Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lewis Armistead, Confederate General, Killed at Gettysburg

General Lewis Armistead was a colorful character and a professional soldier, who told Winfield Scott Hancock when he left the Union army to fight for the Confederacy: "you can never know what this has cost me".
He fought as a Brigade Commander  at Seven Pines, then under Lee in the Seven Days Battles, (where he was chosen to spearhead the assault on Malvern Hill), and at Second Bull Run.  He also fought at Antietam and Fredericksburg.
In the Battle of Gettysburg, Armistead's brigade arrived the evening of July 2, 1863. The next day, he led his men toward the center of the Union line  during Pickett's Charge. Wikipedia says: "He led from the front, waving his hat from the tip of his saber". He reached the stone wall at the top of the hill, which served as the charge's objective.
His Brigade got further in the charge than any other, to what is called the "High Water Mark" but it was quickly overwhelmed by the Union counterattack. Armistead was shot three times, but none of these wounds were believed to be fatal. He found out his friend Hancock had also been wounded.  This scene is shown in Shaara's novel, The Killer Angels.
Sadly, Armistead died two days later, at the Union field hospital. His death was deemed "not from his wounds directly, but from secondary fever and prostration".

Friday, September 28, 2012

Update on GunBoat Quilt at First White House

Some time ago I told you that our historic Gunboat Quilt has been conserved and is on display at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Mass as a part of their Sesquicentennial exhibition called "Homefront & Battlefield".

The exhibit will travel to three additional venues:  the New York Historical Society in New York City,  April - August 2014; the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, September, 2014 - January 2015; and the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln, Nebraska, Feb 2015 - June 2015.

We are very excited that the ATHM wants to continue to show our quilt from the First White House of the Confederacy. To quote their curator, "it is both very attractive, and has a great story to tell about the work done by so many women on the home front in the South".

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Visitors to the First White House from Scotland

Two distinguished gentlemen, both Councilmen from central Scotland, visited the First White House of the Confederacy recently.Their connection to the First White House was through an iron foundry, Smith and Wellstood, which until lately was in Falkirk Council,  represented by one of our visitors, an area between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The Smith part of the foundry name came from it being founded by James Smith, a well known supporter of the Confederacy in Britain, and the brother of Colonel Robert A. Smith, CSA, who was killed at Munfordville in 1862.
President Jefferson Davis visited James Smith at his home, on his trip to the UK after the War, in recognition of his brother's services and loyalty to the cause.  Toward the end of his life, James Smith visited the President at Beauvoir. How nice to know about this great friendship.
In honor of the 150th anniversary of Col. Smith's death, the two Councilmen resolved to visit places associated with him, in Munfordville, Montgomery and Jackson, Miss. It is a grand tribute to a gallant son of Scotland, who gave his life for the cause in which he believed, and to remember the friendship between a man who provided generations of employment in that area of Scotland, and  Jefferson Davis.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Jefferson Davis Highway

I was traveling through Georgia last week, going from Montgomery to St. Simons Island and highway markers along the way designated the road as Jefferson Davis Highway. When I got home I looked it up on wikipedia and it stated the following
"The Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway was a planned transcontinental highway in the U.S. in the 1910s and 1920s that began in Washington D.C., and extended south and west to San Diego, CA. It was named for Jefferson Davis, who, in addition to being the first and only President of the Confederate States of America was also a U.S. Congressman and Secretary of War".
It never really existed as planned, but parts of it are scattered across the country, and  a portion of it is still in Georgia, where I drove on it last week, State Road 32, near Irwinville, where he was captured.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Richard Wilmer, Confederate Bishop

Richard Hooker Wilmer, only Episcopal Clergyman to serve as a Bishop in the Confederate States of America, was the ancestor of a gentleman who visited the First White House of the Confederacy recently. He told me he would send me a copy of an article on this distinguished gentleman, and I was so pleased to receive it.
In the article it says that Wilmer was as devoted to the principle of the right to throw off the yoke of an oppressive government as had been  his grandfather, who served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
He guided the Confederacy spiritually and with great practicality, both during the War and afterwards during reconstruction. You will find this book on his life fascinating, I feel sure.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Civil War Battle of Antietam 150 Years Ago This Week

The Battle of Antietam, September 1862 near Sharpsburg, Maryland was the bloodiest single-day battle of the War, with 23,000 casualties on both sides.
Emboldened by the success of Second Manassas, Lee decided to take the war into enemy territory. Jefferson Davis and others believed the prospect of foreign recognition would increase if they could have a victory in enemy territory. Unfortunately it was not to be.
Lee and the Army of Virginia  had two Corps, one under Longstreet and the other under Jackson,  Cavalry under JEBC Stuart, and Artillery under Pendleton.. McClellan, and the Union Army of the Potomac  had the following Corps: Hooker, Sumner, Fitz John Porter, Franklin, Burnside and Mansfield, and  Cavalry under Pleasonton. 
The carnage was incredible. The fighting in the Cornfield was unimaginable and the Bloody Lane was filled with bodies by the time it was over. The Battle was a tactical draw, but it was considered a turning point of the War and a victory for Lincoln, as it ended Lee's first invasion of the North.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Facts About Furnishings in The First Whie House of the Confederacy

We have a number of important pieces in the First White House. Two are especially appropriate, a historic Senate Desk, and a "gondola" armchair, in that they were used by the Confederate Senate during the period that the Alabama State Capitol was the Capitol of the Confederate States of America. These two pieces were used for copying the reproductions that are now used in the capitol building since the early 1990 restorations
The chair President Davis used while imprisoned after the war is in the second parlor, as is the  family Bible that was taken from Brierfield during the war and returned years later by his brother. We also have the table on which he wrote his history of the Confederacy, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. This table was at Beauvoir and was given to the First White House by Mrs. Davis.
We also have in her bedroom a tester bed that had been used by General Lafayette in 1825. The President's bedroom is furnished with his custom-made bed as well.
Tomorrow I will tell you about some of the furniture that is original to the House or that was in the House when the Davis family lived there.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Why the First White House of the Confederacy Was Moved

I am sure if you are a regular blog reader, which we hope you are, that you know the First White House was moved from the corner of Lee and Bibb streets downtown to its present location, 644 Washington Avenue, across from the Capitol in 1921. But do you know why it was moved?
Simple answer: The owner of the "then-derelict boardinghouse" did not want to sell the land, so the White House Association simply bought the House, and had the structure dismantled and moved ten blocks. The iron fence that originally surrounded the house was discovered in LaGrange, GA, and returned to the house in 1946.
The original location is currently a skate board park, but I believe the lot has been sold to a developer, so it will possibly not remain as it is today very long. The White House Association had an historic marker placed on the grounds in April of this year, 2012.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Confederate Flag Made of Tiffany Glass - An "AHA" Moment

The Brick Church on Well's Hill in Petersburg Va known as the Historic Blandford Church has the only known Confederate flag made out of Tiffany glass in  it's transom window.
How did that come about? The Ladies Memorial Association was organized in 1866. Their original mission was the recovery of Confederate soldiers (30,000), who were left dead on the battlefields during the ten-month siege of Petersburg, and their internment in a Christian burial.
 In 1901 the LMA received the authority from the City of Petersburg to convert the Old Blandford Church into a Confederate Memorial and Chapel. The ladies commissioned fifteen windows to be created by the Tiffany Studios. Blandford Church is one of seven buildings in the country exclusively ornamented with Tiffany windows. And the Confederate Battle flag is the only known Confederate flag found in any of Tiffany's works.
A celebration will be held there this Sunday, September 9th, to celebrate the Centennial installation of the windows. Google the church to see pictures of the windows, especially the one with the flag. You will find them amazing and beautiful.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Jefferson Davis Wrote About The Right of the South To Secede

 I wrote recently about an article in the History of the Confederate Memorial Associations of the South. The article is called Oration on the Life and Service of Jefferson Davis by Charles E. Fenner of New Orleans. It was published in 1903.
Fenner writes about the right to secede: "He (Jefferson Davis) formulated the whole argument in his 'Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government'...I pronounce it one of the most powerful and masterly legal and constitutional arguments of which I have any knowledge in the English language".
Fenner goes on:"It has never been answered, and it is unanswerable. it was intended and it serves as a complete vindication of the right of the Southern States to withdraw from the federal union, to terminate the compact which they had made with their sister States and to reassume the powers which had been delegated to the federal government as a common agent."
He says it would be a service to all the people of this country if  it (the section on the right to secede)were published by itself in a small volume or pamphlet so that people could have read it and have understood the grounds and motives on which the Southern States acted when they seceded from the Union. That was in 1903. It is even more true today when people don't have a clue.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Exciting Happenings With The First Confederate White House Blog

Want to know a secret? Well, if I tell, it won't be a secret anymore...but here goes. We are making a "Blog Book". Next question - what is a blog book? Answer - its a book that we are putting together of our most interesting (we hope) and informative blogs.

Since we have written over 450 blogs since we started, this is a wee bit daunting, but I think it is going to turn out nicely, and should be lots of fun. Who knows, we might even print it and sell at the First White House Souvenir shop, aka our Gift Shop.

Would you like to have one?  I think that can be arranged (for a small fee). I will let you know when it is finished. My "sources" say that we need around 33,000 words. We have almost half of that. Right now we have around 15 topics but several of these will be consolidated as we go along.

Since its football season, there should be lots of time to work on this, and I promise it will be easy reading for all of us when the product is finished.