Mission Of This Blog

The overall mission statement of this blog is to share many unique topics of this blogger's interest; promoting though education the uniquely positive values of Southern history, heritage, and cultural identity. Topics include (but are not limited to):
Southern Cultural History & Confederate Heritage Awareness, Symbols Of Southern-American Identity & Their Moral Defense, Nature & Wildlife Preservation, Science & Science Fiction, Astronomy & Planetary Photography, Literacy & Writing, Travel & Local Places Of Interest, Southern Cuisine, South Carolina Upstate History, Popular Culture & Philosophy, Local History of the South Carolina Upstate ....as well as various other topics explained from the blogger's point of view. The following website contains the UNCENSORED thoughts and opinions of a Southern-born country writer from upstate South Carolina - the living, beating heart of the great American Southland! Please enjoy and feel free to post comments, or contribute to this blog in any meaningful way.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Georgia Volunteer

Dedicated to the everlasting memories of all those
Known But To God

who wore the hallowed gray and butternut uniforms of Dixie.

A Georgia Volunteer

Far up the lonely mountain-side
My wandering footsteps led;
The moss lay thick beneath my feet,
The pine sighed overhead. 
The trace of a dismantled fort
Lay in the forest nave,
And in the shadow near my path
I saw a soldier's grave.

The bramble wrestled with the weed
Upon the lowly mound;
The simple head-board, rudely writ,
Had rotted to the ground;
I raised it with a reverent hand,
From dust its words to clear,
But time had blotted all but these--
"A Georgia Volunteer!"

I saw the toad and scaly snake
From tangled covert start, 
And hide themselves among the weeds
Above the dead man's heart;
But undisturbed, in sleep profound,
Unheeding, there he lay;
His coffin but the mountain soil,
His shroud Confederate gray.

I heard the Shenandoah roll
Along the vale below,
I saw the Alleghanies rise
Toward the realms of snow.
The 'Valley Campaign' rose to mind-
Its leader's name-and then
 I knew the sleeper had been one
Of Stonewall Jackson's men.

Yet whence he came, what lip shall say-
Whose tongue will ever tell
What desolated hearths and hearts
Have been because he fell?
What sad-eyed maiden braids her hair,
Her hair which he held dead?
One lock of which perchance lies with
The Georgia Volunteer!

What mother, with long watching eyes,
And white lips, cold and dumb,
Waits with appalling patience for 
Her darling boy to come?
Her boy! whose mountains grave swells up
But one of many a scar,
Cut on the face of our fair land,
By gory-handed war. 

What fights he fought, what wounds he wore,
Are all unknown to fame;
Remember, on his holy grave
There is not e'en a name!
That he fought well and bravely too,
And held his country dear,
We know, else he had never been
A Georgia volunteer. 

He sleeps-what need to question now
If he were wrong or right?
He knows, ere this, whose cause was just
In God the Father's sight. 
He wields no warlike weapons now,
returns no foeman's thrust-
Who but a coward would revile 
An honest soldier's dust?

Roll, Shenandoah, proudly roll,
Adown thy rocky glen,
Above thee lies the grave of one 
Of Stonewall Jackson's men.
Beneath the cedar and the pine,
In solitude austere.
Unknown, unnamed, forgotten, lies
A Georgia Volunteer!

This poem was written not long after the war’s end by Miss Mary Ashley Townsend, a northern-born American poet living in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Miss Mary Ashley Townsend (1832 - 1901)

A Georgia Volunteer reflects another sad and tragic reality of the aftermath of the War Between The States (1861-1865). Far far too many young soldiers are buried today in Unknown graves across the United States, especially in the American Southland. In those graves lie the remains of someone's son, brother, husband, or sweetheart who died and never returned home. Someone who had loved ones who never knew the ultimate fate of their beloved child, sibling, or lover.  

It is in that memory of those who never returned home -- at least in this world -- that this blogger dedicates this post.

Y'all are not forgotten!

Deo Vindice! 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The People's Free Library of South Carolina -- A Historic Landmark

The People's Free Library of South Carolina.

One of the most interesting landmarks in Chester County can be found a few miles from my home in Lowrys, South Carolina. 

The People's Free Library of South Carolina was built in 1903 by a seasonal visitor to the area, Dr. Delano Fitzgerald, a Baltimore pharmacist, who frequented Chester County during the winter months in order to capitalize on the area's rich hunting grounds. Dr. Fitzgerald wished to contribute something meaningful to the town where he spent many pleasant winter months and the local people of the community who showed him such respect and hospitality. 

When Dr. Fitzgerald expressed interest in establishing a library in the community, a local resident, Mr. J.S. Guy donated a lot for its construction. He opened the library in 1904, which became the first free library in Chester County. 

The small, single room building was built and furnished completely with tables, chairs, a wood stove, and book shelves complete with a collection of approximately 1,381 books and works of popular literature for the time. Dr. Fitzgerald himself employed a year-round library staff of three trustees, supplied leading magazine periodicals, and bore all the expenses of the small library's operation. 

To make the books more widely available to people in the county, ten wooden book boxes were constructed which held several dozen books, which were distributed by a horse or mule-drawn wagon once a month to local homes and schools in York and Chester Counties between 1904 - 1909. This early rural "traveling library service" was one of the first bookmobile-type systems in the country. 

The People's Free Library continued to make a significant contribution to the cultural and intellectual development of Lowrys and the surrounding areas from between 1904 - 1954 and continues to serve as a museum and community landmark. 

Today five of the original book boxes remain in the building itself, four are displayed in the Chester County Library, and one is kept in the South Carolina State Library in Columbia.  

The library closed in 1924, but reopened in 1932 as a branch of the Chester County Library system. It would close again permanently as a library in 1954. The building was then donated to the nearby Zion Presbyterian Church, which restored it in 1976 and keeps the small building in good repair as a museum, though it is not open to the public.

The People's Free Library of South Carolina was officially listed on the National Registry of Historic Places on October 29, 1982.

The People's Free Library sits on the property adjacent to the
Zion Presbyterian Church in Lowrys, SC.
The historic building as seen from the front.
The interior photo of the building taken from the front left window.

The registration form for the National Registry of Historic Places submitted to the US Department of the Interior can be seen HERE

I hope y'all enjoyed this story about this important cultural landmark in my home county. 

As always y'all have a great Dixie day!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Union Soldier's Graves in Rose Hill Cemetery

The entrance to Rose Hill Cemetery in downtown York, SC.

Located in the Southeastern corner of Rose Hill Cemetery in downtown York, South Carolina, are eight graves that seem to be noticeably set apart from the others beneath a tall tree. Its as if the occupants of those graves were buried away from the rest due to some religious objection, or were the victims of some vile and incurable 19th century disease. 

These eight lonely graves belong to Union soldiers. Members of two units of US troops who occupied York County and the surrounding area during the Reconstruction Era (1865 - 1877) who died during that time due to illness, or possibly violence from local resistance to federal enforcement of Radical Reconstruction policies that barred ex-Confederates from voting, holding office, or meeting in groups -- including funerals and church services -- without federal soldiers present.

Eight Union soldiers, members of the local occupation forces
who died during the Reconstruction Era.

No matter their reason for being in York County at that particular time, these eight men sadly died in another State far from their homes and families who never saw them again. No matter if they are a Confederate soldier from Georgia buried in Pennsylvania, or a young Union man from Maine who died of pneumonia in South Carolina. They deserve to be remembered and respected for their individual lives as any other American veteran of the War Between the States (1861 - 1865) who fell far from home. 

For that reason this blogger honors them by placing the flags they served under at their graves and present to you readers the names of these Union soldiers. 

Private Thos Quinton
Co. C 18th US Infantry
Private G.H. Whitemore
Co. L 7th US Cavalry
Private Samuel Brown
Co. L 7th US Cavalry
Private Patrick Walsh
Co. C 18th US Infantry
Private Adolphus Cash
Co. D 7th US Cavalry
Private G.W. Windsor
Co. C 18th US Infantry
Private Jno Shea
Co. C 18th US Infantry
Sergeant Patrick Garr
Co. C 18th US Infantry

 We've been fighting today on the old camp ground,
Many are lying near;
Some are dead, and some are dying,
Many are in tears.

Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease; 
Many are the hearts look for the right, 
To see the dawn of peace. 

A popular Union Civil War song.

As always I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Have a good Dixie day, y'all!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Planetary Photography -- Full Moon, Jupiter & Spica In Eastern Sky

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the first full moon of spring 2017 celebrated the change of seasons by pairing up with our solar system's largest neighbor, Jupiter, after it rose in the eastern sky. 

Tonight I was able to get a really good shot of the full moon with Jupiter moving farther away. Luna was in turn joined by Spica, the brightest star of the constellation Virgo, and the 16th brightest star in the night sky. 

Jupiter will remain in the vicinity of Spica for much of 2017. 

Once again I hope you enjoyed my planetary photography and, as always, keep looking to the skies.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Planetary Photography - Easter Full Moon & Jupiter

Tonight and tomorrow -- April 10th & 11th -- the first full moon of spring 2017 arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, the same evening the first day of the Jewish holiday Passover. Tonight's full moon also comes the week before Easter Sunday on April 16, 2017. 

In the Northern Hemisphere, we have several names for the first full moon of springtime: the Pink Moon (named after celebrating the return of certain species of wild flowers), the Sprouting Grass Moon, Egg Moon, or the Easter Moon. 

Joining Luna in her full glory on the night of April 10th is Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, appearing as a very bright star in just to the right of the first springtime full moon. 

I took the following photos just as Luna and Jupiter rose above the treetops. The first two were through the branches of a tree. The third in the clearing, and the fourth a close up.

I hope y'all enjoyed my planetary photographs. Have a good evening and, as always, keep your eyes to the skies.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Conquered Banner

Furling The Flag (1871) by Austrian artist Richard Norris Brooke.

The Conquered Banner

 By Father Abram Joseph Ryan

Furl that Banner, for 'tis weary;
Round its staff 'tis drooping dreary;
Furl it, fold it--it is best; 

For there's not a man to wave it, 
And there's not a sword to save it,
And there's not one left to lave it
In the blood which heroes gave it; 
And its foes now scorn and brave it;
Furl it, hide it---let it rest!

Take that banner down! 'tis tattered;
Broken is its staff and shattered;
And the valiant hosts are scattered, 
Over whom it floated high.
Oh, 'tis hard for us to fold it,
Hard to think there's none to hold it,
Hard that those who once unrolled it
Must now furl it with a sigh!

Furl that banner--furl it sadly;
Once ten thousands hailed it gladly,
And ten thousands wildly, madly, 
Swore it would forever wave --
Swore that foeman's sword should never
Hearts like theirs entwined dissever, 
Till that flag should float forever
O'er their freedom or their grave!

Furl it! for the hands that grasped it, 
And the hearts that fondly clasped it,
Cold and dead are lying low;
And that Banner--it is trailing,
While around it sounds the wailing
Of its people in their woe.

For though conquered, they adore it--
Love the cold, dead hands that bore it!
Weep for those who fell before it!
Pardon those who trailed and tore it!
But, oh, wildly they deplore it,
Now who furl and fold it so!

Furl that Banner! True, 'tis gory, 
Yet 'tis wreathed around with glory,
And 'twill live in song and story
Though its folds are in the dust!
For its fame on brightest pages,
Penned by poets and by sages, 
Shall go sounding down the ages--
Furl its folds though now we must. 

Furl that Banner, softly, slowly; 
Treat it gently--it is holy, 
For it droops above the dead;
Tough it not--unfolded it never,  
let it droop there, furled forever,
For its people's hopes are fled.

This poem was first published by Father Abraham Joseph Ryan, "Poet-Priest of the South" in the New York Freeman, a pro-Confederate Roman Catholic newspaper on Saturday, June 24, 1865, two months after the surrenders of Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and Johnston's Confederate Army of Tennessee in April of the same year. The poem was later published in the first issue of the Confederate Veteran in 1893. 

The Conquered Banner became one of the best known poems of the post-war American Southland, and was memorized and recited by at least two generations of Southern schoolchildren during the height of its popularity between 1890 - 1920. 

When he wrote The Conquered Banner, Father Ryan, like many Confederate officers -- including General Robert E. Lee -- believed that no matter how noble the defense of Southern independence and revered the Confederate cause had been, the South's defeat in April of 1865 meant the final defeat of the Confederate government. Father Ryan's poem is largely a memorial to the fallen Confederate soldier and his defeated cause of self-determination.

Some modern-day historians argue that this also meant that his symbolic view that the Confederate flag be "furled forever" alluded to the belief that the battle flag of the Confederate soldier has no more use in modern society. 

The counter-argument to this logic could reasonably be made that Father Ryan did not specify in The Conquered Banner exactly which Confederate flag was referenced. Most images associated with this poem show the Confederate 2nd National colors "The Stainless Banner" rather than the square battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, or the rectangular battle flag of the Army of Tennessee used in the later half of the War Between the States.  

Popular cover for The Conquered Banner (1865)
depicting the tattered Confederate 2nd National Flag
"Stainless Banner" (May 1863 - March 1865).

The fact that Father Ryan himself continued to show reverence for the fallen Confederate soldier (his own brother had been killed wearing the Confederate gray) and the soldier's flag through his poetry long after the War also disproves the narrative of modern-day historians that Ryan wanted the Confederate battle flag to remain forever furled. 

The Conquered Banner also inspired a  British poet and Confederate sympathizer, Sir Henry Houghton (1809 - 1885), to pen A Reply to the Conquered Banner feeling that Father Ryan's poem was too defeatist. This is the full text of that poem and its message to the war ravaged Southland: 

Gallant nation, foiled by numbers! 
Say not that your hopes are fled;
Keep that glorious flag which slumbers,
One day to avenge your dead.
Keep it, widowed, sonless mothers!
Keep it, sisters, mourning brothers!
Furl it now, but keep it still--
Think not that its work is done.
Keep it till your children take it,
Once again to hall and make it,
All their sires have bled and fought for;
All their noble hearts have sought for--
Bled and fought for all alone!
All alone! ay, shame the story!
Millions here deplore the stain;
Shame, alas! for England's glory,
Freedom called, and called in vain!
Furl that banner, sadly, slowly,
Treat it gently, for 'tis holy;
Till that day--yes, furl it sadly;
Then once more unfurl it gladly--
Conquered banner! keep it still!

The Conquered Banner was especially popular in Dixie at the turn of the century when the US government formally returned the captured and surrendered battle flags to the Southern States in 1905, and at reunions of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV) where Confederate battle flags flew, or were displayed respectfully alongside the flag of the United States of America with dueling but equal sense of patriotism for country and for the Southland of their birth. 

"GATHER the sacred dust of the warriors tried and true, 
Who bore the flag of our People's trust
And fell in a cause, though lost still just
And died for me and you."
~Father Abram Joseph Ryan
(February 5, 1838 – April 22, 1886)

Deo Vindice!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

April 6th Is National Tartan Day in the United States

April 6th is designated annually as National Tartan Day in the United States and recognizes the achievements of Americans of Scottish descent. 

It commemorates the date of the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath -- Scotland's Declaration of Independence -- on Sunday, April 6, 1320. The American Declaration of Independence, signed on Thursday, July 4, 1776, is said to have been modeled after the Scottish Declaration. Over half the signers of the American Declaration of Independence were of Scottish, or Ulster-Scots descent. 

National Tartan Day parades occur in major US cities, featuring bagpipe and drum bands playing Scottish music. Tartan clothing and kilts representing Scottish clans, or more modern patterns listed in the current Scottish Registry of Tartans,  are often worn by Americans of Scottish genealogy taking part in activities on this day. Groups such as the American Scottish Foundation organize these events along with special annual awards. 

Americans of Scottish descent have played an influential role in the founding and development of the United States and its cultural heritage. This fact was widely recognized on March 20, 1998 when the US Senate passed Senate bill No. 155 officially recognizing National tartan Day as a day for all Americans -- particularly those of Scottish descent -- every April 6th of the year. 

Senate resolution 155 officially declaring April 6th as
National Tartan Day annually in the United States of America (USA).


Y'all have a Happy National Tartan Day today!