Friday, April 29, 2011

Getting Ready to Get My Civil War On

In just a few hours, Liz and I leave for Springfield, Illinois, for the 2011 Illinois Division Conference of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. That's right, Confederates in Lincoln's home town.

From Dwight to Springfield, we'll be on Route 66, another big interest of mine.

While in Springfield, I will begin compiling a list of Civil War sites along Route 66 for a possible Route 66 Association of Illinois Motor Tour in the future. After all, it is the Sesquicentennial of the war.

Two that I know of right now are Camp Butler and the GAR Museum.

These sites will be in addition to the Lincoln ones that everyone knows about.

Route 66 and the Civil War. --RoadDog

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Where Did the Civil War Begin?

From the April 5th Chicago Tribune "Civil War's start? Try looking in Maine?" by Ross Werland.

With all of the hoopla over the Sesquicentennial of the firing on Fort Sumter this month, was that actually where and when the Civil War started? Some say it started in Pensacola, Florida, or earlier in Charleston Harbor when Citadel students fired on the Star of the West.

The Tribune offers Brunswick, Maine as a possibility.

It could be argued there because that is the town where Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote "Uncle Tom's Cabin" after being inspired by a sermon she heard at a church that still stands at the corner of Maine Street and Bath Road, the First Parish Church.

The book helped jolt abolitionist opinion which mounted their attacks on the South.

It is said that Abraham Lincoln, when meeting her at the White House, said, "So this is the little lady who started this great war."

From Wikipedia: The Harriet beecher Stowe home is in town at 63 Federal Street. She lived here in this rented house while her husband taught at Bowdoin College. She wrote the book between 1850 and 1852. It is now owned by the college but not open to the public.

In addition, across from the church is the home of Bowdoin College professor Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain who made quite a name for himself at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Did It Start Here? --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fort Fisher's Beginning Anniversary

From the Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

On or around April 28, 1861, Major Charles Pattison Bolles began digging two small earthwork batteries a mile north of now-vanished New Inlet of the Cape Fear River.

He did this in defense of the state although North Carolina was still almost a month away from secession. Governor John W. Ellis and other prominent men were pushing the state to joining with its sister states in the new Confederacy, but technically, the state was still in the Union.

Warships did not take up blockading positions of the Cape Fear River until July.

Of course, four years later, those two small batteries had grown to be the most massive fort on the continent. One part of it was still called Battery Bolles in Charles' honor.

So Happy Birthday, Fort Fisher. --Old B-R'er

Georgraphy and the War

From the April 27th St. George (Utah) Daily Spectrum.

Hundreds of battles and skirmishes were fought during the war for control of transportation hubs, river crossings, railroad junctions, seaports and even high ground.

Other battles took place simply because great armies collided like at Gettysburg.

The one hundred mile stretch of land between Washington, DC and Richmond was particularly heavily contested. Eventually the fighting here looped around to the south of Richmond at Petersburg, Virginia.

Then, there was General Winfield Scott's "Anaconda Plan" designed to keep the pressure on the Confederacy by capturing major ports and Southern rivers. "Fort by fort, mile by mile, Confederate supply lines rolled up" as the Union gained control of the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.

It's a Geographical Thing. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Civil War and Me: The Dome-- Part 4

I also remember picking up a brochure from the Virginia Centennial Commission back then which had had a round, domed building built for the commemoration in Richmond.

It was called the Centennial Dome and also the Virginia Centennial Center. This building looked huge and, even better, it was devoted entirely to the war. This was a place I really wanted to visit, but unfortunately, never was able to.

I didn't even know if it was still standing.

According to Wikipedia, it was designed by Walter Dorwin Teague and one of the most modern buildings ever built in Richmond. Opening in 1961, it served as the visitors center for Richmond's Civil War attractions including the Richmond National Battlefield Park and the Museum of the Confederacy.

After the Centennial, it served as the Jonah L. Larrick Student Center of the Medical College of Virginia Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University until 2007. I remember having to look up where VCU was when they made it to the NCAA's Final Four earlier this month. At least I knew VCU stood for Virginia Commonwealth. I just didn't know where it was, though.

Unfortunately, it was torn down May 2, 2008, (I don't remember reading about it, though) and replaced by the new university dining and recreation facility. I'm glad to see that most of the exhibits are now at the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park in New Market, Virginia.

Guess I'll never get to the Dome. --Old B-R'er

The Civil War and Me: Trading Cards-- Part 3

While looking at the other peoples' memories of the Civil War Centennial, 1961-1965, I came across mention of Civil War Trading Cards. I had forgotten about these. I believe they were put out by the same folks who brought us baseball cards back them, Topps. And they came with a stick of brick-hard gum.

You got five cards for 5 cents. I collected all of them with lots of extras which I traded with pals. If I remember correctly, they were quite bloody with lots of gore. Just what a fifth grade boy would like.

I seem to remember one called "Massacre" with a Union soldier in the foreground, his mouth agape and with a musket and bayonet sticking in his chest.

I have no idea what happened to the collection. Perhaps my mom threw them out. Well. at least that's my story.

Broke Many a Tooth On That Gum. --Old B-Runner

Monday, April 25, 2011

A New SCV Camp in Illinois?

This past Wednesday, I met with Illinois Division Commander John Jeffers who is desirous of starting a new camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) here in Illinois for Lake and McHenry counties.

Right now, we all belong to Camp Douglas Memorial Camp #516 in Chicago, named after the infamous prison where over 6,000 Confederates died. However, meetings are 30 miles away in Des Plaines, which is too far in these days of $4 gas prices.

