Friday, October 02, 2015

New and Noteworthy--Life and Death in Chicago's Camp Douglas

The Story of Camp Douglas: Chicago's Forgotten Civil War Prison, David L. Keller,History Press, 2015, 258 pp, profusely illustrated with b/w images, end notes, bibliography, index, $21.95.

From the Publisher: More Confederate soldiers died in Chicago's Camp Douglas than on any Civil War battlefield. Originally constructed in 1861 to train forty thousand Union soldiers from the northern third of Illinois, it was converted to a prison camp in 1862. Nearly thirty thousand Confederate prisoners were housed there until it was shut down in 1865. Today, the history of the camp ranges from unknown to deeply misunderstood. David Keller offers a modern perspective of Camp Douglas and a key piece of scholarship in reckoning with the legacy of other military prisons.

About the author: David Keller founded the Camp Douglas Restoration Foundation in 2010 and has been involved in the education on and recognition of Camp Douglas for many years.  Retired from the banking industry, he has been a prolific writer and speaker on both the banking industry and his second passion, soccer refereeing.  He is a docent at the Chicago History Museum and a popular speaker on Camp Douglas and the Civil War. The Camp Douglas Restoration Foundation has conducted four archaeological excavations on the site of Camp Douglas and has a major objective to develop and operate a museum on the site. He and his wife are long time residents of Chicago. 

New and Noteworthy--African American Doctors, Nurses And The Freedman's Hospital

African American Medicine in Washington, D.C.:  Healing The Capital During The Civil War Era, Heather Mutts, History Press, 2014, b/w illustrations, end notes, bibliography, index, $19.99. 

From The Publisher: The service of African Americans in defense of the Union during the Civil War required African American nurses, doctors and surgeons to heal those soldiers. 

In the nation’s capital, these brave health care workers created a medical infrastructure for African Americans by African Americans. Preeminent surgeon Alexander T. Augusta fought discrimination, visited President Lincoln, testified before Congress and aided the war effort. Washington’s Freedmen’s Hospital was formed to serve the District’s growing free African American population, eventually becoming the Howard University Medical Center. 

These physicians would form the National Medical Association, the largest and oldest organization representing African American doctors and patients. Author Heather M. Butts recounts the heroic lives and work of Washington’s African American medical community during the Civil War.

About the Author: Heather Butts is an instructor of bioethics and public health law at Columbia University and adjunct professor at Saint John's School of Law.  At Columbia University she has served on the institutional review board. She received degrees from Princeton University, Saint John's University School of Law, a master's degree from Harvard University's School of Public Health. She is the author of Alexander Thomas Augusta: Physician, Teacher and Human Rights Activist.

New and Noteworthy---Empty Sleeves: Amputation In The Civil War South

Empty Sleeves: Amputation In The Civil War South, Brian Craig Miller, University of Georgia Press, 280pp, 20 b/w illustrations, endnotes, bibliography, index, $29.95.

From The Publisher:    The Civil War acted like a battering ram on human beings, shattering both flesh and psyche of thousands of soldiers. Despite popular perception that doctors recklessly erred on the side of amputation, surgeons labored mightily to adjust to the medical quagmire of war.

 Brian Craig Miller shows in Empty Sleeves, the hospital emerged as the first arena where southerners faced the stark reality of what amputation would mean for men and women and their respective positions in southern society after the war. Thus, southern women, through nursing and benevolent care, prepared men for the challenges of returning home defeated and disabled.
Still, amputation was a stark fact for many soldiers. On their return, southern amputees remained dependent on their spouses, peers, and dilapidated state governments to reconstruct their shattered manhood and meet the challenges brought on by their newfound disabilities. It was in this context that Confederate patients based their medical care decisions on how comrades, families, and society would view the empty sleeve.

