Monday, December 29, 2014

Conduct of the Union Army

Forwarded by SCV Ft. Blakeley Camp Commander Tommy Rhodes, December 2014, a short article by Karen Stokes.

Conduct of the Northern Army

Lately, media outlets have been giving some attention to the 150th anniversary of General William T. Sherman’s infamous march through Georgia that took place in 1864, minimizing, of course, the barbarity and criminality of his campaign. You only have to read the letters and diaries written at the time of the actual events to learn the truth of the matter, however, and memoirs written long after the fact can be just as truthful. Contemporary official military correspondence and reports document the fact that Sherman shelled Atlanta without notice, deliberately aiming his guns over the Confederate lines of defense and firing into the residential and business areas of the city, killing civilians there. Mrs. Robert Campbell, who fled her home in Bolton, Georgia to take refuge in Atlanta, recalled that during the shelling in 1864, “A shell killed a newborn baby and its mother in a house adjoining mine. I hastened into a bomb-proof, as fast as possible. As I entered the door to this shelter a sixty-pounder fell almost at my feet. Suppose it had burst, where would I have been?”
Any honest person who takes the time and trouble to study the war of 1861-1865 cannot help but perceive a striking contrast between the conduct of the Northern forces (the so-called “Grand Army of the Republic”) and the Confederate troops. The campaigns of Sherman and Sheridan were not the only demonstrations of savagery by the northern army, in whose operations the practices of wanton destruction, pillage and abuse of civilians were widespread and often systematic from beginning to end, and characterized by a ruthlessness that was all the more monstrous because it was directed at fellow Americans.
On December 11, 1862, after U.S. forces drove back the defending Confederate troops from Fredericksburg, Virginia, the town was thoroughly and pillaged and vandalized. Even churches were defaced and looted, and valuables were stolen from the Masonic lodge in which George Washington had once been a member. Colonel William Davie DeSaussure of the 15th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment was proud of his men who, despite their own lack of food and clothing, contributed several hundred dollars for the relief of the civilians of Fredericksburg, “pitiable refugees” whose homes and been plundered by the Federal soldiers who occupied the town.
In the summer of 1863, the 15th S.C. Infantry Regiment was in Pennsylvania with the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of General Robert E. Lee. Lee’s ragged, malnourished men were suffering from scurvy, and their horses were starving. In dire need of food, clothing, and equipment, the army foraged extensively in Pennsylvania, obtaining essential military supplies including horses, mules, wagons, shoes, and livestock, and helping themselves to such in Federal property in government warehouses and depots. Lee, however, instructed his men to pay for anything they took from civilians. A newspaper reported, for example, that the entire stock from a boot and shoe dealer’s store in Mechanicsburg was cleaned out by soldiers who paid the merchant $4,000 in Confederate money for the footwear. Anyone who declined payment was nevertheless issued a copy of a receipt. Lee also issued an order which forbade “the wanton destruction of private property.” His hungry soldiers often availed themselves of large amounts of poultry and livestock from houses and farms while foraging for subsistence (not spoils), sometimes without paying, but these orders were generally followed, especially as far as “wanton destruction” was concerned.
Franklin Gaillard, a Confederate officer from South Carolina who served in Lee’s army, wrote home to his son on June 18, 1863, that General Lee had “issued very stringent orders” concerning the treatment of private property. Gaillard added: “He is very right for our Army would soon become demoralized if they were allowed to do as many of them would like to. Many of them think it hard that they should not be allowed to treat them [the Pennsylvanians] as their soldiers treated our people.”
While the Confederates were in control of Gettysburg, they searched the town for horses and foodstuffs, but, with few exceptions, left most other civilian property undisturbed. A Confederate officer there, Captain Barziza, described the contrast between Gettysburg and Fredericksburg:
Whilst in Gettysburg, I could not but remark the difference between the conduct of our army and that of the enemy in invading our country. Here stood the town, after three day’s hard fighting around and in it, almost entirely untouched. No wanton destruction of property of any description could be seen; no women and children complained that they were homeless and beggars. Then I called to mind the scenes around the city of Fredericksburg the winter previous; private houses sacked and burned, books, furniture, and everything perishable utterly destroyed; women flying from burning houses with children in their arms, and insult and outrage at full license.

