May 2016


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






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


·        May 6-8:  Federal Garrison of Ft. Clinch, Fernandina Beach, FL - The fee has been canceled for this year. Only breakfast & lunch will be provided on Sat. Only breakfast will be provided on Sun.

·        May 20-22:  Battle of Resaca, GA



Saint Andrews Bay Salt Works Raid

April 1-3, 2016

By Ron Boyce


The Pawnee Guard hosted the 6th annual St Andrews Salt Works Raid in downtown Panama City Florida April 1-3. Despite the torrential rain on Friday, the weather was great Saturday and Sunday for the unique event which features an amphibious assault. During the war, the US Navy conducted several raids in St Andrews Bay, which is located on the Gulf Coast between Tallahassee and Pensacola. The raids were intended to slow down the production of salt which was used for tanning, medicines, gun powder production, and food preservation.


Salt making was so necessary that salt workers were granted waivers from conscription. The Navy would come in, land a Marine detail for security and then the sailors would set to work destroying the sheds and boilers used to boil the sea water down to its salt content.


Reenactors came from as far away as central Florida to participate as sailors, Marines, salt workers and home guard. Displays on naval history, the history of the USS Pawnee, salt making, civil war medicine, and the flags of the war attracted dozens of visitors at a time.


The raid starts with the Marines landing from their rowed launch on the white sand beach as pyrotechnics exploded in the sand. The home guard put a spirited defense but the Marines steadily pushed them back through the woods and the tent camp as well as the field in front of the spectators. The spectators had a front row seat that allowed them see the battle close up and personal. The Marines exploded one of the boilers which flew 10 feet in the air. After the battle, the wounded were taken to the field hospital where Doc Woodrum and his able assistants treated them, removing bullets and even amputating a limb.


Although small, there is plenty of room for camping under the trees and the evenings are great watching the sunset on the beach while enjoying the sea breeze.  All the participants had a great time and the crowds were very appreciative. One of the participants, Ethan Rogers is the great, great grandson of salt worker from Alabama that harvested salt in St Andrews Bay.


Pictures and video of the event can be viewed on the Pawnee Guard Facebook page. You contact the unit there or through their website





Staying Dry in Rainy Weather

By Andrew Jerram


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)





The Historical Reenactor Accuracy War

How to get ostracized at a Civil War reenactment: use bug repellant

By Romie Stott

Atlas Obscura on April 13, 2016

A re-enactment in action in Virginia.

(Photo: Donnie Nunley/CC BY 2.0)

When you load up the car for a camping weekend set in the 1800s, the gear is a little different: Canvas tent. Wool bedroll. Hobnail boots instead of hiking sandals. Homemade food wrapped in wax paper. An ice cooler disguised as a wooden chest. Muslin underwear. Silk suspenders.

Anywhere you have dedicated history nerds who dream about the romance of the past, you'll find reenactors reliving it, usually in the context of a dramatic struggle for the fate of a nation. In September 2015, a crowd of 75,000 gathered in a field south of Moscow to watch—or fight in—a pivotal 1380 battle between medieval Russians and Mongols. Three months earlier, 6,200 reenactors in Napoleonic garb recreated the 10-hour battle of Waterloo for the benefit of 64,000 spectators gathered in Belgium. For four years running, U.S. military history geeks have spent an April weekend sleeping in trenches at the Midway Village Museum in Illinois, facing mustard gas attacks from another continent a hundred years ago.

However, in the U.S., one period dominates the reenactment scene: the American Civil War.  Sure, there's a yearly "remember the Alamo" meetup in San Antonio, and New Englanders are happy to spend Patriots Day kicking off the Revolutionary war at Lexington and Concord, where the British are perpetually coming. But if you want to spend almost every weekend of the summer in one historical period, and practice your military drills year round, you join a Civil War unit. And as you load up your gear—your wool bedroll, your hobnail boots—you live in fear of one word: farb.

A Civil War re-enactment in Maryland. (Photo: Ron Cogswell/CC BY 2.0)


To call someone a farb is to call them inaccurate, with an added layer of moral judgment: a farb's gear is not just wrong, but wrong, a sin against history. It's reenactor slang that dates back to the 1960s, the dawn of the modern reenactment era, when the Civil War centennial and the civil rights movement coincided to cause a surge of mainstream interest in a hobby previously dominated by small-scale "town history" celebrations and marksmanship drills. In the same way contemporary comic con attendees snipe about "real" fans versus "fake geeks," reenactors who devoted a lot of attention to the accuracy of their historical "impressions" complained about those who didn't—and still do.

Your quintessential farb might spend all weekend talking on a cell phone, or wear a jumble of mismatched “old timey” costume pieces from different decades. Bright-colored crocheted snoods—decorative female hairnets—are a reliable target of ire; more 1940s than 1860s, they’re nevertheless sold to entry-level reenactors by opportunistic merchants happy to take money from a newcomer looking for a quick “period hairstyle” solution.

Farbs are an inevitable part of any large-scale reenactment, since perspectives on history—and what historical immersion means—are far from uniform. There’s natural tension between hobbyists who want to dress up and fire canons, then sit down for a beer with fellow nerds, and people who want to get as close to time travel as possible—who would rather not see anyone duck behind a tree with a can of insect repellant.

A sign at a re-enactment regarding historically-accurate costumes. (Photo: istolethetv/CC BY 2.0)

Emotional connection to the era adds another layer. As historian and Revolutionary War reenactor Seán O'Brien notes, a participant looking to honor his family's memory of a much-mythologized ancestor "tends not to listen when you point out that wearing cavalry boots with breeches and a uniform coat six sizes too big with modern glasses and a bunch of medallions hanging off his hat doesn't look anything like a mid-19th century uniform."


Even for someone incredibly dedicated to historical accuracy, reenactment involves compromise simply by the fact of life in the present. Today’s corset-fancying woman would not have been shaped in one since the age of nine, and will therefore never achieve an 1800s-accurate ribcage shape. Nobody’s going to actually try to kill anyone, or forego prescription medication, or risk drinking unsterilized water during a battle. Wearing sunblock may be inaccurate, but so is fresh sunburn because it’s been months since you spent a full day outdoors.

And since volunteers are paying for period-appropriate gear out of their own pockets, not everyone can afford to sink a few hundred dollars into 1862-accurate handmade shoes. Griping about someone else’s reenactment choices can quickly feel like sour grapes. No one is immune; a Confederate reenactor who was an extra in Glory bragged to filmmaker Gareth Harfoot that he'd pushed Matthew Broderick off a pier for not properly returning a salute—and gotten away with it by fading into the crowd with his impeccable costume.

A photograph from 1864 showing Confederate prisoners captured at the battle of Fisher's Hill, under the guard of Union troops.
 Library of Congress/LC-DIG-ppmsca-15835)


However, the accuracy debate isn't solely about reenactors. At large events, spectators outnumber reenactors by a factor of ten or more; these events are billed as educational “living history,” sponsored by museums and historical societies, and partly funded by spectators’ entry fees. Although onlookers will be able to spot prominent anachronisms like flashlights, they’ll take other historical compromises at face value.

When individual units and events set their own accuracy standards to determine who can participate, they enter a minefield of heated political arguments over whom the hobby belongs to, and who it’s meant to serve. Should women be banned from fighting units? Aren’t reenactors overwhelmingly too old, too fat, and too white? At what point does a reenactment misinform more than it educates?

