Monday, December 27, 2010

New Discoveries for the New Year

This week, two interesting news stories broke in regard to the War Between the States. It was announced that descendants of John Wilkes Booth are exhuming his brother's body in order to obtain DNA. It will then be compared to the person thought to be buried as John Wilkes Booth. Speculation has circulated since his death (he was shot in a barn two weeks after assassinating President Abraham Lincoln) that an impostor was actually shot, and that the real JWB escaped and lived until 1903, when he committed suicide in Enid, Oklahoma under the assumed name of John St. Helen. Theories exist that he was a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle, an elite group of Confederates who concealed Booth's identity and assisted in his escape.

Another discovery concerns a message in a bottle. The find was given to the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia in 1896. It was a gift from Capt. William A. Smith, of King George County, who served during the Vicksburg siege. The message, dated July 4, 1863, was encrypted, and the curator of the museum finally became curious enough to find out what was inside the tiny 2" bottle. Essentially, the author, who is believed to have been Maj. Gen. John G. Walker, of the Texas Division, and who had under his command William Smith, the donor of the bottle, stated that he was unable to provide support to General Pemberton, the Confederate General who was under siege in Vicksburg, Mississippi. It was on that same day that the Confederate army surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant's Union forces.|htmlws-main-n|dl1|sec1_lnk3|192058

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas One and All!

Here's to wishing everyone a very merry Christmas. I realize that I am being unconventional by not stating "Happy Holidays," but I have a different take on all the political correctness. It is my opinion that you shouldn't say happy holidays merely to avoid offending those who aren't Christians. I tell everyone merry Christmas to celebrate my own Christianity. That is my belief and I should not be forced to be ashamed of it.

That being said, remember the familiar adage that Jesus is the reason for the season. If you have the opportunity, attend a church service on Christmas Eve. I guarantee that it will inspire you. For all those who have suffered loss this year, God bless you. And a very special "Merry Christmas" to our armed forces personnel, who are far from home, missing their families.


Monday, December 20, 2010

And So It Begins

Today marks the 150th anniversary of South Carolina's secession from the Union, and the escalating events that led to America's greatest tragedy, the Civil War. In 1860, the governor of South Carolina recommended that, if Lincoln was elected, the only honorable thing to do would be to secede. So on December 17, which would have been 150 years ago last Friday, delegates to the South Carolina Convention met in Columbia. Because of a smallpox outbreak, the convention was adjourned until the 20th, and an Ordinance of Secession was passed within hours. The vote was 169 in favor to zero opposed.

The wife of one of South Carolina's senators, Mary Chesnut, was traveling home by train when she heard the news "...that Lincoln was elected and our fate sealed." She also wrote that "South Carolina had been ... rampant for years. She was the torment of herself and everybody else ... South Carolina had exasperated and heated themselves (sic) into a fever that only a bloodletting could ever cure." Judge Pettigru, who was possibly the only Unionist in the state, remarked that "South Carolina is too small for a republic but too big for an insane asylum."

It wouldn't be long before several other southern states joined South Carolina in the cause. From here on out, I will be documenting these events as they occurred over the course of a four-year span. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

UDC Christmas

Last Monday night, my United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter (Varina Howell Davis #2559 in Horn Lake, Mississippi) celebrated Christmas with our annual party. We had a good turnout, and enjoyed lots of great food, friendship, and games! We also participated in a secret Santa gift exchange.

The ladies of the UDC have much to celebrate. This year we participated in the Southaven Christmas parade, and recently learned that our float placed FIRST PLACE! We deserve it after traveling the parade route (4 miles) in frigid Mississippi December weather, over hill and dale, and overcoming a locked vehicle. Fortunately, no one fell down this year!

