Saturday, January 30, 2010


[From Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism]      More than 500 battles, engagements and skirmishes occurred in Louisiana. As the South's largest city and major port, New Orleans was a primary target. Possession of the city was necessary for control of the Mississippi. New Orleans was also the site of large commercial, financial and industrial firms.

     In April 1862, a Union fleet under Flag Officer David G. Farragut began operations against the Crescent City.
     Two old masonry forts - Jackson and St. Philip on the Mississippi River below New Orleans - were the city's first line of defense. After a brief bombardment failed to force the forts to surrender, Farragut's vessels steamed past them early on April 24 and destroyed the small Confederate fleet that supported the forts. Confederate troops evacuated New Orleans rather than submit to a bombardment. Without firing a shot, the city surrendered to Farragut, and Union troops under Gen. Benjamin F. Butler occupied New Orleans on May 1. The Confederacy had suffered a grievous blow. Lost were the major port, iron foundries, the financial center of the South, and, eventually, the Mississippi River. New Orleans served as a Union base for subsequent operations up the "Father of Waters."
     Louisiana was open to invasion, but the Union high command directed its energies to the Mississippi River. When Baton Rouge fell to Farragut on May 7, the state capital was moved to Opelousas. After the union navy was turned back from Vicksburg in July 1862, the Confederates decided to try to retake Baton Rouge. On August 5, Confederates under General John C. Breckinridge (former U.S. vice-president and presidential candidate) attacked Union troops camped on the outskirts of town. Union troops were driven back to the levee where they were not protected by their gunboats. When the gunboat Arkansas did not arrive to drive the Union warships, Breckinridge's Confederates retreated to Port Hudson where they began erecting fortifications.
     Breckinridge's attack frightened Gen. Butler. Anxious for New Orleans's safety, Union forces evacuated Baton Rouge on August 21, and it was not reoccupied until December 17 when Butler's successor, Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, arrived. This hiatus from August until December proved pivotal, allowing the Confederates to complete their river batteries and trenches at Port Hudson.
     In October 1862, a Union force under Gen. Godfrey Weitzel conducted a destructive raid from Donaldsonville down Bayou Lafourche. On October 27, the Federals brushed aside a small Confederate army under Gen. Alfred Mouton in the Battle of Labadieville. Mouton's troops evacuated the region, falling back to the lower Bayou Teche. After occupying the area, Weitzel's men laid waste to the sugar industry along the Lafourche.
     Military activities subsided until spring of 1863. Urged by the government in Washington, D.C., to attack the stronghold at Port Hudson, Banks and Farragut finally moved against the fortification. On the night of March 14, the Confederates turned back Farragut's naval attack. Banks realized Port Hudson could be claimed only with a lengthy siege. Before attempting this task, he decided to clear south Louisiana west of the Mississippi of Confederate troops that might threaten his supply lines on that river.
     Gen. Richard Taylor's small Confederate army was entrenched at Fort Bisland on Bayou Teche. Banks moved most of his army to Brashear (now Morgan City) to attack Fort Bisland. After successfully holding their fortifications on April 12 and 13, Taylor's men were outflanked and had to retreat. On April 14, the Battle of Irish Bend allowed Taylor's army to escape capture. Banks' forces pursued the Confederates, capturing Opelousas and Alexandria and forcing the state capital to move one last time to Shreveport.
     Acting in conjunction with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's attack on Vicksburg, Mississippi, Banks turned from Alexandria to move against Port Hudson. The siege of Port Hudson ensued, lasting from May 23 to July 9, 1863, the longest siege in American military history.
     Two unsuccessful Union assaults occurred May 27 and June 14. On May 27, black troops faced Confederates in battle for the first time and performed admirably. During the protracted siege, Confederates were forced to eat mules and horse meat and even rats, on occasion. They were said to prefer mule to horse. Vicksburg fell on July 4. When Confederate Gen Franklin Gardner received this news, he surrendered to Banks. Port Hudson was the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi. Now the river was completely under Union control and the Confederacy was split in two. Valuable supplies - primarily beef and salt - from the Trans-Mississippi states were cut off from Confederate armies in the east.
     Through the fall and winter of 1863, Union forces along the Gulf of Mexico turned their attention to Texas. In Louisiana, Confederates were victorious in much of the occasional fighting. On September 29, Gen. Taylor's men surprised and routed a small union force in the Battle of Stirling Plantation. In October, the Federal campaign from Brashear to Opelousas was turned back, and on November 3, the Confederates won another victory at the Battle of Bayou Bourbeau.
     In mid-March 1864, the Red River campaign was launched to drive Taylor's army from Louisiana and plant the Union flag in the interior of Texas. Taylor's outnumbered army retreated as Gen. Banks' superior forces pursued. At Mansfield, Taylor received reinforcements. On April 8, he attacked the nearby Union army and inflicted a severe defeat. During the night, Banks retreated to Pleasant Hill. Taylor attacked again the next day, April 9. The Battle of Pleasant Hill was a draw. These were the last important battles fought on Louisiana soil. Banks retreated to Alexandria and there his accompanying fleet became trapped when the waters of the Red River fell. On May 13, the vessels were freed by Bailey's Dam. Banks continued his retreat to New Orleans by was of Simmesport and Morganza. Taylor's success in the Red River Campaign delayed Union victory in the war by several months.
     Only small skirmishes occurred in Louisiana after the Red River Campaign. As word of Robert E. Lee's surrender spread through Confederate camps in Louisiana in 1865, soldier morale fell. Demoralization continued as armies east of the Mississippi River surrendered. Men began deserting and going home. In mid-May, General Edmund Kirby Smith contacted Union Gen. Edward R.S. Canby to negotiate the surrender of the Trans-Mississippi Department. Terms were worked out and signed by Kirby Smith's subordinates on May 26, by which most of Louisiana's Confederate units had disbanded.
     Rather than surrender, Kirby Smith, Governor Henry W. Allen, numerous military and civilian leader and hundreds of soldiers went into exile in Mexico.
     In Louisiana, the war took a heavy toll, out of proportion to the extent of the fighting. Only three states suffered as much or more: Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina. Approximately one-fifth of the state's able-bodied white males and hundreds of black soldiers were killed in battle or died of disease. Thousands of whites and blacks were maimed or permanently disabled.
     The end of slavery cost Louisiana over one-third of her assessed pre-war wealth. More than half the state's 1860 livestock had been killed or confiscated. And much other the countryside was desolated, with sugar plantations hit the hardest, losing close to $100 million without including the value of the slaves.
     Overall, Louisiana emerged from the war with less than half its former wealth. In 1860, she ranked second in the nation and first in the South for per capita wealth. By 1880, she ranked 17th in the nation and last in the South. Louisiana entered the war wealthy. At its close she was ruined, devastated and poverty-stricken.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Thomas Overton Moore
Governor of Louisiana 1860-64

