Saturday, July 29, 2006

Commentary: Were We the Good Guys?

Some months past, while walking eagerly towards the Gettysburg Battlefield Visitor’s Center, I noticed a mother with her young daughter approaching me in the opposite direction. The little one, walking with a child's carefree light step, turned to her mother and asked innocently, "Mommy, were we the good guys or the bad guys." Clasping her hand, the smiling Mom announced proudly to her daughter, "We were the good guys." Although an unfortunately common sentiment, I have struggled to accept its complete accuracy for some time. Reconciling the notion that one group of people possessed an overall higher degree of morality remains a difficult task. Few would debate the despicable evil of slavery. Yet I could not easily accept the contention that, in a country with a similar heritage, history, and people, the entire collection of persons in one section had emerged so morally different from all of those in the other.

Long before the bloodiest war in US history turned against the Confederacy, the seceding states eagerly identified the institution of slavery as the primary justification for seeking to form their own country. Although many after the war touted the banner of states rights, the Southern states own initial brazened pronouncements declared otherwise. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina opted for the long threatened secession, severing her ties with the Union to which she had belonged since 1788. In the coming months, ten other Southern states would follow in her rebellious footsteps. Upon her separation from the United States, South Carolina’s delegates spoke of the initial negotiations when first entering the Union over 70 years earlier. " The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: "No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due." This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made."

A few weeks after, Mississippi followed her Southern sister’s lead stating emphatically, "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world." Days later, Georgia added her voice as she also left the old Union for the new. Georgian representatives would throw a few more logs on the secessionist bonfire, accusing the new Republican Party of treachery. "The prohibition of slavery in the Territories, hostility to it everywhere, the equality of the black and white races, disregard of all constitutional guarantees in its favor, were boldly proclaimed by its leaders and applauded by its followers."

Despite initially arguing for maintaining the now fragile Union, in his famous Cornerstone speech, Confederate Vice-President Andrew Stephens offered, "The new (Confederate) constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution -- African slavery as it exists amongst us -- the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution…its (our new government) cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery -- subordination to the superior race -- is his natural and normal condition…"

These statements seem damning enough. Yet, more must exist of this issue than the obvious failings of some on one side of this conflict.

In "The Negro’s Civil War", James McPherson notes that in the early 1860s, there existed those who specifically sought disunion and separation from the slave states. A country divided would absolve the Federal Government and private citizens from their legal obligation to assist in the recapture of runaway slaves. The North would become safe ground, eliminating the necessity of extending the journey for freedom to the region north of the United States’ upper border. Slaves successfully crossing onto free soil could then safely settle in the northern states.

Others apparently did not gaze fondly upon the idea of the North as a safe haven for former slaves. In the 1850s, some Northern states established Personal Liberty Laws in response to the Fugitive Slave Act to impede the re-capture and return of runaways to slavery. Others however passed legislation now known collectively as "Black Laws" which hindered or eliminated blacks' ability to move into their states. Although established prior to the 1850s, Ohio’s version of the Black Law stated ominously, "Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, that from and after the first day of June next, no black or mulatto person shall be permitted to settle or reside in this state, unless he or she shall first produce a fair certificate from some court within the United States, of his or her actual freedom." In the early 1850s, Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana barred immigration of black persons into their states. Indiana’s Constitution, adopted in 1851, declared explicitly, "No negro or mulatto shall come into or settle in the State, after the adoption of this Constitution." The Illinois Historic Preservation Association notes that in 1853, their state deemed illegal the act of bringing "…a free Negro into the state."

In 1860, when South Carolina began the cascade of states seceding from the Union, some feared the beginning of a black exodus to the safe grounds of the North. Several states made known their displeasure with that possibility. In January of 1861, Pennsylvania said, "…That the people of Pennsylvania, entertain and desire to cherish the most fraternal sentiments for their brethren of other States, and are ready now, as they have ever been, to co-operate in all measures needful for their welfare, security and happiness, under the Constitution which makes us one people. That while they cannot surrender their love of liberty inherited from the founders of their State, sealed with the blood of the Revolution, and witnessed in the history of their legislation, and while they claim the observance of all their rights under the Constitution, they nevertheless maintain now, as they have ever done, the Constitutional rights of the people of the slaveholding States, to the uninterrupted enjoyment of their own domestic institutions."

Ohio added in their resolution, "…That the people of Ohio are inflexibly opposed to intermeddling with the internal affairs and domestic relations of the other States of the Union; in the same manner and to the same extent as they are opposed to any interference by the people of other States with their domestic concerns.". They continued, "…That it is incumbent upon any States having enactments on their statute books, conflicting with or rendering less efficient the Constitution or laws of the United States, to repeal them…". This seems a likely reference to the Personal Liberty Laws intended to counteract the Fugitive Slave Act.

New Jersey would declare, "…be it resolved, that the resolutions and propositions submitted to the Senate of the United States by the Hon. John J. Crittenden of Ky., for the compromise of the questions in dispute between the people of the Northern and of the Southern States, or any other constitutional method that will permanently settle the question of slavery, will be acceptable to the people of the State of New Jersey, and the Senators and Representatives in Congress from New Jersey be requested and earnestly alleged to support those resolutions and propositions. The first article of the Crittenden Compromise stated, "Slavery would be prohibited in all territory of the United States "now held, or hereafter acquired," north of latitude 36 degrees 30 minutes. In territory south of this line, slavery was "hereby recognized" and could not be interfered with by Congress. Further, property in slaves was to be "protected by all the departments of the territorial government during its continuance." States would be admitted to the Union from any territory with or without slavery as their constitutions provided."

New Jersey would also reference repealing the Personal Liberty Laws. "…And be it resolved, That such of the States as have in force laws which interfere with the constitutional rights of citizens of the other States, either in regard to their persons or property, or which militate against, the just construction of that part of the constitution that provides that "the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States," are earnestly urged and requested, for the sake of peace and the Union, to repeal all such laws."

In an address to the Confederate Congress, President Davis spoke of part of the process by which the North had earlier abolished slavery. "The climate and soil of the Northern States soon proved unpropitious to the continuance of slave labor, whilst the converse was the case at the South. Under the unrestricted free intercourse between the two sections, the Northern States consulted their own interests by selling their slaves to the South and prohibiting slavery within their limits." So while some strove to free their states of slavery, the slaves did not necessarily find themselves free. A percentage of former Northern Masters sold their now outlawed slaves into continued bondage in the Southern States.

Several states protested the Emancipation Proclamation which may have contributed to a northern migration. Individuals did likewise. Horatio Seymour, Governor of New York, famously stated that he would do all he could to preserve the Union but blasted the Emancipation Proclamation. Others encouraged colonization, the emigration of black persons to lands outside of the United States, as a fair solution to the "Negro Question" of what to do with freed slaves. The Library of Congress summarized, "During the 1850s, the (American Colonization) society also received several thousand dollars from the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Maryland legislatures." Clearly, although many in the Northern States desired to see their individual regions free from the stain of slavery, some wished that the new birth of freedom would occur elsewhere.

Countless Northerners fought with unparalleled bravely to advance the cause of peace and save the Union that we now call home. Others worked tirelessly towards the noble end of complete and total abolition of the institution of slavery. Yet because of the above, for a little while longer, I will continue to struggle with blanket questions asking, "Who were the good guys?"



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Causes of the Civil War
South Carolina Historical Documents Northern Black Laws
Tulane University: The Crittenden Compromise
Indiana Historical Bureau: Indiana Constitution of 1851
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency: African American Timeline
Library of Congress: An African-American Mosaic

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Slave Narratives

Hoping that this might be of interest, I have reproduced here a collection of excerpts from some of the many slave narratives found on the Project Gutenberg Web Site. This posting is longer than most because I wanted to include a sufficient number of excerpts to approach a representation of the entire text. What you will read are " typewritten records prepared by The Federal Writers' Project 1936-1938 assembled by The Library of Congress Project. Washington 1941."

Some of these may not be suitable for children or those who may be offended by what can be graphic descriptions of slave treatment.

[--] 11, 1938

Interview at her home, 4710 Falls Road, Baltimore, Md.

"…Mr. Davidson was very good to his slaves, treating them with every consideration that he could, with the exception of freeing them; but Mrs. Davidson was hard on all the slaves, whenever she had the opportunity, driving them at full speed when working, giving different food of a coarser grade and not much of it. She was the daughter of one of the Revells of the county, a family whose reputation was known all over Maryland for their brutality with their slaves."

"Mother with the consent of Mr. Davidson, married George Berry, a free colored man of Annapolis with the proviso that he was to purchase mother within three years after marriage for $750 dollars and if any children were born they were to go with her. My father was a carpenter by trade, his services were much in demand. This gave him an opportunity to save money. Father often told me that he could save more than half of his income. He had plenty of work, doing repair and building, both for the white people and free colored people. Father paid Mr. Davidson for mother on the partial payment plan. He had paid up all but $40 on mother's account, when by accident Mr. Davidson was shot while ducking on the South River by one of the duck hunters, dying instantly."

"Mrs. Davidson assumed full control of the farm and the slaves. When father wanted to pay off the balance due, $40.00, Mrs. Davidson refused to accept it, thus mother and I were to remain in slavery. Being a free man father had the privilege to go where he wanted to, provided he was endorsed by a white man who was known to the people and sheriffs, constables and officials of public conveyances. By bribery of the sheriff of Anne Arundel County father was given a passage to Baltimore for mother and me. On arriving in Baltimore, mother, father and I went to a white family on Ross Street--now Druid Hill Ave., where we were sheltered by the occupants, who were ardent supporters of the Underground Railroad."

"A reward of $50.00 each was offered for my father, mother and me, one by Mrs. Davidson and the other by the Sheriff of Anne Arundel County. At this time the Hookstown Road was one of the main turnpikes into Baltimore. A Mr. Coleman whose brother-in-law lived in Pennsylvania, used a large covered wagon to transport merchandise from Baltimore to different villages along the turnpike to Hanover, Pa., where he lived. Mother and father and I were concealed in a large wagon drawn, by six horses. On our way to Pennsylvania, we never alighted on the ground in any community or close to any settlement, fearful of being apprehended by people who were always looking for rewards."

"After arriving at Hanover, Pennsylvania, it was easy for us to get transportation farther north. They made their way to Scranton, Pennsylvania, in which place they both secured positions in the same family. Father and mother's salary combined was $27.50 per month. They stayed there until 1869. In the meantime I was being taught at a Quaker mission in Scranton. When we come to Baltimore I entered the 7th grade grammar school in South Baltimore. After finishing the grammar school, I followed cooking all my life before and after marriage. My husband James Berry, who waited at the Howard House, died in 1927--aged 84. On my next birthday, which will occur on the 22nd of November, I will be 95. I can see well, have an excellent appetite, but my grandchildren will let me eat only certain things that they say the doctor ordered I should eat. On Christmas Day 49 children and grandchildren and some great-grandchildren gave me a Xmas dinner and one hundred dollars for Xmas. I am happy with all the comforts of a poor person not dependant on any one else for tomorrow".



Reference: Personal interview with Charles Coles at his home,
1106 Sterling St., Baltimore, Md.

"I was born near Pisgah, a small village in the western part of Charles County, about 1851. I do not know who my parents were nor my relatives. I was reared on a large farm owned by a man by the name of Silas Dorsey, a fine Christian gentleman and a member of the Catholic Church."

"Mr. Dorsey was a man of excellent reputation and character, was loved by all who knew him, black and white, especially his slaves. He was never known to be harsh or cruel to any of his slaves, of which he had more than 75."

"The slaves were Mr. Dorsey's family group, he and his wife were very considerate in all their dealings. In the winter the slaves wore good heavy clothes and shoes and in summer they were dressed in fine clothes."

