Friday, November 21, 2008

Lorri Glover. Southern Sons: Becoming Men in the New Nation

Lorri Glover. Southern Sons: Becoming Men in the New Nation. Reviewed by Michael DeGruccio

Lorri Glover. Southern Sons: Becoming Men in the New Nation.

Baltimore Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007. x + 250 pp. US$50.00

(cloth), ISBN 978-0-8018-8498-6.

Reviewed by Michael DeGruccio

Published o­n H-CivWar (November, 2008)

Commissioned by Matthew E. Mason

Manhood and the Coming of the American Civil War

Long ago, Drew Gilpin Faust showed how rebel soldiers' wives and mothers - no longer receiving their end of the gender bargain - pulled the plug o­n the confederate war. More recently, we have seen how the twin ideals of romantic love and ambition, along with southern yeomen's belief that slavery ratified their own household powers over wife and children, hooked millions of white southern men to the confederate cause. The constructed roles of women and men helped launch the Civil War and then silenced its cannons.[1] But, as Lorri Glover's recent work suggests, it is the trudging, volatile, intergenerational formation of manhood that helps explain the coming of the war. Gender foments, prolongs, shapes, and ends wars. Glover attempts to demonstrate that it is the _making_ of manhood in the postrevolutionary South -not a stable manhood casually inherited by the Civil War generation - that is the story that needs telling.

Southern Sons explores the interior lives of elite white southern boys who came of age between the 1790s and the 1820s. These soon-to-be patriarchs were too young to sacrifice limb and life for the Revolution; yet they would be too old to lug a musket for Jeff Davis. They could never live up to the military fame of their fathers. Yet, it was the manner in which they became men while standing in the shadows of their fathers that would lead them to drag the region into a war that would require the blood of their sons.

Thanks to the rich scholarship o­n southern honor, we have a clearer image of the inner lives of white men in the Old South. When we read about John Brown's raid, Charles Sumner's verbal lashing of Preston Brooks, or the election of a president who vowed to contain slavery, we can picture how this distinctive worldview helped compound the regional crisis.[2] But, writes Glover, because the honor framework "emphasizes a set of values that persists over time and throughout the South," it lacks "chronological specificity" that a close look at gender formation can provide (p. 2). While Glover leaves the reader wondering why conceptions of honor would be any more static than manhood or how the two were interwoven, her book illustrates various ways in which southern manhood, or at least the making of men within a specific time among a particular cohort, was fraught with danger and negotiation.

We have seen this cohort before, but never so closely. There are striking parallels between Southern Sons and George Forgie's Patricide in the House Divided: A Psychological Interpretation of Lincoln and His Age (1979) and Joyce Appleby's Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans (2000).[3] These works follow roughly the same generation of Americans who wrestled with paradoxes inherited from their revolutionary predecessors. Like Forgie's "post-heroic" subjects who had no safe release for their ambitions in a freshly revolutionized society, Glover's young men struggled with the behavioral and ideological acrobatics required of them. They somehow had to pull off the trick of acting like masters in a world subdued by their fathers. And to a significant degree for both Forgie and Glover, the Civil War was the final, terrible trick.

While Forgie's (frequently northern) subjects were instructed to imitate revolutionary heroes, like George Washington, while embracing their role as mere curators, Glover's cohort was taught by parents and kin to become dutiful, public-minded patriarchs consumed by obligation to kin. Such "manly independence" required them to be simultaneously "deferential to societal expectations and assertively autonomous" (p. 23). If they were to inherit unbounded powers, they were to shoulder commensurate burdens of duty.

Because Southern Sons investigates the interior lives of o­nly a particular set of this postrevolutionary generation, it complements (by tempering) Appleby's depiction of a nation of go-ahead speculators--flitting about an antebellum hothouse overgrown with money-mad liberalism, print, innovation, and new occupations. While Appleby unveils a republic of sons aiming to outstrip their fathers, Glover shows how her particular cohort remained bound to a more conservative form of success - obtained not through outdoing o­ne's father, but consciously and openly using familial networks and wealth to attain the time honored attributes of the southern patriarch.

Still, Glover points out, these scions were not immune to the mounting attack o­n inherited status. They were expected to inherit their fathers' station as master and patriarch. But for this birthright they would have to prove themselves deserving. "While family and class still played important roles in social standing," writes Glover, "they no longer guaranteed a man's position....

Future leadership still required the right gender and race (and, in the South, lineage) but individual initiative, of the sort that formally educated men manifested, also became ever more important" (pp. 4, 10, 39).

And so, like their northern "self-made" contemporaries, Old South scions filtered through boarding schools and universities, the proverbial grist mills of American meritocracy. But, instead of cultivating merit from all levels of society, or intensifying allegiance to the young Republic (as the Founding Fathers hoped), southern education magnified regional consciousness while solidifying elite power. About o­ne-third of Southern Sons deals with the formal education of these future masters, and here Glover's work shines as she demonstrates how, for these southern boys, becoming men was intertwined with a growing awareness of their regional identity and the centrality of slavery to their manhood. In particular, those sent to northern universities in the early Republic came to view themselves as fundamentally different from their New England counterparts. It was o­ne thing for a planter to lament the evils of slavery (which was not uncommon in previous generations), and quite another for his son to endure pointed criticisms of slavery in a Harvard classroom. As Glover points out, southern patriarchs had always feared the malignant effect intimate exposure to slavery would have o­n their sons. Power would corrupt the delicate mind; passions would abound. This is partially why planter parents sent their boys off to boarding schools and colleges, often at a much younger age than northern students. What these parents did not bargain for, though, was that sheltering sons from slavery would subject them to humiliating moralizing about the evils of slavery as measured by its insidious effects o­n slave owners' (that is, their father's, uncle's, older brother's) character and work ethic.

State pride and growing sectional defensiveness led to the concerted creation of state universities throughout the South. Seven of America's first ten state universities cropped up in southern states. Here, young men found a pedagogy that defended slavery and prioritized public status over individual merit. Compared to comparable northern institutions, submits Glover, the fees for these southern schools made it all but certain that o­nly the most privileged would attend. Thus, instead of providing upward mobility for the disadvantaged, or "democratizing manly power" as happened more in the North, southern boarding schools and colleges perpetuated familial privilege. "Middle-class self-made manhood, predicated o­n individual initiative and improvement, predominated in the North."

Glover writes. But "Southerners modified this emphasis, touting individual preparation and education but retaining a tight elite monopoly over higher learning" (p. 41). For these Southerners, status was not what o­ne obtained through distinction in school and business acumen; education and profession were mere steppingstones along a path already prepared, leading from the cradle to the patriarch's seat at the table. Taking a swipe at what many gentlemen saw as a market-crazed, meritocratic education in the North, o­ne gentleman from North Carolina fumed, "Let the Yankees manufacture woolen clothing, let us manufacture men" (p. 51).

Southern Sons suggests that education - the supposed binding force of America - actually magnified distinctive visions of manhood, planting the seeds of secession. With vivid, at times humorous, examples, Glover shows how these students flouted authority, threatened deans and teachers, gambled, copulated sans commitment, swilled, brawled, lived beyond their means, and o­nly occasionally cracked their books. Kin sometimes served as accomplices. Doting uncles sometimes kept the funds coming.

And in letters from family, these future planters were regularly rebuked for sloppy penmanship, regardless of the content. Their senior kin encouraged them to seek o­nly general familiarity with ennobling literature, and competency in writing and accounting instead of rigorous scholarship or specific vocational training.

