treadwell marker

Questions surrounding how officials solved a 150-year mystery and identified the only unknown Confederate soldier buried in the Beaufort National Cemetery have been answered.

Just a few days ago, the Beaufort County (SC) Historical Resources Consortium released information stating that the lone Confederate soldier interred in the Beaufort National Cemetery with a tombstone marked as “unknown” had been identified as Private Haywood Treadwell of Co. G, 61st NC Volunteers.

The Beaufort Gazette followed that announcement with a story Thursday that provided details on how Treadwell, who died in a Union hospital on Sept. 12, 1863, after being wounded at Battery Wagner, was identified.

Investigation into the history of the William Wigg Barnwell House, which served as a Union hospital during the war, led to the North Carolina soldier’s identification. It was learned Treadwell, who had been shot in the right thigh, had been brought to the house after his capture, according to the publication.

Beaufort resident Penelope Holme Parker began researching the William Wigg Barnwell House in 2008 by at the request of owners Conway and Diane Ivy. During the process, Parker discovered that Haywood Treadwell might have been buried anonymously because of a misspelled first name.

“Burial records found in a cardboard box in the basement of the cemetery building in 1991 listed a ‘Heyward Treadwell,’ who died of a gunshot wound to the right thigh on Sept. 12, 1863,” according to the Gazette. “Treadwell was buried in section 53, site 6359 – the site of the unknown soldier’s gravestone, according to the records.”

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unknown

The journalism phrase “burying the lede” refers to the practice of beginning a story, or “lede” paragraph, with details of secondary importance while failing to relate more essential facts until much later in the article.

A more egregious sin would be “skipping the lede.” Take this bit from the Beaufort County (SC) Historical Resources Consortium:

“The only Confederate soldier interred in the Beaufort National Cemetery with a tombstone marked as unknown has been identified. Pvt. Haywood Treadwell of the 61st NC Volunteers, Co. G whose identity emerges after 150 years, will be recognized along with other Confederate soldiers on May 9-10, 2014.”

So far, so good.

The release then goes on to state that the event will include a Friday evening symposium and a Saturday memorial ceremony, with the unveiling of the new gravestone for Treadwell.

In addition, historians will trace the life of Treadwell, a turpentine farmer from Sampson County, NC, who was wounded and captured during the battle for Battery Wagner in Charleston Harbor, and who died in Union Hospital No. 4 in Beaufort and was buried Sept. 12, 1863.

It then adds details on the time and location of the symposium and information about an informal talk on Civil War medical practices, along with details for the following day’s memorial service at Beaufort National Cemetery.

Unmentioned anywhere in the eight-paragraph release are details about how Treadwell’s identify was revealed after more than a century and a half.

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March 2014 006

Lancaster’s Old Presbyterian Church retains the simple architectural beauty inherent in many 19th century brick structures.

Constructed in 1862, the Early Gothic Revival-style edifice is believed to have been the first brick church built in South Carolina’s Lancaster County, and its graveyard holds the remains of many of the area’s early prominent residents, in addition to several men who were killed or died during the War Between the States.

The Old Presbyterian Church was constructed on the site of the town’s first Presbyterian church, begun in 1835. The extant church’s walls feature handmade brick, stuccoed and scored to resemble stone.

The church features a Basilican plan, with a gallery along the sides and back of the sanctuary and an arched pulpit apse. Its interior includes hood moldings over the arches, cornice brackets with pendants under the gallery and round wooden columns supporting the gallery.

At the very end of the Civil War, troops under Union Gen. William T. Sherman occupied a large house just up the street and horses were stabled inside the church.

The structure was the house of worship for Lancaster-area Presbyterians until 1926, when the growing congregation moved to a new church on nearby Main Street.

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SONY DSC

California is no stranger to partition movements. The first plan to divide the state, the most populous in the US and No. 3 in overall size, was initiated in 1850, which, ironically, also happened to be the same year it joined the Union.

But today, with nearly 40 million residents spread over more than 163,000 square miles – you could fit nearly 135 states the size of Rhode Island inside California – the movement to divide the Golden State appears to gaining steam.

Among plans being put forward is one that would split it into six individual states, including one that would be called Silicon Valley and would encompass the high-tech region around the San Francisco Bay Area, and another that would be known as West California and include the Los Angeles area.

