Thursday, February 07, 2019

New and Noteworthy: Common Soldiers As Common Men: Thinking, Fighting and Surviving

  War For The Common Soldier: How Men Thought, Fought, and Survived in Civil War Armies, Peter S. Carmichael, University of North Carolina Press, 408 pp., illustrations, bibliographic notes, bibliography, index, 2019,  $34.95

Review Source: H-Civil War, Christopher Rein, Combat Studies Institute, The Army Press
Reviewed by Christopher Rein (Combat Studies Institute, The Army Press)

Peter S. Carmichael’s The War for the Common Soldier is, above all else, a pragmatic book. In highlighting the defining characteristics of the men who fought and suffered through the Civil War, Carmichael seeks to bridge a widening rift between more popular celebratory and heroic accounts of soldiers that began shortly after the end of the war—and, advanced most notably by Bell Wiley, continue, in some form to the present day—and an increasingly critical view of the rank and file as unfortunate pawns who, misled by the nationalism that sparked a misguided rush to the colors, found themselves trapped in an unforgiving machine that resulted in misery and death for far too many, a view that seems to have some appeal to those interested in the “darker” aspects of the sectional conflict.

Thus, the author joins with Union soldier Amos Judson in pushing back against a “sentimental culture with its enshrinement of extreme courage and its sanitation of the war’s most grotesque elements” (p. 230), while still revealing the laudable conduct and mental agility of soldiers in both armies. As the double entendre in his title suggests, Carmichael seeks to both explore the experience for the common soldier as well as weigh in on the historiographical debate over how he should be remembered. In doing so, the author provides a very useful theoretical construct for understanding how Civil War soldiers conceptualized, endured, and remembered their wartime experiences.

In arguing for a defining sense of pragmatism among the soldiers of both armies, Carmichael suggests that they were neither the ideologues suggested by works such as James McPherson’s For Cause and Comrades and Gary Gallagher's The Union War, nor the helpless victims of a wasteful and destructive conflict.  Instead, they adapted to their conditions, rationalized both the incredible losses around them and their own, at times remorseful survival, and pragmatically faced the numerous challenges, be they mental, physical, or emotional. 

Though their idealism often eroded, the author argues that a pragmatic philosophy “never left Northern or Southern soldiers standing on the barren ground of nihilism” (p. 99). Well grounded in the relevant secondary literature, but relying extensively on soldiers’ letters, Carmichael counters the usual technique of using short snippets to support an argument by developing longer case studies, or “microhistories” of certain soldiers to place their evolving thoughts in context, resulting, in a nod to Clifford Geertz, in a “thick description approach” (p. 175). Most of the seven chapters (though several deviate from this format) rely on from three to six of these case studies to provide soldiers’ conceptions of the war, from resisting the temptation to desert to staying connected with the home front to rationalizing the hand of providence’s role in victory or defeat.

While the examples (apparently despite the best efforts of Earl Hess) skew heavily toward the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia, the larger numbers serving in the eastern theater probably justify the greater emphasis. In an acknowledgement of the growing importance of the subfield of guerrilla studies, Carmichael feels compelled to include a full paragraph on why he chose to exclude this group, despite “some of the most exciting and engaging scholarship coming out of the field of Civil War history,” as “its inclusion would have diverted attention away from my primary focus on conventional armies” (p. 13). The result is a fairly comprehensive cultural and intellectual history of the common soldier that largely overcomes concerns about representativeness, though Carmichael accepts that “no single individual can possibly represent the 2.7 million men who served in the Union forces and the 1.2 to 1.4 million men who stood in the ranks of the Confederate military. There was no common soldier in the Civil War” (p. 12). But the wealth of resources available on those soldiers who ran afoul of the military’s justice system results in a slight over representation of that demographic.                             This review is continued at H-Net.

