Friday, April 18, 2014

Forthcoming and Noteworthy---Manassas: A Battlefield Guide

Manassas: A Battlefield Guide, Ethan Rafuse, author; Erin Greb, cartographer;  University of Nebraska Press, 232 pp, 47 maps, 2 appendices, $21.95. [May 2014].

From the publisher:
This volume is the essential guide to the Manassas battlefields, site of two of the Civil War’s critical campaigns. Ethan S. Rafuse, a distinguished scholar of the Civil War, provides a clearly organized, thorough, and uniquely insightful account of both campaigns, along with expert analysis and precise directions for armchair traveler and battlefield visitor alike.

The July 1861 Battle of First Manassas and the August 1862 Battle of Second Manassas unequivocally influenced the course and outcome of the Civil War. The first battle dealt a decisive blow to hopes that the inexperienced armies of the North and the South could bring about a quick military resolution of the secession crisis. The second battle was the climactic engagement of a spectacular campaign that carried the war to the outskirts of Washington DC and marked the coming of age of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

Manassas: A Battlefield Guide presents readers with a clear, convenient guide to the sites in northern and central Virginia that shaped the course and outcome of these campaigns. Lucid, concise narratives give readers a better understanding of the events that took place on these battlefields and of the terrain, personalities, and decisions that shaped them.

Ethan S. Rafuse is a professor of history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and has led staff rides and tours of historic battlefields for many military and civilian groups. He is also the author of several books, including Antietam, South Mountain, and Harpers Ferry: A Battlefield Guide (Nebraska, 2008) and McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union.

Blurbs: “This guidebook explores the campaigns of Manassas like no other. It will take you to obscure places long forgotten and accord them significance; it takes the familiar and illuminates them in ways not done before. Well written and dashed with analytical twists both thoughtful and helpful, Dr. Rafuse’s work is by far the best of its kind.”—John Hennessy, author of Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas

“No other work juxtaposes Lincoln’s writing and speeches with contemporary commentaries and criticism of him. Rawley’s careful selection of these documents and his judicious interweaving of his historical analysis and background come together to create a powerful dialogue with the reader as well.”—From the foreword by William G. Thomas

CWL:   Manassas: A Battlefield Guide is fifth volume in the This Hallowed Ground: Guides to Civil War Battlefields edited by Brooks D. Simpson, Mark Grimsley and Steven E. Woodworth.   Other volumes in the series include guides for 1] Antietam, South Mountain and Harpers Ferry, 2] Gettysburg, 3] Chickamauga and 4] Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge and Prairie, Grove. CWL owns and frequently uses 1], 2] and 3].  These books are dashboard friendly for driving tours and readable at home. Both the maps and the narrative are clear, concise and cogent. 

Lower Image is of the author, Ethan Rafuse.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New and Noteworthy---The Civil War In Popular Culture: Memory And Meaning Is Both Incisive and Accessible

The Civil War In Popular Culture: Memory And Meaning, Lawrence A. Kreiser and Randal Allred, editors, University of Kentucky Press, 257  pages, bibliographic notes, index, $40.00.

The eleven essays, introduction and afterward offered in The Civil War In Popular Culture: Memory And Meaning are each scholarly, informative and entertaining.  The perspectives and focus of the fourteen authors' essays are both broad and unique. A casual bookstore browser may think that it is another book about reenactors for reenactors but that would certainly be a mistaken impression. The essays chosen and edited by Kreiser and Allred are compelling for the questions they address.

What do we know of how Civil War veterans came to psychological terms with the aftereffects of killing? Where Confederate amputees viewed as whole men who could be married? What value did veterans and early visitors to Chickamauga battlefield park during 1890s place on relics they found there?

If 80% of all Americans receive no historical training beyond high school, then what success can the Gettysburg National Military Park have in placing slavery into the battle and its legacy?  Is the Civil Preservation Trust's rebranding itself as the Civil War Trust, its investment in Internet web pages and mobile phone applications eliminating actual visits to the battlefields that the foundation has preserved?

What does the history of Civil War board games tell us about what the popular culture views as entertainment and hobby? Have Lincoln movies homogenized the president who confessed his own childhood was among the simple annals of the poor? Has Lincoln the lawyer become both a vampire slayer and a pragmatic emancipator in the popular mind?

