Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Public Not Noticing Redesigned US Penny

From the Dec. 14, 2010, Seattle (Wa) Times.

The Lincoln Memorial, which has been on the tails side since it replaced the wheat in 1959, is off. The new ones feature the Union Shield (in keeping with the Civil War Sesquicentennial).

Since 2010 began, some 3.6 billion of the new pennies have been made at Philadelphia and Denver mints. A mint spokesman says that few people have spotted it.

The penny with Lincoln's head on it came out in 1909, the centennial of his birth. For 2009, penny tails featured four different scenes of his life.


Of course, we have been deluged by newly designed coins since 1999, when the state coin project started. It was expanded to include US territories. Thousands of new people began collecting these quarters, including myself. I finally just finished my third collection, those minted "P" at Philadelphia were sure hard to get around here.

The government also released newly designed nickels featuring the Lewis and Clark Expedition for one year.

Now, they have a new national park series of quarters that is mostly unavailable to the public other than through collectors and coin shops. You sure can't get them at the bank.

I have gotten about five of them in change since they came out last year, even one for Gettysburg.

Where Are Those National Park Quarters. --Old B-R'er

Civil War Medal of Honor Winners Buried in Chicago


William Perkins Black
Edwin Goodrich
Augustus Merrill
William Henry Powell
William Toomer


Thomas H. Norman. USN


Charles Jenks Simmons (born Bombay, India)
David Ayers


George Kretsinger
Peter O'Brien
Andrew Spurling
William Stephans
James Watson

A Great Honor. --Old B-Runner

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Day to Honor ALL Our Veterans

I've already put my four US flags up. I would have liked to have them up Saturday and Sunday, but we had too many storms, but today looks like a good one on the weather front.

Of course, this day began after the Civil War, originally as Decoration Day as part of an effort of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization composed of former members of the Union Army.

It has grown to honor the veterans of all US wars, both before and since.

This would also include those who served the Confederacy. They were American soldiers as well.

Sad to see that Columbia, Missouri, has decided not only not to allow Confederate re-enactors to march in their Memorial Day parade, but Union and even Revolutionary War ones as well. Shame on that city.

To Honor All Those Who Have Served. Like They Say, "Freedom Ain't Free." --Old B-R'er

Central Connecticut's Civil War Contributions-- Part 2

ENFIELD-- Col. Augustus Hazard (1802-1868) founded Hazard Powder Company in 1843. Gunpowder was a million dollar a year business in Enfield and reached a war-time capacity of 12,500 pounds of gunpowder a day being made in 125 buildings with work being done 24-hours-a-day.

The company produced 40% of the powder used by Union forces in the war. A few of the buildings still exist today in an area called Powder Hollow.

SUFFIELD-- Sent 348 soldiers to war out of an in-town population of 287. (Must have been some folks from outside of town who signed up.)

VERNON-- Sgt. Benjamin Hirst, Co. D, 14th Connecticut, was in 34 battles and skirmishes. His letters home were turned into a book "The Boys of Rockville."

TOLLAND-- Out of a population of 1,130, 134 went off to war. Today, 34 veterans are buried in three cemeteries.

Interesting Stuff. --Old B-Runner

Central Connecticut's Civil War Contributions-- Part 1

From the April 15th Tolland Patch, by Chris Dehnel.

WINDSOR/MANCHESTER-- Christopher M. Spencer was born in Hartford, but grew up in Manchester and invented the Spencer Repeating Rifle, which gave the user seven shots in the time it would take to fire off one round on regular rifles used at the time.

President Lincoln tried it himself and Spencer kept that target. It is now at the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield. He founded the Spencer Repeating Rifle Company in 1862.

SOMERS-- Stonewall Jackson's favorite horse, Little Sorrel was foaled on Collins Farm on Prink Street, now Springfield Road. It was formerly a Union officer's mount acquired by Jackson at Harper's Ferry. Little Sorrel was so small that Jackson's feet almost dragged. He was riding her when he was mortally wounded.

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

On the Subject of Slavery

From the April 15th Globe and Mail.

According to Professor James McPherson, cotton yields in the South doubled every decade from 1800 to 1860 and accounted for 60% of US exports. (Since the South didn't have much shipping, most cotton went overseas on northern ships.)

Southerners considered their slavery morally superior to the "wage slavery" in e North's factories.

Actually, slavery was not only immoral, but highly inefficient. Adam Smith wrote that a slave "can have no interest but to eat as much and labour as little as possible.

The promise of upward mobility fuelled hard work in the North. The slave had no such promise in their system.

A Sad Part of US History. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Real Son of a Confederate Veteran Alive and Well in Alabama

From the May 22nd Birmingham (Al) News by Greg Garrison. (Civil War Interactive News)

You might think that not only the veterans who fought in the war are long dead, but their wives and children as well, but not so. There are even a few widows left and a fair number of children.

Tyrus K. Denney, 90, likes to say he doesn't know much about the the Civil War, but does know his father fought in it. His dad was 80 when Tyrus was born!!

He is retired, but keeps busy harvesting honey from ten beehives behind his home.

Tyrus was 13 when his father died and remembers that he never talked about the war.

His father was Thomas Jefferson Denney and was born in 1846 and about 18 when he enlisted in Co. H, 31st Alabama in 1862. Union forces captured him near Marietta, Georgia, June 15, 1864, and he was held prisoner at the infamous Rock Island prison in Illinois, signing his OA June 18, 1865.

T.J. Denney was in his 80s when he married his last wife, Dora, a widow. She was in her40s when Tyrus was born and they had three children together. T.J. died at age 91 in 1934. Tyrus was born May 8, 1921.

According to the SCV, during the depression, a lot of young women married old veterans because of their $13-$20 pensions they received, a lot of money back then.

Tyrus had three children and is a veteran of World War II where he served as a machine gunner. He is one of the last-living "Real Sons" according to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. They believe that there are still eight "Real Sons" in Alabama. Tyrus' sister, Vivial Smith, 88, of Cullman, Alabama, is a "Real Daughter" of the Confederacy.

It's All About the Money, "Ain't It!" --Old B-R'er

About That Fort Fisher Ferry-- Part 2: Just the Facts

From the May 25th Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

Some Things You May Not Know About the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry and NC ferries.

1. The NC State Ferry System is the second largest state-run ferry system in the US, behind the Washington state one. (We've been on most NC ferries as well as the one in Washington.)

2. The state has seven ferry locations. Four are free and three charge fare. The largest operation, at Hatteras, is free. (Imagine something from a government that's free?)

3. The last Southport-Fort Fisher fare increase was 2006, when it was raised from $3 to the current $5.

4. Homeland security has required eight additional positions for screening at the Hatteras ferry.

5. You can buy a season pass for $150, good on all ferry services. This is especially a break if you are a commuter using the service.

6. At the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry, it's first-come, first-served. Even if you have a season pass, you have to take your place in line and hope you get aboard.

7. The Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry operates two vessels, 365 days a year, from 5:30 am to 7:45 pm. They leave each terminus at the same time.

8. Six crewmen are required for under 150 passengers, eight if more.

A Highly Recommended Trip if You're Ever in the Area. --Old B-Runner

About That Fort Fisher Ferry-- Part 1

The State of North Carolina, like all governmental entities, is facing huge budget deficits and looking to raise money. One of the items under discussion is to raise the popular Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry fare.

Right now, it is $5 a car and passengers. The General Assembly wants to raise it to $10.

The ferry runs from the tip of Federal Point (called Confederate Point) during the war) near the remains of Battery Buchanan where the fort's garrison surrendered across the Cape Fear River to Southport (called Smithville before and during the war). The remains of the Front Range Light at Price's Creek, used during the war, can be seen near the ferry terminal at Southport.

Taking the ferry is a great treat with the scenery alone, but if your were to drive the road from Fort Fisher to Southport, you would have to go to Wilmington to get to the first bridge across the river. That would be about fifty miles and lots and lots and lots of traffic.

The Southport business community is up in arms about the whole increase, saying it will hurt them badly.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

On the Day (Actually 4 Days After) I Turn 60-- Part 2

Those Civil War gifts as a kid were mostly in the form of books and on two occasions I scored real big with the Blue and Gray toy sets. As a sixth grader, I started buying HO Scale Civil War soldiers which were much less expensive, about one cent each. I raised quite a large army between my 50 cents allowance, snow shoveling, and collecting 2 cent returnable bottles.

In high school, I took every history class I could, and would go through the library looking for Civil War stuff, especially anything dealing with Fort Fisher. I also went to the Palatine Library.

Like I said, at college, I was not just there for knowledge. I never had more fun than I did there. The Civil War was put on the back burner.

While I was at the University of Georgia, I was fortunate enough to take a class with Emory Thomas, one of the foremost historians of the war. I'll never forget the sandboxes where he would recreate battles. The Battle of the Crater was especially great as he blew up firecrackers right there in class. Now, that's realism to the extreme.

Still Not Finished. --Old B-R'er

Back on Line Again (Or Is It Back in the Saddle Again?)

Since Wednesday, I have been unable to post on this blog because I couldn't get it to come up on my regular page. I tried twice a day, but could only log into my other two logs. This one and my RoadLog one wouldn't come up, no matter how I attempted to go about it.

I couldn't even get the Blogspot site to come up.

I was beginning to think they would have to come to an end and was thinking of other alternatives.

Today, while voting for our local animal shelter in a contest to get money for it, I tried again on my Guest Spot, and was able to get to Blogspot and then gave my account and password, and...I'm back.

The Guest Who Came to Dinner (and Wouldn't Go Home). --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On the Day I Turn 60!-- Part 1

Also, on this date in 1861, 90 years before I was born, Staunch secessionist James Jackson killed Union Col. Elmer Ellsworth after he took down Jackson's Confederate flag at his hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. Ellsworth was the first Union officer killed in the war and a close friend of Abraham Lincoln. Both men became martyrs for their causes. (I wrote three entries about this incident in the last few days.)

Throughout most of my sixty years, I have been interested in the Civil War, starting when I was seven. Most birthdays and Christmases had Civil War-related gifts.

I was a Civil War buff until college where I somewhat lost interest, even though I took any course offered on the subject. I was at college to also have a good time, and I did.

Out of college, I started teaching history and geography, but only taught the Civil War for a few years early in my career. I started collecting a good-sized Civil War library with emphasis on naval aspects.

I started doing research on Fort Fisher with the idea of writing a book about it, but since then there have been several, so I don't have to do that now.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Monday, May 23, 2011

Was It From "Old Secession?"

From the December 11, 2010, Augusta (Ga) Chronicle "PBS' History detectives explores metal shavings" by AP.

There is a vial of metal shavings. Were these from "Old Secession," a cannon fired Dec. 20, 1860, in Charleston, SC, to celebrate the state's Ordinance of Secession?

