Wednesday, December 31, 2008

CWL---Saving the Gettysburg Cyclorama

Saving the Gettysburg Cyclorama, Gettysburg Foundation, DVD, 60 minutes, 2009. $21.95.

You may have seen it before, but never like it is today. In its nearly 125-year history, the 16,000-square-foot, four ton, 125 year old Gettysburg cyclorama- panorama painting has lost about 40% of its canvas. It's moved around the country half a dozen times. It has been burned. It has been cut up. It has painted over. It has been stored under roofs with only three walls.

The Gettysburg Cyclorama has been restored to its original 377 feet long and 43 high is being hyperbolic shape and is now on display at the Gettysburg Military Park's $125 million visitor center, theatre and museum building.

If you saw it in the old visitors center, you saw a flat canvas in a circle. Now, two years and over $11 millions later, the cyclorama painting has two surface cleaning, the wax and glue backing removed, the old patches over tears removed, and the cracks in the paint restored. It now hangs with a slight bow in the canvas, a convex curve that brings center line of sight almost 18 inches closer to the viewer, who does not now stand at the bottom of the painting and looks up but stands on and elevated platform and looks directly at the center of the painting.

This dvd not only pays attention to the preservation procedures but also to the painting's history and the history of panoramic art that was so popular in the mid-19th century. From Pilippoteaux's first visit to the battlefield, his commissioning of photographs to be taken from a tower erected at the Angle, and finally to his team of painters execution of the work, the dvd is a brief but thorough presentation of art, popular culture and preservation science.

Top Image: Newsday

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

CWL--- One Northern County's Civil War: Tremendous Resource, Tremendous Story

Our Honored Dead: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in the American Civil War, Arthur B. Fox, Mechling Bookbindery, photographs, maps, notes, index, bibliography, 486 pages,2008, $39.95.

In Pennsylvania, the cities of Pittsburgh, and Allegheny City and the rest of Allegheny County raised over 200 companies of infantry, cavalry and artillery during the Civil War. Arthur Fox has set forth a clear, complete and very well referenced description Allegheny County's soldiers. With tables of the 1860 and 1870 census, a composite of troop calls, quotas and numbers of Allegheny County and Pennsylvania troops, Fox has find the important numbers for local regional and state researchers as well as social historians. By providing 27 maps that show the cities, boroughs and townships and the major battles at which Allegheny County troops fought, Fox has provided a much needed resource for those not immersed in the military history of the Civil War. Indeed the 71 photographic portraits and drawings embedded in the text insure that the non-Civil War expert will be comfortable with Fox's book.

Readers coming for the first time to mid-19th century history will be pleased to find an entertaining and informative discussion of the county's canals, railroads, newspapers, politics, fire fighting and law enforcement efforts, taverns, horse racing, industries (including the ironworks and the arsenal) and many other things, that form the socio-political environment of the county's' soldiers. Even artists and the 1864 Sanitary Fair are covered in Fox's description of the county.

Fox's treatment of the military companies consists of: dates of enlistment, a biographical description of field officers, the county organization of the regiment, the Allegheny county companies and their captains, the organization of the regiment and its military service, its losses, and its published regimental histories. The book is extensively (35 pages) indexed by subject, personal names, and geographic locations. The bibliography is over 20 pages. Each chapter has its own notes which number 30 to 50. There are 10 appendices regarding; statistics, medal of honor winners, African-American soldiers, generals, Roman Catholic nuns, the payroll of the Allegheny Arsenal which exploded on September 17, 1862, steamships built on the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio River docks in Allegheny, Civil War monuments, and a case study of the veterans of one company, and a list of repositories of Civil War documents.

Because of the wealth of information on Allegheny County, on Pennsylvania, and as a fine model of historic research and writing Our Honored Dead: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in the American Civil War should be added to the collections all Pennsylvania public, academic, and historical society libraries.

Arthur B. Fox is professor of geography and also teaches courses in regional history and popular culture. His 2002 book, Pittsburgh During the American Civil War, 1860-1865 is a standard among Civil War era Northern urban studies. He was a contributing editor to the African-American Historic Sites Survey of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Monday, December 29, 2008

New On The CWL Bookshelf---The Biography of A Writer: Lincoln

Lincoln: A Biography Of A Writer, Fred Kaplan, Harper Publishing, 406pp., annotated bibliography, notes, index, $27.95.