I have belonged to this camp since its beginning, twenty years ago and am a charter member.

We have the seven members necessary to be chartered for the as-of-yet unnamed camp. I have volunteered to be interim commander.

Right now, we are trying to set up an organizational meeting to get the camp rolling.

There is no name yet, but I'd like to see something to do with the CS Navy (because of all the lakes in the counties and Lake Michigan), or the name of a Confederate veteran buried in the area or perhaps another memorial camp to an Illinois Confederate prison.

I imagine we'll be recognized at this coming Saturday's SCV Illinois Division conference in Springfield, Illinois.

Good News for the Confederation. --Old B-Runner

First Casualty of the War was Irish-- Part 2

Major Abner (Baseball) Doubleday was at Fort Sumter and witnessed Daniel Hough's death. He wrote, "It happened that some flakes of fire had entered the muzzle of one of the guns after it was sponged. Of course, when the gunner attempted to ram the cartridge down, it exploded prematurely, killing Private Hough instantly, and setting fire to a pile of cartridges underneath, which also exploded, seriously wounding five men. Fifty guns were fired in the salute."


From Wikipedia.

One Confederate soldier bled to death during the attack after a cannon misfired.

Besides Private Hough, another soldier was mortally wounded during the salute (the only two Union deaths). Private Edward Gallway (another Irishman?) was mortally wounded and taken to a hospital in Charleston where he died a few days later.

Union Lt. Norman J. Hall permanently lost his eyebrows when he was burned while risking his life to put the garrison flag back up when it was shot down.

The troops were rowed out to the steamer Baltic after the surrender and from there taken north.

Stuff You Didn't Know. --Old B-R'er

First Casualty of War was Irish-- Part 1

From the April 13th Irish Central.

Private Daniel Hough, 36, was born 1825 in Tipperary, Ireland, emigrated to the US, enlisted October 1849 in Battery D of the 1st US Artillery Regiment.

He re-enlisted in 1859 at Fort Moultrie, Charleston, South Carolina, and was assigned to Battery E. He was described as having gray hair, blue eyes, fair complexion and 5'8" tall.

Hough was at Fort Sumter when it was fired on. After the surrender, a one hundred gun salute was to be fired by the fort before Confederates took possession. On the 47th round, a cannon fired prematurely and killed Private Hough.

He was buried on the Fort Sumter parade grounds and possibly later reinterred at Fort Moultrie's burial ground, the location of which has been lost to history. It is also possible that the body was taken to St. Lawrence Cemetery in Charleston, but there is no record of it.

It is known that he had two sisters and a brother named William who lived in or near New York City. They petitioned the government to move his remains from Charleston to NYC for proper burial, but that never happened.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Civil War at Sea-- Part 2

The North quickly began construction of its own ironclad, the USS Monitor, probably one of the most technologically innovative vessels ever built. And, it was built in just 101days and arrived at Hampton Roads just in time to save the wooden Union ships from destruction by the CSS Virginia.

The day before, March 8, 1862, the Virginia had attacked five Union ships and put there out of action. On the 9th, it returned to finish the job, but was met by the Monitor in what became the first-ever battle of ironclad ships. Neither ship won, but the Virginia withdrew and never attacked again.


BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS

The April 1862 capture of the largest city in the Confederacy, New Orleans, hurt the Confederacy by denying full access to the Mississippi River. New Orleans is located 100 miles from the river's mouth and was guarded b two forts.

Union ships under the command of David Farragut passed the forts, engaged and destroyed the Confederate fleet and captured the Crescent City.


MOBILE BAY

In August 1864, now Admiral Farragut again sailed past two protecting forts and closed the port of Mobile to Confederate use, although it wasn't captured until near the end of the war.


SUBMARINES

The Union had the Alligator, designed by French inventor Brutus De Villeroi. It was built in 1862 and had two failed missions before being lost at sea off Cape Hatteras while being towed.

The Confederacy had small steam-powered submarines called Davids. In 1863, one disabled a Union ship. In 1864, the Hunley, a human-powered submarine sank a US ship off Charleston, SC.

Don't Forget the Navy. --Old B-R'er

Civil War at Sea-- Part 1

From the April 18th Springfield (Mo.) News Leader "Civil War not confined to land" by Cliff Sain. Part of the News in Education series.

The Civil War is best-known for its land battles. As a matter of fact, most people know little if anything about the sea aspect other than perhaps the blockade or the Monitor versus the Merrimack.

But, there was quite a bit of history at sea.

The Naval portion of the war started a week after Fort Sumter was fired upon, when, on April 19, 1861, President Lincoln declared a blockade of the entire Confederacy, even though his Navy was in no way up to the task. To blockade 3,500 miles of coastline, the US had just 90, mostly outdated ships. Most of those were overseas or awaiting repairs. Actually, there were just three ships able to take up positions off Southern ports.

The Confederacy relied on blockade-runners to bring in much needed supplies. It's Navy started from absolutely nothing with few shipbuilding facilities. However, it did have the services of an innovative and tireless Secretary of the Navy, Stephen Mallory.


IRONCLADS

One of Mallory's innovations was the use of ironclads to break the blockade. Knowing that the South could not keep up with the North in warships, Mallory ordered one of the newest Naval technologies, the ironclad ship, to be used. The South had recovered the burned hulk of one of the North's most powerful warships, the USS Merrimack, when they captured Gosport Naval Yard in Virginia.

