Monday, November 30, 2009

SCV Places Stone on Jacksonville, FL Mayor's Grave

Grave of former Jacksonville mayor finally gets recognized
Early 20th-century city leader was lost in a cemetery for years - but not anymore.
By Jessie-Lynne Kerr
Friday, Nov. 27, 2009

RICK WILSON/The Times-Union

Calvin Hart of Kirby-Smith Camp No. 1209 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans with a headstone for the grave of Confederate Gen. William Henry Sebring at Evergreen Cemetery, Jacksonville.Related Stories

For 83 years, the remains of William H. Sebring have been in an unmarked grave in the Masonic section of Evergreen Cemetery.

Not a very fitting memorial for a man who served as mayor of Jacksonville from 1907 to 1909.

But thanks to the efforts of members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ Kirby-Smith Camp No. 1209, which Sebring once commanded, and Solomon Lodge No. 20 of the Free and Accepted Masons, of which he was a member, a headstone honoring his service not only as mayor but as a Confederate soldier will be dedicated in a ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday.

It all began months ago, when Calvin Hart, commander of the Kirby-Smith Camp, was browsing through Uncle Davey’s Americana, a Civil War memorabilia shop in the Lakewood area of the Southside.

“I found a photo of a gentleman in a Confederate officer’s uniform with his name and 'Mayor of Jacksonville’ written on the back,” Hart said. “I had never heard of him.”

Intrigued, Hart began his research at the old City Cemetery. He and fellow members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans have been working the past 18 months refurbishing the cemetery and redoing the Confederate bandstand and the Confederate plot of graves from the Soldiers Home landmark. But he found that Sebring had not been buried there.

Next he went to Evergreen Cemetery, where records showed the former mayor had been buried there Feb. 17, 1926, after dying three days earlier at his daughter’s home in Swannanoa, N.C., at the age of 85. But Sebring’s grave was unmarked.

So members of the Solomon Masonic lodge paid $600 for Sebring’s 300-pound-plus headstone to be made of South Carolina white marble.

Hart, who works for JEA, considers himself an amateur historian but a dedicated Son of Confederate Veterans. He is unrelated to Isaiah Hart, considered one of Jacksonville’s founders. The next stop on his research path was the Jacksonville Public Library, searching through microfilm editions of The Florida Times-Union. He also pored through Confederate veteran histories.

Hart found that Sebring was born Christmas Day 1840 near St. Louis and raised on a farm. He attended an academy in St. Louis but at 14 began working as a clerk in a country store. Soon the lure of the West called and he spent several years working on the railroad. At 18, Sebring went to Memphis, Tenn., to read law under Thomas D. Eldridge.

On April 1, 1861, at age 20, Sebring enlisted in the 2nd Tennessee Regiment.

During his service, he sustained a stomach wound that took some time to mend. In 1863 he was transferred to the Confederate Secret Service, carrying military dispatches from the Confederate War Department in Richmond, Va., to various units.

He was captured July 15 that year, tried as a spy and was condemned to be shot. But he and three fellow prisoners managed to escape on June 18, 1864, and made it back across Federal lines to Richmond.

Sebring moved to Bronson, Fla., from Kentucky in 1871 and served as Levy County judge for four years beginning in 1877. He was commissioned a brigadier general of the Florida Militia in 1884. His highest rank in the Confederate Army had been lieutenant.

Sebring moved to Jacksonville in 1886, continuing to manage his interests in Levy County. He ran for mayor in 1907, besting two candidates in the primary, and then won the general election by garnering 1,627 votes to his opponent’s 89.

While serving as the city’s mayor, Sebring worked to make Jacksonville the park city of the South, extend the lighting service and pave roads.

Sebring also called for the tall buildings under construction — some as high as 10 stories — to include standpipes for fire protection; asked the local operator of the trolley car system to install a number of parlor cars for use during tourist season; urged the operators of the Atlanta, Birmingham and Atlantic Railroad to extend its road from Waycross to Jacksonville; waged a war against unmuzzled dogs; urged the city to hold a prosperity congress for the purpose of advertising Jacksonville and Florida; and served as president of the first Florida Exposition-Fair held here Jan. 20, 1909.

When he ran for re-election that year, Sebring came in second in both the first and second primaries. A comeback attempt in 1911 also failed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hero Pastor Remembered

Hero Pastor Remembered

By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian-Pilot
© November 9, 2009
This story was originally published Feb. 9, 2002.


It was 140 years ago Sunday that Union ships charged into the harbor here and finished off a tiny Confederate fleet, quickly ending a battle noted for making a hero of a diminutive minister, producing the Navy's first Medal of Honor winner and leaving behind one of the nation's best preserved cannon carriages.

The significance of the Battle of Elizabeth City was that it was part of the Union's early efforts to blockade port towns in the South and cut off trade, said Don Pendergraft, exhibit designer for the Museum of the Albemarle. Elizabeth City was a busy port then.

“They couldn't finance the war against the North,” Pendergraft said.

On Feb. 10, 1862, 13 Union ships commanded by Capt. Stephen Rowan sailed up the mouth of the Pasquotank River, intent on securing the city and destroying the Mosquito Fleet, a flotilla that had harassed Union ships along the coast.

The account of the battle comes from the books "Ironclads and Columbiads" by William R. Trotter and "The Civil War in North Carolina" by John Barrett and from articles in Civil War magazines provided by local historian Alex Leary. Commodore William F. Lynch had withdrawn the Mosquito Fleet from the battle of Roanoke Island two days earlier to get supplies in Elizabeth City. But he found only enough for two of his seven ships. He loaded the Seabird and the Appomattox and sent the Raleigh up the Dismal Swamp Canal to Norfolk.

Leaving the other ships behind, Lynch sailed toward the Albemarle Sound to return to the Roanoke Island fight only to hear that it had already fallen. So he returned to the Pasquotank to set up a defense of Elizabeth City.

Lynch placed the Black Warrior near the Camden shoreline and lined the others across the river as a defense. On the Pasquotank County shore he hoped a small fort at Cobb's Point would help fire on approaching Union ships.

The Union gunboats began their charge at about 9 a.m. on Feb. 10. Lynch was ashore as the battle began. The inexperienced militiamen manning the four-cannon fort ran for their lives.

Considering the fort vital to the defense, Lynch ordered the Beaufort crew to send men to Fort Cobb to man the cannons. But the gunners got off shots from only two cannons and did no damage.

