March 2016


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


·        March 4-6:  39th Annual Reenactment of the Battle of Natural Bridge, FL

·        March 11-13: Nature Coast Reenactment – Kirby Family Farm, Williston, FL

·        March 18-20: Battle at Narcoossee Mille, St. Cloud, FL


·        March 19: Cotillion at Gamble Mansion Historic State Park, Ellenton, FL**EVENT CANCELED**
It is with deep regret that we announce the cancellation of this event until further notice.  Thank you for your continued support.
- Mrs. Gail R. Jessee, President
  Gamble Plantation Preservation Alliance, Inc.
  Citizen Support Organization  

·        April 1-3: Saint Andrews Bay Salt Works Raid, Panama City, FL




Battle of Olustee


February 12-14

1st Lt. Noah Sprague, Cmding.

(From THE HOWLING DAWG, MARCH 2016 16th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company G News Letter)


The 16th Geo. Skirmish Line advances in good order at Olustee 2016  - Duty done well … Photo: Heidi Edge


The yearly pilgrimage to Olustee was special to me.  It always is, but this year, everything was perfect.  The only exception to this perfection was of course, those Dawgs that couldn't make the trip this year.  Anyone not making any event is always missed by those that do have the privilege to attend.  The good Lord blessed us with the nicest weather and temperature we have experienced at Olustee in quite a while.  


Lake City Parade, Saturday, February 13, 2016

Saturday morning's events started out as normal with a march to morning parade along with a touching memorial service for the late Colonel Don Bowman who had passed away.  It was odd not seeing him at Olustee after seeing him every year for so long.  We then boarded the bus to Lake City for the parade with about 20 soldiers.  The men of the unit once again represented the 16th Ga. to the highest degree, looking sharp on every wheel movement and staying in perfect step.  We were joined by members of our brother unit, the 39th Ga.  Joe and Yonah Johnson were and are always welcome in our ranks.  The afternoon brought a welcomed break in preparation for the Confederate memorial service.  It was an honor throughout the weekend to have Steve Smith and his son Steven Smith with us.  They have been missed greatly and it was special to me to be able to introduce my son to him.  I told him that Mr. Steve trained me when I was so young and now I'm training him.  The legacy of the 16th Ga. continues to be passed down. Steve spoke at the memorial service along with J.C.  Charles, Ethan, and Brick sang and Drew played taps to close out the service.  Once again, the names of the fallen Confederates at Olustee were read aloud and not forgotten.  After the service, some of us were able to attend the wedding of long-time 16th Ga. member, “Alabama” (Jerry Franklin).  The nightly activities including the ball underneath the big tent and a good time was had by all, especially dancing the Virginia Reel.  


During the entire event, the 16th Ga. was given the honor of being 1st Company of the GVB and Sunday, they were the Skirmish Company.  I was so proud to lead these selfless men to conduct the opening action of the battle.  Once again, the unit performed with precision and compliments were given by General Jesse and General Poythress.  The unit fought hard during the battle only to suffer an artillery hit, losing half our strength.  By the end of the battle, only two remained.  It was a great weekend had by all.


- 1st Lt. Noah Sprague







By Col. Keith Kohl


This past weekend (February 12-14) the 1st Brigade Provisional Army of the Confederate States took the field for the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Olustee (Ocean Pond).  This was the thunderous climax of the Union effort known as the Florida Expedition intended to secure the state and return it to the Union. On that day 5,500 Union troops supported by 16 cannons clashed with 5,200 Confederate soldiers accompanied by 12 pieces of artillery. Beginning around 12:30 PM as the lead cavalry elements encountered one another. For the next five or so hours the opposing forces fought it out on a battlefield described as a "virgin pine forest free of underbrush" and as "flat as a billiard table". Neither side had any advantage of defensive works or terrain. Late in the afternoon, and despite a gallant and determined fight, Union forces had soundly been defeated and were in retreat toward Jacksonville covered by a noble rear guard action. The Confederates held the now-quiet field as the largest battle in Florida came to a close. In percentages of the number of casualties to the sizes of the forces engaged this was also one of the bloodiest actions of the war. Union forces lost 203 killed, 1,152 wounded, and 506 missing, a total of 1,861 out of 5,500 men. Southern losses were also considerable, losing 946 (93 killed, 847 wounded, 6 missing) out of 5,200. The re-enactment is held on the original battlefield where these two forces clashed on a bygone day.  The past comes to life this weekend as this engagement and those who fought here are remembered.


Joined by comrades from other re-enactor battalions, former members who journeyed from up north, and new friends accompanying these, the brigade placed nearly 50 officers and men on the battlefield. A sizable number of civilian re-enactors were likewise present. The re-enactment action took place on the original battlefield where nearly 11,000 soldiers met in a five-hour engagement that had one of the highest percentages of casualties of any battle of the Civil War. Late Sunday afternoon/early evening as they last of us made ready to depart, quiet returned to these fields that had but a few hours prior resounded with the sounds of battle. With this re-enactment behind us, we returned to our homes and families to await the next time we are called to action which shall not be long in coming forth. We are off to the Battle of Ballast Point re-enactment at Fort DeSoto Park in St.Petersburg on February 26-28. Interested in becoming a re-enactor or spectating as the past comes to life? Feel free to contact us for more details. PICTURE: Members of the 1st Brigade, PACS and attached units about to march from camp to the battlefield at Olustee.







Florida Legislature votes to remove Confederate General from U.S. Capitol Building

By Jeremy Wallace

Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Wednesday, February 24, 2016



A Confederate General's days of representing Florida in the U.S. Capitol Building are just about over.

Since 1922, the statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith has been on display in the U.S. Capitol Building as one of two figures meant to represent Florida in National Statuary Hall, a regular stop during tours of Washington, D.C. for school groups and other tourists.

