Friday, September 25, 2009

Supporting 1LT Dan Berschinski, MMI 2003

In August, 2009, 1LT Dan Berschinski, an AOG (West Point’s Association of Graduates) scholar at MMI from 2002-2003, was seriously wounded in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device while his men were securing a village. Dan lost both of his legs, and his left arm was shattered. A member of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, 1st Battalion, 17th Regiment, Dan is convalescing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Army 1LT Dan Berschinski in Afghanistan. (Credit: Dan Berschinski’s website)

A native of Peachtree City, Georgia, where he graduated from McIntosh High School in 2002, Dan spent a year at MMI preparing for the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He graduated in the Class of 2007.

Dan as an AOG scholar here at MMI. (Credit: 2003 Orange and Black, MMI’s yearbook, MMI Archives)

Two more images from the 2003 yearbook:

Friends in Peachtree City and Fayette County, Georgia, have set up a website to support Dan. Please access from

This blog indicates that Dan Berschinski’s brigade has been taking horrific casualties outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan, and that a number of these men are with Dan at Walter Reed, some even more seriously wounded than Dan. The blog also mentions another Peachtree City resident, SGT Shawn P. McCloskey, a Green Beret in the Special Forces, who was killed in September.

Undaunted, the blog states that Dan is upbeat and positive, that he has charmed his nurses, and that he greets visitors to his hospital room with a friendly, “Hey, what’s up?”

My thanks to LTC David Bauer for bringing Dan's story/plight to my attention.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nicola Marschall and the First Confederate Flag

Nicola Marschall (1829-1917) of Marion, Alabama, a German-American artist, is generally credited with designing both the first official Confederate flag and the grey Confederate army uniform.

An 1867 self-portrait of Nicola Marschall. (Credit: Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Born into a wealthy Prussian family of tobacco merchants in 1829, Nicola Marschall, a budding artist, decided to mark his mark in the United States. In 1849, he emigrated to America landing first in New Orleans, Louisiana, and then moving on to Mobile, Alabama. Nicola Marshall relocated to Marion, Alabama, in 1851, where he opened a portrait studio and also taught art. Joining the faculty and staff of Marion Female Seminary, Marshall – a man of many talents - taught art (he studied at the celebrated Dusseldorf Academy), languages, and also instructed and performed on guitar, violin, piano, and harp.

Marion Female Seminary, Marion, Alabama. (Credit: Alabama Department of Archives and History)

With the coming Civil War in 1861, Nicola Marschall was approached in February by Mary Clay Lockett, wife of prominent attorney Napoleon Lockett of Marion, and her daughter, Fannie Lockett Moore, daughter-in-law of Alabama Governor Andrew B. Moore of Marion, to design a flag for the new Confederacy. Marschall offered three designs, one of which became the “Stars and Bars,” the first official flag of the Confederate States of America (C.S.A.), and which was first raised in Montgomery, Alabama, on March 4, 1861. He also is credited with designing the first “official” Confederate uniform.

Pattern of the seven-star “Stars and Bars” flag designed by Nicola Marshall in 1861.

Nicola Marschall monument on the grounds of the Perry County Courthouse, Marion, Alabama. (Credit: Deep Fried Kudzu)

Shivers McCollum, MMI H’45, JC’46, of Highland, Maryland, and a member of the MMI Board of Advisors, sent me a copy of a letter written by his great-great grandmother, Juila Anne Cocke, wife of State Senator Jack Fleming Cocke (a trustee of Howard College when our Chapel was built in 1857), regarding the making of the first Confederate flag in Marion. The original letter is preserved in the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery. Here is a photocopy and the transcription, both provided by Shivers:

Photocopy of the original letter in the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery (Page one).

Page two.

Transcription of the letter. (Credit: Shivers McCollum, Highland, MD)

Nicola Marschall served in the Confederate army during the war, rising in rank from private to second lieutenant, and working primarily has chief draftsman of maps and fortifications in the Mobile, Alabama, area. When the war ended in 1865, he returned to Marion and married Martha Eliza Marschall (1846-1919) of Perry County. She bore him three children. Nicola Marschall painted portraits of both he and his wife which now reside in the First White House of the Confederacy in Montgomery, Alabama.