CWL thoroughly enjoys biographies of writers when the biography is written by an historian. Stephen Oates on William Faulkner! David Reynolds on Walt Whitman! William Manchester on H. L. Mencken! And now Fred Kaplan on Lincoln! Though a professor of English, Kaplan has written on Mark Twain, Gore Vidal, Charles Dickens, Henry James and Thomas Carlyle and has treated sources even-handedly, paid attention to the main currents of the writers' eras and has no allegiance to a particular theoretical, psychological or social school of criticism.

What were the elements that shaped Lincoln's imaginative and mental disciplines? How did Lincoln develop his literary style? Lincoln's childhood contained a search for all the books he could lay his hands on. The King James Bible, Shakespeare, Bunyan, Burns, and Byron were among the classics he read as well as a fair sample of popular sentimental and political literature of the times.

Recently much has been made of Obama's study and use of Lincoln's life and works. In both Obama's autobiographies and in the Time magazine interview of 2003, he treats Lincoln was an icon, model, and teacher. From the photograph to the left, it appears that Obama's next excursion into his Lincoln studies will be Fred Kaplan's Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer. CWL is starting on his copy of the biography, which arrived on December 25th.

Top Image Source: Very Well Said

Bottom Image Source: Daylife, Photo Segment from a larger AP Photo by Charles Dharapak. Caption: President-elect Barack Obama, carrying the book "Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer" by Fred Kaplan, leaves the home of friend Penny Pritzker after having dinner in Chicago, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008.

Off Topic Novel---A Novel of Detection Set at West Point, 1830

The Pale Blue Eye, Louis Bayard, $24.95 hardcover, $14.95 softcover, 432pp., Harper Collins, 2006.

At West Point Academy in the autumn 1830 a cadet commits suicide by hanging. While being stored in an icehouse the dead man's heart is removed. West Point neighbor and retired NYC policeman, Augustus Landor is asked by academy adminstrators to discreetly investigate. At risk is the academy's fledgling reputation. Landor enlists the aid of cadet E. A. Poe. Yes, that E. A. Poe who was indeed a West Point cadet at that time. The New Yorker and the Virginia are certainly a different Holmes-Watson pair of investigators.

Landor has his sorrows; both his wife and his daughter died soon after relocating from New York City to the Hudson River Valley. Superintendent Thayer has his priorities. Poe has his metaphors and insider inforamtion on the student body. The trio find themselves confronting a second murder and mutiliation. Clues, codes, and cults are examined and psychological suspense ensues. This reader suspended his disbelief in due time but also found a few outlandish developments that made him wince. But, Bayard's delightfully executed period prose and details were thoroughly enjoyable and returned this reader to his required disbelief. The meticulously described historical setting, the young Poe's literary inspirations, and Lander's veiled confessions provided incentive to bear with the slightly preposterous intrustions from the 1980s, such as the possiblity of a Satanic cult. These intrusions are rare and the plot does not hinge upon them.

Overall, The Pale Blue Eye is enjoyable because the plot hangs together, and the characters of Landor, Poe and Thayer are well described and compelling. The details of Benny Haven's Tavern and West Point's dining and residence halls appear accurate. The main detraction is a cinematically overwrought climax which fortunately is not the conclusion of the novel. Poe is not only a poet but a detective and uncovers the policeman's secrets at the very end.

News---Antietam's Cornfield Yields Grave of New York Soldier

Union Soldier's Remains Found at Antietam, Linda Wheeler, Washington Post, December 28, 2008.

The soldier was just a teenager. Somewhere in New York state, he had signed up to fight for the Union. The band was playing on the day he marched away from home, headed South to to kill those rebels. Everyone said it would be a short war. He'd be home in no time. All of that ended on Sept. 17, 1862 at Antietam when he and his comrades were crossing a farmer's field. A bullet or piece of shrapnel found him. He sagged to the ground and was dead. His buddies moved on; they had to. The fighting was intense. By the end of the day, the battle considered the bloodiest of the war would end with 23,000 casualties.

The next day, under a flag of truce, a Union burial detail began its grim work. Sometime in the next week, the New Yorker was put in a shallow grave near where he fell, but away from the the farmer's plow. He was buried near a limestone outcropping that rippled just above the surface. This was temporary. Either his family or the government would move him to a cemetery and give him a proper burial. No one ever came for him. His grave was overlooked when the Union dead were gathered and moved to the new Antietam National Cemetery, dedicated exactly five years after the battle.