The tube where these shavings are has the note that "Old Secession" was rebored at the Charleston Iron Works May 4, 1899, and fired by the Palmetto Guards Co. of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) in honor of the UCV's reunion that started May 10th.

About 30,000 Confederate veterans attended that reunion in Charleston.

Today, the whereabouts of "Old Secession" are not known. Some shavings from the reboring were given to the veterans in 1899. The Confederate Museum has several envelopes of these shavings, so they will be compared to the ones in the vial.

It is still not known whether the shavings were from this particular cannon. I guess we'll just have to wait until the show comes on the History Channel.

In Honor of the Heroes. --Old B-R'er

150th Anniversary of Death of First Union officer-- Part 3

On May 24th, the day after Virginia officially seceded from the United States, Lincoln ordered federal forces across the Potomac River to occupy the strategic Alexandia. Col. Ellsworth led a small detachment to the Marshall House where a 14-foot-by-24-foot Confederate flag was flying that could be seen from the White House.

Hotel owner James Jackson had said that the flag would come down over his dead body and that is exactly what happened. He charged up to Ellsworth with his shotgun and fired point blank into Ellsworth, blowing a hole into his chest.

Jackson was then shot and bayoneted by Corporal Francis Brownell.

Ellsworth's death shocked the north. Lincoln was devastated by the death of his friend and the body was laid out in the White House for public viewing. Thousands passed by the corpse, one of the first to be preserved using a new embalming procedure that became much more prevalent in the coming years.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Friday, May 20, 2011

Replica Cannon to Fort Macon

From the Dec. 12, 2010, ENC Today.com web site.

A 7,000 pound, 20-foot-long, working replica cannon designed and built by Wayne Community College students was delivered to Fort Macon State Historic Site this past winter.

The 32-pdr (so named for the weight of the shot if fired) was placed on an open bed trailer and left from Goldsboro, North Carolina and stopped along the way at the CSS Neuse State Historic Site in Kinston and in New Bern at the Historical Society and Civil War battlefield near Taberna.

I imagine it drew some glances from folks driving along US-70 along the way. Definitely something you don't see every day.

Over the last 18 months, mechanical engineering, machinery and welding students studied 1840's-era drawings of original cannons and chasses.

New plans to fit today's materials and technology were drawn up. Parts were created out of rectangular aluminum tubing. The barrel the pieces hold together was built elsewhere.

The project was sponsored by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation and cost $20,000.

Always Good to Have Another Cannon in a Fort. maybe They Can Make Some More for Fort Fisher. --Old B-Runner

150th Anniversary of Death of First Union Officer-- Part 2

Elmer Ellsworth was a confidant and close friend of President Abraham Lincoln and James Jackson was a staunch secessionist and both had an encounter in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 24, 1861. Jackson shot and killed the 24-year-old colonel as he was descending the hotel stairs after removing a huge Confederate flag from the roof of Jackson's three-story hotel.

Jackson fired a shotgun into Ellsworth's chest at which time his troops instantly killed Jackson.


Elmer Ellsworth left Mechanicsville before the war and moved to Chicago where he founded a military drill team called the Zouaves based on North African units serving with the French Army. These troops were noted for their baggy-red trousers and tasseled fezzes.

He later clerked in Lincoln's law office where he became a close friend, campaigning hard during Lincoln's presidential campaign.

After Fort Sumter, Ellsworth raised the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry, called the Fire Zouaves because they were largely recruited from the city's fire men.

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

150th Anniversary of Death of First Union Officer-- Part 1

From the May 15th Sarasota (Fl) Herald-Tribune "New York honoring 1st Union officer killed in the Civil War" by Chris Carola.

This coming Tuesday, May 24th, will mark the 150th anniversary of the death of Union Colonel Elmer Ellsworth.

Colonel Ellsworth and James Jackson died within a few feet of and within seconds of each other "yet the perspectives reflected in historical markers to the two men are as far apart as the 333 miles separating one tribute from another."

James Jackson killed Ellsworth in Alexandria, Virginia, and within seconds, was killed himself by the colonel's men.

Ellsworth's monument is in Mechanicsville, New York, on the Hudson River and doesn't mention Jackson's name. Jackson's plaque on the corner of a suburban DC building, where his hotel once stood, does not mention Ellsworth's name.

The monument in New York is recognized as that of the first Union officer to die. The plaque hails Jackson as the South's first martyr.

And, We Still Have a Great Divide Between the Sections. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fort Fisher Flag for Sale-- Part 3

The fort's commander, Col. Lamb, observed Parker's actions that day. In 1879, he wrote Parker, "I particularly noticed in the assault an officer who seemed to lead the column and who was almost recklessly brave....When we afterwards met on board the Steamer California...you had to come to see if you could be of any service to me in my wounded condition you can imagine my surprise...to learn that you were he and the pleasure it gave me to know that so brave and gallant foe had escaped."

According to tradition, the large flag was raised over Fort Fisher after its surrender.

The Garth's 50th Anniversary Annual Thanksgiving Auction was held Nov. 26th and 27th.

FOLLOWUP: The flags and artifacts were included in Sale 1054, Lot 585 and sold for $29,375.

I hope that the Fort Fisher State Historic Site got the lot, but doubt it.

A Brave Fellow. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fort Fisher Flag for Sale-- Part 2

James Parker was born in Newark, Ohio, and graduated from the US Naval Academy, serving in the Navy until 1856, when he resigned to sudy law under Salmon P. Chase.

According to a 1911 document, on April 13, 1861, he volunteered to return to the Navy. At the Second Battle of Fort Fisher, he commanded the USS Maumee and was in charge of the Third Division of Fleet Captain Kidder Breese's landing force.

Parker was commended for his part in the action, "Most notably, during the landing, he realized that he outranked Breese, but as Breese was under the direct command of Admiral Porter, Parker relinquished control, saying, 'I won't dispute about the command, but will waive my rank and go into this fight at the head of my men leaving it up to you to make the situation just as little disagreeable as possible.'"

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fort Fisher Flag for Sale-- Part 1

From Nov. 11, 2010, WECT Wilmington (NC) News.

Garth's Auctions in Delaware, Ohio is selling a flag from the Second Battle of Fort Fisher that belonged to Lt. Cmdr. James Parker. It has 34 applique stars and Parker's signature on it.

In the same lot, they are also selling Parker's appointment to lieutenant, a photo of him in uniform, several of his papers and a hand-sewn 25-foot-long naval pennant with 13 stars.

The company estimates these will bring between $25,000 to $30,000. The auction took place over Thanksgiving weekend. All items belonged to his descendants until now.

The flag measures 8 1/2 feet by 16 1/2 feet. There is also a May 1865 document concerning his capture of six Confederate officers and an April 1881 letter to Parker from the Secretary of the Navy William Henry Hunt. Lastly, there is a typewritten draft of a letter from Parker to the US Naval Academy asking that he be appointed to its board.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Looking Back

From the Long Recall Blog.

April 23, 1861-- (From the Philadelphia Inquirer)The Navy Yard at Norfolk (Va.) was leveled yesterday. The Pennsylvania, Columbia, Delaware, Raritan and Merrimac were scuttled and sunk. Guns spiked and thrown overboard.

The Pocahontas and Cumberland evacuated remaining forces to Fort Monroe.

Virginia had seceded.

The War Heats Up. --Old B-R'er

1859 USMC Uniform and Dress Regulations

Regarding officer swords and scabbards.

320. For the commandant: Either a sword of honor presented by the General Government, or that of a State, or the sword prescribed for other officers.

321. All other Officers: The sword of the pattern adopted by the War Department, April 9th, 1850.

322. For Enlisted Men: Same as US Infantry.

Most everything applicable to the USMC was also the same for CSMC.

More Government Regulations. --Old B-Runner

Monday, May 16, 2011

US Naval Battery at Battle of Spanish Fort

While looking for information of Fort Huger, I came across mention of a Naval Battery that participated in the Union attack on Spanish Fort, Mobile Bay, Alabama.

Of interest, it was commanded by Lt.-Cmdr. James H. Gillis and his sailors from the monitor USS Milwaukee which had sunk a few days earlier after it struck a mine in the Blakely River.

Today, the site of the battery is located between two private homes on a deadend street of a Spanish Fort subdivision. The land rises at this point which makes it an ideal location for a battery. There is a Spanish Fort Battle marker at the site.

I have written about the USS Milwaukee before. Of interest to me since I'm also a roadie, is that after the war, the ship was raised and its iron used for the construction of St. Louis' Eads Bridge across the Mississippi.

From the Civil War Album.com. The marker reads:

"Manned work by sailors and commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Gillis of the USS Milwaukee, sunk by a Confederate torpedo in the Blakely River. Armed with two 4.2-inch Parrott rifled cannons firing projectiles weighing 30 lbs., these guns fired on Confederate Batteries Red Fort and Slocomb during the Battle of Spanish Fort March 26-April 8, 1865."

The USS Milwaukee sank March 28, 1865.

Lt.-Cmdr. Gillis also commanded the USS Commodore Morris when it was commissioned Nov. 19, 1862.

Finding Something Else for a Crew to Do After Their Ship Was Sunk. --Old B-R'er

Fort Huger, Alabama

In the previous post, I mentioned that the mortar was at Fort Huger in Alabama. There evidently is not much information on this fort. At least I couldn't find much.

It was in northern Mobile Bay, near Spanish Fort, a little bit north of current U-10 and called a marshland battery. One map of the Spanish Fort battlefield shows another work just to the west of it, but I couldn't get close enough on the map to see what the name of the fortification was.

Today, there are house for sale at a place called Fort Huger Pt., which might be the fort's site.

When Confederate soldiers evacuated Spanish Fort at the end of the battle, they crossed a foot bridge connecting it with Fort Huger.

It would have been on Minette Bay.

There is also a Fort Huger in Virginia.

A Mystery to Me. --Old B-Runner

Sea Coast Mortar to Find a New Home?

From the March 3rd Baldwin County (Al) Mow.com.

A rare Civil War artifact may be on the verge of finding a new home. The Sea Coast mortar at the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce where it has been for decades, lacks a fence or any sort of security, but it would be extremely unlikely that anybody would steal the 17,280 pound object.

Bay Minette is considering donating it to the Baldwin County Bicentennial Park.

The 13-inch bore mortar is believed to have been used at King's Battery at Fort Huger and was cast at Fort, Penna, in 1861 and deployed by Union forces in 1862. Such mortars were generally used in sea coast fortifications and in mortar boats.

They could fire a 280-pound explosive shell up to a maximum range of two miles. Only 27 are known to be in existence today.


This one was found in 1967 after a three-day search on a sunken barge in a small canal off the Tensaw River. Metal detectors were being used, but it was finally found using a pole in five feet of water.

