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This is the archive for July 2006

Monday, July 31, 2006

I’ve been reading Ken Burger’s editorials for close to two decades and Sunday’s was perhaps his best. Although the Sports Editor for Charleston’s Post and Courier, he tackled a bigger issue, taking the Confederate Battle Flag off of state property.

I have previously posted on what the flag has cost the state of South Carolina, so you might want to read this first.

Time to take down that flag
Ken Burger – Charleston Post and Courier – July 30, 2006§ion=sports

There is a time and place for everything, and that time and place has come for the state of South Carolina.
After years of flying the Confederate flag in the face of the world to show everybody how defiant we are, it's time to reconcile and move on.

Why? Because it's going to continue to cost us money and a whole lot more. Our dignity.

Since the flag was removed from the Statehouse dome a few years back and placed on the lawn of the state capitol in a legislative compromise, the Palmetto State has been trying to ignore a tourism boycott initiated by the NAACP.

To be honest, the impact of the boycott has been minimal.

Except when it comes to the NCAA.

The rulers of college athletics have denied us lucrative college basketball regionals and other events as long as the flag flies. Most recently, the flag issue killed a proposal to bring a college bowl game to the Lowcountry.

Folks at The Citadel would someday like to host the I-AA football playoffs once Johnson Hagood Stadium is renovated. But that won't be possible because of the flag.

Now, in a new offensive, the NCAA says it might not allow state schools to host college baseball regionals or super regionals, which are almost annual events at powerhouse schools like South Carolina and Clemson.

Sooner or later, we are going to be forced to deal with the flag issue. Again.
Do we really have to drag this racist ankle-iron from the 19th century into the 21st century?

If you are in favor of the flag, as many people are, you're already so mad at me you're writing nasty letters and calling me a traitor.

But, truth is, I'm about as South Carolina as you get.

I was born and raised in Allendale, my mother's family has a tap root that runs deep in the Palmetto State, I wear Weejuns without socks, I know how to shag, I'm proud of my southern accent and I was raised to believe damnyankee is one word.

Instead of playing cowboys and Indians when we were little boys, we played Rebels and Yanks. Of course, the Rebels always won because nobody wanted to be a Yankee.

But even as the crow flies, that was a long, long time ago. I grew up in the segregated South and can tell you it wasn't such a pretty place to live.

I'm proud to be part of what South Carolina has become. And what we will become.
Even though we lost the Civil War, the South really did rise again. We literally rose from the ashes of ignorance, arrogance and prejudice to become one of the most desired destinations in the world.
If you don't believe it, ask your neighbors from Ohio how much they paid for their retirement condo.

Wrong reasons
Indeed, the past has been good to those of us in the present.

Our history drives the economic engine that is tourism and we all have an opportunity to enjoy the good life. The only thing holding us back is that flag and some of the people who think flying it somehow honors their ancestors.

Truth is, we fought that war for all the wrong reasons. Many think it was about pride, but it was really about money, an economy dependent on slave labor and a way of life that discriminated against poor whites as much as it did blacks.

Although we are still paying the price for that misguided romance, we have come a long way and will continue to become a better place if we do the right thing.

That is to furl the flag and put it in a museum where it belongs.

Those people who rally behind it are often the same people who want their favorite college coaches to go out and recruit the top athletes around the country. They also want the home team to host a regional or some other championship contest to get the competitive edge. Somehow, they don't see the paradox. Well, this is another war we're going to lose.

And like the first one, the outcome will make South Carolina a better place to call home.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Living in Charleston, SC there is always a wealth of Civil War news and events going on. Unfortunately most have nothing to do with the War itself and instead tend to be people trying to rewrite the war, be it the cause or ending.

Don’t get me wrong, I tend to bring my head up a couple of times a year. I love going to the Civil War show (think a Star Trek convention but instead of Trekkie nerds, you have Civil War nerds), I like going to one of the reenactments, mainly for the food and I head over to CSA galleries during their sales, hoping one day to find some union art that will take my fancy. Of course I can’t forget the Daniel Library Friends of The Citadel who put on a wonderful author lecture series each year, which always features a few Civil War authors.

The big thing in the Charleston area over the last few years (besides the NAACP boycott of SC due to the Confederate battle flag flying on state grounds) is the raising of the CSS Hunley. And there have been some crazy things happening as of late, so I thought I would start posting on them.

For those of you who are unaware of the Hunley, it has the distinction of being the first submarine to sink an enemy ship during war. It also liked to sink, a lot. Before sinking its ship, it sunk twice as it practiced – and then after sinking the USS Housatonic, the Hunley sunk again.

Fast forward to present day and author Clive Cussler goes exploring and finds the wreck, the state gathers some money and raises it and now it’s in a lab being poked and prodded for all of its secrets and getting refurbishing too. When the refurbishment is complete, it has too find a home and that has been a little tricky. There are three major cities in the Charleston area – Charleston, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant - and they are all fighting to be the home.

The leaders of each city have great points on why it belongs in their city.

The City of Charleston has the oldest museum in America and gets the most tourists in its downtown area, so it would make sense to put it there.

Mount Pleasant has Patriots Point, a floating Naval Museum, so it has the best experience with ships. Plus all the Navy historians already go there so the tourists that want to see the Hunley, are going to be in Mount Pleasant to begin with. As far as Civil War enthusiasts go, almost half of the tourists who go to Fort Sumter depart from that location.

North Charleston currently gets few tourists but is in the midst of redeveloping the property that was once the Charleston Navy Base from a blighted eye sore to a new community. It had partnered with Noisette, a private company to finance and do the actual work but there were a few bumps in the road. But guess what? North Charleston has the upper hand in landing the museum, why you ask? Simple, it is willing to put money and a lot of it to keep the Hunley in the city that it’s being refurbished in. So the city was announced as the winner but no formal document was signed.

Within the past week North Charleston has started to cut ties with Noisette and a divorce settlement is being hammered out. As the public makes its way through reading the lengthy document, a surprising factoid has appeared. North Charleston will still be given the land needed to build the museum but it will give Noisette the right to build condos and offices above and next to the museum.

Unfortunately, this could be a breaking point for North Charleston receiving the Hunley.
The Hunley Commission, the group charged with preserving the Hunley, does not like this idea at all and two have stated that they will not allow the Hunley to stay if the deal is not changed, city council members are now stating that they are getting a bum deal from Noisette (even though they originally said they agreed to the plan) and the Mayor of North Charleston is trying to calm everyone down.

I don’t know what is going to happen but will be watching it closely.

Why? Because it has better drama than anything on TV right now and I love watching politicians fight over the Civil War, especially when most know nothing about it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Growing up the son of a Navy man, ships and naval history were always a big thing in my family. My father also loved the story around the Battle of Hampton Roads where the two ironclads the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (still fondly remembered by me as the Merrimack) and would point out the painting of the battle at USNH – Beaufort every time we passed it.

So it was nice to read this article about Connecticut scientists spending some time at the site of the wreck of the USS Monitor and mapping the area. What is really cool is that you can view what is going on under water. You can view the schedule by going here and view what’s going on here.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

We sent the following to the editors on July 5th in responsed to their article on Samuel Jordan - as of today, it has not been published.

Good Evening,

We read Mr. James Buckley's article titled Civil War took arm of a Franklin Man (June 30, 2006) with interest. The three of us have been researching the 18 th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry for some combined 50 years, have run a website for the unit for 10 years, run a daily blog on the Civil War, wrote "The Civil War Research Guide" based upon our experiences, and more importantly, Donald is a descendant of Stephen Jordan, the soldier in question.

