Camp Courier Header

"It is not merely for today, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children's children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives."


August, 2015


.

.

In this issue

Rally Round the Flag
Secretary's Report
Members attend Cannon Dedication at Capital
The G.A.R. in Michigan
Arsenal Explosion - 1862
A new Past Commander is named
Michigan Money
Upcoming events
Back Issues
A photo from the Civil War



Austin Blair Camp No. 7
Gets a new Past Camp Commander

At our regular meeting on August 10th, in recognition of almost thirteen years of dedicated and loyal service to the Austin Blair Camp as its treasurer, members of the camp presented Brother Mike Maillard with a Past Camp Commander badge. The presentation was made by our esteemed guest, PCinC Keith Harrison, and PDC Paul Davis. Thank you to both of you gentlemen, for assisting us with this.

Congratulations PCC Maillard and thank you for all of your hard work, your dedication to your Brothers, your Camp, your Order, and all of our ancestors in Keeping Green the Memory, of the Boys in Blue.

Return to the top of the page.


Members attend Cannon Dedication
at the State Capital.

On the 8th of August, members of camp No. 7, our Auxiliary, several other camps within the Department of Michigan, the 14th Michigan Sons of Veterans Reserve, re-enactors from the 5th and 7th Michigan, and Battery D, 1st Michigan Light Artillery all joined together in a dedication returning the cannon of the Loomis Battery to the lawn of the State Capital.

The Loomis Battery, from Coldwater, served with distinction during the Civil War in many of the largest battles in the West. The original cannon were part of that battery but it is believed that the guns were donated during scrap drives in WWII. Over the last two years money has been raised to return replica cannon to the Capital lawn. During the ceremony the Colors were presented by the 14th Michigan SVR, and a cannon volley was fired by Battery D,
1st Michigan Light Artillery.

Thanks to all who put this event together, and for allowing us to honor our ancestors as well as all the Boys in Blue. Thank you also to Sister Connie Horning for sharing her photos of this event.

Return to the top of the page.


Michigan Money

At the time of the Civil War many banks printed their own money.
Below is an example of one of those bills..

Return to the top of the page.


.


Arsenal Explosion 1862
By Marylynne Pitz Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On the warm afternoon of Sept. 17, 1862, as the Civil War's single bloodiest day of fighting raged at the battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Md., 156 women worked feverishly at the U.S. Allegheny Arsenal in Lawrenceville to make ammunition for Union troops.

Inside a single-story frame building called the laboratory, women driven by a dire need to earn extra money in an inflated economy bent over tables, using their nimble fingers to roll, pinch, tie and bundle rifle cartridges filled with bullets and black powder. Along with several boys, they turned out 128,000 cartridges a day at the arsenal, which stretched from Penn Avenue to the Allegheny River.

These plucky workers, many of them Irish immigrants and some as young as 14, gossiped or relayed grim family news from the battlefields while the repetitive tasks stiffened their backs and turned their eyes bleary with fatigue. They earned 50 cents to $1.10 per day.

Around 2 p.m., Joseph Frick was delivering wooden barrels of DuPont gunpowder in a horse-drawn wagon up a new stone road. Rachel Dunlap, an employee, saw a spark flash near one of the horse's hooves (clad in iron shoes) and the iron-bound wagon wheel. Then she saw a sheet of flame.

Three thunderous explosions followed, just a few minutes apart, destroying the laboratory and blowing human beings to bits. Panic-stricken workers ran from buildings as the air filled with clouds of smoke and the acrid odors of sulfur and burning flesh. Ultimately, 78 people perished in Pittsburgh's deadliest industrial accident and the Civil War's worst civilian disaster, which happened 150 years ago Monday.

Sixty years later, Mary McCandless McGraw, who worked at the arsenal with her sister, Elizabeth, recalled that horrific day to George T. Fleming of the Pittsburgh Gazette Times:
"There was a great hurry for ammunition on account of the battle of Antietam, then being fought, and orders from Washington were to rush ammunition with all possible speed to the front," said Mrs. McGraw, whose job was to bundle cartridges into packs.

