Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tiny Cemetery Recalls Tragic Love Story

The small site at Locust Grove with only 27 plots represents an era in Louisiana's romantic history. The cemetery is all that is left of what was once the vast acreage of  Locust Grove Plantation, owned by the family of Jefferson Davis' sister, Anna E. Davis Smith.

In the summer of 1835 the future Confederate President brought Sarah Knox Taylor Davis, his bride of only 3 months to visit his sister. Both  Knox (as she was called by family and friends) and Jefferson contracted malaria, and  Knox, the daughter of General Zachary Taylor, died at the age of 21. Her grave is situated there among those of other Davis family members.

The story is a true poignant chapters in Southern history. She was only 18 when she met her future husband at Fort Crawford on the Wisconsin River. Jefferson was a 24 year old lieutenant at that time. They fell in love and married, despite her father's objections. Jefferson gave up his military career in order to give her a life of happiness and ease. It was 8 years after her death before he overcame his grief.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Devastation In the South - Tornados and War

Tornados tore through the South yesterday bringing death, destruction and devastation to Alabama and other parts of Dixie. Pictures of Tuscaloosa  show areas that look as if they had been bombed. We grieve for those whose lives have been lost or turned upside-down in a matter of moments and we praise the Lord for his protection for those of us and our loved ones who were spared.

It made me think once again of the tragedy and destruction perpetrated on the South by Mr. Lincoln and the Union army, and the horrors of war and the loss of lives on both sides that are unparalled in American history.

 Can we ever forget Antietam, the single bloodiest day in American military history? (over 23,100 lives lost).

Or what about Gettysburg, with all its carnage and slaughter, often described as the war's turning point?

And  does it push buttons to remember despicable Sherman on his march from Atlanta to Savannah and the sea as he set the South ablaze?

It reminds me of King David who said  in 2 Samuel 24:14 "Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great, but do not let me fall into the hands of men."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Confederate Memorial Day

Today, April 26th,  is Confederate Memorial Day (even though the State of Alabama took "yesterday-Monday") as its holiday celebration!!! Regardless, the First White House was open yesterday, April 25th and we hope some of you visited..

We are excited that the Ladies Memorial Association has celebrated each Confederate Memorial Day (the real day)  beginning in 1886, without ceasing to remember.  Today was the celebration of the 144th annual program, held at 2:00 pm at Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, April 26, 2011. It began with an invocation by Dr. John Eidsmoe.

This was followed by a wonderful program, with Leslie Kirk, President of the LMA presiding. There was a presentation of the Colors and a salute to each of the flags. Cameron Napier gave a history of the LMA, followed by George Gayle, James Pickett and then a rousing speech by Bob Bradley.

Following the address, Ms. Kirk took the Memorial Wreath to the Confederate Monument. Afterwards, at least two of us went to the Northern Graves that are also in Oakwood and gave tribute there. We would certainly  hope that Northern men and women would do the same for our dead.

We ended up at the grave of Jefferson Davis's father-in-law, William Burr Howell, who died in Montgomery. The ladies of the White House Association gave the money for his very fine tombstone. This was a special moment.

Let us never cease to remember April 26, no matter what the year,  as Confederate Memorial Day!!! And lets continue to teach our children about this sacrifice, which is not taught correctly, if at all, in school.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Correction on Downtown Montgomery Civil War Sites

Got a little mixed up on my facts in my last blog about the downtown Montgomery buildings. I inquired about these from Mary Ann Neeley, Montgomery's  premier historian, and she has kindly given me the correct information.

 First, the Inaugural Reception was in Estelle & Concert Halls on Dexter Avenue - on the North side, in the first block, almost to the Perry Street corner. This building is for sale by the City and is considered a very important building, because of its history as a place for antebellum public entertainments (built 1850s), as the site for the Inaugural Reception and as a Civil War hospital from 1862-65.

The Montgomery Theatre was what became the Webber's building on the corner of Perry and Monroe. It is about to be renovated, but not as a theatre; it will house offices and possibly lofts. This is indeed great news!!!

A friend who read the blog about the downtown buildings remembered an old theatre, which was closed and had been partially burned, which he explored as a young boy. Mary Ann says this was "the Grand Theatre" which faced Dexter in the same block as the YMCA stood on Washington. It was built in 1907 and in it were vaudeville shows, and legitimate theatre. Ben Hur was performed there with horses and chariots on the stage. It was torn down in 1956 and the Alabama Power Company stands there today.

I hope everyone is having a blessed Easter. Christ is Risen Indeed!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

More Montgomey Civil War Sites & Buildings

In our May 11 blog I mentioned Mary Ann Neeley's Civil War Walking Tour in downtown Montgomery. I mentioned some of the sites we visited, but other important places also need mentioning, and one of them is where the Alabama Confederate Prison was, near the corner of Coosa and Tallapoosa streets

Yes,  from Mid-April to December 1862 a Confederate military prison held 700 Union soldiers, most captured at Shiloh. Nearly 198 of them died in captivity. Survivors were moved to Tuscaloosa in Dec. A historic marker marks the location, outside Riverwalk Stadium, home of the Montgomery Buiscuit's baseball team.

Nearby is Oakwood Cemetery, where many Confederate and Northern soldiers' graves are located. A memorial service is held there every April 26th, Confederate Memorial Day by the Ladies Memorial Associaton and wreaths are laid honoring both Confederate and Union graves..

St. John's Episcopal church is nearby, where Jefferson Davis worshiped while in Montgomery. His pew is still there and the parishioners say that only visitors sit on it because it is so hard! Members know better!!!

The Confederate Post office was located on the corner of Washington and Perry streets. It was the only Post Office that actually was profitable! It was also the only building in Montgomery that was earthquake-proof.

Another important building, still standing, is on the corner of Perry and Monroe streeets, where Jefferson Davis's Inauguration Ball was held, in the second floor ballroom. Don't we wish someone would restore it and it could be open to visitors? It would make a wonderful museum. Instead it is a boarded up building.

 So much Confederate history, with so much of it "gone with the wind". But ah, what stories these old buildings could tell if only they could speak! A grand and glorious past, one that we can be proud of. Thanks to Landmarks Preservation group we still have as much of the past as we do. And thankfully, the White House Association was able to save the First White House of the Confederacy. Come visit us!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Father Abram Ryan - Poet of The Confederacy

Abram Joseph Ryan (1838-1886) was an American Poet, an active proponent of the Confederacy and a Roman Catholic Priest. Wikipedia says he has been called the "Poet-Priest of the South". A dear friend "introduced" him to me and I am very grateful.

His first pieces of poetry "In Memoriam" and "In Memory of My Brother", were inspired by the death of his younger brother, who was serving in the Confederacy and was killed in battle in April 1863, in KY.

Although he never formally joined the Confederate Army, he was clearly serving as a free-lance chaplain by the last two years of the War. His most famous poem, "The Conquered Banner" appeared in the New York Freeman's Journal in 1865. It is said to have captured the spirit of sentimentality and martyrdom then rising in the South. Hear him now:
 "Furl that banner, softly, slowly!  Treat it gently - it is holy -
For it droops above the dead.  Touch it not - unfold it never,
 Let it droop there, furled forever, For its people's hopes are dead!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Photos From The War Between The States

It is amazing how many photos from the War have survived. Click on and view them. They absolutely take your breath away. Credit goes to Guy DiCarlo Jr. for this display.

Here is what he says: "These pictures are very profound. It is fortunate that they have survived....They are pretty amazing considering they were taken up to 150 years ago."

He goes on to say that they were wet plate photos made on glass plates. After the war people lost interest and many were sold for the glass. They were often used in green houses and the sun caused the images to fade.

It will be well worth your time if you are a civil war buff like I am, to look at these heart-wrenching photos. These were shown with permission of the Library of Congress.

Monday, April 18, 2011

No Casino Gambling at Gettysburg Civil War Battlefield

The Civil War Trust was elated to hear that on April 14th the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board rejected a second proposal to bring casino glambling to the doorstep of Gettysburg National Military Park.

