Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

July 4, 1863: Vicksburg Falls

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 4, 2017

One hundred fifty-four years ago today, Vicksburg fell to General Grants army after a siege of 46 days. My great-great-grandfather, William Colder Demnan of the 30th Alabama Infantry, was one of the 18,000 Confederate troops surrendered on that day. The Confederate commander, Pemberton, later said he chose Independence Day to surrender because he felt he could get better terms of surrender on that day than on any other.

Grant wrote of the aftermath in his memoirs:

Pemberton and his army were kept in Vicksburg until the whole could be paroled. The paroles were in duplicate, by organization (one copy for each, Federals and Confederates), and signed by the commanding officers of the companies or regiments. Duplicates were also made for each soldier and signed by each individually, one to be retained by the soldier signing and one to be retained by us. Several hundred refused to sign their paroles, preferring to be sent to the North as prisoners to being sent back to fight again. Others again kept out of the way, hoping to escape either alternative. . . .

As soon as our troops took possession of the city guards were established along the whole line of parapet, from the river above to the river below. The prisoners were allowed to occupy their old camps behind the intrenchments. No restraint was put upon them, except by their own commanders. They were rationed about as our own men, and from our supplies. The men of the two armies fraternized as if they had been fighting for the same cause. When they passed out of the works they had so long and so gallantly defended, between lines of their late antagonists, not a cheer went up, not a remark was made that would give pain. Really, I believe there was a feeling of sadness just then in the breasts of most of the Union soldiers at seeing the dejection of their late antagonists.

The painting above hangs in the Governor’s Suite of the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. (It was one of several paintings that were recently threatened with relocation, but I understand that plan was shelved after public outcry.) It depicts the Fourth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry leading Federal troops into the city. It was painted by Francis D. Millet (1846-1912) sometime after 1905. Millet, one of the best-known American artists of the period, was himself a Civil War veteran. Millet died in April 1912 in the sinking of Titanic.

h/t Kevin Dally

Update: A blog reader notes that Millet also designed the Army Campaign Medal issued to CW veterans:

$_35

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Faugh A Ballabh – Clear the Way!

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 3, 2017

 

On the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, an Irish Brigade flag flies on a private residence in Galveston.

 

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Presentation Thursday — “Sailing a Square-Rigger”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 3, 2017


Join us this Thursday evening, July 6, at Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant in Galveston for guest speaker, Jamie White, past director of the Texas Seaport Museum and the historic 1877 Iron Barque Elissa and an Admiral in the Texas Navy Association. Captain White will give a presentation on “Sailing Elissa ~ a Square Rig Primer.” Captain White will present a lecture on the dynamics of setting sail aboard and maneuvering the official tall ship of Texas, Elissa, and how ships of the Texas Navy would have been similarly handled underway during battle.

Having worked in the traditional rigging and square-rig sail training industry since the early 1980s, Captain White has built an extensive knowledge and understanding of traditional sailing ships and their operational and restoration/maintenance and educational outreach requirements. He has sailed over 30,000 miles as bosun, mate, or master on many square-rigged & traditional vessels including: HMAV Bounty, the three-masted barque Elissa, topsail schooner Californian, galleon Golden Hinde, barque Star of India, brig Pilgrim, schooner Adventuress, 3 masted schooner Jacqueline, square-topsail ketch Hawaiian Chieftain, brig Lady Washington, schooner Atlantis, and the brigantine Soren Larsen. He served as Chief/Master Rigger on the three-masted barque Glenlee, the four-masted barque Moshulu, the three-masted ship Balclutha, and the three-masted schooner C.A. Thayer. Captain White has served as a rigging consultant on the the four-masted ship Falls of Clyde, the three-masted ship Discovery, and the three-masted barque Polly Woodside. Most recently he spent much of 2016 supervising and directing the $3.5 million rigging restoration of the largest wrought iron sailing ship in the world, the full rigged ship Wavertree, launched 1885. He has served as both Master and Education Coordinator on the brig Lady Washington in 1988-89.

The event will begin with a meet-and-greet and cash bar at 6:30 p.m., with dinner and the presentation beginning at 7:30. Attendees can order from the regular Fisherman’s Wharf menu, and will be responsible for purchasing their own food and drinks. Those wanting to attend should RSVP to Adm. Butch Spafford, (409) 239-three one eight two, or by e-mail to admspafford-at-gmail-dot-com

The planned agenda for the July 6 meeting is available here.

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. In Galveston, the Charles E. Hawkins Squadron was organized in the fall of 2016, and meets on the first Thursday evening in odd-numbered months at Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant.

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Godspeed, Brass Napoleon

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 29, 2017

This morning I learned of the passing last weekend of Ron Gorman of Columbia Station, Ohio. I had never met Ron, but I knew him online as user “Brass Napoleon” at the Civil War Talk discussion forum. Ron was one of the users that makes that such a great place, as his posts were invariably detailed, deeply informed, and often amusing to boot. He was a great contributor there, and we will all miss him. Ron was the second prominent member of CWT to go this year, after Hank Trent passed away a few months ago. You can read Ron’s obituary here.

Ron was a software engineer by profession, but his real passion was local and Civil War history. Ron was both a volunteer docent and a trustee of the Oberlin Heritage Center. One of his ongoing passions was to explore and tell the story of the antebellum Underground Railroad in Oberlin. So he probably had a lot of fun last fall, when he portrayed a villainous local man named Chauncey Wack (no, really) who was a staunch defender of southerners’ chattel property rights and welcomed slave catchers to stay at his inn when they passed through town.

Ron’s passing was sudden and unexpected. There will be a visitation with the family and celebration of Ron’s life on Saturday in Elyria. In lieu of flowers, the family suggested donations to the Oberlin Heritage Center or Lorain County Homeless Shelter.

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Lieutenant Commander Jouett’s Prize

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 28, 2017

One important inducement for Union sailors was prize money. When a ship or other suspected enemy property was captured, the officers and enlisted crew members of the seizing vessel were entitled to a share of the cash value of enemy ship, or “prize.” (The Confederate Navy had rules governing prize money, too, but its crews were rarely in a position to bring captured ships into southern ports for adjudication.) The awarding of prize money was part of a long tradition in Europe and, later, in the U.S. Navy. When a suspect vessel was taken, its captors would put a skeleton crew on board to sail it to the nearest U.S. admiralty court for adjudication; for ships seized off the Texas coast, that was usually at New Orleans or Key West. There, the navy would present a “libel” against the prize, evidence that the vessel had, in fact, been caught running in or out of a blockaded southern port. The ship’s papers would be entered into the record, along with cargo manifests, logbooks and other records. Often one or more of the captured ship’s officers or crew would be brought in to give testimony as well.

The seized ship’s owners, or their representatives, were also permitted to present evidence of their own to show that the seizure had been unwarranted. Sometimes these challenges were successful on first hearing or, like any other legal case, were drawn out interminably by appeals that might go as high as the U.S. Supreme Court. It was not unusual for prize cases during the Civil War to drag on for many months or even years. Even when a case was quickly adjudicated and prize money assigned for allotment, it could be a very long time before the men entitled actually received their share. Francis Davenport, a former officer on USS Portsmouth, writing long after the war about the first prize his ship had captured, noted laconically, “I think I got some $43 prize money about twelve years afterward…”

In most cases the seizure was upheld by the court, and the vessel and all its contents were inventoried, appraised and put up for auction. After deductions for court costs and inventorying, appraising and auctioning the prize, half the proceeds was retained by the government and placed in a fund for disabled seamen, while the other half was divvied up between the officers and crew of the squadron that made the capture. The admiral commanding the regional squadron (e.g., the West Gulf Blockading Squadron) collected 5 percent of the total proceeds, the local commodore received 1 percent and the remaining 44 percent was split among the officers and men of the naval vessel(s) that had actually made the capture. In keeping with a U.S. law dating to 1800, the captain and officers aboard the capturing vessels claimed the lion’s share of the prize money, while the far more numerous enlisted sailors and Marines were left to divide a small part of the proceeds among themselves.

My friend Ed Cotham recently passed along this letter from an auction site, relating to blockade prize money and from an officer who had earlier participated in a rather notable exploit here early in the war, Lieutenant Commander James E. Jouett (1826-1902), when he led a boarding party that cut out the privateer Royal Yacht from Galveston harbor. The letter Ed sent me is from three years after that event, and is addressed to a Philadelphia attorney, John Goforth, asking the latter to represent Jouett’s interests in an upcoming prize case:

U.S. Steamer “Metacomet”
Key West Fla

Novb. 30th, 1864

My dear Goforth.

Will you please Consider yourself appointed to say to the Court, the captors of the Blockade running Steamer “Susanna” [sic.] desire you to act as their counsel.

A speedy adjustment of the Case will ensure other vessels being sent to your Port.

The long delays in the payment of the “Donegal,” or at least [of] the Cargo, Seriously injures the reputation of your Port. Boston had no delays.

Very truly yours, & c.

Jas. E. Jouett
Lieut. Commd.

To
John Goforth Esq.
Atty At Law
Phila Penn

You can read Jouett’s account of the capture here. But getting back to his letter to attorney Goforth, there are a number of interesting elements there.

Jouett’s interest in having a quick adjudication of the case (and subsequent distribution of prize money) was obviously an important consideration. In the same way that courts and particular judges are today perceived to be sympathetic or hostile to certain kinds of cases, naval prize courts during the Civil War developed similar reputations. Clearly in Jouett’s view, the prize court in Philadelphia wasn’t working through its caseload as fast as it might, and certainly not as fast as the one in Boston. Similarly, the amount of money capturing crew ultimately received depended on how much condemned vessel and its contents sold for at auction. Here, simple supply-and-demand came into play, because obviously the prize would be worth more in a local market where there was a high demand for vessels and whatever cargo they happen to be carrying when captured, then in a port where there was a market glut of either. A number of naval officers made small fortunes through serendipity when cargoes they had captured happened, by chance, to come up for auction in New Orleans in the fall of 1864, where the price of good quality cotton spiked to more than a dollar a pound.

Jouett (left) may also have wanted Susanna and her cargo to be adjudicated in Philadelphia because he had someone there (Goforth) who could directly represent his case before the prize court. While Goforth’s fee would come out of Jouett’s share of the prize money awarded, some officers found hiring personal attorneys to represent them to be a worthwhile investment. Samuel Phillips Lee, who commanded the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron off Wilmington, North Carolina, reportedly referred to his post as the “prize money command.” Lee was so protective of his perquisite that he hired his own attorney, acting on commission, to represent him in prize cases. The lawyer did his job well, helping Lee to collect $109,689.99 in prize money during his two years’ tenure in command, the highest of any Union officer.

So how much did Jouett collect — not counting his attorney’s fee — on the capture of Susanna? As if happens, we can know that amount to the penny.

Susanna was captured on November 27, 1864, and the case settled at Philadelphia on March 25, 1865 — a period of almost exactly four months, relatively quickly by the standard of the day. (The case of Donegal, about whose “long delays” Jouett complained in his letter to Goforth, had taken nearly five months. Jouett was clearly an impatient man.) The total amount raised by the sale of the ship and her cargo was $60,284.20, from which $5,297.60 was deducted to cover court costs, inventorying, and other expenses related to the case. This left $54,986.60 for disbursement to the various concerned parties. Half of that money  — $27,493.30 — went to the U.S. government to support naval hospitals; and the other half was then set for distribution among various officers, Marines, and seamen.

Five percent of the total value of the prize ($2,749.33) went to Jouett’s Squadron Commander (Rear Admiral David G. Farragut), and another one percent ($549.87) went to his division commander. That left 44% of the total value of Susanna and her cargo, or $24,194.10, for Jouett and his crew.

That $24,194.10 was then split into 21 equal shares of $1,209.71. Jouett himself was entitled to three of those shares, or $3,629.13. His officers and midshipmen collected between them ten shares ($12,097.10), which probably came out to about $240 each. The enlisted seamen and Marines claimed the remaining seven shares, or $24,194.20. If Metacomet was at or near her full complement at the time of Susanna’s capture, each seaman and Marine probably stood to collect between $55 and $60.

As a Lieutenant Commander with a sea appointment, Jouett’s annual pay was $2,343, so his share of Susanna‘s value, $3,629.13, amounted to roughly a year and a half’s pay. For a Ordinary Seaman who normally earned $16 per month, his $55 or $60 prize money from Susanna amounted to about four months’ regular pay.

As Francis Davenport noted, however, it often took months or even years for sailors to collect the prize monies owed them. In response, there developed business opportunity for prize money brokers, who would advance seamen a portion of the money owed them in return for prize claim documents. It was an arrangement not unlike modern payday lending, and it took advantage of seamen who were unwilling or unable to wait an extended period to collect the funds owed them on the Navy’s slow and arbitrary schedule.


USS Metacomet (left) slugs it out with a Confederate gunboat in the Battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864.

Over the course of the war, Jouett became one of the Navy’s more celebrated junior officers. Only a few months before capturing Susanna, Jouett’s Metacomet had been lashed alongside Farragut’s flagship, Hartford, as the West Gulf Blockading Squadron entered Mobile Bay. (If Farragut really said, “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” James Jouett probably heard it live.) He eventually rose to the rank of Rear Admiral, and retired in 1890. He died in 1902 and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Three U.S. Navy ships have been named USS Jouett after him — a Paulding Class destroyer (1912), a Somers Class destroyer (1938), and a Belknap Class guided missile cruiser (1964).

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Bearss!

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 26, 2017

A Quick Note on the Maritime Texas Blog

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 22, 2017


Fourteen-inch ammunition handling room, USS Texas (BB-35), 2012.

A few of you know that I also have a blog called Maritime Texas, that deals with this state’s nautical heritage. That blog has been long neglected by me, both as this blog and other projects took up a lot of my attention. I went ahead and shut that blog down this week, as due to a peculiar hosting arrangement for it that I set up years ago it has proved to be costly to maintain, particularly for a blog that’s been inactive for quite a while. There are better options, that I will be exploring. All the content there has been archived, and I hope to resurrect it again at some point in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, let’s just say it’s been transferred to the Reserve Fleet.

And then there’s always the Internet Archive Wayback machine.

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Your Tropical Storm Cindy Picture of the Day

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 21, 2017

Forty-eight hours ago the salt water lagoon that dude’s surfing in was a parking lot.

When you live on a barrier island, “sea level” is not an abstract concept. Y’all be safe out there.

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Juneteenth, History and Tradition

Posted in African Americans, Genealogy, Memory by Andy Hall on June 19, 2017

[This post originally appeared here on June 19, 2010.]


“Emancipation” by Thomas Nast. Ohio State University.

Juneteenth has come again, and (quite rightly) the Galveston County Daily News, the paper that first published General Granger’s order that forms the basis for the holiday, has again called for the day to be recognized as a national holiday:

Those who are lobbying for a national holiday are not asking for a paid day off. They are asking for a commemorative day, like Flag Day on June 14 or Patriot Day on Sept. 11. All that would take is a presidential proclamation. Both the U.S. House and Senate have endorsed the idea.

Why is a national celebration for an event that occurred in Galveston and originally affected only those in a single state such a good idea?

Because Juneteenth has become a symbol of the end of slavery. No matter how much we may regret the tragedy of slavery and wish it weren’t a part of this nation’s story, it is. Denying the truth about the past is always unwise.

For those who don’t know, Juneteenth started in Galveston. On Jan. 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. But the order was meaningless until it could be enforced. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865 — after the Confederacy had been defeated and Union troops landed in Galveston — that the slaves in Texas were told they were free.

People all across the country get this story. That’s why Juneteenth celebrations have been growing all across the country. The celebration started in Galveston. But its significance has come to be understood far, far beyond the island, and far beyond Texas.

This is exactly right. Juneteenth is not just of relevance to African Americans or Texans, but for all who ascribe to the values of liberty and civic participation in this country. A victory for civil rights for any group is a victory for us all, and there is none bigger in this nation’s history than that transformation represented by Juneteenth.

But as widespread as Juneteenth celebrations have become — I was pleased and surprised, some years ago, to see Juneteenth celebration flyers pasted up in Minnesota — there’s an awful lot of confusion and misinformation about the specific events here, in Galveston, in June 1865 that gave birth to the holiday. The best published account of the period appears in Edward T. Cotham’s Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston, from which much of what follows is abstracted.


The United States Customs House, Galveston.

On June 5, Captain B. F. Sands entered Galveston harbor with the Union naval vessels Cornubia and Preston. Sands went ashore with a detachment and raised the United States flag over the federal customs house for about half an hour. Sands made a few comments to the largely silent crowd, saying that he saw this event as the closing chapter of the rebellion, and assuring the local citizens that he had only worn a sidearm that day as a gesture of respect for the mayor of the city.


Site of General Granger’s headquarters, southwest corner of 22nd Street and Strand.

A large number of Federal troops came ashore over the next two weeks, including detachments of the 76th Illinois Infantry. Union General Gordon Granger, newly-appointed as military governor for Texas, arrived on June 18, and established his headquarters in Osterman Building (now gone) on the southwest corner of 22nd and Strand. The provost marshal, which acted largely as a military police force, set up in the Customs House. The next day, June 19, a Monday, Granger issued five general orders, establishing his authority over the rest of Texas and laying out the initial priorities of his administration. General Orders Nos. 1 and 2 asserted Granger’s authority over all Federal forces in Texas, and named the key department heads in his administration of the state for various responsibilities. General Order No. 4 voided all actions of the Texas government during the rebellion, and asserted Federal control over all public assets within the state. General Order No. 5 established the Army’s Quartermaster Department as sole authorized buyer for cotton, until such time as Treasury agents could arrive and take over those responsibilities.

It is General Order No. 3, however, that is remembered today. It was short and direct:

Headquarters, District of Texas
Galveston, Texas, June 19, 1865

General Orders, No. 3

The people are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there ro elsewhere.

By order of
Major-General Granger
F. W. Emery, Maj. & A. . G.

What’s less clear is how this order was disseminated. It’s likely that printed copies were put up in public places. It was published on June 21 in the Galveston Daily News, but otherwise it is not known if it was ever given a formal, public and ceremonial reading. Although the symbolic significance of General Order No. 3 cannot be overstated, its main legal purpose was to reaffirm what was well-established and widely known throughout the South, that with the occupation of Federal forces came the emancipation of all slaves within the region now coming under Union control.


The James Moreau Brown residence, now known as Ashton Villa, at 24th & Broadway in Galveston. This site is well-established in local tradition as the site of the original Juneteenth proclamation, although direct evidence is lacking.

Local tradition has long held that General Granger took over James Moreau Brown’s home on Broadway, Ashton Villa, as a residence for himself and his staff. To my knowledge, there is no direct evidence for this. Along with this comes the tradition that the Ashton Villa was also the site where the Emancipation Proclamation was formally read out to the citizenry of Galveston. This belief has prevailed for many years, and is annually reinforced with events commemorating Juneteenth both at the site, and also citing the site. In years past, community groups have even staged “reenactments” of the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation from the second-floor balcony, something which must surely strain the limits of reasonable historical conjecture. As far as I know, the property’s operators, the Galveston Historical Foundation, have never taken an official stand on the interpretation that Juneteenth had its actual origins on the site. Although I myself have serious doubts about Ashton Villa having having any direct role in the original Juneteenth, I also appreciate that, as with the band playing “Nearer, My God, to Thee” as Titanic sank beneath the waves, arguing against this particular cherished belief is undoubtedly a losing battle.

Assuming that either the Emancipation Proclamation (or alternately, Granger’s brief General Order No. 3) was formally, ceremonially read out to the populace, where did it happen? Charles Waldo Hayes, writing several years after the war, says General Order No. 3 was “issued from [Granger’s] headquarters,” but that sounds like a figurative description rather than a literal one. My bet would not be Ashton Villa, but one of two other sites downtown already mentioned: the Osterman Building, where Granger’s headquarters was located and where the official business of the Federal occupation was done initially, or at the United States Customs House, which was the symbol of Federal property both in Galveston and the state as a whole, and (more important still) was the headquarters of Granger’s provost marshal, Lieutenant Colonel Rankin G. Laughlin of the 94th Illinois Infantry. It’s easy to imagine Lt. Col. Laughlin dragging a crate out onto the sidewalk in front of the Customs House and barking out a brief, and somewhat perfunctory, read-through of all five of the general’s orders in quick succession. No flags, no bands, and probably not much of a crowd to witness the event. My personal suspicion is that, were we to travel back to June 1865 and witness the origin of this most remarkable and uniquely-American holiday, we’d find ourselves very disappointed in how the actual events played out at the time.

Maybe the Ashton Villa tradition is preferable, after all.

Hari Jones Drops the Hammer on National Observance of Juneteenth

Posted in African Americans, Memory by Andy Hall on June 18, 2017

[This post originally appeared in 2011.]

 

Hari Jones, Curator of the African American Civil War Museum, drops the hammer on the movement to make Juneteenth a national holiday, and the organization behind it, the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJoF). He argues that the narrative used to justify the propose holiday does little to credit African Americans with taking up their own struggle, and instead presents them as passive players in emancipation, waiting on the beneficence of the Union army to do it for them. Further, he presses, the standard Juneteenth narrative carries forward a long-standing, intentional effort to suppress the story of how African Americans, in ways large and small, worked to emancipate themselves, particularly by taking up arms for the Union. He wraps up a stem-winder:

Certainly, informed and knowledgeable people should not celebrate the suppression of their own history. Juneteenth day is a de facto celebration of such suppression. Americans, especially Americans of African descent, should not celebrate when the enslaved were freed by someone else, because that’s not the accurate story. They should celebrate when the enslaved freed themselves, by saving the Union. Such freedmen were heroes, not spectators, and their story is currently being suppressed by the advocates of the Juneteenth national holiday. The Emancipation Proclamation did not free the slaves; it made it legal for this disenfranchised, enslaved population to free themselves, while maintaining the supremacy of the Constitution, and preserving the Union. They became the heroes of the Republic. It is as Lincoln said: without the military help of the black freedman, the war against the South could not have been won.

That’s worth celebrating. That’s worth telling. The story of how Americans of African descent helped save the Union, and freed themselves. Let’s celebrate the truth, a glorious history, a story of a glorious march to Liberty.

One gets the idea that Jones’ beef with the NJoF and its director, Dr. Ronald Myers, is about something more personal than mere historical narrative.

Jones makes a powerful argument, with solid points. But I think he misses something crucial, which is that in Texas, where Juneteenth originated, it’s been a regular celebration since 1866. It is not a modern holiday, established retroactively to commemorate an event in the long past; the celebration of Juneteenth is as old as emancipation itself. It was created and carried on by the freedmen and -women themselves:

Some of the early emancipation festivities were relegated by city authorities to a town’s outskirts; in time, however, black groups collected funds to purchase tracts of land for their celebrations, including Juneteenth. A common name for these sites was Emancipation Park. In Houston, for instance, a deed for a ten-acre site was signed in 1872, and in Austin the Travis County Emancipation Celebration Association acquired land for its Emancipation Park in the early 1900s; the Juneteenth event was later moved to Rosewood Park. In Limestone County the Nineteenth of June Association acquired thirty acres, which has since been reduced to twenty acres by the rising of Lake Mexia.

Particular celebrations of Juneteenth have had unique beginnings or aspects. In the state capital Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1867 under the direction of the Freedmen’s Bureau and became part of the calendar of public events by 1872. Juneteenth in Limestone County has gathered “thousands” to be with families and friends. At one time 30,000 blacks gathered at Booker T. Washington Park, known more popularly as Comanche Crossing, for the event. One of the most important parts of the Limestone celebration is the recollection of family history, both under slavery and since. Another of the state’s memorable celebrations of Juneteenth occurred in Brenham, where large, racially mixed crowds witness the annual promenade through town. In Beeville, black, white, and brown residents have also joined together to commemorate the day with barbecue, picnics, and other festivities.

It’s one thing to argue with another historian or community leader about the the historical narrative represented by a pubic celebration (think Columbus Day), but it’s entirely another to — in effect — dismiss the understanding of the day as originally celebrated by the people who actually lived those events, and experienced them at first hand.

What do you think?
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h/t Kevin. Image: Juneteenth celebration in Austin, June 19, 1900. PICA 05476, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.