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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: August 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

10th Annual Confederate Prisoner of War Event at Petersburg, Virginia September 14th

PETERSBURG, VA -- The public is invited to Petersburg's 10th Annual Richard Poplar Day Memorial to be held on 14 September 2013 at 11:30 a.m. at Memorial Hill in Blandford Cemetery. This memorial program joins our nation's National POW/MIA Recognition Week in honoring all our nation's POW/MIA military heroes.

A Petersburg resident and member of Company H., 13th Virginia Cavalry, Pvt. Richard Poplar was captured alongside other members of his unit as a Prisoner of War in July 1863 at Gettysburg, PA. Pvt. Poplar was confined at Fort Delaware for five months and confined at the infamous Point Lookout, Maryland Prison for 14 months. He overcame this 19 month peril at these Prisoner of War camps in a most heroic manner that required outstanding courage and sacrifice.

In May 1886, our local Petersburg Index-Appeal newspaper provided a brief history of POW Richard Poplar's military service along with his obituary. These can be found on the Web at In these newspaper accounts Pvt. Poplar was also was recognized by his veteran comrades for providing aid and comfort to his comrades while confined at Point Lookout including those fellow Petersburg residents captured during
Petersburg's famous Battle of the Old Men and Young Boys on 9 June 1864, a date which is a Petersburg Memorial Day today. In his passing Richard Poplar was given a large military funeral and laid to rest with his fellow comrades at Memorial Hill. "His pall bearers included Capt. E. A. Goodwyn, Capt. J. R. Patterson, Gen. Stith Bolling, Col. E. M. Field, and Mesrs. Jesse Newcomb and R. M."

On Sept. 18, 2004 Petersburg Mayor Annie Mickens recognized and honored POW Richard Poplar at Blandford Church and presented the Richard A. Stewart/Pocahontas Black History Museum of Pocahontas Island, Petersburg, a Petersburg City Proclamation honoring Pvt. Richard Poplar.

Ms. Teresa Roane will be this year's program special guest speaker. Ms. Roane was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. She earned her B. A. in history at VCU. She worked for eight years at the Richmond Public Library followed by 15 years at the Valentine Museum’s library. She is currently the Archivist at the Museum of the Confederacy. She has served on the boards of Friends of the Richmond Public Library, Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods and Historic Richmond Foundation. Teresa has given many presentations and workshops, and she spends her free time reading, watching movies and walking battlefields.

Additional program details are available at or by contacting the Blandford Cemetery Information Center.

Friday, August 16, 2013


By Bob Hurst

Generally, when any discussion is held of remarkable deeds of great valor or exceptional cunning by Confederates, the subjects involved in these exploits are almost always the magnificent leaders and troops of the land forces - be they infantry, cavalry or artillery. This is only logical since the Confederate Navy was quite small and with the exception of just a few vessels ( the C.S.S. Alabama, C.S.S. Shenandoah, and C.S.S. Florida, primarily ) the exploits of most Confederate ships are not well known.

Undoubtedly, though, one of the most noteworthy exploits of the war (on land or water) involved a lesser-known Confederate ship, the C.S.S. Tallahassee, and its daring escape from a blocked harbor by a route which was considered impassable. The amazing escape of the TALLAHASSEE occurred on the evening of August 19, 1864, from the harbor at Halifax, Nova Scotia, under the command of a not-well-known , but highly interesting, individual named John Taylor Wood.

John Taylor Wood was likely the first white child born in what is now Minnesota. His grandfather was Zachary Taylor who would become the 12th president of the United States. His mother's sister, Sarah Knox Taylor, was the first wife of Jefferson Davis. (Sadly, she died of malaria just three months after the wedding.) John Taylor Wood, thus, had the distinction of having a grandfather who was a U.S. president and an uncle who was a Confederate president. He was also a nephew of Confederate general Richard Taylor and a distant relative of Robert E. Lee. That is some interesting family!

Even though he was born in the Midwest, he yearned to be a seaman and joined the U.S. Navy as an acting midshipman when he was only 16 years old. By the time that war broke out in 1861, he was a professor of seamanship and gunnery at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Despite this , he resigned his commission and joined the newly formed Confederate Navy as a second lieutenant. Interestingly, one of his first assignments was aboard the C.S.S. Virginia which was involved in the famous battle of the ironclads (against the U.S.S. Monitor) at Hampton Roads, Virginia, in March of 1862.

In early 1863, Wood was appointed aide-de-camp to President Jefferson Davis and promoted to the rank of colonel of cavalry. Despite the title, he had the primary duty of inspecting naval defenses and vessels at key Southern ports. Later that year he went back to sea and commanded expeditions which resulted in the capture of a substantial number of Union ships. This led the Confederate Congress to recognize him with a joint resolution of thanks. He was also promoted to the rank of commander in the Confederate Navy.

