Vol. 23 No. 7 - July 2010
Upcoming Program: Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Dr. George Nimberg will do a “show and tell” about his incredible miniature Civil War military figures. His collection includes military miniatures from many other eras – Revolutionary War, Napoleonic Wars, World War I, etc. Your editor has had the privilege of a guided tour through George’s hundreds of miniatures, all meticulously painted by him! George will bring a selection of his models to the meeting. At the right is a sample of a model Confederate soldier. We can look forward to a interesting peek into a “small world!”
June 8, 2010 Assembly, President’s Message
On behalf of the members of the Round Table I would like to extend our deepest condolences to the friends and families of Elaine Wolling Ecker and Lawrence Star who recently passed away. Elaine was a long time member of the Round Table and held the office of secretary for many years. The programs that she presented were interesting and well-researched. Her diligence and service were greatly appreciated. Lawrence was a member of the Round Table for several years. His assistance with the Program Committee was invaluable.
Gerridine LaRovere, President
June 8, 2010 Program
Janell Bloodworth gave us a well-rounded and well-received portrait of Clara Barton, “the Angel of the Battlefield.” Clarissa “Clara” Barton (December 25, 1821 - April 12, 1912), spent her childhood in North Oxford, Massachusetts, one of five children of a well-to-do family. She spent the pre-war years as a school teacher, in fact founding a free public school in Bordenstown, New Jersey. When the Civil War broke out she was a 39-year old spinster, one of four women working in the U. S. Patent Office. After the war started, regiments poured into Washington, D. C. Clara wanted desperately to enlist in the army but knew it was impossible because she was a woman. Some women masqueraded as men to enlist, but she would not do that because she had been raised as a “proper lady.”
By June 1861, there were 75,000 Union troops in Washington. Seeing them short of rations, Clara and her friends bought cooked food and distributed it. After the First Battle of Bull Run, Clara advertised in Worcester, Massachusetts, for donations to buy supplies. With the help of the patriotic ladies of Massachusetts she filled boxes with food, wine and medical supplies. The boxes filled her room and she had to rent a warehouse. A powerful friend in the government, Senator Henry Wilson, of Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs throughout the Civil War, recognized the value of Clara and her services, and she obtained a “general pass” from U. S. Surgeon General William Hammond, to travel with the army ambulances. For the next three years, she traveled throughout Virginia and South Carolina.
On September 17, 1862, at the Battle of Antietam, Clara saw war close up. She was on the battlefield in a barn filled with wounded soldiers and then in a farmhouse in which surgeons operated with frantic speed on the injured. The linen bandages she brought replaced the corn leaves that the surgeons had been forced to use to bandage raw wounds.
During the war, Clara was not always in the best of health. After the Battle of Antietam, she fell ill with typhoid fever and was taken to Washington, D. C., where she languished for days in her room. Upon recovering, she returned to Antietam where the Army of the Potomac was still encamped.
The bloodiest battle Clara was involved in was the Battle of Fredericksburg, in December 1862. Clara was the only female nurse in action during this battle. At one point she had to care for a soldier shot in the face. He was Nathan J. Rice, the sexton of her Universalist Church in North Oxford!
On March 30, 1863, Clara and her brother, David, an assistant army quartermaster, went to Hilton Head, South Carolina, where David would be stationed and where Secretary of War Edwin Stanton had designated Clara to be the “superintendent of nurses” under Gen. Benjamin Butler.
Although Clara never married, she met the love of her life on Hilton Head Island, Lt. Col. John J. Elwell, chief quartermaster of the Department of the South. He was both a doctor and an attorney. Unfortunately, he was married, with a wife and children back in Cleveland, Ohio. When Elwell was bedridden with a broken leg and later when he came down with yellow fever, Clara took good care of him. Although they had profound feelings of love for each other, Clara made no effort to win him from his wife and he did not offer to leave her for Clara.
In May 1864, the Battle of the Wilderness produced horrendous numbers of dead, wounded and missing. The Union wounded were taken to Fredericksburg, where 30 to 40 surgeons tried to take care of 7,000 to 8,000 casualties. There were dire shortages of everything. Clara went to Fredericksburg and witnessed the worst suffering she had ever seen. Fourteen thousand wounded were packed into a town whose prewar population was a little more than 5,000!
Clara then went to Camp Parole, near Annapolis, Maryland, where Union soldiers paroled by the Confederates were housed before going home. She began a program to search for missing Union prisoners, interviewing the paroled prisoners and if possible sending word of their loved ones to their families. It took the U. S. Army a month to produce a tent for her. When Camp Parole was closed and the released prisoners were sent home, Clara decided not to confine her labors to missing prisoners, but to include all missing Union soldiers.