The Confederacy quickly set about rebuilding the ship as the CSS Virginia.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fort Fisher Medal of Honor Winner

Boatswain's Mate James Burnum, USN.

Won his Medal of Honor during action at Fort Fisher, NC Dec. 24-25, 1864 and Jan. 13-15th, 1865, while on the USS New Ironsides.

The New Ironsides led the ironclad division into action versus Fort Fisher. The ship opened fire with its starboard battery and its well-directed fire caused several fires, explosions and dismounted Confederate guns during the December attack.

On Jan. 13, 1865, the ship fought all day, taking on ammunition at night despite severe weather conditions.

On the 15th, when the enemy came out of their bomb proofs to defend the fort against the landing party, the ship's battery had disabled nearly every in the fort facing the shore before the order to cease fire was given from the flagship.

Boatswain Barnum was commended for highly meritorious conduct during this period.

A Brave Man. --Old B-R'er

The Cannon's OK

April 20th WWAY, Wilmington, NC.

Students from the Industrial Systems Technology Program went to Fort Fisher to examine the 32-pdr cannon that is fired in re=enactments.

They test the cannon for cracks.

This is applying what they learned in class to the real world, always a good thing.

Also good, no cracks were found.

So Fire That Big Old Gun. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Joliet's Civil Warrior: Col. Frederick Bartleson-- Part 3

Before his death, the 100th Illinois Infantry had presented a sword to Col. Bartleson. It is believed that he had it with him when he was killed.

After the war, the Joliet Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Post 6 was named after him. His widow, Kate, presented the sword to them and it was kept in a glass display case. She also presented them with a framed photo of him.

They also had a remnant of the regimental flag from the Battle of Stones River.

It is known that in 1901, the post was meeting at the Masonic Temple. In 1914, they met at Castle Hall at 314 Van Buren Street. IN 1827, they were at Knapp Hall at 311 Van Buren Street. Both of the last two locations are now part of Joliet High School's campus.

I was unable to find out how the sword came to be at the Joliet Historical Society where it is today, but hopefully will be able to find out something during the Route 66 Association of Illinois' Motor Tour this June.

Col. Bartleson's record shows he was a leader of the highest order.

A Real Hero. --Old B-R'er

The Civil War Comes to North Carolina

From the April 12th ENC "Civil War Trail Marks Union and Confederacy" by Shantell Middleton.

Some Civil War sites around Greenville.

RED BANKS CHURCH-- Greenville. Burned down by Union soldiers in 1863. Rebuilt 30 years later.

On Dec. 17, 1863, Federal troops attacked the nearby camp of Co. H, 3rd NC Cavalry and captured 35 men. Thirteen days later, the church was set afire. Co. G of the 3rd NC Cavalry galloped to the church, only to be have the Federal soldiers get in behind, them, capturing one cannon, four men and killing on Confederate officer.

HADDOCK'S CROSSROADS-- A Confederate camp where the road connects Greenville, Kinston and New Bern in Winterville.


WILLIAM STILL, JR., Naval historian says that North Carolina was the place for Confderetae Naval shipbuilding during the war. "There was a good bit of shipbuilding in this state prior to the Civil War. They built a lot of commercial vessels all the way from Wilmington to Elizabeth City."

During the war, two ironclad ships were built at Wilmington (and a third under construction when the city fell. Then there were also the ironclads Albemarle and Neuse.

Confederate North Carolina. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Joliet's Civil Warrior: Col. Frederick Bartleson-- Part 2

Frederick Bartleson had only been married when he joined the Union Army, becoming captain of a company in the 20th Illinois Infantry. Promoted to major at Fort Donelson, he lost his left arm at Shiloh.

After recovering, he was promoted to colonel and placed in command of the 100th Illinois Infantry, made up of 1,000 men from Joliet and Will County.

At the Battle of Chickamauga, Col. Bartleson was captured and held prisoner at Richmond's Libby Prison for six months. At the battle, the regiment was in the thick of the fighting, losing 165 of 315 men. Every color guard but one was killed.

He was exchanged in 1864. On June 23, 1864, while commanding a skirmish line at Georgia's Kennesaw Mountain, outside of Atlanta, Col. Bartleson was killed. His body was buried at Joliet's Oakwood Cemetery.

And, I'm Not Finished Yet. --Old B-Runner

Ceremonies Link Start of Civil War, Slavery's End-- Part 2

Tuesday, April 12th, gunners reenacting Maj. Anderson's artillery cleaned their guns and performed gun salutes. Black smoke from the Confederate shore batteries, two miles away, drifted over the fort's parapets.

These men have been "holding" the fort since Saturday, April 9th, and surrendered it April 14th to re-enactors representing the Palmetto Guards of South Carolina.

Seattle, Washington resident Mark Silas Tackitt, playing the role of Major Anderson said, "We're on sacred ground. It's hallowed ground to us."

Of course, today's Fort Sumter bears little resemblance to the three story high one back in 1861. Its walls were pretty well pulverized by Union artillery during the course of the war, then there were all the renovations made during the Spanish-American War.

A Politically Charged Time. --Old B-R'er

Ceremonies Link Start of Civil War, Slavery's End-- Part 1

From the April 13th Chicago Tribune. By Harriet McLeod, Reuters.

Does everything that is printed about the Civil War during this sesquicentennial have to have something about slavery in it?

Map of South Carolina with Fort Sumter shown and a photo of Confederate re-enactors shown standing in silhouette as the sun rises on an orange sky accompany the article.

