J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Iowa”

Purging the Past is a Bad Idea

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One year after a terrible tragedy sparked a national wildfire of political correctness, the Confederate battle flag is still under attack, as well as Confederate monuments around the country. However, one Congressman refuses to bow down to political correctness. He is Steve King, a Republican Congressional representative from Iowa, where he has served for the past 13 years. Rep. King is not afraid to go against the tide of political correctness. While Congress is purging the flags from Capitol Hill, Rep. King has reacted by displaying a Confederate battle flag in his Capitol office.

This is in direct opposition to a bill in Congress calling for a ban on Confederate flags from National cemeteries and Virginia cemeteries. A resolution by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was originally issued in 2000 in support of the Confederate battle flag. The SUVCW reaffirmed their support of the flag last year after the wave of controversy swept across the country. The resolution is as follows:

RESOLUTION OF SUPPORT DISPLAY OF BATTLE FLAGS OF THE CONFEDERACY 119TH NATIONAL ENCAMPMENT OF THE SONS OF UNION VETERANS OF THE CIVIL WAR LANSING, MICHIGAN AUGUST 19, 2000

A resolution in support of the display of the Confederate Battle Flag.
WHEREAS, we, the members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, condemn the use of the confederate battle flag, as well as the flag of the United States, by any and all hate groups; and
WHEREAS, we, the members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, support the flying of the Confederate battle flag as a historical piece of this nation’s history; and
WHEREAS, we, the members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, oppose the removal of any Confederate monuments or markers to those gallant soldiers in the former Confederate States, and strongly oppose the removal of ANY reminders of this nation’s bloodiest war on the grounds of it being “politically correct;” and
WHEREAS, we, as the descendants of Union soldiers and sailors who as members of the Grand Army of the Republic met in joint reunions with the Confederate veterans under both flags in those bonds of Fraternal Friendship, pledge our support and admiration for those gallant soldiers and of their respective flags;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in 119th Annual National Encampment, hereby adopt this resolution. Dated in Lansing, Michigan, on this nineteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord Two thousand.
This resolution of support of our flags, symbols, and monuments which was issued by the Sons of Union Veterans of The Civil War on August 19, 2000 was reaffirmed in 2015 by SUVCW Commander-in-Chief Tad D. Campbell through SUVCW General Order #26.

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After a recent vote, it was determined that the majority of residents in New Orleans are in favor of keeping the monuments that have recently come under fire of the politically correct hailstorm. This was also the case in South Carolina and Louisville, Kentucky. So if everyone wants to keep the flag, monuments, and other reminders of the Confederacy, why are the complaints of only a few being heard? I think it goes far deeper than just removing these reminders of our American past. In my opinion, it is all part of a larger movement to force a more restrictive government upon us.

“Any society which suppresses the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevents their history or denies them their symbols, has sown the seeds of their own destruction.”
Sir William Wallace, 1281 A.D.

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Fireworks and the Fourth

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I’d like to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July. This holiday brings many fun-filled memories of family, friends, and special summers. Although everyone has fond memories of July 4, let’s not forget what the holiday truly represents: FREEDOM. We have been a free country for so long that it’s easy to take that for granted, but remember our ancestors, who gave their lives so that we could be free. The Fourth of July  is historically significant, not only for our War of Independence, but also for the War Between the States.

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In 1863, two important events played out: Gettysburg and Vicksburg. The battle of Gettysburg, after three days of heavy fighting, ended on July 4, with both sides thinking they were victorious. It was realized later that the Confederate army had actually suffered a defeat; the first major loss of the war. At Vicksburg, Mississippi, Union General Grant succeeded in taking the town after a month-long siege, thus securing the Mississippi River for Federal use.

Our founding fathers sacrificed home and health to secure our freedom. This 4th of July, let us honor those who so loved, cherished, and believed in our country that they laid down their lives unselfishly. God bless America!

Sioux Falls and the Civil War

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Last week, my husband and I attended a presentation hosted by the Minnehaha County Historical Society in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The program was held at the Old Courthouse Museum, and discussed “Civil War Veterans of Minnehaha County.” All of these veterans fought for the Union, and most were from the Midwest. Twenty veterans were highlighted, and most were founding fathers of Sioux Falls.

Bill Hoskins, director of the Siouxland Heritage Museums and a member of the 13th U.S. Infantry Regiment, Company D, was the speaker. According to Mr. Hoskins, there are 347 documented veterans of the Civil War who are buried in 18 cemeteries in the county. Five percent were held as prisoners of war in Andersonville, Georgia, Camp Floyd, Texas, and Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. There are only 55 Confederate soldiers who are buried in the Dakotas.

Over the course of the war, the Union army grew from 10,000 soldiers to over one million. Some were mustered out in the summer of 1866 in my hometown of Sioux City, Iowa. After the war, many veterans participated in westward expansion through the Homestead Act. According to Mr. Hoskins, ex-Confederates were not allowed to participate. Many Confederates who were held captive at Rock Island Prison Camp in Illinois stayed in the Dakotas to fight Indians after they took the oath.

Fort Dakota was built on the banks of the Big Sioux River in June, 1865, where Sioux Falls is now. Two hundred and twenty-one men were members of the G.A.R. in Minnehaha County, and seventy percent were farmers. Some had various professions at the same time, such as doctors and fire chiefs. They promoted veterans’ affairs, and many were members of the Mason’s. These men helped shape South Dakota into what it is today.

Lost Confederate Flags

It is common knowledge that many flags were captured during the War Between the States, with Union soldiers capturing Confederate flags during certain battles and vice versa. Most would assume that after the war ended, the flags were returned to their rightful owners. This was the intention at the turn of the twentieth century, and laws were enacted to ensure that captured flags would be returned. However, over the years, certain flags fell between the cracks and were never returned, even though the states in possession of them were required to do so.

 

One such example is a flag that resides in the basement of the State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa. After participating in a reenactment, my husband and I were told by the Confederate camp that the state had a Confederate flag in its possession. After researching and contacting local historians, we found the rumor to be true. However, Iowa refuses to return the flag because it is a tourist attraction for the state.

 

The flag was captured at Gettysburg, and rightfully belongs to the 17th Mississippi. It is in dire need of repair, so it sits boxed up in the dark cellar of the Capitol Building, waiting for attention. Estimated repair costs range from $5-10,000. The Sons of Confederate Veterans are willing to save up for repairs, but they are having difficulty obtaining the flag.

 

There are other such cases as well. In the process of investigating the Iowa flag, we learned that there are two in Ohio that belong to the Confederacy. Southern states are reluctant to pursue the issue, as it will undoubtedly be a costly venture, and political ambition always seems to prevail. One can only hope that, perhaps someday, the flags will be returned to their rightful places and can come back home.

Colorado Desperadoes (Part 3) – “Buffalo Bill” Cody

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One of the most colorful characters to come out of the Old West was Buffalo Bill. He acquired his nickname after the Civil War, when he was hired to provide meat for the Kansas Pacific Railroad workers. Reportedly, Cody shot 4,280 bison in 18 months.

William Frederick Cody (February 26, 1846 – January 10, 1917) was born near La Claire, Iowa, but his family soon migrated to Canada. In 1853, they moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Territory. When Cody’s father stood up at Rively’s store to give an anti-slavery speech, he was stabbed twice, and would have died had it not been for Rively, who jumped in and saved his life. Pro-slavers continuously threatened to kill Cody’s father, and in 1857, he died of complications acquired from his wounds.

Cody, now 11, took odd jobs to help support his family. He worked as a wagon train courier, and claimed to have been a “Fifty’Niner” in Colorado. When the Civil War broke out, he joined Johnston’s Army as an unofficial scout in Utah Territory to quash a rumored rebellion by the Mormons in Salt Lake City. According to Cody’s memoirs, this was where he first started his career as an Indian fighter. At age 14, he became a rider for the Pony Express. In 1863, he enlisted with the 7th Kansas Cavalry as a teamster, and served as a Private in Company H until his discharge in 1865.

In 1866, Cody married. The couple had four children, but three of them died in Rochester, New York. Cody began working as an Indian scout for the U.S. Army, and served as a scout for the highly publicized Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia’s royal hunt. Cody was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1872 for serving as a civilian scout, but in 1917, the rules were changed, and his award was revoked. (It was reinstated in 1989).

