Sunday, March 31, 2013

I'm Beginning To Despise Dogs

       Perhaps I should change the title to read "People are causing me to start despising dogs" or "People are causing me to despise them because of their dogs." Yesterday my wife and I went for a tour of the Spring Hill battlefield in Tennessee. Sadly, we couldn't walk on the trail because of so much dog poop. While we were there I noticed a lady stop her van, get her dog out and walk him out for a poop. Another man was walking his dog on the trail, but I never saw his dog pooping there. We were forced to walk off the trail in a field to avoid stepping in poop there was so much there. 
       The sad part to me is I consider this sacred ground. Men fought and died on this ground and today these places are used as a dog toilet. With the way the law has gotten today, these animals have more rights than humans. If I was to take a poop on a walking trail, I would be placed in jail because its insanitary. Why is it sanitary for dogs to poop where I'm attempting to walk? Perhaps some of these dog lovers can rationalize this for me. Maybe the few of us that use these places to honor our Civil War dead need to start shooting any dog we find on park land. That would certainly get some attention. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Homosexual Civil War Leaders

Walt Whitman with one of his supposed lovers

       We've all heard about Walt Whitman and his homosexuality or bisexuality.  If what has been written about Whitman is true, he moved a fifteen year old boy named Bill Duckett in with him as a lover. If true, today Whitman would be viewed as a child molester instead of a great poet. Now that same sex marriages and homosexual rights groups pressuring for equal rights, it should come as no surprise that these people should attempt to degrade the names of famous Civil War heroes in an attempt to better their own cause. When I read a recent blog about some of my Confederate heroes, I couldn't help but shake my head in disgust. If your going to write as a historian, you should do a little research. Yet, the blog I read was written by a homosexual author who wants to use our heroes and good decent men to help his own cause. 

Bill Duckett with Whitman at age 15

       Among the most ridiculous stories is one that is mentioned in two books, both written by homosexuals to further their own cause. The book American Masculinites and Conduct Unbecoming both attempt to prove a love affair between General Patrick Cleburne and one of his staff officers named Irving Buck. Let's take a look at the comment Buck made about his relationship with Cleburne and what how the books attempt to twist his words. 
       Buck wrote a biography on Cleburne after the war entitled Cleburne and His Command in which he is quoted as saying, "We were close and confidential. I habitually messed with him and shared his tent and often his blankets." 
       For those of you who are not familiar with the English language and its interpretation during that time period it may be easy to mistake what Buck was saying. Every soldier in the Civil War would share blankets with another man. Does this mean every Civil War soldier was homosexual? If one studies the gear carried by the soldier and reads books like Sam Watkins's Company Aytch you will understand that each soldier carried a gum blanket (water proof blanket) and one wool blanket. To stay warm at night, one soldier would place his gum blanket on the ground, two soldiers would lie on the blanket, they would use both wool blankets and the other gum blanket on top. This was especially helpful in wet weather and kept both men dry and warm. 
       While there are those of us that are too immature to understand what "mess with him" means, everyone in the army during those days referred to eating as having mess. In other words when Irving Buck "messed" with Cleburne, it means they ate meals together. 

Patrick Cleburne a true war hero

       The author of one of these books goes a step further. He attempts to mislead the reader into believing something about Cleburne that is only half true. In his attempt to swing Cleburne to his side of the homosexual argument, he says that Cleburne was a life long bachelor. This is true in a sense. What this idiot fails to tell you in his book is the fact that Cleburne had two girlfriend's back in Helena, Arkansas during the early 1850's and until the time the war began in 1860. One was Maggie Tollison and the other was Marion A. "Mitty" Yerby. He wrote a letter to his mother proclaiming that he had several girlfriends. Another letter to his brother gave the reason why he'd waited so long before marrying. He'd been wounded in a duel helping his friend Thomas Hindman and because of his health, he refused to marry until he was certain he was physically capable of providing for a wife. Because of the bullet wound to one of his lungs, he continued to cough up blood at times. In Helena, Cleburne also had a relationship with the Hargett sisters who were considered the most beautiful women in town. (Irving Buck even mentioned a time when several ladies came to Cleburne's camp to visit. He stated they were so beautiful that he wished he was a Mormon so he could marry them all.)
       The two authors of the books mentioned above also fail to mention the fact that Cleburne became engaged to Susan Tarleton of Mobile in 1864. This piece of information would damage their argument, therefore they chose to exclude it and his pre-war girlfriends from their books. Neither author cared much for the accuracy of their books, but chose to twist things to aide their side of the argument and to sell their books. Patrick Cleburne was a moral and upright man. He would be rolling over in his grave if he knew what these future men were doing to his name. Fortunately, the only two people who believe any of this are the two authors mentioned above and they probably know better. 