[Ed.Note: Exerpts From Southern Newspapers in 1860 compiled by UT Tyler]

SUGAR PLANTER [WEST BATON ROUGE, LA], January 28, 1860, p. 2, c. 1

As nearly all readers have been informed, personally and otherwise, of all the interesting incidents of the Inauguration of Hon. T. O. Moore, as Governor of the State, it were useless for us to tell them what they already know. But we cannot permit the occasion to pass without adding our mite to the well-earned praises of our Baton Rouge company of Pelican Rifles. For the short time they had to equip and drill, their performances surpassed the expectations of their most sanguine friends. Capt. Tunnard and his officers deserve the credit and esteem of their fellow-citizens for their efforts in organizing so handsome a military company in their midst.

The New Orleans company of Chasseurs-a-Pied, commanded by Capt. St. Paul, took our good folk by storm from the novelty of their uniform and drill. They were indeed a feature in the procession.

SUGAR PLANTER [WEST BATON ROUGE, LA], January 7, 1860, p. 2, c. 1

A Military Company.—We have been informed—personally we can't vouch for it—that a cavalry company is about being formed in this Parish. Several attempts having been made without success, to organize an infantry company—it is thought a horse company would meet with more favor. If report speaks true, the gentlemen engaged in getting up this company has already seen service. One thing we do know, however, and that is, he is just the man to take such a matter in hand, and if he don't put it through, it will be no fault of his. A dragoon Company in the Parish would take like wildfire. Start the ball.

SUGAR PLANTER [WEST BATON ROUGE, LA], January 7, 1860, p. 2, c. 3

A Homespun Party.—Under this head we find the following in the Richmond (Va.) Whig:

The movement towards Southern independence is progressing steadily. The people of Virginia are in dead earnest about this matter. While we gentlemen have contented ourselves as yet with meetings, speeches, etc., the ladies have commenced to act. Without noise, they have commenced to give force and color to our resolution—to put our theories into practice. We had the pleasure a few evenings ago of attending a "homespun" party, given by a patriotic lady of this city, whose excellent good sense prompted her to substitute deeds for words, and to inaugurate at once that system of self-dependence which has been the theme of innumerable public meetings held recently in every county of the State. The party was a decided, a brilliant success. More than a hundred ladies and gentlemen, belonging to the most respected families in the city, were present, all of whom were attired in part or in whole in garments made of Virginia fabrics, woven in Virginia looms. It was strictly a Virginia cloth party.

SUGAR PLANTER [WEST BATON ROUGE, LA], February 25, 1860, p. 2, c. 2

Mardi Gras.—Quite a number of young men of our parish took it into their heads on Shrove Tuesday to keep up the time-honored custom of parading around en masque, much to the horror, wonder and astonishment of a large portion of our "culled" population who had never witnessed such dresses or faces in all their lives before. The number of maskers was quite large, and the variety of costumes added greatly to the interest of their procession. Several balls wound up the frolics of the day. One of the maskers took our hat from the beauty of the mule he rode, and the extreme delicacy of the rabbit tailed ringlets which adorned his magnificent head—Come down and get our hat—we havn't [sic] got nary more use for it.

"The institution," was celebrated in Red Stick as well as the deplorable condition of the weather would permit. A "member" whose perseverance and strength of muscle are worthy of the most intense appreciation, purchased a five cent mask, an immense crinoline (with the other feminine arrangements) and a tenor drum, paraded the streets upon his own hook, and pounded upon the last named article with such vigor and seriousness as became an individual who seemed to think that the whole responsibility of celebrating the day rested upon his shoulders. An other "member" who invariably requires facts and figures to substantiate everything—and who by the way constituted the entire procession following the drum—gives it as his positive opinion that the labors of the individual upon the drum did not cease more than ten minutes during that many hours. The indefatigable drummer marched past some points eight or ten different times, seeming perfectly indifferent as to whether any one was following him or not. He looked neither to the right nor left, but pressed forward with the air of a man who knew he had a celebration to "do" and he was bound to "do" it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Scholars who study traditional Southern political traditions are holding academic seminars at Nashville, Tennessee and Charleston, South Carolina. Here is some information from their web sites:

Stephen D. Lee Institute
The 2010 Stephen Dill Lee Institute will be held at the fabulous Music City Sheraton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Hotel reservations at a discounted rate ($119) can be made either ONLINE or by calling 1-888-627-7060. Please be sure to state that you are attending the SCV Stephen Dill Lee Institute in order to get your discount. Visit the hotel's website for ONLINE reservations. Hotel reservations also include FREE PARKING.
Registration for the Institute is $150 per person. We offer a discounted rate of $125 for SCV members and spouses plus students and teachers. Registration to the Institute will include all lectures, plus breakfast, lunch and Banquet on Saturday, February 27.

For more information go to

Abbeville Institute

Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, SC February 4 - 7, 2010.

For more information go to

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Captain J.W. Bryan Camp 1390 SCV, Lee-Jackson Banquet 2010

Installation officers of Captain Bryan Camp at the Lee-Jackson Banquet 2010 (Photo by LukeJones)

Captain JamesW. Bryan Camp 1390 held its annual Lee-Jackson Banquet 2010 Saturday, 30 January, at Pat's of Henderson Restaurant in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The event was an outstanding success with 36 persons in attendance.

Frederick Adolphus, commander of Maj. Jesse Cooper Camp, SCV, DeRidder, La., was the guest speaker and installed the 2010 officers for Captain Bryan camp. He spoke on the last battle of the War For Southern Independence, the Battle of Palmetto Ranch, near Brownsville, Texas, on 12 May 1865. The engagement was a complete success for the Confederates, led by Col. John "Rip" Ford, who completely routed the Federals.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson


John Williamson Palmer (1825-1906)

Come, stack arms, men! pile on the rails,

Stir up the camp-fire bright;

No growling if the canteen fails,

We'll make a roaring night.

Here Shenandoah brawls along,

There burly Blue Ridge echoes strong,

To swell the Brigade's rousing song

Of "Stonewall Jackson's way."

We see him now-the queer slouched hat

Cocked o'er his eye askew;

The shrewd, dry smile; the speech so pat,

So calm, so blunt, so true.

The "Blue-light Elder" knows em well;

Says he, "That's Banks-he's fond of shell;

Lord save his soul! we'll give him-" well!

That's "Stonewall Jackson's way."

Silence! ground arms! kneel all! caps off

Old Massa's goin' to pray.

Strangle the fool that dares to scoff

Attention! it's his way.

Appealing from his native sod

In forma pauperis to God:

"Lay bare Thine arm; stretch forth Thy rod!

Amen!"---That's "Stonewall's way."

He's in the saddle now. Fall in!

Steady! the whole brigade!

Hill's at the ford, cut off; we'll win

His way out, ball and blade!

What matter if our shoes are worn?

What matter if our feet are torn?

"Quick step! we're with him before morn!"

That's "Stonewall Jackson's way."

The sun's bright lances rout the mists

Of morning, and, by George!

Here's Longstreet, struggling in the lists,

Hemmed in an ugly gorge.

Pope and his Dutchmen, whipped before;

"Bay'nets and grape!" hear Stonewall roar;

"Charge, Stuart! Pay off Ashby's score"

in "Stonewall Jackson's Way."

Ah, Maiden! wait and watch and yearn

For news of Stonewall's band,

Ah, widow! read, with eyes that burn,

That ring upon thy hand,

Ah, Wife! sew on, pray on, hope on;

Thy life shall not be all forlorn;

The foe had better ne'er been born

That gets in "Stonewall's way."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Robert E. Lee


by Father Abram Joseph Ryan

Forth from its scabbard, pure and bright,

Flashed the sword of Lee!

Far in the front of the deadly fight,

High o'er the brave in the cause of Right

Its stainless sheen, like a beacon light,

Led us to Victory!

Out of its scabbard, where, full long,

It slumbered peacefully,

Roused from its rest by the battle's song,

Shielding the feeble, smiting the strong,

Guarding the right, avenging the wrong,

Gleamed the sword of Lee!

Forth from its scabbard, high in the air

Beneath Virginia's sky--

And they who saw it gleaming there,

And knew who bore it, knelt to swear

That where that sword led they would dare

To follow--and to die!

Out of its scabbard! ever hand

Waved sword from stain as free,

Nor purer sword led braver band,

Nor braver bled for a brighter land,

Nor brighter land had a cause so grand,

Nor cause a chief like Lee!

Forth from its scabbard! How we prayed

That sword might victor be;

And when our triumph was delayed,

And many a heart grew sore afraid,

We still hoped on while gleamed the blade

Of noble Robert Lee!

Forth from its scabbard all in vain

Bright flashed the sword of Lee;

'Tis shrouded now in its sheath again,

It sleeps the sleep of our noble slain,

Defeated, yet without stain,

Proudly and peacefully!


CHATTANOOGA, TN. -- Living history leaders representing 12,000 reenactors announced Tuesday, Jan. 19, their reenactment groups have picked 10 events to support for the observance of the 150th anniversary of the War For Southern Independence, 2011-2015.

The Civil War 150th National Leadership Convention met at Chickamauga, Ga. earlier in January to select the events to support with 75 representatives present.

