How an effort to shut down a newspaper in Edgar County, Illinois led to one of the Civil War’s most violent home front riots.
In February 1864, the raging gunfire of the American Civil War echoed far from Edgar County, Illinois, yet the conflict seemed fearfully close to home. In the small east-central Illinois town of Paris, elements of the 12th and 66th Illinois Volunteer Regiments were on leave, visiting friends and relatives. “In a social way everything had been done to make their visit a pleasant one,” wrote the local Daily Beacon News, but not everyone welcomed the presence of the soldiers.
Democrats opposed to the war and to the policies of the Lincoln Administration, known as copperheads by their critics, were afraid furloughed volunteers would force them to take loyalty oaths or attempt to shut down the newspaper office of the Paris Times, a Democratic periodical.
Earlier that month, Union soldiers had paid a visit to Amos Green, editor of the Times (and a “Jeff Davis patriot” according to some), after locals in the nearby town of Kansas had reported that between 100 and 150 armed “butternuts” were converging on Paris on his orders. Under the watchful eyes of the soldiers, Green swore an oath and pledged a sum of money to prove his loyalty.
In the middle of February, a soldier named Milton York, scion of a local family known for its abolitionism and its support for the Republican Party, shot and seriously wounded an outspoken copperhead named Cooper. According to one account, the sheriff of Edgar County, William S. O’Hair, attempted to arrest the soldier, but one of York’s compatriots prevented him at the barrel of a rifle from doing so. According to the Mattoon Independent Gazette, York was eventually arrested, but the court released him on a technicality and he rejoined his regiment.Continue reading “A Confrontation in Paris”
This majestic mansion and gardens transports you back to the Victorian Era.
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Built for a prominent North Carolina slaveholder and his family, the Bellamy Mansion on Market Street in Wilmington’s Historic District is slowly being restored to its former glory. Today, you can tour the mansion and nearby servant quarters, and purchase souvenirs in the former carriage house. It’s a fascinating glimpse at a bygone era.
Designed by Wilmington architect James F. Post in 1859, this 22-room Greek Revival and Italianate-style mansion took nearly two years to build. It was completed in 1861, just as North and South were embroiled in civil war. Dr. John Dillard Bellamy (1817-1896) commissioned the home for his large family and their closest servants and slaves. Dr. Bellamy was an ardent secessionist who owned over one hundred slaves throughout North Carolina.
In early 1865, the family fled Wilmington during an outbreak of yellow fever, but wouldn’t return until the fall because the Union Army had occupied the city and were using their mansion as a headquarters. Union General Joseph Roswell Hawley wasn’t keen on returning the property to an unabashed rebel. He wrote, “having for four years been making his bed, he now must lie on it for awhile.”Continue reading “Bellamy Mansion in Wilmington, North Carolina”
Ed Moser led us on a trip into Alexandria’s complicated and exciting past.
Sunday night, a small group of history enthusiasts gathered at the Lyceum in downtown Alexandria, Virginia for a tour of that storied city’s Civil War sites. It began in the shadow of Alexandria’s Appomattox statue, a statue which epitomizes the city’s complicated place in America’s bloodiest conflict.
As a thriving trade and manufacturing city at Washington, DC’s doorstep, Alexandria was a prized possession for both North and South. The Union controlled it for almost the entire war, but it teemed with Confederate sympathizers and spies. It was also the site of the first Union casualty of the Civil War.
Our tour guide, Ed Moser, an author and former writer for the Tonight Show and speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush, highlighted many contradictions that characterized Alexandria’s role in the Civil War. This included the story of an enslaved woman who had a common law marriage with a Confederate officer. She escaped during the war and founded a school for other escaped slaves.Continue reading “Civil War History Tour of Old Town, Alexandria”
Memorial for Brig. Gen. Griffin Alexander Stedman, Jr. (1838-1864) in Cedar Hill Cemetery, 453 Fairfield Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut. Stedman spent most of his military career as an officer in the 11th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. He rose to the rank of colonel in 1864 and commanded a brigade in the XVIII Corps, Army of the Potomac. He was mortally wounded during the Siege of Petersburg and died on August 6, 1864. He was breveted the rank of brigadier general after his death and Fort Stedman was named in his honor.
Dozens assembled on Cemetery Ridge on Wednesday to commemorate the 156th Anniversary of “Pickett’s Charge” and the Civil War veteran events that followed.
The 4th of July, Independence Day, has special significance for all Americans, but it has duel significance for Civil War buffs. July 4, 1863 was the day after the Battle of Gettysburg and the day Vicksburg, Mississippi surrendered after a 47-day siege. Many consider this the turning point of the Civil War in the Union’s favor. The angle in a stone wall where Confederates briefly penetrated Union lines in an attack on Cemetery Ridge south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 3rd is considered the “high water mark” of the Confederacy.
The National Park Service held a series of events for the Battle of Gettysburg’s 156th anniversary this year, July 1-3. I was able to attend on July 3rd, which focused on the Confederate’s culminating attack known as “Pickett’s Charge”. Park guides gave presentations on various stages of the attack, from planning, to the cannonade, to its repulse, and a sizable crowd of approximately 50 to 60 people turned out. Not bad for a Wednesday afternoon.Continue reading “History Enthusiasts Commemorate ‘High Water Mark’ at Gettysburg”