Speaker for Society Annual Meeting will be DHS senior, Brett Elliott–March 30 1:00 (open to public) Membership meeting follows at 3:00

By Sharon Lakey, Danville His­tor­i­cal Society

Danville High School senior, Brett Elliott, is pictured in the Little Drew cemetery in the Tampico area of North Danville. He is kneeling above what may be the oldest gravestone in Danville.

Danville High School senior, Brett Elliott, is pic­tured in the Lit­tle Drew ceme­tery in the Tampico area of North Danville. He is kneel­ing above what may be the old­est grave­stone in Danville.

Senior Brett Elliott was out of luck when work­ing out his final year’s sched­ule at Danville High School—no more his­tory courses were offered at his level. So he and his­tory teacher, Jeremy White, worked out an inde­pen­dent study oppor­tu­nity. Being a hands-on, outside-kind-of-guy, Brett decided to focus on Danville’s town ceme­ter­ies. There are 11 of these scat­tered through­out the town, and are under the juris­dic­tion of the Select Board. The largest in Danville, Danville Green, has its own gov­ern­ing organization.

Though ceme­ter­ies may seem like a strange thing for a young man to study, Brett explained it this way: “These ceme­ter­ies are one of the only ways to phys­i­cally con­nect with the past; they’re in places that used to be unique set­tle­ments in the Town. My favorites are the lit­tle, out-of-the-way ones. They are peace­ful places, not creepy at all.”

He would go ceme­tery vis­it­ing dur­ing the class period to which he was assigned. To find the ceme­ter­ies, he used infor­ma­tion on the web where he found a list­ing of and direc­tions to all the ceme­ter­ies in Danville. On one such out­ing, while vis­it­ing the Lit­tle Drew ceme­tery in the Tampico area of North Danville, he made an excit­ing dis­cov­ery. The web­site reported that no stones had been inscribed in the ceme­tery, as it is very rus­tic. But dur­ing his visit, Brett noticed one of the bur­ial stones looked odd; there were inden­tions on the face of it that looked intentional.

According to the hand-carved stone, Samuel Stevens was buried there in 1795.

Accord­ing to the hand-carved stone, Samuel Stevens was buried there in 1795.

And, sure enough, after he cleaned it off, he could read a hand-carved inscrip­tion: “Samuel Stevens was born in 1723 and died in 1795.” Think­ing he had found some­thing impor­tant, he went to the Town Clerk’s office to look up death records. There were none for a Samuel Stevens, but he did appear on the 1790 cen­sus records: a house­hold of four—three males over 16 and 1 female.

Why wasn’t there any death record?” he asked himself.

Accord­ing to Phil Somers, an avid local ceme­tery expert, there is an answer to his ques­tion. “To file a death record would cost money. The Stevens’ didn’t need to pay it, because the record was ‘writ­ten in stone.’”

On Jan­u­ary 9, Brett gave a pre­sen­ta­tion of his find­ings to the stu­dent body at Danville High School. It was so well received and inter­est­ing, we have asked him to be the speaker at our annual meet­ing on March 30.

Note: Googling “rootsweb Danville VT” will get one to the site that Brett used to locate ceme­ter­ies, as well as a wealth of other his­tor­i­cal Danville data. Most of this infor­ma­tion was gath­ered and shared by volunteers.


DHS senior, Brett Elliott–March 30 1:00 (open to public) Membership meeting follows at 3:00" onclick="return false;" style="text-decoration:none; color:#0098cc; font-size:11px; line-height:20px;"> Share
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March 1864–The Richmond Boondoggle and Tales of Assassination

By Gary Far­row, Danville His­tor­i­cal Society

Union Brigadier Gen­eral Hugh Jud­son Kil­patrick had big plans and even big­ger dreams. In des­per­a­tion, Lin­coln approved a raid by the 1st Ver­mont Cal­vary upon Rich­mond that even the Com­man­der of the Army didn’t sup­port. It was a star-crossed ven­ture with con­se­quences that no one could foretell.

March 19, 1864 Danville North Star


Colonel Ulric Dahlgren

Colonel Ulric Dahlgren

The fol­low­ing is the arti­cle in the Rich­mond Sen­tinel of the 5th, announc­ing the death of Col. Dahlgren: “The gal­lant Dahlgreen is dead. After leav­ing Rich­mond, he pro­ceeded with a por­tion of his men toward the penin­sula through the coun­try of King and Queen, where he met Lieut. Col. Pol­lard of the 9th Vir­ginia, and had a sharp encounter, in which Col. Dahlgren was shot dead. Some sev­enty or eighty of his men were cap­tured. The remain­der has joined Kil­patrick as has been already stated. Col. Dahlgren was one of the bravest men of Amer­ica, and his death will be regret­ted by all who ever knew him. He had lost a leg in the ser­vice and had just arrived at that period of con­va­les­cence when he could take the sad­dle, when he was cut down by war’s relent­less hand.

Upon his per­son were found an address to his men and a mem­o­ran­dum of the route he was to take with his com­mand, when he left Kil­patrick, where he was to go, what he was to do, when he was sup­posed to be there, and when he was to rejoin the main force.

