The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Confederate Flag Under Attack-- Part 1

Wal-Mart and Sears have stopped selling Confederate-themed merchandise.

"Black Loves Matter" has been spray painted on a Confederate monument in Charleston, S.C..

There is a street in New York City named for a Confederate general.  The central street of Fort Hamilton is named General Lee Avenue.  Robert E. Lee served as the base engineer there before the Civil War.  There is a movement to rename it.

Also, it is pointed out that at least ten military bases around the country are named after Confederates.

Georgia's NAACP says Confederate flags should be removed at all state courthouses and other public properties.

Blacks have been trying to have the Confederate flag at the South Carolina statehouse removed since the 1970s.

EBay and Amazon are removing Confederate flag items from their sites.

NASCAR is backing the removal of the Confederate flag at the S.C. statehouse.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Changing My Focus For Awhile: We're Under Attack

When I started this Civil War Blog, which grew out of my Down Da Road I Go and Cooter's History Thing blogs,  it was with the idea to write about things that interest me about the Civil War.

Back then, there were attacks on my Confederate heritage and especially the Confederate Battle Flag which was ongoing and intense, but nothing like it has gotten in the last several weeks after that sorry excuse killed those people in the church.  I would have to think the last time the Confederacy was under this much attack was back in 1861-1865.

It seems that many are crawling out of the woodwork to cast their disparages against any and all things Confederate.  Doing that old PC thing.

And Especially The Flag.

I hate the fact that the white racist/bigots have adopted the flag as their own.  These Jerry Springer Southerners certainly don't represent me.  I would never wave the flag in front of blacks to taunt them.  To me, the flag is a symbol of pride.  Unfortunately, that is a pride that was tainted with slavery, but back then, that was just the way it was.  Slavery had always existed and the slave owners of the South felt that the way of life was tied to the institution (even though some 75% of Southerners didn't own slaves).

And, besides being an ineffective labor system, it also enabled the rich plantation owners to exert way too much control over the lower class whites and state governments.  You know, the old government by and for the rich thing.

A lot of it had to do with keeping the slave states and free state numbers in the U.S. Senate equal.  The North already controlled the House of Representatives and was big on passing tariffs and other laws that were good for their section and not so for the South.

As this trend continued, the admittance of slave states in the same numbers as free became extremely important.  Even though any states west of Texas would not be likely a good place for slavery because of a lack of agriculture.

Plus, there was the continued need for slave labor on the plantations.  The North was receiving huge numbers of immigrants every month to provide needed labor for their factories.  The South wasn't getting the people.

Even though Abraham Lincoln did not propose to do away with slavery where it already existed, he would not ever allow any new slave states to enter the Union.  The South saw no other alternative but to secede from the Union.

And then, there was the John Brown thing.  Abolitionists were loud and numerous in their praise of him as a hero.  So much in fact that most Southerners came to believe that most Northerners felt the same way.  How could they belong to a country that praised a man who wanted the earth to run red with Southern blood?

Very Few Other Choices.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Lincoln's Blood Relics-- Part 12: The Mourning Drum

Abraham's Lincoln's final journey began when his body was placed on the train which traveled 1,600 miles from Washington, D.C., to Springfield, Illinois, a trip of 13 days.  One million Americans viewed his corpse in the bug cities and another seven million at least saw the train pass by.  Whenever his body was taken from the train, military units joined the procession and marched to the sound of drums.

In Springfield, his corpse was displayed for 24-hours in an open casket at the State House where he had given his famous 1858 "House Divided" speech  At 11:30 a.m. in May 4, 1865 the drums beat one last time as the procession exited and went past his home en route to Oak Ridge Cemetery.

One of those drums was recently discovered in Illinois.  It is no different from thousands of such made during the war, this one by Noble & Cooley Co. in Granville, Massachusetts.  They are still in business today.  Its oak rims have been beaten down by countless drumstick strikes and there are no marks to indicate the regiment or company it was used in.

But there is a remnant of black mourning ribbon, a few inches from a coil that must ave once laced the drum.  And, even better, on the top head there is written in ink a remarkable history: ":This Drum was Played at Pres Lincoln's Funeral in Springfield Ill."

The author says that on the day he obtained it, he held a pair of Civil War-era drumsticks in his hands and very carefully tapped out the faint, muffled sound of the funeral march.

Now, That's Some History.  --Old Secesh

Friday, June 26, 2015

South Carolina Governor Calls for Removal of the Battle Flag from Statehouse Grounds

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has called for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the grounds of the statehouse.  She said that it was still alright to fly Confederate Battle Flags on private property.  Her reasoning for this is that the flag has been acquired by hate groups.

She is supported by many others in the state government.

Until 2000, the flag flew over the Capitol dome, but increased pressure by black groups brought about an eventual compromise and it was brought down, but placed in front of the Confederate Memorial on the ground.

Anti-flag groups now want it removed from there as well.

Under the circumstances, I can agree with the removal and it is the right thing to do.

This should be done on all public property throughout the South except when it is of a historical nature.

However, I fear that the anti-flag groups are going to want a complete ban on the flag being flown everywhere, including private property.  Just try to fly a Confederate flag (other than the First National which most people do not realize is a Confederate flag) anywhere and not get someone in your face or in the news.

