Civil War Times: October 1999 Letters

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Civil War Times
Civil War Times

THE WOMEN’S WAR

Finally a leading Civil War magazine recognizes the fact that Rosie the Riveter started many years before World War II (“Women in the Civil War,” special issue, August 1999), when American wives took the place of their husbands working in munitions factories when the men went off to war. They managed the family farms and plantations, spied for both the North and South, and worked as nurses in the hospitals and on battlefields. Some of the women were so intense that they donned uniforms and fought for their cause. All the above, with graphics, actual artifacts, and clothing from the era are currently on exhibit in the Bardstown, Kentucky, Women of the Civil War Museum. We feel that we are the first to recognize the need to portray the role women played. This new museum is a recent addition to our present Civil War Museum, which is recognized as one of the finest in the country.

Rita Herrmann
Curator, Women of the Civil War Museum

A DOUBLE STANDARD?

Disloyalty, sedition, revolt, rebellion, insurrection, uprising are synonymous and describe the Sheltons’ and Franklins’ reaction to their sovereign state of North Carolina’s secession from the Union. By their actions thereafter, they were guilty of treason against their home state as well as the Confederate States of America.

The Sheltons and Franklins became enemies of the state when they committed guerrilla warfare against their state and, thus, against the Confederacy. The soldiers were only doing their duty against their recognized enemy.

Disappointingly, the author’s version smacks with sympathy for the woman obviously crazed with bitterness and hatred. Nancy selected her and her sons’ destinies, and she alone is responsible for their deaths. Nancy should have been hanged for treason.

I take a different view from that of the author. From my observation, conception, and interpretation of the facts as presented, the Confederate soldiers were performing their wartime duty against an enemy who was actively trying to kill them–as proven by past skirmishes. The Sheltons and Franklins were the enemy of the state because, as recorded, they had performed villainous acts of treason, warfare, and murder against North Carolina and the Confederate States of America.

If this same scenario had occurred in Pennsylvania instead of North Carolina with the family being pro-Confederate and the soldiers Union, would the author have constructed this same message of sympathy and support for the law violators? I think not.

Frank Warren
Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Editor’s note: The article was based solely on the account of William “Bud” Shelton, a descendant of Nancy Franklin. It is the only existing written account of her story. The article pointed this out clearly and admitted an inherent bias.

THE MEANING OF ‘BUFFALO’

“Buffalo Soldiers in Black and White” (February 1999) mentions the use of the term “buffalo” in eastern North Carolina. It was used by Confederate soldiers elsewhere as well. It referred to Unionists from eastern Tennessee as well as North Carolina.

Lieutenant Colonel W. Stringfield was an officer who served in eastern Tennessee in 1864. He kept a diary that contains two references to “Buffalo.” His entry for February 1 read:

Carter’s Depot, Tenn–Returned from a five days scout in Grasy Cove etc. Back to our old ‘Stamping ground’–guarding bridges seems to be my fate–I will submit for a while–& in the mean while hunt ‘Buffalo’ hunting to pass away time.

For February 14, his entry was:

Valentines day. I rec’d one pretty little missive–Thanks to my sweet ‘Incong’–Went ‘Buffalo’ hunting to day and caught a ‘tar tan.’

I believe “buffalo” was a derisive term used by Confederates to describe any Unionists hiding in the mountains of eastern Tennessee and North Carolina to avoid conscription.

The article lumps all buffaloes together as “pro-Union vigilantes.” There were three distinct groups: the “outliers,” who fled to escape the draft, the deserters who had gone AWOL from the Rebel army, and the outlaws who would rob from either side. Not all outliers and deserters became bushwhackers. Many became Union soldiers when the Federal armies came close enough for them to enlist. When the Unionist North Carolinians of the U.S. 2d North Carolina Infantry were captured at Plymouth, North Carolina, in 1864, Major General George E. Pickett had 22 of them hanged, alleging they were deserters. Such men deserve a better description than “vigilante.”

Jim Maddox
Johnson City, Tennessee

RESCUE AT SANTA ROSA ISLAND

I read with great interest the articles about Florida in the war in your June issue. Pertaining to the Confederate attack on Santa Rosa Island on October 8, 1861 (“Florida’s War of Nerves”), I thought this excerpt from a letter of Dr. J.H. Randolph, whose son William was with the Confederate forces at Pensacola, might be of interest. The letter was written to my wife’s great-grandfather, George Fairbanks, and was dated October 17, 1861.

The absorbing topic with us is the late attack on the enemy on Santa Rosa. You have read all the particulars, but some personal items may interest you. William was detailed to accompany the expedition but Col. Anderson would not allow him, & went himself in command of one half of the forces. When the retreat was ordered Doctor Gamble seized a Federal boat and placing five of our wounded in it put off directly across the bay for our camp, drawing fire of the fort upon his boat. Five shot (cannon) were fired at him.

Arthur J. Lynch
Los Altos, California

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©1999, Cowles History Group, Inc. d/b/a PRIMEDIA History Group, a division of PRIMEDIA Special Interest Publications.
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