Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mobile Confederate Sights - Ft.Charlotte (Conde') and Battle House

Always enjoy visiting Mobile and taking the opportunity to walk around the downtown historic area where there are interesting sites at every turn.  This summer while staying at the beautiful historic Battlehouse hotel, I looked around that property a little and also walked over to the waterfront where the cruise ship terminal is located across from the shipyard where the next generation US Navy destroyers are being constructed.  Awesome stealth warships.  The Battlehouse hotel has a ballroom with tapestries which include depictions of an antbellum street scene with women in hoop skirts and another depicting the Confederate submarine Hunley which was constructed in Mobile before being shipped overland to Charleston.  There at the cruise terminal is a maritime museum next door to the convention center.  The architecture is beautiful and there are parks fronting the water.  Across the bustling thoroughfare is an historical neighborhood adjacent to the restored section of Fort Charlotte where the Spanish (allies to the colonists) laid siege to and captured the British forces defending Mobile Bay during the Revolutionary War in 1780.  Close by the fort is the beautiful restored antebellum Conde Charlotte House and Museum.  This home was constructed around 1822-1824.  The neighborhood surrounding this museum which has other antebellum structures is being restored including a wonderful boutique hotel and townhomes.  My last stop on my walking tour took me to a city park just to the west of the Battlehouse along Dauphin Street.  There in the southeast corner of the park under the moss-draped oaks is an unassuming monument constructed of limestone blocks with a plaque commemorating the centennial of the Battle for Mobile Bay where Confederate and Federal ironclads clashed in a fierce naval battle in 1864.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Prattville Dragoons September 2016 Camp Meeting

The Dragoons, SCV Camp 1524 held their camp meeting on Thursday September 8th with Commander Waldo presenting a power point program on the foundations of the SCV and the activities of our camp. A very special visitor, Brigade Commander Butch Godwin from Selma’s Christopher C. Pegues Camp commended the camp on our community service projects and explained the Division’s major emphasis on passing a monument protection bill in the 2017 regular session of the legislature. The Division has a detailed plan and it involves each and every member of the Division to voice their support to their elected representatives.  Butch also presented three Division and National SCV awards to camp members Tyrone Crowley, Stuart Waldo and Larry Spears. 

Commander Waldo had an excellent power point presentation that provides the background of what the SCV is including excerpts from our constitution and further shows the initiatives Camp 1524 has undertaken to advance the Cause and get involved in our community. This is a great educational tool for prospective or new members. It shows the basics of our organization and what we stand for. The presenntation included photos of our camp participating in parades, festivals and community service projects. Stuart distributed some copies of the program to the newest members in attendance.   

Thanks to all who brought non perishable items to the meeting for later donation to a local food bank. These food items will be collected at our next meetings and other events until November when the camp will present the donation to a local charitable food bank.   

Among the announcement was that for the Dragoons' second annual Fall Muster scheduled for Saturday 15 October at the same location we had last year in Autaugaville. We will have a clay shoot, a bar b que meal and more enjoyable things to do so make your plans to attend. The Muster is in addition to our regular meeting on Thursday October 13th.  November will also bring the Tallassee reenactment and in December is the Dragoons' annual Christmas Social. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Greenville MS Confederate Sights - Downtown Library, Shelby Foote

This summer we traveled to Greenville MS again.  Greenville MS is situated on the west side of the state on the Mississippi River.  Greenville is close to Yazoo MS where Confederate ironclads were built during the War for Southern Independence.  On previous visits (see other blog posts here), the Confederate monument and veteran's graves were seen.  We stayed at the historic Greenville Inn and Suites downtown directly on the riverfront.  This renovated casino hotel was formerly a bank and the breakfast area is actually served in an old vault.  This trip we visited the Greenville city public library where they had a display recognizing famous local authors.  Among these was Shelby Foote who wrote his acclaimed three volume Pulitzer Prize nominated "The Civil War" over a twenty year period.  Foote was born in Greenville in 1918 and wrote many of his works in this city starting in high school. Foote is now living in Memphis TN.
Greenville Inn and Suites

