Monday, December 30, 2013

Gettysburg's General Gibbon's Witness Tree

From the May 27, 2008, Gettysburg Daily.

This might be the only remaining "witness tree" along the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge.

Legend has it that Union Brigadier General John Gibbon was wounded near it during Pickett's Charge on July 3, 1863.

Sadly, it doesn't appear to have many years left to live.

Old Secesh

Gettysburg Witness Trees

From the April 30, 2008, Gettysburg Daily.

Visitors often ask how many current trees on the Gettysburg Battlefield were there July 1-3, 1863. The best guess is between 100-200.

The War Department operated Gettysburg National Military Park before the National Park Service took over in 1933.

They thought some "witness trees" were important enough to mark and protect and small brass tags were placed on some of the trees along with lightning rods.

There are five witness trees in one section along Confederate Avenue.

This is a good photo essay and worth checking out.

Save That Old Tree. --Old Secesh

The Lincoln Burial Flag: "The Applegate Flag"

From Civil War Talk.

In preparation for Lincoln's state funeral, the U.S. Treasury Department telegraphed Annin & Co., and ordered 37 U.S. flags with 36 stars. The thing was, however, that there were just 35 states in April 1865, with Nevada slated to gain entrance to the Union in July 1865.

The flags were classified as "hasty flags," with stars sewed just on one side and not intended to fly. These flags were to be used just to drape the casket.  The Museum of Southern History in Jacksonville, Florida, has one of these flags called the "Applegate Flag."

 Major Lewis Applegate was a surgeon with the 102nd New York Regiment. It is dated April 15, 1865 though it is not known how it came into his possession. Lincoln was the first president to be embalmed and there is the possibility that Applegate might have been involved in the procedure. The flag had been passed down through the major's family for generations.

--Old Secesh

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top 15 Civil War Movies-- Part 2: "The Red Badge of Courage"

8. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) (You lookin' at me?)

7. Gettysburg (1993)

6. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962)--    French adaptation of Ambrose Bierce story.

5. The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

4.  Birth of a Nation (1915)

3.  Gone With the Wind (1939)

2.  Glory (1989)

1.  The General (1926) about the Great Locomotive Chase.

There You Have the Top 15. --Old Secesh

Top 15 Civil War Movies-- Part 1: 'The Outlaw Josie Wales'

From the September 28, 2012, Washington Times "The List: Top 15 Civil War movies."

15. Cold Mountain (2003)
14. The Horse Soldiers (1959) John Wayne as Col. Benjamin Grierson's Raid and Battle of Newton Station 13. Gods and Generals (2003)

12. The Outlaw Josie Wales (1976)
11. Shenandoah (1965)
10. The Beguiled (made in 1970, released in 1971 (and I'm not familiar with this one at all)
9.  Andersonville (1996).

--Old Secesh

"Gone With the Wind" Items Displayed-- Part 3: Scarlett's Shantytown Dress

Jim Tumblin bought Scarlett O'Hara's shantytown dress first, after seeing it on the studio floor and learning it was going to be thrown away. He bought it and a rack of clothes from other movies for $20. (You have to wonder what these would be worth today?)

But, things got considerably more expensive and he had to pay $8,500 for Scarlett's straw hat from the Twelve Oaks barbecue and $50,000 for Vivian Leigh's Academy Award.

He also has a copy of the script Selznick gave Hattie McDowell, who became the first black to win an Academy Award.

Next year, 2014, will be the 75th anniversary of GWTW (that's be "Gone With the Wind).

--Old Secesh

Friday, December 27, 2013

"Gone With the Wind" Items Displayed-- Part 2

David O. Selznick early on in the filming decided to avoid mentioning the name Ku Klux Klan, even though it was a "meeting" of this organization from which Rhett Butler had to rescue the wounded Ashley Wilkes and several others.

In addition, the "N" word was not used.

Hattie McDowell, Mammy in the movie, and Butterfly McQueen, Prissy, were three dimensinal characters, yet they were also stereotyped.

The exhibit also has the dress Scarlett O'Hara was wearing in the Shantytown scene, Bonnie Blue's velvet dress from her final scene and Belle Watling's burgundy velvet jacket and fur muff.

