Richard Garnett's Ride to Death.

War Horse

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Was Jackson justified with Richard Garnett's Court-Martial? When is it acceptable to call retreat? Do all Generals have to have the approval of the commanding General to call retreat? These are questions I have to ask. Richard Garnett was by all accounts a very brave solider. At the battle of Kernstown in 1862 Stonewall Jackson suffered a rare defeat. Richard Granett now commanding the Great Stonewall Brigade issued an order for his men to retreat. The confederate General (Jackson) had received bad reconnaissance information pertaining to the numbers of the enemy. Once engaged Garnett learned that the enemy he faced was 9000 strong (twice his numbers), running low on ammunition and outnumbered and almost surrounded Garnett ordered a withdrawal.

This infuriated Jackson who brought court-martial charges against Garnett for an unauthorized retreat. This tarnished Garnett's name. The exocentric Jackson and one of his aids were the only ones to testify against Garnett at the court-martial. Lee put an end to it and ordered Garnett back to his position. Garnett felt as if his reputation had been ruined. He came from a very proud Military family.

After the Jackson's charges Garnett desperately searched for a way to restore honor to his name. At Gettysburg he was sick and injured, He had a high fever and suffered from horse kick to his leg. He could not walk. He chose to lead the charge on horseback which made him an easy target. Longstreet predicted the manor of his death (Knowing his valor and what he must do to preserve his name), Armistead pleaded with Garnett not to take part in the battle. Garnett refused and lead his men to only a few yards from the stone wall where he was killed. Honor had been restored to his name.

My question is, were Jackson's charges justified? Richard Garnett was praised by everyone that knew him including Lee. After the battle of Gettysburg Lee said this about Garnett in his official report.

General Lee, in his after action report, would describe General Garnett's bearing on this day as "leading (his) troops with the courage that always distinguished (him)". [9]

Garnett's sense of service and uncommon commitment to cause would not allow him to hold a grudge. Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded at Chancellorsville and Garnett returned to Richmond where Jackson's body lay in state. Despite his professional disagreement with Jackson, Garnett held no ill will against him and was observed crying beside the casket. He then served as a pall bearer along with Longstreet, Richard S. Ewell, and others.


http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/chron/civilwarnotes/garnett.html


I think Richard Garnett was a victim of an exocentric Stonewall Jackson who could not accept defeat and as a result a good mans reputation and inevitably his life was compromised. What do you think?
 
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War Horse

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Jackson would certainly not be the first general to blame others for his own misfortune. Whether it needed to go to court martial is another question. Obviously, Lee did not think that it did.
Agreed, what fascinates me is how it cost an apparently good man his life. Pride is a funny thing, we must be respectful how we treat one another and make sure when we make accusations that we are accurate and the other party is deserving. I am somewhat drawn to this man. He seems to have had honor and character and did not deserve what he got. Then again I'm sure it happens in the real world all the time. Unfortunate!
 

Northern Light

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Agreed, what fascinates me is how it cost an apparently good man his life. Pride is a funny thing, we must be respectful how we treat one another and make sure when we make accusations that we are accurate and the other party is deserving. I am somewhat drawn to this man. He seems to have had honor and character and did not deserve what he got. Then again I'm sure it happens in the real world all the time. Unfortunate!
As the saying goes, "Pride goeth before a fall", and in this case, Garnett's pride or sense of honour, or whatever you choose to call it, led him to make a poor choice. This is something I will never understand, is that male impulse to defend their sense of maleness, which leads them to do silly things that usually end up getting them dead. The Confederacy would have found him much more useful alive, I would hazard a guess.
 
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War Horse

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As the saying goes, "Pride goeth before a fall", and in this case, Garnett's pride or sense of honour, or whatever you choose to call it, led him to make a poor choice. This is something I will never understand, is that male impulse to defend their sense of maleness, which leads them to do silly things that usually end up getting them dead. The Confederacy would have found him much more useful alive, would hazard a guess.
Yes, we men will make complete fools out of ourselves if we think someone is disrespecting us or our loved ones. I can't argue that!!!
 

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I don't think Garnett deserved the charges or court martial, but Jackson was very demanding of everyone who served under him. That's part of the reason he was as successful as he was. I don't think he brought the charges against Garnett out of spite or anger/malice because he lost the battle. He thought that Garnett was derelict in his duties......I don't agree and neither did Lee. Lee settled the issue as best he could. In my opinion a general officer has a great deal of discretion in how he manages his troops and can advance or retreat as he deems appropriate, unless he has specific orders otherwise.
 

