Posts tagged ‘Tennessee’

National organization recognizes battlefield preservation champions from Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee

(Chattanooga, Tenn.)
 – During a ceremony this evening Fairyland Club on Lookout Mountain, the Civil War Trust, a national battlefield preservation organization, will recognize three outstanding historic preservation advocates with its Chairman’s Awards for Achievement.  The awards, presented by the Trust’s chairman, Henry E. Simpson, will honor Alabama historian Daniel Fulenwider, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park historian James Ogden and Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association executive director Mary Ann Peckham.

“The long term commitment to historic preservation and education demonstrated by each member of this trio is inspirational,” said Simpson.  “Their enthusiasm for American history knows no bounds and their work will continue to benefit the public for generations to come.”

For more than two decades, Daniel Fulenwider of Cullman County, Ala., has worked to promote appreciation and understanding of “Streight’s Raid” — Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest’s pursuit of Col. Abel D. Streight across north Alabama in the spring of 1863.  He has led tours of the campaign for military personnel from 27 countries and has traversed the entire route, from Mississippi to Georgia, on foot.  He was instrumental in orchestrating the Trust’s efforts to purchase of land at Hog Mountain, scene of fighting during the Battle of Day’s Gap, and continues to be involved in efforts to promote and interpret the site.

Mary Ann Peckham is the Executive Director of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association a statewide organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Tennessee Civil War Battlefields.   She retired from the National Park Service in December 2000, after serving in six National Park areas.  Her final assignment was as Superintendent of Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tenn.  In addition to her work with TCWPA, she is active with a number of area conservation organizations, including serving on the advisory board of the Southeast Region of the Land Trust for Tennessee.

Since 1988, James Ogden has been the historian for Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.  Earlier in his career, he done interpretive and research work for the Maryland Park Service at Point Lookout State Park, site of the largest Civil War prison, and for the National Park Service at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Russell Cave National Monument and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.  Ogden speaks regularly on aspects of the Civil War to historical organizations and leads tours of battlefields throughout Georgia and Tennessee.  He has taught Civil War history courses for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, published a variety of articles and appeared on both A&E’s “Civil War Journal” and the History Channel’s “Civil War Combat.”

Beyond his involvement with the Civil War Trust, Simpson is a member of the law firm Adams and Reese/Lange Simpson, LLP in Birmingham, Ala.  He has previously served as a lecturer at the University of Alabama, the state chairman of the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society and the state chairman of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States.  Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds.  To date, the Trust has preserved nearly 30,000 acres of battlefield in 20 states.  Learn more at, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.


Archaeologists comb newly-found Civil War POW camp

By RUSS BYNUM Associated Press

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — When word reached Camp Lawton that the enemy army of Gen. William T. Sherman was approaching, the prison camp’s Confederate officers rounded up their thousands of Union army POWs for a swift evacuation — leaving behind rings, buckles, coins and other keepsakes that would remain undisturbed for nearly 150 years.

Archaeologists are still discovering unusual, and sometimes stunningly personal, artifacts a year after state officials revealed that a graduate student had pinpointed the location of the massive but short-lived Civil War camp in southeast Georgia.

In this undated photo provided by Georgia Southern University, an 1863 Grocer’s Token made of bronze is shown at Camp Lawton a Civil War-era POW facility, near Millen, Ga. This token was issued in Niles, Michigan by C.A. Colby & Co. Wholesale Groceries and Bakery. It circulated for the value of a cent. Camp Lawton was built by the Confederacy to house about 10,000 prisoners of war. But it abandoned after being used for only about six weeks in 1864 before Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s army arrived and burned the camp. Archaeologists say they’re still discovering unusual, and sometimes stunningly personal, artifacts abandoned by prisoners of war at the massive but short-lived Civil War camp a year after state officials revealed a Georgia Southern University graduate student had pinpointed its location in southeast Georgia. (AP Photo/Georgia Southern University, Amanda L. Morrow)

Discoveries made as recently as a few weeks ago were being displayed Thursday at the Statesboro campus of Georgia Southern University. They include a soldier’s copper ring bearing the insignia of the Union army’s 3rd Corps, which fought bloody battles at Gettysburg and Manassas, and a payment token stamped with the still-legible name of a grocery store in Michigan.