Then, next, ban all Confederate memorials, statues or even mention.

Fear of This Going Too Far.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

St. Louis' Gratoit Military Prison-- Part 1

I have been writing about Charles Gratoit in my War of 1812 blog "Not So Forgotten" the last two days.  I found out there was a prison in St. Louis named after him, so did some more research.  There is also a Gratoit Street in St. Louis.

Charles Gratoit was born in St. Louis and appointed to the USMA by Thomas Jefferson and one of the first graduates of it.  During the War of 1812 and after that he served as a military engineer involved in the construction of many forts and defenses, including North Carolina's Fort Hampton which was the subject of my posts in that blog.

From Civil War St. Louis:

Gratoit Military Prison held not only Confederate prisoners (most on there was to other prisons), but also spies, guerrillas and civilians suspected of being disloyal.  Also, even federal troops accused of crime or misbehavior..

It was in a large brick building with two wings.  Abutting the northern end was the Christian Brothers Academy.  There was even a round room for female prisoners.

--Old Secesh

Lincoln's Blood Relics-- Part 11: Broadside Announcing Booth's Death

Booth died at sunrise on April 26th.  One of the leaders of the patrol; chasing him, Col. Everton Conger, rushed back to Washington, D.C., to report to his superior, detective Lafayette Baker.  Together they reported at about 5:30 p.m., to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton's home to give him the news.

"We have got Booth," Baker told him.  The exhausted secretary had no energy for grand language.  The statement he drafted and which the War Department telegrapher transmitted across the nation contained this:

"War Department, Washington
April 27, 9:20 A.M.
Maj. General Dix, New-York

Booth was chased out of a swamp in St. Mary's county, Maryland, by Col. Barker's [i.e., Baker] force, and took refuge in a barn on Garrett's farm, near Port Royal.

The barn was fired and Booth shot and killed.  His companion,Harrold [David Herold] was captured.  Harrold and Booth's body are now here.

E.M. Stanton, Secretary of War."

--Old Secesh

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lincoln's Blood Relics-- Part 11: Booth's Arsenal

Booth's Deringer used that night is just one of several arms he purchased for his March 1865 plot to kidnap the president and soon deployed in his plot to kill Lincoln.  He also had two Colt revolvers and a Spencer repeating carbine with him when he was killed.

he had issued a  revolver and knife to George Atzerodt who was supposed to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson.  (Atzerodt got drunk and ran away, throwing the blade into the street and selling the pistol at a Georgetown shop.)

Booth lent a knife and Whitney revolver to Lewis Powell who made a bloody but failed attempt to kill Secretary of State William Seward.  (Powell broke the pistol on the skull of one of Seward's sons and used the knife to stab Seward nearly to death, along with several other members of the household.)

Along with his Deringer, Booth also carried into Ford's Theatre a Rio Grande camp knife which he used to stab Lincoln's guest, Major Henry Rathbone, in the theater box, and which, after he leapt onto the, he thrust above his head for all the audience to see as he shouted, "Sic Semper Tyrannis" (Thus always to tyrants").

The audience was too far away to read the mottoes acid etched onto the blood-smeared blade: "Land of the Free/Home of the Brave"; "Liberty/Independence."

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Charleston Murderer's Ramifications

As expected, the Charleston killer has set off a national swell against the Confederate Battle Flag (even though it technically never was the Confederate Battle Flag).  I can certainly understand why it has.  For decades, blacks and some whites have clamored to have all Confederate flags removed from not only public places, but every where as it offends them.  I can also understand why they are offended.  I imagine I too would not like the flag if I were black because of the slavery thing.

Sadly, the Confederate Battle Flag has been appropriated by white supremacists and others who hate blacks and constantly throw it in their faces while preaching their hatred.  They also usually have the U.S. flag with them as well, but it is the Confederate flag that blacks see.

Now, that long-contested Confederate flag will have to be removed from the South Carolina statehouse grounds.  This is something I can live with.  I will not even refer to it as a Heritage Attack.  It is something that should be and has to be done.

It should have been at least lowered after the murders, as all Confederate flags flying along interstates.  These murders are a terrible thing that all Americans should be shocked by and come together to work on a solution.

But, flag opponents are not just going to stop there.  They want the flag removed everywhere.  Even if you fly it on private property, that is not acceptable.

Taking the flag away unfortunately will not stop the supremacists  from their hate.

Lincoln's Blood Relics-- Part 10: The Bullet That Killed Him

Booth fired a one-ounce lead ball at Lincoln's head.  The bullet entered below the left ear, bored diagonally through his brain and stopped behind his right eye.  Lincoln never regained consciousness.  No autopsy was necessary to determine cause of death, but it wouldn't have been right to bury the president with the bullet still there.  It had to be dug out.

Edward Curtis, an assistant surgeon at the autopsy described the hideous work"  "I proceeded to open te head and remove the brain down to the track of the ball.  Not finding it readily, we proceeded to remove the entire brain, when, as I was lifting the latter from the cavity of the skull, suddenly the bullet dropped out through my fingers and fell, breaking the solemn silence of the room with its clatter, into an empty basin that was standing beneath.