Does the film Glory offer an honest depiction of Civil War combat? There is indeed one essay on reenactors. How do today's Good Ol' Rebel reenactors understand racism, slavery and their Lost Cause?

Clear, concise and cogent, the essays are both incisive for the scholar and accessible to the general reader. The bibliographic notes appear at the conclusion of each essay and encourage readers and graduate student to realize the dynamic nature of the field pursue new avenues of research in popular culture.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Forthcoming---A Guide To the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign

Guide To the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign, edited by Charles R. Bowery, Jr. and Ethan S. Rafuse, maps by Steven Stanley, University of Kansas Press, 420 pages, 47 maps36 illustrations, $34.95 hardcover, $19.95 paper.

Text From The Publisher:  Lasting from June 1864 through April 1865, the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign was the longest of the Civil War, dwarfing even the Atlanta and Vicksburg campaigns in its scope and complexity. This compact yet comprehensive guide allows armchair historian and battlefield visitor alike to follow the campaign’s course, with a clear view of its multi-faceted strategic, operation, tactical, and human dimensions.
A concise, single-volume collection of official reports and personal accounts, the guide is organized in one-day and multi-day itineraries that take the reader to all the battlefields of the campaign, some of which have never before been interpreted and described for the visitor so extensively. Comprehensive campaign and battle maps reflect troop movements, historical terrain features, and modern roads for ease of understanding and navigation. A uniquely useful resource for the military enthusiast and the battlefield traveler, this is the essential guide for anyone hoping to see the historic landscape and the human face of this most decisive campaign of the Civil War.
Charles R. Bowery, Jr. is an officer in the U.S. Army who has taught Civil War history at West Point, led tours of Civil War battlefield sites, and authored Lee and Grant: Profiles in Leadership from the Battlefields of Virginia. Ethan S. Rafuse is a professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of nine books, including McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union and Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865.

Blurbs: “A stellar contribution to the long and excellent tradition of the U.S. Army War college guide that covers one of the most important campaigns of the Civil War. The authors’ organization and contextualization of their story are superbly done and the maps are outstanding, among the best I have ever seen depicting the action and topography of the Richmond Petersburg battle sites.”—Earl Hess, author of Into the Crater: The Mine Attack at Petersburg

“A much needed edition on the final campaign to capture Richmond and Petersburg.  This book brings together the events on both sides of the James River enabling readers to understand this very complex and prolonged military event.”—Chris Bryce, Chief of Interpretation, Petersburg National Battlefield

“The most thorough, detailed, and accurate books of their kind. Indeed, they are unique. I have used them to lead guided tours of several battlefields, with great success.”—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom
CHARLES R. BOWERY, JR. is an officer in the U.S. Army who has taught Civil War history at West Point, led tours of Civil War battlefield sites, and authored Lee and Grant: Profiles in Leadership from the Battlefields of Virginia. ETHAN S. RAFUSE is a professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of nine books, including McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union and Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865.

News---Netflix's House of Cards, The Grant Memorial in Washington D.C. and the Army of the Tennessee

A Different Kind of Civil War Memorial, Dennis Montagna, The Wall Street Journal, March 30-31, 2014.

The opening credits of "House of Cards," the new Netflix-produced political thriller, are set against time-lapse views of Washington that include the Capitol and the Kennedy Center. Yet the most prominently featured landmark, the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, is likely to be less familiar to most viewers.
Honoring a hero and symbolizing the nation's new prominence on the world stage at the dawn of the 20th century.

Its relative obscurity today is unfortunate, because this monument is one of the greatest works of commemorative art this country has produced. More than a monument, it is a symbol both of Washington's aspirations as a city at the dawn of the 20th century and of the nation's increasing prominence at that same moment. 

More than 250 feet wide and 70 feet deep, the memorial sits at the foot of the Capitol. An expansive reflecting pool fans out before it, with the National Mall beyond. At the center of a broad stepped marble plaza, a bronze portrait of Grant stands atop a tall marble pedestal. Four recumbent lions flank the statue, while low-relief panels on the pedestal's sides depict marching infantrymen. On either side but at some remove are two massive bronze sculptural groups, one depicting a cavalry charge, the other a field artillery unit wheeling into battle position. 