Primarily a portrait artist, Marschall painted literally hundreds of subjects including Jefferson Davis, Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon, and Otto von Bismarck. He even got famed Confederate cavalry commander, General Nathan Bedford Forrest, to sit still long enough to have his portrait painted in 1867. Nicola Marschall was awarded a medal for his portraits at the Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia, PA, in 1876.

Portrait of General Forrest painted by Nicola Marschall in 1867. (Credit: General Nathan Bedford Forrest Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy)

Disillusioned with the economic devastation in the Reconstruction South, Nicola Marshall and his family moved to Louisville, Kentucky, in 1873, where he continued to support his family as a portrait artist until his death on February 24, 1917. Nicola Marshall was buried in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.

Another self-portrait of Nicola Marschall in 1893. (Credit: Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

John Pelham Update/Colin Kelly, Jr.

The blog about the “Gallant” Major John Pelham generated a buzz, so here are three more related images – the state historical marker pointing to the site of Pelham’s birthplace near Alexandria, Alabama (the house is now gone, but there is a small marker); the Virginia state marker at Fredericksburg, scene of Pelham’s finest hour; and the marker at the site of his mortal wounding at Kelly’s Ford, Virginia. Major Pelham died in a house in nearby Culpeper, VA (this house is also gone, but there is a small marker). John Pelham’s promotion to LTC came through after his death.

Alabama state marker to John Pelham’s birthplace. (Credit: John Pelham Historical Association)

Virginia state marker near Fredericksburg, scene of Major Pelham’s finest hour. (Credit: John Pelham Historical Association)

Marker at the site of Pelham’s mortal wounding at Kelly’s Ford, VA. (Credit: John Pelham Historical Association)

Some more John Pelham tidbits:
-When Pelham died, his body lay in state in the Confederate capitol building in Richmond, VA. At least three young women went into mourning for him.

-Jeb Stuart and his wife named their daughter Virginia Pelham Stuart.

-Famed Confederate spy, Belle Boyd, gave Pelham a Bible with the inscription: “I know thou art loved by another; I know thy wilt never be mine.”

-The “other” was Sally Dandridge of “The Bower” in West Virginia, Jeb Stuart’s sometime headquarters and scene of festive parties featuring the music of banjoist Sam Sweeney. Heroes von Brocke, of Stuart’s staff, a former Prussian officer and soldier-of-fortune, added to the overall splendor and gaiety of the parties.

-Like John Pelham, neither Jeb Stuart nor Sam Sweeney survived the war. Von Brocke was seriously wounded and, after the war, returned to his castle in Prussia where he flew the Confederate flag from the ramparts until his death.

-Several Southern towns are named for Pelham, including Pelham, Alabama. There is a John Pelham Memorial Parkway in Georgia, a Lake Pelham in Virginia, and, of course, Pelham Range at Fort McClellan, Alabama, reportedly built on Pelham Family property along Cane Creek.

Finally, here is an advertisement (given to me by Myra Jean Hopkins) for a VHS/DVD regarding the truth and myth of America’s first hero of World War II, Colin Kelly, Jr., MMI’33, USMA ’37, who was also the first West Pointer killed in the war. For those interested, the order information is included. However, this is all I have, so order at your own risk!

Ad for the Colin Kelly, Jr., VHS/DVD. (Credit: Myra Jean Hopkins and the MMI Archives)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Arthur Stewart, MMI JC '35, World-Renowned Artist, Part Two

When I posted the blog on Arthur Stewart, MMI JC ’35, I realized that I needed more images both of the artist and his work.

Rusty (Lewis M., Jr.) Stewart, MMI ’61, of Birmingham, Alabama, sent these two images of his famous uncle:

Joel R. Hillhouse, MMI H ’59, also from Birmingham, of the MMI Board of Advisors, contributed these color snapshots of his wonderful collection of Arthur Stewart paintings: