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May 2004

The Commanders Thoughts

   I want to thank 1st Lieutenant Commander Eric Sandifer and Adjutant Kevin Ladd of the Wallisville camp for coming to the Liberty Jubilee and giving their presentations. These men are both fine speakers and did a great job. My thanks to them both.

   Past Adjutant Randy Billingsley also spoke at the Jubilee. He did a great job of captivating the audience with his buckskin clothing, weapons, and skunk skin cap that he kept holding in his arms and petting it like it was a pet. He had many of the people fooled into thinking he had a pet skunk.

   I also want to thank Gene, Randy, Lamont, Jerry and Connie for helping out at the Liberty Jubilee. Towards the point system for earning the Commanders Certificate of Exultance, Gene earned 16 points, Lamont 16 points, Randy 13 points and Jerry earned 4 points.

   Below is the information from the Texas Divisional web site about the state convention in June. Please read this and consider going even if you do not want to be a delegate.

   Texas Division Reunion. 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 $75 per room 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.

   If any of you are thinking that you do not have the money for a motel room and other things then that is okay. As a delegate you can just drive up I-59 to Nacogdoches that Saturday morning and back home that evening. It is only about 120 miles depending on where you live. Just go during the only day of business, Saturday. You will need some money for gasoline and food. That is it unless you want to buy something from the many tables there.

   The Texas OCR will have a table with many things on it. Other people will be selling things as well. Pastor Devries has agreed to have some of our T-shirts for sell on his table. Even if you just come to check things out then you can buy one of our camp T-shirts there. My wife and I both have one.

   There is something different this year. As you read above in red many of you can sleep in one room on sleeping bags and split the cost of only $75.00 a night. If seven of you go then that would only be about $23.00 per man for the weekend. You do not have to be a delegate to go to the conventions. In fact there is an award for the camp that has the most men at the convention.

   Then again, if you can afford the cost then the entire weekend is loaded with fun. Also in red above you can see that there is a lot of fun that Friday evening. There is even a cash bar for those of you that like Saturday morning hangovers. So far there is no description on the other entertainments but this is what usually happens.

   There is a Saturday noon meal where camps and some men can pick up awards and medals that they have earned. I heard that some idiot put two Swamp Angels in for medals. Hummmm! Imagine that happening. Of course being put in for a medal and getting it depends on what the Texas Divisional Awards Committee thinks. As your Commander, I will be told if any of you earned a medal and will pick it up for you at the convention. Then again, if you are there then you can get it yourself.

   Saturday night is a time to dress up in your finest for the Saturday night Ball. At this time the Texas OCR hosts an auction. There are all kinds of things to bid on from a glass at $5.00 and up to over $500.00 for a gold plated pistol or maybe $700.00 for an antique musket that was actually used in the War. You never know what is going to be there. The proceeds goes to the Texas Divisional Heritage Fund. All camps are asked to donate something. Our is donating two pictures with wood frames but if any of you want to make another donation then that is just fine. It would be great if Judy and I could take many donations form our camp.

   I could go on and on about the fun at these conventions. I suggest that you get with some other men and just drive up there and check it out for yourself. My words cannot describe the experience. These conventions are something that you just have to experience for yourself. I will bring Convention medals to show you what you will get when you register at the convention. Sometimes they are small and sometimes they are big. You never know until you get there.

Commander Vernon Gillen

Picket Duty

The Eyewitness account of John Browns Execution

Thomas J. Jacksons ("Stonewall") letter to his wife, Mary Anna Jackson
December 2, 1859

   John Brown was hung today at about 11 1/2 A.M. He behaved with unflinching firmness. The arrangements were well made under the direction of Col. Smith. Brown's wife visited him last evening. The body is to be delivered to her. The gibbet was south east of the town in a large field. Brown rode on the head of his coffin, from his prison to the place of execution. The coffin was of black walnut, enclosed in a poplar box of the same shape as the coffin.

   He was dressed in carpet slippers of predominating red, white socks, blacks pants, black frock coat, black vest & black slouch hat. Nothing around his neck beside his shirt collar. The open wagon in which he rode was strongly guarded on all sides. Capt. Williams, formerly one of the assistants of the Institute, marched immediately in front of the wagon. The jailer and high sheriff and several others rode in the wagon with the prisoner.

   Brown had his arms tied behind him, & ascended the scaffold with apparent cheerfulness. After reaching the top of the platform, he shook hands with several who were standing around him. The sheriff placed the rope around his neck, then threw a white cap over his head & asked him if he wished a signal when all should be ready---to which he replied that it made no difference, provided he was not kept waiting too long.

   In this condition he stood on the trap door, which was supported on one side by hinges, and on the other (south side) by a rope, for about 10 minutes, when Col. S. told the Sheriff "all is ready," which apparently was not comprehended by the Sheriff, and the Col. had to repeat the order, when the rope was cut by a single blow, and Brown fell through about 25 inches, so as to bring his knees on a level with the position occupied by his feet before the rope was cut. With the fall his arms below the elbow flew up, hands clenched, & his arms gradually fell by spasmodic motions---there was very little motion of his person for several minutes, after which the wind blew his lifeless body to & fro.

   His face, upon the scaffold, was turned a little east of south, and in front of him were the cadets commanded by Major Gilham. My command was still in front of the cadets, all facing south. One howitzer I assigned to Mr. Truheart on the left of the cadets, and with the other I remained on the right. Other troops occupied different positions around the scaffold, and altogether it was an imposing but very solemn scene.

   I was much impressed with the thought that before me stood a man, in the full vigor of health, who must in a few minutes be in eternity. I sent up a petition that he might be saved. Awful was the thought that he might in a few minutes receive the sentence "Depart ye wicked into everlasting fire." I hope that he was prepared to die, but I am very doubtful--he wouldn't have a minister with him.

   His body was taken back to the jail, and at 6 p.m. was sent to his wife at Harper's Ferry. When it reached Harper's Ferry the coffin was opened and his wife saw the body---the coffin was again opened at the depot, before leaving for Baltimore, lest there should be an imposition.

   The original letter is located in the Dabney-Jackson collection at the Library of Virginia. It has been widely reprinted; there are minor editorial variations among different published versions, though no substantive differences.

Lieutenant Commander Gene Rivers

The Adjutants Minutes

   With many of the members having to work there was not a quorum so not much business was done. Therefore a few Executive Decisions were made.

   All business was tabled until the May meeting except for the following two things.

   The Nominating Committee was appointed by Commander Gillen and consist of himself, Lieutenant Commander Gene Rivers, and Past Adjutant Randy Billingsley. If anyone wishes to be a delegate at the Texas State Convention in June and/or the National Convention in July then you need to contact one of these men.

   If there is time to wait then we will vote on delegates at the next meeting to be held on May 8th. If not, then the Executive Committee will have to choose delegates from a list of volunteers. This list so far consist of Commander Gillen and Lieutenant Commander Gene Rivers.

   Judith Gillen closed the meeting at 6:30 p.m. in prayer.

   I know that many of you miss our camp meetings because you have to work but many of you did not. We really need more participation from camp members. You all joined for many reasons; to preserve your Southern history and heritage, to honor your Confederate ancestors, because you are tired of being the only race in American that is still being discriminated against. I understand if you have to work, if the car is running bad or if your sick and that is okay. But if you can make a meeting but just do not want to then you need to know something. For what ever reason you joined the SCV, you will not accomplish it by sitting at home. If you cannot give your camp three hours a month then we are in trouble.

   As you sit at home our enemies are taking more and more of our Southern heritage away from us. Wal-mart and the Houston School District have built and are still building on top of our ancestors graves. This is what we fight against. This is why we are here. If Wal-mart or the Houston School District was building over your ancestor would you want to do something? Then I ask you this. Out of those hundreds of Confederate graves that are being built over, and even now are already under one Houston school, are you sure that one of them is not an ancestor that you just do not know about yet? Are you so sure? How would you feel if you learned that a Confederate ancestor of yours had become the foundation for a new Wal-mart. Would you shop there? And it all happened as you set at home when you could have fought them. There are 17 members in this camp. Three of us cannot fight this injustice by ourselves but, 17 of us can. Look at it this way. Take 1,000 SCV members. Only 30 of them can do a little but that is all. But can you imagine what all 1,000 of them can do? Please help your camp. Help your ancestor. Become more active in OUR camp.

The Adjutant


The Front Line

   For those of you without computers I have added this e-mail from our Divisional Commander.

Gentlemen of the Texas Division:

   First I want to thank everyone who made the trip to Austin to stand in front of the Supreme Court with Flags flying. I truly appreciate the time and sacrifices each of you made to be there.
   Our hearing was held in 200th District Court yesterday, March 22nd. Here are the results: The judge declined to assume jurisdiction in our case. Without making any ruling or findings on the underlying facts, the court declined to accept jurisdiction.
   Our attorney, Bill Kuhn, plans to appeal this decision. He has my full support.

   By declining to accept jurisdiction, the court in essence is saying that this a matter for the Legislature or other governmental body to deal with. It in no way means that we have lost our case nor does it mean that the plaques will not eventually be placed back in their original places. This ruling does mean, however, that the fight will continue but in a different venue.

   I assure you all that the leadership of the Texas Division of the SCV remains resolute in their desire and determination to have the plaques replaced in the Supreme Court Building and stands ready to take this fight to whatever court or public body necessary until justice is done.

   If I Stand, Support me; If I Run, Shoot me; If I Fall, Avenge me!

Steve von Roeder
Texas Division, SCV

   Here is a little something that was in the news three weeks ago. But I doubt if you will see in on the 6:00 oclock news because it might prove that there were Black Confederate soldiers. And we would not want that would we? Or would we?

HISD is accepting bids for an archaeological excavation.

   Anthony Pizzitola kept telling the folklore to the Houston Independent School District to try and stop it from clearing out all the houses, including his own childhood home, for a new school of performing arts. But HISD went ahead and leveled the land. "It was a David and Goliath situation," said Pizzitola. "I would like to just finally see it culminate, and just see HISD, I hope HISD learns something from this."

   The district is learning from historian Janet Wagner's discovery at the National Archives in Washington. "We found papers that indicated there was a lost, missing national cemetery in Houston," she said.

   These papers include a partial list of bodies interred and names of deceased slaves who fought for the Confederacy and are thought to be among the estimated 50 graves.

   "We simply were just bowled over by the fact that the folklore story was becoming real," said Wagner.
   So now HISD is accepting bids for an archaeological excavation. Digging up dirt and answers to a mystery. But those answers could unearth more questions. If graves are in fact found, it's unclear who would exhume the bodies and who would have to pay for it. The digging is set to begin sometime in June.


Spaights Angels

Letters From The Ladies of Vicksburg, Miss.

From Mrs. W. W. Lord

   Towards evening the glorious news was brought in that in three tremendous charges by the enemy, they had been repulsed with terrific slaughter. Then began the reincarnation of our army-men who had been gloomy and desponding men once more stood erect and hurled defiance at the foe.

   The pinch of the siege soon began to be felt. On May 28, another lady of Vicksburg {of Union sympathy}, wrote in her diary: I am so tired of corn-bread, which I never liked, that I eat it with tears in my eyes I send five dollars to market each morning and it buys a small piece of mule-meat. Rice and milk is my main food: I cant eat the mule meat. July 3, Martha {her slave} says rats are hanging dressed in the market with mule-meat--there is nothing else. The officer at the battery told me he had eaten one yesterday.

   Mrs. Lord continues on in the siege at the surrender on July 4. about past 8 oclock, before I was dressed, Mr. Lord came into the cave, pale as death and with such a look of agony on his face, as I would wish never to see again, and said, Maggie, take the children home directly; the town is surrendered, and the Yankee army will enter at 10 oclock. Judge my feelings, even now, after two years of trial and disappointed hopes, the tears will come and my heart sinks within me with sorrow. I was speechless with grief, no one spoke, even the poor children were silent.As I started up the hill .the tears began to flow and all the weary way home. I wept incessantly, meeting first one group of soldiers and then another many of them with tears streaming down their faces

   She continuesYou can imagine our feelings, when the U.S. Army entered, their banners flying and their hateful tunes sounding in our ears. Every house was closed and every house filled with weeping inmates and mourning hearts. You may be sure none of us raised our eyes to see the flag of the enemy in the place where our own had so proudly and so defiantly waved so long.

   Another Vicksburg lady Unionist had compassion for the Confederates as she penned: What a contrast to the suffering creatures we had seen so long were these stalwart, well-fed men, so splendidly set up and accoutered. Sleek horses, polished arms, bright plumes--this was the pride and panoply of war. Civilizations, discipline, and order seemed to enter with the measured tramp of those marching columns and the heart turned with throbs of added pity to the worn men in gray, who were being blindly dashed against this embodiment of modern power.

   But Mrs. Lord confided sorrowfully:How sad those two weeks were to see our brave soldiers without arms, paroled and passing sadly out of the place they had so long and so bravely defended. To feel for ourselves that the time had come when honor and duty required that we should leave the happy home and kind friends of 12 years and go out saddened and homeless with our five children.

  Together with Gettysburg, Vicksburg sounded the death knell for the Confederacy. When Port Hudson surrendered on July 9, the South was cut in half and the Mississippi River was opened to commerce. Grants army thus was freed for further operations.

OCR Report

   All of my Grandmothers Sachets were sold at Liberty Jubilee.

   I will be making more to be sold for the Confederate Reunion in June. The OCR is having a table to sell many great items and we are donating a great deal for the silent auction at the Ball on Saturday night. I will tell you all that come to the meeting more about the Executive Meeting in Huntsville.

   Commander Gillen and I really had a great time at the last meeting.

   I am looking forward to seeing all of you at the next meeting.

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. Only two men have not renewed their dues for this year. If you have paid your dues and have not received you membership card yet then let the Commander know. Your card should read in the top right corner, Year 2004. If you are an OCR member and do not have your membership card then contact Chapter #32 Representative Judith Gillen. Also in the top right corner of the OCR membership card should read, Year 2004.

3. I have the membership certificates for Richard Charping, Samuel Shurtleff, and David Williams. You need to come to a meeting so you can be sworn in. At the end of that ceremony I will present you with your certificates and membership cards. If you want to bring family to this meeting to take pictures then feel free to do so.