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  • Civil War Stories, Tales & Events

    There are so many tales, stories and events that happened in the Civil War- I doubt anybody could ever know even half of them- most of them probably never survived the war- they were lost in time.

    Joe Hooker giving us the term 'hookers' easily comes to mind as a tale, as I'm sure all here have favorites.

    One of my favorites stories has to be that of John Pemberton. The late Shelby Foote included part of it in one of his books and it revolves are the capture of Pemberton at Vicksburg.

    I will never forget when Shelby told me that each time he saw a can of coke- he thought of John Pemberton. I was honestly in disbelief- I didn't get it- at the time (years ago) I didn't know that another Pemberton (No relation) (also named John) had invented Coca Cola when he was searching for a cure from his addiction to morphine.

    But that is only the 'beginning of the story' as Shelby use to say when relating something from the Civil War.

    John Pemberton was born in Philly and served in the United States Army for over 23 years. He was heavily influenced by his southern wife (Martha) and for a variety of reasons- he joined up with the Confederacy. Many who knew him from assignments in Kansas, Minnesota and DC were shocked, others who knew his wife Martha weren't.

    I'll skip way ahead to Pemberton surrendering. Grant wrote in his memoirs of how many of his staff wanted to hang Pemberton as being one of the greatest of all the traitors, Grant bushed off the idea quickly relating that;

    'It was no surprise to me that Col. Curtain (45th PA), Col. Dawson (100th PA) and Col. Brenholtz (50th PA) all wanted to hang Pemberton.....I had to actually explain that although I wasn't against the idea per say....it wasn't possible for many reasons.'

    Grant does relate that he told Curtain and McPherson that he had given Pemberton 'A fate far worse than death'. As Shelby related, Grant made it a condition of Pemberton's parole that he report in person to Joseph Johnston (Knowing full well now how Pemberton felt about Johnston).

    Pemberton would follow out is parole instructions- he would find Johnston- approach him- Johnston saw him coming- stood up and placed his hand out to shake that of Pemberton as he greeted him. Pemberton didn't respond- he saluted- reported himself for duty and walked away. They never would see each other again.

    Before he died Pemberton also wrote at length about what happened at Champion Hills (Or Baker's Creek) and how he felt at the time that Grant seemed to know exactly what Johnston was telling him to do. Being without almost any cavalry (which had been sent by Johnston to Tennessee), Pemberton was in many regards 'blind'. In December of 1873, Pemberton decided to write President Grant- Grant (who wouldn't talk with Pemberton directly) had his secretary Levi Luckey write to Pemberton a very short response on Jan 31, 1874..........he basically said that Pemberton's surmises were correct- dispatches were brought into the Union lines and given to McPherson.

    I return to Pemberton walking away from Johnston- from that moment on Pemberton might as well have been a leper in the Confederacy. All those that supported Johnston hated him, all those that thought he pissed away the campaign as he was a 'yankee' hated him. Even Bragg said he was 'useless to me'. Only Jefferson Davis wanted Pemberton around.

    Can you imagine how low it must be to have Braxton Bragg- a man who was at that moment meeting with his President (Davis went to see Bragg and Longstreet after Chickamauga- he brought Pemberton with him), who was at war with almost all his senior commanders in the AOT- a man hated and detested by his troops- EVEN HE- Braxton Bragg STILL wouldn't let Davis force Pemberton on him.

    Grant was right- once Pemberton surrendered his life in the Confederacy would be 'hell'. He would resign as a general officer in May of 1864 and Davis would be able to later 'hide him' as a Lt. Col in the artillery. With defeat quickly approaching he made Pemberton 'Inspector General of Artillery'.

    The story doesn't end here- far from it, but I will wrap it up. Pemberton dies long after the war- his will asked that he be buried in Laurel Hill (Philly) Cemetery and he was vindictive of how historians in the south treated him. Well the Meade family was outraged- George was buried (Section L) there and they wanted 'The Traitor' no place near him, then relatives of Thomas McKean (One of the Declaration of Independence signers) said that they didn't want Pemberton within site of McKean.

