North Carolina: Confederate Flag Supporters Protest Removal of Flag from Courthouse

By Becky Johnson,

A protest was held this week in front of the Haywood County historic courthouse by Confederate supporters who say their flag is being discriminated against.

For years, David Crook had been making monthly rounds past the Confederate Memorial on the lawn of the historic courthouse and tucking a tiny flag into the ground at its base. And for years, an anonymous person who felt the flag carried negative symbolism had been pulling them up.

“They kept disappearing,” said Thomas Shepard, whose own ancestors fought for the South. “So we kept replacing them.”

The flag tug-of-war gradually ramped up, with a new one being put down and pulled up almost daily.

The county was forced to wade into the fray in June, when a local attorney complained about the tiny flag display and asked the county to intervene.

“Personally, I have been more than uncomfortable with the flag’s presence on government property,” Waynesville Attorney Bob Clark wrote in an email to county commissioners. “Will you please take action, quietly and effectively, to stop the display of this divisive symbol?”

If the county won’t step in and stop the tiny flags from cropping up, then perhaps the commissioners should issue a public statement that they “support the flying of this symbol,” Clark suggested.

County Manager Marty Stamey talked the issue over informally with commissioners, and the next morning directed county maintenance workers to pull up the flags whenever they saw them. Stamey sent county maintenance workers an email asking them to keep an eye on the monument a couple of times during the day to monitor for the flag’s reappearance.

“Am I understanding correctly that you are requesting the Confederate Flag to be removed and not ever be placed back in front of the Confederate Monument?” County Maintenance Director Dale Burris wrote back to Stamey.

“It is a sensitive issue with government property as you are aware,” Stamey wrote back to Burris. “Maybe we can request that they just keep a nice wreath in front of the memorial instead.”

Burris decided to keep any flags he pulled up from the monument in the maintenance office in case someone came looking for them. But no sooner had he walked outside to do the deed than one of the Confederate supporters, Jule Morrow, happened to drive by and see him pull it up. Morrow confronted Burris, and Burris replied that he was only doing what he had been told by county officials.

Confederate supporters questioned why their flag is being pulled up from the lawn, while tiny American flags stuck at the base of other war memorials in front of the historic courthouse are allowed to stay.

David Teague, Haywood County public information officer, said part of the problem is outside groups placing any kind of decoration on county property without permission.

The county had been working on a compromise with some of the Confederate supporters, Teague said.

One Confederate group, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, urged local Confederate supporters not to cause a ruckus.

“The best thing to do in this case is not to replace the flag you are using and let the matter die a natural death,” wrote Aileen Ezell, president of the N.C. Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. “We gain nothing by fighting this. It is amazing to me that such a small flag has caught so much attention.”

Some of the local Confederate supporters in Haywood County have decided to go to the mat over the tiny flags after all, however. Several of them staged a protest outside the courthouse this week, and have pledged to appear before the county commissioners at the next county meeting and lobby permission to put their flag back out.

“This flag is often associated with hate rather than heritage and honor,” Shepard said. But, that’s not the case, he said.

Library to Display Civil War Photo Exhibit

The Gaston County Public Library has been selected as one of 49 public libraries to host the Freedom, Sacrifice, Memory : Civil War Sesquicentennial touring photography exhibition presented by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and coordinated through the State Library of North Carolina.

The photographs will be on exhibit Sept. 1 through Sept. 28 at the main library, 1555 E. Garrison Boulevard, Gastonia.

The exhibit commemorates North Carolina’s role in the Civil War.

“The Civil War was the first war widely covered with photography. The Freedom, Sacrifice, Memory exhibit provides images of historic figures, artifacts, and documents that brought the reality of the war from the battlefront to the home front, then and now,” said Deputy Secretary Dr. Jeffrey Crow of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources in a press release.

The American Civil War has been called a brother’s war, and nowhere was that more true than in North Carolina. The Civil War claimed more lives than any military engagement undertaken by this country. North Carolina lost at least 35,000 soldiers, more than any other Southern State, and great hardships were suffered by those both at war and left at home.

Exhibit visitors will see women who served as Confederate spies, well-known Confederate generals, re-enactment images of soldiers and battles, and more. The battlefield, homefront , African Americans, and women all are reflected in the exhibit. A notebook accompanying the exhibit will offer sketches of the generals, of African Americans fleeing bondage, a woman whose home became a hospital, and other glimpses of lives from that turbulent time.

For information on the statewide exhibition tour, visit, or call 919- 807-7389. The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources is the state agency whose mission is to enrich lives and communities and to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information is available 24/7 at

For more information about the September exhibition at the Gaston County Public Library, call 704-868-2164 / Dial 4 or visit

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South Carolina: S.C. Scientists Trim Years in Artifact Conservation

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson University scientists have trimmed years from the time-consuming process of conserving historic artifacts ranging from an old ax head to Civil War shot and a ballast block from the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley.

The process of using subcritical and supercritical treatment of the items could revolutionize the way historic artifacts are conserved. The technique existed only in theory a decade ago.

“In our case, we still have to convince the conservation community that the object is better” after treatment, said Michael Drews, director of the Clemson Conservation Center at the university’s Restoration Institute. “Conservators are very conservative. They have seen a lot of used car salesmen.”

In subcritical technology, water under intense heat and pressure has unique dissolving characteristics. In this case, items are put in a reactor vessel, and salts that can cause deterioration are quickly removed.

There is also a small supercritical reactor at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, where the Hunley is housed.

In that technology, carbon dioxide subjected to intense heat and pressure has been used to remove moisture and preserve cork from shipwrecks, including a 16th-century Basque whaler, said research scientist Stephanie Crette.

The usual way to stabilize iron artifacts is to place them in a chemical bath or use electrolysis to leech out the salts. Drews said the lab is the only one in the world using the subcritical technique on artifacts.

Scientists first experimented with the technique on small metal shavings and bolts from the Hunley, said Nestor Gonzalez-Pereyra, a researcher and conservator key in designing and building the reactors.

Then larger objects were treated, including a ballast block from the Hunley, the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship. It took about 18 months using traditional methods to conserve the other blocks. The one treated using subcritical technology took 10 days.

The newest reactor holds 40 liters and is now being used to conserve a shell from the Fort Sumter National Monument.

Drews said the work with the technology started in 2003 and was considered experimental until two years ago. Some items treated since have come from overseas, and other conservators can evaluate the work.

“We said you send us the artifacts, we will send them back to you for your evaluation. They have no stake in the game except to evaluate,” he said.

So far, the feedback has been positive. But researchers will need more time to determine how well the artifacts hold up after being restored, as a couple of years is not enough, Drews said.

The results appear to be uniform if several objects are treated at once. But the biggest benefit is the time savings.

Two years ago, scientists at the lab finished the six-year process of conserving two guns from the famed Confederate naval raider CSS Alabama. Using the subcritical technique, it would have taken two months, he said.

The next step may be to make a chamber large enough to hold one of the massive, 8-ton guns from the Civil War ironclad ship the USS Monitor, Drews said. The ship’s guns are currently being restored by conventional means in Virginia.

A reactor of that size would have to be about 420 cubic feet, about the size of 10 refrigerators, and cost about a half-million dollars. One that could treat the Hunley, which conservators plan to conserve with traditional methods, would have to be 10 times that size.

Even if the reactor for the Hunley is built, there would be risks using the method.

Instead of being a solid shot or a bolt, the Hunley is a complex combination of different types of metals, with pipes, a hand crank for providing power and viewports.

“The Hunley is unique. It’s like nothing we have ever treated. And we really don’t know what would happen,” Drews said.
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Texas: Battle of Nueces remembered
By Scott Huddleston,

A battle and mass execution 150 years ago is being recalled today as a key event in local Civil War history, and a reminder of a sad, conflicted time in South Texas.

Hundreds of history enthusiasts and descendants of Germans who died in or survived the Aug. 10, 1862, Battle of Nueces will gather in nearby Comfort this weekend to ponder the era when Texas was a Confederate state, despite support for the Union.

Even though Robert E. Lee was pro-Union while stationed in San Antonio before becoming the Confederate commanding general, historical memory has largely ignored ties between Texas and America’s bloodiest war. The death of 19 Unionists near the Nueces River in Kinney County and execution of nine prisoners is, to many, symbolic of the war’s impact at home.

Two Confederate troops were killed and 18 wounded in the predawn battle. But some descendants of the Unionists call the event a massacre.

“I call it a battle and a massacre,” said Brenda Seidensticker, a Comfort resident whose great-grandfather, August Hoffman, survived the clash and lived to be 92.

Seidensticker said she counts the 19 killed when confronted by Confederates, while fleeing to Mexico with more than 40 others, as war casualties. But the execution of nine wounded Unionists, and orders forbidding anyone from retrieving their remains, crossed a line of civility, even in war, she said. Most were Germans who had lived in Kendall, Kerr and Gillespie counties.

“The wounded were asked if they’d like to go into the shade,” Seidensticker said. “They said yes. Then they were shot in the head.”

Remains of the dead were recovered in 1865 and interred in Comfort. The Treue der Union (True to the Union) Monument, now the oldest Civil War monument in Texas, was dedicated at the burial site in 1866.

About 75 descendants of the fallen and survivors will hold a private ceremony this morning at the battle site, between Rocksprings and Brackettville. Public events will be held at or near the monument in Comfort, 50 miles northwest of San Antonio. A folk opera tonight and memorial program, German meal, book-signing and sold-out symposium on Saturday are planned.

