Welcome to the monthly newsletter. If you wish to be notified of each new issue, send an email to email@example.com. ALL Writers are welcomed: Confederate, Union, and Civilian. If you wish to submit an article, or have any questions, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional event information, please visit the EVENTS page for a complete listing.
· May 1-3: Federal Garrison of Ft. Clinch, Fernandina Beach, FL
· May 1-3: President Lincoln’s Funeral, Springfield, IL (OUT OF STATE)
· May 2-3: Saint Andres Bay Salt Works Raid, Panama City, FL
· May 15-17: Battle of Resaca, GA (OUT OF STATE)
· May 22-14: 150th Anniversary of the Occupation of Manatee, Bradenton, FL
Battle of Bishops Farm
Holly Hill, Florida
By Lt. Col. David Hackel
The Battle of Bishops Farm reenactment was held April 17th, 18th, and 19th at the old Bishops Dairy Farm in Holly Hill, Florida. This was the 3rd year of the reenactment and was hosted by the 10th Tennessee- Morton’s Battery. Fine weather was throughout the entire weekend which made for a wonderful reenactment!
For our Southern Bells, Saturday morning sunshine was made even brighter and sweeter as the Ladies Tea commenced! Lovely Ladies from many parts of the state enjoy hot tea, cakes, cookies fruits and other delectable delights! Ladies who were presenting the Tea comprised of Mrs. Anna Hackel, Miss Talissa Wilson and Crafter and Presenter Dee Wolford.
On Saturday, a dominating Union force commanded by no other than Col C. Munson of the 4th Brigade with his hoards driving onto the field of battle. Gen. R. Brown of the Southern Volunteer Battalion, encountered the enemy and was determined to hold the Confederate line. The Union force on the Picket, included regular infantry, supported by artillery and cavalry. The Rebel infantry forces were also backed up by artillery and cavalry. After time had passed on the field of battle a dispatch rider informed Lt. D Hackel that Gen Robert E. Lee had surrendered his forces in Virginia and his men were being paroled. Under a flag of truce, both Colonials met to discuss the dispatch and to resolve leaving field. Col. Munson with superior Union forces would not yield the field and the battle continued till the Confederates moved off the field.
On Sunday, after many conference during the night by Confederate commanders to give the field over to the Union forces and send our men to safer grounds and to wait more orders from Gen Johnson of the Army of Tennessee, the men of the battalion would not have it, either beat the Union back off the field or die trying! Early in the morning Confederate reinforcements arrived to help in the defeat of the Union force. Dwindling by casualties and exhausted by the southern heat from yesterday’s fighting, an attempt was made to re-engage the battle and force the confederates to surrender. Col C. Munson and the 4th Brigade encountered the larger Confederate mass and the fight began. The combat was extreme and many men of the Union fell. As, Gen Brown and the men of the Southern Volunteers began there finally push and dislodged the Union from their works, at the same hour another dispatched arrived from Gen. Johnston HQ to stand down and prepare for the surrender of the Army of the Tennessee to Gen. Sherman’s Union Forces. Before a truce could be called Col. Munson sent word that he would yield the field and move off back to the North. Gen. Brown sent word back to the Union Col that a dispatch had been received and that all Confederate forces would stand down from action.
Late in the afternoon both Union and Confederates Commanders and soldiers formed ranks and a surrender by Confederates to the Union was given. Tears of joy and tears of disbelief were amongst both Armies. Rations were shared, stories told, and each army embraced the life after the war. On the morning after the dispatch, orders were given to parole all Confederates and pay would be issued and time for those men to travel to their homes faraway.
It was good to see all the folks back at this year’s reenactment. Battle of Bishops Farm was a great success, and nothing but a round of applause from the organizers as they exceeded their expectations for the event. Proceeds from this year’s reenactment will go to the Wounded Warriors Project!
Lt. Col D. H. Hackel
Southern Volunteer Battalion
By Bob Niepert
Campfire Food.... Denny Rosenow likes to cook and eat good outdoor type food. He goes on to say "I have been an outdoor cook for over 20 years and have catered company picnics outings etc. in Florida, California and Utah." Denny went to gourmet cooking school but now cooks mostly just for his wife and himself. Cooking in a Dutch oven is his specialty as well as barbeque. He wants to share some of his favorite recipes with you. If you have any cooking questions, you can email Denny at email@example.com He can answer your questions (or respond to your comments) and I will print his replies here with his cooking articles so all will benefit. Here is the first of a series. It sounds good.
Denny says...... This recipe was handed down from my dad who has made them for as long as I can remember.
1lb Great Northern beans
1lb Bulk sausage
1 Large onion diced
salt and pepper to taste
Take sausage and make into meat balls with egg and bread crumbs.
Fry in large pot until browned add onion cook until done.
Add beans and water to cover add spices simmer until done.
substitute links for bulk sausage.
Goes good with corn bread cooked in a dutch oven.
Tip:When you cook fresh corn leave it in the husk and boil until done. The husk and silk will come right off.
Apple Cake......Rachel Maynard got a lot of compliments on her apple cake this last weekend (Flat Lake Event) so she asked me to print the recipe. She wrote:
I am so pleased you all liked my apple cake at Flat Lake. As I promised here is the recipe for you....
- Combine 1 1/2 cups Wesson oil, 2 well beaten eggs, 2 tsp Vanilla, 1 tsp Cinnamon, 1 tsp soda, and 1/2 tsp salt.
- Mix very well.
- Add 3 cups Apples 1cup chopped walnuts and mix well again until Apples and walnuts are coated. Then add 2 cups sugar stir and then add 3 cups flour and mix well.
- Thinly coat bundt pan with olive oil spray.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 350 degrees.
- Take a tooth pick and insert at different spots to make sure the cake is done.
A Review of Butler’s Book – Part 3
By Ralph Epifanio
It is interesting to note how the meaning of words evolve and change over time. Take the term, “civil war,” for example. “Civil war” is not contained in Englishman Samuel Johnson’s (English) Dictionary, published in 1755, but the word civil is: “not military.” Later, in 1828, Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language includes the entry “war, civil” which reads: “a war between people of the same state or city; opposed to foreign war.” In the 1913 Noah Webster edition, fifty years after Gettysburg, under “war, civil,” it read: “a war between different factions in the same country.” By 1954, An Anglo Saxon Dictionary entry states that “civil war: a war between the citizens of the same country.” Back to Webster, which in 1967 describes “civil war” as “a war between different sections or parties of the same country or nation.” In 2012, Merriam-Webster’s definition evolved further still to define “civil war” as “war between factions or inhabitants of different regions within the same nation.” At the heart of these differences was a political atmosphere that was reflective of the times each reference book was published. In all cases, a lower case (common) noun is used.
Between 1861-65, however, “War Between the States” or “War for Southern Independence” (Confederacy), and “War of the Rebellion” or “War of Secession,” (Union), was offered by that era’s respective commentator. However, at the height of the event, and for years afterwards, it was summarily known as “The Rebellion,” or “The Great War.” (The latter was supplanted as the result of World War I, which in turn was named such as a result of WWI Part II, or WWII).
Two of the first, arguably most noteworthy, times that the term “civil war” was used in the context of that great American conflict, were by William Seward and Abraham Lincoln. In his famous “conciliatory speech” to the US Senate on January 12, 1861, Seward “warned that disunion would give rise to a state of ‘perpetual civil war,’ for neither side would tolerate an imbalance of strength or power.” (Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, page 300). Two months later, in Abraham Lincoln’s Inaugural Address, which he gave on Monday, March 4, 1861: “In your hands”—referring to the seceding states—“my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war.”( http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres31.html) Note, in both cases, the use of lower case letters, meaning it was not yet a proper noun.
In legal terms, neither side actually declared war. For the Union to do so, they would have had to recognize the Confederate States as a sovereign nation—which they simply would not do--and a Declaration of War would have to originate in the U.S. Congress. Since the 11 (14, if you prefer to defer to the transgressions of Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky) seceding states were a Confederacy, each state would have to declare war. So for all intents and purposes, it was simply an “insurrection.”
On that note, compare the American Revolution with the Civil War, as described by the New World Encyclopedia:
In the United States, the successful insurgency of the 1770s in British colonies in America, which featured organized armies fighting battles, came to be known as the American Revolution. The unsuccessful insurgency of the 1860s by southern U.S. states against the federal government backed by northern states, which also featured organized armies fighting battles, came to be known as the American Civil War. While hostilities were still ongoing, most Confederates preferred to call the conflict the Second American Revolution or something very similar, and had the Confederacy triumphed the war would likely have come to be known as a Revolution and/or a War of Independence. (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Civil_war)
Taken in context, however, those events of 1860-61 of which we are so familiar evolved into chaos a lot quicker than people had time to think about whether it was, or was not, a war.
Pursuant to what precedes this, Butler wrote:
“Davis must have known, and did know, that the firing on Sumter was as pronounced an act of war as was the battle of Gettysburg. Indeed, the Confederate Congress at Montgomery passed an act declaring war against the United States, and giving the power to its president to issue letters of marquee (legal piracy), within two days after the 14th of April. On the 17th of April, Davis issued such proclamation. True, this act of the Confederate Congress was kept secret until the 6th day of May, for it was passed in secret session and the seal of secrecy was not removed until then. That secrecy, however, has nothing to do with the question under consideration. The Rebels knew it was war.” (Pages 219-20)
Butler, however, goes on to speculate—indeed, for several pages in his autobiography—why Jefferson Davis did not attack Washington at the start of “the war,” when it was so vulnerable. He—Butler--assumes that it was Jeff Davis’s education at West Point, “where the necessity of a rapid movement in warlike operations is considered in the negative” (Page 221), but he does not admit what he says elsewhere, and of which ample evidence abounds, that the South did not want war. They just wanted to be left alone. It was only the Union invasion of Virginia in July that gave final, irrevocable impetus to the titanic struggle. That of course came at Manassas.
Ironically, much earlier--on May 5th, 1861--it was suggested to Butler by Secretary of the Treasury Chase that the railroad junction at Manassas be occupied at once, as a deterrent against the staging of a confederate attack. It was generally believed that invading Virginia’s “sacred soil” would come to no good, and neither commanding officer Winfield Scott, Lincoln, or his cabinet would approve an immediate move in that direction. Instead, Butler was ordered to move in the opposite direction, taking control of the Relay Station of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, then Federal Hill in Baltimore. He was subsequently relieved, and ordered by Scott, to Fortress Monroe on the Chesapeake, and there—on May 22, 1861--assumed command of the Departments of Virginia, North and South Carolina.
Fortress Monroe is strategically located on the tip of the peninsula that overlooks the Atlantic entry into Chesapeake Bay. No ship can enter or leave—in any direction—without being under its guns. It effectively blocks passage to (and from) Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington DC, Richmond, Hampton, and Newport News. Arguably, it was the most important federal military position in Civil War America.
Upon Butler’s occupation it was held –continuously—until the end of the war by Union troops and would come into importance as McClellan’s staging area during his disastrous Peninsula Campaign. Butler considered it “one of the strongest and best in the United States, and certainly the largest…a bastion fort of about sixty-five acres.” (Page 245) It soon became home to what Butler described as a “twelve inch, 25 ton bore cannon, the largest ever made.” (Page 250)
The day after he took command of the fort, he was visited—on the picket line—by Confederate Major Carey under a flag of truce. Carey was on a diplomatic mission to “probe” Butler’s intentions. His first question concerned safety of families and goods past the blockade, which Butler refused. A following question centered on three escaped Negroes, who belonged to his commanding officer, Colonel Mallory. A debate ensued:
Carey: “What do you mean to do with those negroes (lower case in 1861)?”
Butler: “I intend to hold them.”
Carey: “Do you mean, then, to set aside your constitutional obligation to return them?”
Butler, the lawyer: “I mean to take Virginia at her word, as declared in the ordinance of secession passed yesterday. I am under no constitutional obligations to a foreign nation”—perhaps admitting to something that has been a topic of debate for 150+ years—“which Virginia now claims to be.”
Carey: “But you say we cannot secede,” he answered, “and so you cannot consistently detain the negroes.”
Butler: “But you say you have seceded, so you can not consistently claim them. I shall hold these negroes as contraband of war”--emphasis mine—“since they are engaged in the construction of your battery and are claimed as your property. The question is simply whether they shall be used for or against the Government of the United States. Yet, though I greatly need the labor which has providentially come into my hands, if Colonel Mallory will come into the fort and take the oath of allegiance to the United States, he shall have his negroes, and I will endeavor to hire them from him.” (Pages 258-9)
Butler, as a well-polished lawyer, was calling on his knowledge—more from international law—that property captured in war was contraband.
Negroes “came pouring in day by day,” as Butler states, through the Union lines for the rest of the war, and it became common practice to use the term “contraband,” as a result of this exchange. John Hay, a pre-war journalist who served as one of Lincoln’s most trusted staff, in his Abraham Lincoln, A History, says “Out of this incident seems to have grown one of the most sudden and important revolutions in popular thought which took place during the whole war.” (Page 260)
Butler also points out that he was responsible for the first “balloon reconnaissance of the war” (Page 282), which was sent 1000 feet skyward to observe General Magruder’s possible assault on the important port of nearby Newport News (one of the most important shipyards in America).
Meanwhile, Lincoln—and for that matter, many “armchair generals”—pressed for a movement of the 75,000 “90 Day Men” to confront the rebels, and the first target was identified as Manassas, just beyond Washington, D.C. Butler saw this as an ill-conceived, poorly executed, and improperly led event that was doomed to failure, yet “had greater results and a more substantial effect on the country than any other in the war, except, perhaps, the battle of Gettysburg.” (Page 289)
“The battle ought not to have been fought at that time by any officer. It was a predestined and foredoomed defeat. It was fought under every condition of difficulty and discouragement with which it was possible to surround a battle. It was urged on in a manner and under an influence disgraceful to the common sense of mankind. The New York Tribune set up a clamor day by day, which had no foundation save in the half addled brain of its editor”—Horace Greeley—“a man who had not strength enough to stand a political defeat in after years without going idiotically insane. His cry of “on to Richmond” was repeated by other newspapers, and in this way a great deal of pressure was brought to bear upon the Cabinet, to which they more or less reluctantly yielded.” (Page 289)
Butler lists the problems associated with the battle as a newly promoted McDowell—“McDowell was a captain three months before”—soon to retire General Winfield Scott—“he wished to go out in a blaze of glory,” according to Butler—inexperienced, volunteer troops—whom he characterized as being susceptible to “camp ghost and scarecrow stories”—green, three month officers more exposed to the action than their men, and Butler describes as a “chronic disposition” of inexperienced officers and their men to exaggerate the number of the troops they opposed.
“The battle of Bull Run illustrates every vice, weakness, and incapacities of officers and men, who were good and true undoubtedly, but in a condition in which they will never fight. So bad was it all that one might reverently believe that a special Providence ordered it, so that slavery might be wiped out. Because if we had been patched up and healed over by concessions to slavery, as nobody in power was ready then for abolition.” (Page 293)
Later that summer (1861), Butler and his forces, along with the naval support of Commodore Stringham (including the ship of war, Harriet Lane*) moved on Hatteras in August, taking Hatteras Inlet. That successfully bottled up the coastline, and, thus—as Butler surmises—“By so doing we controlled the whole coast of North and South Carolina in the sounds, and held water communications from Norfolk to Beaufort, South Carolina.” (Page 285) Ironically, “the wonderful stupidity at Washington desired Hatteras Inlet stopped up…so the fleet had supplied itself with two sand-laden schooners to sink in the inlet, where the sands floating around would soon have made dry land.” (Page 285) Butler wisely chose not to listen.
*The Harriet Lane carried the name of the niece of President James Buchanan, Lincoln’s predecessor—still known as the “bachelor President”--who acted as “First Lady and hostess of the White House” while he was in office. Attractive and well-educated, this wildly popular young woman might be likened to Jackie Kennedy of 100 years later. Well known as a philanthropist, art collector, and fashion setter, her memory continued to inspire admiration as the namesake of two additional US Coast Guard Cutters, schools, hospitals, a Johns Hopkins Pediatric Handbook, and her extensive art collection—which was donated to the Smithsonian in 1903, forming its core, and inspiring the museum to call her “The First Lady of the National Collection of Fine Art.” It is interesting to note that her namesake, USS Harriet Lane--did far more to help re-unite the Union than her more powerfully placed uncle, who did virtually nothing while state after state seceded before president-elect Abraham Lincoln was sworn in to replace him as Chief Executive. (One of those almost forgotten facts that make that era all the more interesting.)
Soon after his mission to Hatteras, Butler returned to his home in Lowell, Massachusetts, and his observations point to a lack of patriotism on the part of his fellow citizens.
“There were things enough to be done, but there began to be great difficulty in getting troops enough to do those things. This was because recruiting had come to an absolute standstill. Senator Henry Wilson, who was the chairman of the Committee of Military Affairs of the Senate, had openly said in the Senate that no more troops were needed; that recruiting ought to stop.
“My attention being called to this matter of recruiting, I examined it with some care. I found that the war was dwindling into a partisan one. The governors of States insisted upon having all the troops under their own administration and control. Thus they obtained the appointment of all the officers of regiments, including the colonels. The governors of substantially all the States were Republicans, and the army was being recruited almost entirely by the friends and protégés of the Republican governors. These men enlisted their Republican neighbors and associates, and then, to eke out their companies so that they could be put at the head of them, they recruited all the scalawags there were in their neighborhood, and not infrequently robbed the houses of correction and the State prison, the governor pardoning the prisoners on the condition that they should enlist.
“It struck me very forcibly that if this thing went on, it would very soon become a party war, and if that took place it would be very disastrous because it might bring about a division of the North.” (Page 295)
Butler, upon completion of his self-appointed “fact gathering junket,” returned to Washington to offer his opinions to Lincoln.
It was duly noted by Butler, and carries itself to this day, that desertion was a major problem during the war. He notes that the men would return home—but occasionally to other states—and sometimes “sell themselves” off as substitutes, often more than once.
“Some of them even would desert from the troops of one State and get appointed officers of the troops of another State.” (Page 296)
“I had observed how much the army was losing by desertion and that there was no punishing for that crime. I had advised him”—Lincoln—“very strongly to punish deserters ruthlessly by death.” (Page 296)
Lincoln denied Butler satisfaction in his arguments, asking “How can I have a butcher’s day every Friday in the Army of the Potomac?”
It is difficult to determine how many Union (and Confederate) soldiers deserted, and for how long. Estimates that I have uncovered suggest, for example, “1 in 3,” 200,000, and so forth. Lincoln, as were many Washington DC leaders, was aware of the problem. Perhaps that is why “Lincoln offered general amnesty to some 125,000 Union soldiers then absent from their regiments in March 1863, provided those soldiers returned to their units.” ( http://teachinghistory.org/history-content/ask-a-historian/23934)
Butler next offered suggestions for a “presidential draft,” and an appointment to make a recruiting visit to New England in order to raise “six Democratic Regiments.” He pointed out that
“…if the present methods of recruiting go on until the election…and you have a million of men or so in the field, you will be short that number of Republican votes because your voters will be in the field.” (Page 297)
“There is meat in that,” Lincoln replied, and Butler got his appointment:
“Maj-Gen. B.F. Butler is hereby authorized to raise, organize, arm, uniform and equip a volunteer force for the war, in the New England States, not exceeding six (6) regiments of the maximum standard….” (Page 299)
Subsequently returning to New England, he visited—in order—Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and then returned to Massachusetts. He wrangled support from Governors Buckingham of Connecticut, Fairbanks of Vermont, and Roby of New Hampshire. In the case of the latter, when former President, and influential NH state resident Franklin Pierce found out that Butler was attempting to enlist his law partner, Lt. Col. John H. George, for the New Hampshire Regiment, he lost both George and his regiment.
He obtained the cooperation of Maine’s Governor Washburn, and with it procured the regimental leadership of Col. George F. Shepley, and artillery Capt. Thompson. Rhode Island’s Governor, however, turned him away, relinquishing any military decisions to the state’s favorite son, General Burnside.
Butler returned to Washington, reported the resistance to Democratic enlistments that he had encountered, and received the following support on October 1st:
“The six New England States will temporarily constitute a separate military department, to be called the Department of New England; headquarters, Boston. Maj.-Gen. B. F. Butler, United States Volunteer Service, while engaged in recruiting his division, will command.”(Page309)
Back in his home state, however, Butler discovered that:
“Massachusetts was very far behind in her quota, and she always remained so until she imported Germans in large numbers to fill her ranks, and, in the latter part of the war, sent down to Virginia and money to have negroes whom I enlisted in the service of the United States and duly mustered, credited to the quota of the several towns of Massachusetts…And with all that under the performances of her administrative officers, Massachusetts had the disgrace of a draft, intensified by a draft riot, which had to be put down by force of arms.” (Page 306)
Note, on page 307: A draft, under the law of Congress, was carried into effect in Massachusetts in the months of June and July, 1863, and was entirely an abortive affair as far as men were concerned. There were enrolled, between the ages of twenty and forty five, 164,178. Then there were names of persons drawn from the box, numbering 32,079. Of these, 6,690 were held to service, and of this number only 743 joined the service; 2,325 procured substitutes. Twenty-two thousand three hundred and forty three were exempted, and 3,044 failed to report, that is, they left for Canada or elsewhere, and 3,623 paid commutation. So that the whole number of drafted men and substitutes of drafted men sent to camp was 3,068; and of these, 2,720 were assigned and sent to the regiments of the front--that is, the draft produced three regiments of men.)
With Butler’s comments in mind, one has to ponder what effect that “prisoners, scalawags, and vagabonds” had upon the war, and its aftermath (Southern resistance to Reconstruction). These undesirables might have temporarily eased the enlistment quotas, but what kind of soldier they made can be seen in countless complaints by the Union officers who tried to control them, and the southern civilians who suffered their indiscretions. Diaries and written accounts of the era contain ample evidence of moral outrage at these “damned, thievin’ Yankees.”
Consider the timing of the nation’s first Negro regiment, the 54th Massachusetts. Authorized for organization during the winter of 1863, it was to be comprised solely of volunteers; however, its home state produced only 72 candidates. It became necessary to publicize it both nationally and internationally. By the time it had reached regimental numbers (1000), it was comprised of Negroes from Indiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Canada, the Caribbean, and several slave-holding states. Even its command structure echoed Butler’s words. Col. Robert Gould Shaw, freshly promoted from captain to colonel, was personally recruited from an abolitionist family—no doubt a member of that “Grand Old Party”--by Republican Governor John Albion Andrew. Benjamin Butler had little to say about the 54th, but much about the atmosphere under which it came about.
Next: Part 4: Butler’s comments on the Trent affair; The Union occupation of New Orleans.
Butler’s Book, by Benjamin Butler (Copyright 1892, by Benjamin Butler; A.M. Thayer & Co., Boston, 1892)
Team of Rivals; The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 2005)
Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address; http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres31.html
New World Encyclopedia; http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Civil_war)
Teaching History.Org .; http://teachinghistory.org/history-content/ask-a-historian/23934)
Young Civil War Reenactors Keep History Alive
Young Civil War reenactors experience America’s history—up close and personal.
By Mark Sanders
Pleasant Hill, La.—sounds like a pretty place, right? Well it is, on most days anyway. The town of about 400 sits among rolling green valleys, creeks and dirt roads in a rural area not far from where Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas meet. There are no stop lights in town. It’s the kind of place where folks wave when they drive past each other down the village’s one main street.
On a blistering warm day in April, 1864, though, the rugged forests of north-central Louisiana were anything but pleasant. Cannon balls were being shot across the hills and valleys, while horses and soldiers stood a few hundred feet away from each other. This later became known in Civil War history as the Battle of Pleasant Hill.
2011 marked 150 years since the Civil War began, and towns all over the United States commemorated the anniversary with reenactments. Reenactments feature men, women and children who dress and act the parts of real people who lived during the war. The focal point of the action is the battle, though there are almost always camps where soldiers “live” (and in some cases, “die”) for a few days. These places have everything from medical tents (think of a miniature hospital on a battlefield) to horse corrals to sleeping quarters. Pleasant Hill is no exception, either. The battle involved hundreds of soldiers from the Union and Confederate armies. This year’s reenactment took place the same day, and on the same site, as the original gunfight. And it didn’t just involve soldiers, either. There were also young people.
Landon Bradsher is one of them. At 12 years old, he is not old enough to act as an enlisted soldier, nor is he allowed to carry a gun into battle. He doesn’t really have a title. He’s referred to by the adults standing around as a “boy skirmisher”—a name sometimes given to kids who take messages to army superiors during battle. Because there were no cell phones back then, troops would rely on young men to relay orders from one group of soldiers to another. That’s a lot of responsibility for someone who, in modern times, would likely be in seventh grade.
“A lot of it is standing around, waiting for orders,” Landon says. Not that he’s complaining; he can barely contain his excitement as he stands around hundreds of men (plus a few women) dressed like it’s a century-and-a-half ago. Landon is in costume, too, wearing Confederate gray. He came here with his Boy Scout troop from east Texas to participate this weekend.
Landon says that when his friends heard he was taking part in this weekend’s reenactment, “they were like, ‘That’s awesome!’ Definitely, they were jealous.”
What’s life in the camp like when the battle’s not being fought? It involves some work, plus some time for playing around. At night, young reenactors sleep in tents or outside, the same as the soldiers. They fetch water from a nearby creek. They take turns at night working in two-hour shifts, watching the horses to make sure they don’t get “stolen” by Union troops or wander off on their own.
More than anything, it’s a chance for Landon and his friends to sleep under the stars, do outdoorsy stuff and learn a little about history.
Landon’s friends agree. A few of them show up as we speak, just a few minutes after the reenactment has ended. William Giddens ran messages for the Union army; his friend, Haydn Smith, did the same job for the Confederates. Haydn also carried the Confederate flag into battle.
William, a smiling, light brown-haired kid, is absolutely filthy from the waist down. “I’ve been carrying buckets of water for the horses,” he says. Then he confesses that, besides carrying water, he’s been exploring the forested area near the creek behind the battlefield.
William admits that a big part of why he likes doing reenactments is because it gives him an excuse to do things like that—getting dirty, exploring places he’s never visited—as well as staying up way past any reasonable bedtime. The night before, he was up at 1 a.m. watching horses.
But it’s more than that, says Landon. “It’s actually a way for us to respect our forefathers who fought here,” he says.
Joseph Kellogg agrees. He’s an eighth grader from north Louisiana who is here this weekend with his younger brother, James Mitchell.
Joseph says, “I want to do this, first of all, to keep history alive.”
He pauses, smiles, thinks for a minute, and then adds, “Also, the boys at home don’t get to play with guns. Out here we get to play with real guns, with other people.”
Joseph and James have done a lot of jobs over the past couple years they’ve been doing reenactments. They became interested in it after going to a reenactment – “as tourists,” Joseph says – and soon after, the brothers began doing everything from being flag bearers to marching with a snare drum into battle to relaying messages for the armies.
Reenacting, Joseph says, gives him a sense of history he would never have gotten by reading textbooks in school. When he hears about Civil War history in school now, he has a completely different, and very realistic, perspective that he wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Lies My Teacher Told Me:
The True History of the War for Southern Independence
By Clyde Wilson
We Sons of Confederate Veterans are charged with preserving the good name of the Confederate soldier. The world, for the most part, has acknowledged what Gen. R. E. Lee described in his farewell address as the “valour and devotion” and “unsurpassed courage and fortitude” of the Confederate soldier. The Stephen D. Lee Institute program is dedicated to that part of our duty that charges us not only to honour the Confederate soldier but “to vindicate the cause for which he fought.” We are here to make the case not only for the Confederate soldier but for his cause. It is useless to proclaim the courage, skill, and sacrifice of the Confederate soldier while permitting him to be guilty of a bad cause.
Although their cause was lost it was a good cause and still has a lot to teach the world today.
In this age of Political Correctness there has never been a greater need and greater opportunity to refresh our understanding of what happened in America in the years 1861–1865 and start defending our Southern forebears as strongly as they ought to be defended. There is plenty of true history available to us. It is our job to make it known.
All the institutions of American society, including nearly all Southern institutions and leaders, are now doing their best to separate the Confederacy off from the rest of American history and push it into one dark little corner labeled “ Slavery and Treason.” Being taught at every level of the educational system is the official party line that everything good that we or anyone believe about our Confederate ancestors is a myth, and by myth they mean a pack of lies that Southerners thought up to excuse their evil deeds and defeat.
It was not always so. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Jimmy Carter were not ashamed to be photographed with a Confederate flag. Dwight Eisenhower wrote a letter rebuking and correcting someone who had called R.E. Lee a traitor. In the newsreels of World War II and Korea our flag can be seen painted on fighter planes and flying over Marine tents. In the first half of the 20th century every single big Hollywood star played an admirable Confederate character in the movies at least once.
Those days are gone forever as you well know, although I doubt if you know how really bad it is. When we had the controversy over the flag in South Carolina a few years ago, some 90 or more historians issued a statement declaring that the war was about slavery and nothing but slavery and that all contrary ideas are invalid. They claimed that this was not simply their opinion, it was irrefutable fact established by them as experts in history. They did not put it exactly this way, but they were saying that our ancestors were despicable and that you and I are stupid and deluded in thinking well of them.
There are a hundred different things wrong with this statement. These historians are not speaking from knowledge or evidence, they are merely expressing the current fashion in historical interpretation. It is a misuse of history, indeed an absurdity, to reduce such a large and complex event as the War for Southern Independence to such simplistic and self-righteous terms. Historical interpretations change over time. Fifty years ago the foremost American historians believed that the war was primarily about economic interests and that slavery was a lesser issue. Fifty years from now, if people are still permitted to voice ideas that differ from the official government party line, historians will be saying something else.
Remember this. History is human experience and you do not have to be an “expert” to have an opinion about human experience. Furthermore, the kindergarten lesson of history is that human experience can be seen from more than one perspective. Never let yourself be put down by a so-called expert who claims to know more about your ancestors than you do. The qualities needed for understanding history are not some special expertise, but are the same qualities you look for in a good juror—the ability to examine all the evidence and weigh it fairly.
And history is not some disembodied truth. All history is the story of somebody’s experience. It is somebody’s history. When we talk about the War it is our history we are talking about, it is a part of our identity. To tell libelous lies about our ancestors is a direct attack on who we are.
It is right and natural for all people to honour their forefathers. We have every right to honour our Confederate forebears because they are ours, but there is more to it than that. We Southerners are especially fortunate in our forefathers. They not only won a place in the hearts of us, their descendants. They also won the lasting admiration of everyone in the civilized world who values an indomitable spirit in defense of freedom. That is why our battle-flag, which is being suppressed in this country, appeared spontaneously at the fall of the Berlin Wall and among peoples celebrating their liberation from communism.
Our Confederates are admired by the world to a degree seldom granted to lost causes. I find that thoughtful Europeans speak respectfully of the Confederacy, as did Winston Churchill. Foreigners have a great advantage in judging the right and wrong of the War between the States. They do not automatically assume that everything Yankees do and say is righteous, true, and unselfish. They view Yankees without the rose-coloured glasses with which Yankees view themselves.
The most basic simple fact about the War is that it was a war of invasion and conquest. Once you get clear on this basic fact, everything else falls into place. This is no secret. It is plain in the record. he rulers of the North openly declared that it was a war of conquest, to crush and punish disobedience to government, to create a powerful centralised state, and to keep the South as a captive source of wealth for Northern business and politicians. Lincoln’s pretty words about saving government of, by, and for the people are window dressing and the exact opposite of the truth. This is not preserving the Union. It is using war to turn the Union into something else that it was not meant to be.
The U.S. government, under the control of a minority party, launched a massive invasion of the South. They destroyed the democratic, legitimate, elected governments of fourteen States, killed as many of our forefathers as they could, deprived them of their citizenship, subjected them to military occupation, and did many other things that no American, North or South, could previously have imagined were possible.
Though they had four times our resources, they were not able to defeat our men, so the U.S. government launched an unprecedentedly brutal war of terrorism again Southern women and children, white and black. The war was so unpopular in the North that thousands of people were imprisoned by the army without due process, elections were conducted at bayonet point, and they had to import 300,000 foreigners to fill up the army.
This was the war—a brutal war of conquest and occupation against the will of millions of Americans. Was the reason for this the righteous desire to free the slaves?
I want to talk about the Constitution and the rights of the States as our forefathers understood them. No subject in American history has been more neglected or dealt with more trivially and dishonestly, and yet there are not many subjects in American history that are more important. The more one studies it, the clearer it becomes that our forefathers were right. The Southern understanding of the Constitution has never been refuted. It can’t be. It was simply crushed.
According to the Declaration of Independence, governments rest on the consent of the people, who may alter or abolish them when they no longer serve their rightful ends. This is the bedrock American principle.
In every system there must be, at least in theory, a sovereign —a final authority for the settlement of all questions. All Americans are agreed that the people are sovereign. (Actually the people are not sovereign any more, which is part of the tragedy of our lost cause. Sovereignty is now exercised by the President and the Supreme Court .)
But if we say, as earlier Americans did, that the people are sovereign, what do we mean by the people? Our forefathers had a very clear answer to this. State rights was not, despite what they will tell you, something that was made up to defend slavery. It was the most honoured American tradition, implicit in the way the United States Constitution was set up and made valid. The right of the people of a State to exercise their sovereign will and secede from the Union was taken for granted at the Founding of the United States.
James Madison, called the Father of the Constitution, said that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the opinion of the people of the states when they ratified it, and that the Tenth Amendment, which limited the government to specific powers and left all others to the states and the people, was the cornerstone of the Constitution. Just before his election as President Thomas Jefferson drafted the Kentucky Resolutions which stated in absolutely clear language that sovereignty rested in the people of each state. He maintained this before, during, and after he was President. (I know of a case where a graduate student wrote about Jefferson’s and Madison’s position on State rights. A tenured professor of American history at a large state university told the student that he had made it up because it couldn’t be true. Remember this when you hear “expert” professors laying down the law about history.)
Even Alexander Hamilton, the greatest advocate of a strong central government, stated that the government would never have any right to coerce a State. Jefferson in his later years took it for granted that the Union would break up—probably into eastern and western confederacies. There was nothing wrong with that. The sacred thing was not the Union but the consent of the people, which might be better represented in two or three confederacies rather than one. What, after all, is wrong with Americans creating other Unions if that is what the people want?
If time allowed I could give you quotations from now until Christmas proving that the right of secession was clearly understood at the establishment of the Constitution and for long after. But let me try to illustrate my point.
In 1720 the people of South Carolina, acting through their own legislature and militia, exercised their sovereign will by declaring themselves independent of the Lords Proprietors who claimed to own their territory. In 1775, acting in the same exercise of their sovereign will, they threw out the King’s government and became an independent nation. And they made this good well before the joint Declaration of Independence by defeating a British attack on Charleston. In 1787 the people through a convention specially elected to express their sovereign will considered whether or not to ratify the United States Constitution. If you believe that government rests on the consent of the people, then this is the only place the consent could be given. And it was an entirely free act of a sovereign who could say yea or nay without responsibility to any other authority. They ratified the Constitution under the understanding that they were joining in a Union that would be of mutual benefit to all the partners. This was the will of the only sovereign, the people of each State.
In 1860, the people of South Carolina assembled once more in a convention and repealed their previous ratification of the Constitution, which as a sovereign people they were entitled to do. They were now once more an independent nation as they had been before they had given their consent to the Union. They did this because the Union was no longer to their benefit but had become a burden and a danger. They said: We have acted in good faith and been very patient. But obviously you people in control of the federal government intend permanently to exploit our wealth and interfere in our affairs. Our contract with you no longer serves it purpose of mutual benefit and is hereby dissolved.
As you know, our North Carolina people did not want to bring on a crisis. They did not rush into secession, though they were never in doubt about their right. Then Lincoln announced that the legitimate governments of the seven seceded States were not States at all but are merely what he called “combinations of lawbreakers.” According to him, the act of the people was merely a crime problem. Once you had accepted the federal government the consent of the people could never be exercised again . He ordered the States to disperse within 30 days and obey his authority, or else. The issue was now clear for our State and the sovereign people of North Carolina elected a convention that unanimously seceded from affiliation with the United States.
Our forefathers were right, and they knew they were right. Their Lost Cause was a loss for all Americans and for the principle that governments must rest on the consent of the people. Imagine for a moment how different our situation would be today if we were able to get together and disobey the federal government which has usurped our right to consent to our rulers.
But I am of good cheer. One of the bad South-hating historians recently whined in print that even though he and other brilliant experts have declared the truth over and over, people still continue to admire the Confederacy and honour that mythical Lost Cause. They think we are not as wise as they. Why, people still write novels and songs about Lee and even about his horse! Why doesn’t anyone write about Grant and his men like that? That they can’t understand this tells you what kind of people they are.
Here is our great advantage. Our Confederate ancestors are truly admirable, and decent people all over the world know it. Let’s always remember that.
Recognizing the Son of God
By Captain John Butler, Chaplain Hardy’s Brigade
Inspired by God
“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples. Which are not
written in this book: But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ,
The Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name.” John 20:30-31
Can you imagine that night May 2, 1863 when pickets saw a group of shadowy riders coming towards them? In a time of battle, confusion, and war, there was very little time to recognize who was who, so they called out for identification. But action came before an answer and shots rang out. In the result, one of the greatest Generals lay wounded by his own men because of a failure to recognize.
We all have the opportunity to recognize someone greater, someone who fully gave His life for us. Not in an accidental shooting, but fully and willingly laying his life down for the entire world. But many fail to recognize Jesus. His own disciples even at times failed, when Jesus came to them on the water, “And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear” Matthew 14:26. Or it is because we just don’t know what to look for, we don’t know His features, His clothes, we don’t know His love. We need someone to guide us to Him, to show Him to us, and to single Him out with a kiss.
There are also some who REFUSE to recognize Jesus, and they refuse to know Him for what He did. They know of Jesus, and they know of His looks. But they simply will not accept the glory that is shown thru Him and the Glory of the Father. They simply will not accept that He is the way to follow, because it is such a simple way. There are all the laws of Moses to beheld, to be followed, but with so many, there is no one is able to keep them. We ourselves cannot hope to ‘work’ our way to righteousness, but simply believing on Jesus that He took our filthiness so we have His perfectness.
“Who do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias: and others, One of the prophet,” Mark 8:27-28. Take the time to see, and do not rush into making rash decisions that may severe your relationship with the Almighty. Think on the pickets that shot Gen. Jackson and what was going thru their minds when they learned who they fired on. Jesus made His way clear, that all should see Him as He was. “If you had known me, you should have known my Father also: and from henceforth you know him and have seen him,” John 14:7. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes unto the Father, but by me” KNOW who Jesus is, recognize Him as your savior, He has shown Himself even to all so they would believe. “And when the centurion, whom stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’,” Mark 15:39.
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