War Horse

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I don't think Garnett deserved the charges or court martial, but Jackson was very demanding of everyone who served under him. That's part of the reason he was as successful as he was. I don't think he brought the charges against Garnett out of spite or anger/malice because he lost the battle. He thought that Garnett was derelict in his duties......I don't agree and neither did Lee. Lee settled the issue as best he could. In my opinion a general officer has a great deal of discretion in how he manages his troops and can advance or retreat as he deems appropriate, unless he has specific orders otherwise.
That's what I thought that's why this situation confuses me. Why did Jackson make such a point of bringing charges against Garnett?
 

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I don't think Garnett deserved the charges or court martial, but Jackson was very demanding of everyone who served under him. That's part of the reason he was as successful as he was. I don't think he brought the charges against Garnett out of spite or anger/malice because he lost the battle. He thought that Garnett was derelict in his duties......I don't agree and neither did Lee. Lee settled the issue as best he could. In my opinion a general officer has a great deal of discretion in how he manages his troops and can advance or retreat as he deems appropriate, unless he has specific orders otherwise.
It may be part of why he was successful, but it's also partly why he had conflicts with other good, hard fighting southern generals and partly why he died prematurely, if that is the correct term, as well.
 

dlofting

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That's what I thought that's why this situation confuses me. Why did Jackson make such a point of bringing charges against Garnett?

This is an extract from "I Rode With Stonewall" by Henry Kyd Douglas.

The battle was fought until sundown, when General Garnett, commanding the Stonewall Brigade, ordered it to retire, leaving some wounded men on the field. For this order General Garnett was subsequently put under arrest by Jackson and relieved of his command.


Then arose great bitterness of feeling in the old brigade. Garnett had completely won the confidence and affection of its officers and men and their astonishment at his arrest was only equaled by their indignation. General Garnett maintained that he could not have held his position much longer with his weak line and that by falling back he saved some of his soldiers from unprofitable deaths and many from capture. General Jackson never ceased to believe that if the unfortunate order had not been given his troops would have held their position until dark, the battle would have been a drawn one, and the enemy would have retired to Winchester during the night. The officers in the brigade thought General Garnett was right; in fact I do not know an exception to this opinion. General Jackson had great personal regard for Garnett as a man and soldier; but he was so positive in his opinion that he relieved Garnett from command and put General Charles S. Winder in his place.


It may be said that, for once, the officers and the men of General Jackson's old brigade almost unanimously differed with him. Their regret at the loss of General Garnett was so great and their anger at his removal so intense and universal that their conduct amounted almost to insubordination. General Winder was received in sulky and resentful silence, and for nearly three weeks General Jackson was permitted to ride past his old command without hearing a shout. General Garnett asked for a court of inquiry immediately, but as the active campaign was begun, this request was refused. He was not restored to duty until after Chickahominy. If General Jackson thought Garnett had committed a grievous fault, most grievously did he answer it.


Afterwards, until the death of General Jackson, Garnett was only seen once by his faithful brigade. On this occasion., he happened to appear suddenly before them, and as he rode along the line, with pale face, they greeted him with shouts of love and remembrance that must have rung in his ears during the rest of his short life.


The next time I saw him was in Richmond. General Jackson was lying dead in the Executive Mansion and General Garnett had come to look upon his remains. Major Pendleton and myself met him at the door and led him to the parlor. He raised the veil which covered the face of the dead and looked at it long, in silence. "Tears gathered in his heart and rose to his eyes," as his manly frame trembled with emotion and sorrow. Forgetting all personal wrongs, that unsullied patriot wept for the loss that had fallen on his country. In a little while, taking Pendleton and myself by the arms, he led us to the window. "You know of the unfortunate breach between General Jackson and myself; I can never forget it, nor cease to regret it. But I wish here to assure you that no one can lament his death more sincerely than I do. I believe he did me great injustice, but I believe also he acted from the purest motives. He is dead. Who can fill his place !"


So it looks like just about everyone except Jackson felt that Garnett did not deserve to be charged or court martialled. The only thing I can say is that Jackson was a very difficult person to dissuade once he got something in his head.
 

brass napoleon

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Was Jackson justified with Richard Garnett's Court-Martial?

Absolutely not. It was a horrible decision. A commanding officer on the field has to have discretion. If you think he used his discretion poorly, then reprimand him, or even remove him from command. But to court martial him, unless it can be shown that he flagrantly disobeyed orders, is the height of irresponsibility and pettiness.
 