After the war ended, President Johnson, in office only six weeks after President Lincoln’s assassination, authorized the Government Printing Office to publish her roles of missing soldiers’ names. She not only led this effort, she also assisted war-torn families and identified and marked thousands of graves. For example, in July 1865, Clara went to the former Confederate prisoner of war camp at Andersonville, Georgia, where she and others helped identify over 12,000 Union dead. She later penned a memorable description of Andersonville: “Surely this was not the gate of hell, but hell itself.”
In 1866, Clara took to the lecture circuit, reliving her war experiences in front of rapt audiences. She was a gifted speaker and received the same fee as Ralph Waldo Emerson, $75 to $100 a lecture! At the podium, Clara proclaimed her support for “perfectly equal rights” for women, who during the war had been nurses, teachers, government workers, spies, had managed the farms and local enterprises in the absence of their men, and had even served as soldiers. During the 1860's the number of female wage earners rose by 60%
In 1868, Clara suffered a breakdown due to overwork and went to Switzerland to recuperate. There she became aware of the International Red Cross, established in 1864. The U. S. had refused to participate because it required a treaty, in violation of the Monroe Doctrine. Clara returned to the U. S. and tirelessly campaigned for the foundation of the Red Cross in the U. S. Her efforts led to the founding of the American Association of the Red Cross in 1881, with her as the first President!
She refused government money, fearing political control, and relied on private donations of funds, food, medical supplies, clothing and tools. The American Red Cross proved its worth almost immediately, helping victims of a forest fire in Michigan and a hurricane on the East Coast. Clara, the strong-willed determined lady that she was, continued to do good work – at the age of 77, she rode a mule wagon during the Spanish-American War in Cuba (1898), handing out various provisions and providing medical care. As time went on, however, she proved to be a better organizer than a manager and in 1904, with feelings of bitterness, she resigned as President.
She retired to Glen Echo, Maryland, where she died April 10, 1912.
At the end of Janell’s eloquent and well-received presentation, she answered many questions.
The following article from the FAU Libraries Home Page was sent in by member Judge Ralph Yachnin:
“The Only Jewish Military Cemetery Outside of Israel is in Richmond, Virginia ,” by Seymour “Sy” Brody.
The Hebrew Confederate Cemetery, located in Richmond, Virginia, is the only Jewish military cemetery in the world outside of Israel. It was created by the anti-Semitism of the two Confederate military cemeteries, in Spotsylvania Court House and Fredericksburg. They refused to bury the Jewish Confederate soldiers killed in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and The Wilderness. They didn’t want “Jewish boys” in their cemeteries. They brought them to the Hebrew Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. They were buried in five rows, with six bodies in a row, in a self-contained hallowed area within the larger Hebrew Cemetery.
Those buried came from Mississippi, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana. Five soldiers from the Richmond area were buried in their families’ lots elsewhere in the cemetery.
In 1866, The Hebrew Ladies Memorial Association was formed to take care of these graves. They raised money to pay for individual grave markers for the soldiers; they sponsored memorial services; and they commissioned an elaborate ornamental iron fence to surround the hallowed grave area. Major William B. Meyer designed the iron railing fence that enclosed the thirty graves. This fence is considered a work of art. The posts of the fence are furled Confederate flags with stacked muskets, with a flat Confederate soldier's cap on top of it. The railings between the posts are crossed swords and sabers hung with wreaths of laurel. The design is emblematic of the three branches of the Confederate fighting forces: muskets for the infantry and the swords and sabers for the artillery and cavalry. In the 1930s, care of this area was transferred first to the Hebrew Cemetery Company and then to Congregation Beth Ahabah. The tombstones were removed because of their deterioration and worn away engraving and were replaced with a large granite stone to which a bronze plaque with the names of all the soldiers buried was attached.
When Henry Gintzberger was killed in the Battle of Cold Harbor, he was misidentified and buried under the name of Gersberg. A hundred years later, local historians trying to locate his grave, found it in the Hebrew Confederate Cemetery. On October 20, 1963, a special memorial program was held at the cemetery and his birth name was restored with a plaque attached underneath the other one.
Many of the local Jewish Confederate soldiers killed are not in this military cemetery as they were buried in their family plots at the Hebrew Cemetery. One of these soldiers was Isaac Levy of Richmond, Virginia. He was 21 years old when he was killed in the trenches near Petersburg on August 21, 1864. He was an orthodox Jew, who wrote his sister that he and other Jewish Confederate soldiers managed to have a Passover Seder with Kosher food.
T. N. Waul, who commanded a Confederate Legion said, “Jewish soldiers were brave, orderly, well–disciplined and in no respect inferior to the gallant body in which they formed a prominent part. Their behavior in the field was exemplary and no Jew was ever before a court-martial. I never heard of any Jewish soldier shirking or failing to answer any call of duty and danger.”
In the Civil War, Jews responded to the call of duty whether it was for the North or the South. The Confederate Hebrew Cemetery honors the great sacrifices that Jews have made in defending their country.
Your editor found the following book review to be fascinating but may not be ready for all 673 pages! Deliver Us From Evil, by Lacy K. Ford (Oxford University Press), reviewed by Ira Berlin, Distinguished University Professor of the University of Maryland, in The New York Times Book Review Section, September 20, 2009:
“One of the great lessons of 20th century history is that international conflicts can best be understood as a product of politics within nation states or communities. . . .That lesson seems to be useful as well in understanding the conflict between free and slave states that eventually exploded into the American Civil War. For Lacy K. Ford, the division between the states of the upper South (Virginia along with the border slave states) and those of the lower South (South Carolina and the cotton-producing states to its south and west) best explains how white Southerners “understood their position with regard to slavery, and how they saw themselves as citizens of the United States right down to secession and Civil War.”
Ford, a professor of history at the University of South Carolina, . . . traces the division back to the period between the founding of the Republic in 1789 and the beginning of the abolitionist assault on slavery in the 1830s. In extraordinarily close detail, he demonstrates how white slave-owning Southerners in two regions followed sharply different trajectories in addressing the slavery question, and he argues that the development of a Southern nationality and its controversy with the North must be understood from the inside out rather than the outside in.
From the first years of the 19th century and perhaps earlier, slaveholders in the upper South searched for ways to fulfill the promise of the American Revolution by putting slavery on a slow road to extinction. Slavery, in their view, was a dangerous, morally indefensible, unrepublican and economically retrograde institution. But they never seemed to find the will to act. As Northern critics observed, that failure called into question their reputed commitment to emancipation, which Ford calls "a wish and not a plan, a preference but not a priority." Eventually, all but a few surrendered any emancipatory pretense. Instead, they embraced a policy of "whitening" that would free the region of both slavery and black people, free as well as slave, by prohibiting the importation of slaves, selling other slaves farther south, encouraging manumission and deporting ("colonizing") freed slaves to Africa or elsewhere beyond the borders of the United States.
Ford painstakingly unravels the divergent perspectives on slavery, making "Deliver Us From Evil" required for anyone interested in the development of Southern society. Disputes over the efficacy of gradual emancipation, the nature of the slave trade, the purpose of manumission and colonization, and appropriate defense of slavery roiled white Southerners across the region, so much so that Ford concludes that the only thing they could agree upon was opposition to abolition.
Differences over the question of colonization were a case in point. Many upper South slaveholders viewed it as a mechanism to free their region from slavery. Lower South slave owners saw it only as a means to rid themselves of free blacks and strengthen the institution of slavery. The tension grew over time, until slaveholders in the lower South considered upper South colonizationists to be crypto-abolitionists, while upper South colonizationists saw the lower South's intransigence as a more serious obstacle to change than the Northern opponents of slavery.
But such tensions manifested themselves most fully over how best to control slaves, a particularly pressing matter in the lower South as its slave population swelled to a majority in many places. Traditionally, Southern slaveholders, like slave masters the world over, believed that slave management rested on coercion and that only constant vigilance, terror and intimidation could keep slaves under control. But in the first years of the 19th century, Ford says, an "insurgent ideology," which held that masters should control their slaves by incorporating them into their households, challenged the conventional wisdom. The master would become less a monarch than a stern but benevolent father, and slaves less dumb beasts than obedient children.
In dismissing the stale notions that slaveholder paternalism developed from the ancient habit of noblesse oblige or from the peculiar conditions of Southern slavery, Ford makes his most important contribution to our understanding of the development of Southern society. He demonstrates that paternalism was made, not born, the product of an intense, if often bewildering debate among the slaveholders, themselves.
While the shift toward paternalism followed different paths in the upper and lower South, it was the clergy that took the lead in both areas, raising questions about how much independence to allow black Christians and whether they should be taught to read (in order to have access to the Bible). The angry contest between traditionalists who warned against paternalist coddling and reformers protesting the barbarism and futility of the old regime drove Southern politics for the first three decades of the century. But by the time the abolitionists began their assault on slavery, the paternalist ideology was in place. Even Calhoun defended the slave plantation as a community.
The problem, however, was that paternalism was a fiction. Slaves understood that the plantation was no community and the master no father; the actions of the slaveholders revealed that they did as well. When periodic insurrections and insurrection scares made it clear that paternalism did not create "hard-working, loyal and well-behaved" slaves, masters returned to the fist, the lash and the noose. All of which suggests that whatever the regional differences were among slaveholders, the ownership of slaves did in fact pull them together. Slaveholders in the upper and lower South may have shared only their opposition to abolition, but that was enough.
In peering into the internal politics of Southern society, "Deliver Us From Evil" tells us a great deal about the developments that would eventually lead slaveholders, first in the lower South and then in the upper South, to break from the North. But the ownership of property-in-man upon which Southern society rested remains the place to start any such discussion.”
Last changed: 08/04/10