It was pay day, but the women did not break for lunch until 1 p.m. and received their wage statements afterward. "At 2 o'clock another girl and I were the only persons in Room 13. The other girls were in another building getting their pay and in the yard. Suddenly there was a terrific roar. The earth seemed to split apart," Mrs. McGraw said.

Her co-worker jumped through a window and Mrs. McGraw followed, landing on top of her in the grass. While the two women ran toward Butler Street, they heard a second explosion, then a third.

"Looking around we saw the building we had just left being torn to pieces," Mrs. McGraw said. Phillip McKenny was burned beyond recognition and identified only by his false teeth. George D. Clouse, superintendent of the cylinder departments, died along with his daughter, Emma, an employee.

Alexander McBride, 44, superintendant of operations, escaped from his office through a window and tried to rescue his 14-year-old daughter Kate. Instead, he watched a flaming ceiling fall on the room where she worked. After making his way to a powder magazine and closing its door to prevent more explosions, he spent the rest of the day helping the wounded. Ministers, neighbors, friends and relatives raced to the scene along with firefighters in horse-drawn wagons. The 34-acre complex became a grim public morgue with bodies laid out on wooden planks.

A reporter for The Pittsburgh Evening Chronicle described hearing "agonizing screams of relatives and friends upon discovering the remains of some loved one whose humble earnings contributed to their comfort. ... There was not a particle of clothing left on a majority of the victims, and mangled and disjointed as they were it was impossible to identify them. The very stockings were torn from their feet, rings from their fingers, and in some instances nothing but a headless trunk remained. Nevertheless, many were identified by their hair, by a scrap of the dress they wore, but the greatest number never can be fully recognized."

Workers had warned managers about the potential for disaster; they believed the new stone road increased the risk for an explosion. "Workers said the road was too hard and would strike sparks and advocated for softer stone," said Charles McCollester, a retired local labor historian and author of "The Point of Pittsburgh."

The workers' boss, McBride, had complained to superiors that DuPont's insistence on recycling its wooden powder barrels led to loose-fitting lids and spills. Trained as a cooper to make wooden barrels, McBride knew their limitations.

He ordered that wood chips, sawdust and cinders be spread over the stone to prevent sparks. But his superior, Colonel John Symington, insisted that it all be swept away. (Some people disliked Symington because his son joined the Confederate army, and his daughter shocked people at a Lawrenceville church service by wearing a Confederate rosette)

On the afternoon of Sept. 18, unidentified remains rested in 39 black coffins provided by the U.S. government. The mayors of Pittsburgh and Lawrenceville, along with clergy and council members, watched as each coffin was lowered into a vast, common grave donated by Allegheny Cemetery. Father Gibbs of St. Mary Church wanted to attend but had to preside over the simultaneous burial of 15 explosion victims in nearby St. Mary Cemetery.

McBride, an Irish Catholic immigrant, attended the graveside service at St. Mary Cemetery; a larger crowd attended a Protestant service where an array of ministers spoke, including the Rev. Richard Lea.

Lea, pastor of the Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church, addressed mourners. Three of his congregants died in the explosion. Among them was David Gilliland, whom he called "a man of warm, modest piety." Lea also recalled two sisters, Agnes and Mary Davison.

"Agnes Davison told me, the last time I saw her, that she was for the Union, and that she would no longer be a secessionist from the government of God, and would testify her love to Jesus and the church at our next Communion. Mary Davison, a younger sister, left her home that morning singing a beautiful hymn," the pastor said. Despite his daughter's death, McBride remained at the arsenal through 1865. In later years, he often reminded people that 1,000 local residents had petitioned the U.S. Congress to appropriate $30,000 to compensate victims of the explosion but the request was denied.

McBride's training as a cooper was valuable, said Juanita Leisch Jensen, author of "Who Wore What: Women's Wear 1861-1865."

