Monday, September 30, 2019

Marrying an Old Guy Was Way to Financial Security

I told my students about young girls marrying old Civil War veterans even when they were in their teens and early twenties and the vets in their sixties and the girls in the class issued forth a big "Yuck!!!"

I myself really wasn't aware of this until I read about the last Confederate widows dying around 2000.

These old men had financial security for poor girls in the form of pensions for their service.  And, quite a few of these old men became daddies at an advanced age.

This is why we now have the death of the last Real Son of a Confederate as well as all those Confederate Real Daughters and Union Real Sons.

--Old Secesh

Thursday, September 26, 2019

MCCWRT Discussion This Saturday; The Chickamauga/Chattanooga Campaign

This Saturday, September 28, the McHenry County Civil War Round Table discussion group will be meeting at Panera Bread in Crystal Lake from 10 a.m. to noon.  This month's topic; the 1863 Chickamauga / Chattanooga Campaign.

Panera Bread is located at 6000 Northwest Highway (by the intersection with Main Street).

All are invited, not just MCCWRT members, so come on by, get some coffee and a bite to eat and let's talk Civil War.  Well talk Civil War at least part of the time as we often get sidetracked.

Get You started teaser:  Who commanded the Confederate forces at both battles?

--Old Secesh

Calvin Crane, Last Living Confederate Real Son, Dies-- Part 4

Mr. Crane is survived by two daughters and a host of grand children, great grand children and a great-great grandson and another on the way.

The Crane family declined to be interviewed for this article.  However, in 2013, Crane's daughter Cynthia Crane  Jones, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that she has had difficulties convincing others of her Civil War connections.

"I know when I was in like third or fourth grade and we'd start studying the Civil War, I'd say, 'My grandfather was in the Civil War!' " she told the newspaper.  Her classmates and teachers would try to correct her by saying, " 'No, no, that was your great-grandfather.'  And I'd say, 'No, it was my grandfather.'  Mom even had to go to school one time and tell them that it was my grandfather."

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Calvin Crane, Last Confederate Real Son, Dies-- Part 3: Remaining Confederate Real Daughters and Union Real Sons

Mr. Crane was born on a farm near the White Oak  Mountain community of Pittsylvania County, barely two months before the United States entered World War I.  His family moved to Danville soon after his father's death so his mother could work in the Dan River Mills.  The Crane family financial situation was so desperate, Calvin had to leave school after the sixth grade.

He remembered, "I had a terrible time growing up."

He joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) in 1993 and attended meetings for over twenty years.  The SCV's national headquarters in Columbia, Tennessee confirmed that Crane was the last living son of a Confederate veteran.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy confirms that there are still five Real Daughters living, none of them in Virginia.David Demmy, executive director of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, says that  their organization knows about two living Real Sons and four living Real Daughters.

--Old Secesh

Monday, September 23, 2019

Calvin Crane Dies, Last SCV Real Son-- Part 2: His Father, James Crane, Married Twice and Had 21 Children

James Crane fathered 16 children with his first wife, who died around 1900.  He was in his 50s when he married his second wife, Annie Eanes, 18.  She had grown up an orphan and lived on a farm near Danville.  Calvin was her youngest of five children by James and was born February 27, 1917.

Gerald Via, a member of the Fincastle Rifles, Sons of Confederate veterans (SCV), confirmed that  Calvin was the last known living Real Son of a Confederate soldier.

I am a member of the SCV, but not as a Real Son.  I am in the organization because of my great great grandfather.

Mr. Crane served in WW II  and won two Bronze Stars while serving in North Africa and Europe in an armored division.  After the war, he moved to Roanoke and worked with an uncle in the dry-cleaning business before joining the maintenance department of the Roanoke post office.

--Old Secesh

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Calvin Crane Dies, Believed to Be Last Remaining Confederate Real Son-- Part 1

From the September 19, 2019, Roanoke (Va.) Times "Roanoke man was last Real Son of a Confederate veteran" by Ralph Berrier Jr.

Calvin Crane served in the U.S. Army in World War II and received two Bronze Stars for valor in North Africa and Europe.  He is also believed to be the last Real Son of a Confederate soldier.He died Sunday, September 15, 2019, at the age of 102.

As the Real Son designation in the Sons of Confederate veterans designates that he is an actual son of a Confederate soldier.  And that is a really amazing thing to think about.

His father was James Anthony Crane, a Confederate soldier from Pittsylvania County, Virginia.  During the Civil War, he served with Ringgold Battery, Battery B of the 13th Battalion, Virginia Light Artillery.  He served through the whole war after enlistment.

After the war, he married twice and fathered  21 children before dying around 1918, when Calvin was just a year old.  Calvin never knew much about his father other than he liked to hunt  and that he was old when Calvin was born.

This Is A Real Connection With History.  --Old Secesh

Friday, September 20, 2019

George E. Albee-- Part 1: A Long and Varied Military Career and Medal of Honor Recipient

From Wikipedia.  After the last two days' posts, I decided to look up George Albee to see if there was anything else about him.  There was.  He was the one who took it upon himself to mark the position of his company of Berdan's Sharpshooters at the Second Battle of Bull Run, or do you say Manassas?

GEORGE EMERSON ALBEE  January 27, 1845 to March 24, 1918.

Officer in the U.S. Army who received a Medal of Honor for his actions in the Indian Wars.  During the Civil war, he fought with Berdan's Sharpshooters, the Wisconsin Light Artillery, the U.S. Colored Troops and the Regular U.S. Army.

George Albee was born in Lisbon, New Hampshire, on January 27, 1845, and died March 24, 1918, in Laurel, Maryland and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 2, Lot  850.  His wife, Mary Hawes Albee(848-1907) is buried with him

Albee enlisted in Co. G (Wisconsin) of Berdan's sharpshooters in June 1862.  After two months in the field, he was wounded at the Second Battle of Bull Run and discharged for disability while he was convalescing.

But, His Military Career Wasn't Over Yet.  Not By A Long Shot.  --Old Secesh

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Marking His Spot-- Part 2: What His Sign Said

These are the words on George Albee's sign:


used many cartridges on this
spot, August 30, 1862-losing
1 man killed and 8 wounded.

Position marked by Geo. E. Albee, a private of the company."

An early history marker.

--Old Secesh

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Marking His Spot-- Part 1: Hot Fight at Second Battle of Bull Run

From the July 2019 America's Civil War "One Shot, One Kill" by Doug Wicklund and Michael G. William.  It was one man's need to mark his spot at the Second Battle of Bull Run that led to a sign on that battlefield that still exists.

At the battle, Berdan's Sharpshooters rushed into an open field ahead of the main assault on Stonewall Jackson's troops at the Deep Cut.  They managed to repel skirmishers, which caused Jackson's men to open fire from the trace of an unfinished railroad.

George Albee of Company G, 1st Regt.of Berdan's U.S. Sharpshooters was wounded during this action, but returned after the war to place a signboard on a tall cedar post to mark his company's location during the fight.  That pole has been replaced  several times over the years, but a sign still occupies the same spot at the Manassas National Battlefield Park.

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

What They Said About Berdan's Sharpshooters-- Part 3: The Battle of Gettysburg

**   At Gettysburg, a soldier in the 4th Alabama recalled the death of a comrade:  "Taylor Darwin, Orderly sergeant of Company I, stopped, quivered, and sank to the earth dead, a ball having passed through his brain."

By nightfall, July 2, federal forces had withstood repeated attacks on Little Round Top.  Berdan's Sharpshooters had disrupted the Confederates long enough for reinforcements to arrive..

**  According to Col. Hiram Berdan's after-action report, 450 of his men were involved during the battle and had fired off 14,400 rounds of ammunition while suffering fewer than 30 total casualties.