“These guys were rousted out in the middle of the night and loaded onto trains, so they didn’t have time to load all this stuff up,” said David Crass, an archaeologist who serves as director of Georgia’s Historic Preservation Division. “Pretty much all they had got left behind. You don’t see these sites often in archaeology.”

Camp Lawton’s obscurity helped it remain undisturbed all these years. Built about 50 miles south of Augusta, the Confederate camp imprisoned about 10,000 Union soldiers after it opened in October 1864 to replace the infamous Andersonville prison. But it lasted barely six weeks before Sherman’s army arrived and burned it during his march from Atlanta to Savannah.

Barely a footnote in the war’s history, Camp Lawton was a low priority among scholars. Its exact location was never verified. While known to be near Magnolia Springs State Park, archaeologists figured the camp was too short-lived to yield real historical treasures.

That changed last year when Georgia Southern archaeology student Kevin Chapman seized on an offer by the state Department of Natural Resources to pursue his master’s thesis by looking for evidence of Camp Lawton’s stockade walls on the park grounds.

Chapman ended up stunning the pros, uncovering much more than the remains of the stockade’s 15-foot pine posts. On neighboring land owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he dug up remnants of the prisoners themselves — a corroded tourniquet buckle, a tobacco pipe with teeth marks in the stem and a folded frame that once held a daguerreotype.

“They’re not just buttons and bullets,” Chapman said. “They’re little pieces of the story, and this is not the story of battles and generals. This is the story of little people whose names have been forgotten by history that we’re starting to piece together and be able to tell.”

A year later, Chapman says he and fellow archaeology students working at Camp Lawton have still barely scratched the surface. In July, they used a metal detector to sweep two narrow strips about 240 yards long in the area where they believe prisoners lived.

They found a diamond-shaped 3rd Corps badge that came from a Union soldier’s uniform. Nearby was the ring with the same insignia soldered onto it.

The artifacts also yield clues to what parts of the country the POWs came from, including the token issued by a grocery store in Niles, Mich., that customers could use like cash to buy food. Stamped on its face was the merchant’s name: G.A. Colbey and Co. Wholesale Groceries and Bakery.

Similarly, there’s a buckle that likely clasped a pair of suspenders bearing the name of Nanawanuck Manufacturing Company in Massachusetts.

Hooks and buckles that appear to have come off a Union knapsack also hint that, despite harsh living conditions, captors probably allowed their Union prisoners to keep essentials like canteens and bedrolls.

The Georgia Southern University Museum plans to add the new artifacts to its public collection from Camp Lawton in October along with a related acquisition — a letter written by one of the camp’s prisoners on Nov. 14, 1864, just eight days before Lawton was abandoned and prisoners were taken back to Andersonville and other POW camps.

The letter written by Charles H. Knox of Schroon Lake, N.Y., a Union corporal in the 1st Connecticut Cavalry, was purchased from a Civil War collector in Tennessee. Unaware that Camp Lawton will soon be evacuated, Knox writes to his wife that he hopes to soon be freed in a prisoner exchange between the warring armies.

He doesn’t write much about conditions at the prison camp, but rather worries about his family. He tells his wife that if she and their young son need money for food or clothing, there’s a man who owes him $9. Knox also gives his wife permission to sell the family’s cow.

Brent Tharp, director of the campus museum, said his growing collection from Camp Lawton has definitely drawn Civil War buffs to visit from far beyond southeast Georgia.

“The people who are real Civil War buffs and fanatics, those are definitely coming,” Tharp said. “But I think we’ve also created a whole new group of Civil War buffs here because it’s right here in their own backyard.”

