April 2015


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For additional event information, please visit the EVENTS page for a complete listing.



Saturday April 11, 2015 @ 1 PM in front of the Carving Reflection Pool

HOSTED BY:  The GEORGIA Society Military Order of the Stars & Bars;  David Denard Commander of the GA. Society MOS&B

Quest Speaker Michael Shaffer President Civil Round Table Cobb County Member Friends of Camp McDonald


  - DAVID DENARD 706-678-7720 OR denardodian@bellsouth.net

  - DAVID FLOYD 770-979-2637 OR DLFreb@msn.com


·        April 18:  Plantation Cotillion at Gamble Mansion Historic State Park, Ellenton, FL

·        April 17-19:  The Raid on Bishop’s Farm, Holly Hill, FL

·        May 1-3:  Federal Garrison at Ft. Clinch, Fernandina Beach, FL





By Brian Butler
Photos by Brian Butler & Tom Criscuolo



In the Field
March 15th, 1864
Fieldworks of the 28th Georgia Hvy. Artillery.

The Men have been busy fortifying the position around camp Milton. The troops seem in good spirits, still riding our Victory at Olustee back in February. We have also received additional reinforcement from Charleston, and Savannah. Our strength is at 8 thousand or so now, and we are ready for the Federal horde. We have not seen much of them; they are still licking their wounds from Olustee I reckon. We have many Civilian refugees camped near us.  This war is particularly hard on them. Gen. Beauregard has inspected our lines and says they are sound. Life in the trenches is boring at best. It is getting hot down here now, so camp sickness in the trenches is common, we have one or two alarms a day, the boys are on edge and wish the Yanks would come bloody themselves on our works. The Rations have been good, as Florida is full of good things to eat, since this region has not been to horrible ravaged by the war. We suspect the Federals will pull out of Jacksonville soon, and we shall be sent back to Charleston. They made a heavy punch on the line yesterday, but we scattered them like chickens. Well, back to the Trenches for me, I hope this business is over with soon.

Your servant,
Pvt. Biscuit





Action at Kirby Family Farms, Williston, FL

By Sgt. Mjr. Hamilton “Ham” McElroy

4th Brigade, US



Photo by Tom Van Dyke



As I take pen in hand, it is my duty to report the action that took place at the farm of the Kirby family, in Williston, FL. 


Throughout Friday evening, the various units began to pour into the fields and woods that surrounded the Kirby family farm, just outside of Willison.  While the air was cool and the night promised to be pleasant, it was widely anticipated that a hot fight was going to be found nearby.  The rumor of an express railway, which was responsible for the movement and supply of troops, had drawn the Union forces from the coast to this location.  As such, the members of the Confederate army also rallied here to protect their vital and fragile supply line.  Only the application of hot lead and cold steel would determine the victors on the ‘morrow.


Saturday morning dawned bright.  The heat that was promised burned early; however, the Almighty saw fit to bless all those present with decent cloud cover and a steady breeze.  This constant wind kept the flags flying proudly.  The promised supply train began its run early.  Union forces observed that both civilian and military people were making use of its scheduled runs.  The promise of much needed supplies was enough to tempt a company of the boys in blue to venture forth and raid the supply lines.  In the distance, musket fire could be heard from both command headquarters.  At the time of the raid, it was fortunate that no resistance was met.  The Union men liberated the train of its material burdens, while allowing the civilians to continue upon their journey.  No harm came to any woman or child, as the greatest of care was given in the firing of their musketry.  It was rumored that a courts martial was held with the offending party being found guilty and hanged by the neck until dead.  However, yours truly was not witness to such events. 


Upon the early afternoon, it was reported that Confederate forces were on the move.  As such, the Union army was roused to give an adequate reply.  However, the information that was reported to the Union commanders earlier in the day, which was relating to Confederate troop movements and numbers, was found to be erroneous.  A bounty was ordered for those responsible for such blatant and obvious fraud perpetrated against the army of the United States of America.  It was originally reported that they could expect to be met with a resistance of between 65-70 rifles.  However, during the afternoon’s engagement, it was obvious that reinforcements must have arrived as an additional strength of 50 rifles was brought up from the rear to the engagement.  The Billy Yanks were now painfully outnumbered 3-to-1.  The previously attacked supply train was making another run and was taken hostage by the Union army, who decided to use the train to attack the rear of the Confederate forces.  While the element of surprise was, at first, a chip in the favor of the Federals, Confederate cavalry made a strong defense and worked well to protect their artillery line.  Much to the consternation of the Federal forces, the element of surprise wore on, and a Union victory was not forthcoming as had been assured.  Union forces pulled back to regroup, to address their wounded, and to make another attempt the next day.  The superior numbers of the Rebel army were too much to bear.


With the Sunday morning came the heat, and there was no breeze to cool the brow of many a man in the field.  The colors were limp in the sultry sun.  Sunday services were held with Brother John Butler presiding in Confederate camp.  The word of the Lord was stirring in the hearts of the men present. 


As the day progressed, it became widely known that a second engagement was going to be had.  Due to the loses of the day before, and the reinforcements that arrived from the coast (thank you to the Southern Volunteers), it appeared that the fighting armies were more evenly matched, but it still was a 2-to-1 match.  Once again, Union troops utilized the train in an effort to gain a moment of surprise on the Confederate army, which worked.  The Rebels did not seem to expect the same maneuver twice.  With their dander up, the two sides threw themselves upon the fro and the heat of battle caused every man’s blood to boil.  The cavalry were able to fire a crack shot, and Col. Munson was deemed dead upon the field.  Numerous attacks saw the Confederate command boxed in, but mysteriously, the command staff seemed impervious to attack and managed to survive the day.  Refusing Union lead, the still superiorly numerous Rebel army proved, once again, to be too much to bear, and a Union victory was lifted from the hands of the Boys in Blue.


