Friday, May 27, 2016

New And Noteworthy: When Did The Best Chance for Confederate Independence Occur?

The Confederacy at Flood Tide: The Political and Military Ascension, June to December 1862, Philip Leigh, Westholme Publishing, 288 pp., $28.00.
 

From The Publisher: 
The Fleeting Moment When the Confederate States of America Had the Best Opportunity to Achieve Independence and Why Their Efforts Failed.

The first six months of 1862 provided a string of Federal victories in the West at Mill Springs, Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, and Shiloh. In May, New Orleans fell, and Union General George McClellan’s army was so close to the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, that the troops could set their watches by the city’s church bells. But then the unexpected happened. 
In June, Robert E. Lee’s Army of Virginia pushed McClellan’s much larger army back to the James River. In Europe, Confederate diplomats sought international recognition for the Confederate States of America, which was made even more attractive now that a shortage of cotton made the powerful textile interests anxious to end the war. 
Further tipping the balance, in July, the Confederacy secretly ordered two of the latest ironclad ships from England’s famous Laird Shipyard—the same yard that built the commerce raider Alabama. These steam-powered ironclads would be far superior to anything in the Federal navy.

While the “high tide” of the Confederacy is often identifed as Pickett’s Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, the most opportune time for the Confederacy vanished seven months earlier, coinciding with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in December 1862 and the failure of the secessionist states to be recognized as a sovereign nation. 
As Philip Leigh explains in his engrossing new book, The Confederacy at Flood Tide: The Political and Military Ascension, June to December 1862, on every battlefront and in the governmental halls of Europe, the Confederate effort reached its furthest extent during the second half of 1862. But with the president’s proclamation, the possibility of slave revolts and decline in the production of the very products that were sustaining the Southern economy became real; coupled with Europe’s decision to reject Confederate overtures and halt the sale of the ironclads, the opportunity for Confederate success ended. The Confederacy would recede, and the great battles of 1863 and 1864 only marked the Southerners’ tenacity and stubborn belief in a lost cause.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

New In Theaters----Union Bound: Escape From The Confederacy

 From The Production Company:
Union Bound is the amazing true story of Joseph Hoover a Union Soldier who witnessed many incredible moments during the terrible carnage of the American Civil War. He wrote two diaries which survive today. In 1864 he was captured at the battle of the Wilderness and was taken to the  Andersonville, Georgia prison camp.. After four months he was transferred to Florence, South Carolina prison camp. Together with a friend he escaped and during their journey to the coast they aided by slaves. Joseph was later wounded in the war but survived. After the war he went back to his farm in upstate New York and worked as a cabinet maker. He went on to live to be 84. {edits by Civil War Librarian}


Film's Website: Unionbound

 
Book Movie Tie In: Union Bound
 
 From The Publisher: 
A companion book to the popular dramatic film by the same name, Union Bound delves into matters of integrity, honor, and redemption. In a time of racial division like the country hasn't seen in sixty years and weak leaders who are willing to compromise the principles and values the nation was founded upon in order to appease an enemy hell-bent on killing anyone who disagrees with them, Union Bound is a powerful story of one man who understood what slavery is all about and who risked everything to do the right thing, to save his country, to free slaves. It is a story of compassion, resolve, and unity against a common evil. It is a story of our past to encourage us to be resolute today.
After the war he went back to his farm in upstate New York and worked as a cabinet maker. He went on to live to be eighty-four years old.

News---What Is New Inside the CSS Hunley?

Clemson conservator Johanna Rivera-Diaz works to remove a century’s worth of hardened sand and sediment from the interior of the Civil War-era submarine H.L. Hunley.Exploring Inside The Hunley, One More Time, Brian Hicks, Post and Courier, March 25,2016.
 
Clemson conservator Johanna Rivera-Diaz works to remove a century’s worth of hardened sand and sediment from the interior of the Civil War-era submarine H.L. Hunley.  If there are any last remaining secrets onboard the Hunley, they will be out soon.
 
