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November 2011

Johnny Reb Toy Cannon

Just in time for Christmas! The Remco Johnny Reb Cannon was introduced during the Civil War Centennial in 1961. Over 31 inches long it fired plastic cannonballs up to 35 feet when the lanyard was pulled. The cannon came with six plastic cannon balls, ramrod and a Rebel flag.Only $11.98! 

Produced at a time when playing war, shooting toy guns and remembering Southern heroes was not considered politically incorrect. 

Nonprofit aims to save Civil War's 'Kitty Hawk

By STEVE SZKOTAK, Associated Press

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. (AP) — It was the Civil War's "Kitty Hawk moment," and it happened here when balloons manned by Confederate and Union aeronauts floated above a field of battle — the first time warring armies sent their air ships aloft simultaneously over U.S. soil.

The historic encounter in the skies occurred on June 27, 1862, when two Union balloons — the Intrepid and the Washington — rose aloft only miles west of Richmond while their Southern counterpart, Gazelle, floated over the capital of the Confederacy. These balloons were the unarmed drones of war, collecting intelligence on rival troop movements from a vantage of 1,000 feet above the earth.

Continue reading "Nonprofit aims to save Civil War's 'Kitty Hawk" »

General Order No. 11


One of the most stunning items on display at the Missouri History Museum's "Civil War in Missouri"  exhibit is George Caleb Bingham's  painting of General Order No. 11. I General Thomas Ewing is seated on a horse watching the Red Legs enforce the order. I was struck by Bingham's use of light and shadow, a near photographic sense of depth of field, and the use of detail to bring the drama to life.

General Order No. 11 is the title of a Union Army directive issued during the Civil War on 25 August 1863, forcing the evacuation of rural areas in four counties in western Missouri. The order, issued by Union General Thomas Ewing, affected all rural residents regardless of their allegiance. Those who could prove their loyalty to the Union were permitted to stay in the affected area, but had to leave their farms and move to communities near military outposts. Those who could not do so had to vacate the area altogether.

While intended to deprive pro-Confederate guerrillas of material support from the rural countryside, the severity of the Order's provisions and the sometimes savage nature of its enforcement alienated vast numbers of civilians, and ultimately led to conditions in which the Rebel bushwhackers actually found themselves with even greater access to supplies than before. It was repealed in January of 1864, as a new General took command of Union forces in the region.

Thanksgiving Proclamation By President Davis

1862 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation by CSA President Jefferson Davis

President Jefferson Davis, Confederate States of America, made the following Thanksgiving Day proclamation in 1862. His first such proclamation, "a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer," had been issued in 1861. It was not until two years later that  Abraham Lincoln copied Davis and announced the first official Thanksgiving day in the North.

Continue reading "Thanksgiving Proclamation By President Davis" »

Preserving History on 150th Anniversary of Civil War


150 years ago today, Cincinnati was no doubt abuzz with news of the Battle of Ivy Mountain ... a Civil War battle in Eastern Kentucky a few days before. The 150th anniversary of the Civil War is a chance to re-examine the conflict which ultimately would define the United States. Local 12 News reporter Jeff Hirsh shows us one man who has a closer connection to that war than most-his great-great-grandfather was a Union soldier who is buried in Cincinnati.

Spring Grove Cemetery is the final resting place for hundreds of Civil War veterans, some of whom fought and died in the war, others who survived like John L. Jeffries "That's a picture of him in the 17th Pennsylvania. This is a U.S. Army officer's square belt buckle. It's the standard American eagle. Back in the day the leather would have been black and shiny. This would have been a nice polished brass. It is what it is after 150 years."

And that's not all Jeffries carried into battle:"So this is the 1850 model U.S. Infantry sword. Basically captains and above would carry something like this. The higher the rank the more ornate the sword would get, and they also had presentation swords. This is what they would use to actually command their company."

It was a difficult life-breaking camp, marching for miles and once you got wherever you were going ... hoping you would come back alive. Jeffries was shot through the hand, returned to the war, and was shot again, in the arm. Jeffries was 32 years old when he signed up in 1861, as a 90-day volunteer in his native Pennsylvania. The father of four children, Jeffries rose through the ranks to captain. "The picture on the wall is him in his officer's uniform."

John Jeffries fought in battle after battle, and witnessed things he could never forget, no matter how hard he tried: "I would imagine after being wounded twice and seeing your brother killed in combat he had what we now call post traumatic stress. I'm sure that was a factor in why he wanted to leave the east behind and move to Cincinnati."

Jeffries lived in the East End and then moved to Madisonville, where he died in 1901. But his legacy lives on.

From WKRC Cincinatti

Civil War photographer's NY birthplace located

File:Mathew Brady 1875 cropped.jpg

Associated Press

JOHNSBURG, N.Y. — A century and a half after his photographs gave the American public its first graphic images of Civil War battlefields, Mathew Brady's long-lost Adirondack birthplace has been found by a pair of history buffs.

Milda Burns and Glenn Pearsall tell the Post-Star of Glens Falls ( ) that they used information from the 1830 census and Brady's letters to relatives to locate what's believed to be the family homestead's foundation in Warren County, in the southeastern Adirondacks 65 miles north of Albany.

Historians have long known that Brady was born to Irish immigrants in 1822 somewhere in the county, but the exact location wasn't known.

A small blue marker has been erected in the town of Johnsburg designating it as the famous Civil War photographer's birthplace.

Brady left Johnsburg when he was 16.

Information from: The Post-Star,
Copyright 2011 Associated Press

Unes holds press conference on Lincoln tomb copper theft

Submitted Photo

State Rep. Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) discusses his copper theft legislation, House Bill 3825, in front of the Lincoln Tomb, where a copper sword of a Civil War General was recently stolen. The sword is the only copper piece on the bronze memorial statue located on the exterior of the Lincoln Tomb.   

East Peoria, Ill. —

State Rep. Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) said the passage of his legislation aimed to end the rash of copper theft can no longer wait after the issue reached a new height when a historical copper sword was stolen from a statue at Lincoln’s Tomb.

Rep. Unes was joined by a representative of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency at a press conference Nov. 14 at Lincoln’s Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery to discuss HB 3825 aimed at reining in the recent rash of copper and recyclable metal thefts throughout Illinois.

Continue reading "Unes holds press conference on Lincoln tomb copper theft" »

Honoring ancestors

Sons of Confederate Veterans Protester from Jasper,GA at Plant Wansley (11/7/11)
from on Vimeo.

Steve Monk, an advocate for the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, speaks to about the reasons he is protesting outside the gates of the Georgia Power owned Plant Wansley on Monday afternoon, November 7, 2011. Plant Wansley is located in Heard and Carroll Counties in West Central Georgia. Georgoia Power had removed Confederate Flags from the graves of several Civil War soldiers. The flags were ultimately returned to family members and restored to the grave site. 


Copper sword stolen from statue at Lincoln's Tomb

Copper sword stolen from statue at Lincoln's Tomb

A view of Abraham Lincoln's tomb in 2009. (Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune)

Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD -- Thieves have taken a 3-foot-long copper sword atop Lincoln's Tomb in what is believed to be the first theft at the site in more than a century.

An employee noticed last week that the sword was cut from a statue of a Civil War artillery officer, theSpringfield State Journal-Register reported Saturday. Officials think the sword was stolen sometime between September and early November.

Nothing had been stolen from the Springfield site, which is the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln, since the sword on the same statue was taken more than 100 years ago, said Dave Blanchette, a spokesman for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Then, the sword was bronze.

"We just cannot imagine why someone would even think about doing it, let alone climb up the steps and actually do it," Blanchette said.

The statue is on the tomb's balcony, which is closed to visitors. Workers would likely have spotted a thief during the day, but no one guards the tomb at night, Blanchette said.

A security guard was posted overnight after a 1987 incident in which racist graffiti was spray-painted on the tomb. Five teenagers were arrested. But budget cuts ended that position within a few years of the incident, he said.

The rest of the statue was unharmed. Officials plan to fix the statue, Blanchette said.

From the Chicago Tribune