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October 2013

Confederate Children caught in the throes of war


Carrie Berry was too young to recall events in her home town of Atlanta when Georgia joined the Confederacy. But by 1864, when she turned ten, Berry reported the toll the war had taken. On her birthday, she revealed: “I did not have a cake. Times were too hard, so I celebrated with ironing. I hope by my next birthday we will have peace in our land so that I can have a nice dinner.” Like those of many young white girls of the Confederacy, her formerly prosperous parents were unable to afford peace time luxuries. In 1864 Margaret Junkin Preston of Virginia was shocked to report in a letter: “G. and H. at Sally White’s birthday party: H. said they had ‘white mush’ on the table; on inquiry, I found out it was ice cream! Not having made any ice cream since wartimes, the child had never seen any, and so called it white mush.”

Emma Le Conte reported in 1865 at the ripe old age of seventeen: “I have seen little of the lightheartedness and exuberant joy that people talk about as the natural heritage of youth. It is a hard school to be bred up in and I often wonder if I will ever have my share of fun and happiness.” Some girls tried to look on the bright side. Amanda Worthington in rural Mississippi confided: “I think the war is teaching us some useful lessons—we are learning to dispense with many things and to manufacture other.”

The war also taught children some terrible lessons. Cornelia Peake McDonald remembered her three-year-old wailing and clinging to her doll Fanny, crying that “the Yankees are coming to our house and they will capture me and Fanny.” Another mother recounted a traumatic incident during Sherman’s march. When Union soldiers invaded her home, her six-year-old daughter hid with her treasures—a bar of soap and her doll. “One of the men approached the bed, and finding it warm, in a dreadful language accused us of harboring and concealing a wounded rebel, and he swore he would have his heart’s blood. He stooped to look under the bed, and seeing the little white figure crouching in a distant corner, caught her by one rosy little foot and dragged her forth. The child was too terror-stricken to cry, but clasped her little baby and her soap fast to her throbbing little heart. The man wrenched both from her and thrust the little one away with such violence that she fell against the bed.”

Such scenes created vivid memories and tales oft repeated. So throughout the war, and the years to come, the mere mention of “Yankees” might strike terror in Confederate children, stimulating fears that haunted them in darkened bedrooms or around dying campfires.

From: National Parks Service Life in the Civil War

Confederate veteran recognized by first of its kind organization in Nebraska

Thomas Campbell Sexton was told he would face certain death if he refused to allow a doctor to amputate his leg after a Minie ball tore through it during the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863.

But as the story goes, Sexton being a stubborn man, told the doctor he would rather die than live without his leg. And live he did, almost to the age of 100 before he died of a heart attack in Dodge County in 1943.

Sexton was a private in Company D, 4th Virginia Infantry, in the army of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. The brigade is probably one of the most famous Confederate brigades because it was commanded by Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, said Jim Arbaugh.

Continue reading "Confederate veteran recognized by first of its kind organization in Nebraska" »

Civil War Ghost Story

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Does Union Gen. W.H.L. Wallace haunt the historic Cherry Mansion in Savannah?

A tragic premonition set the scene for one of Tennessee’s best-known Civil War ghost stories.

The story didn’t take place on the bloody fields at Stones River, but instead at the horror that was called the “Hornet’s Nest” at Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River.

Martha Ann Wallace was extremely anxious about the welfare of her husband Brig. Gen. W.H.L. Wallace. Will Wallace, a lawyer from Ottawa, Ill., had been one of the heroes of the Union victory at Fort Donelson.

He was a hero because his unit weathered the worst of the battle.

Continue reading "Civil War Ghost Story" »

This week in the Civil War for October 27, 1863

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With Ulysses S. Grant on the scene in Chattanooga, Tenn., federal forces in late October 1863 quickly began resupplying and adding new troops in the city besieged by Confederate forces on high ground nearby.

This week 150 years ago in the Civil War saw skirmishing at scattered locations in Tennessee as Confederate and Union forces sized each other up as major fighting appeared to be only a matter of time. The New York Times, among leading East Coast publication, lauded Grant's rise to the new Military Division of the Mississippi — in command of three armies.

"The first work of Gen. Grant will doubtless be to combine these armies, as far as possible, into one active body." Added The Times: "This army, massed and properly handled ... were it wielded and directed by one strong hand, guided by a broad brain, could trample out any Southern army, or march to any point, or achieve any object in the Confederacy."

For now that one strong hand for the Union would be found in Ulysses S. Grant. In the fall of 1863, he was beginning to unify the huge fighting force in a bid to smash through Confederate defenses and lay the groundwork for later campaigns against Atlanta and beyond.

From ABC News Go and the Associated Press

Sgt. Johnny Clem, 22nd Michigan Volunteers, US Civil War

Sgt. Johnny Clem, 22nd Michigan Volunteers, US Civil War

In 1861 Johnny Clem joined the 22nd Michigan as an unofficial drummer boy.  He was only 10 years old.  In 1863 he was allowed to officially enlisted in the Union Army.  Carrying a sawed off musket, he fought at the battles of Chickamauga, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Kennesaw and Atlanta, where he was wounded twice.  Perhaps his most famous action was at Chickamauga, where he was nearly captured by a Confederate Colonel.  The Colonel shouted, "I think the best thing a mite of a chap like you can do is drop that gun". Rather than surrender Clem shot the colonel dead and escaped to Union lines.

After the war Clem attended West Point Academy and became an officer.  He rose to the rank of Major General and also became assistant quartermaster general in 1906.  He retired before World War I and passed away in 1937.  He is currently buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

From Peashooter85 on Tumblr

Mosby's Treasure

Confederate Commander Colonel John Singleton Mosby was one sneaky fighter during the Civil War. He and his men were known as Mosby’s Raiders for their lightning-quick raids of Union camps and their ability to elude the Union Army by blending in with the local townspeople. He was essentially like Mel Gibson’s character in The Patriot, but without all of the drama.

After one of his many raids, which took place about 75 kilometers (46 mi) south of the Confederate line at Culpeper, Virginia, Mosby took Union General Edwin Stoughton prisoner, as well as a burlap sack containing $350,000 worth of gold, silver, and family heirlooms. The problem was, Mosby had also captured 42 other men during the raid and had to take them back through Union territory and across the Confederate line.

Following a route that parallels today’s US 211, Mosby’s Raiders traveled south until they ran into a large contingency of Union soldiers. Unwilling to part with his treasure, Mosby instructed his men to bury the treasure between two large pine trees in case of a battle. Mosby marked the trees with his knife, and the Raiders headed back along their route and across the Confederate line without any trouble from the Union.
Unfortunately for Mosby, when he sent back seven of his most trusted men, they were all caught and hanged. Mosby never returned to look for the treasure.

The Confederates of Brazil,


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The Confederates of Brazil,

Every year in the State of Sao Paolo, in the City of Americana, Brazil, the locals host a festival called the Festa Confederada.  The women wear American Antebellum style dresses while the men often dress as Civil War Era Confederate soldiers.  They eat Southern food, they dance to Southern music, and they fly the Stars and Bars (Confederate flag).  On occasion they may even have a Civil War re-enactment.  The only thing they lack is a heavy Southern drawl as most of the people are native speakers of Portuguese.

An oddity to find in South America for sure, there is a logical explanation to this madness.  It all goes back to April of 1865, when Union forces occupied the South and forced the Confederacy to surrender, there were many who were not willing to give in to the Union.  Many others had their land confiscated or their property totally destroyed by the war.  Many had nowhere to go.

That year Emperor Dom Pedro of Brazil wanted to encourage the cultivation of cotton in Brazil, and he knew of thousands of people with the resources and expertise to do it.  He began to offer special insentives for immigrants from the former Confederacy to move and settle in Brazil.  This included subsidies on travel, cheap land, and tax breaks.  More importantly in Brazil slavery was still legal and would not be abolished until 1888.  

Between 1865 and 1875 ten to twenty thousand former Confederates made a home at Americana, Brazil.  There they set up a community that was an almost exact copy of the pre-Civil War antebellum South.  Because of their culture and heritage, they became known as the Confederados. At first the Confederados were a very insular group, interacting little with the Brazilians and fiercely maintaining their own culture.  However the third generation descendants of the Confederados began to break with tradition, intermingling with the Brazilians and eventually intermarrying with them.  Today Confederado decedents are little different from regular Brazilians, except perhaps when they host their Festa Confederada.  

From: Peashooter85 on Tumblr

City funds look at scaled-down GAR Hall restoration

The Grand Army of Republic Hall after major exterior renovations in Downtown Aurora on Sep. 27, 2013. | Mike Mantucca / For Sun-Times Media



AURORA — It’s the city’s historic restoration that “has lasted longer than the Civil War itself,” Alderman Bob O’Connor joked this week.

The shuttered Grand Army of the Republic Hall, a historic monument in the heart of downtown, has been closed to the public since the mid-1990s. And since 1996, Aurora Public Art Commission officials have either been restoring, or fundraising to restore, the rock-faced, ashlar laid limestone building at 23 E. Downer Place.

It’s a massive and slow-moving process, but developments have Rena Church, executive director of the public art commission, hopeful that Aurorans will see the GAR’s doors open in the next few years.

The City of Aurora is aiming to kick about $75,000 in funding to hire Arris Architects and Planners, a Plainfield firm, to map out the next steps of the interior restoration project. The plan will give the city a better idea of what a partial, less expensive restoration of the Gothic Revival-style building would look like.

“It will give us a road map,” Church said of the plans. “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Continue reading "City funds look at scaled-down GAR Hall restoration" »

This week in the Civil War for October 20, 1863


Photo from:

After the Union's bruising defeat at Chickamauga, in the northwest corner of Georgia not far from Chattanooga, Tenn., Ulysses S. Grant heads to take charge of federal troops hemmed in at Chattanooga now besieged by Confederate forces all around.

This week 150 years ago in the Civil War, Grant arrived in that eastern Tennessee city on the front lines of war and immediately began the task of creating a secure federal supply line. His aim: to immediately re-arm and expand the hold of Union troops who had been precariously holding the city against Confederates on the surrounding mountain heights.

This month 150 years ago, Grant formally took charge of tens of thousands of troops in a broad new Military Division of the Mississippi, his star rising in President Abraham Lincoln's eyes after a Grant victory in July at Vicksburg, Miss. In little more than a month's time, the pugnacious Grant would order an offensive to break a Confederate siege, knocking the secessionists from their positions overlooking Chattanooga from atop Missionary Ridge and other heights.

From ABC  News Go and the Associated Press

Confederates Wearing Blue

These officers of the Flying Artillery we see here entering the Confederate service at Sullivan’s Island, Charleston Harbor, still wearing the blue uniforms of their volunteer organization. It was one of the state militia companies so extensively organized throughout the South previous to the war. South Carolina was particularly active in this line. After the secession of the State the Charleston papers were full of notices for various military companies to assemble for drill or for the distribution of arms and accoutrements. 

Number 2 of this group is Allen J. Green, then Captain of the Columbia Flying Artillery (later a Major in the Confederate service). No. 4 is W. K. Bachman, then a 4th Lieutenant, later Captain in the German Volunteers, a state infantry organization that finally entered the artillery service and achieved renown as Bachman’s Battery. No. 3 is Wilmot D. de Saussure; No. 7 is John Waites, then Lieutenant and later Captain of another company. 

After 1863, when the Confederate resources were waning, the Confederate soldiers were not ashamed to wear the blue clothing brought in by the blockade runners.

From the Civil War Parlor