Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Elmira Museum Unveils Civil War Prison Camp Exhibit

From the August 12, 2014, Elmira (NY) Star Gazette.

The Chemung County Historical Society at 415 E. Water Street in Elmira, New York, has a new exhibit "So Far From Home: Life in Elmira's Confederate Prison Camp" which has opened.  It is the last in its four-part Chemung County Civil War Experience series.

Earlier in the war, Elmira had been a military recruiting depot where soldiers trained.  Later in the war, Elmira became a draft rendezvous and then a prison.

Just three granite markers showing the boundaries of the camp remain.  They were dedicated in 1900 by the Baldwin Post of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Two are still outside: Water Street and Hoffman Street (northeast corner), West Water Street east of Gould Street (northwest corner) and one is on display at the Chemung Valley Historical Museum.

You hear so much about the horrors of Confederate prisons, it is good to see that efforts are being made to bring the stories of Union ones to the public.  I understand there is a movement to do the same at Chicago's Camp Douglas.

--Old Secesh

Monday, January 26, 2015

Elmira Civil War Prison Building Arrives Home-- Part 2

Elmira Prison operated from July 6, 1864-July 11, 1865.  It was built to hold 5,000 Confederates and ended up with 12,121.

Many of the Confederates captured at Fort Fisher ended up here and died here.

Ron Stack, of North Carolina, had his great-great grandfather held prisoner there.  He has twelve letters sent by him.  He donated two of them and made copies of the other ten to the Friends of Elmira Prison.

The group also is working to gather material about the prison from other places.

When they were taking the building apart before being moved, they threw away modern nails, but kept the Civil War era rectangular ones and will sail them at a fundraiser.

They are also trying to acquire a 3-inch ordnance Griffin rifle cannon cast in 1863 at Phoenix Foundry, weighing 816 pounds.  They also are looking for a carriage for it.

--Old Secesh

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Elmira Civil War Prison Camp Building Arrives Home-- Part 1

From the Sept. 12, 2014, Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette by Ray Finger.

It finally took a 5 mile journey, but years of planning and acquiring lumber from the only surviving building of the infamous Union Elmira Prison.

Volunteers unloaded, sorted and stacked the lumber behind the Elmira Water Board's pumping station on Winsor Avenue which at one time was part of the former prison camp.

The group Friends of Elmira Civil War Prison Camp were the ones who finished the project, moving the lumber from Big Flats.

The building will be reassembled and used as a museum/learning center.

--Old Secesh

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Variances Sought for Elmira Civil War Prison Building

From the July 17, 2014, Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette by Ray Finger.

Zoning variances to allow the only surviving building at the former prison to be reconstructed are before the Chemung County Planning Board.  The parcel is zoned residential.

It will not be on the exact spot the building formerly was located.

There is speculation the building might have been used as a grainery, pharmacy, death house for storage of bodies (a lot of Confederates died there) until they could be picked up for burial at Woodlawn Cemetery.

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dixie's Loss Is Montana's Gain

From the Dec. 27, 2014, Great Falls (Montana) Tribune.

When the Confederacy was defeated, many former Southerners moved west and north to Montana.

Fort Benton, Montana was "a multi-racial melting pot that practically constituted an appendage of Missouri."

James William and Charlie Conrad were from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

James and Maria Conrad raised 13 children on Wapping Plantation.  With the war over, their 11 slaves gone, the plantation in ruins, they moved to Fort Benton according to family lore with nothing but a "single silver dollar."  From that, they built a business empire on the frontier.

Former Confederate veterans were in on the discovery of most of the largest strikes.

The songs "Dixie" and "Bonnie Blue Flag" were heard often and when news of Lincoln's assassination reached Montana, there was cheering in the streets.

This information is taken from a new book "Confederates in Montana Territory: In the Shadow of Price's Army" by Ken Robinson.

--Old Secesh

Monday, January 19, 2015

General Stephen Dodson Ramseur, C.S.A.-- Part 2: Of North Carolina

Stephen Ramseur was born in Lincolnton, North Carolina, and an 1860 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

In a surprise attack on the Union Army at Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864, the Confederates under Gen. Jubal Early routed the Army of Gen. Phil Sheridan and forced it out of their camps in disorganization.  Unfortunately for the Confederates, their troops were hungry and exhausted leading to them falling out of ranks to pillage the Union camps.

When Sheridan's counterattack struck, Ramseur was able to get a few hundred back in line and held off the Union attack for one and a half hours, showing great valor and bravery.

He was mounted on horseback and drew heavy fire the whole time.  He was wounded in the arm and his horse shot out from under him.  A second horse was also killed.  He was on his third horse when he was shot through both lungs, fell and was captured by the 1st Vermont Cavalry.

He died the following day at Meadow Mills, Virginia at Sheridan's headquarters at Belle Grove Manison.

The day before the battle, word had reached the gallant Ramseur of the birth of his daughter.  He was buried at St. Luke's Episcopal Cemetery in Lincolnton, North Carolina.

--Old Secesh

Stephen Dodson Ramseur, C.S.A.-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

In the last post, Gen. Sheridan mentioned that Confederate General Ramseur had been captured and was "perhaps mortally wounded."  I was familiar with this general's name, but didn't know much about him, so had to do further research.


 (May 31, 1837-October 20, 1864)

Was one of the youngest generals on either side during the war, just 27 when he was killed.

He distinguished himself at the Battles of Malvern Hill, Chancellorsville( where his brigade led the flank attack), the Overland Campaign and Valley Campaign.  He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek as Sheridan had mentioned.

--Old Secesh

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sheridan's Report on Battle of Cedar Creek-- Part 2

"At three o'clock in the afternoon, after some charges of the cavalry from the left to right flank, I attacked with great vigor, driving and routing the enemy, capturing, according to the last report, forty-three pieces of artillery and many prisoners.

"I do not know yet the number of casualties or the losses of the enemy.  Wagons, trains,  ambulances and caissons in large numbers are in our hands.  They also burned some of their trains.

"General Ramseur is a prisoner in our hands, severely and perhaps mortally wounded.  I have to regret the loss of Gen. Bidwell, killed and gens. Wright, Grover and Ricketts, wounded.  Wright is slightly wounded.

"Affairs at times looked badly, but by the gallantry of our brave officers and men, disaster has been converted into a splendid victory.  Darkness again intervened to shut off the greater result."

A Big, Come From behind, Victory for the Union.  --Old Secesh

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sheridan's Report of Battle of Cedar Creek-- Part 1

From the October 1864 Chicago Tribune.


"To Lieutenant General Grant, City Point:

Cedar Creek, Oct 19-- 10 p.m.

I have the honor to report that my army at Cedar Creek was attacked this morning and my left was turned and driven in confusion.  In fact most of the line was driven in confusion, with the loss of twenty pieces of artillery.

I listened from Winchester, where I was on my return from Washington, and found the army between Middleton and Newton, having been driven back about four miles.  I here took the affair in hand and quickly united the corps and formed a compact line of battle in time to repulse the attack of the enemy, which was done handsomely at about one o'clock in the afternoon."

More to Come.  --Old Secesh

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fort Fisher Falls 150 Years Ago Today

Today, January 15, 2015, marks the sesquicentennial of the capture of Fort Fisher, North Carolina, by a combine Navy and Army attack.  This effectively closed the port of Wilmington and closed the Confederacy to the outside world.

I have written about this fort often in this blog and a whole lot in my Running the Blockade Civil War Navy Blog, including a whole lot in the past month.  For the account of the battle, read that blog.

Fort Fisher holds a special place in my heart as it was that place that got me interested in the Civil War and then, history in general.  This is why I taught for 33 years.

A Real Big Thing.  --Old Secesh

Chicago Tribune Headlines for Battle of Cedar Creek

NEWS BY TELEGRAPH  October 21, 1864

More Thunder from the Shenandoah

Gen. Sheridan Defeats Longstreet and Captures 43 Guns

A Critical Situation Turned to a Victory

Full Official Dispatch from General Sheridan

Full Notes of Wednesday's Battle

Sheridan's Appearance Saves the Day and the Army

How to sell newspapers in 1864.  The telegraph was a big thing in getting war news to other places with hours of events out east.

--Old Secesh

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Find Out About General Sheridan's Role in Chicago's History and Postwar Career

The last several days I have been writing about General Philip Sheridan's postwar career in Chicago and as commander of the U.S. Army on the Great Plains in my RoadDog's RoadLog Blog.  According to the Chicago Tribune article, Sheridan is credited with saving the city three times, twice during and after the Great Chicago Fire.  He also saved it from the civil unrest of the 1880s and was key in the removal of Plains Indians to reservations.

Sheridan Road connecting Chicago and Wisconsin along Illinois' North Shore and Fort Sheridan in Highland Park were named for him.

--Old Secesh

"A Splendid Victory Was Won by Gen. Sheridan"

From the Dec. 14, 2014, Chicago Tribune, "Why it's called Sheridan Road" by Ron Grossman.

Followers of my RoadDog's Roadlog Blog have been reading about General Philip H. Sheridan's role in Chicago history which led to a major north-south road and a fort being named for him in the area.

This was from an article in the 1864 Tribune announcing the general's huge victory at the Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia.  It is the text of a military telegraph message from Secretary of War E.M. Stanton to Major General Dix on October 20, 1864.

"A great battle was fought and a splendid victory was won by Gen. Sheridan over Longstreet yesterday at Cedar Creek.  Forty-three pieces of artillery were captured and many prisoners, among whom were rebel Gen. Ramseur..  On our side Gens. Wright and Ricketts were wounded, and Gen. Bidwell killed.

"Particulars so far as received will be furnished as fast as the operator can transmit them."

E.M. Stanton
Secretary of War

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

North Carolina's Fort York to be Saved

From the Jan. 9, 2015, Davidson County (NC) Dispatch "state gives grant for acquiring property at Fort York."

The Clean Water Management Trust Fund gave $187,000 to help the Land Trust for Central North Carolina acquire about 13 acres on the Yadkin River in Davidson County.

This acreage contains parts of the former Fort York historic site, where one of the last Confederate victories of the war took place.  Unaware that the war had ended three days earlier (Lee's surrender which actually did not end the war), Confederates fought in April 1865 to prevent destruction of a rail bridge over the river.

Plans call for reopening the area and fort, long identified as one of the state's most significant unprotected Civil War sites.

--Old Secesh

Springfield, Mass., November 1864-- Part 3: St. Albans Raid, Battle of Honey Hill, S.C.

NOVEMBER 26, 1864--  The lone victim killed in the October St. Albans Raid was Elinus J. Morrison, a building contractor from Manchester, N.Y..  He had a life insurance policy with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. in Springfield.  "The company has promptly paid over the money to the family of the deceased, which places them in comfortable circumstances."

One of the wounded was Peter Brace of St. Albans, Vermont, who was a member of the 54th Massachusetts.  He is the great, great Uncle of Ron Brace, who started the Peter Brace Brigade of Civil War Re-enactors, based out of Springfield, Massachusetts.

BATTLE OF HONEY HILL--  Took place in Jaspar County, S.C..  Both the 54th and 55th Massachusetts, both black units, took part in it.  Many of the men were from western Massachusetts.

The entrenched Confederates were victorious.  Union forces lost 89 killed, 629 wounded and 28 captured.  Confederate losses were put at 8 killed and 39 wounded.

--Old Secesh