CWL:  Indeed, Carmichaels' work is splendid and opens to readers the lives and letters of Civil War soldiers, in the midst of the war.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

News: Gettysburg NMP Increases Users' Fees

Negative Impact Expected From NPS Fee Hike, Mary Grace Keller, Gettysburg Times, January 30 & January 31, 2019,

This time next year tourism-driven businesses may be pinching pennies to afford access to the national park. The National Park Service (NPS) plans to hike fees businesses pay to operate on park land and has hinted it will deny permits for organized recreational activity at Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP).

GNMP issued a notice last July stating Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) fees will increase over the next three years, starting Oct. 1, 2019. A CUA “allows an individual, group, company, or other for-profit entity to conduct commercial activities” on park land, according to nps.gov.

This includes businesses that offer tours on horseback, Segway, and bicycle, GNMP correspondence indicates. The change will not affect visitors who tour the park in private vehicles. Businesses that make less than $250,000 annually from “park-based operations” will have to pay 1 percent of their gross income for a CUA every year, then 2 percent starting Oct. 1, 2020, followed by 3 percent as of Oct. 1, 2021, according to a letter signed by GNMP former Acting Superintendent Christopher Stein.

Businesses that make between $250,000 and $500,000 will pay 1.3 percent the first year, 2.6 percent the second year, and 4 percent the third year, according to the letter. Businesses earning more than $500,000 will pay 1.6 percent, 3.3 percent, then 5 percent, respectively. This is in addition to the $300 non-refundable application fee for the CUA. While 1 to 5 percent may not sound like a lot, it can be a heavy burden for smaller businesses. “Everybody is just astounded and worried about their business,” said Bob Velke, of Segway Tours and Rides of Gettysburg.

The majority of their tours are on park property, Velke said. He estimates he will have to pony up more than $30,000 per year when the new fees take effect. In order to compensate for the financial burden, Velke expects he will have to hire fewer staff members, who are all locals, and/or increase tour prices.“The customers are not going to like it,” Velke said.

Having operated in Gettysburg for 12 years, Velke said Segway Tours has an immense respect for the hallowed ground that has become their office. Tour guides often pick up trash they find along the way and report maintenance issues to park staff, according to Velke.

“As responsible vendors who love the park, we realize that a modest increase in usage fees may be necessary in order to maintain the park and enforce its rules,” Velke said.
But Velke wishes the National Park Service would go about it another way. While Velke said he is prepared to pay his “fair share,” he believes the fees are too high and being rolled out too quickly.
“There hadn’t been any discussion. There hadn’t been any warning,” Velke said.

Commercial bus tour operators face a financial struggle, too. The NPS stated in CUA-related correspondence that bus companies will have to pay $5 per passenger to the park, which is an entirely new policy. Vice President of Destination Gettysburg Stacey Fox predicts this change to CUA fees will have the biggest impact on tourism.

More than 1,500 motor coaches come to GNMP every year, according to Fox. Many of those passengers are students embarking on field trips. Last November, 420 veterans and their guests toured the battlefield by bus during a trip organized by All Vets to Gettysburg. Fox expects bus companies will offer fewer tours and/or raise prices to compensate. GNMP is not entirely to blame for these changes, Fox said. The decision to increase CUA fees comes from the federal level, the Department of the Interior, but individual national parks decide how they want to implement the fees (over time versus all at once) and whether they want to increase fees to maximum or not. Fox said GNMP and the Eisenhower site are hiking fees to the max.

“This will impact our community as a trickle down,” Fox said. “It’s not just a tourism issue.”
Fox noted visitors don’t simply tour the battlefield and go home. They stay in local hotels, eat in restaurants and shop in stores. Tourism is Adams County’s largest industry, standing at $691.2 million as of 2016, according to Fox. GNMP correspondence indicates money collected from CUA fees will be used for operating the CUA program, “long-term monitoring and mitigation resource impacts,” and “other high priority park needs.”

After years of hosting 5Ks and, more recently, a marathon and half-marathon, Gettysburg park officials told the YWCA of Gettysburg and Adams County they will deny any future applications for a recreation permit.
The YWCA has organized the Spirit of Gettysburg 5K since 1991, which takes place on GNMP property, according to Executive Director Deb Geesey. In 2015, the Gettysburg Foundation approached the YW about starting a marathon to benefit the park and the YWCA, Geesey said. The Gettysburg Battlefield Marathon was born the following year.

