Monday, January 31, 2011

News---FBI Recovers Revolver Stolen 36 Years Ago From MOC in Richmond

Civil War Artifact Being Returned to Museum After 36 Years, Stacie J. Bohanan, FBI Media Representative, Knoxville, Tennessee, January 18, 2011

During December 2010, the Knoxville Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) received a report that a Civil War revolver stolen in 1975 from the Museum of the Confederacy (MOTC) in Richmond, Virginia, may have been recovered in Seymour, Tennessee. The weapon, a .36 caliber Spiller and Burr revolver, is a prized archetype with an estimated value of $50,000.

Ms. Krissy Evans initially discovered the revolver among items belonging to her recently deceased father and contacted an artifacts appraiser to determine the value of the weapon. Following a substantial research effort to establish the authenticity and historical value of the artifact, it was also determined the weapon had been stolen from the MOTC 36 years earlier. Upon learning that the weapon had been stolen, Ms. Evans immediately offered to return the artifact to the museum to ensure the appropriate historical preservation of the gun. Knoxville FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard L. Lambert noted, “Ms. Evans is to be commended for her ethical integrity. By returning this artifact to the museum, Ms. Evans has ensured that it will be preserved and treasured for generations to come.”

Text and Image Source: FBI Knoxville Tennessee

Sesquicentennial News---- 150 Canon Volleys Within One Hour in Gettysburg, April 30

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Adams County, and Gettysburg National Military Park are hosting The Official 150th Gettysburg Kick-Off Event entitled The Invasion of Pennsylvania - Gettysburg. Sueinf Friday, April 29, 2011 and Saturday, April 30, 2011 the event will include 150 volleys from artillery. The launch event will feature the advancement of Union and Confederate troops into this historic town, followed by living history encampments at various locations throughout Gettysburg, reenactment skirmishes and a formal evening program. The highlight of this event will be the firing of 150 cannon shots to salute the brave men and women who fought in the American Civil War. Here's the posted schedule

Friday, April 29
7:00 - 9:00 PM Living History Encampments throughout Gettysburg
8:00 PM Luminary on Lincoln Square
8:00 PM Songs and Stories of a Civil War Hospital

Saturday, April 30
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Living History Encampments throughout Gettysburg

10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Historic Church Walking Tours

11:00 AM Skirmish - "Holding the Line"

12:00 Noon The African American Experience

2:00 PM Skirmish - "A Hasty Retreat"

4:00 PM Skirmish - "Defending Cemetery Heights"

5:30 PM Period Worship Service

6:30 PM Musical Performance at the Pennsylvania Monument

7:00 PM Kick-Off Ceremony to include a one-hour 150 volley Cannonade

8:00 PM Songs and Stories of a Civil War Hospital

CWL: On this schedule it does not note the location of the events. Possibly the 150 volleys may take place on the reenacment sites on Pumping Station Road or the Yingling Farm.

Text Source: Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau

Image Source:

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sesquicentennial News---USPS Commemorates Civil War

Fort Sumter and Bull Run Stamps Will Lead Off Civil War 150th Anniversary Commemorative Series, Bob Janiskee, National Parks Traveler, 01/04/2011.

This year the U.S. Postal Service will issue stamps commemorating the 150th anniversary of two important Civil War events, the beginning of the war and the first great land battle. National parks preserve the sites of both of these events. Fort Sumter and Bull Run Stamps Will Lead Off Civil War 150th Anniversary Commemorative Series. The battle scenes depicted on this year's Civil War 150th anniversary commemorative stamps are reproductions of well known artworks.

The Confederacy was launched soon after South Carolina seceded from the Union in December 1860, and the Civil War got underway four month later. At 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861, Confederate batteries opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, forcing its surrender the next day. No longer a war of words centered on the slavery issue, the Civil War was now a shooting war. Both sides raised armies of eager volunteers who believed that the war would soon be over, and with few casualties to count.

These beliefs were put to a severe test on July 21, 1861, when the first major land battle was fought at Manassas, Virginia. The First Battle of Bull Run -- called the First Battle of Manassas or just "First Manassas" in the South -- yielded a Confederate victory, thousands of casualties, and the sobering realization that both the North and the South might have to raise huge armies, shift their economies to a war footing, and fight a long and costly war.

Over the next four years, the U.S. Postal Service will issue a series of stamps commemorating the Civil War's 150th anniversary. A souvenir sheet of two stamps will be issued each year, with the final issue in 2015. The first issue is scheduled for release on April 12, 2011, the 150th anniversary of the war's beginning. It will be a sheet of two stamps, one depicting the firing on Fort Sumter and the other depicting the Battle of Bull Run. Additional information about the Civil War stamps and other commemorative stamps to be issued this year can be found at this US Postal Service website.

Phil Jordan, the Postal Service's veteran art director (since 1991), has chosen scenes for the initial Civil War commemorative stamp issue that are well known to Civil War history buffs and art collectors. The Fort Sumter stamp is a reproduction of a Currier & Ives lithograph entitled “Bombardment of Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor” (ca. 1861). The First Bull Run stamp is a reproduction of “The Capture of Rickett’s Battery," a 1964 painting by Sidney E. King that shows fierce fighting on the Henry Hill site where a key Union battery had been placed.

The stamp pane features comments on the war by President Abraham Lincoln, black abolitionist/human rights leader Frederick Douglass, and Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. (It was at the First Battle of Bull Run that the latter earned his famous nickname.) Also included on the stamp pane are some of the lyrics to “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier,” a folk song of sacrifice and lament that was popular during the Civil War. The stamp pane’s background image is a ca. 1861 photograph of a Union regiment near Falls Church, Virginia.

Both sites depicted on this initial stamp issue are preserved within the National Park System. Fort Sumter National Monument in Charleston, South Carolina, was established in 1948 and now attracts over three-quarters of a million visitors a year. From the park's Fort Moultrie unit on Sullivans Island, the battered remains of the brick masonry fort (which was repeatedly bombarded by Union gunships during the war) can be viewed from the vantage point of Confederate gunners who opened fired on Fort Sumter during that fateful April day in 1861.

Virginia's Manassas National Battlefield Park, which is located about 20 miles southwest of Washington, DC, preserves and interprets the sites of two major battles, including First Bull Run (First Manassas). At the park's Henry Hill Visitor Center you can see Sidney King's original oil-on-plywood painting of “The Capture of Rickett’s Battery" and then go walk the very ground depicted in the painting (as well as the staunchly-defended Confederate position on Henry Hill where General Thomas J. Jackson earned his nickname "Stonewall").

As the name implies, the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) was not the only major battle fought for control of Manassas, a key railroad junction. The Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas), an even larger battle with considerably more casualties, took place August 28–30, 1862, and resulted in another Confederate victory.

Text Source: National Parks Traveler
Images' Sources: Top---National Park Traveler; Middle and Bottom---National Park Service, Fort Sumter and Manassas web pages

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Media Invitation----Hear Yourself On The Radio Talking About The American Civil War

Catherine V. Moore, one of the producers of the public radio program BackStory, which is based at Charlottesville's Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and hosted by Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh. She and the hosts are currently in the process of producing a three-part series on the Civil War, and reaching out to you because we could use a little help for the third show in that series, which will be composed entirely of listeners calling in and asking Civil War-related questions of our History Guys.