The address to his men is a most spirit-stirring and patri­otic appeal to his sym­pa­thies and valor on behalf of their fel­low sol­diers who are suf­fer­ing impris­on­ment in the loath­some dun­geons and upon the desert islands of the Con­fed­er­acy. He begs them not to fal­ter or flag, but to fol­low him to open prison doors and putting arms into the hands of their released brethren, they would march together to kill Davis and Cab­i­net, and then return home to their friends, ready and anx­ious for fur­ther deeds of valor.”

Later accounts rep­re­sent that there is no doubt that the pre­tended address said to have been upon the per­son of Col Dahlgren was a bold forgery. This decep­tion was nec­es­sary to excuse the bru­tal­ity with which his body was treated. He was a brave, spir­ited young offi­cer, and noth­ing but the fear his true chivalry inspired could have induced the cow­ardly revenge grat­i­fied in the abuse of his life­less remains.

Con­tinue read­ing

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A Woman of Uncommon Generosity–Mary Elizabeth Goff Robinson

By Sharon Lakey, Danville His­tor­i­cal Society

Until I began to com­pile life­long infor­ma­tion, I didn’t real­ize the full range of gifts Meg was giv­ing to oth­ers through­out her life, with­out the slight­est wish for praise.” Charles A. Robin­son, 2013

Meg shares the joy at the dedication of the stained glass window she commisioned for the Danville Congregational Church, dedicated to mother, Eva Crane Goff, in 1988.

Meg shares the joy at the ded­i­ca­tion of the stained glass win­dow she com­mis­sioned for the Danville Con­gre­ga­tional Church, ded­i­cated to mother, Eva Crane Goff, in 1988.

On July 2, 2013, a mys­tery came to an end in Danville: our anony­mous donor passed at 88 years of age in Penns­bury Town­ship, Penn­syl­va­nia, and the require­ment of her anonymity was lifted. It is with humil­ity and plea­sure that I relate some of what I have learned about this remark­able woman, Meg Robin­son. Much of this knowl­edge comes to us through her hus­band, Charles, who has gra­ciously answered ques­tions and, as a good his­to­rian him­self, pro­vided doc­u­men­ta­tion of the impor­tant events of her life. Con­tinue read­ing

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February, 1864–The General and His Demons

By Gary Far­row, Danville His­tor­i­cal Society

A com­pli­cated fam­ily and men­tal ill­ness pushed and pulled a man who became one of the most accom­plished gen­er­als in the Civil War.

Sherman's Meridian campaign was a practice run for his march-to-the-sea.

Sherman’s Merid­ian cam­paign was a prac­tice run for his march-to-the-sea.

The news was slow in Feb­ru­ary ’64: Lincoln’s Eman­ci­pa­tion Procla­ma­tion decree, free­ing slaves only in rebel states, had become law Jan­u­ary 1, but its true con­se­quences had yet to be deter­mined; the win­ter months had closed down the war in Vir­ginia and reports from the eastern-centric press about events in the lower South, absent some epic bat­tle, con­tin­ued to be spotty. How­ever, there was a minor cam­paign in mid-February against a town in Mis­sis­sippi that helped cement the improb­a­ble rise of a Union com­man­der. His rela­tion­ship with U.S. Grant would cat­a­pult him to become the Gen­eral and Chief’s co-architect and col­lab­o­ra­tor in a new mil­i­tary strat­egy that was waged against the South. Con­tinue read­ing

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North Danville Village Farm Receives Vermont Century Farm Award

For-Clifs barn in the middle of North Danville village.

For-Clifs barn in the mid­dle of North Danville vil­lage. PHOTO COURTESY OF SUSAN (LANGMAID) LYNAUGH

By Patty Conly, Pres­i­dent of the Danville His­tor­i­cal Society

There is a unique charm about the quaint and pic­turesque vil­lage of North Danville, nes­tled in the north­east­ern cor­ner of Ver­mont.   It has remained essen­tially unchanged in many ways for the past cen­tury.   Just ask any­one who lives there presently or has lived there at any time in the past.  Some of the faces and names have changed, but their mem­o­ries and legacy remain through friends and rel­a­tives still liv­ing in the com­mu­nity. There is a strong sense of will­ing­ness to help one another that has endured gen­er­a­tions of fam­i­lies liv­ing in the vil­lage, as well as those liv­ing in houses or on farms on the out­skirts of town. North Danville was once bustling with mills and busi­nesses cen­tered around its prime loca­tion on the Sleep­ers River, which runs par­al­lel to the lower part of the vil­lage.  Today most of those busi­nesses are no longer in exis­tence; how­ever, sev­eral long-standing fam­ily owned farms are still thriving.

The name Lang­maid has been asso­ci­ated with farm­ing in this area for many gen­er­a­tions, and their fam­ily farms con­tinue to dot the land­scape in and around Danville. But, there is a unique char­ac­ter about the Cliff Lang­maid farm, now known as the For-Clifs farm in the heart of North Danville.  It was renamed to reflect cur­rent owner Cliff Lang­maid and his father and for­mer owner, For­rest Lang­maid.  The unique­ness lies in the fact that it is a work­ing farm sit­u­ated right in the cen­ter of the vil­lage. You sim­ply can­not pass through the North Danville with­out notic­ing the big red barn.