We would have been glad to have helped Mr. Buckley in this article if he had only asked. Because of the extensive research, we could have offered a biography written by Donald, pension and military records as well as family history. Instead it seems Mr. Buckley used standard resources that only scratched the surface and didn't dig any deeper to reach his conclusions.
Although the fight where Stephen lost his arm may have been deemed indecisive, that does not mean it was in vain as Mr. Buckly asserts. United States soldiers never fight in vain when they fight for our country, this as true today as it was in the Civil War. What might have happened if Mr. Jordan and the rest of the Union soldiers who were injured or killed had not fought? At that point, it could very well have been a Confederate victory – much worse than indecisive. In our eyes, the worst part of the battle is not the outcome between the two sides that bloody day so long ago but that the battlefield has been lost to the world, paved over by progress.

Because of our extensive research that we have collected, we could have also helped by providing a better conclusion to the article. Since we knew of Stephen's fiery temper, it is doubtful that he sat around in self pity as Mr. Buckley puts forward. Instead he could have told of how he got on with his life and started his own teamster company and later bought his family homestead and farmed, just like he did before he went to war.

But we weren't asked and couldn't provide anything until now, so we offer Mr. Jordan's biography as written by Donald and a picture of Stephen after the war. We will also ask that if any reader is a descendant of a soldier from the 18 th or has any information about the unit to contact us at

Tom Churchill
Steve McManus
Donald Thompson

Co-Authors – "The Civil War Research Guide"
18th Massachusetts online –
Touch the Elbow – Blogging the Civil War –
Biography on Samuel Harris Jordan (great-great-grandfather of Donald L. Thompson):

Born in Franklin, MA on October 14, 1845, he was the son of Alfred and Sarah L. (Pitcher) Jordan. He enlisted in the 45th Massachusetts Regiment of Volunteer Militia, "The Cadet Corps" on September 10, 1862, one month shy of his seventeenth birthday, for a nine month enlistment. He was assigned to Company C and was mustered at Camp Meigs, Readville, MA on Sept. 26, 1862.

The Regiment embarked in the steamship Mississippi and sailed to Beaufort, NC on November 5, where they were assigned to Amory's Brigade, Foster's Division. Their first action was at Kingston , NC, where they lost 15 killed and 43 wounded. On Dec. 16, 1862 at Whitehall the loss was 4 killed and 16 wounded. On April 23, 1863 the regiment assaulted and captured a Confederate position astride a railroad near Goldsboro, losing one killed and four wounded. The regiment performed guard duty in several cities and then embarked for Boston, where they arrived on June 30, 1863 and were disbanded on July 8, 1863.

Again with parental consent, he re-enlisted as a Veteran Recruit with the 18th Massachusetts, receiving a bonus of $325. Family tradition holds that he was recruited by his future father-in-law, George Washington Thompson, a Sergeant in Company I.

On June 1, 1864 the regiment engaged in a fire fight at Bethesda Church, VA, where Samuel suffered a wound in the left fore arm, a minnie ball penetrating and shattering the arm. He was removed to a medical aid station, with the assistance of William F. King, of Company I, and at the aid station had his arm amputated.

His records reflect that on October 21, 1864 he was transferred to Co. G of the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry, where the first entry on the Company muster roll indicated he was "Absent Wounded." On February 1, 1865 he was recorded as being wounded sick in the Army Hospital, Broad St., Philadelphia. He was later transferred to Dale Army Hospital in Worcester from which he was release on April 20, 1865. He received a disability discharge from the Army on May 12, 1865.

Following his discharge from military service he married Alice Jane Thompson in Woonsocket, R.I. on Sept. 15, 1865. She was the daughter George W. and Joana C. (Keen) Thompson and 15 years of age at the time of the marriage. George Thompson was a sergeant in Co. I, 18th Massachusetts Infantry, and was responsible for the re-enlistment of Samuel Jordan in the 18th Mass. This couple had nine children, including Henry Lincoln, born Oct. 20, 1867; Frank A., born Oct. 10, 1869; William Warren, born April 24, 1875; Ethel Zeolide, born June 6, 1878; Alfred Almond, born March 4, 1880; Roscoe Alton, born Oct. 6, 1881; Eva Fostina, born March 28, 1884; Irvin Forest, born March 28, 1884; and Clara Etta, born Feb. 22, 1892.

Samuel Jordan purchased land in Wrentham, MA on Dec. 17, 1867, in an area now incorporated into Norfolk, MA. During this period he began his own teamster business, hauling produce from the woolen mills in Norfolk and Franklin, MA to the railroad. Considering the disability of having one good arm he was a hardy, independent person to be able to handle situations involved in such a business. After the death of his brother John Warren Jordan in 1891, he evidently purchased the family homestead in Franklin and returned to farming, where he remained until his own death in 1898. From Franklin town reports he owned a horse, two cows, and a heifer. He was a resigstered voter, being listed as having paid a poll tax.

He is reported by his children to have had a fiery temper. He was a member of George Maitland Post, Grand Army of the Republic in Franklin and participated in Memorial Day parades. A photograph, taken about 1895 depicts a serious man with either light or gray hair, a drooping mustache, and wearing an old uniform coat with a medal pinned on the left breast. He applied for a disability pension on June 20, 1865 and received the pension, amount unknown, on certificate 68225.

Samuel Jordan died at his home in Franklin, MA on Dec. 29, 1898 of Bright's disease and was buried in the Union Street Cemetery. Alice Jane Jordan applied for a widow's pension on March 14, 1899 and was granted a pension under certificate 487993. She died in Wrentham, MA on April 17, 1917.

But not this one. We sent a letter to the editor, which was promptly ignored so we thought we would give you the article as one post and our response on another.

Milford Daily News
Milford, Massachusetts
Civil War took the arm of a Franklin man
By James Buckley/ Local Columnist
Friday, June 30, 2006

During the Civil War, men were allowed to select the regiment that they wanted to join. As a result, the majority of fighting men chose to join a regiment filled with men from their town and neighboring towns. The upside of this arrangement was that they felt more comfortable among men from their own region and did not have to spend time adjusting to "foreign" ways. The downside was that if any given regiment had many fatalities in a battle, the town from which they had come had an excessive number of men to mourn.

Samuel Jordan of Franklin decided when he was just three days shy of his seventeenth birthday to join Company "C" of the 45th Massachusetts Regiment, in part because there were a significant number of men from Franklin who had also made the same choice. They included Corporal George T. Woodward, and Privates William Adams, Andrew Alexander, Lowell Adams, Orren (sometimes recorded as Owen) Ballou, Charles Bemis, Edmund Freeman, Walter Fisher, Nathaniel Grow, Francis Glynn and Samuel Hunt.

But when Jordan's enlistment with that unit expired, he decided not to rejoin the 45th Regiment but rather enlisted in the 18th Massachusetts Regiment. At a later date and perhaps throughout the rest of his life, he rued the day he had made the decision to switch regiments.
Sometimes historians and military personnel have refused to come to a consensus on one name for any given battle. This usually happened with battles that have not shared the notoriety of such battles as Gettysburg and Antietam. As a result, the Virginia battle in which Jordan became a casualty is known by seven rather colorful names: Totopotomoy Creek, Bethesda Church, Crumps Creeks, Haw's Shop, Matadequin Creek, Shady Grove Road and Hanovertown.

The fact that this battle has multiple names does not mean that it had few casualties. On the contrary, 1,100 Union troops were either wounded or were killed in battle, while and equal number of Confederate troops also died or were wounded, including Brigadier General George Doles who was killed by a Union sharpshooter near Bethesda Church.

At the beginning of this wandering battle, the Union leaders sent some of their troops to probe General Robert E. Lee's position along Totopotomy Creek, while others were deployed toward Hanover Court House. The rebels decided to counter these moves by coming in on the far right flank of the Union forces. This proved to be a mistake. Apparently those Confederate generals who had made this decision, including General Lee, had not been told by their forward observers that a sizable swampland called Crump's Creek would be in their path. As a result, instead of making hasty progress, the rebel forces were bogged down in the swamp and soon became unable to advance at all.

Because the rest of the Confederate forces were under strength due to the inability of some of their troops to get out of the swamp expeditiously, they were unable to withstand the advance made by the Union Army, including Jordan's Eighteenth Regiment.

Some of the Union troops managed to maneuver themselves into a position on the left of the rebels. As a consequence, they were able to drive the rebel forces back onto Shady Grove Road. Confronted with this advance, Confederate General Early attacked the left flank of the Union Army. In time, the Federal forces were also driven back to Shady Grove Road. Given the fact that by then components of both armies had now been driven back to that road, it is not surprising that it was there that most of the casualties occurred.

Samuel Jordan was among that number. He was forcefully hit in his left arm by an enemy bullet. Today army surgeons might have been able to save that arm, but given the fact that 99 percent of surgeons in the Union and Confederate Armies had received no formal medical education and had learned how to perform surgery by watching older but equally uneducated doctors do so, it is no wonder that Jordan's arm was considered shattered beyond repair and was therefore summarily amputated.

Thus Samuel Jordan became an amputee before he had reached his 19th nineteenth birthday. As a result, in July 1864, Samuel Jordan had plenty of time to wonder how we would earn a living during the rest of his life, given the fact that he now had only one arm. And it is reasonable to assume that his frame of mind became blacker when he heard that the battle in which he had lost his arm was officially declared indecisive, making his sacrifice and that of over 2,000 other men, fruitless.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It took a whole wagon for the U.S. Christian Commission to make coffee in mass quantities for the Union soldiers. Read this great article to find out more about the wagon and one man's quest to take reenacting to a whole new level.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A few weeks ago I posted about how to hate the Hate groups and proposed that anytime we see that a group is going to rally somewhere, that large groups of protesters should follow. My thought being that they have the right to free speech and so do we. If enough people continue to show how wrong they are, eventually they will go away and disappear.

Now the Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports that the same group of people are now heading to Gettysburg on September 2.

If you live in the area and can make it, I encourage you to take the time to truly honor America by protesting this band of idiots and help show them just how wrong they are. Hopefully this will be the first step in making them go away - and the sooner the better.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Our weekly look at the most interesting stories of the week.

Not as much news as last week but we still have a lot going on.

Traditions : Headquarters House ties modern Fayetteville to its Civil War past
Northwest Arkansas Times - Fayetteville,AR,USA
Good article on one building's preservation and it's involvement in the the Civil War, both during and after the war. | Refighting the Civil War
Philadelphia Inquirer - Philadelphia,PA,USA
A detailed look at Take Command: Second Manassas the PC game.

Interest in Wayne Civil War history is increasing
Goldsboro News Argus - Goldsboro,NC,USA
PR piece on one area's Civil War ties

National Cemetery a legacy of Civil War - Union soldiers' graves are like outcasts on the outskirts of town
Staunton News Leader - Staunton,VA,USA
Not quite a problem in my hometown of Beaufort, SC, this National Cemetary seems to hide the Union soldiers.

Thieves steal cannonballs from war memorial
Boston Globe - United States
Mike has a very good post over at his blog about this act of vandalism.

Civil War soldier honored
Grant County News Online - Williamstown,KY,USA
An ancestor makes sure that others don't forget about about his life in the Civil War.

Lake Villa Civil War ball set for Sept. 30

Waukegan News Sun - Waukegan,IL,USA
Balls can be lot's of fun and a CIvil War ball is even better.

KSU Students Find Civil War Artifacts - Atlanta,GA,USA
Article on students searching for the past.

Council Nixes Plans for Civil War Museum
WTRF - Wheeling,WV,USA
Last week it looked like there would be a new museum coming to our nation, now it's not as the business leaders have convinced the city council it's not worth the effort.

Rock opera meets Civil War

Hagerstown Morning Herald - Hagerstown,MD,USA
Too critics talk about how they felt while viewing this "broadway-type" show.

Downtown's second chance: Civil War heritage program

Hagerstown Morning Herald - Hagerstown,MD,USA
Editorial on the potential impact of the Heart of the Civil War program on one town.

A look at one citizen's part in the Civil War

Brunswick council approves Civil War grant program
Business Gazette - Gaithersburg,MD,USA
More on the Heart of the Civil War