Eugene Blackford letter excerpt November 21, 1861

by Fred Ray April 11, 2016

The excitement of battle quickly died down, to be followed by the unending drudgery of drill, picket, and fatigue details of all sorts. Blackford was taken ill and went home to recuperate, then returned, still very weak, when he heard a battle might be imminent. There was an action at Ball’s Bluff on October 20th […]

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Blackford’s baptism of fire at Manassas

by Fred Ray March 24, 2016

For Blackford, the deciding moment came with the secession of Virginia on April 17, 1861. Like many other Southern Unionists like John Mosby, Jubal Early, and Robert E. Lee, Blackford threw in his lot with the new Confederacy, taking his company, the Barbour Greys, to Richmond. There they were assigned to the 5th Alabama Infantry. […]

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Eugene Blackford letter excerpt March 11, 1861

by Fred Ray March 13, 2016

Once secession of the Lower South was a fact, the seceded states immediately began attempting to expel Federal garrisons and claim United States installations. This was successful except for a few points, most notably Ft. Pickens at Pensacola and Ft. Sumter at Charleston. Alabama and Mississippi both sent troops to assist the taking of Ft. […]

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Eugene Blackford letter excerpt January 14, 1861

by Fred Ray March 3, 2016

In this letter home to his father, Blackford seems to understand better than the politicians what is coming. Although opposing secession, he also opposes coercion by the Federal government. Ere this I suppose you have received the intelligence that Alabama has seceded, and that I am for the first time in my life without the […]

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Eugene Blackford letter excerpt January 5, 1861

by Fred Ray February 28, 2016

I will be periodically posting excerpts from Eugene Blackford’s letters in the next few months, all of which are included in Volume I of my upcoming book (which may still be ordered at a prepublication discount). This letter finds Blackford, a Virginian, in the small town of Clayton, Alabama (near Eufaula) working as a school […]

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The Turner Rifle

by Fred Ray February 17, 2016

I was recently fortunate to acquire a Turner rifle. Thomas Turner (1834-1890) was a 19th Century gunsmith who lived and worked in Birmingham, then the center of the gun trade. He was “a prolific manufacturer of Volunteer rifles in the 1859-1862 period. His small-bore (.451) rifles were very popular into the mid 1860s, rivaled only […]

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Short Takes

by Fred Ray February 11, 2016

Capandball, whom we have met before, does a very nice video about light infantry jaegers in Central Europe. He is Hungarian, which was at the time part of the Austrian empire. As you will see, these old jaeger rifles were quite accurate but rather slow to load. He also discusses the theory of how and […]

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