Sunday, January 21, 2018

Lee-Jackson memorialized with inspiring talks

Shane Kastler, author of Nathan Beford Forrest's Redemption, gave an inspiring talk
about "The Ongoing Persecution of Lee and Jackson," at the annual Lee-Jackson
Banquet of Capt. James. W. Bryan Camp 1390, Sons of Confederate Veterans, at
Pat's of Henderson Restaurant, Jan. 20, 2008. (Photo by Mike Jones) 
      LAKE CHARLES, La. -- Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390, Sons of Confederate Veterans, memorialized the great Southern heroes, generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson with inspiring talks at its annual Lee-Jackson Banquet Saturday, Jan. 20, 2008 at Pat's of Henderson Restaurant. Shane Kastler, author of Nathan Bedford Forrest's Redemption (Pelican Publishing, 2010), gave the keynote address. Tommy Curtis paid tribute to General Lee and the Rev. Ben Lyons to General Jackson.
      Kastler's topic was "The Ongoing Persecution of Lee and Jackson" in the current widespread witch hunt against everything Confederate. He said his book, which highlights Forrest's transformation to a sincere and devout Christian later in life, was both praised in a resolution by the Tennessee State Legislature, and criticized by the New York Times. In his talk, he also detailed the devout Christianity of both Lee and Jackson and how unjust it is for politicians and people with a modern political agenda to be demonizing two very honorable Christian gentleman. In response to critics who don't understand why some Southerners defend their Confederate ancestors, Kastler noted it is all about family. He said most people would stand up for their family members, be they a father, grandfather or great-grandfather, who are being unjustly defamed by those with a political agenda that includes attacking past heroes of American history.
      While the current situation may seem bleak, he said he has hope because both individuals and organizations, such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans, are staunchly defending Confederate monuments and heroes such as Lee and Jackson. Kastler said he was surprised and pleased by President Trump defending Lee, Jackson, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who are being attacked by those wanting the change deny true American history.
      Curtis spoke in tribute of Lee, noting that he was one of the most honorable and decent men in American History, who should be praised and honored, not demonized. He encouraged the group to keep sincerely, and with knowledge of their subject, defending their Confederate history and heritage. He ended his talk with a number of inspiring quotes by Lee. Rev. Lyons reviewed the life of General Jackson, who had a difficult childhood and was an orphan at seven. By dedication  and hard work, he overcame his difficulties and became a graduate of West Point, a Mexican-American War hero, and a successful professor at the Virginia Military Institute. His military genius came out in the War for Southern Independence, but he personally maintained his humility and devout Christian values until his death May 10, 1863 from a mortal wound at the Battle of Chancellorsville.
     Other members of the SCV camp then paid tribute to their individual Confederate ancestors. Camp Adjutant Luke Dartez made a bereavement presentation of a Confederate memorial flag and certificate to the survivors of the late Nathan Curtis, a long time camp member who died in November. Survivors there included son and daughter, Tommy Curtis and Phyllis Curtis, and his widow, Mrs. Nathan Curtis. Officers for 2008 were also installed. Michael Wayne Clanton, the outgoing camp commander, and Charles Richardson, the incoming commander, presided over the meeting.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


      Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390’s annual Lee-Jackson Banquet 2018 will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, with our social at Pat’s of Henderson Restaurant, 1500 Siebarth Drive, Lake Charles, La. The program will get underway at 7 p.m. Our keynote speaker will be Shane Kastler, author of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption (Pelican Publishing, 2010) and pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Lake Charles. His timely topic will be on “The Ongoing Persecution of Lee & Jackson.” He will talk on the current attacks on Confederates, what the goal of such attacks are, the danger of erasing history, as well as encouraging developments.
      Compatriot Kastler is a native of Oklahoma and a graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M. Div.) and Northeastern State University (B.B.A.). He writes a weekly column for the Linn County News (KS) and has appeared on the Church & State Program on KELB (100.5 FM) in Lake Charles. He is a member of Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390 in Lake Charles. He and his wife Erin have three children.
      The cost of the banquet meal will be the same as last year, $30, which includes the appetizer, entrée, dessert and iced tea and gratuity. Cocktails are not part of the price. Here is the menu:

