The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Coming Up on the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg-- Part 1

From the Nov. 28, 2012, Goldsboro (NC) News-Argus "Historian shares fact about battle" by Dennis Hill.

Wayne County soldiers (Goldsboro is the county seat) were on the front lines of Battle of Fredericksburg.

"While troops from other states were defending Goldsboro in December 1862, soldiers from Wayne County were in Virginia, helping hold the main Union Army from advancing on the Confederate capital of Richmond."

Still others were at Fredericksburg, defending it from from frontal attacks from a huge Union army.

Civil War historian Lynn Bull talked about the Battle of Fredericksburg Tuesday night at Wayne Community College (had I not been a trip to the Christmas shows at Myrtle Beach, SC, I would have surely been there).  His talk was part of a lecture series commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

That December, the Battle of Fredericksburg was part of a Union strategy to strike at several points along the Southern perimeter with the hopes that pressure coming from many points at once might collapse the already stretched Confederate defense.

Would Have Liked to See the Talk.  --Old Secesh

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Lincoln" Director Spielberg Speaks in Gettysburg-- Part 2

Spielberg spent seven years working on the movie, which I will be seeing next week.  While doing the research, Spielberg said that Lincoln became like one of his oldest and dearest friends.  "Lincoln wanted us to understand that equality was a small "D" democratic essential."  He regards the three-minute speech as the "most perfect prose poem ever penned by an American."

I was thinking of going to the 150th anniversary commemoration of the Gettysburg Address, but after talking with one of the Antietam rangers, I may have to reconsider.  I drive to North Carolina every Thanksgiving and can easily arrange to drive by Gettysburg.

However, the ranger said that last weekend he had driven the hour from his house to Gettysburg and was surprised by the larger than usual crowds there as well as preparations for the Monday actual anniversary of the speech.

Maybe I'll Have to Change My Mind.  We'll See.  --Old Secesh

"Lincoln " Director Spielberg Speaks in Gettysburg-- Part 1

From the Nov.20, 2012, Hagerstown Herald-Mail, AP.

Steven Spielberg expressed humility Monday as he delivered the keynote address at cereminies marking the 149th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address.  "I've never stood anyplace on earth where it's easier to be humbled than here."

Spielberg, of course, has just released his biopic on the man who led the country in one of its direst moments.  His address is commemorated annually on Nov. 19th, the date in 1863 he gave the speech. at the Soldier's National Cemetery in Gettysburg, near the actual site, four months after the battle that turned the tide of the Civil War when Robert E. lee's final invasion of the North was turned back.

The first one was at Antietam which I visited earlier this month.

More to Come.  --Old Secesh

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Antietam Battlefield Lights Up

From the Nov. 18, 2012, Picket News.

The 24th Annual Antietam National Battlefield memorial Illumination will take place the first Saturday in December to honor the fallen in the battle.  It is put on by the Antietam National Battlefield, the American Business Women's Association and Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

It has been held since 1989 and consists of 23,110 luminaries, one placed every 15 feet along a 5-mile route throughout the battlefield.  Annually the event attracts more than 20,000 from 6 PM to midnight.

That Has to Be Some Sight.  --Old Secesh

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Learn Those Civil War Ancestors of Yours

From the Nov. 18th Picket News (Md).  "Antietam National Battlefield Host Genealogy Specialist..."

On Nov. 16th, John Deeben, geneaology specialist at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC, discussed army service in the Civil War with an overview of what's available and how to go about researching your ancestors who fought in the war.

There were two presentations, one at 11 Am and the other at 2 PM at the Antietam National Battlefield Visitor Center.

His discussion covered both Union and Confederate veterans.

Nice to know there is information and how to go about finding and using it.

The Past Is Nice to Know.  --Old Secesh

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Doing My Civil War Thing: The Battle of Antietam

Yesterday, I drove the short distance from Hagerstown, Maryland, to Sharpsburg to visit the Antietam Battlefield.  I was not sure if I had been to it before, but now know for a fact that I had been. 

I went to the town of Sharpsburg first and drove all over looking for a place to get breakfast, but didn't find any on Main Street or just off it.  I did find breakfast being served at the Battle View Market.

It cost $4 a person to get into the museum.

I had originally planned to go to Gettysburg on the way to North Carolina, but this year is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, which took place just two months earlier, September 17th.  Of course, the Union "victory" here enabled Lincoln to turn the whole course of the war and issue his Emancipation Proclamation.

A Great Side Trip.  --Old Secesh

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Battle of Antietam Here I Come

In a few minutes I'll be leaving for my annual trip to get together with family in North Carolina and this year am planning on taking a different route to get there, driving the National Road from Zanesville, Ohio, to Cumberland, Maryland, which isn't too far from the Antietam battlefield, or Sharpsburg if you're of Southern leanings.