**  Gettysburg was the last time Berdan was with his men.  He was promoted to division command and the two regiments were merged into one.

--Old Secesh

Saturday, September 14, 2019

What They Said About Berdan's Sharpshooters-- Part 2: "Minnie Bullets and Grape Shot Were As Thick As Hail"

**  Civil War historian Jim Woodrick wrote of the Battle of Antietam that at the Cornfield, the 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters "returned fire and the Confederates started too break, leaving guns, knapsacks and everything that impeded their progress on the ground beside their dead and wounded comrades."

**  At the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, sharpshooters unleashed a quick and deadly salvo at a North Carolina battery under Captain James Reilly.  James Reilly, later as a major, was the officer who surrendered Fort Fisher.  A Confederate force of about 200 men were sent out to deal with them.

They had devastation visited upon them by the sharpshooters.  One of the Confederates wrote:  "We advanced through a field and about half a mile before we reached the...foot of the mountain (Big Round Top), our men tumbling out of ranks at every step, knocked over by the enemy's sharpshooters."

**  Private John C. West of the 4th Texas wrote:  When the command was given to charge we moved forward as quickly as we could....  Yankee sharpshooters were on the higher mountains, so as to have fairer shots at our officers.

"On we went yelling and whooping...minnie bullets and grape shot were as thick as hail, and we were compelled to get behind the rocks and trees to save ourselves."

Don't Mess With the Sharpshooters.  --Old Secesh

Friday, September 13, 2019

What They Said About Berdan's Sharpshooters: "One Shot, One Kill"

From the July 2019 America's Civil War magazine  "One Shot, One Kill" by Doug Wicklund and Michael G. Williams.

**  A sharpshooter on "California Joe":  "He is a craggy old monument from California and can shoot better than many as he was  a bear hunter."

**  A Confederate on how fast the sharpshooter Sharps bullets traveled:  "The bullet got to you before the report, but if it was a muzzleloader the report got to you before the report."  Report is the sound of the rifle firing.

**   A Confederate artillery gunner from the 1st Richmond Howitzers talking about the Battle of Malvern Hill where his battery faced off against the sharpshooters:  "We went in as a battery and came out a wreck."

**   Another wrote about the battle:  "[W]e came out with one gun, ten men and two horses, without firing a shot."

Pretty Effective Group Indeed.  --Old Secesh

Thursday, September 12, 2019

9-11 Disease Deaths Grow

From the September 11, 2018, Chicago Sun-Times "Deaths from 9/11 diseases will soon outnumber those lost on that day" by Nancy Cutler, USA Today Network.

In the 17 years since September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, nearly 10,000 First Responders and others who were at the World Trade Center in New York City have been diagnosed with cancer.  More than 2,000 deaths have been attributed to 9/11 illnesses.

And, this article was a year ago.

And, these figures will get worse.  By the end of 2018 some expect that more people will have died from their toxic exposure from 9/11 than from the attacks.

Robert Reeg of Stony Point, New York, is a retired New York City fireman who was seriously injured in the South Tower collapse.  In the past 17 years he's seen many fellow First Responders fall victim to those illnesses.

"You lose track, there's so many of them," he said.    As for his own health risks, he said he doesn't dwell on it.  "It's at the back of your mind.  But you can't let it control you."

Continued On My Running the Blockade Blog.  --Old Secesh

"Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)?"-- Part 5

This was supposed to have been posted yesterday on the actual anniversary, but unfortunately we lst our internet access, so I will go with it today.

I am doing the lyrics to the song that really sums up that day 18 years ago, "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)' by Alan Jackson.  I already had four parts yesterday on my blogs.


Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow

Go out and buy a gun?

Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watchin'

And turn on "I Love Lucy" reruns?

Did you go to church and hold hands with some strangers

Stand in line to give your own blood?

Did you stay at home and cling tight to your family

Thank God you had somebody to love?