James Jay Archer

       Another Confederate general accused of being a homosexual is James Jay Archer of Maryland. Archer's father died when he was a boy leaving him to be raised in a house full of women only. He attended Princeton where he earned the nickname "Sally" because of his frail build. This along with the fact that he became intoxicated and hugged a man that he said he'd shared blankets with during the Mexican War (see Patrick Cleburne above) got him painted today as a homosexual. Archer was also never seen with women and never married. This along with the fact that he may have been somewhat feminine being raised around a family of all women may have helped start the rumor. Still, there is no evidence of him being homosexual.
       William Edwin "Grumble" Jones once accused Confederate General William W. Loring of having a lovers spat with a young boy. He noted that he had never seen Loring with a woman and assumed the man was homosexual, but not in so many words. During that time period, no man would mention something like this, but he alluded to the fact. If you know anything about General Jones you will know that he earned his nickname "Grumble". After his wife drowned, Jones had such a sour disposition that he was difficult to get along with at all. 

Abraham Lincoln

       Being a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I've heard numerous stories claiming that Abraham Lincoln was either homosexual or at the very least bi-sexual. C.A. Tripp in his book The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln claims that Lincoln spent his entire life with erotic attractions to other men. He goes on to note the living arrangements between Lincoln and his close friend Joshua Speed. They lived in a boarding house for over a year together sharing a bed. Does this make the man homosexual? Not at all, but modern authors and historians attempt to look at that time period through today's glasses. It's just not possible. As I have said numerous times, you can't study a different time period using the values of the present time to make your judgments of men. 
       As a historian, I would never paint an image of a man, North or South, friend or enemy as something that I can't prove is not true. I would never call Lincoln or Cleburne a homosexual unless I found hard evidence that it was true. These men, both important participants in our nations history whether we like either of them or not, deserve better. 


Monday, March 25, 2013

Confederate General's with ties to Colbert and Lauderdale Counties

Brigadier General James Deshler

       I was recently reading a local history book about the Confederate general's with ties to Colbert and Lauderdale County. The author left a few out and I just thought it would be fun to list some that he missed. Of course, most people around the area are familiar with James Deshler who attended West Point and was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga just after his promotion to brigadier general. Another local boy was Brigadier General John Gregg who was born in Leighton and graduated from Lagrange College. He then moved to Texas and soon commanded a brigade of infantry. He was killed in the fighting around Richmond, Virginia late in the war.

Brigadier General John Gregg

       Both of those generals were born in Colbert County, but Lauderdale County also was the home to two Confederate general officers. Brigadier General Edward Asbury O'Neal was born in Madison County, Alabama but soon made Florence his home. He would fight under Lee in Virginia until he made a mess of his attack at Gettysburg and was eventually returned to the west where he continued to serve. 

Brigadier General Edward Asbury O'Neal

       Brigadier General Sterling Alexander Martin Wood (nicknamed Sam because of his initials) was born in Florence. He would fight at Shiloh and later served in Cleburne's hard hitting division beside of James Deshler. After losing control of his brigade during the night assault he resigned his commission and moved to Tuscaloosa where he practiced law. Ironically, Wood Avenue in Florence is named after his brother who was an attorney there. 


Brigadier General S.A.M. Wood

       Brigadier General Thomas Neville Waul moved to Florence from South Carolina and taught school at the Florence Male Academy. He would teach here a couple of years before moving on to Vicksburg and eventually on to Texas. He would spend his Civil War service in the Trans-Mississippi Department (everything west of the Mississippi River was called the Trans-Mississippi). 

Brigadier General Thomas Neville Waul

       Major General William Wirt Allen had no prior ties to the area until after the war. He was born in New York and graduated from Princeton. During the war he rose to Major General in Joseph Wheeler's cavalry. He moved to Sheffield, Alabama in 1893 and died there a year later in 1894. First buried in Florence, he was eventually exhumed and buried in Birmingham's Elmwood Cemetery (the same place where Coach Bear Bryant rests today). 

