Military censorship has been part and parcel of war reporting worldwide for at least a century.
Nearly half the French divisions on the Western Front mutinied to one degree or another in 1917, their will weakened by three years of devastating losses and no prospects of success as World War I dragged on. However, revelations on the extent and intensity of the mutinies, which included the execution of several dozen French soldiers, weren’t disclosed until 1967, and some information has still not been made available even after 96 years.
The British, in the same conflict, often didn’t even disclose to family members that their loved ones had been executed, choosing to bury men convicted and executed for crimes such as desertion in the same area as other soldiers killed in action and awarding the families pensions.
And as recently as 2004, the US military did its best to lay down a smokescreen surrounding the friendly-fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.
The thought being, more often than not, that the morale of troops and/or folks at home would be damaged by the truth.
That apparently wasn’t a concern in the South during the War Between the States.
South Carolina’s Edgefield Advertiser ran a story on May 11, 1864, which detailed the execution of Pvt. Henry Jerome of the 17th South Carolina Infantry regiment in Charleston.
MILITARY EXECUTION – About half-past ten o’clock yesterday morning, the Race Course was the scene of a military execution. Private Henry Jerome, of Company A, 17th Regiment, S.C.V., who twice had been guilty of the crime of deserting his colors, paid the penalty with his life. The execution took place in the presence of Major Blanding’s command of the 1st S.C. Artillery and an infantry regiment – the firing squads being detached from the ranks of the Regulars. The condemned, a man of mature years, short in stature, and of quiet demeanor, was brought to the ground in an ambulance, attended by Rev. Mr. Aldrich, Chaplain of the 1st S.C. Artillery. After the last prayer had been said, the culprit refusing to have his eyes bandaged, knelt beside his coffin. At the first fire, he fell insensible, having received several mortal wounds in the chest, and within two minutes all signs of animation had disappeared. Private Jerome was, we understand, a native of Chester District, and leaves a wife and three children.
The sing-song cry of the tobacco auctioneer – which wafted across Tobacco Road for decades but has been largely silent since 2004 – is beginning to be heard once again.
Auctioneers have become involved in the sale of the leafy crop for the first time in any size since the quota buyout of 2004, Southeast Farm Press reports.
“The average price was just under $2.02 per pound, very competitive with contract delivery stations,” the publication reported. “Many of the lots brought $2.20 a pound, also very high, and there were substantially no rejections of bids by farmers.”
This was the third year that Old Belt Tobacco Sales has conducted auctions in Rural Hall, 10 miles north of Winston-Salem, Southeast Farm Press added.
In 2010, the warehouse sold five million pounds, then 2.5 million pounds in 2011, when Hurricane Irene reduced the tobacco available.
What may be the last remaining Revolutionary War flag in private hands will be put up for sale by a Philadelphia auction house this fall.
Freeman’s Auctioneers and Appraisers will offer the battle flag of the 8th Virginia Regiment during its “Pennsylvania Sale,” scheduled for Nov. 14.
The 8th Virginia was under the command of Peter Muhlenberg, known as “the Fighting Parson,” and saw significant action during the American Revolution.
The 41-inch-by-45-inch banner is expected to fetch between $400,000 and $600,000.
Dating from the Revolutionary War, the “Grand Division” color is painted with a scrolling white ribbon and inscribed, “VIII Virg. Regt,” according to Freeman’s.
The silk flag has faded from its original salmon-red color to a golden hue as the flag descended in the Muhlenberg family line for more than 200 years, the auction house added.
Robert E. Lee’s sword is being returned to Appomattox, perhaps for the first time since he surrendered it to Ulysses S. Grant in April 1865, to be the centerpiece of a new museum examining the struggle to heal the nation following the War Between the States.
The uniform Lee wore the same day will also be on display March 31 when the Museum of the Confederacy opens an 11,700-square-foot museum within a mile of where Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia, according to the Associated Press.
The Appomattox museum is the first in a regional system planned by the Richmond-based Museum of the Confederacy to make its vast collection of Confederate artifacts and manuscripts more accessible, the wire service added.
The other museums are planned for the Fredericksburg area and Hampton Roads, perhaps Fort Monroe.