Scientists at Clemson University’s Warren Lasch Conservation Center are beginning their final scrub of the Civil War submarine’s interior — a painstaking and slow process of removing all the hardened layer of sand, sediment and shell that coats nearly everything in it.  This is the last remaining big job before restoration can be completed, one last chance to dig into every nook and cranny of the 19th century submarine. 

Conservators and archaeologists expect there are more artifacts to find in the crew compartment, including buttons, tools and anything else the eight-man crew might have carried since parts of the interior remain heavily encrusted.
The work will reveal more details about the surprisingly sophisticated machinery of the 1863 sub, but it is looking less and less likely that there will be anything approaching a smoking gun that says definitively why the Hunley disappeared in 1864. 

“We are hoping to find more significant clues, but mostly this will tell us more about how they operated the sub,” said Clemson archaeologist Michael Scafuri. “This will be more akin to an excavation than simply removing concretion.”
Last year, conservators spent months removing concretion from the sub’s exterior as one of the final steps in the Hunley’s restoration. Perhaps the most intriguing discovery found then was a crack in the sub’s bow cap.  Scafuri said it may be evidence of the Hunley’s collision with the USS Housatonic, the Union Navy ship the sub sank on Feb. 17, 1864, just before it disappeared for more than a century. 

The exterior work revealed no major surprises; it looks exactly like Conrad Wise Chapman’s contemporary painting of the sub. The interior work will be completely different, as there are no historical records that detail the inner-workings of the Hunley or its crew compartment. There is no timetable on the interior de-concretion/excavation, but odds are it will be much slower than work on the sub’s exterior. The Hunley is being soaked in sodium hydroxide to remove salt from the metal and stabilize it to prevent further deterioration. Even when the tank is drained, some of those chemicals remain, making it even harder to climb around in the cramped confines of the 40-foot sub, which is only 3½ feet wide.   Conservator Johanna Rivera-Diaz said the trade-off is that those chemicals are softening up the concretion. “Some of it is falling off,” she said. 

Still, the team will be working in cramped quarters, chipping away at concrete-hard mud in the tricky corners of the submarine. Anytime an artifact is found, the scientists will have to stop scraping to map its location on a 3-D grid. Scafuri said that all these clues are probably all scientists will have to piece together the final moments of the first attack sub. Every piece of evidence suggests one thing and eventually that research will point to an answer for the biggest lingering question: why didn’t the Hunley return after sinking the Housatonic. 

Between work on the interior, conservators are busy restoring pieces of the sub that were removed — rubber gaskets and glass deadlights, for instance. All those pieces will be replaced when the caustics treatment ends and the sub is ready for dry display. That’s still several years away. But the last answers anyone are going to get from the sub are just around the corner. 

Text and Image Source: Post and Courier

Friday, March 04, 2016

New and Noteworthy---Citizen Volunteer Officers: Company Commanders Chosen By The Voters

Citizen-officers: The Union and Confederate Volunteer Junior Officer Corps in the American Civil War, Andrew S. Bledsoe, Louisiana State University Press, 352 pp., ten illustrations, ten graphs, three charts, bibliography, index, hardcover, $47.50.

From the Publisher:  From the time of the American Revolution, most junior officers in the American military attained their positions through election by the volunteer soldiers in their company, a tradition that reflected commitment to democracy even in times of war. By the outset of the Civil War, citizen-officers had fallen under sharp criticism from career military leaders who decried their lack of discipline and efficiency in battle. Andrew S. Bledsoe’s Citizen­-Officers explores the role of the volunteer officer corps during the Civil War and the unique leadership challenges they faced when military necessity clashed with the antebellum democratic values of volunteer soldiers.