    They buried Pemberton far out of the way in section 9- his tombstone doesn't even mention his military service. A black ground level plate was added over 100 years later stating that he was a 'Lt General-General Staff- Confederate States Army'. Due to vandalism (Traitor was constantly written on it and at some point somebody took a sledgehammer to the original marker) the original headstone had to be replaced, hence the 'new' one was minus all mention of his military connections.
    Last edited by Bladerunnernyc; 21 May 10, 12:20. Reason: Added 'as a tale' and Pemberton writing Grant

  • #2
    Originally posted by Bladerunnernyc View Post
    There are so many tales, stories and events that happened in the Civil War- I doubt anybody could ever know even half of them- most of them probably never survived the war- they were lost in time.

    Joe Hooker giving us the term 'hookers' easily comes to mind, as I'm sure all here have favorites.
    I hate to rain on your parade, but this isn't true. At best you can say that Joe Hooker popularized the name, but it certainly didn't originate from him. From http://podictionary.com/?p=628
    I was being interviewed recently and talking about a certain eponym that had morphed after it was first coined. You of course know that an eponym is a word that started out as someoneís name. Anyway, the interviewer wondered about how the name later changed in the hurly-burly of English use and he said:

    ďWell, we still have the word hooker. I mean we donít go ĎAh what was his name again, General Prostitute?í ď

    Ha ha ha I laughted, but in fact I didnít actually know what he was talking about.

    It turns out that there is a folk etymology floating around out there that there was this guy, General Joseph Hooker was the origin for the word hooker that we now give to prostitutes. How this association could come about is explained, by those who tell the tale, as being because Joe Hooker was not a very strict military leader and allowed his troops to spend plenty of time in the company of paid ladies of the night. This story is persistent enough that not only did my interviewer seem to know it, and believe it, but the American Heritage Dictionary and Brewerís Dictionary of Phrase and Fable both feel compelled to say that it isnít true.

    The word hooker certainly predates old Joe Hooker. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the first citation in the year when William Shakespeare was three years old, thatís 1567. This first citation didnít mean a ďprostituteĒ though, it was a thief who used a hook to snag his loot. The first citation for hooker as a prostitute came quite a bit later in 1845.

    The OED certainly doesnít associate the man with the ill-reputed women either, so the cumulative evidence presented by the authoritative sources makes me think General Joe Hooker wasnít the source.

    The argument is that the chronology is wrong, so letís examine that. In 1845 Joe Hooker was 31 years old and had been serving in the army for 11 years. Thatís old enough to fraternize with prostitutes and long enough to build a bad reputation isnít it? But from what I can tell his womanizing days didnít get into gear until the US war with Mexico and that only got into gear the year after the first citation. Furthermore his role at the outset of that conflict was as a military staff member and he didnít raise to the rank of General until much later, in the Civil war. So the etymology of hooker the prostitute rests on the criminality of prostitution, not on the bad reputation of Joe Hooker.

    But thereís no question that Joe had a bad reputation. By all accounts he was a tall and handsome guy with no shortage of bravado. He proved himself to be a good military organizer but Ulysses Grant thought he was a dangerous leader because he was such a lone wolf and was willing to sacrifice his troops for greater personal glory.

    Although the etymology of hooker as prostitute isnít based on Joe Hooker, itís pretty likely that the reason hooker is such a widely recognized synonym is because so many people believed the General Hooker connection.
    They have also refuted this notion in print several times in the major Civil War publications. It is a great story & one that you WANT to be true. I do think he certainly made it popular.

