Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Western Enterprise and the Mountain Mercury

Monday night I was at Appalachian State (I was there Tuesday night also) systematically going through sources for the book on the 58th NCT. These sources range from their compiled service records which are on microfilm, to family history to historical society newsletters. You never know when a set of letters, or some little tidbit of information will pop up.

I grabbed a roll of microfilm out of the cabinet that was labeled Miss. McDowell Co. Newspapers. I found a real treasure. I was not aware that Marion, in McDowell County, had attempted to start a newspaper during the war.

The first was The Western Enterprise. On this roll of microfilm, they had Volume 1, Issue 1, dated March 14, 1862. It is rare to find the first issue. The paper was published by R. L. Abernathy and E. A. Poe. This issue was extremely hard to read, but had articles on President Davis’s Inaugural Address and a possible treaty with France. The next issue was Volume 1, Number 7, dated April 25, 1862, which contained an article on the battle of New Bern, North Carolina. The last issue on the roll of microfilm was a different newspaper, the Mountain Mercury. This was also Volume 1, Issue 1, dated January 7, 1863. It appears that A. C. Halyburton and William Williams had purchased the Western Enterprise and had renamed the newspaper.

In this solitary issue, C. O. Conley, Captain of Company F, 58th North Carolina Troops, had issued a $180 reward for the apprehension of a group of men that had deserted his company.
I have no other information regarding the Mountain Mercury, no other issues, no idea when it ceased publication. I don’t recall it being on the Guide to North Carolina Newspapers on microfilm before (it’s there now).

It is always nice to find little gems when one is out researching.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be spending a lot of time at App., going through newspapers, more family histories, and whatever else I can get my hands on as I try and wrap up my research.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Names from the 1863 Yancey Baptist Report

After I posted about the resolution Brother Collins had reported on, expressing my desire to know their names, Keith Snipes wrote back. Here are the names. I was hoping to get time to look these men up and see what regiment they served in and how they died. But alas, I just do not have time. I am really behind in my work on the 58th. I am hoping this week and next week to get those last little research trips finished. Then, it will be time for some serious writing. To be honest, the writing part is not hard. Making sure that you’ve got everything (and you never have everything) out there is the time-consuming part.

One other bit of information before we get to those names. When I wrote the history of the Thirty-seventh, if was pretty straightforward when it came to enlistment. For example, William R. Rankin helped put together the "Gaston Blues." On September 24, 1861, 111 men enlisted in his regiment, which would become Company H, 37th North Carolina Troops. Yes, other men would join later on, after the passage of each conscription act, and a few junior reserves. Today, I was working on Capt. John Keener’s Company, which would become Company E, 58th North Carolina Troops. About half a dozen men joined the company before Keener formally began raising a company. On June 25, the day he officially started, 41 men joined. Then, on June 27, another 32 joined. There was one on June 28, seventy-six on July 5, three on July 7, three on July 16, seventeen on July 21, one on July 23, and one on July 25. And, they came from three different counties. My theory is that Keener started recruiting in Mitchell County, then, after he was unable to finish his recruitment goals (largely due to the fact the two other companies had come out of Mitchell County in the two previous months) he went to Caldwell County where he finished recruiting for his company.

Oh well, now to that list of names. These are men from Yancey County who were Baptists that died prior to August 1863:

A. Hollifield; William Collins; J. McKinney; William Woody; William Byrd; G. W. Byrd; Daniel Quinn, Ansel Randolph; Bartlett Wilson; E. J. Buchanan; William Grindstaff; J. M. Robertson; John Robertson; J. D. Howell; Thow McKinney; James Willis; James Harris; H. Willis; John Beaver, and Milas Hollifield.

Friday, August 24, 2007

E. Kirby Smith bio

Don recently asked what bio on E. Kirby Smith I am planning to read. I have a copy of General Edmund Kirby Smith, C. S. A., written by Joseph H. Parks. It was published in 1954 by LSU and reissued in 1982. I did some searching, and I could find no other recent bio on Smith. I do not know if I will get to read the whole bio at this time. Too many books... I know, that smacks against one of my favorite quotes from C. S. Lewis - No book too long, no cup of tea too large.

With the way that books on the war are turned out, I find the task of trying to read them all daunting. I have about 1,000 books on the war, and many more on Appalachia, early American history, and literature. Add to that a smattering of religious texts and biographies, books on Scotland, histories in general, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and philosophy. I’ve also got around 200 books printed prior to 1860 - once again history, literature, text books, biographies, state laws and codices, etc.,

If you add the books that belong to my wife, (she’s an English professor), that includes just about anything ever written by or on C. S. Lewis, and enough Shakespeare to keep a person busy for a lifetime. Well, I really need a bigger house with lots of wall space for book shelves.
Some of these are good books, some bad.

