I received another flattering review for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you so much, Miss Tammy! Here is her review:
In last Sunday’s Colorado Springs Gazette, reporter David Ramsey wrote a story about Confederates who are buried in Colorado. He then went on to say that all of them undeniably fought to preserve slavery. He stressed this opinion throughout his story, and even contradicted people he interviewed with his strong opinions.
I’m not denying that slavery played a part in leading up to the Civil War, but Ramsey fails to mention all the other reasons why the war came about. He sites Confederate VP Alexander H. Stephens’ racist statements, but fails to take into account that racism was commonplace back then. President Lincoln was a huge racist, as a matter of fact, and wanted to ship all the blacks back to Africa or somewhere else out of the country. Ramsey claims that Robert E. Lee had slaves (which he set free before the war), but fails to mention how Grant kept his slaves until after the war, not to mention how seriously racist Sherman was, not only against blacks, but also against American Indians, and didn’t hesitate to kill as many as possible.
Here is a link to the story. Please let me know what your thoughts are. I’d love to see your comments!
It is difficult to imagine what a soldier who fought in the American Civil War endured. Firearms were virtually relics at the start of the war. Soldiers fought with arms they brought from home, which were typically muskets used for hunting. These firearms were very slow to fire and were usually ineffective, and sometimes dangerous, because they were difficult to aim, load and fire. During the course of the war, increments became far more effective and deadly. Here’s an explanation of how the early muskets were used.
Civil War soldiers were taught to load and fire their muskets using the “Nine-Steps.” They were drilled for hours to ensure every soldier would know each step without thinking. Step No. 6 was “return rammer” and while all of the steps were important, this one could have serious consequences if it was skipped.
Pvt. Arminius Bill of the 66th Illinois Western Sharp Shooters, recorded an incident in his diary about a man who skipped step No. 6. It was on Dec. 2, 1861,during a “sham battle” between Union forces at Benton Barracks near St. Louis. Artillery roared, cavalry galloped, and tens of thousands of blank rounds were fired. “One infantry man was killed by the man behind him in the rear rank who became excited & forgot to withdraw his ramrod. The gun went off & drove the ramrod through the head of the man in front.”
At the battle of Tupelo, July 14, 1864, Captain Theodore Carter cheered on his men of the 14th Wisconsin as they fired while lying down. Suddenly a private rose to his feet and began to hurl curses across the open ground to the Confederates. A rammer had streaked across the field and skewered his bicep, and he paused to pull out the long bloody piece of steel. “It was ludicrous to see hear him use strong invectives against the ‘rebel’ who was so careless as to leave his ramrod in the gun after loading.”
Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned, “I shot an arrow in the air, it fell to earth, I know not where.” A beautiful poem, he was certainly not thinking of Pvt. Alexander Downing of the 11th Iowa Infantry, and an incident on April 6, 1862, during the battle of Shiloh.
“My musket became so dirty with the cartridge powder, that in loading it the ramrod stuck fast and I could neither get it up nor down, so I put a [percussion] cap on, elevated the gun and fired it off. But now I had no ramrod, and throwing down my musket, I picked up a Belgian rifle lying at the side of a dead rebel, unstrapped the cartridge box from his body, and advanced to our company, taking my place with the boys.”
Longfellow’s arrow was found unbroken in an oak; whatever happened to Downing’s?
Shiloh National Military Park
(Thanks to Trent Lewis)
(Article courtesy of the Southern Comfort, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Samuel A. Hughey camp #1452, Volume 43, Issue 5, May 2019 ed.)
Uncle Robert Wilson who left this planet at 112 years old and whom the United Daughters of the Confederacy buried.
“RICHMOND BORN CIVIL WAR VETERAN DIES IN ILLINOIS
Elgin, Ill April 11- UP
Robert Wilson, oldest patient of the Elgin State Hospital, died today.
Confederate army records establish his age as 112.
Wilson, a Negro, was born in slavery January 12, 1836, at Richmond, VA, hospital files indicate. He was credited with service in the Confederate army during the Civil War (sic).
Known in the institution as Uncle Bob, he practiced evangelism before entering seven years ago.
He told attendants in the veterans’ ward that he was proudest of his knowledge of the Bible and of a half a dollar given him by Governor Dwight H Green, of Illinois, during a visit to the hospital several years ago.
Several months ago, Wilson lost the silver piece. His dismay was mentioned to Governor Green, who sent him another half dollar to replace it on his 112th birthday this year.
The oldest veteran had no living relatives. Hospital authorities said that plans are being made for his funeral by the Daughters of the Confederacy.”
ELGIN DAILY COURIER NEWS Elgin, IL.
April 11, 1948 Special thanks to Commander Randall Freeman for the information.
Lani Burnette – BLACK CONFEDERATES AND OTHER MINORITIES IN THE WAR OF NORTHERN AGGRESSION
Early this morning, an actor from the TV show Empire, Jussie Smollett, was attacked, supposedly by two anti-gay racists. This event upsets me very much, and deserves so much more media attention and observance from our social conscience than what other occurrences are receiving. The following article is one example. It’s a shame that so much emphasis is being placed on what kids are wearing to school. Their garb is not vulgar, but some (the minority, BTW) deem it unacceptable. I think our attentions are askew and need to be reassessed. Kids wearing the Southern Cross, or t-shirts that state “History Not Hate” are definitely not threatening. On the other hand, thugs attacking innocent people are very threatening. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Freedom of religion? And freedom of expression? God help us all.
Students at Fayetteville High School have been suspended for wearing – and refusing to remove – Confederate flag-themed shirts and face paintings in support of a pro-flag movement called #HistoryNotHate.
Several students showed up to school in Flag apparel and were told by administration to remove it. Those that did not comply received an out-of-school suspension, according to NBC affiliate KARK. Now the teens say they are upset with the way school officials are handling the situation, and they defend their right to dress in Confederate gear.
“None of us are racist. None of us are doing it for hate,” said student Jagger Starnes to KARK. “It’s Southern pride, and we’re not gonna take it off for anyone. This is our flag. It’s Arkansas. This is the South.”
School officials claim they aren’t taking a political stance and are not trying to impede on anyone’s rights but one teen says that the confrontation between students and authorities got heated. Morrigan White told local news station KNWA he painted the Confederate Flag all over his peers’ hands and faces, “wherever they wanted it” and that during their lunch period they were approached by police, the principal, the vice principal as well as school deans who told them to change clothes and wash the body art “or else.” When the students refused, “I told him I wasn’t going to take it off,” he said to KNWA. “So then I went to the office had a discussion and then the head principal ended up calling me racist.”
The students say that despite the discipline they received, they stand by their convictions and won’t back down from wearing the Confederate Flag. “They’re both going to keep wearing their jackets,” White said of Starnes and another fellow student. “And if I have makeup I’m going to put hashtag history not hate on my hands. I’ll still keep putting the flag on my face.”
One of the people I truly admire from the Civil War is Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Although the political climate today reflects negatively on him, Lee was, in reality, an amazing patriot, husband, father and leader. His soldiers loved him, and after the war, the entire country did, too. He was given a position as president of Washington and Lee University (then Washington College), which he humbly accepted. Lee only lived five more years, and passed away in 1870. He is interred in the Chapel on campus.
Lee was a dedicated military man, having graduated from West Point at the top of his class. His father was the famous Light Horse Harry Lee, who was a hero in the Revolutionary War. His wife, Mary Custis Lee, was a descendant of George Washington. Lee came from a long line of Virginia’s elite.
When the war broke out, Lee was faced with a very difficult decision. He chose his beloved state of Virginia over the Union, and reluctantly gave up his position with the U.S. military. He released his in-law’s slaves at the start of the war. Always the gentleman, Lee told his soldiers not to take or destroy anything when they entered Northern Territory, and that they should be required to pay with Confederate currency, since that’s all the men had, even though their money wasn’t worth anything.
