Monday, May 25, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 217: Attend a Mobile Bay Bears baseball game

The Mobile Bay Bears minor league baseball team has been around since 1997, and almost that entire time I’ve lived just a short drive from their home at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Despite the fact that I’ve actually been to the stadium several times for different events, I’d never seen the Bay Bears play an actual baseball game, which is why I added this item to my “bucket list” several years ago.

This past Saturday night, I finally got the chance to scratch this item off my bucket list when my wife and I accompanied my son and his youth baseball team to a Bay Bears game. I think I actually had more fun than both of them combined. The Bay Bears lost to the Chattanooga Lookouts, 11-3, but it was still a lot of fun just to go to the game.

Official attendance on Saturday night was 1,810, so there were plenty of places to park and sit. Hank Aaron Stadium will seat 6,000, so it was almost a third of the way full. Despite what may sound like a small crowd, the fans in the stands appeared to be really into the game and most of them stuck around to see the end result.

After parking, a few pleasant surprises followed. First, one of my old National Guard buddies, Will English, was the ticket taker at the turnstile that our group of 15 passed through. After speaking face-to-face to him for the first time in over 10 years, I told him that I had no idea that he worked at the stadium, and he told me that he took a job there after retiring the Guard. From what I could tell, it looked like a pretty sweet job, and Will is a perfect ambassador for the Bay Bears.

A few feet inside the stadium, we received another surprise when my wife and I were given two free Bay Bears T-shirts. Apparently, the first few hundred people through the gates got a free shirt. I’ve got mine on right now as I type this. It’s that nice.

The game got going a few minutes after 7 p.m. and, according to the official box score, the game lasted exactly three hours. There was lots of action, but errors seemed to kill the Bay Bears, so they trailed almost all night. In all, both teams amassed 25 total hits, and even though they hit a number of deep balls, no one hit a home run.

We also had great seats. We sat just to the right of home plate, could see all of the action and could hear all of the home plate umpires calls. We were also in a good spot for foul balls. Late in the game, around the ninth inning, one of the other dad’s in our group actually snagged a foul ball that ricocheted off the lower portion of the press box behind us.

All in all, I had a great time, and my wife and son enjoyed themselves too. I’ve been to a lot of baseball games, at all levels of play, but this game was one of the best I’ve ever been to in person. I can assure you that I plan to return to see the Bay Bears play again sometime soon (and I will be sporting my free T-shirt).


In the end, how many of you out there have been to a Bay Bears game? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below.

Today in History for May 25, 2015

Ralph Waldo Emerson
May 25, 1420 – Henry the Navigator was appointed governor of the Order of Christ.

May 25, 1787 - The Constitutional convention opened in Philadelphia with George Washington presiding.

May 25, 1803 – Philosopher, poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston, Mass.

May 25, 1825 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette visited Washington, Pennsylvania, dining at the Pioneer Grill, the George Washington Hotel and staying at the Globe Inn.

May 25, 1844 - The first telegraphed news dispatch, sent from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, Md. appeared in the Baltimore "Patriot."

May 25, 1856 - Abolitionist John Brown and his sons attacked three cabins along Pottawatomie Creek. They killed five men. The attack was Brown's revenge for an attack on Lawrence, Kansas on May 21.

May 25, 1861 - John Merryman, a vocal secessionist, was arrested in Cockeysville, Maryland. He appealed for his release under a writ of habeas corpus. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln had suspended the writ of habeas corpus between Washington and Philadelphia on April 27. The move was made to give the military the necessary power to silence dissenters and rebels.


May 25, 1862 – Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson led Confederates to victory at the First Battle of Winchester, Va.

May 25, 1863 - Clement Vallandigham was banished to the Confederacy. Vallandigham had been found guilty by a military tribunal of violating General Ambrose Burnside's Order No. 38. The order stated that public criticism of the war would not be tolerated.

