The Middle of Nowhere?

Around 2011 I hosted a wonderful get together at my home in Nashville. My Mom’s first cousin Joe observed: it was the most diverse crowd he had ever been a part of. I hadn’t thought about it, but was proud to hear him say that.

In attendance were a Metro detective, several school teachers, college professors, lawyers and paralegals. An airline pilot, construction worker, home inspector, hair stylists, postman, woodworker and bank executive. A hot dog salesman, chief and former movie executive. A college and high school student, interior designer, real estate agents and marketing assistant. Nationalities included: the U.S., Pakistan, Iran, Israel, Russia and Panama. Ages covered seven decades.

I don’t think I could replicate that event again. In fact I have lost touch with many of them since then. I’m not sure why, but I fear it may be politics. My gut feeling, is my liberal friends think I’m a conservative, and my conservative friends think I’m a liberal. If you’re not with us, you’re against us I can almost hear them say. Being in the political middle ground is a lonely place these days. Kind of like the ole’ Maytag repairman. I guess there’s not much tolerance for a concealed permit carrying tree-hugger. 😉

My favorite quote of all time is from Ben Franklin: “If everyone’s thinking alike, nobody’s thinking”. Think, and try to look at things from both sides. Rotate your news sources. Check your facts. Compromise is the center point of an effective governmental process.

Two papers for each driveway.

The Civil War: 1957-1972


The Integration of Nashville Public Schools

By Bob Henderson

The 3rd phase the American Civil War

I remember my father pointing out historical landmarks around the Nashville area, such as the famous U.S.C.T. charge on Peach Orchard Hill, but never, can I recall a word about it in my 16 years of education, despite that fact that the Civil War Battle of Nashville was one of the most decisive of the war. It was literally fought in our own back yard.

Battle of Nashville Statues

Somehow I sensed the significance of that turning point in history, and felt I had some kind of connection to it. After all, 7 of my 8 great-great grandfathers fought in it. Ironically, the eighth one was the only one of them to lose his life in it. The Preachers death is a mystery.

I was very aware of slavery however, and felt the after-effects of it growing up in the turbulent Southern 1960’s. I consider that period the third phase of the American Civil War, and hopefully it’s final chapter. That war did not start out as a war against slavery, but it ended up transforming into a fight for human rights.

Growing up in south-west Nashville, I would say at least half the homes had African-American housekeepers, nannies and gardeners up through the 1960’s. We had a dear lady named Ruby that spent at least as much time raising us, as my parents. My brother had autism, and my poor mother needed all the help she could get. Miss Ruby was more like family than a domestic. She even came with us on family vacations to Florida, and I am still friends with her nephew today. Ironically, he and I would play “Army” in my back yard as kids, and unbeknownst to us at the time, we both ended up in similar roles in the military.

My parents helped Ruby out financially the rest of her life, including nursing care in her final years. It was sad to hear stories of another former domestic at that facility that has been cast aside by their former employers families. Ruby was always visited by our family. When I was going through a divorce in thirties, I remember crying on her shoulders.

Horsing around with Ruby

Hillwood High School

I was also on the front line of desegregation. In 1972 my all-white high school received about a third of the student population from the considerably less affluent North Nashville part of town. This was not done in a gradual transition, as originally proposed in 1954, but all at once September 7, 1972. Not only was there 100+ years of pent up racial tension, the economic class divide was even more palpable. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for these black students to catch the bus at 6 AM, ride an hour, and end up in “Beaver Cleaverville” where some may have had family that worked as domestics. They were not happy when they got there. 

First Day of Busing

Technically, the 11 year old Hillwood High had been integrated by a local family a few years before. But in 1971, they had only one daughter enrolled, and she was the only African-American student in the school. It was essentially a white high school. Ironically, the family lived in the area because her ancestors had been given a tract of land from their former slave masters on the Belle Meade Plantation. Her address in 1970 is listed as 6204 Harding Road, the location of the West Meade Mansion. There were still former slave cabins there at the time.

West Meade Mansion – Wikipedia

Unfortunately, my class was the youngest in the school that very tumultuous year. The class of 76’ was the last to see a segregated Hillwood in 1971 the year before. In 1972, for the second year in a row, we were the youngest class on campus. The new 7th grade were sent to Wharton Junior High, and Hillwood became 8 -12th grade. And what in the world were 8th graders doing in the same school as 17 & 18 year olds in the first place? That led to at least one pregnant 8th grader by a Junior that I know of. At least most of our classes were in the former H.G. Hill Elementary building and we had our own cafeteria.

H.G. Hill

The former Horace Greeley Hill school was next door to the high school. It was opened for the lower school in 1971. H.G. Hill made a fortune in grocery stores and real estate around the turn of the 19th century. Hillwood derives it’s name from his vast estate. His name sake, Horace Greeley was a notable abolitionist leading up to the Civil War. H. G. Hill was born in White County, TN in 1873. White county was a bitterly divided community during the war. There were a lot of Tennessee Unionist in Middle Tennessee. Even Shelbyville, southeast of Nashville, was dubbed “Little Boston” by local secessionist.

I was actually naively looking forward to the social experiment we were cast in. After all, every black person that I had met in my young life had always been nice to me. But these new students were not required to be nice to me, and the first day of school was a real eye-opener.

A few days before busing started, someone vandalized our next door neighbors mailbox. Judge William Miller sat on the 6th Federal Circuit Court of appeals. He was the United States authority that had been tasked with carrying out the 1954 Supreme Court decision to desegregate public schools. He had actively been involved in the case since 1955. 1957 saw the first small steps to integrate a hand full of first graders, but it took another 15 years of foot dragging before the law would be fully enforced.

The mast top of the Judges mailbox had a statue of an eagle with outstretched wings. One night in 1972 the wings were broken off and a white stripe painted down its backside.