Photo courtesy of John McLean


Dispatches from Sgt. Mjr. John McLean, who bore the colors and served the blue suit with honor and valor on Sunday, were filed separately, but his words are worth echoing:


“The men under Col. Chuck Munson fought hard and long… I, myself, as Sergeant Major had to avoid several musket rounds fired directly at me.  The lead was hot and heavy, the air thick with smoke.  On Sunday, we fought with honor but were so outnumbered that the outcome was already known.  But we gave them a whatfore.  The Southern Volunteers fought by oursides and held up their end.  It is always good to fight with those boys (the 4th Brigade), they wear the blue well.  ‘Till our next great battle, keep your powder dry and your heads held high, for we are the boys in blue, The Union Army, the ones who won the conflict.” 


Lying wounded upon the field, one boy in blue was told by a Johnny Reb that, according to orders, the Union shall never be victorious in Florida again.  Only time and determination shall tell who the true victors in this war shall be.  May God Almighty rest with right.





After action report of the skirmishes at Fort Cooper

By Sgt. Jason Klug





Last weekend I set aside my Federal Cavalryman uniform to don the clothing of a 1830's militiaman at the 2nd Seminole war reenactment at Fort Cooper in Inverness.  I had intended on going as a rank and file soldier but was offered the honor of bring out my mount and portraying Major Mark Anthony Cooper of the First Battalion of Georgia Volunteers.


Commanded by Major Cooper, the men of the First Battalion of Georgia Volunteers and a small artillery company were left to guard the sick and wounded soldiers of General Winfield Scott’s column during his campaign against the Seminoles during the spring of 1836.


The men of the militia were going about the duty of building a rough log stockade on the bluff overlooking the shore of Lake Holathlikaha, when the pickets were fired upon by Seminole warriors. Capt. Nipper deployed his company with the intent of pushing the warriors back into the densely covered canopy but were themselves pushed back into the fort, with renewed effort the Captain rallied his men and cleared the field of the warriors.  We suffered several wounded and 1 killed; Private Zadock Cook was portrayed by James "Archie" Marshall.

We fended off several attacks by Osceola and his force of Seminole warriors over the next few days.  General Scott should returned to the site with more men and supplies on April 18, 1836; the tired defenders, along with the sick and wounded, will be removed.


Major. M.A.Cooper

(portrayed by)

Sgt. J.M.Klug of the

7th Mich Co. "G" Cavalry     





In Memoriam

~Lt. Col. Rick Shogren~

By Andrew Shogren, 3rd Maine, Co. F




Dearest friends and brothers,


I would like to thank everyone for coming to my father’s service (at the Brooksville event).  I hope I gave honor to him in the small way that I could.  Through these hard times, I have been overwhelmed with love, support, and caring from everyone in the reenacting community.  A special thanks to my overall commander and friend, Chuck Munson, for his help with the service, and for his dedication and compassion.  Thank you for honoring my father in ways I could not.  This has been and will be a hard road for me.  Events are strange without having my partner next to me, who has been there for over 28 years.  Thanks to my unit, the 3rd Maine, for all that you have done, and for the touching spectacle during Saturday’s battle at Brooksville.  During the crumbing of the Confederate line, the companies of the 3rd Maine and 7thConnecticut started chanting “Shogren, Shogren” in honor of my father.  By that I was humbled, and I will never forget it.    Thank you again and to anyone I forgot.  For those who could not attend, I am posting my poem as a last hurrah to my father, Aviation Boatswains Mate Richard Howard Shogren.





Tis the blast of the bugle,

Early pale of morning light,

Arise my son and to the line,

Button frock and take to flight.


We’ve shivered on parade

In morning formation,

When ‘twas but you and me,

A call for dedication and honor,

That strong sense of liberty.


We’ve set upon the campfire dim,

You’ve spoke of tales and men of the past,

With dram of whine past midnight hour,

A lifetime of memories cast.

I’ve seen you thunder away at the enemy,

There casualties star at the sky.


A wafting sound of dreadful taps,

For the unknown soldier a tear from your eye.

With naked blade of saber,

And flowing nerves of steel,

You’ve held the foe and took the ground,

And make the enemy reel.


I’ve seen you curse and speak your mine,

Although at times it was not right,

But you’d dance with timid girl at evening ball,

As a gentleman does, valiant knight.

Now you have left us my father,

Silent guns no longer to thunder,

No more to beat to march to and trod,

You’ve struck the tents with peace at last,

Battle orders are now given from God.


Your memory forever held

In the line of the soldiers,

The saddle of the cavalry steed,

Take the column, my Captain,

And to the field, your spirit shall forever lead.


This shall not be goodbye, my father,

I’ll strike the colors when my time is done,

A salute up in heaven as men together,

In honor and pride….


Your son…..

Captain Darius Bunker

3rd Maine, Co. F

Andrew Karl Shogren





Confederate Battle flag at center of Supreme Court free speck case

By the Associated Press

Published March 23, 2015

Editorial by Hamilton “Ham” McElroy


During the time of debate for a Sons of Confederate Veterans license plate in Florida, coverage of those debates was extensive in the FRO News Magazine.  Even though Texas is technically outside of our purview, the fight for the preservation of the Southern (and Civil War/War Between the States) heritage is something that should concern us all, both Blue and Gray.  The political correct fervor that is sweeping our nation is something that can only be combatted by ALL reenactors getting involved, contacting members of state and national congresses, and speaking out in favor of our nation’s history. 


The fight in Texas is no different than the one Florida faced a number of years ago.  Yet, it may be more important now than ever before.  The true issue is the affect this ruling could have on other plates throughout the nation.  As stated in the article, “New Hampshire is among 11 states that are supporting Texas, because they fear that a ruling against the state would call into question license plates that promote national and state pride and specific positions on such controversial issues as abortion.”  In other words, this ruling could allow other groups to object to plates that are already in production in various states simply because they don’t like their messages.  This is something that seems to be happening more and more within the borders of our nation.  