In this highly original and deeply researched work, Miller explores the ramifications of amputation on the Confederacy both during and after the Civil War and sheds light on how dependency and disability reshaped southern society.  Empty Sleeves: Amputation In The Civil War South reveals how amputation influenced definitions of manhood, allowing dependency to be recognized as part of southern masculinity

Brian Craig Miller is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair of History at Emporia State University and the forthcoming editor of the journal Civil War History. Miller is the author of  John Bell Hood and the Fight for Civil War Memory (Univ. of TN Press, 2010) and A Punishment on the Nation: An Iowa Soldier Endures the Civil War (Kent State, 2012). He is currently working on an exploration of Walt Disney and Civil War Memory. His work has been supported by numerous fellowships, including a Mellon Fellowship from the Huntington Library, two Mellon Fellowships from Virginia Historical Society, a Ballard Breaux Fellowship from the Filson in Louisville, and the Reynolds fellowship from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Miller is an active member of several historical organizations, including the Southern Historical Association and the Society of Civil War Historians. When he is not writing, Miller enjoys running, as he is attempting to run a half marathon in all 50 states (and DC). He has completed 21 so far, most recently in Whitefish, Montana.

Monday, September 21, 2015

News---Civil War MOH Winner Buried As a Pauper in England Receives Headstone

Civil War MOH Recipient, Buried in Pauper’s Grave, Gets Marker, Adam L. Mathis, Stars and Stripes, September 11, 2015.

A U.S. Medal of Honor recipient whose body lay for nearly a century in an unmarked grave has been rescued from obscurity thanks to the efforts of a British amateur historian. Maurice Wagg, one of thousands of Britons who served in the U.S. Civil War, was buried in a pauper’s grave at the East London Cemetery when he died in 1926. The sailor received the Medal of Honor for helping to rescue the crew of the USS Monitor, an iron-clad vessel that sank during a storm off the North Carolina coast in 1862.

Michael Hammerson identified Wagg’s grave in the course of a project he began several years ago to gather information about Civil War veterans buried in England, Wales and Scotland. The Civil War enthusiast was among nearly a dozen Americans and Britons who gathered Thursday to dedicate a new marker for Wagg’s grave. The marker was provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and arranged for by Hammerson and the Sons of Union Veterans.

“I’ll do my best to try and trace where any of them are and, if possible, to try and get some information about their careers, their lives before the war, their lives after the war and obviously where they are buried,” Hammerson said.

Mike Garrick, a great-great-great-nephew of Wagg, said he knew of his distant uncle but was ignorant of his military service.  “My family and I appreciate the time and effort that has gone into organizing and researching his story,” Garrick said after the dedication. 

Hammerson thinks there are many more graves and stories out there to be discovered. He and other researchers have identified about 1,300 Civil War veterans, on both sides, who died in mainland Britain, he said.

Hammerson can use pension records from the U.S. National Archives to track where Civil War veterans lived, but finding their graves can be difficult because of lost records, graves that lack markers and the cost of conducting searches. Wagg’s pension records named of the cemetery in which he was buried and indicated the grave’s precise location.  “As with so many things, it’s a big ongoing project … I’ll certainly never finish it and I think its one of those projects that will probably never be finished in a way,” Hammerson said.

U.S. Navy Capt. Mark B. Rudesill, naval attache for the U.S. Embassy in London, salutes the newly installed grave marker of Maurice Wagg, a U.S. sailor buried in London who received the Medal of Honor. A ceremony was held on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. The U.S. Veterans Administration recently supplied a gravestone for Wagg.

 Text and Image Source: Stars and Stripes

Sunday, September 20, 2015

New and Noteworthy: Drilling For Battle and Drilling for Reenactments

Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training Combat, and Small-Unit Infantry Tactics, Earl J. Hess, Louisiana State University Press, 300pp., 34 black and white illustrations and diagrams, appendices, endnotes, bibliography, index $45.00.

From the Publisher: For decades, military historians have argued that the introduction of the rifle musket-with a range five times longer than that of the smoothbore musket-made the shoulder-to-shoulder formations of linear tactics obsolete.

Author Earl J. Hess challenges this deeply entrenched assumption. He contends that long-range rifle fire did not dominate Civil War battlefields or dramatically alter the course of the conflict because soldiers had neither the training nor the desire to take advantage of the musket rifle's increased range.

