Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Talkin’ Blockade Runners

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 24, 2014

 

The blockade running book got a strong review by Mark Lardas in the Galveston County Daily News this past weekend. The full text is paywalled, but it begins and ends,

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If Texas was not the king’s crown, Texas’ cotton made it a prized jewel of the cotton kingdom. Cashing in the crop required getting it to England.
 
“Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast,” by Andrew W. Hall, examines Texas’ efforts to export its cotton and import manufactured goods in the face of the North’s struggles to stop it.
 
Hall begins the story before the Civil War, continuing it to the present. He opens examining prewar Texas, and its cotton economy.
 
He closes it with late 20th century and 21st century archaeological dives on wrecks of sunken blockade runners. . . .
 
Well-researched, engagingly written, imaginatively illustrated and informative, “Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast” will interest Civil War buffs.
 
Whether you are well-versed in this corner of history or seeking an introduction, this book has something to offer.

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I have three book events coming up this week. On Thursday evening at 6:30, I’ll be doing a talk and book-signing at the Brazoria County Historical Museum 100 E. Cedar Street in Angleton.

On Saturday I’ll be signing books at the Galveston Bookshop, 317 23rd Street in Galveston, from 2 to 4 p.m.

On Sunday I’ll be signing books at Eighteen Seventy-One, 2217 Strand in Galveston, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Hope to see y’all there!

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GeneralStarsGray

A Juneteenth Follow-Up

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 22, 2014

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Saturday’s Juneteenth marker unveiling was impressive. I’ve been to a lot of marker dedications, but never one as big or as well-organized as this one. Kudos to everyone involved in putting this together. Both the chairman and executive directors of the Texas Historical Commission came down from Austin (rare for them to travel to the same function), as well as our U.S. Representative and State Senator. They all said the right things and the elected officials, who are all up for re-election this year, didn’t veer off topic. The most important address, one not on the program, was by 83-year-old Rev. Virgil A. Wood, who described his own experience as a seventeen-year-old kid in the 1940s, interviewing an old man who recalled the Federal soldiers coming to the plantation to deliver the news of emancipation, when the man had been ten years old. It wasn’t that long ago, in purely human terms.

This being Texas, though, the attendee who got the most attention was former local high school football player Mike Evans, recently selected by Tampa Bay as the No. 7 in the NFL draft:

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Juneteenth arose out of the unique situation of Texas and the Trans-Mississippi at the end of the war, so it’s a little difficult to explain to anyone unfamiliar with that — which is to say, almost everyone among the general public.

The Confederate Trans-Mississippi Department did not formally surrender until June 2, 1865 — TWO MONTHS after the fall of Richmond. During that whole time, except for a few isolated areas, Texas was not occupied by Union troops and the whole area was in a sort of limbo, still officially in rebellion but without a clear course and without a national leadership. The U.S. Navy officially took possession of Texas on June 5, but did not have soldiers to establish a formal presence. General Granger arrived with troops at Galveston on June 17, and two days later issued a series of administrative notices formally notifying all of Texas that the state was now under formal military occupation, who the key officers and departments were, and so on. The third of these notices was General Order No. 3, that formally announced emancipation under the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863. These notices were published in papers around the state, first in Galveston (below) and then elsewhere as the news was carried inland by telegraph and railroad.

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The wording of Granger’s order was not happenstance; it was carefully crafted based on other officers’ orders and experiences elsewhere. Granger’s order, though, is most famous because it was the last and covered the largest territory. A colleague who’s been researching this subject has found also that this notice was not just pro forma — it really did have a profound and immediate effect as it spread across Texas, and enslaved persons received word of it in various ways, and within a short time June 19, the original date of Granger’s order, had become an important commemoration day among Freedmen. The African American community in Houston pooled its funds to buy and establish Emancipation Park in 1872. Juneteenth is mentioned in several LoC slave narratives, and the word “Juneteenth” itself was established by the 1890s, even as the celebration was being brought by Texans to other states. Parsons, Kansas Weekly Blade, June 22, 1895:

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Last Wednesday the citizens of this city and vicinity, native Texans, assembled in the fairgrounds to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary if the liberation of the bonded Afro-American of Texas. After indulging in various pleasures, they were called to the sumptuous repasts that were spread by our energetic ladies and our worthy citizen and coadjuntor [?], R. B. Floyd. At 3:30 the people were called together in the amphitheater to hear the speakers of the day. The exercises were opened by the song, “Hold the Fort,” led by Presiding Elder, A. M. Ward; prayer, led by Rev. J. R. Ransom; “John Brown’s Body” was then led by Rev. Ward; E. W. Dorsey then stated why the 19th of June was celebrated. He was followed by S. O. Clayton, who in an address of twenty minutes delivered volumes of words which were impregnated with varied and bright thoughts. Closely following the speakers an animated game of base ball was witnessed; when the happy throng repaired to their homes expressing themselves highly pleased with their first Juneteenth celebration.

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Austin Juneteenth 1900

Emancipation celebration band, Austin, Texas, June 19, 1900. Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, via University of North Texas Portal to Texas History.

 

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Planning gets underway now for a proper sesquicentennial celebration of the end of the war and Juneteenth next year. The Civil War didn’t end at Appomattox in April 1865; it ended here in Texas in June, with the paired events of the surrender of of the Trans-Mississippi Department and Granger’s General Order No. 3. It’s a part of the story that needs a better telling and wider recognition. Here’s looking forward to a grand 2015!

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GeneralStarsGray

Juneteenth, History and Tradition

Posted in African Americans, Genealogy, Memory by Andy Hall on June 19, 2014

[This post originally appeared here on June 19, 2010.]


“Emancipation” by Thomas Nast. Ohio State University.

Juneteenth has come again, and (quite rightly) the Galveston County Daily News, the paper that first published General Granger’s order that forms the basis for the holiday, has again called for the day to be recognized as a national holiday:

 
Those who are lobbying for a national holiday are not asking for a paid day off. They are asking for a commemorative day, like Flag Day on June 14 or Patriot Day on Sept. 11. All that would take is a presidential proclamation. Both the U.S. House and Senate have endorsed the idea.
 
Why is a national celebration for an event that occurred in Galveston and originally affected only those in a single state such a good idea?
 
Because Juneteenth has become a symbol of the end of slavery. No matter how much we may regret the tragedy of slavery and wish it weren’t a part of this nation’s story, it is. Denying the truth about the past is always unwise.
 
For those who don’t know, Juneteenth started in Galveston. On Jan. 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. But the order was meaningless until it could be enforced. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865 — after the Confederacy had been defeated and Union troops landed in Galveston — that the slaves in Texas were told they were free.
 
People all across the country get this story. That’s why Juneteenth celebrations have been growing all across the country. The celebration started in Galveston. But its significance has come to be understood far, far beyond the island, and far beyond Texas.
 

This is exactly right. Juneteenth is not just of relevance to African Americans or Texans, but for all who ascribe to the values of liberty and civic participation in this country. A victory for civil rights for any group is a victory for us all, and there is none bigger in this nation’s history than that transformation represented by Juneteenth.

But as widespread as Juneteenth celebrations have become — I was pleased and surprised, some years ago, to see Juneteenth celebration flyers pasted up in Minnesota — there’s an awful lot of confusion and misinformation about the specific events here, in Galveston, in June 1865 that gave birth to the holiday. The best published account of the period appears in Edward T. Cotham’s Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston, from which much of what follows is abstracted.


The United States Customs House, Galveston.

On June 5, Captain B. F. Sands entered Galveston harbor with the Union naval vessels Cornubia and Preston. Sands went ashore with a detachment and raised the United States flag over the federal customs house for about half an hour. Sands made a few comments to the largely silent crowd, saying that he saw this event as the closing chapter of the rebellion, and assuring the local citizens that he had only worn a sidearm that day as a gesture of respect for the mayor of the city.


The 1857 Ostermann Building, site of General Granger’s headquarters, at the southwest corner of 22nd Street and Strand. Image via Galveston Historical Foundation.

