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Archive for the month “March, 2015”

March Quiz Answers

St. Louis Civil War Roundtable
March 2015

1. What was the national origin of the defenders at Ft. Griffin during the 8 September 1863 battle in East Texas?
The forty-four defenders of the Davis Guards were all from Ireland under the command of Lt. Richard W. Dowling. To break the day-to-day monotony, the gunners practiced firing artillery at range markers placed in the river. Their resultant efficiency defeated a Federal force of over 5000 troops on transports and four gunboats. They took 200 prisoners with no losses during the battle named the Second Battle of Sabine Pass.
2. What great monument in New York state is affectionately referred to by un-reconstructed Confederates as “ The Monument to Southern Marksmanship”?
Battle Monument at West Point which was paid for by a 6% payroll deduction of all Federal soldiers after the war. It memorializes all the Regular Army dead during the War.
3. What event on the White River during the Battle of St. Charles, Arkansas on 17 June 1862 is considered by many as the luckiest shot of the war?
The Confederate defenders of the bluffs under Captain Joseph Fry, CSN fired a cannon shot through a porthole of the ironclad USS Mound City exploding the steam drum and scalding to death about 129 of the crew of 175. The boat was put out of action and towed to Memphis for repair and refitting. The Mound City served throughout the rest of the war participating in the Vicksburg, Red River, Steele’s Bayou and Grand Gulf campaigns. The shot that killed Gen. Leonidas Polk is also considered a very lucky shot by a 3-inch Parrot Rifle.
4. What was the Missouri connection of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper artist Henri Lovie?
As a “special artist” Lovie was sent in February 1861 to follow Abraham Lincoln from Springfield, Illinois to Washington D.C. for the presidential inauguration. In June 1861, Lovie obtained permission to join the Federal Expeditionary Forces going up the Missouri River under the command of Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyons to capture Jefferson City and Boonville, the headquarters of the Missouri state militia. The campaign ended with a Union retreat after the Battle of Wilson’s Creek where Lovie famously recorded the death of General Lyon.
5. What Union general, commanding an amphibious operation off the Atlantic coast, transferred himself and his staff to the most un-seaworthy vessel to demonstrate to his army that he was willing to share their risks and thereby earned their undying devotion?
Gen. Ambrose Burnside at the Battle of Roanoke Island, NC, 7-8 February 1862, moved his headquarters to the gunboat USS Picket when the weather turned foul and most of the command became terribly seasick.
6. Who succeeded the following generals after their battlefield death or serious wounding?
a. Maj. General John F. Reynolds, commander of I Corps killed at Gettysburg
b. Maj. Gen. James McPherson, commander of Army of the Tennessee killed at Atlanta
c. General Albert Sidney Johnston, Confederate Army commander killed at Shiloh
d. Lieut. General Leonidas Polk, Confederate III Corps Commander killed at Pine Mountain
e. Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon, Union Army commander killed at Wilson’s Creek
f. Maj. Gen. JEB Stuart, commander of the Confederate Cavalry Corps killed at Yellow Tavern
g. Lieut. General T. J. Jackson, Confederate II Corps Commander wounded at Chancellorsville
ANSWERS: a. MG Abner Doubleday; b. MG John Logan; c. Gen. PGT Beauregard; d. MG William W Loring later by MG Alexander P. Stewart; e. Major Samuel D. Sturgis; f. MG Wade Hampton; g. MG JEB Stuart

Copyright© 2015 John A. Nischwitz

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What The Humble Black-Eyed Pea Did for the South

I recently received this little “tidbit” from a friend at the St. Louis Civil War Roundtable and decided to share it with you loyal readers. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the facts but it is an interesting story.

In Southern folklore, the first food to be eaten on New Year’s Day for luck and prosperity throughout the coming year is the humble black-eyed pea, also called the cowpea or technically vigna unguiculata.

It is a heat loving and disease and pest resistant legume. It is a nitrogen fixing botanical that is ideal for crop rotation with corn, tobacco and cotton all of which are major nitrogen depleters.

The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman’s troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.

During the Civil War, hungry Union soldiers ate up Southern crops, but they left behind black-eyed peas, which they considered livestock feed; the hearty legumes provided much-needed sustenance during the Reconstruction for Southerners of all classes.

“Peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold,” goes an old Southern saying. It’s worthy of note that all three were staples of hard-working households that were not flush with income. Collards, turnip, mustard are all common braising greens of the South, though cabbage can make a cameo, too. Cheap, plentiful, and easy to grow, collards in particular are flat, like paper currency, and thus favored.

Paired with the rice and black-eyed peas of the iconic dish Hoppin’ John, greens make a nutritionally complete meal that balances color, texture, and flavor.

While most every Southerner is able to tell you what they eat on New Year’s Day, few know the history behind the tradition and why we eat these foods.

Many say, the tradition dates back to the Civil War. In November 1864, General William T. Sherman and his troops marched from the captured City of Atlanta towards the Port of Savannah. Known as Sherman’s March to the Sea, General Sherman ordered his troops to strip the land of all food, crops, and livestock and to destroy anything they could not carry away. The troops followed orders and the surviving Southerners were left with nothing…EXCEPT, black-eyed peas. The black-eyed pea supply was left completely intact. The troops did not leave these peas as some sort of good-will gesture. They just didn’t know people ate black-eyed peas.

In the North, black-eyed peas were known as “cowpeas” or “field peas”. Cattle ate cowpeas and humans ate only English Peas. Since the North believed only cattle ate black-eyed peas and they had already either taken or eaten all of the cattle, they saw no need to destroy this crop.

The rest is history! After the Civil War, black-eyed peas were the only source of food in the South. The peas saved thousands of Southerners from starvation and gave the South a Second Chance. From New Year’s Day forward, the tradition grew to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for Good Luck and Prosperity.

March Quiz St. Louis Civil War Roundtable

St. Louis Civil War Roundtable
March 2015

1. What was the national origin of the defenders at Ft. Griffin during the 8 September 1863
battle in East Texas?

2. What great monument in New York state is affectionately referred to by un-reconstructed Confederates as “ The Monument to Southern Marksmanship”?

3. What event on the White River during the Battle of St. Charles, Arkansas on 17 June 1862 is considered by many as the luckiest shot of the war?

4. What was the Missouri connection of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper artist Henri Lovie?

5. What Union general, commanding an amphibious operation off the Atlantic coast, transferred himself and his staff to the most un-seaworthy vessel to demonstrate to his army that he was willing to share their risks and thereby earned their undying devotion?

6. Who succeeded the following generals after their battlefield death or serious wounding?

a. Maj. General John F. Reynolds commander of I Corps killed at Gettysburg
b. Maj. Gen. James McPherson commander of Army of the Tennessee killed at Atlanta
c. General Albert Sidney Johnston Confederate Army commander killed at Shiloh
d. LT General Leonidas Polk Confederate III Corps Commander killed at Pine Mountain
e. Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon Union Army commander killed at Wilson’s Creek
f. Maj. Gen. JEB Stuart commander of the Confederate Cavalry Corps killed at Yellow Tavern
g. LT General T J Jackson Confederate II Corps Commander wounded at Chancellorsville

Copyright© 2015 John A. Nischwitz

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