Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Houston Civil War Round Table’s 2017-18 Campaign

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 15, 2017

The Houston Civil War Round Table’s 2017-18 Campaign kicks off on Thursday, September 21, with a presentation by Brian Matthew Jordan, author of the finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in History, Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War. It should be a fine program, but it’s just getting things started for this year. In October, Gary Gallagher will discuss “Another Look at the Generalship of Robert E. Lee,” and in November Eric J. Wittenberg will present “John Buford at Gettysburg.” It’s one helluva roster, y’all:

Sept 21, 2017, Brian Matthew Jordan, Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War (2017 Vandiver Award Recipient)
Oct 19, 2017,  Gary W. Gallagher, Another Look at the Generalship of Robert E. Lee
Nov 16, 2017, Eric J. Wittenberg, John Buford at Gettysburg
Dec 14, 2017, Dennis Trainor, VMI Cadets at New Market
Jan 18, 2018, Edwin C. Bearss, Brice’s Crossroads and Tupelo
Feb 15, 2018, Mark Christ, All Cut to Pieces and Gone to Hell’: Atrocities During the Camden Expedition
Mar 15, 2018, Scott C. Patchan, Second Manassas: Longstreet’s Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge
Apr 19, 2018, Lesley J. Gordon. The 2nd Texas at Shiloh
May 17, 2018, To Be Determined, Holding for 2018 Vandiver Award recipient

I hope many of you will be able to brave the Galleria-area traffic and attend. The Round Table meets for dinner the third Thursday of each month from September to May (except December when the meeting is usually the second Thursday in December) at the Hess Club to hear renowned speakers from across the United States. The Round Table welcomes members and guests alike to any meeting, but it is always necessary to make reservations by 6:00 pm the Monday before a meeting for Dinner or Lecture Only.

6:00 – 6:45 PM: Social Hour with Cash Bar
6:45 – 7:30 PM: Dinner ($32.00)
7:30 – 7:45 PM: Meeting / Quiz / Raffle
7:45 – 8:45 PM: Guest Speaker

Lecture Only – Chairs are available for a small charge to persons who wish to attend the meeting without eating dinner. ($10.00)

The Hess Club’s address is 5430 Westheimer. The club is situated on the corner of Westheimer Way and Westheimer Court. Free, convenient, and handicap-accessible parking is across the street. Valet parking is also available.

The Hess Club
5430 Westheimer
Houston, Texas 77056
Phone: (713) 627-2283

Call Don Zuckero at (TwoEightOne) 479-OneTwoThreeTwo or email him at Reservations at HoustonCivilWar dot com by 6:00 PM the Monday preceding the Thursday meeting.

_______

Advertisements

Texian Navy Days Postponed

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 1, 2017

From TNA President Jerry Patterson:

Admirals and Friends of the Texas Navy Association:

In light of the effects of Hurricane Harvey, the leadership team of the Texas Navy Association and the hosting Hawkins Squadron in Galveston have decided to cancel the Texian Navy Days events scheduled for September 15-17, 2017, to be rescheduled at a later date to be announced. As of Friday, September 1, evacuations are still underway in flooded areas in East Texas and Louisiana, and we’ve received reports of TNA members with significant damage to their homes and businesses. One critical vendor to the event had to cancel as a result of the storm, and we have not been able to follow up with others. A number of TNA members who had reserved a place at the event have been forced by the situation to cancel their plans.

Although we’re disappointed to have to make this decision, it’s the correct and necessary one. In addition to the logistical challenges brought about by Harvey, the storm has inevitably caused all of us to realign our priorities respond to our own needs, those of our friends and families, and those of our neighbors.

We will be making arrangements to refund those monies already paid to the TNA for registration, and will provide details on that soon. Reservations for lodging at Moody Gardens or other locations must be cancelled by each of you separately; the TNA has no control over that part of the process.

I would like to thank everyone who’s been involved in organizing this event across the TNA. Although we won’t be gathering as planned in two weeks, we believe that we’ve developed a blueprint for a successful event, and look forward to having it on the calendar again soon.

In the meantime, we appreciate your ongoing support, and look forward to corresponding with you again soon. We all face difficult days and weeks ahead but, just as our for-bearers in the Texian Navy did 180 years ago, with diligence and determination we will not only persevere, but thrive.

Sincerely,
Jerry Patterson,
President, Texas Navy Association

_______

CW Naval Paper Models Available

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 26, 2017

While looking for something else today, I happened on a collection of paper models by the late Magnus Mörck that are available for download as PDF files.

http://modelsnmoore.com/mmork.php
http://modelsnmoore.com/mymodels.php

Individual models:

USS Cairo
USS Carondelet
USS Essex
USS Mendota
Blockade runner Teazer
US Perry (above)
USS Coeur de Lion
Transport Maple Leaf
USS Lehigh
CSS Albemarle

Not all of the links work. I haven’t printed out and assembled any of these, so I can’t speak to their quality, but looks interesting.

_____

Duke Researchers: Hunley’s Crew Killed by Blast Wave

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 23, 2017

Four and a half years ago, the archaeologists announced that they had confirmed that when the Confederate submersible H. L. Hunley sank USS Housatonic in February 1864, the torpedo they used was still attached to a sixteen-foot iron pole attached to the bow of the boat. They were also able to corroborate that the remains of that copper torpedo match a contemporary drawing of a device claimed to be the same weapon, filled with 135 lbs of black powder. It was a landmark discovery in the process of investigating the wreck itself.

Now, armed with that knowledge, researchers at Duke University believe they’ve determined what actually sank the boat and killed its crew:

Speculation about the crew’s deaths has included suffocation and drowning, but a new study claims that a shockwave created by their own weapon was to blame.

Researchers from Duke University in North Carolina set blasts near a scale model of the vessel to calculate their impact.

They also shot authentic weapons at historically accurate iron plates.

They used this data to work out the mathematics behind human respiration and the transmission of blast energy.

Ms Rachel Lance, one of the researchers on the study, says the crew died instantly from the force of the explosion travelling through the soft tissues of their bodies, especially their lungs and brains.

Ms Lance calculates the likelihood of immediately fatal lung trauma to be at least 85 per cent for each member of the Hunley crew.

She believes the crippled sub then drifted out on a falling tide and slowly took on water before sinking.

‘This is the characteristic trauma of blast victims, they call it “blast lung”, said Ms Lance.

‘You have an instant fatality that leaves no marks on the skeletal remains.

‘Unfortunately, the soft tissues that would show us what happened have decomposed in the past hundred years.’


While I don’t have the scientific background to assess the Duke researchers’ methodology, this seems right to me, and I’ve long thought that whatever died happen must surely have killed or incapacitated the crew almost instantly.

____

Update, Wednesday evening: Here’s a paper from last year arguing that the crew of Hunley did NOT suffocate due to lack of oxygen. So that rules out one of the other major theories.

____

Update, slightly later Wednesday evening: The U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command isn’t so sure:

Navy researchers helping with the official examination of the Hunley have studied the blast wave theory and have their doubts, Naval History and Heritage Command spokesman Paul Taylor said.

“The Navy has already examined the concussive wave theory. We found it highly unlikely to have injured the crew, let alone caused their deaths,” said Taylor, who added the team had not had time to review Lance’s research. . . .

The official scientists working to preserve the submarine in a North Charleston, South Carolina, laboratory, had no comment on Lance’s research, said Kellen Correia, executive director of the Friends of the Hunley. Correia pointed out Lance had no access to the primary evidence from the current research into the sub.

Those official researchers continue their work on several ways the men could have died, including the notion that the submarine had a leak and could not surface, or that the crew ran out of oxygen while underwater.

So maybe something, maybe not. The “fish boat” has fooled people before.

____
h/t Bobby Hughes of the Ships and the Sea Museum in Savannah, Georgia.

Now Houston.

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 21, 2017

And now this:

1024x1024.jpg

A Houston man has been charged with trying to plant explosives at the statue of Confederate officer Richard Dowling in Hermann Park, federal officials said Monday.

Andrew Schneck, 25, who was released from probation early last year after being convicted in 2015 of storing explosives, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court, Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez said in a statement Monday.

Schneck was arrested Saturday night after a Houston park ranger spotted him kneeling in bushes in front of the Dowling monument in the park, Martinez said.

When confronted Saturday night in the park, he tried to drink some of the liquid explosives but spit it out, officials said.

The ranger then asked if he planned to harm the statue, and he said he did because he did not “like that guy,” according to a sworn statement submitted in federal court by an FBI agent investigating the case.

I and others have long argued that each community — whether it’s Houston, Charlottesville, Lexington, Danville, or any other — needs to find its own resolution to publicly-owned displays of Confederate iconography. I still believe that.

But as the saying goes, “life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.” The measured, deliberate, and rational approach has been completely overtaken by events of the last few months, most particularly in Charlottesville. The real question at this point seems to be not whether or not monuments like this should stay, but what can be done with them when they, or at least a great many of them, end up being dismantled or relocated. It’s not longer a question of preserving these monuments in place; it’s a question of whether they can be preserved at all.

You can read my earlier posts about this monument here:

Dick Dowling, Kirby Smith, and the Future of Confederate Monuments

Dick Dowling and the Immigrant’s Call to Arms

_______

Be Careful What You Ask For. . . .

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 14, 2017

Earlier this evening, a crowd pulled down a Confederate monument in North Carolina. Two thoughts:

First, the people who did this should be prosecuted.

Second, the folks who pushed hard in North Carolina (and other states) for legislation that prevents local governments from moving or altering Confederate monuments on their own property need to acknowledge that in doing so, they’ve made incidents like this MORE likely now, not less. Had Durham County been able to deal with this issue directly, this monument might well have been moved rather than destroyed.

These laws to “protect” monuments by preventing local communities from making their own decisions about them are a bit like tying down the safety valve on a steam boiler — it works great for a while, but it only lasts so long until the whole damned thing blows up.

Boom.

_____

The Rancid Circus Comes to Charlottesville

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 9, 2017

It’s still three days until the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, and it already seems to be unraveling in a mass of name-calling, accusations of bad faith, and blustery posturing by the groups involved. These include the League of the South, the Traditionalist Workers Party, the Kekistan Militia, the Three Percenters, Oathkeepers, Identity Evropa, the Nationalist Socialist Party, and various local self-described “militia” groups with names like “KK and the Pirates” and the “Fraternal Order of Alt-Right.” They’re arguing over whether open carry is allowed or not (and who really has the stones to defy the law if it’s not), whether or not the City of Charlottesville revoked their event permit, and whether or not they should move to a new, larger venue as ordered by the city or remain in the original, cramped location.

Some of these groups insist that they don’t have any political alignment or affinity with the Richard Spencer crowd, and are only there to show their support for the principle of Free Speech. None of them, as far as I can tell, have ever rallied to support the principle of Free Speech on behalf of Black Lives Matter or any group or cause on the left side of the political spectrum.

This event is nominally a rally in support of preserving Confederate monuments under threat in Charlotseville, but no one believes that’s what’s really going on here. The event is being promoted heavily on forums like Stormfront. Several heritage groups, including the Virginia Division of the SCV, denounced this event weeks ago.

AirBnB has cancelled the reservations of customers who they believe are going to Charlottesville to attend the event.

Both the Rutherford Institute, a libertarian-leaning think tank and legal resource center, and the ACLU have weighed in on the City of Charlotteville’s handling of this clusterfnck.

The local organizer, self-described “citizen journalist” Jason Kessler, appears to under a lot of stress, and posts unhinged, profanity-filled selfie video streams every time something goes wrong. In one of them he claims he’s being followed by a gang of trans women — and ZOMG he’s not even in a public restroom!

The evolving Charlottesville clown show is being covered in regular posts at the satirically-named Restoring the Honor blog (some language NSFW), that has been exposing the ties between the “Heritage not Hate” folks and white nationalist extremists for a while now. This morning, Restoring the Honor is asking, “Is Unite The Right going to be the Nazis’ Altamont?”

It’s gonna be interesting, y’all.

______

Tour USS Monitor Turret this Week Only

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 7, 2017

Sorry for the late notice on this, y’all. I hope slots are still available.

Behind-the-scenes tours with historian John V. Quarstein, Director of the Monitor Center, will be available for the public the week of August 7! See below for select times.

Tours include a walk through the award winning Ironclad Revolution exhibit, a behind-the-scenes look at the Batten Conservation Complex, a chance to go inside the turret tank and come within inches of this iconic object, and the ability to handle some rarely seen USS Monitor artifacts. Tours are $100 per person and may be booked online below.Tours are not suitable for children under the age of 10 and are limited to 10 people at a time. Don’t miss this chance to see conservation in action!Tour times, with links to register online:

http://www.marinersmuseum.org/turret-tours/

_______

Things that Go “Boom!”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 5, 2017

My colleague Chubacus from CivilWarTalk.com posted this image, subsequently identified by CWT user lordroel, of U.S. Navy tests of a spar torpedo at Newport, Rhode Island on September 11, 1871. The note on the back of the image gives the size of the charge as 160 lbs, about 20% more than used by the Confederate submersible H. L. Hunley in sinking USS Housatonic in February 1864. It was a steam launch very much like this that sank CSS Albemarle.

Presented in both flat and 3D anaglyph formats.

You can visit Chubacus’ photography blog here.

______

For the Ferroequinologists

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 30, 2017

A few years ago I happened on this Library of Congress image, and wondered what the implements carried by the man at left were. My guess was that they were handles of some sort for carrying rail. I was on the right track (so to speak), but thanks to a colleague on Facebook, the answer is even more interesting for CW train buffs. It’s described (and this same image included) in Herman Haupt’s memoir:

Other experiments were made on old sidings near Alexandria to determine the best mode of rapidly destroying tracks. The usual mode adopted by the enemy had been to tear up the rails, pile the cross ties, place the rails upon them, set the pile on fire, and bend the rails when heated. I found this mode entirely too slow, as several hours were required to heat the rails sufficiently and, when bent, we could generally straighten them for use in a few minutes, in fact, in less than one-tenth of the time required to heat and bend them.

We had been experimenting for some time with no results that I considered satisfactory, when one day [E. C.] Smeed came into my office with a couple of U-shaped irons in his hands (see illustration on page 111) and exclaimed: “I’ve got it!” “Got what?” I asked. “Got the thing that will tear up track as quickly as you can say ‘Jack Robinson,’ and spoil the rails so that nothing but a rolling mill can ever repair them.”

“That is just what I want,” was my reply; “but how are you to do it with that pair of horseshoes ?”

He explained his plan. The irons were turned up and over at the ends so as firmly to embrace the base of the rail. Into the cavity of the U a stout lever of wood was to be inserted. A rope at the end of the lever would allow half a dozen men to pull upon it and twist the rail. When the lever was pulled down to the ground and held there, another iron was to be placed beside it, and another twist given, then the first iron removed and the process repeated four or five times until a corkscrew twist was given to the rail. After hearing the explanation, I said: “I think it will do; let us go at once and try it.” Smeed’s plan was found to answer perfectly, and the problem of the simplest and quickest mode of destroying track was satisfactorily solved.​

I don’t know if the men shown are Smeed and Haupt, but I suspect they are.

_________