Thursday, January 31, 2008

CWL--Heavily Reviewed/Interviewed/Blogged: This Republic Of Suffering

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, Drew Gilpin Faust, Knopf Publishing, 368 pages, $27.95

Very rarely does a book on the American Civil War receive such thorough attention by interviewers, reviewers, and bloggers as This Republic of Suffering. I expect a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. The book resonates with the current temper of the times and the climate of opinion; it also opens a view into the historic hearts and minds. This week's New Yorker magazine published today an extended review essay; I expect The New York Review of Books to offer an extensive review. As the links become available, CWL will add them to this page.

Interview with the author:
NPR's Fresh Air:

BookTV: To Be Shown February 2, 2008



New York Times:

International Herald Tribune:

Los Angeles Times:,1,6144668.story

The Preface:

The First Chapter:

Civil War Memory--Kevin Levin

New---How Did Gettysburg Shape The Lives Of The Civil War Generation ?

Gettysburg Heroes: Perfect Soldiers, Hallowed Ground, Glenn W. LaFantasie, $24.95.

The Civil War generation saw its world in ways startlingly different from our own. In these essays, Glenn W. LaFantasie examines the lives and experiences of several key personalities who gained fame during the war and after. The battle of Gettysburg is the thread that ties these Civil War lives together. Gettysburg was a personal turning point, though each person was affected differently. Largely biographical in its approach, the book captures the human drama of the war and shows how this group of individuals—including Abraham Lincoln, James Longstreet, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, William C. Oates, and others—endured or succumbed to the war and, willingly or unwillingly, influenced its outcome. At the same time, it shows how the war shaped the lives of these individuals, putting them through ordeals they never dreamed they would face or survive. Glenn W. LaFantasie is Richard Frockt Family Professor of Civil War History at Western Kentucky University. He is author of Twilight at Little Round Top and Gettysburg Requiem: The Life of William C. Oates. He lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky. (text from publisher)

CWL: LaFantasie's Twilight at Little Round Top was one of CWL's best reading experiences in 2005. This microhistory of the July 2 fight on Little Round Top is not burdened by trivia or excessively deep background explanations. Sometimes less is more. The author acccomplishs that with a compelling and thorough descripiton of the that segment of the battle and in a writing style which is smooth and suspenseful. Gettysburg Heroes: Perfect Soldiers, Hallowed Ground is available only from Indiana University Press during January through April when, book clubs and retailers will have it available at that time.

The Blurbs:
"We continually hear that the Gettysburg subject has been exhausted. Glenn LaFantasie proves this wrong. Beautifully written and splendidly researched Gettysburg Heroes is a delight to read." —D. Scott Hartwig, Gettysburg NMP Ranger

"Gettysburg is more than a pivotal battlefield for Americans. It has also, in its way, become something of a national Pantheon. For American heroes have trod that ground, both those who fought there, and those who came after to learn and remember. Warriors like Generals James Longstreet and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, share that field with Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, and Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery. In a stimulating series of essays, Glenn LaFantasie looks at all of them in Gettysburg Heroes, examining not only why they came and what they did, but also the impact this hallowed ground had upon them and all Americans." —William C. Davis, author of An Honorable Defeat: The Last Days of the Confederate Government and The Union that Shaped the Confederacy

"Glenn LaFantasie is one of the finest writers in the field of Civil War history. His prose is accessible, pleasurable to read, and always insightful and provocative . . . this book should excite a lot of interest." —Joan Waugh, co-editor of The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Other Voices----Another Theft of America's Past

Archivist: I Stole Papers To Pay Bills, Clare Trapasso, Associated Press , January 28, 2008.

A state archivist was charged Monday with stealing hundreds of artifacts — documents representing "the heritage of all Americans," according to the history buff who found some of them on eBay — to pay his household bills.

Daniel Lorello, 54, is accused of taking the rare items from the New York State Library, including Davy Crockett Almanacs, Currier and Ives lithographs and the 1865 railroad timetable for Abraham Lincoln's funeral train. Authorities believe he hawked them for tens of thousands of dollars, using much of that to pay off his daughter's credit card debt. "This crime is especially repugnant, because it's dealing with historic documents," state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said. "It's literally stealing the legacy of the state of New York page by page."

Lorello, an archives and records management specialist in the New York Department of Education, pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and scheme to defraud and was released on his recognizance. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. In a handwritten statement released by Cuomo's office, Lorello said he took "more than 300 or 400 items in 2007 alone."

He said he "particularly liked" artifacts associated with the Revolutionary, Civil and Mexican wars, World War I, black Americana and "anything related to the Roosevelts and Jewish items." Officials found hundreds of documents and artifacts in Lorello's home over the weekend. Authorities believe the theft goes back to 2002, although it accelerated in 2007.

"I took things on an as-needed basis to pay family bills, such as house renovations, car bills, tuition and my daughter's credit card problem," Lorello wrote. He said he took many items last year because his daughter "unexpectedly ran up a $10,000 credit card bill."

Lorello also said his theft increased after he learned that surveillance cameras were to be installed in the library. Joseph Romito, a Virginia attorney and avid history buff, tipped off authorities after he saw one of the items, a four-page letter from Vice President John Calhoun written in 1823, listed on eBay. "I wanted to identify the recipient of the letter," said Romito, who researched the document and discovered it belonged to the state library.

"These kinds of items ... represent the heritage of all Americans," Romito said. "I am gratified that I had some small part to play in it." The attorney general's office placed the winning bid of about $1,800 on Calhoun's letter. "We're working on recovering those documents sold on eBay," Cuomo said, noting that investigators planned to review Lorello's sales records. "We're asking the traders to please check their collections." Lorello, who began working at the state archives in 1979, was placed on administrative leave from his $71,732-a-year job. He made no comment as he left court and messages left on his answering machine were not immediately returned.

It's unclear how much Lorello made from his sales. In some cases he went to trade shows and exchanged the stolen items for others, authorities said. But officials said in just two sales of Davy Crockett Almanacs — popular 19th-century pamphlets about the frontier hero's exploits — he received more than $5,000.

Bottom Photograph supplied by the New York State Attorney General's Office through the Associated Press.


Friday, January 25, 2008

CWL--- New For Presidents' Day: Lincoln vs. Douglas & Lincoln vs. Douglas

The Long Pursuit: Abraham Lincoln's Thirty-Year Struggle with Stephen Douglas for the Heart and Soul of America, Roy Morris Jr., Collins Publishing, 272 pages, $24.95.

Roy Morris Jr., is the editor of Military Heritage magazine and the author of four books on the Civil War and post-Civil War eras, including Fraud of the Century: Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the Stolen Election of 1876, which the Wall Street Journal hailed as "bravely nonconformist and greatly entertaining"; The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War, which the New York Times praised as "a thrilling narrative told with empathy and vast learning"; and Ambrose Bierce: Alone in Bad Company, which the Washington Post called "a rousingly good life." Also, Morris has written Sheridan: The Life And Wars Of General Phil Sheridan. Roy Morris lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (text, in part, from publisher)

Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America, Allen C. Guelzo, Simon and Schuster Publishing, 416 pp., $26.00.
Guelzo, a professor of history at Gettysburg College, is the author of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, Lincoln Emancipated: The President And the Politics of Race with Brian R. Dirck, and Lincoln and Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, and the Thirteenth Amendment with Herman Belz, Joseph R. Fornieri, and James Oliver Horton.

CWL: I've read both Morris' and Guezlo's works. Both are fine writers and researchers. To generalize, Morris' books are written for a broader audience and Guelzo's are written for a more academic audience.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Other Voices---Crime Scenes in National Parks

Relic Thefts 'Huge Crime Problem' In U.S. Parks, Judy Keen, January 24, 2008, 3-A.