    EDIT: Here is another site that backs this up: http://www.mycivilwar.com/leaders/hooker_joseph.htm
    Despite Hooker's reputation as a hard-drinking ladies' man, there is no basis for the popular legend that the slang term for prostitutes came from his last name due to parties and a lack of military discipline at his headquarters. The term "hooker" was used in print as early as 1845, many years before Hooker was a public figure.
    Last edited by hellboy30; 21 May 10, 06:11.
    The muffled drums sad roll has beat the soldier's last tatoo. No more on life's parade shall meet that brave and fallen few.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by hellboy30 View Post
      I hate to rain on your parade, but this isn't true. At best you can say that Joe Hooker popularized the name, but it certainly didn't originate from him. From http://podictionary.com/?p=628 They have also refuted this notion in print several times in the major Civil War publications. It is a great story & one that you WANT to be true. I do think he certainly made it popular.

      EDIT: Here is another site that backs this up: http://www.mycivilwar.com/leaders/hooker_joseph.htm
      You are 100 % right, but I mentioned the Hooker story as a 'tale' (a story passed-down within a particular population) I didn't intend for it to come across as being serious. I did say 'Sories and Tales'. I will go back and clarify that it was a 'tale'.

      Hooker's Brigade, Hooker's Girl, Hooker's Army- they were all real, and without a doubt Joe sure made 'hooker' popular in the Harper's Weekly cartoons, but the term wasn't of course based on him.
      Last edited by Bladerunnernyc; 21 May 10, 10:34. Reason: Hit 'edit' by mistake

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Bladerunnernyc View Post
        You are 100 % right, but I mentioned the Hooker story as a 'tale' (a story passed-down within a particular population) I didn't intend for it to come across as being serious. I did say 'Sories and Tales'. I will go back and clarify that it was a 'tale'.

        Hooker's Brigade, Hooker's Girl, Hooker's Army- they were all real, and without a doubt Joe sure made 'hooker' popular in the Harper's Weekly cartoons, but the term wasn't of course based on him.
        You are correct.....you did say "stories". It still makes for an interesting read.
        The muffled drums sad roll has beat the soldier's last tatoo. No more on life's parade shall meet that brave and fallen few.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by hellboy30 View Post
          You are correct.....you did say "stories". It still makes for an interesting read.
          Thks Hellboy- I greatly enjoyed 'Golden Army' btw- I went back into my notes this morning as I had done this last night and I added the part about Pemberton writing to Grant long after the war. It was actually a LONG letter - and Grant's response was very brief- and through his secretary btw as he refused to acknowledge Pemberton.

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          • #6
            really enjoyed both of the tales, but the hooker "story" is still one of my favorites simply because I believe most people think that it came from Hooker. I don't have any facts to back that up but is an observation I have made over the years.
            Is she crying? There's no crying in baseball.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by midaeu View Post
              really enjoyed both of the tales, but the hooker "story" is still one of my favorites simply because I believe most people think that it came from Hooker. I don't have any facts to back that up but is an observation I have made over the years.


              The Pemberton story even made the front page of the Philly papers way back in that day- a bad thing for him as it reminded everybody he was a traitor and then- wants to be buried in his native state.

              As for Hooker- that tale is one of those cases of 'The truth is stranger than fiction'....the term hooker didn't originate with him per say- but he sure as hell became it's GREATEST PR REP!!!!!!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by midaeu View Post
                really enjoyed both of the tales, but the hooker "story" is still one of my favorites simply because I believe most people think that it came from Hooker. I don't have any facts to back that up but is an observation I have made over the years.
                BTW- Welcome to the boards Mid!

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                • #9
                  Possibly my favorite tale of the war, from a local perspective, is one regarding Mosby.

                  As the tale is told around these parts, a few Union soldiers were tailing Mosby's wife, thinking she would eventually lead them to him. They noticed one day that she went into a barber shop and thought that was a little odd. When going in to inspect all they found was the barber and a gentleman who had his face lathered in cream in preparation for a shave.

                  One of the Union soldiers kicked the boot of the fellow in the chair and asked if he had seen Mosby. The gentleman shook his head no. After a moment's hesitation the Union soldiers left and up popped Mosby from the barber's chair and exited out the back way.

                  I've also heard the legend that the reason Mosby settled down in Warrenton after the war was because he had buried treasure that he was still looking for.

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