Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Prattville Dragoons, SCV Camp 1524

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season. 

The wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote this article describing how the Davis family spent the Christmas of 1864 in the Confederate White House. It was published in The New York World, December 13, 1896 and has since been reprinted often. 

...Rice, flour, molasses and tiny pieces of meat, most of them sent to the President's wife anonymously to be distributed to the poor, had all be weighed and issued, and the playtime of the family began, but like a clap of thunder out of a clear sky came the information that the orphans at the Episcopalian home had been promised a Christmas tree and the toys, candy and cakes must be provided, as well as one pretty prize for the most orderly girl among the orphans. The kind-hearted confectioner was interviewed by our committee of managers, and he promised a certain amount of his simpler kinds of candy, which he sold easily a dollar and a half a pound, but he drew the line at cornucopias to hold it, or sugared fruits to hang on the tree, and all the other vestiges of Christmas creations which had lain on his hands for years. The ladies dispersed in anxious squads of toy-hunters, and each one turned over the store of her children's treasures for a contribution to the orphans' tree, my little ones rushed over the great house looking up their treasure: eyeless dolls, three-legged horses, tops with the upper peg broken off, rubber tops, monkeys with all the squeak gone silent and all the ruck of children's toys that gather in a nursery closet.

Makeshift Toys for the Orphans

Some small feathered chickens and parrots which nodded their heads in obedience to a weight beneath them were furnished with new tail feathers, lambs minus much of their wool were supplied with a cotton wool substitute, rag dolls were plumped out and recovered with clean cloth, and the young ladies painted their fat faces in bright colors and furnished them with beads for eyes.

But the tug of war was how to get something with which to decorate the orphans' tree. Our man servant, Robert Brown, was much interested and offered to make the prize toy. He contemplated a "sure enough house, with four rooms." His part in the domestic service was delegated to another and he gave himself over in silence and solitude to the labors of the architect.

My sister painted mantel shelves, door panels, pictures and frames for the walls, and finished with black grates in which there blazed a roaring fire, which was pronounced marvelously realistic. We all made furniture of twigs and pasteboard, and my mother made pillows, mattresses, sheets and pillow cases for the two little bedrooms.

Christmas Eve a number of young people were invited to come and string apples and popcorn for the trees; a neighbor very deft in domestic arts had tiny candle moulds made and furnished all the candles for the tree. However the puzzle and triumph of all was the construction of a large number of cornucopias. At last someone suggested a conical block of wood, about which the drawing paper could be wound and pasted. In a little book shop a number of small, highly colored pictures cut out and ready to apply were unearthed, and our old confectioner friend, Mr. Piazzi, consented, with a broad smile, to give "all the love verses the young people wanted to roll with the candy."

A Christmas Eve Party
About twenty young men and girls gathered around small tables in one of the drawing rooms of the mansion and the cornucopias were begun. The men wrapped the squares of candy, first reading the "sentiments" printed upon them, such as "Roses are red, violets blue, sugar's sweet and so are you," "If you love me as I love you no knife can cut our love in two." The fresh young faces, wreathed in smiles, nodded attention to the reading, while with their small deft hands they gined [?] the cornucopias and pasted on the pictures. Where were the silk tops to come from? Trunks of old things were turned out and snippings of silk and even woolen of bright colors were found to close the tops, and some of the young people twisted sewing silk into cords with which to draw the bags up. The beauty of those home-made things astonished us all, for they looked quite "custom-made," but when the "sure enough house" was revealed to our longing gaze the young people clapped their approbation, while Robert, whose sense of dignity did not permit him to smile, stood the impersonation of successful artist and bowed his thanks for our approval. Then the coveted eggnog was passed around in tiny glass cups and pronounced good. Crisp home-made ginger snaps and snowy lady cake completed the refreshments of Christmas Eve. The children allowed to sit up and be noisy in their way as an indulgence took a sip of eggnog out of my cup, and the eldest boy confided to his father: "Now I just know this is Christmas." In most of the houses in Richmond these same scenes were enacted, certainly in every one of the homes of the managers of the Episcopalian Orphanage. A bowl of eggnog was sent to the servants, and a part of everything they coveted of the dainties.

At last quiet settled on the household and the older members of the family began to stuff stockings with molasses candy, red apples, an orange, small whips plaited by the family with high-colored crackers, worsted reins knitted at home, paper dolls, teetotums made of large horn bottoms and a match which could spin indefinitely, balls of worsted rags wound hard and covered with old kid gloves, a pair of pretty woolen gloves for each, either cut of cloth and embroidered on the back or knitted by some deft hand out of home-spun wool. For the President there were a pair of chamois-skin riding gauntlets exquisitely embroidered on the back with his monogram in red and white silk, made, as the giver wrote, under the guns of Fortress Monroe late at night for fear of discovery. There was a hemstitched linen handkerchief, with a little sketch in indelible ink in one corner; the children had written him little letters, their grandmother having held their hands, the burthen of which compositions was how they loved their dear father. For one of the inmates of the home, who was greatly loved but whose irritable temper was his prominent failing, there was a pretty cravat, the ends of which were embroidered, as was the fashion of the day. The pattern chosen was simple and on it was pinned a card with the word "amiable" to complete the sentence. One of the [missing] received a present of an illuminated copy of Solomon's proverbs found in the same old store from which the pictures came. He studied it for some time and announced: "I have changed my opinion of Solomon, he uttered such unnecessary platitudes -- now why should he have said 'The foolishness of a fool is his folly'?"

On Christmas morning the children awoke early and came in to see their toys. They were followed by the negro women, who one after another "caught" us by wishing us a merry Christmas before we could say it to them, which gave them a right to a gift. Of course, there was a present for every one, small though it might be, and one who had been born and brought up at our plantation was vocal in her admiration of a gay handkerchief. As she left the room she ejaculated: "Lord knows mistress knows our insides; she jest got the very thing I wanted."

Mrs. Davis's Strange Presents

Mrs. Varina Davis (Library of Congress)
For me there were six cakes of delicious soap, made from the grease of ham boiled for a family at Farmville, a skein of exquisitely fine gray linen thread spun at home, a pincushion of some plain brown cotton material made by some poor woman and stuffed with wool from her pet sheep, and a little baby hat plaited by the orphans and presented by the industrious little pair who sewed the straw together. They pushed each other silently to speak, and at last mutely offered the hat, and considered the kiss they gave the sleeping little one ample reward for the industry and far above the fruit with which they were laden. Another present was a fine, delicate little baby frock without an inch of lace or embroidery upon it, but the delicate fabric was set with fairy stitches by the dear invalid neighbor who made it, and it was very precious in my eyes. There were also a few of Swinburne's best songs bound in wall-paper and a chamois needlebook left for me by young Mr. P., now succeeded to his title in England. In it was a Brobdingnagian thimble "for my own finger, you know," said the handsome, cheerful young fellow.

After breakfast, at which all the family, great and small, were present, came the walk to St. Paul's Church. We did not use our carriage on Christmas or, if possible to avoid it, on Sunday. The saintly Dr. Minnegerode preached a sermon on Christian love, the introit was sung by a beautiful young society woman and the angels might have joyfully listened. Our chef did wonders with the turkey and roast beef, and drove the children quite out of their propriety by a spun sugar hen, life-size, on a nest full of blanc mange eggs. The mince pie and plum pudding made them feel, as one of the gentlemen laughingly remarked, "like their jackets were buttoned," a strong description of repletion which I have never forgotten. They waited with great impatience and evident dyspeptic symptoms for the crowning amusement of the day, "the children's tree." My eldest boy, a chubby little fellow of seven, came to me several times to whisper: "Do you think I ought to give the orphans my I.D. studs?" When told no, he beamed with the delight of an approving conscience. All throughout the afternoon first one little head and then another popped in at the door to ask: "Isn't it 8 o'clock yet?," burning with impatience to see the "children's tree."

David Helped Santa Claus
When at last we reached the basement of St. Paul's Church the tree burst upon their view like the realization of Aladdin's subterranean orchard, and they were awed by its grandeur.

