J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Washington D. C.”

Women of the Confederacy (Pt. 4)

Juliet Opie Hopkins

“Florence Nightingale of the South”

Juliet Opie Hopkins

Juliet Opie Hopkins was a pioneer in the advancement of women at a time when most were overlooked for supervisory positions. Her extraordinary abilities awarded her the position of leadership and power that didn’t exist anywhere else.

She was born on May 7, 1818 at her family’s Woodburn Plantation in Jefferson County, Virginia. Her father owned around 2,000 slaves, which established him in elite society. During her childhood, Juliet was home-schooled, and was sent to Miss Ritchie’s private school in Richmond when she reached adolescence. When she was sixteen, however, her mother died, so she left school to return home, where she helped manage Woodburn.

In 1837, Juliet married Commodore Alexander Gordon of the United States Navy. However, Gordon died in 1849, leaving her a young widow. She remarried in 1854, to a widower who was twenty-four years her senior. Arthur Hopkins was a lawyer and prominent businessman who had served as a United States senator and Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. They adopted a niece, and considered the girl to be their daughter.

When the War Between the States broke out, Juliet sold her estates in New York, Virginia, and Alabama. She donated the money to the Confederacy for the establishment of hospitals. The Confederate military system dictated that each state was responsible for the care of its own patients.

In June 1861, she moved to Richmond and began organizing money and supplies that were sent from Alabama. In August, she set up a hospital for Alabama’s soldiers, and by November, had established a larger second hospital as well. During the November session, the Alabama legislature assumed responsibility for supporting the hospitals and appointed Juliet as chief matron. In the spring of 1862, she established a third hospital, and received the help of 92 women’s auxiliary groups in Alabama who made clothing and collected supplies.

During the Battle of Seven Pines on June 1, 1862, she was shot twice in the leg while attempting to rescue wounded men from the battlefield. Her injuries required surgery and left her with a permanent limp.

Although her husband was technically named State Hospital Agent, she was the one in charge. Regardless of her tremendous responsibilities, Juliet found time to personally care for soldiers by writing letters, making furlough requests, providing books, and keeping a thorough list of the deceased. She even collected hair samples from the dead to send to their families, which was common practice at the time.

A nurse in the Third Alabama Hospital, Fannie Beers, wrote about her:

“I have never seen a woman better fitted for such work. Energetic, tireless, systematic, loving profoundly the cause and its defenders, she neglected no detail of business or other thing that should afford aid or comfort to the sick and wounded. She kept up a voluminous correspondence, made in person every purchase for her charges, received and accounted for hundreds of boxes sent from Alabama containing clothing and delicacies for the sick and visited the wards of the hospitals every day. If she found any duty neglected by nurse or surgeon or hospital steward, her personal reprimand was certain and very severe. She could not nurse the sick or wounded personally, for her whole time was necessarily devoted to executive duties, but her smile was the sweetest, I believe, that ever lit up a human face, and standing by the bedside of some poor Alabamian, away from home and wretched as well as sick, she must have seemed to him like an angel visitant.”

In March 1863, the Confederate Medical Department assumed control over all hospitals. Many patients were sent to larger facilities, which prompted the closure of 35 units, including two of Juliet’s hospitals. The third hospital was closed in October, so she moved back to Alabama. Finding supplies scarce, she had the carpets in her Mobile home cut up and used for blankets. She continued her work in Tuskagee and Montgomery hospitals. When the state was invaded in April 1865, she and her husband fled to Georgia.

After the war ended, they returned to Mobile, and her humanitarian efforts became more well-known, making her a living legend.

Judge Hopkins died later that year, so Juliet left Alabama to live on property she still owned in New York City. Because she and her husband had lost most of their wealth, she lived the rest of her life in relative poverty. She died on March 9, 1890 while visiting her daughter in Washington D.C. Scores of veterans attended her funeral, including Confederate Generals Joseph Wheeler and Joseph E. Johnston, as well as Union General John Schofield. Members of the Alabama congressional delegation served as pallbearers. She was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in the same gravesite as her son-in-law, Union General Romeyn Beck Ayers.

In 1987, a marker was finally placed on her grave.

It is estimated that Juliet donated between $200,000 and $500,000 for the Southern cause. She was so revered by her peers that her picture was printed on Alabama Confederate paper currency 25-cent and 50-cent bills. She is a member of the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame.

