Where Did the Ex-Confederate Leaders Go After the Confederacy Was Defeated by the Union?

Conrad Wise Chapman, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Conrad Wise Chapman, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Jay Bazzinotti:

Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, spent two years shackled to a wall in a Virginia prison. He had many unlikely sympathetic supporters including the Pope, who advocated for mercy, and even some former enemies and abolitionists. After he was released he went to Canada and Cuba and England and eventually managed a successful insurance company, hiring only former Confederate officers. He remained an unrepentant racist and Confederate supporter until the end of his life.

Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy, was arrested and held in prison at George’s Island in Boston until October, 1865. He was released from indemnity by Andrew Johnson, a pro-slavery, anti-Black President. He was elected to the Senate, which refused to allow him to sit; was elected to Congress; and became the governor of Georgia. Stephens was a rabid anti-Black racist who wrote the “Cornerstone Speech” stating the the Civil War was all about slavery and that Blacks would never be the equals of Whites.

Robert E. Lee, former General, was not arrested but joined the pro-Confederate Democrats and worked to prevent Blacks from getting the right to vote. He lost all his property and money and the right to vote. He was seen as an iconic, sacrificial Christ-like figure in the South and often had to speak against resuming the war by any means possible as many of his supporters wanted. He was used as a vehicle of reconciliation. Later, he was the very successful head of Washington College, which he built up greatly.

James Longstreet, former General and one of the best strategists of the war, became a largely mediocre businessman with little success. He was friends with Grant, who helped him and supported the Union/Republican cause, which made him a pariah in the South [as he was] seen as a traitor. In 1874 a major election battle broke out between about 10,000 white supremacists and former Confederate soldiers and about 3500 Federals, including Black troops. It was called “The Battle of Liberty Place” and was a resounding “Confederate” victory. Federal troops had to be sent in to restore order. Longstreet was shot and captured by the White faction and treated poorly until his release. He became a turkey farmer and called his farm “Gettysburg.” It was destroyed, along with his uniforms and writings and memorabilia, in a fire. He died after years of poor health, hated by the South but outliving almost all of his detractors, in 1904.

J.E.B. Stuart, cavalry general, was mortally wounded near the end of the war in the Battle of the Yellow Tavern, shot in the back.

George Pickett, a general associated with Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, fled the country for fear of prosecution for war crimes. He went to Canada for two years until he was pardoned. He was in ill health for the remainder of his life and died in 1875, about 10 years after the war. He was always bitter about what happened at Gettysburg and never stopped blaming Lee for the destruction of his men. Over 40,000 people showed up for his funeral but his body was buried in a secret location and the massive monument built over an empty grave.

John Bell Hood was a brilliant and reckless general who arrived late to the battle of Gettysburg and was immediately wounded by an artillery shell. He was relieved by an incompetent who frittered away the South’s last best chance to win the battle or at least fight to a draw. After the war he was immediately exonerated of any crime and for a while was a successful businessman. However, about 12 years later, an economic crisis caused his business to succumb and six days later he caught yellow fever and died.

Joe Johnston was a senior, controversial general who was critical of the Confederate leadership and saw people against him everywhere. After surrendering to Sherman, the two became friends. Johnston became a marginally successful businessman with many interests in railroads and insurance. He served one term as a Democratic congressman. He caught a cold at the funeral of William Sherman and died soon after.

P.G. T. Beauregard, a capable general who often stopped Grant, became a marginally successful businessman after the war. He was frequently critical of Jefferson Davis and believed the war could have been won. Although he was virulently anti-Black, he worked hard to establish Black civil rights, telling southern leaders that they had to find a way to make it work for the good of the country

Simon Buckner, the third-ranking general in the Confederacy, was a shrewd businessman who ran a newspaper after the war. He was able to amass a large fortune and recover all of his lost property in Kentucky and reestablish himself as a leader in the community. He went into politics. He died in 1914, one of the last surviving generals of the Civil War.

Robert Ewell, wounded and captured near the war’s end, spent a year at the Fort Warren POW camp on George’s Island with 17 other generals. He became a proponent of the Union and spent the rest of his life as a modest farmer, dying quietly in 1891.

Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former slave trader, fell on hard times after the war. He ran many businesses—was corrupt and ruined them—and was not well-liked. He started, or helped to start, the KKK, and was virulently anti-Black. He made a surprising turnaround and became an advocate of civil rights and Black education, earning the enmity of the KKK and other anti-Black causes. He died of diabetes in 1877.

There are dozens of Confederate generals, some we know and most we never think of. After the war many were aided by friends and found jobs in the burgeoning railroad or insurance industries.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?

Elsa, Getty Images
Elsa, Getty Images

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team was founded in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions will host the Chicago Bears.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?

The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Washington Redskins on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?

In 2006, because six-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the New Orleans Saints will welcome the Atlanta Falcons.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

What’s That Thing That Hangs Off a Turkey’s Face?

iStock.com/JZHunt
iStock.com/JZHunt

That thing is called a snood. And it's there to let the other turkeys know that its owner is kind of a big deal.

When a male turkey—known as a tom—wants to mate, he faces two hurdles. One is his potential mates, the female turkeys (a.k.a. hens). In the realm of turkey mating, the hens wield the power of choice and the toms have to get their attention and win the opportunity to reproduce. Come mating season, a tom will strut around, gobble, puff out his chest, fan his tail, and drag his wings to attract the hens, who then pick which of the toms they’ll mate with.

The second problem for a tom looking for love is the other toms in the area. They’re all competing for the same limited number of hens. Sometimes a good mating display isn’t enough to win a mate, and toms will attack and fight each other to secure a hen. 

This is where the snood comes in. That goofy-looking piece of dangling flesh helps a tom both with choosy hens and with competition from rival males. Having a long snood almost always means that a hen will want to mate with him and that another tom will back down from a fight.

DUDES AND THEIR SNOODS

When two toms are trying to establish dominance, they’ll size each other up. Then they'll either fight, or one will flee.

In the late 1990s, Richard Buchholz, an animal behaviorist who focuses on turkeys, wanted to figure out which, if any, characteristics of a tom turkey could predict how they fare in dominance fights. That is, did bigger turkeys tend to win more scuffles? Did older ones? He also wanted to see if the turkeys used any of these predictive cues when sizing each other up. He looked at various characteristics of dominant toms that fight and win, and compared them to those of subordinate toms that lose fights or run from them. Of all the characteristics he looked at, only “relaxed snood length” seemed to be a reliable predictor of how a tom would do in bird-vs-bird combat. The dominant males, the ones who won fights and got a choice mate, had longer snoods.

With that in mind, Buchholz looked at how toms reacted to other toms with snoods of varying sizes. The birds tended to avoid confrontation with other males with longer snoods, and wouldn’t even feed near them. A big snood, this suggests, says to the other turkeys that this is a tom you don’t want to tangle with. Buchholz noted that snood length correlates with age, body mass, and testosterone, so, to competitors, the snood could be a good indicator of a tom’s aggressiveness, age/experience, size, and overall condition and fighting ability.

IN THE SNOOD FOR LOVE

Once the males have established who’s going to have a chance to mate, the final choice goes to the hen. While the mating display is the main draw for getting a hen to check him out, a tom’s snood helps him out again here.

Like it did for the other males, a tom’s snood signals a lot of information to a female assessing potential mates—it indicates how old and how big he is, and even says something about his health. In another study, Buchholz found that longer-snooded toms carried fewer parasites. If a hen wanted to choose a mate with good genes that might help her offspring grow large, live long, and avoid parasites, a tom’s snood is a good advertisement for his genes. In that study, hens showed a clear preference for toms with longer snoods. In another experiment years later, Buchholz found that healthy hens again showed a strong preference for long snoods and that hens with their own parasite problems were less picky about snood length and checked out more potential mates—perhaps, Buchholz thinks, because the hens recognized their own susceptibility to infection and were willing to invest more time searching for a tom with genes for parasite resistance that would complement their own—but still showed some preference for longer ones.

While a snood might look goofy to us, for a turkey, it’s integral to the mating game, signaling to other toms that they should get out of his way and letting hens know that he’s got what they’re looking for.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

An earlier version of this article ran in 2013.

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