Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“Ex. insufficient”: The Leadership of Midshipman Edward Lea

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on December 13, 2017

Some of you will be familiar with the story of Lieutenant Commander Edward Lea, Executive Officer of USS Harriet Lane, who was mortally wounded in the Battle of Galveston on New Year’s Day 1863. Lea was famously reunited with his father Albert, a Confederate staff officer, after the battle. After Major Lea went to obtain an ambulance to have his son transported to a hospital, the naval officer’s shipmates asked what they could do for him. Nothing, he replied, “my father is here.” Those words are now chiseled into Edward Lea’s tombstone (above, in 2011).

Recently I happened on Lea’s disciplinary record from his time at the the U.S. Naval Academy. Lea got himself written up pretty regularly, generally for minor infractions — “talking at battery exercise,” “out of room in study hours,” “absent from parade,” and the like — but one of the more serious incidents happened in January 1854, during his Second Class (junior) year, for “allowing a hissing noise in his crew on leaving the Mess Hall on the 24th and not reporting the same.” In the last column of the entry is the notation, “Ex[cuse] insufficient.” And they threw the book at him — ten demerits.

At the risk of over-interpreting this entry, it sure reads as though one of Lea’s squad members made a vulgar or disrespectful noise directed at someone or something and, when one of his superiors demanded an answer, Lea declined to name the offender or assist in his discovery. And so Edward Lea himself took the demerits, quite likely more than the original offender would’ve received.

If that’s what happened, that’s leadership. There’s no way to know what or who prompted this incident in the first place, but Lea took responsibility for it, and refused to point the finger at the actual culprit. It’s also the kind of move that — no matter what they might say — earns the respect of both his superiors and the lower class midshipmen he led. It suggests a great deal about his character and style of leadership, and explains why, after he died in action nine years later, his comrades saw to his proper and respectful burial.

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Talkin’ Civil War Stuff

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on December 10, 2017

I’m pleased to announce that I will be speaking on Wednesday, December 27, at the Texas City Museum at 409 Sixth Street N, in Texas City. I will be on the program with my friend and colleague Ed Cotham, who will be speaking about the Battle of Galveston. It’s gonna be fun, y’all, so please come out if you can.

“Captain Dave Versus the Yankees”
1 p.m. Wednesday, December 27

On a Sunday morning in the spring of 1864, the lives of two men intersected violently on the deck of a blockade-running schooner off the mouth of the Brazos River. In many ways, the two men were very much alike. Both were young and in the prime of their lives. Both were professional merchant seamen, and both were immigrants to this country. But the circumstances of war brought these men, who otherwise might have been fast friends, together in violent conflict.

The story of these two men, Dave McCluskey and Paul Börner, embodies the back-and-forth story of blockade running on the Texas coast during the American Civil War. While Texas was far from the center of the conflict, it remained an important part of the Confederacy and major source of cotton being shipped overseas. Texas’ importance actually grew during the war, as other ports on the Atlantic and Gulf coast were systematically seized by U.S. forces. Texas experienced a flurry of blockade-running activity in the last months of the conflict, with the last runners slipping in and out of Galveston some six weeks after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox and the collapse of Confederate armies in the east.

Andy Hall has volunteered with the office of the State Marine Archaeologist at the Texas Historical Commission since 1990, helping to document historic shipwrecks in Texas waters. From 1997 to 2002, Hall served as Co-Principal Investigator for the Denbigh Project, the most extensive archaeological investigation of a Civil War blockade runner to date in the Gulf of Mexico. Hall writes and speaks frequently on the subjects of Texas’ maritime history and its military conflicts in the 19th century.

“Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston.”
2:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 27

At the end of the Civil War, Galveston was the last major Confederate port. But this result came only after a land and sea battle in which Confederate forces recaptured the city from the Union, the only major port that the Confederates ever recaptured. The Battle of Galveston, which took place on January 1, 1863, was the biggest Civil War battle in Texas and one of the most unusual of the entire war. In his multi-media presentation, based on his award-winning book of the same title, Ed Cotham discusses the details of the battle and its important consequences for Texas and the conduct of the war.

A former President of the Houston Civil War Round Table, Ed Cotham (right) has written four award-winning books on the Civil War, including Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston, which was published by the University of Texas Press in 1998. This book has been hailed as a “Texas Classic.” Ed has served as a project historian on several Texas shipwreck projects and is active in the movement to interpret and preserve historic sites. He is also a frequent lecturer and battlefield guide. When he is not researching and writing on the Civil War, Ed serves as Director and Chief Investment Officer for the Terry Foundation, the largest private provider of college scholarships in Texas. http://www.edcotham.com/

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Private Stevens’ Discharge

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on December 3, 2017

In a feature article I wrote a while back for the Civil War Monitor magazine, I mentioned the story of Private Z.T. Winfree, a Confederate soldier who was stationed here in Galveston at the time of the final Confederate collapse in the spring of 1865. On May 24, he and his comrades witnessed a crowd of soldiers and civilians who swarmed aboard blockade runner Lark and looted the vessel for anything and everything they could carry away:

That same evening, Winfree and his messmates were transported by train to Houston as part of a general military evacuation of Galveston Island. The following day in Houston, Winfree witnessed similar scenes of looting, “a general pillage of all things which the Confederacy had for her soldiers, such as ordnance, commissary and quartermasters’ supplies, C.S. mules, wagons, etc.” Winfree saw a crowd of soldiers at one of the buildings used as a headquarters, and learned that discharges were being freely handed out to all who requested them. The clerks soon ran out of printed discharge forms, so many soldiers, including Winfree, received papers granting them open-ended furloughs from their units. “We had not been acting very honorably for the past two days,” Winfree reflected years later, “but after all we had only been taking our own.”

Winfree painted a vivid picture of the chaos and confusion at Confederate headquarters in Houston, where harried clerks scrambled to fill out discharge forms and furloughs for the crowd of soldiers wanting to claim them as their units were spontaneously disbanding. This weekend a friend of mine from Houston Civil War Roundtable shared with me a document held by his family, the discharge paper issued to one of his ancestors, Private John A. Stevens of Company G, Thirty-fifth Texas Dismounted Cavalry. According to family lore, Stevens’ company commander, Captain G. E. Warren, managed to grab a sheaf of blank discharge forms from headquarters and then put his company on the northbound train of the Houston & Texas Central. Captain Warren’s intent was apparently to keep them together as a unit and out of trouble and get them out of Houston and on their way to their homes. Warren took them on the train all the way to Navasota (near the end of the railroad at Millican) and, only after arriving there,  filled out the soldiers’ discharge papers and released them to make their way home. Private Stevens is said to have carried this discharge form on his person for many years after.

It’s wonderful to see a tangible document of this sort, it helps corroborate a story like this. It helps make the collapse of the Confederacy in Texas that much more real, at least for me. Thanks to my friend for sharing this with me.

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Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on November 23, 2017

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Image: Harper’s Weekly, 1869.

Hood’s Texas Brigade Association, Re-activated Meeting, December 1-2 in Galveston

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on November 7, 2017

I am pleased to announce that I will be speaking on blockade running off the Texas Coast on the evening of Friday, December 1, at the annual scholarly seminar of the Hood’s Texas Brigade Association, Re-activated (HTBAR) in Galveston. Registration for the seminar is open through November 27, using the attached form (PDF). A complete schedule of events is included in the registration materials.

 The main presenters at this year’s seminar, recognizing the 50th Anniversary of HTBAR, are top-notch in their field, and always worth hearing:

  •  Dr. Susannah Ural: “Hood’s Texans: How the Texas Brigade Became the Confederacy’s Most Celebrated Unit”
  • Rick Eiserman: “Fifty Years of Service to Hood’s Brigade”
  • Dr. Rick McCaslin: “Remembering Hood’s Texas Brigade: Pompeo Coppini and Confederate Memory”

I’ve had the opportunity to hear each of these speakers before, and this is an event no one should miss if they have an interest in Hood’s Brigade. I look forward to renewing some old acquaintances there, and making some new ones.

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The Texas Confederate on Boot Hill

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 26, 2017

In recognition of Thursday’s anniversary of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, an old post from 2014. . . .

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ClantonGrave

OldManClantonThere’s always a new angle on an old story, isn’t there?

This past weekend there was a post by a member over at Civil War Talk who recently visited Tombstone, Arizona, and was surprised to see a small Confederate flag marking the grave of one of that location’s better-known, um, residents. Newman Haynes “Old Man” Clanton (right, c. 1880) was the father of Ike and Billy Clanton, part of the “Cowboy” faction that ran afoul of the Earp brothers in Tombstone in 1881. When the Earps, along with the tubercular dentist Doc Holliday confronted the Cowboys at the OK Corral in late October 1881, Ike happened to be unarmed and ran off; Billy stayed and died, shot through the right wrist and in the chest and abdomen.

Old Man Clanton didn’t live to see his son killed in that famous shoot-out; Newman had himself been shot down a few months before in an ambush while herding stolen cattle through the Guadalupe Canyon, at the extreme southern end of the Arizona/New Mexico border. In truth, all the Clantons had a long reputation as troublemakers and small-time criminals, mostly involving cattle rustling, often with animals stolen from across the border in Mexico. Ike Clanton himself would be killed in a shoot-out with a detective attempting to arrest him on rustling charges in 1887; his violent end probably surprised exactly no one.

The family was originally from Missouri, but resettled in Texas in the 1850s. At the time of the 1860 U.S. Census, Newman Haynes Clanton and his family were were farming or ranching in Dallas County. He and his wife, Maria (or Mariah), had six children living with them, including twelve-year-old Joseph Isaac Clanton, later known as Ike. Two more children, including Billy, would be born after 1860.

Clanton’s Civil War service record, as documented by his file at the National Archives (8.3MB PDF), is spotty. He appears to have enlisted as a Private in Co. K of the First Texas Heavy Artillery Regiment at Waco on March 1, 1862, for a period of one year. In May 1862 he was on detached duty at Hempstead, Texas, employed as a nurse. He was discharged on July 6 as being overage; he would have been in his mid-40s. He re-enlisted at Fort Hébert, near Galveston, on January 1, 1863, the day of the Battle of Galveston, ostensibly for the duration of the war. Clanton apparently had other plans, though, because his record shows him as absent without leave from that date, and marked as a deserter from March 2, 1863.

In ealry 1864, Clanton joined an unknown Texas State Militia unit which was probably occupied paroling the frontier. He went into the U.S. Provost’s headquarters at Franklin, Texas (north of present-day Bryan and College Station) on August 26, 1865 and swore out his allegiance to the United States. Just eight days later, on September 3, 1865, Clanton arrived at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory, with (as his record notes) “persons now at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory, enroute to California, who formerly belonged to the Confederate States Army.” The speed of Clanton’s travel — roughly 850 miles in eight days — strongly suggests he went by stagecoach, rather than on his own horse or by wagon. Even so, it would have been an unusually fast stagecoach ride; the pre-war Butterfield Overland Express traveled roughly that same route, and didn’t make as good a time as Clanton would have had to in the summer of 1865.

Or maybe, as CWT user Nathanb1 suggests, he wasn’t in both places at all. The NARA records, ostensibly made just over a week apart, almost describe different middle-aged men:

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Page 11bPage 7b

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Same man at Franklin, Texas on August 26, and then at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory on September 3? It’s hard to see how. But if anyone was the sort to have some unknown scheme, it would be Newman Haynes Clanton.

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Boot Hill grave site image via Find-a-Grave.

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Mark Antony Waves the Bloody Shirt

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 25, 2017

Click-click-clicking through YouTube videos, I happened on this one, of Charlton Heston’s performance of the famous “friends, Romans, countrymen” speech from Julius Caesar. It’s the first time, I think, I’ve seen it performed, and it makes a striking difference from simply reading the text, or listening to a recitation of it.

“. . . and Brutus is an honorable man.” That, my friends, Romans, countrymen, is how you turn the knife in the wound.

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Kirk Lyons Wants Your Money, and “Lots of It.”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 22, 2017

I’m not an attorney, but this has to be the most ranty, spittle-flecked screed I’ve ever seen come from a member of the bar:

ONGOING HORROR – Earlier this Week, Lexington Kentucky, now Caddo Parish, LA Monument! Are you mad yet?

These monuments are protected by the FIRST AMENDMENT. The political whores who make these decisions , constitutionally should have NO say in the matter of monuments that constitute public art – because these decision makers ARE government & because their predecessors accepted these monuments in trust & in perpetuity on behalf of the PEOPLE they were elected to serve. Elected officials blow into office and blow out – they have no right or power to get rid of the “peoples’ artwork” even if they use “private money to pay for it!”

This legal doctrine (developed in our Texas federal court cases in San Antonio, Dallas & UT Austin) is an exception to the so -called “government speech”doctrine announced by the US Supreme Court 2 years ago in the SCV license plate case.

Of course our 3rd world cities love Govt speech – Government Speech Ueber Alles!! they cry – it trumps everything and allows the sneak thiefs to pull down monuments in the dead of night! In Kentucky the Mayor of Lexington’s buddy the Atty General writes a BS opinion saying the monuments can come down – the State Agency charged with oversight stands down & refuses to intervene- even though the monuments are at least partially STATE property. Treason & collusion!

SLRC has a workable legal doctrine that NEEDS to be the law of the land – it can step in in states where there is weak or non existent Monument protection laws. It can be used to challenge the legality of monument desecrations already perpetrated.

He goes on to list some of the things he needs in his struggle — cash being at the top of the list, of course — immediately followed by “legal eggheads to write law review articles.” That’s real collegial and professional, counselor.

There’s lots more foolishness in the post, that you can reflect on at your leisure. As long-time readers know, Lyons has a history of making grandiose claims about his legal acumen and his ability to overturn the tyrannical rule of the Yankee courts, if only people would send him money. As far as I can tell, his actual record of success in litigating heritage cases is, to be diplomatic, limited. In the Dallas case he mentions, he managed to secure an emergency stay for the federal court to block the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument there, that only halted the work until the parties could make oral arguments before the bench. The stay was lifted the following day — less than 24 hours after being imposed, as I recall — and the monument was removed soon afterwards. How Lyons’ filing in that case is supposed to serve as a model for the vindication of Confederate monuments all the way up through the Supreme Court is really beyond my legal ken.

Certainly people are free to send Lyons and his organization money if they want to, but it’s hard to imagine that many people would read that appeal, and look at Lyons’ record, and go looking for their checkbook.

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An Object of Yankee Ire

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 21, 2017

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The Astros’ Locomotive at Minute Maid Park is based loosely on the Civil War Western & Atlantic Railroad locomotive “General.” Yankees have hated that thing for a long, long time.

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Racer’s Storm

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 6, 2017

One hundred  eighty years ago today, on October 6, 1837, Galveston was struck by a tremendous hurricane that is now known as Racer’s Storm after HMS Racer, a British warship that was nearly sunk in the gale off Belize, British Honduras. Racer’s Storm, one of the most destructive of the 19th century, passed westward through the Caribbean, across the Yucatán peninsula, and up along the Mexican and Texas coasts before crossing into Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and finally Georgia. When the storm passed Galveston between October 6 and 8, 1837, the storm surge covered the island. Almost every vessel in the harbor was sunk or driven ashore, including Brutus, the last of the original four vessels of the Texian Navy, and almost every structure on the island was damaged or destroyed.

Amasa Turner, a Texian military officer and early Galveston settler, left an account of Racer’s Storm that highlights the efforts of Lent Munson Hitchcock in helping to rescue some of the women and children trapped during the hurricane. Turner had asked Munse Hitchcock to anchor his small pilot boat near his house, that was crammed to standing-room only with several families upstairs as well as about eighty soldiers on the ground floor. Asked if he thought the boat could reach the mainland if necessary, Hitchcock replied that he had simplified the rig to function better in high wind; he thought he might be able to reach Virginia Point on the mainland that way in necessary.

The water continued to rise, and the force of wind and waves pushed the structure off its foundation blocks. It held together, but Turner had to knock out the wall siding on the north and south sides of the structure to allow the water to pass through unimpeded. About 10 p.m. Hitchcock brought his boat under the lee of the house, and they began transferring the women and children into it, covering them with quilts and blankets. Hitchcock then ran the boat with its precious cargo toward the highest point he could find, grounding the boat hard about 150 yards from Turner’s house. He and some other men then carried the boat’s anchor as far forward as they could, planting it securely, with the intent to keep moving it forward as the water rose Fortunately the water did not rise any higher, and after about an hour and a half began to recede. At about 2 a.m. the men suggested returning the boat and all aboard to the house, but the women declined – the children were all comfortably asleep on the mattresses and blankets in the bottom of Captain Hitchcock’s pilot boat.

Join the Texas Navy Association on Saturday, October 21, at 10 a.m. at Old Episcopal Cemetery in Galveston, for a medallion ceremony recognizing Lent Munson Hitchcock, Jr. (right), who served as an officer in the Texian Navy during the Revolution in 1836-37. The Texas Navy Association is a private, 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to preserving and promoting the historical legacy of the naval forces of the Republic of Texas, 1835-45. Membership in the Texas Navy Association is open to all persons age 16 and over who have an interest in Texas history and want to help support the goals of the organization.

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