Thursday, February 28, 2008

News---Lincoln Scholar, Allen Guelzo Interviewed By Comedian Jon Stewart

Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America, Allen C. Guelzo, Simon & Schuster, 416 pp, $26.00.

Picture right: Gettysburg College's Civil War Era Studies Professor Allen Guelzo recently appeared on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart. Source: Evening Sun, February 28, 2007. has a link to Comedy Central's news show, hosted by Jon Stewart, which features a seven minute interview with Allen Guelzo, professor of Lincoln studies at Gettysburg College.

Description from Publisher: In 1858, Abraham Lincoln was known as a successful Illinois lawyer who had achieved some prominence in state politics as a leader in the new Republican Party. Two years later, he was elected president and was on his way to becoming the greatest chief executive in American history.
What carried this one-term congressman from obscurity to fame was the campaign he mounted for the United States Senate against the country's most formidable politician, Stephen A. Douglas, in the summer and fall of 1858. Lincoln challenged Douglas directly in one of his greatest speeches -- "A house divided against itself cannot stand" -- and confronted Douglas on the questions of slavery and the inviolability of the Union in seven fierce debates. As this brilliant narrative by the prize-winning Lincoln scholar Allen Guelzo dramatizes, Lincoln would emerge a predominant national figure, the leader of his party, the man who would bear the burden of the national confrontation.

Of course, the great issue between Lincoln and Douglas was slavery. Douglas was the champion of "popular sovereignty," of letting states and territories decide for themselves whether to legalize slavery. Lincoln drew a moral line, arguing that slavery was a violation both of natural law and of the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence. No majority could ever make slavery right, he argued.

Lincoln lost that Senate race to Douglas, though he came close to toppling the "Little Giant," whom almost everyone thought was unbeatable. Guelzo's Lincoln and Douglas brings alive their debates and this whole year of campaigns and underscores their centrality in the greatest conflict in American history.

Book Review by Publishers Weekly/Reed Business Services: Guelzo (Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America) gives us an astute, gracefully written account of the celebrated Lincoln–Douglas debates of 1858. These seven debates between two powerful attorneys and statesmen, Abraham Lincoln and Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, starkly defined the stakes between sharply different positions on slavery and union on the eve of civil war and offered examples of serious, deeply reasoned exchanges of views rarely seen in American politics. As Guelzo wisely shows, the debates did not stand alone but were part of a larger Illinois senatorial campaign. Douglas won re-election that year, but Lincoln gained national recognition despite losing and then defeated Douglas three years later for the presidency. Perhaps more important, the views that Lincoln enunciated in 1858—that the government, heeding the majority's will, should halt slavery's further spread—laid the foundation for emancipation and a new era in the nation's history. Guelzo's smoothly narrated history of this segment of Lincoln's career, packed full of illustrative quotes from primary sources, will become a standard.

CWL--- Guelzo usually has a strong presence at conferences or panels and his appearance on The Jon Stewart Show is now except. Stewart handled the scholar well and the scholar handled the comedian well. Both are quick, witty and well-informed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

CWL---Ezra Ayers Carmen's Civil War (Notes)

Intrigued by the first chapter of Ezra Ayers Carmen's The Maryland Campaign of 1862 edited by Joseph Pierro, I spent some time with the editor's brief biography of the author. The first chapter is fine review of the Maryland's varied sympathies and the politics that reflected them. The clear, concise, non-hyperbolic and non-partisan writing style caught my attention immediately.

Ezra A. Carmen:

Born in New Jersey, received his degree from Western Military Institute in Kentucky.
Travelled with the Institute as an instructor when it moved to Nashville Tennessee. Taught math and received his masters degree from the University of Nashville. Returned to New Jersey and became lieutenant colonel of the 7th New Jersey.
Wounded at Williamsburg, VA on May 5, 1862.
Recuperated and became colonel of the 13th New Jersey in the summer of 1862.
Led the unit in the East Woods at the Battle of Antietam.
Within days after the battle, he visited the battlefield and conducted interviews.
Assigned to the Western Theatre, Carman suffered head injuries at Kenesaw Mountain, Georgia.
Mustered out in June 1864 and had participated in 23 engagements.
One of the prime movers in the preservation of the battlefield and the sparse collection of monuments there.

More to come on Carman's Maryland Campaign.

Picture: Ezra A. Carmen's coat in the collection of Don Troiani, Connecticut.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New---Maryland Campaign of September 1862 Now Available

Today I received a review copy of The Maryland Campaign of Septemter 1862: Ezra Ayers Carman's Definitive Study of the Union and Confederate Armies at Antietam, edited by Joseph Pierro, from Routledge Press.

It is 515 pages which include a 30 page subject index and 15 appendices (100 pages). It is a large format (8.5 x 11) book, with notes at the bottom of the page (a rarity!!).

The number of notes per chapter range from 45 to 123 and there are 24 chapters. There are no photographs or illustrations. The atlas to the book has been digitized by the Library of Congress and is available at its American Memory wwwsite. The publisher states that the book will be available March 17th.

Damn! It's a beautiful thing!

The Amazon link is:

The publisher's link is:

Both Amazon and Routledge are offering free shipping on this item.

Other Voices---Early Review of Noswothy's Roll-Call to Destiny

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

Reviewed by Bruce Trinque, Amston, CT on Civil War Discussion Group,

Although in some ways Brent Nosworthy’s new Roll-Call to Destiny: The Soldier’s Eye View of Civil War Battle can be viewed as a companion to his previous, ground-breaking The Bloody Crucible of Courage: Fighting Methods and Combat Experience of the Civil War, fundamentally Roll-Call to Destiny is independent of that earlier volume, written from a quite different perspective. Thoroughly grounded in firsthand accounts, Roll-Call to Destiny provides a vivid examination of combat during the American Civil War: infantry, cavalry, and artillery (and even naval, or at least riverine, action), from the beginning of the war until nearly its end, both Eastern and Western theaters, Union and Confederate.

The focus is not principally upon the experiences of individual soldiers, but rather upon the activities of “small units” (usually, regiments or batteries, but also brigades or larger organizations, where appropriate) at several different battles, including First Bull Run, Gettysburg, and Missionary Ridge, but also lesser-known actions such as Arkansas Post and Darbytown Road. The author does not attempt to provide detailed accounts of the whole battles, but rather focuses upon one or more selected small units at those actions to illustrate numerous facets of Civil War warfare. He is particularly careful to link the theory and practice of such American combat to European military history and technical developments, showing how the American experience fit into a broader picture and that it is impossible to really understand the battlefields of 1861-65 without taking that broader picture into account. In several cases, the author challenges conventional wisdom and provides convincing new answers to old questions.

Besides this innovative and insightful assessment of Civil War combat, Roll-Call to Destiny offers plenty of more traditional military history in the form of stirring narratives of dramatic episodes peopled by soldiers whose courage and skill rose to the occasion – or sometimes did not. This is a book that should be of great interest and value to anyone seriously interested in the real nature of fighting during the American Civil War. Even those who think that they have already read everything there is to be said on the subject will come away with new information and ideas. This is definitely a book that deserves a strong thumbs-up.


Monday, February 25, 2008

New---GNMP VC Is Money Magnet

$20M More To Go For Visitor Center, Erin James, The Daily Record, Sunday News, February 23, 2008

With fewer than two months to go before the opening of the new Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center and Museum, fundraisers are more than $20 million away from reaching their goal of $125 million needed for the project. But that's right on schedule, according to a spokeswoman for the Gettysburg Foundation, the nonprofit organization that has handled the funding of the new center. "We're thrilled with the way things are going," spokeswoman Dru Neil said.