In honor of General Lee’s upcoming birthday, I’d like to post a few articles about him, his life, and his service. This first article is about his beloved horse, Traveller. Lee had many horses during the course of the war, but Traveller was his favorite. You can read more about Traveller and Lee’s other horses in my nonfiction book, Horses in Gray.
There are few relationships more appreciated than that of a horse soldier and his mount. During the American Civil War, over a million horses perished in service to their respective causes. Few of them are remembered and revered today as much as Robert E. Lee’s horse,Traveller. Buried at Lee Chapel, at the same site as his commander, this dappled grey American Saddle bred was known for his speed, strength and courage in combat. Lee acquired him in 1862, and rode him throughout the war and beyond.
In a letter penned during the war, Lee describedhis horse to Mrs. Lee’s cousin, Markie Williams,who wished to paint a portrait of Traveller. Hewrote: “If I was an artist like you, I would drawa true picture of Traveller; representing his fine proportions, muscular figure, deep chest, short back, strong haunches, flat legs, small head, broad forehead, delicate ears, quick eye, small feet, and black mane and tail. Such a picture would inspire a poet, whose genius could then depict his worth, and describe his endurance of toil, hunger, thirst, heat and cold; and the dangers and suffering through which he has passed. He could dilate upon his sagacity and affection, and his invariable response to every wish of his rider. He might even imagine his thoughts through the long night-marches and days of the battle through which he has passed.”
(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, vol. 43, issue no. 1, January 2019)
Here are some stories about what the South experienced during the War Between the States. By 1862, inflation in the South was rampant, as the following article describes.
CONFEDERATE PRESIDENT CELEBRATES CHRISTMAS IN MISSISSIPPI
Confederate President Jefferson Davis celebrated Christmas in his home in Mississippi.
“After an absence of nearly two years,” he said, “I again find myself among those who…have ever been the trusted object of my affection.”
But Confederate Christmas celebrations in the area were cut short by reports of Union troop movements on the Mississippi threatening Vicksburg.
In the fall of 1862, Confederate refugees from the fighting in the areas surrounding the capital began to flood into the city. They included those who fled farms and towns now in Union-held territory, wives of Confederate soldiers looking for employment, and the destitute.
This influx of refugees drove rent prices much higher than they’d been previously, and wartime inflation sent prices on everyday goods skyrocketing. In the city, ten pounds of bacon, which cost $1.25 in 1860, now cost $10. Four pounds of coffee jumped from $0.50 to $20.
Richmond diarist and author Sallie Brock Putnam wrote about the sadness of Christmas for families who had lost soldiers in the war:
The Christmas dinner passed off gloomily. The vacant chairs were multiplied in Southern homes, and even the children who had curiously questioned the cause of the absence of the young soldier brother from the festive board, had heard too much, had seen too much, and knew too well why sad-colored garments were worn by the mother, and why the fold of rusty crape placed around the worn hat of the father, and why the joyous mirth of the sister was restrained, and her beautiful figure draped in mourning. Congratulations were forced, and tears had taken the place of smiles on countenances where cheerfulness was wont to reign.
Christmas of 1862 saw an important cultural development with the emergence of the modern image of Santa Claus. Famed illustrator FOC Darley published an edition of Clement Clark Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas (‘Twas the Night Before Christmas) featuring drawings of Santa as a plump man with a pipe, furry coat and pointed hat.
Thomas Nast, who in the late 19th century produced what came to be regarded as the definitive representations of St. Nick, published his first Santa drawing in Harper’s Weekly, January 3, 1863. “Santa Claus in Camp“ showed a star-spangled Santa in his reindeer-drawn sleigh handing out presents to jubilant soldiers.
General Robert E. Lee in Gordonsville reported 40,000 soldiers watched a baseball game at Hilton Head, S.C., between the 165th New York Zouave regiment and a picked team from other units. One of the players was Abraham Gilbert Mills, later president of the National League.
Across the South there were movements of troops. Confederate General John Hunt Morgan engaged in his famous Christmas Raid in Kentucky; on that single day, Morgan’s men destroyed everything they possibly could of the improvements that the Louisville & Nashville Railroad had made along 35 miles of track from Bacon Creek to Lebanon Junction.