It was raised in the same year and temporarily placed in Tom McMillan's (who found it) yard. (I wonder what our subdivision association would say if I had a sea coast mortar in my front yard?)

They now know it was used at the sieges of Fort Blakely and Spanish Fort in upper Mobile Bay in March 1865.

It was then moved to the Baldwin County Board of Education's Administrative Office before being moved to the Chamber.

After being in the water for over a hundred years and sitting outside since then, it is in need of restoration.

Cannon in My Backyard? --Old B-R'er

Confederate Soldier Still Stands Tall-- Part 2

After his wounding at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Benson returned home for recovery, but returned. he had a talent as a scout and once stole a colonel's horse on impulse. he was at the battle of Spotsylvania.

Twice he was captured and twice he escaped. The first time, he swam two miles across the Chesapeake Bay and the second time in a 65-foot tunnel under the Union prison camp at Elmira, New York.

After the war, he and his brother walked back to Augusta, neither ever surrendering their rifles.

The Ladies Memorial Association of Augusta had previously erected a monument in the city's cemetery, but wanted a bigger one in a more prominent place. They chose Sgt. Benson to be the model for a Confederate soldier atop the new memorial. The base was 25 feet Georgia granite with a 47-foot obelisk of Italian marble designed by Von Gunden in Philadelphia and carved in Carrara, Italy.

Cost was $17, 331.35 and it was dedicated October 31, 1878, the same year the Confederate Survivors Association was formed.

Even at the advanced age of 79, Benson was leading Boy Scout Troops into the woods on 15-mile hikes. He died January 1, 1923.

Quite a Fellow. --Old B-Runner

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Confederate Soldier Still Stands Tall-- Part 1

From the April 4th Augusta (Ga) Chronicle by Kyle Martin.

In 1917, the Georgia Confederate Veterans Battalion assembled for a review before President Woodrow Wilson in Washington, DC. One of them was 74-year-old Berry Benson, former sergeant wearing his old uniform and holding the rifle he had at the end of the war which he never surrendered.

President Wilson's boyhood home was in Augusta and in the city's heart stood a 76-foot tall monument to the Confederacy. At the corners of the memorial were statues of famous Confederates, but way up at the top was an anonymous Confederate soldier. That soldier was based on Mr. Benson.

Sgt. Benson was born in Hamburg, South Carolina, a village that once was located on the other side of the Savannah River from Augusta, near the current Fifth Street Bridge.

He joined the Hamburg Minutemen at age 17 along with his 15-year-old brother. They were mustered into the 1st South Carolina and were part of the Edgefield Battery at the Battle of Fort Sumter. After that, they fought at Second Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg. Berry was shot in the leg at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Back Then: Wilmington, North Carolina

From the May 3rd Wilmington Star-News.

April 21, 1861 (150 years ago)-- Union President Lincoln extended the naval blockade to include North Carolina and Virginia.

Confederate Major Charles Pattison Bolles began construction on sand batteries on Federal Point (later renamed Confederate Point). These batteries were later incorporated into Fort Fisher.

May 2, 1911 (100 years ago)-- Allen kelly of Chinquapin in Duplin County died at the age 130. Known for his indistrious ways and habits. Hewed the first cross-ties for the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad. (The Wilmington & Weldon Railroad became of the utmost importance to the Confederacy during the Civil War as supplies from Wilmington were shipped to Richmond and Lee's Army.)

Married three times with 26 children and 57 grandchildren

May 4, 1961 (50 years ago)-- the first time the USS North Carolina Battleship Commission confirmed that the ship was to be moored in Wilmington as opposed to some other place in the state. Also, the commission hired a chief engineer and an assitant to arrange details to move the ship from Bayonne, New Jersey, to Wilmington.

All Those Years Ago. --Old B-R'er

Chicago Area Civil War Organizations

I belong to the Camp Douglas Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). At one time, there was a United Confederate Veterans camp in Chicago and a previous SCV camp. There are currently five SCV camps in Illinois and we are preparing to have ones in Springfield and one here in the Lake/McHenry County area.

There is a Sons of Union veterans organization in the Chicago area along with four other camps in the state.

There is also a National Society Daughters of the Union.

Four Civil War Round Tables are located around Chicago. These are groups that meet once a month to hera a talk on tbe war and share interests.

The very first Civil War Round Table started in Chicago and still exists. In addition, there are round tables in the Joliet area, Salt Creek (Downer's Grove), Northern Illinois (Northwest suburbs and McHenry.

And this is not mentioning the numerous Civil War re-enactment groups on both sides that are located around Chicago.

Alive and Well in Illinois and Chicago. --Old B-Runner

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blue, Gray Remain Vivid-- Part 4

It was a teenage trip to Gettysburg that hooked David Keller, a retired banker living in Chicago. But another pilgrimage to Franklin, Tennessee ten years ago inspired hi to take on a very special project.

Very little of that battlefield is preserved. The spot where a famous Confederate general was killed (Clebourne?) is today occupied by a Pizza Hut. It struck Keller that Chicago hadn't done much to preserve an important site where Camp Douglas once stood. It served first as a Union training camp for whites and later blacks and later was an infamous Confederate prison.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans camp that I belong to is named after the prison. There is also a massive Confederate monument at a nearby cemetery where 6,000 Confederate victims who died at the camp are buried.

