Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Stand and Defend

             Several years ago I came into the possession of a great book about the Civil War. My brother, John, was heading for Maine to spend some time at a favorite cabin we often frequented during the summer located in the wonderful lobster village of Corea. A short drive from there was the Chicken Barn, one of those great old places where you could find all sorts of treasures. I had seen a book there the previous summer which I dearly wanted. John picked it up for me, shipping it to California.

The book is entitled, “The Book of Anecdotes and Incidents of the Rebellion,” by Frazer Kirkland, published by Hartford Publishing Co., Hartford, Connecticut, in 1866. What intrigued me about this book when I first laid eyes on it was the date – 1866. The Civil War (The Rebellion) had ended the year before in 1865, yet here was this sizable tome with three hundred lithographic engravings, a full color front cover page, and 705 pages of anecdotes and incidents of the Civil War from civil matters to military blunders. A reprint of this has come out within the last ten years, but mine is original. This means it must be handled carefully as the leather cover has dried out considerably over the last 149 years.

Reading from this treasure of Civil War minutiae is like eating a bag of potato chips – you can’t eat just one. Anyway, I thought you might be interested in some of the stories recorded within these pages of American history.

The young lady’s name was Miss Brownlow, daughter of Parson Brownlow of Knoxville, Tennessee. The good parson was known and respected in his community for being “bold-hearted and outspoken.” The Brownlow home was at one time the only home in Knoxville where the Stars and Stripes were raised. Much of Knoxville and most of Tennessee had joined the Southern Cause, the Confederacy.

Early one morning around first light, two men who were secessionists (pejoratively called “Secesh” by Northerners) came to the Brownlow home to forcefully take down the American flag. Twenty-three year old Miss Brownlow saw them coming and challenged them as to their intentions. They said, “We have come to take down them Stars and Stripes.” Much to their surprise, Miss Brownlow produced a revolver which she had held at her side, effectively hidden in the folds of her dress, and said, “Go on! I’m good for one of you, and I think for both!” One of the men then said, “By the look in that girl’s eye she’ll shoot. I think we’d better not try it.” The other man said, “We’ll go back and get more men.” “Go and get more men,” said the noble lady, “get more men and come and take it down, if you dare!”

Sure enough, the two Secesh returned with ninety armed men. In all their brag and bluster they demanded that the Stars and Stripes flying atop the Brownlow home be hauled down. The beauty of this story is that the Brownlow home was filled with men who were equally armed and ready to defend Old Glory should the rabble out front dare touch the blessed threads of the American symbol of freedom and liberty. The ninety men of the Secessionists wisely decided this was not their day and left.

A second incident of interest were the words spoken by President Andrew Jackson in 1830, thirty-one years before the Civil War began. For more than a decade a strong movement was taking place in Southern states, pushing back against what was thought to be an overbearing federal government in Washington, D.C. The occasion was the birthday celebration of Thomas Jefferson who had died only four years earlier. As was protocol for such a prestigious dinner party, honored guests were called upon to make a toast after the meal was consumed. The president was called upon first as the senior person present. In a most stately manner, stretching to his full height of six feet, one inch, President Jackson was brief, yet direct: “The Federal Union: It must be preserved!”

Jackson was born somewhere in the area that divides what are today North and South Carolina, of Scots-Irish heritage. Though technically a Southerner (perhaps the first true Southern Gentleman) he was totally opposed to any talk of Southern states seceding from the Union. He threatened military action should any such attempt be made during his presidency (1829-37).

The Southern states continued to fester over the next several decades, eventually erupting into Civil War due to the election of Abraham Lincoln. I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken; and to the extent of my ability I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States.” --March 4, 1861 Inaugural Address.

Andrew Jackson, who was a founder of the Democrat party, and Abraham Lincoln, who was the first Republican president, both agreed and worked toward the preservation of the Union of states and the protection of our rights and liberties as enumerated in the Constitution.
May there be those today who defend the flag and the Constitution against aggressors, whoever they may be, and from wherever they may come.

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