"I have been told that the Dorseys' farm contained about 3500 acres, on which were 75 slaves. We had no overseers. Mr. and Mrs. Dorsey managed the farm. They required the farm hands to work from 7 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.; after that their time was their own."

"There were no jails nor was any whipping done on the farm. No one was bought or sold. Mr. and Mrs. Dorsey conducted regular religious services of the Catholic church on the farm in a chapel erected for that purpose and in which the slaves were taught the catechism and some learned how to read and write and were assisted by some Catholic priests who came to the farm on church holidays and on Sundays for that purpose. When a child was born, it was baptized by the priest, and given names and they were recorded in the Bible. We were taught the rituals of the Catholic Church and when any one died, the funeral was conducted by a priest, the corpse was buried in the Dorseys' graveyard, a lot of about 1-1/2 acres, surrounded by cedar trees and well cared for. The only difference in the graves was that the Dorsey people had marble markers and the slaves had plain stones."

"I have never heard of any of the Dorseys' slaves running away. We did not have any trouble with the white people."

"The slaves lived in good quarters, each house was weather-boarded and stripped to keep out the cold. I do not remember whether the slaves worked or not on Saturdays, but I know the holidays were their own. Mr. Dorsey did not have dances and other kinds of antics that you expected to find on other plantations."

"We had many marbles and toys that poor children had, in that day my favorite game was marbles."

"When we took sick Mr. and Mrs. Dorsey had a doctor who administered to the slaves, giving medical care that they needed. I am still a Catholic and will always be a member of St. Peter Clavier Church."


Sept. 20, 1937

JAMES V. DEANE, Ex-slave.
Reference: Personal interview with James V. Deane, ex-slave,
on Sept. 20, 1937, at his home, 1514 Druid Hill Ave.,

"…My master's name was Thomas Mason, he was a man of weak mental disposition, his mother managed the affairs. He was kind. Mrs. Mason had a good disposition, she never permitted the slaves to be punished. The main house was very large with porches on three sides. No children, no overseer."

"The poor white people in Charles County were worse off than the slaves; because they could not get any work to do, on the plantation, the slaves did all the work."

"Some time ago you asked did I ever see slaves sold. I have seen slaves tied behind buggies going to Washington and some to Baltimore."

"No one was taught to read. We were taught the Lord's Prayer and catechism."

"When the slaves took sick Dr. Henry Mudd, the one who gave Booth first aid, was our doctor. The slaves had herbs of their own, and made their own salves. The only charms that were worn were made out of bones."


Dec. 13, 1937

PAGE HARRIS, Ex-slave.
Reference: Personal interview with Page Harris at his home,
Camp Parole, A.A.C. Co., Md.

"I was born in 1858 about 3 miles west of Chicamuxen near the Potomac River in Charles County on the farm of Burton Stafford, better known as Blood Hound Manor. This name was applied because Mr. Stafford raised and trained blood hounds to track runaway slaves and to sell to slaveholders of Maryland, Virginia and other southern states as far south as Mississippi and Louisiana."

"My father's name was Sam and mother's Mary, both of whom belonged to the Staffords and were reared in Charles County…"

"…I have been told by my parents and also by Joshua Stafford, the oldest son of Mr. Stafford, that one Sunday morning on the date as related in the story previously Mrs. Stafford and her 3 children were being rowed across the Potomac River to attend a Baptist church in Virginia of which she was a member. Suddenly a wind and a thunder storm arose causing the boat to capsize. My father was fishing from a log raft in the river, immediately went to their rescue. The wind blew the raft towards the centre of the stream and in line with the boat. He was able without assistance to save the whole family, diving into the river to rescue Mrs. Stafford after she had gone down. He pulled her on the raft and it was blown ashore with all aboard, but several miles down the stream. Everybody thought that the Staffords had been drowned as the boat floated to the shore, bottom upwards."

"As a reward Mr. Stafford took my father to the court house at La Plata, the county seat of Charles County, signed papers for the emancipation of him, my mother, and me, besides giving him money to help him to take his family to Philadelphia."