The other two shows are Secession Crisis! and Why Fight? . Normally the producers gather up callers from those who comment on our website and Facebook page, but we'd like to open this up to those who may not be aware of BackStory show but who have a curiosity about the Civil War.

The producers feel that readers of CivilWarLibrarian might be interested in participating. BackStory is having a call-in session this Sunday. BackStory ( is a nationally-aired public radio show that brings historical perspective to the events happening around us today. On each show, the U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh tear a topic from the headlines and plumb its historical depths.

Being a caller is really simple and takes about 15 minutes; it's pre-taped, low-pressure, and a lot of fun! If you are interested in participating as a caller and posing a Civil War question to the History Guys, either email producer Catherine Moore or leave a comment on the Civil War Call-In Show's webpage: ( They look forward to hearing from readers of CivilWarLibrarian.
Any help you might be willing to lend the producers will be appreciated! Here is the contact information for Catherine V. Moore, assistant producer of BackStory With the American History Guys which is sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Radio. Phone: 304-574-6120. Email:

Text and Images Source: BackStory With the American History Guys

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

News---Walmart Retreats From The Wilderness Battlefield

Walmart Abandons Plans to Build Supercenter on Wilderness Battlefield, Civil War Trust, January 26,2011.

Preservation community pleased with decision by retail giant to drop plans to build a supercenter within historic boundaries of Wilderness battlefield(Orange, Va.) – In an unexpected development, Walmart announced this morning that it has abandoned plans to pursue a special use permit previously awarded to the retail giant for construction of a supercenter on the Wilderness Battlefield. The decision came as the trial in a legal challenge seeking to overturn the special use permit was scheduled to begin in Orange County circuit court.

“We are pleased with Walmart’s decision to abandon plans to build a supercenter on the Wilderness battlefield,” remarked James Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust. “We have long believed that Walmart would ultimately recognize that it is in the best interests of all concerned to move their intended store away from the battlefield. We applaud Walmart officials for putting the interests of historic preservation first. Sam Walton would be proud of this decision.”

The Civil War Trust is part of the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, an alliance of local residents and national groups seeking to protect the Wilderness battlefield. Lighthizer noted that the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition has sought from the very beginning to work with county officials and Walmart to find an alternative location for the proposed superstore away from the battlefield.

“We stand ready to work with Walmart to put this controversy behind us and protect the battlefield from further encroachment,” Lighthizer stated. “We firmly believe that preservation and progress need not be mutually exclusive, and welcome Walmart as a thoughtful partner in efforts to protect the Wilderness Battlefield.”

In August 2009, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a controversial special use permit to allow construction of the Walmart Supercenter and associated commercial development on the Wilderness Battlefield. A wide range of prominent individuals and organizations publicly opposed the store’s location, including more than 250 American historians led by Pulitzer Prize-winners James McPherson and David McCullough. One month after the decision, a group of concerned citizens and the local Friends of Wilderness Battlefield filed a legal challenge to overturn the decision.

The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–6, 1864, was one of the most significant engagements of the American Civil War. Of the 185,000 soldiers who entered combat amid the tangled mass of second-growth trees and scrub in Virginia’s Orange and Spotsylvania counties, some 30,000 became casualties. The Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, composed of Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, Piedmont Environmental Council, Preservation Virginia, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Parks Conservation Association, and Civil War Trust, seeks to protect this irreplaceable local and national treasure.

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. To date, the Trust has preserved nearly 30,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. Learn more at

Text Source: Civil War Trust
Image Source:

CWL: CWL is in shock. In this fight, the odds were against preservation. How did the Civil War Trust pull this one off?

News---CSPAN Launches American History Television, Includes Civil War Programs

C-SPAN Launches American History TV, C-Span, January 6, 2011, .

C-SPAN, cable’s public affairs network, is expands its programming offerings with a new history-based service airing weekends on C-SPAN3. Launched the weekend of January 8-9, 2011, American History TV (AHTV), a “network in a network,” features programming geared toward history lovers with 48 hours every weekend of people and events that document the American story.

Now American history enthusiasts will be able their own network programming all weekend and every weekend. C-SPAN3 is C-SPAN’s first “network in a network” launch since BookTV in 1998. American History TV covers American history C-SPAN style: Event coverage, discussions with authors, historians and teachers, and eyewitness accounts.

C-SPAN began C-SPAN3 operations ten years ago this month (January 22, 2001) as a digital service. C-SPAN3 is currently available in 41 million digital cable TV households and is streamed live online at

American History TV offers history enthusiasts the following content:

1. Key political archives of historic speeches of former presidents & other leaders;
2. Classes and lectures with some of the country’s top history professors;
3. Exclusive eyewitness accounts of events that have shaped our nation;
4. Intimate tours of museums and private collections;
5. Speeches and seminars with leading historians;
6. Coverage of recent books written by the nation’s best-known and expert authors.

“American History TV will provide American history lovers with original programming, done C-SPAN style,” says C-SPAN co-president Susan Swain. “Look for C-SPAN’s trademark original source and first-person accounts of the American story. We’re hoping American History TV does for history enthusiasts what Book TV has done for non-fiction book lovers.” The 48 hours of history programs every weekend will include six hours of original programming, produced by AHTV staff for AHTV.

Key programs each weekend on AHTV will include:

AMERICAN ARTIFACTS (Sundays 8 am, 7pm, and 10 pm ET)

Curators, collectors and historians take you behind- the- scenes at museum exhibits and historic sites to show you significant pieces from their collections.

LECTURES IN HISTORY (Saturdays 8 pm, midnight, and Sundays 1 pm ET)

Get a front-row seat in college classrooms across the country to hear top professors on topics ranging from the American Revolution to 9/11.

THE CIVIL WAR (Saturdays 6 pm, 10 pm, and Sundays 11 am ET)

For the next four years, the nation marks the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. Travel with us to important battlefields, and hear compelling discussions and debates about key events and figures who shaped that era.

THE PRESIDENCY (Sundays 8:30AM, 7:30PM, and 10:30PM ET)

American Presidents, their policies, and legacies are the special focus of this time block, featuring historic speeches and the personal insights of former administration officials and presidential experts.

ORAL HISTORIES (Saturdays 8 am; Sundays 3 pm; Mondays 4 am ET)

Hear first- person accounts from people who have shaped modern American history, from World War II to recent Presidents.

HISTORY BOOKSHELF (Saturdays noon; Sundays 5 am; and Mondays 1 am ET)

Tune in as the country’s best-known American history writers of the past decade talk about their books.

See video previews of these programs here

AHTV is being co-executive produced by C-SPAN veteran Susan Bundock and Luke Nichter, a Ph.D. in History from Bowling Green State University, who says, “American History TV will serve viewers of all ages and interests. We will take you to historical sites and events, show you historical discussions and debates, and take you to college history classrooms. There’s nothing else quite like it, and we do it each weekend on C-SPAN 3.”

AHTV will have a robust online presence, that includes:

A video rich website:
Twitter feed:!/cspanhistory
Facebook tab:
YouTube playlist:

About C-SPAN C-SPAN was created by America's cable companies in 1979 as a public service and programs three public affairs television networks in both SD and HD; C-SPAN Radio, heard in Washington DC and nationwide via XM Satellite Radio; and a video-rich website which hosts the C-SPAN Video Library. Visit

Text Source: C-Span Publicity Release

Top Image Source: Dickinson College
Bottom Image Source: Media

CWL: Will CWL actucally begin again to sit in front of a television for regular programming that is not a Steelers, Penguins, Pirates game? Yes.