Major General William Wirt Allen

       Another cavalry officer who had ties to the area was Brigadier General Lawrence Sullivan Ross (nicknamed Sul) who fought under Nathan Bedford Forrest. Ross was a Texan who traveled to the area to attend college at Wesleyan University in Florence, Alabama. The school eventually became the University of North Alabama. The building he took classes in is still there (in fact its where I took all my Political Science classes) and is called Wesleyan Hall today. 

Brigadier General Lawrence Sullivan Ross

       Brigadier General Edmund Winston Pettus also lived in Colbert County for a brief period of time. After finishing college he studied law in Tuscumbia, Alabama. He is most likely related to the Winston's who lived in Tuscumbia at the time. Sadly, the bridge named in his honor is recognized today more than he is. 

Brigadier General Edmund Winston Pettus

       Another Confederate General I thought I would include was Brigadier General Gideon Johnson Pillow although he never lived in the area. He was a Tennessean who fought in the Mexican War where he was laughed at because of having his soldiers dig their breastworks facing the wrong direction (if we're to believe Ulysses Grant). He was a self proclaimed military genius and was mostly responsible for the loss of Fort Donelson. He would be accused of cowardice at the Battle of Murfreesboro and there his career basically ended. 

Brigadier General Gideon Johnson Pillow

       At the insistence of his aide Sergeant Robert Patton, Pillow used the Sweetwater mansion in Florence as his headquarters. It was the fall of 1864 and Hood's army was poised to march into Tennessee. General Pillow was at this point given the position of commanding the Volunteer and Conscription Bureau of Hood's army (a fancy title given him after he failed as a field commander earlier in the war). 

Fountain in front of the Sweetwater Plantation

       According to the daughters of future Alabama governor Robert Patton, Pillow was pacing up and down the walk in front of the fountain in deep thought when he tripped and fell into the fountain, bruising himself and scaring the fish. The truth would be a lot different than that told in the Victorian Era. According to former slaves, there was a party at Sweetwater that night and General Pillow was intoxicated when he fell into the fountain. It was also reported that he broke his arm in the fall. One thing I'd be willing to bet about the incident, if he was indeed drunk, I bet he sobered up in a hurry hitting that cold water on a November night.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Argument of Black Confederates

Louis Nelson a black Confederate rifleman

       I enjoy reading all the arguments both for and against the possibility of black men serving in the Confederate army. You would be surprised about how upset both sides get on the subject. There are those who refuse to believe that a black man would do anything to support a government that supported slavery while there are those who believe over 100,000 blacks fought for the Confederacy. The truth of the matter is that both sides are missing the mark. Another problem that historians have today is attempting to look at history from the way people think today. A hundred years from now, it may be deemed immoral to slaughter animals for food. Those historians will look at our generation and shake their heads. While we don't think we've done anything wrong, there will be those historians who paint us all as evil.
       The first African slave mentioned on this continent was in Massachusetts in 1638. Ironically, its these same present day New Englander's who identify the evil South as the slave states. The state of New York freed its last slave in 1827, just 33 years prior to the war. The last slave on record in Pennsylvania appeared on in 1846, just 14 years prior to the war. The last handful of slaves in New Jersey were freed in 1865 by the 13th Amendment. At the same time, today we are 12 years removed from an attack on our country by terrorists. Have we changed our opinions about terrorists? A hundred years from now, our descendants may say those terrorists were correct and fighting for what they believed in, but does this make what they did right? 
       The entire thought of blacks fighting for the Confederacy is confusing or we wouldn't still be having this argument today. Louis Nelson served as a cook in the 7th Tennessee Cavalry during the first part of the war. This unit served under Bedford Forrest (the same evil Southerner who hated blacks and slaughtered them at Fort Pillow according to historians). In the latter stages of the war, he served as a rifleman. During the last part of the war, he was a chaplain, ministering to both white and black Confederates. He had memorized the Bible by heart. If you look for his service records you will not find anything. Not because he didn't serve, but because he was black. Since the Confederate government would not allow blacks to enlist, men like Louis were never considered a part of the Confederate army. Does this mean he wasn't a soldier? 
       I have an ancestor who volunteered and was employed as a scout against the British army during the Revolutionary War. He was captured in this role and held prisoner for almost two years. When the war ended, he was released. Was he a Revolutionary soldier? According to the line of thinking among these "North was right, South was wrong" people, he was not. He applied for a pension and because he had no military records was denied a pension although he was a war prisoner for almost two years.
       I worked with a fellow years ago that was a cook in Vietnam. He never fired any type weapon in combat. He did enlist and was lucky enough to be placed in the kitchen while other poor men were fighting and dying. Does this mean he was not a soldier? He draws a military pension today and is considered a veteran. According to the rules set forth by some historians, this man was a soldier (although he never fired a weapon in anger), while Louis Nelson didn't have a piece of paper declaring  him a soldier (he served as a rifleman), this means Nelson was not a black Confederate according to historians. The line is fine and historians get caught up in the argument and refuse to yield an inch either way in an attempt to prove their side was right. 

