Arkansas: State Honors Young Civil War Hero

By Bruce Walker, The New American

“War is hell,” William Tecumseh Sherman once said. The American Civil War was a dark chapter in America’s history. Yet it did produce those who merited respect and honor. David O. Dodd was one such individual, though only a boy. He refused to betray his native Arkansas, and as a consequence was hanged as a spy by Union forces.

Now an Arkansas state commission has approved marking the site where the 17-year-old Dodd was detained by Union troops after he was discovered to have coded messages relating to their troop dispositions, according to a CybercastNewsService story.

Arkansas has already honored the young man who chose death rather than betrayal of his state. In fact, Arkansas has more places honoring Dodd than any other Civil War figure, including a school named after him and street signs dedicated to his memory.

In this photo provided by the Arkansas History Commission Oct. 9, 2012, a copy of a 1912 painting by artist William Besser from a Civil War era photograph of David O. Dodd is displayed in Little Rock, Ark. Dodd is relatively unknown outside of Arkansas, but the teenage spy who chose to hang rather than betray the Confederate cause is seen as a folk hero by many in his home state.(AP Photo/Courtesy Arkansas History Commission)

Yet the recent decision by the Arkansas commission to honor Dodd is drawing criticism from some. Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center, assailed the move:

It’s a very sad story, but at the end of the day, Dodd was spying for the Confederacy, which was fighting a war to defend the institution of slavery…”There are currently more monuments to David O. Dodd than any other war hero in Arkansas. You would think that at some point it would be enough.”

Many Arkansans disagree. Sharon Donovan, who lives on W. David O. Dodd Road, observed, “The fact that we live in the South, I could understand why he would want to do it because he was actually working for us in a way…. For that era, I think it was probably a noble thing to do.”

Danny Honnol agrees:

Everyone wants to remember everything else about the Civil War that was bad. We want to remember a man that stood for what he believed in and would not tell on his friends … He was barely 17 years old when the Yankees [hanged] him. Yeah, he was spying, but there (were) other people that spied that they didn’t hang.

David O. Dodd is a perfect representation of the continuing legacy of the American Civil War. Conventional history represents the war as a conflict between freedom and slavery — good and evil. When the Constitution was adopted, however, slavery existed throughout much of the Republic. State governments, one by one, emancipated slaves — a process that was ongoing right up to the Civil War.

This seemed very likely to continue. In none of the “slave” states at the time of the Civil War — Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri — was slavery profitable. Additionally, because the rising tide of immigrants resented competing against slave labor, voters in states such as Missouri (with a large German population) would not long tolerate the institution.

Moreover, the admission of new states anticipated that these would be free states. The Northwest Ordinances, for example, passed first under the Articles of Confederation, prohibited slavery in those states, which were the six surrounding the Great Lakes. After the adoption of the Constitution, this law was passed again. The states created by the Louisiana Purchase were almost all free of slavery.

Southern leaders, such as President James Monroe, even created an African nation, Liberia, which was intended to provide a home for freed American slaves where they might return and govern themselves. America assumed a protective hand over this nation that prevented it from ever becoming a European colony.

The motive of many, probably most, Confederate soldiers was not the preservation of slavery (most Southerners did not own slaves) but rather the defense of their homes and communities. In 1860, those homes and states meant more to most Americans than did the federal government, whose presence in the life of ordinary citizens was generally limited to the U.S. Postal Service and the Coast Guard.

But there is also often nobility, when men faced with death do what they think is right despite the cost to themselves personally. The Union Army had many such brave and noble men who fought and who died in the Civil War, but so did the Confederate States of America.

Honoring these men is not honoring slavery or seccession. It is rather honoring that which is best and noblest in us.


Georgia: Civil War Prison Camp Walls Uncovered

By Orlando Montoya, Georgia Public Broadcasting

STATESBORO, Ga. — Archaeologists have found the remains of the Camp Lawton stockade wall, establishing the actual layout and site of one of the Civil War’s largest prisoner of war camps.

Georgia Southern University, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife archaeologists with assistance from Kennesaw State University, the University of Georgia and the Lamar Institute made their discovery public on Thursday.

It was made at Magnolia Springs State Park located in Millen.