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

As I recall, that first day was just loud. The rules for indoor voices flew out the window that morning. Lunch was a game changer at 4th period in Mrs. Van Buren’s class. Although the teachers all intermingled at their tables, the students separated into black and white on both sides of the cafeteria. Minutes into the first meal, a ruckus erupted on the far side of the lunchroom. A tall black girl from our Social Studies (ironically) class locked it up with another black girl, screaming and pulling hair. Our white 8th grade administrative aid, Mr. Warfield, rushed over to break it up. She then turned on him, and to everyones disbelief, picked up her lunch tray and smashed it into pieces over his head. I will never forget his dazed look, peas and carrots clumped over his flat-top hair-cut. I never saw the assailant in 4th period after that.

A distinct visible change was the new dress code, or lack there of. Up until 1971-72′, the rules required short hair for boys, collared shirts and dress trousers. Girls had to have dresses that could not go much above the knee. Juxtaposed 3 months latter: long hair, t-shirts, bluejeans and pants replaced dresses for most girls.

Cigarette smoking was tolerated in tucked away areas outside the buildings. Pot smoke was common in the parking lots, and at least one student that I knew of dealt “lids” out of his locker.  To make matters even worse, the drinking age was lowered to 18, mostly to allow Vietnam soldiers across the country to legally buy beer. The sensible thing to have done, would have been to lower it for anyone with an active duty military I.D. 

From age 16 on, I had no problem finding someplace that would not card me for alcohol. Even if they did, the drivers licenses didn’t have photos, so you could just borrow one. There was a beer store on 8th Avenue North, that would sell just about anyone a 16 gallon keg of beer for $38.

From 8th grade on, at Hillwood alone, there were six students killed in five years from a variety of accidental deaths, mostly alcohol related. I was a pall-bearer twice in one year. One of them was killed by a drunk driver on my motorcycle. After the death of my 3rd buddy in late 1976, my father told me I had lost more young friends than he had in World War II.

Another student was killed speeding to get a burger off campus. Leaving the school grounds without permission was a very common occurrence. It was a free-for-all over all. Skipping school was epidemic. Some teachers would rather have disruptive students stay away, and pass them with a D-. I have a report card that shows 72 days absent with a passing grade.

Although most people from this time won’t acknowledge it, there was a high degree of racial tension and violence between the North Nashville students and those of the Hillwood, West Meade, Brook Meade, Charlotte Park and Belle Meade* neighborhoods those first few years.  

*Half of upper-crust Belle Meade was zoned to Hillwood, but few attended. The other half of Belle Meade was zoned to Hillsboro High.

Don’t Take Me Alive

I was in several pretty severe fights in high school. Most were confined to the outdoor “smoking lounge” and gym. I recall defusing the last one with a bluff. I did pick up some tactics in street-smarts while I was there. “Don’t take me alive” was my bark.

In addition to the North-South Nashville divide for the Bicentennial class of 76’, there was still some blue-collar and white-collar rivalry between Charlotte Park and the rest of Hillwood. I was singled out in 1973 by a group of them for some reason. They terrorized me for months, until I recruited some friends from Hillsboro High to even things up. I think it was actually a case of mistaken identity. The reason I mention it, is the response my mother got from the black assistant principal Mr. Hill over the ordeal. He told her it was all he could do to keep the boys from killing each other, and that things were way out of control there.

J.J. Phillips

In my opinion race was an element, but I believe the larger ingredient was the socio-economic disparity. At Hillwood High, you had the poorest part of town being bused into the richest part of Nashville. As an example, there was a black friend of mine named J.J., who probably got picked on the worst. His parents were both doctors, and they lived in our neighborhood. They might have been the first African-American homeowners in West Meade. Some of the North Nashville kids wore him out, and he took it real hard. He also got an earful from his white neighbor, when his daughter was seen with J.J. talking one afternoon on the front porch. The last time I saw him was over Christmas 1976. There was something wrong, but he didn’t want to talk about it. No one in our class has heard from him since. 

That first year of busing ended in tragedy with a so-called “accident”. In an altercation over a yearbook on the last day of school, a boy scout was left dead in the hallway from a fist to the throat. Not much was made about it in the news. The initial charge of murder was reduced to manslaughter. The assailant was sent to a youth correctional facility. I’m not sure how long the sentence was for.

Many Hillwood area families had already started the white-flight to private schools the year before. By the 1973 school year, pretty much every one of them were full, and new ones were opening in Churches all over Nashville. 

  • Nashville Christian Academy: Founded 1971
  • Franklin Road Academy: Founded 1971
  • Harding Academy: Founded 1971
  • Donelson Christian Academy: Founded 1971
  • Goodpasture Christian School: Founded 1971
  • St. Paul Christian Academy: Founded 1971

At last count in 2019, I believe there are around 40 private schools in Davidson County. Pre 1971, I can only think of 7 high schools then.

BGA

MBA

Father Ryan

Harpeth Hall

Peabody Demonstration School

Saint Bernard

Saint Cecilia

According to this 2014 data, Green Hills/Forrest Hills ranks #9 in the country for the highest private school enrollment: 72%

From 1969 to 2007 the white student population in Nashville Metro public schools dropped from 74,000 to 23,000 despite a population growth of over 200,000.

  • 1957: 60,000 students, 48,000 white, 12,000 black (80-20)
  • 1963: 85,000 students 67,000 white 19,000 black, 1000 other
  • 1969: 96,000 students 74,000 white, 21,000 black, 1,000 other
  • 1970: 85,000 students 62,000 whites 21,000 blacks 2,000 other
  • 1971: 74,000 students 50,000 white 24,000 black
  • 1980: 66,000 students 40,000 white 22,000 black 2000 other
  • 1990: 67,000 students 35,000 white 24,000 black 8000 other
  • 2000: 68,000 students 30,000 white 28,000 black 11,000 other
  • 2007: 75,000 students 23,000 white 37,000 black 15,000 other (30-49-20)

My parents were able to get my brothers and sister into private schools in 1973, but things had deteriorated academically at Hillwood so bad, that Battle Ground Academy (BGA) required Hillwood boys to repeat a grade for the few slots left. I pleaded with my parents to let me remain were I was. I would later question my decision to stay.