Nelson Winbush

       Nelson Winbush is the descendant of Louis Nelson. He is also a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans as am I. We are both proud descendants of Confederate soldiers. Winbush has been attacked by the NAACP for his support of what his grandfather believed. During the antebellum period, slaves were considered a part of the family. My ancestors were too poor to own slaves. Some slaves were better off than my ancestors. Mary Chesnut said that slavery was not worth the trouble. When a 1000 dollar slave (27,000 dollars in today's money) got sick, you ran to get a doctor. When slavery was over, you paid the same person minimum wage and when they got sick and were no longer capable of employment, you hired someone else.
       Nelson Winbush denies today that Lincoln freed a single slave. He has the ability to realize that Lincoln's emancipation proclamation freed slaves in the states in rebellion and no other. In other words, Lincoln freed slaves he had no power to free, but didn't free a single slave in the states he could have. I salute Nelson Winbush whom I consider a brother above any of these northern white men who attempt to stir up trouble between our races by painting the white southerner as a criminal to self-serve their own agenda. I believe to their discredit and frustration that Nelson Winbush would side with me.
       The entire argument is frustrating because the Confederate army kept poor records as it was. Knowing how many actually served the Confederacy will never be known. We do know many served as cooks and many more were used to dig entrenchments. Some say the number was as high as 100,000 and one Harvard professor places the number as low as 7,000. Either way, it is known that some blacks actually fought while others served in supporting roles. As I like to say that war was over nothing more than money. Allow me to quote Abraham Lincoln, "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it..."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Confederate General named Grumble

William Edmundson "Grumble" Jones

       Among the many Confederate generals I admire, one of my favorites is Brigadier General William Edmundson Jones who earned the nickname "Grumble." William Jones was born in Washington County, Virginia in 1824. He graduated from West Point ranked 10th out of 38 members of the class of 1848. His ranking in conduct wasn't nearly so high. 
       Following graduation, William served in the old army without seeing any combat. In 1852, he was granted a furlough, returned home to Virginia and married Eliza Dunn. As they were traveling back to his post on the west coast, they boarded a ship in New Orleans. The boat sank off the coast of Texas. William attempted to save Eliza but she was swept from his arms and drowned. Following her death one man noted that Jones seemed to take pleasure in pain as if he was doing penance for something he had done wrong. Perhaps he blamed himself for his wife's death. Still grieving and tired of the boredom of a peace time army, Jones resigned his commission in 1857 and settled down to his plantation in Virginia. 

