"A Nation Divided" A Free Bi-monthly Newsletter Issue 03/15/2001 ============================================================
******************** LEE'S HUMANITY ************************
In "A Moment In Time," with Dan Roberts, he writes of General Robert E. Lee's humanity, which he attributes to the popularity of Lee that continues today:
"It is perhaps the humanity of Lee that gives us a clue to the enduring affection in which he is held. Emory Thomas, who teaches history at the University of Georgia, recalls a wonderful story during one of the dark winters of the war."
Lee received a letter from two little girls, Lucy Minigerode and Lou Haxall:
"We the undersigned write to ask a little favor. We want Private Cary Robinson of your command to spend his Christmas with us, and if you will grant him furlough for this purpose we will pay you back in thanks and love and kisses. Signed, your two little friends."
Lee wrote back:
"I received your joint request for Mr. Cary Robinson to visit you on Christmas, and provided circumstances permitted, gave him authority to do so. I fear I was influenced by the bribe held out to me and will punish myself for not going to claim the thanks and love and kisses promised me. You know the self-denial this will cost me. I fear too I shall be obliged to submit your letter to Congress, that our legislators may know the temptations to which poor soldiers are exposed, and in their wisdom devise some means of counteracting its influence. They may know that bribery and corruption is stalking boldly over the land, but may not be aware that the fairest and sweetest are engaged in its practice." ---excerpt "A Moment In Time."
*** Dan Roberts' archives can be reached from the main screen of eHistory or at: http://www.ehistory.com/world/amit/index.cfm
***************** H. L. HUNLEY UPDATE **********************
On a cold winter morning, Feb. 17, 1864, a Union naval officer aboard the 'Housatonic' looked out across the choppy waves and spotted what he thought to be a porpoise. It was quickly discovered that the object was in fact a Confederate torpedo boat.
The 'Hunley,' a Confederate submarine named after its inventor, rammed a black powder charge at the end of the Housatonic before backing off to detonate the charge. The Union ship, which could carry three tons of powder, sank in five minutes, killing five Federal soldiers. Though successful in their mission, the crew of the submarine also lost their lives when the Hunley sank four miles off the coast of Sullivan's Island in South Carolina.
It is in this watery grave that the H. L. Hunley rested until 1995, when shipwreck hunter Clive Cussler began his recovery mission of the vessel. The Hunley was taken to the old Charleston Navy Base, where scientists have been examining the structure to solve the mystery of its sinking. Last week, workers began to remove the layers of sediment inside the vessel in hopes of finding the remains of the crewmen inside. Computer technology will help to create pictures of what the crewmen looked like. Reportedly, the remains will be buried next fall, beside the other two crews of the Hunley in Charleston's Magnolia Cemetery.
******************** SOUTHERN CHIVALRY *********************
Rev. Dr. Henry Van Dyke recalls an incident of war that illustrates the chivalrous sentiment of the Southern people:
"When I was a child, early in 1861, my father took me with him on a trip to Charleston, S. C. The state authorities had already passed the "ordinance of secession," the citizens were wrought up to a high pitch, and Maj. Anderson had been shut up in Fort Sumter. I remember my experiences at that time vividly.
The Federal troops were almost destitute of provisions, and it was a question as to how long they could hold out at Fort Sumter. It was well understood in Charleston that any attempt on the part of the United States to reprovision the garrison would be resisted by force; but there stood Anderson with his handful of men, under the stars and stripes, facing starvation and surrender, possibly annihilation. I observed one day that a number of small boats were putting off from the docks and making for Fort Sumter, where lay the beleaguered Federal troops, and I learned that the women of Charleston had laden these boats with provisions of all sorts, from substantials to luxuries, and were actually sending them to the soldiers whom their brothers and fathers were trying to subdue by starvation or by shot and shell.
As the boats were pulling out I looked into them to see what kind of food the ladies were sending to the enemy, and I saw every delicacy that could be found in the market.
Shortly after the sending of these provisions to the beleaguered fort by the women of Charleston the men of that city, from their batteries on Morris Island, fired upon the "Star of the West," which was engaged upon a similar mission. Charleston would not have allowed the Federal major and his garrison to starve, but was determined not to permit the United States Government to provision the fort. The distinction was clear enough, and the presence of war itself could not hold in abeyance the obligations of hospitality."
*** The above was an excerpt from Confederate Veteran, Vol. VI, No. 2, Nashville, Tenn., February, 1898.
Copies of the Confederate Veteran magazines can now be purchased on eHistory.com in our "Shopping" area, or at: http://www.ehistory.com/shopping/e_comm/index.cfm
*************** HISTORICALLY SPEAKING **********************
Quite often, letters written during the American Civil War reflect a formality in the use of the English language, which is seldom seen today. Though composed by hardened veterans of the battlefields, there is eloquence and sometimes poetic romanticism in their descriptions of life on the front. Of course, these were the letters written by well-educated men schooled in rhetoric, orthography, and works of the literary greats. In sharp contrast were the letters sent home by the young men who received little or no formal education. But did they speak to each other as prolifically as they wrote? A closer study suggests not. As a matter of fact, many of the slang terms the soldiers used then are still in use today. And while today's generation might think we are the inventors of some of these slang expressions, firsthand accounts by those of the 1860's would prove otherwise.
A few of the slang terms such as: "Hunkey Dorey," "Java," "Jailbird," "Blowhard," "Pard," "Played out," "Snug as a bug," "Fit to be tied," "Horse sense" and "Fresh fish" are used today to mean much the same as they did during the Civil War. However, other expressions, like: "Dingbat (referring to a cannon ball)," "Greenhorn (meaning an officer)" and "Bully (meaning Hurrah! Yeah!)," are now used in a different context.