Sunday, April 27, 2014

Prattville Dragoons Camp Picnic April 2014 - Part 3, Living History

The Prattville Dragoons annual picnic held at the Confederate Memorial Park on April 5th coincided with a Living History encampment providing displays, presentations and even a skirmish reenactment.  Following the flag setting at the cemeteries that morning, many strolled around the grounds of the park to see the presentations.  Drills were taught under the trees with wooden muskets to new recruits.  Period musical instruments including a jaw harp and banjo were played by talented musicians in their period uniforms.  A cannon reverberated thru the woods to the delight of everyone and it was echoed by volleys from the guard drilling next to the church.  Mounted cavalry led by Colonel (and Park Director) Bill Rambo moved thru the park allowing children to pet the horses.  After dinner, a reenactment skirmish was held as the culmination of the days historical educational presentations.  The Living History was held on Friday for hundreds of school children but the Dragoons enjoyed it also as a complement to their annual picnic.
Colonel Rambo Leads the Infantry
Confederate Julie in her Pink Kepi Pets a Horse on the Nose
The Cavalry at the Church in Confederate Memorial Park
Period Musicians Play the Jaw Harp and Banjo
Crowd Learning about the Artillery
Cannon with an Earsplitting Volley
Infantry Drills in the Dogwood and Magnolia Forest
Infantry Musket Volley

Friday, April 25, 2014

Alabama State Confederate Memorial Day Observances Announced for April 28th

MAY 25th - Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 62 in Selma will hold a Confederate Memorial Day service Friday April 25 at Confederate Circle in Live Oak Cemetery at 6PM. Former SCV Alabama Division commander Ronnie Simmons will be the speaker. A special invitation goes to all re-enactors and lovers of Southern heritage attending the annual Battle of Selma. It will also also be a great opportunity to view the construction work now restarted on Confederate Circle for the cemetery renovation and enhancements.

MAY 26th – 11am the Children of the Confederacy has an event at Confederate Memorial Park – Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 692 will be participating;
                        2 pm the United Daughters of the Confederacy has a flag pole event at Confederate Memorial Park;
                        2: 30 pm The Ladies Memorial Association will hold the annual service at Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery with wreath laying, speakers and Camp 692 will be participating as Honor and Color guard.

May 28th – The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Alabama Division Sons of Confederate Veterans will hold a Memorial Day program at the Alabama state capitol on Confederate Memorial Day, Monday April 28th at 10am.  The program will be held at the Confederate Monument on the state capitol grounds. The program will include guest speakers and re-enactors as well as music including bagpipes by Bob Miller of Georgia;

                        6 pm the Prattville Dragoons SCV Camp 1524 will hold a Confederate Memorial program at the Dragoons monument at the Primary School in downtown Prattville.  Bob Miller on the bagpipes will lead a procession from the Confederate monument at the courthouse the two blocks to the Dragoons monument down 4th St and Washington St.  The program will include speakers from Camp 1524 as well as a wreath laying and reenactors.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Prattville Dragoons Camp Picnic April 2014 - Part 2, Picnic and Program

The Prattville Dragoons camp picnic was held on Saturday April 5th at Confederate Memorial Park.  Following the flag setting at the cemeteries at the park that morning, historical Confederate flags were raised at the picnic shelter including the Alabama state secession flag hung from the side of the park library.  A program was held initiated with an invocation by camp Chaplain Tom Snowden.  Announcements were made by Commander Stuart Waldo including highlighting the Living History encampment with an afternoon skirmish reenactment and special admission to the park museum.  Brigade Commander Bill Myrick then swore in the camp officers for the coming year who include Waldo, Grooms, Booth, Leverette, Snowden and Sutherland.  A presentation of a check for $500 was made to Bob Bradley of the Alabama State Archives for flag preservation.  Bob provided a report on the latest flag preservation efforts which are ongoing.  Chaplain Snowden then provided beautiful gospel singing culminated by the singing of Dixie with 1st Lt. Harold Grooms.  After the blessing, ladies led the way thru the line for dinner.  A wonderful picnic spread was enjoyed including Dixie smoked butts, camp stew, sides like potato salad, beans, corn, mac n cheese and desserts including peach cobbler, banana pudding and hummingbird cake.  No one went away hungry certainly.  Tom sent everyone on their way safely with a benediction.  Many believed with the flag setting and the Living History, the camp picnic event was one of the most enjoyable yet.
Brigade Commander Bill Myrick Provided a Flag Display
Swearing-in of the Prattville Dragoons Officers
Chaplain Snowden Entertains with Gospel Music
The Spears Enjoy the Picnic Program
Presentation of Check to Bob Bradley of the Alabama State Archives
The Picnic Spread

