Thomas Lanier Clingman

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"Prince of Politicians"
(27 July 1812 – 3 November 1897)

"Do us justice and we stand with you; attempt to trample on us and we separate." Thomas Clingman to the United States Congress
 
Senate Years of Service: 1858-1861
Party: Democrat

Thomas Lanier Clingman
Senator Thomas Clingman.jpg
Library of Congress Picture

CLINGMAN, Thomas Lanier, a Representative and a Senator from North Carolina; born in Huntsville, N.C., July 27, 1812; educated by private tutors and in the public schools in Iredell County, N.C.; graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1832; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1834 and began practice in Huntsville, N.C.; elected to the State house of commons in 1835; moved to Asheville, Buncombe County, N.C., in 1836; member, State senate 1840; elected as a Whig to the Twenty-eighth Congress (March 4, 1843-March 3, 1845); unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the Twenty-ninth Congress; elected as a Whig to the Thirtieth and to the five succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1847, to May 7, 1858, when he resigned to become Senator; chairman, Committee on Public Expenditures (Thirtieth Congress), Committee on Foreign Affairs (Thirty-fifth Congress); appointed as a Democrat to the United States Senate on May 6, 1858, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Asa Biggs; reelected in 1861 and served from May 7, 1858, to March 28, 1861, when he withdrew; expelled from the Senate in 1861 for support of the rebellion; chairman, Committee on Revolutionary Claims (Thirty-fifth Congress); during the Civil War was a brigadier general and commanded Clingman's Brigade in the Confederate Army; explored and measured mountain peaks; died in Morganton, Burke County, N.C., on November 3, 1897; interment in Riverside Cemetery, Asheville, N.C.; Clingman's Dome was named in honor of Thomas Lanier Clingman.

Thomas Clingman's Confederate Service : Narrative

"I regret this assault more than any one I ever ordered." General U. S. Grant after the Confederates routed the Union forces at Cold Harbor

Clingman was an ardent lawyer, Fire-Eater, and one of the most outspoken politicians of his era. His proslavery and states' rights positions climaxed with his quote to Congress, "Do us justice and we stand with you; attempt to trample on us and we separate!" He initially commanded the 25th North Carolina Infantry Regiment and subsequently Clingman's Brigade. General Robert E. Lee's trust and esteem for Clingman were vividly reflected when Lee ordered Clingman to defend Richmond, Virginia. Later, at Lee's request, General Clingman and his "Bonnie Blue Boys" greatly assisted in routing the Union forces at the Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia. General Ulysses S. Grant was a West Point graduate and veteran of the Mexican-American War, and he wrote of Cold Harbor, "I regret this assault more than any one I ever ordered." General Grant was elected the Eighteenth President of the United States. Clingman's principal services were witnessed in: the defense of Goldsboro; defense of Sullivan's island and Battery Wagner during the attack on Charleston; the attack on New Bern in February 1864; the defeat of Butler at Drewry's bluff, May 1864; the Battle of Cold Harbor, where he was wounded; the repulse of the Federal attack on Petersburg, June 17th, and the battle on the Weldon railroad, August 19th. In the latter fight, he was severely wounded and was unable to rejoin his command until a few days before the surrender at Greensboro. After the war, he was a delegate to the national Democratic convention of 1864. Clingman was a contemporary and dear friend with the only white Cherokee Chief, William Holland ThomasThomas was a senator and during the Civil War commanded Thomas' Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders.

Bibliography: Dictionary of American Biography; Jeffrey, Thomas. ‘Thunder From the Mountains: Thomas Lanier Clingman and the End of Whig Supremacy in North Carolina.’ North Carolina Historical Review 56 (October 1979): 366-95; Kruman, Marc. ‘Thomas L. Clingman and the Whig Party: A Reconsideration.’ North Carolina Historical Review 64 (January 1987): 1-18; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; National Archives and Records Administration.

Recommended Reading: Clingman's Brigade in the Confederacy. Description: On November 11, 1862, Brigadier General Thomas Lanier Clingman, despite a lack of formal military training, was named commander of four regiments sent to the eastern counties of North Carolina to prevent Federal troops from making further inroads into the state. Clingman has been called one of North Carolina’s most colorful and controversial statesmen, but his military career received little attention from his contemporaries and has been practically ignored by later historians. Like Clingman, the brigade, composed of the 8th, 31st, 51st, and 61st regiments of North Carolina Infantry, has been both praised and condemned for its performance in battle. Continued below...
About the Author: Retired research assistant from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, Frances H. Casstevens, is also the author of Out of the Mouth of Hell: Civil War Prisons and Escapes, Tales from the North And the South, and The Civil War and Yadkin County, North Carolina (1997, Winner, 1998 Willie Parker Peace Award—North Carolina Society of Historians). She is a lifelong resident of Yadkin County.

