Friday, April 27, 2012

News---Fiction: Cain At Gettysburg Author Ralph Peters Presents And Q & A on CSpan 2's Book TV

Ralph Peters appeared at the 2012 Colby Military Writers' Symposium, held annually at Norwich University in Vermont, will talk about his historical novel, Cain at Gettysburg.
Ralph Peters, New York Post columnist and Fox News strategic analyst, served with the U.S. Army from 1976 to 1998.  He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.  Col. Peters' many books include Looking for TroubleNew Glory and Beyond Baghdad.

Sunday, April 29, 3:15am (ET)  [Approximately 1 hour. 15 minutes]
2012 Colby Military Writers' Symposium: Ralph Peters, Cain at Gettysburg

 Monday, April 30, 5:15am (ET)  [Approximately 1 hour. 15 minutes]
2012 Colby Military Writers' Symposium: Ralph Peters, Cain at Gettysburg 

Text Source:  CSpan 2 Book TV

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

News---$1,000 Hubbell Award Given To J. David Hacker For 720,000 Estimate of Civil War Dead Essay

J. David Hacker has won the John T. Hubbell Prize for the best article published in Civil War History during 2011. His study, “A Census Based Count of the Civil War Dead,” Civil War History (December 2011), was selected by the journal’s editorial advisory board. The prize earns the recipient a $1,000 award. Hacker’s article challenges the long-accepted, although not well-supported, estimate of 620,000 soldier deaths. Using recently released microdata samples from nineteenth-century censuses to reassess this number, he compares male survival rates between 1860 and 1870 with male survival rates in surrounding censuses. He concludes that the traditional statistic understates the number of actual Civil War deaths by approximately 20 percent.

In his estimation, the most probable number of deaths attributable to the Civil War is 752,000, although the upper bounds of his data could be as many as 851,000 deaths. These results have far-reaching consequences, encouraging historians to rethink assumptions not only about the war’s human cost, but the ways in which we try to measure and comprehend the size of that cost. J. David Hacker is associate professor of history at Binghamton University, SUNY. His research focuses on the demographic history of the United States before 1940.

He has published articles on trends and determinants in mortality, economic and anthropometric correlates of first marriage, the onset of long-term fertility decline, the impact of parental religiosity on fertility, and the effect of the Civil War on southern marriage patterns. His previous work has appeared in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Historical Methods, and the Journal of Southern History, among other publications. Awarded annually and funded by a donor through The Kent State University Press, the John T. Hubbell Prize recognizes the extraordinary contribution to the field of its namesake, who served as editor of Civil War History for thirty-five years.

Monday, April 09, 2012

New and Noteworthy---Civil War Sketch Book: Drawings From The Battlefront

Civil War Sketch Book: Drawings from the Battlefront, Harry L. Katz, Vincent Virga, Alan Brinkley, W. W. Norton & Company, 250 drawings and illustrations printed in full color, 288 pages, hardcover,$50.00.

From The Publisher: At a time before the camera lens could capture the frenzy and terror of battle action, illustrators known as “Special Artists”—among them such famous draftsmen as Winslow Homer and Thomas Nast—created for the American public some of the most important and lasting images of the Civil War. Reporting for newspapers like Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News, the Specials brought a visceral immediacy to the clash, presenting rich and nuanced images of soldiers in the camps and sweeping panoramas of the great battles. The illustrations span the war and its many theaters, including rarely seen views of Shiloh, Antietam, Vicksburg, and Gettysburg, and the famous stampede of Union soldiers fleeing the Rebels at Bull Run. Gathering these images for the first time in fifty years, Civil War Sketch Book gives readers the sense that they are touching history, for the illustrations (some even stained with soldiers’ blood) represent priceless artifacts from our nation’s greatest conflict.

CWL: The advance copy received today is stunning. Katz, a former curator for the Library of Congress, and Virga, a illustration historian, have selected 250 drawings by illustrators and soldiers. Long time readers of Civil War literature may recognize some but the breadth of this collection appears to offer other drawings that are less familiar probably not previously published. It appears that the majority of the illustrations are not from newspapers but are battlefield sketches submitted to the newspaper. Soldiers' works are well represented. The text offers detailed captions that include the artist, the date of composition and where the drawing is held today. Additionally, the text provides a discussion of the artists, their practices and their eyewitness accounts. Photographs of the sketch artists are included. Reenactors, 19th century popular culture enthusiasts, and general readers will enjoy such drawings as Henri Lovie's Foraging Secesh Oats and The Kitchen of Fremont Dragoons, Fairgrounds, Tipton, Maryland, and Frank Schell's Passage Down the Ohio of General Negley's Pennsylvania Brigade, October 1861 and the other 247 battlefront sketches.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

News---Landmark Scholarly Article Counts The Civil War's Dead And Goes To The Frontiers of Historical Imagination

The following text is from the journal Civil War History, Vol. LVII No. 4 © 2011 by The Kent State University Press:

For more than five decades, Civil War History has served as the leading venue for scholarly publications on the Civil War era. Even in light of this impressive run, the editors of Civil War History feel that the following contribution by
J. David Hacker of Binghamton University, SUNY, stands among the most
consequential pieces ever to appear in this journal’s pages. Hacker, a specialist
in quantitative methods, has utilized recently released microdata samples
from nineteenth-century censuses to examine one of the archetypal “facts”
about the Civil War—the oft-cited total of 620,000 plus deaths. Through a
comparison of male survival rates between 1860 and 1870 with male survival
rates in surrounding censuses, Hacker finds the traditional statistic understates
the number of actual Civil War deaths by approximately 20 percent.
In his estimation, the most probable number of deaths attributable to the
Civil War is 752,000, although the upper bounds of his data set point to as
many as 851,000 deaths.

As an exercise in the recalculation As an exercise in the recalculation of a statistic, Counting the Civil War Dead might be regarded by skeptics either as a form of what Thomas Kuhn described as “normal science” or as a misleading evocation of numeracy that belies the constructed nature of statistics. Such readings, we believe, miss the mark. Counting the Civil War Dead does more than modify a hoary bit of Civil War trivia; instead, it implicitly asks us to consider several questions that lie at the heart of the modern historical enterprise. How do “facts” emerge and become accepted by the profession writ large? How does the inevitably limited nature of historical evidence constrain our thinking about the past—and can we ever transcend these limits? Simply put, can we ever count the Civil War dead?

As readers will soon discover, the practical answer is no. The use of the most sophisticated tools of quantitative analysis can certainly overturn what was once accepted wisdom, but, in the final analysis, they can only provide us with a probabilistic range of excess male deaths during the 1860s. In a very real sense, however, fixating upon a precise number obscures the actual meaning of the numbers, as scholars such as William Blair, David Blight, Jane Turner Censer, Drew Gilpin Faust, Barbara Gannon, Caroline Janney,
Stuart McConnell, and John Neff have clearly established the central roles occupied by loss and trauma in postbellum America. By placing the Civil War’s enormous death toll at the center of the postwar world, this generation of scholarship forces us to stop and reconsider the war’s meaning for period Americans. And since, as Hacker implies, the majority of the uncounted dead were likely southerners (thanks to deficiencies in Confederate recordkeeping and the troubled postwar condition of the south), the “ghosts of the Confederacy” now seem more numerous and persistent than ever. In terms of the scale of the carnage, Richmond in 1865 was Paris in 1918. Thus, what you are about to read takes us to “the frontiers of historical imagination” (to borrow a phrase from Kerwin Klein) and serves as a reminder that for all we know about the Civil War, there is still plenty thatwe do not—and can never—know.

The full text of the article is located at Binghamton, New York State Univeristy

Images are from the Library of Congress.

Monday, April 02, 2012

News---Central Virginia Battlefields Trust Buys 13 Acres Of Jackson's Chancellorsville Assault Path

Flank-attack Land Acquisition ‘Spectacular Preservation Achievement’, Clint Schemmer, April 3, 2012

A Virginia nonprofit has just acquired a pivotal piece of the Chancellorsville battlefield where Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson gained his greatest fame. The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust closed Friday on purchase of what people locally call “the Castle” or “Stars and Bars,” after the castle-shaped curio shop that has stood for decades beside State Route 3. Civil War historian Robert K. Krick said its acquisition is “a spectacular preservation achievement—the most important CVBT accomplishment in many years.”