My question to you is what’s next?  What is the next thing that may be censored?  California has already banned the sale of Confederate flags within the state.  This ruling has the potential to affect so many of our freedoms; it is not just about license plates.  Contact your representatives, get involved, and fight for our heritage.  Read the complete article here:








NOAA honors lost crew of USS Monitor

Recreates faces of two sailors found in ill-fated ship’s gun turret,

asks public for help to identify

Published March 6, 2012


USS Monitor sailor.

LEFT: Clay model of the face of a USS Monitor sailor whose remains were found in the gun turret in 2002.

RIGHT: Computer enhanced image showing what the unknown sailor may have looked like while aboard the USS Monitor in 1862.

See images of second unknown sailor here.

Download here. (Credit: Louisiana State University)


Nearly 150 years after 16 USS Monitor sailors died when their vessel sank in a New Year’s Eve storm, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has released forensic reconstructions of the faces of two crew members.


Officials unveiled the reconstructions and dedicated a plaque in memory of the Monitor crew during a ceremony sponsored by the United States Navy Memorial Foundation at the Navy Memorial in Washington today.


The skeletal remains of both sailors were discovered inside the Monitor’s gun turret after it was raised from the ocean floor in 2002. While much has been learned about the physical characteristics of the men, their identities remain a mystery. By releasing images of the reconstructed faces, NOAA hopes the public will be able to assist in the ongoing effort to identify the sailors.


“These are the faces of men who gave their lives for their country at a pivotal moment in American history,” said David Alberg, superintendent of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, which was established by Congress in 1975 to protect the Monitor wreck site. “The best case scenario is that someone will emerge, perhaps a descendent, who can give these faces a name.”


"Our job is to not only protect and preserve our Naval history, but to make it 'come alive' to our sailors and the public,” said Rear Admiral Jay A. DeLoach, USN (Ret.) head of the Naval History & Heritage Command. “The fusion of science, technology and history has breathed life into our shipmates, and we are very proud of the legacy we have inherited from the sailors of the USS Monitor."

According to a Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) report, both of the recovered skeletons were well-preserved and nearly complete. Scientists estimated one of the men to be between 17 to 24 years old and about 5 feet 7 inches tall, with relatively good oral hygiene. The other man was about one inch shorter, between 30 to 40 years old, and probably smoked a pipe. Both men were white, although the Monitor’screw included at least one African-American.


Conservators inspect the Dahlgren guns.

Conservators inspect the Dahlgren guns inside the USSMonitor turret.

Download here. (Credit: The Mariners' Museum )


A Civil War-era Union ironclad warship that revolutionized naval warfare, the USS Monitor is best known for its battle with the Confederate ironclad, CSS Virginia in Hampton Roads, Va., on March 9, 1862. The engagement marked the first time iron-armored ships clashed in naval warfare and signaled the end of the era of wooden ships.


Less than a year later, while being towed to a new field of battle, the Monitor capsized and sank off Cape Hatteras, N.C., carrying 16 crew members to their deaths. The skeletal remains of the two sailors were found in the turret during a recovery operation in 2002 by NOAA and the U.S. Navy. The remains were turned over to the JPAC in Hawaii, which has worked to try and identify the sailors. To date, no trace of the other 14 missing members of the crew has been found.


Officers stand on the deck of the USS Monitor.

Officers stand on the deck of the USS Monitor in this image captured on

July 9, 1862, by Union photographer, James F. Gibson.

Download here. (Credit: Library of Congress )


Forensic anthropologists at Louisiana State University’s Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services (FACES) Laboratory volunteered their efforts and created the facial reconstructions by using a combination of scientific and archaeological research, 3-D clay facial reconstruction, computer-generated modeling, and computer-enhanced imaging techniques. No NOAA funds were spent on the reconstructions.


“We don’t know all the answers about their lives but the reconstruction is a way to bring the past to life, to create something as similar as possible to the original,” said Mary H. Manhein, director of the FACES lab. “To see the faces take shape, to go from bone to flesh is very exciting. Our hope is that someone seeing the sculptures may recognize the face as an ancestor.”


Retired NOAA archaeologist John Broadwater, who was among the first to explore the Monitor wreck site after it was discovered in 1973, said the facial reconstructions add another layer of history to the Monitor’s fascinating saga.


 “When Navy divers discovered the human remains in Monitor’s turret, they immediately began referring to them as ‘our shipmates,’” said Broadwater, author of USS Monitor: An Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage. “Looking into these two faces is very moving for me and, I’m certain, for everyone involved in the Monitor recovery operations.”


The sculptures will be kept as part of the Office of National Marine Sanctuary’s Monitor collection and will be used in future exhibits and education programs.

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for the National Marine Sanctuary System, and works to conserve, protect, and enhance their biodiversity, ecological integrity and cultural legacy. The system includes 13 national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument, collectively encompassing over 150,000 square miles of area in the ocean and Great Lakes. The Maritime Heritage Program focuses on maritime heritage resources within the national marine sanctuary system, and promotes maritime heritage appreciation throughout the nation.


NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitter and our other social media channels.






Civil War Re-enactors Say NO to Upcoming Rock Concert at Fort Clinch

From the BLOG of Mary Maguire on March 8, 2015.

The Independent is a news site that covers Nassau County, FL



Civil War re-enactor Rob Pfluger. Why not have a rock concert at Fort Clinch? Soldiers died heree.

Civil War re-enactor Rob Pfluger. Why not have rock

a concert at Fort Clinch? “Soldiers died here,” said Pfluger.


Civil War re-enactor Rob Pfluger worked Saturday night as the Quartermaster at Fort Clinch State Park during the Living History Weekend. The job as he explained it to a scout troop from Daytona, involves overseeing supplies, including clothing and bedding issued to soldiers and tools used at the fort.