 A statement was issued by Civil War Trust President thanking the Gaming Control Board for their "...insightfil decision stating that the hallowed ground of America's most blood-soaked battlefield is no place for this type of adults-only enterprise..."

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. On its website it states that its mission is to preserve our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds.

It also says that to date, the Trust has preserved more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states, including 800 at Gettysburg. Please visit them at What a great work they are doing. If we don't preserve these sites, what a loss to future generations.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ready, Aim, Fire, - 150 Years Ago TODAY

Its been all over the web, newspapers and television, and we have written much about it on our blog. At 6:45 this morning, reenactors fired a mortar toward Fort Sumter to commemorate the start of "Mr. Lincoln's War," 150 years ago today, as hard as that is to believe.

Hundreds, maybe thousands,  of people were on hand, even some friends from Montgomery, who left at 3:45 this morning to arrive in time for this symbolic occasion. We will never agree with everyone about the War, but we will also not forget. Our ancestors did what they thought was right, at their time and place and space in history and we honor them for it, even though we decry the loss of 600,000 lives.

Wars and rumors of wars...they will persist until Christ comes again. As it says in the Book of Revelation in The Greatest Book, "Even so Lord Jesus, come quickly"!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Montgomery Civil War Connections

Yesterday I went on a walking tour of Civil War sites in downtown Montgomery, in commemoration of the part Montgomery played during the War. As we all know, Montgomery served as Capitol of the Confederacy for a little over three months in the spring of 1861 before the seat of power moved to Richmond.

 And all Confederate history buffs likewise know that the telegram that gave the order to fire on Fort Sumter was sent from the Winter building in downtown Montgomery 150 years ago tomorrow. Much of the political behind the scenes activity took place across the square, on the opposite corner of Market street (now Dexter Avenue and Commerce Street) at the old Exchange Hotel. We visited both sites. The Winter building still stands.

The hotel and the Winter building were about two blocks from the State Capitol, located at the east end of Market street. Two blocks north of the hotel was the Confederate Government building, and a block west of that was the First White House, ideally located for President Davis, as he could, and often  did, easily walk from his house to any of the above locations.

Local historian and tour guide Mary Ann Neeley pointed out that Montgomery also served as a trade and industrial center, thanks to the Alabama river. The ironclad ship C.S.S. Nashville was built in Montgomery near the river. It became the last Confederate vessel to surrender on May 25, 1865, about two and a half months after General lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, according to Mary Ann. We visited the spot on the river where the ship was probably launched.

The tour was most enjoyable and informative (and 88 degrees temp) and I will tell you about some of the other things we saw tomorrow.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Playing Into Lincoln's Hands

Reading up on the Bombardment of Fort Sumter -150th anniversary date April 12-13, makes me feel that our side (the good guys) played right into Lincoln's hands. If we had just negotiated a little longer, and not fired that first shot I wonder what "might have been".

 Shakespeare wrote "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves". Of course this is a rather existential way of looking at things. We Calvinists know that the Scriptures teach "the king's heart is in the Hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water, He turns it wherever He wishes" (Proverbs 21:1).

 But all the same, by firing the first shot, the Confederates were right where Mr. Lincoln wanted them. Reducing Fort Sumter was an easy but very costly victory - ah, the luxury of "hindsight"! Readers, what do you think?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Battle For Fort Sumter Begins The Great War of Secesion

When South Carolina Seceded in 1860, the spirit of rebellion engulfed the state and thousands of volunteers and Militia gathered in Charleston ready to fight. The only Union presence was a force of 85 men at Fort Moultrie, adjacent to Charleston Harbor where better defenses were in place.

Major Anderson took his Union troops from Fort Moultrie to For Sumter, believing the move would reduce tension. Southerners saw this as an act of aggression. Fort Sumter had only six weeks of rationing left. Lincoln chose to resupply his men. He notified the Confederates.

The Confederates opened fire upon Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 and 33 hours later the fort surrendered. On April 15 Lincoln called for 75,000 men to quell the "Southern Insurrection". The Great Civil War had begun.