7 Strange Facts & Stories About The American Civil War

80 Years After The Civil War Ended, Confederate Ammunition Killed Two Soldiers

7 Strange Facts Concerning The Civil War

Burke Davis Civil WarTens of thousands of books have been written about the American Civil War. The book that I recently read was not a penetrating analysis of a battle or biography of a soldier. Rather it was a book containing some unusual stories about the Civil War. Well written and researched, I think a small portion of the book is worth sharing here.

In no particular order here are 7 quick stories from the book The Civil War Strange & Fascinating Facts by Burke Davis, Fairfax Press (1982) (previously published as Our Incredible Civil War, 1960):

1- Ancient Fort Macon on the North Carolina coast was occupied by US troops in World War II, for the first time since its capture from Confederates in 1862. Fireplaces provided the only heat, and some unsuspecting soldiers rolled cannon balls into0 position as andirons, mistaking them for solid iron shot. ‘The powder-filled balls exploded, killing two men and injuring others.
A syndicated newspaper cartoon headlined the tragedy:

CONFEDERATE SHELL KILLS TWO YANKEE SOLDIERS
80 YEARS After It Was Fired

2- A young Confederate officer, Captain S. Isadore Guillet, was fatally shot on the same horse on which three of his brothers had been previously killed. He willed the animal to a nephew as he died.

3- Federal ordnance men turned down the Spencer repeating breech-loading rifle in 1860, and did not get it into the hands of troops in quantity until near the end of the war. The theory for their refusal: Soldiers would fire too fast, and waste ammunition.

4- Firing on both sides was so inaccurate that soldiers estimated it took a man’s weight in lead to kill a single enemy in battle.  A Federal expert said that each Confederate who was shot required 240 pounds of powder and 8oo pounds of lead.

5- As the war’s centennial (1961) approached, sales of Confederate flags rivaled those of Old Glory. Many of America’s World War II enemies could recall the strange Stars and Bars which had flown in battle. As long ago as 1942 a Marine fighter squadron on Guadalcanal had billed itself as CONFORSOLS (Confederate Forces of the Solomons)

6- Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth was hardly dead before legends sprang up. At least twenty men in the in the two generations afterward claimed to be Booth. One, bearing the aliases John St. Helen and David E. George, was a suicide in Enid, Oklahoma, in 1903. He told friends he was the escaped Booth. His body was taken to Memphis, Tennessee, by a believer, and for many years was exhibited as a mummy in shows touring the country.

An eminent Southern minister, the Reverend J.G. Armstrong, was thought by members of his congregations in Richmond and Atlanta to be Booth; and Edwin Booth, brother of John, was said to have been so stunned by the resemblance between Armstrong and his brother as to seek a private audience with him. The preacher died in 1891, but he lives in legend, with many believers convinced of his role in Lincoln’s tragic end.

7- There is the disquieting tale of one Joe Keno, a Frenchman who served as a Confederate cook, but grew weary of the chore and retired. He was saved from the role of combatant be-
cause of his foreign birth, but became a purveyor of fresh meat to army camps. He allegedly provided lamb and kid, but in truth, by camp rumor, the meat he brought for the sustenance of
Southern valor was invariably dog.

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