An Uncompromising Secessionist: The Civil War of George Knox Miller, Eighth (Wade's) Confederate Cavalry

An Uncompromising Secessionist: The Civil War of George Knox Miller, Eighth (Wade's) Confederate Cavalry

An Uncompromising Secessionist: The Civil War of George Knox Miller, Eighth (Wade's) Confederate Cavalry

An Uncompromising Secessionist: The Civil War of George Knox Miller, Eighth (Wade's) Confederate Cavalry

Synopsis

Engaging letters from a gifted and perceptive Confederate cavalry officer.

This book contains the letters of George Knox Miller who served as a line officer in the Confederate cavalry and participated in almost all of the major campaigns of the Army of Tennessee. He was, clearly, a very well-educated young man. Born in 1836 in Talladega, Alabama, he developed a great love for reading and the theater and set his sights upon getting an education that would lead to a career in law or medicine; meanwhile he worked as an apprentice in a painting firm to earn tuition. Miller then enrolled in the University of Virginia, where he excelled in his studies.

Eloquent, bordering on the lyrical, the letters provide riviting first-hand accounts of cavalry raids, the monotony of camp life, and the horror of battlefield carnage. Miller gives detailed descriptions of military uniforms, cavalry tactics, and prison conditions. He conveys a deep commitment to the Confederacy, but he was also critical of Confederate policies that he felt hindered the army's efforts. Dispersed among these war-related topics is the story of Miller's budding relationship with Celestine "Cellie" McCann, the love of his life, whom he would eventually marry. Together, the letters offer significan insight into the life, heart, mind, and attitudes of an intelligent, educated, young mid-19th-century white Southerner.

Excerpt

Seven of the letters in this chapter were written by George Knox
Miller in 1860 or 1861 during his last months as a law student, all
but one of them from Charlottesville, while he attended the Uni
versity of Virginia. They shed light on Southern college student life
in those last antebellum months and on the attitudes of an intelli
gent young white Southerner on the eve of secession and war.

The first letter is included because of its description of Little
Rock and the incident that took place there during the 1860 presi
dential campaign. the omitted sections of this letter deal with per
sonal matters and relate to several individuals who cannot now be
identified. the remaining three documents are from the pen of
Knox Miller’s patron, Gen. William Hopkins, a member of the
South Carolina Secession Convention.

14 June 1860

Little Rock, June 14th, 1860

Dear Friend,

…Our little city is making a stride towards improvement—Soon we will have a telegraph to Memphis—the Rail Road will be put in operation as soon as they can get the Iron [rails] up the [Arkansas?] river— the gass company are getting on very fast—and it is thought we will have our city lighting with gass by July—Some fifty new buildings went up in the last three months—and a great many more [are] building.

Politics run very high at present—political speaches—political parties . . .

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