A Step Back In Time: Christmas in the Civil War
Sunday, December 7, 2014
David Geiger For the News Virginian
Today is the third in a series of columns about the participants and events, leading up to the Battle of Waynesboro on March 2, 1865. Because of the Christmas season, which is upon us now, our column this month will focus on Christmas during the Civil War.
A Civil War Christmas
Christmas was celebrated in both the United States and the Confederate States of America, although it didn’t become an official holiday until 1870. The war continued to rage with skirmishes on both sides. In 1861 during the Christmas season, the Union navy caught a blockade runner and there were skirmishes throughout Virginia and Maryland. In 1864, Confederate forces repelled a federal assault of sixty warships on Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, North Carolina.
Although the war continued, soldiers on both sides celebrated Christmas in various ways. Some used hardtack to decorate trees. Others were treated to special meals. In Georgia, Union soldiers dispensed food to poor Georgians with mules pulling carts decorated to resemble reindeer by having tree branches tied to their heads.
For the children, Christmas was altered by the war. Presents were fewer, especially in the South. Some children wondered how Santa Claus would get around the Yankee blockade. Excuses for the lack of Santa included Yankees having shot him.
The voices of those affected show the stark difference between the celebrations of both sides. For example, in 1861, Sallie Brock Putnam of Richmond wrote: “Never before had so sad a Christmas dawned upon us…we had neither the heart nor inclination to make the week merry with joyousness when such a sad calamity hovered over us.”
On the other side, Union Brigadier General John Geary wrote his daughter in 1862: “My Dear Little Pet, On this Christmas Eve I have no doubt you have been enjoying yourself, perhaps with toys of the season, eaten your nuts and cakes, hung up your stockings in the chimney corner for old Kris Kringle…. I wish you a Merry Christmas and many of them.”
Christmas in the Valley
It’s safe to say that in the Shenandoah Valley, Christmas in 1864 would have been a muted celebration. During the previous months, Sheridan had waged his campaign, known as “The Burning”. However, knowing the spirit of the people, they celebrated, using what they had or could find. Natural greens, such as laurel and pine, decorated their homes. For the children, waiting for Santa had the same excitement it has to this date. The parents made sure to minimize any disappointment for them. In the words of a Ms. Cornelia McDonald from her journal written in 1862, “Christmas is but ten days off, the blessed time that used to be so joyous. It shall have something bright and cheery in it for the children. They shall hang up their stockings, poor little things, even if I have to manufacture the things to put in them.” Although Sheridan had done much damage, the Christmas dinner could have included oysters, ham, turkey and wild game with side dishes made of vegetables and grain, hidden from the Yankee foragers.
Some things continue from Civil War Christmas traditions- toys, Santa Claus, good food, family, evergreen decorations. Unfortunately, war and conflict continue to separate families at this time of year, as in that time long ago.
I hope that this Christmas is a great one for you. I pray that someday we will have peace and fellowship for all. To quote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his 1864 Christmas poem, “Christmas Bells”:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men
Merry Christmas to you and yours.
© 2014 BH Media Group Holdings, Inc
On The Web: http://www.dailyprogress.com/newsvirginian/news/local/a-step-back-in-time-christmas-in-the-civil-war/article_977b0b9c-7db4-11e4-a965-d702a7af0c8a.html
The Yankee/Marxist Mindset—alive and well among Lincoln’s military
Posted on December 8, 2014
By Al Benson Jr.
How many have followed the news in recent months, noting the contemptuous comments by those in the Obama Regime regarding the average American? Those people look down their long, Marxist noses at us with utter contempt. They have no use whatever for us except to use us as the cash cow to fund their efforts to destroy our faith and culture. They use us to pay for our own destruction. And we are supposed to be too stupid to know what’s going on. Unfortunately, thanks to what has passed for education in this country in the last 100 years, they are often right. However, after the last six “transparent” years of thinly-disguised fascism/Marxism some people are finally beginning to wake up, much to the chagrin of our current ruling elite. After all, you can only spit in people’s faces for so long while telling them it is dew, before some of them wise up.
The recent run-off election here in Louisiana showed that some folks have wised up. Liberal (socialist) Landrieu was finally sent packing after six years as an Obama clone that should have shamed anyone but an outright Marxist. Now we have to watch the man that unseated her to make sure he does what he claims he will do, and let him know we will be watching him if he doesn’t.