After his death in 1885, Union veterans who had served under Grant campaigned for a monument to be erected in Washington. Their efforts led to Congress appropriating $250,000 in 1901, at that time an unprecedented sum for a federally funded monument. The following year, the three-member Grant Memorial Commission selected New York sculptor Henry Merwin Shrady from a field of 27 candidates, most with far more experience in the realm of public sculpture. 

The memorial would become his life's work. He spent 20 years on it and died at the age of 52, just weeks before its dedication in 1922. But if you're going to leave only one masterwork, you could do a lot worse than this one. The visitor who takes the trouble to seek it out is rewarded for the effort. 

The project's ample budget allowed for a more complex memorial than the standard general-on-horseback. The massive cavalry and artillery groups are placed on low pedestals complemented by built-in seating. They provide a portrait of men and horses gripped by war's hardship and carnage seldom seen in earlier memorials. 

In the former, a cavalry captain leads the charge with sword upraised. The soldier beside him, a self-portrait of the sculptor, tumbles headlong over the mount that has been shot from beneath him. The rider behind shields his eyes with his forearm. Across the plaza, Shrady presents another scene of struggle and endurance. Traversing rough and muddy terrain, a field artillery unit, pulled by a four-horse team, comes to a halt. The horses strain; one breaks free from his reins and presses forward. With expressions ranging from pain to stoicism, three soldiers ride atop the caisson gripping whatever they can for support and bracing themselves against one another. 

Shrady presented Grant much as had other sculptors, as a brooding, taciturn leader astride a horse that is both still and alert. But his portrayal of soldiers at war creates a powerful counterpoint. Grant is the calm center overseeing the maelstrom of battle. In this way Shrady memorialized not only the leader, but his troops and the relationship that existed between them. Shrady's presentation of troops under duress introduced a thematic tone that set it apart from nearly every earlier Northern monument. The earliest major Civil War monuments, built in the decade after 1865, mourned the dead. Those erected in the 1880s and '90s typically celebrated the Union's triumph. But the Grant Memorial presents the specter of war and sacrifice as ongoing, an idea embraced by many in 1900 as a fact of modern American life.

The text of A Different Kind of Civil War Memorial is continued at Wall Street Journal, March 30-13, 2014  .  The top photo is by Melissa Golden for the Wall Street Journal.

Photograph of lion on the House of Cards opening credits is from Ghosts of Washington D.C.'s article on House of Cards.

CWL notes that the "Union veterans who had served under Grant campaigned for a monument to be erected in Washington," were the veterans of the Army Of The Tennessee. The drive to erect a monument to Grant was begun in the 1890s by Society of the Army of the Tennessee.  The Grant Memorial is situated in Union Square and is situated beside the Capitol Reflecting Pool.  The marble platform for the monument is 252 feet long, 71 feet wide and is divided into three sections. The tall, middle section features a 10,700 pound, 17-foot-2-inch  high equestrian statue depicting Grant astride Cincinnati his war horse which rests on on a 22½-foot high marble pedestal.  These dimensions are in  James M. Goode's The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, D.C.: A Comprehensive Historical Guide [1974] as cited in the online encyclopedia  entry for the U.S. Grant Memorial.

Monday, April 07, 2014

News---GNMP Licensed Battlefield Guides' Test To Be Updated by Late 2015 During GLBG Association's 100th Year; No Test in 2014

Jarrad Hedes of The Gettysburg Times newspaper reports that GNMP [Gettysburg National Military Park] superintendent  Ed Clark will review and update within the next year and a half the testing process for prospective Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides [GLBG]. "What we want to do is come up with a way to give guides a greater understanding of the testing process and procedure.  The exams need to be difficult and challenging, but efforts need to be made to greater prepare applicants to take the test," said Clark as  reported by Hedes.

The 2012 exam was taken by 149 applicants and 20 moved on to a preparatory seminar held in early 2014. Of those 20, eight has so far taken the oral exam and three have passed.  The oral exam consists of a two hour tour for a NPS ranger and an ALBG member. Impacting content and delivery of  current tours are the means by which audience travels the battlefield.  Possibilities include automobile, horseback, horse and wagon, bicycle, and Segway. "Depending on how you take the tour, it's going to be different," said Angie Atkinson to Hedes.  Atkinson is the GNMP supervisory park ranger. Clark reported to Hedes that 12 of the 20 candidates from the most recent text still must take an oral exam; he feels the number current number of GLBGs along with the successful candidates of the 2012 test will suffice for the coming two years.

This is a summary of Jarrad Hedes'  story located on the front page of the Gettysburg Times
for April 4, 2014. 

Image Source: Civil War Librarian LLC.    The image is of GLBG Guillermo Bosch on April 5, 2014 at the 98th Pennsylvania Regiment's Monument on the north west slope of Little Round Top.

Friday, April 04, 2014

News---Postal Historian's Collection Includes Confederate POWs Letters From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Some Captive Rebels Took A Different Trip, Len Barcousky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 31, 2014.

Don't call Daniel Telep a stamp collector. Mr. Telep explained to home-schooled students gathered at North Park Baptist Church that his interest is "postal history." "I collect the entire envelope with its cancellation and, hopefully, a letter in it," he told students gathered at the church in McCandless. The envelope, the stamp, the post office cancellation mark and correspondence inside provide powerful tools to bring history alive, he said.

Mr. Telep, 70, is the owner of Crossroads Development Group, a Sewickley-based consulting firm that advises companies on "predictive business growth." He also is a director of the Sewickley Valley Historical Society and a faculty member at Grove City College. His passion since he was a boy growing up near Detroit has been collecting, displaying and selling postal memorabilia. He started collecting stamps at age 6 or 7. He was about 9 when his father, Mike Telep, bought him an envelope stamped and mailed in Middlesex, Mich., in 1876.

"I just thought this was a lovely piece of American history," he said of his first postal cover. He has since collected postal items used by businesses and individuals. Postal covers tell more complete stories than stamps alone. "The bills and letters inside -- along with the envelope information on the postal rate, the date of mailing and the location -- give you a bigger bang for your buck," he said.
He meets about four times each year with home-schooled students on their "enrichment" days, teaching them about his hobby and sharing the history behind his collections.

In the late 1970s, he assembled a collection of letters and their covers written by Van J. Sellers, a captured Confederate soldier, while he was a prisoner in Western Penitentiary. That prize-winning collection was the subject of several news stories and reports in hobbyist magazines. It has since been sold.

Mr. Telep, a Marine Corps veteran, served in Vietnam in the 1960s. His current interests include an award-winning assemblage of North Vietnamese covers from the war years in Southeast Asia.
He also has been collecting items linked to Pittsburgh's postal history. Those treasures include correspondence sent to Fort Pitt, including a letter from George Washington, during the American Revolution.

His interest in all things postal is reflected in his home office in Sewickley Heights. There, he has re-created the counter and mailboxes that would have been found in a rural post office.
Mr. Telep said he could name as many as 10 reasons for his interest in collecting postal items. "The No. 1 reason is to keep in touch with our national roots and to better understand American history," he said.

The second reason is the satisfaction of making something that is greater than the sum of its parts. "It's the passion to collect, form and shape something that never existed before," he said.
Mr. Telep and his wife, Catherine, are the parents of four adult children. None has inherited their father's collection gene, but he has hopes for his five grandchildren. "I try to send them a letter every week," he said.

Full Text Link: Pittsburgh Post Gazette March 31, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Off Topic--UK Trash Collection Driver Finds 5,000 WWI Photos In The Course Of His Life Time

A former dustman has amassed one of the Britain's best collections of First World War photographs after spending decades rescuing them from rubbish tips and bins. Bob Smethurst spent 36 years working as a refuse collector and began saving the remarkable pictures during the 1970s. He believes as soldiers from the conflict grew old and passed away a lot of their remarkable pictures and memorabilia was often thrown out especially in the 1970s and 1980s. Over three decades Mr Smethurst made it his mission to try and save anything he spotted which otherwise could have been lost forever. 
Mr Smethurst, from Sussex, now has more than 5,000 photographs capturing everything from the horror of the trenches to haunting images of young friends smiling together before battle. As well as being an amazing national record of the 1914-18 conflict, his collection could also be worth thousands as just one picture can sell for as much as £30 to collectors.
Mr Smethurst, who considers himself a custodian of the collection, said the value for him was in saving something so important which could otherwise have never been seen again. "I found the majority of the photographs on the 'dust' during the 70s and 80s when those who fought in World War I were probably passing away. "Probably the boys working today will find them from World War II.
"In the early days we used to carry the bins on our shoulders. Therefore, when we emptied the bins you used to see the paperwork coming out, and the photographs.

