Civil War Artillery Goggles

Civil War Artillery Goggles

c. 1860s Civil War Era, Artillery Soldier’s Screen-Side Glasses with Case, Choice Very Fine.

These goggles are made of colored lenses situated within wire mesh frames designed to protect the wearer’s eyes from any debris, fragments, or other foreign objects from flying into their eyes. Contained in a small metal case, this eyewear could prove to be invaluable on the battlefield or even in various types of civilian employment after the war itself.

Very scarce fully intact Civil War era Artillery Soldier’s screen-side glasses, about 5″ total width with 8″ cord straps. Complete with original Japanned tin case, 3.25″ x 1.5″. These were worn to protect the eyes from debris while firing a cannon. Blue glass lenses still intact and great condition. Rare and hard to find, especially in this condition. A useful, collectible Civil War display piece.

Pictures:


WallBuilders Artifacts
WallBuilders Artifacts
WallBuilders Artifacts

Related Artifacts:

Ketchum Grenade Civil War Hand Grenade Click Here

Amputation Saw Civil War Medical Implement Click Here

John Clem Collection12 Year Old Civil War Hero Click Here

Videos:

The mushroom clouds from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs.

Dutch Van Kirk Signed Photograph

Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk (1924-2014) was the navigator on the Enola Gay when it dropped the atomic bomb “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II on August 6, 1945. As navigator, Van Kirk was responsible for guiding the plane to its target destination and confirming where exactly to drop the bomb. As the last surviving member of the crew, Dutch Van Kirk often spoke about the reasons behind employing the atomic bomb and how it led to the end of World War II. In the WallBuilders collection we have a picture of the destruction at Hiroshima inscribed by Dutch Van Kirk with the following statement:

Most people do not recall why we dropped the atomic bombs. It was forgotten after 64 years only remembering the large casualties they caused. We dropped the bombs to end the war and stop the killing by destroying military and military support facilities defending against an invasion. Earlier we dropped millions of leaflets which were largely ignored.

The leaflets Van Kirk refers to warned the Japanese citizens of the impending bombs and advised them to evacuate the cities targeted beforehand. (You can see some and read their translations at WallBuilders.)

Below is an picture of Van Kirk’s message:

What Does the Flag Mean?

U.S.C.T. and the Symbolism of the Flag in the Civil War

The flag of the United States of America is the perennial symbol of the nation, but its meaning is constantly under debate. Recently, several major media incidents have questioned the true value of the Stars and Stripes—specifically whether the flag symbolizes racism or freedom.[1] Certain high-profile activists and revisionists claim that since the American flag flew over the nation while slavery remained active, it still condones racism today.

Such a perspective, interestingly, is not entirely unheard of in our nation’s past. Several years before the Civil War, great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass (himself an escaped slave) summarized the sentiments of black Americans towards the federal banner at that time, saying:

“While slavery exists, and the union of these states endures, every American citizen must bear the chagrin of hearing his country branded before the world as a nation of liars and hypocrites; and behold his cherished national flag pointed at with the utmost scorn and derision.”[2]

As long as slavery was permitted and protected by the Union flag Douglass carried an attitude similar to those of recent critics. However, Douglass’s statement is conditional upon the existence of slavery, thereby suggesting that abolition would elevate the symbolic nature of the flag and improve its reception by black Americans.

History reveals that Douglass was correct. Throughout the Civil War the men of the United States Colored Troops and those closely associated with the fight for freedom began to see the national flag in a different and positive light. Their patriotism and sacrifice redeemed the meaning of the flag, changing its reception in the black community from a symbol of slavery to one of liberty.

20th Regiment Receiving Flag

The journey of the flag and the black community during the Civil War largely began once black units were formed after the military opened its ranks to all people. Following custom, the Colored Troops, like many white units, received both a regimental and national flag, often from their local town, before going off to war.

For example, when the 20th US Colored Regiment was sent out of their native New York, Charles King, the son of Founding Father Rufus King, bestowed, “the flag of the Union and of Liberty to the first regiment of colored troops that has marched from this city to defend both.”[3] One paper considered the scene so important that an engraving was made, saying that, “no scene of the war has been more striking or significant.…[as] the flag of the country waved over them in benediction.”[4]

In his speech, Charles King imbued the national flag with a special meaning before passing it into the protection of its freshly “sworn defenders and guardians.”[5] King relates the flag’s significance to that of their shared faith, explaining that:

“The religion to the flag is second only to the religion of the altar.…Hence he who is false to his flag is false to his altar and his God.”[6]

To imply a spiritual significance to the defense of the flag most certainly would have affected the listeners. He went on to explain that by joining the military and risking their lives for those still bound by slavery, they not only elevate the flag but themselves also. Declaring that:

“When you put on the uniform and swear allegiance to the standard of the Union, you stand emancipated, regenerated, and disenthralled—the peer of the proudest soldier in the land.”[7]

The speech received a warm reception by both the citizens in attendance and the soldiers of the 20th Colored Regiment. The officer in charge received the flag saying:

“This beautiful banner symbolizes our country. It is this that makes death glorious beneath its starry folds—it is this that rouses the feelings of outraged honor when we see it trailed in the dust. How base and how dead to all sense of honor, must that wretch be whose brow burns not with shame and rage at the dishonor of the flag of his country.”[8]

20th Regiment on Parade

Furthermore, in the lunch and procession following the presentation the soldiers of the 20th praised the speeches of Charles King and Col. Bartram, reflecting on how, “that flag is a big thing, boys.”[9] The men were beginning to see the Union flag not as the banner which had allowed slavery and oppression, but rather as the standard by which they could personally advance freedom’s cause.

The 20th were far from the only black soldiers to recognize the symbolic significance of receiving the national flag. For example, the 29th Regiment out of Connecticut enjoyed a bestowal ceremony, where, “to the surprise of the regiment we were presented with the United States national colors, which greatly pleased the boys.”[10] The 1st African Descent Regiment from Iowa were also presented with “a beautiful silk national flag” by the women of their state, “which was carried through the storms of battle, and returned at the close of the war to the State.”[11]

Most notably, however, the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Regiment (later the 33rd Colored) revealed their elevated affection to the national flag on many occasions. One evening a month before the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, several men from the 1st began to give speeches to encourage the troops. Their commanding officer, Col. Thomas Higginson (a pastor and abolitionist) recorded the speech of Corporal Prince Lambkin, who was, “one of our color-guard, and one of our ablest men.”[12] Lambkin told his fellow slaves-turned-soldiers:

“Our masters they have lived under the flag, they got their wealth under it, and everything beautiful for their children. Under it they have ground us up, and put us in their pocket for money. But the first minute they think that ol’ flag meant freedom for we colored people, they pulled it right down, and run up a rag of their own. [Immense applause.] But we’ll never desert they ol’ flag, boys, never; we have lived under it for eighteen hundred sixty-two years [sic], and we’ll die for it now.”[13]

1st South Carolina Flag Ceremony

The speech was remembered by the Colonel as, “one of the few really impressive appeals for the American flag that I ever heard.” Less than a month after Lambkin’s speech, the 1st South Carolina were presented the national flag on the day, “Lincoln’s immortal proclamation of freedom was given to the world.”[14] Col. Higginson explained that after receiving the large silk flag:

“Then followed an incident so simple, so touching, so utterly unexpected and startling, that I can scarcely believe it on recalling, though it gave the keynote to the whole day. The very moment the speaker had ceased, and just as I took and waved the flag, which now for the first time meant anything to these poor people, there suddenly arose, close beside the platform, a strong male voice (but rather cracked and elderly), into which two women’s voices instantly blended, singing, as if by an impulse that could no more be repressed than the morning note of the song-sparrow: “My Country, ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing!”

People looked at each other, and then at us on the platform to see whence came this interruption, not set down in the bills. Firmly and irrepressibly the quavering voices sang on, verse after verse; others of the colored people joined in; some whites on the platform began, but I motioned them to silence. I never saw anything so electric; it made all other words cheap; it seemed the choked voice of a race at last unloosed. Nothing could be more wonderfully unconscious; art could not have dreamed of a tribute to the day of jubilee that should be so affecting; history will not believe it; and when I came to speak of it, after it was ended, tears were everywhere. If you could have heard how quaint and innocent it was!

Just think of it! The first day they had ever had a country, the first flag they had ever seen which promised anything to their people, and here, while mere spectators stood in silence, waiting for my stupid words, these simple souls burst out in their lay, as if they were by their own hearths at home! When they stopped there was nothing to do for it but to speak, and I went on; but the life of the whole day was in those unknown people’s song.”[15]

The men of the 1st South Carolina bravely bore those flags throughout the war and, after victory, recalled with pride that, “it has never been disgraced by a cowardly faltering in the hour of danger, or polluted by a traitor’s touch.”[16] The success of the black divisions was measured, both by themselves and others, by their steadfast protection of the national flag through unflinching heroism and endless courage.

Nothing displays this more clearly than the numerous moments of bravery by black soldiers protecting the flag. No less than seven African Americans received the Medal of Honor for valiantly defending the national flag in battle.[17] The most famous example remains that of Sgt. William Carney who, though wounded twice, led the Massachusetts 54th through the Battle of Fort Wagner despite the overwhelmingly desperate situation.[18]

Christian Fleetwood

Additionally, several men at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm received the Medal of Honor for not allowing the colors to touch the ground. Sgt. Alfred B. Hilton took up both the flag and the regimental standard once the original color bearers were shot. Thereafter, when Hilton himself was severely wounded, Sgt. Christian Fleetwood caught the national flag before it fell to the ground, and carried it through the rest of the fight—with General Butler himself allegedly witnessing their bravery.[19]

Such noble actions, however, were far from rare in the black units. At the Battle of the Crater the 43rd Colored Regiment gave ample proof of this for, “as each brave color bearer was shot down, another and another would immediately grasp the National emblem, all riddled with balls and plant it further on the enem[y’s] line,” until the flag was, “almost entirely cut up by the fire, and the Color Staffs splintered and broken.”[20] The list of heroic deeds in defense of the flag extends well beyond the few stories mentioned above, a fact which led USCT veteran and Civil War historian George Washington Williams to rejoice that, “the one flag of a great nation will float as the sovereign symbol of a free and united people.”[21]

The officers of these units particularly were struck by the devotion black troops showed to the flag under which so much oppression had been so recently practiced. For example, Lieutenant Joseph G. Golding of the 6th Colored Infantry recalled that his men bravely fought and nobly sacrificed, “to the utmost, even to the laying down of their lives for us, for the flag, [and] for the perpetuation of the grandest nationality the sun shines upon.”[22] That unit specifically suffered a 57% casualty rate throughout the War. Similarly, when the 33rd USCT mustered out at the end of the war, their commanding officer, Lt. Col. Trowbridge, explained in his final order that as a result of their efforts:

“Millions of bondsmen have been emancipated, and the fundamental law of the land has been so altered as to remove forever the possibility of human slavery being established within the borders of redeemed America. The flag our fathers, restored to its rightful significance.”[23]

Trowbridge explicitly applauds the USCT for helping to redeem the national symbol, elevating it finally to the standard which the Founding Fathers had envisioned.

Fort Pillow Massacre

A natural result following the tireless devotion of the soldiers to the flag was that the nation as a whole also began to judge the flag by the way the government pursued liberating the slave population and the treatment of the African American soldiers. A major issue surrounded the revelation that Confederates would mistreat, brutalize, and kill the black troops if they were captured through the course of the war. One officer remarked that, “they fought with ropes round their necks,” because for them it was either victory or death.[24]

In response to the tragedy of Fort Pillow and the growing evidence that black prisoners were systematically treated horribly, an article in Harper’s Weekly demanded retaliation on the honor of the national flag. The author concluded that:

“After due delay, if the Government should find that the natural suspicion of foul play is correct, then if its retaliation is not swift, sure, and deadly, if the rebels are not taught, as by fire, that every man who fights beneath the national flag is equally protected by the people whose sovereignty that flag symbolizes, we are simply unworthy of success.”[25]

Through the course of the Civil War the status of the flag and the meaning it carried directly corresponded to the issue of abolition and equal rights.

After the war, the black men who fought under the American flag and were freed by that banner reflected this redeemed symbolism through both word and deed. Significantly in the years immediately following, many of the newly elected black congressmen pointed to the brave service of the USCT and their valiant defense of the national flag as evidence of their patriotism and rights.