The battle was fought in September 1862, and recently marked its sesquicentennial commemoration.

Looking forward to it.  I've only been there once before and that was iin the 70s.

Old Secesh

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Brigadier General William R. Cox, CSA

Moved to Edgecombe County in 1857 and was a lawyer and very involved in the militia, organizing the Ellis Artillery Company.  Entered the Confederate Army in the 2nd North Carolina and fought in the defense of Richmond.  Wounded at Chancellorsville, he missed the Battle of Gettysburg, but returned to his command in time for the Battle of Wilderness where he was promoted to brigadier general. 

He led his brigade so well that General lee remarked "God bless North Carolina."  At Appomattox, Gen. Cox led his division in the last charge  of the Army of Northern Virginia.  At the surrender, "Defeated, but not conquered the gallant Cox bore his eleven wounds and laid down his sword with the soldierly grace of a true hero."

These three soldiers: Henry Lawson, William Pender and William Cox were all heroes for North Carolina's Edgecombe County and truly were, as the ode to the state goes, "The First at Bethel. The Farthest at Gettysburg and Last at Appomattox."

Those Gallant North Carolina Men.  --Old Secesh

Gen. William Dorsey Pender, CSA

William Pender was born in Edgecombe County, NC that was later annexed into Wilson County.  He spent his youth in and around Tarboro.  In many was, he was like the other Confederate officers in that he wasmannerable and well-deucated.  Even better, he was West Point-educated and well-trained for military service. 

He was also very sensitive to the miseries caused by war and once wrote about the hardships faced by Southerners under Union occupation and as to his men, " Our men march and fight without provisions, living on green corn when nothing better can be had.  But all this kills up our men." 

He was also appalled at the depredations pulled off by the Army of Northern Virginia when it invaded the North.  He wrote of the enemy, "I am tired on invasions for altho' they have made us suffer all that people can suffer, I cannot get my resentment to the point to make me feel indifferent to what goes on here.  I never saw people so badly scared."  Contrast this to Union general Sherman's thoughts marching through Georgia.

In 1863, Dorsey Pender was appointed major general, the youngest officer of that rank in the Confederate Army at age 29. He was in Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg and was mortally wounded..  After the battle, lee wrote: "I ought not to have fought the Battle of Gettysburg.  It was a mistake, but the stakes were so great I was compelled to play; for had we succeeded, Harrisburg, Baltimore and Washington were in our hands, and we could have succeeded had General Pender lived."

Ther Gallant Pender.  --Old Secesh

Friday, November 16, 2012

North Carolina's Edgecombe Guards: First At Bethel

From the March 2011 Historical News "Civil War Sketches."

In May of 1861, North Carolina became the last southern state to secede and promptly accepted 10,717 volunteers to defend the state. .  One of these group was a company of 133 that became known as the Edgecombe Guards.

They were destined to become the first Confederate troops to engage Union forces in battle (after Fort Sumter).  They marched into history at the Battle of Big Bethel in Virginia.

Tarboro, North Carolina's Henry Lawson Wyatt was a typical Confederate infantryman.  He owned no slaves and was fighting in defense of his state, state's rights and the Southern way of life.  There wasn't much to set him apart from the other men in his company, other than he was about to die for those beliefs on that hot June day in 1861, the first of 258,000 to die as "the Confederacy marched from cause to effect to fated failure."

The nineteen-year-old carpenter met his death as did so many others, following orders.

First At Bethel.  --Old Secesh

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wayne County, NC, in the Civil War

From the March 2011 Historical News.

Wayne County furnished two companies of soldiers for the Cause, about 250 soldiers.  Before North Carolina seceded, there was quite a bit of support for the Union, but most of them joined the Confederate military when the time came for them to choose. 

One of the companies became known as the Goldsboro Rifles and was commanded by Captain Thomas W. Slocumb.

The county was fairly untouched during the war, with the exception of the Battle of Goldsboro Bridge in 1862, until Sherman's Army fought at the nearby Battle of Bentonville and then occupied Goldsboro for an extended period of time.  Unfortunately, there was much pillaging and depredations by the Union troops.

One band of them, led by a man named Wilson was particularly bad until a group led by Dr. D. B. Person attacked them and drove them to Goldsboro and Wilson was shot at the corner of East Center and Holly streets.

Good Riddance.  --Old Secesh

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Strange Coincidences Between the Kennedy and Lincoln Assassinations-- Part 2

1.  Andrew Johnson, who replaced Lincoln, was born in 1808.

2.  Lyndon Johnson, who replaced Kennedy, was born in 1908.

3.  John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.

4.  Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1938.

