More on the Story

 In the June 2013 “Past & Present” there was a mention of Mississippi finally approving the 13th Amendment. But I have some questions. Did Mississippi vote on the issue in 1865? You say Mississippi was the “last state”—does that mean last out of the 1865 states or today’s? Does its present-day vote count toward its ratification?

Al Papas

Minneapolis, Minn.

Editor Dana Shoaf replies: Mississippi was the last state of the Confederacy to pass the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. To be accepted into the U.S. Constitution, an amendment requires ratification by three-fourths of the states. Mississippi, Kentucky, Delaware and New Jersey did not ratify the amendment when it was proposed in 1865, but enough states did so that it became law—even in the four states that failed to ratify the 13th Amendment.

Eventually Kentucky, Delaware and New Jersey ratified the amendment. Mississippi finally did in 1995, but a procedural oversight prevented the approval from being formally accepted. When Dr. Ranjan Batra, a University of Mississippi Medical Center professor, saw the movie Lincoln, it piqued his curiosity about Mississippi and the amendment, and he realized the 1995 vote by the state’s legislature had not been sent to the Office of the Federal Register. Dr. Bantra’s inquiry made sure that happened, and the amendment was finally formally ratified by the state on February 7, 2013.  

Cumberland Gap Railroad

It was gratifying to see your coverage of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and our recent success at apprehending vandals defacing historic cannons in the February 2013 issue. However, the statement that the “Gap had great strategic value because the railroad turned south through it to reach Tennessee” is inaccurate. The closest railroad to the Cumberland Gap during the Civil War was near Morristown, Tenn. The railroad under the Gap was not built until 1889.

Dick Wiley

Acting Superintendent Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Stonewall and FDR

I enjoy reading your magazine, and I never cease to learn something new. I have been an ardent Civil War buff since the age of 10, when my parents began taking us kids to visit battlefields and museums throughout the South— back when finding artifacts among the fields was more commonplace. The Civil War was always “reality” history for me during the early 1960s, particularly since my father and grandfather had heard so many firsthand accounts (as children and young men) from surviving veterans. My great-great-grandfather was a sergeant major and later a lieutenant in the same company of the 39th North Carolina Infantry for four years, killed in July 1864 at Atlanta (Peach Tree Creek). His son, my great-grandfather, was born in 1858 and then orphaned (along with a sister and four brothers)… resulting in a destitute family, the same as thousands of other families were left throughout the South following the war.

I was quite intrigued by the “Mystery in the Wilderness” article in your April 2013 issue by Chris Mackowski, regarding the resting place of Stonewall Jackson’s amputated arm. I had never known of the 20th-century involvement of Smedley Butler in any exhumation attempts or ceremonial recognition by the federal government. However, I believe there is an error on P. 42, where he describes the presidential entourage as including Secretary of the Navy Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy died in 1919, and I’m confident that Mackowski was referring to Franklin D. Roosevelt. But it’s a good article nonetheless.

John Robert Baldwin

Via e-mail

Editor Dana Shoaf replies: Several readers caught the problem with the Roosevelt reference. We did indeed mean to refer to FDR. Thanks for setting the record straight.

Originally published in the August 2013 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.