One of the first to do so was Representative Richard Harvey Cain. A prominent pastor as well as one of the first African Americans elected to national office, Cain explained in a speech supporting increased civil rights that he had hoped to fight in the War due to his desire to, “vindicate the Stars and Stripes.”[26]

For the redemption of the flag, Cain, and thousands like him, sought to serve under that standard in order to effect such a change. Speaking on behalf of the black community which elected him, Cain explained:

“We propose to identify ourselves with this nation….We will take the eagle as the emblem of liberty; we will take that honored flag which has been borne through the heat of a thousand battles.[27]

Now, after the Civil War, the national flag finally stands as a suitable symbol for his constituents. Cain suggests that the Star-Spangled Banner rightfully encompasses both black and white, concluding that:

“Under its folds Anglo-Saxon and Africo-American can together work out a common destiny, until universal liberty…shall be known throughout the world.”[28]

John Roy Lynch

In the following session of Congress, another black Representative—John Roy Lynch—confirmed Cain’s sentiments through his defense of the Civil Rights Act of 1875. Born into slavery and freed only through the Emancipation Proclamation, Lynch’s perspective on the flag carries significant weight as he was once enslaved under its authority, then freed by it. In an eloquent expression Lynch proclaimed:

“I love the land that gave me birth; I love the Stars and Stripes. This country is where I intend to live, where I expect to die. To preserve the honor of the national flag and to maintain perpetually the Union of the States hundreds, and I may say thousands, of brave, and true-hearted colored men have fought, bled, and died. And now, Mr. Speaker, I ask, can it be possible that that flag under which they fought is to be a shield and a protection to all races and classes of persons except the colored race? God forbid!”[29]

Such a sentiment poignantly reflects the increasing veneration and regard for the national flag due to the results of the Civil War. Lynch had been born into slavery under the national standard, then liberated by those fighting for it, and now is himself defending the newfound meaning of the flag through the very institution of Congress which once had so powerfully operated against him.

Similarly, the continued importance of the aforementioned Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Christian Fleetwood in the national black society gives valuable insight into how drastically the communal reception of the flag had changed on account of the war. Fleetwood’s bravery brought him public recognition to such a degree that he was, “known from one end of the Country to the other.”[30]

Settling into the Washington DC area once peace had been achieved, he capitalized on his influential standing and used his fame to train the next generation of black Americans to see the nation and flag the way he did. In addition to advocating for the role of African Americans in the military, he even formed and trained a black cadet corps. Fleetwood’s effort eventually led to the formation of the first black National Guard unit—paving the way for later units.[31]

Freedom to the Slave Broadside

However, perhaps Frederick Douglass, with whom we began, most resoundingly displayed how the actions of the USCT and the end of slavery redeemed the symbolism of the national flag and its reception by black Americans. Once abolition became an official war goal, Douglass began, in his own words, “to persuade every colored man able to bear arms to rally around the flag, and help save the country and save the race.”[32]

After victory and the successful emancipation of all slaves, the famed orator relates a story of sailing on the USS Tennessee specifically noting that for the first time he could rejoice to finally live, “under the national flag, which I could now call mine, in common with other American citizens.”[33]

In a later speech, Douglass ventures even further and announces that that the national flag truly is, “a glorious symbol of civil and religious liberty, leading the world in the race of social science, civilization, and renown.”[34] Douglass, like many others, realized that the American flag of 1865 was radically different than the one of 1855—its destiny proved one not of derision, as first believed, but rather of deliverance.

Ultimately, the brave sacrifices from the United States Colored Troops, and those who stood alongside them, successfully redeemed the symbolism of the Stars and Stripes—purging from its folds any sanction of slavery. America could now march into the next era under a unified flag fulfilling the promise of the Founding Fathers that all men were created equal.

Furthermore, the reception of national standard in the black community was revolutionized. Leaders like Douglass, Fleetwood, Lynch, and Cain all rallied to the flag instead of railing against it. After generations of steadfast resolve and four years of unimaginable courage, the entire nation—black and white—could join with the men of the 20th and confidently say: “that flag is a big thing.”[35]


Endnotes

[1] Cf. Julie Spankles, “Chris Pratt Is in Hot Water for This Controversial T-Shirt & the Internet Has Thoughts,” Yahoo Lifestyle, July 17, 2019, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/chris-pratt-hot-water-controversial-184007706.html (accessed February 19, 2020); Bill Chappell, “Nike Pulls Shoes Featuring Betsy Ross Flag Over Concerns About Racist Symbolism,” National Public Radio, July 2, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/07/02/737977542/nike-pulls-shoes-featuring-betsy-ross-flag-over-concerns-about-racist-symbolism (accessed February 19, 2020).

[2] Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (New York: Miller, Orton, and Mulligan, 1855), 438.

[3] “The Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment,” Harper’s Weekly, March 19, 1864, 178.

[4] “The Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment,” Harper’s Weekly, March 19, 1864, 178.

[5] “Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment—Reception by the Union League—Speeches of Charles King and Colonel Bartram—Departure for the Seat of the War.” First Organization of Colored Troops in the State of New York, To Aid in Suppressing the Slaveholders’ Rebellion (New York: Baker and Goodwin, 1864), 16.

[6] “Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment—Reception by the Union League—Speeches of Charles King and Colonel Bartram—Departure for the Seat of the War.” First Organization of Colored Troops in the State of New York, To Aid in Suppressing the Slaveholders’ Rebellion (New York: Baker and Goodwin, 1864), 16.

[7] “Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment—Reception by the Union League—Speeches of Charles King and Colonel Bartram—Departure for the Seat of the War.” First Organization of Colored Troops in the State of New York, To Aid in Suppressing the Slaveholders’ Rebellion (New York: Baker and Goodwin, 1864), 17.

[8] “Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment—Reception by the Union League—Speeches of Charles King and Colonel Bartram—Departure for the Seat of the War.” First Organization of Colored Troops in the State of New York, To Aid in Suppressing the Slaveholders’ Rebellion (New York: Baker and Goodwin, 1864), 18.

[9] “Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment—Reception by the Union League—Speeches of Charles King and Colonel Bartram—Departure for the Seat of the War.” First Organization of Colored Troops in the State of New York, To Aid in Suppressing the Slaveholders’ Rebellion (New York: Baker and Goodwin, 1864), 19.

