Sunday, January 6, 2008

Brig. Gen. Albert Pike: Forgotten General of the Civil War

He is the only Confederate general who is honored with a statue in Washington D.C. The current location of this statue is in Judicial Square. He was a soldier, a writer, a Freemason and an attorney. Currently, he is mentioned in the film National Treasure 2: The Book of Secrets but who was Brigadier General Albert Pike? Todays blog will discuss another Forgotten General of the Civil War: General Albert Pike.

Albert Pike was born in Boston on December 29, 1809 and his parents would soon add five more siblings to the Pike household. He was a quick study and he would attend Harvard and eventually learn to speak in 16 languages. Being the type of person who desired to pave his own path, Pike moved west in 1831 and found a home in St. Louis. Eventually he made his way to Arkansas and and wrote for Arkansas Advocate newspaper in Little Rock. By 1835, after wisely marrying into a wealthy family he purchased the Arkansas Advocate and he even found time to write a guidebook for lawyers.

Pike was a regular braniac but that didn't stop him from an intense desire to serve his country. When the Mexican War started he quickly became an officer in the cavalry. After serving in the Battle of Buena Vista he and his commanding officer John Sloan had a difference of opinion. A duel was planned but their seconds convinced them to make up and move on with their respective lives.

After the war, Pike practiced law in New Orleans and he quickly became one of the cities more important citizens. As a leading advocate of slavery he became popular among slaveowners. He was against secession but when the Confederacy was formed he fave the new country his support. Pike was important because he had a good relationship with Native Americans and had negotiated several treaties between the tribes and the United States. After joining the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis put him in command of Indian Territory. Pike raised several rebel regiments from the tribes and led them during the Battle of Pea Ridge. The unit performed well until they were virtually destroyed in a Union counterattack.

After the battle, Pike's men were accused of scalping their Federal opponents. Major General Thomas Hindman accused Pike of disobedience and mishandling of supplies. Pike resigned and avoided any trial to prove or disprove Hindman's accusations. By November 11, 1861 Pike returned to Arkansas. After the war, he continued his work as a lawyer and argued several cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since 1859 Pike was deeply involved with the Freemasons and he even served his local chapters commander. He remained in the order until his death and wrote an influential book that is still used by historians who research the Masons. Pike was later linked to the Ku Klux Klan and was said to be a Satanist, who indulged in the occult, and he apparently possessed a bracelet which he used to summon Lucifer, with whom he had constant communication. It is said that he predicted that Three World Wars would occur! He was a bit werid but some of his personal beliefs can be deeply respected. For example he once wrote "Everyone is free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound. It is only required of him that he shall weigh what is taught, and give it a fair hearing and unprejudiced judgment."

Pike might have been the most inflenutial Freemason in American history. Moreover, he wrote seven major book and over a hundred poems. He continued to write until his death on April 2, 1891. In 2007 Pike resurfaced as minor character in National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. In the film his fictional decedent, played by Ed Harris attempts to find the City of Gold.

More photos of Pike are here:

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