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Mail Call Journal is pleased to present the Winners of the

1998 History Articles & Short Story Competition

American Civil War Category Winners

First Place I Second Place I Third Place

General History Category Winners

First Place I Second Place I Third Place I Honorable Mention

Links I Contact Us



First Place . . .

"Lost in the Crowd: Major General Henry Heth in the Army of Northern Virginia"
by John E. Deppen

The Army of Northern Virginia produced some of the most legendary figures in American military history. Even today, men such as Robert E. Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and J.E.B. Stuart are admired as heroes and respected as leaders by many Americans, both North and South.

Henry Heth achieved the rank of major general in the Army of Northern Virginia, but no one would call him a legend. Even at Gettysburg, where Heth's men triggered the most important battle ever fought by the Army of Northern Virginia, Heth's legacy is virtually invisible. The trinket shops do not sell Heth T- shirts; there is no statue of Heth on the battlefield; and his memoirs are absent from the shelves of Gettysburg bookstores. Heth does appear in the background of one modern painting depicting a conference of Lee and his generals at Gettysburg, but he is only one of many officers in the painting. Heth is lost in the crowd of more famous Confederates like Lee, James Longstreet, A. P. Hill, and John Bell Hood.

Major General Henry Heth is indeed lost in the crowded pantheon of Confederate heroes. Though he achieved no legendary success on the battlefields of the Civil War, Heth certainly proved his courage and his endurance during the war, and there is ample evidence that he was a competent officer. He survived many of the most ferocious fights between the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac. At Gettysburg he suffered an incapacitating head wound. When the end came at Appomattox, Heth was there.

* * * * *

Henry Heth was born on December 16, 1825, in Chesterfield City, Virginia. Like many ambitious and intelligent young men of his day, Heth sought admittance to the United States Military Academy at West Point. He entered the Academy as a member of the class of 1847, which included many future Civil war notables, among them John Gibbon. Like Heth, Gibbon would command a division at Gettysburg, but it would be a Union division.

The class of 1846, a year ahead of Heth's, included a brilliant young student named George B. McClellan, and a rather intense and socially awkward young man from Virginia named Thomas Jonathan Jackson. At the bottom of this class was another future Confederate division commander and cousin, George E. Pickett.

Heth's West Point career was far from the stainless performance of his future commander, Robert E. Lee. Heth was a fun-loving, energetic, plain-spoken individual, and his language was spiced was profanity. In 1844, Heth and a classmate were reprimanded by Superintendent Richard Delafield for taking the Almighty's name in vain.(1) With a personality that responded more to fun and adventure than to drill and classroom learning, it was not much of a surprise when Heth graduated last in his class of 38 cadets.

Upon his graduation in 1847, Brevet Second Lieutenant Heth journeyed to Mexico, no doubt hoping to arrive in time to participate in the American conquest. However, Mexico City had already fallen to General Winfield Scott's army by the time Heth arrived, and so the young junior officer had little to do but to perform routine occupation duties, and enjoy the companionship of his comrades.

Among his brother junior officers were two men whose destinies, like Heth's, would one day bring them to a small Pennsylvania town called Gettysburg. Winfield Scott Hancock of Pennsylvania was a West Point graduate of 1844, who accompanied Heth on many social forays among the Mexican populace. Lewis Armistead, a fellow Virginian, shared a mess with Hancock and Heth. Heth would later write, "Armistead, Hancock and I were messmates, and never was a mess happier than ours."(2)

From Mexico, Heth returned to the United States and served on frontier duty. The Army had its hands full protecting the ever-expanding western frontier, and much of its manpower was scattered throughout several forts and posts. Many young soldiers found the drudgery of life on the frontier and the slow rate of promotion in the peacetime army disappointing, and some, including the promising George McClellan and the lesser known Ulysses Grant, left the service to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Heth, however, stayed in uniform.

Shortly after the Mexican War, Heth found himself reunited with his friend Hancock in St. Louis, where they resumed the social adventures they had begun in Mexico. Heth, a plain looking fellow, often had to stand in the shadow of the taller and more dashing Hancock. Fortunately for Heth, Hancock met and married Almira Russell of St. Louis in 1850, thereby eliminating himself from romantic competition.

As the secession crisis loomed on the American horizon in 1860 and early 1861, many soldiers, including Heth, found themselves watching developments closely. Virginia did not immediately join the fledgling Confederate States of America, and so Heth and his fellow Virginians did not feel compelled to resign. When the Federals in Fort Sumter surrendered in April and Virginia decided to cast her lot with the rest of the South, Heth resigned his commission. In California, Heth's former messmate Lewis Armistead also decided to resign. The once "happy mess" was now torn asunder, with Heth and Armistead joining the Confederacy, and Hancock remaining loyal to the Union.

Experienced military officers were of special value to the new Confederate government in Richmond. The masses of enthusiastic volunteers swarming into Virginia needed to be trained, equipped, and fashioned into something resembling an army. West Point graduates of every description were looked upon as potential officers, and Henry Heth became, after a stint in the Virginia Quartermaster's Office, Colonel of the 45th Virginia Infantry.

Heth's energy and enthusiasm as a soldier caught the attention of officials in the Richmond government, particularly its president, Jefferson Davis. As another year of war began in January 1862, Henry Heth became a brigadier general on January 6th, and was sent west to command a division. Heth's division served in Kentucky under General Edmund Kirby Smith. Confederate fortunes in Kentucky never rose very high, and the border state declined to join the new Rebel nation.

* * * * *

Brigadier General Henry Heth joined the Army of Northern Virginia in February 1863. Heth assumed command of a brigade in Ambrose Powell Hill's famous Light Division. "When he joined the Light Division, Heth was thirty-seven, of medium height, with a bushy mustache and an engaging manner."(3) Heth and Hill knew one another from West Point, and Hill had actually served as a groomsman at Heth's wedding.

The Light Division had earned an impressive reputation for combat effectiveness. Hill's men marched to the rescue of Robert E. Lee's army at the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam) in September 1862, their attack late in the day staving off almost certain defeat for the Army of Northern Virginia. Heth's yearning for adventure and excitement seemed an excellent match with his new immediate superior and fellow Virginian, who often wore a flamboyant red shirt during campaigns.

Heth's brigade consisted of the 40th, 47th, and 55th Virginia regiments, and the 22nd Virginia Battalion. The brigade went into action at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 as part of "Stonewall" Jackson's devastating flank attack upon the 11th Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Because Jackson had spent much of the day marching his Second Corps into position, the attack was made late in the day on May 2. The attack sent the Federal soldiers reeling, but the fading daylight prevented a complete sweep. "It was now becoming quite dark," Heth wrote in his official report. "The undergrowth was so thick and entangled that it was impossible to advance in any order."(4)

As darkness settled in, Heth found his responsibilities suddenly increased. "General (A. P.) Hill informed me that he was wounded and directed me to take command of the division."(5) Hill and Jackson were both down, and it appeared that the Confederates' successful drive was in some jeopardy of falling apart. Major General J.E.B. Stuart of the cavalry was ordered by General Lee to take command of Jackson's corps and renew the attack in the morning. Heth received orders from Stuart to prepare to advance.

Heth's division attacked the Federals with fierce energy. "The breastworks were charged and carried," Heth reported, "the men never hesitating for a moment, driving the enemy before them and pursuing him until a second line was reached, which was in like manner broken." A third Union line was encountered which temporarily drove the Confederates back, but reinforcements were brought up. "The attack was renewed, and the enemy driven from this part of the field of battle," according to Heth.(6)

One of Heth's brigades under General James Archer moved forward and captured crucial high ground. "By his (Archer's) gallant attack, he secured the key to the enemy's position, clearing a hill and open space to his front, and thus gaining for our artillery a position from which they were enabled to silence the 29-gun battery of the enemy."(7) Once this high ground was in Confederate hands, the Union position began to unravel. Union General Joseph Hooker ordered the Army of the Potomac to retreat, and despite being outnumbered and outgunned, the Army of Northern Virginia stood triumphant on the battlefield of Chancellorsville.

Heth's performance during the battle sufficiently impressed his superiors that when General Lee decided to reorganize the command structure of the army, Heth was given permanent command of a division in the new Third Corps. A. P. Hill was promoted to command of this corps, while another Virginian, Richard Ewell, rose to command of the now reduced Second Corps, Stonewall Jackson having succumbed to complications from his wound at Chancellorsville.

The Army of Northern Virginia moved north through Maryland and into Pennsylvania in June 1863. General Lee hoped that an invasion of the North and perhaps a major victory on northern soil might relieve the pressure on besieged Vicksburg. If the Confederates could crush the Army of the Potomac decisively, perhaps the war might come to an end. With high hopes, Henry Heth and his division marched toward their destiny at Gettysburg.

* * * * *

Licensed Battlefield Guides at Gettysburg National Military Park will tell you that the age-old legend of the Battle of Gettysburg being started over shoes is untrue. There was no shoe factory in Gettysburg, and no shoe warehouse, according to guides. Henry Heth believed there were shoes in Gettysburg, however, and in his official report he wrote, "On the morning of June 30, I ordered Brigadier General Pettigrew to take his brigade to Gettysburg, search the town for army supplies (shoes especially), and return the same day."(8)

Pettigrew's men encountered the Union cavalry of John Buford's division on their mission and returned without having entered the town. A report was made to A.P. Hill that there were Union troops in the vicinity of Gettysburg, which Hill found hard to believe. Still anxious to move into Gettysburg, and perhaps anxious to bring on a fight, Heth requested permission to take his division forward the next day. Hill approved the request, and on the morning of July 1st Heth and his men were on the road to Gettysburg.

One telling piece of information about Heth's performance on July 1st can be found in his official report. "It may not be improper to remark that at this time...I was ignorant of what force was at or near Gettysburg, and supposed it consisted of cavalry, most probably supported by a brigade or two of infantry."(9) Despite his ignorance, however, and knowing that General Lee wished to avoid a general engagement until his whole force was at hand, Heth sent his men forward.

Heth's division collided with Buford's troopers, who were soon reinforced by infantry from John Reynolds' First Corps. "Heavy columns of the enemy were soon encountered," wrote Heth, and his men suffered heavily in their attacks. One of his brigadiers, Archer, was captured, along with several of his men, "after being almost surrounded by overwhelming forces in front and on both flanks."(10) Heth broke off his attack, and waited for more Confederate units to reach the field.

After receiving word that Major General Dorsey Pender's division of Hill's corps was on hand to lend support, Heth attacked again. "Pettigrew's brigade encountered the enemy in heavy force, and broke through his first, second, and third lines."(11) The Union position began to deteriorate north and west of Gettysburg, and the Confederates finally succeeded in driving the Federals through the town and toward the hills south of Gettysburg.