"There it lay upon the white china, a little black mass no bigger than the end of my finger--dull, motionless and harmless, yet the cause of such mighty changes in the world's history as we may perhaps never realize."

The bullet today is at the National Museum of Health and Medicine at Silver Spring, Maryland.

Such a Little Object, Such a Big Impact.  --Old Secesh

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Shame in Charleston

The news was shocking last week.  Nine people murdered in a historic black church while at prayer service.  I was very happy when he was caught and definitely hope he is executed for the horror he caused.  I will not mention his name, as people like that should receive no notoriety for their foul deeds.  Just as I have never used the name of the person who murdered the five students at Northern Illinois University.

And, he felt that he was required ti kill them.  That he had to do the deed.

I can't help but think about another misguided, deluded person who committed a similar act 150 years ago when he murdered President Lincoln.  Like that person, the Charleston man could not have done more to hurt the South and its Confederate legacy.

Reconstruction and the return to the Union would have been a lot easier process under Lincoln who could control the Black Republicans who wanted large scale punishment and retribution.

Now, there is a huge upswell in demands for the removal of the Confederate flag from everywhere.  As if the Confederacy wasn't under attack enough already.

A Horrible Thing, Indeed.

Lincoln's Blood Relics-- Part 9: The Defaced Photograph

The day after the assassination, technicians at the Surgeon General's photo laboratory copied a polular carte-de-visite photo of Booth and printed multiple copies for distribution to Booth's pursuers.

The author's copy was issued to William Bender Wilson, a telegraph operator at the War Department who was in the field during the manhunt..  He inscribed on the back of it, no doubt realizing the importance and historical value of the events, the words. "This picture of J. Wilkes Booth was given to me from the War department at Washington, D.C. whilst Booth was still a fugitive.  Wm. B. Wilson."

Upon learning of Booth's death, Wilson expressed his contempt for the murderer by defacing his image with a handwritten message: "...for the cause he said was a righteous one.  No!  Cowardly murder suited him better.  And this is is Chivalry is it?  Like a viper he lived -- like a dog died, and like a dog buried. 'Assassin.'  'Booth the accursed.'"

Few other relics preserve so well the passions unleashed in April 1865.

A Slice of History.  --Old Secesh

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lincoln's Blood Relics-- Part 8: $100,000 Reward Poster

Today it is the most famous reward poster in American history.  In 1865, it was the symbol of a failing, increasingly desperate manhunt.  James L. Swanson acquired a copy of it when he was 19 while a sophomore at the University of Chicago.  He bought it instead of a car.

Booth shot Lincoln in front of 1500 witnesses, escaped from the theater, galloped away on a horse and essentially vanished.  The failure of several thousand pursuers to capture him became an embarrassment to the government.

On April 20, six days after the assassination, Secretary of War Stanton proclaimed a $100,000 reward for Booth's capture and that of two of his alleged accomplices.  It was a staggering sum at the time when an average worker earned about $1 a day and the War Department printed broadsides to publicize it.

Every penny of the blood money was paid, divided among a dozen of the pursuers most credited with the capture and death of Booth.

Catch the Guy.  --Old Secesh

Friday, June 19, 2015

Lincoln's Blood Relics-- Part 7: Lock of His Hair

Within an hour of the assassination, Mary Lincoln summoned Mary Jane Welles, wife of Secretary of the Navy Welles, to the Peterson House.  She was one of her few friends in Washington.  They had bonded over sadness: In 1862, Mary Jane had helped nurse 11-year-old Willie Lincoln until he died of typhoid fever; the next year, the Welleses lost their 3-year-old son to diphtheria.

On the morning of April 15, Lincoln's death room emptied of mourners except for one, Lincoln's Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who cut a generous lock of the president's hair and sealed it in a plain white envelope.  He knew to give it to Mrs. Welles.  he signed his name on the envelope then addressed it "For Mrs. Welles."

When she received it later that day, she inscribed it herself: "Lock of Mr. Lincoln's hair April 15, 1865, M.J.W."  She mounted the lock in an oval gold frame, along with dried flowers she collected from Lincoln's coffin at the April 19 White House funeral.

This isn't the only surviving lock of Lincoln's hair.  Mary Lincoln claimed one, as did several of the doctors present at the Peterson House or at his autopsy.  Others were also taken and it is a wonder that he reached his grave with any hair at all.

"But the Stanton/Welles lock, with its unparalleled provenance and interwoven tales of love and loss, is perhaps the most evocative one of all."

I Was Completely Unaware of This Story.  Wow!  --Old Secesh

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Lincoln's Blood Relics-- Part 6: Lincoln's Deathbed

At 7:22 and ten seconds a.m., after an all-night vigil, Abraham Lincoln died in a backroom at the Peterson House on a bed that was too small for him.  Doctors had to lay him diagonally atop the mattress.  Soldiers wrapped his naked body in an American flag and put him in a plain pine box to remove him.

After they took him to the White House, sheets, pillows, towels and a coverlet lay on the bed, still wet with the president's blood.

Two Peterson House boarders, brothers Henry and Julius Ulke, one a photographer and the other an artist, set up a tripod camera and, with the morning sun flooding the hallway from the front door all the way to the back of the room, photographed the scene.