Steamboat SULTANA biographical information

The following information is from Way’s Packet Directory 1848-1994 compiled by Frederick Way Jr. The SULTANA is vessel number 5216 in the directory.


SW p wh b. Cincinnati, Oh., 660 tons. 260×42 (39 ft. floor) x 7. Engines, 25’s – 8 ft. Four tubular boilers, quite a fad at the time, each 46″ by 18 ft., having twenty-four 5″ flues. Paddlewheels 34 ft. dia. working 11 ft. buckets. Built at the John Litherbury yard, and machinery by Moore and Richardson. Launched Jan. 3, 1863, in a double ceremony, the LUMINARY, – almost a duplicate, also being launched. Built for Capt. Pres Lodwick, well known on the Upper Mississippi for his NORTHERN BELLE and NORTHERN LIGHT (both see) and was designated for the New Orleans trade. Due to the uncertainties of war, she was entered int the trade Cincinnati-Wheeling on February 12, which she continued until mid-March. In charge of the office was W.H. Cropper, with Charles Matthews, second clerk. J.W. Keniston was chief engineer. She then loaded for Nashville under U.S. auspices. Joe Curtis looked up the old U.S. Custom files at Memphis for 1864 and she first appears downbound for New Orleans on January 25, Capt. Lodwick. She was sold at St. Louis in early March 1864 to a number of firms and citizens of that place, also her new skipper Capt. J. Cass Mason, and first clerk W.J. Gamboel. They ran her St. Louis-New Orleans. Capt. Mason, about 34, was born in Lynchburg, Va., and was brought to Missouri as a child. He boated on the A.B. CHAMBERS and lately had been clerk and master of ROWENA i the Memphis trade. First clerk Gamboel lived in Glasgow, Mo., and had been a steamboat agent at Kansas City. The Memphis Custom’s entries show that due to the war she was forced to return to St. Louis from that port until along in August when she apparently went on through. On Feb. 9, 1865, Capt. J. Cass Mason, she departed Memphis for New Orleans. She was back at Memphis February 26, and returned to New Orleans from there. On Apr. 26, 1865, she cleared Memphis upbound, Capt. Mason. A notation on the Custom record: “Burned and 1600 persons perished.”

Ill-fated Sultana, Helena, Arkansas, on or about April 26, 1865

The Customs clerk used an approximation. The life-loss afterwards was set at 1,547 lives, at least 1,100 of whom were U.S. soldiers mustered out and returning to Northern homes. A popular and widespread belief was that Confederate spies had secreted dynamite in the coal bunkers, but three of her boilers had exploded without any help from spies. True, she had been having boiler trouble at Vicksburg where the troops came aboard. Nathan Wintringer, chief engineer, later testified that one boiler had been repaired there to his satisfaction. Capt. Speed, U.S.A. ordered 1,886 troops aboard this SULTANA which legally was allowed 376 persons, including the crew. It was common talk there at Vicksburg that two other large steamers, PAULINE CARROLL and LADY GAY, both bid for portions of these troops but were turned down. Landings were made at Helena, Ark. (where a photographer took a picture of her with the soldiers aboard), and another at Memphis. The night leaving Memphis was described as black with a thunderstorm gathering. A few miles above that city, in the crossing at Paddy’s Hen and Chickens, the explosion torched a ruddy glare among the cottonwoods of Tennessee and Arkansas and a dull rumble shook the countryside. The storm broke at the same time.

On the downbound trip to New Orleans, the last she made, the SULTANA carried the shocking news of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln to towns and hamlets cut off from all communication save what arrived by river. Now as she returned the nation’s newspapers were loaded with columns of excitement: J. Wilkes Booth had been located and killed; Lee had surrendered; the President was dead. A country geared to appalling losses took the SULTANA disaster with seeming indifference. The explosion happened early morning Apr. 27, 1865.

See S&D Reflector, issue June 1965, pages 10-12; also September 1965, page 12.

[Source: Way, Frederick Jr., Way’s packet directory, 1848-1994: passenger steamboats of the Mississippi River system since the advent of photography in mid-continent America, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio., 1994, p. 436.]

The SULTANA was built at the John Litherbury Shipyard in Cincinnati, Ohio.

According to Bill Judd on, “The Litherbury yard was on Eastern Ave. (now Riverside Drive) just about where the big crane is located at Cincinnati Barge & Rail terminal, what we old timers refer to as Sheet Metal. The Verdin Bell Co. plant is also close by. That would be in the 3000 block of Riverside Drive. The 131 3rd. address was the Litherbury residence. The Weeks shipyard was just downstream from Litherbury’s and John Litherbury was married to a Weeks daughter. One reason researchers have a rough time in this area is because it was known as Fulton and not in the Cincinnati Corporation until about the 1860’s.”

The 1860 Cincinnati City Directory lists John Litherbury at 165 E. Third Street.

The same directory also lists the following:
Ship Chandlers
Barker, Hart & Cook 44 Pub. Landing
Isham & Fisher 47 Pub. Landing

Steamboat Agents
Athearn & Hibbard 5 E. Front
Bennet, A. 14 Landing
Brown, H.W. & Co. 25 E. Front
Cox & Fulton 7 E. Front
Cunningham & Heron 22 W. Front
Irwin & Co. 22 Broadway
Johnston, Geo. L & Co. 29 W. Front
M’Burnie Theoph., 3 E. Front
Paul & Murdock 13 Water
Ross & Co. 33 Sycamore
Schram, A.D., 23 Walnut
Sherlock, Thomas 20 Broadway

Steamboat Builders
Hambleton, S.T. & Co. 1215 E. Front
Horsley & Ehler 248 W. Front
Johnson, Morton & Co. 585 Front

Steamboat Inspectors
Custom House Building
Guthrie, James V. 422 W. 6th
Haldeman, Thos. J. 57 E. 4th

Boat Stores
Barker, Hart & Cook 44 Public Landing
Cullen, James 46 Public Landing
Isham & Fisher 47 Public Landing
Witte, Ferdinand 17 E. Front

The 1863 Cincinnati City Directory lists: Litherbury, John, saw mill, s.s. E. Front e. of Willow, b. 131 E. Third

Tennessee, Virginia to travel to Bristol for Civil War archives project

BRISTOL, Va. (AP) — Tennessee and Virginia are teaming up in Bristol to collect Civil War documents and artifacts brought in by residents of both states.

Archivists from the two Civil War battlefield states will be in Bristol on May 24 and May 25 at the Public Library, which is on the Virginia side of Bristol.

Virginia and Tennessee are collecting records from residents in their respective states, part of an effort to create digital records from the Civil War years. In Bristol, they’ll scan documents and artifacts brought in by residents of both states.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives, the Tennessee State Museum and the Library of Virginia are behind the archiving project.

Both states are amid projects to document diaries, records and personal stories from the war.

Letters: Civil War over Southern tax dollars

Knoxville News Sentinel

What caused the Civil War? Most say slavery because that is what history books have been teaching for years.

It is true that the South did fire the first shot, but ask yourself why. President James Buchanan in his last days of office seemed to ignore the issue. When President Abraham Lincoln came to office he did nothing to prevent the war. He was not sworn in until March 4, 1861. He slipped into Washington in late February because of death threats. There were three peace commissioners trying to get an audience with Buchanan and then with Lincoln with no avail. Instead Lincoln was secretly planning to send reinforcements to Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens in Pensacola Bay.

There were many events taking place leading up to the firing on Fort Sumter. So what was the cause of the war? Was it taxes, tariffs, state rights, slavery, greed, corruption, ambition and hatred? All of these were factors leading to the war.

There is an answer! The North fought for the right to rule another section of the country and thus collect taxes. The federal government would collapse without Southern tax dollars or new taxes the Northerners would have to pay.