Comment: [Beth Goff] "American History TV is great. They've done a lot of really interesting Civil War programming."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

News---Historian Changes Date on National Archives' Lincoln Document

Historian accused of altering Lincoln document at National Archives, Lisa Rein and Jennifer Buske, Washington Post Tuesday, January 25, 2011.It was the largest find in Civil War history in a generation: Hours before he was gunned down at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln pardoned a Union soldier court-martialed for desertion and saved him from execution.

The pardon, written in Lincoln's hand, was discovered 13 years ago by Thomas P. and Beverly Lowry, amateur historians from Prince William County who were poring over rarely touched files at the National Archives. Part of a treasure trove of courts-martial with Lincoln's signature and comments, it was a testament to the president's compassionate nature.

Thomas Lowry, 78, was catapulted to fame as a chronicler of Civil War military justice. The pardon, exhibited at the Archives' rotunda in downtown Washington, became a new thread in the narrative of one of history's most famous assassinations. Except that it wasn't.

The Archives on Monday accused Lowry of altering the pardon in plain view in the agency's main research room to amplify its historical significance. Lincoln had indeed issued a pardon to Pvt. Patrick Murphy, but the 16th president did it exactly one year to the day before he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Archives officials, after a year-long investigation, say Lowry signed a written confession Jan. 12 that he brought a fountain pen into the research room sometime in 1998 and wrote a 5 over the 4 in 1864, using a fade-proof ink.

Lowry, a retired psychiatrist who discovered the pardon in an unsorted file box, has denied any wrongdoing. He said he was pressured by federal agents to confess. "I consider these records sacred," he said in an interview Monday at his Woodbridge home. "It is entirely out of character for me. I'm a man of honor."

His wife, Beverly, said the change was made by a former Archives staffer, a charge the agency denies. There were no security cameras at the time to record what happened in the room. Lowry cannot be charged with a crime because the statute of limitations on tampering with government property is five years. As the accusations flew over who altered the documents, Archives officials acknowledged that, in balancing security with providing open access to government records, they were too trusting. "It's horrible," the agency's head, David S. Ferriero, said in an interview. Ferriero, whose title is archivist of the United States, said the Lowrys became well known to the Archives staff and other researchers as, over a period of years, the couple indexed tens of thousands of courts-martial of Union soldiers. "This is a situation of having instilled a lot of trust in a regular user and not being suspicious," Ferriero said. Lowry said that when he found the pardon, the "5" appeared to be a little darker than the other numbers in "1865." But he chalked it up to the fountain pen Lincoln used. "If we thought there was something funny about it, we would have called somebody," he said.

The inspector general for the Archives, Paul Brachfeld, said Lowry "willingly provided specific details" of how he altered the pardon, which reads: "This man is pardoned and hereby ordered to be discharged from the service." Signed "A. Lincoln," it is one of 570 documents with Lincoln's signature the couple discovered in the Archives. "He became known as somebody who found an amazing document," Brachfeld said. "You take a figure like Lincoln, you say he signed this on the day he died and amplify it, and it became one of our more important documents."

The case was brought to Brachfeld's attention by Trevor Plante, an Archives official specializing in Civil War history who gained acclaim in 2007 when he discovered a long-lost telegram Lincoln wrote in 1863 to his general-in-chief. Plante had frequently shown the Lincoln's pardon of the soldier to visitors on VIP tours, asking the Archives staff to bring it out from the stacks. The Archives does not inventory its holdings because they are so vast, so the Lowrys' discovery "had huge implications," Plante said Monday. "The story of this pardon has been told over and over for the past 13 years. It's everywhere in Civil War history."

With each passing viewing, he grew more suspicious that something wasn't right. The ink on the "5" in 1865 always looked too dark, and it appeared to him that another number was written under it. "It was one of those gut feelings you get," Plante said. "Something wasn't right."

His suspicions were confirmed when he consulted a respected collection of Lincoln's writings edited by Roy P. Basler in the 1950s. Basler reprinted the pardon of Murphy with the date April 14, 1864. "In the 1950s, that was the date, so at some point it changed," Plante said.

The Lowrys moved to the Washington area from California in the late 1990s to research military records of the Civil War, and through their work at the Archives they have indexed thousands of courts-martial. Lowry is the author of a dozen histories of the Civil War. His latest, with co-author Terry Reimer, is Bad Doctors: Military Justice Proceedings Against 622 Civil War Surgeons, and is scheduled for release next week.

Lowry cited the altered record in his book, Don't Shoot That Boy! Abraham Lincoln and Military Justice, published in 1999. Investigators said they began corresponding with Lowry about the pardon about a year ago and asked for his help in identifying who might have tampered with it. During the course of the e-mail correspondence, Lowry became more reticent, and they became more suspicious. Since his discovery, few other researchers had signed out the pardon, they said. They eventually decided to make an unannounced visit to Lowry's home.

Lowry said he was in his bathrobe shaving when he heard a knock on his door on the morning of Jan. 12. It was two agents with the Archives. Lowry recalled sitting at his dining room table with the men and repeatedly telling them that he never changed the pardon. Eventually, however, investigators said Lowry confessed to making the alteration and offered details.

On Monday, Brachfeld, the inspector general, said of Lowry, "We have a written confession in his own hand." Lowry said he signed the confession because the Archives agents said "it would never be publicized" and that he would not face any consequences. "They promised that if I agreed to make a confession, they would just leave me alone."

Lowry said he has not hired an attorney and doesn't think it would make a difference. The pardon will be removed this week from an evidence room at the inspector general's office and brought to the Archives' preservation labs, where experts will try to restore the original date. Plante says he's not optimistic, though, since "Lowry purposely used ink that's going to last a very long time."

"It makes me very angry," Plante said. "We have a level of trust with researchers, and that trust was broken." Archives officials said Lowry will be banned from all Archives facilities for life.

Caption Text:This handout image provided by the National Archives shows a close up of altered date and Abraham Lincoln -- A. Lincoln -- signature from a presidential pardon for Patrick Murphy, a Civil War soldier in the Union Army. The National Archives says a longtime Abraham Lincoln researcher has confessed to tampering with a presidential pardon so he could claim credit for finding a document of historical significance. (AP Photo/National Archives) (AP)

Text and Image Source: Washington Post, January 25, 2011.

CWL: Noted historian Oscar Handlin described his personal philosophy. At the foundation he believed "The truth will out." Amen. [translation: So let it be.] Lowry's career was as a psychiatrist then as an antiquarian. When a psychiatrist has poor impulse contol it can never be pretty.

I believe that when we look back on this in 5 to 10 years, it will fall under the category of ‘Lincoln Lore’ which has been found to be false. This is not at level of Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture by Michael A. Bellesiles, which was an agenda driven book by an historian who created citations from thin air.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday News----Hawk Visits the Library of Congress

What appears to be a Cooper's Hawk has taken shelter inside the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.

First spotted Wednesday night, the bird of prey may have flown in through a broken window at the top of the Main Reading Room's 160-foot high dome, and it hasn't yet found its way out.

