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  • John 9:31 am on November 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: civil war, dowling, sabine pass, thermopylae   

    Thermopylae of the Confederacy: Battle of Sabine Pass 

    Fort Griffin Layout. Then and Now. Photo by Mike Jones

    By Mike Jones

    In the actual battle, the Union was planning to invade Texas through Sabine Pass with an initial invasion force of 5,000 troops, four gunboats and 18 troop transports. The expedition was led by Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin for the Army, and Lt. Frederick Crocker for the Navy. Sabine Pass was defended by 1st Lt. Richard W. Dowling and his 47-man, Irish-Texan, contingent of Company F (Jefferson Davis Guards) of the 1st Texas Heavy Artillery in Fort Griffin, an earthen structure. Dowling had four 32-pounders and two 24-pounders at his disposal to defend against the attack.

    The battle opened at 6:30 o’clock in the morning of September 8, 1863 when the gunboat U.S.S. Clifton entered the pass to bombard the fort and reconnoiter the Confederate position. However Lieutenant Dick Dowling kept his men under cover to mask their numerical  weakness. After an hour of shelling, the Clifton withdrew. At 3:40 o’clock that afternoon, the assault began. The pass was divided up the middle by a long oyster reef, which divided it into the  Louisiana channel on the east and  the Texas channel on the west. The Clifton entered the Texas channel while  U.S.S. Sachem and U.S.S. Arizona steamed up the Louisiana channel. The U.S.S. Granite City was to escort the transports up the Texas channel to protect the transports off-loading the Union troops. The gunboats entered the pass and opened fire on the fort. The Irish-Texans had placed range markers in the pass during practice and were ready to zero in on the invading ships. Confederate gunners opened fire when the enemy ships reached the 1,200 yard range marker. After a few rounds, the steam drum of the Sachem exploded, scalding many men to death, and disabling the ship. The Arizona ran aground. The Clifton charged up the Texas channel but the Irish-Texan artillerymen blasted its tiller rope, causing it to run aground and also exploded its steam drum. The Arizona had to be pulled off the Louisiana shore, and the Granite City retreated and no troops were landed. The fleet soon turned around and headed back to New Orleans.

    Click to Enlarge.
    Original map credit: US National Archives.

    Texas was saved from invasion, and Houston and Beaumont were saved from the fate of other southern cities, like Atlanta and Vicksburg. The battle lasted only about 45 minutes but 56 U.S. sailors and soldiers were killed, about 350 captured, along with the gunboats Clifton and Sachem. Dowling and his men suffered no casualties at all. The  Davis Guards received the thanks of their country. Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder, Confederate commander of Texas,  honored the men with a special badge and the Davis Guards were presented special medals from the  citizens of Houston, the only such medal for valor issued to Confederate soldiers during the war. The Confederate Congress and President Jefferson Davis honored the Davis Guards with a special proclamation. Dowling said the fort fired 137 shells during the short battle.



    The South Defender blog:


  • John 11:52 am on August 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: civil war,   

    Alabama Burning – A list of Murders after the Civil War ended 

    The list below describes murders and other crimes against blacks in Alabama the year after the Civil War ended. It was compiled by the Freedmen’s Bureau.

    Obviously, the South was no place to be if you were black. Some of these descriptions are quite gruesome:

    List of Murders in the Dist. of Alabama 1866

    1. Freedman killed in Sumter County, January.
    2. Freedman killed in Russell County, February.
    3. Freedman killed near West Point, March.
    4. Freedman killed with an axe in Butler County. Three freedmen killed by two brothers in Shelby County, April.
    5. Freedman killed in Montgomery County, April. Freedman & freedwoman killed, thrown into a well in Jefferson Co., April.
    6. Freedman killed for refusing to sign a contract, Sumter Co., May. Freedman killed in Butler Co., clubbed, April.
    7. Freedman found hung by a grapevine in woods near Tuscaloosa, May.
    8. Freed girl beaten to death by two white men near Tuscaloosa, July.
    9. Freedman murdered between Danville & Somerville.
    10. Freedman shot dead while at his usual work, near Tuscaloosa, Sept.
    11. Freedman killed in Pike County, Sept.
    12. Negro murdered near Claiborne, Alabama, June.
    13. Freedman brought to hospital in Montgomery, shot through the head by unknown parties – died in few hours, Dec.
    14. Freedman murdered in Montgomery City, Jan. ’67.

    District of Alabama, 1866

    Jan. 4 – Bob Foreman cut at Union Springs.

    Jan. 2 – Alfred killed in Sumter County.

    Febry. 14 – Richard killed in Russell County near Columbus, Ga.

    March – Freedman killed near West Point.

    March – Bradley killed freedwoman with an axe. Montgy.

    March – Guard fired on & driven off when attempting to arrest the murderer, Butler Co.

    April 3 – Woman taken by three men out of her house in middle of night to swamp & badly whipped – beaten on head with pistol &c.

    April – Freedman killed near Saw Mill near Montgomery.

    April 27 – Freedman shot by Confed. Soldier wantonly near Livingston, Sumter Co.

    May 7 – Moore taken to woods & hung till nearly dead to make him tell who robbed a store, at Tuscaloosa.

    May 29 – Colored man killed by Lucian Jones for refusing to sign contract, in upper part of Sumter Co.

    May 30 – Mulatto hung by grapevine near roadside between Tuscaloosa & Greensboro.

    May 29 – Richard Dick’s wife beaten with club by her employer. Richard remonstrated – in the night was taken from his house and whipped nearly to death with a buggy trace by son of the employer & two others.

    June 16 – Mr. Alexander, colored preacher, brutally beaten & forced to leave his house at Auburn, Ala.

    July – Band armed men came to house of Eliz. Adams, threatened to kill her & her sister if they did not leave the county, abused & beat them. (illegible) Franklin & (illegible) started to report outrage, not heard from afterward.

    July 16 – Black girl beaten to death by Washington and Greene McKinney, 18 miles west of Tuscaloosa.

    July 23 – White man named Cook murdered a Negro between Danville & Somerville.

    Sept. 14 – Black man picking fodder in a field shot dead — & another who had difficulty with a white man abducted & supposed to have been murdered near Tuscaloosa.

    Sept. 3 – Murderous assault upon returned black Union soldier in Blount Co.

    Sept. 12 – Assault & firing upon a freedman in Greenville.

    Dec. 18 – R. S. Lee of Butler Co. brutally assaulted a freedwoman of Sumner.

    Dec. 18 – Same man assaulted with intent to kill Peter Golston, freedman.

    Dec. 18 – Wm. Lee, son of above shot Morris Golston on 10th December.

    Dec. 17 – Enoch Hicks & party burned school house in Greenville in Sumner – assaulted Union soldier &c. Judge Bragg & son mercilessly beat wife & daughter of James, freedman & drew pistol on James. Kell Forrest beat wife of colored man George.

    July 16 – Mrs. Prus beat Eve & her children. Henry Calloway beat freedwoman Nancy with buck, wounding her severely in the head. J. Howard & nephew beat & shot at Frank. Jno. Black attempted to kill Jim Sneethen with an axe. Jack McLeonard whipped his freedwoman mercilessly. Lee Davidson tied freedwoman up by wrists & beat her severely. Frank Pinkston cutting freedman Alfred with knife. Louisa’s husband murdered by unknown white man.

    July 26 – Jno. Dunn beat freedwoman severely – trial a farce. Jas. Pryor, 8 miles from Greenville, assaulted freedman & committed outrage on a freedwoman.

    July 18 – One Yerby set fire to colored chc. Near Tuscaloosa, threatened to kill black man who saw him do it.

    June – Negro murdered by one Humphreys residing near Claiborne, Ala. Miss. J. B. Peck, Wetumpka, reports outrages on a family of freedmen by one Jennings.

    August – Gang of ruffians in Clarke Co. set fire to house & fired on family as they ran from it – one killed, two wounded.

    February 1866 – Freedwoman beaten with club by her employer near Selma, head cut in most shocking manner.

    June 1866 – Freedman shot while at his usual work by his employer for threatening to report his abusive conduct to the authorities of the Bureau – Mobile.

    June 1866 – Freedwoman severely burned by a Policeman while in the guard house – Montgomery.

    July 1866 – Demopolis, colored boy 13 years old struck violent blow in eye with club in hand of his employer.

    Sept. 1866 – Demopolis, freedwoman wounded in arms, head by heavy club in hands of her employer.

    Sept. 1866 – Freedwoman wounded in hand by violence from her employer Wm. Robinson.

    Sept. 1866 – James Thompson, frme., severe wounds on breast & side by knife in hands Dormer Thomas.

    December 1866 – Freedman killed by parties unknown, brought to hospital in dying condition, shot through brain.

    January 25 – Freedwoman stabbed by Ballard six miles below Montgomery.


    Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Alabama
    Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865 – 1870
    National Archives Publication M809 Roll 23
    “Miscellaneous Papers”

  • John 8:59 am on July 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , civil war, dancing, juba   

    Master Juba – One of the First Black Performers 

    Master Juba (ca. 1825 – ca. 1852 or 1853) was an African American dancer active in the 1840s. He was one of the first black performers in the United States to play onstage for white audiences and the only one of the era to tour with a white minstrel group. His real name was believed to be William Henry Lane, and he was also known as “Boz’s Juba” following Dickens‘s graphic description of him in American Notes.

    An anonymous letter from 1841 or early 1842 in the tabloid newspaper the Sunday Flash states that Juba was working for showman P. T. Barnum. The writer stated that Barnum had managed the dancer since 1840, when he had disguised the boy as a white minstrel performer—by making him up in blackface—and put him on at the New York Vauxhall Gardens. In 1841, the letter alleges, Barnum went so far as to present his charge as the Irish-American performer John Diamond, the most celebrated dancer of the day. The letter further accuses Barnum of entering Juba-as-Diamond in rigged dance competitions against other performers:

    The boy is fifteen or sixteen years of age; his name is “Juba;” and to do him justice, he is a very fair dancer. He is of harmless and inoffensive disposition, and is not, I sincerely believe, aware of the meanness and audacity of the swindler to which he is presently a party. As to the wagers which the bills daily blazon forth, they are like the rest of his business—all a cheat. Not one dollar is ever bet or staked, and the pretended judges who aid in the farce, are mere blowers.

    As a teenager, he began his career in the rough saloons and dance halls of Manhattan‘s Five Points neighborhood, moving on to minstrel shows in the mid-1840s. “Master Juba” frequently challenged and defeated the best white dancers, including the period favorite, John Diamond. At the height of his American career, Juba’s act featured a sequence in which he imitated a series of famous dancers of the day and closed by performing in his own style.

    In 1848 “Boz’s Juba” traveled to London with the Ethiopian Serenaders, an otherwise white minstrel troupe. Boz’s Juba became a sensation in Britain for his dance style. He was a critical favorite and the most written about performer of the 1848 season. Nevertheless, an element of exploitation followed him through the British Isles, with writers treating him as an exhibit on display. Records next place Juba in both Britain and America in the early 1850s. His American critics were less kind, and Juba faded from the limelight. He died in 1852 or 1853, likely from overwork and malnutrition. He was largely forgotten by historians until a 1947 article by Marian Hannah Winter resurrected his story.

    Existing documents offer confused accounts of Juba’s dancing style, but certain themes emerge: it was percussive, varied in tempo, lightning-fast at times, expressive, and unlike anything seen before. The dance likely incorporated both European folk steps, such as the Irish jig, and African-derived steps used by plantation slaves, such as the walkaround. Prior to Juba’s career, the dance of blackface performance was more faithful to black culture than its other aspects, but as blackfaced clowns and minstrels adopted elements of his style, Juba further enhanced this authenticity. By having an effect upon blackface performance, Juba was highly influential on the development of such American dance styles as tapjazz, and step dancing.

    A recent show portraying the type of dancing that Juba was famous for:

    Beginning in the early 1840s, Juba began a series of dance competitions known as challenge dances. He faced white rival John Diamond, who advertised that he “delineate[d] the Ethiopian character superior to any other white person”. Sources disagree about the date of their first contest; it may have occurred while Diamond was still working for Barnum or a year or two later. This advertisement from the July 8, 1844, New York Herald is typical of the publicity the matches generated:

