Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Heritage Folks Get Trolled in Houston

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 11, 2017

What goes good with riding the Hermann Park train with the grandkids on a Saturday afternoon? Shotguns and Confederate flags, apparently. (I’m not sure what “hanky code” the guy on the right is flashing, so maybe one of my readers will enlighten me on that.) Photo by Evan Mintz, Houston Chronicle.

You may have heard that there was supposed to be a big “Texas Antifa” rally at the Sam Houston monument in Hermann Park on Saturday, to call for the removal of Big Sam. Naturally, it provoked an immediate and angry plan for a counter-protest by various right-wing activists, including white nationalists, fascists, militia types, and a few assorted Confederate Flaggers. And, it turns out, the Texas Antifa rally was a hoax from the beginning:

“Texas Antifa” is an alt-right troll group that stole the name of a self-described anti-fascist group, Houston Antifa — a local chapter of a national grassroots movement — in order to… well, we’re not sure, exactly, but we think it has something to do with pissing off as many people as possible.

Unfortunately, KPRC and the Chronicle failed to dig a little deeper. If they had, they might have found the real Houston Antifa page, which has warned people to “unlike and unfollow this fake ass Texas Antifa page. Do NOT attend the June 10th Rally! This account was started a month ago and is in NO way, shape, or form affiliated with any actual Antifa Organization.”

A representative of Houston Antifa echoed the statement to the Houston Press via Facebook Thursday morning, saying, “We encourage folks NOT to attend this event whatsoever, on the Right or the Left.”

I do love me a good prank. And if it gets not-too-bright, easily-riled people to drop a little cash locally and spend all afternoon standing out in the hot Texas sun counter-protesting something that doesn’t exist, so much the better. Hope everybody kept hydrated, that’s really important.

In case anyone’s keeping score, there’s approximately zero local interest in removing the Sam Houston monument. It’s not a thing.

Still, lots a folks showed up to counter-protest the non-existent Texas Antifa protesters, including white nationalists supporting (according to their website) a new era of “American Fascism:”

As well as someone flagging for Kekistan, whatever the hell that is.

The two images above are by Yuri Peña, via the Houston Press.

And then there’s this lovely bit of foolishness, from one of the leading peripatetic beards of the Confederate heritage movement:

Arlene Barnum saw on Facebook there was group threatening to take down the Sam Houston monument.

She came to protest, fearing that removing the monument eventually would lead to changing the names of schools and streets.

“When I heard about this monument threatened to be taken down, I knew it wasn’t about the monument,” Barnum said. “They were probably going to go after the streets and the schools.”

The streets and schools were already changed, the latter more than a year ago. But bless her heart, Ms. Barnum wouldn’t know that, being from out of state and not particularly knowledgeable about the things she’s protesting in any case.

What a clown show.


Update, June 11: Apparently there was a GoFundMe page that collected a few thousand dollars to support the struggle against the Texas Antifa protest that wasn’t actually a real thing. And now people want their money back.





“Set the Watch!”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 10, 2017

On Saturday I had the unexpected and welcome opportunity to attend the commissioning ceremony for USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10), the newest littoral combat ship in the U.S. Navy. Although I’ve been reading and occasionally writing about maritime subjects for a long time, this was the first opportunity I’ve had to attend a launching or commissioning in person.

The ceremony went pretty much as scheduled (as I understand these events have a very standard pattern to them), and everyone said the right things. Importantly, everyone kept their remarks brief. As the ship’s CO, Commander Keith Woodley, said in his remarks, “you have to stop talking before they stop listening.” (It was hot, y’all.)

Naming a ship after Gabby Giffords is naturally controversial in the fever swamps of the Internet. However, partisan politics did not intrude today, as they should not. I had not paid much attention to this event before hand, and did not know who the guests would be if, indeed, they were announced ahead of time. But those present included former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Vice President Joe and Doctor Jill Biden, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. There were lots of other officials present, with polite applause for everyone involved, but those folks along with Giffords’ husband, Captain Mark Kelly, and local developer (and native Galvestonian) Tilman Fertitta were the ones who got the cheers and few standing ovations today. It was interesting, to say the least.

Thanks to my friends from the Hawkins Squadron, Chester Barnes and Paula Morris, for making this possible for me today. I’m sorry my pictures don’t do the event justice, but it was a great experience that just a few hours ago I did not know was even in the offing. More pictures after the jump:


For the Ferroequinologists

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 4, 2017

Directors of the Union Pacific Railroad celebrate reaching the 100th Meridian, October 1866. According to a Union Pacific website, this milestone guaranteed the railroad the irrevocable right to continue westward, as stipulated in the Pacific Railway Act of 1862. You can just make out the letters I and D on the side of the tender, so I believe the locomotive is “Idaho,” built in April 1866 at Schenectady. Library of Congress image.

Get out your red/cyan 3D glasses, y’all.


Frederick Douglass on Decoration Day, 1871

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 29, 2017

On Decoration Day, 1871, Frederick Douglass gave the following address at the monument to the Unknown Dead of the Civil War at Arlington National Cemetery. It is a short speech, but one of the best of its type I’ve ever encountered. I’ve posted it before, but it think it’s something worth re-reading and contemplating every Memorial Day.

The Unknown Loyal Dead
Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, on Decoration Day, May 30, 1871

Friends and Fellow Citizens:

Tarry here for a moment. My words shall be few and simple. The solemn rites of this hour and place call for no lengthened speech. There is, in the very air of this resting-ground of the unknown dead a silent, subtle and all-pervading eloquence, far more touching, impressive, and thrilling than living lips have ever uttered. Into the measureless depths of every loyal soul it is now whispering lessons of all that is precious, priceless, holiest, and most enduring in human existence.

Dark and sad will be the hour to this nation when it forgets to pay grateful homage to its greatest benefactors. The offering we bring to-day is due alike to the patriot soldiers dead and their noble comrades who still live; for, whether living or dead, whether in time or eternity, the loyal soldiers who imperiled all for country and freedom are one and inseparable.

Those unknown heroes whose whitened bones have been piously gathered here, and whose green graves we now strew with sweet and beautiful flowers, choice emblems alike of pure hearts and brave spirits, reached, in their glorious career that last highest point of nobleness beyond which human power cannot go. They died for their country.

No loftier tribute can be paid to the most illustrious of all the benefactors of mankind than we pay to these unrecognized soldiers when we write above their graves this shining epitaph.

When the dark and vengeful spirit of slavery, always ambitious, preferring to rule in hell than to serve in heaven, fired the Southern heart and stirred all the malign elements of discord, when our great Republic, the hope of freedom and self-government throughout the world, had reached the point of supreme peril, when the Union of these states was torn and rent asunder at the center, and the armies of a gigantic rebellion came forth with broad blades and bloody hands to destroy the very foundations of American society, the unknown braves who flung themselves into the yawning chasm, where cannon roared and bullets whistled, fought and fell. They died for their country.

We are sometimes asked, in the name of patriotism, to forget the merits of this fearful struggle, and to remember with equal admiration those who struck at the nation’s life and those who struck to save it, those who fought for slavery and those who fought for liberty and justice.

I am no minister of malice. I would not strike the fallen. I would not repel the repentant; but may my “right hand forget her cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,” if I forget the difference between the parties to hat terrible, protracted, and bloody conflict.

If we ought to forget a war which has filled our land with widows and orphans; which has made stumps of men of the very flower of our youth; which has sent them on the journey of life armless, legless, maimed and mutilated; which has piled up a debt heavier than a mountain of gold, swept uncounted thousands of men into bloody graves and planted agony at a million hearthstones — I say, if this war is to be forgotten, I ask, in the name of all things sacred, what shall men remember?

The essence and significance of our devotions here to-day are not to be found in the fact that the men whose remains fill these graves were brave in battle. If we met simply to show our sense of bravery, we should find enough on both sides to kindle admiration. In the raging storm of fire and blood, in the fierce torrent of shot and shell, of sword and bayonet, whether on foot or on horse, unflinching courage marked the rebel not less than the loyal soldier.

But we are not here to applaud manly courage, save as it has been displayed in a noble cause. We must never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the republic. We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation’s destroyers. If today we have a country not boiling in an agony of blood, like France, if now we have a united country, no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage, if the American name is no longer a by-word and a hissing to a mocking earth, if the star-spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice, liberty, and civilization, we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in these honored graves all around us.


Image: Graves of nine unknown Federal soldiers in Pontotoc County, Mississippi. Photo by Flickr user NatalieMaynor, used under Creative Commons license. Text of Douglass speech from Philip S. Foner and Yuval Taylor, Frederick Douglass: Selected Speeches and Writings.

Memorial Day in Memphis, 1875

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 27, 2017


From the Memphis Daily Appeal, May 25, 1875:

Three generations of soldiers were of the long array — the men who fought with Jackson at New Orleans, those who braved the Indians in the Everglades, the later generation who followed Scott and [Jefferson] Davis and [Gideon Johnston] Pillow [a local hero] in Mexico, and the still later who had served with Grant or Lee, with Stonewall Jackson or Sherman, with Forrest or Sheridan, with Joe Johnston or Thomas. . . . These were the links that bound jubilee army to the past, blending with the younger soldiers whose battles were on a grander scale, but whose contests were no fiercer, illustrated for the multitude almost the whole history of the Republic. . . . In these gentlemen [Pillow and Davis] we had united the two later and grandest epochs in our history — the one by which we won an empire, and the other by which we sustained the shock of civil war and survived to enjoy and perpetuate a still more perfect Union. Forrest, the “terrible fighter” and always victorious cavalry raider, marched in the same column with the Federals who had fought him, and shared a seat on the same platform with our best representatives of the Union armies. . . .
Mr. Davis, our foremost statesman, did not speak, but he was upon the platform, and by his presence gave indorsement [sic.] to the re-cementing of the bonds of brotherhood. Tribute was paid to the dead, a loving tribute in words and flower, but the Union was over it all — was uppermost in all minds — and the day was thus made sacred to the highest purpose, and the dead were made to serve the noblest use in a text and day on which to preach peace and love, and date the final close of the war and all its bitter dissensions and contentions. Looking back through the night into the day, and recalling the men who were principal actors in the play, the tone and temper of the audience and the drift of what was said and sung can reach but the conclusion impressed upon us when yet the parade was in the thought of its projectors, that it was to be as healing upon the waters, it was to be a proper supplement of our steady march toward complete restoration, the finale of all our efforts to be reconciled to to our brothers of the both, and to do our part toward the consummation of that perfect peace for which all men have longed since that day at Appomattox, when Lee sheathed his sword and bade his troops “good-bye.” It was a great popular upheaval. It was the bursting of a great pent-up feeling of joy and happiness upon the condition of the country, the overflowing of gratitude for the blessings we enjoy of civil and religious liberty, and the determination to to give unmistakable assurances of loyalty and fealty to the Union. . . .
The Union was apparent in and over all. The battle-flags of both armies were placed side-by-side or in peaceful embrace, by request, too, of General Forrest, and the same hands draped the graves of the boys in blue and gray alike. The memory we revive of the day is this, and this its lesson. May it endure forever to animate us on each recurring anniversary, strengthening present resolution and and confirming us in our determination to labor hereafter in and for the Union, to make it more glorious and free, the first among the nations of the earth.

[This post originally appeared on Memorial Day weekend, 2012.]


Friday Night Concert (Encore) — “Rollin’ in My Sweet Baby’s Arms”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 19, 2017

“Lay ’round the shack, ’til her husband comes back. . . .”

With the Yes Ma’am String Band in (where else?) New Orleans.

I think those are sparks coming off that steel guitar at the end.



Seeking Image of U.S.S. John P. Jackson

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 17, 2017

A friend and colleague doing in-depth historical/technical research on converted ferries is seeking the owner of this image of U.S.S. John P. Jackson (sometimes given as J. P. Jackson), that sold in an online auction in 2011. Unfortunately neither the seller nor the appraiser retained records that identify the buyer. He’s trying to obtain a high-resolution copy of the image. If you know who might have it, please let me know, or have that person let me know. Assistance would be tremendously appreciated.


Good Times in the Big Easy

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 8, 2017

The other day in my post about the monument protests in New Orleans, I mentioned the “Confederate heritage folks, Three Percenter milita types, Oath Keepers, ‘Antifa’ anarcho-communists, and God only knows who else, all jostling and trying to provoke one another and get themselves on the teevee.” Now we can add to that listing (on the anti-monument side) an enormous street parade with a marching band, and on the pro-monument side, the white nationalist League of the South, Nazis and assorted klansmen. There was also some dude wearing replica Roman armor. I don’t know who he was repping.

What a nasty, nasty clown show. I wouldn’t be surprised if, after witnessing the last few days, Davis took a header off that monument on his own.


More images at

Are Confederate Flags Condemning Confederate Monuments?

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 6, 2017

The situation in New Orleans, prompted by the city’s removal of the Battle of Liberty Place monument and planned dismantling of three more dedicated to Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and P. G. T. Beauregard, continues. It’s a tinderbox, with Confederate heritage folks, Three Percenter milita types, Oath Keepers, “Antifa” anarcho-communists, and God only knows who else, all jostling and trying to provoke one another and get themselves on the teevee. As best I can tell, not many of these folks are actually from New Orleans. There has been sporadic violence, and threats made against public officials. It’s ugly, and we should all hope that whatever becomes of the monuments, no one else gets hurt.

I did find this piece interesting, from the website/blog The Hayride, that challenges the central tactic of “heritage defense,” namely “flagging.”

Neither side is particularly angelic, either with respect to the monument fight or the Sterling matter. [Alton Sterlng was an African American man killed by police in Baton Rouge in July 2016; the monument protests in New Orleans and Baton Rouge coincided with protests in the latter city over the the announcement that the U.S. Department of Justice would not file charges against the officers involved.] Last night the preservationists who could easily have found themselves at an Alamo-style disadvantage didn’t do themselves too many favors; while they weren’t the aggressors in the hostilities that took place at the Jefferson Davis monument, brandishing a bunch of confederate [sic.] flags to go with Mississippi and Alabama accents as they did was stupid. The persuasive case for preserving the statues to Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee isn’t made with a confederate flag, as those three figures offered more than just four years of rebellion against the Lincoln administration. Davis, Beauregard and Lee are figures of American history, and as such the people resisting the bowdlerization of their statues ought to have been flying American flags.

Lee and Beauregard, after all, signed loyalty oaths to the union after the war in 1865 – though Davis never did. Beauregard’s was especially eloquent…

“In taking up arms during the late struggle (after my native state, Louisiana, had seceded) I believed, in good faith, that I was defending the constitutional rights of the South against the encroachments of the North. Having appealed to the arbitration of the Sword, which has gone against us, I accept the decision as settling finally the question of secession & slavery – & I offer now my allegiance to the Government of the United States, which I promise, truly and faithfully, to serve & uphold hereafter, against all external or internal foes.”

One of the stupid things said by New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu during this controversy was that the monuments he’s trying to take down are an “aberration” or a “denial” of history, since the Confederacy only lasted for four years. But Davis had been a U.S. Senator before the secession in 1861. Lee and Beauregard were heroes in the Mexican-American War. Lee’s efforts at bringing the South back into the union were lauded on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line following the war, which was the reason Lee Circle was so celebrated when it was constructed in 1878 (and the statue was crafted in New York, of all places). Beauregard played a substantial role in the post-war history of New Orleans, not the least of which was his having designed what ultimately became the city’s streetcars. Their influence on the culture of New Orleans and the South greatly transcends the four years between 1861 and 1865. But the people waving confederate flags around are poisoning the case that those historical monuments represent more than mere slavery.

And what we do not need is a bunch of confederate flag-waving out-of-towners coming up to Baton Rouge and goading the Alton Sterling protest crowd into a rumble.

This piece really underscores something that I’ve long had a sense of, but often had difficulty articulating — when people are (rightly or wrongly) put off by Confederate iconography, you’re not going to win them over by flashing more and bigger Confederate flags in their faces. When heritage groups do that (“pepper Danville with flags,” etc.) they’re essentially conceding defeat on the issue they’re supposedly trying to reverse. It’s defiance, sure, but it also almost always results in the targeted organization or institution — the VMFA, Lexington, Danville, and now New Orleans — digging in its own heels. Why on Earth do heritage folks assume that they’re the only ones who can display resolve and intransigence in the face of adversity?

What’s most interesting to me about this argument is that it’s coming from the right of the political spectrum, not the left — The Hayride is VERY conservative, a sort cayenne pepper-flavored local alternative to Breitbart. When you lose those guys, seems to me, it’s really time to re-think your tactics.


h/t RBLee

Civil War Books & Authors’ Review of Locomotives

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 4, 2017

Tyson Ten Wheeler Combined with Bands 720

Over at Civil War Books and Authors, Andrew Wagenhoffer gives a solid review to Dave Bright’s Locomotives Up the Turnpike:

About half the narrative is devoted to Bright’s meticulously reconstructed account of the Haul. In addition to being both a testament to still heavily discounted Confederate engineering prowess and the literature’s first truly comprehensive and primary source based history of the event, the book very effectively counters the many naysayers past and present. Contrary to common belief, abundant evidence that the event truly happened exists in the archives, and Bright was able to compile hundreds of these primary source documents as the backbone of his study. The mental image of teams of men and horses dragging enormously heavy locomotives down primitive roads probably dominates the thinking of the doubters, but the truth of the matter is that much of the engine and rolling stock was either wholly or partially burned prior to the removal operation, and the locomotives were significantly dismantled (as an example, wooden engine trucks were often substituted for the metal trucks to lower the weight) before being moved. The processing, organization, and routes of these equipment convoys are detailed in the text. . .

The book is abundantly illustrated with photographs, original maps, and color artwork. For the benefit of the reader, a vast number of tables organize data of all kinds. In the appendix section, one can find among other things an effective summary rebuttal of the Haul’s detractors, full ‘biographies’ of the locomotives saved through the Haul, and rosters of the hundreds of men (and a few women) employed by Sharp during his various postings and operations in Virginia and the Carolinas.

On several levels, Locomotives Up the Turnpike is a significant contribution to the railroad history of the Confederacy. Its unique and exhaustive documentation of the famous Haul means that other authors finally have a proper source to refer to in their own work, and the question of whether the event actually occurred or not seems more than convincingly answered. Bright’s study also extends proper recognition to the architect of the Haul, while in the process bringing to light Captain Sharp’s other equally important services to the Confederate war effort. Finally, the book offers useful accounts of how some of the many logistical challenges of the Confederacy’s Atlantic railroad network were addressed by military, state, and Richmond authorities. Recommended.

Go check it out, y’all.