Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Prattville Dragoons Commander Column for January 2014

Camp 1524 Camp Dispatch Commanders Column for January 2014

The New Year of 2014 brings us more than halfway through the Sesquicentennial of the War for Southern Independence.   One hundred and fifty years ago, the WBTS saw some of the bloodiest battles of the War.  In the spring of 1864, Grant’s Union Army absorbed losses in troops killed, wounded or captured totaling 61,315 in the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Petersburg campaigns as the Confederate forces inflicted heavy casualties on the invaders in a desperate attempt to defend the Confederate capital of Richmond.   But the Confederate Army sustained irreplaceable mounting losses of men and stores as the War dragged into its fourth year.  In November of 1864, the Army of Tennessee under General John Bell Hood lost over 6000 troops in the disastrous Battle of Franklin which crippled the Army in the western theatre for the remainder of the War. 

It was a darkening period but our Confederate ancestors courageously persevered and struggled against the invading hoard.  I would encourage you all in these final two years of the Sesquicentennial to honor and commemorate their brave fight and attend some of the myriad SCV events throughout the Southeast.  The Confederate Heritage Rally will be held in the fall in Franklin TN and will include a march following in the footsteps of those in the Battle of Franklin.  Also in Tennessee in February will be another in the lecture series of the Stephen Dill Lee Institute investigating the advent of the concept of Total War which the U.S. forces brought to bear on the Confederate civilian populace.  The Alabama Division Reunion will be held in Athens AL in May and the National SCV Reunion will be held in beautiful Charleston SC this summer. Of course our Prattville Dragoons camp will have many opportunities to serve and fellowship locally including the Lee-Jackson banquets and birthday celebrations this month.  

The Sesquicentennial is an historic opportunity to advance the Cause.  I wasn’t listening to talk radio too much over the holidays preferring instead to enjoy Christmas music but I did tune into a Laura Ingraham broadcast and her guest pointed out that the political climate today is much the same as it was 150 years ago which precipitated the War of Northern Aggression.  The nation is divided into red states and blue states, by socio-economic class warfare, by racial disharmony in a supposed post-racial era and, by militant politically correct organizations like GLAAD and the ACLU lining up against the “backwards peoples clinging to their Bibles and guns”.  It seems the PC crowd with the help of the main stream media has a free reign to rewrite history and twist the Constitution to suit their distorted immoral agenda.  The Sesquicentennial has certainly highlighted the WBTS but unfortunately it seems with the victor’s bias including a spotlight on Gettysburg and Lincoln as the Great Emancipator including the release of a feature film featuring selective recollection and exclusion of the facts.  But just as our ancestors experienced setbacks in the face of overwhelming odds, we have seen victories in Selma with the Confederate Circle settlement and in Tennessee where the state passed legislation to preserve historical parks including those honoring Confederate leaders. 
Commander in Chief Givens implored us to get connected as SCV members and camps to be able to mobilize against the PC enemy whenever they threaten our Southern heritage.  It may seem impossible and futile but see what recently transpired when A&E Television and Cracker Barrel had to back down from their condemnation and ostracizing of Phil Robertson for his outspoken Biblical viewpoints. Hundreds of thousands of “backwards peoples” put down their Bibles and guns long enough to write letters and emails and petitions to demand Phil’s reinstatement which resulted.  In the wake of the uproar and the latest decision, the Duck Commander clan issued a statement that they were vindicated and emboldened in their values and faith by the support of their followers.  We are heirs to a Southern heritage fully embodying  the great Biblical faith and Constitutional values on which our ancestors established the Confederate States of America.  While brave Confederate soldiers took up arms to fight for their homes and way of life, will you take up a pen and paper or your computer to defend their honor and the true history of the South and in a real sense, your way of life?  The battlefield today is in information and communication and the opportunities are nearly limitless from letters to newspaper editors to writing local and national politicians and, sometimes even, television stations and businesses.  Every voice is important to demonstrate the strength of our conviction.  Embrace the Charge and advance the Cause in this Sesquicentennial year of 2014.  Wishing you and yours a happy and prosperous New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

