Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Forthcoming---The Early Morning of the War: Bull Run, 1861

The Early Morning of the War: Bull Run, 1861, Edward Longacre, University of Oklahoma Press, 12 maps, 30 b/w illustrations, notes, bibliography, index, 648 pages, $29.95.

From The Publisher: When Union and Confederate forces squared off along Bull Run on July 21, 1861, the Federals expected this first major military campaign would bring an early end to the Civil War. But when Confederate troops launched a strong counterattack, both sides realized the war would be longer and costlier than anticipated. First Bull Run, or First Manassas, set the stage for four years of bloody conflict that forever changed the political, social, and economic fabric of the nation. It also introduced the commanders, tactics, and weaponry that would define the American way of war through the turn of the twentieth century.

This crucial campaign receives its most complete and comprehensive treatment in Edward G. Longacre’s The Early Morning of War. A magisterial work by a veteran historian, The Early Morning of War blends narrative and analysis to convey the full scope of the campaign of First Bull Run—its drama and suspense as well as its practical and tactical underpinnings and ramifications. Also woven throughout are biographical sketches detailing the backgrounds and personalities of the leading commanders and other actors in the unfolding conflict.

Longacre has combed previously unpublished primary sources, including correspondence, diaries, and memoirs of more than four hundred participants and observers, from ranking commanders to common soldiers and civilians affected by the fighting. In weighing all the evidence, Longacre finds correctives to long-held theories about campaign strategy and battle tactics and questions sacrosanct beliefs—such as whether the Manassas Gap Railroad was essential to the Confederate victory. Longacre shears away the myths and persuasively examines the long-term repercussions of the Union’s defeat at Bull Run, while analyzing whether the Confederates really had a chance of ending the war in July 1861 by seizing Washington, D.C.

Brilliant moves, avoidable blunders, accidents, historical forces, personal foibles: all are within Longacre’s compass in this deftly written work that is sure to become the standard history of the first, critical campaign of the Civil War.

Edward G. Longacre is a retired U.S. Department of Defense Historian and the author of numerous articles and books on the Civil War and U.S. military history, including The Cavalry at Gettysburg, winner of the Fletcher Pratt Award, and Gentleman and Soldier: A Biography of Wade Hampton III, recipient of the Douglas Southall Freeman History Award.
Blurbs: “In this book, Edward Longacre has applied his considerable skills as a biographer to a vivid piece of American history, injecting humanity and fresh insight to the story of the Civil War’s first major battle. Practicing the lost art of personification and characterization with both flourish and wisdom, Longacre makes the players in this immense drama live anew.”—John Hennessy, author of Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas

"Extensively researched and full of fresh insights and information, Edward G. Longacre's finely crafted Early Morning of War offers a remarkably thorough, highly readable account of the men and events that shaped the course of the first great campaign of the American Civil War."—Ethan S. Rafuse, author of McClellan's War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union and Manassas: A Battlefield Guide

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

News---Gettysburg Monuments Return To Former Cyclorama Landscape

Gettysburg National Military Park staff returned the granite Battery F, 5th US Artillery monument to its original location, within the footprint of the old Cyclorama building in Ziegler's Grove, today, September 24. The monument was moved from its original location in the early 1960s to make way for the construction of the Cyclorama building. Now that the demolition of the cyclorama building is complete, funded by the Gettysburg Foundation, the monument has been returned to its original location.  

 Since 2009 Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg Foundation have been returning key portions of the center of the Union battle line on North Cemetery Ridge to their appearance at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863. Completed phases include the demolition of the old visitor center in 2009; the planting 41 apple trees to reestablish the Frey orchard (North) in 2010; the removal of the former Visitor Center parking lot in 2013 and the demolition of the Cyclorama building in 2013.
The Gettysburg Foundation is now raising funds for changes to the National Cemetery parking lot which would allow the replanting of missing portions of Ziegler's Grove, and rehabilitation of the historic terrain of Cemetery Ridge and Ziegler's Ravine.

Joanne M. Hanley, Gettysburg Foundation President, states, "The Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge areas are central in Gettysburg National Military Park's and the Gettysburg Foundation's efforts to educate millions of visitors about the battle of Gettysburg, the causes and consequences of the American Civil War, and the lasting significance of this critical time in our nation's history. Preservation of this site will forever enhance the interpretive value of this critical portion of the Gettysburg battlefield."

Since 2009 Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg Foundation have been returning key portions of the center of the Union battle line on North Cemetery Ridge to their appearance at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863. Completed phases include the demolition of the old visitor center in 2009; the planting 41 apple trees to reestablish the Frey orchard (North) in 2010; the removal of the former Visitor Center parking lot in 2013 and the demolition of the Cyclorama building in 2013.

"These actions continue to help us meet our goals of improving the integrity of the battlefield landscapes and improving our visitors' understanding of what happened at Gettysburg and why it's so important," said Rick Kendall, Gettysburg National Military Park.

Text and Image Source:   Gettysburg Foundation

Friday, September 12, 2014

Off Topic--1,000 Year Old Viking Ring Fortress Site Discovered in Denmark

 Trelleborg in western Zealand. Photo: Thue C. Leibrandt/Wikimedia: Viking 'ring fortress' discovered in Denmark Commons

Viking 'Ring Fortress' Discovered in Denmark, The Telegraph, September 12, 2014

Historians believe distinctive geometric fortresses may have been built by Sweyn Forkbeard as a military training camp from which to launch his invasion of England.Archaeologists in Denmark  have discovered a distinctive ring-shaped Viking fortress which historians believe may have been used to launch an invasion of England.  The fortress found on the Danish island of Zealand, around 30 miles south of Copenhagen, is the fifth circular fortress to be unearthed, and the first in over 60 years. “This is great news,” said Lasse Sonne, a Viking historian from the Saxon Institute at the University of Copenhagen.

“Although there were Vikings in other countries, these circular fortresses are unique to Denmark. Many have given up hope that there were many of them left.” Like previously discovered ring fortresses, the Vallø Borgring is thought to date back to the late tenth century and the reign of Harald Bluetooth, the king who Christianised Denmark and Norway.

However, some historians contend the fortresses were constructed by his son Sweyn Forkbeard, the first Danish King of England, as a military training camp or barracks from which to launch his invasions of England. Sweyn Forkbeard seized London in 1013 and was declared King of England on Christmas Day of that year.

The newly discovered fortress has a diameter of 475 feet, making it the third-largest of its type, and consists of a 35-foot wide circular rampart surrounded by a palisade of wooden spikes.
Although only small portions of the new fortress have been uncovered, it appears to match the design of Denmark’s other ring fortresses, sticking to a strict geometric pattern.
The fortresses have four gates facing outward in different compass directions, and an interior courtyard symmetrically divided into four quarters. It is thought that Viking “longhouses” would have been constructed within the fortress.

Historians believe the geometric design may have been inspired by old Roman army camps found by Vikings during their raids on England.Denmark’s ring fortresses are also known as Trelleborgs, after the location of the first to be discovered in western Zealand.  The other three are located in Aggersborg and Fyrkat in northern Jutland, and Nonnebakken near Odense.

 viking fortress excavation

 Text Source: The Telegraph
Another News Story and Images at Archaeology and Huffington Post
Top Image: The Telegraph
Bottom Image: Huffington Post

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

News--Did A CSA Agent Target Northern Cities in 1864 For A Yellow Fever Epidemic?

Yellow JackYellow Fever Plot of 1864 Targeted Lincoln, U.S. Cities, Mathew W. Lively, Civil War Profiles Weblog, July 13, 2014.
Excerpt: In the summer of 1864, Dr. Luke P. Blackburn, a Kentucky-born physician turned Confederate agent, allegedly instituted a bioterrorism plot against United States cities and President Abraham Lincoln. Blackburn’s goal was to “release” Yellow Fever through the distribution of infected clothing, with specific articles being sent directly to Lincoln. The plot was unsuccessful, however, mainly due to a 19th century misunderstanding of how Yellow Fever is transmitted, but also because a disgruntled fellow conspirator revealed the plot to U.S. authorities.
 Yellow Fever, also known as “Yellow Jack,” after the flag that was flown from quarantined ships in harbors, was a deadly disease in U.S. coastal cities during the 1800’s (an 1853 outbreak in New Orleans, Louisiana, produced 9,000 deaths – 28% of the city’s population). The disease was notorious for causing “black vomit,” an ominous clinical sign resulting from hemorrhage in the stomach. 

