Previous month:
February 2015
Next month:
April 2015

March 2015

Children of Civil War veterans

Iris Lee Gay Jordan, 92 (left), and Fred Upham, 93 (right)—two of the few remaining children of veterans of the Civil War—appear as they might have had they lived in the 1860s. The photographs are tintypes, made on a chemical-coated wet plate with a lens manufactured in 1862. 
By David A. Lande

November 10, 2014

How many people alive today can say that their father was a Civil War soldier who shook hands with Abraham Lincoln in the White House? Fred Upham can.

Despite sounding like a tall tale and a mathematical impossibility, it's documented truth. Fred's father, William,was a private in the Union Army's Second Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He was severely wounded at the First Battle of Bull Run, in 1861, and later personally appointed by President Lincoln to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Fred's in exclusive company—the dwindling group of children of soldiers who fought, North against South, 150 years ago.

Fewer than 35 of these remarkable offspring are now on the rolls of heritage groups that keep track of them. They're referred to as "real" sons and daughters and are given a place of honor at the ongoing events commemorating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

Read the complete article at National Geographic

This week in the Civil War for March 29, 1865

The forces of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee reached the breaking point this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. Lee ordered infantry and cavalry units to hold a key defensive line at Five Forks, Virginia, only to come under withering Union attack. Union forces took many prisoners as they beat back Lee's forces and soon cut off Lee's only remaining supply line for the Confederacy to Petersburg and nearby Richmond, Virginia, seat of the Confederacy. News reports of the week recalled bloody combat and thousands of Confederates taken prison as the Southern troops were rapidly becoming demoralized. The dire turn of events forced Lee to inform Jefferson Davis that both cities would have to be evacuated and the Petersburg-Richmond siege lines abandoned. After a hasty Confederate evacuation begun on April 2, 1865, Union troops entered Richmond the next day. "Richmond and Petersburg Taken!" blared the New York Tribune in bold headlines in its April 4, 1865, edition. It added: "Colored Troops the First to Enter the Slaveholders' Capital ... THE REBELS LEAVE IN HASTE. Gen. Grant Attempting to Cut Off Lee's Escape." That same day, President Abraham Lincoln would visit the city, greeted by jubilant former slaves. Lee's surrender would only be a matter of days.

From The Associated Press

The men of the 108th

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) – It’s history in our own backyard. The southwest corner of the National Cemetery on Arsenal Island is where 50 Union soldiers from the 108th U.S. Colored Infantry are buried. Civil War historian Ed Reiter calls it hallowed ground. The final resting place for black soldiers who guarded Confederate prisoners on the Island during the Civil War.

Most of the headstones are original and so are the stories behind them. The soldiers enlisted in the Union Army. Most were from Kentucky. They joined the military to fight against the system that had kept them enslaved for so many years.There were 980 Black Soldiers in the 108th.

Ed Reiter says generally they would walk a guard post for about four hours.Then, they were relieved by other guards.Often, disease was rampant. Death rate for the prisoners was 17 percent. Many Confederate soldiers also had smallpox.

This year is a milestone. One hundred fifty years ago, fifty of the Black Union Soldiers were buried in the original post cemetery. Ed Kreiter says the men  gave up their newly won freedom to become soldiers fighting for what they believed in and establishing their important place in history.



Recreating Lincoln's funeral carriage

By   Published March 20, 2015

Former soldiers from around the country are working on a recreation of President Lincoln's funeral hearse, nearly 130 years after it was destroyed in a fire.

The project is a labor of love for veterans, who have done their part and passed it along to the next soldier-turned-craftsman in preparation for the 150th anniversary of Honest Abe's funeral. Recently, the death carriage was in Eureka, Calif., at the Blue Ox Millwork's School for Veterans, a nonprofit teaches craftsmanship skills to returning soldiers.

At Blue Ox, Vietnam veteran and millworks owner Eric Hollenbeck led a team of nine Afghanistan and Iraq vets in their effort to help restore the vehicle that carried the body of Lincoln. The idea is not just to rebuild the hearse, but to help veterans bond and re-integrate into society.

"The biggest thing that this hearse project is giving the veterans is a sense of self-identity, a returning combat veteran has to find a new civilian identity. And these guys and gals did that," Hollenbeck told Fox News.

Hollenbeck says the process of completing a project helps bring focus and therapy to the team, while also giving them skills that can help them find jobs.


"Working with your hands is one healing aspect of the project," said Hollenbeck.

The hearse's next stop is Tombstone, Arizona, where Vietnam veteran Jack Feather and his team will finish the job. Completing Lincoln's lavish, ostrich feather-adorned hearse has been a difficult process. The original was destroyed in a stable fire in 1887. The team has only one picture of Lincoln's hearse to work from, and most of the components used just aren't around anymore.

"Finding out what goes into this thing has been a challenge," said Feather, "Just figuring out the dimensions- that took months. I went everywhere trying to find someone who would build a 16-spoke rear wheel. They said they didn't exist."

They eventually found wheel craftsman Jay Jones, a Kentucky resident and Vietnam veteran, who built them from scratch.

Project coordinator P.J. Staab said they didn't set out to make this an 'all-veterans' project when they got the hearse request from the Lincoln Funeral Coalition. But that's exactly what it became. 

"This thing started to take a shape all by itself, without any prompting from anyone," said Staab. 

Feather estimates the total cost of materials needed for the project will come to $40,000. The Lincoln Funeral Coalition covers those costs, but the vets give their labor free of charge.

The hearse will be the centerpiece of a May 1-3 funeral reenactment in Springfield, Illinois. More than 250,000 people are expected to attend.

From Fox News

This week in the Civil War for March 22, 1865

President Abraham Lincoln, his Union forces nearing victory after years of bloody conflict, visited the military headquarters of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at City Point, Virginia, this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. City Point — where the James and Appomattox Rivers meet — proved to be a strategic spot where Grant had his headquarters for months while leading the siege of Petersburg, Virginia. Lincoln, arriving aboard the River Queen at City Point, was briefed by Grant and other Union military leaders about efforts to bring about an end to the war. The site, several miles from the Petersburg siege lines, afforded the Union forces easy supply lines to the front. Fighting continued nearby in Virginia during the week. Grant reported in a statement to the Secretary of War that his forces had taken hundreds of Confederates prisoner after they attacked his forces in the state, adding the Union repulsed the attack "with great loss to the enemy."

From: ABC News and the Associated Press

Handmade Confederate Playing Cards

Handmade Confederate Playing Cards,  The Perkins Gallery, Duke University

During the fair-weather campaign season, soldiers could expect to be engaged in battle one day out of 30. Their remaining days were filled with almost interminable drilling, punctuated with spells of entertainment in the form of music, cards and other forms of gambling. -The Civil War Trust Life of the Civil War Soldier in Camp

Cards from the St. Clair Dearing Papers



The  Rebel Army Company was lined up for “dress parade” somewhere in northern Arkansas. The ranks were in perfect alignment; troops were at attention, as the commanding officer, Colonel Preston, inspected the men.

Continue reading "HENRY CLAY THURSTON" »

The Arizona Kid - watch online

The Arizona Kid is a Roy Rogers movie from 1939. Roy plays an ex-confederate soldier who returns to  Texas to help the town get rid of the Carpetbag governing tyrants.
Early Hollywood did not think it necessary to denigrate the South at every turn. There were movies, other than Gone With The Wind, where the south and southerners were treated kindly.
Like a lot of westerns the movie is about an hour long. That way mom could drop the kids off at the movies where it cost 10 cents per kid, and do her shopping which took about an hour then come back and pick up the kids.
The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.

 Video From the Internet Archive

The Arizona Kid


  • The_Arizona_Kid
  • The_arizona_kid_2
  • The_arizona_kid_1

The Arizona Kid is a 1939 American western film directed by Joseph Kane under the Republic Pictures banner. The film stars Roy Rogers as a Confederate officer in Missouri during the American Civil War.

Roy and Gabby are Confederate scouts in Missouri during the American Civil War. Val McBride is a confederate guerilla officer, who doesn’t play by the rules. When Roy first rides into town, he encounters an old childhood friend, Dave Allen. Dave tells Roy that he has joined McBride’s guerilla force and Roy is not pleased. He tells Dave that McBride is not a man to be admired but Dave doesn’t listen. McBride arrives at the saloon where Dave and Roy are talking and Roy and McBride nearly end up in a fight.

The arrival of Union scouts prevents the fight as McBride and his force, including Dave, ride away. Shortly afterwards, McBride is told by his superior Confederate officer that he must play by the rules or be stripped of his command. McBride, furious that his effective (if crude and ungentlemanly) fighting is being scorned, leaves the Confederates and continues to fight both sides on his own. Roy and Gabby are soon assigned to tracking down and killing McBride and his men. During a brief pause in their search, Roy, Gabby, and the men they have recruited agree to take a small shipment of gold through to another Confederate officer. En route, McBride attacks. Gabby is hurt, though not seriously, while Roy is nearly killed.

Dave (still one of McBride’s men) hangs back and helps Gabby get Roy to a nearby cabin for help. Then he leaves to rejoin McBride. Roy and Gabby set out to resume their search a few months later. After a long and dangerous search, Roy and Gabby find and corner McBride’s men including Dave, but McBride escapes. While Gabby takes care of business, Roy chases McBride to a local saloon and boarding house where the matron hides McBride and refuses to tell Roy where he is. McBride comes out and takes a shot at Roy but misses and Roy returns fire, killing McBride.

From Wikipedia



Spencer Bronson

Spencer Bronson figured the gunshot he heard was part of the play

Since enlisting in Company B of the Wisconsin 7th Infantry, he had heard many gunshots. Bronson fought valiantly throughout the Civil War with the Iron Brigade — he was captured at Gettysburg, wounded in several battles and still carried a bullet in his right hip when he was sent to a hospital to convalesce. That’s how he ended up in Washington, D.C., at the end of the war.

When Bronson read in a newspaper that President Abraham Lincoln, General Ulysses S. Grant and their wives were going to see “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre that evening, April 14, 1865, Bronson bought a ticket and walked three blocks from the hospital to the theater.

In chilling detail Bronson wrote to his sister Amanda Bronson back home in Fall River, Wis., what happened next:

Continue reading "Spencer Bronson" »