A Publication of the Indianapolis Civil War Round Table – December 2001
President – Dave Sutherland Secretary – Dr. Betty Enloe
Vice President – Dr. Lloyd Hunter Treasurer – Doug Wagner
Hardtack Editor – Debby Chestnut
December 10, 2001
Monday – 7:30 p.m. at the Indiana Historical Society
450 W. Ohio St.
(Parking in lot north of the Society off New York St. – Please enter via Northeast Door)
Ben Butler and the Occupation
Of New Orleans
Focusing on the capture and occupation of New Orleans by the combined forces of David Farragut and Benjamin Butler, Dale K. Phillips will examine in detail General Butler’s service as commander of the federal occupation forces in that city from April through December l862. In his presentation, Dale will explore the importance of New Orleans itself to both the Confederacy and the Union, as well as the problems Union forces confronted as they assumed the responsibilities of both military and civil oversight of captured American soil. The methods Butler employed to control the population of New Orleans, always a controversial subject, led to his being labeled “The Beast.” But did he deserve the label, and were his approaches to maintaining order in that city successful? Dale’s answers to these and other critical issues will be worth hearing and pondering.
About the Speaker: Dale Phillips has served the National Park Service for twenty-six years. For the past four years he has been the superintendent of the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park in Vincennes, Indiana, and a highly acclaimed speaker at Civil War Round Tables and other historical gatherings. Our members may recall his outstanding presentation to the Midwest Regional Conference that Indianapolis hosted. Earlier in his career, Dale was an interpreter at Gettysburg and Fort Sumter, supervisory park ranger at Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and unit manager at both the Battle of New Orleans site and the Acadian Unit of Jean Lafitte National Park. He, therefore, comes to us well-versed in the history of New Orleans and its Civil War experience. Be sure and invite a friend to hear our speaker.
We are seeking volunteer authors to help research and write our 50th (l955-2005) anniversary history booklet plus an article for the Indiana Historical Society and Indiana newspapers. Please contact Jim Bishop at 248-8100 if you are interested.
Also looking for volunteers to assist Robert Dorn in greeting current members and recruiting new Round Table members. If interested, see Dave Sutherland.
Please send book reviews, interesting articles, etc. to place in the Hardtack to me at the following: Debby Chestnut, 441 S. Catherwood Ave., Indianapolis, 46219; E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Phone: 356-5117 (home) or 226-4101 (work):Fax: 226-3444. Because of the upcoming holidays, the Deadline for the January Hardtack will be December 14.
. We still plan to deliver the Hardtack via E-mail for as many members as possible. Our goal is to reduce the costs as much as possible so that funds can be used for other purposes. Please make your E-mail address available to Dorothy Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Doug Wagner (email@example.com).
By Tony Trimble
Identify the Civil War figures who were known by the following nicknames:
1. “Grey Eagle”
2. “The Gallant” (2 persons)
3. “The Hero of Appomattox”
4. “Five Cent”
5. “Bull Run”
Answers to November Quiz) 1) James S. Negley; 2) Gilbert Moxley Sorrel: 3) Richard L. Page; 4) A Southern substitute for coffee; 5) Vicksburg.
¨ 21st Annual Midwest Civil War Round Table Conference hosted by the Chicago and Milwaukee
CWRT’s – April 19-21 at Lisle, Illinois, 20 miles west of Chicago. More information at a later date.
¨ June 24-28 – ICWRT Trip – Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Nikki Schofield has tentative agenda.
The Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum and the Soldiers & Sailors Monument Observation Level will be closed to the public Monday through Friday, beginning November 5, 2001. The Civil War museum will open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, while the tower itself will remain closed. Both museum and tower will resume regular operating hours (Wednesday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.) on March 1, 2002.
“The reduced hours are a result of several factors,” said Bill Sweeney, Executive Director of the Indiana War Memorials. “First, as soon as the Celebration of Lights decorations go up, our average attendance figure at the Civil War museum falls to less than 90 people a day. That, coupled with energy usage and staff, make the museum very costly to operate. During the curtailment period, we will reduce our part-time staff and our utility costs.”
The museum will be opened for any school group, which registers in advance. A three week advanced notice is required for school tours. The reduced operating hours will not affect the Indiana War Memorial itself. It will remain open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Admission is free.