Even the blue collar workers from the Ford Glass Plant neighborhood in Charlotte Park were doing all they could to get, at least their daughters, in private schools. There were many empty kitchens and second jobs all the sudden in that working class neighborhood.

Most of us loved these black people that had helped raise us. It was very confusing to be so at odds with such a large group of people that seemed to hate us for no reason. What did we do? It seemed we were caught in the cross-fire of history and the sins of our forefathers.

The Help

 My parents provided an automobile for Miss Ruby to commute in, but most of the domestics rode public transportation. About the time we came home from school you could see scores of negro ladies (dressed in white uniforms) standing on the suburban street corners waiting for the long bus ride home. On the drive home one day my friend Clinton made an interesting observation that afternoon: “You know Bob, the black folks today are not much better off than they were in slavery times. They just have to commute to work now”.

Clinton died August 26, 1974 in an accidental death. He was a child prodigy, taking trigonometry in 8th grade. He inspired many of us to read and learn. His influence on my education would be profound.

Everett Walker Assistant Principal

I would say that the chaos was the worst that first year, but it took another year or two to stabilize the mayhem. The best fix was hiring a new assistant principal. He was a rather tall African-American former Marine Corp drill instructor. Mr. Walker ran a tight ship, and everyone respected him for brining order to the school in 1975. It was finally beginning to feel safe, and now we were upperclassmen.

However, the damage had been done. The drain-off of quality teachers to the private schools, incentivized by tuition-free education for their children, took its toll. Worse than that, the most influential families didn’t have a dog in the fight anymore. They left public education and were not coming back. It was the perfect storm – neighborhood schools gone with the wind.

There were at least a dozen really good educators that withstood the fire-storm, and I commend them for their brave work:

“Mr. Walker, Mr. Whitmon, Coach Graves, Coach West, Albert Gaines, Frank Cirincione and Roy Carter were instrumental in the ‘tough love’ side of that, while Ivey Nixon and Shirley Luckett and even dear old Herschel Hardaway brought the tenderness and love a teenage kid needs so desperately.” – Howie K. Class of 1978

Don’t blow it!

I would bet that today, that not one in ten households in Hillwood Estates are in public schools – if that many. In fact, there are so few, they are talking about moving the school to another part of town on the outskirts of Nashville.

Before 1972, I’d bet at least 90% of neighborhoods went to school together.  Neighbors knew each other, parents were involved in PTA’s and children were supervised. In general, people were not so politically polarized, that I trace back to a breakdown in community cohesion, and the retreat to isolated, insular communities, Churches and schools.

The Nashville magnet schools are some of the best in the country, but that only provides for a small percentage of the population. I’m not saying that you could not get a proper education in public schools here, but you really had to work for it. The disciplinary problems were so wide spread that it seemed many teachers just gave up, concentrating on a dedicated few. In 10th grade, my English teacher separated our class in two: college bound on one side, the rest on the right. She ignored half the class for the remainder of the year.

If you were a marginal student with, maybe a dose of self esteem deficiency, or ADHD, it was real easy to give up and just do the minimum, which was not much. There was too little adult supervision and inspiration. Our world consisted of a series of social catastrophes: assassinations (K,K&K), Vietnam, Water Gate, a multitude of corrupt Tennessee politicians from the governor on down, and the 60’s hit town about 1972. Drugs were everywhere and blindsided families, schools and law enforcement.

Another development that divided the school even more, was the back-lash against the perceived drug culture with the “long-hairs”, or “freaks” targeted. The jocks against the freaks soon became the new turf war, as even prep school boys joined in the pursuit of anyone looking like a hippie around town. For me, this climaxed the summer of graduation in a convenience store parking lot. I snapped, after a prep school boy called me a long haired fagot. I hurled my Icee in his face, followed up my a right hook to his jaw. My buddy and I barley got out of there in one piece. Bill would be gone a few months later from an apparent drug overdose.

Bob and Bill

In the fall of 1975 I decided to try another high school and got permission to transfer to McGavock on the other side of Nashville. I was hoping to get a fresh start, as I was beginning to take school a little more seriously. But the hour bus ride to school everyday made for an early day, and after a semester of sleep deprivation, I decided to go back to Hillwood to finish my senior year. I got an appreciation for what the kids from North Nashville had to go thru on their daily commute.

McGavock High 1975

By 1976, the educational deficiency was so extreme that some colleges were adopting 090 level remedial classes to try to catch us all up: mostly math and english. The then, Belmont College, accepted a lot of under-educated high school graduates such as myself.

After I lost my 3rd friend in December 1976. I unceremonious cut my hair, poured into academics, and my grades improved. I sold books door to door two summers of college, totally transforming my appearance and self confidence. With some great teachers, small classes, and lot of tutoring, I was able to go from a 1.6 GPA my first semester, to a 3.0, over six years of co-op education.

In 1982 I graduated  with a business degree and went to Navy officer candidate school, wanting to get as far away from my past as possible. Maybe I was longing for the order and discipline that was so lacking in my youth. Maybe I was revolting against the revolt. I don’t know, but it fit me like a glove. The highlight of my basic training was on the rifle range, scoring expert in my class. Afterwords Gunnery Sergeant Campos commented: “Henderson, I think we finally found something you know how to do well”. Years later, I almost fell out of my seat, when I heard that line about Private Pyle in the movie Full Medal Jacket.

