Short Takes

by Fred Ray on November 13, 2009 · 0 comments

Our local bookmeister, Dale Neal, report a new Civil War book by a local author.

James Rumley’s orderly world was changed forever when Union soldiers attacked New Bern in 1862 and occupied his hometown in nearby Beaufort for the following three years.

Rumley recorded his thoughts about Union occupation, secession, slave ownership and other topics in a diary that has been edited and annotated by Judkin Browning, an assistant professor of military history at Appalachian State University. The book has been published by the University Press of Florida.

“The Southern Mind Under Union Rule: The Diary of James Rumley, Beaufort, North Carolina, 1862-1865” is the result of Browning’s painstaking work to recreate Rumley’s writings from multiple sources, including a serialized account that ran in the newspaper The Look Out in 1910, and two fragmentary copies of the diary.

Just as a general comment, the coastal war in NC gets little attention, as do the reactions civilians in the Occupied South.

And, a few clouds have appeared over the otherwise placid landscape of the Carolinas. In Augusta, GA, the downtown Confederate monument, which features a likeness of local hero Berry Benson on the top, was defaced with crude anti-white graffiti.

Messages were marked in black and include the words black power, I hate whites and cracker killers as well as an obscenity against whites in large letters.

And, in Charlotte, NC,  some folks (you can guess who) are upset with a living history lesson.

During a lesson on the Civil War, tour guide Ian Campbell, made black students pretend to be slaves in front of their white classmates.

Campbell said he’s been a historian for more than 15 years. “I am very enthusiastic about getting kids to think about how people did things in 1860, 1861, even before that period.”

One parent said Campbell took his enthusiasm too far when he picked three black elementary school children out of a group of mostly white students to play the role of cotton picking slaves during a his hands-on history lesson. The parent says the students were also made to wear bags used to gather cotton around their necks.

Campbell said, “I was trying to be historically correct not politically correct.”

Follow the link and take a look the video, which may surprise you.

And finally, a look at the fabled Walker Colt, which still has the distinction of being the most powerful production black powder revolver ever made. It was, in effec, the Dirty Harry special of its day. Sam Colt built ’em for the Texas Rangers, specifically for Capt. Samuel Walker, who wanted some really big whupass to open up on the Indians. With a .44 caliber ball driven by 60 grains of black powder (as much as most rifles), the Walker was effective even at extended ranges.  It worked, allowing Walker and five other rangers to hold off a war party of 90 Comanches. Although real ones go for up to six figures, you can get a replica from Uberti, and here’s an account from New Zealand of all places of someone who’s tried one. The heroes of the mini-series Lonesome Dove, Gus McRae and Woodrow McCall, both carried one.

UPDATE: While we’re on the subject of firearms, take a look at this .58 cal. Remington Zouave rifle musket. Pricey but hey, it’s only money. This one has a Civil War provenance and the photos are exceptionally well done. Although not issued in large numbers (the gov’t bought about 10,000, not all of which were issued to the army) it was a well-made arm and the troops liked them.

UPDATE II: Speaking of monument desecration, this one comes to us from California. Metal thieves have put virtually all Civil War ordnance at risk, especially the brass pieces. Hard to believe, however, that anyone could get much for an iron cannon, even one that weighs 1,500 pounds.

VALLEJO – Area metal thieves have evidently graduated to larger game with the recent snatching of a 1,500-pound cannon from a Vallejo cemetery, officials said.

The Civil War-era Naval Dahlgren cannon was discovered missing last week from its spot near three others in the Sunrise Memorial Cemetery, graveyard operator Buck Kamphausen said. The remaining cannons have since been removed and stored in an undisclosed location.

“They took an A-frame to it to take it out of the ground,” Kamphausen said. “They dug around it enough to loosen it from the ground.”

This is the second cannon theft Kamphausen knows of in Vallejo in recent years. Another cannon was stolen about 18 months ago from a different cemetery, he said.

Sunrise’s cannon memorial is believed to have been erected in 1906 in the burial ground’s Spanish-American War section, manager Mark Alexander said.


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