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Archive for March, 2011

Map Weekly Update

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

On Wednesday, Renee Courtney and I met up to venture down to the GIS data center at Fondren Library. (Ross had prior arrangements and had to sit the bench on this one) What we found was a huge amount of data that we could use to make the Dowling Map. Becoming acquainted with the GIS software presented the problem of depth. An effective map could not span the city of Houston and Sabine Pass. Thus we decided to make two maps and began to research what we would put on the maps.

The main thrust of the map, I thought, was to chronicle Dowling’s effect on Houston. So I began to search through the Dublin Metadata set and the City of Houston archive to look for articles that mention his statue/ his gravestone etc. I have compiled a list of these articles below (as much for my convenience) split into categories.

Although the actual format has yet to take concrete form, we hope that an integral part of the map will be a map of Houston superimposed with “pins” to designate significant locations important in Dowling’s memory. In addition, the grunt work of the project which will make it a real asset to the Omeka site is to hopefully link each of these pings to a page with primary source transcriptions, the scanned articles, and a short blurb on how each site relates to the life and memory of Dowling.

Currently, the project is still in its research phase. I have pointed out four major points that should be labeled on the map and at least one article relating to each.

St. Vincent’s Cemetery – DD0010a-c , with picture DD0044

Original proposed Monument site – DD0019

1939 move to Sam Houston Park – DD0016

1958 move to Hermann park – DD0018

Hopefully with a bit more searching, I can find the location of the Bank of Bacchus in order to introduce a bit more of Dowling’s personal life outside of the war into the map.

Archie P. McDonald

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Archie P. McDonald, Texas, All Hail the Mighty State. Austin, Texas: Elkin Press, 1983.

Archie P. McDonald’s book Texas, All Hail the Mighty State is a complete history of Texas spanning the entire history of Texas from the first native inhabitants until what Texas is today. The book includes a chapter on Texas’ involvement in the Civil war titled “Secession, Civil War, and Reconstruction.” In this chapter McDonald describes the actions of Texans, during the Civil War, including a brief description of the battle of Sabine Pass. Being a book written by a Texan primarily for Texans McDonald truly presents Dick Dowling as a hero. McDonald refers to the Battle as “Texas’ most ambitious battle,” (p 144) and even includes Jefferson Davis’ statement where he called the battle “the most significant action of the war.” (p 145) McDonald describes the events of the battle in quite bland terms compared to other accounts I have encountered, but he obviously holds the actions taken by the Texans in high regard. Citing the battle’s adverse effect on Wall Street stocks and on the Unions lines of credit with the British. (p 145) Though the account is not totally one sided as it mentions General Banks latter success in taking all of the Texas ports South of Galveston.

As I mentioned above the book Texas, All Hail the Mighty State is a history of Texas for those who love Texas. The book was published, in 1983, in Austin, Texas by the Eakin Press and appears to be a brief history of Texas and not a textbook. The book that I had access to was an ebook, through Fondren Library. By looking through The Handbook of Texas I determined that McDonald was a contributor on many works including histories of Texas, Biographies, and even an annual report for Halliburton. Also there is mention that sections of this book previously were featured in the Dallas Times Herald. The book depicts Texas heroes, like Dick Dowling, in a very favorable light. But I do not believe this account is overly biased in the way it depicts Texas History.

It is not clear weather any earlier or later editions exist as I was unable to ascertain the existence of other editions through the services provided by Fondren Library, but it should be noted that McDonald mentions a previous version that appeared at some point in the Dallas Times Herald.

The Transcription below comes from the 1983 edition of Archie P. McDonald’s book Texas, All Hail the Mighty State. The two portians come from page 144 and 145 respectivly.

Texas’ most ambitious battle occurred at Sabine Pass, a narrow inlet permitting access from the Gulf of Mexico to Sabine Lake, a saltwater empoundment of the waters of the Sabine and Neches rivers. Both rivers were navigable to rail lines. In September, 1862, Federal naval personnel forced the Confederates to abandon Sabine Pass, but it was soon reoccupied by an artillery battery commanded by Lieutenant Dick Dow-

ling, a Houston saloon keeper. In September, 1863, General Nathaniel Banks attempted to send seventeen Union naval vessels and a force of over 1,500 soldiers through Sabine Pass to attack the interior. Dowling’s guns sank or disabled two vessels in the main channel, thus blocking the way for the remainder of the ships and preventing the disembarking of the Union soldiers, who were then withdrawn to New Orleans.
The Battle of Sabine Pass was hailed by Jefferson Davis as the most significant action of the war at a time when he was grasping at straws after the defeats at Vicksburg and Gettysburg. The results even had a negative affect on Wall Street stocks and American credit in England. General Banks was more successful farther down the coast. His forces succeeded in capturing or controlling every port from the Rio Grande to just below Galveston, including Corpus Christi, Aransas Pass, and Indianola.


Library Assignment #2

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Books Covered:

Katie Daffan, Texas Hero Stories: An historical reader for the grades. (New York: Benjamin H Sanborn & Co., 1908)

TR Fehrenbach, Lone Star: a history of Texas and the Texans. (New York: American Legacy Press, 1968)


When I began this library assignment, I was sure I was going to find a strong shift in attitudes over time towards Lt. Dowling and the Civil War in general. As we saw in the first archival assignment (link here), the Civil Rights movement appeared to change the public’s favored view of Dowling from a Civil War hero to a prominent Irish-American in early Houston history.  I was anxious to see a similar progression in the printed literature (non-periodical) too.   Thus I selected two books “Texas Hero Stories: An Historical Reader for the Grades” by Katie Daffan and “Lone Star: a history of Texas and the Texans” by T.R. Fehrehbach.  Both,with their emphasis on “Great Men” (Carlylean) history in Texas,  promised to give a portrait of Dowling pre- and post-Civil Rights.

The book by Daffan “Texas Hero Stories” was published in 1908 just after the wave of renewed interest in Dowling that culminated in his statue’s erection outside of City Hall in March 1906. In addition, Katie Daffan was five-term President of the Texas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and a life member of its executive board.   With this background in mind and coupled with the book’s title of ‘Hero Stories’, I expected to find a laudatory tale of Dowling’s defense of Sabine Pass.

Unfortunately, and unexpectedly, I found no mention of either the battle of Sabine Pass or the actions of Dick Dowling. The book chronicles 12 ‘heroes’ of Texas, of whom three lived during the Civil War: Gen. Albert Johnson, Francis Lubbock, and John Reagan.  As her title suggests, Daffan’s prose drips with praise of these men and their devotion to the Confederacy. At the start of the war, she writes, “When the news that Texas had seceded from the Union reached [Gen Johnson] he resigned his command, though his surroundings were pleasant and he had grown fond of the West, and went immediately to Richmond, Virginia, where he joined the Confederacy” as a result of his devotion to the Southern cause. (Daffan, 115) She continues to describe his almost annihilation of Grant’s army at Shiloh where “victory was crowning every attempt made by the Confederates”, but his death removed “the center, the life, the very heart of the brilliant achievements”. (116)

Of Gov. Lubbock she writes “With less earnest, careful management during these dark days [of the Civil War], the people of our state would have suffered and our honor been sacrificed.”(123) John Reagan, “the Old Roman” was described as in love with “the whole great country and would have been glad for it to have remained one, with no division or strife, but he loved the South, and Texas the best of all.” (125) These three men encompass a broad view of the best of the “Lost Cause” : valiant “great men” who led the fight (literally and figuratively) against the Union, who acted as a result of loyalty to their state and for the honor (not slaves) of its inhabitants. Because the book was a “historical reader for the grades”, it acted in much the same way as the UDC’s Catechism of the Confederacy that Mercy Harper lectured about in class. These confederate men were role models –defenders of Texan pride–that young boys should emulate.

In my opinion, Dowling would have been an excellent addition to her book. His actions at Sabine Pass were in defense of his new home (Houston), and they were an example of how Confederate valiance defeated overwhelming odds (a theme Daffan reiterates constantly in her retelling of Texan independence).   It is a shame that Dowling is not included. His actions were in-line with Daffan’s view of a Texan Hero.  My only attempt to explain the omission was that Dowling was Irish and not a long-time Texan at the outbreak of the Civil War. Further evidence to my belief that strides made at integration during Reconstruction, the Irish were still not seen as fully “white”.

The other book I read was TR Fehrenbach’s “Lone Star”. The first edition of this book was published in 1968, after the Civil Rights movement so I expected the introduction of some of the social histories involved with the battle of Sabine Pass into the description of the battle.  However, this was not the case.   The book was compiled from a large array of sources dealing with the entire history of Texas and “was not written to destroy myths but so far as possible to cut through them to the reality underneath…to put things in broad perspective.” TR Fehrenbach,despite this neutral approach to history, is well-known as a scholar of Texan history and is the namesake of a book prize from the Texas Historical Commission. As a result of his neutral approach, the description about Dowling and the battle of Sabine Pass is concise and, to be honest, dry. It focuses purely on the military aspects of the Battle of Sabine Pass and not on its wider implications of the future of Texas.  His only indication of bias is his transition from the Indian Wars of the period to the Civil War where he writes “Against the Yankees, however, the Texan record was outstanding.” (369) A transcript is available below.

Not only is the 1968 version a mere recounting of the events at Sabine Pass on September 8, 1863 without hardly any social or political commentary, the excerpt does not fluctuate over time to reflect possible changes in scholarly trends.  The book was reissued twice in 1983 and 2000, however, they were, verbatim, the same as the 1968 edition with regards to Sabine Pass. I don’t believe this is because public and scholarly opinion was static in this time frame. On the other hand TR Fehrenbach writes in the 2000 preface “It has been said that each generation must rewrite history in order to understand it. The opposite is true.” In essence, Fehrenbach is ultra-conservative in disallowing modern trends to affect his interpretation of history. He even denies the momentous upheaval and swing towards social history caused by the Civil Rights movement. He says, in the same ed. 2000 preface “Texas, through the last half of the twentieth century, has suffered little ‘history’”.  I blame this as the reason why there is no shift in the description of the Battle of Sabine Pass.

Transcript of TR Fehrenbach’s description of the Battle of Sabine Pass as seen in “Lone Star: A History of Texas and Texans.” ed. 1968 Pg 369-370


Recognizing this as a weak point, where the Federal naval supremacy could bear, Admiral David Farragut and Major General NP Banks drew up plans for a major campaign in 1863. Sabine Pass was to be seized, and 5,000 veteran troops put ashore. Farragut and Banks hoped to repeat earlier Union successes at New Orleans and Mobile.

On September 8, 1863, four U.S. gunboats, leading a flotilla of 20 transports proceeded against Sabine Pass. This was a carefully planned assault, whose ultimate objective was the capture of Houston, Beaumont, and in turn, Galveston. At the very least, it was expected to open up a sustained campaign near vital areas of Texas. Major General William B. Franklin of the U.S. Army was in over-all command.

A small Confederate post, Fort Griffin, defended the Texas side of the Pass. Here Odlum’s Company F (Davis Guards) of the 1st Texas Heavy Artillery stood on watch. Neither Odlum nor his lieutenant, Smith, was present; the company, two old 24-pounder smoothbores, two 32-pounders, and two howitzers, and forty-two men, was commanded by the junior lieutenant, Richard (Dick) Dowling. IN the vicinity, also, was the Confederate steamer Uncle Ben and a detachment of infantry from Company B, Speight’s Battalion.

While the landing force of 5,000 stood offshore with its escort warships, the four Union gunboats moved up the channel and bombarded Dowling’s command. The shelling continued for an hour and a half. The Federal boats then withdrew, let the meaning of the bombardment sink in, and came back again. In similar situation outnumbered and outgunned Confederate posts had withdrawn.

With great coolness Dowling ordered his battery to withhold its fire.  He let the Federal warships come within 1,200 yards. Then, under heavy fire himself, Dowling poured fire from his old smoothbores into each Federal vessel in turn. The result was spectacular. USS Sachem was holed in the steam drum and fell out of action. Clifton’s tiller rope was carried away, and the gunboat drifted helplessly aground under Dowling’s battery. Clifton struck, running up a white flag.

Shocked and battered, the remaining flotilla raced back out to sea. The armada and its 5,000 invasion troops eventually sailed back to New Orleans.

U.S. naval forces lost two ships, 100 killed and injured, and 350 prisoners. Dowling’s battery was untouched. In a few minutes, Lieutenant Dick Dowling had fought the most brilliant and decisive small action of the Civil War. No Federal effort was ever made in the area again.

The outcome of Sabine Pass raised a great outcry abut [sic] the efficiency of the Navy in the North; coming with Bragg’s victory at Chicamauga. It gave the Union a severe psychological shock. US credit declined abroad; the dollar lost 5 percent of its value against gold.


Joseph L. Clark

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Clark, Joseph L. A History of Texas, Land of Promise. Boston: D.C. Heath and Company, 1939.

The Battle of Sabine Pass and Dick Dowling’s role in the battle are both briefly addressed in Clark’s book.  It is mostly just a presentation of facts though, with little commentary.  The book does not editorialize about how heroic or impressive the Confederate victory was.  Clark does provide facts about how many men Dowling had compared to the Union side though, so it’s pretty clear that Dowling was the underdog in the battle (p. 345).  Clark only spends a few paragraphs total addressing the Civil War in Texas.

Most of the discussion in the book about the Civil War is related to reconstruction and how “radical” Republicans tried to impose their political policies on the South.  Clark clearly has a very negative view of Northern reconstruction policies and Republicans in general.  In fact, at one point, he makes the claim that whites and blacks in Texas would have found a way to get along following the Civil War, but the North interfered by setting up Union Leagues to help former slaves.  According to Clark, the Ku Klux Klan became active in Texas in order to offset the influences of these leagues (p. 349).  The problems between whites and former slaves in Texas are blamed solely on the “meddlesome North” by Clark (p. 350).

Fondren Library only had one edition of A History of Texas, Land of Promise by Joseph L. Clark and it was the first edition.  The book was intended to be used as a textbook because it included a place inside the front cover for pupils to fill in their name from year to year.  It was published in Boston by D.C. Heath and Company, which was a publishing company that specialized in text books.  It was first published in 1939.  At that time, the United States was nearing the end of the Great Depression and Hitler was becoming a growing threat overseas.

According to the first page of the book, Joseph L. Clark was the Director of the Division of Social Science at Sam Houston State Teachers College in Huntsville, Texas at the time the book was published.  In 1969, Sam Houston State Teachers College became Sam Houston State University.  According to the Handbook of Texas, Clark was a long-time history professor and administrator at SHSU beginning in 1910.  There is no mention of any other editor or compiler involved in putting the book together besides Clark.

Transcription from p.345-346 about Dowling and the Battle of Sabine Pass:

On September 8, 1863 Fort Griffin, a small Confederate post near the present city of Port Arthur, was in the line of operations of the northern General Banks.  He sailed from New Orleans to Sabine Pass with 5000 troops, intending to land there and move through Beaumont to Houston and then to the interior of the state.  As the convoys and gunboats approached the fort, fire was opened from the battery under the command of Lieutenant Richard W. Dowling, who had with him at the time forty-seven men of the First Texas Heavy Artillery.  Without losing a man, Dowling captured two gunboats with thirteen cannons, took 350 prisoners, and repulsed the other ships of the squadron.  Those that were not captured eventually returned to New Orleans.

Southern Emancipation

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

In the book: “Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves During the Civil War,” author Bruce Levine attempts to rationalize the attempts made by the upper levels of Confederate government towards emancipation of southern slaves. In late 1864 and early 1864, the south began freeing slaves and arming them to fight against the North.

But why would the south who was fighting to preserve slavery emancipate slaves? Levine answers this question by arguing that it was a necessary action directed at preserving the CSA. Like the Union’s actions towards emancipation the CSA were forced to free slaves to use in the war effort. After crushing defeats in early 1864 the south was desperate for manpower, Levine also asserts that there was growing hostility in the south to the institution of slavery caused by the war. Levine notes the massive numbers of slaves who fled the south for Union lines, as a further point that frustrated southerners. Levine argues that the confederacy’s willingness to emancipate slaves was also partially related to the success of black Union regiments against the confederacy.