A table was loaded with blankets, shoulder bags, metal cups, candles, shirts and shoes. A chaperone asked if size 14 shoes were available.


“No,” said Pfluger. “Just size 8 to 10 would basically be it and they’d cost anywhere from $2.50 to $3.50. That’s a lot of money to a private earning $13 a month.”


Pfluger, 44, who works in IT for Rollins College in Winter Garden, Florida and lives in Orlando, said that he has participated in the Fort Clinch re-enactments for 15 years. He said the supplies in the three-room Quartermaster office were replicas.


Troopers in the kitchen during Fort Clinch State Park Living History Weekend.

Troopers in the kitchen during Fort Clinch State Park

Living History Weekend.


Pfluger wore a simple gray jacket (“100 percent wool”) with brass buttons and a hat with an engineer emblem. He said that it is one of six uniforms that he owns, including two confederate army uniforms.


“I’ve spent a lot of time on eBay,” said Pfluger.


Pfluger said uniforms can cost several hundred dollars and that he also wears a uniform that signifies that he plays in a civil war military band. “I play brass instruments, including bugle,” said Pfluger.


He picked a similar band jacket off of a shelf and held it up to his shoulders. “It would look like this,” he said. The jacket had several gold stripes across the chest.


Outside the reenacting community, Pfluger said he plays in a band called Band of American Freedom, a modern US Military band.


“I’d love for us to play at Fort Clinch,” said Pfluger.


They have concerts here, and a big one is coming up next month.


“I know, and I’m worried about the weak mortar and the windows,” said Pfluger.


The rock bands Umphreys McGee and opening act Lettuce are scheduled to play a two-night show April 10th and 11th at the fort in Fernandina Beach. The local promoter said 1,350 tickets have been sold, including VIP tickets for $399 each.


Pfluger said he listened to the band on YouTube and is alarmed by what he saw and heard.


“The lead guitarist was saying that he blew his amp out,” said Pfluger. “Not like, Oh no, I blew my amp out. But like, YEAH! I blew my amp out, and pumping his fist.”


Pfluger said that he is a member of the 75th Ohio re-enactors, and that he and other members object to the concert. He said letters have been written to Fort Clinch Park Manager Benjamin Faure, the band’s management company, and concert promoters.


“I’ve got a long list of email addresses,” said Pfluger.


Pfluger said that he has had polite meetings with Faure, but that he has not convinced him to cancel the concert.


“This is about money,” said Pfluger.


The concert is expected to raise $40,000 for Fort Clinch, according to promoters and Friends of Fort Clinch.


Pfluger understands that the money is needed to make repairs. But he has another reason for objecting to the concert.


“U.S. soldiers died here. Not in battle but from disease, like yellow fever and construction accidents,” said Pfluger. “These men gave their lives in service to our country and it’s not an appropriate venue for a rock concert.”






From the BLOG of Mary Maguire on March 28, 2015.

The Independent is a news site that covers Nassau County, FL



The Umphreys McGee concert planned to be held next month at Fort Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach has been cancelled, according to an announcement posted on the band’s website.


The rock band said the two-night performance on April 10th and 11th will now be held at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre in St. Augustine.


“It is with great regret that we deliver the news that our upcoming concert at Fort Clinch State Park has been cancelled by the park administration,” said the band.  “The product and logistics plan in place were deemed potentially detrimental to the historic landmark by Fort Clinch and city officials.”


The show was expected to raise $40,000 for the park, according to promoters and park officials.


The Friends of Fort Clinch approved the performance late last year, according to board members because money for repairs is needed at the Civil War era fort. Board members also said they were against the concert because of potential damage to the fort and the park.


Earlier this month, Fernandina Beach Police Chief James Hurley said the concert would require additional security and that putting more officers on the street would strain the department’s overtime budget.


The band said that all tickets sold for the Fort Clinch performance will be honored at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.


“We hope you will join us in St. Augustine at this remarkable venue as we take some Florida lemons and make lemonade.”







How to Salute and Pay Respects To Officers

By Vincent A. Petty


http://www.civilwarhome.com/images/csaofficerrank.jpg               http://www.civilwarhome.com/images/unionofficerrank2.jpg


The following rules are intended as a guide for soldiers to pay the proper respects to officers.  Among the sources for these rules is Customs of Service for Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers, Practiced in the Army of the United States,  by August V. Kautz.  Katuz took these "customs" from the various manuals used by the army at the time as well as laws and regulations passed by Congress.  The same rules that Kautz gives in his manual, written in 1864, can be found word for word in Gilham's Manual, written in 1859/1860 and Hardee's written in 1855.  The standards of respect for officers were the same in both the Union and Confederate armies.


To salute the soldier raises his right hand to the right side of the visor of his cap, palm to the front and the elbow raised to the height of the shoulder (this is the same basic salute used by the British army).  Sergeants with muskets will salute by bringing the left hand across the body, so as to strike the musket near the right shoulder.  Corporals and privates out of ranks and with muskets will carry their muskets as sergeants (the sergeant's carry which is the same as shoulder arms for light infantry), and salute in the same manner.


1).  When a soldier meets an officer he is to salute looking at the same time in a respectful and soldier-like manner at the officer, who will return the compliment thus offered.  When approaching an officer the salute should be made six paces before meeting him and held until six paces after passing him.

2).  A NCO or soldier being seated, and without particular occupation, will rise on the approach of an officer, and make the customary salutation.  If standing, he will turn toward the officer for the same purpose.  If the parties remain in the same place or on the same ground, such compliments need not be repeated.

3).  A NCO or soldier when he addresses an officer or is spoken to by one, salutes; on receiving the answer or communication from the officer, he again salutes before turning to go away.

4).  When a soldier enters an officer's quarters armed, he simply makes the required salute, and does not take off his cap; but without arms, he takes off his cap and stands in the position of the soldier (stands at attention).  He remains standing until invited to sit down.