College needed to prepare them for public life and the "relentless performance" of elite southern manhood (p. 65). With kid gloves o­n, parents relied o­n guilt trips and permissiveness; they rarely coerced. No boy could learn to be a masterful man by cowering or submitting to his father. This pickle of trying to persuade boys to behave like good masters was compounded by the fact that they were absentee sons who left for boarding schools as early as the age of ten. Added to this, they inherited (from their fathers more than mothers) religious indifference, if not contempt, for the "feminizing" evangelicalism that swept up shopkeepers and merchants throughout Yankeedom. What Glover has begun to flesh out- at times not fully enough - is a fraternity of impulsive, embryonic masters, forming "emotionally resonant bonds" (p. 65). For them, this rite of passage into manhood melded together the hallmarks of the confederacy: slavery, public performance, allegiance to kin, violence, and fierce independence.

In the final third of the book, Glover attempts to show how these unruly students returned to their communities ready to assume the patriarchal mantle. They did this by pursuing such professions as law, medicine, and business--not as a means of exhibiting their skills, but as a way to widen their spheres of influence, enter public service, and ultimately become married planters with households of dependents. More than any single profession, avers Glover, being a planter offered "independence, mastery over others, and honor in gentry circles" (p. 152). A weakness of Southern Sons is that it so convincingly depicts the dissipated days of college o­ne hardly knows just why it was that these erstwhile devil-may-care bachelors seemed to naturally assume the role of southern patriarchs. Did they simply grow up? Glover is right in depicting these young men as indifferent to religion; but after demonstrating how this generation of youth spent little time thinking about Jesus, her book adopts its subjects' religious indifference for its own. That is, Glover glosses over the profound imprint that evangelical Christianity - though gutted of its most radical possibilities - made o­n these rowdies turned masters some decades later.[4]

Glover examines the sobering influence that potential brides had o­n this cohort; they demanded that their beaux display the symbols of respectability. Because of the great difficulty of obtaining a divorce from a never-do-well husband, and the way that a woman's identity was absorbed into her husband's, these future plantation mistresses demanded that their suitors pony up with proof that they would provide status. Glover writes that marriage itself "typically marked the beginning of the independent mastery of slaves" (p. 133). Grooms often became masters over field slaves at the same time that they claimed dominion over their wives. But if coverture provided this cohort legal and symbolic mastery, Glover's work also suggests that these brides molded these young men into masters during their negotiations toward marriage. Here again, one wonders how southern female piety fostered this transformation, welding their youthful self-will to the marrow-deep commitment to kin, obligation, and a world ordered by gender and race.

This is an important book for anyone interested in gender, family history, or education in antebellum America. It is also a refreshing way to frame the origins of the American Civil War. Glover might have expounded a bit o­n some of her most intriguing claims. She is too careful of a historian to write a causal history where gender alone plunges the nation into war; but a little more connective tissue might have helped fit her cultural analysis to the political crises between 1830 and 1860. Still, the reader finishes with a richer understanding of a generation of men immersed in public service and private devotions (publicly ratified) to family. It is not quite clear how this cohort transferred its truculence from run-ins with pedantic lecturers to, say, Abraham Lincoln. The bravado and petulance is somehow sublimated within a system of brutal slavery and familial love. But Southern Sons sets free labor manhood of the North in high relief. In fact, Glover's work suggests important studies that can be done o­n how familial strategies, gender, and education created the kind of men who populated the Republican Party - like those we find in Eric Foner's work o­n free labor, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War (1995).[5] This tidy book forces us to rethink the regional and political divisions stewing in the 1830s - to look before and beyond them into the softer processes of gender construction and intergenerational tensions after the Revolution.

Southern Sons moves us beyond the overdrawn chestnut that this was a war between brothers - though certainly it partly was. Glover reminds us that "brothers" who fought the war had fathers who brought the war. By examining the latter's manhood, we widen the scope of Civil War studies - challenging conventional periodization, and hauling in more than just the usual suspects: from grandparents, mentoring uncles and aunts, to mothers, college presidents, and desperate fathers trying to cultivate strong-willed, independent masters, committed to give all of themselves to the cause of family, tradition, and order.


[1]. Drew Gilpin Faust, "Altars of Sacrifice: Confederate Women and the Narratives of War," The Journal of American History 76, no. 4 (1990): 1200-1228; Stephen Berry II, All That Makes a Man: Love and Ambition in the Civil War South (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003); Stephanie McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Households, Gender Relations, and the Political Culture of the Antebellum South Carolina Low Country (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); and LeeAnn Whites, The Civil War as a Crisis in Gender: Augusta, Georgia, 1860-1890 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995).

[2]. Bertram Wyatt Brown's work has become the standard o­n this topic. See, for example, Bertram Wyatt Brown, Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982); and Bertram Wyatt Brown, The Shaping of Southern Culture: Honor, Grace, and War, 1760s-1880s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001). Also see, Kenneth S. Greenberg, Honor & Slavery (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).

[3]. Only Appleby provides a significant discussion examining women.

[4]. Glover borrows from Christine Leigh Heyrman's work about the pre-evangelical South but strangely ignores the second half of Heyrman's argument about how evangelical Christianity made deep inroads into southern culture by recalibrating its message to southern gentry. See Christine Leigh Heyrman, Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt (New York: Knopf, 1997).

[5]. Outside of Forgie's work, we know little about how educational strategies and manhood (or the making of gender) in the antebellum North deepened cultural divisions, paving the way for the war.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Red Star Animal Emergency Services

The Red Star Animal Emergency Services began doing animal relief in August, 1916, by accepting an invitation of the War Department to help animals used by the U.S. Army during WW I. The invitation resulted in the development of the American Red Star Animal Relief Program known today as Animal Emergency Services. The Red Cross helped men used by the War Department.

Since its inception,the American Humane's Red Star Animal Emergency Services has responded to national and international disasters, rescuing thousands of animals, as well as participating in numerous human rescues. Animal rescue technology and expertise has advanced drastically throughout the years. Today, American Humane's Animal Emergency Services includes a fleet of emergency response vehicles customized to help animals in disasters -- specialized rescue equipment designed specifically for animal search and rescue.

It is unlikely that Lenin, & etc., infringed on any copyright the Red Star may have had at the time.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sumner Squatters Know Land Rights, but Little About Hitler

Colony living within 30 miles of Nashville Shuns outside World; Not even Familiar with Schools.

By John Lipscomb.

The war has been creating quite a sensation for many months, but it doesn't mean a thing to the "cave people" of Sumner County. Most of the strange colony, although living within 30 miles of Nashville, never heard of Hitler and think Mussolini is just another "furiner." Actually, the Adams colony-about 10 miles north of Hendersonville as a crow flies-doesn't live in caves any more. The members did make their homed in crude dug-out for a long time, though, which is how they came to be known as "the cave people."

In another world

A few of them, have been to Nashville o n occasions and several have visited Hendersonville, Gallatin and Goodlettsville-but that's all. There is one work animal in the colony-a rangy horse. There is also a pig, so tame that the makes himself at home in one of the single-room huts and will crawl onto anybody's lap if encouraged.

"Old Tom Adams" who has six children, might be termed the leader of "he backwoods" colony-at least, he is the oldest.

Accompanied by B. E. Westgate of Hendersonville, Route 1 a renowned fox hunter, and Thomas H. (Mike) Ellis of Hendersonville, we parked the car on a side road this past week, trekked up and down hills until we rounded a clump of brush and stumbled over Old Tom's shack. Old Tom came to the door and made some remark that was construed as a greeting. Westgate, whose fox hounds have run past the "Cave colony" scores of times, acted as spokesman at the first and explained that he was "just showing a man around wanted to take some pictures."

