Wednesday, March 31, 2010

News---UNC Press & Penn State Civil War Center Team for New Peer Reviewed Journal of Civil War Era

Manuscripts are being solicited for a new, peer-review journal that incorporates a broad view of the Civil War era. Published in collaboration with The University of North Carolina Press and the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center at the Pennsylvania State University, The Journal of the Civil War Era will launch its inaugural issue in March 2011.

William Blair, of the Pennsylvania State University, serves as founding editor, and Anthony Kaye, Penn State, and Aaron-Sheehan Dean, University of North Florida, as Associate Editors. The new journal will take advantage of the flowering of research on the many issues raised by the sectional crisis, war, Reconstruction, and memory of the conflict, while bringing fresh understanding to the struggles that defined the period, and by extension, the course of American history in the nineteenth century.

Besides offering fresh perspectives on military, political, and legal history of the era, articles, essays, and reviews will attend to such topics as slavery and antislavery, labor and capitalism, popular culture and intellectual history, expansionism and empire, as well as native American, African American, and women’s history. The editors also intend The Journal of the Civil War Era to be a venue for scholars engaged in race, gender, transnational, and the full range of theoretical perspectives that animate historical practice.

The editors are recruiting an editorial board that reflects the wide range of specialties and theoretical engagements that form the scope of this publication. They include Stephen Berry, University of Georgia; David Blight, Yale University; Peter Carmichael, West Virginia University; Gary Gallagher, University of Virginia; Thavolia Glymph, Duke University; Stephanie McCurry, University of Pennsylvania; Tiya Miles, University of Michigan; Christopher Morris, University of Texas at Arlington; Carol Reardon, the Pennsylvania State University; Seth Rockman, Brown University; and Leslie Schwalm, University of Iowa.

The Journal of the Civil War Era has been adopted by the Society of Civil War Historians, providing a substantial readership base that will provide authors with visibility. With registrations for the Society’s conference this June, members will automatically receive a subscription to the journal beginning with the first volume year.

The editorial home for the journal is at the Richards Civil War Era Center, The Pennsylvania State University, 108 Weaver Building, University Park, Pa. 16802. For subscriptions and advertising, please contact Suzi Waters at The University of North Carolina Press at

Top Image: Newspaper Sales in Camp

Bottom Image: Burnside Reading

News: John Brown Raider's Navy Colt Found By Private Collector; Used in Kansas and at Harpers Ferry, Virginia

Historian Reunites Abolitionist's Gun With Museum, Marylynne Pitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wednesday, March 31, 2010.

Robin Rombach/Post-GazetteAn 1851 Colt "Navy" revolver once owned by abolitionist Owen Brown.Robert Hassinger bid farewell on Tuesday to an old friend, a revolver whose craftsmanship, hallmarks and engraving led him on a fascinating quest and fed his lifelong passion for American history.

"I like to do research," said the retired insurance investigator, who returned an 1851 Colt "Navy" revolver to the Chicago museum from which it was stolen 62 years ago. Inside the third-floor board room of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland, he donned a pair of white gloves and carefully removed the gleaming revolver from a brown valise.

"There's no pitting, no rust," Mr. Hassinger, 83, said as he showed it to Libby Mahoney, chief curator of the Chicago History Museum, who was visibly impressed by its excellent condition. "I can't really believe that it's resurfaced. You're an extremely honest person," said Kathleen Plourd, the museum's collections director.

At a gun show here in 1991, Mr. Hassinger traded an 1860 Army revolver for the earlier 1851 Colt model because its low serial number piqued his interest. He began researching its history, accumulating information in a neat binder. While paging through Man at Arms magazine in 2001, the North Hills man read an article headlined "John Brown's Colt Navies."

John Brown, a zealous abolitionist, led an ill-conceived raid in 1859 on a U.S. military arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Va. Afterward, he was tried and hanged. Three of his sons also died in the anti-slavery movement. But Brown's third son, Owen, escaped from Harpers Ferry, fleeing to Canada and later returning to the United States. The article reported that Owen Brown's gun, stolen in 1948 from the Chicago History Museum, remained missing and had a serial number of 43156.

Mr. Hassinger knew his Colt revolver bore the initials O.B. on its backstrap. He figured the initials were those of the soldier who used the gun but was never able to match the letters to anyone, even after examining regiment rosters. On the day he got it, Mr. Hassinger showed the O.B. initials to his wife, joking, "This stands for 'Oh, boy, look at the neat gun I got.' " As he matched the serial number to his revolver, he was electrified by the realization that he held Owen Brown's gun in his hand. Now, he faced a dilemma. "I didn't know what to do," he said.

Mr. Hassinger consulted Ronald J. Erhart, a lawyer he knew from the Greater Pittsburgh Civil War Roundtable, who contacted the Chicago History Museum. He got no response. "Maybe they were afraid I was after some money. I wanted some proof that it was stolen," Mr. Hassinger said. "No claim was made to the insurance company because they thought the gun wasn't worth anything."

Mr. Hassinger then consulted Mike Kraus, curator of Soldiers & Sailors. A collector of Civil War artifacts since boyhood, Mr. Kraus believes the revolver is worth between $100,000 and $250,000. Through colleagues, Mr. Kraus reached Ms. Mahoney, Chicago History Museum's chief curator. "She was very interested in talking to me, especially when she heard the phrase, 'Owen Brown's pistol,' " Mr. Kraus recalled.

Ms. Mahoney sent documents showing the Chicago Historical Society accepted the revolver in the 1920s from Frank Logan, a collector of John Brown and Abraham Lincoln memorabilia. The packet included a newspaper account of the gun's theft. That proof satisfied Mr. Hassinger. "I realized that it belonged to them and that it had to go back," he said.

But that didn't make it any easier for him to let go of his crown jewel. "This is what makes me want to get up in the morning. I would love to own this, display it and give talks on it. It's a symbol of the development of this country," Mr. Hassinger said. Collectors, he said, don't really own their artifacts. "We are just custodians of them during our lifetime."

He's sad because Chicago History Museum officials "couldn't guarantee that it would go on display." They also declined to reimburse him for the costs he incurred in acquiring and insuring the gun. "That was never a condition of returning it, [but] why couldn't they just hand me $500 or even $100?" he said.

According to Mr. Hassinger's research, the Army adopted this gun in 1855. The 1st and 2nd U.S. Cavalry were the first regiments to carry it. An image of ships engraved on the gun's cylinder portray a fictional encounter between the Texan and Mexican navies, leading soldiers to call it a "Navy" revolver. Samuel Colt, who invented an innovative revolver, ordered this model to be engraved to honor the Republic of Texas because the first revolver he produced in 1836 was later used by Texas Rangers in fighting Comanches. It was called a "belt pistol" because at that time, soldiers stuck it in their belts.

