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Volume 36, No. 10 – October 2023

The President’s Message:

There will be no meeting in October, but there will be a meeting on Wednesday, November 8th.  The program will be, Incompetent Civil War Generals.  After the presentation we will ask the members to vote on the absolute worse general.  Will everyone be in agreement?

Patrick Falci suggested that I watch a 1930 movie called Big Trail.  The Library of Congress called this movie “Culturally, historically …aesthetically significant.”  A large caravan of settlers is trying to drive the Oregon Trail which was used from 1839 to 1869.  The film employed 93 actors, 725 native Americans from five different tribes, 185 covered wagons, 1800 cows, 1400 horses, 500 buffalos, 700 chickens, pigs, and dogs.  The film was shot in seven states from April 20th to August 20th.  This crossing allowed a realistic grime and grittiness so relevant in the picture.

After seeing the picture, I felt that it gave a good representation of how Civil War soldiers had to move people, injured soldiers, weapons, food, and other supplies from one locale to another.  This film demonstrates the difficulty and logistics of moving men, animals, and materials.

Upcoming Speakers: January - Robert Macomber, February – TBA, March - Patrick Falci, April - Adam Katz

Gerridine LaRovere


September 13, 2023 Program:

The presentation by Gerridine LaRovere and Janell Bloodworth was a series of vignettes centered around Civil War personalities.  The first one involved Dan Bryant and Dan Emmett.  When the Southern states left the Union in 1860 and 1861 a song went with them.  Dixie soon became the song of the South.  And the South became Dixie. 

In the spring of 1859 Dan Bryant needed a new number for his minstrel company playing at Mechanics Hall on Broadway.  He ordered Dan Emmett, a star performer, to write a new “walk-around” or “hurrah” song.  Emmett was already popular for songs as Old Dan Tucker, Turkey in the Straw, and The Blue Tail Fly.  Thus, it came about that Dixie, the most Southern of all songs, was written on a rainy Sunday in New York City for a Yankee minstrel show.

The song was introduced by Bryant’s troupe on April 5, 1859.  It was a popular number in the show, but its author-composer thought so little of it that he did not publish and copyright it until the next year.  This will come back to cause trouble later.  The popularity of Dixie’s Land (as the song was first known) spread despite Emmett’s low estimate of it.  In 1860, it was fitted with new words and used as a campaign song for Abraham Lincoln.

In the winter of 1861, Dixie was heard by thousands of Confederate volunteers.  It spread like wildfire.  Dixie was played at Jefferson Davis’s inauguration.  Mrs. Robert E. Lee requested her husband to get a copy of the music in July 1861, but the General had to write her saying that a copy could not be found anywhere in Richmond.  The booksellers say Dixie is not to be found in Virginia.

As obscure as the origin of the tune is the origin of the word Dixie.  In replying to a reader of Gone With the Wind in Germany, Margret Mitchell wrote on June 1, 1939: …“the origin of Dixie is supported by people in the deep South around New Orleans where the French population predominated.  Before the United States purchased that part of the country the currency was naturally printed in French and the ten-dollar bills were stamped in large letters upon the back ‘DIX’ meaning ten.  The bills were known to the non-French inhabitants as ‘dixies.’  It is alleged that this name spread throughout the south and that is how our section received its title.”


Margret Mitchell knew her history well.  Janelle contributed this part in the presentation with a bit about Ms. Mitchell.  She was born in 1900 into a wealthy and politically prominent family.  As she was growing up, she knew many Civil War veterans and their families.  She had seen many of the sites connected with the war. 

In May 1926 she was recovering at home from an ankle injury.  Her husband was growing weary of lugging armloads of books home from the library to keep his wife's mind occupied while she hobbled around the house; he emphatically suggested that she write her own book instead:  "For God's sake, Peggy, can't you write a book instead of reading thousands of them?"  To aid her in her literary endeavors, she got a Remington Portable No. 3 typewriter.  For the next three years Mitchell worked exclusively on writing a Civil War-era novel whose heroine was named Pansy O'Hara (prior to Gone With the Wind's publication Pansy was changed to Scarlett).

The next vignette is about Irene Triplett and the story of Confederate pensions.  Irene was the daughter of a Civil War veteran who collected her father’s military pension.  Her brother and she each received $73.13 per month.  If there is no surviving spouse, the children are entitled to the pension.  It is interesting for a number of reasons.  This was a Union pension paid to a man who was once a Confederate soldier.

Irene’s father was Moses Triplett who was born in 1846 in North Carolina.  When he was 16 he enlisted in the infantry of the Confederate army.  After marching to Gettysburg, he fell ill and was sent to a Confederate hospital in Danville, Virginia.  He was accounted for until June 26, 1863 when he left the hospital and was listed as a deserter.  Triplett enlisted in the Union army and was discharged in August, 1865.  During his time of service, he carried out a campaign of sabotage against Confederate targets.

