Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on November 23, 2017


Image: Harper’s Weekly, 1869.


Hood’s Texas Brigade Association, Re-activated Meeting, December 1-2 in Galveston

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on November 7, 2017

I am pleased to announce that I will be speaking on blockade running off the Texas Coast on the evening of Friday, December 1, at the annual scholarly seminar of the Hood’s Texas Brigade Association, Re-activated (HTBAR) in Galveston. Registration for the seminar is open through November 27, using the attached form (PDF). A complete schedule of events is included in the registration materials.

 The main presenters at this year’s seminar, recognizing the 50th Anniversary of HTBAR, are top-notch in their field, and always worth hearing:

  •  Dr. Susannah Ural: “Hood’s Texans: How the Texas Brigade Became the Confederacy’s Most Celebrated Unit”
  • Rick Eiserman: “Fifty Years of Service to Hood’s Brigade”
  • Dr. Rick McCaslin: “Remembering Hood’s Texas Brigade: Pompeo Coppini and Confederate Memory”

I’ve had the opportunity to hear each of these speakers before, and this is an event no one should miss if they have an interest in Hood’s Brigade. I look forward to renewing some old acquaintances there, and making some new ones.


The Texas Confederate on Boot Hill

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 26, 2017

In recognition of Thursday’s anniversary of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, an old post from 2014. . . .



OldManClantonThere’s always a new angle on an old story, isn’t there?

This past weekend there was a post by a member over at Civil War Talk who recently visited Tombstone, Arizona, and was surprised to see a small Confederate flag marking the grave of one of that location’s better-known, um, residents. Newman Haynes “Old Man” Clanton (right, c. 1880) was the father of Ike and Billy Clanton, part of the “Cowboy” faction that ran afoul of the Earp brothers in Tombstone in 1881. When the Earps, along with the tubercular dentist Doc Holliday confronted the Cowboys at the OK Corral in late October 1881, Ike happened to be unarmed and ran off; Billy stayed and died, shot through the right wrist and in the chest and abdomen.

Old Man Clanton didn’t live to see his son killed in that famous shoot-out; Newman had himself been shot down a few months before in an ambush while herding stolen cattle through the Guadalupe Canyon, at the extreme southern end of the Arizona/New Mexico border. In truth, all the Clantons had a long reputation as troublemakers and small-time criminals, mostly involving cattle rustling, often with animals stolen from across the border in Mexico. Ike Clanton himself would be killed in a shoot-out with a detective attempting to arrest him on rustling charges in 1887; his violent end probably surprised exactly no one.

The family was originally from Missouri, but resettled in Texas in the 1850s. At the time of the 1860 U.S. Census, Newman Haynes Clanton and his family were were farming or ranching in Dallas County. He and his wife, Maria (or Mariah), had six children living with them, including twelve-year-old Joseph Isaac Clanton, later known as Ike. Two more children, including Billy, would be born after 1860.

Clanton’s Civil War service record, as documented by his file at the National Archives (8.3MB PDF), is spotty. He appears to have enlisted as a Private in Co. K of the First Texas Heavy Artillery Regiment at Waco on March 1, 1862, for a period of one year. In May 1862 he was on detached duty at Hempstead, Texas, employed as a nurse. He was discharged on July 6 as being overage; he would have been in his mid-40s. He re-enlisted at Fort Hébert, near Galveston, on January 1, 1863, the day of the Battle of Galveston, ostensibly for the duration of the war. Clanton apparently had other plans, though, because his record shows him as absent without leave from that date, and marked as a deserter from March 2, 1863.