Bledsoe’s innovative evaluation of the lives and experiences of nearly 2,600 Union and Confederate company-grade junior officers from every theater of operations across four years of war reveals the intense pressures placed on these young leaders. Despite their inexperience and sometimes haphazard training in formal military maneuvers and leadership, citizen-officers frequently faced their first battles already in command of a company. These intense and costly encounters forced the independent, civic-minded volunteer soldiers to recognize the need for military hierarchy and to accept their place within it. Thus concepts of American citizenship, republican traditions in American life, and the brutality of combat shaped, and were in turn shaped by, the attitudes and actions of citizen-officers.

Through an analysis of wartime writings, post-war reminiscences, company and regimental papers, census records, and demographic data, Citizen­-Officers illuminates the centrality of the volunteer officer to the Civil War and to evolving narratives of American identity and military service.

Andrew S. Bledsoe is assistant professor of history at Lee University.
Blurbs: 
"Citizen-Officers fills a major gap in the literature on the American Civil War. It offers perceptive analysis of volunteers who filled junior ranks among officers in both the Union and Confederate armies... [C]areful attention to the republican example of disinterested service, the transition from civilian to military cultures, the impact of combat, and change over time, among other virtues, lends distinction to this book." -Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Union War and John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War, the University of Virginia

"As Andrew Bledsoe shows in his exceptional Citizen-Officers, managing civilian soldiers who were fiercely resistant to military rule required intelligent and inspired leadership. There were plenty of martinets and incompetents who were despised by the troops, but in time they were cast aside. The vast majority of lieutenants and captains matured on the job, employing a tough pragmatism that helped transform unruly volunteers into disciplined killers.Citizen-Officers is an essential book that deserves a place alongside the classic soldier studies by James McPherson and Joseph Glatthaar." -Peter S. Carmichael, author of The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion and director of the Civil War Institute, Gettysburg College

"...Bledsoe provides a nuanced and insightful analysis of the overlooked but essential aspect of junior officers in Civil War armies. His study teaches us a great deal about how Civil War armies worked. It also addresses a fundamental question about nineteenth-century conflicts-building responsive volunteer militaries from a democratic citizenry that rejected natural leadership and the aristocratic pretensions of the Old World. Bledsoe persuasively shows how an adaptable and creative cadre of men, pulled from civilian life, matured into effective leaders, and, in the process, how democratic nations create and sustain popular wars." -Aaron Sheehan-Dean, author of Why Confederates Fought: Family and Nation in Civil War Virginia and Fred C. Frey Professor, Louisiana State University

"...[E]ssential reading for anyone seeking to more fully understand the leadership of the most fundamental building blocks of Civil War armies." -Civil War Books and Authors
From the time of the American Revolution, most junior officers in the American military attained their positions through election by the volunteer soldiers in their company, a tradition that reflected commitment to democracy even in times of war. By the outset of the Civil War, citizen-officers had fallen under sharp criticism from career military leaders who decried their lack of discipline and efficiency in battle. Andrew S. Bledsoe’s Citizen-­Officers explores the role of the volunteer officer corps during the Civil War and the unique leadership challenges they faced when military necessity clashed with the antebellum democratic values of volunteer soldiers. 
 
Bledsoe’s innovative evaluation of the lives and experiences of nearly 2,600 Union and Confederate company-grade junior officers from every theater of operations across four years of war reveals the intense pressures placed on these young leaders. Despite their inexperience and sometimes haphazard training in formal military maneuvers and leadership, citizen-officers frequently faced their first battles already in command of a company. These intense and costly encounters forced the independent, civic-minded volunteer soldiers to recognize the need for military hierarchy and to accept their place within it. Thus concepts of American citizenship, republican traditions in American life, and the brutality of combat shaped, and were in turn shaped by, the attitudes and actions of citizen-officers.
 
Through an analysis of wartime writings, postwar reminiscences, company and regimental papers, census records, and demographic data, Citizen­-Officers illuminates the centrality of the volunteer officer to the Civil War and to evolving narratives of American identity and military service.
- See more at: http://lsupress.org/books/detail/citizen-officers/#sthash.2McbUlR9.dpuf
From the time of the American Revolution, most junior officers in the American military attained their positions through election by the volunteer soldiers in their company, a tradition that reflected commitment to democracy even in times of war. By the outset of the Civil War, citizen-officers had fallen under sharp criticism from career military leaders who decried their lack of discipline and efficiency in battle. Andrew S. Bledsoe’s Citizen-­Officers explores the role of the volunteer officer corps during the Civil War and the unique leadership challenges they faced when military necessity clashed with the antebellum democratic values of volunteer soldiers. 
 
Bledsoe’s innovative evaluation of the lives and experiences of nearly 2,600 Union and Confederate company-grade junior officers from every theater of operations across four years of war reveals the intense pressures placed on these young leaders. Despite their inexperience and sometimes haphazard training in formal military maneuvers and leadership, citizen-officers frequently faced their first battles already in command of a company. These intense and costly encounters forced the independent, civic-minded volunteer soldiers to recognize the need for military hierarchy and to accept their place within it. Thus concepts of American citizenship, republican traditions in American life, and the brutality of combat shaped, and were in turn shaped by, the attitudes and actions of citizen-officers.
 
Through an analysis of wartime writings, postwar reminiscences, company and regimental papers, census records, and demographic data, Citizen­-Officers illuminates the centrality of the volunteer officer to the Civil War and to evolving narratives of American identity and military service.
- See more at: http://lsupress.org/books/detail/citizen-officers/#sthash.2McbUlR9.dpuf

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Forthcoming---The Free State of Jones County, Mississippi: Its History and Its Hollywood Treatment

“The Free State of Jones” on Film: A Q&A with Victoria Bynum, Megan Kate Nelson, Society of Civil War Historians homepage website, March 2, 2016. 
 
This May, STX Entertainment will release the film Free State of Jones, which tells the story of the Knight Company and the Jones County rebellion, a Civil War history first told by Victoria Bynum in her 2001 book The Free State of Jones. A few weeks ago, Bynum and I discussed her experiences working as a consultant on the film, and seeing her book come alive on the screen.

MKN: Did you know at the time you were writing “The Free State of Jones” that it had cinematic potential? And what is it about this story that makes it compelling for filmmakers?

VB: As I researched and wrote The Free State of Jones, I grew increasingly aware of its historical importance as an insurrection that combined elements of class, race, gender, and kinship that, for this story, had long been underestimated, misunderstood, distorted, or simply ignored.

Although I did not write the book with a movie in mind, the story’s vivid real-life characters, its oral and written first-hand accounts of fierce confrontations between Confederates and deserters, the interracial romance between the band’s leader, Newt Knight, and his slave accomplice, Rachel Knight, and the Unionist core of the band itself, convinced me of the story’s cinematic potential.
On the standard author’s questionnaire that I completed for the University of North Ca
rolina Press, I advised the press to consider presenting the book “to television and film companies as a potential docudrama or miniseries.” At that point, however, I did not anticipate Hollywood’s interest in the story.

MKN: As the process of transforming the book into the film got underway, what was it like to experience the subjects and arguments in your book morphing into a visual format?


imagesVB: When I visited the movie set in Louisiana, I watched actor Matthew McConaughey recreate Newt Knight’s pivotal experiences at the battle of Corinth. I was pleased at the manner in which Gary Ross, director and author of the movie’s screenplay, targeted the beginning stage of Newt’s evolution into a class-conscious opponent of the Confederacy, and I was impressed by McConaughey’s ability to immerse himself in the role, both physically and psychologically.

UnknownI’ve since viewed the movie’s trailer, and was likewise impressed with the way in which class issues, front-line participation by women, and collaboration between deserters and slaves in this home front insurrection came to life on the screen.

I’ve not yet seen the entire movie, so can’t comment on the completed product. Based on what I have seen, I’m hopeful that the movie captures the essential elements of defiance and struggle that drew me to the story.

state-of-jones-12jan16-11MKN: Was there anything that worried you, or surprised you about that process?


VB: Like most historians, I worried about the movie’s factual accuracy. Over time, my thinking has evolved on the creative differences between an academic work of history and a historically-based movie. Both rely on imagination, but in very different ways. Historians don’t merely assemble facts, apropos the cliché, “let the facts speak for themselves.” We must use imagination as well as intellect to assign the elusive truth of meaning to our work, or we risk producing little more than a footnoted list of facts.

In contrast to historians, Hollywood moviemakers use imagination to recreate a historic event that can be viewed within the space of 2-3 hours. The larger truth of an event is typically delivered without perfect adherence to facts—but rather with invented dialogue, composite characters and compressed events—to tell a true story that informs, inspires and entertains. My expectation is that the movie and my book will mutually reinforce the larger truth of about the Free State of Jones.

MKN: You published “The Free State of Jones” in 2001; why do think that the time is finally right — in 2014-5 — to make it into a film?

VB: Actually, I first learned in 2005 that plans for a movie based on the history of the Free State of Jones were underway. As is often the case in Hollywood, the journey to production was a slow one.

That said, Hollywood’s current interest in portraying Civil War dissenters is well-timed to highlight issues being debated with particular force in this national election year. Federal vs. state power, stark economic inequality, and fierce confrontations over racial, class, and gender rights all divide Americans.

Amid these battles, the popularity of the Lost Cause defense of the Confederate flag as a symbol of “white heritage” has spiked, particularly on social media. The Free State of Jones reminds us that there was neither a Solid (white) South during the Civil War era, nor a monolithic white heritage embodied by the Confederate flag.


MKN: How do you hope the film will shape Americans’ understanding of Civil War history?

VB: Most Americans know little to nothing about landowning, nonslaveholding white Southerners of the antebellum and Civil War South, which in turn prevents them from fully understanding the average Southerner’s experience of the Civil War. In bringing the story of the Free State of Jones to the masses, not only is the image of a white Solid South negated, so also is the agency of Southern dissenters during the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction asserted. This represents an important shift in the general manner in which Hollywood has presented the Civil War.

MKN: What advice do you have for historians writing with an eye toward film adaptation, or working as consultants on films about history?

VB: Since I did not write The Free State of Jones with such an eye, my remarks are speculative. I’ve heard it said that authors who intend to pitch their work to film companies should retain the intellectual rights to their manuscripts (which, in academia, are generally held by the press). I suppose one would consider hiring a literary agent, as well.

In the aftermath of having the rights to my book purchased by a Hollywood studio, however, I have benefited from the University of North Carolina Press’s commitment to publishing a new edition of the book and marketing it internationally.

I have no specific advice in regard to finding work as a film consultant. I was asked to be a consultant for The Free State of Jones movie on the basis of my book of the same name. Several other historians were hired as consultants based on their works on related historical topics.

Victoria Bynum is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Texas State University, San Marcos. A graduate of the University of California, San Diego, an award-winning author and NEH Fellow, she has produced cutting-edge scholarship on gender, race, and class relations in the Civil War Era South for more than thirty years. Her blog,  Renegade South, features unruly women, mixed-race families, anti-Confederate guerrillas, and political dissenters.

 Full Text Source: Society of Civil War Historians

Friday, February 12, 2016

PBS's Mercy Street: How Much of That Is True? An Interview- with Medical Expert Stanley Burns


Mercy Street, a Public Broadcasting System six part series delves into the medical and social issues that medical professionals and their patients endured during our nation's most deadly war. Acclaimed director Ridley Scott and writer David Zabel of "E.R." fame are among the show's executive producers. The "Mercy Street" premiered on Jan. 17 garnered more than 3.3 million viewers and new episodes air each Sunday through Feb. 21. It's largely based on the memoirs and letters written by doctors and nurses who treated patients during the Civil War at the Mansion House Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia.  Dr. Stanley Burns, a medical historian who consulted PBS on the television series, talks to Healthline about the traumatic and sometimes barbaric conditions on Civil War battlefields.

