Sunday, September 28, 2008
Throughout the month of October, we will explore some of the South's most intriguing ghost stories!
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, stories about them are an important part of the culture of the American South.
They remind us of the days before radio and television when our ancestors spent fall and winter evenings telling stories by firelight. In addition, many such tales originate from true historical events and were a way that the generations before us preserved the memory of important times and people.
Our series will start on October 11th, so be sure to check in daily throughout the month for new stores and places.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
If you are interested in learning more about one of the most significant Civil War actions in Florida, the Blue Springs Society of the Children of the American Revolution will offer a unique opportunity to do so next Saturday (September 27th).
The day will mark the 144th anniversary of the Battle of Marianna, Florida, and the C.A.R. will be hosting two guided tours of the Marianna battlefield.
The tours will begin at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the historic Russ House (Jackson County Chamber of Commerce) on West Lafayette Street (U.S. 90 West) in Marianna. The cost to participate is $5 for individuals over 12. Children 12 and under can take the tour for free.
Each of the tours will last 60-90 minutes and will give participants a chance to visit some of the key points associated with the fighting including St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
Friday, September 19, 2008
If you haven't seen it yet, CNN reported this week that smugglers have turned to submarines in an effort to sneak drugs across the Gulf of Mexico and into the United States.
As novel as it might sound, this is not exactly a new idea. In true Southern tradition, moonshiners on the Mississippi River once used a homemade submarine to slip illegal whiskey to shore from a hidden island distillery. Powered by a Model T Ford engine, the little one man sub carried moonshine from Davis Island to shore during the early days of prohibition.
The Mississippi Moonshine Running Submarine is now a permanent exhibit at one of my favorite historic sites, Grand Gulf Military Monument near Port Gibson, Mississippi. The site of an important battle during the Civil War's Vicksburg Campaign, Grand Gulf was a significant community on the Mississippi River during antebellum times.
Floods and disease drove away most of the inhabitants, however, and most of what remained of the town was destroyed during the war. The park today preserves a fascinating array of historic sites and artifacts, including earthwork forts and entrenchments, historic structures... and the moonshine running submarine!
You can learn more about Grand Gulf Military Monument and its little known submarine by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/grandgulf1.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
If you are interested in the Civil War in the Deep South, you might enjoy a special series that is starting today at Civil War Florida.
The series provides a day-by-day telling of the story of the 1864 Union Raid on Marianna, Florida. The deepest penetration of Florida by Federal troops during the entire Civil War, this raid was longer than Sherman's March to the Sea and culminated at the small but bloody Battle of Marianna on September 27, 1864.
The first movements of the raid began 144 years ago today when advance troops crossed Pensacola Bay to establish a landing point for the main body of Brig. Gen. Alexander Asboth's Union command.
To learn more, check in daily for the latest updates at http://civilwarflorida.blogspot.com.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
If you are interested in learning more about one of the most dramatic encounters of the Civil War west of the Mississippi, you might want to check out a series now underway on our sister site, http://civilwararkansas.blogspot.com.
The series explores the history of the Battle of Poison Spring, Arkansas, a major encounter of the 1864 Red River Campaign.
This Confederate victory started the process of ending the Arkansas phase of the campaign and was the first of a series of critical battles that resulted in the retreat of the Union troops back to Little Rock.
The battle was significant because of its role in ending the campaign and is also controversial because of allegations that Confederate Choctaw and Chickasaw troops murdered Union black soldiers from the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry as the fighting degenerated into a rout.
If you would like to follow along with this series and learn more about this fascinating battle, please visit http://civilwararkansas.blogspot.com. You can also learn more about the Battle of Poison Spring by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/poisonspring.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I am pleased to let you know that my latest book - The History of Jackson County, Florida: Volume One - has officially been released.
If you pre-ordered a copy, your book should arrive no later than the end of next week. If you are expecting a copy and it hasn't arrived by then, please let me know so I can check on it for you.
If you are interested in ordering a copy, I recommend you order directly from the printer for fastest service. I'll include details at the bottom of this post.
This book is the first in a three volume series on the history of Jackson County, Florida. Although the book is technically a county history, Jackson County was so closely tied to major events in the early history of Florida and the Deep South that I think you will find it of interest far beyond the borders of the county.
Volume One covers the years from 1674-1860 and covers the Spanish mission era, American Revolution, War of 1812, First Seminole War, early settlements, Second Seminole War, Trail of Tears and even includes an in-depth study of Jackson County's favorite ghost story as well as the truth behind the legend of the county's lost pirate treasure.
The book is large (well over 300 pages) and features maps, photographs and a detailed appendices that includes the county's 19th century Native American census. Paperback copies are $24.95 and hardcover copies are $29.95. Profits from the book are being donated to the Daughters of the American Revolution to assist in developing a new historic marker program for Jackson County.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
One of the bloodiest and most startling events of the Civil War's Red River Campaign was the Battle of Poison Spring, Arkansas.
Confederate forces under Generals Samuel B. Maxey and John Marmaduke attacked a massive Union supply train at Poison Spring, about ten miles west of Camden, Arkansas, on April 18, 1864. By the time the battle was over, more than 200 Union soldiers were dead or missing and 170 wagons and 1,200 mules had been seized by the Confederates.
There were allegations that black Union soldiers were murdered following the battle, primarily by Confederate soldiers from the Choctaw Nation. The Choctaw warriors were irate at the Federals over damage done to their homes and families by these same Union troops over the previous year. Hundreds of Choctaw families had been left homeless by Union operations in the Indian Territory of present-day Oklahoma, and legend holds that the warriors exacted their revenge when Federal troops broke and retreated at Poison Spring.
The Battle of Poison Spring is memorialized today by Poison Spring State Park in Arkansas. If you would like to learn more about this historic Civil War battle west of the Mississippi, please visit our new Poison Spring pages at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/poisonspring.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Hurricane Gustav came ashore in Louisiana this morning. Fortunately it weakened some and was a Category 2 storm at landfall. So far it looks like the levees are holding in New Orleans and damage to the city is minimal.
Damage and flooding is taking place in other areas around southern Louisiana and there was video on television of flooding in Grand Isle.
I've been trying to keep track of the status of historic sites in the region while also praying for the best for the residents of Louisiana. So far, Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans has reported that a fire broke out in an antebellum house in the city but was contained by firefighters. I do not know the extent of the damage.
As I see more on the status of historic sites in the area, I'll keep you informed.