And, There Are More Things. --Old Secesh

Thursday, December 26, 2013

"Gone With the Wind" Items Displayed-- Part 1: Segregation At the Premier

From the August 30, 2012, "NC museum displays 'Gone With the Wind' film items."

The North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh has a new exhibit "Reel to Reel: The Making of "Gone With the Wind" which has some 120 items. These are from the personal collection of Jim Tumblin, former head of Universal Studios makeup and hair department.

It includes costumes, Vivian Leigh's Academy Award and story boards.

There had been much segregation at the movie's set in Culver City and black actors had been banned from the December 1939 movie premier in Atlanta.

"Just like you can't talk about the Civil War without talking about 'Gone With the Wind' without talking about racism," said Steve Wilson, film curator at the University of Texas in Austin, home of producer David O. Selznick's papers.

Racisn Sadly Was a Way of Life Back Then. It Was Just the Way It Was. People From Today Should Be Wary of Putting Today's Mores On People From Back Then. --Old Secesh

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Union Soldiers Buried at Hampton National Cemetery in Virginia

From the Dec. 16, 2013, Hampton (Va.) Daily Press "A landmark graveyard filled with poignant stories of sacrifices and courage" by Mark St. John Erickson.

This article originally attracted my attention because of 28 German U-boat sailors buried there after their U-85 was sunk during World War II. I wrote about them in my World War II blog. I have also used Mr. Erickson's articles on the War of 1812 on several occasions in that blog. He sure gets the interesting things to write about.

Alongside the Germans are several hundred Union soldiers who died on nearby battlefields and many additional who died at the vast Hampton hospitals. In addition, some 300 Confederates who died at the hospitals are buried at the Hampton National Cemetery as well.

Six of the Civil War dead were awarded Medals of Honor, including two sailors who received their medals for action at the Battle of Mobile Bay. In addition, Sgt. Alfred B. Hilton and Pvt. Charles Veale who served in the 4th USCT who were stationed at Yorktown and killed at the Sept. 29, 1864, Battle of Chapins Farm.

A 65-foot Union monument dominates the cemetery landscape and was erected partly as a result of the actions of Clara Barton.

--Old Secesh

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Gettysburg's Electric Map

From the September 14, 2012, Evening Sun "Hanover businessman buys Electric Map for $14k" by Tim Stone Sifer.

The 12-ton Gettysburg Electric Map was bought by Scott Roland of Hanover for $14,010, on his final bid. He owns Blue Ridge Holdings. In May, he purchased the old Wachovia Bank building in Carlisle Street as part of his effort to create a heritage and conference center in Hanover.

Bids were received from two other people during the 7-day auction.

The map uses hundreds of miniature lights to depict troop movements at the Battle of Gettysburg. Roland hopes to use the map to draw people to downtown Hanover.

Glad the Map Was Saved. I Saw It As a Child and Was Quite Impressed. --Old Secesh

Information From Benjamin Lewis Blackford's Letter

I just recently finished transcribing this very informative letter. Some interesting points:

1. How bloody the Seven Days Battles were.
2. The poignant story of the wounded Union soldier.
3. Union doctors were able to stay on the battlefield to tend to their wounded.

4. The Confederate charge (evidently at Malvern Hill against the massed Union artillery.
5. Union General McClellan's report covering up the real losses.  From the Union letters he collected: 
6. That the enemy's soldiers weren't fighting because they loved the slaves, that they actually considered their freedom to threaten wages paid to northerners

7. They considered themselves fighting against aristocracy (and he admitted they were).
8. Getting coffee was very difficult and he would settle for rye coffee.
9. Mess mates shared in the expense of their food.

10. As an officer, he was getting $100 a month along with $25-30 for rations.
11. I wasn't sure who C. Minor was, who was with him at camp. Perhaps a slave, but Blackford mentioned paying him?

All in All, a Very Interesting and Informative Letter. --Old Secesh

Friday, December 20, 2013

"Saw Horrors Enough for a Century:" Seven Days Battles-- Part 6

"I saw Lanty day before yesterday and Eugene yesterday. both well. I wish I could see you all. I sent Mary a relic from the battle field Tuesday by Willy. If Charley M. is with you tell him I am anxious to have him.