Meanwhile, the Black Warrior was badly damaged by enemy fire and the crew scuttled it. A Union gunboat, the Commodore Perry, rammed the Seabird and sank it. The Confederate crew on the Ellis, commanded by Capt. J.W. Cooke, battled a Union crew. Cooke was wounded and taken prisoner.

The Fanny was shelled until it caught fire. The crew ran it aground. The Beaufort escaped to Norfolk. The Appomattox tried to escape to Norfolk, but it was too wide for the canal and it was scuttled.

With the capture of the town imminent, many people in Elizabeth City set fire to their homes and buildings to keep them from falling into the hands of Union troops, according to accounts in Pasquotank Historical Society yearbooks.

Articles and letters from the time describe a scene of panic.

In the midst of that, the Rev. Edward M. Forbes, 5 feet tall and 100 pounds, put on his robes in hopes the Union troops would respect his position while he tried to persuade them not to destroy the town. Not only didn't the Union forces destroy the town; they helped put out the fires set by the locals. Only the courthouse and the home of a prominent family were destroyed.

In 1995, local resident Ann Hughes organized an effort to honor Forbes, including placing a monument at Mariner's Wharf at the end of Main Street in Elizabeth City. Every year since, Hughes has held a small ceremony near the anniversary of the Battle of Elizabeth City. Forbes was the rector of Christ Episcopal Church. This year the ceremony will be held March 14.

During the battle in the Pasquotank River, John Davis, a gunner's mate aboard the Union's Valley City, became the Navy's first Medal of Honor winner when he sat on a keg of powder while others extinguished a magazine fire, according to A.A. Hoettling's book ``Damn the Torpedoes.'

Cooke, captured when the Ellis fell, was later exchanged for other prisoners. In the battle of Plymouth two years later, Cooke commanded the Ram Albemarle. Capt. C.W. Flusser, commander of the Commodore Perry in the Battle of Elizabeth City, also fought in the Battle of Plymouth. During that battle, Flusser fired a shell on a 10-second fuse at the Ram Albemarle. But the shell bounced off the heavy oak and steel hull of the Ram Albemarle and back to where Flusser was standing on his ship, Leary said. The shell exploded and killed him.

The Black Warrior's remains still rest in the muck at the bottom of the Pasquotank River near the Camden shoreline. Last summer, underwater archaeologists raised one of the cannon carriages. The carriage is one of the best preserved the archaeologists had ever seen, Pendergraft said.

It now sits in a tank of sugar water. In a complicated process, the sugar fills hollow cells within the wood and hardens, strengthening the carriage. Eventually the carriage, 4 feet wide and 5 1/2 feet long, will sit in the new Museum of the Albemarle under construction on the Elizabeth City waterfront, Pendergraft said.

The cannon itself is still underwater, he said, but archaeologists hope to someday find it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yankee Cannon to be Removed from Texas Ship Channel

Cannon to be raised from Texas City Ship Channel
Nov. 18, 2009

A scuba diver emerges from the murky waters of Galveston Bay on Wednesday, a day of contending with strong currents and unexpected ship traffic. Divers will be searching for and retrieving artifacts from the USS Westfield, a Civil War gunship.

Somewhere on the dark floor of the Texas City Ship Channel lies a piece of history that's 146 years in the making.

Divers and archaeologists set course Wednesday to retrieve a Civil War-era relic, a 10,000-pound cannon from a Union gunboat blown up by its crew during the Battle of Galveston in 1863.

But the excitement of discovery was tempered by strong currents, bad weather and unexpected ship traffic, setting back efforts to raise the cannon.

Divers working in 47 feet of water with zero visibility and strong currents tested the system Wednesday for bringing up the largest of thousands of artifacts spread across a half-acre of ocean floor. Officials hope to make the first retrieval today, said James Jobling, project manager for Texas A&M's Conservation Research Lab.

“This is the first day of operations, and we've had a few problems and sorted them out,” Jobling said.

Archaeologists are retrieving the remains of the USS Westfield to allow the deepening of the Texas City Ship Channel by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The $71 million project will deepen 7 miles of channel from 40 feet to 45 feet.

The law requires the $3 million preservation effort before the deepening project can proceed, said Sharon Tirpak, Corps of Engineers project manager.

The Westfield was being used as a Staten Island ferry when the U.S. Navy purchased it from Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1861. She was outfitted with a 100-pound Parrot rifle, a 9-inch Dahlgren gun and six 8-inch Dahlgren guns and saw action during the siege of Vicksburg before joining in the blockade of Galveston.

The USS Westfield was the flagship for a Union squadron of eight ships led by Cmdr. William B. Renshaw on Jan. 1, 1863, as a Confederate land force attacked Union troops in Galveston. Two Confederate gunboats with cotton bales piled on their decks, giving them the name “cotton clads,” attacked the union fleet.

The Westfield ran aground during the battle, and Renshaw ordered charges set so it wouldn't fall into Confederate hands. The charge ignited just as Renshaw and a launch crewed by 14 sailors returned to check the fuse, killing them all.

Several weeks of work
Confederate salvagers recovered all of the guns except for the 9-inch Dahlgren, said Bob Neyland of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Two cranes mounted on barges — a barge with water-tight containers to hold artifacts and a crewboat — are expected to be anchored over the wreckage site for several weeks near where the Texas City Channel joins the Houston Ship Channel.

Divers tethered to a barge by airhoses and communication lines will be walking blindly on the bottom, guided from the barge by operators using sonar maps, Jobling said.

The 9-inch Dahlgren gun and several cannon balls are among about 10 large items that will be brought up first by crane, said Janelle Stokes, Corps staff archaeologist.

Once removed, the large items will be shipped to the Conservation Research Lab in College Station. Then a large dredge will scoop up sections of the bottom and dump them into containers, said Donny Hamilton, head of the Texas A&M anthropology department. The containers will be taken to Freeport to be sifted and categorized before being shipped to the A&M lab, where special preservation techniques will be used to prepare the artifacts for display in museums. The preservation process will take several years to complete, Hamilton said.!d9&pId=lddglP9kZt4=&acn=zj!d9

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Florida County Prepares to Relocate Confederate Monument

County prepares to move Confederate monument
County administrator to create list of possible sites for statue.
By Bill Thompson
Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 6:30 a.m.

The Confederate monument that stood guard in front of the Marion County Courthouse for nearly a century, only to be stuck in a corner two years ago as the facility was expanded, is likely moving.


On Tuesday, the County Commission appeared to reach a consensus to relocate the statue of the Confederate infantryman, known commonly as "Johnny Reb."