Clif Langmaid, Lee (Langmaid) Beattie and Plynn Beattie

Clif Lang­maid, Lee (Lang­maid) Beat­tie and Plynn Beat­tie. PHOTO BY LIZ SARGENT

In the sum­mer months, as you approach from Danville and make the turn head­ing into the vil­lage, you will likely see the emer­ald green hill­side pas­ture dot­ted with black and white Hol­steins graz­ing in the field amid yel­low dan­de­lions. If you hap­pen to drive through around milk­ing time, you may have to wait patiently as Plynn Beat­tie or Lee Lang­maid Beat­tie act as tem­po­rary “traf­fic con­trol cops” to stop cars and direct a parade of cows saun­ter­ing across the road mak­ing their way to the barn.  This is a less famil­iar sce­nario now in many small towns across Ver­mont and the North­east King­dom. How­ever, it is still a rare find in the epi­cen­ter of North Danville!  Con­tinue read­ing

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The Largest Refugee Crises Ever Created on the American Continent

By Gary Far­row, Danville His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety

Black fugitives forging the  Rappahannock river.

Black fugi­tives forg­ing the Rap­pa­han­nock river.

Civil War his­tory often gives short shrift to the fact that the con­flict pre­cip­i­tated the largest refugee cri­sis ever seen on the Amer­i­can con­ti­nent. Before we read Danville’s North Star reports for Jan­u­ary of 1864, it is nec­es­sary to under­stand how the Union was han­dling the freed­men prob­lem that was cre­ated by Lincoln’s Eman­ci­pa­tion Procla­ma­tion on Sep 22, 1862.

The Procla­ma­tion declared that if a rebel state did not return to the Union by Jan­u­ary 1, all slaves would become free. How­ever, slaves did not wait until the begin­ning of the year; they began stream­ing toward Union lines and the refugee cri­sis was on. One reporter wrote, “There were men, women and chil­dren in every state of dis­ease or decrepi­tude often nearly naked with flesh torn by the ter­ri­ble expe­ri­ences of their escape.” But if ex-slaves thought they had a bet­ter life, they were often mis­taken. “Often the slaves met prej­u­dices against their color more bit­ter than they had left behind.” Con­tinue read­ing

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Annual Celebratory Burn at Greenbank’s

Dave Houston and Hollis Prior are good company at the annual picnic.

Dave Hous­ton and Hol­lis Prior are good com­pany at the annual picnic.

Come join Hol­lis Prior and Dave Hous­ton on Sun­day, Jan­u­ary 12 at 1:00, to help cel­e­brate and honor the work that has been done at the his­toric park in Greenbank’s Hollow.

There will be the tra­di­tional bon­fire, burn­ing brush that has been gath­ered through­out the year (not to men­tion the extra­or­di­nary hot dogs, baked beans, mulled cider and s’mores–all free!) Hope to see you there.

Hosted by the Greenbank’s Hol­low his­toric park com­mit­tee and the Danville VT His­tor­i­cal Society.

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Celebrating a Pioneer Journey

Hertel with Jennifer (Balivet) Roper and Rob Balivet.

Her­tel with Jen­nifer (Balivet) Roper and Rob Balivet.

By Patty Conly, Danville His­tor­i­cal Society

A large and enthu­si­as­tic crowd enjoyed Autumn On (tem­porar­ily off) the Green, held on Sun­day, Octo­ber 6, despite the threat­en­ing gray skies and cool tem­per­a­tures of early Octo­ber. The weather, how­ever, was not a deter­rent for the array of craft and food ven­dors who par­tic­i­pated. Shop­pers enjoyed brows­ing and vis­it­ing with friends and neigh­bors from far and near while lis­ten­ing to an assort­ment of musi­cal groups as they per­formed for the festivities.

The Danville His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety acted as host for Mr. Her­tel Boisvert along with his grand­daugh­ter Heidi Hop­per, her hus­band and young son from Danville, Que­bec. Mr. Boisvert pro­moted his new book based on a daily travel jour­nal kept by his wife, Mar­garet, dur­ing their four­teen day jour­ney in a chuck wagon. The trip began on Danville Fair day, 1960, and the cou­ple, along with a bor­rowed dog, made the trip from Danville, Ver­mont, to Danville, Que­bec. It was planned to coin­cide with Danville, Quebec’s cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion and to com­mem­o­rate the twin­ning of the two towns and the pio­neers who once made a sim­i­lar journey.

Carmen (Calkins) Bigelow enjoyed visiting with Hertel. Howard and Alice Calkins, Carmen's parents, hosted the Boisvert's before their historic trip.

Car­men (Calkins) Bigelow enjoyed vis­it­ing with Her­tel. Howard and Alice Calkins, Carmen’s par­ents, hosted the Boisverts before their his­toric trip. Heidi, Hertel’s grand­daugh­ter, is pic­tured in the background.