All told, more than 450 uniforms, muskets, swords, documents, flags and other artifacts will be displayed at the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox.
“Appomattox is one of those words you can say anywhere in the world and people know what you’re talking about, like Waterloo,” said Waite Rawls, chief executive of the Museum of the Confederacy. “Appomattox is the very metaphor for the end of the Civil War and the reunification of the nation.”
The oldest-known signature of James Monroe, a Revolutionary War furlough signed by the future president while he was serving at Valley Forge, has been acquired by the museum that honors the Virginia native.
Monroe issued the pass, acquired by the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library in Fredericksburg, Va., to 2nd Lt. John Wallace Jr. of the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment on Feb. 23, 1778, as Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army suffered through the traumatic winter at Valley Forge.
Negotiations for the document, which had been in the hands of the same collector for decades, took several weeks, said Scott Harris, director of the James Monroe Museum.
The furlough is believed to be the earliest-known official document bearing Monroe’s signature, according to the museum.
Support from the 180-member Friends of the James Monroe Museum was crucial for the institution, which is administered by the University of Mary Washington, to be able to purchase the furlough from a nationally recognized documents dealer, he told the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star.
The discovery of a Revolutionary War-era tinsmith shop in Williamsburg, Va., has been confirmed by archaeologists reconstructing a site in the historic Virginia locale.
The find at the James Anderson Armoury project has led Forrest Mars Jr. to provide an additional $500,000 for reconstruction and endowment of the tinsmith operation.
When complete, the Tin Shop will be the only working 18th-century tinsmith operation in the US, according to the Virginia Gazette. Historic trades artisans will demonstrate tinsmithing as practiced during the American Revolution once the site is restored.
“The work will complete the most important Revolutionary-era military site in Williamsburg, offering guests an entirely different perspective on the role of the capital during a critical moment in the history of the Commonwealth and the nation,” said James Horn, Colonial Williamsburg’s vice president for research and historical interpretation.
The tin produced at the site was actually tinplate, a thin sheet of iron coated with tin, according to the Colonial Williamsburg website.
While Texas cotton farmers appear set to abandon record levels of acreage this year due to drought, it appears there will be plenty of cotton in the Upper Southeast this year.
“With a record crop planted and only a few timely showers needed to finish the crop, cotton could be more than plentiful in the region,” according to Southeast Farm Press.
Until recently, the volume of cotton in the Upper Southeast has been on a downward trend, in large part due to reduced acreage, but also because of weather-related yield reductions, according to the publication.
The Southeast as a whole is forecast to be the largest production region in the nation this season, a first in more than four decades, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
Archaeologists working at the College of William & Mary, the nation’s second-oldest college, have found the foundations of a structure that may have housed slaves who cooked and cleaned for students and faculty of the school.
The brick remnants sit next to the Wren Building, at the core of the historic campus. Scholars believe that they are the traces of an outbuilding — possibly sleeping quarters, a kitchen or a laundry — built in the 18th century for slaves who lived and worked at the college, according to the Washington Post.
The find is “a little bit of a miracle” for William & Mary and for Williamsburg, once Virginia’s Colonial capital, a historic district that has been nearly picked clean by archaeologists and anthropologists, said Louise Kale, executive director of the school’s Historic Campus.
“One of the things that this reminds us is there is still wonderful information out there that is being given up by the ground,” she told the Post.
The long-held assertion that more than 40,000 Confederate soldiers from North Carolina died during the War Between the States would appear to be off by about 5,000, according to a researcher from the Tar Heel State.
Josh Howard of the state Office of Archives and History says no more than 35,000 Confederate soldiers from North Carolina died in the Civil War, about 12 percent fewer than the long-held count that allowed the state to claim more casualties than any other Southern state.
As of earlier this month, Howard has accounted for about 32,100 dead Confederates from North Carolina and an additional 3,000 he categorizes as missing. Some of those may have died in the war.
The count from 1866 that allowed North Carolina to claim the most killed was 40,275. A recount in Virginia is coming up with higher numbers for that state.
South Carolina’s war dead is thought to be just over roughly 17,500, though some informal recounts are under way on that figure.