Maybe a list of my favorite War Between the States books is in order.

Monday, August 20, 2007

This past Saturday morning, I was digging around at my local library, and I found a book entitled A Baptist Looks Back by James Oliver Young. It is a history of sorts of the Baptist Associations in the Toe River Valley area, i.e., Yancey, Mitchell, and Avery Counties, with a little McDowell and Buncombe thrown in. In my search I found that in 1863, Elder S. M. Collis "was asked to furnish a list of names of..." the soldiers who had died since the beginning of the war so that the Association might enter them into the minutes. Collis does this, then adds:

The above Brethren were members of the Baptist church and had been ornaments to the denomination to which they belong and when they came up under a sense of duty to their country they turned their backs upon their families and their breast to the cannon, bidding adieu to wives and children, fathers and mothers, the most of them having little families to mourn their loss. Some of their bodies lie in around Richmond, Va., and some around Gettysburg, Pa., while others of them fell in Mississippi. Peace to their silent dust and honors to their memories. The Association tenders her heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved fathers and mothers, wives and children, yet would not sorrow as those without hope, believing that the are resting in heaven where war will disturb them no more.
How many thousand widows
Bereft of husband brave
How many thousand orphans
With fathers in the grave
The Father’s seat is empty
‘Twas never so before
The brother’s voice is silent
And shall be heard no more.

I don’t think that I can add anything else....

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Slave Who was a Soldier...

Folks - I found this recently in the Charlotte Observer. I was kind of surprised.


Memorial will honor man who fought for Confederate Army

Cliff Harrington Wary Clyburn is a local Civil War hero I bet many of you don't know about. He's a former slave who fought for the Confederate Army from 1863 to1865. He was born in Lancaster County but moved to Union. Many of his descendants live in the Wingate area, and they're planning to honor his memory next month. Pension documents confirm that Clyburn was a former slave and a Civil War veteran. The documents say he volunteered for the Confederacy with Capt. Frank Clyburn, who was the son of the man who owned Wary Clyburn (Note: The documents spelled his first name several ways: Werry, Weary and Wary. His daughter says the correct spelling is Wary).

According to the pension documents, Wary Clyburn served as the bodyguard for Frank Clyburn in Company E of the 12th regiment. Wary carried Frank on his shoulders to rescue him during intense fighting. Wary also served as a special aid to Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Monday morning I met Mattie Clyburn Rice of High Point; she's the daughter of Wary Clyburn. She had come to the Heritage Room at theOld Monroe Courthouse to get information about her father. She already had a good bit of documentation. That's where I saw the documents that had been filed when Wary wanted to get pension payments as a Civil War veteran. Clyburn did get his pension in 1926, and after that many other former slaves also got pensions, according to his daughter.

Mattie Clyburn Rice was born in 1922 and her father died in 1930. Rice said her father spent a lot of time telling her about his life. He was too old to work in the fields."He would send my brothers to the fields and he would stay with me," she said. "He would tell me about his life and I didn't have any computers or anything, so I had to remember all of this. I kept it in my head and I've been looking and searching."

When she became an adult, she left Union County but continued to look for information about her father, including a search for the site where he was buried. Mattie Clyburn Rice said she found her father's grave about 10 years ago. It's in what we now know as Hillcrest Cemetery.

She didn't have time to show me the exact spot Monday. However, when the discussion turned to her father, a big smile lit her face. She loved her father and that has driven her to gather information.

Even now, she wants to know more. There is a photo of Wary Clyburn, but his daughter didn't have it with her. She had a photocopy. It showed a man with a grand smile, seated with what appeared to be his Confederate military jacket on. He was holding a fiddle.

Mattie Clyburn Rice said when she was small, her parents took her to First Church of God on Morgan Mill Road. In her search for information, she again has found the church and that's where the family plans to honor Mr. Clyburn on Aug. 26. There will be a family reunion.

The obvious question is this: Why would a slave volunteer to fight onthe side of people who held him in bondage?That's a question that only Mr. Clyburn can answer. Too often when it comes to the Civil War and slavery, we hear versions of the truth that are woven from conjecture and narrow perspectives. It's refreshing when you find the truth. This is it. Wary Clyburn was a brave and loyal hero. And he deserves to behonored by all of us. IN MY OPINION

The Memorial Wary Clyburn will be honored Aug. 26 during a reunion of his
descendants. The ceremony will be at First Church of God, 301 MorganMill Road.

GOT INFORMATION?Mattie Rice Clyburn is still compiling information about her father. If you have information, please write to her: Mattie Rice Clyburn, P.O. Box 1503, High Point, NC 27262.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I had a great time this past weekend at the Franklin reunion in Linville Falls. I had a chance to talk to many people who had ancestors who served in various North Carolina regiments, and it was great to meet all of them.

I’ll be speaking tonight at the Col. John B. Palmer Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Burnsville. Next Monday, I’ll be speaking at the SCV Camp in Haywood County - they meet at the fire department in Clyde. On Tuesday, I’ll be at a book festival in Rutherfordton, at the historic church there - St. John’s I believe.

Still researching more than I am writing. The researching should come to an end very soon, even though I’ll still be on the hunt until the day I turn in the manuscript.

For the past few days, I’ve been trying to tackle the whole conscription event. Conscription is largely the reason for why we have a 58th North Carolina.

I’ve searched through a lot of books trying to gain a better understanding, including:
Weitz - More Damning than Slaughter

Trotter - Bushwhackers
Inscoe and McKinney - The Heart of Confederate Appalachia
Hilderman - They Went into the Fight Cheering
Wert - "Confederate Conscription Woes" CWTI
Johnston - Zebulon Vance Papers
Yearns and Barrett - North Carolina Civil War Documentary
Thomas - The Confederate Nation
Yearns - The Confederate Congress
Rable - The Confederate Republic
Moore - Confederate Conscription
McPherson - The Battle Cry of Freedom

I am no fan of McPherson. However, it is in the latter that I found this:

The main purpose of conscription was to stimulate volunteering by the threat of coercion rather than by its actual use.

That is just what happened with the 58th NCT. One company, the Mitchell Rangers, already existed. Another, the one from Caldwell County that was recruited for Vance’s Legion, was a by-product of conscription. Eight other companies (there were twelve in the 58th NCT) were recruited prior to the cutoff date for volunteering. The last two, L and M, were made up of conscripts, forced into service.

I wonder if any of the other regiments mustered into service after April 1862, follow this same steps? All I need is yet another project.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

You might have noticed that I have changed my photograph on the above header. Before, we had the Confederate monument in Greensboro. Now, it is the Monument to Women of the Confederacy on the capital grounds in Raleigh. I took this photograph last summer. The monument was dedicated in 1914.

Yesterday, I ventured to Boone, researching on the 58th NCT. I wanted to make sure that I missed nothing in my research. I came away with a few dates and middle names, but not much more. I used to work at this library, almost a decade ago, and I went through the collections pretty thoroughly. Plus, I went through them when I wrote the history of the 37th NCT and my history of Watauga County.

I have yet another busy weekend. Tomorrow, I am going to hear Dr. Anne Whisnant, who wrote a history of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I have a research trip to Burnsville on Friday morning, then I will be at the Franklin family reunion in Linville Falls Friday night and Saturday. I am taking a display on the 58th NCT. There were several members of the Franklin family who served in the 58th NCT, so maybe I will come away with some good stuff.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Often, in the many talks that I give, I get questions regarding the pro-Union sentiment of the mountains of western North Carolina. I often tell folks that western NC was not as pro-Union as the "historians" have made it out to be. I’ve been preaching that sermon for a decade now. Western North Carolina, especially in the first year of the war, was more pro-Confederate than the rest of the state - more mountaineers joined the Confederate army in the first year of the war than men off the mountain.

Another thing that I often talk about is three different groups all battling against each other in western North Carolina. Today, I up that number to four. In answer to an email that I received, here is my response:

No one could "live open" during this time. You have the Confederate home guard (after mid-1863), doing their best to police the area, and round up conscription dodgers and deserters. Then, you have groups of regular Confederate soldiers who swept into the area from time to time. These groups were usually worse than the deserter bands, impressing men into service and stealing whatever they could. You have the deserter bands, men who have illegally left the army and have formed themselves into armed bands who prey upon a largely defenseless civilian population. Lastly, you have individuals or family groups that use the war as excuses for carrying out acts of violence on their neighbors. This would later transmit into the "family feuds" that color writers would exploit later in the 19th century (i.e., the Hatfields and McCoys).

Well, that sounds like the outline for a book.

What do you think?