19th century farmhouse recalls fiery days of secession

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Nearly 200 years old, the Keitt-Whaley-Pearlstine House sparkles amid the drab brown landscape of late winter in central South Carolina.

The large white two-story clapboard structure features six columns, first- and second-story porches, gabled roofs and touches of Greek Revival style.

Built in rural Orangeburg County, in what later became Calhoun County, near the Old State Road that ran from Columbia to Charleston, the structure’s interior features multiple fireplaces, some with hand-carved mantels with multiple cornices, according to the SC Department of Archives and History.

But for all the architectural appeal of the plantation house, its history is just as interesting.

Constructed between 1820 and 1825 for Dr. and Mrs. George Keitt, the Keitt’s son, Laurence, was born in the house in 1824. He would go onto become one of the South Carolina’s most ardent secessionists.

After serving in the South Carolina General Assembly while still in his mid-20s, Keitt was elected to the US House in 1853. He would be re-elected twice more.

Stephen Berry, writing in Civil War Monitor, described Keitt as the “Harry Hotspur of the South.”

“Keitt … was a Fire-Eater par excellence. Legendary for staging ‘pyrotechnic’ displays on the floor of Congress, Keitt paced his desk, scattered papers before him ‘like people in a panic,’ and pounding ‘the innocent mahogany’ until pens, pencils, documents, and even ‘John Adam’s extracts shuddered under the blows.’”

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NC soldier gets proper headstone after more than a century

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For more than a century, the remains of Pvt. Franklin Cauble of the 42nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment have rested beneath a mislabeled grave marker in Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira, NY.

Cauble, a Confederate soldier captured at the battle of Cold Harbor in 1864, succumbed to chronic diarrhea 150 years ago this week at the Elmira prison camp, at age 39.

The mistake occurred when the federal government replaced the original wooden markers of the more than 2,000 Confederate dead interred at Woodlawn with marble headstones in 1907.

Cauble’s grave was marked with the name of his friend, Pvt. Franklin Cooper of the 42nd North Carolina, who survived his time at Elmira.

The National Cemetery Administration announced earlier this month that the error would be rectified and Cauble’s gravestone would be replaced, likely in the next few days.

“After a thorough investigation into claims regarding the error on the headstone, it will be replaced with an in-kind headstone bearing the correct surname of ‘Cauble,’” Kristen Parker, a spokeswoman for the cemetery administration, wrote in an email to the Elmira Star-Gazette.

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Trivializing death for fun and profit

That a Frederick, Md., brewery recently bottled its first batch of beer from a Civil War-era recipe and is now distributing is testament to the creativity of American business. What better time to recreate an alcoholic beverage from the 1860s than the sesquicentennial of the War Between the States, right?

What’s troubling is the apparent lack of respect the Moncacy Brewing Co. is showing for the event to which it’s tying its product.

The first of nine ales to be released by Monocacy in commemoration of the 1861-65 conflict is called “Antietam Ale” and marks the Sept. 17, 1862, battle near Sharpsburg, Md., that resulted in 23,000 casualties.

According to the label of Antietam Ale:

“The Battle of Antietam changed the course of the Civil War, helped free over 4 million Americans and still ranks as the bloodiest single day in American history.”

In reality, only that last of those three statements is true. While Antietam is still the bloodiest single day in US history, it didn’t change the course of the war nor did it help free more than 4 million enslaved blacks.

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