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Women of the Confederacy (Pt. 1)

In honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to feature several Confederate women who supported the cause. Since I’m starting this series a little late, I will continue the posts throughout next month as well.

Belle Boyd

(Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Belle Boyd

Cleopatra of the Secession

Belle Boyd was only seventeen years old when she began her illustrious career as a Confederate spy. She quickly learned the art of espionage after her hometown of Martinsburg, Virginia became overrun with Yankees.

Born on May 4, 1844, Isabella Maria Boyd was the eldest child of a wealthy family. Her father ran a general store and managed a tobacco plantation. Belle grew up with several brothers and sisters, dominating them all with her tomboyish ways. She attended Mount Washington Female College in Baltimore at age twelve, and after completing her education four years later, enjoyed the life of a fun-loving debutante. Described as having shining blue eyes, thick light brown hair, and a fine figure, she was considered attractive but not beautiful, and made up for it by being overly feminine, flirtatious, and outgoing. A brilliant talker, she dressed colorfully and wore feathers in her hats.

At the onset of the Civil War, Belle’s father enlisted with the Virginia Cavalry, Stonewall Jackson Brigade. It wasn’t long before Belle was confronted with the enemy. On July 2, 1861, Union troops skirmished at nearby Falling Waters, and occupied Martinsburg on July 4. After looting the town, a band of drunken Union soldiers stormed into Belle’s home, tore down the Confederate flag that the Boyd Family proudly flew over their home, and attempted to hoist up the Stars and Stripes. Belle’s mother protested, and was attacked by one of the Yankees. In retaliation, Belle shot him, justifying her actions by stating, “…we ladies are obliged to go armed in order to protect ourselves as best we might from insult and outrage.” Subsequently arrested, she was soon acquitted without reprisal for her action. “

The commanding officer,” she wrote, “inquired into all the circumstances with strict impartiality, and finally said I had ‘done perfectly right.’” Belle’s home was constantly guarded by sentries afterward to keep an eye on her activities.

She soon became a courier for Generals Beauregard and Jackson, carrying information, confiscating weapons, and delivering medical supplies. By early 1862, she had developed a reputation for herself, dubbed in the press as “La Belle Rebelle,” the “Siren of the Shenandoah,”the “Rebel Joan of Arc,” and the “Amazon of Secessia.” Using her feminine qualities to allure unsuspecting Yankees, she befriended the invading soldiers to obtain information for the Confederacy. One evening in midMay, she eavesdropped through a peephole on a Council of War while visiting relatives in Front Royal, whose hotel

was being used as a Union headquarters. With the information she obtained, she rode fifteen miles to deliver the news to General Stonewall Jackson.

On May 23, she ran out onto the battlefield to give General Jackson last minute information. She later wrote that “the Federal pickets … immediately fired upon me…my escape was most providential…rifle-balls flew thick and fast about me … so near my feet as to throw dust in my eyes…numerous bullets whistled by my ears, several actually pierced different parts of my clothing.”

Jackson captured the town and later acknowledged her bravery in a personal note. She was subsequently awarded the Confederate Southern Cross of Honor, and given honorary captain and aide-de-camp positions.

Belle was arrested on July 29, 1862 and incarcerated at Old Capitol Prison in Washington D.C., but was released a month later as part of a prisoner exchange. She was arrested again in July 1863. Not a model inmate, she waved Confederate flags from her window, loudly sang “Dixie,” and sent information to a contact person outside who shot a rubber ball into her cell. She then sewed messages inside and threw it back.

She was released in December, but was arrested again in 1864, and this time was released for health reasons (typhoid fever). On May 8, she was sent to England as a diplomatic courier, but was captured while aboard a blockade runner, The Greyhound. She escaped to Canada with the assistance of Union naval officer Lieutenant Sam Hardinge, who she charmed into convincing him to marry her and switch sides. The two traveled to England, where Belle went to work for the Confederate Secret Service. Hardinge was court-martialed and disgraced for his actions. The two were married on August 24.

Belle stayed in England for the next two years, wrote her memoirs, entitled “Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison,” and achieved success onstage. When her husband died in 1866, she returned to America, where she continued her stage career and lecture tour, billing her show as “The Perils of a Spy,” and touting herself as “Cleopatra of the Secession.”