My chapter also participated in Southern Lights, which is a Southaven tradition. The UDC works one night at the gate each year, and this is one of our primary money makers. It is my understanding that we collected enough to make our goal this year. The Christmas season is indeed a special one when we have so many friends to celebrate it with.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Battle of Fredericksburg

Monday marks the 148th anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia. It was during this battle that Burnside's Union forces faced defeat at the hands of General Lee's Confederates, who were entrenched on Marye's Heights. The Yankees were literally mowed down, and during the course of the bitter cold night, suffered tremendously, their cries and moans echoing in the still December air to the distraught ears of the Rebels.

One remarkable soldier laid his life on the line to assist the poor soldiers he was fighting against. This is a profound gesture, because the Union soldiers had pillaged the town upon their arrival, driving the remaining citizens into the woods to fend for themselves. Private Richard Rowland Kirkland, only nineteen years old, ventured out onto the battlefield to offer fallen Yankees sips of water from his canteen. Because of his bravery, he is forever known as "The Angel of Marye's Heights." He was killed a year later at the Battle of Chickamauga.

The battlefield has been honorably preserved, as has a house that survived the midst of battle and still has bullet hole pock mark scars to prove it. My novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, discusses the battle, and the remarkable thing that occurred afterward. Once the fighting had ceased, Northern Lights became visible in the winter sky. This was extremely unusual, as they are normally not seen that far south. The Confederates took it as a sign from God that he approved of their victory.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blandford Church

While on a recent trip through Virginia, I was able to visit the historic Blandford Church, located in Petersburg. The church is nearly as old as Virginia itself, having been built in 1735. It sat vacant for nearly a century, from 1800 to 1900, but during the War Between the States, it was used as a field hospital. The structure is a simple one-story, with a balcony that was later taken out.

After the war, Louis Tiffany was commissioned to create stained glass windows in honor of the southern states, each one portrayed by a saint. These include St. John for Virginia, St. Peter for Missouri, St Mark for South Carolina, St. Bartholomew for North Carolina, St. Paul for Louisiana, St James for Mississippi, St. Philip for Tennessee, St. Thomas for Georgia, St. Matthew for Florida, St. Luke for Texas, and St. Andrew for Alabama. Two smaller windows at the back of the church represent Arkansas and Maryland. Every saint has subtle details included within the window. There is also a poem etched in pencil on one of the walls, which is thought to have been composed by either Edgar Allen Poe or Tyrone Powers.

There are only five states that have Tiffany glass windows, and they are in Virginia, New York (which has two), Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Outside the church is a cemetery where 30,000 Confederate soldiers are buried. The cemetery's entrance is marked by a huge granite arch. There are no weekly services conducted, but the church does hold wedding and summer services, as well as a Sons of Confederates Christmas program. This year's program is entitled, "The Winter of 1864," and letters from soldiers will be read. If you have the opportunity, visit this beautiful, amazing old church.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tis the Season!

Now that it is December, the holidays are officially upon us. I always hesitate to say that until November has passed: contradictory to retailers who can’t wait to push the holidays on us by displaying Christmas trees and decorations in their stores even before Halloween. It seems like an atrocity, even though I understand where they’re coming from, but they are missing the whole point by being money motivated. Money is not the reason for the season!

I feel very fortunate this year in that I will be able to spend the holidays with most of my family and close friends. It is a big deal for me since my family is scattered across the country. This year, I will be able to see my youngest son’s annual Christmas concert for the first time, see my oldest son’s new home, and be able to experience California in December.

However, my parents will be spending Christmas in a nursing home. Since my dad’s fall last summer, his health hasn’t improved significantly, and my mom will spend Christmas and New Year’s in the nursing home with him, just like she did on Thanksgiving … alone. No relatives will make their way over there because of various reasons (too busy, too emotional, bad weather, too far away – yeah I’m guilty of that one). So please keep them in your prayers, as well as those who are suffering loss this time of year, be it the loss of a job, a home, a loved one, or a relationship.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Another Fascinating Discovery

Recently, a site relating to the War Between the States was discovered in Georgia. This time, it was a Confederate prison used for Union POW's. The prison was occupied for a short time before closing in 1864, when prisoners were relocated to South Carolina to avoid Sherman's "March to the Sea."

