Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Let the Horse Rest in Peace

Wilson, NY in Niagara County may not be the first place you think of when discussing memorials to the Confederacy. In fact, many of the town’s ancestors were part of the First Regiment New York Light Artillery that was raised in nearby Lockport. Battery M was part of the regiment that was assembled in Rochester, NY and sent to Washington to defend the Capitol. The Chief Bugler for this regiment was Private. Lorenzo Pratt of Wilson. Pratt served in the War three and a half years and survived to return home. Pratt and Battery M saw action in almost every major battle and campaign including Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chattanooga, Peach Tree Creek, the March to the Sea, and the campaigns of the Carolinas.

During the Battle of Chattanooga in November 1863, Pratt captured a Confederate horse and named him “Billy Sherman” after William Tecumseh Sherman. Billy was a dark bay and stood 15 hands high. Pratt rode his new horse for the duration of the war and proudly brought him back to Wilson in June 1865.
General William T. Sherman
Lorenzo Pratt returned to his life as a farmer on the Wilson-Burt Road. Billy became his chief workhorse as well as a much-loved friend. Every year on Decoration (Memorial) Day and other patriotic holidays, Billy would be decked out in equestrian military regalia and join in the local parades. He was a favorite attraction with children and with the aging members of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). Billy continued to work on the farm until three days before he died on September 1, 1887. It was estimated that Billy was at least thirty years old when he passed away. The folks in Wilson had a funeral for the local Civil War veteran. An Army blanket was placed over his body and an American flag over his head. A poem about Billy was read aloud and then he was buried on the Lorenzo Pratt’s farm. For many years, the Pratt family maintained Billy’s grave and the GAR placed a flag there every Decoration Day.


Gradually, those custodians either moved or died. Billy’s grave was almost lost to history, until, on September 1, 1973, 86 years after his death, the Wilson Historical Society placed a boulder with a historic marker on the side of the road not far from his grave. At some point later, three small, wooden flags were added: the American flag, the Tennessee state flag and the Confederate flag to the site.

Things seemed to be going well, until Randy Beresford from West Virginia bought the property and found himself in the middle of a controversy. In late May 2018, a man who didn't give his name called Wilson Town Hall to complain about the presence of the Confederate flag. Now Beresford and the Wilson Historical Society had to explain what the monument honored and why it won't be taken down, despite the nationwide removal of Confederate flags and monuments. "As a historical organization, we do not feel that the current display is in any way glorifying of or condoning a political message − not that a horse has any politics," said John Sinclair, president of the Wilson Historical Society. "There is indeed a part of society that glorifies the negative side of the Confederacy, with racial undertones," Sinclair said. "This display and gravesite nearby, which is tended to by our local VFW post to honor the service of the horse, its rider and all the men of Battery M, who served and died fighting against what the South stood for, is not one of them."

Beresford has no plans to change the monument to the horse.


Thomas J. Prohaska, “Burial site of Civil War horse prompts question: What about Confederate flag?” July 5, 2018 , Updated July 6, 2018, Buffalo Evening News.

“Billy Sherman, The Confederate Horse from Wilson,” Niagara County Historical Society Bicentennial Moments, http://www.niagara2008.com/history96.html.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Louis Froelich - Arms Maker to the Confederacy

Louis Froelich - Arms Maker to the Confederacy is an excellent book with information on Mr. Froelich and excellent photographs of the weapons he produced. John W. McAden, Jr. and Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr. have produced “a useful reference book in the field of Confederate edged weapons.“ The American Society of Arms Collectors said, “It is a factual and informative work for both collectors and historians and is recommended for this field of American arms history.”

The book begins with a detailed biography of Louis Froelich. Froelich was a Bavarian mechanic who immigrated to the United States. After working in New York City, he moved south with his family and started working in Wilmington, North Carolina. When the Civil War began, Froelich started working as a foreman at the North Carolina Button Manufactory in April 1861. In late 1861, he and his partner, Colonel B. Estevan, started the CSA Arms Factory. The facility began operation in Wilmington and later moved to Kenansville, North Carolina. The factory supplied “a significant number of sabers and swords” to the Confederate forces.