"I have a vague recollection of the Staffords' family, not enough to describe. They lived on a large farm situated in Charles County, a part bounding on the Potomac River and a cove that extends into the farm property. Much of the farm property was marshy and was suitable for the purpose of Mr. Stafford's living--raising and training blood hounds. I have been told by mother and father on many occasions that there were as many as a hundred dogs on the farm at times. Mr. Stafford had about 50 slaves on his farm. He had an original method in training young blood hounds, he would make one of the slaves traverse a course, at the end, the slave would climb a tree. The younger dogs led by an old dog, sometimes by several older dogs, would trail the slave until they reached the tree, then they would bark until taken away by the men who had charge of the dogs."

"Mr. Stafford's dogs were often sought to apprehend runaway slaves. He would charge according to the value and worth of the slave captured. His dogs were often taken to Virginia, sometimes to North Carolina, besides being used in Maryland. I have been told that when a slave was captured, besides the reward paid in money, that each dog was supposed to bite the slave to make him anxious to hunt human beings."

"There was a slaveholder in Charles County who had a very valuable slave, an expert carpenter and bricklayer, whose services were much sought after by the people in Southern Maryland. This slave could elude the best blood hounds in the State. It was always said that slaves, when they ran away, would try to go through a graveyard and if he or she could get dirt from the grave of some one that had been recently buried, sprinkle it behind them, the dogs could not follow the fleeing slave, and would howl and return home."


Sept. 29, 1937

Reference: Personal interview with Rev. Silas Jackson, ex-slave,
at his home, 1630 N. Gilmor St., Baltimore.

"…In Virginia where I was, they raised tobacco, wheat, corn and farm products. I have had a taste of all the work on the farm, besides of digging and clearing up new ground to increase the acreage to the farm. We all had task work to do--men, women and boys. We began work on Monday and worked until Saturday. That day we were allowed to work for ourselves and to garden or to do extra work. When we could get work, or work on some one else's place, we got a pass from the overseer to go off the plantation, but to be back by nine o'clock on Saturday night or when cabin inspection was made. Some time we could earn as much as 50 cents a day, which we used to buy cakes, candies, or clothes."

"On Saturday each slave was given 10 pounds corn meal, a quart of black strap, 6 pounds of fat back, 3 pounds of flour and vegetables, all of which were raised on the farm. All of the slaves hunted or those who wanted, hunted rabbits, opossums or fished. These were our choice food as we did not get anything special from the overseer."

"Our food was cooked by our mothers or sisters and for those who were not married by the old women and men assigned for that work."

"Each family was given 3 acres to raise their chickens or vegetables and if a man raised his own food he was given $10.00 at Christmas time extra, besides his presents."

"In the summer or when warm weather came each slave was given something, the women, linsey goods or gingham clothes, the men overalls, muslin shirts, top and underclothes, two pair of shoes, and a straw hat to work in. In the cold weather, we wore woolen clothes, all made at the sewing cabin."

"My master was named Tom Ashbie, a meaner man was never born in Virginia--brutal, wicked and hard. He always carried a cowhide with him. If he saw anyone doing something that did not suit his taste, he would have the slave tied to a tree, man or woman, and then would cowhide the victim until he got tired, or sometimes, the slave would faint."

"The Ashbie's home was a large stone mansion, with a porch on three sides. Wide halls in the center up and down stairs, numerous rooms and a stone kitchen built on the back connected with dining room."

"Mrs. Ashbie was kind and lovely to her slaves when Mr. Ashbie was out. The Ashbies did not have any children of their own, but they had boys and girls of his own sister and they were much like him, they had maids or private waiter for the young men if they wanted them."

"I have heard it said by people in authority, Tom Ashbie owned 9000 acres of farm land besides of wood land. He was a large slave owner having more than 100 slaves on his farm. They were awakened by blowing of the horn before sunrise by the overseer, started work at sunrise and worked all day to sundown, with not time to go to the cabin for dinner, you carried your dinner with you. The slaves were driven at top speed and whipped at the snap of the finger, by the overseers, we had four overseers on the farm all hired white men."

"I have seen men beaten until they dropped in their tracks or knocked over by clubs, women stripped down to their waist and cowhided."

"I have heard it said that Tom Ashbie's father went to one of the cabins late at night, the slaves were having a secret prayer meeting. He heard one slave ask God to change the heart of his master and deliver him from slavery so that he may enjoy freedom. Before the next day the man disappeared, no one ever seeing him again; but after that down in the swamp at certain times of the moon, you could hear the man who prayed in the cabin praying. When old man Ashbie died, just before he died he told the white Baptist minister, that he had killed Zeek for praying and that he was going to hell."

"There was a stone building on the farm, it is there today. I saw it this summer while visiting in Virginia. The old jail, it is now used as a garage. Downstairs there were two rooms, one where some of the whipping was done, and the other used by the overseer. Upstairs was used for women and girls. The iron bars have corroded, but you can see where they were. I have never seen slaves sold on the farm, but I have seen them taken away, and brought there. Several times I have seen slaves chained taken away and chained when they came."

"No one on the place was taught to read or write. On Sunday the slaves who wanted to worship would gather at one of the large cabins with one of the overseers present and have their church. After which the overseer would talk. When communion was given the overseer was paid for staying there with half of the collection taken up, some time he would get 25¢. No one could read the Bible. Sandy Jasper, Mr. Ashbie's coachman was the preacher, he would go to the white Baptist church on Sunday with family and would be better informed because he heard the white preacher."

"Twice each year, after harvest and after New Year's, the slaves would have their protracted meeting or their revival and after each closing they would baptize in the creek, sometimes in the winter they would break the ice singing _Going to the Water_ or some other hymn of that nature. And at each funeral, the Ashbies would attend the service conducted in the cabin there the deceased was, from there taken to the slave graveyard. A lot dedicated for that purpose, situated about 3/4 of a mile from cabins near a hill."

"There were a number of slaves on our plantation who ran away, some were captured and sold to a Georgia trader, others who were never captured. To intimidate the slaves, the overseers were connected with the patrollers, not only to watch our slaves, but sometimes for the rewards for other slaves who had run away from other plantations. This feature caused a great deal of trouble between the whites and blacks. In 1858 two white men were murdered near Warrenton on the road by colored people, it was never known whether by free people or slaves."

"When work was done the slaves retired to their cabins, some played games, others cooked or rested or did what they wanted. We did not work on Saturdays unless harvest times, then Saturdays were days of work. At other times, on Saturdays you were at leisure to do what you wanted. On Christmas day Mr. Ashbie would call all the slaves together, give them presents, money, after which they spent the day as they liked. On New Year's day we all were scared, that was the time for selling, buying and trading slaves. We did not know who was to go or come."

This entire book, "Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States. From Interviews with Former Slaves. Maryland Narratives" can be found on-line at the Project Gutenberg web site. As with all of their on-line texts, Project Gutenberg states, " This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at"

You can listen to audio recordings of similar narratives in the former slaves' own voices at Voices From the Days of Slavery from the United STtaes Library of Congress web site.



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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Who Can He Be?

On the final page of his book, Lieutenant Colonel G. F. R. Henderson relates the following:

"Mr. W.P. St. John, President of the Mercantile Bank of New York,
relates the following incident: A year or two ago he was in the
Shenandoah Valley with General Thomas Jordan, C.S.A., and at the
close of the day they found themselves at the foot of the mountains
in a wild and lonely place; there was no village, and no house, save
a rough shanty for the use of the 'track-walker' on the railroad. It
was not an attractive place for rest, yet here they were forced to
pass the night, and to sit down to such supper as might be provided
in so desolate a spot. The unprepossessing look of everything was
completed when the host came in and took his seat at the head of the
table. A bear out of the woods could hardly have been rougher, with
his unshaven hair and unkempt beard. He answered to the type of
border ruffian, and his appearance suggested the dark deeds that
might be done here in secret, and hidden in the forest gloom. Imagine
the astonishment of the travellers when this rough backwoodsman
rapped on the table and bowed his head. And such a prayer! 'Never,'
says Mr. St. John, 'did I hear a petition that more evidently came
from the heart. It was so simple, so reverent, so tender, so full of
humility and penitence, as well as of thankfulness. We sat in
silence, and as soon as we recovered ourselves I whispered to General
Jordan, "Who can he be?" To which he answered, "I don't know, but he
must be one of Stonewall Jackson's old soldiers." And he was. As we
walked out in the open air, I accosted our new acquaintance, and
after a few questions about the country, asked, "Were you in the
war?" "Oh, yes," he said with a smile, "I was out with Old
Stonewall."'-- Southern Historical Society Papers, vol. xix page 371."

Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War. Lieutenant Colonel G. F. R. Henderson, C. B.

This entire book can be found on-line at the Project Gutenberg web site. As with all of their on-line texts, Project Gutenberg states, "This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at"



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Saturday, July 08, 2006

New Civil War Photo Blog

I have started a new blog for those people who might prefer photos to the printed page. If you would like, you can have a look at Civil War Photos.

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I do taking them.



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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Exploitation of Gettysburg

Recently, two unfortunate subjects have stolen time from the joy in writing about the American Civil War and, hopefully, the occasional interest readers have in the end results. The proposed Gettysburg Casino, a project designed to blatantly exploit the fame and associated sacrifice of the Battlefield at Gettysburg, lingers on as an insidious malignancy threatening to sicken the beauty of the now peaceful fields. The casino investors calculated choice of a location near the battlefield reeks of a sordid desire to capitalize on the deaths of the thousands of men who "gave the last full measure of devotion". Neither our ancestors’ storied past nor our shared national history should ever suffer the indignity of strangulation by a deliberately placed noose of avarice and greed.

The Ku Klux Klan now also seeks to exploit the hallowed ground of Gettysburg to satisfy their self-indulgent, hateful ends. As fated once before, Gettysburg will apparently follow in the footsteps of Antietam. The Klan defiled the sacred grounds of the Antietam National Battlefield just a few short weeks past.

Not despite, but because of the moral obligation to counter both message and messenger, I strongly support the strategy of not combating the Klan’s demonstration on this cherished, hallowed ground. These foul parasites hunger for controversy and feed on the publicity it spawns. They will endlessly seek to desecrate the fields of our shared heritage if the media, counter-protesters, and onlookers continuously, though perhaps unintentionally, quench their thirst for center stage. While we should ceaselessly challenge prejudice and hatred at every turn, each battle can and should adopt the strategy that best meets the immediate need. With all possible respect to those who find the Klan’s message similarly offensive, I urgently ask that no one give them that which they so desperately seek. If the well of publicity runs dry, they will have to dip their cups of hatred elsewhere. When no longer able to find an opportunistic pool, then perhaps we will celebrate the day that such evil crawls back into its fetid hole to die its deservedly slow and painful death.

The Battlefield at Gettysburg silently honors the 160,000 men who marched, fought, bled, and died that this nation might live. The rolling fields, craggy heights, and venerable monuments both memorialize and celebrate the lives and sacrifices of our ancestors while educating new generations about our history, errors, triumphs, and the values that shaped this nation. Given this unmistakable truth, no justification exists for ignoring the national insult of these attempted exploitations. Home to the ghosts of such staggering courage, this holy ground forever holds our storied past, consecrated with the blood of tens of thousands of Americans who helped to shape the nation whose privileges we enjoy today.


The article below discusses further the coming sad event.

"The Philadelphia Inquirer - July 4, 2006

Ku Klux Klan wins approval to protest at Gettysburg

GETTYSBURG, Pa. - The National Park Service granted a request by the Ku Klux Klan to rally and protest near the spot where a failed offensive by the Confederacy turned the tide of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Gordon Young of the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan obtained the permit Wednesday for about 100 people to participate in a Sept. 2 event on the lawn of the Cyclorama Center at Gettysburg National Military Park, near the site of Pickett's Charge. The purpose, according to the permit, will be to oppose the Iraq war and speak on "white unity between the North and South."