Reference librarians have furiously been looking through the library's collection of books on birds, including "Sibley’s Guide to North American birds," to identify the bird and find a way to lure it down.

They've also been consulting their community of fans on the web. When asked how the library knows the bird is a Cooper's Hawk, a Library of Congress representative says, "We’ve been getting a lot of comments on our Facebook page and blog from people who seem to know what they are talking about."

Photo by Abby Brack-Courtesy of Library of Congress)

Text Source: Washington Post weblog

CWL: It is a gorgeous bird, isn't it? Most libraries worry about mildew, mold spores and mice. LOC librarians worry about a hawk. I wonder what the Federal Regulations are about cleaning up hawk poop? The Department of Environmental Protection is close by, isn't it?

Off Topic---The 1910 Forest Fires: 3000 Infernos, TR, Gifford Pinchot and 'The Fire Just Is'

The Big Burn: The Story Of The Largest Wildfire In The History Of The United States, Timothy Egan, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 325 pp., map,notes, index, illustrations, hardcover $27.00, paper cover $15.95

Egan, winner of a National Book Award for The Worst Hard Time, a social history of the Depression-era Dust Bowl in Oklahoma, masters personal, public and governmental sources to offer a striking and personality driven narrative of a disaster. In the Northwest during August 1910, 3,000 fires converged into one and ith at times nearly hurricane-force winds then for two days became fire that humbled even politicians. Nearly over three million acres of forest were utterly destroyed in the Bitterroot Mountains as 10,000 firefighters fought it. In their entirety, five towns were reduced to ashes and 85 of the firefighters died.

Gifford Pinchot, founder of the National Forest Service, and Theodore Roosevelt, while president of the U.S., had put 180 million acres of Northwest Forest land into a national forest created the National Forest Service to manage it. The first forest rangers were nicknamed TR's Green Rangers. The stories of Ed Pulaski, Bill Greely, and Bill Weigle with their families and the citizens of the towns are told with a narrative drive that is engaging and often times compelling.

Fighting the fire, fighting those who resisted the national forests movement and others who viewed the Northwest forests as moneymaking opportunities, Pinchot, Roosevelt and the Forest Rangers are nearly destroyed by their inability to stop the blaze. Former president Roosevelt struggles with current president Taft. Egan dwells on the inhabitants and the geography, details the birth and rampage of the firestorm. Hearts and bodies are broken as the inferno consumes men, women, wildlife and the forest as policy debates are being conducting in the nation's capitol. Fire fighting at all costs? Is fire nature's way of forest management? Nature for nature's sake or nature for economic capital?

Egan's The Big Burn has several compelling story lines: heroism against the odds, survival during a disaster, personal and economic catastrophe, nature against itself, and nature against man. With the centennial remembrance of the disaster, Egan's narrative brings an immediacy that this reader thoroughly enjoyed.

Sesquicentennial Opinion---Are the Sons of the Confederate Veterans and the NAACP Talking Past Each Other?

Slavery Was The Central, But Not The Only, Cause Of Civil War, Robert E. May, Charleston Post and Courier, January 18, 2011.

One hundred and fifty years ago, South Carolina seceded from the Union and put the nation on the path to its bloody civil war. The NAACP and media commentators argue that plans by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other groups to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the origins of the Confederacy ignore slavery's role in the Civil War. Confederate celebrators rebut that the Rebs fought for noble causes like states rights and defending home and family against Northern invaders, and that the North hardly went to war to end slavery. Lincoln waited until mid-war to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Why can't neo-Confederates and their critics find common ground? The problem is that both sides simplify the past. Let me explain.

Lincoln hated slavery, but he and his Republican party insisted they had no intentions of using federal power to dismantle slavery in southern states. Republicans knew the Constitution had clauses protecting slaveholders' interests, although it avoided using the actual term "slavery." Lincoln, a lawyer, did not believe his party had the right to violate the Constitution, and knew the clauses had been included so Southern states would ratify the document in the first place. Neither Lincoln nor his party endorsed the abolitionist John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry to free the slaves.

On the other hand, the Constitution did give Congress governance over U.S. territories. The most divisive disputes between the North and the South before the Civil War had to do with slavery in the territories.

The Civil War came because Lincoln and Republicans opposed slavery expansion, though Southerners had other grievances like Northern non-compliance with the Fugitive Slave Act. Initially, Republicans worried about slavery spreading westward ("Bleeding Kansas"). By Lincoln's inauguration, they had won the West for freedom. No western territories became slave states after 1845, but several including Kansas became free states. Slavery could, however, still go southward towards the tropics.

In fact, it was already heading that way. Not only did Lincoln's predecessors as president try to purchase the slaveholding island of Cuba for the U.S., but American adventurers called "filibusters" had been trying to conquer it. Just a few years earlier, Mississippi's former governor and Mexican War hero John A. Quitman, who owned several plantations himself, plotted an expedition to make a slave state of Cuba. William Walker, a Tennessee native, conquered Nicaragua and then became president and legalized slavery there. When Central American armies expelled him, he dedicated himself to re-conquering Nicaragua, announcing publicly he was doing it for the South.

Lincoln understood the threat, telling Republicans to block a last-ditch deal to preserve the Union by guaranteeing slavery in territory the U.S. "hereafter" acquired in Latin America. He warned them to prevent "compromise of any sort on 'slavery extension' "because if it passed "filibustering and extending slavery recommences." He undoubtedly knew from newspaper headlines that just weeks earlier a Honduran firing squad had executed Walker during yet another attempt to conquer Central America.

To emphasize slavery expansion rather than slavery in the states is not to excuse neo-Confederates from dealing with slavery. One need only read what Southern leaders said in 1860, their secession ordinances, or the Confederate Constitution, to see how absurd it is to divorce slavery from the Civil War. The Confederate Constitution mandated that in all territory "the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected." Late in the war, when desperate proposals were floated for arming and freeing slaves to stave off military defeat, Southern politicians protested it would negate the whole reason the war was fought.

As Robert Hunter, the Confederate Senate's president pro tempore exclaimed, "What did we go to war for, if not to protect our property?" The ultimate purpose of slavery's expansion was, of course, to perpetuate and strengthen the "peculiar institution" in the South itself, by giving the South more political power and more land for plantations. Many Southerners believed that if slavery didn't expand, it would die. So did Lincoln and the Republicans.

Slavery had more, not less, to do with secession than most people think, but not in the simplistic way Civil War causation is usually interpreted. For the Sesquicentennial to get it right, both neo-Confederates and their critics need to explain to the American people that the war was over slavery as refracted through the issue of territorial expansion, southward as well as westward. Until they get it right, they will continue talking past each other.

Robert E. May, Professor of History at Purdue University, is the author of The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 1854-1861 and Manifest Destiny's Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America.

Text Source: Post and Courier

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sesquicentennial News---Slave Auction Reenacted in Missouri

Slave Sale Reenactment Held As Part Of Civil War Anniversary, Fox2 St. Louis, Missouri, January 16, 2011.

It was a Civil War era reenactment like St. Louis had never seen: a slave sale on the steps of the Old Courthouse. It was part of a Lindenwood University history professor's mission to remember the overlooked figures in St. Louis history. The ugly chapter of that history came alive Saturday. Hundreds showed up, snapping photos, rolling video of an event that seemed very real.