Foote Exhibit at Greenville Public Library

Sunday, September 18, 2016

“Battle Hymn of the Republic” Refuted

The “Battle Hymn of the Republic” occupies a prominent position not only within the program of nearly every nationalistic celebration, but also has become a part of many Christian services. Admittedly, the anthem sounds good, but it is far from being a “hymn” in the traditional sense of the word. Many Christians understand its stirring words to provide an image of a victorious Church, but that is just not so! The connotations of a spiritualized patriotism which have endeared it to many, result from a mistaken and cursory reading of the song. By definition, a hymn is a song which incorporates theological truth into its text. Wonderful examples of Christian hymns are “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and “How Firm a Foundation.” But despite its author’s use of biblical phrasing, the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” is not about Christ “marching” against sin and the Church being “victorious” over evil. The theological truths which it expresses are anti-Christian and anti-biblical, thus it should never be sung by a Christian congregation. The “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was written in the fall of 1861. While in Washington, D.C. with her husband, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe watched troops marching off to war singing “John Brown’s Body.”She determined to write a more inspiring war song to what was a good melody. First published in the Atlantic Monthly, she received five dollars for her literary effort. Born into a prominent New York City family, Julia Ward was raised in a conservative, Christian home. As a young woman she rebelled against her parents’ strong Calvinism and ultimately married the Boston reformer, Dr. Samuel G. Howe. She adopted the tenants of Transcendentalism, then Unitarianism, and it was in that light that the “Battle Hymn” was written. The Transcendentalists became the core of the radical abolitionist movement. Dr. Howe, as well as their Boston pastor, the Reverend Theodore Parker were two members of the “Secret Six” who financed and armed the anti-slavery terrorist John Brown. After his murderous rampage in Kansas and at Harper’s Ferry, Mrs. Howe lamented, “John Brown’s death will be holy and glorious. John Brown will glorify the gallows like Jesus glorified the cross.” The “Battle Hymn of the Republic” can only be understood within the framework of the Transcendentalist-Unitarian creed. The first verse reads: Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword. His truth is marching on. Mrs. Howe applied the apocalyptic judgment of the Revelation (14:17-20 & 19:15) to the Confederate nation. She pictured the Union army not only as that instrument which would cause Southern blood to flow out upon the earth, but also the Union army as the very expression of His Word (sword) itself. The Transcendentalist-Unitarians believed that the evil in man could be rooted out by governmental action. The South was evil and was thus deserving of judgment of the most extreme nature—its own Armageddon. The second verse follows the same theme by presenting the Union army as the abode of their vengeful God. I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps; They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps; I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps. His day is marching on. The third verse is so contrary of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that many hymnals leave it out altogether. I have read the fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel. As ye deal with My contempters, so with you My grace shall deal; Let the hero born of woman crush the serpent with his heel. Since God is marching on. Mrs. Howe proclaimed a gospel of judgment pictured by rows of affixed bayonets. Taking God’s promise of deliverance from Genesis 3:15, she applied it not to Christ, but to the Union soldier who would receive God’s grace by killing Southerners. This was certainly a different gospel; the kind of which the Apostle Paul said, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8) Verse four returns to the prose of the Apocalypse with trumpet and judgment seat imagery: He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never sound retreat; He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat. O be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet! Our God is marching on. The problem again is that civil warfare was the instrument being promoted for determining the hearts of men. A man’s positive response to the call for enlistment in the Union army was the action which would reveal their standing before God. The fifth and final verse gives the ultimate expression of the warped and anti-biblical theology which possessed the radical abolitionists. In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea, With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me. As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, While God is marching on. To Julia Ward Howe the work of Christ was incomplete. It was up to men through civil government to bring about a utopian society. She was quoted in her biography, “Not until the Civil War did I officially join the Unitarian church and accept the fact the Christ was merely a great teacher with no higher claim to preeminence in wisdom, goodness, and power than any other man.” (emphasis mine) The “Battle Hymn” theme has nothing to do with Christianity or God. It is a political-patriotic song about the destruction of the South, written in religious terminology. It is a clever product. Howe deliberately created the idea that the North was doing God’s work. It paints a picture of a vengeful God destroying His enemies—the South, and elevating the North’s cause to that of a “holy war.” In doing so, Howe portrayed the South and its people as evil and the enemy of God. Outrageous, but it worked. As a Unitarian, Julia Ward Howe believed the Unitarian doctrine that man is characteristically good and he can redeem himself by his own merits without any help from a saviour. She rejected basic biblical truths such as a literal hell—“I threw away, once and forever, the thought of the terrible hell which appears to me impossible.” Mrs. Howe also refuted the exclusive claim of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) by saying, “Having rejected the exclusive doctrine that made Christianity and special forms of it the only way of spiritual redemption, I now accept the belief that not only Christians but all human beings, no matter what their religion, are capable of redemption. Christianity was but one of God’s plans for bringing all of humanity to a state of ultimate perfection.” Our challenge is to bring a proper understanding of the nature of this battle anthem to the leadership of the Christian church. No Christian church would intentionally sing a song of praise to Satan’s doctrines, nor would any pastor or elder lead their flock into rebellion against true biblical doctrine. Yet by ignorance, is has been done on a regular basis in the American church. The “Battle Hymn of the Republic” is apostasy. It promotes hatred and vengeful destruction. It has no place in a worship service.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Yankee's Letter to His Wife Regarding the Looting and Pillaging by the Union Troops during Sherman's March


Here is a letter by a Yankee lieutenant to his wife while camped near Camden, SC on February 26, 1865. This letter is addressed to Mrs. Thomas J. Myers, Boston, Mass.

My Dear Wife,...

I have no time for particulars. We have had a glorious time in this State. Unrestricted license to burn and plunder was the order of the day. The chivalry have been stripped of most of their valuables. Gold watches, silver pitchers, cups, spoons, forks, and so forth are as common in camp as blackberries. The terms of plunder are as follows: the valuables procured are estimated by companies. Each company is required to exhibit the result of its operations at any given place. One fifth and first choice falls to the commander in chief and staff; one fifth to corps commander and staff; one fifth to field officers; and two fifths to the company.

Officers are not allowed to join in these expeditions unless disguised as privates. One of our corps commanders borrowed a rough suit of clothes from one of my men and was successful in his place. He got a large quantity of silver among other things, an old milk pitcher, and a very fine watch from a Mr. DeSaussure of this place. DeSaussure is one of the first families of South Carolina and was made to fork out liberally.

Officers over the rank of captain are not made to put their plunder in the estimate for general distribution. This is very unfair and for that reason in order to protect themselves the subordinate officers and privates keep everything back that they can carry about their persons such as rings earrings, breastpins, and so forth; of which, if I live to get home, I have a quart - I am not joking - I have at least a quart of jewelry for you and the girls and some No. 1 diamond pins and rings among them.

General Sherman has gold and silver enough to start a bank. His share in gold watches and chains alone at Columbia was two hundred and seventy five. But, I said I could not go into particulars. All the general officers and many besides have valuables of every description down to ladies pocket handkerchiefs. I have my share of them too. We took gold and silver enough from the d_ _ _ _ d rebels to have redeemed their infernal currency twice over. I wish all the jewelry this army has could be carried to the Old Bay State. It would deck her out in glorious style, but alas, it will be scattered all over the North and Middle States.

The d_ _ _ _d _iggers, as a general thing, preferred to stay at home particularly after they found out that we wanted only the able bodied men and to tell the truth the youngest and best looking women. Sometimes we took them off by way of repaying influential Secessionists. But, a part of these we managed to lose sometimes in crossing rivers - sometimes in other ways.

I shall write you again from Wilmington, Goldsboro, or some other place in North Carolina. The order to march has arrived and I must close hurriedly. Love to grandmother and Aunt Charlotte. Take care of yourself and the children. Don’t show this letter outside of the family.

Your affectionate husband Thomas J. Myers, Lieutenant

PS: I will send this by flag of truce to be mailed, unless I have an opportunity of sending it to Hilton Head. Tell Lottie I am saving a pearl bracelet and earrings for her. But, Lambert got the necklace and breastpin from the same set. I am trying to trade him out of them. These were taken from the Misses Jamison, daughters of the President of the South Carolina Secession Convention. We found these on our trip through Georgia. TJM”

Source: “Butler and his Cavalry in the War of Secession, 1861-1865” by Ulysses Robert Brooks, published in 1909.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Forgotten History of the Confederate Flag

The Forgotten History of the Confederate Flag

The Confederate battle flag is, as John Coski of the Museum of the Confederacy titled his book on the subject, “America’s most embattled emblem.” Recent polls show that Americans are split down the middle on the flag: half view it as a symbol of heritage, half as a symbol of hatred, and an overwhelming majority are against tearing it down from public places. For all the outraged opinions, however, the true story of the Confederate flag – how it came to be and what it meant to those who made it and bore it – does not fit the narrative.

The first “Confederate” flags appeared in South Carolina in the months leading up to her secession convention. These early flags typically featured the Carolinian palmetto and crescent moon on blue or white fields. One such flag, which appeared in Columbia as the convention assembled, included an open Bible with the words, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble; therefore we will not fear; though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the sea. The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.” When the convention relocated to Charleston, a banner featuring John C. Calhoun holding the broken tablets of “Truth, Justice, and the Constitution,” with the caption, “Behold Its Fate,” hung just down the street from the hall. Another Charleston banner depicted all the seals of the Southern States rising above a pile of the Northern States’ seals, with the caption, “Built From The Ruins.” When South Carolina declared her independence from the Union, a new flag for the newly sovereign commonwealth was needed. TheCharleston Mercury described one of these sovereignty flags: “The flag is a red field, expressive of defiance, traversed by the blue cross of Carolina, with the lone star at the intersection. The inner and upper quarter of the field bears the word ‘ready’ surmounted by the palmetto.” The Charleston Daily Courier described another: “When the first gun, ‘Old Secession,’ announced the secession of the State, they flung to the breeze the beautiful flag which now floats over their gymnasium. It is a red field, quartered with a blue cross on which is a lone star (others will be added as States come into the Southern Constellation). On the upper quarter is the Palmetto, on the lower a savage-looking tiger head.” The flag which South Carolina officially adopted, however, was a blue field with a white palmetto in the centre and a white crescent in the upper-left corner, just like South Carolina’s flag to this day.

As more States seceded from the Union, sovereignty flags began cropping up everywhere. At the Alabama Secession Convention, the flag which hung in the hall featured lady liberty dressed in red holding a sword and shield with the caption, “Independent Now and Forever.” Most States’ sovereignty flags, however, were modeled after the U.S. flag, the “Stars and Stripes,” as Southerners believed that they were the ones truly loyal to the foundational principles of American freedom. Indeed, just as the Montgomery Convention, where the seceded States met to unite in a new Southern Confederacy, adopted a Constitution which was modeled after the U.S. Constitution – though it more strictly limited the power of the central government – it also adopted a national flag which was similar to the Stars and Stripes, “the Stars and Bars.” The Stars and Bars was a flag of two red stripes, a centre white stripe, and a blue field with a circle of stars (one for each Confederate State). Letitia Tyler, the granddaughter of U.S. President John Tyler (now a Confederate Congressman) was given the honour of raising the flag for the first time. Harry Macarthy, the author of “The Bonnie Blue Flag,” composed “The Origin of the Stars and Bars,” a song which mourned the fall of the old Union and the Stars and Stripes while cheering the rise of a new Confederacy and the Stars and Bars. The idea of a “Southern Cross,” however, stemming from South Carolina’s early sovereignty flags, which were also considered in Montgomery, remained popular with the people.

The First National Flag, or Stars and Bars

William P. Miles, Confederate Congressman from South Carolina and Chairman of the House Military Committee, was the first to envision what would eventually become the Confederate flag. Miles regarded the Stars and Stripes as a symbol of “tyranny” and believed that the Confederacy should have a new flag. He designed a red flag with a blue “saltire,” or “St. Andrew’s Cross,” lined with white stars. Red, white, and blue were  “the true republican colors,” explained Miles, respectively representing valour, purity, and truth. The saltire, according to Miles, was “significant of strength and progress.” In fact, the saltire is the oldest symbol of sovereignty in Western Civilisation, first used by the Romans in Britain to mark the limits of their territory. Miles also found the Latin Cross of the sovereignty flags to be too “ecclesiastical,” potentially offending Christians against religious imagery in war as well as alienating the Confederacy’s sizable Jewish population; the saltire, by contrast, was “heraldric.” The House Military Committee rejected Miles’ Southern Cross as a Confederate battle flag, but at the Battle of First Manassas, it became clear that the Stars and Bars, when draped, was easily mistaken for the Stars and Stripes. This confusion led to some embarrassing incidents of friendly fire and nearly cost the Confederates the victory. As a result, the military became aware of the need for a new battle flag.

William P. Miles

General P.G.T. Beauregard liked Miles’ idea of a Southern Cross for the Confederate battle flag, and convinced his superior, General Joseph E. Johnston, to avoid the bureaucracy of the War Department and create new battle flags themselves. Johnston ordered his chief quartermaster, Maj. William L. Cabell, to deliver 120 battle flags for each regiment. “My recollection is that it was an army affair,” Johnston explained after the war. “and when questioned on the subject, I have always said so.”

Beauregard and Johnston

Cabell put his aide, Lt. Colin McRae Selph, an officer familiar with the environs of Northern Virginia, in charge of the new flags. After purchasing the red, white, and blue silk, Lt. Selph approached Mary Henry Lyon Jones, probably having met her acquaintance in one of Richmond’s ladies’ hospitals, established to tend to wounded Federals and Confederates. Mary sewed a prototype of the battle flag, which General Johnston promptly approved. Selph returned to Mary and requested her to rally all the ladies she knew to sew the needed 120 flags.
In addition to Mary, Lt. Selph also approached the Cary girls, who were all something of local celebrities. Constance Fairfax Cary had taken refuge in the Confederate camp after her ancestral estate was chopped down for firewood by the invading Federals. There, Constance met her cousins, Hetty and Jennie Cary, forced to flee from Baltimore when it fell under Federal controul. In fact, their cousin, the editor of the Baltimore Sun and grandson of the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was arrested for criticising Abraham Lincoln. In turn, Jennie set the words of “Maryland, My Maryland,” the pro-Confederate ballad which is now the State anthem, to the tune of “O, Tannenbaum,” and Jennie sang the song from her balcony in the presence of Federal troops. The Cary girls were daughters of the vaunted “First Families of Virginia” – Constance descended from the ninth Lord Fairfax and Hetty and Jennie from the Jeffersons and the Randolphs. Hetty and Jennie were given the honour of drilling the troops and even formed “the Cary Invincibles,” a group of the social elite in the Confederate army.

Hetty Cary on the Lower Stair

The ladies of Richmond, organised mainly by churches, set to work sewing immediately. Once the flags were complete, Lt. Selph took them to chemists and artists to have the stars painted. Selph’s orders were to keep the project confidential, but as one lady remarked, “How could General Johnston expect four or five hundred female tongues to be silent on the subject?”
After a month of sewing, the ladies completed the battle flags. On 28 November 1861, the new flags were unveiled before the Confederate army. One by one, General Johnston and General Beauregard presented a battle flag to the colonel of each regiment, who in turn presented the flag to his color guard. Thomas Jordan, Adjutant General of the First Corps, made the following announcement:
Soldiers: Your mothers, your wives, and your sisters have made it. Consecrated by their hands, it must lead you to substantial victory, and the complete triumph of our cause. It can never be surrendered, save to your unspeakable dishonour and with consequences fraught with immeasurable evil. Under its untarnished folds beat back the invader, and find nationality, everlasting immunity from an atrocious despotism, and honour and renown for yourselves – or death.
The Confederate soldiers loved the ceremony. “It was,” recalled a South Carolinian, “the grandest time we have ever had.” He remembered that “the noise the men made was deafening” and that “I felt at the time that I could whip a whole brigade of the enemy myself.” A Virginian described the flag as “the prettiest one we have.”

