The Angel's Dispatch
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February 2004

The Commanders Thoughts

   First of all I want to apologize to those of you that get The Angels Dispatch by mail. Last month you did not get the newsletter because my printer broke down. At least I was able to put the January issue of The Angels Dispatch on our newsletter web site for others to read. My printer in now fixed.

   Last month sure was good to our camp. At the January meeting we voted in two new men, Carroll Bagley of Dayton and Samuel Howard Shurtleff of Deer Park. Then I had the pleasure of swearing in Preston Billingsley as a new SCV member and a Swamp Angel. The ceremony was not over at that time. After expressing the desire to be the camps Chaplain he was sworn into that office. The Swamp Angels now has a young and permanent Chaplain.

   On January 18th Adjutant Randy Billingsley went to the Roan's Prairie Church for a small reenactment, church service and an all around get together. It was a little wet and cold but the heavy rain held off. Randy spoke to the crowd about early Texas and his affiliation with the Texas Army, a great organization that I am also joining. You can see the Texas Army at the San Jacinto Battlegrounds on San Jacinto Day. Randy even ran some folks off when he fired his cannon. Thats my wild Adjutant.

   It was not a completely pleasant day at the Roans Prairie Church function. There were some very heated discussions over voting for or against CIC Wilson, making changes in the SCV, and whether or not to have a Special Convention. I talk more on this in The Front Line section of this newsletter.

   For those of you that do not know, Texas seceded from the union on February 1st. 1861. On February 9th, 1861, Jefferson Davis was elected as President of the Confederacy. He was inaugurated on February 22nd. The 15th is Presidents Day so remember to fly your Confederate flags in honor of President Jefferson Davis. If you also fly the American flag then remember to always fly it higher.

   Be sure to remember that we will be having our regular (February) meeting even though it is Valentines Day. The Cow Palace will be open so bring your loved ones out to eat before the meeting. For those of you that do not know, many of us meet there at around 5:00 p.m. to eat and then move into the back room at 6:00 to start the meeting. If you are still eating at that time then move your plates to the meeting.

   Commander John Hillman of the Wallisville camp will be giving a presentation at the February meeting. He will be speaking on the issues concerning the Special Convention and our Commander-in-Chief Wilson. This is a hot issue right now, so I ask that all Swamp Angels make this meeting so we can discuss this issue.

   March is Texas History Month. Remember to honor those 1,400 days that we call, The War of Yankee Aggression, The War of Northern Arrogance, and a few other names that I cannot mention. Read the story about the Swamp Angels and learn what battles they fought in Texas. They spent the coldest winter ever recorded here in the Liberty area. Some men froze to death one night as they slept. I can e-mail the story to you if you ask. If you are a new member to our camp then the story is in your New Members Package.

   The only reason I will ever call off a meeting is if the weather is so bad that coming to the meeting would be dangerous, or if a holiday is on that weekend. I will still hold a meeting, even during bad weather that I do not consider dangerous. However; I will not expect everyone to think the same way and show up. If you have any questions as to whether or not there will be a meeting then just call or e-mail me.

   The April meeting falls on the Easter weekend. The Dayton Old Times Days festival is on the third weekend. Therefore we will have our April meeting on the first weekend, April 3rd. This way we can concentrate solely on the Liberty Jubilee at the March meeting and the Dayton Old Time Days festival at the April meeting. Please do not miss these meetings if you can help it. Our camp needs you and your participation.

   I want to thank Commander Hillman and the men of the Wallisville camp for handling the Dayton High School Living History Program at the end of this month. Our own Adjutant, Randy Billingsley, will be giving a presentation there. Ill be there to take pictures for my newspaper articles. Gene and I will be able to see how this type of program is handled so that our camp will be able to do it each year from now on. Educating our local youth is one of our jobs and I am looking forward to seeing it. Thanks again to Commander Hillman and the men of the Wallisville camp.

Commander Vernon Gillen

Picket Duty


By Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.

   Why do American's continue to remember their past? May be it was a simpler and slower time. It was a time when truth was spoken. Men and women took their stand to give us the freedoms we now enjoy. God bless those who today do their duty around the world for freedom.

   With all the good things, there are things that do not make sense. We remember our past heroes, yet efforts are underway to change streets and schools named after such men as: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others..

   Let America not forget January 19, 2004. The 197th birthday of General Robert E. Lee. From our nation's capitol to Atlanta, Georgia to the west coast, we still hold yearly tributes to General Lee.

