Becoming Kappa

1928 image of the Gamma Pi chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma, with individual photos of 19 girlsWhen we say goodbye to buildings, we often say hello to interesting things that finally come out of them as their inhabitants prepare for demolition. Over the summer, we got to digitize one such discovery: a scrapbook of chartering documents from the UA chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma.

There are two common paths to creating a chapter of a national Greek organization. One is to do so directly, working with the organization to establish a colony, a probationary form of chapter. The other is to establish a strong local fraternity or sorority and subsequently seek chapter status from the national.

In 1926, the “local” Alpha Pi took that second path, petitioning Kappa Kappa Gamma national women’s fraternity to be brought in as a chapter. Part of that petition involved recommendations from peers, which they later gathered in a scrapbook.

From Fellow Kappas

The first materials in the book are from Kappa Kappa Gamma actives and alumnae who were near enough geographically to visit…and to have a vested interest in seeing the group spread further in the South.

Typed copy of letter from Lucy Sharpe, Beta Chi, 1925, undated

Letter from Lucy Sharpe, undated

For example, Elizabeth Van der Veer, of the Beta Omicron chapter (Tulane), writes to the national that she visited the girls at their request and “came away very much ‘sold’ on them.” They were “bright, energetic, enthusiastic, and attractive.” She adds, “We southern Kappas are few and far between, and we are anxious to have more chapters down our way.”

Lucy Sharpe, of the Beta Chi chapter (University of Kentucky), agrees, saying, “Kappa needs to come into the South. The best of Alabama’s young girls attend the University. There is no large national fraternity on the campus. Why can’t Kappa step in and take her place at this opportune time? The University wants and needs us.”

Letters were also sent from local alumnae originating in chapters at the University of Oklahoma, University of Cincinnati, and The Ohio State University.

From Fraternities

Men’s fraternities on campus were important witnesses to the character of the local. Letters went out from UA chapters of 12 fraternities: Alpha Tau Omega, Sigma Chi, Delta Tau Delta, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Kappa Alpha, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Kappa Alpha, Lambda Chi Alpha, Pi Kappa Alpha, Phi Gamma Delta, Sigma Nu, and Pi Kappa Phi.

Handwritten letter from Julien Smith, Jr., on behalf of the UA chapter of Phi Delta Theta, July 9, 1926

Letter on behalf of the UA chapter of Phi Delta Theta, July 9, 1926

According to Pi Kappa Alpha’s letter, “It would be difficult indeed to select a group of higher character and of greater promise than this particular group.” The Delta Tau Delta letter says, “if you should see fit to grant them a charter, we think you will always be glad of having done so.”

The Alpha Tau Omega letter reminds us that this is about the reputation of the national organization as much as the petitioning group: “Surely Kappa Kappa Gamma is desirous of having chapters in such institutions as Alabama not only promises to be, but as Alabama is today. …it is an ideal opportunity and one that in our estimation is very rare which should not be passed on lightly.”

The letter from Delta Kappa Epsilon provides some concrete background to situation. By their count, there were 500 female students and only 8 sororities. They find that “the limited number of Sororities is woefully inadequate as compared with the large number of girl students.”

From Other Sororities

There were, indeed, few women’s groups on campus at that time, but they all wrote to the Kappa Kappa Gamma national, perhaps with an eye to raising the overall profile of the campus. Letters were sent from the UA chapters of all 7 current sororities: Delta Delta Delta, Chi Omega, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Chi Omega, Kappa Delta, Delta Zeta, and Zeta Tau Alpha.

Handwritten letter from Margaret Brown, on behalf of herself and the Nu Beta chapter of Chi Omega, July 12, 1926

Letter on behalf of the Nu Beta chapter of Chi Omega, July 12, 1926

Kappa Delta argues that given how women’s enrollment had “practically doubled itself in the part four years,” Kappa Kappa Gamma was needed. They assure the organization that they will find an easy path at UA: “The policy of the University official has always been one of welcome and aid to sororities and fraternities. This feature has helped to make the institution a stronghold for the Greek world.”