The up-to-date fundraising total of $105 million was released this week for the first time since spring last year, when the total raised was at $93 million, Neil said. And even though the visitor center is on schedule to open April 14, the Gettysburg Foundation is not fretting the remaining amount needed. That's because the cost of constructing the center and restoring the Cyclorama painting is about $103 million -- $101 million of which has already been donated, Neil said. The difference between that total and the ultimate goal of $125 million will go toward other facets of the project, including endowments and battlefield rehabilitation, Neil said.

The new visitor center, being built off Baltimore Pike, was originally projected to cost $40 million, but the project's scope expanded and costs spiraled upward. The center will include a snack bar, a place for visitors to check historical records, a collections storage area and two theaters that will show a 22-minute film about the battle. The museum at the center will include more than a dozen rooms and more than nine interactive exhibits, serving as a gallery dedicated to topics like the casualties of war and the emancipation of slaves. Visitors will also be able to view exhibits in two areas outside the museum.

Fundraising activities are still very much alive at the Gettysburg Foundation, although the focus this past week has been on moving staff offices to the new center, Neil said. Park Service staff have said their offices will not be relocated until only days before the center's opening. Donations to the project continue to come in from both large donors, such as corporations or other foundations, and individual donors, Neil said. Center The opening at the Gettysburg National Military Park is planned for April 14.


CWL: Lucky me! I signed up for the GNMP's seminar for April 12 and it looks like the audience will receive a walk through the Saturday evening before the 14th. I'll post pictures of the event.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Other Voices: Damn Rare African-American Archives

Man Amasses Black History Treasure Trove, Kathy Matheson, Associated Press, February 23.

As a child growing up in the 1940s, Charles Blockson was once told by a white teacher that black people had made no contributions to history. Even as a fourth-grader, Blockson, who is black, knew better. So he began collecting proof.

Picture: "Slave Trade", from the Middle Passage , envelope, #16, Sec 11, courtesy of The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Historical Collection, Temple University

Today, the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University contains more than 30,000 historical items, some dating to the 16th century. It includes Paul Robeson's sheet music, African Bibles, rare letters and manuscripts, slave narratives, correspondence of Haitian revolutionaries and a first-edition book by W.E.B DuBois.

"It's really invaluable," curator Diane Turner said. "The materials are just so wonderful and unique." The collection has grown so much since Temple acquired it 25 years ago that it moved into a larger space on campus this month. Blockson, 74, is a historian, lecturer and author who began amassing his collection as a boy living in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown. His quest began after he asked a substitute teacher about famous black people in history. She replied that there weren't any.

"I set out to prove her wrong," Blockson said. Among his first purchases were the books "Up from Slavery" by Booker T. Washington, "God's Trombones" by James Weldon Johnson and a biography of George Washington Carver. As he grew older, Blockson's hunts for books at the Salvation Army and Goodwill led to searches at more rarefied shops. He recalled a bookstore where he would hide volumes he couldn't afford in hopes they would still be there when he saved up the money.

At Penn State University, where his starring roles on the football and track teams earned him the nickname "Blockbuster," his friends did not understand his passion. "People used to say, `What are you collecting those old books for?'" Blockson recalled. After graduating in 1956, he turned down an offer to play football with the New York Giants and briefly entered the military. His continual collecting and research helped him become an expert on the Underground Railroad; he wrote several books, lectured around the world and met historical figures including Rosa Parks, Langston Hughes and Malcolm X.

Blockson worked as a teacher beginning in 1970. About 13 years later, he gave his collection to Temple and began serving as its curator. The fact that it's at a mainstream university makes it unique among large black historical collections, said Michele Gates Moresi, curator of collections at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Many prominent collections are at historically black colleges, such as Howard University's Moorland-Spingarn Research Center in Washington, D.C., she said.

"With the heart of the black community in North Philly, it was a perfect place for it," he said of his decision to house the collection at Temple. Blockson also recently donated thousands of items to the Penn State library, which plans to open the Charles L. Blockson Room in April. There is some overlap with the Temple collection, which emphasizes black history in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, but the Penn State items more broadly document the African Diaspora, said Nancy Eaton, dean of Penn State libraries.

Scholars are lucky that Blockson began collecting when he did, said F. Keith Bingham, archivist at historically black Cheyney University near Philadelphia. Many items in the collection might not be available now or would be prohibitively expensive, he said. Last fall, the University of South Carolina paid $35,000 for a first-edition book by black poet Phillis Wheatley, a slave who once read her work in the presence of George Washington. Blockson said he paid a sliver of that when he acquired his copy 40 years ago.

Today, his collection includes valuable books, pamphlets, posters, taped interviews, artwork and more than 500,000 photographs. Among the rare acquisitions: a copy of Dale Carnegie's "Lincoln the Unknown." The book's jacket has a patch of tanned skin from a black man, which is embossed with the title.

Before retiring at the end of 2006, Blockson lobbied for more room for the collection because it had outgrown its space in Sullivan Hall. Turner, who took over as curator in September, oversaw the move to a larger space in the building. Visitors are greeted by "The Lantern Holder," a type of statue Blockson said indicated safe homes on the Underground Railroad. "It serves as the sentinel to the collection ... to guide people in," he said. Those who follow it can ask to read a copy of Blockson's own autobiography: "Damn Rare: Memoirs of an African-American Bibliophile."

Picture: Curator Diane Turner, right, talks on the phone as workers move books from the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection to a different location at Temple University in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008. The collection contains over 30,000 historical items, some dating to the 16th century. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

On the Net:


Biographical Information: The grandson of an escaped slave, historian Blockson has compiled and edited 47 first-person accounts of blacks who stole their way to freedom via the harrowing stratagems and hidden routes generically called the underground railroad. Few of the accounts will be new to students of the rich lode of ex-slaves' narratives; but Blockson brings to bear years of work as the curator of Temple University's Afro-American Collection and his earlier mapping of routes in a National Geographic article. His focus on the emotion and uncertainty of escape makes this work a handy primer on the pain, daring, and drama of the slaves' flight. For Afro-American and antebellum collections. Thomas J. Davis, SUNY at Buffalo, Reed Business Serives

CWL: Blockson's The Undeground Railroad and African Americans in Pennsylvania: Above Ground and Underground : An Illustrated Guide
are the standards in the field for school, undergraduate, and public libraries.

The Underground Railroad is a fascinating collection of letters, diaries and narratives of slaves, with accompanying historical notes and photographs. African Americans in Pennsylvania: Above Ground and Underground: An Illustrated Guide is an encycopedia/biographical dictionary of African Americans and their communities during the mid-19th century. Adams County's Yellow Hill, which was the refuge of many African-Americans during the Battle of Gettysburg about 8 miles to the south, is discussed.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gary Gallagher: Save the Aisle Seat


Gary Gallagher, prolific author and editor of American Civil War books, current University of Virginia and former Penn State University history professor, likes some movies, doesn't like others.

Glory (1989) *****
A moving depiction of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry and its colonel, Robert Gould Shaw.

Pharaoh’s Army (1995) ****½
A very satisfying small film about the impact of the war on one backwoods Kentucky family.

The General (1926; silent) ****
Buster Keaton’s masterful treatment of an 1862 incident in north Georgia.

The Red Badge of Courage (1951) ****
John Huston’s adaptation of Stephen Crane’s classic novella.

Gone With the Wind (1939) ****
The most-watched Civil War film in history, based on Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling novel.

The Andersonville Trial (1970) ***½
Directed by George C. Scott, focuses on the war crimes trial of a prisoner-of-war camp commander.