The schedule is as follows:
2011 -- First Battle of Manassas, Virginia; and the Battle of Shioh, Tennessee.
2012 -- Second Battle of Manassas; Virginia;  Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi.
2013 -- Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia; Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
2014 -- Battle of the Wilderness, Virginia; Battle of Atlanta, Georgia.
2015 -- Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina; Battle of Appomatox, Virginia.

What happened to the major battles in Trans-Mississippi? Among those being left out by this group include Battle of Oak Hills, Mo. in 1861; Battle of Elk Horn Tavern, Ark. in 1862; Siege of Port Hudson, La., 1863; Battle of Sabine Pass, Texas, 1863; Battle of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, La., 1864; Battle of Palmetto Hills (Ranch), Texas 1865, among many others. Apparently the reenactors and reenactment groups of the Trans-Mississippi will be on their own for 150th anniversary reenactments. Should they support those in the east? — Editor's Opinion

Friday, January 15, 2010


 January is Confederate Heroes Month because two of our greatest Confederate generals were born in this month, Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. It also happens to be my own birth month so I want to pay special tribute to the only Confederate general with whom I share an actual birth date. He is Major General Lafayette McLaws of Georgia. We were both born on January 15.
    McLaws was born on that day in the year 1821 in Augusta, Georgia to James and Elizabeth Huguenin McLaws. He attended the University of Virginia for one year in 1837 before entering the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1838. He graduated in 1842, with a class standing of 46th out of 56 cadets. He was first assigned to the 6th Inantry Regiment at Fort Gibson in the Indian Territories. He then was assigned to Company D, 7th Infantry, which in 1846 became part of  General Zachary Taylor's Army of Occupation at Corpus Christi, Texas just prior to the outbreak of the Mexican War. During that war, 1846-48, he fought in engagements at Fort Texas (Brown), in Texas, the Battle of Monterey and the Siege of Vera Cruz in Mexico. When his health began to fail, he was sent back to the United States where he served on recruiting duty.
    McLaws was married 9 August 1849 in Missouri to Emily Allison Taylor who was the niece of  general and president Zachary Taylor. Their children included William McLaws, born in 1851, James Taylor "Johnnie" McLaws, born 20 September 1853 in Fort Gibson, Indian Territory; Uldrick Huegenin McLaws, born 30 November 1861 in Augusta, Georgia; Annie Lee McLalws, Elizabeth Violet McLaws, born 1870 in Augusta, Georgia and Virginia Randall McLaws, born 1872  in Augusta, Georgia.
    McLaws was promoted to the rank of captain of infantry on 24 August 1851. During the remainder of that decade, he took part in the Mormon Expedition of 1858 and then in 18599-60, operations against the Navajo Indians. When his native state of Georgia seceded from the Union, McLaws resigned his commission in the U.S. Army. The Georgian offered his services to the Confederacy and was commissioned a major, then promoted to full colonel to command the 10th Georgia Infantry. With the Confederate Army rapidly expanding, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier-genera on 25 September 1861. He was promoted to major general and placed in command of a division on 23 May 1862, before he experienced his first combat in the Seven Days Battles in late June early July 1862 around Richmond, Virginia. McLaws' division took part in the battles of Savage Station and Malvern Hill.
    McLaws Division was designated the 1st Division of Maj. Gen. James Longstreet's Corps. Longstreet and McLaws were classmates at West Point. However during the Maryland Campaign of 1862, McLaws division was sent to reinforce Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson and captured the Maryland Heights at Harpers Ferry. McLaws then marched his division to Sharpsburg, Maryland where they defended the West Woods part of the Confederate line against onslaughts by the Federals. Gen. Robert E. Lee was reportedly disappointed in McLaws' slowness in reaching the battlefield. But he redeemed himself in Lee's eyes during the Battle of Fredericksburg 11-13 December 1862 when his division provided a solid defense on Marye's Heights.
    At the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, McLaws Division formed the right-wing of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. There, it repulsed a Federal army striking the Confederate rear at Salem Church. As part of Longstreet's Corps at the Battle of Gettysburg, McLaws Division was instrumental in driving back Federal Gen. Daniel E. Sickles Corps in the center of the line at the Peach Orchard and Wheatfield on July 2. McLaws Division accompanied Longstreet's Corps to Georgia in September 1863 but arrived too late to take part in the Battle of Chickamauga on the 19th and 20th. However his division did fight in the Chattanooga and Knoxville campaigns, where McLaws had a major falling out with Longstreet.
    Longstreet relieved McLaws when his division attacked but failed to take Fort Sanders at Knoxville. The attack was made reluctantly against McLaws own good judgment. He was courtmartialed and found guilty of one charge, not doing what was necessary to make the attack successful. However Adjutant General Samuel Cooper over-turned the verdict because of improper procedure and Longstreet was censured. McLaws was returned to duty and assigned to the defense of Savannah, Georgia in 1864 with a division under Gen. William Hardee. When Sherman approached, the Confederates battle line, the Southerners repulsed one attack, but eventually withdrew and the city fell to the Northern invaders. He fought in one more battle, the Battle of Averasboro, N.C. on 16 March 1865 as part of Hardees Corps. The Confederates were out-numbered four to one by the Federals but still managed to hold them back for two days before withdrawing.
    Following the battle, McLaws returned with his command to Augusta,Georgia where he remained until the end of the war. His command was included in the surrender of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee in North Carolina. McLaws then entered the insurance business in Augusta to support his family. In 1875 he was appointed collector of internal revenue in Savannah, and then postmaster of that city in 1876. He began a series of lectures on the war in 1886. McLaws became active in Confederate veterans organizations and, while he defended Longstreet against some criticisms, he was critical of his old commander's actions at Gettysburg. Lafayatte McLaws Camp 596 in Savannah, Ga. of the United Confederate Veterans was named in his honor, as well as the current Lafayette McLaws Camp 79 Sons of Confederate Veterans in Fayetteville, Ga. McLaws was also active in the Masonic Lodge in Savannah and died in that city 24 July 1897. He was buried at Laurel Grove Cemetery there.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Captain James W. Bryan Camp 1390 in Lake Charles and Maj. Jesse M. Cooper Camp 1665 DeRidder, Louisiana will pay tribute to two great Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson at 7 p.m. Saturday, January 23, at Pat's of Henderson Restaurant in Lake Charles. This will be a major function of the year with tributes to generals Lee and Jackson, an outstanding speaker, tributes to our own Confederate ancestors and door prizes. We have a really special speaker this year, Fred Adolphus, who is the director of the military museum at Fort Polk and commander of Maj. Cooper Camp. His topic will be the Battle of Palmetto Hill, Texas, the last battle of the War for Southern Independence. We welcome our compatriots from the Louisiana Division in joining us for this very special evening for a joint banquet.
The menu items are as follows : Appetizer - -popcorn shrimp.

