Sunday, February 24, 2013

Answers to Jefferson Davis Quiz Bowl

You are a very astute Confederate if you answered all twelve correctly (see prior blog)
1. West Point
2. Mexican War
3. Secretary of War under Franklin Pearce
4. Montgomery, Alabama (we are known as the Capital of the Confederacy)
5. Richmond, VA
6. One Six Year Term only
7. Irwinville, GA
8. Fortress Monroe
9. Released on a $ 100,000 bail bond
10. Buried in Richmond
11. Married twice, first wife was Sarah Knox Taylor who died; 2nd wife Varina Howell
12. Only one child, the oldest, Margaret, married and had children

Did you have fun? Let me know how you did. Richard, I know you made  a perfect score!!!

Test Your Best - How Much Do You Know About Jefferson Davis?

Sunday's paper had a "test" for those who had seen "Les Miz". It was so much fun to take, that I thought I would make up a test for you to see how much you know about Jefferson Davis. I will give the answers in the next blog: Here go the questions, no cheating now!!!

1. Jefferson Davis was a graduate of which military school?
2. He commanded a regiment in which war? (Hint, do not say the War Between the States!)
3. In what Cabinet Post did he serve and under which President?
4. In what city did he take his oath as Provisional President of the Confederacy?
5. Where did he become the Constitutional President?
6. How long was his term of office to be?
7. Where was he captured by federal troops?
8. Where was he imprisoned?
9. How was he released?
10. Where is he buried?
and a couple of personal questions -
11. How many times was he married and what were the names of his wives?
12. How many children did he have and how many of them married and had children?

If you have all the right answers you are a true Confederate and do let me know!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Amazing Facts About the Confederacy

Here are some amazing facts about the Confederacy which were gleaned from the Internet. I believe you will be as interested as I was to know:
The states included in the Confederacy, in order of secession, were South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee.
The Confederacy spread over more than 750,00 square miles, but unfortunately much of it was beyond the reach of good roads or railroads. The CSA had a 35,000 coastline and contained nearly 200 harbors and navigable river mouths.
Most of the interior was farmland, but much was also hilly and mountainous and the far west was desert. The highest point was in Texas. Texas shared an open border with Mexico which made a truly crippling Union blockage almost impossible. No wonder we were optimistic. Too bad it didn't work out like we planned!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Did Varina Davis Use the Language of the Fan?

Since we sell hand held fans (19th century looking) our own Henry Howard found the "Language of the Fan" on the Internet. I wonder if Varina "spoke" fan language? I bet she did. Here is some fan language:
To hold the fan with the right hand in front of the face means...follow me.
To hold it in the left ear...I want you to leave me alone!
To let it slide across your forehead...You have changed since we last met.
To move it with the left hand...You are imprudent.
To throw the fan...I hate you! (Remember, in Gone with the Wind, Scarlett threw an ash tray or something at Rhett Butler in the scene at Twelve Oaks when she had words with Ashley and Rhett was hiding behind the sofa)
To move it with the right hand...I love another.
To let it slide on the cheek...I want you!
To hold it closed...Do you love me?
To let it slide on the eyes...Go away please.
To touch the edge of the fan to your fingers...I want to talk to you.
And best of all, To hold the fan to the lips...Kiss me!

Monday, February 18, 2013

152 Years Ago Today...

152 years ago today, Jefferson Davis took the oath of office as Provisional President of the Confederacy, on the front portico of the Alabama State Capitol, across the street from where the First White House of the Confederacy is located today.
They say he was an elegant old "gent" as he stepped out of a carriage drawn by six white horses. Many people milled around, young and old, black and white, male and female. The hopes and fears of a new nation lay upon his shoulders.
 Do you think he had a premonition of dread? He must have known in his heart that Lincoln would never let the South go willingly. He had not sought this position, believing, I think, that since he was a military man he would be leading the Miss troops into battle, should the war come. Yet, just as Lee and others did, he took the mantle thrust upon him, and did not look back. Here are a few words from his Inaugural speech:
"Called to the difficult and responsible station of Chief Executive of the Provisional Government which you have instituted, I approach the discharge of the duties assigned to me with an humble distrust of my abilities, but with a sustaining confidence in the wisdom of those who are to guide and to aid me in the administration of public affairs, and an abiding faith in the virtue and patriotism of the people."
I think  history has vindicated him, do you? Truly, he was a man who did his best but could not do the impossible. He had struggled while in Congress to keep the nation together, and failing in that,  he struggled to keep the Confederacy intact, but God simply ordained otherwise. Jefferson Davis was an example in defeat and we admire him and pay him homage today.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jefferson Davis and the Capitol Building in Washington

Did you know that our Capitol Building in Washington, as we know it today, would probably not have existed if not for Jefferson Davis?
My friend Richard had written me about this and I pulled up an article titled "Humanities" on the Internet to find out more about it. This article by Guy Gugliotta (Sept/Oct 2012), says Davis's most lasting legacy as a nation-builder was as a prime mover in the enormous project to expand the US Capitol, "from a small cramped, statehouse-like building ...into a sprawling, magisterial seat of government with separate, marble-faced wings for the Senate and House, and a soaring new dome made of cast iron."
 Gugliotta continues, "The U.S. Capitol, as we know it today, would never have existed without Jefferson Davis. In many ways, it is his building". Does anybody know this????
Davis, then serving in the U.S. Senate thought a great nation needed a great seat of government. When the price tag was discussed, Davis said, "What if it does cost more? If this Union continues together, and this continues to be the seat of Government, I have no idea that any plan which may now be suggested will finally answer all the wants of the country."
"Eventually" Davis said, "Congress may have to cover the whole square with buildings".
Through the ensuing years he kept the project alive and eventually made it thrive, even though, in the end he left the Senate and chose Mississippi and the Confederacy. Gugliotta says, "...but one could only speculate that were it not for blood ties, he could perhaps have gone the other way".
There was no doubt that Jefferson Davis loved the Union. Perhaps he loved the South more! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

November 1863 Morning of Resurrection

I read an article by Hong Min Zou, called "Resurrection Morn", from The Marks Collection, which was in our files (There are lots and lots of articles in our files at the First White House of the Confederacy. We have been collecting articles and information for a long time). 
The story tells how in November 1863, General Lee's army moved into winter quarters on the south side of the Rapidan River and the Union army moved up to the north side. They were so close together the pickets on either side were within speaking distance.
The Confederate Chaplain faithfully preached the gospel of Christ to the soldiers of the 13th Virginia regiment. One of the soldiers received Christ as his Savior and wished to be baptized in the River, but the enemy was so close his officers feared there might be trouble.
Finally they gave consent, and the Confederates marched down to the river about 50 strong.. The enemy, seeing they had no weapons, did not fire, but seemed greatly puzzled and watched carefully. When the Confederates reached the water's edge they began to sing that grand old hymn, "There is a Fountain filled with Blood," and at once the enemy began to leave their works and hasten to the riverside.
Many voices in the Northern army joined in the song. Both armies were at peace as they witnessed the "death" of the old man into the resurrection of the "new man" through Jesus Christ Our Lord. What a blessing for the men of both sides to witness this new birth! "Hallelujah, What a Savior!"

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Confederates at Grant's Funeral

My  good buddy emailed from Decatur, Alabama:  "Have you written about Grant's funeral and the Confederates that participated"? Her question stirred my interest. I hope it does yours.

I read that Ulysses S.Grant's pallbearers were William Tecumseh  Sherman and Phillip Sheridan, who had fought for the Union, and Simon Bolivar Buckner and Joseph Johnston, who had fought for the Confederacy. The account of  the funeral march says all four Officers in the procession rode together in the same carriage. I bet that was an "oops" moment, don't you?

I wanted to know more about Buckner and Johnston. Buckner in 1862 was the first Confederate General to surrender an army in the war. He accepted Grant's demand for an unconditional surrender at the Battle of Ft. Donelson. Maybe thats why Grant picked him to be a pallbearer.

Johnston had often been criticized by Jefferson Davis for lack of aggressiveness, however he was the Senior Confederate General at First Manassas. He also fought against Sherman, but he was relieved of his command after withdrawing from NW Georgia to the outskirts of Atlanta.

The article went on to say that Johnston died of pneumonia after serving as a pallbearer at the funeral of William T. Sherman. I guess those guys must have let "bygones be bygones", as they say, but it does seem a little hard to believe. I don't think I could "forgive and forget" like that, could you?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

If You Were Jefferson Davis What Would You Have Done?

I was just thinking about what I would have done after the War, had I been Jefferson Davis. What would you have done?
First of all, he might have escaped to Mexico, but he chose to try to keep the Confederate Government intact as long as possible. Then, that fateful day when he was captured, he had chosen to stay with his wife and family as long as possible, thus making escape impossible.
No choice then but prison. But after prison...with his health declining and his fortune gone, and no job, what then? I am sure people stepped in to help him and his family. I know he went to Canada, then to Scotland and elsewhere, hoping for a suitable job; he was truly a man without a country.
 He became president of a life insurance company in Memphis for a while. I don't know how successful that was, but fortunately a longtime friend, Sarah Ellis Dorey offered him a cottage on her estate, Beauvoir, near Biloxi, Miss. in 1876, and he accepted.
He must have found a home at last. Before Mrs. Dorsey died, he had begun buying Beauvoir, and when she died, she bequeathed it to him in her will. Finally too, he regained Brierfield after a long legal battle. In November of 1889, sadly he died. Then at last he received the acclaim of the people of the South, with the largest funeral ever witnessed of over 200,000 people.
Through it all, he exhibited dignity and grace. Again I ask, what would you have done? How would you have handled all the trials and heartaches that came his way?

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Mystery of The Hunley

Several books have been written about the Confederate ship H.L. Hunley, which sank in the waters off Charleston, 1864, after successfully sinking the Housatonic, becoming the world's first successful combat submarine. It was discovered in 1995 and raised five years later and  taken to Clemson University's Conservation center for research.

What doomed it? New evidence in the form of a torpedo casing, according to a Jan 20, 2013 Montgomery Advertiser article, may hold a clue. This suggests Hunley was less than 20 feet away when it exploded as remnants of the 2 foot long torpedo were found bolted in the casing.

Obviously the crew thought they were far enough away to escape harm. Were they knocked unconscious by the explosion? Was there a small leak caused by water pressure? So many questions, but this finding is a great leap toward solving the mystery of the Hunley.

South Carolina Lt. Gov. Glen McConnell, a Hunley commissioner said "It brings us to the final moments and minutes, not the final hours, as to what sealed the fate of the Hunley."

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Miss Budge At The First White House of the Confederacy

On November 13, 2010, I wrote about Miss Budge, Daphne Simpkin's fictional Southern lady who lives in Montgomery Alabama, in "Cloverdale". In fact, Cloverdale is the title of Daphne's latest book about this wonderful "church lady"  and her exploits, and I highly recommend it.
In my mind's eye, I see Mildred Budge at the First White House, maybe even having a little adventure  there, meeting the great-great grandson of Jefferson Davis, Bert Hayes-Davis.  
There might be a mystery for Bert and Mildred  to solve together, such as who stole Jefferson Davis's sword from the President's bedroom, and  the money box in the front hall. It starts with  a  collision, because as Miss Budge comes in the front door, the man  knocks her down as he runs off with the goodies. Bert, who is in at the same time, sees it all, picks her up  and  they take off after the thief in Mildred's red  corvette.
How about it, Daphne? A short story, or a novella, about this Confederate scenario? Readers, if you want Daphne to carry this forward, please  comment!!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Next Door To The First White House

The closest neighbor in proximity to the First White House of the Confederacy is the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Its new (and only 6th Director in its history) is Steve Murray who spoke to the Cradle of the Confederacy Chapter of the UDC (United Daughters of the Confederacy) today at our Feb meeting.

He told us exciting news, that the next phase of their new exhibition will have alot of "Civil War" information. Of course we know this as the "War Between the States" but we will not fall on our swords about the verbage.

The best part is that it will be about the "Wah" in Alabama.  There will be medical information such as women in the war effort, and how they went about raising money, sending clothes and money to Richmond, etc.  I am sure our "Gunboat Quilt" will fit into the category of raising money for the cause.

There will also be "home front living", such as blockades, agricultural output being diminished because of the war,  and consequently war shortages to be included, for example, substitutes for leather, and books being printed on wallpaper since there was no real paper to be had.

Another category will be what has happened to the black people after emancipationhich should be most educational. I am confident  the entire exhibit,which is huge in scope, will be very well done and educational, and I can hardly wait for it to happen (another year?).

Monday, February 4, 2013

Robet E. Lee Cake

Was there ever any military leader better loved that Robert E. Lee? He won the hearts of all true Southerners, as well as the respect of Northerners. Here is the "Robert E Lee Cake," The recipe was in our files so I don't know to whom to give credit, but I am sure they wouldn't mind me sharing (at least I hope not!)
Beat 9 egg yolks very lightly, then slowly beat in 1 pound of sugar. Fold in the well-beaten egg whites. Sift in 1/2 pound of flour with 1/2 tsp. of salt and mix lightly together. Stir in 1 tbsp. lemon juice. Bake in a slow oven in 3 ungreased layer pans.
Filling: Squeeze the juice of 2 lemons and 3 oranges over 2 cups of sugar and flavor with a little of the grated rinds. Add a cup of grated coconut and put between layers and on top. Sprinkle with dry coconut.
Note: if you use this for his next birthday celebration and you write "In Remembrance" on it, be sure you spell remembrance correctly. The store that made our sheet cake for our recent RE Lee birthday  actually spelled it "rememberance", an "oops" moment. Fred Marshall, good friend and photographer caught it on camera!!!
If you try the cake recipe let me know as my "kitchen is closed".

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Civil War Ship LIke Lazarus Back From The Dead

Yesterday I wrote about the USS Hatteras being discovered off the coast of Galveston, and how the new technology is providing images that were unknown short years ago. Archaeologists and technicians are racing to beat any potential seabed movement that conceal Hatteras again, so they spent two days last September scanning the wreckage using sonar imaging technology for the first time at sea.
Divers used the 3-D gear to map the site in the silt-filled water where visibility is near zero. The murkiness of the water amazingly, doesn't affect sonar technology as it would regular photographic equipment. Sonar technology produces computer-colored images by analyzing sound waves bouncing off objects.
For example crisp, measureable images were made that show the bulk of the steam machinery in the engine room, as well as the platforms for the ship's 32 pounder guns. The project manager called it "very exciting...we knew the ship was out there and to finally see the images, it seemed to make it more real," he said.  He added, "You can fly through the wreck, you're getting a view no diver can get".
The Hatteras had sat mostly undisturbed and unnoticed from 1863 when it was sunk by the CSS Alabama, until its discovery in the early 1970s. The wreck is the property of the U.S. Navy. At one time local treasure hunters filed suit to salvage the ship, but the courts ruled in favor of the government. This is one of the few times courts have ruled in favor of the historic preservation of a shipwreck site versus commercial interests. Aren't we glad they did?

New View of USS Hatteras Civil War Shipwreck

Can you imagine being the one to discover an underwater treasure? Well, they have "done it again" Now you can even seen the remains of the USS Hatteras in 3-D sonar images, down to such details as a shell hole that may have been one of the ship's fatal wounds.
The Hatteras was the only U.S. Navy ship  to go down in the Gulf of Mexico during Civil War combat, sunk by the famed CSS Alabama (YES!). Here is the story: Hatteras was ordered to give chase on an unknown ship off the coast of Galveston on the afternoon of January 11, 1863. When she came within hailing distance, Commander Blake demanded the identity of the unknown ship. "Her Britannic Majesty's Ship Petrel," came the reply. Suspicious, Blake prepared to inspect her, but no sooner had his men launched a longboat, than a new reply rang out, "We are the CSS Alabama."
Famed Confederate raider Raphael Semmes lowered the Union Jack the raider had been flying, raised the Confederate Stars and Bars, and began firing. Soon Hatteras, badly crippled, began to sink.  Captain Blake reluctantly fired a single bow gun, indicating surrender, and a need for assistance. Alabama sent over her boats to help remove the crew and wounded, just in time, because the Union Blockaders sank 45 minutes after the battle began.
Today, she lies in approximately 60 feet of water, an almost "intact time capsule", sealed by mud and sand. "What is there will bring the crew and ship back to life in a way," said Jim Delgado, the project's leader and director of maritime heritage for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
More about this fascinating new science of 3-D sonar images in the next blog. Isn't this a great age in which to live?"

Friday, February 1, 2013

Was Stonewall Jackson's Death Really An Accident?

A new book, "Pale Blue Light", written by Alabama Political aficinado Skip Tucker is a thriller based on the premise that Stonewall Jackson was murdered and not killed by "friendly fire"
It seems a bit farfetched, but stranger things have happened. Is it possible that jealousy and greed could have played a hand in the shooting of Jackson?

Tucker paints a picture of Northern agents and greedy power-brokers in the South joining togeether to covertly take down Jackson and with him the hopes of a victorios South.

Tucker says "I wanted to explore his death...and I wanted readers to hear and feel the rage and pain of battle and to know the heroism on both sides of the conflict". The war had been a passion of his, and Jackson had become a hero. Tucker said he had read about 40 books about "The Recent Unpleasantness". It took him six weeks to write the first draft and another six years to get it right.

Sounds like a winner, doesn't it?