Saturday, November 30, 2013

Oh! Lemuel

Composed by Stephen Foster, 1850
Published by F. D. Benteen, Baltimore

Oh! Lemuel my lark,
Oh Lemuel my beau,
I's guine to gib a ball tonight
I'd hab you for to know;
But if you want to dance,
Just dance outside de door,
Becayse your feet so berry large
Dey'll cover all de floor.
Oh! Lem! Lem! Lem! Lemuel I say!
Go down to de cotton field,
And bring de boys away.

Go down to de cotton field!
Go down, I say!
Go down and call de Nigga boys all,
We'll work no more today.

Oh! Lemuel my hope,
Oh! Lemuel my joy
I'll tell you who'll be at de ball
My woolly headed boy.
Dere's Nelly Bly, you know,
And Juliana Snow,
Dere's cane-brake Kitty likes de boys,
And she'll be sure to go.
Oh! Lem! Lem! Lem! Lemuel I say!
Go down to de cotton field,
And bring de boys away.

Oh! Lemuel is tall,
Oh! Lemuel is fair,
Oh Lemuel has gone today
To take de morning air.
He makes de fiddle hum,
He makes de banjo tum,
He rattles on de old jaw bone,
And beats upon de drum.
Oh! Lem! Lem! Lem! Lemuel I say!
Go down to de cotton field,
And bring de boys away.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Zeb Ward's Slaves Run Off to Join the Union Army

Above is the 1860 census list of 27 slaves owned by Woodford County, Kentucky resident and former warden of the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Frankfort, Zeb Ward. Ward had the notoriety of being quite sadistic toward his abolitionist inmates. Ward also proudly supplied a hemp rope to Virginia's governor, Henry A. Wise, and suggested it be used to hang the famous John Brown. 

Ward's attitude toward those attempting to free enslaved people would lead one to believe that he was likely not the kindest master. That speculation might be strengthened by knowing that at least seven of his personal enslaved work force ran away during the Civil War and joined the Union army 

Clay Ballard was noted as 28 when he joined Company G of the 116th United States Colored Infantry (USCI). Born in Madison County, Kentucky, the 5' 5" Ballard was mustered in at Camp Nelson in Jessamine County.

Weston Toles was listed as 30 years old and a native of Woodford County. Woodford County had the highest percentage (a slight majority) of African Americans in Kentucky in the 1860 census. He enlisted at Camp Nelson and was placed in Company I of the 12th United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA).

Tillman Toles may have been a brother or cousin of Weston Toles, although he was only 18 when he enlisted in Company H of the the 12th USCHA. He spent much of his Civil War service sick in various hospitals. 

37 year old William Simmons enlisted on June 7, 1864, at Camp Nelson. He was assigned to Company E of the 116th USCI. The 5' 3" Simmons stated he was born in Jefferson County, Kentucky. 

Mat Haggins was born in Jessamine County, and like fellow Ward slave Tillman Toles, was placed in Company H of the 12th USCHA. Haggins was 36 upon enlisting.

Lewis Wilkinson was yet another Ward slave in Company H of the 12th USCA. The three men formerly owned by Zeb Ward in this unit must have formed a close bond from knowing each other although they joined on different days.

Another soldier, George Washington, is also noted in the muster and descriptive roll book held in the Kentucky Historical Society's collections, as being formerly owned by ZebWard, but I was unable to find his service records.

As one might expect none of these men who have surviving enlistment forms were given permission by Ward to enlist in the Union army. Likely they slipped off one-by-one from their Woodford County home and made their way the short distance to Camp Nelson as each one had different enlistment dates.    

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sites, Slavery, and Soldiers - Orlando Brown House

If you have ever been to downtown Frankfort, Kentucky, you have likely seen Liberty Hall, the home of Kentucky's first senator, constructed starting in 1796. Adjacent to Liberty Hall is the Orlando Brown house (pictured above), which was built in 1835 for Brown's son.