In 1869, she married John Swainston Hammond, an Englishman who had fought for the Union army, but sixteen years and four children later, divorced him. She married Nathaniel High, Jr. two months later in January 1885. He was an actor seventeen years her junior.

Belle continued the touring circuit. On Sunday, June 10, 1900, while at a speaking engagement with the GAR in Kilbourn (now Wisconsin Dells), Belle died of a heart attack. She was 56 years old and in poverty. Union veterans paid for her funeral. She is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.

“I worked night and day for twelve years to prevent the war, but I could not. The North was mad and blind, would not let us govern ourselves, and so the war came.”

-Jefferson Davis

War Waged Against Everything Confederate in Florida

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According to a letter from David McCallister, the Florida Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Heritage Chairman, there are three pending initiatives in the Florida Legislature. Mr. McCallister believes these initiatives would greatly affect the SCV.

The most dire initiative would make it illegal for anyone in the state to display any Confederate flag or emblem on public property. This includes courthouses and courthouse squares, the Capitol, state parks, museums, libraries, cemeteries and parking lots.
It includes all Confederate flags, not just the battle flag that has recently come under attack across the country. The initiative also includes re-enactments, festivals, such as the Battle of Olustee, or Rifles, Rails and History in Tavares. If anything Confederate is displayed, citizens would have the right to sue.
The initiative is classified as Senate Bill (SB) 154 and House Bill (HB) 243. This is alarming, to say the least, because if these bills are passed, there will be no stopping such atrocities from happening in every state. It is an unfunded mandate from Tallahassee and is imposed on all other governmental entities of Florida. If passed, it could cost Florida residents millions of dollars.
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The second initiative is just as appalling. It proposes to remove the statue of General Edmund Kirby Smith as Florida’s representative in Statuary Hall in Washington D.C. This initiative was sponsored by a history teacher from Pasco County. Apparently, this teacher has never studied Southern history and has no idea who Smith was. The bills are HB 141 and SB 310.
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The third bill proposes to change the Florida State Senate Seal by removing the Confederate flag from the five historical flags display. The argument for this bill is that the CSA was not a sovereign nation, but this is false. The bill is SB 1026.
It is nothing less than shameful that certain politically correct special interest groups are pushing to remove all things Confederate, and thus, attempting to erase a significant part of Southern history and identity. The bills are offensive and discriminatory against Florida veterans and residents.

Tomorrow is Flag Rally Day!

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Two flag rallies in support of the Confederate battle flag are slated to take place this Saturday, September 5. One will be held in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. H.K. Edgerton will be on hand to speak before the event goes mobile. (He is pictured below.)

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Scott D. Hall, Camp 87 Commander, Sons of Confederate Veterans in Sevierville, Tennessee, said, “We sold about 115 battle flags in about 1 and a half hours before the Campbell County Rally.  With the latest shipments, we still have an inventory of about 220 Battle Flags for sale. They are a hot item and we could sell them all if we set-up a roadside stand.”

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Another significant rally will be held in Washington D.C. this Saturday. Thousands are expected to show their support for the Confederate battle flag. It should be a fascinating, historic event. I don’t know if President Obama will be there to witness it, however. As of this writing, he is hiking around in Alaska.

Hundreds Rally in Support of Confederate Flag

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Last Saturday, hundreds upon hundreds of Southerners showed up at Stone Mountain in Georgia to support the Confederate battle flag at a rally. Stone Mountain is the country’s largest Confederate memorial, and has been targeted by the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP for removal.

One of the rally organizers, Thomas Jewell, a black man, said that he rallies to the flag because it represents his Southern heritage. He is not offended by it, and knows that the flag has been misrepresented in the past.

“If you look a little deeper, you’ll find out what it was all about,” Jewell said. “The flag was never meant to be racist. It’s a heritage thing. It’s a Southern thing.”

Billy Armistead said he came to the rally “to honor the memory of his relative Lewis A. Armistead, who fought for the Confederate States of America in the Civil War.”

Joel Colston said, “It’s not about hate. People are trying to take our flag away from us and that’s not right. We’re trying to do something about it.”

Jimmy Creek, a rally organizer, said, “We do rallies, not protests. We just do it peacefully. We don’t want trouble, but we’ll back each other up [if there is].”

Many more rallies are scheduled in the coming weeks. One is scheduled to take place in Washington D.C. on September 5, and I’m sure it will have a huge turnout. This just goes to show how more people are defending the flag than are protesting its existence.