Mr. Hassinger has a theory on how the revolver wound up in Owen Brown's hands. His father purchased a number of Navy revolvers while living in Lawrence, Kan., from 1856-58. Owen Brown joined his father there, participating in conflicts to prevent that state from becoming a slave state. Kansas joined the Union as a free state in 1861. "The soldier it was issued to may have lost it or may have deserted and sold it," Mr. Hassinger said, adding that the Army rarely recorded which guns were issued to specific soldiers.

Or, in 1856, Owen Brown may have fought with a member of the U.S. Army at a Kansas town called Black Jack, and taken the gun from a soldier there. Black Jack is about 20 miles south of Lawrence, the scene of bloody skirmishes over slavery. The right side of the gun's grip bears the initials of Robert Henry Kirkwood Whiteley, who headed the arsenal on Governor's Island in New York. His stamp meant that the gun had passed inspection and authorized payment for it.

Some time after 1859, Owen Brown returned from Canada to be near his sister, Ruth Brown Thompson, who lived in California. After he died in January 1889, his sister sold weapons that belonged to him and his father to Mr. Logan, who donated the weapons to the Chicago Historical Society. There's a strong market for Civil War memorabilia. "Stolen property remains stolen property," said Mr. Erhart. "He could have sold it to somebody in the black market. He understood that he had a duty to return it to the rightful owner."

Today, Mr. Erhart said, many museums emphasize World War II, and the Civil War's significance is missed by many Americans. "They wouldn't know Owen Brown from Charlie Brown." Mr. Erhart hoped this gun is displayed, for the sake of Mr. Hassinger and history buffs like him. "It may very well never see the light of day again and that hurts him. He has no say in what they do."

Text and Top Image Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 31, 2010.

Second Image Source: Owen Brown

Third Image Source: Owen Brown's Grave in California

Fourth Image: Kennedy Farm, Maryland: location of Brown's Provisional Army encampment immediately before the raid on Harper's Ferry, Virginia

Friday, March 26, 2010

Grand Army of the Republic Post Re-Opens In Pennsylvania

Restored Veterans Post On Display At Carnegie Free Library, Brad Hundt, Observer-Reporter, Washington, Pennsylvania, March 21, 2010.

The men gathered on the steps outside Carnegie's hilltop library are a wizened bunch.
Gray and white whiskers sprout from creased faces and a few waistlines demonstrate how a metabolism can slow with the accumulation of years. Tentative grins show up on a few faces, but, for the most part, they're a proud, poker-faced lot.

They're all survivors of America's Civil War, a lucky contingent that managed to dodge the minie balls and cannon fire in the War Between the States and lived to tell about it. We see them in a photo taken in 1906 on the steps of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library, marking the dedication of the Captain Thomas Espy Post of the Grand Army of the Republic.

The image looms over the restored Espy Post, which reopened in February. And the rebirth of the room where Civil War veterans would gather to reminisce about their exploits and curate artifacts from the battlefield is just a part of the library's effort to become a must-see stop for Civil War buffs and scholars.

"Civil War enthusiasts are passionate," said Maggie Forbes, the library's executive director. She envisions that tourism generated by the library could even be "a linchpin for the revitalization of Carnegie." To that end, the Duquesne Wind Symphony is teaming with "Ghost Whisperer" star and Pittsburgh native David Conrad for an April 11 performance of Aaron Copland's "A Lincoln Portrait" in the library's music hall. It will be a few days after the 145th anniversary of Robert E. Lee's surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Va., and a few days before the 145th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination.

It will accompany "Abraham Lincoln: A Man Of His Times, A Man For All Times," an exhibit developed by the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History, which will be at the library starting April 2. Re-enactors and scholars will be visiting April 10.

The library's immersion in all-things Civil War-related is so comprehensive that, a few years ago, it staged "Our American Cousin," the farce that Lincoln was enjoying at Washington, D.C.'s, Ford's Theatre when John Wilkes Booth crept into the president's box.

"It's very unique," said Rea Andrew Redd, the director of Waynesburg University's Eberly Library and the head of a Civil War re-enactment group. "You can have a type of communion with the past there."

Named after an Upper St. Clair merchant who died in a Confederate prison camp, the Espy Post functioned in much the same way that American Legion and VFW posts do today, offering community service and a place to socialize with comrades who endured similar triumphs and trials. When the last veteran who haunted the Espy Post died in 1937, it was basically forgotten.

"They didn't know what they were going to do with it, so they locked it up," said library director Diane Klinefelter. Until the 1980s, the Espy Post was mothballed. Unused desks were shoved in the room. Coal dust covered the dishes that the veterans used at mealtimes. The roof started leaking.

Once library officials realized they had a historical treasure chest on their hands, though, they faced the Herculean task of trying to refurbish it. But "the fact that it had been ignored for 50 years is probably what saved it," Klinefelter pointed out. Otherwise, it could have been dismantled or pilfered by antique-hunters and souvenir-seekers.

A full-blown restoration of the room has always been on the library's drawing board, but a combination of donations and grants in 2008 provided the library the wherewithal to get it done. It now has its own security and heating and cooling systems and glass windows that protect against ultraviolet light. It was also studied by researchers at a Bryn Mawr laboratory to determine exactly what color the walls once were (they settled on pumpkin chiffon).

Among the items it contains are original chairs, weapons from the battlefield like swords and carbines, a uniform or two and leather-bound histories of the war and GAR posts. There's also a spittoon from those days with visible tobacco stains in it. "It was as if they were just in here," Klinefelter said.

CWL: Yes. That's my quote in the seventh paragraph.

Text Source: Observer-Reporter, Washington, Pennsylvania

Images' Source: Carnegie Free Library, Carnegie, PA

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Civil War Did Not Take Place In The South

The Civil War Did Not Take Place, William Pencak, Rethinking History Journal, 6:2 (2002), pp. 217-221.

Upon upon comparing and contrasting the media's accounts of the the 1991 Iraq War and eyewitness testimony of the war, Jean Baudrillard in in 1995 declared that the Gulf War did not take place. Pencak makes the same claim that the for the American Civil War is a verbal construction and hides testimony that American citizens would rather forget.

Pencak reviews the history of 'civil war' as a term that signifies the events of 1861-1865. Five stages gauge imperfectly how book titles used the term to describe the great conflict. He finds that the five stages correspond to the historical periods that marked the gradual reconciliation of the two regions. From 1865 to 1872, the term 'civil war' only appeared in the scholarly works of Benson Lossing (1866-1868), J. W. Draper (1867-1870) and Guernsey and Alden (1867). Otherwise, Northerners generally wrote of 'the rebellion' or 'the war for the Union' and Southerners wrote of 'the war for southern independence. At this time Reconstruction issues were at the fore.

During the 1870s, the moral picture became complicated by the continued presence of Federal troops in the South, and political corruption among the friends of U.S. Grant. Democratic Party leaders such as Samuel Tilden, Winfield Hancock, Grover Cleveland relied on Southerners turning out the vote. Pencak notes that from 1873 to 1889 the word/phrase 'rebellion' and 'war for the Union' stilled dominated in the North and 'War Between the States' became dominant in the South. He declares that state sovereignty had not been dismissed in the minds of Southerners and/or that the two regions were national states.

By the late 1880s, the intersecting issues of European immigration, Populism, and urban disorders became more dramatic that inter-sectional antagonisms. In 1887 President Grover Cleveland returned captured Confederate flags and the 25th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg was noted. Within 19 years the last Union veteran to be president, William McKinley, stated that North and South are not divided "upon the old lines, but upon principles and policies and the Spanish-American war saw the return of two Confederate generals to the ranks of the Federal army.

Memoirs began to pour forth and the term 'civil war' began to appear in the titles of the works in as many instances as the phrase 'the war of the rebellion' appeared.
For the first time the term 'civil war' was in the titles of books written by Confederate officers. From 1910 to 1920 the term 'civil war' was used in the majority of book titles. This trend continues to the present day. Pancak notes several popular culture references to the war; these anecdotes may indicate change away from the prevalence of the term 'civil war.'

Granny Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies became outraged at the use of the term 'civil war' which she defined at a time when the North invaded the United States. Nostalgia for the Confederacy among Southerners and the membership increases in of The League of the South, a relative new organization, are advocating a return to post-war terms. Now 'heritage violations' are committed by Northerners who are unaware of the Declaration of Southern Cultural Independence and the state of Mississippi's attempt to establish the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library. Pencak notes that 'while refutation of historical error can never shake the true believer' it may encourage some to keep an open mind about labels and hidden agendas. Distortions of the past are avoided when historians pay attentions to the historicity of the 'Civil War' as a proper noun. 'The Civil War' is a compromise term.

Special attention should be given to the term during this era of neo-Confederate interpretations. Foremost, Southerners before 1861 insisted that the cause of the war was a fear that the Federal government would interfere with the expansion of slavery or infringe on slavery's current domain. After the war slavery in the Southern mind was diminished as a cause of the war and states' rights elevated as a prime cause. " . . . the only states' right the South really cared about was the right to" keep their slaves. Southerners contested other states' legislation to inhibit the return of runaways by the Federal authorities.

Pencak understands that the greatest myth regarding the war is the belief that the Confederacy laid down it arms and peacefully embraced reunion. Citing the 700 pages of Congressional testimony regarding incidents of violence committed before 1867, Pencak dismisses the notion that the South lost an essential tenet of the conflict.
From the 1865 to 1877, then from 1877 to the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, the South demonstrated a penchant for violence when ordering its race relations regarding land ownership, suffrage, labor contracts and social intercourse. Pencak's references his conclusions regarding the use of the terms 'civil war', 'rebellion' and others to a bibliography that is provided at the end of the article.

CWL feels that Pencak's essay is compatible with AP history courses and undergraduate students. His writing style is clear, concise and cogent. The essay is conducive to a classroom discussion on the nature of history and historical interpretations. The essay's length, with a list of bibliographic references, is five pages which is an amount that should not be intimidating to academic readers.

Image Source:
Top: Jefferson Davis Presidential Library
Second: Harpers Weekly Newspaper
Third: League of the South
Bottom: Penn State University

News---Did Doctor's Perscription Cause the Civil War?

The Little Blue Pills That Sent Abraham Lincoln Into A Rage, Heidi Blake, The Telegraph (UK), March 23, 2010

The Blue Mass pills taken as antidepressants by Abraham Lincoln contained dangerously high levels of mercury likely to have caused his notoriously wild temper, scientists have found.

The 16th United States President Abraham Lincoln The 16th President of the United States took the pills in the 1850s to alleviate what one contemporary described as the “cave of gloom” in which he lived. But researchers who analysed a recently unearthed sample of the medicine discovered it contained up to 120 times the acceptable daily intake of mercury.

Anti-obesity pill 'could cut weight by a quarter'Scientists at the Royal Society of Chemistry, where the tests were carried out, believe the high mercury content in the pills is what caused Lincoln’s famous verbal and physical rages.

On one occasion the President became so incensed that he grabbed a former aide and shook him “until his teeth chattered”. One contemporary describe his face in anger as “lurid with majestic and terrifying wrath”.

Blue Mass pills were used widely and often ineffectually in the 19th Century as a cure for ailments including toothache, constipation, childbirth pains and depression. Mercury is highly poisonous, and symptoms of toxicity include nausea, vomiting, dehydration and diarrhoea – a well as a violent temper. Lincoln decided to abandon the pills at the outset of the American Civil War in 1861 because they “made him cross”. He became renowned during the conflict for his calmness under pressure

CWL: Did the South feel unsafe and leave the Union because of Lincoln's temper?
How many Fire Eaters were taking the same medication?
And vampires weren't safe around Lincoln either.
See Abe dispatch a vampire.

Text Source: Telegraph (UK)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

News: Medal of Honor for Federal Canoneer at Gettysburg?

1st Lt. Alonzo Cushing Is One Step Closer to the Medal of Honor

Civil War hero from Delafield in line for Medal of Honor, Meg Jones, Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Online, March 23, 2010.

In the hell that was the battle of Gettysburg, in the hailstorm of shells and shrapnel that extinguished so many lives on a hot July day, one bullet struck a blue-clad soldier from Delafield, Wis., in the head. A shell fragment already had pierced Alonzo Cushing's shoulder and shrapnel tore through his abdomen before the shot that felled the 1861 West Point graduate. Cushing died July 3, 1863, during Pickett's Charge at Cemetery Ridge next to the artillery guns he refused to leave. It was the third and final day of the Gettysburg battle. Cushing was just 22.

The 1st lieutenant's body was returned to his family and buried at West Point beneath a headstone inscribed "Faithful until death." Cushing's name didn't fade away - it graces a park in Delafield, and a white obelisk monument was dedicated there in 1915. However, a small but dedicated group wanted more for Cushing; they wanted his heroism recognized with the nation's highest military honor. Now, it appears that Cushing will be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on that Pennsylvania battlefield 147 years ago.

The secretary of the Army has approved the request, which must go through a few more hurdles before it can be signed by the president. Then the military will present the Medal of Honor to Cushing's family during a ceremony. "He's definitely my hero," said Phil Shapiro, 27, who started a "Give Alonzo Cushing the Medal of Honor" Facebook page in early February. "I always felt he deserved the Medal of Honor." The quest to recognize Cushing's valor began in the 1980s, first with then-Sen. William Proxmire and later with Sen. Russ Feingold, who eventually shepherded the request through military and congressional channels.

Margaret Zerwekh, 90, who belonged to the auxiliary of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, has three inch-thick folders of paperwork relating to the effort. Normally, a recommendation for the Medal of Honor must be made within two to three years of the heroic action, and the medal must be awarded within three to five years. The length of time varies depending on the military branch, said Victoria Kueck, director of operations for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. It takes an act of Congress to waive the time limits, which was done in Cushing's case.

The Medal of Honor dates to the Civil War. Of the 3,468 Medals of Honor awarded to U.S. military members, 1,522 were given out during the Civil War, though back then only a handful were conferred posthumously. It's possible Cushing was never recognized for his bravery because so many men valiantly lost their lives at Gettysburg or because so few Medals of Honor were awarded posthumously during the Civil War. Whatever the cause, Zerwekh believes Cushing is due.

"When Alonzo and his (three) brothers went off to the Navy and Army, their mother told them, 'Die my boys, but no dishonor.' That was probably one of the things he was thinking when he stood there at his last gun," said Zerwekh, who lives on property in Delafield once owned by Alonzo Cushing's father, Milton. Barbara Gruwell's father, Robert Cushing, who died this month at the age of 80, was part of the effort to recognize his ancestor. Gruwell, who is Alonzo Cushing's sixth cousin four times removed, was able to tell her father the good news before he died. "He was honored to know Alonzo had been recognized," said Gruwell, of Lodi.

Before Gettysburg, Cushing fought at Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville as well as the Battle of Bull Run. Historic accounts of the Gettysburg battle place Cushing and his men of Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery near a small grove of trees in a confined spot known as "the Angle" because of a stone fence used by Union troops during the third day of the battle.

This was the area of Pickett's Charge. Before that desperate and ultimately disastrous gamble, Confederate artillery launched a ferocious bombardment that decimated Cushing's unit. When the Confederate cannonade stopped, Cushing had only two working cannons and a few soldiers left. Despite being told by his superiors to seek medical attention, Cushing refused to leave the front line or disband what remained of his battery. He had been wounded in the shoulder and was holding in his intestines with his hand after shrapnel ripped through his abdomen and groin.

Battery A moved the two remaining guns to the stone wall and blasted away at the charging Confederates. Cushing was seen firing one of the cannons into the mass of Pickett's soldiers as they drew close to the stone wall. A few seconds after he yelled "I will give them one more shot," Cushing was struck in the mouth by a bullet that killed him instantly.

The location of Pickett's Charge and the Angle are among the most heavily visited places by tourists and re-enactors journeying to Gettysburg. A stone marker dedicated to Cushing was erected at the site in 1887. It's still there, right next to two cannons. "Many of the stories that surround Alonzo Cushing may seem like tall tales, but they're steeped in fact of his bravery on the battlefield," said Kirsten Lee Villegas, executive director of the Waukesha County Historical Society, which has numerous documents relating to Cushing in its archives. Cushing is mentioned in the Civil War exhibit at the historical society, which was responsible for the Cushing monument in Delafield in 1915.

Shapiro, the creator of the Facebook page dedicated to Cushing, learned of the Wisconsin hero when his father took him to Civil War battlefields as a boy. He wrote papers on Cushing for high school and college classes and bought two small crossed cannon pins similar to those worn by artillerymen such as Cushing. On a visit to Cushing's grave at West Point more than a decade ago, Shapiro left one of the cannon pins on the headstone. The other pin he keeps close.

Shapiro is an Air Force C-130 pilot based at Little Rock Air Force Base. He recently returned from missions in support of Haitian earthquake victims and last year was deployed to Iraq, where he flew cargo and passengers throughout the war zone. He's expecting to be deployed overseas again later this year. Shapiro wears the artillery pin fastened to the underside of his hat. "Sometimes if I get in a situation I'm nervous about, I look at it and touch it and try to remember I have courage. I've never been in a situation anything close to what Alonzo did, but if you could be 22 years old and do what he did, I can certainly put up with anything," Shapiro said.

Bottom Image Caption: First Lt. Alonzo Cushing of Delafield (middle, standing) was among Union officers at Antietam in 1862. At Gettysburg the next year, a wounded Cushing refused to abandon his post and was killed. A group has been pushing to honor him.

Portrait Image:Cushing's Battery
Medal Image: Medal of Honor
Text and Bottom Image: Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Online

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Just War, Just A War, Crusade or Jihad?: Yankee Soldiers and Their Motivations for Sacrifice

No Peace For The Wicked: Northern Protestants and the American Civil War, David Rolfs, University of Tennessee Press, notes, bibliography, index, 288 pages, 2009, $38.95.

No Peace for the Wicked: Northern Protestants and the American Civil War examines Northern Protestants' religious worldview, their motivations for fighting, and why the most religious generation in U.S. history fought America's bloodiest war. In the spring of 1861, young men throughout the Northern states rallied around the Union flag, eager to punish the Confederate renegades who had brazenly inaugurated civil war by firing on Fort Sumter. Often driven by their Protestant religious beliefs, many northern soldiers believed they were enlisting in a just war to save their Christian government from a "wicked" Southern rebellion.

These Protestant soldiers' faith was severely tested by the hardships and tragedies they experienced in the Civil War. The vast majority easily justified their wartime service by reminding themselves and their loved ones that they were engaged in a holy cause to preserve the world's only Christian republic. Others were genuinely haunted by the horrific violence of a seemingly endless civil war, and began to entertain serious doubts about their faith.

The first comprehensive work of its kind, David Rolfs' No Peace for the Wicked sheds new light on the Northern Protestant soldiers' religious worldview and the various ways they used it to justify and interpret their wartime experiences. Drawing extensively from the letters, diaries and published collections of hundreds of religious soldiers, Rolfs effectively resurrects both these soldiers' religious ideals and their most profound spiritual doubts and conflicts. No Peace for the Wicked also explores the importance of "just war" theory in the formulation of Union military strategy and tactics, and examines why the most religious generation in U.S. history fought America's bloodiest war.

In the Autumn 2009 Civil War Book Review, Robert Welch reviewed No Rest For The Wicked: "Within the last decade religion has become one of the fastest growing areas of this new research, with works by Steven Woodworth, Mark Noll, Harry S. Stout and others delving into concepts of faith, morality and the service in the face of civil conflict. David Rolfs seeks to build directly off the arguments of several of these authors at various points in his work through a study of the role of Protestant Christianity among Union soldiers and the post-Second Great Awakening environment that formed their beliefs.