Tom admitted that he didn't know what it was all about, but apparently decided that the visitors were harmless and agreed to pose for a picture along with as many youngsters as could be persuaded to come out of the shack.

Ignorant of Age

His wife, Lonie Adams, arrived later from a trip up and down the back roads selling shoe strings made of cured groundhog skin. We purchased three pairs, which cause her to become very conversational and also made Old Tom feel friendlier.

Asked about his age, Tom wagged his head, appeared to become irritated with himself at his lack of memory and declared:

"I just cain't say exactly. I misplaced my papers somewhars but I reckin I must be between 66 and 68."

Westgate said earlier that "none of those folks ever heard of Hitler and they don't know a war is going on." He was right, so far as Tom's family was concerned.

Asked "What do you think about Hitler?" the man looked sharply from face to face and then hedged: "Well, I don't rightly know. What do you thing about him?"

Just to carry the test further we crossed our fingers and with a straight face commented: "Oh, he's doing all right. He's exactly right about everything, don't you recon?"

Again Old Tom realized that he was o n thin conversational ground, and answered craftily: "Wal he mignt be, I don't rightly know. But if he ain't right, he orta be."

Old Tom Baffled

Faced with such amiable evasiveness, we dropped the subject. Old Tom was still scratching his head when we left, as if he were trying to figure out something.

Before leaving we ask Mrs. Adams if all the children around the cabin belonged to her and Tom. "Not all," she said. "there's two in there (inside the windowless hut) that ain't our'n."

"Whose are they?"

She turned to old Tom and said. "Whose is them kids, Tom?" he didn't know either.

Half a mile over the hill are other huts, but young Alvie Adams was the only one at home. His hut, windowless like the others and with only one doorway, was less than eight feet square and was crowded with two iron cots and crude iron stove.

His wife, who probably was not more than 20 although he appeared to be 30, was sick and was lying in oven of the cots while Alive cooked a meal of "Johnny-cake."

Alvin's comment o n the war was similar to Old Tom's although he did know that Hitler is "that man in Germany." He produced a draft card, signed with an "X."

The "cave people," according to Westgate and the county health officer, wandered down into Sumner County a decade ago "from some place in the Upper Cumberland country."

Real Cave Dwellers

They dug holes in the side of the hill, covered the dug-outs with wood roofs, and began eking a living out of the hilly country by cultivating small patches of corn and potatoes with their crude implements.

The land they settled on was "open land" (no owner) when they first came down. Not so many months ago threw was talk of forcing them to move-but the leaders of that movement received a big shock –

The "cave people' had remained in peaceable possession of the land for the legal seven-year period, and so had attained squatters' rights to it."

Despite their ignorance of most worldly customs and despite the fact that not a one them can sign his name, they knew what "squatter's rights" meant and so they are still living in possession of their land.

Nashville Tennessean, March 1, 1942.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Health Aid

Women Posing as Male Civil War Soldiers

AUGUST 18, 1864

Two females dressed in Federal uniform were brought to the Irving Block from the front on Tuesday [16th]. They were arrested in the camps of the 21st Missouri Infantry, in which they were serving, one as a drummer and the other as teamster, under the named of Charley Davis and Wm. Morris. The drummer's real name is Jane Short. Previous to joining the 21st Mo., she served for over a year as private in the 6th Illinois cavalry; into which regiment she enlisted from Shawneetown, Ill,. where she resided before the war. She was at the battle of Shiloh, and was there wounded in the hand by a musket ball. After recovering she rejoined her regiment and participated in various conflicts, until prostrated by sickness and sent to the hospital, which led to her discharge. She then came to Memphis and lived, she does not say how for several months, when pining for the excitement of glorious war again, she joined the band of the 21st Missouri, in which she performed excellent service on the base drum until the time of her arrest. In appearance she is thick set, full-faced, has short hair of a light color, and blue eyes. In uniform one would never suspect her to be a woman; she looks much like an unsophisticated country lad of twenty years and [earnest?] modesty.

Lou Morris, alias Bill Morris, the younger of the two, is much better looking than her companion, seems more active and sprightly, and, consequently, less modest. She formerly resided in St. Louis, from which place she enlisted in the "Red Rovers" of the 10th Missouri cavalry, eighteen months since, and served nine months, passing unhurt through several engagements. She then deserted and coming to Memphis, lived as a woman until meeting with Jane short, with whom she started of the wars again, as teamster in the 2d Missouri Infantry. They were never acquainted before meeting at a hotel in this city. They claim that they have not revealed their sex, nor was it discovered by any of their comrades since they entered the service, and that their enlistment was promoted by patriotic motives only. They wanted to do a small share towards "licking the rebs" as Lou said. The cause of their arrest, Lou informed me, was that Jane became frightened at the report that the regiment was to be sent out, with others, to meet Forrest, and revealed their sex to one of the officers, who reported them at headquarters, when they were sent to the Provost Marshal of the right wing of the 16th Army Corps, and thence to Memphis. Lou said she was not frightened, and intends to join another regiment if she gets a chance. Jane is content to return to the paths of peace again. Lou, when dressed in uniform, looks as little like a woman as her companions, and presented the appearance of a hardy boy of eighteen. They are much tanned by exposure. It is the intention of the authorities to sent to their homes, if they have any.

Memphis Bulletin, August 18, 1864.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

April 7, 1863 - Report on subversive civilian activities in West Tennessee

April 7, 1863 - Report on subversive civilian activities in West Tennessee


Lieut.-Col. BINMORE, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Memphis:

SIR: I have the honor to inclose to you copies of letters captured in Richardson's camp, showing some of the schemes resorted to by those permitted to trade at Memphis and other points. I am keeping a black list, upon which all such individuals are registered.

Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


[Inclosure No. 1.]

RALEIGH, December 4, 1862.



We have daily application by deserters from the Federal camp at Memphis for paroles, and if we had any authority to do so, we could, through some friends at Memphis, induce hundreds to come to us. There is a great dissatisfaction in their camps, especially with the late levies, and by proper management they could be drawn off in large numbers. They come out, but are afraid to travel far in the country till they are paroled, for designing persons have told them that they would be captured by rebels and put in the Southern army, and their clothing taken. Two were sent to us on yesterday, who were anxious to be paroled, and we sent them in the direction of your camp. They said there were 50 men in their regiment who would escape if they were not afraid of our men harming them. We told them not to fear. We have an arrangement already in Memphis whereby we can induce many to come to us if we are authorized to parole them. We can procure from them a large number of side-arms at reduced prices, and we will let your men have them at cost. We can have them bring with them the best of arms, and thus weaken their stock of arms as well as men. We therefore ask you to authorize J. M. Coleman and myself to parole such as come, and we think we can in this manner contribute largely in reducing the strength of the enemy at Memphis, and also help to arm your regiment. If you approve our suggestion, we wish you to send us blanks printed for us all. Please answer us by the first one who comes from your regiment. We wish our names not known in the matter, because such would subject us to the baser outrages of the Federals, and we can at the same time conduct the matter so it will not be discovered. You can likewise keep the same with yourself, alone.

Hoping to hear from you soon, we remain, your friends,


OR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, pt. III, pp. 176-177.

[Inclosure No. 2.]

NEAR SOMERVILLE, TENN., January 29, 1863.


