Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

How Do You Organize Your Books?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on November 20, 2010

I’m sure most people who have enough to be worth organizing, group them by subject. But how to you manage when those groupings become unwieldy?

My favorite anecdote is from the late Alastair Cooke, who most people remember from hosting Masterpiece Theater on PBS. Back before World War II, Cooke came to the U.S. as a BBC correspondent, submitting a weekly segment on the United States for listeners in the U.K. He kept this gig for many years, and in the process, accumulated a huge personal library of books on the U.S. He had an enormous set of bookshelves, covering an entire wall, and sorted his books as if the shelves were a map — books on New England on the upper right, Texas at the bottom in the center, and California on the (cough!) far left. Classically simple, utterly practical.

So how do you organize your books?

“. . . and make our slaves fight for Southern slavery”

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on October 24, 2010

In late March 1865 — a little over a week before Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox — the Galveston Daily News ran a long column by an editorialist calling himself “Scipio Africanus,” who argued that the Confederacy’s situation was so dire, so bleak, that there was only one sure way to save it — by invading the North. Again.

Scipio Africanus argues that “the states to be made to suffer first and most severely are Illinois, Indiana and Ohio,” and from there the massed Confederate armies should march east, sweeping across the Upper Midwest, the Great Lakes and into Pennsylvania. There is no doubt in the writer’s mind that, if executed properly, it cannot but be successful: “The Northern people will witness and feel the display of our strength and dread the renewal of  such invasions. They will experience the horrors of war; become disgusted with the strife and yield us what we ask, our independence and peace.” Given the actual state of the Confederate military in the spring of 1865, the detachment from reality present in Scipio’s writing seems not so much disturbing as it is laughable. On that level, Scipio Africanus comes across as a butternut version of “Comical Ali.”

On a more serious note, though, Scipio suggests newly-enlisted slaves should form the backbone of this invading army, which itself would be several times the size of that which Lee took north into Pennsylvania in June 1863. Picking up on the Confederate government’s eleventh-hour efforts to enlist African American slaves, and the discussion about whether such service should bring with it it emancipation — either immediately or upon completion of military service — Scipio argues that such a move “would be rewarding them with poverty, vice and starvation.” Rather, he argues, slaves should be made to fight to preserve their permanent status as slaves, because God wills it:

To make this invasion efficient, 200,000 able-bodied negroes [sic.] ought immediately to be conscripted and drilled as soldiers, and put under the command of veteran officers.

But it is painful to me to hear the doctrine urged that, for such service as they may render they ought hereafter to be emancipated. If it is right to emancipate them for performing military duty, then they ought to be emancipated for making corn. In raising bread by working the soil for us, they fight for our freedom as efficiently as they will do in throwing up earthworks or firing muskets at our foe. The work they now do with the axe and hoe, is as deserving of emancipation as any they can perform with the spade or sword. I am sick of the philanthropy taught in Wayland’s Moral Science, and learned by our people from other Yankee schoolbooks. The Bible should be our moral guide. If it is right for us to hold slaves, we have the same right to make them fight the Yankees for us, as to kill the grass, snakes and wolves on our farms. Abraham, the father of the faithful, the father of the faithful, made 318 of his slaves fight for him; but he did not set them free after the campaign was over. Freedom would be but a poor compensation to our negroes for any service. It would be rewarding them with poverty, vice and starvation. I am willing that the Government should pension and place in asylums all of them who may be maimed and crippled in this war.

The argument of those who contend that, those we enlist should be emancipated after the war, have reference to the opinions of foreign Governments, and the sentiments of the abolitionists everywhere. But we should base our action upon the word of God, and make Him the arbiter of our cause.  England and France are not hostile to us because. we are a negro slave people; for they are, and have been, not only friendly, but often in Alliance with Turkey, Spain, Portugal and Brazil — governments owning millions of African slaves. I base my hopes of success upon this foundation; God recognizes in His word our right to our slaves. He has commanded the Yankees and all others: “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s man servant nor his maid servant.” They are permitted to buy “bondmen and bondmaids” of the heathen round about; but if they steal ours, and we find them in their hands, He commands us to put them to death. If we admit that, emancipation is right, we confess that our cause is wrong. We should fight, and make our slaves fight for Southern slavery, knowing that in this contest God is on our side. It is only one of our rights. The Yankees covet all that we possess, and we are not fighting for all. Let us invade them with our slaves, not to conquer or enslave them; not to rob them of an acre; but to get back our own property, to force them to make with us an honorable and permanent peace.

As sure as the sun shines, unless we do, they will continue the war while we have anything in our possession to excite their avarice. They will capture all our cities and desolate all our homes.

If we invade them as I propose, we will secure our independence in one year from the date of the entrance of our grand armies into their land.

Galveston Daily News, March 30, 1865

“Freedom would be but a poor compensation to our negroes [sic.] for any service.” Wow. There’s much underlying context in that assertion, but it does show a prevalent line of thinking in the Confederacy at the time. Just as there were some, like Lee, who argued for emancipation in return for military service, there just as many, and perhaps many more, unwilling to allow African Americans into military service at all under any circumstances, and those like Scipio who advocating forcing slaves into direct combat to preserve their own status as slaves, in perpetuity. When modern-day Confederate apologists argue speculative nonsense that the institution of slavery would have gone away on its own in a short time, they ignore the existence of people like Scipio Africanus, who argued that “God recognizes in His word our right to our slaves,” and continued to rationalize their vehement, Bible-driven opposition to emancipation even as the walls crumbled around them.

Turret Awning

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on October 11, 2010

Ironclad warship were infamously hot, both because of their metal construction and because, compared to traditional wooden-hulled vessels, they were very poorly ventilated. It was said that Monitor‘s galley reached a temperature of 150° F at times. As a result, most of the crew off-watch spent as much time as possible out on deck, and canvas awnings were set up whenever circumstances allowed.

Therer renders are of the awning fitted to Monitor‘s turret.

Monitor’s Screw

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on October 10, 2010

It’s funny, and a little scary, how arbitrary the preservation of evidence of our history actually is. As a case in point is Monitor, that remarkable vessel that reportedly encompassed over a hundred new patentable inventions. No official authority bothered to preserve that ship’s construction drawings. They were preserved not by the Navy, which contracted for the ship’s construction, or by Continental Ironworks of New York, which did the actual building, or by John Ericsson himself. Rather, they were saved by Charles W. MacCord, the cantankerous Swede’s chief draftsman. MacCord later served as faculty at the Stevens Institute of Technology, where they would eventually be rediscovered decades later.

Several of these drawings are reproduced in Miller’s U.S.S. Monitor: The Ship that Launched a Modern Navy, including a scale drawing of the ship’s nine-foot, cast-iron propeller, or screw (above). Using this drawing as a guide, I’ve modeled the propeller in three dimensions, after the jump:


You’re All Invited to the Keel-Laying

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on October 9, 2010

My copy of U.S.S. Monitor: The Ship that Launched a Modern Navy by Edward M. Miller, with illustrations by Alan B. Chesney, arrived Saturday. The book includes hull lines, profiles and other drawings in considerable detail, as I’d hoped. In addition, it provides a solid basic history of the ship, and an account of the search effort that found the wreck of the ironclad off Hatteras in 1973. The book’s been out of print for a long time, and that’s a shame — it’s a nice reference to one of the most famous and technologically innovative ships in American history.

Looks like more time in the digital shipyard for me!

Update: Here’s the rough of Monitor, alongside Virginia, to scale:


Image: Line drawing by Alan B. Chesney, Leeward Publications, Inc.

Updated Virginia Renders

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on September 28, 2010

Updated renders of the ironclad C.S.S. Virginia, online here.


Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on September 11, 2010

The major work on the foredeck is blocked out, though a good bit of detail to be added (anchors, cables, etc.).Put anchor chain hawsepipes in the forward casing and similar features for the rudder chains aft.

As I think I mentioned previously, there’s a lot of ambiguity about Virginia‘s appearance. There are no known photos of the ship, and contemporary illustrations are very inconsistent when it comes to specific details. This is particularly true of the ironclad’s foredeck. Sources generally agree that there was a triangular bulkhead/breakwater, but it’s not entirely clear whether this had been decked over (as planned) at the time of the actions of March 8-9, 1862. Thorough-going modelers have depicted it differently; the model in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has the deck open (and displays an incorrect ensign), while another at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum shows complete decks, fore and aft. The model at the Mariner’s Museum (as well as the plans I’m working from, from the same source) show the space open. Even the same source sometimes offers differing versions — Tom Freeman, a modern artist who work I admire greatly and who puts a great deal of research into his paintings, has depicted it both decked over (left) and open.

Also not sure if the planned shutters (also shown) were ever fitted to the angled ports on either side of the bow port.

Took the covers off the boats — the latter to make for a more visually interesting feature.


Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on September 10, 2010

TheRaven asked about the propeller (screw) on the Virginia model and caught me out — it’s a placeholder borrowed from another model. I’m still digging for decent drawings of Virginia’s screw, which would have been her original, fitted when she was in service as U.S.S. Merrimac.

In the meantime, here’s the screw from C.S.S. Alabama, the high-seas raider built by Laird at Birkenhead in 1862. Although fitted out as a steamship, Alabama was intended to spend most of her time at sea under sail to conserve fuel, and so (like many ships of that period) was fitted with a “lifting” screw that could be disconnected from the shaft and hoisted almost entirely out of the water to reduce drag. Alabama‘s screw was 14 feet 3 inches (4.34m) in diameter. This model is based on plans in Andrew Bowcock’s authoritative C.S.S. Alabama: Anatomy of a Confederate Raider, which in turn are based on shipyard-built presentation model of the ship. Ship’s trials data for Alabama are missing, but based on the models and builders’ trials of contemporary vessels, Bowcock suggests that Alabama‘s screw had a pitch angle of 35°, a “slip” — a measure of the difference between the distance that a propeller of a given pitch should have moved forward (as the result of a full rotation) and the distance that it actually moved forward — of 15-20%, and operated at full speed at 60-65 rpm. Alabama‘s screw would have been more technically refined that Merrimac/Virginia‘s, but closer than the one shown in the renders below.

More Virginia

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on September 9, 2010

More progress on Virginia. Replaced the appropriate Dahlgrens with Brooke rifles (not that it shows at all), added the upper platform rail, textured the chimney and adjusted the main casemate texture to make sure it lines up properly with the angled gunports, fore and aft. I also replaced the texture on the ship’s boat; the white will stand out better against the dark hull. (Even when striving for as much accuracy as possible, there are lots of situations where, absent actual historical data, there’s room to apply some personal aesthetic.) I’m quickly running out of work above the waterline, and soon will have to dig into the forecastle.

Virginia Progress

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Hall on September 8, 2010

Upper works blocked out and a preliminary texture on the casemate.

Guns added, as well. For now, they’re eight 9-inch Dahlgren smoothbores on the broadside, with a 7-inch Brooke rifle at each end. Two of the Dahlgrens need to be replaced with 6.4-inch Brooke rifles, but I need to be sure of their placement first.

Update: The data cards from the old Yaquinto game Ironclads show the two 6.4-inch Brookes as being the foremost broadside guns. Makes sense.

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