May 25, 1865 - During the early weeks of Federal occupation of Mobile, the city suffered one of its worst disasters as 20 tons of captured Confederate gunpowder exploded in a warehouse being used as an arsenal. Property loss was put at $5,000,000 and the number of casualties was never determined, although it has been estimated at possibly 300. The entire northern part of the city was laid in ruins by the explosion. Many of the dead were never identified.

May 25, 1885 – The Monroe Journal reported that L.H. Henley of Burnt Corn was in Monroeville “a short time ago” and “took the first degree in Masonry.”

May 25, 1885 – The Monroe Journal reported that W.B. Jones had plans to again open his beef market in Monroeville. The market was scheduled to open every Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on the northeast corner of the public square.

May 25, 1885 – The Monroe Journal editorialized that “the draught and backgammon board furnish an unending source of amusement to the ‘gentlemen of leisure’ of this place. It is a more sensible source of pleasure than roller skating or base ball.” (This is one of the earliest mentions of baseball that I’ve found in The Journal.)

May 25, 1905 – The Monroe Journal reported that chancery court was in session in Monroeville, Ala. during the past week. Chancellor Thomas H. Smith presided.

May 25, 1905 – The Monroe Journal reported that “two more shooting scrapes” occurred in Monroe County during the past week, one with fatal results. The first involved an 11-year-old boy, who killed his father, in the King community. The second involved a man, who shot a woman in the arm, in the Scotland community. Both incidents were said to be accidental.

May 25, 1910 - The first-ever nighttime airplane flight was made at Orville Wright's flying school near Montgomery, Ala. Walter Brookins and Archibald Hoxsey piloted the plane, which the Montgomery Advertiser described as "glinting now and then in the moonlight" during flight. The flying school closed shortly after the historic event, but the site eventually became home to Maxwell Air Force Base.

May 25, 1914 – Prof. W.C. Blasingame was elected principal of the Southwest Alabama Agricultural School in Evergreen during a meeting of the school’s board of control in Montgomery. He replaced Prof. J.T. McKee, who took a faculty position at the State Normal School in Florence. He was a graduate of the State Normal College, the University of Tennessee and the University of Chicago. Prior to coming to Evergreen, he’d been in charge of schools in Demopolis and Thomaston.

May 25, 1920 – The commencement exercises at the Agricultural School in Evergreen came to a close with senior class exercises on this day. On May 23, the commencement sermon was delivered at the Baptist Church by the Rev. Norman McLeod of Auburn. On May 21, commencement exercises began with the school play, a four-act drama that was present by pupils from several departments.

May 25, 1922 - Babe Ruth was suspended for one day and fined $200 for throwing dirt on an umpire.

May 25, 1927 – Novelist Robert Ludlum was born in New York City. He is best known for his thriller novels about Jason Bourne.

May 25, 1935 - Babe Ruth hit his final homerun, his 714th, and set a record that would stand for 39 years.

May 25, 1935 – Oakville, Ala. native Jesse Owens of Ohio State University broke three world records and tied a fourth at the Big Ten Conference Track and Field Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Owens tied the world record for the 100-yard dash, running it in 9.4 seconds.

May 25, 1944 – Conecuh County High School in Castleberry, Ala. was scheduled to hold its graduation exercises at 8 p.m. Those receiving diplomas included Jessie Ruth Godwin, Mabel Green, Doris Davis, Lois Ward, Virginia Griffin, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Clara Evelyn Albreast, Mary Ellen Dolihite, John Josey, Joe Josey, Hairston Powell, Lamar Stapleton and Kenneth Brooks.

May 25, 1950 – The Evergreen Greenies were scheduled to play Atmore in a Dixie Amateur League game at Brooks Stadium in Evergreen, Ala.

May 25, 1951 – Westfield, Ala. native Willie Mays made his debut with the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds.

May 25, 1955 – The first ascent of Kangchenjunga, the third-highest mountain in the world, was made by a British expedition led by Charles Evans. Joe Brown and George Band reached the summit on May 25, followed by Norman Hardie and Tony Streather the next day.

