FBI on the scene where legendary Civil War treasure of $54 million in gold may be buried

In June 1863, a Union shipment of 52 bars of gold now worth $54 million was said to be lost near Dents Run, Pennsylvania. Over the years, many treasure hunters have tried to locate the cache but the area is state land and it's illegal to dig without permission. Apparently though, FBI agents and state officials were just seen digging in the area. From CNN:

FBI spokeswoman Carrie Adamowski wouldn't say what the agency was doing there, only that FBI personnel were "carrying out court-authorized law enforcement activity in Elk County." She declined further comment to CNN.

But WJAC says their cameras spotted the owners of Finders Keepers USA, a Pennsylvania-based lost treasure recovery service, last Tuesday at the site some 135 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Finders Keepers has long been interested in the rumored Dents Run gold. In a post on the Finders Keepers site, founder Dennis Parada says he found a map of the treasure in the 1970s and searched the area unsuccessfully with metal detectors until 2004, when he uncovered a trove of Civil War-era artifacts that they turned over to the state.

"Each time we returned to the site we found more evidence that proved our claim. We found a bullet shell, knifes, animal traps, zinc mason jar lid, tin cans, bones (human or animal), whiskey bottle, camp fire pit, and a lot more ..." Parada wrote. He also claimed his high-powered metal detectors located "a large metal object" 8 to 10 feet underground.

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April Ryan asks Sarah Huckabee-Sanders if the White House thinks slavery is wrong

Huckabee-Sanders smirks and walks off after being repeatedly asked if "this administration thinks slavery is wrong?" by journalist April Ryan.

In support of White House Chief of Staff Kelly's repetition of erroneous racist talking points about the American Civil War, the White House has said it is "disgraceful" to question Kelly's comments.

I hope April Ryan, and every other journalist not sent to that room by Rupert Murdoch, keeps asking. Read the rest

The Tombstone House was built with 2200 discarded gravestones

I bet this Petersburg, Virginia home is the last place local trick-or-treating children want to hit up for candy on Halloween.

The Tombstone House" was built in 1934 using the lower half of marble tombstones procured from Poplar Grove, the nearby Civil War cemetery. There are 2,200 discarded headstones in total, all from Union soldiers.

Atlas Obscura shares the house's story:

The soldiers all died in the siege of Petersburg, which lasted for nine months at the end of the Civil War... After their original wooden grave markers rotted away, the government installed upright marble headstones to take their place.

However, during the Great Depression, maintaining the cemetery and the headstones suffered because of scant funding. The city decided to cut the tombstones in half and lay the top halves, which were engraved with the soldiers’ details, on the ground so they no longer stood erect. These makeshift flat graves saved money on mowing and maintenance costs.

The bottom halves of 2,200 slain tombstones were then sold for the princely sum of $45. Their new owner, Oswald Young, used them to build his house, chimney, and walkway...

The house is located at 1736 Youngs Road in Petersburg, Virginia.

Thanks, Greg Wright! Read the rest

Walt Whitman was into paleo and wrote a “Manly Health and Training” guide with sex tips

Leaves of Grass? He probably ate them now and then.

A scholar at the University of Houston in Texas has discovered a 13-part, 47,000-word series by Walt Whitman, published by the New York Atlas in 1858, under the pseudonym Mose Velsor.

Under that most macho of aliases, “Manly Health and Training” amounts to a "part guest editorial, part self-help column," a “rambling and self-indulgent series” that reveals Walt Whitman's thoughts on a variety of manly-man topics. Including sex. Read the rest

Words about slavery that we should all stop using

"Plantation" = "labor camp"; "slave-owner" = "enslaver"; "Union troops" = "US troops." Read the rest

The US Civil War was fought over slavery

Why did the South fight? Why does this question remain controversial? Read the rest

Busting the myth that the Civil War was about "states' rights"

Confederate Flag wavers claim the the Civil War was all about "states' rights," not slavery. But in this video Colonel Ty Seidule, head of the history department at the US Military Academy at West Point, offers plenty of evidence that this isn't the case. For example, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens wrote "Our new government was founded on slavery." And slave states were happy to bow to federal law when it benefited them:

From Vox:

Mississippi once complained that New York's notion of states' rights was too strong — because it prevented Mississippi slaveowners from bringing their slaves up North. This war wasn't about the principle of federal power; it was about the threat that the federal government might eventually use that power to abolish slavery.

Ultimately, Seidule's point boils down to something very simple: Be honest. Americans should be able to admit that a huge part of the country was devoted to slavery, so much so that they were willing to die for it. But at the same time, Americans should be proud that their government waged a war to end slavery.

"It is to America's everlasting credit that it fought the most devastating war in its history in order to abolish slavery," Seidule concludes. "As a soldier, I am proud that the United States Army — my army — defeated the Confederates."

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Tonight and tomorrow: Twitter reenacts one of the early battles of American Civil War

On the night of August 20, 1863, proslavery guerrillas from Missouri set off to attack the antislavery stronghold of Lawrence, Kansas, burning it to the ground and killing at least 150 people. There's an organized reenactment happening on Twitter tonight and tomorrow, under the hashtag #qr1863. It features Twitter accounts for Lawrence townspeople of the time, as well as Union soldiers, and proslavery leader William Quantrill — all tweeting their perspective of the raid using real historical sources.

The hashtag is just getting started up now. The real action will kick in tomorrow, on the anniversary of the attack. Fascinating use of tech to draw attention to an oft-overlooked part of history!

EDIT: Reader slowglowing posted a link in the comments that allows you to see just the historical reenactment tweets, with none of the modern people getting in the way. Read the rest

Missouri town still hates Jayhawks

Today in Midwestern news, the Missouri town of Osceola has passed a resolution asking that the University of Kansas retire the Jayhawk from being the school's official mascot.

To understand why, you have to know a little about 19th-century U.S. history. Thanks to congressional compromises that allowed some new states and territories to vote on whether or not they'd allow slavery, Kansas and Missouri started fighting the Civil War about a decade before the rest of the country. Missouri was a slave state. Kansas' status was up in the air. The result was a series of cross-border battles and raids aimed at destroying free-state strongholds, retaliating against slave-state strongholds, and generally intimidating people on both sides of the fence. For a while, Kansas even had dueling free-state and slave-state capital cities, which drafted their own unilateral state constitutions and, occasionally, raided each other for official state documents.

While the "Jayhawks" are today represented by a large, imaginary bird (and/or an alt-country band), they were, originally, the free-state militia. In September of 1861, this militia raided Osceola, killing at least a dozen men and burning a good chunk of the town. And the citizens of Osceola, it seems, are still pretty pissed about this and consider the mascot Jayhawk to be an example of Kansans rubbing salt in the wound.

Along with suggesting that KU change its team name, the resolution calls on the University of Missouri to make sure the full story of the Border War is told and not just the story of William Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kan., in August 1863.

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