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I too, with 20/20 hindsight, a modern perspective, a sense of duty from my own profession and orders given and received to be carried out -- I am of the personal opinion that Lt. General "Stonewall" Jackson did not like subornation from officers below him. It was a challenge to his (Jackson's) authority. I've seen this in my own profession which is para-military in nature. Totally wrong, they don't like being shown they are incorrect.

The first officer on the scene by rights and wisdom has the better grasp on the matter. Thus I must side with General Garnett in his withdraw in a 'retreat' yet, I wonder had Garnett used a different command to accomplish the same command ..."fall back and reform the line" if it would have smoothed Jackson's feathers/ego. Words were full of meaning --each word carried weight-- retreat means quit. Jackson wasn't one to 'quit.' Again, as an arm-chair general in the modern world, with the many 'calls' and 'commands' that can produce the same affect/effect; a 'fall back' sounds more promising of continued effort rather than 'retreat.'

I agree with fellow posters, that Lee saw General Garnett's qualities but, also had to permit Jackson to run his Corps as he saw fit, just as he allowed Longstreet to run his. By transferring to Longstreet, as rendered so well in the movie "Gettysburg," he was surrounded by supporting friends but, knew there would be a "suicide by enemy" to unequivocally stamp out the stain "Stonewall" Jackson put upon him.

No telling what would have happened had General Garnett survived and "Stonewall" Jackson lived to go through the Court-Marshal and be exonerated and cleared fully. Would that have changed "Stonewall" Jackson's status in the eyes of his command? In Lee's? Satisfied, would General Garnett be a changed man and resume his place or, at least have the benefit of knowing that others found his judgment sound? Would Garnett change the course of Confederate Military History? All of course are the dreaded "What Ifs" and that can go into a new series of topics on that alone.

I am at the point of belief, for General Garnett, that there was no resolution and no way to wiggle from under "Stonewall" Jackson's elevation onto a pedestal on his death. Can't fight a dead hero with a lot of popular hero worshiping going on at the time and during.

I only wish him peace and respect for all he was.

Just some thoughts, comments and opinions.

M. E. Wolf
 

Lost Cause

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Thank you for posting this interesting topic.
I think Richard Garnett was a victim of an exocentric Stonewall Jackson who could not accept defeat and as a result a good mans reputation and inevitably his life was compromised. What do you think?

Thank you for posting this topic; I agree. I do think Garnett would still have participated in the charge on July 03, regardless if Jackson had not challenged his character/or leadership ability. Calling in sick for Pickett's Charge was a very difficult task.
 
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Very interesting thread! In my opinion Ricard Brooke Garnett is a character who is much too overlooked between all these larger than life characters acting in the Civil War. In the German edition of McPherson's "Battle Cry for Freedom" he is not even listed in the index of names. Therefore it is about time to commemorate him and I'm glad that this thread offers the opportunity to favour him.

As Foote in his "Civil War : a narrative", vol. 2 , p. 533 describes Garnett as strikingly handsome, therefore I think we should add a face to his name:
garnett.gif

From: http://schwartz.eng.auburn.edu/ACW/lrtmap.docs/garnett.gif

When I read first about Pickett's Charge (or the Pickett/Pettigrew assault, as it should be named properly), I simply thought it bad luck for Garnett that he had been injured so that he had to ride a horse to lead his men to battle which made him an easy target. Meanwhile I think there was much more to it. It might have been "suicide by enemy" as @M E Wolf stated, but I think it was even more archaic. In my opinion he was seeking nothing less than an ordeal by battle. As @War Horse in his introduction already stated, Garnett was from an old military family. Being accused of disobedience and cowardice was something he simply could not bear, not in his own eyes and not in the eyes of his family. A court martial would probably have cleared his name (Foote in vol. 2 says he even had demanded a court martial), but he was never formally tried so he was denied the chance to clear his name in court. And to oppose a dead hero (Jackson) surely is nothing to be desired in public. So he might have seen his only chance to clear his name in an act of extreme bravery. He knew exactly what awaited him. Mcpherson in his work "Hallowed Ground" on p. 155 quotes him remarking to Armistead about the planned assault:"This is a desperate thing to attempt". So he might have thought that taking part in in, on a horse, would either clear his name for all times from every suspect of cowardice or, if things would go bad, the memory of his courage would remain. Welsh in his "Medical history of ´Confederate Generals" states that he was actually unfit for for duty, suffering from fever and chills, but donned an immaculate new uniform for the assault. If he was to die, he might thought that he wanted to be prepared in every aspect.

