Saturday, April 27, 2013

What Happened on April 27, 1863?

Today, April 27, 2014 I googled back 150 years to see what happened on April 27, 1863.. Union General Hooker crossed the Rappahannock River to attack General Lee's forces. This, as you probably know, resulted in the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Lee split his forces, attacking a surprised Yankee army in three places and defeating them. Hooker withdrew back across the river and the South had a victory, but it was the most costly for the Confederates in terms of casualties.

The worst casualty of all was the death of the great and good General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, accidently killed by his own men, having been mistaken for a Union soldier. In a sense, the Battle of Chancellorsville was in many ways both the zenith and the nadir of the War for Southern Independence.

Everything seemed to go rapidly downhill after that, with the fall of Vicksburg in July, as well as the disastrous Gettysburg campaign, and then the loss at Chattanooga in November, which set the stage for Sherman's Atlanta campaign. 

All these many years later I just shake my head and say, "if only"!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Streight's Raid in Alabama Dismal Failure

150 years ago, from April 19 to May 3, 1863, Union Colonel Abel Streight and his men attempted a campaign to destroy portions of the Western & Atlantic Railroad,  in order to cut Confederate supply lines.
University of West Georgia professor Keith Hebert  spoke about this at the Department of Archives and History last week.  Streight had 1700 men but was captured by the legendary Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his army of 500.
Several funny things about this botched raid: first, the Union soldiers were using mules, since there were no horses. This mean no "sneaking up" on the Rebel army because of the constant braying of the animals! The Confederates could hear them more than two miles away!
Then at Cedar Bluff, Streight's men found themselves surrounded by Forrest, whose men  craftily rode in circles in and out of Streight's view, convincing Streight that he was surrounded by a much larger force than his own. He surrendered rather than face annihilation.
He was enraged and humiliated when he realized his forces  were more than three times that of Forrest. He angrily demanded his men be allowed to renege their surrender, but Forrest refused. Defeat proved especially bitter for the Union soldiers from Alabama who had stayed with the Union rather than secede with the rest of the Alabamians.
This account of Forrest's heroics further elevated his already mythical status!

Monday, April 22, 2013

"Follow the Money"

The speaker at the Confederate Memorial Day Commemoration today spoke about the true cause of the War of Northern Aggression. He reminded his audience that in 1860 the South, with one fourth of the population of the country paid 80% of the tariffs.

Lincoln, when hearing the South might secede said "what would become of my South, my revenue".

He mentioned the  Morris Tariff act of 1860 which provided for almost all goods coming in from Europe would have way high taxes (or tariffs) on them except Cotton!!!

Also, the students of West Point, including Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and others, studied a book by Rawls which said that all the states had the "right of secession". But as we have said before, the victors get to rewrite  history. Just thought it might be good to revisit the subject on this special holiday when We Remember!!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Kentucky Mint Julep - Its Derby Time At the First White House

Since its nearly Kentucky Derby weekend I am printing a recipe for Kentucky Mint Julep. Maybe we can make some up and sip it on the front porch at the First White House of the Confederacy. I bet that's what Varina and Jefferson did, don't you suppose? (sip, I mean, not watch Kentucky Derby!).
anyway, try this...
4 sprigs fresh mint            2 jiggers Bourbon
1 tsp. sugar                        crushed ice
 Crush one sprig of mint in julep cup with sugar and a dash of water to dissolve sugar. Pack cup with crushed ice; add Bourbon and stir until cup is frosted. Insert straw, remaining mint sprigs, and sip...
no bourbon? Well, try orange juice!!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gasoliers in First White House ofConfederacy

This may come as a shock to some but there was no electricity in homes in 1861 when the Davis family lived in the First White House. They did have Gasoliers however, and we have not only one, but a matching pair of Rococo Revival Gasoliers of Gilt Brass, circa 1850-60's, thanks to the generosity of a very special Montgomery lady. She has donated it in memory of her husband.
Though the history is lost, this wonderful pair could have been from any number of great Montgomery houses, all now gone. Originally they were in rooms with ceilings of about 14 - 16 feet tall. They each have five branches. The arms and central standard are ornamented with curled leafage of a type similar to oak leaves. the upper portion of the standard is hung with long narrow leaves, perhaps intended to be laurel leaves.
If they could talk, what stories they would tell...It will be such fun to have them both finished alike and conserved and returned to hang in our First and Second parlors.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Is Confederate History Missing in Selma?

Susan Hathaway of Sandston, Virginia has written an open letter to the Mayor and City Council of Selma, Alabama telling how disappointed she was when she arrived there and found the town almost completely void of any vestiges of its rich Confederate history.
She was shocked to find the Old Live Oak Cemetery "decaying from neglect" in her words. She said the Confederate monument in the cemetery was breathtaking, but that efforts by private citizens to make improvements to it, including handicap access had been blocked by the City Council.
In her letter she went on to say that she found it "ironic that a city that wants so much to present itself as the jewel of the civil rights movement, now openly discriminates against those of us with Confederate heritage." Ms. Hathaway also questioned why Selma had chosen to "disfranchise a large group of people, who otherwise might visit, bringing much needed revenue into the city."
I will say that the Montgomery, City and County, Chamber of Commerce and the State of Alabama, in my opinion, has done a great job of promoting both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movements, and this has worked to the benefit of all, especially as our goal is to bring in the tourists and with them those important dollars that we must have to thrive and move forward!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Confederate First Lady Rescues Black Child in Richmond

We sell a book at the First White House written by Gulfport, Mississippi writer Mrs. Peggy Robbins, titled "Jim Limber Davis". The story goes that on February 15, 1864, Mrs. Varina Davis, wife of President Jefferson Davis was driving her carriage down the streets of Richmond and heard screams.
Varina saw a young black child being abused by an older man. She demanded that he stop striking the child and when this failed she shocked the man by putting the child in her carriage and taking him home with her.
The only thing the child would tell the family was that his name was Jim Limber. The next evening a friend of Varina's, noted Diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut, visited the Davises and wrote later that she had seen the boy. She said "the child is an orphan rescued yesterday by a brutal n....Guardian" and "there are things in life that are too sickening, and such cruelty is one of them".
After Richmond was evacuated because the end of the War was coming, Jefferson Davis was captured near Irwinville, Georgia and taken to prison. Mrs. Davis and the children were taken to Macon, Georgia and later to Port Royal, outside of Savannah. At Port Royal, their Union escort, Captain Charles T. Hudson took Jim Limber away. The family would never see him again or know what happened to him, a very sad story that took place at a very sad time.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Did the Last Alabama "Real Son" Die?

My good friend Murfee shared interesting information with me, some of which I blogged about yesterday, regarding the  remaining Confederate widow (or widows). He also shared  the story of Tyus Kirby Denney, a "Real Son," who died March 6, 2013 at the age of 92.
This was written up in the "Alabama Confederate", the Official Newsletter of the Alabama Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans,  April 2013 issue. Denny was a resident of Birmingham, an SCV member and a man who took great pride in being one of only two surviving sons of a Civil War veteran in Alabama.

Denney's father, Tyus Jefferson Denney enlisted in the Confederate army in 1862 at the age of 18, as a private in Co. H, 31st Alabama Infantry Regiment.  He saw action in the Kentucky campaign, before moving to Mississippi, where his Regiment fought at Port Gibson, Bakers Creek and Vicksburg. Captured and paroled, the men of the 31st joined the Army of Tennessee at Missionary Ridge and then fought from Dalton to Atlanta.

Near Marietta, June 15, 1864, Tyus Denney was captured by Union forces and sent to Rock Island POW Camp where he remained until June 18, 1865, when he made his long trip home and began his life after the war.

Tyus Kirby Denney was 13 when his father died at the age of 91 in 1934. Isn't that amazing? Lets don't say he was the "last one" though. Another might surface any day now!!! Tough old birds, weren't they?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Another Confederate Widow Surfaces

When Alberta Martin died in 2004, she was believed to be the last Confederate widow. She lay in repose at the First White House of the Confederacy and was buried with full honors.
But since then another Confederate widow has been located and has now died. Her name was Maudie Hopkins and she was 93. She grew up during the Depression in the "hardscrabble Ozarks" and married a Confederate army veteran 67 years her senior, according to an article in the Seattle Times.
She married William Cantrell when she was 19 and he was 86. He made her "an offer she couldn't refuse" by saying he would leave her his land and home if she would marry and take care of him in his later years which she did. The couple married in 1934 and he died in 1937 at age 90. She was widowed three more times and had 3 children by her second husband.
Cantrell had enlisted in the Confederate army at age 16 and was captured by the Federals and served as a prisoner of war for six weeks. 
The article goes on to say "other Confederate widows are still living, but they don't want publicity".