"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it." - Hebrews 13:2

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Civil War Bivouac ~ Kentucky and the Battle of Mill Springs

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. 2012 is here. It’s so hard to believe. A new year…a new beginning.

Before we get to this month’s Civil War Bivouac, I just wanted to share a picture of the Christmas present that Eric and I received from our kids. They had our first Civil War article framed. The 10 page article was published last June in the Indiana Historical Society’s magazine – Traces. It’s so awesome to have it framed! Just had to share.

The Civil War Bivouac with Eric and Loree Huebner

Eric and I did and reenactment of the Battle of Mill Springs in Nancy, Kentucky, not too long ago. The reenactment took place on the original battlefield which left us with a deep feeling of being connected to the past. The place was in stunning horse country with rolling hills and rich farmland.

The one thing that sticks out in my memory is the sky the second night. The stars in the heavens were just amazing. We were with the artillery at this reenactment doing a night cannonade for the spectators, and we were all awestruck by the starlit sky. Thousands and thousands of stars twinkled down at us. I had never seen the Milky Way so bright…it flowed from one end of the sky to the other like a sparkling river of ribbon. What a beautiful sight!

The history was so thick on that land where the battle took place that you could almost reach out and touch it…I did...I was there.

Eric (Private Sven) and the boys
Mill Springs

Kentucky and the Battle of Mill Springs – January 1862

At the beginning of the Civil War, the situation in Kentucky teetered precariously. President Lincoln believed that the state was critical, “I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game.” As a border state and a slave state, the commonwealth of Kentucky was divided. Prominent households like the Breckinridge and Crittenden families contributed their kin to both sides. Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were born in Kentucky. Confederate Brigadier General Benjamin Helm was President Lincoln’s brother-in-law. Pro-South Governor Magoffin was offset by the Pro-Union Legislature.

Loree (Private Lars) - the beauty of being with the artillery - no infantry drill at 7am
Mill Springs

Kentucky tried to walk a fine line by declaring neutrality, a status recognized formally by the Confederacy and tacitly by Federal authorities. Without permission, CSA General Polk violated the neutrality by occupying Columbus, a move promptly matched when U. S. Grant moved Union troops to Paducah. Rebel forces soon moved to Bowling Green and through the Cumberland Gap into Eastern Kentucky. The fact that Confederates were the first to “invade” Kentucky was used by Union sympathizers to officially throw Kentucky into the Union camp.
21st Indiana Light Artillery - Fire! Eric (Private Sven) on the right, hand on ear for blast protection
Mill Springs

In January 1862 Federal columns under Brigadier General George Thomas were converging in the eastern part of Kentucky. A small Southern army under General George B. Crittenden moved to attack the lead elements before Thomas could effect a concentration. The resulting Battle of Mill Springs was typical of many early battles. The initial rebel attack was sharply contested and each side brought up reinforcements. At a critical moment, CSA General Felix Zollicoffer was killed and his soldiers began to give way. Many Southern soldiers found that many of their antiquated flintlock muskets would not operate in the rain. General Thomas order a counter-attack and the Confederates retreated in confusion from the field.

Loree at the Zollicoffer Tree - the place where General Zollicoffer died.
Mill Springs

In the aftermath of this small, but important battle, the shattered Rebel army fled across the Cumberland River, losing much of their equipment and large numbers to desertion. Union General Thomas emerged as an important leader and the North gained a much needed victory.

The following video I have posted before. It is the 21st Indiana Light Artillery at Mills Springs. We are helping to repel the Confederate infantry attacking the fence rail. Yep, that's me, gunner number 4, in position, arm in the air, trying my best to put on my "manly" soldier's voice - "Gun number two ready!" and pulling the lanyard - Boom! 

My Old Kentucky Homeby Stephen Foster (1826-1864), most likely composed in 1852.
Some say Foster took the heart of his inspiration from Harriett Beecher Stowe's 1851 bestseller Uncle Tom's Cabin, and hoped to exploit its popularity. 

According to Wikipedia, Abolitionist Frederick Douglass believed the song stimulated "the sympathies for the slave, in which anti-slavery principles take root and flourish."

The song described originally an everyday scene on a slave plantation and was a beloved song in racist minstrel shows. It was also a song sung by soldiers during the Civil War.

My Old Kentucky Home is the official song of the Kentucky Derby.

My Old Kentucky Home” became the official state song of Kentucky on March 19, 1928 by an act of the Kentucky legislature, but, by 1986, opinions had changed on the appropriateness of the lyrics. Carl Hines, the only black member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, was quoted as saying that the lyrics "convey connotations of racial discrimination that are not acceptable". Within days, Hines was sponsoring a bill to revise the lyrics, and, with the passage of House resolution 159, the word "darkies" was changed to "people".

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home
'Tis summer, the people are gay;
The corn top's ripe and the meadow's in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day;
The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy, and bright,
By'n by hard times comes a-knocking at the door,
Then my old Kentucky home, good night!
Weep no more, my lady,
Oh weep no more today!
We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the old Kentucky home far away.
They hunt no more for the 'possum and the coon,
On meadow, the hill and the shore,
They sing no more by the glimmer of the moon,
On the bench by that old cabin door;
The day goes by like a shadow o'er the heart,
With sorrow where all was delight;
The time has come when the people have to part,
Then my old Kentucky home, good night!
The head must bow and the back will have to bend,
Wherever the people may go;
A few more days and the trouble all will end
In the field where sugar-canes may grow;
A few more days for to tote the weary load,
No matter, 'twill never be light,
A few more days till we totter on the road,
Then my old Kentucky home, good night!

Here is a beautiful version by Paul Robeson singing “My Old Kentucky Home” on youtube – sung with the old lyrics.

