Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight

In a letter to his wife on Oct. 1, 1863, shortly before his division marched for Knoxville, Gen. Lafayette McLaws told how Gov. Brown of Georgia, who was then running for reelection, visited the Georgia troops in Gen. William Wofford’s Brigade and exhorted them to maintain their faith in the Confederate cause.

“He told the men that he knew that the majority of them were poor,” according to the letter in the 2002 history A Soldier’s General, by John C. Oeffinger. “depending upon their own labor for the support of their families, that they were with few exceptions not slave holders, and that as the cry of many had been, this was a war for the rich and fought by the poor, he would take the opportunity of showing them that the poor were more interested in the success of our cause than the rich were….

“He then denounced those who were for a reconstruction showing that reconstruction was not possible, and would not be listened to by the North, that their aim was to conquer us and confiscate our property….finally he gave us his idea of reconstruction, which was to build a wall so high between us and Yankeedom that no one could ever get over it, or even see over it and to pass laws forbidding any Yankees ever to come again in our country….”

McLaws added that Wofford’s troops—including the Phillip’s Georgia Legion—were from Georgia’s northern counties “among which there is said to be some disaffection…some of the inhabitants desiring peace so badly that they would vote for reconstruction [or] for re-union upon any terms.”

But McLaws said the governor seemed to have made a good impression on the troops and they “dispersed with [band] music and shaking of hands and in good humor.” Their trial in the attack on Fort Sanders still awaited them.

About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
This entry was posted in "Knoxville 1863", Gen. Lafayette McLaws, Regimental bands, The Phillips Georgia Legion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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