Vol. 24 No.11 - November 2011
Volume 24, No. 11
Wednesday, November 9, 2011 Assembly
December 14 will be our annual holiday party. You will be contacted to bring goodies. Our annual speaker will be best-selling author, Robert Macomber, who will be making his seventh annual visit. His talks are always well-received.
Prof. Stephen D. Engle will discuss "Abraham Lincoln's Crisis of Federalism." The talk will explore the relationship between Lincoln and the Northern governors in 1862 and the role the governors played in prodding the president to declare emancipation. Prof. Engle joined the faculty of Florida Atlantic University in 1999, became a full professor in 2000 and chaired the FAU History Department 2002-2007. He has published many works, most recently, "All the President’s Statesmen: Abraham Lincoln, Union Governors, and the Civil War," a book length manuscript in progress; co-edited "Powder, Lead, and Cold Steel: The Civil War Letters of John H. Black"; co-authored "The American Civil War: This Mighty Scourge of War" (2003); "Struggle for the Heartland: The Campaigns From Fort Henry to Corinth" (2001 History Book Club Selection); "The American Civil War in the West, 1861-1863" (2001); "Don Carlos Buell: Most Promising of All" (1999); "Yankee Dutchman: The Life of Franz Sigel" (1993, Reprinted and re-issued by Louisiana State University Press, 1999). We can expect a rousing and insightful lecture.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011 Assembly
Ms Yansura began by saying that her interest in history began in her childhood – when her parents, both history buffs, would take their two daughters on tours of historical markers and monuments. Ms Yansura then related that her 85-year old mother, Juanita Tudor DeFord Lowrey, often says: "My father fought in the Civil War." Those hearing her make this simple statement of fact almost always try to correct what they believe must be a mistake. "Your grandfather or great-grandfather, you mean," they say. No. Ms Yansura states: "My mother’s father, Hugh Tudor, was 78 years old when she was born, making her perhaps the last surviving child of a Civil War veteran ." Hugh fought for the Union side in the American Civil War -- and Ms Yansura's mother has a tintype of him in uniform and his wartime diaries to prove it. Hugh Tudor was a private in the 25th Regiment of the Iowa Voluntary Infantry in the American Civil War from February 26,1864 until he was discharged on August 3, 1865.
Hugh’s story was recently featured in the BBC documentary, "Star Spangled Dragon." Ms Yansura and her mother collaborated on a "blog" that appeared the BBC’s web-site. Ms Yansura’s talk reflects this blog and goes beyond it. Hugh’s father, David Tudor, was born in 1815 and Hugh’s mother, Mary Owens Tudor, was born in 1824. They were married on May 9, 1842 at Talywern Chapel, Penegoes near Machynlleth in the county of Montgomery, Wales. Mary's father is listed as John Owens of Syberwyn farm and David's as Hugh Tudor of Graiglan Ddu. Hugh Tudor, was a first generation American whose parents had emigrated from Wales, first to Cincinnati and then to Louis County, Iowa, where Hugh was born on September 23, 1847.
In February 1864, although he was only 16 years old, he enlisted in the United States Army. The minimum age for enlistment was 18, but, because he promised his mother that he would never tell a lie, he wrote the number 18 on a piece of paper and put it in his shoe. Therefore, when he was asked if he was "over 18" he could tell the truth! On February 27, 1864, he was sworn in as a Private in Company F, 25th Regiment, Iowa Infantry. Hugh never rose above the rank of private. Imagine his mother’s feelings as she bade her son good-bye, fearing she might never see him again. His regiment went by train and foot to Davenport, Iowa, then Chicago, Illinois, then down into Kentucky and Tennessee. Many days he marched 15 miles. He twice contracted measles.
At best, Hugh’s parents could read and write but Hugh probably had no more than an 8th grade education. However, he kept a diary in a small composition book that fitted into his shirt pocket, which is still in the family. Because he was a farm boy, Hugh's diary entries concentrated on the weather, crops and the lay of the land. Hugh recorded from whom he received mail and to whom he wrote.
He showed early flashes of the financial acumen he displayed in later life by being paid to write letters for his illiterate fellow soldiers (many from neighboring families with whom he served throughout his term of enlistment), and to wash their clothes. One day he wrote in his diary that he had washed 37 shirts and 14 drawers. One entry was marked "killed." Ms Yansura guessed he didn't get paid for that job! He also told how much he paid for special foods such as "ginger bread, 10 [cents], candy, 5 and can of peaches,10." At times the soldiers were forced to forage food -- no doubt from the cellars and gardens of southern farms.
He suffered bouts of dysentery, had measles along the way, but was never wounded. He enjoyed sending small gifts and receiving them from his younger sisters. His father often sent paper and stamps. He used that paper and stamps to write to someone special back home, Elizabeth Watkins.
On Sunday, June 3, 1864, Hugh wrote that his regiment "had chased the Rebs around Kennesaw Mountain," Georgia, on General Sherman’s route to Atlanta. On June 28, 1864, Hugh participated in the Battle of Ezra Church, which turned out to be a lopsided Union victory – one of the most one-sided in the Civil War – resulting from a disjointed series of Confederate attacks ordered by the new Confederate commander, John Bell Hood, replacing Joe Johnston. This battle was the last of Hood’s "grand offensives" during which he lost nearly a third of his army in 10 days. Hugh’s diary records that "the Rebs charged us 7 times and were repulsed every time with heavy losses," estimated to be 4,500 casualties, dead, wounded and captured.
This was the only pitched battle in which Hugh participated. He was on sick call and therefore did not join the "March to the Sea". On March 23, 1865, he writes that his regiment was reviewed by General Sherman. A check of General Sherman's personal letters to his wife and son on the same date also tells of reviewing the troops the same day. Ms Yansura segued into a comparison of Hugh’s diary entries and General Sherman’s letters:
On April 9, 1865, Hugh was near Raleigh, North Carolina when he wrote, "Tomorrow we move on Johnston no matter where he goes." His April 18, 1865 entry records that the Rebels came into our lines under a white flag of truce and there was a long meeting with Gen. Sherman. Hugh did not hear of Lincoln’s death until several days after it occurred, but he recorded a false rumor that his general Sherman had been killed. Then, on April 20, 1865, Hugh noted "Great shouting – Jeff Davis has been captured." How did Hugh celebrate? He borrowed a tub and washed shirts for 25 cents, "kittles" for 15 cents. On April 30, Hugh records that the Union army shot off 36 cannon each hour! He records proudly that he marched with the Army of the Potomac in the Grand Review in front of dignitaries at the U.S. Capitol on May 24, 1865. Hugh records that he was now regularly "drawing" whiskey, noting that the regulars were "all crazy."Although Company F was left behind initially, eventually it marched through Washington and Hugh saw the capital ("a nice large building") and the White House. On the way back to Iowa, Hugh records that he took his cousin to a "sporting house" and went swimming in the Ohio River. He contracted diarrhea. His Captain Nicholson tried to clean up the whorehouses, but was "stoned" by their customers for his pains!
After being "mustered out" of the Union Army on August 5, 1865 Hugh returned to the Welsh community where he married Elizabeth Watkins in Iowa City, Iowa in 1867. Hugh and Elizabeth Tudor settled in Dawn, Missouri. Joining the many Welsh families who had emigrated to this farming community in the 1860s and 1870s from Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Glamorgan. Hugh was a well-regarded member of the community, helping to establish the local Welsh Cemetery. He was also something of a local business entrepreneur selling lightning rods as he traveled the country as secretary of the local farmers' insurance company - while still operating his own 40 acre farm.
After 50 years of marriage, Elizabeth Watkins died at their home in 1917. But the proud Union soldier and Welshman still longed for children at the age 73. So, on September 22, 1920, Hugh married my grandmother, Mary Morgan, who was 'full Welsh' and from Dawn, and had known Hugh Tudor her whole life. She was 34, 39 years his junior. Ms Yansura’s aunt, HuDean, was born on September 16, 1924 and her mother was born on June 17,1926. In September 1928 he proudly showed off his young family at the National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) in Denver, Colorado. He died of heart failure at his home on November 30, 1928.
John Brown’s letters to his wife and children
John Brown was a radical abolitionist who believed in the violent overthrow of the slavery system. During the Bleeding Kansas conflicts, Brown and his sons led attacks on pro-slavery residents. Justifying his actions as the will of God, Brown soon became a hero in the eyes of Northern extremists and was quick to capitalize on his growing reputation. By early 1858, he had succeeded in enlisting a small "army" of insurrectionists whose mission was to foment rebellion among the slaves.
In 1859, Brown and 21 of his followers attacked and occupied the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry. Their goal was to capture supplies and use them to arm a slave rebellion. Brown was captured during the raid and later hanged, but not before becoming an anti-slavery icon. John Brown wrote six letters in the month before he was hanged on December 2, 1859. His letters were circulated throughout the North and became manifestos of the abolitionist movement. We do not have room to print all six letters here so your editor has selected what he thinks are the most pertinent parts:
First letter dated October 31, 1859
My dear Wife, and Children Every one, -- I suppose you have learned before this by the newspapers that two weeks ago today we were fighting for our lives at Harpers Ferry: that during the fight Watson was mortally wounded; Oliver killed, Wm Thompson killed, & Dauphin slightly wounded. That on the following day I was taken prisoner immediately after which I received several Sabre cuts in my head; & Bayonet stabs in my body... I have since been tried, & found guilty of treason, &c; and of murder in the first degree. I have not yet received my sentence...
Under all these terrible calamities; I feel quite cheerful in the assurance that God reigns; & will overrule all for his glory; & the best possible good. I feel no con[s]ciou[s]ness of guilt in the matter; or even mortification on account of my imprisonment; & irons; & I feel perfectly assured that very soon no member of my family will feel any possible disposition to "blush on my account." Already dear friends at a distance with kindest sympathy are cheering me with the assurance that posterity at least: will do me justice. . . "Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them." I am in charge of a jailor like the one who took charge of "Paul & Silas;" & you may rest assured that both kind hearts and kind faces are more or less about me: whilst thousands are thirsting for my blood. "These light allocations which are but for a moment shall work out for us a far more exceeding & eternal weight of glory."... My wounds are doing well. Copy this & send it to your sorrow stricken brothers,... to comfort them... Your Affectionate Husband & Father. John Brown
Nov. 3d 1859 – P.S. Yesterday Nov[ember] 2d I was sentenced to be hanged on 2 Decem[ber] next. Do not grieve on my account. I am still quite cheerful... God bless you all Your Ever J Brown
Letter dated November 8, 1859
Dear Wife and Children, Every One, -- I will begin by saying that I have in some degree recovered from my wounds, but that I am quite weak in my back and sore about my left kidney. My appetite has been quite good for most of the time since I was hurt. I am supplied with almost everything I could desire to make me comfortable, and the little I do lack (some articles of clothing which I lost) I may perhaps soon get again. I am, besides, quite cheerful, having (as I trust) "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding," to "rule in my heart," and the testimony (in some degree) of a good conscience that I have not lived altogether in vain. I can trust God with both the time and the manner of my death, believing, as I now do, that for me at this time to seal my testimony for God and humanity with my blood will do vastly more toward advancing the cause I have earnestly endeavored to promote, than all I have done in my life before...
Last letter dated November 30, 1859
My Dearly Beloved Wife, Sons and Daughters, Everyone--As I now begin what is probably the last letter I shall ever write to any of you, . . . . I am waiting the hour of my public murder with great composure of mind and cheerfulness, feeling the strong assurance that in no other possible way could I be used to so much advantage to the cause of good and of humanity, and that nothing that either I or all my family have sacrificed or suffered will be lost. The reflection that a wise and merciful, as well as just and Holy God, rules not only the affairs of this world, but of all worlds, is a rock to set our feet upon under all circumstances--even those more severely trying ones into which our own feelings and wrongs have placed us.
I have now no doubt but that our seeming disaster will ultimately result in the most glorious success; so, my dear shattered and broken family, be of good cheer,... Do not feel ashamed on my account, nor for one moment despair of the cause or grow weary of well doing. I bless God I never felt stronger confidence in the certain and near approach of a bright morning and a glorious day than I have felt, and do now feel, since my confinement here. I am endeavoring to return, like a poor prodigal as I am, to my Father, against whom I have always sinned, in the hope that he may kindly and forgivingly meet me, though a very great way off.
I beseech you all to live in habitual contentment with moderate circumstances and gains of worldly store, and earnestly to teach this to your children and children’s children after you, by example as well as precept... Be sure to... love one another... John Brown writes to his children to abhor, with undying hatred also, that sum of all villainies, — slavery. And now, dearly beloved family, to God and the work of his grace I commend you all.
Your affectionate husband and father, John Brown.
Last changed: 11/03/11