The Angel's Dispatch
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February 2005

The Commander’s Thoughts

     After looking at newsletters from other camps I have got some new ideas that I will be trying with this newsletter. Some of these changes will give the newsletter more room for articles and pictures. In all, if you look closely, you will see a different and better look.

     The meeting last month went well. We finished the planning on the Lee/Jackson Banquet and planned our next Swamp Angels’ Day. We also voted for the Executive Committee to start handling the voting on things that will not require much discussion. This means that our meetings should be cut in half. As of right now I only have three things on my agenda for the next meeting.

     The Swamp Angels and Spaight’s Angels held our first Lee/Jackson Banquet on January 27th. Commander-in-Chief Denne Sweeney spoke on and had handouts sheets on the genealogy of General Robert E. Lee. Then he took questions about the special Texas Divisional Executive Council meeting that has been moved to this month. Texas OCR Assistant Director Betty Nelson and her husband Commander Nelson of the Temple camp were also there. It is the Temple camp that is hosting this year’s Texas State SCV/OCR Convention in June. Mrs. Nelson also spoke to the group.

     Darlene Smart surprised me when she brought a Swamp Angel camp flag that she had been making for me. She also offered to make one for the camp at a very cheap price. Sam and I agreed that her price was very affordable. I will be mentioning this at our next meeting. I will also have my flag there for those at the meeting to see.

     The meals were great. The chicken fried steaks were huge and the marinated chicken breasts were literally covered with mushrooms. The two pork chops on the pork chop plates were also large and tender. Unfortunately, it was raining and that kept many that had already paid for their meals, from coming.

     Before leaving we held a raffle and silent auction. In the raffle I was lucky to win the large crocheted Confederate flag that Sherry Charping, our camp Chaplain’s wife, is making. It was not finished yet but that is okay. It will still look great on my den wall. Mrs. Nelson won the second prize, a book named, “None But Texians” and Sam won the third prize, one of our camp T-shirts. “None But Texians” is a book about Terry’s Texas Rangers. In the silent auction Commander and Miss Nelson bought both items. One was a book named Sabine Pass and the other one was a large picture. Sam donated both of his winnings to the Texas OCR for the silent auction at this year’s state convention.

     Cameron Crane of Anderson Studios and his daughter were also at our banquet. For a small price many of us had professional portraits taken. He also took pictures during the banquet so that we would have some for our camp scrapbook. They should be on his web site for me to copy from any day now.

     In our last meeting we planned our next Swamp Angels’ Day celebration. It will be held on April 30th at the Jose’s Mexican Restaurant in Dayton, on FM-1960, at the first red light out of Dayton. Everyone will buy their own meal and trust me, this restaurant has great food at a low cost. For entertainment Sam will be dressed as a Confederate soldier, 1st Sergeant Conner of Spaight’s Battalion, Company A. Company A and F were the original Swamp Angels. He will tell the story about the Swamp Angels of Company A as if he was their sergeant. This should be very exciting.

     For those of you that do not know, our camp held it’s first meeting in my back yard on April 27, 2003. Many months ago we voted to have a Swamp Angels’ Day celebration to celebrate the beginning of the Swamp Angels’ camp. Plan to make this celebration.

     There is one more bit of business. Even if the dues deadline had not been changed to November 1st, February 1st was the old deadline. Therefore, if you have not paid your dues by now you are delinquent. Starting right now, if your dues are not paid then you will no longer be receiving any of the benefits of being in the Swamp Angels‘ camp. A list of paid camp members is at the end of this newsletter. I am sorry for sounding so harsh but, the new deadline was three months ago.

     Next year the membership dues will be handled a lot differently. I will be getting with the Adjutant and Treasurer about this.