Gettysburg (1993) ***½
Ron Maxwell’s adaptation of Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels.

Ride With the Devil (2000) ***
A flawed but worthwhile examination of the vicious guerrilla war in Missouri and Kansas.

Cold Mountain (2003) *
A gripping opening quickly gives way to a remarkably silly treatment of the war in North Carolina.

Gods and Generals (2003) *
Slow-moving and confusing to anyone but Civil War buffs.


CWL and the aisle seat: CWL and Gallagher agree except for Cold Mountain, which needs to be taken on its own terms: a romance in an historical setting. Gods and Generals is hagiography and is the next best thing to actually being at the shrine to Jackson's arm and reading portions of Old Testament's Book of Psalms. CWL thinks Gallagher overrates Gone With the Wind by at least a star; it, like Cold Mountain, is a romance with an historical setting. And where is Birth of a Nation? High on my list. Of course, are we rating entertainment, storytelling, or illustrated history lessons?

Gary Gallagher On Glory, Gone With The Wind, Pharoah's Army, Shenandoah, Gettysburg, Gods and Generals, Dances With Wolves and More

Shades of Blue and Gray: The Civil War In Art and Film, Lee Graves, University Of Virginia Archives Magazine, Fall 2006.

In 1966, young Gary Gallagher went to the Rialto Theater in his hometown of Alamosa, Colo., to see the film Shenandoah. He sat through it three times. "I bought my ticket, sat down and I didn’t leave the theater for six hours," Gallagher says. "I was just transfixed."

He already was immersed in Civil War history. Since the age of 9, he’d read every book within reach. Fresh in his memory was a tour of battlefields in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania he’d made with his mother and grandmother in 1965. And now, he was watching Jimmy Stewart bring the smoke and swirl of history to the big screen. At the time, he thought the film was wonderful. Now, he thinks it’s wretched.

"But it made me think about how much of an impact these films have, and they often have an impact on people who don’t go back and look at them again," he says. "That becomes part of their Civil War baggage." Gallagher, the John L. Nau III Professor of the American Civil War at U.Va., still is fascinated by the impact of film and how people’s perceptions are both reflected in and shaped by images. He uses films in his Civil War class to illustrate how Hollywood’s treatment of the war and public perceptions have changed over the decades. "A movie like Glory would have been unthinkable at the time that Gone With the Wind came out," Gallagher says.

This summer, he was completing a book examining the Civil War in modern films and other visual arts, particularly the artwork advertised in major Civil War magazines. The book, as yet untitled, is the latest in a stack of works that Gallagher has produced since coming to the Univeristy of Virginiaa. in 1998. He’s written three other books on the Civil War and co-authored or edited six more. Previously, he was head of the history department at Penn State, where he was influential in helping start a national Civil War preservation group and coordinating conferences that reached beyond the academic community.

Understanding the Civil War and how it is depicted, he believes, informs our understanding of the present. "I think it is by far the most important event in United States history. It’s a time when America grappled with questions fundamental to what kind of nation this is, what kind of nation it would be. The questions they grappled with … are ones we’re still dealing with," he says. Gallagher’s current book breaks ground by taking a scholarly look at how the Civil War is presented and received in certain facets of popular culture. He uses four interpretive traditions developed by the generation that experienced the war to frame the points of reference in his research: the Lost Cause, the Union Cause, the Emancipation Cause and the Reconciliation Cause.

The Lost Cause tradition, which developed largely in writings after the war and had perhaps its most enduring cinematic rendering in Gone With the Wind, portrays the Civil War as a noble Confederate struggle for states’ rights against overwhelming odds and limitless resources. Remember this scene? Rhett Butler tells Scarlett O’Hara, after delivering her and her cousin from the flames of Atlanta, that he plans to enlist: "I’m going to join up with our brave lads in gray," he says. "I’ve always had a weakness for lost causes, once they’re really lost."

Cut to Denzel Washington in Glory. The 1989 film depicts the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, an all-black regiment formed in 1863. Washington portrays Pvt. Trip, a free-spirited volunteer who leaves camp against orders to find a decent pair of boots. Despite the reservations of other officers, the regiment’s commander, Col. Robert Gould Shaw, orders Trip to be flogged. Everyone winces when the former slave’s shirt is peeled, revealing a mat of scars from previous whippings. Thus, the Emancipation Cause—the interpretive tradition that emphasizes the abolition of slavery as central to the Civil War—finds its most searing image in film.

That treatment makes Glory not only exceptional in cinematic terms but also important from a historical perspective. The red welt of race still is tender to the touch in modern America, and only a few modern films depict slavery as a fundamental cause of the war. They do it well, however.

"As a group, these films show that the Emancipation Cause, which was the least embraced of the four coming out of the Civil War, is the one that is best understood by Hollywood," Gallagher says. And coming to terms with slavery is vital to understanding the Civil War. Slaves represented a $3 billion investment in property, more substantial than any other element of the economy at the time. "The people who controlled the most wealth in the United States were slaveholders. And that’s something people are often surprised to hear," Gallagher says. "The idea that anything else would cause states to leave the Union—that’s someone who isn’t in touch with reality."

While Hollywood has found some success articulating that cause, it has given little voice to the Union Cause. This interpretive tradition represents the preservation of the Union—a litmus test of a young democracy—as the primary motivation for war. It has been less visible as well in the artwork of Civil War magazines in recent decades. Gallagher and three graduate students cataloged advertisements for artwork from 1962 to 2003 in three magazines: Civil War Times Illustrated, Blue and Gray and North and South. "I’m not pretending this is a scientific way to come at it, but I do believe artists place ads for the paintings and sculpture they believe will sell best," he says. The market for such magazines and artwork exploded when interest in the Civil War underwent a renaissance in the 1980s, thanks to Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on the war; the popularity of Michael Shaara’s novel The Killer Angels; the film it spawned, Gettysburg; and other factors.

Gallagher’s research shows the Confederacy winning the artwork wars by a 3-1 margin. More than 1,630 ads during that time had a Confederate theme; 544 were Union and 333 shared. "The Lost Cause emphasis has become more pronounced since the 1960s," Gallagher says. That trend represents a reshuffling of traditions. The Union Cause, pre-eminent in the years following the war, has been eclipsed by the Lost Cause.
Complex factors underlie the trend. Gallagher speculates that artwork allows people to express an affinity for the Confederacy and Lost Cause figures in the privacy of their homes, whereas displaying a Confederate flag or other symbol in public would stir controversy.

Also, renewed interest in the war reinvigorated the romantic appeal of the Confederacy and the power of the Lost Cause’s portrayal of heroic underdogs waging a noble campaign. "That is very appealing to people, and not just in the Civil War. There is something about a loser who loses with some style, and Lee certainly lost with style," Gallagher says. Gen. Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and beloved icon of the Confederacy during the war, enjoys enduring popularity. His image dominated 300 ads, far ahead of Gen. Stonewall Jackson, who held the No. 2 spot with 137 ads.

The Last Meeting of Lee and Jackson
Oil on canvas by Everett B.D.F. Julio, 1869
Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Va.

Among the most famous images to come out of the war was the 1869 painting by Everett B.D.F. Julio of Lee and Jackson meeting for the final time before Jackson was mortally wounded at Chancellorsville. Lee, his right hand in a gesture of authority, sits tall and straight riding Traveller while Jackson listens intently and Little Sorrel paws the earth like a charger eager for battle. Modern artists such as Mort Kunstler have interpreted the scene as well. Kunstler’s version of their last meeting shows Lee standing on the ground, Jackson mounted and the two flanked by Confederate troops with battle flags waving. The moment is mesmerizing for many reasons.

