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August 2013

This week in the Civil War for August 11, 1863

Charleston, South Carolina. Ruins,1865-500
Federal forces continued to lay siege to Confederate forces holding defensive positions in South Carolina's Charleston harbor area.

From late July of 1863 until early September of that year, Union forces were intent on reducing Confederate fighters defending Charleston — where the Civil War broke out at federally-held Fort Sumter in 1861.

The prolonged federal siege began after a failed assault July 18, 1863, on Confederate defenses at Fort Wagner — led by a courageous black regiment which suffered heavy loss of life. It would not be until Sept. 7, 1863, that Confederate foes would abandon Fort Wagner when their position there became untenable.

This week 150 years ago in the Civil War, the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley arrived by train at Charleston after its construction in Mobile, Ala. It was billed as the world's first successful submarine and seen as a secret weapon for the South in fighting Abraham Lincoln's wartime blockade of Southern seaports.

From The Associated Press and ABC News

Civil War Soldier’s Mess-Hardtack


Civil War Soldier’s Mess-Hardtack

How much delicious hard tack could you get in the Civil War? 

The Army doled it out by number, usually 9-10. Usually infested by weevils larva and grubs, they invented many ways to eat these “rocks”,  ”jawbreakers”, “worm castles”, "digestible leather", "angel cakes", "tooth dullers" and "ammo reserves". Ways to eat it? Carefully crumble it in your morning cup of Joe, or fry it in brown pork fat. ~S.Palmer@CivilWarParlor

First Known Use of Hardtack -1836

Photo Credit: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center. More info on Hardtack-~ John Davis Billings, Hardtack and coffee, or, The unwritten story of army life (1887)

From The Civil War Parlor


Black Confederate grave in Charleston Neck a curiosity

Brad NettlesPolly Sheppard, a member of Emanuel AME Church, pulls weeds away from the gravestone of Louis B. Middleton on Friday. Middleton, who was black, was a cook in the Confederate Army.

Six months ago, Polly Sheppard was wandering through her church’s cemetery, taking inventory of the stone markers. A couple of steps in, she noticed a military-style headstone. Carved on its weather-worn face was the name Louis B. Middleton Confederate Soldier.

The stone seemed out of place to her, given that the burial ground belongs to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Charleston, regarded as the oldest black AME church in the South.ook.

A check of the state’s archives showed it wasn’t so strange after all: A Louis Middleton from Montague Street (the street was spelled with an “e” in the documents) worked as a cook during the war, and he applied for a South Carolina pension in 1923.

While the South and the nation are in the middle of celebrating the Civil War Sesquicentennial, historians say the involvement of the small percentage of blacks who participated in the Southern war effort is widely going unnoticed, largely because their role has become so politicized today.

“I think there are a lot of Confederate sympathizers who exaggerate the role of blacks in the Confederate military,” said Don Doyle, the McCausland professor of history at the University of South Carolina. “And a lot of skeptics who dismiss the idea that it was even possible.”

Read more at the Post and Courier

Waiting for a train

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Patriot, November 26, 1863:

In company with many others, we took the train for Gettysburg, via Hanover Junction, on Wednesday morning, to swell the ranks of the thronging thousands who, prompted by curiosity and patriotism or drawn by the tender ties of love for the dead, were gathering there to witness and participate in the the grand and solemn consecration of the burying place of the nation's dead. . . .

The train n which we rode was filled to its utmost capacity, many being forced to stand on the platform throughout the journey. The passengers were from all parts of the country, and almost every loyal State was represented in each car. The accommodation of the roads -- the Northern Central and the Hanover and Gettysburg -- were by no means sufficient for the occasion, and all persons going to or from the scene of interest were put to great inconvenience in consequence. Some were unable to get beyond Hanover Junction on Thursday. We saw a party of over fifty persons, who had journeyed over six hundred miles for the express purpose of attending the dedication, which party lay at the Junction from nine o'clock in the morning until ten at night, unable to get a step farther. Not a train was run over the Hanover road during that time, and this the pilgrims, after coming six hundred miles to see the battlefield, were defeated in their enterprise on the last twenty-five miles. It is a matter of wonder that, with such timely notice, this road failed to make proper arrangements, and suffered the spirit of mismanagement to paralyze its workings.