The 60-acre camp, located in what is today the Bronzeville neighborhood. That portion of history has all but disappeared. Keller would like land to reconstruct two barracks to house museums to honor the Union troops and Confederates who were there.

He and some others have formed a foundation to raise money for it. http://www.campdouglas.org.

The War Lives ON. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blue, Gray Remain Vivid in Chicago-- Part 3

C.J. Sorensen, a senior at Kaneland High School in Maple Park, Illinois, is just getting into the Civil War. (Someone had better warn him that this subject is extremely addictive.)

He had the usual high school introduction, but a spring break trip really hooked him. he and some classmates helped straighten gravestones at Fredericksburg, Va., and surveyed parking areas at Chancellorsville.

But, it was the trip to Gettysburg that pushed him over. Standing on Little Round Top, "It was breathtaking, thinking of all those Confederates coming up the hill. I could almost feel them."

(I myself got hooked at Fort Fisher back when I was in second grade.)

I like the way Mr. Keilman based his article on the war's impact on people today. He covered the major groups: historical lineage (Daughters of the Union), interest groups (Civil War Round Table of Chicago), writers, young people and people on a mission.

The War Lives On. --Old B-Runner

Still Not Finished.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blue, Gray Remain Vivid in Chicago-- Part 2

"Yet, the Civil War's most enduring local legacy isn't found in bronze, limestone or asphalt. It's in the hearts of those who remain captivated by its battles, characters and timeless significance. Yes, those like me.

Robert I. Girardi, a Chicago homicide detective, has written or edited eight books on the conflict. He said his fascination began when his mother gave him the American Heritage Picture History of the War at age 4. That book spurred him to find out more. This book is a great one and helped "set the hook" in me as well. I particularly liked the battle maps with little soldiers.

By the time he was in high school, he knew enough to hold his own in arguments with an Alabama-born friend. (We all know Southerners generally are more interested in the war than Northerners.)

He went on to earn a Master's Degree in History (where he did his thesis on the role of railroads in the capture of Atlanta. He also led the Civil War Round table of Chicago (the nation's first Round Table). I belonged to it at one time. (I also majored in history as an undergrad and got my Masters in it.)

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

Blue, Gray Remain Vivid in Chicago-- Part 1

From the April 9th Chicago Tribune by John Keilman.


James Watson Pennington was a wagoneer for the Union Army, one of thousands who served from the Chicago area. Members of the National Society Daughters of the Union visit Civil War graves each year to remember the sacrifice they made. His headstone at the Plainfield Township Cemetery has all but worn away, leaving little of his service in that war 150 years ago.

The Chicagoland area had a profound effect on with the war, even though no battles were fought here. Some 36,000 Union soldiers came from the area and nearly 4,000 died.

Chicago was home to the infamous Camp Douglas, on the grounds of Senator Stephen Douglas's home. It started as a Union training camp before becoming a prison near the end of the war. Some 6,000 Confederate soldiers died. Thousands of them are buried at Oak Woods Cemetery on the South Side of the city.

Lincoln Park is named after the president and holds the statues of Union generals US Grant and Philip Sheridan. Streets from Logan Boulevard to Mulligan Avenue are named after war heroes.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Monday, May 9, 2011

So, That's Where They Were Buried

From the May 6th Apex (NC) Herald.

A cemetery containing the remains of 20 Confederate soldiers who died at the Battle of Bentonville in 1865 will be dedicated June 11th at 2 pm as part of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Second Saturday Summer Series which combines arts and history.

John and Amy Harper's home became a field hospital for the Union's XIV Corps where 600 Union soldiers were treated. An unknown number of captured Confederates also had their wounds tended there as well.

When the Union Army left for Goldsboro after the battle, 45 Confederates were paroled and left in the care of the Harpers. Even with their best efforts, 23 died and 20 were buried on the farm.

The exact location of the graves had been lost for many years. But 21st century technology and the discovery of a late 19th century photo enabled the cemetery to be found. The photo shows 20 headstones and foot stones just south of the Harper family cemetery.

Archaeologists using ground-penetrating radar confirmed the remains.

The Harper House Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy is raising funds for the headstones. However, the US government will provide them for free is someone contacts them.

Always Good to Honor Those Who Died Defending the South. --Old B-R'er

Florence, South Carolina During the War

From the April 12th SCNow.com.

During the Civil War, Florence only had 100 people, but was at the junction of 3 major Confederate railroads: the Wilmington and Manchester (Sumter), the Cheraw and Darlington and the Northeastern.

Major railroad bridges crossed the Great Pee Dee and Santee rivers. The area provided food and naval stores to the Confederacy. As such, the region was a target of Union attack.

Defense of the area was left up to local militias, either young boys or old men.

Fort Finger, at the 90 degree bend in the Great Pee Dee River, was near present day Johnsonville. It was positioned with obstructions to stop Union gunboats. Manned mostly by conscripts not otherwise able to serve and when a youth at the fort turned 18, he was sent off to the Army.

The fort was established because of Gen. W.W. Harlee, a railroad man and founder of Florence.

Sometimes the installation was called Fort Nose because of the general's large nose (but I imagine not to his face). Another name for it was Camp Reliance.

Between a Finger and a Nose. --Old B-Runner

Friday, May 6, 2011

He Was a She

From the Spring 2010 Bugle Call of the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Foundation "He Was a She" by Len Eagleburger.

While looking around for more information on Springfield, Missouri's Civil War cannons, I came across this article about a woman who served as an enlisted soldier in a Union regiment during the war. I am somewhat familiar with Albert Cashier who served in an Illinois regiment and is buried in Sauneman, Illinois.

