One of the things I have always been fascinated about in regards to the American Civil War was the role that Great Britain played during the conflict. I will say in all honesty that in looking into that role my thoughts of views have been changed. This book takes that understanding to a new level.
At the center of the account is Robert Bunch who served as the British consul in Charleston staring several years before the war. He was staunchly anti-slavery but found that in order to actual do his job he had to put up a front to the people of the South and hide behind a false sense that he was not only a supporter of slavery, but one that was sympathetic to the southern cause.
As America spiraled towards war Bunch maintained that facade, all the while sending letters back home that provided insight into the South and its culture. Information that would go a long way towards keeping Britain from taking a more active role in the war. Eventually he was so successful in ingratiating himself into the Southern cause that he was targeted by the Union authorities and was pursued as a spy.
Dickey tells Bunch’s story in way very reminiscent of a spy novel, which makes it intriguing and even tense at times. He provides a different view of many well-known historical events ranging from the 1860 Democratic Convention that split the country and later the nation, to the first shots fired on Ft. Sumter. Bunch was there and we see these events through the eyes of man who sees the world-changing before his eyes, but is alone in a sea of chaos where even the slightest crack in his facade could mean death.
A very good and well told story. Very recommended even if you are not a Civil War person but like a good spy tryst. You may not know who Robert Bunch is at the start, but by the end you will have admiration for the man.
As always books I review are available through Amazon by clicking on the image of the book cover above!
Down in Atlanta, in a corner of Grant Park you will come across the area in the picture. People pass it everyday walking their dogs, driving by, having the kids play on the hill and in the ditch that surrounds. Odds are they don’t realize what they are passing by. See that earthen redoubt, surrounded by the ditch is what remains of Ft. Walker and is the last of the Confederate fortifications that were built to defend Atlanta during he Civil War.
Built in 1863 the redoubt was part of the 13 mile long line of defenses that surrounded Atlanta. This was the southeastern salient of the inner line and consisted of a number of redoubts on hills, with rifle pits (the ditch surrounding the hill) around the perimeter and connected to the other forts along the line.
In the 1880’s Grant Park was established the location was marked with a granite pedestal, four cannon and two bronze lions. Vandals had field days at the site and eventually in the 1980’s the cannons were finally removed after one was stolen. (If you know the location of the missing cannon please contact the author.) Later the two bronze lions also went missing. (If you know the location of the missing cannon please… ah never mind.)
In 1938 the Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association placed a monument at the site commemorating the last surviving breastwork. It went missing…. just kidding. It is still there and was rededicated in 2014 with a new granite cannon and plaque that was donated by the Georgia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
So just another case of something so significant that has sort of faded into the background. If you are in the area you should take the time to visit before it’s gone forever.
On March 5, 1770 the streets in Boston were boiling. For a number of years British soldiers had been occupying the city to enforce the Parliamentary taxes that tweaked just about every citizen in the colonies. On this night a group of young men took to taunting a British soldier standing guard in front of the Custom house on King Street. The crowd grew with other British soldiers standing in line with their comrade. Eventually verbal assaults turned to rocks and ice and other projectiles being hurled at the soldiers, the crowd yelling for the men to fire their muskets the entire time. Suddenly the soldiers did with no orders actually being given. Immediately three colonists were dead, several wounded and the events of what would eventually be called The Boston Massacre gave succor to the nascent rebellion against Great Britain.
One of the colonists killed outright was Crispus Attucks. Attucks was mixed race, African and Native American and may have been either a runaway slave or a freedman, that question has support on all sides. He was a sailor who apparently was in port after his ship had arrived from the Bahamas. Little is known about him and some of what is known has been changed and mutated over time. He holds a special place in the story of the American Revolution being one of the first colonial casualties of the conflict. History remembers him for being the first African-American (his father was from Africa, his mother a Native American, Crispus himself was born in Massachusetts) as well as the first Native American to give their life to the cause.
The teapot in the picture belonged to Crispus Attucks. A small personal item that should hopefully serve to show that no matter what history tells you about the man he was just that, a man. Albeit a man who ended up on the wrong side of a musket and helped advance the cause. The cause of the American Revolution.
The 54th Massachusetts
The 54th Massachusetts is one of the most famous units in the Federal army during the Civil War. It was one of the first volunteer African-American regiments that was raised by the North in the wake of the Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1862. There is a good chance that you may have seen the movie Glory with Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and many others. That was their story. The painting above was done by Keith Rocco and portrays the units disastrous assault on the Confederate Fort Wagner in South Carolina.
There was no shortage of black men that volunteered for the regiment, all wanting to do their part for the cause of freedom. Of course it was thought by many in the Army and the civilian leadership that these men were in capable of leadership on their own and many questioned their ability to actually fight.
So the men were given white officers to lead them and were mostly used for grunt work and manual labor. Even when the finally were deployed to the fighting they found that discrimination followed them into the fight. It took the sheer willpower of their commander, Col. Robert Gould Shaw to convince his superiors that his men could fight and they were given the chance.
In July 18th, 1863 the were chosen to lead the attack on Ft. Wagner a tough and as of yet unconquered part of the Confederacy. They were tired, they were hungry and they were tired, but they crossed the sandy beaches in front of the fort under fire and made their way to the walls. But they failed, the attack was stopped and the 54th suffered major casualties including Shaw. They stayed in the shadow of the wall waiting for reinforcements that would never come. The most important thing was they fought hard and brave and did not retreat. They set the standard for African-American troops and proved that given the chance they would fight.
The War of 1812 is an interesting and sometimes confounding conflict in American history.
From the American side the wars was fought over three things:
The English economic blockade of France was making it difficult for the US merchants to ply their trade, even though the US was a neutral party in the conflict. Often the British would stop, search and seize neutral vessels that it saw as providing support to the French. This disrespect of neutral merchants lead to much animosity between the US and Britain.
Second was the British Navy’s policy if impressment of American sailors. A better term may be kidnapping. When the American ships were stopped and searched occasionally sailors would be taken from he ships and forced to join the British navy. So close to the end of the Revolution it was often difficult for the men to prove they were American citizens and not run away British sailors.
The third issue was based on the British continuing to support the hostile Indian tribes along the frontier, which often meant using the tribes to fight proxy wars against the United States.
After several years of fighting the war ended in what can only be called a stalemate, which for the Americans was pretty much all they could ask for. This was by far a political war that the US was not ready to fight and even though by the end it accounted itself well, had it gone on any longer the outcome may have been different.
On December 24, 1814 in the town of Ghent in Belgium the American and British commissioners signed the treaty ending the war. All conquered land was returned to the original owners and a later commission was setup to formalize the US-Canada borders. Nowhere in the treaty were any of the original three complaints addressed.
That is a Nazi armband. It was worn by an actual Nazi soldier during an actual war. Very seldom in the course of writing for this blog have I allowed much in the way of personal feelings, but there is something going that just needs stopped. People here and elsewhere are going through an unbelievable amount of effort to pretend that the Nazis never happened and by doing so allowing them to be swept under the rug.
Last summer a 93-year-old man in Germany was charged as an accessory in 300,000 murders for his role as a prison guard at Auschwitz. That trial is currently under way. but it is getting less press, especially in the United States than the Apple iWatch (or whatever they are calling it). This man was a Nazi, this country went to war to stop them from carrying out their plans. That man, even at 93, is only coming to justice because what we did to end the war and end the regime that he was a part of. and this story gets barely a mention.
This is the thing. What they did was terrible and that sort of thing, not just in terms of the Holocaust, not just in the number of Jewish, Romanian, Polish, Russian, and all other races they felt unclean must never be allowed to happen again. The way to stop it i not through laws, nothing international agreements, not through erasing part of our collective history, but through remembering what they did. As each generation gets farther and farther from that truth, from that evil, it will take work to remember.
See that symbol in the picture above. That is the Nazi symbol. That armband was real and was worn by a real person that carried out their evil. we must never forget.