About two-dozen Union re-enactors raised a 33-star American flag over Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor in the predawn hours this past Tuesday.

Soon afterwards, a signal shot was fired from a nearby Confederate fortification just as had happened this date 150-years earlier.

These were the first shots of the Civil War which took 620,000 American lives and ended slavery.

Chief Historian of the National Park Service, Robert Sutton, said, "Four million enslaved African-Americans saw this as their revolution." The theme for the Sesquicentennial nationwide is "Civil War to Civil Rights."

"Today we commemorate the beginning of the Civil War, but we also celebrate the fact that, with the end of the war and with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, more people were freed from enslavement at one time than at any time in world history," Sutton said.

And of course, a year later, slaves were freed in the capital of the United States and five months after that they were freed in areas not under Union occupation. The United States government was definitely fighting the war to free the slaves. That is why they moved so quickly on their freedom. You'd almost think they would have been freed the same time Lincoln called for the 75,000 volunteers.

Commemorating the Past. --Old B-Runner

Monday, April 18, 2011

Confederate Offspring Are "Last Link" with History-- Part 4

John McDonald doesn't remember much about his father, James Malachai McDonald, who was 79 in 1926 when John was born. He was his father's 16th and final child. His father died five years later.

His mother, Ida Lucinda was 43 when he was born. She was very attractive and had been married before she married his father, but that man had run off and she was hunting for a pension for financial security.

John remembers vaguely of sitting on his father's lap at church and playing with his watch. "I remember he got a whip on me a couple days before he died."

His father never talked much about the war.

A "Real Son." --Old B-Runner

Confederate Offspring Are "Last Link" with History-- Part 3

Continued from March 19th. From Dec. 13, 2010, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

After reading about Isham Booth, it is clear that he was not a slave-owning man, the case with the majority of Confederate soldiers.

In 2001, there were 130 "Real Sons," those whose fathers had actually served in the Confederate military. Today there are just 30. Many of these veterans married and fathered children late in life.

H.V. Booth has a knobby cane given to his father by the DAR in 1930 on the 65th anniversary of the end of the war. This year, 2010, marked the 65th anniversary of H.V. Booth's own war, World War II. he was in the Navy and served on a LST in the South pacific and was at the battles of Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

After the war, he worked more than 30 years at a Ford dealership, eventually owning it. Then he had another 20 years as night manager at a senior citizens home.

he has buried 2 wives and 2 sons.

More to Come. --Old B-R'er

Running the Blockade: Too Much Civil War News?-- CSS Alabama Cannon-- Tax Delay

Running the Blockade: New News About an Old War.


1. TOO MUCH CIVIL WAR NEWS?-- I can't help but feel a bit buried in the avalanche of Civil War articles following the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter. This is something I can live with.


2. CSS ALABAMA CANNON-- One of the two cannons raised from the Confederate raider CSS Alabama was put on display recently at the underwater sea laboratory in North Charleston where the submarine H.L. Hunley is being restored. One was sent to Mobile last year.

The wreck was discovered in 1984 and the cannons raised in 2001.


3. TAX DELAY-- The reason why we did not pay taxes Friday as the final day dates back to the Civil War and the day slaves were freed in Washington, DC, April 15, 1862, a full year after the Civil War began. Makes you wonder why they weren't freed right away.

Delay My Taxes, Please. --Old B-Runner

Friday, April 15, 2011

Joliet's Civil Warrior: Col. Frederick Bartleson-- Part 1

From the April 14th Joliet Herald-News "Joliet's civil warrior" by Tony Graf.

I had never heard of Union Col. Frederick Bartleson until my friend Lulu sent me this article. Then I ended up doing another hour's research on him. He was definitely a warrior of the highest level.

Besides being one of the first (possibly the first) to enlist, wounded and lost an arm in one battle, was captured and held prisoner for six months, exchanged and then killed on the battlefield in 1864. After the loss of the arm, that could have been the extent of his service, but it wasn't so.

He rejected pleas to retire and pleas from both Republicans and Democrats to run for Congress. While a prisoner, he wrote a poem.

Despite having only recently being married, he became captain of a company in the 20th Illinois and marched off to war.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

The Civil War and Me-- Part 2--

Back to Jame Malanowski's "My Civil War Centennial."

What the Civil War Centennial organizers wanted, of course, was to promote tourism, commercial enterprise and a little history as well. I'd say they achieved that.

It did cause people across the country, especially those with little knowledge to learn some more about that long-ago conflict. Of course, with people like me, it just farther flamed our interest. However, back then, my finances were very limited, a 50 cent allowance, so I wasn't able to buy as much as I'd like.

However, come birthday and Christmas, I was an easy buy-for. "What do you want?" "Let me see? Maybe something to do with the Civil War."

One thing Mr. Malanowski mentioned that I'd have to agree on was that the black experience in the war was pushed way to the back. I have no memories of anything about them.

At least, this time around, there will definitely be a focus on their role, as it should be.

Plenty More to Write About. --Old B-R'er

Charleston, SC: City of Many Civil War Firsts

From the Winter 2010 Hallowed Ground magazine.

Regardless of where you believe the seeds of the Civil War were sown, back at the Constitutional Convention, in Congress, John Brown at Harper's Ferry or the 1860 election, you have to admit that Charleston is right there with the FIRST state to secede and the FIRST battle of the war.

The FIRST heroes of the war came from the Fort Sumter bombardment: Major Robert Anderson on the Union side and Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard. I remember finding the gravestone of Pierre Gustavant Beuregard Walker in a Wilmington, North Carolina cemetery and thought that was a strange name until I saw the date of birth, April 18, 1861. I'd venture I know who his parents named him after.