Rolfs' discussion of religion among Federal soldiers centers on the analysis of archived letters and diaries representing both major theaters of the war, as well as soldiers from numerous states. . . . The rigorous work that Rolfs put into the development of his methodology, as well as the time necessarily spent in archives to find the letters of these Christian soldiers and the works of such ministers as Henry Ward Beecher, makes this book of interest to the social historian of the Union army. . . . Rolfs' overall work is an informative read, giving new insights to the religious world of the Federal soldier during the Civil War and the society that shaped him. It should provide an interesting addendum to the library of anyone researching the role of religion as part of the overall experience of the mid-nineteenth century and who wishes to understand the motivations, compromises and conflicts of faith faced in the midst of America's bloodiest and most challenging conflict."

David Rolf states:
First developed as an extensive 2000-2002 disseration project under the guidance of Professor James Jones and Sally Hadden at FSU No Peace for the Wicked: Northern Protestants and the American Civil War was a vision inspired by the work of James M. McPherson. In the afterword to the groundbreaking 1998 work Religion and the American Civil War McPherson challenged historians to explore "the ways in which ordinary northerners and southerners, inside and outside the army, managed to rationalize the killing" of the American Civil War.

As a young graduate student, socialized in the more pacifistic just war traditions of the Catholic Church, I was particularly interested in how devout Reformed Protestant soldiers in the Union army managed to justify not just the killing, but a terrible and protracted civil war that seemed to contradict some of their earlier beliefs concerning the nature of man, the justice of the Union cause, the certainty of Union victory, emancipation, and God's purposes in the war.

From the inside cover:
In the spring of 1861, young men from all over the Northern states flocked to join the Union arm, eager to crush the newly fomented Southern rebellion. Many were driven by their Protestant religious beliefs, convinced they were joining a holy cause to save the Union from the "wicked" Confederacy. Those religious ideals were quickly put to the test by the vicious nature of the Civil War. Some soldiers rationalized their violent actions, telling themselves that they were engaged in a noble conflict to preserve the ideals of the Union, while others were huanted by the horrors of war and eventually lost their faith altogether. The motives, dilemmas and justifications of these men are now brilliantly captured in David Rolf's No Peace for the Wicked.

The first comprehensive work of its kind, this book takes the reader into the minds of these often-conflicted soldiers. Drawing from a rich trove of letters, diaries, and published collections, Rolfs offers a penetrating examinination of the religious motives of these Christian warriors, who represented a variety of denominations and social backgrounds. Many of their innermost thoughts--both their ideals and their torments--are shared in the pages of this book. "No Peace for the Wicked" also explores the importance of "just war" theory in the formulation of Union military strategy and tactics.


"Civil War armies were probably the most religious in American history. Products of the Second Great Awakening in American Protestantism, many Northern soldiers believed they were fighting for God as well as country. Their faith helped them confront danger and possible death. In this fine study, David Rolfs shows how this war over secular issues was nevertheless infused with Christian rhetoric and convictions." James M. McPherson

"This book makes an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the Civil War in general and to the place of religion in Northern common soldiers in particular . . . In its use of primary materials (supplemented by printed letters), the book's scholarly content rises to the level of the very best `people's histories' of the Civil War." Mark Noll

No Peace for the Wicked is a deeply thought provoking book that reveals an often overlooked aspect of Northern soldiers' motivations and inner struggles. Those wishing to understand the Civil War soldiers--or the cultural landscape of nineteenth-century America--will not want to miss this book." Steven E. Woodworth

David Rolfs was born in Chicago, David Rolfs grew up in southeastern Wisconsin, where he attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Whitewater. He earned his Ph.D. in nineteenth-century American history at Florida State University, where he also minored in the history of the Middle East. David's research interests include early American history, the American Civil War, World War II, Holocaust studies, Middle East civilization, and the theme of conspiracy in American history. He has authored articles on just warfare, the Holocaust, and the religious history of the American Civil War. When he is not teaching or writing, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and five-year old twins.

Text Sources:
Civil War Book Review
University of Tennessee Press

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Forthcoming and Noteworthy: Free Your Mind and Your Slaves Will Follow?

Confederate Minds: The Struggle for Intellectual Independence in the Civil War, South, Michael T. Bernath, University of North Carolina Press, 464 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, $39.95. (May 15, 2010)

During the Civil War, Confederates fought for much more than their political independence. They also fought to prove the distinctiveness of the Southern people and to legitimate their desire for a separate national existence through the creation of a uniquely Southern literature and culture. In this important new book, Michael Bernath follows the activities of a group of Southern writers, thinkers, editors, publishers, educators, and ministers--whom he labels Confederate cultural nationalists--in order to trace the rise and fall of a cultural movement dedicated to liberating the South from its longtime dependence on Northern books, periodicals, and teachers.

During the Civil War, Confederates fought for much more than their political independence. They also fought to prove the distinctiveness of the Southern people and to legitimate their desire for a separate national existence through the creation of a uniquely Southern literature and culture. In this important new book, Michael Bernath follows the activities of a group of Southern writers, thinkers, editors, publishers, educators, and ministers--whom he labels Confederate cultural nationalists--in order to trace the rise and fall of a cultural movement dedicated to liberating the South from its longtime dependence on Northern books, periodicals, and teachers.

This struggle for Confederate “intellectual independence” was seen as a vital part of the larger war effort. For the Southern nationalists, independence won on the battlefield would be meaningless as long as Southerners remained in a state of cultural “vassalage” to their enemy. As new Confederate publications appeared at a surprising rate and Southerners took steps toward establishing their own system of education, cultural nationalists believed they saw the Confederacy coalescing into a true nation. Ultimately, however, Confederates proved no more able to win their intellectual independence than their political freedom.

By analyzing the motives driving the struggle for Confederate intellectual independence, by charting its wartime accomplishments, and by assessing its failures, Bernath makes provocative arguments about the nature of Confederate nationalism, life within the Confederacy, and the perception of Southern cultural distinctiveness.

During the Civil War, some Confederates sought to prove the distinctiveness of the Southern people and to legitimate their desire for a separate national existence through the creation of a uniquely Southern literature and culture. Michael Bernath follows the activities of a group of Southern writers, thinkers, editors, publishers, educators, and ministers--whom he labels Confederate cultural nationalists--in order to trace the rise and fall of a cultural movement dedicated to liberating the South from its longtime dependence on Northern books, periodicals, and teachers. Bernath makes provocative arguments about the nature of Confederate nationalism, life within the Confederacy, and the perception of Southern cultural distinctiveness.

First Impressions: "A very clear and forcefully argued treatment of the drive for cultural independence in the Confederacy. It is based on exhaustive study of periodicals, pamphlets, and all kinds of printed matter produced during the Civil War. A most original and significant contribution to southern intellectual history and to the history of the Confederacy."
--George C. Rable, author of Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!

"This carefully and exhaustively researched book brings into sharp focus the sheer number--and the sheer persistence--of editors and educators who sought to create an intellectual culture in the South. Bernath's admirable study corrects anyone who thinks that wartime turmoil shut down the full-throated cry of antebellum Southern partisanship."
--Steven Stowe, author of Doctoring the South: Southern Physicians and Everyday Medicine in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Text Source: University of North Carolina Press
Author Image: University of Miami

Monday, March 15, 2010

News---Buy a Home on the July 1 Rebel Assault Path to McPherson's Ridge?

Zoning Allows Hundreds Of Homes: A Builder Plans To Buy Former Gettysburg Country Club, Which Is Zoned Residential, Tim Purdentee, Evening Sun, March 14, 2010

The sale of the Gettysburg Country Club is scheduled to close by the end of the month. While the property is zoned residential, word is still out what the land could be shaped into, but the builder has said it s unlikely to remain a country club. There's still no word on what will become of the once-manicured lawns of the Gettysburg Country Club. But, under current Cumberland Township zoning, the former golf course could become a development of tightly clustered houses.

The site's 120 acres, which saw significant action during the Battle of Gettysburg, are zoned as residential, which would allow up to 3.5 housing units per developable acre. That doesn't mean 420 houses could be built there, zoning officials say, because some of the acreage will be allotted for infrastructure and open-space requirements. Still, rules would allow more than 3.5 units on some acres because of the township's "cluster" zoning provision. The provision allows for a greater density of dwellings in proportion to "open space," which can take the shape of ponds and waterways.

"It's basically condensed housing," said Bill Neagle, a zoning officer with the township. "I know there's a big pond on the back of the property and when you have open space like that it's hard to say how many houses could go up." The sale of the location is expected to be completed on March 30 to Woodhaven Building and Development Inc., and the company's president Martin K.P. Hill has said that it's "very unlikely" the site remain a country club.

Cumberland Township officials are awaiting the release of a development plan by Woodhaven, which would shed light on the number of developable acres and, in turn, potential units. "From our standpoint we don't know a thing until they release a plan," Neagle said. "A whole lot of things go into a plan, like water management and roads. It's all very intense." Even as the deal nears, preservationists say they'd like to see the site - which lies within the boundaries of the national battlefield - avoid development.

As a golf course, the grounds have remained free of development, if not exactly like they were in 1863. But the identity has been enough to satisfy historical societies who were unable to match the asking-price of $2.79 million when the site went to a sheriff's auction in 2008. Earlier that year, Susquehanna Bank foreclosed on the property and, after the auction failed to attract a single bid, the bank claimed ownership.

Katie Lawhon, a spokeswoman for the park, declined comment on the sale, stating that land-acquisition efforts are confidential. Although, she added, "It's a high priority for us to acquire some kind of protection. It's significant to the battle of Gettysburg which literally makes it a national treasure ... our goal is to protect the property." The Civil War Preservation Trust has also expressed interest in the site and spokeswoman Mary Koik commented, "Right now, we're still very interested in the club ... we certainly hate to see residential development of that intensity on any historic land."

The club was added to the Gettysburg National Military Park in 1990 after congressional legislation expanded the park's boundaries. The location was where Confederate commander Gen. James Archer was captured by the famed Iron Brigade on July 1, 1863, a day when more than 1,000 soldiers died on, and nearby, the country-club grounds.

Although the preservation of the land may appear in jeopardy, the foundering economy has raised questions regarding development of the site. "With the economy we're having right now, who's to say they wouldn't leave it a golf course for a while," said Neagle, noting the high cost of construction. "I'm open to leave it a golf course ... I'm a golfer," he added.

Text and Image Source : Evening Sun

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Off-Topic Fiction---Pynchon Cashes In, Out

Inherent Vice, A Novel, Thomas Pynchon, Penguin Books, 369 pp., 2009,$27.95.

Not sure what to do with this. Is it noir detective fiction? No. Is it comedy detective? No. Inherent Vice is set in Gordita Beach, a California surf city and during the early seventies. Doc Sportello, licensed private detective who has cut his chops in the skip tracing business is the protagonist. Brews, broads, and weed are never out of reach for Doc. Friends, clients and enemies have curious names: Shasta Fay, Reet, Denis (rhymes with penis), Petunia, Shauncho, Dr. Blatnoyd, and a host of others.

At issue is the disappearance of Micky Wolfmann, multi-millionaire real estate developer, whose main squeeze, other than his wife, is Shasta Fay for whom Doc is caring a torch. There are a few subplots and investigations that drop clues for the main plot. Maritime law, the ARPANet (early Internet), film, rock lyrics, and the mythical Pacific lost continent of Lemuria are summoned by the author to decorate the thin plot.

Will Inherent Vice be a film? Big Liebowski, PI? Doc and Bigfoot Bjornsen, LAPD detective, have some comic dialog. Sportello is a likable guy but his dope chatter takes him only so far. There is little momentum in the novel, possibly because nearly all the characters are smoking weed. At times though, Sportello and Bjornson are reflective in a serious way about the impact of currents events. What did the Manson Murders do to California's psyche? But also, there are sterotpyic toss off statements regarding surf culture, weed culture, political culture, and casino culture.

Lots of old movies, lots of music lyrics, lots of dope jokes pad the narrative. Pynchon, well known among the literati for his densely intricate novels, such as Gravity's Rainbow, has over compensated with Inherent Vice. It is
simplistic and nostalgic, much like the latest Springsteen album. One wonders if Pynchon's financial portfolio in the autumn of 2008 lost half its value and Inherent Vice was offered to the public as part of his own stimulus package. It is not a successful parody if it was intended to be one. Inherent Vice's future might rest in a graphic novel/film collaboration. Maybe of Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez are interested in the film rights. Sin City Two: The Comedy.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

New and Noteworthy Fiction---A Friendly Little War

A Friendly Little War, John Sherman, Wild Wind Books, 484 pages, paperback, $20.00.

Whoever knew that Britain was a hair's breadth away from declaring war on America in 1862? When Charles Bartlett joined the Union army, he could have been forgiven for expecting the American Civil War to remain exactly that - American and civil. But that would have been to underestimate the complexities of nineteenth-century international politics, in which every country is a pawn in a game of diplomatic chess. From the moment he is sent on a spying mission to London, Bartlett is caught up in an adventure that finds him negotiating the corridors of power in France, entwined in the fledgling Irish independence movement, negotiating with Spanish forces in Mexico, stealing top secret weapon designs, and much more. Despite this, he also finds time for romance and intrigue with his bewitching, aristocratic landlady in London. For lovers of historical dramas, action adventures, and old-fashioned romance novels alike, "A Friendly Little War" is an action-filled journey through the captivating world of nineteenth century diplomacy. Meticulously researched, the book immerses the readers in fascinating real world events and larger-than-life historical characters across two continents. When readers discover that the outcome of the American Civil War was largely determined in London and at sea, they will see history in a different light.