The 13 acres bought from Spotsylvania County resident Brenda Partain lie between Route 3 (the Orange Turnpike, historically) and Orange Plank Road, near the center of the flank-attack area. It fronts on both roads near their intersection, and includes commercially zoned land. The CVBT has agreed to pay $475,000 for the land. That includes a 8,000-square-foot building that formerly housed the family’s military surplus and Civil War relic business, which will be demolished, said CVBT president Mike Stevens of Fredericksburg. The tract is assessed at about $650,000. Preservation of the site, in the midst of the Jackson flank-attack area, will do much to ensure survival of the battle’s historic setting, Krick said. “Future generations will find the scene much as it looked in 1863, rather than covered with asphalt, nacho stands and petroleum pumps,” he said.

Krick, an author who was chief historian of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park for 31 years, serves on the CVBT board of directors. “Because of its crucial historical nature, and the extent of its road frontage on a prominent thoroughfare, the Partain Tract surely is one of the half-dozen most important preservation targets on the battlefields around Fredericksburg,” he said.

Jackson’s flank attack—which Krick and other historians say was Gen. Robert E. Lee’s greatest victory—swept the Union army from both sides of the turnpike. Racing east, his Confederates used the road to form their units and advance, Krick said. Today, the best-known part of the flank-attack area is an open, 80-acre sweep owned by the National Park Service north of Route 3 just to the west of the Partain site. Park visitors regularly seek out that land, and park historians lead public tours there. But historically, the south side of the turnpike is just as important as the north side, Krick said. Jackson’s troops advanced on both sides of the road, with a front that was initially two miles wide. “That’s what made it—together, of course, with surprise—so devastating and successful,” Krick said in an interview Friday.

But “precious little” land has been saved on the south side of Route 3, Krick said. The Partain Tract is just east of the site of the Talley House, a battle landmark. A few hundreds yards to the west, Krick said, the sturdy Georgia brigade under Gen. George Doles—its left anchored on the turnpike—hit the flank of the Union 11th Corps. Doles’s men hurried past the Talley House, scrambling on toward the turnpike’s intersection with the Orange Plank Road.

The new CVBT tract encompasses most of the highway’s south shoulder from the Talley House to Orange Plank Road (State Route 603). Wilderness Church stands just across the turnpike from that crossroads. The church’s eastern boundary adjoins the Wagner Tract, saved recently by the Civil War Trust. CVBT already owns more than 45 acres near the Partain Tract, for a total of 58 acres—“a significant portion” of the flank-attack area south of Route 3, said its president, Stevens.

The Virginia trust had eyed the Partain Tract, as a kind of keystone opposite the Park Service land, for many years, said Jerry Brent, the trust’s executive director. Fredericksburg businessman Johnny Mitchell was “the key player” in approaching Partain and getting her nod to sell the property to CVBT, Brent said. “This was the longest marathon, the longest negotiation, I’ve ever run in the preservation business,” Mitchell said Friday. “I had a burning desire to keep going, long after I should have given up—and that was true of the landowner, too.”

When negotiations stalled last fall, Brent picked up the ball and saw the deal through. Local attorneys Kevin Jones and Jim Pates, a CVBT board member, did the legal work pro bono. Jackson’s flank attack on the evening of May 2, 1863, was the last military maneuver of his storied career. The commander Lee called “my right arm” was mortally wounded by friendly fire a little ways to the east as he reconnoitered in the moonlight, eager to keep pressing the attack and crush Union Gen. Joseph Hooker’s army.

The CVBT will be raising private donations for the purchase. Money from the Civil War Trust, a generous CVBT member, and federal and state matching grants will help cover some of the cost, Stevens said. Every dollar someone contributes now will be multiplied by $7 from those other sources, providing “a big bang for the buck,” he said. Eventually, the two trusts hope their land will become part of the park, which might require Congress to adjust the park boundary. As recently as 1989, the National Park Service owned no acreage in the flank-attack area, Krick said.

Text and Top Image Source:

Second Image Source: Charles Hoffman, Painter