5.  Both assassins were known by three names.

6.  Both names are composed of 15 letters.

7.  Lincoln was assassinated in a theatre named "Ford."

8.  Kennedy was shot in a car "Lincoln" that was made by "Ford."

9.  Lincoln was shot in a theatre and his assassin ran and hid in a warehouse (well, barn).

10.  Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin hid in a theatre.

11.  Both Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmnnn.  --Old Secesh

Monday, November 12, 2012

Strange Coincidences Between the Lincoln and Kennedy Assassinations-- Part 1

From the March 2011 Historical News, State of North Carolina: Edgecombe, Nash, Wayne and Wilson Counties.

I knew some of these facts, but not others, but there are a lot of coincidences between the assassinations of the two presidents.

1.  Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846, John F. Kennedy in 1946.

2.  Lincoln was elected president in 1860, Kennedy in 1960.

3.  Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.

4.  Both lost children while living in the White House.

5.  Both presidents were shot on a Friday.

6.  Both were shot in the head.

7.  Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy,  Kennedy's secretary was named Lincoln.

8. Both were assassinated by Southerners

9.. Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.

More to Come.  --Old Secesh

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Salute to Our Civil War Veterans

They are no longer with us, but fought for beliefs and to preserve their country and way of life.  And, that would be on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Thank You Veterans.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lincoln's Tomb to Get a Makeover

March 5, 2012, by Andrew Maloney.

A total of $700,000 in state funds are slated for work on the Lincoln Tomb in Springfield, Illinois, which houses the remains of Mary Todd Lincoln, her husband and three of their children.

Watedamage will be repaired, special moulding refinished and repairs to electrical and climate controls.

Renovation will also be done on brass plaques and statue retaining rails.  A leaky roof has caused the problems and it has since been fixed.

And, just in time for the movie.

Old Secesh

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mr. Lincoln's Beard

From the Nov. 8, 2012, Yahoo! Movies "The endearing reason why Lincoln grew his beard."

I am anziously awaiting the new Steven Spielberg bio-pic "Lincoln" starring Daniel Day-Lewis, which has limited release this weekend.  From what I've seen of the trailers, it is going to be a great one.

When you think Lincoln, you think long, lanky and beard, but he did not always have that beard.  Actually, it came about from a suggestion of an 11-year-old girl, Grace Bedell,  who had seen a campaign poster of him and wrote a letter which read in part:

"I have got four brothers and part of them will vote for you anyway and if you let your whiskers grow I will try and get the rest to vote for you you would look a great deal better for your face is so thin.  All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you."

Lincoln wrote back saying,  " As to the whiskers have never worn any do you not think people would call it a silly affection if I were to begin now?"

He, however, took the advise and by the time of his November 1860 election had a full beard.

Several months after the letters were exchanged, the two met in Westfield, New York.  Grave remembered, "He climbed down and sat with me on the edge of the platform. 'Grace, look at my whiskers.  I've been growing them for you.'  Then he kissed me.  I never saw him again."

Was the beard for better or worse?  Did it help get him elected?

One publication from back then called him, "the leanest, lankest, most ungainly mass of legs, arms and hatchet-face ever strung upon a single frame."

But, Mary Loved Him.  --Old Secesh

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Charlotte Artillery

The Charlotte Artillery was Battery C, 1st Regiment North Carolina Artillery and hailed from Charlotte, NC, hence the name.  There is a re-enactment group for this organization.

From their website.

They have located three of the guns that were once used in the battery:

SERIAL 1569 is at Chicamauga

SERIAL 1568 is mounted on the Wall of Guns at Gettysburg

The Amherst College gun is a US-made 6-pounder brass casting gun that was "confiscated" by Confederates at the outbreak of the war.

This gun was returned to New Bern, NC, where it was captured for awhile and is now at the NC Museum of History in Raleigh.

Old Secesh

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chicago Foundry to Replace Sword Stolen from Lincoln Tomb

From the March 5, 2012, Springfield (IL) State Journal-Register by Jason Nevel.

The Civil War artillery officer atop the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site had his three foot copper sword stolen sometime between September and November 9, 2011.  In October, a 16-year-old boy climbed the tomb to the statue and grabbed the copper blade, which came loose, dropped to the ground and broke into two pieces.  He was arrested in December.

It is believed to be the first thing stolen from the tomb since 1890 when the same sword was stolen, only back then, it was bronze.

Much of the material for the statues on the tomb comes from melted-down Civil War cannons.

