The Dying Soldier (Aka: Brother Green) by Reverend L. J. Simpson, Union Army

I'm not all one-sided.  I know there were two players in that game….

The Simpson brothers hailed from Illinois and joined the Union Army during the Civil war.  L. J. was a Southern Baptist preacher and joined as a Chaplain and his brother was in the “regular” service.

As far as I was able to learn from the book Buying the Wind: Regional Folklore in the United States by R.M. Dorson – Simpson is the original author of the Civil War ballad, The Dying Soldier, which he wrote upon learning of his brother’s death at the Battle of Fort Donelson, TN (2/11-16/ 1862*).

*There is a typographical error in that book that claims the song is from 1962, but since I have a recording of it from 1928, I know that is in fact a huge error and it is without one tiniest bit of doubt a Civil War ballad from 1862.  Take that Farbists.

Dorson’s book also tells me that additional verses were added sometime after the turn of the century, possibly as late as the 30s (but I could very well be completely wrong about how I interpreted what I read) by Mrs. Wilmore of West Frankfort, Ill., and were recorded by Professor David S. McIntosh.  Not much more information is available about the song itself other than many versions of the lyrics, which I am to believe, are partially Mrs. Wilmore’s if I read correctly.

What I did find was an interesting site ( offering the archives of the Marion Monitor, a local newsletter for Marion, Ill. in the late 1800s, which makes mention of some of L. J. Simpson’s activities….


September 19, 1878: “Funeral on the 5th Sunday in Sept. Rev. L.J. Simpson will preach the funeral of Maggie F. and Dennis Peebles.”


October 17, 1878:  “The Reverend L. J. Simpson located in Marion, Illinois.”


November 21, 1878: “The Reverend L. J. Simpson is in poor health being confined to his bed for a few days past.”


September 4, 1879: “Rev. L.J. Simpson was quite sick the fore part of this week.”


September 11, 1879: “The Reverend will conduct religious services at the Southern Methodist church next Saturday evening and Sunday with the Rev. C.W. Hutchinson.”


September 18, 1879: The Reverend made a social call to the writer of the Marion Monitor.    The week prior, “At the Southern Methodist, Rev. Simpson preached from the text “By their fruits ye shall know them…””.

No further mentions are made in the Marion Monitor about the Good Reverend, not even an eventual obituary notice, nor was I able to find anything else about him online, so there’s nothing left to do but listen to Simpson's song as interpreted by banjo virtuoso, Buell Kazee.

The Dying Soldier
Buell Kazee


All information used without permission from the following sources: Wikipedia, Google books, Marion Monitor (via, Internet Archive.

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Happy Birthday Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

I wish I had better recall.  I just read a book in which a female character kept going on about "Bory".  I've been racking my brain all morning to no avail.

If you're wondering who he was… It was Beauregard who gave the order to fire on Fort Sumter against his former pupil, now on the inside of the Fort, Major Robert Anderson.

He is a very interesting person, and I encourage you to seek out one of the many biographies on him, as I could never do his story justice.

Cigarette card found at the Internet Archive, uploaded by/property of Herbert Hillary Booker 2nd of Tujunga, California.

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Published in: on May 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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General William Edmondson “Grumble” Jones, C.S.A.


I have a Civil War namesake!  I was reading about something I can’t even recall now, but I saw the name GRUMBLE, and it sure caught my attention.


William E. Grumble Jones was a Confederate Cavalry General under JEB Stuart, and they could NOT stand each other.  And if it be known, I blame Stuart for the loss at Gettysburg.


OH!  I remember.  I was looking to see how far the CSA made it into Pennsylvania.  They made it within 80 miles or so of my birthplace.  So close, yet so far.


Anyway, Jones skirmished at Hanover in the Summer of 1863, just south of where I was born.  He saw lots of action and was promoted a few times too.  He was in the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861, rode on Stuart’s famous ride around McClellan prior to the Seven Days Battles in the Summer of 1862, was slightly wounded at the skirmish of the Orange Courthouse during the Second Bull Run in August of 1862.  In the Spring of 1863, Grumble Jones and B.G. Imboden seized and laid waste to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in Maryland, then in June he rejoined Stuart in Virginia for the largest cavalry battle of the whole war, the Battle of Brandy Station just prior to Gettsyburg.


I’ll never understand what Stuart was thinking leaving one of his best Generals out of the action at Gettysburg.  Stuart and Jones despised each other, sure, but Stuart had also said of Jones that he’s “the best outpost officer in the army”.  Way to let Lee & Ewell down, Harrisburg slip through your fingers and let pettiness ruin everything J.E.B..


That Fall, the fecal matter hit the fan and Stuart had Jones court-martialed for insulting Stuart (I wonder if that was when Jones called Stuart a young “whippersnapper”?  Or if Jones made a disparaging comment about Stuart’s dressing like a dandy Cavalier?), although guilty Robert E. Lee stepped in and transferred Jones to the Trans-Allegheny Division in West Virginia where he eventually joined up with Longstreet and made way into Tennessee in early 1864.  Jones took command of the entire Shenandoah Valley force in the Valley Campaigns of 1864 – the Lynchburg Campaign (May-June), Early’s Railroad Raids (June-August), and Sheridan’s Valley Campaign (August-October).