A cautionary tale is embedded in the term farb itself. Although it has several popular folk etymologies, it was most likely invented by the First Maryland "Blackhat" Regiment, led by German teacher Gerry Rolph. "Farb" is the German word for "color"—and during weekend sewing sessions in the Spring 1961 the Blackhats mocked other units for too-colorful uniforms. Ironically, the original farbs may have been onto something: the Confederate army had a problem with blue, and therefore so do reenactors.

An illustration from 1895 showing the uniforms worn by Union and Confederate soldiers. (Photo:US Government/Public Domain)

Moreover, according to uniform historian Fred Adolphus, Confederate cadet grey may never have been as blue or as irregular as the shade reenactors have tried to recapture, based on a comparison of reproduction cloth with museum-conserved uniforms.

For symbolic reasons, the Confederate government wanted uniforms in the pale, bluish grey of state militias, to reinforce the idea that states had always been independent nations with a legal right to self-government. But the only fabric mills capable of producing that fabric in quantity were in the north, particularly around Lowell, Massachusetts. Thus Confederates spent the early years of the war in an array of mismatched hues as they tried different dye processes and imports. The homemade stuff tended to fade to brown after a few weeks or months in the sun—good camouflage, but demoralizing since "butternut" was an insult with the same meaning as "hayseed."

Meanwhile, already-available manufactured fabric was often too dark a blue, to the extent that Union forces declared outright they'd execute as a spy any captured Confederate whose too-indigo uniform might be mistaken for a Federal soldier's. Further complicating matters, Confederate uniforms sometimes were Federal uniforms with some of the color boiled out. Many of the deaths at the 1862 Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day of fighting in all of U.S. history, occurred because a Confederate unit under A.P. Hill was wearing captured Union uniforms, sowing confusion on both sides. (It's equally but less lethally confusing for modern spectators.)

A print showing the Battle of Gettysburg. (Photo: Library of Congress/LC-DIG-pga-03235)

Even once Southern industrial production of grey cloth had ramped up in places like Roswell, Georgia, and Richmond, Virginia's Crenshaw woolen mills, achieving a regular, repeatable bluish gray was a challenge. The most readily available colorfast dyes of the time were indigo and black walnut, but "indigo's tricky," says natural dyer Jess Lionne, "because, first of all, indigo itself doesn't dissolve in water."

The same thing that stops indigo from washing out stops it from washing in, unless the dyer deoxygenates the water—usually by adding live bacteria and waiting a few days. This yogurt-like process smells like rotten fish, and attracts a lot of flies.

For a reenactor, the problem is obvious: no contemporary fabric company is going to use stinky, slow natural indigo instead of the synthetic version. However, the problem for uniform suppliers in the 1860s was indigo's lack of predictability. Once dyeing begins, it's hard to know in advance how dark a blue a vat will produce, since that depends on both bacterial activity and the potency of an individual indigo plant. To regularize the process, suppliers combed together dyed and undyed wool or cotton fibers until they achieved the desired shade with minimal heathering.

Costumed actors at a Civil War re-enactment. (Photo: Craig Shipp/CC BY-SA 2.0)

This process takes skill and machinery which are no longer readily available. Charlie Childs, founder of County Cloth, revered purveyor of Civil War reproduction fabric and clothing, relied on a 30-year partnership with Harry Lonsdale, a Philadelphia upholsterer who specialized in reproduction wool for refurbishing classic cars. Since Lonsdale's recent retirement, Childs has been on an unsatisfying quest to find a worthy replacement. A long process of sending swatches back and forth between Childs (himself an experienced handweaver), a mill, a dyer, and a spinner, may still result in cloth that isn't quite right.

As Mark Twain wrote in The Gilded Age, his co-authored 1873 satire of post-Civil-War corruption, "History never repeats itself, but the Kaleidoscopic combinations of the pictured present often seem to be constructed out of the broken fragments of antique legends."

It's not quite the same as saying history rhymes; but it's a little like saying there will be reenactments, and they'll get a bit farby. Or those 150 years after a war about skin color and about fabric, men will still fight a battle of blue versus grey.





Dear Reader,


Several people have written to me in anger, asking me why I continue to run such articles as these below.  My answer is simple….I run them in the hopes that people will wake up and understand there is an outright attack on our American & Southern Heritage.  I do this in the hopes that Reenactors will join the fray in the fight to preserve the historical heritage that belongs to every American, regardless of when they or their ancestors arrived in this country.  As Shelby Foote once said, “Any understanding of this nation has to be based and I mean really based on the understanding of Civil War. I believe that firmly, it defined us. The revolution did what it did. Our involvement in European wars began with the first World War did what it did, but the Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became — good and bad things.”  To remove remembrance of any one part of our American history is to disgrace every part.  Simply put, I run these articles to help us remember what we are facing.


With regards to the recent Atlanta clash, I will not deign to comment on such a vile use of our heritage, our flag, and the resulting controversy, except to say this…racism is not to be tolerated.  There was poor judgment and wrong-doing on both sides of those involved.  Remember what is most important: we are all God’s children (just that some are more childish than others), and He loves us all equally.  There are good and bad people of all races.  Keep your head up, stand proud of your heritage (North or South), and know that He is in control.  Be safe!





Confederate emblem ‘anti-American,’ judge in flag case says

By Emily Wagster Pettus

Originally published April 12, 2016 at 6:32 pm Updated April 13, 2016 at 7:09 am

The Seattle Times


A federal judge says that the Confederate emblem on the Mississippi flag is "anti-American" because it represents those who fought to leave the United States, but he is not yet saying whether he will consider a lawsuit that seeks to eliminate the flag as a state symbol.

A couple leaves the grounds of the state Capitol in Jackson, Miss., after participating in a rally in support of keeping the Confederate battle emblem on the state flag. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. — A federal judge said Tuesday that the Confederate emblem on the Mississippi flag is “anti-American” because it represents those who fought to leave the United States.

But U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves is not yet saying whether he will fully consider a lawsuit that seeks to eliminate the flag as a state symbol.

Reeves heard more than three hours of arguments about motions in the lawsuit that Carlos Moore, an African-American attorney from Grenada, Mississippi, filed against the state. Moore is asking Reeves to declare the flag an unconstitutional relic of slavery.

Moore argued that under the U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, a majority of justices found the Constitution protects a fundamental right of dignity. Moore argued the state flag violates his dignity and that of other African-Americans.

“I’m nobody’s second-class citizen, and I don’t appreciate being treated as such,” Moore said.

Reeves — who is also African-American — said he is considering two questions as he decides whether to give more thorough consideration to Moore’s lawsuit or to dismiss it.

One question is whether Moore has legal standing to sue the state, including whether Moore can prove he has been harmed because of the flag. The other question is whether flag design is an issue that can be decided by a court.

Reeves asked attorneys dozens of questions on both points Tuesday.

An assistant state attorney general, Doug Miracle, argued flag design is a political question that should be decided by the Legislature.

“The issue is not one of whether the legislative branch will act,” Miracle said. “The issue is whether it is capable and it is better suited.”

Mississippi has used the same flag since 1894, and its upper left corner has the Confederate battle emblem — a red field topped by a blue X dotted with 13 white starts. Voters chose to keep the banner in a 2001 referendum, and it’s the last state flag in the nation to prominently feature the emblem.

The public display of Confederate symbols has come under sharp debate since last summer, when nine black worshippers were massacred at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The man charged in the slayings had the Confederate battle flag in photos of him published online.

Moore filed his lawsuit in February, days after legislative leaders declined to have the state House and Senate debate bills that would have either removed the Confederate emblem from the flag or punished public entities that refuse to fly it. Several local governments and some universities have taken down the flag since last summer. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has said he supports the results of the 2001 vote but if the flag is to be changed, it should be done by a statewide vote.

Reeves didn’t say when he will rule on the arguments he heard Tuesday, but he noted they took place on the anniversary of the first shots of the Civil War being fired in 1861 at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

“We’re still arguing about a flag in 2016 and arguing about a flag that is anti-American,” Reeves said. He said the Confederate battle flag was one symbol of those who fought to secede from the United States.

The judge also said the battle emblem is a symbol of the Confederacy, “which is anathema to anybody who lives within the 21st century.”





Our History Helps to Define Who We Are

By Larry French


Making Re-enacting Relevant history helps to define who we are. That can also work the other way around.  Take for instance the amount of misinformation our electronic media can spread. How many of you have been duped into believing a post about something that turned out to be erroneous or a complete hoax?


Well, just as there are 're-enactor isms' in our hobby there are also misrepresentations and other miscommunications that we perpetuate. Re-enacting is not just all about a bunch of grown men playing 'army' and camping out on the weekend. The hobby came about in an effort to memorialize important events in our past. In a sense re-enacting attempts to create a living history to make such monumental events and words such as Lincoln's ". . . the world will little note nor long remember what we say here. . ." into vivid illustrations for our collective memory.

What we do is remembered and it can have a lasting impression on others. That's what events in time do for us. They help us to remember and hopefully learn from our history. This is all the more reason why we as re-enactors must be actively involved in educational activities when we do our portrayal. Each time we dawn a uniform or civilian garb we create a window of learning opportunity. If you or your unit are not seizing these moments to share more than the conflict our presence represents then you are merely playing games.

For real learning of the lessons of our history to take place we must learn more about what we ourselves portray. We need to know about how the people lived and be able to relate it to our present.


Think about. If we cannot relate to others the relevancy of what we do and why then we are truly doing disservice to all of those who died to give us the heritage we have today.


Larry French

French is a veteran re-enactor with the 2nd Florida Volunteers Co. E, historian, writer, and executive director of the West Volusia Historical Society. His novel, Time Will Tell: The Awakening blends his knowledge of history and re-enacting into a time travel adventure set at the ending of the War Between the States.





War monument smashed into pieces at Florida park;

Gainesville Veterans Memorial Vandalized

By David Williams

Published April 13, 2016 - Gainesville, FL


(Yes….I know….this is Reenacting related.  But it is still relevant to historical preservation & ALL of our veterans deserve to

honored and remembered.  Hope they catch these cowards!)


Veterans in Florida say they're disgusted that someone apparently stormed a war memorial in Gainesville and smashed some of it to pieces over the weekend.



The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office said the vandals hit over the weekend at the Freedom Community Center, in Gainesville.  The vandalism is tough for Terry Fitzpatrick to stomach.  “Instant anger,” the Korean War Veteran said.


Fitzpatrick explained, “One has to assume they’re not the brightest lights in the harbor. There’s something wrong with people that do that.”


The "Walk Through Time" monument honors people who died while serving in Operations Enduring Freedom & Iraqi Freedom. The names of 14 local service members who died are on the brick and granite monument.


Korean War Veteran, Eddie Thomas, is disgusted.


“It’s sickening. Nobody should want to do something like that,” Thomas said. “Why destroy something for somebody that gave their lives?”


Alachua County Veterans Services Director Kim Smith said the plan is to fix the monument, which will cost more than $2,000.


“It is disappointing that someone would desecrate a memorial that is to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  Alachua County citizens have always been very supportive of the Veteran Community,” Smith told FOX 35.


Smith said the plans are already in place to renovate the entire monument.  If police find a suspect he or she could face felony charges.


Photo Gainesville veterans memorial vandalized

“You’re cowards,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s what I say. You’re cowards. You definitely do not understand the history of this country.”


If you have information, the Sheriff’s Office asks that you call 352-955-1818.





Excommunicated from the Union:
How the Civil War Created a Separate Catholic America

Review written by Stuart McClung there is still considerable subject material to be covered in the way of military history in the Civil War, there has been a proliferation of publications in recent years when it comes to the social, cultural, political and religious history of the conflict. In this case, author William B. Kurtz focuses on an important topic of the last which, by and large, has yet to receive its due. 


Notwithstanding the presumed intention of religious freedom and tolerance in early America, many of the early colonists came here to get away from what they perceived as a church which was ruled by a leader, the pope, who expected more obedience to religious doctrine, dogma and policy from its members than to the existing polity, be it democratic or monarchic.


These eventual citizens believed that Catholics would not fit in with, accept or submit to the established republican form of government and society developed after the Revolution. Their opposition to Catholicism and its rituals was anathema to the point that it was only in 1960 that the first Catholic President was elected in the United States: John F. Kennedy. As it was, much of the opposition came from nativist Americans who refused to accept Catholics as equals and made considerable efforts to exclude them from society as a result.


Not surprisingly, it became the goal of Catholic adherents, native, Irish and German, to be worthy and acceptable to the country as a whole in order to fully realize their portion of the American dream. To that end, their efforts were directed toward making their own multiple sacrifices on their country’s altar although they were ultimately not to be altogether helpful or successful, for various reasons, at least not until the 20th Century.


Their efforts were not helped by the so-called San Patricio Battalion in the Mexican-American War of the mid-1840s, some of whose members were Catholic, went over to the Mexicans and eventually executed for desertion. It only served to reinforce nativist perceptions going forward into the next decade.


By the time of the firing on Fort Sumter, Catholics were more aligned with the Democratic Party yet many saw opportunity in rallying to the flag as the Republican administration of Abraham Lincoln sought to combat the rebellion. Unfortunately, divisions in the Catholic community mirrored those in the rest of Northern society as individual leaders, journals, newspapers and other publications sought, for various reasons, to sway the laity.


Even as many Catholic men served as soldiers in the U.S. Army, and offered their blood in the struggle, many others did not. There were also many complaints from these soldiers that their religious needs were not being met. Consequently, a drive was conducted to ensure that priests would be available to serve as army chaplains and nuns as nurses to the wounded in the many hospitals. These were intended as much to cater to the necessities of the war effort as to make sacrifices to demonstrate their loyalty to the flag.


Again, as with the rest of society, Catholics were further divided by the issue of slavery and opposition to the war and the policies of the Lincoln administration and only served to reinforce perceptions that Catholics were unworthy of inclusion in every day American society. Considering the continuing post-war anti-Catholicism consequently, this left the Catholic community to its own devices when it came to remembering its wartime contributions. With those contributions ignored or minimized, they were once again denied what they believed to be their rightful and accepted place in America and ultimately remained apart from the American mainstream.


The notes exhibit an extensive bibliography in primary sources of contemporary newspapers, journals, letters, etc. and the text is interspersed with photographs and illustrations of many Catholic notables such as General William Rosecrans, theologian and editor Orestes Brownson and John Hughes, Archbishop of New York, among others. Included as well are three appendices which list the many Catholic publications and their circulation, the names and units of as many of the known chaplains (think William Corby) who served in the army as well as the religious communities whose nuns served as nurses.


This is a welcome and well-written addition to the Fordham University Press’ series on the North’s Civil War, a series which has covered a wide variety of biographical, political, ethnic, cultural and other topics and exposes interested readers to much more than the standard military coverage. 


Title: Excommunicated from the Union: How the Civil War Created a Separate Catholic America

Author: William B. Kurtz

Publisher: Fordham University Press

Pages: 250

Price: $35.00






Cheap Thrills

A Brief Introduction to 19th Century Entertainment

By Ralph Epifanio





Impresario P.T. Barnum (1810-1891)--entertainer, exhibitor, museum owner, and circus founder--aptly lived up to his title "The Great American Showman." Although he might have been the most traveled man in 19th century America, while in pursuit of that unparalleled career, he never failed to drift back to Connecticut, either to rest, conjure up his next scheme, or find solace from a demanding--and sometimes angry--public.


Born in Bethel, Connecticut, Barnum's body now lies less than a half hour car ride south, in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport.  That New England city, former winter quarters of the Barnum Circus, is now home to "The Barnum Museum," where his name continues to draw curiosity seekers as it has for nearly 200 years.


In the following timeline of his life, we can see that Barnum's road to fame and fortune was paved by the exhibition of those misfortunate people born with what can summarily be described as severe birth defects. Then, they were known simply as "freaks."


1810 - Phineas Taylor Barnum was born on July 5th to parents Philo and Irene Taylor Barnum in Bethel, Connecticut. Irene was Philo's second wife, and Phineas their first child together.


1825 -After the death of his father, Phineas went to work in a country store. In the years that followed, his employment included--among other things--store clerk, running a boarding house, lottery sales, and newspaper work, where his affinity for libel landed him in jail--reportedly more than once.


1829 - Phineas married Charity Hallett. They were married 44 years and had four children together.

1829 - On August 16th, the USS Sachem arrived in Boston with conjoined, 18 year old Chinese twins Chang and Eng (their names ostensibly meaning left and right). Discovered by Scottish merchant Robert Hunter in Siam (hence the term "Siamese twins"), they quickly became the most famous "Kid Show"1 in history.  Their career proved so successful, in fact, that its first phase spanned only a decade before the twins saved enough money to retire. Adopting the American surname Bunker and becoming American citizens, they settled in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. There they bought land and slaves, and began farming a tobacco plantation. In 1843, the twins married the Yates sisters: Chang married Adelaide, and Eng, Sally. At first there was one house and one marriage bed--and a big one at that--but adjustments had to be made, and they settled on two homes, with the brothers making alternating, consecutive three-day visits to their now separately-housed wives. Here, just over the southern border of central Virginia--despite being dark-skinned interlopers in the racially charged South--they managed to carve out a successful life.


1834 - Phineas and family moved to NYC, where Barnum opened his Scientific and Musical Theater.


1835 - Barnum purchased and exhibited a blind and nearly paralyzed slave woman, Joice Heth. Despite incredulity at a claim she was the 161 year old former nurse of George Washington, crowds flocked to bear witness to the phrase "There's a sucker  born every minute." Although not attributed to Barnum, that phrase nonetheless describes one key to his ongoing success. Upon being autopsied--for which Barnum sold tickets--it was decided that Heth was half her purported age. Nonplussed, Barnum shared his own "outrage" at being duped, and channeled that into a career exposing such charlatans; proving himself a fox in more ways than one.


1841 - Barnum purchased "Scudder's American Museum" (at Broadway and Ann St.), in Manhattan (then the only borough that carried the title of New York City), renaming it "Barnum's American Museum." It would evolve into the most popular museum in New York City, if not America.


1842 - "From 1842 until 1865, the American Museum grew into an enormous enterprise, and was promoted as having 850,000 exhibits and curiosities throughout the (seven) salons. The Museum occupied four conjoined buildings where workshops and laboratories were arranged to prepare exhibits. A wax-figure department to produce likenesses of notable personalities of the day, a taxidermy department and aquarium"--


--the very idea of an aquarium purportedly Barnum's--"were in operation, and an elaborate set-design department satisfied the demands for an active public theater. Amidst the performers, lecturers, and living curiosities were a host of exhibitors, demonstrating various skills and crafts, as well as new technological devices. A continual stream of changing exhibitions ranging from talking machines, panoramas of Niagara Falls, Paris and Peru, ivory carvers, glass blowers, sewing machine operators, musicians, and ballerinas entertained the masses."1 Huge crowds flocked to fill its halls. Often packed to capacity, in order to "make room" for more paying customers, Barnum erected signs that read "THIS WAY TO EGRESS," with an arrow. Visitors, thinking it was a display of some kind, followed the signs, then passed through a one-way door, only to find themselves locked outside.


1842 - Barnum opened his display of the "Feejee Mermaid." Probably  the most famous hoax  in history, this monstrosity --unbeknownst to the public that paid to see it--was created somewhere in the "South Seas" by sewing the head and torso of a female monkey to the tail of a fish. It was first sold to a Capt. Eddes, after whose passing his son  sold it to Moses Kimball, who, in turn, displayed it in his Boston Museum. Barnum leased it for $12.50 a week and, subsequently--after a brilliant advertising campaign--its display added to his growing fortune. Its absurdity contributed to a well-known cartoon of the showman: the "humbug," with the body of a beetle and a head that reflected Barnum's likeness.



 1842 - For $3.00 a week (plus room and board for the mother and son)--which he continually increased over time--P.T. hired Sherwood and Cynthia Stratton's four year old Charles, who had "stopped growing" at six months of age.  This 25" tall, 15 pound "Lilliputian" became known as "General Tom Thumb," one of the most famous of Barnum's "discoveries." Barnum advertised him as being eleven. Thus began a lifelong relationship between Barnum and his protégé. Ironically, Stratton was from Bridgeport, Ct., the city long linked to Barnum. The ongoing promotion of "little people" in general, and Tom Thumb in particular, grew to become some of Barnum's most successful enterprises.



1843 - American Indian dancer fu-Hum-Me was signed on to the museum.

1850-51 - Beguiled by the "Swedish Nightingale," Jenny Lind, Barnum signed the coloratura soprano2 to a two year contract for a guaranteed $1000 per performance (plus generous fringe benefits),  then pre-paid her "$187,500 deposited in a London bank before she left Europe."3 Barnum's ingenious publicity campaign produced an estimated crowd of 30-40,000 people to greet Lind upon arrival of her ship. On opening night, September 11, 1850, 5000 people packed New York's Castle Garden to see her. "The New York Herald declared, 'Jenny Lind is the most popular woman in the world at this moment'."2 When they parted company nine months later, well shy of their agreed upon contract, they had grossed $712, 161.43.2 While Barnum got rich on his share, Lind donated most of hers to numerous charities, among which was free schools for Swedish girls. She subsequently returned to Europe, married her pianist (thus becoming Mrs. Otto Lind-Goldsmith), had three children together, and gave occasional concerts. Later in life she became a singing teacher at the Royal College of Music in London.


 1850s - Civic-minded Barnum began his development plans for East Bridgeport, Connecticut. Inventor Chauncey Jerome, who had developed a stamped, brass-geared (instead of wooden, gear-driven) clock--eventually increasing his factory's production to nearly half a million clocks a year--was convinced by Barnum to move to his East Bridgeport industrial area. As a result of that move, and a large loan by Barnum, the most successful clock maker in the world (Jerome) joined forces with the world's most successful entertainer (Barnum)...which bankrupted them both.


 1851 - Millie and Christine McKoy--variously billed as "The Carolina Twins," "The Two-Headed Nightingale," or "The Eighth Wonder of the World," were born on July 11, 1851 in Whiteville, North Carolina to slaves Jacob and Monemia McKoy. When they were ten months old they were sold by their owner, Jabez McKay--a blacksmith--for $200. They were passed down, until in the possession of Joseph Pearson Smith. "By the age of three, they were appearing in P.T. Barnum's famed American Museum in New York City. At some point, one of the showmen charged with exhibiting the twins stole them away from Smith and took them to England. Smith eventually found the girls and, with their mother Monemia at his side, sued to regain custody of them. He won this suit"--slavery had been outlawed in the British Empire in 1833--"and the sisters returned to Wadesboro, North Carolina, where Smith had relocated the girls' parents and siblings. Smith's wife taught Millie and Christine how to read, write, sing,"--Millie sang contralto2 and Christine soprano--"dance, and play the piano; she also taught them to deliver recitations in German and French."  Taking a cue from the girls, each of whom called themselves "I," Smith began publicizing them as a  single person with two heads--"Millie-Christine"--and used their ever-increasing theatrical skills to gain lasting fame and fortune.


At some point during the Civil War, Smith, acting on concerns that Union troops might seek an opportunity to seize the twins as contraband, he hid them in the countryside near Spartanburg, S.C.2 Later on, after Emancipation gave the twins the freedom to leave, they decided to remain with the Smiths.2


1852 - Barnum's Bridgeport mansion, Iranistan, designed as a Moorish mansion, was badly damaged by fire.


1855 - "'The National Baby Show' became one of the American Museum’s most popular  competitions. The first baby show in June, 1855 attracted more than 60,000 patrons eager to view the 143 contestants who were to be judged 'especially on the crowning merit of their being genuine original American stock' (omitting from the competition infants deemed too poor or 'foreign' in appearance). Following up on his success in New York, Barnum quickly staged baby shows in several other cities. Despite Barnum’s attempts to portray the shows as grounded in scientific inquiry (contestants answered questions about hygiene, diet, and exercise), many middle-class observers questioned the propriety of displaying mothers and children for commercial gain."2 Barnum, however, did not stop with babies; during his career he added beauty pageants, flower shows, poultry contests, etc.



1855 - Though only forty-five years old, P.T. Barnum published his autobiography, "My Life." As the years passed, he added to it, eventually selling somewhere in the neighborhood of a million copies.


1857 - Iranistan burned to the ground. Worth a reported $150,000, it was insured for only $28,000.


1860 - Barnum participated in rallies for presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln.2


1860 - Barnum introduced the world to Mr. William Henry Johnson, a microcephalic black dwarf, whom he labeled the "monkey man" (also known as "Zip the Pinhead").


1860  - Chang and Eng now had 21 children--or 22, depending on the source--between them. (Two of the boys eventually fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.) But with such large families, and the costs associated with them--their families hoped to send as many of them to college as they could--in the fall of 1860 they sought out P.T. Barnum, and agreed to appear at his museum. (However) "Chang and Eng hated Barnum on sight and continued to despise him throughout their long association. They disliked him"--and he, them--"almost as much as they disliked each other--which was really saying something, since the two men fought, both publically and privately, from the time they learned to walk until the day they died.....According to a newspaper article which was published at the height of their career, Chang and Eng agreed on only one thing, and that was that they disagreed about everything else....Chang, for example, was a confirmed alcoholic, and almost perpetually hung over. Eng never touched the stuff."2 Chang was a lady-chaser; Eng was not. Chang ate spicy oriental dishes, Eng was a vegetarian. Chang was outspoken and never read; Eng was more of an intellectual. At one point, they got into such a knock-down, drag-out fight in Barnum's Museum that they were supposedly arrested. In the end, their association with Barnum lasted but six weeks, at which time Chang and Eng Bunker went off on their own, less successful, tour.


1861 - While Tom Thumb was absent on tour, Barnum hired Manchester, New Hampshire-born George Washington Morrison Nutt--alias "Commodore Nutt"--to work at his museum. Nutt, 13 years old, was 29" tall, and was mistaken by the public as being Tom Thumb. Even after Barnum went through the trouble of putting them on the stage together, suspicions persisted.


1862 - "During the darkest days of the American Civil War in November 1862, President Abraham Lincoln invited Barnum and Nutt to the White House. Entering the Washington, D.C. dwelling, the showman was told the President was in a special cabinet meeting, but had left word to have Barnum and his little companion announced when they arrived. Barnum realized his visit may have been something of an imposition upon the busy President, and made a mental note to keep his visit brief. The visitors were announced, and Lincoln interrupted his cabinet session to greet Barnum and Nutt."2




 1862 - Barnum signed giantess Anna Harning Swan-Bates, who was estimated as having been over eight feet tall. She was married to Confederate Captain Martin Van Buren Bates, who, at 7'11" and close to 500 pounds was the largest man in either army, and, according to an ancestor, a Nutt descendent.2 (Could this giant have been related to George Nutt?) Anna, 18 pounds at birth, was twice pregnant. The first child was an 18 pound, 27" (stillborn) girl, and the second a 22 pound, 28" long  boy, who died shortly after birth.








1863 - Barnum signed Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, of Middleborough, Massachusetts; she was, at the time, a teacher in Marlboro, Mass.  Lavinia, as she was known, was 21 years old, 32" tall,  and weighed 29 pounds. Barnum  dressed her up as if she were going to a ball, and billed her "The Queen of Beauty." That is pretty much how 15 year old George Nutt saw her. With hormone levels that belied his true stature, George made quite a pest of himself, even having a fistfight with then 25  year old Charles (Tom Thumb) over her affections. In the end, General Tom Thumb and Queen Lavinia Warren were wed, with Nutt serving as best man and Lavinia's sister Minnie (shortest of all) standing in as maid of honor. The February 10th "Fairy Wedding," as Barnum called it, was attended by an estimated 2000 seated "guests," with many more hopeful viewers  craning their necks from outside New York's Grace Episcopal Church. Among the notables attending were Mrs. John Jacob Astor, Mrs. (Commodore) William Vanderbilt, Mrs. Horace Greely, and General Ambrose Burnside.2 For Burnside, especially, it had been an especially busy social season: Fredericksburg in December, his "Mud March" in January, and a "Fairy Wedding" in February. A footnote to all this was that after their wedding reception at the Metropolitan Hotel (for which Barnum charged a reported $75 for each of the 5000 tickets he sold), the happy couple went on an extended "wedding tour." While in Washington DC, none other than President Abraham Lincoln threw them a reception at the White House. While Abe "bent" to greet them, and his son Tad was enthralled by the whole thing--he supposedly made the comment that Lavinia reminded him of a "mini-Mamma"--son Robert apparently was appalled, and skipped the whole affair.1



 1863 - 64 - While part of a traveling theater company performing in Kentucky, actress and would-be spy Pauline Cushman was able to endear herself to Confederate officials.  First getting clearance from a Union provost, it wasn't long before she had the attention she desired. "Sometimes posing as a woman and other times as a young gentleman, Pauline Cushman was able to gain the confidence of high-level Confederate officers and eavesdrop on their conversations. In June 1863, while visiting the camp of Confederate General Braxton Bragg, she discovered his battle plans and tucked them in her shoe. Unfortunately, she aroused suspicion and was arrested. Using her acting skills and feminine charms, she almost escaped, but the battle plans were discovered. General Bragg initially hesitated trying a woman, but the evidence was too damning—Cushman was tried, convicted and sentenced to hang. Awaiting her fate, Pauline Cushman became sick—or possibly faked illness—and her execution was delayed. Eventually, Union troops converged on the area and the Confederate army left her to be rescued. With her cover blown, her spying days were over, but she received commendations from General James A. Garfield (future president of the United States) and President Abraham Lincoln, and was awarded the rank of Brevet-Major."3 Now well-known, she retreated to the North, and Union man P.T. Barnum offered his museum lecture hall as a venue to give a presentation about her "thrilling adventures in the South."


1864 - New York City was, and always had been, a center for Southern support. Besides the twin shipping interests of cotton and slaves, New York was strongly Democratic, with Copperhead leanings. "November 25, 1864 promised to be a day of celebration. For more than 80 years the date had been remembered as Evacuation Day, the day when the British abandoned New York City during the Revolutionary War. And this year it marked the first time the three famous acting brothers, Edwin Booth, Junius Booth, Jr., and John Wilkes Booth had performed together. They were putting aside their own political differences to perform together at the Winter Garden Theatre in Shakespeare's play about an assassination, Julius Caesar. (Five months later, the irony of that would come full circle.) The production was a benefit to raise funds for a fine bronze sculpture of Shakespeare for Central Park. Yet this Evacuation Day would be remembered for another reason. That evening Confederate agents planned to set New York City aflame.... This audacious plot quickly fell apart. Union forces, tipped off by an informer, discovered the scheme, and troops under General Benjamin Butler marched into the city to maintain order."3 The plan, however, went forward.


Besides events like Cushing's lecture, Barnum had, on display, provocative images that were embarrassing to the South. His strong Union support made him a target. “Shortly after 9:00 an employee of Barnum’s Museum noticed a flash of fire on the fifth-floor staircase. His cry of fire ‘ran through the Lecture Room, startling everyone and causing the most intense excitement,’ said the New York Herald. ‘Almost before any of those in the Lecture Room could get out the fire had been extinguished, but this did not seem to allay the excitement . . . . The giantess became so alarmed that she ran down the main stairs into the street, and took refuge in Powers’ Hotel.’"3

1864 - Barnum introduced Zaluma Agra. The first of many local women whom he hired,  teased their hair, and displayed  as "Circassian Beauties." Legendary symbols of feminine charm, the term can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when the idealized women of the northern Caucuses were highly sought as slaves and concubines. The idea of seeing such a long-standing subject of literary themes titillated both male and female viewers alike...while Barnum cashed in on their "charms."


1865 - P.T. continued his anti-Confederacy campaign.  "Barnum exhibited a wax figure known as the Belle of Richmond, located in the Picture Gallery, which purported to present Jefferson Davis in the condition in which he was captured by Union forces in May, 1865 (disguised in his wife's clothing). Its accompanying archive includes numerous political cartoons lampooning the defeated Confederate President. (The New York Times' account of the fire that destroyed the American Museum details the Belle of Richmond's fate.) In the Waxworks Room, Barnum displayed a small cannon and a draft wheel, of the type used to select Union Army conscripts; related archive materials covering the New York City draft riots of July, 1863. A wax figure of Robert Cobb Kennedy, also located in the Waxworks Room, leads to newspaper accounts of the foiled 1864 plot by Confederate sympathizers to burn down major public buildings in New York, including the American Museum. A number of items relating to the Civil War (many with related Archive documents) hang on one wall in the Waxworks Room: a memorial version of the program from Ford's Theatre that commemorates the April, 1865 death of President Lincoln; a “Wanted” poster from the days following Lincoln's death; a photograph of Lincoln assassination accomplice Lewis Payne; a portrait of African-American war hero Robert Smalls; a Union Army recruiting poster; a poster advertising Pauline Cushman's lectures on her experiences behind Confederate lines as a military spy; portraits of Union military commanders; lithographs from the U.S. Sanitary Commission; a portrait of Frederick Douglass; and a lithograph of an infamous painting of John Brown going to his execution. An adjoining wall, between the windows, holds photographs of battlefield dead from the Alexander Gardner studio. Finally, the podium in the Lecture Room holds a page from a speech on Reconstruction (the entire address can be found in the Archive), that introduces the questions of suffrage and the terms of political reunification that the nation faced as soon as the guns fell silent. Barnum's own speech on the subject of 'negro suffrage,' delivered to the Connecticut state legislature, also introduces some of the key issues of the Reconstruction period."3




"On Thursday, July 13, 1865, in one of the most spectacular fires in New York's history, Barnum's American Museum was destroyed."3  In a chaotic scene, hundreds of visitors and employees spilled out onto Broadway and adjacent streets. Terrified animals leaped from windows, only to be shot by police. Giantess Anna Swan had to be lifted free of the burning structure by a nearby, commandeered crane. Priceless artifacts, from all parts of the world, including irreplaceable Revolutionary War relics, were lost forever. It was a tragedy beyond description.


Although there were many theories as to the cause of this fire, the 1864 Confederate attack weighs heavily on the suspicion of arson by one or more Barnum "enemies."  In following the timeline, the name P.T. Barnum seems synonymous with that of costly fires.


1865 - P.T. Barnum was elected to the first of four terms to the Connecticut State Legislature.


1868 - "Barnum attempted to re-launch the museum at 539-541 Broadway, but it, too, was destroyed in a fire."4


1868 - Barnum suggested--and the Bunker twins accepted--that a tour of Europe would be in their mutual best interests. Aside from a much-needed financial gain, the possibility of finding medical assistance in permanently separating them held out hope. They were nearing the end of their unnatural life together, with the tragedy of one's death prematurely ending the other's life more and more likely. The tour, however, ended their quest for a safe separation. They returned to America, and their soon to be realized fate.


1869 - Barnum built his third house, Waldemere (Woods by the Sea).


1869 - 72 - His popular museum(s) now ashes, Barnum joined the "General Tom Thumb  Company's Round the World Tour," traveling 55, 487 miles, visiting 587 cities, performing 1471 times, and returning with an $80,000 profit. Barnum's idea was no doubt linked to the driving of the trans-continental "golden spike" in Promontory, Utah, on May 10th of that year. Is it possible that Barnum's tour was the inspiration for other famous "Round the World" adventures, such as in Jules Verne's novel, "Around the World in 80 Days" (1873), or that of another great showman, Albert Spalding, in his 1888 World Baseball Tour?


1870 - "On April 10, 1871, P.T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan,  and Circus opened in Brooklyn....As the wheels of Barnum's The Greatest Show on Earth continued to gain momentum, he secured a site as a permanent home....Opening on April 30, 1874, the New York Hippodrome, later to be known as Madison Square Garden, was the largest (indoor) amusement structure ever built, seating 10,000...."3



circa 1870 - 1900 - "The Two-Headed Nightingale," Millie-Christine, joined the "Barnum family of performers" in his namesake circus. Later in life, they retired to a Columbus County farm, not far from where they had been born. According to John Carrie, a neighbor, "They bought a nearby farm located on present day Mille-Christine Rd., off of Red Hill Road."3



1872 - "The Hippotheatron—a multisided wood-and-iron building in New York that Barnum purchased for part of his Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus—burned, killing most of the animals."4


1873 - While on tour in Chicago, one of the Barnum Circus tents burned.


1873 -  Charity Barnum, age 65,  died of heart failure on November 19th.


1874 - "On February 14th,  just 13 weeks and two days after Charity's death,  Barnum married 22 year old Nancy Fish."3


1874 - Chang, incapacitated because of a stroke suffered on the trip to England, and his heavy drinking since, sunk into a deathly sleep on the night of January 17th. When Eng  awoke to find him gone, he knew that he too was not long for this world, blurting out, "Then I am going." Despite a doctor's attempt to reach the Bunker home in time to separate the living brother from the dead one, he was too late. Whether Eng died of shock or fright has never been determined, but the end was the same. They are now buried in the home town of latter day actor, Andy Griffith: White Plains, North Carolina.


"Chang and Eng Bunker were arguably the 19th century's best known Asian figures, enjoying a level of class and geographical mobility that was unprecedented for others who were similarly racially situated."3


1875 - P.T. Barnum was elected mayor of Bridgeport.


1878 - On March 15th, Bridgeport Hospital was incorporated, and Barnum, who was instrumental in its founding, became its first president.


1881 - Barnum's circus combined with that of James Bailey's circus, The Great London Show, and subsequently opened in New York.


1882 - Barnum purchased Jumbo the elephant from the London Zoo for $10,000. Born in 1869 in East Africa, the baby elephant was captured by animal traders and slowly made his way to Italy, Germany, Paris, and finally--due to failing health--to London, where his caretaker, Matthew Scott, brought the elephant back to health. The name Jumbo did not originally have anything to do with his size, as he was a still-small elephant when he was named.  Rather, in Africa, the term "mumbo jumbo" means deity, and the same zoo that named him Jumbo named a gorilla mumbo.


As he grew to maturity--and his huge size--so did his popularity. In his sixteen years at the London Zoo, he gave rides to literally tens of thousands of children. Among them were young Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, and even the children of Queen Victoria. So it was not surprising that the people of London did not surrender him without a fight. Leave it to P.T. Barnum to pry him away.


When Jumbo arrived by ship, an estimated 10,000 people followed him to his new home in Manhattan. Quite possibly the largest elephant ever seen by a mass audience, Jumbo was 11 1/2 feet tall and weighed a reported 6 1/2 tons. The animal grossed $336,000 in six months, and the Barnum Circus attendance for that year broke all previous records. Even his name, "Jumbo," became a significant marketing tool for the era, describing anything that was significantly large, and, for that matter, still carries that connotation.





Tragically, Jumbo was killed by a train in St. Johns, Ontario, Canada, in September, 1885. Barnum, and all America, grieved. However, the showman had the pachyderm stuffed and his skeleton mounted, and continued to tour with the silent, but still famous Jumbo(s). In 1889, Barnum donated the Jumbo skeleton to the Smithsonian, and "loaned" the stuffed Jumbo to Tufts University, in Medford, Massachusetts, where athletes and would-be scholars paid it timely visits: the athletes before games, the  students before exams. Unfortunately, on April 14, 1975, Barnum Hall--and Jumbo's remains--were consumed by a fire. Afterwards, a fast-moving secretary named Phyllis Burns managed to scoop some of Jumbo's ashes into a Peter Pan peanut butter container for future inspiration. ("Jumbo in a Jar"--one of the few things that P.T.B. is not known for!) According to Tufts' administrator Carolyn Resendes, this relic remains safe in the office of John Morris, the athletic director. "Jumbo Pride" remains Tufts' mascot.3


1883 - "General Tom Thumb" died of a stroke on July 15th, and was interred in Bridgeport's Barnum-designed Mountain Grove Cemetery. His funeral was reportedly attended by 20,000 mourners.


1887 - "Their (Barnum and Bailey's) winter quarters in Bridgeport, Connecticut, which contained several buildings that housed numerous animals, burned. The fire started around 10 pm in the main building but spread to the other buildings, killing most of the animals. A reporter for the New York Times wrote, 'The watchman making his rounds discovered the fire and started to give the alarm, when some unknown person hit him on the head with a blunt instrument, felling him to the ground and cutting a number of severe gashes on his head. He staggered to his feet and gave the alarm, enabling the other watchmen in the building, who were preparing for bed, to escape.'"1 One has to ask, what was it with Barnum and fires?


1887 - Barnum divided his partnership with Bailey, creating the Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show on Earth, but stepped back to allow his partner control.


1888 - Anna Swan died on August 5th, one day short of her 42nd birthday.


1890 - Barnum suffered a stroke.


1891 - On his last day of life, April 7, 1891, Barnum--true to form--inquired about that day's gate receipts at Madison Square Garden, and subsequently died. He is buried in Bridgeport's Mountain Grove Cemetery, the same resting place as his lifelong friend, "General Tom Thumb."


1893 - The Barnum Institute of Science and History opened its doors to the public on February 18th. Sadly, P.T. Barnum did not live to see it.  Still standing at 820 Main Street, Bridgeport (and listed in the National Registry of Historic Places), it is called The Barnum Museum. (For visitor's information, call 203-331-1104.)


1897 - Martin Van Buren Bates re-married.  Beyond photographs, Anna Laron Weatherby's height remains a mystery, but in those she appears to be of average stature.


1900 -  Barnum & Bailey's Circus, Bridgeport, Connecticut winter quarters was damaged by fire.


1906 - While still managing his and Barnum's namesake circus, James Bailey died.


1907 - The Kings of the Circus World, the Ringling brothers, purchased the Barnum and Bailey Circus.



1910 - On May 10th, during a Schenectady, New York matinee, Barnum & Bailey 's big top caught fire, forcing an estimated 15,000 spectators to flee for their lives. The eleventh fire to plague the P.T. Barnum name, it was hardly the last.  Fires in 1924 (Bridgeport Winter Quarters, causing $100,000 in damage), 1942 (a menagerie tent fire killed 40 animals), 1944 (the great Hartford tent conflagration, killing 167 and injuring 700)1, and the aforementioned Tufts fire, which, including the fire in his first (Bethel) home, total 15. The Barnum name seems to carry with it some really bad luck, so much so that it might be mistaken for "Burnum."


1911 - Millie McKoy contracted tuberculosis; she died on October 8, 1812. Despite being given a massive dose of morphine to ease her inevitable passing, Christine incredibly hung on for hours before she too succumbed to "death by association."


"Chrissie's strong body fought to stay alive. Some accounts say she lingered eight hours, others seventeen. Dr. Crowell's opiates soothed her as the night dragged on. She sang hymns--her voice rising and falling alone without Millie's rich contralto--and prayed for release."1


"The twins were buried in a double coffin. The grave marker is inscribed: 'A soul with two thoughts. Two hearts that beat as one.'"


1919 - Two great circuses became one: The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus are created. Martin Van Buren Bates died of nephritis.


Although the phrase "A sucker is born every minute" is not directly attributable to P.T. Barnum, if it had, it might very well have been himself that he was describing. It would seem that among the many lives he touched, those closest to him were labeled "freaks" by society at large. Left to suffer the stares and comments of others--and the cruelty that this notice conjures--because of their disabilities they would  have led a lonely existence had they not attracted Barnum's interest. Certainly Barnum would not have been the success he was without them.


Out in the public eye, of course, they were seen more, and that exposure worked two ways. In the very least, they were accepted by each other. Consider the Bates-Swan marriage; how else would two eight-foot tall people, from different countries, have met?  This kind of marriage, among side-show entertainers, was, and is, fairly common.


Evidence points to a number of Barnum's entourage having found a permanent place in society. Conjoined twins Chang and Eng, and Millie-Christine, were accepted in their respective communities, and both the Bunkers and McKoys, people of color, did so in the 19th century rural South. At that time, the majority of Americans treated Orientals with disdain; and while emancipation might have freed the Negro, it didn't automatically grant his acceptance. The following is from the aforementioned NCpedia, where, generations later, John Carey, a descendent of their former owner, Jabez McKay, wrote:


"My uncle and father both saw them many times and my Great Aunt Lucy McKay Hutchinson knew all about them and knew them personally. They loved all people including white people. They gave my uncle a gold piece when he was a child. Everyone loved Millie-Christine."1


America certainly adored Barnum's people. The Stratton-Warren marriage was attended by thousands; George Nutt,--twice--Charles and Lavinia, and Lavinia's sister Minnie were feted by President Lincoln; the McKoys, likewise, by the Crown Heads of Europe, among them Queen Victoria--who gave them matching broaches. The Bates-Swan wedding, which was in London, also attracted the attention of Queen Victoria, who reportedly gave each a $1000, oversized watch.


It is implied, among some sources, that Martin Van Buren Bates--a 7'11", 476 pound soldier, who was a target for Union guns if there ever was one--owed his rapid rise in rank to the fact that he was different. This "Kentucky Giant," formerly a teacher, enlisted on November 1, 1861. His first assignment was to Company F, 5th Kentucky Regiment, but from there he became a member of several other fighting forces. "Martin made quite a name for himself during the war. He used two colossal .71 caliber horse pistols that had been made especially for him at the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond. He wore them strapped across his chest in black leather holsters. He had a saber that was 18 inches longer than the standard weapon. He rode a huge Percheron horse that he took from a German farmer in Pennsylvania....He engaged in battles over much of the south and his fame spread among the 'Yankees' who talked a great deal about 'that Confederate Giant who was as big as five men and fights like fifty.' He was severely wounded in  a battle around the Cumberland Gap area and was also captured, although he later escaped."1


Eventually, Bates rose to the rank of captain, either through aggressive fighting, his noticeable size, or a combination of the two (opinions vary). Hints at his participation in post-war guerilla warfare point to his reason for fleeing his native state and eventually joining the circus.

How different were these people than today's professional athletes, who offer themselves as spectacles for the millions of people who contribute to their personal wealth? Baseball players, in fact, dedicate their lives in the hope of eventually reaching the major leagues, which they call "The Show," and NFL football players--oversized, modern day gladiators play an injury-shortened career--and risk lifetime disability--while performing. NBA players, the "giants" of today, earn their share of the public spotlight, and are paid huge sums of money, mostly due to the fact that their anatomy allows them to reach closer to a 10' basket than those of us closer to average size.


In offering those "freaks" employment with a guaranteed income, Barnum was providing an element of dignity to their existence. Besides a steady paycheck, by banding together they had a home; a home with other lost souls, who, like themselves,  would otherwise be outcasts.


In reviewing the available literature about P.T. Barnum, one can't escape the impression that he was not a member of that usual crowd of showmen: unscrupulous business men in the circus/menagerie business of his day. For one thing, there is ample evidence that, although he didn't have to, he commonly increased the salary of his loyal employees. His long association with people like Charles Stratton (Tom Thumb), showed that the respect he afforded his employees was returned. Barnum's short relationship with Jenny Lind, in particular, not only demonstrates Barnum's desire  to fulfill his performer's wishes, but also make their parting equally pleasant.


Further evidence of Barnum's worth as a human being was his abolitionist stance, and brief, wartime relationship with President Abraham Lincoln--ended only by the President's death. He was elected mayor of Bridgeport, and state legislator of Fairfield, Connecticut four times, so his popularity extended far beyond showmanship. Like today's actors-turned-politicians (Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger easily come to mind), Barnum held the public's trust.


It is no secret that Lincoln always seemed to find time for children. Name another president that is noted for interrupting a cabinet meeting for a moment with his children.  And then we have Lincoln doing just that to visit with Barnum and George Nutt. Who reading this would not have given anything to see the 6'4" Lincoln bending to shake the hand of 29" tall Nutt? In a way, Stratton, Nutt, Warren, et al. were Barnum's "children."


P.T. Barnum is still with us: his passing did not erase the memory of the so many unforgettable images that he made famous, such as the "Fejee Mermaid," Tom Thumb, Circassian Beauties, and Jumbo, which are a permanent part of the American lexicon.  Two centuries removed, his name, and his countless theatrical innovations, make up the very foundation of America's entertainment industry. Because Barnum was relentless in his pursuit of success and was scrupulous in his awareness and understanding of the public's whims and fantasies, he taught us how to enjoy ourselves. He was not only creative, but a marketing and advertising genius. He had a coy sense of humor, one which could make people angry one minute, but laugh at themselves the next (think "egress"). He was a huckster and hoaxter, but in light of it all, Americans anxiously--and enthusiastically-- followed his circus train wherever it led. Simply stated, P.T. Barnum was undeniably the greatest showman of all time.



1 - Incredible Collections, Weird Antiques, and Odd Hobbies, by Bill Carmichael; Warner paperback Library Edition, February, 1973. LOC # 75-145461

2 -P.T. Barnum (1810-1891); The Man, the Myth,  the Legend, by Kathleen Maher

3 -YouTube: Joan Sutherland Destroys the World in 3 Notes:    -  

4 - Chapter 3; Barnum and His Influence on Advertising:

5 -The American Mind in Action, page 152:

6-Barnum; The Man, the Myth, the Legend

7 -PBS American Experience - People and Places: Jenny Lind, 1820-1887

8 - For insight, see Youtube's Contralto Eula Beal sings Bach's "Erbarme Dich"

9 - NC Pedia: McCoy, Millie-Christine, by John MacFie, 1991

10 - CUNY's "The Lost Museum"

11 - Incredible Collectors, Weird Antiques, and Odd Hobbies, by Bill Carmichael (page 311)

12 - Ibid.

13 - George Washington Morrison Nutt: Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Press

14 -The $30,000 Nutt:

15 - The New York Times, February 11, 1863

16 - Ibid.

17 - bio: people in the news, nostalgia, celebrity, history and culture; Pauline Cushman Biography - Actress and Spy

18 - History Net: 1864 Attack on New York City;

19 -Ibid.

20 - Ibid.

21 - The Lost Museum Website:

22 - The Bowery Boys: New York City History;

23 -The Man, the Myth, the Legend

24 -NCPedia

25 -Chapter 3 - Barnum and His Influence on Advertising (page 54): http://

26 - Bridgeport Library History Center: P.T. Barnum, the Later Years

27 - Excerpt - Temple University Press file:///C:/Users/Ralph/Documents/Chang%20and%20Eng.pdf

28 - The Story of Jumbo, Tufts Journal, October, 2001

29 -Barnum and His Influence on Advertising

30 - The Hartford Circus Fire:

31 - Millie-Christine, by Joanne Martell. Page 269

32- NCPedia: McCoy, Millie-Christine, by John MacFie, 1991

33 - Ibid.

34 -  Potter Family Genealogy


 The P.T. Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Ct.





CHAPLAIN GRUMBLE'S Thought for the Week

By Capt. Buddy Grumble Johnson


Some historians clump Christ with Muhammad, Moses, Confucius, and other spiritual leaders. I disagree, and my source is the Bible. In John 14:6 Jesus declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” He could have scored more points in political correctness had He said, “I know the way,” or “I show the way.” Yet He speaks not of what He does but of who He is– “I am the way!”


His disciple Peter announced, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).


Should you believe in yourself? No. Believe in Him. Believe in them? No. Believe in Him. And John 3:16 promises to those who believe in Him that they shall not perish but have eternal life. Believe in Him. Believe in the One God sent!




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 FOR SALE:  About ten years ago I purchased a used "Cooperman Civil War Drum," which was for a son who was a percussionist, but never quite got into re-enacting. Cooperman, if you don't know, is the best drum made for period musicians.  It is worth well over $1000--I think a new one lists for $1600--and I am offering it for $650. It comes with sticks, strap, and a canvas bag.  Please contact Ralph Epifanio at or (386) 736-6795. Thank you.






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