After the 2017 marathon, the YWCA received a letter dated March 6, 2018 from former Acting Superintendent Thomas Forsyth voicing concerns over the event’s respectfulness.“As a result of the Gettysburg Battlefield Marathon, a number of people have expressed concerns about respectful commemoration within Gettysburg National Military Park,” the letter reads. “(GNMP) is considering ways to reduce the impacts of permitted recreational events, creating a less intrusive environment for park visitors during the events.”

The letter goes on to explain the reasons the park superintendent can deny permits for such activity. While the letter does not say race permits will be denied, it reads “…we are considering changes to areas where we will permit running and bicycling events” and suggests routes that are not on park property.

The permit for the 2018 marathon was denied but the YWCA successfully appealed. Geesey said she met with NPS Interim Superintendent Danny Smith in June. Smith instructed local park officials to approve the 2018 plans for a full and half marathon with the understanding that the park service may be more open to only a half in 2019. The YWCA was open to the change, Geesey said.
Then during an October 2018 marathon planning meeting, representatives from the YWCA and park service were present, according to Geesey. During a discussion regarding the 2019 race, a park employee said the YWCA’s permit for the half marathon and 28-year-old Spirit of Gettysburg will be denied next year. “Everybody was dumbfounded,” Geesey said.

After each marathon, Geesey said the YWCA worked with the NPS to make changes to the event, such as relocating portable toilets. Volunteers picked up trash after the runners left, sometimes finding rubbish unrelated to the event, such as cigarettes and beer cans. “We’ve done everything they asked us to do,” Geesey said. “I just don’t understand.”

Runners came as far as Georgia, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and Tennessee to attend the marathon and Spirit 5K, according to a YWCA survey. Many of the participants cited local restaurants and hotels they visited during their stay.Some of the runners Geesey met told her they wouldn’t have come to Gettysburg and visited the battlefield had it not been for the race.
“We’ve made the effort to make it as historically educational as we could,” Geesey said.

The Spirit 5K, half-marathon, and full marathon accounted for 15 percent of the YWCA’s fundraising and events budget for fiscal year 2017-2018, according to Geesey. The YWCA shares the proceeds of the half and full marathons with the Gettysburg Foundation, which serves to benefit the national park, Geesey said.

Despite the bleak outlook, Geesey said the YWCA will apply for permits and “see what happens.”
Geesey, Fox, and Velke each expressed concern over the ever-changing leadership at GNMP.
“At the end of the day, we don’t know who the decision makers are,” Fox said. The park is currently on its fourth acting superintendent since May 2017.

Full Text Source: Gettysburg Times newspaper

Off Topic: WWI Films Colorized by Peter 'Lord of the Rings' Jackson

Peter Jackson's World War I doc 'They Shall Not Grow Old' Breaks \Powerful New Ground, Barry Paris, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 1, 2019


All was never quiet on the Western Front for long. The title of Erich Maria Remarque’s great novel about the Great War is bitterly ironic: Silence lulls its exhausted soldier hero into fatally reaching out from his trench for a butterfly.

The silence of film footage from that war (1914-1918) has lulled us into thinking of it — if we bother to think of it at all — as something soundless and monochromatic as the Civil War of the 1860s.
That should change with “They Shall Not Grow Old,” Peter Jackson’s extraordinary World War I documentary, commemorating the conflict’s centennial with a brilliant enhancement of hitherto unseen film material from Britain’s Imperial War Museum.

A joyful noise opens this far-from-silent movie, just as it opened the conflict itself: Patriotic crowds and parades throughout England cheer their support for thousands of young recruits hungry for heroic adventure. Many are 16 or 17 — more than a few just 15 — all claiming to be 18 or 19, so as not to miss out on the action.

The noise increases with marching, singing and drilling — shades of Richard Attenborough’s “Oh! What a Lovely War!” (1969) — until superseded by the more deafening sound and fury of battle, as the eager new soldiers on their way to the front pass the shell-shocked ones staggering away from it.
Only then do the images come to astonishing life in color. We begin to see grim details of the complex trench systems — dead bodies hanging on barbed wire, live bodies, lousy with lice, fat rats and frozen feet and blinded mustard gas victims holding onto one another’s shoulders in a row.
And for the first time, we see the real faces of real men — including German POWs, as young and frightened as their captors — in stunning close-ups as sharp and fresh as those on your new iPhone.
It’s not all horror.

More fascinating, perhaps, is the footage of daily life (if you escaped death): However traumatized or wounded from the night before, soldiers had to be freshly washed and shaved the next day — a routine they came to rely upon. They also discovered that the near-boiling water that cooled down the machine guns could be used to produce a half-decent cup of tea.
There’s even a welcome laugh or two: A banner on the enemy side of no man’s land proclaimed the Prussian military slogan “Gott mit uns!” (God is with us). The Brits’ response on the other side: “We got mittens, too!”

New Zealand director Jackson — much acclaimed for the dazzling special effects of his “Lord of the Rings” trilogy (2001-2003) and “King Kong” (2005) — makes excellent use of that expertise for a higher cause here. His fine documentary contains an “optional epilogue” on the making of it, in which he explains the restoration, colorization and enhancement processes.
Most crucial was the problem of shooting vs. projecting speed. In the World War I era, 16 frames per second was the norm, but since cameras were hand-cranked, there was really no reliable “standard.” Cranking was anywhere from 14 to 18 fps. Mr. Jackson shows us how a single frame more or less (per second) makes a huge difference in verisimilitude to life when projected. Synchronizing variably-cranked footage to real-life projection — frame-rate adjustment — required sophisticated computer algorithms to generate “missing” frames and thus smooth out the jerkiness.
The director’s painstaking demand for authentic detail is legendary. My colleague Charles Constantino reminded me that, for his “Lord of the Rings” films, Mr. Jackson insisted the Hobbits wear underwear precisely fashioned according to Tolkien’s description — despite the fact those undies never appeared on screen.

Here, he makes similarly meticulous audio and visual demands, from the exact color of the grass in Flanders to the correct sound of boots sinking into and sucking out of deep mud. With a lifelong obsessive-compulsive interest in WWI, his vast personal collection of uniforms and weapons came in handy — as did his hiring of forensic lip-readers to glean what precious dialogue they could from the footage. There’s no narration — only the voices of real soldiers who experienced the conflict.
The only big disappointment is the film’s dubious 3D — a technical bridge too far.

Otherwise, it’s a haunting historical achievement and work of love, unapologetically Anglocentric in its exclusive focus on the Western Front, where no fewer than a million citizens of the British Empire were killed.
The failure to include even rudimentary information of the war’s causes and larger scope bothered me. Not even one contextual reference to the equally bloody Eastern Front? Not a map or two of the geographically confusing campaigns to help us make sense of the action?

But I think I understand why. With 10 more minutes or 10 more hours, you can’t make sense of the senselessness of such staggering magnitude. You can only see and mourn these particular young men, meeting our gaze after a century, dying nobly in service and sacrifice to old men’s stupidity.

Full Text Link: Pittsburgh Post Gazette, February 1, 2019

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

New and Noteworthy: Maryland, My Maryland, Your Maryland, Our Maryland

Maryland, My Maryland: music and Patriotism During The American Civil War,  James A. Davis, University of Nebraska  Press, 390 pages, 10 photographs, 22 illustrations, bibliographic notes, bibliography, index, $55.00 hardcover

From The Publisher: 
Historians have long treated the patriotic anthems of the American Civil War as colorful, if largely insignificant, side notes. Beneath the surface of these songs, however, is a complex story. “Maryland, My Maryland” was one of the most popular Confederate songs during the American Civil War, yet its story is full of ironies that draw attention to the often painful and contradictory actions and beliefs that were both cause and effect of the war. Most telling of all, it was adopted as one of a handful of Southern anthems even though it celebrated a state that never joined the Confederacy.

In Maryland, My Maryland: Music and Patriotism during the American Civil War James A. Davis illuminates the incongruities underlying this Civil War anthem and what they reveal about patriotism during the war. The geographic specificity of the song’s lyrics allowed the contest between regional and national loyalties to be fought on bandstands as well as battlefields and enabled “Maryland, My Maryland” to contribute to the shift in patriotic allegiance from a specific, localized, and material place to an ambiguous, inclusive, and imagined space. Musical patriotism, it turns out, was easy to perform but hard to define for Civil War–era Americans.

About the author:  James A. Davis is a professor of musicology at the School of Music, State University of New York at Fredonia. He is the author of Music along the Rapidan: Civil War Soldiers, Music, and Community during Winter Quarters, Virginia, 1863–1864 (Nebraska, 2014) and editor of several books, including The Arts and Culture of the American Civil War.

Table of Contents:
Introduction: Patriotic Music and the Civil War
1. Maryland and the Coming of War: Bargain Patriotism and the Need for an Anthem
2. Spring 1861: The Pratt Street Riot and the Birth of a Song
3. “Maryland, My Maryland”: Lyrics, Music, and Publication
4. Fall 1861: The Cary Invincibles, Flags, and Symbolic Patriotism
5. Spring 1862: Marylanders, the Military, and Regionalism
6. Summer 1862: Tropes, Class, and the Rise of an Anthem
7. Fall 1862: Antietam and the Battle of Parodies
8. Spring 1863: pows, Civilians, and Military Patriotism
9. Summer 1863: Gettysburg, Slavery, and the Patriotism of Sacrifice
10. Fall 1863: Women, Hospitals, and Diverging Audiences
11. 1864: Monocacy and the Victory of Song over State
12. 1865: Performing Patriotism and Nostalgia after Appomattox
Epilogue: “Maryland, My Maryland” after the War
Notes, Bibliography, Index

Monday, January 14, 2019

News: The Enigma of the CSS Hunley's Sinking: Something New

A broken ballast tank pipe might have sunk the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley.That’s the latest discovery by the Clemson University conservators working to restore the doomed vessel. The scientists found a roughly 1-inch gap where the pipe should have been mounted on the side wall of the submarine. If the pipe broke off the night of the Hunley’s historic mission, it may have contributed to the sinking of the sub and the loss of her crew, according to an announcement Monday by the group Friends of the Hunley. The intake pipe was meant to fill the forward ballast tank with water.  Because the hull is rounded, the pipe had to be forced into position, so it was under pressure from the beginning, said Clemson University Archaeologist Michael Scafuri. “You pushed it up and then locked it in place,” he said.

Still, the find does not solve the mystery that has haunted the historic sub for more than 150 years: Why did the crew not make it back to shore?

The hand-cranked 40-foot-long Civil War craft became the world’s first successful attack sub by sinking the Union blockade ship Housatonic off Sullivan’s Island on Feb. 17, 1864. The Hunley rammed a powder explosive into the Housatonic’s hull, detonating in a massive explosion.
While the crew signaled they planned to return by reportedly flashing a blue lantern light toward shore, they never appeared.  The sub and crew remains inside were found and later recovered 4 miles offshore in 2000. The crew was buried at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston.

Since the recovery, the sub has been undergoing conservation work at the Clemson University-run Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston on the grounds of the former Naval Base and Shipyard. It’s open for tours on weekends. Researchers are still trying to determine what happened or if the pipe began spewing water into the cramped compartment.  “There are no signs of panic,” Scafuri said, no evidence that anyone tried to jam something in the pipe to clog the spill, or empty ballast to counteract it. “If this happened the night of the attack, how come no one responded?” he said.

The stressed pipe could have fractured at any point in the odyssey of the submarine. The pipe could have separated gradually as the Hunley lay on the ocean bottom. One way or another, the pipe is a major new clue. It would take only 50 to 70 gallons to sink the sub, said researchers at the University of Michigan, who partnered with Clemson and the Office of Naval Research on the Hunley investigation. The pipe could have disgorged that in only three minutes. “Unfortunately, there are no easy answers when investigating what led to a complex 150-year-old sinking. Still, (the pipe) is a very significant discovery that will help us tell the full story of the Hunley’s important chapter in naval history,” Scafuri said.

“We’re trying to recreate a landmark event in submarine technology,” he said. “You will never know 100 percent what happened,” Scafuri said. “What we’re trying to do is get as close as we can to what happened.” The find came as the researchers cleared away the last of the concretion, a rock-hard crusting of accumulated sand, shell and organisms, from the inner and outer walls of the sub.
Among other recent discoveries with the concretion removal:
  • A tooth found near where crew member Frank Collins is thought to have sat. Collins was buried alongside crew mates in 2004.
  • A complex gear system that eased the effort of the crew cranking the submarine.
The concretion removal involved at least two years of physically demanding work by conservators curled in up in the confines of the crew compartment and taking care not make mistakes or drop tools that would damage anything.

The removal “was a slow and challenging task for all of us involved,” said Johanna Rivera-Diaz, a Clemson University conservator spearheading the project. “But the ability to get an up-close look at the true surface of the submarine after all this time has made it entirely worth it.”
Now mostly cleaned, the sub will sit in a conservation bath for about five years to preserve the metal and ready the vessel for permanent public display some day.

Full Text Source: Post and Courier  January 14 2019

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Where Valor Proudly Sleeps: The Fredericksburg National Cemetery's Story

Where Valor Proudly Sleeps: A History of Fredericksburg National Cemetery, 1866-1933, Donald C. Pfanz, Southern Illinois University Press, 253 pages, 40 illustrations, appendices, bibliographic notes, bibliography, index, $26.50.

Civil War Librarian:The SIU Press' Engaging Civil War Series'  continues to offer public history titles on topics less frequently covered by other university and popular publishers. Visitors to the Fredericksburg Military Park have often stood in the Sunken Road with their back to a hillside and have thought 'well this is it.'
Little do they realize that at the top of the hill behind them is the Fredericksburg National Cemetery which is the final resting place for over 15,000 United States soldiers. Most of the soldiers died during the Civil War, but there are about 100 20th century soldiers and a few of their spouses.

The Union Civil War soldiers buried here include those who died of illness in the camps around Fredericksburg, in the four major battles around Fredericksburg as well the Mine Run and North Anna campaigns. Only about 20% of the soldiers are identified. Confederates who died in the Fredericksburg area were interred in other cemeteries in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania. In July 1865, Congress authorized the establishment of a National Cemetery in Fredericksburg to honor the Federal soldiers who died on the battlefields or from disease in camp. The site chosen was Marye's Heights, the formidable Confederate position which had proven so impregnable to repeated Federal attacks on December 13, 1862.

Pfanz's splendid work describes wartime and postwar burials, the demand to create this cemetery and the the final implementation of the plan. The author pays attention to the care given by the superintendents, the cemetery employees, Memorial Day commemorations and the supervision of the National Park Service. Where Valor Proudly Sleeps will serve as a model of future public history narratives. The writing style is accessible to advanced placement history students and the general public.


From the publisher: Many books discuss in great detail what happened during Civil War battles. This is one of the few that investigate what happened to the remains of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Where Valor Proudly Sleeps explores a battle’s immediate and long-term aftermath by focusing on Fredericksburg National Cemetery, one of the largest cemeteries created by the U.S. government after the Civil War. Pfanz shows how legislation created the National Cemetery System and describes how the Burial Corps identified, collected, and interred soldier remains as well as how veterans, their wives, and their children also came to rest in national cemeteries. By sharing the stories of the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, its workers, and those buried there, Pfanz explains how the cemetery evolved into its current form, a place of beauty and reflection.

About the Author: Donald C. Pfanz has written five books, including Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier’s Life and War So Terrible: A Popular History of the Battle of Fredericksburg. In his thirty-two-year career with the National Park Service, he worked at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park, Petersburg National Battlefield Park, and Fort Sumter National Monument.

Monday, January 07, 2019

New And Noteworthy; The Dunker Church on the Antietam Battlefield, A Clear and Concise History

September Mourn: The Dunker Church of The Antietam Battlefield, Alann Schmidt and Terry Barkley, Forward and Appendix by Ted Alexander, 155 pages, 3 maps, 60 black and white images, bibliography, index, Savas Beatie Publishing, $19.95.

Civil War Librarian: Among the things that are taken for granted by frequent visitors to Civil War battlefields are the wartime structures that have been preserved by the National Park Service. The Dunker Church has even been on a U.S. Postal Service stamp.

The authors have done a splendid job of describing how the Dunker Church, on the Antietam Battlefield, was first built, used a a worship center, shot up during the battle, used briefly as a first aid station during and after the battle, used again as a worship center, destroyed by both souvenir hunters and high winds, stored in a garage and finally rebuilt on the battlefield. Though it was not the intention of the authors, they have put the building in a new field of American Civil War studies: the natural environment of the war and the desolation it created on the natural environment.

Additionally, the authors have placed the church building and its worship community in the social environment of the war. The Dunkers, their beliefs and practices, their agricultural methods and markets, and their social conduct are cogently and concisely presented and discussed in September Mourn.

All of this is accomplished in 155 pages, the authors do not belabor any on point or story.   The authors do not use jargon to describe the Dunkers, their beliefs and practices.  As part of a worship service was footwashing practiced?  Is that the single mode or the double mode? Schmidt and Barkley describe this event and its intended outcomes in just three pages.  The narrative style allows the story to be accessible to readers in high school and up. For those looking for a model of public history writing which sets forth the story of a community and its religious beliefs, or social and environmental history, September Mourn is a fine example.


The Authors: Alann Schmidt spent fifteen years as a park ranger at Antietam National Battlefield and presented hundreds of programs on the Dunker Church to park visitors, Civil War seminars, community groups, churches, and Brethren Heritage tours. Alann earned degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, Shippensburg University, Shepherd University, and the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. While illness forced him into early retirement, he still serves as a pastor for the Churches of God and helps foster pets for rescue groups. He and his wife Tracy (and their many cats) live on their family farm near Fort Littleton, Pennsylvania.

Terry Barkley served as archivist and museum curator at Bridgewater College in Virginia, a Brethren-related institution and holds degrees and a graduate certificate from the University of North Alabama, The Citadel, University of Alabama, and Harvard University. He retired in 2012 as director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Illinois. That same year he delivered the 150th anniversary commemorative lecture on the Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield at the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren in St. Louis. Terry has also lectured in the Dunker Church at Antietam National Battlefield. He is an independent scholar and musician and lives in Lexington, Virginia. This is his fourth book.

From The Publisher:  The Dunker Church is one of the most iconic structures of the American Civil War. Surprisingly, few people know much if anything about its fascinating story or the role it played within the community of Sharpsburg and its importance during and after the Battle of Antietam. September Mourn: The Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield by Alann D. Schmidt and Terry W. Barkley rectifies this oversight in the first book-length study of its kind.

On September 17, 1862, two mighty armies grappled across the rolling hills, fields, and woodlots surrounding Sharpsburg, Maryland. The combat left more than 23,000 Union and Confederate soldiers killed, wounded, or captured, repulsed Lee’s invading Virginia army, and paved the way for the Emancipation Proclamation. Ironically, in the epicenter of that bloodiest day in American history stood a small whitewashed building dedicated to peace, equality, and the brotherhood of man.

The German Baptist Brethren, or Dunkers (Dunkards) as they were colloquially known, built the Mumma Church of the Manor congregation in 1853 just nine years before Antietam. In addition to being a house of worship with important ties to the local community, the history of the Dunker Church is interwoven with such notable figures as Stonewall Jackson, Clara Barton, Abraham Lincoln, and even Mark Twain. The structure was heavily damaged during the battle, housed torn bodies as a hospital in its aftermath, and suffered a complete collapse before undergoing the long and arduous process of being rebuilt.