It was in Virginia, during the Battle of the Piedmont on June 5, 1864 that Jones was shot in the head and killed (at age 40) while leading an attack against far superior forces.  But, that was Grumble’s way – His old Railroad raiding compatriot, B.G. Imboden said of Jones that he “… was an old army officer, brave as a lion and had seen much service, and was known as a hard fighter. He was a man, however, of high temper, morose and fretful. He held the fighting qualities of the enemy in great contempt, and never would admit the possibility of defeat where the odds against him were not much over two to one”.


I almost forgot to tell you how he got his nickname of Grumble.  We’ll he’s just like me, a person with an irritable disposition.  I have an excuse too, but his disposition undoubtedly comes from him losing his wife as she was washed away from his arms in a shipwreck in 1852, that’d make me pretty grumbly too.

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Niagara by Louis Remy Mignot

What does this picture of Niagara Falls painted in Europe in 1866 have to do with the American Civil War?

Not much except that it was painted by a South Carolina native who turned his back on his State and his Country and moved to Europe when the American Civil War broke out.

I've been trying to find a biography for him that discusses his perceived need to flee, but am not finding anything concrete…  So I will leave it at that, but I do encourage you to check out some of his landscapes as he really did have a beautiful technique.

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I am a scrubbing bubble: I do the work so you don’t have to. (Movie List)

I've gone through the Internet Archive with a fine tooth comb over the past few days/weeks/months searching for ACW related items.  I've found books, images, audio, and a few videos, now in addition to the 12 Civil War themed movies available at the IA I posted about on my other blog – I am adding 12 more feature films.



The General




Abilene Town


Colonel Effingham's Raid


The Proud and the Damned




And my new favorite, Renegade Girl



We'll call these – Southern related:


Birth of a Nation


I'm from Arkansas


The Southerner




The Klansman




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The 100 Mile Yankee

It is through no fault of my own that I was born north of the Mason-Dixon Line.  To add insult to injury, it was only by 100 miles.  Had I been born at the right time, it would have been the shortest or longest 100 miles I ever walked – depending on how you look at it.


Well, at least I am from a state on the Southern border, even if it is on the Northern side.




Did you know that the Mason-Dixon line was not created with slavery in mind?  In fact, it had nothing to do with it since was created in 1763, one hundred years BEFORE the Civil War, to settle a land grant dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland.


It didn’t come into play as a boundary between Slave States and Free States until 1820, during the implementation of the Missouri Compromise.  It was the Missouri Compromise that divided the country, not the Mason-Dixon Line.  The compromise was an action; the line is just a thing that marked the boundary of the action…


The Missouri Compromise line of “36-30” started along the eastern border of the Mason-Dixon Line, ran west along the mouth of the Ohio River, then west again along the 36-30 Line.  So…. since the Mason-Dixon Line just happened to be the line along which slave and free states were located and because the “36-30” line ran along the Mason-Dixon Line the geographic name stuck, not the name of the action.


And that’s how we got the North-South boundary line we know today.



I encourage you to visit: – where I stole that awesome map from and used it without permission… and where I learned there are 3 other Pennsylvania Lines I never even knew existed:

The Ellicott Line, along the western border between Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The Deakin’s Line separating Maryland and West Virginia.

And The Transpeninsular Line between Maryland and Delaware.


You learn something new everyday, right?




Sources:  The written text is all my own based on what I think I “know”.  The Easton to Mason-Dixon Line map is from Google, and the Mason-Dixon Line map is from



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Published in: on May 21, 2010 at 3:27 pm  Comments (6)  
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Let me tell you something about North Carolina

A few weeks ago, I went with my friend over to Berkeley, CA to a sort-of thrift shop/craft store, and while looking through the old black and white photos they had I leafed past one and stopped quick and backed up in disbelief…

Here I am in 2010 California, holding in my hand a photo taken in 1937 at Gettysburg National Monument in Pennsylvania of North Carolina’s Civil War monument.

I bought it for .65 cents, all the while wondering how it made it’s way out to a thrift shop on the west coast 73 years later.  (If I had a scanner, I’d post it.  But here’s what I am referring to…

However, mine is so old there is no wrought iron gate around it.  At the time my photo was taken you could walk right up to the monument and give those soldiers a hug.)


I am telling you about this today, because it was on this day 149 years ago, that North Carolina passed its Secession Ordinance.


North Carolina’s Secession Ordinance Passed: May 20, 1861


AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union between the State of North Carolina and the other States united with her, under the compact of government entitled "The Constitution of the United States."

We, the people of the State of North Carolina in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the ordinance adopted by the State of North Carolina in the convention of 1789, whereby the Constitution of the United States was ratified and adopted, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly ratifying and adopting amendments to the said Constitution, are hereby repealed, rescinded, and abrogated.

We do further declare and ordain, That the union now subsisting between the State of North Carolina and the other States, under the title of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of North Carolina is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.

Done in convention at the city of Raleigh, this the 20th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1861, and in the eighty-fifth year of the independence of said State.


