Short items that don’t warrant full posts of their own.
- The New York Public Library has released a massive collection of non-copyrighted images online, in high-resolution, free for anyone to download. Included in this are many Civil War period images, including original sketches prepared for Frank Leslie’s Illustration Newspaper (above, “Capture of a Contrabandist on Lake Pontchartrain,” by Francis H. Schell).
- At least two dozen people attended Saturday’s big Confederate flag rally in Columbia, South Carolina. Can you feel the momentum?
- Speaking of Columbia, it didn’t get much attention at the time, but the criminal case against Bree Newsome, the activist who took down the Confederate flag in front of the State House last summer, was dismissed back on December 10.
- The trailer for Free State of Jones is out, and it looks exciting. It’s based on Vicki Bynum’s book, and I can’t wait to see it. Matthew McConaughey even looks like the real Newt Knight.
- Over at Defending the Heritage, the vindication of the South through Facebook memes continues apace. This week, it’s a melacholy image of Confederate soldiers, huddling for warmth around a campfire during the “last desperate days” of the war. Of course, it’s actually part of a painting by Winslow Homer of U.S. cavalrymen, with the more obvious Federal uniforms cropped out of the image. More specifically, it depicts the camp of the First Division of the Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac, in the Spring of 1862. Details, details. Full-resolution image here.
- Did the South’s rapid rise out of decades of grinding poverty in the last fifty years contribute to the high incidence of heart disease prevalent across the region today? Researchers from Ohio State think maybe it did.
- In election news, it looks like the white nationalists are going all-in for Donald Trump in Iowa.
- The six-part PBS miniseries Mercy Street, set in a military hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, starts next Sunday.
- In Savannah, archaeologists and the Corps of Engineers made the difficult decision to return 135 tons of redundant artifacts from the recovery of C.S.S. Georgia to the river, where they can be retrieved at a later date. Another 142 tons has already gone to the conservation lab at Texas A&M University; that’s more than the mass of two M1A1 Abrams tanks. It’s not an ideal solution, but given the tremendous volume of material involved, it may be the only practical solution.
- Next weekend the Virginia Flaggers will be headed to Lexington to celebrate Lee-Jackson Day. They’ve toned down their chest-thumping about their boycott of city businesses — you know, the one they don’t themselves observe — which is probably just as well, considering that city tax revenues from restaurants were up almost 16% over the previous year, coming in at a over a million dollars. You can download the full financial report here; the revenue figures are on p. 23.
Got any more? Put ’em in the comments.
It’s a different war, but over at the Journal of the American Revolution, Don Hagist calls BS on the old saw that British regulars were not taught to aim their weapons.
I love history like this.
Image: Private of the 17th Regiment of Foot, 1777, by Don Troiani.
The incomparable Ed Bearss will be speaking to the Houston Civil War Round Table on Thursday, January 21, 2016. Mr. Bearss will speak on the Kentucky Campaign and the Battle of Perryville.
Non-members are welcome to attend. The cash bar opens at 6 p.m., dinner is at 7, with the Mr. Bearss’ presentation to follow. As always, reservations are required. The charge for dinner is $30, with a limited number of lecture-only seats for $10. Call Don Zuckero at (281) 479-1232 or email him at Reservations@HoustonCivilWar.com by 6:00 PM the Monday preceding the Thursday meeting (i.e., January 18). The Hess Club’s address is 5430 Westheimer, a short distance west of the Galleria. The club is situated on the corner of Westheimer Way and Westheimer Court. Free, convenient, and handicap-accessible parking is across the street. Valet parking is also available.
For those who have not heard Mr. Bearss speak in person, it’s a memorable experience. Don’t miss it!
There’s always something new out there you didn’t know, isn’t there?
Recently, thanks to user SquirrelHudson at Civil War Talk, I discovered the traditional South African folk song, “Die Kom die Alibama,” which is generally credited to have been inspired by the visit of the Confederate raider Alabama to Cape Town in late 1863. While that origin is disputed by some, it’s nevertheless a song that catches the ear, which undoubtedly attests to its popularity after all these generations.
So here we have a song ostensibly inspired by a Confederate ship, built in the United Kingdom, with Afrikaans lyrics, sung by South Africans of Malay descent, played on traditional African instruments. What a crazy world this is, and how better we all are for it.
I’ve already had seconds on the black-eyed peas; 2016 is gonna be a good year. Y’all have a Happy New Year, too.
If it’s a day that ends in Y, the True Southrons™ are feeling oppressed:
So the complaints are:
Boston gets to do this. We don’t.
They have a mural still in their State House. We don’t (here in SC).
The mural in Boston dates back more than a century. If there’s nothing comparable in the South Carolina State House after all these years, whose fault is that, exactly? It’s not like y’all haven’t had time to get it done.
Can’t even have one Flag at the Soldiers’ Monument.
The flag was taken down by the elected representatives of the citizens of South Carolina, the same body that put it there in the first place. It was not imposed on y’all by anyone; it’s a testament to South Carolinians’ revanchist temperament (“too small for a republic. . . .”) that it lasted as long as it did.
For the love of God, stop whining.
Captain Charles Frederick Hughes (1866-1934), commander of the U.S. battleship New York with Santa and two of the children visiting the ship on Christmas Day, 1916. Library of Congress photo.
As expected, last week the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four monuments related to the Confederacy, three dedicated to Confederate leaders and one to members of the White League, who staged an attempted coup to overthrow the Republican-led city administration during Reconstruction. The latter monument carried an inscription saluting “the national election of November 1876 [that] recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state,” before it was removed in the 1990s.
And as expected, there has been an immediate legal challenge to the City Council’s action. I think this is a good thing; that’s how matters properly get settled. But this assertion from the plaintiffs’ filing strikes me as being dead-on-arrival as a legal argument:
Plaintiffs have a First Amendment right to free expression, free speech and free association, which they exercise by maintaining and preserving the historic character and nature of the City of New Orleans, including their monuments, and by using the monuments as the location for events commemorating individuals and events critical to the outcome of the Civil War.
The plaintiffs most assuredly do have First Amendment rights to free expression, but as the courts have repeatedly (and in my view, correctly) ruled, their First Amendment rights don’t obligate the government to use public resources to promote or sustain them. Specifically when dealing with Confederate heritage issues, the First Amendment argument failed in Lexington, and again last summer with Texas’ SCV license plates. Shouting loudly about the First Amendment is probably a good way to raise donations for legal fees, but I doubt it will get very far in the courtroom in this case.
I don’t know enough details of the monuments’ situation in New Orleans to make any predictions as to how this will all end up. I do expect the City of New Orleans to put up a vigorous defense, beginning with a challenge to the plaintiffs’ standing. But if the plaintiffs do ultimately succeed in keeping one or more of those monuments in place, I’m sure the ruling’s going to be a highly technical one, like the decision on the Liberty Place monument twenty years ago, based on the convoluted mess of overlapping jurisdictions and conflicting claims of ownership.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Update, December 22: TPM’s Tierney Sneed follows up with a story on the coalition of plaintiffs that brought the lawsuit to preserve the monument in New Orleans. She also includes a couple of screencaps of the social media postings by the Louisiana Division of the SCV, including this one:
This is exactly the sort of churlish onanism that undermines every serious argument that heritage advocates might make in a case like this. You can’t be taken seriously when you argue for the nobility of the southern cause and the sanctity of its symbols, and then post silly crap like this as a “defense” of it.
These people are acting like children — angry, angry children.
The other day I learned that Jesse Cancelmo has a new book coming out in February, Glorious Gulf of Mexico: Life Below the Blue. Jesse is an underwater photographer I met while working on the U.S.S. Hatteras Project in 2012. He is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the best underwater photographers out there, anywhere, and his work is all the more remarkable when you consider that the Gulf of Mexico is just not known as a hot spot for marine imagery. Maybe this book will change that.
You can see other examples of his work here. Congrats, Jesse — I can’t wait to get me hands on this one.
Kids’ activity area in the History Center for Aransas County, challenging kids to study the contents of a Civil War soldier’s haversack. The cloth sacks at left contain rations of coffee, flour, etc.
On Thursday I had the honor of speaking to the Houston Civil War Round Table on blockade-running, and the story of the brief, violent encounter between Dave McCluskey and Paul Börner on the deck of McCluskey’s schooner, Sting Ray. We had good attendance, and lots of smart questions afterward, mostly about aspects of the topic that’s I’d had to cut or skip over, due to lack of time. Folks in southeast Texas should mark their calendars for the January meeting, on January 21, when the presenter will be the incomparable Ed Bearss, speaking on the Kentucky Campaign and the Battle of Perryville. Reservations are required, so if you’re going to attend, please contact the Houston CWRT’s Facilities Chairman, Don Zuckero, at (281) 479-1232 or e-mail him at Reservations-at-HoustonCivilWar-dot-com by 6:00 p.m. on Monday, January 18.
At the meeting I also had the pleasure of meeting Brian Matthew Jordan, whose 2014 volume, Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War, will be coming out soon in paperback. Brian recently took up a teaching position at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, and will hopefully become a regular at meetings and conferences in the region.
I also made a quick trip to Rockport, to speak in conjunction with a Civil War exhibit at the History Center for Aransas County and their new exhibit, “Civil War for Coastal Texans: Homefront & Battlefields.” I’d like to thank the History Center, the Stenson-Simpson Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Hampton Inn & Suites of Rockport-Fulton, and (most especially) Pam and Phil Stranahan of Fulton, for extending the best of Coastal Bend hospitality to me and my family.
A follow-up to my post yesterday on Charleston, and what seemed to me at the time to be a purely gratuitous inclusion of Nathan Bedford Forrest in the section on slave traders.
It turns out that, as a colleague suggested yesterday, that Forrest did indeed make use of the slave market in Charleston to provide the “stock” he would later sell in Memphis and New Orleans. And he was not making an isolated purchase here or there; he was buying on a large scale. Charleston Courier, March 1, 1860, p. 2:
So there it is — even in South Carolina, where there were substantially more enslaved persons in 1860 than free, Nathan Bedford Forrest was a big wheel in the domestic slave trade. If Forrest had lived in South Carolina himself, the 500 slaves he sought to purchase there would have made him one of the largest slaveholders in that state. The inclusion of Forrest in the museum exhibit certainly makes sense now, but it’s unfortunate that Forrest’s role in the Charleston slave market isn’t explained clearly.
Prewar image of Forrest via Mississippi Confederates blog.