A SCRATCH WITH THE REBELS, A PENNSYLVANIA ROUNDHEAD AND A SOUTH CAROLINA CAVALIER. 2007 by Carolyn Poling Schriber. They were Scotch-Irish, Presbyterian, first-generation Americans. They were alike in many ways but different in one trait that mattered. One was Union; the other, Confederate. James McCaskey, a member of the Roundhead Regiment, came from a farm in western Pennsylvania. He believed in individual rights for all men. Gus Smythe, Washington Light Infantry, 24th South Carolina, was a college student and a supporter of states' rights. This is the true story of how they came to their opposing position, and how the Battle of Secessionville altered not only their own lives, but the lives of those who share their experiences.
Author Carolyn Schriber received her PhD in History from the University of Colorado, where she worked in two very different fields: medieval Europe and nineteenth-century America. She enjoyed a successful career as a tenured professor at Rhodes College, specializing in medieval history and publishing extensively on relationships between Anglo-Norman bishops and kings in the twelfth century. She also served as Editor-in-Chief of the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies (ORB), an early and extremely successful approach to harnessing the resources of the internet to facilitate historical research. Now she has retired to Professor Emerita status and turned her attention to her second love, the history of America's Civil War.
Schriber has produced an ambitious study of the Battle of Secessionville, the first re-examination of the impact of that battle in over a decade. She offers a fresh perspective and a valuable new approach to some of issues concerning the American Civil War. After extensive research, she has successfully blended the personal stories of two opposing soldiers with a detailed account of the battle. With a clear and engaging writing style, A Scratch with the Rebels illuminates the depth and diversity of perspectives from both sides of the conflict. It is an absorbing history for Civil War buffs and historians, as well as a general audience. Civil War book reviewer Ed Porter of THE LONE STAR wrote: "This book will really hold the reader's attention!" -- November 2009 issue.
Excerpts from A SCRATCH WITH THE REBELS From "We Know Only Our Country:" "By the late 1850s a unique ideological struggle was taking shape in America--one in which the same rhetoric could be employed to explain two opposing sides. Supporters of the Union argued for their right to defend themselves against those who would destroy their state. Those who wanted to secede from the Union defended their right to rebel against injustice. Abolitionists spoke out against slavery because it denied the slaves their individual liberties; slave-owners opposed any governmental interference in their affairs because it denied that same individual liberty to the slave owner. Northern Abolitionists called slave owning a form of tyranny and wanted it abolished; Southern planters called attempts to control their affairs a form of tyranny. Both sides sought political freedom, and both believed passionately in the righteousness of their causes. When civil war finally broke out, it would see men of Scotch-Irish ancestry fighting in both the Union and Confederate ranks--men who quoted identical scriptures to defend their opposing positions."
From "Grinding the Seed Corn:" Weather was another source of frustration and unfulfilled expectations. Winter months tend to drag out--cold, damp, and gloomy even in the South. The Pennsylvania Roundheads were used to harsh winters at home. They expected unrelenting cold, bare trees, dead-looking vegetation, and periodic snowfalls that made walking treacherous. They also understood the mess of slush that resulted from an occasional thaw. That was what they knew of winter, and in their camps they prepared as best they could for such conditions. But the South Carolina climate defied definition..." "...Beaufort was considered one of the healthier locations on the South Carolina coast and had at one time been used as a health resort. Still, the Union forces suffered greatly from the climate and the diseases so prevalent there. During the month of March 1862, there were 17,821 men stationed on the Sea Islands. Of these, 665 suffered from diarrhea and dysentery, 156 from diagnosed malaria, 183 from remittent fevers that were probably malarial, 150 from colds and bronchitis, and 138 from typhoid. Robert Moffatt's diary records that he suffered a bout with mumps for ten days in March. Another 2,472 men were ill from wounds and other undiagnosed ailments. Thus over twenty percent of the troops were incapacitated at some period during the month...."
From "Onward to Charleston:" "Captain Cline and his men were taken to the fortifications near Secessionville, where they were apparently accorded all due respect as prisoners of war. On 5 June, the captain received permission to write to his commander. He reported, 'We have been very kindly treated by the citizens and soldiers among whom we have been. I do not lay the blame of our capture upon any one officer in particular. I would just say, that had we been properly supported when the charge was made, we might not have been taken...'"
An excerpt from THE SOUTH CAROLINA HISTORICAL MAGAZINE, Volume III, 2010, reads:
"Carolyn Poling Schriber's work A Scratch with the Rebels: A Pennsylvania Roundhead and a South Carolina Cavalier successfully bridges the gap in the historical record....Schriber sheds new light on this bloody encounter [Secessionville, SC] by utilizing the words of the soldiers themselves--taken from official records, local newspapers, and diaries--to "recreate the experience of one small theater of operations in one short period of time during America's Civil War" (p. vii). Through her extensive narrative, which revolves around tghe expereinces of two ordinary soldiers, the author provides an element that has previously been lacking in treatments of Secessionville."
204 pages, 7 x 10 Softbound ISBN: 978-0-9793772-0-4 LOC: 2007928766