North Carolina has always held a special place in my heart since 1992.  Not for any particular reason other than I once spent a spring vacation in the mountains of western North Carolina (Franklin) and LITERALLY, not figuratively- had just the best time ever.

I had never been anywhere so plain-damn beautiful before (even though I grew up in a very similar mountainous area north of the Mason-Dixon Line), the food was top-notch and everyone I met could NOT have been any nicer to me and this is most important – they even knew I was a Yankee and still treated me well.  And still to this day, some 20 years later, tell myself – someday when you retire you are doing it in the western mountains of North Carolina on the fringes of the Nantahala Forest near Franklin.


So, you can imagine how surprised I was to learn just now, today, this minute as I was searching for a nice picture of Franklin to show you where I spent time – that –


The last formal surrender of Confederate forces east of the Mississippi River took place in Franklin on May 12, 1865. …… The Confederate troops located in these hills were the last to hear of Lee’s surrender …"  SOURCE: Franklin Chamber of Commerce.

Freaky.  Deaky.  My dream place is steeped in Civil War history and I had no idea, although admittedly I should have known better.  I mean I figured they probably saw some skirmish action but I had no idea something as important as that happened in my favorite place.

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May 18 was a busy day

1861: Poor old General William S. Harney didn't know whether he was a-comin' or a-goin' in the Show-Me state.  That Lincoln man just couldn't make up his mind what to do with him as Lincoln suspected Harney of being too tolerant of the Confederacy.  Harney was ousted on April 21, then given back his appointment on May 8, then another letter to staunch Unionist Frank Blair telling him to oust Harney again, THEN… on May 18, Lincoln again rescinded his last letter to Blair.  Lincoln knew he had acted like an ass and even admitted it later in saying that "the removal of General Harney was one of the greatest mistakes of his administration".

1862:  The U.S. 5th Army Corps is founded.  Battles, sieges, and blockades are taking place at the Cumberland Gap in Tennessee; Gavelston Harbor, Texas; and the Battle of Corinth in Mississippi.

Mississippi is not having a good day….

Vicksburg, Mississippi.  Union General Benjamin Butler and Officer David G. Farragut sent a message via the commander of the USS Oneida, S. P. Lee, to the commander of the Confederate forces at Vicksburg, General M. L. Smith requesting, no demanding, the surrender of the city.  Smith declined and the city was put under Union siege.

….and it follows them into 1863….

1863:  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  The Union "asks" again this year for the submission of Vicksburg.  This year however, it is General Grant is the backing Union force – and one to be reckoned with…  Confederate General Pemberton didn't stand a chance.  The siege is complete and Vicksburg will fall and surrender on July 4, 1863, and Vicksburg would not celebrate the Fourth Of July for nearly 80 years.

Mississippi really is not having a good day on May 18, with skirmishes near Island #82, and losing Hayne's Bluff.

Missouri, Tennessee, and West Virginia see some skirmish action today.

1864:  Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Virginia all see battles and skirmish action.

Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia.  Things had been quiet around Spotsylvania, until dawn of this day.  Hancock and Wright's corps' made assault on General Lee's left flank – that attack and several more failed and General Meade ordered a halt while General Grant renewed his campaign towards Lee's right flank.

William T. Sherman (allegedly insane from syphilis) is terrorizing the South in his "Atlanta Campaign", and Grant is spreading evil and destruction through Virginia in his "Overland Campaign".

Find out more things that happened on this day in the civil war at TODAY or THIS DAY.

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Published in: on May 18, 2010 at 8:19 pm  Comments (1)  
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Why this blog, why the American Civil War, what will I find here?

Why this blog?

I've kept another vox blog for the past 4 years or so.  In the past 6 months, I discovered the American Civil War.  Oh, I knew it existed, but I used to think it was only in my imagination.  Like it was someone else's dream, but I knew they had dreamed it.  I didn't start out thinking I'd be captured and captivated by every single little thing about it.

Anyway, I was feeling bad about the the other blog I keep, well, feeling bad about my poor neighbors actually, those who had to scroll past huge ACW posts, which I doubted anyone took much or even any interest in – so I started this blog.

Why the ACW?

It all started because I had finally decided what I wanted to get my degree in.  Public History.

I decided that I would look at the curriculum and even if I couldn't afford to go back to school right now I could still teach myself the courses so I'd ace them when I did get back to school.

Well, I got through the War of 1812, and next on the list was the ACW.  That was back in January, and I am still in 1861.  I am afraid I will never care to learn anything about anything else ever again.

Within short moments of waking I am online – not checking email – checking ACW sites.  Or I have my nose buried in a library book.  It consumes me.  I can not describe the overwhelming NEED to absorb it into my skin and bones, like it's air.

What will you find here?

What I propose to do is tell you a little something about something interesting and hope it piques your interest enough for you to go a research the topic further.

DISCLAIMER: I am NO Civil War Scholar.  I want to make that clear right now.  I will be wrong, very wrong, about things, but I will do my best to list sources and to be accurate because this is my education, and I want it to be first-rate and serve me well.

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Published in: on May 17, 2010 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment