Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Civil War Books & Authors’ Review of Locomotives

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 4, 2017

Tyson Ten Wheeler Combined with Bands 720

Over at Civil War Books and Authors, Andrew Wagenhoffer gives a solid review to Dave Bright’s Locomotives Up the Turnpike:

About half the narrative is devoted to Bright’s meticulously reconstructed account of the Haul. In addition to being both a testament to still heavily discounted Confederate engineering prowess and the literature’s first truly comprehensive and primary source based history of the event, the book very effectively counters the many naysayers past and present. Contrary to common belief, abundant evidence that the event truly happened exists in the archives, and Bright was able to compile hundreds of these primary source documents as the backbone of his study. The mental image of teams of men and horses dragging enormously heavy locomotives down primitive roads probably dominates the thinking of the doubters, but the truth of the matter is that much of the engine and rolling stock was either wholly or partially burned prior to the removal operation, and the locomotives were significantly dismantled (as an example, wooden engine trucks were often substituted for the metal trucks to lower the weight) before being moved. The processing, organization, and routes of these equipment convoys are detailed in the text. . .

The book is abundantly illustrated with photographs, original maps, and color artwork. For the benefit of the reader, a vast number of tables organize data of all kinds. In the appendix section, one can find among other things an effective summary rebuttal of the Haul’s detractors, full ‘biographies’ of the locomotives saved through the Haul, and rosters of the hundreds of men (and a few women) employed by Sharp during his various postings and operations in Virginia and the Carolinas.

On several levels, Locomotives Up the Turnpike is a significant contribution to the railroad history of the Confederacy. Its unique and exhaustive documentation of the famous Haul means that other authors finally have a proper source to refer to in their own work, and the question of whether the event actually occurred or not seems more than convincingly answered. Bright’s study also extends proper recognition to the architect of the Haul, while in the process bringing to light Captain Sharp’s other equally important services to the Confederate war effort. Finally, the book offers useful accounts of how some of the many logistical challenges of the Confederacy’s Atlantic railroad network were addressed by military, state, and Richmond authorities. Recommended.

Go check it out, y’all.

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Frederick Douglass on Decoration Day, 1871

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 29, 2017

On Decoration Day, 1871, Frederick Douglass gave the following address at the monument to the Unknown Dead of the Civil War at Arlington National Cemetery. It is a short speech, but one of the best of its type I’ve ever encountered. I’ve posted it before, but it think it’s something worth re-reading and contemplating every Memorial Day.

The Unknown Loyal Dead
Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, on Decoration Day, May 30, 1871

Friends and Fellow Citizens:

Tarry here for a moment. My words shall be few and simple. The solemn rites of this hour and place call for no lengthened speech. There is, in the very air of this resting-ground of the unknown dead a silent, subtle and all-pervading eloquence, far more touching, impressive, and thrilling than living lips have ever uttered. Into the measureless depths of every loyal soul it is now whispering lessons of all that is precious, priceless, holiest, and most enduring in human existence.

Dark and sad will be the hour to this nation when it forgets to pay grateful homage to its greatest benefactors. The offering we bring to-day is due alike to the patriot soldiers dead and their noble comrades who still live; for, whether living or dead, whether in time or eternity, the loyal soldiers who imperiled all for country and freedom are one and inseparable.

Those unknown heroes whose whitened bones have been piously gathered here, and whose green graves we now strew with sweet and beautiful flowers, choice emblems alike of pure hearts and brave spirits, reached, in their glorious career that last highest point of nobleness beyond which human power cannot go. They died for their country.

No loftier tribute can be paid to the most illustrious of all the benefactors of mankind than we pay to these unrecognized soldiers when we write above their graves this shining epitaph.

When the dark and vengeful spirit of slavery, always ambitious, preferring to rule in hell than to serve in heaven, fired the Southern heart and stirred all the malign elements of discord, when our great Republic, the hope of freedom and self-government throughout the world, had reached the point of supreme peril, when the Union of these states was torn and rent asunder at the center, and the armies of a gigantic rebellion came forth with broad blades and bloody hands to destroy the very foundations of American society, the unknown braves who flung themselves into the yawning chasm, where cannon roared and bullets whistled, fought and fell. They died for their country.

We are sometimes asked, in the name of patriotism, to forget the merits of this fearful struggle, and to remember with equal admiration those who struck at the nation’s life and those who struck to save it, those who fought for slavery and those who fought for liberty and justice.

I am no minister of malice. I would not strike the fallen. I would not repel the repentant; but may my “right hand forget her cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,” if I forget the difference between the parties to hat terrible, protracted, and bloody conflict.

