Short Takes

by Fred Ray on February 4, 2018 · 0 comments

What is old is new again. Who would have thought that John C. Calhoun, in spite of having his named purged from a school, would be the most influential thinker in the liberal West? Yet nullification (okay, they call it resistance) and even secession (Calexit) are the issues of the day.

It even extends to warship design. Here is the newest Navy warship, the U.S.S. Omaha.

U.S.S. Omaha

Compare with the C.S.S. (later U.S.S.) Tennessee in 1864.

Get rid of the stack and it’d probably be pretty stealthy today.

Martin Pegler, whose interest runs to sharpshooters and snipers, sends along a link to the Gettysburg NMP blog about the identity of the Confederate soldier in Alexander Gardner’s famous photo “A Sharpshooter’s Last Sleep.” Although it’s been pretty much established that the soldier was not a sharpshooter but an ordinary infantryman dragged there to model for Gardner, there has been a good deal of discussion of his identity. The latest, which seems quite convincing, is that he was a Georgian from “Rock” Bennings brigade.

UPDATE: Lord Edward Cornwallis is the latest subject of Historical Cleansing. Canadians seem to have much less attachment to their history than we do, especially when it offends against the pieties of the PC present. Cornwallis stands accused of offering a bounty on Indian scalps, which seemed to have been ineffective, but to be fair he also acted brutally toward the Scots Highlanders after the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745. Nor, it seems was the wave of vandalism against his statue the first mob action against him. After his return from Minorca with Admiral Byng (who was eventually court martialed and executed) “a large, unruly mob attacked the officers as they left their ships in Portsmouth and later burned effigies of Cornwallis and the other officers.” He seems to have been a polarizing figure in life as well as in death.

Africatown, which I mentioned previously, is now embroiled in a controversy about environmental pollution from various nearby industries. Once a fairly isolated location, it is now being rapidly developed.

An interesting article by a serving U.S. Army officer, Captain Nathan Jennings, on the uses of the long-range cavalry raid against the Indians in the 1850s. One of its most successful practitioners was one Captain Earl Van Dorn, who would go on to do it on a much larger scale in the Civil War.

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Led by a local reporter, archeologists think they may have found the wreck of the Clotilda, the last ship reasonably documented as transporting slaves to North America.

What’s left of the ship lies partially buried in mud alongside an island in the lower Mobile-Tensaw Delta, a few miles north of the city of Mobile. The hull is tipped to the port side, which appears almost completely buried in mud. The entire length of the starboard side, however, is almost fully exposed. The wreck, which is normally underwater, was exposed during extreme low tides brought on by the same weather system that brought the “Bomb Cyclone” to the Eastern Seaboard. Low tide around Mobile was about two and a half feet below normal thanks to north winds that blew for days.

The Clotilda, owned by transplanted Mainer Timothy Meaher, arrived at Mobile in June of 1860, fully fifty-two years after the transatlantic slave trade was outlawed. He did it as a bet. Meaher’s scheme was discovered, however, and he had the Clotilda towed to a remote bayou and burned to cover up the crime. The Africans on board, however, were hidden and eventually became slaves on Meaher’s plantation.

It’s a lengthy article but well worth reading. I found it interesting because my ancestors were peripherally involved. John Means Patten and his son Jason were Mainemen like Meaher. They were shipwrights and had apparently came south looking for work after a severe recession in the 1850s closed many of the Maine shipyards. Meaher was a steamboat captain, and with his brothers owned a sawmill and a shipyard near Eight Mile that built steamboats for the thriving trade on Alabama rivers. Since the Pattens were shipwrights and lived near Eight Mile, I’ve assumed that they worked for the Meahers. It’s very doubtful that they knew anything about the Clotilda scheme (Meaher bought the boat, it was not built in his yards), although everyone knew about it after the fact, since it was in all the newspapers.

When hostilities broke out John Patten returned to Maine, but his son Jason stayed, having married an Alabama girl. He signed up with a Confederate company that eventually became part of the 12th Alabama, and was killed in the Shenandoah in 1864. Two of his brothers served with the Union army, one of whom also lost his life.

As for Meaher’s slaves, they were freed after the war and founded their own settlement, Africatown, which still exists.

 

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Check out the Siege of Petersburg Online for daily posts on battle accounts in newspaper articles, diary entries, letters and more!

What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.

Want to read some interesting Civil War content from amateurs and pros alike? Check out the Top 10 Civil War Blogs and Top 10 Civil War Blogs: 11-20.

Shooting the Sharps Rifle

by Fred Ray January 17, 2018

The breech-loading Sharps rifle was one of the most advanced firearms used in the war. Although used by infantry and sharpshooters, it was used most extensively by Federal cavalry as a carbine, and was an important factor in their superiority in the second half of the war. Three models figured in the fracas, the 1852 […]

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Historical Cleansing Update

by Fred Ray January 13, 2018

Dollywood has renamed the Dixie Stampede. Now it’s just a Stampede. Dolly says it “streamlines the name of the show, will remove any confusion or concern about it, and will help efforts to bring the show into new cities.” I agree with Knox County mayor Tim Burchell. Well, like everybody else, I love Dolly, and […]

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Some Fun With An Original P56 Enfield

by Fred Ray December 29, 2017

Wonder why the Confederate sharpshooters (and I mean here the light infantry battalions) were so feared? Cap and Ball will show you with an original P56 two-band Enfield rifle, which shoots very well indeed. And, he’s in the correct uniform.

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The 1854 Lorenz Jaegerstutzen rifle

by Fred Ray December 28, 2017

Most students of Civil War weapons have heard of the Austrian Lorenz rifle. Sometimes called the “Austrian Enfield,” it ranked third in numbers issued to troops on both sides during the conflict, and was the second most common imported rifle after the British Enfield. The biggest users seem to have been the Army of Tennessee […]

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Short Takes

by Fred Ray December 15, 2017

What do you do when you don’t have any Confederates to protest? You obviously make do with what you have. Two in the crosshairs are Teddy Roosevelt and of course Christopher Columbus. “For too long, they have generated harm and offense as expressions of white supremacy,” reads the petition, in a city which “preaches tolerance […]

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