Specifically, the camp, which was referred to as "Camp Lawton" because it was near Lawton, Georgia, replaced Andersonville in the fall of 1864. The camp was just as foul, and was only used for six weeks. During that time, approximately 725 to 1,330 men perished. The number is unknown because the deceased were tossed into a mass grave, which the Union soldiers discovered in December 1864. Only a board beside a freshly-dug plot, stating "650 buried here," marked their remains. Enraged, Union troops burned the prison to the ground, as well as a hotel and depot in nearby Millen. No photo exists of the camp, but a Union mapmaker named Private Robert Knox Sneden painted watercolor pictures and kept a journal detailing life in Lawton while he was imprisoned there.

The site was lost for nearly 150 years, but was discovered by Georgia Southern University students who were exploring a state park and federal fish hatchery in Lawton. They found prisoners' personal artifacts such as silverware and coins, as well as the exact location of the prison's stockade. Archeologists have proclaimed that the find is "one of the most significant Civil war discoveries in decades."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I would like to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. The last Thursday of November was proclaimed a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln on October 3, 1863, thus commemorating "a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." It took nearly a century before some cities in the South, such as Vicksburg, Mississippi, finally acknowledged the holiday.

Only a week earlier, on November 19, 1863, President Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg to dedicate a national cemetery that was being established to bury Union soldiers who had met their demise there. Everyone is (or should be) familiar with his Gettysburg Address. After delivering his famous speech, which he considered to be "a few appropriate remarks," he was heard to have stated, "I failed, I failed, and that is about all that can be said about it." This was because of the poor reception he received following his speech, but little did he know that his words would become one of the most famous addresses in American history.

With that, let us all give thanks for what we are blessed with. Sometimes it is difficult to perceive the blessings we receive, just as Mr. Lincoln failed to perceive the potency of his words at the time. Many have friends and/or family who are dealing with the loss of loved ones or other critical situations in their lives. During this holiday season, please pray for them, as well as our military personnel.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

UDC National Convention (pt. 5)

Sunday night, November 7, following dinner at the United Daughters of the Confederacy National Convention in Richmond, I managed to contract a stomach virus, and paid for it all night. I learned later that the bug was going around, but at the time, I wasn't sure if it was food poisoning. After suffering for 72 hours, I realized that it wasn't food poisoning after all.

Monday was the final day of the convention, but I spent the entire time in bed while other members voted in new officers. Our Mississippi president was elected national vice president. Fortunately, one of the ladies had an extra bed to provide me before we departed the Omni Hotel on Monday evening and headed back to Charlottesville, spotting several white-tailed deer along the way.

In the morning, we went out for breakfast, departed Lake Monticello, and headed to Appomattox Courthouse. Wilmer McLean's house has been restored, as have several other outbuildings at the tavern, located at a crossroads intersection. The road where Confederate soldiers lined up to surrender their arms still exists. The buildings were in severe decay when restoration began. Mr. McLean lived at the home for five years after the war until his debt forced him to move back to Northern Virginia, where his wife owned a home. From that time until the 1970's, the house and surrounding buildings stood vacant. Restoration is still in process.

We reached Knoxville, where we spent the night, and continued on to Mississippi the following day. Hence, our big trip came to an end. Even though I fell sick, it was still the trip of a lifetime, and I'm glad I went! Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen.

Monday, November 22, 2010

UDC National Convention (pt. 4)

Sunday morning, November 7 was bright and sunny. My group decided to head over to Hollywood Cemetery, where we made a tour for ourselves, taking in the sights. The Confederate monument shaped like a pyramid was awesome, as was seeing the graves of Jeb Stuart, Jefferson Davis and Varina Howell Davis, my chapters' namesake. Somehow we missed Pickett's grave site, but we saw enough old Victorian headstones to make up for it,and the fall colors were brilliant.