"Please lay out [$3.00?] in [letter?] for Cousin May & send it by Expr.(express). She is most kind and hospitable. I will send you the money in my next.

"Oh, please prepare me some rye for coffee, a good deal, there are six in my mess, I do so need something hot in the morning. I have not had coffee for months.

"Our breakfast this morning was baked bread and onions! I hear your rye is as good as other's coffee.

"Let me know the expense, you know it comes out of six pockets. Please send this at once and by Express care C.A. Gwa?. Thank you much for your letter & Belle for her P.S. Does the latter ever write [to people?]

"My best love to Sister Sue & Nannie. I hope Pa is well again. How is Peggy. My love to her. I am important now & say unto people go and they goeth. Also my pay has been raised. that is I get $100 & my rations equal $125 or 130. Good bye.

" I so delight in C. Minor with me. I can & hope give him a much better pay that I promised him but I am not altogether certain.

"B. Lewis Blackford

A Very Informative Letter. --Old Secesh

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Saw Horrors Enough for a Century:" Seven Days Battles-- Part 5: About Those Letters

"One thing I want you to notice. During my survey I picked up and looked over at least 1000 letters. not a single one was correctly written or spelled, and they were rarely decent.

"They all instigated those they were written to murder & steal. they evinced neither love of this country nor sympathy for our slaves, indeed the working classes spoke of the negroes with murderous hate, as probable competitors to lower the price of labor.

"They hate us blindly & [?] they believe us to be an aristocracy (and so we are, thank God) and they hate us as the French canaille hated the noblesse in the revolution then."

-- Old Secesh

"Saw Horrors Enough for a Century:" Seven Days Battles-- Part 4

"Eugene lost 13 of his 23 men in that charge and had his pistol shot away by a grape shot. But to think of McClelland's report. Maj. Gen. Liar! A more utter & complete rout never disgraced a nation 25000 of their discarded muskets have been already turned over to our Gov. & not less than 60000 overcoats.

"He destroyed everything and fifty millions of dollars will not repay their losses in property and arms in nothing but the celerity with which his left wing took flight before they were saved them.. The centre & right of the Yankees fought well."

I imagine Blackford was referring to Union General McClellan's battle report.

--Old Secesh

"Saw Horrors Enough for a Century:" Seven Days Battles-- Part 3: The Wounded Yankee

"I myself found a Yankee in a thicket on Friday who had been shot through his lungs the previous Monday & was alive, lying as he had been shot without food or drink. I found a surgeon (Yankee, of whom numbers were around) for this poor fellow, but it was no use. the Dr. merely pulled open his shirt & said, "He'll die, no use to move him" & went away & he did die while I was looking at him.

"The desperate courage of our men was beyond any precedent. I have never heard or read anything like it. Tuesday, Magruder ordered a charge on a collection of 36 guns, there was more than a mile of perfectly open ground to be gone over, our men were unsupported by artillery & entirely exposed to this awful fire. the charge of the [600?] was nothing to it. but they went at it with a yell. before they had gone 2/3 of the way a thousand men were stretched on that awful field & the increasing darkness was all that saved the rest."

--Old Secesh

"Saw Horrors Enough for a Century:" The Seven Days Battles-- Part 2

Lt. Blackford continued: "I was ordered from my original survey here to the otherside after the fighting commenced to map the country vacated by the enemy, & the battlefield consequently I followed close along in the wake of the carnage, & saw horrors enough for a century.

"I have seen blood enough in that time to swim in, and dead and dying enough to people a city. The Yankees left all their dead and vast numbers of their wounded all along-- and many who were wounded in their fight and crept off in the woods died lingering deaths from starvation."

--Old Secesh

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Saw Horrors Enough For a Century:" Lt. Blackford Writes About the Seven Days Battles-- Part 1

From the July 12, 2012, Civil War Day By Day from the UNC Library.

