Sunday, August 29, 2010

Battle of Manassas

This week marks the 148th anniversary of the 2nd Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) in Virginia. The battle took place on August 29-30, 1862 in nearly the same place that the 1st Battle of Manassas occurred the previous year. What those guys must have thought while they fought, knowing they were near the same location as the first major battle of the Civil War, boggles the mind.

The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) has announced that it will purchase two major parcels of land where the battle took place. The organization still needs sufficient funds to obtain this goal, however. an estimated sum of %57,000 is needed to secure the properties in hopes that the CWPT can sell the land back to the National Park Service in 2011 or 2010. For more information, check out this link:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

They Gave Me a Medal!

Last Saturday night, the United Daughters of the Confederacy Varina Howell Davis Chapter 2559 celebrated its 20th anniversary. A great turnout attended the event, which was held in Hernando, Mississippi. After a delicious dinner, the guests were entertained by members who were decked out in their finest fashions. Needless to say, these over-accessorized ladies proceeded to adorn the vice president and new president's grandmother with their stylings while convincing everyone to join and attend the monthly meetings.

Following a wonderful presentation by Annie Ruth Brown about "not so famous Confederates," two people were bestowed the prestigious Stonewall Jackson medal. I am happy to report that I was one of them! Thank you so much ladies for giving me the honor of participating in your chapter's events during the past year. It has been fun and enlightening, and I have made lifelong friendships. My sincere gratitude and thanks to all of you. I can't wait to see what next year brings!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Confederate Flag on License Plates

In 1998, an appellate court in North Caroline upheld a decision that license plates displaying the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo, which consists of the Southern Cross, may be issued. In "Sons of Confederate vs. DMV", the court noted,"We are aware of the sensitivity of many of our citizens to the display of the Confederate flag. Whether the display of the Confederate flag on state-issued license plates represents sound public policy is not an issue presented to this Court in this case. That is an issue for our General Assembly."

Vehicle owners in Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia may request state-issued license plates featuring the SCV logo. However, a local member was fired from his job in Memphis recently for displaying said logo on his vehicle. He is in the process of litigation, and the first court decision has been appealed. I will keep you posted on any further developments.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Confederacy Reflected on Six States' Flags

Following the Civil War, it was decided that each state should have a flag to represent itself, so in the late 1880's the process began. Not surprisingly, many southern states chose to represent themselves with replicas of their beloved, albeit lost, Confederacy. Over the course of time, criticism and controversy have surrounded these states' decisions, claiming that they are racist. The motto "Heritage Not Hate," has received skepticism as to its sincerity, and whether it is a cover-up for racism underneath.

Alabama's state flag is white with a red saltire cross, similar in design to the most recognizable flag of the Confederacy, the St. Andrews cross, otherwise known as the Southern Cross. Florida also has a red saltire cross on its state flag. Mississippi has the only state flag that still bears the true replica of the Southern Cross. This design is in the upper left-hand corner, with the rest of the flag resembling the Stars and Bars. North Carolina also has a state flag that resembles the Stars and Bars, as does Texas, and Tennessee's flag replicates the battle flag by its color scheme and design with a vertical bar on the fly that is reminiscent of the Stainless Banner. Two other states use similar colors in their flag designs: Arkansas and Missouri. Georgia received so much flack that it underwent numerous changes until finally deciding on a design that displays previous state flags.

It is fascinating to see how some state's flags transformed over the years. Texas and Florida both started out with the Bonnie Blue Flag. Interestingly, California also had a lone star flag, although it was considered to be a part of the Union during the War Between the States.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hunley Still a Mystery

It has been ten years since the Confederate submarine Hunley was raised from the deep dark depths off the South Carolina coastline, and still the mystery remains as to why it sank in the first place. There has been much speculation, including the idea that the sub lost oxygen inside, thus causing the demise of the crewmen within her thick iron walls. (Their remains were put to rest during a Confederate funeral in 2004.) Another thought is that an explosion occurred after the Hunley rammed a spar with a power charge into a Union blockade ship, the Housatonic, in February 1864. The Hunley was the first submarine to ever sink an enemy warship.

Next year, the hull of the sub will be turned upright to reveal a side that hasn't seen the light of day in nearly 150 years. Approximately $22 million has been spent in the past fifteen years to preserve the Hunley. However, the investment has made its return, as several million people have visited the conservatory where the Hunley rests in a tank-full of water. The Hunley could be displayed in a museum as early as 2015.