[10] J. J. Hill, A Sketch of the 29th Regiment of Connecticut Colored Troops (Baltimore: Daugherty, Maguire, and Co., 1867), 21-22.

[11] Joseph Wilson, The Black Phalanx: A History of the Negro Soldiers of the United States (Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1897), 223, here.

[12] Thomas Higginson, The Writings of Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1900), 3.149, here.

[13] Thomas Higginson, The Writings of Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1900), 3.31, here. Higginson records the speech in the original spoken dialect, but the spelling has been updated above.

[14] Susie King Taylor, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S. C. Volunteers (Boston: Susie King Taylor, 1902), 48-49.

[15] Thomas Higginson, The Writings of Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1900), 3.54-56, here.

[16] Susie King Taylor, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S. C. Volunteers (Boston: Susie King Taylor, 1902), 48-49.

[17] Cf., “Who Were These Heroes?” Negro History Bulletin 23, no. 3 (1959): 50-70.

[18] George Washington Williams, A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1888), 199-202.

[19] Walter Beyer, and Oscar Keydel, Deeds of Valor: How America’s Heroes Won the Medal of Honor (Michigan: The Perrien Keydel Company, 1901), 434-435; James Clifford, “Christian Fleetwood.” On Point 13, no. 3 (2007): 21-24.

[20] Jeremiah Marion Mickley, The Forty-Third Regiment United States Colored Troops (Gettysburg: J. E. Wible, 1866), 74-75.

[21] George Washington Williams, A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1888), 199-202, 236-237, 326, 333, 336-337.

[22] Candice Zollars, “6th U.S. Colored Infantry: They Laid Down Their Lives for the Flag,” Military Images 33, No. 3 (2015): 28.

[23] Susie King Taylor, Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S. C. Volunteers (Boston: Susie King Taylor, 1902), 48.

[24] Thomas Higginson, The Writings of Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1900), 3.337-338, here.

[25] “Treatment of Captured Colored Soldiers,” Harper’s Weekly, August 15, 1863, 515.

[26] The Congressional Record Containing the Proceedings and Debates of the Forty-Third Congress, First Session (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1874), 2.566.

[27] The Congressional Record Containing the Proceedings and Debates of the Forty-Third Congress, First Session (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1874), 2.903.

[28] The Congressional Record Containing the Proceedings and Debates of the Forty-Third Congress, First Session (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1874), 2.903.

[29] The Congressional Record Containing the Proceedings and Debates of the Forty-Third Congress, Second Session (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1875), 3.945.

[30] Roger D. Cunningham, “‘His Influence with the Colored People Is Marked:’ Christian Fleetwood’s Quest for Command in the War with Spain and Its Aftermath.” Army History, no. 51 (2001): 23.

[31] James Clifford, “Christian Fleetwood.” On Point 13, no. 3 (2007): 21-24.

[32] Frederick Douglass, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass Written by Himself (Hartford: Park Publishing Company, 1882), 382.

[33] Frederick Douglass, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass Written by Himself (Hartford: Park Publishing Company, 1882), 456.

[34] Frederick Douglass, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass Written by Himself (Hartford: Park Publishing Company, 1882), 471.

[35] “Twentieth U.S. Colored Regiment—Reception by the Union League—Speeches of Charles King and Colonel Bartram—Departure for the Seat of the War.” First Organization of Colored Troops in the State of New York, To Aid in Suppressing the Slaveholders’ Rebellion (New York: Baker and Goodwin, 1864), 19.

Celebrating America’s Military

Armed Forces Day — a day set aside to honor all those who are either currently serving or have served in all branches of our nation’s Armed Forces – occurs on the third Saturday of May.

In 1947 America’s military was combined under the Department of Defense. Two years later, the Secretary of Defense created Armed Forces Day to replace the separate celebrations of each military branch. The first celebration was held in 1950 and included parades in Washington DC, Berlin, and New York City. For this day, President Truman urged all Americans to:

display the flag of the United States at their homes…and to participate in exercises expressive of our recognition of the skill, gallantry, and uncompromising devotion to duty characteristic of the Armed Forces in the carrying out of their missions.

Other presidents and government officials since 1950 have issued proclamations and given speeches to celebrate Armed Forces Day, including General Dwight Eisenhower who reminded the nation:

It is fitting and proper that we devote one day each year to paying special tribute to those whose constancy and courage constitute one of the bulwarks guarding the freedom of this nation and the peace of the free world.

Armed Forces Day was set as the third Saturday of the month of May in 1961 with President Kennedy’s proclamation that encouraged Americans “as an expression of support for their armed forces and as a symbol of their unity in devotion to the preservation of our country, to display prominently the flag of the United States.”

For this special celebration day, you can show your support for our military by flying the US flag, thanking a military member you know, and sending messages of support to those serving.

Ten Facts About George Washington

From the $1 Bill to the capital of America, George Washington’s name appears more often than probably any other name in American history. Being the most prominent Founding Father, everyone learns how Washington led the Continental Army against the British during the War for Independence and eventually became the first President of the United States. But there are plenty of stories and facts that are rarely taught in schools today. Watch the video and then read below about ten facts you probably do not know about George Washington.

1. George Washington did not chop down a cherry tree.

“I cannot tell a lie,” a young George Washington is reported to have said—but his biographers sure can! The famous story originates from the 5th edition of the popular biography The Life of Washington the Great by Mason Weems.1 Published in 1806, seven years after Washington’s death, there are no primary sources attesting to its truthfulness. All things considered, its late appearance and the complete lack of evidence has led most to consider it apocryphal.

2. He was most embarrassed about his lack of education and his bad teeth.

The most persistent enemy to Washington were not his political or military opponents, but his teeth. By the time he was sworn in as the first President of the United States he only had a single original tooth left.2 Over the course of his life he had a number of dentures made from a wide variety of materials.3 The dentures of the time were large, bulky, and burdensome which worked together to make Washington quite self-conscience about them leading him to be more introverted than perhaps he might have been.4

On top of this, George Washington did not have the same high level of education his older brothers received due to the death of their father when he was only eleven years old. This tragedy led Washington to become a surveyor (which incidentally provided the exact education he needed to accomplish the amazing things God had planned for him). When standing next to the genius level intellects of Jefferson, Adams, and others it was easy for Washington to feel at an embarrassing disadvantage to his more educated peers.5 That said, Washington was still incredibly intelligent on account of his extensive reading throughout his life in order to make up for his perceived lack of formal education.

