Captain Norwood Penrose Hallowell - A Real Heroe of the Civil War

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Wednesday, July 8, 2020
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Hallowell was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1839 to Morris Longstreth of the Hallowell family, and Hannah (Penrose).  Norwood and his brothers, Edward Needles and Richard Price, were raised in a household that was strongly Quaker, and strongly abolitionist; during the Civil War, their father opened his home as a hospital for wounded Union soldiers. He attended Harvard College, where he befriended Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.. He graduated in 1861 and was elected the Class Orator.

 

Capt. Norwood Penrose Hallowell

 

Hallowell's fervent abolitionism led him to volunteer for service in the Civil War, and he inspired Holmes to do the same. He was commissioned a first lieutenant on July 10, 1861, joining the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry with Holmes. Hallowell fought in the Battle of Ball's Bluff on October 21, 1861, in which he distinguished himself by leading a line of skirmishers to hold off Confederate forces. Hallowell then swam across the Potomac River, constructed a makeshift raft, and made several trips to the Virginia bank to rescue trapped Union soldiers before his raft fell apart.

 

Battle of Antietam September 17 1862 1

 

Hallowell was promoted to captain on November 26, 1861. He was wounded in the Battle of Glendale on June 30, 1862, and suffered more severe wounds in the Battle of Antietam on September 17. His left arm was shattered by a bullet but later saved by a surgeon; Holmes was shot in the neck. Both took refuge in a farmhouse (a historic site now known as the Royer-Nicodemus House and Farm) and were eventually evacuated.

 

 

Fort Wagner S Carolina

 

On April 17, 1863, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, as second-in-command (after Colonel Robert Gould Shaw) of the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first all-black regiments in the U.S.  In a letter to the governor of Massachusetts, John Murray Forbes recommended Hallowell for the promotion based on his bravery, soundness of mind, and willingness to lead a black regiment despite the fact that many found the idea "unpopular."  On May 30, he accepted Governor John A. Andrew's personal request that he be made colonel in command of the 55th Massachusetts, another all-black regiment. He and his regiment were stationed at Charleston Harbor and participated in the siege and eventual taking of Fort Wagner; Hallowell was one of the first to enter the fort after its abandonment.  Hallowell faced continuing disability due to his wounds, and was discharged on November 2, 1863.

 

54th Massachusetts 2

54th Massachusetts Regiment Painting - Civil War 

 

Hallowell moved to New York City, where he first worked for the commission house of Watts, Crane & Co., followed by a partnership with his brother Richard, as Hallowell Brothers and later Hallowell, Prescott & Co.   Hallowell married Sarah Wharton Haydock (1846–1934) in New York on January 27, 1868.  They had six children together: Anna, Robert Haydock, Norwood Penrose, John White, Esther Fisher, and Susan Morris.  He moved to Medford, Massachusetts in 1869. He became a wool broker in Boston, and was made vice president of the National Bank of Commerce of Boston in 1886.

 

Medford Ms Tree

 

Hallowell died in Medford on April 11, 1914, two days before his 75th birthday. Holmes wrote several days later that his death had left "a great space bare for him." Hallowell had been his "oldest friend...[and was] the most generously gallant spirit and I don't know but the greatest soul I ever knew....He gave the first adult impulse to my youth."  

 

 Mount Auburn Cemetery 1 

 Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts

African American writer Benjamin Griffith Brawley dedicated his 1921 book, A Social History of the American Negro, "to the memory of Norwood Penrose Hallowell (1839-1914), patriot." He is buried in the Hallowell family plot at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  For a representation of Pen Hallowell, you can find only an archival photograph of a mildly handsome bearded young man in plain tunic, one hand holding a forage cap, the other resting lightly on a sword. Even in that, though, you can see his easy athleticism and his backbone.

 

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Stonewall Jackson Monument - Charlottesville, Virginia

 

There are a half-dozen statues of Stonewall Jackson peering from pedestals, so tall he can see over three states.  That Jackson was the ablest of General Robert E. Lee’s generals is rarely questioned. The qualities of the two men complemented each other, and Jackson cooperated most effectively. In him were combined a deep religious fervour and a fiercely aggressive fighting spirit. He was a stern disciplinarian, but his subordinates and his men trusted him and fought well under his leadership. A master of rapid movement and surprise tactics, he kept his intentions sometimes so veiled in secrecy that often his own officers did not fully know his plans until they were ordered to strike.

 

Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson left and Robert E. Lee meeting for the last time at the Battle of Chancellorsville May 1863

Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson (left) and Robert E. Lee Meeting for the Last Time

 

 

Charlottesville’s Confederate statues still stand — and still symbolize a racist legacy.  The fate of the Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson monuments remain unresolved two years after the violent Unite the Right rally.  While supporters contend that the statues, installed in the 1920s, are simply memorials to the Confederacy’s war veterans, the city argues that the monuments “were intended to, and did, send messages of intimidation, exclusion and hostility to African Americans.”  No matter how the statues are interpreted, though, Charlottesville’s history of Jim Crow apartheid is undeniable. When the Jackson and Lee sculptures were dedicated, in 1921 and 1924, respectively, this college community, like the rest of the South and much of the country, was steeped in institutionalized racism.  

 

Thousands gathered for the unveiling of the monument to Gen. Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson on Oct

Thousands Gathered for the Unveiling of the Monument to Gen. Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson on Oct. 19, 1921 The Civil War was Fought from April 12, 1861 – April 9, 1865

 

Eight months before the Jackson monument was unveiled, local citizens of privileged color were aghast at a subversive wish list published Feb. 12, 1921, in the black-owned Charlottesville Messenger, and reprinted, for shock value, on the front page of the city’s white-run paper, the Daily Progress.  Titled “The New Negro,” the article called for “Teachers’ salaries based on service not on color;” a four-year high school for black students; “Better street facilities in Negro districts”; a voice for blacks in municipal government; and the abolition of “ ‘Jim Crow’ street cars.” The Daily Progress, appalled by the manifesto, echoed its flabbergasted readers in an editorial warning that “the negroes” should remember their place

 

Monument Ave Richmond Virginia 

 

Monument Avenue is an avenue in Richmond, Virginia with a tree-lined grassy mall dividing the east- and westbound traffic, punctuated by statues memorializing Virginian Confederate veterans of the American Civil War, including Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and Matthew Fontaine Maury.    The Confederate memorials on Monument Avenue have been the source of controversy since they were first built.  Opponents have pointed to these roots in the "Lost Cause" and Virginia's "Massive Resistance" to racial integration of public schools to argue that the statues symbolize white supremacy and should be removed or revised. Proponents of preservation recognize the monuments as veterans memorials erected to commemorate the hundreds of thousands of soldiers and citizens who died fighting for the South during the Civil War.

 

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"Unite the Right" Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia - August 11-12, 2017 

 

The removal movement gained momentum following a similar controversy with Charlottesville, Virginia's Robert E. Lee statue and the subsequent events of the "Unite The Right" rally on August 11–12, 2017. In late 2017, Mayor Levar Stoney announced the formation of a "Monument Avenue Commission" to solicit the public's input and ultimately provide recommendations on the future of the monuments. In mid-2018, the Commission issued its recommendations, calling for the removal of the Jefferson Davis monument while attaching permanent signage "reinterpreting" the Lee, Jackson, Stuart and Maury monuments.

 

 Protesters Gather Around General E Lee Monument

A group of Protesters Gather Around the Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue Tuesday Jun. 2, 2020, in Richmond, Va. The Crowd Protesting Police Brutality Chanted "Tear it Down"

 

During the protests that erupted after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, the statues again became a focal point in Richmond. They became a site for protests and were covered in graffiti. In June of 2020, Governor Ralph Northam announced plans to remove the Lee monument from the avenue. Further, Mayor Stoney announced plans to remove the other four Confederate statues.

 

The Old Flag Never Touched the Ground 1

Painting Titled "The Old Flag Never Touched the Ground" - The 54th Massachusetts Regiment 

 

It’s not really your fault if you don’t know who Hallowell was. His life and slim writings largely have been buried by “Gone With the Wind” nonsense. They should be revived and made required reading in locker rooms. Maybe then there wouldn’t be so many misconceptions about what constitute guts. Or such a romance with that over-glossed traitor Robert E. Lee and all the other Reb glorification that has haunted our sports fields, police stations, military bases and halls of justice.