Monday, April 21, 2014

Prattville Dragoons Camp Picnic April 2014 - Part 1, Battle Flag Setting at Cemeteries

The Dragoons held their annual picnic on Saturday April 5th at Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury, AL.  This date was a week prior to the regular date but it coincided with a Living History encampment and skirmish at the Park which made for a wonderful educational day long event with the flag setting, picnic and period displays and presentations.  At 9am members of the Prattville Dragoons and their families gathered at the Park to set Battle Flags at the graves of the 300 Confederate veterans laid to rest there.  The beautiful red, white and blue flags fluttered in the cool spring air placed at each marker on the hilltop there.  Flags were set at the two graves at the park in short order as many folks came early for this annual camp tradition to honor these brave Confederate patriot warriors.  Following the flag setting, a camp program was held including a swearing-in of the officers, a gospel singing program, presentation of a check to the Alabama State Archives for flag preservation, and the culmination with a delicious picnic dinner.  Afterwards many stayed into the afternoon to see the Living History presentations and displays and a reenactment skirmish held in the Park.
The Jones' Family Setting Flags
The Brantleys Take a Moment from Setting Flags to Smile for the Camera
Dragoons and Their Families Who Set Flags at Confederate Memorial Park
Battle Flags at Confederate Memorial Park Cemetery No.1

Saturday, April 19, 2014

SCV Heritage Defense of General Nathan Bedford Forrest - The Victory Stigma and Christian Character

Provided by Cherokee Brasher, Chief of Heritage Defense for the Alabama Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans:

The Battle of Ft Pillow Victory Stigma
By Edwin L. Kennedy, Jr. Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Ret.)
            General Nathan Forrest was declared by leaders on both sides to be one of the best commanders the war produced.  Success tends to beget emotional and irrational jealousies, especially by those who suffer from inferiority complexes.   Forrest's overwhelming victory at Fort Pillow provided a propaganda coup for the northern press as survivors' accounts were coached and embellished to denigrate a commander who could not be beaten on the battlefield.  While there may have been some truth in a few of the accusations, they were wildly distorted, exaggerated and uncritically accepted ---- even when logical explanations are considered and the results of official northern inquiries could not "prove" malice by Forrest.
            Forrest had a reputation of using deception throughout his military career.   When he threatened the garrison at Pillow, it was no different than the other ruses he had previously employed and would continue to employ.  This seems to be the crux of the criticisms of Forrest's actions leading to the use of the word "massacre" by those who conveniently over-look the fact Forrest (and his subordinates) commonly used threats to scare enemies into submission.  The fact that it worked infuriated the northerners for being duped.   When Pillow's garrison refused to succumb to the threats and then fell to assault, northerners illogically assumed that the threats were executed.   No subsequent Federal investigations ever found evidence of such.
            An enemy who appeared to be reinforcing the garrison by river during a truce meant that Forrest's forces' reaction was questioned as the truce violation when it was a natural response.  Experienced soldiers know of the difficulty of controlling attacking units, even with modern technology such as radios.  150 years ago, attacking at Ft Pillow was fourfold more difficult due to distances, background battle noise, rough terrain, and the inability of sound commands to carry.  Forces converging on an objective from multiple directions are extremely difficult to control as Forrest knew but he had no choices.   Once the assault began, it traditionally ended with the enemy surrendering, or running away.  When the Federals refused to surrender as a unit by striking the colors and then continued to resist, they garnered a natural response that wasn't a planned massacre but the result of passions in the heat of battle.  The result was an embarrassment to the Federals not only for their loss of the battle, but the high casualties resulting from their soldiers feigning surrender but recovering arms to continue fighting.   They suffered the results of their poor decisions and actions.  Forrest unfairly suffers the stigma for victory.

