Thursday, December 18, 2014

What the Well-Dressed Woman Was Wearing-- Part 2: Autograph Books

Also included in the Society's exhibit is an autograph book which were popular especially in private schools.  The book on display has several pictures, including one of President Abraham Lincoln.  Often these photos were carte de visites.

Some of the shoes are made of silk and some of leather.  But all shoes were made for much narrower feet than those found on today's women..  Shoes in the collection also include those for babies, children and men.  Others were for every day wear and there is even a pair for ballroom dancing..

Some of the dresses have shortcuts.  One has two bodices and a detachable skirt that allowed the woman to go from daytime to evening events easily.  Another had sleeve extensions and a shawl that could be removed as the lady went from the banquet to dance floor where dresses had lower necklines and shorter sleeves than today.

Sashay 'Round the Dance Floor.  --Old Secesh

What the Well-Dressed Woman Was Wearing During Civil War Era-- Part 1

From the August 13, 2014, Hi-Liter (Lake County, Il) "Lakes Region Historical Society Showcases Civil War Era Ladies Attire" by Gail Peckler-Dziki.

Historian-actress Jessica Michna traveled from Racine to the Lakes Region Historical Society in Antioch, Illinois, and was highly impressed with its "Ladies Attire of the Civil War Revisited" exhibit, saying, "It is a rare thing to see so many genuine items and in such pristine condition and wide variation."

And, she would know her ladies clothing as she has developed programs for 11 historical female figures including Helen Keller, Abigail Adams and three programs about Mary Todd Lincoln.  As such, she does her research on period clothing.

One interesting item on display is a "hat" made of hair.  In the mid-1800s, a woman with thinning hair might have such a hat with curling tendrils of hair down the sides.  Wearing a knit white morning cap and she would seem to have hair.  Ah, vanity.

And What About Those Big Old Hoop Skirts?  --Old Secesh

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sherman's March to the Sea-- Part 15: A Christmas Present

Sherman claimed to have inflicted $100 million in physical damage ($1.3 billion in today's dollars) though historians call this figure a guess.

The psychic damage done to the Confederacy was incalculable.  He made Southerners feel that the war and individual ruin were one in the same.

The March to the Sea took barely a month and then Sherman offered Savannah to his president as a Christmas present.

Quite the Story.  --Old Secesh

Sherman's March to the Sea-- Part 14: "War on the Confederate Mind"

Sherman was cloaking his movements so well that this served to heighten his reputation as a crazed leader of a ruthless army.  They could be anywhere and heading for anywhere..  It could be termed a "war on the Confederate mind."

Some Georgians will claim that Sherman burned their ancestor's barn.  Often, it turns out that Sherman was never anywhere near it.

Said John Marszalek, "He got into people's psyche.  That's exactly what he wanted to do.  And it's very much there."  Along Sherman's route today, you can see signs advertising for an "antebellum trail."  This features many unburned plantations.  If Sherman had burned them all, would there be any left?

Just the other day, I was talking with my mother who recounted that she had heard that Sherman's army, while in North Carolina a few months after the March to the Sea, had killed cattle and sheep and tossed their carcasses into the Neuse River to poison it for the Southerners.

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sherman's March to the Sea-- Part 13: "We Know What Hole"

Rumors of Sherman's atrocities spread rapidly among those in his path.  Even worse, his exact path was a point of conjecture.  Where exactly was he going.  Most everyone were sure they were in his path.  Making it worse was the fact that his army was moving along in there different columns, cutting a 60-mile wide swath of destruction.

Twice in the last month, I drove through Sherman's hometown of Lancaster, Ohio.  I couldn't help but think what he was up to exactly 150 years ago.

Sherman had cut his telegraph connections when he set off and even Lincoln, when asked what was going on in the march or where it was heading,  would say:  "We know what hole he went in, but we don't know what hole he'll come out."

I imagine there was great relief among Southerners when they found they had been bypassed by "Uncle Billy's" mostly Midwestern army.

--Old Secesh

Sherman's March to the Sea-- Part 12: "Clean the Concern Out"

The diary of Adjutant James Royal Ladd, 113th Ohio, said that on Nov. 23rd, his unit camped outside Milledgeville and learned that "the Rebs captured and shot some of our foragers."

The next entry begins: "Nov. 24 --  Thanksgiving in Milledgeville.  Well, we had the roast turkey."  Then he and others were detailed to the home where the foragers had been taken and ordered "to clean the concern out.  It looked wicked to see such splendid furniture go to pieces.  ... Crash followed crash, and after all the comforts and luxuries of a splendid home were soon in ruins."

--Old Secesh

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sherman's March to the Sea-- Part 11: "Sherman's Neckties"

One letter home from his army described the spoils that a team of designated foragers returned to camp with one night: "Pumpkins, chickens, cabbages" for the evening meal, but also "a looking-glass, an Italian harp..., a peacock, a rocking chair," and more.

Much destruction was formally ordered.  Whatever might benefit the Confederacy--  cotton gins, barns, factories, Confederate leaders' homes-- could be set ablaze.  Teams were assigned to wreck rail lines made bonfires of torn-up ties, heated the iron rails red hot and then twisted them around trees.  these were known as "Sherman's neckties."

Resistance could trigger instant punitive wreckage.  Sherman's men torched towns that harbored snipers and guerrillas hindering his advance.

--Old Secesh

Sherman's March to the Sea-- Part 10: "Forage Liberally"

In his orders for the march, Sherman noted that without supply lines his army would need to live off the land.  They would need to take whatever they needed.  Sherman even had census maps to show output of counties along the way and he made sure he directed the various parts of his army to places with the most.

