Raccoon Roughs A company of Georgia mountaineers put together by John B. Gordon, a lawyer and businessman with no military experience, who became their captain. Told they were not yet needed by Georgia, the company joined the 6th Alabama Infantry. During the war, Captain Gordon became a major general and commanded one of General Robert E. Lee’s corps. His wife, Fanny, went along on all his military campaigns, causing Major General Jubal Early to proclaim to others his wish that Union forces would capture the lady.
rackansacker or rackensacker A nickname for a rough soldier, such as a militiaman, especially a Confederate one. The term was first common in the Mexican War for members of state militias. It probably simply means a soldier who will wrack the enemy and sack his towns.
racking Naval gunfire that racked (strained) an IRONCLAD warship, causing its iron plates to bend and crack and hopefully fall off, or causing splinters to explode from the wooden walls behind the plates thereby endangering the crews. Racking required smooth-bore guns that fired the heaviest iron balls, such as the 15-inch Rodman cannon that fired 15-inch balls weighing 453 pounds. See also punching.
Radical Republicans Members of an extremist group in the Republican Party who wanted President Abraham Lincoln to issue an Emancipation Proclamation early in the war and to severely punish the South after the war. Their efforts caused Lincoln to complain, “If there is a hell, I am in it.” Secretary of War Edwin M.Stanton and Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P Chase, members of Lincoln’s cabinet, were Radicals. The Radical leaders in the Senate included Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania and Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. After Lincoln’s assassination, the group resisted President Andrew Johnson’s moderate Reconstruction program and failed by one vote to impeach him. They then imposed a strict military and political Reconstruction on the southern states, which they considered “conquered provinces.”
raffling The usual term for a raffle. Soldiers raffled almost anything, from watches to blankets. Some addicted men would lose their entire pay on, as one described it, “a painful spell of Raffling.”
raft torpedo A Confederate mine (“torpedo”) that was a tank of powder simply placed in a box on a raft and moored in a harbor. The Union gunboat Gertrude discovered and disabled one in Mobile Bay