Some say the FIRST shots of the war actually were those fired at the Star of the West steamer attempting to resupply Fort Sumter in January 1861.

The FIRST photographs of the war were taken in the city.

Later, the H.L. Hunley became the FIRST submarine in history to sink an enemy ship.

It's About Being First. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Civil War and Me-- Part 1

Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about the impact the Civil War had on my life.

I found this on the April 13th New York Times Opinion Page "My Civil War Centennial" by James Malanowski.

He said he was eight years old in 1961 at the time of the Centennial. I was almost ten. Like him, my parents took me to several Civil War battlefields during that time. Mr. Malanowski went to the Gettysburg and Antietam battlefields.

He mentioned that he had the Blue and Gray miniature soldiers, collected the Civil War trading cards and watched Johnny Shiloh and Johnny Yuma on TV. I had the soldiers (and think I ended up with two sets). I forgot about the trading cards which came in packs with gum like baseball cards. I know I had all of them at one time, but have no idea what happened to them.

I remember watching Johnny Yuma ("Johnny Yuma was a Rebel, he wandered alone"), but don't remember Johnny Shiloh.

Bringing Back Some Memories. --Old B-Runner

Fort Sumter, 150 Years Ago

From Winter 2010 Hallowed Ground Magazine. Definitely one of the best short accounts of the beginning of the Civil War that I have ever read.

April 14, 1861, after 34 hours of bombardment, Fort Sumter had suffered no major damage to its outside walls and no one had been killed. The enlisted and officer barracks had been gutted by fire and there was some damage to its interior buildings. Confederate positions had suffered very minor damage as well and no one had been killed either.

The surrender ceremony began at 2 pm April 14, 1861. On round 47 of a planned 100 gun salute, one discharged prematurely (not sure if these were rifles or cannons), killing Private Daniel Hough who became the first soldier killed during the war.

The salute was reduced to 50 shots and Hough was buried on the parade ground.

At 4 pm, Major Anderson led his command out of Sumter to the sound of "Yankee Doodle."

Just before Union troops left, the Palmetto Guard and Company B, SC Artillery Battalion entered the fort. Later General Beauregard, Governor Pickens and other dignitaries came and raised the South Carolina and Confederate flags.

Low tide prevented Anderson's men from going out to the relief expedition waiting outside the harbor until the next morning. They had to spend the time listening to boat whistles, cannon firing and cheering all around.

The Civil War Had Begun. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Trying to Avoid a War

From the March 11th New York Times Opinionater "John Gilmer's Last Stand" by Daniel W. Crofts.

In March 1861, Representative John H. Gilmer of North Carolina sent four letters to William H. Seward warning him that secessionists believed war was the only thing that would keep their movement going.

He suggested the government surrender Fort Pickens in Pensacola and Fort Sumter in Charleston. Continued occupation of these two places would drive the country into war.

In his first letter, he stated that the Lower South, which had already seceded, would not succeed if the Upper South (which hadn't) didn't join them. The Upper South contained 2/3s of the white population.

Gilmer believed that a year or two without war would allow pro-Union leadership to take over the Upper South.

It Might Have Worked. --Old B-R'er

Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861

From the winter 2010 Hallowed Ground Magazine of the CWPT.

On April 11th, Beauregard's staff went to Fort Sumter and demanded its occupation. Anderson refused, but said that if they waited a few days he would have to surrender because of lack of food and supplies.

The Confederates refused and said the fort would be fired upon at 4:30 am the following day.

Could the war have been averted with a few days' wait? I doubt it.

At the designated time, a 10-inch mortar fired from Fort Johnson and exploded over Sumter. Shortly afterwards, 43 Confederate cannons were firing on the fort. Anderson began firing at 7 am with Captain Abner (baseball) Doubleday commanding the first gun to return fire.

Three times April 12th, the fort's barracks caught fire and were extinguished. On April 13th, hotshot set the officer's quarters ablaze, threatening the fort's powder magazines.

Around 1:30 pm, the flagpole was destroyed with the colors being recovered and placed on the fort's wall. Col. Louis T. Wigfall rowed over from Morris Island to begin unofficial negotiations. Soon, other Confederate officers arrived and arranged a formal surrender and evacuation to take place on April 14th.

And Thus It Begins. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

That Fort Sumter Firing Sure Had an Impact on Me-- Part 1

Even to today, the Confederate firing on Fort Sumter has had a profound impact on my life. That is why I became a history/social studies teacher for 33 years. This is why I joined Chicago's Civil War Round Table and why I am a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

This is why I wanted to write a book on the Battles of Fort Fisher until others did so. I'd still like to write one on General Whiting or Colonel Lamb, the fort's commanders. This is why I majored in history in college and took every history class I could in high school.

While a student at Northern Illinois, I rarely went to the library, but after I graduated, I'd go back and spend hours on end researching Fort Fisher in the library's stacks.

This is why poor wife Liz was dragged to more battlefields than she ever wanted to visit. And, why, even without kids, I don't have as much dough as I might. And, let's not even get into the clutter in my study.

Way Too Much Influence on Me. --Old B-Runner

Who Fired the First Shot?-- Part 2

The situation worsened. The honor of firing the first shot was originally given to Virginia Congressman Rodger Pryor, but at the last minute, he declined and James volunteered for the job. There is some question as to whether Captain James actually pulled the lanyard, but he definitely gave the order to fire.