Today we know that Yellow Fever is a virus that is spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes. But during the Civil War, which occurred prior to the discovery of germs being the source of disease, medical science and the lay population believed Yellow Fever could be contracted from direct exposure to those who were infected, primarily through contact with “black vomit.” It was this belief that led Blackburn to “contaminate” clothing for distribution.

The island of Bermuda was a major base of blockade running for the Confederacy and when a Yellow Fever epidemic occurred there in the summer of 1864, Dr. Blackburn, who had extensive experience treating the disease in the Deep South, traveled from Canada to Bermuda to lend his expertise in controlling the outbreak. While on the island, Blackburn took the soiled bedding and clothing of infected patients and packed them into trunks with new shirts and coats in an effort to “infect” the unused garments with Yellow Fever particles. 

Blackburn then traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in June 1864 with five trunks and one valise of infected clothing. Once there, he offered a man named Godfey Hyams the sum of $100,000 to smuggle the trunks into “Washington City, to Norfolk, and as far South” as he could go “where the Federal Government held possession and had the most troops.” He instructed Hyams to dispose of the new clothing by auction with the exception of the valise, which was to be delivered by express to President Lincoln as a gift. Blackburn also specified the contents of the largest trunk were to be sold in Washington, D.C., callously remarking: “It will kill them at sixty yards.”

Mathew W. Liverly's online article is continued at Civil War Profiles July 13, 2014
Image Source: Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, provided by Matthew Lively.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Author Interview: Uzal W. Ent And The Pennsylvania Reserves In The Civil War

The Pennsylvania Reserves In The Civil War: A Comprehensive History, Uzal W. Ent, McFarland Publishing, 2014, 401pp., appendices, bibliography, index, chapter notes, $75.00.

Uzal W. Ent, a brigadier general retired from a 34 military career, has authored three books and has been published in 19 magazines and five encyclopedias and the of The Pennsylvania Reserves In The Civil War: A Comprehensive History which was published in July. Ent is the author of Fighting on the Brink: The Defense of the Pusan Perimeter [1998] and The First Century: A History of the 28th Division [1979].

Because Josiah R. Sypher published his History of the Pennsylvania Reserves in 1865 and Samuel P. Bates his History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers in 1869, the accounts of many of the individual regiments of the Pennsylvania Reserve division have never been adequately researched and studied with two exceptions being:  Bouquets From The Cannon's Mouth: Soldiering With The Eighth Regiment Of The Pennsylvania Reserves [2005], Three Years in the Bloody Eleventh: The Campaigns of a Pennsylvania Reserve Regiment [2002].  Notable is the extensive work done by August and Angela Marchetti and colleagues at the online Pennsylvania Reserve Historical Society [http://www.pareserves.com/] whose Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps online research center develops and offers new resources.

CWL: The Pennsylvania Reserves In The Civil War: A Comprehensive History is certainly comprehensive. When did you begin your research for your work?
UWE: About 16 years ago after I completed a book on the Korean War's Pusan Perimeter in 1996-1997.  McFarland Publishing edited it over several years. I began with my great, great grandfather' copy of  Joseph Sypher's History of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps first published in 1864 and then updated in 1865. Sypher's work is somewhat faulty regarding casualties because is was written at the end of the war.  Yet Sypher kept in contact with Pennsylvania Reserve soldiers and received immediate feedback regarding his work, which he later updated in the next editions. By 1869 the casualty figures were released by the federal government. Broadfoot Press' work in regimental rosters is accurate and significant.

CWL:  When did your interest first develop in the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps?
UWE: After completing Fighting on the Brink: The Defense of the Pusan Perimeter in 1997. I was familiar with the Pennsylvania Reserves because I am related to two Pennsylvania Reserve veterans: one in the 6th Pennsylvania and one in Rickett's Battery.

CWL: During your research, what were the most illusive pieces of information?
UWE: None especially yet I was always looking .

CWL: What difficulties did you have acquiring maps and photographs for the book?
UWE: Since I am not a cartographer, every map I drew was rejected by the publisher.  McFarland Publishing acquired maps from Louisiana State University Press, Savas Beatie Publishing, Hal Jesperson and the National Park Service. The photographs are from the collection of the Library of Congress and those found in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, which are in the public domain.