3. He was nominated to be commander of the colonial army by John Adams.

“I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.”6 It was with these words that the ever-humble George Washington accepted the unanimous appointment to command the soon-to-be-created Continental Army. The official vote happened on June 15, 1775, with John Adams credited as being the one who recommended and nominated Washington to the position.7 On the occasion, Adams wrote to his wife explaining how Congress elected the, “modest and virtuous, the amiable, generous and brave George Washington,” and solemnly proclaimed that, “the Liberties of America, depend upon him.”8

4. George Washington was described as being taller than the average man.

In an era when the average man stood at 5’7″, noted early biographer Jared Sparks clocked Washington in at an impressive 6’3″ tall.9 John Adams, later in life, wrote to fellow signer of the Declaration of Independence, Dr. Benjamin Rush, that Washington had, “a tall stature, like the Hebrew sovereign chosen because he was taller by the head than the other Jews.”10

A military observer repeatedly called attention to the vast stature of Washington, explaining, “it is not difficult to distinguish him from all others; his personal appearance is truly noble and majestic; being tall and well proportioned.”11 He continues to write that Washington, “is remarkably tall, full six feet, erect and well proportioned…This is the illustrious chief, whom a kind Providence has decreed as the instrument to conduct our country to peace and to Independence.”12 George Washington was a tall man with an even bigger purpose.

5. He encouraged his troops to go to church.

As General, Washington would issue orders throughout the army instructing them on daily operations. On June 23, 1777, he issued the following order:

“All chaplains are to perform divine service tomorrow, and on every other succeeding Sunday, with their respective brigades and regiments, when their situations will admit of it, and the commanding officers of the corps are to see that they attend. The Commander-in-Chief expects an exact compliance with this order, and that it be observed in future as an invariable rule of practice, and every neglect will not only be considered a breach of orders, but a disregard to decency, virtue, and religion.”13

Being a man of great piety and sincere religion himself, it is no surprise that Washington placed such an extraordinary emphasis on his soldiers’ corporate worship. In fact, when Washington believed the chaplains were not making regular church services a proper priority, he required all the chaplains to come to a meeting to address the issue and then report back to him.14

Washington’s devotion to Christ was so apparent in the camp that the Rev. Henry Muhlenberg, father of Major General John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, remarked:

“His Excellency General Washington rode around among his army yesterday and admonished each and every one to fear God, to put away the wickedness that has set in and become so general, and to practice the Christian virtues. From all appearances this gentleman does not belong to the so-called world of society, for he respects God’s Word, believes in the atonement through Christ, and bears himself in humility and gentleness. Therefore the Lord God has also singularly, yea, marvelously, preserved him form harm in the midst of countless perils, ambuscades [ambushes], fatigues, etc. and has hitherto graciously held him in His hand as a [chosen] vessel. II Chronicles 15:1-3.”15

6. He forbade his officers to swear.

Along the same lines as the previous fact, Washington focused on making the American military not only righteous but also respectable. To this end, on July 4, 1775, he issued the following order:

“The General most earnestly requires, and expects, a due observance of those articles of war, established for the government of the army, which forbid profane cursing, swearing and drunkenness. And in like manner requires and expects, of all officers, and soldiers, not engaged on actual duty, a punctual attendance on Divine Service, to implore the blessings of Heaven upon the means used for our safety and defense.”16

7. He was the only President elected unanimously.

After the ratification of the Constitution, the first order of business was to fill the newly created positions of government. The most important question was, “who will be our President?” For the Americans of 1789, that was apparently an easy answer. “George Washington of course!” With that resolution, Washington, “by no effort of his own, in a manner against his wishes, by the unanimous vote of a grateful country.”17 In the history of the United States, there has been only one other unanimous vote for President — Washington again for his second term.18

8. George Washington added “So help me God” to the Presidential Oath of Office.

Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution states that when the President is sworn into office, he is to say the following oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

With his hand laid upon the open Bible, Washington repeated the oath. He then sealed the oath by with a solemn, “so help me God,” and reverently bowed down and kissed the Bible.19 One eyewitness to the event recalled that, “it seemed, from the number of witnesses, to be a solemn appeal to Heaven and earth at once.”20

9. He was elected to be a vestryman at local churches.

In early American Episcopalian churches, vestrymen were, “a select number of principal persons of every parish, who choose parish officers and take care of its concerns.”21 This included making sure the poor, widows, and orphans were taken care of, and even extended to major decisions about the church as a whole.

George Washington was elected (perhaps his first election) to be a vestryman in two different parishes. In March of 1765, he was chosen in Fairfax Parish with 274 votes, and then four months later he was again chosen in Truro Parish with 259 votes.22 Washington was extremely active as a vestryman.23

On one occasion, Washington even went toe-to-toe with George Mason (fellow future delegate to the Constitution Convention) about relocating the church to a new site. After an impassioned speech by Mason which seemingly settled the question, Washington unassumingly rose and used a surveying map to show where the new site would be and how it would be better for each parishioner. This sudden recourse to sound reason and just sensibilities restored the council to their senses and they voted with Washington to move the church to the new site.24

10. George Washington was killed by his doctors.

This characterization might be a little uncharitable—the doctors were doing the best they could with the knowledge they had—but it doesn’t mean it’s not true. The old General fell sick after riding out on Mount Vernon during the cold rain. Soon, he was struggling to breathe. The following is taken from the journal of George Washington’s lifelong friend and physician, James Craik:

“The disease commenced with a violent ague, accompanied with some pain in the upper and fore part of throat, a sense of stricture in the same part, a cough, and a difficult rather than paint deglutition, which were soon succeeded by fever and a quick and laborious respiration. The necessity of blood-letting suggesting itself to the General, he procured a bleeder in the neighborhood, who took from his arm, in the night, twelve or fourteen ounces of blood.”25

Medical science at the time thought that a number of sicknesses were caused because of some issue with the person’s blood itself. To fix the disease, therefore, a common “solution” would be to bleed a patient out in order to get rid of the bad blood.

Once more doctors had been called to the scene, Craik continues:

“In the interim were employed two copious bleedings; a blister was applied to the part affected, two moderate doses of calomel were given, and an injection was administered, which operated on the lower intestines—but all without any perceptible advantage; the respiration becoming still more difficult and distressing.”26

Even more blood was taken, and now the doctors applied hot irons to his throat because they thought that an accumulation of blood in Washington’s throat was what caused the difficulty breathing. Calomel is a kind of mercury chloride, which, we now know to be quite toxic! This, along with the bleedings and the injections were a long way off from helping Washington recover. But the doctors weren’t done yet:

“Upon the arrival of the first of the consulting physicians, it was agreed… To try the result of another bleeding, when about thirty-two ounces of blood were drawn, without the smallest apparent alleviation of the disease… ten grains of calomel were given, succeeded by repeated doses of emetic tartar, amounting, in all, to five or six grains, with no other effect than a copious discharge of the bowels. The powers of life seemed now manifestly yielding to the force of the disorder. Blisters were applied to the extremities.”27

More blood-letting, more toxic calomel, more blisters. The biggest variation in this round of treatments is that they gave Washington another poisonous substance—emetic tartar. Altogether, it served only to give the dying President diarrhea.

Finally, Dr. Craik relates the end to his friend’s suffering:

“Speaking, which was painful from the beginning, now became almost impracticable; respiration grew more and more contracted and imperfect, till… when retaining the full possession of his intellect, he expired without a struggle.”28

A contemporary doctor estimated the total amount of blood drawn to be, “the enormous quantity of eighty-two ounces, or above two quarts and a half of blood in about thirteen hours.”29 The same doctor goes on to accurately explain that:

“Very few of the most robust young men in the world could survive such a loss of blood; but the body of an aged person must be so exhausted, and all his power so weakened by it as to make his death speedy and inevitable.”30

The average amount of blood in someone of Washington’s size and stature is around 210 ounces. If, as the doctor estimates, somewhere around 82 ounces were taken, then Washington lost nearly 40% of his blood. This amount is nearly tantamount to exsanguination (death by bleeding out), and when combined with the blisters, calomel, emetic tartars, and the various vapors, it appears to be the unfortunate conclusion that the doctors killed George Washington.31


Endnotes

1. Mason Locke Weems, The Life of Washington the Great (Augusta: George P. Randolph, 1806), 8-9.
2. “Washington Tooth Troubles,” Mount Vernon (accessed March 29, 2019).
3. “False Teeth,” Mount Vernon (accessed September 18, 2023).
4. “Washington Tooth Troubles,” Mount Vernon (accessed March 29, 2019).
5. “Education” Mount Vernon (accessed March 29, 2019).
6. June 16, 1775, Journal of the Proceedings of the Congress, Held at Philadelphia, May 10, 1775
7. John Adams autobiography, part 1, through 1776, Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive, Massachusetts Historical Society.
8. John Adams to Abigail Adams, June 17, 1775, Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive, Massachusetts Historical Society.
9. Jared Sparks, The Life of George Washington (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, 1839), 102n.
10. John Adams to Benjamin Rush, November 11, 1807, Founders Online (accessed March 29, 2019).
11. James Thacher, A Military Journal During the American Revolutionary War (Boston: Richardson and Lord, 1823), 37.
12. Thacher, Military Journal, 182-183.
13. George Washington, General Order, June 28, 1777, Records of the Revolutionary War (New York: Pudney & Russell, 1858), 330.
14. Washington, General Order, October 6, 1777, Records of the Revolutionary War, 345.
15. Henry M. Muhlenberg, The Journals of Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg (Philadelphia: The Muhlenberg Press, 1958), III:149, journal entry for May 7, 1778.
16. George Washington, General Orders, July 4, 1775, Library of Congress (accessed September 18, 2023).
17. Washington Irving, Life of George Washington (New York: G. P. Putman & Company, 1857), IV:516.
18. Annals of Congress (1873), 2nd Congress, 2nd Session,  874-875, February 13, 1793; Jared Sparks, The Life of George Washington (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, 1839), 445.
19. Irving, Washington, IV:475.
20. “Philadelphia, May 8. Extract of a Letter from New York, May 3,” Gazette of the United States (May 9 to May 13, 1789).
21. Noah Webster, “Vestry-man,” American Dictionary of the English Language (1828).
22. Jared Sparks, The Life of George Washington (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, 1839), 520.
23. “Churchwarden and Vestryman,” Mount Vernon (accessed April 1, 2019).
24. Sparks, Washington, 106.
25. James Craik, “From The Times, A Newspaper printed in Alexandria (Virginia), dated December, 1799,” The Medical Repository (New York: T. & J. Swords, 1805), III:311.
26. Craik, “From The Times” Medical Repository, III:311-312.
27. Craik, “From The Times” Medical Repository, III:312.
28. Craik, “From The Times” Medical Repository, III:312.
29. John Brickell, “Medical Treatment of General Washington,” Transactions of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Printed for the College, 1903), 25:93.
30. Brickell, “Medical Treatment” College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 25:93.
31. For a more technical examination of the medical circumstances surrounding Washington’s death see, Dr. Wallenborn’s, “George Washington’s Terminal Illness: A Modern Medical Analysis of the Last Illness and Death of George Washington,” The Washington Papers (November 5, 1997).

 

* Originally posted: May 9, 2019

 

George Washington 1785 Letter

Below is an original letter in WallBuilders’ collection, from George Washington, dated February 1, 1785. This letter was written during a short period of retirement for Washington, following the War for Independence and before the Constitutional Convention. After resigning his military commission, he settled back in Mount Vernon following an almost continuance absence of eight years.


 

Mount Vernon 1st Feb. 1785

Gentleman,

You may think me very troublesome – and the reason I assign for being so (that I am of the opinion you can serve me better than any other) no good apology for the liberty I take.

My Miller (William Roberts) in now become such an intolerable serv, and when drunk so great a madman, that he never unwilling I am to part with an old servant (for he has been with me 15 years) I cannot with propriety on common justice to myself bear with him any longer.

I pray you once more, therefore, to engage & forward to me, a miller as seen as you may have it in your power; and whatever engagement you shall enter into on my behalf I will religiously fulfil. I do not stipulate for the wages at altho’ my Mill (being on an indifferent stream & not constant at work) can illy [sic] afford high wages.

My wishes to procure a servant who understands the manufacturing business perfectly – and who is sober and honest, that I may even at the expense of paying for it, have as little trouble as possible with him. If he understood the business of a Mill _____ and was obliged by his attitude to keep the Mill works in repair, so much the better. Whatever agreement you may enter into on my behalf, I pray you to have it reduced to writing, & specially declared, that there may be no misexception [sic] or disputes thereafter.

The House in which such Muller will live, is a very comfortable one, within 30 yards of the Mill (which works two pairs of stones one pair of them french Burns) – it has a small Kitchen convenient thereto and a good garden properly paled it. There is a Coopers shop within 50 yards of the Mill, with three Negro Coopers which will also be under the direction of the Miller. Whose allowance of meat, flour, & privileges of every kind, I would have ascertained, to prevent after claims. I do not object to the Mans having a family (a wife I could wish him to have) but if it was a small one, it would be preferable.

At any rate be so good as to let me hear from you, that I may know on what to depend, as it is no longer safe for me to entrust my business to the care of Willi’m Roberts. It only remains now for me to ask your sanguineness for this trouble & to assure you of the esteem with which I am

Gentm

Your friend & very Humble

G. Washington

Mess. Lewis’s

Siege of Yorktown

Ending of a War

The Siege of Yorktown is recognized as the final major military action in the War for Independence. This three-week long battle (September 28-October 19, 1781) secured American independence after 6 years of active fighting. Some interesting aspects surrounding the siege of Yorktown makes this victory even more amazing.

For example, a black man, James Armistead, played a major role in securing the victory. A Virginia slave who wanted to help his country, four months before the battle, working with General Marquis de Lafayette, he successfully infiltrated the camp of British commander Lord Cornwallis, serving as a spy for the American forces. Armistead was able to collect intelligence on British movements and sent it back to George Washington. Lafayette later petitioned for Armistead’s freedom (in Virginia, it took an act of the legislature to free a slave for meritorious service), and after being freed, Armistead was granted a retirement pension for his military service.

Cornwallis was heavily outnumbered (there were some 17,600 American/French troops against his 8,300 British troops), so on October 16, he attempted a last-ditch attack. (In the WallBuilders’ Collection we have an unexploded mortar shell–pictured on the left.) Under the cover of darkness, the British attempted to flee but a storm arose, forcing them to remain.

 

Running short of supplies and with reinforcements not arriving, the British surrendered on October 19. George Bancroft, the “Father of American History,” recorded how the Continental Congress responded upon hearing the good news:

When the letters of Washington announcing the capitulation [surrender] reached Congress, that body, with the people streaming in their train [that is, following them], went in procession to the Dutch Lutheran church to return thanks to Almighty God.

And John Hancock issued a proclamation announcing the victory and calling for a time of thanksgiving and prayer to God Almighty. (We have an original of this proclamation in the WallBuilders Collection.)

So it was in October 1781, that the battle of Yorktown was won, and Americans openly thanked God for His role in protecting America. Now is a good time for us likewise offer thanks for the blessings He has bestowed on our nation.

Christmas

“Ghosts of Christmas Past”

(from Charles Dickens “Christmas Carol” in 1843)

At Christmas, people all over the world pause to remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We gather with family, exchange gifts, and hopefully read the Christmas story from the Bible (Luke 2:1-20). It’s a day of celebration! In 1950 during the Korean War, President Harry Truman reminded the nation of the importance of Christmas, and also urged them to remember those who served us in the military and would not be home for Christmas:

Many have forgotten the humble surroundings of the nativity and how, from a straw-littered stable, shone a light which for nearly 20 centuries has given men strength, comfort, and peace. At this Christmastime we should renew our faith in God. We celebrate the hour in which God came to man. It is fitting that we should turn to Him. Many of us are fortunate enough to celebrate Christmas at our own fireside. But there are many others who are away from their homes and loved ones on this day.

Our history abounds with examples of those who could not be home for Christmas. Usually this was because of an ongoing war, but there were other reasons as well. In fact, there have been times when they could not be home because they were not even on the planet!

The astronauts of Apollo 8 (the first manned mission to the moon) entered orbit around the moon on Christmas Eve, 1968. (Pictured here is one of the photos they took, showing Earth rising above the moon on Christmas Eve.) While circling the moon, the three astronauts hosted a live telecast in which all three read from Genesis 1 and then Frank Borman delivered a special Christmas greeting.

WallBuilders Collection includes a document signed by Frank Borman with the text of the Christmas Eve message. Also included is a prayer recorded by Borman on Christmas Day, 1968, which read in part:

Give us, O God, the vision

Which can see Thy love in the world

In spite of human failure.

This document is an amazing example of how Christmas has been celebrated not only here on Earth but also in space as well!

The USS Arizona sinks after it's bombed during the Pearl Harbor attacks in 1941.

Pearl Harbor – Orders of the Day for the USS California

The USS California (a battleship stationed in the Pacific) was one of the eight battleships sunk at Pearl Harbor. During the attack on December 7, 1941, it took three direct hits — two torpedoes and one bomb, killing over 100 crew. The California caught fire and the remainder of the crew made their way to shore before the ship sank. It was later salvaged, repaired, and returned to service during World War II before being decommissioned in 1947.

Below is the December 7, 1941 “Orders of the Day” for the USS California, from WallBuilders’ Collection. Since that day was a Sunday, the orders include notations for church services for the ship’s crew.


U.S.S. CALIFORNIA

Sunrise: 0626                                                                                                                                         Sunset: 1720

MEDICAL GUARD: 00-09 PENNSYLVANIA                                                                               09-24 MARYLAND

GUARD SHIPS: 00-09 PENNSYLVANIA                                                                                     09-24 MARYLAND

“ORDERS OF THE DAY”

Sunday 7, December 1941

Directives:

1. Duty boats: 2 M.S.; 2 & 4 M.L.’s; 2 M.W.B.

2. Duty sections: Officers, 2: Crew, 2. Gasoline Petty Officers, a.m. JUHL, S.F. 3c.; p.m. LEHNE, S.F.3c.

3. Working division, F; Relief working division, 6-S.

4. PORT ROUTINE # 5.

0545 – Send 40′ M.L. with four hands (anchor watch) to Merry Point Naval Stores Landing to pick up ice. Wood, L.K., Sea. lc., in charge.

0600 – Send M.W.B. with signalman to ascertain ships in this sector.

0745 – Rig for church (starboard forecastle, weather permitting).

0750 – Send boat to Officers’ Club landing for Chaplain Maguire.

0830 – Chaplain’s Bible discussion class (port side Crew’s Reception Room).

0830 – Confessions (Crew’s library).

0900 – Divine Service (Catholic).

0945 – Quarters for duty section.

1000 – Divine Service (Protestant).

1700 – Supper for crew.

1930 – Movies on quarterdeck.

BULLETIN

1. There will be another Flying Squadron dance at the Aiea Club house on Tuesday, December 9, at 2000. There are 23 tickets available. Men desiring to go register names at ship’s library immediately.

E.E. Stone.

* Handwritten Note (top right): “Dope Sheet from U.S.S. California for the day she was sunk.”

Civil War Baptism Competition

William Cogswell

The author of this letter, John Munroe, enlisted as a private in the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry at the age of 19 on May 22, 1861, and served until mustered out on July 1, 1864. During the war he acted as the musician for K Company. 1 Aside from this, not much is known of Private Munroe.

The letter’s most notable character, Colonel William Cogswell, however, was perhaps one of the most famous members of the 2nd Massachusetts. Col. Cogswell served with exemplary distinction during the Civil War, finally being brevetted a Brigadier General. Afterwards, he was three times of the mayor of Salem, five times a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, then he was elected to the Senate of Massachusetts in the mid 1880’s. In 1886, Cogswell became a Republican representative in the Federal Congress—a position to which he was reelected to until his death in 1895.2

In one of the many addresses given during the memorial to his life, the speaker attested to his strong character saying:

When heroes were needed, Mr. Cogswell could easily be found. When the tender sympathies of a woman were needed, his heart was loaded with that sweet necessity of life.

His close companions, those whom he loved, knew him to be great in God’s holiest, sweetest, and tenderest gifts, as well as great in the heart that accomplishes the grand achievements of life.

He had a soul fitted to reprove the wicked. He had an arm potential against the oppressor. He had a heart dauntless in the face of danger, ever quick to respond when duty called him to action. The tear of a suffering child, the sigh of an unfortunate woman, and the pitiful look of the debased, all found sympathy in his great soul.3

The anecdote related by Private Munroe in the letter most likely happened towards the end of 1864 after the capture of Atlanta on September 2. General Sherman had appointed Cogswell to be the post-commandant during the period immediately after the completion of the siege.4

Below are the pictures and transcript of the letter.


A “Col” who would not be outdone

At the time the 2nd Regt Mass Inf was in in camp at or near Atlanta, a Michigan Regt was brigaded with it for a while. It being a crack “regt,” a great rivalry fell out between it and the Mass 2nd, also a crack Regiment under Col. Cogswell, and the latter had the better of the competition.

One day a wave of religion struck the Michigan crowd. We had been stationed at this place some little time and the Chaplains had begun to get in their work. When Soldiers are marching or fighting they don’t seem to give religion much thought, but when in Camp for a month and the muddy current of life settles a little it is very different.

At this particular time a regular revival broke out in the Michigan Regt. The Col himself was given that way, and you could find about as many Hymn books, as decks of cards about his Hd. Qs.* and as he rather led this return to a better and brighter life many of his boys naturally fell in and followed. Cogswell’s regiment, on the other hand, was decidedly a perverse and stiffnecked generation. If there was any religion in that regiment it was a secret and none ever knew it. One day while the Michigan revival was at its heighth [sic] an Officer was talking with Cogswell about it.

“Do you know, Colonel,” he said to Cogswell, “I understand that eleven of those Michigan fellows are going to be baptized to-morrow?” “The deuce they are!” said Cogswell, & all of scorn and incredulity. He thought he saw a scheme to outdo his brave Second Mass. He determined to thwart it. That evening on dress parade he addressed his regiment. He told them of the Michigan regiment and how eleven of them were going to be baptized in the river next morning.

“Now boys,” said Cogswell, and his voice trembled, “the Second Massachusetts can’t stand this. We’ve outfought, outmarched and outdrilled these Michigan men, and can repeat all of these solemnities any day in the week. They know it, too, and so ever they try to make a mean, sneaking detour, as it were, and give us the go-by in religious matters, thinking to catch us asleep and not at home, now Boys, if I were to call for volunteers to charge a battery of siege guns, or to just march calmly out to die there would be but one response. And that would be the Sutler.  Every man but the Sutler would step forward on the instant. To save the honor of the regiment then, when it is so insidiously beset by those people from Michigan, I now call on you for an unusual sacrifice.”

“And boys,” continued Cogswell, in tones of deepest feeling, “I don’t want you at this crisis in the career of a noble regiment to whose undying fame we all have contributed our blood, to weaken or hang back. Eleven of our rival are to be baptized tomorrow morning, and I now call for 25 of my brave fellows to volunteer to also be baptized. We’ll see their 11 and go ____ 14 better.” The line hesitated a moment, and at last a soldier asked for further & fuller light. “Are you going to be ‘mersed [sic for immersed] too, Colonel?” he inquired. “I will never,” said Cogswell, “shriek from a peril to which I invite my men.

“Should the Col of the Michigan regiment attempt any trick of personal baptism, I too, will go. Should he baptize any of his Officers, officers of equal rack in the 2nd Mass will be there to uphold the honor of their Regiment.”

“As the story comes to me now, it would seem as a first play these people meditate only the baptism of eleven privates, and to it rests with you my men, to say, whether at this juncture their plot shall succeed, or whether with 25 brave volunteers for this special duty we will retain our proud prestige as the crack regiment of this Brigade; and the unmeasured Superior of this particular outfit from Michigan.”

The 25 Volunteers stepped forward, and Cogswell issued an order to the Chaplain to baptize them at the same time and place with their hated rivals.

Truly Yours,

John Munroe



Endnotes

1 Alonzo H. Quint, The Record of the Second Massachusetts Infantry, 1861-65 (Boston: James P. Walker, 1867), 425, 469.
2 “Address of Mr. Moody,” Memorial Addresses on the Life and Character of William Cogswell (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1897), 19.
3 “Address of Mr. Henderson,” Memorial Addresses (1897), 38.
4 “Biography: William Cogswell,” American Battlefield Trust, accessed December 13, 2023, https://www.civilwar.org/learn/biographies/william-cogswell.