Appetizer: Bitesize
Catfish/Popcorn Shrimp
Main Entrée: (Select One)
Fried Shrimp
Crawfish Fettuccine
Stuffed Red Snapper
10 oz. Ribeye Steak (cooked medium)
Seafood Platter (fried Shrimp, Oysters, Catfish, Stuffed Shrimp, Stuffed Crab & Frong Leg)
Dessert: (Select One)
Pecan Pie
Cheese Cake (topped with blueberries or strawberries)

    The above menu is served with a baked potato, dinner salad, dinner rolls & soft drink or iced tea.

     Please make your remittance by check payable to SCV Camp 1390. Mail the check to Luke Dartez, 908 Henning Road, Sulphur, La. 70665-7673, by Jan. 16 so he can give the restaurant a notice of how many to expect. We are not set up to take debit or credit cards. Again, the price is all inclusive of meal, drink and gratuity.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Confederate Image Identified


        A descendant, Dan McCollum, saw a copy of this photo of Private John M. Sellers of Company G, 16th Louisiana Infantry in the June issue of Calcasieu Greys, which was then unidentified,  and contacted Archie M. Toombs, commander of Capt. J. W. Bryan Camp, and identified it as being his relative. Another descendant, Robert Albanese, a great-great-grandson, provided the excellent quality copy seen at left.
            According to Mr. McCollum, Sellers is listed in the Soldiers and Sailors of the Confederacy of the National Park Service system, as a member of the 16th. Mr. McCollum said Sellers was living in north Alabama, where his family comes from, when the war started. He left Alabama and went back to Louisiana where he had been living and enlisted. After the war he returned to Alabama and died there June 8, 1895 in Blount, Alabama.
          According to Sellers military  service record, he was present for  the Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862, and was wounded in action at the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee on December 31, 1862.
           Sellers was absent in the  hospital recovering from his wound and he returned to duty in July, 1863. He was then present for the Battle of Chickamauga, September 19-20, 1863 where nearly one-third of the regiment was captured. Sellers then fought at the Battle of Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863. He was then absent in the hospital from January 6, 1864 until May 1, 1864 when he  returned to duty.
          Sellers was then present  for the Atlanta Campaign and fought at Mill Creek Gap, May 7; Resaca, May 14-15; and New Hope Church, May 25-28.  He was also present when his regiment participated in the  battles of Atlanta, July 22, Ezra Church, July 28; and  Jonesboro, August 31. The 16th helped capture Florence, Alabama on October 30, 1864 and  Sellers was in the Battle of Nashville, December 15-16, 1864.
          The regiment was then stationed as part of the garrison of Mobile, Alabama in February, 1865. Sellers was present for duty on the last roll of the war from April 20-30, 1865. John M. Sellers  was truly a faithful soldier and a Southern hero.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Beauregard battle flag

Beauregard's personal Confederate battle flag in the Louisiana State Museum
(Photo by Mike Jones)

