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April 2013

Private Williams Jehu Ledbetter (CSA)

Private Williams Jehu Ledbetter, Co. L  4th Alabama Cavalry CSA

"A story handed down by Williams J. Ledbetter's descendants is the limestone rock in the area of the battle of Day's Gap near Cullman, Alabama was so close to the surface of the ground the Confederate soldiers couldn't bury the dead.  The dead were rolled down into a steep ravine.  A soldier preparing to roll William J. Ledbetter down into the ravine noticed he was wearing a Masonic emblem around his neck.  Being a Mason himself, he examined Williams more closely and determined he was alive.  At this soldier's insistence, Williams was taken back with the wounded and after weeks of suffering, subsequently recovered from his wounds with the exception of the total loss of sight in both eyes.  He was 38 years of age at the time." 

Continue reading "Private Williams Jehu Ledbetter (CSA)" »

This week in the Civil War for April 28, 1863

UnknownBattle of Chancellorsville, wounding of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

Warmer weather after the winter brings renewed fighting at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia 150 years ago this week in the Civil War. Union generals attempt to crumple in Confederate lines near the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers close to Fredericksburg.

Ultimately the Union forces line up against Confederate rivals near Chancellorsville, Va., on April 30, 1863. Union forces advance and fighting opens May 2, 1863, with a Confederate attack organized by its supreme general, Robert E. Lee. In the fierce combat that ensues, the Southern rebels smash through the Union line for a Confederate victory.

Thought Lee gained a major victory, one of his greatest fighters, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, was wounded by friendly fire in the confusion of battle May 2. Jackson died several days later On May 10, 1863. His remains were taken to Richmond, seat of the Confederacy, for a final tribute before burial. For the Confederacy, the loss of Jackson was a stinging blow.

From The Associated Press and ABC News Go

Jewish soldiers in Blue and Gray


JEWISH SOLDIERS IN BLUE & GRAY a first-of-its-kind film that reveals the little-known struggles facing American Jews both in battle and on the home front during the nation’s deadliest war, Recently unearthed personal narratives shed new light on this fascinating chapter in American history and powerfully illustrate the unique role Jews played on the battlefields and the home front.

Chronicles Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s infamous 1862 mandate to expel Jewish residents from Union-controlled land and shares the story of President Lincoln’s doctor-turned-Union spy.

General Order No. 11 was the title of an order issued by Major-General Ulysses S. Grant on December 17, 1862, during the Civil War. It ordered the expulsion of all Jews in his military district, comprising areas of Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky.. The order was issued as part of a Union campaign against a black market in Southern cotton, which Grant thought was being run “mostly by Jews and other unprincipled traders.”

Following protests from Jewish community leaders and an outcry by members of Congress and the press, President Lincoln ordered this revoked a few weeks later. During his campaign for the presidency in 1868, Grant repudiated the order, saying that it had been drafted by a subordinate and that he had signed it without reading it during warfare.

John Y Simon (1979). The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Volume 7: December 9, 1862 - March 31, 1863. SIU Press. p. 56.

From: The Civil War Parlor

Colonel Robert A. Smith

Memorial to 26 year old Edinburgh born Colonel Robert A. Smith member of the Confederate States Army, 10th Mississippi Infantry Regiment who fought in the American Civil War and fell mortaly wounded at the Battle of Mumfordsville, Kentucky, September 14th 1862. 

He joined the Confederate Army at the outbreak of the American Civil War and was elected Colonel of the 10th Mississippi Regiment in 1861 after the first Colonel died unexpectedly.  The memorial depicted is located in Victorian Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh, Scotland.  His remains are buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Jackson, Mississippi.  The memorial reads:

‘Colonel Robert A. Smith of the 10th Mississippi regiment Confederate State Army, a native of Edinburgh who fell mortally wounded at the Battle of Mumfordsville, Kentucky, September 14th 1862 whilst gallant leading in the charge of Fort Craig.  Age 26’

From: Memory of the Green on Tumblr

The man who shot John Wilkes Booth

Thomas P. “Boston” Corbett-The Man that Killed John Wilkes Booth was “Mad as a Hatter” - 

Corbett castrated himself with a pair of scissors in order to avoid the temptation of prostitutes. He then ate a meal and went to a prayer meeting, before going for medical treatment.