The permit was granted in light of the constitutional rights of free speech and peaceable assembly, Gettysburg park superintendent John A. Latschar said in a statement yesterday. About 30 members of Young's group and other white-supremacist organizations gathered June 10 at Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md. About 30 counterdemonstrators and about 200 law enforcement officers were there, too.
The Battle of Gettysburg, which repelled a Confederate advance into Pennsylvania in July 1863, was the largest and bloodiest battle of the Civil War. More than 51,000 combatants disappeared or were killed, wounded or captured.- AP"


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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Gettysburg Casino: $60 Million & our Heritage Lost

The Philadelphia Inquirer printed the following on July 3, 2006.

Casino on battlefield would be a loss for all

By Jim Lighthizer and Tom Kiernan

In a high-stakes operation like a casino, there are always winners and losers. Build a casino at Gettysburg, and there would be one winner - the owner - while the losers would be too numerous to count.

Chance Enterprises, the investment group behind the proposed Crossroads Gaming Resort & Spa, wants to build a 3,000-slot casino one mile from the edge of the Gettysburg National Military Park. Casino officials tout the jobs and economic benefits the facility would provide, but these claims are overstated.

With about 1.7 million visitors annually, and with visitation growing steadily, Gettysburg is one of the top tourist destinations in Pennsylvania. Known for its quaint charm, downtown shops and restaurants, and, of course, the battlefield, Gettysburg is a pleasant, family-friendly place to visit. A casino would seriously detract from that enduring appeal.

In addition to conflicting with the historic character of a beloved national battlefield, the casino would divert a whopping $60 million from local businesses, according to a recent economic assessment by the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT). The region's thriving heritage tourism industry, the quality of life for local residents, and the historic and natural resources that make Gettysburg a national icon would all suffer.

National parks are some of our nation's most endangered, irreplaceable resources - Civil War battlefields no less so than wild places such as Yellowstone or the Everglades. Sadly, due to their locations near growing population centers, many battlefields are especially vulnerable to inappropriate development. Today, the same landscapes upon which our nation was formed and tested are being consumed by fast-food restaurants, strip malls, and other forms of suburban sprawl. Nearly 20 percent of our historic Civil War battlefields already have been paved over.

When the Crossroads casino was first proposed, our primary concern was that it would damage the countryside that gives the Gettysburg battlefield meaning and character, and encourage more of the growth that is eating away at the park's edges. What has since been revealed is just how devastating the casino would be to the economy of the Gettysburg region.

During the April 7 hearing before the Gaming Control Board, economist Michael Siegel, who prepared an economic assessment of the casinos for the CWPT, seriously undermined the rosy picture investors have predicted for Gettysburg. Siegel testified that Gettysburg is one of the areas in Pennsylvania that would be most vulnerable to the adverse effects of a large casino.

His report takes issue with Chance Enterprises' reliance on Vicksburg, Miss. - a gambling hot spot with a Civil War past - as a positive model of how a casino might affect Gettysburg. In fact, in 1994, after the first year the casinos were open, visitation to Vicksburg National Military Park fell 21 percent. Since then, visitation rates have struggled back to pre-casino levels. Before the casinos opened, Vicksburg's visitation had been growing at about 5 percent a year.

In Warren County, where Vicksburg is situated, nonmanufacturing wage and salary employment fell by several hundred jobs following the opening of four casinos. There was a slight increase after 1997, but another decline in 2000. These jobs and visitation figures strongly suggest that tens of millions of dollars of economic activity were diverted from Vicksburg-area businesses to its casinos.

Like casinos, Civil War battles always had their winners and losers, but ultimately all Americans won. Our nation's founding principles of democracy and freedom were strengthened, and it is a blessing that we can still share those battlefields with our children. Yet, if this casino goes forward, we all stand to lose.

Jim Lighthizer is president of the Civil War Preservation Trust. Tom Kiernan is president of the National Parks Conservation Association. Contact the writers at and



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