The orphans sat mute with astonishment until the opening hymn and prayer and the last amen had been said, and then they at a signal warily and slowly gathered around the tree to receive from a lovely young girl their allotted present. The different gradations from joy to ecstasy which illuminated their faces was "worth two years of peaceful life" to see. The President became so enthusiastic that he undertook to help in the distribution, but worked such wild confusion giving everything asked for into their outstretched hands, that we called a halt, so he contented himself with unwinding one or two tots from a network of strung popcorn in which they had become entangled and taking off all apples he could when unobserved, and presenting them to the smaller children. When at last the house was given to the "honor girl" she moved her lips without emitting a sound, but held it close to her breast and went off in a corner to look and be glad without witnesses.

"When the lights were fled, the garlands dead, and all but we departed" we also went home to find that Gen. Lee had called in our absence, and many other people. Gen. Lee had left word that he had received a barrel of sweet potatoes for us, which had been sent to him by mistake. He did not discover the mistake until he had taken his share (a dishful) and given the rest to the soldiers! We wished it had been much more for them and him.

Officers in a Starvation Dance

The night closed with a "starvation" party, where there were no refreshments, at a neighboring house. The rooms lighted as well as practicable, some one willing to play dance music on the piano and plenty of young men and girls comprised the entertainment. Sam Weller's soiry [sic, soiree refers to a party or reception held in the evening], consisting of boiled mutton and capers, would have been a royal feast in the Confederacy. The officers, who rode into town with their long cavalry boots pulled well up over their knees, but splashed up their waists, put up their horses and rushed to the places where their dress uniform suits had been left for safekeeping. They very soon emerged, however, in full toggery and entered into the pleasures of their dance with the bright-eyed girls, who many of them were fragile as fairies, but worked like peasants for their home and country. These young people are gray-haired now, but the lessons of self-denial, industry and frugality in which they became past mistresses then, have made of them the most dignified, self-reliant and tender women I have ever known -- all honor to them.

So, in the interchange of the courtesies and charities of life, to which we could not add its comforts and pleasures, passed the last Christmas in the Confederate mansion.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Prattville Dragoons Camp Meeting for November 2011

Delinquent in posting the notes from the Prattville Dragoons, Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1524 November camp meeting.  We were honored to have JM, Field Representative and Past Commander of the SCV Army of Northern Virginia and he gave an outstanding and astounding discussion on the H.L.Hunley from a technilogical standpoint pointing out the ingenuity of the Southerners who invented and created this ground breaking submarine.  The following summarize his notes:
Since the CSS Hunley has been raised from its watery grave, many aspects of the engineering and technological advances that were pioneered by our very ingenious and deeply motivated ancestors have come to light. One of the things we have enjoyed most from working with the Hunley excavation team is the admiring remarks from those who are astounded by the advanced ideas that were incorporated into the design and function of the world's first submarine to successfully sink an enemy ship.
            First, let's look at the six aspects of hydrodynamic efficiency found in the Hunley:
     The bow and stern are very sharp. 
     The bow is concave, like that of a modern vessel.
     The rivets are countersunk and flush with the hull, a feature truly ahead of its time.
     Cutwater plates parted the water, added stabilization, and could provide a safety system to prevent any obstruction from snagging the conning towers.
     Mechanical engineers say the Hunley is so sleek she appears to have been designed on a CAD-CAM computer!
     This design also directed the flow of water to the propeller and rudder for increased efficiency.
            While all hands sat on the port side, their weight was exactly perpendicular to the center axis of the vessel as they were always leaning forward, in a fetal position, to work at the hand crank.  Here are four engineering feats of this crankshaft, which was offset to the starboard side of the vessel:
     It had a large gear that drove a smaller gear on the propeller shaft by a chain, thus giving a multiplication of speed per revolution of the crank.
     The crankshaft incorporated a flywheel to give a smooth, constant speed.
     A brake was able to slow things quickly when needed.
     The throws on the crank were 51 degrees and a few minutes each. This is 1/7 of 360 degrees, thus giving an equal share of work and balance to the force needed to make smooth rotation.
            Ballast tanks with an equalization tube connecting them, diving planes, depth gauges, a "joy stick" for rudder control, snorkel tubes for fresh air (backed up by opposing hatch lids to obtain large volumes rapidly when on the surface), a keel ballast designed for quick release in an emergency--these are but a few of the many firsts that are part of our proud heritage of Southern Ingenuity! But that is not all. Perhaps the crowning technological innovation is something almost no one knows. That is that Southerners developed and had functioning a galvanic-battery-powered electromagnetic motor for propulsion! (This was, however, replaced by the hand crank once again since it only developed 2-3 knots and the harbor current was 5). The liberals who are detractors of everything Southern do not want us to be aware and thus proud of our rich heritage. Such suppression of information should trouble all Americans greatly, and especially Confederate descendants!
            Three methods of attack were developed for the Hunley. First was the contact or percussion-fused torpedo. It was rejected, since the new large capacity, containing 90 lbs. of black powder, would be a danger to the sub itself. Next, the same type of bomb was floated behind. This worked well in trials until one night the turbulent Charleston Harbor wound the line into rudder mechanism and nearly brought disaster. (The harbor of Charleston is known to be tricky, as the Ashley and Cooper rivers join there before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean). The third method was invented by Mr. Singer, who already had several patents from the Confederate government. It was thrust into a vessel and backed away until a 150' lanyard unreeled and jerked the triple-fused torpedo. You know the rest of the story:  Southern technology put the USS Housatonic on the floor of the ocean in just over 3-1/2 minutes!
            And what went wrong after that successful attack? No one knows, at least not yet--and maybe not ever--but several theories and conjectures have been put forth. Rather than speculate, which is premature at this date, let’s save that for the future. The future is what these brave men of the Hunley were looking to as they lifted the blue calcium light at that moment of highest elation. The signal was received on Sullivan's Island but their journey home that night was not to be. They had to wait over a hundred years. Now, true to the mettle of any real Southerner, we have brought our dead home, home not only to their port, but to a proper Christian burial with their comrades.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dragoons in the Prattville Christmas Parade

The Prattville Christmas parade was held Saturday evening December 3rd in downtown Prattville and the Prattville Dragoons, SCV Camp 1524 participated with a beautiful float and a nice contingent of reenactors from Wetumpka led by Mike Whorton.  2nd Lt. Stuart Waldo, Comm. Officer Tyrone Crowley, Commander Bill Myrick and Treasurer Billy Leverette (and his family) marched in the parade with Billy pulling the trailer float.  Chaplain Tom Snowden also helped with the float construction ealier Saturday morning. Commander Chris Booth dropped in before the parade before heading off to help his wife in their parade entry.  The float was assembled on a tandem axle trailer and had a lighted Christmas tree in the center surrounded by bales of hay.  At the front of the trailer in a row stood the Alabama State Seccession flag, the Prattville Dragoons flag, the Stainless Banner, the First National Flag of the Confederacy and in the middle above all others, the glorious Battle Flag.  Tree and tinsel garland was strung along the outside edge of the trailer and illuminated by a string of multicolor LED lights.  The Dragoon entry was led by Stuart and Tyrone carrying a Christmas themed Dragoon/SCV banner.  Then came the float with Billy's wife and kids in the bed of his truck adorned with Santa Claus hats.  The Wetumpka SCV/League of the South group carrying Battle and Confederate National flags brought up the rear of the Dragoons Christmas parade entry.  We were greeted warmly throughout the parade route.  Spectators shouted heartily as soon as they recognized the beautiful Confederate flags displayed on the float and by the marchers.  One person approached Stuart asking for specifics on how to join the Sons or Confederate Veterans.  Fortunately, an SCV coin had just been thrown to his son which had information about the SCV including the 1-800-My South number embossed on it.  These coins are always popular with the kids and it was great to see them scramble after them when they heard the clink of the coin hit the pavement of the downtown Prattville streets.  We ran out of coins and just about all of the candy after tossing some to all the children and well wishers and celebrants lining the parade route.  It was a very enjoyable time and an opportunity for comraderie and fellowship and sharing the Cause of the Confederacy and the SCV with the folks of Prattville as part of the annual Christmas parade.   