Her "service name" was Alfred J. Luther and she joined the 1st Kansas Infantry regiment May 30, 1861 and later became a corporal. Her home was listed as Elwood, Kansas. She was wounded at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, Missouri August 10, 1861, and evidently was able to keep her gender secret. The 1st Kansas casualties that day were 300 of its 800 men (and woman) engaged.

She was promoted to sergeant May 1, 1862. She died at Lake Providence, Louisiana, on March 22, 1863 of Varioloid (smallpox), at the beginning of Grant's Vicksburg Campaign. That is when her secret was discovered.

She was 24 and is buried at the Vicksburg National Cemetery, Section K, grave #5971.

I came across someone looking for her real name so that it can be placed on her gravestone, but no one seems to know it. I would imagine Elwood, which was listed as her residence, was not her real home to keep her past secret.

Will the Real Alfred Luther Please Stand Up. --Old B-Runner

A Fort Fisher Editorial

From the April 22nd Wilmington Star-News editorial.

The editorial was accompanied by a photo taken after the battle of a Confederate cannon with the mouth of it blown off from the bombardment. Union soldiers are standing around it.

North Carolina did not secede until May 20, 1861, way after Fort Sumter was captured. It might not have, but when Virginia seceded, the Old North State was surrounded by the new Confederacy.

Other states may have had more famous battles, but North Carolina and the port of Wilmington played a key role.

By far, the most prominent Civil War site in the Wilmington area was Fort Fisher. Today, only a tiny fraction of the once massive fort remains. During the war, it protected the eastern entrance (New Inlet) of the Cape Fear River, a favorite of the blockade-runners.

The fort held out until near the end of the war when it was captured after two massive Union attacks.

The newspaper wants Wilmington residents to make a trip out to Fort Fisher and other area Civil War sites during this Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the Civil War.

I second That Motion. --Old B-R'er

Researching the Civil War-- Part 2


On May 6th, I spent the afternoon in the research library at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. I had wanted to find out what Illinois regiments were organized along the latter route of Route 66 during the war.

The librarian gave me a pamphlet put out by the Illinois Centennial Commission in 1962 which listed all Illinois regiments. Obviously, there were a lot of regiments raised in Cook County (Chicago), but every county along the route had at least one regiment composed primarily of companies from that county.

In addition, I also researched the Lake and McHenry county regiments (since I have lived in those two counties since 1975).

The library even has a multi-volume series on every Confederate soldier during the war. I researched both my family name and my mom's. I joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans based on her great-great grandfather.

Lots of Good Info in the Library. --Old B-Runner

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Springfield, Missouri's Civil War Cannons-- Part 2

The whereabouts of the other cannons is unknown.

Civil War researcher Len Eagleburger, who wrote the article, tracked the serial numbers of the three-known cannons dubbed the "Sister Guns" and found that they were manufactured at a Confederate arsenal in Augusta, Georgia, in 1863, and sent that summer to forces in Tennessee. Quite likely, the guns were used at the Battles of Chattanooga, Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain.


WILSON'S CREEK-- 5-6th grade, named for the battlefield and the creek.

BOWERMAN ELEMENTARY-- Milton Bowerman moved to Springfield in 1868 and was a member of the school board. He was originally from Wisconsin and a 1st lieutenant. The school was constructed in 1906.

YORK ELEMENTARY-- William J. York (built 1916). Was in the Union's 1st Arkansas Cavalry, Co. H which saw a lot of action along the Old Wire Road from Springfield to Fort Smith, Arkansas.

PHELPS CENTER FOR GIFTED EDUCATION-- (built 1931) US Congressman who formed Phelps' Regiment which fought around Springfield and at Wilson's Creek.

HOLLAND ELEMENTARY-- Colley B. Holland was a Union officer who fought at the Battles of Pea Ridge in 1862 and Springfield in 1863.

TEFFT CENTER-- Dr. Johnathan Tefft was a Union Army surgeon who came down with typhoid fever and was dying when the Sisters of Mercy nursed him back to health. In 1891, he asked the Sisters to start a hospital which eventually became St. John's Hospital.

Not Finished Yet. --Old B-R'er

Springfield, Missouri's Civil War Cannons -- Part 1

From the April 23rd Springfield (Mo) News-Leader.

Drury University, in Springfield has two Civil War cannons called 12-pounders. They were captured during the war and stored at Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois.

By the end of the war, they were considered obsolete. Eight cannons were brought to Greene County in 1870 through the efforts of US Representative S,H. "Pony" Boyd.

The field pieces were to be placed in North Springfield at Franklin Square, at or near present-day Washington Park. It was envisioned that this square would be a memorial to Union General Nathaniel Lyon and the soldiers killed at the nearby Battle of Wilson's Creek.

Franklin Square never came to be built and the cannons were placed around the county: one at Walnut Grove, one at Ash Grove and the rest in Springfield. One is still at Walnut Grove High School, but no one knows what happened to the one at Ash Grove. Some believe that it might be one of the two at Drury University.

Most of the other cannons burst. Until the 1980s, it was the custom in Springfield to fire the cannons for the 4th of July. The three remaining cannons were all capturedor surrendered. The ones at Drury University are visible by car as you drive by.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Researching the Civil War-- Part 1


After the SCV meeting and appearance at the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Liz and I drove out to the Camp Butler National Cemetery northeast of Springfield. We eventually found our way over to the Confederate burial ground (some 2,000 Confederates died here while it was a prison camp.

Confederate military gravestones are pointed, Union ones are rounded. Quite a few Confederates from the 10th Arkansas (Johnson's Regiment) are buried there.


Spent the afternoon in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The museum is featuring the "Boys in Blue" exhibit on Illinois soldiers during the war. Lots of interesting stuff in it.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Got My Gettysburg Quarter

Yesterday, I received a Gettysburg quarter at some point. I always look at quarters when I get them, especially when they are the state ones. I'm still looking for a Michigan and a Arizona letter "P" to fill out my third and last state book. Those "P"s are mighty hard to come by.

Last year, the mint began issuing National Park quarters, but I rarely see them. Back in March, I was in North Carolina and asked a coin dealer why. He said the government was selling only to dealers, but you could get a roll from one of them for $17,a tidy $7 profit on a $10 roll.

I was hoping to collect these new quarters, but not like that!! So far, I have come across just four of these new quarters. Until now, all have been of Yellowstone.

I think it's appropriate to get the Gettysburg one here in Lincoln's Springfield. n Something about a speech he gave there. Also, I came here because of a Sons of Confederate Veterans convention and have toured the Abraham Lincoln Museum and have been researching the Civil War along Route 66.

Got Quarters? --Old B-R'er

Scouts in Springfield

This past weekend, Springfield, Illinois, was overrun with Boy, Cub and Girl Scouts. I saw lots of Boy Scouts and a few Cub Scouts both days. both days. The Springfield State Journal Register also said there were Girl Scouts although I never saw any.

The paper said they were at Lincoln's New Salem Village north of town and some hiked 21 miles along the Lincoln Trail back to town. Sunday, they were at the Lincoln Tomb for a ceremony and had a parade back to the downtown.

This was the 66th annual trek to Lincoln's hometown. A great experience for a great organization,

While on our way to Springfield, we stopped in Genoa, Illinois, at a McDonald's. This was at 10:30 am, and I saw some scoutmasters and Webloes there. I was wondering why the kids would not be in school, so this must explain it.

I understand this was also a camping situation, my favorite when I was scouting.

Glad to See the Boys Getting Some History. --Old B-Runner

Monday, May 2, 2011

Death of Bin Laden

OK, this is a Civil War blog, but when something this big happens, it will be recorded.

We were in Springfield, Illinois, at an old Route 66 roadhouse called the Curve Inn, so-named for its location along a curve on the road as it left the city on its south side.

The place had a good crowd, music was loud, beer cold and games on TVs. One TV was changed to CNN which was saying that the president was going to have a news conference. Being this late, it must be important. We were thinking perhaps something was going to be done to Big Oil because of the gas prices or help was on its way to those poor people in Alabama and the South after last week's tornadoes.

We were caught completely unaware when the bottom of the screen flashed that Bin Laden was dead. After a moment for it to sink in, there were cheers all around with many toasts and smiles.

We left and went back to the TraveLodge on 66 and tuned in to CNN for Obama's speech. Ended up staying up quite late so am a bit tired this morning.

Last night, I was switching to other stations (like I had after 9-11) and found C-Span was showing Arabic station El-Jazeer(?). Mostly interviews with US officials, but there was an interesting one with a member of Pakistan's government. I took from it that they didn't know at all.

No Closure Yet, But Justice Served. --Old B-Runner

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Funk's Civil War and Illinois' Dixie-- Part 2

While talking with him, I mentioned I was looking for the Civil War along Route 66 for a possible Illinois Motor Tour next year. He had a big book on the Funk family's genealogy and got it out.

It turned out, Isaac Funk II, was serving in the Union Army when his father died. His mother went to Bloomington's Judge David Davis (whose home is a state historic site). The judge was a close personal friend of Abraham Lincoln and he persuaded Lincoln to sign a discharge so he could take over the family farm and business.

It is too bad that no one knows where that discharge is because of Lincoln's signature.


Just south of Funk's Grove, in McLean, is what some call the first truck stop on Route 66, the Dixie Trucker's Home, dating back to 1928 and closed just one day during that time because of a fire. It opened the next day under a tent until repairs could be made.

The name Dixie was chosen because of the warm home thoughts the word evokes. Otherwise, why would they name something Dixie this far north?

And, Dixie, as we know....

Not Looking Too Hard and Finding the Civil War on 66 Here in Illinois. --Old B-R'er

Funk's Civil War and Illinois' Dixie-- Part 1

April 29th, we drove to Springfield for the annual Illinois Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Conference in Lincoln's home town.

On the way, we drove Route 66 from Pontiac. Illinois, to Springfield. I was keeping my eyes open for any Civil War monuments or items.

Pontiac has a big Civil War monument by their impressive courthouse in the town square.

We stopped at Funk's Grove Maple Sirup (correct spelling) to buy some "sirup" since the new crop was in. That is some of the best sirup (spelled that way because no sugar is added) you'll ever have.

The Funk family started the sirup operations before the Civil War and expanded it after the arrival of Route 66. They are located just south of Bloomington-Normal.

The same family still owns it and we talked with a real live Funk, the great-great bunch of greats son. Our very first Route 66 trip as "roadies" back in 2002 (we'd been on it at times while it was still a road, but never thought anything of it) we pulled into the place at about 5:30 pm, after they had closed, but his mother Gladys came out and opened it for us. That's just the kind of people they are.

More to Come. --Old B-Runner