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May 2013

This week in the Civil War for May 12, 1863

Fighting in Mississippi.

On May 16, 1863, Union and Confederate forces clashed at the Battle of Champion Hill in Mississippi, dueling with artillery and rifle fire. Amid fierce combat, Union fighters swept across the top of Champion Hill, forcing Rebel forces into chaotic retreat before a Confederate counterattack was mustered.

But stubborn Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered his forces to push back again and a Union assault was launched with fresh troops arriving on the scene. That counterattack forced the Confederates into all-out retreat toward Vicksburg, Miss. The fighting in Mississippi 150 years ago during the Civil War marked the prelude to Grant's siege of Vicksburg, which would open days later in May 1863. Grant would ultimately force the surrender of Confederates garrisoned in heavily fortified Vicksburg later in 1863.

It would mark one of the turning points of the war as Union forces wrested away full control of the Mississippi River, splitting the Confederacy and propelling Grant toward overall command of Union forces.

From The Associated Press and ABC News Go

Confederate flags: Flying for historical freedom or fomenting hate?

May 05, 2013 5:00 am  •  Kevin Woster Journal staff

Don Balyeat is going classroom to classroom, club to club in defense of the Confederate flag.

He's not defending the hate. He's defending the history.

It's a challenging labor of love for the 73-year-old Sturgis-area resident, a retired AAA manager and self-made historian on the Civil War. He travels to schools and local history groups clarifying what he considers to be misconceptions about the familiar-and-controversial Confederate battle flag.

It is much more, Balyeat contends, than a symbol of prejudice and racial division, although he admits that it has often been used as such.

"It is not a hate flag. It is a piece of history that cannot be lost," Balyeat said. "Should we hate the flag because it's carried by racist people?"

That question is being debated these days in western South Dakota, far from the traditional battlegrounds of the Confederate flag conflict in states farther south. A dispute over an historical flag display in a building at the VA Medical Center in Hot Springs has turned a formerly distant issue into an up-close topic of debate across the Black Hills region.

Continue reading "Confederate flags: Flying for historical freedom or fomenting hate?" »

A soldier's boot

A Soldier’s Boot from Gettysburg- They were so valuable they were even pulled from the feet of dead men on the bloodstained battlefields and were used by prisoners to barter for supplies such as food or tobacco.

If the Union or Confederate soldier was not a horse-mounted cavalryman or officer, he was a foot soldier. Throughout the war, they marched long and hard, sometimes up to 30 or 40 miles a day. As a result, shoes became sorely needed by both sides.

There are many accounts of Rebels marching for miles barefoot during the winter. Often, Rebel foot soldiers with no shoes or poorly fitted ones were organized into separate commands to march apart from the rest of the troops on the soft grassy roadsides. Photo Credit Cowan’s Auctions. sold for 805.00$

From The Civil War Parlor

This week in the Civil War for May 5, 1863

More fighting in Virginia, Death of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

The Second Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., was fought 150 years ago in May 1863 in and around Fredericksburg, Va. Thousands of Confederate forces clashed with Union foes anxious to press onward to the gates of Richmond, capital of the Confederacy.

Union troops overran and captured Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg in fierce combat that included hand-to-hand fighting with Southern rivals, many of whom were killed or fled on foot. But Lee countered May 4 with a fierce assault of his own, retaking that strategic high ground and forcing a Union withdrawal.

The chaotic series of days would close out with the death May 10, 1863, of the mortally wounded Confederate Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. He had contracted pneumonia after having his left arm amputated after being mistakenly shot by his own men May 2, 1863. Confederate Robert E. Lee was famously quoted as saying of Jackson's wounding: "He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm." Jackson, gradually growing weaker at a house where he was taken, was with his wife and their infant daughter at his bedside when he died. Jackson would be buried in Lexington, Va., mourned throughout the Confederacy.

From the Associated Press and ABC News Go

Blame The Full Moon For Stonewall Jackson’s Death

Lee Rannals for – Your Universe Online

Astronomers are looking to the moon to try and understand why Confederate Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was gunned down by his own troops during the Civil War.

On May 2, 1863, Jackson was mistakenly shot and killed by his own troops two months before the Battle of Gettysburg. Historians have debated for 150 years how the soldiers of the 18th North Carolina regiment could not recognize their general. Don Olson of Texas State University and Laurie E. Jasinski, Texas State graduate and editor of The Handbook of Texas Music, Second Edition, decided to use astronomy to get down to the bottom of it.

A full moon allowed the soldiers to fight through the night, according to eyewitness accounts such as the one from Confederate Captain William Fitzhugh Randolph.

“The moon was shining very brightly, rendering all objects in our immediate vicinity distinct,” Randolph wrote in The Confederate Veteran in December 1903. “The moon poured a flood of light upon the wide, open turnpike,”

During the battle, Jackson rode ahead to scout out possible routes that could be used between the Union army and the fords and pontoon bridges. After they returned from their reconnaissance at about 9:00 p.m., a Confederate officer regiment spotted them through the trees by the moonlight and ordered his men to open fire. Jackson was then wounded by three bullets – two in his left arm and one in his right wrist.

Olson and Jasinski used detailed battle maps and astronomical calculations to determine how Jackson’s own troops mistook him for someone else. They determined that the 18th North Carolina was looking to the southeast, directly toward the rising moon, which silhouetted Jackson and his officers.

“When you tell people it was a bright moonlit night, they think it makes it easier to see. What we are finding is that the 18th North Carolina was looking directly toward the direction of the moon as Stonewall Jackson and his party came riding back,” Olson said. “They would see the riders only as dark silhouettes. Now, 150 years later, we can explain why they didn’t recognize this famous Confederate general. Our astronomical analysis partially absolves the 18th North Carolina from blame for the wounding of Jackson.”

From Red Orbit

Thomas Cox (CSA)

Campbell County resident Thomas Cock joined his hometown unit, the Red House Volunteers, at the beginning of the war. His Confederate service was as a member of Co. A, 21st Virginia Infantry. Service was hard under Jackson, Lee and Early, and he barely survived the destruction of the Stonewall Brigade at Spotsylvania in 1864. At some point he was given, perhaps through the efforts of army chaplains or General Jackson himself, this pocket testament which was printed in Atlanta in 1862. 

His luck ran out in July, 1864, at Monocacy Junction, Maryland. 

Unable to write well due to the nature of his wound, Ward Master H.S. Shepherd of West's Hospital, Baltimore, gently assisted Private Cock when he inscribed the following passages in the Testament:

Cover: "Thomas Cox / Morris Church / Carroll County, Va. / Co. A / 21 Va." (Morris Church was actually in eastern Campbell County, near its border with Charlotte County).
"The ball that struck this book entered my left brest (sic) and came out of right -- it saved instant death & will be the means of saving my soul. Thomas Cox. Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord."

"I was with Thos. Cox when he died...he was willing...& appeared ready to leave this world for a better one to come. H.S. Shepherd, w.m. West's Hospital Baltimore."

Private Cock never left Maryland. He was buried in Loudoun Cemetery in Baltimore. His testament and a ring from his finger was carefully sent by Shepherd to Cock's widow in Southside Virginia.

From: Defending the Heritage on Face Book

Brother vs. Brother

“Brother vs. Brother, Richwood, West Virginia, 1910s” by Finley Taylor Early Appalachian Photographer

“America has no north, no south, no east, no west. The sun rises over the hills and sets over the mountains, the compass just points up and down, and we can laugh now at the absurd notion of there being a north and a south. We are one and undivided.” ~Pvt. Sam Watkins, 1st Tennessee, Co. H.

“Brother Against Brother” is a slogan used in histories of the American Civil War, describing the predicament faced in families (primarily, but not exclusively, residents of border states) in which loyalties and military service were divided between the Union and the Confederacy. There are a number of stories of brothers fighting in the same battles on opposite sides, or even of brothers killing brothers over the issues.

(Currently inquiring on the identity of the two Gentlemen in this photo)Credit Image COPYRIGHT to Romano, Summersville, WV, per Mr Romano the men’s names were published in a book by Arcadia Press, called “Richwood.”

Fromt The Civil War Parlor

Sone Mountain

Paul Crawley, WXIA

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. (WXIA) -- It's one of Georgia's most famous landmarks and the largest carving of its type in the world.

But now an Atlanta man wants the Confederate Memorial relief on Stone Mountain removed.

"It's almost like a black eye or an embarrassing smudge on our culture," McCartney Forde told 11Alive News on Monday.

That's how Forde feels about the 2 football field-wide carving of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson that towers 400 feet above the mountain's base.

from WXIA