May 25, 1961 - President John F. Kennedy made his historic speech before a joint session of Congress, declaring that America would aim to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. 

May 25, 1963 – Hartford, Ala. native Early Wynn won his 300th baseball game.

May 25, 1968 - The Gateway Arch, part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Mo. was dedicated.

May 25, 1971 - President Richard Nixon visited Mobile, Ala. to mark the start of construction of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The waterway, when completed in 1985, ran from Pickwick Lake to Demopolis, Alabama, to connect the Tennessee River to the Tombigbee River. A link between the two rivers had long been desired, having been first proposed by the French in the eighteenth century.

May 25, 1974 - Pam Morrison, Jim Morrison's widow, died of a drug overdose.

May 25, 1977 - "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" opened in theaters and became the largest grossing film to date.

May 25, 1982 - Ferguson Jenkins became the seventh pitcher to strike out 3,000 batters.

May 25, 1983 - "The Return of the Jedi" opened nationwide. It set a new record in opening day box office sales. The gross was $6,219,629.

May 25, 1997 - The Minnesota Twins retired Kirby Puckett's number.

May 25, 1997 - Todd and Mel Stottlemyre became the first father and son duo to win 100 baseball games.

May 25, 2001 – Erik Weihenmayer, 32, of Boulder, Colorado became the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

May 25, 2001 - Sherman Bull, 64, of New Canaan, Conn. became the oldest climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

May 25, 2012 – Renovations were completed at the Historic Louisville & Nashville Depot in downtown Evergreen, Ala. 

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Mon., May 25, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.00 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.60 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 11.10 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 20.45 inches

Notes: Today is the 145th day of 2015 and the 67th day of Spring. There are 220 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

130-year-old news highlights from The Monroe Journal from May 1885

The Monroe Journal newspaper in Monroeville, Ala., under the direction of Editor H.R. Hood and Publisher Q. Salter, published four editions 130 years ago during the month of May 1885. Those issues, which were dated May 4, May 11, May 18 and May 25, can be found on microfilm at the Monroe County Library in Monroeville, Ala. What follows are a few news highlights from those four editions. Enjoy.

MAY 4, 1885

As we go to press this (Friday) evening we learn that our esteemed townsman Maj. C.L. Scott has been appointed Minister to Venezuela by the President. A true and deserving patriot has been fittingly rewarded.

Miss Ima Russell, who has been teaching in the academy at Evergreen, has returned home.

Burnt Corn – It was rumored upon our streets last week that Mr. Richard Mosley of Burnt Corn had died Friday the 24th ult. Mr. Mosley had been seriously ill for some time.

Mount Pleasant – The lumber business is lively at the mills, abundant water power and good demand for sawn timber.

Mr. Samuel W. Yarbrough, a thorough-going young businessman, has charge of the steam saw and grist mill of Messrs. Russell & Hudson and has an advertisement in this week’s Journal, to which we would call special attention. He sell lumber from 40 cents to $1 per hundred feet and solicits orders for bills of lumber which he can fill on short notice.

The White House – I have again leased this house and thus give notice that it will remain open to the public under my proprietorship during the present year, and I solicit a continuance of that patronage so liberally extended me in the past. Recently many improvements have been made in the general arrangement of the House and many other improvements have been made for the public accommodation. Meals, as usual, 25 cents. W.B. Jones, Proprietor.

MAY 11, 1885

Large numbers of hogs have been destroyed by cholera in this and other parts of the county this Spring.

Monroeville is soon to have a lemonade and Soda water stand.

Maj. and Mrs. C.L. Scott, Col. and Mrs. B.L. Hibbard, and Master John Hibbard left for Mobile last Thursday. Major Scott and Col. Hibbard left Mobile Saturday night for Washington, D.C. Mrs. Hibbard and John will attend the Exposition, while Mrs. Scott will remain in Mobile.
Col. Hibbard will accompany Maj. Scott on his mission to Venezuela. They left Monroeville Thursday evening last, for four years and probably forever. We wish them a pleasant voyage and safe return.

The Third Regiment, Alabama State Troops, was formed in Selma on Tuesday, as is learned from The Times, by the election of S.W. John of Selma, Colonel; W.E. Yancey of Talladega, Lieutenant Colonel; W.R. Oliver, Major; N.G. Winn, Adjutant; Z.J. White, Surgeon; T.F. Mangum Jr., Sergeant Major; Christian Laubeinheimer, Color Sergeant. The Talladega Rifles, Morgan Rifles, Pelham Guards, Wilcox Greys, Pelham Rifles, Selma Guards and Pettus Rifles were registered.

Commissioner’s court meets today, Monday.

Died – On Tuesday, the 28th ult., about eight miles south of Monroeville, of dropsy, Mr. John Folk, aged about 80 years.

MAY 18, 1885

The editor of this paper is quite sick, which will account for our many shortcomings in this week’s Journal.

The Monroeville jail has 10 inmates at present.

Mr. John L. Stallworth of Pineville passed through town Thursday evening en route to Pensacola with a drove of sheep.

Judge and Mrs. J.W. Leslie are attending the Exposition at New Orleans.

Monroeville was represented by 13 persons at the Exposition on Alabama’s Day.

Mrs. John Herrington and Mrs. McConico of Pineville were in town last week.

The family of Col. T.C. McCorvey of Tuscaloosa is visiting the family of Dr. J.T. Packer at this place.

Col. D.L. Neville is out on the streets again after a few days illness.

Rev. P.C. Morton preached a very eloquent, entertaining and instructive sermon at the Presbyterian church Friday night last.

Mrs. Emma Seymour will leave for the North this week, where she expects to make her future home.

Fork – Crops are looking sick. We had frost on the 10th and 11th of this month.

MAY 25, 1885

In a private letter to a gentleman of Monroeville, Maj. C.L. Scott, our new minister to Venezuela, says that he and Col. Hibbard, his private Secretary, will sail from New York for Caracas on the 28th instant.

Mr. L.H. Henley of Burnt Corn was in town a short time ago and, we learn, took the first degree in Masonry.

There is some talk of a soda fount being established at Monroeville. It will pay.

Mr. W.B. Jones has again opened his Beef Market at this place, where he will be pleased to furnish his customers with choice beef at lowest market price. Market will be open every Saturday morning at 6:30, N.E. Corner, Public Square.

The draught and backgammon board furnish an unending source of amusement to the “gentlemen of leisure” of this place. It is a more sensible source of pleasure than roller skating or base ball.

Death of Mr. J.S. Parker (Mobile Register) – Saturday night, there died at the Providence Infirmary, Jacob Scott Parker, death being caused by disease of the heart and Bright’s disease. He was born in Monroe County, Ala. in March 1847 and was consequently 38 years of age. He came to Mobile in 1870 and engaged in the cotton compress business with his brother, Duncan T. Parker.

The remains were buried at 10 o’clock Monday morning from the residence of his brother, Mr. J.J. Parker, at the corner of St. Emmanuel and Monroe streets. The funeral was largely attended by his friends and relatives.

Today in History for May 24, 2015

Queen Victoria
May 24, 1607 – One hundred English settlers disembarked in Jamestown, the first English colony in America.

May 24, 1626 – Peter Minuit bought the island of Manhattan from the Lenape Indians.

May 24, 1738 – John Wesley was converted, essentially launching the Methodist movement; the day is celebrated annually by Methodists as Aldersgate Day and a church service is generally held on the preceding Sunday.

May 24, 1764 - Bostonian lawyer James Otis denounced "taxation without representation" and called for the colonies to unite in demonstrating their opposition to Britain’s new tax measures.

May 24, 1767 - The first Quartering Act expired. This act was enacted by the Parliament of Great Britain on May 3, 1765.

May 24, 1775 - John Hancock was elected president of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pa.