CWL: For such a large book, how did you construct the index?
UWE: A librarian and friend at the United States Army Military History Institute in Carlisle [Pennsylvania] constructed about 90% of the index and nearly all my research was done at the institutes' library.

CWL: You quote extensively for newspaper of the era.  Tell us of your experience with newspaper morgue books and the online and digitized archives you used.
UWE:  Regarding newspapers, most of what I needed was on microfilm and what is online and digitized was found for me by librarians.

CWL:  What material did you use to which possibly Sypher did not have access?
UWE: At the USAMH library there is a large collection of letters, memoirs, newspapers. In neighboring Harrisburg at the Pennsylvania Museum's library there is another trove.

CWL: In what ways does The Pennsylvania Reserves in the Civil War: A Comprehensive History move beyond Sypher's and Bates' work?
UWE: It relies on those regimental histories published after Bates' work was published. Also the diaries, letters, memoirs and narratives available in the USAMHI archives and at the Pennsylvania State Museum library. Scholarly and popular articles published in the last 100 years and of course, The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion published in 128 volumes between 1880 and 1901.  In the appendices are biographical sketches of the principal Reserve Corps officers along with the initial organization, including the 14th Reserves which is an artillery unit and the 15th Reserves which is a cavalry unit.

CWL:  Thank you for your work on behalf of the Pennsylvania Reserves division.
UWE: And thank your for the interview.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

News--Gettysburg Magazine Issue 50 and University of Nebraska Press

Notes on Gettysburg Magazine, Issue 50, Cover Date: January 2014 arrived in the U.S. mail on Monday July 28.

1. Now glue bound instead of staple bound

2. Thicker paper used for cover; more glossy

3. Articles: 3 in number focusing on sesquicentennial remembrance

4. New Section: Documents.  Includes Henry E. Jacob's recollections of November 19, 1863; John Hay's description of the Address; Ward Hill Lamon's recollections of the Address; Woodrow Wilson's 1913 address, FDR's 1938 speech at Peace Light Memorial

5. Two advertisements: inside front cover--Adams County Historical Society; last pag--University of Nebraska Press' series This Hallowed Ground which consists of seven guides to the Civil War battlefields

6. Cover, back cover and inside back cover are contemporary color photographs

7. Total page count: 74

Over all, Issue 50 is not a military issue but is an historic character and contemporary author reflection issue.  

The University of Nebraska Press' website notes:

"The University of Nebraska Press is proud to announce that Professor James S. Pula of Purdue University will be the new editor beginning with Issue 50. He is currently accepting submissions for future issues."

Text Source:  University of Nebraska Press 
Image Source: CWL scan of Issue 50 cover

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New and Noteworthy--Making, Managing and Creating Memories of Gettysburg National Military Park

On A Great Battlefield: The Making, Management, and Memory of Gettysburg National Military Park, 1933-2013, Jennifer M. Murray, University of Tennessee Press, 2014, 312pp, notes, bibliography, index, 3 maps, 34 b/w photographs.$49.00.

Certainly with 82 pages of notes and 14 pages of bibliography, Jennifer M. Murray was provided one of the very best studies of the history of Gettysburg National Military Park [NM]. The first chapter covers the first 70 years of the park. The next ten chapters details the 80 year span between 1993 to 2013. Murray, currently an assistant professor of history at University of Virginia's College at Wise is formerly a seasonal interpretative ranger during nine summer at at Gettysburg NMP.

Of contemporary interest is the coverage Murray provides for the planning, the fundraising and the bitter controversies regarding expansive changes at Gettysburg. The public/private partnership to build the $103 million visitor center, the landscape rehabilitation, and the inclusion of exhibits presenting slavery, abolition, secession, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s in the visitor center may well be studied and redirect the mission, tasks and future of the National Parks Service and its historical parks.

The final years of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century is viewed as a watershed era in the story of the park. Excepting the years between 1933 and 1940, when the park had available funds from the New Deal, no other era contained the degree of expansion and improvement to the battlefield. Eight of the 11 chapters focus upon the era of 1946-2013. Though initially a Phd. dissertation, Murray's narrative in On A Great Battlefield is clear, concise, cogent and accessible to the general reader.