In Memoriam, Prattville Dragoon James William Little

The Dragoons lost a Confederate leader on Christmas Day when Camp 1524 member James Little passed away in Tallassee at the age of 87 years old.  James was a Life Member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and was founder and past Commander of Camp 692.  The Dragoons provided an arrangement of flowers in his memory.  James died following a relatively brief illness and was not happy with his predicament staying in a home his last days according to his wife of 32 years, Nita.  Nita indicated that when she visited him on Christmas morning, she asked him if he knew what day it was and he shook his head. She told him it was the day Our Lord Jesus was born and he smiled at her and turned his head and went to see his Saviour.  Past Commander Wyatt Willis added in his accounting of this incredible story that The Lord is good in so many ways that we sometimes fail to recognize them.  Commander Willis attended the visitation on behalf of the camp.  Dragoon Chaplain Tom Snowden signed the guest book for James adding, "On behalf of the Prattville Dragoons, Camp 1524, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we are saddened by the news of compatriot James Little's departure from this earth but we have reassurance that in Psalm 116:15 it says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.""  On a personal note, I was reminded that the Confederate uniform I have worn on numerous occasions was donated to us by James.  In this and many ways his spirit and memory will surely carry on with us. The Dragoons extend condolences to the Little family and our thoughts and prayers go out to them in this time of mourning.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Vida Christmas Parade 2013

Saturday December 21st the community of Vida hosted their annual Christmas Parade.  This is an amazing event where the whole community participates in the parade, as spectators, and in sharing a meal after the parade which the community hosts in their community center.  Despite the ominous clouds, the weather forecast proved true and the rain didn't dampen the parade, waiting until Saturday evening to bring in the cold front.  The parade participants lined up starting around 1pm at the community center for the parade which started at 2pm.

Parade Participants Gather Around the Vida Community Center
Dragoons Entry for the Vida Parade including the Waldos, Smyths and Wyatt Willis
The parade runs from the community center down County Road 19 and just past the convenience store all the cars and floats do a u-turn to double back so the parade spectators get two passes of the entire parade.  Hundreds of locals residents came out for the parade and the Dragoons were well received as always and SCV coins and Battle Flags were handed out to all the children lining the road and disappeared quickly as did all the candy.  Following the parade a dinner was served in the community center and parade participants and spectators were welcomed to enjoy chopped smoked pork, chili, camp stew, hot dogs, potato salad, beans and slaw and a host of delicious homemade desserts.  A wonderful way to celebrate the holiday season just days before Christmas and a great opportunity to fly the Battle Flag and advance the Cause.
Dragoon Danny Smyth Applies the Governor Braking His Daughter's Mini Car
Tractor Pulling a Float in the Vida Parade
Santa and Elf Horses in the Vida Parade

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Prattville Dragoons

Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1524 wishes you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and Happy New Year.  As we enjoy the holiday season with our families and friends, Confederate compatriots should pause for a moment to reflect on the grace and blessings of the Lord in bestowing on us our Southern heritage.  We should remember our brave ancestors who 150 years ago struggled to defend their hearth and home and families from an invading aggressor intent on subjugating them to an oppressive centralized government.  We should be proud of the Cause for which they struggled and the birthright with which they endowed us and seek in this season and the coming year to carry forth their memories and the Charge.  Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas in the Confederacy

The following historical accounting of Christmas in the Confederacy was found in the Ft. Blakeley Camp 1864 December newsletter.

(partially from the Smithsonian Archives-The Editor)
Many of the traditions associated with Christmas celebrations in the United States today began during the Civil War. Without a doubt, it was the loneliness and insecurities of war felt by citizens and soldiers alike that created a need for them to seek solace and security. they found it in part by re-establishing familiar European traditions. This created the illusion of love and peace at a time when very little of that existed in their daily lives.

Christmas had been celebrated in Europe with eating, drinking, and dancing. It was the Puritans who attempted to end this indulgent behavior, and did it successfully when they came to America. With their arrival, Christmas became a serious occasion, the purpose of which was to introspectively ponder sin and religious commitment.

It took almost 200 years for our country to move away from this Puritan view and enjoy the holidays once more. Louisiana was the first state to make Christmas a holiday in 1830, and many states soon followed. Congress did not make Christmas a federal holiday until 1870. The religious revival of the mid 19th century also added to the desire to unite, celebrate, and recognize Christmas.

Christmas cards, carols, special foods, holding winter dances, all date back to the late 1850s. Even before the Civil War, it was common to cut Christmas trees and take them into the home, although they were tabletop size, and usually were arranged with other greenery and mistletoe, all supposed to bring good luck to the household. Union soldiers' letters mention decorating their camp Christmas trees with salt-pork and hard tack.

It was the development of the modern Santa Claus that embedded Christmas into the American way of life. In 1861, Thomas Nast was a German immigrant working as a writer and artist at Harper's Weekly. When he was tasked with providing a drawing to accompany Clement Clark Moore's 1821 poem, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, he called upon his Bavarian childhood to create our modern image of Santa Claus. His cherubic (but thin by today's standards) Santa was depicted bringing gifts of Harper's to the soldiers, making Nast the first to combine imagery (Santa Claus) and commercialism (selling Harper's) into the American marketplace.

Santa brought children gifts, and gifts were always homemade. Children were satisfied to receive just small hand-carved toys, cakes, oranges or apples. Many Southern diaries tell the story of Santa running the blockaded ports in Dixie to fill children's stockings with what little the parents could spare to make the day special for them. Even General Sherman's soldiers played Santa to impoverished Southern children by attaching tree-branch antlers to their horses and bringing food to the starving families in the war-ravaged Georgia countryside.

The most famous Christmas gift of the war was sent by telegram from William Tecumseh Sherman to Abraham Lincoln on December 22, 1864. "I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 100 and 50 guns and plenty of ammunition, also about 25,000 bales of cotton." The gift, of course, wasn't the guns, the ammunition or the cotton, but the beginning of the end of the Civil War.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

SCV Camp 1524 Dragoons in the Prattville Christmas Parade 2013

Members of the Dragoons and Confederates from Wetumpka participated in the Prattville Christmas parade which after two weather postponements was held on a seasonally cold Monday evening, December 16th.  The parade started at the old Continental Eagle Gin factory parking lot and snaked down Main Street to Northington St to Pratt Park.  Crowds of children and young at heart lined the streets.  The Dragoons entry was very well received and the small Battle Flags and SCV coins were particularly popular with everyone screaming for them. 

Camp Commander Stuart Waldo, Communications Officer Tyrone Crowley, Brigade Commander Bill Myrick and Flag Chairman Larry Spears met Monday afternoon to assemble the float on Bill's trailer including the requisite Christmas tree, garland and string lights and red bows.  Bill brought hay bales to sit on for the parade riders. The float looked particularly good all lit up at night when the parade was held. 
Bill and Larry Play with the Tangled Cluster of String Lights
The Finished Masterpiece of a Float
The Usual Suspects Posing in Front of the Float
The Dragoons entry had 23 participants marching or riding including Commander Waldo in period uniform and his wife in a beautiful hoop dress along with their children, Communications Officer Crowley and wife Carol, Brigade Commander Myrick, Flag Chairman Spears, Adjutant Wayne Sutherland, Color Sgt Brent Jenks and fis father George along with a fine contingent from Wetumpka led by Compatriot Mike Whorton and his wife. Wayne and Brent led the Dragoons and friends carrying the camp Christmas banner and Commander Waldo pulled the trailer with ten riders and the rest of the men carrying flags.  It was a cold winter night but the Confederate camaraderie and Christmas spirit made it a wholly enjoyable and successful event.
The Waldos in Front of the Dragoons Float
Myrick, Waldo, Crowley and Spears in Period Dress with Float Lights Aglow
The Prattville Dragoons and Friends Ready for the Parade