I understand the bed was at the Chicago Historical Society at one time.  Maybe still is.

What About the Bed?  --Old Secesh

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Lincoln's Blood Relics-- Part 5: U.S. Flag That Draped Front of President's Box

And here's one that perhaps Mr. Swanson doesn't know about.

The U.S. flag that draped the front of Lincoln's Presidential Box, the one that Booth caught his spur on and caused him to break his leg, is on display at the Grand Army of the Republic Museum in Springfield, Illinois, near Lincoln's Home.

--Old Secesh

Lincoln's Blood Relics-- Part 4: Swatch of Laura Keene's Costume


This one I'd never heard of before.

After Booth fled Ford's Theatre, actress and star of the show Our American Cousin, Laura Keene, rushed to the President's Box where she discovered Dr.Charles Leale had laid Lincoln on the floor.  She knelt beside the unconscious president and cradled his head in her lap.

Blood and brain matter oozed from the bullet wound onto her silken costume, staining its floral pattern.

Laura Keene cherished this relic, but it soon became the object of morbid curiosity.  Strangers tried to cut swatches of it as gruesome keepsakes.  Unfortunately, the dress has disappeared to history, but somehow, five of those swatches survived and have become legendary among collectors.

There is a picture of one of the swatches with the article and the whereabouts of it was unknown until it surfaced in the 1990s and the author acquired it.

According to a letter he got along with it from Keen's grandson, it was given to a family friend  The bright floral pattern remains today just as bright as it had been 150 years ago when it was made by dressmaker Jamie Bullock.  But the bloodstains have long-since faded to a pale rust-brown.

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lincoln Tomb Facing Budget Cuts-- Part 2

The popular tourist spot was attacked in last month's National Geographic in an article saying the Lincoln Tomb has "all the historical character of an office lobby."  The tomb is staffed with fewer employees since lawmakers last year cut $1.1 million for sites in the Springfield area.

And that is stacked up against what will probably be a banner year for tourism in the area due to its Civil War and Lincoln connection.

Pam VanAlstine, president of the Lincoln Memorial Association said she and her organization are very concerned about what the budget cuts will bring.  She said the National Geographic portrayal was unfair.  "The author of the piece is certainly entitled to feel underwhelmed by the tomb's interior but I think it's safe to say he is in the minority.

Furthermore, the tomb and its interior have had more than $2.5 million in repairs and renovations in recent years.

I mean, what should a tomb's interior have.anyway?  If someone want entertainment about Abraham Lincoln, all they need to do is go to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

There Are Other Alternatives for Entertainment, If That's What You Want.  --Old Secesh


Lincoln Tomb Facing Budget Cuts-- Part 1

From the April 16, 2015, Chicago Tribune "After cuts, jab stings Lincoln caretakers" by Kerry Lester.

The National Geographic magazine gave the caretakers of Abraham Lincoln's tomb in Springfield, Illinois an unflattering critique which did not amuse them.  Plus, Illinois' financial problems, caused by years of overspending and plus underfunding have caused huge problems at the historic site, just as it was in the spotlight due to the events of 150 years ago.

And, the state obviously likes to call itself the "L:and of Lincoln."

All of the commemoration that took place there in April just drew attention as Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed eliminating the state's Historic Preservation Agency, the group that manages the tomb.  He wants to roll it into another department.

Keep 'Em Separate.  --Old Secesh

Monday, June 15, 2015

Son of a Confederate Soldier Buried in Georgia

From the June 10, 2015, Athens (Ga) Banner-Herald "Son of Confederate soldier to be buried in Elbert County" by Wayne Ford.

A Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) color guard will be on hand for the burial of H.V. Booth, 96, who died Sunday June 7, 2015, over 150 years after the Civil War ended.

That would be considered quite the longevity had he been born during the war, but he wasn't.  His father, Isham Johnson Booth was 72 and his mother 38 when he was born.  I suppose there would be no use for that little blue pill or bath tubs for those old Confederates, or at least some of them anyway.

His father was a guard at the infamous Confederate prison Andersonville.  Booth would say that his father swore he'd never go back to Andersonville, even after it became a national park, but he finally relented and did go in 1931, three years before his death.

H.V. Booth was a World War II veteran, serving on a landing craft in the Pacific at the battles of Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Mr.Booth is referred to as a Real Son by the SCV.  This means that their father actually served in the Confederate cause.  Nationwide, there were almost 30 Real Sons in 2011.  Today, according to the SCV, that number is just four.

--Old Secesh

Lincoln's Blood Relics-- Part 3: That Tall Hat and Black Overcoat

It is kind of interesting to read about these objects associated with Abraham Lincoln's death.

There are pictures of these items in the article.


Nothing that he wore symbolizes Lincoln more than that huge hat.  It was his trademark even when he was back in Illinois.  He chose unusually high hats to accentuate his height.  At 6'4", he already towered over most men, this made it even more so.

This is the hat he wore on April 14th and doffed to the patrons in Ford's Theatre.

Lincoln's signature color was black.  All through his presidency he wore a white shirt, black pants,and a thigh-length frock coat.  That night, he wore a custom-made Brooks Brothers overcoat trimmed at the collar, lapels and cuffs with grosgrain piping.