In December, 1872, Cody and his friend, Texas Jack Oromoundo, traveled to Chicago to perform their debut, The Scouts of the Prairie. “Wild Bill” Hickok appeared with them the following year. The troupe toured for ten years. Cody claimed that he had once scalped a Cheyenne warrior, which was part of his act. He also claimed that he had been a trapper, a bullwhacker, a stagecoach driver, and a wagon master, but no documentation exists, and historians believe he might have fabricated these claims to gain publicity. Regardless, Cody’s colorful reputation grew. In 1883, he founded “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” near North Platte, Nebraska. The circus-like show toured annually, and Cody met many dignitaries and heads of state. In 1893, he changed the name of his show to “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World.” Sitting Bull, Calamity Jane, and Annie Oakley appeared in the touring show, as did many diplomats from foreign countries. His show performed in such places as Madison Square Garden in New York City and the ancient Roman amphitheatre in Verona, Italy.

In 1887, Cody performed a show for Queen Victoria, and in 1889, he met Pope Leo XIII. He wasn’t allowed into the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, so he set up outside the fairgrounds and made a killing anyway. Between 1887 and 1906, Cody’s Wild West show toured Europe eight times. His shows gave Europe an authentic American experience, and insight into the fading American Western frontier.

Cody was instrumental in founding a town named after him, and in 1895, Cody, Wyoming, near the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park, was founded. He established a ranch and hotel, and used his influence to persuade Congress to build a dam on the Shoshone River. Upon its completion in 1910, it was the largest dam in the world.

In 1917, Cody died in Denver at his sister’s home. He was eulogized by George V, Kaiser Wilhelm II and President Woodrow Wilson. Cody is buried on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado.  At one point, Buffalo Bill was the most famous man in the world. He supported Native American Indian rights and women’s rights, and pushed for the end of hide-hunting and the start of hunting seasons. He was an activist, a conservationist, a humanitarian, and a remarkable performer. He saw his Wild West change drastically over the course of his lifetime, but left a significant historical impact on the world, and changed their perception of the Wild West forever.

Recovering Civil War Flags

It is common knowledge that many flags were captured during the War Between the States, with Union soldiers capturing Confederate flags during certain battles and vice versa. Most would assume that after the war ended, the flags were returned to their rightful owners. This was the intention at the turn of the twentieth century, and laws were enacted to ensure that captured flags would be returned. However, over the years, certain flags fell between the cracks and were never returned, even though the states in possession of them were required to do so.

One such example is a flag that resides in the basement of the State Capitol Building in Des Moines, Iowa. After participating in a reenactment in Mason City last year, we were told by the Confederate camp that the state had a Rebel flag in its possession. After researching and contacting local historians, we found the rumor to be true. However, Iowa refuses to return the flag because it is a tourist attraction for the state.

The flag was captured at Gettysburg, and rightfully belongs to the Mississippi 17th. It is in dire need of repair, so it sits boxed up in the dark cellar of the Capitol Building, waiting for attention. Estimated repair costs range from $5-10,000. The Sons of Confederate Veterans are willing to save up for repairs, but they are having difficulty obtaining the flag. 

There are other such cases as well. In the process of investigating the Iowa flag, we learned that there are two in Ohio that belong to the Confederacy. Southern states are reluctant to pursue the issue, as it will undoubtedly be a costly venture, and political ambition always seems to prevail. One can only hope that, perhaps someday, the flags will be returned to their rightful places.

Not a Rebel After All

What a difference one letter makes! Recently, writer, historian, and radio personality Larry Weatherford, from Danville, Illinois, made an astounding discovery when he learned that a Confederate soldier wasn’t who everyone thought he was. For years, locals were told of the lone Rebel soldier who was buried among Union dead. But recent developments have changed all that.

After curiosity compelled him, Weatherford delved deeper into the mystery concerning John C. Durbin, a Virginia native who moved to Linn County, Iowa, and was believed to have fought for a Louisiana regiment during the Civil War. After the war ended, it was thought that Durbin returned north, and later died at the National Soldiers and Sailors Home in Danville, Illinois, nearly 110 years ago. Weatherford learned that a simple “typo” gave the misconception about Durbin’s loyalty. On his headstone, the letters “LA” instead of “IA” were carved. Whoever screwed up assumed that Durbin fought for the Confederacy, so he carved “Confederate States Army” underneath.

Weatherford investigated military records to learn that there was no John C. Durbin who fought with the 24th Louisiana. However, the name appeared in documents listing members of the 24th Iowa Infantry, Company H. Weatherford also turned up pension records, census reports, and rosters to verify his findings. As a result, John C. Durbin’s headstone was corrected last month.

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