POST-WAR CDV OF GENERAL LEONIDAS POLK BY BRADY

$250.00

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Item Code: 1138-449

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Image is of Polk dressed in the vestments of an Episcopal bishop.

Contrast and clarity are very good. Mount has been trimmed to the paper’s edge. Paper is good.

Reverse has a photographer’s imprint for BRADY… NEW YORK. Top edge has a period ink ID that reads “DR. POLK” with the ID repeated in modern pencil underneath. Bottom has collector information in pencil.

From the collection of the late William A. Turner.

Leonidas Polk was born April 10, 1806 near Raleigh, North Carolina, and was raised by extremely wealthy parents.  The family owned more than 100,000 acres of land.  He excelled at the University of North Carolina and went on to West Point.  Shortly after graduation he resigned his military commission to focus on religious life.

By 1838, Polk was a prominent Episcopal Bishop living in Maury County, Tennessee.  In 1860, he began construction of the University of the South in the mountains of Sewanee, Tennessee.  When the Civil War came, his friendship with West Point classmate Jefferson Davis won him a commission as a major general in the Confederate States Army.  He had no military experience beyond his time at West Point, where he ranked 8th in a class of 38.

Much authority was granted to Major General “Fighting Bishop” Polk, but his military qualities were lacking.  Upon taking command, he ordered an expedition into Columbus, Kentucky.  Since Kentucky was officially neutral, Polk’s 1861 incursion prompted the state to call for Northern aid.  A potentially invaluable strategic asset was largely lost to the Confederacy.

In 1862, Polk commanded troops at the Battles of Shiloh, Perryville, and Stones River.  Bad blood developed between Polk and his superior officer, Braxton Bragg, due to Polk’s refusal to follow orders during the Perryville Campaign.  A close friendship with Jefferson Davis sustained Polk’s military status throughout the war.  He was also loved by his men, due in large part to his geniality, commanding presence, and lax attitude towards discipline.

The 1863 Battle of Chickamauga ended in Confederate victory, but Braxton Bragg again accused Polk of disregarding and critically delaying orders while in command of roughly half of the army.  In response, Jefferson Davis transferred Polk to take charge of a military department encompassing most of Mississippi from December 1863-May 1864.

Polk came back to the Army of Tennessee just before Union General William Sherman launched his campaign towards Atlanta on May 4.  This move prompted the fierce “Hundred Days Battles” between Chattanooga and Atlanta.

On June 14, 1864, in the midst of the titanic conflict, Polk and a group of fellow officers rode to the top of Pine Mountain in order to better examine the Union positions in the valley below.  Riding along the blue lines, General Sherman spotted the officers through a spyglass.  He ordered cannons to fire on the group.  The first shot scattered the Confederates and the second tore through Polk’s body.  He was killed and brought back through the army lines on a litter. He was buried in Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans, Louisiana.  [ad] [ph:L]

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