John Sherman spent five years researching and writing this book but sadly is not alive to see its publication. His widow and youngest son are publishing it in memory of the author and his second son - Ian - who passed away this year. Profits will go to The Stroke Association and Cancer Research. The author was born and brought up in Venezuela of American parents. He was the great-grand-nephew of the Civil War general, William Tecumseh Sherman (who has cameo in the book.) John Sherman was educated at Yale and Harvard Business School, spent most of his life in Latin America and London, and always had a keen interest in the Civil War.

CWL: A press release and sample chapter was sent my way. I liked the concept from the press release and I read chapter 16. The pacing is good, the characters well drawn, and their dialogue rings of the mid-19th century.

Text and Image Source: A Friendly Little War,

Civil War Archaeology---Secret Weapons Testing, West Point, and the Russians

Civil War Espionage, Andrew Slayman, Archaeology Magazine, May 1995 (48:3), page 18.

Archaeologists investigating a Civil War era iron foundry near the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York found evidence of a possibly secret weapon program. The discovery, excavation and conservation of a a 12-foot, square, oak and cast iron platform within the foundry site has intrigued industrial archaeologists. Records reveal that a 13 ton, rifled cannon that could project shells five miles was mounted and tested at the foundry during the war. It fired shells containing a 19th century mix of chemicals that would, later in the 20th century, come close to the recipe for napalm. There is a possibility that the shells were used during the July-August 1863 assault on Charleston, South Carolina.

Foundry director R. P. Parrott accepted credit for developing the cannon but hearings on the project by the Joint Committee on Ordnance and the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War revealed that Russians working in England obtained plans for a similar British cannon that was being secretly developed for the Royal Navy. The Czar, who had recently defended Russia from France and Great Britain in the Crimean War considered the U.S. as an ally.

Among 150,000 artifacts were found that related to the testing platform and workers' barracks that point to a community of highly skilled munitions experts. The range of artifacts within the barracks are not those of unskilled workers but of highly skilled researchers using at that time state-of-the-art scientific equipment. Many of these artifacts were imports from Europe. From the 1950s through the 1970 was used by the Marathon Battery Company that supplied cadmium batteries for Nike missiles. In 1983 the Environment Protect Agency ordered the site cleaned and hired the industrial archaeologists to excavate the site.

Image Source: Parrott Cannon

Monday, March 08, 2010

The First Lincoln Assasination Conspiracy, 1860-1861.

The Baltimore Plot: The First Conspiracy to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln, Michael J. Klein, Westholme Press, 2008, 520 pages, illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, $29.95.

Are you familiar with 24 a TV show that's been on for about seven seasons? Keifer Sutherland plays Jack Baurer, an action hero with a big Internet and satellite team behind him. The show runs on 'real time' which means there are sometimes three windows, a ticking clock and bursts of music like Law and Order's chun-chung. Well, The Baltimore Plot: The First Conspiracy to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln, is the thinking person's 24. But there is a big, big difference. The Baltimore Plot: The First Conspiracy to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln, is rational like a courtroom is rational.

On February 11, 1861, special train cars began their journey from Springfield, Illinois, to the City of Washington, and carried Lincoln to his inauguration as the sixteenth president of the United States. Over the next twelve days, Lincoln would speak at numerous stops, including Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Albany, New York, and Philadelphia. As Lincoln made his way to Washington D.C., three investigations separately concluded that in Baltimore Lincoln would be assaulted with the intention of killing him.

Allan Pinkerton, noted private detective of the era and working for a railroad president, a separate undercover operation by two New York City detectives, and Winfield Scott, chief of the army, individually uncovered startling evidence of a conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln during his next-to-last stop in Baltimore. Klein reviews Baltimore's consistently history of mob violence. Robert E. Lee's father, Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, was nearly beaten to death in its streets by a mob of politically active Democrats.

Maryland had secessionist sympathies in its eastern seaboard region. Baltimore was the hothouse for paramilitary conspiracies. Leaders included an Italian anti-monarchist who was a barber, the chief of police, the mayor, future colonels and generals in the Army of Northern Virginia, and future Confederates agents who lived in Montreal during the war. If Lincoln died before the inauguration who would become President in March. His vice-president? The runner-up in the November 1860 election? Better consult the Constitution and make sure that Chief Justice Roger Taney doesn't offer his own side-bar interpretation of it.

If Lincoln had been killed in Baltimore, would then the first-shot of the Civil War would have been there and not Charleston, S.C.? Possibly, except for the fact that Breckinridge, future Confederate general and Secretary of War, was Buchanan's vice-president and future Confederate general Floyd was the Secretary of War. One of the great secret conspiracies in American history, the Baltimore Plot has never been fully investigated. Was evidence of a plot to murder Abraham Lincoln as he traveled through Baltimore en route to his 1861 inauguration genuine? Or was it a product of detective Allan Pinkerton’s imaginative program of self-promotion? Historians have been divided on the issue. Michael Kline, a lawyer by occupation, has made a very convincing argument for a conspiracy to murder charge based on circumstantial evidence. Kline makes it in exacting and fascinating detail. The characters are fully developed and propel the narrative forward.

Kline turns his legal expertise to evaluating primary sources in order to discover the extent of the conspiracy and culpability of the many suspects surrounding the case. Memorable characters like Timothy Webster (later to be hung in Richmond, Virginia) and Kate Warne (probably the first female professional undercover detective) and intriguing plot twists unfold the criminal conspiracy to murder. Much like a courtroom presentation in the best films and novels, the author allows the jury of readers to determine whether there was a true plot to kill Lincoln and if the perpetrators could have been brought to trial.

Relying upon his legal arguments, Kline brings the story to a narrative climax at Harrisburg. Does Lincoln have enough evidence to believe Pinkerton’s report? of Should he to alter his travel schedule through Baltimore? It was a second, independent source of intelligence from Winfield Scott and William Seward that convinced Lincoln to accept Pinkerton's plan. Gathering information, arguing its value, and re-creating the tension of the secession crisis, Kline's narrative absorbs readers.

From the whorehouses of Baltimore to the congressional committee in D.C. investigating the possibility of violence, from the paramilitary drills performed in Democratic meeting halls to the telegraph offices along the trains' route, from the railway stations where 20 assassins await Lincoln's arrival, to the Washington Peace Conference where the secretary from Vermont is witness to an amazing conversation between two Virginia delegates, Kline's narrative is as compelling as any episode of 24.