When they put out the desperate calls for blood for the Twin Towers, I greatly doubted taht there would be any survivors from that catastrophe.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Berdan's Sharpshooters-- Part 7: Engagements

Berdan's Sharpshooters saw action at the Battle of Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862.  There, in just ten minutes, they wrecked the Confederate 1st Richmond Howitzers regiment.

Again, they were prominent at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862 at the Cornfield, but with heavy losses where the 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters had 13 officers killed and wounded and 54 enlisted men killed, wounded or missing.

What probably was the Sharpshooters' defining moment came at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, during Longstreet's advance at the Little Round Top.

This was Hiram Berdan's last time with his group as he was promoted to division command and a year later resigned.    That December, 1863, the two regiments were merged, but never again used in the role for which they were created.

--Old Secesh

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Learn All About Yankee Buzzards at MCCWRT Meeting Tuesday

This Tuesday, September 10, the McHenry County Civil War Round Table (MCCWRT) will find out all there is to know about "The Yankee Buzzard Regiment."

The meeting takes place at 7 p.m. at the Woodstock Library in Woodstock, Illinois.  Our speaker will be Jerry Allen.  Everyone invited.

The library is located at 414 West Judd Street, just a couple blocks off the historic 1850s Woodstock square where much of the movie "Groundhog Day" was filmed.

Some of the members will be meeting at 5:30 p.m. at 3 Brothers Restaurant on Illinois Highway 47.  Grab a bite to eat and talk about whatever (not just Civil War).

Then Saturday, September 28, the MCCWRT Discussion group meets at Panera Bread in Crystal Lake, Illinois, 6000 Northwest Highway (US-14) at 10:00 a.m..  This month's discussion is about the Chickamauga/Chattanooga Campaign."

Come see  how long we stay on topic.

I Couldn't Find Anything About a Yankee "Buzzard Regiment" So This Will Be Interesting.--Old Secesh

Friday, September 6, 2019

Berdan's Sharpshooters-- Part 6: Their Weapon of Choice, the M-1859 Sharps Rifle

From the July 2019 America's Civil War magazine.

Three features made the M-1859 Sharps such a fine weapon:  loading design, action and ammunition.

It was the brainchild of Connecticut gunsmith Christian Sharps as an update to his 1848 concept for a percussion lock breechloader.  This was at the time when most firearms loaded through the muzzle.  A gun that could be loaded from the breech offered many advantages, especially to a sharpshooter.

Standing a rifle on its butt and fumbling with powder, ball and ramrod would give away a sharpshooter's position.  But a breechloader enabled him to reload effortlessly, no matter what position he was in.  They could load the single shot and shoot downrange up to ten well-aimed rounds a minute, nearly triple of what a muzzle loader could do.

The design of the rifle caused rounds to leave the barrel at 1,200 feet per second, compared to a muzzle loaders 900 feet.  This gave it a flatter long-range trajectory.

--Guns, Guns.  --Old SeceshBang

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Berdan's Sharpshooters-- Part 5: Joe's Eye Problems

Along about August 1862, Joe began to complain about eye problems he believed to be caused by his frequent use of the telescopic scope attached to his rifle.

He determined, as was his style, to take his complaint to the highest authority in the land, President Lincoln.  So he sent Lincoln a letter saying:  Mr.Lincoln:  -- I have done some service to the country, and my eyesight is ruined doing duty.  I would like to be discharged.  California Joe."

Shortly after that, he received his discharge.

Returning to California, he took the duty of  customs inspector for the port of San Francisco.  he died on November 24, 1875, and was buried  in the GAR plot  at Mountain View Cemetery with full military honors.  He was reinterred at the San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio on January 31, 1933.

--My Eye.  --Old Secesh

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Berdan's Sharpshooters-- Part 4: California Joe Shines at Yorktown

And, there were a lot of stories about Truman Head's prowess with a rifle during the war.  The first  stories about him came out at Yorktown during the Peninsula Campaign.  More than one publication claimed he scored "the first rebel slain" in the action.

