We survivors sometimes forget the human cost of our failed War of Southern Independence. The casualty rate for Confederate officers was about 25%. For Union officers it was 10 percent, easily replaced by incoming foreigners.
The loss of talented men—future outstanding leaders, writers, scientists, artists, scholars, builders, clergy, entrepreneurs— was very near catastrophic for the future of the South. The only good news was that there were young men who had survived and been trained in leadership and educated in constructive knowledge by the war.
One of the losses was Maxcy Gregg, mortally wounded at the age of 48 commanding a Confederate brigade at Fredericksburg. A lifelong resident of Columbia, South Carolina, Gregg was a talented amateur scientist. He tied for first in his class at South Carolina College. He was the grandson of Jonathan Maxcy, the highly regarded president of the College, and a child of Revolutionary stock, not only in South Carolina, but the heroic naval Hopkins family of Rhode Island.
Gregg had a first class astronomical observatory in his house and was familiar with all the pioneer ornithological literature of the time. Voting for secession in the State convention, he immediately joined the Southern army.
Shotwell Publishing has issued a new paperback edition of Maxcy Gregg’s Sporting Journals, 1842-1858, edited by Suzanne P. Johnson. For more than 20 years Gregg kept a full record of his hunting activities, chiefly all over South Carolina (Upcountry and Low Country), but also in the North Carolina mountains and in Mexico when he was serving as a volunteer captain in the war there.
His handwritten journals have long rested unknown in the South Caroliniana Library until meticulously transcribed for publication by Suzanne Johnson.
As emphasized in the Introduction by Prof. James E. Kibler, the journals provide a rich documentation of more than hunting. We get pictures of the society of the time, people of all classes including the household slaves. We get insights into weather, topography, the writer’s relationship to fellow South Carolinians, other sportsmen and to horses, dogs, and firearms. (Gregg was never able to become as good a shot as he wanted.)
As a hunter he was also a deliberately occupied scientist, recording much information about many different birds. Unfortunately, most of the time identifying and studying the birds required shooting them first. It was the standard of the times. The great naturalist Audubon killed hundreds of the birds he described and painted. It did not endanger the species.
This work provides an original and interesting view of the antebellum South. There has long been in Columbia a Maxcy Gregg Park. As far as I know the jihadist cultural cleansers have not noticed this. Don’t tell them.