Mr. Boisvert was greeted dur­ing the day by sev­eral fam­ily mem­bers of peo­ple he met dur­ing his jour­ney; he enjoyed shar­ing mem­o­ries and sto­ries with them. As he auto­graphed copies of his book, he expressed a great sense of pride and accom­plish­ment in this attempt to keep mem­o­ries alive for gen­er­a­tions to come to help strengthen the con­nec­tion between the sis­ter towns. The Danville His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety exhibit fea­tured a time­line map of the chuck wagon trip with pho­tographs, busi­ness adver­tise­ments and news­pa­per arti­cles of the time. Vis­i­tors at the booth were able to enjoy rem­i­nisc­ing about famil­iar peo­ple and places at stops where the chuck wagon made along the way. The map and sto­ries allowed a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the mag­ni­tude and dif­fi­culty of such a journey.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Danville, Que­bec, His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety was also on hand at the event and stated that plans are cur­rently being made to insure that future cel­e­bra­tions and events will keep com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­nec­tions between the two towns.

The book is beautiful and has photos taken during the trip, American and Canadian. Both paperback ($10) and hardbound ($20) are available for purchase at the Choate-Sias house in Danville, VT.

The book is beau­ti­ful and has pho­tos taken dur­ing the trip, Amer­i­can and Cana­dian. Both paper­back ($10) and hard­bound ($20) are avail­able for purchase.

Mr. Boisvert’s book is avail­able at the Danville His­tor­i­cal Society’s Choate-Sias House in both hard­cover and paper­back for­mat for those inter­ested in pur­chas­ing a copy.


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Dec 1863–Fugitive Slave Law Schizophrenia in the North, King Cotton Implodes in the South and the Civil War is not Over

By Gary Far­row, Danville His­tor­i­cal Society

Runaway Slave advertisement

Run­away Slave advertisement

The oblig­a­tion of states to return run­away slaves was writ­ten into the Con­sti­tu­tion; how­ever, the issue became a bar­gain­ing chip in the great Com­pro­mise of 1850 and con­tin­ued to be a light­ning rod between North and South in the run up to the war. Once the war did begin, the Con­fed­er­ate gov­ern­ment in the South devel­oped the strat­egy of King Cot­ton diplo­macy to lever­age their might and get their way with Great Britain. The deci­sion in 1861 would prove to be dis­as­trous. Although the war offi­cially ended four years later with Lee’s sur­ren­der of Grant at Appo­mat­tox, for some today–it still isn’t over!

Decem­ber 5, 1863 Danville North Star

The fugi­tive slave law is now and then enforced in Wash­ing­ton. A case occurred on Sat­ur­day in which a negro boy was claimed by a cit­i­zen of Mary­land. The owner on tak­ing the oath of loy­alty and prov­ing own­er­ship had his slave returned to him.


The Fugi­tive Slave Act of 1850 that was on the books at the time had its roots in a clause writ­ten by our found­ing fathers into the Con­sti­tu­tion: “No Per­son held to Ser­vice or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escap­ing into another, shall, in Con­se­quence of any Law or Reg­u­la­tion therein, be dis­charged from such Ser­vice or Labour, but shall be deliv­ered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Ser­vice or Labour may be due.” The pro­vi­sion was also more right­eously called the “Fugi­tives from Labor Clause.”

A Slave Catcher Warning

A Slave Catcher Warning

In essence, the law required com­plic­ity and assis­tance of North­ern states in enforc­ing slave labor laws in the South. How­ever, by 1850 the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal land­scape had changed dra­mat­i­cally. Over time many North­ern states enacted legal means to sub­vert the Con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sion and the law that sup­ported it. “Per­sonal lib­erty laws” in North­ern states made jury tri­als a pre­req­ui­site to the return of any slave and for­bade local or state offi­cials from effec­tively imple­ment­ing the Fugi­tive Slave law.

The influ­ence of the stri­dent abo­li­tion­ist move­ment, which hated both the sin of slav­ery and the slave­holder alike, drove much of the resis­tance. South­ern elites coun­tered with their own the­o­log­i­cal con­struct; by mak­ing the Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ist argu­ment that slav­ery was “divinely inspired” and cit­ing the fact that there are numer­ous bib­li­cal ref­er­ences to slav­ery, they argued the prac­tice is not explic­itly cited as a sin.

But the heat upon the South con­tin­ued to increase with some reli­gious groups, such as the Quak­ers, work­ing to help slaves escape from the South through the Under­ground Rail­road which spir­ited blacks north and on to as far as Canada. The con­flict between the two regions had esca­lated beyond the reli­gious and philo­soph­i­cal to the eco­nomic with pas­sions ris­ing accordingly.

Racist sen­ti­ment in the North remained strong with many peo­ple who did not want blacks in their midst. Despite these feel­ings among many whites, there were pock­ets in the North where run­away slaves and their fam­i­lies could live, farm and pros­per. One such place was Cass County in Michi­gan. This cap­tured the atten­tion of slave hold­ers in Ken­tucky, who in 1847 and 1849 con­ducted raids upon the county to take back their property.

By 1850, the coun­try was com­ing apart, and South­ern states threat­ened to secede. How­ever, a Civil War was averted for 11 years because Sen­a­tors Henry Clay of Ken­tucky and Stephen Dou­glas of Illi­nois bro­kered a deal. One of the most con­tentious issues was whether new states would come into the Union slave or free. So as part of the great com­pro­mise of 1850, US ter­ri­to­ries were split in half by a nego­ti­ated line that pro­vided the geog­ra­phy above it would come in as free states, and all new states below as slave. The new states of Maine and Mis­souri, the for­mer free and the lat­ter slave, were admit­ted to the Union as part of the deal that main­tained the Con­gres­sional bal­ance of power between slave inter­ests and those who opposed it.

In addi­tion, the South demanded in the 1850 Com­pro­mise a new and more robust Fugi­tive Slaves Act. The law effec­tively imposed a $28,000 (in today’s pur­chas­ing power) fine on any US mar­shal or any other law-enforcement offi­cial who did not arrest a run­away slave. His owner merely had to present a sworn tes­ti­mony of own­er­ship. Those who aided and abet­ted those slaves were sub­ject to the same fine and impris­on­ment for six months.

But the Com­pro­mise would prove to be a band-aid; it was a cat­a­lyst for even more North­ern resis­tance against slav­ery and led to the proxy war in Kansas between Free-Soilers and slave inter­ests. Kansas would see its own guer­rilla war orga­nized and funded by com­pet­ing inter­ests in the North and the South. Two sep­a­rate governments–one free, one slave—were in con­test for power within its bor­ders. And the his­toric 1858 debate between two Illi­nois can­di­dates for the Sen­ate, Lin­coln and Dou­glas, occurred. Lin­coln argued that Kansas be admit­ted to the Union as a free state, because slav­ery was immoral; Stephen Dou­glas thought that “pop­u­lar sov­er­eignty” should be main­tained and that the peo­ple of the state should decide the slave ques­tion for them­selves. This ques­tion would be one of the issues that caused the coun­try to come apart at the seams three years later.

The expe­ri­ence of that black boy in the nation’s cap­i­tal on a Sat­ur­day after­noon in Decem­ber of 1863, in the midst of a civil war, was reflec­tive of our country’s tor­tured his­tory. By virtue of the great Com­pro­mise of 1850, slave trade had been banned in Wash­ing­ton DC ‚and yet the young man, who escaped the Union state of Mary­land, where slav­ery was a Con­sti­tu­tional right and pro­tected by the fugi­tive slave pro­vi­sion of an eleven-year-old law, was given back to his owner and sent back into human bondage.

War and Gen­eral New Items

It is said that the cot­ton which will be thrown into the mar­ket by our occu­pa­tion of Texas will amount to 250,000 bales.


King CottonAt the end of his life, US Grant wrote in his mem­oirs that the Civil War would not have hap­pened with­out the cot­ton gin. Eli Whitney’s inven­tion of this machine, back in 1794, enabled the cul­ti­va­tion of cot­ton in many areas of the coun­try, includ­ing the Deep South. The gin breathed new life into the prac­tice of slav­ery by mak­ing cot­ton farm­ing more pro­duc­tive and eco­nom­i­cally sustainable.

By 1861 cot­ton had become as impor­tant to the global econ­omy as oil is today. The entire South was depen­dent on this cash crop that was America’s num­ber one export. For the Con­fed­er­acy, cot­ton was the rev­enue spigot to fund the gov­ern­ment and buy arms. It also pro­vided the South con­sid­er­able lever­age in nego­ti­a­tions with pow­er­ful coun­tries in Europe, espe­cially Britain.

In fact, the rebel gov­ern­ment crafted much of its diplo­matic strat­egy on a crop that could become fod­der for the boll wee­vil. The locust did not come to pass; how­ever, the South did much to shoot itself in the foot. The weapon that was the tool of this self-inflicted strat­egy was called King Cot­ton diplo­macy. The goal was to force Britain to for­mally rec­og­nize the Con­fed­er­ate States of Amer­ica as an inde­pen­dent nation, sup­ply arma­ments for the war and per­haps enter the con­flict on the South’s behalf. In a move that in hind­sight seems to be a case of “cut­ting your nose off to spite your face,” the Con­fed­er­acy decided to cut off cot­ton sup­plies to Eng­land, its biggest trad­ing part­ner and a dom­i­nant player in the global tex­tile industry.

Before the Civil War, the South was send­ing about 678 mil­lion bales of cot­ton to Great Britain, rep­re­sent­ing about three-quarters of the island’s man­u­fac­tur­ing con­sump­tion. In order to kick-off the King Cot­ton pro­gram, the South set 2.5 mil­lion bales afire to cre­ate a cot­ton short­age. The Con­fed­er­acy could then export less than half of the commodity’s orig­i­nal amount. To make mat­ters worse, Jef­fer­son Davis for­got to take into account that the bumper crops through­out the 1850’s had been shipped to Britain. Over the three or four years lead­ing up to the Civil War, its trad­ing part­ner had built up a stock­pile of one-million bales before the war began.

Britain was able to wait out the “cot­ton famine” well into 1862. When cot­ton drought did come, the price per bale shot through the roof, going from ten-cents a pound in 1860 to $1.89 a pound in ’63 –’64. But nar­cis­sism had caused the South to unknow­ingly give up their place in the catbird’s seat. After the Con­fed­er­acy had lit the match in ‘61 to mil­lions of bales in the name of King Cot­ton, Great Britain had turned to other export­ing nations like Egypt, Brazil and India.

From ’63 on, the South was able to use cot­ton to barter with British man­u­fac­tur­ers to sup­ply them with weaponry, ammu­ni­tion, and ships. The Union block­ade of South­ern coast­lines also depressed the avail­abil­ity of cot­ton and helped cre­ate a black mar­ket for the crop, allow­ing block­ade run­ners to real­ize prof­its of 300 to 500 per­cent and chalk the loss of some ships to Union cap­ture as a mere busi­ness expense. This black mar­ket also pre­sented oppor­tu­ni­ties for graft and cor­rup­tion in the Union Army. Mil­i­tary offi­cers con­spired with “oper­a­tors” in the North who would then “move prod­uct” to nearby tex­tile man­u­fac­tur­ers. So where did the 250,000 bales of Texas cot­ton go? What money ended up in whose pocket is anybody’s guess.

Mean­while, the Union was still dither­ing in the East­ern The­atre, but US Grant would soon take over.

Decem­ber 12, 1863 Danville North Star

Late Rich­mond (Va.) Papers give mea­ger accounts of the recent oper­a­tions in Ten­nessee and Geor­gia, but what a “ter­ri­ble dis­as­ter” is frankly admit­ted … there is a strong tone of gloom, dis­ap­point­ment and depres­sion per­vad­ing the South­ern com­mu­nity in con­se­quence of this rebel defeat. Bragg is denounced in unspar­ing lan­guage and his removal is demanded with­out delay. Longstreet’s posi­tion in East Ten­nessee, after many pos­i­tive asser­tions of great suc­cess, is finally admit­ted to be pre­car­i­ous, and there is hardly a gleam of hope or con­fi­dence to be extracted from any point of the rebel mil­i­tary sit­u­a­tion by even the hope­ful and defi­ant rebel jour­nals themselves.

Wash­ing­ton News

Wash­ing­ton, Dec 4 – The Star, under the head of “The Army of the Potomac and Its Hes­i­tat­ing Gen­er­als,” says: -

So long as our army in this quar­ter con­tin­ues to be guided by its present coun­cils in the field, it is now clear that it will fail to com­mand pub­lic confidence…So if Lee, rely­ing upon a con­tin­u­ance of the chronic hes­i­tancy that has afflicted the coun­cils of Gen Meade, ven­tures to rein­force Longstreet con­sid­er­ably from his own army, which he has yet time at least to attempt, the Gov­ern­ment will promptly seek to make him pay dear for his temer­ity, as our, Army of Potomac is ready at this moment to move again as it was when under­tak­ing to do so in a few days since.”

Decem­ber 26, 1863 Danville North Star

War and Gen­eral New Items

John Hunt Morgan

John Hunt Morgan

John Mor­gan, the escaped guerilla chief, has reached Rich­mond and Davis has given him the com­mand in the Army of Georgia.


John Hunt Mor­gan was a Con­fed­er­ate cav­alry com­man­der. His cav­alry trav­elled light and lived off the land. He made raids into the North, includ­ing one where he ram­paged and raised havoc in Indi­ana and Ohio for two-and-a-half weeks, over­run­ning local mili­tias. How­ever, the Union cav­alry inter­vened and chased him all the way into Penn­syl­va­nia. Mor­gan and his offi­cers were thrown into the Ohio State Pen­i­ten­tiary, but he tun­neled out the facil­ity and found his way back to Geor­gia to fight again. A year later he man­aged to get him­self killed, which no doubt helped him earn a spot in the pan­theon of “Lost Cause” mythology.

The South’s post-war revi­sion­ism, called “The Lost Cause,” is still going strong today. Among other things, Lost Causers believe that seces­sion was legal, slav­ery is not a moral abom­i­na­tion, and the North started the Civil War because they opposed the spread of slav­ery into new US territory.

They rally around the Con­fed­er­ate flag and peti­tion local gov­ern­ments to name schools and town squares after peo­ple like Gen­eral Nathan Bed­ford For­rest. For­rest was a slave-trader extra­or­di­naire. He orches­trated the mas­sacre of USCT (US Col­ored Troops) after their sur­ren­der at Fort Pil­low and was the orig­i­na­tor and first Grand Wiz­ard of the Ku Klux Klan, a para­mil­i­tary group that ter­ror­ized and killed blacks and those sym­pa­thetic to their cause after the Civil War and well into the twen­ti­eth cen­tury. There is a KKK group in exis­tence today whose require­ments are that you be white, Chris­t­ian and not have been con­victed of being a pedophile. All other white Chris­t­ian crim­i­nals are eli­gi­ble for membership.


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Nov 1863–Confederate Spies Caught in a Sting, the Illinois Legislature Suspended, and the Women of Richmond Go Hungr

By Gary Far­row, Danville His­tor­i­cal Society

Although part of the alliance of North­ern states, Illi­nois, espe­cially the south­ern por­tion of Lincoln’s home state, was a hotbed of rebel sen­ti­ment. Not only was it a place where plots against its sis­ter state Ohio orig­i­nated, the polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment became so dys­func­tional that the Gov­er­nor sus­pended the leg­is­la­ture. While Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans were feud­ing with one another in the North, the wives and fam­i­lies of sol­diers in the South scratched to survive.

Cre­ated by George Wash­ing­ton, the US Mar­shal Ser­vice is the old­est Fed­eral law enforce­ment agency. Prior to the Civil War, their main duties encom­passed exe­cut­ing those con­demned by Fed­eral Courts and fer­ret­ing out coun­ter­feit­ers. Dur­ing the 1850s, under the Fugi­tive Slave Act, they were char­tered to hunt fugi­tive slaves and return them to their masters.

Dur­ing the Civil War, the duties of US Mar­shals expanded yet again to include seiz­ing prop­erty used to sup­port the Con­fed­er­acy and track­ing down rebel spies. The fol­low­ing recounts a suc­cess­ful sting oper­a­tion which uncov­ered a plot to take down the gov­ern­ment of one of the North­ern states.

Novem­ber 7 1863, Danville North Star

Extra­or­di­nary Case of Treason

Cincin­nati, Novem­ber 1

An extra­or­di­nary case of trea­son has recently come to light, impli­cat­ing sev­eral per­sons in this city, Colum­bus, Cov­ing­ton and New­port, in con­spir­ing to release the rebel pris­on­ers at Camp Chase, and over­throw the State Gov­ern­ment. The con­spir­acy was brought to light by United States detec­tives, who were sup­posed by the par­ties, impli­cated to be spies from the rebel army, and were treated with full confidence.

The plot, as dis­cov­ered by the detec­tives, was that an attack was made on Camp Chase to release the rebel pris­on­ers con­fined there; num­ber­ing 3500, to seize the arse­nal at Colum­bus, take pos­ses­sion of the pen­i­ten­tiary, release John Mor­gan and other rebel offi­cers con­fined there and then com­mence a rebel cam­paign in Ohio.

US Mar­shall Sands and Provost Mar­shal M.J. Reamy have arrested the fol­low­ing per­sons impli­cated in the plot: Charles W.H. Cath­heart, of Colum­bus, for­merly School Com­mis­sioner of Ohio; and J.D. Cren­sop of Colum­bia, for­merly sut­ler [a civil­ian mer­chant who pro­vi­sions sol­diers at head­quar­ters or in the field] in the 18th Reg­u­lars, who were to lead the attack on Camp Chase; James D. Pat­ton, of Cov­ing­ton, a reg­u­lar agent of the rebel gov­ern­ment, who fur­nished money to the detec­tives under the impres­sion that they were spies and accord­ing to agree­ment, were to meet Cat­heart and the oth­ers at Camp Chase and assist in mak­ing the plan of attack; Ruth McDon­ald, of Cov­ing­ton, who acted as mail car­rier through the rebel lines, and whose house was the head­quar­ters of the rebels; Samuel P. Thomas, mer­chant tai­lor, of Cincin­nati and wife Cather­ine Par­menter, of Cincin­nati. Infor­ma­tion has been obtained that the orga­ni­za­tion exists in Illi­nois, wait­ing for the out­break in Ohio. Other par­tic­u­lars are known to the author­i­ties, but have not yet been made public.


Novem­ber 14, 1863 Danville North Star

More trou­ble is expected in Illi­nois. The Gov­er­nor, it will be remem­bered, sud­denly broke up the leg­isla­tive ses­sion last June. The Supreme Court, it is thought, will now decide that act to be con­sti­tu­tional. In this event, a ses­sion will be held this com­ing win­ter. The Rad­i­cals will oppose it. The Con­ser­v­a­tives will favor it.

The Illi­nois state leg­is­la­ture was a very con­tentious place. Thanks to Demo­c­rat ger­ry­man­der­ing the south­ern part of the state sym­pa­thetic to the South had strong rep­re­sen­ta­tion. The gov­ern­men­tal body became the venue for a polit­i­cal proxy war between Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans. Due to war fatigue and south­ern sen­ti­ment, the Democ­rats wrested con­trol of the House in Novem­ber 1862, chastis­ing the Fed­eral gov­ern­ment for its con­duct of the war, call­ing for an armistice between North and South, and a peace con­ven­tion to be held among the state house of rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Repub­li­cans stormed out of the state sen­ate in protest and an exas­per­ated Gov­er­nor Yates sus­pended the legislature.

In response, the Demo­c­ra­tic con­trolled body labeled Lincoln’s Eman­ci­pa­tion Procla­ma­tion a “great usurpa­tion,” which turned the Union’s war against the South into “a cru­sade for the sud­den, vio­lent and uncon­di­tional lib­er­a­tion of three mil­lion slaves.” The Party’s fury was also fueled by the sup­pres­sion of rebel sen­ti­ment within the state; Con­fed­er­ate sup­port­ers, includ­ing gov­ern­ment offi­cials, were thrown in jail and pro-South news­pa­pers were shut down by the military.


In some of the min­ing dis­tricts of Penn­syl­va­nia, there have been seri­ous and bloody riots on account of the draft. The enrolling offi­cers have found it impos­si­ble to serve the notices and the rule of civil author­i­ties has been entirely set at naught. Mr. G. K. Smith’s house was entered by a party of riot­ers, who shot Mr. S. and he was instantly killed. At the lat­est date, the riot had some­what subsided.

War and Gen­eral News Items

Ely S. ParkerAmong the offi­cers on Gen Grant’s staff is Capt Ely S. Parker, a full blooded red Indian, being chief of the tribe known as the Six Nations.


The Seneca Chief from New York met and over­came many obsta­cles in his sto­ried career. He was denied admis­sion to Har­vard because of his race. At the out­break of the Civil War, his offer to raise a reg­i­ment of Iro­quois vol­un­teers went for naught, as did his attempt to join the Army’s Chief of Engi­neers. Gen­eral Grant finally took him under his wing and installed him as Cap­tain of the Engineers.

Dur­ing the war’s later years, Parker achieved the rank of lieu­tenant colonel and assisted Grant as his mil­i­tary sec­re­tary. After the war, he served Pres­i­dent Grant, facil­i­tat­ing the nego­ti­a­tion of treaties with Tribes in the West and becom­ing the government’s first Com­mis­sioner of Indian Affairs. His attempts to root out cor­rup­tion within the agency earned him many ene­mies in a Con­gress who hauled him before an inves­ti­ga­tory com­mit­tee which could find no wrong doing. Parker resigned in dis­gust. He would later meet finan­cial ruin in the mar­ket crash of 1870 and was forced to use his polit­i­cal friends in order to secure a job with the New York City Police Depart­ment. Parker died in 1895.


The car­tel of exchange of pris­on­ers has been sus­pended because the rebels will not admit the offi­cers and sol­diers of col­ored reg­i­ments to be included in it.


This stale­mate was prompted by Con­fed­er­ate Pres­i­dent Jef­fer­son Davis’ threat to exe­cute any black POW or white offi­cer who com­manded them. How­ever Davis did not fol­low through and pris­oner exchanges between North and South even­tu­ally resumed.

Novem­ber 27, 1863 Danville North Star

Scarcity of Food at the South

All accounts received from the South show that the most press­ing exi­gency which the rebels will have to meet is the want of food…The rebel armies are quite large, and this with­draws a large num­ber of men from the cul­ti­va­tion of the land: then the num­ber of the rebel army is quite out of pro­por­tion to the num­ber from which it is drawn for so few peo­ple to sup­ply such a large num­ber: but in addi­tion to this, it is alleged that very nearly two mil­lion slaves from Ken­tucky, Louisiana, Ten­nessee, and Mis­sis­sippi have been thrown into Alabama, Geor­gia and South and North Car­olina, which has griev­ous increased the con­sump­tion of food, and no doubt embar­rassed rebel oper­a­tions in that quar­ter to an extent beyond what is known. That this is the case in the vicin­ity of Rich­mond, there can be no doubt. We learned this from the Rich­mond papers, which report the unsuc­cess­ful results of a com­mit­tee of cit­i­zens appointed to obtain food for the sup­ply of the city, and we infer that it will be dif­fi­cult for the cit­i­zens of Rich­mond to obtain food for the com­ing win­ter. It is now quite appar­ent that this great dif­fi­culty can­not be eas­ily over­come and will con­tribute more than the suc­cess of our arms to the sub­mis­sion of the rebels. It will be impos­si­ble for them to keep their armies with­out a sup­ply of food, although every energy will be bent to do this, how­ever heav­ily it may press upon the non-fighting por­tion of the community.


Richmond Forgotten FightersRam­pant infla­tion and food scarcity fell most heav­ily on the women of Rich­mond, who were left behind to fend for their fam­i­lies and them­selves. Many were forced to steal food in order to sur­vive. How­ever, tragedy was averted when women massed in protest were con­fronted in the city by Jef­fer­son Davis him­self and his sol­diers. Davis threat­ened to shoot them if they didn’t dis­burse. Faced with the President’s count­down to fire, the women peace­fully retired.

The Union Suf­fer­ers in Richmond

Philadel­phia Nov 19

United States Christian CommissionEvery assur­ance has been given to the Chris­t­ian Com­mis­sion that stores sent to our Union suf­fer­ers in Rich­mond pris­ons reach them. Gov Mered­ith, US Com­mis­sioner for the exchange of pris­on­ers at Fortress Mon­roe, engages to receive all sup­plies sent to his care by express pre­paid, and send them under flag of truce to City Point. Com­mis­sioner Ould gives writ­ten assur­ances that they would be received at City Point and deliv­ered to the pris­on­ers to whom they are addressed. Gen Noel Dow and other reli­able men among the pris­on­ers will receive and dis­trib­ute what­ever is sent. The pris­on­ers write that they receive the stores sent to them.

The Chris­t­ian Com­mis­sion is mak­ing arrange­ments, which leads us to a hope that they will soon have their own del­e­gates there to attend to, receive and dis­trib­ute the stores, and do what­ever they can to relieve and ben­e­fit our suf­fer­ing men.


In 1861, the Chris­t­ian Com­mis­sion was char­tered by the Young Men’s Chris­t­ian Asso­ci­a­tion (YMCA) to pro­vide sup­plies, med­ical sup­port and reli­gious lit­er­a­ture to Union troops.


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