Friday, December 20, 2013

Open Letter to the Commander and Director of Public Affairs of the U.S. Army War College

Commander, U.S. Army War College,

I read with great dismay a news article regarding the removal of portraits of General Robert E. Lee and General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle PA.  These two great leaders were outstanding graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served with distinction in the U.S. Army.  Similarly, President Jefferson Davis graduated from West Point, served in the U.S. Army and as U.S. Secretary of War under whom a modernization of forces was conducted.  These men chose to defend their homes and align with their states when the call to secede and take up arms was petitioned back in 1861.  Secession and nullification were taught as Constitutional state’s rights at West Point and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court of the era. 

Somehow we believe ourselves today to be more enlightened and upstanding than these great Christian soldiers but the Constitution and the Bible and true history are nonetheless unchanging.   Unfortunately as America slips into an acceptance of mediocrity and immorality, history is ignored or altered to fit and conform to the predominating main stream narrative.  But these men and many outstanding Confederate Generals like General Stephen Dill Lee and General Wheeler Joseph Wheeler and many other Confederate veterans went on to proudly serve their country and states after the War.   General Nathan Bedford Forrest is still regarded as a brilliant tactician as were most Confederate officers and their campaigns and strategies and the histories of these battles in this great struggle are worthy of continued appreciation and study. 

Many U.S. military bases are named after Confederate General Officers as these men were intelligent, accomplished, disciplined, exemplary military men.  This article stated that these men “fought against America” but indeed they fought for the America they and their neighbors believed the original framers created, one of individual and state’s rights and a decentralized government power structure, against an oppressive burdensome federal government which invaded their homeland using the same U.S. Army in which they formerly served.  

The article further stated that College spokeswoman Carol Kerr said, “Lee was certainly not good for the nation. This is the guy we faced on the battlefield whose entire purpose in life was to destroy the nation as it was then conceived.”  Actually it wasn’t conceived in that framework.  And as I have hopefully demonstrated and as true history reveals, Lee faithfully served the United States and the U.S. Army to the point he was actually offered command of the Army by President Lincoln.  Surely a man worthy of continued respect and honor.  He elected to attempt to defend his home and his state of Virginia.  He also went on to serve as President of Washington and Lee College.  Entire purpose?  This Ms. Kerr needs to perhaps study some history herself but it is apparent in her tone and choice of words that she desires to be an ignorant revisionist.  She is not a good representative of the U.S. Army War College.  I believe an evaluation of the use of taxpayer funds for such inventories and remodeling as is apparently in process at Carlisle Barracks and frankly for paying the salary of such spokesmen may be warranted. 

Stuart Forrest Waldo, Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1524 Commander

Thursday, December 19, 2013

SCV Camp 1524 Prattville Dragoons Christmas Social 2013 - Part 2

The Dragoons Christmas Social at Buena Vista was enjoyed by all in attendance on Friday night December 13th.  Following the opening Social Hour with piano music by Mrs. Darlene Jennings, supper and a musical program by Ms. Kim Shannon, 1st Lt Harold Grooms introduced all the special guests which included members of the Montgomery Semple Camp and Tallassee Camp with Bill and Terry Anthony and their wives in their fabulous period attire as well as Pat and Butch Godwin and Todd Kiscaden from Selma also in period dress. Todd provided a recounting of the great news from Selma where the City Council there recently (again) deeded Confederate Circle to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, reimbursed Todd for a portion of his legal bills and lost time and wages from the enhancement project delays, and approved the revised plans for the Confederate cemetery improvements to include a rest bust of General Forrest, a new monument commemorating the Battle of Selma, security systems and handicap accessibility.
Todd Kiscaden Illustrates the Updates from the Selma Front
The Autauga County Heritage Association Buena Vista Director Beverly Byard who was a guest of the Dragoons for supper then provided another interesting history of the house including the prior owners starting with William Montgomery who built the house in the 1840s.  Communications Officer Tyrone Crowley read a somber letter from Tally Simpson, a Confederate soldiers Christmas letter to his sister relating the horrors of the War 150 years before.  Chaplain Snowden lifted our spirits leading everyone in the singing of Silent Night and Jingle Bells before soloing his rendition of Mary Did You Know.
Mrs. Beverly Byard Provides a History of Buena Vista