If we ought to forget a war which has filled our land with widows and orphans; which has made stumps of men of the very flower of our youth; which has sent them on the journey of life armless, legless, maimed and mutilated; which has piled up a debt heavier than a mountain of gold, swept uncounted thousands of men into bloody graves and planted agony at a million hearthstones — I say, if this war is to be forgotten, I ask, in the name of all things sacred, what shall men remember?

The essence and significance of our devotions here to-day are not to be found in the fact that the men whose remains fill these graves were brave in battle. If we met simply to show our sense of bravery, we should find enough on both sides to kindle admiration. In the raging storm of fire and blood, in the fierce torrent of shot and shell, of sword and bayonet, whether on foot or on horse, unflinching courage marked the rebel not less than the loyal soldier.

But we are not here to applaud manly courage, save as it has been displayed in a noble cause. We must never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the republic. We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation’s destroyers. If today we have a country not boiling in an agony of blood, like France, if now we have a united country, no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage, if the American name is no longer a by-word and a hissing to a mocking earth, if the star-spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice, liberty, and civilization, we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in these honored graves all around us.

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Image: Graves of nine unknown Federal soldiers in Pontotoc County, Mississippi. Photo by Flickr user NatalieMaynor, used under Creative Commons license. Text of Douglass speech from Philip S. Foner and Yuval Taylor, Frederick Douglass: Selected Speeches and Writings.

Memorial Day in Memphis, 1875

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 27, 2017

 

From the Memphis Daily Appeal, May 25, 1875:

Three generations of soldiers were of the long array — the men who fought with Jackson at New Orleans, those who braved the Indians in the Everglades, the later generation who followed Scott and [Jefferson] Davis and [Gideon Johnston] Pillow [a local hero] in Mexico, and the still later who had served with Grant or Lee, with Stonewall Jackson or Sherman, with Forrest or Sheridan, with Joe Johnston or Thomas. . . . These were the links that bound jubilee army to the past, blending with the younger soldiers whose battles were on a grander scale, but whose contests were no fiercer, illustrated for the multitude almost the whole history of the Republic. . . . In these gentlemen [Pillow and Davis] we had united the two later and grandest epochs in our history — the one by which we won an empire, and the other by which we sustained the shock of civil war and survived to enjoy and perpetuate a still more perfect Union. Forrest, the “terrible fighter” and always victorious cavalry raider, marched in the same column with the Federals who had fought him, and shared a seat on the same platform with our best representatives of the Union armies. . . .
 
Mr. Davis, our foremost statesman, did not speak, but he was upon the platform, and by his presence gave indorsement [sic.] to the re-cementing of the bonds of brotherhood. Tribute was paid to the dead, a loving tribute in words and flower, but the Union was over it all — was uppermost in all minds — and the day was thus made sacred to the highest purpose, and the dead were made to serve the noblest use in a text and day on which to preach peace and love, and date the final close of the war and all its bitter dissensions and contentions. Looking back through the night into the day, and recalling the men who were principal actors in the play, the tone and temper of the audience and the drift of what was said and sung can reach but the conclusion impressed upon us when yet the parade was in the thought of its projectors, that it was to be as healing upon the waters, it was to be a proper supplement of our steady march toward complete restoration, the finale of all our efforts to be reconciled to to our brothers of the both, and to do our part toward the consummation of that perfect peace for which all men have longed since that day at Appomattox, when Lee sheathed his sword and bade his troops “good-bye.” It was a great popular upheaval. It was the bursting of a great pent-up feeling of joy and happiness upon the condition of the country, the overflowing of gratitude for the blessings we enjoy of civil and religious liberty, and the determination to to give unmistakable assurances of loyalty and fealty to the Union. . . .
 
The Union was apparent in and over all. The battle-flags of both armies were placed side-by-side or in peaceful embrace, by request, too, of General Forrest, and the same hands draped the graves of the boys in blue and gray alike. The memory we revive of the day is this, and this its lesson. May it endure forever to animate us on each recurring anniversary, strengthening present resolution and and confirming us in our determination to labor hereafter in and for the Union, to make it more glorious and free, the first among the nations of the earth.

[This post originally appeared on Memorial Day weekend, 2012.]

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Friday Night Concert (Encore) — “Rollin’ in My Sweet Baby’s Arms”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 19, 2017

“Lay ’round the shack, ’til her husband comes back. . . .”

With the Yes Ma’am String Band in (where else?) New Orleans.

I think those are sparks coming off that steel guitar at the end.

