Show Menu

The watermelon salesman

The late John Pannill Camp, the only child of Judge John L. Camp and Martha Pannill Camp and my first cousin, told me this story a few years ago. John, born in 1925, was a peerless trial lawyer and story teller. He said he wished that as a young man he had talked more with our grandfather, Papa – Judge William Pannill. Papa told him that a man had come by the house one day in Stephenville, Texas, selling watermelons. The Pannills lived in Stephenville from the 1890s to the 1920s. Papa bought six watermelons and invited the man in to supper. Papa sat the man at the head of…

Read more

Starvation rations at Fort Pulaski, Georgia

Lieutenant Cherry remained in prison for two months after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. His brother James had surrendered with the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, and received a parole to return home to Georgia. William Cherry was fortunate to have survived Union retaliation. Mauriel Joslyn tells the story of the last six months’ imprisonment of The Immortal 600 in painful detail. The pages from which I take information from her book Immortal Captives appear below in parentheses. There is far more in the book, especially the quotations from diaries and memoirs of Confederate and Union soldiers that amplify almost every page. Here are the main facts.…

Read more

50th anniversary of the state funeral of Winston Spencer Churchill

On January 30, 1965, I got up at 3 a.m. to watch the state funeral of Winston Churchill on an early transatlantic television link. The broadcast was in black-and-white, and I watched on a small screen in my Houston apartment. The ceremony lasted all morning. The procession began at the Houses of Parliament, and the marching troops followed the long route to St. Paul’s Cathedral. I recall President Eisenhower serving as one of the commentators and saying farewell “to Winston Churchill, my old friend.” I already knew Churchill was the man of the century. Quotations from the great speeches made the rounds, thrilling us students with his defiance of Hitler…

Read more

Victims of revenge

Maltreatment of prisoners by the United States did not begin with the Iraq War in 2003. Consider the Union Army’s placement of Confederate prisoners of war as human shields in 1864. Lieutenant William C. Cherry was one of these men. Here is how this episode came about. The Union army pushed to capture Charleston, South Carolina, in 1864. The United States Government had a special desire to take Charleston, where secessionists had provoked the war in 1861. The narrative that follows is taken largely from the book Immortal Captives, The Story of Six Hundred Confederate Officers and the United States Prisoner of War Policy, by Mauriel Phillips Joslyn (Shippensburg, Pa.:…

Read more

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt: A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people. Click here to see the complete report.

Read more

Uncle Hinkey

If we think families live through hardships today, consider the Goodrums of Fort Worth. My mother (Mary Ellen Goodrum) and her siblings grew up in poverty. That did not blight their lives. My grandmother’s maiden name was Lutie Hunt Donaldson.  She was born in 1877.  With her first husband, a man named Goss, she had four children – Ethel, Nellie, Leo, and Leah. They were born between 1900 and 1911.  But Goss abandoned his family after 1910, so Lutie divorced him. Goss moved on to a second family, which he also abandoned. Years later, several of Lutie’s grandchildren met members of his second family in San Francisco. In the mid-teens, Lutie…

Read more

Restoration at Blandford Cemetery

On a battlefield trip some years ago, I visited Petersburg, Virginia, the home of William Pannill V and his wife, Eliza Binns Jones. Petersburg was the birthplace of my great-great-grandfather Henry Pannill, their second son. I knew almost nothing of the rest of the family or the town. I knew only that the Union Army had besieged Petersburg from June 1864 to March 1865. I learned that William V – a veteran of the War of 1812 and a graduate of William & Mary College – had been commissioned a colonel of militia as provost marshal of Petersburg and served throughout the war. He had served in the 1840s as…

Read more

Prisoner of war

The Union army marched Lieutenant Cherry and other captives from Doles’s Brigade to the rear and held them for several days. Crab described his experience: After being crowded up with other prisoners in the rear of Grant’s army for a few days, I was put upon a small boat, Swanee, on the Chesapeake Bay and carried to Point Lookout. I was not landed there but taken to Fort Delaware in Delaware State and there landed and put into officers’ quarters. There were 2,200 of them [officers]. Crab was fortunate to have avoided Point Lookout, which sits on the Maryland shore of the Chesapeake Bay. It was the largest of the Union’s…

Read more

Yellow Tavern

On May 12, 1864, the Army of Northern Virginia suffered its greatest loss after Stonewall Jackson. The Union cavalry commander, General Philip Sheridan, took his entire force of 10,000 men from Grant’s front at Spotsylvania. His column was 13 miles long. He rode for Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, to duel with Major General J. E. B. Stuart, our great cousin. The Union cavalry outnumbered Stuart’s cavalry two to one. Stuart set up a counterattack on the Union rear. Then he stopped by a plantation nearby where his wife, Flora, was staying with their two children. He did not have time to dismount, but leaned down and kissed Flora,…

Read more