Friday, August 22, 2014

150-Years-Ago -- SIEGE OF PETERSBURG, VA

Richmond Times-Dispatch
22 Aug. 1864

The fight at Petersburg.

The Petersburg Express contains an account of the fight near that city on Friday. It appears that on Thursday our forces, after attacking the Yankees on the Weldon road and driving them one mile, ceased the pursuit, and fell back to a point nearer the city, leaving only a skirmish line in front of the enemy, which was also soon after withdrawn. The Express says:
The enemy did not discover our disappearance from their front until yesterday morning, when they immediately threw forward their lines of skirmishers and advanced their left to the battle-field of Thursday, in Davis's corn-field, throwing up, as they advanced, two lines of breastworks. Their right was extended in an oblique direction to the northeast of the railroad, and batteries were placed at favorable points along the whole line.
Gen. A.P. Hill
(Confederate Veteran Magazine)
This occupation of one of our main lines of communication with the South was, of course, not to be permitted without an effort to dislodge the enemy. Accordingly, all arrangements having been completed, General A. P. Hill, commanding Mahone's and Heth's divisions, attacked them between the hours of 3 and 4 o'clock. General Mahone commanded the troops to the left of the railroad, and General Heth those to the right. The attack was opened by Mahone, and was speedily responded to by Heth on the right, and the battle raged furiously.
On the right, General Heth, with the gallant brigades of his divisions — Davis's, Walker's and Archer's — struck the enemy's picket line in the cornfield a short distance beyond Davis's residence.--These were quickly forced back upon the first line of breastworks, held by a formidable force. With a cheer, the Confederate troops bounded forward and swept over all obstruction, pressing the Yankees back with severe loss into their second line; and charging onward, forced them thence with an equal lack of ceremony. Beaten from their works, and defeated in their every effort to retain them, the Yankees retreated to their main line of entrenchments, into which they had been driven on the previous evening. This line having been greatly strengthened, proved too strong to be stormed, and our troops were checked in the face of the slaughter which threatened a further advance.
           In the meantime, General Mahone, with Clingman's, Colquitt's, and his own former brigade, had struck the right of the Yankee lines and captured eight hundred prisoners. Pressing forward with his usual energy, he drove the enemy before him, successfully charging them wherever they made a stand.
Finding them strongly entrenched, however, in the thick woods opposite Davis's farm, it was determined to dislodge them by a flank movement. Clingman's and Mahone's old brigade engaged them in front, while, by a circuitous route, Colquitt's (Georgia) brigade was thrown on their flank. The movement proved a brilliant success, and caused scarcely any loss to our troops.
Colquitt's men were upon the Yankees almost before they were aware of such close proximity of the rebels, and surrender or fighting under fearful disadvantage was the alternative. Crawford's crack division, of Warren's (Fifth) corps, here fell a helpless victim to rebel strategy, and the greater part of two brigades — numbering over two thousand men--threw down their arms and surrendered. The prisoners were quickly placed under guard and sent to the rear, where they were formed into line and marched to General Hill's headquarters.
The battle still progressed successfully until the enemy was driven back to the position from which he advanced in the morning. At dark, our lines were close up to his works, and occasional volleys of musketry showed still farther fighting.
Among the prisoners taken is Brigadier-General Hays, of Massachusetts, several colonels, and other field officers of less grade. General Hayes was brought into town last night.
            During the engagement we left a number of men taken prisoners, but we understand they were afterwards recaptured. The success which followed the attack threw our men into the best spirits, and every soldier wore a smile of satisfaction upon his countenance.
The result of the attack is highly satisfactory to the officers in command, and is viewed in the most favorable light. The enemy has been materially weakened by the loss of three thousand of his best troops taken prisoners and several thousand killed and wounded. He is demoralized by his defeat, and though he may fight hard yet to hold the position he has gained, his prestige is gone, and he will not offer the front he has shown during the last few days.
The weather was rainy during the day, and especially so during the afternoon. The fighting was done amidst a series of heavy showers, which not only incommoded our men, but rendered the ground heavy and slippery. Most of the fighting on our left was done in a dense growth of underbrush and woods.
We can form no estimate of the Yankee loss other than the statement of officers that it was very heavy, Many of their dead and wounded fell into our hands. Nor are we able to form an idea of our own loss, as up to night but few of the wounded had been brought from the field. The great majority of those we saw were slightly wounded. We shall learn further particulars of the casualties and of the battle to-day. We regret to state, however, that General Clingman was painfully, though not seriously, wounded.
The battle for the possession of the railroad will probably be resumed this morning, and it is believed the enemy will not only be dislodged, but disastrously defeated. This expedition will turn out, in the end, to be the greatest disaster that has yet happened to Grant in this department.
Reports from the battle-field, late last evening, represent our forces between the enemy and the main army in front of Petersburg. If so, something interesting may occur to-day.
It is also stated that several hundred more prisoners have been taken, thus running the number above three thousand.

As the enemy still hold the railroad, it is impossible to state what damage has been done the track. It is believed, that instead of sending a body of raiders across towards the south side, the enemy's cavalry are operating on the Weldon road in the rear of the army.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

150-years-ago -- THE BATTLE OF MOBILE BAY, ALABAMA





            LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana -- An important artifact from the Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama, which occurred August 5, 1864, is on display at  the Imperial Calcasieu Museum in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Admiral Franklin Buchanan
            The flag, a small boat  size flag, was rescued by a Confederate sailor off the C.S.S. Tennessee as the ironclad surrendered to the enemy fleet. The story of how it got to the Lake Charles museum is a dramatic sidelight to the famous battle.
             The battle began at 5:30 o'clock A.M. on the morning of the 5th of August when the U.S. Navy fleet of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut steamed into Mobile Bay. He had 16 warships, including four ironclad monitors, under his command. The objective was to silence the two Confederate forts at the entrance, Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines, and the Confederate fleet inside the bay, under the command of Admiral Franklin Buchanan.
             Buchanan's flagship was the Tennessee, which was under the immediate command of Lieutenant James D. Johnston. Other ships in the small Confederate fleet were the Morgan, Gaines and Selma. Also a heavy line of "torpedoes," which would later be called undersea mines, were strung across the entrance of the bay.
             On that morning 150-years-ago, the Federal warships lined up in formation outside the bay and immediately ran into serious trouble. The USS Tecumseh, a single turret ironclad with two 15-inch heavy naval guns, was the first to chance entrance and sank within minutes after hitting one of the torpedoes. Perishing in the explosion were 93 men out of a crew of 114. In the best tradition of the sea, Captain Tunis A.M. Craven went down with his ship after giving up his chance to escape to another crew member.
             The rest of the Federal fleet, which was also receiving a terrific pounding from the guns in the forts, faltered. This is when Admiral Farragut shouted his famous phrase, the full quote of which is, "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead, Drayton! Hard a-starboard! Ring four bells! Sixteen bells!"
              Added into the the drama was Farragut's position on his flagship, the USS Hartford. He had himself lashed far above the deck on the Hartford's port main rigging so he could get a better view of the battle above the smoke of the cannons. The 63-year-old admiral was utterly fearless and was a veteran of 54 years of uninterupted naval service at the time of the Battle of Mobile Bay.
             But an equally experienced, courageous and aggressive opponent to Farragut was in the person of Franklin Buchanan was on the Tennessee. Buchanan served in the U.S. Navy from 1814 until 1861 when he resigned to join the Confederate Navy. Although a strong Unionist, he was said to have been repelled by the coercive policy of the Lincoln administration. Hopelessly outnumbered, the audacious Buchanan nevertheless personally led his small Confederate fleet out to do battle with the Federals.
             The Tennessee was a formidable  warship for her time. She was constructed at the iron foundary in Selma, Alabama and was the most powerful casemated ironclad in the Confederate Navy. The Tennessee was 209 feet long from stem to stern, 48 feet abeam and drew 14 feet of water. Her sloping, 3-inch-thick iron plated  sides could resist the heaviest fire that could be directed against her.  The ship's battery included four 5.4 inch guns in broadside and 7-inch Brooke rifles on pivot mounts on each end of the casemate. She also had an iron ram designed to fatally impale  enemy warships.
             Using the tactics of a maddened bull, Buchanan had the captain of the Tennessee steer directly for the Federal flagship Hartford. Salvoes from the massive naval guns erupted and the wooden Confederate gunboat Gaines was quickly sent to the bottom of the bay and the Morgan was badly damaged and had to withdraw. The Selma, also a wooden gunboat, fearlessly took up position in font of the Hartford and darted back and forth raking the Federal flagship with deadly missiles. Farragut ordered the USS Metacomet, a wooden vessel, to chase the Selma up the bay where she captured Confederate ship after a sharp engagement.
              But contending with the Tennessee was a much more serious challenge to the Federal fleet. Farragut called it "one of the fiercest naval battles on record." While the Tennessee was blazing away with all her guns, the USS Chickasaw and other Federal ironclads pounded her with 11-inch guns while the wooden warship rammed her.
              After three hours of such punishment, Admiral Buchanan lay wounded in the leg., the Tennessee's steering chains were shot away, her smokestack had collapsed, all her gunports were jammed shut and she was unable to make steam or maneuver. Now a completely helpless hulk, the proud Southern ironclad surrendered. The Confederate fleet had lost 12 men killed, 20 wounded and 280 captured. The Federals lost 145 bluejackets killed and 174 wounded.
             At the moment of surrender a young Confederate sailor, Michael Kennedy, emerged from the Tennessee. He hauled down the ship's flag, tied it around his waist and dove into the water. He swam to shore thus saving himself and the flag from the humiliation of capture.
             Kennedy later gave the flag to his foster sister, Florence Newberry Wimberly, who gave it to her son, E.L. Wimberly. Wimberly eventually gave the flag to the late Miss Marie Ryan, who was a charter member of Robert E. Lee Chapter 305, United Daughters of the Confederacy, in Lake Charles. Ryan donated the flag to the Imperial Calcasieu Museum in Lake Charles, where it is on public display.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS ACCUSE UNIVERSITY OF "NARROW MINDED PREJUDICE"

Gen. Robert E. Lee's last visit to Stonewall Jackson's gravein Lexington, Va. Both men were of the highest personal honor.
 (Library of Congress)
[SCV PRESS RELEASE]

"The New Bigots"
A recent event at Washington and Lee University has underscored the growing phenomenon of "South-bashing" in the media and in academia. At the behest of several young law students, that school's President made a decision to remove two St. Andrews Cross battle flags from the Lee Chapel on the campus. Lee Chapel is the burial place of Robert E. Lee, who led the Army of Northern Virginia. General Lee became President of what was then Washington College after the War Between the States and is generally credited with saving the school. The Chapel is a beloved and honored place to the more than 65 million Americans who are descended from those who fought for the South in that conflict. 
The law students, who call themselves "The Committee", delivered an ultimatum to President Kenneth Ruscio threatening civil disobedience unless certain demands were met. One of those demands was the removal of Confederate symbols from the Chapel, saying that the Christian Cross flags made them feel "unwelcome". On July 8th, Ruscio announced that the flags would be removed from the Lee Chapel. We cannot fathom why anyone would attend a school named after Robert E. Lee and then say they were offended by the St. Andrews Cross flag. Nor we cannot fathom how anyone could take them seriously and cave in to their threats. But in the current climate of 'South bashing', such a radical act as this seems to be accepted as some sort of litmus test for the "politically correct police".
It appears that those who have a very simplistic view of American history have decided that the 150th anniversary of The Civil War is the right time to demonize the Southern culture, to intensify their vilification of Confederate heritage, and to continue to act as if their actions are some sort of moral crusade.
We who are of Confederate heritage honor our ancestors for their sacrifice, their perseverance and their astonishing courage against overwhelming odds. These men were our family, our kinfolks, and their blood runs in our veins. But the new bigots of political correctness are exhibiting the same kind of narrow minded prejudice and knee-jerk bias that has always been the enemy of brotherhood and understanding.
This latest example is the breaking point for us. Our patience with this new McCarthyism is exhausted. These mean spirited attacks upon us come from the same sad place as do all racial, religious, and regional prejudices. They are rooted in an ignorance combined with a sense of superiority. 
Over 50 years ago, that courageous Southerner Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "I have a dream that someday on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to dine together at the table of brotherhood." And that has happened. We have done that for decades now in the South, in great part because Dr. King did not qualify that dream or put asterisks on it. He did not say that we would dine together in brotherhood only if we dishonored our ancestors or if our family could routinely be called bigots, traitors, and racists. He was a far better and wiser man than that. He meant that we would dine together by accepting our past as it is and that we would understand each other by our shared culture of work and weather and food and music and memory. That way we could strive together to heal the wounds of the past and thus build a proud and loving South, where folks are judged only by the content of their characters.
Slavery was not the sin of the South, but of the Nation. Chattel slavery existed throughout every colony and state for almost two centuries. Slavery was funded mainly by the Northern banks. The greatest profits went to the North. The North built the slave ships and manned them. The cotton also went North, to the vast textile mills in New England. The North's complicity in prolonging and profiting from slavery is one of the best kept secrets of American history. The work of the slaves helped to build America, both North and South. And yet the South has long been the scapegoat of these attacks from academia and the media.
The South is the fastest growing economic region in our nation. African-Americans are returning to the South in record numbers, finding a more traditional way of life here and according to many, better race relations. 
It is long past the time for the new bigots of political correctness to get over their condescending sanctimony and to enter into the real world of brotherhood and fellowship. And it is time they understand that insulting our heritage is not the way to build bridges of progress.

Ben Jones
Chief of Heritage Operations
Sons of Confederate Veterans

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lexington SCV Rally a Success!

     
The Sons of Confederate Veterans  held a successful rally Saturday, July 26, in Hopkins Green Park and Holiday Inn in Lexington, Virginia,  in protest over Washington and Lee University's removal of Confederate battle flags from the Lee Memorial  Chapel, where General Robert E. Lee and  his family are entombed.
      Stonewall Brigade Camp 1296, Sons of Confederate Veterans, reported that over 400 people  attended the three-hour event over the three hour period it lasted.
      Washington and Lee University has admitted university police required four people to remove Confederate flags, or apparel with the forbidden flag's image, before they were allowed on campus to visit the Lee Memorial Chapel, during the July 26 rally in Lexington, according to Virginia Flaggers. A 15-year-old member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans reportedly had to remove his shirt, which showed the SCV logo, and turn it inside out, remove his cap and a name badge, which also showed the forbidden Confederate banner.
       The university had at first denied the incident took place but then had to admit it was true.
        "We never ONCE doubted the honesty or integrity of this young man! SHAME ON Washington & Lee for trying to cover up their misconduct, and for impugning the character of a 15 year old boy! HE told the truth.  THEY did not.  Is it any wonder such men have no regard for the honor and integrity of Robert E. Lee?", Virginia Flaggers said in their story.
      The Stonewall Brigade Camp has reportedly demanded an apology from the university president for the incident. 
     

Friday, July 25, 2014

SCV RALLY IN DEFENSE OF GENERAL LEE SET

General Robert E. Lee
(Library of Congress)
[Sons of Confederate Veterans Press Release]
On Saturday, July 26th, there will be a rally in Lexington Virginia at 12 noon in protest of the decision by Washington and Lee University to tamper with the grave site of General Robert E. Lee. The rally will be held at Hopkins Green, which is at the intersection of Jefferson and Nelson Streets in downtown Lexington.

It has become even more important that every compatriot who can possibly attend this rally do so. A press release from Washington and Lee has basically accused the SCV of being potential thugs and vandals. W&L has closed the Lee Chapel from Friday afternoon through Sunday July 27th. According to the University, "This unscheduled closing is based on concerns for the safety of the facility and its staff on the day that the Sons of Confederate Veterans have scheduled a rally in Lexington. We must take this unfortunate precaution because of the inflammatory and threatening letters, emails and phone calls the University has received in response to the removal of reproduction battle flags from the statue chamber in Lee Chapel..."

In other words, they are suggesting that SCV members would desecrate the Lee Chapel or injure its staffers because of the disingenuous actions of President Ruscio. No group honors the Lee Chapel and wishes it to be protected more than the Sons of Confederate Veterans. This closure is a gratuitous insult to one of America's finest and oldest heritage groups. 

It is imperative that our members attend the rally if possible, and it is important that we gather as Southern gentlemen in the manner of General Lee himself and with the dignity that his memory deserves. We must show the University that the continuing attempt to demonize the tens of millions of descendants of the Confederacy should stop and be replaced with genuine understanding and communication. 

Ben Jones
Chief of Heritage Operations

Monday, July 21, 2014

150-years-ago -- THE BATTLE OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama, Atlanta, Georgia
(Library of Congress)

[National Park Service summary]

Following the Battle of Peachtree Creek, Confederate Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood determined to attack Federal Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee. He withdrew his main army at night from Atlanta’ s outer line to the inner line, enticing Sherman to follow. In the meantime, he sent Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee with his corps on a fifteen-mile march to hit the unprotected Union left and rear, east of the city. Wheeler’s cavalry was to operate farther out on Sherman’s supply line, and Gen. Frank Cheatham’s corps were to attack the Union front. Hood, however, miscalculated the time necessary to make the march, and Hardee was unable to attack until afternoon. Although Hood had outmaneuvered Sherman for the time being, McPherson was concerned about his left flank and sent his reserves— Maj. Gen. Grenville Dodge’s XVI Army Corps—to that location. Two of Hood’s divisions ran into this reserve force and were repulsed. The Rebel attack stalled on the Union rear but began to roll up the left flank. Around the same time, a Confederate soldier shot and killed McPherson when he rode out to observe the fighting. Determined attacks continued, but the Union forces held. About 4:00 pm, Cheatham’s corps broke through the Union front at the Hurt House, but Sherman massed twenty artillery pieces on a knoll near his headquarters to shell these Confederates and halt their drive. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan’ s XV Army Corps then led a counterattack that restored the Union line. The Union troops held, and Hood suffered high casualties.

