Florida: Re-Enactors Celebrate Battle, Camp Life

The American Civil War was probably pretty difficult for all who took part. But with all the issues the soldiers and noncombatants faced in the 1860s, they didn’t have to worry about car alarms blaring.

Ray Furman in his 12th New Jersey Volunteers cap. Civil War reenactors recreated the Battle of Fort Myers Sunday as part of a program through the Collier County Public Library to increase knowledge of our area's history. PHOTO BY LANCE SHEARER

Union and Confederate forces staged mock battles behind Collier County’s South Regional Library over the weekend. The Battle of Gopher Ridge was recreated Saturday afternoon, and the Battle of Fort Myers Sunday, both at 1 p.m. sharp. “Battle” might be stretching it a little for what were really skirmishes with maybe 100 to 200 soldiers involved at Gopher Ridge, and 500 to 600 at Fort Myers.

Both engagements were part of the Union forces’ efforts to cut off the supply of Florida beef to the Confederate forces further north. The Battle of Gopher Ridge took place at Roberts Ranch near Immokalee, and resulted in a rebel victory. The Battle of Fort Myers, with black soldiers from the 2nd United States Colored Troops firing the cannon, resulted in a Union victory when the rebel forces failed to dislodge the northern garrison from the fort. In that battle, the casualties were one dead and three wounded on the Union side, and three wounded in the Confederate “cow cavalry,” mostly made up of drovers.

A major component of the mock fighting, and the one that made the biggest impression on the spectators, was when the two groups of soldiers fired their cannons at each other. On Sunday afternoon, the Union forces defending “Fort Myers,” a makeshift affair made from a collection of wooden pallets, had one field gun, and the attacking southerners had two.

Each force prepared their rounds meticulously, loading the black powder cartridge, tamping it home with the ramrod, and the cannoneers holding their ears waiting for the command to fire.

Then, thunder.

The guns crashed out, their booming explosions sending out lashing tongues of flame, the echoes reverberating between the library and the adjacent public safety building, and enveloping combatants and spectators alike in a thick haze of black powder smoke. And the car alarms in the nearby parking lots erupted en masse, apparently convinced the hostilities were aimed directly at them.

Speaking of aiming, most of the skirmishers made a point to aim their rifles, muskets and pistols over the heads of their opposite numbers, when it came time for small arms fire, although this was not universal. As reenactor in chief Lou Stickles explained to the gallery of about 100 spectators, they were presenting the battle in “one-tenth scale,” with a couple dozen soldiers representing the actual troops.

The reenactment showed not only fighting, but also its aftermath. Stickles and reenactor Matt Brabyn took the part of army surgeons, in a recreated field hospital, and gave demonstrations of state-of-the-art military medicine circa 1863.

“In the early stages of the war, wounds were still cauterized,” he said. “It was almost medieval medicine. They put mustard plasters on people with fevers, to sweat out the humors — the last thing you’d want if you have a high fever.”

Brabyn performed a (simulated) amputation, a very common Army surgical procedure. During the Civil War, though, the troops were often given a slug of whiskey, a leather strap to bite down on, and if they were lucky, a dose of chloroform. Rob Burns, playing the amputee, got the chloroform, but the surgeons kept the whiskey for themselves, sharing drams from a (simulated?) flask after they removed the arm and tossed it onto a pile of limbs, while the spectators watched.

Men and women in Civil War era clothing recreated the Battle of Gopher Ridge. Scott McIntyre/Staff

The crowd also strolled through the camp where the reenactors had been sleeping over the weekend, inspecting the period garb, medications, household supplies and weaponry on display. The people who do the reenactments, turning themselves into living, breathing museum displays — and, as they point out, for no pay — are meticulous with their gear and attire, and put a great deal of work and attention into getting things right.Some have elaborate backstories for their characters. Wendy Voss, in an ankle-length dress, apron, bonnet and wire-rimmed spectacles, told the story of following the army, and eventually making a living as a seamstress, drawing sergeant’s wages of $23 a month.

“We loved it,” said Anna DiMercurio, who brought her five children to witness the reenactment. “It’s always important to experience our history.” Her son Dominic, 11, was asked what was his favorite part.