The vast majority of my friends did not survive college academics. Most of them flunked out their first year. My saving grace was there wasn’t much of a social life at the time on Belmont’s campus, I was broke and I worked out of state during the summers. Most importantly, I was told I could not do it.

Shine on You Crazy Diamond

Another wave of tragedy struck in the early 80’s with the cocaine surge. Fortunately, I was long-gone off to the military by then. That one claimed four more high school friends, from Hillwood, Hillsboro and Bellevue.

It was easy to feel bitter, resentful and contemptuous of those that made this weather we had to stand in. Our initial targets of ridicule were the teachers, administration and the Board of Education, but that was not fair. The more insidious element was the 1960’s counter-culture, and the drugs that came with it. Controlled substances poured into the power-vacuum of 1972, 73 and 74.

The most common side-effect of this teen-age wasteland was substance abuse. The cases are too numerous to quantify, including two super-star senior athletes that were our role models in 7th grade. As I write this, I anticipate yet another casualty.

In a larger sense, I believe the American Civil War took 111 years to run it’s course. Some would say it’s still being fought. More could be done, but I have seen substantial racial progress in my lifetime: financially, academically and socially. Having been at the ground-zero of act #3, I feel I own a part of it.

Prologue

A few years ago I took a girlfriend to a Rose Park teacher retirement party that was held in North Nashville. We were the only white couple at a very large backyard BBQ, and very warmly received. Almost everyone in attendance had gone to Hillwood High School. Ironically it was the largest social function I have ever been to with alumni of my high school, outside of a class reunion!

Walking into History: The Beginning of School Desegregation in Nashville

John Egerton

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

ARTICLE

PUBLISHED MAY 4, 2009

Excerpts from:

“Nashville was almost 180 years old in 1957 (its founding had coincided with that of the American nation), and it wore its age with a certain patrician pride. Early in its frontier history, an admiring local citizen had dubbed it “the Athens of the West” (later remapped to the South by the Civil War and other changes of geography and perspective). Its leaders liked that image; it called to mind a place of reasonable and civic-minded people, of moderately progressive conservatives. In the war of rebellion, Nashville had spread its sympathies in both directions, sending hundreds of its own residents, white and black, to fight and die for the Union Blue as well as the Confederate Gray. It was not a place of extremes, but of the center. Had they been left to their own devices, some Nashvillians apparently believed, they could have worked out their racial problems amicably and equitably.

Such an opportunity for compromise and reconciliation never blossomed in the Nashville of that war-wracked era, and in the postwar Reconstruction era and beyond, the dream of full citizenship for former slaves soon turned to dust. Slavery was gone, but so was the promise of economic and political freedom; every southern state passed laws mandating racial segregation in a “separate but equal” society that assured Caucasians of perpetual advantage in every station of life—in political parties, civic agencies, hotels, theaters, trolleys and trains, from hospital rooms to schoolrooms to the workplace and even the graveyard.

But decades later, in the fall of 1957, a new opportunity was at hand. The elusive ideal of racial equality, often glimpsed but rarely grasped in the United States, was once again coming into focus for Nashvillians—and this time, it was going to be reflected in the quietly serious faces of a few brown-skinned six-year-olds. Powerful forces were rallying to one side or the other, for the children or against them. A fundamental principle of American democracy, as interpreted by the nation’s highest court, was about to be applied, and Nashville would be an early testing ground—one of the first of the South’s cities to put into motion a comprehensive plan for the desegregation of its public schools, and the only one to that date with a strategy of building from the bottom up, one grade at a time.”

“Nashville was learning that recovery from trauma, followed by limited success and a predictable normality, was not news and not history—it was just the way things were supposed to be. And so it happened that the little trailblazers of desegregation, along with their white classmates, eventually slipped quietly back into the anonymity of childhood.” –John Egerton

Statistics

Student Population 1957-2007

1957: 60,000 students, 48,000 white, 12,000 black (80-20)

1963: 85,000 students 67,000 white 19,000 black, 1000 other

1969: 96,000 students 74,000 white, 21,000 black, 1,000 other

1970: 85,000 students 62,000 whites 21,000 blacks 2,000 other

1971: 74,000 students 50,000 white 24,000 black

1980: 66,000 students 40,000 white 22,000 black 2000 other

1990: 67,000 students 35,000 white 24,000 black 8000 other

2000: 68,000 students 30,000 white 28,000 black 11,000 other

2007: 75,000 students 23,000 white 37,000 black 15,000 other (30-49-20)

New Private Schools in 1971

Nashville Christian Academy: Founded 1971

Franklin Road Academy: Founded 1971

Harding Academy: Founded 1971

Donelson Christian Academy: Founded 1971

Goodpasture Christian School: Founded 1971

St. Paul Christian Academy: Founded 1971

Hillwood Class of 1976 (photographed)

1971: 370 Students – 100% White

1972: 383 Students – 280 White 102 Black

1976: 189 Students – 170 White 19 Black

In memory of Hillwood students lost:

Joe Robinson School Year 1971-72

Sharon Arkovitz School Year 1972-73

Bob Kendall School Year 1973-74

Terry Miller School Year 1973-74

Clinton Elrod School Year 1974-75

David Miller School Year 1975-76

Vol. XI
From my fathers scape book. June 18, 1957, the day I was born.
Like most families, my parents read both sides of politics. The Banner was the more conservative of the two.

#busing #civilrights

Circa 1977

Tim Graves and Allen Diehl kept us in stitches with their cartoons. Allen’s impressions of some of the teachers were worthy of Saturday Night Live.

by Tim Graves

by Allen Diehl
Allen’s Comedic Impersonation Genius

Hillwood High School

Tennessean v.s. The Banner

A driveway for both: 

nashville-banner.gif

AND
tennesean.png

When I was in high school, people use to have these rolled up layers of pulp delivered to their residence twice a day. They were called “newspapers.” Prior to the internet, this is how most people got their daily dispatch. I was one of many teenagers in 1972 that delivered them in Nashville, rain, sleet or snow.

In the 70’s there were two primary newspapers in middle Tennessee. The Tennessean was delivered early in the morning, The Nashville Banner in the late afternoon. The Tennessean was considered a more Democratic news source* (I remember: Pravda on The Cumberland by some), The Banner was decidedly more Republican by nature. They debated everything, political and non. In the 1950’s when the state legislature debated the approval of daylight savings time: “The Nashville Banner and The Nashville Tennessean rarely agree on anything but the time of day — and last week they couldn’t agree on that.”

What separates news consumers from now and then?

MOST PEOPLE USE TO READ BOTH

Aside from the physical dexterity of not landing it in the creek, or worse yet, hitting your “Mr. Wilson” in the head, one had to memorize the homes that were on the paper route. This was very important, because at that time, we were independent news delivery contractors. This meant that you (the paperboy/girl) paid for any mis-deliveries out of your own pocket – and you didn’t want to have to go back for homes you forgot.

But, it wasn’t actually that hard to remember. So many households received both papers (at least in my middle-class market). All you had to think of was who didn’t get the paper. This was a very small percentage. Maybe 10% in my case.

Can you imagine this on your street today? A CNN morning paper, Fox at night? Processed news, like processed food is our collective contemporary diet – and it shows.

These guys keep screaming in my ears:

“If everyone is thinking alike – nobody’s thinking” – Benjamin Franklin

“A house divided against itself cannot stand” – Abraham Lincoln

From Heather Richardson, professor of History at Boston College:

“I don’t like to talk about politics on Facebook– political history is my job, after all, and you are my friends– but there is an important non-partisan point to make today.

What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries– is creating what is known as a “shock event.”

Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order.

When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.

Last night’s Executive Order has all the hallmarks of a shock event. It was not reviewed by any governmental agencies or lawyers before it was released, and counterterrorism experts insist they did not ask for it. People charged with enforcing it got no instructions about how to do so. Courts immediately have declared parts of it unconstitutional, but border police in some airports are refusing to stop enforcing it.

Predictably, chaos has followed and tempers are hot.

My point today is this: unless you are the person setting it up, it is in no one’s interest to play the shock event game. It is designed explicitly to divide people who might otherwise come together so they cannot stand against something its authors think they won’t like.

I don’t know what Bannon is up to– although I have some guesses– but because I know Bannon’s ideas well, I am positive that there is not a single person whom I consider a friend on either side of the aisle– and my friends range pretty widely– who will benefit from whatever it is.

If the shock event strategy works, though, many of you will blame each other, rather than Bannon, for the fallout. And the country will have been tricked into accepting their real goal.

But because shock events destabilize a society, they can also be used positively. We do not have to respond along old fault lines. We could just as easily reorganize into a different pattern that threatens the people who sparked the event.

A successful shock event depends on speed and chaos because it requires knee-jerk reactions so that people divide along established lines. This, for example, is how Confederate leaders railroaded the initial southern states out of the Union.

If people realize they are being played, though, they can reach across old lines and reorganize to challenge the leaders who are pulling the strings. This was Lincoln’s strategy when he joined together Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, anti-Nebraska voters, and nativists into the new Republican Party to stand against the Slave Power.

Five years before, such a coalition would have been unimaginable. Members of those groups agreed on very little other than that they wanted all Americans to have equal economic opportunity. Once they began to work together to promote a fair economic system, though, they found much common ground. They ended up rededicating the nation to a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Confederate leaders and Lincoln both knew about the political potential of a shock event. As we are in the midst of one, it seems worth noting that Lincoln seemed to have the better idea about how to use it.”

COPY AND PASTE. DON”T “SHARE”

#polarpolitics #nashvillebanner #tennessean

Wikipedia:

The Tennessean | The Nashville Banner

* Historian E. Thomas Wood says that “without question” Seigenthaler ran the newspaper as a liberal one.[4] 

“Lea launched The Tennessean as a paper editorially committed to the temperance movement, against the political influence of the whiskey industry.” – The Tennessean: 108 years and counting

The David Phillips Tragedy

THE DAVID PHILLIPS TRAGEDY  1839-1869

2nd LT. DAVID L. PHILLIPS – 7TH TENNESSEE

On Amazon


Company K – Captain Robert Hatton, Thomas H. Bostick, Archibald D. Norris – “The Blues” – Men from Wilson County. [2]

“Nil desperandum” – David Phillips 1862

Revised: 04FEB17

06 JAN 2017 | Tennessee State Archives | 

Yesterday, I held my GG uncles diary in my shaking hands. 

Yesterday, I learned that there are more details after David’s last diary entry March 7, 1863.

Yesterday, an hour prior, I located his cousins service revolver and two red sash’s on display in the Civil War section of the Tennessee State Museum.

Yesterday, Major Waters USA and Lt. Phillips CSA swirled around my head like the snow on Capital Hill. I looked up at Sam Davis, as I turned the corner on 7th to the state archives, praying David’s diary was where it should be. Not only did I find it, I also uncovered a lot about my Waters side of the family. An article written for the Wilson County Bicentennial, explains their Union support of the war, in a town that was very Confederate.

cemetery-image
Major Shelah Waters

192 days ago, I went to the Nashville National Cemetery to shoot the Boy Scouts planting flags for Memorial Day. My last shot was down a row of Civil War veteran headstones to capture the Minnesota Monument in the background. As I was standing up, I recognized a family name that was familiar, because it is so odd: Major Shelah Waters. There are over 20,000 Civil War graves alone in that cemetery. I randonally choose this one to lay down in front of.