A large number of Federal troops came ashore over the next two weeks, including detachments of the 76th Illinois Infantry. Union General Gordon Granger, newly-appointed as military governor for Texas, arrived on June 18, and established his headquarters in Ostermann Building (now gone) on the southwest corner of 22nd and Strand. The provost marshal, which acted largely as a military police force, set up in the Customs House. The next day, June 19, a Monday, Granger issued five general orders, establishing his authority over the rest of Texas and laying out the initial priorities of his administration. General Orders Nos. 1 and 2 asserted Granger’s authority over all Federal forces in Texas, and named the key department heads in his administration of the state for various responsibilities. General Order No. 4 voided all actions of the Texas government during the rebellion, and asserted Federal control over all public assets within the state. General Order No. 5 established the Army’s Quartermaster Department as sole authorized buyer for cotton, until such time as Treasury agents could arrive and take over those responsibilities.

It is General Order No. 3, however, that is remembered today. It was short and direct:

Headquarters, District of Texas
Galveston, Texas, June 19, 1865
 
General Orders, No. 3
 
The people are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.
 
By order of
Major-General Granger
F. W. Emery, Maj. & A.A.G.

What’s less clear is how this order was disseminated. It’s likely that printed copies were put up in public places. It was published on June 21 in the Galveston Daily News, but otherwise it is not known if it was ever given a formal, public and ceremonial reading. Although the symbolic significance of General Order No. 3 cannot be overstated, its main legal purpose was to reaffirm what was well-established and widely known throughout the South, that with the occupation of Federal forces came the emancipation of all slaves within the region now coming under Union control.


The James Moreau Brown residence, now known as Ashton Villa, at 24th & Broadway in Galveston. This site is well-established in recent local tradition as the site of the original Juneteenth proclamation, although direct evidence is lacking.

Local tradition has long held that General Granger took over James Moreau Brown’s home on Broadway, Ashton Villa, as a residence for himself and his staff. To my knowledge, there is no direct evidence for this. Along with this comes the tradition that the Ashton Villa was also the site where the Emancipation Proclamation was formally read out to the citizenry of Galveston. This belief has prevailed for many years, and is annually reinforced with events commemorating Juneteenth both at the site, and also citing the site. In years past, community groups have even staged “reenactments” of the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation from the second-floor balcony, something which must surely strain the limits of reasonable historical conjecture. As far as I know, the property’s operators, the Galveston Historical Foundation, have never taken an official stand on the interpretation that Juneteenth had its actual origins on the site. Although I myself have serious doubts about Ashton Villa having having any direct role in the original Juneteenth, I also appreciate that, as with the band playing “Nearer, My God, to Thee” as Titanic sank beneath the waves, arguing against this particular cherished belief is undoubtedly a losing battle.

Assuming that either the Emancipation Proclamation (or alternately, Granger’s brief General Order No. 3) was formally, ceremonially read out to the populace, where did it happen? Charles Waldo Hayes, writing several years after the war, says General Order No. 3 was “issued from [Granger's] headquarters,” but that sounds like a figurative description rather than a literal one. My bet would not be Ashton Villa, but one of two other sites downtown already mentioned: the Ostermann Building, where Granger’s headquarters was located and where the official business of the Federal occupation was done initially, or at the United States Customs House, which was the symbol of Federal property both in Galveston and the state as a whole, and (more important still) was the headquarters of Granger’s provost marshal, Lieutenant Colonel Rankin G. Laughlin (right, 1827-78) of the 94th Illinois Infantry. It’s easy to imagine Lt. Col. Laughlin dragging a crate out onto the sidewalk in front of the Customs House and barking out a brief, and somewhat perfunctory, read-through of all five of the general’s orders in quick succession. No flags, no bands, and probably not much of a crowd to witness the event. My personal suspicion is that, were we to travel back to June 1865 and witness the origin of this most remarkable and uniquely-American holiday, we’d find ourselves very disappointed in how the actual events played out at the time.

Maybe the Ashton Villa tradition is preferable, after all.

