Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

The Passing of Neil Caldwell

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on March 21, 2018

A colleague told me today of the passing last month of Neil Caldwell, a former District Court Judge in Brazoria County from 1977 until his retirement in 1995. He served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1960 to 1977. He was twice named one of the ten best legislators in the House (1973 and 1975) by Texas Monthly magazine, the first time being described as “probably the all-around best member of the Legislature.”

According to his obituary, one of the things Caldwell was most proud of during his time in Austin was being a member of the “Dirty Thirty,” a group of legislators who tried in 1971 to force the then-Speaker of the Texas House, Gus Mutscher, to publicly address his business ties to a Houston developer caught up in a bribery deal. Caldwell and his colleagues failed, but they took a stand for public transparency in one of the more infamous public corruption cases in Texas in that era. Mutscher lost his subsequent re-election campaign, and was later convicted of bribery.

I never met Judge Caldwell, but he did one other thing that I’m very grateful for. In 1969 he authored the House Bill that established the Texas Antiquities Code, that provided protection for both historic- and prehistoric archaeological sites on state lands, including coastal and inland waterways. My colleague who told me of Caldwell’s passing, who knew him well, said Caldwell was himself a metal-detecting enthusiast who joked that he introduced the legislation to “to protect sites from guys like him.” That’s funny, right there.

Then again, he was said to have a special knack for Aggie jokes, and that’s always a popular thing in Austin.

I would have liked to have known the judge. For sure, all Texans, and particularly Texans who love our state’s history and want to see it protected and preserved, owe a debt to Neil Caldwell.

God speed, Judge Caldwell.


Image: Neil Caldwell in the 62nd Texas Legislature, at the time of the “Dirty Thirty” confrontation.




Virginia Flaggers Salute Yankee Soldiers

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on March 17, 2018

The man in question is Sergeant Joseph Dore, Company C, Seventh New York State Militia.

I, for one, applaud the Virginia Flaggers in their new initiative to celebrate the sacrifice, courage, and honor of U.S. soldiers who fought to preserve the soul of the nation and Union, and crush the wickedness of rebellion. I’m sure this will be the first of many similar posts by the Virginia Flaggers to come.


Guns of USS Harriet Lane

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on March 15, 2018
[This replaces an earlier post.]
Possible Gun Arrangement 3
A friend working on a model asked me recently about the guns of USS Harriet Lane, the former revenue cutter captured here in the Battle of Galveston on New Years Day 1863. Determining the armament is straightforward, as it’s listed in the naval Official Records (Series I, Vol. 19, p. 745) as
  • One 30-pound rifle
  • One X-inch pivot
  • Two IX-inch guns on Marsilly carriages
  • Two 24-pounder howitzers.

I’m presuming that the rifle is a Parrott rifle, and IX- and X-inch guns are Dahlgrens, both of which were standard armament types aboard U.S. Navy vessels.


I was initially uncertain about exactly how these guns were arranged aboard the ship, but my friend and colleague Mark F. Jenkins reminded me of the account of Phillip Tucker, published in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly in 1918. Tucker wrote that


her batteries were strengthened as follows: one four-inch rifled Parrot gun as pivot on the forecastle deck; one nine-inch Dahlgren gun on pivot forward of the foremast; two eight-inch Dahlgren Columbiads [sic] and two twenty-four-pound brass howitzers on ship carriages, aft. . . .​

Tucker is, in fact, one of the more detailed and generally reliable sources for the battle and, aside from the terminology he uses to describe the guns, his description matches the U.S. Navy’s report quite well. Therefore, based on Tucker’s description, here’s my revised graphic showing the positions of the guns. This arrangement would require removable or folding bulwarks forward to clear the arc of the X-inch Dahlgren, but that would hot have been a difficult thing to do.



Does Jerry Springer Know About You People?

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on March 14, 2018

This is one bad cliche after another:

As TPM reported, Heimbach, 26, was arrested early Tuesday morning and charged with one felony count of domestic battery in the presence of a child under 16, and one misdemeanor count of battery. 

The arrest followed a bizarre sequence of events stemming from an extramarital affair Heimbach was conducting with his wife’s step-mother-in-law, according to the police report.

The white nationalist leader is married to the step-daughter of Matt Parrott, the Traditionalist Worker Party’s chief spokesman. Per the police report, Heimbach attacked both Parrott and his own wife, Brooke Heimbach, after the pair confronted Matthew Heimbach about an affair he was carrying out with Matt Parrott’s wife, Jessica.

The group all live in the same trailer park compound in rural Paoli, Indiana, where the Traditionalist Worker Party is based. In statements to the police, all four listed their professions as “white nationalists.”

Per the report, Brooke Heimbach and Matt Parrott tried to set Matthew Heimbach up to see if he would continue the affair after agreeing to call it quits. On Tuesday, they spied on him and Jessica Parrott through the window of the Parrotts’ trailer.

Matt Parrott and Matthew Heimbach got into a physical confrontation, and Matt Parrott later told the police that Matthew Heimbach grabbed him and “choked him out,” leaving him briefly unconscious.

Shortly after police arrived on the scene, the officer heard Matthew Heimbach arguing with his wife and “scuffling.” Brooke Heimbach told the police that her husband kicked the wall, grabbed her face, and “threw me with the hand on my face onto the bed” — a violent exchange she said she recorded on her cell phone. The couple’s two young sons were present for the altercation.

No word yet on whether former Virginia Flagger Heimbach, who was to be one of the featured speakers at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, will be asked to return his Distinguished Service Medal.


Update, March 14: Lots more, um, raw details at The Daily Beast:

Heimbach and Jessica told Parrott they’d ended the relationship, but Parrott and Heimbach’s wife were skeptical. They arranged to “set up” Heimbach and Jessica in a trailer on Parrott’s property to catch them having sex.

Parrott stood on a box outside the trailer and watched Heimbach and Jessica have sex inside, according to a police report. When the box broke under Parrott’s weight, he entered the trailer to confront them. Heimbach allegedly choked him and chased him into a house, where Parrott threw a chair at him. Heimbach hit back, choking him into unconsciousness, according to the police report.

Parrott fled to a Walmart near his home and called police around 1 a.m. Tuesday morning.


h/t Margaret Blough.


Update, March 15: Matt Parrott announced, as part of the disbanding of his organization, that he’s destroying membership data and the physical storage media related to the group. But the Traditionalist Workers Party, as well as Parrott and Heimbach individually, are defendants in a lawsuit stemming from last August’s rally in Charlottesville. Probably not a wise move.




Too Small for a Republic, No. 438

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 28, 2018

Back in the Mesozoic Era of this blog, I did a couple of posts on a South Carolina woman named Annie Caddel. She had moved to Summerville, into a predominantly African American neighborhood that had been founded as a settlement of former USCTs after the Civil War, and made a point of flying her Confederate Battle Flag. This didn’t go over real well with her neighbors, and there soon followed an escalating series of incidents including allegations of vandalism to her home, and a series of ever-taller flagpoles and privacy fences put up by the neighbors. Even H. K. Edgerton, the peripatetic performance artist and Confederate beard, made an appearance (above). You can read my earlier posts here and here. It sure seemed like a rancid, toxic mess.

Needless to say, Ms. Caddel was a heroine of the True Southron™ crowd. Or she was until last week, when after seven years she lowered her flag and presented it to Kenneth Battle, Chairman of the Summerville-Dorchester Museum, to be displayed there in an effort to promote unity and reconciliation in the community.

Now, the True Southrons in South Carolina have labeled her a “traitor” and a “Judas.” 

No good deed goes unpunished, y’all.


Update, March 7: Corrected the description of Ms. Caddell’s neighborhood as being predominantly African American, not Summerville as a whole.

Charlottesville Update

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 27, 2018

Workers replace the black tarp with which the City of Charlottesville covered the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee after John Miska (not shown) attempted to remove the covering in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Justin Ide

A state district court in Charlottesville, Virginia has ruled that statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in city parks qualify as war memorials under state law, and are therefore protected under a Virginia statute passed in 1998. The judge also ruled that the city, that sought to remove the monuments, can go ahead with renaming the parks where they sit.

If I understand the ruling correctly, this runs counter to a ruling in a similar case on Danville, where the district court held that the 1998 statue only applied to monuments or memorials erected after that date. (Wut?) That ruling was allowed to stand by the Virginia Supreme Court, that declined twice to hear the case.Seems likely that the court will have to get involved now, with conflicting rulings at the district level.

The court also ordered black plastic tarps removed from both statues that the city had put in place months ago, ostensibly “in mourning” for the violence at the white supremacist rally there last August. (Wut?)


Friday Night Concert, Eastern District of Virginia Edition

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 23, 2018


Denouement in Durham

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 21, 2018

The District Attorney in Durham, North Carolina has dropped the remaining charges against protesters accused of pulling down a Confederate monument there in August.

A few days after the violence in Charlottesville, a group of angry protesters surrounded a Confederate monument on the courthouse grounds in Durham and, as law enforcement watched from the sidelines, pulled it down. The monument had been the subject of a long-running dispute in the community, with the county government claiming they could not take down or relocate the monument because recently-passed state “heritage preservation” laws prohibited local governments from doing so.

The final criminal cases fell apart because prosecutors could not firmly establish that those charged were the persons seen in video of the event:

During Monday’s trials, Assistant District Attorney Ameshia Cooper struggled to introduce evidence and witness statements that clearly connected the defendants with being responsible for toppling the statue.

“The court finds the state has failed to identify who the perpetrator was. … Furthermore, the court has noted there is no evidence of a conspiracy,” District Court Judge Fred Battaglia said after the first trial.

And. . .

Many questions remain in the case, such as why there wasn’t more evidence.

During the toppling, law enforcement stood on the steps of the old courthouse. Some shot video. Also, after the toppling, deputies issued search warrants, went into people’s homes, ripping mattresses, taking computers, paper and other items of people who were charged said at the time.

Echols declined to take any questions after Tuesday’s press conference.

Twelve people were initially charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors after the Aug. 14 demonstration, but Echols later decided to not to pursue the felony charges. He next dropped charges against three of the 12, saying he did not have sufficient evidence to link them to the toppling of the statue.

On Tuesday, Echols also announced that he would dismiss the charges against against Loan Tran, who in December accepted deferred prosecution on three misdemeanors. Tran had also agreed to pay $1,250 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.

“In this case, fairness requires that similar cases be treated similarly,” Echols said.

The Heritage-not-Hate folks are, naturally, convinced that this was rigged from the start not to vigorously prosecute in this case.

I said at the time that this was straight-up mob vandalism, and should be prosecuted. Still feel that way.

The much more fundamental problem, that’s been lost in the shouting, is North Carolina’s law that blocks local communities from making decisions about the monuments they themselves own and maintain. (Several other states have these laws, including Tennessee and Virginia, although the latter is the subject of a high-profile case pending right now.) If Durham could have acted to relocate the statue as they had been petitioned to do prior to August 2017, it would likely still be intact at another location. Now they’re left with this:


Update, February 22: The Atlantic has a an article up detailing how both the sheriff’s department and the district attorney failed to make a solid case against those charged with pulling down the statue. Plenty of failures from the very start.


What You Find in the Mail Sometimes. . . .

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 17, 2018

A friend and blog reader sent me this today, a page from the September 10, 1864 issue of Harper’s Weekly, detailing the Battle of Mobile Bay the month before.

Here, the Confederate ironclad Tennessee engages the U.S. Steam Sloop Richmond. Illustrations like this are often more fanciful than authentic, but in this case there’s some interesting detail, like the chain mesh draped over the midships section of Richmond to protect her boiler and machinery spaces.

Thank you, Mark!


Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler, Y’all

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 13, 2018

Happy Mardi Gras from the New Orleans and the Krewe of Comus, 1873!