Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“One of them was a better soldier than I was.”

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on September 17, 2018

Private Lawrence Daffan, Co. G, Fourth Texas Infantry, at Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862:

On the evening of the 16th we crossed the Antietam Creek, falling back from Boonsboro Gap. This occasioned some skirmishing and artillery duels across the creek, as we had taken a stand near Sharpsburg. We had orders the evening of the 16th to cook up three days’ rations, and to be ready to move at a moment’s warning. We were located nearly a half mile south of an old Dunkard church. There was heavy timber between us and the church; north and west of us there was a large stubblefield where wheat was cut. North of this stubble was a large cornfield of considerable dimensions. Corn there in September is as high as it is here in July; fodder was about ready to be gathered. By daylight the pickets commenced firing. By sunrise wer were ordered forward in line of battle. We stopped near the church in the heavy timber, the branches were falling on us, and many spent balls played around us.
 
A short time after this we were ordered “forward.” We emerged from the timber into the stubblefield; some of it I think had recently been plowed.
 
As we emerged from the timber, a panorama, fearful and wonderful, broke upon us. It was a line of battle in front of us. Immediately in front of us was Lawton’s Georgia Brigade. After we left the timber we were under fire, but not in a position to return the fire. As we neared Lawton’s Brigade, the order came for the Texas Brigade to charge. Whenever a halt was made by a command under fire, every man lay flat on the ground, and this was done very quick. Lawton’s Brigade had been on this line fighting some time before we reached them. Lawton’s Brigade attempted to charge, and did charge; their charge was a failure, because their numbers had been decimated; they had no strength.
 
Then the Texas Brigade as ordered to charge; the enemy was on the opposite side of this stubblefield in the cornfield. As we passed where Lawton’s Brigade had stood, there was a complete line of dead Georgians as far as I could see. Just before reaching the cornfield General Hood rode up to Colonel [Benjamin F.] Carter, commanding the fourth Texas Regiment (my regiment), and told him to front his regiment to the left and protect the flank. This he did and made a charge directly to the west. We were stopped by a pike fenced on both sides. It would have been certain death to have climbed the fence.
 
Hays’ Louisiana Brigade had been in on our left, and had been driven out. Some of their men were with us at this fence. One of them was a better soldier than I was. I was lying on the ground shooting through the fence about the second rail; he stood up and shot right over the fence. He was shot through his left hand, and through the heart as he fell on me, dead. I pushed him off and saw that “Seventh Louisiana” was on his cap.
 
The Fifth [Texas], First [Texas] and Eighteenth Georgia, which was the balance of my brigade, went straight down into the cornfield, and when they struck this cornfield, the corn blades rose like a whirlwind, and the air was full.

_____________

Lawrence Daffan was seventeen years old at the time. He survived this fight, the assault on Little Round Top at Gettysburg the following year, and the Battle of Chickamauga, only to be captured in late 1863 and spend the remainder of the war as a prisoner at Rock Island, Illinois. Passage from My Father as I Remember Him, by Katie Daffan. Image: “The Hagerstown Pike,” by Walton Taber.
 

Advertisements

Friday Night Concert, Superseding Criminal Information Edition

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 14, 2018

_______

Great Locomotive Chase Depot for Sale

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 29, 2018

The 1852 Western & Atlantic Depot in Dalton, Georgia is looking for a buyer. Priced to move at $500K, OBO.

I got a birthday comin’ up, just sayin’.

_______

 

That Other Thing Julian Carr Mentioned. . . .

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 28, 2018

As you all know by know, last week a crowd pulled down the “Silent Sam” statue at the University of North Carolina. I don’t have much to say about that, that I didn’t say last year after a mob toppled the Confederate monument in Durham. Pretty much the same dynamics were at play in both cases.

In the Silent Sam case, much attention has been focused on that monument’s dedication address by Julian Carr (right), at that time the Commander of the North Carolina Division of the United Confederate Veterans. Carr was, for all intents and purposes, the official representative for all surviving Confederate veterans in that state. In his address, he boasted about the time he “horse-whipped a negro [sic.]  wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady,” that he remembered as a “pleasing duty.”

Awful as that is, it’s the paragraph that immediately precedes that quote that stands out as speaking more directly to how Carr saw the monument, and what it represented:

The present generation, I am persuaded, scarcely takes note of what the Confederate soldier meant to the welfare of the Anglo Saxon race during the four years immediately succeeding the war, when the facts are, that their courage and steadfastness saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South – When “the bottom rail was on top” all over the Southern states, and to-day, as a consequence the purest strain of the Anglo Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States – Praise God.

When Carr talks about former Confederate soldiers “during the four years immediately succeeding the war,” whose “courage and steadfastness saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South,” “when ‘the bottom rail was on top’ all over the Southern states,” he’s saluting the Klu Klux Klan and other night riders who used fear, intimidation, and violence to keep Freedmen in check. It’s easy for a modern audience to skim right past his vague, innocuous phrasing, but North Carolinians in 1913, white and black alike, understood exactly what he was referring to.

______

 

Oh, Mississippi. . . .

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 18, 2018


The current Mississippi State Flag (left) and one historical variant of the Magnolia Flag (right).

Recently I got into a Facebook discussion about the state flag of Mississippi, and suggested that a better choice would be the Magnolia Flag, which is both a much older symbol of that state, deeply intertwined with its history, and also more distinctly Mississippian than the Confederate knock-off the state uses now. Naturally I was told almost immediately to “keep your mouth shut” because I’m not actually from Mississippi. Such is the nature of social media, I suppose.

But I was amused by another commenter in that thread, who (twice) posted this meme, presumably to show support among African Americans in Mississippi for retaining the current flag:

If you guessed that the man in the picture wasn’t really carrying petitions to preserve the current Mississippi flag, you’d be right — but only half right, because it’s far more ludicrous than that. He’s actually Carlos E. Moore, a Mississippi attorney who also serves as a municipal judge in Clarksdale. He made news last year when he had the state flag removed from his courtroom. The photo itself is from a local news story in 2008 that has nothing whatever to do with the dispute over the flag.

Suffice to say, I don’t think Judge Moore is going to be collecting petitions to retain the current Mississippi State Flag anytime soon.

I don’t have high expectations for the Confederate Heritage™ folks generally, but sometimes the rank dishonesty really is breathtaking, even for someone as jaded about it as I am. As I’ve said before, if you have to brazenly lie like that to preserve your “heritage,” maybe it’s not worth saving.

________

Legislative Journal_ThumbnailUpdate, August 20: Several folks in that discussion have averred that the current Mississippi State Flag was originally adopted by a public referendum — “The 1894 flag was voted by the PEOPLE. By the VOTERS.”

That’s not true, either. 

The design was adopted by the Mississippi Legislature based on S.B. 134, the passed the Senate on February 6, 1894 (pp. 350-53, PDF). It was approved by the House of Representatives the next day.

The True Southron™ struggle against objective, observable reality continues.

_______

Houston Would-Be Monument Bomber Gets Six Years

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 17, 2018

The man who attempted to blow up the Dick Dowling monument in Houston last year pleaded guilty back in March, and today was sentenced to six years in prison.

Schneck pleaded guilty in March before U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. to a willful attempt to maliciously damage or destroy property in violation of federal law. At the time, a federal prosecutor dismissed a sentence enhancement related to the harm an explosion could have caused, which could have allowed for a longer prison sentence.

Schneck had a history of concocting homemade explosives. At sentencing, judge asked him why he did it this time.

“The intent was to damage the statue significantly,” he said.

Schneck pleaded guilty in March before U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. to a willful attempt to maliciously damage or destroy property in violation of federal law. At the time, a federal prosecutor dismissed a sentence enhancement related to the harm an explosion could have caused, which could have allowed for a longer prison sentence.

Schneck had a history of concocting homemade explosives. At sentencing, judge asked him why he did it this time.

“The intent was to damage the statue significantly,” he said.

________

Image: Houston Firefighters arrive a the scene of a “law enforcement operation” led by the FBI on the 2000 block of Albans Road Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, in Houston. Godofredo A. Vasquez / Houston Chronicle

Guerrilla Memorial

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 22, 2018

Recently a local FB user posted this image of a tiny (about eight inches square) marker set into the top of the Galveston Seawall. It’s totally unofficial. A quick check of online genealogy resources and newspapers tells us that Eudoxio “Eddie” Rodriguez was born in Mier, Tamaulipas, Mexico in November 1881, emigrated to the United States in 1899 or 1900, and soon thereafter was working as a laborer on building the Galveston Seawall, around 1902-03. In 1910 he was still in Galveston, working as a day laborer. He was apparently active in community affairs, as in 1926 (still living in Galveston), he was elected to the post of Treasurer of the a local Woodmen of the World lodge. By 1940 he was head of a large family, owned his own home at 3814 Sealy, and was working as a bottler at the Galveston-Houston Brewery. It was a solid job, that he reported in the 1940 Census had paid over $1,800 the previous year – not a small thing, coming out of the Great Depression. (His eldest son, 26-year-old Philip, lived with the family and made almost as much as a tank cleaner at the brewery.) The average income reported in the census in 1940 (the first to record that information) was $1,368, which places the Rodriguez pretty squarely in the lower middle class. In 1942, at the age of 60, Eudoxio registered for the “old man’s draft” for military service. Eudoxio Rodriguez died in Houston in 1959. A funeral mass was held Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Galveston, and he was interred at Old Catholic Cemetery, just off Broadway in Galveston.

Eudoxio Rodriguez is not a famous person, nor did he lead the sort of life that attracts a lot of headlines or notoriety. But one of his many grandchildren thought he should be remembered, and that’s pretty awesome.

_________

Marker photo by Barry Landry.

 

Talkin’ Steamboats, Thursday in Houston

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 8, 2018

This coming Thursday, July 12, I’ll be speaking on the history of steamboating on Buffalo Bayou, and the competition between Galveston and Houston for commercial dominance in 19th century Texas. My hosts will be the Harris County Chapter of the Texas German Society, that will meet at 6:45 p.m. Thursday at the Trini Mendenhall Sosa Community, 1414 Wirt Road.

Hope to see y’all there!

______

Image: Buffalo Bayou Sidewheeler DIANA at Galveston, via Richard Eisenhour.

Paroled at Vicksburg

Posted in Genealogy, Memory by Andy Hall on July 4, 2018

From 2010:
__________

Sunday marked the 147th anniversary of the end of the siege of Vicksburg. One of the Confederate soldiers taken prisoner that day was 26-year-old William C. Denman (1836-1906), a private in Company B, 30th Alabama Infantry. William Denman grew up with four younger siblings in Calhoun County, Alabama, where his widower father, Blake Denman, was a well-to-do farmer. The elder Denman was a slaveholder. William enlisted in the 30th Alabama on March 5, 1862. The regiment served in the western theater and, as part of S. D. Lee’s Brigade, saw action in several skirmishes. It suffered heavy casualties at Champion’s Hill (May 16, 1863), where it suffered 229 killed, wounded and missing — roughly half its numbers. Retreating in the face of Union General Grant’s army, Confederate forces including the 30th Alabama withdrew into Vicksburg, where they were quickly trapped between the Federal army to the east and the Federal Navy on the Mississippi. As part of S. D. Lee’s brigade, the 30th Alabama was assigned the defense of the Railroad Redoubt, one of the strong points in the Vicksburg defenses. The fort was overrun in a bloody assault on May 22, but eventually recaptured after Confederate troops regrouped and counterattacked.

After a hard siege lasting several weeks, the Confederate general commanding at Vicksburg, John C. Pembeton, surrendered his force to Grant on July 4. Private Denman, along with about 18,000 other Confederate soldiers, was paroled a few days later.Grant described this process in his memoir:

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 30th Alabama, like several other surrendered units from Vicksburg, was reorganized a short while later, and it appears that Denman continued with this reconstituted regiment. (The reorganization of these units using men who had been paroled became a subject of dispute between Union and Confederate forces, which the following year caused the Union to suspend almost all parole for captured Confederate soldiers.) In January 1864, Denman transferred to a cavalry regiment, in which he remained to the end of the war.

After the war Denman married Sarah Crankfield (1847-1932), of South Carolina. They lived in Alabama and Louisiana before settling in Marion County, Florida in 1875. There they farmed and, in their later years, operated a boarding house. They had ten children together, but only two survived to adulthood. In 1900 Denman applied for a pension based on injuries received in the war, claiming he was “incapacitated for manual labor” as a result of eating pea bread, an ersatz bread made of ground stock peas and cornmeal, during the siege of Vicksburg. It resulted, Denman claimed, in chronic gastritis and bilious dyspepsia. He died in 1906.

________

At Long Last, Something to Bind Up the Nation’s Wounds. . . .

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 30, 2018

______