Robert E. Lee wrote his wife, “What a cruel thing is war. To separate & destroy families & friends & mar the purest joy and happiness God has granted us in this world…. I pray that on this day when ‘peace & good will’ are preached to all mankind that better thoughts will fill the hearts of our enemies & turn them to peace.”
Meanwhile, along the Rappahannock River, the two armies faced each other, probing their opponent’s lines looking for weak spots and capturing prisoners and supplies. Soldiers in both armies did what soldiers normally do during the winter. They rested and refitted. They entertained themselves with games and tournaments. They exchanged supplies with their fellow Americans across the river.
(Written by Peter Doré – English Friends of the South)
THE CHRISTMAS GIFT
Time was short as final preparations were underway for General Thomas J. Jackson’s famous Stonewall Brigade. Jackson had received orders from General Robert E. Lee to move his corps east from the Shenandoah towards the Rappahannock River. The Federal army under the command of General Burnside was gathering in great numbers across the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg in an attempt to sweep around Lee’s eastern flank and attack Richmond.
Jackson’s corps numbered over 38,000 soldiers, the largest command he had ever had. Among these troops were his old reliable, tried and true, Stonewall Brigade, also referred to informally as “Virginia’s First Brigade”. Organized and trained personally by Jackson at Harper’s Ferry in April 1861, the brigade would distinguish itself at the Battle of Manassas, and become one of the most famous combat units in the war.
Snow lay on the ground in Winchester at the Frederick County Courthouse as new volunteers were organized and drilled for their march to meet the enemy. A young soldier was given a Christmas gift made by his sweetheart. Like so many couples, they did not know what the future held.
A Winchester resident watching the men pass through the town remarked how poor looking the soldiers were. “They were very destitute, many without shoes, and all without overcoats or gloves, although the weather was freezing. Their poor hands looked so red and cold holding their muskets in the biting wind….They did not, however look dejected, but went their way right joyfully.”
THE CHRISTMAS CAROL
The years of 1861 and 1862 had been momentous for Thomas J. Jackson. He had gone from being an unknown VMI professor with a Major’s commission, to the rank of Lieutenant General commanding the II Corps in General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. In battle after battle Jackson’s army had defeated those who opposed them. “Stonewall” was now one of the most famous and feared generals of the war.
Snow blanketed the countryside on November 22 as Confederate divisions gathered in Winchester. General Lee’s communiqués to Jackson made it clear that it was time to consolidate the army, preparing for the Union Army’s next move. Jackson’s Corps numbered 33,000 troops, the largest he had ever commanded. The task of organizing and preparing the new II Corps was daunting, but the General was up to the challenge and kept on the move.
On an early November morning at the Opequon Presbyterian church, members of the choir practiced a favorite Christmas carol for the passing Stonewall Jackson and his men. With the fate of his army and possibly the South to be decided in the coming days, the beautiful melody of a Christmas carol in the distance uplifted General Jackson and his men as they prepared to leave for Fredericksburg.
“The Christmas Gift”
Men of the Stonewall Brigade, Frederick County Courthouse – Winchester, Virginia Winter of 1862
Artwork by John Paul Strain
Perhaps the assault on historical monuments and markers is losing momentum. If this article is any indication, it might be. I certainly hope so. As I have stated in past posts, I believe destroying these national treasures is destroying our history.
Yes, You read right!
There is also a lot of opposition around town to the Commission’s decision to install red-light cameras to raise the money to pay for the monument’s removal.
Commissioner Selvage has said that he has personally agonized over the decision to move the monument and how to pay for it. He said he has spent time in Munn Park looking at the statue. “I imagine him to be a 19-year-old young man, whose country was being invaded and he went to serve,” said the U.S. Marine veteran who served in Vietnam. “One hundred years later, I was 19, I did the same thing – I went to fight communists. I didn’t know what in the heck I was doing, I found myself in a far-off land, fighting, and now people say that was wrong, that was immoral. I looked at that soldier and thought, ‘That soldier was the same. He went to save his hide and, unlike me, he didn’t come back.'” Selvage added that the monument should remain in or be removed to, “where it will be treated with honor and respect.”
One of the most haunted places in America related to the Civil War is Point Lookout in Maryland. Point Lookout was a notorious Confederate prison camp during the war. At one time, over 50,000 men were held captive, which was far more than what the prison was designed to hold. Because of overcrowding, over 3,000 men died due to the horrific living conditions. They were buried in the swampy marsh of Chesapeake Bay.
The place where the prison once stood is now a national park and historic site, and the men who died at Point Lookout are remembered in a war memorial cemetery, which is actually a mass grave. Not surprisingly, many strange things have occurred on this haunted and hallowed ground. Visitors have reported a multitude of paranormal phenomena, including ghostly figures of soldiers seen running from the location of where a smallpox hospital once stood, which was a regular escape route for prisoners. A slender man has often been seen loping across the road into groves of pine trees.
Rangers have described how frequent, low lying, damp fog would suddenly become impenetrable and chilling. The sudden change in atmosphere sent their dogs into a panic. Recorded devices have picked up strange snippets of conversation at all hours of the night. Some of the phrases heard included a man say, “Fire if they get too close to you.” A woman’s voice was heard saying, “Let us take no objection to what they are doing,” and a child’s voice asked to play in the water.
Point Lookout’s lighthouse has experienced the most activity. Former park ranger Gerald Sword said his Belgian Shepherd regularly lunged at unseen figures. Once, Ranger Sword saw a young man in a sailor’s uniform enter the lighthouse and then disappear into thin air. Voices and piano music frequently float through the lighthouse halls, and fishermen have often told him they’ve heard phantom cries for help coming from the water.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. What better time to write about spooky happenings and haunts as related to the War Between the States? Now through Halloween, I will share with you some of the scariest Civil War-related places. First up is the Chickamauga battlefield.
“Wherever there has been great suffering, people are always seeing strange things.”
The Battle of Chickamauga was a costly one. On September 19 – 20, 1863, approximately 35,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing. It was considered a Confederate victory because the Rebels halted the Federal advance. Chickamauga, meaning “River of Death” in Cherokee, lived up to its name. Not surprisingly, the site of the battle in Georgia is reportedly haunted.
In 1876, thirteen years after the battle, ex-Confederate Jim Carlock participated in a centennial celebration. While walking across the battlefield, he and his friends saw something ten feet high with a “big white head.” He said the entity appeared to be a black woman carrying a bundle of clothes on her head.
Edward Tinney, former historian and chief ranger at Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park from 1969 to 1986, said ghostly sightings are not uncommon. The most famous phantom is known as “Old Green Eyes.” This ghost takes on many different shapes, including a Confederate soldier and a green-eyed panther. Old Green Eyes was spotted soon after the battle ended when surviving soldiers saw the strange specter.
“Green Eyes is rumored to be a man who lost his head to a cannonball, frantically searching the battlefield at night for his dislocated body,” Tinney said.
According to legend, the ghost of Old Green Eyes existed years before the battle took place, possibly during the time that Native Americans lived on the land.
One night in 1976, Tinney was on the battlefield checking on camping reenactors. A man over 6 feet tall, wearing a long black duster, with stringy black, waist-length hair, walked toward him. Intimidated, Tinney crossed to the other side of the road. The man reached him and flashed a devilish grin. His dark eyes glistened. Just then, a car came down the road and the scary apparition vanished.
Another ghost appears in the form of a lady in a white wedding dress. Known as the “Lady in White,” the ghost is supposedly searching for her lover. Many visitors have reported hearing gunshots and hoof beats, or smelling the strong scent of alcohol. Reports of ghostly encounters and paranormal activities number in the hundreds.
Several years ago, David Lester was camping on the battlefield with several other reenactors. Some of his comrades wandered over to a neighboring camp to say hello to the soldiers. They talked for several hours before returning to their camp. In the morning, they returned to the camp, only to discover that there was no sign of a campfire or any trace of human occupation. There was only undisturbed land.
(Quote courtesy of Edward Tinney)