"It’s the high-water mark of the Confederacy in Lost Cause lore because it captures Lee and Jackson at the peak of their powers. Everything is possible. Gettysburg is still before them," Gallagher says. Lee’s stature in particular provided a rallying point for Lost Cause writers. It focused attention on battles in the east, where Bull Run, Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg still stand as monuments to Confederate military success, as opposed to the west, where the Union scored victories at Shiloh and Vicksburg. Far below Lee on the magazine list, with 39 ads, was Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, the man who won the battles that won the war and was elected to two consecutive terms as president of the United States. He was so popular in his day that roughly 1 million people attended his funeral in 1885, and another million showed up when his tomb was dedicated 12 years later.

"Grant was a gigantic figure in the late 19th century," Gallagher says. "We have almost completely lost a sense of his stature." Much of that is due to Lost Cause writers who excoriated Grant for scandals during his administration and the high death toll among his troops during the war. The latter is unfair, Gallagher contends, because Grant’s heavy casualties were comparatively less horrendous than Lee’s. Now, the most popular Union soldier, judging by the ads, is Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. A professor of rhetoric at Bowdoin College in Maine, he led the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment. His wartime exploits ranged from Antietam to Appomattox, but his fame rests largely on the defense of Little Round Top on the second day of the battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The men of Maine held down the far left flank of the Union line against repeated Confederate assaults.

The movie Gettysburg gives that engagement a co-starring role—second only to Pickett’s charge—and a stirring conclusion with a historically accurate bayonet charge down the slopes. Chamberlain, played by Jeff Daniels, is portrayed a bit less accurately as a hero whose actions saved the army during the decisive battle of the war. "He was one of many, many effective regimental commanders at Gettysburg on the Union side. He did not stand out in that crowd at the time," Gallagher says. Chamberlain and his men have speeches in the movie that touch on the Union Cause and its tangent, the Reconciliation Cause, which looks beyond the other interpretive traditions to emphasize the nation’s ability to rise above its factions and endure as a people.

One of the film’s memorable Maine characters is an Irishman, and Gallagher has found that the Irish hold a special place in modern Civil War artwork. The Irish Brigade had a reputation for heroic but costly assaults. During the horror of Antietam, for example, the Union brigade earned a bloody badge of courage advancing its green flag under hot fire. Historian Bruce Catton captures the scene: "The Irishmen went charging … with savage power, the oncoming Confederate line halted to meet them, and on the open field there was a terrible shock of point-blank fire too hot for any troops to endure for long."

Their commander, Gen. Thomas Meagher, rallied the troops in a memorable moment. "[He] stood up in his stirrups, raised his sword high, and shouted over all the battle thunder: ‘Boys! Raise the colors and follow me!’ The green flags went tossing up and onward, the Irishmen cheered again, and the Rebels slowly fell back into the sunken road," Catton writes. Though Gallagher jokes that the Irish Brigade’s flag provides artists with a rare opportunity to use the color green in their work, the unit has found major roles in the paintings of Kunstler, Don Troiani, Dale Gallon and other prominent Civil War artists.

Kunstler captured the Antietam scene in a painting titled Raise the Colors and Follow Me, where the Irish green and Old Glory’s red, white and blue are resplendent amid the smoke and carnage. Flags play a prominent role in modern Civil War art, Gallagher discovered in his research. Paintings produced during or immediately after the war often lacked regimental colors or battle flags. But Kunstler, Troiani and others give them conspicuous display, perhaps to underline a sense of identity that wasn’t necessary in the war’s immediate aftermath.

The popularity of Confederate flags in art contrasts with mounting criticism of public displays in recent years. It illustrates a fascinating paradox with the Lost Cause tradition, which has shaped so many people’s attitudes for so long. "The worm is turning on the Lost Cause in the public forum," Gallagher says. "But in private ways—and I would put art in there—it still is thriving.

"For some people, art is a way to engage with a strong sense of identity with the Confederacy in a fashion that isn’t going to provoke any confrontation with anybody. It’s a safe way to celebrate the Confederate past." Not just white Southerners buy the art, either. Doctors, lawyers and other professionals in New York, Connecticut and other Northern strongholds sport images of Lee, Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart and George Pickett on their walls.

They’re also paying for films that don’t always show the North in flattering terms. In movies such as Dances with Wolves and Cold Mountain, the Union Cause suffers greatly. "[Kevin] Costner in Dances with Wolves has to get as far away from it as possible and cleanse himself among the Native Americans," Gallagher observes. "And yet these are the soldiers who saved the Union and made emancipation possible. It’s just fascinating to me how they are portrayed so negatively in most of the movies." Gallagher sees a post-Vietnam syndrome at work. Hollywood treats the Union army much as it depicted the American presence in Vietnam: "It’s a menacing juggernaut that wreaks havoc wherever it goes."

Perhaps the most reconciliationist presentation on the big screen has been Gettysburg. The valor of Chamberlain’s stand and his speeches about the ideals of democracy and preserving the Union share nearly equal time with Pickett’s charge and speeches that the Confederate cause follows the principles held sacred by the nation’s founding fathers.

Though Gallagher doesn’t pretend to be an art or movie critic, he is a film buff, and he has some favorites. Pharaoh’s Army, starring Kris Kristofferson, Chris Cooper and Patricia Clarkson, is among them. The 1995 movie, a gritty look at conflicting loyalties in the mountains of Kentucky, came to Gallagher’s attention in an odd way. A student in one of his classes, Will A. Lucas (Col ’03), recommended it, adding that he just happened to have a prominent role in the film (Lucas plays the son of Clarkson, whose husband is off fighting with Confederate troops).

Gallagher gives top marks to Glory as the best Civil War film. "I think it’s the best acted. I think it gets all the big things right. It gets a lot of little things wrong, but they don’t really matter. "I’ve seen it maybe a dozen times or more, but I still get tears in my eyes at different points. I just think it’s a powerful, compelling movie." Gods and Generals, based on the novel by Jeff Shaara (whose father, Michael, received a Pulitzer Prize for The Killer Angels) does a good job portraying the piety and eccentricity of Stonewall Jackson. Martin Sheen’s Robert E. Lee is too passive in Gettysburg, says Gallagher, but the film nails its characterization of George Pickett as an affable, spirited chap who is not the most luminous bulb among Lee’s lieutenants. His boyish glee at the outset of the famous charge and his heartfelt despair at the casualties ring true. Unfortunately, Gettysburg doesn’t have the staying power of Glory for Gallagher. "I hear the music, and I start to get jittery and flee," he says. Like Shenandoah, he’s seen it one time too many.


Forthcoming: Hollywood Vs. The American Civil War

Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War, Gary W. Gallagher, University of North Carolina Press, 256 pp, March 2008, $28.00.

More than 60,000 books have been published on the Civil War. Most Americans, though, get their ideas about the war—why it was fought, what was won, what was lost—not from books but from movies, television, and other popular media. In an engaging and accessible survey, renowned Civil War historian Gary Gallagher guides readers through the stories told in recent film and art, showing how they have both reflected and influenced the political, social, and racial currents of their times. Too often these popular portrayals overlook many of the very ideas that motivated the generation that fought the war. The most influential perspective for the Civil War generation, says Gallagher, is almost entirely absent from the Civil War stories being told today.

Gallagher argues that popular understandings of the war have been shaped by four traditions that arose in the nineteenth century and continue to the present: the Lost Cause, in which Confederates are seen as having waged an admirable struggle against hopeless odds; the Union Cause, which frames the war as an effort to maintain a viable republic in the face of secessionist actions; the Emancipation Cause, in which the war is viewed as a struggle to liberate 4 million slaves and eliminate a cancerous influence on American society; and the Reconciliation Cause, which represents attempts by northern and southern whites to extol "American" virtues and mute the role of African Americans.