All five major Civil War battles in Texas were fought along the coast — two at Galveston, two at Sabine Pass and one near Brownsville. But little is remembered about the discord the war caused. While people in and around Boerne and Fredericksburg opposed secession, those in the New Braunfels area, where Germans had lived in Texas longer and were sympathetic to states’ rights, supported it.

Amy Abercrombie King, a French teacher at MacArthur High School, said she realized, when recently translating early 1860s letters written by a French-speaking Belgian named Jean-Charles Houzeau, that the war inflicted deep wounds in San Antonio. The town, under martial law, was besieged by murders and hangings. Although historians have said one in four Texas families owned slaves, abolitionists were “threatened, bullied and badgered” by powerful, wealthy figures who wanted to expand slavery, King said.

Houzeau, an astronomer and ardent abolitionist, was a “keen observer of what was going on in San Antonio amid the push into the Confederacy,” said King, who spent two years translating graphic details of the letters for a Belgium university. She said she has done other research on European Texans, mostly Germans, who were “not vocal about much.”

“They were glad to be away from the revolutionary influences of Europe,” she said.

King learned that Houzeau helped Union sympathizer Charles Anderson escape captivity at Camp Salado, at what now is Fort Sam Houston. Anderson, known locally for building the Argyle Club in Alamo Heights, later became the governor of Ohio.

San Antonio’s Civil War history should be told truthfully, King said.

“I’m excited about what I’ve found,” she said. “It’s not like ‘Gone with the Wind.’ Texans aren’t perfect, and we shouldn’t put ourselves out as being perfect.”

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Virginia: Family Shares History with Civil War Project
By Stacy Parker, The Virginian-Pilot

Lynn Kirk Rose is a collector. She helped gather information for a book about Chuckatuck for a historical society, and she has been a repository for family records, too. When she saw a newspaper announcement for an opportunity to share her family’s Civil War memorabilia, Rose turned to her sister-in-law, Kitty Kirk.

“I’m the sorter,” Kirk said.

Kirk has been organizing records from her family tree for a book. Dozens of three-ring binders filled with letters and photographs are stacked on the coffee table in her living room. She’s been using a genealogy program to follow the generations and has transcribed yellowed papers into the computer.

“She has a talent,” Rose said. “Her mind is just whirling.”

Rose asked Kirk to bring some of the items related to their family’s Civil War experiences to the North Suffolk Library earlier this month.

“We have an unbelievable amount of letters,” Kirk said. “The organization is a job in itself.”

The Library of Virginia sent a team of archivists to the library to scan privately-held manuscript material for the Civil War 150 Legacy Project. There are collection events throughout the state this year.

Among the items Kirk provided for the library team was a photograph of Walter Lawrence, Rose’s father’s great-uncle who lived on Chuckatuck Creek and fought in the war. She also showed them receipts for commodities and services during the war years and correspondence between family members at home and in battle.

“It’s a snapshot before the war and after,” she said.

Lawrence served in the 9th Va. Company F of Nansemond County of the Confederate army. He wrote letters to his siblings that give insight into the state of affairs in the battlefield and at home.

In a letter to his sister Mary in Chuckatuck in 1862, Lawrence thanked her for shoes and money she sent by way of a relative who was furloughed and returned to camp:

“Virginius arrived safely in camp yesterday (the 1st) and brought with him your letter for which under the circumstances I thank you. A letter is valuable although brought by one just from the family. He also says he has some money and pair shoes for me from… For the shoes I am very much obliged but I think he had better keep his money as I draw rations from the government and he don’t. Not that I am not thankful for it but that it may be better used… at home. I think there is a tendency for the better here and for the worse where you are.”

He wrote a letter to his brother describing what he heard about his family’s troubles in Chuckatuck: “Virginius arrived safely here from home on the 2nd. He left the family well but from what he says in a sad condition – wheat crop lost entirely, only half the oats harvested, the prospective corn crop scarcely sufficient to serve another year.

“What a wretched condition that the country is in just now. I wish that the proposed move in that direction may take place very soon. I should be glad to march in that direction as would most of my regiment. I do not see any hopes now but that the black flag will be raised on both sides and a war of extermination commence unparalleled in history. And let it come the sooner the better I believe for our own safety and honor.”

Lawrence wrote to his sister from camp near Richmond: “… all night the cries of the dying and the moans of the miserable sufferings resounded over the battlefield. I could fill sheet after sheet with screams and incidents of the battle… I wish I could and I will tell you sometime of a battlefield. A thing you could no more paint to yourself. Though you can imagine the agony of the dying.”

Lawrence died from an illness in 1862 and is buried at St. John’s Church in Chuckatuck. Kirk said she’s learned the value of saving memorabilia, particularly letters, in an effort to perserve a family’s history.

“It tells a story of the person who wrote it,” she said. “To me, it’s fascinating.”

For more information, visit