Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day, 2014

As we pause to give thanks for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of this great nation, I want to pay tribute to our military and to their families. How blessed this country is, that we have been spared much of what the rest of the world has undergone, because of the wisdom of our founding fathers and by the grace of Almighty God.

Even though the War Between the States was such a divisive and traumatic event, which caused over 620,000 American lives, the eventual outcome was that both north and south were able to come back together as one nation once again, and be stronger because of our trials. This has not happened in many countries around the world, where often there is still  bitter enmity between people groups, tribes, or nations.

A "Service of Remembrance for our nation's fallen in all Wars" was held at Trinity Presbyterian Church last evening. It was meaningful and reverential; wreaths were laid and patriotic music was sung and performed; a sermon was delivered by Chaplain Paul B. Joyner titled "A Sacrifice for Freedom" based on John 8:31-36.

The Service ended with the anthem "Mansions of the Lord" by Nick Glennie-Smith/Randall Wallace. It was beautifully sung by the Trinity Men's Quartet, and the words are worth repeating on a day such as today:

 "To fallen soldiers let us sing, Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing,
 Our broken brothers let us bring To the Mansions of the Lord.

No more bleeding, no more fight, No prayers pleading through the night,
Just divine embrace, eternal light In the Mansions of the Lord.

Where no mothers cry and no children weep, We will stand and guard though the angels sleep,
All through the ages safely keep The Mansions of the Lord."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The "Big Bang" in the Civil War

I eagerly await the monthly United Daughters of the Confederacy magazine as it is always edifying about the War Between the States, of which, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I am a dedicated aficionado. I don't know a lot but I learn, as you do, by reading!

The March 2014 edition of said magazine has an article by Suanne Townsend titled "The Crater and Major General William Mahone". It is about an incident during the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia,  The siege began in June of 1864, ended in July, and led to what is know as the Battle of the Crater.

A Union Army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pleasants, had the idea to build a tunnel beneath the Confederate trenches at Petersburg. This he filled with gunpowder, and set on fire. The tunnel exploded, just as expected and it was "the most awesome spectacle of the War". The explosion left 300 Confederates dead or maimed and created a huge hole.

The Confederates panicked but regrouped with the arrival of Major General William Mahone, who ordered them to circle the top of the crater and shoot the Union soldiers who were trapped below. Ms. Townsend said "Grant described the attack as a 'stupendous failure.' Major General Burnside was relieved of his command".

General Mahone was promoted to Major General by Robert E. Lee, and Ms. Townsend writes: "he (Mahone) was placed in command of a Division, which led until the surrender at Appomattox.

I have been to Petersburg and think I re member seeing a plaque marking the spot. Would like to go back and relive the experience now that I have read the story.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The House in which Jeff Davis Lived

There is always something going on at the First White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery. Currently, in addition to something like six tours of school children daily, we are very excited that the flat roof on the back of the First White House has been taken off and a new one in the process of being installed. This roof is directly over the President's Study, so the furniture has been moved to the back of the room as a precaution, plus the chandelier and big mirror taken down temporarily, just in case plaster begins to fall during the work.

As soon as the outside roof project is complete and passes inspection, they will begin repairing the inside ceiling in the Study. This has been on the drawing board for some time and will be a big improvement as well. We are extremely grateful to Mr. Wayne Hoyt, Mr. Ken Bishop and Mr. Sean Cassidy, with the State of Alabama, for bringing this about.

After all, as my predecessor, Mrs. Cameron Freeman Napier use to say, "an old house is never finished". This grand old house is about 182 years old, but in great condition and has never looked better, again, thanks to the State of Alabama. How fortunate we are to have them taking care of it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Jefferson Davis Birthday Celebration Coming Up

 June 3rd  will be the 206th birthday commemoration of Confederate President Jefferson Davis' birth, and we will celebrate it as usual at the First White House with a brief speech by Tyrone Crowley of Prattville, Alabama at 11:00. Birthday cake will be served as usual following the event.

Mr. Crowley is a member of the Prattville Dragoons Camp, Sons of the Confederate Veterans. I know we will be in for a treat as he played the part of Jefferson Davis in the re-enactment of the Inauguration of Davis, on February 19, 2009 commemorating the February 18, 1861 swearing in of the first and only President of the Confederate States of America.

The public is invited and we hope many of you will attend. For more information call the First White House at 334-242-1861.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Civil War to Civil Rights, Boost to Montgomery

 Montgomery, Alabama has been named the Best Historic City in the United States according to an online poll by travel website 10Best sponsored by USA Today, and reported Thursday, May 1, 2014, in the Montgomery Advertiser.

The Advertiser reported "The city beat out 19 other cities, including heavy historical hitters Boston, Philadelphia and New Orleans after 28 days of voting". I think all knowledgeable history buffs will agree, as the article points out that Montgomery was in on the beginning of two of the most important events in American history, the Civil War (better known by us as the War Between the States, or simply "the Wah", and the Civil Rights movement, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.

 City historian Mary Ann Neeley was quoted as saying "The order to fire the shot that started the Civil War was sent from Montgomery, and nearly 100 years later Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat (on the bus), triggering the world-changing Montgomery Bus Boycott".

Meg Lewis, Director of tourism and special projects for the Chamber of Commerce said the conflict the city has seen is one of the reasons people are drawn to it. "People want to see where this city is now and what can be learned from the lessons we have learned...when they visit...they understand it is possible to move forward in a positive way."