Alpha Chi Omega praises the group’s character, their leadership and “fineness of Southern womanhood.” The Alpha Gamma Delta province president notes their ability to maintain these high standards over several years and declares, “I feel sure that they would measure up to the responsibilities placed upon them.” Delta Zeta proclaims that the organization “will be well repaid” if it admits them.

Finally, Delta Delta Delta writes that the group is “worthy,”  and it is “looking forward to welcoming another member of the ‘Big Four’ to campus.”

It did welcome that group in 1927, when Pi Alpha became the Gamma Pi chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma, still active today. A more detailed account of the chapter’s formation and history can be found on the Kappapedia.

Images from the CSS Alabama

The Confederate cruiser CSS Alabama has quite a history. Our sister blog, Cool at Hoole, has a series of posts telling the ship’s story, which — if you’ll believe it — starts with construction in secrecy in England and ends in defeat in France.

But when those posts were written, a really cool resource about the CSS Alabama wasn’t yet digitized: a photo album of the ship and crew. The album, given by friends to crewmember Edwin Maffitt Anderson, was assembled in Liverpool, England, in 1864.

This is the ship at sea, probably a drawing.

Image of CSS Alabama

Here is her captain.

CSS Alabama Captain Raphael Semmes

Among the many portraits of crewmembers, you’ll find placeholders for those who died in service.

Placeholder in memory of William Robertson, Third Assistant Engineer

You’ll also find images of non-crewmembers like this unidentified woman, perhaps one of Anderson’s friends.

Unidentified woman

And there were, as expected, several images of Edwin Maffitt Anderson — and a man with a similar name, Eugene Anderson Maffitt. This photo of them together (on left and right, but no idea which is which!) seems to prove the similar names on the roll were not a mistake or mixup.

Edwin Anderson Maffitt, Thomas C. Cuddy, and Eugene Anderson Maffitt

You’ll notice that the photo has been artificially colored in, a not-uncommon occurrence in early photography. Check out the rest of the album online, to see what else you can learn about the Alabama or the cartes de visite photograph format.

According to the collection Finding Aid, “Edwin Maffitt Anderson, a native of Georgia, was midshipman on the CSS Alabama during the Civil War. He joined the crew of the Alabama in 1862 and remained with them until June 19, 1864, when the USS Kearsarge sunk the ship off the coast of France. Anderson was wounded in the battle. After he recovered, he joined the crew of the blockade runner Owl, and he was later promoted to lieutenant. He died in Georgia in 1923.”

The Mystic Order of the Nonsense Club

Among the Corolla yearbooks digitized and available in Acumen are the first ten volumes, covering 1893-1902. This was an eventful decade at UA: the last ten years of the campus run under military order and the first ten years as a co-ed institution.

Looking through the pages of these early books tells one a lot about student culture at UA. In particular, the smaller enrollments in those days (175 in 1891 to 400 in 1901) meant the yearbooks were a lot more reflective of individual student experiences. They often included things like personal statements and group in-jokes, as well as local songs or cheers and student creative writing and drawings. Also included: pages for what appear to be joke organizations or clubs.

Perhaps they reflected actual groups of friends who decided to codify their clique by giving it a ridiculous name or gathering it around a silly concept. Often spoofing the ceremonial trappings of real-life fraternal organizations like the Freemasons or the Knights of Pythias, these “club” pages in the Corolla left a legacy of playfulness one doesn’t always expect from a turn-of-the-century military institution.

Of course, the military order at UA may be exactly why they needed an outlet for lighthearted creativity and individualism. They were college students, after all.

1893

1893

1895

1895

1895

1895

1896

1896

1896

1896

1899

1899

1899; Their name, a simple translation of Latin letters into Greek: EGGNOG CHAPTER OF SKRAPPERS

1899; Their name, a simple translation of Latin letters into Greek: EGGNOG CHAPTER OF SKRAPPERS

1899

1899

1902

1902

1902

1902

“Beware of Confidential Friends” — they might give you a silly title in a club with an even sillier name.

Food, Glorious Food!

By guest blogger Alex Olkovsky, a graduate student in American Studies

While many collections in our archives contain business and legal documents, there are also numerous focused on people’s daily and domestic lives. Unsurprisingly, these collections are where we can oftentimes most clearly hear women’s voices. Women’s daily lives, beliefs, and values come through in commonplace books, which are essentially a mixture of diary and scrapbook, often containing journal entries, newspaper clippings, copied poetry and hymns, and recipes.

Looking at these recipes, in particular, can give us more information about the woman, her socioeconomic class, and her location. They can also help us date the book, as the use of certain foods and technologies denotes a particular time period. Plus, we can see which recipes have stood the test of time and which have, fortunately for us, been replaced with cheaper and/or yummier ones.

Two commonplace books in the collection tell a story of how American cookery evolved over the latter half of the 19th century. Martha Jane Coleman Banks’ commonplace book, which she created from around 1848 to around 1865, shows the relative poverty of her time as well as the real concern of how to preserve food in the time before mass refrigeration. Annie Perkins’ book, dated to the early 1910s to the 1920s, shows very different patterns in cooking and food. Her recipes include many more dessert recipes, as well as newer and more expensive ingredients such as coconut, salmon, and oysters, and refrigeration seems less difficult, as her book even includes a recipe for homemade ice cream.

Martha Jane Coleman Banks, born in 1833, was expected to make and preserve most of her family’s food. The recipes in her commonplace book, including those cut and pasted from newspapers, show a much more rural, self-reliant way of cooking. There are instructions for a quick method of churning butter, canning tomatoes, and drying peaches.

We also get a sense of the domestic appliances at Banks’ disposal in these recipes, especially since the butter article notes the ‘new’ way of boiling milk in a kettle. The book also illustrates the initial growth of mass production, as the author of one newspaper article recommends that women keep canned food in Northern-produced tin cans, which “cost only 12 ½ cents each” and will keep for decades if washed properly.

Newspaper clipping about making butter

A large issue for a housewife of Banks’ time was the problem of refrigeration. While artificial refrigeration had been invented in the 18th century, refrigerators for the home were not invented and mass produced until 1913. The recipes in Banks’ commonplace book offer a keen reminder of this fact, as one advises that a can of vegetables not contain “more than can be consumed at two meals in warm weather, as the tomatoes soon spoil after the cans are opened.”

However, Banks’ time period was also rife with new produce, as America saw the mingling of English, Native American, and continental European peoples and crops. One regular feature in a newspaper Banks read was the “Horticultural Department,” which offered expert advice on how to plant and prepare produce. An article from 1854 taught women how to cook asparagus, which the author noted was “not yet appreciated in the up-country of the South.” Other vegetable recipes in this article included ones for beets, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers (apparently fried cucumber is delicious), “Indian corn,” “spinage,” and salsify (a root vegetable similar to parsnips). The instructions for cooking these vegetables were almost always to boil them and then smother them in butter.

Newspaper clipping showing illustration for Horticulture Department

By the time that Annie Perkins was compiling her commonplace book in the first two decades of the 20th century, the landscape of American cooking had changed dramatically. Perkins’ book features a majority of dessert recipes, including ones for basic pound and sponge cakes as well as more exotic ingredients such as cantaloupe, coconut, and chocolate. Compared to Banks’ time, Perkins would have been expected to purchase many more of her goods, perhaps freeing up time to create more lavish and complicated desserts. However, most of the recipes were more basic ones that a young housewife would have been expected to master.

Handwritten recipe for oatmeal cookies, 1922

Perkins’ commonplace book also has a greater variety of ingredients than does Banks’, especially in regards to meat and fish. Banks’ book offers few meat and fish recipes, and those that exist tend to be of animals a rural Southern woman would have access to, such as chickens and pigs. By contrast, Perkins’ recipes include ones for anchovies, clams, canned salmon, and oysters. Not knowing exactly where these two women lived, it is possible that Perkins had more access to fish because she may have lived on a coast. However, the existence of canned fish in her recipes also suggests that by her time mass production allowed for more variety in the diet.