Marshall Svendsen, owner of True Form Productions in Chicago is replacing the sword for free.  It will take about 40 hours, requiring multiple steps.  Normally he'd charge $2,500 for the work.  He is considering welding the sword to the statue.  The former copper one was held on with a bolt.

Sounds Like a Sticking Situation to Me.  --Old Secesh

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Civil War Weapons With Dick Stilling-- Part 6


Muskets were referred to as smoothbores.  Rifles had special grooves which caused the bullets to spin and increase distance and accuracy.

The Minie Ball which was widely used by both sides was a particularly nasty bullet that was concave in the rear and made of soft lead which resulted in horrific wounds.

One of his was an 1826 Springfield flintlock that had not been rebored for rifling.


He had several, one of which was an artillery short sword that closely resembled those used in ancient Rome.


Mr. Stilling is a graduate of NIU and was at the recent Army-NIU game, and despite his military background, pulled for the good old Huskies.  I had wanted to go to the game if for nothing else, but to see first-hand, the tremendous amount of tradition that accompanies West Point (and, of course, the Fort Fisher Armstrong Gun).

One incident he related was that he was doing some research and when he got out of his car was approached by a full-bird colonel who, after seeing his cane, wanted to know if he could help.  Dick said no, but the colonel assigned two cadets to assist him anyway.

An Interesting Talk.  --Old Secesh

Monday, November 5, 2012

Civil War Beer Returns to Market

From the Oct. 9, 2012, Washington Post by Linda Wheeler.

The Monocacy Brewing Co. of Frederick, Maryland, bottled its first batch of beer from a Civil War recipe in late September and Antietam Ale is now ready for distribution.  It is the first of nine planned beers to be available during the sesquicentennial.

The National Museum of Civil War Medicine researched and came up with a variety of historic era recipes which will be used.  It is only fitting that Antietam Ale is a classic English bitter drink, well-balanced and has a light hop and malty aroma.

It is ruby red in color and, true to Civil War beers, lower in alcohol.  As of yet, it is not available in retail stores, but can be found on tap at Brewer's Alley in Frederick, Maryland, where you can catch some blues on Wednesday nights.  Blues and the War.

It is located at 124 North Market Street in downtown.

I'll be going through Frederick after going to Gettysburg on my way back to North Carolina for Thanksgiving, so will have to stop for a drink, and hopefully a bottle.  I'd like to taste and collect them all.

Combining Two of My Favorite Things.  --Old Secesh

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Burnside Carbine

Yesterday, I mentioned that Mr. Stilling had a Burnside carbine with him at the presentation.  I had never heard of one, but figured that perhaps the Burnside in question was none other than Union General Ambrose Burnside.  I was about to ask if he was, when Mr. Stilling said he was.

So, Wiki and sources here I come.

One site was offering two Burnside 4th Model carbines.  One was an early four-digit serial number, .50 caliber carbine for $2,500.  The other was a .54 caliber 1863-1864 one for $2,999.

According to Wikipedia, the Burnside  was a breech-loading carbine in wide-use, designed and patented by Ambrose Burnside who resigned from the Army before the war to devote himself full-time to his invention.  It used a special brass cartridge that was also designed by Burnside.  He designed the carbine in 1855.

In 1857, his design won a carbine competition at West Point against 17 other models, but even so, few were ordered until the Civil War came about.  Then came an order for 55,000 and eventually that number rose to 100,000.

It was the third most-popular cavalry carbine after the Sharps and Spencer (I'd heard of them before.)

Burnside was actually a poor officer and had begged Lincoln not to place him in command of the Army of the Potomac before the Battle of Fredericksburg, saying, "I was not competent to command such a large army as this."

I Didn't Know That.  --Old Secesh

Friday, November 2, 2012

Civil War Weapons With Dick Stilling-- Part 5

Then, Mr. Stilling showed us a Starr pistol which he said was the third most popular side arm in the war.  In 1963, he had paid $12 for it in Dahlonega, Georgia, the same as the government spent for it during the Civil War.  This particular one had what he termed as trench art, a series of hash marks on the handle and he believe it was very-likely captured from the Confederate unit Cobb's Legion.

I'd sure buy one of those for $12.


Carbines were generally issued to cavalry units.

A Burnside Model #4, named after the man with the facial hair.  I'd never heard of one of these.

Smith Carbine with breach-open.

Spencer Carbine, the one that Confederates claimed Yankees could load on Sunday and shoot until Saturday.

John Wilkes Booth received two of these from Mary Surratt the day after Lincoln's assassination.  Stilling believes she was definitely not as innocent as she claimed to be and was very much in the conspiracy.

An Interesting Talk.  --Old Secesh