Commander Vernon Gillen

Picket Duty

January 1

     On this day in 1863, Confederate forces under Gen. J. B. Magruder began their assault on Union forces that had held Galveston since October. Magruder placed artillery and dismounted cavalry aboard two river steamers, the Bayou City and the Neptune. He also gathered infantry and cavalry, supported by artillery, to cross the railroad bridge onto the island. The Confederates entered Galveston on New Year's night, January 1, 1863, and opened fire before dawn. The Union ship Harriet Lane sank the Neptune, but the Bayou City's crew seized the Federal vessel. Union commander William B. Renshaw's flagship, the Westfield, ran aground, and the commander died trying to blow it up rather than surrender it. The other Union ships sailed out to sea, ignoring Confederate surrender demands, while their infantry comrades in town surrendered. Magruder had retaken Galveston with a moderate loss. Although the port remained under Confederate control for the rest of the war, only a week elapsed before it was again blockaded.

Jan 8

     On this day in 1864, seventeen-year-old David Owen Dodd was hanged. The Texas native was captured as he tried to cross Federal lines near Little Rock, with notes in Morse code hidden in his shoe. After a military court found him guilty, he confessed that he had been sent to gather information about Union troops. Dodd may have been the youngest person hanged as a spy in the Civil War.

January 11

     On this date in 1863, the USS Hatteras was sunk by the CSS Alabama. The Hatteras, a converted merchant ship formerly named the St. Mary, was commissioned in October 1861 and first saw duty in the South Atlantic. After assignment to the blockading squadron in the Gulf of Mexico, she was raiding along the Confederate coast when she was sunk by Confederate captain Raphael Semmes. She lies in sixty feet of water twenty miles south of Galveston. The federal government has been able to preserve the wreck for scientific and historical research.

January 23

     On this day in 1863, Confederate soldiers hanged Martin Hart in Fort Smith, Arkansas. This attorney from Hunt County had served in the Texas legislature, where he spoke out against secession. After secession, he resigned his government post and organized the Greenville Guards, pledging the company's services "in defense of Texas" against invasion. Under color of a Confederate commission, however, he spied against the Confederacy. In Arkansas he led a series of rear-guard actions against Confederate forces, and is alleged to have murdered at least two prominent secessionists. He was captured on January 18, 1863, by Confederate forces.

January 29

     On this day in 1861, the Secession Convention of the state of Texas voted overwhelmingly to secede from the United States. South Carolina had seceded in December 1860. The election of Republican Abraham Lincoln precipitated the fall of the Southern dominoes. Fearful of Northern encroachment on traditional freedoms, and acutely aware of the South's economic dependence upon slavery, the Southern states voted one by one to withdraw from the Union. A Texas referendum to settle the legality of the move was held on February 23, 1861. The results for the state as a whole were 46,153 for secession and 14,747 against. The stage was set for Texans to fight and lose a bloody civil war.
     On this day in 1861, the people of Texas went to the polls to vote on a referendum to secede from the Union. The vote was 46,153 for secession and 14,747 against. Of the 122 counties casting votes, only eighteen cast majorities against secession. Only eleven others cast as much as 40 percent against. The referendum was held pursuant to a decision in favor of secession in the state Secession Convention.

Gene Rivers

The Adjutant’s Minutes

     The January meeting went well. After all of the preliminaries were over the business finally got under way. Those of us that ordered the nametags got them in time for our camp’s first Lee/Jackson Banquet. Then it was time to sit down for some serious discussions on the banquet. All plans were finalized and then it was time to wait.

     We discussed the upcoming Liberty Jubilee. Commander Gillen showed a form sent to him by the Jubilee Committee. They were wanting $80.00 for a table space and being a non profit organization did not matter. Our Commander has talked to other non profit organizations in the area and none of them are going to have tables set up at the Jubilee either. The City of liberty will be loosing a lot of money this year.

     Our camp’s upcoming Swamp Angels’ Day has been set for April 30th, a Saturday. We and any of our friends and family that want to join in will meet at Jose’s Mexican Restaurant, about a mile west of Hwy 321 on FM-1960. We agreed on meeting there between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. but an exact time has not yet been set.

     Sam will dress up as Sergeant Conner, 1st. Sergeant of the Swamp Angels of Spaight’s Battalion. Then he will portray the sergeant as he tells the Swamp Angels’ story as if he was the sergeant himself. It promises to be very interesting.

     With so much time being spent on a lot of voting our meetings were last from 2 to 3 hours. Because of this the men at the meeting voted to have the Executive Committee do all voting on quick things between the monthly meetings. This way the only things that are voting on at the meetings will be things that require discussions. This should cut the meeting time in half.

     This was about all we did with the discussion on the banquet taking over an hour alone. The meetings for now on should be a lot shorter now.

Adjutant Samuel Shurtleff


The Front Line

     The below notice was sent out to all SCV members with e-mail. If you plan to be a delegate at the 2006 National Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana then I suggest that you remember Past Commander-in-Chief's Hawkins and Orlebeke and, more importantly, Lt. Commander-in-Chief Anthony Hodges. Hodges is the one suing the SCV. The 2006 National Convention will be election time. With Hodges being the Lieutenant CiC he could get elected into the office of CiC. Do you really want a man that has sued the SCV to be our Commander-in-Chief? Not me and Judy are already making plans to be there.

     We can have two delegates, as of now, three if we can get 26 members before next November 1st. Now there is a challenge. Are you up to it?

     The purpose of this message is to notify members, camps and divisions that they should not participate in much-publicized attempts by Lt. Commander-in-Chief Anthony Hodges to establish a legal defense fund to
sue the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Commander Hodges has been officially notified by the SCV to cease and desist in these efforts, as attempts to sue the SCV over the recent suspensions of GEC members are extremely premature. The administrative remedies automatically granted by the Constitution have yet to be employed.
     The two members of the GEC named in Commander Hodges' letter, PCIC's Hawkins and Orlebeke, were legally suspended by the Commander-in-Chief, in compliance with the provisions of Article XIV, Section 5 of the SCV Constitution. Both officers will be able to appeal their suspensions to the next General Convention in Nashville. The fact that they are seeking to gain reentry by filing a law suit against the SCV is abundant proof that they have no desire to explain the causes of their suspension to the membership at large. Five other suspensions of GEC members were automatically lifted on the day following the December 18, 2004 meeting.
     These suspensions were for attempting to boycott the GEC meeting in order to prevent the GEC from conducting important business. This course of action follows SCV precedent based on suspensions legally conducted at the 1998 Annual Reunion by then Commander-in-Chief Peter W. Orlebeke.
     PCIC Orlebeke was suspended after an investigation into allegations that he voted a camp at the Dalton Convention of which he was not a member. PCIC Hawkins was suspended in order to avoid a derivative lawsuit, to be filed on behalf of over 100 members of the SCV, calling for his removal from the GEC due to his law license being suspended by the Missouri Supreme Court after he stipulated to serious ethical allegations.
Any member, camp or division that participates in this fundraising will be effectively funding both sides of the lawsuit, since the proposed legal action against the SCV will be defended by SCV dues money. All members are urged to avoid participating in this "legal defense fund" before learning all the facts, since legal action is certainly not appropriate before the suspended GEC members in question have had the rightful and automatic appeal of their suspensions.
     Rather than participate in a legal action that is certainly premature, and arguably frivolous, members are urged to wait until after the Nashville Convention before making a final decision about participating in any legal action. Jumping into this action now deprives the SCV of valuable resources of money and time, and further deprives the membership of their constitutionally granted right to sit in judgment of these suspended members. Ultimately, the fate of these GEC members should be decided by the membership of the SCV, not by a court.