A letter written by Benjamin Lewis Blackford July 12, 1862, to his mother from a camp near Chesterfield, Virginia, where he was serving as a topographical engineer for the Confederate Army. In it, he wrote about the carnage he had observed in the aftermath of the Seven Days Battles outside Richmond.

I have had extensive extracts from a couple letters he wrote in October 1863 concerning his transfer to Wilmington, North Carolina, in my Running the Blockade Civil War Navy Blog, including today. Blackford was a very literate and observant person.

"I could write you a very interesting letter if I was not so busy-- in fact I have been storing up the incidents of the last two days with a special view of spinning them them into a long yarn home, but this topographical business keeps me at work night & day, week days & Sundays."

More to Come.  --Old Secesh

The North's "Battle Hymn of the Republic"

"The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was written by Julia Ward Howe in 1861 as a poem and published in the Atlantic Monthly Magazine in 1862. Union troops had already been singing the song "John Brown's Body" as an unofficial anthem for the cause. Howe believed the troops needed a more uplifting tune and her words were set to "John Brown's" music.

Julia Ward Howe was born in New York City in 1819. At age 21 she married Samuel Howe, who believed a woman's place was in the home and shouldn't speak in public. Even so, he allowed his wife's poem to be published.

There is some belief that he helped fund John Brown's attack on Harper's Ferry, the real flame for the war.

--Old Secesh

You "Ain't" Just Whistlin' "Dixie." the Song-- Part 3: "We Have Fairly Captured It"

The song was a big hit both North and South and used at the the 1861 inauguration of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

After Lee surrendered, effectively ending the war, Union President Lincoln had this to say about the song: "I have always thought 'Dixie' was one of the best tunes I have ever heard. Our adversarie over the way attempted to appropriate it, but I insisted today that we had fairly captured it...I now request the band to favor me with its performance. It is good to show the rebels that with us they will be free to hear it again." Thus went another Lincoln gesture toward reunification.

Sadly, today the song is viewed by many in a very negative light despite the fact there are no racial words or slogans.

Just Because It Was a Confederate Song.  --Old Secesh

Monday, December 16, 2013

You "Ain't" Just Whistlin' "Dixie:" the Song-- Part 2: The Great Dixie Debate

As far as where the term Dixie came from, some believe it referred to Louisiana which had a large French population and still was using French currency. Their ten dollar bill was called a "dix" and the word was printed on the bill. Louisiana became known as Dix's Land and then Dixie Land.

Others (including myself) believe Emmett was referring to Dixon of the pre-Revolutionary War Mason- Dixon line, the boundary between Maryland (the South) and Pennsylvania (the North).

It has also been reported that Northern circus people had coined the phrase "I wish I was in Dixie" meaning that they wished the show would move down South when winter came.

The Great Dixie Debate. --Old Secesh

You "Ain't" Just Whistlin' "Dixie:" the Song-- Part 1: A Yankee Wrote It

From the September 15, 2012, Waxahachie Texas Daily Light. "Spotlight on History: Two Famous songs of the Civil War" by David Hudgins.

"Dixie" was also titled "Dixie's Land," "Dixie Land" and "I Wish I Was In Dixie's Land." David Emmett of Ohio wrote it and it was first sung in New York in 1859.

Emmett was a member of a minstrel stage show where white people performed in blackface. The owner of the show asked him to write an upbeat "walk-around" song for the show because the tunes they were using were getting old. At the end of the show, someone would come up on stage and start singing and try to get the audience to sing along.

The phrase "I wish I was in Dixie" was not a normal Southern statement. It was a Northern phrase used to describe the South.

Even to this day, no one is really sure exactly where Mr. Emmett's Dixie was (like Margaritaville or Kokomo).

More Dixie to Come. --Old Secesh

Lamar's Restaurant

I couldn't find out too much at the website for this place I mentioned Saturday in conjunction with the Chattanooga and Chickamauga battlefields in Tennessee and Georgia. The article Saturday said they were famous for cocktails, fried chicken, old school Rhythm & Blues, Christmas lights and velvet wallpaper.

Sounds like a great place to visit...maybe the next time NIU plays in the Orange Bowl?

Anyway, they are located at 1020 East Martin Luther King Boulevard in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Civil War and Eating, Two of My Favorite Things. --Old Secesh

Saturday, December 14, 2013

12 Fascinating Civil War Sites-- Part 4: Vicksburg and Andersonville

9. VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI-- Site of a 47-day siege can be seen on a 20-mile loop drive. Also the USS Cairo and its museum. DON'T MISS: Rusty's Riverfront Grill's Po' Boys and fried green tomatoes.

10. PETERSBURG AND APPOMATTOX, VIRGINIA-- Long siege and Robert E. Lee's surrender. DON'T MISS: Poplar Forest, President Thomas Jefferson's place to escape crowds visiting his Montecello after his presidency.

11. CHICKAMAUGA, GEORGIA AND CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE--DON'T MISS: LAMAR'S for cocktails, fried chicken, old-school R&B, Christmas lights and velvet wall paper.

12. ANDERSONVILLE, GEORGIA-- 13,000 died there in just 14 months. DON'T MISS: President Jimmy Carter and peanuts in nearby Plains, Georgia.

--Old Secesh

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hagy's Fish House

This place located near the Shiloh Battlefield. From their website.

In 1825, Henry Hagy and his wife Polly docked their flatboat here and laid claim to serveral surrounding acres. They built a small house and later began selling food.

Their place of business was occupied by Union troops at the Battle of Shiloh and received its name in the early 1930s.

I bet the food is good, but prices from what I saw on their menu was considerably on the high side.

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

12 Fascinating Civil War Sites-- Part 3: Stonewall's Arm

Places to see, but with something else above and beyond.

** 6. SHILOH, TENNESSEE-- 120 miles from Memphis and one of the biggest battles in the West. DON'T MISS Hagy's Catfish Hotel. A fish shack near the battlefield for some good-eatin'.

** 7. MOBILE, ALABAMA-- The battle that was a face-off between the Confederate admiral from the North (Buchanan) vs. the Union admiral from the South (Farragut). Forts Morgan and Gaines. Don't miss the Dauphin Island (Fort Gaines) Sea Lab and Estuarium. Plus those great oyster houses, mini Moon pies (and not the regular stuff), the birthplace of North American Mardi Gras and the battleship USS Alabama.

** 8. FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA-- Big battlefield and Northern defeat. DON'T MISS Ellwood Farm where Stonewall Jackson's amputated arm is buried in its own marked grave.

Going Beyond the Usual. Stonewall's Arm Buried Here.  --Old Secesh

Monday, December 9, 2013

12 Fascinating Civil War Sites-- Part 2: Don't Miss

3. ANTIETAM, MARYLAND-- The barttlefield, of course, but Don't Miss the Pry House which is a medical museum on the battlefield grounds. During the battle it served as a hospital and Clara Barton worked there. Also, I might add not to expect the same sort of experience in regards to businesses associated with the battle.

HARPER'S FERRY, WEST VIRGINIA-- Of course, all the John Brown stuff, but, Don't Miss the two mile Cliff Trail loop hike.

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA-- Of course, there is Monument Avenue, the Walking Tour of the African-American Experience, the American Civil War Center at the former Tredegar Iron Works which produced artillery and iron for the Confederacy, but, Don't Miss Hollywood Cemetery where U.S. Presidents Monroe and Tyler are buried as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Also, Generals George Pickett and JEB Stuart.

Put Them On Your Itinerary. --Old Secesh

12 Fascinating Civil War Sites-- Part 1: Don't Miss

From the September 4, 2012, CNN by Ann Shields.

These are other sites that you might not have heard of, even Civil buffs.

1. GETTYSBURG, PA-- The battlefield, but, Don't Miss the 250-year-old Fairfield Inn, 8 miles west of town. They recreate a three-course meal eaten by Robert E. Lee during the Confederate retreat. I'll have the Lee Special.

2. WASHINGTON D.C.-- Of course, the Lincoln Memorial, Ford's Theatre and the Petersen House and the African-American Museum. But, Don't Miss Lincoln's Cottage at Soldier's Home where Lincoln and his family stayed from June to November during which time, Lincoln commuted to the Oval office daily. Located four miles from the White House.

More to Come. --Old Secesh

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Day of Infamy 72 Years Ago

December 7, 1941, Japanese plabnes and minisubs attacked US military objectives on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. This caused the United States to enter World War II.

 I am listing the name of one American who died there on that day in every one of my seven blogs.

 WILLIAM M. FINNEGAN of Bessemer and Dollar Bay, Michigan, was on the USS Oklahoma. He left behind a wife and five children. Later in the war, a Navy ship was named for him.

--Greatest Generation

How Technology Shaped the Civil War-- Part 2: Prosthetic Limbs

Communication facilitated the abolitionist movement. Americans got better access to war reports even though they were often wildly inaccurate. Weekly periodical/magazines like Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and Harper's Weekly sent out artists and illustrators like Alfred Waud and Winslow Homer to bring the war to the people.

Scientific American also covered the war. Almost every issue had at least one article on the newest technological developments.

The thousands of men who were maimed and lost limbs inspired entrepreneurs to design new and improved prosthetic limbs. The Patent Office granted 133 patents for them from 1866 to 1873. Perhaps 60,000 men lost limbs.

--Old Secesh

How Technology Shaped the Civil War-- Part 1

From the September 7, 2012, Scientific American by James Marten.

An unbelievable amount of carnage was caused during the war by tactics that failed to take into account the new breech-loading rifled muskets and artillery pieces. It was also a war where armored ships, railroad networks, submarines and reconnaissance balloons were used. The Civil War is often called the "First Modern War."

Newspapers became tools of mass communication in the 1830s with the invention of the rotary press and steam powered printing. The 1840s saw the development of the telegraph. The Associated Press was founded in 1849.

--Old Secesh

Friday, December 6, 2013

Civil War Veterans-- Part 3: Still, Old Animosities

The veterans of both sides had complex attitudes toward each other and non-combatants. Wartime hatreds never completely went away. The GAR pressured President Grover Cleveland to retract the 1887 order to return captured Confederate battle flags. There was also a great controversy as to the proper telling of the Civil War.

They were prone to idealize at the expense of civilians.

From 1884 to 1887, Century's "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War" managed to avoid politics and sectionalsim and gave a balanced northern and southern viewpoint of the war by printing reports from both sides. That 4 volume set that resulted is still one of the great resources for historians.

Blue and Gray Reunions were held starting in the 1880s and reached a pinnacle with the huge Gettysburg Reunion of 1913, on the battle's 50th anniversary.

--Old Secesh

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Civil War Veterans-- Part 2: Confederate Organizations

Confederate veterans organized later than their Union counterparts because of losing the war. The United Confederate Veterans, UCV, organization started in 1889 and had 80,000 members by 1903.

Before 1885, the exclusive Association of the Army of Northern Virginia, AANV, dominated Confederate veteran affairs. I belong to the UCV's offshoot, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, SCV.

At first, ex-Confederates were ineligible for federal pensions and hiring preferences, but individual southern states erected Soldiers' Homes to care for the wounded and indigent and some even provided modest pensions.

Much effort went into developing the Lost Cause mythology to cope with the sting of defeat and reintegrating into the nation.

Veterans On a Different Side. --Old Secesh

Civil War Veterans-- Part 1: Grand Army of the Republic


The Civil War produced 2 million veterans on both sides. The 1890 census showed 1,034,073 Union veterans still living and 432,6000 Confederate. When the war ended, the thousands returning home faced dim employment prospects, civilian indifference and many had the additional lingering aspects of wounds and diseases. Some 13.9% of Union and 20% of the Confederate veterans suffered from wounds.


Founded in 1866, it eventually grew to over 400,000 members and probably the most powerful political lobby of the Gilded Age. The organization helped bring about the Arrears Act of 1879 which doubled pension expenditures in less than two years.

The Dependent Pension Act of 1890, created a service pension system. The number of Union pensioners, including some women, reached a peak of 969,711 in 1901.

In 1874, Congress mandated preference for disabled veterans in federal hiring. New York and Kansas enacted general veteran preference laws.Twelve state Soldiers' Homes opened between 1879 and 1888.

Quite the Active Organization. --Old Secesh