Schmidt’s and Barkley’s impressive September Mourn is based upon years of meticulous research from both a Church of the Brethren (Dunkers) and a National Park Service perspective. The authors establish the importance of the structure to Sharpsburg and its citizens, its role during the battle and its aftermath, and how it helped establish tourism and education for future generations of Americans.

The Dunker Church can finally take its place alongside the Alamo and Shiloh churches as one of the most notable houses of worship in American military history. September Mourn: The Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield is a must-read for anyone interested in the full story of the monumental battle and the community who lived through it.

Friday, January 04, 2019

New and Noteworthy: The Natural Environment and Soldiers on Campaign in the South

War Stuff: The Struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War, Joan E. Cashin, Cambridge University Press, 258 pages, 24 illustrations, bibliographic notes, bibliography, index, paperback, $24.99.


Civil War Librarian: Cashin's focus is upon Northern and Southern attitudes toward human and material resources needed by both civilians and soldiers. It appears that official polices had little impact on restraining armies which were on the march. Soldiers, once civilians before the war had generally experienced a rural lifestyles.They had in common, for the most part, the values of  community life and stewardship.

 Both sides exploited fully the South's human resources regarding work skills and both sides destroyed and wasted and the material resources of the South. On both sides contained some men who tried to protect civilians and conserve material resources of the region in which they campaigned.  Cashin's evidence shows that at the brogans on the ground level  neither side functioned very efficiently as it struggled to supply troops throughout the four seasons.

Cashin offers a brief but satisfying historiography of the recent studies of natural environment and material resources during the American Civil War. She reviews the several possible answers to the question 'Was the American Civil War a total war?' and 'What was John Popes' July 1862 orders and what were his expectations that they would be fully followed?'  Readers may conclude that the orders, for the most part, only described what the  soldiers were already doing in practice.

People, food, timber and habitat (farms and homes) are addressed in War Stuff as well as the natural resources and people in 1861 in the South. The final break down and losses which came during 1864 and 1865 in the South are adequately covered. Hunger, deforestation and destruction of urban and rural homes are interwoven to demonstrate the nearly complete exhaustion and desolation of the South at the end of the war.

Cashin's narrative is well organized and smoothly accessible for readers who are enrolled in advanced placement American History courses and college students. War Stuff should be read side by side of Robert Wystra's At the Forefront of Lee's Invasion: Retribution, Plunder and Clashing Cultures on Richard S. Ewell's Road to Gettysburg.  CWL would welcome Cashin's thesis being examined within with the context of the Army of Northern Virginia's invasions of Maryland and Pennsylvania. 

From the Publisher:
In this path-breaking work on the American Civil War, Joan E. Cashin explores the struggle between armies and civilians over the human and material resources necessary to wage war. This war 'stuff' included the skills of white Southern civilians, as well as such material resources as food, timber, and housing. At first, civilians were willing to help Confederate or Union forces, but the war took such a toll that all civilians, regardless of politics, began focusing on their own survival. Both armies took whatever they needed from human beings and the material world, which eventually destroyed the region's ability to wage war. In this fierce contest between civilians and armies, the civilian population lost. Cashin draws on a wide range of documents, as well as the perspectives of environmental history and material culture studies. This book provides an entirely new perspective on the war era.

From noted scholar in the field of environmental/military history:  "Expertly researched and beautifully written, War Stuff is a must-read for anyone interested in the Civil War and for all who wish to understand the fascinating, complex ways that war (any war) can fundamentally alter the manner in which humans interact with each other and with the natural world. Integrating material culture, environmental history, and war and society studies, Cashin’s book is a tour de force that will shape Civil War studies for years to come"                                                                                            Lisa M. Brady, author of War Upon the Land: Military Strategy and the Transformation of Southern Landscapes during the American Civil War