Denne A. Sweeney

Spaight’s Angels

Banishment and Deportation

     Pioneer detective Allan Pinkerton was sometimes called “a man who was born chock full of suspicions about his own parents.” Whether or not that assessment is correct, he had been in and around Washington only a short time before he was sure that someone in the capital was providing a steady flow of vital information to the enemy. Surveillance plus checks of letters and telegrams soon implicated Mrs. Rose Greenhow O’Neal, an attractive widow whose conservation and other charms were fabled.

     On August 23, 1861, Pinkerton placed her under house arrest. When he felt that he had confirmation of his suspicions, he managed to have her taken to the Old Capitol Prison. This Sixteenth Street building was once the seat of the Federal government but had been converted recently into a house of detention. Rose Greenhow O’Neal was escorted there by a military guard.

     It was not difficult to discover how O’Neal had managed to gain access to reports and recommendations that came from the highest levels of government. Her parties were the talk of Washington, attended by everyone who was anyone. No one knew how many highly placed officials she had entertained, but the list was believed to be long and very, very heavy with brass.

     Established in the Old Capitol Prison with her eight year old daughter and a few other women, the widow O’Neal was a political prisoner in the custody of the Department of State. Even so, she boldly continued her correspondence with Confederates. Much evidence supports the view that the Federal debacle at Bull Run stemmed in part from the fact the O’Neal had informed Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard of the Federals’ plans.

     Dix, Pierrepont, and Holt-along with Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton-held only one conference on Rose O’Neal. She was guilty of treason. If tried, she would be convicted and sentenced to hang. Before the noose could be placed around her lovely neck, however, she was sure to talk…and talk…and talk…and talk. Her revelations would prove even more embarrassing than the July 1861 defeat at Manassas Gap, Virginia. In this dilemma, a secret top-level decision was made. Instead of giving O’Neal her day in court, she would be banished from the Union for the duration of the conflict.

     In June 1862 an officer of the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, heading a guard of six men, reached the Old Capitol. Accompanied by the warden, they led Rose Greenhow O’Neal to fort Monroe, Virginia. After a period of detention in the only Virginia installation to remain in Federal hands throughout the war, she swore not to return to Union soil. She was then led to the Confederate lines and ceremonially released.

     As the central figure in the first U.S. case in which a citizen was banished, O’Neal occupies a special niche in the annals of the period. She subsequently went to England and returned on the blockade-runner Condor. Nearing the coast, the ship was forced aground by vessels of the Federal blockade. Jumping from her ship to avoid capture, O’Neal drowned near Wilmington, North Carolina, on October 1, 1864.

The Lee/Jackson Banquet

     I really enjoyed having Mrs. Betty Nelson at the banquet. She gave a brief history of the start of the OCR. We had some door prizes given to the women at the banquet. Every lady there left with a potted plant of their choice. From the Spaight’s Angels #32, I presented Mrs. Betty Nelson a potted miniature rose. I will see you at the next meeting.

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.

Happy Birthday

Preston Billingsley, born on February 26, 1977


Judith Gillen, born on February 23, 1986?

That’s right. She is only 19 years old.

2. The following men have paid their dues and I have their membership cards. I will pass out these cards at the next meeting. Any cards not passed out then will be mailed out in the March newsletter or sooner.

1. Commander Vernon Gillen.

2. 1st. Lieutenant Commander Sam Shurtleff.

3. 2nd. Lieutenant Commander & Historian Randy Billingsley.

4. Chaplain Richard Charping.

5. Preston Billingsley.

6. Kenneth Carouthers.

7. William (Bill) Giles.

8. Donald (DJ) Hendrix.

9. Lamont Pearce.

10. Bruce Rivers.

11. Fulton (Gene) Rivers.

     I want to thank you gentlemen for paying your dues and staying in the SCV. I especially want to thank you for staying in the Swamp Angels’ camp. We have an exciting year coming up and you will be a part of it. Remember that you are not just in the Swamp Angels’ camp, you are a Swamp Angel.

     In case you are interested we still need an Adjutant. I also have some other appointed offices open. Please take an interest in your camp.