About 50 reenactors wore the dress of the day: slaves, slave owners, sheriff's deputies, and courthouse clerks. There were no news cameras, home video when such a slave sale was really happening in St. Louis. Maybe it wouldn't have drawn cameras anyway. Slave sales and the now-uncomfortable trappings were a part of life then; with auctions held at the Old Courthouse when property owners would die, for instance; their property, slaves included, sold at a sheriff's sale; old paintings inside the Old Courthouse Museum didn't seem to tell the whole story.

"These were human beings who wanted the same things we want now," said Angela da Silva, a reenactor and Lindenwood history professor. "Now we look at them as one lump of black mass. There's no individualization. These were maybe not even people. But they were. They had names."

They bore the pain. In reenactor Chris Sutton's home video, you don't just see it, you feel it. The idea is to keep what happened from becoming just flat old photographs and documents in history books and instead - make it true to life: three-dimensional, real people -- from the slaves who were sold to the slave owners who purchased them. "I paid close to $800 for a skilled cook. While I was transacting business the person was hauled away and transported in a wagon, to the DeMenil mansion," said reenactor, Phil McGourty of DeMenil Reenactors. "Some [people] were actually appalled."

Professor da Silva said it was all part of honoring those history had yet to give their due. "We pulled those [slave] names from actual sale bills. We resurrected them from files in this building," da Silva said. "They had children. They had desires. They wanted one thing: freedom." Dred Scott was one such name. He sued for his freedom at the Old Courthhouse only to have the U.S. Supreme Court rule in 1857 that Scott and other slaves "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect ... [they] might justly ... be reduced to slavery".

"That was this case had such a pivotal part in history leading to the Civil War," Jeffrey Blair instructed his daughters at the Dred Scott exhibit in the Old Courthouse, not missing this teaching point, with history coming alive. "My goal has been accomplished," da Silva said. "People do understand the horrors of what it was for families to be separated, never to be seen again and on these very steps that St. Louisans pass every single day."

It really happened ... here. She said the last slave sale at the Old Courthouse was in 1861. Sunday's event marked the beginning of St. Louis's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War.

Text Source: Fox2 News with Video

CWL: Between the December 20th revelers in Charleston, SC and the Missouri Slave Auction in January, it is shaping up to be a lively Sesquicentennial.
Better unfurl my Wide Awake for Lincoln banner, fill my street torch with oil and head over to Washington D.C. for the Lincoln Inauguration in March.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

News--- Sesquicentennial Celebration of Lincoln's Inauguration

The Lincoln Group of D.C. announces the Sesquicentennial Inauguration Banquet of Abraham Lincoln, which will be held at the Willard Hotel on March 5, 2011 from 1-3 p.m. Co-sponsored by the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, the Lincoln Forum and the Lincolnarchives Digital Project, and the Willard InterContinental. The original Inaugural Banquet took place at the Willard Hotel the evening before the Inaugural ceremonies on March 4, 1861. Guests will have the opportunity to meet President Elect Lincoln, listen to 19th century period music during a lunch menu similar to that of President Elect Lincoln on the evening of March 3, 1861. Historian Ron White Jr. will be one of our keynote speakers.

The Lincoln Group of D.C., the sponsor, is a non-profit organized in 1935 and meets monthly. These Lincoln and Civil War scholars discuss the impact of Lincoln, as a lawyer, a father, a senator, and as 16th President of the U.S. The Lincoln Group of D.C. played a large part in the Centennial Lincoln Reenactment Inauguration Ceremony in 1961.

Friday, January 14, 2011

News---Daniel Day Lewis As Abraham Lincoln #247

"Whether because of his achievements as a statesman or his distinctive mug (part uncle, part ostrich), Abraham Lincoln endures in Americans’ collective imagination like no president before or after. According to IMDB’s user-created character listings, Lincoln has been portrayed on screens large and small more times than any other president: 246 times, not counting video games (George Washington, a mere 127 times). The recent announcement that Daniel Day-Lewis will play the sixteenth president under Spielberg’s direction is sure to inspire a whole new generation of actors to be fitted for stovepipe hats, just in case.

Lewis will find no shortage of inspiration for his work. He joins a distinctive league of performers who’ve each left a special imprint on the famous personage. In recent memory, Hank Azaria in “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” and Glenn Beck in “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.” (Calm down, take a few deep breaths: it was merely an actor of the same name.) In the world of “Futurama,” Lincoln has been voiced by three different actors and is sometimes a robot; on “The Simpsons” Dan Castellaneta himself tends to do the honors. Lance Henriksen starred in 1998’s “The Day Lincoln Was Shot,” and Frank Langella did the honors on the Kunhardt Lincoln biography audiobook gig.

An odder phenomenon still – and one that Day-Lewis really ought to consider before plunging headlong into character – is that playing Lincoln can be habit-forming. Chris Sarandon played him three times in fifteen years (plus a filmed appearance at Lincoln Center, which ought to count for something). Hal Holbrook has periodically taken time off from appearing as Mark Twain to star as the Great Emancipator in television docudramas. Fritz Klein, a professional Abe impersonator, appears onscreen exclusively as Lincoln. A subset of actors have even parlayed their multiple Lincolnian engagements into roles as other presidents, real and fictional: Jason Robards went on to play Grant and FDR, and “Law and Order’s” Sam Waterston has additional Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt credits – and is also a distant cousin of George Bush.

However, when it comes to pure, undiluted au de Abraham, none of these fellows can hope to touch the record set by Frank McGlynn Sr. After starring in John Drinkwater’s Broadway play “Abraham Lincoln” in 1919, McGlynn became a hot ticket in Hollywood, donning presidential drag for fourteen separate screen roles between 1924 and 1939. In this scene from “The Littlest Rebel” – which DDL will surely memorize in coming months – McGlynn shares an apple with (and gently interrogates) seven-year-old Shirley Temple.

Historical re-enactment has been Lewis’s bread and butter ever since “The Last of the Mohicans,” to the point where if you placed all his characters on a timeline and posited that they occupied the same fictional universe, their paths might plausibly intersect. But by punching his ticket at Ford’s Theater, Lewis has launched his period acting cred to new heights, participating in a tradition as old as the moving picture itself. He is welcomed by an elite corps of hardworking professionals whose careers have all led them toward the same questions, the same lessons, the same facial hair. Look kindly upon them Daniel, for they are your new brothers. They are the few … The proud … The (other) Lincolns."

Photos © PR Photos (Daniel Day-Lewis) and iStockphoto (Lincoln)

Text Source: Word and Film

CWL: The Internet Movie Database [] lists the film as in development, which implies that filming has not begun.

News----Preservation of Battlefields: Is Development Wining?

Battle Over the Battlefields, David A. Graham, Newsweek,January 13, 2011.

One hundred and fifty years after the start of the Civil War, we’re still fighting. This time it’s development vs. preservation—and development’s winning.

The Battle to Preserve History A casino could soon sit near the Gettysburg battlefield, the bloodiest encounter on American soil. A Walmart supercenter may shadow the Wilderness battlefield in Virginia where Gen. U. S. Grant kept his headquarters when he first fought Gen. Robert E. Lee. And Washington, D.C.’s suburban sprawl is slowly strangling the rural lands where the Civil War’s first crucial battles were fought. It’s an ironic situation: as battlefield sites across the country prepare for an expected onslaught of visitors connected to the Civil War’s 150th anniversary, many of them are shrinking away, acre by acre.

April 12 will mark the sesquicentennial of the start of the war, and governments and citizens across the country are gearing up to commemorate it. Visitation at Civil War–related national parks has already been on the rise, increasing 6.4 percent between 2008 and 2009 after mostly flat numbers in prior years. The National Park Service has reworked its approach to teaching the war’s history to make it more focused on causes and effects. In anticipation of the anniversary, PBS plans to re-air Ken Burns’s landmark documentary on the war, and The New York Times and The Washington Post have already launched special commemorative blogs and news coverage. All the while, however, development at sites around the country is destroying Civil War battlefields at a frantic rate—30 acres a day, according to the Civil War Trust (CWT), a leading heritage conservation group—fast enough to eat up what’s left of the Gettysburg battlefield park in just seven months. “[Battlefield visitors] don’t want to see the parking lot where their ancestors once fought that’s now a shopping center,” says Jim Campi, policy director of CWT. “They want to walk through the woods and see the cannon and the fence lines.”

This month, two high-profile conflicts over further development on the sites of major battles will come to a head. Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board officials are expected to decide whether to allow a casino several miles southwest of the Gettysburg battlefield.. The Mason-Dixon Resort and Casino has become a cause célèbre for Civil War buffs, who have held it up as the best example of crass commercialism making inroads into the “hallowed ground” where more than 51,000 soldiers died. And in Virginia, a judge will hear arguments in a suit that aims to prevent the planned Walmart that is—depending on whom you ask—either adjacent to or on the Wilderness battlefield. These two standoffs are part of a larger debate that raises many of the same questions as the mosque controversy in lower Manhattan: What constitutes hallowed ground, what can you build near or on it, and how soon is too soon?

“There has to be a reasonable balance,” says James McPherson, the foremost living Civil War historian and professor emeritus of history at Princeton. “If you preserved every square foot of battlefield in Virginia, there wouldn’t be much land left. There’s a tendency among preservationists to want to save everything, but realistically there have to be compromises.”

One place McPherson isn’t willing to compromise, however, is the Virginia Walmart, a 140,000-square-foot supercenter the company wants to build in Orange County on a parcel that’s been zoned for commercial use for 37 years. The bloody May 1864 encounter fought there was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. In Grant’s first battle since becoming chief of the U.S. Army, he pounded Lee and began driving him south toward Richmond. Historians say his army’s “nerve center,” including his own headquarters, was located on and near the Walmart site, which is also across the street from the entrance to the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.

In August 2009, the Orange County board of supervisors issued a special-use permit for Walmart to build its store, but with several conditions—including setting the building back from the road, traffic mitigation, and other safeguards to reduce the project’s impact on the park. That wasn’t enough for historians, who say shrubs may block the view from the highway, but won’t prevent a huge store from destroying the landscape. As a result, the pushback against Walmart’s plans has been especially fierce. The nonprofit preservation group Friends of Wilderness Battlefield has sued the board of supervisors, Walmart, the developer, and the property owner in an attempt to stop the store, and they’ve received help from McPherson, who appeared as an expert witness and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, among others. Plaintiffs say they don’t object to Walmart building in Orange County, but want it to move to a less historic spot.

The disagreement epitomizes disputes across the country: local officials, eager to spur economic growth, want to open lands for housing or commerce. In Orange County, for example, Walmart says it will create some 300 jobs, and says a survey it conducted in early 2009 found that 61 percent of residents backed its plan. But historians and preservationists fight back, saying development mars the historic value, cheapens the sacrifices made by thousands in the war, and impairs the ability of historians and visitors to understand the battles that took place. Preservationists also worry that development may actually cut into the economy: around many battlefield sites, tourism is a lucrative and sometimes dominant business—it accounted for $2.5 billion in spending in Civil War parks in 2008 alone, according to the National Parks Conservation Association—but they say modern intrusions could dilute that value and drive away tourists, resulting in a net contraction.

Conflicts like the one in Orange County are the fruits of seeds sown more than a century ago. In the years immediately following the war, most battlefields were maintained by veterans’ organizations such as the Grand Army of the Republic and the United Confederate Veterans, which played major roles in establishing parks like Gettysburg and the present-day Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (the National Park Service didn’t exist until 1916, and only took Civil War sites over from the War Department in the 1930s). As the sites became national parks, however, the scale of preservation was still minimal—the idea that urbanization would ever touch such remote farmlands seemed so absurd that park boundaries often included only historic stretches of road and significant structures. Though not formally preserved, fields remained in the same condition they had been in when Confederate and Union troops met. Now, however, urban sprawl has overtaken many of these areas, and threatens others. Once-remote parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, comprising most of the war’s eastern theater, are increasingly bedroom communities for Washington, D.C. “A lot of people have a misunderstanding that if it’s battlefield land, it’s within the boundaries of the park,” Smith laments. “We hold maybe one seventh of the battlefield. It would be totally unrealistic for us to hold all of it. We have to get the local community to understand that while we’re not going to preserve it, they do deserve to be treated with some sensitivity.”

The modern Civil War preservation movement dates back to the 1980s, when major D.C. area developer Til Hazel announced a plan to build a huge mall on part of the Manassas battlefield. The development was eventually blocked by an act of Congress that took over the land and provided Hazel compensation for it, later pegged by a court at $130 million. Since then, preservation groups have become more aggressive, led by the Civil War Trust, which has bought up 25,000 acres of land using private donations and matching grants. And there have been notable victories, especially the 2000 demolition of a much-reviled observation tower at Gettysburg, which had been erected in 1974 by a private developer on a patch of the battlefield not owned by the Park Service, over noisy objections. In another victory, CWT prevented the building of a racetrack at Brandy Station, Va., site of a major cavalry battle in 1863.

Economic strife has helped the cause, too. The housing developments that were a frequent threat to rural land have come to a halt since the collapse of the housing market—a reprieve, but by no means a guarantee, that new attempts won’t follow when the sector rebounds. Meanwhile, some landowners have turned to preservation as more lucrative than selling to developers. While there are still some 600 acres of land inside the Gettysburg park that aren’t preserved or protected, the park recently demolished two 20th-century houses acquired when the owners offered to sell them.

But in quite a few cases, it’s too late. Many of the battlefields in the western theater—including Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Georgia—are long gone. Others are hemmed in and reduced significantly; the Chantilly battlefield in northern Virginia “is a postage stamp now,” Campi says. And despite the stoppage of Hazel’s plan, the Manassas park is sliced by U.S. 29 (the Lee Highway, appropriately enough) and State Route 234.

Preservation has its skeptics, too. Proponents are often attacked as being antidevelopment, or simply of overreaching. The Gettysburg casino is, to detractors, the textbook case. Unlike the Wilderness Walmart, the proposed casino is actually five miles out of town, in neighboring Cumberland Township. If approved, the casino will include up to 500 slot machines—the smallest of three sizes allowed under state rules—and will be located at an existing resort, rather than in new, purpose-built structures. David LaTorre, a spokesman for the developer, points out that there are far more egregious infractions in the town itself. “People talk about how this is like building a McDonald’s next to Pickett’s Charge, but there is a McDonald’s there,” he says with only mild exaggeration.

The Civil War Trust remains staunchly opposed, and it’s got a host of celebrities on its side—including Ken Burns, author David McCullough, and actor Sam Waterston. The site is just too close to the battlefield, and the impact of development and traffic on the historical resources is too great, Campi says. The local community, too, is split into pro-casino and anti-casino sides—a small civil war, 150 years after the big one.

Text and Image Source: Newsweek, January 13, 2011.

CWL: Pick a battlefield. Pick an preservation association. Send your money.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

News---Gettysburg To Show Up In Your Pocket This Month

On Jan. 25, 2011, at 11 a.m., the general public is invited to attend a special ceremony to celebrate the launch of the new Gettysburg Quarter. This historic special event will take place in the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. There will be live music, special guest speakers and children under the age of 18 at theevent will receive a free Gettysburg Quarter to commemorate this special day. Aspecially designed cake, featuring the Gettysburg Quarter, will be served.

The Gettysburg Foundation is co-hosting the ceremony, which will include Gettysburg NMP Superintendent Bob Kirby, Gettysburg Foundation Vice Chair Barbara Finfrock, Acting Director of the United States Mint Andrew Brunhart, the United States Mint mascot Peter the Mint Eagle, students from Lincoln Elementary School in Gettysburg, Girl Scouts, a Civil War honor guard and other special guests.

“We are very happy to be honored with this beautiful new quarter,” said Bob Kirby, Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent. “The coin can be a daily reminder of the sacrifices made at Gettysburg and a great way to start a conversation about national parks, national heritage and the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.”

The Gettysburg Quarter is the sixth in a series minted under the America the Beautiful Quarter Program to pay homage to the nation’s national parks. The series, which launched in 2010, has already honored Hot Springs National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and Mount Hood National Forest. The program will feature 56 parks and natural areas in all. For more information, go to:

Full Text of the Press Release is at The Gettysburg Foundation

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

News---CWPT Re-Brands Itself For the Fourth Time

The Civil War Trust story began in 1987, when twenty or so stalwart souls met to discuss what could be done to protect the rapidly disappearing battlefields around them. Calling themselves the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (APCWS), they were spurred to action watching the expanding suburbs of Washington, D.C. destroy Northern Virginia battlefields. The only way to save these sites for posterity, they decided, was to buy the physical landscapes themselves.

As word of efforts to protect these battlefields spread among the Civil War community, both membership and accomplishment lists began to grow steadily. In 1991, another national organization, the Civil War Trust (CWT), appeared on the scene to further efforts to protect these vanishing historic landscapes. Eight years later, in an attempt to increase the efficiency with which preservation opportunities could be pursued, the two groups merged to become the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), with Jim Lighthizer, a former Maryland Secretary of Transportation and pioneer in the use of Transportation Enhancement highway funds for historic landscape preservation, at the helm.

In a letter to its 55,000 members, the nation’s leading nonprofit dedicated to protecting Civil War battlefields announced this evening that it has shortened its name to the Civil War Trust. To accompany the new identity, the group also debuted a dynamic new logo to better graphically represent its land conservation mission. The changes coincide with the nation’s Civil War sesquicentennial commemoration, which begins in earnest this year. Both transitions take effect immediately.

Text and Image Sources: Civil War Trust History and Civil War Interactive Wire.

Forthcoming: The Army of the Potomac's 2nd Corps vs. Army of Northern Virginia

Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac,Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr., Indiana University Press, 416 pages, 19 b&w illus., $34.95. Due May 1, 2011.

From the publisher: "Fair Oaks, the Seven Days, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, Petersburg -- the list of significant battles fought by the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, is a long and distinguished one. This absorbing history of the Second Corps follows the unit's creation and rise to prominence, the battles that earned it a reputation for hard fighting, and the legacy its veterans sought to maintain in the years after the Civil War. More than an account of battles, Defeating Lee gets to the heart of what motivated these men, why they fought so hard, and how they sustained a spirited defense of cause and country long after the guns had fallen silent."

Blurb: "Kreiser breathes new life into this most important of Union Army units.... A remarkably well-written and superbly researched account." -- David E. Long, author of The Jewel of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln's Re-election and the End of Slavery

Lawrence A. Kreiser, Jr., is Associate Professor of History at Stillman College, a historically black college located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He is co-author of Voices of Civil War America: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life.

CWL: CWL knows what he will be reading the first week in May.

News---200th Anniversary: Before the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, 1811 Slave Revolt

The Largest Slave Revolt in U.S. History Is Commemorated, Littice Bacon-Blood, The Times-Picayune, January 04, 2011,

More than a century before the first modern-day civil rights march, there was Charles Deslondes and his make-do army of more than 200 enslaved men battling with hoes, axes and cane knives for that most basic human right: freedom. The 200 year anniversary of the 1811 Slave Revolt in St. John and St. Charles Parishes that reverberated around the country because of the large number of enslaved people involved, the organized nature of it, and oddly enough -some say it finally demonstrated that all was not well among those held in bondage. Destrehan Plantation, along with Tulane University and African American Museum in Treme are hosting a yearlong look at the uprising that stared Jan. 8, 1811 through a series of events and exhibits. The commemoration starts with the exhibit opening at Destrehan on Jan. 8, 2011.

They spoke different languages, came from various parts of the United States, Africa and Haiti, and lived miles apart on plantations along the German Coast of Louisiana. Yet after years of planning at clandestine meetings under the constant threat of immediate death, they staged a revolt on Jan. 8, 1811, that historians say is the largest uprising of enslaved people in this country.

"Slavery was very harsh and cruel, but the slaves themselves were not mindless chattel with no aspirations and no basis for humanity,'' said John Hankins, executive director of the New Orleans African American Museum. "This revolt demonstrates that there were people willing to make the ultimate sacrifices to better not just themselves but other people."

To mark the 200 year anniversary of that revolt, Destrehan Plantation, in conjunction with Tulane University and the African American Museum, located in Treme, is organizing a yearlong look at the uprising that reverberated around the fledgling nation because of the large number of enslaved people involved, its military strategy and oddly enough, because it demonstrated that all was not well among those held in bondage.

"I don't think the United States as a whole understood that the enslaved black population were as unhappy as they were,'' said Hazel Taylor, the special project coordinator at Destrehan Plantation. "Slave owners had a tendency to say that (slaves) were happy. What this did was put awareness on the people who were being oppressed."

It occurred just a year before Louisiana gained statehood and 50 years before Louisiana and 10 other southern states voted to secede from the union in favor of forming the Confederacy. One of the central issues driving the secession, historians say, was an attempt to keep slavery legal because of its huge economic benefits for farmers. Still the battle remains largely unheard of outside historical circles, according to Taylor and others who hope the year's events will change that.

"These were real people and we have many of their names and we hope to encourage people to continue to study these brave individuals," Hankins said. "We want to provide the platform for a discourse about these moments in history and in this case a very important movement. What we want to do is put the Slave Revolt of 1811 into the national discourse to give it just due."

"It's an introduction to the subject, a museum exhibit that you can walk through and get a whole picture of what happened,'' Taylor said. While historians may differ on whether there was one specific catalyst for the uprising, the historical accounts of the events that unfolded on Jan. 8 are generally uniform. It started in LaPlace on the Woodland Plantation, led by Charles Deslondes, the son of an enslaved black woman and her white owner.

