Monday, November 9, 2015

How the Confederate Battle Flag Became Racist

The Confederate Battle Flag

St. Andrew's Cross Flag

       I've already written a blog on the Confederate Battle Flag being based on the Christian flag of St. Andrew, one of Jesus's Apostles and the younger brother of Peter. I won't repeat what I've already stated as you can go back and read those blogs if you're interested. I'm going in a different direction with this blog. Legend has it that Andrew was crucified on an "X" shaped cross different from the type that Christ was placed upon. The St. Andrew's Cross flag was derived from this legend. The flag has Christian origins. So the question arises, "How did a Christian flag come to be viewed as racist?"
       I've already told the story of the flag used by the KKK in the early 1900's. Below is a photograph of the 1928 Klan march on our nation's capital. You won't notice any Confederate Battle Flags in the photograph, but the U.S. National Flag. I've already asked why we don't consider that flag racist, but have yet to receive an answer from people that worship that flag while calling for the abandonment of the Confederate Battle Flag. 

1928 Klan march on Washington, D.C.

       I recently listened to a talk given by a friend of mine who happened to serve on the grand jury hearings for the case of the 16th Street Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963 in which four young black girls were killed. I won't mention my friends name here because I have not received prior permission from him. I will explain what he learned from being on the grand jury. 
       First off, he learned why the Klan began to use the Confederate Battle Flag as its official symbol and turns out, it's the same reason other people use the flag. It has nothing to do with the Confederacy being a slave holding nation at all. When the protests began in earnest across the South to stop segregation, the Klan at that time was a peaceful organization or at least most of it's members attempted to be peaceful. Some of the younger members decided it was time for more radical action and appealed to the older Klan members for violence. The older members naturally didn't agree with this approach. The younger members fed up with what they considered the inaction of the older members did what they thought was right. They naturally raised the Confederate Battle Flag in defiance (that flag is the international symbol of defiance of course) in protest of the old leadership. Why else would the Confederate Battle Flag be displayed in Crimea during it's secession from Ukraine? There are almost no blacks there, so obviously, they aren't attempting to downgrade that race. It's become the international symbol of defiance to an overreaching authority. 
        Another thing that I learned from my friend on the grand jury trial that I'd never heard before was the fact that no one was supposed to be killed in the bombing at the church. The bomb was placed the night before and supposed to explode during the night. These Klan members didn't know how to correctly build a timer on their bomb. By the next morning when the bomb was supposed to have already exploded, none of these guys had the courage to walk up and see why it hadn't gone off yet. Unfortunately, for all involved, the bomb went off at the worst possible moment. 

A Russian lady protesting with a non-Russian flag

       Now let's move on to the ignorance our nation teaches. Because most of our nations lawmakers are unfortunately lawyers and they just want to "kiss ass" for a vote, none of them have the backbone to stand up for what is right. They jump on the bandwagon of "political correctness" and sing along. So, here are a few observations that should shake the politically correct to the core. 
       In an attempt to do away with the Confederate Battle Flag on Georgia's state flag, the politically correct raised enough protest to have the flag changed. The flag was changed from a battle flag that never flew over a slave holding nation to one that looks almost identical to the Confederate First National flag and a nation that did hold slaves. 

The Confederate 1st National Flag or "Stars and Bars"

The modern day Georgia state flag is not considered racist, but can you see any resemblence?

        Even funnier for me is the fact that none of the people that protest these things are smart enough to figure any of it out for themselves. Let's take a look at the march President Obama led across the Edmund Winston Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 2015. Below you can see a photograph of him on the bridge, but behind him is the obvious name of the bridge. 

Obama and others on Edmund Winston Pettus Bridge in Selma

      Why do I think the above photograph is comical? For starters, the bridge is named after Brigadier General Edmund Winston Pettus, a Confederate Brigadier General, and later a member of the original Ku Klux Klan. Now it's not funny that he is standing in front of a name associated with the Klan, because anyone one that care's to learn the true history of our nation will readily admit that the original Klan was meant to drive out the carpet bagger's from up North. They were not a racist group at all. The funny thing to me is the fact that no one in America realized who the bridge was named after until days after the photograph was taken. No one on Obama's staff even knew who General Pettus was. General Pettus was a great man, not a racist person at all. He loved the South and fought hard against the Central Government of Lincoln. He joined the Klan because he lived in a land where Southern white males had no representation in the government. He is buried beneath a flat marker (nothing fancy at all) because he was an extremely humble person. Now we learn that the politically correct want to rename the bridge after having been told who the bridge was named after. This I find extremely funny. 
        Reminds me of a quote attributed to one of the South's arch enemies, Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." Maybe he should of been alive today to see how "dumbed down" we've become. 
        So what is the best way to take this flag back from the Klan and the skinheads? There is a simple solution. The black race needs to stop protesting this flag and embrace it. After all, as Frederick Douglass once stated, the black race is the stomach of the rebellion. Whether or not you believe blacks fought for the South, you must admit the South couldn't have survived without the help of the black race just as Frederick Douglass understood. Why then should the black race hate that flag? 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mansfield Lovell: Awaiting Further Orders

An Early War Photograph of Major General Mansfield Lovell

       Most of my blogs are about great Confederate General's that happen to be my hero's. This is not one of those blogs. Mansfield Lovell may have tried his best, but just wasn't a great commander. He was known for his ability with artillery and perhaps in engineering, but he just wasn't a leader of combat troops. 
       Lovell was born in Washington, D.C. in 1822. His father was the first surgeon general of the United States Army. He grew up in Washington, and after 1836, moved to New York. His grandfather was a prominent politician in Boston, Massachusetts. His ancestry hailed from the north. Lovell received an appointment to West Point and graduated ninth out of 56 cadets in the Class of 1842. His high class ranking ensured he wouldn't be assigned to the infantry and he received an appointment as lieutenant in the artillery. He would see action in the Mexican War, where he was wounded twice and cited for gallantry. Lovell's star was on the rise. For the latter part of the Mexican conflict, Lovell served on the staff of Brigadier General John Quitman. 

Brigadier General John Quitman

       Quitman, like Lovell was born in the north, studied law, and eventually moved to Natchez, Mississippi. He would become governor of Mississippi from 1850-1851. The relationship between the two men became like a father and son. It is believed that Quitman is the man that swayed Lovell to consider himself a southerner. 
       In 1854, Lovell resigned his commission from the U.S. Army and moved to New Jersey. He eventually became the deputy street commissioner for New York City under another southerner named Gustavus W. Smith (see my blog 
       When the Civil War began, both Gustavus Smith and Mansfield Lovell left New York City for the south. They arrived and reported to Joseph Johnston, who in turn recommended them to Jefferson Davis as the two "best officers whose services we can command." Lovell would be sent to New Orleans, Louisiana where he would be promoted to major general and begin service in command of the coastal defenses there. 
       The Confederate government believed that New Orleans was safe from the south because of Fort's Jackson and St. Phillip. They soon began to strip Lovell of guns and men believing the real threat came from the upper Mississippi River. Six months later, a Federal fleet under David  Farragut would run past the forts and capture New Orleans. Lovell received an unfair share of the blame for the loss, but in truth, the government was at fault. Lovell reacted quickly and sent men, guns, and supplies to Vicksburg to hold that important city. Although criticized, Lovell was beginning the war doing the best that could be expected of anyone. 

Mansfield Lovell has grown his whiskers out for this photograph

       To appease the people of Mississippi and the state government, President Davis placed Major General Earl Van Dorn over Lovell. Van Dorn himself had become something of a failure as a general of troops having almost lost his army at the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern in Arkansas. He assigned Lovell to a division of his new command in Mississippi and marched northward intending to retake Corinth, Mississippi. The Federal commander waiting there was William Rosecrans and ironically, his army was occupying the same breastworks built by the Confederate Army in the spring of 1862. 
       Lovell began the campaign as a division commander under Van Dorn, but Lovell was an arrogant man. He believed himself superior to Van Dorn and equal to the best general in the Confederate Army. This would be the recipe for a disaster. It was said he had a swagger that reminded his subordinates of a conquering Caesar. To make matters worse, while advancing toward Corinth, he spotted what appeared to be the wheels of a single artillery piece on the horizon. He ordered skirmishers thrown out and an entire brigade to advance across the field toward the enemy threat. The distance was covered quickly, every man expecting to receive enemy fire in an instant. Once the skirmishers reached the position, they found to their amazement, a single pair of abandoned wagon wheels from an old sawmill. 
       During the first day of the battle, Lovell's division advanced on the far right and after serious fighting took possession of Oliver's Hill. (One of his regiments that my grandfather fought in, was the 35th Alabama Infantry. They captured a cannon there named "The Lady Richardson.") At this point in the battle, Lovell seems to have lost his nerve. With the Federal troops in full retreat, he halted his advance. His three brigade commanders were just itching to finish the fight. Lovell allowed the two divisions on his left to do the remainder of the days work. Brigadier General John Stevens Bowen (see my blog was extremely irritated that the battle had been won when Lovell inexplicably called a halt. He went to Lovell and asked for permission to attack. It was only 3 p.m. For the remainder of the day, Lovell's division cared for their wounded and collected their dead for burial as they listened to the fury of the battle. Lovell's actions are inexcusable. 

Another uniformed photograph of Mansfield Lovell

       He continued to do little on the second day of the battle. Ordered to attack by Van Dorn, he simply ignored the order and did nothing. Van Dorn must have been out of touch with what was occurring that day because he praised Lovell's actions in his official report. That praise would not save Lovell. President Davis still blamed Lovell for the fall of New Orleans. Jefferson Davis was famous for holding grudges. There were positions where Lovell could have possibly excelled, but Davis refused to give him the chance. 
       A court of inquiry was held on Lovell's responsibility for losing New Orleans and the court cleared him of any blame. Once this occurred, Joseph Johnston asked Davis to assign Lovell to his army to command a corps. Davis refused. (Likely a good thing considering Lovell's failure commanding troops at Corinth). Again, Braxton Bragg suggested Davis make Lovell chief of artillery of the Army of Tennessee, a position Lovell had excelled in before. Again, Davis refused. The only message from Richmond to Lovell was "Await further orders." 
       Lovell finally gave up on receiving a new assignment and served Joseph Johnston as a volunteer aide during the Atlanta Campaign. When A.P. Stewart took command of Leonidas Polk's old corps following that officers death, Johnston asked that Lovell be assigned to command Stewart's division. Not surprisingly, Davis refused this request also. Once Hood took command of the army, he asked Davis to assign Lovell to command his old corps. Despite the close relationship between Hood and Davis, the president still would not relent. 
       Not until Robert E. Lee was made commander in chief of all Confederate troops would Lovell receive another assignment. Johnston was given command of the Army of Tennessee during the Carolina's Campaign in 1865 and asked Lee for Lovell's services. Lee assigned Lovell to command Confederate forces in South Carolina. He held the assignment from April 7 until his surrender one month later. 

Lovell's frock coat in the Louisiana State Museum

       Following the war, Lovell attempted to run a rice plantation in Savannah, Georgia, but high water wiped out his first crop. He then moved to New York City where he became a civil engineer and surveyor. He helped with the removal of river obstructions in Hell's Gate, Queens, New York. Lovell would die in New York City on June 1, 1884 before the completion of the job. He was 61 years old. He rests today in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York. 

Mansfield Lovell

Lovell's grave

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completing the work at Hell's Gate one year after the death of Mansfield Lovell.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lawrence Sullivan Ross

Brigadier General Lawrence Sullivan Ross

       One of my favorite Confederate General's is Lawrence Sullivan Ross. "Sul" as he was called was an aggressive commander of Texas cavalry. Sul Ross was born in Iowa in 1838, but his family migrated to Texas before he turned a year old. Although, he began his college studies at Baylor University, he would earn his degree from Wesleyan University in Florence, Alabama. Wesleyan University was in what is today called Wesleyan Hall on the campus of the University of North Alabama or UNA. 

Image result for wesleyan hall una

Modern view of Wesleyan Hall built in 1856

       Sul earned his degree in 1859 in Florence, Alabama. The year before graduation, Ross returned to Texas to help put down hostile Comanche raids on Texas settlements. His father was the Indian Agent. Sul Ross served as a captain on the expedition and was wounded by an arrow to the shoulder. He was then shot in the chest by a .58 caliber bullet. As he lie, temporarily paralyzed, the warrior who shot him, dismounted and approached him with a knife. A fellow soldier killed the warrior as he bent over Sul in a scalping attempt. 
       The wounds were so severe, it was believed he would soon die. Ross lay where he had fallen for five days unable to be moved. He begged those tending his wounds to just kill him and put him out of his misery. After five days, he was carried ninety miles to a post. The wounds became infected and Ross suffered throughout 1858 with health issues. 
       Following graduation from Wesleyan Hall, he became a Texas Ranger and served in that capacity until Texas seceded. Ross married Elizabeth Tinsely in 1861 and became major of the 6th Texas Cavalry. He led a successful raid on a Union supply train at Keetsville, Missouri and his commanding officer said of him, "but a boy, he has earned imperishable honors as an officer." 
       The command soon moved east of the Mississippi River and Sul was promoted to colonel of the 6th Texas Cavalry. At the Battle of Corinth, he was extremely sick with a fever and he found the heat excruciating. Despite his ailments, he refused to leave the field and fought as the rearguard during the retreat and his actions at Davis Bridge earned him a much deserved promotion to brigadier general. His promotion though was delayed by jealous officers and not received until 1864 to date from December 21, 1863. 
       From September of 1863 until April of 1864, Sul Ross suffered from the effects of malaria, but never asked for a furlough and faithfully continued to serve. Following this bout with disease, he would suffer respiratory problems for the remainder of his life. His brigade fought in Mississippi through the spring of 1864 and then was sent to Joseph Johnston's Army of the Tennessee at the beginning of the Atlanta Campaign. 
       When Hood moved his army into Northern Alabama, Ross's Texas brigade reported to Nathan Bedford Forrest. His brigade would lead the advance into Tennessee and play an important part as rearguard during the retreat from Nashville. During the spring of 1865, his brigade would again serve in Mississippi. 
       He would have a busy life following the war. Back in Texas, he began his post-war career as a farmer. He would then become sheriff, Texas State Senator, and eventually governor of Texas where he served two terms. Sul then became president of Texas AMC (which would later become Texas A&M). 

The Sullivan Ross home while serving as President of Texas A&M

       He went on a hunting trip with his son and several friends and became sick with chills and stomach problems. He returned to College Station just in time to die on January 3, 1898. Some speculate he died of a heart attack, while others say it was from exposure during the hunt, or "acute congestion of the stomach and bowels." Regardless of the cause, Sul Ross was 59 years old. He rests today in Oakwood Cemetery in Waco, Texas. 

Grave of Lawrence Sullivan Ross

       Sul Ross's bravery was well known both before and during the Civil War. A Southern newspaper correspondent best summed up Ross's brigade by saying when they attack, "something must give way, and somebody is sure to get hurt." He was often called chivalrous, gallant, and even a daring knight. It was said he had the heart of a true soldier. Women considered him a handsome young officer. 

Statue of Sul Ross at Texas A&M University

       Legend says that Ross as president of the University would often tutor students before an exam. He would refuse pay, but only accept a penny for their thoughts. Today, at exam time, students place pennies on the statue above. 