We returned to the hotel in time to change and board the bus for a memorial service, which was held at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond. This church has seen a lot of history in its day ... Jefferson Davis was in a Sunday morning service when a courier delivered the news that Robert E. Lee was pulling his troops from Richmond. Once the service was over, President Davis ordered that the city be evacuated and departed himself later that day. We then continued our tour onto the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

On Sunday evening, we congregated in the large convention hall again for a silent auction, dinner, and entertainment by Doug Lothes, who gave us his interpretation of "Gone With the Wind in 20 Minutes." His performance was absolutely hilarious! He portrayed each of the characters himself while adding his own flair. It was a very fun evening, until ...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

UDC National Convention (pt. 3)

Friday morning, November 5 in Richmond consisted of one meeting after another. I set up shop in the corner of a vendor's table and commenced to selling my novel while enjoying the crowd, as well as the other vendors. The hats were awesome! At lunchtime, the UDC ladies dined on salads and listened to entertainment provided by a local author who portrayed his character.

Following an afternoon of more meetings, we congregated after supper in the large convention hall. Each state who had representatives present at the convention had their flag carried in, whereby the ladies from that state sang their state song. It was very inspirational. After the display, Mrs. Ruth Ann Coski spoke about Varina Howell Davis. I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Coski, and gave her a copy of my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, to pass on to her husband, John, who assisted me in my writing in research.

On Saturday, the ladies partook in more meetings. My small group of Mississippi Ma'ams found a very cool restaurant down the street, which looked to be as old as Richmond itself, and served the best hamburgers! On Saturday evening, we dressed up and gathered in the large convention hall for the President's Dinner, where live musicians (Civil War era, of course) entertained us.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

UDC National Convention (pt. 2)

My escapades with the UDC ladies continued. On Thursday, November 4, after spending the night in Charlottesville, we traveled on toward Richmond through heavy rainfall, traffic, and ominous darkness. Amazingly, we arrived at the Omni Hotel, checked in to our wonderful room, and made it back downstairs in time to board the tour bus, which took us to the state Capitol Building. A tour guide gave us the insights as to Jefferson Davis' time spent there, as well as many other patriots who resided within its Romanesque-like walls.

Following a quick lunch, we rode the bus to Petersburg, and toured the amazing Blandford Church. Following the Civil War, the infamous Louis Tiffany was commissioned to create stained glass windows for the church, each one representing a state of the Confederacy. Needless to say, the sight was inspiring. We boarded the bus, rode through the ancient cemetery surrounding the church, and embarked back to Richmond, where we toured the Museum of the Confederacy.

I have been to the museum once before, but this time was even more insightful. It's like most things in life: you see it once and you remember certain things, but when you see it again, you absorb so much more. I noticed paintings I hadn't remembered seeing before, and the portrait of General Robert E. Lee was almost spooky, because his eyes seemed to follow me wherever I was in the room! My "partner in crime" persuaded one of the vendors to share their table, and so I was established to sell my novels at a small end corner of one of the tables. Thus began the convention ...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

UDC National Convention

Last weekend (Nov. 4-9) was the national United Daughters of the Confederacy General convention. This year, the event took place in Richmond, which only seems appropriate, since that city was the capital for the Confederacy during the War Between the States. Over the course of the next several installations, I will discuss the convention, as well as Richmond itself, and all of the amazing history that exists there.

I departed from Mississippi on Tuesday with three other ladies, two of which belong to the Varina Howell Davis chapter of the UDC with me (I am an associate member, but I prefer to refer to myself as an "honorary member"). After a day of driving through Tennessee, we reached the border of Virginia, and immediately, my spirits were lifted. I have only been to Virginia twice before, but every time I go there, I get an overwhelming feeling that I have been there in a previous life. The beauty of the state always awes and inspires me.