For more information and some really cool pics, check out:!/note.php?note_id=144671865557761&id=147175811962358

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Civil War Naval News

The National Museum of the United States Marine Corps (, located 35 miles south of Washington D.C. near Quantico, Virginia, recently unveiled three new galleries. The new additions convey Marine history from 1775 through 1918. "Defending the Republic: 1775-1865" depicts just that, with interesting displays, including Marines who were called to defend Harper's Ferry from John Brown's raid in 1859. At the start of the Civil War in 1861, the Marines split into two, and Union Corporal John F. Mackie was the first Marine to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Confederate Marines are also depicted, as is one Union Marine who accompanied Lincoln to Gettysburg, where he gave his infamous "Gettysburg Address." Other galleries include "A Global Expeditionary Force: 1866-1917," and "Marines in World War I: 1918."

The National Civil War Naval Museum in Port Columbus has received an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. The AASLH, now in its 65th year, gives the most highly-prestigious award to recipients for achievement in preservation and interpretation of state and local history. Only 49 awards were given for 2010 to organizations and individuals across the country.

And lastly, an archaeological project discovered a naval yard site on the east side of the Pee Dee River in Marion County, South Carolina. The site is what remains of the Mars Bluff Naval Yard. Artillery shells and two large cannon were also discovered, belonging to the CSS Pee Dee, which was one of the last Confederate gunboats to be built at the naval yard, and was launched in January 1865. The cannons were thrown into the river upon Sherman's advance into South Carolina to prevent their capture. On March 15, 1865, the boat was set afire and blown up. To find the naval yard, the journal of Lt. Edward Means was used (dating August 3, 1864 to March 15, 1865) as well as ground-penetrating radar and other remote-sensing technologies. A 3-D map was created to help archeologists excavate the site. The items will eventually be on display at the Florence County Museum in South Carolina.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Civil War Battle Anniversaries

Today and tomorrow mark the anniversaries of two significant battles that transpired during the War Between the States. On this date in 1862, the Battle of Cedar Mountain took place, and August 10 marks the 149th anniversary of the Battle of Wilson's Creek.

The Battle of Cedar Mountain took place in Culpeper County, Virginia. Culpeper changed hands between Union and Confederate forces 78 times over the course of the war. Also known as Cedar Run and Slaughter's Mountain, the battle was the first combat to take place in the Northern Virginia campaign, resulting in a Confederate victory led by General Stonewall Jackson. Union casualties were 2,353: Confederate casualties totaled 1,338.

At the Battle of Wilson's Creek, also known as the Battle of Oak Hills, the Missouri State Guard took on attacking Union forces near Springfield. Referred to as "Bull Run of the West," this battle is considered to be the first major conflict west of the Mississippi River, resulting in a Confederate victory. Casualties were nearly equal on both sides: 1,317 Union and 1,230 Confederate. The battlefield is in nearly pristine condition today, hardly changed from how it appeared in 1861, unlike many tainted battlefields in the east.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Billy the Kid to Be Pardoned

Mayor Bill Richardson of New Mexico plans to pardon Billy the Kid in the near future. The outlaw, aka William Bonny and Kid Antrim, whose real name was Henry McCarty, was killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett, and both were of Irish decent. Garrett's ancestors still reside in New Mexico, and met with the governor in Santa Fe to dissuade his decision. Governor Richardson, however, is undecided.

Throughout American history, questionable pardons have been given. For starters, there were the Whiskey Rebels of 1794. And following the Civil War, President Andrew Johnson pardoned all ex-Confederates. General Longstreet was pardoned by Congress in June of 1868. President Nixon pardoned Jimmy Hoffa, and President Ford pardoned Nixon. President Jimmy Carter, during his administration, pardoned Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee posthumously.

According to the Associated Press, Governor Richardson is considering a pardon because of an old pending pardon that was never upheld. New Mexico territorial governor Lew Wallace failed to fulfill his promise to pardon the Kid after Billy testified about killings that occurred during the 1878 range wars.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Riverboats and the Civil War

It is a well-known fact that riverboats were essential to Southern commerce before and during the War Between the States. Southern states used rivers to transport cotton to the north, and one of the most heavily-used rivers was the Mississippi. Old Man River took his share, as there are still many riverboats sunken into the silt of the mighty, muddy Father of Waters.

The Union Army's primary objective in the Western Theatre was to secure the Mississippi, thus strangling the Confederacy's ability to trade and ship wares to various states below the Mason-Dixon Line. By the middle of 1863, the Yankees had accomplished this feat by capturing Vicksburg.

At the end of the war, riverboats were used extensively to transport released prisoners. One such boat, the Sultana, has virtually been lost to history, but her story is fascinating. Overloaded to around 2,400, with a maximum capacity allowance of only 376, the boat chugged her way up the Mississippi until it reached Memphis. A few hours later, as she made her way to Cairo, Illinois, carrying POW's from Andersonville and Catalpa prisons, she exploded. Only a few hundred survived. Known as the worst maritime disaster in North American history, all that remains are a few markers, one of which is located at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis.