Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Col. Isaac E. Avery honored

There have been two articles in national publications recently that talk about the finding and marking of Col. Isaac Avery’s grave.

The first was in the January issue of Gettysburg Magazine. Entitled "Etched in Blood," this article was written by Richard E. Clem. Clem provides a brief overview of Avery’s life. A history of the 6th NCST is also given, with attention to the role of the 6th NCST at Sharpsburg. Clem then goes on to write about the 6th NCST at Gettysburg on day two, when Avery was mortally wounded. After Avery’s death, his body servant buried him in the Riverview Cemetery in Washington County, Maryland. Avery’s body was later disinterred and reburied in the Washington Confederate/Rose Hill Cemetery in Hagerstown.

Clem’s article is illustrated with a war-time image of Avery, Avery’s letter to his father, the Riverview Cemetery and Avery’s new grave marker.

The second article appeared in the latest issue of Civil War Times. This one page article features both a photo of Avery’s new gravemarker, and one of Avery. The brief article describes Avery’s mortal wounding, his famous letter to his father, and the work of Richard Clem in finding and marking the grave.

If you get a chance, check out both of these articles.

Monday, February 25, 2008

58th NCT/Upcoming book signing/Nashville prison

Wow - the title is almost as long as the post!

Today, I finished the draft for the chapter on Missionary Ridge. I started the next chapter, which covers the December 1863 to March 1864 period of time.

On Thursday, I will be speaking to the SCV Camp in Asheville. If you get a chance, stop by and say hi.

PS - anyone have any information on the prison (for Confederates) in Nashville? I’ve been able to find this: The prison was possibly located in the Maxwell House Hotel, also known during the war as "Zollicoffer’s Barracks." The prison hospital was "Dr. Ford’s church on Cherry Hill." That is about all that I have.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Col. Washington M. Hardy

If you dig long enough, you can usually find information on a person. I’ve done it for Col. John B. Palmer. I started with a paragraph from the troop books and over the past ten years, I’ve been able to collect about three inches of material.

However, mounds of information on Washington M. Hardy, colonel of the 60th NCT, seem to elude me.

I am distantly related to the colonel. He and I share a common grandfather, a Revolutionary War soldier from Virginia. Washington’s family moved to Edgefield District, South Carolina, and mine to Limestone County, Alabama.

Washington Morris Hardy was born February 8, 1835, in Buncombe County, North Carolina. His father was Dr. J. F. E. Hardy, the noted Asheville physician. His mother was Jane Patton. Washington was educated as a lawyer prior to the war.

With the dissolution of the Union, and the prospect of war at hand, Washington joined the Buncombe Riflemen on April 27, 1861. Washington was elected 1st Lieutenant on the same day. The riflemen became Company E, 1st North Carolina Volunteers, also known as the "Bethel Regiment" for their participation in the battle of Big Bethel, Virginia, in June 1861. Washington was mustered out of service on November 12-13, 1861.

Returning home, Washington commenced raising a new company. On January 27, 1862, he was appointed captain of the Buncombe Light Artillery. Hardy’s company became Company A, 60th North Carolina Troops, and on March 1, 1863, he was appointed major, to date from February 21. On June 10, 1863, Hardy was promoted to colonel of the 60th NCT, to rank from May 14, 1863. According to the troop books, Hardy was with his regiment in May and June 1863, and November 1, 1863, until August 23, 1864. However, it appears that Maj. James T. Weaver was in command of the regiment during the battle of Chattanooga. The troop books also state that Hardy went home on leave on August 23, 1864, and that there is no further record. That it not exactly true.

During part of the Atlanta Campaign, Hardy is listed as in command of Reynold’s brigade (AofT). During the Carolinas Campaign, Hardy commanded a brigade composed of the 7th North Carolina Reserves, the 10th North Carolina Battalion, and the 50th North Carolina Troops. On March 31, 1865, he is listed as being back in command of the 60th North Carolina. However, once the 58th and 60th NCT are consolidated (on April 9, 1865), Hardy is not listed as the commanding officer.

Washington married Rebecca Carson. After the war, he worked as either a librarian, or assistant in the documents room for the United States House of Representatives. Hardy died in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in March 1880. His simple obit, in the March 31, 1880 edition of the Carolina Spartan, read:

Col. W. M. Hardy died last Sunday night at the residence of Mrs. Carson of this place. He was a native of Asheville, a son of Dr. Hardy. For several years he has been in Washington. His health failing, he returned to the South a few months ago. He was continued in his room several weeks. He was buried in the Episcopal Church yard Tuesday evening.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

58th Update

Sorry for the lack of deep, meaningful posts lately. I’ve been hard at work on the 58th NCT book. I posted last week about flags for the regiment. This week, I’m stuck at Chattanooga. The regiment is in the trenches at the foot of Missionary Ridge and Federals are getting ready to attack.

Here is my sticking point. On November 19, Colonel Palmer is transferred to western North Carolina as the new departmental commander for the area. That leaves the 58th NCT with no field officers. Palmer is gone, Lt. Col. Kirby is dead, and Major Dula is out wounded. Confederate officials decided to temporally consolidate the 58th NCT and the 60th NCT under the command of the 60th’s colonel, Washington M. Hardy (a distant relative of mine).

So, does the 58th and 60th fight as a single entity, or do they fight separately? Does it matter? Well, yes. Part of the 60th NCT becomes demoralized during the retreat up Missionary Ridge, and refuses to fight any more. Did that part include any members of the 58th NCT?

There was an article published in the July 2000 issue of the North Carolina Historical Review by Weymouth Jordan and John Chapla on Reynold’s brigade at Missionary Ridge. They believe that the 60th NCT was on the left, followed by the 58th NCT, followed by the 54th VA, and the 63rd VA. I’m not sure how they reached this conclusion. I’ve checked their sources, and I just don’t see it.

This is the third of what I consider fairly serious questions that I’ve been unable to answer so far. Maybe time will tell.

I did find this jewel recently. Captain (later major) Harper (Company H) is writing home about new recruits coming to the regiment (October 1863). He called one of them a "plug ugly," most likely referencing the Baltimore street gang. I thought that was pretty interesting!


Two stories in North Carolina newspapers today. The first looks at the Confederate’s attack on the USS Underwriter. This article can be found here.

The second article deals with a Museum in Wilmington searching for descendants of soldiers in the United States Colored Troops. It can be found here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Fort Anderson event

Great article this morning in the Wilmington Star concerning the upcoming event at Fort Anderson. The writer of the article comes up with three things you probably did not know about the earthen fort. I had a chance to visit Fort Anderson some six years ago, and I was impressed with the size of the earthworks.

Check out the article here

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ivy Ritchie

Joel Fesperman emailed me last evening. They were successful on Wednesday. The historians serving as judges ruled that the remains in Poplar Grove Cemetery are those of Ivy Ritchie, of the 14th North Carolina.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Well, I was supposed to be off to Petersburg today for the Ivy Ritchie trail. Our local weather guy changed the forecast yesterday, to sleet and snow, starting at noon and lasting through the evening. So, I opted to stay home.

I’ve come to a place in the 58th NCT manuscript where the color guard of the regiment is awarded four Colt revolving rifles (from the 21st OH) for their role in the attack on Snodgrass Hill. That’s pretty cool - Colt revolving rifles. I wonder how the fifth man in the color squad felt? There should have been six men in the color guard. One to carry the flag (often a sergeant) and five corporals.

But, here is my problem - I don’t know what type of flag the regiment carried prior to January/February 1864.

I ran into this same problem when I was writing about the 37th NCT. The first flag that I could find good documentation on was their 3rd bunting ANV flag issued in early December 1862. What the regiment carried through New Bern, Hanover, Seven Days, Cedar Mountains, Second Manassas, Harper’s Ferry, and Sharpsburg, eludes me to this day.

So what do you think? Did they have a state flag? A department of East Tennessee (McGowan’s) flag?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Do not adjust your set–Guest blogger

Michael has kindly lent me his cyber pen for this entry. In addition to teaming up with Michael as editor and listening ear for ideas, I am an English instructor at our local community college, in which capacity I was recently asked to facilitate book discussions for our region’s community reading program (Together We Read). Since the book was Lee Smith’s Agate Hill, I was delighted to bring in both my role as English teacher and as Civil War interpreter.

If you are not familiar with the book, it uses journals, letters, and other "historic" snippets to follow Molly Petree from her childhood as an orphan in Reconstruction North Carolina through a life filled with tragedy, triumph, and mystery. While Molly is fictional, her life resonates with much that is historical in our area. Although the novel continues through the early twentieth century and Molly’s years as an elderly woman, I found the first section of the book, the 1870s, to be the most effective. Since this is an era I seem to belong in myself, I was completely entranced by Molly’s experiences. Lee Smith is a writer who does her homework, so Molly’s story, and that of her family, is deeply rooted in the actual experiences of Reconstruction North Carolinians.
For the book discussions, I came in period dress and helped community readers to understand more about the privations and hardships of the war, which were very keenly felt by women in northwestern North Carolina. The questions and discussions were wonderful, with many community readers finding themselves amazed to learn how realistic Smith’s portrayal is. I highly recommend the book for a deeper insight into postwar life (and an insight less traumatic for the reader than Terrell Garren’s well written but excruciating Secret of War). As with most of Smith’s work, the characters are fascinating and the story engrossing. Perhaps thi book, and its use in a variety of community programs, will stir more interest in the grim aftermath of the Civil War in North Carolina.
Elizabeth Baird Hardy

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

More Dixie thoughts

I have often wondered what drew Southerners to the song "Dixie." It was written by a Northerner, it was written for the stage, and it was written in dialect that would have been unfamiliar to most Southerners. It did not have a universal appeal in the South prior to the war. There is a good chance that it had only been heard in New Orleans prior to 1861.

Jefferson Davis used the song in a procession leading his inaugural procession to the steps of the capital in Montgomery when he was sworn in as the first president of the Confederate States. However, it was not a wagon load of black-faced minstrels plucking on banjos and sawing on fiddles leading the procession. It was a brass brand that used the song. In fact, many of the cases where the song is mentioned among the generals and politicians were brass band versions. It was also popular music for the parlor crowd. They would gather around their pianos to hear some lovely maiden play the song.

Given the song’s background and lyrics, it is not surprising that Southern soldiers made up their own words. They made their own words by the scores. Some words were serious, some comical. Probably the most famous words beside Dan Emmett’s were by Albert Pike. Many years after the war, portions of the UDC wanted to do away with Emmett’s words adn just use Pike’s. They did not get far.

Many people think that "Dixie" is the national anthem of the South. It is not. "God Save the South" is, a song set to the tune of, yes, you guessed it, "God Save the Queen" (or King).
I am almost willing to bet that for every version of the song that we do have, one has been lost, not written down by the soldiers or their descendants. There are probably a few still tucked away in some trunk in some attic, just waiting to be found... hopefully before they wind up in a landfill.

Monday, February 04, 2008

More on Dixie

When I submitted the article on "Dixie," I wanted to have a Confederate version of the song and a Federal version of the song as sidebars. CWT did just that, just not the specific versions that I had chosen. For the Federal version, I chose a set of lyrics written by Fannie Crosby, one of America’s greatest lyricists. Never heard of her? She put somewhere close to 10,000 poems on paper. Beside working with George F. Root during the war, she also wrote such familiar tunes as "Blessed Assurance," "Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior," "Safe in the Arms of Jesus," and many, many more. If you are still not familiar with her, you need to get back in church.

But I digress.

I have been collecting versions of Dixie written during the war for probably around 20 years. I probably have 100 versions in this collection. Some of them are whole songs, some just a verse or two. The Confederate version I chose was penned by Lt. George B. Johnston of Company G, 28th North Carolina Troops. The version mentions different companies and their captains, like the Yadkin Stars, commanded by captain, and later colonel William H. A. Speer. The composer went on to serve on Brig. Gen. James H. Lane’s staff as assistant adjutant general, but resigned in August 1863, and died of consumption in April 1864.

Away down South in the land of cotton,
Times of peace are not forgotten
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.
For though the cloud of the war hangs o’er.
We soon shall see its form no more:
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

Then shout "Hurrah for Dixie!" Hurrah! Hurrah!
In Dixie Land we’ll take our stand, To live and die for Dixie!
Hurrah! Hurrah! We’ll live and die for Dixie!
Hurrah! Hurrah! We’ll live and die for Dixie!

‘Tis true their ships our ports blockade
and cruel feet our soil invade;
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.
But When the Twenty-eighth gets there,
The scamps will run in wild despair.
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

When "Norman" brings his boys from "Surry,"
The Yankees better move in a hurry;
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.
The "Invincibles," if well equipped
and led by "Edwards," can’t be whipped.
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

The Yankee rogues would better pack,
When the "Stanley Hunters find their track;
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.
When "Lowe" shall bid his "Farmers" fire,
His foes will reap destruction dire.
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

As "Barringer" leads on his "Grays,"
Full many a Yankee’ll end his days:
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.
When "Kinyoun" comes with his "Yadkin Boys,"
He’ll put an end to the Yankee joys.
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

And "Martin’s Guards of Independence,"
Have fame in store for their descendants:
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.
And "Wright" with his "Cleveland Regulators"
Will send dismay to the Yankee traitors.
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

And "Speer" with his brilliant "Yadkin Stars"
Will die in defense of the Stars and Bars;
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.
While the "Stanly Guards," by "Moody" led,
Will be the Yankees’ special dread/
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

The Twenty-eighth is organized
With "Reeves" and "Lowe" both highly prized;
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.
If "Lane" will only be their colonel,
The Yankees’ fate will be eternal.
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Shameless Self Promotion

Today, I received the advance copies of the new issue of Civil War Times. This great publication, the longest running of the Civil War magazines, features an article of mine. Entitled "Look Away Dixie Land" the article provides a detailed look at Dan Emmet and his famous song. If you get a chance, go by and get a copy. Tell CWT how much you enjoyed the article. Better yet, subscribe. CWT has plans to publish another of my articles, this one on James Lane and his brigade at Spotsylvania Court House. Their sister publication also has two article of mine in their files.