John Taylor Wood's true ambition was to command a Confederate commerce raider and wreak havoc on Northern shipping in the same manner as Raphael Semmes and the C.S.S. Alabama, James Waddell and the C.S.S. Shenandoah and John Newland Maffitt and the C.S.S. Florida. To achieve this end, he went to Wilmington, North Carolina, one of the few Southern ports not subject to a Union blockade, and began looking for a vessel that could be converted into a cruiser for use as a commerce raider.

He finally settled on the ATLANTA which was a 200 foot long iron-hulled steamer of 500 tons which was fore-and-aft rigged and capable of 14 to 15 knots. He armed the ship with three guns and it was officially christened the C.S.S. Tallahassee and commissioned on June 20, 1864. Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory then issued orders for the TALLAHASSEE to be used to find and destroy Northern merchant Ships.

John Taylor Wood was now ready to do some serious damage.

On August 6, Wood and his crew of 20 officers and 110 men headed north. By the time the TALLAHASSEE reached Maine on August 17, 25 Union vessels had already been taken out of commission. The ship badly needed refueling, though, and also some much needed repairs. To achieve this, Wood sailed to the nearest neutral port, Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he dropped anchor on August 18.

In the meantime, U.S. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles had been notified of the damage done by the TALLAHASSEE and he was fit to be tied. He kept ordering Union warships to go after the TALLAHASSEE and eventually there were a dozen on search missions up and down the Atlantic coast.

Shortly after reaching port at Halifax, John Taylor Wood went to British authorities to discuss his need . He was told that in compliance with the British position of neutrality he could use the port for only 24 hours except in cases of distress. Wood then went to the Confederate agent in Halifax, Benjamin Weir, to obtain his assistance.

During this time, U.S. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles had been notified that the TALLAHASSEE was in port in Halifax. Shortly afterwards, two Union warships dropped anchor just outside the three-mile limit off a neutral coast and several more headed toward Halifax. The Union plan was simply to wait until the TALLAHASSEE had run out of its allotted time and then attack the ship as it attempted to leave Halifax by way of the main channel that connected the harbor with the ocean.

The situation seemed hopeless for the TALLAHASSEE as there were only two channels that flowed from the harbor to the ocean. The west channel, called "the main channel", was straight, deep and broad. This channel was used by all large, heavy ships like the TALLAHASSEE. The east channel was narrow, crooked and shallow and used only by small boats. It was considered impassable for any ship the size of the TALLAHASSEE.

Realizing the difficulty of the situation, Wood contacted Benjamin Weir, the Confederate agent, to inquire about the name of the best harbor pilot in Halifax. Weir recommended an experienced pilot named Jock Fleming.

Wood and Fleming then began working on an escape plan. Wood asked if it would be possible to reach the ocean through the east channel as the Union warships were all waiting just outside the main west channel. Fleming advised Wood that the east channel was "narrow and crooked" and with a long ship like the TALLAHASSEE he wouldn't advise it. Fleming then mentioned that with the right tides he might be able to find fourteen feet of water and this would be sufficient to float the ship but the channel would still be narrow and crooked. This was all John Taylor Wood had to hear and he told Jock Fleming that if he could find the water, Wood would keep the ship in the channel no matter how narrow or crooked it might be.

Fleming said they would have to leave by 9 o'clock that night to take advantage of the tides. At 9 o'clock the TALLAHASSEE started out with all lights extinguished on a night that was very dark and overcast. In an amazing feat of seamanship, Fleming and Wood kept the ship in the channel that was considered impassable for all but small fishing boats. For hour after hour the large ship slowly made its way through the narrow, crooked, shallow channel in the darkness of night until finally reaching open waters. The Union ships waiting at the mouth of the main channel to the west never had a clue.

The Halifax newspaper later reported on this feat of daring in a sense of disbelief. I can only imagine that the five Union warships that were waiting at the end of the western channel for an anticipated easy target were also in a state of disbelief when they realized what had happened. I would also imagine that quite a number of people tried to stay as far away as they possibly could from Gideon Welles until some time had passed after this amazing feat.

John Taylor Wood and the crew of the TALLAHASSEE returned to Wilmington to be met with cheers and hero worship. There was also another promotion for Wood but the adventures were not yet over for this daring man.

As the War was coming to a close, Wood joined his uncle, Jefferson Davis, and members of the Confederate Cabinet as they made their way south from Richmond hoping to eventually reach Mexico and other destinations. The group was captured near Irwinville, Georgia, but the ever resourceful John Taylor Wood was able to escape by bribing one of his Union captors. This guy was good! He worked his way through Florida and eventually sailed to Cuba where he joined other Confederates including the great John C. Breckenridge.

Wood eventually worked his way back to Halifax and joined a community of about 30 other unreconstructed Confederates who had settled in Nova Scotia. He started a business in partnership with Wilkinson Wood and they became highly successful. They also proudly flew the Confederate Flag above their offices for many years. He also maintained his friendship with Jock Fleming until the death of the latter.

John Taylor Wood, the man who had done the impossible by making it through the impassable, died in 1904 and is buried in Halifax near the grave of his friend, Benjamin Weir.The heading for his obituary in the newspaper read," Brave and Noted Man has Gone to His Rest".

How very true; but he was, after all, a Confederate!


P.S. I must add a postscript to this tale of John Taylor Wood and the C.S.S. Tallahassee. I have discovered through research that the memory of the TALLAHASSEE lives on in Halifax. In the community of Eastern Passage there is a school named Tallahassee Community School. The motto of the school as stated in Latin on the school crest is, "Through Difficulty to Success". What a poignant reminder of the amazing escape of the ship. The logo of the school contains the image of a twin-masted ship of 1860's vintage. Now, what ship could possibly have served as the model for that? It pleases me no end that there is still a bit of the Confederacy in Nova Scotia. May it ever be so. BH

Bob Hurst is a true Son of the South with special interests in the Confederacy and the antebellum architecture of the South. He is Commander of Col. David Lang Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, in Tallahassee and also is 2nd Lt. Commander of the Florida Division, SCV.

Note: Some previous articles of CONFEDERATE JOURNAL are available in book form. Articles from 2005-2007 are in Volume 1 and can be ordered at http://createspace.com3540609/ and articles from 2008-2009 are in Volume 2 which can be ordered at http://createspace.com3543269/

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Hero

By Bob Hurst

War can bring out the best in some people and the absolute worst in others. It can present a stage upon which the character and nobility of some can be recognized while revealing in others the total absence of these two traits.

An event that occurred in New Orleans early in 1862 allowed both sides of this phenomenon to be well demonstrated.

The War for Southern Independence produced many heroes and I have written about a number of these magnificent individuals during the years I have been writing this column. There have been, of course, articles about outstanding military leaders such as Nathan Bedford Forrest, Robert E. Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, JEB Stuart, Pat Cleburne, Turner Ashby, Joe Wheeler and others. There have been articles about those whose realm was of the political nature - Jefferson Davis and the "fire-eaters" come quickly to mind. Some of the Confederate heroes chronicled in this series were quite young like John Pelham, Richard Kirkland, Dewitt Jobe and more. The distaff side has also received attention in articles about Confederate heroes (or should I say "heroines") like Rose O'Neal Greenhow, Belle Boyd and Sally Tompkins.

This article will be different from all those previous articles, however, because this hero (the subject of this article) did not wear a uniform, was not a spy, was not involved with the government and, in fact, was not officially involved with any part of the war effort. William Mumford, you see, was a civilian who rose to the occasion, demonstrated great bravery and, in my opinion, should be recognized as a Confederate hero.

Mumford's story begins on the morning of April 25, 1862, when a federal fleet steamed into the port of New Orleans. David Farragut, commander of the fleet, sent a message to the mayor of New Orleans directing him to remove the Confederate flags that were flying atop city hall, the mint and the customshouse in the city and replace them with U.S. flags.

The mayor politely refused to do so.

The next day a small crew from a union ship went ashore and raised a Stars and Stripes to the top of the flagpole atop the mint after first removing the Confederate flag that had been flying there. They then warned a crowd of New Orleanians who had been watching that if the federal flag was removed the city would be fired upon.

Soon after the union sailors departed to return to their ship, a small group of men, led by William Mumford, made their way to the roof of the mint and removed the Stars and Stripes that had just been raised by the yankee sailors.

True to their word, a union ship unleashed cannon fire on the mint and, during this process, William Mumford was injured.

Two days later, federal land troops under the command of Major General Benjamin Butler reached the city.
{A brief not here about Ben Butler: He was a corrupt individual and an ineffective military leader who was relieved of several commands because of his incompetence. This was not unusual for politically-appointed generals. He had the nicknames "Beast" and "Spoons" - "beast" because of his scandalous and wicked behavior toward civilians, and "spoons" because of his penchant for stealing personal items of civilians in occupied areas, especially their silverware. Not surprisingly, after the war this reprobate was elected governor of Massachusetts.}

In a meeting with Farragut, Butler was briefed on the events concerning the flag at the mint and he vowed to first capture Mumford and then hang him.

New Orleans city officials surrendered the city on April 29 and two days later federal troops began arresting prominent citizens. Many were sent to prison and many others had their personal property confiscated by the Beast and his troops.