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Prattville Dragoons 2011 Annual Christmas Social

The Prattville Dragoons will hold their annual Christmas Social on Friday December 9th at the beautiful Buena Vista antebellum mansion in Prattville starting at 6:00pm. The huge Battle Flag should be flying proudly from the front porch by the time everyone arrives and the house is always decorated wonderfully for the Christmas season.  Following a welcoming social hour, a banquet of turkey with all the delicious trimmings will be served, catered by Red's Little School House.  A program of singing by Chaplain Snowden and piano playing by Ruth Graham will highlight the holiday festivities.  Remarks by your Dragoons camp officers will also be made and of course the prize drawings.  Looking forward to some General Lee's eggnog and fried cornbread and a wonderful time of Christmas fellowship with fellow SCV Prattville Dragoons and SCV Montgomery Semple Camp members. 

Memorializing this Day on the Anniversary of the Death of President Jefferson Davis

Today breaks dreary in Prattville Alabama as a cold front slowly moves across the river region.  Drizzly rain and low clouds make it appear gloomy.  And today marks a somber anniversary of the death of President Jefferson Davis, the only President of the Confederate States of America.  Jefferson Davis died in New Orleans on Dec 6th, 1889 at the age of 81.  Jefferson Davis was also an accomplished military man and statesman having graduated from West Point and served in the U.S. Army as a decorated officer and combat veteran and also was an elected Senator in the U.S.Congress as well as Secratary of War under Pres. Franklin Pierce. Jefferson Davis sacrificed much leading the Confederacy thru it's birth and tumultuous existence and was imprisoned by the U.S. government following the War for Southern Independence.  His funeral was one of the largest ever in the South with a procession from New Orleans to Richmond.  The moument in Fairview KY, his birthplace and his Presidential Library and museum at Beauvoir in Biloxi MS, his final home, are just some of the tributes to President Jefferson Davis and his life's incredible accomplishments. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Open Letter to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (copied to the TXDMV)

Gov. Perry,
I will not be supporting you in your run for President of the United States.  Your recent stated position opposing the creation of a Confederate commemorative license plate benefiting Sons of Confederate Veterans heritage preservation demonstrates political waffling and posturing and a rejection of the ideals of liberty and noble Southern history.  You stated that permitting such a plate would "scrape old wounds".  Your denial of the honor under which the Confederate and Texas veterans fought and died in defense of their homelands, a denial of our ancestors bravery and sacrifice scrapes such wounds.  It was Lincoln who fanned the flames of war and invaded a sovereign nation and caused 600,000 casualties, not Jefferon Davis.  It was troops under Grant and Sherman and many other Union generals who shelled and terrorized civilians and raped women and burned homes and churches and crop fields, not Confederate Generals Lee and Jackson.  The Battle Flag displays an historic St. Andrew’s Cross and is emblematic of strength and progress.  The Confederate Battle Flag has been proudly flown by US forces in every worldwide conflict since and including World War II including at Okinawa, at Khe Sanh in Vietnam and in the mid-east conflicts.  The flag has been desecrated by hate groups but it has never represented slavery -  it is a symbol of the defense of freedom and liberty, the values under which the Southern states attempted to form the Confederacy as the one true continuing model of our nation’s founding fathers Constitutional ideals.  The Confederate armies fought and died under that flag to defend their homeland from invasion and for liberty from an overbearing overreaching federal government which should be only too apparent and comprehensible in today’s political climate.  It doesn't appear you have learned your history lesson well. The Sons of Confederate Veterans is the one sole organization dedicated to the preservation of this noble Southern Confederate heritage, to promote the truth behind the establishment of the Confederacy and the valiant struggle our ancestors undertook in defense of their homes and their liberty.  Good luck back in Texas.
Sincerely, Stuart Waldo

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Open Letter to Lexington VA City Council Mgr Regarding Prohibition of Confederate Battle Flag

Mr. Ellestad,
I read in recent news articles about the Lexington City Council’s Position to prohibit flying the Confederate Battle Flag on street light poles during certain commemorative events in the town.  Mr.Ellestad, the Confederate history of Lexington makes your town what it is.  Two of the most admired men who fought on either side of the War Between the States are buried in Lexington and that Confederate heritage should be proudly displayed and promoted not hidden and discouraged.  You stated, "that displaying the Confederate flag is very hurtful to groups of people.  In their mind, it stands for the defense of slavery."  If ever there was a teachable moment and a place so deserving, it would be Lexington in defense of Confederate heritage and the Battle Flag.  It was Lincoln who stated he had no desire or inclination to free any slaves and wished to ship all blacks back to Liberia - that was not Jefferson Davis; it was Grant who owned slaves even during the War - that was not Robert E. Lee.  No slaves were ever brought to America for sale under any Confederate flag; the same cannot be said for the United States star spangled banner.  I can only trust that you and your City Council will reap your just desert for taking such a cowardly position and that you will find yourselves displaced by councilmen who value truth and our noble Southern heritage.  I for one will not visit or patronize any Lexington businesses as long as the Lexington City Council supports this position prohibiting the display of the flag on street lights.  The Battle Flag displays an historic St. Andrew’s Cross and is emblematic of strength and progress.  The Confederate Battle Flag has been proudly flown by US forces in every worldwide conflict since and including World War II including at Okinawa, at Khe Sanh in Vietnam and in the mid-east conflicts.  The flag has been desecrated by hate groups but it has never represented slavery and you and the Lexington city council have forfeited an opportunity to relay the truth about the flag and what it represents.  It is a symbol of the defense of freedom and liberty, the values under which the Southern states attempted to form the Confederacy as the one true continuing model of our nation’s founding fathers Constitutional ideals.  The Confederate armies fought and died under that flag to defend their homeland from invasion and for liberty from an overbearing overreaching federal government which should be only too apparent and comprehensible in today’s political climate.  Any belief that they fought in a single purpose defense of the institution of slavery is simple mindedness and ignorance.   President Jefferson Davis’ wife Varina Howell eloquently wrote, “Under it we won our victories and its glory will never fade.  It is enshrined in our hearts forever.”  Your city council dictate and your legacy will assuredly fade. 
Sincerely, Stuart Waldo

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween in Confederate History

Happy Halloween from the Prattville Dragoons, Camp 1524 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  Researched this date in history during the War Between the States and found some interesting Confederate naval highlights for this Halloween date.  These are appropriate given the topic of our last Dragoons camp meeting on the H.L. Hunley.  On October 31st, 1862, the Congress of the Confederacy passed legislation authorizing the creation of two new divisions of the navy Department.  Brig.Gen. Gabriel J. Rains was placed in charge of the new Torpedo Bureau and Lt. Hunter Davidson was named to command the new Naval Submarine Battery Service. The purpose of both divisions was to "investigate, organize and improve creative methods of torpedo warfare" (known as mines today). On October 31st, 1863, the CSS Patrick Henry was brought to its moorings at Drewry's Bluff on the James River for use at the Confederate Naval Academy.  The ship would later be moved closer to Richmond to protect it during the latter stages of the war.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Prattville Dragoons October Camp Meeting

The Prattville Dragoons October camp meeting was postponed from the usual second Thursday date to Wednesday October 26th this month to accomodate a special guest speaker, JM who gave an inspired speech on the Confederate H.L.Hunley, the first submarine to ever sink an enemy ship.  A subsequent blog post will provide some of the information from J's presentation regarding this technological marvel of the War Between the States.  The announcements from the camp meeting included upcoming events.  The Christmas Social will be held Friday December 9th at Beuna Vista with dinner catered by Red's Little Schoolhouse.  Cost is $35 per couple, $20 for individuals.  This is a great time to fellowship with fellow SCV members from the Prattville and Montgomery camps.  Saturday December 3rd is the Prattville Christmas Parade which starts at 4:30pm in downtown Prattville; the theme of the parade is "Cooking Up a Christmas to Remember" and the Dragoons will enter a float.  Contact one of the Dragoons camp officers if you wish to participate and/or ride on the float.  November 5-6th is a gun show at the Shriners Temple in Montgomery - the Prattville Dragoons will have a recruiting table set up at the show.  Also Saturday, the Goodwin's Camp Dixie will host a bonfire which will be timely with the cold front pushing thru.  Mid-November the Tallasee SCV Camp will host the annual Battle for the Armory reenactment.  Two new Prattville Dragoons members were recognized and welcomed, Mike Williamson of Autaugaville and Chad Rowton of Prattville.

