We Can Never Forget
Well, kids, they’re at it again. I don’t know exactly who is behind all this desecration, but the forces that be have decided to attack our beloved American history once more. This round was supposedly brought on by the killing of George Floyd, a repeat offender/drug addict who has become a martyr, crazy as it sounds. So in retaliation for his demise, Black Lives Matter/Antifa has committed numerous murders, looting incidents, and various other crimes. The worst, to me, is their burning the UDC headquarters building in Richmond. What a heartbreaker. The second worst, in my opinion, is their destroying the Lion of Atlanta. And the governor of Virginia has decided to dismantle Monument Avenue, which consists of many amazingly beautiful sculptures. But because they depict Confederate soldiers, they just got ta go.
So many monuments are under attack right now, as is everything else related to the Confederacy. HBO has removed Gone With the Wind from their movie lineup, which is a serious shame, since the movie features Hattie McDaniel, the very first African American to ever win an Oscar. And Nascar announced that the Confederate battle flag will no longer be allowed to fly at events. Like that hurts anyone? Seriously?
Everyone seems to be losing sight of what the Confederacy actually represented…states’ rights. Slavery was definitely part of it, but then, slavery was legal in nearly every corner of the world back then. And it was also legal in many northern states.
Just for an eye-opener, I’m posting this article for us to witness what it was really like to live through such a terrifying, horrific time. This is what the monuments represent. This is what flying the Rebel flag is all about. If we forget about our ancestors’ peril and suffering, we only set ourselves up to suffer the same anguish ourselves. Because if we erase history, we are doomed to repeat it. History has shown us this time and again.
The Story of One University Gray
Come on in and wade around in the blood with me. I live with, and deal with, a lot of Ole Miss Civil War dead kids every day. The ones who died of old age, I can handle. The ones who die of dysentery in an overcrowded hospital, or who are decapitated by a cannon ball, or who bleed to death from a wound, all in their early 20’s, bother me. And then there are the sets of brothers who die, anywhere from two to five in one family. When I started all this I was 32, just a pup who was going to live forever. I had seen very little real death. Now, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I know it is mortality coming to run me over. I have lost my parents, all my uncles, 4 out of 6 of my best friends, and I have known a bunch of parents who have lost children. I have a much better understanding of the Civil War death that I write about, and live with, everyday. When I work on all this hard for 3 or 4 days, it starts to get to me. Lewis Taylor Fant was in the University of Mississippi Class of 1862. He was from Holly Springs. He joined the University Greys that Spring of 1861, he was 19 years old. He fought through the battles of First Manassas, Seven Pines, Gaines Mill, Second Manassas, and Sharpsburg.
At Sharpsburg, on September 17, of 1862, Hood’s Division, including Law’s Brigade, containing the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, and the University Greys, was called to counter attack in the famous Cornfield, the bloodiest 40 acres in America. Twenty University Greys went into the meadow area below the Cornfield, and then on into the corn. They fought there for less than 30 minutes. Nineteen of the 20 Greys were wounded there that day. Three would later die of those wounds.
Lewis Taylor Fant was shot in the leg there in the Cornfield. He was captured and he had his leg amputated in a Union field hospital. He was quickly exchanged to Richmond. I knew from his service record that he had died in the hospital at Richmond, but no cause was given. I always guessed an infection killed him. A few years into my research, I was in the State Archives at Jackson going through the Record Group 9 box on the 11th Mississippi. In that box was a roster one of the Greys had typed out, from memory. He had made a few notes for some of the boys, under their names. That afternoon I found out how Fant died. His note said, “fell on the pavement at Richmond, died in 15 minutes from ruptured artery”. They had gotten him up on crutches and he fell. The artery must have retracted back up into the stump and they could not clamp it off. He bled to death, and he lay there and knew he was bleeding to death. I had a long ride back to Memphis that late afternoon.
Let me tell you about Lewis Taylor Fant’s brothers:
James (UM Class of 1858, UM Law Class of 1860) joined the 9th Mississippi, rose to Captain, was wounded at Munfordville, Kentucky in September of 1862, and resigned due to his wound.
Euclid was decapitated by a cannon ball at Knoxville in November of 1863, standing beside his first cousin.
Selden joined the 9th Mississippi with his brother, at age 15. He survived the War, only to die in the Yellow Fever of 1878. He stayed in town when most men fled. He worked as Secretary and Treasurer of the Relief Committee, until he was stricken with Yellow Fever.
Glenn was too young to fight in the War, he too died in the 1878 Yellow Fever. He too stayed in Holly Springs to help. He filled the place of the Express Agent when that man died. Glenn finally caught Yellow Fever and died too.
There you have the story of just one University Grey. I know the death stories of 49 other Greys, plus well over
one hundred other UM students and alumni, plus at least another hundred Lafayette County men who went to the Civil War. I know a fair amount about their families too, as you see above.
Now, maybe you know a little more about why their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and nieces put a few monuments up to them. Those monuments have nothing to do with slavery and everything to do with the incredible amount of loss those families endured.
The picture here is the University of Mississippi student body in the 1860 – 1861 school year. There they are, your fellow Alumni. Lewis Taylor Fant is probably there somewhere.
That is the old, 1848 Southeastern dorm behind them on the right. The building on the left is a double Professor’s residence. The young man on the far right is seated on one of the Lyceum step piers.
A little over 4 years after this picture was taken, 27% of those kids in that picture were dead. You think about that, and apply that percentage to 20,000 students at Ole Miss, in our last school year. What do you think we would do if 27% of those kids died? Can you envision a monument or two?
Miller Civil War Tours – Starke Miller
(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452, President Jefferson Davis Chapter Sons of Confederate Veterans, Military Order of the Stars and Bars, Volume 44, Issue #6, June 2020)
Old Douglas’s Memorial Marker, Cedar Hill Cemetery, Vicksburg, MS
(Almost) Confederate Camels
As preposterous as it seems, Jefferson Davis believed that camels would be beneficial to the army. While serving under President Franklin Pierce as Secretary of War, Davis devised a plan to mount cavalry troopers on camels. The reasoning behind it was to replace horses and mules in the southwest, which were dying in vast numbers because of dehydration. In an experiment encouraged by an enthusiastic public, the U. S. Army imported camels from Africa and the Middle East in 1856 for use in mounted operations in the Southwest. But when the animals arrived in Texas, differences between camels and horses became apparent. Loading and unloading the beasts took practice, and the camels’ loads often ended on the ground.
Because camels have good memories, they remember people better than horses do. So if a handler grew angry or irritated and mistreated one, the camel would later react by hissing, biting, and spitting at the man. Not only that, but camels have a unique aroma, which horses don’t generally take to. One soldier who had the misfortune of being assigned to care for the camels, James Washington “Okra” Walker, complained that the camels “seemed much given to malingering, held grudges for any perceived mistreatment, and had the habit of spitting on those they didn’t like. They also frightened the mules and horses and generally looked mighty out of place.”
Therefore, the horses would react to their new counterparts by bucking, rearing, and bolting. The camels proved adequate for desert country, but they “scared the daylights out of the horses” and the men who had to handle them. In one instance, 86 camels broke loose in Galveston, Texas, which threw the town into a tizzy.
Military leaders were confused about how to appropriately utilize the animals: should they be ridden, used to transport artillery pieces, or serve as pack animals? They decided on all three, and were also used for packing supplies on numerous boundary and road survey expeditions. More than 100 camels were imported by the government. Others were shipped for private use as livestock on farms and plantations.
In 1856, Robert E. Lee wanted to show his support for Jefferson Davis’ experiment, so he sent for two dozen camels from Africa. Known as “The Great Texas Camel Drive,” Charge d’ Affaire, Major Henry C. Wayne, gave the order on June 6, and the dromedaries were herded from Indianola, Texas to San Antonio, where Lee was stationed. Wherever Wayne decided to camp, the people of the area came to see the camels for themselves. The big hit of this free circus was usually the one lone baby camel. The camel caravan arrived on June 18, and a permanent home, Camp Verde, was established for them.
The camels, by performance, had proven themselves to be superior to horses and mules in the desert, but dreams of a U.S. camel cavalry, a true camel corps, faded as the dedicated men involved in the evaluation were divided by the Civil War.
However, one particular camel became a legend. In 1862, the 43rd Mississippi regiment acquired a camel. It is believed that the camel, which was nicknamed “Old Douglas,” was actually a privately-owned animal, and one of scores of camels who were privately imported and “broken to the plow.” Douglas was owned by the Hargrove family, and used on their plantation in Monroe (Lowndes) County, Mississippi. When his owner enlisted with the Confederate army, Douglas came along. First Lieutenant Hargrove of Company B gave Old Douglas to Colonel William Hudson Moore. The camel became the regimental mascot.
W. Cook of Helena, Arkansas, who served with the 43rd Mississippi, Company A, later wrote about the camel: “Col. Moore assigned Douglas to the regimental band, for whom he carried instruments and knapsacks. The camel’s first active service was with Gen. Price in the Iuka campaign. He was sent to the wagon train, and stampeded all the teams. There was only one horse in Little’s Division which would face Douglas at first, and that was Pompey, the little bay stallion belonging to Col. Moore, but it was not long till he was on intimate terms with all. His keeper would chain him to keep him from wandering off, but Douglas would sit back and snap any kind of chain, then proceed to graze at leisure, though never leaving the regiment or interfering with anything that did not interrupt him. When the regiment was ready to start, Douglas would be led up to the pile of things he was to carry, and his leader would say, ‘Pushay, Douglas,’ and he would gracefully drop to his knees and haunches and remain so till his load was adjusted and he was told to get up. His long, swinging gait was soon familiar with the entire command, and ours was called the ‘Camel Regiment.’”
Colonel Robert S. Bevier referred to Douglas as “a quiet peaceable fellow, and a general favorite” with the men. Because Douglas first served under General Price, he acquired the nickname, “Price’s camel.”
The horses of the command were afraid of the camel, [so Douglas’s] driver was instructed to stop just outside the camp when [the regiment] halted. But in a forced march toward Iuka, Miss., the command had halted just after dark, and the camel and driver got in the line of march before he knew it. The result was that a horse made a break with a fence rail attached to his halter, and running through the camp, he stampeded men and animals in every direction. Many men took [to] the trees or any other protection, and the panic spread through much of the brigade, and many men and animals were badly hurt, and one or two horses … were killed.
Douglas became part of the action at the Battle of Corinth under Major General Earl Van Dorn. On the second day of the battle, the camel’s owner, Colonel Moore, was killed.
In early 1863, the 43rd was ordered to Vicksburg, Mississippi, serving under Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton. On that hot, humid afternoon of June 27, 1863, Douglas stood silently, observing the battle from a grassy hill safely behind the lines, a little north of his unit’s third redoubt … It was 3 P.M when a rebel soldier at the third redoubt repeated a cry: “Douglas has been shot!”
The news traveled through the trenches like a brushfire. Then someone yelled, “Murderers! Yankee murderers!”
Douglas was shot by a Union sharpshooter while the animal was grazing,” reported J.W. Cook. “The Confederates shot back, but their rifles were just out of range. The Yankee proceeded to mock the Confederates just out of range. However, other rifles were brought in … and the next time the Yankee showed himself to mock the Confederates, a Southern sharpshooter put a bullet between his eyes causing him to fly backwards onto his back. Douglas was avenged.” Colonel Bevier enlisted six of his best snipers to successfully shoot the culprit. Bevier later said, “I refused to hear his name, and was rejoiced to learn that he had been severely wounded.”
Descendants of the soldiers were told that, following Douglas’ death, the Confederates decided the best thing to do (since they were all starving) was to put his carcass to good use, so they carved camel steaks and had a feast. When the Union Army finally gained control of Vicksburg, Yankee soldiers entered the city, passing by the remains of Douglas. According to one Illinois soldier, “…our sharpshooters had killed ‘Price’s Camel’ used as a pack animal by the Confederates. His skeleton was picked up and his bones made into finger rings and other ornaments and sold to curiosity hunters from the North. When the supply was exhausted, the bones of cattle slain for beef were substituted, the souvenir fiend being fully satisfied they were part of ‘Price’s Camel.’”
Douglas was buried near members of his regiment with full military honors.
Once the Civil War ended, military personnel lost interest in pursuing the use of camels, and abandoned the idea of a camel corps. Unionists took control of Camp Verde in March 1866, and sold off the animals to the highest bidders102 to be employed in circuses, zoos, traveling menageries, and mines. Others were turned loose in the desert and, presumably, hunted down and eaten by Comanches who were not particular about their diet. Some of the camels were used in Austin’s Mardi Gras parade. The King of the Carnival’s float was drawn by 32 camels, and each one was lead by a costumed freed slave holding a lighted torch.
After Major Henry Wayne was released from prison, he was awarded the First Class Medal of Honor from the Societe Imperiale Zoologique a-Acclimination de Paris for his efforts and achievements with the camels. It is believed that the last descendant of the army’s camels was seen in an Arizona desert in 1941. However, some people claim to have seen camels roaming remote areas of Texas, Arizona, and California to this day. The last captive offspring of a government camel, Topsy, died in the Griffith Park Zoo in Los Angeles in 1934.
In 1995, founder Doug Baum established the Texas Camel Corps, whose mission is to promote stories of camels that were used during the Civil War. On April 12 and 13, 2011, Vicksburg National Military Park hosted “Douglas the Camel,” a dromedary reenactor. After giving a presentation about the use of camels during the Civil War, Douglas, along Doug Baum, who is his handler and a U.S. Camel Corps re-enactor, visited a local school.