Drawing on the drill manuals available to officers and a close reading of battle reports, Civil War Infantry Tactics demonstrates that linear tactics provided the best formations and maneuvers to use with the single-shot musket, whether rifle or smoothbore musket.

The linear system was far from an outdated relic that led to higher casualties and prolonged the war. Indeed, regimental officers on both sides of the conflict found the formations and maneuvers in use since the era of the French Revolution to be indispensable to the survival of their units on the battlefield. The training soldiers received in this system, combined with their extensive experience in combat, allowed small units a high level of articulation and effectiveness.

Unlike much military history that focuses on grand strategies, Hess zeroes in on formations and maneuvers (or primary tactics), describing their purpose and usefulness in regimental case studies, and pinpointing which of them were favorites of unit commanders in the field. The Civil War was the last conflict in North America to see widespread use of the linear tactical system, and Hess convincingly argues that the war also saw the most effective tactical performance yet in America's short history.

Civil War Librarian: Chapters include: European Tactical Heritage, Nrother American Tactical Heritage, Tactical Manuals and the management of Men; Training; Moving Forward and the Art of Skirmishing; Multiple Lines, Echelons and Squares; Changing Front; Columns; Multiple Maneuvers; Large Formations; Tactical Developments After the Civil War; Comparison and Context; Tactical Summary of the Civil War; Tactical Glossary of the Civil War.

Hess offers not just a re-statement of tactical manuals but specific uses of the tactics in specific battles. For multiple maneuvers he discusses the 32nd Indiana at Shiloh, the 83rd Pennsylvania at Gaines' Mill, 61st and 64th New York at Antietam, 63rd New York at Fredericksburg,19th Ohio at Stones River, 23rd Tennessee at Chickamauga; 12th New Jersey at Burgess' Mill.  Diagrams show the movement of the units with the orders that were given.

This book will delight all who are in command of American Civil War reenactors and wish to replicate actual battlefield movements.

New and Noteworthy: Newspapers, Fools, Hypocrites, Scoundrels, Duty, Choice and Citizenship

Defining Duty In The Civil War: Personal Choice, Popular Cuture and the Union Home Front, J. Matthew Gallman, University of North Carolina Press, profuse illustrated with black and white illustrations, endnotes, bibliography, index, 330 pages, $45.00

 From the Publisher: The Civil War thrust Americans onto unfamiliar terrain, as two competing societies mobilized for four years of bloody conflict. Concerned Northerners turned to the print media for guidance on how to be good citizens in a war that hit close to home but was fought hundreds of miles away.

They read novels, short stories, poems, songs, editorials, and newspaper stories. They laughed at cartoons and satirical essays. Their spirits were stirred in response to recruiting broadsides and patriotic envelopes. This massive cultural outpouring offered a path for ordinary Americans casting around for direction.

Examining the breadth of Northern popular culture, J. Matthew Gallman offers a dramatic reconsideration of how the Union's civilians understood the meaning of duty and citizenship in wartime. Although a huge percentage of military-aged men served in the Union army, a larger group chose to stay home, even while they supported the war.

This path breaking study investigates how men and women, both white and black, understood their roles in the People's Conflict. Wartime culture created humorous and angry stereotypes ridiculing the nation's cowards, crooks, and fools, while wrestling with the challenges faced by ordinary Americans. Gallman shows how thousands of authors, artists, and readers together created a new set of rules for navigating life in a nation at war.

Forthcoming: Cold Harbor To The Crater Essays

Cold Harbor to the Crater: The End of the Overland Campaign, Gary Gallagher and Caroline Janney, editors,  The University of North Carolina Press, 360 pages. $35.00, September 28, 2015

From The Publisher:  Between the end of May and the beginning of August 1864, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Gen. Robert E. Lee oversaw the transition between the Overland campaign—a remarkable saga of maneuvering and brutal combat—and what became a grueling siege of Petersburg that many months later compelled Confederates to abandon Richmond. Although many historians have marked Grant's crossing of the James River on June 12–15 as the close of the Overland campaign, this volume interprets the fighting from Cold Harbor on June 1–3 through the battle of the Crater on July 30 as the last phase of an operation that could have ended without a prolonged siege. The contributors assess the campaign from a variety of perspectives, examining strategy and tactics, the performances of key commanders on each side, the centrality of field fortifications, political repercussions in the United States and the Confederacy, the experiences of civilians caught in the path of the armies, and how the famous battle of the Crater has resonated in historical memory. As a group, the essays highlight the important connections between the home front and the battlefield, showing some of the ways in which military and nonmilitary affairs played off and influenced one another.

Contributors include Keith S. Bohannon, Stephen Cushman, M. Keith Harris, Robert E. L. Krick, Kevin M. Levin, Kathryn Shively Meier, Gordon C. Rhea, and Joan Waugh.

New and Noteworthy--John Bell Hood Redeemed By His Own Words and The Words of His Doctor

The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood, Stephen M. Hood, Savas Beatie Publishing,  284 pp., black and white illustrations, appendix bibliography, index,, 2015, $32.95.

John Bell Hood viewed by historians as being initially ferocious and then pathetic is now redeemed. His side of the story, Advance and Retreat, has been labeled as misleading and self serving. The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood offers over 200 documents that reinforce the findings of John Bell Hood: The r Rise, Fall and Resurrection of a Confederate General offered by Stephen M. Hood and Savas Beatie Publishing in 2013.

Notable among the twelve chapters is 'Dr. John T. Darby's Medical Reports Concerning Hood's Wounds suffered at Gettysburg and Chickamauga which  is a superb discussion relying on primary sources. As annotated by the Stephen Hood,  it is a fine example of what a Civil War era doctor would know about wound care and what therapies existed at the time. Supported by one of the appendices entitled 'Laudanum, Legends and Lore', The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood lays to rest historian Stanley Horn's reference to local folklore that John Bell Hood became either an addict or a drunk in the last two years of the war.

Since the end of the war, writers have offered speculations regarding Hood military decisions and campfire conduct. Soon military historians will have to reckon with Stephen Hood's The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood and revisit the Atlanta Campaign and the battles of Spring Hill and Nashville.

Friday, September 11, 2015

News---Loving the Victorian Life, They Recreate It For Themselves Everyday

 I love the Victorian era. So I decided to live in it, Sarah A. Chrisman, Vox Online, September 9, 2015.

My husband and I study history, specifically the late Victorian era of the 1880s and '90s.  Our methods are quite different from those of academics. Everything in our daily life is connected to our period of study, from the technologies we use to the ways we interact with the world.

Five years ago we bought a house built in 1888 in Port Townsend, Washington State — a town that prides itself on being a Victorian seaport.  When we moved in, there was an electric fridge in the kitchen: We sold that as soon as we could. Now we have a period-appropriate icebox that we stock with block ice. Every evening, and sometimes twice a day during summer, I empty the melt water from the drip tray beneath its base.

Every morning I wind the mechanical clock in our parlor.  Each day I write in my diary with an antique fountain pen that I fill with liquid ink using an eyedropper.  My inkwell and the blotter I use to dry the ink on each page before I turn it are antiques from the 1890s; I buy my ink from a company founded in 1670. My sealing wax for personal letters comes from the same company, and my letter opener was made sometime in the late Victorian era from a taxidermied deer foot.

There are no modern lightbulbs in our house.  When Gabriel and I have company we use early electric lightbulbs, based on the first patents of Tesla and Edison. When it's just the two of us, we use oil lamps. When we started using period illumination every day, we were amazed by how much brighter the light is from antique oil lamps than from modern reproductions.

Full Text Continued at Text's Source:  Vox

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

News--Gettysburg NMP Announces Exam Date for Battlefield Guides

 The Licensed Battlefield Guide Examination: December 5, 2015
Angela Atkinson, Supervisor Park Ranger / LBG Supervisor is pleased to announce that an examination will be held in Gettysburg on Saturday, December  5, 2015 as part of the four-tiered process of licensing individuals to guide at the Gettysburg National Military Park. At this time we do not know how many individuals taking this exam will ultimately receive a guide license. Candidates who successfully complete all four tiers (explained in the documents below) will ultimately be licensed as the needs of the Gettysburg National Park, the Gettysburg Foundation, and the Licensed Battlefield Guide Service dictates.  No new examinations will be given until such time as all successful candidates are processed and licensed.  One should not be expected again for a period of several years and certainly not as regularly in the past.
On this page will be found links to all documents you will require in order to understand the licensing process and what will be expected of successful candidates.   Instructions on how to register for the upcoming December 2015 test are also linked below.  Please read all documents before registering.
  • Tier 1 – Written Examination:   Saturday, December 5, 2015
  • Location:  Harrisburg Area Community College, Gettysburg Campus
  • Time:  9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. (an hour and a half break will be offered for lunch)  Candidates will be asked to arrive at 8:15 A.M. in order to sign in, register, and be seated.
  • Cost: $100.00 (Checks and Money Orders only!  Payable to the Department of the Interior / National Park Service by submitting the appropriate invoice.  This invoice is provided via a link below.
  • Deadline to register:  Your application, consisting of the required invoice and check, must be postmarked no later than Friday, November 13, 2015. NO LATE APPLICATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED!
Examination Site:
The December 5, 2015 Licensed Battlefield Guide Examination will be held on the Gettysburg Campus of the Harrisburg Area Community College,  731 Old Harrisburg Road, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Candidates will enter through the main lobby. Please be prompt. Late arrivals cannot be accommodated.

 Text From:

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New and Noteworthy: Science Meets Lincoln's Assassination and an Author Interview

A Finger In Lincoln's Brain: What Modern Science Reveals About Lincoln, His Assassination, And Its Aftermath, E. Lawrence Abel, Praeger an imprint of ABC-CLIO, 270 pp., 18 b/w illustration, bibliographic end notes, bibliography, index, $48.00.

CWL:  E. Lawrence Abel brings his professional training in psychology and anatomy to a comprehensive examination of the Lincoln assassination. His arguments deal with the sciences of ballistics, disease, human behavior. Very well written in an accessible style. Myths and misunderstandings are explored and explained. Very likely to be the touchstone for all past and future considerations of the Lincoln assassination.

From the Publisher: In this book, E. Lawrence Abel sheds much-needed light on the fascinating details surrounding the death of Abraham Lincoln, including John Wilkes Booth's illness that turned him into an assassin, the medical treatment the president is alleged to have received after he was shot, and the significance of his funeral for the American public. 

The author provides an in-depth analysis of the science behind the assassination, a discussion of the medical care Lincoln received at the time he was shot and the treatment he would have received if he were shot today, and the impact of his death on his contemporaries and the American public.

The book examines Lincoln's fatalism and his unbridled ambition in terms of empirical psychological science rather than the fanciful psychoanalytical explanations that often characterize Lincoln psychohistories. The medical chapters challenge the long-standing description of Lincoln's last hours and examine the debate about whether Lincoln's doctors inadvertently doomed him.

The Interview: 

CWL: You suggest that Booth's shot was a 'lucky one.' With Booth so close to Lincoln, how could Booth have missed his target?

ELA: Even at a distance of 5 feet, a derringer is inaccurate. I have just written an article for the Surratt Courier going into this in depth and I also cover it in detail in my talk at the archives (with illustrations).  You can see it by googling:  e. Lawrence Abel archives youtube.  In short, the youtube shows that an expert aiming at a target five feet away, missed, and there is also a clip showing that the gun had a lot of recoil, causing it to jerk upward from the target. It was "lucky" in the sense that Booth was likely aiming at Lincoln's back (the larger target).

Recently Dr. Charles Leale has been excoriated for his medical treatment of Lincoln?  Do you agree?

ELA: No, he did what he was trained to do. Although what he did would be sanctioned today, he shouldn't be blamed for making what in those days, wasn't a mistake. The ones who should be "excoriated" are the other doctors who also inserted their fingers into Lincoln's brain. It's as if they thought their fingers were better than Leale's.


CWL: Recently, historians and psychologists have described Lincoln has being both emotionally depressed and fatalistic.  You suggest that Lincoln may have dealt with these conditions by successfully managing his depression, fatalism  and his ambition.  How so?

ELA: I don't suggest he did other than his fear of death [that] motivated him to do things that would result in a "symbolic immortality" such as becoming president, issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.

CWL:  What does a modern understanding of forensics make clear about Lincoln's wound?

ELA: The fact that the wound was smooth and round means that Booth had to have shot Lincoln from Lincoln's right and not behind him. This is because Lincoln was leaning to his left when he was shot, and the only way to get a round smooth entry wound is if the gun is perpendicular to the target. If Booth were standing behind him, the entry wound would have been oblique and sharp edged. 

CWL: In what ways does your professional career bring clarity to the many myths of the assassination?

ELA: Coming from a science background, I focused on issues that other historians largely ignored because they don't feel comfortable dealing with aspects of the assassination and individuals involved.

How would you rate Samuel Mudd's medical treatment of John Wilkes Booth?

ELA: I don't go into Mudd's medical treatment in the book. From what we know, he did what he could. The controversy is whether he lied about knowing he was treating Booth


CWL: Was the embalming of Lincoln's body a 'state of the art' in 1865 effort?

ELA: Yes. Lincoln was embalmed using state of the art methods for that time. The deterioration in his body afterwards may have been due to the embalming fluid or poor perfusion.


CWL:  Describe your case for John Wilkes Booth not being a tool of the Confederate government.

ELA: That would take a long time and I cover it in my book.  Even if he were a "tool" that would not solely explain his attitude toward Lincoln, or his willingness to murder--there were other "tools" and others with the same deep seated hatred, and they didn't try to kill Lincoln.

CWL: You make a persuasive case for John Wilkes Booth being very ill previous to the assassination.  What symptoms do you see in Booth that suggests this?

ELA: I have about ten pages of arguments that Booth was suffering from syphilis before the assassination, which was a spur of the moment act.

CWL:  Thank you for your work regarding Lincoln's assassination.

Monday, August 10, 2015

News--Pope Francis 1 To Stand At Lincoln's Gettysburg Address Lectern While In Philadelphia

Pope To Use Lincoln's Gettysburg Lectern In Philadephia, Kathy Matheson, Associated Press, August 8, 2015

When Pope Francis speaks outside Independence Hall in September, he will stand at the same lectern that President Abraham Lincoln used to deliver the Gettysburg Address.
The Union League of Philadelphia said Friday it would offer the simple wooden stand for the pontiff to use during his planned speech on immigration and religious liberty.

"Its simple beauty and humble role in one of American history's most important moments reflects, in many ways, Pope Francis' own world view," said Robert Ciaruffoli, president of the World Meeting of Families.

The pope's visit to Philadelphia on Sept. 26 and 27 comes at the close of the World Meeting of Families, a triennial Catholic conference designed to strengthen family bonds. The pope will also celebrate a public Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Lincoln used the lectern on Nov. 19, 1863, to dedicate part of the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg as a cemetery. His two-minute address - beginning with "Four score and seven years ago" - became one of the most famous speeches in American history.

It ended with Lincoln's resolution that "this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Lincoln, however, was not the featured speaker at the dedication. The wooden stand had been provided by a local professor to help the main orator, Edward Everett, manage extensive notes for a now largely forgotten two-hour speech, said Jim Mundy, director of education and programming for the Foundations of The Union League. The president followed Everett at the lectern.

The stand is on a long-term loan from a private collector to The Union League, which was founded during the Civil War with the goal of preserving the Union. It has been on display at the league's stately building in downtown Philadelphia for the past two years.

Conservators will soon begin working to stabilize the lectern for the pontiff's speech. Further details were not immediately available.  Francis' appearance outside Independence Hall on Sept. 26 is expected to be a ticketed event. Exact arrangements have not been announced. The pontiff's first stops on his U.S. visit will be in Washington and New York.

Text and Image Source: Associated Press