After spending the night in Wytheville, we proceeded the next day toward Charlottesville. En route, we traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was amazing, adorned in colorful fall foliage. Some of these photos can attest to the awe-inspiring beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Battle of Collierville

This weekend, a reincarnated event will take place near Collierville, Tennessee. The reenactment of the Battle of Collierville will again be held at Piperton Hills, the former Twin Hills Ranch, which is 2.5 miles southeast of Collierville on Hwy. 72. this reenactment was previously put on hold, but after experiencing success last year, the 51st Tennessee Infantry, the Wigfall Greys SCV, the Forrest SCV, R E Lee SCV, and Bankhead’s Battery decided to stage the event again this year.

Last year's event was nearly called off because of heavy rainfall the week before, but this year has been dry, and so there is no question about whether the reenactment will take place. Make plans to attend this event, because it is one of the most realistic reenactments in Tennessee, complete with approximately 600 reenactors, cavalry horses, artillery, and a fort.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

God Bless Our Vets

Today being Veteran's Day, I would like to pay special homage to those who sacrificed lives and/or limbs for our precious country's preservation. Many veterans today face what Vietnam vets had to endure during the 60's ... not so much ridicule but being taken for granted. Without these brave souls, we would not be where we are today.

My father is a veteran of the Korean War. It is something he has ever talked about, and I think something he really wanted to forget. But as he got older, he became more proud. My mother discovered that his medals had been tossed out unintentionally with his uniform when she discovered that moths had eaten through it in a box in the attic. After decades, the Korean government (yeah, that's right!) sent him a special thank you, complete with replacement medals displayed in a shadow box. I know this is something he will cherish for the rest of his life.

Many of our WWII vets are rapidly passing on, so if you know one and have the opportunity, make a special effort to thank him or her. Without their sacrifice, and those of veterans since, we would not be the great nation we are today. God Bless America!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mary Surratt

... the only woman convicted and hung for the role she played during the War Between the States.

Mary Elizabeth Surratt became a widow at age 42, during the summer of 1862. Her husband left behind 287 acres in what is now Prince George’s County, Maryland. He had constructed a two-story house on the land that became known as Surrattsville. The house was converted into a tavern that served as a way station for the clandestine Confederate network. Mr. Surratt also left his wife a boarding house on H Street in Washington D.C. In October 1864, Mary and her three children permanently moved to that location and rented out the tavern to a man named John Lloyd.

Over the course of the next few months, 541 H Street would become the focal point in what is considered to be one of the most influential crimes in American history. John Wilkes Booth, who frequented the Surratt home, hatched his original kidnapping conspiracy there. Other players who were involved included Mary’s son John, George Atzeroldt, who was supposed to assassinate Vice President Johnson, and Lewis Powell (aka Lewis Paine), who was responsible for the vicious attack on Secretary of State William Seward the night of April 14, 1865, (the same night that President Lincoln was assassinated). David Herold, who was a friend of John Surratt and John Wilkes Booth, rode with Booth following the assassination. He was later captured at Garrett’s Farm, where Booth was shot to death by Sergeant Boston Corbett, who was part of the 16th New York Cavalry that cornered the two men inside a barn. Also participating in the conspiracy were Samuel Arnold, who was an original plotter in the kidnapping scheme, Michael O’Laughlen, who was had been sent to kill Secretary of War Edwin Stanton but failed, and Dr. Samuel Mudd, who treated Booth’s injuries after he escaped from Washington.

Booth intended to kidnap President Lincoln in order to force the Union to surrender captured Confederates. His plans were solidified by March 1865, but were postponed for various reasons, and proved futile once General Lee surrendered on April 9. Mary Surratt traveled to her tavern on April 13, where she allegedly told her renter, John Lloyd, “to have the shooting irons ready; there will be some parties call for them.”

Following the assassination, a woman whose niece worked for Mary contacted police, saying that suspicious men had been seen at Mary’s boarding house. Subsequently, everyone in the house, including Mary, was arrested. Before leaving, Mary was caught in a lie, denying that she knew Lewis Powell, who just happened to show up with a shovel, claiming that she required his services for digging a ditch.

At the trial, several eyewitnesses testified to her involvement in the assassination scheme, including George Atzeroldt. Some claimed that they had seen Mary conversing with Booth, who gave her a wrapped package containing field glasses that she was to leave with her tenant, John Lloyd. Although her son escaped conviction because he was in New York at the time, Mary was not so lucky. Tried before a military commission, the conspirators were found guilty. Mary was one of four sentenced to death by hanging. No one believed she would actually be put to death because of her gender, but regardless of her lawyers’ issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, the federal judge’s order to have her delivered to his courtroom on the morning of her execution (which was ignored), and pleas from her daughter, Anna, President Johnson refused to commute Mary’s sentence. Two days before her execution, the judge advocate general delivered a plea for her clemency to President Johnson, who later claimed that he received no such request until after the hanging.

Mary Surratt died in Washington’s Arsenal prison yard on July 7, 1865 with Lewis Powell, David Harold, and George Atzeroldt. As army personnel crowded into the yard to watch, the first woman to be executed by the U.S. government fell through the gallows’ trap doors alongside her co-conspirators. Whether she was actually guilty of the crimes she was accused of committing, or whether her sentence was unjustified and unfair, remains a topic of debate.

A film directed by Robert Redford, entitled “The Conspirator,” tells the story of Mary Surratt, and is set for release in March 2011. If you have the opportunity, visit Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. In the basement is housed a unique museum containing descriptions and artifacts surrounding this inauspicious act.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Haunts (pt. 3 )

Most people think of cemeteries and battlefields when they hear about strange apparitions that exist in regard to the Civil War. However, many old fortresses are rumored to host the spirits of soldiers past as well. As my final installation of "Halloween Haunts," I bring to you the forts that time forgot.

Fort Delaware, located in Delaware City, Delaware, is an imposing structure that is said to be one of the most haunted places in America. It is no wonder, considering the suffering that took place during the War Between the States. The fort unintentionally became a prisoner of war camp, with most of its inhabitants being captured at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The fort, located on six acres, with 32 foot high walls and surrounded by a medieval moat, housed over 40,000 men by war's end. The fort had the highest mortality rate of any POW camp: 2500 to 3000 men died. The ghosts of incarcerated Confederates still inhabit the place, as does a woman and several children. Across the river is Finn’s Point National Cemetery, where most of the Confederate soldiers are buried. Sadly, only one marker is placed, which reads, "Erected By The United States To Mark The Burial Place Of 2436 Confederate Soldiers Who Died At Fort Delaware While Prisoners Of War And Whose Graves Cannot Now Be Individually Identified."

Fort Monroe, where President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned following his capture after the fall of the Confederacy, is another ominous place that seethes with spiritual energy. Located in Virginia, which ranks as the most haunted place in America according to the National Register of Haunted Locations, the fort has reported many spiritual sightings, including those of Abraham Lincoln and General U.S. Grant.

Off the gulf coast of Alabama exists two ancient forts that have now become tourist attractions: Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines. Both forts have a long history of military service, surviving many wars, and not surprisingly, both have their share of supernatural inhabitants. Visitors have reported hearing footsteps, seeing strange apparitions that follow them out of the park areas, and noticing ghosts that observe them while they are there.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Haunts (pt. 2) - Tennessee

Many Civil War battlefields in Tennessee are believed to be haunted. One such battlefield that is occupied by a famous ghost is Chickamauga, and the entity has come to be known as "Old Green Eyes." On numerous occasions, people have reported that an eerie presence approaches them, and that glowing green eyes are visible through the eerie mist that lingers around the base of Lookout Mountain.