“No other state contains within it such contradictory interests, cultures, economic and political geography,” according to Keith Naughton at PublicCEO, a website that covers state and local California issues. “It has become impossible to even remotely reconcile the array of opposing forces. The only way to get anything done is to shove laws and regulations down a lot of unwilling throats.”

One of the drivers behind the six-state initiative is venture capitalist Tim Draper.

With tens of millions of people spread over an area 250 miles wide and 770 miles long, Draper believes that a single monolithic California has become ungovernable.

The state’s population is more than six times as large as the average of the other 49 states, and too many Californians feel estranged from a state government in Sacramento that doesn’t understand them or reflect their interests, according to Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe.

“The citizens of the whole state would be better served by six smaller states governments while preserving the historical boundaries of the various counties, cities and towns,” according to the Six Californias Proposal.

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leonard l. bleeker

Old-time newspapers were notorious for printing articles that were long on fanciful stories but often short on verifiable facts.

As such, many curious stories that appeared in papers a century or more ago have to be read with a skeptical eye. Readers then, as today, would view information in printed form at face value, when in reality it was a fraud, whether purposeful or accidental.

In fairness to the folks of the past, researching the validity of printed information was a good bit harder.

Not only was there no Internet to employ for fact-checking, but books were much scarcer, especially among the lower classes, libraries were an anomaly outside big cities and competition among newspapers often meant that outlandish stories were run “as is” and sometimes even further embellished, to get a leg up on rivals.

So when I came across the following story in the July 26, 1899, edition of the Fairfield News and Herald, a Winnsboro, S.C., newspaper, it both caught my attention and raised my suspicions.

The death of Leonard B. Bleeker aged 72 years which recently occurred at Yates Centre, Kas., has revealed a case of self-sacrifice seldom heard of outside the domain of fiction. Three years ago Bleeker went to that country peddling cheap articles and, too old and weary to proceed farther, a kind hearted farmer took him in and cared for him until he died. To the family which befriended him he told the story of his life, reserving for the grave the specific names of persons and localities. He stated that in 1861 he left a wife and five children in Michigan and answered the first call for volunteers. The fortunes of war were against him and for months he lay a prisoner in Andersonville prison. For some reason he was led to believe that a certain other batch of prisoners would soon be exchanged. Among them was a dying man and the two comrades exchanged names and military designations. The soldier died and the death was reported as that of Leonard B. Bleeker, and is so recorded in the war department. The real Bleeker was released after a time, rejoined his regiment and served until the close of the war without communicating with his family. Then he went back and found his wife married to another man. He ascertained that his children were well cared for and then left the community without revealing his identity. Throughout his life he carefully guarded his secret and since going to Yates Centre, was often urged to apply for a pension, but stoutly refused. Even when near death he would not reveal the location of his former home or permit anyone to communicate with old associate(s). He was a man of more than ordinary education and the truth of his story or the possession of a noble purpose in his long sacrifice cannot be doubted.

Indeed, the entire story seems utterly fanciful to us today. But a few things to consider:

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Cold_Harbor_burial_party

American Civil War aficionados marking the sesquicentennial of the conflict are gearing up to remember what was probably the bloodiest year of the 1861-65 struggle.

From Grant’s Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg to the Red River Campaign, the Atlanta Campaign and year-end battles at Franklin and Nashville, 1864 was one long year of attrition in which a seemingly endless supply of Union forces ground down their Confederate counterparts.

By year-end, the war was within a few months of being over, though that fact was hardly evident at the time.

While the War Between the States was heavily covered by journalists – both US and foreign – by the spring of 1865 reporters were as eager as soldiers to return to their homes.

Given that Southern newspapers were in short supply due to war devastation and Northern papers were busy focusing on happenings in Washington DC following the end of the conflict, there was little actually being written about what life was like in the immediate aftermath in many of the battle-ravaged areas.

Boston writer John Townsend Trowbridge was dispatched south in the fall of 1865 with an interesting mission: Travel the scenes of the recent conflict and describe battlefields, the plight of the Southern people, the mood of the region and the condition of recently freed blacks.

First published in 1866 under the title A Picture of the Desolated States and the Work of Restoration, Trowbridge’s work has been reissued under different titles, including The Desolate South: 1865-1866, and, simply, The South.

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Bay Psalm Book

A Colonial-era tome, auctioned last week in New York, easily set a new record as the world’s most expensive printed book.

A first-edition copy of the 1640 Bay Psalm Book was sold at Sotheby’s New York for $14.2 million, breaking the previous mark of $11.5 million, set in 2010, when a copy of John James Audubon’s “The Birds of America” was auctioned.