But on Wednesday, the Florida Legislature gave final approval to a bill that now goes to Gov. Rick Scott that would remove the statue and set up a commission to honor a different Floridian. Henry Flagler, entertainment pioneer Walt Disney or environmental legend Marjory Stoneman Douglas have all been suggested as potential replacements for Smith.

Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, has been accused of trying erase Southern history and said this week he's received threats on his life for proposing the bill. A group called the Sons of the Confederacy have organized rallies to oppose removing the statue.

But Diaz said he is not trying to remove the statue because Smith was in the confederacy. During a debate on the legislation a day earlier, Diaz pointed out that Smith, who was born in St. Augustine, left Florida at a young age in the 1830s before Florida was even a state. He said Florida simply needs to look at other important figures that might be better deserving to represent the state.

"We are certainly not trying to forget the history of Florida," Diaz said.

Smith, who lived much of his adult life in Tennessee, was one of the last major commanding officers in the Confederate Army to surrender during the Civil War. Smith, a Lieutenant General fighting in Texas, did not surrender until June 2, 1865 in Galveston – nearly two months after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union Army in Virginia.

Florida is hardly the first state to take steps replace a statue of a Confederate soldier in Statuary Hall. In 2009, Alabama replaced Confederate Army Lt. General Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry with Alabama native Helen Keller.

Including Smith, there are eight Confederate soldiers or leaders on display in the U.S. Capitol, including Mississippi’s statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, and Virginia’s statue of Robert E. Lee.

The legislation to remove Smith passed the House 83-32. The same bill passed the Senate on a 33-7 vote earlier this month.





Bill Would Bring Changes to Stone Mountain Park

Proposed changes to state law would order park to memorialize the entire Civil War era, not just the Confederacy.

Stone Mountain-Lithonia, GA


By DOUG GROSS (Patch Staff)

January 20, 2016 4:38 pm ET

Bill Would Bring Changes to Stone Mountain Park


STONE MOUNTAIN, GA -- Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park, enshrined in state law as a memorial to Confederate soldiers, would see some changes under a bill being considered by the Georgia legislature.


Filed last week by state Rep. LaDawn Jones, an Atlanta Democrat, House Bill 760 calls for “an appropriate, inclusive, and historically accurate memorial to the Civil War era” at the park just a few miles east of Atlanta.


Critics of the park, which now sits in one of metro Atlanta’s most culturally diverse areas, have long argued that its imagery -- including its massive carving of Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis -- celebrates the Confederate cause while downplaying, or even ignoring, the horrors of slavery.


The bill would strike the word “Confederate” that exists in current state law and add language changing the park’s description from “a Confederate memorial and public recreation area” to “a memorial to the Civil War era and public recreation area.”


The bill also clarifies that agencies overseeing the park could make changes to existing Confederate displays and monuments, as long as those changes are “historically accurate and appropriate.”


To be clear, the bill faces an uphill battle. It’s sponsored by a Democrat in a state where the House, Senate and governor’s office are all held by Republicans. And it would no doubt stir controversy if it began moving through the legislature.


As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, Georgia’s chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans sent a message to members Tuesday night, urging them to oppose the effort.


“If we lose this battle, what will be next?” wrote Ray McBerry, a former leader of the group, according to the AJC.


But, even if Jones’ bill fails, changes are likely at the park.


The Stone Mountain Memorial Association, tasked by the state to oversee the park, has announced plans to install a replica Liberty Bell atop the mountain in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The association also plans to add a permanent exhibit on African-American soldiers who served in the Civil War.


(Photo by Ahoerstemeier via Wikimedia Commons)





Staying Dry in Rainy Weather

By Andrew Jerram

Georgia Volunteer Battalion


Let's face it, we can handle heat, cold, and even the dust of Chickamauga, but rain has a way of seriously putting a damper, (pardon the pun) on any event. Unfortunately, many campaigners have a nasty tendency on bugging out in the case of rain in favor of the local motel, sutlers tent, or even their own home. This has quite a few different bad side effects, and so some effort should be applied to resolving it.


One problem is simply that it's the single most inauthentic thing you can do as a campaigner. Not sleeping at an event makes you no different than the fellow with the propane heater in his wall tent because you have proved that you cannot get by with what you carry on your back. Another problem is that when you do this, you immediately draw the ire of those reenactors who have become campaigners. And honestly, you increase the likelihood that they won't ever make the switch because they see that you can't stay dry, so "why don't I just stick to the A-Frame?"


Now, I understand the argument of "I have to get up and go to work on Monday." It is a valid argument for me too, since as a college student, missing more than one or two classes can result in a severely poor grade. So how do we stay dry (and not sick) when it rains at an event?? Daytime isn't too bad, an oilcloth or poncho along with a good slouch hat will help you immensely. However, sleeping is an entirely different matter. In a severe, driving rain, there is often no way to avoid getting a little wet. In this case, I would suggest finding the best shelter possible, and doing the best you can. In most situations however, it IS possible to stay dry in the rain. I am going to proceed on the assumption of a few things:


1.     A poncho or an oilcloth

2.     An ALL WOOL blanket that is hopefully big enough to double

3.     A piece of canvas, shelter half, or an extra oilcloth or poncho. (2 waterproofs, 1 blanket)


The first key to staying dry is to pick the location. You should be looking for a piece of ground where the water will not run. Even if no rain is imminent, care should be taken to avoid ditches, depressions, and low-lying areas. Another feature that is helpful if available is a large tree with wide, overhanging branches. The lower the branches are to the ground, the better because the wind will not blow as much rain your way. Modern survival guides say that hemlocks are the best for sleeping under, along with oaks, and other wide leafed trees. If you do have a shelter half, try and hook up with a pard to make a shelter tent and to share waterproofs with. Pooling resources is a very good thing!! If you can get three in the shelter tent, invite over another fellow. His waterproof can make an end piece in a driving rain. (That's how we stayed dry at Resaca this past weekend.)


The second key is to try and accumulate some ground cover under your bed. In other words, the more space between you and the ground the less chance of a severe soaking. Leaves, pine straw, and hay all make good ground pads.


So what happens if you're in an open field with no trees for shelter, and no poles available to set up the shelter? There is an original picture I have seen of a dog tent made over a guy line strung between two muskets. The owners fixed bayonets, stabbed them in the ground, and strung the line between the hammers. In the event of no line, the grommet/hole can be placed over the nipple and the hammer lowered.


The worst case scenario is being in a field, with no one to share resources or nobody likes you! In this case, you probably are going to get a little bit wet. To minimize the drying time in the morning, find some high ground, brush up some ground cover, and lay the first waterproof layer, (shelter half) on the ground cover. Wrap yourself in the wool blanket, and then cover yourself with the last waterproof layer and pray it's a good one. If you're not supple/short enough to get your head underneath the poncho, then take your felt hat and lay it over your face. Hopefully, you can stay a lot drier than most people think possible. If you are as prone to movement as I am, then it is a good idea to get some small sticks and stake down three or four corners of the oilcloth.


Some final tips:


1.     Make your preparations early. It's a whole lot easier to notice that you're lying in an old creek bed in the daylight!


2.     Wool is warm even when it's wet so try to avoid cotton quilts.


3.     If it's raining, I sleep with my uniform and shoes on so if I start getting wet, I can get up and change something without having to fiddle with shoelaces.


4.     If you don't have a shelter tent, try a large piece of painter's canvas. It's usually a little lighter and it has the advantage of being customizable so if you're 7'1", you can get a longer piece than the shelter tents that were designed for the 5'3" infantryman of 1864. In addition, there is a lot of reference to the "tattered pieces of canvas and carpet used for shelter..."


5.     Pooling resources is THE best way to stay dry. The much maligned shelter tent is a good way to stay dry. If you share resources with at least one other fellow, than you have an extra waterproof with which to block off one end of the shelter tent (nearest your head)





Unusual Civil War Units   

Pete Kannenberg


The Perret Guards (Co. H of the 5th Louisiana Infantry) "Here...was a company of professional gamblers, 112 strong, recruited for war in a moment of banter by one of the patriarchs."    In A Bohemian Brigade, James M. Perry relates the company’s description by civil war field reporter James Russell while visiting Louisiana in mid-1861.  They were outfitted with uniforms of "mazarine blue" with scarlet facings.   The 5th Louisiana was 744 strong in June of 1861, and eventually lasted the entire war, surrendering in April 1865 with one officer and eighteen men remaining.


The Tenth Legion (56th New York) was a Federal regiment modeled after the concept of the ancient Roman legion, consisting of all military elements, including infantry, cavalry and artillery.   It had 11 companies of infantry, the eleventh company designated as sharpshooters; two companies of cavalry and two batteries of artillery.  Although the official designation was the 56th New York Volunteers, they called themselves the Tenth Legion, apparently after Caesar's famous X legion which fought under him in the Roman Civil war from 49 to 45 BC.   (Also, Charles H. Van Wyck, who raised and commanded the regiment, was a congressman in New York from the 10th Congressional District.)   Soldiers were equipped with two band Enfield rifles, and issued uniforms with a large white "X" on the coat and the knapsacks, which must have made quite a target.

Private in the 10th Legion (56th NY Volunteers) Note the two band Enfield and large "X"


The Invalid Corps was initially conceived and created as a Federal corps of soldiers consisting entirely of invalids, soldiers who had wounds or residuals of injuries or illness that prevented them from engaging in combat, but who were retained in service if they were able to perform non-combat functions, such as guards of prisoners, assistants in hospitals, and clerical function.  Eventually soldiers who were eligible for discharge due to illness or disability but who wished to continue in a non-combat function were included, and the name was changed to the Veteran Reserve Corps for morale reasons, since the name Invalid Corps carried the same initials as the military's designation IC for materials which were Inspected and Condemned.


The VRC, as it became known, had their own uniform, consisting of the usual sky blue trousers and forage cap, but with a twelve button jacket, similar to that worn by the artillery, but dyed sky blue and with black piping.   Although not intended for combat, some VRC soldiers participated in the defense of Washington.  24 VRC noncommissioned officers and four officers were selected as official military pallbearers and guards for Lincoln's funeral train from Washington DC to Springfield Illinois.


Company A, 10th regiment Veteran Reserve Corps, Washington, DC. Note the officer has no left arm


The Calcium Light Infantry (Company E of the 105th New York Infantry) under the guidance of a Professor Grant, a company was organized under the name Calcium Light Infantry. The company was intended for special service using the recently invented calcium light in the field.   The light was to be used to reveal the position and movements of the enemy in the night.  Calcium light, also called limelight, was discovered in the 1820s by Goldsworthy Gurney, and used as a form of stage lighting.  It's use was also developed during the civil war to light battlefields or artillery targets, as well as by the navy to spot blockade runners.



The Louisiana Native Guard was a militia of the state of Louisiana, and consisted of creole soldiers of mixed race, mostly from New Orleans.  In November 1861 they had 33 black officers and 731 black enlisted men and were considered part of the confederate army for a time.   The black soldiers were not supported by the confederate authorities however, and the regiment was disbanded in February 1862, although they were still used by the governor of Louisiana until the capture of New Orleans in April 1862 by the union army led by Benjamin (spoons) Butler.  The union army under Butler reorganized the First Louisiana Native Guard regiment, which consisted of some of the militia members in the original Native Guard as well as additional enlistees, mostly New Orleans freemen and some former slaves.  Later, there were so many ex slaves wishing to enlist that a second and third regiment were formed.  All the field grade officers were white, but all the line officers (captains and lieutenants) were black.


Company C, (the Concordia Guards) of the 82nd Illinois Infantry was an all Jewish company; the regiment was raised by Edward Selig Salomon and some other officers as a regiment of immigrants, mostly German and Scandinavian.  They served at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge.  Salomon rose from Major of the regiment to Colonel, stayed in the military after the war and served in the Southwestern United States. He eventually was brevetted a brigadier general by President Grant and served as the Governor of the Washington territory. 


The 1st California regiment was also the 71st Pennsylvania Volunteers the regiment was organized by Senator Edward D. Baker of Oregon, who wished it to be called the 1st California, despite the fact that it was mostly raised from citizens of Philadelphia.  Residents of the Pacific coast wanted California to be represented in the Army of the Union and urged Baker to form a regiment in the east to credit California.  The Secretary of War authorized Baker to raise a regiment of infantry with himself as colonel, and which would be called the "California regiment".   The regiment was formed in June of 1861, but consisted of nine companies of Philadelphians and one of New Yorkers.  Later, an additional five companies of Philadelphians were added, to make the regiment an unusual 15 companies.


Baker was killed at the disastrous battle of Ball's Bluff in November and thereafter the regiment was renamed the 71st Pennsylvania, and was  included in the famous Philadelphia Brigade along with the 69th and 106th Pennsylvania volunteers.





The Confederate Army 1861-65, Louisiana and Texas   by Field and Hook

A Bohemian Brigade, James Perry

Gone for a Soldier, Alfred Bellard

Philadelphia in the Civil War, Frank H. Taylor

Article on the Veteran Reserve Corps by C. J. Daly

A Regiment of Immigrants, the 82nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry, by Eric Benjaminson





Tales from the Trunk - Part 3

By Ralph Epifanio


(For those who have just joined us, this old box was purchased in Lebanon, New Hampshire, in the summer of 2015, and came with a unique form of entertainment: pages upon pages of the January 16, 1892 Manchester, NH Telegram, plus one or two from the same date’s Boston Globe. Because these stories resonate with the life and times of 19th century America, an era that reflects our own interest, I decided to share them with the readers of this website.)


As American as apple pie, vigilantism has been with us since the first wave of Europeans waded ashore on the North American continent. Call it what you want—quick justice, mob rule, lynching—it has long been adapted as a means to end perceived crimes against the community at large. Whenever there have been places and times in America when law for the lawless was lacking, one way or another “the people” decide who is guilty and what the sentence will be. The Latin term for this is “Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto” or, roughly translated, “the welfare of the people is the supreme law,” and as part of its state seal, it is the motto of Missouri.


According to author Jared Keller in his paper entitled Pax Vigilanticus: Vigilantism, Order and the Law in the Nineteenth Century American West:


The popular conception of vigilantism is of individual citizens “taking the law into their own hands” where conventional law enforcement is perceived to be absent or ineffective. This public perception stems primarily from three genres in contemporary media: the Western in film, literature, radio, and television that centers on gunfighters of the “Wild, Wild West;” “vigilante cops” in television and film (best exemplified by Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies)--today we have Dexter--and the costumed crime-fighters in the comic book genre.1


No American region or time is more studied for this phenomenon than the South immediately following the War of the Rebellion.


In 1861, the American South no doubt considered itself one of the most productive, socially, and economically secure places on earth. As an independent country—as it set out to be—it would be one of the richest on earth. They would never have experimented with nation forming had things been otherwise. With independence they could keep that wealth to themselves, further enriching their Jeffersonian philosophy.


By 1865, however, much of the South was in ruins. Economic wealth had been drained away by the war; land—farms, factories, railroads, plantations, and cities--laid waste by the destructive forces of two huge armies hammering away at each other for four long years; nearly an entire generation of men maimed and dead. At this point, the Radical Republican party considered it their duty to further punish the survivors for treason. What was called “reconstruction” by the North was viewed as anything but that in the South. After Lee’s surrender, the invaders seemed reluctant to leave; the former, all-white Union Army had been replaced by a predominately all black force of occupiers


(United States Colored Troops), many of them former slaves.

"For instance, in South Carolina, 'where out of 14,000 troops, only 2,500 were white...''' 2

Text Box: 1st USCT – South Carolina


Northern politicians and businessmen, far from the cream of Northern society, swept in like locusts, picking the bones of the Confederate carcass.  Using the newly freed slaves as a base of support, these carpetbaggers attempted to reorganize the local governments, already hanging by a thread, into an oligarchy that viciously exploited what was left of their resources. In the North this was called Reconstruction, in the South it was viewed as cultural genocide.3


In retribution for strict post-war policies, white confederate leaders fought back, refusing to surrender political power to northern politicians. Thus America was swept up by a true civil war, one that, arguably, lasted for over a hundred years.


In an abbreviated timeline, we can see a list of perceived “northern transgressions,” imagine how they were viewed as thinly veiled attempts at erasing a proud culture, and imagine how they must have impacted on southern pride.


Dec. 6, 1865 - Republican Congressman John Bingham of Ohio introduces a constitutional amendment to protect civil rights, which was aimed directly at the defeated confederacy. This bill would evolve into Section 1 of the 14th Amendment.


Jan. 5, 1866 – Connecticut Republican Senator Lyman Trumbull proposes the Freedmen’s Bureau Bill. (The full name of that bureau, incidentally, is the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands.)   On that same date Trumbull also proposed the Civil Rights Bill—which contained a citizenship clause--making the denial of a person’s civil rights a federal crime.


President Andrew Johnson vetoed both bills, but moderate Republicans joined with Radical Republicans to override the second veto, the first time in American history that a president’s veto was thus defeated.


April 21, 1866 – Pennsylvania Representative (Republican) Thaddeus Stevens—probably the man most hated in the South--proposes a conceptual idea that will become the 14th Amendment, granting that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.” This was aimed at freed Negroes living in the South.


June 8, 1866 – By a two-thirds majority, the U.S. Senate passes the Fourteenth Amendment.


June 13, 1866 – The 14th Amendment is approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Text Box: Stevens 

June 16, 1866  - The 14th Amendment is passed on to the states.


The legislation divided the former Confederate states (except Tennessee) into five military districts under the authority of federal military officers, troops, and courts.  Black men and loyal white men selected delegates to state conventions, which were to draft new state constitutions giving black men the right to vote.  A state could regain representation in Congress only after (1) it ratified the Fourteenth Amendment and (2) the Fourteenth Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution.  The First Reconstruction Act was passed by the Senate on February 17 and the House on February 20.  On March 2, President Johnson vetoed the bill, but Congress overrode his veto on the same day.5


There were several interesting events surrounding this bill. The first was that it had not LEGALLY been ratified on July 28, 1868 when Secretary of State William Seward declared it so. In order to pass, it had to be approved by three fourths of the states. Three fourths of 37 (states at that time) would have been 28. But three Union states--New Jersey, the fourth state to approve it (on September 11, 1866), Oregon, the fifth state (on September 19, 1866), and Ohio, the eighth state (on January 11, 1867), all had rescinded (a term called rescission) their votes.  (To paraphrase Virginia patriot Patrick Henry, “They smelled a rat.”) That means that the Republican controlled Congress allowed an unconstitutional Constitutional Amendment, one that was three votes short of the required 28 for ratification, to become law.


For the record, Oregon finally passed it on April 23, 1973, Ohio on March 12, 2003, and  New Jersey on April 23, 2003, at which point it was carried  by the (original) required 28 states. But between 1868 and 2003, a span of 135 years, it was technically NOT an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


The second fact is that, while this amendment was being discussed in Congress, missing from that Congressional discussion were the former CSA members which had been denied their legally elected seats. Remember, according to Northerners, the war was fought for reunion, and yet their representation in congress was nullified.


Coincidentally, two of the former confederate states that “ratified” the amendment—Arkansas and Florida—did so before they were readmitted to the Union. (How is that possible?) Three more states—North and South Carolina and Louisiana—ratified it on the same day as they were readmitted, certainly not a coincidence. Coercive politics perhaps?


In the North, it was politics as usual. Meanwhile, in the South, frustrated ex-confederates like Nathan Bedford Forrest in Tennessee (who founded the Ku Klux Klan), and political leaders in Mississippi engineered homespun resistance.


Text Box: Forrest“James George and Ethelbert Barksdale (the Confederate general and the newspaper editor who ran Democratic politics in Mississippi) were the inventors of the Mississippi plan. They had been sufficiently respectable to be able to maintain contact with…elected Democrats in Washington, and even leading Republicans, but sufficiently ruthless to keep within their range of communication the White Liners, Bulldozers, Regulators, and free ranging ex-Confederate soldiers who were ready, willing, and able to murder and terrorize to an extent unknown before or since in American politics….Using violence and intimidation to suppress the black vote—but subtly enough so that the federal government would not be forced to use federal troops to enforce Negro rights—the Democrats could sweep the entire South.” 6


On a local level, it was more of the same. All politics aside, society is rife with racism, bigotry, hate and fear. In places and times of lawlessness—the high seas, frontier life in early America, the “wild west,” the post-war South, and even the rural North, man’s inhumanity to man had no geographical boundaries—justice was in the hands of those who were armed and organized. As you will see from the two Manchester Telegram articles that follow, one describing an event in the North and one in the South, that crimes committed by locals--including that of both Union and Confederate veterans--and the vigilantism that sought to thwart it, was a way of life in 19th century America.



White Caps Again

A Man Whipped and a Woman Ducked in a Creek


Evansville, Ind., Jan. 14--Half a mile west of the town of English resides a reputable farmer named Henry F. Taylor, and a quarter mile from his home lives a woman named Mary Hawkins. It was suspected that too great an intimacy existed between Taylor and the woman, and the Crawford County Whitecaps determined to set guard on their conduct. At 10:30 Tuesday night, half a dozen of the gang were sent to lie in wait at Mrs. Hawkins' house. Soon after they saw Taylor enter. They reported this to the gang, who had assembled at three or four miles distance, and the night riders started for the woman's residence, about twenty-five of them being in the party. They unceremoniously broke open the door and discovered, they claim, Taylor and Mrs.   Hawkins in their night clothes, mounted them on horses, and, riding half a mile away, tied Taylor to a tree and gave him fifty-five lashes on the bare back with long hickory switches. The man fainted twice during the infliction of the blows, and the blood followed every blow.


Mrs. Hawkins was dismounted and compelled to witness the torture. Leaving Taylor more dead than alive, and still tied to the tree, the White Caps took Mrs. Hawkins to a creek nearby, where they ducked her until she was so exhausted that she could neither stand nor make outcry. Mrs. Hawkins had to be carried to her home, where she lay near death's door from exhaustion. Taylor managed to crawl to his house after he was cut loose, going most of the way on his hands and knees suffering from the torture and exposure to the cold. Today it is determined from a counter organization called the Black Caps, for the purpose of taking summary vengeance on the White Cap marauders.


According to various websites, the White Capping movement began in Indiana in 1873.


“The term White Caps is used to refer to several Indiana groups that lynched known and suspected criminals after the Civil War. The most famous incident involving the White Caps was the lynching of 10 members of the Reno Gang, which ended the gang’s activities in 1868.” 7


This “secret society,” consisting mostly of farmers, was vigilantism, plain and simple. Using any method that they determined was necessary—from non-violent warnings to coercion, beatings, and even murder—to maintain “community standards, appropriate behavior and traditional rights,” its all-white members popularized vigilantism.  Dressed in disguises, and operating under the cover of darkness, the Whitecaps’ modus operandi was, for all intents and purposes, reflective of the better known KKK. In time it spread to Ohio and north to Canada, where the following were reported in "Crime and Deviance in Canada: Historical Perspectives":


In Berlin, Ontario, two Germans received three year prison terms for whitecapping a Mrs.Koehler. On 20 May, 1896, Mrs. Koehler, who had recently subjected a stepchild to considerable abuse, was aroused from sleep by cries that a neighbor was ill. As she opened her door she was seized by four men. Then followed the ritualistic enactment of rough justice: her bed clothes were violently torn from her body; she was ridden on a rail for a certain distance; and finally, she was tarred and feathered.


White cap action against wife beating, probably the single transgression against social propriety most often punished, were also likely to be spontaneous affairs. In Lambton, Ontario, near London, four or five neighbors white capped William Lawson in 1889. On the night of 26th November they rushed up to him, grabbed him, and accused him of mistreating his wife. They then took him to the pump where, according to Lawson, they “half-drowned” him. When Lawson refused to beg his wife’s forgiveness, the men forced a large pole between his legs and danced him about the yard. They concluded this version of rough justice by parading the offender up and down the town’s streets.8


In the southern states, white capping evolved into a murderous way of forcing black farmers and merchants—targeted due to foreclosures on poor white farmers--to give up their homes and property and move. By the early 1890s, its evils finally drew strong legal attempts at its extermination. The success of such measures—community opposition, fines, etc.—can be measured by its periodic return. The last reference to this vigilantism appears in a Mississippi law passed in 1972, threatening fines and imprisonment (of up to five years in a state penitentiary).


Note: In Indiana, at least, vigilantism is timeless. For evidence of that, Google “Marion, Indiana lynching” or go directly to the “America’s Holocaust Museum” website, where you will see that racism in general, and lynching in particular, is not regional in nature.


Two counties north of the Whitecaps’ Crawford County lived the (then) most famous gang in America, the Reno Brothers. Well before 1860, the illegal activities of the older two brothers of this crime family—Frank and John--had long exasperated their Rockford, Indiana community with allegations of arson, theft, and burglary of homes and hotel rooms leading the endless list of accusations against them. Somehow, despite a strict Methodist upbringing, they--later joined by brothers Sim and Bill—were at the core of a crime wave unprecedented in American history. They gave meaning to the term “life of crime.” Only one brother, “Honest” Clint, and their sister, Laura, escaped the family’s notoriety. Clint, however, lived out his final years--and died--in an insane asylum.


Text Box: Frank RenoWhen the War of the Rebellion began, the opportunist Frank and John added “bounty jumping” to their repertoire. They would enlist in a town where no one knew them, claim the enlistment bounty, then skedaddle. Or, serving as a “replacement” enlistee, grab the money and run. Popping up here, there, and everywhere, they would repeat these scams. They did this over and over again. But by 1864 they were back home, in Rockford, Indiana.


Former bounty jumpers recruited by the Renos began to migrate into Jackson County along with other miscreants enlisted by John in his travels after deserting from the Federal Army. Assorted counterfeiters, thieves and robbers formed a criminal confederation under the leadership of the eldest Reno brothers, Frank and John. Sim eventually joined the gang, as did William, who was still a teenager.10


Hiding out in burned-out buildings—much of the town had been incinerated by the two older Renos—and wooded areas along the White River—the ever-growing gang turned the area into their own little fiefdom of felonious activities. In response,


"...the July 27, 1865, issue of the Seymour Times issued a warning to visitors of the area to 'be wary of thieves and assassins that infest the place.' On August 3, the same paper ran an editorial that condemned lawlessness in Jackson County and called for vigilante action to restore order. 'Nothing but Lynch law will save the reputation of this place and its citizens,’ declared editor Dr. J.R. Monroe.11


When things got dull, or perhaps local pickings grew lean, the Reno Gang graduated to murder, and robbery of travelers, merchants, banks, post offices, and county treasuries, before finally turning to train robbery, their most legendary of crimes. (It is said they the Renos “invented” the art of a peacetime train robbery.) Soon, the latter got them into hot water. 


The Adams Express Company, which used the railroads to transport gold shipments, became “steamed” at their losses, and hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to put an end to the mayhem. No sooner had the Pinkertons captured some of the gang's members, however, and then they were soon on the loose again. Whether through posting bail, bribery, threats, the murder of witnesses, or daring escapes, it proved virtually impossible to keep members of the Reno gang incarcerated. By this time the Renos had a small army of followers, and their crimes crossed state lines and spread throughout the Midwest, making it more difficult to track and capture them. 


Due to the hardscrabble, post-war times, and taking advantage of the relative lawlessness of that era, other gangs formed.  Among these were the James-Younger Gang.  Although Jesse James and his brother Frank (a member of Quantrill’s Raiders, along with Cole Younger) had already achieved some well-deserved notoriety as “bushwhackers” during the war, it wasn’t until 1866, when this legendary bank-robbing gang took shape. The James-Younger Gang operated throughout the Midwest for about ten years. Most of its members were finally gunned down in the street after robbing the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota (September 7, 1876).


Former Union Major General Adelbert Ames (who was married to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler’s daughter, Blanche) was in town, overseeing his father’s investments in the Ames Mill and Northfield Bank. Members of the gang, whose nucleus was made up of former Confederates, had a beef with these two generals, and chose their target because of this.


(Note: Ames was a “refugee of the Mississippi Plan.”  After the war, he first served as the General in charge of the Fourth Military District (Arkansas and Mississippi), then governor, and finally senator from Mississippi. When Rutherford B. Hayes was elected president in 1876, the Federal Government more or less abandoned their efforts at Reconstruction, and Ames’ political career came to an end. Ames died in Ormond Beach, Florida in 1933 at the age of 97, the last surviving full-rank general of the Rebellion.)


Eventually, the problem of the Reno Gang’s continuous arrest-acquittal/escapes scenario was addressed by well-organized bands of local citizenry. Incensed by the December 29, 1866 robbery, rape, and murder of Marian Cutlor, not to mention the release of three gang members on bail, a large body of men (estimates range from dozens to several hundred) descended on Brownstown, Indiana on March 30, 1867. Their appearance--in military formation--hinted at their origins (a Northern version of the KKK?). They proceeded to batter down the jail door, seize the three gang members who were being held for the crime, and hang them from the nearest tree.


On July 2oth, 1868, while three other Reno bandits were being transported by train, they were seized by masked members of the “Jackson County Vigilance Committee,” taken to a nearby beech tree, and summarily strung up by their necks. The spot became known as “Hangman’s Crossing,” when, five days later, three more gang members—this time traveling by wagon--were hung on the exact same tree by the “men in the scarlet masks,” giving rise to the Jackson vigilantes’ alternate name, “The Scarlet Mask Society.” Although he was never accused of being slow-witted, it was whispered that Allan Pinkerton was hardly “disappointed” by this turn of events. One way or another, the problem of the Reno Gang was being taken care of.


In July 27, 1868 Bill and Sim Reno were caught by the Pinkertons in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, Frank Reno, Charlie Anderson, and several others tried to escape to Ontario, Canada--ironically, the same province as the aforementioned Canadian brand of white capping--but were tracked down by the Pinkertons, after which Secretary of State Seward arranged for their extradition back to the U.S. Once stateside, they were “reunited” with their brethren in the New Albany, Indiana jail, considered the strongest stone jail in the state.


On the night of December 11-12, 1868, while Frank, Bill, Sim, and Charlie were marking time in their individual cells, a hundred members of the para-military “Scarlet Mask Society” broke into the jail, and through a combination coercion and violence, obtained the keys to their cells. Hauling them out by force, they hung them--one by one--from a metal railing. “Judge Lynch” had passed his verdict.


The only Reno member of the gang to escape that slaughter was John, who was at that time serving ten years of a 25 year sentence. Vigilante justice figured in that case too.  Caught and arrested by the Pinkertons a year earlier for robbing the Daviess, Missouri Courthouse, he was on trial when a lynch mob began to assemble outside the courthouse. He wisely entered a guilty plea, choosing jail over capital punishment.


Now we move south, where another family gang and its followers made headlines in that same issue of the January 16, 1892 Manchester Telegram.






THE GIRLS USED to Print a Newspaper but Shared Their Father's Fanatical Notions


Five more of the Sims gang have been lynched. The lynching occurred on Tuesday, and the victims of the mob are Neal Sims, a brother of Bob, who was lynched on Christmas Day; Laura and Beatrice, daughters of Bob, and two men belonging to the gang.  A party were on their way from Womack Hill (Alabama) to Leak, Miss. When about half way to their destination from their house, they were met by a mob who had started out to hunt Neal down. The Sims party endeavored to escape, but all were quickly captured. Neal showed fight and emptied his revolver at the posse. The pursuers then closed in on him, and he was disarmed. In spite of this, he continued to fight the posse. In a furious struggle, one of the posse cried out- "What's the matter with settling the murderers' business right here?"


The suggestion was adopted at once, and in a minute, Neal Sims was hanging from a tree. The regulators fired a volley into the body of the man, and were about to ride away when one of the women threw a stone which struck one of the lynchers on the back of the head.


The posse was already roused to bloodshed, and this act made them more serious. The leader rode back and warned the women and men not to do anything that might call down vengeance on themselves.


The advice was not heeded, the women picking up stones and hurling them at the regulators indiscriminately, at the same time calling the men names that were offensive to them. The lynchers at once held a short conference that the whole country would be well rid of the whole Sims gang.


A rush was then made for the two men and two women and then in spite of entreaties from one or two of the regulators all were strung up to an oak tree on which the body of Neal Sims was hanging. It was said that three more men who were engaged in the outlawry of the gang will be put to death as soon as they are caught.


(The rest of the story was either missing, illegible, or rendered unreadable when it was pasted to the trunk over a hundred years ago.)


By drawing the reader's attention to the headline--Sims Girls Lynched--we get to the heart of this sensational story.  While the lynching of men was news, the lynching of women was almost unheard of.


In researching the subject, Kerry Segrave, in his book "Lynchings of Women in the United States: The Recorded Cases, 1851-1946," he links  the term "lynching" to Captain William Lynch (1742-1820). The author suggests that, although the term was first published in the early 19th century, it probably originated in the years during the American Revolution, perhaps as a punishment for those committing acts of "Toryism."  That era, incidentally, is also credited with the first use of "riding the rail," usually accompanied by "tar and feathering," to rid towns of those determined to be Loyalists.


Hanging passed on to "The Lynch-men associated for the purpose of punishing crimes in a summary way without the tedious and technical forms of our courts of justice." (Segrave, page 4)


The history of the Sims "Gang" begins, ignominiously, with its patriarch, Bob Sims. As a confederate soldier--22nd Alabama, Co. C--nothing unusual appears in his official record, other than he was wounded and held prisoner by the Union at Camp Morton, Indiana.


Upon his return to Alabama, various stories began to pop up, insinuating his torture of animals, specifically a hog (one story is that he cut its tongue off, another where he supposedly shot a trespassing hog in the presence of its owner). Still another accusation is how he used an ax to chop off the leg of another man's cow. With the addition of arson, we might have the stereotypical "Macdonald Triad" sociopath of today's television dramas, however, Sims' behavior might better be explained by that era's version of post war traumatic stress syndrome.


At any rate, Bob Sims ran afoul of his neighbors in various and sundry ways. His whiskey still, popular though it was, was operated illegally and the fact that he didn't pay taxes did not go unnoticed. 


Sims was deeply religious, and could quote the Bible, chapter and verse, to fit any situation. Like the infamous Renos of Indiana, he and his family started out Methodists, but sometime after the war Bob Sims' "conventional" form of religion underwent a change; he and his followers began to be called "Simsites."  The local (Soulwhipa, Alabama) Baptist Minister, Bryant Carroll, used him as a frequent subject of his own sermons.


Things came to a head when, as a result of Sims' son's courtship of Bryant's daughter, a horse made a mess in the Bryant front yard. Bad blood boiled, and on May 1, 1891 Carroll was found shot dead on his front porch. Although unable to prove who the culprit was, the list of suspects, short as it was, all ended in the surname Sims.

Using the still as provocation, federal authorities were called in, and arrested Bob. While incarcerated in Bladon Springs, Ala., a rescue attempt by the Sims clan--Bob's brothers, Jim and Neal, as well as his son Bailey, plus three others--turned into a shootout. Bob, along with five of the rescuers, escaped, but Bailey was killed and Jim, wounded, was caught. Several days later, the latter was lynched.


One thing led to another, and on December 21, 1891, the Sims gang set fire to the "McMillan house," which held 17 sleeping people, ten of whom were children.  As they exited the inferno, in an attempt to escape the flames, they were all gunned down, one by one: one adult and three children were shot dead on the spot; nine more were wounded. A school teacher, boarding there, eventually died of her wounds three weeks later.


On December 24th, Christmas Eve, a posse surrounded the Sims home, and eventually negotiated the surrender of Bob Sims, three Savage family friends, and several women. Although 25 armed guards attempted to escort them to jail, they were overwhelmed by a mob of 300 vigilantes. Between four and six captives--the stories vary--were lynched at a crossroads (Old Samuel). Here is where the previous Manchester Telegram story further deviates from other sources. Nowhere else is it mentioned that the "Sims girls" suffered the same fate as their men folk.


Lynching women in the 19th century was not unheard of, although it usually involved women slaves (for murdering their masters), or minorities (Josefa Segovia).  In 1865, when Mary Surratt was one of the four condemned conspirators sentenced to death for the murder of Abraham Lincoln, it caused quite a stir. So too with the Sims girls.



According to Segrave, "...there is no irrefutable proof that Beatrice and Laura Sims were lynched,  but the evidence points to that conclusion. Peb Falls (perhaps another Simsite?) was found lynched days after the event.  (In Falls' case) no witness was ever found, and she may have been murdered by an individual rather than a mob. But the symbolism of her body dangling from a rope attached to a tree limb argued otherwise." (Segrave)


The contradictions in the Telegram article notwithstanding,  a number of "Simsite" stories appeared in various newspapers, including this one:


"Choctaw County Alabama - Bob Sims and six members of his bloodthirsty gang were lynched in Choctaw County, Ala. by a mob. Source: Lorain County Reporter (Lorain, Oh.), Jan. 2nd, 1892, Transcribed by Linda Dietz.”14


"The Sims War in Choctaw County is not yet over. Although six or seven of the gang were lynched, enough religious fanaticism is left to cause trouble. The Simsites are extremely bitter against all preachers they call agents of the devil.  Fearful of his life, Rev. C.R. Lamar, the Methodist preacher at Bladen Springs, recently left his charge, and the Rev. T. Cooper took his place, saying he would face the music. The results were that a few nights since some unknown party fired at him from the bushes near his home, and narrowly missed sending the bullet home. A night or two afterwards he was shot at again...." Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County, Ala., April 7, 1892 - transcribed by Veneta McKinney15


It is obvious that vigilantism in America was not only the tool of the KKK, certainly not limited to the South, and bridged the 19th century, well into the 20th. According to the Tuskegee Institute, between 1882 and 1968, 3446 blacks an 1297 whites were lynched in the United States.16



1.     Keller, Jared. Pax Vigilanticus: Vigilantism, Order, and Law in the Nineteenth Century American West.

2.     Page 643: A Companion to American Military History: 2 Volume Set. Edited by James C. Bradford.

3.     Cultural genocide or cultural cleansing is a term created by lawyer Raphael Lemkin 1944

5.     Harp Week Time Line 1865-1868

6.     Redemption – The Last Battle of the Civil War, by Nicholas Lemann, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2006; ISBN – 13: 978-0-374-24855-0

7.     Law and Order: The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America: An Encyclopedia  

8.     Crime and Deviance in Canada: Historical Perspectives

9.     “America’s Holocaust Museum”

10.                        History Net: Reno Gang’s Reign of Terror

11.                        The Sims War Siege:

12.                        History Net: Reno Gang's Reign of Terror

13.                        Segrave, Kerry. Lynchings of Women in the United States: The Recorded Cases, 1851-1946

14.                        Choctaw County Alabama Crime News

15.                        Choctaw County Alabama Crime News

16.                        Lynchings by State





Chaplain’s Corner: God’s Faithfulness

Captain John Butler, Chaplain Hardy’s Brigade

Inspired by God



Remembering my affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.  My soul has them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.  This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:19-23


Life is a raging maelstrom of turmoil. Seems no matter what we do, no matter what we say circumstances come barreling down on us. We feel like a fisherman in a boat being pulled into a giant whirlpool ready to be sucked down at any moment. Never enough money to cover the bills or to get what you feel you need, never enough time to do all the things you set out to accomplish. Why God! Why do you do this to us! Why do you taunt us with this so called peace you always claim to have! God is not doing it to us, He allows us to have our free will and choices to turn to Him or to deny Him.


God never promised that if we accept His Son’s sacrifice that all of a sudden we would get all the things we desired and lusted for. In fact He gives us a different truth, that because we turn to Him and put our trust and faith in Him that the world would hate us, why? Because Satan controls the world aspect. Satan will devise hardships to snare you, temptations to saddle you with bondage. He will tell you that you are a fool to follow such frivolous teachings of a weak man. The truth is Satan is frightened by anything that God promises us, the peace we can expect is the peace of heart when we turn our troubles over to God.


“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33


What will you choose to do, listen to man and Satan and think this religious stuff is a bunch of baloney, that there is no way that saying a simple prayer and trusting in some imagined super being will wipe away all your problems? Or will you find true peace, peace thru the hardships that come your way, peace that passes all understanding. Will you trust Jesus when He says, ‘I will be with you always, even unto the ends of the earth.’ Let no man dissuade you from the truth, the truth that is Jesus Christ, and His unwavering faithfulness.


“But this you have, that you hate the Nicolatians, which I also hate. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; to him that
overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” Revelations 2:6-7


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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$25 - includes wooden box, too.  Very old!  But definitely still can be used.


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