J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Baltimore”

Women of the Confederacy (Pt. 1)

In honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to feature several Confederate women who supported the cause. Since I’m starting this series a little late, I will continue the posts throughout next month as well.

Belle Boyd

(Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Belle Boyd

Cleopatra of the Secession

Belle Boyd was only seventeen years old when she began her illustrious career as a Confederate spy. She quickly learned the art of espionage after her hometown of Martinsburg, Virginia became overrun with Yankees.

Born on May 4, 1844, Isabella Maria Boyd was the eldest child of a wealthy family. Her father ran a general store and managed a tobacco plantation. Belle grew up with several brothers and sisters, dominating them all with her tomboyish ways. She attended Mount Washington Female College in Baltimore at age twelve, and after completing her education four years later, enjoyed the life of a fun-loving debutante. Described as having shining blue eyes, thick light brown hair, and a fine figure, she was considered attractive but not beautiful, and made up for it by being overly feminine, flirtatious, and outgoing. A brilliant talker, she dressed colorfully and wore feathers in her hats.

At the onset of the Civil War, Belle’s father enlisted with the Virginia Cavalry, Stonewall Jackson Brigade. It wasn’t long before Belle was confronted with the enemy. On July 2, 1861, Union troops skirmished at nearby Falling Waters, and occupied Martinsburg on July 4. After looting the town, a band of drunken Union soldiers stormed into Belle’s home, tore down the Confederate flag that the Boyd Family proudly flew over their home, and attempted to hoist up the Stars and Stripes. Belle’s mother protested, and was attacked by one of the Yankees. In retaliation, Belle shot him, justifying her actions by stating, “…we ladies are obliged to go armed in order to protect ourselves as best we might from insult and outrage.” Subsequently arrested, she was soon acquitted without reprisal for her action. “

The commanding officer,” she wrote, “inquired into all the circumstances with strict impartiality, and finally said I had ‘done perfectly right.’” Belle’s home was constantly guarded by sentries afterward to keep an eye on her activities.

She soon became a courier for Generals Beauregard and Jackson, carrying information, confiscating weapons, and delivering medical supplies. By early 1862, she had developed a reputation for herself, dubbed in the press as “La Belle Rebelle,” the “Siren of the Shenandoah,”the “Rebel Joan of Arc,” and the “Amazon of Secessia.” Using her feminine qualities to allure unsuspecting Yankees, she befriended the invading soldiers to obtain information for the Confederacy. One evening in midMay, she eavesdropped through a peephole on a Council of War while visiting relatives in Front Royal, whose hotel

was being used as a Union headquarters. With the information she obtained, she rode fifteen miles to deliver the news to General Stonewall Jackson.

On May 23, she ran out onto the battlefield to give General Jackson last minute information. She later wrote that “the Federal pickets … immediately fired upon me…my escape was most providential…rifle-balls flew thick and fast about me … so near my feet as to throw dust in my eyes…numerous bullets whistled by my ears, several actually pierced different parts of my clothing.”

Jackson captured the town and later acknowledged her bravery in a personal note. She was subsequently awarded the Confederate Southern Cross of Honor, and given honorary captain and aide-de-camp positions.

Belle was arrested on July 29, 1862 and incarcerated at Old Capitol Prison in Washington D.C., but was released a month later as part of a prisoner exchange. She was arrested again in July 1863. Not a model inmate, she waved Confederate flags from her window, loudly sang “Dixie,” and sent information to a contact person outside who shot a rubber ball into her cell. She then sewed messages inside and threw it back.

She was released in December, but was arrested again in 1864, and this time was released for health reasons (typhoid fever). On May 8, she was sent to England as a diplomatic courier, but was captured while aboard a blockade runner, The Greyhound. She escaped to Canada with the assistance of Union naval officer Lieutenant Sam Hardinge, who she charmed into convincing him to marry her and switch sides. The two traveled to England, where Belle went to work for the Confederate Secret Service. Hardinge was court-martialed and disgraced for his actions. The two were married on August 24.

Belle stayed in England for the next two years, wrote her memoirs, entitled “Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison,” and achieved success onstage. When her husband died in 1866, she returned to America, where she continued her stage career and lecture tour, billing her show as “The Perils of a Spy,” and touting herself as “Cleopatra of the Secession.”