"When you re-use a keg, the lid no longer fits as tightly. That's what McBride thought. So when you read that prior to the explosion he had complained about the loose-fitting lids on the kegs of the powder, the fact that he's a cooper ... lends credibility to his complaint."

The coroner's jury blamed McBride and his subordinates for negligence, while a military tribunal cleared his superior, Symington, of any fault. Afterward, Ms. Jensen noted, Symington retired from the military while McBride remained on the job at the arsenal.

"They retired Symington and kept McBride," Ms. Jensen said. "That speaks loudly."

Return to the top of the page.


Secretary's Report
Ron Tyrl PPC

The August 10, 2015 meeting of the Austin Blair Camp No.7 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War was held at the Post 29 American Legion, Jackson, Michigan.

Members in attendance were Brothers: Chris Cox, Joe Davis, Bob Griggs, Henry Hawker, Kim Horning, Dave Kimble, Howard Lloyd, Mike Maillard, Nathan Tingley, Ron Tyrl, Dave Van Hoof, Charlie Waters III and Charlie Waters Jr. Guest: PDC Paul Davis & Eaton Rapid's GAR Momorial Hall and Museum, PCinC Keith Harrison.

The Secretary's report was motioned accepted as published in the Courier by Brother Cox and seconded by Brother Kimble, motion passed.
The Treasurer's Report was motioned accepted as presented by Brother Griggs and seconded by Brother Davis, motion passed.

Patriotic Instructor

Brother Davis recommended the book, "Marching Home Union Veterans and their Unending Civil War" again and he also brought in other books for distribution to the Camp members.

Graves Registration

Brother Waters III reported that he continues to do research for inquiries with the most recent not successfully connected to the family of the inquirer.
Also Brother Waters asked the trivia question: How many Bothers of Wyatt Earp served in the Civil War? Three was the correct answer and Wyatt was too young to be able to serve even though he tried but his parents intervened.

Signals

1. Brother Griggs has updated the 2015 website & Facebook pages with our latest event being the Lansing, Michigan "Cannon Dedication" and this day in history items.

Old Business

1. The Registration form for the Central Region Conference October 2-3 was reviewed.
2. Auxiliary Karen Hamann is chairing the fund raising for the National Encampment being held in Michigan in 2017 and she's requesting items for displaying at the Encampment scheduled to be held in Lansing.

New Business

1. Brother Keith Harrison answered questions on this year's "Jackson Muster". The camp will be in the usual position: in the Band Shell and tenting on the Hill. Brother Cox is the point of contact for this event.
2. Brother Van Hoof reported that the Jackson County Republican Committee is researching Jackson's claim as the "Birthplace of the Republican Party" and the committee is looking into the purchase of the adjacent property to the "Under the Oaks" site.
3. Treasurer Maillard motioned to donate half of the Concord Muster check of $300 sent to the camp for its participation to the Auxiliary, seconded by Brother Cox, motion passed.
4. Brother Waters III passed around an original badge from the "Under the Oaks" from the 19th Century.

For the Good of the Order

Events up-coming:

1. August 19, Wednesday, GAR Museum's Soldier's School Camp.
2. August 23-24, Saturday-Sunday, Jackson Muster.
3. September 12-13, Saturday-Sunday, Grass Lake's "Heritage Festival."
4. September 17, Thursday, Tipton, Michigan's Franklin Cemetery "Civil War Cemetery Walk".
5. October 2-3, 2015 Central Region Assoc. of Allied Orders "Annual Conference". Event held
at Dundee, Michigan and more details as event nears. 6. October 3, Saturday, Eaton Rapid's "Miller Farm" Event
7. October 11, Sunday, Waterloo Pioneer Days Farm Fest.
6. December 13, second Sunday, Camp Christmas Party.

Commander Waters proceeded to close the meeting at 8:05pm and our next camp meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 14th, to be held at Post 29 American Legion, Jackson, Michigan and Author Mike Culp will be speaking at the September meeting. Also the manual of Arms training will be taking place 15 minutes prior to the start of our meeting. If you wish to take part in this training bring your musket, belt and bayonet.

Return to the top of the page.


.

.

.

Upcoming Events

August: 2015
Austin Blair Camp No. 7Auxiliary
Saturday August 8, State Capital; Lansing, MI

Return of Loomis Cannon to State Capitol Lawn. Time to be determined
Monday August 10, 7 p.m.

Austin Blair Camp Meeting. American Legion Post 29,
3200 Lansing Ave. Jackson MI. ( Visitors welcome).
Wednesday, 19, - Sunday 23 Richmond, VA.

Natinal Encampment


Saturday 22 & Sunday 23, All day Jackson

Jackson Annual Civil War Muster.
Look for us in the band shell.

Saturday August 8, State Capital; Lansing, MI

Return of Loomis Cannon to State Capitol Lawn. Time to be determined
Monday August 10, 7 p.m.

Austin Blair Camp Meeting. American Legion Post 29,
3200 Lansing Ave. Jackson MI. ( Visitors welcome).
Wednesday, 19, - Sunday 23 Richmond, VA.

Natinal Encampment


Saturday 22 & Sunday 23, All day Jackson

Jackson Annual Civil War Muster.
Look for us in the band shell.

Return to the top of the page.


September: 2015
Austin Blair Camp No. 7Auxiliary
Saturday September 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Grass Lake

Grass Lake Heritage Day Festival


Monday September 14, 7 p.m.

Austin Blair Camp Meeting. American Legion Post 29,
3200 Lansing Ave. Jackson MI. ( Visitors welcome)
Tuesday, September 15, 6:30 - 8 p.m.

Civil War Round Table, Meijer Branch Jackson District Library.

Saturday September 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Grass Lake

Grass Lake Heritage Day Festival


Monday September 14, 7 p.m.

Austin Blair Camp Meeting. American Legion Post 29,
3200 Lansing Ave. Jackson MI. ( Visitors welcome).
Tuesday, September 15, 6:30 - 8 p.m.

Civil War Round Table, Meijer Branch Jackson District Library.

Return to the top of the page.

October: 2015
Austin Blair Camp No. 7Auxiliary
Saturday October 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eaton Rapids

Fall Heritage Festival at the Miller Farm. Located at 635 State Street, Eaton Rapids Michigan


Friday - Saturday October 2 - 3 - Dundee

Central Region Association of the Allied Orders Annual Conference.
Hospitality Friday evening, Conference/tour/banquet Saturday.


Sunday October 11, Noon - 5 p.m. Waterloo

Waterloo Farm Museum Pioneer Day. 13493 Waterloo-Munith Rd., Waterloo Michigan<


Monday October 12, 7 p.m.

Austin Blair Camp Meeting. American Legion Post 29,
3200 Lansing Ave. Jackson MI. ( Visitors welcome).
Tuesday, October 13, 6:30 - 8 p.m.

Civil War Round Table, Meijer Branch Jackson District Library.

Saturday October 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eaton Rapids

Fall Heritage Festival at the Miller Farm. Located at 635 State Street, Eaton Rapids


Friday - Saturday October 2 - 3 - Dundee

Central Region Association of the Allied Orders Annual Conference.
Hospitality Friday evening, Conference/tour/banquet Saturday.


Sunday October 11, Noon - 5 p.m. Waterloo

Waterloo Farm Museum Pioneer Day. 13493 Waterloo-Munith Rd., Waterloo Michigan


Monday October 12, 7 p.m.

Austin Blair Camp Meeting. American Legion Post 29,
3200 Lansing Ave. Jackson MI. ( Visitors welcome).
Tuesday, October 13, 6:30 - 8 p.m.

Civil War Round Table, Meijer Branch Jackson District Library.

Return to the top of the page.



.

CLICK HERE TO SEE BACK ISSUES



A blockhouse on the Chattanooga and Nashville Railroad.

Return to the top of the page.



Grand Rapids Soldiers Home 1910.


Return to the top of the page.

.

Return to Austin Blair home page.