"You didn't find them all the time because the only time you were aware of some was when they started to be mashed up.

"We had relatives that died in both the First and Second World War and of course it means something to keep these memories alive.

"There is nothing like being able to pick up and examine an object or picture, see it with your own eyes, understand how it works and was used. If everything is thrown away future generations will not be able to have this joy or knowledge.

"I've got photographs from the trenches, photographs from Commonwealth Indian regiments and pictures from the Germans.

"The German soldiers used the pictures almost like postcards, they would write their unit and even where they were and when. The British side weren't allowed to do that.

"I have not given a great deal of thought about what will happen to my collection, but I do have children and grandchildren. Not to mention several collecting friends who keep dropping hints
"The trouble is, if it is donated to a museum most things will never be seen again, just stored and forgotten and no joy to anyone."

Mr Smethurst said his collection also included memorabilia such as medals, letters and even a handkerchief with a bullet hole in it had been found in the rubbish.

He said: "I have a long photograph like the kind that would have been in a frame hanging on a wall of a complete squadron of the Royal Flying Corps - it was just lying on the landfill.

"In another there's some soldiers posing with a massive naval gun - it turned out the picture was actually taken by a photographer from near my home.

"I actually found some letters that were just with some papers in a bin. They were designs for the memorial plaques for medals killed in the war.

"Having been to auctions and postcard sales these kind of photographs used to go for 20 to 50p in the old days. Now if you have something like a picture of a tank or something else it can go for £30 each."

Mr Smethurst said the treasure of his collection was a series of photographs of the London Scottish regiment, which fought a battle at Messines in 1914. No other photos of the regiment were previously known to exist. When he discovered his first letter, Mr Smethurst said: "I looked at it, I thought it was interesting - this was the first world war. "Once I've undone it, I found out the chap was killed in action. This was his last letter. I thought well hang on a minute, you can't throw that sort of stuff away."

 Complete Text With The Photos at The Telegraph March 24 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

News---Two Images of Lincoln's Funeral Procession In NYC Found, Maybe.

In the first photograph,the crowd outside the church seems to be waiting for something to come down the street. Children stand up front so they can see. Women, in the garb of the mid-1800s, shield themselves from the sun with umbrellas. White-gloved soldiers mill around. And a few people have climbed a tree for a better view.

In the second shot, some heads are bowed. Men have taken off their hats. And the blur of a large black object is disappearing along the street to the left of the frame. What the scene depicts, why it was photographed, or where, has been a mystery for decades, experts at the National Archives say. But a Maryland man has now offered the theory that the two photos are rare, long-forgotten images of Abraham Lincoln's   funeral procession in New York City.
Paul Taylor, 60, of Columbia, a retired federal government accountant, believes the scene is on Broadway, outside New York’s historic Grace Church. The day is Tuesday, April 25, 1865, 11 days after Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington. And the crowd is waiting for, and then seems to be paying homage before, a horse-drawn hearse, whos motion makes it appear as a black blur as it passes by in the second picture.

If Taylor is right, scholars say he has identified rare photos of Lincoln’s marathon funeral rites, as well as images that show mourners honoring the slain chief executive.
Plus, it appears that the photographs were taken from an upper window of the studio of famed Civil War photographer Matthew Brady which was across the street from the church. “It’s a big deal,” said Richard Sloan, an expert on the Lincoln funeral ceremonies in New York. “What makes it even a bigger deal is to be able to study the people. Even though you can’t see faces that well, just studying the people tells a story.” Sloan added, “It’s as if you’re there, and you can see the mood.” Many people, including children, are in their Sunday best. A few look up at the camera. Flowers are in bloom. But there is no levity.

Sloan said he is convinced that the pictures show the funeral scenes: “There’s no doubt about it.”
But experts at the Archives caution that although the theory sounds good, there could be other explanations, and no way to prove it conclusively. The digital photographs were made from some of the thousands of Brady images acquired by the federal government in the 1870s and handed down to the National Archives in the 1940s, according to Nick Natanson, an archivist in the Archives’ still-picture unit. Next year is the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination. The two photos in question, both captioned “scene in front of church,” apparently had gone unnoticed for decades.
“We’ve had many inquiries about many images in the Brady file,” he said. “I can’t remember . . . any inquiries about these two particular images. I don't think I ever noticed them before.”

Full Text Continued at Washington Post March 19, 2014