By using actual medical conditions, instruments, medical practices, and theories of the time — often in vivid detail — the series provides viewers with a realistic snapshot of exactly how traumatic and comparably barbaric treatment was for both patients and doctors during this period.
Much of the raw authenticity that permeates throughout each episode is derived from the insights and voluminous research and photo library of Dr. Stanley Burns, a New York City ophthalmologist, surgeon, historian, and professor who, in his spare time, became the world's leading curator and collector of historical medical images.
Burns, who served as a medical and historical consultant on the series, has written 45 books, published more than 1,100 articles and collected in excess of 1 million images documenting centuries of medical history around the globe.  His research and collection has been featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in at least 27 feature films including Nicole Kidman's "The Others" and was used as the foundation for more than 100 documentaries and television series.
Burns, 77, began collecting medical images in 1975. More than 1,000 of his images are currently on display at various museums around the world, but his 19-room townhouse and several bank vaults are still home to the vast majority of his one-of-a-kind collection.  Between his nonstop curating and preparation for yet another book, Burns spoke with Healthline about "Mercy Street," the daunting challenges of providing care during the Civil War, and just how important a single image can be to the evolution of medicine.

Healthline: Compared to other medical dramas in recent years, what's new and most compelling about "Mercy Street?"
Dr. Stanley Burns: Every medical show has its own specific focus. This one is on the Civil War and focuses just as much on the social aspects of the war as the medical aspects. Unlike a lot of the more discussed time periods in history that had all these great medical discoveries and inventions, there were no real new discoveries during the Civil War. But it was the most important time of social change in American history until the 1960s.

H: Tell us a little bit about what it was like to practice medicine during the Civil War. What were some of the most serious and common medical conditions doctors and patients faced at this time?
Burns: Death. Death and disease. It's estimated that of the approximately 750,000 Americans who died during the Civil War, about two-thirds or 500,000 people died because of disease and infection, not from bullets or saber wounds.
We would never expect that today because we're now well acquainted with the theories of disease and understand the importance of sanitation. Not the case back then.
These soldiers and others died from dysentery, pneumonia, and typhoid fever at a staggering rate. That's something that wouldn't and doesn't happen today. Many of these soldiers came from farms and small towns. They were then cramped in tight quarters and instantly exposed to all kinds of bacteria their bodies had never encountered.

H: "Mercy Street" graphically depicts the commonality of amputations and gangrene during the Civil War as well as the administration of mercury chloride, opiates, and arsenic to treat wounded and sick patients. Was this just standard operating procedure in the 1860s?
Burns: You have to understand this was at the end of the Heroic Era of medicine. These were old-school doctors in the army — most had limited training or education and an even smaller number who had actually performed surgery — who had no compunction about giving patients doses of mercury [calomel] until their jaws literally fell off.
The prevailing theory of the time was to prescribe medications and treatments that would create the opposite of the affliction's symptoms. That's why doctors bled people or gave them compounds to make them sweat or vomit.
Addiction was also major problem in the 19th century. You also have to understand that seriously wounded soldiers at Bull Run, for example, would lay on the battlefield for three or more days with no food or water before anyone could get to them.

H: What, if anything, were doctors and nurses proficient at during the Civil War?
Burns: Doctors and nurses in the Civil War period were just as smart and innovative and determined as they are today. They were just working with inferior knowledge and technology.
But they were, because they had to be, very good at amputations. Amputation got a bad reputation in the 1880s, but it saved lives. A good Civil War surgeon could amputate a limb in less than three minutes. Patients who had a body part amputated within 48 hours had a mortality rate of 26.3 percent. For amputations that occurred after more than 48 hours, that mortality rate more than doubled.
There are also a lot of misconceptions about anesthesia, that patients in this era were undergoing surgery and amputations without anesthesia. It's not true. Anesthesia was used in about 80,000 instances by Union doctors and about 50,000 times by Confederate doctors.

H: "Mercy Street" features two women who served as nurses at the hospital as well as some African-American characters. Does the series accurately depict the diversity of medical professionals in this period?
Burns: Yes. The necessity of the conflict required everyone's help. Nursing was a miracle for women in that it provided them with an opportunity to enter into a profession and made it acceptable for a woman to go out and work. The war needed as many nurses as possible.
There were [so-called] contraband blacks and some free blacks who performed amazing work during this time, but generally they didn't play a big role in military hospitals. The amount of prejudice was amazing, even in New York City.

H: If there's one takeaway that today's physicians and patients should derive from your research and photographs, what would it be?
Burns: What I've learned after 60 years is the same as what I was told the first week of medical school. Fifty percent of what you're about to learn may not be true in 10 years or maybe even in a year. Medicine is constantly evolving and what we think of as dogma or truth will almost certainly change over time.

H: You've collected more than 1 million historical medical images. It's a lifetime of work. Why is any one old photograph so important to medicine?
Burns: An untouched photo is irrevocable evidence of what really happened. When you write something up or tell a story, you sometimes don't have the words to describe what you're looking at. Any description is not as good as a photograph. It provides a realistic, unquestioned document of the events and people of the time.

Text Source:  Healthline News

CWL: Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Photography by Reed B. Bontecou, Stanley B. Burns

 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

New Film---Birth Of A Nation Repurposed In An Age Of Terror With Nat Turner as Lead

Birth of A Nation [2016] is a cinematic retelling of  American History.  Its source is Nat Turner's Confessions of Nat Turner written in 1831  in which 60+ white men, women and infants are slaughtered in an 1831 Virginia slave rebellion and about 150+ slaves are victims of revenge. 

Coming during a presidential campaign season and well appreciated by those attending the Sundance Film Festival will . . .  well at this point I can't really imagine.   

I wonder if Turner's Confessions, which was a transcription of Turner's interviews to his white defense attorney and William Styron's novel, The Confessions of Nat Turner [1967] will even vaguely considered in the discussion of the film. I have read Styron's novel and have assigned Nat Turner's Confessions. As one of the characters in True Detective Season 2 says of journalists "They would rather be first and wrong than be second and right."

Birth of a Nation [2016]

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Preservation---Gettysburg's 11th Corps Hospital on the George Spangler Farm

spanglerphoto3.jpegFor five straight days during the first week of July 1863, Dr. Daniel G. Brinton sawed off mangled arms and legs in a desperate, exhausting attempt to save the lives of wounded soldiers in Gettysburg.

This historic photo of the site was taken sometime in the late 1800s. 
As the piles of limbs grew, so it seemed did the number of incoming wounded at the George Spangler Farm hospital   just behind the Union line, eventually reaching 1,800 Union and 100 Confederate patients. Brinton, chief surgeon at the Spangler Farm and a native of Chester County near Philadelphia, and other surgeons were overwhelmed, unable to keep up.

"The wounded came in so rapidly that by the next day we had over a thousand to attend to," Brinton wrote to his mother on July 8 from Gettysburg, a few days after the conclusion of the war-changing July 1-3 battle. "Many of them were hurt in the most shocking manner by shells. My experience at Chancellorsville was nothing compared to this & I never wish to see such another sight. To add to the scene a heavy rain came up on the fourth & many of the wounded were drenched to the skin & lay writhing with pain. ... The surgeons ... were insufficient in numbers to accomplish everything. For myself I think I never was more exhausted."

 The Spanglers operated a prosperous 166-acre farm until the Civil War came crashing down on them on July 1, 1863, when the Union 11th Corps claimed their property for a field hospital. Within hours, the wounded filled the barn, the house, outbuildings, tents and the separate summer kitchen building where it is believed Confederate Brig. Gen. Lewis Armistead was taken and died. The wounded even lay on the bare ground, unprotected from the sun, rain and insects.

Spangler FarmAt least seven surgeons from Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York worked around the clock in the open air, amputating arms and legs on operating tables that were nothing more than doors stripped from walls. In the 1860s, with the destruction to bone and tissue caused by the Minie ball, losing a limb through amputation usually meant saving a life.
  
While at the Spangler Farm, wounded soldier Justus M. Silliman, 17th Connecticut Infantry, said, "The barn more resembles a butcher shop than any other institution. One citizen ongoing near it fainted away."
Maj. Gen. Carl Schurz, commander of the 3rd Division of the 11th Corps, visited the Spangler Farm after the battle ended.

"I saw long rows of men lying under the eaves of the buildings, the water pouring down upon their bodies in streams," he wrote. "Most of the operating tables were placed in the open, partially protected against the rain. There the surgeons, their sleeves rolled up, their bare arms as well as their linen aprons smeared with blood, around them pools of blood and amputated arms and legs in heaps. A surgeon, having been long at work, put down his knife, exclaiming that his hand had grown unsteady and that this was too much for human endurance, hysterical tears streaming down his face."


Two hundred and five men died at the Spangler Farm. They were buried on the farm – Union and Confederates separated – later to be exhumed and reburied elsewhere. "What makes this place so special," says Gettysburg National Military Park Spokeswoman Katie Lawhon, "is this is an authentic place. The real deal. It allows us to expand on the story of the battle, both by concentrating on the Spangler family's life before the battle and in its aftermath and on the wounded soldiers and medical providers who were there. It's something fresh, and you really get a sense of the importance of it."

Among the new offerings this year is the one-hour National Park Service ranger program "The Spangler Farm: A Field Hospital at Work." There will be living history portrayals, costumed interpreters, period trade demonstrations and encampments. Topics will include civilians' experiences and Civil War medicine. Even artillery will be explored, as the farm was also used as a Union artillery reserve during the battle, with 114 cannons, 2,376 artillery men and 1,500 horses sharing the property with the thousands of patients, medical personnel and civilian volunteers.
"There is something new to see every hour we are open this year," said Cindy Small, director of marketing, communications and visitor services for the Gettysburg Foundation. "We suspect this will encourage visitors to have a longer stay at the Spangler Farm and really learn of the extraordinary significance."

Remaining today from 1863 are the summer kitchen, which has been rehabilitated, and the house, barn and smokehouse, which have not, though the barn's structure has been fortified and temporary siding and roofing installed. Also in the works is a three-quarter mile walking trail from the Gettysburg National Park Museum and Visitor Center to the farm, with a planned opening in 2015.
The Foundation purchased the now 80-acre Spangler Farm in 2008 for $1.8 million, and it will cost $2.5 million more to finish preservation, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Work will be completed as the money is raised.

"The George Spangler Farm is essential because of the multidimensional stories of this place," Small said. "The fact that you can stand in the same spot where 1,900 wounded were cared for; where a family's life was hit by tragedy; where a major military officer died; where artillery fire occurred; where temporary burials had to be hurriedly arranged in the meadow. "People can come here and feel what those people felt. To stand in the barn and look up at the original beams and imagine a wounded soldier on the floor taking his final breath as he looked at that same beam."

George Nixon, a private from Company B, 73rd Ohio and great grandfather of President Richard M. Nixon, died at the Spangler Farm and was buried there. He was later reburied in Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg. Capt. Frederick Stowe, son of author Harriet Beecher Stowe, was treated at Spangler Farm and survived his wounds. Gen. Armistead's body was exhumed from the Spangler Farm in August 1863 and reburied in Baltimore. "This is a wonderful addition to the Gettysburg National Military Park," said noted historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author James M. McPherson, who has visited the Spangler Farm. "It has given the park the opportunity to educate visitors about the treatment of Civil War wounded and other issues connected with Civil War medicine, which is a matter of great interest to many visitors, but is not often treated in detail at Civil War battlefield parks."

Text written by Paul Vigna and Ron Kirkwood with slight edits by Civil War Librarian

Text and Images Source: PennLive.com

Preservation WebsiteGettysburg Foundation, The George Spangler Farm Restoration