston became a marginally successful businessman with many interests in railroads and insurance. He served one term as a Democratic congressman. He caught a cold at the funeral of William Sherman and died soon after.

P.G. T. Beauregard, a capable general who often stopped Grant, became a marginally successful businessman after the war. He was frequently critical of Jefferson Davis and believed the war could have been won. Although he was virulently anti-Black, he worked hard to establish Black civil rights, telling southern leaders that they had to find a way to make it work for the good of the country

Simon Buckner, the third-ranking general in the Confederacy, was a shrewd businessman who ran a newspaper after the war. He was able to amass a large fortune and recover all of his lost property in Kentucky and reestablish himself as a leader in the community. He went into politics. He died in 1914, one of the last surviving generals of the Civil War.

Robert Ewell, wounded and captured near the war’s end, spent a year at the Fort Warren POW camp on George’s Island with 17 other generals. He became a proponent of the Union and spent the rest of his life as a modest farmer, dying quietly in 1891.

Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former slave trader, fell on hard times after the war. He ran many businesses—was corrupt and ruined them—and was not well-liked. He started, or helped to start, the KKK, and was virulently anti-Black. He made a surprising turnaround and became an advocate of civil rights and Black education, earning the enmity of the KKK and other anti-Black causes. He died of diabetes in 1877.

There are dozens of Confederate generals, some we know and most we never think of. After the war many were aided by friends and found jobs in the burgeoning railroad or insurance industries.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

How and Why Did Silent Letters Emerge in English?

iStock/Bychykhin_Olexandr
iStock/Bychykhin_Olexandr

Kory Stamper:

The easy answer is “"because English can’t leave well enough alone."

When we first started speaking English around 600 AD, it was totally phonetic: every letter had a sound, and we sounded every letter in a word. But English—and England itself—were influenced quite a bit by the French, who conquered the island in 1066 and held it for a long time. And then later by Dutch and Flemish printers, who were basically the main publishers in England for a solid two centuries, and then by further trading contact with just about every continent on the planet. And while we’re shaking hands and stealing language from every single people-group we meet, different parts of the language started changing at uneven rates.

By the 1400s, English started to lose its phonetic-ness: the way we articulated vowels in words like “loud” changed slowly but dramatically, and that had an effect on the rest of the word. (This is called “The Great Vowel Shift,” and it took place over a few hundred years.) Somewhere in the middle of the GVS, though, English spelling became fixed primarily because of the printing press and the easy distribution/availability of printed materials. In short: we have silent letters because the spelling of words stopped changing to match their pronunciations.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

What’s the Origin of Jack-O’-Lanterns?

iStock/matejmo
iStock/matejmo

The term "jack-o'-lantern" was first applied to people, not pumpkins. As far back as 1663, the term meant a man with a lantern, or a night watchman. Just a decade or so later, it began to be used to refer to the mysterious lights sometimes seen at night over bogs, swamps, and marshes.

These ghost lights—variously called  jack-o’-lanterns, hinkypunks, hobby lanterns, corpse candles, fairy lights, will-o'-the-wisps, and fool's fire—are created when gases from decomposing plant matter ignite as they come into contact with electricity or heat or as they oxidize. For centuries before this scientific explanation was known, people told stories to explain the mysterious lights. In Ireland, dating as far back as the 1500s, those stories often revolved around a guy named Jack.

LEGEND HAS IT

As the story goes, Stingy Jack—often described as a blacksmith—invited the devil to join him for a drink. Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for the drinks from his own pocket, and convinced the devil to turn himself into a coin that could be used to settle the tab. The devil did so, but Jack skipped out on the bill and kept the devil-coin in his pocket with a silver cross so that the devil couldn’t shift back to his original form. Jack eventually let the devil loose, but made him promise that he wouldn’t seek revenge on Jack, and wouldn’t claim his soul when he died.

Later, Jack irked the devil again by convincing him to climb up a tree to pick some fruit, then carved a cross in the trunk so that the devil couldn’t climb back down (apparently, the devil is a sucker). Jack freed him again, on the condition that the devil once again not take revenge and not claim Jack’s soul.

When Stingy Jack eventually died, God would not allow him into heaven, and the devil, keeping his word, rejected Jack’s soul at the gates of hell. Instead, the devil gave him a single burning coal to light his way and sent him off into the night to “find his own hell.” Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has supposedly been roaming the earth with it ever since. In Ireland, the ghost lights seen in the swamps were said to be Jack’s improvised lantern moving about as his restless soul wandered the countryside. He and the lights were dubbed "Jack of the Lantern," or "Jack O'Lantern."

OLD TALE, NEW TRADITIONS

The legend immigrated to the new world with the Irish, and it collided with another old world tradition and a new world crop. Making vegetable lanterns was a tradition of the British Isles, and carved-out turnips, beets, and potatoes were stuffed with coal, wood embers, or candles as impromptu lanterns to celebrate the fall harvest. As a prank, kids would sometimes wander off the road with a glowing veggie to trick their friends and travelers into thinking they were Stingy Jack or another lost soul. In America, pumpkins were easy enough to come by and good for carving, and got absorbed both into the carved lantern tradition and the associated prank. Over time, kids refined the prank and began carving crude faces into the pumpkins to kick up the fright factor and make the lanterns look like disembodied heads. By the mid-1800s, Stingy Jack’s nickname was applied to the prank pumpkin lanterns that echoed his own lamp, and the pumpkin jack-o’-lantern got its name.

Toward the end of the 19th century, jack-o’-lanterns went from just a trick to a standard seasonal decoration, including at a high-profile 1892 Halloween party hosted by the mayor of Atlanta. In one of the earliest instances of the jack-o’-lantern as Halloween decor, the mayor’s wife had several pumpkins—lit from within and carved with faces—placed around the party, ending Jack O’Lantern’s days of wandering, and beginning his yearly reign over America’s windowsills and front porches.

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