A group of specters occupies another Tennessee battlefield, Stones River near Murfreesboro (just outside Nashville). At the "Slaughter Pen," one particular spirit inhabits the area, his soul eternally doomed to roam what has now become a dark, shadowy, spooky wooded area.

Shiloh is another haunted battlefield where the land will forever have the impression cast upon it of death, suffering, and destruction. "Bloody Pond" is said to take on the color of blood on occasion, and of course, the battlefield, like nearly all Civil War battlefields, has its share of noises, such as distant drums, marching, battle cries, and gunfire.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Haunts

With the advent of Halloween, I am concentrating on haunted Civil War houses, battlefields, and hotels. It seems that every battlefield, whether significant or minor, seems to inhabit its share of Civil War ghosts. Experts in the supernatural say that people who die sudden, unexpected, violent deaths are the ones whose souls get caught in limbo. Gettysburg is the most famous haunted battlefield because it lies on a lay line (mineral deposits under the soil that criss-cross). These places attract apparitions because the electrical current caused by the lay lines coaxes spirits, just like moths to a flame.

Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi has plenty of supernatural inhabitants as well. It is no wonder, since the citizens and Confederate army were under siege for months, forced to live in caves along the riverbank, and eat vermin, dogs, etc. in order to survive. The town is filled with old abandoned buildings, but many are rumored to be not completely empty. Spirits have been seen wandering the streets at night, along with frequenting local establishments, including old antebellum homes that have been converted into bed-and-breakfasts.

New Orleans entertains its share of Civil War ghosts, along with all the other spiritual entities that thrive there. The Beauregard-Keyes house is said to play host to its former owner, General P.G.T. Beauregard. On several occasions, witnesses have heard and/or seen Beauregard's Confederates charge through the dining room, complete with yelling, screaming, gunfire, and cannonade!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October Remembrances

This week marks the anniversaries of two significant battles that took place during the War Between the States. Tuesday was the anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek (1864), and today was the anniversary of the Battle of Ball's Bluff (1861). Both of these battles took place in Virginia.

The Battle of Ball's Bluff was the second largest battle to take place in 1861. The battle resulted in a victory for the Confederates, and led to the establishment of the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War after controversy arose as to whether Union officials were participating in a conspiracy against the U.S. government.

At the Battle of Cedar Creek three years later, the Confederacy suffered a crushing blow when General Jubal Early attempted to attack Washington but failed. The defeat led to Abraham Lincoln's reelection, and prevented the Confederates from ever being able to invade Washington again or protect the economic base in the Shenandoah Valley. General Sheridan rode to fame when his cavalry came to the rescue of the Union Army, and his ride is immortalized in Thomas Buchanan Read's famous poem entitled "Sheridan's Ride."

With next year marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it is without a doubt that much celebration will take place in Virginia, especially on October 21, which will be the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Battle of Ball's Bluff.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mississippi State UDC Convention

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the annual Mississippi United Daughters of the Confederacy Convention. This year's event took place in Hattiesburg, which is a lovely town full of history, friendly people, and amazing antebellum homes. The Daughters were originally booked in a hotel that was evacuated because of structural problems, so the convention was moved down the street to another hotel. Needless to say, the event went smoothly after that, and everyone in attendance had a great time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Antebellum Homes in Hattiesburg

On a recent trip to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, I had the opportunity to see some beautiful, elegant antebellum homes. Last weekend (Oct. 1-3) was the state United Daughters of the Confederacy conference. I will discuss this event further on my next post, but for now, please enjoy the photos. I invite your comments as well. Thanks for viewing my blog.
A Beckoning Hellfire

Monday, October 4, 2010

Amazing Antebellum Homes

While visiting New Orleans recently, I was awestruck by the beautiful old antebellum homes that exist in the Garden District and were basically unscathed from Hurricane Katrina. These homes sell for two to three million dollars today, which is amazing considering that five years ago, the housing market in the Big Easy understandably plummeted. Many of these old homes were built in the 1850's, and survived the Civil War.