J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Hollywood”

Great Honor Ends in Sadness

CA
Beginning in the early twentieth century and continuing into the twenty-first, the Confederate Memorial Association in California established more than a dozen monuments and place-names to the Confederacy. They dedicated highways to Jefferson Davis, named schools for Robert E. Lee, and erected large memorials to the common Confederate soldier.

While one would not ordinarily associate California, far removed from the major military theaters of The War, with anything Confederate when The War erupted between North and South in 1861, a wave of secessionist scares swept across the West. Los Angeles County was the epicenter of California disunionism. Hundreds of Southern-sympathizing Angelenos fled east to join Confederate armies, while an even larger number remained to menace federal control over the region. They openly bullied and brawled with Union soldiers, joined secessionist secret societies, hurrahed Jefferson Davis and his generals, and voted into office the avowed enemies of the Lincoln administration. The threat became so dire that Union authorities constructed a large military garrison outside Los Angeles, and arrested a number of local secessionists, to prevent the region from joining the Confederacy.

The War was lost in 1865, but California’s leaders continued to nurture a nostalgia for the Old South. The editor of the leading Democratic newspaper in the state unapologetically lamented the South’s loss. California refused to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, California was the only “free” state to reject both amendments during the Reconstruction era. In a belated, token gesture, the state “ratified” them in 1959 and 1962, respectively.

Attracted by California’s climate and its reactionary political orientation, thousands of Southerners migrated west in the decades after The War. There, they continued to honor the memory of their ancestors. Through hereditary organizations, reunions, and eventually the landscape itself, some hoped that the Old South would rise again in California.

Some of the most active memorial associations could be found in Los Angeles County. In 1925, the UDC erected the first major monument in the West, a six-foot stone tribute in what is now Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The monument saluted the wartime service of some 30 Confederate veterans, who migrated to Southern California after The War and took their final rest in the surrounding cemetery plot.

Hollywood

Many of those veterans had passed their last days in Dixie Manor, a Confederate rest home in San Gabriel, just outside L.A. Five hundred people gathered for the dedication of the home in April 1929. Until 1936, when the last of the residents died, the caretakers of Dixie Manor housed and fed these veterans, hosted reunions, and bestowed new medals for old service. It was the only such facility beyond the former Confederacy itself.

The UDC followed its Hollywood memorial with several smaller monuments to Jefferson Davis scattered across the state. Those tributes marked portions of the Jefferson Davis Highway, a transcontinental road system named for the former chieftain, stretching from Virginia to the Pacific coast. The Daughters erected the first of the tributes in San Diego in 1926. They even placed a large obelisk to Davis directly opposite the Ulysses S. Grant Hotel. Although opposition from Union army veterans resulted in the removal of the monument that same year, a plaque to Davis was restored to the San Diego plaza in 1956.

Several place-names literally put the Confederacy on the map in California. The town of Confederate Corners (née Springtown) was christened by a group of Southerners who settled in the area after The War. In San Diego and Long Beach, the name of Robert E. Lee graced two schools, while a school in East Los Angeles was named for filmmaker D.W. Griffith. Although not a Confederate veteran himself, Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation did more than any other production to rekindle the Confederate fire among a new generation of Americans.

Several giant sequoias were named for Robert E. Lee, including the fifth-largest tree in the world, located in Kings Canyon National Park. Jefferson Davis and Confederate general George E. Pickett each had a peak named in their honor in Alpine County.

Most of these memorialization efforts took place when The War was still a living memory. But California chapters of the UDC and Sons of Confederate Veterans remain active today. A recent register of the UDC listed 18 chapters in California-more than five times as many as could be found in any other “free state,” and even more than some former Southern states, including Missouri, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans were erecting major memorials in California as recently as 2004. That’s when the newly-removed Orange County pillar went up, amid much fanfare from its patrons and supporters, proudly clad in Confederate attire for the occasion. Inscribed on the pedestal: “to honor the sacred memory of the pioneers who built Orange County after their valiant effort to defend the Cause of Southern Independence.”

Earlier this month, that monument, the last one standing in California, was taken down.

(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, August 30, 2019 ed.)
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Women of the Confederacy (Pt. 7)

April is Confederate History Month. Because I began posting this series last month in honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to continue the series throughout the month of April to highlight women who helped the Confederate cause. I hope you enjoy.

Lottie and Ginnie Moon 

moon-I    Moon 2

During the American Civil War, two sisters went above and beyond the call of duty to prove their allegiance to the Confederate cause, and their daring adventures become legendary. Although they worked individually, together they became two of the South’s most notorious spies. 

     The girls were both born in Virginia, but when they were young, their father, a physician, moved the family to Oxford, Ohio. (Their home is on the National Register of Historic Places.) Both girls were popular and had many suitors. Charlotte, the oldest, who was known as “Lottie,” became engaged to none other than Ambrose Burnside. Legend has it that she was a runaway bride who jilted him at the altar. She eventually married Jim Clark, who became a Common Pleas judge.  

     At the onset of the Civil War, Lottie was 31, and her younger sister, Virginia, or “Ginnie,” was 16. When their father died, their mother, Cynthia, enrolled Ginnie in school at the Oxford Female College. However, the school was pro-abolitionist, and Ginnie did not share the same sentiment. She asked the school president to allow her to move to Tennessee to be with her mother, but the president refused. In retaliation, Ginnie shot out every star on the U.S. flag that flew over the college grounds. She was immediately expelled, so she traveled to Memphis to stay with Cynthia. The two wrapped bandages and nursed wounded soldiers, and after Memphis fell in June 1862, Ginnie passed through enemy lines, sneaking supplies and information while pretending to meet a beau.  

     Judge Price became involved with the Knights of the Golden Circle, an underground Confederate network, and received secret messages from the organization. When he got a dispatch requesting that a message be delivered to Kentucky, Lottie volunteered for the job, thus embarking on her career of espionage. Disguising herself as an old Irish woman, she took a boat from Ohio to Lexington, met Colonel Thomas Scott, and gave him the papers to deliver to General Kirby Smith. She then returned to Oxford by train, but not before using her acting talents to tearfully convince a Union general to ensure her passage north. Once she got a taste of the excitement of intelligence life, she delivered more messages. This attracted the attention of Confederate sympathizers in Canada, who invited her to Toronto. They set her up with forged papers, giving her claim as a British subject, and sent her back to the states. She traveled to Washington, supposedly met Secretary of War Stanton, and bluffed her way into Virginia by telling Union officials she needed to travel there for health reasons. 

    Meanwhile, Ginnie continued her work in Memphis, and in 1863, while she was in Jackson, Mississippi, she learned that valuable information needed to be dispatched to the Knights of the Golden Circle in Ohio. She volunteered and took her mother along, convincing her that they would be safe because they had relatives there. Union officials were now wise to women posing as Confederate spies, and Ginnie was no exception. (See propaganda cartoon below.) She and her mother arrived in Ohio un-detained, and received the necessary paperwork and supplies. They boarded a boat to return south, but one of the commanders became suspicious, so he ordered that the two be searched. Ginnie’s reaction was documented in her memoirs: 

“There was a slit in my skirt and in my petticoat I had a Colt revolver. I put my hand in and took it out, backed to the door and leveled it at him across the washstand. ‘If you make a move to touch me, I’ll kill you, so help me God!’”  

     The captain backed down long enough for Ginnie to withdraw the secret message she had hidden in her bosom, immerse it in water, and swallow it. She and her mother were then taken to the provost marshal’s office, where Union officials searched the two ladies’ trunks. Inside one they discovered a heavy quilt, so they ripped it open and found that it was filled with medicine. A Federal officer supposedly pushed Ginnie’s hoop skirts aside so that he could close the door, and saw that her skirts were also quilted. A housekeeper was ordered to search her. “Forty bottles of morphine, seven pounds of opium, and a quantity of camphor” were discovered in her skirts, on her person, and inside a giant bustle attached to the back of her dress. The two women were promptly taken to a hotel and placed on house arrest. Ginnie protested, and insisted that she see her sister’s previous beau, General Ambrose Burnside. The general had recently been assigned as new commander of the Union Department of the Ohio in Cincinnati, and was busy prosecuting Confederate sympathizers. An order he issued stated that anyone who displayed Confederate leanings would be tried for treason, and anyone caught helping the Rebels would be hung. Ginnie’s request was granted the following day, and when Burnside saw her, he reportedly held out both hands. 

      “My child,” he said, “what have you done this for?” 

     “Done what?” Ginnie asked. 

     “Tried to go south without coming to me for a pass,” he replied. “They wouldn’t have dared stop you.” 

     Learning of her family’s quandary, Lottie set out to rescue them. Disguising herself as an English invalid, she confronted Burnside, who immediately recognized her and placed her under house arrest as well. The three women remained captive for three months. Ginnie was required to report to General Hurlburt at ten o’clock every morning, but apparently this wasn’t enough to deter her spying activities, because she was commanded to leave Union territory and stay out. Eventually, all charges were dropped. 

