J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Tennessee”

In Honor of NBF

Today is the birthday of the renowned and controversial general of the Confederacy, Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was born on this date in 1821, and died on October 29, 1877. Recently, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the general’s gravesite. He was removed from Forrest Park (renamed Health Sciences Park) along with his wife, Mary Ann. The remains of these two are in the process of being relocated. Here is an update:

NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST 

July 13, 1821 – October 29, 1877

FORREST REINTERNMENT  ANNOUNCED 

Announcement from Commander-in-Chief Larry McCluney, Jr. 

June 30, 2021 

Compatriots, 

It gives me great pleasure to announce that  Saturday, September 18, 2021, will be the date for  the reinternment of the remains General Nathan  Bedford Forrest and his wife MaryAnn Montgomery  Forrest. Please make plans to attend. All reenactors  and participants will be required to register for this  event and follow the strict guidelines that will be  forthcoming.  

I want to congratulate Lee Miller and the Recovery  Crew, and the members of the Nathan Bedford  Forrest Camp #215 in Memphis, TN and the legal  team of H. Edward Phillips III, Charles G. Blackard  III, W. J. “Bo” Ladner III, and Jonathan J. Pledger,  on a job well done. We also thank the Forrest Family  for allowing us to take part in this momentous  occasion and organizing the funeral proceedings.  Bear in mind that we are grateful for all that has  happened up to this point, and we know much more  must be done. 

As to the human side, the remains of General and  Mrs. Forrest are held in an undisclosed location and  later will be transported to an undisclosed location  in Middle Tennessee. These sites will be kept in  secrecy for security reasons as it is our utmost duty  to protect the family, the professionals and work  crews involved, as well as the SCV and its members. 

Let us always keep in mind that we are honored by the Forrest Family to participate in this solemn  occasion. Please do not follow or spread rumors  about this event. We will update you as plans are  finalized. Fundraising still continues as we raise  money for the re-interment of General Forrest and  his beloved wife. Please give to make this event  happen as we bring one of our heroes’ home to be  buried on land less than 30 minutes from where he  was born. You can send donations to: 

Make checks out to: 

Sons of Confederate Veterans 

(Put in memo: Forrest Reinterment) 

P.O. Box 59 

Columbia, TN 38402 

Once the funeral is complete, restoring the plaza  and remounting the Forrest Equestrian Statue on  the grave will occur. This will not be easy nor quick.  Much more work lay ahead of us, however, be  certain that we will rededicate this plaza to honor  the General and his family.  

Please be patient with us as you and the entire  membership will be informed once all plans are  finalized. A website will be forthcoming with all  details and information. For now, let us “walk a little  prouder and hold our heads higher” in this great  victory! God has truly vindicated us in this effort. Let  us remember the charge given to us by General  Stephen Dill Lee as we continue to press forward. 

Deo Vindice, 

Larry McCluney, Jr. 

Commander-in-Chief 

Sons of Confederate Veterans

Desecration at its Worst

Empty Crypts of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Mary Ann Forrest

As you may know, the city of Memphis, Tennessee deemed that one of their long-time historical figures had to be removed. This figure is General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who actually saved the city during the Civil War. Although he has always been a controversial figure, he has been considered to be a strategical genius in the art of warfare. He lived most of his life in the Memphis area, and died there as well. Prior to his death, his ex-slaves revered him; so much so that they even fought for the Confederacy under his command. Forrest did much in his later years to reunite racial relations in the city.

General Forrest requested that he be buried in Elmwood Cemetery near his four brothers, who all served in the Confederate cavalry. As per his instructions, he was buried in Elmwood in 1877. However, his son, William, gave the consent for his father and mother’s remains to be moved about one and a half miles to Forrest Park in 1904. This was during a saner time when Memphis actually acknowledged Forrest for his acheivements and revered him by building a park named after him and placing a beautiful statue of him over the tombs of him and his wife.

Fast forward to 2021. The name of the park has been changed to Health Sciences Park. The statue was removed a few years prior and placed in storage. And last week, the bodies of Forrest and his wife, Mary Ann, were exhumed. Here is a letter from SCV Commander Larry McCluney, Jr., explaining upcoming events.

⭐Announcement: Forrest Remains Recovered!

June 11, 2021

Compatriots, It gives me great pleasure to announce that recovery of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest’s remains have been recovered from their former gravesite in Memphis. I want to congratulate Lee Millar, the men on the Recovery Crew, and the members of the Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp #215 in Memphis, TN and the legal team of H. Edward Phillips III, Chuck Blackard, III, W. J. “Bo” Ladner, III, and Jonathan J. Pledger, on a job well done. We also thank the Forrest Family for allowing us to take part in this momentous occasion. The remains are held in an undisclosed location and later will be transported to an undisclosed location in Middle Tennessee. These sites will be kept in secrecy for security reasons.

Now we enter the next phase, the planning for the funeral. Fundraising still continues as we raise money for the reinternment of General Forrest and his beloved wife. Please give to make this event happen as we bring one of our heroes home to be buried on land less than 30 minutes from where he was born. Let us always keep in mind that we are honored by the Forrest Family to participate in this solemn occasion. NO we do not have a date set yet, once the committee has finish all the details, then we will be making an announcement so you can make plans to attend.

Once the funeral is complete, then phase three; restoring the plaza and remounting the equestrian statue on the grave will occur. This will not be easy nor quick. Once complete we will rededicate this plaza to honor the General.

Please be patient with us as you and the entire membership will be informed once the date is secured. For now, let us “walk a little prouder and hold our heads higher” in this great victory! God has truly vindicated us in this effort. Let us remember the charge given to us by General Stephen Dill Lee as we continue to press forward.

Deo Vindicie,

Larry McCluney, Jr.

Commander-in-Chief

Sons of Confederate Veterans

Forrest Park in Happier Times

Here is another letter written by H.K. Edgerton, who was previously the president of the NAACP and now advocates for the Confederacy by dressing in uniform and traveling around the country giving speeches to explain the Southern cause and the existence of black Confederates.

Dateline: June 16, 2021 Subject: Open Report – Monument Protection by HK Edgerton

When the Honorable Gary Johnson and I attended the Young Republican Party meeting in Pell City, AL several months ago, I was elated to hear Alabama State Rep. Mike Holmes talk about strengthening monument protection laws from just a one time fine of $25,000 to a daily fine until any and all damages are repaired and the monument has been replaced in its original position. Punishment for vandalization or illegal removal was now front and center. This is something that is lacking in the monument protection laws in my home state of North Carolina where criminals are scourging our treasured relics without fear of real punishment from the law; even the elected demigods are placing themselves above the law…Silent Sam at the University of NC – Chapel Hill and the Vance Monument in the City of Asheville, NC

Fast forwarding to the Great State of Florida which is grappling with a monument protection law; a lobbyist and former lt. governor Jeff Kottkamp in a conference call did one better than Alabama: (a) proposing to make it a second degree felony for damage or unlawful removal, (b) the withholding of federal or state funds from municipalities of those elected demigods who place themselves above the law with no expectations of retribution for their unlawful actions. The only part of his presentation that I did not understand was tacking on a proposed education component to his bill. I was thrilled when he made it clear that this protection law would include all things Confederate.