Froelich's New Weapon
The Daily Journal, May 17, 1862

Froelich dissolved the partnership after he learned that Estevan lied about his military experience in Hungary. Froelich worked to rehabilitate the Wilmington company's reputation. He presented arms innovations to the Confederate military that were so far ahead of its time that the Confederate government refused to award him a contract.

Froelich Ends Partnership
Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer, April 28, 1862

After a yellow fever epidemic killed many armory workers and a fire destroyed a large part of the factory, Froelich moved his operations to Kenansville. In late 1863, a Union raiding party attacked the town and destroyed most of the factory and its production.

On January 1, 1864, Froelich sold a co-partnership to Jacob W, N. Cornehlson. The business operated under the name Louis Froelich & Co. in manufacturing of arms, accoutrements, and horse shoes. Froelich’s valuable contribution to the Confederacy is recorded in The Wilmington Journal of April 28, 1864:

HOME INDUSTRY − We learn from the Confederate that at the manufactory of Messrs. L. Froelich & Co., Kenansville, N. C, from April 1, 1861 to March 1st. 1864, this establishment has furnished 18 sets of surgical instruments, 800 gross military buttons, 3,700 lance spears, 6,500 sabre bayonets, 11,700 cavalry sabres [sic], 2,700 officer's sabers, 600 navy cutlasses, 800 artillery cutlasses, 1,700 sets of infantry accoutrements, 300 sabre belts, and 300 knapsacks. Froelich’s work earned him the nickname the "Sword Maker for the Confederacy." 
After the war, Froelich became a farmer in Kenansville. In the 1870s, Froelich’s family moved to Halifax County, where he died in October 1873.

Froelich Grows Grapes
The Daily Journal, October 16, 1987 

Following Louis Froelich’s extensive biography, the authors present a series of full-color photographs of the swords, sabers, Bowie knives, lances, saber bayonets, lances, and belts and buckles Mr. Froelich manufactured for the Confederate military.

The Authors 

John W. McAden owns one of the finest collections of Froelich-made edged weapons. The book contains photographs of his collection for others to enjoy and study. Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr., a professor of Civil War history at UNC Wilmington, “scoured newspapers, manuscripts, and official documents for information on Louis Froelich’s business operations and personal life.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Ambrose Burnside and the National Rifle Association

General Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Everett Burnside (May 23, 1824 - September 13, 1881) was an Army officer, railroad executive, inventor, industrialist, and politician from. He was governor of Rhode Island and United States Senator. He was Union Army general in the Civil War and conducted successful campaigns in North Carolina and East Tennessee. Regrettably, Burnside is remembered for the delay in crossing the “Burnside Bridge” at Antietam, and his disastrous defeats at the Battle of Fredericksburg and Battle of the Crater. His distinctive style of facial hair became known as sideburns, derived from his last name. He was also the first president of the National Rifle Association.

Civil War

When the Civil War began, Burnside was a brigadier general in the Rhode Island Militia. He raised the First Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry Regiment and was appointed its colonel on May 2, 1861. Two companies of this regiment were armed with the Burnside Carbines he invented. First Battle of Bull Run A month later, the Army assigned him to command a brigade in the Department of Northeast Virginia. He led the brigade without distinction at the First Battle of Bull Run in July. He took temporary command of the division after Brigadier General David Hunter was wounded. 

After the First Rhode Island completed its ninety-day enlistment, the Army promoted Burnside to brigadier general of volunteers on August 6 and assigned him to train provisional brigades in the Army of the Potomac. 

North Carolina Expeditionary Force 

Burnside commanded the three brigades of the Coast Division or North Carolina Expeditionary Force from September 1861 until July 1862. He directed the successful campaign that closed more than eighty percent of the North Carolina sea coast to Confederate shipping. The Army promoted Burnside to major general of volunteers on March 18, 1862 in recognition of his successes at the battles of Roanoke Island and New Bern. In July, his forces became the IX Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Burnside was offered command of the Army of the Potomac following Major General George B. McClellan's failure in the Virginia Peninsula Campaign. He refused the promotion because of his loyalty to McClellan and recognition of his own limited military experience. 

Battle of Antietam 

Burnside's Bridge
Burnside commanded the Right Wing of the Army of the Potomac (the I Corps and his own IX Corps) at the start of the Maryland Campaign. At the battle of Antietam, McClellan divided Burnside's two corps, placed them on opposite ends of the Union line, and reduced Burnside's command to only the IX Corps. Burnside refused to relinquish his authority and continued to act as if the I Corps commander reported to him. This cumbersome arrangement contributed to his slowness in attacking and crossing "Burnside's Bridge." Burnside added to his problems by failing to conduct adequate reconnaissance around the bridge and to take advantage of several easy fording sites out of range of the enemy. His troops made repeated assaults across the narrow bridge defended by Confederate sharpshooters. The IX Corps eventually crossed the bridge, but the delay allowed Major General A. P. Hill's Confederate division to arrive from Harpers Ferry and drive the Union forces back over the bridge. 

Battle of Fredericksburg 

Burnside at Fredericksburg
After McClellan's failure at Antietam, the Army appointed Burnside to command the Army of the Potomac on November 7, 1862. President Lincoln pressured Burnside to take the offense and approved the commander's plan to capture Richmond, Virginia. This plan led to a humiliating and costly Union defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13. Burnside's forces rapidly advanced to Fredericksburg, but the attack was delayed waiting for pontoon bridges to cross the Rappahannock River. He was also reluctant to send portions of his across the river at fording points. The delay allowed General Robert E. Lee to concentrate his forces along Marye's Heights west of town and easily repulse the Union attacks. In addition to the delays and refusal to use fording points, Burnside mismanaged the Union attacks and failed to support Union breakthroughs. The failure of repeated piecemeal frontal attacks on Marye's Heights and the high number of casualties earned him the nom de guerre "Butcher of Fredericksburg."

Battle of Fredericksburg
In January 1863, Burnside's second offensive against Lee bogged down in the winter rains. The "Mud March" was another failure, and Burnside asked be relieved of duty, tried by a court martial, and offered to resign. 

General Order No. 38 

Lincoln refused to accept Burnside's resignation, but the president decided to reassign him to "a quiet area with little activity" where Burnside "could not get himself into too much trouble." Burnside returned to command the IX Corps and placed in charge of the Department of the Ohio (Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois). This department might have been away from the front lines, but antiwar sentiments were high. Burnside was disgusted by the antiwar attitude and issued a series of orders forbidding "the expression of public sentiments against the war or the Administration" in the department. Finally, Burnside's orders resulted in General Order No. 38, which proclaimed that "any person found guilty of treason will be tried by a military tribunal and either imprisoned or banished to enemy lines."

Burnside's ordered the arrest, trial, and imprisonment of Ohio Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham. Burnside followed this action by closing the Chicago Times, a leading opponent of the war and President Lincoln. A military court found Vallandigham guilty of violating General Order No. 38 and sentenced him to imprisonment for the duration of the war, and was turned into a martyr by antiwar Democrats. Burnside next turned his attention to Illinois. Lincoln intervened and released Vallandigham to Confederate forces, ordered the Chicago Times to be reopened, and disciplined Burnside for exceeding his authority. 

Knoxville Campaign 

Burnside led troops in the Knoxville Campaign. His forces bypassed the Confederate-held Cumberland Gap; advanced to Knoxville, Tennessee; captured the city; and forced the Confederates to abandon Knoxville. After occupying the city, Burnside sent troops back to the Cumberland Gap and forced the Confederate forces to surrender. 

