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West Point (Georgia, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.27
ust out of colonial leading strings. She had barely begun to diverge from habits which under previous conditions she would only too gladly have strengthened and perpetuated. When Leonidas Polk, after completing an honorable course of study at West Point, decided to enter the ministry of the Protestant Episcopal Church, he gave his father a shock of surprise such as he could have given him in no other way. Dr. Polk gives a deeply interesting narrative of the incidents which attended his father's conversion. It came about through the influence of a new chaplain at West Point, McIlvaine, later the eloquent bishop of Ohio. The professors and cadets who had idled their way as best they could through sermon-time in other days listened with open-eyed interest to a preacher who had a message, and who knew how to delivor it. Polk—tall, handsome, a soldier by heredity not less than by education—was the first to yield. When he knelt for the first time in chapel to take a courageous part i
Louisiana (Louisiana, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.27
lth soon broke down in the ministry. An interval of foreign travel was followed by years in which Polk was as much a farmer as a clergyman. Then came the appointment as missionary bishop of the Southwest, and later the care of the diocese of Louisiana. These not only satisfied his religious aspirations, but met the physical necessity for a life in the open air. His field of labor was almost boundless, and his travels were incessant. But his diocesan tasks are of interest here mainly because at the outset they included territory which was not a part of the United States. Churchmen, and doubtless others, will remember the position assumed by Bishop Polk at the time of Louisiana's secession respecting the relations of his diocese to the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States. He held that the constitution of the Church limited it to the boundaries of the nation. If by any accident the nation lost control of any region, the churchmen of that region became independent of
Missouri (Missouri, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.27
the creator of what was styled the Army of Mississippi. One must suppose when he named the men in succession under whom he wished to serve, or in whose favor he wished to retire from military service, that his alternative was his own supremacy in the department assigned to him. He wanted Albert Sydney Johnston, and Davis sent him Beauregard. He urged the merits of Joseph E. Johnston, and was saddled with Bragg. Beauregard came upon him as a sort of calamity after the battle of Belmont, Missouri, and after he had industriously fortified Columbus, Kentucky. It is easy to read in Polk's letter, as given in these volumes, that his chagrin was deep when Columbus was evacuated. But this was only the beginning of his troubles as a division commander. An effort was made to hold him responsible for the result of the battle of Shiloh. His biographer is convinced that the entire Union army could have been captured at the end of the first day's fighting. He points out that the battle s
Columbus, Ky. (Kentucky, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.27
One must suppose when he named the men in succession under whom he wished to serve, or in whose favor he wished to retire from military service, that his alternative was his own supremacy in the department assigned to him. He wanted Albert Sydney Johnston, and Davis sent him Beauregard. He urged the merits of Joseph E. Johnston, and was saddled with Bragg. Beauregard came upon him as a sort of calamity after the battle of Belmont, Missouri, and after he had industriously fortified Columbus, Kentucky. It is easy to read in Polk's letter, as given in these volumes, that his chagrin was deep when Columbus was evacuated. But this was only the beginning of his troubles as a division commander. An effort was made to hold him responsible for the result of the battle of Shiloh. His biographer is convinced that the entire Union army could have been captured at the end of the first day's fighting. He points out that the battle should have been fought a day earlier than it was in any
Kenesaw (Nebraska, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.27
orious as to make the triumph—which had cost the loss of one man out of every three—utterly useless. The elder Polk himself described Bragg's conduct as weak, and added an epigram—he had a taste for neat phrases—to the effect that there were times when weakness was wickedness. Subsequently, his wish for the appointment of Joseph E. Johnston as commander was gratified. But the possibility of retrieving past errors or misfortunes had gone by, and in the last scene of all, when Polk fell on Kenesaw, the manner of his death was such as he might have deliberately sought. Consciously or unconsciously he seems to have challenged the fate that came to him. General Polk, writes his son, walked to the crest of the hill and, entirely exposed, turned himself around, as if to take a farewell view. Folding his arms across his breast, he stood intently gazing on the scene below. While he thus stood a cannon shot crashed through his breast, and, opening a wide door, let free that indomitable s
United States (United States) (search for this): chapter 1.27
sical necessity for a life in the open air. His field of labor was almost boundless, and his travels were incessant. But his diocesan tasks are of interest here mainly because at the outset they included territory which was not a part of the United States. Churchmen, and doubtless others, will remember the position assumed by Bishop Polk at the time of Louisiana's secession respecting the relations of his diocese to the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States. He held that the constUnited States. He held that the constitution of the Church limited it to the boundaries of the nation. If by any accident the nation lost control of any region, the churchmen of that region became independent of the Church as a national body. In the light of such a declaration, one recalls with glee the fact that Polk's first jurisdiction as a bishop included the Republic of Texas. In his episcopal visits he went into a foreign country perhaps, annually; yet it probably never occurred to him that he passed on these occasions be
Frankfort (Kentucky, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.27
naccustomed to marching. Later came the campaign which culminated with the battle of Perryville. All through this campaign, he maintains, Bragg handled his army in accordance with his mental impressions as to what Buell, the Federal commander, ought to be doing; and not in the light of information constantly pressed upon him from the front. The result was that Polk, as his biographer estimates, had to fight 58,000 men with 16,000, while Bragg gathered 36,000 men in the direction of Frankfort, Kentucky, to oppose a mere detachment of Buell's army, amounting to 12,000 men. After the battle of Chickamauga, Dr. Polk insists that it took Bragg so long to learn that his army was victorious as to make the triumph—which had cost the loss of one man out of every three—utterly useless. The elder Polk himself described Bragg's conduct as weak, and added an epigram—he had a taste for neat phrases—to the effect that there were times when weakness was wickedness. Subsequently, his wish for th
Sewanee (Tennessee, United States) (search for this): chapter 1.27
e of many Southern men of intelligence. The mere supposition that Buchanan could change the purposes which were forming in the minds of the people was perhaps not the least fatuous element in the letter. Enthusiastic as the bishop was in the cause of secession, his thoughts were turned to active participation in the conflict by an incident from which he and his family alone were sufferers. When war became a certainty he removed his wife and children from New Orleans to a house at Sewanee, Tennessee, on the lands where he had hoped to raise his proposed university, and they were barely settled before the house was burned over their heads. He never doubted, says his biographer, that the outrage was prompted by political animosity. From that day forward he considered the war against the South not so much as an international war of aggression and conquest, but rather as a war of spoliation, incendiarism, outrage, and assassination, which every man who recognized the first law of na
Jefferson Davis (search for this): chapter 1.27
hful beginning was not followed by hasty acts. The bishop deliberated long before taking up the sword; and when he did take it up he did so with the express determination of laying it down as soon as possible. His letters of resignation to Jefferson Davis were frequent, especially in the early part of the war. They were not accepted, but they had the effect which indecisive conduct on the part of a military leader always has. They raised a feeling of distrust. If this was not exemplified in se when he named the men in succession under whom he wished to serve, or in whose favor he wished to retire from military service, that his alternative was his own supremacy in the department assigned to him. He wanted Albert Sydney Johnston, and Davis sent him Beauregard. He urged the merits of Joseph E. Johnston, and was saddled with Bragg. Beauregard came upon him as a sort of calamity after the battle of Belmont, Missouri, and after he had industriously fortified Columbus, Kentucky. It
tion of the American slave States on a level with that of the mediaeval chivalric period, he should nevertheless not be allowed to overlook the fact that the bishop who became a general had earlier turned from military life to become a priest. Thus, if he resembled the bishops of feudal times in his old age, he was in youth as complete a symbol of modern tendencies as the Pope whose name has been cited. In fact, he was more—for the physical reasons which affected the choice of a career for Pius would in Polk's case have prevented him from taking orders. His life as a rector was interrupted by ill-health, and everything went to show that his physical well-being required activity out of doors. In putting aside the ambitions of a soldier he not only did violence to his own preferences, but to a family tradition which was exceptionally strong, both his father and grandfather having served with distinction in the war of independence. The present generation of Americans can perhaps har
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