That came after Ocala lawyer Lanny Curry proposed a public-private partnership to relocate the 101-year-old monument and volunteered to help raise the estimated $25,000 needed to move it from its present location, a nook on the building's south side fronting Northwest First Street.

To further the project, commissioners agreed to set up an account with the court clerk's office to accept tax-exempt donations and accepted Commissioner Charlie Stone's offer to serve as a liaison to work with Curry and other parties interested in finding Johnny Reb a new home.

County Administrator Lee Niblock said he would prepare at least three new locations for the board to consider at its next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 1.

Niblock indicated that the Ocala-Marion County Veterans Memorial Park, a site favored by many, is one option. Leaving the monument where it is will be offered as another, he added. As for where else it might go, Niblock was mum, only saying the spot would reflect the statue's "historical significance."

Johnny Reb was removed in 2007 from the front of the courthouse in downtown Ocala in preparation for a $41-million expansion.

Other than spending a four-year stint in storage in the late 1980s when the courthouse was last renovated, the two-story-tall, 15-ton statue has been a fixture at the facility's entrance since being dedicated in April 1908.

The current courthouse project is expected to be completed in January.

Former county administrator Pat Howard had designated Johnny Reb's current location as permanent and Niblock was inclined to concur unless the County Commission directed otherwise. Curry, a U.S. Navy veteran and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, appealed to the board to find a "suitable location" for the monument.

Relating that his great-grandfather, Lawton Curry, was a Confederate soldier in the Florida cavalry who had been wounded in battle, Curry said it was not "in a place of honor and not in a proper location."

His preference is the veterans' park, at Fort King Street and Southeast 25th Avenue, about two miles from where Johnny Reb is now situated.

Curry also said he was trying to fulfill a commitment to the late Tommy Needham, a former county commissioner and impetus for the park.

"I promised him that I would not let the issue go away," Curry told the commission.

Curry said he felt strongly about the need to sustain the memory of the efforts of those who fought in the Civil War.

While the monument has periodically ignited controversy as civil rights groups complained it is an affront to blacks, the commission's reluctance to overrule Howard's decision was primarily rooted in the cost of moving it.

Relocating the statue requires a specialized moving company that can dismantle its three fitted parts and reassemble it.

Stone suggested the board could perhaps convince some company to offer in-kind services to move it.

Once the cost issue is resolved, the monument should be placed in a more prominent position, Stone offered.

"It's just not in a location where people can see it on an ongoing basis," he said.

In other action, the board learned that Marion County had received almost $2.5 million in federal stimulus funding to make the courthouse and some county offices more energy efficient.

Roughly $727,000 of that amount will be used to install new cooling units to replace the 50-year-old units at the courthouse's heating and air conditioning system. An additional $303,000 will be spent to replace the facility's windows and lighting.

Another $450,000 will go for installing solar heating panels at the Marion County Jail.

Other improvements include updating traffic signals, installing waterless urinals, improving lighting and air conditioning at three county firehouses and replacing windows.

"It's a huge accomplishment that will save the citizens a ton of money," Commissioner Stan McClain observed.

Congress passed President Barack Obama's $787-billion spending program in February.

Preservation Trust Works to Save Portion of Chancellorsville Battlefield

Trust targets historic parcel

Preservation group hopes to preserve another 85 acres at Chancellorsville
Date published: 11/17/2009

A key piece of the Chancellorsville Battlefield associated with Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's 1863 flank attack is the next acquisition target of a Civil War preservation group.

The Civil War Preservation Trust yesterday announced a $2.1 million campaign to buy 85 acres, known as the Wagner Tract, along State Route 3 east of Wilderness Church.

The property includes 2,000 feet of frontage on the north shoulder of historic Orange Plank Road and lies within Chancellorsville Battlefield.

There, on May 2, 1863, Jackson led the flanking maneuver during bloody fighting that turned the tide of the battle in favor of the South.

"This land is arguably one of the most historically significant pieces of hallowed ground CWPT has ever saved, and we have just got to get it," said James Lighthizer, the organization's president.

Historian Robert K. Krick said yesterday that preservationists have been talking to Frank Wagner, a Fredericksburg veterinarian, for several years about acquiring the land.

"This is a big one. I'm prone to say this is the second-most-important [battlefield] land in the country" behind a tract on the Richmond battlefield, Krick said.

"We've taken the initiative because this is so stunningly important."

Timing is crucial, CWPT spokesman Jim Campi added. The Washington, D.C.-based preservation group is seeking $708,300 from the Virginia Civil War Historic Site Preservation Fund which expires in December.

CWPT hopes for another $500,000 from the federal Transportation Enhancement Program.

The remainder will come from donations from CWPT members.

The trust has preserved other significant land at Chancellorsville, including 215 acres where the battle raged on its opening day. The purchase price for that was $4 million.

The Battle of Chancellorsville began May 1, 1863, and lasted almost three days. It was considered Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's greatest victory.

Lee divided his army in the face of superior Union forces, sending Jackson on his 12-mile flanking march around the Army of the Potomac. After the Confederate rout of the Union 11th Corps, Jackson was accidentally shot by his own men and died five days later.

The Fredericksburg area has been a prime focus for CWPT's preservation efforts.

Three years ago, in its biggest purchase ever, CWPT bought Slaughter Pen Farm for $12 million. The 216 acres east of Fredericksburg on Tidewater Trail links critical components of the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Other major CWPT acquisitions in Virginia: 1,708 acres at Trevilian Station in Louisa County, for $1.9 million; Glendale in Henrico County, 566 acres for $5.6 million; Third Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley, 431 acres, $5.8 million.

With 55,000 members, the Civil War Preservation Trust is the nation's largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization.

It has preserved more than 28,000 acres of battlefield land, including 13,500 acres in Virginia.

CWPT is currently engaged in active fundraising efforts to save significant battlefield land at Appomattox Station, Glendale, Fredericksburg and the Wilderness.

Group Meets to Discuss The Wilderness Battlefield

LOCUST GROVE — After losing an initial bid to stop retail giant Walmart from building a store near the Wilderness Civil War battlefield, preservation groups and those opposing the project must take a critical look at themselves if they hope to achieve their mission, one official says.

Speaking to Friends of Wilderness Battlefield on Saturday during the group’s annual meeting, Russell P. Smith, superintendent of the Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania National Military Park, also said the matter is broader than the controversy between the Wilderness and the often-maligned Arkansas-based retailer.

“We learned a lot of lessons,” he said. “The conclusions that I’ve drawn go well beyond any single major discount retailer.”

The controversy reached a crescendo in August, when the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a special use permit allowing Walmart to construct a 138,000-square-foot store near Routes 3 and 20. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and six individuals have joined the FoWB in a lawsuit, challenging the supervisors’ decision in Circuit Court. A February hearing date is set for the matter.

Smith said one of the paradigms that must change is the perception that land must either be preserved forever or totally opened to development. Another, he said, is that the federal government should automatically purchase a tract of land if it has significant historical value.

Neither of those all-or-nothing lines of thought is practical or realistic, said Smith. Instead, he said legislators, preservation groups, communities and private individuals must unite to craft solutions that take into account the unique aspects of each situation.

He also said schools have not always made it a priority to educate kids — and the community — about the historical significance of places like the Wilderness, where the armies of Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant met in 1864.

“Kids shouldn’t grow up in this area and not know that they’re living near or on a nationally significant battlefield,” adding that funding for such programs is often hard to obtain.

“We’re going to rely more on the Friends and other organizations to get out there and beyond our boundaries and tell those stories in the schools, to get kids in the area to understand that where they live is really important — it’s really quite significant to the entire country.”

About 65 people attended the organization’s annual meeting Saturday at Lake of the Woods Church in Locust Grove. Guests included two University of Vermont graduate students who are studying the Wilderness Walmart controversy.

Other guests included Sen. Edd Houck, D-17th and Del. Ed Scott, R-30th. Both men praised the work of the Friends and assured the group that land use issues haven’t dropped off the radar in Richmond or Washington.

Houck, the event’s key speaker, said Gov. Tim Kaine should be recognized for fulfilling his promise to preserve 400,000 acres of open space. He also said federal stimulus money has been essential, allowing the state to continue support of land use issues despite ongoing budget shortfalls.

“Your outreach to Sen. Houck, to me, to others in the legislature is clearly paying dividends,” Scott said. “I’m glad to join with you today and I’m proud to be a member of your organization and I look forward to continuing to work with you.”

Manassas Prepares for 150th Reenactment

Published: November 12, 2009

Members of the Manassas City Council like the idea of commemorating the 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas so much that they’re ready to give up $100,000 to make it happen in 2011.

The battle, fought July 21, 1861, was the first major engagement of the Civil War.

Creston M. Owen, chairman of the board of Virginia Civil War Events Inc., was before the board Monday asking for the money.

Owen’s outfit of volunteers is poised to begin organizing the nine-day commemoration that is set to include a Blue and Gray Ball at the Candy Factory, a re-enactment of the First Manassas battle, breakfast with the troops and concerts on the lawn of the Manassas Museum and at the battlefield.

Owen told the council that it’s time to get started if the aim is to educate and attract the crowds that will generate income and put the area on the map.

“We’re only 18 months away. If we don’t start beating the drum now, we won’t get people here,“ Owen told the council.

Councilman Mark Wolfe called the appropriation an investment.

“The citizens out there can very well question why we would spend $100,000 ... an absolutely legitimate question particularly in these economic times, but the answer to that is we don’t have much choice,“ Wolfe said.“This is a once-in-a-lifetime, God-given chance for our community to stage something that can give and give and give.“

Wolfe said the commemoration of the sesquicentennial could be epic if done correctly.

“If we pull this off right, we’re going to create a Super Bowl-type event with all the publicity, all the notoriety and all the money that comes from that scale of an event,“ he said.

Owen told the council that he is looking for money elsewhere to supplement the city’s contribution.

“I believe we have pretty good support from the county. We’re making a formal request to them for a quarter of a million dollars, and from all indications at this point, it looks like we’re going to get that support,“ Owen said.

Owen has also met with the Prince William delegation of the Virginia General Assembly seeking another $1 million from the state.

“They are very excited about what we’re doing,“ he said of the delegation members.

Councilman Marc T. Aveni pointed out that the council’s unanimous vote Monday night only authorized an initial disbursement of $50,000.

Giving out the remainder of the money would be contingent on the county committing to its portion, Aveni said.

Councilman J. Steven Randolph called the commemoration a “natural.“

“Not only are we historically a central point, we’re a central point geographically to draw people to Manassas,“ he said.

Councilman Jonathan L. Way, who described himself as a “fiscal fuddyduddy,“ said he voted to spend the money because the city needed to look to the future.

“This is a wonderful project. We need always to have something grander than ourselves - looking ahead - where we’re trying to improve and develop the city,“ Way said.

Owen, who expects to organize tour packages to bring people from surrounding areas on trains and buses, said he hopes 250,000 people, including re-enactors and their families, show up over the nine days of the commemoration.

Tourists who visit national battlefield parks spend an average of $48.65 per person, per day, according to the Civil War Preservation Trust.

Owen said that if 100,000 people show up over the nine days of the event, that would pump roughly $43 million into the local economy.

“Of that, 24 percent is spent on lodging, 27 percent on food and beverage, 26 percent on shopping and 8 percent on admissions to museums and stuff like that,“ Owen said.

Texan Stands Up to Yankee General

Kilgore had a problem with Phil Sheridan
By Van Craddock

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Constantine Buckley "Buck" Kilgore was one of those larger-than-life Texans.

At his death in 1897, a newspaper described him as "one of the most famous backwoods characters that ever went to Congress and attained high federal office."

In 1872, the future four-term U.S. congressman deeded East Texas land to the International and Great Northern railroad. In gratitude, the I&GN named a new town site "Kilgore."

"Buck" Kilgore had been a Confederate cavalry officer during the 1861-65 Civil War, during which he was wounded and taken captive by Union soldiers. He remained in a Yankee POW camp until war's end.

That may explain why Kilgore became embroiled in a bitter dispute with a former Union general ... more than two decades after the war had ended.

A promotion

In May 1888, a New York congressman introduced a bill to promote U.S. Lt. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan to "general of the army," a title that hadn't been used since the Civil War. It was an effort to honor Sheridan, who had taken ill and wasn't expected to live.

Kilgore and many other Southerners didn't like Sheridan, who initiated a "scorched earth" policy while leading Union troops in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley late in the Civil War. In 1864, under Sheridan's orders, the troops destroyed crops, seized livestock and burned barns and mills.

It also didn't help that in 1866, Sheridan had been appointed commander of the Fifth Military District (Texas and Louisiana). The general didn't have much sympathy for ex-Confederates and ruled with a heavy hand. After numerous complaints, U.S. President Andrew Johnson removed Sheridan from his post.

So when the 1888 proposal was made to promote the ill Sheridan to general of the Army, Kilgore took the lead in opposing the bill. The East Texan used "points of order" and other legislative tricks to delay a vote on the issue for several weeks.

The result was a sort of "civil war" in Congress. Northern lawmakers were outraged that Kilgore would try to stymie the bill. Southern congressmen still smarting from losing the Civil War threw their support to Kilgore.

One Lone Star congressman backing Kilgore insisted, "No man who loves Texas and its history could support anything that might be favorable to Sheridan." Another Southerner said approving the bill would mean "sacrificing principle, manhood and state pride."


The dispute resulted in a national debate and newspaper editorials from coast to coast. Finally, after weeks of debate, compassion won out over old war wounds. The Congress, with support from former Confederates in the House, approved the measure in early June 1888. President Johnson signed the bill into lawJune 8.

"Buck" Kilgore voted "no."

Phil Sheridan officially became "general of the army." He diedAug. 5 and was buried in Washington's Arlington National Cemetery.

Kilgore continued to serve in Congress until 1895. In March of that year, President Grover Cleveland appointed Kilgore as U.S. judge in Oklahoma's Indian Territory.

Kilgore died in Ardmore, Okla., on Sept. 23, 1897, and was buried at his adopted East Texas home of Wills Point. The Dallas Morning News at the time called the colorful Kilgore "the ideal grenadier – tall, sinewy, handsome, brave, cool, with hair and beard white as snow."

The Galveston News noted the former Confederate cavalryman "could ride anything in the way of horse flesh. (Kilgore) often astonished friends by picking up stones from the ground to throw at them while riding at full gallop."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Anti-South Cultural Cleansing Continues at Ole Miss

Ole Miss head to band: Stop playing fight song
Chancellor asks band director to take 'From Dixie With Love' off play list

JACKSON, Miss. — The University of Mississippi's first-year chancellor followed through on a promise Tuesday and asked the band to stop playing a pep song because some fans are chanting "the South will rise again" at the end of the medley.

"Here at the University of Mississippi, there must be no doubt that this is a warm and welcoming place for all," Dan Jones wrote Tuesday in a letter to the university community. "We cannot even appear to support those outside our community who advocate a revival of racial segregation. We cannot fail to respond."

Dan Jones said last week he'd ask the band to take "From Dixie With Love" off its play list if the chant continued during the Northern Arizona-Ole Missfootball game Saturday in Oxford. Jones said the chant was heard.

Jones, who became chancellor in July, did not specify how long the song at Rebels games will be off limits, but he said elected student leaders can request its return if the chant stops. The tune blends the Confederate Army's fight song, "Dixie," with the Union Army's "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

The band has played "From Dixie With Love" before and after athletic events for about two decades. The practice of some fans chanting "the South will rise again" started in the past five years or so.

A message left at the home of band director David Willson, who has held the job 19 years, was not immediately returned.

The university has struggled for decades with symbolism that some see as racially divisive, including its mascot and the waving of Confederate flags at games.

Nickolaus Luckett, a 20-year-old junior from Drew and co-chairman of diversity affairs for student government, said he doesn't like the chant or the song "Dixie," but believes Jones had offered a compromise designed to satisfy people with a broad range of opinions.

Luckett said Jones was right to ask the band to stop playing the song after some students continued using the chant.

"I think it was something that needed to happen," Luckett said. "He said he was going to do it and the students came and directly disobeyed him."

The university's alumni association and coaches and some high-profile financial supporters, including Netscape founder Jim Barksdale, have said the chant should stop. But some students and fans see Jones' move as a restriction on free speech.

Beverly J. Clark of Jackson, who took graduate courses at Ole Miss in the mid-1970s, said Jones should not take away the chant or the song.

"He's not taking into consideration the thousands and thousands of people who love Ole Miss. There was nothing harmful about that chant," Clark said. "They've been trying to put some meaning behind it that's just not there. It's just not fair."

Six years ago, university officials decided not to have an on-field mascot during sporting events, getting rid of the long-standing Colonel Rebel, a white-haired old man who carries a cane and resembles a plantation owner. At the time, school officials had said they needed a more athletic-looking mascot.

In 1997, student leaders approved a resolution asking Ole Miss fans to stop waving Rebel flags at athletic events. University officials then banned people from bringing sticks into games — a move that dramatically curtailed the decades-long practice of fans' carrying the flag.

Jones' predecessor, Robert Khayat, said the Confederate flag had been used by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and it was not in the university's best interest to use it as a symbol.

Two people were killed on campus in 1962 during riots when the first black student, James Meredith, was enrolled at the university. Federal marshals had to protect Meredith during the court-ordered enrollment.

SCV Contributes to Texas Festival

Sons Of Confederate Veterans To Demonstrate Muskets At Syrup Festival
Staff Writer

HENDERSON -- Descendants of confederate soldiers plan to demonstrate steps of loading and firing a musket every hour, on the hour, throughout the 21st annual Heritage Syrup Festival on Saturday.

Mark Bassett, commander, described the procedure this way:

They will take out a paper cartridge containing powder, which the confederates called a Paper Lady.

"Ours are blank because we can't fire a musket ball (at the festival)," Bassett said.

They will tear off the end and load from the top, pouring in the powder and then the paper. Next, they will punch a ramrod all the way to the bottom to ram the wadding and powder down and remove the ramrod.

Upon picking up the musket, Bassett said, they will cock the hammer back to half cock, take out a primer that goes over the nipple and once they are ready to shoot, they will cock it all the way back, aim and pull the trigger to fire.

The old term "don't go off half-cocked" originated from loading muskets, Bassett said, because the musket won't fire half-cocked.

The musket demonstration will be a new festival attraction enacted by members of Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 2107, called the New Salem Invincibles after an original group of confederate soldiers from the Rusk County rural community of New Salem near the Lake Stryker dam.

Thomas Jay, adjutant, said, "A real fast infantryman could shoot three rounds a minute."

Bassett said, "Back in the Civil War, many staffs disappeared. (Soldiers) would get in such a hurry they would forget to take the ramming staff out and shoot it down range."

The Invincibles will shoot one, maybe two, muskets every hour, depending on the size of the crowd, the commander said.

"If it's a big crowd, we'll shoot a couple," he said. "I'm going to bring my confederate colt Navy pistol. It's a reproduction and what they call a cap and ball pistol. We might load it up and show people how we shoot it, too."

A large part of the camp's activities promote education about the Confederacy and the Civil War, according to Bassett.

Attired in confederate uniforms, the Invincibles will answer questions and discuss the Civil War with festival-goers, Bassett said, as well as listen to them tell about their ancestors. Bassett will wear a Confederate Marine Corps uniform of white pants, a long gray coat and blue cap.

"A lot of people want to get their picture taken with us in uniform," he said.

The Invincibles' festival booth, set up in front of the pioneer house on the Depot Museum grounds, will consist of two tables displaying historic items, some picked up from battle fields, such as musket balls, and an 1862 edition of the field manual for the Confederacy. Birdhouses and squirrel feeders will be for sale.

In front of the tables will be a display of all the confederate flags, including the "bonnie blue" and flags referred to as the first national, the second national, the third national and the battle flag.

For the remainder of this story see:

NAACP Hatred Rules Homestead Florida

Confederate flag swept to sidelines in Homestead parade
Written by ELGIN JONES

HOMESTEAD _ A handful of Confederate flag wavers who wanted to participate in Wednesday’s Veterans Day parade were relegated instead to spectators on the sidelines.

“This is a great day, but also a sad one,” said Gary Kalof, commander of a Sons of Confederate Veterans camp in Miami-Dade County. He watched the parade from a sidewalk.

“This is what the NAACP wanted, for us to be banned,’’ Kalof said. “They wanted to divide this community, which is what they always do.”

Dressed in clothing with Confederate battle flag designs on them, four members of two different Confederate states organizations; the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Southern MC [a Confederate motorcycle club] stood in one location, waving their flags.

Banned from participating in the parade procession, the men gathered in a single location along the parade route.

“The parade is great, and I don’t think anyone ever doubted it would be,” Southern MC member James Myers said. “We’re all Americans, and it’s just sad to see a veterans organization banned from a parade in this country.”

Other people who watched the parade had a different reaction.

“This is absolutely great! It’s the most dignified Veterans Day parade I’ve seen in Homestead, and I’ve seen many,” said Rosemary Fuller.

Pat Mellerson, a local business owner, expressed similar views.

“It was a very nice family event, and we look forward to many more,” Mellerson said.

Fuller and Mellerson are the two women who expressed outrage at seeing the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) in last’s year’s parade. The next day, they began a successful effort to have the groups and their flags banned from future events. The Miami-Dade NAACP joined their efforts to ban the flag from the parade and other publically sanctioned events.

In the process, they galvanized widespread support from a cross-section of the community in a movement that also saw four Homestead city council members defeated in last week’s municipal elections here.

“This is what we wanted. Respect for others’ feelings, and now we have it,” Mellerson said.

This year’s parade included over 30 organizations, including school bands. Fuller, a regular attendee of the parades, said it was about a quarter of the usual number of floats and organizations, and attributed this directly to the flag controversy.

“Who wants to come to an event where all of this nonsense is going on?” Fuller asked over the blare of police sirens and marching bands. “There are some people who wanted to kill the parade, instead of telling the Confederates now way, but the people spoke, and this just great.”

The Boy Scouts of America did not participate due to the flag controversy, which was not resolved in time for the organization to reconsider. However, a local troop did lead the pledge of allegiance, and stood next to the grand stand during the parade.

The controversy first began during last year’s parade when some black residents expressed outrage at seeing people dressed in Confederate soldier’s uniforms, marching and displaying Confederate battle flags.

Some people associate the Confederate flag with slavery, lynching, and racism. Others view it as a symbol of southern heritage, pride and that of a patriotic veteran’s group.

Mellerson and Fuller said they accomplished their goal, but will continue monitoring the parade and other public events to make sure the ban is not lifted.

“We made sure we stayed until the end of the parade, to make sure no one would try to pull anything, and this is what we will do throughout the year,” Mellerson said.

EJones@SFLTimes.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Jefferson Davis Library Ground-Breaking to be Held

Beauvoir Announces Ground-Breaking for New Library:

Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home, will conduct a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and Museum on at 2 PM on Sunday, December 6, 2009 (the 120th anniversary of Jefferson Davis' death).

The original Jefferson Davis Library opened in 1998 and was severely damaged in Hurricane Katrina on August 29,2005. Due to the damage caused by Katrina, the original library had to be demolished. The Combined Boards of Beauvoir have approved and signed a contract with J.C. Duke Contractors of Mobile for the construction of the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library.

The construction of the new library is estimated to be 550 days(18 months) in duration and the new building will be a 25,500 sq. ft. structure.

The public is invited to attend the ground-breaking of the new library on Sunday December 6, 2009 at Beauvoir.

Beauvoir is located at 2244 Beach Boulevard, Biloxi, Mississippi 39531. Phone 228-388-4400.

web address:

Monday, November 9, 2009

SCV Issues Statement on VFW Flag Ban in Homestead Florida


For Immediate Release:

Sons of Confederate Veterans Headquarters
Columbia, TN

The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) has been informed that they may not march in the Homestead, Florida Veteran's Day Parade with the Confederate Battle Flag. The SCV is quite surprised by this anomaly. The SCV honors and respects the members of the VFW, in fact many veterans are members of both. All across the nation the SCV and VFW have worked together in harmony and many occasions to honor America's Veterans.

However, the SCV condemns the decision by the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Homestead, the sponsor of the parade, as the Confederate Battle Flag is a banner which denotes the valor and bravery of some of America's most renowned veterans - the Confederate Soldier. By denying the SCV participation in the parade the Homestead post of the VFW has shown that it is no longer an organization that supports the memory of Veterans but is instead more interested in promoting an agenda of political correctness.

For the last 90 years Confederate Veterans have been recognized as US Veterans by the United States Congress. The actions of the VFW show that they believe they have the authority to re-define who qualifies to be recognized as a veteran in defiance of congressional statue. Further, the actions of the VFW, in denying the SCV entry into the parade, are repugnant to the sacrifice made by many millions of veterans who have fought to preserve the Rights of Americans as established in the Constitution.

This arbitrary action of the Homestead VFW Post is an affront to Southerners of all colors and ethnic backgrounds whose ancestors served honorably in the military of the CSA, and today continue to lead the nation in voluntary service and casualties suffered by U. S. forces in conflicts around the world.

In these times all Americans should be drawn together, and American veterans equally recognized, rather than be torn apart by a small group who wishes to inject controversy and disruption into the rightful recognition of ALL American Veterans. It is also greatly disappointing that the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post is allowing itself to be used in this manner.

The SCV urges the community in Homestead, Florida to express their rightful disappointment that the memory of one group of American Veterans, Confederate Veterans, are being disparaged by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

For more information contact
Chuck McMichael, SCV Commander in Chief, at 318-963-9892 or
Chuck Rand, SCV Chief of Staff, at 318-387-3791 or

The SCV is a 501(c)3 non-profit historical and educational organization founded in 1896. See

End of Release

S. D. Lee Institute Slated for Nashville, TN

FEBRUARY 26-27 2010

The American System of Liberty:
Nullification, Secession and States’ Rights

The Institute is now taking registrations and reservations for our upcoming meeting on February 26-27 in Nashville. Please call our headquarters at Elm Springs to register (1-800-MY DIXIE) or register at .

Don’t miss Thomas DiLorenzo, Donald Livingston, Kent Masterson Brown Marshall DeRosa, W. Kirk Wood, and Brion McClanahan.

A special treat will occur on Friday evening with a book signing by the authors and an unforgettable historical lecture on The Battle of Franklin by nationally known historian Thomas Cartwright.

Anyone desiring information can contact Brag Bowling at 804-389-3620.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Black Confederates to be Honored in Tennessee

Black soldiers honored with new markers dedicated Sunday in Pulaski
By Associated Press
November 5, 2009

PULASKI, Tenn. (AP) — New markers honoring 18 black soldiers who fought for the Confederacy will be dedicated Sunday at a cemetery in Pulaski.

All of the soldiers were from Giles County, and records show many of them received a military pension.

Cathy Wood is president of the Giles County chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She says her group and the Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter joined to buy the footstone markers, which will list the names, lifespans and unit numbers of the men.

Four of the soldiers are buried at Maplewood Cemetery, where the stones have been placed. The others were buried in small family cemeteries at farms around Giles County.

A cannon crew and color guard will take part in the ceremony at 2 p.m.,0,3260703.story

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Push for Sequicentennial Observances

Landrieu wants commission on war anniversary
By John Andrew Prime
November 2, 2009

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has taken up a banner of history that has fallen, at least on the field of battle.

She and fellow Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, of Virginia, have introduced the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission Act of 2009 “to establish a Commission to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War,” a release from her office states.
“We must remember the legacies of the Civil War,” Landrieu said. “The United States emerged completely altered after the four years of struggle, and as a testament of American resilience, grew stronger than it was before. The cultural and political ramifications still shape the American landscape today. It was in the era of Reconstruction that Congress adopted the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, acknowledging black Americans as free and equal citizens of the United States. The Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission Act of 2009 is about preserving that memory.”

As someone with ancestors who fought on both sides of the nation’s bloodiest war, Webb said it has special significance for him. “It is important that all Americans are aware of the many sacrifices made, by soldiers and civilians alike, for which we emerged as a stronger, more diverse and free nation because of these sacrifices,” he said. “The intention of this commission is to ensure the proper recognition of the sesquicentennial and builds on my other legislative efforts to support educational and preservation efforts for this turning point in American history.”

It is the latest of a series of efforts to remember a war that still divides Americans of all races and political leanings.

In 1996, Landrieu’s predecessor, Sen. J. Bennett Johnston Jr., sponsored legislation that called for the start of planning for the Civil War sesquicentennial and named the U.S. Civil War Center at LSU and the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College as the co-facilitators. Later, Virginia was added to the mix of planners.

Earlier this decade, former U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery, R-Shreveport, and some two dozen other members of Congress have attempted, without success, to pass legislation creating a U.S. Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.

Planning for the national centennial of the war, observed from 1961 to 1965, began in 1957. It competed with Sputnik being put into space by the Russians, the Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of a president and the beginning of the Vietnam War. But the centennial still became a tourist draw, with a national commission directing activities, an esteemed figurehead in Ulysses S. Grant III, 34 state commissions creating brochures and pamphlets and 300 city commissions coordinating activities. None of that was in evidence before 1957, though.

The Landrieu-Webb proposed commission would consist of 25 members drawn from government, business and academia, and would be charged to develop and carry out programs to ensure suitable national observance of the anniversary.

It also would work with state and local governments, as well as various organizations, to assist with commemoration activities and ensure that remembrance occurs at every level.

Two national organizations whose members are descended from soldiers who fought in the conflict, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, have been working for years to properly commemorate the conflict, and it is a special interest of the SCV’s new national Commander in Chief Charles “Chuck” McMichael of Shreveport.

“We started talking about it around 2000 and started our own commission two years ago to start making plans,” McMichael said. Whether his group would work with a national commission “depends on who is on it and what their focus is. We’re going to do our events. We’ll wait and see what they come up with, but we’re willing to be on the ground floor of it if they want us to be.”

A number of states already have established their commissions to begin planning, which may already be late on the national level.

“Oct. 16 was the 150th anniversary of the beginning of John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry and Oct. 17 was the anniversary of the retaking of it, with Col. Robert E. Lee at the head of U.S. troops,” said Gary Joiner, Shreveport historian and Civil War author. “Whether we are prepared for it or not, the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War began on Oct 17. Time waits for no one or any government entity. It marches on.”

Louisiana could benefit from the tourism of Civil War interest nationally and abroad.
Shreveport has a number of attractions to serve as a springboard for tourists. It was headquarters of the Confederate Army of the Trans-Mississippi, the seat of Louisiana’s Confederate government and, in June 1865, more than two months after Lee’s surrender in Virginia, the last part of the Confederacy to capitulate. It had 18 gun batteries and four earthen forts, several of which still exist to some degree.

But not all of its history is gray. It was occupied by federal troops until 1877, including black cavalry troops, and was home to one of the first people heavily involved in the state’s earliest civil rights movement, Union Army Captain and one-time state Lt. Gov. C.C. Antoine. He died in 1921 and Joiner and McMichael worked with Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, then a state representative, to properly mark Antoine’s grave in west Shreveport.

“Secretary of State Jay Dardenne is very interested in commemorating the Civil War in the state, and I would love to see it happen, too,” Joiner said. “It is something we need to do to honor all of our past, not just Southern, not just Northern, but American. It gives us, perhaps for the first time in our history, a chance to examine all sides.”

First Search For the Hunley

Letters illuminate first search for the Hunley
By Brian Hicks
The Post and Courier
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In the fall of 1864, a U.S. Navy officer serving in the blockade of Charleston set out on a quest that would consume some men for more than a century.

He wanted to find the H.L. Hunley.

William L. Churchill, a Union Navy officer, searched the waters off Charleston for the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley. But according to letters between Union naval officers recently donated to the S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia, Churchill was looking for a lot more than debris.

"His is also desirous of exploring the ocean bottom in the vacinity [sic] of the ill-fated Housatonic, with the view of finding the Torpedo Boat, which, by mail and clippings, taken from Rebel Journals, may have sunk very near her," Nipsic commander A.W. Johnson wrote to Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren.

That note, a rare contemporary mention of the Hunley, is part of a set of 27 documents donated to the museum by a private collector. Kristina Dunn Johnson, curator of history at the Relic Room, said the letters offer a view of the war not often found in Southern museums.

"We were especially interested because they were Union letters associated with the blockade," Johnson said. "Even though they are Union correspondence, they are central to South Carolina's wartime story."

The letters, many of which are either to or from Churchill, A.W. Johnson or Dahlgren, date from the early days of the war up to 1869, when Churchill had his own submarine company. Together, they tell the story of one man's journey through the Civil War.

The first letter notifies Churchill of his appointment as master's mate on the USS Susquehanna, a sidewheel steamer. From the deck of that ship, he watched the battle of Hampton Roads, where the USS Monitor fought the CSS Virginia (or the Merrimac) to a standstill. Soon after that, he wound up on the Nipsic, which took part in the blockade of Charleston Harbor.

Dahlgren allowed Churchill to make his survey, and the results have helped tell the Hunley's story.

In his report, Churchill declared the wreck of the Housatonic "worthless" and described the massive amount of damage caused by the 90-pound charge delivered by the sub.

But he did not find the torpedo boat.

"I have also caused the bottom to be dragged for an area of 500 yards around the wreck, finding nothing of the torpedo boat," Churchill wrote. "On the 24th the drag ropes caught something heavy (as I reported). On sending a diver down to examine it, proved to be a quantity of rubbish."

Churchill did not say, however, whether he searched in every direction around the Housatonic. The Hunley eventually was found seaward of the Housatonic wreck, a surprise that bedeviled archaeologists and treasure hunters for 130 years.

Read more about the S.C. Confederate Relic Room
The State's Military History Museum
"We're lucky Churchill didn't find it during this expedition," said Robert Neyland, head of the Naval Historical Center's Underwater Archaeology branch. " If he had, nothing would be left of the submarine today and it would have been a major loss for history."

When scientists raised the Hunley in 2000, they found a grappling hook that remains unidentified but may have been equipment such as Churchill would have used in his dragging.

As for Churchill, he eventually suffered a fate similar to that of the Hunley. Four years after the war ended, he was killed during an underwater demolition job. His body was lost at sea.

If you go

--The S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is at 301 Gervais St. in Columbia, in the same building as the State Museum.

--Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the first Sunday of each month from 1-5 p.m.

--Admission is $5 for adults.

--The Churchill letters are not currently on display but are expected to be on the Relic Room's Web site soon.

--For more information:

NAACP Hate Rules Homestead Florida

Confederate flag banned again
Written by ELGIN JONES

HOMESTEAD – Just days before the annual Veterans Day parade in Homestead, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) group announced on Wednesday that the Confederate battle flag has been banned from the event.

Political observers say the long-simmering feud over the Confederate flag issue contributed to the ouster of Mayor Lynda Bell and three council members from office in Tuesday's election.

“On Monday, November 2, 2009, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), the oldest veterans group established in 1896 was notified by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post commander Joseph Stahl, that we would not be allowed to enter the Homestead Veteran’s Day parade,’’ Gregory Kalof, commander of the Miami-Dade based Sons of Confederate Veterans camp 471, wrote in a press release sent to the South Florida Times Wednesday morning. “He stated that there were still strong feelings against the participation of the SCV but did not specify if it were the participants, organizers, or outside organizations.’’

Officials with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) group, which is organizing the Nov. 11 parade, could not be reached for comment about the reported ban.

To some, the Confederate flag is a symbol of southern pride; to others, it is a reminder of slavery, lynching and racial mistreatment.

The controversy in Homestead first erupted after black citizens, including Rosemary Fuller and Pat Mellerson, objected to seeing Confederate soldiers with their battle flags marching in last year’s parade.

“I am a child of the civil rights movement. My parents and grandparents suffered through a lot of discrimination and abuse during those times and that flag was a direct reminder of those things,” Mellerson said. “It’s offensive and represents brutality and oppression to so many people.”

The groups opposing the flag called on the Military Affairs Committee of the Greater Homestead/Florida City Chamber of Commerce, which originally organized the event, and the city of Homestead, which provided in-kind support, to bar Confederate States groups and their memorabilia from future parades.

Homestead officials reacted by explaining that the city was not the parade organizer, and therefore had no authority to ban any organizations from the parade.

The chamber initially could not reach any compromise on the issue. But after months of wrangling and pressure from the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP and officials in neighboring Florida City, decided in September to cancel the parade altogether.

The local post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Homestead took up the mantel, and applied for permits to organize this year’s parade, which will take place next Wednesday. VFW organizers have yet to confirm if they will impose a ban.

Mellerson said the issue may now be resolved.

“The flag should be in a museum, in their homes, or on their personal cars,” Mellerson said. “We have not been told this, but if it’s true, then it is the right decision. I love parades. They are good for the community and I will have no problem attending.”

In the press release about the flag ban, Kalof tied the fate of the Confederate flag's display at the parade to that of Bell, who lost her re-election bid on Tuesday.

Five of the city’s seven council members were up for re-election. Only one, Councilwoman Judy Waldman, won re-election. Waldman advocated ending the city’s support of the parade if the Confederate groups and their flags were not banned from it.

In stunning fashion, however, Bell and the three other incumbents were defeated by challengers.

Observers on both sides of the issue say they believe the election was a referendum on the flag controversy.

“In our opinion their standard of what has become a politically correct stance against the Confederate Battle Flag and all those that would support it are nothing short of political blackmail,’’ Kaloff wrote in his press release. “The NAACP doesn’t have a record of Veteran’s support but instead only promotes its own agenda of erasing all aspects of Southern heritage. It has contrived a crisis for political ends: to remove Mayor Lynda Bell and council members from the Homestead City government. It seems very clear now that their threats have produced the desired results. For shame, for shame, on the voters and residents of Homestead by not voting or submitting to the sham that has been placed over the City.’’

Fuller, who lives just outside the city’s limits in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, agreed that the flag controversy is what galvanized voters. But she, said, other issues were also at play.

“This was never about Lynda Bell, and it wasn’t politically motivated. She [Lynda Bell] said that. Our focus was always on keeping those offensive flags and symbols from this community event,” Fuller said. “They [council members] just blew it, and the voters spoke on Tuesday. If you go back and look at the council meetings, you will see where people who opposed the flag were demeaned and insulted.”

Fuller continued: “This is a good community and the people were just fed up, and it’s a refreshing day, and I do plan on going to the parade if they are banned.”