Jones while still serving in the U.S. Army sometime before 1857

       He led Company D, 1st Virginia Cavalry at the Battle of Manassas as a captain. When the regiment's commander J.E.B. Stuart was promoted to brigadier general, William was promoted to colonel. The troopers of the 1st Virginia didn't like William as well as they had J.E.B. Stuart. Thus would start a bitter hatred between Jones and Stuart that would last until the two officers deaths. During the regimental election in 1862, the 1st Virginia Cavalry would vote William out as commander. He would then take over the 7th Virginia Cavalry. The units he worked with were lose in discipline, but Jones soon whipped them into effective soldiers. 
       Jones would dress as his men. One man wrote that he wore an old homespun suit, wore a yellow hat that matched his old yellow mare. He wore no insignia of his rank. One soldier said he looked like a tramp on horseback. His men didn't love him because of the discipline he instilled, but they did respect him. He had earned the nickname "Grumble" because of his irritable disposition and the loss of his wife had made him even more irascible. Though he was a close friend to Stonewall Jackson, there were few others he befriended. J.E.B. Stuart's staff officers took the brunt of his rage. 
       Because of his actions in battle at Cedar Mountain, Stonewall Jackson insisted Jones be promoted to brigadier general. His men also learned that Grumble was a good commander in combat and he gained more respect. In late 1862, Stuart complained to General Lee about Jones and attempted to have him replaced. He claimed that in all his dealings with Jones, he found the man defiant and insubordinate. 
       He led a raid in early 1863 that was a total failure, but rebounded to go on a spring raid with  his and Brigadier General John D. Imboden's brigade which saw success. Imboden said Grumble was a hard fighter, brave as a lion, but he was a man of high temper, morose and fretful. 
       Jones continued to lead his men until June of 1864. There at the Battle of Piedmont his small force faced over 12,000 Federal troops. The numbers in Jones's command have been reported from 2000 to 5000 men. During the fight, Jones was shot in the head and killed. His small force was then severely defeated. His body was carried back to Glade Spring, Virginia and buried next to that of his wife. 

The marker near the spot where Grumble was killed

       Grumble Jones was 40 years old. 

Grave of Grumble Jones

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lady Spies of the Confederacy Part 3

Lottie Moon

       Virginia Bethel "Ginnie" Moon and Charlotte Diggs "Lottie" Moon were a duo of sisters that spied for the Confederacy. Both were born in Virginia, but moved to Ohio as youngsters. Lottie is more famously known for leaving Federal General Ambrose Burnside at the alter on their marriage day. Both were the daughters of a doctor. Lottie eventually married a Judge Clark who happened to be a Confederate sympathizer. She delivered messages to Virginia by saying she was a British citizen and needed to go to Virginia for her health. 
       While Lottie was busy delivering dispatches to Confederate authorities, Ginnie had moved to Memphis to be with her mother following Doctor Moon's death. There she and her mother began making trips to Ohio to gather information for the Confederacy also. The Moon sisters were eventually arrested by none other than General Ambrose Burnside. Lottie tried to convince him to release them, but he would have none of it. They were placed in a sort of house arrest until the war ended and were then released.

Virginia Bethel Ginnie Moon

Ginnie Moon

       Ginnie returned to Memphis with her mother. She traveled to Hollywood, California where she played in two movies in the 1920's and died at the age of 81 in 1925. She rests in Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee and although I have been there numerous times I did not know at the time she was there or I would have made a special trip to visit her grave. Lottie died in New York in 1912 at the age of 72. 

       Another female spy for the Confederacy was Elizabeth Carraway Howland who was not near as famous. She lived in New Bern, North Carolina and her father was a doctor. She served as a nurse to wounded and captured Confederate soldiers there. She often smuggled in medicine and food to these poor men. She also drew a sketch of the Federal fortifications there and had the drawing delivered to the Confederates by placing it in a hollowed out ham bone. She sent her son and daughter to the Federal officer in charge to pass the ham through to the Confederates and this way succeeded in getting out the map.

Eugenia Levy Phillips

       Another amazing Confederate spy is Eugenia Levy Phillips. Born in South Carolina, she married a Mobile, Alabama attorney named Phillip Phillips and moved there. When the war began Mr. Phillips was a member of the Alabama legislature and being a staunch Unionist moved to Washington, D.C. Eugenia was a staunch Secessionist. She soon became friends with Rose O'Neal Greenhow (the famous spy in part 1) and was soon arrested for spying. Her husband knew Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and soon had her released but they were forced to leave the North. They settled eventually in New Orleans, Louisiana where she was again arrest by Federal General Benjamin "Beast" Butler because she laughed during a Union soldiers funeral. She claimed she'd laughed because something funny had occurred. They soon moved back to Georgia where she remained until her death in 1902.


