Thursday, November 29, 2012


[Editor's note: U. S. warships Westfield and Clifton, led by Commodore W.B. Renshaw of the West Blockade Squadron, bombarded Port Lavaca, Texas on October 31, 1862. Later the Westfield was destroyed at the Battle of Galveston and the Clifton captured at the Battle of Sabine Pass.]

(U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.)
Austin State Gazette
Nov. 12, 1862

Bombardment of Port Lavaca.
Withdrawal of the Federals.

From the Houston Telegraph.

                The following account of the bombardment of Lavaca is quite incomplete, but it shows the gist of the matter, which is that the Federals attacked and bombarded the town and didn't take it. Nobody hurt.
S_______ I_______, Near Texana,
November 2d, 1862
           Dear Sir--Left Lavaca at half-past twelve yesterday. At twenty-five minutes past one p.m., the tow steamer ceased to fire, and hauled off, taking the small schooner in tow. By 12 m., they had passed Gallinipper Point, and have evidently left us for the season. . . . From 1/4 past 3 p.m. on Friday, the expiration of the one and a half days grace, to 6 p.m., they fired into the town 168 shells and shot; and from 8 o'clock to 10 a.m. yesterday, 74. Some of their guns were of the largest size, the shells weighing 104 lbs., and throwing them two miles beyond the town. Nobody hurt. Most of the stores on Front street were struck, completely demolishing some of them inside. Gutted, as it were by the explosion of shell, and showing almost cellars dug by the force. Many of the dwelling houses also were more or less injured. . . . Instead of being everywhere, looking after the defense of important and exposed points, San Antonio, 140 miles from the scene of danger, seems to be the only place having any attraction for our generals. Truly, they have deserved well of Texas, and should be waited upon by a committee of our gallant ladies, and presented with leather medals and swords of like material. A single rifle gun of fair range, and we could have sunk the miserable old New York ferry-boats that attacked our town, fired upon our women, children, and sick--some of them dying with yellow fever--and which vessels will doubtless return and finish their work of destruction. Our officers and men behaved gallantly, and will sustain the honor of our flag.
          Since the above was in type, we learn that the enemy came up on the 31st within five miles of the town of Lavaca, and sent yards ashore demanding the surrender. Maj. Shea refused.
They then gave notice that an hour and a half would be allowed for the removal of the women and children and sick.
               Promptly at the expiration of the time they opened fire, throwing about 50 shot that day. Next day the firing was continued heavily as is detailed above.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The Richmond Daily Dispatch
Dec. 1, 1862
       Wherever the enemy have penetrated the South a scene of desolation presents itself, which might melt any but Yankee hearts. "The land is as the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness." Fields stripped as bare as if locusts had presided over them, fences gone, houses burned down, the once opulent and comfortable proprietors driven homeless and fortuneless from their premises; these are the edifying spectacles which great the conqueror's eyes, and are rapturously recorded by Yankee journals. We cannot deprive them of this temporary consolation; but, after all, it is only temporary. They have made some communities penniless for a time, but it is only for a time. They have disfigured the surface of the earth, but they have not destroyed it, and cannot even impair its powers of recuperation.--With the first surrender of Peace, the desert places will blossom again, and, with the establishment of Independence, the most desolate portions of the South will begin a career of prosperity unexampled in their history. Increase, which can only bring beggary to the North, will, in turn, make the South the wealthiest and most powerful nation on this continent. It has suffered like the patriarch John; but, like him, its latter days will be better than the beginning. The war of the American Revolution reduced whole communities to beggary and scourged the face of the earth, but from their ashes there sprung up a greatness which the world has rarely equalled. So it will be with our own country. Our independence once secured, and our ports opened the great staples of the South will give her the command of the commerce of the world. Norfolk will become the New York of the continent, and the Peninsula, now so down-trodden and cheerless, will resound with the hammer of enterprise and activity. Even in manufactures, the genial climate and unlimited water course of the South will build up many a Manchester and Birmingham. Let us be patient and hopeful. A day rich with compensation is coming.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Lord Acton (1834-1902)
English Catholic politician,
historian and writer.
November 4, 1866