@Northern Light, as much as I agree with you as far as the result is concerned - in my mind, too he should not have felt to be forced to bring this ultimate sacrifice of his life, nevertheless I think it is too much modern and to much female thinking. 150 years ago being a male with a strong military background, he must have felt he had no other choice.
Heartbreaking.

As for Jackson, I always have difficulties to symathize with him. He claimed to be a Christian in every aspect, but in his daily life I think he did not always follow Christian principles. Or those of the Old Testament, glorifiying sacrifices.

That's what I thought that's why this situation confuses me. Why did Jackson make such a point of bringing charges against Garnett?

I think because Garnett lead Jackson's famous "Stonewall Brigade". The Stonewall Brigade in Jackson's eyes should never be connected with retreat. He simply could not/did not want to see that they had no chance. Maybe he even thought it better to vanish in glory than to admit defeat. I will read as many books as there are about Jackson, I will never be able to understand him, I think.
 

War Horse

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Very interesting thread! In my opinion Ricard Brooke Garnett is a character who is much too overlooked between all these larger than life characters acting in the Civil War. In the German edition of McPherson's "Battle Cry for Freedom" he is not even listed in the index of names. Therefore it is about time to commemorate him and I'm glad that this thread offers the opportunity to favour him.

As Foote in his "Civil War : a narrative", vol. 2 , p. 533 describes Garnett as strikingly handsome, therefore I think we should add a face to his name:
garnett.gif

From: http://schwartz.eng.auburn.edu/ACW/lrtmap.docs/garnett.gif

When I read first about Pickett's Charge (or the Pickett/Pettigrew assault, as it should be named properly), I simply thought it bad luck for Garnett that he had been injured so that he had to ride a horse to lead his men to battle which made him an easy target. Meanwhile I think there was much more to it. It might have been "suicide by enemy" as @M E Wolf stated, but I think it was even more archaic. In my opinion he was seeking nothing less than an ordeal by battle. As @War Horse in his introduction already stated, Garnett was from an old military family. Being accused of disobedience and cowardice was something he simply could not bear, not in his own eyes and not in the eyes of his family. A court martial would probably have cleared his name (Foote in vol. 2 says he even had demanded a court martial), but he was never formally tried so he was denied the chance to clear his name in court. And to oppose a dead hero (Jackson) surely is nothing to be desired in public. So he might have seen his only chance to clear his name in an act of extreme bravery. He knew exactly what awaited him. Mcpherson in his work "Hallowed Ground" on p. 155 quotes him remarking to Armistead about the planned assault:"This is a desperate thing to attempt". So he might have thought that taking part in in, on a horse, would either clear his name for all times from every suspect of cowardice or, if things would go bad, the memory of his courage would remain. Welsh in his "Medical history of ´Confederate Generals" states that he was actually unfit for for duty, suffering from fever and chills, but donned an immaculate new uniform for the assault. If he was to die, he might thought that he wanted to be prepared in every aspect.

@Northern Light, as much as I agree with you as far as the result is concerned - in my mind, too he should not have felt to be forced to bring this ultimate sacrifice of his life, nevertheless I think it is too much modern and to much female thinking. 150 years ago being a male with a strong military background, he must have felt he had no other choice.
Heartbreaking.

As for Jackson, I always have difficulties to symathize with him. He claimed to be a Christian in every aspect, but in his daily life I think he did not always follow Christian principles. Or those of the Old Testament, glorifiying sacrifices.



I think because Garnett lead Jackson's famous "Stonewall Brigade". The Stonewall Brigade in Jackson's eyes should never be connected with retreat. He simply could not/did not want to see that they had no chance. Maybe he even thought it better to vanish in glory than to admit defeat. I will read as many books as there are about Jackson, I will never be able to understand him, I think.

Wow FF excellent detail. Thank you so much.
 

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This is an extract from "I Rode With Stonewall" by Henry Kyd Douglas.

The battle was fought until sundown, when General Garnett, commanding the Stonewall Brigade, ordered it to retire, leaving some wounded men on the field. For this order General Garnett was subsequently put under arrest by Jackson and relieved of his command.


Then arose great bitterness of feeling in the old brigade. Garnett had completely won the confidence and affection of its officers and men and their astonishment at his arrest was only equaled by their indignation. General Garnett maintained that he could not have held his position much longer with his weak line and that by falling back he saved some of his soldiers from unprofitable deaths and many from capture. General Jackson never ceased to believe that if the unfortunate order had not been given his troops would have held their position until dark, the battle would have been a drawn one, and the enemy would have retired to Winchester during the night. The officers in the brigade thought General Garnett was right; in fact I do not know an exception to this opinion. General Jackson had great personal regard for Garnett as a man and soldier; but he was so positive in his opinion that he relieved Garnett from command and put General Charles S. Winder in his place.


It may be said that, for once, the officers and the men of General Jackson's old brigade almost unanimously differed with him. Their regret at the loss of General Garnett was so great and their anger at his removal so intense and universal that their conduct amounted almost to insubordination. General Winder was received in sulky and resentful silence, and for nearly three weeks General Jackson was permitted to ride past his old command without hearing a shout. General Garnett asked for a court of inquiry immediately, but as the active campaign was begun, this request was refused. He was not restored to duty until after Chickahominy. If General Jackson thought Garnett had committed a grievous fault, most grievously did he answer it.


Afterwards, until the death of General Jackson, Garnett was only seen once by his faithful brigade. On this occasion., he happened to appear suddenly before them, and as he rode along the line, with pale face, they greeted him with shouts of love and remembrance that must have rung in his ears during the rest of his short life.


The next time I saw him was in Richmond. General Jackson was lying dead in the Executive Mansion and General Garnett had come to look upon his remains. Major Pendleton and myself met him at the door and led him to the parlor. He raised the veil which covered the face of the dead and looked at it long, in silence. "Tears gathered in his heart and rose to his eyes," as his manly frame trembled with emotion and sorrow. Forgetting all personal wrongs, that unsullied patriot wept for the loss that had fallen on his country. In a little while, taking Pendleton and myself by the arms, he led us to the window. "You know of the unfortunate breach between General Jackson and myself; I can never forget it, nor cease to regret it. But I wish here to assure you that no one can lament his death more sincerely than I do. I believe he did me great injustice, but I believe also he acted from the purest motives. He is dead. Who can fill his place !"


So it looks like just about everyone except Jackson felt that Garnett did not deserve to be charged or court martialled. The only thing I can say is that Jackson was a very difficult person to dissuade once he got something in his head.

Very interesting read thank you so much. It almost seems Jackson would have rather seen his brigade destroyed than to see it retreat.
 

War Horse

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It may be said that, for once, the officers and the men of General Jackson's old brigade almost unanimously differed with him. Their regret at the loss of General Garnett was so great and their anger at his removal so intense and universal that their conduct amounted almost to insubordination. General Winder was received in sulky and resentful silence, and for nearly three weeks General Jackson was permitted to ride past his old command without hearing a shout. General Garnett asked for a court of inquiry immediately, but as the active campaign was begun, this request was refused. He was not restored to duty until after Chickahominy. If General Jackson thought Garnett had committed a grievous fault, most grievously did he answer it.

To me his men would be the best judge. They were a very proud brigade and if they to a man felt Garnett's decision was the correct one then I think that says a lot. These hardened veterans would have been quick to judge had it have been a bad decision.

Jackson getting the cold shoulder from his men for 3 weeks. That is very interesting. Thank you so much for sharing this.
 

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As for Jackson, I always have difficulties to symathize with him. He claimed to be a Christian in every aspect, but in his daily life I think he did not always follow Christian principles. Or those of the Old Testament, glorifiying sacrifices.
In order to understand Jackson's attitude and actions, you have to understand the Presbyterian mindset of the time. Jackson's words very much reflect the staunch, immovable belief that everything was God's will and whatever was done by them was done in His name. Everything that went against them was sinful and needed to by rooted out and destroyed, hence his seemingly unChristian words and his single-mindedness.
 

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Garnett's body must have been unmistakable with his new uniform and all. To have not been located after the battle is unbelievable. Considering his sword was found in a pawn shop would lead you to believe his body must have been lotted. As a result he ended up in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond as on of Gettysburg's unknow soldiers.

Confederate Brigadier General Richard Brooke Garnett is believed to be buried in Hollywood Cemetery. His cousin, Confederate Brigadier General Robert Selden Garnett, the first General killed in the Civil War, is not buried at Hollywood Cemetery.
 

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Here is a detail of a picture of the Richard Garnett's sword, the same he carried in Gettysburg:

Expired Image Removed
Notice anything interesting?

Also worth mentioning, that his cousin, Robert S. Garnett was the first CS General to die in the war (Battle of Corrick's Fort, 7/13/61)
 

War Horse

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Here is a detail of a picture of the Richard Garnett's sword, the same he carried in Gettysburg:

Expired Image Removed
Notice anything interesting?

Also worth mentioning, that his cousin, Robert S. Garnett was the first CS General to die in the war (Battle of Corrick's Fort, 7/13/61)
Do you mean the USA engraving?
 
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