Between you, me and the gatepost,

Loree and Eric


Sandra Orchard said...

Loree, or should I call you Private Lars? :) I always learn so much from these posts. I love the framed article. I bought a 3 window frame for my book series cover, but now I want to do this for my daughter's first magazine article! It never occurred to me. Your kids are awesome!

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Hi Private Lars! (Giggling). I know what you mean when you said the stars were amazing. My family has a farm in southeastern KY and everytime I go there, I am struck by the sky's inky blackness and glittering diamonds. It is beautiful!

I didn't know that President Lincoln had a Confederate brother-in-law, and a Confederate general, no less! It really drives home the anguish that must have been on both sides of the army as they fought against not strangers, but family.

Happy New Year, Loree! May God bless you and open new doors for you and your family this year. :-)

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Oh, and that framework is gorgeous! Truly a gift to cherish for years to come. :-)

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Loree, congrats on the article to you and your husband! It looks beautiful, both the framing and the layout done by the magazine.

I love the historical focus of your blog--very interesting about the lyric changes in "My Old Kentucky Home."

Misha Gericke said...

Wow it's a beautiful frame. I love the wood they used.


Sarah Forgrave said...

What an awesome gift! The frame is gorgeous. :)

Brandi said...

The framed article is beautiful, Loree! You and Eric must be proud!

I love how you both dressed as privates and participated in the reenactment. I hope I can get my hubby to do that with me one day. We'll see ;-)

Thanks for providing some clarity into the old song "My Old Kentucky Home". I've heard it performed in older movies, and it did seem to have certain negative connotations. I didn't know that Carol Hines had the lyrics changed.

Paul Robeson's bass voice is amazing! I also like his version of "Old Man River".

Happy New Year!

Jayne said...

Such a thoughtful gift from your children! And terrific information here--Kentucky is such an interesting story. Fine reporting, Loree, as always. Love the pics, too!

Happy New Year! :)

Loree Huebner said...

Sandra: It took us by surprise. I never thought to frame it either.

Gwen: The stars were just awesome in KY. and yes, President Lincoln's brother in law fought for the south.

Rosslyn: Thanks for your kind comments. The history on the song is very interesting.

Misha: Oh thank you! You're so sweet!

Sarah: It was a surprise and an awesome gift.

Brandi: Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I found the history of the song very interesting. Glad you liked the Paul Robeson version. His voice is phenomenal! I love Old Man River by him too!

Jayne: Thanks for your comments. Kentucky is an interesting state with surprising history.

Sandra, Gwen, Rosslyn, Misha, Sarah, Brandi, and Jayne, thanks for stopping in and commenting. It means so much to hear from you all.

Jessica R. Patch said...

LOVE your gift! That's amazing and I always enjoy hearing about your reenactments and looking at the pictures...and video!

Super fun!

Jeanette Levellie said...

What great kids you have! I never knew you could do this. I'll keep it in mind.

Jess said...

I just got back from Kentucky, and will be going back in February or March. It's a beautiful state. Thanks for the great historical post!

J.L. Campbell said...

From the description, I can imagine the excitement that comes with reenacting history.

Jaime Wright said...

Fantastic Christmas present beautifully displayed! Looks like you have a fascinating opportunity there for reenactments! Keep the reports coming...

Carol Riggs said...

Wow, how fun for you, to re-enact the battle, manly voice and all. ;o) Congrats on your framed article, too! Very nice keepsake.

Stacy Henrie said...

What a cool thing to participate in - a great connector to the past! Love the framed article.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Great keepsake! Your kids put a lot of thought into that gift.

In a small way, I understand how you feel about "being there." Gettysburg had a similar effect on me.

Terri Tiffany said...

How do you know what to do during a battle? Do you have to read up on all the details beforehand?

Loree Huebner said...

Jessica: It's such a great gift. Totally unexpected.

Jeanette: I've been a Civil War reenactor for nearly a decade.

Jess: Kentucky is a beautiful state. When we drove through eastern Kentucky, it was some of the most beautiful, picture postcard hills and valleys that I had ever seen.

J.L.: It is very exciting to reenact history.

Jaime: We are attending the 150th Shiloh reenactment this spring. Should be a big one.

Carol: I try to have a manly voice when responding to a command, or I just don't talk at all in the ranks. Sometimes I just put on my hoops and become a refined lady for the day. It's all acting...all fun.

Stacy: It is such a great connection to the past when you reenact. You sometimes feel that you are there.

Susan: Gettysburg does that to me every time I visit. I love the place.

Terri: You drill - just like the real army did.

Jessica, Jeanette, Jess, J.L., Jaime, Carol, Stacy, Susan, and Terri, thanks for popping in and taking the time to comment. I love reading all of them.

troutbirder said...

What fun you have! I love it. Which I'd been there to witness that nightime cannonade. :)

Deana said...

That is a very cool present! And I loved reading this post because I'm from KY so any history that has to do with it, I just love. Thanks!

Jessica Nelson said...

What sweet kids you all have! And I love that pic of you. lol Very cute.
Interesting about Kentucky. I don't know much about this time.

Loree Huebner said...

trout: The night cannonade was awesome. I wished we took a video of it. They had probably about 12 cannons. It was an amazing sight.

Deana: So neat to know that you're from KY. Such a lovely state.

Jessica: My kids are pretty sweet. Yeah, these pictures of me - not my most beautiful moments...haha!

trout, Deana, and Jessica, thanks for stopping by!

Julie Musil said...

It is SO cool that you and your husband do this. Wow. And I love that gift from your kids. So special. Happy 2012 to you and your family!

Loree Huebner said...

Julie: Happy 2012 to you and yours! Thanks for taking the time to stop by.