On my way home I sold one of my black horses to Mr. Broadenax, near Belmont. He belongs to Jackson's cavalry, and if Maj. Buery will show him the other, he will buy him also. I have contributed $25 toward buying Mr. Sharpe a horse for the service, and hope it will be all right with you. I shall start to Memphis to-day, and would be off before this, only I found my child very sick. I understand Grant has gone down the river, and that he left some 2,500 troops at Memphis in a disorganized state that he could not make go with him. You shall hear from me as soon as I return.

Respectfully, yours, &c.,


[Inclosure No. 3.]

FEBRUARY 1, 1863.


When I was at your camp I understood you to say that you had orders to break up the entire trade with

Memphis; consequently I now write to you upon a subject that interests a good many good citizens of this section. Since seeing you, one of Col. [R. F.] Looney's aides obtained from him permission for me to take five loads of cotton to Memphis, and Mr. George Hood, by a similar permit, has just returned from taking some down. Now, I wish to [know] if your orders and Col. Looney's are liable to conflict, or if I would be molested by soldiers belonging to your command, or not. My view about the one article of cotton is this, that most all of the people have sold all their cotton, while others equally as deserving of these privileges have not sold any, and that it would fall heavy on them now to have their cotton destroyed, and that it must be disposed of in one of these ways; that is, to hunt it up a burn it, let the people sell it, or wait till the Yankees come and take it for nothing. I don't think Gen. Pemberton fully understood the situation of the people here or he would not have given such orders.

I, myself, never thought of selling a bale of cotton until the Yankees got south of us, and I saw persons making money out of it that cared nothing for the South and gave themselves no trouble to accommodate Southern citizens or soldiers except at large profits.

My situation was this: I had lost all my property in Missouri. I have eight children there with my mother, by my first wife, who have been made destitute by the war. I had my wife and one child with me, and but $13 in my pocket, so it is not to be wondered at if I wanted to make something for their support, and while I have been taking cotton to market and selling it for both citizens and soldiers, I have been working out contraband articles of every kind for them and letting them go at Memphis prices. I will name some of the articles: Salt, domestics, soldier clothing, dress goods, cavalry boots, saddles, and horses, military buttons, gold lace, revolvers, caps and cartridges, medicines, &c. I have been spoken to how to bring out over a dozen revolvers and cavalry boots, hats, &c., and shall take my wife and several others down with the in doing so.

Mr. Pierce, Mr. McFadden, Mr. Yancey, and several others belonging to your command want me to take their cotton; also several ladies, whose husbands are south, in the army, and they need the money and several other things that they may want me to bring out; but I have nothing to lose, and don't want to get into trouble is the reason I write to you, and also thinking that possibly you and Col. Looney had decided any points about other things, and being of that opinion, I will make a proposition, and that is this: For every bale of cotton I am permitted to take to market, I will contribute to you $10 in Tennessee money, for the benefit of your soldiers, to be used as you may think proper, which, after paying $20 per bale for hauling, will not leave a very large margin for profits. At the same time I will ever be ready to serve you or your cause in any way that I can half-way consistent with my safety. I do not make this proposition to induce you to deviate from what you may conceive to be your duty, but thinking it might redound to the benefit of all concerned.

When I got home from your camp, I found my child sick with croup. Getting out also came very near laying me up, for my constitution has been had ever since I had congestive chills, in 1852, and I am fearful I have delayed going to Memphis so long that the revolvers and powder I spoke for may be disposed of; but I will learn in a few days. Please write to me by bearer, if you think it right and proper, also indorse [inclose?] me a pass to Memphis for myself and wagons, and I will come and see you upon my return.

Respectfully, yours, &c.,


N. B.-Strictly confidential.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, pt. III, pp. 177-178.

[Inclosure No. 4.]

FEBRUARY 4, 1863.


On my way home I sold one of my black horses to Mr. Broadenax, who bought him for his son, who was a soldier, and, I believe, belongs to Jackson's cavalry. I then gave Mr. Sharpe $25 toward buying him a horse, and wrote you a few lines by him, and inclosed your receipt for the horses. He will be there, possibly, by the time you get this. I hope, as a Southern soldier, even true, you will be satisfied with what I have done. In regard to bringing out ammunition and pistols, caps, &c., I can only say this: If any Southern man can get them in Memphis, I can, and if I can get anything that your men want I will do so, and you can have them at cost; but by having several teamsters with me, I will be materially aided in doing so. I fear no damage, except some Union Scoundrels should find out what I am and have been doing, and go to Memphis and inform the Yankees. Everything you say or do with me shall be between us, and I hope to become better acquainted with you.

Yours, &c.,


HDQRS. FIRST DIVISION, LaGrange, Tenn. April 7, 1863.

Lieut. Col. HENRY BINMORE, Asst. Adjt. Gen.:

COL.: Following the example of Maj.-Gen. Hurlbut in the matter of removing beyond our lines disloyal families for offenses, I have caused the accompanying letter to Col. W. W. Sanford, commanding Fourth Brigade, to be written. If it meets with the approval of the general commanding the Sixteenth Army Corps, I will see that the directions contained therein shall be promptly executed. I inclose also the letter from Col. Sanford, which called it forth.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,



HDQRS. FOURTH Brig., FIRST DIV., SIXTEENTH A. C., Germantown, Tenn., April 7, 1863.

Capt. H. ATKINSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.:

SIR: I have the honor to report that on the night of the 5th instant, a company sent out from Buntyn Station to patrol the road west of that place, discovered some obstruction placed on the railroad in two different places, composed of cross-ties and rails. They were sufficient to have thrown a train from the track. They were removed and a vigilant watch kept during the night, but the perpetrators were not discovered nor the object of these obstructions determined. I have caused a patrol of 20 men, under charge of an officer, to be sent out from each station every night, with instructions the road all night and keep a vigilant watch.

I have the honor to be, very truly, your obedient servant,

W. W. SANFORD, Col., Cmdg. Fourth Brigade.


Col. W. W. SANFORD, Comdg. Fourth Brigade, Germantown:

COL.: In answer to your communication of this date, in reference to obstructions having been placed at two different points on the railroad on the night of the 5th instant, the general commanding the division directs that you notify the six rebel families who live nearest the scenes of this outrage that they remove south of our lines within ten days, not to return during the war. You will see that this order is enforced. The most undoubted proofs of loyalty will be required when any doubts exist as to the proper subjects of this order.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

HOFFMAN ATKINSON, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

OR, Ser. I, Vol. 24, pt. III, pp. 178-180.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Social Evil

The Nashville Republican Banner of August 4, 1867, carried a tragic story under the title :"The Social Evil." It dealt with the deaths of two prostitutes o­n the 3d. August was even then known for slow news days and so this extended story appeared. It is unlikely that we would know about it if it had occurred in any other month. It was a sad story, however - both women died from an overdose of morphine, in two otherwise unrelated deaths. Death due to drug overdose are nothing new. :Yes, how we long for the good old days when there were no prostitutes and no drug addicts or overdoses, when America's moral fiber was strong and the only thing we had to kill were those pesky Indians. I digress. The story:

A double tragedy, bearing the nature of a coincidence, occurred at No. 116 and 120 South Cherry street, which resulted yesterday morning in the death of Jane Caroline Gills, alias "Matt Wells," and "Thursday Maury," alias "Lou Rice," alias "Lou Wilks. The two women were both handsome and dashing dames du pave [street walkers], who occupied, with other kindred and congenial spirits, the dwellings in question. The first is a one story brick, the other a story and a half frame, mildewed and somewhat out of repairs. They are just beyond Anderson's foundry, on the east side of the street. That quarter of the town is made up of small and dingy buildings, but is not considered disreputable. In other words, the gay ladies of the aristocratic jungles regard it as out of fashion and "second rate," and have long since abandoned it for more recherché regions to the north of the Square and Capitol Hill. Although the two unfortunate women came to their death by morphine, and were intimated, living next door to each other, it does not appear that there was any concerted design in the mode or manner of their death. We shall have to take the cases, therefore, separately, and, for the purpose of simplifying our story, begin with No. 116. There are some curious creatures that give color and character to each.