For 146 seasons, crops were planted all around him and even over him if a farmer could make the tight turn at the rocky place, but nothing disturbed his sleep. He could have been there forever, never found and never known except for a ground hog who happened to build a tunnel at that spot. The tunnel was deep, angling down under the limestone. At some point, the tunnel became clogged with debris and the ground hog vigorously kicked it out of the way, flinging it all the way to the surface. It included pieces of tea-colored bone. A visitor who was walking the battlefield in mid-October,strayed off the Corn Field Trail and saw some bones on the ground that he later left at the visitors' center. He didn't give his name, saying only he had found something in a field off the trail, next to an animal hole.

"It was a jaw bone with four teeth attached and one loose plus some other fragments," said Ed Wenschhof Jr., Antietam's chief of Natural Resources Management and Resources Protection. "We get a lot of these bones brought in here, almost all of them are animal." He needed to check it out. Several photographs were emailed to the National Park Service's regional archaeologist, Stephen Potter, in Washington. Potter said he knew right away the jaw, and what turned out to be skull fragments, belonged to a human. And he knew they were very old bones.

"When I realized what I had -- an unmarked, unknown burial of a Civil War soldier, not a victim of modern mayhem -- it grabbed me in the gut," he said. "I was totally focused. I forgot everything else. I immediately started planning what we would do next." He said he estimated the soldier's age at 19 to 21, based on an impacted wisdom tooth in the jaw bone, the lack of wear on the teeth and an open suture in the cranium. That suture closes only when an individual ceases to grow. He called Wenschhof. Potter wanted to see the the bones but his first impulse was to collect whatever else was out there in the field. It was going to be difficult to find the spot. The field covered acres of land, but they had to move quickly because relic hunters might hear about the discovery and disturb the grave.

Wenschhof and a team of park rangers crisscrossed the field that was adjacent to the infamous Corn Field, where brutal hand-to-hand fighting had taken place during the battle. There were burrows everywhere, and they had to be careful not to step in to them. Finally, one of the team found bone fragments and several pieces of leather outside a ground hog hole. It had to be the right place. The soldier had been found. Potter had sent the photographs to Douglas Owsley, a well-known forensic anthropologist with the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution. He agreed with Potter's assessment but felt the soldier was somewhere between 18 and 21 and most likely was a teenager.

"He said the kid never saw his 20th birthday," Potter recalled. Within a few weeks, Potter and a crew were at Antietam, also known as Sharpsburg, scraping away the top layer of brown earth and then delving into the reddish layer of clay. They were working under a blue and white tent erected to shield themselves from the rain and wind and to protect whatever they found. Two animal holes were within the the rectangle sketched on the earth, probably boundaries of the grave. The resident of the burrow had been captured a few days earlier and delivered to a new neighborhood beyond the field.

The excavation work was slow. There weren't any large bones in the grave shaft. "Ground hogs can do a lot of damage," Potter said. "Context means everything. if the bones are moved or damaged or if the ground hog gnawed on them, and ground hogs do gnaw on bones -- they need their daily calcium supplement -- things can be hard to figure out." In this case, the ground hog had destroyed most of the soldier's bones.

What they did find was a number of jacket or coat buttons that connected the soldier to a New York regiment. The ones from the cuffs had the state emblem and some of the larger ones from the front had the emblem and the Latin word, "Excelsior," meaning upward. The other buttons found were general government issue, indicating the soldier was not a green recruit but a veteran who had been around long enough to have replaced lost buttons. They also found a belt buckle with "U.S." engraved on it, and some bits of leather later identified as coming from boots or shoes.

Potter told the crew, "We now know three things: our soldier was a young guy, probably a teenager, but he was a veteran and not a new recruit and he was part of a New York regiment." The crew, having plotted the exact position on paper of every bit of metal and bone and leather taken from the grave site, filled the 18-inch-deep excavation and tried to make it look like just another part of the farmer's field. The next step is for Owsley to examine all the bones and items found in the grave to see if he can tease any more information from them. He won't be able to do that for several months.

John Howard, Antietam battlefield superintendent, had been following the progress of the search closely. He had come out to watch the crews excavating the grave. Later he said it was unlikely the solider would ever be identified because so little was known about him and, on the day of the battle, there were many New York regiments involved. One of the rangers who works for Howard, Brian S. Baracz, has studied the battle for 10 years. He said there had been 68 infantry regiments, 12 artillery and seven cavalry units from New York at Antietam. Close to the area where the soldier was found, two dozen New York infantry regiments had crossed through. Using just those 24 units and narrowing the list of possible soldiers to those of the right age who were listed as "missing," he said the number would range between 25 and 50.

Howard said if they ever got "really lucky and identified the soldier, we'd make a real effort to track down the next of kin. We'd ask them what they wanted us to do. We could ship the remains or give him a proper burial here at Antietam." If there is no identification, he expects the soldier will be buried in the New York section of the national cemetery, which is near his office. "Just like any other American soldier, we will give him a proper burial," he said. "This is where he fought. This is where he died. This is now his home."

Text, Top and Middle Images Source: Washington Post, December 26, 2008

Bottom Image Source: Through the Cornfield, Keith Rocco. Keith Rocco is among the very best artists working in the field of American Civil War and Napoleonic Era painting. He as two published collections of his work, On Campaign: The Civil War Art of Keith Rocco, and The Soldier's View: The Civil War Art of Keith Rocco

Off Topic---News: Bowels of the Ship and Bowels of the Sailors

Mystery Naval Explosion May Have Stinky Solution, The Telegraph, Sarah Knapton, December 26, 2008.

The mysterious explosion which sank a 17th century Royal warship may have been caused by the lavatory habits of its crew, a historian believes. HMS London sank in 1685 after exploding without warning in the Thames Estuary near Chatham Docks in a blast which killed 300 people and was recorded by diarist Samuel Pepys. Naval historians have long argued about the cause, suggesting a build-up of chemicals could have ignited the ship's supply of gunpowder. But now one researcher believes the blast may have been triggered by the noxious accumulation of methane from the scores of sailors who relieved themselves in the bowels of the ship.

The theory suggests that rotting faeces in the bilges led to a build up of gas which was ignited by a candle below deck. Richard Ender, an engineer and naval historian, came across the solution while researching an incident on the 17th century warship Lennox. Records show that a lieutenant accidentally fell into the bottom of the hold and when crew members climbed down to rescue him "they were rendered in a manner dead by the stench". Mr Ender said: "They were unconscious. Of course, it is not the smell that makes you unconscious, it's the methane.

"When you have that concentration of methane, all it would take is someone being send down here with a lantern to set it off. The powder room is in the hold as well." But Charles Trollope, an authority on naval ordnance from the period, believes the explosion was caused by the sloppy practice of reusing old materials for storing gunpowder.

Text Source: Telegraph.UK

Image Source: Brian Levy

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Off Topic---World War II Espionage

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal, Ben McIntyre, Harmony Books, 365pp, 23 b/w photographs, appendices, notes, index, bibliography, $25.95 hardcover, $14.95 softcover, 2007.

Published in Britain as Agent Zigzag: The True Wartime Story of Eddie Chapman, Lover, Betrayer, Hero, Spy, Ben McIntyre's story of a nearly-always-successful safe cracking burglar conning the Nazi's to sending him to England, returning to the Nazis and then the Nazi's returning him to England is remarkable on several levels. McIntyre captures the personalities of Chapman, his accomplices, his Nazi handlers, his British handlers and his lovers. There are neither stereotypes of Nazi or English bureaucrats nor females who fall in love with Chapman in the story. What could be a convoluted story of treason and double cross is well ordered and well explained.

Captured by the English police on the Island of Jersey, Eddie Chapman is in jail when the Nazi's capture the island. Offering himself as a recruit, Chapman leaves a friend in the jail as a hostage. Receiving training in wireless communication, explosives and weapons, Chapman at times teaches his instructors a few clever tricks of the trade. By 1941, he parachuted into England with a wireless radio, a pistol, a suicide pill, and cash with an assignment to blow up a aircraft factory. Within twenty four hours he as found the police and turns himself in with the offer to work for the British against the Nazis.

Chapman and a British officer communicate regularly with the Nazis. The destruction of the airplane factory occurs with the help of a magician and his crew. By way of Portugal, Chapman returns to occupied France with information cooked especially for the Nazis. While receiving training in Norway and having enough money to by a yacht,
Chapman falls in love for third time, and takes pictures of suitable targets for Britain. He returns to Britain again with a wireless radio and cash; this time the mission is to discover the gadget that the British have invented which allows them to sink Nazi subs that are hiding in deep waters. Chapman is supplied more cooked intelligence for the Nazis and even outwits them into revealing what they know about British wireless communication.

Amazingly, Chapman surived the war, finds the girl he left on Jersey, and supports his first wife and daughter; he eludes the Norway girl who was the only person in Europe to whom he revealed his double cross. Living the life of a Nazi collaborator, she was actually a member of the Norwegian resistance movement. With money in the bank he returns to burglary, this time aboard and not in England.

McIntyre's story reveals the workings of the Abwehr and MI5, the difficulty of hiding from the Germans the truth of Ultra device, the devastation of London's suburbs by the V-1 and V-2 rockets. These rockets missed their targets in central London in part because of Chapman's misinformation about the rockets that fell short and fell long.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

News---Gettysburg: July 1st Assault Path of Heth's and Pender's Divisions For Sale

Gettysburg Country Club To Be Sold At Sheriff’s Sale, Dick Watson, Gettysburg Times, December 24, 2008.

After nearly 50 years of operation, the Gettysburg Country Club will be sold at a sheriff’s sale on Friday, January 9 at 10 a.m. Located along Country Club Lane, between Route 30 and Old Mill Road, the 120-acre, nine-hole golf course with pro shop, locker rooms, pool and tennis courts has been fighting declining membership since the mid-1990s. Convinced that the decline was due to its aging facilities, the club’s board of directors decided in 2005 that new facilities would attract new members.

Approved by a majority, many of its predominantly older and retired members indicated they would not support a multi-million dollar upgrade. Nevertheless, the board proceeded with its plans, and a significant number of members resigned. Over a two-year period, a new clubhouse with bar, restaurant and commercial kitchen was built, as were new tennis courts. Renovations were also made to its locker rooms.

Beginning in early 2007, as the new facilities were coming online, the club appointed a new golf pro and a new general manager and an executive chef. New incentives, including reduced initiation fees and monthly dues, were also initiated. Not achieving the results they anticipated, the board in October 2007 hired the team of Gilbert Andrews Law of York and Executive Insights of Camp Hill to “restructure” its operations.

During its best days, the country club maintained a membership of about 270. That dropped to below 240 after the exodus of many of its members, according to attorney Thomas Campbell, a member, in May. Unfortunately, the new facilities failed to attract the anticipated number of new members, and the club’s debt increased. After it officially closed on May 30 this year, club members were allowed to continue playing golf.

Members also put up their own funds to keep the pool open during the summer. According to a member of the sheriff’s office, the bank (Susquehanna) is seeking $2.9million for the country club. “In addition, there are also seven or eight liens against the property that probably amount to another several thousand dollars,” he said.

Caption: Patio furniture is neatly stacked next to the covered swimming pool in front of the Gettysburg Country Club's new clubhouse in late May.

Text and Image Source: Gettysburg Times, December 24, 2008

CWL: The property is on the south side of the Chambersburg Pike. It's eastern boundary is Willoughby Run. Archer's brigade launched its attack on Herbst's Woods from this property, as did the brigades of Fry, Pettigrew and Brockenbrough. Pender's division lauched its attack on Seminary Ridge from this property.

Map Source: Gettysburg National Military Park's Virtual Tour

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Key Moments & Commanders at Gettyburg, January-March 2009

Key Moments and Commanders of the Gettysburg Campaign, Gettysburg National Military Park, Museum and Visitor Center, Saturdays and Sundays, 1:30p, January thourgh mid-March, 2009

Saturday, January 10
Key Moments: Longstreet Tries to Flank the Round Tops on July 3 – Troy Harman

Sunday, January 11
Commanders: General Alexander Hays and the Repulse of Longstreet's Assault - Karlton Smith

Saturday, January 17
Commanders: Alexander Webb, Norman Hall, & Alonzo Cushing: Profiles of Successful Leaders – D. Scott Hartwig

Saturday, January 24
Commanders: Daniel Sickles: The Colorful and Controversial Commander of Gettysburg -- Matt Atkinson

Sunday, January 25
Key Moments: "A Final Resting Place:” The Establishment of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery -- Eric A. Campbell

Saturday, January 31
Commanders: Strong Vincent and the Battle for Little Round Top – Tom Holbrook

Saturday, February 7
Key Moments: Crisis at the Union Center – The Second Corps Front on July 2 - John Heiser

Sunday, February 8
Key Moments: "We drop a comrade’s tears" The 2nd New Hampshire at the Peach Orchard – Karlton Smith

Saturday, February 14
Commanders: Opportunity, Possibility, and Liability: Lee, E. P. Alexander, William Pendleton and the Great Cannonade of July 3 – Bert Barnett

Sunday, February 15
Commanders: “Day was now breaking and it was too late for any change of place;” Richard Ewell, Cemetery Hill & Memory - Angie Atkinson

Saturday, February 21
Key Moments: “Take that hill if practicable” – Cemetery Hill and the End of the First Day’s Battle -- Tom Holbrook

