Battle of Honey Springs

The Civil War in the Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, is an untold story to most Americans.  Throughout the Civil War pro-Union and pro-Confederate Indian tribes, and factions within the tribes, struggled for control of this region.  The turning point in that conflict was the Battle of Honey Springs fought on July 17, 1863.  Most of the troops who fought in this engagement were Blacks or Indians, with White troops on both sides being in a distinct minority.

The orders of battle for both sides were as follows:


District of the Frontier – Major General James G. Blunt

  • 1st Brigade – Colonel William R. Judson
    • 2nd Indian Home Guard — Lieutenant Colonel Fred W. Schaurte
    • 1st Kansas Colored Infantry— Colonel James M. Williams(W), Lieutenant Colonel John Bowles
    • 6 Companies, 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry — Captain Edward R. Stevens
  • 2nd Brigade – Colonel William A. Phillips
    • 6 Companies, 2nd Colorado Infantry — Colonel Theodore H. Dodd
    • 1st Indian Home Guard — Colonel Stephen H. Wattles
    • Detachments of 6th Kansas Cavalry — Colonel William F. Campbell
  • Artillery
    • 2nd Kansas Light Artillery
    • 1st Section — Captain Edward Smith
    • 2nd Section — Lieutenant John P. Grassberger
    • 3rd Kansas Light Artillery — Captain Henry Hopkins


1st Brigade, Indian Troops – Brigadier General Douglas H. Cooper

  • Texas Brigade – Colonel Thomas C. Bass
    • 20th Texas Cavalry (Dismounted) — Colonel Thomas Coker Bass
    • 29th Texas Cavalry – Colonel Charles DeMorse (W)
    • 5th Texas Partisan Rangers— Colonel Leonidas M. Martin
  • Indian Brigade – Brigadier General Douglas Cooper
    • 1st Cherokee Mounted Rifles — Major Joseph F. Thompson
    • 2nd Cherokee Mounted Rifles — Lieutenant Colonel James M. Bell
    • 1st Choctaw—Chickasaw Mounted Rifles — Colonel Tandy Walker
    • 1st Creek — Colonel Daniel N. McIntosh
    • 2nd Creek— Colonel Chilly McIntosh
  • Artillery & Cavalry
    • Lee’s Battery— Captain Roswell W. Lee
    • Scanland’s Squadron Texas Cavalry — Captain John Scanland
    • Gillett’s Squadron Texas Cavalry — Captain L. E. Gillett

The Union had around 3,000 men and the Confederates between 3,000-6,000. (more…)

Published in: on April 27, 2010 at 6:07 am  Comments (2)  
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Federalist 31 – Hamilton

Through the first thirty essays that we have covered, there have been plenty of examples of Hamilton’s penetrating logical analysis.  He had an ability to take issues and examine them point-by-point (almost like a modern-day blogger).  He was one of the greatest minds ever produced by America (or nearby islands). There have also been several example of Hamilton’s rhetorical excess.  He had an amazing ability to, in effect, completely dismiss his opponents’ arguments through grandiose rhetorical flourishes.  The reader is bedazzled by the weight of Hamilton’s words, but in the end all he has done is call his opponents stupid or crazy – but in a very elegant fashion.

Federalist 31 would be one of those works of great rhetorical excess, though it has a few moments of keen insight.

The first time I read this essay, I was somewhat befuddled by the opening paragraphs.   Hamilton embarks on a rather wordy philosophical disquisition about geometric and theoretical certainty.    This prologue – which runs to 526 words by my count – essentially serves to set up a zinger.

How else could it happen (if we admit the objectors to be sincere in their opposition), that positions so clear as those which manifest the necessity of a general power of taxation in the government of the Union, should have to encounter any adversaries among men of discernment?

Hamilton took a very long time to baldly assert that the “manifest the necessity of a general power of taxation in the government of the Union” was, in essence, a self-evident truth that only an ignoramus could possibly deny.

As alluded to above, Hamilton would have made an excellent blogger.

There is a bit more to this essay.  Hamilton makes a very sound logical case regarding the necessity of taxation:

A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care, and to the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible, free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people.

As the duties of superintending the national defense and of securing the public peace against foreign or domestic violence involve a provision for casualties and dangers to which no possible limits can be assigned, the power of making that provision ought to know no other bounds than the exigencies of the nation and the resources of the community. As revenue is the essential engine by which the means of answering the national exigencies must be procured, the power of procuring that article in its full extent must necessarily be comprehended in that of providing for those exigencies.