A large 32-pounder cannon was brought to the field by the Confederates and in the morning, as they prepared to load and fire it, a cannoneer approached the barrel to swab it out and Joe killed him.  The swab remained in the barrel and for the rest of the day, any rebel seen trying to remove it  met a similar fate from Joe or one of his comrades.

Another tale has a small party of mounted Confederates "led by an officer wearing a white shirt" ventured outside their line and Joe commented that he was "best at a white mark."  He quickly fired and the man in the white shirt fell off his saddle to the ground, apparently dead.

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Berdan's Sharpshooters-- Part 3: California Joe (Truman Head)

From Wikipedia under Truman Head, his real name.

Since I was writing about him in my last post, I decided to write some more about him.

Born 1808 in New York.  Died November 24, 1875 in San Francisco, California.

He left home after falling in love with a young lady but being rejected by her father.  Supported himself as a hunter and trapper for several years before heading to California after gold was discovered in 1849.

When the Civil war broke out, he headed wast to fight even though he was 52.  he originally wanted to join Colonel Baker's California regiment but didn't particularly like the drill and decided to join Hiram Berdan's Sharpshooters and easily passed the trials and enlisted in Company C of the 1st U.S. Sharpshooters on September 14, 1861.

While the regiment was at a camp of instruction in Washington, D.C., he purchased a Sharps Rifle during the winter of 1861-1862.  This became the main killing instrument of his regiment.  Since he had no family, he left his $50,000 gold mining fortune in a trust for his fellow soldiers in case he was killed.

--Old Secesh

Monday, September 2, 2019

Berdan's Sharpshooters-- Part 2: California Joe

While the sharpshooters were training at Fort Corcoran in Washington, D.C., Truman Head, a former gold miner and hunter joined their ranks.Since he was from that western state, the men quickly started calling him "California Joe."

"There is a new man here in my company that is all attention," one sharpshooter wrote in his diary.  "He is a craggy old monument from California, and can shoot better than many as he was a bear hunter.  He old Sharps and has told all that will hear that he will obtain a newer edition to fight the rebels shortly."

An outstanding marksman, Joe was disgusted with the guns the regiments were using.  True to his word, he bought a M-1859 Sharps and showed it to Hiram Berdan who was impressed and immediately ordered a thousand for his men.  But, the Sharps factory was backlogged and until they got that rifle, they received a consignment of M-1855 Colt revolving rifles which were not much-liked by the men.

--Old SeceshJoe

Berdan's Sharpshooters-- Part 1: Crack Shots

From the July 2019 America's Civil War magazine ""One Shot, One Kill" by Doug Wicklund and Michael C. Williams.

They were greenclad (to blend in with surroundings) to set them apart from regular Union troops and they were sharp shots.  A Confederate's worst nightmare.  And they hit their mark very often.  Probably their greatest two actions were Antietam and Gettysburg.

Organized by Hiram Berdan, a nationally-known marksmen, whose contribution was to organize a sharpshooting regiment made up of the best riflemen of the North.  (This man had quite the facial beard,)  The members came from six states and were given incentives to join, but had to pass rigorous sharpshooting trials.

Some 2,000 men qualified and in August 1861 they became the 1st and 2nd United States Sharpshooters.

And, they did prove their mettle.

--Old Secesh

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Confederate Heritage Under Attack-- Part 3:The Caddo Statue

August 31, 2019 Google Alerts for Confederate.

**  Dismantling the myth of "Black Confederates."

**  Caddo Confederate statue's owners disappointed with parish leaders.

**  Daughters of the Confederacy ordered to move monument at Caddo.

**  Changing Hanover school names "won't change anything."

**  The KKK came to my town.  But hate has no home here.

**  Attorneys continue to argue finer points as lawsuit over Confederate statue nears.

**  Candidate used racially offensive terms on radio show.

--Old Secesh