[From the Lake Charles American Press, Dec. 27, 1992, page 5.]
Museum's Civil War battle flag was prototype
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Civil War expert! believe a Confederate battle flag stored for years at the Louisiana State Museum in the French Quarter is one of the first three or four such flags made for the man who designed the banner.
Ken Legendre, a Gretna letter carrier and Civil War buff made the discovery earlier this month when he visited the museum's flag collection at the historic Jackson Square building known as the Presbytere.
Museum personnel didn't know the significance of the flag but Legendre recognized it as one of the first flags made for Gen. P.G.T Beauregard. The museum piece isn't for sale but Legendre believes it could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The battle flag is perhaps the symbol most identified with the confederacy.
It was designed after Confederate officers found that it was difficult to tell the South's flag — three broad bands of red and white with a circle of white stars on a blue field — was difficult to tell from the Union's stars and stripes.
In 1861, Beauregard was in command o the Army of the Potomac. He decided or what became know as the "Southern Cross" a blue diagonal cross on a red field with stars on the blue bars representing the Southern states.
Some accounts say the very first battle flag was made under Beauregard's director by two Richmond women and later was possessed by the 5th Company of the Washington Artillery, an elite New Orleans unit.
But the prototypes that became most famous, and that were soon honored throughout the Confederacy as the first three battle flags, were made by Constance Cary Harrison of Richmond, Va., and her cousins Hetty and Jennie Cary.
Each made a silk flag for a top general: Beauregard, Joseph E. Johnston and Earl Van Dorn.
Beauregard sent his flag to his wife in New Orleans. When Union forces occupied the city in 1862, she sent it by foreign ship to Havana. Beauregard reclaimed it after the war and in 1883 donated it to the Washington Artillery.
It reportedly stood above the general's coffin when he died in 1893, and four year earlier it may have covered Confederate President Jefferson Davis' coffin at his funeral in New Orleans.
The flag's fate thereafter is unclear. But in " 1941, according to museum records, the Washington Artillery gave it to the museum. Whether museum personnel ever realized its significance isn't known. If so, the flag's history was forgotten over time.
"I had heard of this flag for many years, but as far as I knew it was missing. To all of a sudden gaze upon it was quite a treat,'"
Legendre said. Legendre's identification of the flag has since been seconded by Keith and Glen Cangelosi, experts with Confederate Memorial Hall in New Orleans.
State Museum Director James Sefcik said the museum will seek money to conserve the fragile flag. The cost is expected to be several thousand dollars. The other two Cary flags can be seen at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Robert E. Lee's Letter Dec. 25, 1862

Camp Fredg 25 Decr ’62 

     I will Commence this Holy day dearest Mary by writing to you. My heart is filled with gratitude to Almighty God for his unspeakable mercies with which he has blessed us in this day, for those he has granted us from the beginning of life, & particularly for those for those he has vouchsafed us during the past year. What should have become of us without his crowning help & protection? I have seen his hand in all the events of the war. Oh if our people would only recognize it & cease from their vain self boasting & adulation, how strong would be my belief in final success & happiness to our Country. For in him alone I know is our trust & safety. Cut off from all Communications with you & my children, my greatest pleasure is to write to you & them. Yet I have no time to indulge in it. You must tell them so, & say that I Constantly think of them & love them fervently with all my heart. They must write
Gen. Robert E. Lee
to me without waiting for replies. I shall endeavour to write to Mildred from whom I have not heard for a long time. Tell dear Charlotte I have recd her letter & feel greatly for her. I saw her Fitzhugh this morg, with his young aid, riding at the head of his brigade on his way up the Rappk. I regret so he could not get to see her. He only got her letter I enclosed him last evg. She ought not to have married a young soldier, but an old “exempt” like her Papa who would have loved her as much as he does. F[itzhugh] & R[obert] were very well. But what a cruel thing is war. To separate & separate & destroy families & friends & mar the purest joys & happiness God has granted us in this world. To fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our nieghbours & to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world. I pray that on this day when “peace & good will” are preached to all mankind, that better thoughts will fill the hearts of our enemies & turn them to peace. The Confusion that now exists in their Counsels will thus result in good. Our Army was never in such good health & Condition since I have been attached to it & I believe they share with me my disappt, that the enemy did not renew the combat of the 13th. I was holding back all that day, & husbanding our strength & ammunition for the great struggle for which I thought he was preparing. Had I devined that was to have been his only effort, he would have had more of it. But I am content. We might have gained more but we would have lost more, & perhaps our relative condition would not have been improved. My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men. Give much love to every one. Kiss Chass & Agnes for me, & believe me with true affection. 

R E Lee

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Spaight's Battalion, Confederate Defenders of Texas and Louisiana

     One of the military units directly defending Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana in the War Between the States is highlighted in a new book, Swamp Angels: A History of the 11th Battalion (Spaight's) Texas Volunteers by Michael Dan Jones.
     The book covers the wide sweep the battalion's history, which spent all of its time in Southeast Texas and South Louisiana, guarding the coast and fighting in several battles, including both battles at Sabine Pass (Company B only) and the Battle of Calcasieu Pass.
     The volunteers were raised in both East Texas and Southwest Louisiana, including a number of prominent men from both regions.
     The commander was Colonel Ashley Wood Spaight of Liberty Texas and second in command was Major Josephus S. Irvine, who was a veteran of the Texas Revolution and the Battle of San Jacinto.
     Most of the enlisted men were farmers from throughout the region. Company E, commanded Captain George W. O'Bryan, was the specific unit that helped build the fortification at Niblett's Bluff, and lost a number of men there in a measles epidemic.
     Company B was stationed at Sabine Pass throughout the war, manning heavy artillery pieces. Also guarded by the battalion were Houston, Galveston, Beaumont, and Orange in Texas; and Burr's Ferry, Niblett's Bluff, Calcasieu Pass, and Lake Charles in Louisiana.
     The battalion was a mixed arms battalion, meaning it had three infantry companies, two cavalry companies and a heavy artillery company.
     Elements of the battalion took part in the First and Second battles of Sabine Pass, a sea battle off Sabine Pass in the Gulf of Mexico, the Battle of Fordoche Bayou, the Battle of Bayou Bourbeau, the Battle of Calcasieu Pass and a number of skirmishes with the federal blockade ships and landing parties along the coasts of Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana.
     The history was complied from letters and diaries of the soldiers, official records of the Union and Confederate armies and contemporary newspaper stories. There are also a number of photographs of soldiers who served in the unit. It also has an annotated roster of over 1,000 men who served in the battalion.
    The book is published by of Charleston, S.C. and has 352 pages, photographs, maps, bibliography, and index ($18.00, trade paperback). It is also available at, Books A Million, Boarders and other online booksellers.

Thursday, May 4, 2017


This ambrotype of two Confederate soldiers is
representative of the types of pictures volunteer
soldiers had made. The volunteer at left is wearing
an unusual Phrygian style cap over his tricornered hat.
(Photo courtesy Grensboro Hisotical Museum)

[Originally run in Lake Charles American Press, May 11, 1992]

Volume features photographs of individual Southern soldiers

"Still More Confederate Faces" by D. A. Serrano; Metropolitan Co., 16-66 Bell Blvd.; Bayside, N.Y. 11360; 223 pages; 465 photographs.
Photography was still new when the War Between the States started in 1861 and volunteer soldiers from across the nation proudly posed for portraits to leave as keepsakes for families. Today, while thousands of these early photographs still exist, Confederate images arc much rarer than Union ones, both because there were fewer photographers in the South and also because there were twice as many Yankee soldiers.
Following in the tradition of three previous "Confederate Faces," albums by different authors, D.A. Serrano has compiled 465 portrait photographs of individual Southern soldiers.
These previous volumes arc all are out of print and have become much sought after collector's items.
In the introduction of the book is a brief history of photography in that period. The three main types of photographs made then were ambrotypes, which are images fixed directly on a glass plate; tintypes, images or japanned iron plates and paper prints in small "cartes de visite" (calling card) size or larger albumen size, both of which were made from a glass plate negative.                                                                                                                                                     The ambrotypes offered the finest detail and clarity, which often exceeds anything modern photography can offer. Some were elaborately hand colored. The author said the goal of the volume to simply to preserve for the historical record the images of individual Southern soldiers. However, the pictures are also excellent first-hand sources for a view of the wide variety of uniforms and weapons used by Confederate soldiers, although some of the guns and knives may be photographer's props. Soldiers from all of the Confederatc states, including Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi are included in the album.
The pictures come from historical repositories from around the nation and from many private collections, some published for the first time. Most are also identified by name and regiment.
Anyone interested in the War for Southern Independence should find this pictorial-history a delight.