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.