     After the war, Lottie went back to Ohio to become one of America’s first female journalists, and traveled all over the world to cover stories. Ginnie returned to Memphis, but her restless nature got the best of her, so she traveled around the country, and eventually ended up in Hollywood. She landed bit parts in two movies: “The Spanish Dancer” and “Robin Hood” in the 1920’s. From there, she went to Greenwich Village in New York City, where she lived until her death at age 81.  

Lampoon 1

Harpers Weekly, Lampoon of Southern Female Spies 

 

67th Anniversary of Disney’s “Song of the South”

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William Faulkner said: “The past is not dead! Actually, it’s not even past.”
 
The cool winds blew through the Georgia pines during those bitter sweet days of autumn during a Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah time in Atlanta.
 
Hollywood in 1946 was a grand year for movies many of which have become classics like:
“The Best Years of Our Lives,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Big Sleep,” and “Song of the South.” that won the 1947 Academy Award for the best song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”
 
At the suggestion of the Junior League and the Uncle Remus Memorial Association of Atlanta, Georgia Walt Disney and RKO Pictures agreed to hold the world premiere of Song of the South on Tuesday, the 12th day of November, in the year of our lord 1946 in Atlanta, Georgia. The theater chosen was the Fabulous Fox Theater http://www.foxtheatre.org/ on Peachtree Street.
 
The premiere of “Song of the South” is said to have been inspired by the gala events surrounding the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” that had drawn a half-million people to Atlanta seven years earlier and which the Junior League had also sponsored.
 
Walt Disney http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Disney  made his introductory remarks for “Song of the South,” introduced the cast, then quietly left for his room at the Georgian Terrace Hotel across the street. It is written that he paced the floor and smoked cigarettes in nervous anticipation of how Atlanta would receive his movie.
 
“Song of the South” put the Wren’s Nest on the map which is the beautiful home of author Joel Chandler Harris located on Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., formerly Gordon Street named for Confederate General and one time Georgia Governor John B. Gordon, in Atlanta’s Historic West End District. 
 
Joel Chandler Harris was born in 1848 in Eatonton, Georgia, where he served as an apprentice on a plantation during his teenage years. He was Associate Editor of the Atlanta Constitution where on July 20, 1879; he published “The Story of Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Fox as Told by Uncle Remus.”
 
Harris lived at the ‘Wren’s Nest’ a Queen Anne Victorian house from 1881 to 1908 and penned many of the Br’er Rabbit tales on the porch. Take a step back in time and join the good folks at the Wren’s Nest for daily tours and storytelling every Saturday at 1 pm.
 
Song of the South is a wonderful collection of stories that includes a blend of live action and animation, based on the popular ‘Uncle Remus’ stories by Joel Chandler Harris. It is set in the Old South after the War Between the States. The story begins with young boy Johnny (bobby Driscoll) who is sent to live on a Southern plantation with his Grandmother (Lucile Watson) while his parents are considering divorce. The movie also stars the wonderful Hattie McDaniel of “Gone with the Wind” fame.
 
Johnny is cheered up by a Black-Southern story teller Uncle Remus (James Baskett) who tells the young boy and other children tales about Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear whose delightful adventures are illustrated in cartoon form. Each story has a morale that Johnny carries into his daily life. 
 
The original book of Joel Chandler Harris is hard to find and the movie’s last release was about thirty years ago. Uncle Remus, please tell us another good story.
 
Country singer Don Williams’ song ‘Good ole boys like me’ begins with….
 
‘When I was a kid Uncle Remus he put me to bed, with a picture of Stonewall Jackson above my head.’
A good bedtime story for your children and grandchildren might begin with….
 
‘Now, this here tale didn’t happen just yesterday, nor the day before.’Twas a long time ago. And in them days, everything was mighty satisfactual. The critters, they was closer to the folks, and the folks, they was closer to the critters, and if you’ll excuse me for saying so, ’twas better all around’—-Uncle Remus from Disney’s Song of the South.
 
Have a Zippy Doo Dah Day!
 
(Reprinted with Permission)
By: Calvin E. Johnson, Jr., Speaker, Writer of short stories, Author of book “When America stood for God, Family and Country” and Chairman of the National and Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Confederate History and Heritage Month committee.http://www.facebook.com/ConfederateHeritageMonth
1064 West Mill Drive, Kennesaw, Georgia 30152, Phone 770 330 9792 or 770 428 0978

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