Estimated Casualties: 12,140 total (US 3,641; CS 8,499)
CONFEDERATE TROOPS OVERRUN A UNION BATTERY DURING 
THE BATTLE OF ATLANTA. (FROM MOUNTAIN CAMPAIGNS IN GEORGIA)


National Park Service map



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Desecration of Robert E. Lee's Grave and Memorial Rally and Forum in Lexington, Virginia Saturday July 26th.


Recently Washington & Lee University President Ken Ruscio announced the university would remove the eight regimental Confederate Battleflags surrounding the famed recumbent statue of Robert E. Lee in Lee Chapel. The statue chamber and the Lee family crypt were built onto Lee Chapel as the site chosen for the Robert E. Lee Memorial using private donations raised for the purpose. As such the university accepted the responsibility to ensure that Lee's burial place would be given the proper respect it deserves and it did so for well over one hundred years.


Recumbent Statue of Robert E. Lee in Lee Memorial Chapel
at Washington & Lee University. The flags were recently
removed by the university.
(Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive,
 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
)
Sadly, the once proud Southern school has become infiltrated more and more with radical ideology and the academics running the school no longer share the same values as Robert E. Lee. Instead many overtly and openly proclaim disdain for him. When Lee's character was recently attacked, the school offered no response and instead has caved to the demands of a small group of student's who want Lee and everything he stood for repudiated.

For now they have won their fight to remove these flags, but they or others like them will continue their crusade with revolutionary fever to destroy Lee's image in its entirety. The current president, the successor to Robert E. Lee, has now become the nations most notorious grave robber. These radical students undoubtedly dream of the day that sledge hammers will be taken to Lee's recumbent statue just as the mob in Iraq recently did to the grave of the famed Prophet Jonah.

How should decent people react to the cowardly violation of the memorial for an American Icon?   Are we so ignorant to believe that people cannot understand why Confederate flags would be at a deceased general's or veteran's grave? Why has this happened and what can be done about it? The Stonewall Brigade Camp 1296 is putting together an event where these issues will be addressed.

This event will be held on July 26 at an open community meeting to be held at the Holiday Inn Express on N. Lee Highway at 4 pm that day featuring Dr. Marshall DeRosa, Professor of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University. He will present "The Heroical Robert E. Lee: Under Attack by the Useful Idiots of the Ruling Class."  Following Dr. DeRosa's presentation attendees will be invited to express their concerns and to offer ideas and solutions to the matter.

In addition we will hold a Flag Vigil against this cowardly act in downtown Lexington throughout the day and are working to secure a sight near Lee Chapel to hold a rally beginning at Noon. We encourage anyone concerned about this issue to attend and bring your flags and signs in hand to protest what we consider no less than grave robbery as defined under law by the current president of Washington & Lee.

We ask that everyone remember that although we have the right to be angry at this situation, everyone should conduct themselves in a manner that would not further embarrass the memory of Robert E. Lee. We do not need to stoop down to the level of those who started this travesty. The city sidewalks will be accessible to us, but expect W&L security to remove or arrest anyone entering the campus with a sign or flag.

What else can you do? Write, call, and email the university using the contact information listed below. Secondly, if you know any W&L alumni or donors let us know who they are so that we can encourage them to contact the school and consider withholding further support. Thirdly, attend the flag rally and forum if you can. Fourthly, consider contributing to the various heritage defense funds for this purpose.

Contact Information:

President:  Dr. Kenneth Ruscio, Washington and Lee University, 204 West Washington Street Lexington,Virginia 24450. (540) 458-8700 president@wlu.edu

Provost: Dr. Daniel Wubah Washington and Lee University, Washington Hall 214 Lexington,Virginia 24450. (540) 458-8418 dwubah@wlu.edu

BOARD OF TRUSTEES:

Secretary of the University: James D. Farrar, Jr. Washington & Lee University, 203 Washington Hall Lexington,VA 24450. (540) 458-8465 jdfarrar@wlu.edu



Executive Assistant to the Board of Trustees: Katherine Brinkley Washington & Lee University,   202 Washington Hall Lexington,VA 24450. (540) 458-8417 kbrinkley@wlu.edu