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Vol. 22 No. 5- May 2009


Volume 22, No. 5
Editor: Stephen L. Seftenberg

Upcoming Program: Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The first part of the program will be a discussion program: possible topics: Was the Civil War inevitable? Could President Lincoln have reached a compromise before any fighting began? If he had been able to do so, what would be the short- and long-range results?

President's Message

We have finally obtained a written lease. There will be no increase until 2010-2011 when our rent goes up by 5%. We especially welcome Rodney Dillon, one of the "four founders" of the Roundtable to this evening’s program. Thanks to those who have paid their dues. To those who have neglected to pay their dues, they will not receive notices or be included in the directory unless and until they pay up! I am trying very hard to book speakers for the summer. If you have any suggestions, please call or speak to me at a meeting. Gerridine La Rovere, President

Program: Tuesday, April 14, 2009
March biography:

Member Morris Ball brought us the life of Leonidas Polk, the only ordained minister who was also a general in the Confederate Army. Born April 10, 1806, in Raleigh, North Carolina, to Col. William Polk (a Revolutionary War hero) and his wife Sarah, who had a total of 13 children. Leonidas graduated 8 out of 37 in the West Point Class of 1827 but dropped out of the US Army only months after graduating and entered Virginia Theological Seminary. He married Frances Ann Devereux, whose family was one of the wealthiest in North Carolina. In 1838, he was elected Missionary Bishop to the Southwest and traveled over 5,000 miles over the next 14 months on the road with his horse, "Folly." In 1841, he was appointed the first Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana. Starting with 4 parishes and 238 members, by 1861 the diocese had grown to 1,859 members. This did not prevent him from moving to Maury County, Tennessee, where he owned over 111 slaves and built a beautiful home called "Ashwood." He saw no contradiction between slavery and Christianity. He added a sugar plantation in Louisiana 60 miles from New Orleans and was an active sugar planter from 1841 to 1854. Perhaps his most notable prewar activity was the founding in October 1860 of an Episcopalian college, called the College (now University) of the South, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. His motivation was to draw sons of wealthy Southern families away from Harvard, Yale and Princeton, which were hotbeds of abolitionism.

PolkHis old friend and classmate, Jefferson Davis, appointed him as a Major General in command of 22,000 men, replacing Gen. Pillow. His assignment from Gen. Braxton Bragg was to secure the Mississippi River, which led him to invade Kentucky, which had been "neutral." This in turn led to Unionists winning a special election and preventing Kentucky from seceding. His forces repulsed Grant at Belmont, Missouri, in a pyrrhic victory. After Union victories at Island No. 10 and New Madrid, and a draw at Perryville, Polk had to withdraw from Kentucky. In 1863, Polk and Longstreet fought Rosecrans at Chickamauga. Despite winning the battle, Polk was criticized by Bragg who threatened to court martial him. Davis blocked this and had Polk reassigned to southern Mississippi and Louisiana. As Sherman was threatening Atlanta, Polk is ordered to bring his grandiosely called "Army of the Mississippi" to join Joe Johnston. On the crest of Pine Mountain, on June 14, 1864, a 3-inch shell tore through Polk’s heart and lungs before lodging in a tree. He was given a large funeral in Atlanta.

Polk never swore (it was said he had a general who swore for him!). At times he acted as a bishop, baptizing both Gen. Hood and Gen. Johnston. As a commander, Polk lacked boldness and was a plodder, but his friendship with Jefferson Davis insulated him from his shortcomings.

April program
Confederate flags

"Black Jack" Travis, Vice President of the Roundtable and a veteran reenactors on both sides of the Civil War, wore what a typical Confederate officer would wear in camp: boots, a silk vest smuggled from France, a watch fob containing hair from a loved one, and a well-used slouch hat. He pointed out that there were no regulation uniforms for Confederate officers; they could wear what they wanted to, and Gen. Beauregard wore a custom-made straw hat!

Travis pointed out that flags are important as symbols of family, town, state, and nation. In battle, 10 to 15 color bearers could go down with the flag. The largest collection of Civil War flags is found in the Civil War Museum in Richmond. Silk flags "flew" better but woolen flags lasted longer. Confederate flag poles were hand carved from wood, while Union flag poles were metal with an eagle on top. The flags and flag poles in museums are blood-stained and full of holes from bullets and shells. At the start of the war, Southern women made the flags and presented them to their men as they marched off to "glory." After the surrender at Appomattox Court House, Southern soldiers cut up their flags and took them home as keepsakes. Captured flags were often dragged in the mud or urinated upon.

Bonnie BlueOur speaker then treated us to a recording of "The Bonnie Blue Flag" (left) which he accompanied by a truly heroic Rebel Yell! In his opinion (shared by Gen. P. G.T. Beauregard!), this flag was the first one used and should have been the only flag of the South – not an imitation of the Federal flag. One star avoided jealousy as to which state came first! Both square and rectangular flags were used.

"The first recorded use of the lone star flag dates to 1810. On September 11, 1810, a troop of West Floridian dragoons set out for the provincial capital at Baton Rouge under this flag. They were joined by other republican forces and captured Baton Rouge, imprisoned the Governor and on September 23, 1810 raised their Bonnie Blue flag over the Fort at Baton Rouge. Three days later the president of the West Florida Convention signed a Declaration of Independence and the flag became the emblem of a new republic. By December 10, the flag of the United States replaced the Bonnie Blue after President Madison issued a proclamation declaring West Florida under the jurisdiction of the Governor of the Louisiana Territory. With this rebellion in mind, this flag was used by the Republic of Texas from 1836 to 1839. On January 9, 1861 the convention of the People of Mississippi adopted an Ordinance of Secession . . . and the Bonnie Blue flag was raised over the capitol building in Jackson. Harry McCarthy was so inspired that he wrote . . . "The Bonnie Blue Flag" which became the second most popular song of the Confederacy. The Confederate government did not adopt this flag, but the people [and the soldiers] did and lone star flags were adopted in some form in five of the Southern states that adopted new flags in 1861." Bonnie Blue Flag.

A "national" flag was needed and reflecting popular allegiance to the existing U.S. flag, the "Stars and Bars" flag was adopted as the first National Flag (There were four versions changing as new states seceded). However, in battle it was too easily confused with the Federal flag so the Second National Flag had the Battle Flag where the stars were in the Union flag on a white background. This became known as the "Stainless Banner." It was placed over Stonewall Jackson’s casket and used in Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. It was criticized by some as too easily confused with a flag of surrender, so the Third National Flag, using a vertical red banner at the right end of the flag was adopted. These flags are shown below:

National Flags

2nd National


Battle FlagGen. Lee used a variant of the First National flag as his headquarters’ flag The "Battle Flag" was adapted from the "St. Andrews" flag (with 13 stars within the cross) adopted by Gen. Polk (shown at the right), only the cross is rotated 45 degrees (see right). Soldiers would stencil the names of the battles they fought under this flag on the flag. Battle flags were usually square to ease the flag bearer’s burden, but the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia was rectangular. The Confederate Navy adopted two "Jacks" and two "Ensigns."




The National flags of the Confederacy are almost forgotten today (except for collectors and some Southern states, which incorporate versions of the Confederate flags as their state flags -- see below) The Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia (below) has become the symbol most associated with the Confederacy, and it remains a controversial and divisive symbol to this day." www/ foundation/Confederate_Flag.

 State Flags

The Civil War Day by Day (1996 edition) – May

May 1854 – The Kansas-Nebraska Act, creating the two new territories. is adopted by Congress with a clear majority, and President Pierce signs it. Many Northerners, even those who had previously advocated moderation, denounce this new development. and threaten to stop obeying the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

May 1856 – In Kansas, pro-slavery men attack Lawrence, center of the anti-slavery settlers, and kill one man. In retaliation, a band led by John Brown kills five pro-slavery men at Pottawattamie Creek.

May 1859 – The Annual Southern Commercial Convention, votes to approve the following: "all laws, State or Federal, prohibiting the African Slave Trade, ought to be repealed."

May 1860 – In Chicago, the Republican Party, on its third ballot, nominates Abraham Lincoln as its presidential candidate. The party’s platform declares that it is for prohibiting slavery in the territories but against interfering with slavery in the states.

May 1, 1861 – Federals seize two Confederate ships in Atlantic waters, and the United States Naval blockade reaches the mouth of the James River.

May 3, 1861 – Lincoln sends out a call for 42,000 volunteers and another 18,000 seamen.

May 6, 1861 – President Davis signs an Act declaring a state of war between the CSA and the USA.

May 9, 1861 – The US Naval Academy moves to Newport, Rhode Island.

May 10, 1861 – After U. S. troops clash with pro-secessionist state militia in St. Louis, Missouri, riots cause the death of 27. Seven more are killed on May 11, 1861, before U. S. troops establish control.

May 18, 1861 – U. S. Navy seals off Rappahannock River, completing the blockade of Virginia.

May 20, 1861 – Looking for pro-secessionist messages, U. S marshals appropriate the previous year’s telegraph dispatches. Confederate Congress votes to relocate capital to Richmond, Virginia.

May 24, 1861 – Union forces reoccupy Alexandria, Virginia and suffer first Northern casualty: 24-year old Elmer Ellsworth, 11th NY Regiment, shot while trying to remove a Rebel flag from hotel roof.

May 27, 1861 – Chief Justice Roger B. Taney rules that Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is unconstitutional and the arrest of John Merryman for recruiting rebel recruits illegal.

May 5,1862 – Battle of Williamsburg: CSA killed or missing 1703, USA killed or missing: 829.

May 8, 1862 – Battle of McDowell: 10,000 CSA under Jackson defeat 600 USA under Schenck.

May 9, 1862 – CSA evacuate Norfolk, Virginia, leaving much material behind. US Gen. David Hunter frees slaves in South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. Lincoln repudiates this order May 19.

May 10, 1862 – US lands at Willoughby Point; Lincoln "superintends" movement of US forces! At Fort Pillow, Tennessee, 7 US gunboats (at a loss of 2) sink or force 8 CAS gunboats to retreat to Memphis.

May 11, 1862 – CSA destroys ironclad Merrimack rather than let it fall into US Navy’s hands.

May 16, 1862 – Gen. Butler issues infamous "General Order No. 28" to treat New Orleans women who insult Union troops as prostitutes!

May 20, 1862 – Lincoln signs Homestead Act, a critical impetus for settling the West.

May 25, 1862 – Jackson soundly defeats Banks (casualties: CSA 400, USA 2019!)

May 31, 1862 – Johnston and McClellan "tie" at Fair Oaks (losses: CSA 6134, USA 5031). Johnston is wounded and Davis appoints Robert E. Lee as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

May 1, 1863 – CSA creates CS Navy; resolves to punish white officers commanding black soldiers.

First day of Chancellorsville; at Fort Gibson on the Mississippi, McClernand defeats Bowen (casualties: CSA 1650; USA 881).

May 2, 1863 – Second day at Chancellorsville; AP Hill and Stonewall Jackson (mortally) wounded and replaced by JEB Stuart. CSA prevails largely due to Jackson’s outflanking strategy. In Vicksburg campaign, Col. Grierson completes a 16-day, 600 mile raid that reached Baton Rouge. USA losses: 25; CSA losses 100 dead, 500 captured, 50 miles of railroad track destroyed and 3000 guns captured!

May 3 and 4, 1863 – Third and fourth day at Chancellorsville: Hooker retreats across the river. Losses: USA 1606 dead, 9762 wounded, 5919 missing; CSA 16652 dead, 9081 wounded and 2018 missing.

May 5, 6, 1863 – Clement Vallandigham arrested by Burnside, tried by a military commission and sentenced to "close confinement" for duration of the war. His appeal for habeas corpus is rejected. On May 19, 1863, Lincoln orders him to be sent outside USA lines and not allowed to return (i. e., exile).

May 14, 1863 – Grant captures Jackson, Mississippi.

May 16, 1863 – Grant captures Champion’s Hill (losses: USA 410 dead, 884 wounded, 187 missing (total 2,481 out of 29,000); CAS 381 killed, 1800 wounded, 1670 missing (3851 out of 20,000).

May 17, 1863 – Battle of Black River Bridge results in 1700 CSA prisoners out of 4000.

May 18, 1863 – Siege of Vicksburg begins.

May 3 - 7, 1864 – Battle of the Wilderness: Lee catches the Union troops in the Wilderness, nullifying Union advantage in numbers and artillery. Butler, who was supposed to advance on Richmond is instead "bottled up" in Bermuda Hundred and cannot help Grant. Longstreet is wounded by a CSA shot and the CSA loses the initiative. Losses May 5 and 6 are staggering: USA 2,246 killed, 12,037 wounded, 3,383 missing (17,666 out of 100,000); CSA 7,500 out of 60,000). Grant attempts to outflank Lee by advancing to Spotsylvania, but Lee gets there first. Sherman begins his move toward Atlanta.

May 7, 1864 – Grant orders Sherman to leave Chattanooga and "to move against Johnston’s army, to break it up and to get into the interior of the enemy’s country as far as you can, inflicting all the damage you can against their war resources." Sherman outnumbers Johnston 100,000 to 62,000.

May 10, 1864 – After Gen McPherson routs a small Confederate force at Snake Creek Gap, Georgia, Sherman decides to move his whole army through this vulnerable gap.

May 8 - 15, 1864 -- Battle of Spotsylvania: Warren’s cavalry collide with Stuart’s cavalry; Sheridan and Meade argue and Sheridan proposes to Grant that he conduct a raid around the CSA forces ("the Richmond Raid" during which Sheridan destroys 2 locomotives, over 100 railroad cars, 10 miles of track, medical and ration supplies and frees 378 USA prisoners taken in the Wilderness battles.) At Yellow Tavern, Jeb Stuart and James B. Gordon are mortally wounded. Lee has had time to strengthen the defenses of Richmond, so Sheridan rides North to link up with Butler. May 12, USA overruns Bloody Angle because Lee had moved his artillery elsewhere. Lee rallies and the result is one of the bloodiest battles of the war: USA 6800 killed or wounded, CSA 5000 killed or wounded and 2000 captured. USA Gen. John Sedgwick killed by CSA sniper. During a bloody week, USA losses are 17,500 out of 110,000; CSA losses are uncertain but proportionately just as grievous.

May 16, 1864 – In large part due to the use of barbed wire, Butler escapes defeat at Drewry’s Bluff, but his part of Grant’s strategy is a miserable failure.

May 22, 1864 – Sherman again flanks Johnston’s army, going around Altoona and heading for Dallas, Georgia.

May 23 - 26, 1864 – Battle of North Anna River: USA divides its forces into 3 parts but Lee is sick and cannot take advantage of his opportunity to punish the Federals. Grant again slides to Lee’s right. May 31, 1864 – A group of Radical Republicans hostile to Lincoln’s conduct of the war, emancipation and reconstruction, meet in Cleveland and nominate Gen. John C. Fremont; the running battle North of Atlanta cost each army about 9000 men during May; Grant moves on Cold Harbor.

May 1, 1865 – President Johnson appoints 9 Army officers to try those accused of conspiring to kill Lincoln. Jefferson Davis party reaches Cokesbury, South Carolina, in an effort to get to Texas via Florida.

May 2, 1865 – Johnson offers a $100,000 reward for the capture of Davis. Davis and his group reach Abbeville, South Carolina, uncertain of their future course. Davis wants to continue the fight from Texas.

May 3, 1865 – Lincoln’s funeral train reaches Springfield, Illinois. Judah P. Benjamin, Davis’s Secretary of State, separates from Davis and eventually escapes to England.

May 4, 1865 – Richard Taylor, commanding CSA troops in Alabama, Mississippi and eastern Louisiana, surrenders to US Gen. Edward Canby at Citronelle, Alabama. Canby offers substantially the same terms as Grant offered Lee with the addition that Taylor is allowed to use the railways and ships to return his men to their homes.

May 5, 1865 – Connecticut ratifies the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery in the US.

May 8, 1865 – Gen Nathan B. Forest disbands his troops.

May 10, 1865 – Davis party is captured near Irwinville, Georgia. Gen. Samuel Jones surrenders his command at Tallahassee, Florida. William Clarke Quantrille is mortally wounded at Taylorsville, Kentucky. May 11, 1865 – Gen. M Jeff Thompson surrenders the remnants of his command at Chalk Bluff, Arkansas and is given the same terms as Grant gave Lee.

May 12-13, 1865 – US troops under Col. Theodore H Barrett capture the CSA camp at Palmetto Ranch on the Rio Grande, but are forced to abandon it that evening. On May 12, another skirmish ends with a Federal withdrawal. This is the last significant land battle of the war.

May 13, 1865 – The Confederate governors of Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana advise Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith to surrender. Others, including Jo Shelby, threaten to arrest Smith unless he continues the fight! On May 26, 1865 Smith’s army surrenders and gets same terms as Grant gave Lee.


Last changed: 06/28/11

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