Military History Monday: The Nancy Harts

While their menfolk were off fighting the Union, many Southern women stepped up to defend their homes and families.  One group of females in LaGrange, Georgia, however, officially banded together and formed an all-female militia.  They called themselves the Nancy Harts in honor of Revolutionary War heroine and fellow Georgian Nancy Morgan Hart.  In case you missed my July 4 “Feisty Female” article on Nancy Morgan Hart, you can read it here. After the LaGrange Light Guards of the Fourth Georgia Infantry left on April 26, 1861, two wives, Nancy Hill Morgan and Mary Alford Heard, decided to form their own all-female militia.   About forty women attended the first meeting which was held at a schoolhouse on the grounds of United States Senator Benjamin Hill’s home.  The women, inexperienced with both firearms and military procedures, secured the assistance of Dr. A.C. Ware, a local physician who had been exempted from military service, to assist them in their training.  Dr. Ware was elected their first captain, according to Atlanta’s Southern Confederacy newspaper on June 1, 1861: NOTE: Digging History is now a monthly digital (PDF) magazine.  This article will be included in a future edition of Digging History Magazine. Check out the latest issue here:  www.digginghistorymag.com or try a subscription...

Military History Monday: Jennison’s Jayhawkers

This Civil War regiment, the 7th Kansas Cavalry, was organized by Charles Rainsford Jennison and became known as “Jennison’s Jawhawkers.”  By the time the regiment was mustered in on October 28, 1861, the terms “jayhawk,” “jawhawker,” and “jayhawking” were already part of the national lexicon long before the Civil War broke out in April of 1861. The term “jayhawk” and it’s various iterations seems to have originated as early as the late 1840’s along the Kansas-Missouri border.   There are several theories as to how the term came into usage, but as far as a Kansan is concerned it is deeply rooted in the state’s history – it’s also Kansas University’s mascot.  The name combines two birds, since there is no such thing as a “jayhawk” in nature – so mythically speaking it’s sort of a cross between a quarrelsome, nest-robbing blue jay and a sparrow hawk, a stealthy hunter. NOTE: Digging History is now a monthly digital (PDF) magazine.  This article will be included in a future edition of Digging History Magazine. Check out the latest issue here:  www.digginghistorymag.com or try a subscription...

Military History Monday: Hundred Days Men

By 1864 it was becoming increasingly more difficult to conscript enough able-bodied men to fight for either the North or South.  Before the war began in early April of 1861, the United States Army had around 16,400 officers and men.  On April 9, 1861 a call was made for the District of Columbia to muster ten companies of militia.  There was some resistance as evidenced by one company of 100 men: two officers, one sergeant, one corporal, one musician and ten privates refused to muster. Less than a week later, President Lincoln called for 75,000 militiamen to serve three months.  By May he was calling for 500,000 to serve three years.  In 1862 there were calls for 300,000 to serve three years and later that year another 300,000 to serve for nine months.  As the war continued unabated, calls for more enlistments were issued.  Some would re-enlist after their term of service had expired.  Even with a large numbers of troop already assembled, Lincoln made a special plea in 1863 and 1864, first to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. NOTE: Digging History is now a monthly digital (PDF) magazine.  This article will be included in a future edition of Digging History Magazine (April 2018). Check out the latest issue here:  www.digginghistorymag.com or try a subscription...

Military History Monday: Battle of Wyoming, aka Wyoming Massacre

The Wyoming Valley of present day Pennsylvania was the scene of the bloodiest and most heinous battle of the Revolutionary War.  In 1662, the valley had been claimed as part of Connecticut and residents of that colony began settling there in 1762, originally designated as the county of Westmoreland. The settlers planted crops, harvested them and returned to Connecticut for the winter.  They returned in the spring of 1763 and that autumn were attacked and killed by Indians.  Those remaining fled back to Connecticut.  In 1769 another wave of settlers decided to migrate to the area once again. The area was so dangerous, however, that one historian noted that between 1769 and 1775 “so frequent were the conflicts resulting in bloodshed within the town of Westmoreland, that it may be said to have been in a state of continual war.”  Not only were there Indians to contend with, but the land was disputed by Pennsylvania and Connecticut, a conflict called the “Pennamite War”. NOTE: Digging History is now a monthly digital (PDF) magazine.  This article will be included in a future edition of Digging History Magazine. Check out the latest issue here:  www.digginghistorymag.com or try a subscription here....

Military History Monday: The Battle of Big Hole (Montana)

In 1805, Lewis and Clark named them “Nez Perce”, which literally means “pierced nose”, except this tribe didn’t perform nose piercings – that was the Chinook tribe.  The tribe’s name was actually “Nimi’puu” (Nee-Me-Poo) and meant “the people” or “we the people”.  This tribe was indigenous to a vast area of land (17 million acres) which covered present day Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.  Rather than being one distinct tribe, this group actually consisted of various bands with somewhat different languages, managing to live together peacefully – the tribes (Shoshonis, Bannack and Blackfoot) to the south were not quite so friendly, however. The Nez Perce acquired horses sometime in the mid-1700’s, becoming expert horseman, and by the nineteenth century were the largest owner of horses in North America.  They were a nomadic tribe, moving with the seasons to fish, hunt and gather – salmon, deer, elk, berries, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, wild potatoes and carrots. NOTE: Digging History is now a monthly digital (PDF) magazine.  This article will be included in a future edition of Digging History Magazine. Check out the latest issue here:  www.digginghistorymag.com or try a subscription...

Honoring the Fallen: Ladies Hollywood Memorial Association

The Ladies Hollywood Memorial Association was founded at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on May 3, 1866 and chartered on January 19, 1891.  The group’s primary duties were to care for and honor the graves of the Confederate soldiers buried in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery, and they were one of many such associations organized by the women of the South.  Indeed, immediately after the fall of the Confederacy these women sprang into action. The Association’s primary objective was to care for and prevent the neglect of the graves of approximately twelve thousand Confederate soldiers who had died in the Richmond hospitals, whether by disease or war wounds.  One of the first commemorations instituted was a Memorial Day, and soon adopted by other associations in the South. NOTE: Digging History is now a monthly digital (PDF) magazine.  This article will be included in a future edition of Digging History Magazine. Check out the latest issue here:  www.digginghistorymag.com or try a subscription...