The Case for the Confederate Battle Flag

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Controversy surrounding the Confederate battle flag continues to escalate. Some feel that stashing away the flag is a solution, but I believe the flag should be reinvented as an historic symbol, rather than automatically being associated with racism. The flag has been used by certain hate groups in the past, but these groups have also used the American flag. The Stars and Stripes flew over slave ships, not the Confederate battle flag. If one element of our society is deemed offensive to particular groups, then it will inevitably lead to other banned elements. Removing the Confederate battle flag from government property and national parks is only the beginning. Certain groups are already calling for the removal of all things Confederate, including flags, school names, monuments, movies, books, and television shows. They even want to relocate Civil War soldiers’ bodies. To me, this is offensive, and it is also censorship. Although I understand how the flag might upset some people, to others, it is a sign of Southern pride and heritage. Either way, censoring items doesn’t do away with deeper issues.

Passing laws to remove the Confederate battle flag might seem like a perfect remedy, but in reality, it doesn’t accomplish anything. Racists will still find a symbol to use. People will still lay blame on inanimate objects, instead of blaming the true source of hate. Guns, flags, and photographs don’t commit atrocities. People do. That is why we need to change our attitudes toward these objects, or it will lead to far worse consequences down the road. I’m sure there are people who are offended by the Nazi flag, the Japanese flag, the rainbow flag, or whatever. If one flag is done away with, then all the others should be, too, including the American flag. It flew while thousands of Native American Indians were being slaughtered, after all. And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of Stone Mountain, Mount Rushmore, every statue in Washington D.C., and any reminder of Confederate soldiers or slave owners, including our founding fathers. Let’s rename all the streets, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s namesakes, because it’s only fair.

By taking away our symbols, this country is denying our freedom of speech and expression. In a recent Newsmax poll, 88% wanted to keep Confederate flags on government property. And in the small town of Gettysburg, South Dakota, the police chief has fallen under scrutiny for deciding not to change the officers’ uniform patches, which depict the American and Confederate flags crossing over a cannon.

Of course, someone will be offended by something sometime. I’m offended by numerous things, like those mud flaps with nude females on them and sexist lyrics in songs. But to deny their use is going against our Constitutional rights. As U.S. citizens, we need to take a stand against allowing this issue to elevate further, or we will end up having complete government rule, and that is exactly what Southerners fought against during the Civil War.

My upcoming novel, A Rebel Among Us, a novel of the Civil War, discusses this topic in-depth. It delves into the lives of two people – one from the North, and one from the South. Their opinions and differences repeatedly collide, making their relationship all the more compelling and complicated.

As it was in the past, we are facing these same conflicts today. We are one country with many different attitudes and backgrounds, which makes us diverse and unique. To take away just one element of expression opens us up to complete censorship and governmental control in the future.

The Case of the One-Armed Soldier

It is no mystery that thousands of men lost appendages during Civil War battles. One of the many horrors of that war was the arms and legs that were amputated to prevent gangrene from setting in. Old photographs show some of the gruesome piles of body parts, and many veterans were photographed later with their arms or legs missing.

One of the most famous amputees was Union General Dan Sickles. After he lost his leg at Gettysburg, Sickles (who was a little sick in the head, if you ask me) insisted on keeping the limb, so he sent it to the U. S. Army Medical Museum (now the National Museum of Health and Medicine) in Washington, D. C., with his calling card, “Compliments of D. E. S”. For the rest of his life, Sickles frequently visited the leg.

Bones and remnants of long- lost warriors are constantly being found. The forearm of one of these soldiers was discovered by a local farmer after the Battle of Antietam. Nearly 150 years later, an anonymous donor gave it to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland. The right forearm appears muddy, and the skin and hand are still attached.

After the farmer discovered the arm, he kept it in a barrel of brine until he gave it to a local surgeon, who preserved it in embalming fluid. Eventually, the arm ended up at a private museum in Sharpsburg, and was displayed for years in a glass-topped pine case, with a placard that read, “Human arm found on the Antietam Battlefield.” The elbow joint appears undamaged, but the skin and tendons look to have been violently twisted.

Forensics experts are examining the limb to try and determine the nationality of the owner, as well as his diet and age. It is highly unlikely that they will ever discover who the arm actually belonged to, but who knows. The case could someday be solved.

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