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Karen Stokes

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An Englishman Meets General Jackson

Henry Wemyss Feilden, born in England in 1838, was the younger son of Sir William Feilden, a baronet. Young Henry entered the British Army, and after serving in India and China for a number of years, he decided to resign his commission and volunteer for service in the army of the Confederate States of America. On a winter night in…
Karen Stokes
January 20, 2023
Blog

The Political Economy and Social Thought of Louisa S. McCord

From the 2011 Abbeville Institute Summer School. The name of the lady I'm introducing today, the Southern intellectual Louisa Susanna Cheves McCord, or as she's usually called, Louisa S. McCord, is generally not well known today. In the antebellum era she was the author of numerous essays on political economy and social issues. Her other writings included poetry, reviews, and…
Karen Stokes
November 30, 2022
BlogReview Posts

Blacks in Gray

A Review of Blacks in Gray Uniforms (Arcadia, 2018) by Phillip Thomas Tucker South Carolina Confederate history is my area of research, so I was interested to come across the book Blacks in Gray Uniforms, which gives information on some black Confederate soldiers from the Palmetto State, and I wanted to bring it to the attention of the readers of…
Karen Stokes
May 18, 2022
Blog

South Carolina in 1865

There is nothing new under the sun, but there are things which have lain undiscovered, forgotten, or neglected, and these can be brought to light. In my new book South Carolina in 1865, I have collected unpublished, obscure, and neglected records which document events and conditions in the Palmetto State during the last year of the war. The most cataclysmic…
Karen Stokes
February 23, 2022
Blog

Southern Orthodoxy

A review of Preachers with Power: Four Stalwarts of the South (Banner of Truth, 1992) by Douglas F. Kelly I first became aware of Douglas F. Kelly through some videos on YouTube in which he was interviewed about his recent book Creation and Change, a defense of the book of Genesis as authentic history. His erudition and his manner (that…
Karen Stokes
May 4, 2021
Blog

Our Other Man in Charleston

Published in 2016, the book Our Man in Charleston tells the story of Robert Bunch (1820-1881), the British consul in Charleston, South Carolina, who is described in the subtitle as “Britain’s Secret Agent.”Bunch was not, for the most part, a secret agent, but he did somewhat covertly keep his government informed about conditions and developments in South Carolina. In correspondence…
Karen Stokes
March 25, 2021
Blog

Total War in Georgia

In June 1863, Fitzgerald Ross, a British military man who was collecting information about the war in America, paid a visit to Richmond, Virginia, the capital city of the Confederacy. There he met with some high officials of the government, one of whom was Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin. Ross described their meeting his 1865 book A Visit to…
Karen Stokes
March 2, 2021
Blog

A Night to Remember

The diary of Emma LeConte is one of the best known documents chronicling the sack and destruction of Columbia, South Carolina. On February 17, 1865, the city surrendered to the besieging army of General William T. Sherman. His soldiers pillaged the city throughout the day and in the evening set fires that would destroy much of the place. Emma LeConte’s…
Karen Stokes
February 17, 2021
Blog

A [r]epublican in Exile

In Washington, D.C., while serving as Secretary of War in the 1850s, Jefferson Davis met Ambrose Dudley Mann, a native of Virginia who was the Assistant Secretary of State (and the first man to hold that office). The two men were drawn to each other immediately and became fast friends for the rest of their lives. In her biography of…
Karen Stokes
November 5, 2020
Blog

A Forgotten Spiritual Hero

Daniel Baker (1791-1857) is all but forgotten today, but in the first half of the nineteenth century this Presbyterian minister was a well-known and profoundly influential evangelist in America.  Born in Midway, Georgia, he was educated at Hampden Sydney College in Virginia and at Princeton.  He held several pastorates, including one in Savannah, Georgia, but spent most of his life…
Karen Stokes
March 11, 2020
Blog

The South’s Gifts to Posterity

What does the South have to offer that is valuable to humanity, to civilization? In 1939, the Pulitzer prize-winning historian Douglas Southall Freeman proposed an answer to this question in his book The South to Posterity. He subtitled it An Introduction to the Writing of Confederate History, but it was something more than that. In presenting the works of Confederate…
Karen Stokes
September 25, 2019
Blog

We the People of South Carolina….

William Plumer Jacobs (1842-1917), a native of Yorkville, South Carolina, was a Presbyterian minister and scholar whose entire life has been called “a singular consecration to work and service in behalf of his fellow men.” He is closely identified with the town of Clinton, where he pastored a church and founded the Thornwell Orphanage and the Presbyterian College of South…
Karen Stokes
December 20, 2018
Blog

The Spirit of ’61

The bloody conflict of 1861 to 1865 is often called the Civil War, but most Southerners regarded it as a war for independence and self-government. Many if not most Confederate soldiers and officers who fought in it had fathers or grandfathers who served in the first American war of independence, and they were mindful of their heritage. Southerners were proud…
Karen Stokes
July 4, 2018
Blog

A Bloodless Victory

Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, is known as the place where the “Civil War” began. The South is normally portrayed as the aggressor, the side which fired the “first shot,” and is thus given the blame for starting the war. The whole truth is, however, that the governments of South Carolina and the Confederate States of America made repeated…
Karen Stokes
April 16, 2018
Blog

Northern Lies about the Burning of Columbia

When you hear or read about the burning of Columbia, General Sherman’s principal target in South Carolina, you are often told that the origin of the fire is a historical mystery that can't be conclusively solved, or that the fires were actually initiated by the evacuating Confederate troops, or even by the citizens of Columbia themselves—none of which is true.…
Karen Stokes
February 15, 2018
Blog

The Timely Wisdom of Robert Lewis Dabney

Many of the destructive ideas and “isms” of our century in America had their roots in the 18th and 19th centuries, and a number of Southern writers and clergymen recognized their nature and warned against them. Among these men was Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898) of Virginia, one of the South’s great Presbyterian thinkers.  He was the author of a number…
Karen Stokes
March 13, 2017
Blog

Union or Else

In 1864, General William T. Sherman wrote to a fellow Union officer that the “false political doctrine that any and every people have a right to self-government” was the cause of the war that had been raging in America since 1861. The general was forgetting, or ignoring, that this very “doctrine” had led the American colonists to declare their independence…
Karen Stokes
February 17, 2017
Review Posts

The Conversation Club of Charleston

This essay was presented at the 2016 Abbeville Institute Summer School.   When I was young I used to read a lot of books about archaeology—the study of ancient lost worlds and civilizations. I never got to study archaeology, but I became an archivist, and I suppose my job is a little like field archaeology—except that I work indoors, in air-conditioned…
Karen Stokes
December 21, 2016
Blog

A Southern Saint

William Porcher DuBose of South Carolina is not well known today, but in the early 20th century, he achieved fame in America and abroad as an Episcopal theologian and author. He was born in Winnsboro, S.C., in 1836, and his father, a wealthy, well-educated planter, saw to it that his intellectually gifted son received a fine education. After attending schools…
Karen Stokes
December 15, 2016
Blog

More Secession Theology: Thomas Smyth of Charleston

Lately there has been mention of Dr. Thomas Smyth in two Abbeville Institute blog and review posts, namely, “The Theology of Secession” by M. E. Bradford, and “What Lincoln's Election Meant to the South” by Bradley J. Birzer. Having written about this Charleston clergyman in an upcoming book, I thought our readers might be interested in learning a little more…
Karen Stokes
June 23, 2016
Blog

“Don’t Leave Me Here to Bleed to Death!”

The most recent issue of Hallowed Ground, a publication of the Civil War Trust, features an 1863 photograph of several Confederate soldiers laid out in shallow graves—casualties of the fighting at Gettysburg. This picture is like many of the grim photographs of the war dead, but what makes it unusual is that one of the soldiers has been identified. Two…
Karen Stokes
May 11, 2016
Blog

Sherman’s Army in North Carolina

Some historians have suggested that General William T. Sherman's terror campaign through the deep South came to an end when his troops crossed the state line into North Carolina, and some of his officers are on record noting a pronounced change in the conduct of their soldiers. It is true that North Carolina did not see the scale of ruthless…
Karen Stokes
April 14, 2016
Blog

Reconstruction in South Carolina

In 1872, Daniel W. Voorhees, a Congressman of Indiana, made a speech in the U.S. House of Representatives in which he described conditions in the South after the war, during the period (laughingly) known as “Reconstruction.”  He accused the United States government, under the control of the Republican Party, of plundering and slandering the conquered Southern states, sending “powerful missionaries…
Karen Stokes
February 8, 2016
Review Posts

The Immortals

THE IMMORTALS: A STORY OF LOVE AND WAR In 1861, as a deadly conflict looms between North and South, Charleston sits like a queen upon the waters—beautiful, proud and prosperous—and no native son loves her more than George Taylor. A successful Broad Street lawyer, Taylor has won the heart of an enchanting young woman and looks forward to a brilliant…
Karen Stokes
December 29, 2015
Blog

A Tale of Two Plantations

In the 1850s, Ann Pamela Cunningham, a frail woman from South Carolina, was responsible for preserving the plantation home of George Washington, founding the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, an organization which still maintains this historic site. Thanks to her efforts, Mount Vernon remained virtually untouched during the War for Southern Independence. Arlington Plantation, the beautiful Virginia home of Robert E.…
Karen Stokes
December 21, 2015
Blog

The Queen City Humbled

In 1865, a writer for Harper’s New Monthly Magazine described Charleston, South Carolina, contrasting her condition before the war, and after four years of siege, blockade and bombardment: Not many years ago, Charleston sat like a queen upon the waters, her broad and beautiful bay covered with the sails of every nation, and her great export, cotton, affording employment to…
Karen Stokes
October 23, 2015
Review Posts

Destruction of the City of Columbia, South Carolina: A Poem by a Lady of Georgia. A True Statement of Facts.

About the author: Elizabeth Otis Marshall Dannelly (1838-1896), a native of Madison, Georgia, was a published poet significant enough to be included in the book Living Writers of the South (1869). During the War Between the States, she lived in Columbia, South Carolina, where her husband Dr. Francis Olin Dannelly (1823-1880) was on duty as Chief Surgeon. Mrs. Dannelly was…
Karen Stokes
September 15, 2015
Blog

The “Hawaiian Prophet” from South Carolina

South Carolina is not known for great surfing, but a native son named Alexander Hume Ford (1868-1945) is credited with the revival, preservation, and promotion of that sport. The scion of an old South Carolina family, he was the son of Georgetown County planter Frederick W. Ford (1817-1872) and Mary Mazyck Hume. His mother died at the time of his…
Karen Stokes
July 16, 2015
Blog

A Lady Champion of Free Trade

In her famous diary, Mary Chesnut called Mrs. Louisa S. McCord “the very cleverest woman” she knew. Of these two women from South Carolina, Chesnut is the most famous and widely read today, but Mrs. McCord—far more than clever—was a force to be reckoned with in her own time. In the antebellum era, she was the author of a number…
Karen Stokes
June 19, 2015
Blog

Agony at Appomattox

Promoted over four senior captains just a few days shy of his nineteenth birthday, James R. Hagood was the youngest full colonel in the Army of Northern Virginia. A native of Barnwell, South Carolina, he began his Confederate military service as a private. His promotions were made for acts of gallantry which earned him the commendations of Generals Bratton, Field,…
Karen Stokes
April 9, 2015
Blog

John Mitchel: Irish Confederate

John Mitchel (1815-1875) was a fiery Irish nationalist who was convicted of treason by the British in 1848 and transported first to Bermuda and then to a penal colony in Australia, from which he escaped in 1853. After Mitchel and his family settled in America, he continued his nationalist activism by founding a radical Irish newspaper in New York, denouncing…
Karen Stokes
March 17, 2015
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February 1865: The Invasion Continues

On February 5, 1865, the last of General Sherman’s troops crossed the Savannah River into South Carolina. That same day, soldiers of the 14th Corps burned the village of Robertville. Determined to punish the “original secessionists,” an army of over 60,000 was now making its way through the Palmetto State on a mission of destruction and pillage. On February 7,…
Karen Stokes
February 16, 2015
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The Invasion Begins

By mid- January 1865, General Sherman’s campaign in South Carolina had begun in earnest. Some of his forces began moving through the parishes of Beaufort District at this time, and one of their first targets was the village of Hardeeville, where troops of the 20th Corps arrived on January 17th. During their days there, they burned down or tore apart…
Karen Stokes
January 30, 2015
Blog

The Cruel Winter of 1865 in South Carolina

January 2015 ushers in the last year of the sesquicentennial of the War for Southern Independence. One hundred and fifty years ago, the first month of 1865 was the beginning of a cruel and catastrophic winter for the state of South Carolina. Having completed his destructive march through Georgia, General William T. Sherman took possession of the coastal city of…
Karen Stokes
January 7, 2015
Blog

The Lady Who Saved Mount Vernon

Born in 1816, Ann Pamela Cunningham was raised at Rosemont, a plantation on the Saluda River in Laurens County, South Carolina.  At the age of seventeen, she suffered an injury to her spine when she was thrown from a horse and was crippled for the rest of her life.  In 1853, when she was 37 years of age, she was…
Karen Stokes
December 18, 2014
Blog

Conduct of the Northern Army

Lately, media outlets have been giving some attention to the 150th anniversary of General William T. Sherman’s infamous march through Georgia that took place in 1864, minimizing, of course, the barbarity and criminality of his campaign. You only have to read the letters and diaries written at the time of the actual events to learn the truth of the matter,…
Karen Stokes
November 28, 2014
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Our Danger and Our Duty

Acclaimed in his time as the “Calhoun of the Church,” James Henley Thornwell was a prominent Presbyterian clergyman of South Carolina and one of the state’s greatest men in the nineteenth century. Like many Southerners, he cherished the Union, but came to accept the necessity of secession. Before he died in 1862, in one of his last writings, Our Danger…
Karen Stokes
November 11, 2014
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Siege of Spite

By October 1864, the city of Charleston, South Carolina had been undergoing a bombardment for over a year. The Federal forces were in full possession of nearby Morris Island, and had all but neutralized Fort Sumter’s offensive capabilities. During the previous summer, Union batteries near Morris Island began sending their deadly fire into Charleston, the first attack on the city…
Karen Stokes
October 23, 2014
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The Crime of William Dougherty

During the War Between the States, thousands of Americans were incarcerated for political reasons in various Northern prisons without due process of law. One of these Americans, Rev. Isaac W. K. Handy, kept a diary during his fifteen months of confinement at Fort Delaware, Delaware, and in it he sheds light on a particularly interesting fellow prisoner there. In his…
Karen Stokes
October 7, 2014
Blog

Hell At Pea Patch Island

After the War Between the States began, President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus, and during the course of the conflict, thousands of citizens (mostly Northerners) were arrested and incarcerated in various prisons without due process. Thomas DiLorenzo, author of Lincoln Unmasked, wrote that “virtually anyone who opposed administration policies in any way was threatened with imprisonment without…
Karen Stokes
September 19, 2014
Blog

The Immortal 600

Because of the 1989 movie Glory, many Americans know of the battle on Morris Island in 1863 in which the black soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment fought. Very few people, however, are aware of their participation in another wartime event on this barren, sandy piece of land in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, after Federal forces gained control…
Karen Stokes
August 29, 2014
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Miss Pinckney’s Constitutional Catechism

Maria Henrietta Pinckney (1782-1836) of South Carolina was the daughter of General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, an officer in the Continental Army and a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Maria lost her mother at an early age and was educated at home by her famous grandmother, Eliza Lucas Pinckney. In 1830, during the nullification controversy, Miss Pinckney published a widely…
Karen Stokes
August 22, 2014
Blog

Why the South Seceded

Writing in 1913, historian Nathaniel Wright Stephenson explained the political situation in America thus: “It is almost impossible to-day to realize the state of the country in the year 1860. The bad feeling between the two sections, all came to a head, and burst into fury, over the episode of John Brown.” In The Declaration of the Immediate Causes issued…
Karen Stokes
August 5, 2014
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Why Vicksburg Canceled the Fourth of July – For a Generation

From May through early July 1863, Vicksburg, Mississippi, a strategically important city on the Mississippi River, was besieged by Federal forces under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant, and by a flotilla of gunboats in the river commanded by Admiral David Porter. The city was surrounded by outlying Confederate lines of defense, but the Union forces also shelled the…
Karen Stokes
July 2, 2014