Emeline Pigott

       Emeline Pigott was a more organized Confederate spy. Her boyfriend was a soldier named Stokes McRae who served in the 26th North Carolina Infantry. He was mortally wounded at Gettysburg. She had followed the regiment during the first part of the war attempting to be of some service. Following his death, Emeline returned home to Morehead City, North Carolina where she employed fishermen to help her spy on Federal movements. She was arrested in 1864 and an attempt was made on her life while held in jail. Someone used chloroform to attempt to kill her and she was forced to break a window for fresh air. Although, she was scheduled for trial numerous times, she was eventually released. Federal soldier's would entertain themselves by firing at her house. Emeline would survive the war and died in 1919 at the age of 82. She was a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. 
        I thought 3 parts would cover them all, but it appears there will be a part 4 soon.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lady Spies of the Confederacy, Part 2

Laura Ratcliffe

       Another lady who provided information to both J.E.B. Stuart and John Mosby was Laura Ratcliffe. She was 24 years old when South Carolina left the Union. General Stuart wrote poems to Laura for her service to the country. John Mosby credited her with saving his life once. She had learned of an ambush intended for Mosby and Laura and her sister walked through inclement weather to warn the partisan. 
       In 1914, Laura fell and possibly broke her hip. The reason it was never known if it was broken or not was because the town doctor was male and she refused to allow him to examine her. Regardless, she remained an invalid until her death in 1923 at the age of 87. 

File:Loreta Janeta Velazquez .jpg

Loretta Janeta Velazquez
A.K.A. Lieutenant Harry Buford

       One of the more interesting stories is that of Loretta Janeta Velazquez. She was born in Cuba. Loretta's father hated the United States and Loretta further alienated her family by eloping with a soldier and converting from Catholicism to Methodism. 
       When the war began the 18 year old Cuban asked her husband to allow her to join the army with him. When he refused, she bought a uniform and raised her own command of 246 men while disguised as an officer named Henry Buford. After her husband died in an accident during the early part of the war, she claims to have fought for the Confederacy at First Manassas. She then got bored with camp life and donning a dress went to Washington. There she claimed to have met Abraham Lincoln and spied for the South. Everything that is known about her is written in her 600 page book, but historians dismiss a lot of her claims because there is no proof most of it happened. The adventures just come across as too grand. Confederate General Jubal Early claimed the entire book was one big lie. 
       After the war, Loretta traveled around Europe and South America. She eventually returned to the United States and  moved west. It is only fitting that this mysterious woman's place of death and date is unknown. Some believe she died in 1897.

Belle Edmondson

       Isabella "Belle" Buchanan Edmondson was twenty years old when the war began. Born in Mississippi, she lived  just south of Memphis, Tennessee during the war. After Memphis fell to the Federals, Belle smuggled medicine, money, and information in her petticoats to the Confederate army. Federal General Stephen Hurlburt in command of Memphis learned of her activities and issued a warrant for her arrest. She managed to escape down into Mississippi where she remained for the rest of the war. She died in 1873 at the age of 33 and rests today in Memphis's Elmwood Cemetery.

Mary Kate Patterson

       Born in Kentucky, Mary Kate and her family had moved to Tennessee. When the war began she was 16 years old. Nashville, Tennessee was occupied early in the war by the Federal army and Kate's family lived  just a few miles southeast of that city. She smuggled drugs, boots, blankets, almost anything needed by the Confederate army through the lines. Her buggy had a false bottom where she concealed these items. 
       Mary Kate soon fell in love with John Davis, the older brother of Sam Davis. She actually bought the boots that Sam was wearing when he was captured by the Federals and executed in Pulaski, Tennessee. It was Mary Kate that volunteered to travel to Pulaski and identify the body of poor Sam Davis. 
       Mary Kate went on to marry John Davis, but he was killed in a steamboat accident two years after the war ended. She would survive two more husbands and die in 1931 at the age of 93. She is the first woman to have been allowed burial in Confederate Circle, Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee. A piece of the vest worn by Sam Davis when he was hanged was pinned to her blouse before burial. 


