J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the category “Confederate”

Researchers Discover Confederate Shipwreck

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An area off the North Carolina coast known for its War Between the States shipwrecks may be adding another to the collection after the discovery of what is believed to be a Confederate blockade runner near Oak Island.

Archaeologists using sonar imaging discovered the 226-foot-long remains of a shipwreck on Feb. 27 in an area where historical documents indicate three runners used during the blockade of the port of Wilmington are located, said Billy Ray Morris, North Carolina’s deputy state archaeologist who manages underwater operations. Morris and a team of divers will return this Wednesday to the site, about 30 miles downstream near Fort Caswell to confirm their finding.

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“Nobody’s found a new Civil War wreck in decades,” Morris said Monday. “With a high-energy maritime environment like you have off the coast of North Carolina, ships are broken apart. This one is relatively intact. You can see that it looks like a ship.”

Three blockade runners are known to have been lost in the area: the Agnes E. Fry, Spunkie and Georgianna McCaw. “By the time I’ve crawled across it with a team of archaeologists and a couple of graduate students … I’m confident I’ll know which wreck it is,” Morris said. He said he hopes to tackle the project on Wednesday. He added that he is not 100 percent certain that the shipwreck is one of the blockade runners.

Wrecks of 27 blockade runners, Confederate ironclads and Union ships used in the blockade have been found in the area that includes the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean around islands such as Oak Island, according to Morris. “It’s the single best assemblage of Civil War shipwrecks anywhere in the world,” he said.
Blockade runners were the cigarette boats of their era, moving fast with an unarmed captain and crew using their talents to avoid the Union ships and get their goods to land.

Military supplies would be put on trains to Weldon in northern North Carolina, and then on to Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The civilian supplies were sold dockside. They were items that the Confederacy couldn’t make and which appealed to the wealthy, Morris said, such as wine and liquor, fancy fabric, books and shoes.

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The Union blockade of the port of Wilmington began in 1861 and ended in January 1865, when the Union troops closed the port and overtook Fort Fisher.

The Underwater Branch of the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology and the Institute of International Maritime Research discovered the shipwreck with the help of a multiyear grant called the American Battlefield Protection Program, Morris said. The grant, funded through the National Park Service, is ending this year, he said.
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On the Bright Side…

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I know I’ve been posting a lot lately about anti-Confederate sentiment, or Confederate cleansing as I like to call it. However, there are a few bright spots here and there around the country where people are getting tired of all the political correctness and have chosen to keep the Confederate battle flag and other symbols. After receiving criticism, the police department in Gettysburg, South Dakota, chose to keep its symbol, which pictures the American flag and the Confederate battle flag together. The small town was founded by Civil War veterans who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg, and that is how the design originated.

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In Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the Sons of Confederate Veterans will sponsor a Confederate Flag Day to honor Southern history. The gathering will be held at the Farnsworth House Inn off Baltimore Street on March 5, from 2-4 p.m.

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“We as the sons revere the history of our families of the South and of America, and with that we wish to keep our history alive and our heritage along with that,” said Gary Casteel of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Critics of the flag, including Greater Harrisburg NAACP president Stanley Lawson, say our history of slavery is nothing to celebrate. “The Confederate flag does not unite the country, it divides the country,” Lawson said. “I think this time in our history we need to be together.”

“The Confederate flag may have done some nasty things, so did the American Flag, so why don’t we take them both down? Why don’t we destroy both of them and turn our backs on them?” Casteel said. “It’s simple. We are Americans. We have the right to choose to like or dislike. The right way is to accept and move and learn by it.”

Dishonoring the Honorable

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It seems every day of the year has been designated for something. Today is Play Tennis Day, Banana Bread Day, Curling is Cool Day, and International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day. But now, a day that has been designated as Confederate Memorial Day, which has been celebrated in the South for centuries, is under attack. Georgia State Senator Vincent Fort has authored a bill that aims to erase all Confederate holidays. Senator Fort is all for impeding the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, and now he is attacking a day that has been set aside to honor Confederate veterans.

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Lest I remind Senator Fort that Confederate vets are American vets. Eradicating a memorial day in their honor is nothing less that disrespectful and despicable. State Senate Bill 294 in the Georgia State Legislature should be opposed at all costs. The Bill reads:

To amend Chapter 4 of Title 1 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to holidays and observances, so as to revise the public and legal holidays recognized by the State of Georgia; to prohibit the recognition of public and legal holidays honoring, recognizing, observing, or celebrating the Confederate States of America, its history, or the military or political leaders thereof of the Civil War; to repeal the observing of Confederate History and Heritage Month.