In 1869, she married John Swainston Hammond, an Englishman who had fought for the Union army, but sixteen years and four children later, divorced him. She married Nathaniel High, Jr. two months later in January 1885. He was an actor seventeen years her junior.

Belle continued the touring circuit. On Sunday, June 10, 1900, while at a speaking engagement with the GAR in Kilbourn (now Wisconsin Dells), Belle died of a heart attack. She was 56 years old and in poverty. Union veterans paid for her funeral. She is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.

“I worked night and day for twelve years to prevent the war, but I could not. The North was mad and blind, would not let us govern ourselves, and so the war came.”

-Jefferson Davis

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LEE MEMORIAL IS NOW TUBMAN GROVE

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I have to admit, I’m not sure how I feel about this. Granted, it’s a noble thing to honor Harriet Tubman, and far overdue. But to take down century-old statues of renowned Confederate generals who, by the way, were dubbed American veterans years ago, rubs me the wrong way. Why not set aside another park to honor Harriet Tubman, instead of taking down beautiful artworks (i.e. statues) that have stood in this place for years? To say it bothers me is putting it lightly.
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More than 200 local residents and politicians gathered in a tree-lined corner of a Baltimore park…to rededicate the space, which had long venerated two Confederate generals, to the famed abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman.
The ceremony in Wyman Park Dell, on the 105th anniversary of Tubman’s death, took place feet from the now-empty pedestal of a large, bronze double-equestrian statue of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and officially renamed the space Harriet Tubman Grove.
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The statue had stood in the park since 1948, but was secretly removed in the dead of the night by the Mayor’s order in August.  Mayor Catherine Pugh’s administration removed four Baltimore monuments, the Lee-Jackson monument, a monument to Chief Justice Roger B. Taney at Mount Vernon Place, the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mount Royal Avenue and the Confederate Women’s Monument on West University Parkway. They Taney monument having nothing to do with the Confederacy, Mayor Pugh just didn’t like his politics.
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This park dedication coming on the heels of good news. At the Federal level, the
The City of Baltimore does not, at this juncture, intend to erect a statue of Harriet Tubman to replace the monuments removed. That, friends and neighbors, would, to quote Barak Obama, “cost some serious Tubmans.”
(Courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, March 16, 2018 ed.)

State of the Union

Tonight was President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address. I was really hoping he would say something about all the destruction happening to Confederate monuments, as well as many other monuments. He did mention monuments of WWII vets, Lincoln, MLK, and others. Perhaps he will afford protection to all our monuments in the future.

Not only are Confederate monuments being attacked, but recently, a monument to our country’s national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, was attacked. It just keeps getting worse.

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A monument commemorating “Star-Spangled Banner” author Francis Scott Key was vandalized in downtown Baltimore, officials said Wednesday. Photographs show the monument, at 1200 N. Eutaw St., covered with red paint and the words “racist anthem” written in black.

Anthony McCarthy, a spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D), said police were investigating and determining the best way to remove the graffiti.

 

Remember that it was Mayor Pugh who secretly removed four Confederate monuments from downtown Baltimore this summer which has invited attacks on the city’s remaining monuments. The City’s statue of Christopher Columbus also being recently vandalized.
DA ENCOURAGES DISCONTENTS TO VANDALIZE MONUMENTS
Felony charges will be dropped against eight protesters accused of dismantling a Confederate statue in North Carolina last summer, Durham District Attorney Roger Echols said Thursday.

The prosecution has decided against pursuing felony charges against the defendants and will drop them in lieu of lesser counts, the district attorney told reporters. “I only plan to try them on the misdemeanors,” Mr. Echols told The Associated Press. He declined to comment further.
The eight defendants appeared before a judge Thursday and scheduled to face trial starting Feb. 19, the report said.

The case in Durham revolves around a monument of an anonymous Confederate soldier that had stood in front of the old county courthouse for nearly a century prior to being topped on August 14. , two days after a demonstration surrounding a different statue in Virginia turn
Prosecutors initially charged 12 people in connection with toppling the monument, but three of the accused were cleared in November, and a fourth entered a deferred prosecution agreement the following month.