--Old Secesh

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Lincoln's Blood Relics-- Part 2: Getting Hooked on Lincoln

James L. swanson was essentially born to be an Abraham Lincoln addict.  he was born on Lincoln's birthday, Feb. 12th and even as a child, received books and souvenirs about him.  At age 10, his grandmother gave him and engraving of Booth's derringer with a clipping cut from the Chicago Tribune the day Lincoln died but the story was cutoff.  He then decided that one day he would know the rest of the story. He was hooked.On weekends, he tried to get his parents to take him to the Chicago Historical Society which had Lincoln's deathbed.

Here are some Blood Relics:


  Mary Lincoln notified Ford's Theatre on the morning of April 14, 1865, that she and her husband would be attending that night's performance of "Our American Cousin.  News of their attendance spread and a playbill was printed.

Swanson says Lincoln's arrival there that night was probably one of the happiest moments of his life.  Not only was this night to be Lincoln's death, but also Ford's Theatre would go dark for more than a century after that.

The Good Times Gone Bad.  --Old Secesh

Lincoln's Blood Relics-- Part 1: Almost Arrested for His Lincoln Vigil

From the March 2015 Smithsonian Magazine "The Blood Relics" by James L. Swanson.

Big-time Abraham Lincoln Assassination buff James L. Swanson says that every April 14th, the place where the assassination and death took place "is one of the loneliest historical sites in America."  He's been making pilgrimages there for more than 25 years, his first in 1987.

He was sure like-minded people would come to the site and surely te National Park service would do something.

But, nothing transpired ever in all those years.

Seeing the lack of interest the first time inspired him to write his book "Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer."

But, back in 2013, his vigil almost got him arrested as he sat on the steps of the Peterson House across the street from Ford's Theatre.  A guard from there yelled at him to get off the steps, "That's private property.  I'll call the police."  He explained why he was there and went back only to have ten minutes later two park service police cars pull up.  "Lots of men sit on those steps and urinate on the house," one policeman said.

There was more discussion and the park police finally left.

Things, however, were different this past April 14th as the Ford's Theatre Society and National Park Service are planning a big to-do for Tenth Street.

--Old Secesh

Friday, June 12, 2015

James Rifles

From Wikipedia.

James Rifles were the generic terms to describe any cannon rifled to the James Pattern.  Charles T. James developed a rifled projectile and rifling system.

James worked with the Ames Manufacturing Co. of Chicopee, Massachusetts, to produce 3.80" bore rifled cannons and there are at least six-known variants, collectively referred to as 14-pdr. James Rifles.

Some were converted 6-pdr. Model 1841 cannons which had their bores increased to 3.80" and the n riffled.  The other five variants were newly-cast cannons.

James projectiles were falling out of favor by the time of James' death in 1862 and most gradually phased out.

The More You Know.  --Old Secesh

Unearthed Civil War Shell Blown Up in Arkansas-- Part 2

And, remember, that if you ever found and old 150+ year-old shell from that long-ago war, handle with care, or better, don't handle at all.  According to the article, they have heard of 2-3 shells exploding after being found and someone was killed.

The shell was apparently live based on the way it blew up.  (And there it was bouncing around in the bed of the service truck.)  The Prairie Grove State Park is hopping mad about the shell's quick destruction.  They say that they've had live shells donated before and later had them disarmed in U.S. arsenals.

They actually have two of the James Rifle shells on display and eight in storage.  Each one is 9 inches long and 3.8 inches in diameter.

In 2004, two USMC ordnance disposal experts disarmed a rare Britten shell from the wreck of the CSS Alabama off Cherbourg, France.

At the Battle of Prairie Grove, the Confederates had two cannons capable of firing a 14-pound James Rifle shell.  They were Union-made and had been captured at the Battle of Lone Jack, Missouri, in August 1862.  The Union Army had ten of the James Rifles at the  Battle of Prairie Grove.  These were the largest-diameter shells fired that day on either side.

Thousands of the shells were fired and their fragments are frequently found, but it is rare to find one intact.  This one was apparently dropped before firing or lost.

--Old Secesh

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Unearthed Civil War Shell Blown Up in Arkansas-- Part 1

From the May 27, 2015, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette by Bill Bowden.

A photo of the 14-pound shell accompanies the article.

Prairie Grove, Ark.  A bomb squad and historians are at odds over the recent discovery of a 14-pound James Rifle shell unearthed earlier this month by a gas line crew working along Villines Road in Prairie Grove.  The shell was apparently left by Confederate troops during the Battle of Prairie Grove on December 7, 1862.

It was tossed into the back of a service truck and rattled around there for a couple days before being turned over to the city of Prairie Grove which planned to donate it to the Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park. Someone from the Bentonville (Ark.) Bomb Squad saw a post about it on Prairie Grove's Facebook page and they confiscated it May 13 and destroyed it that day by the military in a rock quarry near West Fork.

More to Come.  --Old Secesh

Abraham Lincoln Supposes He Will Continue His Chicago Tribune Subscription Back in 1859

From the April 12, 2015, Chicago tribune "Lincoln's paper trail."

A letter from Abraham Lincoln to the Press and Tribune.