    Great Public Contest

    Between the two most renowned dancers in the world, the Original JOHN DIAMOND and the colored boy JUBA, for a Wager of $200, on monday evening July 8th at the bowery amphitheatre, which building has been expressly hired from the Proprietor, Mr. Smith, for this night only, as its accommodations will afford all a fair view of each step of these wonderful Dancers. The fame of these two Celebrated Breakdown Dancers has already spread over the Union, and the numerous friends of each claim the Championship for their favorite, and who have anxiously wished for a Public Trial between them and thus known which is to bear the Title of the Champion Dancer of the World. The time to decide that has come, as the friends of Juba have challenged the world to produce his superior in the art for $100. That Challenge has been accepted by the friends of Diamond, and on Monday Evening they meet and Dance three Jigs, Two Reels, and the Camptown Hornpipe. Five Judges have been selected for their ability and knowledge of the Art, so that a fair decision will be made.

    Rule—Each Dancer will select his own Violin and the victory will be decided by the best time and the greatest number of steps.

    Typical Juba show advertisement from that era




    Google Images


  • John 12:42 pm on July 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , civil war, , confederate, mississippi, south,   

    The Windsor Ruins in Mississippi 

    The Windsor Plantation at one time covered 2,600 acres (11 km²). Smith Coffee Daniell II, who was born in Mississippi in 1826, the son of an Indian fighter turned farmer and landowner, constructed the mansion itself in 1859-1861. In 1849 he married his cousin Catherine Freeland (1830–1903) by whom he had three children.

    Windsor Ruins

    Basic construction of the house, which was designed by David Shroder (Shroder also designed and built Rosswood, which is located in Lorman) was done by slave labor. The bricks for use in the 45 foot columns were made in a kiln across the road from the house. The columns were then covered with mortar and plaster. There were 29 of these columns supporting the projecting roof line with its plain, broad frieze and molded cornice. This provided protection for the galleries that encompassed the house at the second and third levels. The fluted columns had iron Corinthian capitals and were joined at the galleries by an ornamental iron balustrade.

    Skilled carpenters were brought in from New England for the finished woodwork and the iron stairs, column capitals and balustrades were manufactured in St. Louis and shipped down the Mississippi River to the Port of Bruinsburg several miles west of Windsor.

    Windsor Ruins

    The mansion cost about $175,000.00 (equal to $4,526,667 today) to build and was completed in 1861. However Smith Daniell lived in the home only a few weeks before he died at the age of 34.

    When completed, the home contained over 25 rooms, each with its own fireplace and, among other innovations, featured interior baths supplied with water from a tank in the attic.

    On the Main floor, flanking the broad hall, were the master bedroom, a bath, 2 parlors, a study and the library. In the ell off this part of the structure was located the dining room. Directly below in the above ground basement was the kitchen, with the two connected by a dumbwaiter. Also in this basement were a school room, an on-site dairy, several storage rooms, a commissary and a doctor’s office.

    Marker at the Site

    On the third floor were an additional bath and 9 more bedrooms, each with their own fireplace.

    Above the smaller 4th floor (which had a ballroom, but was never finished) there was a roof-top observatory.

    During the American Civil War, the home was used by both Union and Confederate troops.

    Confederate forces used the roof observatory as an observation platform and signal station. After the capture of the area by Union forces, the mansion was used as a hospital following the Battle of Port Gibson and as an observation station.

    The home survived the war and continued to be used for social gatherings in the area. Mark Twain stayed at the home and is said to have used the roof observatory to observe the Mississippi River.

    On 17 February 1890, a guest left a lighted cigar on a balcony (it is also said that someone dropped a cigar or cigarette in a pile of wood chips left by carpenters working on the 3rd floor). The family said the fire started around 3:00 in the afternoon. Having planned a seated dinner, they had gone into town to pick up the mail. As they were riding back, they saw flames shooting through the shingled roof. The fire burned from top to bottom making it impossible to extinguish, and the house was completely destroyed in the conflagration.

    The only remnants today are 23 haunting columns, a few pieces of china, and a set of the wrought-iron stairs and portions of the balustrade. The flight of stairs and the balustrade are now used at Alcorn State University’s chapel down the road.

    Take a Tour:

  • John 11:45 am on June 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: civil war, , confederate solider,   

    Rare Photo of Confederate Soldiers 

    Confederate Soldiers

    Not many photos exist of Confederates in the field. This one is quite awesome!

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