Update, June 19: Over at Our Special Artist, Michele Walfred takes a closer look at Nast’s illustration of emancipation.

Update 2, June 19: Via Keith Harris, it looks like retiring U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison supports a national Juneteenth holiday, too. Good for her.

Update 3, June 19, 2013: Freedmen’s Patrol nails the general public’s ambivalence about Juneteenth:

I suppose it gets ignored for the same reason we ignore Emancipation Day. To make a national fuss over it would require us to grapple with slavery and own up to freedom as a kind of national project, not a crystallized perfection handed down from men in powdered wigs.

Exactly right.

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We Haven’t Learned a Damn Thing, Have We?

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 18, 2014

Over at That Devil History, Jarret Ruminski suggests that the United States’ ongoing involvement in the Middle East, and especially Iraq, ignores the big lesson of Reconstruction in the post-Civil-War South — that nation-building is damn nearly impossible if the locals refuse to buy into it; they just have to wait us out:

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When the southern Confederacy surrendered to Union forces in 1865 after four brutal years of combat, American government and military officials were tasked with rebuilding a vast swath of U.S. territory — the South — that had been reduced to ruin during the conflict. This sounds simple enough, right? I mean, the Confederate South wasn’t Afghanistan; in 1861 it was still literally a part of the American nation, and not all of the southern states even seceded from the Union. But the ones that did secede found their world turned upside down in the wake of military defeat: much of their infrastructure was destroyed, tens-of-thousands of their men were dead, and, most significantly, their slaves were freed. And those freed slaves were bound to start agitating for, you know, political rights — and the South would have none of that.
 
In order to deal with the newly freed slaves and “reconstruct” the South back into the Union, the American government divided the South into five military districts occupied by U.S. troops, and it established a federal humanitarian aid agency, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands — better-known as the Freedmen’s Bureau — to help aid the former slaves’ transition to freedom. But American military and civilian forces in the South soon found that the local yokels were restless: white southerners remind defiant in the face U.S. forces attempts to rebuild their society according to rules hammered out in Washington D.C., and they remained especially hostile towards any attempts to integrate newly freed African-Americans into southern society as the political and social equals of whites.
 
So southern whites organized into irregular bands of paramilitary insurgent groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, the White Leagues, the Red Shirts and others. These domestic terrorist groups waged a campaign of political intimidation, property destruction, and murder against freed people and northern Republicans across the South. They usually attacked at night using guerilla tactics to burn houses and assault blacks and political opponents of the southern Democratic Party. During the daytime they melted back into the civilian population, which often tacitly, and sometimes openly, supported the white supremacist insurgents.
 
U.S. forces tried to squelch these terrorist groups, and sometimes they succeeded. But in the long run, tamping down on southern insurgent violence and enforcing the rights of freed blacks always meant more violence, more troops, more political will, and more money – with no end in sight. A weary northern government and public eventually soured on this seemingly endless dirty war and gave up on reconstructing the South. By the late 1870s, the old-line white supremacists — many of whom had fought in the Confederate armies — were back in control of Dixie. Thus, after the Civil War, American forces found themselves caught up in a long-running conflict with local and national elements that was driven by ethnic factionalism and power-struggles over how political and economic resources were to be reorganized and controlled following a destructive conflict. The more things change…the more Americans try to nation-build.

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Ruminski’s analysis is as persuasive as it is depressing.

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The U.S.S. Westfield Dahlgren Comes Home to Texas City

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 18, 2014

Dahlgren

Today’s a big day in Texas City, with the arrival of the IX-Inch Dahlgen gun (above, on a reconstructed carriage) from U.S.S. Westfield. From the Houston Chronicle:

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A purpose-built replica carriage will hold it in its new resting place at the Texas City Museum, after it is delivered there by trailer Wednesday morning.
 
“A crane will lift the cannon off the trailer,” said conservator Justin Parkoff, who has been restoring the Dahlgren and the rest of the artifacts at the Texas A&M Conservation Reserach Lab, “It’s going to be placed down onto the sidewalk which will be protected by steel plates … so the weight of the cannon will not crush the concrete.”  At 10,000 pounds, the cannon is as heavy as the average Asian elephant.
 
Parkoff described the cannon as “a beast” when news of the new museum home came out just after Christmas.  He oversaw its 140-mile journey from A&M’s Riverside campus to Texas City on Tuesday.  It will be housed just 6.5 miles from it’s original resting place.
 
“We’re thrilled,” said Billie Powers assistant to the curator at the museum, “absolutely thrilled.”

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Congrats to Justin, who at this point probably knows as much about Union gunboats adapted from ferries as anyone around today.

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GeneralStarsGray

A Quick Note About that Ukranian Separatist Flag

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 16, 2014

SeperatistSouthron hearts have been all a-flutter in recent days because Russian separatists in the Ukraine have adopted a banner (right) that looks a lot like the Confederate Battle Flag. Like so many other “heritage” arguments, though, this one requires a certain ignorance of actual history and a willingness to believe pretty much anything that sounds good.

There’s a general similarity, certainly. But the design the separatists are using has a much older, and much more relevant, history that most in the West may not be aware of. The diagonal cross, the Cross of St. Andrew, has been used as a symbol of Russia for centuries. (St. Andrew is that country’s patron saint.) It first appeared in proposals for a Russian naval ensign more than 300 years ago, during the reign of Peter the Great, and was formally adopted as early as 1710. On a red background, it was adopted as a jack and as a flag for coastal forts in 1700, remaining in use until the Revolution of 1917. Both the ensign and the jack were brought back in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and remain in use today.

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Flags
Russian ensign, 1712-1917 and 1992-present (left), and the Russian naval jack, 1700-1917, 1992-present (right).
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By adopting the banner that they have, the Новороссия (New Russia) separatists in the Ukraine are making a very public show of their allegiance to Russia — not to some abstract principle of secession, or states’ rights, or anything else. The Hit & Run blog over at the Libertarian magazine Reason cuts through the Confederate nonsense:

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The pro-Russian rebels, known for their dislike of all things American, do not take direct inspiration from the U.S. secession movement or fear the implications of separatist bad luck that their flag entails. . . .
 
Now, there have been a few incidents of Europeans waving the rebel flag as a banner of anti-tyranny, such as at the fall of the Berlin Wall and, in fact, when pro-Western Ukrainians deposed their corrupt, pro-Russian president earlier this year. But, again, this separatist movement is anti-Western.
 
The insurgents, by their own admission, don’t know jack about Dixie and certainly aren’t defending its heritage. A lot of them are just Chechen mercenaries, not history buffs.

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I know that a lot of southern nationalists in this country have a chubby for Vladimir Putin, seeing him as an ally in the culture wars. Fine, whatever. But what’s going on in the Ukraine, and the symbols chosen to define it, has nothing to do with the American South or the Confederacy. It’s about ethnic Russians making an appeal to fellow Russians, using a symbol that other Russians know.

That’s all it is. Move along, folks.

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GeneralStarsGray

 

C.S. Signal Corps Items Donated — Galveston

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 14, 2014

Forgot to post this — it’s a pretty big deal here locally. Galveston County Daily News, June 1, 2014:

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Civil War artifacts telling Galveston’s history donated to Rosenberg Library
 
By PEGGY DILLARD 
 
A number of Civil War-era artifacts have recently been donated to the Galveston & Texas History Center at the Rosenberg Library.
 
Two of these new items describe early Confederate efforts to prevent Union naval activity in Galveston Bay.
 
The Union Navy posed a significant threat to the fledgling Confederate States, which had limited maritime assets.
 
On April 19, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln issued his Proclamation of Blockade Against Southern Ports requiring the closure of 3,500 miles of Atlantic and Gulf coastline and 12 major ports, including Galveston.
Galvestonians immediately responded by organizing their most experienced men to defend the island and banded together in 1861 to form an early warning system against attack.
 
A ticket or souvenir card to Hendley’s Lookout was recently donated by Richard Eisenhour.
 
Situated on the roof of the Hendley Building, the lookout served as a Confederate watchtower during the Civil War.
 
Men stationed in the rooftop observatory closely monitored the movements of Federal gunboats blockading Galveston’s harbor. Newly constructed in 1860, the Hendley Building, 2016 Strand, housed the offices of cotton merchants William and Joseph Hendley. It remains as the oldest commercial building in Galveston.
 
Galveston’s militia leaders officially established the observatory by Special Orders issued on June 4, 1861 by Commandant S. Sherman. It was ordered that “eight men, who shall also be master mariners, and of good repute for skill and experience, be selected from the ranks of enrolled militia of Galveston County.”
 
J.J. (Joseph) Hendley, L.M. Hitchcock, Sydney Scudder, D.C. Healey, Alexander Pitt, John Y. Lawless, Jerry Smith and Charles Fowler were detailed for special service as signal masters and were stationed at the watch tower on the Hendley Building. These men, who ranged in age from 28 to 56, were all experienced seamen and sea captains.
 
Their observations began on April 22, 1861, just days after the firing on Fort Sumter and Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation establishing a blockade of all southern ports.
 
The men organized themselves into eight watches with each watch covering a 24-hour period. Each watch commenced at 8 a.m. and continued until 8 a.m. the following day.
 
An Observatory Logbook was maintained and the men ordered to submit daily dispatches to the commandant reporting on their observations. One of these logbooks is in the Galveston & Texas History Center and is believed to be one of the few surviving accounts from this observatory.
 
The men served as officers of the watch and were assisted by detachments from various Home Guard units with details coming from the Island City Rifles, the Independent Rifles, the German Citizens Guard, Galveston Guards and Sherman Guards to name a few.
 
The men organized the watches so that each man worked every seventh or eighth day.
 
Some of these men captained their own boats and on their off days, traveled between New Orleans and Galveston bringing newspapers and supplies.
 
In the first few months of watching the movements in Galveston Bay, the night’s watch battled boredom, mosquitoes and men who showed up unfit for duty.
 
Some of these detailed men proved unreliable and were often times found asleep at their post. The officers submitted a letter of protest about this behavior to the commandant when several of the detailed men had reported under the influence of drink and then proceeded to break one of their best telescopes.
 
The letter reads: “The officers of the watch would call attention of the commandant to portions of several reports lately, as to unfitness for duty of many detailed to stand guard during the night at the tower. … The drunken scamps reported last week, seriously injured one of our best telescopes, and we are now compelled to remove the best glasses at night to protect them from injury.”
 
The problem must have been resolved since no more instances of drunkenness or sleeping on duty were recorded.
 
After several months of little to no activity and complaints that the “War Flags” were becoming mildewed for want of use and wondering why Lincoln “declines presenting himself,” the U.S.S. South Carolina appeared off the coast on July 1, 1861, and lay at anchor off Galveston Bar.
 
Just a couple of days previously the watch played host to several young ladies visiting the observation tower.
 
Even as Galveston prepared its defenses and readied for war, visitors still wanted to see the view of the harbor for themselves.
 
The Galveston Civilian Extra of July 3, 1861 noted: “Yesterday forenoon the lookout on Hendley’s Buildings run up the red flag, signalizing war vessels … bringing groups of curious observers to the observatories with which Galveston is so well provided.”
 
The last entry in this logbook is dated Dec. 27, 1861, but it is believed the watch continued and other logbooks recorded.
 
The Galveston & Texas History Center has one of the surviving logbooks in its collection.
 
The ticket or souvenir card to Hendley’s Lookout lends credence to the belief that the men of the night’s watch hosted frequent visitors to the cupola atop the Hendley Building and issued tickets or souvenir cards.
 
The Observatory Logbook contains several entries of ladies visiting and bringing pies and bouquets of flowers. The coordinates on the card roughly plot to Mechanic and 14th Street, which is not the location of the Hendley Building, so it is a mystery why these coordinates were used.
 
The placement of the Stars and Stripes on the card does not definitively place the ticket in the postwar era since a printer would have used whatever patriotic advertising he had on hand.
 
The Descriptive Roll for Signal Corps in District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, donated by Ed Cotham, is a roll book that lists 39 privates detailed in the Signal Corps in the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona from 1863 to 1865. An additional 19 are listed as “Guard in the Observatory” at Galveston.
 
The U.S. Army established the Signal Corps as a new branch and appointed its first signal officer in 1860. Shortly after the war started, the Confederate Army followed suit when it became apparent that the ability to send coded messages about the enemy’s movements was an extremely valuable service.
 
The Descriptive Roll for Signal Corps is believed to be the work of Lt. Albert Loftus Lindsay, who was assigned to the unit in April 1862.
 
Lindsay was born in Old Point Comfort, Va., in 1832 and lived in Richmond. He joined the 15th Virginia Regiment on April 27, 1861, at the rank of second lieutenant.
 
Soon after, he was detached for signal duty under the command of Maj. William Norris of Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder’s staff. Lindsay transferred to Texas in 1862 along with Magruder and eventually became chief signal officer for the entire state of Texas. Headquartered in Galveston, Lindsay established signal stations in Galveston, on Bolivar Point and on Pelican Spit. This network covered a distance of six miles and effectively covered the entrance to Galveston Bay.
 
Operators used flags during the day and torches at night to communicate with each other. The observatory atop the Hendley Building was probably incorporated into this network.
 
These items are on display at the Galveston & Texas History Center in the Rosenberg Library along with other Civil War items from the collections.
 
The Galveston and Texas History Center relies primarily on donated materials to build its collections and would like to thank its donors for their continued support.
 

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GeneralStarsGray

Canister!

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 9, 2014

Posts have been spare ’round these parts lately, in large part because I’ve been distracted by other things over the last few months. In addition to wrapping up the blockade running book, I’ve got some other projects going on that I’ve been focused on. One of the minor ones is reconstructing the sidewheel from the British paddle steamer Cornubia (above), that was a notable blockade runner on the Atlantic coast before being taken into the U.S. Navy and used as a gunboat on the blockade off Galveston. Cornubia was part of what Commodore Sands called “the closing act of the great rebellion.​” More images of the wheel here. Hopefully this will end up with a digital model of the entire ship sometime down the road. Past projects include the runners Denbigh and Will o’ the Wisp, and the blockader Hatteras. More items that don’t warrant a full post:

Got anything else? Put it in the comments below.

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GeneralStarsGray

D-Day, Sixth of June

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 6, 2014

News item:

 

 Jordan
 
An 89-year-old World War II veteran reported missing Thursday evening actually fled his nursing home in England to attend the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy on Friday.
 
The Pines care home in Hove, England, where Bernard Jordan has been living with his wife since January, telephoned police Thursday after realizing Jordan hadn’t returned from his morning walk, according to local media. Police said the veteran, who was also a former mayor of Hove, left wearing his war medals concealed beneath a gray jacket.
 
A younger veteran eventually telephoned Jordan’s nursing home to report Bernard was safe and they were staying together in a hotel in Ouistreham, Normandy. The two had met on a bus en route to the ceremonies in northern France.
 
A police spokesman told reporters: “We have spoken to the veteran who called the home today and are satisfied that the pensioner is fine and that his friends are going to ensure he gets back to Hove safely over the next couple of days after the D-Day celebrations finish.”
 
“Once the pensioner is home we will go and have a chat with him to check he is OK,” the spokesman said, according to the BBC.
 
Earlier reports said the veteran was banned from traveling to Normandy to attend the ceremonies, but a representative for the nursing home said that was “definitely not the case,” according the Press Association.

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GeneralStarsGray

Blockade Running Available for Kindle

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 5, 2014

Civil War Blockade Running on the Texas Coast won’t be officially released for a few more days, but Amazon now has it available for order on Kindle, as well. Even more gooder, you can download a free sample immediately or use the “look inside” feature and read the e-edition of the first chapter and part of the second.

Too bad they cut off Chapter 2 just before the part where Seward makes an ugly, sloshy scene at the British ambassador’s dinner party. That was fun to write.

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GeneralStarsGray

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