Entree (choice of) --- Fried Shrimp
Stuffed Snapper
Broiled Italian Chicken Breast (new item choice)
Ribeye Steak (all steaks will be cooked to "medium")
*all entree items served with salad, baked potato, dinner rolls, & beverage*

Dessert -- pecan pie cheesecake with choice of blueberries or strawberries (new item choice)
Note: Alcoholic beverage cost are the member/guest responsibility and not included in the cost of the banquet.

The cost of the meal is the same as last year - $30.00 per person. Payment should be by check made out to Camp 1390 or SCV for the number attending can be sent to Luke Dartez, adjutant, 908 Henning Road, Sulphur, La. 70665. The banquet room can accommodate up to 65 people.
Mike Jones,commander
Captain J.W. Bryan Camp 1390
Lake Charles,La

Monday, January 11, 2010


It is something of a mystery to me why so many people, including Southerners, believe the lies they've been told about the War for/against Southern Independence, when the truth is so readily available. Perhaps the answer is found in the words of Russian revolutionary leader, and first premier of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin. He said, "If a lie is told often enough, it will become truth."
We know the Union had to perpetrate demonic lies in order to explain it's illegal invasion of the sovereign states of the Confederacy. They have demonized our honorable Confederate forefathers, and have made our noble Southern heritage a legacy of shame. And how did they do it? With lies. Lies that have been taught constantly and continually for almost a hundred and fifty years. And many people have become believers.

