Monday, February 26, 2007

War-time bread riots

There was an article today in the Salisbury Post about the Bread Riot there in 1863. There was at least one other female led riot in North Carolina during the war, this one in Burnsville in April 1864. I wonder if the idea behind the Salisbury riot led to the one in Yancey County?

Shortage of food items resulted in Bread Riot of 1863

A bread riot in Salisbury? Oh, come on, now. Who would ever consider a riot over bread, for heavens sake? I mean, we've already had to throw away the peanut butter and now the bread?
But don't worry. Throw away the peanut butter if you want to, but there's no reason right now to get rid of your bread.

Possibly the peanut butter problem prompted Post reader Tammy Ramey to bring Salisbury's Bread Riot to our attention. Not that she was planning a bread riot of her own, but she apparently thought it was interesting enough to share with other readers.

Salisbury's Bread Riot, probably its first and only, happened March 18, 1863, when the streets of Salisbury were invaded by a group of about 50 determined local women, identified only as wives and mothers of Confederate soldiers. And the Carolina Watchman, Salisbury's newspaper of that day, was quick to let citizens know about "A Female Raid."

"Between 40 and 50 soldiers' wives, followed by a numerous train of curious female observers," the Watchman reported, "made an attack on several of our business men last Wednesday, whom they regarded as speculators in the necessaries of life."

The women believed that local merchants had been profiteering by raising the prices of necessary foods and demanded that the merchants sell these goods at government prices.
But the merchants refused, prompting the women to break down one shop door with hatchets and threaten other storekeepers.

As stated earlier, the newspaper described the event as a "Female Raid" and added that it netted the women 23 barrels of flour as well as quantities of molasses, salt and even $20 in cash.
But Salisbury wasn't the only place that had a "bread riot."

A food riot in Richmond, Va., also in 1863, was more widely known, and both are dramatic evidence of the stresses on local life brought on by the Civil War, according to the University of North Carolina's "This Month in North Carolina History Archives."

"Volunteers for the Confederate army from Salisbury and surrounding Rowan County at the beginning of the war were by and large young, unmarried men," the UNC article read.
But by 1862 the demand for fresh troops brought about the increasing enlistment of older men with wives and families.

Rowan had a large number of small farms, and when a husband or father left to fight the war, those farms suffered a serious economic loss.

"The failure of the county's attempt to provide for soldiers' families also contributed to the hardship."

But the women who participated in the incident were never prosecuted, which indicated their neighbors understood and sympathized.

And the Carolina Watchman criticized the county commissioners who failed to provide adequate help for the soldiers' families, not the women. They should, the article said, "go, all blushing with shame for the scene enacted in our streets on Wednesday last."

By then the scene was over.

But not its memory.

In fact, members of a group of like-minded people have recently organized a co-op named — how's this for a long memory? — the Bread Riot Co-op.

Nobody's planning a bread riot, but there's nothing like a good story, and a true one focused on buying locally and eating organic foods to make sure people remember and support the new co-op.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Old Forts Found on Roanoke Island

Greetings folks! I switch this account over to the new "Google" on Saturday and I’m just now getting it to work again.

This article about the discovery of an old Fort on Roanoke Island appeared in the Otter Banks Sentinel this past weekend. Really exciting news.

Ft. Raleigh? New find on Roanoke Island creates stir

Scott Dawson, a native of Hatteras Island and now a resident of Colington, has shared the location of a discovery he made on National Park Service property with that agency, which has now secured the area and posted surveillance to insure that intruders don't disturb the site.

Doug Stover, park historian of the Park Service, said that park officials think that the site may be the remains of Fort Blanchard, a Civil War fort.

But if proven correct in his beliefs, Dawson will be the envy of many archaeologists who have spent their careers in the search of the long-lost Ft. Raleigh, Ralph Lane's 1585 fort on Roanoke Island.

Dawson located the site on Feb. 6 and shared his findings with the Sentinel on the following day. To ensure the preservation of the site, it was agreed at that time to alert the National Park Service, and that the Outer Banks Sentinel would delay writing about it until officials had time to examine and secure the site.

A call was placed to Stover by this reporter to make arrangements for Dawson to take officials to the area. Since then, the site which includes earthworks, trenches and embankments, has been visited by several interested parties, including NPS officials, head of the Lost Colony Center for Science and Research, Fred Willard and Dawson. During one of those visits, Dawson, under a permit issued by the NPS, used a metal detector and, he said, there were numerous "hits," most of which indicated silver down under the layers of dirt.

"You wouldn't find this much silver at a Civil War site," said Dawson who is a Civil War historian. "What was interesting about using the metal detector is that it never registered lead or zinc, the two most common hits one gets when combing over a Civil War site, due to the bullets being made of lead or occasionally zinc."

Dawson agreed that there is probably a Civil War encampment on the top of the site, but said that he believes the encampment is on top of the 1585 Ft. Raleigh.

"Through careful analysis of the primary sources of the 16th century voyages," said Dawson, "I found two sentences from two separate first-hand accounts that gave me minor clues as to the location of the fort.

"Later, I found vague references to the fort's location in regimental histories from various Civil War first-hand accounts. They gave me enough confidence that I narrowed the location down to one of two places.

"Both places contained fresh water according to detailed maps from the 1700's. I decided to find where the fresh water sources used to be and then walk in a spiral pattern from them until I was at a radius of 100 meters. It didn't take that long. On Feb. 6, on my way to one of locations I had narrowed it down to, I found deep earthworks. I took some pictures and continued to search the area. Then I found more trenches cutting 90 degree angles at times and forming a large enclosure.
"I also found large square holes as well as smaller ones that formed patterns."

Dawson's primary sources for locating the site were documents written almost three centuries apart.

According to Dawson, during the Civil War, the Union Army's 27th Massachusetts camped out on top of Ft. Raleigh. He obtained that information, in part, from a letter written by William Derby, a soldier in the 27th. Derby also wrote that guards were posted to keep vandals out of the area which they were told was the original Ft. Raleigh.

"This is all over their [written] regimental history," said Dawson. "However, no one knew where they camped. Colonel Green, a Confederate commander in charge of the 2nd North Carolina, landed at Wiers Point at the end of the battle on Feb. 8, 1862. He arrived just in time to surrender because the fight was already over, but before he did, he had his men throw all their guns and equipment into a ravine -- most likely the one that is on Wiers Point since that is where he landed and surrendered.

"On the morning of February 9th, the 27th Massachusetts found these guns, and the record says they were in a ravine close by. So I went to that ravine and looked all over the place starting with a point of land that runs out into the marsh because, in John White's account, he says that in 1590 he went to a point of land opposite Dasamonquepue, which is an Indian town in Manns Harbor.

"So I went to the point of land next to the ravine south of Wiers Point. In John White's account, it never says why he went to that point of land. Only after he went there did he then round the northern tip to the settlement. Obviously, the settlement was not inside the fort or they would not have built a palisade around it.

"Also in 1587, when they are looking for Grenville's 15 men, they searched for a day and then took the boat to the fort the following day. He probably went to the settlement and after [finding] no sign of the men, then went to the fort where barracks or a few more houses were.

"There are lots of points of land on the Dasamonquepeu side of Roanoke, but the Civil War stuff narrowed that down for me. The presence of fresh water narrowed it down further."

Stover said that the next phase in the NPS investigation will be to scan the area after clearing away some of the brush. And in March, NPS archeologist Bennie Keel will visit the site to make his own preliminary assessment.

In the meantime, until further information is available, Ft. Raleigh remains a mystery. Although in the future the NPS may partner with private archaeologists on the project, currently it is a Park Service 480-2234

Friday, February 16, 2007

I wonder whatever happened to....

Back in 1998 or 1999, I was combing through the Compiled Service Records for the 37th North Carolina Troops in preparation for writing that book. I came across this entry for Samuel S. Ferguson, first (or orderly) sergeant for Company F: "In arrest for murder charges, January - February 1865."

Ferguson was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina, ca.1841. He was a farmer prior to enlisting in the "Western Carolina Stars" on September 24, 1861. He was mustered in as a private. The "Stars" became Company F, 37th North Carolina Troops on November 20, 1861. Ferguson was promoted to corporal on December 1, 1862, and to sergeant in March-August 1863, and finally to first sergeant on May 1, 1864. He was present or accounted for until January-February 1865 when he was arrested. Ferguson surrendered with the rest of his comrades on April 9, 1865.

I was never able to find out who Ferguson was charged with killing, nor what happened to him after the war. Was he released from arrest, or was he tagging along with the regiment as they made their way to Appomattox? I was also unable to find out what happened to Ferguson after the war. He seems to have... disappeared. Maybe there was something to those charges that forced him to flee from the area.

The compiled service records are full of those kinds of little mysteries.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

North Carolina and Secession

A couple of days ago, I finished reading The Secession Movement in North Carolina written by Joseph C. Sitterson and published in 1939. This was the first time that I had read the book after having owned it for almost a year. I pulled out a few quotes for readers, all written between November 1860 and May 1861:

"Who can prepare for a declaration of independence, appealing to a candid world for its approbation and sympathy, upon the ground that we have been outvoted in an election in which we took the chances of success, and a candidate has been elected who, however obnoxious, we have deemed unworthy to compete with us for our votes?" – North Carolina Standard November 17, 1860.

Lincoln’s election "means a sweeping away of all guaranties of State equality in the Union–... It means that slave property is to be excluded from the Territories, and new slave States from the Union. –it means that the whole influence of the Federal Government is to be cast into the scale of opposition to the institutions of our section of the Union...
It means, further, that while all this is to be done, we are compelled to pay a tribute in the shape of a high protective Tariff, which tribute is to swell the wealth and insolence of our oppressors." – North Carolina Standard November 15, 1860.

The result in Black Republican rule will be "riots between the different classes of our white population, our whole social system convulsed in the agonies of dissolution,... the whole world against us in sentiment, and our own government our most bitter and unrelenting foe–great God, what hope would there be? As we stood at bay, frenzied, maddened, but despairing, with our wives and children clinging to us pale and panic stricken–death itself would be a refuge." – Wilmington Journal January 10, 1861.

"People of North Carolina, shall this programme be carried out? Will you suffer yourselves to be spit upon in this way? Are you submissionist to the dictations of South Carolina?... Are you to be called cowards because you do not follow the crazy lead of that crazy state?" – Wilmington Herald December 1860.

"Remember, sir, the South has no share in this copartnership. The Northeast is to get the tariff; the Northwest the Pacific railroad and the homestead bill; and the Republicans, or Abolitionists, are to get anti-slavery.... The sagacious men of the South see the danger; and sooner than submit to be cheated and plundered in this mode, with the prospect in the future of the abolition of slavery and the utter destruction of their section, they are coming resolutely into the struggle." –Thomas Clingman, Congressional Globe.

On Lincoln’s inaugural address "It is deceptive. It coats with the semblance of peace and friendship what smells of gore and hate. It is, in short, such a declaration of sentiments as should and will bring every Southern man to his feet." – Wilmington Journal March 13, 1861.

"Freeman of North Carolina, awake! arise! and throw off the yoke of the oppressor." – North Carolina Whig April 9, 1861

"Civil war can be glorious news to none but demons, or thoughtless fools, or maddened men." – B. F. Moore to his daughter, April 15, 1861.

Lincoln "could have devised no scheme more effectual than the one he had pursued, to overthrow the friends of Union here... I am left no other alternative but to fight for or against my section. I can not hesitate. Lincoln has made us a unit to resist until we repel our invaders or die." – Jonathan Worth, May 13, 1861.

Monday, February 12, 2007

New Books

I’ve received three new books in the past week to help with my research on the 58th North Carolina Troops. They are: Lincolnites and Rebels: A Divided Town [Knoxville] in the American Civil War by Robert T. McKenzie; Contested Borderland: The Civil War in Appalachian Kentucky and Virginia by Brian D. McKnight and The Terrible Time: The Civil War in Kentucky’s Bell, Knox, Laurel, and Whitley Counties by Wayne Taylor. I am looking forward to reading these.

The 58th North Carolina spent its first 13 months of service in east Tennessee (with a couple of forays into Kentucky). It was the 58th NC’s Colonel Palmer who was placed in charge of the recently captured Cumberland Gap in September 1862 as the rest of the Confederate army marched north to do battle. I am really looking forward to reading these books and maybe even expanding my writing about the area beyond the 58th North Carolina Troops.
Other North Carolina regiments, like the 62nd and 64th North Carolina Troops, were also at Cumberland Gap.

Appalachia has interested me for sometime. My own ancestors went from western North Carolina, through Cumberland Gap, and into eastern Kentucky not long before the Civil War. And, Cumberland Gap National Park has always been a great stopping point as we travel to my wife’s parents’ home in Berea. I’ve spent a lot of time in the area (even seen the Glacier Girl) and I look forward to returning soon.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Davidson, NC

Ken Knouf wrote a few days ago asking what I liked about Davidson.

I think Davidson is an ideal place - it is a small town, but has culture and history. If I had to live in an "urban" area, I think Davidson would make a good place. Davidson reminds me of Banner Elk, with Lees-McRae College, which is not far from where I live.

And, it has history, mostly associated with the college. No, no large scale battles were waged on the grounds, etc. The school did remain open during the war, and some of the students were wounded soldiers. Federal soldiers did make a visit in May 1865. "They broke open the doors and windows of the recitation rooms and chapel and did damage to apparatus and buildings amounting to eight hundred dollars."

We’ve already mentioned that Confederate General D. H. Hill is buried in the cemetery. Hill taught mathematics at Davidson College before the war. A good description of Hill’s life can be found here:

But that history goes beyond just the war years. Woodrow Wilson was once a student at Davidson, before going to Princeton; the school was a leader in x-ray technology; student Wilson P. Mills was a Rhodes scholar; Dr. C. Alphonso Smith, founder of the Virginia Folklore Society; Vareen Bell, novelist; and future North Carolina governors Robert B. Glenn, James E. Holshouser, and James G. Martin were all students.

All that, not to mention the connection with Peter Stuart Ney, alleged to be Marshall Michael Ney of Napoleon’s army, who designed the school motto: Alenda Lux Ubi Orta Libertas
(Let Learning Be Cherished Where Liberty Has Arisen)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Confederate graves at Bentonville

I read recently that a mass grave of Confederate soldiers has been discovered at Bentonville. You can read the story at:

I was at Bentonville this past September, conducting research for my book on the 58th North Carolina. While there, I took the picture on the right of the first Confederate monument erected at Bentonville in March 1895, 30 years after the battle.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Will the first real KIA please stand up

For decades, we as North Carolinians have been proud of the fact the first soldier killed in battle was fighting in a North Carolina regiment. Henry Lawson Wyatt was a Virginia native, but was living in Edgecombe County when the war broke out. The 19-year-old Wyatt volunteered to serve in Company A, 1st North Carolina Volunteers. On June 10, 1861, he was killed at the battle of Big Bethel Church, Virginia. Wyatt was heralded as a hero and given a hero’s burial in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. His tombstone reads "In Memory of the First Confederate Soldier Who Was Killed in Action..."

Wyatt was further memorialized in 1912 by a monument on the grounds of the capital in Raleigh. The monument is a large bronze of Wyatt with musket in hand, moving toward the battle. This monument also states that Wyatt was the "First Confederate Soldier to Fall in Battle in the War Between the States."

It would seem that Wyatt’s claim is now being challenged. In the November - December 2006 issue of Confederate Veteran (which I confess, I’m just now beginning to get time to read) Robert E. Reyes writes that William R. Clark was "The first Confederate soldier killed in the War Between the States."

Reyes writes that Clark "had been recruited in Baltimore by Artillery Captain William Dorsey Pender, CSA, and that he had signed enlistment papers and accepted a bounty and was awaiting transportation" Before he could get transferred south, Clark was one of the men killed on April 19, 1861, in the draft riots in Baltimore, where a mob attacked elements of the 6th Massachusetts Volunteers. The Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser, reported on Saturday, April 20, 1861, that William Clark – age 20 years was instantly killed at the corner of Pratt and South Streets by a Minnie ball which entered on the right side of the eye and passing through the head came out the other side. He had recently enlisted in the Southern Confederate Army and expected to have left in a few days."

Reyes then goes on to write that he had taken "a query on William R. Clark as being officially in the Confederate States Regular Army.... to the US Army Center of Military History at Fort McNair...." and also "to the Museum of the Confederacy Library in Richmond, Virginia" "Both institutions came to the same conclusion that he was in the Confederate States of America Regular Army."

While Mr. Reyes has done a good job with his research, I for one still have numerous questions. Who was William R. Clark? Where was he from? Who were his parents? What was his job? On what date did he sign those papers? Had he been properly mustered into Confederate service? Signing enlistments papers does not mean that a he had been properly mustered into service. Also, the distinction between the two men may also lie in the fact that Wyatt was killed in battle, while Clark was killed in act of civil disobedience, flinging rocks at Union soldiers. Does this lessen his sacrifice, or does it just make it a different kind of sacrifice?

I guess I’m just not quite ready to give up on Henry Wyatt.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Corrections on Mrs. Jackson

Brian Downey brought up some interesting points on Mrs. Jackson the other day. Mr. Downey brought to my attention that it appears the Mrs. Dr. Sloop was mistaken in her recollections in regards to the birth of Anna Morrison Jackson. I dug out a couple of books, Robertson’s bio on Jackson and the newer Intimate Strategies of the Civil War: Military Commanders and Their Wives. From these two sources, I put this together.

Robert Hall Morrison was born in 1798 in Concord, North Carolina. He was educated at the University of North Carolina (only one at the time - Chapel Hill) and then at Princeton Seminary (was it Princeton yet?) He ministered in the churches in the Charlotte-Fayetteville area. Morrison married Mary Graham, daughter of Gen. Joseph Graham of Revolutionary War fame and sister of William A. Graham, governor, US senator, and Secretary of the Navy under Millard Fillmore.

Anna was born July 21, 1831, the third of six daughters. Robert Morrison started to work towards the establishment of Presbyterian college in North Carolina, and in 1837, Davidson College opened its doors. Morrison was the schools first president. Anna attended Salem Academy in what is now Winston-Salem for a time. She was visiting with her sister, Isabella, in Lexington, Virginia, (who married D. H. Hill), when she met Jackson for the first time. They were married in 1857 at Cottage Hill, the plantation of Robert Morrison, sixteen miles from Davidson.

Davidson, in northern Mecklenburg County, is one of my favorite places to visit. If you ever stop by, try and visit the cemetery. It’s where Daniel Harvey Hill is buried (in the back, right hand corner).