In ealry 1864, Clanton joined an unknown Texas State Militia unit which was probably occupied paroling the frontier. He went into the U.S. Provost’s headquarters at Franklin, Texas (north of present-day Bryan and College Station) on August 26, 1865 and swore out his allegiance to the United States. Just eight days later, on September 3, 1865, Clanton arrived at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory, with (as his record notes) “persons now at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory, enroute to California, who formerly belonged to the Confederate States Army.” The speed of Clanton’s travel — roughly 850 miles in eight days — strongly suggests he went by stagecoach, rather than on his own horse or by wagon. Even so, it would have been an unusually fast stagecoach ride; the pre-war Butterfield Overland Express traveled roughly that same route, and didn’t make as good a time as Clanton would have had to in the summer of 1865.

Or maybe, as CWT user Nathanb1 suggests, he wasn’t in both places at all. The NARA records, ostensibly made just over a week apart, almost describe different middle-aged men:


Page 11bPage 7b


Same man at Franklin, Texas on August 26, and then at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory on September 3? It’s hard to see how. But if anyone was the sort to have some unknown scheme, it would be Newman Haynes Clanton.


Boot Hill grave site image via Find-a-Grave.


Mark Antony Waves the Bloody Shirt

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 25, 2017

Click-click-clicking through YouTube videos, I happened on this one, of Charlton Heston’s performance of the famous “friends, Romans, countrymen” speech from Julius Caesar. It’s the first time, I think, I’ve seen it performed, and it makes a striking difference from simply reading the text, or listening to a recitation of it.

“. . . and Brutus is an honorable man.” That, my friends, Romans, countrymen, is how you turn the knife in the wound.


Kirk Lyons Wants Your Money, and “Lots of It.”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 22, 2017

I’m not an attorney, but this has to be the most ranty, spittle-flecked screed I’ve ever seen come from a member of the bar:

ONGOING HORROR – Earlier this Week, Lexington Kentucky, now Caddo Parish, LA Monument! Are you mad yet?

These monuments are protected by the FIRST AMENDMENT. The political whores who make these decisions , constitutionally should have NO say in the matter of monuments that constitute public art – because these decision makers ARE government & because their predecessors accepted these monuments in trust & in perpetuity on behalf of the PEOPLE they were elected to serve. Elected officials blow into office and blow out – they have no right or power to get rid of the “peoples’ artwork” even if they use “private money to pay for it!”

This legal doctrine (developed in our Texas federal court cases in San Antonio, Dallas & UT Austin) is an exception to the so -called “government speech”doctrine announced by the US Supreme Court 2 years ago in the SCV license plate case.

Of course our 3rd world cities love Govt speech – Government Speech Ueber Alles!! they cry – it trumps everything and allows the sneak thiefs to pull down monuments in the dead of night! In Kentucky the Mayor of Lexington’s buddy the Atty General writes a BS opinion saying the monuments can come down – the State Agency charged with oversight stands down & refuses to intervene- even though the monuments are at least partially STATE property. Treason & collusion!

SLRC has a workable legal doctrine that NEEDS to be the law of the land – it can step in in states where there is weak or non existent Monument protection laws. It can be used to challenge the legality of monument desecrations already perpetrated.

He goes on to list some of the things he needs in his struggle — cash being at the top of the list, of course — immediately followed by “legal eggheads to write law review articles.” That’s real collegial and professional, counselor.

There’s lots more foolishness in the post, that you can reflect on at your leisure. As long-time readers know, Lyons has a history of making grandiose claims about his legal acumen and his ability to overturn the tyrannical rule of the Yankee courts, if only people would send him money. As far as I can tell, his actual record of success in litigating heritage cases is, to be diplomatic, limited. In the Dallas case he mentions, he managed to secure an emergency stay for the federal court to block the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument there, that only halted the work until the parties could make oral arguments before the bench. The stay was lifted the following day — less than 24 hours after being imposed, as I recall — and the monument was removed soon afterwards. How Lyons’ filing in that case is supposed to serve as a model for the vindication of Confederate monuments all the way up through the Supreme Court is really beyond my legal ken.

Certainly people are free to send Lyons and his organization money if they want to, but it’s hard to imagine that many people would read that appeal, and look at Lyons’ record, and go looking for their checkbook.


An Object of Yankee Ire

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 21, 2017

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The Astros’ Locomotive at Minute Maid Park is based loosely on the Civil War Western & Atlantic Railroad locomotive “General.” Yankees have hated that thing for a long, long time.



Racer’s Storm

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 6, 2017

One hundred  eighty years ago today, on October 6, 1837, Galveston was struck by a tremendous hurricane that is now known as Racer’s Storm after HMS Racer, a British warship that was nearly sunk in the gale off Belize, British Honduras. Racer’s Storm, one of the most destructive of the 19th century, passed westward through the Caribbean, across the Yucatán peninsula, and up along the Mexican and Texas coasts before crossing into Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and finally Georgia. When the storm passed Galveston between October 6 and 8, 1837, the storm surge covered the island. Almost every vessel in the harbor was sunk or driven ashore, including Brutus, the last of the original four vessels of the Texian Navy, and almost every structure on the island was damaged or destroyed.

Amasa Turner, a Texian military officer and early Galveston settler, left an account of Racer’s Storm that highlights the efforts of Lent Munson Hitchcock in helping to rescue some of the women and children trapped during the hurricane. Turner had asked Munse Hitchcock to anchor his small pilot boat near his house, that was crammed to standing-room only with several families upstairs as well as about eighty soldiers on the ground floor. Asked if he thought the boat could reach the mainland if necessary, Hitchcock replied that he had simplified the rig to function better in high wind; he thought he might be able to reach Virginia Point on the mainland that way in necessary.

The water continued to rise, and the force of wind and waves pushed the structure off its foundation blocks. It held together, but Turner had to knock out the wall siding on the north and south sides of the structure to allow the water to pass through unimpeded. About 10 p.m. Hitchcock brought his boat under the lee of the house, and they began transferring the women and children into it, covering them with quilts and blankets. Hitchcock then ran the boat with its precious cargo toward the highest point he could find, grounding the boat hard about 150 yards from Turner’s house. He and some other men then carried the boat’s anchor as far forward as they could, planting it securely, with the intent to keep moving it forward as the water rose Fortunately the water did not rise any higher, and after about an hour and a half began to recede. At about 2 a.m. the men suggested returning the boat and all aboard to the house, but the women declined – the children were all comfortably asleep on the mattresses and blankets in the bottom of Captain Hitchcock’s pilot boat.

Join the Texas Navy Association on Saturday, October 21, at 10 a.m. at Old Episcopal Cemetery in Galveston, for a medallion ceremony recognizing Lent Munson Hitchcock, Jr. (right), who served as an officer in the Texian Navy during the Revolution in 1836-37. 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. Membership in the Texas Navy Association is open to all persons age 16 and over who have an interest in Texas history and want to help support the goals of the organization.


The Attack on U.S.S. New Ironsides

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on October 5, 2017

Glassell2Virginia native William Thornton Glassell (right, 1831-1879) was a Lieutenant aboard U.S.S. Hartford in Chinese waters when the Civil War broke out. When the ship returned to Philadelphia on December 2, 1861, Glassell refused to take the oath to the United States. He was formally dismissed from the U.S. Navy on December 6, and so was arrested and imprisoned at Fort Warren. In time he was issued a commission by the Confederate government and, now being considered a prisoner of war, Glassell was eventually exchanged. Once in Confederate service, Lieutenant Glassell, C.S.N. assigned to the ironclad Chicora at Charleston.

Chafing for the opportunity to strike more directly at the Federal blockading fleet offshore, Glassell volunteered for duty in one of the more unconventional programs then being organized at Charleston, and took command of the little steam torpedo launch David. These cigar-shaped torpedo boats — the name of the first boat was an allusion to the biblical story of David and Goliath — had ballast tanks that allowed them to run almost completely submerged. They were fitted with a fixed torpedo on the end of a long spar, that could be rammed into the side of an enemy ship. It was a dangerous tactic, as much for the attacker as for the target, but the Confederates at Charleston were increasingly anxious to strike a real blow at the Union Navy. On the evening of October 5, 1863, Lieutenant Glassell and his three-man crew set out to attack the most prominent of the blockading ships offshore, U.S.S. New Ironsides.


Assistant Engineer [James H.] Toombs volunteered his services, and all the necessary machinery was soon fitted and got in working order, while Major Frank Lee gave me his zealous aid in fitting on a torpedo. James Stuart (alias Sullivan) volunteered to go as firemen, and afterwards the services of J. [Walker] Cannon as pilot were secured. The boat was ballasted so as to float deeply in the water, and all above painted the most invisible color, (bluish.) The torpedo was made of copper, containing about one hundred pounds of rifle powder, and provided with four sensitive tubes of lead, containing explosive mixture; and this was carried by means of a hollow iron shaft projecting about fourteen feet ahead of the boat, and six or seven feet below the surface. I had also an armament on deck of four double barrel shot guns, and as many navy revolvers; also, four cork life preservers had been thrown on board, and made us feel safe.
Having tried the speed of my boat, and found it satisfactory, (six or seven knots an hour,) I got a necessary order from Commodore Tucker to attack the enemy at discretion, and also one from General Beauregard. And now came an order from Richmond, that I should proceed immediately back to rejoin the “North Carolina,” at Wilmington. This was too much! I never obeyed that order, but left Commodore Tucker to make my excuses to the Navy Department.
The 5th of October, 1863, a little after dark, we left Charleston wharf, and proceeded with the ebb tide down the harbor.
A light north wind was blowing, and the night was slightly hazy, but starlight, and the water was smooth. I desired to make the attack about the turn of the tide, and this ought to have been just after nine o’clock, but the north wind made it run out a little longer.
We passed Fort Sumter and beyond the line of picket boats without being discovered. Silently steaming along just inside the bar, I had a good opportunity to reconnoiter the whole fleet of the enemy at anchor between me and the campfires on Morris’ Island.
Perhaps I was mistaken, but it did occur to me that if we had then, instead of only one, just ten or twelve torpedoes, to make a simultaneous attack on all the ironclads, and this quickly followed by the egress of our rams, not only might this grand fleet have been destroyed, but the 20,000 troops on Morris’ Island been left at our mercy. Quietly maneuvering and observing the enemy, I was half an hour more waiting on time and tide. The music of drum and fife had just ceased, and the nine o’clock gun had been fired from the admiral’s ship, as a signal for all unnecessary lights to be extinguished and for the men not on watch to retire for sleep. I thought the proper time for attack had arrived.
USS New Ironsides 10a
U.S.S. New Ironsides (center) on blockade duty.
The admiral s ship, “New Ironsides,” (the most powerful vessel in the world), lay in the midst of the fleet, her starboard side presented to my view. I determined to pay her the highest compliment. I had been informed, through prisoners lately captured from the fleet, that they were expecting an attack from torpedo boats, and were prepared for it. I could, therefore, hardly expect to accomplish my object without encountering some danger from riflemen, and perhaps a discharge of grape or canister from the howitzers. My guns were loaded with buckshot. I knew that if the officer of the deck could be disabled to begin with, it would cause them some confusion and increase our chance for escape, so I determined that if the occasion offered, I would commence by firing the first shot. Accordingly, having on a full head of steam, I took charge of the helm, it being so arranged that I could sit on deck and work the wheel with my feet. Then directing the engineer and firemen to keep below and give me all the speed possible, I gave a double barrel gun to the pilot, with instructions not to fire until I should do so, and steered directly for the monitor. I intended to strike her just under the gangway, but the tide still running out, carried us to a point nearer the quarter. Thus we rapidly approached the enemy. When within about 300 yards of her a sentinel hailed us: Boat ahoy! boat ahoy! repeating the hail several times very rapidly. We were coming towards them with all speed, and I made no answer, but cocked both barrels of my gun. The officer of the deck next made his appearance, and loudly demanded, “What boat is that?” Being now within forty yards of the ship, and plenty of headway to carry us on, I thought it about time the fight should commence, and fired my gun. The officer of the deck fell back mortally wounded (poor fellow), and I ordered the engine stopped. The next moment the torpedo struck  the vessel and exploded. What amount of direct damage the enemy received I will not attempt to say. My little boat plunged violently, and a large body of water which had been thrown up descended upon her deck, and down the smokestack and hatchway.
The torpedo goes off.
I immediately gave orders to reverse the engine and back off. Mr. Toombs informed me then that the fires were put out, and something had become jammed in the machinery so that it would not move. What could be done in this situation? In the mean time, the enemy recovering from the shock, beat to quarters, and general alarm spread through the fleet. I told my men I thought our only chance to escape was by swimming, and I think I told Mr. Toombs to cut the water pipes and let the boat sink.
Then taking one of the cork floats, I got into the water and swam off as fast as I could.
The enemy, in no amiable mood, poured down upon the bubbling water a hailstorm of rifle and pistol shots from the deck of the Ironsides, and from the nearest monitor. Sometimes they struck very close to my head, but swimming for life, I soon disappeared from their sight, and found myself all alone in the water. I hoped that, with the assistance of flood tide, I might be able to reach Fort Sumter, but a north wind was against me, and after I had been in the water more than an hour, I became numb with cold, and was nearly exhausted. Just then the boat of a transport schooner picked me up, and found, to their surprise, that they had captured a rebel.


Fireman James Sullivan and Engineer Toombs dived overboard with Glassell, as well. Pilot J. Walker Cannon remained with the boat because, some sources say, he could not swim — a remarkable fact, if true, given the semi-submerged nature of his craft, even in the best conditions. Glassell and Sullivan were picked up by Federal picket boats; Toombs scrambled back aboard David and, with Cannon guiding him, managed to return safely to Charleston. In his follow-up report to Confederate authorities, Toombs recounted that “the conduct of Lieutenant Glassell was as cool and collected as if he had been on an excursion of pleasure, and the hope of all is that he may yet be in safety.” Toombs reserrved his highest praise for Cannon, though, who in the engineer’s’ view “has won for himself a reputation that time cannot efface, and deserves well of his country, as, without his valuable aid, I could not have reached the city.” Engineer Toombs succeeded to command of the torpedo boat David.

U.S. Navy Acting Ensign Charles W. Howard, the officer of the deck of U.S.S. New Ironsides who was shot by Glassell, died of his wound on October 10. After Howard’s injury, Admiral Dahlgren had recommended him for promotion to Acting Master, which was formally granted on October 16, 1863, in recognition of his “gallant conduct in face of enemy.” Howard’s remains were subsequently buried in Beaufort National Cemetery. A Wickes Class destroyer, DD-179, was later named for him.

Glassell remained in Union hands until the last few months of the war, when he was again exchanged. This time he was assigned to the naval defenses of Richmond, commanding the ironclad Fredericksburg in the James River Squadron.

After the war, Glassell traveled to California, where his brother Andrew was active in land speculation. The Glassell brothers surveyed much of central and southern California, and Andrew Glassell helped establish the city of Orange, California. William Thornton Glassell died in Los Angeles in January 1879, leaving neither a wife nor children. He is buried in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles.


Fun fact: William Thornton Glassell’s younger sister, Sarah Thornton Glassell, married George Smith Patton, a Confederate officer killed at the Third Battle of Winchester. The Confederate naval officer who very nearly sank U.S.S. New Ironsides was the grand-uncle of the famous World War II General, George S. Patton, Jr.



Texas Navy to Recognize Lieutenant Munse Hitchcock, October 21

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 30, 2017

Munse SmallThe Texas Navy Association will hold a medallion ceremony for Lent Munson Hitchcock, Jr. (right), on Saturday, October 21, at 10 a.m. at Old Episcopal Cemetery in Galveston.

Hitchcock served as a midshipman and lieutenant in the Republic of Texas Navy in 1836-37. The city of Hitchcock in mainland Galveston County is named in his honor.

“Munse” Hitchcock came from a seafaring family in Connecticut, and joined the Texas Navy as a midshipman aboard the schooner Independence at New Orleans in 1836. He was later commissioned as a lieutenant and served aboard the schooner Brutus.

After resigning his commission in 1837, Hitchcock became a pilot guiding vessels in and out of the harbor at Galveston. He became the first harbor master when Galveston was incorporated as a city in 1838, and went on to serve in multiple public offices.

Hitchcock died in 1869. Several years later his widow, Emily, donated land on the mainland to the Santa Fe Railroad for use as a right-of-way, on condition that they name the station there after her husband. That station stop later grew into the town of Hitchcock.

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. Membership in the Texas Navy Association is open to all persons age 16 and over who have an interest in Texas history and want to help support the goals of the organization.

Image: Detail from an ambrotype image believed to be Lent Munson Hitchcock and his family, probably in the early 1850s. Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

Crowdfunding History: What Did 17th-Century Sailors Really Eat?

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 30, 2017

There’s a group of students at Texas A&M working on a project to recreate shipboard food from the 17th century, and they’re doing it here in Galveston aboard the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA. They need only a modest amount of additional funding to complete the project, one that strikes me as both valuable in the sense of generating new knowledge, and simply a lot of fun, as well. I hope you will join me in making a contribution to this project. From their crowdfunding page:

About This Project
Were sailors actually ship-shape–or were they truly a sickly bunch? Find out with us! We are replicating shipboard food using the exact ingredients and methods from the 17th century. Then, a transatlantic voyage is simulated by storing the food in casks and keeping them on Elissa, the 19th century tallship. The nutritional and microbiological data from this project will offer a glimpse into the unique food situation, health, and daily life of past sailors.

What is the context of this research?
“[Unsalted food] is rotten and stinking [so] it is necessary to lose your senses of taste and smell and sight just to [consume] it and not sense it,” wrote Eugenio de Salazar, a Spanish explorer to the New World, in 1573. Before canning technologies or refrigeration were invented, food was fermented, salted, or dried to prevent spoilage. Unfortunately, these methods of preservation also decrease the nutritional value of food on lengthy voyages. Previous attempts to gauge the nutritional value of shipboard diets were based on historical documentation or existing USDA nutrition charts that only reflect nutritional values from modern foods, not historical ones.

What is the significance of this project?
This project hopes to understand the effects of shipboard diet on the health of sailors by determining the nutritional and microbial intake of seamen on 17th-century English ships by replicating the food items as close to possible as they were in the past.

This project will give us great insight into humankind’s shared maritime history and answer some longstanding questions in archaeology and history. We hope to understand how this unique subset of society ate and how this impacted their health, as prior to airplanes, all immigrants who made the transatlantic voyage to the United States came here via ship. Yet, there is little knowledge on the precise conditions of the food 17th-century sailors consumed.

What are the goals of the project?
In this project, shipboard food will be replicated using the exact ingredients and methods of preparation from the 17th century, including non-GMO ingredients, the exact species of plant or animal, and the same butchery methods and cuts of meat. Archaeological and historical data will be used to replicate the salted pork and beef, ship biscuit, wine and beer, and other provisions aboard Warwick, an English race-built galleon that sank in 1619. We will also simulate a trans-Atlantic voyage by storing the food in casks and keeping these in a ship’s hull for three months. Representative samples of food will be sent for nutritional and microbial analysis, including species of microbes, their quantities, and toxins, to understand changes that the food undergoes.

The crowdfunding page is here. As of Saturday morning, they’re about $3,500 short of their goal. This is do-able, y’all!