Monday, April 16, 2018

Flour as a war target

In April 1861 the Civil War was started when Ft. Sumter was attacked. The tale from the Revolutionary War, below, from an 1831 children's book, describes how a miller trickily did not lie while protecting barrels of flour from the British.

Immediately after the attack on Ft. Sumner in April 1861, barrels of flour in the area were taken to the safest place in Washington City (DC) - the US Capitol building.  Ovens were built to bake bread for the soldiers who initially were staying in the Capitol.

Piles of flour barrels in the 'crypt' under the Rotunda -

Flour raid, Southerners loading the wagons with flour barrels -

Mr. Wheeler saving the public flour from destruction

"1. The English soldiers, after the battle of Lexington, proceeded to Concord, and there threw five hundred pounds of ball into the river and wells. They also destroyed about sixty barrels of flour. A considerable quantity of flour was saved by a Mr. Wheeler. The flour was stored in his barn. Some of it was his own; the rest of it belonged to the public.

2. The British officers and soldiers, after searching several stores and barns, came to the barn of Mr. Wheeler. It was locked. A British officer told him to get the key and open it. He did so: when, lo! a large number of barrels of flour were in sight. The officer called his soldiers to come and destroy them.

3. "Sir," said Mr. Wheeler, putting his hand on to a barrel, "This is my flour. I am a miller, sir. Yonder, stands my mill. I get my living by it. In the winter, I grind a great deal of grain, and get it ready for the market in the spring. This," pointing to one barrel, "is the flour of wheat; this," pointing to another, "is the flour of corn; this is the flour of rye. This," putting his hand on to his own casks, "is my flour, this is my wheat, this is my rye." He told the truth: the barrels upon which he put his hand, were his. The officer thought they were all his. Mr. Wheeler was under no obligation to undeceive him. What he said was the truth: this was right.

4. "Well," said the officer, "we do not intend to injure private property." Upon this, he turned and went out, leaving many barrels belonging to the public, untouched."
The Child's History of the United States  by Charles Augustus Goodrich. Boston: 1836 /1831

©2018 Patricia Bixler Reber
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