The Ceremony at Centreville

In addition to the mass-produced flags for the Confederate regiments, the Cary girls made special flags for their favorite commanders. Hetty chose General Johnston, Jennie chose General Beauregard, and Constance chose General Earl Van Dorn. Along with her flag to Beauregard, Jennie included an admiring note:
I take the liberty of offering the accompanying banner to General Beauregard, soliciting for my handiwork the place of honour upon the battlefield near our renowned and gallant leader. I entrust to him with a fervent prayer that it may wave over victorious plains, and in full confidence that the brilliant success which has crowned his arms throughout our struggle for independence is earnest of future triumphs yet more glorious. In my own home – unhappy Baltimore – a people writhing ‘neath oppression’s heel await in agonised expectancy “the triumph-tread of the peerless Beauregard.” Will he not, then, bear this banner onward and liberate them from a thralldom worse than death?
In his reply, General Beauregard expressed his gratitude and swore that Baltimore would be hers again:
I accept with unfeigned pleasure the beautiful banner you have been kind enough to make for me, accompanied with the request that it should occupy near me the place of honour on the battlefield. It shall be borne by my personal escort; and protected by a just Providence, the sanctity of our cause, and the valour of our troops, it will lead us on from victory to victory until you shall have the proud satisfaction of waving it with your own fair hands as a signal of triumph, from the top of the Washington Monument in your own native city – Baltimore.
General Beauregard kept Jennie’s flag for the rest of his life and had it draped over his coffin at his funeral.
Constance gave her flag to one of General Van Dorn’s staff officers with a note of her own. “Will General Van Dorn honour me,” Constance asked, “by accepting a flag which I have taken great pleasure in making, and now send out with an earnest prayer that the work of my hand may hold its place near him as he goes out to a glorious struggle – and, God willing, may one day wave over the recaptured batteries of my home near the downtrodden Alexandria?” Van Dorn’s reply brimmed with chivalry:
The beautiful flag made by your hands and presented to me with the prayer that it should be borne by my side in the impending struggle for the existence of our country, is an appeal to me as a soldier as alluring as the promises of glory; but when you express the hope, in addition, that it may one day wave over the recaptured city of your nativity, your appeal becomes a supplication so beautiful and holy that I were craven-spirited indeed, not to respond to it with all the ability that God has given me. Be assured, dear young lady, that it shall wave over your home if Heaven smiles upon our cause, and I live, and that there shall be written upon it by the side of your name which it now bears, “Victory, Honour, and Independence.”
In the meantime, I shall hope that you may be as happy as you, who have the soul thus to cheer the soldier on to noble deeds and to victory – should be, and that the flowers want to blossom by your window, may bloom as sweetly for you next May, as they ever did, to welcome you home again.
According to Constance, General Van Dorn’s staff officer told her that when he received her flag, he and his men all drew their swords and swore that they would honour her request, like knights of old.

Earl Van Dorn

The true meaning of the Confederate battle flag is not in the various ways which it has been abused over the years. Indeed, the Confederate flag is as innocent of its abuses as are other symbols which have been used for evil, including the U.S. flag, the Cross, and perhaps even the Crescent. The true meaning of the Confederate flag is in the women who made it and the men who bore it into battle. To them, the flag was not a symbol of racial hatred, but of independence and honour. To the descendants of those men and women, that is what it still means and will always mean.