Heth's decision to attack and his persistence helped to press the Federals past the breaking point, but the cost had been very high for his men. One regiment, the 26th North Carolina, lost more than half of its men, including its young Colonel, Henry Burgwyn. Archer's brigade was in a "shattered condition," according to Heth, and Brigadier General Davis' brigade had suffered heavily as well.

Heth himself became a casualty when a bullet struck him in the head and fractured his skull. The blow might well have been a fatal one, had not an aide placed some wadded newspapers into Heth's new, ill-fitting hat.(12) As it was, Heth was knocked senseless, and did not return to command his division until after the Battle of Gettysburg was over. In Heth's absence, Pettigrew assumed command, and led the battered survivors of the July 1st fighting forward against the Union position on Cemetery Ridge on July 3. Heth's division was further decimated in what became known as "Pickett's Charge."

The battlefield of Gettysburg was also stained with the blood of Heth's former messmates. Winfield Scott Hancock, commanding the Union Second Corps, was seriously wounded in the leg during the July 3 fighting. Lewis Armistead, a Brigadier General in Pickett's division, was mortally wounded on July 3 and died two days later. The happy days in Mexico must have seemed an eternity away to Heth.

* * * * *

The Army of Northern Virginia retreated back across the Potomac, and despite an extensive campaign of maneuver through the fall of 1863, no climactic battle was fought. The spring of 1864 brought the Confederates face to face with a new adversary, Ulysses Grant, who assumed overall command of the Union armies and made his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac.

Grant amassed a huge force to crush Robert E. Lee. On May 5, the massive Federal host collided with Lee's army in a place called The Wilderness, not far from the scene of the Confederate victory at Chancellorsville a year earlier. Henry Heth's division of Hill's corps faced a familiar adversary through the tangled undergrowth along the Orange Plank Road. Hancock's Second Corps blazed away at his old friend, and sought to push Heth's men back through the maze of trees and brush.

Heth and his men held their ground at the end of the day, but his troops were battered and disorganized. Many of his units were out of position and disconnected from the Confederate line, and many men were low on ammunition. As evening came on, Heth sought permission from Hill to pull his troops back and reform his lines. According to Heth, Hill would not give his permission, believing that James Longstreet's First Corps would be on the field to relieve his men early the next day.

Heth knew that his men were in a dangerous position. He later claimed that he actually sought out General Lee to overrule Hill's decision, but for some reason was unable to find him. The statement that a division commander was unable to locate army headquarters is somewhat incredible, even given the confusion of The Wilderness fighting.(13) Nevertheless, with Hill firm in his decision and without permission from the commanding general, Heth kept his men in place. The aggressive division commander allowed the chain of command to overrule his better judgement. It would prove to be a near- catastrophic decision.

Early on the morning of May 6, Heth's friend Hancock sent his corps rolling forward into the disorganized ranks of the Confederates, and Heth's line fell apart. The collapse was so rapid and complete that advanced elements of Hancock's troops actually converged on Lee's headquarter's (the fact that the Yankees found it so quickly makes one wonder why Heth had so much trouble) and threatened to capture the commanding general himself. Fortunately for the Confederates, Longstreet finally arrived on the field, counterattacked, and saved the Army of Northern Virginia from disaster.

The Battle of The Wilderness was not Heth's finest hour. He displayed courage and tenacity in the first day's combat, but failed to take appropriate action to strengthen and protect his position. By leaving his men in a precarious condition, Heth invited calamity. When his men broke, they actually impeded Longstreet's counterattack, for the First Corps men had to step aside and let Heth's fleeing troops pass before they could launch their assault.

The war was far from over, however. Heth would have another chance to redeem himself, and another chance to overcome his humiliation at the hands of his old romantic rival from Pennsylvania.

Grant drove Lee into the trenches around Petersburg in the summer of 1864. The war in the East settled into a grim siege, with Union trench lines creeping slowly around Lee's right flank. Grant also sent expeditions around Confederate lines to try and cut supply routes. One of these missions found Hancock's Second Corps heading toward an important railroad junction named Ream's Station, and another rendezvous with Henry Heth.

At this stage of the war, A.P. Hill was frequently ill, suffering from the ravages of a sexually-transmitted disease. In August 1864, "the pain in his [Hill's] kidneys and prostate became so severe that he had to lie down on the ground."(14) On August 25 at Reams' Station, Heth commanded most of the Third Corps forces on the field. Hill ordered an attack, and Heth carried out his orders with vigor.

Hancock's corps had a reputation as one of the finest fighting units on either side, but it had suffered terribly during the spring campaign. Many of Hancock's veterans were gone, slaughtered on the fields of Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor. They had been replaced in many instances with bounty men and draftees. At Reams' Station, the Second Corps encountered Heth's onslaught, and was driven back. Many of the new Union men broke and ran. The humiliation was so great for Hancock that he said in the midst of the rout, "I pray God I may never leave this field!"(15) Heth had repaid his friend for the crushing blow in The Wilderness in May.

Reams' Station proved to be a fleeting victory. The Army of the Potomac continued to squeeze the life out of the Army of Northern Virginia. Eventually the pressure proved too great, and Lee's lines in front of Petersburg snapped in March of 1865. Final defeat came at Appomattox in April, where Lee, dressed in his best gray uniform for the occasion, met General Grant to sign the instruments of surrender. Heth, too, was dressed in his best gray uniform at Appomattox. He was worried he might lose it if the Yankees captured his baggage wagon.(16)

Appomattox was a bittersweet and poignant reunion for Henry Heth and many of his former West Point classmates. Many of them gathered in the town to discuss the details of the surrender formalities. Greetings were exchanged, hands were clasped and shoulders thumped, and the animosities of war passed away for a few brief moments. Cigars were smoked, old stories told as if they were new, and Henry Heth lost himself in the crowd, a Confederate major general no more.

* * * * *

Henry Heth's prominence in Civil War history is unavoidably linked with his march on Gettysburg in the early morning of July 1st, 1863. When the war was over and it became clear that the Confederacy's hopes had been dashed near that Pennsylvania town, scapegoats had to be found, blame had to be attached. Though fellow Virginians fashioned a cottage industry out of bashing James Longstreet for Gettysburg, some historians pointed to Heth's zealousness and lack of caution in sending his troops forward down the Chambersburg Pike. The resulting collision ultimately proved fatal for the Army of Northern Virginia.

Those who judge Heth's performance as a commander solely on Gettysburg are missing a larger and more complex picture. Heth was, according to A.P. Hill's biographer James Robertson, "a brave officer who never put self-preservation above duty."(17) His career in the Army of Northern Virginia spanned more than two years, and his endurance in a command role had more to do with his courage and competence than anything else (though one might argue that luck saved his life at Gettysburg).

On the battlefield Henry Heth was a commander with drive, determination, and energy. Like all commanders, Heth had weaknesses, which sometimes interfered with his effectiveness. His drive sometimes got the better of his military judgement, as at Gettysburg; his desire to comply with and satisfy his superiors sometimes overcame his tactical sense, as happened in The Wilderness. Nevertheless, his faults were no greater than those shared by his brother officers.

Had Heth been incompetent, Robert E. Lee most certainly would have put him in a position where he could do the least harm, as he did with other officers of questionable quality. It is highly doubtful that he would have put Heth, and kept him, in command of a frontline division if there were any serious questions about his abilities as a commander.

Virginian George Pickett is remembered by millions for his division's legendary attack at Gettysburg. Few remember, however, that Pickett himself was absent from his division at a shad bake when his men were badly beaten at the Battle of Five Forks in April 1865. Pickett also conducted himself poorly during the disaster at Sayler's Creek a few days later. Lee was so infuriated by Pickett's careless performance that he relieved Pickett of his command before the final surrender at Appomattox.(18)

Virginian Henry Heth is remembered mostly by Civil War enthusiasts and Gettysburg buffs. He is virtually absent from the modern public mind, for he accomplished no legendary feats. Unfortunately, as long as the light of glory shines on his more famous comrades in the Army of Northern Virginia, Heth, despite his courage, perseverance, and devotion to his cause, will always be lost in the crowd.


(1) John C. Waugh, "The Class of 1846 - From West Point to Appomattox: Stonewall Jackson, George McClellan and Their Brothers" (New York: Warner Books, 1994), p.44.

(2) David M. Jordan, "Winfield Scott Hancock: A Soldier's Life" (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press [paperback], 1996), p. 17.

(3) James I. Robertson, Jr., "General A. P. Hill: The Story of a Confederate Warrior" (New York: Vintage Civil War Library, 1992), p. 178.

(4) Henry, Heth, "Reports of Brig. Gen. Henry Heth. C.S. Army, brigade and Ambrose P. Hill's division, respectively", May 25, 1863 (

(5) Ibid.

(6) Ibid.

(7) Ibid.

(8) Henry Heth, "Reports of Major General Henry Heth, C.S.A. Army, commanding division", September 13, 1863 (

(9) Ibid.

(10) Ibid.

(11) Ibid.

(12) ""Voices of the Civil War - Gettysburg" (Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1995), p. 40.

(13) Robertson, "General A.P. Hill", p. 262.

(14) Ibid., p. 299.

(15) Ibid., p. 300.

(16) Waugh, "The Class of 1846", p. 499.

(17) Robertson, "General A.P. Hill", p. 178.

(18) Richard F. Selcer, "Faithfully and Forever Your Soldier - General George E. Pickett, CSA" (Gettysburg: Farnsworth House Military Impressions, 1995), p. 48-50.


* Heth, Henry. "Reports of Brigadier General Henry Heth. Confederate States Army and Ambrose P. Hill's division, respectively." May 25, 1863.

* __________, "Reports of Major General Henry Heth, C.S.A. Army, commanding division." September 13, 1863.

* Jordan, David M. "Winfield Scott Hancock: A Soldier's Life." Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996.

* Motts, Wayne E. "Trust in God and Fear Nothing - General Lewis A. Armistead, C.S.A." Gettysburg: Farnsworth House Military Impressions, 1995.

* Rhea, Gordon C. "The Battle of The Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864." Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1994.

* Robertson, James I. Jr. "General A.P. Hill: The Story of a Confederate Warrior." New York: Vintage Civil War Library, 1992.

* Selcer, Richard F. "Faithfully and Forever Your Soldier - General George E. Pickett, C.S.A." Gettysburg: Farnsworth House Military Impressions, 1995.

* Thomas, Emory M. "Robert E. Lee." New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1997.

* "Voices of the Civil War: Gettysburg." Alexandria: Time-Life Books, 1995.

* Waugh, John C. "The Class of 1846 - From West Point to Appomattox: Stonewall Jackson, George McClellan and Their Brothers." New York: Warner Books, 1994.

About the Author:

Biography - John Deppen, a resident of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, is Secretary of the Susquehanna Civil War Round Table, as well as a member of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites and the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg. Deppen writes book reviews for "The Civil War News" and historical commentaries for "The Daily Item," his local newspaper. He is active in local historical preservation efforts and makes personal appearances as Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, commander of the Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac from 1863-1864. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Civil War Studies through American Military University in Manassas, Virginia.

The Article - Non-fiction.


Second Place . . .

"The Truest Friendship"
by Shannon Currie Thomas

In June of 1861 on a train traveling to Richmond, Virginia, two strangers met. Both traveled to the same destination, both with the same purpose: to protect the Confederate States of America. The first was a lawyer from Marion, Alabama. Although lacking the experience, he was a whole-hearted secessionist who had made up his mind to do his duty to the South. He displayed the endeared mannerisms of a perfect gentleman. The second man was a West Point graduate from Gainesville, Georgia, well-learned in the art of warfare and its consequences, yet also determined to fight for the causes of his home. These were the circumstances under which Thomas Jewitt Goree and James Longstreet began their journey. The war brought them together and initiated one of the truest friendships ever displayed between two of the greatest men of their time. The bond between Goree and Longstreet was one of mutual respect, love, and devotion; three essentials for a friendship that war brought together and scandal could not sever.

Thomas Goree was appointed a volunteer aide on the staff of then Brigadier General James Longstreet on July 18, 1861, shortly after their first meeting. Goree remained on Longstreet's staff as an aide-de-camp for the remainder of the war, earning the rank of major and participating in nearly every battle of the Army of Northern Virginia. Goree's position was one of great responsibility. He served as amanuensis to his commander and often delivered the general's orders to subordinate commanders.

Goree was also a liaison to men of even higher command. Goree had to be knowledgeable of troop dispositions, routes of march, and locations of officers' headquarters. He possessed a very sufficient understanding of tactics and his superior's intentions so he could modify the commander's orders on the battlefield if the circumstances warranted. Thomas Goree had a natural love for military service and staff work. He never claimed more than to have "served faithfully during the war (Cutrer 6)."

To General James Longstreet, Goree was always "a gentleman of high position and undoubted integrity (6)." Longstreet wrote on October 10, 1862 of Goree's services at the Second Battle of Manassas, "I am under renewed and lasting obligations" to Goree and other staff members. "These officers, full of courage, intelligence, patience, and experience, were able to give directions to commands such as they thought proper, which were at once approved and commanded my admiration (6)." Longstreet used Goree as not only an aide but also as a courier, a gunner, and an occasional troop commander. Longstreet also appreciated his advice as a strategist. On October 4, 1864, Longstreet wrote to Lee of Goree's suggestion that Sheridan would probably send his infantry to the relief of Sherman. Longstreet not only respected Goree as a gentleman of integrity, but also as a soldier of extreme value to the South.

General Longstreet had a good deal of the old soldier about him and Thomas Goree admired that (Wert 94). He often wrote back home to his relatives of his opinions of Longstreet. In his account of the Battle of Manassas to his uncle he stated, "When some of the soldiers started to fall back two or three times, General Longstreet, amid a perfect shower of balls, rode amongst them with his cigar in his mouth, rallying them, encouraging and inspiring confidence among them (Cutrer 16)." Later Goree wrote, "General Longstreet alone deserves all the credit. Had he not rode amongst his troops and himself rallied them when they started to fall back, had he not exhibited the coolness and courage that he did, the result of the whole affair might have been different (27)." During this battle, Longstreet was exposed to fire from both sides when he placed himself in front of the Seventh Virginia Regiment to be sure they fired on time. He saved himself only by throwing his body off his horse and lying flat on the ground, once again demonstrating to Goree his bravery and complete dedication in battle.

Goree also wrote of Longstreet's personality. In a letter to his mother in August of 1861, Goree wrote, "General Longstreet is one of the kindest, best-hearted men I ever knew. Those not well acquainted with him think him short and crabbed, and he does appear so except in three places: first, when in the presence of ladies; second, at the table; and third, on the field of battle. At any of those places he has a complacent smile on his countenance, and seems to be one of the happiest men in the world (39)." Goree often said that Lee needed Longstreet to advise him on some subjects and that Longstreet seemed to have the very suggestive mind that none of the other Lieutenant Generals had. "He is a very fine officer and is as brave as Julius Caesar. His forte though as an officer consists in the seeming ease with which he can handle and arrange large numbers of troops, as also with the confidence and enthusiasm with which he seems to inspire them," Goree wrote of the general (60)." Clearly, Goree expressed a great amount of appreciation and respect for his commander. This mutual respect was a spark to begin the flame of friendship.

Goree's admiration and respect for Longstreet seemingly deepened with each passing day. His letters back home to his mother, sister, and uncle provide an intimate and revealing portrait of the general, the headquarters personnel, and the events. Perhaps, of all Longstreet's staff, Goree became the general's favorite (Wert 84). In fact, after the Battle of The Wilderness, while passing a group of wounded soldiers, Longstreet and Goree discovered that one of the wounded was Goree's brother. Watching Goree's grief, Longstreet himself was moved to tear (Piston 88). Shortly after this incident at the same battle, Longstreet was severely wounded. Goree was often found at his bedside during his recovery at Campbell Courthouse, Virginia. Afterwards Longstreet was removed to Georgia for convalescence. When the partially crippled Longstreet returned to war, Goree returned to the Army of Northern Virginia and rejoined Longstreet's staff.

After the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, Goree accompanied Longstreet to Lynchburg, Virginia. Then in June of 1865 the two traveled to Greensboro, Alabama, where they parted - Longstreet to Mississippi and Goree to Texas. For years after the war, Goree urged Longstreet to visit him in Texas. In January of 1891 Longstreet arrived in San Antonio where Goree visited him. The two soldiers maintained a fond and frequent correspondence thereafter until shortly before Longstreet's death on January 2, 1904. Fourteen months later, on March 4, 1905, Goree died of pneumonia. In one of the last letters Goree wrote to Longstreet he said, "With my heart full of gratitude I often think of you and of many acts of kindness shown me, and the innumerable marks of esteem and confidence bestowed upon me, by you during the four long and trying years that we were together (Cutrer 158)."

No testimonial to the friendship and love between these two men is more affecting than the letter Longstreet's widow, Helen Dortch Longstreet, wrote to Major Goree's widow, Eliza Nolley Goree, after Goree's death in March of 1905. "I am grieved beyond all words to know of your great loss. Your husband was so dear to General Longstreet that he became dear to me, though I have never looked upon his face. I had hoped to meet him before our journeyings in this world should be over. There is comfort in the thought that he has clasped hands again with his old Commander. I mourn with you, and send you across the miles all my heart's tenderest, most loving sympathy. And I mourn doubly, because I was denied the privilege of knowing personally one who was as great a soldier and citizen, and one whom General Longstreet loved so deeply to the last (13)."

Although Longstreet's relationship with Thomas Goree was excellent, his relationship with his senior officers, especially after General Lee's death was very rocky. Officers such as Pendleton, Gordon, and Early claimed Longstreet had denied Lee's orders during the war for his own recognition but the true reasons for these harsh emotions was politics. Longstreet was not of the "Virginia clique" of the army. He became a Republican after the war, and held several federal appointments under his personal friend and kinsman by marriage, Ulysses S. Grant. For these reasons he was excluded from well-known Confederate heroism and found as the scapegoat for the Confederate failure at Gettysburg and the ultimate loss of the war. These charging officers assumed Longstreet would sooner "reign in Hell than serve in Heaven."

Even before the scandal, Goree wrote in a letter to his mother in February of 1864 of the campaign in East Tennessee. He said, "Had Longstreet received proper cooperation from his subordinate commanders, and had his plans been promptly and energetically executed by them, he would have made the most successful and brilliant campaign of the war (Cutrer 116)." The other factors hindering Longstreet's corp in this campaign were a lack of shoes, clothes, and provisions.

In May of 1875 Longstreet wrote to Goree asking for all recollections on the battle of Gettysburg. This request included all information from the march from Chambersburg until the return to Culpepper Courthouse. Longstreet's reasoning for this request was because in the December 1874 issue of "Southern Magazine," Pendleton attributed the loss of Gettysburg to Longstreet. Longstreet wanted to publish his own account of the battle. Goree himself had heard Pendleton deliver a speech in Galveston in 1873 in which he made charges against Longstreet. Goree was determined to publish a reply in the newspapers, but soon decided against the idea when he saw the feeling of indignation towards Pendleton among the soldiers who had fought and bled with Longstreet.

Goree indeed sent his recollections to his general. In one such recollection Goree describes a meeting between Lee and himself on the third day of Gettysburg. Lee said that if Longstreet's desired flank movement had been made early on the morning of July third that he would have been met with very little opposition (Longstreet 400). Many historians dismiss this account by discrediting Goree's reliability. It is unlikely that an officer who was highly trusted throughout the war, who was selected for special missions because of his integrity and who had been in the heat of fighting on bitterly contested battlefields would needlessly fabricate a story about his meeting with General Robert E. Lee (Tucker 223).

Goree wrote to Longstreet on May 17, 1875, "Although we may differ in our political opinions, yet I have always given you credit for honesty and sincerity of purpose, and it has made no difference in my kindly feelings towards you personally, and I trust that it never will (Cutrer 158)." In response to this comment made by Goree, Longstreet wrote him, "Twould be strange indeed if the bonds of four years of severe service in a common cause through four years of trials that do not come upon men but once in a century, could be severed by time or trials (159)."

Throughout history, war has produced heroes and scapegoats. War has often separated the strong from the weak; the brave from the timid. War tears apart families and countries alike, but the bonds formed during war between men who risk their lives for one common cause, one for the other's rights, can never be broken. The relationship between Thomas Jewitt Goree and James Longstreet underwent many trials and tests, but the respect, love, and devotion they possessed, one for the other, always overpowered the scandal and the burdens of war and life itself.


* Cutrer, Thomas. "Longstreet's Aide: The Civil War Letters of Major Thomas J. Goree." University Press of Virginia: Charlottesville, 1995.

* Longstreet, James. "From Manassas to Appomattox." Mallard Press: New York, 1991.

* Piston, William Garrett. "Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant: James Longstreet and His Place in Southern History." University of Georgia Press: Athens, 1987.