          The very kind letter which Mrs. Lee wrote to my wife last winter encouraged me to hope that you will forgive my presuming to address you, and that you will not resent as an intrusion a letter from an earnest and passionate lover of the cause whose glory and whose strength you were.
          I have been requested to furnish private counsel in American affairs for the guidance of the editors of a weekly Review which is to begin at the New Year, and which will be conducted by men who are followers of Mr. Gladstone. You are aware, no doubt, that Mr. Gladstone was in the minority of Lord Palmerston's cabinet who wished to accept the French Emperor's proposal to mediate in the American war.
           The reason of the confidence shown in my advice is simply the fact that I formerly traveled in America, and that I afterwards followed the progress of the four years' contest as closely and as keenly as it was possible to do with the partial and unreliable information that reached us. In the momentous questions which have arisen since you sheathed the sword, I have endeavoured to conform my judgment to your own as well as I could ascertain it from the report of your evidence, from the few English travelers who enjoyed the privilege of speaking with you, and especially from General Beauregard, who spoke, as I understood, your sentiments as well as his own. My travels in America never led me south of Maryland, and the only friends to whom I can look for instruction, are Northerners, mostly of Webster's school.
            In my emergency, urged by the importance of the questions at issue in the United States, and by the peril of misguided public opinion between our two countries, I therefore seek to appeal to southern authorities, and venture at once to proceed to Headquarters.
           If, Sir, you will consent to entertain my request, and will inform me of the light in which you would wish the current politics of America to be understood, I can pledge myself that the new Review shall follow the course which you prescribe and that any communication with which you may honor me shall be kept in strictest confidence, and highly treasured by me. Even should you dismiss my request as unwarranted, I trust you will remember it only as an attempt to break through the barrier of false reports and false sympathies which encloses the views of my countrymen.
           It cannot have escaped you that much of the good will felt in England towards the South, so far as it was not simply the tribute of astonishment and admiration won by your campaigns, was neither unselfish nor sincere. It sprang partly from an exultant belief in the hope that America would be weakened by the separation, and from terror at the remote prospect of Farragut appearing in the channel and Sherman landing in Ireland.
           I am anxious that you should distinguish the feeling which drew me aware toward your cause and your career, and which now guides my pen, from that thankless and unworthy sympathy.
            Without presuming to decide the purely legal question, on which it seems evident to me from Madison's and Hamilton's papers that the Fathers of the Constitution were not agreed, I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. The institutions of your Republic have not exercised on the old world the salutary and liberating influence which ought to have belonged to them, by reason of those defects and abuses of principle which the Confederate Constitution was expressly and wisely calculated to remedy. I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.
             General Beauregard confirmed to me a report which was in the papers, that you are preparing a narrative of your campaigns. I sincerely trust that it is true, and that the loss you were said to have sustained at the evacuation of Richmond has not deprived you of the requisite materials. European writers are trying to construct that terrible history with the information derived from one side only. I have before me an elaborate work by a Prussian officer named Sander. It is hardly possible that future publications can be more honorable to the reputation of your army and your own. His feelings are strongly Federal, his figures, especially in estimating your forces, are derived from Northern journals, and yet his book ends by becoming an enthusiastic panegyric on your military skill. It will impress you favourably towards the writer to know that he dwells with particular detail and pleasure on your operations against Meade when Longstreet was absent, in the autumn of 1863.
            But I have heard the best Prussian military critics regret that they had not the exact data necessary for a scientific appreciation of your strategy, and certainly the credit due to the officers who served under you can be distributed and justified by no hand but your own.
            If you will do me the honor to write to me, letters will reach me addressed Sir J. Acton, Hotel [Serry?], Rome. Meantime I remain, with sentiments stronger than respect, Sir,

~ Your faithful servantJohn Dalberg Acton

Gen. Robert E. Lee
Lexington, Vir.,
15 Dec. 1866


          Although your letter of the 4th ulto. has been before me some days unanswered, I hope you will not attribute it to a want of interest in the subject, but to my inability to keep pace with my correspondence. As a citizen of the South I feel deeply indebted to you for the sympathy you have evinced in its cause, and am conscious that I owe your kind consideration of myself to my connection with it. The influence of current opinion in Europe upon the current politics of America must always be salutary; and the importance of the questions now at issue the United States, involving not only constitutional freedom and constitutional government in this country, but the progress of universal liberty and civilization, invests your proposition with peculiar value, and will add to the obligation which every true American must owe you for your efforts to guide that opinion aright. Amid the conflicting statements and sentiments in both countries, it will be no easy task to discover the truth, or to relieve it from the mass of prejudice and passion, with which it has been covered by party spirit. I am conscious the compliment conveyed in your request for my opinion as to the light in which American politics should be viewed, and had I the ability, I have not the time to enter upon a discussion, which was commenced by the founders of the constitution and has been continued to the present day. I can only say that while I have considered the preservation of the constitutional power of the General Government to be the foundation of our peace and safety at home and abroad, I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it. I need not refer one so well acquainted as you are with American history, to the State papers of Washington and Jefferson, the representatives of the federal and democratic parties, denouncing consolidation and centralization of power, as tending to the subversion of State Governments, and to despotism. The New England states, whose citizens are the fiercest opponents of the Southern states, did not always avow the opinions they now advocate. Upon the purchase of Louisiana by Mr. Jefferson, they virtually asserted the right of secession through their prominent men; and in the convention which assembled at Hartford in 1814, they threatened the disruption of the Union unless the war should be discontinued. The assertion of this right has been repeatedly made by their politicians when their party was weak, and Massachusetts, the leading state in hostility to the South, declares in the preamble to her constitution, that the people of that commonwealth "have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free sovereign and independent state, and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not, or may hereafter be by them expressly delegated to the United States of America in congress assembled." Such has been in substance the language of other State governments, and such the doctrine advocated by the leading men of the country for the last seventy years. Judge Chase, the present Chief Justice of the U.S., as late as 1850, is reported to have stated in the Senate, of which he was a member, that he "knew of no remedy in case of the refusal of a state to perform its stipulations," thereby acknowledging the sovereignty and independence of state action. But I will not weary you with this unprofitable discussion. Unprofitable because the judgment of reason has been displaced by the arbitrament of war, waged for the purpose as avowed of maintaining the union of the states. If, therefore, the result of the war is to be considered as having decided that the union of the states is inviolable and perpetual under the constitution, it naturally follows that it is as incompetent for the general government to impair its integrity by the exclusion of a state, as for the states to do so by secession; and that the existence and rights of a state by the constitution are as indestructible as the union itself. The legitimate consequence then must be the perfect equality of rights of all the states; the exclusive right of each to regulate its internal affairs under rules established by the Constitution, and the right of each state to prescribe for itself the qualifications of suffrage. The South has contended only for the supremacy of the constitution, and the just administration of the laws made in pursuance to it. Virginia to the last made great efforts to save the union, and urged harmony and compromise. Senator Douglass, in his remarks upon the compromise bill recommended by the committee of thirteen in 1861, stated that every member from the South, including Messrs. Toombs and Davis, expressed their willingness to accept the proposition of Senator Crittenden from Kentucky, as a final settlement of the controversy, if sustained by the republican party, and that the only difficulty in the way of an amicable adjustment was with the republican party. Who then is responsible for the war? Although the South would have preferred any honorable compromise to the fratricidal war which has taken place, she now accepts in good faith its constitutional results, and receives without reserve the amendment which has already been made to the constitution for the extinction of slavery. That is an event that has been long sought, though in a different way, and by none has it been more earnestly desired than by citizens of Virginia. In other respects I trust that the constitution may undergo no change, but that it may be handed down to succeeding generations in the form we received it from our forefathers. The desire I feel that the Southern states should possess the good opinion of one whom I esteem as highly as yourself, has caused me to extend my remarks farther than I intended, and I fear it has led me to exhaust your patience. If what I have said should serve to give any information as regards American politics, and enable you to enlighten public opinion as to the true interests of this distracted country, I hope you will pardon its prolixity.
            In regard to your inquiry as to my being engaged in preparing a narrative of the campaigns in Virginia, I regret to state that I progress slowly in the collection of the necessary documents for its completion. I particularly feel the loss of the official returns showing the small numbers with which the battles were fought. I have not seen the work by the Prussian officer you mention and therefore cannot speak of his accuracy in this respect.– With sentiments of great respect, I remain your obt. servant,

~ R.E. Lee

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Confederate monument,
Galveston. (M. Jones collection)
          Galveston Historical Foundation will mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Galveston on January 11-13, 2013. The Battle of Galveston, which took place during the early morning hours of January 1, 1863, is widely acknowledged as the most important military event in Galveston’s history. Commemorative events taking place include battle re-enactments, lectures, living history encampments, a wet-plate collodion photography demonstration and a variety of special tours and programming focusing on Galveston’s part in the 1863 battle.
          Living history encampments will be established by the 19th-Century Living History Association, Inc. and the 1st Texas Brigade. The public is invited free of charge to visit the encampments, located in Galveston’s historic downtown, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
          Noted author and Civil War historian Edward T. Cotham, Jr., will be conducting various paid tours visiting the sites of the battle. Cemetery historian Linda McBee will also offer a Civil War cemetery tours of Galveston’s historic Episcopal cemetery on Broadway. Tours, lectures and other programs are currently being developed and will be announced soon.
           “The Battle of Galveston brings life to an important historic event for Galveston. This year we add new events that bookend the reenactments and help to educate visitors on the strategy employed by each side on January 1, 1863.” says Dwayne Jones, Executive Director of Galveston Historical Foundation. “The participants and spectators really get a first-hand view of this historic event.”
            Played out on both land and sea over the course of several months, the Battle of Galveston ended with Confederate forces driving out the Union ships that had held Galveston Harbor since October, 1862. As part of the Union blockade of the Texas coast, Commander William B. Renshaw and his squadron of eight Union ships demanded surrender by Confederate Forces of Galveston Harbor, the most important Texas port, on October 4, 1862.
          But Confederate Major General John Bankhead Magruder led a successful campaign to retake Galveston early on New Year’s morning, January 1, 1863. Confederate “cottonclads” struck from the rear of the Union squadron. A naval battle ensued with Magruder’s forces retaking Galveston. Confederate losses numbered 26 killed and 117 wounded. Union losses included the captured infantry and the Harriet Lane, about 150 casualties on the naval ships, and destruction of the Westfield. The port remained under Confederate control for the rest of the war.
           For more information about Battle of Galveston Commemoration tours, tour reservations or for information on re-enactor guidelines, go to or call Galveston Historical Foundation at 409-765-3409.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


American Citizen
Canton, Mississippi
Dec. 5, 1862
Correspondence of the Citizen.

Camp Reid, Near Richmond,
Nov. 17th, 1862.
Friend Bosworth:--Permit me to transmit to you a correspondence relating to a flag which was presented to the Madison Artillery, by three young ladies of Richmond, on the 8th inst. As it is the only thing that has transpired worthy of note since our company left Canton, I send it to you for publication, if you consider it worthy of a place in the columns of your paper, hoping it may be of some interest to your readers and the friends of the company.
The flag is a very handsome and tasteful one, made of cherry colored silk bound with yellow, with a blue cross about four inches in width bound with white satin ribbon, extending diagonally across it, having thirteen stars worked in white, the central one being considerably larger than the others, with the names of Emma, Ella and Alice worked in blue; on the reverse side, the letters M. A., Madison Artillery, the staff being ornamented by a handsome blue silk cord and tassels. It is a beautiful design of the battle flag used in our Army.
It was quite a surprise to the company, no one being aware that anything of the kind was in contemplation. . . .
Winter quarters has been talked of several days, but nothing has been done as yet. We have made our present quarters very comfortable by building them flues and chimneys to our tents. The way they are constructed is by digging a hole about two feet square, on the inner side of the tent, the front side being considerably sloped; we then lay a large stone over it, partially covering it. The smoke is conducted out by a flue, built on top of the ground, of stone and mud, extending from the hole to the outer side of the tent, at an elevation of about twenty degrees; they are generally from two to three feet long, with a chimney at the end, varying from three to seven feet in length; they throw out heat very well, and the draught nearly equal to that of a brick chimney.
Since the above was written our company has been ordered off. This morning, (18th,) about 4 o'clock, orders came for us to cook four days rations and be in readiness to march in two hours. . .

Richmond, Nov. 8, 1862.
Capt. Geo. Ward:
Will our friends, the Madison Artillery, accept this little Flag as a token of our high esteem? We regret that it is not in our power to have it larger, but knowing the difficulty in obtaining material, we hope you will overlook that deficiency. May it wave above you in the hour of danger and be as a guardian angel to shield and protect those who are fighting for homes, friends and Liberty, and may the career of the Company be ever bright and successful, and the Flag be but another link in the chain that shall bind you to your soldier home, Virginia.
Ever your friends,
Camp Reid, Near Richmond, Nov. 6, 1862.
Misses Emma, Ella, and Alice:
Dear Ladies:--I have the pleasure of herewith transmitting a communication from a Committee, appointed at a meeting of the Madison Light Artillery, held upon the receipt of the beautiful Flag presented by you this day, and conveyed in such handsome and complimentary terms in your note of this date.
          I cannot sufficiently express for myself and Company, our grateful appreciation of your beautiful gift. Coming from the hands of those who possess such claims to our admiration and esteem,--most fit representatives of Virginia's fair daughters,--we shall ever look upon this Battle-Flag with pride and pleasure, and in the hour of trial and of danger, will derive new strength and inspiration from this token of their approval and esteem.
That we may so bear and defend it as to prove ourselves not unworthy of the interest you have thus manifested in us, and the sacred cause for which we are in arms, shall be our constant effort and highest aim.
Henceforward, the names of "Emma, Ella, and Alice," will be talismanic words with every Madison Light Artilleryman, inciting their hearts with the names of the loved ones in their Southern homes.
With renewed assurances of my high esteem, I am, Ladies,
Very respectfully,
Your friend and ob't serv't,
Geo. Ward,
Capt. Madison Lt. Artillery.


Camp Reid, Near Richmond, Nov. 8, 1862                                                                     .
Misses Emma, Ella and Alice:
Ladies:--On behalf of the officers and members of the Madison Light Artillery, permit us to tender you our grateful acknowledgements for the beautiful Guidon your own fair fingers have so tastefully fashioned and committed to us as a sacred trust and inspiring talisman to defend and look to in the hour of battle. 
Receive the assurance that its beautiful star-lit folds will ever flaunt defiance to the foe, so long as a member of our corps survives to stand to the guns; and so often as our eyes shall salute this treasured souvenir, inscribed with the names of "Emma, Ella and Alice," it will never fail to recall most pleasing associations, and, forcibly reminding us of the dear ones we have left behind in our far distant Southern homes, will incite us to still higher deeds of empire and prove a beautiful bond of connection between Virginia and Mississippi.
Yours, Ladies,
Every most gratefully,
J. Quitman Moore,}
C. R. Dudley,} Committee.
W. F. George,}

Monday, November 19, 2012


President Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) looks across
 a battlefield in the aftermath of a terrible siege in this scene
from director Steven Spielberg’s drama “Lincoln”
 from DreamWorks Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox.
 © DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved
          Steven Spielberg's movie "Lincoln" delivers what most of the movie going public wanted to see --a reverent, loving, film of "Saint Abraham" "saving the Union" and "freeing the slaves." Of course the real, historical Lincoln gets lost in all the "heavenly" music, worshipful Union soldiers, poor old touchy-feely "Father Abraham" and of course the usual, stereotypical "evil" Southerners.
         What is delivered is the typical, 21st Century, Hollywood version of Northern wartime, Anti-Southern propaganda which very neatly advances the 150-year-old, misleading myth about what the war was all about and who the good guys and bad guys were. It was a very well done movie, technically, and had the right look as far as the sets and costumes go. As would be expected with professional actors, Daniel Day-Lewis, as Lincoln, Sally Field, as Mary Todd Lincoln, and Tommy Lee Jones, as Thaddeus Stevens, all performed their roles well. I think Sally Field delivered the best performance of all. At least she could talk back to her husband.
        Most of the movie was about the political wrangling that went on to get the House of Representatives to approve the proposed 13th amendment freeing the slaves. I'm not sure how historically accurate it was, but  it did seem too melodramatic and too drawn out. Considering the  ruthless ways Lincoln violated the Constitution, such as shutting down opposition newspapers and throwing the editors in jail, military arrests without charge for Northern opponents of his policies, and violating the right of habeas corpus, I think the vote was a foregone conclusion. I doubt there was that much drama over passage of the bill. The amendment wasn't passed by the states until the end of the year, well after Lincoln's death.
        Perhaps the most laughably bad scene was the opening one of what was supposed to be fierce hand-to-hand combat, but which came off looking like a ridiculous, modern mud wrestling fight. That was followed by other silly scenes of a touchy-feely Lincoln sitting on a trunk chit-chatting with adoring Union soldiers, some of  whom spontaneously burst out in recitations of the Gettysburg Adress. I'd like to see the documentation for that. Incidentally,  the "battle" scene is the obscure Battle of Jenkin's Ferry, Arkansas in 1864. It was a very bloody and fierce battle, but I doubt there was any mud wrestling going on.
       My favorite part was the scene of the meeting on the River Queen steamboat at Hampton's Roads, Virginia on Feb. 3, 1865, when Lincoln met with a peace commission made up of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, Senator R. M. T. Hunter and Assistant Secretary of War  John A. Campbell, who was also a former U. S. Supreme Court Justice. The inference in the movie that the South would have rejoined the Union if Lincoln blocked the 13th Amendment freeing
 the slaves, did not seem to me to be historically correct. The Southern commissioners were tasked with ending the war but Southern Independence was non-negotiable. I thought the actor who played Stephens, Jackie Earle Haley, did it with dignity and respectability. He was the main  "Confederate" character in the movie with a speaking role. Incidentally, Lincoln and Stephens had been close
personal friends from their days of serving together in the House  of Representatives in the 1840s, when both were members of the Whig Party.
        There was a scene toward at the end of the movie showing Robert E. Lee leaving Appomattox Courthouse. It was okay and showed that Lee was treated respectfully, but I thought the actor playing Lee didn't quite look the part. He had no speaking lines. Other than that, Confederate soldiers were portrayed in the silly mud wrestling scene, or as dead bodies on the Petersburg battlefield.
        The Lincoln assassination was not presented at all, just the Lincoln death scene in the boarding house across from Ford's Theatre.
        According to the facts of history, the real Lincoln was a tough, crafty, self-serving politician who bumbled his way to victory because he had overwhelming advantages in manpower and supplies. That Lincoln is not portrayed in the movie. His closest friends and associates, Ward Lamon, William Herndon and others, rejected the politically inspired myth-making that was created about  their old friend, after his assassination. They would have resented this movie. But the mythological Lincoln is the image that lives today. There's no changing it. That is what most people want to see and that is what sells.


Sunday, November 18, 2012


Abraham Lincoln
(Library of Congress)
[Editor's Note - This is the second in a series of excerpts from
“ABRAHAM LINCOLN AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE R, E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans, AT RICHMOND, VA., ON OCTOBER 29TH, 1909, BY HON. GEORGE L. CHRISTIAN.” which is in response to Steven Spielberg's movie, "Lincoln," which is a very one sided view, and historically very debatable, presentation.]


          Of course, within the limits of this paper, we shall make no attempt to do more than to give some glimpses of the true character, characteristics and conduct of Mr. Linclon, nor shall we attempt to follow his biographers in their details of the career and conduct of this enigmatical man.

Ward Lamon
(Library of Congress)
          [Ward Hill] Lamon says he was "morbid, moody, meditative, thinking much of himself, and the things pertaining to himself, regarding other men as instruments furnished to hand for the accomplishment of views which he knew were important to him, and therefore considered important to the public. Mr. Lincoln was a man apart from the rest of his kind. He seemed to make boon companions of the coarsest men on the list of his acquaintances low, vulgar, unfortunate creatures."

         "It was said that he had no heart that is, no personal attachments warm and strong enough to govern his passions. It was seldom that he praised anybody, and when he did, it was not a rival or an equal in the struggle for popularity and power."

        "No one knew better how to damn with faint praise, or to divide the glory of another by being the first and frankest to acknowledge it." (Lamon, pp. 480-1.)

          "He did nothing out of mere gratitude, and forgot the devotion of his warmest partisans as soon as the occasion for their services passed." Id., p. 482.

         "Notwithstanding his over-weaning ambition, and the breathless eagerness with which he pursued the objects of it, he had not a particle of sympathy with the great mass of his fellow-citizens who were engaged in similar struggles for place." Id., p. 483.

          Now mark you, this is what Lamon, his closest friend, and most ardent admirer, has to say of the "make up" of Mr. Lincoln. Is this the stuff of which the world's great characters, heroes, martyrs, and the exemplars for our children are made? Surely it would seem not, and further comment is deemed unnecessary.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Exaggerations about Lincoln

Abraham Lincolon (Library of Congress)
[Editor's Note - This is the first in a series of excerpts from
“ABRAHAM LINCOLN AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE R, E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans, AT RICHMOND, VA., ON OCTOBER 29TH, 1909, BY HON. GEORGE L. CHRISTIAN.” which is in response to Steven Spielberg's movie,  "Lincoln," which is a  very one sided view, and historically very debatable, presentation.]
Col. Donn Piatt (Library of
            In all our reading, we know of no man whose merits have been so exaggerated and whose demerits have been so minimized as have those of Abraham Lincoln. Indeed, this course has been so insistently and persistently pursued by some Northern writers that it amounts to a patent perversion of the truth, and a positive fraud on the public. General Don Piatt, an officer in the Federal Army, a man of character and culture, says: "With us, when a leader dies, all good men go to lying about him. * * * Abraham Lincoln has almost disappeared from human knowledge. I hear of him, and I read of him in eulogies and biographies, but I fail to recognize the man I knew in life." (Facts and Falsehoods, p. 36-7 ; Men Who Saved the Union, p. 28.)

William Herdon
(Library of Congress)
          William H. Herndon, Mr. Lincoln's close friend and law partner for twenty years, who, we are informed, wrote a biography of him in 1866, which is said to have been bought up and suppressed, simply because it told the unvarnished truth, said : "I deplore the many publications pretending to be biographies of Lincoln, which teemed from the press so long as there was hope for gain. Out of the mass of these works, of only one (Holland's) is it possible to speak with any degree of respect." (Facts and Falsehoods, p. 37; Lamon's Preface, iii.)

Ward H. Lamon
(Library of Congress)
         And Ward Hill Lamon, who was Mr. Lincoln's close friend and at one time his law partner, who was especially selected by Mr. Lincoln to accompany him on his midnight journey to the capitalwhen he was to be inaugurated, who was appointed by him marshal of the District of Columbia, who was probably his closest and most confidential friend and adviser during his whole official life, says immediately after his assassination, "there was the fiercest rivalry as to who should canonize him in the most solemn words, who should compare him to the most sacred character in all history. He was prophet, priest and king. He was Washington. He was Moses. He was likened to Christ the Redeemer. He was likened to God." (Facts and Falsehoods, p. 9; Lamon, 312.)
           Again says Lamon: "Lincoln's apotheosis was not only planned but executed by men who were unfriendly to him while he lived, and that the deification took place with showy magnificence some time after the great man's lips were sealed in death. Men who had exhausted the resources of their skill and ingenuity in venomous detraction of the living Lincoln, especially during the last
years of his life, were the first when the assassin's bullet had closed the career of the great-hearted statesman to undertake the self-imposed task of guarding his memory not as a human being endowed with mighty intellect and extraordinary virtues, but as a god" (Lamon's Recollections of Lincoln, p.
            And again he says : For days and nights after his assassination "it was considered treason to be seen in public with a smile on the face. Men who spoke evil of the fallen chief, or ventured a doubt
concerning the ineffable purity and saintliness of his life, were pursued by mobs, were beaten to death with paving stones, or strung up by the neck to lamp posts." (Lamon, 312.) We shall attempt to show you that this whole apotheosis business not only took place, as Lamon says, after Mr. Lincoln's assassination, and because of the manner of his death, but why it was begun then, and has continued until this day.
           We have already said that Mr. Lincoln was the first President of the Republican party. He was the official head of that party through the most terrible and trying conflict recorded in history. The leaders of that party were, and are still, in need of a real hero. They knew that they and their conduct would be judged by the character and conduct of their official head. The country was stunned and dazed by the assassination of this leader the first assassination of the kind in its history. The South was prostrate and helpless at the feet of the North, and its leaders charged with complicity in that awful crime. That time, of all others, afforded the leaders of the Republican party always quick and bold in action the opportunity to deify this its first President ; and those leaders, with a stroke of audacity and genius never surpassed, seized upon that opportunity and manufactured a false glamour with which they have surrounded the name and fame of their chosen head calculated to deceive the "very elect"; and they have so persisted in their efforts in this direction, from that day to this,
that the lapse of nearly half a century has failed to dispel the delusions manufactured at that time and amid these surroundings by these people. Mr. Lincoln is credited with the saying: "You can fool some of the people all the time; you can fool all the people some of the time, but it is impossible to fool all the people all the time."
           We believe the time is coming, if it is not already here, when the scales will fall from the eyes of a great many in regard to the true history and character of this chosen hero of the North.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder
(Cdv, M. Jones Collection)
By Mike Jones
           After the loss of Galveston on October 4, 1862 to Union forces, and the bombardment along the coast of other points, such as Sabine City, Lavaca and Corpus Christi, the people of Texas demanded a replacement for Brig. Gen. Paul Hebert, who showed little inclination to fight. They got what they wanted with Maj. Gen. John Bankhead Magruder, a flamboyant, crafty and aggressive commander. Colonel John S. "Rip" Ford said Magruder's military value was worth "50,000" troops.
          Magruder was born in 1807 in Caroline County, Virginia. As a youth he attended the Rappahannock Academy where he received a classical education and probably where he became a polished young gentleman. He entered the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, N. Y. in 1826 and graduated in 1830, 15th in a class of 42. Magruder served with distinction in both the Seminole wars and the Mexican War. In his personal life, he married Henrietta Von Kapff of Baltimore, Maryland and the heiress of a fortune. The couple had three children, two girls and one boy.
          Nicknamed "Prince John" by his Army friends because of his love for military finery, pomp and ceremony, and his bon vivant appetites, he resigned from the U.S. Army April 20, 1861, shortly  after Virginia seceded, and accepted a commission in the Confederate Army on May 21, 1861 as colonel. He was then promoted to brigadier  general June 17, 1861 and to major general on October 7, 1861.
          Magruder got off to a good start, commanding Confederate troops in a victory at the Battle of Big Bethel, Virginia on June 10, 1861. He didn't, however, measure up to General Robert E. Lee's expectations in the Seven Days Battles in June and July, 1862 around Richmond. General Joseph E. Johnston was also reportedly disappointed with Magruder. President Jefferson Davis wasn't ready to give up on him and assigned him on October 10, 1862 to the command of the Department of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. This proved to be an excellent decision for all  concerned. While as a subordinate commander he may have been a disappoint, Magruder proved to be an excellent and energetic independent commander.
           Magruder made the long trip to Texas and set up command in Houston on November 29, 1862 at the Fannin House Hotel. He immediately began drawing up a daring plan to take back Galveston, the largest city and most active Texas port. Galveston was held by a small fleet of Union gunboats and transports, a detachment of Marines and less than 300 men from the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry, which was too small to physically occupy the city and administer the local government. Plans were in progress to send in more reinforcements and occupy Houston, which was the major railroad hub and key to controlling Texas. With little manpower, Magruder cobbled together a force that included two "cottonclad" steamboats, the Neptune and Bayou City, 300 volunteer sharpshooters on the boats, 1,500 men on foot and 12 pieces of artillery. Crossing from the mainland on a railroad bridge that had been left intact, the attack began at 4 a.m. on January 1, 1863. Personally leading the land forces, Magruder fired the first cannon to signal his men to commence firing.
           The Union gunboats returned fire and was overwhelming the Confederate land forces. The attack on the Massachusetts infantry on Kuhn's Wharf failed when it was found the scaling ladders were too short. However the tide of battle turned when the cottonclads aggressively engaged the enemy gunboats. The Bayou Lane attacked the U. S. S. Harriet Lane, but the cottonclad's artillery piece exploded and it missed an attempted ram of the Union vessel. The Neptune then successfully rammed the Harriet Lane and the sharpshooters decimated the Union bluejackets topside. The Texans then boarded the enemy ship and captured the vessel. The Union commander, Commodore W. B. Renshaw on the U. S. S. Westfield, thought he was being attacked by Confederate ironclads. During a temporary cease fire, Renshaw ordered his other ships out of the harbor. Renshaw was killed when the Westfield, which had been grounded, demolition charge went off prematurely. The victory was the only time Confederates took back a captured port and held it until the end of the war. Magruder became a hero to Texans and throughout the Confederacy.
Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder
(Cabinet card, M. Jones Collection)
          Other victories followed, including the sinking of the U. S. S. Hatteras off the coast by the C. S. S. Alabama on January 11, 1863, the capture of two blockade ships on January 21, 1863 and the Battle  of Sabine Pass, Texas on September 8,  1863. The Federals then successfully invaded South Texas in November, 1863 but Magruder was able to contain the invasion by setting up a strong defense line that kept the Union forces away from the main population areas of Houston and Galveston, San Antonio and Austin. Most of the Federals were withdrawn to take part in the Red River Campaign in the spring of 1864.
        Magruder was transferred to Camden, Arkansas in August, 1864 where he commanded Confederate troops there and where he was noted to command  in his usual royal style. An expected invasion of Federals into South Arkansas never materialized and Magruder was transferred back to Texas in March, 1865 and reestablished his command in Houston, where he ended the war. Magruder went into self-exile in Mexico but refused service in either of the armies in that nation's own civil war. However Magruder continued his dress in a tailor made suit befitting of a major general, described as being "salt and pepper color, with a tall dove-colored hat, and patent leather boots." He returned to the United States in 1869 and supported himself by speaking engagements.on the former Emperor Maxilimilian and Empress Carlota of Mexico, his exploits in the Mexican War and the War for Southern Independence. He traveled extensively to New York, Mobile, New Orleans and back to Galveston. He charged $1 per ticket for his lectures. Finally, suffering heart trouble, and out  of funds, he moved into a room at the Hutchin's House hotel in Houston, paid for by his former aid, Edward Turner, a local attorney. He died there on February 18, 1871 and was first buried in Houston's Episcopal cemetery. However the grateful citizens of Galveston had his body moved and reburied in that city's Episcopal cemetery with a suitably elaborate monument over his grave.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


