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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

For they were Mighty Men of Valor: The Confederate legacy on board the Titanic

The anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic has been remembered for many years as a tribute to Godly masculinity. Many people do not know, however, that there were many Confederate veterans and sons of Confederate veterans, who put their chivalrous legacy and training to the ultimate test.
Here are a few of their stories:

Sgt. Henry Wylie
Henry Wylie was born in Tennessee in the early 1800's, into a typical backwoods family. The war began soon after he married and he joined one of the regiments commanded by a little known colonel named Nathan Bedford Forrest. He fought through the whole war, was wounded at Chickamauga, and surrendered with Forrest at Gainsville. After the war, he became a writer for the Saturday Evening Post. His assignment was to cover the maiden voyage of the Titanic. History records that he gallantly loaded lifeboats with women and children as the Titanic sank. He did not survive.

Isidor Straus

Isidor and Ida Straus

Isidor Straus was born in Germany in 1845. His family immigrated to the United States and settled in Georgia. When the war began, he became the Confederate commissioner to Europe, purchasing supplies for the Confederacy. After the war he became very wealthy as a merchant. In 1871, he married Rosalie Ida Blun. On a business trip back from Germany, he and his wife booked passage on board the Titanic. After the iceberg was struck, the elderly gentleman refused a seat in the life boat because there were still women aboard. His wife of 40 years refused to leave him because of their devotion to each other. They both died.

Maj. Archibald Butt

Archibald Butt was born in Georgia the year the war ended. His father, Joshua, had been killed during the war and he was raised by his mother, who made sure he had an excellent education. During the Spanish-American War, he enlisted and eventually was promoted to major. During this time he met Theodore Roosevelt. He would later serve as an ambassador to foreign countries under Roosevelt. He also served in this capacity under William Taft's administration. On his journey back from a six week vacation in Europe he boarded the Titanic. As the Titanic took on more and more water, he continued to assist women and children onto the lifeboats, until the boat sank. When Taft and Roosevelt were told that the Titanic had sank, they instantly knew that Butt had not survived. Because he was always a gentleman, they knew that he would not go to safety unless all the women and children were safe.

Col. Archibald Gracie

Archibald Gracie was six years old when the war ended. His father, Brig. Gen. Archibald Gracie, had been killed during the siege of Petersburg. Archibald's mother always reminded him of his father's legacy, which he never forgot. Because of his father's relatives in New York, he was able to get a good start in life. He eventually became wealthy enough to spend his time researching the battle of Chickamauga, a battle in which his father had distinguished himself. In 1912, he traveled in Europe for some time, researching family history, and gaining a rest from writing his first book, about Chickamauga. As he journeyed home, he decided to travel in style aboard the Titanic. As the ship began to sink, he assisted Officer Lightoller as the boats were loaded. When the Titanic went down, he was sucked under. Miraculously, he made it back up to the top and spent the rest of the night on top of a overturned lifeboat. After being rescued by the Carpathia and giving his testimony in the congressional hearing, he wrote a book about his experiences aboard the Titanic. He died later that year from the effects of being in the freezing water for so long.

Photos courtesy of

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Blogger Editor said...

Excellent blog post, Stephen. It would be even better if you could locate pictures of each of these men online and add them to the paragraphs summarizing their lives.

Good job.

April 16, 2008 at 9:15 PM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...

Thanks for the tip!

April 17, 2008 at 2:13 PM  

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