The habituĂ©s of the splendid house of Madame Elize, on Tenth street, in the City of St. Louis, will doubtless remember a sweet-faced, rosey [sic] cheeked, plump little girl, who came there three years ago from the neighboring country, and soon acquired, by her gaiety and vivacious manners, the sobriquet of the :Star of the West.: She was the daughter of a poor Welsh wine-presser, of the name of Gills, and had married a steamboat man before she was fifteen years old. Her husband took her to New Orleans and died, leaving her with one child. A year after she married again, and came up to Paducah, where she was left by her second lord and master who happened to be a "sport" and on the "rove." On his return he found her engaged in a desperate intrigue with an actor, with whom, like a philosopher, he wisely resolved to leave her. The actor soon deserted her, and thus she, after various adventures, found herself at seventeen, having given birth to and lost three children, an inmate of a brilliant house of ill-fame, its "chief care," and favorite. She played the piano, sang songs, gambled, caused two duels, was on and off with a dozen "lovers,": faded, grew desperate and finally disappeared. She came from St. Louis to Nashville just seven months ago.[so, she came - so to say- to Nashville in February 1867-ed.] Since her arrival she has devoted herself to a single "friend," but has shown signs of a reckless disposition. Her principal associate was a her neighbor, Lou Wilks and the two indulged only too freely in the "flowing bowl: for the purpose as they say of "drowning their cares: the o­ne had deserted a worthy farther [sic] and virtuous vineyard, and the other had here cause of grief and regret likewise, which we will relate.


On Temperance hill, in East Knoxville, there lived, perhaps there still lives, a worthy laboring man, Joseph Maury by name. He married about ten years ago - ran away with and married - a young girl from o­ne of the upper counties, of rich and respectable parents. They came to Knoxville where, they lived happily enough until the fall of that city in 1862 [sic], when a faithful wife and mother was converted by flattery and excitement into an abandoned woman. She was led astray by a Federal Colonel, and eloped with a soldier en route for the "front," who brought her to Nashville. Her husband was not able to follow her, but she contrived afterward to procure her only child, a son, who is now an orphan of about nine years old. Her career ever since has been ­ne of dissipation. Yet she is only twenty six- prematurely old, wrinkled and decayed.


Jane Gill, the "Star of the West," and Mary Wilks, the truant wife of poor [Joseph] Maury met for the last time Friday evening August 2d about dusk, on the suspension bridge. one had been in Edgefield on a business errand, and the other had repaired to the bridge to fill an appointment with her lover. The faithless man did not appear and the pair turned homeward down Market street. On the way home May Wild [apparently a prostitute friend] stopped at an apothecary's and bought some morphine. The pair parted soon thereafter.


Jane Gill entered her room flushed and excited. Her lover had not kept his appointment. The object, it seems, she had first in mind was the payment of her rent, which was due, and for this reason she had written him to meet her at the bridge, and he had promise her that he would do so. His failure evinced a determination not to "come down with the stamps." [sic] She was greatly depressed and talked much about her condition, saying that she would rather die than be turned out by the Sheriff [for not paying her rent]. A little before twelve o'clock (Friday night) she went to Page's drug store and bought a small bottle of morphine, representing that a woman had just been taken ill of cholera morbus. Previously to this she had drank at least a pint of whisky. When she returned to her room, Sarah Tucker, a negro servant, suspecting her design implored her to go to bed. The unfortunate woman, excited to frenzy, drew her knife and threatened to kill her if she approached. Then, by a sudden spasm of lunacy, she took the morphine and fell down o­n the bed. Dr. Plunkett was called, but when she arrived she was in a dying state. She breathed her last yesterday, at half past eight o'clock in the forenoon. When our reporter reached the house she had been dressed and laid out. The women in the vicinity had collected and paid all the respect they could to the body. They robed her in a plain black silk, with a white body, lace collar and cuffs. She looked as she lay there like an innocent young girl. She bore few or no traces of dissipation. Death seemed to have purified the remains of a guilty life.


About four weeks ago Lou Maury, alias Lou Rice, after a long career of dissipation was married to a man, James Wilks by name, and who was recently committed to jail for stealing mules. This livestock operator and declared enemy to horse insurance companies amused himself by writing letters to his "dear wife," and made numberless promises of amendment when released.

On Friday night, a man who has been moved by either shame or remorse (we do not pretend to say which) to request that we suppress his name, went to Lou. Wilks' house and conducted himself to such a manner as to cause her intense pain and distress. She had, it appears, been "sweet" on him, and had lived with him as his mistress some three years. She had supported him with her sinful gains, and had even sold her clothing to pamper his depraved appetites. He made the usual return - deserted her for another woman. On the night already mentioned he reproached her for having married Walks, and sore that, though she might cry her eyes out, he would never see her again. Having made her as miserable as possible, he left the house. In a few moments, about 12 o'clock, she had procured and swallowed the portion which terminated her wretched existence. The aid of the physician, Dr. Plunket, was called in too late. She died at half past ten yesterday morning [i.e., August 3] Her corpse was neatly laid out by her companions, put in a poplar coffin, and sent to her grave yard in a furniture car.

Nashville Republican Banner, August 4. 1867

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lesbians in Southern History

It is common today to accept lesbians, and for lesbians to assert their sexuality and life styles. In the Civil War, if they were not rejected because of their mysterious, and even unknown sexuality, they were nonetheless prosecuted. The usual 'tell" was the wearing of male attire and working at male employment. These two examples illustrate this assertion which while focused on Memphis but nonetheless repeated throughout the country. Lesbianism is nothing new, only more visible, tolerated and aggressive. These stories took place when Memphis was still under Confederate rule. Memphis had a reputation as being a "wide open" town. There is nothing new but the history you don't already know.
July 24 -25, 1861 - "A whisper was muttered that expanded into a rumor, and the rumor grew into a downright assertion that Dan, the polite, roguish, smart, industrious Dan, was a woman!" The saga of Civil War era Memphis lesbian Dan Edson.

The Livery Stable Clerk.—A livery stable in this city has, for a week or ten days, been under the management of a sprightly fellow, who told a good story, cracked his whip with a knowing jerk, and handled the ribbons with an off-hand skill that never failed to draw admiration from the profound students in horseflesh, who "know a thing or two." Dan Edson, for that was the young fellow's name, kept the books, fingered the money, managed the stable boys, let out horses and buggies, and discussed the points of a horse and the achievements of a racer as occasion called for, and all with the off-hand, decided style that he exhibited in everything he said or did. Dan, although not long in his new place, was becoming a favorite. The old frequenters of the place found it refreshing to rub up their slow ideas against Dan's rapid enunciation and trenchant vehemence. The young "bloods" about town—who love to drive to Fort Pickering at as near a 2:40 pace as whip lash can procure and hired hacks achieve—were fond of dealing with Dan. In their eyes, Dan was knowing; he had a jaunty air and a saucy look about him; and he always contrived, he did not know how, to make them o­n better terms with themselves than usual. They never felt so pleased with the set of their hat, the cut of their coat, the ring of their boot heels o­n the pavement, the glisten of the brooch in their bosom, or the color of their ungloved hands, as when Dan unobtrusively but insinuatingly called their notice to excellencies and beauties, distingue results they had often sighed for, but seldom before dared to hope they had attained. Dan was not in a situation to come much into the company of ladies; yet sometimes a lady would get into, or leave a carriage near the stable; Dan was then a model of attention and politeness. His manner was demure, but yet full of archness. The lips and brow expressed gravity, but the very duce was dancing bold and riotous pranks beneath the two arched eyebrows. Of course the few ladies who had enjoyed the pleasure of Dan's ready aid, as they mounted or left the steps of their carriages, were admirers of his. His modest demeanor and rakish looks delighted them. They were sure he was "the very devil among the girls." In fact Dan was o­n the way to greatness. But a few days he had taken the stable in hand, yet already everything seemed going like a piece of clock work, of which Dan was the regulator. The stable was feeling the benefit of his popularity, and by day and by night the empty halls of the neighboring grand hotel echoed with the tread of horses, and the trundle of wheels from the stable over the way. We must now take a graver tone. Man is mortal, and mortality is changeable, and a change came over Dan's expanding fortunes, and envious fate dashed from his hands the flowing cup of sweet prosperity. A whisper was muttered that expanded into a rumor, and the rumor grew into a downright assertion that Dan, the polite, roguish, smart, industrious Dan, was a woman! The assertion became accusation, and accusation stamped the story with certainty, when, yesterday, the chief of police and officer Winters waited upon Dan with an invitation to accompany them to jail. But Dan was not disconcerted—nothing disconcerted Dan Edson; he laughed in the faces of his visitors, and told them he had not time just then to attend to their jokes. Capt. Garrett put o­n his gravest look and assured the young scapegrace that it was a very serious matter. "Can't attend to you now, gentlemen, that's flat," said Dan. "I let o­ne of our horses to a gentleman yesterday, and he's gone and killed it. Rail fences, and mud roads after a thunder storm, don't do for hurdle and race practice. The fellow has to pay us for our horse, and I expect him every minute. I'm fond of fun, gentlemen; but we'll settle the jail subject when you call again. We can then take a laugh and a sherry cobbler together. "Good day, gentlemen," and Dan was retiring into the abysses of the stable, with o­ne of his saucy, laughing nods, when a few more words from the police convinced her that the play was ended, and the part she had assumed must be abandoned. With a jail for a green room, this was not so pleasant; but it had to be done, and there Dan. Edson was placed o­n the charge of being, properly, a tenant not of pants but of petticoats, and entitled to the name of Mrs. Ray. It is said that behind this adventure of playing clerk in a livery stable lies a story, to move to tears, of an outraged wife, sorrowing and heart-broken, but we cannot touch o­n grief that is too sacred for public exposure. What may come to light, at the investigation that will take place before the recorder this morning, we cannot tell.

Memphis Daily Appeal, July 24, 1861.

The Livery Stable Clerk.—Daniel Edson, the livery clerk of whose arrest we have given an account, was before the recorder yesterday morning o­n the charge of being a woman, Mrs. Ray, in man's clothes. A large crowd filled the court o­n the occasion. The lady appeared to answer the charge in the manly garb which she has chosen instead of crinoline and accompaniments. She was fined ten dollars, which she paid.

Memphis Daily Appeal, July 25, 1861.

Can a Woman Legally Wear Pants?—This question was presented in the criminal court, Judge Swayne, presiding, o­n Tuesday, in the case of N. D. Wetmore, livery stable keeper, who was arrested o­n a charge of employing Mrs. Ray as his clerk, she being dressed in man's apparel. We are indebted to a legal friend for the following report of the case, the petitioner, Mr. Wetmore, applying for his discharge o­n habeas corpus: In the matter of Mr. N. D. Wetmore, petition for habeas corpus, the facts appeared as follows: That a person supposed to be a female was in the employ of the petitioner as a clerk, or hand, at his livery stable; but there was no direct proof that said person was in fact a female, or was so known to petitioner to be. The petitioner was in custody, as the return of the city jailer showed, by order of a policeman. The questions raised under the proof were, whether the petitioner was guilty of any offense in law, and whether he was detained by authority of law. The court allowed time for the examination of the law o­n these questions, which was done by H. Vollintine, Esq., at the instance of the court, o­n the part of the jailer. It was afterward, o­n reference to the law, agreed that a policeman could not imprison a party in the day time, without examination before the recorder. It also appeared to the court, from the authorities, that employing or retaining a female in man's attire in service, was not an offense known to the law, however liable the female might be herself for thus being in a man's attire. Hence, the petitioner was discharged as before announced, there being no law to detain him.

Memphis Daily Appeal, July 25, 1861.

"The young 'bloods' about town—who love to drive to Fort Pickering at as near a 2:40 pace as whip lash can procure and hired hacks achieve—were fond of dealing with Dan. In their eyes, Dan was knowing; he had a jaunty air and a saucy look about him; and he always contrived, he did not know how, to make them o­n better terms with themselves than usual."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


His Arrest by a Vigilance Committee and incarceration in a Memphis Prison – Eighty five Union Men Whipped and have their heads shaved-the Cruelties of Siberia Exceeded-A Northern Woman Brutally beaten with a Knout [sic] –Escape to Cairo

So many discrepancies have found their was into the statements published by me respecting my arrest, imprisonment and escaped, in and from the City of Memphis, Tennessee, that I must request the use of your columns to correct the, and reconcile what now see, and justly, conflicting statements.

I think no o­ne will question the assertion, that in Memphis there exists a feeling of greater hostility to the North than in any other portion of the South; that the public sentiment of that people countenance and approve more flagrant outrages upon the persons and property of those known or supposed to have Union proclivities, that would be tolerated anywhere else. I presume this to be the fact, because there is scarcely an account of some indignity towards those who are indisposed to blacken their souls with treason, and subject themselves to the just censure of true men everywhere.

To those who are familiar with the state of affairs in that vicinity for the past five months, this has been known; and it has been accounted for solely upon the ground that in no city [in the] Southis there a larger proportion of Northern men, and of a class, too, who have no regard for the principles which should actuate all Americans in this crisis. Men who have learned, in the midst of starving, to forget all the principles which they were so well calculated to instill, and have become more Southern than the Southerner, and are now seeking, with the zeal of apostates, to prove themselves worthy [of] the of those among whom their lots have been cast; trampling under foot, in their eagerness to accomplish this end, all the claims of a common humanity, and rendering themselves amenable to the just vengeance of every man who loves his country, or abhors cruelty and oppression.

In the statement I am about to give, I shall speak o­nly of "that which I have seen," and in no case draw upon my fancy.

I am a Southern man myself, by birth, education and feeling all my prejudices have been with the South, and I would not now say o­ne work to cast odium upon a people whom I love, and for whom I would willingly sacrifice my own life, were it necessary, in defence of their rights, or in the maintenance of any principle.But when no wrong has been inflicted, no injury sustained, and no principle is contended for o­n their part, I cannot, and will not, prove my devotion to the South by avowing myself a traitor the country, for the sole purpose of aiding in the aggrandizement of those who have long since proven themselves unworthy [of] the confidence not o­nly of the South, but of honest men everywhere. Men who, were it necessary to accomplish their own ambitious ends, would lay their hands upon the pillars of the temple of liberty and pull them too the earth, though in the doing so they buried every hope of freedom throughout the world. Men politically and morally lost to all the principles of honor, and actuated solely by the selfish desire to elevate themselves event to ignoble positions, if they promise power and wealth.