Monday, October 17, 2011

An Elegant Victorian Era

The Prattville Dragoons annual Christmas banquet will be held on Friday December 9th at the beautiful historic Buena Vista mansion in Prattville.  In preparation for this annual camp social gathering, my wife and I decided to follow the example of some attendees from last year who wore period dress to the banquet.  I am not a reenactor so I didn't feel comfortable donning a Confederate uniform as undoubtedly I would not have accurately depicted the period uniform and with the fabulous job reenactors do in presenting historically accurate depictions, I did not feel I could do that justice.  So I opted for civilian dress.  Wool was the predominant material for men's trousers and coats; long fitted frock coats were used for more formal occassions.  Cravats were used and tied as bowties and scrunchie ties and were made of cotton and silk and satin.  Beautiful top hats and dress gloves were standard apparel but I don't look good in hats so decided against those dress appointments.  But, I was more excited about choosing a gown for my wife.  The hoop skirts and bodice were elegant apparel for a long ago time of romance and fairy tales (if it wasn't for the terrible carnage of the ongoing War Between the States).  I looked for hours at websites which offered beautiful tailored dresses and ultimately found Recollections.  They have a "Civil War" section which provided some historical facts about women's dress of the 1860s.  Wealthy ladies would sometimes change attire five times during the day wearing a day dress, a walking dress, evening dress, ball gowns as well as their night time sleeping gown.  The large hoop skirts often took up to 5 yards of fabric to cover the entire circumference.  Of course the tragic death toll claiming over 600,000 lives on both sides of the Mason Dixon line meant black mourning dresses were common place.  For my wife, we chose a beautiful ball gown called the Amorette inspired by fashion of this period and perfect for a holiday gathering.  "Simmering teal taffeta is embellished with a rich flocked velvet design on this Civil War inspired off the shoulder gown.  Plush black velvet trims out the neckline and velvet bows top the short sleeves at the shoulders.  A wide velvet belt accents the waist.  The very full floor length skirt is generous enough to accomodate a hoop and deep fringe sets off the overskirt.  The bodice and belt both button up the back." I can't wait to escort my beautiful wife in this stunning elegant ball gown to the Christmas banquet.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

General Robert E. Lee's Death October 12th, 1870

General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia was one of the most admired leaders of the Confederacy.  Lee died on October 12th, 1870, shortly after 9 in the morning in Lexington VA.  The anniversary of his passing is worthy of remembering this great man.  A great military mind.  A great Christian man.  An honorable leader of the Confederacy.  The following recounts the events of his passing.  Lee suffered a stroke two weeks prior to his death and succumbed to pneumonia.  Just five years following Lee's surrender at Appomatox but five long years of Reconstruction which prolonged the agony of the Southern States after their defeat in the War for Southern Independence.

Midnight, October 12, it was raining. Agnes woke Mildred (his daughters), Lee was slipping away. Mary  (his wife) said later, "He wandered to those dreadful battlefields." Lee was delirious in his last hours. He calls out "Tell A. P Hill he must come up!" Pendleton was at Lee's bedside, saying prayers for the dying. At his side was Mary in her wheelchair, Custis (his son) was kneeling beside the bed and Agnes and Mildred knelt beside Custis.
Mildred remembered Lee "breathing hard and painfully." Agnes kneeling by his side-moistening his lips-fanning him-he lying on his right side--drawing long, hard breaths.
The storm broke and the sun lit up the chamber. His final words were "Strike the tent."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Prattville Dragoons October 2011 EC Meeting

Wednesday night, October 5th, the Executive Committee of the Prattville Dragoons, Camp 1524 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans held their monthly meeting.  In attendance were Commander Chris Booth, 1st Lt Harold Grooms, 2nd Lt Stuart Waldo, Commander Bill Myrick, Adjutant Wayne Sutherland and Communications Officer Tyrone Crowley.  The list of members of the camp was reviewed and those Dragoons who had not yet paid their annual dues were assigned for follow-up contact.  During this Sesquicentennial, it is of utmost importance that we encourage membership and retention.  The Christmas banquet was discussed and Reds Little School House catering will be contacted to confirm the costs which will largely determine the price for attendance.  The Christmas banquet will be held at Buena Vista on Friday night, December 9th.  Wyatt Willis will be contacted about bringing the large Confederate Battle Flag which has adorned the front of the mansion for the past events.  December 2nd is the Prattville Christmas parade and a float will be built by the camp for entry.  2nd Lt Waldo will contact the City of Prattville for an entry application.  The next regular monthly meeting will be held on a different date than normal - for October the camp meeting will be held at Shoneys on Wednesday October 26th, dinner at 6pm and meeting at 7pm.  A special guest speaker will make a presentation on the CSS H.L.Hunley.  He will be travelling around the Southeast and addressing other SCV camps but this is our opportunity to hear a great presentation on this marvelous technological innovation of the CSA during the War Between the States.  2nd Lt Waldo also communicated to the EC that the GE Foundation recently sent the matching funds check for the SCV donation made for the Road to War insert, an encouraging development for raising funds for the SCV and the camp. A Google + account has also been established to share information about the camp on this online networking community.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SCV Annual Convention Lt. Commander Barrow’s Speech

The Sons of Confederate Veterans Annual Convention and Reunion was held July 13-17, 2011 at the Embassy Suites hotel in downtown Montgomery AL. 
On Thursday July 14th, Lt. Commander Charles Kelly Barrow, following a welcome to the Cradle of the Confederacy for all attendees, provided an outstanding message on SCV recruitment and retention.  The following outlines his message.
The SCV is a family oriented organization sponsoring events for fellowship with people of like mind.  Retention should be easy for folks who have developed genuine friendships thru frequent social gatherings and work together.
The South needs the SCV for hope just as the USA needs the South for hope just as the world needs the USA for hope.
Lt. Commander Barrow’s personal mission is to assist the SCV to grow and be the best it has ever been.
There are an estimated 50 million people in the US eligible for membership in the SCV but the majority of these people know nothing about the SCV.
Lt. Commander Barrow’s responsibilities include SCV advertisements for getting the word out about the SCV and to promote recruitment.  Unfortunately, some advertisement efforts are more successful than others.  An attempt to advertise with Southern fraternities at universities in the South was rejected for political correctness but we must continue to reach out to schools to educate students and the youth.
The West Point Assembly magazine ran an SCV advertisement but it was subsequently pulled following a complaint.
The Citadel was contacted but they maintained that they allow no advertisements from outside advertisements.
A Texas law enforcement magazine ran the SCV ad and actually contacted the SCV about the opportunity.
The National SCV maintains two websites, for recruitment and as a more informational website for members.
A Facebook SCV page has many friends and “likes”.
An SCV educational site is desired to provide material for commanders and adjutants.
Television ads run on COX cable television networks in Georgia, Washington DC and Pensacola FL have planted  the seed to inform people about the SCV.  These ads are scheduled to run soon in Gainesville FL.
SCV Leadership workshops are being held throughout the southeast – the first was in Chickamauga GA and provided seven hours of information on how to be a better camp and how to be better commanders.  The next will be in October 2011 and in February 2012 the workshop scheduled for Monroe LA will conclude with a Confederate friendly Mardi Gras parade.
Advertisements have been run in the American History magazine.
A very successful advertisement initiative was including an SCV card in ultimate survival packs provided to subscribers of Field and Stream magazine.
SCV involvement in scholarships and awards provides great community relations opportunities and an obvious grateful beneficiary in the recipient.  The H.L.Hunley JROTC award is awarded by the SC Division to JROTC cadets who have demonstrated the values of honor, courage and commitment.  This award is sponsored by local SCV camps throughout the country and in any JROTC branch.
Lt. Commander Barrow concluded by stating that just as each Christian is the best means to show the love of Christ, each SCV member if the best spokesman for the SCV and he challenged each member to recruit just one new member, looking for folks with Confederate apparel or flying the Confederate falg or Confederate license plates and approach them offering information or write them a letter of invitation. 
He quoted Jefferson Davis who in April 1865 stated, “I have sacrificed so much to the Confederacy.” What have we sacrificed?
He reminded us that tomorrow is not promised to anyone and that we need to start today to renew and pledge ourselves to recruit and retain and double the SCV membership.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Opening Ceremonies of the SCV Convention

The Sons of Confederate Veterans Annual Convention and Reunion was held July 13-17, 2011 at the Embassy Suites hotel in downtown Montgomery AL. 
Philip Davis, Commander of the host Montgomery SCV Captain Henry C. Semple Camp opened the convention as master of ceremonies.
The colors were posted by Confederate re-enactors to officially open the convention.
An opening prayer was led by the chaplain. Pledges to the flags of the United States and the Confederate States of America were then stated.  The SCV Charge was also recited. 
Then a representative of the United Daughters of the Confederacy said a few words followed by the President of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Youth organization.
Tonnia Maddox of the Order of Confederate Rose then said a few words.  The OCR is a support organization for the SCV providing ladies to help organize social events and other SCV activities and boasts members in independent chapters throughout the US in a Confederation of State Societies.  She spoke about Leaders, Ethics, Attitude, Passion and Purpose in SCV and OCR goals and activities.
The manager of the Embassy Suites of Montgomery welcomed the convention attendees as did a Montgomery City Councilman.
The 52nd Regimental String Band then led the entire reunion in a rendition of Dixie as re-enactors entered including the Prattville Dragoons own Tyrone Crowley depicting Pres. Jefferson Davis.
Camp Commander Philip Davis then presented the gavel to SCV National Commander in Chief Michael Givens who brought the convention to order. 
The budget was the first order of business and handouts were distributed which provided a summary of the financials. 
A report  was provided on one of the Sons of Confederate Veterans prime projects, Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library, owned and operated by the SCV Mississippi Division.  It will be opening October 2011 followed by a dedication.  It’s mission is to tell the story of Jefferson Davis, to tell the story of the Confederate soldier including Black Confederates and to tell the story of the Cause.  The restoration follows the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.  The facilities will be most impressive including lighted grounds which will project a Confederate Battle Flag into the night sky.  The website is
An equally important project for the SCV is the Oakwood Cemetary in Richmond VA.  The preservation and marking of the twelve thousand Confederate graves at Oakwood with vertical tombstones to replace small numbered markers has long been a mission of the national organization and the Virginia Division.  Budget cuts of and questionable policy shifts enacted by the Veterans Administration has diverted funds earmarked for this project; Senator Webb of Virginia had indicated an agreement was enacted with the federal government for the grave marking at Oakwood.  A plea was made for every SCV member to contact their US Senator and Congressman to fund the continuation of this work to honor the dignity of these Confederate Veterans buried here.   
Commander Michael Givens challenged each camp to create a Media Action Committee to contact government representatives as well as media outlets in regards to initiatives like continued funding for the Oakwood Cemetary project.  Commander Givens maintained that the SCV is the only heritage organization recognizing the Sesquicentennial and that Washington DC knows it and they respect the SCV for their position.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Anne Tidmore, Regent First White House of the Confederacy Speaks to the Prattville Dragoons

Anne Tidmore, Regent First White House of the Confederacy addressed the Prattville Dragoons during the camp meeting on September 8th.  She provided a wealth of information in her fast paced interesting speech on Jefferson Davis and the First White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery. Mrs. Tidmore attended Emory University and graduated from Huntington in Montgomery and founded Tidmore Flags and was recognized as having produced the flags still in use by the Dragoons during their camp meetings. She was a former Regent Daughters of the American Revolution and is the current Regent First White House of the Confederacy.  The following notes outline her speech:
Jefferson Davis was born in Fairview KY June 3, 1808 near Abraham Lincoln's childhood home.
Davis's home is marked by a 350 ft tall monument, the world's tallest concrete obelisk, similar in appearance to the Washington monument -
Jefferson Davis was the youngest of 10 children born to Samuel and Jane Davis.
Jefferson Davis's middle name Finis is actually Latin for "finished".
The Davis family moved to Mississippi early in Jefferson's life.
He graduated from West Point and served under Zachary Taylor in the Black Hawk War.
He resigned his commission to become a planter and to marry Taylor's daughter, Sarah but she died 3 months after they wed from malaria. 
For the next 8 years he was something of a recluse, managing his plantation and expanding his slave holdings and studying history and politics.
He met Varina Howell and was engaged to her within a month, marrying on Feb 26, 1845.  He was 37 and she was 18.  That same year he won his state's seat to the US House of Representatives.
They had six children but only one, Margaret, lived to adulthood and to have children of her own.
He resigned his seat in the US House to reenlist to fight in the Mexican-American War and raised a regiment, the Mississippi Rifles and was named colonel and successfully campaigned and was wounded at the Battle of Buena Vista.
He returned home a military hero and was elected to the US Senate from Mississippi. As a Senator, he helped found the Smithsonian Institute and Museum.
He served as Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce and was credited with building up the US army which proved to be a detriment to the Confederacy.
As the Road to Secession and War built, he tried to save the Union but when Mississippi seceded, he resigned his Senate seat on Jan 21, 1861.
On Feb 9, 1861 the Provisional Congress of the newly formed Confederate States of America unanimously elected Jefferson Davis President. 
He was informed of the decision while working on his Brierfield Plantation and traveled from there to Montgomery by steamboat, train and coach for his inauguration Feb 18, 1861.
On Feb 21, while developing the new country's Constitution and forming the Army, Navy, Post Office and other offices, the Congress leased an Executive mansion from Col. Winter.  This home was built in 1835 and purchased by Col. Winter in 1855.  It was to become known as the First White House of the Confederacy.  It has an Italiante style with a Liberty Cap design element. It was located at Lee and Bibb across from the Capital building.  The location is marked today by a granite monument next to Wintzel's Oyster House in downtown Montgomery. 
On March 4th Mrs. Davis arrived and the couple lived there thru the spring of 1861.  The furnishings in the house belonged to the Davis' or were used in the house or are period pieces. 
On April 10th the shots on Fort Sumter signalled the commencement of the War for Southern Independence and when Virginia seceded, on May 20 1861 the decision was made to move the capital to Richmond and on May 29th President Davis arrived there.
The War cost the lives of 620,000 Americans and ultimately the Confederate armies were defeated by forces of superior numbers and equipment.
President Davis was incarcerated at Fort Monroe and charged with treason but never tried as the US government feared such a trial would expose that the Confederate states legally seceded.  He was freed on $100,000 bond paid by wealthy Northern financiers including Vanderbilt.  He traveled in Canada and Europe following his release but eventually settled back in Mississippi where he built his final home, Beauvoir where he wrote the great historical piece The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. He toured the South after the release of this work and was hailed a hero. 
Davis was a great Christian who withstood great personal and public tragedy with the loss of his first wife, all but one of his children, and the dissolution of his country and defeat of his Confederate States of America.  While incarcerated he received a crown of thorns from the Catholic Pope Pius IX who recognized the tragic burden Davis carried throughout his life. 
When travelling back to Breirfield, he fell ill and returned to New Orleans where he passed away on Dec 5th 1889.  Davis' body laid in state and was first buried in New Orleans but later moved to the Hollywood Cemetary in Richmond VA.
The First White House of the Confederacy conservancy was established in 1900 and by act of the Alabama legislature, funds were allocated for it's restoration and maintenance and it was moved to it's present site.  The First White House receives approximately 16000 visitors per year including schoolchildren and tourists from all over the country and the world. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Prattville Dragoons September Camp Meeting

The Prattville Dragoons SCV Camp 1524 held their monthly meeting for September at the Shoneys on Cobbs Ford Road in Prattville, second Thursday of September at 7pm as regularly scheduled.  Commander Chris Booth convened the meeting and after an opening prayer by Chaplain Snowden and pledges to the US, State and Confederate flags led by Compatriot Spears, Commander Booth made the following announcements:
Mr.Whittington was welcomed as a prospective member with application entered.
The Alabama Division made available copies of the latest reprint of the Guide to Confederate Issues, Heroes and Sites of Alabama which were distributed at the camp meeting.
Annual dues are due by the end of October - $30 national, $10 Alabama and $5 camp totalling $45; don't forget the SCV is a 501.c.3. and donations such as these are generally tax deductible but consult your accountant or tax preparer.
The October Prattville Dragoons camp meeting will be held October 26th and will include a speech about the CSS H.L.Hunley, the Confederate Navy submarine recently recovered,  restored and on display in Charleston SC.
The Battles for the Armory, the annual reenactment event in Tallassee will be held Nov 10-13th which will include school day on Thursday, Sutler's Village for shopping and of course Battle reenactments on Saturday and Sunday -
The Dragoons will set up a table for recruitment at the upcoming gun show at the Shriner's temple in Montgomery Sept 17th and 18th, Quartermaster Jeff Potts coordinating the camp's effort.
The Prattville Dragoons annual camp Christmas party will again be held at beautiful Buena Vista and will be the night of December 9th featuring a delicious meal catered by Red's Little School House and General Lee's egg nog.
The two member's wives in attendance were Carol Crowley and Sue Spears and our ladies were joined by Anne Tidmore, Regent of the First White House of the Confederacy who was the guest speaker for the night.  Notes from Mrs.Tidmore's most interesting speech on the life of President Jefferson Davis and the First White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery will be the subject of the next Dragoons blog.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Open Letter to SC Gov. Nikki Haley

