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December 2013

Confederate Mule

"I rode a mule, a large gentle one, a good traveler and gentle. My bridle was made of home tanned fox or coon hides. The bit was made in a shop near by and was what was called a curb bit. 

The saddle, home made also, consisted of two pieces of poplar - shaped so it was supposed to fit the mule's back as they lay length - ways on her. They were fastened together in front by a piece of tough oak with rivets made of iron in the shops nearby, the back part was fastened the same way by tough oak out so as to resemble any ordinary saddle.

This saddle had holes mortised, through which a leather strap fastened with a ring and this made the girth. The back had holes mortised by which to tie on the belongings of a soldier of the C.S.A. When this was covered with a heavy woolen blanket spun and woven at home by my mother and sister and colored with bark, the soldier, dressed in clothes made the same way by the same loving hands, was ready to mount and be off [for] the war. 

Neither the boy nor his equipment would make a formidable looking soldier or inspire terror, you will say. True! But the mule could travel and the boy could shoot, and either could very nearly find their own rations. These three formed the chief requisites for a soldier in Forrest's Cavalry."

- Mrs. Calvin S. Brown Papers, Z/0182.000, Mississippi Department of Archives & History

From: Civil War Talk

Compromise With The South

Compromise With The South

This image was created by Thomas Nast in the fall of 1864. It was created at a time when Lincoln was up for re-election and there was a definite possibility that he would loose, as many Americans were tired of war and wanted a peaceful resolution with the Confederacy. It is a direct attack on the Democrats’ Chicago Convention, which called for a party platform of peace with the Confederates, which Nast saw as a total waste of those Union soldiers that have already died in the fight.

An Iconic reading of this image would deal with the values of the community that are reflected in the image. This image is clearly propagandist, pushing viewers to question what would happen if victory was given to the Confederacy. The disabled soldier extends his hand to Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, who is also standing on the grave of a dead Union soldier in an obvious sign of disrespect. Columbia is kneeling crying before that very grave and there are blacks, assumed to be slaves or former slaves in the background, huddled, not sure what is their future. All of these images are inflammatory, and force readers to think of the negative consequences of a Confederate victory. By dedicating the image to the Chicago Convention, the artist is reminding people that if they vote for the Democrats that this would be the future of the United States, thereby, strongly encouraging them to vote for Lincoln and the Republicans. This particular image’s Iconic reading would also be close to an Editorial reading. The symbolism in the image makes it hard not see that there is a clear political purpose to the image. The author clearly supports Lincoln and not making peace with the Confederacy.

From the Civil War Parlor

The Memoirs Of General Ulysses S. Grant

Mark Twain approached Grant about publishing the war hero’s memoirs with a plum deal that would give Grant 75 percent of the profits as royalties.

Cash-strapped Grant had little choice but to accept Twain’s offer, and the Civil War-focused “Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant” hit stores in 1885.

Grant’s memoirs were an instant runaway hit. Twain’s company made the clever choice of employing former Union soldiers in full uniform as salesmen, and the book became one of the best sellers of the 19th century.

Today, the book is considered by many to be the best presidential memoir ever written, but there’s some controversy over who actually did the bulk of the writing. Twain always claimed that he had only made slight edits to Grant’s text, but the prose was so strong that many suspected Twain himself had ghostwritten the book.

Sadly, Grant didn’t get to see the success of his book; he died shortly after its completion. But his widow Julia banked over $400,000 in royalties from the memoir.

Photo By Alexander Gardner Mammoth-Plate Albumen Print Circa 1865,_c1865.jpg

From: The Civil War Parlor

This week in the Civil War for December 8, 1863

James Longstreet and Ambrose Burnside, principal commanders of the Knoxville Campaign.

The Associated Press reported 150 years ago this week in the Civil War that Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet was in retreat after abandoning his siege of Knoxville, Tenn. The dispatch dated Dec. 8, 1863, said Longstreet appeared to withdrawing through a mountain gap either toward Virginia or North Carolina with "Federal cavalry pursuing."

The dispatch added; "he will scarcely be able to make good his escape without material loss, though he has thirty-six hours the start." With Ulysses Grant now firmly in control of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Longstreet unable to capture Knoxville, the Confederates are reeling from the blow. AP reported that a key for the Union was the arrival of William T. Sherman's cavalry at Knoxville in early December to reinforce the existing federal forces.

Meanwhile, President Abraham Lincoln issued a statement that the Confederate retreat from East Tennessee renders it "probably that the Union forces cannot thereafter be dislodged from that important post, and esteeming this to be of high national consequence. I recommend that all loyal people, do, on the receipt of this information assemble at their places of worship, and render special homage and gratitude to Almighty God for this great advancement of the national cause (Signed) A. Lincoln."

From ABC News Go and the Associated Press

Photo source: wikipedia

"Buffalo Bil" - Union Scout

Early Photo Of William F. Cody
 "Buffalo Bill" (1846-1917) -He Served As A Union Scout In The Civil WAr

In a life that was part legend and part fabrication, William F. Cody came to embody the spirit of the West for millions, transmuting his own experience into a national myth of frontier life that still endures today.

Born in Scott County, Iowa, in 1846, Cody grew up on the prairie. When his father died in 1857, his mother moved to Kansas, where Cody worked for a wagon-freight company as a mounted messenger and wrangler. In 1859, he tried his luck as a prospector in the Pikes Peak gold rush, and the next year, joined the Pony Express, which had advertised for “skinny, expert riders willing to risk death daily.” Already a seasoned plainsman at age 14, Cody fit the bill.

During the Civil War, Cody served first as a Union scout in campaigns against the Kiowa and Comanche, then in 1863 he enlisted with the Seventh Kansas Cavalry, which saw action in Missouri and Tennessee. After the war, he married Louisa Frederici in St. Louis and continued to work for the Army as a scout and dispatch carrier, operating out of Fort Ellsworth, Kansas.

Finally, in 1867, Cody took up the trade that gave him his nickname, hunting buffalo to feed the construction crews of the Kansas Pacific Railroad. By his own count, he killed 4,280 head of buffalo in seventeen months. He is supposed to have won the name “Buffalo Bill” in an eight-hour shooting match with a hunter named William Comstock, presumably to determine which of the two Buffalo Bill’s deserved the title.

From The Civil War Parlor

Civil War Gear Inspires Veteran To Invent Modern Equipment

By Nancy Jennis Olds

Reenactor James Cragg, who took part in the Gettysburg Anniversary Committee’s 150th anniversary reenactment, has made a business of understanding the Civil War. 

Cragg found himself searching for answers when he wondered why so many pieces of equipment were discarded on Civil War battlefields, especially at 1st Manassas. He wondered if it was because gear was inefficient or uncomfortable for soldiers.

Examining period gear led Cragg to create modern designs. One of his inventions is a chest harness that holds rifle magazines spread in a flat row around the chest.

This design was inspired by Capt. Anson Mills, who served in the U.S. Army from 1861 to 1897. He invented the woven cartridge belt shortly after the Civil War. With the Spanish-American War in 1898 there was increased the demand for Mills’ cartridge belt. Great Britain was the first foreign country to adopt it.

Cragg researched Mills’ belt, the inline profile of the cartridge belt and the Sharps carbine ammunition box and developed a new concept.

His design was adopted by U.S. Army Special Forces in Iraq and five years later by the U.S. Marine Corps and conventional U.S. Army forces. The harness has become the standard for ground combat use in Afghanistan. Many soldiers credit it with saving lives.

Two additional Cragg products originate from the Civil War. The grab and go bags were inspired by cavalry saddlebags, which enabled troopers to fight with gear quickly at hand. Today’s soldiers keep a modern saddlebag, the Mission Go Bag, in their transport vehicles for quick access.

Another Civil War cavalry item, the single point sling for carbines, made sense to Cragg for allowing exceptional control and skill in the saddle. The two-point under-weapon rifle sling, usually reserved for the muskets, was created for parades, not battles, he says.

Cragg gives credit to 19th-century innovators such as Anson Mills and Samuel Colt, whose factory produced revolvers with interchangeable parts and who completely revolutionized weapons. Another technology pioneer was Christopher Miner Spencer, inventor of the lever-action repeating Spencer rifle.

Read more at Civil War News

This week in the Civil War for December 1, 1863

Military bridge at Strawberry Plains and a fort in the distance, seen from north bank of the Holston River. George N. Barnard (1819-1902).

Confederate James Longstreet abandoned his attempted siege of Knoxville, Tenn., on Dec. 4, 1863, withdrawing from the area after his failed bid to weaken the Union's growing grip on the state. The withdrawal of Confederate forces was closely watched by pursuing Union forces. Although the Confederate attempt to take Knoxville had ended, the fighting was not yet over in this corner of Tennessee. More skirmishing and battles would continue in the cold days of December 1863 as Longstreet's forces clashed with Union forces at various sites. But then Longstreet would pull out of the area entirely and have his fighters settle into winter encampments as the Civil War dragged on 150 years ago this week.

From ABC News Go and the Associated Press 

Photo Souce: Knoxville