Monday, January 26, 2015

Wow, What an Event - the AL Division Robert E. Lee Commemorative Program

The Alabama Division Sons of Confederate Veterans held their annual Robert E. Lee Day birthday commemorative program on Saturday January 24th at the Alabama State Archives in downtown Montgomery. It was a fabulous program, called perhaps the best ever by past Prattville Dragoons camp Commander Larry Spears.   The program was held mostly indoors, inside the Archives, but the beautiful clear crisp January morning apparently brought out a great crowd.  The formal program was conducted in the Archives auditorium and it was standing room only, filled by a crowd numbering probably 300.  An adjacent overspill room was set up which provided a closed circuit audio video display of the program on a large movie screen where another 50-60 people watched the program.  The Dragoons were well represented with eight members in attendance including Brigade Commander David Brantley, Commander Stuart Waldo, Communications Officer Larry Spears, 1st Lt Harold Grooms, Chaplain Tom Snowden, Quartermaster Bill Myrick, Danny Smyth and Jeff Jones.

The event was kicked off with songs by the Tallassee Camp 1921 String Band.  The colors were posted by a reenactment unit and Dr. Charles Baker, Division Chaplain provided an invocation.  AL Division Commander Gary Carlyle welcomed everyone including the Presidents of the Alabama United Daughters of the Confederacy, Order of the Confederate Rose and Children of the Confederacy.  Dr. John Killian of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars gave a rousing short speech proclaiming the superior moral foundation our Southern heritage imparts to us, our laudable Confederate forebears and the relevance today of these fundamental beliefs and ideals.  Commander Carlyle made a presentation of a check for $5200 from the SCV to Bob Bradley, Chief Curator of the Archives for the historical flag conservation.

Virginia Davis gave an incredible reenactment of Mrs. Mary Custis Lee, wife of R.E. Lee including a recollection of his upbringing and early military career.  She posed her address as of the year 1871 so she included an account of Lee's decision to resign his US Army commission and assume command of the Army of Northern Virginia but, as she spent most of the War in Richmond, she couldn't provide much insight into Lee's campaigns and life in the camps of the ANV. After the War, Lee assumed the Presidency of Washington College and expanded the university's curriculum and implemented the same tradition he had as Commander at West Point, inviting each student to his residence so that he and Mary could get to know each student.

After the performance of Mrs. Mary Custis Lee, the Camp 1921 String Band led everyone in Dixie and Dr. Baker closed the program with a Benediction.  Following, many walked across the state capitol grounds to the Confederate monument where reenactors gave a musket salute and others followed Bob Bradley on a tour of the flag conservation room.  Bob gave amazing details on the methods of flag preservation and the history of the many flags in the Archives.  A thoroughly enjoyable morning commemorating one of the great Americans in our history and honoring our Southern ancestors and heritage with fellow compatriots.
Dragoons at the Alabama State Archives for the Robert E. Lee Day Program

Danny Smyth, Bill Myrick, and Jeff Jones (L-R)

Commander Carlyle with Bob Bradley

Lt Jimmy Hill Listens to Bob Bradley in the Flag Conservation Room

Virginia Davis as Mrs. Mary Custis Lee

Dr, Killian of the MOSB

Attendees Watch the Program from the Overflow Room

Posting of the Colors in the Auditorium

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Commemorating Robert E. Lee's Birthday, Address to the Army of Northern Virginia

The following was offered by Dragoon's Communication Larry Spears on Lee's Birthday, January 19th.

Robert Edward Lee was born on this date in 1807. I do not need to tell you of his strength of character, his strong Christian beliefs, his devotion to duty, his love for his family and the South, nor his military accomplishments. You know them as well as any other good Southerner who appreciates the Confederacy and the South. However I do recommend his biography by Douglas Southall Freeman, simply entitled “LEE”, which is in 4 volumes but there is an abridged version in 1 volume that is available (follow this link ).

One of his outstanding quotes, made to one of his sons, is, "Duty is the sublimest word in the English language. Do your duty in all things. You can never do more; you should never wish to do less.”  A good guide for our young men of today.

After meeting General Grant at Appomattox (which he said he would rather die a thousand deaths than do), he returned to his men and with his staff wrote General Order # 9. Read these words as if you were a soldier in the Army of Northern Virginia, gentlemen, and notice that he said “compelled to yield”. He did not say “surrender”. 

After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.

I need not tell the survivors of so many hard-fought battles who have remained steadfast to the last that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them; but feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that would have attended the continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen. By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged.
You may take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection. With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration of myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.

God Bless the South and thank you God for Robert Edward Lee.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lee-Jackson Banquet in Montgomery

The Prattville Dragoons, SCV Camp 1524, was well represented Friday night, January 16 at the Henry Semple Camp’s Lee/ Jackson Banquet held at the Dalraida Methodist Church.  Attendees included Chaplain Tom Snowden, Communications Officer Larry Spears, 1st Lt Harold Grooms, Color Sgt Brent Jenks and his father George, Treasurer Billy Leverette, Karl Wade, and Tyrone Crowley.  Compatriot Crowley read the poem “Lee at Jacksonville" which he had previously presented to at the Dragoon's January camp meeting, Mrs Anne Tidmore, Regent of the First White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery made a presentation about the First White House leading up to Lee's Birthday celebration there on the 18th. Good food including a steak dinner and wonderful Confederate fellowship were in abundant supply. 
Mrs. Tidmore of the First White House of the Confederacy
Dragoons at the Lee-Jackson Banquet

Monday, January 19, 2015

Indian Hills Cemetery Clean-up Day for January 2015

The Prattville Dragoons renewed their efforts of the continuing clean up of Indian Hills cemetery on Saturday January 10th. A very special thanks to all who contributed their time and efforts for this worthy project and furthering the Cause including Benny Harris who is leading the project for the camp, Stuart Waldo, Harold Grooms,Bill Branch, Allen Herrod, Tom Crowley, Tyrone Crowley, Skip Ward and Paul Whaley.  Benny wanted to concentrate on the southwest corner of the cemetery and great progress was made clearing the scrub and underbrush on this corner which fronts Autauga County Road 86.  The day was cold with highs only in the mid-40s and the morning temperature was in the 20s.  But the sun shone bright, the wind stayed down and Benny started a nice brush/debris fire which warmed everyone up. The plans call for three more workdays before a rededication the last of April.  Much work has been done but much work remains on this great camp and community initiative. 
Skip and Allen After a Good Day's Work

Part of the Crew for the Indian Hills Cemetery Workday

Paul Whaley Deep in the Underbrush

Stalwarts - Harold Foreground, Tom and Benny at the Fire

Sunday, January 18, 2015

First White House in Montgomery Celebrates Robert E. Lee's Birthday

Ms Anne Tidmore, Regent of the First White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery AL sent the following invitation to all Confederate compatriots.

You are cordially invited to attend
The First White House of the Confederacy Annual
Robert E. Lee Birthday Party

Monday, January 19, at 11:00 at the First White House
Guest speaker will be  Judge Mark Anderson

Please join us as we honor gallant Confederate General and Statesman,   General Robert E. Lee.
Birthday cake will be served.

The public is invited.

Please note:
The First White House is now OPEN ON SATURDAYS FROM 9-4 & weekdays from 8-4:30.

ON FACEBOOK, OUR BLOG AND OUR WEBSITE The First White House Of The Confederacy

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Prattville Dragoons Camp Meeting for January 2014

Camp 1524 held their regularly scheduled  monthly meeting on Thursday January 8th at the Shoneys on Cobbs Ford Road.  Our speaker, Henry Howard, was ill and undergoing treatment and could not make his anticipated presentation on Civil War Medicine and the Dragoons wish Henry a full and speedy recovery and hope to schedule him at a later date.

Chaplain Snowden opened the meeting with an invocation and closed the meeting with a benediction which included a prayer for Henry specifically.  Color Sgt Brent Jenks led everyone assembled in pledges to the US, Alabama state and Confederate Battle flags.  Commander Waldo read the SCV Charge and closing at the end of the meeting and also provided the upcoming events (which you can find on another blogpost here) and news.  

Waldo and Snowden also administered the swearing in of our newest  member, Tom Crowley, brother of Tyrone, former camp communication officer. Tom has been a stalwart worker on the Indian Hills Cemetery project and will be a fine addition to our camp.

During the portion regarding upcoming events, Benny Harris provided the latest information about the cleanup and renovation work at Indian Hills including plans to repair the broken headstones and plans for a rededication in April.  

Tyrone Crowley filled in most capably for our scheduled speaker reciting a poem written in 2007 about Robert E. Lee on the bicentennial of his birth recounting a visit Lee made to the town of Jacksonville FL after the War for Southern Independence in the last years of his life.  Lee took the trip south in the hopes of improving his health but he was met by admiring throngs everywhere he went, crowds of all ages hoping to catch a glimpse of this legend in grey.  Lee took the steamer Nick King from Savannah to Jacksonville and greeted well wishers in the salon of the ship.  But he was asked to go out on the deck to recognize the crowds lining the the banks of the port and when he did, the crowd fell into a reverent silence. The poem recalls this scene.  Tyrone did a masterful job with the poem as usual.  
Commander Waldo Presenting SCV Certificate to New Member Tom Crowley

Tyrone Crowley Presenting Poem of Robert E. Lee

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Union Army Wages a Brutal Campaign of Total War on the Southern Populace

An article received from Tommy Rhodes of the Ft. Blakeley Camp 1864, an article "The Hard Hand of War" by Kirkpatrick Sale of the Abbeville Institute dated 1/5/2015.  The Abbeville Institute provides an on-line resource of a wealth of information regarding the Confederacy and her struggle for independence.

The “Hard Hand of War”

The kind of military onslaught that Union Gen. William Sherman unleashed on the South, beginning with his infamous conquest of Atlanta and subsequent “March to the Sea,” followed by his capture of Savannah 150 years ago this month, came to be called, in the 20th century, “total war.”

That meant a war waged with full military mobilization not only against the enemy army but upon civilians in enemy territory and their property, stores and factories, with murder, looting, arson and assault from which neither women, children, the elderly or infirm were spared. It had never been seen before in the history of civilization, and it set a precedent for the all-out slaughters of the two world wars of the next century.

It didn’t happen by accident. Its germs were sown as early as March 1863, just three months after the Emancipation Proclamation, as the reason for the war for the first time gradually became the elimination of slavery and the military command, just as much as the troops on the ground, began to adopt a certain moral fervor, some of them with an outright John-Brown-like zealotry. In a letter to Gen. Ulysses Grant on March 31, General-in-Chief Henry Halleck said:

“The character of the war has very much changed. … There is now no possible hope of reconciliation with the rebels. … There can be no peace but that which is forced by the sword. We must conquer the rebels.”
>Grant replied: “Rebellion has assumed that shape now that it can only terminate by the complete subjugation of the South. It is our duty to weaken the enemy, by destroying their means of subsistence, withdrawing their means of cultivating the fields, and in every other way possible.”

Total war. Something very like what is now known as genocide.

Thus it was for Grant in Vicksburg, Sheridan in Virginia, and Sherman in Jackson (“The land is devastated for 30 miles around”) and Meridian (“no longer exists”). Then, in August, into Georgia (“I can make Georgia howl,” Sherman wrote), and finally Atlanta. He defeated a small Confederate force there, ordered the evacuation of the city, and burned most of it to the ground, leaving only 400 of some 4,000 private residences standing.

A month to recoup, then the march from Atlanta (“smoldering and in ruins,” Sherman said) across Georgia to Savannah. A march of plunder and pillage, 60,000 Union soldiers on a rampage for two months, looting and burning homes, shops and warehouses, setting fires across the plantations that grew to 60 miles wide at some points, confiscating all foodstuffs for Union use, leaving white and black near starvation. Sherman estimated that his army did $100 million worth of damage to the countryside (more than $1.5 billion today), destroying 300 miles of railroad, capturing or killing livestock, and leaving most of the state’s population of a million, black and white, destitute. “We are not only fighting armies,” Sherman said, “but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war.”

Savannah fell in December, practically without resistance: “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift,” Sherman wired Lincoln, “the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.” Instead of burning down his gift, he boarded his men for about a month and resupplied them from the Union ships that had blockaded the Savannah harbor and from empty plantations in the area. Sherman wrote to Halleck: “The truth is the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreck vengeance upon South Carolina,” because of course it was the lead secessionist state.

The Carolina campaign, the march from the sea, was even fiercer than the Georgia one. A reporter for a Northern newspaper wrote: “As for wholesale burning, pillage, devastation, committed in South Carolina, magnify all I have said of Georgia fifty-fold, and then throw in an occasional murder.” There was little resistance, and the ruination was total: “The destruction of houses, barns, mills, etc. was almost universal,” a Union captain wrote, and a Sherman aide testified that “a majority of the Cities, towns, villages, and country houses have been burnt to the ground.” A Union major concluded, “Aside from the destruction of military things, there were destructions overwhelming … Day by day our legions of armed men surged over the land, over a region forty miles wide, burning everything we could not take away.”

After this fierce force swept through South Carolina, annihilating the hated center of Columbia in mid-February along the way (soldiers “infuriated, cursing, screaming, exulting in their work …the whole town was wrapped in one huge blaze”), it moved on to Florence on March 3 on its way north. A Union officer wrote, “The sufferings which the people here will have to undergo will be most intense. We have left on the wide strip of country we have passed over no provisions which will go any distance in supporting the people.”

On that same day, 350 miles north, Abraham Lincoln addressed a crowd from the steps of the Capitol after his second inauguration. He promised to continue the war “with malice toward none; with charity for all.”

With malice toward none.