About Karen Stokes

Karen Stokes is an archivist and writer in Charleston, S.C. She is the co-editor of Faith, Valor and Devotion: The Civil War Letters of William Porcher Dubose (USC Press, 2010), and A Confederate Englishman: The Civil War Letters of Henry Wemyss Feilden (USC Press, 2013). She is also the author of South Carolina Civilians in Sherman's Path (History Press, 2012), and The Immortal 600: Surviving Civil War Charleston and Savannah (History Press, 2013). Belles: A Carolina Love Story (Ring of Fire, 2012), was her first venture into historical fiction, and her newest historical novel is The Soldier's Ghost: A Tale of Charleston (Ring of Fire, 2014). 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Anniversary of the Trent Affair - the U.S. Avoids War with Britain

Forwarded by Dragoon Bill Branch, a synopsis of the Trent Affair from the Fold3 blog posted Dec 2, 2014.

The U.S. Avoids War with Britain: December 26, 1861

On December 26, 1861, President Lincoln and his cabinet decided to release imprisoned Confederate envoys James Mason and John Slidell in order to avoid the possibility of war with Britain, thus concluding the diplomatic uproar known as the Trent Affair.
It all started when an overzealous Union commander, Charles Wilkes, stopped a British mail ship, the Trent, in the Caribbean on November 8. Wilkes knew that the ship was carrying Mason and Slidell on their way to Europe to argue the Confederacy’s case in London and Paris. Wilkes had the Trent boarded, and Mason and Slidell (and their two secretaries) were illegally removed from the ship. (To make it legal, Wilkes would’ve had to capture the ship as well and take it to a maritime prize court to have the legality of the seizure decisively determined—but Wilkes only took the two men and not the ship.)

When Wilkes made it back to America with the four Confederates in tow, the nation was ecstatic, with the Secretary of the Navy expressing his thanks and Congress even awarding him a gold medal for his actions. Not only had the United States thumbed its nose at the Confederacy, but at Britain as well, who was seen as having Southern sympathies. But when news reached Britain of the men’s capture, the reaction was opposite of the Americans’—everyone was outraged, particularly since it wasn’t initially clear if this breach of Britain’s neutrality was done with the sanction of the U.S. government.
Tensions escalated until soon both sides were talking about the possibility of war. To show the United States its breach of Britain’s neutrality had been serious, Britain ordered thousands of troops to sail to Canada and sent the Americans a dispatch (via the British minister to the United States) that implied repercussions unless the U.S. government apologized and released Mason, Slidell, and the secretaries.
After two days of meetings, on December 25 and 26, Secretary of State William Seward convinced Lincoln and his cabinet to agree to release the four Confederates from prison. So on January 1, Mason and Slidell were allowed to resume their journey to Europe, thus averting the threat of war.

For the full official correspondence regarding the Trent Affair, see Fold3’s Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, series 1, volume 1, pages 129–202. Or search Fold3 for other people and topics that interest you.

Friday, December 26, 2014

One More Christmas Wish

The Prattville Dragoons, Camp 1524 Sons of Confederate Veterans want to wish everyone Happy Holidays and hope you had a very Merry Christmas.  Here are some images from the final Christmas lead up event of this season, the Vida community Christmas parade.  The Dragoons had a good contingent with Tyrone Crowley carrying an Alabama secession flag, Adjutant Wayne Sutherland carrying the large Confederate Battle Flag flown at Buena Vista a week prior, past Commander Larry Spears carrying the camp banner with Commander Stuart Waldo, past Commander Wyatt Willis also walked the parade route throwing candy.  Danny Smyth drove his truck with a replica cannon in the back and Treasurer Billy Leverette rode along tossing candy.  Al Booth and his wife and daughter in law with her beautiful new baby girl were also there at this terrific community event.  The prior day was rainy and the morning of the parade, Saturday December 20th was still damp and cool just after noon for the parade but the rain stopped and the cooler temperatures actually made it comfortable to wear the woolen period clothing Tyrone, Larry and Stuart wore.  The parade started at the Vida community center and went out back toward Hwy 82 and then doubled back to the community center.  Hundreds lined the road clamoring for candy and of course the mini Confederate Battle Flags and SCV coins went fast.  The Dragoon entry was among the only who walked the route but there were fire trucks and floats and classic cars and tractors and all sorts of entries.  After the parade, the wonderful folks of Vida fed the parade participants and spectators including barbeque and chili and potato salad and beans and a huge assortment of desserts.  A great time to wrap up a full season of holiday events leading up to a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2014

December Indian Hills Cleanup

Members of Camp 1524 tackled more cleanup work at Prattville's historic Indian Hills cemetery on Saturday December 13th, the morning after the camp's Christmas Social at Buena Vista.  The weather started cool but the work and the debris bonfires warmed everyone up by mid morning. Dragoon Benny Harris coordinated the project again and great effort was put forth and progress was shown.  Bill Branch brought his tractor with boom and was able to move all of the large cut trees to the fires.  1st Lt Grooms again demonstrated tireless energy in clearing brush and using his chainsaw all morning.  Commander Waldo on light duty raked leaves from the bordered burial plots and around the fires.  Adjutant Sutherland sacrificed his back and worked with Bill and Harold in moving all the large logs.  Skip Ward brought a friend and they too helped with this commendable work.  Even an interested passerby stopped and was promptly put to work with a wheelbarrow. A crisp winter breeze blew a couple embers from the fires unintentionally helping to burn off leaves on occasion but the Dragoons policed the area albeit with some smoke inhalation.  Indian Hills is the final resting place for 39 souls including original Dragoon Lt. A.Y. Smith.  A number of graves date to the 1840s.  The Dragoons hope to complete the Indian Hills cleanup and renovation to rededicate the cemetery in April on next year.
Grooms Pushing Wheelbarrow with Harris and Sutherland

Bill Branch and Tractor

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Editorial by Dragoon Charlie Graham Regarding Racial Issues in the South

Published in the December 19th edition of the Montgomery Advertiser.

Racial issues hardly confined to South
             In 1641 Massachusetts was the first American colony to legally endorse slavery through its Body of Liberties. 150 years later in the census of 1790 it was the first state to register no slaves.

Jim Crow and Black Codes are routinely attributed to Southern culture. Some of the earliest Southern Black Codes were established by federal Gen. Ben Butler while he occupied New Orleans during the War Between The States. These codes were patterned after some of America’s earliest, established by Massachusetts in the early 1700s. Massachusetts wasn’t doing anything that wasn’t done by all of the other colonial states of the time.

Contrary to popular advocating, the elements of racial disparities do not begin and end in the South. If one is to believe that the national sentiment is exhibited through decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, we must examine the Plessy vs. Ferguson 7- decision in 1896. The Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions that states could maintain separate black and white cars on intrastate trains and facilities.

This was 30 years after the war. The 13th and 14th Amendments were in existence. The “separate but equal” mantra of segregation was thereby established and remained in effect until the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision .
            To explore the intrinsic collective roots of prejudice, one must exit the Southern enclave of alleged iniquity and wander around in the North for 400 years. One may also discover some unaddressed prejudice against Southerners embellished with hypocrisy.
 Charlie Graham

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dragoons Celebrate Christmas

Dragoons Celebrate Christmas!

Autauga County Heritage Association’s antebellum mansion Buena Vista was the perfect setting for the Prattville Dragoon Christmas party December 12th.  Upon arrival Dragoons, their ladies and guests were treated to piano music courtesy of ACHA’s own Mrs. Debra Davis.  Next was a delicious Christmas meal including ham, scalloped potatoes, squash casserole and butter beans catered by Red’s Little School House of Ramer, Alabama.  After dinner Mrs. Beverly Byard who manages Buena Vista provided a history of the grand old home followed by Mrs. Kerri Waldo reading a letter from a 1906 edition of the “Confederate Veteran” magazine describing Christmas during the War Between the States through the eyes of two little girls whose property was occupied by the Yankees.  Reverend Tom Snowden, Camp Chaplain, then led the group in singing traditional Christmas Carols and went solo on "Mary Did You Know" and "Star of Bethlehem".

Spirits were raised even higher when the “Jolly Old Man from the North Pole” arrived giving out candy canes for good little Dragoons who had distinguished themselves in various ways, including helping with the ongoing community service project of restoring Indian Hills Cemetery.  Then the unthinkable happened!  The Grinch arrived vowing to steal Christmas!  Disgusted, Santa proclaimed he had tried bringing the Grinch a lump of coal and ashes and switches.  Nothing had worked.  He then called on law enforcement personnel present at the event.  Fortunately retired State Trooper Karl Wade was in attendance.  He promptly informed the Grinch that stealing was against the law, put the varmint in hand cuffs, and had him sent straight to jail.  Children in Autauga County can rest easy knowing the Grinch is in no position to ruin Christmas, thanks to Trooper Wade and the Prattville Dragoons (and the SCV Semple camp’s Henry Howard as Santa and 1st Lt Harold Grooms, the dastardly Grinch)!

The Prattville Dragoons Camp 1524 Sons of Confederate Veterans wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Buena Vista
A Confederate Christmas Story

Santa Claus

Dragoons in Period Dress

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas in the South - Children of the Confederacy at Confederate Memorial Park

The Alabama Division Children of the Confederacy presented their annual program at Confederate Memorial Park in Mountain Creek on Saturday December 6th.   The theme of their program was "Christmas in the South".  The program included posting of the colors with a Color Guard provided by SCV Camp 692, Cradle of the Confederacy out of Montgomery followed by pledges to the flags.  The CofC creed was presented followed by a welcome by Mr. John Appleton, President of the AL Division CofC. Additional welcomes and greetings were extended by other CofC and UDC and SCV officers including SCV AL Division Commander Gary Carlyle. The Children of the Confederacy then presented the Christmas Program which included songs like "Angels Among Us" and Commander Carlyle led the children in carols and "Christmas in Dixie".   Ornaments were placed on a Christmas tree in the Memorial Park chapel there where the program was held and Santa Claus paid a visit giving each child a gift bag with delicious holiday treats inside.  The program closed with a Benediction and Retiring of the Colors.  A wreath was laid at the Confederate Veterans cemetery across the road.  A wonderful Confederate Christmas event.
Confederate Memorial Chapel with Christmas Wreaths and Tree

Commander Waldo's Daughter in the Confederate Veterans Cemetery

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Prattville Dragoons Camp News - December 2014

Forrest Commemorative Coin Available
            The group Citizens To Save Our Parks in Memphis is offering a commemorative coin as a fundraiser to help in its efforts to prevent the re-naming of Forrest Park, Confederate Park, and Jefferson Davis Park by the Memphis City Council.  See and click on "Background" for more information.  If you are interested, see the above website and click on "Merchandise".  Communications Officer Tyrone Crowley has some hard-copy printouts.  The coin is $11, shipping included.
"Audio Movie" About the CSS Alabama Available on Internet
            A very creative fellow named Robert Lloyd has created some interesting and educational "audio movies" about "Heroes in History", one of whom is famed Confederate Admiral Rapahel Semmes.  If you are interested, the link to the "audio movie" about Semmes and the CSS Alabama ("scourge of the Union Navy") is  The story starts in World War II with a short piece about a descendant of Admiral Raphael Semmes, then moves on to the story of the CSS Alabama.

