Monday, July 27, 2015

Putting little pieces together

I've been working on the story of the band of the Thirty-third regiment today. It is at times frustrating that someone can write an entire book on the band of the 26th NCT, and yet I can only come up with a paragraph on the band of the 33rd NCT. Both bands primarily came from Forsyth County.....

I have said many times that the work I do is like a massive jigsaw puzzle, except I will never have all of the pieces. And that is just what it is: pieces. For example. Julius F. Stauber served in Company I, 33rd North Carolina Troops. He was an original member of the band. In August 1862, he died of disease in a hospital in Richmond, Virginia.

It appears that many of band members in the 33rd NCT were members of Bethania Moravian Church. Their pastor during the war was Jacob Siewers. He recorded in his diary on December 12, 1862: "Samuel Stauber returned this afternoon with several others from Virginia with their deceased sons." The 1860 Forsyth County Census shows a Samuel Stauber with a son named Julius.

Pieces.... That is all I have. Just pieces.....  

Monday, May 11, 2015

George Stoneman

Continuing the theme of interesting questions that arise during the Q&A, I thought we would spend a little time looking at the life of George Stoneman, the Federal cavalry commander who led the raid through western North Carolina in March and April 1865. Instead of a full biographical sketch, I thought we would cover a few points.

George Stoneman commanded the Federal cavalry during the battle of Chancellorsville. As part of Hooker's plan of battle, Stoneman was to lead the Federal Cavalry beyond Lee's lines, destroying vital railroad junctions, cutting Lee's supply lines and forcing the Army of Northern Virginia back. Rain first caused Stoneman's men difficulty, forcing him to recall part of his advance. Later the plan was changed by Hooker to be solely to destroy the railroads and lines of communication.  While Lee was concerned about Federal cavalry in his rear, he basically ignored Stoneman and, in the end, defeated Hooker and the Army of Northern Virginia. Hooker blamed Stoneman for the defeat. It only took the Confederates a few days to repair the damage. Stoneman was replaced as commander of the Federal cavalry corps in the Army of the Potomac before the month of May ended.

George Stoneman led another raid in Georgia in July and August 1864. Stoneman commanded one part of the cavalry of Sherman's army.  Sherman ordered the cavalry to break up the Macon and Western Railroad near Jonesboro. Stoneman proposed that after "destroying" Confederate cavalry in the area, he move to Macon, and then on to Andersonville, where he could free 23,000 Federal prisoners. The movement began on July 27. In Monticello, Stoneman learned that the bridges over the Ocmulgee did not exist, and chose to move on towards Macon, instead of turning back towards the west and linking up with other Federal forces. When he reached the outskirts of Macon, he found thousands of militia troops. Soon, Confederate cavalry closed in. On July 31, at Sunshine Church, Stoneman attempted to fight his way out. In the end, Stoneman surrendered his command. Stoneman was the highest ranking officer ever captured by the Confederates. He was exchanged in late September for Brigadier General Daniel C. Govan (captured during the battle of Jonesboro).

George Stoneman led a raid into North Carolina and Virginia in March and April 1865. After much delay, the raid began on March 20, 1865, moving through Morristown, Tennessee, on March 23, and skirmishing with home guardsmen in Boone on March 28. Instead of writing a blow-by-blow account, I would like to consider the question that has arisen more than once: what was Stoneman's directive? US Grant wrote to Stoneman's superior on January 31: "Stoneman might penetrate South Carolina well down towards Columbia, destroying the railroad and military resources of the country, thus visiting a portion of the state which will not be reached by Sherman's forces. He also might return to East Tennessee by way of Salisbury, N.C., this releasing some of our prisoners in rebel hands." Stoneman's goal was to destroy the railroad and "military resources" of the places that he went.

There you have it - three points that have come up in my discussion regarding George Stoneman. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Statesville: the Last North Carolina State Capital during the War

Continuing my "Stump the Historian" series today. Last week, I spoke at the Iredell County Public Library, and the claim of the Vance House as the last North Carolina Confederate capital was brought up. According to an early linen postcard, the Vance House was the "Former Capital of North Carolina During Vance's Occupancy."

Hmm, the only problem with that claim is that Vance had already abdicated his position as governor before he got to Statesville.

On April 12, 1865, Vance left Raleigh, and by April 13, was meeting with Generals Johnston, Hampton, and Secretaries Regan and Breckinridge in Greensboro. Vance eventually went on to confer with Jefferson Davis in Charlotte, but returned to Greensboro and attempted to contact General Sherman. Sherman had already left North Carolina, and Vance had to deal with General John M. Schofield. Vance offered to surrender on April 27, but Schofield told him to go home. Vance issued a proclamation on April 28, calling for a return to social peace and an end to the strife caused by the war. It was his last official act. Instead of returning to Raleigh, Vance went to Statesville. He had sent his family to Statesville on the approach of Sherman towards Raleigh. When Stoneman approached the town, Vance's family fled to Lincolnton. Just when they returned, I have not found. Vance arrived in Statesville on May 4 and was in Statesville when he was arrested on May 13, 1865.

W. W. Holden, who was Vance's political rival, and who was appointed Governor of North Carolina by US President Andrew Johnson on May 29, 1865, firmly believed that once Vance left Raleigh, he relinquished his position as governor.

In looking through various biographies on Vance, I can find nothing that states that he attempted to conduct the business of the state from the house he rented in Statesville. He was only there for nine days before his arrest and transfer to the Old Capital Prison in Washington, D. C. 

So, I would argue that Statesville did not serve as a capital of North Carolina. Thoughts? 

Monday, May 04, 2015

On the Road in May.

It looks like things are going to calm down just a little over the next month. I have not quite as many places to go, but I am taking the Capitals of the Confederacy talk to different states. Not only will I be in North Carolina, but in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Florida as well. I look forward to meeting with folks and continuing the conversation!

May 2 - Rocky Ford, NC
May 5 - Creedmore/Stem, NC SCV
May 7 - Elizabethton, TN  SCV  
May 11 - Gastonia, NC SCV
May 12 - Rock Hill, SC  SCV
May 19 - Ocoee, FL SCV
May 20 - Leesburg Public Library, FL
May 22 - New Smyrna Museum of History, FL  
May 23 - Ft. Myers, FL  SCV

Monday, April 27, 2015

39 Kegs of Mexican Silver Dollars

As I travel about and talk to folks about the last days of the Confederate government in North Carolina, the fate of the gold and silver of the Confederate treasury almost always comes up during the discussion. The history and folklore of the Confederate treasury is as varied as the uniforms worn by Confederate generals. This post is going to look at one aspect of the story. The 39 (or 40, depending on the source) kegs of Mexican Silver dollars.

As the story goes, these 39 kegs of silver were from the sale of cotton to the Mexican government. They arrived in Danville about the same time as Jefferson Davis did, sometime around April 3 or 4. And the folklore further states that the kegs of silver were buried in Danville, and reside there to this day.

I'm not so sure why there is a mystery regarding the 39 kegs of Mexican silver coins. $39,000 in Mexican Silver was delivered to Joseph E. Johnston in April 1865. (One source states it was $37,679.96.) Davis sent it to Johnston for safe keeping, and at one point, even asked for it back. Johnston refused, and instead, paid his men with it. Johnston had been clamoring for weeks for money to pay his troops. According to Maj. G. W. F. Harper of the 58th North Carolina Troops, each man received “one dollar and fourteen cents” in “Mexican silver dollars.” “There being no means of making change for the cents, the men, in groups of seven, drew for the surplus dollar.”

Why was this money not moved to Charlotte and deposited in the old US Mint building with the remaining treasury gold, silver, and notes on April 8? Because the other funds from the Confederacy treasury were taken by rail. Stoneman's men wrecked the railroad around Greensboro on April 11. Transporting 39 kegs of silver would have been too much for Davis and his party to undertake. It was a struggle to come up with enough horses and ambulances/wagons to move the Confederate cabinet.

This leads me to another question: there are plenty of books out there about the lost Confederate gold/treasury. I understand this. Sensationalism sells and who does not love a good buried treasure story?  But is there not a book that looks at the hard, cold facts regarding the final disposition of the very limited funds of the Confederate government? Maybe a future project......

Friday, April 24, 2015

Civil War's End Re-enactment at Bennett Place and Reunited Nation Events from Cultural Resources

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Union Gen. William T. Sherman and Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston negotiated the largest troop surrender of the Civil War on April 26, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War. Re-enactment of those negotiations at Bennett Place State Historic Site, and other developments from the Civil War including a "Soldier Walk Home" and "Hotel de 'Afrique" lecture, will be presented through June at venues of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Bennett Place, Durham. April 18. Bennett Place Museum Grand Opening. Public opening of a totally redesigned museum gallery featuring artifacts from the Bennett family, soldiers involved in the peace negotiations and more. Part of the observance (April 17-26) of the final Civil War surrender negotiations which started April 17, 1965. 10 a.m. Free.

N.C. Museum of Art, Raleigh. April 21. Arms for Art, and Other Shenanigans. Discover the little-known facts behind the bust of Confederate Vice President John J. Calhoun in the NCMA collection at a lecture by Curator of Modern Art John Coffey. The bust was at the center of an extraordinary conspiracy in 1861 as North Carolina prepared to join the Confederacy. 6:30 p.m. $50 non-members, $45 members.

Mountain Gateway Museum, Old Fort. April 25. Pioneer Day. An encampment of Civil War interpreters and a display of the 58th Regiment North Carolina Troops battle flag will be featured at this annual festival celebrating the heritage of the North Carolina Mountains. 9 a.m. Free.

Bennett Place, Durham. April 25-26. The Dawn of Peace Surrender Negotiations, 150th Anniversary Commemoration. Re-enactment of surrender negotiations between Union Gen. William T. Sherman and Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, with military escorts and final stacking of arms of the Army of Tennessee. The surrender of 89,270 troops led to subsequent surrender of remaining Confederate forces. Programming includes military encampments and drills, historian and author lectures, civilian refugee camps, vendors, food trucks and more. 10 a.m. $10, ages 12 and under free. Off-site parking $5.

Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City. May 2. North Carolina Civil War Monuments Lecture and Book Signing. Dr. Douglas Butler, an independent historian and practicing physician, will give a presentation on his recent book North Carolina Civil War Monuments: An Illustrated History. 11 a.m. Free.

Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City. May 2. After Appomattox: North Carolina Civil War Monuments, 1865-1965. An exhibit focusing on the monuments across the state that commemorates the Civil War. In the century following the Confederacy's demise, North Carolinians memorialized the Union and Confederate dead in cemeteries and courthouse lawns throughout the Old North State. Some towns, such as Hertford, even had monuments to both sides. North Carolina photographer and author Douglas Butler spent five years documenting the state's 109 Civil War monuments.

N.C. Museum of History, Raleigh. May 6. History Corner: Civil War Kids. Program for ages 6-9 with parent. Learn what it was like to have battles in your backyard, and what life was like during and just after the Civil War. 10 a.m. Register at $3 plus tax per child/$1 plus tax for museum members.

N.C. Museum of History, Raleigh. May 6. History Hunters: War's End? Program for ages 10-13. Learn what the end of the Civil War meant in North Carolina, and how freedom changed the lives of the formerly enslaved as well as former owners. 11:15 a.m. Register at $3 plus tax per child/$1 plus tax for members.

State Capitol, Raleigh. May 9. Raleigh Occupied. A Civil War era troop encampment on the Union Square lawn and character interpretations that will recall the occupation of the State Capitol by troops of Union General William T. Sherman.10 a.m. Free.

Museum of the Cape Fear, Fayetteville. May 9. Civil War Bands. Dr. Robert Downing, founder of the Regiment Band, 11th N.C. Troops, will give a presentation on the history and the purpose of Civil War bands. Original and reproduction Civil War-era instruments will also be on display. 2 p.m. Free.

Duke Homestead, Durham. May 11-23. Soldier Walk Home. A Civil War re-enactor makes a walk from New Bern to Durham, following a route much like Duke tobacco magnate Washington Duke made at the end of the Civil War. Stops in communities along the way will celebrate local history. A tribute to all soldiers returning home from war and a celebration of reunification.
Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras. Civil War on Hatteras Island. Author and historian Drew Pullen shares the fascinating story of the war on Hatteras Island, lending colorful insight to the island's memorable history. 2:30 p.m. Free.

Somerset Place, Creswell. May 16. Music and Literature of the Civil War. Take a glimpse into the war time experiences of Somerset Plantation residents and learn what they encountered in their own words. Costumed interpreters will share true stories adapted from letters. Visitors will encounter the characters on a walking tour. Music historian Simon Spaulding will perform Civil War music and soldier songs. 11 a.m. Adults $6.41/Under 12 $3.20/Friends $5.12, tax included.

Duke Homestead, Durham. May 23. Bull Fest. In addition to traditional fun, there will be a focus on doing without in 1865. Re-enactor Philip Brown arrives after walking from New Bern in a route similar to that of Washington Duke as he returned home from the Civil War. Brown will arrive in Durham on May 22 and have a welcome program before journeying to Duke Homestead to a welcome home celebration of substitutions at a time of doing without. 11 a.m. Free.

Historic Stagville, Durham. May 30. Freedom 150. A 150th Civil War commemoration examining the effects of the war on African Americans in the South as the war ended. The joys and uncertainties of the newly freed will be examined as historic interpreters present happenings at and around Stagville Plantation. Children's activities, hikes through Horton Grove Nature Preserve led by the Triangle Land Conservancy, other demonstrations, and historian Joseph McGill will discuss his work in raising awareness of preservation of slave cabins. 10 a.m. Free.

Bentonville Battlefield, Four Oaks. June 13. A Day in the Life of a Civil War Soldier. Members of the 18tth N.C. and 1st/11th N.C. Regiments will discuss soldiers' daily routine, uniforms and equipment. Infantry and artillery demonstrations also. 10 a.m. Free.

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras. June 16.Salty Dawgs Lecture Series: Hotel de'
Afrique. Local historian Drew Pullen shares a presentation on Hotel De' Afrique on Hatteras Island, the first safe haven for African Americans in North Carolina during the Civil War. He is author of two books that focus on Outer Banks history and will also do book signings. 2 p.m. Free. 

For additional information call (919) 807-7389 or visit The Divisions of State Historic Sites, History Museums and Art Museums are within the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Last Meeting of the Confederate Government

Over the past couple of weeks, as I have been out speaking about the various Confederate capitals, the question frequently arises about other sites in South Carolina and Georgia. It is my argument that once Jefferson Davis rode out of Charlotte, the Confederate government ceased to exist. The final important decision made by Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Cabinet was to accept the terms worked out by Joe Johnston and William T. Sherman.

I want to look specifically at the monument in Washington, Georgia, dedicated in 1938. On that monument is a list of names of men present, meeting with Davis, when Davis dissolved the Confederate government. I mean no disrespect to my family and friends in Georgia, but not everyone carved on this monument was present at the Washington meeting.

The names carved on this rock are:
Jefferson Davis, President
John H. Reagan, Postmaster General
Stephen P. Mallory, Secretary of Navy
John C. Breckenridge, Secretary of War
M. H. Clark, acting Secretary of the Treasury
Samuel Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General
C. E. Thorburn, Naval Purchasing agent
Braxton Bragg, Military Advisor
I. M. St. John , Commissary General
A. R. Lawton, Quartermaster General
Burton Harrison, Private Secretary
J. T. Wood, Aide-de-camp
Francis Lubbock, Aide-de-Camp
William P. Johnston, Aide-de-Camp

This meeting took place on May 4, 1865. Breckenridge and Reagan were still at the Savannah River, paying off the Confederate Cavalry escort. Also with Breckenridge and Reagan were Micajah Clark, A. R. Lawton, Isaac M. St. John. Reagan would not catch up to Davis until after Davis had left Washington. Breckenridge never rejoined Davis. William C. Davis's biography of Breckenridge also hints that Bragg was with Breckinridge at this time. However, McWhineny and Hallock, in Braxton Bragg and Confederate Defeat, write that Bragg was with Davis in Washington, leaving the president's party the next day.

Clint Johnson writes in Pursuit: The Chase, Capture, Persecution and Surprising Release of Jefferson Davis, that Mallory left before the meeting was called, joining with Brig. Gen. Louis T. Wigfall, and heading toward Atlanta.

Samuel Cooper, also on the monument as having been at the meeting on May 4 in Washington, Georgia, never left Charlotte. Cooper received his parole in the Queen City.

So of the above list, we know that Davis was there, maybe Bragg, and Thorton, Harrison, Wood, Lubbock, and Johnston. This is a far cry from the fourteen listed above.