However, my concern has and will continue to be the changing of the nations attitude towards those of us born in the states of the Confederacy who are continually treated as the scum of America. Our children are forced fed the lie that the war made against the Southern people was to end the economic institution of slavery. The Southern white man made a grand stand against so many unlawful acts of tyranny and a stand for the lawful act of secession. Daily our children are forced fed the false narrative that this illegal invader from the North came to our homeland to end slavery; with his hand still firmly around the African’s neck, never presenting the love, caring, and continuous acts to move the Africans towards social and vertical mobility as the Southern white man tried to do and was stopped to this very day, the one and only man on God’s earth who ever truly loved the African people.

God bless my dear brother and friend, the Honorable Fred C. Morse III of Austin, TX (1946 – 2021) who went to his celestial home to be with the Almighty God whose face carries a big smile to see a man of this world who He can look at and say, “Well done, my son!”

Your brother, HK Edgerton

I have mixed feelings about removing the general and his wife. I feel it is an atrocity that the city of Memphis pushed to have the bodies removed in the first place. Talk about disrespectful! Their claim is because of racism, but is it really? Or is it Marxism? It’s my understanding that it is a Federal offense to tamper with a grave, especially that of a military officer. I’m not sure about moving the bodies to the new SCV facility in Tennessee. Personally, I think the bodies should have been returned to Elmwood Cemetery. I understand the controversy, because I’m sure vandals would have attacked there as well. What is your take on all of this? I’d be happy to read your comments. Thanks so much.

More Disturbing Events Eradicating American History

IN THE OLD DOMINION
At the urging of NAACP Vice President Robert Ashton Jr., King George County Board of Supervisors met behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss removing a Confederate memorial from the lawn of the county’s Courthouse.
When they returned to public session, Chairwoman Annie Cupka directed staff “to determine the cost of relocation and to work with community groups to raise the necessary funding.”

ALSO IN VIRGINIA

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit to protect the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond on Tuesday, June 8, beginning at 9:00 a.m. 


Jesse Binnall, the attorney who filed an amicus brief on behalf of the MOS&B in the Taylor case, gave the following links that you will need if you wish to hear the oral arguments. 


Timing: http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/scv/bschedule.pdf


There are two cases to be reviewed. The Taylor case was filed by the heirs of the donors of the property upon which the Lee Monument now stands. The Gregory case was filed by residents of the neighborhood. The defendant in both cases is the governor of Virginia. 


Visit this website to learn how to tune in if you wish to listen: 
http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/scv/home.html


IN THE VOLUNTEER STATE

On Tuesday, black activist-turned-“elected”-official Tami Sawyer gloated to media as City workers desecrated the grave of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, digging up his remains from a Memphis park.

(Courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, June 4, 2021 ed.)

Guest Post by Lewis Regenstein

As you know, I frequently feature other authors on my blog; Mr. Regenstein sets the record straight on how important ancestry is. With all the attacks on Confederate heritage these days, I wanted to share his perspective. I hope you enjoy this article.

Rebel

The Last Order of the Lost Cause

Speech By Lewis Regenstein

To Washington, GA Civil War Roundtable        

26 February, 2007

I am deeply honored  to be here today  in this wonderful town of Washington, and I thank you for the chance to speak before such a distinguished group of people. Claibourne has warned me that some of you all are extremely knowledgeable about the War Between the States, and to be careful not to make any mistakes because I will surely get caught and be called on it.  So please go easy on me. 

Before I begin I’d like to emphasize that while I am very proud of my ancestors, I‘m not bragging about anything.  I can  claim no personal distinction for their heroism, which reflects what was common among the hopelessly outnumbered, outsupplied but not outfought Confederate troops, something in which we all take much pride. 

Our ancestors often ran low on food, ammunition, and other supplies, but never on courage.

 I write and talk about all this because I am proud of our heritage and committed to helping keep its memory alive and honored, amidst the ongoing campaign to rewrite history and discredit the valor and honor of the Confederate soldiers and their Cause. I know that no one here today needs educating on this issue.

Here in Washington, some very historic events have taken place, one of them involving one of my ancestors, and I’d like to talk a little about that today. 

 I am very proud that my great grandfather, Andrew Jackson Moses, Jr, of Sumter, S.C., and his four brothers fought for the Confederacy, and Major Raphael Jacob Moses was their uncle, [having married Eliza Moses, the sister of the Moses brothers’ father, Andrew Jackson Moses, Sr.] 

We know first hand, from their letters, diaries, and memoirs, that they and their compatriots were not fighting for slavery, as is so often alleged. They were trying to defend themselves and their comrades, their families,  homes, and country from an often cruel invading army that was trying to kill them, burn their homes and cities, and destroy everything they had. 

Raphael Moses was a fifth generation South Carolinian who in 1849 moved to Columbus, Georgia, where he was a lawyer, planter, and owner of a plantation he named “Esquiline.” Moses’ English ancestors came to America during colonial days, one of them being  his great, great grandfather  Dr. Samuel Nunez, fleeing the Inquisition.  He is credited with saving the newly-established, mosquito-infested colony of Savannah, Georgia from being wiped out in 1733 by a “fever,” then  thought to be yellow fever but which was probably malaria.

Before the War, Moses pioneered the commercial growing of peaches and plums in Georgia, so it could thus be said that he is a major reason Georgia is called The Peach State. Moses is reputed to have been the first planter to ship and sell peaches outside of the South, in 1851, before there was any through connection by railroad. James C. Bonner’s “A History of Georgia Agriculture, 1732-1860,” credits Moses with being the first to succeed in preserving the flavor of shipped peaches, by packing them in a champagne baskets instead of pulverized charcoal.

Moses knew well and wrote in his memoirs about General Robert E. Lee (whom  he was with at Gettysburg) and other major Confederate figures Lee’s Lieutenants. The renowned Douglas Southall Freeman, in his authoritative work called Moses “…the best commissary officer of like rank in the Confederate service.”

As General James Longstreet’s chief commissary officer, Moses participated in many of the major battles in the East, and was responsible for supplying and feeding up to 54,000 troops, porters, and other non-combatants. General Lee had forbidden him from entering private homes in search of supplies in raids into Union territory (such as the incursions into Pennsylvania), even when food and other provisions were in  painfully short supply.  

Moses always paid for what he took from farms and businesses, albeit in Confederate tender.

Often while seizing supplies, Moses encountered considerable hostility and abuse from the local women, which he always endured in good humor, and it became a source of much teasing from his fellow officers. 

Moses always acted honorably, compassionately, and as a gentleman. Once, when a distraught woman approached Moses and pleaded for the return of her pet heifer that had been caught up in a cattle  seizure, he graciously acceded.

The contrast is striking between the humane Confederate policies and those of the North.  Union generals Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan regularly burned and looted homes, farms, courthouses, churches, libraries, and entire cities full of civilians, such as Atlanta and Columbia, South Carolina, and most everything of value in between, later engaging in the mass  slaughtering of Native Americans in the West, largely old men, women, and children in their villages, in what we euphemistically call “The Indian Wars.”

Moses’ memoirs contain some very interesting observations on the Battle of Gettysburg. “…We lost the battle,” laments Moses, “and then came the retreat; the rain poured down in floods that night ! I laid down in a fence corner and near by on the bare earth in an India rubber [tarp] lay General Lee biding the pelting storm.”

In his memoirs, Moses reveals that “General Longstreet did not wish to fight the Battle of Gettysburg. He wanted to go around the hill, but Lee objected on account of our long wagon and artillery trains.” Longstreet, as historian Ed Bearss notes, “knew what muskets in the hands of determined troops could do,” and  felt that the Union forces, holding the high ground, would have the same advantage over his forces that the Confederates had over the Federals at Fredericksburg. If his  advice had been taken, it could have changed the course of the War. 

But Lee rejected Longstreet’s recommendation to swing his troops around the heights, and instead ordered the attack on the center of the Union forces at Cemetery Hill, saying  of the Yankees, “I will whip them here, or they will whip me.” Honorable as always, after the battle Lee took responsibility for the disaster, saying “All this has been my fault.” Longstreet, feeling that the ground fought over had no military value, called that day “the saddest of my life.” Shelby Foote calls Lee’s decision “The mistake of all mistakes.”

Interestingly, the entire battle might have been avoided and the course of the war changed if Longstreet’s forces had not been forced to wait for their reinforcements to arrive. Moses  says that if the Confederates had not been delayed near Cash Town  for over a day waiting for General Richard Stoddert Ewell’s wagon train of supplies, “…I do know that we could have marched easily from Chambersburg to Gettysburg, in a day, and been there before the Union troops.” 

Moses’ three sons also fought for the South, and one was killed at Seven Pines in May, 1862 after performing acts of amazing valor – Lt. Albert Moses Luria, the first Jewish Confederate to fall in battle. 

He was killed at age nineteen after courageously  throwing a live Union artillery shell out of his fortification before it exploded, thereby saving the lives of many of his compatriots.

(The last Confederate Jew to be killed was Major Moses’ nephew, Joshua Lazarus Moses, of Sumter, South Carolina, the brother of my great grandfather. Josh was killed in the battle of Fort Blakeley, Alabama, a few hours after Lee surrendered, commanding the guns  firing the last shots in defense of Mobile. In this battle, Josh’s brothers Perry and Horace were respectively wounded and captured.

RUNNING OUT OF FOOD

Prior to Virginia’s  Battle of the Wilderness in May, 1864, Moses was having more and more difficulty obtaining supplies, since farmers were refusing to sell their crops because of increasing speculation over prices. Moses decided to travel to Georgia, his major source of supplies, to talk to the farmers:  [“It occurred to me, that if I could go to  Georgia and speak to the people who had sons, brothers, relatives and friends suffering for food, that I could get supplies.” Moses asked General Lee for a furlough to go there and loosen up the pipeline, and Lee replied,  “Major, I would approve it but really we can’t spare you, you know.” But when Moses explained his plans, Lee responded, “Well, Major, if you think you can do anything for my poor boys, go and may God crown you effort with success.”]

When he arrived in Georgia in mid-1864,  Moses found few willing and able to help out.[ In his memoirs, he recalled a meeting where he spoke at Temperance Hall in Columbus:

There were about thirty persons present…When I last spoke at this hall, it was to urge the people of Columbus to send their sons and brothers to confront the hazards of war to redress their country’s wrongs. The house was full from pit to gallery with patriotic citizens ready for the sacrifices asked. Now I come from those near and dear to the people here to appeal to them for bread, for the starving Army, and I am confronted by empty benches…

Travelling next to southwest Georgia, Moses was “met there with a very different spirit and had a very successful trip.”] But while there, the Confederate Commissary for the state died, and Moses was appointed  to fill the post. 

Still, the pressures on Moses to obtain and distribute supplies of food remained relentless, and towards the end of the War, the situation had become  desperate. 

THE FINAL DAYS

Moses’ account of those final, chaotic days after Lee’s surrender is filled with stories of heroism and heartbreak, humor and tragedy. (There are many conflicting accounts of this era; what follows is from Moses’ recollections.)

With the defeat of the Confederate forces, the capital of Richmond was abandoned in April, 1865, and the senior government officials and their staff  headed south, avoiding Union forces, and ending up in Georgia. 

Moses tells of  Mrs. Jefferson Davis awaiting her husband in Washington, Georgia, where he arrived accompanied by his cabinet and “a train containing gold and silver bullion.” 

Moses writes, 

shortly before [General  Joseph E.] Johnston’s surrender, I was ordered to Washington, Wilkes County. Soon after, Davis and his cabinet arrived there. Mrs. Davis met her husband in Washington.  A train containing gold and silver bullion accompanied the cabinet. It was brought from Richmond banks. I was staying with General Toombs… I remember seeing General [ Braxton] Bragg waiting under an oak tree to get his $20.00.

I received an order from General  Johnston to provide 250,000 rations at Augusta for the returning soldiers…and there arrange as best I could with general Mollyneux [Molineux] who then occupied Augusta with Federal troops, to protect me in furnishing the troops as they passed through Augusta and to provide for the sick and wounded in hospitals.

One of Moses’ stories describes the close escape from arrest by the Yankees of his close friend, and resident of this area,  General Robert A. Toombs, a leading Georgia planter who served as the South’s first Secretary of State.

Moses was in Washington with his son Israel Moses Nunez, called “Major,” when, he writes,  “…a cavalry man rode up coming from [War Secretary] Breckenbrige [sic] and threw over the fence a sack containing $5,000 in gold for his [Toombs’] personal use”:

He [Toombs] handed it to Major and told him to buy corn and provisions with it and distribute it among the returning soldiers as they passed through Washington, and my son did so use it…

Shortly afterwards, Moses continues, “the government came to arrest [Toombs], and my son Major  met the officer between the gate and the house, while [Toombs] escaped out of the back way, mounted his horse, donned  blue spectacles and after many hair-breath escapes, fled to foreign parts, where his wife followed, and he lived with her some time in Paris.”

THE LAST ORDER OF THE LOST CAUSE

About three weeks after the war’s end, as chief commissary for Georgia, Moses carried out what is reputed to have been the last order of the Confederacy. It involved safeguarding and delivering the Confederate treasury’s last $40,000 of silver and/or gold bullion (perhaps $750,000 today).

(Although the accounts are contradictory and confusing, it appears that Moses  paid $10,000 to the Quartermaster-General in Washington [according to Avery, p. 326], and carried $30,000 in bullion to Augusta.)

Carrying out the order was no easy task, amidst the anarchy of defeat, orderly government and military discipline having collapsed, and lawless mobs of unruly, sometimes drunken former soldiers searching desperately for food and money.

[“The Memoirs of Jefferson Davis,” written by his wife, contain a letter written to Davis several years after the war by Acting Secretary of Treasury, describing how he “directed him [an acting treasurer] to turn the silver bullion over to Major Moses, as it was too bulky and heavy to be managed by us in our then condition; and I saw Moses putting it in a warehouse in Washington [Georgia] before I left there. I also directed him to burn the Confederate notes in the presence of General Breckinridge and myself.]

The Acting Treasurer, Captain M.H. Clark of Clarksville, Tennessee, described the disposition of the Confederate bullion in a 13 January, 1882 interview with the “Louisville Courier Journal”:

Before reaching town [Washington, Georgia], I was halted by Major R.J. Moses, to turn over to him the specie [coins] which president Davis, before he left, ordered to be placed at the disposal of the Commissary Department, to feed the paroled soldiers and stragglers passing through, to prevent their burdening a section already stripped of supplies. I turned over to Major Moses the wagons and silver bullion, and all of the escort except about ten men.

The government’s final order was  handed down at its last  meeting, held  in Washington, Wilkes County, Georgia on 4 May, 1865, which  according to Moses, was attended, among others,  by President Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge, and Major  Moses. (It is unclear who actually attended the meeting, with some accounts saying that Breckinridge  arrived after Davis departed.)