Sunday, February 22
Commanders: July 1, 1863 – Surprise or Surmise – Bill Hewitt

Saturday, February 28
Key Moments: The 1st Minnesota Infantry on July 2 – Matt Atkinson

Sunday, March 1
Commanders: From “Forever Free” to “A New Birth of Freedom:” Abraham Lincoln in 1863" – Eric A. Campbell

Saturday, March 7
Key Moments: “I Have Never Seen the Like Before” - The July 1 Battle for Herbst Woods - D. Scott Hartwig

Sunday, March 8
Commanders: "Much oppressed with a sense of responsibility:" George G. Meade Takes Command of the Army of the Potomac – Charles Teague

Saturday, March 14
Commanders: Did Meade Begin a Counteroffensive after Pickett's Charge? - Troy Harman

Sunday, March 15
Key Moments: Hancock Takes Command – July 1 – Angie Atkinson

Image Source: Gettysburg365 is among the very best photographers of the battlefield

Forthcoming- Deserter Country: Civil War Opposition in the Pennsylvania Appalachians

Deserter Country: civil War Opposition in the Pennsylvnaia Appalachians, Robert M. Sandow, Fordham Unversity Press, 24 black/white photographs and illustrations, 6 color photographs, notes, bibliogrpahy, index, 288 pp., April 2009.

During the Civil War, there were throughout the Union explosions of resistance to the war—from the deadly Draft Riots in New York City to other, less well-known outbreaks. In Deserter Country, Robert Sandow explores one of these least known “inner civil wars,” the widespread, sometimes violent opposition in the Appalachian lumber country of Pennsylvania. Sparsely settled, these mountains were home to divided communities that provided safe haven for opponents of the war. The dissent of mountain folk reflected their own marginality in the face of rapidly increasing exploitation of timber resources by big firms, as well as partisan debates over loyalty.

One of the few studies of the northern Appalachians, this book draws revealing parallels to the war in the southern mountains, exploring the roots of rural protest in frontier development, the market economy, military policy, partisan debate, and everyday resistance. Sandow also sheds new light on the party politics of rural resistance, rejecting easy depictions of war opponents as traitors and malcontents for a more nuanced and complicated study of class, economic upheaval, and localism.

Text and Image Source: Fordham University Press

Saturday, December 13, 2008

CWL---Controlling the Violence of the 54th Massachusetts

Managing The Violence In The Fifty Fourth Massachusetts, in Battle Exhortation: The Rhetoric of Combat Leadership, Keith Yellin, University of South Carolina Press, 2008, pp. 94-101.

A controlled explosion. "All the discipline of drill, uniforms, codes of conduct are meant to ignite and yet contain the forces that can keep up this . . . wrath' of Civil War combat (p. 94). Can violent ardor be managed? Most readers of CWL are familiar with the film Glory. Fredrick Douglass and Governor John Andrew review the enthusiastic troops as they march through Boston and Colonel Shaw nods to his proud parents. During the war, there was the issue of arming the Negroes. Slaveholders worried about nighttime slave uprisings; slavery itself was viewed as a restraint upon savages. Northerners understood that it may be perfectly naturally for former slaves in blue uniforms may slip the shackles of military discipline. Had slavery crippled blacks? Would they be soldiers and not give in to docility or vengeance when faced with armed Southern soldiers?

Colonel Shaw reports in his letters and diary that General Montgomery let loose his black troops, former slaves, to loot and burn small towns in South Carolina. At dusk on July 18, 1863 the 54th Massachusetts was ordered into line of battle. In the film, special attention to devoted to the flags. Exactly two months, before the assault on Fort Wagner, Governor Andrew as he presented four flags to the regiment asked for manly character and manly zeal. Discretion and aggression required by the troops. On the banners were the words: liberty, loyalty, unity and the Latin phrase In hoc signo vinces (In this sign you will conquer). Andrew asked the troops to fight, win and return with dignity.

An eyewitness recalled Shaw's words to the troops before the assault began. 'Now I want you to prove yourselves men' and and reminded them that the eyes of thousands would look upon the night's work (p. 100).Of the failed assault by the 54th Massachusetts, The Atlantic Magazine that "the manhood of the colored races shines before many eyes that would not see." The Federal flag was set upon the ramparts and then carried back to the Union lines; the Massachusetts flag was sent upon the ramparts and was ripped from the staff by the Confederates. The staff was carried back to the Union lines were lost at Fort Wagner.