May 24, 1819 - Queen Victoria was born at 4.15 a.m. at Kensington Palace in London She was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from June 20, 1837 until her death on Jan. 22, 1901. From May 1, 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India.


May 24, 1825 – During his tour of the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette visited Wheeling, Va.

May 24, 1828 – An Act of Congress was approved to establish an arsenal at Mount Vernon, Ala., which was garrisoned by federal troops until 1861, when it was seized by Alabama militia under the orders of Gov. Andrew B. Moore.

May 24, 1830 – The first passenger railroad service in the U.S. began when the first revenue trains in the United States begin service on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between Baltimore, and Ellicott's Mills, Maryland.

May 24, 1840 – About seven weeks after Philadelphia Baptist Church was organized at Tunnel Springs, Ala., the first new members were added to the church roll, Robert Colvin and his wife, Sarah Colvin.

May 24, 1841 – Early Alabama soldier and pioneer Samuel Dale died in Daleville in Lauderdale County, Miss. at the age of 69 (possibly 68). (Some sources say he died on May 23.)

May 24, 1844 - Samuel Morse sent the message "What hath God wrought" (a biblical quotation, Numbers 23:23) from the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the United States Capitol to his assistant, Alfred Vail, in Baltimore, Maryland, to inaugurate the first telegraph line.

May 24, 1845 – Confederate soldier John Pitts Anderson was born in Sparta, Ala. In September 1861, at the age of 17, he enlisted in the Miller Guards at Sparta and was promoted to Second Sgt. of Co. E, 38th Alabama Regiment on June 11, 1862. He was on the muster roll at Camp Holt in Mobile on June 16, 1862. Between June 6, 1864 and June 22, 1864, he was listed as sick with febris continue at St. Mary’s Hospital in Dalton, Ga. He was listed as a prisoner of war at Fort Blakeley on April 9, 1865 and was forwarded to Ship Island Prison in Mississippi on April 16, 1865. He was forwarded to Vicksburg on May 1, 1865 and was paroled after taking the oath of allegiance. He would pass away near Sparta in Conecuh County on Sept. 1, 1914 and is buried at Hampden Ridge.

May 24, 1856 – John Brown and his men killed five slavery supporters at Pottawatomie Creek, Kansas.

May 24, 1861 – During the Civil War, Union troops occupied Alexandria, Virginia.

May 24, 1863 - Bushwackers led by Captain William Marchbanks attacked a U.S. Federal militia party in Nevada, Missouri.

May 24, 1864 - Union General Ulysses S. Grant moved his troops south toward Cold Harbor, Va. after a second attempt to dislodge the Rebels on the North Anna River around Hanover, Va.

May 24, 1883 - After 14 years of construction, the Brooklyn Bridge was first officially opened to traffic.

May 24, 1902 - Bill Bradley of the Cleveland Indians became the first American League player to hit home runs in four consecutive games.

May 24, 1909 – Brewton, Ala. was hit by a “cyclone” on this night that did “considerable damage” to buildings and blew the roof off the Pine Belt News office. Trees were also uprooted and telegraph poles and wires were blown down.

May 24, 1915 - Active work on the construction of the Gulf, Florida and Alabama railroad was resumed and the portion of the railroad between Broughton and a point near Monroeville, Ala. was “being made ready for to laying of steel to facilitate the transportation of material and supplies while station contracts are being let for filling in the gaps between graded portions north of this place.”

May 24, 1918 – During World War I, Army Pvt. Arthur L. Mims of Florala, Ala. was killed in action.

May 24, 1918 - Cleveland defeated the New York Yankees, 3-2, in the 19th inning.

May 24, 1921 – H.P. Lovecraft’s mother, Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft, passed away at Butler Hospital of complications from a gall bladder operation. She’d been admitted to Butler Hospital in 1919 after a nervous breakdown and had never emerged.

May 24, 1929 - The Detroit Tigers defeated the Chicago White Sox, 6-4, in 21 innings.

May 24, 1930 - Babe Ruth hit home runs in both games of a double header.