William Mumford was quickly arrested and charged with high crimes and misdemeanors and sent in chains to a location where he was held prisoner for the next month. He was then sent before a military commission (even though he was a civilian) where he pleaded "not guilty" to the charges. Only three witnesses were allowed to testify (all for the prosecution) and no mention was allowed that Mumford's actions had taken place before the city had been surrendered to the feds and, thus, was still under Confederate jurisdiction when his "crime" occurred.

William Mumford was found "guilty" by the commission and Butler issued an order for him to be executed. Many citizens of the city (those that Butler had not yet had arrested), Mumford's wife and even some union officers petitioned Butler to suspend his execution order.

The "Beast", of course, would have none of that.

On the day of the scheduled hanging (June 7), William Mumford was taken to the site of the deed which was the courtyard of the mint. The crowd that had gathered there was estimated to be in the thousands.

Mumford was allowed to address the crowd from the gallows. He spoke calmly and indicated that he had indeed taken down the Union flag but had no regrets for his action because it was driven by his patriotism and love for the Confederacy. He continued by saying that as a veteran of the Seminole War and the Mexican-American War, both as a Union soldier, he had a love for the "Stars and Stripes" itself , but a hatred for its uses under "Northern tyranny".

At this point, the trapdoor was opened and his execution was completed.

Eleven days after the hanging, Governor Thomas O. Moore of Louisiana made an address to the people of the state concerning William Mumford in which he stated that his murderers had offered to suspend the execution if he would "abjure his country and swear allegiance to her foe". The governor then continued: "He spurned the offer. Scorning to stain his soul with such dishonor, he met his fate courageously and transmitted to his countrymen a fresh example of what men will do and dare when under the inspiration of fervid patriotism."

As might be expected, news of this hanging was greeted throughout the South with anger and calls for retributive action directed at Butler. President Jefferson Davis issued a proclamation declaring Butler to be a felon and ordering that if Butler was captured that the commanding officer of the capturing force "...cause him to be immediately executed by hanging."

General Robert E. Lee contacted the Union General-in-Chief demanding an explanation to why a Southern citizen was executed for an act performed before the city was occupied by Union forces.

The Charleston MERCURY newspaper editorialized that Butler should receive no quarter from any Southern man and that if captured he should be hanged and if not captured either poisoned or carved up well with a knife.

Although not well-recognized as a Confederate hero, William Mumford displayed courage, character and nobility in choosing death with honor over compromising his beliefs and his patriotism toward the Confederacy.

Even though he never wore the sacred gray, his internal strength and his unquestioned devotion to the Cause make him, in my opinion, one of the bright stars in the galaxy of Southern greatness.


Note: Previous articles of CONFEDERATE JOURNAL are available in book form. Articles from 2005-2007 are in Volume 1 and can be ordered at http://createspace.com3540609/. Articles from 2008-2009 are in Volume 2 and can be ordered at http://createspace.com3543269/.

Bob Hurst is a Son of the South who has special interest in the Confederacy and the antebellum architecture of the South. He is commander of Col. David Lang Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, in Tallahassee and also serves as 2nd Lt. Commander of the Florida Division, SCV.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Celebrate, Remember and Honor Our Confederate History

Post Card is from 1915

1,000 School Children Gathered on the Steps of The South Carolina Capitol in Celebrate, Remember and Honor Our Confederate History. How is it that this, once Common Knowledge, has been Successfully Purged from Southern Minds.

National SCV Honors Dyer

On Saturday, August 10, 2013, Fort Washita Brigade Commander Allen Harrison presented Compatriot Jim Dyer, BG Stand Watie Camp #149, Ardmore/Madill, with a Certificate and Medal of Commendation for service to the Sons of Confederate Veterans issued by the SCV National Convention of 2013. The Stand Watie camp has members from Carter, Love, Marshall, Bryan, and Johnston Counties.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Virginia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans Opposes proposed merger of the Museum of the Confederacy

The Virginia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans stand in staunch opposition to the proposed merger of the Museum of the Confederacy, The Virginia Historical Society and the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. The name Museum of the Confederacy should stay in perpetuity.

The Museum was formed by the Confederate Memorial Literary Society to collect and receive all books and other literary productions pertaining to the late War Between the States, and of those engaged therein; all works of art or science, all battle-flags, relics and emblems of that struggle. This was done to preserve the name and use for documenting this phase of history for future generations.

To change the name or to attempt to change the presentation of any of these artifacts is in direct violation of this Memorial to that most defining struggle. Changing demographics and ideas must not be allowed to attempt to revise true history. Furthermore, let it be known that we request a National flag of the Confederate States of America to be flown on each building that serves as Memorial to this time period in Confederate history.

We ask that should this merger continue that everyone contact these Museums and Officials at every level to tell of your displeasure. No matter what walk of life a person is from, history should not be erased or modified. We need to protect our history for our children and their children.

Sons of Confederate Veterans, VA Division
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