Some visitors to Badlands National Park spot a fossil and take it home as a souvenir. Sometimes college students studying the 244,000-acre park's natural history assume it's OK to take a specimen for further scrutiny. A bigger problem, though, is the looting of artifacts found in the South Dakota park's rich fossil beds by thieves who plan to sell them online or to galleries or collectors.

"With a million visitors coming every year, it's very hard to stop," says Mark Gorman, Badlands' chief ranger. "Has it increased over the past few years? Absolutely." Six permanent rangers patrol the park. Last year, they investigated 41 looting reports and made nine arrests. He assumes that represents a fraction of the real number of thefts. Signs warn visitors not to take artifacts and to stay away from possible Indian burial sites, but thieves can be persistent and brazen, Gorman says.

"Collectors will dial 911 to draw park resources away … and give themselves time to get into areas to quickly pick up their work," he says. Human remains, animal fossils, bullets and projectiles all vanish. Fossils from the Oligocene Epoch 28 million years ago, such as the rhinoceros-like Titanothere and saber-toothed cats, "can easily sell for tens of thousands of dollars," Gorman says. "It's the theft of our collective history. It's horrible because it's not renewable."

Many park service officials agree that looting is increasing and often is undetected. Budgets are stretched thin, says Blake Selzer, legislative director for the non-profit National Parks Conservation Association. "Insufficient budgets translate to unfilled positions and inadequate staffing," he says. The budget for the National Park Service budget increased to $2.6 billion in fiscal year 2007 from $2.1 billion in 2000. Spending on law enforcement in the park system rose from $129 million to $178 million in that period, but Selzer says spending related to homeland security since 9/11 accounts for about $40 million each year.

The park system's 83 million acres include open country that's accessible to anyone and hard to patrol. Besides, says Angus Quinlan of the Nevada Rock Art Foundation, "because they're on public lands, people seem to think they can take whatever they want." Stolen artifacts were once sold mostly at swap meets or galleries, but many now end up online, says Todd Swain, a National Park Service special agent. "You could have a thousand people scanning the Internet every day for all the potentially illegal things that are on there," he says, but proving artifacts' origins is difficult.

Martin McAllister, a former Forest Service archaeologist whose Missoula, Mont., company Archaeological Resource Investigations trains and consults with federal law enforcement officials, says the theft of artifacts from national parks and other federal land is "a huge, huge crime problem — a multimillion-dollar-a-year industry." In the Southwest, McAllister says, officials are finding more looting methamphetamine addicts. "A Native American pot is money. It's cash in your hand," he says. Arizona and other states, he says, use volunteer "site stewards" to help monitor archaeological sites.

•At both entrances to Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park, employees "talk to everybody that comes in" about the ban on removing anything, chief ranger Greg Caffey says. Some landowners on the park's periphery have hired security guards to prevent looting on their property, he says.

•At Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park in Virginia, where three men dug 460 holes last year and extracted Civil War artifacts, there are signs every 20 or 30 feet along boundaries reminding visitors not to remove anything. Rangers stop anyone with a metal detector and visit trade shows to look for looted items, but chief ranger Keith Kelly says, "I don't know if we'll ever be able to stop people."

•At Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, a man who pleaded guilty to removing artifacts last year was required as part of his sentence to write letters to newspapers explaining why what he did was wrong and how it damaged the park, chief ranger Jessie Farias says.

•At Badlands National Park, rangers are doing more undercover work, surveillance and stings to catch thieves and are working with stores to identify looted items, Gorman says.

Tim Alley, a National Park Service special agent based in Virginia, worries that looting on protected federal land is increasing as residential and business development eliminate private land accessible to relic hunters. "We really have a duty to protect our limited resources," he says. "It gets harder and harder to do."

Photo: Andrew Councill, USA Today

Other Voices---Robbing the National Parks

National Parks Robbed Of Heritage , Judy Keen, USA TODAY, January 24, 2008, Section A, Page 1.

Looting of fossils and archaeological artifacts from national parks — such as Native American pottery and Civil War relics — is increasing as demand for such items rises on the Internet and the world market, U.S. National Park Service officials say. Over the past decade, an average of 340 "significant" looting incidents have been reported annually at the 391 national parks, monuments, historic sites and battlefields — probably less than 25% of the actual number of thefts, says park service staff ranger Greg Lawler. "The trends are up," he says.

It's "a chronic problem that we simply have not even been able to get a grasp on," says Mark Gorman, chief ranger at South Dakota's Badlands National Park. Park service investigators search websites and the FBI helps track looted items, some of which are sold to collectors in Europe and Asia. Prices are rising for some items, including Native American pottery and garments, says Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, manager of the FBI art theft program.

The most coveted items can cost "in the tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars," she says. Thieves caught last year at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park sold a Confederate belt buckle for $3,300 and buttons for $200 each. The park service has 1,500 law enforcement rangers and 400 seasonal law enforcement rangers — one for about every 56,000 acres. "We really don't have enough manpower," Lawler says.

That can make it difficult to catch criminals such as the three men who dug 460 holes at the Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania military park in search of artifacts and the man who pleaded guilty to taking 252 relics last year from Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park. Under the 1979 Archaeological Resources Protection Act, first-time felony offenders can be fined up to $20,000 and imprisoned for a year. Todd Swain, a National Park Service special agent, says the problem is far worse than statistics show. In a report he wrote for the 2007 Yearbook of Cultural Property Law he concluded, "The true scope of the looting problem is staggering. … Our shared cultural heritage is disappearing before our eyes."

Photo: Andrew Councill (USA Today)


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Drill, Training and the Combat Performance of the Civil War Soldier: Dispelling the Myth of the Poor Soldier, Great Fighter, Mark A. Weitz, Journal of Military History, 62 (April 1998): 263-289.

A theme irregularly runs through the military literature of the American Civil War: the worst soldiers made the best fighters and a wink towards the ragged rebels. To explain this characterization, some truisms are offered: a natural inclination towards fighting, the rural life, Celtic genes, and the strong ties of community and cousins. These explanations are couched in the notion of American, North and South, uniqueness. For Mark A. Weitz, these are not the answers. Civilians are made into good fighters by drill. The classical military definition of a professional army holds the answer. The effectiveness of drill and training is reported in the soldiers' statements. The soldiers' faith in training becomes obvious in their letters and diaries.

Non-military explanations for combat effectiveness divides the concept of fighter from that of a soldier. The skills of a good soldier had to be mastered before he could be an effective fighter. A second problem with most explanations is that they discount the abilities of the trained soldiers. A proclivity for personal violence in the civilian world does not translate to controlled effective violence on the battlefield. Rural life may have acclimated to harsh weather, long and vigorous physical activity, meager meals but the will to overcome threats to personal survival and comfort would not follow from having lived in a rural agricultural environment. The idea of a Celtic gene residing in the blood of Southerners, a notion offered by Grady McWhiney before the movie Braveheart appeared, offers little in the way evidence that the gene exists or Southerners have it.

Weitz first considers a definition of 'strong combat effectiveness'. Soldiers equated this a performing duty under fire while suppressing fear. In illustrating this, the author quotes both Frederick the Great of Prussia, Major Eugene Blackford of the 5th Alabama and Private Amos Steel of the 25th Massachusetts. The misperception that combat effectiveness came from environment and not from drill came from international observers. If the country had no significant military class and no military institutions with a storied past, then good soldiers could not be produced. How then did the American enlisted and and the American commissioned officer fight so well?

The stand of Prentiss' division at Shiloh, 1862, supports the traditional interpretation that training, drill, discipline and tactics contributes to combat effectiveness. Weitz briefly examines the military effectiveness of the ancient Sumerian army, the troops in the Thirty Years War and the army of Shaka Zulu in the 19th century. In each case, the transformation of civilians into soldiers is performed by drill in small and large units. Daily repetition of drills in company and battalion sized units. Patrick Cleburne, a former enlisted man in the British Army, relied on constant drill of his company, later regiment, then brigade and later division to become premier fighting units. Reliance on Hardee's Tactics, marching drill and rifle training were the keys to Cleburne's success as a battlefield commander.