* Tucker, Glenn. "Lee and Longstreet at Gettysburg." Morningside Bookshop: Dayton, 1982.

* Wert, Jeffry. "General James Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier." Simon and Schuster: New York, 1993.

About the Author:

Biography - Eighteen-year-old Shannon Thomas is a resident of Sanford, North Carolina. Her father was Chairman of the Longstreet Memorial Fund, an organization responsible for erecting a monument to General James Longstreet at Gettysburg National Military Park. Shannon participated in the Memorial Fund project for seven years. She also organized her local Order of Confederate Rose Chapter and served as its president for the past five years. Shannon has a great love for history, especially that of the Civil War, and attempts to write on a more personal note about the people of the war. She hopes that through her writing, others will somehow realize the dedication, valor, and strength of these often forgotten men. As a result of this deep love of history, Shannon plans to attend the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in the Fall of 1999 to begin her major in history.


Third Place . . .

"Twenty Feet Beneath the Sea"
by Madge Pfleger

Because it was so small, the CSS Hunley was once called a sardine-can-of-a-ship. This iron vessel, although tiny, was the first submarine to sink a warship.

Named for Horace L. Hunley, a New Orleans, Louisiana lawyer and merchant who furnished the money to build it, the Hunley was built at the Park and Lyons machine shop in Mobile, Alabama. William Alexander, an engineer who helped build the first iron-clad ships in Mobile, was in charge of the construction of the ship.

This submarine, created for use by the Confederate forces during the Civil War, was completed in the summer of 1863. She was approximately four feet wide, five feet deep and a little under forty feet long overall, less than the width of a tennis court. You can see why the members of the crew had to be small in size.

Only volunteers were accepted for training on the Hunley because of the great danger. There were eight men who turned the cranks by hand in order to turn the propeller; seated side by side, they all had to crank at the same time. On each side of the outer hull were six-foot-long movable fins that controlled the upward and downward movement of the ship.

Designed to work as a warship, the Hunley carried just one torpedo, armed with ninety pounds of explosives. This torpedo was attached to the end of a twenty-two foot pole which was fastened to the bow (front) of the ship.

For entering the ship, two glass-covered hatches (openings) were placed topside, along with one air-box. When near enough to the surface of the water, two pipes could be raised through the air-box to take in fresh air.

When the submarine was first launched in Mobile Bay, they found the shallow waters were too rough for proper testing, so they shipped her by train to Charleston, South Carolina on two rail cars. The Hunley sank three times during testing and lost most of the crews. Horace Hunley, himself, was killed during one of these trial runs in October, 1863. He was only thirty-seven years old.

In order to do its work, the iron boat had to remain under water and have a clear night in order to get close enough to the enemy ship without being seen.

Under the command of Lt. George Dixon on February 17, 1864, at 8:45 P.M., the Hunley sank her first and only warship, the Union sloop-of-war Housatonic. Following the successful attack, the ill-fated Hunley sank with all its crew of nine lost. The two-hundred and seven-foot long Housatonic sank in such shallow water that her rigging stayed above the surface; she only lost five crewmen of a total of one hundred and fifty-five.

On a Sunday afternoon in April 1948, a memorial to those Mobile men lost in service on the Hunley was dedicated in the Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile. (Land for this very old cemetery was purchased by the City of Mobile in 1835.) One of the two children who unveiled this monument was five-year-old Winston Groom, who grew up to write the book, "Forrest Gump."

Some time later, in 1991, a full-sized model of the Hunley was completed and can be seen at the Mobile City Museum.

Still making news, it is believed that the Hunley has been located in twenty feet of mud and water offshore the Charleston harbor. This report, over one hundred and thirty years after her sinking, was released in May, 1995, by Clive Cussler, an underwater explorer. According to his divers, the Hunley seems to be in one piece and in good condition, although filled with silt and water.

Brining the submarine to the surface will be expensive and a lot of careful planning will be needed before actually starting the move. Both cities Mobile and Charleston believe they should become the home of the Hunley after it has been raised and preserved. Mobile feels the ship is part of Mobile's history as it was built there; Charleston reasons that the Hunley should remain where she made her contribution to history.

One of the divers who helped find it suggested that maybe the submarine could be shared by the two cities.

About the Author:

Biography - Madge Pfleger is a resident of Mobile, Alabama.

The Article - Non-fiction.



First Place . . .

by D. C. Strack

I remember the way he used to look at me. This was back in the days before we were married, of course. He had a way of staring at me, as if he was looking right through me. I wondered what it was that he saw in me that could possibly have been so deep that his eyes would go unfocused, so deep that he would quickly turn his head in embarrassment when he noticed I was staring back his way. I was older so he must have felt I had the upper hand.

I was older. You see, that was the problem. I had just passed my 31st birthday when this upstart 25-year-old went and declared his love for me. "Declaration" perhaps isn't the best word. In our 61 years together, I don't think I ever heard Carl, dear Carl, declare anything. He was so soft-spoken. He just calmly told me that he didn't want me to go to Alaska.

Yes, that's right...Alaska. In 1933, there were not the kind of easy opportunities that there are today. Now, if someone decided they'd like to go to Alaska, they'd just need to save up some money and go. No, not even that. They could take one of their awful credit cards and charge their way to Alaska. It would probably take a few hours and if they didn't like it, they could just fly back on the same plastic that carried them over the thousands of miles. It was not such an easy decision to make in those days. We didn't have plastic. I don't mean the credit cards, mind you. We didn't have plastic. Our world was one of wood and glass, dirt, cloth and leather. Everything was real. If it wasn't real, we didn't trust it. We didn't trust what they said on the radio, we didn't trust banks or contracts. We didn't trust anyone or anything you couldn't hold in two strong arms. We learned who and what to trust rather quickly in the big downturn. As a country schoolteacher, my wages were often paid in potatoes. I don't blame anyone for this. The country school district kept records of how much money they owed me but couldn't pay. All I had for certain was IOU's and a contract that said I could keep teaching. In the meantime, the local farmers would bring their produce to my house. Most of them, although they'd never had education themselves, thought it was a good thing for their children to learn to read and write. Of course, I kept working in that one room schoolhouse and the money turned out to be real in the end, but by the time I got it, the worst was already over. Those potatoes were a bit more "real" and they were what pulled me through.

No, if you couldn't see it, then you couldn't very well trust it. That could be a big reason why I wanted to go, but also why I stayed. I didn't see much future for a single teacher like myself in "outstate" Minnesota. If I were going to grow old alone, at least I would do it in a romantic place; some place where being a strong-willed and tough woman would count for something. Perhaps I would find others there like myself, and in the end I wouldn't be alone. All I knew about Alaska was from a few travel books I'd seen and the newspaper article advertising the need for teachers. There was a shortage of teachers in Alaska then, for understandable reasons. I imagined a land full of lumberjacks and Eskimos, tall timber and bear. There I would stand, at the front of a class full of boys. I reasoned that Alaskan women must all come from the "lower 48" full-grown, and like myself, with something to prove to any and all concerned. No girls would likely be born in Alaska. The masculinity of the place would surely overpower normal genetic odds as children developed in the wombs of their cursing, spitting mothers. So, anyway, there I would be, telling a room full of boys, age 6-13, all with full-grown beards, about the importance of reading should they ever plan to visit a city and why it was not appropriate to chew tobacco in class unless they shared with everyone.

I wasn't scared in the least. Actually, this is a half-truth, not quite halfway to a full lie. If I had gone to Alaska and actually faced my first northern winter as a single woman surrounded by monosyllabic men I would have been fearful, I'm sure. The "idea" of Alaska didn't scare me but the corresponding reality probably would have. Still, I would have gone. Nothing would have kept me away simply because, when I made my decision, I saw nothing with the power to keep me in Minnesota. My schoolhouse was small, with gently rolling farms stretching into the distance all around. It was pleasant in the summer and deathly cold in the winter, with beautiful flashes of autumn and faltering springs. But it was not "wilderness" anymore. Not long after this time, "Little House on the Prairie" began to gain popularity with many girls in the area when it was still considered to be fairly recent state history. Their grandmothers would then ask them about what they were reading. Having heard a bit, they would then set the little one on their knee and tell her that they would have written it themselves if they hadn't been so busy cooking and cleaning and baking and killing chickens. Never mind the fact that they couldn't read or write. In truth, they had no need for such a story at all because that tale was the adventure that all our grandparents shared.

My generation was different. We had it easy. Oh, yes, we still killed chickens and made sauerkraut by placing earthenware crocks full of cabbage in the cellar (or lacking a cellar, in a hole in the ground), but we didn't worry about Indian raids, usually had enough heat in the winters and could rely on neighbors a few miles away should we need help. Most of the folk on neighboring farms even spoke English. And so the stories I had heard convinced me that the frontier was the place to be. Of course Canada was much closer, but I didn't want to go to another country entirely. Alaska was the last frontier of America, America in the old sense of the word when South America meant everywhere "to the south of America" and the Mississippi River was only the first boundary which separated us from the mythical "east" of which I knew little. I hadn't actually seen pictures of Alaska, either, but I knew there were great pine forests, glacier-cooled streams filled with salmon and the Northern Lights, blazing warmth into human souls even as human bodies shivered through long, arctic winters. If there were any cities in the 49th state, I didn't give them much thought. For better or worse, I was going to Alaska.

And so I told Carl. He didn't mean so much to me then and I assured myself of this when I told him. I was very matter-of-fact. "I'm going to Alaska," I said, with a firm nod. He got that far-away look in his eyes, gazing at me, as if into my very soul. He was pondering my depths again. And then with the calm tone of reason he asked me simply, "Are you sure that's a good idea?" and suddenly, with those words, I wasn't. I knew that he had been "in love" with me. I had first realized it a few years before, when I was 27 and Carl had been 21, a full 6 years younger than myself. Of course he was still six years younger, and always would be, for that matter, but he had barely known me at first and I told him so. Now at 25, a very respectable marrying age, his affections could not be brushed aside so easily. He didn't want me to go and his simple question threw me into frustrated indecision.

Carl didn't have a beard. He was not tall. He was athletic, but not in the way a lumberjack is athletic. He had been a skilled shortstop on the local baseball teams. Carl had first hoped to be a farmer but his father, a stubborn old German, had promised the entire farm to Carl's older brother, a stubborn young German. With little hope of establishing his own farm, Carl had planned to be a teacher, but marrying me was as close as he ever got. He would have been a wonderful teacher. His soft voice could have convinced the rowdiest of boys to sit up straight (times and students were different then, I'm afraid). He was gentle and strong. Working on the farm had given him toughness and losing that farm to his brother had taught him humility. He was a wise man who did well with whatever was entrusted to him. If he had been responsible for a classroom full of students, I'm sure they would have learned a lot from him. And Carl might even have coached baseball.

But such was not to be. The stubborn old German let him know that teaching was "verboten." Never mind that Carl's options were limited; teaching was "woman's work." And so he had become an apprentice baker. Not a flashy job, but even in the worst of times people would need bread. This was important, as the "worst of times" were a very recent memory. If he could buy flour, he could make bread and if he could make bread, he could someday have his own bakery. With this as his goal he got up at four o'clock each morning and baked. Of course, it wasn't his bakery, but then it wasn't my school either. I was proud of his hard work and realistic ambitions.

No, he couldn't be brushed aside anymore. While I romantically saw myself as some adventurous schoolteacher, ready to fly (only figuratively) off to Alaska at a moment's notice, the life ahead of me seemed wonderfully exciting. But now I had to consider Carl. He was not wonderfully exciting but he was wonderful. It was wonderful that he never got angry. He certainly wouldn't hit his wife as so many husbands in the area did in those days. It was wonderful that he could listen to me for hours on end and then give me a single sentence of honest and wise comment. And it was wonderful how he looked at me, staring deeply and lovingly. We were married, against my better judgement, just a few months after I gave up on Alaska.

I was very concerned about the age difference. I talked on and on to him about my fear that we would be the target of gossip, as he was six years my junior. He said only that I worried too much. And in the end he was right. In all our years together, our ages didn't make a lick of difference. By the time I was graying at 40, his 34-year-old hairline was in noticeable recession and we even began to look about the same age. From then on, age was never even an issue. When you're young, age is a fairly good indication of experience and maturity but beyond a certain point, it seems to me, we all tend to stop learning anyway. That's why we make the same old mistakes over and over. The benefit comes only if we understand that wisdom can be found even in those who are younger than ourselves, and quite often with more regularity than we'd care to admit. And Carl was the wisest man I ever knew, at any age.

Oh, if only he were here now. I miss him so. Even in the end, in the pain of cancer, he never got angry, always listened intently and stared into me with his bright blue eyes. He saw something in me. He said that he had seen it from the very beginning. I don't know how he would have phrased exactly what he saw in me. He was a man of few words and his wisdom was never of the "eloquent" variety. But I loved that certain way he looked at me. I was always fleeing from myself, trying to prove myself, hustling and bustling around. When I did slow down enough to look in a mirror, I only saw an increasingly older and grayer woman who could never quite give him the affirmation he deserved, who could never quite express her feelings for him. After all those years together, with him lying on the living room sofa, deep in the pain that would bring his life to an end, it was my time to turn away in embarrassment. He was staring at me again. He gently took my hand and I started to cry, as I finally understood what he saw. Though my own view of myself had changed over the years, this boy who had unwisely fallen in love with me at 21 was still looking into my eyes and seeing Alaska.

About the Author:

Biography - D.C. Strack, who is from St. Cloud, Minnesota, is currently an instructor at Kitakyushu University in Kitakyushu, Japan.

The Article - Strack says of his story, "This work is fiction, largely based on the life experiences on my grandmother, Valona Cline-Strack, as she has related them to me in numerous conversations over the years. She is 97 at the time of this writing."


Second Place . . .

"Society, Sex, and Superiority: Simone de Beauvoir and the Birth of Modern European Feminism"
by Melissa Brewster

Simone de Beauvoir is known worldwide as an important figure in contemporary French literature, a political activist, and a pioneer in feminism. "The Second Sex (Le Deuxieme Sexe)" is a central text in women's studies; it is widely criticized and mentioned in almost all recent books and articles dealing with feminism and the situation of women. "The Second Sex" focuses on what it means to be a woman. Among the various important issues discussed, Beauvoir demonstrates how myths created by men have shaped women's behavior and provides an in-depth critique of women's situation and character.

Beauvoir could be defined as a social feminist. Social feminists seek to influence public opinion and believe that women's inequality and exploitation has its origins in class divisions.(1) Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Beauvoir became actively involved in the European feminist movement, primarily in France. Feminists campaigned and rallied for many of the same ideals which she set forth form women in "The Second Sex" such as human and economic freedom. According to biographer Deirdre Bair, "She was largely responsible for creating the current feminist revolution that changed the lives of the human race in most parts of the world, and to the end of her days she was eager to challenge any nation or individual that interfered with the rights of women."(2) Beauvoir's political activities after the publication of "The Second Sex" confirmed her dedication to the feminist cause. While Beauvoir gives no specific plan of action or theory to build feminist action and behavior, "The Second Sex" proved itself to be a starting point for feminists to construct and expand their own ideas.

Writing was an important aspect of Beauvoir's life. Beauvoir's development as a writer began in her adolescence. She was motivated by her desire for celebrity and her love of reading. She hoped that one day readers would be moved by what she had written. To Beauvoir, being a writer was to assume a status which many of her predecessors had already defined.(3) Until the 1970s, to be a female author was to belong as a junior partner in a male oppressive establishment, which shaped women's writing. Writing within a male world energized women's work.(4) Beauvoir is successful in making her self-examination a revelation and lesson to all as she explores the circumstances of being born and growing up as a female.

A major goal of "The Second Sex" is to weaken the deep-rooted myths surrounding women and to destroy the idea of "Eternal Feminine" - what is supposedly characteristic of women, appropriate for women, and limited to women.(5) To illustrate, Beauvoir argues that "From infancy woman is told over and over that she is made for childbearing, and the splendors of maternity are forever being sung to her."(6) In "The Second Sex," Beauvoir directs her writing to both men and women. Beauvoir reveals how a false myth concerning a woman's situation is a creation of men. Beauvoir contends, "Society, being codified by man, decrees that woman is inferior: she can do away with this inferiority only by destroying the male's superiority."(7)

Men are greatly responsible for perpetuating myths concerning women. Beauvoir maintains that "One is not born, but becomes a woman. No biological, psychological, or economic fate determines the figure that the human female presents in society; it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature, intermediate between male and eunuch, which is described as feminine."(8) Several recent protest movements worldwide oppose the view that biological status should assign social status or, rather, that biology explains social status.

Women are the products of how they have defined themselves on the basis of how they have been seen by men. Beauvoir suggests that "Women are much more susceptible (to images) because they are completely oppressed by men; they take men at their word and believe in the gods that men have made up."(9) Beauvoir also argues in "The Second Sex" that the idea of a woman is a cultural one, dependent on how men have seen women and how women have lived with the dominant sex: "Woman is determined not by her hormones or by mysterious instincts, but by the manner in which her body and her relation to the world are modified through the actions of others than herself."(10) Men have created what we know of as "woman." The word "female" simply connotes features of anatomy and physiology.

In the section of "The Second Sex" entitled "Women's Situation and Character," Beauvoir affirms that women "form an integral part of a group, which is governed by males and in which they have a subordinate role."(11) Beauvoir is critical of the actions and the behavior of women; however, men are the cause of women's actions and behavior. Men are given a good portion of the blame for women's condition. She writes of the paradox of women's situation: "they belong at one and the same time to the male world and to a sphere in which that world is challenged; shut up in their world, surrounded by the other, they can settle down nowhere in peace."(12) Women recognize that the world is masculine on the whole, and males dominate society. Women are then taught to accept this masculine authority and leave criticism and judgement to the "superior sex." Hence, women parrot accepted opinions and do not think for themselves because of the situation men have placed them in.

Beauvoir investigates woman's everyday routine. She asserts, "The lot of woman is a respectful obedience. She has no grasp, even in thought, on the reality around her. It is opaque to her eyes...Each day the kitchen also teaches her patience and passivity; here is alchemy; one must obey the fire, the water, wait for the sugar to melt, for the dough to rise, and also for the wash to dry, for the fruits to ripen on the shelf."(13) Kitchen and household chores teach a woman routine and make her life monotonous. Time is of no element, and future is only a duplication of the past. For this reason, men from all ranks in society attack women as idle, servile, and uninteresting. Woman, as Beauvoir describes, "...often appears to be lazy, indolent; but the occupations available to her are as empty as the pure passage of time...And finally, if woman is earthly, commonplace, basely utilitarian, it is because she is compelled to devote her existence to cooking and washing diapers - no way to acquire a sense of grandeur!"(14) Woman becomes docile and ordinary because her occupations are so dull and repetitive.

Beauvoir actually praises the patience of women in different situations. She avers that women can stand physical pain better than men. Women lack male's aggressive impudence and face poverty and misfortune more courageously than men. At the same time, Beauvoir expresses a dissatisfaction with women. Woman's faults are, of course, her own faults, but men have shaped her to be domesticated and humble. Girls are brought up not to think for themselves, and, therefore, women are always trying to make concessions by adapting, arranging, and conserving, rather than destroying and rebuilding. Women are inessential because they do not work to bring about change. They have been carefully trained not to step out of their spheres and achieve.

Beauvoir explains that women are scared to rise up and free themselves from the lives they live. She argues: "The real reason why she (woman) does not believe in a liberation is that she has never put the powers of liberty to a test; the world seems to her to be ruled by an obscure destiny against which it is presumptuous to rise in protest."(15) Women succumb to the established gender roles of society, thinking they are born to suffer and accept their situation. Woman's distrust of her environment is shown by her anxiety of the world around her: "For most of the time she is not resigned to being resigned; she knows very well that she suffers as she does against her will: she is a woman without having been consulted in the matter. She dares not revolt: she submits unwillingly..."(16) Beauvoir asseverates, "The emancipated woman, on the contrary, wants to be active, a taker, and refuses the passivity man means to impose on her."(17) When women finally realize their situation, they will be just as courageous as men. Another important idea which is stressed in "Women's Situation and Character" is that women rely on men too much: "She waits for man to put in an appearance, since her economic dependence places her at his disposal; she is only one element in masculine life while man is in her whole existence."(18) If women were liberated economically, they would not depend on men quite as much. Nevertheless, because women rely on men so much, they vent their anger on men. Beauvoir attests, "But above all, the fact is that woman is always prepared to take an attitude of frustration toward the world because she has never frankly accepted it. A man does accept the world; not even misfortune will change his attitude, he will face it, he will not let himself 'give up'; whereas it takes only a little trouble to remind woman of the hostilities of the universe and the injustice of her lot."(19) This is somewhat contradictory to her praise of women's ability to stay calm in times of hardship as mentioned earlier. Perhaps Beauvoir is trying to say that when women are forced to take action, they do so with a better attitude then men in times of crisis.

