1861 by Walt Whitman

1861 – Secession Completes and the Bloodshed Begins

The poem 1861 by Walt Whitman.

South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860. In 1861, the Confederate States of America would gain its full roster of states. Here is a list of the seceding states and their dates of secession from the Union:

  • South Carolina – December 20, 1860
  • Mississippi – January 9, 1861
  • Florida – January 10, 1861
  • Alabama – January 11, 1861
  • Georgia – January 19, 1861
  • Louisiana – January 26, 1861
  • Texas – February 1, 1861
  • Virginia – April 17, 1861
  • Arkansas – May 6, 1861
  • North Carolina – May 20, 1861
  • Tennessee – June 8, 1861

The Confederate States of America now exists. The blood of the Civil War starts flowing on April 12, 1861 as the Confederates fire on Fort Sumter. The Civil War begins.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

For me, Whitman’s 1861 poem shows he knew the year of 1861 brought about a sea change. Before then, it was all about attempts at compromise, politicians debating and arguing, rattling of swords, and talk, talk, talk.

Now the year 1861 brings about bloodshed and death with the gathering of men; “clothed in blue” and of “well-gristled body, and sunburnt face and hands,” with “a knife in the belt at your side,” and “bearing weapons.” Whitman says there should be “No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses” for this “terrible year,” of 1861. War and all of its evil, has arrived for North and South.

It is for the reader to analyze and interpret Walt Whitman’s poem titled 1861, as he or she sees fit.

1861 – Walt Whitman

ARM’D year! year of the struggle!
No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you, terrible year!
Not you as some pale poetling, seated at a desk, lisping cadenzas
piano;
But as a strong man, erect, clothed in blue clothes, advancing,
carrying a rifle on your shoulder,
With well-gristled body and sunburnt face and hands–with a knife in
the belt at your side,
As I heard you shouting loud–your sonorous voice ringing across the
continent;
Your masculine voice, O year, as rising amid the great cities,
Amid the men of Manhattan I saw you, as one of the workmen, the
dwellers in Manhattan;
Or with large steps crossing the prairies out of Illinois and
Indiana,
Rapidly crossing the West with springy gait, and descending the
Alleghanies;
Or down from the great lakes, or in Pennsylvania, or on deck along
the Ohio river;
Or southward along the Tennessee or Cumberland rivers, or at
Chattanooga on the mountain top,
Saw I your gait and saw I your sinewy limbs, clothed in blue, bearing
weapons, robust year;
Heard your determin’d voice, launch’d forth again and again;
Year that suddenly sang by the mouths of the round-lipp’d cannon,
I repeat you, hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year.

A commentary about Walt Whitman by EnglishGuyinTexas.

EnglishGuyInTexas

 

Another post with information about Walt Whitman…

Civil War Army Organization and Order of Rank

Here is an explanation of the basic way both the Union and Confederate armies were organized. The units are listed from the largest to the smallest. The descriptions below can be considered the ideal or desired make up of the units. As the Civil War progressed, the size of the various units would change due to loss of men by disease, death, or injury. The force of men an army could bring would be added to, and subtracted from, with the ebb and flow of war.

Army – An army is the largest field force unit of military organization. The Union armies were commanded by a major general and were usually named after rivers (for example, the Army of the Potomac). The Confederate armies were commanded by a general and were usually named after the area from which they were based (for example, the Army of Northern Virginia). The way of naming the armies was not always followed by either the North or the South and exceptions can be found, sometimes or often leading to confusion.

A confusing example of the way armies were named is this example: the Union had the Army of the Tennessee, while the Confederates had the Army of Tennessee. An army was further divided into Corps.

Corps – A corps was commanded by a brigadier general or a major general for the Union, and with the Confederate States of America a corps was commanded by a lieutenant general. Major General George B. McClellan and President Abraham Lincoln organized the first corps in the Union Army in March, 1862. In 1862, the Confederates began organizing their armies using corps in September in the east, and in November in the west.

Prior to arranging corps, the Confederates had sometimes (and informally) used what were called “wings” or “grand divisions” to further group their armies. A corps would be made up of two or more divisions and each corps used a Roman numeral for its designation. The corps were also often referred to using their commander’s name.

Division – A division was the second largest unit making up an army. For the Union, a division was commanded by a brigadier general or a major general. For the Confederacy, a division was commanded by a brigadier general, and sometimes, but it was rare, by a major general. A division would be divided into usually 2 to 6 brigades. The Confederate divisions tended to be larger in manpower than the Union divisions and would be made up of more brigades. Some divisions in Confederate armies were of equal size to one corps from a Union army.

Brigade – A brigade was commanded by a brigadier general or maybe a senior colonel. A brigade was divided into regiments, usually two to six regiments to a brigade. The Confederate brigades were more apt to be made up regiments from the same state, than brigades in the Union armies.

Regiment – A regiment was commanded by a colonel. The regiment was probably the army organization unit that a soldier felt like he most belonged to. A regiment was made up of men from the same area of a state, mainly because they were raised by the various state governments. At least during the early part of the Civil War, a regiment would have men who were friends or neighbors back home, or were relatives. These regiments chose their own officers by electing them. Typically, a regiment was made up of 10 companies, with each company having 100 men. So, if mustering men for service went well, there were 1000 men in each regiment. A battalion was the name used for a regiment that had not mustered a full 10 companies with 100 men in each company.

Company – A company was commanded by a captain. With perfect army organization and strength, a company had 100 men. But because of disease and other causes (such as soldiers being killed in battle!), by 1862 a company might only have 30 to 50 soldiers. Companies were officially designated by letters or numbers, but often a company had an unofficial designation, often a nickname.

Civil War Army Organization

Shown below is a chart to help clarify Civil War army organization somewhat. The soldiers shown in the background are members of the Petersburg, Virginia Detachment of the 3d Indiana Cavalry.

Civil War Army Organization

Order of Rank

Listed from top to bottom are the highest ranks of officers and gentlemen, all the way down to the lowly, but backbone of the army, private.

  • General
  • Lieutenant General
  • Major General
  • Brigadier General
  • Colonel
  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • Major
  • Captain
  • First Lieutenant
  • Second Lieutenant
  • Sergeant
  • Corporal
  • Private

Civil War Army Organization

By Civil War Trust Historian Garry Adelman