A variety of regimental commanders, North and South, attested to the importance of drill as a means attaining cohesion and efficiency on the march and on the battlefield. As a whole, the great strides that McClellan made with the Army of the Potomac after the Battle of Manassas was due in large measure to constant drilling. Wietz's cites regimental diaries throughout the army as a way of making this point. The tremendous losses in the first two years of the war did not impair the soldiers' faith that drilling was essential for battlefield cohesion. Emory Upton, one of the Army of the Potomac's best field commanders and a tactical innovator, denounced the notion that a poor soldiers could be made into a good fighter by anything other than drill. When soldiers failed on the battlefield, Upton felt it in most cases that it was not that the soldiers were undrilled by that the soldiers nonprofessional officers failed to lead.

Colorizing Black and White Gettysburg Photography

The Artist: Mark Maritato

Contact The Artist regarding limited edition print offerings.

By phone: 203-616-5051 or 914-262-2014 (cell phone)

By mail:
Mark Maritato
LandMark Studios
2102 Briar Woods Lane
Danbury, CT 06810

By Email:

His WWWSite:

WWWSite location of three black and white photographs that he has colorized:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Other Voices---8th Precinct Police Reports Documenting Lincoln Assassination Pulled From Trash

Reports Documenting Lincoln Assassination Discovered, Paul Wagner, Channel Five News, Washington, D.C., edited and created: Tuesday, 08 Jan 2008, 1:00 AM EST


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Other Voices---Marketing Myths in Dixie?

Marketing the South: Commercial Mythmaking And Reshaping Of Popular Memories,, January 8, 2008.

The historical, competitive, and ideological factors that structure the practices of commercial mythmaking remain largely unexplored and undertheorized. Now, a study from the February 2008 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research investigates these interrelationships by performing a comparative analysis of two prominent New South mythmakers – editors of nationally distributed magazines about the South – who are seeking to ideologically reconstruct the historical legacy of antebellum, confederate, and segregationist South in ways that serve their commercial agendas.

A countervailing system of meanings has been culturally propagated through the ceaseless efforts of Southern intellectuals, politicians, writers, journalists, historical preservationists, and business leaders to place a redeeming light on the region’s historical heritage,” explain Craig Thompson (University of Wisconsin Madison) and Kelly Tian (New Mexico State University). “Through these myth making activities, this broad coalition of Southern mythmakers sought to defend the honor of their Confederate ancestors, rebuke the cultural stigmas that had been ascribed to white Southern identities and perhaps most of all, attract infusions of Northern capital needed to build a more prosperous New South.”

The South has a peculiar place in American history. Its (mythologized) heritage, and the enduring socio-economic patterns set by the aftermath of Reconstruction, has generated prominent ideological templates through which race and class relations in the United States have been mapped and contested. Over the course of the twentieth century, the South has been recurrently portrayed in the broader national media as a benighted and backward region that mirrored the presumed prejudices and character flaws of its poor white rural inhabitants.

“These Southern white identity myths venerate a cultural heritage that remains dogged by traces of polarizing racial divisions that are carried forward as countermemories,” Thompson and Tian write.

“The researchers focus on myths, that is, stories and conceptualizations of the South that are not fully true or all-inclusive. These myths help consumers resolve contradictions in their lives and construct personal and communal identities. Two editors of popular magazines about the south reveal the ways they structure their articles and features to disprove specific threatening myths and promote others that reshape memories. They reveal three related white identity myths that have been prevalent in commercial representations of Southern culture:

The myth of the Lost Cause: the Confederacy viewed as a legion of gallant Christian Knights serving a divine cause. Serves to release white Southerners from guilt by reshaping their memories of the brutal conditions of the slaves.

Moonlight and Magnolias: represents Southern womanhood as a vulnerable vessel of virtue. Gone with the Wind depicted both the “Lost Cause” and the “Moonlight/Magnolias” myths, with unprecedented box office success.

The Celtic myth: stereotypes poor Southern whites as lazy, drunk, uneducated hillbillies, due to their Celtic blood line. Projects blame for societal problems on the “racist Southern redneck.”

“Through their ideological strategies to manage these diversified, but equally, problematic countermemories, these New South mythmakers are also engaging in a market system negotiation over the identity value of their proffered commercial myths, which is itself embedded in a still broader cultural conversation over the South’s place in the socio-cultural landscape of American society” Thompson and Tian write.

“Our investigation has developed a genealogical framework that we hope will facilitate further research into these consequential intersections of commercial culture, popular memory, countermemory, and identity politics


CWL---Wolf of the Deep: Reluctant Pirate or Rebel Patriot?

Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama, Steven Fox, Knopf Publishing, 336 pp., index, illustrations, $25.95

Partly because of his seafaring skills and partly because of his luck, Raphael Semmes is in the second tier of Confederate Lost Cause heros. Fact-filled and with a crisp narrative, Steven Fox's biography of Semmes's focuses on an personally heroic 22-month voyage as captain of the most famous Confederate privateer, the CSS Alabama.

Sinking nearly 70 Union merchant schooners, whalers and other commercial ships to counteract the Yankee blockade of Southern ports, Semmes' Alabama terrorized the U.S. economy. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase were mightly discomforted by the 'Wolf of the Deep'. Until June 1864 when the Alabama was sunk by the U.S.S. Kearsage in a brief battle near Cherbourg France, the U.S. struggled against the flight of marine vessel registrations and wartime inflation fueled in part of the lost of imports and exports.

A child of a slave-owning, tobacco-farming family, Semmes early in life became a slavery apologist and late in life an unreconstructed rebel. An orphan and growing up in Washington, D.C., Semmes at age 17 joined the U.S. Navy. After serving without distinction for over 30 years and acquiring the reputation as a contrarian, Semmes came into his element when he accepted a commission in the Confederate navy.

Steven Fox's nautical biography will have appeal for those who are not sailors. Moving from adventure to adventure, family squabble to family squabble, martial affair to marital affair (one for Mrs. one for Mr.)Semmes becomes a complex, daring and sometimes arrogant character. More detailed and more fully descriptive than Raphael Semmes and the Alabama(Civil War Campaigns and Commanders Series) by Spencer C. Tucker, Fox presents a very complex, very Roman Catholic, very family-oriented pirate of the high seas. Exhausted after more than twenty months at sea that culminated in the sinking of the Alabama, Semmes luxuriated in his fame and toured Europe with a 20-something British heiress.

For this landlubber, Steven Fox's Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama, was a healthy excursion. On the CWL bookshelf,Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama, earns an spot beside Ship of Gold In the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder and Lost Gold of the Republic: The Remarkable Quest for the Greatest Shipwreck Treasure of the Civil War Era by Priit J. Vesilind.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Other Voices---Gettysburg's Cyclorama Re-Opens in mid-April

Cyclorama, Museum To Magnify Spirit Of Gettysburg Park, Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau, Sunday, January 13, 2008.

A visit to the 6,000-acre Gettysburg National Military Park, where 51,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed, wounded, captured or missing in three days of fierce fighting in July 1863, has always been a moving experience. But trips to this hallowed ground, considered the turning point of the Civil War, will soon get even better for the nearly 2 million sightseers, tourists and history buffs who stop here each year.

Two major improvements are almost completed after two years of work. In early April, a new $103 million museum and visitors center will open. Then in late September, the famous Cyclorama -- a 360-degree, 42-foot-high painting depicting the bloody but unsuccessful charge led by Confederate Gen. George Pickett -- will be back on public display after an extensive restoration. The centerpiece of the visitor center is a tall, 10-sided structure clad in red insulated metal, somewhat resembling a big barn. Other sections of the visitors center also stick with the rural agricultural look, with a gray stone exterior, common to many old farmhouses in southcentral Pennsylvania.

The "barn" will contain the two most important features for visitors: a new museum, with 11 separate galleries outlining the events that led up to the Battle of Gettysburg and detailing each of the three days of bloody fighting, and a 35-foot-high escalator leading up to a circular platform from which visitors can view the Cyclorama. The new center is two-thirds of a mile from an old house that has served as the welcome center since 1972. The current welcome center can accommodate about 400,000 people per year, while Gettysburg visitation has grown far beyond that.
The new center will open by April 15, with the exact date to be announced soon, said Dru Neil, a spokeswoman for the Gettysburg Foundation, a nonprofit group helping the National Park Service oversee the project's construction. The Gettysburg Foundation is raising $125 million for the project to build and maintain the new museum and visitors center and rehabilitate the painting. The funds include $20 million from the state, $15 million from the federal government and the rest private.

The new museum should be popular with Civil War junkies because it will have 11 historical galleries, each one named after phrases spoken by President Abraham Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg Address of November 1863. Different galleries will have pictures and documents of the years leading up to the Civil War. One will focus on the Civil War from 1861 to 1863. Its title will be Mr. Lincoln's words of "Now we are engaged in a great civil war." Another gallery will focus solely on battle, titled, "Now we are met on a great battlefield of that war." It will have information on the day before the battle started, with additional galleries detailing each of the three days of the battle.

The last gallery, called "Never forget what they did here," will outline ongoing efforts to preserve the battlefield. The architects for the new museum and visitors center were LSC Design of York. They thought the design should reflect the Pennsylvania farmland and agricultural buildings, said Ms. Neil. The new center will also be filled with important historical artifacts, such as a portable wooden desk believed to have been used by Confederate commander Gen. Robert E. Lee during the battle, and a journal used by Adams County physician Dr. John O'Neal to identity the locations of several thousand dead Confederate soldiers.
There are also two theaters where re-created movies of the battle will be shown, an education center for youth groups, a food court, a bookstore and museum shop and an area for unloading the dozens of buses filled with schoolchildren who arrive here.
The date for the Cyclorama unveiling has already been set: Sept. 26. Visitors and tourists once again will be able to view the panoramic painting portraying one of the most famous battles ever fought on American soil, Pickett's Charge. The painting has been out of public display for the past two years, undergoing a $15 million restoration.

The Cyclorama, painted in 1883-84 by French artist Paul Philippoteaux, shows the intense fighting between the North and South on July 3, 1863, as Confederate soldiers under Pickett's command made a last, desperate gasp for victory before being forced to retreat south the next day. The Cyclorama consists of 14 separate panels, which are 42 feet high. The painting would be 377 feet long if stretched out in a straight line. Before being taken down for restoration, the Cyclorama had hung for 40 years in a building near the current visitors center. Its corkscrew-shaped interior staircase led visitors up to a platform where the painting could be viewed.

However, Ms. Neil said, the painting wasn't hung properly, which prevented visitors from seeing it at a proper sight line. The improper hanging also added to the deterioration of the canvas. Also, in the old configuration, there were portions of the sky missing, which made the painting not as tall as it should have been. These portions of sky and clouds will be restored before the painting is on view again in September. The condition of the canvas had greatly suffered over the years, said David Olin, of Olin Conservation Inc., who is overseeing the restoration.

Decades ago, the original 14 panels were chopped into 32 smaller pieces. As a result the painting "was not able to hang properly," Mr. Olin said. In the early part of the 20th century, the painting was "rolled up and cut and stored in various places," causing damage to the paint and the canvas. "We had to mend torn and rotted sections of canvas." There had been three previous restoration efforts, but the current one started in November 2003. Once the painting returns to public view, it will be the first time in more than 100 years that it will be displayed in its original curved, or "hyperbolic," shape, he said.
"We will put visitors back into the time of the battle," said Mr. Olin. "People will get a sense of 'wow.' People need to allow themselves to interact with the painting." The long escalator will bring tourists up to and down from a circular platform, positioned in the middle of the painting. The Gettysburg Cyclorama is one of only about a dozen such massive circular paintings in the world, Mr. Olin added.
Eventually, the current visitor center and the building that used to house the Cyclorama will be razed and the land will be returned to the way it appeared on July 1-3, 1863. Nothing new will be built on the land because "over 900 Union soldiers were killed, wounded or captured during the fighting on the land where the existing visitors center is located. We didn't want to further intrude on the ground where those soldiers had died," said Katie Lawhon, spokeswoman for the Gettysburg National Military Park.

No soldiers died on the land where the new visitors center is located, Ms. Neil said.
Gettysburg Foundation officials are confident that the two new additions will create "a new Gettysburg experience," said Ms. Neil. "Our goal, working with the National Park Service, is to ensure that visitors have an inspiring visit. We hope they go away wanting to learn more about what happened here and how important it was in our country's history."

Bureau Chief Tom Barnes can be reached at or 717-787-4254.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Forthcoming--- Roll Call To Destiny: The Soldier's Eye View of Civil War Battles

Roll Call to Destiny: The Soldier's Eye View of Civil War Battles, Brent Nosworthy, Basic Books Inc., 336pp. $27.95. Release Date: March 2008.

Brent Nosworthy' last three books—The Bloody Crucible, The Anatomy of Victory, and With Musket, Sword, and Cannon—are each considered classic on the subject of military tactics and weaponry and how they affected warfare between the 17th and 19th centuries. In his new book, he takes a slightly different approach, choosing to focus more on the actual experiences of soldiers (in this case, concerning the American Civil War), and less on tactics and strategies from a command point of view; rather than provide a bird's-eye view of battle, he conveys a ground-level account of what the average soldier saw, smelled and felt.

Weaponry, tactics, strategy and the experience of combat are, of course, all interconnected, and Nosworthy doesn't lose sight of the fact. He has not created a simple miscellany of disconnected firsthand combat accounts. Instead, he begins Roll Call to Destiny with an enlightening chapter about Europe in the mid-19th century—a particularly progressive period when it came to weapons technology and military doctrine. America wasted no time learning about and creating new weapons and tactics, and then putting them to deadly use in the Civil War.

Having sifted through mountains of firsthand accounts (many never previously published), Nosworthy pieces together his relevant findings to paint a crisp, clear picture of the Civil War frontlines, from the perspective of soldiers standing on them. Nosworthy's subjects of interest here are infantry, artillery and cavalry. What was it like to stand behind a cannon and beat back an infantry charge? To take part in a chaotic, fast-paced cavalry raid? To confront the enemy face to face in thick, forest foliage? Nosworthy puts us in the middle of it all.

To illustrate the average soldier's experience, Nosworthy uses a number of case studies, including Burnside's advance during Bull Run, the Marye's Heights artillery battle at Fredericksburg, cavalry versus cavalry on the third day at Gettysburg, and the defense of Fort Sanders during the Knoxville campaign. He includes three lengthy sections under the rubric “Tactical Observations,” which function as mini chapters examining how the soldiers' experiences covered under the previous chapter are connected with certain issues concerning tactics, training and weapons that made their appearance during the fight, along with the terrain on which the battle took place. These sections are typical of the author's detailed, insightful and original thinking, and will be of great value to Civil War scholars and buffs.

With Roll Call to Destiny, Nosworthy has honed his characteristic approach to military history into an extraordinarily detailed study that is both supremely informative and inviting to read. This is a fascinating, superbly researched work that belongs on the shelves of anyone interested in the Civil War.

Source: Text from Publisher

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Other Voices--- Drew Gilpin Faust: "The experience of death in that war was so widespread that it infused American culture."

Death and Civil War America: Interview with Drew Gilpin Faust by Dana Shoaf, Editor Civil War Times, interview available online only.

Drew Gilpin Faust is accustomed to reaching pinnacles in the academic world. Long a celebrated professor known for pathbreaking scholarship on plantation culture and Confederate nationalism, she recently became the president of Harvard University. Her new book, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, published in January 2008, is a thoughtful study of the impact of the Civil War’s massive death toll, and an excerpt from Chapter 1 appears in Civil War Times’ February issue. Civil War Times Editor Dana Shoaf recently sat down with Faust to discuss this important topic.

What is the “Republic of Suffering”?

Frederick Law Olmstead, an administrator with the Union Sanitary Commission, was very involved with taking care of the wounded on hospital ships during the Peninsula campaign. Stunned by the misery and the sheer numbers of injured and dead, he made a remark about the country being turned into a “Republic of Suffering.” The scale of suffering was so huge, it seemed to encompass the whole country. I found it a compelling theme, and it comes out especially in the chapter on counting the dead toward the end of my book.

I also liked the idea of a Republic of Suffering as the title of the book because so much killing changes the role of public programs and government policies. The powerful democratic impulses of the war forced a reexamination of the neglect of the dead that was assumed and regularized in the opening days of the war. The Federal government took on new responsibilities for wartime dead through the national cemetery system, the effort at the close of the war to go back through the South and retrieve the bodies of the dead and try to identify them. The recognition that the state had a responsibility to the families of the dead, the bodies of the dead and the memories of the dead is also part of the Republic of Suffering.

Did the responsibility of the state to retrieve and reinter bodies also extend to Confederates?

No. Union agents would leave Confederate soldiers on the field but pick up Union bodies. That generated a response by private citizens in the South to take up the obligation to care for the Confederate dead. Women in particular mobilized in a series of ladies societies across the South, especially in areas near battlefields, to go out and organize search parties to try to find the graves of Confederate soldiers and collect them together in cemeteries like Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. There was also an effort on the part of organizations of Southern women to bring the dead back from Gettysburg and other fields in the border and Northern states where they were killed and reinter them in cemeteries. So private efforts grew up in the Southern states to compensate for the failure of the Federal government to include Confederate dead in the reburial program.

Would you agree that this book seems to be a departure from your previous work, which dealt with Confederate nationalism and plantation culture?

I’d say it’s a departure from my earlier work mostly because the North plays a large role in this book, and my previous work had been restricted to the South. I think that’s the way in which it’s most dramatically different. The other issues I address in Republic aren’t so different because I’ve always been interested in how societies and people define themselves. I think that’s what attracted me to the Civil War, because war provides a moment of truth, because it forces people to prioritize their values and decide what’s most significant. I think death in a sense is the most dramatic instrument of that, and so I’ve spent my whole career looking for moments of truth in which individuals in societies reveal themselves.

How long did it take you to research the book?

It’s hard to say how long, because I found myself drawing upon work that I’d done for my earlier books, Mothers of Invention and The Creation of Confederate Nationalism. But I started thinking seriously about this project in 1995 when I was asked to give the Fortenbaugh Lecture at Gettysburg College, a lecture that’s given every year at the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on some sweeping aspect of Civil War history. I decided I wanted to focus on death in that lecture. That was my first exploration of the topic, and it was a rather synthetic, speculative rumination on this question.

It was motivated in part by an undergraduate course that I taught for many years on war and the American experience. That course looked at the experience of war across the span of U.S. history, so that caused me to read about Vietnam, WWI and WWII and do a lot of comparative thinking about war. You find literature that says WWI was a dramatic departure in terms of the horror of war and the numbers of deaths and the amount of destruction changed how everyone thought about the world. A marvelous book by Paul Fussell, The Great War in Modern Memory, argues that point. But I think the Civil War had something of the same impact in the level of slaughter. Much of what has been said about the impact of WWI should in the American context be pulled back to the experience of the Civil War.

The scope of this book is fascinating, but it can also be seen as sort of sad and even at times depressing. It’s also very realistic in its treatment of the Civil War. Do you think that the Civil War has been overly glorified or glamorized in popular imagination?

Part of what I wanted to say with this book is that when we forget the kinds of things I describe here—the centrality of the experience of death, the volume of death, the devastating impact it had on so many aspects of mid-19th-century civilization—we forget the reality of the Civil War for those who lived in that era. The mourning that must have gripped the nation is something that’s too easy to forget because we are not captured by it.

The experience of death in that war was so widespread that it infused American culture. One of the things I thought a lot about since beginning to work on this subject is how much of late 19th-century America should we understand through those events? For example, think of the people who never knew what had happened to their son—it’s 1863, and you never hear of him again after Gettysburg. Let’s say you are a 30-year-old parent, you’re going to live another 40 years, and the rest of your life is shaped by that lingering uncertainty about the loss of that child. You can multiply that experience hundreds of thousands of times. I think as we consider late-19th-century Americans, we should be thinking about the ways in which they were shaped by the continuing presence of what I described in this book.

Some historians argue that a lot of Northern men didn’t participate in the military. Were there some people unaffected by the Republic of Suffering, or was it all-inclusive?

I think that there’s a distinct contrast between the North and South in this regard because of the level of mobilization in the South. For white and black Southerners, the presence of death was inescapable. I think in the North it was not as intense. As you suggest, there were many Northerners who managed not to have a direct role in the war. Sometimes I’ll be reading source material and I’ll just be stunned by this. For example, I was reading about Elizabeth Carey Agassi, the woman who founded and served as the first president of Radcliffe College, and her husband Louis Agassi, a scientist who taught at Harvard. They were traveling to Brazil to do research. As they were sailing down the East Coast she wrote that she looked over and saw all this smoke coming up from Virginia, and thought, “Oh yeah, that ‘s the Civil War going on.” I was so struck by this because there were numbers of individuals who served from Harvard and many students who died and so forth, yet somehow the Civil War was peripheral to them. I find that very strange, and I think we need to remember that people were differentially involved in the war.

That makes me think of Teddy Roosevelt, who felt guilty because his father didn’t serve.

Think about the Civil War memory industry—reunions, preserving and marking battlefields, the glorification of Civil War dead—and the impact that it had on the nation as the country moved toward the 20th century. I think that was a way in which Civil War influence spread beyond those who were direct participants and became a part of the entire American consciousness.

In your preface you state that we die “differently from generation to generation.” How do we die differently today and why?

Well, I think there are a number of factors that play into this. Technology is certainly one of them. Customs and values are another. We tend to die today in hospitals, tied up to all kinds of machines. The notion that the family should be at bedside is not so strongly felt. The place of religion is very different in our society. Ways of dying are more diverse because we are not as homogeneous in our identities and religious affiliations as people were during the Civil War. Nineteenth-century America was overwhelmingly Protestant, so that makes a difference. One of the things that I found most striking as I got more involved in this project is that many colleagues and friends did not want to talk to me about the subject of the Republic of Suffering.

A past president of Penn and another historian I know didn’t like coming when I gave talks about this; he didn’t want to think about death, and he teased me about it. He made it kind of amusing, but I think it’s expressive of something deeply rooted in our culture, which Phil Arias has written about so eloquently, which is we don’t like thinking about death. We try to eliminate it from our thoughts and live our lives as if it’s never going to happen. The notion of the good death was that it was a prepared death. You spent much of your life organizing yourself in relationship to death. That has had a very profound effect on me because I think that I have lived in some ways in a 19th- century world for the last 15 years, because I constantly thought about death.

Do you feel that you became obsessed with death?

Not in a bad way—I think in an illuminating way. I think in the way that it affected the question of moment of truth. When you think about death, it conceptualizes and intensifies much of what you do. It tells you to go smell the flowers; it put things in perspective when you’re having a horrible meeting or there’s a lot of difficult things going on.

You say that Americans in the 19th century were more prepared to die than kill. Are we better prepared for killing than dying? Let me rephrase my question: Would it be easier for a soldier today to kill than it was for a Civil War soldier?

Certainly desensitization to killing is still an important part of military training. I think it’s recognized that making individuals able to kill is a challenge and has to be taught. So we don’t just assume that everyone walking around in 21st- century America is a born killer. I would say that the glorification of violence in popular culture may indeed have broken down certain inhibitions about killing. We hear stories on the news about children who pop off and shoot each other, or gang warfare. I think the news likes to put front and center examples of times when the sanctity of human life has been completely ignored, and I think certainly popular culture points to and takes advantage of those examples. You asked a really interesting question, and I don’t have a firm answer to it. I think it’s a question worth exploring.

Could you describe what a good death would be in the Civil War period? If a soldier could die ideally, what would that entail?

Well a soldier would be at home. He wouldn’t be on the battlefield—he would be surrounded by family, and then these various questions that I put forward in my first chapter would be addressed. He would be prepared, he would express his willingness to die, he would say he had met his savior and expected to be taken to heaven, he would have settled all of his accounts with his family. He also would have prepared in a quite specific way his will, his burial arrangements, and he would have a kind of understanding of a shared understanding with his family of what the next step was. In other words, he was on his way out.

Explain how photography sometimes served as a surrogate for the family experience.

I think the most dramatic, public example of this was when Amos Humiston was found dead on the battlefield surrounded by portraits of his children, and there was a great effort to identify him. This seemed to be such an iconic moment—that this individual had wanted to die with his family around him, so he used his photographs in place of the actual individuals. It captured the public imagination, and there was a big effort to identify who he was, who his children were. That was accomplished, and his name was discovered through publishing engravings in the press. But I think the level of public interest in this is important—the image of someone who was torn away from family trying to reproduce that family through a ring of photographs around himself in his last moments.

You speculate that religion may have enabled killing in the Civil War. Could you explain that?

It’s just something worth thinking about. I don’t think you would say it absolutely did. But I think religion may have enabled both killing and dying—certainly enabled dying, in that if you firmly believed you were going to another life, it was easier to give up this one. But the notion that there are Christian soldiers who undertake killing for purposes that are consistent with religious ends I think motivated numbers of soldiers in the war, so I think it contributed to easing the difficulties individuals confronted both as they thought about killing and about being killed.

Were there any differences between the way northern Union soldiers and African- American soldiers reacted to killing?

There’s a considerable body of evidence that shows African-American soldiers recognizing the Civil War as a continuation of the violence of slavery. This was not so much a break in a peacetime world but rather an exacerbation of a world in which they had long found themselves, so that violence was at the heart of their prewar existence. There is a lot of expression of violence in war as an opportunity of vengeance, for repaying debts, for an instrument of liberation and an instrument of revenge. It’s sometimes criticized by African-American leaders. For example, Bishop Henry Turner was very nervous about calls for vengeance. He said we must not submit to this kind of definition, but one finds in numbers of letters from African-American soldiers the notion that this is a “just desserts” for the horrors of slavery. Abraham Lincoln phrased it a little bit differently, but he alludes to something of the same message in the second inaugural, where he sees the killing in the war as in some sense the price that America as a whole is paying for having embraced the slave institution. So it’s not a matter of our individual vengeance but rather the nation as a whole being punished for having been involved with slavery.

Was it harder for Americans to kill in the Civil War because the opponents were fellow Americans?

Yes. I think it was harder for soldiers to kill people who looked like themselves. And one of the ways that we see evidence to suggest that that’s the case is the kinds of atrocities that soldiers often committed against African-American soldiers—the failure to take prisoners, the Fort Pillow Massacre, those are probably the most dramatic examples of this, but there was a sense on the part of white Southerners that these were not real soldiers—that this was a kind of slave insurrection, that they did not have a legitimate right to be in military uniforms and to be fighting. Some commanders even encouraged ignoring the laws of war and the differential treatment of black Union soldiers, so that you can see when differences of race emerged, differences in perception emerged as well, and differences in treatment.

And that feeling percolated back to plantations as well and to the home fronts of the South, in the sense that there was racial violence.

There was considerable racial violence across the South as the slaves challenged masters in ways that they had not dared do before the war made the possibility of freedom seem a reality. The conflicts also were expressed in ways that led to retribution against slaves, especially when black men tried to escape and ran off to the Union army. Plantation owners often punished the wives and families that were left behind. There are numbers of examples of violence that just seem almost illogical and so extreme as to represent a kind of rage and disruption that is very startling. For instance, there’s the example of an African-American woman in South Carolina who yelled “Hurray, the Yankees are coming” when she heard that Union troops were nearby, and a group of whites got together and hanged her in response. Then there was a very severe set of punishments that essentially killed any slave woman who had pointed out to the Yankees where a family’s silver had been buried. An effort, I think, that speaks of a desire to retain control in a situation that was completely out of control for white Southerners and then precipitated them into being themselves out of control.

Was there one particular story of a person or individual that stuck with you as you were working on this?

Some of the stories of families either looking for lost loved ones or dealing with loss were the stories that lingered most strongly for me, partly because you could see how that would extend over decades, and the sense of ongoing loss. I think of two families in particular.

One was the family of Henry Bowditch, a Harvard professor. He was here in Boston when his son Nathaniel was killed in the spring of 1863. Henry Bowditch was told he’d been severely wounded, and he got on a train to go down to Virginia to see what had happened. Then when he got off the train, filled with hope that perhaps Nathaniel might recover, he was greeted by someone who said he was dead. He was taken to the army camp, met with Nathaniel’s comrades, talked to them and was told how good a soldier his son had been.

Henry Bowditch struggled with emotion. He was not used to emotion—he didn’t know how to handle it, he kept apologizing for it, he kept trying to find ways to channel it and to turn his loss into something he could handle. Watching him go through that period of mourning and try to come to terms with Nathaniel’s death is very moving. He did two things in particular that are worth noting. One is put together the most extraordinary series of scrapbooks and memorial volumes—now in the Massachusetts Historical Society—that recorded much about Nathaniel’s life and his death. But what I think they record most vividly is Henry Bowditch needing to act in some way that connected him with his son, and memorializing Nathaniel in this way provided him that. Secondly Bowditch became a very active advocate of improved ambulance service for soldiers. He felt that his son had died needlessly, that if medical care had been brought to him more quickly, he might have been saved. An ambulance service was somewhere between poor to nonexistent in most of the Union army in that time. And Bowditch changed that. He used his position of influence within the medical profession, his passion about his son’s death and his sense of mourning and grief to introduce a revolutionary improvement in the ambulance service in the Union army by the end of the war.

Another was the story of Henry Taylor from Wisconsin, who died as a prisoner of war in the South. His father and mother spent months trying to figure out where he’d gone and what had happened to him. He’d been in prison in Richmond, and then he was moved to South Carolina. Taylor’s parents weren’t sure whether he was alive or dead. They finally figured out that he had died, and his father spent years trying to get at the circumstances of Taylor’s death. I was very struck by a letter written in the 1890s by his father to one of Henry’s comrades, still asking for details of his death. The comrade has clearly not been thinking about the Civil War for quite some time, but here’s the father still obsessed with the need to know about his child’s last moments.

There’s an ongoing debate because we spend so much money today to try to recover any body we can from the battlefield. There are some people who say we shouldn’t do so, but it seems to me that that process, that idea starts in the Civil War era.

One can see in the Civil War itself a real shift in consciousness about the obligation of the state to involve itself, or commit itself, to a retrieval of the dead. We take that for granted now, but that was not at all in people’s minds at the beginning of the Civil War.

Did you find any evidence of either the Northern or the Southern government manipulating mourning for patriotic purposes?

Mourning became a vehicle for patriotic expression in many ways. At the beginning of the war every soldier’s death was greeted with parades. These were mourning parades, elaborate funerals, elaborate forms of recognition. But when you start getting toward the numbers of Civil War dead that ultimately amounted to 620,000, you obviously don’t have the same level of ceremony surrounding the deaths. I think many of these events were a combination of patriotic outpourings and private mourning. Stonewall Jackson ‘s death observances went on for days, to the point that by the time he was lying in state at Virginia Military Institute, where he had been a professor, individuals were beginning to comment on the fact that the embalming job that had been done on him was weakening, and it was past time to get him into the ground. Same thing happened with Abraham Lincoln actually; his body was taken on a train trip around much of the nation in 1865 for crowds and crowds of people to express their grief at the loss of this Union president who had won the war for them.

I think some people would say the mourning for Stonewall Jackson is still going on, legions of people who go down to VMI. How did growing up in Virginia influence the way you view the Civil War?

I grew up in Virginia in the 1950s and ’60s, when reenactments of Civil War battles were taking place all around me. It was a time when people were very engaged with Civil War memories. A lot of my childhood weekends, I remember, were taken up with trips to battlefields and activities that were about the Civil War. I used to play Civil War with my brothers all the time. My older brother always made me be Grant because he wanted to be Lee. I was pretty old before I realized that Grant actually won, so I had a rather distorted view of things for quite some time.

Because of that view, do you like or dislike Grant?

I like Grant a lot. I think he was a remarkable individual. Another story I should tell about my childhood—and I’m not sure when this reached a level of actual consciousness—seems to me almost prophetic about this book. My family, my parents and grandparents, are buried in a beautiful little cemetery called Old Chapel Cemetery, located between two small Virginia towns, Boyce and Millard. There’s a little family plot there. If you look around the graveyard, within two or three feet of this family plot there are little stone markers that say unknown Confederate soldier, unknown Confederate soldier. Those were individuals killed in a skirmish on that ground during the Civil War and interred in unidentified graves. My family is buried in the midst of the phenomenon that is at the heart of this book.

Who was the Civil War buff in your family who dragged everybody to the battlefields—or was it the entire family?

Probably my parents thought, “Well, these are historic sites; let’s take them to those historic sites.” But my older brother was the Civil War nut. He collected guns and other weapons and all kinds of paraphernalia.

Did that part of your background help you? You use a lot of material culture in your books and your classroom—does that come from your family experience as well?

That’s an interesting question. At one point I borrowed all my brother’s Civil War rifles and had them at the University of Pennsylvania, where I used them in my classes to explain about the transition from the smoothbore musket to the rifled musket to the breechloader. I had his MiniĆ© balls and his cartridges and all the rest of it. One time I was stopped by a policeman as I was walking through West Philadelphia with these rifles. He wanted to know what I was up to. So yes, my brother’s collection did play a role in my teaching. But I did not begin my scholarly career by studying the Civil War. I looked at the prewar South for the first decade and a half at least of my scholarly work. I came to the Civil War gradually and didn’t see myself as immediately jumping into this tradition of family engagement and interests.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

CWL--True Crime In Postbellum NYC

A Pickpocket’s Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth Century New York, Timothy J. Gilfoyle, W. W. Norton Publishing, notes, illustrations, appendices, 2006, $35.00.

A remarkable document was created by George Appo, a career criminal in 19th century New York City. His autobiography, in a typewritten manuscript form, was stored in Box 32 of Society for the Prevention of Crime Papers in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Columbia University, in New York City. In an exemplary effort of historical research, Timothy J. Gilfoyle, history professor at Loyola University in Chicago has extensively annotated portions Appo’s autobiography.

Remarkably, the author has chosen not to include the entire 98 page autobiography as an appendix. Portions of the document appear at the beginning of A Pickpocket’s Tale and are cited in the chapters. Gilfoyle’s curious approach is successful in telling two stories: a life story of Appo and the story of the New York City and state criminal justice system and the environment it tried to control. The subtitle of the book is The Underworld of Nineteenth Century New York. George Appo is representative of a world beneath the financial and high culture world of NYC. Punished as a juvenile, he was committed to a reform school ship that sailed to Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. He went to Ossinging (Sing Sing) and Clinton prisons four times; he spent a year on Blackwell’s Island and had six incarcerations in the Tombs, both located in NYC. He spent a year in Pennsylvania’s Eastern Penitentiary. Murderer? Mob enforcer? Rapist? No, Appo was a pickpocket who was unaligned with any politician, policeman or gang. An allegiance with any of these three forces would have kept him out of prison.

In the course of the book, Gilfoyle explains the conditions and contexts in which Appo lived his life of crime and was punished for it. As an independent pickpocket and a team player in a ‘green goods’ (selling allegedly counterfeit money and hen switching it with it for blank paper) racket, he was shot and cut. Appo suffered from an addiction to opium. Gilfoyle skillfully provides a history of opium, how it is smoked and where, a history of counterfeiting and how it tapped into Americans ‘get something for nothing’ attitudes. Gilfoyle explains why pickpocketing was prevalent and easy. In a world of no checking accounts and the publics partial reliance on both hard currency and cool cash, citizens would normally carry nothing but cash in clothing that had three to six outside pockets.

CWL--Sex in the (Wartime) City

Sexual Misbehavior in the Civil War: A Compendium of 1,036 True Stories, Thomas P. Lowry, Xlibris Press, 2006, Chapter 1, Prostitution in Virginia, pp. 15-25.

The following letter is imaginary but accurate.

Dear Wife,
Greetings from Alexandria, Virginia!
I won’t be sending you my pay for a couple of months.
I got drunk. Then the bartender took me to a house of ill fame and I had sex with a prostitute, who talked me into leaving the army (I missed you so much) and said she would help me do it. She sold me for $25 civilian clothes provided by the bartender. When I put them on the bartender came into the bedroom with the provost guard. I was arrested for desertion. The arresting officers got a reward of $30 that they split 50-50 with the bartender who split his share with the whore. I am losing $8 of my $13 a month pay for three months. Also, I am in Old Slave Pen jail and will be moved to the Prince Street Prison for three months and at hard labor.
Your husband,
The Private.

Thomas P. Lowry has discovered military court records that chronicle that sad story, with a several variations, many times. The amount paid for the clothes changes; it ranges from $25 to $80. On occasion, the arresting officers take a bribe from the deserter, but still arrest the offender. Several times, transportation out of Alexandria is to be provided for fees ranging for around $20.

In addition, Lowry presents some fairly frank information of the methods of whores acquiring customers in Alexandria. There were a pair of Southern ladies who sold heirlooms from their home; but a whiskey still was found in their basement by the provost guard. From the Potomac River docks, women would signal passing ship. The ship would come to the dock, drop the gangplank and a woman would get on board. The ship would pull away from the dock, idle in the current for a while and then return to the dock and discharge the woman. This event occurred so regularly that the woman that small crowds would come to a particular dock to cheer the women on and off the ship. When a ferry captain asked a woman who was going aboard a U.S. provost guard ship if she was going to fire a salute she replied she was going aboard to handle a gun.

The evidence from these trial shows that the U.S. authorities tolerated prostitution. There is evidence that only one whorehouse was shut down by the provost guard in Alexandria in the course of four years. Nearly all the cases Lowry has found are records of violence, desertion or noisy behavior. When men paid for sex and not sold civilian clothes, then prostitution went unnoticed by the provost. ‘Soiled doves’, ‘nymphs du pave ‘(girls of the pavement),’ frail but fair women’, ‘Cyprians’ who worked in ‘houses of ill fame, ‘houses of ill repute’, or ‘bawdy houses’ were terms used for whores and their domiciles in Victorian times and found in courts martial records. Much less frequently used, Lowry finds, are the terms whore’, ‘whorehouse’, and ‘bordello’. The term ‘parlor houses’ was a term reserved for the rich and well-to-do when the visited a whorehouse.

Other Voices---Word On The Street: This Republic of Suffering

Former Resident Tells Realities Of War In New Book, Teresa Dunham, The Winchester Star, Tuesday, January 8, 2008.

Romanticized notions about the Civil War are shattered in Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust’s new book "This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War."

The Ivy League university leader, who grew in Clarke County, takes a realistic look at the war that claimed approximately 620,000 soldiers’ lives — and those men didn’t all go down in a blaze of glory. Some of the recorded fatalities range from mundane to strange, such as a soldier who met his end when a mule kicked him to death, and a man who died after an amputation resulting from another man biting his thumb.

The book details how survivors mourned and chronicles efforts to identify, reclaim, preserve, and bury the battlefield dead. It also examines how the war’s carnage impacted residents — materially, politically, intellectually, and spiritually. "It’s stories about death and the impact on people during the Civil War," said Faust’s brother, Tyson Gilpin Jr. of Winchester. For locals who would like to catch up with Faust, she will discuss her book at its official launch at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The event is free and no reservations are required, said National Archives spokeswoman Laura Diachenko, but seating is on a first-come first-served basis. A book signing will follow Faust’s discussion.

Though Faust was not available for comment, her brother was willing to offer his thoughts after reading an advanced copy. "I’m passionate about this," Gilpin said, adding that the book is compelling and accessible. Since Faust grew up outside Millwood, Gilpin said the Winchester area gets plenty of mention in the book. Faust incorporates quotes from people who lived around Winchester during the war and also refers to Mount Hebron Cemetery, he said. As Gilpin read the book, he was fascinated to learn that dead soldiers’ bodies could still turn up occasionally. In fact, a body was discovered as recently as 1996.

Gilpin also learned that embalming became more widespread as a result of the war. Many embalmers were regarded as a nuisance, he said, because they would automatically embalm the bodies of well-to-do men and then demand an exaggerated fee from the family. Besides real-life anecdotes, Gilpin said his sister also incorporates literary observations from authors such as Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson to capture the times. "You see pictures here that aren’t the romantic ones I like," he said.

Obviously, Gilpin likes his sister’s book, but local and national historians are giving it a thumbs-up too. "She understands the lives of the people of the past [better than] most historians. Her work is more nuanced and has more depth," said Deborah Lee, a Loudoun County historian, who is well-versed in Faust’s writings. A review by Tony Horowitz, author of "Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War" was also complimentary. "Timely, poignant, and profound, ‘This Republic of Suffering’ does the real work of history, taking us beyond the statistics until we see the faces of the fallen and understand what it was to live amid such loss and pain," he wrote of Faust’s sixth book.

Drew Gilpin Faust, a Clarke County native and the president of Harvard University, will launch her book at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building, Constitution and 7th St. NW. Use the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance. Metro is accessible on the Yellow and Green lines at the Archives/Navy Memorial Station.

Photo top: Drew Gilpin Faust
Contact Teresa Dunham at

Interview with Drew Gilpin Faust

Other Reviews:
Los Angeles Times,0,2723896.story?track=rss


Monday, January 07, 2008

Other Voices---Bringing The GLBGs Into The 21st Century?

Guides Speak Out On Leader's Remarks, Matt Casey, The Evening Sun, January 6, 2008.

A group of battlefield guides would like you to know Rick Hohmann - the president of the Association of License Battlefield Guides - does not speak for them. Hohmann has been a vocal critic of National Park Service and Gettysburg Foundation plans for a new battlefield tour reservation system that would allow visitors to reserve tours online using credit cards. He also announced the organization would likely relocate its headquarters off park grounds.

"Rick was speaking only for himself and his comments were not approved by either the leadership of the ALBG nor by its membership in whole or in part," Ed Suplee, a full-time guide since 2004, said in an e-mail. "As an individual member of the ALBG, I have been very pleased and gratified by the way the membership and many within our ALBG leadership have responded to the inappropriate, vitriolic and divisive press comments made recently by Rick Hohmann," Suplee said.

The Gettysburg guides have functioned under federal control for nearly a century, and relations have not always been amicable. But some guides said Hohmann crossed the line into personal attacks when he publicly said Terry Latschar - a licensed guide and wife of Park Superintendent John Latschar - aggravated park/guide relations by attending association meetings and intimidating guides from speaking.
The real issues dividing the park and the guides right now are not "that major" said 15-year guide Wayne Wachsmuth. "It's become rather emotional," the retired Air Force pilot said. "Logic seems to not be having a great deal of influence."

"As an old airplane driver, emotions were things that you had to divorce yourself from," Wachsmuth said. Hohmann opposes the online and credit card reservation system on the grounds it would put guides on a two-week pay schedule, could cramp their ability to swap tours with each other and limit tips. Currently, visitors pay for their tours in cash at the end of the tour. Two-year guide Gar Phillips said he would "love" to continue to be paid in cash "but you have to admit, how many jobs are like that?"

Suplee said he thought Hohmann's insistence on cash payment made the guides look "archaic and silly." Wachsmuth said he said he doesn't understand the fear of a regular paycheck. When he served in the Air Force, he said, he only received one paycheck a month. As far as tips, Wachsmuth said, they comprise a small portion of a guide's pay - maybe $10 on top of a $45 tour - and he didn't think paying ahead of time would reduce tips. John Weixel, a recently-licensed part time guide, said he thought the credit card system may actually enhance tips. He doesn't like to carry a lot of cash when traveling, he said, and he would be more likely to give a tip if he weren't paying for the service at the same time.

Joanne Lewis, a guide who splits her time between battlefield and town tours, said she didn't think the new system would cramp guides ability to swap tours with each other. The reservation system, she speculated, would help visitors and guides. She has personally turned visitors away because there were no guides available to accommodate them, she said.

The new system, she said, would help connect customers with guides - especially in an age "when everybody's personal time is at a premium" and visitors tend to research Gettysburg on the Internet before departing for the park. Weixel called that "bringing the visitor service experience into the 21st century," and called the planned opening of the new visitor center "the culmination of a lot of terrific things that have been going on at the park."
Some guides talked to cautioned that their position didn't mean the supported the Park Service on all issues - but they all supported the new visitor center and opposed Hohmann's proposal to move the guides' office off park property. Wachsmuth said he didn't think the association could afford to properly advertise the location to give it as much visibility as a headquarters in the new visitor center would have. Even if the guides do move their headquarters, Superintendent John Latschar said recently that the park would maintain a room for the guides in the new visitor center. The large room includes a kitchenette and access to bathrooms not open to the public.

Susan Boardman, the immediate past president of the organization, said there is also debate over how the association should vote on whether or not to move its headquarters. Hohmann proposed a vote at the association's Jan. 18 business meeting. Guides live in places as far flung as Maine and California, Boardman said, and holding votes at winter meetings grant undue sway to local guides. "It no longer works, our system of voting, because people can no longer come," Boardman said. She said that wasn't intentional. When the organization started, most guides lived within 50 miles of the park. "The bylaws need to be changed," she said, but some member oppose allowing votes cast by proxy through phone calls or email.

But the association's rules do allow for another method of voting. Phil Lechak, a member of the association's executive council, said the council will meet Sunday night to decide if an anonymous mail-in vote would be a more appropriate method for the association to make this decision. Mostly, the guides interviewed said, they'd just like to put this current controversy behind them. "Since the Licensed Battlefield Guide designation was created by the United States Congress in 1915," said Ed Suplee. "The LBGs have had a proud tradition of excellence and public service and I look forward to our continuing this very important mission."


Contact: Matt Casey at

Top Picture: Tim Smith and Wayne Mott
Middle Picture: Anthony Nicastro
Bottom Picture: GLBG group in 2006