Orlando Brown was born in 1801 and was educated to be an attorney. He also edited the Frankfort Commonwealth for a time, served as the secretary of state in Governor John J. Crittenden's administration, and briefly held the position as Commissioner of Indian Affairs under President Zachary Taylor. During the Civil War Orlando Brown served as a recruiting agent for the Union army. He died in 1867 and was buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. 

In the 1860 census Orlando Brown is listed as a lawyer. His personal worth was impressive. He owned $60,000 in real estate and $40,000 in personal property. Some of Brown's personal property value included 17 slaves, 8 males and 9 females who lived in three slave dwellings. One male enslaved individual was noted as 30 years old in that 1860 census.

That enslaved individual was likely Alexander Sanders. Sanders, along with many other African American men, both slave and free, are noted as enlisting in the Union army from Franklin County in a muster and descriptive roll book at the Kentucky Historical Society. 

Sanders service records show he enlisted on June 20, 1864, in Lexington. The 33 year old, six foot tall Sanders was described as having a copper complexion. He trained at Camp Nelson in Jessamine County with thousands of other black men. He was placed in the Company A, 116th United States Colored Infantry regiment. 

Interestingly Orlando Brown certified that he was "the owner of Alexander Sanders, a slave," and gave his consent to Sanders's enlistment as the above document shows. It is signed by Brown and the illiterate Sanders made his mark with and "X."

Brown likely provided his consent with the belief that he would be compensated in the future for Sanders's enlistment. In fact, Brown made a claim in December 1866 for compensation. The claim form, shown above, certifies that Brown owned Sanders "by virtue of marital right acquired by and through my wife M. C. [Mary Cordelia Brodhead] Brown." Brown signed an oath of allegiance as well that he had remained loyal throughout the war.

Brown's brand of proslavery Unionism was common in Kentucky, however, most owners were less permissive of their slaves joining the Union army. But many, like Brown, believed they would be compensated for their lost laborers whether they allowed them to enlist or not. They were sadly mistaken.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cool Civil War Photograph

Confederate wife Sabria Clack holding a photograph of husband Private W. R. Clack, Company B, 43rd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Henry Bibb's Letter to a Former Master

This morning on my drive over to Madison, Indiana, to see my mother, I couldn't help but think that fugitive slave Henry Bibb must have traveled those same roads as he served masters in Shelby County, New Castle in Henry County, and Bedford in Trimble County. In addition, Bibb made at least one escape attempt via Madison. Crossing the Ohio River on a new bridge, I wondered what Bibb thought as he crossed on the water.

Thinking about Bibb's fugitive travels led my train of thought to a letter I remembered reading that he wrote to his former Bedford master William Gatewood after finally making his way to Canada.

Letters from ex-slaves to former masters are quite rare. Most wanted no communication with those that had held them in bondage. Back in May 2012 I shared a letter Jermain Loguen sent to his late Tennessee master, and here I would like to share a letter Bibb sent to William Gatewood in Bedford, Kentucky in 1844. Bibb's forgiving nature is amazing.

"Dear Sir:—I am happy to inform you that you are not mistaken in the man whom you sold as property, and received pay for as such. But I thank God that I am not property now, but am regarded as a man like yourself, and although I live far north, I am enjoying a comfortable living by my own industry. If you should ever chance to be traveling this way, and will call on me, I will use you better than you did me while you held me as a slave. Think not that I have any malice against you, for the cruel treatment which you inflicted on me while I was in your power. As it was the custom of your country, to treat your fellow men as you did me and my little family, I can freely forgive you.
I wish to be remembered in love to my aged mother, and friends; please tell her that if we should never meet again in this life, my prayer shall be to God that we may meet in Heaven, where parting shall be no more.
You wish to be remembered to King and Jack. I am pleased, sir, to inform you that they are both here, well, and doing well. They are both living in Canada West. They are now the owners of better farms than the men are who once owned them.
You may perhaps think hard of us for running away from slavery, but as to myself, I have but one apology to make for it, which is this; I have only to regret that I did not start at an earlier period. I might have been free long before I was. I think it is very probable that I should have been a toiling slave on your property today, if you had treated me differently.
To be compelled to stand by and see you whip and slash my wife without mercy, when I could afford her no protection, not even by offering myself to suffer the lash in her place, was more than I felt it to be the duty of a slave husband to endure, while the way was open to Canada My infant child was also frequently flogged by Mrs. [William] Gatewood, for crying, until its skin was bruised literally purple. This kind of treatment was what drove me from home and family, to seek a better home for them. But I am willing to forget the past. I should be pleased to hear from you again, on the reception of this and should also be very happy to correspond with you often, if it should be agreeable to yourself. I subscribe myself a friend to the oppressed, and Liberty forever."  

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Visit to a Surviving Slave Dwelling

Back last summer I shared a captured runaway advertisement that was posted by the jailer of Franklin County, Kentucky. That notice was for Jerry an enslaved man belonging to Confederate general John S. Williams of Clark County. 

Yesterday I had the good fortune to visit Gen. Williams's home. A friend of my that directs the local museum in Winchester arranged for me to take a look around. My interest was not so much in the Williams house. I was much more intrigued by the thought of seeing a former slave dwelling on the farm.

It is kind of difficult to describe my feelings when we rounded the corner of the house and I first saw the structure. I tried to envision the lives that were lived there. Thoughts about the laughs, tears, smiles, sore muscles, and worried expressions that must have all been experienced in and around this building came to mind.    

As one might expect, this old former home to enslaved laborers is in a very dilapidated state. The log walls were easily visible where the clapboards had fallen off half way up the side the exterior walls. A rusty tin roof covers the building and has probably kept it from deteriorating more than it has.   

The interior was filled with old tables, chairs, buckets, a trunk, an ice cream freezer, and what appeared to be a house furnace, all probably placed there for storage many decades after all the people left. The hand-hewed logs had rotted away in a couple of the corners and light was clearly visible from the outside.

In the northwest corner of the building a stairway that led to the upper story of the structure was full of rubble from above. I was told that buzzards now used the building for a roost and evidence of their presence was visible throughout it. 

I took a few minutes to take some measurements around the building. It is about 17 feet square. The height to the eaves is about 12 feet. The front door measures 3 feet wide by 6 feet 6 inches high. The stone and brick chimney on the west elevation is about 7 feet wide at the base.


The building has a second story window above the front (east) elevation and side windows on the north and south elevations.

The logs were chinked with flat pieces of limestone and brick bats, and in some places the mortared mixture used to daub still clung to the rocks and logs.

The west elevation features a crumbled chimney. The base is constructed of limestone while the top portion is of brick. It is possible that the chimney was at one point repaired with modern bricks, as a number have tumbled down and litter the ground at the base.

John S. Williams was born in neighboring Montgomery County in 1818. He earned some notoriety as a colonel in the war with Mexico where he obtained the nickname "Cerro Gordo." Williams had married Ann Patton Harrison in 1842, but she had died two years later at age 21, it seems in childbirth, as daughter Molly Williams was listed as 16 years old in 1860. This farm was formerly the Harrison's and was held by John Williams after Ann died.

In the 1850 census John Stuart Williams is listed as a 31 year old farmer with real estate valued at $35,000. Molly is 7. Also in the household is Polly Harrison, 46, and John T. Sutherland, 23. Williams owned 50 slaves, which put him in the minority of large Kentucky slaveholders.

In 1860, Williams is listed as 39. His real estate value had risen to $40,000 and his personal property was listed at $10,000. Molly, 16, had attended school within the last year and was listed as owning $23,500 in real estate and $35,000 in personal property. Molly must have been awarded some or all of Ann's estate. In that census John Williams owned 10 slaves in his name and held 58 more "in trust for Ann Williams."

John Williams survived the Civil War, remarried, served in the state legislature, and in the U.S. Senate. He died in 1898 and was buried in the Winchester Cemetery. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Affray and Murder in Kentucky

I have wanted to read David Walker's Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World for quite some time now. When I was in Chattanooga a couple weekends ago I found a copy at McKay's used book store for $2.00, so I snatched it up.