After Sumter's fall, James enlisted in the Third South Carolina Battalion and was elected commander and promoted to Lt.-Colonel. The unit served along the SC coast until ordered to Richmond.

In September 1862, at the Battle of South Mountain, preceding the Battle of Antietam, he was shot in the chest and presumed killed in action although some accounts say he was mortally wounded and died later in the night.

The Central Maryland Heritage League says Col. James was buried at Wise's Cabin, but the wooden head board had disappeared by 1874 when the South Mountain Confederate dead were re-interred at Hagerstown, Maryland. It is assumed that he was buried with other Confederate unknowns at the city's Rose Hill Confederate Cemetery.

Did he or Didn't He? --Old B-R'er

Who Fired the First Shot?-- Part 1

This being the anniversary of Confederates in Charleston Harbor opening fire on the Union's Fort Sumter and actually starting the shooting war, this blog entry is very appropriate.

From the winter 2010 Hallowed Ground Magazine of the CWPT.

The firing on Fort Sumter was very much like the opening shots at Lexington, Massachusetts Green, the "shot heard around the world" that started the American Revolution, 86 years earlier, turned a theoretical war into a real shooting one.

Some popular legends have militant Virginia secessionist Edmund Ruffin as firing it, but the distinction was actually that of Captain George Sholter James of the South Carolina Artillery. (I always thought Ruffin fired it.)

Born in 1829 and grew up in South Carolina's capital, Columbia. At age 17, James left college to fight in the Mexican War and then returned to graduate and teach. In 1856, he returned to the military, serving in the US Army. Upon South Carolina's secession, he resigned his commission and went to Charleston to offer his services.

Initially serving as an aide to Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, he brought messages to Major Anderson in Fort Sumter.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Coming of the Civil War on Chicago's North Shore

From the April 3rd Wilmette (Il) Life edition of the Chicago Sun-Times.

On April 13, 1861, men from the North Shore (north of Chicago along Lake Michigan) boarded Chicago & Milwaukee trains and headed to Chicago for the latest war news and Union rallies. A group of patriotic students from Northwestern missed the train and walked the twelve miles to it.

There was no town of Wilmette in 1861, but New Trier Township did exist. Out of a total population of 700, 40 went to war during its duration.

One of these was farmer John Fieger who joined the 22nd Illinois on March 2, 1862 along with neighbor Mathias Setzer. Fieger was 44 at the time, a bit old. He was captured at the Second Battle of Kernstown July 24, 1864, and sent to Andersonville where he died August 20, 1864.

Company F of the 8th Illinois Cavalry was made up almost entirely of North Shore men. One was Charles Westerfield, whose parents owned a large farm along present-day Michigan Avenue in Wilmette. Private Westerfield joined shortly after his 18th birthday and fought in the east with the Army of the Potomac.

In April 1865, he was involved in the hunt for John Wilkes Booth. He survived the war, returned home, worked as a surveyor and helped lay out the streets of Wilmette.

His father, John, became Wilmette's first village president in 1872 and later Charles served as village clerk.

Just a Little History. --Old B-Runner

Died from Civil War Wound Inflicted 17 Years Earlier

Kind of a strange story coming from New York City's Green Wood Cemetery.

Thomas W. Chandler was born in 1829 and died at age 52 on March 19, 1882.

At age 31, while living in Astoria, Queens, he enlisted as a private in the 67th New York Infantry where he rose to the rank of sergeant major. When he re-enlisted, he became a second lieutenant and later was transferred to the 65th New York in 1864.

he was wounded by a Minnie ball in the left temple where it remained embedded for six weeks before the one-and-a-half ounce led ball was removed, but part of it remained.

He died 17 years later from meningitis and complications from the wound.

Things Happen. --Old B-Runner

Friday, April 8, 2011

We "Got" the Civil War Commemorations Right Here in Illinois-- Part 2

LAKE COUNTY DISCOVERY MUSEUM, WAUCONDA, ILLINOIS-- 27277 N. Forest Preserve Road, www.lakecountydiscoverymuseum.com (through Aug. 21st)

Current exhibit "Civil War High Tech" shows how firearm and other technology developments helped the Union win the war.

Museum director Justin Collins said: "Rather than doing a timeline of the war or the history of local units, we wanted to find a subject that was more suitable for our visitors with children and make the exhibit interactive."

That "interactive" is quite the catch-word in today's museums which make such a play to keep young folks interested.

Visitors get to see a Gatling Gun (forerunner of he machine gun) and listen to the sound of it firing as compared to the sound of a cannon. They can also step into the basket of a Union balloon and get a view of a battlefield.

Too often, museums overlook the Naval side of the war, but not this one. People can peer out of the turret of an ironclad (probably a monitor) and climb into a replica of the Confederate submarine Hunley which became the first sub ever to sink an enemy ship.

Collins also said that "Richard Gatling, who invented the Gatling Gun (and was from North Carolina), said he hoped it would deter armies from facing each other because it was such a devastating weapon--kind of the way we thought about nuclear weapons as being a deterrent to war."

I'll Definitely be Getting to This Exhibit One or More Times. --Old B-Runner

We "Got" the Civil War Commemorations Right Here in Illinois-- Part 1

From the April 7th Chicago Tribune "Civil War events mark solemn anniversary" by Nancy Maes.

Of course, this coming Tuesday marks the 150th anniversary of the even that brought on the Civil War, the firing on Fort Sumter. You hear lots about what the southern states are doing to commemorate it.

Well, Illinois is doing stuff as well.


CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM, CHICAGO, 1601 N. Clark Street www.chicagohs.org. (This weekend only)

Re-enactors from the 1st Illinois Brigade Volunteers will be reliving the two days before the war began. They will be drilling, cooking and the drum and bugle corps will play. They will, however, be carrying reproductions of the Springfield rifle because those of the Harper's Ferry model (which would be more appropriate for that time) are too expensive.


DUPAGE COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM, WHEATON, ILLINOIS, 102 E. Wesley St. www.dupagemuseum.org., (April 16 to September 1, 2012)

Has an exhibit "DuPage County and the Civil War: A Local Perspective" which takes a more personal view displaying artifacts from local soldiers and the home front along with letters and photos.

Next, the Lake County Discovery Museum. --Old B-R'er

Civil War Memorial Highways Here in Illinois

The South is not the only place where the sesquicentennial commemoration will be taking place. There are plenty of events right here in Illinois.

Just from a road stand-point, I live right off US-12, which is called the Iron Brigade Highway. Farther south is US-20, the US Grant Highway and the first US transcontinental road, the Lincoln Highway (US-30, Il-31, Il-38 and Il-2) and the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, US-6.

Not bad for a backwater of the war.

Gettin' My Kicks on the Lincoln. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Federal Government Kaboshes Fort Sumter Commemoration?

It took Confederates two days to shut down Fort Sumter out in Charleston Harbor. It may take the federal government one moment this week if they are unable to come up with a compromise and pass a budget.

And this comes at a really bad time as a lot of things are planned for this weekend and leading up to the April 12th 150th anniversary of the opening of the Civil War.

No budget and the first things shut down are the National Parks and Historic Sites. That simple.

A light display is planned for this Saturday "From Unity to Divided Nation" starting this Saturday at dusk. A single spotlight will be shone into the air until early morning April 12th, when it will be split into two at the moment the first shot was fired. Then the light will go out as a shell is fired over the harbor two hours later.

Of course, this may all come to naught if things aren't decided.

Come on Politicians!! --Old B-R'er

The Citadel Finds It's "Big Red"-- Part 2

In 2007, Citadel alumni discovered a red palmetto flag in the museum of the State Historical Society of Iowa. It had been presented to the Society in 1919 by a soldier from the 20th Iowa and it matched the descriptions of the flag from the past.

Citadel alumni learned the soldier had acquired it after the April 1865 surrender of Fort Blakely, Alabama. The only South Carolinian present was an artillery battery commanded by a Citadel graduate who had served in the Morris Island battery.

Unlike the Citadel Spirit Flag inspired by the mural and state flag of South Carolina, the crescent of the Iowa flag faced inward. No eye witness account of the crescent has been found, but a February 1861 newspaper illustration shows the cadets flying a flag with the Iowa arrangement.

It probably never will be known whether this is the flag the cadets flew that day, but evidence points to it. The State of Iowa Historical Society has been gracious enough to loan the flag to the Citadel where it will displayed at the Holliday Alumni Center.

In 2009, the school's Board of Visitor's voted to adopt the Iowa version as the school's Spirit Flag.

A Bit of History Sleuthing. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Citadel Finds Its "Big Red"-- Part 1

From the Winter 2010 Hallowed Ground Magazine of the Civil War Preservation Trust.

On January 9, 1861, cadets from the South Carolina Military Academy, known today as The Citadel, fired what are considered the first shots of the war at the ship Star of the West which was attempting to resupply Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

Above their battery on James Island, they flew a red banner with a white palmetto tree and crescent moon that had been given to them by the family of local flag maker Hugh Vincent.

After the event, the flag was largely forgotten until 1992 when it was declared the Citadel's official Spirit Flag. The flag itself was gone to history.

Unfortunately, as the school learned later, one detail on the new flag was incorrect and that was which way the crescent was facing.

Then, came an interesting find.

That, Later. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Siege of Charleston, SC, Timeline-- Part 3

SEPTEMBER 9, 1863-- Union attempt to take Sumter by landing party in small boats fails.

OCTOBER 5, 1863-- Confederate torpedo boat David attacks ironclad USS New Ironsides but fails to sink it.

JULY 3, 1864-- Union amphibious assault on Fort Johnson repulsed.

FEBRUARY 17, 1864-- Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sinks the USS Housatonic.

FEBRUARY 17, 1865-- Charleston abandoned as Sherman's army marches through South Carolina.

Lots of Action Here. --Old B-R'er

Siege of Charleston, SC, Timeline-- Part 2

APRIL 7, 1863--Union ironclad attack on Fort Sumter turned back.

JULY 6, 1863-- Rear Admiral Samuel DuPont relieved from command of South Atlantic Blockading Squadron for failure to capture Charleston. replaced by John Dahlgren.

JULY 10, 1963-- Federal forces land on Morris Island.

JULY 18, 1863-- Battery Wagner attacked with the 54th Massachusetts leading the way.

AUGUST 1, 1863-- Beginning of a prolonged bombardment on Charleston.

AUGUST 17-September 2, 1863-- Bombardment of Fort Sumter. Seven million pounds of projectiles fired and the fort was reduced to rubble.

AUGUST 22-23, 1863-- The Swamp Angel, a Parrott Rifled cannon fires into Charleston before its barrel explodes.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Monday, April 4, 2011

Siege of Charleston, SC, Timeline-- Part 1

From the March 20th Columbia (SC) The State.

From November 1861 to July 1863, 125 blockade-runners ran the blockade into Charleston Harbor, making it the second busiest port for the business behind Wilmington, North Carolina.

The fall of Morris Island in 1863 sent blockade-runners along Sullivan's Island from !864 to the city's fall in February 1865.


MAY 28, 1861-- The blockade of Charleston Harbor began six weeks after the fall of Fort Sumter.

JUNE 16, 1862-- outnumbered Confederates turn back Union advance on Charleston at the Battle of Secessionville on James Island.

OCTOBER 22, 1862-- The Union loses the Battle of Pocotaligo during a three-day expedition to disrupt the Charleston and Savannah Railroad.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Oregon Bus Driver Files Suit Over His Confederate Flag Flying Firing

From the Match 17th Argus-Observer.

This story has gotten a lot of coverage in the press. It shouldn't have even happened, but those groups that don't like the flag keep up the pressure and wishy-washy pcs just go along with them.

Ken Webber was fired because he refused to remove a Confederate flag from his truck in the Phoenix-Talent Oregon School District bus parking lot.

Mr. Webber has filed a federal lawsuit to get his job back claiming that his First Amendment right to free speech and 14th Amendment that guarantees him equal protection under the law had both been violated.

He wants reinstatement, back pay and attorney fees. He was fired because flying the Confederate flag violated the district's policy banning symbols that could be offensive to minorities.

Last November, the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of a Tennessee school district to suspend a student for wearing a t-shirt and belt buckle with a Confederate flag on it.

I don't know about others, but I am sure getting tired of having my heritage attacked by minorities, but hey, aren't we in the South a minority now. Perhaps we should start finding the term African-American, "N" word (which one group can say but another can't) and offensive lyrics and language in rap and hip-hop songs offensive and demand suspensions and firings whenever they're heard.

This would also include using these rap "icons" to pitch products like the new pop one with that Snoop-Dog.

Congratulations Mr. Webber and Good Luck. --Old B-R'er

ECU Grad Students Explore Blockade-Runner-- Part 2

The Modern Greece was believed to have been destroyed at the time, but a storm in 1962 uncovered the ship 300 yards off Fort Fisher and in 25 feet of water. Divers found the blockade-runner in tact along with its cargo.

They recovered 11,500 artifacts. Some of these were immediately conserved and placed in museums all over North Carolina. However, due to the size of the find, a lot of the artifacts were placed in tanks and left for future conservators..

We're coming up on the 150th anniversary of its sinking and the 50th year of the wreck discovery next year.

Eleven East Carolina grad students and two student interns from nearby UNC-Wilmington were put on the task to study the type, amount and condition of the still "undiscovered" artifacts in the tubs. They photographed, recorded, catalogued and determined future conservation needs of each item.

Then they were put in new containers for future work.

Hey, I Would Have Volunteered for the Work. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, April 2, 2011

ECU Grad Students Explore Blockade-Runner-- Part 1

March 20th Greenvile (NC) Daily Reflector.

Graduate students in East Carolina University's maritime history program used part of Spring Break to "rediscover" artifacts from the blockade-runner Modern Greece. They did this in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) and the Fort Fisher State Historic Site, and the Friends of Fort Fisher. This took place March 7th to 9th.

On the morning of June 27, 1862, the 210-foot Modern Greece had evaded Federal blockading ships on its way to the eastern entrance to the Cape Fear River, called New Inlet back then.

It was spotted by the USS Cambridge, which opened fire and gave chase and then joined in by the USS Stars and Stripes. The blockade-runner was chased ashore.

Fort Fisher opened fire on the stricken ship to keep its cargo of clothing, cutlery, rifles and ammunition out of Union hands.

More to Come. --Old B-R'er

"Back to the Beach" Car Show at Fort Fisher Today

Last night, 200 classic and antique cars made a drive from the Snow's Cut Bridge north of Carolina Beach, down US Highway 421, to Fort Fisher.

The cars will be at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site all day today if you missed the parade last night. Come out and see the cars while you can still afford to put gas in the car. The Coco Loco Party Band will provide entertainment. I imagine they'll be playing some of that great old Carolina Beach Music.

This is an annual event.

Admission to the show is free to the public.

Wow, Great Cars and an Old Fort!! How Can You Go Wrong With That? --Old B-Runner

Friday, April 1, 2011

USMA Class of 1841

Along with Sewall Fremont, many of this class at West Point participated in the Civil War on both Confederate and Union sides.

Using Cullom's Register of the USMA, I came across these names of the class that I recognized:

Josiah Gorgas
Thomas J. Rodman
Nathaniel Lyon
John F. Reynolds
Robert Garnett
Richard Garnett
Don Carlos Buell

The Long Gray Line. --Old B-R'er

Col. Sewall Fremont

Back on March 28th, I wrote about Sewall L. Fremont, a colonel with the 1st Corps of North Carolina Volunteer Artillery and Engineers. He was from Wilmington, NC, and was put in charge of coast defenses from New River, NC, south to the South Carolina line. I came across his name while researching the history of the city of Fremont, North Carolina.

I'd never heard of Sewall Fremont, so decided to do some research. After all, this is a man connected to Wilmington, the Cape Fear River and, of course, my favorite, Fort Fisher.

It turns out that he attended the United States Military Academy from 1836 to 1841 and graduated with that class. He served in the Second Seminole War and the Mexican War as well as other assignments during a twelve year Army career.

After his resignation, he became a civilian engineer and worked on North Carolina river improvement and railroads until the Civil War began and then defended his state.

Never Heard of Him. --Old B-Runner