The Richmond Daily Dispatch
Nov. 6, 1862

U.S.S. Harriet Lane was among the occupying Northern ships in Galveston.
(U.S. Naval Historical Center)
          GALVESTON, Texas -- We have given the particulars of the successful attack of the Federal ships on Galveston. An setting Mayor was appointed by the citizens to surrender the town, and went on board the Federal flag-ship with two or three citizens. He requested Commodore Renshaw to communicate to him his intentions in regard to the city, informing him at the same time of the abandonment of the city by the military, of the absence of the Mayor and City Council, and of his appointment as Mayor pro tem by a meeting of citizens. The following are the incidents of this mortifying surrender.
          Commodore Renshaw replied that he had come for the purpose of taking possession of the city; that the city was at his mercy under his guns; that he should not interfere with the municipal affairs of the city; that the citizens might go on and conduct their business as heretofore; that he did not intend to occupy the city for the present, and until the arrival of a military commander; but that he intended to hoist the U. S. flag upon the public buildings, and that the flag should be respected. Whereupon the Mayor pro tem answered that he could not guarantee to him the protection of the flag — that he would do everything in his power — but that persons over whom he had no control might take down the flag and create a difficulty.
           Commodore Renshaw replied that, although in his previous communications with the Military Committee, he had insisted that the flag should be protected by the city, still he thought it would be onerous upon the good citizens, and to avoid any difficulty like that which occurred in New Orleans, he would waive that point, and when he sent the flag ashore he would send a sufficient force to protect it, and that he would not keep the flag flying for more than a quarter to half an hour, sufficient to show the absolute possession. Commodore Renshaw further said that he would insist upon the right of any of his men in charge of an officer to come on shore and walk the streets of the city, but that he would not permit his men to come on shore indiscriminately, or in the night; that, should his men insult citizens, he gave the Mayor the right to arrest and report them to him, when he would punish them more rigidly than we possibly could; but, on the other hand, should any of his men be insulted or shot at in the streets of Galveston, or any of his ships or boats be shot at from the land or wharves, he would hold the city responsible, and open his broadsides on the same instantly; that his guns were kept shotted and double shotted for that purpose; that it was the determination of his Government to hold Galveston at all hazards until the end of the war, and that we could not take the port from him without a navy.
           The Mayor pro tem asked his intentions in relation to the railroad bridged. The answer was at first declined; but afterwards, in conversation, he stated that he did not desire the destruction of the bridge if he was not interfered with; that he would permit the train to run up to this side of the bridge with previsions, which must be carried from there to town in vehicles. The train would not be permitted to run to town, and no communication whatever should be held by water.
Commander Renshaw stated in conclusion, that he had already advised the Admiral to send a cargo of flour, to which our party said nothing, and departed.
           Shortly after the return of the Mayor and party a detachment of about 150 marines and sailors, including about half a dozen negroes, was sent ashore from the fleet, which landed at Kuhn's wharf, and proceeded silently to the Custom-House, on which, without any interference or demonstrations by the by standers, they raised the U. S. flag.
            After half an hour (at 3 P. M.) the flag was quietly taken down, and the detachment marched back through the same streets to their boats, and returned to the fleet. The Mayor pro tem, and Thomas M. League, Esq., subsequently (at 4 P. M.) addressed the people at the market, stating the substance of their interview with the Federal commander.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Uniformed as a Zouave of Company B of Wheat's Louisiana Tiger Battalion,
Michael Dan Jones, author of The Tiger Rifles: The Making of a Louisiana Legend,
talks about his book at the Nov. 1 meeting of the Civil War Round Table of Central
 Louisiana at the First United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Louisiana.
(Photo by  Richard Holloway)

 Amazing Story of Louisiana Tigers Told

           ALEXANDRIA, La. -- From the First Battle of Manassas, Va. on July 21, 1861 to the Seven Days Campaign around  Richmond, Va., the Tiger Rifles, Company B, 1st Special Battalion (Wheat's Louisiana Volunteers, wrote a blazing history in blood that resonates to this day in the Pelican State.
          Michael Dan Jones, author of The Tiger Rifles: The Making of a Louisiana Legend, told the story of the Louisiana Tigers at the Nov. 1 meeting of the Civil War Round Table of Central Louisiana at First United Methodist Church.
         Jones said this legendary Louisiana military unit lives on to this day in the team name of the L. S. U. Tigers, and the 256th Infantry Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard. He noted when L. S. U. chose its team name in 1896, it honored the Louisiana Tigers of the Confederate Army. The 256th Infantry chose as its name the "Tigers," and traces its lineage back to the  Louisiana Tigers of  Gen. Robert E. Lee's  Army of Northern Virginia.
       He said among the reasons for the fame of the Louisiana troops was their leaders, Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat, commander of the battalion, and Captain Alexander White, commander of Company B, the Tiger Rifles, which sparked so much interest from the press.
       Wheat had gained fame in the 1850s as a daring soldier of fortune in Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico and was locally popular in New Orleans. Captain White, whose very name is believed to be an alias, was one of the most mysterious, and dangerous men in the Confederacy. White was rumored to be the son of a Kentucky governor who killed a man in a card game, and then fled the state and changed his name. He then became a Mississippi River steamboat man who was both feared and admired by the rough men who worked under him on the river. When he organized a military company in April 1861 in New Orleans, river men flocked to his recruiting booth and it took just days for him raise the required number of recruits. They chose as their name the Tiger Rifles, and were uniformed in flamboyant Zouave uniforms which further set them apart from ordinary soldiers.
Reenactor Luke Jones portrays a
a Louisiana Tiger 'on the prowl.'
(Photo by Mike Jones)
           Jones noted Wheat courted the press coverage and the flashy Zouave uniforms of Company B brought further media attention. They then showed they were real soldiers at the First Battle of Manassas when the Tigers helped save the day for the Confederates in the first crucial hour of  the fight by holding off overwhelming numbers of northerners until Confederate reinforcements could come up to Henry House Hill and turn the tide of the  battle for the South. Major Wheat suffered but survived a near fatal wound and recovered enough to return to his command within two months.
         The author then told of the tragic fall and winter of 1861 when the Tigers went on drunken binges which resulted in the execution by firing squad of two of  the Zouaves, to restore order and discipline.
        He said the Tigers  nickname became attached to both the entirety of Wheat's Battalion and then all of the Louisiana troops in the Army of Northern Virginia. The Louisianians became some of the most feared and effective troops in the Confederate Army.
          The Tigers enhanced their reputation in Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign in the Spring and Summer of 1862. The author noted the Tigers, serving under Brigadier General Richard Taylor, were called on again and again to lead charges and save the day for Jackson during the battles of Front Royal, Middletown, Winchester, Cross Keys and Port Republic.
            Jones said the the Battle of Port Republic was particularly bloody and is where Captain White was severely wounded. The Tigers were given little rest before they were thrown into the Seven Days Battles around Richmond, Virginia in the summer of 1862. The Louisiana Tigers fought in the Battle of Gaines' Mill on June 27, 1862, where Major Wheat was killed in action, and the Battle of Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862. By the end of all of this fighting, Wheat's Battalion had been reduced to less than 100 men fit for duty. The high command decided to dissolve fragmentary units like this and assign the men to other Louisiana units. Thus  the story of the Tiger Rifles ended in August of 1862. But in just 16 months of existence, the  Tigers became legends in their own time, and legends in Louisiana and War Between the States history to this very day.
                       For more information on Civil War Round Table of Central Louisiana, click here.