5).  A sentry or guard when on a post will salute lieutenants and captains by facing to them and coming to 'shoulder Arms' and holding until the officer passes.  A sentry or guard when on post will salute officers above the rank of captain, officers of the day, and commanding officers  (weather above the rank of captain or not) by turning to them and 'presenting arms'.  Armed bodies of men passing near a sentinel's post, commanded by an officer are entitled to a 'present arms', if by a NCO they are saluted by a 'shoulder arms'.



1).  Sentinels and guards do not give a salute between retreat and reveille (sun-down to sun-up).  Pickets do not salute officers.

2).  When soldiers are marching or in ranks, they do not salute.  If employed at any work, they are not expected to discontinue their employment to salute.






Benjamin F. Butler

A Review of Butler’s Book – Part 2

By Ralph Epifanio




The political mood of 1850s America was one of disquietude and mounting suspicion between regions that differed, not only in their social and economic fabric, but in their image of the future. The great peacemakers of earlier times, Senators John Calhoun (South Carolina), Henry Clay (Kentucky), and Daniel Webster (Massachusetts)—known collectively as “The Great Triumvirate”--would all be gone by 1852. After long and storied careers, dedicated in large measure to a series of compromises that held the nation together despite bitter intra-regional feuds, their careers would, ironically, unravel with their involvement in the last of these, known as the Compromise of 1850. Differing opinions on slavery, which were anchored in the American consciousness by deep and personal emotional roots, would serve as a flashpoint for conflicts—both verbal and armed--that had persisted since the nation’s founding, but which, in retrospect, are viewed as the first skirmishes of The Great Rebellion.  As witness to these, a maturing Benjamin Butler is slowly, but inexorably drawn into the rapidly widening rift that evolved into the War Between the States.


Benjamin Butler’s legal career conveniently dovetailed into that as a politician, and he successfully ran for office, serving first as a representative in the Massachusetts State Legislature, then as its Senator. Butler—as a Democrat--makes some observations that sound both hypocritical of that era’s Republican political platform and at the same time eerily modern in thinking.


“It is a singular fact in the history of all legislative assemblies that not much is done where the proceedings are officially reported. In the United States Senate there is more business done in the few days of secret or executive session, where no speeches are reported, than is done during the whole session in open Senate where the proceedings and speeches are published day by day, with very little profit by anybody.” (Page 118)


Butler goes on to list some examples of monumental historical change beyond the public eye: The drafting of the Declaration of Independence, the framing of our Constitution, The National Assembly of the French Republic, and the Cromwellian Parliament of England. He brings this up in reference to attempts in framing the Massachusetts Constitution during the 1850s, the initial rejection of which he blames on a public, protracted debate.


Further, two issues that influenced public opinion (in reference to the Irish/Roman Catholic, mostly those residing in the City of Boston) were the possible use of public funds to support parochial schools, which failed, and Article 20 of the 1859 Constitution, which passed: “No person shall have the right to vote, or be eligible to office, who shall not be able to read the Constitution in the English language and write his name.” These events having occurred in the years preceding the Great Rebellion point a damning finger back at the hotbed of Radical Republicans who would later punish the South in their attempt for almost identical practices.


As portrayed by Butler, his affiliation with Northern Democrats seemed to seal his fate as a local representative.


“In my political action thenceforward, I maintained my allegiance to the Democratic party. I attended as a delegate every national convention from 1848 to 1860, inclusive. I was frequently candidate for Congress in my district, but never with the slightest prospect of success, the votes on all questions being more than three to one against the Democracy.” (Page 123; in the context of the aforementioned, note the last word.)


In 1839, Butler joined the state militia.


“I had joined as a volunteer soldier in organizing a new company in the Massachusetts disciplined soldiery, called the ‘Lowell City Guard.’ I carried my musket in that company for three years…Sometimes in companies, and sometimes in regiments or larger bodies, the soldiers were called together from five to nine days each year.” (Page 123)


One such company in his regiment, the “Jackson Musketeers,” was composed of Irish- Catholic Democrats. This would have been the era of the “Know Nothing/Native American” party, whose candidate—Henry Gardner—was elected governor of Massachusetts (serving 1855-58).


“Of course, when the Know-Nothing ‘Native American’ frenzy swept over the State, there was a call for the disbandment of that company….” (Page 125)


Butler, who was by then a Colonel, was subsequently called into active duty to quell an impending anti-Irish disturbance. He called up four companies, and sensing the problem of his troops being ¼ Irish, ordered them to form a single line, by size order. This served to mix the militia, making it virtually impossible to differentiate which soldier belonged to which unit.


Governor Gardner, being unsuccessful in ordering Butler to disband the Jackson Musketeers, dismissed Butler. Butler, however, outsmarted Gardner, and maneuvered himself into a promotion as brigadier general, a position to which Gardner was forced to submit.  Reports of these events eventually reached Washington, and President Franklin Pierce—a fellow Democrat, and “doughface,” or Southern sympathizer-- appointed Butler, through Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, as a visitor to West Point, where he met General Winfield Scott.


There, according to Butler, Scott addressed him thus:


“I am very glad that the oldest general in the United States has the pleasure of receiving the youngest general in the United States.” (Page 127)


When in 1860, Governor Banks of Massachusetts called together the whole volunteer militia of the State, Butler, with 6000 troops under him, had a pretty sizeable “army” for their encampment at Concord.  Commenting on that, Butler wrote:


“I had seen together, for discipline, instruction, and military movement, a larger body of troops than even General Scott had seen together, for he never had so many in one body in Mexico.” (Page 127)


The aforementioned statement is proof positive that Attorney Benjamin F. Butler was very, very concise in his use of words, a practice no doubt an outgrowth of his professional career. However, consider that if he did indeed serve five to nine days a year in the state militia, as he himself says, the sum of which (from 1839 to 1860) would be no more that 189 total days. That is hardly testimony to his qualifications as someone who should hold the rank of brigadier general. (If he took advantage of events in all four seasons, a modern re-enactor could conceivably come close to challenging that total in one calendar year.) 