"Forage liberally," he famously ordered  he did note that the poor should be spared and that private homes shouldn't be entered and that stealing was forbidden.  It definitely didn't work that way.  His troops went way beyond just getting food.  His troops took the order to read as a license to pillage..

--Old Secesh

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sherman's March to the Sea-- Part 9: What to Do When Your Leaders "Skedaddle"

As Sherman approached, political and military leaders urged bold resistance by civilians.  But, then those leaders decided to "skedaddle" in the words of an AP dispatch from back then.  In Milledgeville, the governor packed off rugs, curtains and silverware, leaving his official residence "almost completely stripped" when Sherman arrived and had to use his own cot to sleep on.

The unprotected public naturally developed an intense terrifying feeling of vulnerability.  Just what Sherman had intended.

--Old Secesh

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sherman's March to the Sea-- Part 8: "I'd Follow Uncle Billy to Hell."

By 1864, Sherman was Grant's trusted right hand man and his troops loved his quirky, unkempt style, his intelligence that some felt converged on craziness.  Then, there was his truly fighting spirit.  One soldier wrotw, "I'd follow Uncle Billy to hell."

From Atlanta, Sherman sent his force, divided into parallel columns, southward through the center of Georgia, keeping a fairly straight course, feinting east and west toward major cities and pinning Confederate defenders, what few of them there were, but not attacking.

His forces easily swept aside resistance at Griswaldsville and other places.  Militarily, Sherman's march was a stroll in the park.

Despite its bloody reputation, "There was little death or injury to anyone, friend or foe,: said Matt Davis.

The very ease of it made a statement.  Southerners were now undefended, helpless.

--Old Secesh

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sherman's March to the Sea-- Part 7: Shock and Awe

According to historian John Marszalek, author of "Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order," said, "Shock and awe.  That's really what Sherman was talking about."

"Cump" Sherman had had a hard childhood.  His father died penniless while he was young and his mother sent him to be raised by another family.  Coming from this rough childhood, Sherman had a lifelong passion for order and stability according to Marszalek.

Central to this was the restoration of the Union and the rule of law.  That meant, the Confederacy had to be destroyed and the sooner the better.

Sherman had wept aloud in 1861 when he read that South Carolina had seceded, which he knew would start a war.  At the time he was superintendent of a military school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which would eventually become Louisiana State University.  He resigned and later accepted a commission in his former U.S. Army, knowing that he would eventually face the cadets he had trained.

Ironically, Sherman always considered himself a friend of the South.

"Cump" a Form of His Middle Name, Tecumseh.  --Old Secesh

Sherman's March to the Sea-- Part 6: "Make Georgia Howl"

"If we can march a well-appointed army right through his territory, it is a demonstration to the world, foreign and domestic, that we have a power that (Confederate President Jefferson) Davis cannot resist," Sherman wrote to General Grant when he proposed the march.  "I can make this march and make Georgia howl."

Lincoln worried that if Sherman made a misstep, it might destroy his army.  President Davis promised that Sherman's army by itself in the middle of Confederate territory would be crushed.

Of course, it would take another Confederate Army to do that, and there simply wasn't one with General Hood's Army of the Tennessee in the process of being destroyed outside of Nashville.  There simply wasn't much the South could do to stop Sherman's march.

But Grant trusted Sherman whose decisions, even at the cost of many of his men, previously showed he was one to attack.  And now, he wanted to accomplish victory in a different way.

No One Around to Stop Him.  --Old Secesh

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sherman's March to the Sea-- Part 5: The Singing Soldiers

On November 16, 1864, Sherman watched his army pull out of Atlanta which he had captured two months earlier, a tremendous morale boost for the North that helped ensure Abraham Lincoln's re-election on November 8th, for a second term.

Sherman wrote, "Behind us lay Atlanta, smoldering and in ruins."  Watching his troops with pride, he continued "the gun barrels glistening in the sun, the white-topped wagons stretching away to the south."  The troops sang as a band played.  "Never before or since have I heard the chorus of 'Glory, glory, hallelujah! done with more spirit, or in better harmony of time and place."

With 62,000 veteran troops, Sherman planned to drive to the Atlantic coast at Savannah, conquering territory but also making a point to the enemy, whom he now saw as both the Confederate Army and the unyielding, enabling Southern population.

--Old Secesh

Sherman's March to the Sea-- Part 4: "The Devil Incarnate"

Amy Wright's grandfather loved to take a Sunday drive and would often stop at the family's old property which brought out the old tales: "The family was unprotected.  ...Truly it was the devil incarnate.  The focus of all their suffering was focused at Sherman.  And the message, "Never forget."  But as she grew older, she couldn't help but notice that the tales became more and more violence in repetition.

Some of the stories were verifiable, but others were exaggerated and many even baseless.

Was Sherman truly a sadistic Satan?  Or, after years of carnage without resolution, was he driven to test a hard and fiery new way to bring about peace?

--Old Secesh


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shorpy Photo of 1913 Gettysburg Reunion

From the November 11, 2014, Shorpy "Civil War Veterans: 1913.

July 1913. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  "Gettysburg reunion: G.A.R. & S.C.V. veterans at the encampment.  Some of the 53,000 Civil War veterans of either group, who reunited at Gettysburg for the 50th anniversary of the battle.

GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) and UCV (United Confederate Veterans).  These were veterans groups.

One comment was about a readers' ancestors who lived near Gettysburg who had their home ransacked by Confederates a couple days before the battle.

The photo shows about ten of the veterans standing around with two playing instruments.  I could not tell if this was a mixture of Confederates and Union soldiers.  Perhaps the light and dark hats was an indicator

Of course, 1913 was before the Confederates became demons for fighting to keep slaves.

--Old Secesh