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 Civil War Gen. T.H. Holmes letter...
3DVR_M4  [Member]
6/10/2009 9:22:22 AM EDT
My Great Great Grandfather, General T. H. Holmes.

I found this while googeling his name. I think D. L. Swain was someone at UNC.


Text reads:

Brooke Station (Friday)
Jany 21st 1862
My Dear Sir

I think there is no doubt the unholy war our enemies are waging against us will last for many years and that the next generation will have plenty of work without precipitating themselves unprepared into the present. Immature youths are new incumbrances to the Service, filling the Hospitals, or excused from the more arduous duties of a Soldier in consequence of physical inability. My object in writing is respectfully to suggest that you will do excellent service to the Army by diverting the enthusiasm of the students from the performance of physical service for which they are unable to preparing themselves for the duties of Commanding for though we are a very great people — all Captains — it is lamentable that there are among us very few Commanders: [unrecovered]; and we are yet too young a nation to throw aside as worthless what the experience of all time has considered indispensable, if therefore you will pardon the liberty will it not be advisable for you to establish a Military Attachment to the University. it would be an easy matter for you to procure a competant officer to


take charge. probably the Government could give you one in an emergency like the present.
If you think this suggestion of any value and feel disposed to act on it, let me impress on you, that if the Instruction be not perfectly competant it will do more harm than good.

Be pleased my brave Sir to accept my acknowledgments for your uniform kindness to my Son. I had great difficulty in dissuading him from entering the Army, though he has returned to you and promises to apply himself

I am [unrecovered]
Very Respty

Th. H. Holmes

The Hon
D. L. Swain .

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3DVR_M4  [Member]
6/10/2009 9:26:27 AM EDT
Ahhh.... found this:

Swain, David Lowry

David Lowry Swain (1801-1868) was the youngest son of Caroline Lane and George Swain, a farmer. He was born in Buncombe County, NC, and educated at Newton Academy in Asheville, NC. He was admitted to the junior class at the University in 1821 but remained only one week. Reluctant to spend his parents' scarce resources, he went to Raleigh to read law under Chief Justice John Louis Taylor, then returned to Asheville in 1823 to begin his law practice. He married Eleanor White in 1826; they became the parents of three sons, two of whom died in infancy, and two daughters. Buncombe County voters sent Swain to the NC House of Commons four times between 1824 and 1829, when the legislature appointed him judge of the superior court. In 1832 Swain became governor, a role that allowed him to represent western North Carolina interests; promote internal improvements such as roads, railroads, and schools; and reform the state's constitution by bringing together in 1835 a coalition of the state's Whigs and Democrats. Despite his political success, the predominantly Democratic General Assembly of 1835, the last to elect North Carolina's governor, denied Swain a fourth one-year term. He became president of the University in 1835, a position he held until his death in 1868 (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography 5:483-86). Students referred to Swain as "the Governor" or as "Old Bunk."


lew  [Team Member]
6/10/2009 3:04:28 PM EDT
Very neat. What was your grandpappy's command?
3DVR_M4  [Member]
6/11/2009 3:20:16 AM EDT
Originally Posted By lew:
Very neat. What was your grandpappy's command?

He was an old geezer when the Civil War began and, as it has been noted in wiki's account of his life, may have been borderline incompetent. So, while I by no means believe I have any sort of bragging rights... I am proud of his service nonetheless.

From the wiki page:

Almost immediately after the firing on Fort Sumter, Holmes resigned his commission in the U.S. Army and his command of Fort Columbus, Governors Island in New York City on (April 22, 1861), having accepted a commission as a colonel in the Confederate States Army in March. He commanded the coastal defenses of the Department of North Carolina and then served as a brigadier general in the North Carolina Militia. He was appointed brigadier general on June 5, 1861, commanding the Department of Fredericksburg. He was promoted to major general on October 7, 1861. During the Seven Days Battles of the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, he fought under Robert E. Lee, although part of the Department of North Carolina rather than the Army of Northern Virginia. He was transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department in July 1862, was promoted to lieutenant general on October 10, and commanded the District of Arkansas. Western Confederates are described as having complained Holmes was simply not fit for this assignment, accusing him of mismanagement and tyranny.

For the final year of the war he commanded the Reserve Forces of North Carolina and surrendered along with General Joseph E. Johnston to William Tecumseh Sherman on April 26, 1865. He returned to North Carolina, where he spent the rest of his life as a farmer.

Holmes died in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and is buried there in McPherson Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

He was at the First Battle of Bull Run, on the right flank and joined the battle just as the Union army began to retreat.

Another letter I found describing what happened:

Report of Brig. Gen. T. H. Holmes, C. S. Army, Commanding Reserve Brigade

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 565-566


GENERAL: On Wednesday, the 18th of July, I received orders from the headquarters of the Army to hold my brigade in readiness to support your army if called on by you. I proceeded with two regiments (the Second Tennessee and First Arkansas Volunteers) and Walker’s battery that afternoon towards Manassas, and on my arrival at Camp Chopawamsic sent an officer to communicate with you. Soon after the officer left I received your telegram to Lieutenant-Colonel Green urging me forward. The march was resumed, and I encamped near Brentsville.

On reporting to you in person on Friday morning I was ordered to Camp Wigfall as a support to Ewell’s brigade, charged with the defense of Union Mills and its neighborhood. My brigade rested on Saturday.

About 9 o’clock on Sunday, the 21st, I received a copy of your note to General Ewell, directing him to hold himself in readiness to take the offensive at a moment’s notice, to be supported by my brigade. This order caused me to move nearer to Ewell’s position, where, after waiting about two hours, another order was received through Ewell to resume our former places. Up to this time the firing was comparatively slow. About 12 o’clock m., or a few minutes sooner, the firing on our left became very heavy. About 2 o’clock p.m. I received a copy of a note from you to General Jones, dated at a point one mile south of Union Mills, directing me, among other movements, to repair to you.

I immediately marched in the direction of the firing, and on my arrival at Camp Walker received the first order directed to myself. This was a verbal one, requiring me to hasten forward as soon as possible. The march from thence to Lewis’ house was made in good time. The brigade was halted there by order of General Johnston, and did not participate in the fight, as the enemy commenced to retreat within a few moments after my arrival. I ordered Walker’s rifled guns to fire at the retreating enemy, and Scott’s cavalry to join in the pursuit. The fire of the former was exceedingly accurate, and did much execution, and the pursuit of the latter was very effective, taking many prisoners and capturing much property.

I cannot speak too highly of the spirit and enthusiasm of my brigade.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding Brigade

General G. T. BEAUREGARD, Camp Manassas


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lew  [Team Member]
6/11/2009 4:27:37 PM EDT
Incompetent or not, it's still a nice touch. I knew I heard the name before.
4v50  [Team Member]
6/12/2009 5:59:51 PM EDT
From Ezra Warner's classic, Generals in Gray (published by LSU), here's the entry for Theophilus Hunter Holmes:

Theophilus Hunter Holmes was born in Sampson County, North Carolina, November 13, 1804, and was graduated from West Point in 1829. He had attained the regular rank of major in the 8th Infantry and a brevet for gallant service in Mexico when he resigned, April 27, 1861. He was one of the fifteen field-grade officers of the line of the old army to cast their lot with the Confederacy. He was successively appointed brigadier general on June 5, 1861, major general on Oct. 7, 1861, and lieutenant general to rank from October 10, 1862, in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States. He commanded a brigade at First Manassas and a division during the Seven Days. He was subsequently assigned to the command of the Trans-Mississippi Department, from which he was ultimately relieved by General Kirby Smith. General Holmes then commanded the District of Arkansas for a time; and later organized the reserves of his native state. After the war he cultivated a small farm near Fayetteville, in Cumberland County, North Carolina, where he died June 21, 1880. Although undoubtedly the possessor of many soldierly qualities, it appears that he was unequal to his high rank. He was unsparingly criticized by D. H. Hill for apathy at Malvern Hill; and numerous complaints of Holmes' inefficiency and jealous of Sterling Price were received in Richmond during his service in the Trans-Mississippi. He was described personally as being "simple in his tastes, brave, true, and just in his department... a splendid example of an unprententious North Carolina patriot and gentleman." (225) He is buried in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
4v50  [Team Member]
6/12/2009 6:01:42 PM EDT
I checked endnote 225 and it read:
Raleigh Observor, June 22, 1880, quoted in 22, D. A. B. For a contemporary view of Holmes' Confederate career see 314, Hill, passim.
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