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It amazes me that an observance like Confederate Memorial Day should be under attack, when other ridiculous days are okay. Do we really need to honor banana bread and dog biscuits? Really? I think it is our responsibility as U.S. citizens to not allow such attacks on sacred entities like our veterans, and when they occur, to do something about it. My father was a veteran (Marine), and I would be livid if someone wanted to do away with a plaque, monument, or holiday that was set aside to celebrate him. Senator Fort should be ashamed of himself.

http://gascv.org/bill-introduced-to-erase-confederate-memorial-day/

Georgia Under Fire

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Not surprisingly to me, all things Confederate have fallen under attack. This was prompted by the shootings at a black church last year by a racist lunatic who posed in a picture with the Confederate battle flag. It seems this was all it took to spark a wildfire of attacks on Southern heritage and history, using the excuse of racism as a cloak to destroy these treasures and force a hateful message of cultural cleansing on everyone. In Georgia, the following has been targeted:

The Chattooga County Commissioner has the flag display removed from the Confederate Monument on the County Courthouse grounds.

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The Georgia Department of Revenue pulls the Georgia Division, SCV specialty tags for all tag offices and halts the sale of the tags.
NAACP attempts to have the Bullock County Confederate Monument removed from the Courthouse grounds.
NAACP attempts to have the Jasper County Confederate Monument removed from the Courthouse grounds in Monticello.
NAACP and past City of Macon mayor calls for the removal of the Bibb County Confederate Monument in Macon to be removed.
Governor Nathan Deal has Robert E. Lee and Confederate Memorial Day removed from the State Calendar.

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The NAACP and the SCLC call for the removal of the Confederate Memorial carvings from Stone Mountain.
Liberal Activist in Rabun County attempts to remove the flag display from the Confederate Monument in Clayton, Georgia.
Representative DaLawn Jones of district 62, files House Bill 760 that would change Stone Mountain from being a memorial to the Confederacy and give the authority to state agencies to define and change monuments if they deem them inappropriate.
State Senator Vincent Fort of Atlanta files Senate Bill 294 that prohibits the recognition of public and legal holidays honoring, recognizing, observing, or celebrating the Confederate States of America, its history, or the military or political leaders thereof or the Civil War; to repeal the observing of Confederate History and Heritage Month.

All these attacks are nothing less than alarming and disrespectful. Lest I remind these politically correct activists that the items listed above are in honor of American veterans. Regardless of what side of the Civil War they fought for, they were designated as U.S. veterans decades ago. To try and take away the honor they earned and deserve is nothing less than shameful and selfish.

House Bill 50 has been filed in support of “protecting government statues, monuments, plaques, banners, and other commemorative symbols; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.” To read House Bill 50, check out:

http://files.ctctcdn.com/c6653e36501/948f936e-0920-40cb-9484-4458ec40fe3a.pdf

 

 

Kansas’ Connection to the Confederacy

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As in most states, soldiers fought for both sides of the Civil War. This was especially apparent in the border states of Kansas, Missouri, Maryland, and Kentucky, as well as the Indian territories of New Mexico and Oklahoma. It seems unfathomable that these states are now debating the relevance of the Confederacy. For Kansas, one particular Confederate soldier stands out.

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General Richard Montgomery Gano was a devout Christian who served as a pastor, congressman, medical doctor, and brigadier general for the Confederate Army. Kirby Smith, the commander of the Army of Trans-Mississippi, said that Gano was “the most brilliant and effective” general in the Western Theatre. After the war ended, Gano planted churches in Kansas and Texas. He also preached throughout the U.S. and baptized nearly 5,000 converts.

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General Gano’s grandson was Howard Hughes, the eccentric business tycoon, investor, aviator, filmmaker and philanthropist. It’s no surprise that Gano’s former ranch and home became the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport. Ironically, the Forth Worth Stock Show and Rodeo is inappropriately banning the display of the Confederate battle flag. Is it because Texas doesn’t know it’s history? Or merely because certain activities planners are trying to jump on the politically correct bandwagon? If more of these states would take pride and understand their Confederate heritage, this controversy wouldn’t exist.

 

And the Hits Keep Coming

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I know I keep ranting about all the recent actions made against everything related to the Confederacy, but I just can’t believe this keeps happening! Georgia’s Stone Mountain is being targeted, in that the NAACP wants to sand blast the images of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson off the face of the mountain. It seems to me that this is destroying an historic treasure, which was created by Gutzon Borglum, the same man who created Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota.