Deslondes, along with more than 200 others known mainly by first names, were headed to New Orleans in the hopes of joining with other revolution-minded free and enslaved black people. Historian Daniel Rasmussen spent two years researching the revolt as part of his senior thesis at Harvard University and has expanded his initial work into a recently published book, called "American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt." According to Rasmussen, the revolt had been planned for years and was "highly organized."

"There were 11 separate leaders of the revolt, representing various different ethnic groups. In my book, I profile a few of these leaders, mainly Charles Deslondes, Kook, and Quamana. Kook and Quamana were Asante warriors brought over from Africa a mere five years before," Rasmussen said. "Charles Deslondes was the half-white son of a planter who had risen to the rank of driver, but was, actually, the ultimate sleeper cell, plotting revolt. These leaders took advantage of clandestine meetings in the cane fields and taverns of the German Coast, the slave dances in New Orleans, and the vast network of slave communications that extended throughout the Caribbean."

Full Text is continued at Times-Picayune

Saturday, January 08, 2011

CWL On The Road---Battle of New Orleans Remembered on It's 196th Anniversary

The Battle of New Orleans fought on January 8, 1815, fourteen days after the armistice was signed, was the final engagement of the War of 1812. American commander Major General Andrew Jackson, defeated an invading British Army intent on seizing New Orleans and the vast territory the United States had acquired with the Louisiana Purchase. The Armistice Treaty of Ghent had been signed on December 24, 1814, peace would not the U.S until February. If the armistice had not be signed and if New Orleans had been occupied by the British, then the economic life of all U.S. territory drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries would have been at the mercy of the United Kingdom.

The Battle of New Orleans is interpreted by the National Park as well as it can with a park and budget that is limited in size. Taking the six mile trip by paddle wheeled steam ship from New Orleans to the park passes the largest American sugar refinery and other industrial sites. The sugar refinery is about a mile and a half north of the Chalmette field. In Note the southeast horizon in this picture. In the foreground are the American lines, in the center is the field of the British approach, behind the British approach field is a cemetery with 5,500 Civil War era graves. Next to the cemetery is an industrial site.

The 196th anniversary remembrance will include the dedication of the new visitor center. A visitor could take a brisk 90 second walk around the exterior of the building and reach the spot where the walk had begun. That is not to say that the visitor's center is a disappointment; for it size it does an adequate job and the bookstore has enough materials in it to satisfy most visitors to the site.

A tip to visitors: Drive to the park; it is less than twenty minutes from downtown New Orleans. CWL took the Cajun Queen riverboat which docked for only 35 minutes at the park. Nice trip on the river but way too little time to take in the battlefield and no time to take the walking tour of the British assault field or a visit to the cemetery.

CWL visited on the Friday before the Saturday and Sunday anniversary weekend. Reenactors were setting up and the park ranger expected about 150 men to represent the American 7th Regular army regiment, a battalion of free blacks, Louisiana militia, and the British army. Major General Jackson was present on the day that CWL visited and was asked if he indeed would have enough rope to hang every traitor in South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis. Jackson and CWL traded stories about the work of recognized Jackson authority Robert Remini, of the University of Illinois [Chicago Circle]. With the aid a National Endowment of the Humanities Award, CWL was a student of Remini's during a summer in 1984.

CWL On The Road----Happy 599th Birthday Joan!

While I was in New Orleans, I ran into a parade. No not like that. I literally ran in to it. After twilight and coming out of the Cafe Du'Monde on Jackson Square, I heard a bass drum, medieval bagpipes, flutes and canter, moving from left to right about a block away. A big wheeled cart being pulled by two brawny fellows, maids with candles and small torches were on foot. On horseback were maids in armor and brandishing swords. My wife and daughter-in-law know me well and only tried to keep up with me as I got to the front and joined in the march.

We processed about four blocks, turned right, marched two more and clustered around the statue of St. Joan of Arc that was presented to the citizens of New Orleans. Two Joan reenactors were in the parade. A gorgeous blonde in white satin and holding forth a sword and a gorgeous blonde in shimmering gold armor holding aloft a New Orleans Saints (NFL) flag.

The Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc parade in the French Quarter on Thursday marked the end of Advent, the beginning of Epiphany and Joan of Arc's birthday. The Maid of Orleans, famous for her tide turning leadership during the Battle of Orleans fought against the English during the Hundred Years' War, turned 599 on January 6th.

At the base of the monument, I struck up a conversation with one of the robed marchers. It was her first parade and she was brought by friends who had a spare costume. She introduced me to the canter/pipe/clarinet player revealed that this was only the third year for the parade and it was hosted by the local Joan of Arc Society that did not restrict its membership to just French folk. I stuck a bargain for the four compact discs of the parade's band, Wolgemut [trans. joyful mood]. If you enjoy Lorena McKennitt's music, the Scot's pipes and drums, or Led Zeppelin's Kashmir then wake up in New Orleans on January 6 next year, and join the parade!

Vist the Joan of Arc Parade Society and Wolgemut's websites or checkout Wolgemut's music on
Images' Source: CWL

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

News---LOC Offers 412 Images in "The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photographs from the Liljenquist Family Collection"

Liljenquist Family Civil War Photo Exhibition Opens April 12, 2011, Library of Congress, December 15, 2010 and Revised January 4, 2011.

Portrait photographs of the young men who fought in the Civil War, as well as their wives and children—poignant faces that gaze across time—are the subject of a major exhibition at the Library of Congress that will open on April 12, 2011. Nearly 400 ambrotype and tintype photographs showing both Union and Confederate soldiers will be on display.

"The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photographs from the Liljenquist Family Collection" will be free and open to the public from April 12 to August 13, 2011, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, in the second-floor South Gallery of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The exhibition commemorates the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, which started on April 12, 1861, and will serve as a memorial to those who gave their lives during the devastating conflict by displaying images of 360 Union soldiers—one for every 1,000 who died—and 52 Confederate soldiers—one for every 5,000.

The Civil War portraits depict ordinary enlisted men, their loved ones—wives, sisters and children—and some rare images of African American soldiers. Details in the photographs often show firearms, hats, canteens and musical instruments. A sampling of the photographs in the exhibition includes a girl in mourning, an African American Union soldier, and a Confederate soldier, with canteen and cup.

Also images can be seen through Flickr Commons, where viewers can assist in identifying individuals and photographers based on such clues as painted backdrops and regimental insignia. In spring 2010, the Library of Congress acquired the exceptional collection of nearly 700 Civil War photographs from the Liljenquist Family of McLean, Va. Tom Liljenquist and his sons—Jason, 19; Brandon, 17; and Christian, 13—generously donated the collection to the Library as a gift to the nation in order to ensure broad public access and long-term preservation.

The Liljenquists became interested in Civil War history after finding bullets and other signs of an encampment near their home in Virginia. As they began to investigate other artifacts from the war, they were especially attracted to the images captured in the photographic formats called ambrotypes (on glass) and tintypes (on metal). On the Library’s website, Brandon Liljenquist describes further his family’s reasons for collecting the photographs and donating them to the Library. Visit The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of HISTORY, the Liljenquist family, and Union Pacific Corp.

To view the entire Liljenquist Family Collection, visit the Prints and Photographs Division online at

To view the photos at Flickr Commons, visit
Text Source: Library of Congress