Bill KirbyOnline news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Kirby: Native son Wheeler had life of distinction

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He was distinguished by courage without rashness, by wisdom without pride.

– The Rev. Ernest Stires

I spoke about the achievements of native Augustan Joe Wheeler at last weekend’s Confederate Memorial Day observance at Westview Cemetery.

Wheeler, for whom Wheeler Road is named, remains popular around our town. For example, when he died, The Chronicle gave him credit for running off the Yankees at the Battle of Aiken and keeping Augusta free of the “fire fiends” who had torched Atlanta and Columbia.

Joseph Wheeler was heroic in battle, magnanimous in defeat, and everyone not named Nathan Bedford Forrest seemed to like him. But there are things you don’t know about this diminutive warrior until you look.

For instance, Wheeler was born in Augusta, but was raised mostly in Connecticut. Then he went to West Point (on a Georgia appointment).

After the Civil War, he lived in Alabama, where he became a congressman. Still, he always referred to himself as a Georgian.

Although Robert E. Lee called him one of the greatest cavalrymen he’d ever seen, Wheeler’s lowest West Point grades were in cavalry tactics. (Maybe it was spring semester.)

And there did seem to be a subtle effort over the past century to portray him as one of the South’s hard-charging cavalry commanders, though Wheeler, himself, down-played such efforts.

His forte seems to have been effective use of cavalry to screen an army’s movements and cover its retreats, something less glamorous but no less important.

I have some additional remarks and background on Gen. Joe Wheeler in one of my Kirby’s Augusta videos. It’s on YouTube and

VIDEO TIME: Speaking of video, this week’s Kirby’s Augusta video deals with golf legend Gene Sarazen and the mysterious woman he found in his room before his famous “Double Eagle” Masters victory in 1935.

WORDS: Business and work made simple – the seven most important words in the English language are: I made a mistake. I am

The six most important words are: You did a very good job.

The five most important words are: And what is your opinion?

The four most important words are: How can I help?

The three most important words are: I appreciate you.

The two most important words are: Thank you.

The most important word is: I.

TODAY’S JOKE: In certain parts of the Orient, a marriage is arranged by the parents and a man doesn’t know his wife until after the marriage.

The arrangements in the United States are entirely different, although the results are often the same.

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Mr. Thackeray
Mr. Thackeray 04/29/14 - 07:54 am
LOL, fair and balanced is

LOL, fair and balanced is always a plus for historians. How about mentioning that there is documentary evidence that during Sherman's march locals would rather see the Union Army approaching than Wheeler's boys who took everything they could lay their hands on?

southern2 04/29/14 - 10:54 am
Mr. Thackeray...please

Mr. Thackeray...please reference the documented source for your claim as I find it difficult to believe.

Glad to see that the Confederate Memorial Day observance continues in Augusta. Wish that it was publicized more as I would have liked to have attended. Probably hard to get it mentioned by area media.

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