And then, as “Confederate Veteran” observes, “…at last, in the old Heard House in Washington, on Georgia soil, the Southern Confederacy ceased to exist and passed into history.” 

That Last Order, dated 5 May, 1865,  reads as follows: 

Major R.J. Moses, will pay $10,000, the amount of bullion appropriated to Q.M. [quartermaster] Dept. by Sec. War to Maj. R.R. Wood. By order of Q.M. Gen.

[signed] W.F. Alexander, Maj. And Asst. to Q.M. Gen., 5 May, 1865, Washington

But the Confederacy did not die a quiet death. “By early may, 1865, realizing the war was lost, the major units of the Confederate Army had surrendered,”  author Mel Young writes in “Last Order of the Lost Cause,” the authoritative published account for this historic event. 

“Individual Confederate soldiers, groups of soldiers, and small units were trying to walk, ride, or move in groups back to their homes. They were in tattered uniforms, hungry and mostly penniless. Confederate General [Joseph E. ] Johnston, requested of President Davis that 250,000 rations be obtained to be distributed to these discharged soldiers. 

In accepting this responsibility, Moses, now 53 years old,  showed the usual courage and tenacity for which he was known. Facing down a turbulent mob of former Confederates who intercepted and threatened to storm his train  in Barnett, Georgia, Moses  successfully carried out the  order to deliver the remaining Confederate gold bullion to  help and provision the troops struggling to get back home, 

In his classic work, “The History of the State of Georgia, from 1850-1881,” I.W. Avery describes the  situation thusly:

Major Moses had a stirring time with his perilous treasure. It was,      of course, known immediately that he had it in his possession. The war had unhinged men’s ideas and principles. But still more demoralizing of the public conscience was the desperate stress of the people, coupled with the knowledge that the Confederate cause was dead, and that this specie was ownerless and a probable treasure trove and booty for the Federal soldiery. Maj. Moses, with punctilious honor, was resolved to part with it only with his life and to deliver it according to orders in fulfillment of its kindly mission.

Moses biggest problem was protecting the bullion in his charge  from unruly soldiers: “The town was full of stragglers, cavalry men who had just been paid $20.00 each. They had arms but no consciences, and the little taste they had of specie provoked their appetites…” 

Moses writes in his memoirs that  General Robert Toombs gave me the names of ten of the Washington Artillery, all gentlemen well known to him”:

I agreed to pay them $10.00 each in gold to guard it that night and go with me to Augusta. I then took a squad of them and destroyed all the liquor I could find in the shops. I then got part of a keg of powder and put it in a wooden building that was unoccupied and put the boxes of bullion in the same room, placed my guard outside and around the building, and gave out that I had laid a train of powder to the outside, and if the guard was forced, the train would be fired. 

The next morning, Moses had the bullion loaded onto a train filled with some 200 soldiers and “29 cavalry men”, and when the train  was just outside of its destination of Barnett, the trouble started:

…the conductor, a nice old man, came to our car and said, “Major, from the talk I reckon the boys are going to ‘charge’ your car when we reach Barnett.” Charge meant to attack it and take the specie and divide it among themselves….I held a council with my guard, and I told them that if they would stand by me, keep cool, fire (and reload) through an opening we would make in the doors, I thought we could successfully defend the car, but they were not ready to do this, we would be overcome. 

They consulted together, and I was afraid they  would conclude “To join the Cavalry,” but they finally said, “We will stand by you as long as there is a chance to save the specie.”

Avery writes that “These desperate men, a reckless mob, coolly demanded the money, as being as much theirs as anyone’s, and they were armed to enforce the demand.”

Showing amazing courage, Moses then went out “among the men, who were as thick as blackbirds,” and told them that “every dollar of the bullion would be devoted to feeding their fellow soldiers, and caring for the wounded in the hospitals at Augusta…that they might killed me and my guard, but they would be killing men in the discharge of a duty in behalf of their comrades ! That if they killed us, it would be murder, while if we killed any of them in defending the bullion, which we certainly should endeavor to do, we would be justified, because the killing would be in self defense and in a discharge of a sacred duty.”

When two soldiers in the crowd spoke up and vouched for Moses, “the crowd began to disperse,” but unfortunately, the train he was meeting was over an hour late. “…the billows of the seas rise and fall when disturbed by the winds, and this restless crowd at the depot would surge and press up against the door of my box[car] trying to get in, and I would have to threaten them and appeal.”

Avery writes, in a page titled “Attempted Rape of the Bullion,”  that “Major Moses remonstrated quietly and argumentatively with the menacing men surrounding him, and appealed to their honor and patriotism and stated his orders. At length it is seemed nothing could avert the ravishment of this specie.”

“At last, the storm seemed to be subsiding,” writes Moses, when a fellow officer warned him that some men were about to charge his boxcar, led by a young man from Tennessee with a wound on his cheek. Again showing remarkable courage, Moses approached the man and said to him,  “You appear to be a gentleman and bear an honorable wound”:

I then read my orders to him, explained my position, and how trying it was to be forced perhaps to take life and lose my own in the performance of a duty that I could not voluntarily avoid. I told him I had a guard and some friends in the crowd, but we would be outnumbered unless I could enlist men like himself in our behalf. ..

I said, “I appeal to you in the spirit of that honor that belongs to all brave men, to assist me in the discharge of this trust.”

He seemed embarrassed, but said, “I don’t think you will have any further trouble,” and I did not. 

Finally, Moses and his men were able to catch the train to Augusta and  deliver the goods, obtaining a receipt for the delivered bullion from  Major and Quartermaster R.R. Wood dated  5 May, 1865.

“The Atlanta Journal” of 6 February, 1927, in an article entitled “Last official Writing of the Southern Confederacy,” reproduced this receipt, calling it “…the last official writing ever issued by the Confederate administration”:

          It is as historic a curiosity as the world affords, this last 

flicker of a mammoth revolution. Such thoughts cluster around it as would make a grand epic…the paper thus testifying to the honesty and promptness of the disbursing officer of a great shattered government – an administration gone down hopelessly in a grand ruin. 

[The complete story is told in Mel Young’s Last Order of the Lost Cause, and  Robert Rosen’s authoritative, The Jewish Confederates, and originally in I.W. Avery’s “History of the State of Georgia from 1850-1881.]

In his memoirs, Moses wrote: “I have never turned my back on an enemy that was attacking me, or failed to forgive one as soon as he cried for quarter. I can also say that I never deserted a friend…”

 And the Atlanta Journal in 1928 summed up Moses’ career thusly: “At the beginning of the war, although overage, he hastened to the defense of his beloved Southland, offering his fortune, his service, his sons – everything save his honor – a willing sacrifice on the altar of his country.”

After the war, Raphael Moses became an outspoken critic of the Reconstruction government in Georgia, calling its members “spies, carpetbaggers, a class of politicians, men without character who came from the North in swarms seeking whom they might devour.”  He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives and was named  chairman of the Judiciary Committee

On 3 April, 1867, Robert E. Lee, then President of Washington and Lee university in Lexington, Virginia, wrote to Moses asking him, and other prominent men of the South, to help heal the wounds of a divided nation.

Moses remained a loyal Confederate until the very end. When he  died in 

1893, his calling card still read, “Major Raphael J. Moses, C.S.A.”

 Moses and his fellow soldiers  typified many of the brave, beleaguered Confederates who honorably served their country, facing overwhelming, indeed hopeless odds, with loyalty and valor. That terrible war ended fourteen decades ago, but the memory of those  soldiers should never be forgotten. 

