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July 2015

Confederate reenactor


Bob Gordon, like many Civil War reenactors, had what he calls his "golden moment" at his first reenactment over 10 years ago. 
"...You actually feel like you are a soldier in the civil war back in that time, Gordon said. 
At first glance, the California native  looks like he just stepped out of a history book. Gordon stumbled across a Civil War reenactment during a visit to the Prairie Grove Battlefield a decade ago and was hooked. 
"The smoke. The sound of the explosions.  The smell of the burnt gun powder it just... I don't know it gets in your blood," said Gordon. 
Read the full article here:

The Combustible Paper Revolver Cartridge

The Combustible Paper Revolver Cartridge,

Before the 1870’s most revolvers operated with what was called the “cap and ball” system.  This meant that each chamber was loaded with loose powder, a bullet, and a percussion cap was placed on the nipple of each chamber.  When the hammer struck the percussion cap, it would drive a spark into the chamber which discharged the chamber.

In 1855 the gun designer Rollin White invented the bored through cylinder, which could be loaded with rimfire metallic cartridges.  The use of such cartridges greatly sped up loading time, however only the patent holder (Smith and Wesson) could produce such revolvers without paying hefty royalties.  As an alternative to the metallic cartridge, Colt invented the combustible paper revolver cartridge.  The cartridge featured a bullet and charge of powder placed within a seamless paper casing. The bullet could be both round ball or conical. The cartridge was inserted into a chamber front first.  Typically the cartridge was tapered on the end for easier loading.  The cartridge was then rammed into place with the loading lever.  The paper was impregnated with potassium nitrate making it highly combustible, combustible enough that a spark from a percussion cap to discharge the cartridge, and discharge it thoroughly enough that it wouldn’t leave remnants of paper in the chamber.

Paper revolver cartridges were manufactured by a number of companies, with their hayday occurring during the American Civil War.  By 1870, two things led to the end of the paper cartridge,  the first being the expiration of Rolling Whites patent, the second being the invention of the metallic centerfire cartridge.  Today black powder enthusiasts typically make their own paper revolver cartridges.

From peashooter85 on Tumblr

Civil War in the Trans Mississippi

More than 200,000 men were involved in the Civil War military efforts in the “Trans-Mississippi Theater,” an area that includes all the land between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean.

Consequently, some of your ancestors may have been involved in some of those battles and skirmishes.

The Springfield-Greene County Library District has embarked on an ambitious project to provide information via the Internet about the impact of the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi region.

Although most of the information and photographs are about events, places and people in Missouri, several of the topics also relate to surrounding states, such as Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma. The site is found at

Among the battles fought in the Trans-Mississippi area were the battles of Wilson’s Creek, Prairie Grove, Pea Ridge, Westport, Big Cabin and Lexington.

The exceptional site is well organized. Visitors can enter a keyword into a search box; browse the collections; or check the information by county, theme or battle.

From Frankie Meyer via Joplin Globe

Morgan's raiders

Voices From The Civil War- First Hand Account Of Morgan’s Raiders-  They were gentlemanly and represented the best manhood of Kentucky and their native states. 

Mr. Johnson, interviewed near his home in Indiana during the 1930s, was a young man during the Civil War. Even so, his memories concerning John Morgan’s cavalry raid through his neighborhood were still fresh in his mind. 

“… The gray figures of Morgan’s men appeared out of the distance. They showed the strain of a hurried and harassed march; both men and beast were weary. Four of the men stopped before me perched on the fence and said, ‘Son take these canteen and fill them with water’. I didn’t refuse but hurried across the road to Mr. Alexander’s Robinson’s well where two or three other boys were drawing water for the Raider’s men with a windlass. The well was wide and only about nine feet deep. As soon as I filled my canteens I passed them among the men and kept returning for more water until the well was dry. After this short period of service we were mustered out; and Morgan, the raider, with his men went their way with their jangling and clanking of arms to disappear in the horizon toward old Paris.”

There were some three thousand soldiers in the Confederate cavalry. They were gentlemanly and represented the best manhood of Kentucky and their native states. Of course in war and in that large a crowd there would be some unpleasant things, but on the whole the men were polite. Whenever they saw a horse they wanted they exchanged their worn out horse for it usually with the suggestion of “Let’s Swap, I think you can plow all right with this horse”. Many of the horses left were really better than the ones taken but were worn out and many had sore backs.

From The CivilWarParlor on Tumblr

Confederate prisoners - Fairfax 1863

Confederate prisoners held at Fairfax in June 1863. Photograph by Timothy H. O'Sullivan

These soldiers were probably taken prisoner during the battle at nearby Chantilly Plantation on 1 September 1862. In the early part of the war, both sides had a system of exchanging prisoners of equal rank, release of captives on parole conditional on an oath not to take up arms again. By 1863 the system had broken down and prisoners were kept in camps. Conditions were often appalling, due in part to the sheer numbers, 400,000 in all on both sides. From the album assembled by John Downes Rochfort who visited all the major American Civil War sites in 1867.

National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

Confederate Prisoners, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1863

Pickett’s Charge, General Lee and History~

History may never know the true story of Lee’s intentions at Gettysburg. He never published memoirs, and his after-action report from the battle was cursory. Most of the senior commanders of the charge were casualties and did not write reports. Pickett’s report was apparently so bitter that Lee ordered him to destroy it, and no copy has been found…  

Years later, when asked why his charge at Gettysburg failed, General Pickett replied: “I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.” 

Source: Boritt, Gabor S., ed. Why the Confederacy Lost. Gettysburg Civil War Institute Books. New York: Oxford University Press

The Rebel soldier - what did he look like?


Countless eyewitness descriptions allow us to evoke the popular image of the ragged Rebel

  • Uniforms were in shreds and tatters, described more appropriately as “multiforms”; faces were unshaven, unkempt hair stuck through slouch hats of all shapes and sizes, and the dusty roads only served to cake the soldiers in further filth 
  • Uniforms were ill-fitting; sleeves were too short, trouser legs too long, only adding to their multifarious appearance. 
  • Lee’s men were particularly deficient in shoes, underwear and blankets, and “Their coats were made out of almost anything you could imagine, butternut color predominating.”Their lack of shoes led to scores of footsore soldiers, and in many regiments the barefooted seemed to outnumber those with footwear.  
  • The weight of soldiers had also debilitated; a supposed diet containing large amounts of green corn and apples for subsistence ensured the Rebels became hollow-eyed and sullen-faced. 
  • James Steptoe Johnston, Jr. of the 11th Mississippi wrote that “it had become quite natural for us to starve.” 
  • One unnamed citizen in Frederick, Maryland wrote that “the filth that pervades them is most remarkable… They have no uniforms, but are well armed and equipped.” 
  • One witness said she felt “humiliated at the thought that this horde of ragamuffins could set our grand army of the Union at defiance”, but professed a certain sympathy “for the poor, misguided wretches, for some were limping along so painfully, trying to keep with their comrades.” 
  • Mrs. I.E. Doane was 81 years old when interviewed by workers of the WPA Federal Writer’s Project –These, ragged and half-starved, passed in hordes, raiding their provisions, killing their chickens, hogs and cattle. Although this was hard, Mrs. Cummings did not begrudge food to these soldiers. Mrs. Doane says she well remembers her mother and “Mudder” baking hoecakes in the kitchen for these hungry soldiers, who were so ravenous that they could not wait for the bread to be browned on both sides, but would snatch it from their hands and eat it half-cooked. She recalls seeing her mother dish up sauer-kraut for the soldiers until they had eaten her entire winter’s supply - two barrels.

From wildbillburroughs on Tumblr