Some 150 years after Confederate troops mistakenly shot Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson as he returned from a night scouting mission during the Battle of Chancellorsville, a pair of Texas researchers believe they have determined why the famed general and his group were confused with enemy troops.
Jackson’s wounding on May 2, 1863, would lead to the amputation of his left arm and complications that would result in pneumonia and ultimately his death eight days later.
But historians have struggled with the fact that on the evening Jackson was accidentally shot by men of the 18th North Carolina Infantry regiment, the battlefield and area around it was brightened by a full moon, to the point that opposing forces were able to see well enough to fight through the night, according to eyewitness accounts.
Don Olson of Texas State University and Laurie E. Jasinski, a Texas State graduate and editor of The Handbook of Texas Music, Second Edition, decided to use astronomy to try to resolve the mystery, according to RedOrbit.
Using detailed battle maps and astronomical calculations, Olson and Jasinski determined that the 18th North Carolina was looking to the southeast, directly toward the rising moon, which silhouetted Jackson and his officers, according to the website.
“When you tell people it was a bright moonlit night, they think it makes it easier to see. What we are finding is that the 18th North Carolina was looking directly toward the direction of the moon as Stonewall Jackson and his party came riding back,” Olson said. “They would see the riders only as dark silhouettes.”
It would be not unlike looking at an individual approaching from the direction of the sun during the day. One would be able to make out a figure, but details would be hard to determine.
Two Georgia men – one nicknamed “Bubba” – have been charged in a recent grave-robbing incident in which the corpses of five Confederate and Revolutionary War soldiers were dug up.
Jerry Atkinson and Ralph Hillis Jr., both of Waynesboro, Ga., could get up to five years in the hoosegow if convicted of “malicious removal of the dead from a grave.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Hillis goes by the nickname “Bubba.” He was arrested last week, but Atkinson remained at large, according to the Burke County Sheriff’s Office
However, Burke County deputies did a search Atkinson’s home and discovered a methamphetamine lab, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
The cemetery is in a secluded location and has been a burial site since the 1700s.
It is believed the suspects were searching for relics such as buttons off the uniforms the soldiers may have buried in.
There remain a handful of actions that are generally accepted as off-limits by society today. These include: guzzling the communion wine during mass, sending your kids off on Halloween dressed in white robes and a hood, and messing with the dead.
Someone in Burke County, Georgia, apparently missed the memo on the last item, as authorities there reported that grave robbers broke into caskets in an isolated cemetery and removed clothes from the bodies of Confederate and Revolutionary War veterans.
Investigators said grave robbers turned over head stones at Old Church Cemetery in Waynesboro, Ga., pulled caskets from the ground and removed the clothes from the deceased, leaving their bones exposed.
The robbers also disturbed graves containing children’s bodies, according to the Waynesboro True Citizen.
The cemetery is in a secluded location and has been a burial site since the 1700s.
An official with the Burke County Sheriff’s Office said he believes the grave robbers were searching for relics, The Telegraph reported.
The depth and breadth of the New York Times’ Disunion series never ceases to amaze. The articles focus on the War Between the States, but go far beyond examinations of battles and leaders, delving into an amazing array of topics, including the medical, legal and financial aspects of the 1861-65 period.
Recently, Disunion, which is written by a variety of historians, academics and other individuals knowledgeable on specific aspects of the war, focused on the ingenious concept of cotton bonds, financial instruments issued by the Confederacy in 1863.
In January of that year, the Confederate Congress secretly authorized bankers at the noted Paris-based financial house of Erlanger et Cie. to underwrite $15 million of Confederate bonds, to be denominated in British pounds or French francs.
“But unlike ordinary bonds backed only by the faith and credit of the issuing country, at the option of the holder an Erlanger certificate could be converted into a receipt for a pre-specified quantity of cotton,” Phil Leigh writes for Disunion.
This was important because Confederate currency was all but worthless in Europe at that point of the war.
The conversion rate for the cotton bonds was fixed at 12 cents a pound, regardless of the commodity’s market price, at the time about 48 cents. In addition, the bonds paid a 7 percent annual interest rate.
In a city noted for extraordinary churches, the French Huguenot Church stands out among Charleston’s houses of worship.
Completed in 1845, the Huguenot Church was the first Gothic Revival building constructed in the South Carolina port city. Nearly 170 years later, it is the only independent Huguenot church in the United States.
Also known as the French Protestant Church, it is a stuccoed-brick structure with three bays in the front and back and six bays along the sides. Each bay is divided by narrow buttresses topped by elaborate pinnacles, and the three front windows are topped with cast-iron crockets with a battlement parapet surrounding the top of the church.
The interior consists of walls with plaster ribbed-grained vaulting, with marble tablets etched with names of Huguenot families such as Ravenel, Porcher, de Saussure, Huger and Mazyck.
The French Huguenot Church was founded around 1681 by Protestant refugees escaping persecution in France.
“From 1680 through 1760, hundreds of Huguenots arrived in the Lowcountry, seeking religious freedom and safety from persecution. Many abandoned considerable wealth and social prominence simply for the opportunity to practice their Protestant faith,” according to John E. Cuttino, president of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina.
The perfume of longleaf pine pitch is one of the Southeast’s inherent charms.
The wonderful fragrance is particularly evident on hot summer days, evoking an aromatic reminder of an era when forests of Pinus palustris were found throughout the region, before clear-cutting reduced longleaf populations by more than 95 percent, to be replaced by faster growing pine species.
Today, about 3 million acres of longleaf pines remain in the region. The good news is the trees and their environment are making a slow but steady comeback.
“Many Southeastern landowners have converted parts of their farmland to use for contract hunting, fishing, camping and even bird-watching. The ecosystem supported by native longleaf pines fits perfectly into the business plan for such rural enterprises,” according to Southeast Farm Press.
In addition, timber from longleaf pines is very desirable because it tends to be long, straight and has tight growth rings, the publication added.
Not only does longleaf pine timber tend to bring a premium price compared to pines species such as the loblolly, but longleafs also produce a huge amount of pine straw, which can also be sold to help offset the costs associated with the latter’s longer growing period.
Longleaf ecosystems have other benefits, as well. These include being home to 26 federally listed endangered or threatened species, including the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise and flatwoods salamander.
Baseball’s connection to the War Between the States has long been recognized. Soldiers played ball as a way to occupy free time, of which there was a great deal in between the occasional battle or skirmish or for those in prison camps, and officers saw it as a way to keep men active during down time.
However, baseball relics from 150 years ago are exceedingly rare, partly because the generally scarcity of luxury items such as sporting goods during the war, partly because of the transiency that is the nature of army life and partly because of time itself.
Which makes the above item all the more fascinating: Slate magazine published the image earlier this week of a ball found and retrieved in 1862 in Shiloh, Tenn., amid the detritus of one of the Civil War’s bloodiest battles. The battle of Shiloh took place on April 6-7, 1862, and resulted in nearly 24,000 dead, wounded and missing.
The ball is inscribed: “Picked Up on the Battle Field at Shiloh by G.F. Hellum.” Hellum was an orderly for the Union Army at Shiloh. He later enlisted as a soldier in Co. B of the 69th Colored Infantry.
(The National Park Service’s Soldiers and Sailors System, which details many of the men who fought in the war, spells Hellum’s last name as “Hellem.”)
The artifact is what is known as a “lemon peel ball,” looser and softer than today’s baseballs, and is hand-stitched in a figure-eight pattern with thick twine, according to Slate’s Frank Ceresi.
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.