Pennies on the statue at exam time

Post-war image of Lawrence Sullivan Ross

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Major General Franklin Gardner


Major General Franklin Gardner

       Frank Gardner was born in 1823 in New York City. His father was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and his mother was from a wealthy Louisiana family. He entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1838 and graduated 17th out of 39 cadets in the Class of 1843. His one note of distinction was his ranking of first in his class in drawing which was considered an important subject at the time because of the need to draw fortifications and maps in wartime. 
       Like his father, Frank married into a wealthy Louisiana family. He married Marie Celeste Mathilde Mouton, the sister of future Confederate Brigadier General Jean Jacques Alfred Alexander Mouton (see my blog Her father Alexander Mouton would also become the governor of Louisiana. 
       Following graduation from West Point, he entered military service in the infantry. He would see at least four major battles in the Mexican War and was distinguished twice for gallantry. He served under Albert Sidney Johnston during the Morman Expedition with the rank of captain. When the South seceded from the Union, he never bothered to resign, but simply departed his post in Utah for Louisiana. 
       He spent the early part of the Civil War bouncing from post to post. He served as a lieutenant colonel of infantry, a staff officer under Jubal Early, commanded a brigade of cavalry, and even saw action at Shiloh. When Beauregard became commander of the Army of Mississippi, he was promoted to brigadier general commanding all the cavalry of the army. Gardner would see action at Perryville in this capacity. Following Perryville, he promoted to major general and sent to the position he would become most famous for holding: Port Hudson. 
       Although John C. Pemberton and Vicksburg have gained more attention, Port Hudson was just as important as Vicksburg as a fort defending the Mississippi River. While Vicksburg held the northern part of a 200 mile section of the Mississippi, Port Hudson held the southern point. While Pemberton's 33,000 man army was withstanding a siege by Ulysses Grant and his army of 77,000, Frank Gardner was fighting longer odds. His 7,500 men were facing between thirty and forty thousand under Nathaniel Banks. 

A Confederate Columbiad at Port Hudson

       At Port Hudson, Frank Gardner placed his engineering skills to good work. He strengthened the fort and prepared the defenders for hard fighting. When Banks army arrived, Gardner withstood 47 days of siege and inflicted 5,000 casualties on his enemy. Another 5,000 Union soldiers became casualties to disease during this same period. Gardner's total casualties amounted to almost one thousand men. 
        He refused to surrender until July 9, 1863 after he was certain that Vicksburg had fallen and that Joseph Johnston wasn't coming to his aide with reinforcements. His men were half starved, been exposed to constant artillery fire for over forty days, had no medical supplies, and were utterly exhausted. He had accomplished far more than most men would have in the same situation. 
       He remained a prisoner of war until August of 1864 when he was exchanged. Gardner was then sent to command the District of Mississippi and East Louisiana under Richard Taylor. He would see minimal action for the remainder of the war. Following the war, he made a living farming in Lafayette, Louisiana. He would only survive the war by eight years. He died at age fifty of unknown causes. His tombstone lists his middle name as Kitchell, although there are few other sources that show him having a middle name. 

Franklin Kitchell Gardner

Frank Gardner's grave

       He rests today in Saint John's Cemetery in Lafayette, Louisiana. His wife Mary would outlive him by almost 42 years. He rests in the same cemetery as his brother-in-law Brigadier General Jean Jacques Alfred Alexander Mouton who was killed at the Battle of Mansfield in 1864. 

An image said to be Franklin Gardner, some people believe this is actually a photograph of Confederate Brigadier General Richard Brooke Garnett

(See my blog

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Mini-Civil Wargasm With My Buddy Pat: Part II

Ruthie, Stacie, and Pat

       I went to church with Pat Sunday morning and on the way back to his house, he took me to a few places. I didn't expect much, a Confederate cemetery, and an old ironworks site. The cemetery was larger than I expected and kept extremely neat. These soldiers were brought to a house that still stands today (but privately owned) from Mississippi where they died of disease and wounds. Pat said he'd never been inside the house. I told him that I'd ask if they would show us around, but we arrived to find a fence around the property with a large iron gate. We figured they didn't want to show anyone around by the looks of things. 

About half of the Confederate Cemetery

       The next stop found us in Shelby, Alabama outside what appeared to be an old abandoned house. It was actually the Shelby Hotel and dated back to the war. Again, we wanted to go inside, but someone had a padlock on the door. The place has fallen into disrepair and it appears someone plans to let if fall apart. Pat said the last time he visited the site the windows were all intact. The glass is very old and its a shame someone is vandalizing the place. 

Shelby Hotel

       Next to the hotel is the old Shelby Ironworks site. There is a neat little park on the south side of the road, but across the road stands the ribs of one of the old furnaces. Someone had recently cleared the area with a bulldozer, so Pat and I prowled a good deal of the area. We found more ruins, but my biggest fear was chiggers. Since taking Doc Rick Price to Shy's Hill two years ago, I've had an extreme fear of chiggers. I was eaten alive. Pat promised me we were safe and luckily, almost two weeks later, not a bite. 

Remains of one of the furnaces

       I got on Pat's nerves asking him a thousand questions regarding the area. He finally told me that I was asking him things he couldn't answer. The place was so neat and I was so excited that I wasn't thinking about how I sounded. Arriving home, I did a little research and learned just how large the ironworks site truly was. 

An old Photo of both furnaces

A map of the entire area showing the Shelby Hotel, furnaces, and rail lines

       Overall, the trip was a blast and I'm already looking forward to the next one. I told Pat next time I'll take him down to Columbus, Georgia to the Civil War Naval Museum. We may even head on down to Andersonville, another place I've never mentioned if he would like. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Mini-Civil Wargasm With My Buddy Pat: Part I

The New Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust in Selma's Live Oak Cemetery

       Stacie and I had been planning to spend the weekend with my good buddy Pat and his wife Ruthie for several months now. We went down on Friday afternoon on May 22nd and spent two nights there. If you know anything about the way our year began, we you understand how badly we needed the time away. Pat, Ruthie, and another couple of their friends were there the first night. When we planned this visit, we had no idea that the new Nathan B. Forrest bust was to be unveiled on this weekend. When Pat told me we were going the next morning, I was excited because it would add another three pictures of me with Confederate generals graves. 
       Pat cooked us all the biggest steaks I've ever attempted to eat in my life. I couldn't do it. Pat's buddy Larry not only ate all of his steak, but half of his wife Nita's. I couldn't believe it. Larry was a door gunner during the Vietnam War. Larry went to bed before Pat and I, so we sat on the front porch and discussed our favorite subject of course, the Civil War. 
       The next morning we arose early and headed to Selma which is about an hour south of Pat's house. The trip was relatively uneventful if you don't take into account the lady texting while meeting us in our lane. Pat has a brand new pickup that I thought was gonna need a lot of work, along with its three occupants. The wives were following us down in another vehicle. 


Pat and I at the grave of Catesby Ap Jones

       We arrived in Live Oak Cemetery at 9:30 a.m. just in time for the cemetery tour. The first grave we got our picture taken was at Confederate Naval Captain Catesby Ap Jones. Captain Jones was the man who took charge of the CSS Virginia during its engagement with the USS Monitor. We then were led to the grave of Brigadier General Edmund Winston Pettus. Pettus had the distinction of being captured three times during the war. We learned that Pettus was buried under a flat concrete marker because he was a very humble person. 

Pat and I with Brigadier General Edmund W. Pettus

       We were then taken to the grave of "Old Reliable" himself. Confederate Lieutenant General William J. Hardee. Hardee fought with the Army of Tennessee from Shiloh until Atlanta when he finally left that army following an argument with General John Bell Hood. He would return to that army to finish the war in the Carolina's during the spring of 1865. General Hardee was my favorite general's best friend, Patrick R. Cleburne. Hardee was also known as the Army of Tennessee's biggest back biter, which says a lot when you look at all the turmoil that occurred in that army. 

Me and Pat with General William J. Hardee

       We then finished up the Civil War tour with little known Confederate Brigadier General John Tyler Morgan. Morgan was more famous as a post-war senator than as a Confederate general. Ironically, his monument is much larger than the others as you can see by the photo. 

Us with General John T. Morgan

       We remained in the cemetery for most of the rest of the afternoon listening to the unveiling ceremony. It was not in our original plans, but I'm extremely glad we did. There were four wonderful speakers that kept our attention. (Even with my narcolepsy I only nodded once or twice). During the cemetery tour, I'd learned there was an extremely interesting cannon at City Hall that I wanted to visit. Pat promised me we'd go there before calling it a day. My wife became extremely interested in a couple of strange looking grasshoppers on Catesby Ap Jones grave that we don't have in Northern Alabama. (She kept calling them crickets for some reason which caused Pat to laugh and say "Those are grasshoppers.")

The Eastern Lubber Grasshopper on Captain Jones's Grave

       The city historian was one of the speakers at the event and as soon as it was finished, I approached him and asked where the Confederate ironclads were built during the war. He told me where to go (it just happened to be very near where we ate dinner). Sadly, there is nothing left on the location but just some trees. After we ate, we headed to City Hall where one of the Seven Inch Brooke rifles that was on board the CSS Tennessee during the Battle of Mobile Bay sits today. Two Confederate sailors were killed serving this very gun during that engagement. The rifle is marked S-5, which means it was the fifth Brooke Rifle cast at Selma. 

Left to Right: Me, Pat, and Larry with the sweetest piece of history in Selma

       I thought this was a pretty neat little Civil War trip, but Pat had a surprise in store for me the next day. He took me to a Confederate ironwork's and cemetery. I'll write that blog tomorrow, stay tuned. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Virginia Trip, My Buddy Jerry on Facebook, Excerpt From Upcoming Book

My Buddy Jerry with his twin brother V.M.I. Superintendent Francis Smith

       Lately, I've been giving my Virginia Civil Wargasm a lot of thought. That was a great trip and now I want to take Jerry, Mel, and my wife to Gettysburg. I've had the honor of visiting that battlefield twice. Like Franklin, Tennessee, it's one of my favorite fields. Although, the "what ifs" of that battle have been blown out of proportion, it's still fun for a Southerner to stand there and think of them.
       By the way, my buddy Jerry Smith is now on facebook and probably needs some friends, especially if you're a "good ole rebel." Very few people know this, but I've also rewritten my very first book which I think was poorly written. The first time is always the toughest, and I believe I've gotten better as I go. I thought it would be cool to use an excerpt here from the book that actually happened to a great Confederate officer from Louisiana named Roberdeau Chatham Wheat. The following comes from my upcoming book entitled Like A Stonewall

       Major Roberdeau Wheat, commander of the Louisiana Tigers walked up, gave a half hearted salute and gave Evans a rough pat on the back. The man was a giant at six feet, four inches. He weighted two hundred and seventy-five pounds. Wheat was an imposing man. He had be be to control his troops. The Louisiana Tigers were composed of ex-cons, dock workers, and some of the roughest Irishmen in the country. It took a man like Wheat to instill discipline on a group of that nature. The entire regiment wore the colorful zouve uniforms made famous by the French army. The majority of them had shaved their heads except for a small spot in the back that they pig-tail.
          His men were sunburned and muscular from hard labor on the docks of New Orleans. They were impressive looking men dressed in bright red shirts, blue and white striped baggy breeches, white gaiters, and the red fez. The fez was invented by Africans and adopted by the French while stationed in Morocco.
          Wheat's tigers loved the attention they receive from all the women. One Richmond journal has labeled them the most dangerous soldiers to ever march to a field of battle. That remained to be seen. They carried brass knuckles and bowie knives. Two of their officers have already fought a duel with each other and three privates have died from accidents.
          Evans figured he'd gotten command of the tigers because like them, he too was considered a bit rough around the edges. Evans liked Wheat. The man was quite jolly, never in a bad mood, always entertaining to be around. He seemed a bit immature for his thirty-five years. He's spent his life seeking adventure. Boredom was the one thing that would make Wheat sad. Wheat had  said he'd fought in the Mexican War for the pure pleasure of it. This war was just another adventure he'd embarked upon.
          Just two years younger than Evans, he looked and acted a lot younger. Evans thought of him as a boy, a huge boy. Wheat had a round face with a thin dark mustache. He was heavy, but not fat. His fingers reminded Evans of fat round sausages.

Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat

Excerpt from the next time we meet Wheat in the book:

       “Take your tigers and charge the center of the Federal line,” Evans shouted as he pointed toward the Union position.
          “You got it,” Wheat yelled back. He turned and gave orders for his battalion to move forward across the field into what every one of them knew was close quarters combat.
          Evans watched the giant lead his men forward. They gave a yell as they began to charge. He watched them begin in the right direction, but they soon changed direction and moved toward the Federal artillery. It wasn't what he'd asked for. He couldn't believe his eyes. A large portion of his men threw down their weapons and charged with Bowie knives drawn. He watched them get within twenty-five yards of the enemy artillery pieces. Evans was in awe of his brave men who were fearless enough to charge enemy cannons with only knives drawn. Deep down, he knew they couldn't succeed. Men began to fall at every step from the combined artillery and infantry fire.
          The most conspicuous figure among the group was Major Roberdeau Wheat. The gentle giant was in front of his men shouting and waving his sword. At that moment, something caught Evans eye. Another Federal regiment was coming onto the field already in line of battle. He watched them lower their muskets and open fire on Wheat's battalion. Just as quickly as Wheat's charge had begun, it was over. He saw the Louisiana Tigers disappear in a cloud of smoke. When the smoke cleared, many of the fancy dressed men were on the ground. The survivors were racing back toward Evans main line. Major Wheat lay on the ground with his men.

Jerry and I at the grave of Major Roberdeau Wheat in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia

Another excerpt for Wheat:

       The bullet had struck Roberdeau Wheat below the armpit, traveled through both lungs and exited his side. Two men attempted to carry the huge man toward the rear, but it was useless. He just weighed too much. One of the men recruited two more men and they placed Wheat in a blanket. It was all four men could do to lift the giant off the ground, but they were determined to get him to a surgeon. They weren't about to allow their brave commander to fall into Federal hands.
          Wheat coughed and blood ran down his clean shaven chin. They approached a split rail fence. Wheat gasped, “You may as well leave me here.”
          “Not gonna do it, Sir.” One of the men mumbled as he strained with the great weight.
          Another man nearby with a slight wound to his forearm moved over and said, “Better let me help.”
          They eased the blanket on the ground. The five of them took his arms, legs, while the other supported his head. They struggled to get him over the fence. Once across they placed him back on the blanket and struggled down the gentle rise toward the stream. Once over the stream, the real struggle began. They would have to lug the man over another fence and up Henry Hill. About half way up the hill they eased the blanket to the ground and collapsed around him in exhaustion.
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A Pre-War photograph of Major Wheat

       As the surgeon began his inspection, Wheat coughed up more blood and asked, “How bad is it?”
          The surgeon cut Wheat's shirt away and found the entry hole. He reached around on the other side and found where the bullet had exited his body. Shot through both lungs, the surgeon understood that Roberdeau Wheat had seen his last battle. There was just no way he could possibly survive such a wound. He frowned and said, “It's damned bad. I'm just gonna be honest with you. Your wound is mortal. You need to make your peace with God before it's too late.”
          Wheat smiled. Well, I don't feel like dying just yet.”
          The surgeon was surprised at the lightness of Wheat's mood at such ghastly news. He believed the major was just too afraid to face the truth. He said, “There is no case on record of anyone with such a wound having survived. I'm sorry, Major.”

          Wheat attempted to laugh, but coughed up more blood. He said, “Then, Doc, I will put my case on record.”

You will also notice that it hasn't been to the editor yet. So does Wheat survive the tragic wound? Does he survive the war? I guess I could be ugly and make everyone wait on the book, but all you'd have to do is search Wikipedia. So here is the final excerpt pertaining to Roberdeau Wheat:

       Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat who had been told he couldn't possibly survive being shot through both lungs did indeed put his case on record. Sadly, he would return to his command and be killed during the Battle of Gaines’ Mill almost a year later at the age of 36. He rests today in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia, which is considered the Arlington of the Confederacy.