Beauvoir is shockingly captious in describing women as being airy and simple-minded. Beauvoir writes, "No doubt she (woman) respects the printed book, but she respectfully skims the pages of the type without getting at the meaning; on the contrary, the anecdote told by some unknown in a waiting line or drawing room at once takes on an overwhelming authority."(20) This is an especially sensitive passage in "The Second Sex" because it unequivocally depicts women as narrow-minded and insubstantial. However, one must remember that this is the manner in which woman has been conditioned. The goal of the book is to make woman aware of her condition and encourage woman to alter her insignificant and secondary status in society.

Men are superior to women because men have had more chances for advancement than women. Beauvoir affirms, "If we compare these situations rather than the people in them, we see clearly than man's is far preferable; that is to say, he has many more opportunities to exercise his freedom in the world."(21) This is why Beauvoir calls for a revolt to change women's condition. "Her wings are clipped, and it is found deplorable that she cannot fly. Let but the future be opened to her, and she will no longer be compelled to linger in the present."(22) If more opportunities for advancement are given to women, women will prosper. Women are expected to draw conclusions from the negative picture to see things differently and act in accordance with their own interest."(23)

Economic freedom is a cornerstone for all other forms of freedom. Beauvoir's call for the liberation of women "requires first of all that the economic evolution of woman's condition be accomplished."(24) Only work would ensure economic freedom for a woman, giving woman independence, self-confidence, and self-esteem."(25) Beauvoir's feminism was based on what she considered the legitimate claim of both sexes to the same freedom.(26) Freedom was her primary concern because it was the foundation of human reality and its realization. Political, social, and economic changes would have to be brought about to extend the freedom which she so revered.

Beauvoir argues that what has made men superior to women is their work, not just greater strength or freedom from childbearing and nurturing duties. Hence, women should have economic freedom so that they can be on equal footing with men. In "The Second Sex" and manifold articles and speeches, Beauvoir insists on woman's right and need for employment as an expression of her freedom. She advocates socialism as a means for obtaining freedom: "Like some social thinkers before and after her, Beauvoir contends that such economic equality cannot be achieved in a capitalist state, since inequality among classes produces conditions under which the freedom of a proletarian woman to find satisfaction in work is only virtual; socialism alone will extend such freedom genuinely to all."(27)

Beauvoir was especially passionate and opinionated about abortion in "The Second Sex." Men were hypocritical because they thought abortions were heinous, yet they were usually the cause for need of an abortion. In fact, as Beauvoir notes, "It is often the seducer himself who convinces the woman that she must rid herself of the child."(28) Beauvoir maintains that " France, it (abortion) is an operation to which many women are forced to resort and which haunts the love-life of most of them."(29) She finds the arguments against the legalization of abortion to be absurd. She asserts that the operation itself is not dangerous, "On the contrary, what makes it a serious risk for women is the way in which it is actually done under present conditions. The lack of skill on the part of abortion and the bad conditions under which they operate cause many accidents, some of them fatal."(30) The primitive and life-threatening techniques hundreds of women had to use because they could not get a legal, professional abortion appalled Beauvoir.

"The Second Sex" served as a springboard for Beauvoir's feminist and political activity. Abortion was one of the most unifying issues of the women's movement, bringing together millions of women.(31) The fight for abortion was the most biologically based women's rebellions. It attracted the largest numbers of supporters among feminists and women outside of the movement.(32) "The Second Sex" gave women a better understanding and respect for their bodies. As men were making laws about women's bodies, women wanted control of their own bodies.

An important form of protest was civil disobedience.(33) In a 1984 interview discussing the condition of women throughout the world, Beauvoir stated, "I believe that militant feminism grew directly from the '68 demonstrations, that properly feminist attitudes arose when women discovered that the men of '68 did not treat them as equals. Men made the speeches, but women typed them. Men were on the soapboxes and the podiums, but women were in the kitchen making coffee. So they got fed up with this because they were intelligent women..."(34) In November, 1971, Beauvoir marched through the streets of Paris with women who were calling for free contraception and abortion on demand. Beauvoir was an advocate of legal abortion. She signed the Manifesto of 343, which was published in "Le Nouvel Observateur," along with 342 other Frenchwomen. Signees of the Manifesto of 343 admitted that they had had an illegal abortion. In actuality, Beauvoir had never had an abortion. She did, however, pay for other women to have abortions in her apartment or elsewhere.

Her signature marked her beginnings as a militant feminist. By signing the Manifesto, she was challenging the authorities to arrest her for breaking the law.(35) In a 1982 interview, Beauvoir said, "By the time I signed 'The Manifesto of the 343', I was no longer a stranger to the threat of arrest or imprisonment - 'La cause du peuple' prepared me for that. I believed that it was up to women like me to take the risk on behalf of those who could not, because we could afford to do it. We had the money and the position and we were not likely to be punished for our actions..."(36)

Beauvoir's main role in the feminist movement was to take a leadership position in the protests. She became the first president of "Choisir", which aimed to provide legal aid for those charged with undergoing or performing abortions. Beauvoir wanted decent and safe conditions for all women who would undergo abortions. She had no patience for any group which limited freedom of choice. Contraception was illegal in France, so the need for abortion increased. Beauvoir maintained that if contraception was legal, there would be no need for abortion.(37)

As a result of the efforts of countless hard-working women, in 1975, the French government legalized abortion, allowing a woman to abort the fetus up to her tenth week in the pregnancy. The abortion would be subject to medical approval. Nevertheless, it was certainly a step in the right direction.

Many women venerated Beauvoir because she was an active feminist. She sat in the CET technical college, a home for unwed mothers until their babies were born. Beauvoir was horrified by the French law which placed children of unwed mothers under the authority of the baby's grandparents. During the 1960s, Beauvoir traveled endlessly, giving public declarations of support for feminist principles and goals. She gave interviews and published articles on politics and feminism. She started a feminist column in "Les Temps Moderne", where she campaigned to make sexism and sexual discrimination punishable offenses like racism. Women also wanted Beauvoir to clarify some of her ideas from "The Second Sex." Women wanted concrete proposals for future action and sought her opinions on abortion and the right of women to be educated. Others simply wished to see or touch the woman who had given them a desire and spirit for taking action to change their secondary status and oppressed condition.

The French provided the greatest input into feminist theory during the second wave movement, which began in the 1960s and persisted through the 1980s.(38) Since the beginning of the second wave movement, women have agreed that they are an oppressed and exploited sex.(39) New-wave movements have strengthened and expanded women's identity as women.(40) Young women of the 1960s, filled with liberal and egalitarian ideas, experienced with gender inequalities, came together, attempting to free women from the bindings of established gender roles.(41) Feminist activity during this time is credited with the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1973 in France and laws on contraception and abortion in 1974. A "transformation of consciousness," which had been fostered by people like Simone de Beauvoir, brought about the women's movement during the 1970s.(42)

Beauvoir had a profound influence on the development of modern European feminism. The period lasting from 1975 to 1985 was a time of vast legal, economic, and political change in women's lives.(43) French feminism in the 1970s was frequently seen as a left wing of frustrated women and intellectuals.(44) The feminist scholarship which flourished in the 1960s continued to thrive, leading to a wide range of research findings and valuable data concerning women. Predominant issues in the feminist movement of the 1970s included the double burden of female labor in the home and workplace, unfair marriage laws, women's lack of skills, training, and jobs, abortion, and sexual violence.(45) Beauvoir was notably active in promoting work for women and abortion. Prior to the development of the modern feminist movement, Beauvoir had already addressed these topics in "The Second Sex."

Beauvoir was always eager to meet American feminists who visited Paris in the 1970s. She made herself available to any individual or group until her death in 1986. She accepted almost any feminist entreaty or invitation which came her way. Sixteen years of public support is a relatively short period in comparison to other feminists. Curiously enough, while Beauvoir wrote for most of her life and nearly all of her writing contains feminist undertones, she is essentially known throughout the world more often as a feminist, not a writer.(46)

Beauvoir was actively involved in feminist organizations. In 1973, she was named President of the League of Women's Rights, which helped to enlighten women about their position and to denounce sexual discrimination in all forms. She called for a dramatically changed social order but realized that immediate change was necessary for the present. She ran the "Questions feministes" with Christine Delphy and Monique Wittig in 1977 and 1978. Language, and her usage of it, made her efforts effective and worthwhile. In addition, it gave Beauvoir great happiness to see that women sought her advice, her presence, and efforts. Feminist action truly became the dominant factor of the last sixteen years of her life.(47)

While in the 1970s she was an active participant in the modern European feminist movement (mostly in France), at the age of seventy-five, her role was largely ceremonial.(48) Speaking of her work still gave her tremendous pleasure after her life-long partner, Jean-Paul Sartre, passed away. However, she used her pen more often to write testimonies on behalf of causes and to write introductions for books. For instance, she sent statements to the government of the Republic of Ireland in support of legalization of contraceptives and homosexual rights. She supported subsidies for feminist publishing houses in France and gave a lot of money to fund shelters for abused and battered women.

The French feminists had popular and government support for their campaigns. These campaigns coincided with the objectives of the European Economic Community (EEC), allowing government unions and elites to press for legislature which would eliminate legal inequalities relating to gender. It is surprising that Beauvoir stated that French feminism "had an impact on French society disproportionate to the numbers of active members, its limited means, and above all its limited media access."(49)

In 1981, the majority of women voters in France helped to elect socialist Francois Mitterand to the presidency. He then devised a Ministry of Women's Rights, which Yvette Roudy initially headed. Mitterand charged Roudy to improve the situation of women throughout French society. Great strides were made in equal employment opportunity laws with the passage of the Law of Sexual Equality in Employment in July, 1983. Undoubtedly, Beauvoir must have been quite pleased to see the government enact a number of concepts outlined in "The Second Sex." In her opinion, Roudy had been "a committed feminist for many years. She is a translator, a scholar, a perceptive political woman. Happily, Mitterand has given her enough of a budget so that, in combination with her energy and intelligence, she can effect change. She has passed a very important law which forbids antisexist exploitation of women and their bodies in the media. She works to obtain equal salaries, the opportunity for women to enter jobs and professions that have been closed to them, and of course she supports the right of women to make their own decisions about their bodies."(50)

Beauvoir later accepted the position of honorary chair of the "Commission Femme et Culture." Its duty was to make concrete proposals for change, and the group soon called itself "Commission Beauvoir." According to Beauvoir, "...The importance of this commission (is) that it was created by an official arm of the government...which charges it to come up with recommendations for action. As such, it makes legitimate the issue of woman's place within society, and it shows that the Mitterand government is in favor of positive change."(51)

After the publication of "The Second Sex" in 1949, Beauvoir "became one of the most quoted, most translated, most admired, and most vilified women writers in the world; she herself was changed by this undertaking, and, while the effects of the changes made themselves felt only gradually, she was never henceforth only the woman writer who was also a woman, but an author and a thinker conscious of the problematizing of herself."(52) Beauvoir had published numerous books before, but none was so popular or criticized as "The Second Sex."

Much of Beauvoir's data were outdated and incomplete. Catherine Savage Brosman argues that "Except for the recent periods, her precise data concerning the circumstances of women are limited, and much of her evaluation relies on general historical and anthropological information and on older texts (biblical and Greek) whose incompleteness and bias are evident. The survey unavoidably suffers, then, from inadequate historical grounding."(53)

Since its publication, feminists have made use of "The Second Sex" as a starting point for their work. More extreme factions in the post-1968 feminist movement rebuked her for not going far enough.(54) Some argue that feminism has evolved to a point where Beauvoir's depiction and assumptions of women's situation must be rejected.(55) Albeit, her ideas were guiding beacons for the development of western European feminism in the late 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s. It should be expected that nearly one-half of a century after publication, "The Second Sex" might seem outmoded. It is unfortunate that young women in France are not well-versed in Beauvoir's writing or political activism in the fight for women's rights. Those who have read all or parts of "The Second Sex" say it is "out of touch with recent theory."(56) We must never forget that "The Second Sex" is an integral component of the birth of the modern feminist movement in Europe.

Feminists in the 1970s in Europe and North America found some of her early positions as too global and far from their concerns such as day care centers, working conditions, and equal pay. Times changed, and Beauvoir adjusted some of her ideas to the changing roles of women in society. She rarely responded to criticisms of "The Second Sex." For women who believed she separated herself from women, she said in a 1982 interview, "Women are wrong to accuse me of separating myself from them. If there is blame, it should be upon language, for we speak in the language of men. It is they (men) who have given us our verbs and pronouns, and we (women) who must do the best we can with them."(57) Beauvoir is actually the blameworthy one here; to reprehend men for her alienation from feminists seems a very weak response.

Sadly, modern criticism repeatedly denigrates Beauvoir's work. Beauvoir's historical importance should be neither questioned nor denied.(58) "The Second Sex" radically changed the manner of looking at the condition of women.(59) It was noted for the kinds of questions it raised and the material which was gathered together. Beauvoir's self-portraits and her exploration of women's situation touched women across the globe.(60) Her negative representation of women's situation and character was meant to encourage women to take action and improve their condition. Beauvoir served as an inspiration to many because she had gotten an education, become economically independent, and taken charge of her life.(61) Therefore, her written support or physical presence brought in converts to important causes and guaranteed a political forum.

Feminists of the past and present use Beauvoir's ideas as a base for the development of their own philosophies and beliefs. While many reproof her ideas, all can safely agree with Beauvoir that "What is certain is that hitherto woman's possibilities have been suppressed and lost to humanity, and that it's high time she be permitted to take her chances in her own interest and in the interest of all."(62)

"The Second Sex" aroused a feeling of a need for change. Beauvoir invites women to assert their independence and freedom in "The Second Sex." Since men are the natural oppressors of women, and women are the victims of a patriarchal ideology, women can fight back only by rejecting patriarchy and becoming individuals resembling men. By doing so, women would then have to accept male patterns of thought and action. Many feminists were critical of this view because it would require women to assume the rationality, independence, and economic sovereignty which men have used to oppress women.(63) Nonetheless, the dominant message of "The Second Sex" - women are an oppressed class - has entered the consciousness of women everywhere. Women realize they have been blinded to the reality of their very unequal and inferior place in human society because of male-dominated institutions and myths surrounding women.(64)

At the end of her life, Beauvoir was asked why she was a feminist. Her reply was that "I have always understood the unfathomable depth of woman's oppression."(65) Betty Freidan, the acclaimed author of "The Feminist Mystique", wrote, "It was 'The Second Sex' that introduced me to that approach to reality and political responsibility that, in effect, freed me from the rubrics of authoritative ideology and led me to whatever original analysis of women's existence I have been able to contribute."(66) Every woman in the later feminist movements understood that the oppression of the "second sex" was universal. Feminist books like "The Second Sex" assured women that they were not alone in feeling injustice towards their sex.(67) Simone de Beauvoir and "The Second Sex" deeply influenced the birth of modern European feminism, primarily in France, by challenging and motivating women to become aware of and to protest against their inferior and subordinate status in a world where men were the superior sex.


(1) Gisela Kaplan, "Contemporary Western Feminism" (New York: New York University Press, 1992), p. 20.

(2) Deirdre Bair, "Simone de Beauvoir" (New York: Summit Books, 1990), p. 618.

(3) Catherine Savage Brosman, "Simone de Beauvoir Revisited" (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991), p. 31.

(4) Ibid., p. 32.

(5) Renee Winegarten, "Simone de Beauvoir: A Critical View" (Oxford: Berg Publishers Limited, 1988), p. 85.

(6) Simone de Beauvoir, "The Second Sex" (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1989), p. 491.

(7) Ibid., p. 717.

(8) Beauvoir as cited in Kaplan, p. 2.

(9) Beauvoir as cited in Brosman, p. 87-88.

(10) Beauvoir, p. 725.

(11) Ibid., p. 597.

(12) Ibid.

(13) Ibid., p. 598.

(14) Ibid., p. 604.

(15) Ibid., p. 602.

(16) Ibid., p. 606.

(17) Ibid., p. 718.

(18) Ibid., p. 610.

(19) Ibid., p. 608.

(20) Ibid., p. 616.

(21) Ibid., p. 627.

(22) Ibid., p. 605.

(23) Winegarten, p. 84.

(24) Beauvoir, p. 627.

(25) Winegarten, p. 87.

(26) Brosman, p. 149.

(27) Ibid., p. 132.

(28) Beauvoir, p. 488.

(29) Ibid., p. 484.

(30) Ibid., p. 485.

(31) Kaplan, p. 13.

(32) Ibid., p. 276.

(33) Ibid., p. 19.

(34) Beauvoir as cited in Bair, p. 535.

(35) Winegarten, p. 93.

(36) Beauvoir as cited in Bair, p. 547.

(37) Ibid., p. 552.

(38) Kaplan, p. 164.

(39) Ibid., p. 272.

(40) Ibid., p. 276.

(41) "A History of Women in the West: Toward a Cultural Identity in the Twentieth Century," ed. Francoise Thebaud, vol. 5 (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1994), p. 536-537.

(42) "Women in the World: 1975-1985, The Women's Decade," ed. Lynne B. Iglitzin and ed. Ruth Ross, 2nd ed. (Santa Barbara: Clio Press, Ltd., 1986), p. 12.

(43) Ibid., ix-x.

(44) Ibid., p. 12.

(45) Thebaud, p. 543.

(46) Bair, p. 543.

(47) Ibid., p. 542.

(48) Ibid., p. 604.

(49) Beauvoir as cited in Kaplan, p. 177.

(50) Beauvoir as cited in Bair, p. 602-603.

(51) Beauvoir as cited in Bair, p. 603-604.

(52) Brosman, p. 123.

(53) Ibid., p. 127.

(54) Winegarten, p. 95.

(55) Brosman, p. 125.

(56) Bair, p. 554.

(57) Beauvoir as cited in Bair, p. 384.

(58) Ibid., p. 557.

(59) Winegarten, p. 82.

(60) Brosman, p. 38.

(61) Ibid., p. 617.

(62) Beauvoir, p. 715.

(63) Mary Evans, "Simone de Beauvoir: a feminist mandarin" (London: Tavistock Publications Ltd., 1985), p. 77.

(64) Jean Leighton, "Simone de Beauvoir on Woman" (Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Press, Inc., 1975), p. 219.

(65) Kaplan, p. xxiv.

(66) Winegarten, p. 94.

(67) Kaplan, p. xxiv-xxv.


* Bair, Deirdre. "Simone de Beauvoir." New York: Summit Books, 1990.

* Beauvoir, Simone de. "The Second Sex." New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1989.

* Brosman, Catherine Savage. "Simone de Beauvoir Revisited." Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991.

* Evans, Mary. "Simone de Beauvoir: a feminist mandarin." London: Tavistock Publications Ltd., 1985.

* Iglitzin, Lynne B., and Ruth Ross, eds. "Women in the World: 1975-1985, The Women's Decade," 2nd ed. Santa Barbara: Clio Press, Ltd., 1986.

* Kaplan, Gisela. "Contemporary Western Feminism." New York: New York University Press, 1992.

* Leighton, Jean. "Simone de Beauvoir on Woman." Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Press, Inc., 1975.

* Thebaud, Francoise, ed. "A History of Women in the West: Toward a Cultural Identity in the Twentieth Century." Vol. V. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1994.

* Winegarten, Renee. "Simone de Beauvoir: A Critical View." Oxford: Berg Publishers Limited, 1988.

About the Author:

Biography - Melissa Brewster, age 16 at this writing, wrote this article in her sophomore year of high school for her Advanced Placement European History class. She finds Simone de Beauvoir to be "a fascinating figure, whose work was so critical to the development of the modern European feminist movement." Brewster is a resident of Port Washington, New York.

The Article - Non-fiction.


Third Place . . .

"The Road of Haunted Memories"
by Shannon Currie Thomas

Joel walked along the narrow dirt road, watching as the dust spewed beneath the heavy clod of his feet. He examined his surroundings. The gentle sway of the trees as they bowed over the road was the same as it had always been. The wild flowers still grew along its edges in the deepest of purples and the purest of whites. The sound of the brook could still be heard over the rustle of the leaves, and the birds still sang their melodies in the perches above.

Everything seemed so familiar, yet Joel felt as a stranger in an unknown land. A certain hint of desolation whispered through the wind. The air conveyed a message of devastation that Joel could not ignore. Each step he took led him closer and closer to the fate he somehow knew had come.

He stopped for a moment in his journey to rest his fatigued and wounded body. Sliding beneath the shade of an oak tree, he examined his appearance. His skin was caked with dirt and grime gathered from the dust of his long journey. His shoes were rolled over with holes worn through the toes of each. His gray uniform, which once appeared beautiful to his excited eyes, was now ragged and torn. The four gold buttons of the original seven had tarnished and eroded into smooth circles. The hat he held in his hands was flattened, its color no longer a bright gray, but a dingy cross between black and brown. He placed his hands upon his face and felt the shaggy hair beneath his fingers. His once clean-cut appearance had diminished and his face was covered in long matted bristles. He could feel the sweat trickling down his cheeks from his shadowed forehead, creating a small stream of white amid the brown complexion he had grown accustomed to.

Joel moved his leg slightly to the right, elevating it upon a nearby rock. He could still hear the ringing of the muskets and feel the thud of the cannon exploding into the air, as the mini-ball lodged into his right thigh, causing his body to topple to the ground in the thick of battle. The other soldiers rushed over him, trampling his helpless body so carelessly. His body ceased its exercise and he entered a state of dormancy, until the screams of horror awakened him. The hospital consisted of one room packed with a never-ending supply of bodies. The screams of pain echoed in his ears. He longed once more for his precious home and the comfort of his wife's loving arms. After months in the hospital, the doctors told him it was time for him to return home. Joel set out on his journey from Virginia to North Carolina on March 1, 1865. It was now April 12 and he was only a half-mile away from home, but something hindered him from traveling any further down the road.

Joel wondered how Sarah had managed without him these past four years; how the love of his life had handled being all alone for so long. Had she been able to care for their three children, to keep food in their mouths and to comfort them when the entire world seemed so frightening and unforgiving? When she tucked them into bed each night could she faithfully assure them that Daddy was okay and would be home soon? He had so often longed to see all their faces and to feel each loving embrace. The many letters Sarah had written were not enough to console him. She appeared so optimistic and happy but somehow he could see every word written in pain and distress.

Of course he had attempted to hide some of the horrid truth from her innocent eyes as well. He could not bear to repeat to her the many events that constantly haunted his dreams. She could not even begin to imagine the terror he felt each morning as he awoke, wondering where he would be at the end of the day. He thought of how many comrades and friends he had lost through the years; how many had fallen beside him in the thick of battle. He recalled how many sorrowful letters he had sent to wives, sweethearts, and mothers. He remembered how he had prayed every night that no one would be forced to write these letters to his dear Sarah. He thanked his heavenly Father that in only a few more moments he would be in her arms, safe and secure once more.

Yet, the thoughts of all those poor men who had fought and died upon the field of battle raced back to his mind. Those men would never again feel their wives' soft kisses, feel their mothers' warm embraces, or the hands of their children folded into theirs. Joel remembered all the shots he had fired from his musket. He wondered where they had landed. Whose pride and joy had he stricken from the earth? Strangely, he somehow respected those men - the very ones he was once so enthusiastic about killing. In some way, they had oddly fought for the same causes: country, family, home, and honor. All were causes that were slowly coming to a completion one way or another. A cause he felt was so worthy to fight and die for was slowly ending in defeat. Things had not looked good for the Confederacy when he had departed from the army. Ever since Gettysburg, things had not seemed the same. He could not bring himself to think of those days: the rocks, the roundtops, the charge, the wall, the thousands of lives that had been lost.

The more he reminisced, the more his sorrow grew. He knew if he continued these thoughts, his mind would never be at peace again. He decided to return to his original purpose and begin the next half-mile journey home. He struggled slowly to his feet and brushed the soil from his pants. He found the road again and began to travel what seemed such a long path home. The closer he came to his little wooden house, the more he began to notice the changes in his surroundings. He noticed the other houses along the road. They no longer seemed as glamorous, as lively, or as busy as usual. They looked dormant and darkened. The once green cultivated fields looked more like toppled soil than vegetation and food. The outbuildings around each home were in shambles: some burned, others torn to ruins. There were no animals in sight and the few women and children he saw tending the desolate fields and playing with beaten toys, looked at him as a stranger.

He made a slight turn and started down the path that led home. The trees no longer bowed so elegantly. The wild flowers had disappeared from the roadside. The brook's rush seemed more rapid, more foreboding. The melodies of the birds were no longer so pleasing to the ear, singing a message of distress and pain. Joel walked on, glancing to his left and right at the barren fields. He noticed the chipping paint on what was left of the smokehouse and the barn.

The outbuildings around his home were no different from the others he had viewed previously. If anything, they appeared in worse condition - half burned; half demolished. He peaked into the barn. There were no horses and no cows. The chicken coup was empty and the pigs no longer resided in their sty. He dreaded what lay just a few more feet down the road. Only a miracle could have saved his home and family from this same defeat.

Suddenly, Joel saw two little children in the distance. They looked at him and dashed away. Joel picked up his pace and hurried after them as fast as his legs would allow. He could now see his house. It was not burned or in ruins, yet it was not the bright, joyful, beautiful abode he recalled. The children rushed into the small house calling for their mother. Joel wondered how surprised she would be when she saw him. He longed to see her face and wrap his children in his arms. It seemed like an eternity before he reached the steps and she walked out with the children clinging to her arms. "Momma - Who is he?" he heard the oldest asking as they started out the door. The children stared up at him with confusion in their eyes. The boy was wearing ragged pants and a dirty shirt - one that Joel remembered him wearing four years ago. The little girl was wearing a simple dress with no fancy petticoats and she had no little curls in her hair. His wife stood between them with questions filling her eyes.

At first glance he appeared a stranger to her, but as she examined his face, his eyes, his mouth, and his cheeks, her mouth dropped open in disbelief. She abandoned the hands of her children and ran into the arms of her husband. She kissed him hurriedly and gently. She brushed her hands across his face and tried to imprint the image of his appearance at this moment deeply into her memory. Joel stared at her intently, noticing every difference in her innocent complexion - How the years and distress had wrinkled her skin and darkened her eyes. He saw the gray streaks throughout her once shiny and lustrous hair. He could see the pain in her eyes. He wondered what she had gone through while he was absent. He loved her so dearly and regretted any agony he had put her through. He knew she had worried about him. He knew she had been forced to take on the responsibilities of a mother and a father; a housewife and a farmer.

He desired to acquire every minute he had spent away from her; to restore her sweet spirit that had been hardened by the hell of war. However, he counted himself among the blessed of God as he heard Sarah tell of the friends and neighbors who had lost all: sons, husbands, fathers, and homes. She told of families torn apart by the war - brothers fighting brothers, fathers fighting sons - and all for what? Thousands upon thousands of men were now dead, their causes now to live only in the soldiers' memory. Joel had witnessed so many horrors on the field, while Sarah and the women at home had fought the war on the home front. As Joel heard Sarah tell of General Lee's surrender on that very day, he remembered his youthful, hotheaded dreams of victory and the mortifying results of those dreams felt by so many from the North and South. Joel realized that the war would never really end. It would wage on in his memory eternally - each scene to drag on endlessly and forever haunt his dreams.

About the Author:

Biography - Eighteen-year-old Shannon Thomas is a resident of Sanford, North Carolina. Her father was Chairman of the Longstreet Memorial Fund, an organization responsible for erecting a monument to General James Longstreet at Gettysburg National Military Park. Shannon participated in the Memorial Fund project for seven years. She also organized her local Order of Confederate Rose Chapter and served as its president for the past five years. Shannon has a great love for history, especially that of the Civil War, and attempts to write on a more personal note about the people of the war. She hopes that through her writing, others will somehow realize the dedication, valor, and strength of these often forgotten men. As a result of this deep love of history, Shannon plans to attend the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in the Fall of 1999 to begin her major in history.


Honorable Mention . . .

"Sojourner Truth"
by Kate Flick

Sojourner Truth was born a slave child in 1797 (they think), in New York. She grew up with a strong will, quick wit, and with a very strong religious background. She was never educated, and never learned to read or write, but still, was one of the most inspirational, and most determined speakers; fighting to end slavery and give women equal rights.

As I said before, she was born into slavery in Upstate New York. Her name then, however, was Isabelle Baumfree. Her owner, Colonel Hardenbergh, spoke both English and Dutch, but only taught his slaves Dutch. This didn't really matter until Isabelle was nine, when she was bought for a few sheep and 100 dollars by John Nealy. She didn't speak any English so she was cruelly treated and beaten. Her father rescued her though, by convincing Martin Schriver to buy his daughter.

When Isabelle was thirteen (and learned to speak English), she went to yet another home. She was six feet tall by then, and was favored by her owner John Duemont.

He said, "She's better than a man because she can do as much work as half a dozen others in the fields, and still do laundry at night."

She stayed a slave of Duemont throughout the rest of her childhood, and some of her adulthood, during which she was married to Thomas, another slave, and had many children.

Belle had her first taste of law when she filed a lawsuit against Duemont when he sold her son, Thomas, to an Alabama planter. You see, it was illegal for New Yorkers to sell slaves out of state. With some Quaker's help and a lawyer named Demain, Belle finally won after many months of trial, waiting, and law.

In 1827, Belle was released from slavery because New York banned it for good.

Then, after many years of working in, near, and around churches (Belle was deeply religious), one day, when she was praying she thought God told her to "Go East." At age 46, she left New York, and did as she was "told." She wanted to leave everything behind, including her name. She chose Sojourner because she remembered a verse from the Bible. When she was asked her last name, she thought, "My only master is God, and his name is Truth." From then on she called herself Sojourner Truth.

After that "encounter" with God, she began preaching for women's rights and the end of slavery. Being Black, and a woman, she was not always taken seriously, and suffered some rude comments from the crowds. She, however, with her quick wit, always had a comment to throw back in the jeerer's face.

She quickly became known as the powerful and great speaker she was. One of her most famous speeches was when she spoke for women's rights.

She proclaimed, "Dat man ober there say dat womin need to be helped over carriages, and lifted ober ditches, and to have the best place everwhere. Nobody eber helps me into carriages, or ober mud puddles, or bigs me any best place. And ain't I a woman? Look at me, looka at me arm. I have ploughed and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! I can eat as much as any mand, and bare the lash as well, and ain't I a woman?"

The crowd erupted into cheers, encouraging Truth more. She continued speaking throughout the free states, and even wrote an autobiography. She even had another encounter with the law when she sued a carriage conductor for dislocating her shoulder and discriminating against her. Again she won.

In 1863, Sojourner had a stroke. Many thought she was dead. She was not, but her health continued to plummet. She got ulcers, fever stones, and other such diseases. She continued traveling and speaking though, and this is what did her in, in the end. On November 26, 1883, at age 86, she died, of old age, health problems, and the high stress pace she kept. The country (at least the North) mourned for her.

A newspaper stated, "This country has lost one of its most remarkable personages."

Sojourner Truth was a great person, accomplishing things that few people have ever tried; things like overcoming discriminations, dining with presidents, speaking to Congress, influencing hoards of people, etc., etc. She is, as the newspaper said, a truly remarkable person.

About the Author:

Biography - Kate Flick, a resident of Rosholt, Wisconsin, was 13 when she wrote this article as an assignment for her eighth-grade language class. Flick enjoys horses and riding them. She participates in cross-country, basketball, and track.





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Updated January 2006