In his last letter from a Roman prison, the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, the leader of the Ephesian Church. He warned that, "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived." (2 Tim. 3:13) Then he tells us, "And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables." (2 Tim. 4:4) This Scriptural Truth is a reality today. Not only in the Church and the world at large, but in this country. We are a people "Turning to Fables."

We must overcome the lies with truth. Just as Jesus commissioned the church to spread the truth to the world, General S.D. Lee commissioned the Sons of Confederate Veterans with the Charge. It is our duty to spread the truth about our forefathers and our heritage.

We can boldly tell our friends, neighbors, and relatives: Our Confederate ancestors were not fighting for slavery. They were fighting to defend their country against an invasion. Yes, they failed, and our country was lost at the point of a sword. But, we can and should be proud of them for their service, and honor their sacrifice.

We say that this country is, "The land of the free, and home of the brave."

But, when the leaders of a state that asked our forefathers to leave their homes and go to war to suffer and die in it's defence, refuse to honor their memory for fear of being politically incorrect, that is not "brave." And, when we accept lies as truth, either out of ignorance or indifference, that is not being "free." Just ask Vladimir Lenin.

Jesus said, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." My prayer today is for truth. May the Lord grant us the knowledge of truth, and the conviction to speak the truth to others. For Jesus' sake we ask.....Amen.

Brother Len Patterson, Th.D
Chaplain, Army of Trans-Mississippi
Sons of Confederate Veterans

Monday, January 4, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: VIcksburg 1863 by Winston Groom

Winston Groom is one of my favorite historical writers and I just finished his latest book, Vicksburg 1863 (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2009). Vicksburg was one of the most important campaigns of the War For Southern Independence and was critical to the eventual victory by the North. Groom spends the first half of the book introducing the main players, Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Shearman, John Pemberton, Joseph Johnston, Jefferson Davis, Stephen Dill Lee and others. He then lays the ground work for the eventual siege of Vicksburg by reviewing the earlier movements and battles, including the earliest attacks on Vicksburg by the Union Navy, the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou and the battles of Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson and Champion's Hill. There is also the thrilling exploits of the C.S.S. Arkansas, which ran the gauntlet of the Federal fleet to make a dramatic entry into Vicksburg.

When he get's into the siege, Groom quotes extensively from the diaries of Vickburg civilians to give the all important impact on the noncombatants who were trapped there and ruthlessly bombarded by Grant. I also appreciated Groom including the siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana, which was going on at the same time and kept the Union Army split. Port Hudson is about 200 miles south of Vicksburg on the Mississippi River and kept the army of General Nathanial Banks tied up there, and kept that stretch of the river open to the Confederacy until both surrendered.

I also enjoyed Groom's detailing the famous, or infamous, drunken spree that Grant went on during the siege of Vicksburg. The spree was both disgraceful as well has humorous. It was too bad for the Confederates that Grant's irresponible behavior was basically covered up and he was never officially held accountable for it. I thought it courageous and honest to history to cover it as extensively as he did. Too many historians take the politically correct approach and either ignore it or dismiss it as unimportant. Grant deserved to be dismissed from the service, in my opinion.

There was plently of blame to go around for the loss of Vicksburg for the Confederacy. For the most part I think Groom was fair in his conclusions. However I disagree with his viewpoint that the Confederacy had no chance of victory after Vicksburg. It was a crippling blow, but I don't think a fatal one. Probably the Atlanta campaign of 1864 was much more of a fatal blow to the cause of Southern Independence, in my opinion.

I believe the book is a good overview of the entire campaign and I enjoyed the insights about the siege itself the most. I live only about five hours by auto from Vicksburg, so I try to get up there to tour the battlefield every couple of years. It is one of the most extensive battlefield parks in the country and I never get tired of visiting it. I think the visitor center too small, but the book store is pretty good. The driving tour is great with many important features, such as the Third Louisiana Redan, Stockade Redan, and the U.S.S. Cairo, which has its own museum.