Absent felony charges, the eight remaining defendants will only face misdemeanor counts of defacing a public building or monument, conspiracy to deface a public building or monument and injury to real property, Durham’s WRAL reported.
LAWSUIT FILED IN MEMPHIS
The family of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Sons of Confederate Veterans filed a petition Wednesday seeking legal action against the city of Memphis for its role in taking down three Confederate statues last month.

The petition, filed with the Tennessee Historical Commission, accuses the City and nonprofit Memphis Greenspace Inc. of violating “numerous” state laws on Dec. 20, when Greenspace removed the Forrest statue from its pedestal atop his and his wife’s graves in Health Sciences Park, and statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and war correspondent and Capt. J. Harvey Mathes from Fourth Bluff Park.

The petition asks the commission to rule that the city and Greenspace violated the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act, which requires commission approval prior to removal of monuments from public property; laws against misconduct by elected officials; and laws prohibiting the desecration of gravesites.

“You can’t disturb graves,” said Sons’ attorney Doug Jones. “They knew that but conspired to rip it apart despite knowing state law. They ripped the top off the grave. They damaged that, and they can’t deny that.”

The city has maintained that the grave markers inscribed with the names of the Forrests remain at the base of the pedestal and that the statue wasn’t the headstone.

“The city has not been served with the lawsuit but I have reviewed it and remain confident all of our actions with regard to the sale of the parks and statues are legal,” said City Attorney Bruce McMullen.

City attorney Allan Wade didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment, and Mayor Jim Strickland’s communications team said he wasn’t available for an interview.

Separately, the Sons’ Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp 215 filed a lawsuit Thursday in Chancery Court in Davidson County seeking a temporary restraining order and an injunction to prevent the city or the nonprofit from selling or harming the stowed statues.

If granted, the restraining order and injunction would require court approval for any further actions related to the statues; their former homes, Health Sciences and Fourth Bluff parks; or the graves of the Forrests.

The petitioners included Forrest descendants listed in the petition were Walter Law Jr., Sidney Law, Brooks Bradley, Thoms Jesse Bradley III and Kevin Bradly, the “closest living relatives” of Forrest and his wife, Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest.

The Sons also asked that the commission consider bringing official misconduct charges against city officials, who advised and assisted Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner as he created Greenspace and raised funds to buy and maintain the parks.

“They would like for this to be over,” Jones said. “But it’s not close to being over.”

LITIGATION ALSO PENDING IN ALABAMA
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo has scheduled a hearing for April 13 on a state lawsuit challenging the City of Birmingham’s decision to shroud the stone obelisk of a Confederate monument in plywood.
The judge’s decision comes after the state attorney general’s office and the city filed a document agreeing to certain facts about the case. That includes the history of the 113-year-old memorial and its location in a downtown park.

The city built a plywood structure to hide inscriptions on the base of the monument amid national protests over Confederate memorials. The state filed suit claiming the move violates a new state law that bars the removal or alteration of historic monuments.

The Judge has ruled that the plywood structure can remain until the hearing.

(Courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Jan. 19, 2018 ed.)

The War against the Flag Rages On (But You Can Win!)

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Since I posted on my blog last week, numerous developments have occurred in regard to the desecration of the Confederate battle flag. Not only have several big box stores vowed to discontinue sales, but Apple has taken down some of their games as well. Since then, sales of the Confederate battle flag have doubled. TV Land has stopped showing The Dukes of Hazzard, and rumor has it that Facebook will not allow postings of the Confederate battle flag (we’ll see if this gets posted).

NASCAR C.E.O. Brian France said that the flag is an “offensive and divisive symbol.” However, he somewhat changed his stance. Instead of banning the flag from races, he has offered a flag exchange, and is asking that spectators fly the Stars and Stripes instead of the Confederate battle flag this weekend in honor of Independence Day.

Ft. Sumpter has furled its Confederate battle flags, and all Confederate flags are being removed from the entrance to Stone Mountain. Some nut is even circulating a petition to have Stone Mountain blown up.

Baltimore’s mayor and city council have taken up a proposal to remove three Confederate monuments in the city. And Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton wants something even worse. He has announced a proposal to have the bodies of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife exhumed from Forrest Park (recently renamed Health Sciences Park by Wharton and the city council), and moved to Elmwood Cemetery. He would also like for the statue of General Forrest to be removed from the park. There is no word as to where the city would move it, or if they plan on moving the body of General Forrest’s grandson, who is also buried at the park. Absurdity reigns.

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The Ku Klux Klan has stated that they will march in South Carolina later this month to protest the removal of the Confederate battle flag. In my opinion, this is derogatory to the cause. Because of them and their racist views, the Confederate battle flag has been associated with them. However, most of us know this is not the case.

It’s bad representation like this that gives fuel to the fire of anti-Confederate nonsense. In a recent poll taken by USA TODAY/Suffolk University, the country is split on whether or not to do away with the flag. According to the poll, 42% believe it represents Southern history and heritage, while 42% believe the flag is racist and should be removed. More than half of whites who were polled believe the assault in South Carolina was an isolated incident committed by one lone gunman, and one-third say “it reflects a larger problem of racism in America.” However, among African Americans, three out of four say the battle flag reflects racism.

I would say that hypersensitivity is part of the problem. Why is it that three-fourths of blacks view the flag as racist? I’m sure part of the reason is because of the way the flag, and white Southerners in general, are portrayed by the media. Here in Sioux Falls, a local television station broadcast this story:

“A Sioux Falls couple feuding with their neighbors is flying the Confederate flag, hoping to offend people they don’t like who live close by. What would you think if this was your neighbor?”

Really? I find the wording to be offensive and misleading. We don’t know what their feud is about, or if there even is a feud. Is that really why they are flying the flag, or are they just proud to be from the South? Who knows, but in this case, it’s bad reporting. The cartoon below, which recently appeared in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, is also very offensive. Associating the Confederate battle flag with ISIS is horrendous, to say the least.

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So what happens now? Will the flag continue to vanish, whether we like it or not? Why don’t we get a say in the matter? Why haven’t these issues been put to a vote? And what will this lead to? Will all books with the flag on the cover, historical or otherwise, be banned? Will all movies be banned as well? Gone with the Wind is already under scrutiny, and you can forget about ever seeing The Birth of a Nation on TNT again.

A Beautiful Glittering Lie Cover Art   9780595908561

In honor of the Confederate battle flag and those who fought under it, I am running a contest throughout the month of July. Please send an email to jdrhawkins@gmail.com stating what the flag means to you, and you will be entered to win both of the first two books in the Renegade Series – A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Beckoning Hellfire. It’s my intention to show the Confederate flag in a positive light and educate people about the Southern cause, so please help spread the word.

Confederate Flag Under Fire

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Once again, the Confederate Battle Flag is under attack. This time, the controversy surrounds the tragedy that occurred last week in Charleston, South Carolina, when a mentally deranged 21-year-old opened fire on a Bible study group. Apparently, this individual posted rantings online about white supremacy. He also posed with the Confederate battle flag, which is unfortunate, to say the least. As expected, the governor of South Carolina will have the flag removed from the Capitol grounds. The flag flew full-mast following the shootings, unlike the other flags on the Capitol grounds, which sparked the controversy. Why it wasn’t taken to half-mast like the others is unclear.

I have serious questions about this issue. Why did Dylann Roof’s parents allow him access to that weapon when they knew he had mental issues?  Why is the Confederate flag to blame? Roof spent too much time on the internet. Are they going to abolish computers next? Or are race-baiting politicians going to blame the NRA, the place where he bought the gun, or retail stores in general? Of course not. They’re going to attack the Confederate battle flag. Walmart just announced that it will be removing all merchandise with the flag from their stores. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. They want only to destroy and censor history, and this is becoming more blatant with school’s history curriculums. What one person deems as offensive symbolism could be misinterpreted in a number of ways. Will the cross be the next target? Or the Star of David? How many other symbols will people find offensive and want to do away with, for the sake of political correctness? If this is the beginning, then where will it end?

People need to be held accountable for their actions, instead of laying blame on inanimate objects. It’s funny how the Confederate battle flag wasn’t an issue in Ferguson or Baltimore. Racism is the issue, not the Confederate battle flag.

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said, “We don’t want to single out the state [South Carolina] as being uniquely bad. But, we do want to single out the state for being a candidate for a major set of reforms in terms of addressing bias and bigotry.”

By eradicating the Confederate battle flag? Really?

“The time has come to remove this symbol of hate and division from our state capitol,” said Reverend Nelson Rivers of Charleston.

He has stated the problem in a nutshell by being unwilling to see the flag as anything other than a “symbol of hate and division.” Rev. Rivers, like so many others, needs to expand on his compassion and understanding. There will always be lunatics in the world, but to target the flag as the problem is misdirected.

“The Confederate battle flag years and years ago was appropriated as a symbol of hate,” said Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley. “It is a piece of history and it belongs in a history museum.”

Once every bit of history becomes obsolete or deemed politically incorrect because of changing times, does that mean it will all end up in a museum? Or worse yet, packed away from the world, so that ignorance reigns?

According to John Oliver of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, the Confederate flag “helps us identify the worst people in the world.” They should “put it in a box and label it ‘bad flag’.”

Begging your pardon, Mr. Oliver, but not everyone who flies the flag goes around committing mass murder, or even spouts racial bigotry, for that matter. What does one thing have to do with the other? Or is the flag just a scapegoat?

There are too many people in this country who love the flag, and not for racist reasons. But radicals and liberals can’t seem to understand this. Sadly, the Confederate battle flag was used by hate groups in the past, and that stigma still holds true to some extent, although the American flag has the same associations. The Confederate battle flag was based on St. Andrews Cross with Scottish origins, and during the Civil War, it represented states’ rights. Over the years, hate groups caused it to evolve into a racial statement, but this desperately needs to change. It is an insult to those who see the flag as an element of their Southern heritage, and they are the people who are being punished. Haters will still be haters. The truth is, getting rid of the flag won’t get rid of the problem. People need to be reeducated about racism and the flag as being two separate entities, not one conjoined statement of hatred. If everything Confederate is erased, it still won’t solve the problem, and it only offends those who cherish their heritage and ancestry.

As Mr. Oliver stated when he was discussing another subject, revenge porn, “It’s up to us and how to fundamentally change the internet.” Don’t you think this holds true to our perceptions of the Confederate battle flag as well? It’s about time we change our perception of the flag as a symbol of hatred. In fact, it’s long overdue.

(A statue memorializing the Confederacy in Charleston was vandalized with graffiti a few days after the shootings. It’s supposed to say “Black Lives Matter.”)

Black Lives Mater

Hot Air Balloons Are For Spying

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On June 17, 1861, Thaddeus Lowe demonstrated the hot air balloon to President Abraham Lincoln. His plan was to use it as a reconnaissance tool to spy on the Confederate army. He came up with the plan when, in April, his balloon accidentally landed in South Carolina on a flight from Cincinnati, Ohio.

On June 5, 1783, the first documented hot air balloon flight took place. It was conducted by the Montgolfier brothers from Annonay, France. Three months later, on September 19, 1783, the first hot air balloon to fly with passengers took place in Versailles. Those brave souls rode in a basket suspended beneath the balloon. A year later, on June 24, 1784, a thirteen-year-old boy named Edward Warren was the first American to ride in a hot air balloon. This event took place in Baltimore.

Both the Confederate and Union armies used hot air balloons to spy on each other. Balloons were able to climb up to 5,000 feet. The Union balloon corp, consisting of five balloons, only lasted until the fall of 1861, when it was disbanded. Another interesting fact: George Armstrong Custer, who obtained fame during the War Between the States as the youngest man to achieve the status of general, and later met his demise at Little Big Horn, was one of the first test pilots for the newly-established reconnaissance operations using hot air balloons.

Pratt Street Riot

The first bloodshed of the Civil War took place a week after Union-occupied Ft. Sumter was fired upon by Confederate forces. Subsequently, Virginia voted to secede, and President Lincoln called for 75,000 additional troops. As the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment traveled through Baltimore on their way to Washington D.C., an altercation occurred – four soldiers and 34 civilians were killed in the riot.

This weekend, Baltimore will commemorate the Pratt Street Riot with a procession on Pratt Street, a living history demonstration, the grand re-opening of President Street Station, a symposium hosted by the National Park Service, and candlelight tours at Fort McHenry.

The city also plans other events throughout the year. These include special events in regard to President Lincoln’s arrival to the city by train. The B&O Railroad Museum will have the largest collection of Civil War railroad equipment in the world on display. Live performances, music, and exhibits of memorabilia and artifacts will take place as well.

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