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This is the archive for August 2006

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Attending The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, is rather a unique experience. As Assistant Commandant – Lt. Colonel Harvey Dick told the incoming class of 1991 in August of 1987 – “It is the only college that I know of where students sign their constitutional rights away, in order for the privilege to attend.”

The way I have always described my adventures at The Citadel is as follows. During the Thanksgiving Furlough (The Citadel does not have vacation – don’t ask me why, I could not tell you) – I went and had dinner with my best friend, Sean LeRoy, and his parents. Sean’s father attended The Citadel's arch enemy – VMI – and instead of encouraging him or me to attend a military school, he did everything he could to talk me out of it. While we were eating dinner, Sean and I caught up on being apart for four months. As he went into detail about the many parties he attended and the adventures he had had, I could only respond with – “I did push-ups”. He would then launch into more tales of drunkenness and I would reply with, “I did lots of push ups.” Don’t get me wrong, I did a lot of other things, like running, eating square meals, cleaning a room all night for an inspection – only to have my room ignored but I didn’t have the experience Sean had – but I did have The Citadel experience.

A major part of the experience is Knob year (most colleges call it freshman year). The goal is to strip you of all humanity, break you down a little more and then rebuild you in the image of the perfect Citadel Man. Pat Conroy described it best in “The Lords of Discipline” – knobs (freshman) were lower than whale dung in the bottom of the ocean. A big part of the experience is when incoming knobs receive The Guidon, a small book that holds all that is holy about the history and makeup of The Citadel. With The Guidon, came a letter that told me I should learn everything that was in it. I kept putting it off until the day I was traveling to Charleston – in the end I knew my name, id, company and company commander. I just happened to be missing about 223 other pages of information and I paid dearly for not knowing it.

I soon after learned that book pretty quickly – although “The Cadet Prayer” gave me a hard time – you would be surprised at what a yelling upperclassman at the dinning table or the threat of never ending pushups can help you remember. Two things I learned quick, cadets from The Citadel fired the first shots of the Civil War when they kept the Star of the West from re-supplying Fort Sumter and that the Governor of South Carolina awarded the Corps of Cadets nine battle streamers for their participation in the Civil War – one of which – was for James Island in 1862, better known as the Battle of Secessionville – which occurred outside of Charleston.

I have to admit, I still don’t know much about the battle itself. Truthfully, all I do know is that there is a road on James Island named Secessionville Road – and I only know that because a classmate of mine had a house there – and that occasionally there is a reenactment in Mount Pleasant (yes not James Island) of the battle.

Saturday, I learned a bit more. I have mentioned one of my not so secret vices of reading comic books, specifically Marvel’s Civil War (I will not add the TM out of principle). And although it has been going on several months, it has not linked up to “our” Civil War – until now.

One of the titles, Front Line, always ends the same way. Showing a historical event via art and comparing it with what is happening in the Marvel Universe. It can be very striking – and up until now, my favorite was the one looking at Julius Caesar and his march into Italy. But issue number 5 had the Battle of Secessionville and although to my untrained eyes the weapons seemed off, it was well worth the $2.99 I paid. Although the following is taken from the narrative of the book, it comes nowhere near the impact with the 4 pages of art that accompanies it. Even so, I thought you might enjoy it, as I truly did.

The Battle of Secessionville was fought near Charleston, South Carolina on June 16, 1862. It was the north’s first major effort to take Charleston. During this battle, two brothers named James and Alexander Campbell fought on opposite sides – James as a Lieutenant in the Confederate army and Alexander as a Color Sergeant in the 79th Highlander Regiment. The brothers only later learned that they had fought directly against each other at Secessionville. The Charleston Courier called the two brothers “another illustration of the deplorable consequences of this fratricidal war.”

Alexander Campbell in a letter to his wife – June, 1862
“We are not far from each other now…. This was a War that there never was the like of before…
…Brother against Brother.

James Campbell to his Federal Brother—August, 1862:
“I was astonished to hear from the prisoners that you was the color bearer of the regiment that assaulted the Battery at this point the other day.

I was…During the whole engagement doing my best to beat you(.) But I hope you and I will never again meat face to face bitter enemies on the battlefield(.)

…But if such should be the case you have but to discharge your duty for your cause.

…For I can assure you I will strive to discharge my duty to my country and my cause.

Alexander Campbell to his wife – August, 1862

“I hope to God that he and I will get safe through it all…

…And he will have his story to tell about his side and I will have my story to tell about my side.”
-Front Line #5 – A Marvel Comics Event – Civil War

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Kevin over at Civil War Memory did a post about cuts coming to the Museum of the Confederacy. Not only is the post interesting (and mentions that becoming a member is an easy and inexpensive way to help support the MOC) the resulting comments are worth a read too.

As I have mentioned in previous posts – here and here – losing the MOC and its expansive collections would be detrimental to the Civil War community and our American History.

We all can do something and do it easily and painlessly by spending a little less on our normal “fun” money and instead become a member or just plain donate directly to MOC. All of us can have a huge impact by working together.

To learn more about membership in The Museum of the Confederacy, click here
To learn more about donating to The Museum of the Confederacy, click here

Thursday, August 10, 2006

So the divorce between the city of North Charleston and the Noisette company is final. As I mentioned in the previous post, North Charleston will get land specifically for the proposed Hunley museum but Noisette will be allowed input into the design and construction of the building.

I can see where some jumped to the conclusion that there could be some crazy things happening due to this clause but I am not too sure if any will.

So far the only thing Noisette has been able to do in close to 5 years is almost build a riverfront park using taxpayer’s money. The original completion date was July, yet they are still not completely finished.

It was also reported that Noisette took out a nearly 30 million loan to help jumpstart the redevelopment process. Not sure how much this will help them as it has been estimated that they will need closer to 200 million to complete.

I did happen to take my children to the park this past week and while it was very pretty, it was overrun by mosquitoes – even in the bathrooms. My children had a blast as they hunted the dozen or so who followed us into the car.

If the bugs are still this bad when/if the Hunley museum opens up, I doubt there will ever be repeat visitors. People will be too scared of the dang things!