Overland Campaign 

Burnside took the IX Corps back to the Eastern Theater where they fought in the Overland Campaign. The IX Corps fought at the battles of Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House, where Burnside performed poorly. After the battles of North Anna and Cold Harbor, his command served in the siege lines at Petersburg. 

The Battle of the Crater 

Battle of the Crater
The two opposing armies were stalemated in trench warfare at Petersburg in July 1864. Burnside agreed to a plan suggested by a regiment of former coal miners in his corps. The 48th Pennsylvania would dig a mine under Elliot's Salient in the Confederate entrenchments and ignite explosives to destroy the Confederate earthworks. Burnside planned to use a division of specially trained black troops to take advantage of explosion. and achieve a surprise breakthrough.  At the last moment, General Meade ordered Burnside not to use these soldiers. The fort was destroyed on July 30 in what is known as the Battle of the Crater. He was forced to use untrained white troops instead. He could not decide which division to choose as a replacement, so he had his three subordinate commanders draw lots.

The division chosen by chance was that commanded by Brigadier General James H. Ledlie, who failed to brief the men on what was expected of them and was reported during the battle to be drunk well behind the lines, providing no leadership. Ledlie's men entered the huge crater instead of going around it, becoming trapped, and were subjected to heavy fire from Confederates around the rim, resulting in high casualties. 

General Grant relieved Burnside of command on August 14 and placed him on "extended leave." Burnside was never assigned to duty during the remainder of the war. A court of inquiry blamed him for the Crater fiasco on Burnside and his subordinates. He finally resigned his commission on April 15, 1865, after Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

Career After the Civil War 

After his resignation, Burnside was president of the Cincinnati and Martinsville Railroad, the Indianapolis and Vincennes Railroad, the Cairo and Vincennes Railroad, and the Rhode Island Locomotive Works. 

Burnside returned to politics and was elected to three one-year terms (May 29, 1866 to May 25, 1869) as Governor of Rhode Island. 

Burnside was a Companion of the Massachusetts Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, a military society of Union officers and their descendants, and served as the Junior Vice Commander of the Massachusetts Commandery in 1869. He was commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic veterans' association from 1871 to 1872 and Commander of the Department of Rhode Island of the Grand Army of the Republic. 

During a visit to Europe in 1870, Burnside attempted to mediate between the French and the Germans in the Franco-Prussian War. 

In 1876 Burnside was elected as commander of the New England Battalion of the Centennial Legion, a collection of militia units from the original thirteen states. The units participated in the parade in Philadelphia to celebrate the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

In 1874 the Rhode Island Senate elected Burnside as a US Senator from Rhode Island. He was re-elected in 1880, and served until his death in 1881. During that time, Burnside, who had been a Democrat before the war, ran as a Republican, playing a prominent role in military affairs as well as serving as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in 1881. 

National Rifle Association

A few months after the Civil War began, a group of Americans living in England proposed a "national rifle association." R.G. Moulton and R.B. Perry sent a letter to President Lincoln that recommended forming an organization patterned after the British National Rifle Association. The British organization was formed a year and a half earlier. Moulton and Perry suggested building a shooting range on Staten Island. They proposed holding a shooting competition using Whitworth rifles. They recommended organizing a provisional committee including President Lincoln, Secretary of War, officers, and other prominent New Yorkers to form the Association. 

The Civil War delayed the organization of the National Rifle Association November 16, 1871. William C. Church, editor of the Army and Navy Journal, and Captain George W. Wingate chartered the first chapter in New York. On November 25, 1871, the association elected its first corporate officers. They selected General Ambrose Burnside as president; Colonel W.C. Church as vice president; Captain Wingate as secretary; Fred M. Peck as recording secretary; and General John B. Woodward as treasurer. Burnside’s experience as a general officer and gunsmith made him an obvious choice. When Burnside resigned on August 1, 1872, Church succeeded him as president. 

Union Army records for the Civil War indicated that its troops fired about 1,000 rifle shots for each Confederate hit. General Burnside complained, "Out of ten soldiers who are perfect in drill and the manual of arms, only one knows the purpose of the sights on his gun or can hit the broad side of a barn." The problem was attributed to the use of volley tactics using smoothbore muskets. 

Captain Wingate recognized the need for better training and sent representatives to Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany to observe militia and armies' marksmanship training programs. Using Wingate’s plans, the New York Legislature financed construction of a modern shooting range at Creedmoor, Long Island that opened on June 21, 1873. Captain Wingate wrote a marksmanship training manual based on his research and field exercises. 

The NRA organized rifle clubs in other states and many state National Guard organizations asked the NRA’s advice to improve members' marksmanship. Wingate's marksmanship manual developed into the US Army marksmanship instruction program. 

Burnside was not the only Civil War officer to serve as NRA president. Former President and General Ulysses S. Grant, General Philip H. Sheridan, Winfield Scott Hancock, and Medal of Honor winner General Alexander Shaler all were chosen as NRA presidents. In addition to Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Donald Trump were both NRA and United States presidents.

Winfield Scott Hancock

U. S. Grant
Philip H. Sheridan
Alexander Shaler

The US Congress created the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice in 1901 that included representatives from the NRA, National Guard, and US military services. Congress authorized annual rifle and pistol competitions and a national match open to military and civilian shooters. In 1903, Congress approved the Civilian Marksmanship Program to train civilians who might later become soldiers in the US military. 

In 1907, NRA headquarters moved to Washington, DC to assist the organization's advocacy efforts. The NRA formed its Legislative Affairs Division to update members with facts and analysis of upcoming bills after Congress passed the first federal gun-control law, the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA). Karl Frederick, NRA President, testified during congressional NFA hearings in 1934, "I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. ... I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses." The NRA supported the NFA along with the Gun Control Act of 1968, which together created a system to federally license gun dealers and established restrictions on particular categories and classes of firearms. 

Until the middle 1970s, the NRA focused on sportsmen, hunters and target shooters, and downplayed gun control issues. However, passage of the Gun Control Act incited a growing number of NRA gun rights activists. In 1975 in response to increased oversight, the NRA started to engage in gun legislation and politics. The NRA began lobbying as the Institute for Legislative Action. Its political action committee, the Political Victory Fund, was started in time for the 1976 elections. After 1977, the organization expanded its membership by focusing heavily on political issues and forming coalitions with conservative politicians. 

Since 1977, the NRA has championed and defended the Second Amendment. In 1872, the NRA’s mission was to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis." Today, the -NRA’s primary goals are to “promote opposition to gun control laws.” 

Ambrose Burnside, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambrose_BBururnside. 
National Rifle Association, Wikipedia,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Rifle_Association. Burnside carbine, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burnside_carbine. 
How accurate is the average soldier in combat? “It appears that a soldier’s ability to hit a given target is typically reduced by a factor of ten or so when he is moved from a static rifle range to a field firing area where he has to select cover, move, shoot and so on. It is reduced by a further factor of ten or so if there is an enemy firing back at him. It is reduced by another factor of ten if the enemy has machine guns, or if he has tanks; and by a hundred if he has both.” - Dr. Jim Storr quote in https://www.quora.com/How-accurate-is-the-average-soldier-in-combat.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Confederate Plaque Still Hangs in the Texas Capitol

Texas’ top two elected leaders are dancing around the debate surrounding the Children of the Confederacy Creed plaque that hangs in the Texas Capitol. Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick refuse to respond to questions concerning who can remove the marker.

Children of the Confederacy Creed

Children of the Confederacy Creed 

The Children of the Confederacy Creed plaque was dedicated in 1959 in the midst of the civil rights movement and rising public awareness about slavery foster by the Roots television series. The plaque’s hanging occurred before the centennial celebration of the Civil War. The 1961-1965 remembrance has been widely criticized for ignoring slavery and focusing more on honoring the Union and Confederate forces. The recent sesquicentennial worked hard to avoid omitting slavery and the role of African Americans in the conflict. 

Children of the Confederacy Creed  
Because we desire to perpetuate, in love and honor, the heroic deeds of those who enlisted in the Confederate Army, and upheld its flag through four years of war, we, the children of the South, have united in an organization called "Children of the Confederacy," in which our strength, enthusiasm, and love of justice can exert its influence.  
We therefore, pledge ourselves to preserve pure ideals; to honor our veterans; to study and teach the truths of history (one of the most important of which is that the war between the states was not a rebellion nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery), and to always act in a manner that will reflect honor upon our noble and patriotic ancestors. 
Erected by the Texas Division 
Children of the Confederacy 
August 7, 1959 

The statement saying that slavery was not the underlying cause of the Civil War ignores the documents associated with Texas secession, which clearly indicate that defense of slavery and preservation of white supremacy were the reasons Texas left the Union. (See Declaration of Causes: February 2, 1861.) 

Adding to the plaque’s notoriety, Texas lawmakers celebrated its erection with a resolution noting how Texas "proudly entered "the Confederacy and "contributed significantly to the cause of that gallant nation through the period of the War for Southern Independence." 

Now the debate about historic accuracy and offensive language has commenced with opposing forces drawn from both parties.

In May 2018, Attorney General Ken Paxton was asked to determine who has the legal power to remove the Children of the Confederacy plaque. Paxton asked Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick and several other people to submit briefs "if they have a special interest or expertise in the subject matter." Abbott, Patrick and other representatives from the Texas Preservation Board did not submit briefs. 

Paxton is expected to issue his opinion in October, less than two weeks before election day.

Abbott wants the legislature to decide the issue, but House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, and Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas believe that the State Preservation Board has the authority to remove the plaque. Representative Straus reminded Paxton the claims that the Civil War was not fought to sustain slavery was removed from the Children of the Confederacy's creed a few years ago. Straus’ response said, “The plaque should either be removed or relocated to a place where appropriate historical context can be provided."

The State Preservation Board (SPB) 

The State Preservation Board has six members − Abbott, Patrick, Straus, Lois Kolkhorst (Senate), Charlie Geren (House), and Althea Swann Bugg. Only the governor can call a meeting of the governing board.

Mission − The State Preservation Board preserves and maintains the Texas Capitol, the Capitol Extension, the 1857 General Land Office Building that now houses the Capitol Visitors Center, other designated buildings, their contents and their grounds; provides facilities and grounds keeping services for the Texas Governor's Mansion; and operates the Bullock Texas State History Museum and the Texas State Cemetery. The SPB provides educational programs related to Texas history, government and culture to benefit the citizens of Texas and visitors to the state. 

Philosophy − The SPB acts in accordance with the highest standards of achievement, accountability, and ethics. We manage our resources wisely as public servants and stewards of some of the State of Texas's most important historical and architectural resources. We strive to maintain a productive working environment where each person is valued and where all staff can work together positively to accomplish common and individual goals. We are driven by our commitment to excellence and our appreciation of the lessons of history and the value of the past as a teacher for the future. 

I have italicized two phrases that refer to the historical education role of the Board. Clearly, if the wording on the plaque is incorrect, the Board has the responsibility to correct the historical errors.

While universities and colleges, city and county offices, and schools have removed Confederate memorials, about a dozen monuments remain at the state Capitol. These include three large monuments on the grounds, one of which features the Confederate flag and another which honor fallen Confederate soldiers. (Please see “The Hidden Confederate History of the Texas Capitol: An Unofficial Guide” for more information.