“When they were moving forward. It makes me feel good the Union won,” he said. Lucky for him he wasn’t there Saturday.

-Lance Shearer, Naples Daily News



Mississippi: Conference Explores Civil War Imprint on Southern Culture

For more than 150 years, America’s Civil War has influenced not only military leaders and historians, but also legions of creative people. How creative people have reacted to the war will be the focus of the 24th annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration Feb. 21-24, according to Carolyn Vance Smith of Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Smith and Copiah-Lincoln founded the award-winning, annual conference in 1990. The 2013 conference occurs in the midst of national observances of the Civil War (1861-1865). “The agenda is full of references to the war in the fields of fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, film, music, painting, sculpture and re-enacting,” Smith notes.

The conference will also explore physical references to the war in the form of historical Natchez homes, churches, cemeteries and other sites.

“The great conflict between the North and the South indeed ended in 1965, but its impact continues to resonate,” Smith says. “Some of the world’s most powerful books, films, music and artistic creation are based on this war.”

Keynote speaker on the evening of Feb. 21 is noted professor and author William Cooper of Louisiana State University, whose program is called, “1863: Year of Critical Decisions.” Cooper is author of Jefferson Davis and the Civil War Era andWe Have the War Upon Us: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861.

Other speakers, most of whom are noted authors, and their topics include:

• Jay Watson, University of Mississippi professor, Faulkner’s Civil Wars • Gaines M. Foster, Louisiana State University professor, Celebrating the Sesquicentennial: Complexities and Ambiguities in Remembering the Civil War • Maryemma Graham, University of Kansas professor, and C. B. Claiborne, Texas Southern University professor, Reading/Seeing Between the Lines: Fact and Fiction in ‘Miss Jane Pittman’ and Subsequent Slave Narratives • J. Parker Hills, military historian of Clinton, MS, Art of Commemoration: Vicksburg National Military Park • Jefferson G. Mansell, historian with the Natchez National Historical Park, Now Occupied for Public Use: The Houses of Natchez Behind Enemy Lines • R. Lee Hadden, Civil War re-enactment expert of Sterling, VA, Re-enactment: History by the People, of the People, and for the People

Also on the program are three Civil War-inspired films:

• Cold Mountain, with discussion led by James Wiggins, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Natchez, MS • The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, with discussion led by Wiggins and Graham • Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel, a Georgia Public Broadcasting film about the author of Gone with the Wind

In addition, on Feb. 24 will be tours of sites associated with the Civil War. The Feb. 24 morning tour is of two National Historic Landmark mansions, Longwood and Rosalie. Under construction when war broke out, Longwood has stood unfinished for decades because northern workmen stopped their work in 1861 to return home. Rosalie, with its commanding view of the river, was Union headquarters during the war. The Feb. 24 afternoon tour is of four sites, which include Forks of the Road, where slaves were bought and sold until 1863; The Burn, a mansion inside the Union’s Fort McPherson, now home of Bridget and Glenn Green; Natchez City Cemetery, where people associated with the war are buried; and Natchez National Cemetery, where Civil War forces lie buried.

Music of the Civil War is the theme of a concert Feb. 23 at Zion Chapel A.M.E. Church, sponsored by the NLCC, Natchez Festival of Music and University of Southern Mississippi. Additional music inspired by the war will be performed Feb. 22 after lunch at the Carriage House at Stanton Hall by re-enactors Jim Woodrick and Tim Waltman, both of Jackson, MS.

An awards ceremony Feb. 23 will honor three outstanding writers, two of whom will win the Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award. One is Jesmyn Ward, University of South Alabama professor and author of Where the Line Bleeds and Salvage the Bones, which won the 2011 National Book Award. The other is Curtis Wilkie, University of Mississippi professor, award-winning writer for The Boston Globe newspaper and author of The Fall of the House of Zeus: The Rise and Ruin of America’s Most Powerful Trial LawyerDixie: A Personal Odyssey Through Events That Shaped the Modern South and Arkansas Mischief.

Winning the Horton Foote Award for Special Achievement in Screenwriting is John Lee Hancock, Los Angeles, Calif., formerly of Longview, TX, screenwriter of A Perfect World, Hard Time Romance, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, L.A. Doctors, The Alamo, The Rookie andThe Blind Side.

Receiving the Thad Cochran Humanities Achievement Award Feb. 22 is Cora Norman, Crossville, TN, director emerita of the Mississippi Humanities Council. Presenting the award is Thad Cochran (U.S. Senate – R.-Miss.).

A major social event that is free and open to the public is a 90th birthday party Feb. 21 honoring William F. Winter, Jackson, Miss., former governor of Mississippi and president emeritus, board of trustees, Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Winter has served as director of proceedings at every NLCC since the conference began in 1990. Hosting the party at The Briars and Briarvue, overlooking the Mississippi River, are property owners Kristy and Leon Atkins, the NLCC, Mississippi Humanities Council, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Mississippi Historical Society and Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Other social events include a reception at Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture and a gala benefit reception and supper honoring award winners and speakers at the mansion Magnolia Vale, beneath Fort McPherson at river’s edge, now home of David and Betty Paradise.

Most of the conference is free of charge. Ticketed events are a luncheon at the Carriage House Feb. 22; a reception at Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture; a benefit reception/supper at Magnolia Vale Feb. 23; a concert Feb. 23; a morning tour of two mansions Feb. 24; and a guided afternoon tour Feb. 24.

Up to 2.6 Continuing Education Units are available by emailing Beth.Richard@colin.edu or calling 601-446-1103.

Natchez Convention Center, Natchez, MS

No cost

Sponsored by Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the Mississippi Humanities Council

For more information:
Toll-free 1-866-296-NLCC ( 1-866-296-6522 ) or e-mail NLCC@colin.edu


Mississippi: Retired Professor Researches Civil War

The beginning of recently retired Michael Ballard’s interest in Civil War history is, as he said, a study in irony: it began with an overstuffed chair once used by the namesake of his future workplace.

“It’s really ironic that the one thing in the (Vicksburg Courthouse) Museum that was always the first place I went as a kid was an old leather chair that had stuffing coming out of it; they had it in a glass case, and it was a chair that (General Ulysses S.)Grant supposedly used when he was in Vicksburg,” Ballard said. “I loved that chair. There was something about it. I can’t tell you why, but years and years after I wound up working for Grant papers.”

Ballard, a native of Ackerman, Miss., received three degrees from Mississippi State University: a B.A. in history in 1975, an M.A. in history/archives in 1976 and a Ph.D. in history in 1983. Ballard joined university staff in archives in 1983, going on to become university archivist, coordinator of the Congressional and Political Research Center and associate editor of Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library publishing projects. As well as making a sizable contribution to MSU through archive work, Ballard has also authored 11 books centered on the Civil War, an interest, which he said, stemmed from a childhood in history-steeped Mississippi.

“When I was a kid I had one brother, and my parents used to take us to Vicksburg occasionally; I immediately fell in love with the town and the battlefields,” he said.

Ballard also visited battlefields with a cousin to search for Civil War relics buried in the ground. Heading to Port Gibson, Miss., to hunt for animals as well as relics, Ballard said these searches got him rooted in another location: the pages of books.

“That’s what got me to reading; I really got interested in the war. I wanted to know where the troops were when we got to the battlefield,” he said.

Ballard changed his major from music to history once beginning college, taking his first Civil War class under John Marszalek, and beginning another ironic cycle that Marsalek, current director and managing editor of Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, said Ballard had laughed about for years.

“He used to (jokingly) tell people, ‘I thought I got rid of Marszalek when I got my degree, and here we are working together in the same place,’” he Marszalek.

Marszalek, also a Civil War expert with a list of credentials including 13 books published, has worked with him since Ballard’s doctoral dissertation, including together co-founding the Civil War Historians-Western Theater group. Aside from the extensive list of scholastic achievements of Ballard (his vita is 20 pages long), Marszalek said his good nature shone through all else. Even at a reception honoring his retirement, Marszalek said Ballard focused attention onto others, and away from himself.

“The library had a big reception for him we were all talking about him, and what does he do? He said, ‘Some of you may or may not know that a group of Marszalek’s graduate students put together a book, and this book has just been published, and I want to present it to you,’” Marszalek said. “It’s his retirement, and he’s deflecting attention, and he’s putting it on the editors, nice enough to put my wife (and my own) picture in it, and dedicate the book to my wife and me.”

Ballard’s focus on his friends and colleagues is also revealed in his attention to the humanity of the Civil War, his quickness to share stories of soldier diaries and correspondence he has studied and the unimaginable trials they endured.

Ballard said one soldier left behind an account of blisters on his feet so large that he could not fit them into boots salvaged from a deceased solider that would have otherwise fit him perfectly.

Ballard spoke often of how fascinating and enjoyable his work has been, and said he will continue to research the Civil War, because, it’s what he is interested in.

He said he plans to seek out a few other interests, as well, including possibly publishing a work of fiction he wrote and working on a bit of music.

“I’ve been writing Southern Gospel songs, which I love, I’d like to learn a language or two, get better at the guitar, which I can only strum,” he said.

Marszalek said Ballard’s retirement is a huge loss to MSU, but he also spoke of what he said Ballard means to him and his colleagues as a person.

“He’s a really special person to me and to a lot of people. It’s an amazing, amazing thing, the kind of good human he is.”

-Daniel Hart, The Reflector


North Carolina: Fort Fisher Program Commemorates Battle, Lost Ship

KURE BEACH — The pivotal role of Fort Fisher in the Civil War is underscored in the movie Lincoln, as the president emphasized that it must be captured. Fort Fisher State Historic Site demonstrated some of the power of the fort in the 148th anniversary program “Sheppard’s Battery: Confederates Defending the Left Flank” on Jan. 19. In addition to the military demonstrations, the free program will include author talks and children’s activities.


This 32-pounder was the fort's biggest gun and was fired in the ceremony.

Fort Fisher was critical to logistics to General Lee’s Army, and was the last entry point for supplies from England and the Caribbean. With a seaface that jutted out into the Atlantic, Fort Fisher was known as “the Gibraltar of the South.” The fort came under the most massive land and sea assault conducted by the United States government until World War II.

Civil War re-enactors will set up camp and demonstrate infantry and artillery skills. The fort’s big gun was fired, a 32-pounder that launched a grapefruit sized cannonball into the sea toward Federal forces. The 12-pound Napoleon cannon was more commonly used. It fired a 12-pound softball sized shell about a mile, while a 10-pound Parrott rifle lobbed a 3-inch projectile a little more than a mile. Sheppard’s Battery was adjacent to the fort’s River Road entry, also known as the “Bloody Gate” which was the weakest link for Union soldiers to exploit.

A highlight of the day was the dedication of a North Carolina Highway Historical markerin honor of the blockage runner Modern Greece. The British-owned ship was bringing supplies into Fort Fisher in 1862 when it came under Union Navy fire. Badly damaged, it was destroyed by the Confederates to keep the weapons and supplies from the Federals. The shipwreck was discovered in 1962 after an intense storm. Navy divers joined the then Department of Archives and History to recover materials from the wreck, and thousands of artifacts, including rifles, knives, files, and more were recovered. The project gave birth to the state Underwater Archaeology Branch, one of the first such programs in the country.

To learn more call (910) 458-5538. Fort Fisher is located at 1610 Ft. Fisher Blvd. Southin Kure Beach, and is within the Division of State Historic Sites. The N.C. Highway Historical Marker Program is part of the Office of Archives and History. Both are within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.


South Carolina: Nonprofit to Preserve Historic Chapel Property

Down a dirt road off Old Highway 52 in the rural community of Strawberry, Jack Lynes of Aiken and Johnny Dangerfield of Moncks Corner compare “great-greats” and “great-great-greats.”

Jack Lynes’ great-great-great-grandfather, Samuel Lynes, is among dozens of people buried at the St. James Goose Creek Chapel of Ease Historic Site between Goose Creek and Moncks Corner. Brad Nettles/Staff

“That’s where we connect right there,” Lynes said, pointing to the nearby gravestone of his great-great-great-grandfather, Samuel Lynes.

The distant cousins are part of a family with history that goes back many generations in Berkeley County, and with other family members who have been visiting the site for years to care for the markers at the resting place of many of their ancestors.

Many of the stones have fallen, cracked or sunk into the ground.

Now the 22-acre historic property in the woods between Goose Creek and Moncks Corner, known as the St. James Goose Creek Chapel of Ease Historical Site, will be protected permanently.

With fundraisers and bolstered by a $104,000 donation from the State Ports Authority, the nonprofit acquired the land from the Synovus Trust in December.

“What we wanted to do was preserve this marvelous piece of ground,” said Goose Creek Mayor Mike Heitzler, chairman of the group. “We would like to pass it on to future generations of caretakers and open it up for public viewing, making it a stop on historical trips for people coming through Berkeley County.”

The site defines “how this community came to be as it is today, and now it will be protected forever and never lost again,” said Barry Jurs, executive director of the Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust. “That’s a big deal.”

The known history of the site dates to the 1700s, when it was owned by Col. George Chicken and was the site of a battle in the Yemassee War.

In the 1720s, a cross-shaped brick Anglican “chapel of ease” was built so worshippers wouldn’t have to make the six-mile trek to St. James Goose Creek Church. It was destroyed during the Revolutionary War, but the foundation remains.

The land later served as a camp and home to Bethlehem Baptist Church, where blacks and whites worshipped together.

Today it has the tombstones of at least four American Revolution patriots and a Confederate soldier among more than 30 marked graves, archaeological ruins from the battle and churches, remnants of inland rice fields, and 16 acres of freshwater wetlands.

The site had fallen into years of neglect, with descendants visiting periodically, until Charla Springer, organizer of the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, led clean-ups there and asked for help.

Soon the project, under the leadership of the Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce, involved several conservation and historical-preservation groups in addition to family members.

Recent digs have turned up pottery, wrought nails, pipe bowls, arrowheads, bullets, glass and charred bone. Also discovered were a grave shaft in the altar area of the church; trunks and gates for an inland rice field; a possible field kitchen that slaves used; a possible site where rice was dried; and brickwork for a trunk to the canal.

Now Lynes said he is concerned about treasure hunters desecrating the site.

“That’s really contrary to historic preservation,” he said. “We want people to treat it with respect and consider it a holy place. There is nothing here worth money. It’s just a little cemetery, and that’s the most important thing.”

Brenda Rindge, Charleston Post & Courier


South Carolina: Store Removes Confederate Flag from Window

ROCK HILL — Without shouts or shots or even a raised voice, the owner of a downtown Rock Hill store that had a Confederate flag emblem on his business signs took the signs down.

He did so Monday after a complaint from the Rock Hill NAACP president and in response to my questions about the use of such a symbol that many see as racist in the downtown of a city that claims to have “no room for racism.”

“The problem is what that flag symbolizes; for people of color it is the symbol of slavery and segregation,” NAACP President Melvin Poole told Moments in Time owners Janet and Keith Fields. “That symbol means hatred to people of color.”

Janet Fields said some people have come into the store and said, “Oh, you must be that rebel shop,” but they are quick to tell those customers that they are not a Confederate store but a history store.

The signs were created on the advice of a consultant as a way to bring interest to the store, Keith Fields said, and no complaint had been made since the store opened in the summer.

Until Monday.

“I understand that might offend people,” Keith Fields said. “If that sign is offensive, I’ll take it down right now.”

So Keith Fields walked outside and pulled the sandwich board off the public sidewalk. Then he rolled up the sign that hung over the front door of the shop at 153 E. Main St.

Keith Fields, a historical re-enactor himself, explained that the business appeals mainly to re-enactors, which include Civil War buffs.

I mentioned that what Fields calls the “battle banner” – what is commonly called the “Confederate flag or “rebel flag” – is offensive to so many and is used by white-supremacist and hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

“The KKK, they offend us too,” said Janet Fields.

“We won’t even sell the battle banner here,” Keith Fields said.

That same image is not allowed on clothing in most public schools, but such a flag still flies in front of South Carolina’s Statehouse.

It is that flag that came down from atop the Statehouse more than a decade ago that started an NAACP boycott that has cost South Carolina millions of dollars in tourism and sports. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament will not play here because of that boycott.

The selling of Confederate items is not new in South Carolina, and it often brings controversy.

Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, operated a Charleston-area memorabilia shop for years and dressed up in Confederate garb for an event in 2011 commemorating the 150-year anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

A store called The Redneck Shop in Laurens that sold Confederate flags and KKK robes closed after a court battle brought by the black owners of the building. The store was at times picketed by people who saw the Confederate flag and hate as one and the same.

Moments in Time sells mainly period clothing and collectibles, including many locally made products, Janet Fields said.

The Rock Hill store does have a few items from the Civil War, but Keith Fields said his interest in selling goods is solely in history. The store has had some black customers since it opened, the Fields said.

Sandwich boards along Main Street sidewalks are allowed by the city of Rock Hill and used by several businesses. The zoning code for the city does not address content, city spokeswoman Katie Quinn said.

Attempts to get city officials to explain if the signs bearing an image of the Confederate flag – up since August just a block from City Hall – had been the subject of any discussion were unsuccessful.

Rock Hill has a city-sanctioned slogan posted around town: “A city that has no room for racism.”

The Confederate flag is viewed by many as a symbol of slavery and the past oppression and segregation of blacks, said the Rev. Osbey Roddey, one of two black members of the Rock Hill City Council. It is clear that some people would be offended by any sign with the Confederate flag on it, he said.

“You would think someone would have noticed,” Roddey said, given the city’s push to promote downtown and bring businesses and visitors there.

The store sits just five doors east of where The Friendship Nine were arrested in 1961 after asking for service at a whites-only lunch counter. The protesters went to jail for a month, and the incident re-ignited the American civil rights protests that eventually toppled segregation.

The state historic marker commemorating the courage of the protesters and downtown Rock Hill’s crucial role in civil rights history is just yards from where the Confederate flag emblems for the Moments in Time store were placed.

The store sits just yards west of Freedom Temple Ministries, one of the city’s largest predominantly black churches.

But in a downtown that has an entire Rock Hill city department of people employed to redevelop it and market it and sell it to the world, it took only one complaint the day before the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for the Confederate flag signs to come down.

And on Tuesday, a new sign went up – this one with the American flag on it.

-Andrew Dys, Rock Hill Herald


Texas: Sons of Confederate Veterans Seek to Remove Plaque

Lawyers for the Sons of Confederate Veterans have filed a motion in a state district court seeking to remove a plaque in the Texas Supreme Court building that the historical group says inadequately honors the Confederacy.

Terry's Texas Rangers Monument at the Texas Capitol.

Fanning the flames of a decade-long battle with the state, the Confederate veterans group argues that the state has not gone through the appropriate channels to dedicate the plaque, which in 2000, under then-Gov. George W. Bush, replaced an older plaque that more overtly praised Confederate soldiers.

“This is on behalf on all of Texas — this is not just a Sons of Confederate Veterans issue,” said Kirk Lyons, the group’s lawyer. “We have an unresponsive government that doesn’t care about the rule of law.”

Citing a legal technicality requiring the state to register the plaque through the Texas Historical Commission, Lyons said it remains there “contrary to law.”

Lyons — who has been called a “white supremacist lawyer” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization, a label he hotly rejects — also called for the reinstatement of the original dedication plaque installed in the 1960s that features the Confederate seal.

The new plaque in question reads, “Because this building was built with monies from the Confederate Pension fund it was, at that time, designated as a memorial to the Texans who served the Confederacy.”

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, a longtime critic of the plaques, said the state has done enough to honor its Confederate legacy. “I believe Texas has been more than responsive to the Sons of Confederate Veterans,” Ellis said in an email. “There are more than enough monuments [in] defense of slavery. How many more do they need?”

The Capitol complex contains more than a dozen monuments, markers and statues that overtly allude to the Confederacy, according to the State Preservation Board. 

Debbi Head, spokeswoman for the Texas Historical Commission said no official application process is required by law but that “if we were to receive a request, [the content] would be considered.”

The Confederate group has repeatedly clashed with the state over the plaques at the Capitol. Last May, the group attempted to install a historical marker at the Supreme Court building, but Lyons said the application was rejected on “bogus” grounds.

“The Historical Commission wet their pants when they had all the black legislators calling them,” he said.

Ellis said that the plaques should be removed and replaced with nothing.

“They need to go see the movie Lincoln,” he said. “I will go with them.”

-Elena Schneider, The Texas Tribune

Texas: Confederate Group Celebrates at Gregg County Courthouse

Several camps of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy held a memorial service at noon Jan. 19 at the Confederate monument on the Gregg County Courthouse lawn, 101 E. Methvin.

First SGT Paul Hamilton checks the line before before the start of the Confederate Heroes Day celebration at the Gregg County Courthouse. (Les Hassell/News-Journal Photo)

“It’s a lot of fun, and we try to be as historically accurate as possible,” said Sam Mercer, commander of the Gen. John Gregg Camp in Longview.

The event featured speeches, songs, marches and musket salutes, Mercer said. Generally about 40 to 50 people participate in the annual event, and another 100 or so usually attend.

The Longview service is one of several planned throughout the state, he said, and all have the goal of increasing awareness of the history of the Civil War era.

“We encourage people to ask questions of the people involved in the program and to learn more about local history,” Mercer said.

“For example, the John Gregg Camp is named after the person for whom Gregg County is named.”

-The (Longview, Tex.) News-Journal


Texas: SMU Program Examines Civil War in Photographs

About the opening program

Civil War in Photographs: New Perspectives from the Robin Stanford Collection Exhibition Opening and Program

Location: DeGolyer Library
Date: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Time: Reception 6pm Texanan Room, Lecture 6:30pm with Richard McCaslin, PhD; Stanley Marcus Reading Room

About the exhibit (January 15th – March 15th)

Over the course of forty years of collecting, Robin Stanford has amassed an exceptional group of Civil War photographs, numbering in the thousands. The most striking aspect of her collection is not only the sheer quantity of images, mostly stereographs, but the number of rare views by almost unknown photographers and in locations not much documented. For the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, the DeGolyer Library is displaying the Robin Stanford photograph collection.

A book on the collection by curator of photographs Anne E. Peterson, The Civil War in Photographs: New Perspectives from the Robin Stanford Collection, will be available for purchase through the library for $20.00.

Federal Camp at Johnsonville, Tenn. This view taken at Johnsonville the day before the evacuation…. In the foreground is the depot platform and just back of that is the 1st Tennessee Colored Battery. The War for the Union. No. 6646. The War Photograph & Exhibition Company, Hartford. Stereo, Robin Stanford Collection. Union soldiers standing on a platform at the Johnsonville depot overlooking the supply camp of the First Tennessee Colored Battery, an African American light artillery battery. This was taken just before the Confederate attack, November, 1864.


Virginia: Man Charged for Displaying Confederate Flag

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Trip Lewis says he was just paying tribute to his Civil War ancestor on Saturday, in front of a historic chapel just outside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

But police say he broke the law when brought a Confederate flag on the property.

“The security guard asked me to get off, and I politely asked him to show me the law that says I can`t be in a public park with a flag… it sent my daughter in tailspin, and I felt totally bad my children being there and seeing this,” Lewis said.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts sits on what was once a camp for Confederate veterans.

You can still see the Robinson House that was built in the 1850′s, the Confederate Soldier’s home and the Confederate Memorial Chapel.

Lewis was cited for trespassing.

“The Virginia Code prohibits banners, flags, and other banners, and law enforcement officers were supporting that code,” said Suzanne Hall with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The law also states you can’t display a flag for the purposes of bringing about a movement; in other words, a protest on the museum’s grounds.

“I do not in my heart think I was breaking any law. When the security guard approached me, he asked are you there to protest, and I said I wasn`t,” Lewis said.

Lewis admits he has protested in the past.

In 1993, an agreement was made between the Commonwealth, the VMFA, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization to allow them to lease the chapel. According to the VMFA, the Confederate battle flag began flying at the chapel after the Sons of Confederate Veterans became the lessee.

When the lease was renewed in June 2010, the board of trustees at the VMFA made the decision to ask that the flag be removed from the chapel.

That’s when Lewis and others protested that the flag be put back on the chapel.

Lewis is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 4.