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Recommended Reading: Civil War High Commands (1040 pages: Hardcover). Description: Based on nearly five decades of research, this magisterial work is a biographical register and analysis of the people who most directly influenced the course of the Civil War, its high commanders. Numbering 3,396, they include the presidents and their cabinet members, state governors, general officers of the Union and Confederate armies (regular, provisional, volunteers, and militia), and admirals and commodores of the two navies. Civil War High Commands will become a cornerstone reference work on these personalities and the meaning of their commands, and on the Civil War itself. Errors of fact and interpretation concerning the high commanders are legion in the Civil War literature, in reference works as well as in narrative accounts. Continued below...

The present work brings together for the first time in one volume the most reliable facts available, drawn from more than 1,000 sources and including the most recent research. The biographical entries include complete names, birthplaces, important relatives, education, vocations, publications, military grades, wartime assignments, wounds, captures, exchanges, paroles, honors, and place of death and interment. In addition to its main component, the biographies, the volume also includes a number of essays, tables, and synopses designed to clarify previously obscure matters such as the definition of grades and ranks; the difference between commissions in regular, provisional, volunteer, and militia services; the chronology of military laws and executive decisions before, during, and after the war; and the geographical breakdown of command structures. The book is illustrated with 84 new diagrams of all the insignias used throughout the war and with 129 portraits of the most important high commanders.
 
Recommended Reading: Confederate Military History Of North Carolina: North Carolina In The Civil War, 1861-1865. Description: The author, Prof. D. H. Hill, Jr., was the son of Lieutenant General Daniel Harvey Hill (North Carolina produced only two lieutenant generals and it was the second highest rank in the army) and his mother was the sister to General “Stonewall” Jackson’s wife. In Confederate Military History Of North Carolina, Hill discusses North Carolina’s massive task of preparing and mobilizing for the conflict; the many regiments and battalions recruited from the Old North State; as well as the state's numerous contributions during the war. Continued below...

During Hill's Tar Heel State study, the reader begins with interesting and thought-provoking statistical data regarding the 125,000 "Old North State" soldiers that fought during the course of the war and the 40,000 that perished. Hill advances with the Tar Heels to the first battle at Bethel, through numerous bloody campaigns and battles--including North Carolina’s contributions at the "High Watermark" at Gettysburg--and concludes with Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

 

Recommended Reading: The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy (444 pages) (Louisiana State University Press) (Updated edition: November 2007) Description: The Life of Johnny Reb does not merely describe the battles and skirmishes fought by the Confederate foot soldier. Rather, it provides an intimate history of a soldier's daily life--the songs he sang, the foods he ate, the hopes and fears he experienced, the reasons he fought. Wiley examined countless letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and official records to construct this frequently poignant, sometimes humorous account of the life of Johnny Reb. In a new foreword for this updated edition, Civil War expert James I. Robertson, Jr., explores the exemplary career of Bell Irvin Wiley, who championed the common folk, whom he saw as ensnared in the great conflict of the 1860s. Continued below...

About Johnny Reb:

"A Civil War classic."--Florida Historical Quarterly

"This book deserves to be on the shelf of every Civil War modeler and enthusiast."--Model Retailer

"[Wiley] has painted with skill a picture of the life of the Confederate private. . . . It is a picture that is not only by far the most complete we have ever had but perhaps the best of its kind we ever shall have."--Saturday Review of Literature

 

Recommended Reading: The Fighting Men of the Civil War, by William C. Davis (Author), Russ A. Pritchard (Author). Description: "A must for any Civil War library!" The sweeping histories of the War Between the States often overlook the men in whose blood that history was written. This account goes a long way toward redressing the balance in favor of the men in the ranks. The reader follows the soldiers from enlistment and training to campaigning. Attention is also given to oft-forgotten groups such as the sailors and black troops. Continued below...

No effort has been spared to include rare war era photographs and color photos of rare artifacts. Engagingly written by William C. Davis, the author of more than thirty books on the American Civil War. Award winning author and historian James M. McPherson states: "The most readable, authoritative, and beautifully designed illustrated history of the American Civil War."

 

Recommended Reading: Hardtack & Coffee or The Unwritten Story of Army Life. Description: Most histories of the Civil War focus on battles and top brass. Hardtack and Coffee is one of the few to give a vivid, detailed picture of what ordinary soldiers endured every day—in camp, on the march, at the edge of a booming, smoking hell. John D. Billings of Massachusetts enlisted in the Army of the Potomac and survived the hellish conditions as a “common foot soldier” of the American Civil War. "Billings describes an insightful account of the conflict – the experiences of every day life as a common foot-soldier – and a view of the war that is sure to score with every buff." The authenticity of his book is heightened by the many drawings that a comrade, Charles W. Reed, made while in the field. This is the story of how the Civil War soldier was recruited, provisioned, and disciplined. Continued below...

Described here are the types of men found in any outfit; their not very uniform uniforms; crowded tents and makeshift shelters; difficulties in keeping clean, warm, and dry; their pleasure in a cup of coffee; food rations, dominated by salt pork and the versatile cracker or hardtack; their brave pastimes in the face of death; punishments for various offenses; treatment in sick bay; firearms and signals and modes of transportation. Comprehensive and anecdotal, Hardtack and Coffee is striking for the pulse of life that runs through it.

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