 

Colin Kaepernick kneeling NFL protests

Colin Kaepernick Kneeling  - NFL Protests 

 

American football always has been associated with warrior culture. We have fancied it trained young men to be good leaders, made “field generals” out of them, until it has become associated with what cultural historian Michael Oriard has called “a brand of flag-waving more like superpatriotism.” In truth, just like our statues and monuments, somehow we let the priorities become misplaced. The good teammate must show conformity and mindless allegiance rather than principle, keep his mouth shut and subsume himself and all of his personal colors and convictions in, say, team crimson. Instead of immortalizing Hallowell, we forgot him.

 

HarvardMcGill1874

Harvard University American Football - McGill 1874

 

Hallowell “was a power in Harvard athletics,” according to one of the earliest histories of football, who enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 just after graduating. But what you can be sure of is that he was a hell of a rower and a swimmer. During the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, the 22-year-old swam across the Potomac River three times through bullet-pocked water to rescue trapped and wounded comrades. You can get an additional idea of Hallowell’s virtuosity from the fact that his son Jack was a two-time all-American end in football and his grandson Norwood Penrose III was a runner who finished sixth in the 1,500 meters at the 1932 Summer Olympics before serving aboard warships in World War II.

 

Philadelphia Inquirer

 

Pen Hallowell had something more than physical courage, and so did his elder brother, Edward “Ned” Needles Hallowell. “The Fighting Quakers,” as they were nicknamed, were sons of a Philadelphia abolitionist whose home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. As boys they spirited fugitive slaves to safety in the family carriage.

 

Philadelphia Abolisionists

Ilustration of Philadelphia Abolitionists 1860's

 

As men they volunteered as officers with the legendary all-black 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments. As for Ned Hallowell, he was shot three times charging with the left wing of the martyred 54th Massachusetts at Fort Wagner, just behind his doomed friend Robert Gould Shaw. With Shaw’s body lying in a sandy ditch with his troops, Ned Hallowell assumed command of the regiment. Assigned the rear guard during a perilous retreat in a battle called Olustee, he and his men spent 20,000 cartridges checking the Confederates and then countermarched to save a train of intermingled black and white wounded soldiers that had broken down. When they couldn’t fix the motor, they attached ropes to the engine cars and manually hauled that bloody train to safety, with Confederate gunfire guttering at their backs.

 

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African Americans Repairing Railroad Tracks - 1860

 

While those men were towing a locomotive by ropes, Pen Hallowell was beating in the doors of Congress trying to get them paid equal to white soldiers. The 54th and 55th were offered just $7 a month, while white soldiers got $13. Largely thanks to the brothers’ efforts, Congress finally approved equal pay for black soldiers in 1864. Why bring any of this up? Because it’s an example of what black-white alliances can do, for one thing. Because Sunday is Flag Day, for another. And because every well-meaning but unread white athlete, coach, owner, athletic director and sportswriter needs to understand that Pen Hallowell, to whom black lives really did matter, lost his war. And football had no small part in that.

 

 Freedom

 

The vague phrase “systemic racism” is not just perpetuated by men with badges. It’s also propagated by our false victory narratives. There have been few more powerful cultural narrators than the NFL and the NCAA, with their close association with military triumphalism. They have been terrible teachers of historical truth, lousy with misplaced definitions of valor. Pen Hallowell was alive to hear Harvard football coach W. Cameron Forbes declare in 1900 that American football was “the expression of strength of the Anglo-Saxon. It is the dominant spirit of the dominant race, and to this it owes its popularity and its hope of permanence.” Then there was that Princeton academic and assistant football coach named Woodrow Wilson, who rewrote the Civil War in volumes of purported American history so racist that they enraged Hallowell because they so “abounded with apologies for slavery.”  Hallowell tried to fight back in the post-war battle of values. He wrote essays and speeches devoted to the bravery of black soldiers and those conscientious outliers, abolitionists. On Memorial Day in 1896, he gave a remembrance address at Harvard. Sickened by romantic war myths in which the treachery and slave-driving of the Confederacy were painted over as cavalier spirit, Hallowell said, “To ignore the irreconcilable distinction between the cause of the North and that of the South is to degrade the war.”

 

 

Yet isn’t that what we have done? We have degraded that war — to the point that we hardly know what real honor is anymore, much less how to coach it on our playing fields. Degraded it until Colin Kaepernick was reviled for a simple show of conscience on racism. Degraded it until racial justice and the flag seemed in such conflict that a decent man such as Drew Brees couldn’t think clearly and make a clean judgment. Degraded it to the point that Pen Hallowell has faded to a relative obscurity, except among war buffs and historians, while the University of Mississippi kept Colonel Reb as a mascot until 2003. Even now frat boys will dress in the costumes of traitors to the flag at cotillions, without the first blush of hot shame.

 

Mountain carving and train as visitors prepare to watch the nightly laser light show 1

What Will Happen to Stone Mountain, America’s Largest Confederate Memorial?  

The Georgia landmark is a testament to the enduring legacy of white supremacy!

 

Baltimore uprooted General Lee under the cover of night. New Orleans removed its four Confederate statues to mixed reactions—some voicing relief, others, disapproval. And with the violence that followed the events in Charlottesville, when white nationalists killed one counter-protestor and injured 19 more, the question of how America deals with its history of racism has continued to grow in urgency But what’s a state to do when the monument in question is carved 42 feet deep and 400 feet above ground into a granite mountain, with figures of General Lee, General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis larger than the presidential visages of Mount Rushmore?

 

Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial CUP

 

“We must never celebrate those who defended slavery and tried to destroy the Union.  The visible image of Stone Mountain’s edifice remains a blight on our state and should be removed,” said Stacy Abrams, a Democratic candidate for Georgia governor, on Twitter in the days after the Charlottesville violence. And while Abrams is far from the only voice to call for the memorial’s removal, her call has been met by many Georgians who want the memorial to remain untouched.  With arguments raging across the country about the validity of Confederate monuments and whether they offer valuable history lessons or simply perpetuate the inaccurate “Lost Cause” mythology, Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial offers an example of the dark past of some monuments—and shows how hard their removal may be.

 

 NFL Head Coaches

NFL Owners Have a Problem With Coaches of Color - League Policy Requires Teams to Interview Minority Candidates for Top Jobs

But One Rule Doesn’t Make Up for Deep-Seated Prejudice (January, 2020)

 

It’s the 21st century, yet 85 percent of the authorities in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the coaches, athletic directors, chancellors, presidents and conference commissioners who run it, are white. So are 28 of the NFL’s 32 head coaches. Almost all of them say they are trying to figure out how to “support” black players. As they filter back to their campuses and team facilities, there are a lot of hard conversations about race and patriotism. Whether to emulate the bent knee of Kaepernick in protest. Whether to support Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins in their quest to efface John C. Calhoun, who called slavery “a positive good,” from Clemson’s campus.

 

 Fritz Pollard Brown University 1916

 

Fritz Pollard - An African American Founding Father of the NFL who Made History

as NFL's First Black Coach and Quarterback in 1916

 

If we want football to be something worth preserving, we should demand that it celebrates the right qualities — and people. Here’s a helpful suggestion to the coaches: Try reading a little Hallowell on the subject of what it is to really fight for each other. In the slim volumes produced by that genuine patriot and war hero are some things that may surprise them. For instance, Nick Saban and his Alabama players probably don’t know that after the war Hallowell helped finance a private school for black students in Calhoun, Ala., with Booker T. Washington. But most important is what Hallowell has to teach about courage and protest. “The courage necessary to face death in battle is not of the highest order,” Hallowell wrote. He saw a “higher and rarer courage” in the “long suffering and patient endurance” of the soldiers so invested in their equal pay protest that they fought for 18 months without accepting a cent until they won fair treatment.

 

Mount Auburn Cemeter Misc View 1 

Mount Auburn Cemetery in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Miscellaneous View) 

 

Hallowell and his brother are buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass., with headstones so small they seem like chips compared with Confederate monuments. When Hallowell finally died in 1914, his close friend and compatriot Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. called him “the most generously gallant spirit, and I don’t know but the greatest soul I ever knew.” If there was a peerless man who deserves to be on a height, it’s Pen Hallowell. Yet look what we have done to him. Look what we have done to all of us.