Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog


Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 25, 2012

Small stories that don’t warrant larger posts all their own.

    • NPR had an interesting interview with Reverend Bryant Wright, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, about an initiative within that organization to change its name to something without the word Southern in the title. It’s apparently perceived by some within the church, particularly younger congregants, as a hindrance in attracting new congregations and followers. And it’s been a topic that’s been simmering in the background for over a century. As someone who grew up in SBC churches — RAs, Wednesday night pot-luck fellowship suppers and all that — I feel like I should care more about this than I do.
    • Blogger Craig Swain passes along a news item about a new Confederate monument in a cemetery in Socorro, New Mexico, which makes reference to the “War for Southern Independence” and an effort to “liberate our beloved Texas and Southland.” No word if they ever built the monument to the flying saucer that landed there in 1964.
    • The “Stainless Banner” variant of the Confederate national flag, displayed aboard the full-size replica of the C.S.S. Neuse in Kinston, North Carolina, is raising some hackles. While I’ve been critical of some public displays of the Confederate flags in the past, this seems to me like a legit context for it.
    • In other flag news, NASCAR recently decided to bar the “General Lee” of Dukes of Hazzard fame from an event in Arizona, due to the Confederate Battle Flag emblazoned on its roof. New York resident Valerie Protopapas, one the more outspoken online defenders of Southron Honor™, thinks it’s an ill-conceived move. “If NASCAR is trying to attract blacks,” she says, “they haven’t a chance unless they do something else in those cars other than race around a track.” You stay classy, LadyVal!
    • While futzing around YouTube, I stumbled on this Arabic-language documentary shot off Key Largo, Florida. (The good diving video is mostly in Part 4; the segment where he cuts himself with his dive knife is in Part 2) The site is known locally as “the Civil War Wreck,” and I don’t think is explicitly identified in the video. In fact, I’m pretty sure the producers had no idea the actual identity of the wreck, since they spend a lot of time talking about CW ironclads and submarines. It’s actually the remains of civilian merchant vessel Tonawanda, which during the war had been the Navy steam transport U.S.S. Arkansas, which spent much of the conflict with the West Gulf blockading Squadron, running a regular supply route along the coast between Ship Island, Mississippi and the mouth of the Rio Grande. Returned to civilian service under her original name, Tonawanda, she was wrecked on the Florida reef known as “The Elbow” in 1866. And yes, diving in the Keys really is that beautiful. He’s got some nice Great Barracuda video, as well.
    • Completely unrelated to the CW, but historians at Hearne, Texas (north of Bryan/College Station) are working to preserve the memory of Camp Hearne, a facility for housing German PoWs during World War II. My father grew up in that area and remembers meeting PoWs as a kid, possibly from Camp Hearne. They were paroled out to work on farms in the area, to partly make up for wartime manpower shortages.
    • Historian and Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer just published his 42nd book. Slacker.
    • The trailer for Tim Burton-produced Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is out (above). In the comments below, Jeffry Burden correctly pegs the language as coming out of the Book of Revelation. Anyways, the movie looks like fun. Did you catch the train sequence?
    • And on the subject of trains, descendants of Wilson W. Brown (right), a Union soldier and locomotive engineer from Ohio who took part in the famous Great Locomotive Chase, continue their legal wrangling over who’s the rightful heir to his Medal of Honor, one of the first awarded, along with a second, later version of medal. Fortunately, both sides in the lawsuit have agreed to loan the disputed materials to the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History, now home to the locomotive General, for the sesquicentennial of the Andrews Raid in April.
    • Also speaking of trains, William G. Thomas, author of The Iron Way: Railroads, the Civil War, and the Making of Modern America, had a great piece the other day on the use of slave labor during the war in maintaining and expanding railroads across the Confederacy. As one commenter notes, Thomas’ work pretty much decimates the notion that slavery was an institution that only really functioned in an agrarian, plantation-based model and was therefore doomed to fade away in the face of increasing industrialization and mechanization.
    • And while we’re on the subject of trains, blogger, historian, and modeler Bernard Kempinski produced this little tongue-in-cheek gem of a movie trailer:



11 Responses

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  1. theravenspoke said, on February 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Great collection. The Opinionator piece stands out for it’s clinical detail….

    “Railroad companies and contractors hired slaves by the hundreds; they also purchased slaves directly, in lots of 50 or more. In fact, by the 1850s, the South’s railroad companies could be counted among the largest slaveholders in their regions. They even developed special accounting entries on their balance sheets to show the value of “the Negro Fund.” In the South Carolina Railroad’s 1857 annual report, for example, the company listed 57 slaves in its possession. In 1859, its holdings had almost doubled, to 90 slaves. Confederate railroads bought and hired slaves right up to the end of the war, even as slavery fell apart wherever the Union Army opened corridors of freedom: in 1863 the Virginia Central Railroad purchased 35 “negro men” for $83,484.60.”

    Bulk purchase, accounting, annual reports – that stuff is real in a modern context. It animates the history. Also, $83,484/35 = $2,385 per each of the 35 men purchased by the Virginia Central Railroad in 1863. The price is more than 2x the average seen before the war, which speaks to labor shortages, the importance of railroads and that these men were likely skilled workers.

    More evidence of their skills…..

    “A whole generation of black railroad workers came out of the Civil War. Some continued to work for the railroads – over half of all railroad workers in Virginia were African-American in 1880.”

    • Andy Hall said, on February 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Thomas’ book has gotten tremendous reviews, and it’s in the read stack.

  2. Patrick Young said, on February 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    The Confederates were not in Socorro to liberate anything. They were there as part of a Texas project dating back to the 1840s to subjugate Latinos in New Mexico, Arizona and northern-Mexico.

    • Andy Hall said, on February 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      Oh, there you go again, dragging history into the discussion! 😉

  3. Andy Hall said, on February 26, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Her words and views speak for themselves.

  4. Woodrowfan said, on February 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    1. I am not surprised this is a Tim Burton movie (so Danny Elfman music?)

    2. I see they have the Capitol building under construction, but have the Washington Monument finished. ugh.

    3. And yes, I plan to go see it!

    • Andy Hall said, on February 26, 2012 at 3:07 pm

      Music is by Henry Jackman. I noticed that about the Washington Monument, but there’s all sorts of other modern stuff in that shot, too, so I presume it’s not intended to be an historical image in the context of the film. It’s really awkward in the trailer, though.

      The crowd shot of the inauguration is not great CGI, though.

      • Jeffry Burden said, on February 27, 2012 at 10:37 am

        Given the Lincoln Memorial appears to be in the shot as well, I’d say it was an awkward use of something intended to be modern footage. 🙂

        Any idea of the origin of the words we hear? Sounds like the Book of Revelations.

        • Andy Hall said, on February 27, 2012 at 10:55 am

          It’s a mashup of phrases from Revelations 6, the description of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (KJV):

          1. And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.

          2. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

          3. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.

          4. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

          5. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.

          6. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

          7. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.

          8. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.

          • Ankhanan said, on March 2, 2012 at 4:16 am

            Most specifically, it’s an excerpt from the Johnny Cash song, “The Man Comes Around”.

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