After the war he settled in Elk Creek, NC on a 40-acre farm.  Local folks knew him as “Uncle Moses” and said he was a remarkable character; others called him downright ornery.  In 1913, at age 67, he went to the Rock Spring Baptist Church in Darby and said he was ready to be baptized.  In 1924, at age 78, he married his second wife Elinda Hall, after the passing of his first wife.  Miss Hall was 28.  They had five children, but only two survived.  Triplett fathered Irene at age 83 and a son Everette, at age 87.  Moses died in 1938 after returning home from the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.House

The house and 40 acres were left to his wife and children.  They faced tough times with little money.  Irene had to find some comfort and she did.  She said, “I dipped snuff in school and chewed tobacco.”  She was hooked on tobacco by the first grade.  In her old age Civil War enthusiasts would bring her tobacco and Dr. Pepper.  Elinda lost the farm and were forced to live in the Wilkes County Home or as it was known then as the poor house in the 1940s.  Elinda died in 1996 and Everette in 1996.  Irene became the last recipient of a Civil War pension.  She died on May 31, 2020.

Unlike the US pension program run by the federal government, the states of the Confederacy had to fund their own payments.  Each state that did so had different rules and these rules changed over time.  Gerridine gave a brief summary of some of these states’ programs.  In 1867 Alabama began granting pensions to Confederate veterans who had lost arms or legs.  In 1886 the State began granting pensions to veterans' widows. In 1891 the law was amended to grant pensions to indigent veterans or their widows.

In 1885 Florida began granting pensions to Confederate veterans. In 1889 the State began granting pensions to their widows.  In 1870 Georgia began granting pensions to soldiers with artificial limbs.  In 1879 the State began granting pensions to other disabled Confederate veterans or their widows who then resided in Georgia. By 1894 eligible disabilities had been expanded to include old age and poverty. 

Although Kentucky never actually seceded, in 1912, Kentucky began granting pensions to Confederate veterans or their widows.  The records are on microfilm.  In 1898 Louisiana began granting pensions to indigent Confederate veterans or their widows.  In 1888 Mississippi likewise began granting pensions to indigent Confederate veterans or their widows.

Like Kentucky, Missouri never seceded but in 1911 began granting pensions to indigent Confederate veterans only; none were granted to widows.  Missouri also had a home for disabled Confederate veterans.  In 1867 North Carolina began granting pensions to Confederate veterans who were blinded or lost an arm or leg during their service.  In 1885 the State began granting pensions to all other disabled indigent Confederate veterans or widows.

In 1915 Oklahoma, not even a state during the Civil War, began granting pensions to Confederate veterans or their widows.  A state law enacted in South Carolina on December 24, 1887, permitted financially needy Confederate veterans and widows to apply for a pension; however, few applications survive from the 1888-1918 era.  Beginning in 1889, the SC Comptroller began publishing lists of such veterans receiving pensions in his Annual Report.  From 1919 to 1925, South Carolina granted pensions to Confederate veterans and widows regardless of financial need.

In 1891 Tennessee, another boarder state, began granting pensions to indigent Confederate veterans.  In 1905 the State began granting pensions to their widows.  In 1881 Texas set aside 1,280 acres for disabled Confederate veterans.  In 1889 the State began granting pensions to indigent Confederate veterans and their widows.  Muster rolls of State militia in Confederate service are also available. 

In 1888 Virginia began granting pensions to Confederate veterans or their widows.  There is a collection of over 2,800 applications of Confederate veterans who were admitted to the R.E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers' Home in Richmond, a benevolent society that operated from 1883 to 1941.

Gerridine concluded the program with brief descriptions of five veterans.  First was the renowned natural scientist, John Wesley Powell.  He was wounded at Shiloh as battery commander of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery.  Although he lost an arm in that engagement he served until the end of the war.  He became a national hero for his exploration of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. 

Next up was George Westinghouse whose patents include the air brakes on railroad trains.  He is why the power grids use alternating current.  He was first an enlistee in the 16th NY Cavalry and then an engineer on the gunboat USS Muscoota.

Our third story was John Alexander Logan was an American soldier and politician.  As U.S. Representative Logan fought at Bull Run as an unattached volunteer in a Michigan regiment.  He then returned to Washington where, before he resigned his congressional seat on April 2, 1862, he entered the Union Army as Colonel of the 31st IL Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  He was an advocate for veterans’ rights and public education.  Logan is known as the creator of Memorial Day.

Ambrose G. Bierce was an American short story writer, journalist, poet, and American Civil War veteran.  As an officer in the 9th IN Volunteer Infantry, he participated in 23 battles including Shiloh, Corinth, Stone’s River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Nashville, and Franklin.  In June 1864, Bierce sustained a traumatic brain injury at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and spent the rest of the summer on furlough, returning to active duty in September.  He was discharged from the army in January 1865.

The fifth tale was of Sidney Lanier who was an American musician, poet, and author.  He served in the Confederate States Army as a private, worked on a blockade-running ship which was captured and Lanier was imprisoned (resulting in his catching tuberculosis), taught, worked at a hotel where he gave musical performances, was a church organist, and worked as a lawyer.


Last changed: 10/04/23