Gov. Haley,
I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for your support for the appropriate flying of the Confederate flag on the grounds of the SC State Capital.  I read with interest the article on "South Carolina Governor Rejects NAACP Push to Remove Confederate Flag".  As you rightly observed, this issue was resolved some years ago when the flag was lowered from the top of the Capital building and moved to an appropriate spot with a Confederate memorial monument.  I had wanted to get one of the flags which flew atop the State Capital building but was too late as this move or “compromise” was enacted before I had the opportunity.  But, as the NAACP pressured the citizens of SC and the state legislature to cow down to their demands then, we knew it would never stop there and won't stop unless we take a stand for recognizing the history of our state and the honor that many of our ancestors exhibited in defending their homes against what they perceived as an invading aggressive force during that War Between the States.  I recently joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans and have learned much about the true causes of that terrible conflict and have grown to appreciate and revere the service my ancestors made in fighting and dying for the Confederacy.  Neither of my great great grandfathers who I have traced back as veterans were slave owners and these ignorant NAACP blow hards choose to ignore what should be more apparent every day to anyone who is observing the ramifications of the over reaching, over spending and intrusion of federal government in current events.  States rights are very evident and relevant today.  Just as the NAACP members consider themselves African Americans in remembering from where they descended and their culture from the African continent, I am proud of my ancestry and those that helped found this country from the 17th century thru the Revolutionary War as well as those who helped defend the Confederacy and their homeland.  Thank you for your support and respect for the Confederate Battle Flag as it flies over the hallowed grounds of the South Carolina capital and the Confederate memorial there.  I have encouraged my fellow SCV members to show their support for your position and to spend some of their vacation dollars in the state of South Carolina to endorse your leadership. 
Stuart Waldo

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Forrest Cavalry Breakfast at the SCV Convention

The Forrest Cavalry Breakfast was held the morning of the first full day of the Sons of Confederate Veterans annual convention in Montgomery AL at 8am on Thursday July 14, 2011.  Joseph Wyatt Willis, Commander of the Forrest Cavalry and Jim Barr, Adjutant made opening remarks and introduced the guest speaker, Lee Millar of Memphis TN.  Lee is a veteran having served as a Captain in the US Army in Vietnam and is employed with the Shelby County TN Sherriff’s office in systems and holds two post-graduate degrees.  He served as past Commander of the N. B. Forrest Camp 215, Lt Cmdr of Tennessee Division, SCV and three terms as Chief of Protocol for National SCV.  Lee’s speech presented a little known fact that Forrest had a hand in saving or creating four universities during and after the War Between the States.  The Memphis Teachers College was the first.  In Oxford Mississippi his troops captured a telegraph office and impersonated Union troops sending wires to the Federal army leading them to withdraw before they burned the University of Mississippi there.  In April 1865 as Union troops occupied Tuscaloosa they received orders to leave to pursue Forrest down in Selma before they had entirely destroyed the town and the University of Alabama. Following the War Between the States, the Morrill Act established Land Grant Colleges and partly because of the damage to the University of Alabama, the small East Alabama Male Institute was funded thru the Morrill Act as a Land Grant College to teach agriculture, science and engineering. This school became Alabama A&M, then Alabama Polytechnic and finally Auburn University which it is today.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Prattville Dragoons Annual Dixie Butt Fundraiser

On Saturday August 6th from 7-9am, at Fatmans BBQ on the corner of Hwy 31 and Main Street in Prattville, the Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1524 Prattville Dragoons will be selling smoked "Dixie" butts as part of their annual fundraiser.  Most of these butts are presold but some are also available for folks who just drive up that morning and want to enjoy a delicious smoked butt from Fatman's BBQ and to support the local Prattville Dragoons SCV Camp.  The Dixie Butt Sale is the primary fundraising activity for the Dragoons.  The SCV is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the true history of the Southern Cause which led to the founding of the Confederate States of America and the War Between the States and honoring our Confederate ancestors thru memorial preservation work, marking gravesites, historical reenactments, scholarly publications, state and national conventions and symposiums as well as sponsoring undergraduate and ROTC scholarships and medical research grants.  A donation through the purchase of a smoked butt on Saturday helps the local Prattville Dragoons SCV chapter which is involved with flag preservation at the Alabama state archives, volunteer work at the Confederate Memorial Park library and museum, marking graves at the Memorial Park and Prattville’s Oak Hill and Old Kingston cemetaries, an annual commemoration of the Dragoons departure from Prattville in 1861, a camp website and blog, monthly meetings/lectures and newsletters, and various other community activities including participation in holiday parades.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Prattville Dragoons in the City of Prattville 4th of July Parade

The 4th of July parade in downtown Prattville honored World War II veterans and was enjoyed by all those octogenarians in attendance.  The Prattville Dragoons were included in the dignitaries portion of the parade because of the participation of two WW II vets in our entry,  Prattville Dragoon James Spears and Donald Wheeler, stepfather of 2nd Lt. Commander Stuart Waldo.  The community turned out in large numbers to cheer as the parade progressed from the courthouse up Main Street to Northington and Pratt Park.  The candy tossed to the children spectating ran out midway thru the parade.  The Dragoons entry included a 4-seat golf cart which allowed James and Donald to ride along with Stuart’s son and mother who had never been in a parade before in her 86 years so it was truly a once in a lifetime event for some in attendance.  This cart can be used for future parades and events and hopefully will encourage participation by some of the camp’s older members.   Wayne Sutherland and Stuart carried the camp banner and Larry Spears carried a Secession Flag and took some great photographs of the event. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sesquicentennial Sons of Confederate Veterans Convention First Day

The Prattville Dragoons hosted the kick-of event of the Sesquicentennial Sons of Confederate Veterans convention on Wednesday July 13th.  A tour of the historic Prattville downtown area as well as the Prattaugan Museum was conducted starting at 10am.  A walking tour down Main Street highlighted the historic 20th century as well as antebellum structures including the old Prattville Mercantile Building and the Pratt Gin Works.  These were the center of Prattville life in the decades before the War for Southern Independence.  The Gin Works is still in business manufacturing cotton gins as the Engineering and Administrative offices for Continental Eagle.  This was once the largest and for some time the oldest continuous manufacturing site for cotton gins in the world.  Overlooking Heritage Park, Tyrone Crowley provided an historical perspective on Daniel Pratt (1799-1873) and his importance as an industrialist and benefactor of the Southern Cause.  Pratt was born in New Hampshire but he adopted the South and specifically this corner of Autauga County Alabama and envisioned a New England style village with a diverse industrial and craftsmen base.  He was not originally in favor of secession and believed the infrastructure of the South needed to be developed but when it became inevitable and his home state seceded, he threw his firm support and fortune behind Southern rights and the Confederate army, contributing approximately $200,000 in 1860s dollars.  He actually helped arm and supply with uniforms and horses the Prattville Dragoons who were the first of the units from Autauga county to be formed and enter the War.  He was always a philanthropist and following the War he continued to provide employment, counsel, and charity to feed and clothe the needy including the freed blacks in the community during the horrible Reconstruction period.  Following the walking tour, a few remained for a tour of the Prattaugan Museum which provides some amazing historical artifacts and records about Daniel Pratt and his village including period photographs, ledgers, letters and other documents, clothing, and even an old cotton gin.  A number of Confederate artifacts from the War including bonds, bullets and shot, and even an old sword and revolver are also displayed; a corner contains some information about the Prattville Dragoons including a reproduction swallow tail First Flag, some period documents and an excerpt from a historical account of the Dragoons by the last Captain of the unit. Hours could be spent perusing the rooms of displays and enjoying the cool air conditioning following a hot summer stroll down Main Street in Prattville.  Following the Prattville tour, the GEC held it's first meeting of the convention at the host hotel, the Embassy Suites in Montgomery and a welcome BBQ dinner was held at the RSA in downtown Montgomery.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Camp Sumter

Attended a family reunion in south central Georgia the weekend of June 25-26th.  As I was in the area, I took the opportunity to go by the Andersonville National Historic Site.  This was the site of Camp Sumter where "over fourty five thousand Union soldiers were confined (as prisoners or war) at the prison (and) almost thirteen thousand died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding and exposure to the elements." This according to the National Park Service's brochure.  Toured the POW museum there which was an amazing couple of hurried hours.  One could spend many more hours in the museum combing over the collection of POW artifacts and presentations.  What was interesting was the manner in which the museum was laid out with different sections explaining different aspects of life as a POW including clothing or uniforms, games and means to pass the time, religion and how they managed to practice their faith, diaries and communications with family and the outside world etc.  The sections were not divided by time period but by these topics and it struck me how POWs from the time of the Revolutionary War thru to the Vietnam War and Desert Storm all confronted similar hardships and trials.  While the museum presented the dire conditions in which the prisoners or war at Camp Sumter lived and died, they did also mention at least the truth about one of the main reasons why there was such overcrowding which led to the poor santitation, disease and malnutrition, that the North refused to release Confederate POWs in a swap for these Union troops held at Camp Sumter and elsewhere.  In what has been described as one of the most shining testaments to the fighting courage and tenacity of the Confederate soldier, General Grant stated, "It is hard on our men held in Southern prisons not to exchange them, but it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our battles. Every man we hold, when released on parole or otherwise, becomes an active soldier against us at once either directly or indirectly. If we commence a system of exchange which liberates all prisoners taken, we will have to fight on until the whole South is exterminated. If we hold those caught, they amount to no more than dead men. At this particular time to release all rebel prisoners in the North would insure Sherman's defeat and would compromise our safety here."  What was not as thoroughly explained was that the shortage of medicine to treat the diseased and sick at Camp Sumter was caused largely by the Union blockade and refusal to allow medicine thru to the Southern States.  Similarly, the shortage of food especially once General Sherman's pillage commenced caused hunger and malnutrition among the Confederate soldiers and civilian populations also.  The terrible conditions and high death tolls at Union POW camps was largely a footnote and certainly the graves of the thousands of Confederate soldiers who died interned as Union prisoners of war are not similarly honored at those sites north of the Mason Dixon line.  All in all, a stark reminder of the horror of war when one gazes at the thousands of tombstones lined in countless rows in the cemetary there.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

July 4th

While July 4th one hundred and fourty eight years ago was a dire time in the survival of the Confederacy with the fall of Vicksburg and the carnage at Gettysburg, Independence Day should be remembered and celebrated by compatriots for the birth of the United States of America and the pure principles which our founding fathers envisioned for foundation of our nation and particularly in the cornerstone Constitution.  If the Jeffersonian ideals which had been the framework of the Constitution had been adhered to in 1861 and the period leading up that (as well as in today's day and time), the struggle for States Rights and the attempt to reign in a tyrannical overreaching overbearing Federal government would not have resulted in the travesty of hundreds of thousands of casualties in the War Between the States and the world today may have been a much different place. Truly, the Confederate States of America may have grown to be "the shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom loving people everywhere" as Ronald Reagan stated.  Today, the debate is alive as to whether America is still or can continue to be such a shining example but a return to the founding principles is our only hope.  So when you celebrate Independence Day this July 4th, reflect on the great struggle, the founding of the Confedearet States of America and the War for Southern Independence which was fought to preserve those founding father's vision.  The Prattville Dragoons will be marching in the city of Prattville's July 4th parade to celebrate American Independence gained in the eighteenth century, to honor the World War II veterans who fought to preserve democracy and defeat the Axis powers in the twentieth century, and to remember those who fought in the War for Southern Independence in the nineteenth century. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Upcoming Events for the Prattville Dragoons

Prattville Dragoons EC Meeting on Monday the 6th highlighted upcoming events for the camp.  The monthly camp meeting held at the Shoneys in Prattville on Cobbs Ford Road was held on Thursday evening.  July 4th the Dragoons plan to participate in the Prattville Independence Day parade with a cart with riders including Donald Wheeler, a World War II veteran, step father of 2nd Lt Commander Stuart Waldo.  The theme for the parade will be honoring these veterans of WW II.  The Dragoons banner will also be carried by walkers.  If you wish to participate, the parade starts promptly at 9am, Monday July 4th.  The Sons of Confederate Veterans annual reunion conference will be held Wednesday July 13th thru Sunday 17th.  Details and a registration can be found on the SCV national and Alabama division websites.  Before June 15th the registration is $45 and escalates to $60 after that date.  The Prattville Dragoons will co-host the Old Alabama Town tours on Friday afternoon.  Unfortunately for this golfer, the Wednesday June 13th captains choice golf tournament has been cancelled but 2nd Lt. Stuart Waldo can be contacted if interested in golf at the beautiful Robert Trent Jones facility as a small informal get together golf outing is still tentatively planned.  This is the Confederacy Sesquicentennial reunion event, a great milestone and a huge event is anticipated complete with tours, meetings, and banquets and even river boat cruises on the Harriett II on the Alabama River. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rebel Yell

For those who like a sip of bourbon now and again, one which may be of interest is Rebel Yell.  On-line reviews favor the taste and value of this bourbon made by the Luxco company in Louisville KY.   I had been looking for a bottle for some time but it is fairly scarce.  I wanted to see what tribute they paid to the Confederacy from whence their name was given.  Unfortunately, while there is no Confederate Battle Flag or any other on the bottle, there are two small Confederate cavalry figures in full gallop.  The label on the back of the bottle though has a nice blurb, "The rebel yell is one of the enduring legends of the War Between the States.  Just as the rebel yell's heritage remains true, so does that of the namesake - Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey."  Nice reference to the War Between the States.  I saw one post on the web which claimed that even though the brand was established in 1849, it ceased production but was brought back in 1961 to commemorate the Centennial of the Confederacy and the War Between the States.  Nice.  I took the opportunity to write an email to their regional manager to inquire whether they will be producing any Sesquicentennial commemorative products or labels.  I would imagine that such might be a collectible by many including some members of the Son of Confederate Veterans and I hinted as such.  Stay tuned.  But, I purchased a bottle on a trip up that way this weekend and brought it back to Alabama so that we could partake during the Prattville Dragoons EC meeting tomorrow evening and on. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Real Sons and Daughters

A most amazing revelation for me at the Alabama Division convention was the attendance of a Real Son who I believe was Mr. Dean.  A Real Son I came to understand is an actual son of a Confederate Veteran. Some number of Confederate Veterans married at advanced ages of 80 and older to younger women of childbearing age who had found security with a veteran receiving a government pension during the stark poverty years of the Great Depression.  Amazing that as we celebrate the Sesquicentennial, 150 years after the start of the War for Independence, that there are first generation progeny of Veterans of this War still alive.  With the attention the Sesquicentennial is receiving, some of these men of living history are making headlines.  Here is one article - .  Interesting that this son, Tyus Denney, indicates that his father rarely spoke of the conflict and he is living his life in relative anonymity in small town Tarrant Alabama.  Henry Gober of the Prattville Dragoons residing in Millbrook is another of these fast dwindling numbers of Real Sons.  The recent May/June edition of the Confederate Veteran magazine shows a photo on page 33 of Real Daughter Margaret Elizabeth Lane of NC.  These people are living breathing historical records of the period of the Confederacy that their parents lived and fought thru.  I trust they are being encouraged to document in memoirs stories of their childhood when their Confederate Veteran father was still alive.  Oral histories from them would be priceless recollections only one generation removed from those who lived in the era, providing a glimpse into the Road to War, the War for Southern Independence and the post-war period of Reconstruction.  They and their parent’s lives have spanned over 150 years during the most important periods in our country's history.   Amazing stuff.  It gave me pause to think that my youngest boy will be 50 years old at the Bicentennial with his great great great grandfather having been a veteran of War Between the States.   I didn't know but one of my grand parents and thankfully she did pen her memoirs which I happened to use this very family history as one source of documentation for my qualifications to join the Sons of Confederate Veterans. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Alabama Division Reunion - SCV Accomplishments

As was previously reported, members of the Prattville Dragoons attended the annual convention of the SCV Alabama Division in Birmingham on May 21st.  The Commanders report provided a synopsis of the Sesquicentennial celebrations/events including the April inauguration reenactment and Confederate Memorial Day remembrance in Montgomery.  Just some of the additional Division activities included a $6000 check  provided to the Alabama Division to the State Archives for flag preservation.  The SCV Wheeler Camp dedicated a memorial at the site where the last two Confederate veterans had met some half century before in Alabama.  In recognition of the tragic loss of life and property in the recent rash of tornadoes, the Commander alerted everyone to the availability of grants to help provide relief for those requiring assistance to help get back on their feet.  Division funds were also provided to the Decatur and Tallassee reenactors to continue their good work portraying historical events from the War Between the States.  Two of the three annual recipients of the Divisions scholarships were in attendance having both received a one-time $1500 scholarship to further their academics.  Support for high school living history days as well as numerous Sesquicentennial support activities like the funding of the Road to War newspaper inserts was also highlighted.  The Adjutant declared a quorum with 26 camps represented at the convention of 55 in the state (with a membership of 1600).  The 1st and 2nd Lieutenants also reported specifically regarding involvement with Sesquicentennial events and recognized Tyrone Crowley of Camp 1524 and Ann Tidmore of the Confederate White House for their invaluable work and support in Sesquicentennial events throughout the first half of the year.  Copies of the Alabama Confederate Division quarterly newsletter magazine are sent to local schools who request them and an effort will be conducted to provide these to all Alabama legislators to promote the work of the SCV and the Division especially in this important Sesquicentennial period.  The business portion of the convention included votes on Division Constitution Amendments and Resolutions.  Finally, Division and Brigade commendations and meritorious service awards were announced.  It was a great day recognizing all of the important work being done by the SCV in this most important Sesquicentennial anniversary of the founding of the CSA and the War for Southern Independence.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Alabama Division Reunion - Stand for Truth and Righteousness

Last Saturday, May 21st, members of SCV Camp 1524 attended the annual convention of the Alabama Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  In attendance were Chris Booth, Tyrone Crowley, Tom Snowden, Bill Myrick and Stuart Waldo.  After colors were posted and pledges stated, prior to the business portion a representative from the United Daughters of the Confederacy spoke and encouraged wives to join that group, a parallel organization to the SCV.  A "Real Son" was introduced to those assembled, ninety year old Mr. Dean.  Amazing that this SCV member is an actual son of a Confederate Veteran - I will blog further about those dwindling numbers of Real Sons who provide a glimpse into 19th century and Confederate history on future posts.  A presentation was made of one of the flags which was raised at the state capital at the Sesquicentennial celebration for the inauguration which was held in Montgomery in April.  Gen.S.D.Lee's charge was recited.  The Division Chaplain then reported encouraging everyone to stand for the truth against the media citing Isaiah 6, "Do not call evil good and good evil."  Although most would find the institution of slavery to be abhorrent, it is not evil or sinful as the Bible neither condemns nor endorses it. He provided the analogy that although mistreatment of slaves existed, so do beatings and cruelty in bad marriages and yet no one would condemn the entire institution of marriage for what a few despicable people do.  Interestingly, some today question the legitamcy and worth of the family unit but one can perhaps coincidentally recognize the fall from greatness with which our country is imminently faced.  He closed in saying that God vindicates righteousness and that although the South may have lost the War, God takes the long view.  There was a revival in the South during these War years and many tens of thousands of soldiers were saved.  Of course great Christian men like Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee provided legendary role models for the entirety of the Confederacy to espouse and admire.  This legacy endures today as the South is still referred to as the Bible Belt and the social mores of the Southern culture contrasts with that of the liberal secular North (and Pacific coast).  The Chaplain recommended Lee on Leadership as suggested reading.  Following posts will provide further details on the convention.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SCV License Plates Commemorating the Confederacy

As has been seen in the newspaper recently, with the Sesquicentennial upon us, SCV members and others in many states have been attempting to commemorate this significant and important milestone in history with vehicle license plates emblazoned with the SCV or Confederate emblems.  Some state legislators in their astounding and prejudiced ignorance continue to maintain that the Confederate Battle Flag is a symbol of hatred and oppression and should not be placed on these license plates.  A concerted effort by SCV members should be made to contact these politicians and demand that these plates honoring these true Confederate patriots and libertarians be made available.  Here is an open letter sent to one such vocal misinformed Florida Congress-woman. 
I read with disappointment your statements and position regarding the attempt by John Adams to have a Confederate Heritage license plate created and made available for purchase by Florida drivers for their personal automobiles. His and the federal judge's position that such plates are protected under freedom of speech is a Constitutional question for which you have no legal standing to object. Your ignorant objections on the grounds that you ignorantly believe that the Confederate battle flag stands for oppression and racism to ignorant people just exemplifies your ignorance. My ancestors fought for the Confederate States of America and I believe, thousands of informed educated Sons of Confederate Veterans members, and other potential Florida tourists similarly believe that the flags of the Confederate States of America including the Battle Flag were raised and carried by people defending their homeland against an unConstitutional invasion of aggressors attempting to force the Confederate States back into a Union from which they legally seceded. My forefathers who fought for the South were not slave owners and to infer that they would risk their lives to defend their neighbors legal right (upheld by the United States Supreme Court at that time in our history) to own slaves is preposterous. I can understand why blacks like yourselves who have not been otherwise educated to the true history of the War Between the States might believe that the Northern states attacked the South in a grand crusade to emancipate the slaves in the South but that would ignorantly ignore the historical facts of the period. Lincoln who has been exposed as the most tyrannical President in the history of our country but who the ignorant masses cling to as some mighty moral emancipator provides the following personal quotes to frame the root cause for the conflict - "Free them and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this." Or how about, "There is no right and ought to be no inclination in the people of the free States to enter into the slave States and interfere with the question of slavery at all." Or maybe, "It does not follow that social and political equality between whites and blacks must be incorporated because slavery must not." Hmm, let's try, "It is nothing but a miserable perversion of what I have said to assume that I have declared Missouri or any other slave State shall emancipate her slaves. I have proposed no such thing." Or from the Lincoln Memorial itself, "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and it (is) not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it." Ah, so the Emancipation Proclamation was a ploy to gain political favor and advantage to continue the bloodiest war in our history. The War Between the States and the flags which flew over the Confederate lines on the battlefields of that terrible struggle represent a struggle of these Confederate States to uphold the soverign rights guaranteed them originally when joining the Union to secede as a final recourse against an over reaching overburdening federal government which had imposed unfair tariffs penalizing the South's economy and which refused to lose the South's wealth and income should those States secede. Follow the money - as Lincoln also said, "I say that we must not interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists because the constitution forbids it and the general welfare does not require us to do so." Ol' U.S.Grant was a slave owner. Robert E. Lee, not. Many in the South believed the institution to be morally repugnant but for those who profitted, they profitted for the good of Lincoln's pocket books and they were only product's of their time in history. Don't Monday morning or 21st century quarterback the morality of these God fearing righteous people who in actuality need only have referred to the Bible for historical justification of and blessing for the institution of slavery. Indeed, if you count yourself a Christian, you probably have these plantation owners to thank for instilling in your forebears these Christian principles. The institution of slavery was widely recognized and bound anyway to have run it's course in American history and would be replaced by the mechanized productivity of the industrial revolution within a few short decades so please don't ignorantly maintain that 600,000 people died in a struggle based on what amounts to a moot point. Please study your history and hopefully with an open mind you will discover that the true patriots and God fearing brave defenders of liberty and States Rights were the citizens of the Confederate States of America who proudly flew those banners including the Battle Flag. I am very proud of my given names and proud that my great great grandfathers fought alongside these great Confederate Cavalry officers and I will fly the Confederate Battle Flag from my home and on my vehicle's bumper whether it be on a license plate or on a sticker to proclaim my undying admiration for the honor and glory with which they were Confederate Veterans.
Regards, Stuart Forrest Waldo, SCV Camp 1524