May 24, 1935 - The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-1, on this night in 1935 in Major League Baseball’s first-ever night game, played courtesy of recently installed lights at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. The switch for the floodlights was thrown by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.

May 24, 1940 – The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. was officially opened to traffic.

May 24, 1940 - The first movie version of Alabama author James H. Street's story "The Biscuit Eater" was released.

May 24, 1940 - The first night game at St. Louis's Sportsman Park was played.

May 24, 1940 – Poet Joseph Brodsky was born in Leningrad, Russia. He would go on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987.

May 24, 1941 – Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota.

May 24, 1951 - Willie Mays began playing for the New York Giants.

May 24, 1958 – United Press International was formed through a merger of the United Press and the International News Service.

May 24, 1962 - The officials of the National Football League ruled that halftime of regular season games would be cut to 15 minutes.

May 24, 1963 – Novelist Michael Chabon was born in Washington, D.C.

May 24, 1965 – Two Evergreen High School baseball players – Mike Fields and Steven Baggett – played in the Lions Club East-West All-Star Game in Montgomery, Ala. on this Monday night as the East won, 3-0. Fields, a catcher and outfielder, and Baggett, a third baseman, both played on the West Team. Henry Allmon was Evergreen’s head baseball coach.

May 24, 1967 - The AFL granted a franchise to the Cincinnati Bengals.

May 24, 1980 – Monroeville, Alabama’s Babe Ruth Baseball Field was officially named “Ronnie Dees Babe Ruth Field” in honor of former Monroe County High School coach Ronnie Dees.

May 24, 1983 - The Brooklyn Bridge's 100th birthday was celebrated.

May 24, 1984 - The Detroit Tigers won their 17th straight road game.

May 24, 1989 – “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” was first released in theaters.

May 24, 1989 - Lee Gutterman of the New York Yankees set a record for pitching 30-2/3 innings before giving up his first run of the season.

May 24, 1990 - Andre Dawson was intentionally walked five times during a game.

May 24, 2000 – “The Ballad of Little River: A Tale of Race and Restless Youth in the Rural South” by Paul Hemphill was released.

May 24, 2001 – Temba Tsheri, a 16-year-old Sherpa, became the youngest person to climb to the top of Mount Everest.

May 24, 2005 – Natalee Ann Holloway, 18, graduated from Mountain Brook High School in Mountain Brook, Ala. Six days later, she would disappear while on a high school graduation trip to Aruba.

May 24, 2006 - The fifth season of "American Idol" ended, and Birmingham, Ala. native Taylor Hicks was voted the winner.

Daily Rainfall Observations from SW Alabama for Sun., May 24, 2015

Rainfall (past 24 hours): 0.00 inches

Week to Date Rainfall: 0.20 inches

Month to Date Rainfall: 3.60 inches

Spring to Date Rainfall: 11.10 inches

Year to Date Rainfall: 20.45 inches

Notes: Today is the 144th day of 2015 and the 66th day of Spring. There are 221 days left in the year.

Readings taken at 0700 hours Central Standard Time (1300 GMT) daily, just west of the Monroe-Conecuh County line and south of U.S. Highway 84, near Excel, Alabama, USA, in the vicinity of Lat 31.42834°N Lon 87.30131°W. Elevation: 400 feet above sea level. CoCoRaHS Station No. AL-MN-4, Station Name: Excel 2.5 ESE.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Singleton remembers the role young soldiers played in America's Civil War

George 'Buster' Singleton
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Young played part in Civil War” was originally published in the May 12, 1988 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

On Sunday, April 17, I traveled to Selma to watch the re-enactment of the battle that was fought there during the dark days of the Civil War.

I went against my better judgement because I felt that I wouldn’t see anything that I didn’t know about already. Not that I think that I’m smarter than most people, but I have studied in detail the events that took place there on the banks of the mighty Alabama River.

As I sat there watching the re-enactment, I noticed that some of the Rebel soldiers were very young. Two or three of the play soldiers seemed to be not over 12 or 14. I thought to myself that these young men were mighty young to be participating in this re-enactment. Even though it was only acting, it could still get quite dangerous.