Thank you again for the opportunity to discuss and remember some of those events here with you today. 

Lewis Regenstein <regenstein@mindspring.com>, a Native Atlantan, is descended on his Mother’s side  from the Moses family of Georgia and South Carolina, whose patriarch, Myer Moses, participated in the American Revolution..

Almost three dozen members of the extended family fought for the Confederacy, and participated in most of the major battles and campaigns of the War. At least nine of them, largely teenagers,  died in defense of their homeland, and included the first and last Confederate Jews to fall in battle. 

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

In honor of the special holiday, I’d like to share this article. Erin go bragh!

soldier

IRISH REGIMENTS OF THE WAR

Memphis, Tennessee was home to the 2nd largest Irish population in the South, and on the outbreak of War, many rushed to the state colors. Colonel Knox Walker was in command of 2nd TN Infantry Regt, a.k.a. “Irish Regiment”. Early uniforms made by the ladies of the city consisted of a dark, 8 button frock coat, trousers and kepi. The men would carry flintlock or conversion muskets. On completion of basic training the 2nd was sent to Columbus, Kentucky, where they would assist in the construction of water batteries before seeing their first  action at Belmont, Missouri on November 7, 1861.

Irish

1862 would see the Tennessee Irish back in their adopted state and at Shiloh. The regiment took extremely heavy casualties, so much so that it would necessitate consolidation with the 21st TN (also Memphis origin with a large Irish contingent). The new unit would be designated as the 5th Confederate Infantry Regiment and it would go on to establish a reputation as one of the western army’s most reliable regiments and become a favorite of Major-General Patrick Cleburne. The autumn of 1862 would see the 5th acting as escort for General Bragg’s Pioneer Corps during the Kentucky campaign. They were released from this duty and participated at the Battle of Perryville, where they traded shots with the 10th Ohio, a Federal Irish unit. The action between these Irishmen was severe with the Federals having the upper hand. Despite running low on ammunition (the 5th was twice resupplied) the Confederate Irish continually refused to yield and were, eventually, joined by the 37th Tennessee and then by Gen. Cleburne leading his brigade onto the field securing the victory.

By the end of 1862 the regiment had, again, returned to Tennessee and Murfreesboro before going into winter quarters at Tullahoma and then Wartrace. Chickamauga in September 1863 would, once again, see the regiment’s high rate of attrition continue with Captains James Beard & George Moore among the fallen. Even though not part of his brigade, Gen. D.H. Hill was high in his praise for the Memphis Irish. Onto Missionary Ridge and again against overwhelming odds the regiment held until, finding themselves isolated, the 5th finally gave way. Gen. Cleburne used them at Ringgold Gap and his strategic placement of the regiment helped save the Southern army.

The following year would see the regiment involved in virtually all the engagements of the Army of Tennessee from Resaca in May through to Nashville in December even though it was now numbered less than 170 muskets. At Atlanta, these would be reduced further when a large number of them were taken prisoner after a ferocious struggle. Indeed, the remnants of the regiment became disjointed in heavy woodland near Peach-tree Creek. As Lt. Beard and Corporal Coleman emerged onto the road from the woods just as Gen. James B. McPherson and his staff were approaching. Corporal Coleman quickly fired off a round at the Federals, hitting and instantly killing Gen. McPherson. The Confederates were soon taken prisoner and, eventually arrived in Utica, allegedly as the General’s body got there. Corporal Coleman’s comrades later spoke of the young man’s distress and regret at his impulsiveness.

November 30, 1864 would see the 5th Confederate Regiment at Franklin where it formed part of Granbury’s brigade. Gen. Cleburne, however, sought them out and placing himself at their head, he would lead their charge to the Federal breastworks around the small Middle-Tennessee town. Like the general, many would fall. indeed Pvt. Richard “Dick” Cahill’s body was found inside the works with at least 4 bayonet wounds through his head the following morning. Later on, December 1 1864, just 21 men from the 5th would answer the roll. Within 2 weeks, overwhelming Federal numbers would force an overall Southern retreat from before Nashville; it would not be easy for many of the soldiers were barefoot, clad in rags and faced with constant harassment from pursuing Federal cavalry. They would finally reach Corinth, Mississippi before being sent to North Carolina.

 

Fredericksburg

Here just before the Battle of Bentonville, the remaining members of the 5th would again be joined with other units to form Co. I, Consolidated Tennessee Infantry. When Gen. Johnston surrendered his army on April 26, 1865, just 10 soldiers of the 5th Confederate Infantry Regiment laid down their muskets.

5th Confederate Flag Sources:”Military Annals of Tennessee”; C.W. Frazer “Irish-American Units of The Civil War”; T. Rodgers “The Confederate Army 1861 TN & NC: R. Field

Irish in Blue & Gray, # 44; Spring 2019

(Courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans, President Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars, vol. 44, issue #2, Feb. 2020 ed.)

Erasing History Keeps Going

But who does it benefit, really? I mean, seriously, eradicating Confederate statues that have been in place for over 100 years is suddenly the “in” thing to do. I feel bad for all the descendants who see their ancestors’ monuments being taken down because the statues suddenly offend a few. And yet, the stupid keep taking them down, regardless of taking into consideration what has happened in other countries when they did this same exact thing. Stupid is as stupid does, I guess.
forrest
PROBABLY NEVER COMING BACK
Now that the Tennessee Supreme Court has avoided its Constitutional duty, the nonprofit that “owns” the Confederate monuments removed from Memphis’ parks, Memphis Greenspace, will be able to act with impunity.
While they’re not sure, we suspect they are trying to sell the statues … Whoever they sell to, will no doubt have to promise that they will never be returned to Shelby County.
“Whomever takes the monuments, our restriction would be that the monuments can never cross Shelby County lines ever again and come back into this community, and this restriction would have to travel with the monuments,” Van Turner with Memphis Greenspace said.
Memphis Greenspace still has to finalize a lawsuit in local court with the surviving family of Forrest, whose remains are still at Health Sciences Park. “We will respect the wishes of the current family members,” Turner said. “All of that will have to be worked out in the local lawsuit pending in chancery court, and I think we’re up for it.”
(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, November 5, 2019 ed.)

What the Dead Can Teach Us

Elmwood 2

This may sound a bit morbid, but I love exploring old cemeteries. In my opinion, the older, the better. One of my favorites is Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis. A person can learn a lot about that city’s history, just from walking around. There is a section for Confederate soldiers, including some officers, another area filled with small pox victims from the epidemic in 1873, and a slave section, where most slaves didn’t even receive the honor of a headstone. The ornate, Victorian headstones and monuments are beautiful and sad. One that stands out to me is an empty swing, which is near the grave of a child.

Swing

Author Shelby Foote, who wrote volumes on the Civil War and was featured in Ken Burns’ documentary, is buried there. He was so enthralled with Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Forrest family that he requested to be buried near them. He got his wish.

http://www.elmwoodcemetery.org

New-Orleans-St-Louis-cemetery-no-1-tombs

Another fascinating place to visit the dead is in New Orleans. The graves in the cemeteries are all above ground because the sea level is so high. Many graves were washed into the sea before people placed the deceased in mausoleums.

Marie

One fascinating character buried in St. Louis Cemetery #1 in New Orleans is none other than the Voodoo Queen herself, Marie Laveau. The crypt where she is buried is usually covered with trinkets, charms and Mardi Gras beads. This cemetery is believed to be the most haunted cemetery in the country.

celtic-crosses-in-an-old-irish-cemetery-mark-e-tisdale

Some of the oldest cemeteries are, of course, in Europe. I have seen several Irish graveyards, and I think they are profoundly beautiful. Filled with Celtic crosses, these old cemeteries are certainly filled with ghosts, too. I’d love to be able to hear some of their stories.

Irish Cemetery

Here in Colorado, there are many old cemeteries as well. Some consist of the graves of miners, who came here looking for fortune, but instead, found sickness and poverty. The Gold Camp Victorian Society dresses in period clothing and provides tours of the Mount Pisgan Cemetery near Cripple Creek. An interesting stop on the tour is the headstone of Fred E. Krueger. No, not the horror character, but a mere 15-year-old boy who died of mysterious causes in 1897.

Fred

https://gazette.com/premium/the-mysterious-headstone-of-fred-e-krueger-found-west-of/article_d76db5d6-ee9f-11e9-a5a1-572389059672.html

Many take it upon themselves to provide the upkeep of these national treasures. My husband’s SCV camp cleans up a small cemetery in Horn Lake, Mississippi every year. I think it’s crucial that we respect and revere these honored dead. They are an important part of this country’s history, and of our own history as well.

The Plight of American History

racist

I have been posting a lot recently about the destruction of our national monuments. This disturbs me greatly, because I see it as a way to eradicate and change our history. The monuments pay homage to ancestors who fought in ancient wars, but nevertheless, they were war veterans, and the monuments should be treated with respect. If someone desecrated a war memorial to Korean War vets, I would be deeply upset, because my dad fought in that war with the Marines.

NBF

Same goes for Civil War vets. They were recognized as American vets long ago, and yet, today, because of the changing tide of political correctness, their monuments have been inappropriately deemed as racist. This is completely wrong and inaccurate, and still, the monuments keep coming down. Recently, the Tennessee Supreme Court found that the Sons of Confederate Veterans could not appeal the decision for Memphis to take down three Confederate monuments. I find this shameful, especially since one of the monuments marked the graves of Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife. General Forrest was a trendsetter in establishing interracial relations in Memphis, but this has all been washed over. I only wish correct history was taught in our schools.

flag

I also find it disturbing that the Confederate battle flag is forever linked with the KKK, and thus, is also deemed as racist. This is also completely inaccurate. If anything, the Stars and Stripes should be associated with racism. It was that flag that flew over slave ships, and the KKK also used it repeatedly. The Confederate battle flag, also known as the Southern Cross, is based on the Scottish St. Andrews Cross. Therefore, it has deep Christian roots, and has nothing to do with racism.

Indian

Not to offend anyone, but I will continue to express my disdain and vigilance supporting the Confederate monuments and flags. People today don’t understand that the Confederacy didn’t consist of Southern slave holders. There were Rebels in the north and west, Southern sympathizers in the north, Slave holders in the north and west, and black slave holders as well. That is why I love writing about this time period. It was topsy-turvy, all convoluted, and a mixed bag of  new immigrants coming in, as well as Native American people being eradicated. Genocide was okay back then,  and political incorrectness was, too. I wish people, especially those with political clout, would keep that in mind when they decide to destroy our history. How can we remember our mistakes if all the remembrances are destroyed?

The Facts Are Alarming

I just read an article written by a former Southern governor, stating that all Confederate monuments were erected to celebrate white supremacy. This is so offensive and off base that I wanted to post the following list in order to show how wrong this attitude is. The fact is, most Southern soldiers fought to protect their homes and ward off the advancing enemy. Let me know what your thoughts are on the subject. Thanks again so much for reading my blog!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

TOWNS BURNED BY THE CONFEDERATE ARMY

1. Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, July 30, 1864

Chambersburg

TOWNS BURNED BY THE UNION ARMY

(from the Official Records):

1. Osceola, Missouri, burned to the ground, September 24, 1861

(The town of 3,000 people was plundered and burned to the ground, 200 slaves were freed and nine local citizens were executed.) *

2. * Platte City, Mo – December 16, 1861 – (“ColonelW. James Morgan marches from St. Joseph to Platte City. Once there, Morgan burns the city and takes three prisoners — all furloughed or discharged Confederate soldiers. Morgan leads the prisoners to Bee Creek, where one is shot and a second is bayonetted, while thethird is released. ”)

3. Dayton, Missouri, burned, January 1 to 3, 1862

4. Frenchburg, Virginia (later West Virginia), burned, January 5, 1862

5. Columbus, Missouri, burned, reported on January 13, 1862

6. Bentonville, Arkansas, partly burned, February 23, 1862

(a Federal search party set fire to the town after finding a dead Union soldier, burning most of it to the ground)*

7. Winton, North Carolina, burned, February 20, 1862

8. Bluffton, South Carolina, burned, reported June 6, 1863

(Union troops, about 1,000 strong, crossed Calibogue Sound and eased up the May River in the pre-dawn fog,

surprising ineffective pickets and having their way in an unoccupied village. Rebel troops put up a bit of a fight, but gunboats blasted away as two-thirds of the town was burned in less than four hours. After the Yankees looted furniture and left, about two-thirds of the town’s 60 homes were destroyed.”)*

9. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, burned, August 5 & 21, 1862

10. Donaldsonville, Louisiana, partly burned, August 10, 1862

11. Athens, Alabama, partly burned, August 30, 1862

12. Prentiss, Mississippi, burned, September 14, 1862

13. Randolph, Tennessee, burned, September 26, 1862

14. Elm Grove and Hopefield, Arkansas, burned, October 18, 1862

15. Bledsoe’s Landing, Arkansas, burned, October 21, 1862

16. Hamblin’s, Arkansas, burned, October 21, 1862

17. Napoleon, Arkansas, partly burned, January 17, 1863

18. Mound City, Arkansas, partly burned, January 13, 1863

19. Clifton, Tennessee, burned, February 20, 1863 20. Hopefield, Arkansas, burned, February 21, 1863

(“Captain Lemon allowed residents one hour to removepersonal items, and the men then burned every house inthe village.”)*

21. Celina, Tennessee, burned, April 19, 1863

22. Hernando, Mississippi, partly burned, April 21, 1863

23. Greenville, Mississippi, burned, May 6, 1863

24. Jackson, Mississippi, mostly burned, May 15, 1863

25. Austin, Mississippi, burned, May 23, 1863

(“On May 24, a detachment of Union marines landednear Austin. They quickly marched to the town, ordered all of the town people out and burned down the

26. Darien, Georgia, burned, June 11, 1863

27. Eunice, Arkansas, burned, June 14, 1863

28. Gaines Landing, Arkansas, burned, June 15, 1863

29. Richmond, Louisiana, burned, June 15, 1863

30. Sibley, Missouri, burned June 28, 1863

31. Donaldsonville, Louisiana, destroyed and burned, June 28, 1863

 

32. Columbus, Tennessee, burned, reported February 10, 1864

33. Meridian, Mississippi, destroyed, February 3 to March 6, 1864

34. Campti, Louisiuana, burned, April 16, 1864

35. Washington, North Carolina, sacked and burned, April 20, 1864

36. Grand Ecore, Louisiana, burned, April 21, 1864

37. Cloutierville, Louisiana, burned, April 25, 1864

38. Bolivar, Mississippi, burned, May 5, 1864

39. Alexandria, Louisiana, burned, May 13, 1864

40. Hallowell’s Landing, Alabama, burned, reported May 14, 1864

41. Newtown, Virginia, ordered to be burned, ordered May 30, 1864

42. Ripley, Mississippi, burned, July 8, 1864

43. Harrisburg, Mississippi, burned, July 14, 1864

Oxford

44. Oxford, Mississippi, burned, August 22, 1864

45. Rome, Georgia, partly burned, November 11, 1864

(“Union soldiers were told to burn buildings theConfederacy could use in its war effort: railroad depots, storehouses, mills, foundries, factories and bridges. Despite orders to respect private property, some soldiers had their own idea. They ran through the city bearing firebrands, setting fire to what George M.Battey Jr. called harmless places.”)*

atlanta

46. Atlanta, Georgia, burned, November 15, 1864

47. Camden Point, Missouri, burned, July 14, 1864

48. Kendal’s Grist-Mill, Arkansas, burned, September 3, 1864

49. Shenandoah Valley, devastated, reported October 1, 1864 by Sheridan

(Washington College was sacked and burned during this campaign)*

50. Griswoldville, Georgia, burned, November 21, 1864

51. Guntersville, Alabama, burned January 15, 1865

52. Somerville, Alabama, burned, January 17, 1865

53. McPhersonville, South Carolina, burned, January 30, 1865

54. Lawtonville, South Carolina, burned, February 7, 1865

55. Barnwell, South Carolina, burned, reported February 9, 1865

56. Orangeburg, South Carolina, burned, February 12, 1865

57. Columbia, South Carolina, burned, reported February 17, 1865

58. Winnsborough, South Carolina, pillaged and partly burned, February 21, 1865

59. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, burned, April 4, 1865

Thanks to Jim Huffman with The Gainesville Volunteers, Picayune for the above places, dates and actions.

(*) information taken from: https://seekingliberty.org/2018/10/01/ the-benchmark-set-by- union-army-1861-1865/

(Article courtesy of The Southern Comfort, Private Samuel A. Hughey Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1452, President Jefferson Davis Chapter Military Order of the Stars and Bars newsletter, vol. 43, issue 9, September 2019)

 

Long Forgotten History (And Why We Can’t Repeat It)

I found this article fascinating and wanted to share it. When I read it, I learned a lot about our American history and what happened in the South after the Civil War ended. I find it especially interesting because my next novel delves into the issues of Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan, and Western expansion. I only hope I can find a publisher who doesn’t shy away from it, even though, now apparently, the Confederacy has become controversial and taboo. Hopefully, I can find a publisher who can take the heat! If you know of one, please refer me to them.

220px-'The_Fiery_Cross_of_old_Scotland's_hills!'