  The original is in the Robert R. McCormick Museum at Cantigny.  Robert McCormick owned the Tribune.

Springfield, June 15, 1859

Press & Tribune Co.


Herewith a draft to pay for your Daily another year from today.  I suppose I shall take The Press & Tribune as long as it and I both live, unless I become unable to pay for it.

In its devotion to our cause always, and to me personally last year, i owe a debt of gratitude, which I fear I shall never be able to pay.

Yours very truly
A. Lincoln

I wonder if the paper boy delivered it?

A Piece of History.  --Old Secesh Paper

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Lincoln Killing Shocked the Nation-- Part 8: "The Republic Vindicated"

On April 26, the Lincoln train reached Albany, New York.  That same day, John Wilkes Booth was cornered in a barn in Caroline County, Virginia.  Troops who had been trailing him set fire to it and he was fatally shot despite orders to take him alive.  Reportedly he whispered as he died, "Tell my mother I died for my country."

When Lincoln's body reached Chicago, the Tribune said:  "He comes back to us, his work finished, the republic vindicated, his enemies overthrown and suing for peace."

During the train's 1,700-mile journey, the last Confederate unit had surrendered; the war was over.

When the train finally arrived in Springfield, a Civil War veteran had a sense that Lincoln's work was not yet complete.  Without him, the road to equality for blacks was going to be a long and hard one.

Thousands of blacks came to Springfield for his burial.  "As the bier passed, almost every one of them either knelt or prostrated himself or herself upon the ground and gave way to touching demonstrations of grief," said Major Robert McClaughry.  "They knew that their greatest friend was passing to his rest, and the future seemed dark enough to their vision."

--Old Secesh

Lincoln's Killing Shocked the Nation-- Part 7: "The Scene Was the Most Pathetic Ever Witnessed"

Two days later, April 21, Lincoln's slow and final journey home to Springfield, Illinois, began.  A special nine-car funeral train made stops in cities along the way, where upward of 1.5 million people viewed the coffin.

The president of the New York Central railroad was on that train and said:  "As we sped over the rails at night, the scene was the most pathetic ever witnessed.  At every crossroads the glare of innumerable torches illuminated the whole population, kneeling on the ground."

--Old secesh

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lincoln's Killing Shocked the Nation-- Part 6: Then Vengeance

The shock wave of grief was followed by a need for vengeance.  The Tribune reported a rebel sympathizer in Washington, D.C., upon being told that Lincoln was dead, said, "I am damn glad of it."  He had barely finished the statement, when the soldier put a bullet through his head.

In San Francisco, mobs attacked the offices of newspapers associated with the Democratic party, which had opposed Lincoln's re-election in 1864.  When the wife of a Copperhead (Confederate supporter) ordered her husband's store's clerks to take down the mourning drapery, a crowd assembled and forced its replacement.

Several of Booth's co-conspirators had been captured by April 19, the day of Lincoln's funeral service in the east room of the White House.  That ceremony coincided with others across the United States and the Tribune reported:  "The tears which flowed so lavishly on the announcement of his death broke out afresh, and the national sorrow knew no bounds."

The Nation Mourns Its Fallen Leader.  --Old Secesh

Lincoln's Killing Shocked the Nation-- Part 5: Chicago

It was the morning of April 15, 150 years ago that the tribune headlines read "The Terrible News."  The news of his assassination hit Chicagoans particularly hard for Lincoln " was identified with us" and "had laughed and talked with us, had labored for us."

Many Chicagoans knew him.

The Tribune compared the act was in comparison to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (and it occurred on Good Friday).

News of the assassination came in so late Friday, that most people didn't learn about it until they read their Saturday newspapers.  Distraught residents took to the streets and crowded newspaper offices for the latest news.  The Tribune reported that "strong men wept in the streets.  It was eerily silent Chicago where the main sound heard was sobbing.

--Old Secesh

Monday, June 8, 2015

Lincoln's Killing Shocked the Nation-- Part 4: Headlines

April 15, 1865 Chicago Tribune Headlines.


President Lincoln Assassinated at Ford's Theater.


Secretary Seward and Major Fred Seward Stabbed By Another Desperado.


Full details of the Terrible Affair.


Very Latest...  The President Is Dying.

A Shocker As People Woke Up.  --Old Secesh

Lincoln's Killing Stunned the Nation-- Part 3: Final Hours

A young doctor rushed to Lincoln's side and judged him in too critical condition to be moved to the White House so he was taken to a nearby boarding house and an overnight death watch began.

As published in the Chicago Tribune, the final entries:

6 o'clock (A.M.)--  Pulse failing, respiration 28.
6:30--  Still failing and labored breathing.
7 o'clock--  Symptoms of immediate dissolution.
7:22--  Death.

--Old Secesh

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Lincoln's Killing Stunned the Nation-- Part 2

Continued from May 26th.

It was well known that the Lincolns would be attending the play/comedy "Our American Cousin."  John Wilkes Booth was himself an actor and had recently appeared at Ford's Theater and knew its layout.  It is believed that he drilled a small peephole in the door to the box where the presidential party would be seated.

A die-hard Confederate supporter, Booth had previously concocted schemes to murder or kidnap Lincoln.