There was, both before and during the War Between the States, a great discontent—on both sides—at the rank and responsibilities of these “amateur soldiers,” and their effect on morale. Not that the so-called “professional soldiers” (read: West Point graduate) could always be counted on to act in the best interests of their troops, but the issue of men like Butler serving at the head of  the column became a political “hot potato” within the ranks. Second to that would be their political affiliation, as Butler contends. (More on that later.)


Butler’s take on what follows may differ from the historical record, as his reflection appeared in print nearly three decades later; however, it is worth noting nonetheless.


“The matters” –in reference to Chapter 3, “The Democracy of 1860”—may seem a twice-told tale to readers who lived when they are taking place. But it is owed to the younger generation that the causes and events that led to the War of the Rebellion”—note the name he uses in, or about, 1890—“should be stated here. They can be given in a single phrase,--perpetuation of slavery.” (Page 128)


(Note: As stated, by the time Butler wrote this, he had some 30 years to reflect on everything that had come before, during, and subsequent to the war, an effect called historiography. It is more an interpretation of history than a recording of it. )


Butler traces the time line of slavery, the compromise that allowed our country to form under the Constitution, and subsequent compromises that allowed it to continue to function despite cultural, economic, and ideological differences between its regional benefactors.


At the 1860 Democratic National Convention—at Charleston, South Carolina--despite his self-described friendship with Stephen A. Douglas, Butler threw his support behind Jefferson Davis, for whom he voted 57 times.


“…In looking over the histories of all the presidents on the questions of slavery, I found that the North on that question always got more under a Southern president than a Northern one. A Southerner had a standing that would sustain him in such action, while a Northern president looking for re-election at that time would be inclined to cater to the South irrespective of principle.


https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQhOeuPczCaFo2YdXnp4DHZKNgg16zjh3032lkg0JVA9nF6HJMJ-Q“Why my choice fell upon Davis was this: He was not a candidate even of his own State before the convention. He had highly distinguished himself as an officer and gallant soldier in the Mexican War. Statesmanlike in all his expressions, he ranked among the very first as a senator. No ultra-notions as to the heresy of secession could be found upon his record in the Senate…As Secretary of War, Davis had shown a great reach of  thought and belief in the future of the country. It is to the surveys and explorations ordered by him as Secretary of War that much of the prosperity and growth of the Northwest is due. We owe to those surveys and explorations the Union Pacific Railroad, which was built to bind the East and West together as with a chain of steel, after Davis had seceded.” (Pages 138-9)


As a result of accepting Butler’s “Cincinnati platform,” the South Carolina delegation walked out, en masse.


“This performance of South Carolina, applauded by several of the Southern Atlantic and Gulf States, suddenly and strongly foreshadowed to me certain consequences in the near future…It was also evident that at least six of the Southern States would secede if the coming election should prove disastrous to the Democracy, and if a Republican President, presumably Seward, should be elected. In that event the most thoughtful were persuaded that war would follow, but of what magnitude none could foresee. ” (Page 143)


The convention was adjourned, and moved up the coast.


“This adjournment to Baltimore was a plan of the friends of Judge (Stephen A.) Douglas, and its purpose was afterwards accomplished. It was evident that very many of the delegates of the convention, especially those from the Gulf States, would never go to Baltimore….When it assembled it appeared that the places of the seceding delegates from the South had been filled by the adherents of Judge Douglas. This gave him a decided majority, although by no means the necessary two thirds.” (Page 143)


What transpired next is more understandable in respect to the emotions of the times, rather than attempting to analyze it in ours. First of all, Douglas was believed to support Popular, or “squatter” Sovereignty, or the premise that the residents of a new state should determine its standing as a “free” or “slave” state.  When the Democratic conventions fractured, southern representatives became more pro-slavery than before. While the seceding (southern) delegates from Charleston would have been happy to maintain the status quo, their Baltimore replacements began maneuvering for a re-opening of the Atlantic Slave Trade, which caused some of the Baltimore delegates,  Butler among them, to walk out.


“I would no longer sit in a convention where the reopening of the African slave trade, made piracy by every law of God and man, was advocated and applauded.” (Page144)


The Democratic convention fractured once again, this one nominating (then vice president) John C. Breckenridge as their presidential candidate, with the slavery issue being that “Slavery lawfully exists in a Territory the moment a slave owner enters it with his slaves.” (Page 145)


Now you had the Democratic candidate (Stephen A. Douglas), a “southern Democrat” (in John C. Breckenridge), and the eventual winner—in large part because of this Democratic Party schism—a Republican, (Abraham Lincoln, formerly a Whig).


Machinations aside, Butler asserted that war was imminent. He relates an incident:


“I invited a Washington friend, a citizen of Washington, to dine with me at my hotel. After dinner, he said ‘Let us take a walk and I will show you something of what we mean to do.’ We…walked up Fifteenth Street to K Street, and out towards Georgetown…There he took me to certain sheds, which looked like market sheds…He took me to the farther end of one of them, and there, looking through a small aperture which I reached by standing upon a keg, I saw from seventy-five to one hundred men drilling with arms, and I heard the commands of the school of the soldier, such as was given in military drill.


“ ‘…Well, what is all this about?’


“ ‘We are getting ready for the 4th of March,’ he said.


“ ‘Drilling a company of the district militia to escort Lincoln?’


“ ‘Yes,’ said he with a laugh, ‘they may escort Lincoln, but I guess not in the direction of the White House.’


“I looked at him and said, ‘You are not in earnest?’


“ ‘Never more earnest in my life. We don’t intend to have the black Republican ----- (I don’t remember the offensive term) inaugurated to rule over us here in Washington.’”


Upon returning to Boston, Butler called upon then Governor Andrew and apprised him of the situation. The general made several suggestions: first, that the militia should be called to duty; that the men would need overcoats, which they did not already have; and adjudged to be behind a call to protect the future president.

Throughout his descriptions of military operations, Butler makes numerous assertions that the significance of a group’s political party greatly influenced their “commitment” to any action. In this case, for example, he warned Gov. Andrew that:


“…our volunteer soldiers were…largely young Democrats, and suggested that if they were called upon to march by the order of a Republican governor to fight their party associates”--meaning a Republican president—“they might hesitate.” (Page 161)


Butler made the point (referring to the date as December 28, 1860), so that it might not be misinterpreted at the later date of his writing (1892), and that is even truer today, as this sort of thing would be unheard of in our era of national politics. (Or would it?) What he suggests to Andrew, and subsequently carries out, is to interview each man separately, and dismiss those who would not, or could not, serve to protect the inauguration.


As a result of five states’ (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina), seizure of U.S. Government property, and the latter’s firing upon the Star of the West in January--carried out by the cadets of The Citadel, and on the same ship that would be steaming towards Fort Sumter in that fateful day in April--in the next month, preparations were made to send the 6th Regiment (comprised of eight companies) to Washington. On February 5th, a secret session of the Massachusetts legislature appropriated a $100,000 emergency fund for equipping the troops.


They didn’t go quickly, that’s for sure. As a result of Lincoln’s “sneaking into Washington” under the dual cover of darkness and Detective Alan B. Pinkerton (who stayed on to found the 19th century version of the Secret Service, and later a detective agency that carried his name), the Inauguration went off without a hitch.  Back in Boston, coats were being manufactured—some in a factory that Butler had invested in, a fact that he was reminded of in the press—the $100,000 congressional appropriation “disappeared,” and was eventually replaced by $3.5 million dollars in bank loans. (Patriotism, once again, is profit wrapped in a flag.) Even another Brigadier General (Peirce) appeared on the scene, but due to his political wrangling, Butler got the leading role.


Finally, on the night of April 17th, 1861, the first trainload of troops (Colonel James’ 6th Regiment) pulled out of Boston. Two more (the Third and Fourth Regiment) sailed for Fortress Monroe (on a peninsula at Hampton Roads, Virginia) by boat, one leaving late on the night of the 17th and the other early on the morning of the 18th. Butler followed later on the 18th with the 8th Regiment under Col. Timothy Moore.


First in New York (where he was entertained by future hat mogul John B. Stetson), then in Philadelphia, the Democratic leaders greeted and feted General Butler,  while crowds gave way to the first—of many --wave of the Union Army heading south.  Butler leads us to believe that cheers and ovations followed in their wake. But that was north of Mason-Dixon.


Meanwhile, the 6th had reached Baltimore by train (April 19th), but due to a city ordinance the train couldn’t go straight through on its own; individual cars were unhitched and pulled through to Camden Yard by horses.  The last three (of the train’s ten) cars were confronted by a mob on Pratt Street, forcing the troops to disembark. In the resultant confrontation, six of the militia men were killed, and 30 wounded. Little known as it was, this was arguably the first land-based action of the war. (The first recorded death of the War of Rebellion was that of Sumner Henry Needham; the firing on Ft. Sumter, exactly one week earlier, produced no casualties.) This riot probably weighed heavily upon Lincoln when he eventually began his descent down that slippery slope of “constitutional revisionism.”


Mobs to the front of them, mobs to the rear; the remainder of the regiment barely made it out of Baltimore alive. They would be the last, by rail at least. (The two major rail trestles, across Gunpowder Creeks, had been burned, and a mob was attempting to blow up the viaduct at the Relay House.)

When the 6th Massachusetts Regiment reached Washington, it was a tossup as to who was happier to see whom, the troops who had had a long and harrowing journey, or President Lincoln, who was at the depot to greet them. According to Butler:


https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQOxs2WRJDMWoSGkQ2lWYH0PtsBrBsCrQPMhHTyfUYW-AeV8KktHe”—Lincoln—“shook Colonel Jones warmly by the hand, and said ‘Thank God, you have come; for if you had not Washington would have been in the hands of the rebels before morning.” (Page 180)


With Baltimore closed to further passing, as was most of Maryland, Butler decided to enter and seize control of the City of Annapolis—the Maryland capital--using the Naval Academy as his base. (It was walled in on three sides, with the fourth facing the Chesapeake.) He did so by taking over the ferry boat Maryland, and steaming past Baltimore, from Havre de Grace, both of which are located on the Chesapeake Bay.


“I was at once put in mind of the advantage of holding the port of Annapolis as the port and harbor of Washington. This would give the North, by means of its Naval superiority, at all times the possibility of marching upon Washington, or marching for the purpose of carrying on war with the South.” (Page 187)


Thus, Annapolis—which was in the heart of Confederate-friendly Maryland—was held in Union hands for the duration of the war. And as an aside, so too would be the Constitution--which was for a time in serious danger of being seized in the early days of the Rebellion—and “the great seal of the State of Maryland…so that it could not be attached to an ordinance of secession….” (Page 196)


Incidentally, “Old Ironsides,” named the Constitution by President George Washington as one of the six original US Navy frigates and launched in 1797, remains as the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. (It is infrequently taken out to sea on important occasions.) A second member of that original fleet, the USS United States-- while in Norfolk, Virginia--was later captured by the Confederacy.


Butler quickly ascertained the importance of an immediate march on Washington. However, there was resistance on the part of the officers and troops of the New York Seventh Regiment-- which had joined him at Annapolis--and relayed to him through their commanding officer, Colonel Lefferts.  In short, they refused to go on to Washington.


This group was known as the “Silk Stocking Regiment,” because it was comprised mostly of New York’s “elite.” To get an idea of their influence and combined wealth, take a moment to visit the “Park Avenue Armory”--the world’s first privately financed armory, as a lasting tribute to its members;  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzZ1T2SNeXg. Built during the “Gilded Age,” and more a social club for the elite than anything, it shows what re-enacting would be if allowed to be carried to the extreme.


Keep in mind that New York City—which in 1861 consisted only of Manhattan--as well as New York State, were predominantly Democratic at the time. (Remember Butler’s problem with sending the Massachusetts Militia to defend the Republican Administration, mentioned earlier in this chapter?) Fifty-six million dollars of the nation’s $64.6 million of federal revenue (and two thirds of its imports) came through its largest port. Cotton was king, not only in the South, but in NYC as well. The prosperity of its business elite, and most of its banking, merchants, hotels, warehouses, shipping, and insurance industries depended on commerce in general, and cotton in particular. So on January 7, 1861 Mayor Fernando Wood convinced its Common Council that New York should become an independent government, joining the secession movement after South Carolina, and before Mississippi. The discussions lasted approximately three months. In fact, it took a visit by Father Abraham to finally derail the idea of a “Tri-Insula” Latin for “Three Islands (Manhattan, Staten, and Long), for if it succeeded, it might very well have bankrupted America.**


According to the Articles of War, not only was Butler’s militia under the same rules and regulations as the regular troops, but so was the NYS, and Butler was in command of the entire force. While he made his feelings clearly known to Leffert, Butler nonetheless acquiesced in taking the time to deal with the NYS’s “cowardice.”  This is how he summarily dealt with the event:


“After I had written this, and before I had revised the manuscript, the following letter was brought to my notice, which I use as an authority of my statements about the bravery of the officers, which I did not know of my own knowledge:--


‘Sir:--I have read Swinton’s History of the New York Seventh Regiment, and from it I learn that the Seventh was a well-drilled and equipped regiment in April, 1861. That during the Civil War they did not fire a shot at the enemy, were not in any battle, not once under fire, did not kill or wound any enemy, and never trod on rebel territory. (emphasis his).


‘In May, 1861, a portion of the regiment remained in camp in Washington while the others crossed the Long Bridge over the Potomac, and bivouacked one mile from the bridge. The next morning being Sunday, they formed in picturesque groups and their chaplain preached to them. That afternoon they returned to their camp in Washington.


‘They call this ‘Our Campaign in Virginia.’ That part of Virginia was not rebel territory. For a few weeks in the summer of 1862 and 1863 they did garrison duty in Baltimore. They returned to New York in July, 1863, and did not leave here again during the war. Shortly after the war they caused to be erected in Central Park an expensive monument. On the pedestal is inscribed ‘In honor of fifty-eight members of the Seventh Regiment who died in defence of the Union.”’ (Page 204)


That letter to Butler mentions one Robert G. Shaw, who, owing to his parents owning a house on Staten Island, was a private in the Seventh. However, at the time of his death he was a Colonel, and leading the men of the Massachusetts 54th (colored) in their assault on Fort Wagner (while the Seventh was back home in New York).


“The Seventh, having won no laurels, took one belonging to a regiment of negroes, and wear it as their own.” (Page 204)


The 7th Regiment of the New York Militia should not be confused with the 7th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment that answered either Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops (after Sumter), or those that fought in subsequent years. As I said before, Butler knew how to mince words, and would proceed to “argue his case,” even years after most of us would have buried the hatchet. His choice of words needs to be read both carefully, and perhaps with a computer at the ready.


Most of all, while the North was fighting the South, Butler was fighting—and would continue to do so for the remainder of the war—political intrigue that was the result of different ideas of leadership that arose among the various State Militias, the “West Pointers” (most of whom were not on active duty at the time he reached Fortress Monroe), and finally the “armchair generals” (or mostly those with political aspirations) watching the war in relative safety back in Washington. Brilliant, but far too sensitive to criticism—as are many of us--Benjamin Butler would go on to make major contributions to the war effort, but did so with one eye looking over his shoulder. In Part 3 we will further explore his military career.



 Butler’s Book; A Review of  His Legal, Political and Military Careers, by Benjamin F. Butler. (A subscription book published by A.M. Thayer & Company, Boston, 1892.)


* http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/first-south-carolina-then-new-york/







Chaplin’s Corner:

Experience the Resurrection

By Capt. John Butler, Chaplain Hardy’s Brigade

Inspired by God



And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek you the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.

Luke 24:5-6


We are preparing for the celebration to remember Jesus’ promise, the promise that He would not remain in the grave but that He would rise again. It is more than just a one day occurrence. It is the sanctification that Jesus is God’s Son, that He and only He can erase our sins if we fully trust in Him. It is such a profound event that we need to not just observe it, but we need to live it every day we are on the earth. The resurrection is not just to secure our life eternal with the Father, but to experience it and use it here as we live now. Jesus said in Luke 10:19 “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.


Resurrection only comes by means of death.  As Jesus gave His life on the cross to wash our sins, and to forgive the world so that thru Him the world might be saved, let us die to our own selves. Only when we truly give up the world and trust and obey Jesus can we have the resurrection.  As when we are baptized “We die to our old life, to rise again in new with Jesus Christ” From the moment we are born we begin dying, let us now finish that death to rise again with Jesus in our hearts. Then we can experience the peace that the resurrection brings about; not worrying about what may come down thru life, not concerning ourselves with troubles or hardships that we will live thru. As Chaplain J. Williams Jones experienced, after the War Between the States, while walking down a road and seeing a farmer plowing a field with one arm. His heart cried out to the man who seemed to have lost a great deal in life because of the maiming. However the farmer simply said. ‘Oh, Brother Jones, that is all right. I thank God that I have one arm left and an opportunity to use it for the support of those I love.’ Let us experience the peace of the resurrection every day that we can know that even though we may be maimed, we can carry on with God’s Love. Read Luke 24, and know that Jesus lives.


Happy Easter!

Brother John




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