Jackson’s Blue Frock Coat to be Restored
The blue of his “frock” coat saved Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson in a l862 Civil War battle, and now the coat itself is being saved.
When Stonewall Jackson left VMI to go off to war in April l861, he was wearing his blue frock coat. It probably saved him from getting killed or captured in the Battle of Port Republic. The boys in the Union Army from Ohio were looking for soldiers in gray, not blue.
Now, 139 years later, the coat is about to be restored due to donations totaling over $7,000 from the Virginia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The final contribution of over $650 was made Oct. 12 at the VMI Museum.
This is the coat Jackson wore during the Battle of First Manassas, the battle where Stonewall got his nickname. It used to be a double-breasted coat, but there is only one set of buttons now. That’s because Mrs. Jackson gave away the other row of buttons as souvenirs. The holes and raggedness of the coat are due both to the ravages of time and battle wear. Jackson had a number of uniforms and wore this coat intermittently. The last time anyone knows Jackson wore the coat was in June of l862 at the Battle of Port Republic.
It has been established that the coat has suffered damage from insects and possibly rodents. The holes will be reinforced with blue materials. The restoration will be done by Fonda Thompson, head of Textile Preservation Associates, Inc. in Sharpsburg, MD., and the work will take about one year. Thompson did the work on Jackson’s pants as well, which now hang in the VMI Museum.
By Dave Sutherland
Two Months in the Confederate States: An Englishman’s Travels Through the South by William Carson Corsan, LSU Press, edited by Benjamin H. Trask. W. C. Corsan, a native of Sheffield, England, was a named partner of a Yorkshire firm that sold clock springs, whaling lances, surgical instruments, spades, dies, engraving plates and other steel products to the Americas. By l860 such firms were shipping nearly 22,000 tons of steel products to the Americas. However, by l862 a tightening Federal blockade was devastating Corsan’s business dealings in the Southern Confederacy. In October l862 to help rescue his firm’s declining fortunes, Corsan traveled from Liverpool to New York and then to New Orleans where he crossed into Mississippi and rebel lines. His travels took him through Jackson, Mobile, Selma, Montgomery, Atlanta, Augusta, Charleston, and finally Richmond.
During his travels he visits steel firms, hospitals, Confederate government offices, prisons and battlefields. His train rides often encounter unscheduled stops with no access to hotels or restaurants for meals. He describes the delapidated condition of over used, but under maintained rebel railway cars. He recounts the adventures in using Confederate money. While lodging in rebel hotels, he quickly discovers that one can no longer place boots outside the door for cleaning as they may not be there in the morning. At one point, the English traveler is almost conscripted into the Confederate Army.
In his concluding chapter written sometime between Fredericksburg in December l862 and Gettysburg in July l863, Corsan writes, “It is no disgrace to the North that she cannot subdue the South. If she had all Europe with her, they could not accomplish it …There is no reason in the world why the South and North should not live amicably and prosperously apart.” Corsan’s narrative convincingly supports his argument.
Campaign 2001-2002 Presenter’s & Speakers
MEETING DATES PRESENTER SUBJECT
September 10, 2001 Nikki Schofield The Confederate Secret
Service in Canada
October 8, 2001 Bill Anderson The 19th Michigan
November 12, 2001 David Fraley The Battle of Franklin, TN
December 10, 2001 Dale Phillips Ben Butler and the Occupation
of New Orleans
January 14, 2002 Dan Mitchell The Mississippi
February 11, 2002 Steve Jackson My Boys in Blue: A Tribute
March 11, 2002 Dick Skidmore John Hunt Morgan: Then and Now
April 8, 2002 Peter Carmichael TBA
May 13, 2002 Gary Ecelbarger Frederick W. Lander: The Great
Natural American Soldier
June 10, 2002 Herman Hattaway Presidency of Jefferson Davis
“Ought it not be a Merry Christmas?”
Even with all the sorrow that hangs and will
Forever hang over so many households;
Even while war still rages; even while there
Are serious questions yet to be settled,
Ought it not to be, and is it not, a Merry Christmas?
For a nation torn by civil war, Christmas in the l860’s was observed with conflicting emotions. Nineteenth-century Americans embraced Christmas with all the Victorian trappings that had moved the holiday from the private and religious realm to a public celebration. Christmas cards were in vogue, carol singing was common in public venues, and greenery festooned communities north and south. Christmas trees stood in places of honor in many homes, and a mirthful poem about the jolly old elf who delivered toys to well-behaved children captivated Americans on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.
But Christmas also made the heartache for lost loved ones more acute. As the Civil War dragged on, deprivation replaced bounteous repasts and familiar faces were missing from the family dinner table. Soldiers used to “bringing in the tree” and caroling in church were instead scavenging for firewood and singing drinking songs around the campfire. And so the holiday celebration most associated with family and home was a contradiction. It was a joyful, sad, religious, boisterous, and subdued event.
Events proceeded quickly in l861, hastening war. Abraham Lincoln became the 16th president of the United States in March and the bombardment of Fort Sumter occurred in April. Southern states seceded and the Confederates claimed their first major victory at the first battle of Manassas. For the shopkeeper or farm boy or student away from home for Christmas the first time, melancholy set in. Yet Christmas l861 also saw soldiers full of bravado, still relatively well fed and equipped, eagerly anticipating Christmas boxes of treats from home.
The sad year of l962 brought forth the war’s impact full force with battles at Shiloh, Manassas, and Antietam, and campaigns in the Shenandoah Valley and the Peninsula. Many Fredericksburg, Virginia citizens were homeless or fled their town just prior to Christmas. Officers of the 20th Tennessee gave their men a barrel of whisky to mark the day. “We had many a drunken fight and knock-down before the day closed,” wrote one participant. But there were other more somber occurrences recorded for Christmas l862. One account tells of soldiers being forced to witness an execution for desertion and another grim letter describes how men firing their weapons in a funeral salute were mistakenly punished for unauthorized holiday merrymaking
The year of l863 saw the battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg and the beginning of the end of the Confederacy. Holiday boxes and barrels from home containing food, clothing, and small articles of comfort were highly anticipated by soldier recipients. Depending on their duty assignment, Christmas dinner may have consisted of only crackers, hardtack, rice, beans and a casting of lots for a single piece of beef too small to divide. Those lucky enough to receive boxes from home could supplement a meager meal with turkey, oysters, potatoes, ham, cabbage, eggnog, cranberries, and fruitcake. One of the dreariest accounts of Christmas during the Civil War came from Lt. Col. Frederic Cavada, captured at Gettysburg and writing about Christmas l863 in Libby Prison in Richmond:
“The north wind comes reeling in fitful gushes through the iron bars, and jingles a sleighbell
in the prisoner’s ear, and puffs in his pale face with a breath suggestively odorous of eggnog. Christmas Day! A day which was made for smiles, not sighs – for laughter, not tears – for the hearth, not prison.”
The final wartime Christmas in l864 came as the Confederacy floundered, Lee’s Army behind entrenchments in Petersburg and Richmond. Abraham Lincoln received a most unusual gift, the city of Savannah, GA., presented by General William Tecumseh Sherman via telegram. Union and Confederate sympathizers were hoping this Christmas would be the last conflict. But some units, however, were on the march, either trying to evade capture or pursuing the opponent for better position. Soldiers left in the squalid conditions of prison camps spent the day remembering holidays at home, as did others in slightly more comfortable settings.
The events of l865 again influenced holiday celebrations. President Lincoln’s assassination shocked the nation, but by mid-summer, the conspirators were hung or imprisoned for lengthy terms. War was ended and many soldiers had been mustered out of service. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution became law on December 18, l865, abolishing the institution of slavery. Soldiers and civilians alike were ready to unite with their families and again embrace Victorian holiday customs. Long-held holiday traditions were re-introduced, as ornamental greens and trees filled the markets and toys and other items went on display.
The final verse of a poem By the Christmas Hearth published in the Christmas edition of Harper’s Weekly reflected the sentiments of many:
Bring holly, rich with berries red,
And bring the sacred mistletoe;
Fill high each glass, and let hearts
With kindest feelings flow;
So sweet it seems at home once more
To sit with those we hold most dear,
And keep absence once again
To keep the Merry Christmas here.
Wishing All Happy Holidays!