Unfortunately, this political (and military) contempt at the national level for ordinary people is not something that is new. It has not only been around since FDR, which many naïve (and some otherwise) people tell us is when our national problems really started. Anyone who has read any of my recent articles pertaining to the Constitution and the weakness of the checks and balances system realizes that our problems began long before FDR—not that he didn’t mightily contribute to those problems—but he was not the originator.
This elitist attitude toward the ordinary man was especially prevalent during and after the War of Northern Aggression. In an article by Thomas DiLorenzo that appeared on LewRockwell.com for December 4th Professor DiLorenzo noted the attitude of General William Tecumseh Sherman toward the civilian population of the South, and toward South Carolinians in particular.
Dr. DiLorenzo observed: “In a January 31, 1864 letter to Major R. M. Sawyer, Sherman explained the reason why he hated the South in general, and South Carolina in particular, so much. The war, he said, ‘was the result of a false political doctrine that any and every people have a right to self-government’.” Why how dare these insignificant South Carolinians think they had a right to self-government! Didn’t they realize that all they existed for was to serve the mighty federal Leviathan that reigned in Washington under “King Lincoln”? Why else would they even want to exist?
One of Sherman’s subordinate officers, a sterling individual named George W. Nichols, got a book published about his outstanding exploits in the War. He described South Carolinians as “the scum, the lower dregs of civilization” who are “not Americans; they are merely South Carolinians.” And General Carl Schurz noted that the average Yankee soldier looked at South Carolina as “deserving of special punishment.” Interpreted into real English that meant that the Yankee/Marxist military leadership from Sherman on down were willing to let their soldiers burn, rape, plunder and pillage in South Carolina while doing little to restrain them. After all, these South Carolina folks had to be taught a lesson—you don’t defy Yankee/Marxist authority and get away with it. With generals like Schurz on board you can bet that major appropriation of Southern property was near the top of the agenda. Comrade Schurz was one of the socialist generals Donnie Kennedy and I dealt with in our book Lincoln’s Marxists. . If you want to read more about Comrade Schurz that the history books will not inform you about, get our book. Schurz is dealt with in some detail and you will learn things about him the authors of the “history” books have seen fit to drop down the “memory hole.”
Sherman had no more use for the concept of self-government than those socialists and Marxists from Europe that were so much a part of Lincoln’s armies. In his book Citizen Sherman, Michael Fellman said of Sherman that: “His rejection of democracy and his semisecret reactionary faith in a military seizure of power deepened through the secession crisis and into the opening stages of his involvement in the Civil War.” In other words, this was Sherman’s attitude before the War even really started. Where do you suppose he got that from? Sherman’s thinking in this direction deepened as the War went on. After Vicksburg, he wrote to his brother, John that “A government resting immediately on the caprice of a people is too unstable to last… (A)ll must obey. Government, that is, the executive, having no discretion but to execute the law must be to that extent despotic.” The wishes or desires of the ordinary people made no difference. All must obey. Period! One wonders where the vaunted Constitution was during all this—in Lincoln’s bottom desk drawer maybe?
This was Sherman’s attitude toward ordinary folks—sheep to be shorn—as they bow the knee to an all-powerful secular messiah in Washington—be his name Lincoln or Obama. Unfortunately, too many Christians are willing to accept that, forgetting that there is only one King, King Jesus, and we are to bow the knee to Him, not to some tinpot dictator that wants to usurp Him and take His place.
As the new Congress files in to take its place in January, start keeping an eye on it and what it does, and if your Congressperson starts leaning to the left, let him/her know in no uncertain terms that you don’t like it—even if he/she does look down his/her nose at you for reminding them who they are supposed to be there to serve. Reminding them we already know what official Washington thinks of us would not be out of line.
On The Web: http://revisedhistory.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/the-yankeemarxist-mindset-alive-and-well-among-lincolns-military/
County pulls four flags from Bay Center
December 15, 2014
A lone American flag flapped in the wind in front of the Pensacola Bay Center on Friday morning.
That followed a decision Thursday night by the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners to fly only the American and Florida flags at county facilities, which was spurred by the county's previous controversial practice of flying a Confederate battle flag at the center.
