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April 2014

The rise and fall of Civil War reenactors

Civil War reenactors approach their hobby with the zeal of a prophet and the curiosity of an academic. On the battlefield they live to "see the elephant," a nineteenth-century phrase describing the rush that only certain daring pursuits — exploration, hunting or war — can provide. Those moments, however, are becoming fewer and far between. The old guys are getting out of the game and, although it's a young man's hobby, the kids aren't necessarily rushing to take their place. What was considered hardcore only a couple decades ago is now looked down upon. Meanwhile, the Great Recession has taken its toll on what was already an expensive endeavor. Time, in this case, may not be on their side. Their numbers have dropped significantly in the last 15 years and may never return.

They see themselves not as the gun nuts and losers that popular culture would have you believe, but as teachers, the self-anointed and self-effacing stewards of our nation's past. And to save that past — or rather, future — the 14th Brooklyn and their allies are leading the charge to do two seemingly irreconcilable things: make the hobby more appealing and yet more absolute.

And yet there may be a silver lining in the hobby's decline. Those members of a group or a movement who stick through it in good times and in bad are often the most devout.

Read the full story at Narrativley

Confederate heroes have their own medal of honor

Associated Press

HANCOCK, Md. —  The Medal of Honor, created by Congress during the Civil War as America's highest military decoration for valor, was never meant for Americans who fought for the South. They were the enemy, after all.

But there's a Confederate Medal of Honor, little known yet highly prized, that the Sons of Confederate Veterans bestows on those whose bravery in battle can be proven to the private group's satisfaction.

The silver-and-bronze medal is a 10-pointed star bearing the Great Seal of the Confederate States and the words, "Honor. Duty. Valor. Devotion."

It has been awarded 50 times since 1977, most recently to Maj. James Breathed, a native Virginian buried in Hancock. He was honored last year for his bravery as an artillery officer in the 1864 Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse in Virginia.

The number of recipients is tiny compared to the 3,487 on the U.S. Medal of Honor roll, including more than 1,500 who fought for the Union in the War Between the States. Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans say their medal is given less freely than those the Union awarded during the war.

Continue reading "Confederate heroes have their own medal of honor" »

This week in the Civil War for April 27, 1864

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Union troops who had been backing a failed federal Army and Navy incursion up the Red River into northern Louisiana found themselves bogged down in fighting in neighboring Arkansas this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. The troops under the command of Union Maj. Gen. Fred Steel were crossing the Saline River at Jenkins' Ferry in Arkansas when Confederate forces arrived and began to attack on April 30, 1864. The Union fighters fended off several attacks by the rebels and managed to cross the river with their supply wagons. Ultimately the Union force would regroup at its base in Little Rock, Arkansas, successfully in slipping away from the Confederate force bent on destroying the Union force.

 From The Associated Press and Yahoo News

Nancy Hart Douglas-(1846–1913)- One tough Southern Lady


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Nancy, joined the Moccasin Rangers-they were pro-southern guerrillas until 1862. Nancy served as a Confederate scout, guide and spy. She carried messages between the Southern Armies traveling alone by night and slept during the day. Nancy also was an "underground" worker. She saved the lives of many wounded Confederate Soldiers hiding them with sympathizers and often nursing them to health again. Nancy served as a guide for Confederate detachments. She peddled eggs and veggies to Yankee's to spy on them. She hung around isolated Federal outposts in the mountains, to report their strength, population and vulnerability to General Jackson. Nancy led Jackson's Cavalry on several raids against Union Troops.

In the summer of 1862, the wrathful Federals offered a large reward for Nancy with the order of her arrest. Nancy was twenty years old when she was captured by the Yankees. Lt. Col. Starr of the 9th West Virginia captured Nancy at a log cabin, while she was crushing corn. A young female friend was also captured with her. Nancy was jailed in the upstairs portion of a dilapidated house with soldiers quartered down stairs and a sentry guarding her in the room, at all times. Guards constantly patrolled the building on every side.

Nancy gained the trust of one of her guards. She was able to get his weapon from him and she shot him dead. Nancy then dived headlong out the open window into a clump of tall jimson weeds. She took Lt. Col. Starr's horse, and rode bare back. She was clinging low to the horse's neck, Indian fashion. About a week later at 4:00 o'clock in the morning, July 25, 1862, Nancy returned to Summersville with 200 of Jackson's Cavalry led by Major R. Augustus or Col. George Patton's 22nd Virginia Infantry. Nancy was still riding Lt. Col. Starr's horse. They raided the town, setting fire to three houses, including the commissary store house, destroyed two wagons, and took eight mules and twelve horses, as well as several prisoners, including Lt. Co. Starr.

From Defending the Heritage on Face Book

Buffalo Soldiers


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 Buffalo Soldiers-Painting By Don Stivers 

Troop A Tenth Cavalry led by Captain Nicholas A. Nolan at the Battle of Rattlesnake Springs,Texas August 6, 1880. Rattlesnake Springs is 40 miles north of present day Van Horn, Texas.

Troopers of the 9th and 10th Cavalry served with honor and distinction in the protection of settlers and stage coaches, stringing of telegraph lines and the mapping and exploration of Texas.

When the Plains Indians first saw the men of the 10th Cavalry wearing with their dark skins, curly hair and wearing fur overcoats they referred to them as “Buffalo Soldiers.” The nickname “Buffalo Soldiers” was originally given to the 10th Cavalry by Cheyenne warriors out of respect for their fierce fighting in 1867. The Cheyenne Native American term used was actually “Wild Buffaloes”, which was translated to “Buffalo Soldiers.” In time, all African American Soldiers became known as “Buffalo Soldiers.” Despite second-class treatment these soldiers made up first-rate regiments of the highest caliber and had the lowest desertion rate in the Army.

Continue reading "Buffalo Soldiers" »

A Confederate soldier's Easter

Easter dinner from USA and CSA soldiers.

April 20, 1862 USA
“This is Easter and a pretty day. We had 2 eggs a piece this morning” Alexander Gwin (Campbell, Joseph, Judy Gowen. Marching Orders: The Civil War Diary of Alexander)

April 5, 1863 CSA
“The snow is about seven or eight inches deep. I don’t think we will have a very gay Easter today, as game is skearce, and we can get no eggs.” Jer Coggin (Taylor, Michael. The Cry is War, War, War. Winston Salem: Morning Side Press)

March 27, 1864 USA
“The beautiful Easter Sunday finds us all O.K. for it is as pretty and warm day, but we have no eggs. We could have them at 40 cents per doz. but I guess we will do without this time- Daniel Chisholm (Menge, W. Springer Menge, J. August Shimrak. The Civil War Notebook of Daniel)

From: Civil War Talk

This week in the Civil War for April 20, 1864


Confederate forces, in a joint operation of ground troops and an ironclad ram CSS Albemarle, attacked the federal garrison at Plymouth, N.C. near the mouth of the Roanoke River on April 17, 1864. The Confederacy — 150 years ago in the Civil War — was weary of Union forces using the garrison as a springboard for raids into easternmost North Carolina. Thousands of Confederate troops pressed toward the outnumbered Union fighters holding the fort at Plymouth. By April 18, fierce shelling had erupted, threatening U.S. warships there along the river. On April 19, 1864, the CSS Albemarle reached the area and promptly sank one Union ship and badly damaged another, driving away other U.S. warships defending the garrison. A heavy Confederate bombardment ultimately forced the federal garrison to surrender on April 20, 1864. Flush with victory, the Confederacy would hold the area until late 1864 when it returned to federal control for the rest of the war.

From The Associated Press and Yahoo News

Little John Clem

John Lincoln Clem (August 13, 1851 – May 13, 1937) was a United States Army general who served as a drummer boy in the Union Army in the American Civil War. He gained fame for his bravery on the battlefield, becoming the youngest noncommissioned officer in Army history. He retired from the Army in 1915, having attained the rank of Brigadier General in the Quartermaster Corps. When advised he should retire, he requested to be allowed to remain on active duty until he became the last veteran of the Civil War still on duty in the Armed Forces. By special act of Congress on August 29, 1916, he was promoted to major general one year after his retirement.

In this picture Clem looks to be six or seven years old. The photograph was created between 1860 and 1865 by Morris Gallery of the Cumberland, Nashville, Tennessee.