One of the shortcomings in the southern emancipation plan was the fact that slaves first had to be released from slavery by there owners, and then they had to voluntarily enlist in the Rebel army. Levine argues that because the slaveholder and the slave both had to agree to emancipation, the movement could never muster enough momentum to prove effective to the CSA war effort. Levine believes that a stronger stance on emancipation by the leaders of the CSA would have provided much needed relief to the Confederate Army, and they would have firmly established the movement towards gradual emancipation of slaves through sharecropping and gradually granted freedoms.

The southern actions never freed slaves in bulk; they could have represented a turning point in Southern Slave culture. The willingness of CSA lawmakers to emancipate slaves signaled a definite end to the institution of southern slavery. With the beginning of 1865 we saw the beginning of an end to slavery in America.

Sarah Jackson

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Sarah Jackson, A Child’s History of Texas (Austin: Eakin Press, 1974). Mary Ann Patterson, illustrator.

Sarah Jackson, A Child’s History of Texas (Austin: Eakin Press, 1999). Scott Arbuckle, illustrator.

As its title makes clear, this book is intended for children. The cartoon illustrations within take up more space than the relatively simplistic text. The book covers the human history of Texas from its earliest inhabitants up to the modern age, and devotes relatively little space to the Civil War. Indeed, while much space is given to the Texas Revolution, the Civil War seems rather glossed-over, forming, at least from this book’s point of view, a small chapter in an illustrious history of Texas. The book focuses much more on early exploration and modern points of pride, such as natural beauty and leading industries. The book, which was published in Austin, seems designed to inform young Texans about their state and foster their pride for it . A Child’s History of Texas was published in two editions, and while the text and content is very similar across them, the presentation is quite different. Therefore, I will describe both of them in turn.

The first edition was published in 1974. The illustrations are simplistic, mere black-and-white outlines, perhaps encouraging its use as a coloring book, although the book itself does not explicitly suggest that use. The illustrations are dispersed unevenly, sometimes appearing below or above a chunk of text, between two chunks of text, on either side, or taking up a whole page with a title or caption offered.

Since the second edition was published in 1999, I hazard a guess that Jackson may have taken it upon herself to seek a new illustrator to revise her work in response the the 150th anniversary of Texas’ statehood (1845-1995). While the text has changed little, this edition is much more organized. No longer could it be used as a coloring book; the illustrations are quite complete already. Each page is presented with a colored illustration at the top, a bit of text below it, and a smaller black-and-white illustration at the bottom. The illustrations are rather cartoonish but not simplistic; I find they supplement the minimal text quite a bit. For instance, while the text on the page titled “Battles in Texas” (transcribed below) gives no mention of the hardship of the war, the illustration below it shows two bedraggled men carrying a fallen comrade on a stretcher to a hospital tent, out of which a doctor leans, shouting “Next!” as if these horrible sights have become commonplace to him. A cannonball flies towards the men even as they carry their comrade to aid. Therefore, I think the illustrator deserves ample credit for cleverness, sometimes even subversiveness, in conveying what the text does not.

The Civil War, as mentioned above, receives relatively little attention in the book. The reasons behind the war are completely neglected, and Texas is explained as having joined the South because of heritage ties. It seems taken for granted that the child reader would already know a bit about the war, or could talk it over with parents or a teacher. Reconstruction is defined as a “period of hardship,” but is not dwelt on beyond this mention. Because they were brief, I went ahead and transcribed the pages having to do with the Civil War. The “Battles in Texas” segment is the only part of the book that mentions Dowling.

The changes I noted between the two editions were mainly editorial, simply changing wording. No significant change in tone or the way the information is presented occurred in the new edition. However, I did note a correction: the first edition claims that “on March 16, 1861, a special convention convened and voted to secede,” while the second edition gives the date as March 5. The first edition gives the number of men in the Davis Guards as 47, while the second edition does not mention the number (perhaps the author did not want to grapple with discrepancies that arise when defining the exact number).


Page 52: Under the text transcribed below is a picture of two soldiers in full uniform, standing at attention with their rifles held before them, staring each other down.


As war clouds gathered over the nation, Texas’ heritage and kinship lay with the South. Texas joined the Union as the 28th state. When she withdrew to join the Confederacy, she was the 7th state to do so.

Governor Sam Houston did not want Texas to leave the Union. On March 16, 1861, a special convention convened and voted to secede. Because he would not sign an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, Houston had to step down as Governor. Edward Clark became Governor in his place.

Page 53: Sam Houston sits at a desk, his pen poised over a document and his hand thoughtfully on his chin, while his wife has her hands on his shoulders, evidently trying to comfort him. The caption reads SAM HOUSTON’S MOMENT OF DECISION. MARCH 16, 1861

Page 54: Beneath the text (transcribed below) is an illustration of cannons lined up, with the silhouette of a cavalryman in the distance.


The Civil War battles fought in Texas were the result of Union efforts to blockade trade and gain control of the seaports.

Galveston was captured in Oct. 1862. Efforts under General John B. Magruder in November succeeded in recapturing the city. Under the leadership of Dick Dowling, 47 men called the Davis Guards turned back 5,000 Union soldiers attempting to attack Beaumont and Houston.

Page 55: This page is an illustration of the Battle of Sabine Pass. On the water, a Union gunboat labeled “U. S. S. Clifton” seems to be spurting an inordinate amount of fire and smoke from its smokestacks. On a hill in the distance, the fort can barely be seen, with two smoking cannons peeking out. Splashes in the water and other explosions indicate the action. The caption reads: BATTLE  OF SABINE PASS. DOWLING’S MEN HELD OFF 5,000 UNION SOLDIERS.

Page 56: This page shows an illustration of a locomotive on railroad tracks in the upper left corner, roughly below the title but above the text. At the bottom is a map of Texas with labels and some illustrations to point out centers of industry such as lumber, cattle, and cotton.


After the surrender of the South in 1865, Texas again found her place as a state in the United States. There was a period of struggle known as Reconstruction. But the state moved steadily toward the economic gains and prosperity that makes Texas a leader in the nation. Much of the regained strength was based on the railroad.


(Note that the radical difference in page numbers is due not to a reduction in text content, but a condensation of illustrations, allowing for a shorter and more tightly-organized package overall.)

Page 35: The colored illustration for this page shows a full-body portrait of a CSA soldier on one side and a Union soldier on the other. Between them is an image of who we can assume to be Sam Houston, who we glimpse through a window, leaning over a writing desk and looking uncertainly at a document (doubtless his “oath of allegiance” which he ultimately refused to sign). Framing him are two flags, acting as curtains: the Union flag on one side, and the Stars and Bars on the other. The black-and-white illustration at the bottom shows people of assorted ages and walks of life lining up in front of a recruitment officer’s desk.

The Civil War

Texas had joined the Union as the twenty-eighth state. As war clouds gathered over the nation in the 1860s, Texas’ heritage and kinship lay with the Southern states. When the state withdrew from the Union to join the Confederacy, Texas was the seventh state to do so.

Sam Houston, at this time serving as governor, did not want Texas to leave the Union. On March 5, 1861, a special convention gathered and voted to secede (or withdraw) from the Union. Because he would not sign an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, Houston had to step down as governor. Edward Clark became governor in his place.

Page 36: The colored illustration shows the Battle of Sabine Pass. We can see into the fort, where men fire cannons or carry things; everyone seems busy. On the river, Union gunboats are firing their own cannons and smoking from being struck. The bottom illustration shows two men carrying a fallen comrade on a stretcher into a doctor’s tent, while a cannonball flies towards them. The doctor leans out and calls “Next!”

Battles in Texas

The Civil War battles fought in Texas were the result of Union efforts to blockade trade and gain control of the seaports.

Galveston was captured in October 1862. Efforts led by Gen. John B. Magruder in November succeeded in recapturing the city. In the Battle of Sabine Pass, under the leadership of Dick Dowling, the Davis Guards turned back 5,000 Union soldiers attempting to attack Beaumont and Houston.

Page 37: The top illustration shows people standing at a train station, admiring an impressive new locomotive. The bottom picture displays men working to build a railroad.

On the Road to Recovery

After the surrender of the South in 1865, Texas again found her place as a state in the United States. There was a period of struggle known as Reconstruction. But the state moved steadily toward prosperity. Texas gradually became a leader in the nation’s economy.

Much of the regained strength of the state’s economy began with the development of the rail-road.

So-called Emancipation

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

“Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves During the Civil War.” To judge a book by its cover, Bruce Levine’s work may seem to offer a vision of the South that Lost Cause supporters, and proponents of the Black Confederates thesis we discussed early in this course, have constructed and tried to keep alive: a South where a close bond existed between master and slave, such as the two would actually fight side-by-side. That the South would craft plans involving “emancipation” at all seems to suggest that they were quite more progressive than we are typically led to believe today. However, reading the book reveals quite the opposite situation. Bruce Levine uses his evidence to tear down rose-tinted Lost Cause idealizations and show that the Confederacy considered turning slaves into freedmen soldiers only as a last-ditch effort to retain power for the planter class; even if slavery had to be sacrificed in part or whole, the government hoped to salvage as much of the South’s social order – that is, the inequality between blacks and whites – as possible.

As Levine notes, many contemporary commentators throughout both the North and South dismissed the idea that the Confederacy might free and arm slaves as madness. After all, was it worth winning the war if it meant giving up the very reason they had gone to war in the first place? Indeed, such a policy makes little sense unless, as Levine argues, it had become a practical necessity. How could policy-makers in the highest echelons of government – including the president and the secretary of state – support a plan that seemed to go against all of their efforts so far? Levine argues that it was not madness which led the government to such radical ideas, but rather, a frank and realistic look at circumstances. Arming slaves, and holding up freedom as an incentive, was the most sensible and far-sighted method they could enact to try and preserve as much of the status quo as could realistically be maintained. “The plan’s architects were inspired not by doubts concerning the merits or justice of slavery and white supremacy, nor by a late-in-the-day decision to prize southern independence more highly than the social and economic foundations of southern life,” argues Levine. “Political and military leaders came to champion the use of black troops not despite their antebellum values but because of them. In pushing to enact this measure, they were trying to preserve as much of the Old South as they could” (153). With Union invasions and slaves fleeing in great numbers or committing various forms of domestic disobedience, realistic Confederates had come to see slavery as doomed, at least in certain areas. Only by winning the war could white Confederates at least retain political and social supremacy, and if blacks became nominally free, they would certainly not be equal. Levine shows that “Both Patrick Cleburne and Jefferson Davis had looked to a salvaged Confederacy to enforce strict limits on prospective postwar black freedom” (158). But the war could not be won without more manpower, for which the Confederate States were desperate. Thus the idea to draw upon slaves as soldiers was born.

Levine uses examples of similar situations in roughly the same time period to show that the situation of Confederate masters, while certainly unique, was not unparalleled in the history of the world. Like the ruling classes in Prussia and Russia, the Confederate government attempted to realistically face social change while still retaining as much of their own power as possible. They did this by trying to adapt the social change to their own needs and define it on their own terms. That is, rather than letting the Union conquer their territory and define freedom for their former slaves, they hoped to win the war, retain their independence, and let the planter-controlled Southern government define such freedom. Such “freedom” as they hoped to eventually enact could hardly be called freedom at all, and therefore such “emancipation” as they promised was hardly a gift. While freedmen would attain rights to receive an education, to organize their own churches, and would never again have to worry about spouses or children being sold away, they would still be subject to crushing inequality and limitations in their economic outlook. Bruce Levine believes that what Confederate states tried to enact as “black codes” shortly after the war provide a glimpse at the kind of “freedom” they would have offered blacks if the Confederacy had won its independence. For instance, this law from Lousiana, which came into being shortly after the war:

A newly enacted state law required Louisiana blacks to obtain “a comfortable home and a visible means of support within twenty days after the passage of this act.” Those who failed to meet that deadline would “be immediately arrested…and hired out” to “the highest bidder, for the remainder of the year in which hired.” Should said freedman leave his employer’s service before the year’s end, he would be apprehended and made “to labor on some public work without compensation until his employer reclaimed him.” Louisiana lawmakers also provided that a freedman’s children be assigned to the same employer and that if a freedman died during his term of employment, his children would remain in the employer’s “service until they are twenty-one years of age, under the same conditions as the father” (160-161).

Fortunately, this law (and many others like it) was blocked and repealed by the Republican government during Reconstruction – just as Southern politicians had feared. The harsh labor statutes of this and similar laws provided for a system that was little more than slavery.

Examining such labor laws is one way to show that Confederate “emancipation” would have been very limited indeed. But the most crucial point is that the Southern government would not have allowed blacks to vote. Therefore, not only were former slaves trapped under such laws; they were powerless to change them. Levine offers a quote which sums up “confederate emancipation” quite nicely:  “When we ‘have a white man’s civil government again,’ South Carolina planter William Heyward expected, the landowners will once more impose their will on black laborers, and the latter ‘will be more slaves than they ever were'” (162).

But how does the Confederate emancipation proposal compare with the Union’s efforts to free and arm slaves? Levine notes that the Confederate plan’s crucial weakness was its lack of spine, its tiptoeing efforts not to upset masters: it stipulated that the slaveholders must agree to give up their slaves to the Confederate cause. However, the government and army soon found masters less than willing; this tight-fistedness prompted outrage throughout the South, but did not change the fact that slaveholders simply were not about to give up their property. The Union’s conscription acts and emancipation proclamation, however, made no scruples to pander to slaveowners. These documents declared property in slaves to be simply lost, without compensation, and needed no permission on behalf of the masters. This enabled these acts to be highly efficient, in contrast to the Confederate counterpart, which never took off, and did not seem like it was about to unless altered, no matter how much time it was given to act.

The Map Project

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Hello Map Group! We’ve reached that part of the course where it’s time to start working on your small group projects for the Dick Dowling archive. In this post I’m going to talk a little bit about the project you’ve been assigned–making a map related to Dowling’s statue and memory. Please take time to read this post carefully so that you can begin to talk amongst yourselves about what you plan to do.

As you’ve probably already discovered in the course of your own research, or have learned from reading about other students’ findings, Dowling has left his mark on Houston’s city landscape in a variety of locations over the years. First, there are locations in the city associated with his life, like the sites of his bars. Then, of course, there are the places where the statue that now sits in Hermann Park used to reside. There are also places where the planners of the statue originally wanted to put it (see DD0019). Moreover, besides the statue, there are other markers to Dowling elsewhere in the city, like St. Vincent’s Cemetery (see DD0010), and outside the city, like the statue at Sabine Pass. There are also various places named after Dowling or in his honor, including a middle school named after him and two streets–Dowling Street and Tuam Street–downtown.

Your job will be to use GIS mapping software to make a map that will help visitors to the Dowling archive site understand Dowling’s place in the city (literally). That may sound to you as simple as dropping some flags on a Google Map, but you should think of the project as having two broader–and more complicated–dimensions, one technical and one interpretive.

The Technical Dimension

To make your map, you must use the ArcGIS software available at the Rice GIS/Data center in Fondren Library. This powerful mapping software is the same software used to make maps like this one, which shows detailed information about all the trees on the Rice University campus.

This software comes with several capabilities that could be useful to you for your project: (a) the ability to mark locations on a map and then include a pop-up with information, like a description of the location, links to images of the site, and so on; (b) the ability to create time-series animations to show, for example, the movement of a site over time; (c) the ability to “layer” historical maps on top of other maps, in a way similar to the layering of this historic map of nineteenth-century Richmond’s slave market over a Google Earth map of present-day Richmond; (d) the ability to display demographic data from the census from different moments in history; and much, much more!

Using ArcGIS software will probably bring with it a significant learning curve for you, but have no fear–the wonderful staff at the GIS/Data Center in Fondren are equipped to help you. They will be able to show you the ropes, answer your questions, and help you whip the software into shape. One of the first things you should do as a group is make an appointment when all of you can meet with either Kim Ricker or Jean Niswonger in the GIS/Data Center and talk about the project. They are expecting you.

In addition to using ArcGIS software (with the help of Fondren staff), you may encounter other technical dimensions to this project. For example, in order to “pin” locations on the map, you will need specific GIS location data. To obtain that you may need to go to some sites in the city that you want to place on your map and use a mobile device to get that data. You may discover other tasks depending on the kind of information you decide to associate with the map. For example, if you want to put images of the various sites on your map, some of those images may already be available in our class database of scans. If you decided that photographs would help you, you might decide that it makes sense to obtain new photos of the sites, in which case you might talk to staff in the Digital Media Center about renting camera.

You may also wish to decide on a way to keep in touch with each other as you plan various stages of your project. For example, you could use Writeboard or Google Docs to keep track of tasks that need to be done and note when they’ve been achieved.

The Content Dimension

The technical aspects of this project will determine what can be done on you map. But you may find that the more difficult decisions concern what you should put on the map.

You’ll need to decide, for instance, what sites you want to include on your map. Any site relevant to Dowling? Some of them? All of them, with the ability to alternately hide and show some of them? Are there sites (like the places where the statue was put in storage) whose specific locations you’ll have to do research to locate?

Moreover, you’ll need to think about what the larger purpose is for your map. Is your map just so that viewers will have addresses and driving directions to Dowling sites? If that’s the case, it would be just as easy for them to enter addresses into Google Maps or use GPS in their car. By using ArcGIS, you have the opportunity to give the viewer more than just that basic map of where things are–you also have the opportunity to help the viewer interpret Dowling’s memory and its place in the city by making decisions about what else to include on the map.

For example, would it be important for a viewer of the map to know the racial makeup of the neighborhood where Dowling Middle School is located today, compared to when the school was named? Would it help to know where Irish Catholics tended to settle, and to visualize that on the map in relation to places where Dowling hung out or is commemorated today? If you mark Dowling and Tuam street, should Emancipation Park be marked and explained as well? Given that the statue was once very near another statue to the Confederacy (as Mercy explained in her lecture), should that statue be included as well? How can you communicate to the viewer the vast difference between the statue’s first location in front of City Hall and its current resting place, which one supporter of Dowling’s complained was “some obscure corner” of the city? Should you attempt to represent changes in the map of Houston over time? What information do you want the viewer to be able to get to easily when they click on any location you put on the map?

Ultimately, these are the sorts of questions that you can only answer by deciding what point or points you want the viewer to take away from the map. Only be having a clear point in mind will you be able to make your map meaningful and keep it from just being a jumble of locations.

What Next?

It could be that not everything you would like to do with your map will be feasible within the time frame you have to work on this project. That introduces another level of choices you will have to make about what to prioritize, what your main objectives are, and how you will pool your collective skills and divide the labor among you. For now, think broadly about what–in an ideal world–your map would be able to do. Begin to talk with each other and make that appointment to meet with the GIS/Data Center.

By the time that Blog Post #9 is due next Thursday, you should have done at least enough groundwork and discussion on this project to be able to give a progress report and share ideas you have for the map. The following week, you will meet with me to draft a contract for your project. That meeting won’t be useful to you, however, if you’ve done no thinking or learning about the project before then.

So you should think of these as your next two steps and strive to complete them sometime in the next two weeks: (a) meet with the GIS/Data Center staff to get a quick feel for ArcGIS and its capabilities; (b) talk with each other about the project, paying special attention to sharing information about particular skills and interests you have; (c) begin to discuss with each other what the objective of your map will be, since so many of your decisions will hinge on that.

And as always, if you have questions, let me know!

The case for forced Confederate Emancipation.

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Prior to reading Bruce Levine’s book, Confederate Emancipation, (Oxford U Press, 2006), I was unaware of any efforts of Confederate attempts to enlist slaves into their armies in the exchange for freedom.  Our previous discussion on the rebuttal of claims for Black Confederates, had primed my perspective to believe that voluntary Confederate emancipation was ludicrous.  However, the arguments put forth in Levine’s novel were sufficiently strong and (most importantly to my skepticism) ranged across multiple factions of approach to the influencers of history to provide a rather complete answer to what caused the Confederate government to begin arming and emancipating male slaves in 1864/1865.

As we had previously discussed in class, a maximal answer to a causal question has to tackle why and when Confederate Emancipation occurred and how it was enacted. Levine’s answer to the question “why did Confederates who began the war to defend slavery voluntarily act to abolish it?” is both simple and nuanced. His immediate answer is that military necessity as the war dragged on forced southern politicians and generals to accept the proposal to arm slaves – their last untapped source for desperately needed manpower.  Levine was particularly forceful in cementing the link between the war’s outcome with the increase in cries for slave armament in citing the famous ‘Culloden Letter’. The letter written by Gen. Hindman of the Army of Tennessee asked “Cannot [the slaves] afford their quota of soldiers?” (pg. 26) in direct response to the disastrous defeat of his army at Chattanooga one month earlier by a Union force that almost doubled his manpower. He also points to the outburst in pro- slave-soldier sentiment in Georgia after Sherman’s invasion in 1864.

However, up until 1864, proponents of arming the slaves do not mention emancipation. Levine explains the introduction of the idea of emancipation alongside arming slaves as a result of slave desertions in the early years of the war. In the footsteps of Ira Berlin and Steven Hahn, Levine argues that the slave flight to Union lines not only prompted the Emancipation Proclamation but Confederate Emancipation as well. He reasons that the Union use of black soldiers in battles like Port Hudson and Milliken’s bend dispelled the belief that African-Americans would be hindrances and poor soldiers. Most importantly, he says that massive slave defections had convinced many southerners that slavery was dead and that the call to “salvage southern independence at slavery’s expense” was most important.  Because slaves after 1863 could expect freedom at Union lines, he quotes Robert E Lee as writing that the idea of gradual and general emancipation “the best means for securing the efficiency and fidelity of this [slave] auxiliary force”. (pg 36)   Thus, it could be boiled down into the fact that southerners were merely reacting to Northern military victories and slave defection when they decided to begin arming and emancipating slaves.

The “when” of Confederate Emancipation is less-directly addressed in the book. However, it is indirectly addressed in its converse form of “why did it fail”? In answering this question, Levine argues that emancipation failed because it was enacted too late to be implemented in the war effort.  The ideas of emancipation ran against very strong opposition politically. JT Leach, Congressman from North Carolina, wrote that emancipation was “an insult to our brave soldiers” (40). Socially, blacks in the Army “abdicated whites’ proper, divinely ordained control over black life.” (51) Thus, until it was absolute military necessity (which it wasn’t until after the fall of Vicksburg and Gettysburg in June 1863), emancipation would have zero chance of implementation. While Levine states no direct cause, it was eventually military necessity in 1864 and the needs for a means of assuring fidelity in the face of massive slave defection post-1863 that determined when Emancipation could get political support.

Finally, the “how”.  Throughout the book, Levine returns continuously to his thesis that Confederate Emancipation was precipitated by the need to arm slaves to fight in the CSA armies. The “how” is the least clear of the causal questions. He begins by refuting arguments that important figures in the Confederate cause had stopped seeing the war as a defense of the “peculiar institution”. He shows that even in 1865, figures like Robert Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Gen. Cleburne still belonged in the pro-slavery ideological camp. In contrast, he reiterates constantly that they believed that military necessity mandated slaves’ involvement in the war and the freedom would be the only carrot with which to entice them.  Levine compares how Confederates planned to emancipate slaves with Prussian and Russian serf emancipation (30 and 3 years before, respectively) – by manumitting voluntarily so “they could specify the conditions on which freedom is granted and make statues for the regulation of labor” (pg 122). Ultimately by giving freedom but not rights to property, slaves could be held in pseudo-bondage as sharecroppers.  This resonated with politicians who did not wish to upset the traditional hierarchy.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed reasoning through Levine’s argument for the reasons for Confederate emancipation. In particular, his explanation of why emancipation was seen as a necessity was his strongest argument. The south was in dire need of soldiers, which slaves could become provided they were given freedom to assure their fidelity.  By Levine’s logic, had the Union not gone through with the Emancipation Proclamation, this carrot would not have been needed and Confederate emancipation would not have occurred.  His argument for when emancipation was finally approved (because it had been proposed as early as 1861) rested firmly on his case that military necessity after 1863 forced the issue of black soldiers. Overall, the arguments were firm and really tied into our past discussions – particularly the parallels between Northern and Southern Emancipation.

Confederate “Emancipation”

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Although the book by Bruce Levine is titled “Confederate Emancipation,” emancipation is not what Confederate leaders had in mind when they began considering proposals to arm slaves to fight for the Confederacy.  The Southern proponents of “emancipation” like Cleburne, Benjamin, Lee, and Davis, did not actually envision giving blacks true freedom if they fought for the Confederacy.  Rather, as Levine points out: “Blacks would no longer be slaves, but they would be free only in the narrowest possible sense of that word.”  Slaves would stop being personal property and would gain the rights to marry and own property, but they would still lack the right to vote or hold office (Levine 154).  This cannot be construed as true emancipation.  In fact, it was nothing more than attempt by the crumbling Confederacy to salvage what could still be saved.  The hope was that arming slaves might solve the Confederate Army’s manpower shortage and then, if they survived the war, former slaves would’ve had no property or ability to escape a life working for white landowners in conditions similar to slavery (Levine 159).

Confederate notions of emancipation were very different than those outlined in the Emancipation Proclamation and other Union policies.  Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately free any slaves, as Union troops advanced or escaped slaves reached Union lines, they were freed permanently (Levine 118).  Additionally, slaves were never required to serve in the Union army.  The Emancipation Proclamation and the second Confiscation Act suggested the use of contraband slaves in the Union Army, but their service was voluntary, not a mandatory condition for emancipation.  In contrast, Confederate proposals for “emancipation” required slaves to obtain permission from their masters and then risk their lives serving in the Confederate army.  The power of emancipating slaves was still up to individual slave owners (Levine 120).  Essentially, most of the Confederate proposals were toothless because it was still necessary to gain slave-owners’ cooperation.  Gaining the compliance of slave-owners was a difficult task and the Confederate government was unwilling or unable to make any of their emancipation plans mandatory (Levine 157).

Basically, Confederate “emancipation” was a desperate plan by the South to win a war they were losing and still maintain an amount of control over Southern blacks.  The plan failed for a number of reasons, including slave-owners adamant refusal to let go of slavery even in the face of Confederate defeat.

I thought this book was really interesting.  I had never read anything about Confederate proposals to “emancipate” the slaves.  I was initially a little shocked that the proposals occurred since slavery was so central to the South’s secession, but Levine did a good job of illuminating the true motivation behind Confederate “emancipation” proposals and explaining how they weren’t really emancipation proposals at all.