The discoveries at Camp Lawton have excited history and archaeology fans. (photo Georgia Southern University)

A significant portion of the southern wall of the camp was exposed along with a section of the western wall which enabled archaeologists to project the exact location of the southwestern corner.

The discovery was made late last week as the hit PBS television show Time Team America documented what was found and how archaeology helps tell the story of Camp Lawton’s history.

The park, along with University archaeology students and professors, will hold a public day this Saturday at the park.

The event will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Visitors will have an opportunity to see the location of the stockade wall and discuss Camp Lawton and the television show.

“We found it. Standing where the corner of the Camp Lawton stockade once stood was one of the greatest moments of my archaeological career,” said Sue Moore, Ph.D., professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Georgia Southern University.

A crew of geophysicists with Time Team America along with Georgia Southern and University of Georgia volunteers conducted a massive amount of research using equipment such as ground-penetrating radar, magnetometry, conductivity and electro induction.

These different technologies look into the soil and their specific datasets assist archaeologists in locating areas of historical interest.

Map of Camp Lawton in 1864. The exact location of the camp have been lost to time but archaeologists now claim to have found remains of the camp in Millen, Georgia. (Photo: Virginia Historical Society/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

“In three days we conducted more geophysical research than most sites ever do. This laid the baseline for years of future research for Georgia Southern students,” said Moore.

Georgia Southern University students and professors along with Time Team America archaeologists extracted several wooden timbers that were submerged in Magnolia Spring.

The location of the timbers is near the place where the Camp Lawton Stockade would have crossed the spring which still flows through the park today.

Core samples taken from these timbers will help researchers confirm they were part of the Camp Lawton Stockade. The largest of the timbers measured about five feet in length and weighed 400 pounds.

“Being part of the timber extraction was very interesting. It shows how archaeologists use multiple avenues to research the history of a site,” said Blake Ayala, a Georgia Southern graduate student.

Archaeological investigation of the Camp Lawton Stockade in the Bo Ginn National Fish Hatchery continued during the recent shooting for the television show.

Work focused on uncovering more information about the more than 10,000 Union prisoners who were held in the 42-acre Confederate run prison.

A number of excavation units were opened to explore possible huts, known as shebangs, built by the prisoners.

The excavations revealed living surfaces and possible hearth features which when fully studied will shed light on the lives of the prisoners who were imprisoned at Camp Lawton nearly 150 years ago.

A metal detection survey, modeled on a gridded sampling technique which helped uncover the stockade three years ago, was used to further delineate the western limits of the prison occupation area.

This survey produced numerous artifacts which will reveal more about prisoner life.

“When this show airs next spring or summer, it is going to be an exciting one,” said Moore. “These are major discoveries that will put Camp Lawton and Magnolia Springs State Park on the map. We hope that this work will attract tourism to the area to support the local economy.”

The team is keeping quiet about the additional discoveries it made until the show airs.


North Carolina: Civil War Museum set for March 2015

By Andrew Barksdale, Fayetteville Observer

Planners for the state’s first Civil War museum said Thursday they hope to break ground in Fayetteville in March 2015.

The date marks the 150th anniversary of when Gen. William T. Sherman’s Union Army trooped into town and destroyed the Fayetteville Arsenal, where weapons and ammunition were manufactured and stored off Hay Street in present-day Haymount.

Today, large foundation stones that were once part of the arsenal buildings are scattered around the park, which overlooks the Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway. The three-story octagonal “ghost” tower at the end of Arsenal Avenue represents the four towers that once stood at the complex.

In 2010, the private foundation for the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex, which sits on the other side of the freeway, hired Winston-Salem consultant David Winslow to lead the development and fundraising for a 60,000-square-foot museum that would go on public-owned land on Myron Street, next to the arsenal ruins.

On Thursday, Winslow brought a team of out-of-town designers to introduce preliminary plans for the new museum overlooking the freeway and show conceptual sketches of what it might look like inside to a room of about 50 people at Highland Presbyterian Church. The museum, which does not have a formal name yet, would have several exhibits, kiosks, a theater and a second-floor cafe.

“Nothing is written in stone at this point,” Winslow said.

The concept is to tie the existing museum and adjoining 1897 Poe House on Bradford Avenue with the proposed Civil War museum at Arsenal Park. A pedestrian bridge over the freeway links the existing museum and the park. The freeway was built over the arsenal ruins. As part of the project, the pedestrian bridge would be semi-enclosed and used to connect the new and existing museums as one complex.

“This is something we don’t want to be bashful about,” said Victor Vines, an architect in Raleigh. “We want the museum to be known, to be seen.”

Jack Alexander, who is 66 and lives in Cumberland County, told Winslow he worried the new museum might hail Sherman as a hero in a Southern town where he caused destruction.

Winslow said a lot of research will be done, and an “honest, balanced presentation of Sherman” would be part of the museum.

Another county resident, Dick Fox, 66, asked if enough people would visit the new museum to justify its costs.

“If you build something that’s boring, I would agree with you,” Winslow told Fox. “But that’s not what we are going to do here.”

“This is going to be fantastic,” Fox said, “if we can get people to patronize it.”

Winslow has experience with ambitious projects. He raised $24 million to open the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro in 2010. It was a 15-year project with several complications, he said, although the Fayetteville project should be easier and faster to complete

He guessed the proposed Civil War museum for Fayetteville might cost between $15 million and $20 million.

He hopes to have preliminary construction and operating costs and artist renderings of the building by early next year.

“So we can actually start fundraising,” he said.


Pennsylvania: Civil War Trails Marker Unveiled

By Steve Marroni, The Evening Sun

Fairfield lies just miles from the Mason-Dixon Line – the border that separated the North and the South, the free states and the slave states – so during the Civil War, folks who lived there knew some sort of involvement was inevitable.

And it happened 150 years ago Thursday.

To mark the anniversary of Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s raid through Fairfield, community leaders unveiled Fairfield’s very own Civil War Trails wayside marker Thursday.

Jack Inskip, of Fairfield, welcomes the crowd Thursday at the dedication of the new Civil War Trails wayside marker outside of the Fairfield Inn on Main Street. The marker commemorates Fairfield's role in the Civil War. (THE EVENING SUN -- STEVE MARRONI)

The marker – the fourth in Adams County – is located outside of the historic Fairfield Inn, 15 W. Main St., and gives visitors and Civil War-buffs a mini-history lesson on the role the town played in the war between the states.

The marker actually commemorates two Fairfield Civil War events – Stuart’s raid, and the Battle of Fairfield, which occurred on the third and final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Fairfield Borough Councilman Dean Thomas has been instrumental in bringing the marker to town, and was happy to see it finally unveiled after a two-year process that now puts Fairfield on the Civil War Trails map.

The Civil War Trails markers link events of the Civil War for visitors to follow as they explore historic places. Maps and information about the events they commemorate can be found at

Kirk Davis, portraying Union Gen. Joseph Hooker, and Frank Orlando, portraying Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, prepare to unveil Fairfield s new Civil War Trails wayside marker, draped under a Pennsylvania state flag. (THE EVENING SUN -- STEVE MARRONI)

Adams County author and historian Tim Smith was the keynote speaker, and at Thursday’s ceremony, he recounted the Civil War events that took place in and around Fairfield – AdamsCounty’s second-most historic town, several at the ceremony said.

Stuart’s 1862 raid started in Virginia a couple weeks after the Battle of Antietam, and came through Maryland, and into Pennsylvania, passing through Mercersburg, Chambersburg, Cashtown, McKnightstown and into Fairfield, he said.

On Oct. 11, 1862, Smith told the assembled group of about 40 people, the Confederates tromped through town with roughly 1,800 troops and 900 horses, about 60 of them stolen from around the Fairfield area. Troops looted the town, destroyed the post office, and took prisoner Fairfield’s postmaster, John B. Paxton, Smith said.

Additionally, the marker also commemorates the July 3, 1863 Battle of Fairfield.

Thomas previously explained the Union cavalry got word the Confederates were gathering supplies in the Fairfield area, and sent the 6th U.S. Cavalry.

While there wasn’t much in the way of supplies, a Confederate brigade was patrolling behind Gen. Robert E. Lee’s lines, and attacked the unit, which only had 400 men, most of whom were killed, wounded or captured during the battle.

The battle actually took place about two miles northwest of the wayside marker on what is now private farmland.

Thomas said he’s proud the marker is here to inform residents and visitors of Fairfield’s small, but significant, role in the Civil War.


Virginia: ‘Appamatox’ Gets Makeover

By Nancy Jennis Olds, Alexandria Gazette Packet

Alexandria — He is called “Appomattox,” fondly known as “Appy,” a lone bronze statue of a Confederate soldier standing on a granite base. Traffic tears by him daily on a small island of land intersecting Washington and Prince streets. His back is turned toward the north, his face stares down in resignation, his arms crossed tightly on his chest. The soldier carries no weapon. He tightly clenches his hat in his right hand; a canteen and haversack hang from his left shoulder.

On a crisp and sunny Saturday on Oct. 6 there is a flurry activity surrounding this Civil War memorial. “Appomattox” is the subject of attention as workers in hard hats cordoned off the traffic island with bright orange cones and bring in their machinery to give the stained and weathered statue a cleaning with a protective finish.

Oscar Bonilla cleans “Appomattox” at the intersection of Washington and Prince streets.

The women of the Mary Custis Lee-17th Virginia Regiment Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, whose museum and offices are headquartered in Alexandria, provided the funding for the conservation of “Appomattox.” The City of Alexandria was not involved with this preservation effort, nor were any city personnel employed for this cleaning project. Chapter member Debby Mullins said that the statue was initially cleaned with liquid Ivory Soap. An application of a wax substance will provide a protective patina of the bronze statue which is bombarded daily by the vehicle fumes passing by, the residue of roosting pigeons and other birds, and stresses from sunshine and storms.

During the Civil War, or as it was called by the South, the War Between the States, or the War of Northern Aggression, the City of Alexandria was commandeered by Union forces almost immediately in May 24 of 1861. Col. Elmer Ellsworth, a personal friend of President Abraham Lincoln, led the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment (“Fire Zouaves”) through the City of Alexandria, detaching some men to take the railroad station and others to secure the telegraph office. Ellsworth personally went to the Marshall House, an inn owned by James W. Jackson, to remove the large Confederate flag from its rooftop. As Ellsworth descended the stairs with the flag wrapped around him, Jackson emerged from his room and fatally shot Ellsworth in the chest. Corporal Francis E. Brownell, who had accompanied Ellsworth, immediately shot Jackson, killing him instantly. Alexandria, the old seaport town, became the main reception area for the Union wounded, a federal supply depot, and a campground. Most of its homes, churches and schools became hospitals, prisons and headquarters. Many of the citizens of Alexandria fled before the federal occupation of the city. Those who remained were under military occupation for four more years.

The Reconstruction period after the Civil War was difficult for Confederate veterans. In April of 1885, Confederate veteran Edgar Warfield and the R.E. Lee Camp #2 (formed by former Confederate veterans mainly from the 17th Virginia Regiment) requested that the citizens of Alexandria construct a monument on behalf of Confederate veterans. The Alexandria City Council approved the project permitting placement of the monument at the intersection of Prince and Washington Streets, the location where the Alexandria militia companies met prior to their evacuation as the advancing Union troops landed in Alexandria. These militia companies would later form the 17th Virginia Regiment.

According to Mullins, a contest was announced, and John Adams Elder submitted a plaster model based on the central figure in his painting “Appomattox.” The original painting is at the Library of Virginia. The work shows an unarmed figure with his head downcast as he contemplates the privations of four years of war upon the South. The model was approved and M. Caspar Buberi was the sculptor who cast the statue in bronze. The base is made of Georgia granite. The inscriptions part of the pedestal is made of a mix of concrete and marble. The north side of the base reads, “They died in the consciousness of duty faithfully performed.” The south side reads, “Erected to the memory of Confederate dead of Alexandria, Va. by their Surviving Comrades, May 24th 1889.” The east and west sides bear the names of those from Alexandria who died during the Civil War.

The dedication ceremony was held on May 29, 1889. There was a great crowd at the ceremony attended and directed by Fitzhugh Lee, the governor of Virginia then and a former cavalry major general for the CSA. Former Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston also attended the ceremony.