   He was born at Stratford House, Westmoreland County, Virginia on January 19, 1807. The winter was cold and fireplaces were little help. Lee's Mother, Ann Hill (Carter) Lee had a severe cold.

   Ann Lee named her son "Robert Edward" after two of her brothers.

   Robert E. Lee undoubtedly acquired his love of country from those who had lived during the American Revolution. His Father, "Light Horse" Harry, was a hero of the Revolution and served Virginia as Governor and in the U.S. House of Representatives. Members of his family signed the Declaration of Independence.

   Lee was educated in the schools of Alexandria, Virginia. In 1825, he received an appointment to West Point Military Academy. He graduated in 1829, 2nd in his class and without a single demerit. He was commissioned Lieutenant of Engineers.

   Robert E. Lee wed Mary Anna Randolph Custis in June, 1831, two years after his graduation from West Point. Robert and Mary grew up together. Mary was the daughter of George Washington Parke Custis, the grandson of Martha Washington and the adopted son of George Washington. Mary was an only child, therefore, she inherited Arlington House across the Potomac from Washington where they raised seven children.

   Army promotions were slow. In 1836, Lee was appointed to 1st Lieutenant. In 1838, with the rank of Captain, Lee fought in the War with Mexico and was wounded at the Battle of Chapultepec.

   He was appointed Superintendent of West Point in 1852 and is considered one of the best superintendents in it's history.

   President-to-be Abraham Lincoln offered command of the Union Army to him in 1861, but Lee refused. He would not raise arms against his native Virginia.

   War was in the air. The country was in the turmoil of separation. Lee wrestled with his very soul. He had served the United States in the army for over 30 years. He believed secession to be the wrong answer to the country's problems, but he had a terrible decision to make.

   After an all-night battle, much of that time spent on his knees in prayer, Robert Edward Lee had reached his decision. He reluctantly resigned his commission and headed South.

   Arlington House would be occupied by the Federals and, as an act of spite, they would turn the estate into a war cemetery. Today it is one of our country's most cherished memorials-Arlington Cemetery. President John F. Kennedy went to Arlington shortly before he was assassinated in 1963 and said he wanted to be buried there. He is, in front of Robert E. Lee's home. Lee served as Advisor to President Davis, then commanded the legendary Army of Northern Virginia. The exploits of Lee's army fill thousands of books today.

   After four years terrible years of death and destruction, General Robert E. Lee met General U. S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia and ended their battles. Lee told his dishearten comrades to "Go home and be good Americans."

   Lee was called Marse Robert, Uncle Robert and Marble Man. He was loved by the people of the South, but the Northern folks also adopted him. His military tactics are studied worldwide. Lee was a man of honor, proud of his name and heritage. After the War Between the States, he was offered $50,000 for the use of his name. His reply was: "Sirs, my name is the heritage of my parents. It is all I have and it is not for sale." His refusal came when he had nothing. That $50,000 probably had the value of $1,000,000 today or more!

   In the fall of 1865, Lee was offered and accepted the presidency of troubled Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. The school was later renamed Washington and Lee in his honor. Robert E. Lee died of a heart attack at 9:30A.M. on the morning of October 12, 1870 at Washington College. His last words were: "Strike the tent." He was 63 years of age. He is buried in a chapel on the school grounds with his family and near his favorite horse "Traveler." A writer of letters, Lee wrote his most famous quote to son Custis in 1852. "Duty is the most sublimes word in our language."

   In an 1866 letter to Lord Acton, Lee foresaw America's destiny: "The consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it."

   On this anniversary let us ponder words he wrote to Annette Carter in 1868: "I grieve for posterity, for American principles and American liberty."

   On August 5, 1975, 110 years after General Lee's application, President Gerald Ford signed Joint Resolution 23, restoring the long overdue full rights of citizenship to General Robert E. Lee. (

   Winston Churchill called Lee "one of the noblest American's who had ever lived." Lee's life was one of service and self-sacrifice. His motto was: "Duty, Honor, Country."

Lieutenant Commander Gene Rivers

The Adjutants Minutes

   Gentlemen, another meeting goes in the history books. We had two new members added to the Swamp Angels roster, Mr. Carroll Bagley and Mr. Samuel Shurtleff, along with the swearing in of the new camp Chaplain, Mr. Preston Billingsley.
   I call special attention to all members...the camp dues were set at five dollars a year and all dues are in need of payment by the end of January.
   The greater portion of the January meeting was discussion on upcoming events the Camp would be participating in.
Liberty Jubilee - March 27/28
Dayton Old Time Days Festival - April 17/19
   Ways for the camp to raise funds at the events was discussed lightly as well as the upcoming Confederate Memorial Day on April 26th.
The camp would be needing at least two men recruiting the crowds in these events at all times working in shifts to relieve each other. For those wishing to participate, there will be room at the Dayton Old Times Day Festival for four tents to be set up.
   Commander Gillen mentioned a couple of speakers would be entertaining members in upcoming meetings. A discussion followed and it was decided that the camp would pay for the speakers and their spouses dinner at the Cow Palace Restaurant.
   Mr. Gillen reminded everyone about the upcoming Robert E. Lee Sunday Service at Roans Prairie Baptist Church on January 18th.
I personally attended this event and saw no camp members present to enjoy the service and the entertainment following the service. A good time was had by all that day. Members of various camps were there as well as Commander Westmoreland. Many were dressed in period uniforms and a few rode horses. There was plenty of black powder smoke in the air from the rifle and cannon fire. Children and adults alike had a good time listening to speakers and walking about asking questions about the costumes and rifles.
   Hope some of you will be able to make the next meeting and some of the other events this year and plan on participating in a few.

Adjutant Randy Billingsley


The Front Line

   The first half of this months Front Line is in our own house, so to say. Unfortunately, two sides are fighting over control of the SCV and it is now causing discontent and even arguments between camp members and even entire camps. This has become such a heated issue to the point that some men are threatening others. I thought we were brothers. Though many of you in our camp have expressed your thoughts on this matter you have also excepted the others right to express their thoughts. You did this without getting angry. Good job Swamp Angels. Expressing our different ideas and views is healthy as long as we continue to realize that the other person also has that right as well.

   When you e-mail or talk to other SCV members in other camps, I ask that you use our camps unity to help others stay united. If we, so-called-brothers do not watch what we say and how we say it then the SCV could have some serious problems. Our enemies would love for the SCV to split or even brake up. Without the SCV they could run amuck and get anything they wanted. After fighting against our enemies for so many years should we now just give them what they want. No!

   I am proud of my Southern heritage and ancestry. I will do what ever I can to hold the SCV together and I expect the same from anyone else that calls himself a Swamp Angel. We joined the SCV for many reasons but, the main reason that we all had was to honor our Confederate ancestors. How can we honor them if we let our tempers fly and then let the SCV split. The most well known battle tactic is to Divide and Conquer. Our enemies are sitting back and letting us divide ourselves at a National, Divisional, and in some cases, camp level. If we let this happen then, conquering us is only the next easy step. In fact, by that time we would already be conquered. Do you want that?

   Our camp is holding together great and I am proud of you all for it. If the Swamp Angels can do it then other camps can do it as well. Tell your friends in other camps. It is this simple. When you hear someones view on this matter that you do not like, take a breath and relax. Just as you had the right to say what you said, so do they have the right to say what they want. Maybe one of you heard something wrong or misunderstood the other.

   Remember this. Take advantage of hearing everyones ideas and views. By doing this you will learn. Then go to the Texas Divisional Convention in June as a Delegate and vote. Do not forget the National Convention in July, in Dalton, Georgia. If anything else, all of this should be over in a few months. What happens during these next few months depends on how well we hold our tempers and respect the ideas of others. Another mans thoughts are only that, his thoughts. Getting angry about it is foolish and accomplishes nothing except fulfilling our enemies goals. Do not lower your standards and get angry.

   I am not worried about you Swamp Angels. I am just concerned about those SCV members out there that do not have the understanding, self control, and respect for others thoughts as you do.

   Before I go let me say one more thing. We all know the story about the oak tree that had to bend in the wind or brake. It had to change or be destroyed. In the 108 years that the SCV has been in existence we have not changed at all. Everything changes or it is destroyed.

   At the meeting next Saturday we will vote on this. Either we vote to support CIC Wilson and the changes that he wants to make or we vote not to. Its that simple. I have given you my view on this. Come to the meeting to hear the other side. When we vote on this issue then you will have heard both sides. Because this is such a heated situation I have decided to make this a paper vote so no one will know how you voted. But remember this. If you do not come to the February meeting and vote then you will have no right to complain. As your Commander I will defend what ever your vote is.

   Many of you with computers read the Worth Star Telegraph newspaper article written on Jan. 19th. This is just one example as to why WE MUST stick together and change with the times. One of our biggest enemies is the extremely far-left-wing Liberal media. When you respond to one of these newspaper articles then watch what you say and how you say it. You will not only be representing the SCV when you write back but our camp as well.  

Spaights Angels

An Accidental Medical Discovery

   An accidental medical discovery was made in Chattanooga after the battles of 1863, and had interesting medical consequences. The Confederate surgeons were out of chloroform, hence could not use any to kill the maggots in the wounds of their patients as was the general practice. To their amazement the patients recovered quickly, because the maggots acted as scavengers by eating the diseased tissues, but did not touch the healthy ones. This phenomenon had been observed in the Napoleonic wars, but had been forgotten. It was not forgotten again, however, and in World War I maggots actually were bred to assist in the recovery of wounded soldiers.

   I would like to say I missed all of you by not making the last months meeting. I was in Waco on my vacation and could not make it back in time.

   I will not be there at this meeting. My children got together and bought me a ticket to fly to Washington State for my 60th birthday. I will swear in Miss Sara Rivers and Connie Billingsley at the March meeting. I have received from TSOCR three certificates. One for Sara Rivers, and one each for Randy and Connie Billingsley.

   I found out that everyones dues for OCR is already paid. Please give or send our Chapter OCR dues to Gene Rivers. It is $10.00. If you are paying by check or money order, please address it to Gene Rivers.

God loves the Roses

Judith Gillen



1. If you want to tell your loved one Happy Anniversary or Happy Birthday then let me know. I would be more than happy to write it here.

2 The April meeting falls on Easter weekend. Therefore we will meet on April 3rd, the first Saturday of the month. That will be our last meeting before the Dayton Old Time Days festival which will be two weekends later.

3. SCV dues renewals are due to be postmarked by no later than 31 Jan 04. If you joined before 1 Aug 03, you will be assessed a $6 late fee on State and National dues. If you have questions, call me at 281-610-7336. Lt Cmdr Rivers. Don't get behind!

4. A burglary occurred on January 11, 2004, at 4:00 a.m. at the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Visitor Center. A concerned citizen has pledged $1,000 to match the $1,000 reward already offered by the National Park Service. A total of $2,000 is offered for information leading to the recovery of stolen Civil War firearms and the arrest of the persons involved. The anonymous donor is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and the National Rifle Association. The following firearms were taken:

A. M1849 Colt Pocket Revolver, Serial Number 106402. Caliber .36. Engraving on backstrap reads: "Presented to Col. E.B. Greer 3rd Texas Cav. By Knights Of The Golden Circle, 1861." Scroll engraving on frame and barrel. Lettering on barrel reads address Samuel Colt, New York City. Overall length 87/8 inches.

B. U.S. Model 1842 Percussion Pistol. Single shot pistol, caliber :54. Manufactured By H. Aston, Middleton, Conn., 1853. U.S. proof marks (SKP) on top' of barrel, Two inspector cartouches on left side of stock.

C. Model 1851Colt Navy Revolver, Serial Number 14841. Caliber .36 "Address Col. Saml. Colt New York U S America" stamped on top of barrel. 36 cal stamped on left side of trigger guard. Above trigger guard on left side, "Colts" stamped. Number also stamped on butt plate and twice forward of trigger guard. Pictures of sailing craft etched

on cylinder as well as "Colts Patent No. 7903". Overall length 10 % inches.

   Persons having information about these items or persons involved should call

Greene County Sheriffs Office at (417) 868-4040 or Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

at (417) 732-2662, ext. 225 or ext. 274. Information can also be given to the F.B.I.,

Springfield Office at (417) 882-3303 or Crimestoppers at (417) 869-TIPS.

5. The 2004 Texas State Convention & Reunion

Here is some information if you are interested in going to the Texas State Convention in June 11th and 12th. You do not have to be a delegate to go but our camp needs two delegates.

The hotel is the Fredonia Hotel and Convention Center in Nacogdoches, which can be contacted at (936) 564-1234. Rooms are already blocked and ready for reservations. Make certain when reserving your room that you inform the hotel staff that it is for the SCV Reunion on 11 and 12 June 2004. The rate is $76 per room, per night regardless of how many people are in a room. Most rooms will hold four people, some only two. Standby rooms may be made available at nearby hotels, if required. The hotel is ready to receive our Compatriots beginning at 3:00 pm on the 11th. Registration for the convention begins at 5:00 pm and will be controlled by the host camp. Registration will continue until 10:00am the following morning. Friday evening entertainment will be poolside at the hotel and includes live music from the "Old Time String Quartet", a cash bar and BBQ. The band will play from 7:00 - 10:00 pm.

6. Happy Birthday to my wife Judy Gillen. On February 23rd she will be . 19 years old.