I am sure that as
a Civil War student you have a set of favorite generals -- certainly
Confederates and perhaps some Union candidates also.
I have mine and I feel that the “Big Four” on the Confederate side
-- not necessarily in that order. To my mind the example, set by
represents all the best of the South and the Confederacy -- devotion
to duty, faithfulness to friends and concern for his men, never
expecting them to do what he was not willing to do himself.
His life is regarded as an example of all the good and noble aspects
of the South.
He lived in a time when
many of his contemporaries were more interested in advancing their
own agendas than those of their country irrespective of which side
of the Mason Dixon Line they were on.
the Battle of Franklin, he gave the last full measure to his
His needless death has come to
symbolize, to me, the tragedy of the Confederacy.
As an Arkansan, I
feel that we are fortunate to have someone of
Cleburne’s stature for which to be proud.
The only problem is that in these times of political correctness, we
have done very little here in
to honor him or, indeed, even to acknowledge him.
We have named a county for him at least and thankfully, his final
resting place is in
But, who here in Arkansas
really knows anything about him outside of the Civil War community,
which, we must admit, is a very small minority.
I attend several
Civil War events every year -- reenactments, battlefield tours, or
collector shows. I have been pleased to
find at collector events an ever increasing interest and display of
items relating to Cleburne.
In 2000, I attended the Nashville Civil War Collector’s Show and at
one of the tables, I learned about the Patrick Cleburne Society.
The headquarters is in
and the fee to become a member is quite modest.
The purpose and mission of the organization is quite simple and
straightforward. First, it is to
memorialize and honor
Cleburne’s life and accomplishments.
Secondly, is to contribute to the preservation of the battlefields
on which he fought. So, I joined the
Cleburne Society on the spot at
In the summer of
2001, I learned of plans by the Cleburne Society to lead a Civil War
tour to Ireland
to visit many of the sites that are significant in
Cleburne’s early life before coming to
America. These locations included
his birthplace at Bride
Park, the Ronayne Estate of his
mother’s family, St Mary’s
Church Athnowen Parish where he attended church, was baptized,
Ballencollig Royal Gunpowder Mill where his father was the military
surgeon and several military barracks where
was stationed after he ran away from his family, and joined the
The program I will
give is a slide show of locations visited on this trip and the story
of the hard life he had as a Private in the Army; and how it brought
him thoughts and ideas that contributed to his success as a great
was born and raised in the Little Rock
area, and attended the University
of Arkansas at
Fayetteville. He served on active duty in the
Army Artillery during
Korea. He is a professional
engineer and recently retired from Southwestern Bell Telephone. He
is active in various environmental organizations such as the Sierra
Club and the Nature Conservancy. He is a civil war enthusiast: past
president of Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas, supporter of civil
war battlefield preservation efforts nationwide, and an avid
collector of civil war period artifacts.
Register to receive your newsletter on-line.
noon on March 18, 2006, the 21st Annual
Memorial is to be held in the Maple
Helena. This annual ceremony
brings together civil war buffs from Arkansas,
Mississippi. The short memorial ceremony
brings the traditional laying of the flowers, while also having a
three-gun salute from rifle and canon. Mark your calendars.
Honorable Heritage of the South
has set the date for a special evening at the
Center's IMAX Theater for
all of Civil War buffs.
Ikerman, who gave a lecture at the
Civil War Roundtable on the Rape of Athens, has agreed to
give a 40-minute program entitled Honorable Heritage of
the South- Heritage Not Forgotten.
There is no admission charge for this
event. The program will begin at 7:00 p.m. on December 13,
followed by a special viewing of Ride With The Devil
on the IMAX screen. Tell all your friends and fellow Civil
War buffs! This will be a night you will surely remember!
family sent a nice response to our sympathy card on the occasion of
November is the month we choose
the officers for the coming year. People who were not at the meeting
have a high probability of being elected to office, so attendance is
usually high at this meeting.
Nominees so far are:
Vice President – open
Anyone who would like to put
their name in for Vice President (or any of the offices) please
In addition, it is time for THE
has reminded us. The dues are $15.00 for a family membership,
to make your payment or bring it to the meeting.
Civil War Roundtable of
The due help us pay a small
stipend to those speakers that come some distance to be with us, and supplements
This coming year we are working
to the state. He is the music historian with a large repertoire of
civil war songs (Confederate and those other guys). If we are able
to pull this off, we will need to get a grant or raise a
considerable amount of money for his fee. We may be able to do this
jointly with other groups.
, Vice President
Christmas During the Civil War
today's American Christmas customs are rooted in the early 19th
century. Perhaps ironically, they came to maturity during the Civil
War, when violence, chaos, and staggering personal losses seemed
likely to drown out the choruses of "Peace on Earth."
of the artists of the period, Winslow
created visual chronicles of the spreading influence of many holiday
traditions we enjoy today, including Santa Claus Christmas trees,
gift-giving, caroling, holiday feasting, and Christmas cards.
and Homer drew scenes of
the wartime practice of sending Christmas boxes filled with homemade
clothes and food items
to soldiers at the front. The war made an impact on the nation, both
North and South, in the ways Christmas was observed.
Christmas boxes like the ones
and Nast pictured gave their recipients a
much-needed mental and physical boost. When in 1861, for the first
Weekly Christmas cover of the war, Homer
drew overjoyed soldiers reveling in the contents of Adams Express
boxes from home.
The most beloved symbol of the American family
Christmas--the decorated Christmas tree--came into its own during
the Civil War. Christmas trees had become popular in the decade
before the war, and in the early 1860s, many families were beginning
to decorate them. Illustrators working for the national weeklies
helped popularize the practice by putting decorated tabletop
Christmas trees in their drawings.
On the home front, the homes were mostly decorated
with different kinds of pines, holly, ivy, and mistletoe.
While there were many families who spent lonely Christmases during
the war, they still had a Christmas tree that was the centerpiece
for the home. Most trees were small and sat on a table.
The decorations were mostly home made, such as
strings of dried fruit, popcorn, pinecones. Colored paper,
silver foil, as well as spun glass were popular choices for making
decorations. Santa brought gifts to the children. Those
gifts were home made, such as carved toys, cakes or fruits.
It was only a matter of time before the Christmas
tree made its way into military camps.
Bellard of the 5th
New Jersey remarked about the arrival of the newly
popular Christmas icon to his camp along the lower
"In order to make it look much
like Christmas as possible, a small tree was stuck up in front of
our tent, decked off with hard tack and pork, in lieu of cakes and
Christmas carols were sung both at home and in the
camps. Can you imagine how homesick the soldiers would become
singing these songs. Some of the most popular ones were
"Silent Night”, "Away in the Manger," "Oh Come All Ye Faithful”, and
"Deck the Halls".
By 1863, the Union blockade of the Southern coasts
had made it nearly impossible for Santa Claus to visit homes in the
South; scarcity of goods and the consequent high prices put both
store-bought presents and raw materials for homemade gifts out of
the financial reach of many Southern consumers. Quite a few mothers
explained to their children that even Santa Claus would not be able
run the formidable blockade.
how a simple act of faith on the part of her children caused her to
dig deeper for a holiday offering on Christmas Eve:
"I have written so much that it is now after 9 o'clock and yet I
have said nothing of Turner's
Bell's party which we gave them last week
in lieu of the Santa Claus presents. Mary Bell has been told that
Santa Claus has not been able to run the blockade and has gone to
war--Yet at this late hour when I went upstairs Thursday night of
the party I found that the trusting faith of childhood they had hung
their little socks and stockings in case Santa Claus did come. I had
given the subject no thought whatever, but invoking Santa Claus aid
I was enabled when their little eyes opened to enjoy their pleasure
to find cake and money in their socks."
Santa Claus apparently had a much easier time visiting homes in the
North than those in the South that Christmas. According to a letter
sent to her brother George,
"Santa arrived in here in
dressed in a buffalo coat with presents fastened to his
coat-tail...and a corn-popper on his back." She continued that
she had "often heard Santa Claus described, but never before saw
the old fellow in person."
Sometimes Santa Claus worked behind the scenes of
wartime savagery to bring a bit of Christmas cheer to those who
otherwise had little reason to celebrate. Following
capture of Savannah,
Georgia, and presentation of it as a Christmas
gift to Lincoln
in 1864, about 90 Michigan
men and their captain in turn gave a token of charity to Southern
civilians living outside the city. Christmas Day, the soldiers
loaded several wagons full of food and other supplies and
distributed the items about the ravaged
countryside. The destitute Southerners thanked the jolly Union Santa
Clauses as the wagons pulled away under the power of mules that had
tree-branch "antlers" strapped to their heads to turn them into
As the war dragged on, deprivation replaced bounteous
repasts and familiar faces were missing from the family dinner
table. Soldiers used to "bringing in the tree" and caroling in
church were instead scavenging for firewood and singing drinking
songs around the campfire. Therefore, the holiday celebration most
associated with family and home was a contradiction. It was a
joyful, sad, religious, boisterous, and subdued event.
Corporal J. C. Williams, Co. B, 14th
Vermont Infantry, December 25, 1862:
"This is Christmas,
and my mind wanders back to that home made lonesome by my
absence, while far away from the peace and quietude of civil
life to undergo the hardships of the camp, and may be the battle
field. I think of the many lives that are endangered, and hope
that the time will soon come when peace, with its innumerable
blessings, shall once more restore our country to happiness and
* * * * *
Company I of
Charlotte, recorded some
of the hardships of camp that day:
Christmas. Had hard Tack soaked in cold water and then fried in
[sic]. Fried in a canteen, split into[sic] by putting into the
fire & melting the sodder[sic] off. We pick them up on the field
left by other soldiers, also had coffee & pork. Ordered up at 5
this morning with guns ready, as it is reported that there are
400 Rebel Cavalry not far off prowling around. Foggy morning."
* * * * *
Shaw, then a
2nd lieutenant in the 2d Massachusetts Infantry, writes in 1861,
about guard duty near
MD. He would later earn fame as
the commander of the heroic African American unit, the 54th
is Christmas morning and I hope a happy and merry one for you
all, though it looks so stormy for our poor country, one can
hardly be in merry humor."
* * * * *
On December 24, 1861,
of the 22nd Mass. Vol. Inf. 4th U.S. Cavalry wrote:
and I am on duty as officer of the day, but I am not on duty
to-morrow. As much as I desire to see you all, I would not
leave my company alone...I give my company a Christmas dinner
to-morrow, consisting of turkey, oysters, pies, apples, etc.; no
* * * * *
Major and Surgeon U.S.V. wrote:
"During the days
preceding Christmas, I received some boxes from home, full of
nice comfortable things, and the letter which came to me at that
time, you may be sure, made me feel homesick. On Christmas
night, I left for St.
Louis as my teeth were troubling me, and
greatly in need of the services of a dentist. I was
fortunate in finding a good one, and in a day or two the
necessary repairs were made."
* * * * *
From the diary of Private
Moore, a Confederate soldier:
Tuesday, Dec 24th, 1861, camp near Swan's...
"This is Christmas
Eve but seems but little like it to me"
* * * * *
One of the dreariest accounts of Christmas during the
Civil War came from Lt. Col.
captured at Gettysburg
and writing about Christmas 1863 in Libby Prison in
Wednesday, Dec. 25th, 1861, camp near Swan's...
"This is Christmas & and very dull Christmas it
has been to me.
Had an egg-nog to-night but did not enjoy it
much as we had no ladies to share it with us."
"The north wind comes reeling in fitful gushes through the iron
bars, and jingles a sleighbell in the prisoner's ear, and puffs
in his pale face with a breath suggestively odorous of
"...Christmas Day! A day which was
made for smiles, not sighs - for laughter, not tears - for the
hearth, not prison."
* * * * *
From the diary of
of Key West,
December 25, 1863 at Dalton, Georgia after action
"Christmas day and
a very dull one but I find a tolerable good dinner. I had
one drink of whiskey in the morning. There was some
serenading last night but I took no part in it for I did not
feel merry as my thoughts were of home..."
* * * * *
VISIT THE BATTLEFIELDS
WHEN YOU CAN...WHILE YOU CAN
SEE YOU TUESDAY NIGHT
The battle goes on... Help if you can...