Then my mind began to push forth certain instances in many battles when there were young men, no older than those before me, who played heroic roles in turning the tide of battle – many from defeat to victory.

Many of these boys soldiers gave their all on the battlefields of this bloody conflict. Many were buried in unmarked graves; many were buried without anyone knowing their names, not even the soldiers who were burying them.

History records that during one of the major battles of Chattanooga, Tenn., the cold, barefoot, slender body of a Tennessee boy, thought to be about 13 or 14, was found by a Union officer. The young, dead soldier’s haversack was examined for its contents. His entire rations were found to be a handful of black beans and six roasted acorns. The story goes on to say that the Union officer wept at the sight of those pitiful rations.

No one knows for sure who was the youngest soldier in the Civil War, but many joined the cause at the early age of 11.

George S. Lamkin of Winona, Miss. joined Stanford’s Mississippi Battery when he was 11. He was severely wounded during the battle of Shiloh, Tenn. before his 12th birthday.

T.G. Bean of Pickensville, Ala. was probably the war’s youngest recruiter. He organized two companies at the University of Alabama in 1861 when he was 13.

One of Francis Scott Key’s grandsons, Billings Steele, swam the Potomac River in the dead of night to join the rangers of John Singleton Mosby. He was not yet 16.

Records show that M.W. Jewett of Oliver Springs, Tenn. was a private in the 59th Virginia Regiment at the age of 13, serving at Charleston, S.C., in Florida and at the siege of Petersburg, Va.

John Bailey Tyler of D Troop, 1st Maryland Cavalry was 12 when the war started. He fought in this regiment until the end of the war, never once wounded.

The dreaded war closed many schools and colleges throughout the South and sent thousands into war. The average ages of these young soldiers to be was about 17. Their average weight was about 130 pounds.

The University of Virginia had 530 young men enrolled from Southern states; when the war started 515 joined the Confederate service.

There were numerous tales of soldiers being too small to climb into their saddles. Many had to be helped onto their horses before charging forth to do battle. There were several who reached the rank of colonel and general who were not old enough to vote until a year after the war ended.

Many of the records of the Confederate Army were destroyed during and after the war, but there are records today that show that there were 25 enlistees for the South who were 10 or under. These were mostly buglers, drummers or fifers. Some were fighters.

Story after story of the hardships that were endured during the dreadful days of this war was at one time passed down through the families of those involved. But over the years, these have been pushed from the minds of the descendants. We tend to rub out the unpleasant events that don’t relate to the nicer happenings that we have grown accustomed to hearing.

I do not believe that we should live in the past, but we as a nation need to know all there is to know about this dreaded war. I believe that we would be a more respected nation in this world of ours today if we had heeded the lessons and the toughness that was intended for us to abide by. Through these lessons, we would stand firm on many of the issues that we take so lightly today in world affairs.

This does not mean that we should go around with a long, sour face and think of nothing but bad things. But we should know the discipline and be able to say “No” when the word is needed.

But then, if I were right all the time and knew all that there was to know, I might be president, and that would never do, would it? So, for now, I leave you with these words…

It will be the same in a hundred years –
What a fantasy to conjure up smiles and tears!
How oft do I muse, ‘mid the thoughtless and gay,
On the marvelous truth that these words convey!
And can it be so? Must the valiant and free
Hold their tenure of life on this frail decree?
Are the truths they’ve reared and the glories they’ve won
Only fantasies and make-believe confronting the sun?
And must all that’s as joyous and brilliant to view
As a midsummer dream be as perishing too?

Then what meaneth the chase after phantom joys,
And the breaking of human hearts for toys,
And the veteran’s pride in his crafty schemes,
And the passion of youth for its darling dreams,
And the aiming at ends we never can span,
And the deadly aversion of man for man?
To what end is this conflict of hopes and fears?
Will it all be the same in a hundred years?


(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)