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Nothing is sacred, as the politically correct are now targeting Confederate Memorial Day. I find this nothing less than repulsive. For those of you who don’t know, the first Memorial Day was observed in the South after the Civil War. Several Southern women began the tradition by placing flowers on the graves of their fallen, beloved soldiers. Eventually, Confederate Memorial Day moved to April.

Senator Vincent Fort of Atlanta, Georgia, recently filed State Senate Bill 294 in the Georgia State Legislature:

A Bill to be Entitled an Act

To amend Chapter 4 of Title 1 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to holidays and observances, so as to revise the public and legal holidays recognized by the State of Georgia; to prohibit the recognition of public and legal holidays honoring, recognizing, observing, or celebrating the Confederate States of America, its history, or the military or political leaders thereof or the Civil War; to repeal the observing of Confederate History and Heritage Month.

Unbelievable! Obviously, he is not taking into account  how this offends the descendants of thousands of Confederate soldiers, including blacks, whites, Native Americans, Latinos, and various other nationalities who fought and died to protect their homeland (not slavery).

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The Sons of Confederate Veterans are asking for support to fight this bogus legislation. For more information, check out:

http://gascv.org/bill-introduced-to-erase-confederate-memorial-day/

 

A Sad Day in NOLA

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A federal judge ruled last week that four monuments related to the Confederacy will be removed in New Orleans. The mayor, Mitch Landrieu, said he was “pleased” with the ruling. No time frame was given as to when the monuments would be removed, but Landrieu said they would be stored in a city-owned facility until they find a permanent home: most likely a privately-owned park. The monuments targeted are of Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis, and Liberty Place. The mayor refused to send the monuments to Beauvoir, the post-Civil War home of Jefferson Davis, in Biloxi, Mississippi.

US District Judge Carl Barbier denied to issue an injunction that would have prevented the mayor from removing the monuments. After the New Orleans City Council vote, with only one council member voting to keep the monuments in place, the city received a federal lawsuit from several preservationist groups: the Monumental Task Committee (MTC), Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana and Beauregard Camp No. 130. These four groups all cited that because the MTC has kept up the monument spaces for decades with no charge to taxpayers, they should have a say in the monuments’ fate.

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Landrieu has been the biggest instigator in removing the monuments after receiving funds from an anonymous donor. Last year, he worked to insure that the monuments would be removed no matter what, and the reason given was because, all of a sudden, they have become a “public nuisance.”

Walter Isaacson, Wynton Marsalis, Flozell Daniels and Carol Bebelle have all be vocal about their support for removing monuments in the city and have all been appointed to serve on the Tricentennial Commission.

Now that this has happened, I have to wonder how much longer other landmarks in NOLA will be safe. How long before they destroy General Beauregard’s home? Or the house where Jefferson Davis died? Or the Confederate Museum? I suppose they’ll re-name them all, along with Confederacy-related street names, just to avoid offending someone. What about the scores of people offended by their actions? Doesn’t that count for anything? You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but trying to eradicate history is nothing less than shameful.

http://thehayride.com/2016/01/breaking-lee-circle-and-other-new-orleans-monuments-will-officially-be-removed-federal-judge-rules/

(Special thanks to Jim Huffman.)

The Great General Lee

 

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One of my favorite people who lived during the Civil War is Confederate General Robert E. Lee. If Lee were alive, he would be celebrating his 209th birthday today. He came from a distinguished Virginia family, and his father, Harry “Lighthorse” Lee, fought in the Revolutionary War. Lee graduated at the head of his class at West Point, and served gallantly in the Mexican War. His integrity was unsurpassed, because he resigned his commission with the U.S. military to defend his home state of Virginia once the Civil War broke out. With reluctance, he did his duty, and performed it well up until the end of the war.

General Lee was deeply religious. He was a gentleman and a nobleman. He freed his slaves before the war started, unlike Union General Ulysses S. Grant, who freed his slaves after the war ended. Lee served as president of Washington and Lee University, but the war took its toll, like it did on so many soldiers. He only survived five years after the war ended.

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Lee was revered  by his countrymen, both North and South alike, as one of the finest generals America has ever produced. Dwight D. Eisenhower, America’s 34th president, said of him:

“General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause….he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle.

Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his belief in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.

From deep conviction I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s caliber would be unconquerable in spirit and soul.”

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When Franklin D. Roosevelt, America’s 32nd president, spoke at the unveiling of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Statue in Dallas, Texas, on June 12, 1936, he said: “I am happy to take part in this unveiling of the statue of Lee. All over the United States we recognize him as a great general. But also, all over the United States, I believe we recognize him as something much more than that. We recognize Robert E. Lee as one of our greatest American Christians and one of our Greatest American gentlemen.”

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General Lee has always been highly regarded… that is, until recently. Now, certain interest groups have been striving to disparage his name. It is shameful that they want to remove the Confederate battle flag that he fought under from his gravesite, or do away with his statues. It is also shameful that they are defacing monuments with graffiti. Just because political attitudes have changed, which they are always bound to do, is no excuse for erasing the past and defaming such an important historical figure.

“Everyone should do all in his power to collect and disseminate the truth, in the hope that it may find a place in history and descend to posterity. History is not the relation of campaigns and battles and generals or other individuals, but that which shows the principles for which the South contended and which justified her struggle for those principles.”                                                                   – General Robert E. Lee

General Lee appears in my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Beckoning-Hellfire-Novel-Civil-War/dp/0595435319/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453239012&sr=8-1&keywords=a+beckoning+hellfire

 

Court Battle Over Confederate Monuments

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Take Em Down NOLA (TEDN), a multiracial coalition working to remove Confederate statues in New Orleans, teamed up with several lawyers and filed an amicus brief last Monday, January 11.The brief, filed in federal court, is in retaliation to a lawsuit filed by an opposing group that includes the Monumental Task Committee, Louisiana Landmarks Society, Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Inc., Beauregard Camp No. 30, Inc., and the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The group filed a lawsuit on December 17, 2015, and sued the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Transit Administration, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, the City of New Orleans and Mayor Mitchell Landrieu.

The monuments in question are of Confederates Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard. The Battle of Liberty Place Monument is also up for removal. A federal judge will hear the first argument in the case today.

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The amicus brief supports the authority of the New Orleans City Council to remove statues considered to be public nuisances.”Section 146-611 (b) of the New Orleans Code of Ordinances empowers the City Council to remove statues from public property when those statues are a nuisance. Part One of the ordinance defines a nuisance a “thing honors, praises, or fosters ideologies which are in conflict with the requirements of equal protection for citizens as provided by the constitution and laws of the United States, the state, or the laws of the city and gives honor or praise to those who participated in the killing of public employees of the city or the state or suggests the supremacy of one ethnic, religious, or racial group over any other, or gives honor or praise to any violent actions taken wrongfully against citizens of the city to promote ethnic, religious or racial superiority of any group.”

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H & O Investments of Baton Rouge was hired to take down the monuments, but quit after receiving death threats, and other businesses threatened to cancel their contracts with the company, city attorney Rebecca Dietz told the court today.  “The city has been in negotiations with private landowners” for the creation of a Civil War park in which the monuments would be placed, Dietz said.

Christmas in the Confederate White House

How the Davis Family Spent the Christmas of 1864

By Varina Howell Davis

The wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote this article describing how the Davis family spent the Christmas of 1864 in the Confederate White House. It was published in The New York World, December 13, 1896 and has since been reprinted often. This excerpt was obtained via the website “The American Civil War, 1861-1865.”

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Residence of Jefferson Davis (Library of Congress)

…Rice, flour, molasses and tiny pieces of meat, most of them sent to the President’s wife anonymously to be distributed to the poor, had all be weighed and issued, and the playtime of the family began, but like a clap of thunder out of a clear sky came the information that the orphans at the Episcopalian home had been promised a Christmas tree and the toys, candy and cakes must be provided, as well as one pretty prize for the most orderly girl among the orphans. The kind-hearted confectioner was interviewed by our committee of managers, and he promised a certain amount of his simpler kinds of candy, which he sold easily a dollar and a half a pound, but he drew the line at cornucopias to hold it, or sugared fruits to hang on the tree, and all the other vestiges of Christmas creations which had lain on his hands for years. The ladies dispersed in anxious squads of toy-hunters, and each one turned over the store of her children’s treasures for a contribution to the orphans’ tree, my little ones rushed over the great house looking up their treasure: eyeless dolls, three-legged horses, tops with the upper peg broken off, rubber tops, monkeys with all the squeak gone silent and all the ruck of children’s toys that gather in a nursery closet.

Makeshift Toys for the Orphans

Some small feathered chickens and parrots which nodded their heads in obedience to a weight beneath them were furnished with new tail feathers, lambs minus much of their wool were supplied with a cotton wool substitute, rag dolls were plumped out and recovered with clean cloth, and the young ladies painted their fat faces in bright colors and furnished them with beads for eyes.

But the tug of war was how to get something with which to decorate the orphans’ tree. Our man servant, Robert Brown, was much interested and offered to make the prize toy. He contemplated a “sure enough house, with four rooms.” His part in the domestic service was delegated to another and he gave himself over in silence and solitude to the labors of the architect.

My sister painted mantel shelves, door panels, pictures and frames for the walls, and finished with black grates in which there blazed a roaring fire, which was pronounced marvelously realistic. We all made furniture of twigs and pasteboard, and my mother made pillows, mattresses, sheets and pillow cases for the two little bedrooms.

Christmas Eve a number of young people were invited to come and string apples and popcorn for the trees; a neighbor very deft in domestic arts had tiny candle moulds made and furnished all the candles for the tree. However the puzzle and triumph of all was the construction of a large number of cornucopias. At last someone suggested a conical block of wood, about which the drawing paper could be wound and pasted. In a little book shop a number of small, highly colored pictures cut out and ready to apply were unearthed, and our old confectioner friend, Mr. Piazzi, consented, with a broad smile, to give “all the love verses the young people wanted to roll with the candy.”

A Christmas Eve Party

About twenty young men and girls gathered around small tables in one of the drawing rooms of the mansion and the cornucopias were begun. The men wrapped the squares of candy, first reading the “sentiments” printed upon them, such as “Roses are red, violets blue, sugar’s sweet and so are you,” “If you love me as I love you no knife can cut our love in two.” The fresh young faces, wreathed in smiles, nodded attention to the reading, while with their small deft hands they gined [?] the cornucopias and pasted on the pictures. Where were the silk tops to come from? Trunks of old things were turned out and snippings of silk and even woolen of bright colors were found to close the tops, and some of the young people twisted sewing silk into cords with which to draw the bags up. The beauty of those home-made things astonished us all, for they looked quite “custom-made,” but when the “sure enough house” was revealed to our longing gaze the young people clapped their approbation, while Robert, whose sense of dignity did not permit him to smile, stood the impersonation of successful artist and bowed his thanks for our approval. Then the coveted eggnog was passed around in tiny glass cups and pronounced good. Crisp home-made ginger snaps and snowy lady cake completed the refreshments of Christmas Eve. The children allowed to sit up and be noisy in their way as an indulgence took a sip of eggnog out of my cup, and the eldest boy confided to his father: “Now I just know this is Christmas.” In most of the houses in Richmond these same scenes were enacted, certainly in every one of the homes of the managers of the Episcopalian Orphanage. A bowl of eggnog was sent to the servants, and a part of everything they coveted of the dainties.

At last quiet settled on the household and the older members of the family began to stuff stockings with molasses candy, red apples, an orange, small whips plaited by the family with high-colored crackers, worsted reins knitted at home, paper dolls, teetotums made of large horn bottoms and a match which could spin indefinitely, balls of worsted rags wound hard and covered with old kid gloves, a pair of pretty woolen gloves for each, either cut of cloth and embroidered on the back or knitted by some deft hand out of home-spun wool. For the President there were a pair of chamois-skin riding gauntlets exquisitely embroidered on the back with his monogram in red and white silk, made, as the giver wrote, under the guns of Fortress Monroe late at night for fear of discovery. There was a hemstitched linen handkerchief, with a little sketch in indelible ink in one corner; the children had written him little letters, their grandmother having held their hands, the burthen of which compositions was how they loved their dear father. For one of the inmates of the home, who was greatly loved but whose irritable temper was his prominent failing, there was a pretty cravat, the ends of which were embroidered, as was the fashion of the day. The pattern chosen was simple and on it was pinned a card with the word “amiable” to complete the sentence. One of the [missing] received a present of an illuminated copy of Solomon’s proverbs found in the same old store from which the pictures came. He studied it for some time and announced: “I have changed my opinion of Solomon, he uttered such unnecessary platitudes — now why should he have said ‘The foolishness of a fool is his folly’?”

On Christmas morning the children awoke early and came in to see their toys. They were followed by the negro women, who one after another “caught” us by wishing us a merry Christmas before we could say it to them, which gave them a right to a gift. Of course, there was a present for every one, small though it might be, and one who had been born and brought up at our plantation was vocal in her admiration of a gay handkerchief. As she left the room she ejaculated: “Lord knows mistress knows our insides; she jest got the very thing I wanted.”

Mrs. Davis’s Strange Presents

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Mrs. Varina Howell Davis (Library of Congress)

For me there were six cakes of delicious soap, made from the grease of ham boiled for a family at Farmville, a skein of exquisitely fine gray linen thread spun at home, a pincushion of some plain brown cotton material made by some poor woman and stuffed with wool from her pet sheep, and a little baby hat plaited by the orphans and presented by the industrious little pair who sewed the straw together. They pushed each other silently to speak, and at last mutely offered the hat, and considered the kiss they gave the sleeping little one ample reward for the industry and far above the fruit with which they were laden. Another present was a fine, delicate little baby frock without an inch of lace or embroidery upon it, but the delicate fabric was set with fairy stitches by the dear invalid neighbor who made it, and it was very precious in my eyes. There were also a few of Swinburne’s best songs bound in wall-paper and a chamois needlebook left for me by young Mr. P., now succeeded to his title in England. In it was a Brobdingnagian thimble “for my own finger, you know,” said the handsome, cheerful young fellow. After breakfast, at which all the family, great and small, were present, came the walk to St. Paul’s Church. We did not use our carriage on Christmas or, if possible to avoid it, on Sunday. The saintly Dr. Minnegerode preached a sermon on Christian love, the introit was sung by a beautiful young society woman and the angels might have joyfully listened. Our chef did wonders with the turkey and roast beef, and drove the children quite out of their propriety by a spun sugar hen, life-size, on a nest full of blanc mange eggs. The mince pie and plum pudding made them feel, as one of the gentlemen laughingly remarked, “like their jackets were buttoned,” a strong description of repletion which I have never forgotten. They waited with great impatience and evident dyspeptic symptoms for the crowning amusement of the day, “the children’s tree.” My eldest boy, a chubby little fellow of seven, came to me several times to whisper: “Do you think I ought to give the orphans my I.D. studs?” When told no, he beamed with the delight of an approving conscience. All throughout the afternoon first one little head and then another popped in at the door to ask: “Isn’t it 8 o’clock yet?,” burning with impatience to see the “children’s tree.”

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When at last we reached the basement of St. Paul’s Church the tree burst upon their view like the realization of Aladdin’s subterranean orchard, and they were awed by its grandeur.

The orphans sat mute with astonishment until the opening hymn and prayer and the last amen had been said, and then they at a signal warily and slowly gathered around the tree to receive from a lovely young girl their allotted present. The different gradations from joy to ecstasy which illuminated their faces was “worth two years of peaceful life” to see. The President became so enthusiastic that he undertook to help in the distribution, but worked such wild confusion giving everything asked for into their outstretched hands, that we called a halt, so he contented himself with unwinding one or two tots from a network of strung popcorn in which they had become entangled and taking off all apples he could when unobserved, and presenting them to the smaller children. When at last the house was given to the “honor girl” she moved her lips without emitting a sound, but held it close to her breast and went off in a corner to look and be glad without witnesses.

“When the lights were fled, the garlands dead, and all but we departed” we also went home to find that Gen. Lee had called in our absence, and many other people. Gen. Lee had left word that he had received a barrel of sweet potatoes for us, which had been sent to him by mistake. He did not discover the mistake until he had taken his share (a dishful) and given the rest to the soldiers! We wished it had been much more for them and him.

Officers in a Starvation Dance

The night closed with a “starvation” party, where there were no refreshments, at a neighboring house. The rooms lighted as well as practicable, some one willing to play dance music on the piano and plenty of young men and girls comprised the entertainment. Sam Weller’s soiry [sic, soiree refers to a party or reception held in the evening], consisting of boiled mutton and capers, would have been a royal feast in the Confederacy. The officers, who rode into town with their long cavalry boots pulled well up over their knees, but splashed up their waists, put up their horses and rushed to the places where their dress uniform suits had been left for safekeeping. They very soon emerged, however, in full toggery and entered into the pleasures of their dance with the bright-eyed girls, who many of them were fragile as fairies, but worked like peasants for their home and country. These young people are gray-haired now, but the lessons of self-denial, industry and frugality in which they became past mistresses then, have made of them the most dignified, self-reliant and tender women I have ever known — all honor to them.

So, in the interchange of the courtesies and charities of life, to which we could not add its comforts and pleasures, passed the last Christmas in the Confederate mansion.

(Special Thanks to Civil War Trust for this article.)

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