Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Marching with H. K.

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 10, 2014


It’s the standard Edgerton performance, ending with his dramatic interpretation of “I Am Their Flag.” I hadn’t realized until today that Edgerton has added his own lines to the poem, including references to the Confederate Battle Flag being “the Christian Cross of Saint Andrew, the first Apostle of Jesus Christ.” That characterization would certainly be a revelation to the South Carolina secessionist who designed that flag in the first place, and those lines don’t appear in the original poem. They seem to be Edgerton’s own personal,  Christianist embellishment, like Hathaway’s “there is no denying God’s hand in this…” assertion last year about a story that defied credibility on its face. Beware of false prophets, y’all.

But anyway. Edgerton apparently makes a good living assuring his patrons that slavery wasn’t so bad, that the violence against African Americans attributed to the Klan during Reconstruction was a Yankee false-flag operation, and that Jim Crow laws were a burden imposed on white southerners by the Supreme Court.

Entertainment for white people, as Kevin says. I’m pretty sure the white nationalists from the League of the South in Oxford yesterday got some laughs out of Edgerton’s show.



“The passengers got the full benefit of the sparks, cinders and smoke”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 8, 2014



On another forum we’ve been discussing the logistical challenges faced by the South during the war relating to railroads. My colleague David Bright argued — correctly, I think — that the fundamental problem was not just in the relatively limited amount of rail transport extant in the Confederacy at the beginning, but in the inability to expand or even properly maintain what they had at the start:


In my opinion, more serious were: insufficient rolling stock, lack of manpower in the CSA such that the railroads (and their supporting infrastructure — mines, foundries, etc) could not get the manpower they needed, and the inability to replace anything that was lost (rails, rolling stock, depots, etc).


Dave’s observation reminded me of a passage in a history of Houston by S. O. Young (1848-1926), who was a teenager during the war and who later wrote extensively on local history:


There were many difficulties to be overcome in the way of transportation and equally as great ones in obtaining money or credit to pay for construction. Just as the Harrisburg road got under good headway; the Houston and Texas Central got into the game. The first shovel of dirt for this road was thrown by that great railroad genius, Paul Bremond, in 1853. When he threw up that dirt he turned up more trouble for himself than generally falls to the lot of one man.
Of course, he did not know this, but I am convinced that had he done so it would have made not the slightest change in his plans. His faith in himself and his confidence in his ability to accomplish whatever he started out to do, was something sublime. When it came to energy he had any engine on his road faded to a standstill. He was a wonderful man, and he did not hesitate, at times, to attempt the apparently impossible.
When his first contractor got cold feet and threw up his job, Mr. Bremond promptly undertook to carry out the contract to build the road himself. There is where his troubles began.



Friday Night Concert: “Farragut’s Ball” with Dan Milner

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 1, 2014


In expectation of Tuesday’s sesquicentennial of the Battle of Mobile Bay. Have a good weekend, everyone.




Eighth Arkansas Infantry Battle Flag

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 27, 2014


My colleague Rob Baker has been doing a good job in covering the dispute over the which Confederate flag to display at the historic depot in Ringgold, Georgia. For years, the city has flown a Hardee Flag, similar in design to those used by Pat Cleburne’s troops that fought around the depot in the Battle of Ringgold Gap in November 1863. The local Sons of Confederate Veterans camp is the plaintiff in a long-running legal battle to have the more familiar Confederate Battle Flag displayed, in reference to Confederate soldiers from that area generally who served in all theaters of the war.

As it happens, on Saturday I came face-to-face with the battle flag of the Eighth Arkansas Infantry at the Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth, which fought at Ringgold Gap as part of Cleburne’s force. I think this flag was probably present at the fight, as it was replaced with this color of the 1864 pattern, carrying a battle honor for Ringgold Gap. It was said that the Hardee pattern had “no artistic taste about it, but which could not be mistaken” for a U.S. flag, which was a serious problem with using the Confederacy’s First National flag on the battlefield.



Remembering the First Battle of Adobe Walls

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 24, 2014



Adobe Walls
Saturday Oct 4
11:00 AM – 4:00 PM


  • Buses leave Amarillo Civic Center at 11am and Borger Phillips Building at 1pm for the Adobe Walls Battle Site.
  • $50 per person (membership discounts do not apply)
  • Reservations must be made in advance no later than August 15th by contacting Amy Mitchell at PPHM at 806-651-2242 or email

Join the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and Hutchinson County Historical Museum as we celebrate the sesquicentennial of the First Battle of Adobe Walls with an event on OCTOBER 4, 2014. This historically significant battle occurred on November 25th, 1864 and was the only Civil War battle fought in the Texas Panhandle. The battle site is located in present-day Hutchinson County on the Turkey Track Ranch.

The commemorative event will take place at the 1864 Adobe Walls Battle Site. Guests will be transported from the Amarillo Civic Center (at 11am) and the Borger Phillips Building (at 1pm) by bus. Participants will enjoy speeches from both sides of the battle including appearances by Kit Carson’s great-grandson and Kiowa and Comanche tribe members. Guest speakers include: Alvin Lynn, author of Kit Carson and the First Battle of Adobe Walls: A Tale of Two Journeys, Francie Whittenburg of the Turkey Track Ranch; Brett Cruse of the Texas Historical Commission; John Carson, great-grandson of Kit Carson; and James Coverdale, great-great nephew of Kiowa chief Dohasan.

No private guest vehicles will be allowed on-site and the reservation is non-refundable. Media will need to provide credentials at the gate for admission. An alternate location will be chosen in case of inclement weather.



Uncle Billy’s Got His Eyes on You. . . .

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 23, 2014


In Atlanta:


Do not run for cover, good citizens. It’s only Sherman’s stern visage that has returned in “Apparitions,” artist Gregor Turk’s temporary public art installation commissioned by Atlanta Celebrates Photography and Art on the Beltline.
Sherman’s eyes stare down from five different billboards clustered together along the Atlanta Beltline adjacent to Piedmont Park (a quarter mile north of the intersection of 10th Street and Monroe Drive), and have since March.
This is actually the third phase of Turk’s project. In the first phase, which went up last fall, the billboards were covered with images of blank billboards, photographed in a previous Turk project and suggesting mischief to come. It arrived in the second phase when the billboards were plastered with life-size images of the very views they obscured.
Part three, titled “Look Away,” strikes a more serious and provocative note.
“The configuration of the encircling billboards could be construed as an inverted version of the Cyclorama featuring Sherman’s eyes rather than the battle he witnessed from nearby Copenhill,” Turk wrote in an email to the AJC, referencing the site of the current-day Carter Center.
The artist clarified that his intention was “to reflect on the city’s progress and shortcomings since its destruction 150 years ago through the intimidating gaze of Sherman.”


Remarkably, not everyone seems happy about this public art installation. Imagine that.



Richmond as Viewed from Church Hill, 1865

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 22, 2014


Tinkering around with a new zoomable image viewer tool. Built up from four separate images from the Library of Congress:

This should work well for maps, too.



Friday Night Concert: Weird Al Yankovic’s “Word Crimes”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 18, 2014


This may even better than the bluegrass barn dance cover by Postmodern Jukebox. Enjoy.



Deep Sea Detectives: The Mystery of U-166

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 16, 2014

Given recent news items about the exploration of U-166 and her last victim, the passenger liner Robert E. Lee, folks might be interested in this old Deep Sea Detectives episode about the discovery and original study of those vessels:


U-166 was discovered in 2001 by two archaeologists from C&C Technologies, Rob Church and Dan Warren, going over data collected for a pipeline survey. I think it was Dan who first suggested the blurry shape might be U-166, which had never been found but was supposedly sunk many miles away. The boat’s hull is broken forward of the deck gun, and the two sections are some distance apart on the sea floor.

Once it had been determined that the wreck was indeed U-166, there was a lot of additional research done both in the U.S. and in Germany. Captain Kuhlmann’s widow was still living, and she had a trunk of his that had been sent to her after his loss that she had left intact. In it were photographs and film footage (below) of the boat during its working-up trials in the Baltic and passage to its forward operating base at L’Orient.



Digital reconstruction of U-171, another Type IXC U-boat that figures in this story, on Flickr here.




Beating a Dead Traveller

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 13, 2014

You had to know that Brandon Dorsey, the local Confederate Heritage™ guy in Lexington, would be all over the Washington and Lee flag business, calling for the university to “return the mausoleum to the ownership of the Lee Memorial Association.” I’m not sure who Dorsey is talking about, as the Lee Memorial Association that originally funded the mausoleum appears to have furled its banner decades ago. There’s a present-day Robert E. Lee Memorial Association that operates Stratford Hall, that was begun in New York state and adopted its current name when it moved to Virginia in the 1970s, but that’s (1) clearly not the same group as in the 1880s, and (2) is one that has no claim, legal or otherwise, to the site at W&L.

Dorsey, who calls W&L President Ken Ruscio “the nations [sic.] most notorious grave robber,” has a pretty abysmal track record as a coordinator of protests going back to the Lexington flag ordinance in 2011. That ordinance passed easily, despite Dorsey’s efforts to bring in dozens of people from out of town to tell the Lexington City Council how to run their little city; his campaign to oust Mayor Mimi Elrod, that also relied heavily on people not actually from Lexington, came to naught in 2012 when Elrod won re-election by a wider margin than before; the lawsuit against the city he encouraged in federal court was a complete bust, and his ongoing boycott of the city has had no observable effect on the local tourist economy.

He did successfully coordinate the installation of a fiberglass statue of Stonewall Jackson with a sword in one hand and a golden cross in the other, by the same sculptor who did the dinosaurs-eating-Yankees amusement park, so there’s that.

Interestingly, in making his call for W&L to turn over the mausoleum to a private organization that appears not to exist, Dorsey cites the wording of the original 1882 agreement transferring the mausoleum to the school:


That upon the completion of the mausoleum and its inauguration under the auspices of this Association the title to, and the care and custody of, both the mausoleum and the marble statue of General Lee shall be vested in the corporation of Washington and Lee University, upon the sacred trust that the mausoleum shall be preserved as a perpetual place of sepulture for the remains of Gen. R. E. Lee, and of Mrs. Lee, and of such other members of their family as it maybe the pleasure of the family to have interred there, and that the building and statue shall receive from the authorities of the University such care and attention from time to time as shall be needful for their preservation; and upon the further trust that neither the mausoleum, nor the ground upon which it is erected, nor the statue and appurtenances of the mausoleum, shall ever be in any way, or to any extent, liable for any claim against, or debt of said University, or be charged with any mortgage, deed of trust, or other encumbrance.


Dorsey doesn’t explain why this particular passage is important, perhaps because it isn’t.  Nothing Washington and Lee has done violates this agreement. They haven’t mortgaged the mausoleum, or put it up as collateral, or interfered with the interments of Lee and his family. They removed decorative flags that wouldn’t be added for almost another fifty years, as is their prerogative as owners of the Washington and Lee Chapel.

Everything I’ve read about Lee suggests to me that he abhorred flashy showmanship, and was more than a little uncomfortable with the fame and renown he achieved during his lifetime. As I said last week, he didn’t use his five years as president of Washington College to turn the school  into the Confederate shrine some people today want it to be, and I genuinely believe he would be embarrassed by the desire by some to make his and his family’s resting place a shrine of quasi-religious veneration, a sort of Confederate Lourdes or a Dixified version of the Kaaba. I certainly don’t believe he would have any patience with the hair-on-fire shriekers who use his memory as an excuse to engage in the most vile sort of threats, name-calling and accusation in defense of Confederate Heritage. The real, live Robert Edward Lee, a Virginia patrician first and last, wouldn’t have had those people in his front parlor.




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