This one worked because of a chance confluence of events: Lincoln's regular bodyguard had the day off and his police replacement left his post outside the box for a seat in the audience.

Booth peered through the peephole and seeing the coast was clear, rushed into the box holding a gun and a knife.  According to the Chicago Tribune's account given by a Union officer Captain Theodore McGowan, who was an eyewitness: The house was perfectly still, the large audience listening to the dialogue between 'Florence Trencher' and 'Mary Meredith' when the sharp report of a pistol rang through the house.

"A moment after, a man leaped from the front of the box,, directly down nine feet onto the stage and ran rapidly across it. ...As he leaped he cried distinctly the motto of Virginia 'Sic Semper Tyrannis.'  ...Consternation seemed for a moment to rivet everyone to his seat, the next moment confusion reigned supreme."

--Old Secesh

Friday, June 5, 2015

Confederate Gold at the Bottom of Lake Michigan?

From the May 28, 2015, Opposing Views "Treasure Hunters Believe They're a Step Closer To Finding Lost Confederate Gold in Depths of Lake Michigan" by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades.

Treasure hunters Kevin Dykstra and Frederick J. Monroe think they've found a chance to find the lost ship in lake Michigan that supposedly was carrying the famed, but unsubstantiated "Confederate Gold."

In 1971, "my grandfather told me a story that he had heard from a lighthouse keeper, who had originally heard it during a deathbed confession, that there's $2 million in gold bullion inside a box car that fell off a ferry into lake Michigan," Monroe said.

George Alexander Abbott gave his deathbed confession about the gold in 1921 and the story was passed down for generations.  he was vice president of Hackley National Bank and believed the gold belonged to Jefferson Davis.  Though Davis was captured at the end of the war, the gold was never found.

the pair of treasure hunters found the legendary shipwreck of the Le Griffon in 2011, but didn't report it until 2014 while they were looking for the gold.

Sherman's Rainy Carolina Campaign 1865

From the May 30, Napa Valley register "Destructive Southern Campaign marked end of the war" by John Stephen Futini.

But, yet they were able to march in that Grand Review on May 24th, as I wrote about yesterday.  No doubt they were a bit footsore and worn out as they had trekked 700 miles across South and North Carolina and then into Virginia to get to that review.

Much of the way was extremely wet, making it even worse.

Their campaign began at Savannah, Georgia, went across South Carolina to the state capital of Columbia.

Reportedly,the rainfall during the campaign was the heaviest in twenty years, turning roads into quagmires and making small creeks into fast-running and deep water.  Swamp land, of which there was a lot, were also made worse.

Before leaving Savannah, Sherman had told his army, "We must all turn amphibious, for the country is half under water."

They met their first big obstacle on Feb. 9th, at the Salkehatchie (or Salk) River in South Carolina.  It was the first of nine major east-west river obstacles to overcome.

Their final goal was Goldsboro, North Carolina, an objective Sherman kept close to his vest the whole time.

Nearly every South Carolina home in 1 45-mile swath along the march was destroyed.

--Old Secesh

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Union's Grand Review

The Grand Review of the Armies took place in Washington, D.C. May 24th and May 25th, 1865.  Lots of dust was churned up on unpaved Pennsylvania Avenue.

General George Meade's 80,000 man Army of the Potomac marched it on May 24th.

The next day, General William Sherman's 70,000 man Army of the West followed the same route.

Sherman's army had just completed a 700-mile trek through South and North Carolina.

Sadly and unfairly, the soldiers of the USCT were not allowed to receive the glory.

--Old Secesh

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What Happened to Fort Pitt Foundry's Large Cannons

Most of the foundry's big guns have since become scrap.  No doubt some were melted down during World War II.

I did see a photo of a 20-inch Rodman gun at the Centennial Exposition in 1876.

I'm wondering if the 20-inch Rodman gun is still around?

--Old secesh

Rodman's 20-Inch Cannon Cast at Fort Pitt Foundry-- Part 2

"This gun is said to be the largest in the world, and to Pittsburgh belongs the honor of adding such a heavy piece of ordnance to the science of war."

The gun will remain in the pit where it was cast for the cooling process which expected to last between 10 days to two weeks.

It is not known where it will be sent, possibly to the New York City defenses.

The day of casting was secret, but a large number of ladies, scientific and military were in attendance.  Also, there was a Captain Goodenough of the Royal Navy there.

We've Got a Bigger Gun.  --Old Secesh

Rodman's 20-inch Cannon Cast at Fort Pitt Foundry-- Part 1

From the february 21, 1864 New York Times (from the February 12, 1864, Pittsburgh Chronicle "A Twenty-Inch Gun.; Casting  at the Fort Pitt Foundry."

"One of the most important events in the history of the rebellion, and which inaugurates a new era in the manufacture of heavy guns, took place on Thursday, between 12 and 1 o'clock, at the Fort Pitt Works.  A gun with calibre of 20 inches diameter, was cast on the Rodman principle, in some 22 minutes from the time of tapping the furnaces.."

Some 170,000 pounds (85 tons) of metal was used and the metal was melted in three furnaces and simultaneously tapped.  It is 20 feet 4 inches long and has a maximum diameter of 5 feet 3 inches.  It is estimated the the shot fired from it will be a half ton sphere or a 750-pound shell with a powder charge estimated at between 80-100 pounds.

A Big One.  --Old Secesh

Fort Pitt Foundry-- Part 3: Beezlebub, Satan and Lucifer

Of course, the Civil War resulted in a huge demand for cannons and the Fort Pitt Foundry was there to supply them and make money.

At peak wartime production, the foundry employed nearly 300 men and accounted for some 60% of Union cannons.  Partly through Fort Pitt Foundry's production, Pittsburgh became known as "The Arsenal of the Union."

Then, there was that huge 20-inch Rodman gun.

After the war, the foundry continued casting big guns, including a 20-inch Rodman smoothbore named "Beelzebub" for the Navy and a several huge cannons for the Army nicknamed "Satan" and "Lucifer."

In 1878, Fort Pitt Foundry was sold and shut down.

There is a replica of a Rodman gun in the Heinz History Center.

The Devil You Say.  --Old Secesh

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fort Pitt Foundry-- Part 2: Lincoln Wants a Super Gun

Fort Pitt was just the foundry to supply the huge demand for cannons.  It was ideally situated at the head of the Ohio River which made for easy shipment of both the materials needed to make them, but the finished product as well.  Plus, there was plenty of railroad connections.

In 1864, President Lincoln wanted a super gun that could sink an enemy ship with just a single shot.  Major Thomas Jackson Rodman oversaw the casting of a 60 ton, 20-inch caliber cannon capable of hurling a half ton iron projectile nearly five miles.

It took dozens of oxen to haul the monster from the foundry and railroad trestles had to be reinforced to allow the special flat cars that were made to transport it.

--Old Secesh

Fort Pitt Foundry-- Part 1: Maker of the Union's Cannons

From the May 5, 2011, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:Fort Pitt Foundry."

This continues with the thread that started with John Peter of McHenry County, Illinois, and then went to the 88th Illinois, Francis T. Sherman, Alexander McClurg and now back to the Fort Pitt Foundry.

Fort Pitt Foundry was known as the manufacturer of cannons, and especially the really, really big ones,. including the behemoth 20-inch Rodman once cast there.

The foundry provided weapons for U.S. troops in three wars: War of 1812, Mexican War and Civil War.  It was established by Joseph McClurg in 1804 at the corner of Fifth Aveue and Smithfield Street and later moved to the Strip District at 12th and Etna, just across the street from what is now the Heinz History Center.

Of course, wars create a huge demand for cannons, and the Civil War, being the biggest war the young country was yet in, meant that a lot were needed.

--Old Secesh

Monday, June 1, 2015

Union General Urging Me to Join

Saturday, I was on You Tube listening to songs from the WLS Top 40 Survey from May 28, 1965, and on several times, when I had a commercial to listen to before the song played, I watched a Civil War Union general exhorting me to get on the Ancestry site to find out about my forefathers.

He was a painting, but his mouth moved.  Neat.

I must admit that I sure enjoyed that commercial, even though he was from the "wrong" side.

Even as persuasive as he was, I didn't enlist.

Now, I'll Never Know.  Perhaps Had He Been a Confederate General, Other Than Bragg, I Just Might Have.  --Old Secesh

Mort Kunstler's June Calendar Page-- Part 2: The Charge At Trevilian Station

"Charge them, my brave boys, charge them," he ordered, and courageously led the attack.  Around him, the troops surged toward the enemy through a haze of smoke and dust.

Bolstering Hampton's veterans was a force of newly-arrived South Carolinians that included the Cadet Rangers --  Company F of the 6th South Carolina Cavalry -- which had been organized at The Citadel.

Typically, Hampton led with his saber -- then, in hand-to-hand combat, switched to his revolver.  Saddles were emptied on both sides and Hampton single-handedly took down three adversaries.

The battle shifted to other fields and continued the next day.  It was finally decided when a bold Confederate counterattack shattered the Federal line.  On June 13th, Sheridan and his troops retreated without destroying the railroad.  Hampton had driven back the enemy -- and had demonstrated his ability to assume J.E.B. Stuart's mantle of leadership.

Lee Had His New Cavalry Commander.  --Old Secesh

Mort Kunstler's June Calendar Page-- Part 1: Hampton at Trevilian Station

From the 2015 Civil War Calendar.

As usual, anything Mr. Kustler paints has amazing detail and accuracy.  This one shows a Wade Hampton, sword raised, leading a cavalry charge with some very young horsemen.

The text:


He was a big man who inherited a big task.  After General J.E.B. Stuart was killed in battle in 1864, command of General Robert E. Lee's cavalry corps was given to General Wade Hampton.  Almost immediately, Hampton engaged the enemy.

In early June of 1864, General Philip Sheridan led 6,000 Federal cavalrymen on an expedition to destroy a vital section of the Virginia Central Railroad.  On the morning of June 11th, Hampton and 5,000 Confederate cavalrymen intercepted Sheridan's force at Trevilian Station in Virginia.

A fierce battle erupted in dense woods, forcing the cavalrymen to fight on foot.  In the heat of the fight, however, Hampton seized the opportunity to mount a charge against the federals in a dusty clearing near the railroad.

More to Come.  --Old Secesh