“Let Them Go To the Devil”: Desertion Among USCTs

Continuing with the theme of desertion [and here] from the past week here is a fascinating passage from Heny McNeal Turner, who served as an army chaplain for the United States Colored Troops. The following excerpt was written at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia on September  18, 1864 and appeared in The Christian Recorder a week later. Continue reading

 

H.K. Edgerton Addresses His White “Babies” In Tennessee

This address by H.K. Edgerton took place this past weekend in Elizabethton, Tennessee during a memorial service for “black Confederate” Robert Stover. The event was organized by the  Lt. Robert J. Tipton, Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp. H.K. is still going strong and will no doubt always have an audience among his white”babies.”

[Uploaded to YouTube on June 8, 2014]

 

There Are No Monuments To Deserters on Civil War Battlefields

Regardless of the assumptions and background knowledge that we bring, the presence of monuments on our Civil War battlefields may be one of the greatest obstacles to understanding the full range of soldier experiences. The monuments allow us to focus in on the most heroic stories and themes, which no doubt reinforces feelings of national pride and an understanding of what kind of behavior is expected. Such a focus, however, comes at the price of ignoring moments when soldiers fall short of what is expected of them in the heat of battle. Normally, we can safely ignore such moments, but it’s not so easy when one is thrust on us as is the case of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who reportedly abandoned his station in Afghanistan and spent five years as a Taliban Prisoner of War. Continue reading

 

“Grant Can Not Continue as He Has Been Doing Much Longer”

On this day 150 years ago Captain John Christopher Winsmith of the 1st South Carolina Infantry penned the following letter to his mother back in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It reflects a good deal of pessimism about the state of the Union army, Grant’s leadership, and morale on the Northern home front. Winsmith, like many Confederates at this time, continued to believe that victory was possible through the summer of 1864 if each man performed his duty. Interesting to note that Winsmith shares that the men in his unit were “well supplied with rations” at this late stage in the war in contrast with the popular image of starving Confederates. After the loss of Winsmith’s body servant, Spencer, in the summer of 1862 he was replaced by Miles, who remained with him until the end of his military career in October 1864. Continue reading

 

Does a Confederate Flag Belong in a House of Worship?

The Confederate flag is back in the news this past week as Charleston County Councilman, Henry Darby, called for the removal of the flag from the chapel at The Citadel. It is unclear whether the recent controversy surrounding the display of the flag at W&L’s Lee Chapel had any influence on Darby’s decision. Continue reading