        by Dr. Samuel W. Mitcham

Dr. Samuel W. Mitcham was a U.S. Army helicopter pilot during the Viet Nam War who graduated from the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, and is qualified through the rank of major general. He is the author of more than 40 books, several of which were History or Military History Book Club Selections.
I am always annoyed when a conservative political leader attacks Southern heritage. I don’t know why because with the present-day crop of cowardly politicians, it is becoming routine, but I am. Unwittingly or not, these modern day Scalawags adopt the “politically correct” line, even though they know (or should know) that political correctness is nothing more than a euphemism for cultural Marxism.
Recently, the courageous governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, swam against the politically correct stream, obeyed state law, and issued a proclamation calling for a day of observance in honor of Nathan Bedford Forrest as well as commemorating Confederate Decoration Day and Robert E. Lee Day. Governor Lee also stated that he would not be a party to “whitewashing history” by ripping down the bust of Forrest in the Tennessee State Capitol.
For his refusal to join this intellectual lynch mob, Governor Lee was immediately attacked by the usual anti-Southern bigots and Socialist/Democrat/Leftist house organs, such as the Washington Compost and the New York Slimes.[1] This was predictable. What was unusual and absurd about this particular assault on the memory of a brave man is a tweet by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who mounted his rhetorical Mount Siani and declared: “This is wrong!”
But was it, Senator? And what do you know about it, anyway?
First of all, I suppose I should confess that I like Ted Cruz politically, generally speaking. We have not yet met but do have some mutual acquaintances, including Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. Phil is my preacher at the University Church of Christ in Monroe, Louisiana, and he spoke for Mr. Cruz in Iowa. During the 2016 primaries, I was torn between voting for Cruz, Mike Huckabee, or Donald Trump. I was sorry when he and Donald Trump tore into each other, and I think the future president was wrong to attack Cruz’s father. I am also sorry that the senator from Texas cannot see that, in attacking the memory of Bedford Forrest, Senator Cruz is unwittingly making himself a “useful idiot” (to borrow a phrase from Lenin) for the Left, which has gone completely over the edge and is working night and day to turn this country into Venezuela.
But back to my original question: what do you know about it anyway, Senator Cruz?
It is also appalling to me when a conservative such as Glenn Beck or Ted Cruz-who would never allow the politically correct to deceive them on contemporary issues-routinely allow themselves to be hoodwinked on historical topics. Nathan Bedford Forrest is a prime example.
Forrest joined the Klan in 1866. If the Klan were the same organization then as it is today, Mr. Cruz would be correct in condemning it. But was it? To determine if Cruz’s denunciation of Forrest is valid, we must ask ourselves some questions. First, was the Klan of that day the same as the Klan of today? Second, what were the circumstances that induced Forrest to join that organization? Thirdly, when it became something he did not intend, what did he do?
What Mr. Cruz and his ilk too often fail to take into account is that organizations change over time. The year 1865 was pivotal in American history. It was the year the Civil War ended, the Confederacy died, the Ku Klux Klan was born, and the Democratic Party transitioned from the party of slavery to the party of white supremacy. Later, it became the party of separate but equal (with white people being more equal) and the party of segregation after that. Today, it is transforming itself again-into God knows what. It is not the same as it was in 1865.
Neither is the Klan. It was born in the law offices of Judge Thomas Jones in Pulaski, Tennessee. Half its original members were attorneys. Its initial standards were high. One had to be in the Confederate Army at the time of the surrender or in a Union prisoner-of-war camp to be eligible for membership. Its original mission statement called for it to be “an instrument of Chivalry, Humanity, Mercy and patriotism” which was to “relieve and assist the injured, oppressed, suffering, and unfortunate, especially widows and orphans of Confederate soldiers.” (This the government in Washington would not do. They did, however, have a 47% tax on cotton, which they used to subsidize Northern railroads and other large corporations. On the other hand, they did provide pensions to Northern widows and orphans at the expense of Southern widows and orphans.) One had to apply for membership. As far as we can tell (written records are absent), its eighth member was John C. Brown, former Confederate brigadier general and, within eight years, governor of Tennessee. Also a lawyer.
The Klan started out as a social club, but that soon changed. It grew like wildfire and morphed into something else altogether.
The loss of the war and the death of the Confederacy were not isolated events. They also signaled the breakdown of the Southern economy and the collapse of law and order in many localities. Gangs of criminals and individual thugs had a field day throughout the South. Union deserters, Southern outlaws, recently freed slaves who did not know how to handle their freedom, and professional criminals ran amuck. Arson, robbery, rape, and murder were the order of the day. At the same time, Carpetbaggers and collaborators pillaged the public treasuries, increased taxes 300% to 400%, ran up huge public debts, pocketed the proceeds, stole land and farms, and enriched themselves at the expense of a helpless and impoverished people.
African Americans suffered most of all. Much of the South’s land was ruined during the conflict, and 1867 was a year of famine. The new Northern rulers had no interest in the Southern people, black or white. Tens of thousands of Negroes literally starved to death.[2] No effort was made on the part of the new rulers to even keep records of how many died. They were too busy stealing.
Public health was almost completely ignored. Smallpox epidemics periodically raged throughout the South in the 1862 through 1868 period. The weakened and malnourished black folks were especially susceptible, often dying at rates of three or four times higher than Southern whites, who were themselves not well nourished. Black children were particularly hard hit. In one six-month period in 1865, 30,000 African Americans died in North Carolina and South Carolina alone. The epidemic lasted six years.[3]
Not content with theft and neglect, a significant minority of Northern politicians openly advocated a second Civil War. They included Thaddeus Stevens, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives; General Benjamin F. “Spoons” Butler; Governor Richard Yates of Illinois; carpetbagger Governor Andrew J. Hamilton of Texas; and Senator Jim Lane of Kansas, among others. U.S. Congressman William Anderson Pile advocated “death to all supporters of the South, past or present.”[4] General William T. Sherman wanted Southerners demoted to “demizens”: people who were given certain rights (such as the right to pay taxes) but not others (such as the right to vote).
Of particular interest to Forrest was carpetbagger Governor William G. “Parson” Brownlow of Tennessee. A former Methodist preacher, slave owner, and newspaper editor, he believed slavery was “ordained by God.” He nevertheless supported the Union and a second Civil War. “I am one of those who believed that the war ended too soon,” he declared, and “the loyal masses” should not “leave one Rebel fence rail, outhouse, one dwelling, in the seceded states. As for the Rebel population, let them be exterminated.”
This kind of wild talk sounds incredible today, but people like Nathan Bedford Forrest had no choice but to take it seriously-especially in Tennessee.
The Southerners after the war were in the same position as the French Resistance was in World War II. The government were it was functioning at all was often in the hands of criminals, and they felt compelled to take the law into their own hands. There is a point between civilization and anarchy in which vigilantism is an acceptable, temporary measure, until law and order can be restored. Into that breach stepped Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was receiving a hundred letters a day from his former soldiers, relating eye-witness accounts of outrage and lawlessness. He was first told about the Klan by George Washington Gordon, a former Confederate general and war hero. Forrest applied for membership through John W. Morton, his former chief of artillery who celebrated his 21st birthday commanding a battalion of horse artillery in the Battle of Chickamauga.[5] In the spring of 1866, the leaders of the KKK met in the Maxwell House in Nashville, Tennessee, and created the position of “Grand Wizard,” a tribute to Forrest’s wartime nickname, “Wizard of the Saddle,” and gave it to the general.
The Klan had already transformed into a hybrid neighborhood protection/vigilante organization which met violence with violence and terror with terror. It was definitely a mixed bag. Under Forrest, it became, as he said, “a protective political military organization,” i.e., a paramilitary force, a counterbalance to Brownlow’s Loyal Legion. Governor Brownlow sought to pass a law making it legal for anyone to shoot a former Confederate on sight. If that law passed, Forrest declared, there would be a second war, although he did not want it, but he would look upon the activation of Brownlow’s militia as a declaration of war. He also declared that he could raise 40,000 Klansmen in Tennessee and 550,000 throughout the South in five days. No one wanted to fight a half a million man cavalry army under Nathan Bedford Forrest, especially Brownlow and his cronies. The militia was not activated. A second war was avoided.
In February 1869, Brownlow resigned as governor. His successor sought to work with the Democrats, was conciliatory to his former enemies, and restored voting rights to Southern veterans and Confederate sympathizers. Forrest, meanwhile, became concerned that white trash elements were taking over large parts of the organization and were using it for their own nefarious and hateful purposes. As a result, Nathan Bedford Forrest issued General Order Number One, disbanding the Ku Klux Klan. “There was no further need for it,” Forrest commented later, “. . . the country was safe.”
Certain branches of the KKK lived on after Forrest disbanded it, under such names as the Constitutional Union Guards, the Pale Faces, the White Brotherhood, the White League, and the Knights of the White Camelia, and a few Ku Klux dens lingered on until 1877 and even after, but the original Ku Klux Klan effectively ceased to exist and faded into history. As Captain John Calhoun Lester, one of the original founders, wrote later: “There never was, before or since, a period of our history when such an order could have lived. May there never be again!”[6] Let us pray that the captain was right.
In 1915, Hollywood produced an infamous film, “Birth of a Nation.” Its contents were so incendiary that it led to several race riots, propelled the NAACP into national prominence, and led to the birth of a second Ku Klux Klan.[7] This racist organization became the paramilitary arm of the Democratic Party and was (and is) largely a terrorist organization. Had it not pirated the name of the original KKK, we might look upon the original Klan much differently than we do. But it did. To associate Nathan Bedford Forrest’s name with the depredations of this second incarnation of the Klan of the 20th and 21st centuries is wrong, but many people do, even though it was created almost four decades after his death, and he clearly had nothing to do with it.
General Forrest’s racial views continued to evolve over time. He addressed an early civil rights organization, was denounced by a Freedman’s Bureau officer as being “too liberal” to the African Americans he employed, provoked the outrage of several editors by kissing a young black lady on the cheek after she presented him with a bouquet of flowers, was denounced by the (Confederate) Cavalry Survivors Association for his positive attitude toward African Americans, hired them in responsible positions in his railroad (i.e., as foremen, conductors, architects, and engineers), and was one of two former Confederate generals I know of who advocated allowing African-Americans to vote.[8] I bet you didn’t know that, Senator Cruz. When Forrest died in 1877, twenty thousand people lined the street for two miles with their hats off, respectfully mourning him as his hearse slowly passed by. These included more than 3,000 black mourners. One source placed this number at 6,000.
I would go on with your history lesson, Mr. Cruz, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. I would, however, suggest that you refrain from attacking heroes from other states until you learn more about Southern history. Texas, after all, had more than its share of slaveholding heroes. William B. Travis and Jim Bowie (my personal favorite), the commanders of the Alamo, leap to mind. Already, there are those agents of political correctness who would hand the Alamo over to the United Nations as a World Heritage Site, so they can “contextualize” it. Eventually-should they succeed-they will want to tear it down, on the grounds that it represents white supremacy, oppression of a minority group, or some other pretext. And don’t think for one moment they wouldn’t try it. The Left wants no heroes to exist except its own.
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[1] Also known as the Washington Post and the New York Times.
[2] Exact numbers do not exist. The Carpetbaggers and Union Army were so indifferent to the fate of the black people they did not bother to keep records. Estimates as to the exact number who died vary between 80,000 and 1,000,000. Most of them were African American. See Jim Downs, Sick From Freedom: African-American Death and Suffering During the Civil War and Reconstruction. Oxford: 2012, p. 8ff.
[3] Donald W. Livingston, “Confederate Emancipation Without War,” in Frank B. Powell, ed., To Live and Die in Dixie (Columbia, Tennessee: 2004), p. 462.
[4] Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Blue (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: 1964), p. 372. Piles was a former Union general.
[5] Morton was later secretary of agriculture and secretary of state of Tennessee.
[6] John Calhoun Lester and Rev. D. L. Wilson, The Ku Klux Klan: Its Origin, Growth and Disbandment (New York: 1905), p. 132.
[7] See Linda Gordon, The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition (New York: 2017) and William Rawlings, The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s (Macon, Georgia: 2017).
[8] The other one was P. G. T. Beauregard.
(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, July 19, 2019 ed.)

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