September 2015

 

Welcome to the monthly newsletter.  If you wish to be notified of each new issue, send an email to subscribe@floridareenactorsonline.com.   ALL Writers are welcomed: Confederate, Union, and Civilian.  If you wish to submit an article, or have any questions, send an email to webmaster@floridareenactorsonline.com.

 

YOS,

Ham

 

 

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

 

·        September 11-13:  Battle of Tunnel Hill, GA

·        September 19:  Blue and Gray Cotillion, Pinellas Park, FL

·        September 25-26:  Battle of Marianna Commemoration & Reenactment, FL

·        September 25-27:  Rifles, Rails and History, Tavares, FL

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·        October 3-4:  Vero Beach Gun Show & Battle of Yellow Pines Civil War Re-enactment, FL
Located at the Indian River County Fairgrounds 7955 58th Ave, Vero Beach. Saturday 9AM to 5PM Sunday 9AM to 4PM. $8 admission for age 14 and up, under 14 FREE. Parking is FREE.

 

Hosted by the Patriots Productions.  Location Indian River County Fairgrounds, 7955 58th Ave Vero Beach FL, 32967.  Battles Saturday at 2 pm and Sunday at 2 pm. Cavalry units and Artillery welcome & encouraged to come.  Firewood provided. Powder will provided by Patriot Productions Gun Shows No reenactor Fees.  Portable Toilets outside, indoor toilets during the day.  Free admittance to gun show for reenactors in uniform with id. Saturday night battle field party with bonfire, free food & free beer. Will be paying a fuel stipend for folks with big equipment like cannons, $75 per vehicle hauling cannons to a max of $150 per owner if hauling multiple cannons with 2 or more vehicles for the first 4 cannons. Cavalry Welcome and same cash stipend for first 4 horse trailers.  Will provide ammo/blanks or ammo stipend for small arms and cannons. Complimentary coffee and donuts each morning for reenactors.

 

Sutlers and reenactor information: contact Jim Odell at thejdawg569_2000@yahoo.com or 772-318-8258

 

RSVP: with your registration information to mike@patriotshows.com for more info contact me or Mike Strickland 866-611-0442

 

Coming South from I-95: take Vero Beach exit, head east on S.R. 60 (20th street), turn left on 58th Ave(Kings Highway) head north approximately 7 miles and the Fairgrounds will be on your left.

Coming North from I-95: take Sebastian exit, head east on C.R. 512, take a right at C.R. 510 until you get to 58th Ave, turn right (South) on 58th Ave and the fairgrounds will be on your right.

Coming from US Highway 1: head to 77th Street and turn west until you get to 58th Ave, turn right and the fairgrounds are on your left.  Parking is always free.

 

Indian River County Fairgrounds

7955 58th Ave

Vero Beach, FL 32967

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·        October 23-24:  THE CIVIL WAR MUSICAL, Bradenton, FL
The State College of Florida in Bradenton will present THE CIVIL WAR, by composer Frank Wildhorn, on Oct 23-24 at 8;00 p.m. and Oct 25 at 2 p.m. at the Neel Performing Arts Center.   Tickets for show are $12 for General Admission and $6 for students.  THE CIVIL WAR was nominated for several Tony awards in 1999 and is a musical overview of the war from the view point of the soldiers, families and slaves.  For further information, contact Melodie Dickerson at dickerm@scf.edu.

·        October 23-25:  FRIENDLY REMINDER - All those wishing to go to the Battle of Sandersville, GA, they are asking that people get registered as soon as possible.  This is going to be a really exciting little event.  http://occupationofsandersville.org/registration/

 

 

 

 

Battle of Gainesville, FL

 Various Authors

August 15, 2015

 

After-action report by Lt. Col. Hackel

 

It may have been a sultry & humid morning but the Battle of Gainesville went on and without delay! First, I want to thank the Matheson History Museum its Staff and Volunteers for hosting such a fine reenactment and allowing the reenacting community to share history with the citizens of Gainesville. Secondly, hats off to Capt. John McLean and his volunteers in creating and helping with all the work involved with putting on a great reenactment. Now, I would like to thank all the reenactors, performs, and presenters who made this event a fun and exciting! There were many units Union and Confederate whom came together and executed a show of unity in the Florida reenacting community, and gave to spectators a wonderful look into the past of Florida’s roll in the War Between the States. Again, thank you all who aided in making the Battle of Gainesville a great success! God Bless all and I’ll see you on the field!

 

Respectfully

Lt. Col David H. Hackel

 

https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xaf1/v/t1.0-9/11873434_10207667193463790_5449700751840683515_n.jpg?oh=3f0a063920bdce87569f7be710cdade8&oe=56766684      https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xtp1/v/t1.0-9/11887889_10207667194783823_1422352642820171523_n.jpg?oh=ac298baf4444f660ba9efaeb00357ca8&oe=56397A1D       https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/11219725_10207667195343837_4537151025932023770_n.jpg?oh=d8dd12a4a9f490a98cb1979a543c1f8a&oe=56404271

Photos by Mark Marusek

 

Echoes of the Civil War resonate in Gainesville

By Carl McKinney

Gainesville Sun

Original article can be found here

Photos from the Gainesville Sun

http://www.gainesville.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=GS&Date=20150815&Category=MULTIMEDIA0301&ArtNo=815009999&Ref=PH&Item=1&NewTbl=1&Maxw=603&MaxH=452&q=90 

Smoke began to fill the air as the two lines of soldiers began firing at each other. The gray-coated Confederate forces maintained a Napoleonic formation, while the Union soldiers in blue dropped into prone positions and used trees for cover.

 

It was the sixth time the battle has taken place, but unlike the first, the last five have had no casualties.

 

On Saturday morning, the Matheson Museum hosted the fifth annual re-enactment of the Battle of Gainesville, which took place in what is now Sweetwater Park behind the museum, just east of downtown.

 

The actual battle, which took place in August 1864, had around 340 Union soldiers fighting against about 175 Confederates. On Saturday, about 70 re-enactors were split evenly across the two sides to represent the fight.

 

Spectators gathered around 9 a.m., getting in position to watch the conflict.

 

http://www.gainesville.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=GS&Date=20150815&Category=MULTIMEDIA0301&ArtNo=815009999&Ref=PH&Item=3&NewTbl=1&Maxw=603&MaxH=452&q=90Before the re-enactment commenced, onlookers were given context for both the larger war and the battle itself.

 

UF American history professor Jon Sensbach gave a 10-minute overview of the Civil War, which is still surrounded by controversy.

 

With the recent events in Charleston, S.C., where nine African-Americans were killed by Dylan Roof, who was known to be fond of the Confederate flag, there has been a tremendous surge of interest in the symbols of the Confederacy and what they mean, Sensbach said.

 

The debate over these symbols reminds us that symbols live in history, national mythology and in our emotions, he said.

 

As the two sides of the re-enactment prepared, Sensbach went on with his lecture, focusing on what he called three themes of the war.

 

The first, he said, was that the war that led to the demise of slavery was fought by two sides who were both, in some capacity, pro-slavery. Even the Union originally only wanted to contain slavery in the South and prevent it from spreading west, Sensbach contended. And there was no question the South also wanted to maintain slavery, he added.

http://www.gainesville.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=GS&Date=20150815&Category=MULTIMEDIA0301&ArtNo=815009999&Ref=PH&Item=4&NewTbl=1&Maxw=603&MaxH=452&q=90

“They were all explicit in their desire to preserve slavery,” Sensbach said.

 

The second theme was that the bulk of the Confederate army was comprised of ordinary, non-slaveholders.

 

“That raises an interesting question,” he said. “What are they fighting for?”

 

Finally, Sensbach added, African-Americans seized the Civil War as an opportunity to turn the war into a fight for freedom. By 1864, many former slaves were fighting in the Union army.

 

Keith Kohl, a re-enactor on the Union side, set the stage for the upcoming battle by retelling the events that led the two sides to come face-to-face in Gainesville.

 

After the Union captured the Mississippi River, the Confederacy was effectively cut off from Texas, its biggest beef supplier. Florida, the second-biggest supplier, thus became more important, he said. Florida was also a large supplier of salt, which was vital for preserving meats.

 

On Aug. 17, 1864, Union Col. Andrew Harris occupied Gainesville. His soldiers were tired from a long march when they were caught by surprise by Confederate forces, including the Second Florida Cavalry, under the command of Capt. John Dickison.

 

http://www.gainesville.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=GS&Date=20150815&Category=MULTIMEDIA0301&ArtNo=815009999&Ref=PH&Item=6&NewTbl=1&Maxw=603&MaxH=452&q=90In modern-day Gainesville, as Kohl finished with the history, the re-enactors finished getting into position.

 

“Use your imagination,” Kohl said. “Strip away the modern pavement.”

 

Thunderous noises filled the air at 10 a.m., as the guns began firing. The guns were real, just not loaded with any deadly projectiles.

 

Smoke formed around the battlefield, as two Union soldiers took cover behind a large tree.

 

As the Union army maneuvered around the battlefield, one soldier got hit in his leg, alerting a medic to come give it attention.

 

http://www.gainesville.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=GS&Date=20150815&Category=MULTIMEDIA0301&ArtNo=815009999&Ref=PH&Item=21&NewTbl=1&Maxw=603&MaxH=452&q=90The medics, like the guns, were also real, in case of any actual injuries.

 

The wounded soldier limped along as the Union forces advanced closer to the confederate line.

 

The United States Marine Corps, identifiable by their white pants, moved to the right flank of the Union line.

 

Confederate forces reorganized into a “U” shape, surrounding the Union line.

 

After several minutes of gunfire and a few dead Confederates, it looked as if the rebels were retreating, but that was not the case. As the Union stood where the Confederate line originally was, their opponent regrouped in the nearby woods.

 

The battlefield became quiet as the gunfire stopped. The silence didn't last long, as the Confederates moved toward the Union's left flank.

 

The Union moved to face them. The smoke became thicker than ever.

 

http://www.gainesville.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=GS&Date=20150815&Category=MULTIMEDIA0301&ArtNo=815009999&Ref=PH&Item=12&NewTbl=1&Maxw=603&MaxH=452&q=90Now, the blue-clad soldiers began to fall back as the South advanced.

 

With one volley of gunfire, performed in perfect unison, several Union soldiers fell to the ground.

 

The two sides rotated 90 degrees around the battlefield and began firing on each other again.

 

The Confederate line split into two, with one larger group holding the original position, and another smaller group moving in to flank the enemy.

 

Finally, the Union began to retreat.

 

The original battle ended in 302 Union soldiers missing, captured or killed, and three dead and five wounded Confederates. Remaining Union soldiers retreated to garrisons in Jacksonville and St. Augustine.

 

Re-enactors from both armies regrouped to stand side-by-side for a rifle salute to the crowd.

 

Though the re-enactment lasted only about 40 minutes, the aftermath of the real war still resonates with people today.

 

http://www.gainesville.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=GS&Date=20150815&Category=MULTIMEDIA0301&ArtNo=815009999&Ref=PH&Item=19&NewTbl=1&Maxw=603&MaxH=452&q=90Spectator John Morgan, from DeLand, is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He was joined Saturday by several other members of the group.

 

Morgan, who referred to the Civil War as “The War of Northern Aggression,” maintained that it really was about state's rights.

 

Brad Norwood, a Union re-enactor from Ocala, shared his views on why the Southern narrative of the war has survived to this day, and why discussion of the war still brings controversy.

 

Passions also still run high because the war affected so many people in the country on such a large scale, he said.

 

Nearly everyone has ancestors who fought on one or both sides, and there are areas all over the country that hosted battlefields. It affected Americans on a very personal level, he said.

 

http://www.gainesville.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=GS&Date=20150815&Category=MULTIMEDIA0301&ArtNo=815009999&Ref=PH&Item=11&NewTbl=1&Maxw=603&MaxH=452&q=90Keith Van Leuven said the descendants of those who were affected hold onto their family's narrative of the conflict.

 

Norwood continued, emphasizing how the war failed to resolve many philosophical and cultural differences.

 

There is still a divide between the North and the South, and things like state's rights are still an issue for many people, he said.

 

“People think the Civil War is a settled issue,” Norwood said, “but the truth is, we're still dealing with echoes of the issues that drove it.”

 

 

 

 

 

Blast from the Past (2006)

Sent in by Justin Burdge

8th Fl. Co. C.

 

I am sure glad me and the big

guy are on the same team!

 

 

 

 

Special Message

Chuck Veit

President, Navy & Marine Living History Association

http://www.navyandmarine.org/specialmessage.htm

 

NMLHA was founded to support and further the efforts of its member units to portray the naval aspect of America’s past. As such, no political role was ever envisioned for the organization. However, the increasing controversy over the display of the Confederate flag moved me to feel that some form of policy statement is required. While Confederate Civil War reenactors suffer the greatest burden in this argument, the issue touches each and every one of us within NMLHA and across the country.

 

The question does not come down to "that flag", which is a symbol of differing and strong emotions to various people. Instead, I believe the issue is our inability as a nation to allow the wounds of the Civil War to heal.

 

I wrote the following letter to "American Heritage" magazine in response to an article in their July/August issue, entitled "That Flag". There was nothing inflammatory about the piece; it was just another in a long line of well-researched, highly detailed discussions of the causes of the War and what the flag meant (and means) to Americans. The article settled no issue, laid forth no realistic plan for resolution, and left me wondering why it had been written.

 

When I submitted my letter to American Heritage, I did so as a private individual with no mention of NMLHA. In consultation with the other executive officers of NMLHA, it was decided that the sentiments -- and solutions -- expressed in the letter merit wider distribution and accreditation to our organization. It has since been submitted to a number of reenacting monthlies and forums.  Please read the letter carefully and share your reactions with me; I value your opinions. Thank you.

 

Regards,

 

Chuck Veit

President, Navy & Marine Living History Association

 

The current controversy over display of the Confederate battle flag in public forums and at reenactments represents only a symptom of a larger issue. Discussing this specific argument sidesteps the underlying conflict and ensures a return to some other facet of the battle in future. We are all missing the forest for the trees; it is time that we addressed the larger problem and stop haggling over sideshows.

 

As is typical of almost all research that tries to explain "that flag", slavery, the Civil War or our modern perceptions thereof, great detail is lavished upon the "why's & wherefore's" of period politics, falling prey to the fallacy that, if we could just explain everything all at once, then everyone would understand and agree. This is a black hole formed in 1865 from which there has been no escape since.

 

The root issue is not the use of the Confederate battle flag as an emblem representative of all the citizens of South Carolina. Similarly, discussion of whether the war was fought over slavery or "States' Rights" is as futile today as it was in the antebellum period. Southerners most certainly did go to war over "States' Rights" -- which included the right to own slaves. "States' Rights" were cited in Southerners' complaints against Northerners trying to dictate treatment of the Cherokee people in Georgia -- which had nothing to do with slavery. Many fought simply because they did not like a distant Federal government telling them what to do. The sad truth few people want to admit is that, while the destruction of slavery became a war aim, "Free the Slaves!" was not the rallying cry that drew Yankee boys to the colors in 1861. The vast majority of white Northerners, although shocked by tales such as "Uncle Tom's Cabin", never doubted their superiority to blacks, and joined to preserve the Union. This sentiment crops up in countless diaries and letters home. Only in abolitionist circles was the war perceived from its start as battle to emancipate the slaves. I think that we have trouble accepting this part of our history when nowadays we send our troops overseas to prevent racial genocide.

 

Coming to terms with such uncomfortable truths is difficult, and there are a number of cold hard facts about slavery and the Civil War that we deny or try to explain away. One such reality is best explained by author Robert Penn Warren in his Pulitzer Prize winning work, "The Legacy of the Civil War." Warren suggested that Northerners brought home what he terms the "Treasury of Virtue" as a result of their victory -- a perception of history that turned the conflict into a holy crusade and the boys in blue to knights errant who had preserved the Union and freed a people in bondage. The glory that accrued to the North served to mask the dark role they and their ancestors had played in the slave trade -- and the fact that the only reason it died out in the North was that the practice wasn't profitable. The "Treasury of Virtue" has allowed Northerners for over a century to remind Southerners that "we" were right and "they" were wrong. I suggest instead that the blame cannot be laid on the doorstep of "the South" alone. Recall that the institution of slavery was practiced much longer under the stars and stripes than under the bonny blue flag.

 

Another such reality is the true nature of the war itself. Our perceptions of the Civil War are formed by reports of the great battles, the grand armies, and strategies of generals. But the reality for people of the time included bloody internecine guerilla warfare, surprise raids by Rebel cavalry or Union gunboats or the bands of lawless marauders that sprung up between the lines, and, at the time of the draft riots in New York City, lynching and shooting of deserters in the streets. A favorite photograph that graced many a Northern parlor showed, not the serried ranks of valiant Union troops, but the figure of a dead Rebel boy, his body shattered by an artillery shell, blood congealed as it ran down his cheek. There is nothing romantic about the Civil War and the humorous-sounding phrase used by Sherman to describe his plan to "make Georgia howl" hides the reality of "total war" that shocked European observers. Because the war was fought almost entirely in the South, Southern Americans suffered its ravages far more than Northerners. Both at the time and ever since, it is undeniable that most people believed "they got what they deserved" and we have never let our countrymen in the South forget it. By doing so, we have burdened a segment of our own population with the blame for an evil which the entire country fostered and profited by.

 

I do not mean this as an apologia for the Old South. My point is simply that this most terrible of wars was not the "glorious" event we like to make of it nowadays, and that racial prejudices in the antebellum period were evenly distributed across the country. No American -- North or South -- should feel pride that our nation freed the slaves in the 1863; instead we should feel ashamed that we allowed the institution to take root in the first place. When we "glory" in the bravery of Pickett's men or read of Chamberlain's "heroic" stand on Little Round Top, it should be with an overwhelming sadness that matters came to this. The only people who can justifiably lay claim to a heroism untainted by slavery are the colored soldiers and sailors who fought to free themselves and their families.

 

Humanity has struggled with the problem of prejudice since the dawn of time, and in our own country the issue has been intensified by race -- and by the occurrence of the Civil War. For 135 years we have dissected and analyzed that war and the years before it in hopes of explaining the insanity, the injustice, and the results in a way that will resolve such a dark past to the satisfaction of everyone. It is time to admit that it cannot be done by this means.

 

Instead I would suggest an evolution in our perception. This is not revisionist history -- which I find anathema -- but a conscious decision to divorce ourselves from the entanglements of our history. In remembering and constantly citing the evils of the past, are we not falling prey to one of the very things that drove so many of our ancestors to come to these shores -- the inability to escape the weight of their national or tribal histories? Shall we allow ourselves to be so similarly burdened that scenes of Kosovo or Congo, with ethnic cleansing and racial genocide, foreshadow our own future? Are we so bound by history that we cannot choose to escape it?

 

What can we do on a practical level? In general, we should see the war in the largest context possible rather than focusing on it specifically, and admit where we as a nation made mistakes. For starters, we can acknowledge that, in lieu of a peaceful solution, the war was a necessary evil that rid our country of a greater evil, but that it punished the entire country -- it would take ten Vietnam Wall-sized memorials to list the slain from both sides. The only good that came out of the war was the destruction of slavery -- and as a nation we dropped the ball on that great advance when we allowed Jim Crow style laws to repress our black countrymen back into practical slavery. These laws were promulgated in the South, but were allowed to stay on the books without interference from the Federal government. While admitting this, we in the North can also try to understand why Southerners refer to the conflict as "The War of Northern Aggression": the destruction visited upon the cities of the South would be unrivaled until WWII, and many sections of the South did not recover their lost infrastructure for over a century. Of course they're bitter about the war -- it was their homes and families who suffered directly; Northerners have trouble understanding this because, while we lost family members in battle, our cities and towns, wives and mothers, were never seriously threatened.

 

We Northerners can also own up to our own role in the development of slavery and stop placing the entire blame upon the Old South -- there's plenty to go around. Southerners, for their part, can stop painting the "Old South" as such a wonderful place to live and pining for "the good old days" -- the lifestyle of the Southern aristocracy was based on slavery and if plantation life was "romantic", it was so for only a few individuals. The "South" as it was is not going to rise again -- it is a part of history. The majority of Southerners did not own slaves -- many disagreed vehemently with the practice -- and "States' Rights" is claimed as the cassus belli for all of Dixie; if this is so, then understand that the "Old South" represents something radically different (slavery) for large numbers of modern Americans who bridle at the notion of its return. If you get past the surface romanticism and the myths that have grown up since 1865, research will probably convince you that you don't want it back either. Modern African-Americans have an equally difficult challenge, but one that may have the simplest practical solution: learn your history. Learn about slavery, but also learn about the thousands of men who served in the colored regiments during the war, who fought prejudice on both sides and nonetheless rose to free their race. Why are there not more African-American Civil War reenactors? If the goal of reenacting is to portray historical reality, then fully one third of any Union Army should be black, yet is unusual to see more than a handful of African-Americans taking part. The Civil War represents the darkest part of American history for modern African-Americans -- but in that heart of darkness is this incredibly bright spot that is almost totally ignored. You are letting other people demonstrate history and, by your absence, removing yourselves from it. Learn and take part. Learn about the USCT regiments, the contributions of African-Americans to Union intelligence, the raids led by Harriet Tubman -- and learn that there were episodes when Americans black and white worked together: Yankee Navy crews were integrated before and during the war, with some ships crewed mostly or totally by African-Americans, and the Army-Navy units that Tubman led to free slaves were comprised of blacks and whites -- both in blue. Learn also about the black soldiers, sailors, and Marines who fought for the Confederacy, and appreciate the fact that this most confusing of periods, that shaped us an American people, can only be understood by studying all of the details and sharing all of the pain. This is the forest that we miss by studying the trees in such detail: admitting and understanding that we as a nation and as a people suffered.

 

 

 

 

  My Thoughts 

By Hamilton McElroy

webmaster@floridareenactorsonline.com

 

 

Recently, it seems as though the world has gone insane.  I have thought long and hard about whether or not to write something, what to write, and how to write it.  The consideration to weigh in on this subject has been long standing.  So much print has already been devoted to the subject of Southernphobia that I wondered if I really had anything to contribute.  My purpose in writing this has evolved over the various revisions.  At one point, I realized I was “preaching to the choir.”  That’s when I realized that what I had to say was for the general public, who remain woefully uneducated on the American Civil War/War Between the States.  Instead, I now try to write to all the stirring emotions that are swirling among the reenactors.  The genocide of Southern Heritage has to be stopped, but the question I am repeatedly asked is, “What can I do about it?”

 

It seems that opportunists want nothing more than to take the various symbols of Southern pride and turn them into symbols of hatred. The Confederate Battle Flag and Monuments mean many things to many people. For some misguided individuals, they are symbols of bigotry and hatred because of past usage by hate groups.  For others, they are merely representations of the geographical area in which they grew up.  In other words, home.  For others still, they symbolize the bravery and courage of ancestors who were fighting for their beliefs and the rights of states to govern themselves...an attempt at freedom from an oppressive central government who wanted to impose its will through coercion.  Lt. Col. Mitch Price of the 4th Brigade Medical Corp says, “A flag can be a symbol of strong alliances, deep and emotional convictions and represent personal feelings.”  When speaking of the Confederate Battle flag, Lt. Col. Price continues by saying, “To some it represents rebellion, a break from the establishment, a free spirit or rogue.  To others it is indicative of Southern pride or heritage, a tribute to a brave yet defeated army.  Because of a few other people or groups, it is looked upon by some as an undesirable symbol.  It depends on an individual’s point of view on its true meaning.”

 

http://media.breitbart.com/media/2015/06/charleston-sc-confederate-monument-vandalized-black-lives-matter-AP.jpgMany of those who attack it and our monuments do not truly care about these things.  I feel they are just using it to attack the South – one of the last bastions of Christian conservatism left in America – which many of them hail as being the evil oppressors to their agenda.  Many of them tout freedom, unless you disagree with them.  I have to echo Charlie Daniels, whose eloquent manner I could never hope to match.  He said, “The Confederate battle flag was a sign of defiance, a sign of pride, a declaration of a geographical area that you were proud to be from.  I can’t speak for all, but I know in my heart that most Southerners feel the same way. I have no desire to reinstate the Confederacy. I oppose slavery as vehemently as any man, and I believe that every human being, regardless of the color of their skin, is just as valuable as I am and deserves the exact same rights and advantages as I do. God created all mankind, and made everyone to be equal.  Unfortunately, the Confederate battle flag has been adopted by hate groups – and individuals like Dylann Roof – to supposedly represent them and their hateful view of the races.  Please believe me when I say that, to the overwhelming majority of Southerners, the flag represents no such thing, but is simply a banner denoting an area of the nation and one's pride in living there.  I hold no ill feelings and have no axes to grind with my brothers and sisters of any color. The same God made us; the same God will judge us; and I pray that He will intervene in the deep racial divide we have in this nation and make each person – black or white – see each other for what we truly are, human beings.”

 

Many people find themselves asking, “Again, what can I do about it?  There are MANY things people of all backgrounds can do to stand up for their beliefs.  As reenactors, one of the most important things we could all do is try to attend as many events as possible.  For many people, me included, one event a month is the most we can do.  There are others who don’t do that many.  If financial situations are tight, try car-pooling or forming a mess for the weekend.  These things cut down on costs, build comradery, and increase event turnout.  If your town, or a town near you, has a festival or rally of sorts, see about joining the parade or opening a recruiting/informational booth.  Write to us and let us know when these festivals are, and we can work together to get participation from both sides, Blue and Gray.  Working together to get the true history out to the public is the only thing that will truly make a difference.  Let people know they are not alone in their feelings about their Southern Heritage.

 

Another thing I HIGHLY recommend is joining organizations that fight such elimination of Southern Heritage.  Join the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), Daughters of the Confederacy, or Sons of Union Veterans.  Their political lobbies work on those who make these decisions, which is something that can be VERY powerful in preserving our history.  If you are already a member, encourage your group to become more vocal and more active in the fight to defend the heritage.  Try to volunteer at your local historical society or landmarks.  If there aren’t any reenactments, historical events, socities, landmarks or rallies in your area, consider organizing one.  Excuses are a dime a dozen, but only by everyone doing their part can we make a difference.

 

My next suggestion is an easy one, albeit an unpopular one….call your politicians…ALL of them.  Start with your local town council (attending meetings would be better).  Talk to them about what you would like to see preserved.  Don’t forget your county commissioners.  Call your state representatives and governor.  Then, call your Congressmen and encourage them to get involved in historical preservation.  Politely remind them that elections are coming up again.  Then, call your neighbors, friends & family and encourage them to call as well.  Only by flooding these people with the power of public opinion can a real change happen.  (See below for websites and phone numbers)

 

Last but not least, get off your ass and vote (pardon my French)!!  A very dear family member of mine said to me a couple of months ago, “we have done this to ourselves.”  When I asked what she meant, she said the number of people who don’t vote is astounding.  Those who are voting don’t hold with our beliefs.  Therefore, they are voting in the candidates they like who are approving these politically correct policies that we don’t like.  I did a bit of research, and I didn’t like what I saw. 

 

Here are the average voter turnouts for the past few years:

·        National elections (presidential year):  50-60%

·        National elections (non-presidential):  40%

·        State elections (2014 GA & FL avg):  40%

·        Local elections (National avg):  21%

 

When you allow others to elect your leaders for you, you get what you deserve.  Voting is not just a right, it is our civic duty.  There are too many ill-informed people doing the voting, and their ill-informed candidates are winning.  So, I’ll say it again, get off your ass and go vote!!!

 

In closing, I’d like to take a moment to add a word of caution.  Seeking news from a single source is foolish.  Worse yet is seeking news from social media.  So many people respond to the sensationalism – which tend to be rumor or conjecture at best and downright lies at worst – with anger and quick words.  I will admit that I have been guilty of such actions.  I urge everyone to guard against these knee-jerk reactions.  A prime example of this is a recent article that quickly circulated through the ranks of Facebook.  I speak of none other than the Brooksville Raid event.  While this was obviously a satirical piece of journalism, there were still those who gave it credence.  In the article, the author wrote saying that the Brooksville event would now be sponsored by the local Shoney’s restaurant (there isn’t a local Shoney’s anywhere near the event).  However, their conditions for sponsorship was that the Confederate Battle Flag could not be flown anywhere at the event.  Instead, the Shoney’s flag was to be flown by the Confederates, and it was to be carried by the Shoney’s bear mascot. 

 

http://springhillcourier.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/shoneys.jpgMakes you laugh just reading that, doesn’t it?  However, my email quickly began to fill with requests wanting to know if it was true or not.  Most people just wanted to know if the Confederate Battle Flag was going to be forbidden.  Bob Burnett, Sutler Coordinator for the Brooksville Raid Committee, was kind enough to respond to my inquiries saying, “We want to assure you that the article concerning the flag and Shoney's sponsorship is 100% FALSE!”  He continues by saying, “We would like to let our reenactors know that for this 2016 season, we will continue to hold up the highest form of authenticity and safety for their enjoyment at this event as we possibly can so everyone can have a correct Civil War experience for the reenactors and the spectators.”

 

 

So, what are we going to do about it?  We are going to contact the powers-that-be and tell them what we think.  We are going to attend various types of events and try to educate the public at every opportunity.  We are going to join with others, either via organizations or societies, and continue to share the true history.  We are going to become better stewards with our God-given right to vote.  Most importantly, we are going to encourage others to do the same as well.  Right?  See you on the battlefield!

 

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Contact your US Congressman:  http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

Contact your State Representatives:  http://openstates.org/

Contact your Governor:  https://www.usa.gov/state-governor

            GA – Gov. Nathan Deal: (404) 656-1776

            FL – Gov. Rick Scott:  (850) 488-7146

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Resources

 

"FairVote.org | Voter Turnout." FairVote.org. The Center for Voting and Democracy, 2014.

 

MACIAG, MIKE. "Voter Turnout Plummeting in Local Elections." Voter Turnout Plummeting in Local Elections. Governing.com, 1 Oct. 2014. Web. Retrieved on 19 Aug. 2015 from http://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-voter-turnout-municipal-elections.html.

 

McDonald, Michael. "Voter Turnout Data - United States Elections Project." Voter Turnout Data - United States Elections Project. UF - Department of Political Science, 2014.

 

 

 

Shot Towers – Part 1

By Ralph Epifanio
ralphoto@att.net

 

One of the hurdles to an accurate portrayal of a 19th century figure is language. Although many words have retained their meaning—in fact may be far older than one might expect—the meaning of some terms have changed considerably.

 

Take the word car, which is short for carriage, and trunk, which originally was something you tied onto the back of a carriage.  Both these words were in existence at the time of the Civil War. Now, of course, car refers to a “horseless carriage,” and a trunk is a storage place built into the rear of this vehicle.

 

Plumber, too, is a term which has been around for a very long time. One has to wonder what use it would have had in the time of wells, “outhouses,” “dry sinks,” and bath water heated in buckets over a fireplace? Although the answer is simple, it might surprise you; over time the word followed water into—and out of--our homes, figuratively, through lead pipes.

 

If you had a periodic table of the elements handy—I keep mine behind a secret panel in my study, on a shelf above my Jordan (another name for a chamber pot)—you would find that the symbol for lead is Pb, which is an abbreviation of its Latin name, plumbum. If you investigate further, you will learn that the Romans were the largest pre-industrial users of this common, soft, malleable (able to be bent, twisted, and flattened), ductile (able to be drawn into wires), bluish-white, heavy (as in atomic structure) metal with an atomic weight of 82. All this means that it is easy to find, and easy to work with. It is estimated that, each year, the Romans mined approximately 80,000 metric tons (a metric ton is 2,200 pounds) of it, and with it, they made endless miles of water pipes.

 

The Romans simply loved water with minerals in it. When they found natural springs, they would build underground tunnels, and above ground aqueducts, to carry it into their cities. Once there, the water was channeled into lead pipes for further distribution.  Horrors, you might think; isn’t lead poisonous? Whether by accident or design, they discovered that spring water had dissolved minerals in it, which coated the inside of lead pipes with calcium carbonate at a rate of 1 mm per year. This sealed off the metal, thus protecting their citizens from plumbarii, or lead poisoning.

 

By 1860 there were no Roman plumbers left, but their name survived as “one who works with lead.” 

 

In 17th through 19th century America, a plumber could be found plumbing—making objects with rolled sheets of lead--in every large town in America. However, by the end of the Civil War, one of his main industries, that is making lead shot and lead balls (for guns), was rapidly being absorbed into the industrial revolution that was sweeping through his world. That revolution was the result of precision machines, which supplied a rapidly growing society with an insatiable hunger for inexpensive, machine-perfect products.

 

Slowly but surely, what was once a common sight on the American landscape began disappearing even faster than the towns’ blacksmiths’ forges. That landmark was the shot tower. From the late 1700s right through the Civil War, these ingenious structures had produced untold tons of lead shot, of various diameters, for firearms of all kinds. They supplied our armies during the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, and the various Indian Wars, not to mention millions of hunters.

 

A shot tower is a hollow, usually conical, tapering structure—anywhere from 150 to 250 feet high, with an interior staircase and a mechanical apparatus to lift raw materials to its apex.  From the outside, it looks like an unattached, overly large smoke stack. In the inside, it has a spiraling staircase like that of a lighthouse. At several points, platforms are attached to the side walls. It was, in fact, a factory for making large quantities of lead balls.

 

The process was the simple, yet ingenious brainchild of one William Watts,  who, in around 1782, used basic physics—and an addition to his house—to perfect the process at Bristol, England. 

 

In the American process, lead was melted over a small brick furnace, mixed with arsenic, and poured through perforated copper pans that allowed the molten lead to leak through. As they fell downward through the cool air of a shot tower’s interior, the molten lead would harden into almost perfectly round balls, eventually landing in a vat of water at the bottom of the tower. The water would simultaneously break the fall of the soft lead—so it would not flatten--and further cool it.

 

Attendants would then scoop the shot out, and shovel it into long, concave trays leading to wooden drawers. The round ones would roll all the way into a box at the end of the tray, but imperfect shot would wobble out of the tray and into boxes located on each side.

 

Next, the good shot would be placed in a barrel-like container (much like a miniature cement mixer), graphite would then be added, and the newly made shot tumbled smooth.  Imperfect shot would be re-melted, added to the next batch of molten lead, and the procedure would start all over again.

 

Usually, different-sized shot was the result of pouring molten lead through different sized sieves, then dropped from varying heights; larger shot was dropped from a greater height (giving it more time in the air in order to cool), smaller shot from a lower level. Through this process, lead balls from buckshot to musket balls could be mass manufactured.

 

Although not many, there are still shot towers in this country. Included among those still standing (on American soil) are the Dubuque, Iowa shot tower; the Remington Shot Tower in Bridgeport, Connecticut; the Phoenix Shot Tower in Baltimore, Maryland; the Rossie, New York Shot Tower; the Sparks Shot Tower, in South Philadelphia, and the Tower Hill Shot Tower in Helena, Wisconsin.

 

One that I observed and photographed is called the Jackson Ferry Shot Tower, and is located in Wythe County, Virginia.

 

This tower is somewhat unique among its genre. First of all, it is built on a cliff overlooking the New River. Because it is on a hillside, the tower—built of local limestone--is only 75 feet tall on the outside, but a shaft (another) 75 feet was built into the hill, the interior being a total of 150 feet tall. The limestone skin, which is 2 ½ feet thick, helps keep the interior cool, aiding in the process.

 

Records indicate that it was begun shortly after the Revolutionary War, and fully completed—in its current form--in 1807. Newspaper accounts suggest that it was fully operational by (at least) 1791.

 

The primary reason for its location—besides the cliff—were the nearby lead mines. They were first opened by Colonel John Chiswell, and are alternately referred to as the Chiswell, or Welsh mines.  Fort Chiswell was also located nearby, to protect this valuable commodity.

 

Prior to the first War for Independence, lead was imported from England. However, once that source was no longer available, these mines helped to solve the problem of a serious lead shortage that existed throughout the colonies. Some places solved theirs by melting statues of King George, others by “looking to the mountains.”

 

This shot tower, and the nearby Jackson home, is located in extreme western Virginia--about half way between West Virginia and North Carolina. The area is rich in minerals, as is evidenced in the names of local geographic features, such as Hematite Mt. (hematite is an iron [III] oxide), and towns like Galena (the most common form of lead [II] sulfide). This historic landmark can be reached by exiting Interstate 77 at the historic sign pointing to “Shot Tower State Park,” and following 52 for about a mile.  On weekends with favorable weather, you’ll pass a flea market that I found to be an interesting source of Civil War-era antiques. So, if you’re ever up that way, or driving past one of the aforementioned historical sites, leave a little time for a quick side trip. I promise that you’ll have a ball.

 

 

Next Issue - Part 2: The Sparks Shot Tower in Philedelphia

 

 

 

 

TRIBUTE TO THE UNKNOWN SOLDIERS
THE UNKNOWN
John Vaughn

Co. B. 2nd SCVI

http://washington.mogenweb.org/cemetery/unkcw2.gif

 

I was walking through a graveyard one evening deep in thought

Reflecting on bravery of the soldiers buried there and the battles that they fought

 

As I wandered through the section set aside for the unknowns

The markers that surrounded me sent a sudden wave of sadness that cut me to the bone

 

Fearfully, I hurried up to exit from this garden made of stone

When suddenly I was confronted by a soldier, a mere boy from a time long gone

 

He was ragged and I feared him but I knew he meant me well

When he looked me directly in the eyes and his story he began to tell

 

I was listed as a soldier though my age just 16 years

When duty called I left my home amid family's pride and fears

 

Like soldiers twice my age I faced both shot and shell

At the Hornets Nest and Pickett's charge there thousands of us fell

 

As I lay wounded, dying on the field of that far distant land

In vain I called out for mother's face or caress from her gentle hand

 

At home my family waits and prays for that which can never be

For their dear son who marched away, just once again to see

 

They knew not my name or from where I came so for me they placed a stone

That bore the single worded epitaph it simply said "unknown"

 

"Known but to god" is what they speak when my eulogy is read

But there was one who knew my name and prays I number not among the dead

 

But if fate deemed it so, she prays let her know of where her son might lay

Whether on battlefield or in church yard grave in that land so far away

 

She begs to know the resting place of one she held so dear

And upon it place a single rose dampened with a mothers tear

 

But the dead do not speak and I cannot tell of where I met my fate

And that stone will never tell of name or regiment or date

 

So forever silent will I lie here beneath that lonesome granite stone

That bears the single worded Epitaph it simply says: "Unknown"

 

With story told, he turned to go and leave me with my thoughts

But he spoke this time not just for himself but for the thousands who had fought

 

Does our homeland still remember us and the reasons that we bled

Even our names are never listed in the "roll call of the dead"

 

Are our children's children ever taught about why we gave our all

The cause that we stood for when duty and honor called

 

His final question saddened me as I saw a tear drop in his eye

A question I cannot answer or find reason with no matter how I try

 

I wonder if those who instigated this were finally satisfied

They played their insane politics and six hundred thousand died

 

I pray that there will never be any more who lie beneath the stone

That bears the single worded epitaph that simply says "unknown"

 

John Vaughn

Co. B., 2nd SCVI

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Butler: Part 5

By Ralph Epifanio

ralphoto@att.net

 

http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/petervick167/petervick1671301/petervick167130100228/17262605-engraving-of-union-major-general-benjamin-franklin-butler-november-5-1818-a--january-11-1893--an-ame.jpgDespite years of experience in the public eye as a husband, lawyer, politician, administrator, and general, one of Benjamin Butler’s greatest career failures—in all five categories simultaneously-- was the backlash resulting from a “flanking attack”  by the female population of the South.  Most notably, during his occupation of New Orleans, a public relations nightmare would explode into an national cause célèbre, hasten his retreat from military duty, transform his name into a derogatory term—Butlerize*— and result in his becoming persona non grata to half the country (and certainly couldn’t have helped when the then-Governor of Massachusetts made his 1884 run for the presidency).

 

Having spent his formative years in the North, Butler had little experience on the subject of southern belles. In truth, the “virtues” of a lady in the South guaranteed certain “privileges” that someone of her class expected, and got. The woman of breeding was put on a pedestal, toward which her world looked on in admiration. She was excused from certain obligations, including minor legal offenses. This was especially true if she was young and attractive. Take one example from the book Women of the South in War Times (Matthew Page Andrews, the Norman, Remington Co., 1920):

 

http://s2.hubimg.com/u/8576831_f520.jpg“Miss Hattie Cary”—Hetty Cary, the Maryland patriot who created the first of three Confederate battle flags—“was afterwards described as the most beautiful woman she had ever met. ‘Her hair,’ wrote Mrs. Wright, ‘was titian tinted; her complexion was lilies and roses; and her figure magnificent.’ In Baltimore she had been arrested and imprisoned at Fort McHenry for wearing Confederate colors,—in the form of a white apron with red ribbons. This arrest was under the rule of General B.F. Butler. On another occasion, however, she stood at the open window of her home and waved the Confederate flag over the heads of some Federal troops. One of the officers asked the Colonel in command if he should have her arrested. The Colonel looked up and replied with marked emphasis: ‘No, she is beautiful enough to do as she ----pleases!’” (Page 69)

 

Taken in total, Andrews’ seminal work--published 55 years subsequent to the war’s conclusion—is a treasury of the hopes, fears, contributions, and sacrifices of the women of the South during The Rebellion. Through journals and other first-hand accounts, it paints a vivid picture of the southern home front.  And, unfortunately for Butler, it leaves little doubt that he was the most reviled officer in the Union army:

 

“There is a difference even among devils, it seems, as some of (General) Banks’ people”—who replaced Butler in New Orleans—“ do try to be kind to us, while Butler’s were just the reverse….Under men of Butler’s type, it became increasingly difficult for Northern officers of the best intentions and social instincts to show kindness to Southern ‘rebels’.”  (Andrews, pages 358-9)

 

* Here Andrews is quoting a Miss Sarah Fowler Morgan, a young girl of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, from her journal entry of May 17, 1862: “A new proclamation from Butler has just come. It seems that the ladies have an ugly way of gathering their skirts when the Federals pass, to avoid any possible contact. Some even turn up their noses. Unladylike, to say the least….Butler says, whereas the so-called ladies of New Orleans insult his men and officers, he gives one and all permission to insult any and all who treat them, then and there, with the assurance that the women will not receive the slightest protection from the Government, and the men will all be justified….These men our brothers? Not mine! Let us hope for the honor of their nation that Butler is not counted among the gentlemen of the land. And so, if any man should fancy he cared to kiss me, he could do so under the pretext that I had pulled my dress from under his feet! That will justify them! Come to my bosom, O my discarded carving-knife, laid aside under the impression that these men were gentlemen. We will be close friends once more. And if you must have a sheath, perhaps I may find one for you in the heart of the first man who attempts to Butlerize me (emphasis mine).  (Pages 346-348)

 

Taking New Orleans

When General Butler and his troops disembarked on the first of May, 1862, they did so at dusk:

 

When troops are taking possession of a city where there is possibility of assault by a mob, it is always best that it should be done in the dark. The general then knows where his troops are, and how many of them there are, while the mob can have no concerted action, and are not able to organize any in the dark. If your column is fired upon from the houses, the flash will show every window from which the missiles come, and those windows can instantly be filled with returning bullets. Furthermore, the column, unless it is too long, can be protected in the street better in the dark than in the daylight.” (Pages 373-4)

 

Butler took over the Custom House**--“an immense granite building covering some acres and making a complete citadel”--where his troops were stationed, and established the Federal command at the huge St. Charles Hotel.

 

Butler solved a lack of cooperation by a New Orleans Newspaper (True Delta) by suspending its operations; when a haberdashery’s owner would not sell a Union officer a pair of boots, he closed the store and auctioned off its merchandise; and when city officials refused to intercede in street violence, he—in their presence--offered this solution:

 

Give my compliments to General Williams, and tell him to clear the streets at once with his artillery.” (Page 375)

 

The officials quickly changed their minds, though their appeals to the street ruffians were ignored. The mob, however, was quickly dispersed by the onrushing Sixth Maine battery. Butler, of course, was proud of himself:

 

From that hour to the time I left New Orleans I never saw occasion to move man or horse because of a mob in the streets of the city.” (Page 377)

 

** One of the most lucrative positions in the 19th century of the

US Government was that of the director of the various custom houses,

where tariffs were collected on shipping.

 

Meanwhile, he attempted to open the port of New Orleans to commerce. First, he tried to calm fears that the occupiers would confiscate planters’ crops with his General Order Number 22, which, in short, gave his guarantee to the safety of ships to and from New Orleans, if:

 

“…all cargoes of cotton and sugar shall receive safe conduct…and the boats bringing them may be allowed to return in safety…provided they bring no passengers, except the owners and the merchandise of said boats and the property so conveyed, and no other merchandise except provisions, which such boats are requested to bring a full supply of for the benefit of the poor of the city.” (Page 383)

 

By 1862, cotton and sugar were in high demand, but due to the war, in short supply.  President Jefferson Davis had, in May, 1861—as part of his “King Cotton Diplomacy”--ordered the burning of 2.5 million bales of cotton to create a cotton shortage. Davis, a Mississippi planter himself, hoped that this might force the European governments, most notably France and Great Britain, to end their neutrality. In part, it did, as their ports in the Caribbean took in regular shipments of cotton that blockade runners—at up to 500% profit—brought in. Keep in mind that the cotton industry of the mid-19th century was as big an economic factor as oil is today. (Source: Cotton and the Civil War, by Eugene R. Dattel, Mississippi History Now; http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/291/cotton-and-the-civil-war.)

 

I was very much puzzled to know whether this policy of burning the crops was that of the rebel government or an insane wretch, one Thomas O. Moore, governor of Louisiana and commander-in chief of its militia., who issued some crazy orders once as to hanging instantly without trial any person who should be found to have my pass in his possession….Upon examination I now find the evidence conclusive that this burning of the crops was a premeditated and preconceived design of the rebels, pervading the congress and the executive.” (Page 385)

 

Author Eugene Dattel, in his article Cotton and the Civil War, puts it in perspective:

 

Cotton could be purchased for as little as 12 to 20 cents a pound, transported to New York for 4 cents a pound, and sold for up to $1.89 a pound. One observer noted that the ‘mania for sudden fortunes in cotton’ meant that ‘Every [Union] colonel, captain, or quartermaster is in secret partnership with some operator in cotton.’ The lure of cotton wealth would entice white Northern civilians and Union soldiers south during and after the war.”

 

Butler was a complex and highly intelligent man who spun a web of intrigue around everything that gained his interest. In practice, what he did was enter into partnership with the planters who agreed to cooperate, using his position to ship these highly sought after crops north.

 

So I opened a credit with Mr. Jacob Barker, a banker, who upon pledge of the supplies purchased, advanced money”--$60,000—“on my purchases.” (Page 383)

 

http://amhistory.si.edu/onthewater/assets/graphic/full/5094.jpgSince Federal transport ships were full on the way going to New Orleans, but scheduled to return empty on their way back North, they would need ballast to keep the top-heavy masted and armor-plated ships on keel. Butler explains that “there was nothing to be found in New Orleans with which to ballast a ship,” so, for that purpose he procured “church bells and some old rejected guns.” He then filled the ships with cotton and sugar, and shipped them to his brother in New York.

 

I agreed to and established the freight at ten dollars a hogshead. One half of this was his commission for doing the business, he not being an officer of the government.”  (Page 384)

 

Butler continues:

 

Nothing could have done as much for the pacification of the merchants of New Orleans as did these transactions”--no doubt, considering the alternatives, but—“Some of the northern journals of that day will show articles which would have deterred a fainter-hearted man than myself from continuing. Yet I got all my ships off with just enough freight for ballast.” (Page 384)

 

Taken at face value, it was far, far better than the confiscation or burning of valuable commodities as contraband, which was in general practice by Union forces at this time. The Confederacy, too, burned its share, much to the chagrin of the planters.

 

While this “business” was going on, Butler had, on his hands, a city of 150,000 (plus paroled Rebel soldiers).  Many of the less affluent were starving. It would seem that barrels of beef and flour that were earmarked for the poor of the city were being smuggled to the confederate army camped on its outskirts. Between confiscated supplies, and quantities of his army’s own food—flour and salt meats (sold respectively for 7 ½ and 10 cents per pound)—he was feeding 32,400 men, women and children, for which the recipients paid with “city bank notes, gold, silver, or treasury notes.” (Page 394)

 

Butler’s next skirmish was with pestilence.

 

I had learned that the rebels were actually relying upon the yellow fever to clear out the Northern troops, the men of New England and the Northwest, with their fresh lips and clear complexions, whom they had learned from experience were usually the first victims of that scourge. I had heard also (I hope it was not true, but yet I believe it) that in the churches prayers were put up that the pestilence might come as a divine interposition on behalf of the brethren. Every means was taken to harass my naturally homesick officers and soldiers with dire accounts of the scourge of yellow fever.” (Page 396)

 

As to Rebel schemes, he affirmed it with the following communiqué from Major General Lovell to Louisiana Governor Thomas Moore:

 

“…my future course of action….confining the enemy to New Orleans, and thus subject him to the diseases incident to that city in summer.”—emphasis Butler’s (Page 397)

 

This was no idle wish. Yellow fever was one of the intermittent, but devastating plagues that had infected the western hemisphere, literally, for centuries. It is theorized to have arrived from West Africa as a result of the slave trade. New Orleans had frequent outbreaks, the worst having occurred less than ten years earlier.

 

In the year 1853, beginning August 1, excluding those that were not liable to have the yellow fever and those who had gone out from New Orleans for the summer, the population open to the disease was thirty thousand only. On the first week in August there were 909 deaths from yellow fever; on the second week, 1,282; on the third week, 1575, and on the fourth week, the deaths in one day, the 22nd of August, were 239; so that, from the 28th of May, there were 7,439 deaths by yellow fever. Many hundreds died away from the fever and up the river, and many on the steamers while attempting to get away. These figures do not include those who died in the suburbs, Algiers, Jefferson City, Aetna, and Carrolton. Thus, of 30,000 total, one in every four died.” (Pages 397-8)

 

Butler, no doubt, saw Yellow fever as the greatest threat facing his command. His first step was to “visit” with the problem.

 

“…I drove out in a calash with my wife one morning to take a look at the condition of the city and its suburbs….A little way up the river we came upon the “basin,” a broad opening or pond for the reception of canal boats. A canal extended from this point across to Lake Pontchartrain….the air seemed filled with the most noxious and offensive stenches possible,--so noxious as almost to take away the power of breathing. The whole surface of the canal and the pond was covered with a thick growth of vegetable scum, variegated with dead cats and dogs or the remains of dead mules on the banking. The sun shone excessively hot, and the thermometer might have been 120º.” (Page 395)

 

Butler called in the city engineer, who in explanation offered that, in hot weather, it always looked and smelled like that. He further irritated the general’s ire by admitting that it had never been cleaned because “I don’t know how.”

 

As stated in Part 1, his father—John Butler—died of yellow fever while in St. Kitts in the British Virgin Islands, earlier in the century. There was still no clue as to the exact cause of yellow fever, or its treatment, other than the observation that, once “acclimated,” the disease passed over those inhabitants. Butler, upon investigation, came to the following conclusions:

 

The fact that the disease flourished so much in the vicinity of decaying and putrid animal matter led me to the conclusion that this prolific cause of the typhus and typhoid fever must have something to do with el vomito (as it was then called). Upon my further diagnosis of the disease I found that it had also the peculiar characteristics of the congestive fevers caused by malarial exhalations from decaying vegetable matter. It seemed to me, as near as I could get at it, two intermingled or conjoint fevers affecting the patient’s system at the same time. Therefore I argued that if we could get rid of the producing causes of either one of those species of fever we might not have a yellow fever even if the people were subjected to the cause of the other fever.” (Page 400)

 

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTbzM1bhby1JeLxvX7CkLcTFCUJdLGFwN4dlus7iiPtxlc6OL0tThe volume of vegetable matter was, by Butler’s analysis, impossible to completely eliminate, so he instead focused on animal matter.  He had a three-pronged approach: (1) he stopped all incoming and outgoing vessels (both north and south of the city), had them inspected for infected passengers, and quarantined those that came from infected ports; (2) he hired 2,000 unemployed men--issued tools, army rations, and paid them fifty cents for a ten hour day--and had them clean streets, drains, and canals; (3) he issued orders for every house to be cleaned, whitewashed, and free of refuse (especially collected human waste). In the case of the latter, his representative, Colonel T. B. Thorpe, was described as having had to resort to rather draconian methods of forcing residents to comply.

 

Nature helped.  New Orleans was regularly “flushed” by regular downpours, and “northers,” or winds that pushed debris accumulating in canals out towards the Gulf. So through a combination of tactics, Butler was able to minimize the effects of this seasonal disease.

 

Although not scientific, either in his approach or reporting of his results, Butler was content that he did all he could to relieve a potentially deadly outbreak during his tenure in New Orleans.

 

I do not pretend that in all that was done by my order in New Orleans exactly proper surgical and medical courses were taken. I do not mean to say that I used anywhere nearly correct and proper surgical and medical practice in my treatment of the disease. And I do not attempt to defend it either, as the best way of dealing with the yellow fever. Far be that from me. I only did what was the best thing I could find to do when I was obliged to do something.” (Page 410)

 

It is a matter of historical record that it would be decades before Drs. Carlos Finlay and Walter Reed linked yellow fever to its transmission from mosquito bites (primarily Aedes aegypti). Modern vector control, however, is not unlike Butler’s plan in that summer in 1862 New Orleans. We still view removing standing water, especially that contaminated by modern refuse and the age-old problem of human waste, as the single most important preventative method.

 

Hell Hath No Fury

Although attributed to playwright William Congreve (1670-1729)—“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” (sic)--it would seem that Benjamin F. Butler found himself in a corner of that hell during his tenure in the Crescent City. He found force the best way to handle the men of New Orleans, but apparently that didn’t work on the fairer sex.

 

From the second day after we landed, we had the men of New Orleans so completely under our control that our officers and soldiers could go anywhere in the city without being interfered with….But not so with the women of New Orleans….Pretty soon, complaints of treatment from women of all states and conditions and degrees in life came pouring in upon me.” (Page 414-15)

 

Most of the actions involved, as previously stated by Sarah Fowler Morgan, “It seems that the ladies have an ugly way of gathering their skirts when the Federals pass, to avoid any possible contact.”  This was generally followed by a gesture of disgust, in one form or another. The acts occurred in greater frequency in the presence of officers, rather than soldiers, either perhaps because of their self-control, or lack thereof by the common soldier. An example:

 

There were five or six women leaning over a balcony…when I was riding along quite near it….Just as we were passing the balcony, with something between a shriek and a sneer, the women all whirled around back with a flirt and threw out their skirts in a regular circle like the pirouette of a dancer. I turned around to my aid, saying in full voice: ‘These women evidently know which end of them looks the best.’ That closed that exhibition.’” (Page 416)

 

Histrionics aside, it might also have closed the door on Butler’s chances of ever redeeming his dignity. Butler goes on to say that “many of these women who do this are young, and many are pretty and interesting.” 

 

I waited sometime in the hope that this epidemic among the women would die out. But it did not; it increased. At last, on one Saturday, Flag-Officer Farragut”—the hero and pride of the fleet that conquered not only New Orleans, but the entire Mississippi—“had been invited ashore by Colonel Deming, who was in command of the troops in the city….While going along one of the principle streets, there fell upon them….(what) proved to be the emptying of a vessel of water from the balcony above, and not very clean water at that. Of course the vessel was proof that this was done by one of ‘the ladies of New Orleans.’” (Page 417)

 

http://www.maine.gov/sos/arc/sesquicent/sourcdoc/sd%20files/butlerno.jpgMore followed: an officer on his way to church stepped aside to let two “ladies” pass, and one spit in his face.

 

As the problem intensified,  Butler speculated that arresting them would add fuel to the fire. And so, in the face of an apparently concerted effort to provoke a response, Butler—the lawyer—used a legal measure as a response.

 

“I remembered that for the purpose of a revision of city ordinances, I had once read an old English ordinance, which I thought, with a few changes, mutatis mutandis, might accomplish the purpose. There was one certain about it; it must be an order that would execute itself, otherwise it would stir up more strife in its execution by the police that it would quell. Therefore, after full consideration, I handed to my chief of staff, to be put upon the order books….General order No. 28, (May 15, 1862):

 

“As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insults from the women (calling themselves ladies) of New Orleans, in return for the most scrupulous non-interference and courtesy on our part, it is ordered that hereafter when any female shall, by word, gesture, or movement, insult or show contempt of any officer or soldier of the United States, she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation (meaning a prostitute).” (Page 418)

 

Butler himself reports the results:

 

There was no case of aggression after that order was issued, no case of insult by word or look against our officers or soldiers while in New Orleans. The order executed itself….All the ladies in New Orleans forebore to insult our troops because they didn’t want to be deemed common women, and all the common women forebore to insult our troops because they wanted to be deemed ladies.”  (Page 419)

 

Beyond New Orleans, however, it was quickly taken up as a campaign against its author. Beauregard read it to his troops in Corinth, Mississippi. Butler maintains that it led, not to incitement, but to the dissolution of his army, his subsequently being taken ill, and the resignation of his command.

 

In England, Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount of Palmerston (and twice British Prime Minister) denounced the order as “unfit to be written in the English language,” which—owing to its English origins—was (to use an English phrase)--“cheeky.”  To add further irony to his defense of the “ladies of the South,” Temple, having had numerous affairs during his life (thus labeled a “womanizer” himself), was labeled “Lord Cupid” by The Times newspaper. As an absentee landlord of Irish farmers, his actions—or lack thereof during the Great Famine—indirectly contributed recruits to both the Union and Confederate sides of the conflict in the subsequent diaspora. (see: The Victorian Web; http://www.victorianweb.org/history/pms/palmerst.html)

 

The unflappable Butler responded thus:

 

Palmerston’s indignation even went so far, and the women-beaters and wife-whippers of England were so shocked, that they called upon their government to represent their condemnation of the order to our State Department….On account of that order a reward of ten thousand dollars was offered for my head; and a gentle, soft-hearted little Southern lady published that she wanted to subscribe her mite to make the reward sixty thousand dollars, so that my head would surely be taken.” (Pages 420-21)

 

Sources

Butler’s Book, by Benjamin F. Butler (Published by A. M. Thayer & Co., Boston, 1892)

 

Cotton and the Civil War, by Eugene R. Dattel  (Mississippi History Now; http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/291/cotton-and-the-civil-war.)

 

The Victorian Web; http://www.victorianweb.org/history/pms/palmerst.html)

 

Next in the series:  Near war with France, and politics as usual, militarily speaking.

 

 

 

 

Gatherer or Scatterer

Captain John Butler, Chaplain Hardy’s Brigade

Inspired by God

Catman6375@msn.com

 

He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathers not with me scatters.” Luke 11:23

 

Christian, are you with Jesus? Are you standing in the light of his glory? Are you a gatherer or a scatterer? Are you one who would go out and speak the truth, or do you sit in your comfortable pews, while looking out the windows of your church saying, “I will just wait for the lost and the sinner to come to me for Jesus. Surely Jesus knows better than me who needs Him.”

 

No! Jesus wants you! Wants you to go forth and tell about Him! Those who do not know of Jesus, do not know that He can be found both in the church and as close as their own hearts. He came to the earth as a man, not to condemn, but to save.  He chose 12 men to teach: rangy fishermen, thieving tax collectors, and filthy publicans.  He chose from among the lowest of society so they could see the miracles, and by learning of Him become the greatest.  Scatterer or gatherer?  Will you obey the commission?

 

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20 (emphasis mine)

 

In the 1850s, America was being classified in two sides: Slave states of the south and Midwest, or Free states of the north and New England.  Some chose the side for States rights; some chose the side of the industrial North. They chose on bases of tradition, looks of strength, or numbers. That is not the way to choose! The side that had the most or looked the strongest are not the ones that typically win. There are reports of battles in which the outnumbered won against unmeasured odds. Jesus will use the weak to confound the strong, will use the foolish to confound the wise. The way to choose is the way with the truth that Jesus shares, for with Jesus He is made strong in our weakness.

 

Again, are you a scatterer or a gatherer? Will you be obedient?  Will you follow Gods direction? Will you give your all just as Jesus gave his all? Be a gatherer, be bold when talking about Jesus. Let us be about our Heavenly Father’s business.

 

“Wherein he had abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of will, according to his good pleasure which he had purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will.” Eph. 1:8-11

 

If this letter has made you want to walk closer with Jesus, to get to know Him, or if you have a burden you wish to pray about, please contact me.

 

 

 

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FOR SALE:  Attention Florida and Georgia Civil War Reenactors!! I am currently selling my Sergeants tent and I was letting everyone know. My family has gotten so big that this is no longer plausible due to its size. If you would like to buy it, just let me know ok? I am asking 350.00 for or best offer. These are the pictures. Tent is in GREAT condition with some very, very minor staining as you can see. No tears, molding, or fraying of any kind. Tent was purchased from Fall Creek. Tent stakes and uprights ARE NOT included. However, rope, upright pins, and side wall stakes are. The measurements for the center beam is 105" with the upright center poles at 67" Email me at Uscgguardian@yahoo.com or call 252-668-0024 if you would like to have it.  I do accept PayPal, money order, or cash.

 

Thanks

Matt

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