Klein clearly states which parts of his arguement are conjecture and which are founded upon a close reading of primary sources. He does not hide behind generalizations or best guesses. By the end of the book, CWL accepts Klein's arguements. Louis T. Wigfall, senator from Texas, was a conspirator. John Wilkes Booth, Baltimore native, was a conspirator. Maryland's governor, Baltimore's mayor and it's chief of police were conspirators. They and many more expected Lincoln to be dead by 2:00pm on February 23, 1861 on Calvert Street between the Calvert and Camden Street railroad stations. Killed by a bullet or blade, Lincoln would have died surrounded by 20 assasins and a compliant Baltimore police force, both having motive, means and opportunity.

Related Website: April 19 Baltimore Riot Trail

Image Source: Camden Station, Baltimore

Baltimore's Civil War Museum

Off Topic Classic---Henry James: The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw has a history. Over twenty films, operas, theatre productions, ballets, and televsion dramas have bee produced since the short story/novella made its first appearance in 1898. It has been a subtext for HBO's Deadwood and ABC's Lost. There are probably ten schools of thought about Henry James' intentions the meanings of the work. Literary critics, philosophers, psychologists and fiction writers have put forth a myriad of implications for an understanding the mind, evil and the supernatural.

A narrator listens to friend read a manuscript written by a former governess whom the friend has known but who is now dead. The young governess cares for two orphans at the request of a friend of their dead parents. He is an abstentee gaurdian living in London. Miles, the male orphan, is attends a boarding school. Flora, the female orphan, lives at country house that is kept and managed by Mrs. Grose. The gaurdian gives the governess charge of the children and states that she is not to bother him under any circumstances with details of her work or of the children's lives.

A letter from Miles' headmaster stating that he has been expelled and immediately Miles returns from school for the summer. The governess is hesitant to raise the issue and worries that there is some secret behind the expulsion. Yet Miles is compliant and charming toward the governess. Then the ghosts, a man and a woman, appear to the governess but not, it seems, to Miles, Flora, Mrs. Grose or a groundsman.

The governess discovers from Mrs. Grose that the previous governess, Miss Jessel and her lover, Peter Quint, suffered unexplainable deaths. Prior to their deaths they spent countless hours with Flora and Miles. The governess becomes convinced that the two orhans are secretly aware of the ghosts.

Flora becomes lost from the governess who, with Mrs. Grose, find her in the property's woods. Has she has been talking to Miss Jessel? Flora admits this and demands to have the governess sent away. Mrs. Grose takes Flora to her uncle. The governess and Miles are left on the estate. In the evening, the governess and Miles' converse about his expulsion. The ghost of Peter Quint appears outside the window. The governess grasps Miles in a protective embrace. Miles screams and struggles to see the ghost. The governess tells him that he is no longer under the control of the ghost, and finds that Miles has died in her arms.

The Turn of the Screw's ghosts are not demented, not returning from hell, and are not predators. Are the ghosts sinister or is the mind of the governess unhinged from preceptible reality? Is the rational mind able to grasp supernatural (above nature) or supranatural (within nature) spirit events? That is the crux of the story.

Many writers have examined James's narrative technique of framing the introduction as an reader-audience event with a first-person narrative written by one, who at the time of the reading, is deceased. The Turn of the Screw appears to be a gothic tale set on a rural estate with immense old buildings, distrubing bodies of water, and dense woods with spiritual glades. James' descriptions of the varieties of light and the governess' preceptions of it enhance the readers' preception of spirit forces.

Real ghosts? Insane governess? She accurately describes Quint the ghost but was there a picture of Quint among Jessel's things in the house? James, in his various notes on The Turn of the Screw gives no indication that the governess hallucinates the ghost. James returned to the story frequently to edit it, even after it was published on several occassions.

What CWL favorite films and novels offer the same degree and type of suspense as The Turn of the Screw? The Others [2001] starring Nicole Kidman and Peter Straub's novel [1981] Ghost Story.

New And Noteworthy---Prussian Trained Yankee War Horse

Yankee Warhorse: A Biography of Major General Peter J. Osterhaus, Mary Bobbitt Townsend, 288 pages, University of Missouri; 8 illustrations, 7 maps, bibliography, index, $39.95

A German-born Union officer in the American Civil War, Major General Peter Osterhaus served from the first clash in the western theater until the final surrender of the war. Osterhaus made a name for himself within the army as an energetic and resourceful commander who led his men from the front. He was the last surviving Union major general and military governor of Mississippi in the early days of Reconstruction. This first full-length study of the officer documents how, despite his meteoric military career, his accomplishments were underreported even in his own day and often misrepresented in the historical record. Mary Bobbitt Townsend corrects previous errors about his life and offers new insights into his contributions to major turning points in the war at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, as well as other battles.

Townsend draws on battle reports not found in the Official Records, on personal papers, and on other nonpublished material to examine Osterhaus' part in the major battles in the West as well as in minor engagements. She tells how he came into his own in the Vicksburg campaign and proved himself through skill with artillery, expertise in intelligence gathering, and taking the lead in hostile territory - blazing the trail down the west side of the river for the entire Union army and then covering Grant's back for a month during the siege. At Chattanooga, Osterhaus helped Joe Hooker strategize the rout at Lookout Mountain; at Atlanta, he led the Fifteenth Corps, the largest of the four corps making Sherman's March to the Sea.

Townsend also documents his contributions in the battles of Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge, Arkansas Post, Port Gibson, Ringgold Gap, and Resaca and shows that he played a crucial role in Canby's Mobile Bay operations at the end of the war. In addition to reporting Osterhaus' wartime experiences, Townsend describes his experiences as a leader in the 1848-1849 Rebellion in his native Germany, his frustration during his term as Mississippi's governor, and his stint as U.S. consul to France during the Franco-Prussian War. Osterhaus stood out from other volunteer officers in his understanding of tactics and logistics, even though his careful field preparation led to criticism by historians that he was unduly cautious in battle. Yankee Warhorse sets the record straight on this important Civil War general as it opens a new window on the war in the West.

In addition to reporting Osterhaus’s wartime experiences, Townsend describes his experiences as a leader in the 1848–1849 Rebellion in his native Germany, his frustration during his term as Mississippi’s governor, and his stint as U.S. consul to France during the Franco-Prussian War. Osterhaus stood out from other volunteer officers in his understanding of tactics and logistics, even though his careful field preparation led to criticism by historians that he was unduly cautious in battle. Yankee Warhorse sets the record straight on this important Civil War general as it opens a new window on the war in the West.

Mary Bobbitt Townsend, great-great-granddaughter of Peter Joseph Osterhaus, is an independent scholar living in Southern California

Text and Image Source: University of Missouri Press