Originally, the board was to consider replacing the Confederate battle flag, which is actually the battle flag of the Army of Tennessee and a flag that many historians believe never flew over Pensacola, with the First National Flag of the Confederacy, the so-called Stars and Bars flag the city uses in its Five Flags displays.
A Tale of Two Flags: The Confederacy and Pensacola
For now, the American flag continues to fly, with the other four — the Spanish, French, British and Confederate flags — all having been taken down. The flag of the state of Florida may also fly at the center. The board's motion was specifically to allow only the American and Florida flags to fly at county facilities. Whether a Florida flag would be raised at the Bay Center where one had not previously flown is unclear.
More than a dozen people spoke before the board at their Thursday night meeting on both sides of the issue.
Sons of Confederate Veterans member Tommy Ratchford gave a presentation detailing the history of several Confederate flags, and encouraged the commissioners to consider replacing the battle flag with the Third National Flag of the Confederacy.
"I struggle with what I was going to say here today, I understand people have a problem with the concept of slavery, but every flag that flies in the Five Flags represents a country that has something to do with slavery," he said. "This (Confederate battle flag), the soldier's flag, certainly has been adopted by hate groups, left wing radicals, white supremacists, but not with the permission or the acknowledgment of the Sons of Confederate veterans. We never gave anybody permission to use this flag that way."
However, more people spoke out against the flag.
"I still find the Confederate battle flag to be very offensive," said Marine Col. Jim Smith, a black man. "I'm a member of a community service club and we meet at the Bay Center twice a month. I've had numerous visitors and speakers ask why is that flag flying when it's flown nowhere else in the city or the county."
The decision to remove not just the Confederate battle flag, but the other three national flags, as well, was seemingly inspired by an impassioned speech by newly elected commissioner Doug Underhill that referenced his military background.
"When each of us took an oath to lead this county, we took an oath to this flag," he said, pointing to the American flag hanging behind the commissioners. "This is the flag of Escambia County, this one flag. As much as I love my Southern heritage and my Southern past, it is my American present and my American future for which I was willing to lay down my life. So as we go forward thinking about that, putting any other flag on the dais with this one is an insult not to our past, but to our present and our future."
Following Underhill's remarks, Commissioner Lumon May made a motion to fly only the American and Florida flags at all county facilities. After some procedural back and forth, that motion passed 4-1.
Viewpoint: Why fly the five flags?
Commissioner Wilson Robertson cast the lone dissenting vote, having voiced support for replacing the battle flag with the Third National Flag as Ratchford had suggested. Robertson was the only commissioner still on the board from a time 15 years ago when the board had considered the same issue and decided the battle flag should remain.
"I'm proud of my Southern heritage and I'll say that to anyone, and I will not apologize for the vote we took 15 years ago," Robertson said ahead of Thursday's vote.
Of the five governments whose flags have flown over Pensacola in its more than 450-year history, the Confederacy's reign was by far the shortest. Secession was declared in Florida on Jan. 10, 1861. But by May of 1862 following the Battle of Pensacola, Confederate forces abandoned the city learning that the Union had taken New Orleans. The Confederate battle flag as it's known today didn't become popularized until after Pensacola had returned to Union control.
In 2000, after reviewing photographs and consulting local historians, then city manager Tom Bonfield replaced the city's battle flags with Stars and Bars flags.
No discussion was made at Thursday's meeting as for what to do with the now empty flag poles at the Bay Center. Commissioner Robinson said it would be up to the county's Facilities Management office and county administrator Jack Brown to decide what to do with them.
On The Web: http://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2014/12/12/county-pulls-flags-bay-center/20327771/
From: Virginia Flagger <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, Dec 17, 2014
Subject: Va Flaggers: Lee-Jackson Day/Flagging Lexington 2015
The COUNTDOWN begins...30 Days TIL Lee-Jackson Day/Flagging Lexington 2015.
For the third year, the Va Flaggers will gather in Lexington for the Lee-Jackson holiday weekend.
Friday, January 16th is the Virginia State Holiday for Lee-Jackson Day, and Saturday, January 17th is officially recognized as Lee-Jackson Day in Lexington.
The Virginia Flaggers will flag the town of Lexington for action taken by City Council to ban ALL flags (except the US Flag, Va State Flag and non-existent city flag) from city light pole flag stands, rather than allow the flags of Lee and Jackson to fly for the week leading up to the State holiday, ANDWashington & Lee University for actions taken by President Ruscio to desecrate the LEE Chapel by removing battle flags from the Lee Mausoleum in response to the demands of 6 agitators/students.
Join us, as we "take it to the streets" to let the folks in Lexington and Washington & Lee University know that there are still many of us who honor Lee and Jackson and will not go away quietly in the face of these unwarranted and discriminatory attacks.
We will flag all day Friday, participate in memorial services and the parade on Saturday, and flag Saturday afternoon/evening. We welcome all those interested in standing with us to attend Friday, Saturday, or both days.
Meet at Stonewall Jackson Cemetery Friday at 10:00 a.m, Saturday at 9:00 a.m. for instructions and information.
Discount Lodging information here... http://leejacksonday.webs.com/lodgingsponsors.htm
PLEASE NOTE: TODAY, Wednesday, December 17th, is the last day for the discounted lodging, made available by the Stonewall Brigade. Please see link above for specific instructions to make reservations and get the discount pricing.
The Va Flaggers call for a TOTAL BOYCOTT of Lexington, Va and ask that participants take great effort and not spend ANY MONEY inside the city limits. The recommend lodging is located outside of the town limits.
More detailed schedule and information to follow. PLEASE make plans to make your way to Lexington, and TAKE YOUR STAND!
Wednesday, December 17th: Flagging the VMFA, 200 N. Boulevard, 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 P.M.
Saturday, December 20th: Flagging the VMFA, 200 N. Boulevard, 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Monday, December 29th: Susan will be speaking at the Lee-Jackson Banquet of the NB Forrest Camp 803,SCV, Sanford, North Carolina . 6:00 p.m. The Steele Pig, 133 S. Steele Street. RSVP Lt. Commander Kevin Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org by December 20th.
Friday, January 16 - Saturday, January 17th, 2015: Lee-Jackson Day, Lexington, VA. We will be flagging Lexington and Washington & Lee all day Friday, and flagging and participating in the Lee-Jackson activities scheduled for Saturday, including memorial services for Lee and Jackson, and a parade through town. THIS YEAR NEEDS TO BE OUR BIGGEST SHOWING EVER! MAKE PLANS TO JOIN US... take a stand for Lee and Jackson in the town that has chosen to dishonor their memory and let them know that there are those of us who will not forget what City and W&L officials have done.
Follow our blog: http://vaflaggers.blogspot.com/
Find us on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Virginia-Flaggers/378823865585630
Follow us on Twitter: @thevaflaggers
P.O. Box 547
Sandston VA 23150
Technology and the Confederate States of America
Mark Vogl, the Rebel Mountain Story Teller
Mark Vogl is at again. Known as the Rebel Mountain Story Teller, Mark has been visiting groups and schools talking about the heroes of the South for close to a decade. Author of “The Military Lessons of the Civil War,” “The Rebel Mountain Reader,” and “Southern Fried Ramblings with Grits and All the Fixin’s,” Mark has been studying and writing about the War for Southern Independence for a life time. But Mark particularly enjoys developing and presenting unique and lesser reported aspects of the Southern War effort.
Mark’s previous presentations include a forty minute, one man, one act play telling the story of Dick Dowling’s life. Dowling was the Irishman who confounded the Yankees invasion plans for Texas at Sabine Pass in Sept. 1863. During the Christmas season Mark tells the little heard stories of Confederate Christmas. Vogl also does some well researched presentations about Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.
This time the Rebel Mountain Story Teller is talking about something not usually attributed to the South, technology! Mark said: “This presentation is a general survey of technology including some of the Confederacy’s most top secret tools. Most likely there will be one or more surprises for the audience!”
This time the Rebel Mountain Story Teller is using a little technology of his own. The presentation will be supported through a power point equipment. “I think it will really help people see just how ingenious the Confederates were in their attempt to break away from the Union and form their own nation,” said Vogl.
It is with deep sadness that I report the death Compatriot Ron Casteel. Ron Casteel was a veteran news journalist as well as a producer. He was responsible for many SCV productions including Frank and Jesse James, Ashes and Graves. Ron served in many positions in the SCV, including Chief of Staff and Lieutenant Commander in Chief.
I ask each of you to lift up his devoted wife Dianne and the rest of the Casteel Family in prayer in this difficult time.
Ron will be missed!
Charles Kelly Barrow
Sons of Confederate Veterans