South-Loving Abbeville Institute Available on Internet

            At its Scholars' Conference in Charleston back in November, Dr. Clyde Wilson of the Abbeville Institute received the R E Lee Award from SCV National Commander Michael Givens.  There is lots of thought-provoking material for Confederate-heritage lovers on the Abbeville Institute website at  Institute president Dr. Donald Livingston, familiar to us from S D Lee Institute lecture series, states that there are two American traditions, the Lincolnian and the Jeffersonian, and that the "Southern tradition" is simply "a regional version of the older Jeffersonian Americanism".  Look at this website, browse its varied material, and consider joining.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Prattville Dragoons Upcoming Events - December 2014

Upcoming Events
Work Day at Indian Hills Cemetery - Saturday 13 December 2014, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.  All Dragoons are encouraged to come and help, for any amount of time they choose. From the junction of Highways 82 and 14 in west Prattville, go north (toward Tuscaloosa) on Highway 82 for two miles.  Turn left onto County Road 86.  Go 1.6 miles and you'll see Indian Hills Cemetery on your left. The Dragoons continue the Indian Hills Cemetery cleanuo on December 13th following a series of workdays in the fall in anticipation of a cemetery rededication in the spring. This effort has caused a local couple, Lawrence and Angela Chandler, to donate $75 to the Dragoon Treasury, in appreciation for our work at Indian Hills.  Thanks to 1Lt Cmdr Harold Grooms, the project has also received good coverage in the Prattville Progress and the Autauga Free Press (new online news source at
Prattville Christmas Social and Dinner, Friday 12 December 2014, 6-9 p.m.  Reservations required. 
Lee-Jackson Dinner 16 January 2015, 6:30 p.m. - Dalraida Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, Montgomery.  Sponsored by Semple Camp SCV Camp 2002. Attendees will enjoy a rib-eye steak dinner and a fine program. The Semple Camp supports the Dragoons Christmas Social and Camp 1524 reciprocates by attending the Lee-Jackson Dinner the following month. This is always an enjoyable social event. Any questions contact Semple Camp Communications Officer Alan Parker.
S D Lee Institute Lectures, 6-7 Feb 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  For information and to register, see

Confederate Circle Dedication, 23 May 2015, Old Live Oak Cemetery, Selma - This will be the culmination of a couple of years of dedicated effort to renovate and enhance this very historic site.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dragoons Announce December 2014 Christmas Social

THE DRAGOON'S MEETING THIS MONTH WILL BE THE ANNUAL CHRISTMAS SOCIAL, Friday, 12 December 2014, 6:00-9 p.m. at Buena Vista (Montgomery House, for Confederates).  Registration is required. There will be plenty to eat, provided by Red’s Little School House, live music by Prattvillian Mrs. Deborah Davis, a program led by Commander Stuart Waldo, a sing-along with Chaplain Tom Snowden, all the socializing you want, and the antebellum holiday atmosphere of the seasonally-decorated house.  There may be a surprise event or two and you never know if Santa may appear.

Door prizes will be drawn as part of the program. Beverly Byard of the Autauga Historical Society will provide a history of Buena Vista and there will be Christmas season readings.
As usual, guests will be offered a sample of General Lee Egg Nog (compliments of your Dragoon officers), and early arrivals can enjoy the social hour before food is served.  At 7, we will enjoy a delicious catered meal provided by Red’s Little School House in Ramer followed by the program.  The mansion will be open during the social hour and for a short time after the program for event attendees to tour the period home and furnishings.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dragoons Participate in the Prattville Christmas Parade

On Monday 1 December, a good time was had by all at the Prattville Christmas Parade.  Coins, candy, and miniature Battle Flags were well-received by parade spectators and children, as were all our flags (Bonnie Blue, Confederate National Flags, and Battle Flag) carried by members of the Wetumpka League of the South group who joined the Dragoons for the community event.  There are always lots of positive comments for the Dragoon entry, including "rebel yells" and cheers and applause from the crowds. The crowd was huge with parts of Main Street virtually blocked by children clamoring for candy, coins and flags. Confederate Navy reenactor Shannon Fontaine of Wetumpka also participated with our group. The effort was led by Dragoon Commander Stuart Waldo, who provided the truck to tow the trailer (provided by Bill Myrick, along with a generator for the decorative lights) and brought along his whole family to sit on the float in period dress. Other essential operatives are Adjutant Wayne Sutherland and Quartermaster Bill Myrick, who manage all the physical details of getting the float decorated. Treasurer Billy Leverette rode in the truck for the parade and provided the sound system, which plays a soundtrack with "Christmas in Dixie", and other favorites on it. Communications Officer Tyrone Crowley and his wife Carol participated in the parade along with 1st Lt. Harold Grooms.  Harold, Bill Thompson and Bill Myrick walked the parade route allowing them to interface with the crowds.  Wayne and Brigade Commander David Brantley carried the camp banner. The float included lights and garland and a Christmas tree and provided hay bales on which riders could sit. As was said before, a good time was had by all and a splendid way to open the Christmas season!
Dragoons 2014 Prattville Christmas Parade Entry

