Thursday, June 30, 2011

Davis Y Chromosome?

On the 26th I blogged about Jefferson Davis's genealogy. You may be interested to know that Samuel Davis (1788-1830) is the only brother of Jefferson who has been proved to have had surviving male offspring.

There may be other Davis family members who connect further up Jefferson's ancestral line, but Samuel is the closest and least questionable. It cannot be a descendant of Davis himself, because he had no male offspring, and it cannot be Jefferson's sister, Lucinda, because her male descendants carry the Y-chromosome of her husband. Tricky little "Y chromes" aren't they?

If you are a male Davis, and think you are kin, join the Davis Y-chromosome DNA Surname Project at FT DNA and get tested! Wouldn't it be great to know you were a descendant!

John Archibald Campbell Served as Assistant Secretary fo War for Confederacy

 What do you know about John Archibald Campbell? I confess, I knew very little about this interesting Confederate. Born in Georgia, he was admitted to the bar in 1829 at the age of 18 (child prodigy). He moved to Alabama, married and established a law practice in Montgomery, and in 1836 was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives.

 In 1839 he moved to Mobile and resumed private practice, and was again elected to the State legislature. He was appointed to the United States Supreme Court by President Franklin Pierce in 1853.

. Campbell strongly opposed secession, and in early 1861 served as a mediator between William Seward, Simon Cameron and three Confederate commissioners. Campbell had been instructed that the Lincoln administration's policy was for peace and reconciliation, not war, but during the meetings Campbell learned that he had been lied to, when he found the U.S. government was reinforcing Fort Sumter and had requested 75,000 volunteers.

After learning of the reinforcement of Fort Sumter, Campbell resigned from the Court and returned to Alabama. A year later he was named Assistant Secretary of War by Jefferson Davis, a position he held through the end of the War. After the fall of Richmond in 1865, Campbell was arrested and imprisoned at Fort Pulaski, in Georgia, for six months.

After his release, he resumed his law practice in New Orleans, during which he argued a number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court including the Slaughterhouse Cases and a number of other cases designed to obstruct Radical Reconstruction in the South. He lived until 1889 and was regarded as a  brilliant jurist.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Whats Happening At The First White House?

Lots of good things are going on at the First White House. We have obtained a  beautiful Child's Bed of the 1860 period which belonged to Mary Ann Walton Westcott Riley (1861-1943), and was generously donated by Gerald Thompson II of Birmingham, her descendant, given in memory of his Mother, Elizabeth Oden Ellis Thompson.

We have had our chandeliers conserved and are in the process of moving several to enhance the ambiance of the House. Mr. Stan Mullins of Montgomery, his son and granddaughter have toiled for hours in this process. I report that they are now back to the 1861 period (the Chandeliers, not the Mullins!)

Next up is repairing the iron fence which is original to the House, and having an iron bench made, compliments of the Merry Weeders Garden Club which gave us a generous contribution to be used toward the grounds.

Our receptionists have been given navy blue blazers to wear, so we are all very chic. What else? Many items of interest in our Gift Shop. Come and visit us!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

States' Rights Meant "Right To Withdraw"

I mentioned before an SCV newsletter titled "News From the Cradle", George W. Gayle, Editor.  In it are several articles from the Confederate Centennial Edition of the Montgomery Advertiser, Sunday, Feb 19, 1961. One of special interest is by Dr. A. B. Moore, and I quote:
"States' Rights is a bedrock principal in our dual system of government. The states have a right to the exercise of all 'reserved' powers, that is, powers not delegated by the Constitution to the national government or denied by it to the states. That is what we mean by states' rights today, but the concept had a far deeper meaning in the minds of able men prior to the War Between the States."
Dr. Moore goes on: "It meant that a state had legal competency to withdraw from the Union, and it might, of course, do so if it should decide that its interests could not be protected by the Union".

Dr. Moore was former head of the Dept of History and Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School of the University of Alabama and when he wrote the article he was executive director of the Alabama Civil War Centennial Commission.

He added: "One of the most significant results of the Civil War was the repudiation of the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of the states which had menaced the Union from its inception...In the future all states and sections and all leaders would talk about and employ other means of redressing their grievances".

If anyone wants to read the entire article, let me know and I will send it to you.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Genealogy of Jefferson Davis

One of our most popular blogs was on descendants of Jefferson Davis (Jan 9) so I thought you might also be interested in his genealogy. Now, a disclaimer, the following is according to the Internet, not facts that I have personally checked.

 According to what I read, Jefferson's  great-grandfather, Evan Davis, Sr., was born before 1695 in Wales, and died between 1743-47 in Philadelphia, PA.He was married to Mary,  also born before 1700 in Wales. She died in 1758 in Philadelphia.
Their son Evan Davis, Jr. was born in 1729 in Phil. and died bet. 1756-62 in GA. He married Mary Emory who married first Mr. Williams, and second Evan Davis, Jr.
Their son, Samuel Emory Davis was b. 1756, GA and d. 1824, Woodview, MS. He married Jane Cook, daughter of William Cook. She was b. 1761 and d. 1845. Jefferson Davis was their 10th and last child. He was born in Fairview, KY in 1808 and moved with the family to Woodview, MS at a very young age.
Eight of his brothers and sisters had surviving children but only two of his siblings left descendants named Davis beyond one generation. So (the Internet tells us) if your surname is Davis and you have traced your Davis ancestry back into the 1800's without connecting to the grandsons of Samuel or Lucinda Davis, its probably time to bury the family legend of being cousins of Jefferson Davis!

Jefferson Davis Monument

It is a real comfort to know that the memory of Jefferson Davis continues in a powerful way in many places. One, of course, is our beloved First White House of the Confederacy here in Montgomery.

Another is the Jefferson Davis Monument in Fairview, Kentucky which marks the site of his birthplace. At 351 feet tall, it is the largest unreinforced concrete obelisk in the world, and the fifth tallest monument in the  world. The top four are St. Louis's Gateway Arch, San Jacinto Texas, Washington Monument and the Perry's Victory and Peace Memorial at Put in Bay, Ohio. (That one is only 12" larger than the Davis obelisk - boo, hiss, we wuz robbed!).

The idea for the monument was hatched in 1907 at a reunion of the Orphan's Brigade of the Confederate Army. Construction was begun in 1917 and it was completed in 1924 at a cost of $ 200,00. The Monument (like the First White House) has undergone major renovation and reopened to visitors in May, 2004.

Fightin' Joe Wheeler

I recently read an article that was in the Montgomery Advertiser, Feb. 19, 1961 reprinted by the Sons of the Confederate Veterans "News From the Cradle", George Gayle, Editor, about General Joe Wheeler.

In one of the many battles he fought, Wheeler dashed between two federal armies, defeating one, destroying 1200 loaded wagons, killing 4000 mules and blowing up 300 ammunition wagons. He was known as the master of retreat and master of attack.

He was born in Augusta but at an early age he was sent to live with an uncle in Connecticut. At the age of 18 he was appointed to West Point by a New York congressman. He finished the five year course in 1859. When Georgia seceded from the Union, Wheeler resigned his federal commission and
returned to Georgia and joined the Confederacy. He had lived all but the first five years of his life in the North.

During the course of the war he was wounded three times and had 18 horses shot under him.After the war he served in Congress until he resigned to fight in the Spanish American War where he was acclaimed a national hero. He later served in the Philippines under General MacArthur. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Good Trick Played On The Yankees

This is from my friend's great-grandfather's War memoirs: "Sometimes when we located an enemy picket of good size and favorably situated, Captain E. or Captain S. would organize an 'expedition'. Calling for volunteers he would pick out 20 or so. Then under cover of night...the squad would embark and row down the river, singing black spirituals, which all, being brought up on the rice plantations, we could do perfectly.

Presently 'Who goes there?'  'Der, me mosser'. 'Who's me?' 'Kum from de Stewart. plantation suh'. 'What you doing here'?  'We ain't bin had no terbaker, suh, since the rebbel gone, an' we brung sum chicken an' aig fuh see ef we kin swop um, suh'.

'What else you got?' Sum bee-honey, suh, en crab-meat and rossin years, suh'.  'Well, bring your boat in and I'll see what you got.' By that time the flat had touched the bank, all the men, except one, had leaped out; before the sentry could yell he was felled and gagged. By the time the picket squad woke up they were all covered, tied, and they and all their outfit, guns, food, equipage, etc., transferred to the flat or boat, and by next morning all were back in our camp and we ate up their fine food, divided out the spoils and sent them to headquarters with our report."

If anyone reading this, needs to have anything translated, please let me know!!!

One Soldier's Service in the Confederate Army

A friend gave me an account of her Great-Grandfather's story of his service in the Confederate Army. He was 14 when the War started and he was wild to join, but  his parents made him wait until he was 16!

He says: "In the 2 years (he served) I was never in a hospital, never had a tent, never was sick, never wounded. I had one large firm all wool blanket my mother gave me from the household supply. My cousin and buddy, Willie, had another of the same kind form his house. When we camped at night, if time and conditions suited, we would take up leaves or straw or boughs, cover it with one blanket and cover ourselves with the other."

He went on: "If it was raining, we would cut two sticks about 3 feet long with crouched top, stick them in the ground 6' apart, connect from crotch to crotch with a long stick or fence rail, stretch one blanket over it, tent fashion, like an inverted v and lie down underneath and cover with the other blanket. If we got wet it was unfortunate, but unavoidable and that was all there was to it."

This old soldier wrote his memoirs in 1931 and died in 1932.  In my next blog I will tell you about one of the "tricks" they played on the Yankees!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Jefferson Davis' first letter to wife from Montgomery

A dear friend from the Second White House in Richmond has sent a copy of Jefferson Davis' first letter to Varina after arriving in Montgomery.
He tells her about his Inauguration. He says: "the audience was large and brilliant upon my weary heart was showered miles, plaudits and flowers, but beyond them I saw troubles and thorns innumerable."
He goes on to say "We are without machinery without means and threatened by powerful opposition but I do not despond and will not shrink back from the task imposed upon me". He spoke correctly, didn't he?
About Montgomery he says: "this is a gay and handsome town of some 8000 inhabitants and will not be an unpleasant residence - As soon as an hour is my own I will look for a house and write to you more fully".
 Well, we know the Confederate Government found him a house! It is our wonderful First White House, and we are so glad that it is still with us for visitors from all over the world to enjoy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

John Tilley's Book About Facts The Historians Leave Out

Facts the Historians Leave Out: A Youth's Confederate Primer
I bought John Tilley's book "Facts The Historians Leave Out - A Youth's Confederate primer" on Amazon.  He reminds us that from the beginning the North was not congenial with the South. The South was pretty much wholly agricultural, the North, commercial. New England was Congregational, Virginia, mostly Anglican, Pennsylvania, Quaker, Maryland, Roman Catholic and so on.
Other antagonisms developed. New England offended those in Dixie with snobbish airs of superiority. Colonies imposed tariffs upon goods from other colonies, and later Congress enacted a "protective tariff" which enriched the North at the expense of the South.
Abolitionists took pains to incite Southern slaves to rise against their masters, etc. etc. The South became alarmed and recalled Lincoln's pronouncement that "any people, anywhere" had the right to "shake off the existing government".
Henry Cabot Lodge, a New England Brahmin said that as of the date of the adoption of the Constitution, it was universally regarded as an experiment, entered upon by the States and from which any State "had the right peaceably to withdraw."
Buy this little book and read it. It will open your eyes to  things you may not have thought about before.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Acquisition

We are so thrilled to report that yesterday we were given a beautiful baby bed for the Westcott Bedroom by  Gerald H. (Jerry) Thompson II of Birmingham, Alabama. It adds so much to the set of Westcott furniture - the Westcott bed, the magnificent Triple Wardrobe and the matching Wash Stand. These pieces were donated in 1956 by Mrs. Pattie Gilmer Westcott (Mrs. Baldwin Westcott).

The bed was slept in by all the Westcott children. It was given in honor of Jerry's Mother, Elizabeth Oden Ellis (Mrs. Gerald Hobson Thompson). We are so honored to have it and will treasure it as we do all of our lovely pieces that friends have been so kind to give us.

Do stop by and see it at your earliest opportunity.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Break Time

Hello folks,
Break time this week. No blog for a few days. please catch up on past ones you may have missed!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Last Three Top Ten Battlefields To See During Sesquicentennial

Last on Ken Burns list were: eighth, Chattanooga - Grant had left the west but Sherman was still there and the Union army against impossible odds was able to make it to the top of Missionary Ridge in a huge battle. This began the plan for the march to Atlanta and then to the sea.

I have been to Chattanooga and stood on top of that mountain, It seems an impossible feat, but the North did it. The South squandered a golden opportunity. It was freezing on top of that mountain the day we visited, January 1, 2010. I have never been so cold!!! The Confederates were sleeping on the ground with one thin blanket each. Brrrr - no wonder they lost that one.

Ninth, Petersburg. The Confederates set up defensive works there but the North dug a tunnel under southern lines and set off a huge explosion. The North failed to capitalize on this, and the South regrouped. The war settled into a bloody stalemate from the summer of 1864 to March of 65 when Richmond fell.

Tenth and last on the short list of places to visit is Appomattox Court House, Va. After Richmond, the Confederates began a retreat, but soon saw a sea of Union troops both in front and behind them, and it was at that point Lee realized the cause was hopeless. He agreed to meet Grant  and the rest is history, as they say. A sad end to the most tragic time in our Nation's life.

Even though some have tried to make Southerners into racists because we are proud of our forebears, we know that given their circumstances, they were fighting for what they believed was right  So we honor them. And we take the hard-earned lessons of the past and we learn from them, that we might have a better United States of America, One Nation Under God.

Top Ten Battlefields To Visit

In the last blog I listed the first five (out of 10) battlefields, in chronological order, that Ken Burns picked to visit. Here are the other five, beginning of course with Gettysburg.

After a spectacular battle at Chancellorsville, Robert E. Lee moved the army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania. He felt he needed to take the War to the North. The two armies came together at Gettysburg in a titanic struggle, and in retrospect, this was probably the most decisive battle of the War.

From July 1-3, 1863 the two armies fought. On the third day  General George Pickett led his infamous, disastrous charge from Seminary Ridge to Cemetery Ridge, where the Yankees held the high ground. Lee and his army was defeated and pushed back into Virginia. Some say this was the beginning of the end for the Confederates.

Vicksburg is Mr. Burns next pick. The battle for the Miss river ended the day after Gettysburg. The North had laid siege to Vicksburg for days and finally on July 4, the people of Vicksburg surrendered. This meant a double victory for the Union cause with both Gettysburg and Vicksburg.

The last three coming up in our next blog!!!

Civil War Sites - Ken Burns' Favorite Picks

May 20-22 USA weekend which appears in the Montgomery Advertiser has an article by Ken Burns which I found very interesting. He mentions that there were 10,000 places in which the "Civil War" (as Yankees call it) was fought. That is a bit off-putting, but he narrows his picks to 10.

You can guess most of them but I will list them all the same. They are listed chronologically, from the start of the war. Number one being of course, Fort Sumter.There, he says, you begin to feel the presence of all the forces, North and South, at the start of the war. The only casualty was a horse.

Second is the First Battle of (he calls it Bull Run,) we call it Manassas, because the South called the battles after the town, and the North called it after the nearest body of water. No one, as Ken points out understood that it was going to be the holocaust it became.

Third was Shiloh, Tenn. He says two days in April 1862 made for the biggest battle of the Civil War up to that point. Its beautiful now so it is hard to imagine the carnage that took place.

Next was Antietam, near Sharpsburg MD. 23,000 casualties; no other battle had as many dead and wounded as Antietam produced that day. i have been there and seen what they called "Bloody Lane".
Fifth was Fredericksburg, Va., which Mr. Burns says was a particularly horrendous battle that took place between Richmond and Washington. There was even street-to-street fighting there.

I will list the other five in my next blog beginning guess?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Peninsula Campaign - Lee v/s McClellan

When Gen. Joseph Johnston, CSA was wounded at Fair Oaks, President Davis replaced him with General Lee. Richmond was threatened but Lee struck before McClellan could break through.

By the first of July, 1862 McClellan had the Army of the Potomac on a commanding plateau at Malvern Hill. At first Lee thought McClellan's position was too strong to assault, but a shifting of Federal troops deceived him into changing his mind and attacking. This proved imprudent and things went badly.

The Confederate formations were shattered, costing Lee 5,500 men. On the following day, Lee ordered his men back to Richmond.His attacks, while costly, had saved Richmond for the Confederacy.

The Peninsula Campaign cost the Union Army 15,849 men, but the Confederates lost more by doing most of the attacking: 20,614. Improvements in the training and discipline of both armies since the disorganized fighting at Manassas was notable. But also significant was the fact that higher commanders had not thoroughly mastered their jobs. Way too many wasted opportunities on both sides.

An interesting book to read on the subject is Extraordinary Circumstances: The Seven Days Battles

Friday, June 3, 2011

Senator Brewbaker Talks About Jefferson Davis

About sixty plus people gathered inside the First White House of the Confederacy today to celebrate the 203rd Anniversary of the birth of Jefferson Davis.

State Senator Dick Brewbaker spoke briefly about Jefferson Davis, and how he always tried to do what was best for his Country and for the South. Dick brought it home to us by reminding us that we all need to do what we can in order to ensure the best that a People can do for their Country.

He reminded us that we can all VOTE. And we can all take an interest in our local, State and National Government. That is what Jefferson Davis did, and we revere him for it. He was a man of principal and was willing to stand for the hard right against the easy wrong.

Senator Brewbaker challenged and encouraged us. It was a great day for the First White House and I am sure that President Davis would be pleased!

William Latane' Confederate Hero Perishes

William Latane' was a Confederate Army Officer who was the only one killed during J.E.B. Stuart's  daring  "Ride around McClellan", a mission that skirted completely around the Federal Army of the Potomac during June 12-15, 1862.

In the "Westcott Bedroom" upstairs in the First White House there is an engraving of the scene of his burial. The Union officers would not let a minister officiate at the funeral so the women of Sumner Hill and Westwood Plantations in nearby Hanover County, Virginia, read the service.

The engraving shows the women in mourning standing around the grave, a black servant leaning on the shovel used to dig the grave. The scene of the burial was painted by William D. Washington in 1864, and the engraving was done from the painting. It was a particularly popular engraving after the War, signifying the desolation of the South at the time.

Lantane's death became romanticized in art and poetry both during and after the war. It reminds me of a hymn titled "I Vow To Thee My Country". The first stanza reads: "I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above, Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love: The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test, that lays upon the altar the dearest and the best; The love that never falters, the love that pays the price, The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Downtown Marker Depicts Confederate Flag & Stirs Up Controversy

An historic marker has been placed at the site where the Confederate Government building once stood. It had been in the area before, but was removed when the new Renaissance Hotel and Civic Center were being built with the assurance that it would be put back after the construction was finished.

 Why is it controversial? Because it depicts the Confederate Battle flag on one side of it and the various flags and "great seal" of the Confederacy on the other side. Honestly, I thought we were "over that" but I guess there are always people who want to stir up issues.

Here is what I think: lets get past the "controversy" and let facts be facts. As General Napier said, "I don't believe that you rewrite history. You take it as it is - the good, the bad and the ugly."

I also like what Lee Sentell, Alabama Tourism Director said: "To me, history is more powerful when you feel like you are standing on a place that is hallowed ground to a certain segment of the population. History happened where it happened".

Lets always remember, the War is over and we are once again one nation under God. That doesn't happen with many countries, so the United States of America is unique in many, many ways. Lets celebrate our unity as well as be proud of our diversity.

To read the article go to Montgomery If you have comments, we welcome them!

Jefferson Davis's 203rd Birthday Tomorrow

Tomorrow, June 3rd as always we will celebrate Jefferson Davis's birthday. It will be an important one as they all are. 203 years - wow, and still celebrating!!!

Senator Dick Brewbaker will speak at 11:00. Afterwards Eva Newman's wonderful made from scratch birthday cake. Please join us if you are able!!!

Hope to see you there. More news later...the marker downtown made the paper today...will blog about this shortly.

Jefferson Davis's Sword, Rifle & Walking Stick

If you were a little boy, wouldn't you love to get into one of those cases in the Relic Room in the First White House of the Confederacy? Especially the one with Jefferson Davis' sword, Rifle & Walking Stick. Since you are probably still a little kid at heart, let me tell you about them.

The sword is what is known as a "presentation sword". The handsome scabbard and hilt are of brass, probably once gilded and inlaid with silver. It is a "non-regulation staff and field officer's sword" from the mid-19th century, made in France,  all intact and  in fine condition. It was purchased by Mrs. Napier at the sale of the possessions of William Hayes in Colorado Spring and therefore a Davis family heirloom.

The rifle is an historic United States Army muzzle-loading Mississippi Rifle, Model # 1841, made at the Harper's Ferry Arsenal and carried by Col. Jefferson Davis in the Mexican War, 1846-48. It is a type called a "Flanigan" rifle. It was purchased in 1977 by the White House Association from Norm Flayderman & Co. Historic Arms and Militaria, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Walking Stick is either bamboo, or possibly hardwood with bamboo turning, of a simple form, with an engraved gold head. This historic walking stick was given by President Franklin Pierce to Jefferson Davis, when he was serving in the Pierce cabinet as Secretary of War. It was donated by Mrs. Hudson Strode in 1976.

We are so fortunate to have these artifacts as well as so many others in the First White House of the Confederacy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Articles Owned By Jefferson Davis In Our Relic Room

The First White House of the Confederacy is so fortunate to have been given many personal items owned by either President or Mrs. Davis or the Davis family, and a number of them are in cases in our relic room.

One of the most striking things is an historic uniform made for and given to President Davis of cloth woven in Virginia. This grey uniform was presented by General Jubal Early. It consists of a coat, vest and trousers, all in mint condition.

 The case with his uniform also contains his smoking jacket of  grey tweed, lined in a tartan fabric. It has frog closurs and is a handsome and unusual garment, in excellent condition.Also in this case is his paisley dressing gown, lined in quilted grey silk 

Other things in the case are a backgammon set which was made on the Davis plantation at Brierfield, his broad brimmed sun hat, which he wore during his last years at Beauvoir, and a pair of shoes, high top slippers of pull on type, no laces.

 Tomorrow I will tell you about his sword, walking stick and rifle, also in this case. I know you want to come see these things and I hope it will be soon!