Newspaper clipping with meat and fish recipes,

Lastly, we can also get a sense of what appliances Perkins’ kitchen had from her commonplace book recipes. One recipe for cheese puffs requires the use of a grater, a saucepan, paper cases (similar to muffin cups), and an oven, which is a lot of work and appliances for a so-called first course at a dinner party. An article elucidating the best way to make toast scoffs at the idea of using an older toast rack, saying that it “allow[s] the heat to escape, and [is not] recommended.” Perhaps most in contrast to Banks’ difficulties with refrigeration, Perkins’ commonplace book includes handwritten recipe for homemade ice cream, calling attention to the fact that refrigeration and packaged ice were available by the early 20th century.

3D Digitization Project, round two

It’s been some time since we updated you on Jeremiah’s 3D digitization project. It’s been through one round of prototype and testing, and now it’s in a second phase. We thought we’d talk about where we are and show off an early 3D printing test.

The Old Process

The first version of the process — using our Canon EOS 6D plus custom hardware and software — was successful in exactly the way you want an exploratory project to be: it worked well enough to confirm proof of concept and provide feedback to guide further development.

The old process had two main drawbacks. First of all, it wasn’t entirely automatic. One still needed to manually capture the item, using the custom lighting rig and aperture mask (pictured below) to facilitate an incremental shift of perspective over dozens of photos.

photo05

It was also necessary to use Photoshop for parts of the process: for visual assessment  — checking to make sure the greenscreen process went as expected — and to create the final composite image. Only then could that composite “height map” be compiled with the “texture map” in his software to create the 3D image.

Secondly, there was a concern with the resulting 3D manifestations. Since the process used exposure to determine depth, highlights from shiny objects or changes in color across the surface of an item might be interpreted as changes in lightness and darkness — therefore, in exposure — creating anomalies in depth in the finished product.

The New Process

The second phase of the project involved trying a different version of the same compositing system. It meant building on previous work but also rethinking some aspects of the process.

First, the automation problem. Jeremiah discovered that a particular digital camera, the Canon PowerShot, is highly hack-able, lending itself to being manipulated by computer programs. Here’s the used model he bought, in all its hot pink glory. 🙂

3d-dig-camera-setup1

With a computer script telling the camera what to do, it can automatically capture the necessary range of images needed for the compositing process, no human intervention required. Here it is in action, mounted on a camera stand and aimed at a test environment.

3d-dig-camera-setup2

The process now depends on sharpness to determine depth, rather than light, a much more reliable method that admits a greater range of objects with various textures and colors. This also takes away the need for the special lighting and aperture hardware.

Even better, it allows for automated compositing, with his Ruby program doing the interpreting work based on contrast from pixel to pixel. No more wrangling in Photoshop — in fact, no Photoshop at all!

A Test Product

One of the desired outcomes from the project is not just a web-displayable 3D object, but also a computer file that will allow you to 3D print that object. Jeremiah recently took one of his earlier test files to be printed. The object he captured is pictured here for reference, with lighting from multiple angles so you can get a sense of its contours.

cameo-composite

Captured and reproduced, it came out like this (evenly lit on the left, lit from an angle on the right).

printed-cameo-composite

You’ll notice two things: it’s rough, and it’s backwards. The backwardness is probably fixable; a tweak to the software should make it possible to reverse things. The roughness will probably take some more complex adjustments to the software. The 3D printer we used couldn’t really deal with the fineness of detail in his STL file. It’s like using a Sharpie marker to fill out a form designed for a ballpoint pen — it’ll work, but it’ll be messy.

Jeremiah assures me there’s still a ways to go with the new process. Hopefully, one of those output files will be ready for print testing soon. We’ll keep you posted.

A Day in the Life: June 1

Here’s a slice of life from June 1st over the last 170 some-odd years, representing a cross-section of materials from the digital archive — from the serious to the silly, the magical to the mundane.

Roland Harper’s Southern churches, 1901-1958

Roland Harper (1878-1966) was a lot of things, notably a geologist and botanist. According to a biographical sketch published two years after his death (see end of post for reference), “Roland Harper was intent. He botanized, observed, photographed, walked, editorialized, criticized, lived, intently.” This kind of focus, coupled with his wide range of interests, made him a particularly prolific documentarian of Southern life.

On his travels around Alabama and Georgia, as he examined rock formations and local flora, Harper also picked up artifacts of everyday life (for example, see our collection of his railroad timetables) and took hundreds of photographs of the communities he visited or passed through. One thing that frequently drew his attention was a central part of early 20th century community life: the local church.

Below is a selection of images he took of churches in the South, from the turn of the century through the late 1950s. Harper would have been about 23 when the first picture below was taken and around 80 as he took the last.

Cities and counties are in Alabama if not otherwise noted.

Church in Georgia, 1901

Church in Georgia, 1901

Interior of log church in Dooley County, Georgia, 1903

Interior of log church in Dooley County, Georgia, 1903

Church in Georgia, 1904

Church in Georgia, 1904

Church in Burke County, Georgia, 1904

Church in Burke County, Georgia, 1904

Frame church in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, 1918

Frame church in St. Mary's County, Maryland, 1918

Little Bethel A.M.E. church, south of Selma, 1922

Little Bethel AME church, south of Selma, 1922

Byrdine A.M.E. Zion church (background) in Greene County, 1923

Byrdine AME Zion church (background), Greene County, Alabama, 1923

Methodist Church and parsonage in Lowndesboro, 1924

Methodist Church and parsonage in Lowndesboro, 1924

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Lowndesboro, 1924

St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Lowndesboro, 1924

Two churches in Jefferson County, Florida, 1925

Two churches in Jefferson County, Florida, 1925

Church in Calhoun County, Florida, 1925

Church in Calhoun County, Florida, 1925

Two churches in Dallas County, 1927

Two churches in Dallas County, Alabama, 1927

First Congregational church (left) in Montgomery, 1927

First Congregational church (left) in Montgomery, 1927

Methodist Church in Somerville, 1927

Methodist Church in Somerville, 1927

Two churches in Russell County, 1927

Two churches in Russell County, Alabama, 1927

Church in Alabama, 1928

Church in Alabama, 1928

Sands Baptist Church in Hart County, Georgia, 1929

Sands Baptist Church in Hart County, Georgia, 1929

Presbyterian Church in Cuthbert, Georgia, 1930

Presbyterian Church in Cuthbert, Georgia, 1930

Prebyterian church in Eutaw, 1931

Prebyterian church in Eutaw, 1931

Episcopal church and cemetery in Carlowville, 1933

Episcopal Church and cemetery in Carlowville, 1933

Two Catholic churches in Fredericksburg, Texas, 1934

Two Catholic churches in Fredericksburg, Texas, 1934

Church on a dirt road in either Louisiana or Mississippi, 1934

Church on a dirt road in either Louisiana or Mississippi, 1934

Old Pisgah Church in Marshall County, 1937

Old Pisgah Church in Marshall County, Alabama, 1937

Old Five-Mile Church between Akron and Greensboro, 1938

Old Five-Mile Church between Akron and Greensboro, 1938

Church (background) in Virginia, 1940

Church (background) in Virginia, 1940

Church being built north of Littleville, 1941

Church being built north of Littleville, 1941

African-American church in Mobile, 1949

African American church in Mobile, 1949

Church in Dayton, 1952

Church in Dayton, 1952

Church in Eatonville, Florida, 1955

Church in Eatonville, Florida, 1955

Beard’s Chapel A.M.E. Zion church, Alberta City area of Tuscaloosa, 1956

Beard's Chapel AME Zion church, Alberta City area of Tuscaloosa, 1956

Castle Hill Baptist church (foreground) and Bethel Church (background) in Alabama(?), 1956

Castle Hill Baptist church, brick, and Bethel Church, wood, 1956

African-American church in Alberta City area of Tuscaloosa, 1957

African-American church in Alberta City area of Tuscaloosa, 1957

Brick church in Tuscaloosa, 1958

Brick church in Tuscaloosa, 1958

African-American Church in Tuscaloosa, 1958

African-American Church in Tuscaloosa, 1958

Seventeenth Street A.O.H. Church of God in Tuscaloosa, circa 1958

Seventeenth Street AOH Church of God in Tuscaloosa, circa 1958


 

Reference

Ewan, Joseph. “Roland McMillan Harper (1878-1966).” Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 95.4 (1968): 390-393.

Campus Rewind: Foster Auditorium and Coleman Coliseum

It seems like it’s impossible to write a blog post about any building on campus without talking about what came before or after. In this case, a look at Foster Auditorium led down an unexpected path — to Coleman Coliseum. But how?

Foster Auditorium

When Foster was built in 1939, it had no name.

It eventually took its name from UA President Richard Clarke Foster, who unexpectedly died while in office in 1941.

While it’s called an auditorium, we’d more accurately call it a gymnasium, and it saw students through lots of events throughout the year.

First, there was registration — back when you had to signup for classes on paper!

Registration Day

From 1958 Corolla

Registration Day

From 1959 Corolla

There would also be pep rallies of all sorts, as well as basketball games.

It also hosted plenty of non-sports-related events. Here it is packed with chairs for speeches and transformed for a dance.

Of course, we think of Foster, we also think of its defining moment: the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door, the day in June 1963 when Governor Wallace attempted to bar Vivian Malone and James Hood from registering for classes at the university.

Plaques on Foster Auditorium entrance

Plaques on Foster Auditorium entrance

This is Foster today.

Foster Auditorium, 2015, view from the north

Foster Auditorium, 2015

In front of the building is Malone-Hood Plaza, celebrating the desegregation of the university.

Plaque on the Malone-Hood Plaza clocktower

Plaque on the Malone-Hood Plaza clocktower

Coleman Coliseum

By the time Foster had its big moment in the news, it was already outgrowing its usefulness. In the late 1960s, a new facility was built, one that would also be multipurpose.

Like Foster, Coleman wasn’t named after anyone at first. It was just known as Memorial Coliseum.

In 1988, it was named in honor of Jefferson Coleman, a prominent alumnus who held many positions at the university, including Business Manager of the football team and Director of Alumni Affairs. (Take a look at his photo collection in Acumen.)

Since its construction, it’s served the university in a number of capacities, including hosting concerts, celebrating graduations, and, of course, being the home court for UA’s basketball program.

This is Coleman Coliseum today, smack dab in the middle of an ever-growing athletic complex.

Coleman Coliseum, 2015

Coleman Coliseum, 2015

Alabama’s Jewish History

Did you know May is Jewish American Heritage Month? You may not: it’s a new commemoration, proclaimed by President Bush in 2006.

Alabama, like much of the South, is not known for having a large Jewish population, yet Jewish Americans have been part of the state’s history from the beginning. According to the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities, Mobile attracted Jewish immigrants in the 1820s, and by the 1840s they flocked to cotton market towns like Montgomery and Selma. Later, in the early 20th century, they settled in industrial communities such as Birmingham and Bessemer.

Like Huntsville and Dothan, Tuscaloosa saw its Jewish population grow after the Civil War, as the town rebuilt itself. In the late 19th and early 20th century, many Jews in Tuscaloosa were merchants, largely from Hungary or Germany. Businessmen Ike Friedman and Adolph Holzstein helped establish the first congregation in Tuscaloosa, Temple Emau-El, in 1903. Prominent Jewish businesses included Bernard Friedman’s Atlanta Store, Max Pizitz’s Mercantile Company, a clothing store run by Sam Wiesel, a furniture store run by Morris Sokol, and a deli run by the Kartzinel family. By the 1960s and 1970s, though, these businesses were declining.

Hillel_Corolla1953According to the Encyclopedia entry on Tuscaloosa, “While the decline of the Jewish merchant class affected many other small Jewish communities, Tuscaloosa has managed to thrive in spite of it due to the presence of the university,” which attracted Jewish faculty and students. UA’s first Hillel House was built in 1934. The Rho chapter of sorority Sigma Delta Tau was established in 1935, and fraternity Zeta Beta Tau has an even longer history: the Psi chapter was founded at UA in 1916.

The campus Jewish population is smaller now — according to the Bama Hillel website, “There are over 700 Jewish students at Alabama, and we are growing every year!” — but it is still active. The Tuscaloosa congregation continues to depend on its ties with the university community, as it meets in a new facility on the UA campus, adjacent to the new Bloom Hillel Student Center.

 

Acumen has finding aids for archival collections related to Jews in Alabama:

It also has finding aids for collections related to Judaism or Jewish Americans:

  • Sheldon Rosenzsweig collection of publications about Israel — Published materials commemorating the twentieth, twenty-fifth, and thirtieth anniversaries of the founding of the Jewish state of Israel.
  • Berman Family papers — digitized and online! — Material created and kept by the Berman family of St. Louis, Missouri. These are primarily letters written, often in Hebrew, by Dr. William (Bill) Berman and his wife Marian from Ft. Riley, Kansas, where Bill served as an Army doctor during World War Two.

 

Eyewitness to Croxton’s Raid on Tuscaloosa, April 1865

Last year, we shared an in-depth post on the burning of the UA campus in the last days of the Civil War. This year, we take a look at the words of an eyewitness to the events.

Basil Manly, Sr., was living in Tuscaloosa during the Union raid of April 4, 1865 — sometimes referred to as Croxton’s Raid — and gave this account.

Excerpt from dairy of Basil Manly, Sr., April 4, 1865

 

Capture of the city. Tues. morn. April 4 In the course of the last night a portion of the Federal Cavalry, estimated at between 1500 & 2000, under Gen’l Croxton entered our city, surprising the guard at the bridge, and obtained possession of our city, without a struggle. They soon burned the buildings used for public purposes at the university, & took all the horses & mules they could find. They camped in our [streets?], that night, and next morning they proceeded to burn the foundry & factory, the niter sheds, and the bridge across the river. This last they did when retiring from the city in the direction of North port. The houses of two of the professors, inhabited by Mr. Deloffre & Mr. [D/H]ickson, took fire from the burning of other houses, and were consumed. Mr. & Mrs. Deloffre saved few things out of their dwelling, while it was burning.

Capt. Toomer, it is said, of the Tax in Kind, set fire to the row of building, known as [Drish’s?] row, as soon as the captors entered the city, and all the buildings connected with his office, were consumed; His books & papers, also, were consumed. The doors were all locked; the fire within about the latter part of the burning, the ware-house at the River was burnt, with its contents. A well-stocked [tan?]-yard, with all its stock & [?], was burned, also, the property of C. M. Foster. They passed over into North Port, burned the ware-house there; & perhaps other property. I learn that they did not burn Cumming’s [tan?]-yard, in North-Port.

A good deal of robbery & pillage was done in private houses, in situations remote from the general’s head quarters; but, generally, they were restrained from much of that in the more frequented parts of the city; except as to the storehouses & shops. [These?] were ransacked & stripped of every thing, and a general invitation to the poor, & the negros to possess themselves of what they desired.

A few days later, General Lee surrendered and the war ended, but Manly and the rest of the community didn’t hear the news until early the next month. Sometime between May 7 and May 14, he reports the following.

Excerpt from dairy of Basil Manly, Sr., early May, 1865

 

Gen’l Lee Surrenders. we hear, also, that Gen’l R. E. Lee, and the Remnant of his army was hemmed in near Appomattox C. H. Va. by superior numbers; and that he surrendered all the troops with him, about the 9th of April. Gen’l Jos[eph] E. Johnston surrendered his army, in N.C. a few days after to Gen’l Sherman. All over-run