J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “General William T. Sherman”

Civil War Cannons Raised

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Last week, more artifacts from the Civil War era were recovered. Several cannons from a Confederate warship were brought up from the murky waters of the Pee Dee River in South Carolina. Amateur diver Bob Butler had been searching the river for 20 years in search of the cannons. In 1995, he found one, and in 2006, he discovered another. In 2013, he watched as the Pee Dee Research and Recovery Team located a third cannon. He also watched last Tuesday as a team from the University of South Carolina raised the cannons from the river bottom.

The cannons were dumped into the river in 1865 as a precautionary measure to avoid their capture by Union General William T. Sherman during his march through the Carolinas.

“We brought a little bit of South Carolina history to the surface today,” Butler said. “This closed the book on a lot of history. It’s really special.”

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The USC team started its search for the 150-foot Confederate gunboat, the CSS Pee Dee, in 2009. The cannons attached to the gunboat are especially significant because their service has been well documented. The cannons are also special because they were a new invention at the time and could swivel 360 degrees. Prior to this, mounted cannons remained in a stationary position.

The cannons were recovered at the site of a former Confederate inland naval yard. The CSS Pee Dee had sails, a boiler and giant twin propellers. It was once referred to by the Confederate Navy Secretary as “the finest ship ever built by the South.” The gunboat’s career didn’t last long. Once it was built, it steamed up the river to head off Sherman and his troops, then returned to Mars Bluff and was burned.

“The war would have been over before it stuck its nose out of the inlet,” Leader said of the CSS Pee Dee’s future as an ocean-going commerce raider. “They basically finished it, ran it up the river, ran it back and that was it.”

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The three cannons include two Confederate Brooke Rifle cannons and one captured Union Dahlgren cannon. They will be taken to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston for conservation. It is the same lab where the CSS Hunley is being restored. Once their restoration is complete, they will be on permanent display at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs building in Florence.

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Confederate Cannonballs, Cartridges and More Found in River

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Researchers are trying to figure out the best way to get War for Southern Independence munitions out of the Congaree River in South Carolina. Historians have used sonar and metal detection to get an idea of where cannonballs, cartridges and knapsacks were dumped near the Gervais Street bridge in downtown Columbia.

On their way out of town, Union troops led by General William T. Sherman (“Willy T” for short) unloaded supplies into the river. In 1954, a gas-producing plant closed near the Congaree River in Columbia, South Carolina. But its presence lingers in the form of roughly 40,000 tons of “taffy-like” black tar that needs to be removed from the river. A most unusual side effect of damming the river to do so: the possible recovery of Confederate munitions seized and then dumped by Sherman’s Yankee army a century and a half ago.

A list of what Union troops logged as having captured from their Confederate counterparts in the seizure of the city on Feb. 17, 1865: 1.2 million ball cartridges, 100,000 percussion caps, 4,000 bayonet scabbards, 3,100 sabers, 1,100 knapsacks, and more. Whatever they didn’t bring with them as they marched toward North Carolina; they dumped in the Congaree River to keep it out of Confederate hands. The munitions lie beneath a layer of tar that oozed from the long-closed gas-making plant located near what is now the Governor’s Mansion. Consultants hired by the SCANA Corp. as part of the utility’s river cleanup found evidence of the artifacts. The energy company, SCANA Corp, will facilitate the Congaree cleanup, which involves exposing about 15 acres of riverbed and removing a tar cap that’s, on average, 2 feet thick—along with any Civil War artifacts, which would note would belong to the state of South Carolina.

While the company’s Director of Environmental Services says “we don’t have any direct knowledge of ordnance,” he also didn’t deny the findings of a September draft report SCANA commissioned that involved the use of sonar and metal detectors. That report identified 218 sites as “exhibiting signature characteristics that could be associated with ordnance.”

Though items have been documented as being salvaged in the 1930s, 1970s, and 1980s, the state’s underwater archaeologist, James Spirek, isn’t expecting a mass cache to surface this time around. “I’m sure there will be some interesting items. I don’t anticipate huge volumes,” he says. He also said the ordnance likely will be housed at the Confederate Relic Room in downtown Columbia.

(This article courtesy of General William Barksdale Camp 1220 Sons of Confederate Veterans newsletter, “Barksdale’s Mississippians,” Columbus, Mississippi, February, 2015)

(Grand) Wizard of the Saddle?

After hearing about the Memphis City Council’s ridiculous motion to rename several parks in the city, the Ku Klux Klan has decided to take action. According to the Grand Wizard, the KKK will congregate in Forrest Park every week until the name is reverted back to its original.

The controversy was sparked when Memphis City Council members decided to rename Forrest Park, which is named after famed Civil War Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. The park is on the National Register of Historic Places, and General Forrest himself, along with his wife and grandson, are buried in the park. The new name for the park will tentatively be Health Sciences Park. The same goes for Confederate Park and Jefferson Davis Park, which are both located on the banks of the Mississippi River. Their new names will be Memphis Park and Mississippi River Park, respectively.

City Council members wanted to rename the park because they said General Forrest was a slave trader, and was a Grand Wizard of the KKK. So much for doing their research. Although he was a slave trader prior to the war, he set his slaves free during the war, and some of his freed slaves even fought under him. He went out of his way to keep families together. He was never a Grand Wizard of the KKK, and denied being a member in public documents. He didn’t instigate the slaughter at Ft. Pillow, either, but City Council members don’t know that because they don’t do their homework. In fact, Forrest was found innocent by a Grand Jury, and the court records are available to the public. Union General William T. Sherman, who despised Forrest, even admitted that Forrest did no wrong, and therefore, could not be persecuted.

Unfortunately, the KKK has decided to get involved, and vows to stage a rally in Forrest Park every week beginning in April or May. This writer is dead-set against it, because it will only create more racial tension. The last time the Klan was in Memphis, numerous riots broke out. I’ll bet that, if General Forrest was alive to see it, he would be deeply saddened.

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