This week in the Civil War for August 4, 1863

Barely a month after his army's defeat at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee offered to resign 150 years ago this week in the Civil War. Lee, whose military leadership was being questioned after the heavy casualties at Gettysburg, was under the spotlight of trenchant criticism in Southern newspapers.

Lee only recently had said he alone shouldered any blame for the defeat — that in a letter days earlier to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. On Aug. 8, 1863, Lee again wrote Davis, this time offering to resign. "I have been prompted by these reflections more than once since my return from Pennsylvania to propose to Your Excellency the propriety of selecting another commander for this army. I have seen and heard of expression of discontent in the public journals at the result of the expedition. I do not know how far this feeling extends in the army ... I, therefore, in all sincerity, request Your Excellency to take measures to supply my place."

Davis declined to accept the offer. In fact, Davis responded that he could find no other "more fit to command" and a general who also had the confidence of his troops.

From The Associated Press and ABC News Go

Confederate flag donated to Virginia museum 148 years later


 A Confederate flag finished a nearly 150-year journey as it traded hands from the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society (HRHS) to Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) during a ceremony at the society's building in Dayton, Va., July 31. Capt. Henry Hendrix, NHHC's director, accepted the flag which will be preserved and displayed in one of the U.S. Navy's museums.
The flag's journey to Washington, D.C. began during the Civil War in 1865.

It was early morning as Lt. William Ladd rode his horse into a nearly deserted Richmond, Va. The siege of the Petersburg had come to an end after eight months, signifying an end to the war that had divided America. With the Confederate capital of Richmond captured, the last hopes of the rebel army vanished and the army and populace of the city had scattered. It was while investigating the city that Ladd observed a Confederate ship flying their colors.


Lee's hat

“During the few times Lee traveled extensively after the war, he was often confronted by crowds of admirers and on lookers. As was the respectful custom, he would raise is hat above his head to salute the crowd. Returning from one such trip, the celebrity kidded with his daughter: ‘They would make too much fuss over the old rebel.’ 

“A few days after he came home, one of his daughter remonstrated with him about the hat he was wearing. He replied: ‘You don’t like this hat? Why, I have seen a whole cityful come out to admire it.’”

Source: Robert E. Lee's Lighter Side: The Marble Man's Sense of Humor, edited by Thomas Forehand, 2006.

A Dream of His Dead Confederate Teen-age Son Lead Him to His Body


A Dream of His Dead Confederate Teen-age Son Lead Him to His Body

“During the War Between the Sates, among the beardless boys who enlisted in the Confederate army was the 18-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, of Griffin, Ga. This brave boy met his death in the Battle of Resaca on the Western and Atlantic Railroad. His comrades buried him in a pine coffin constructed of rough planks torn from a bridge.

“In 1866, when peace had spread her wings over the land, Mr. Jackson, after receiving instruction from a comrade of the dead boy relative to the location of the grave, went to the battleground at Resaca for the purpose of moving his son’s remains to Griffin. But although a thorough search was made, the place of burial could not be found, and the broken-hearted father returned home.

“A few nights afterward he dreamed that his son came back to him, and, standing by the bedside, said, ‘Father, I am buried under a mound which was thrown up by the Yankees after I was killed. You will know the mound when you see it by the pokeberry bushes growing upon it. Go and take me up and carry me home to Mother.’

“So strong was the impression made on Mr. Jackson by his dream, he returned at once to Resaca, taking with him one of the comrades who had buried his son.

“The mound was found with the pokeberries growing upon it as described in the dream. An excavation was made revealing a rough pine coffin a few feet below the surface of the Earth. It contained the body of young Jackson. He was fully identified not only by the coffin, but by his shoes, a recent gift from his father, and by the name marked on his clothing.

“The remains of the young soldier were placed in a fine casket and ‘carried home to Mother.’”