Communications Officer Crowley Read a Confederate Soldier's Christmas Letter
Santa Claus made an appearance at the Dragoons Social including divulging his list of those who had been naughty and those who were nice. Apparently some officers went on a casino boondoggle to Biloxi under the auspices of attending the Confederate Heritage Rally but Santa saw it all and Waldo, Myrick and Larry Spears got their deserved lumps of coal.  Tyrone received a lump of coal for his brief desertion to the left coast but received a candy cane for his superior service recognized by Division and National SCV awards he received this year.  His wife Carol received a candy cane for her Emma Sampson Award recognition.  Candy canes were distributed all around to the Godwins and Todd Kiscaden for their hard fought victory in Selma. Mrs. Kerri Waldo then assisted Santa in drawing and distributing the door prizes including the many lovely centerpieces provided by Commander Myrick and his wife Peggy.  Commander Waldo then commenced the closing of the Christmas Social by reading the SCV Closing.  Chaplain Snowden accompanied by Kim Shannon led everyone in the singing of Dixie and then provided a Benediction before everyone departed to celebrate the Holidays.
Santa Reveals his Naughty and Nice Lists
Grooms, the Myricks and Snowden Carefully Fold the Battle Flag
Merry Christmas from the Prattville Dragoons and Friends

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SCV Camp 1524 Prattville Dragoons Christmas Social 2013 - Part 1

On Friday December 13th the Dragoons hosted their annual Christmas Social at the beautiful historic Buena Vista mansion in Prattville. The Dragoons welcomed members of the Montgomery Semple Camp and the Tallassee Camp and guests from Selma including the Friends of Forrest.  The Autauga County Heritage Association decorated the house with fresh Christmas greenery including a wonderful Christmas tree in the main parlor.  The Confederate Battle Flag was hung from the front porch balcony and provided a beautiful contrast to the stately white columns and the greenery hung on the railing and front doors.
Dragoons Christmas Social Program with Poinsettia
Buena Vista with Christmas Greenery and Battle Flag
Garland and the Flags on the Front Porch at Buena Vista
The Social began with the arrival and Social Hour where General Lee eggnog was enjoyed by all.  We were honored to be able to enjoy the grand piano played by Mrs. Darlene Jennings who played continuously for the hour including hymns, historical songs and Christmas carols.  Highlights included a beautiful rendition of Dixie where everyone rose and listened in silence before a rousing chorus of applause and cheers.  Mrs. Jennings then performed the Prattville Light Dragoons March perfectly to bring the Social Hour to a close before she received a warm round of applause for her performance.

Dragoons Commander Stuart Waldo then welcomed everyone and encouraged all to enjoy the house and meander about on self-guided tours as they wished.  Officers in attendance were then introduced including 1st Lt Harold Grooms, Chaplain Tom Snowden, Communications Officer Tyrone Crowley, Color Sgt Brent Jenks, Brigade Commander Bill Myrick and Flag Chariman Larry Spears.  The SCV Charge was read by Commander Waldo and then Chaplain Snowden blessed the food.  Supper was catered again by Red's Little School House including ham, squash and sweet potato casseroles, green beans, special fried cornbread and delicious desserts.  During dinner, Ms.Kim Shannon entertained everyone as she played her guitar for historical songs including The Bonnie Blue Flag and concluded her performance with the Alabama hit, Christmas in Dixie.
Commander Stuart Waldo and Wife Kerri in Period Dress
Chaplain Tom Snowden

Crowd Enjoys Music From Kim Shannon After Supper

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Confederate Soldiers Christmas Letter

The following letter was recited by Prattville Dragoons Communications Officer Tyrone Crowley at the Camp's Christmas Social and serves as a poignant reminder of the Confederate soldiers dire struggles for Southern Independence. 

Letter of Tally Simpson

From: Tally Simpson, Camp near Fredricksburg
To: Anna Simpson
Camp near Fred'burg
Dec 25th, 1862
My dear Sister
This is Christmas Day. The sun shines feebly through a thin cloud, the air is mild and pleasant, [and] a gentle breeze is making music through the leaves of the lofty pines that stand near our bivouac. All is quiet and still, and that very stillness recalls some sad and painful thoughts.

This day, one year ago, how many thousand families, gay and joyous, celebrating Merry Christmas, drinking health to absent members of their family, and sending upon the wings of love and affection long, deep, and sincere wishes for their safe return to the loving ones at home, but today are clad in the deepest mourning in memory to some lost and loved member of their circle. If all the dead (those killed since the war began) could be heaped in one pile and all the wounded be gathered together in one group, the pale faces of the dead and the groans of the wounded would send such a thrill of horror through the hearts of the originators of this war that their very souls would rack with such pain that they would prefer being dead and in torment than to stand before God with such terrible crimes blackening their characters. Add to this the cries and wailings of the mourners - mothers and fathers weeping for their sons, sisters for their brothers, wives for their husbands, and daughters for their fathers - [and] how deep would be the convictions of their consciences.
Yet they do not seem to think of the affliction and distress they are scattering broadcast over the land. When will this war end? Will another Christmas roll around and find us all wintering in camp? Oh! That peace may soon be restored to our young but dearly beloved country and that we may all meet again in happiness.
But enough of these sad thoughts. We went on picket in town a few days ago. The pickets of both armies occupy the same positions now as they did before the battle. Our regt was quartered in the market place while the others occupied stores and private houses. I have often read of sacked and pillaged towns in ancient history, but never, till I saw Fredricksburg, did I fully realize what one was. The houses, especially those on the river, are riddled with shell and ball. The stores have been broken open and deprived of every thing that was worth a shilling. Account books and nots and letters and papers both private and public were taken from their proper places and scattered over the streets and trampled under feet. Private property was ruined. Their soldiers would sleep in the mansions of the wealthy and use the articles and food in the house at their pleasure. Several houses were destroyed by fire. Such a wreck and ruin I never wish to see again.
Yet notwithstanding all this, the few citizens who are now in town seem to be cheerful and perfectly resigned. Such true patriots are seldom found. This will ever be a noted place in history.
While we were there, Brig Genl Patrick, U.S.A., with several of his aides-de-camp, came over under flag of truce. Papers were exchanged, and several of our men bought pipes, gloves, &c from the privates who rowed the boat across. They had plenty of liquor and laughed, drank, and conversed with our men as if they had been friends from boyhood.
There is nothing new going on. I am almost dead to hear from home. I have received no letters in nearly three weeks, and you can imagine how anxious I am. The mails are very irregular. I hope to get a letter soon. Dunlap Griffin is dead, died in Richmond of wounds received in the last battle. Capt Hance is doing very well. Frank Fleming is in bad condition. (He has been elected lieutenant since he left.)
Write to me quick right off. I wish to hear from you badly. Remember me to my friends and relatives, especially the Pickens and Ligons. Hoping to hear from you soon I remain
Your bud
Pres Hix cam for the remains of Nap his brother and Johnnie Garlington yesterday and will take them to Richmond today. They will be carried on home immediately. Tell Aunt Caroline Jim is getting on finely. Howdy to all the negros. I have received the bundle of clothes sent to Columbia. The bundle contained one shirt, one scarf, and two pairs of socks. At least I suppose it is the one you sent to Col[umbia] to be sent to Barnwell at Richmond. I am a thousand times obliged. When is Harry coming? Oh! that peace may soon be restored to our young but dearly beloved country and that we may all meet again in happiness.

This letter is excerpted from a book titled Far, Far From Home. a collection of letters of Dick and Tally Simpson, members of the 3rd South Carolina Volunteers.