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GeneralStarsGray

Seeking Image of U.S.S. John P. Jackson

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 17, 2017

A friend and colleague doing in-depth historical/technical research on converted ferries is seeking the owner of this image of U.S.S. John P. Jackson (sometimes given as J. P. Jackson), that sold in an online auction in 2011. Unfortunately neither the seller nor the appraiser retained records that identify the buyer. He’s trying to obtain a high-resolution copy of the image. If you know who might have it, please let me know, or have that person let me know. Assistance would be tremendously appreciated.

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Good Times in the Big Easy

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 8, 2017

The other day in my post about the monument protests in New Orleans, I mentioned the “Confederate heritage folks, Three Percenter milita types, Oath Keepers, ‘Antifa’ anarcho-communists, and God only knows who else, all jostling and trying to provoke one another and get themselves on the teevee.” Now we can add to that listing (on the anti-monument side) an enormous street parade with a marching band, and on the pro-monument side, the white nationalist League of the South, Nazis and assorted klansmen. There was also some dude wearing replica Roman armor. I don’t know who he was repping.

What a nasty, nasty clown show. I wouldn’t be surprised if, after witnessing the last few days, Davis took a header off that monument on his own.

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More images at NOLA.com.

Are Confederate Flags Condemning Confederate Monuments?

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 6, 2017

The situation in New Orleans, prompted by the city’s removal of the Battle of Liberty Place monument and planned dismantling of three more dedicated to Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and P. G. T. Beauregard, continues. It’s a tinderbox, with Confederate heritage folks, Three Percenter milita types, Oath Keepers, “Antifa” anarcho-communists, and God only knows who else, all jostling and trying to provoke one another and get themselves on the teevee. As best I can tell, not many of these folks are actually from New Orleans. There has been sporadic violence, and threats made against public officials. It’s ugly, and we should all hope that whatever becomes of the monuments, no one else gets hurt.

I did find this piece interesting, from the website/blog The Hayride, that challenges the central tactic of “heritage defense,” namely “flagging.”

Neither side is particularly angelic, either with respect to the monument fight or the Sterling matter. [Alton Sterlng was an African American man killed by police in Baton Rouge in July 2016; the monument protests in New Orleans and Baton Rouge coincided with protests in the latter city over the the announcement that the U.S. Department of Justice would not file charges against the officers involved.] Last night the preservationists who could easily have found themselves at an Alamo-style disadvantage didn’t do themselves too many favors; while they weren’t the aggressors in the hostilities that took place at the Jefferson Davis monument, brandishing a bunch of confederate [sic.] flags to go with Mississippi and Alabama accents as they did was stupid. The persuasive case for preserving the statues to Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee isn’t made with a confederate flag, as those three figures offered more than just four years of rebellion against the Lincoln administration. Davis, Beauregard and Lee are figures of American history, and as such the people resisting the bowdlerization of their statues ought to have been flying American flags.

Lee and Beauregard, after all, signed loyalty oaths to the union after the war in 1865 – though Davis never did. Beauregard’s was especially eloquent…

“In taking up arms during the late struggle (after my native state, Louisiana, had seceded) I believed, in good faith, that I was defending the constitutional rights of the South against the encroachments of the North. Having appealed to the arbitration of the Sword, which has gone against us, I accept the decision as settling finally the question of secession & slavery – & I offer now my allegiance to the Government of the United States, which I promise, truly and faithfully, to serve & uphold hereafter, against all external or internal foes.”

One of the stupid things said by New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu during this controversy was that the monuments he’s trying to take down are an “aberration” or a “denial” of history, since the Confederacy only lasted for four years. But Davis had been a U.S. Senator before the secession in 1861. Lee and Beauregard were heroes in the Mexican-American War. Lee’s efforts at bringing the South back into the union were lauded on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line following the war, which was the reason Lee Circle was so celebrated when it was constructed in 1878 (and the statue was crafted in New York, of all places). Beauregard played a substantial role in the post-war history of New Orleans, not the least of which was his having designed what ultimately became the city’s streetcars. Their influence on the culture of New Orleans and the South greatly transcends the four years between 1861 and 1865. But the people waving confederate flags around are poisoning the case that those historical monuments represent more than mere slavery.

And what we do not need is a bunch of confederate flag-waving out-of-towners coming up to Baton Rouge and goading the Alton Sterling protest crowd into a rumble.

This piece really underscores something that I’ve long had a sense of, but often had difficulty articulating — when people are (rightly or wrongly) put off by Confederate iconography, you’re not going to win them over by flashing more and bigger Confederate flags in their faces. When heritage groups do that (“pepper Danville with flags,” etc.) they’re essentially conceding defeat on the issue they’re supposedly trying to reverse. It’s defiance, sure, but it also almost always results in the targeted organization or institution — the VMFA, Lexington, Danville, and now New Orleans — digging in its own heels. Why on Earth do heritage folks assume that they’re the only ones who can display resolve and intransigence in the face of adversity?