Gallagher traces an arc of cinematic interpretation from one once dominated by the Lost Cause to one now celebrating Emancipation and, to a lesser degree, Reconciliation. In contrast, the market for art among contemporary Civil War enthusiasts reflects an overwhelming Lost Cause bent. Neither film nor art provides sympathetic representations of the Union Cause, which, Gallagher argues, carried the most weight in the Civil War era.

This lively investigation into what popular entertainment teaches us and what it reflects about us will prompt readers to consider how we form opinions on current matters of debate, such as the use of the military, the freedom of dissent, and the flying of the Confederate flag.

Gary W. Gallagher is John L. Nau III Professor of History at the University of Virginia and author or editor of numerous books, including Lee and His Army in Confederate History and The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864. Gallagher has also authored, with Alan Nolan, The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History. Additionally, Gallagher in noted for Lee and His Army in Confederate History.

New On CWL's Bookshelf: Jackson's MD, Balls Bluff And Crimean War Novel

Lucky me! Only 4.5 hours west of Gettysburg! We left on a cold cloudy Friday and returned on a cold cloudy Sunday; we were happy to have no blowing snow on the Pennyslvania turnpike in the Appalachian Mountains. The Brafferton Inn once again provided comfortable quarters and a delicious (skip a lunch) breakfast. Of course, there is always bookshopping to do.

I dropped in to the Farnsworth House bookstore to pick up the most recent issue of Gettysburg Magazine and also found a well-priced copy of Jim Morgan's A Little Short of Boats which I had been hoping to add to the personal bookshelf for a while. The Gettysburg Magazine, now owned and edited by Andy Turner, has retained the quality of the first 35 issues and has begun to publish some very attractive photography by the magazine readers and Turner himself.

Another necessary visit is The Antique Center on Baltimore Street right off the square. A couple of thousand books are marked 50% the retail price. I found a copy of John W. Schildt's Hunter Holmes Maguire: Stonewall Jackson's Doctor for $7.50 in paperback and Making and Remaking Pennsylvania's Civil War ,edited by William Blair, in hardcover for $15.

I also stopped in at Gallery 30 on York Street right off the square and picked up Will Hutchinson's Follow Me To Glory, a novel of the Crimean War. In a failure to control an impluse, I picked up a small print of the McPherson Barn crafted by the pastel artist Jeff Fioravanti. Hutchinson, former Marine, retired Nuclear Regulartory Commission analyst, a Civil War reeanactor with the National Regiment and a Napoleonic Wars enthusiastic researcher, has penned his first novel which reminds of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series.

When not shopping for books, I was pricing percussion caps for the Ninth Pennyslvania Reserves and a Hardee hat for myself at Memories Past and the Regimental Quartermaster. Since I been reading Earl Hess' Pickett's Charge: The Last Charge at Gettysburg, I took the book to the Angle and photgraphed the monuments, with the goal of creating an online flash card database of the monuments that are most likely to be on the Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide exam in December. Send me an email if you have an interest in the flash cards or looking for a study-buddy for the exam.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

News---Gettysburg Town Council Limits Size of Folktellers' Audience, Maybe

Gettysburg Prepares To Limit Walking Tours, Erin James, Evening Sun,02/14/2008

In time for the upcoming tourist season, Gettysburg officials are on schedule to approve an ordinance that places a 26-person limit for guided walking tours in the borough. Controversy about a potential limit - which affects the town's many ghost-tour companies - was sparked last summer, when the borough's public safety committee proposed a 15-person cap.

Objections from the owners of ghost-tour companies prompted the committee to increase that number to 26, including the tour guide. On Monday, the Borough Council gave solicitor Harry Eastman the authority to advertise the ordinance so council can vote on it in March. If the ordinance passes in March, the regulations would be law by April 1, Eastman said.

Despite a lull of several months without action on the ordinance, at least one owner of a ghost-tour company is not bothered by the timing. "We knew it was going to happen," said Mark Nesbitt, owner of the Ghosts of Gettysburg tour company. Nesbitt said he is also satisfied with the limit of 26 people. Last summer, Ghosts of Gettysburg averaged about 25 people per tour, so the tour company probably will not lose money because of the regulation, he said. Smaller tour companies could be affected, however, Nesbitt said.

That's because the ordinance, if passed, would also require company owners to hold liability insurance that includes the borough as an additional insured party - something Nesbitt said will likely pose financial issues for less-established tour companies. Discussion about regulating walking tours began when Baltimore Street residents complained in 2006 about noise, littering and property damage because of a growing number of ghost tours in the borough. At least 13 companies conducted tours in 2006.

Also on Monday, the Borough Council voted to advertise an amendment to another ordinance, which regulates horse-drawn carriages in the borough. As is, the ordinance does not specify the regulations refer specifically to carriage services doing business in the borough. For example, the borough did not mean to regulate Amish buggies, Eastman said.

The amendment designates horse-drawn carriages "for hire" as subject to the regulations. That ordinance could also be voted on in March and become effective by April 1, Eastman said.

Contact Erin James at

Photo: Ghosts of Gettysburg store

News--- GNMP Opens New Visitor Center April 14th

New Museum and Visitor Center At Gettysburg National Military Park Will Open April 14, Katie Lawhon, GNMP Public Relations, February 19, 2008

The Gettysburg Foundation announced today that the new Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park will open to visitors at 8 a.m. on Monday, April 14, 2008. "We want this new Gettysburg experience to inspire visitors about the past, to encourage them to want to learn more about the events that have shaped our country and, in the process, to become better citizens," said Robert C. Wilburn, president of the Gettysburg Foundation. "The new Museum and Visitor Center is designed to meet visitors' expectations of a 21st-century museum. At the same time, we want to tell the story of the Battle of Gettysburg, within the context of the causes and consequences of the Civil War, in a way that showcases the Battlefield. And we want to encourage people to extend their stays and return more often."

The new museum will better prepare visitors to walk the sacred ground of
the Gettysburg battlefield and see it through the soldiers' eyes," said John Latschar, superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park. To date, the Foundation has secured more than $105 million toward its $125 million Campaign to Preserve Gettysburg. Funds from the campaign are being used to build, furnish and operate the new Museum and Visitor Center, to preserve the park's extensive collection of Civil War artifacts and archives, including the massive Cyclorama painting, to support battlefield rehabilitation and preservation programs, including the return of Ziegler's Grove to its 1863 appearance, to improve the visitor experience at Gettysburg, and to create an endowment to support future preservation and maintenance needs.

Park curatorial staff has begun moving objects and artifacts into the collection storage area on the lower level. Staff from the Foundation is moving into the administrative offices at the new Museum and Visitor Center this week. National Park Service staff will make the move into the new facilities from their offices in the Visitor Center on Taneytown Road just prior to the mid-April opening.

Gettysburg Foundation: Dru Anne Neil, 717-253-5786
Gettysburg National Military Park: Katie Lawhon, 717-334-1124, ext. 452

Other Voices---Charles Teague, Gettysburg NMP Ranger Reviews Latest Book On Stuart in Gettysburg Campaign

Jeb Stuart and the Confederate Defeat at Gettysburg, Warren C. Robinson, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. xii + 198 pp., figures, maps, notes, bibliography, index. $24.95 (cloth)

Review for H-CivWar by Charles Teague, Gettysburg National Military Park

The Contention That Followed Conflict

Beyond his expertise in population studies, Warren C. Robinson, professor emeritus of economics at Penn State, reveals in his recent book a sideline fascination of one of the enduring controversies of the Civil War. To what extent did General James Ewell Brown (Jeb) Stuart contribute to Robert E. Lee's stunning loss in the Battle of Gettysburg?

As Robinson explains, the issue has been "debated endlessly, and the literature itself is a battleground" (p. ix). He shows a comfortable familiarity with not only contemporaneous accounts but also the assessment of historians. Reading his book gives the reader the desire to join him in furthering this lively debate.

Before grappling with tactical issues, Robinson contrasts the temperaments of the army commander and his cavalry commander, who effectively worked together prior to the Gettysburg campaign. He notes that this lieutenant of Lee proudly held two identities, Stuart "the cavalry general" and Stuart "the raider." Not appreciating that in this campaign the second role had to be subordinate would become a failing for the famed cavalier.

Robinson goes beyond the typical analysis by putting Lee's orders in context and offering valuable perspectives. In June 1863, both Lee and Stuart erred: "Lee did not give precise, to-the-point orders and was wrong to trust Stuart, but Stuart knowingly stretched his orders to the limit" (p. xi). The consequences were enormous as Lee's trusted lieutenant departed with the finest three cavalry brigades, leaving behind a brigadier of "dubious reliability" to oversee the remaining troopers (p. 149). The bulk of the study considers the extended ride Stuart took that separated him for over one week from the rest of the army. Robinson notes that the exhausting ride amazingly "covered a total of 210 miles in eight days, for an average of twenty-six miles a day"(p. 109). The horses were utterly fagged, and the troopers so fatigued that some fell out of the saddle still asleep.

Stuart did not arrive at Gettysburg until late in the second day of battle, and thereafter attempted a strenuous yet disappointing attack. For generations, the accusation has been bandied about that Stuart acted vaingloriously and beyond the scope of his orders, thus frustrating Lee's intention to win a decisive battle. For example, Major Charles Marshall, an aide-de-camp for Lee, argued that Stuart should have been court-martialed.[1] In marked contrast, famed Confederate raider Major John Singleton Mosby responded with a spirited defense of his champion.[2] So much passion was poured into the ongoing dispute that it has made for what Robinson aptly calls "jumbled history" (p. 63).

Stuart's bold gambit in riding around the enemy army created a dilemma for Lee. Robinson is on point quoting Baron Antoine-Henri de Jomini, "'How can any man decide what he should do himself, if he is ignorant of what his enemy is about?'" (p. 118). Lee lost his eyes in approaching what he hoped would be the decisive battle of the war. As a consequence, Lee hesitated. "'The loss of time is irreparable in war,'" Napoleon is quoted as saying, "'space we can recover, time never'" (p. 94). But who was to blame here? That is the fundamental question Robinson tackles.

Robinson wisely devotes a significant amount of text explaining the terrain in the operational theater. He includes a helpful map identifying key gaps in the mountains (though it would have been even better to specify possible river crossings and federal corps positions at critical moments, for these also framed the options available to Stuart). What appears to be a breakthrough of analysis--that Lee really contemplated sending Stuart northward along the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, not, as is commonly assumed, east of the Bull Run Mountains--falters because the author ignores a major piece of evidence(one that he cites in another context). Robinson concludes that Lieutenant James Longstreet erred when he said that Lee spoke of Stuart leaving via Hopewell Gap and passing the rear of the enemy farther east.

The author declares that Longstreet "was the only one who mentioned Hopewell Gap" (p. 88). That is not true. Stuart's after action report reveals that he "submitted to the commanding general the plan of ...passing through Hopewell or some other gap in the Bull Run Mountains, attain the enemy's rear."[3] Lee would not have accepted this report had it been inaccurate. Longstreet and Stuart thus both acknowledged that Lee had envisioned Stuart maneuvering east of the Bull Run Mountains.

Another important assertion in the book is that "nothing" in Lee's orders to Stuart suggested that he had permission to repeat what he had done twice before in undertaking a disrupting ride around the Yankee army (p. 77). Yet, there was something. Lee explicitly gave discretion to Stuart to "pass around their army without hindrance, doing them all the damage you can."[4] Robinson rightly concludes that this operation did not envision a raid on Washington, but then asserts that "this is what Stuart undertook" (p. 75). Actually, what happened was a race toward the city limits in which Stuart sought to capture fleeing federal wagons. Washington was never within the scope of any intended raid. And, Robinson overlooks the significant fact that this supply train contained desperately needed feed and fodder for Stuart's horses.

As the campaign then developed, Robinson makes several other assertions that seem unsupported by evidence. "By June 22," he declares, "all [federal] doubt about Lee's movements had been removed" (p. 26). Yet, uncertainty was certainly evident the next day in Washington in the mind of General H. W. Halleck, who sent identical warnings to diverse locations: Harrisburg, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cumberland, Maryland.[5] As late as June 25, Major General George Gordon Meade frankly acknowledged his sense that Lee's object "is not yet clearly developed."[6] Robinson also declares that on June 28, "Meade was shadowing Lee, but he was not thinking offensively" (p. 31). Yet, Meade wrote to his wife that he was moving at once against Lee, going "straight at" the Army of Northern Virginia to "settle this thing one way or the other."[7] Meade was contemplating all options, offensive and defensive. And, Robinson does not give Meade the credit for promoting the "boy brigadiers" of cavalry, implying that it was his predecessor in command, Major General Joseph Hooker (pp. 144-45). Then, there is the author's assertion that "the Union commanders (Hooker and then Meade) ... expected a battle to take place roughly when and where it did and made their dispositions accordingly" (p. 32). That statement ignores Hooker's plan to cut Lee off in the Cumberland Valley and Meade's hopes that Pipe Creek in Maryland would become the field of battle.

Once Robinson explains Stuart's tardy arrival at Gettysburg, the controversial assertions in the book multiply. He describes Hunterstown as "a completely accidental cavalry skirmish," though Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer was acting under orders to disrupt the movement of rebel cavalry (p. 130). That Stuart's cavalry the following morning "left camp and began moving" in the "early afternoon" on July 3 is incorrect; it was earlier that morning (p. 135).[8]

To declare that the Yankees had three brigades of Union cavalry positioned in just the right place to intercept Stuart is misleading, for most of Irvin Gregg's Brigade had just left its position for the Baltimore Pike and Taneytown Road. A more careful and extensive consideration of Stuart's actions once he did reach Gettysburg would have been beneficial.

Other errors have crept into the text. For example, Robinson begins his analysis of the campaign with two surprising assertions. First, he states that the rebel army "had never been so strong ... a total of some 75,000 men," yet when Lee initially took command of the army during the Peninsula campaign it was some ninety thousand strong (p. 15). He declares that Lee began his movement toward the Shenandoah Valley on June 9, though Lee explained that the initial move in the campaign began June 3.[9] Furthermore, Martinsburg was not a river crossing. It was the Bureau of Military Information, not of "Intelligence" (pp. 25, 124).

Jenkins did not move with Early into York. And, his brigade while at East Cavalry Field was actually under the tactical control of Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Witcher. More of an issue is the author's description of Farnsworth's Charge as "pointless," when there was an expressed purpose--"futile" is perhaps what he means (p. 132). And, in like fashion, Stuart's firing the shots that preceded the cavalry action on
July 3, however foolish, was not "pointless"--though arguments rage as to which of several possibilities he intended (p. 135).

Robinson is on target in crediting David Gregg for superb command against Stuart, a role other historians have not often addressed. The book's major conclusions are solid as to why Lee undertook the campaign and the results he expected: "He was seeking not just a victory but a climactic triumph" (p. 13). Both Lee and Stuart shared in the responsibility that made Gettysburg such a huge disappointment for their cause. Despite a surprising number of inaccurate details, this is an engrossing and insightful book for those desiring to better appreciate this great battle.


[1]. Major Charles Marshall, February 24, 1887, quoted in David Gregg McIntosh, unpublished manuscript, David Gregg McIntosh Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond.

[2]. Major John Singleton Mosby, "The Confederate Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign," in _Battles and Leaders of the Civil War_ (New York: Century, 1887), 3:251-252.

[3]. Major General J. E. B. Stuart, August 20, 1863, _War of the Rebellion Official Reports_, vol. 27, pt. 2 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1889), 692.

[4]. General Robert E. Lee, June 23, 1863, Message to Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart, _War of the Rebellion Official Reports_, vol. 27, pt. 3, 923.

[5]. Major General H. W. Halleck, June 23, 1863, messages to Major General Robert C. Schenk, Major General Darius N. Couch, Major General W.T.H. Brooks, and Brigadier General Benjamin F. Kelley, _War of the Rebellion Official Reports_, vol. 27, pt. 3, 275-276.

[6]. Major General George Gordon Meade, June 25, 1863, to his wife in George Gordon Meade, ed., _The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade_ (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1913), 1:387.

[7]. Major General George Gordon Meade, June 29, 1863, to his wife, George Gordon Meade, _With Meade at Gettysburg_, (Philadelphia: MOLLUS War Library and Museum, 1930), 32-36.

[8]. Stuart said it was in the "morning." Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart, August 20, 1863, _War of the Rebellion Official Reports_, vol. 27, pt. 2, 697. His statement was confirmed in the report of Brigadier-General Wade Hampton, August 6, 1863, Ibid., 724.

[9]. General Robert E. Lee, July 31, 1863, _War of the Rebellion Official Reports_, vol. 27, pt. 2, 305.

Source: (February 2008)

Photographs: From top--

East Cavalry Field from the Union artillery positions near the Hanover Road. Rummel Woods and the Rummel Farm is in the distance to the left. SourceGettysburg NMP

The Rummel Farm from the Confederate artillery positions. Stuart directed his attack from this vicinity, against Union troops to the south. Source: Gettysburg NMP

Stuart's artillery positions on Confederate Avenue in Rummel Woods. Source: Gettysburg NMP

The Gregg Cavalry Shaft Monument. It was here where Stuart's column and the 1st Michigan Cavalry violently collided on July 3. Source: Gettysburg NMP

Monday, February 18, 2008

Off Topic Novels----Cormac McCarthy's Desolate Dixie

The Orchard Keeper and Outer Darkness, Cormac McCarthy, 1965 and 1973, Vintage Books, $14.95 each

Cormac McCarthy, a novelist with about 30 years of fiction writing on his resume, has moved into the cultural limelight with his last two novels: No Country For Old Men and The Road, the former having become a heavily award nominated film and the later having been chosen by Oprah for her bookclub. His obscure first two novels are both similar and different from the last two that have made newspapers' entertainment page headline news.

The Orchard Keeper and Outer Darkness are set in Appalachian Dixie during the 1920s and 1930s. A topsoil erosion that includes the spirit and morality sweeps the farms into the rivers and the farmers into the sediment. The communities that once were organized by seasonal agriculture are losing their cohesiveness due to the displacement of men by the war and the Great Depression. The movement from a subsistence farm economy to a credit-wit--debt economy is corrosive to the land and the farmer. In the final pages of The Orchard Keeper, the author declares that the mountain farmers have fled or been banished and that they have left no ghosts that linger on the dilapidated farms. The independent farmers, hunters, and moonshiners who are emblematic of the South have been exiled and their progeny are dimwits who accidently break a cow's neck by trying to pull it with a tractor or stupidly burn oxen in order to get them to work.

Violence lingers as the communities and the soil erode; hope lingers even as the essential elements of the mountains are destroyed. But, the land will heal itself if left undisturbed. After reading these two Faulkner-esque novels, the Civil War librarian recommends Wendell Berry's The Gift of a Good Land or his collected essays.

There are no obvious or easy moral lessons in McCarhy's first two novels; they are inscrutable. The reader will look for commas and quotation marks in vain. McCarthy's words on the page appear to be epic poems: the descriptions are dazzling for several paragraphs but a degree of numbness can set in during a ten to twenty page reading. Just what the hell are these characters doing and why are they doing it? Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain is a tale of a hero on a quest through the Appalachians for love, devotion and personal surrender; Charles McCarthy's first two novels are tales of the sons and daughters of heroes whose treasures of land and wisdom have been swept away and their present has very little sound or fury and signifys nothing except extinction. Yet the land will remain and heal itself.

Suggested Readings: 'The Lay of the Land in Cormac McCarthy's Appalachia', K.W. Berry in Cormac McCarthy: New Directions edited by James D. Lilley, University of New Mexico Press, pp 47-73 and Sacred Violence: Cormace McCarthy's Appalachian Works, Rick Wallick and Wade Hall, editors, University of University of Texas (El Paso) Press, 2002.

Other Voices---Digging Prisons

Several years ago, Archaelogy magazine published David Bush's account of a Civil War prison on Johnson's Island in Ohio ("Doing Time," July/August 1999), followed by the magazines online exclusive featuring stories, photographs, and diaries provided by descendants of prisoners ("Tales From A Civil War Prison," August 30, 1999).

By the end of the Civil War, more than 400,000 soldiers had become prisoners of war. The camp at Johnson's Island in western Lake Erie was the only Union prison designed expressly for enemy officers. Of the 9,000-plus men held there, some 300 never made it out alive. Men were shot at with little provocation. Those caught trying to escape were shackled and fed only bread and water. The stench from overflowing privies fouled the air, and the rats overrunning the compound became a dietary supplement.

Johnson's Island prisoners were among the educated Southern elite, and they left hundreds of personal accounts of their experiences. The volume of letters, diaries, maps, and drawings is unrivaled by that of any other Civil War prison, North or South. These sources and recent archaeological work tell us how prisoners passed long hours, how they attempted escape, and how they were rewarded for cooperating with their captors.

David R. Bush is an associate professor of anthropology at the Center for Historic and Military Archaeology of Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio. He welcomes copies of any family records relating to former prisoners or guards on Johnson's Island. Bush is thankful for the cooperation of Carl Zipfel, the current owner of the property under excavation.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Off Topic Novel---In Cold Blood, A Non-Fiction Novel?

In Cold Blood, the 1965 bestseller about the murder of the Clutter family and the men who killed them, was labelled a 'nonfiction novel' by its author, Truman Capote. Not a documentary novel and not an historical novel but something new, he felt. It was nonfiction because the author was willing to be held responsible for the content as being factual. It was a novel because he used, like other art forms, evocative scenes, dramatic developments, slightly askew chronology, and a reliance on psychological suspense.

This brushes against Daniel Defoe's Robinson Caruso; Defoe was a fact-checking journalist and popular biography author when he took headline news and elaborated and fictionalized the facts. Interviews, with the interviewer editing himself of the final draft, is a style that worked for Oscar Lewis in The Children of Sanchez and William Faulkner in As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury. After Stephen Crane filed a report to his newspaper editor regarding the sinking of a Cuban gunrunner, he used the facts to generate his short much anthologized story The Open Boat. At times the conventions of journalism are left behind to get at the meaning of the experience.

On the other hand John Hersey's WWII novel, The Wall, is a composition of imagined diaries, journals, notebooks and documents from the inhabitants of Warsaw , and its Jewish Ghetto within the Polish city in order to evoke realism. Hersey, in chosing the August 1945 detonation of an atomic bomb, did not fictionalize the event but used techniques used in fiction writing. Hiroshima uses the voice of each sufferer and entwines it into a single point of view.

Journalism's instincts are to inform and and discuss. Capote infuses into journalism sociological and psychological methods of discovery. Capote exploits the novelistic technique of cross-cutting between the Clutter home and the road trip of the murderers. The two stories are independent until their car is parked in the Clutter driveway; the Clutters know nothing of the strangers and the strangers know nothing of the Clutters except what one other convict has told one of the strangers.
The method of discovery and investigation of the crime is both subtle, church goers stop by the crime scene, and volcanic, the community erupts in fear and suspicion.

One precursor to Capote's 1965 In Cold Blood is J.B. Martin's true crime writing set in Chicago and published in the 1950s. Martin worked in the Police Gazette journalistic environment of the 1940s and 1950s and wrote true crime stories with sociological and psychological insights to the murderers, victims and their communities.

Was Capote the first to write a nonfiction novel? Probably not. Was he the first to claim his writing was uniquely a non-fiction novel? Probably so. He was a thoughful literary marketer with the writing talent to back up his claims. In Cold Blood is a masterful work of description, characterization, suspense, psychology, sociology, pacing and plot/scene development.

CWL recommends the book on audio compact disk from Blackstone Audio and in trade paperback. Having the book read to the listener gives an intimacy to the evocative language of which Capote is a master. The print version will allow the reader to return to the brillant scenes. Also, the film Capote is quite good and provides a visual description of the Clutter farmhouse and the murder, which as an event is places near the very end of the non-fiction novel.

Truman Capote's publications:
Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948, novel)
A Tree of Night and Other Stories (1949, short stories)
Local Color (1950, articles)
The Grass Harp (1951, novel)
The Muses Are Heard (1956, articles)
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958, novel)
Selected Writings (1963, articles)
A Christmas Memory (1966, short stories)
In Cold Blood (1966, novel)
The Thanksgiving Visitor (1968, novel)
The Dogs Bark (1973, articles)
Music for Chameleons (1981, articles)

Source: The Non-Fiction Novel, Wiliiam Weigand, New Mexico Quarterly, Autumn 1967, 37:243-257 and

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

CWL-- On Front and Flank: Henry Hunt's Artillery on July 3rd

"Double Cannister At Ten Yards": The Federal Artillery and the Repulse of Pickett's Charge, David Schultze, Rank and File Publications, 1995, 77 pages, maps, order of battle, notes, and glossary.

David Shultz' slim but well packed volume opens up the sources regarding the issue of the role that the Federal artillery played in the repulse of Longstreet's second assault. General Pickett responded to a query concerning the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg with the statement "The Union army had something to do with it." After reading Shultz's book, I would say that the Union artillery definitely had something to do with it. I would guess that there may have been as many Rebel casualties from artillery shells as there were from infantry musket bullets.

Quickly, but thoroughly for the purpose of the book, Shultz covers the organization of the Cemetery Ridge artillery line: those pieces under the command of McGilvery, those under Hazard, and those under Osborn (with a nod to Wainwright). Stretching from Plum Run, to the Copse of Trees, to Zeigler's Woods and to the cemetery gatehouse, Henry Hunt brought the talent and the tubes together in the right spot at the right time.

Schultz convincingly describes the mortal effect which McGilvery's and Osborn's pieces had on the flanks of the Confederate assault. Also, the devastation of the pieces under Hazard, at the Union center from the Copse of Trees to Ziegler's Grove, is fully described. In detail, Shultz succintly describes the orders of Hunt and the orders of Hancock, their contradictions, and the effect of the contradictions had on the destruction on the Union center. Also, the decision to cease fire on McGilvery's line, withdraw of peices on Osborn's line and the Confederate belief that their artillery had swept the Union pieces off the ridge is presented.

The maps in the book are adequate but having Gettysburg Magazine at hand was helpful. "Double Canister at Ten Yards" also works well with the PCN dvd Gettysburg Battlewalks: Henry Hunt and Cemetery Ridge. As a taker of the Gettysburg LBG exam, I would put this book on the study list.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Walking Gettysburg's Battlefield--Henry Hunt At Cemetery Ridge

Gettysburg Battlewalks: Henry Hunt at Cemetery Ridge, Eric Campbell, Pennsylvania Cable Network, 2 hours, 3 minutes, 2006.

Eric Campbell's rapid delivery holds constant through the course of two hours of both general and detailed facts concering Union artillery on July 3rd. Without a nod to the Culp's Hill action from 4:30a to 11a July 3rd, Campbell's complete focus is upon the Union guns that are facing west: Cemetery Hill, Cemetery Ridge, Plum Run and Little Round Top.

Quickly covering Henry Hunt's career and his Civil War activities to July 1863, Campbell argues that Hunt desired his cannoneers to delivery 12 well aimed shots an hour on visible targets. Most cannoneers wished to send up to three shots a minutes at the enemy. Hunt's desire clashed with Winfield Scott Hancock's orders during the afternoon of July 3rd.

The Cemetery Hill artillery, commanded by Major Thomas Osborn of the 11th Corps, stretched from the cemetery gatehouse to Ziegler's Grove and commanded Seminary Ridge from the McMillian Farm to the Bliss Farm. The Cemetery Ridge artillery, commanded by Captain John Hazzard of the 2nd Corps, was massed between Ziegler's Grove to the Copse of Trees near The Angle. The Plum Run artillery, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Freeman McGilvery of the Artillery Reserve Corps, occupied the Union line from the Copse of Trees to past the Trostle Farm lane.

The placement of the guns by Hunt and his commanders, the delivery of ammunition to the pieces, and reinforcement during the assault was essential to the defeat of Longstreet's second assault. Lee and Longstreet ordered the barrage, which Campbell asserts Lee understood would last only twenty minutes. Most accounts that it lasted about an hour. Campbell does not elaborate difference between what Lee ordered and what Lee got.

The decision to reply to the Confederate bombardment was made by Hancock and against Hunt's orders. Hunt wanted the Rebel assault under long range artillery fire as soon as the troops stepped forward. Hancock's orders diminished the supply of the long range ordinance available for striking the Rebels as they came out of the woods.

The decision to withdraw pieces from Cemetery Ridge and thereby misleading Alexander to conclude that the Federal artillery had been driven away was simultaneously reached by three different generals in three different locations on the battlefield.
Hunt as he rode the Cemetery Ridge line, Osborn on Cemetery Hill and Meade beyond the Taneytown Road. Hunt and Osborn agreed on the withdrawal as a courier from Meade found them and requested the withdrawal.

McGilvery's batteries took Kemper's brigade in their right flank; Osborn's batteries enfiladed Pettigrew's advance. Hazzard's batteries confronted Garnett's and Armisted's brigades head on.

Gettysburg Battlewalks: Henry Hunt at Cemtery Ridge should be viewed with either several issues of Gettysburg Magazine handy or with "Double Canister at Ten Yards": The federal Artillery and the Repulse of Pickett's Charge at hand. Like many of the PCN tours the information delivered is clear, concise and complete within the limits of the dvd format but, unless the viewer is very familiar with the battlefield, the persepective of the PCN camera is limited. The viewer at times wonders just where exactly are the Park Rangers standing while they speak. Campbell has six or seven stops on his tour and he makes the effort to show the audience importance of the terrain and uses 19th century enlarged photographs to show how the tree lines have changed.