Kerri and kids Sitting Near the Christmas Tree

Bill and Tyrone Riding in the Truck for the Parade

Quartermaster Bill Myrick in front of the Dragoon Float

David and Wayne Carrying the Camp Christmas Banner

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Prattville Dragoons SCV Camp 1524 Commander's Column for December 2014

I have mentioned in previous columns that I take interest in listening to Kevin Elkins radio program on 1440 AM early mornings.  He is a former Army Ranger and owns a computer repair business in Montgomery.  Kevin comes across as a pretty conservative guy and a marked contrast to most of his callers on most social and political issues.   So I was listening attentively recently when they were discussing the proposed new Walmart which would be located on the old Bonnie Crest golf course property.  Kevin is a resident in that area and is opposed to that proposed construction.  In defending his position, I was waiting for him to explain that he didn’t want the extra traffic congestion but his statement was that he didn’t want “those type of people” milling about in the area.  The loitering and increased crime brought about when people from outside your neighborhood commute into an area for retail shopping or gambling or other causes concerns Kevin as it would us too in our own backyards.  Interesting to hear his thoughts on these issues which impact his community there where he resides.   Another caller during the same show stated, “My mother told me not to associate with people I don’t like”.   We have lost control of being able to determine locally what is best for our families and neighborhoods and had political correctness forced upon us where we cannot oppose objectionable lifestyles and must seemingly embrace any and all offensive sodalities. 

It is a refreshing affirmation when we still can enjoy a fraternity of like-minded individuals such as the Prattville Dragoons.  I too would rather not associate with people who offend my moral compass and who militantly espouse social and political views juxtaposed to mine.  I want to insulate and protect my family and provide for them as I see fit.  The Sons of Confederate inherently provides an organization of shared common interests.  We come from Southern stock and are heirs to the beliefs and ideals which our forefathers shared as the foundation of a culture and the bedrock for a nation, the Confederate States of America.  The last issue of the Confederate Veteran contained an article again highlighting the differences between the historical culture of the North and South and their peoples and how these differences impacted Reconstruction and the subsequent American century following.  The article provided examples of how the Southern representatives voted largely as a political block based on their fundamental beliefs in a limited self-government in an attempt to resist progressivism.  The geopolitical map clearly illustrates the red and blue states separated into distinct regions, the South, Midwest, Southwest, West Coast and New England.  Thank goodness for Sweet Home Alabama.  Thank God for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, our families, friends and neighbors.

This is a wonderful time of the year to fraternize with compatriots at numerous holiday events.  The Dragoons and their guests from the Wetumpka League of the South had a marvelous time at the Prattville Christmas parade on Monday.  Again, our float and contingent was met with cheers and hundreds of Confederate flags and SCV coins along with bags of candy were dispersed and heartily enjoyed by the crowds lining the downtown streets.  The annual Christmas Social at the beautiful historic Buena Vista mansion is approaching and offers another opportunity to enjoy a program with Christmas dinner and General Lee eggnog with friends from our camp and around the region.  The Vida Christmas parade and Millbrook Mardi Gras parade are also quickly approaching.  All excellent opportunities to enjoy the spirit of the season and festive events with fellow SCV members and our neighbors.  I hope you and yours enjoy a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a wonderful holiday season.

Stuart Waldo, Commander