The Bay Psalm Book, one of 11 surviving examples, was sold by Boston’s famed Old South Church.

The Church sold the Bay Psalm Book from its collection to cover the cost of building repairs and to fund future endeavors after taking a vote of its congregants in 2012, according to a statement issued by its senior minister, Nancy Taylor.

The book is one of two copies owned by the church, which dates to 1669.

The Bay Psalm Book is one of the rarest books in the world and among the finest surviving copies of original 1,700 that were printed, according to Reuters.

The Bay Psalm Book was published in Cambridge, Mass., by the Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

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Trevelian StationAs the US continues to recognize the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States it’s increasingly apparent that a significant number of Americans see the bloody four-year conflict as little more than a few key events: Fort Sumter, First Manassas, Gettysburg, the Emancipation Proclamation, Appomattox and Lincoln’s assassination.

While we sometimes recognize the terrible toll the war took in terms of lives lost, that figure has become an abstraction. With current figures of dead from the 1861-65 conflict now estimated to top more than 700,000, many today can’t or won’t attempt to comprehend the war’s impact on American society a century and a half ago.

Many History Channel historians tend to think only of the victories and of the final success of the Union army; or, in the South, of the valiant, if doomed, tenacity of the Confederacy.

But the war was, if nothing else, millions upon millions of tragedies bundled up into the form of a tremendous calamity.

For every man in uniform who was killed in action or died of disease, dozens, scores or even hundreds of others were touched, some at the front, others at home.

And the tragedies weren’t always the result of the death of men in uniform, either.

On this date, 150 years ago today, an officer in a South Carolina cavalry regiment got perhaps the worst news of his life.

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Third battle of winchester

General George S. Patton is rightly regarded as one of America’s greatest military leaders. A hard-charging commander, Patton led the US Seventh Army during the Invasion of Sicily, then directed the Third Army following the Allied Invasion of Normandy in 1944, where he led a highly successful, rapid drive across France, and was able to advance his army into Nazi Germany by war’s end.

Like many of the US’s top Army leaders during World War II, Patton graduated from West Point, but he didn’t begin his college education at the esteemed institution.

Patton had his mind set on a career in the military from a young age, but also struggled with reading and writing in his youth. In 1902, he wrote a letter to California Sen. Thomas R. Bard seeking an appointment to West Point.

However, Bard required Patton to complete an entrance exam. Patton was afraid he would perform poorly on the exam given his academic struggles, so he eventually opted to attend the Virginia Military Institute.

This was no random choice. Not only had Patton’s father graduated from VMI but his grandfather had, as well.

Patton’s grandfather, George S. Patton Sr., graduated from VMI in 1852, second in his class of 24.

Although he became a lawyer after graduation, he served as a colonel in the 22nd Virginia Infantry during the War Between the States.

The first George Patton was one of several brothers who served in the Confederate army. One, Lt. Col. Waller T. Patton, another VMI graduate, was mortally wounded at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.

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Joshua_L__Chamberlain

The original Medal of Honor awarded to one of Maine’s most famous sons, Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine Infantry regiment, for his heroics at the Battle of Gettysburg has been discovered and given to a historical organization in the state.

Chamberlain’s Medal of Honor, awarded in 1893 for his actions in the famous 1863 battle, was given Monday to the Pejepscot Historical Society, which owns the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum in Brunswick, Maine.

The individual who donated the award requested anonymity. He had found it in the back of a book he had purchased “several years ago” at a sale held by First Parish Church in Duxbury, Mass., according to the society.

Chamberlain’s last surviving descendant, granddaughter Rosamond Allen, left her estate to that church upon her death 13 years ago, according to the Bangor Daily News.

Chamberlain was a professor at Bowdoin College when he enlisted in the Union army in 1862 and was appointed Lt. Colonel of the 20th Maine.

He saw action at Fredericksburg, where the Union suffered at a catastrophic defeat and Chamberlain was forced to spend the night of Dec. 13, 1862, on the freezing battlefield, using the bodies of the fallen for shelter while listening to bullets strike nearby corpses.

Chamberlain was promoted to colonel in June 1863, just prior to Gettysburg.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor for “daring heroism and great tenacity” in leading the 20th Maine in its crucial defense of Little Round Top on July 2, 1863, a critical stand in the Federal effort to hold back the Confederate onslaught.

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