VIRGINIA: SCV Demands Apology from Washington & Lee
LEXINGTON, Va. — The Stonewall Brigade, Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp #1296 is calling upon Washington & Lee University President, Kenneth P. Ruscio, to apologize for what it calls the school’s mistreatment of a 15-year-old boy over the weekend.
Meanwhile, university officials deny the allegations being brought against it. Brian Eckert, the spokesperson for Washington and Lee, stated there is no indication the incident took place. He also denied an on-camera interview.
According to the SCV, the boy attended the group’s rally on Saturday, July 26 and gave the following account of his mistreatment in his own words:
“Since it was my first time in Lexington I wanted to see the Lee Chapel and the grave of Lee’s horse Traveller. As I began to head for the Lee Chapel, a [campus] Police Officer stopped me and said that I could not enter the campus property with my Battle Flag or any images of Confederate Flags on any of my possessions including my clothing. I really wanted to pay my respects to General Lee and Traveller so I had to turn my shirt inside-out, take off my hat, and take off my badge.”
SVC said it’s questioning if this is the reception thousands of visitors to Lexington and Lee Chapel can expect to receive in the future. The group said the majority of visitors are Civil War history enthusiasts and many can be expected to wear items with flags or other images related to the Confederacy.
The group also says the university improperly blocked the main access road to Virginia Military Institute and made it nearly impossible for visitors to get to the VMI Museum, George C. Marshall Museum and VMI Post to find their way onto that campus.
The SVC is asking Washington & Lee to issue an apology, abide by its own mission statement and not obstruct freedom of expression and thought and respect others viewpoints.
The university temporarily closed Lee Chapel this weekend citing safety concerns over the SCC’s Confederate battle flag rally. The rally was in response to the school’s decision to remove Confederate battle flags from Lee Chapel.
NORTH CAROLINA: N.C. Dept. of Cultural Resources Examines Civil War Medicine
KINSTON — CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center will present “Civil War Surgery & Medicine” examining medicine and surgery at home and on the battlefield during the Civil War. The origins of modern triage practices can be traced back to the difficult choices made on the battlefield. Gary Riggs will display medicine and surgical equipment used and discuss the types of procedures they were used to perform.
The program commemorates the sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, of the Civil War and will be held Aug. 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is also the final offering of the three month long popular program “2nd Saturdays.”
The ladies of the Tar Heel Civilians will portray and discuss the role of women in roles such as nurses, rolling bandages and gathering supplies to make and send hospital boxes. In addition to battle wounds, many soldiers died because of infection or illness due to lack of modern medical technology.
To commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, North Carolina’s State Historic Sites Division and History Museums Division will be hosting programs that focus on Freedom, Sacrifice and Memory. For a full list of these events visithttp://www.nccivilwar150.com.
At the CSS Neuse Interpretive Center, learn about the ironclad gunboat and watch a new museum take shape. The Confederate Navy launched the ill-fated Neuse in a futile attempt to regain control of the lower Neuse River and the city of New Bern. The CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center is located at 100 N. Queen St., Kinston, N.C. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Gov. Caswell Memorial is located at 2612 W. Vernon Ave., Kinston, N.C. Hours are Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sites are closed Sunday and Monday, and most major holidays.
For information, please contact Holly Brown at 252-526-9600 ext. 223 or email email@example.com. Visit the site on Facebook at the “CSS Neuse” or “Gov. Richard Caswell Memorial State Historic Site” pages. The sites are administered by the Division of State Historic Sites within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.
INDIANA: Voices From the Civil War
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman once said, “War is hell.”
Spencerville author and historical researcher Margaret Hobson says that was perhaps never more true than during that war, now marking its sesquicentennial.
For the past two decades, the 71-year-old retired Fort Wayne Community Schools math teacher has been compiling exhaustive information on one small part of the Civil War – the men of Indiana’s 44th regiment who faced their singular versions of hell after mustering for the Union at Fort Wayne’s Camp Allen in November 1861.
The soldiers, Hobson says, thought they were signing up for a brief adventure, a chance to leave northeast Indiana behind and see the world.
“The men thought it would be a six-week affair, that the Union would win easily, and they thought they would be home to plant crops in the spring. They didn’t realize it would be four years,” she says.
Four years of bloody battles, long and underequipped marches across the South, sickness and, of course, death.
Of the 478 men who fought at one of the 44th’s major battles, Shiloh in 1863, 177 were killed or wounded, the highest of any regiment at that battle, one of the bloodiest of the war.
For every soldier of the 44th who died of wounds, two died from disease. About 18 percent of the original 952 enlistees did not make it to war’s end.
Hobson says she learned about the regiment when she began researching her mother’s family history. She found a branch of her mother’s family, the Griffiths of Hamilton in Steuben County, had three brothers who served in the Union Army. One went into the 44th, and when she found a regimental history compiled by its surgeon, she started reading it.
“I was just sucked in,” she says.
Wanting to share the information with her family, she made a copy of the rare book. And, curiosity piqued, she started following trails to learn more about each of the regiment’s soldiers, who eventually numbered 2,012.
She went to the Indiana State Archives in Indianapolis – where she found original muster rolls of eight of the 10 companies – the state library and the Indiana Historical Society. She combed regional newspapers’ archives for soldiers’ obituaries, war coverage and letters to the editor they had written while serving.
She made trips to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and used online genealogical sources. She created her own computer database to keep track of the soldiers, nearly 100 of whom had signed their enlistment papers with an “X” because they could not read or write.
As her research continued, Hobson was often led to the soldiers’ descendants and their own historical troves – from portraits and photos to letters and diaries, including eight diaries from men from the DeKalb County area alone.
“People were very generous. I don’t think I was ever turned down,” Hobson says of the frequent requests she made for information.
The result will soon become a three-volume history on the regiment. Her first, the 400-page “The Iron Men of Indiana’s 44th Regiment, Part 1: Biographies and Statistics,” came out several years ago, followed by “The Voices of Indiana’s 44th Regiment, Part 2: Formation and Photos,” which tells more about the outfit’s colonels and companies, concentrating on the time at Camp Allen. The book also contains complete court-martial transcripts and about 250 photos.
Hobson’s third volume, on the battles and other assignments in which the men participated during the war, is scheduled for release in November. Like Volume 2, much is told in the soldiers’ own words, which she found fascinating, as they told of bathing once a month, body lice, being on half-rations and disgust at their commanders when they were not allowed to go to a nearby farmhouse for water.
The third book, like the others, will be self-published by a local printer in a limited edition and available through Amazon.com and The History Center gift shop in Fort Wayne. Hobson says her goal is to make her information available to local historians and soldiers’ family researchers, not making money.
“From the beginning, it’s been a labor of love,” she says, adding that the work kept her mind off a diagnosis of colon cancer. She now is a 16-year survivor.
What did the 44th do in the war? Most of its time was spent in Tennessee, where it tried to keep Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg at bay, Hobson says.
“When they left Shiloh, they marched over 900 miles,” she says. “They didn’t have tents. They didn’t have shoes. Anything they owned, they had to carry with them. It was amazing they survived.”
The route led through Tennessee and Mississippi, across Alabama, up to Lexington, Kentucky, and down to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where the regiment fought in the Battle of Stones River. Then it was on to the Battle of Chickamauga near northwest Georgia. After that, the 44th marched back to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where soldiers guarded the key supply town until being decommissioned in 1865.
At one point, around the time of the Battle of Perryville at Perryville, Kentucky, and when they were without a top commander, 20 men, apparently so disgusted at conditions and that they were not called to fight though they could hear the battle raging, deserted the regiment, Hobson found. Yet overall, the regiment had only a 4 percent desertion rate, lower than the Union’s average, she discovered.
During its service, the 44th had five colonels, each with a checkered history. One died in surgery after he fell off a railroad car and was run over by the train.
One was captured, then freed in a prisoner exchange, before he resigned. It was later disclosed that he had changed his name and had a secret wife.
Another left in ill health and died shortly after returning home.
The last returned to Elkhart and died in Michigan eight years after the war.
The first, Hugh B. Reed, a Fort Wayne druggist buried in Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne, is her favorite, Hobson says.
Duty called him to enlist, she says. He left his troops on a two-day pass in 1862 to return home, but he didn’t come back for a month, thinking an earlier request to recruit more soldiers would be honored. He was thrown in the brig and held for court-martial.
Under duress, he resigned, coming back to Fort Wayne for a time. But with his business in ruins, he left with his family for New Jersey.
Hobson says he was a broken man, likely suffering from what’s known today as post-traumatic stress disorder.
“After the Civil War, he became a recluse,” she says. She learned from family members that he spent most of his later life “just sitting in his chair.”
As for the ancestor who started her on her quest, Lewis W. Griffith, Hobson found that he started as a private in 1861 and served the entire four years, rising to captain. But, because this was war and war is, well, you know, there were wrinkles.
“He actually was court-martialed,” says Hobson, who published the affair’s entire transcript, along with all the others she found.
“He was sent up on three charges, with one being that he told a colonel to kiss his ass, and one being drunkenness. The other was gambling with the troops, but that was dismissed,” she says. “He was convicted on the first one and intoxication, but not drunkenness. He lost three months’ pay, but it didn’t hurt him any because he was made a captain, which I think speaks to how he was well-liked by the men.”
Hobson says that when she learned about the court-martial while researching at the National Archives, she didn’t tell her mother, thinking she would be mortified.
“I delayed a few days,” she says. “But what happened was that she got the biggest charge out of it. She remembered her relative as the kind of man who spoke his mind.”
After the war, Griffith was known for going to his soldiers’ funerals and was a pallbearer at some, Hobson says.
“I think that was not uncommon for many of the men (of the 44th),” she says. “They all had gone through something horrible. And I think it bonded them together.”
TENNESSEE: Man Believes He Found Civil War Graveyard
DOVER, Tenn. — Dan Griggs is a Civil War historian and his Dover museum is full of amazing artifacts. But he may have made the discovery of a lifetime using a divining rod.
“You keep it loosely in your hand at all times, and once you cross undisturbed ground, it will automatically turn on its own,” Griggs said.
Three weeks later, he has mapped out an incredible possible 3,536 graves.
“My findings would not stand up in court,” he said.
Griggs, however, is not without credibility.
He used his dowser to find the unmarked mass grave of 17 Confederate soldiers. There is now a monument for those soldiers in Dover.
These possible graves are under five different properties, including Darrell Watson’s, who believes the state should immediately come in and investigate.
State archeologist Michael Moore said he is very interested in seeing what’s in Dover, but the state doesn’t have the time, money or resources to investigate something that has been discovered using divining rods.
“What we need is an archaeologist to verify what is here and then as far as a monument or whatever for these boys, I will try to raise the money to get them one,” Griggs said.