What’s most interesting to me about this argument is that it’s coming from the right of the political spectrum, not the left — The Hayride is VERY conservative, a sort cayenne pepper-flavored local alternative to Breitbart. When you lose those guys, seems to me, it’s really time to re-think your tactics.

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h/t RBLee

“When was Andrew Jackson?”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 3, 2017

I’m sure you’ve heard about the comments that the president made recently about Andrew Jackson, and how he might have prevented the Civil War from happening. A reporter at Vice, Eve Peyser, called several historians in different specialties the other day and asked what they thought about the president’s comments. One of them was David Blight, the Yale professor who, as much as anyone, has shaped Civil War historiography over the past couple of decades. Blight apparently hadn’t heard about the president’s comments before the Peyser contacted him. He replied, somewhat incredulously:

He really said this about Jackson and the Civil War? All I can say to you is that from day one I have believed that Donald Trump’s greatest threat to our society and to our democracy is not necessarily his authoritarianism, but his essential ignorance—of history, of policy, of political process, of the Constitution. Saying that if Jackson had been around we might not have had the Civil War is like saying that one strong, aggressive leader can shape, prevent, move history however they wish. This is simply a fifth-grade understanding of history or worse. And this comes from the president of the United States! Under normal circumstances if a real estate tycoon weighed in on the nature of American history from such ignorance and twisted understanding we would simply ignore or laugh at him. But since this man lives in the historic White House and wields the constitutional powers of the presidency and the commander in chief we have to pay attention. Trump’s “learning” of American history must have stopped even before the fifth grade. I wish I could say this is funny and not deeply disturbing. My profession should petition the President to take a one- or two-month leave of absence, VP Pence steps in for that interim, and Trump goes on a retreat in one of his resorts for forced reeducation. It could be a new tradition called the presidential education leave. Or perhaps in New Deal tradition, an ‘ignorance relief’ period. This alone might gain the United States again some confidence and respect around the world. God help us.

The only thing I can add is that, if you have any doubt about Trump’s ignorance of the most basic knowledge of Old Hickory — who’s represented in the Oval Office by both a sculpture and a portrait in places of prominence — know that in his own telling of the story, Trump had to ask, “when was Andrew Jackson?

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h/t Erik Loomis.

Internal Migration in the United States to 1860

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on April 30, 2017

Several weeks back my colleague Pat Young posted a summary table from the 1860 U.S. Census to the Civil War Talk forum, that showed migration patterns within the United States. Pat has a deep interest in the story of immigration to the United States, but that extends to movement patterns within the country, as well. The United States has always been a mobile society, but where people move from- and to isn’t random; it’s driven by larger larger forces, in particular where people perceive the greatest opportunity for themselves.

For each of the states that existed in 1860, Pat’s table listed the leading four other states or territories where native-born citizens were likely to end up. I wondered what that information would look like on a map, so here it is — native states are shown in dark blue, and the states where those people ended up by 1860 is shown in light blue:

It’s clear that internal migration up to 1860 was overwhelmingly from free states to free states, and from slaveholding states to slaveholding states. One outlier in that trend is Missouri, which was a slaveholding state but less so than others, and drew migrants from all over the country.

And of course, California — everybody was going to California. Same as it ever was, y’all.

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Saturday Morning Cartoons

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on April 29, 2017

One of the conceits of the Confederate Heritage™ crowd is that their Confederate ancestors — and they themselves, by extension — fought for the true values and principles of the U.S. Constitution, against the wicked and evil tyranny of Lincoln and the North. So what to make of this petition at Change-dot-org?

I urge President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the U.S. Supreme Court to sign a bill into law protecting these monuments, all military monuments from removal.

Uh, wut?

Ignore for a moment the odd spectacle of people who fetishize “states’ rights” and argue that it’s a governing principle worth fighting a war over, now wanting the federal government — you know, the oppressive, tyrannical one their forefathers took up arms against — to step in and tell states and local governments how to run their affairs. What, exactly, do the organizers and thousands of people who signed this petition think the Vice President’s or the Supreme Court’s role is in “signing” a law in the first place?

Should (say) the Congress play a role in creating such a law? How do new laws even get made?  Is there a role for the Legislative Branch in preparing legislation? It is a puzzlement.

I get it that folks are unhappy about the removal or relocation of Confederate iconography and want their voices heard. But sheesh, make a little effort to understand how to get what you want accomplished. You might even want to take notes:

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