David was captured for a second time (first at Seven Pines) at The Stone Wall in Pickets Charge. In that suicidal attack, the 7th were part of a handful that made it to The Angle, losing 118 out of 276 men (43%). This has been described as the high-water mark of the Confederacy.

360Âș Pano at The Angle at Gettysburg

These are exciting developments which add to the drama of this amazing man. The source of this material can be found on this FaceBook site.  A great book about the 7th Tennessee is The 7th Tennessee Infantry in the Civil War: A History and Roster, William Thomas Venner on Goodreads.

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In his diary, there were a number of pages in the front and back of the two pocket diaries, that have not been transcribed. I have included them here in this PDF. I could probably use some help with transcriptions.

Thomas and Shelah Waters

Watertown, Tennessee

My GGF’s brother, Lt. David L. Phillips, signed up for the Confederacy right after his state of Tennessee entered the American Civil War June 8, 1861. He served in Virginia all the way from Cheat Mountain to Appomattox Courthouse, being captured twice, exchanged once and escaped once.

It must have been a difficult decision for him, as Wilson County Tennessee was bitterly divided. His first cousins, Major Shelah Waters (male), Major Thomas Waters, enlisted/commissioned on the Union side with the 5th Cavalry Tennessee U.S. Shelah and David were classmates at Union University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Waters in 1857-1860 and Phillips in 1857-1861). David Phillips was a brother of Phi Gamma Delta, which is inscribed in his diary. Cousin Shelah was too. The history of Phi Gamma Delta at Union University.

Members of the extended Phillips family line in Watertown, Tennessee who fought in The War Between the States:

27 Confederate | 7 U.S. Army

Watertown Confederate Army

  • Smith Allen KIA Franklin CSA
  • Elias Benjamin Bass CSA
  • John Bass Captain CSA
  • John L. Bass CSA
  • Thomas Bass KIA d.1865 CSA
  • Thomas Bass KIA d.1863 CSA
  • John Wiseman Bass Captured CSA
  • William Emsley Bass CSA
  • Petter Donnell Co. C 4th TN Cavalry CSA
  • William Evans CSA
  • David Wilson Grandstaff captured 4th TN Cavalry CSA
  • David Wilson Grandstaff 1st LT 4th TN Cavalry Co. C CSA
  • Isaac Preston Grandstaff CSA
  • Samuel Archibald Grandstaff KIA Stones River CSA
  • William Dillard Grandstaff CSA
  • Samuel B. Lambert  CSA
  • Benjamin Phillips CSA
  • David L. Phillips – Union University – 2nd Lt. 7th Infantry
  • James Madison Phillips –  Union University – Major Forrest 4th TN Cavalry CSA
  • John Phillips CSA
  • Joshua Phillips CSA – Wounded at Shiloh, lost one eye, farm ransacked by Union
  • Matt Phillips Captain CSA
  • Sion B. Phillips CSA
  • Thomas Phillips CSA
  • William Phillips Forrest – Stones River – Shot off his horse – CSA
  • William Preston Phillips Forrest CSA
  • Edward Price CSA

 Watertown United States Army

  • Ezekiel Bass Captain USA
  • John Berry USA
  • George Oakley KIA USA
  • James Oakley Captain USA
  • John Wilson Phillips USA
  • Shelah Waters – Union University – Major 5th TN Cavalry USA
  • Thomas Waters – Union University –  Major 5th TN Cavalry USA

His diary accounts for almost ever day of his war – up until the regiment started taking significant losses in late May of 1862. Like most combat veterans, the narrative stops.

David did not reconnect with his sweetheart after he returned home from the war. He returned to teaching, and died less than four years later in 1869.

David Phillips Diary – book 1 of 2

Reading between the lines:

The drawing on the front page of David’s diary appears to be a Waning Crescent Moon behind the phrase  “Nil desperandum” latin for never despair. David was of Welsh (Celt) ancestry. It could also be a “C” for confederate.

“There is a moon goddess also worshiped by the Celts, who is associated with the lunar cycles. The word ‘crescent’ comes from the Latin term ceres meaning to ‘bring forth, create’ and crescere, the Latin term for ‘grow, thrive’.  Waning Crescent: symbolizes the expulsion of negative energy in your life, getting rid of things you know you don’t need, or those things/people/habits, etc which are harming you.”  – DaphneShadows

Excerpts from Davids Diary:

“December 3rd [1861]. Archie and I went to Rockbridge Alum Springs [Virginia] on a looking expedition. The buildings at the Springs are very nice. There are a good many sick soldiers in the rooms of the hotel which are used for a hos­pital. We got a splendid dinner at the hotel which in part is still devoted to the entertainment of visitors. Came back to camp in evening.”

“December 4th. Got a letter from John [brother]  from which I learned he was about to volunteer**. Went to Old Millboro in evening with Justiss. Made the acquaintance of a merry old toiler. Bought some apples from him and got a splendid supper at his house. Returned to camps by dark. Gilham’s regiment left for Staunton on the evening train.”

“December 13th. Day fine. Archie and I had a regular old corn shuck­ing scuffle. It was ‘give and take’ for some time; finally Archie was routed, having got a sore knee and a bruised hand. During the contest we ren­dered tent ‘hors du combat’ by knocking it down. Captain Bostic got back from home at night; boys glad to see him. He brought a great many letters for the regiment. None for me. Through some that he brought I learned with regret that Tommy, Levi, and Luster* had been drafted. Bad news from all quarters about home.”

david-phillips
3rd Lt. Phillips circa 1863

“December 16th. Up early preparing for our march. Boys didn’t like the idea of going on the Potomac. Got ourselves ready for traveling about 9. Left camps enroute for Strasburg about 9:30 a. m. We went through Staunton and took the valley turnpike. Went through town with colors fly­ing and drums beating. The ladies greeted us by waving handkerchiefs. Some I noticed weeping at, as I supposed, the recollection of son or husband who were away soldiering like us. Found the pike to be a real one running through the finest country I have seen in Virginia. The inhabitants very hospitable and generous. There seemed to be a dearth of young and mid­dle aged men. Marched about 8 miles and camped just beyond Willow Spout Spring. Adjacent to the camp ground was an old stone church in a cluster of large oaks. Preaching was appointed in the church. Went to attend the services, found the house crowded. The church is called Stonyfort and is said to be about 125 years old. Parson Boydston preached and after preaching the pastor (a fine looking man of 35 or 40) gave us a most eloquent and impressive talk.”

“December 31st. The last day of 1861 has come. I am still living the life of a soldier. I see no prospect for peace in the incoming year. Oh, how my heart would leap for joy if peace were declared and I permitted to return. I look back over my past year and see nothing of profit I have done. May my hour of usefulness soon come. I am tired of doing nothing and gaining nothing.  The sky indicates rain, the sun refuses to shine. It seems as if the dying year would weep over the unhappy state of my coun­try. May the bright sun of peace soon light up and enliven our sunny South, making our firesides happy and our homes the homes of peace. The year of 1861 aieu forever.” 

– Private David Phillips

“Seeing The Elephant”

In 1862, Hatton and his men were ordered to the Richmond area to stop Federal Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s drive on the Confederate capital. During the resulting Peninsula Campaign, Hatton served with distinction, and on May 23, 1862, he was promoted to brigadier general of the 4th Brigade, 1st Division, Army of Northern Virginia; this appointment was not confirmed by the Confederate Congress.  Just eight days later, he was shot in the head and killed while leading his Tennessee Brigade at the Battle of Fair Oaks.  -Wikipedia

In May of 1862, enlistments were up and new officers elected. This resulted in a new command structure that was leaner and more competently led, but bad news from home arrived: the utter route of Gen. John Hunt Morgan in Lebanon, Tennessee. The men of Wilson County were infuriated by the news.

“Shockingly, the boys from Wilson County received a report of a ïŹght right in the streets of their home town—Lebanon. An astonished Robert Hatton wrote, ‘The Yankees are in Lebanon? My house surrounded by a hostile foe.’  This initial story was soon followed by successive accounts of the ïŹght, each story providing details of appalling verity—not only had Confederate troops been defeated, they had run away! Colonel Hatton reacted: ‘[ I am] disgusted at 
 what I heard.’ David Phillips wrote, ‘Oh, how distressingly sad it is to be so completely cut off from home.’” – The 7th Tennessee Infantry in the Civil War

Protests were made by Tennessee regimental commanders to be reassigned to their home state. They fell on deaf ears in Richmond, Virginia. Colonel George Maney (Franklin, TN), forced the issue, employing his political connections to be shipped back home, but no others. The 7th were dumfounded by this news.

The first dance with the Grim Reaper began on May 31, 1862. Spirits were high, as their beloved 36 year old Col. Robert “Bob” Hatton, was promoted to General in command their Brigade (the 1st, 7th, 14th Tennessee and a four gun battery called Braxton’s battery). On the night of May 30th, 1862, General Hatton received word to prepare his troops for battle. “If I should not return, be a mother to my wife and children.” he prophetically wrote to his parents. To his wife Sophie: “The struggle, will no doubt, be bloody; that we will triumph, and that gloriously, I am confident. Would that I might bind to my heart, before the battle, my wife and children. That pleasure may never again be granted to me. If so, farewell; and may the God of all mercy be to you and ours, a guardian and friend. “If we meet again, we’ll smile; If not, this parting has been well.” Affectionately, your husband, R. Hatton.”

The next morning General Hatton marched his brigade 7 miles along the Richmond – Yorktown rail line.  As the Tennesseans hurried toward the conflict they passed President Jefferson Davis, and also caught glimpses of  Generals Joesph E. Johnston and Robert E. Lee along the way. The entire Confederate high-command were on the sidelines watching this unfold.

Around 2 PM Hatton received orders to fight.

 Fair Oaks Virginia: “The occasion is at hand, and I confidently expect that you will acquit yourselves as noble heroes” “load”, “fix bayonets” and finally “forward, guide center.”

In an oat field, just north of Fair Oaks, Hatton’s Brigade attacked, in the open, a brigade of Massachusetts and Michigan regiments embedded in thick woods. Early in the battle, Hatton had his horse shot out. Saber raised, he coolly moved forward on foot a short distance, before being struck down by shot or shell. He died before anyone noticed him.

A 1000 man volley decimated the green Confederates. Finally, after darkness enveloped the battlefield, the order was given to withdraw. The 7th began it’s slide to the rear, but in the darkness and tangled foliage, Private Phillips Company K stumbled into union lines and had no choice other than to surrender. He was sent to Fort Delaware. He would be exchanged 3 months later.

144 out of 594 7th Tennessee young men were claimed in the Battle of Seven Pines (24%). General Hatton remains, in stone, on the Lebanon Town Square.

general-hatton
Gen. Hatton | Lebanon Square

Gen. Bob Hatton

“The Curtain Falls”


“March 7th, 1863. Time has slipped away like magic since last I wrote in this book. Nearly seven months gone with their burden of marches, toils and battles. Five battles have I witnessed and in which I was actively en­gaged. Many miles I have marched till worn and weary, but here I am sound and well, enjoying life as best I can. For the past three months we have had an easy time, but the next six are to be dreaded. I hope I may always have such luck as I have had thus far, except ‘the lean streak’ I had at Fort Dela­ware.”

“May 10th [1862]. The events that have transpired since the first have been too extensive and important to attempt to record them here . I will have to leave them to memory to keep. Much of toil, weary marching, sleepless nights and hard fighting has fallen to the lot of this army since it left Yorktown. By the Gracious Providence of God I am here sound and unhurt. While I am preserved from the dangers of camps and the battlefields , sad news comes to me from home. Intelligence has come to me that I have lost a dear, much-beloved brother [Rev. John Phillips]. 

Oh, how distressingly sad it is to be so completely cut off from home that I cannot know only perchance whether loved ones there live and are well or laid low by disease and death . Fondly had I cherished hope that I would meet that beloved brother again, but death hath separated us. Thus have I seen one of my fondest earthly hopes decay. The next stroke may remove me from those who will be left behind . Yet how consoling it is to think of meeting him in Heaven. There we shall know no separation. It is the sacred hope of meeting my friends in Heaven if not on earth that animates my soul and nerves my arm to withstand the temptations of life around me, endure the afflictions of the soldier and willingly risk my life on the battlefield. This life is full of desperations and dangers, full of sorrow and grief, but in the next oh how happy all shall be who while here love God and keep His commandments!”

– DAVID L. PHILLIPS

Fort Delaware

pay records
May 1863 Muster

During the Battle of Fredricsburg, the 7th Tennessee held there ground against Gen. George Mead’s division despite having 2 regiments to their left break and run. Pennsylvania regiments poured through the large gap in their line. The 7th was now taking fire from 3 directions. Ammunition ran low on both sides and brutal hand to hand combat followed. There were at least two Pennsylvania soldiers that were from David’s grandfathers birthplace in Allegheny County, PA. I am researching to see if they were cousins of his. One is named David C. Philips, and was with the 5th Pennsylvania Infantry. February 2, 1863 David was promoted to 3rd Lieutenant.

In Robert E. Lee’s masterpiece Battle of Chancellorsville, the 7th was sent straight up the middle of the assault. May 3, 1863 after the Battle of Chancellorsville he made 2nd. Lt.

David Phillips was captured again at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, during Pickett’s Charge. What was left of the 7th made it all the way to The Angle in the ill fated assault on Cemetery Hill. (Union muster records conflict with this capture date. One is July 1, 1863 and the other is July 3 at Gettysburg).

He was transferred from prison at Ft. McHenry, to Ft. Delaware, to Johnson’s Island and to Point Lookout for exchange on March 14, 1865. Sometime between his arrival at City Point and the surrender at Appomattox he must have slipped away before being able to re-join the regiment. He reported to Federal authorities in Charlotte, NC, May 1, 1865, and took the Oath in Nashville on Aug 1, 1865.

Timeline:

The approximate route of the 7th Tennessee up to the Battle of Seven Pines.

“David returned to Wilson County broken in body. The brutal exposure,  long marches, starvation, particularly during his imprison­ment at several POW camps, had wrecked the physique one strong and stalwart. David had a sweetheart in Tennessee, to whom he refers several times in his diary. Probably his poor health was responsible for his never mar­rying. After the war he went back to his old profession of school teaching. He sought vainly to regain his lost health, but the ravages of the war were too great.”

The “White Plague” (typically from tuberculosis and other diseases, that consumed 7.5% of the prison population) took root in the body that had marched cour­ageously under the Stars and Bars, and on May 18, 1869, the loyal brave heart was stilled.” David is buried in the Phillips Cemetery near Watertown on Bass Road. Ironically, it also holds four members of the 40th Tennessee USCI (United States Colored Infantry).

‘The Phillips Family History’ by Harry Phillips ‱ Published by The Lebanon Democrat 1935

7th Regiment, Tennessee Infantry CSA

OVERVIEW:

1APR1839 – 18MAY1869

7th Infantry Regiment completed its organization at Camp Trousdale, Sumner County, Tennessee, in May, 1861, and in July, moved to Staunton, Virginia. The men were raised in DeKalb, Smith, Sumner, and Wilson counties. It participated in Lee’s Cheat Mountain Campaign and for a time served under General T.J. Jackson. Later it was assigned to General S.R. Anderson’s, Hatton’s, Archer’s, and McComb’s Brigade. It fought with the Army of Northern Virginia from Seven Pines to Cold Harbor, then was involved in the long Petersburg siege south of the James River and the Appomattox Campaign. This regiment reported 72 casualties during the Seven Days’ Battles, 34 at Cedar Mountain, 26 at Second Manassas, and 38 at Fredericksburg. It lost 11 killed and 45 wounded at Chancellorsville, and forty-six percent of the 249 engaged at Gettysburg. The unit surrendered 6 officers and 41 men. Its commanders were Colonels John A. Fite, John F. Goodner, and Robert Hatton; Lieutenant Colonels John K. Howard and S.G. Shepard; and Major William H. Williamson.

A great book about the 7th Tennessee is The 7th Tennessee Infantry in the Civil War: A History and Roster, William Thomas Venner on Goodreads.

Find A Grave Site

*probable Harmon Luster Henderson who later served with Forrest’s 3rd Cavalry Regiment Co. D

** Rev. John Phillips never joined. He died of unknown causes in April of 1862.

360Âș Virtual Tour of Lt. David L. Phillips gravesite and other family cemeteries in the area:

Recommended Reading:

Phillips Family History: A Brief History of the Phillips Family, Beginning with the Emigration From Wales, and a Detailed Genealogy of the Descendants … Pioneer Citizens of Wilson County, Tenn.

#7thtennessee #civilwar

Post script 6 January 2019: I found this (lebanon_herald) in the TN State Archives the other day. From around 1858 to 1878, there were only 2 days of Newspapers from Lebanon. Here is October 21, 1865 (the other paper was the 28th).

I am pretty sure this is our David Phillips. His friend Archie Norris (they served in the 7th TN, Co. K and mentioned several times in Davids diary) is mentioned, as well as Thomas Waters (Shelah’s brother).