Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“I am Spartacus!”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 17, 2017

Via my friend Donna:


Be Careful What You Ask For. . . .

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 14, 2017

Earlier this evening, a crowd pulled down a Confederate monument in North Carolina. Two thoughts:

First, the people who did this should be prosecuted.

Second, the folks who pushed hard in North Carolina (and other states) for legislation that prevents local governments from moving or altering Confederate monuments on their own property need to acknowledge that in doing so, they’ve made incidents like this MORE likely now, not less. Had Durham County been able to deal with this issue directly, this monument might well have been moved rather than destroyed.

These laws to “protect” monuments by preventing local communities from making their own decisions about them are a bit like tying down the safety valve on a steam boiler — it works great for a while, but it only lasts so long until the whole damned thing blows up.



The Rancid Circus Comes to Charlottesville

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 9, 2017

It’s still three days until the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, and it already seems to be unraveling in a mass of name-calling, accusations of bad faith, and blustery posturing by the groups involved. These include the League of the South, the Traditionalist Workers Party, the Kekistan Militia, the Three Percenters, Oathkeepers, Identity Evropa, the Nationalist Socialist Party, and various local self-described “militia” groups with names like “KK and the Pirates” and the “Fraternal Order of Alt-Right.” They’re arguing over whether open carry is allowed or not (and who really has the stones to defy the law if it’s not), whether or not the City of Charlottesville revoked their event permit, and whether or not they should move to a new, larger venue as ordered by the city or remain in the original, cramped location.

Some of these groups insist that they don’t have any political alignment or affinity with the Richard Spencer crowd, and are only there to show their support for the principle of Free Speech. None of them, as far as I can tell, have ever rallied to support the principle of Free Speech on behalf of Black Lives Matter or any group or cause on the left side of the political spectrum.

This event is nominally a rally in support of preserving Confederate monuments under threat in Charlotseville, but no one believes that’s what’s really going on here. The event is being promoted heavily on forums like Stormfront. Several heritage groups, including the Virginia Division of the SCV, denounced this event weeks ago.

AirBnB has cancelled the reservations of customers who they believe are going to Charlottesville to attend the event.

Both the Rutherford Institute, a libertarian-leaning think tank and legal resource center, and the ACLU have weighed in on the City of Charlotteville’s handling of this clusterfnck.

The local organizer, self-described “citizen journalist” Jason Kessler, appears to under a lot of stress, and posts unhinged, profanity-filled selfie video streams every time something goes wrong. In one of them he claims he’s being followed by a gang of trans women — and ZOMG he’s not even in a public restroom!

The evolving Charlottesville clown show is being covered in regular posts at the satirically-named Restoring the Honor blog (some language NSFW), that has been exposing the ties between the “Heritage not Hate” folks and white nationalist extremists for a while now. This morning, Restoring the Honor is asking, “Is Unite The Right going to be the Nazis’ Altamont?”

It’s gonna be interesting, y’all.


Tour USS Monitor Turret this Week Only

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 7, 2017

Sorry for the late notice on this, y’all. I hope slots are still available.

Behind-the-scenes tours with historian John V. Quarstein, Director of the Monitor Center, will be available for the public the week of August 7! See below for select times.

Tours include a walk through the award winning Ironclad Revolution exhibit, a behind-the-scenes look at the Batten Conservation Complex, a chance to go inside the turret tank and come within inches of this iconic object, and the ability to handle some rarely seen USS Monitor artifacts. Tours are $100 per person and may be booked online below.Tours are not suitable for children under the age of 10 and are limited to 10 people at a time. Don’t miss this chance to see conservation in action!Tour times, with links to register online:


Texian Navy Days, September 15-17

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 6, 2017


Friday Sept 15th:TNA Annual Golf Tournament
Saturday Sept 16th: Luncheon and Historical Tours
Sunday Sept 17th:   Memorial Medallion Dedication 

Special room rate at Moody Gardens, $159 Deadline for hotel registration is 24 August, 2017 When registering indicate you are with the Texas Navy Association. Call Moody Gardens at 888-388-8484


To register by regular mail: DOWNLOAD REGISTRATION FORM

To register by regular mail for Golf Only: DOWNLOAD FORM

Saturday September 16th

1000-1100 Sons of the Republic of Texas Texian Navy Day ceremony aboard the USS Texas in La Porte. Depending on the level of interest, transportation may be provided from the Moody Gardens Hotel to the USS Texas and back for a fee ($20 depending on number of participants). If interested contact Admiral Chester Barnes at or 630-229-3681

1200-1400 Texian Navy Days luncheon and Admiral Commissioning Ceremony at Moody Gardens Hotel $40 per guest. Please indicate beef, chicken or fish entrée or special dietary needs. For additional info contact Adm Chester Barnes chester-at-barnes-dot-com or 630-229-3681

1430-1730 Special Guided tour of Galveston’s JP Bryan Museum followed by a guided bus/van tour of Galveston historic sites at $45 per participant. Museum tour ends at 1600 and bus/van tour is 1600-1730. Space is limited and advance registration is required.

1900 Dinner on your own

Sunday September 17th

1330 Memorial Medallion Dedication to honor Lieutenant Lent Munson Hitchcock of the Texian schooner Brutus, and the namesake of Hitchcock, Texas. Trinity Episcopal Cemetery, near 40th and Broadway, in Galveston. Open to the public.


Things that Go “Boom!”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 5, 2017

My colleague Chubacus from posted this image, subsequently identified by CWT user lordroel, of U.S. Navy tests of a spar torpedo at Newport, Rhode Island on September 11, 1871. The note on the back of the image gives the size of the charge as 160 lbs, about 20% more than used by the Confederate submersible H. L. Hunley in sinking USS Housatonic in February 1864. It was a steam launch very much like this that sank CSS Albemarle.

Presented in both flat and 3D anaglyph formats.

You can visit Chubacus’ photography blog here.


For the Ferroequinologists

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 30, 2017

A few years ago I happened on this Library of Congress image, and wondered what the implements carried by the man at left were. My guess was that they were handles of some sort for carrying rail. I was on the right track (so to speak), but thanks to a colleague on Facebook, the answer is even more interesting for CW train buffs. It’s described (and this same image included) in Herman Haupt’s memoir:

Other experiments were made on old sidings near Alexandria to determine the best mode of rapidly destroying tracks. The usual mode adopted by the enemy had been to tear up the rails, pile the cross ties, place the rails upon them, set the pile on fire, and bend the rails when heated. I found this mode entirely too slow, as several hours were required to heat the rails sufficiently and, when bent, we could generally straighten them for use in a few minutes, in fact, in less than one-tenth of the time required to heat and bend them.

We had been experimenting for some time with no results that I considered satisfactory, when one day [E. C.] Smeed came into my office with a couple of U-shaped irons in his hands (see illustration on page 111) and exclaimed: “I’ve got it!” “Got what?” I asked. “Got the thing that will tear up track as quickly as you can say ‘Jack Robinson,’ and spoil the rails so that nothing but a rolling mill can ever repair them.”

“That is just what I want,” was my reply; “but how are you to do it with that pair of horseshoes ?”

He explained his plan. The irons were turned up and over at the ends so as firmly to embrace the base of the rail. Into the cavity of the U a stout lever of wood was to be inserted. A rope at the end of the lever would allow half a dozen men to pull upon it and twist the rail. When the lever was pulled down to the ground and held there, another iron was to be placed beside it, and another twist given, then the first iron removed and the process repeated four or five times until a corkscrew twist was given to the rail. After hearing the explanation, I said: “I think it will do; let us go at once and try it.” Smeed’s plan was found to answer perfectly, and the problem of the simplest and quickest mode of destroying track was satisfactorily solved.​

I don’t know if the men shown are Smeed and Haupt, but I suspect they are.



July 4, 1863: Vicksburg Falls

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 4, 2017

One hundred fifty-four years ago today, Vicksburg fell to General Grants army after a siege of 46 days. My great-great-grandfather, William Colder Demnan of the 30th Alabama Infantry, was one of the 18,000 Confederate troops surrendered on that day. The Confederate commander, Pemberton, later said he chose Independence Day to surrender because he felt he could get better terms of surrender on that day than on any other.

Grant wrote of the aftermath in his memoirs:

Pemberton and his army were kept in Vicksburg until the whole could be paroled. The paroles were in duplicate, by organization (one copy for each, Federals and Confederates), and signed by the commanding officers of the companies or regiments. Duplicates were also made for each soldier and signed by each individually, one to be retained by the soldier signing and one to be retained by us. Several hundred refused to sign their paroles, preferring to be sent to the North as prisoners to being sent back to fight again. Others again kept out of the way, hoping to escape either alternative. . . .

As soon as our troops took possession of the city guards were established along the whole line of parapet, from the river above to the river below. The prisoners were allowed to occupy their old camps behind the intrenchments. No restraint was put upon them, except by their own commanders. They were rationed about as our own men, and from our supplies. The men of the two armies fraternized as if they had been fighting for the same cause. When they passed out of the works they had so long and so gallantly defended, between lines of their late antagonists, not a cheer went up, not a remark was made that would give pain. Really, I believe there was a feeling of sadness just then in the breasts of most of the Union soldiers at seeing the dejection of their late antagonists.

The painting above hangs in the Governor’s Suite of the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. (It was one of several paintings that were recently threatened with relocation, but I understand that plan was shelved after public outcry.) It depicts the Fourth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry leading Federal troops into the city. It was painted by Francis D. Millet (1846-1912) sometime after 1905. Millet, one of the best-known American artists of the period, was himself a Civil War veteran. Millet died in April 1912 in the sinking of Titanic.

h/t Kevin Dally

Update: A blog reader notes that Millet also designed the Army Campaign Medal issued to CW veterans:



Faugh A Ballabh – Clear the Way!

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 3, 2017


On the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, an Irish Brigade flag flies on a private residence in Galveston.



Presentation Thursday — “Sailing a Square-Rigger”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 3, 2017

Join us this Thursday evening, July 6, at Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant in Galveston for guest speaker, Jamie White, past director of the Texas Seaport Museum and the historic 1877 Iron Barque Elissa and an Admiral in the Texas Navy Association. Captain White will give a presentation on “Sailing Elissa ~ a Square Rig Primer.” Captain White will present a lecture on the dynamics of setting sail aboard and maneuvering the official tall ship of Texas, Elissa, and how ships of the Texas Navy would have been similarly handled underway during battle.

Having worked in the traditional rigging and square-rig sail training industry since the early 1980s, Captain White has built an extensive knowledge and understanding of traditional sailing ships and their operational and restoration/maintenance and educational outreach requirements. He has sailed over 30,000 miles as bosun, mate, or master on many square-rigged & traditional vessels including: HMAV Bounty, the three-masted barque Elissa, topsail schooner Californian, galleon Golden Hinde, barque Star of India, brig Pilgrim, schooner Adventuress, 3 masted schooner Jacqueline, square-topsail ketch Hawaiian Chieftain, brig Lady Washington, schooner Atlantis, and the brigantine Soren Larsen. He served as Chief/Master Rigger on the three-masted barque Glenlee, the four-masted barque Moshulu, the three-masted ship Balclutha, and the three-masted schooner C.A. Thayer. Captain White has served as a rigging consultant on the the four-masted ship Falls of Clyde, the three-masted ship Discovery, and the three-masted barque Polly Woodside. Most recently he spent much of 2016 supervising and directing the $3.5 million rigging restoration of the largest wrought iron sailing ship in the world, the full rigged ship Wavertree, launched 1885. He has served as both Master and Education Coordinator on the brig Lady Washington in 1988-89.

The event will begin with a meet-and-greet and cash bar at 6:30 p.m., with dinner and the presentation beginning at 7:30. Attendees can order from the regular Fisherman’s Wharf menu, and will be responsible for purchasing their own food and drinks. Those wanting to attend should RSVP to Adm. Butch Spafford, (409) 239-three one eight two, or by e-mail to admspafford-at-gmail-dot-com

The planned agenda for the July 6 meeting is available here.

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. In Galveston, the Charles E. Hawkins Squadron was organized in the fall of 2016, and meets on the first Thursday evening in odd-numbered months at Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant.