Thursday, February 28, 2013

The To Fly Confederate Colors

The Confederate privateer the Rattlesnake ran aground February 28th 1863 on the Ogeechee River in Georgia and was destroyed by the USS Montauk.

Starting life as the USMS Nashville a United States Mail Service ship, she was a1221 ton side wheeler, passenger steam ship.  She was built in 1853 at Greenpoint in Brooklyn, New York.  As the Nashville from 1853 to 1861 she ran a route between New York City and Charleston, South Carolina.  When the bombing of Fort Sumter began in April 1861, the Nashville sailed in to Charleston Harbor not flying the US colors and was fire on by the USRC Harriet Lane.  The Nashville docked at Charleston and after Fort Sumter fell she was captured by the Confederates.

The Confederates fitted her out as a cruiser and placed her as the CSS Nashville under the command of Lieutenant Robert B Pegram.  On October 21st 1861 the Nashville ran the blockade and sailed for England, she became the first ship to fly the Confederate colors in English waters.  The Nashville returned to Beaufort, North Carolina in February 1862 after having captured prizes worth about $66,000.

She was sold as a blockade runner November 5th 1862 and commissioned as the privateer the Rattlesnake.  On February 28th 1863 she ran aground on Georgia’s Ogeechee River.  The USS Montauk fired on the Rattlesnake from a 15 inch turret gun destroying the ship.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hell Opened

Union prisoners of war began arriving at Camp Sumter, better known as Andersonville on February 27th 1864.

Andersonville began excepting Union POW’s on February 27th 1864.  The prison started out with 16.5 acres of land, it had a 15 foot high stockade.  The camp would be expanded in June 1864 to 26.5 acres, and the stockade finished off at 1,620 feet by 779 feet.  The stockade had two entrances, both located on the west side and known as the North entrance and the South entrance.  There was an interior fence, built about 19 feet inside the stockade, known as the dead line.  Any prisoners crossing or touching this line were shot by the sentries located in what the prisoners called the pigeon roosts.

The Union prisoners and the Confederate staff of Andersonville were undersupplied and what foods they received were of poor quality.  Men died from disease, exposure and malnutrition.  During a seven month period a third of the men held there died from dysentery and scurvy. In July 1864 five Union prisoners were sent north by Captain Heinrich H Wirz with a petition asking that the Union reinstate prisoner exchanges, hoping to relive conditions.  When their petition was denied all five of the men returned to their comrades at Andersonville.

From the time Andersonville opened until it closed it held some 45,000 soldiers, of these 13,000 lost their lives.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

He Turned In A Good Showing

Confederate Thomas Fentress Toon was elected Colonel of the 20th North Carolina February 26th 1863 following the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Thomas Fentress Toon was born in Columbus County, North Carolina June 10th 1840 the son of Anthony and Mary (McMillian) Toon.  He began his education at Wake Forest College, graduating after the start of the Civil War and his own enlistment.

Toon joined the 20th North Carolina Infantry, starting as their First Lieutenant and moving quickly to Captain.  After turning in a good showing at the battles of Seven Pines, South Mountain, and Fredericksburg, the men of the 20th elected Toon their Colonel.  He led his regiment at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Mine Run.  During the Overland Campaign, Toon took over command of the brigade, when his Brigadier General Robert D Johnston was wounded at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse.  He continued to lead the brigade during Lieutenant General Jubal Anderson Early’s raid on Washington, DC in July 1864.  Johnston returned to command in August and Toon went back to the 20th.  During the Confederate attack on Fort Stedman on March 25th 1865, he was wounded for the seventh time, ending his active duty.

Toon returned to North Carolina after the war ended.  He served as the superintendent of public instruction.  Toon died February 19th 1902 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  He is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Creating The Greenback

President Abraham Lincoln signed the “First Legal Tender Act” February 25th 1862, authorizing the issue of United States Notes for Legal Tender.

A private meeting, held between President Abraham Lincoln and Colonel Edmund Dick Taylor on January 16th 1862 led to the issuance of “greenbacks”.  Buffalo banker and Congressman Elbridge G Spaulding prepared a bill to speed its issue he introduced it to Congress in early February to permit the Unites States Treasury to issue $150 million in legal tender notes.  There was controversy in Congress over the bill being un-Constitutional, but Spaulding argued that the notes were a “necessary means of carrying into execution the powers granted in the Constitution 'to raise and support armies,' and 'to provide and maintain a navy.”  President Lincoln signed the First Legal Tender Act into law February 25th 1862 authorizing the issue of paper currency.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hung As A Confederate Spy

John Yates Beall was hung in New York City February 24th 1865 as a Confederate spy.

John Yates Beall was born January 1st 1835 on his family’s farm; Walnut Grove, in Jefferson County, Virginia the son of George Brooke and Janet (Yates) Beall.  He began the study of law at the University of Virginia, but after his father’s death in 1855 he left school to take up farming.  Beall joined the militia company known as “Bott’s Grays”.  They would be present at the hanging of John Brown December 2nd 1859.

When the Civil War started “Bott’s Grays” became Company G of the 2nd Virginia Infantry.  Beall was wounded in chest at the Battle of First Manassas, and deemed unfit for service.  Beall then took up the roll of privateer.  He tried to talk the Confederate government into giving him a commission to operate on the Great Lakes, but they declined fearing its effect on relations with England.  So with two boats and 18 men as crew he operated on the Potomac River and in the Chesapeake Bay.  Beall was captured in November of 1863 and after being exchanged in May 1864, he moved to the north shore of Lake Erie in Canada where he plotted to release Confederate Prisoners of War being held on Johnson’s Island.

When that plan failed Beall moved onto a plan to free some Confederate officers by derailing a train they were on.  This time Union authorities captured him and his companion George S Anderson at Niagara, New York on December 16th 1864.  Anderson agreed to testify against Beall for a lesser sentence.  Union General John Adams Dix ordered Beall’s trail to begin on January 17th 1865.  He was found guilty of guerrilla activities and spying against the Union by the military commission on February 8th 1865, and transported to Fort Columbus on Governors Island in the New York Harbor.  Appeals were made to save his life all the way up to Abraham Lincoln but no stay of execution was coming Beall’s way.  He was hung February 24th 1865.  He is buried in the Zion Episcopal Churchyard, in Charlestown, West Virginia.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Joining The Confederacy

Voters in Texas passed the Ordinance of Secession on February 23rd 1861, joining the Confederacy.

When the election of Abraham Lincoln set off the secession movement with South Carolina and then five other Deep Southern states, Texas opened a convention to consider joining them in leaving the Union.  The State Convention opened on January 28th 1861 in Austin, Texas with Oran Roberts as convention president.  On February 1st 1861 the convention voted 166 to 8 in favor of the Ordinance of Secession.  Texas voters approved the Ordinance on February 23rd 1861, allowing Texas to become a part of the Confederacy by a margin of 46,129 to 14,697.

Texas would go on to send men and equipment to support the Confederate fight.  They were also the key to bypassing the Union blockade, using their long border with Mexico for trade; it was sometimes called the “backdoor of the Confederacy”.  The last battle to be fought in the Civil War occurred at Palmito Ranch near Brownsville, Texas on May 12th and 13th 1865.

If you would like to read The Texas Ordinance of Secession is a good web site.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

He Has No Marker

Union Captain George Nicholas Bascom was killed February 21st 1862 in the Battle of Val Verde.

George Nicholas Bascom was born about 1837 in Owingsville, Bath, Kentucky.  He received an appointment to the United States Military Academy, where he graduated next to last in his class of 1858.  Bascom’s first posting was at Camp Floyd in Utah, and then in Arizona at Fort Buchanan where he was the 2nd Lieutenant on the United States 7th Infantry.  The Bascom Affair at Apache Pass in January 1861 is named for him.  He sent 54 troopers to look into a kidnapping of rancher John Ward’s stepson, and he had Cochise and some other Chiricahua Apache arrested and held as hostages.  It was that event that brought on the 1861 – 1872 Apache War.

When the Civil War started Bascom received a promotion to Captain of the United States 16th Infantry.  Before he could join his new regiment the 7th Infantry was moved to Fort Craig in the New Mexico Territory.  It was there on February 21st 1862 that Bascom was killed in action during the Battle of Val Verde.  He was buried at the post cemetery in Fort Craig.  After the fort was closed in 1885, his body was moved to the Santa Fe National Cemetery, but he has no marker.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Short Fight

Gen George Dibrell
As the Civil War wore down the Battle of Congaree Creek was fought February 15th 1865 in Richland County, South Carolina.

The Battle of Congaree Creek fought February 15th 1865 just south of Columbia in Richland County, South Carolina, lasted just four hours.  It was fought between a force of the Confederate and Union’s Army of Tennessee.  The two side meet along an earthwork built near the Old State Road Bridge where it crosses the Congaree Creek.

Confederate General George Dibrell manned the earthworks with artillery, infantry and dismounted cavalry.  Union General Charles Woods, commanding the First Division of the XV Corps, pushed out skirmishers along the front, while he sent a brigade upstream to try to turn the Confederates right flank.  Dibrell was forced to pull out of the earthworks.  He retreated to Columbia, but not before setting the Old State Road Bridge on fire.

The Union troops were able to put the fire out on the bridge.  Union General William T Sherman advance and on February 17th 1865 the city of Columbia surrendered to him.

If you would like to read more, check out The Battle of Congaree Creek

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What To Do With Federal Employees

The Confederate States Department of Treasury assumed the transfer of employment of Federal custom agents on February 14th 1861.

The Confederate States Department of the Treasury a department that handled the collecting of taxes, issuing of debt, and printing money, and led by the Secretary of the Treasury who was Robert Augustus Toombs.  It was created by the Provisional Confederate Congress in 1861.  The Department of the Treasury was not explicitly established by the Confederate Constitution.

One of the first acts handled by the Department was to assume the employment of Federal custom officials working in customs houses in Confederate held territory on February 14th 1861.  They were also authorized in early February 1861 by the Congress to print Confederate paper treasury notes up to the amount of one million dollars.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Farewell My Friends

Abraham Lincoln maybe his Farewell Address to his fellow citizens of Springfield, Illinois February 11th 1861.

The president elect Abraham Lincoln left Springfield, Illinois February 11th 1861 to travel to Washington, DC for his inauguration.  Several thousand of Lincoln’s fellow citizens gathered to send him on his way.  In response to this gathering Lincoln gave a Farewell Address from his railroad car at the Great Western Railroad Station, just before departing.

Shortly after the train got underway, Lincoln was asked to put the speech on paper.  The last few lines of the address were copied for Lincoln by his personal secretary John Nicolay.  A newspaper in Springfield published a second version of the speech a few days later.

"My friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell."

There are two versions of this speech, if you would like to see both Lincoln's Farewell Address in Springfield  is a good place to start.