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lady Spies of the Confederacy, Part 1

Rose O'Neal Greenhow

       My wife asked me yesterday for some information on women who spied for the Confederate States of America. I did a little research, but I think she wanted more out of me. So this blog is written special for her. The blog is so long, I've decided to write it in two or three parts. You may wonder why there were so many female spies during the Civil War and I've read that although the United States threatened to hang these brave ladies, they never did. Therefore it was safer when a woman was caught spying because a man would be quickly hanged. 
       One of the most famous female spies for the Confederacy was Rose Rosetta O'Neal. Rose was born in Maryland. She married Dr. Robert Greenhow and they lived together in the nations capital. Rose was 45 when she was arrested in Washington D.C. on charges of espionage. She had passed coded messages to Thomas Jordan, Beauregard's chief of staff during the First Manassas Campaign. Head of the Secret Service Allan Pinkerton found incriminating evidence at Rose's home and she was placed in the Old Capital Prison. Her eight year old daughter and namesake "Little Rose" was permitted to stay there with her. 
       Rose was released from prison and sent through the lines to Richmond, Virginia. She was so loyal that she went to Europe and sold her memoirs. She was returning with two thousand dollars worth of gold (her own royalties) to place in the Confederate treasury. When her ship ran aground, she climbed into a rowboat at Wilmington, North Carolina. A wave capsized the boat and she drowned because of the gold around her neck. 
       Her body was recovered and buried in Oakdale, Cemetery, Wilmington, North Carolina. My wife is president of her chapter of the Order of the Confederate Rose which is named in her honor.

Belle Boyd

       Another famous female Confederate spy was Belle Boyd. She was only sixteen years old when South Carolina seceded from the Union. Belle was born in what is modern day West Virginia. She shot and killed a Federal soldier that had cursed her mother and was exonerated by a court of inquiry. She then charmed Federal Captain Daniel Keily into telling her military secrets. She sent messages to the Confederates by her servant girl Eliza Hopewell. She also hid in a closet and eavesdropped on a meeting of Federal General James Shields and his staff. She rode through the lines that night to give the information to Confederate General Turner Ashby who passed the information on to his commander Stonewall Jackson. When Jackson took Front Royal (where Belle lived) she ran into the street to meet him. Jackson was so impressed with her that he made her an honorary captain on his staff. 
       Belle was arrested for spying three times during the war. In 1864, she traveled to England and ironically married a Federal naval officer. When he died, she returned to New Orleans, Louisiana and married John Hammond. They divorced soon thereafter and she married a third time. She would spend the rest of her life touring the United States and making lectures about her war exploits. She died of a heart attack while on one of these tours in Wisconsin and was subsequently buried there. 

female Civil War spy

Antonio Ford

       Antonio Ford was born in Virginia and she was 23 years old and unmarried when South Carolina seceded. She reported everything that she heard from Federal officers staying at her home during the Manassas Campaign and passed all the information on to Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart. Like Jackson would do a year later with Belle Boyd, Stuart made Antonio an honorary member of his staff. She would continue to pass information to J.E.B. Stuart and John Mosby. She is credited with helping Mosby capture Federal General Stoughton. She was finally found out and arrested on March 10, 1863. She too was placed in the Old Capital Prison in Washington. 
       Her health failing, Federal General Joseph Willard had fallen in love with her, persuaded her to sign an oath of loyalty to the United States. This gained her release and they soon were married. She would only survive until 1871 when she died and is buried in Washington D.C. It is believed her death was a direct result of her captivity during the war. 

Nancy Hart

       Nancy Hart was just 14 when South Carolina seceded from the Union. She was born in North Carolina but her family moved to Virginia just a few miles east of what was to become the state of West Virginia. Nancy grew up as what would today be called a tomboy. It was said she could ride and shoot as well as any man. When Federal soldiers came to the home where she lived and carried off a citizen named William Clay Price and killed him, a hatred of Federals began to grow in Nancy. She left home and joined the Moccasin Rangers and became a scout and guide. 
       She was soon captured and taken to Summersville, West Virginia where she was ordered to wear a dress and pose for a photograph. The photographer said she refused to smile because she hated wearing a dress (although an interesting story, no one smiled in photographs back then). Nancy escaped that very night and joined another unit. Following the war Nancy married a fellow ranger Joshua Douglas and moved to West Virginia. She died while milking cows in 1913. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Edwin Stanton and the Death of Lincoln

Edwin Stanton

       I've recently began re-reading a book called The Lincoln Conspiracy by David Balsiger and Charles E. Sellier, Jr which was written in 1977. I've read reviews of this book and find that this book was put down by most historians at the time. True, the book is basically a conspiracy theory and we all know that historians despise conspiracy theories because that would make them appear they don't know the true history. The book may not be correct, but it opens up a lot of questions I've often had about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
       The book implicates Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in the plot to rid the government of Lincoln. Stanton had a lot to gain from Lincoln's death. The man didn't actually come across as being perfectly sane. In 1833, Stanton's landlady's daughter died of cholera, Stanton refused to believe the girl was dead and had her exhumed to be certain. He had a mania concerning death. He feared death, but couldn't put the thought out of his mind. In 1841, when his young daughter died, he became so grieved, he had her coffin dug up and placed in his bedroom where he kept it for two years. In 1844, his wife died and though depressed he was almost over the loss when his brother committed suicide. He had to be restrained at the funeral. 
       None of this means Stanton was in on a plot to have Lincoln assassinated. Yet, there are certain questions that should be answered before we totally dismiss this idea. The first thing that seems strange is John Wilkes Booth's diary which was complete when it came into the hands of Stanton. The diary now has 13 missing pages. According to Balsiger and Sellier, they have examined these pages that are now in the possession of Stanton's descendants and find numerous entry's that incriminate Stanton in the murder. 
       Stanton also rushed the trial of the conspirator's at the Washington Arsenal and just as quickly had them executed as if he were in fear they may know something that could be used to implicate them. Of course all this is mere conjecture. John Wilkes Booth did leave a message with Vice-President Andrew Johnson, the man who stood to replace Lincoln on the night of the assassination. It read, "Don't wish to disturb you are you at home? J. Wilkes Booth." Mary Lincoln later told a friend, "that miserable inebriate Johnson, had cognizance of my husband's death - Why, was that card of Booth's, found in his box, some acquaintance certainly existed - I have been deeply impressed, with the harrowing thought, that he, had an understanding with the conspirators & they knew their man... As sure, as you & I live, Johnson, had some hand, in all this." Balsiger and Sellier both state that Booth owed Johnson a favor for helping him earlier in the war. 
       We know that Stanton was a hard man. He wanted the South punished for the rebellion and was troubled that Lincoln wanted to "let them up easy." The 1937 book Why Was Lincoln Murdered by Otto Eisenschiml puts Stanton as the ringleader of the plot to kill Lincoln. Lincoln had asked Stanton's personal secretary Thomas Eckert to accompany him to the play because of threats against his life. Stanton claimed to have important work for Eckert and couldn't spare him. As soon as Lincoln left his office, Stanton sent Eckert home. 
       There is more incriminating evidence against Stanton. The one bridge that he failed to notify to stop anyone from leaving just happened to be the one Booth and Herold used to escape. The telegraph system immediately went dead upon Lincoln being shot. 
       Most modern historians believe that Stanton is innocent and further efforts to involve him should be stopped. I haven't really got an opinion on Stanton either way, but do find some of his actions a bit strange. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Railroad Accidents in Mississippi and One in Massachusetts

       I've recently been researching a couple of train crashes in Mississippi near Corinth. One resulted in the death of two train crews in 1887 and the other in a collision in 1940. I've found very little information online, but have found lots of other interesting info. The following accidents will give you an idea of how dangerous the railroad used to be and still can be.

1940- H. B. COLE, Canton, MS, for many years a resident of Quitman, fatally injured in a head-on traffice collision five miles west of Canton last Friday. He died in a Canton hospital Friday afternoon. 

1940- Josh SCARBROUGH, colored, about 34, killed by the Mobile and Ohio northbound freight train Monday afternoon. Accident occurred in northern part of Quitman and it is reported that SCARBROUGH was attempting to board the train and in some way missed his footing. His head and both arms were severed from his body.

1940- Kentwood, La., Dec. 24 - Funeral services held here for F. G. Melvin, 33, who was killed in a train collision.

1941- James Oatis Hayes, negro, age 21, from Corinth, MS, fell from train and amputated both legs, died in the Independence hospital.

1853- Franklin Pierce served as 14th President of the United States from March 4, 1853, to March 4, 1857. He began his presidency in mourning. Two months before, on January 6, 1853, the President-elect's family had been trapped in a train from Boston when their car derailed and rolled down an embankment near Andover, Massachusetts. Pierce and his wife survived but saw their last son, 11-year-old Benjamin, crushed to death. Jane Pierce viewed the train accident as a divine punishment for her husband's pursuit and acceptance of high office.

These are just a few of what I have found, but I haven't given up on obtaining the accident reports from the other two incidents.