The South has no ambitions to conquer other portions of the country. So why did the South fight? Because the South was invaded! The power to rule and collect taxes has been one of the primary causes for wars throughout the history of this world.

Sam S. Forrester


Little church that made it through Civil War celebrates recovery from flood

The waters of the Little Harpeth River engulfed Harpeth Presbyterian Church last May. / SUBMITTED

Written by Vicky Travis  The Tennessean 

HARPETH, Tenn. – What’s a little water to a 200-year-old, Civil-War-surviving church? To quote the pastor: Just one more thing.

Harpeth Presbyterian Church on Hillsboro Road just west of Brentwood took on about 2 feet of water throughout its sanctuary, hallways and offices during last May’s flood. The sanctuary reopened in November after its members, led by Pastor David Jones, worked to repair their beloved church.

We’re not talking about just the building here.

“Something like that just rocks everybody,” says Jones, who still feels a whiff of anxiety on gray days. “But when I saw the number of members who showed up while it was still flooding, I knew it would be OK.”

OK, that is, whether they had a building there or not.

With the exception of that flooded-out Sunday, church services never stopped.

“After 200 years, we might have a little chip on our shoulder about that,” Pastor Jones said with a laugh.

The church, built in 1831, withstood the Civil War. It’s also been flooded before. In the 1970s, a tree fell and blocked the Little Harpeth River and its levee blew out, says Jones.

Floodwaters from the Little Harpeth River spilled into Harpeth Presbyterian‘s sanctuary last May. / SUBMITTED

Yet the Easter season is about renewal. And for this church of 350, renewal is a blessed word with lots of meanings.

“This Easter is a very special time for us,” says Jones, who has pastored at Harpeth for 12 years. “It’s about new life.”

A year after the flood, the church is inviting the community to celebrate its renewal and its new relationships with its neighbors in the squeaky clean sanctuary, which reopened in November. The Flood 2010: Celebrating how God provides will be the theme at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. services on Sunday. A potluck will follow at noon. Speakers from the Wildwood neighborhood and Pastor Jones will share flood stories of hope.

Rise, fall and rise again

When the Little Harpeth River, which is right next to the church grounds, started rising on May 1, 2010, church members started filling bags with sand from the playground to stack against the signature red doors. Eventually, that effort was abandoned as the water rose and covered the sanctuary, offices and hallways in about 2 feet of water. It receded quickly, but it started raining again, so members moved pews, which were already wet on the bottom, up the hallway to the fellowship room, which is about 2 feet higher than the sanctuary. They also moved furniture and whatever they could grab from offices to that higher ground.

The water rose again on May 2 again spilling into the sanctuary, hallways and offices, across a playground, up the six or so steps on the outside door of the fellowship hall. And it finally stopped inches short of the door. “That was a double blessing,” says Pastor David Jones. Gratitude washed over them as did an urgent sense to go help someone else.

Photos of those days (and there are tons of them) remind Jones of the strength of the congregation and the volunteer spirit that spread miles around them. “Your pain is what you bring,” he says. Because members felt the pain of their own church — their safe place — flooded, they worked extra hard with their flooded neighbors. “We were one of them,” says Jones. “We understand. We know what it feels like.” About 10 households of church members were flooded, too.

So many members showed up to help at the church on Monday morning, May 3, that about two-thirds of them were sent off to Wildwood and Cottonwood subdivisions to help bail folks out there. When they heard of the huge need in Bellevue, they later went there, too.


The church suffered about $300,000 in flood damage. And there was one more thing to be grateful for: flood insurance. “We had to have it,” said Jones. “We’re in a floodplain.”

In fact, Jones and church member Ruth Knab tell the story of this church on this godforsaken land. In 1831, 20 years after the congregation started, a land-owner gave the low-lying land on Hillsboro Road next to the Little Harpeth River to the church. And until 1950, the church had just a dirt floor.

“Ironically, we’re on some of the most worthless land in Williamson County,” says Jones. “But it’s priceless to us.”

After the damage, Jones worried whether the building would be repairable. Once it was clear the foundation was OK, repairing was the plan. If they hadn’t been able to repair and had tried to sell, Jones and Knab guesstimate that they’d get next to nothing for it.

With the help of people in the congregation such as a contractor, a woodworker and many others, the church building was fully restored in November, seven months after the disaster.

Could it happen again? “I’m not worried,” says Jones.

Since then, Tennessee Department of Transportation has built a better levee on that part of the Little Harpeth River.

This story isn’t really about the building.

“God’s not through with us yet,” says Jones.


The Flood 2010: Celebrating how God provides
When: 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday, May 1. Potluck at noon.
Where: Harpeth Presbyterian, 3077 Hillsboro Road, Harpeth, Tennessee
More info:

Contact Vicky Travis at or find her on Facebook.

A Soldier’s Story [Sultana Remembered]

A new website was launched last month called Sultana Remembered by the Association of Sultana Descendants and Friends. This is one of their stories.

“A Soldier’s Story” – from the Sultana

In April of this year, seventy-five members of the Association of Sultana Descendants and Friends came to the Carter House, the centerpiece of the Battle of Franklin, TN of November 30, 1865.  The visit was an important part of their tour of the Franklin battlefield area because many of them had an ancestor who was part of the Union army which defended itself against General Hood’s Confederates on November 30, 1864.

Most of the soldiers who were captured at Franklin ended up on the ill-fated steamer, the Sultana.  This boat, which exploded and burned to the waterline on April 27, 1865, was carrying approximately 2,400 recently released prisoners of war on their way home from Confederate prisons.  This event stands today as this country’s worst marine disaster.

The group listened in fascination as Carter House Historian David Fraley recounted the events leading up to and including the action around the Carter House.  It was agreed by all that his presentation  helped everyone see and feel what the soldiers and sequestered members of the Carter family felt on that day.

Ill-fated Sultana, Helena, Arkansas, on or about April 26, 1865

For those whose ancestors stood on this very ground it was an especially moving experience.  My own great-great grandfather, Pvt. Adam Schneider, 183rd Ohio Infantry, had been mustered into this newly formed regiment just weeks before in Cincinnati,  where he and his family had emigrated from Germany in 1854.  He was a “standby,” or a “100% man,” who was called into service when one of the original draftees from the city’s 12th Ward couldn’t fulfill his obligation.

At 42, he was three years shy of the cutoff age for the draft at that time.  When his regiment headed for Franklin after only three weeks of training, he left a wife and three small daughters at home.

Arriving at Franklin after joining Schofield’s army at Spring Hill, most of the183rd was placed near the Carter House among veteran troops, with the thought that Hood would not attempt a frontal assault against the entrenched Union army.  Of course, that is exactly what he did and my grandfather was captured that day, taken to Cahaba Prison near Selma, Alabama, and ultimately ended up on the Sultana that following April. I am sure he boarded the boat happily anticipating being reunited with his family.

He never had that reunion.  He, and nearly 1,800 others died when a faulty boiler exploded just after midnight as the boat made its way up the three-mile wide river, seven miles north of Memphis.  The water was frigid and the prisoners were fragile;  the death toll was fearful.

For many reasons, I’m sorry that grandpa Schneider didn’t survive.  Life without him was hard and sad for my great-great-grandmother, who now had to raise her children alone.  She never remarried and lived on the $12/month veterans’ survivor pension until her death in 1912, when another marine disaster, the sinking of the Titanic, shocked the world.  Her children never had a father, but thankfully all, including my great grandmother (Elisabeth, born in 1862) grew up to be well-adjusted adults who were happily married and raised upstanding families.

Instead of thinking of his death, I like to picture Grandpa Schneider coming back to reunions at Franklin with his family – standing at the Carter House and pointing toward distant Winstead Hill saying, “Mein Gott! What a day that was!  I can’t believe I lived to tell about it!”

—Pam Newhouse

Original article featured in The Washington Times- June 25, 2008
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