Monday, January 31, 2011

Moving To New Blog Site

Hello everyone. This is to inform you that I will be moving to a new blog location. My new blog is at Please check it out! I apologize for any inconvenience, and look forward to corresponding to you with my new blog. Thank you so much for your continued support!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lee-Jackson Celebration

Last Saturday night, the Sons of Confederate Veterans Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 celebrated Generals Lee and Jackson's birthdays with a special dinner honoring the occasion. A good-sized crowd turned out to honor the two Confederate generals, including members of the Varina Howell Davis Chapter 2559 United Daughters of the Confederacy.

The participants enjoyed a splendid dinner prepared by Linda McCan who, in this writer's opinion, should start her own catering business! Following dinner, Compatriot Jeppie Barbour, who is Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's brother, gave a talk about the two celebrated generals.

The gathering participated in a candlelight vigil honoring the two generals as well as each member's ancestor, who was called out by name. Afterward, a drawing was held, whereby some individuals won grab bags containing Civil War movies, toiletries, etc. The annual dinner was a great experience for all.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Walmart Trial to Start on Tuesday

The trial deciding whether Walmart will gain hallowed land near the Wilderness Battlefield in Orange County, Virginia will start today.Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian James McPherson will be called to testify as a volunteer expert witness. The trial will take place in Orange County Circuit Court and is expected to last a week.

The Battle of the Wilderness, which took place on May 5 and 6 in 1864, is considered to be one of the most decisive battles of the Civil War. 185,000 soldiers participated, and 30,000 became casualties. McPherson's testimony will elaborate on the importance of this land, and the historical significance it plays. The proposed Walmart site will destroy land on and around the battlefield.

McPherson won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, "Battle Cry of Freedom." He plans to play on the judge's sympathies by relating the graphic details of wounded and dying men who were taken to a field hospital that was located less than a mile from the proposed Walmart site.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

UDC/SCV Represented at Local Library

This morning I had the privilege of attending the Horn Lake Library with two of my dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Lynne Herron, where we gave a presentation about the War Between the States to approximately 200 children. It was a lot of fun, and the kids were great! They were all very well-behaved, attentive, and curious about what people 150 years ago lived like.

Our presentation included performing several Civil War songs. Miss Dorothy talked about our period clothing and the language of the fan. Mr. Lynn discussed what a typical soldier in the army had to endure, and he brought along Civil War paraphernalia for the kids to experience, including a cannon ball, bullets, cooking utensils, and weaponry.

We gave each one of the kids a piece of hardtack. Most said they liked it! The event was the first in a series that we plan to give as living history lessons to local school children, as well as Seniors in Action and other groups.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Happy Birthday General Lee!

Today marks the anniversary of one of the Confederacy's most beloved generals, Robert E. Lee, who was born in 1807. His childhood birthplace, Stratford Hall Plantation in Virginia, still exists and has been restored to its original condition. It is rumored that when young Robert moved away at age four, he ran to the angel carving above the fireplace and kissed it goodbye.

Lee graduated from West Point at the top of his class in 1829 and embarked on a career as a civil engineer. He married Mary Custis at Arlington on June 30, 1831. The couple had seven children over the course of the next thirty years. Upon the onset of the Civil War, Lee was a colonel with the U.S. Army. He resigned his position to join the Confederacy, and was named general within months. The next four years would take a terrible toll on his country, his health, and his family. Despite his age, General Lee led his soldiers to victory many times, and his men loved him like a father, affectionately calling him "Marse Robert."

Following Appomattox, Lee avoided arrest and was appointed president of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia. He served until his death five years later, on September 28, 1870. His citizenship was restored by President Gerald Ford on January 30, 1975.

General Lee, a deeply religious man, was admired for his dignity and devotion to duty, not to mention his military genius. Many southern states honor his birthday with observed holidays. He is immortalized in a carving on Stone Mountain, Georgia, as well as numerous statues and paintings.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Library of Congress Receives Gift

Late last year, a private collector named Tom Liljenquist from McLean, Virginia, donated a treasure trove of Civil War era tintypes to the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. The donation was the largest one that the library has received in fifty years.

Approximately 700 images are included in the collection, most of which are those of Union soldiers who have yet to be identified. Also included are photographs of women, children, and African-American soldiers, which are considered to be quite rare.

Mr. Liljenquist donated his collection in order that it could be made available to the public for free. To honor his wishes, the Library of Congress plans a major exhibition featuring the photographs in April.

Many of the images can be viewed at

Monday, January 10, 2011

Secession! Secession! Secession!

As most Civil War buffs know, yesterday was the 150th anniversary of Mississippi's secession from the Union. Today marks the sesquicentennial of Florida's departure, and tomorrow will be the 150th anniversary of Alabama's split from the U.S. government.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy, of which I am a member, will be having a commemorative ceremony in Jackson on the 28th at the War Memorial Building. I am certain that other states will be doing the same thing. Our division is also preparing a special pin in honor of the occasion.

The fervor that consumed the Southern states during that time must have been contagious. Effigies of Lincoln were burned in the streets, speeches were given to inspire the hearts of young warriors, and celebrations resounded. If only they knew what was in store ... so many naive Americans believed that, if the country did go to war, it would be over in 90 days. Four years later, over 164,000 lives were lost, and the course of American history would be changed forever.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Got the wintertime blues? Visit a museum!!!

I don't know about y'all, but for me, January can be a big let down after the holidays. After weeks of holiday cheer, not to mention all the calories, friends, and family coming to visit, once Christmas and New Years are over, so is the excitement. All of a sudden, things get really quiet as they revert back to "normal."

My remedy is to get out of the house! And what better place to go than the museum? Go somewhere you haven't gone before, see the surrounding sights, and experience past lives ... it can be fascinating.

My son and I recently visited the Pink Palace Museum is Memphis. What an awesome place! The mansion was built by Clarence Saunders, the founder of Piggly Wiggly grocery stores, but he went bust after a legal dispute in the 1920's. The city of Memphis purchased the extravagant castle and turned it into a museum. Along with a natural history section, the Pink Palace also has a planetarium, a Memphis history section, an entire wing dedicated to a local citizen who hand-carved a moving mini circus out of wood and pulleys, and an IMAX theatre. If you're ever in Memphis, check it out!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Belle Boyd – Cleopatra of the Secession

Belle Boyd was only seventeen years old when she began her illustrious career as a Confederate spy. She quickly learned the art of espionage after her hometown of Martinsburg, Virginia became overrun with Yankees.

Born on May 4, 1844, Isabella Maria Boyd was the eldest child of a wealthy family. Her father ran a general store and managed a tobacco plantation. Belle grew up with several brothers and sisters, dominating them all with her tomboyish ways. She attended Mount Washington Female College in Baltimore at age twelve, and after completing her education four years later, enjoyed the life of a fun-loving debutante. Described as having shining blue eyes, thick light brown hair, and a fine figure, she was considered attractive but not beautiful, and made up for it by being overly feminine, flirtatious, and outgoing. A brilliant talker, she dressed colorfully and wore feathers in her hats.

At the onset of the Civil War, Belle’s father enlisted with the Virginia Cavalry, Stonewall Jackson Brigade. It wasn’t long before Belle was confronted with the enemy. On July 2, 1861, Union troops skirmished at nearby Falling Waters, and occupied Martinsburg on July 4. After looting the town, a band of drunken Union soldiers stormed into Belle’s home, tore down the Confederate flag that the Boyd Family proudly flew over their home, and attempted to hoist up the Stars and Stripes. Belle’s mother protested, and was attacked by one of the Yankees. In retaliation, Belle shot him, justifying her actions by stating, “… we ladies are obliged to go armed in order to protect ourselves as best we might from insult and outrage.” Subsequently arrested, she was soon acquitted without reprisal for her action. “The commanding officer,” she wrote, “inquired into all the circumstances with strict impartiality, and finally said I had ‘done perfectly right.’” Belle’s home was constantly guarded by sentries afterward to keep an eye on her activities.

She soon became a courier for Generals Beauregard and Jackson, carrying information, confiscating weapons, and delivering medical supplies. By early 1862, she had developed a reputation for herself, dubbed in the press as “La Belle Rebelle,” the “Siren of the Shenandoah,” the “Rebel Joan of Arc,” and the “Amazon of Secessia.” Using her feminine qualities to allure unsuspecting Yankees, she befriended the invading soldiers to obtain information for the Confederacy. One evening in mid-May, she eavesdropped through a peephole on a Council of War while visiting relatives in Front Royal, whose hotel was being used as a Union headquarters. With the information she obtained, she rode fifteen miles to deliver the news to General Stonewall Jackson. On May 23, she ran out onto the battlefield to give General Jackson last minute information. She later wrote that “the Federal pickets … immediately fired upon me … my escape was most providential … rifle-balls flew thick and fast about me … so near my feet as to throw dust in my eyes … numerous bullets whistled by my ears, several actually pierced different parts of my clothing.” Jackson captured the town and later acknowledged her bravery in a personal note. She was subsequently awarded the Confederate Southern Cross of Honor, and given honorary captain and aide-de-camp positions.

Belle was arrested on July 29, 1862 and incarcerated at Old Capitol Prison in Washington D.C., but was released a month later as part of a prisoner exchange. She was arrested again in July 1863. Not a model inmate, She waved Confederate flags from her window, loudly sang “Dixie,” and sent information to a contact person
outside who shot a rubber ball into her cell. She then sewed messages inside and threw it back. She was released in December, but was arrested again in 1864, and this time was released for health reasons (typhoid fever). On May 8, she was sent to England as a diplomatic courier, but was captured while aboard a blockade runner, The Greyhound. She escaped to Canada with the assistance of Union naval officer Lieutenant Sam Hardinge, who she charmed into convincing him to marry her and switch sides. The two traveled to England, where Belle went to work for the Confederate Secret Service. Hardinge was court-martialed and disgraced for his actions. The two were married on August 24.

Belle stayed in England for the next two years, wrote her memoirs, entitled “Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison,” and achieved success onstage. When her husband died in 1866, she returned to America, where she continued her stage career and lecture tour, billing her show as “The Perils of a Spy,” and touting herself as “Cleopatra of the Secession.”

In 1869, she married John Swainston Hammond, an Englishman who had fought for the Union army, but sixteen years and four children later, divorced him. She married Nathaniel High, Jr. two months later in January 1885. He was an actor seventeen years her junior. Belle continued the touring circuit. On Sunday, June 10, 1900, while at a speaking engagement with the GAR in Kilbourn (now Wisconsin Dells), Belle died of a heart attack. She was 56 years old and in poverty. Union veterans paid for her funeral. She is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Last night, soldiers of SCV Camp 1452 braved the elements in Southaven, Mississippi to guard the gates of Southern Lights. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Southern Lights is a Southaven Christmas tradition. As you drive through the park, music accompanies an awesome light show.

This year, the Sons were chosen to collect admission from cars traveling through Southern Lights on New Year's Eve. Although the turnout was less than in other years, the weather was tolerable in that it wasn't too cold (like it was last year), but a thunderstorm caused heavy rainfall at times. The lights were accentuated by occasional flashes of lightning.

Here's to a wonderful, happy, prosperous New Year for us all!