The Character of Nathan Bedford Forrest
By Michael Bradley, Ph.D.
            Prejudiced, White Supremacist, slave trader, rough, profane, known for violence---all these terms are often applied to Nathan Bedford Forrest.  What about Christian, prayerful, respectful of religion, church member?   Have you ever heard these terms applied to Forrest?  I suspect that you have heard them used seldom, if at all.  Yet, both sets of terms are true and both can be used to describe Nathan Bedford Forrest.  Like all of us, he was a man of many parts, a man whose parts often contradicted each other.
            Let us examine the first set of terms.  By the definitions current in the 21st Century society there are very few white people of the 19th Century who cannot be described as “prejudiced” or who would not be called a “white supremacist.”  In the 19th Century the idea that Anglo Saxon people were superior to all peoples of the world was a belief held universally in Western Europe and in North America. So, to say that Nathan Bedford Forrest was a “white supremacist” is to say that he was a typical white man who lived in the 19th Century.  He was no worse, and no better, that 99 per-cent of the rest of the people who lived during his era.
            Jack Hurst, in his biography of Forrest, says that the racial views of Forrest changed more than those of any other major character who fought in the War Between the States. During the Reconstruction period Forrest advocated that African Americans be given every opportunity to advance themselves economically and politically, Forrest appeared at public meetings and espoused these goals in political speeches. There is no documented evidence that Forrest led the KKK and it is a well-established fact that he was not one of the founders of that group. Despite the historical facts that Forrest advocated economic and political rights for African Americans the baseless lies about his racism continue to be cited.
            Bedford Forrest was a man of many parts---quick tempered, coarse of language, prone to violence when provoked; but he was also a man who possessed a sense of the spiritual and who respected the Christian religion, a respect which ripened into belief and commitment.  We cannot omit recognition of this latter fact if we wish to have an accurate view of this important, controversial historical figure.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jefferson Davis' 1884 Speech to Mississippi Legislature

Prattville Dragoons Communications Officer Tyrone Crowley again portrayed Jefferson Davis at a Confederate Memorial program in Fairhope AL on Sunday April 6th.  A service was held at the beautiful Point Clear Episcopal Church where a Roll Call was made and Tyrone provided a reenactment of Davis' speech, one of his final speeches providing an analysis of the basis for secession and the creation of the Confederate States of America and expressing an appreciation and admiration of the sacrifices those in the South and Mississippi endured in their pursuit of independence.  Following the service at the Episcopal Church, all went to the Confederate Rest cemetery at Point Clear for a musket salute and laying of commemorative flowers and wreath.

The following is Davis' speech:

Davis, Jefferson - Speech Before (a joint session of) the Mississippi Legislature in Jackson, Mississippi - 10 March 1884
FRIENDS AND BRETHREN OF MISSISSIPPI:  In briefest terms, but with deepest feeling, permit me to return my thanks for the unexpected honor you have conferred on me. ...
            We are now in a transition state, which is always a bad one, both in society and in nature.  What is to be the result of the changes which may be anticipated it is not possible to forecast, but our people have shown such fortitude and have risen so grandly from the deep depression inflicted upon them, that it is fair to entertain bright hopes for the future.  Sectional hate concentrating itself upon my devoted head, deprives me of the privileges accorded to others in the sweeping expression of "without distinction of race, color or previous condition," but it cannot deprive me of that which is nearest and dearest to my heart, the right to be a Mississippian and it is with great gratification that I received this emphatic recognition of that right by the representatives of our people.  Reared on the soil of Mississippi, the ambition of my boyhood was to do something which would redound to the honor and welfare of the State.  The weight of many years admonishes me that my day for actual service has passed, yet the desire remains undiminished to see the people of Mississippi prosperous and happy and her fame not unlike the past, but gradually growing wider and brighter as years roll away.
            'Tis been said that I should apply to the United States for a pardon, but repentance must precede the right of pardon, and I have not repented.  Remembering as I must all which has been suffered, all which has been lost, disappointed hopes and crushed aspirations, yet I deliberately say, if it were to do over again, I would again do just as I did in 1861.  No one is the arbiter of his own fate.  The people of the Confederate States did more in proportion to their numbers and means than was ever achieved by any in the world's history.  Fate decreed that they should be unsuccessful in the effort to maintain their claim to resume the grants made to the Federal Government.  Our people have accepted the decree; it therefore behooves them, as they may, to promote the general welfare of the Union to show the world that hereafter, as heretofore, the patriotism of our people is not measured by lines of latitude and longitude, but is as broad as the obligations they have assumed and embraces the whole of our oceanbound domain.  Let them leave to their children and children's children the grand example of never swerving from the path of duty, and preferring to return good for evil rather than to cherish the unmanly feeling of revenge.  But never question or teach your children to desecrate the memory of the dead by admitting that their brothers were wrong in the effort to maintain the sovereignty, freedom and independence which was their inalienable birthright.  (R)emembering that the coming generations are the children of the heroic mothers whose devotion to our cause in its darkest hour sustained the strong and strengthened the weak, I cannot believe that the cause for which our sacrifices were made can ever be lost, but rather hope that those who now deny the justice of our asserted claims will learn from experience that the fathers builded wisely and the Constitution should be constructed according to the commentaries of the men who made it.
            It having been previously understood that I would not attempt to do more than to return my thanks, which are far deeper than it would be possible for me to express, I will now, Senators and Representatives, and to you ladies and gentlemen, who have honored me by your attendance, bid you an affectionate, and it may be, a last farewell.
Confederate Honor Guard Answering to Roll Call of Confederate Dead
Tyrone Crowley Presenting Jefferson Davis' Speech to the Mississippi Legislature

UDC and SCV Participants in Memorial Service at Confederate Rest Cemetery

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Alabama Division I-65 Confederate Battle Flag Report

Former Dragoons Commander Larry Spears is the Chairman of the I-65 Flag Committee and offered the following report in the April edition of the Camp 1524 Dispatch newsletter:

I-65 Flag Site Report - by Larry Spears
            The I-65 Flag Committee and other helpful compatriots have been hard at work lately cleaning the site and making improvements. On Saturday, March 22 we met and cleaned the fence line to enhance the view of the site from Interstate 65, put herbicide on those stumps of undergrowth so they would not harass us again, cleaned up and disposed of trash, put out ant poison, did maintenance on the flagpole and other assorted tasks. The workers this day were Billy Parker, James Spears, Jeffrey Jones and his grandson Trey, Danny Smyth and Larry Spears. Trey turned out to be quite a willing worker and should be a good asset to our camp as a member some day. This was Danny’s first time to assist in work at the site and he was a tremendous benefit to us.
            On Monday, March 25, Danny Smyth and friend Mike Carter, James Spears, Billy Parker and myself gathered for more work. Danny’s friend Mike, who is a potential member, graciously provided his electrical skills to install a new ballast in one of the lights used to illuminate the flag at night. This was no small job to us amateurs but Mike expertly got it connected on the first try. We invited Mike to our picnic social this coming Saturday as our guest and also invited him to a meeting. With Billy Parker’s superb experience with the mechanics of the flag hardware and his guidance we installed a new exterior cable and new retaining rings on the pole and raised another flag. Committee member Alan Parker, a licensed landscaper, will help later in the spring when the vegetation sprouts leaves. He will spray herbicide and do whatever other jobs need doing in his field of expertise.
            I would like to remind us all that there would be no I-65 flag for us to maintain if Past Dragoon Commander and past Division 1st Lt. Commander Wyatt Willis had not used his initiative to get this flag flying back in 2005. The entire Confederation owes him a debt of thanks. Wyatt, we appreciate your unselfish and devoted work to this project!
With cleaned-up fenceline in background,
Trey Jones raises flag with Billy Parker