He disappeared after 1888, but circumstantial evidence suggests that he died in the Great Hinckley Fire in 1894, although this remains impossible to substantiate. Born in England, He became a hatter in Troy, New York. It has been suggested that the fumes of mercury used in the hatter’s trade caused Corbett’s later mental problems.

Corbett shot Booth with his Colt revolver despite Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton’s orders that Booth should be taken alive. Eyewitness Lieutenant Edward Doherty, the officer in charge of the soldiers who captured Booth and Herold, stated that “the bullet struck Booth in the back of the head, about an inch below the spot where his shot had entered the head of Mr. Lincoln.” His spinal cord was severed, and he died two hours later. When asked later why he did it, Corbett answered that “Providence directed me”

Boston Corbett was immediately arrested for violation of his orders, but Stanton later had the charges dropped. Stanton remarked, “The rebel is dead. The patriot lives.” Corbett received his share of the reward money, amounting to $1,653.84

From The Civil War Parlor

James Tanner

James Tanner, Circa 1866 Collection of Michael Robert Patterso

A Famous Figure Lost to History- James Tanner, Army Stenographer was an amputee who lost both legs in Battle of Second Bull Run (Manassas)

Without This Man We Would Have No Comprehensive Record of the Night Lincoln Was Assassinated.

Tanner studied stenography and worked at the War Department in Washington. On the evening of April 14, 1865 he hurried to Ford’s Theater on hearing that President Lincoln had been shot. He remained there throughout the night with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and took a complete shorthand notes as the search for the assassin was planned and carried out. His record of events that evening at the Peterson House (across from the theater) remain the most comprehensive record of the events that followed the President’s shooting. He later founded a Veteran’s organization and spoke at the dedication of the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.

James Tanner died at Washington, D.C. on October 2, 1927 and was buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.

From the Civil War Parlor

N.C. Teacher Helps Fifth-Graders Make History (Civil War History)


( CBS News) WALNUT COVE, N.C. - In most schools, getting kids to care about Civil War history is a losing battle, but at London Elementary in Walnut Cove, N.C., they’re winning the war - by reliving it. 

For three full school days every spring, the fifth graders walk out of their classrooms and into one of the most elaborate grade-school history lessons in America.

“It hit me,” Kloe said. “If it was real, I’d see my best friend fall on the ground and not get back up.”

Most history teachers work a lifetime hoping for a fraction of that connection.

Props to Teacher Eric Marshall for making history fun and worth learning about.

Items in Lincoln’s Pockets the Night He was Shot at Ford’s Theatre


When Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865, he was carrying two pairs of spectacles and a lens polisher, a pocketknife, a watch fob, a linen handkerchief, and a brown leather wallet containing a five-dollar Confederate note and nine newspaper clippings, including several favorable to the president and his policies.

From The Civil War Parlor

This week in the Civil War for April 14, 1863

Federal-siege-guns-of-battery-sherman-at-vicksburgPhoto from

Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had for months sought in the winter of 1862-63 to find a way to clear Confederate forces defending Vicksburg on the seemingly indomitable bluffs lining the Mississippi River there.

Clearing Vicksburg would be a key prize for the Union if it could seize control of that city and gain supremacy over the inland waterway, splitting the Confederacy in half. On the night of April 16, 1863, Union gunboats ran downriver past the batteries at Vicksburg, outwitting artillery fire from the heights as they moved below that city.

Grant planned to have his armada meet up with thousands of troops marching overland. His audacious plan: to send his troops trekking down the river's west bank where they could be ferried by flee across to the Vicksburg side to mount an eventual attack. For now, Vicksburg bristled with heavy gun batteries along its riverfront and along the swamps and bayous on other sides.

All of its approaches by land were guarded by gun batteries. In the coming month, Grant, however, would open a 47-day siege of Vicksburg that would gain the Union a much-needed victory and further burnish Grant's star as a general who fights to win — and one Lincoln would tap to lead the overall war effort.

From ABC News Go and the Associated Press

District of Columbia Police Blotter for April 14, 1864

“At this hour the melancholy intelligence of the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, President of the U.S, at Fords Theater was brought to this office, and information obtained from the following persons goes to show that the assassin is a man named J. Wilks [sic] Booth…”

The District of Columbia Metropolitan Police blotter of April 14, 1865.