As theory and practice conspire to prove that the power of procuring revenue is unavailing when exercised over the States in their collective capacities, the federal government must of necessity be invested with an unqualified power of taxation in the ordinary modes.

To put it more succinctly: the government needs to have some self-sustaining power to execute its laws, and there must be some method by which the government can draw revenues to sustain the national defense; therefore the government must have “unqualified power of taxation.”

Hamilton proceeds to knock down the counter-argument.  As he has done in previous entries, Hamilton dismisses the fears held by the Anti-Federalists about federal usurpation of state authority.

The moment we launch into conjectures about the usurpations of the federal government, we get into an unfathomable abyss, and fairly put ourselves out of the reach of all reasoning. Imagination may range at pleasure till it gets bewildered amidst the labyrinths of an enchanted castle, and knows not on which side to turn to extricate itself from the perplexities into which it has so rashly adventured. Whatever may be the limits or modifications of the powers of the Union, it is easy to imagine an endless train of possible dangers; and by indulging an excess of jealousy and timidity, we may bring ourselves to a state of absolute scepticism and irresolution.

Long story short: don’t worry your silly heads off.  Everything is going to be all right.

Hamilton then repeats another argument made elsewhere: the federal government has more to fear from the states than vice versa.

It should not be forgotten that a disposition in the State governments to encroach upon the rights of the Union is quite as probable as a disposition in the Union to encroach upon the rights of the State governments. What side would be likely to prevail in such a conflict, must depend on the means which the contending parties could employ toward insuring success. As in republics strength is always on the side of the people, and as there are weighty reasons to induce a belief that the State governments will commonly possess most influence over them, the natural conclusion is that such contests will be most apt to end to the disadvantage of the Union; and that there is greater probability of encroachments by the members upon the federal head, than by the federal head upon the members. But it is evident that all conjectures of this kind must be extremely vague and fallible: and that it is by far the safest course to lay them altogether aside, and to confine our attention wholly to the nature and extent of the powers as they are delineated in the Constitution. Every thing beyond this must be left to the prudence and firmness of the people; who, as they will hold the scales in their own hands, it is to be hoped, will always take care to preserve the constitutional equilibrium between the general and the State governments. Upon this ground, which is evidently the true one, it will not be difficult to obviate the objections which have been made to an indefinite power of taxation in the United States.

Hamilton’s objective over the next few papers is to obviate these objections, and we will examine these shortly.

Published in: on April 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm  Comments Off on Federalist 31 – Hamilton  

Confederate Arizona


One of the lesser known aspects of the Civil War is the fighting that occurred in the far west in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.  If the Confederacy had managed to win independence, there would have been much wrangling around the negotiating table about the territories of New Mexico and Arizona which had a fair number of Conferate sympathizers in them.

On March 16, 1861, a secession convention met in Mesilla, New Mexico.  The delegates were from southern New Mexico and Arizona.  The delegates adopted a secession ordinance which is set forth below.  The Confederate territory of Arizona consisting of southern Arizona and New Mexico was organized.  The territory was recognized by the Confederacy on February 14, 1862 and representatives of the territory sat in the Confederate Congress until the end of the war.  After the Confederate defeat at Glorietta Pass on March 26-28, 1862 in New Mexico, the tide of war went strongly against the Confederates in Arizona and New Mexico, with the Confederate territorial government of Arizona relocating to El Paso, Texas in July of 1862. (more…)

Published in: on April 25, 2010 at 5:50 am  Comments Off on Confederate Arizona  
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Come, Come Ye Saints

Something for the weekend.  A blues arrangement of the Mormon hymn Come, Come Ye Saints.  The hymn was written as the Mormons were making their epic trek in 1846 from Illinois to Utah in order to carve their new Zion out of the wilderness. (more…)

Published in: on April 24, 2010 at 5:16 am  Comments Off on Come, Come Ye Saints  
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Alexis de Tocqueville: Our Mirror

I have always found it odd that the man who has displayed the greatest insight into the American character is a foreigner, and a Frenchman at that!  In his great Democracy In America he provides all Americans a map of the American national soul.

Some quotes from Tocqueville that demonstrate how well he understood us:

The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint, but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through.

I know of no country, indeed, where the love of money has taken stronger hold on the affections of men, and where the profounder contempt is expressed for the theory of the permanent equality of property.

With much care and skill power has been broken into fragments in the American township, so that the maximum possible number of people have some concern with public affairs.

Useful undertakings which require sustained attention and vigorous precision in order to succeed often end up by being abandoned, for, in America, as elsewhere, the people move forward by sudden impulses and short-lived efforts.

In order to enjoy the inestimable benefits that the liberty of the press ensures, it is necessary to submit to the inevitable evils it creates.

In countries where associations are free, secret societies are unknown. In America there are factions, but no conspiracies.

A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it.

The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.

In the United States, except for slaves, servants and the destitute fed by townships, everyone has the vote and this is an indirect contributor to law-making. Anyone wishing to attack the law is thus reduced to adopting one of two obvious courses: they must either change the nation’s opinion or trample its wishes under foot.

In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them. (more…)

Published in: on April 23, 2010 at 12:29 pm  Comments Off on Alexis de Tocqueville: Our Mirror  

The Duel

My co-blogger at The American Catholic, Dave Hartline, has a very good post about Alexander Hamilton and his duel with Aaron Burr:



Like many intellectual men in Revolutionary America and Western Europe, Alexander Hamilton bought into the Deist ideas of a Creator, but certainly not a Creator who needed a Son to rise from the dead or perform miracles, and certainly not the continuous miracle of the Eucharist. Most leaders of the American Revolution were baptized Anglicans who later in life rarely attended Sunday services, the exception being George Washington.  The first President was the rare exception of a Founding Father who often attended Anglican-Episcopal Services, though he occasionally did leave before Holy Communion, which many intellectuals in the colonies (and most of England) decried as “popery.”

Hamilton was a unique man, who unlike many of the Revolution was not born in the colonies, but in the Caribbean and was born into poverty at that. He was practically an orphan as his father left his mother and she subsequently died from an epidemic. At a young age Hamilton showed so much promise that the residents of Christiansted, St Croix (now the American Virgin Islands) took up a collection to send him to school in New England. As a child, Hamilton excelled at informal learning picking up on what he could from passersby and those who took the time to help him. In August of 1772,  a great hurricane hit the Caribbean. Hamilton wrote about it in such vivid detail that it wound up being published in New York.

It was at this point that the residents of Christiansted answered the local Anglican pastor’s request and enough money was raised to send Hamilton to school in the colonies. While in school, Hamilton would excel and wound up in the Revolutionary Army as a young officer. By the time of Yorktown, General Washington thought enough of the 24 year old to have him lead a charge on one of the redoubts of Yorktown. It was here that the “Young Americans” and their French counterparts on land and sea, overwhelmed the British and the world turned upside down.

Hamilton would truly shine after the war. Some say he was the greatest mind in the colonies; almost single handedly creating the American economic system.  However, Hamilton and his Federalist mindset were cut of a different cloth than that of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. After the war, Jefferson and Franklin became smitten with the French Revolution and their leaders. It was Franklin, who years before the American Revolution sponsored the infamous Voltaire at a Mason initiation ceremony in Paris, while Franklin was criss-crossing Europe, already a one man invention machine seemingly known to all.

Fast forward a few decades; Jefferson, Franklin and many other Founding Fathers rejoiced in the French Revolution. Remember though Jefferson was a Deist, Franklin was so far to the theological left that he urged Jefferson to take the phrase “We hold these views to be sacred,” out of the Declaration of Independence, some 17 years before the onset of the French Revolution. The phrase was replaced with, “We hold these views to be self evident.” It seems sacred was too “religious” for Franklin. Though a few Diest principals united some leaders of both Revolutions, there was little else that brought the two together. Unlike some of their Deist national leadership, the American people were religious people who were repulsed by mob violence. They had seen enough violence in the long struggle for freedom and there would certainly not be any displays of sacrilege.

Unlike Franklin and Jefferson, Hamilton and many other Federalists were repulsed by the violence of the guillotine. Perhaps only Catholics of the newly created America could truly understand the evil of the French Revolution, as thousands of their fellow believers, rich and poor, clergy and laity were brutally murdered. In addition, there was the sacrilege committed by mobs against holy sites using clubs, fires and prostitutes to defile famous French churches.

Hamilton’s life after Yorktown (and the events of the French Revolution) was spent piecing together the US economy. One can truly see the genius in Hamilton when one considers how hard it was for newly independent colonial nations to get on their feet following liberation from their British and French colonial masters, at the end of World War II. The mind can scarcely fathom what it must have been like in the 1700s, for the newly created United States, with no world aid or United Nations to assist in the cause of nation building.  Where would the United States be without Hamilton?

As the 1800s dawned and the rage against God slowly receded in France and other “Enlightenment influenced citadels,” many were having second thoughts on their “worldviews.” Sadly for Hamilton, it took his dying hours for him to realize the error of his ways. For many years Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were involved in political and personal squabbles. Perhaps Washington wasn’t big enough for the two egos of Vice President Aaron Burr and the creator of the American Economic system, Alexander Hamilton. Both agreed to a duel in New Jersey, on July 11, 1804. Though Burr was rumored to be a poor shot with a pistol, Hamilton was hit in the duel. (more…)

Published in: on April 20, 2010 at 5:36 am  Comments Off on The Duel  
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Bloody Bill Anderson

Our Civil War was a relatively clean war in that the mass murder  of civilian populations that are often a feature of civil wars was mercifully absent from that conflict.  However, some atrocities did occur, and many of them were in the ferocious fighting that raged in Kansas and along the Kansas-Missouri border.  There the Civil War had begun in 1854, with a brief truce in 1859-60. 

Anderson, born in 1839, came from a family of horse thieves.  Residing in Agnes, Kansas in March 1862, his father was shot by a local Judge in regard to a stolen horse.  Bloody Bill and his brother Jim took revenge by shooting to death the Judge and his brother-in-law.   Bloody Bill left Agnes, Kansas with his family and moved to Western Missouri.

By the spring of 1863 Bloody Bill and Jim had joined up with William Quantrill and his Confederate guerillas.

Union General Thomas Ewing, Jr., the commander of the military district which comprised Kansas and Western Missouri, ordered the arrest of relatives of the members of Quantrill’s band.  12 women among those arrested were housed in a three story house in Kansas City, Missouri.  The house collapsed on August 14, 1863, killing four of the women.  Anderson’s sister Josephine was killed in the collapse and his sister Mary was rendered a permanent cripple.

Anderson went crazy with grief and rage when he heard the news.   In retaliation, Quantrill raided Lawrence, Kansas on August 21.  200 men and boys were murdered by Quantrill’s men, with Bloody Bill living up to the nickname by which he is known to history. (more…)

Published in: on April 19, 2010 at 5:22 am  Comments (2)  
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Carpetbaggers and Scalawags

Carpetbaggers were white northerners who came south in the aftermath of the Civil War.  Most white Southerners had a jaundiced view of all carpetbaggers but most, reluctantly, would concede that there were good Carpetbaggers, men who were honestly trying to help rebuild the South, and bad Carpetbaggers who were simply jumped up thieves and conmen.  Scalawags were white Southerners who played a role in the Reconstruction era governments.  Almost universally denounced as scoundrels by white Southerners, the Scalawags actually were a mixture of good men who were trying to establish a New South where white and black could live peacefully together, and the usual assortment of self-seeking grifters who abound in any defeated country after a war.

Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 5:38 am  Comments Off on Carpetbaggers and Scalawags  
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Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier

Something for the weekend.  A nice version of the haunting ballad Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier that has echoed in all of America’s wars.

Published in: on April 17, 2010 at 4:43 am  Comments Off on Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier  
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Mr. McCormick and His Revolution

One of the many reasons why the North won the Civil War was because by the time that the conflict was fought agriculture in the North was largely mechanized while agriculture in the South was not.  This was largely attributable to one man:  Cyrus McCormick.  McCormick’s father Robert had worked for 26 years on a horse drawn mechanical reaper.  Passing the torch to the next generation, Robert gave his plans to his oldest son Cyrus.  Cyrus, with the help of a slave, Jo Anderson, built a mechanical reaper in 18 months.  The reaper was tested in 1831 and patented by McCormick in 1834.  In 1847 McCormick established the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company and built a huge factory to manufacture reapers in Chicago.  Mechanical reapers were eagerly seized upon by the North.  The South, with slave labor, saw far less need for purchasing reapers.  McCormick reapers greatly diminished the need for manpower on farms, and gave a great impetus to the flow of labor from farm to city in the North.  During the Civil War, innumerable farmers  were able to enlist in the Union Army while their brothers and sons too young to enlist, wives, daughters and sisters ran the farms with the McCormick reapers. (more…)

Published in: on April 16, 2010 at 5:49 am  Comments Off on Mr. McCormick and His Revolution  
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