If you don't know about Walker you should take a minute and do a quick search. He is quite the interesting figure. His slim volume came out in 1829 and caused quite the stir for its call to black militancy. Rather early in the book Walker wrote about how slaves had historically betrayed their fellow blacks by assisting whites in some way when resistance was attempted. To illustrate the point he included a newspaper story from an incident that happened in Kentucky in 1829. The news story was titled "Affray and Murder," and was originally reported from Portsmouth, Ohio. It reads:

"A most shocking outrage was committed in Kentucky, about eight miles from this place, on 14th inst. A negro driver, by the name of Gordon, who had purchased in Maryland about about sixty negroes, was taking them, assisted by an associate named Allen, and the wagoner who conveyed the baggage, to the Mississippi [River]. The men were hand-cuffed and chained together, in the usual manner for driving those poor wretches, while the women and children were suffered to proceed without incumbrance. It appears that, by means of a file the negroes, unobserved, had succeeded in separating the iron which bound their hands, in such a way as to be able to throw them off at any moment. About 8 o'clock in the morning, while proceeding on the state road leading from Greenup to Vanceburg, two of them dropped their shackles and commenced a fight, when the wagoner (Petit) rushed in with his whip to compel them to desist. At this moment, every negro was found to be perfectly at liberty; and one of them seizing a club, gave Petit a violent blow on the head, and laid him dead at his feet; and Allen, who came to his assistance, met a similar fate from the contents of a pistol fired by another of the negroes, whilst another fired twice at him with a pistol, the ball of which each time grazed his head, but not proving effectual, he was beaten with clubs, and left for dead. They then commenced pillaging the wagon, and with an axe split open the trunk of Gordon, and rifled it of the money, about $2,400. Sixteen of the negroes then took to the woods; Gordon, in the mean time, not being materially injured, was enabled, by the assistance of one of the women, to mount his horse and flee; pursued however, by one of the gang on another horse, with a drawn pistol; fortunately he escaped with his life barely, arriving at a plantation, as the negro came in sight; who then turned about and retreated. 

The neighborhood was immediately rallied, and  a hot pursuit given - which, we understand, has resulted in the capture of the whole gang and the recovery of the greatest part of the money. Seven of the negro men and one woman, it is said were engaged in the murders, and will be brought to trial at the next court in Greenupsburg."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sold for no Fault

Last November I presented a paper on my research on Kentuckians' reactions to John Brown's raid at the Symposium on the 19th Century Press, the Civil War and Free Expression at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  At last year's symposium I was surprised and, of course, happy to receive recognition for that paper being selected as one of the top three submitted.

This year I submitted a paper again and I was pleased to have it accepted for presentation. I was even more surprised this year when I was again given an award for this particular paper, titled "Telling Testimony: Slavery Advertisements in Kentucky's Civil War Newspapers."

In my presentation I provided a number of the advertisements that I had located during my research to help illustrate and provide evidence for my findings via PowerPoint. One of the ads I showed is pictured above. I included this particular notice to help show how arbitrary slave owners could be when they needed liquid cash.

This ad ran in the March 26, 1861, edition of the Lexington Kentucky Statesman. It clearly expresses the owners intent. He or she was selling this unnamed "No. 1 NEGRO WOMAN" at the Fayette County Courthouse door and obviously needed the hard cash worth of the enslaved woman more than he had for her use.

"I will put you in my pocket," was a threat used by more than one owner to warn slaves to behave. This ad shows that those threats were sometimes not empty. When crops failed, a bet on a horse race or cock fight was lost, or cash was needed for another emergency purchase of some kind, slave owners knew they had a ready means for raising funds. Whether sales divided husbands from wives or children from parents, those considerations were often secondary to the need for cash in hand.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

In the Swamp

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Last Friday night I went to see 12 Years a Slave at the theater. I had read Solomon Northup's narrative a while back, as well as some of the critics' reviews, so I somewhat knew what to expect. But, WOW! This film was extremely powerful. It was intense from beginning to end, and without a moment of comic relief . . . as I believe it should be. The cinematography was spellbinding and the characters so well played that it was almost as if stepping back into a time we have difficulty understanding today.

In one haunting scene Solomon Northup, after being kidnapped in Washington D.C. and sent to Louisiana, ends up at his first plantation. There, along with a group of other slaves, he is introduced to the plantation's white foreman and the overseer. The foreman, a slight weaselly-looking man provides a lesson to the new group of enslaved workers by singing "Run Nigger Run." In this scene the foreman asks the slaves to clap "like this," starting a beat, then starts into the song that served as a warning to those that might attempt to run away.

Oh run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away

Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away

Nigger run nigger flew
Nigger tore his shirt in two

Run run the patty roller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away

Nigger run, run so fast
Stoved his head in a hornets nest

Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away

Nigger run through the field
Black slick coal and barley heel

Run nigger run the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away

Some folks say a nigger won't steal
I caught three in my corn field
One has a bushel
And one has a peck
One had a rope and it was hung around his neck

Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away

Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away

Oh nigger run and nigger flew
Why in the devil can't a white man chew

Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away

Hey Mr. Patty roller don't catch me
Catch that nigger behind that tree

Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away

Nigger run, run so fast
Stoved his head in a hornets nest

Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away

Nigger run, run so fast
Nigger, he got away at last

Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away

The "pattyroller" mentioned in the song, of course, referred to the slave patrol that monitored roads, paths, plantations, farms, cities, and towns throughout the slave states.

Interestingly, early attribution for the origin of the song is given to the slaves themselves, and much like the foreman, it was originally sung to fellow slaves as a warning. Apparently, like many other minstrel,"Ethiopian," or "plantation" songs, "Run Nigger Run" was appropriated by whites and sang at the minstrel shows. Its earliest printed appearance according to one source I found was in 1851 in White's Serenaders' Song Book. The song's title is shown in the table of contents above on page 66.

The song was remembered by several former slaves in the WPA Slave Narratives as being sung by both the slave patrol and fellow slaves. Here is a version recorded in the 1920s.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Image and interpretation courtesy of the Library of Congress.

This print shows an idealized portrayal of American slavery and the conditions of blacks under this system in 1841. The Library's impression of the print is a fragment - the left panel only - of a larger print entitled "Black and White Slavery," which contrasts the plight of Britain's abused "white slaves" (actually factory workers portrayed in the right panel) and America's "contented" black slaves. Weitenkampf rightly suggests that prints like these were published by Northern apologists for slavery. The work of one such apologist F. W. Clay displays a consistent lack of sympathy for blacks. Here he shows an attractive and wealthy slave-owning white family including a husband, his wife and their two children. They young daughter plays with a lean greyhound which stands before them. The son gestures toward an elderly black couple with a small child sitting at their feet. A group of happy slaves dance in the background. The old slave says "God Bless you massa! you feed and clothe us. When we are sick you nurse us, and when too old to work, you provide for us!" The master vows piously, "These poor creatures are a sacred legacy from my ancestors and while a dollar is left me, nothing shall be spared to increase their comfort and happiness."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hometown Hero: Henry Rhodes, Co. G, 114th USCI

Not all of the former USCT soldiers that are buried in Greenhill Cemetery here in Frankfort were slaves before enlisting in the Union army. Private Henry Rhodes's service records indicate that he was a free man previous to his service. I was unable to locate Rhodes in the 1860 census, but it is possible that he was either missed by the census taker or gained his freedom between 1860 and his enlistment on May 31, 1864. Another possibility is that considered himself free when he went off to the army and thus claimed that status to the enrollment officer.  

Regardless of Rhodes's pre-enlistment status he stated upon signing up that he was born in Boyle County, and was 20 years old. He was listed at five feet four inches tall and was likely among those that first made their way to Camp Nelson. 

A great deal of Rhodes's time in the army was spent in various hospitals. A number of his service cards show that he was absent sick in hospitals at Point of Rocks, Virginia (near Petersburg), Portsmouth, Virginia, and Fort Monroe, Virginia. Rhodes also spend detached duty time at Fort Wood, Bedloe's Island, New York Harbor and as company cook before being mustered out at Brazos Santiago, Texas in April, 1867. 

It appears that Rhodes came back to Kentucky soon after his service was over. There is a Henry Rhodes listed in Lexington's Fourth Ward in the 1870 census and was noted as a 26 year old laborer. He was living with a Jacob Rhodes, a 60 year old laborer, and a Mitty Douglas, a 55 year old housekeeper. Was Jacob Rhodes Henry's father?

In 1880, Henry lived in Frankfort and is indicated as a 35 year old saw mill worker.  He lived with his wife Amanda, a 35 year old laundress, daughter Julia, a 17 year old laundress, son Cary, a seven year old, daughter Margaret, a five year old, and son Samuel, a one year old infant. It is possible that Julia was Amanda's daughter from a previous relationship, since she was 17 and neither her or Amanda appear on the 1870 census with Henry.

Henry Rhodes disappears from the record after the 1880 census, but Amanda continued to show up in later census records. In 1920, Amanda is listed as a 75 year old widow. She was living with a son Archie, a 38 year old widower.  Also in the household was Julia, but now she was married with the last Dotson and apparently her husband, 40 year old Boram Dotson.

Amanda is listed again in 1930 as an 80 year old. Archie is shown as 40, Julia, 50 and divorced. Amanda owned her home, which was valued at $700. Amanda died in 1934. On her death certificate her father and mother, both who were likely slaves, were Jacob and Matilda Tuggles.

Henry Rhodes served his country not to free himself, as he was already free. He fought to free others that were enslaved, and possibly to ensure he was never subjected to the institution. He fulfilled his military obligations despite sickness and travels far far from home. That alone gains my respect and admiration.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Stainless Banner

Reconciliation between the North and South has traveled a difficult road since 1865. One reason for this has been each side's continued commitment to honor their soldiers and causes.

The above print was published (ironically in New York ) just two years after the end of the war. The image was obviously intended to commemorate the Confederacy and its veterans. In the center focal point is the second Confederate national flag, also known as the Stainless Banner. Under the flag it says "THE WARRIOR'S BANNER TAKES ITS FLIGHT TO GREET THE WARRIOR'S SOUL." The flagstaff is topped with a cross intending to show the holiness of the cause.

The choices for corner vignettes are interesting and seemingly have no common connection other than all four of the events happened in Virginia.

The top left image shows "A CHARGE IN THE WILDERNESS." It appears to show Gen. Robert E. Lee's famous attempt to lead the Texas Brigade in an assault during the 1864 battle. The Texans promised Lee they would only continue if the general moved to a safer location .

The top right corner shows "THE CRATER" at Petersburg, Virginia. It shows men, earthen debris, and artillery tubes flying through the air. The city is observable in the background.

The bottom left corner image shows the CSS Virginia in the famous ironclad battle at Hampton Roads, Virginia. The Union's Monitor lurks in the background as a traditional wooden sail ship tilts after being struck by the Virginia

The bottom right panel depicts "AFTER THE SURRENDER" at Appomattox. Gen. Lee shakes hands with his officers as Confederate soldiers wait for their paroles.  Arms are stacked and a first national Confederate flag hangs at half mast in front of a couple of wall tents.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Kurz and Allison's Battle of Nashville

If you are a Civil War enthusiast you have likely seen some images in the series that Kurz and Allison printed of the conflict's battles. In most of these scenes all of the soldiers are dressed in impeccable uniforms and trimmed with colors of the various branches of service (i.e. light blue for infantry, red for artillery, and yellow for cavalry). Often, too, the landscape shown in the print doesn't fit the terrain of the actual battle.

The one pictured above shows the battle of Nashville and was produced in 1891. It depicts the Union forces of Gen. George H. Thomas breaking the line of Gen. John Bell Hood's Confederates just south of Nashville on December 16, 1865. The image shows United States Colored Troops pouring up over a hill (possibly Overton's Hill) and capturing a Confederate battery. 

The day before, USCT soldiers had boldly assaulted the Confederate line. One Confederate later left an account of the engagement with the black troops. Arkansan Philip Stephenson wrote, "This was the first time that we of the Army of Tennessee had ever met our former slaves in battle. . . . It excited in our men the intensest indignation, but that indignation expressed itself in a way peculiarly ominous and yet quite natural for the 'masters.'"  Stephenson continued, "As soon as it was found out that the men advancing upon them were Negroes, a deliberate policy was adopted. It was to let them come almost to the works before a shot was to be fired, and then the whole line was to rise up and empty their guns into them. . . . On the darkies came slowly wavering enough for that silence was terribly significant. . . . On they came closer and closer, until, as our men said afterward, they could see the whites of their eyes. Then up rose the line of grey and crash went that deadly volley of lead full into the poor fellows' faces. The carnage was awful, it is doubtful if a single bullet missed."

On December 16, more USCT troops participated in the fight before finally breaking the Confederate line. In one regiment five black color bearers attempted to plant their flag on the rebel works. Confederate general James Holtzclaw noticed the valor of the black men and reported later, "They came only to die."

After the engagement one Union surgeon wrote back to his family "Don't tell me negroes won't fight! I know better!"  In the battle the 13th USCT suffered 220 casualties, which was about 40% of their regiment. Henry Stone, the commander of the 100th USCT, a Kentucky raised unit, spoke to the men after the battle. He declared: "For the first time in the memorable history of the Army of Cumberland . . . the blood of white and black men had flowed freely together for the great Cause which is to give freedom, unity, manhood and peace to all men, of whatever birth or complexion." Quite an observation for 1864.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ten Broeck

The famous horse Ten Broeck (pictured above) was named for noted turfman Richard Ten Broeck. Richard Ten Broeck had been the proprietor of Metairie Race Course in antebellum New Orleans, and with a group of buyers had purchased the famous thoroughbred Lexington before purchasing the great horse outright. Ten Broeck sold Lexington to R. A. Alexander of Woodburn Farm for a then record price of $15,000 in 1859. 

Alexander's Woodford County neighbor, John Harper, a noted horse breeder himself, named a promising horse foaled on his Nantura Farm in 1872 for his old acquaintance. John Harper died in 1874 and being childless left Nantura to his nephew Frank Harper. 

As a three-year-old Ten Broeck beat Aristides (the first Kentucky Derby winner) in the Phoenix Hotel Stakes in Lexington, but lost to Aristides at the Derby in Louisville. Ten Broeck was trained by African American trainer Harry Colston and was often ridden by black jockey William "Billy" Walker.    

In the above image Walker rides Ten Broeck in the foreground against Parole and Tom Ochiltree at Pimlico in Baltimore in 1877 at the Great Sweepstakes. Parole won, Ten Broeck came in second, and Tom Ochiltree was third.

The following year Ten Broeck won what was likely his most famous race. It was a match race against California horse Mollie McCarty. Ten Broeck, ridden again by William Walker won and became immortalized in the folk song "Molly and Tenbrooks."  Here's a You Tube video of the song.

Ten Broeck retired to stud after a long career. He did not quite have the success as a sire as on the track, but produced some solid racers. Ten Broeck died in 1887 and was buried with monument at Nantura Farm. He was entered into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga, New York, in 1982.

Images courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nineteenth Century Pinups?


Included in one of the many print collections in the Library of Congress are a plethora of images of 19th century women by Currier and Ives, all formatted similarly. The ones included here are only a sampling of those that were apparently offered to buyers in the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s. 

These images offer a view of what at the time was considered idealized beauty. Like the Darktown Comics that I featured a few posts ago, I can't help but wonder, who was the target market for these? Did young bachelor men buy them for their business places and apartments? Did they show up in the shops of wagon builders and blacksmiths much like calendar girls show up in mechanic shops today? Did soldiers in the Mexican War and stationed at military posts across the United States keep these as soldiers in World War II kept pinups of Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth?  

Again, like the Darktown Comics, I can't imagine married women wanting these displayed in their respectable middle class homes. Although certainly not offensive by our modern standards, I think that some of them may have been pushing the limits of conservative Victorian tastes - at least those displayed in public venues.  But then again, of course, I could be totally wrong. Perhaps I am wrongly applying our present understandings to unrelated historical images.  

What do you think? 









Sarah Ann



Images courtesy of the Library of Congress.