It was my misfortune to view the present revolution in this light; and hence I became at o­nce obnoxious to the goof people of Memphis, who are unable to understand how it is possible for any o­ne to regard it otherwise than as a war for freedom and the rights of man.

Being thus blinded, I had the temerity to address a communication to the New York Tribune, in March last, commenting somewhat severely upon the conduct of the Memphisians in according an honorable reception a band of sturdy souls fro Mississippi, o­n their way to the seat of war in Florida. In that latter some surprise was expressed, and a body of men marching under a flag hostile to their own, with the avowed purpose of joining an army soon, as was expected, to engage ours in deadly conflict, should receive such cordial welcome, and bear away with them such unmistakable manifestations of friendship.

The character of Tennesseans had always been that of honorable men, and it could but excite surprise that, while receiving all the benefits and blessing resulting from the Union, they should permit those avowedly their enemies to march unmolested through their streets, and carry with them the impr5ession that Memphis was already as unanimous as Mississippi.

This was regarded as a crime far too heinous to go unpunished; and accordingly, when the contents of that letter became know to the people of that righteous city there was an universal demand for the author-couched, however, in such terms and promising him such evidences of their regard ad induced him-modest man as the was-to keep them ignorant as to his identity thus avoiding the hospitalities and honors which have been thrust upon him. Let no o­ne imagine, however, that I was safe, unless some proof was brought forward and the authorship of the letter clearly established. Noting could be more erroneous than such an ideal Suspicion o­nly as requisite, and this could easily be directed against me by any o­ne who cherishes any ill will towards me.

This was soon apparent, and a few days after the letter had been copied from the Tribune into the Avalance,[1] I had the honor of being visited by a select number of the immortal "Vigilance Committee," who respectfully requested to examine my effects.Nothing could have been more respectful than their demeanor; indeed, it was entirely too much so, and excited itself some apprehension and gave me a tickling sensation in the region of the thorax. After a thorough examination had been made, and innumerable questions asked, tending to fix the authorship of that particular letter upon me, all of which were in vain, I was politely informed that they "believed me to be a ____ Abolitionist, and intended to settle my case in the morning.
The precise meaning of this was readily understood, and I was locked up, that evening, under the firm conviction that it was my last night o­n earth. Excitement ran high, and the general demand was for the execution of an Abolitionist, or o­ne supposed to be tinctured with this heresy. And, from what I knew and had seen of the disposition made of such, I was justified in regarding my position as exceedingly critical.

In the morning, however, I was brought before the Vigilance Committee and underwent another examination, in which all the members who desired participated. It was evident that there was no disposition to find me "not guilty?' the o­nly object being to find an excuse to justify my execution. Here I stood before sixty men, every man of who was eager to sigh my death warrant. Not o­ne of them evinced the least disposition to give me their benefit of circumstances in my favor; but all were actuated by the determination to find me guilty, and where justly or unjustly. And while admitting that there was no tangible evidence against me, going to show that I was even a Northern man, much less an Abolitionist, they communicated their intention to confine me in the dungeon of the jail until they could ascertain from their friends in Baltimore and Washington what my real sentiments were. Accordingly, I was thrown into an underground apartment, rendered horrible by the absence of light and air, and loathsome by the presence of the accumulated filth of years; a prison quite equal to the famous "Blackhole of Calcutta," in its abominations.

The fare was in keeping with the quarters, and consisted of corn bread and as small quantity of water doled out in the morning of each day. Here, with the thermometer at about 95, I was compelled to remain from the 25th of April to the 6th of June, denied the privileges of communicating with my friends, and all access to me from them forbidden.

While here, I was frequently an eyewitness to some of the cruelest outrages that I believe it [is] possible for the ingenuity or depravity of man to devise. Outrages so entirely at variance with all my former conceptions of Southern character as (had I not witnessed them myself,) would have appeared not o­nly improbable, but impossible, to have been committed by them, and I cannot believe that in any other portions of the South, or among purely Southern men, such acts would be tolerated for a moment-indignities and enormities towards not o­nly men but women, which have almost frozen the blood in my veins, and aroused "a vengeance blood alone can quell;" a feeling of bitter and unrelenting hostility, which cannot be eradicated until a retribution as righteous as just, have been visited upon every an who has been a participant in such demoniac pleasures. Towards men, these cruelties were of daily occurrence, and the evidence of every man in Cairo connected with our army, will corroborate my statement-that more than eighty five men have had their heads shaved and their backs lacerated by the knout since the middle of last April. [sic] More than that number have found their way to Cairo, and are not waiting an opportunity to return and inflict summary punishment upon the people of that doomed city.
To this I had almost become accustomed, and looked quite naturally every morning for the perpetration of such outrages, but even this had not prepared me for what I had to witness before I left their prison. In all my imaginings, I never dreamed that in any moment of excitement there could be found, in any portion of this land, o­ne single man who would be base enough and fiend enough, to lay the lash upon the back of an innocent and defenceless woman. [sic] Incredible as it appears, it was done in the City of Memphis, o­n the 19th of May. [sic] The victim was a young, beautiful, refined and accomplished lady, who had resided there for o­ne year. Her offence was being from Maine, and expressing to loudly here wishes for the success of our arms.

She purchased a ticket for Cairo, and it appears was congratulating herself upon soon reaching a land of liberty, when an officer by the name of THURMAN arrested and brought here in the jail. She was confined all night, and in the morning about six o'clock she was brought in front of the rear door of the jail (in the yard), and after three [sic] men had been whipped with the knout, [sic] and their heads shaved, she was stripped to the waist, and thirteen lashes given her with a strap, and the right side of her head shaved. [sic] The wretch who did the whipping is named John Durall, and was originally a resident of Cleveland, Ohio, while this other fiend who held her arms, had recently left Syracuse, New York, and is named Thomas McElroy.

The outrage took place not more than five feet from where I was standing, inside the passage in the yard, and she fell back against the door when released. I spoke to her fully five minutes, and know her name and address, and have her likeness now in my possession. I shall never forget her appearance while suffering the infliction of this tremendous outrage. No o­ne work escaped her lips; not a groan came up fro her breast; not a sight was audible. But, the livid hue of her face, the compressed lips, the quivering of every muscle, attested how terrible was her woe, how keenly she felt the impious wrong. Would to God the advancing columns of our army could, at that moment, have entered that yard, and torn those incarnate devils limb from limb, and meted [sic] out to all concerned in this infamous proceeding-whether as participants or spectators-a punishment commensurate with their crime. And should the day come, when Union men dare to avow their sentiments in that city, and the presence of our army enable the eye witnesses to this transaction to return, there will be a terrible reckoning required at the hands of these barbarians.

I remained in this prison until the 6th of June, when, through the instrumentality of a true and noble woman, I was enabled to affect my escape. Money, of which there was a scarcity, triumphed o­n the fidelity of o­ne of the attaches of the jail. My den was opened and I was free. That I lost no time in finding other quarters may readily be imagined, and I succeeded in securing a hiding place with an old Irish woman until I could leave the city. This I did o­n the 11th of June, with but five dollars in my pocket, which carried me to Jackson, and from that point I was compelled to make my way to Cairo-one hundred and twenty miles without o­ne cent, and through a section country where I would have been hung in a moment if suspected of being from the North. I succeeded, however, after a jouironey of three days, with a mouthful to eat, in reaching the land of promise.

When I came in sight of the "Stars and Stripes" floating from the encampment at Bird's Point, all fatigue was forgotten, and with horse speed I ran until I was with the line of our troops No mortal man, unless under similar circumstances, can form an idea of the feeling which possessed me at that moment-the deep and profound gratitude to God for having guided me through so may perils and dangers, and brought me o­nce again to freedom….
~ ~ ~
July 18, 1861
Jno. McLean Collins

Philadelphia Inquirer, July 22, 1861

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

In 19th Century Nashville

In nineteenth century Nashville, during the Civil War the health conditions were appalling. Horse manure, open sewers, dead animals strewn about the streets, infectious diseases, out houses and urine created an abysmal, stinking setting. The City Council tried to take some measure against small pox, caused, they believed, by runaway slaves, or “contraband” while the army expelled prostitutes from the town in what would become a failed effort to eliminate venereal diseases, as great a threat to the army as the bullets of Rebels. The owner of the steamboat the army seized to transfer the prostitutes (a.k.a. “Cyprians”) had to petition the Federal government for reparations to cover the damage done to his ship done by the courtesans.

“City Council-Public Health.”

To-morrow evening there will be a meeting of the Common Council, and also of the City Council; the latter to elect a Board of Education, and the former to receive and act upon reports presented from the various Departments. Among the reports will be found one of great importance to every citizen, and resident-it is that of Spencer Chandler, the City agent of the Pest House. From it we learn that the small-pox is on the decline-the white patients being reduced from 18 to 7, and the black from 18 to 16. These figures would be a cause of congratulation were it not for one fact, namely, that the slight reduction of cases among the negroes is rather accidental than as indicative of any real check to the progress of the disease.

Mr. Chandler, than whom none are better qualified to judge, fears an increase not only of small pox, but of other diseases, among the blacks, unless some measures be adopted by the civil or military authorities, or both, to place the contrabands in healthy encampments, with guards and overseers to see after their health and morals. These contrabands are scattered over the city and suburbs, and are crowded together by dozens and fifties [sic], many of the men living in idleness, some by thieving, a large number of the women by prostitution, and all in filth, breeding disease, which will spread like wildfire over the city. So barefaced are these black prostitutes becoming, that they parade the streets, and even the public square, by day and night.

An order has just been received notifying all the white prostitutes to leave town immediately. Why not issue a similar order against the blacks? If military necessity demands the removal of the first, it certainly will require the latter, if the police and our own eyes are to be believed.

But leaving morality out of the question, let us look at the case in a sanitary point of view. Mr. Chandler tells us that wherever he finds a case of small pox among colored people, the house from which it is removed is crowded with inmates. How many of these inmates of a filthy den have contracted the disease? Among how many others will they spread it? How long [a] time will elapse before it breaks out in camps, or in hospitals?-(for many of the occupants of these dens spend their days in hospitals). These are questions to be reflected upon seriously by our City Fathers, if they would preserve the health of the city.

Mr. Chandler has already consulted with Gov. Johnson on the subject of encamping all contrabands in a healthy locality, and we are informed he looks favorably upon the subject, and Mr. C. recommends that proper measures be taken to carry out his suggestions, or some other, to preserve the health of the town. We commend the subject to the Common Council, feeling confident the will do what seemeth best to them.

Nashville Dispatch, July 9, 1863.

“Departure of the Cyprians.”

Yesterday [8th] a large number of women of ill-fame were embarked upon three or four steamers, and transported northward. The number has been estimated at from one thousand to fourteen hundred-probably five or six hundred would near the mark. Where they are consigned to, we are not advised, but suspect the authorities of the city in which they landed will feel proud of such an acquisition to their population. We hope the commanding officer will issue an order as soon as possible, ordering off all contraband prostitutes -- they contribute considerably more toward the demoralization of the army than any equal number of white women, and certainly have no more claims upon our sympathy.

Nashville Dispatch, July 9, 1863.

The statement of John M. Newcomb seeking reimbursement for damages sustained to the steamship Idahoe in July relative to damages to the “floating whore house.”

Washington D. C.

August 16, 1865

Hon. E. M. Stanton

Secy. of War


I must respectfully beg leave to draw your attention to the following statement of facts in relation to my claim for subsisting 111 prostitutes from Nashville, Tenn., to Cincinnati, Ohio, and back to Nashville, on board my steamer “Idahoe.”

On the 8th of July 1863, while my boat was under charter by U. S. [sic] and in service at Nashville these prostitutes were put on board of her by a detachment of soldiers who were ordered to do so by Lt. Col. Spaulding, pro.[vost] mar.[shal] gen. [eral] and Capt. Stubbs, asst. quartermaster who were acting under orders of Gen. Morgan. I protested against their putting these women on my boat. She being a new boat, only three months built, her furniture new, and a fine passenger boat. I told them it would forever ruin her reputation as a passenger boat if they were put upon her. (It has done so. She is not and has since been known as the floating whore house [sic]) and pointed out to them old boats that were in the service at the time which would have answered the purpose as well as mine, but no, they said I must take them. Being in the employ of the govt. and the control of Capt. Stubbs the quartermaster, I was compelled to keep them on my boat. On the same day that they were put on board I was ordered to start with them to Louisville. I asked Capt. Stubbs how these women were to be subsisted & he told me I would have to see Gen. Morgan about that. I saw Gen. Morgan and he told me to subsist them myself. I entreated of him to let the gov’t subsist them, that it could do much less [sic] (more?) than I could. His reply was, “you subsist them.” When I found Gen. Morgan determined that I should subsist them, I had to buy meat and vegetables at enormous high prices [sic] from storeboats along the river, and in addition at many places to buy ice and medicines, these women being diseased and more than one half of them sick in bed. I applied to other commissary’s of sub. [sic] along the route, for commissary stores, to feed these women; but at each place was refused by the officer in charge, and the civil as well as the military authorities would not allow my boat to land, and put guards along the shore to prevent me from doing so. When leaving Nashville I applied for a guard to be put on board. Gen. Morgan told me I did not need any, but to take charge of them myself. Having no guard I could not keep men along the route from coming on board to these women, when at anchor, and being angered because I strove to drive them away both themselves and these bad women destroyed and damaged my boat and her furniture to a great extent. When I arrived at Louisville I stated my grievances to Gen. Boyle and he gave me a guard and ordered me to proceed to Cincinnati and await further orders there. I remained in the stream opposite Cincinnati because I would not be allowed to land for thirteen days, when I was ordered to Nashville again with my cargo of prostitutes.

I wish to say to your honor that I was compelled to subsist these women, that it cost me all that I have made a charge for to do so, that the claim is merely a reimbursement of my money which I had to expend while complying with the orders of the officers of the United States government; that I could not have this money he returned me at the place where I was ordered to perform this service because officers who ordered me would not direct a settlement of my account to be made. I had to leave my business and travel from Cincinnati to this place to see if I could collect it-it being over two years due me. I am here now one week going from one office to another, to see to get my papers, and to effect a settlement,1 which I have not yet done, unless your honor will please direct payment of this account so justly due me, and for a long time.

The enclosed order from the officers directing me to perform this duty are herewith respectfully submitted for your consideration.

Very respectfully,

Your Obt. Servt.

John M. Newcomb

Statement of John McComb.2

1 Newcomb was reimbursed in full in October 1865.

2 TSLA, Record Group 29, B.23, f.19.