Image Source: Keith Rocco is among the best contemporary Civil War and Napoleonic War artists.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

CWL---Gettysburg Battlewalks: The 13th Vermont on July 3rd at Gettysburg

The 13th Vermont Infantry: Gettysburg Battlewalks, Scott Hartwig and the Mifflin Gaurd, Pennsylvania Cable Network, dvd, 70 minutes, 2004.

Gettysburg National Park Ranger Scott Hartwig conducts the movements of the Mifflin Guard, a Civil War reenactment unit, in the footsteps of the 13th Vermont Infantry. On July 3rd,the 13th and 16th Vermont Infantry units flanked Kemper's Brigade as to marched from the Spangler Farm, through the Cordori Farm and to the Copse of Trees at the Angle. The ranger, about 200 members of the reenactment unit and about 200 park visitors, proceed from the Vermont Brigade monument and march toward the Cordori Farm buildings and then wheel right by companies and march toward the Copse of trees.

Hartwig begins his presentation with the 4:30a Union artillery assault on the Confederates ensconced on lower Culp's Hill and the ensuing battle until 11:00a. Longstreet's troops depositions during the dawn hours are presented in light of Lee's visit to Longstreet and his dismissal of Longstreet's suggestion to move the Confederate First Corps further to the right. The Grand Assault is briefly presented by Hartwig with special attention to Kemper's Brigade.

He describes the Vermont Brigade and in particular the 13th Vermont, nine month volunteers whose only battle was Gettysburg. Hartwig relies on the words of the men of the 13th Vermont as found in letters and post-war memoirs. He imparts a sense of immediacy during the tour as the words of the soldiers are presented in the footsteps of the soldiers. The 13th Vermont was much larger than most Union Regiments on the field; the regiments 650 soldiers made it twice the size of the majority of the Federal fighting units.

This particular Battlewalk relies heavily on the the tactical movements and manual of arms that are reenacted by the Mifflin Gaurd. For those viewers who are familar with the fields covered by the Vermont Brigade, the reenactment unit's size with the addition of the park visitors, accurately show movements of a regiment. Hartwig has both the reenactors and the park visitors lie down behind the breastwork that was built by the 13th Vermont on the Cordori Knoll, then rise up, march forward and deliver several volleys toward the Cordori Farm. Overall, this Gettysburg Battlewalk is consistently interesting for the information it gives, the tactical movements that are shown, and the visuals of having a nearly accurately-sized Federal regiment in the right spot at the right time to repel The Grand Assault.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

News---Will Obama's Inaugural Procession Start in Gettysburg?

Obama Inaugural Procession To Start In Gettysburg?, Erin James, Evening Sun, December 5, 2008.

An established heritage organization wants Obama to begin his Jan. 20 inaugural procession to Washington, D.C., in Gettysburg - the northernmost point of Journey Through Hallowed Ground's 175-mile corridor through Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Journey Through Hallowed Ground President Cate Magennis Wyatt said the procession would give more people the opportunity to participate in the historic event and would fit into Obama's inauguration theme of "A New Birth of Freedom," which is derived from President Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address. The organization sent its proposal in a letter to Obama's Presidential Inaugural Committee and has enlisted the help of state and local officials to lend the idea support. "We don't know if they're going to take us up on this, but we thought we would ask," Wyatt said.

Presidential Inaugural Committee spokeswoman Chris Mather said she did not know Thursday whether the proposal was being considered, however, and could not provide further information. The letter was signed by officials in the municipalities Obama would pass through, including Gettysburg Borough Council President Dick Peterson and Cumberland Township Manager Flo Ford. Peterson said the letter was signed about a month ago, and officials are now waiting for a response. He said a visit from Obama in Gettysburg "would be wonderful." "Whether it's coming to fruition is another thing," he said.

Ford said the municipal advisory committee, of which she and Peterson are members, was asked to support the idea by Journey Through Hallowed Ground staff. "I wouldn't have signed the letter if I didn't think it was a good idea," she said. Wyatt said the Journey Through Hallowed Ground has also reached out to Gettysburg Foundation President Robert Wilburn for help soliciting support from Gov. Ed Rendell. Foundation spokeswoman Dru Neil confirmed that a discussion between Wilburn and Journey staff had taken place but said no further action has yet been taken. The procession idea was partly inspired by Obama's reference to the Founding Fathers in his victory speech, Wyatt said. A history-themed inaugural procession seems to fit the president-elect, she said.

"That was basically in response to the fact that clearly the president-elect has a very keen and sobering appreciation for our history and our heritage," Wyatt said. If Obama and the inaugural committee accept the proposal, the president-elect would begin his procession in Gettysburg and travel the Hallowed Ground corridor on Route 15 through Maryland. The route would take him to the Dulles Toll Road and directly to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Wyatt said. Millions of people are planning to attend the inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, but most of them won't be anywhere near the event. A procession would allow more to participate, Wyatt said.

An Obama inaugural procession would not be the first in history. In 1993, President Clinton began a 120-mile procession to Washington from Monticello, Va., at the home of Thomas Jefferson. It never happened, but an Obama visit to Gettysburg had been a rumored possibility since the Illinois senator with similarities to President Lincoln decided to run for office nearly two years ago. But an inaugural procession to Washington would be significant not only to Gettysburg, Wyatt said. "It would be a big deal for everybody," she said.

Text Source: Evening Sun, December 5, 2008.

Image Source: New York Times

CWL Takes Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Exam

CWL arrived in Gettysburg Thursday 12.04.08 in the late afternoon for the Saturday test. Bivouacking in the Travelodge on Steinwehr, CWL took meals at The Avenue Diner. Twelve hundred flashcards, a three hour hike, one Guinness draft and 42 hours later, the test was wrapped up. In 2006, the test took CWL the full three hours; in 2008 2.5 hours. Maybe I know more than I did the first time through in 2006but maybe not enough in 2008 to get that 92% which would probably advance me to the oral exam. The 2006 score was 82%. This year I am hoping to get close to within a couple of points 90%.

In 2006, CWL probably identified two of the 21 monument pictures; this year 12 to 14 are probably right. It's tough; they are black and white photographs, with most of the text digitally chiseled off the monument, then photocopied. Pick from a list of possible answers; the list contains 4 more answers than monuments. So was it the 2nd or the 6th New Jersey monument? The 9th or the 11th Pennsylvania Reserves monument. (It was the 9th's monument; I am a reenactor in Co. A, 9th Pennsylvania Reserves.) In 2006, CWL aced the map and the portraits; ditto in 2008. Did well on the true and false, multiple choice and okay on the completion without a work bank.

About 250 people asked the Gettysburg NPS for materials to be mailed to them. Of those Close to 145 sent in the $50 registration fee and 135 showed up today to take the test. Less than 20 of the top scorers will be asked to attend a two and a half day seminar regarding the contents and style of tour giving. These then will be listed for the 2 hour oral exam in which they present their tour of the battlefield. In 2006, 21 people were eligible to take the oral exam, and only 10 of those passed the exam . Therefore, of the 250 people who requested information to take the test this year, possibly 10 will become Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides before the December, 2010 examination.

In the top picture, NPS test creator and administrator Clyde Bell displays the 25+/- page test. In the middle picture (left) CWL is sitting in the aisle seat of the fourth table on the left, a furrowed brow resting on his left hand. In the bottom picture CWL is at the fourth table, in the black long sleeve tee shirt. To CWL's right and in the blue sweatshirt is police officer and firearms instructor Thaddeus Comer, whom used CWL's flashcards which were shared on the internet.

Image and Numbers Source: Gettysburg, December 6th, 2008.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

News: Central Virginia Civil War Park Open By Advance Reservation Only Beginning January 2

Historical Park Soon to Close Doors to Public,
Dec 3, 2008

Effective January 2, 2009, Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier in Dinwiddie County will be open by reservation only. Guests wishing to visit the Park may do so by making a reservation forty-eight hours in advance. Admission fees for non-members will be $100 for a group of up to ten people, and $10 per adult for groups of more than ten. Park members may make reservations twenty-four hours in advance with no minimum numbers and no admission fee.

The Park will continue to offer all reservation-based programming as usual, including its popular school field trips, battlefield tours, Annual Symposium, Civil War Adventure Camps, Summer Teacher Institutes, and History Day Camps. The severe economic downturn has undercut the ability of the Pamplin Foundation to support the Park at current levels, says Pamplin Historical Park President, A. Wilson Greene. We deeply regret the necessity to curtail normal daily operations to meet this new fiscal reality.

None of the Parks four museums will be altered and the Park will continue to maintain its four historic structures, ten reconstructed buildings, and three miles of interpretive trails. There will be no changes to the Park's extensive artifact collection. Should economic conditions improve, we hope to restore some regular public operating hours next spring, adds Greene.

The Park will continue to accelerate its use of the internet to fulfill its educational mission through on-line programming. Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier preserves 422 acres near Petersburg, Virginia, including the Breakthrough Battlefield, a National Historic Landmark. It is owned and operated by the Pamplin Foundation of Portland, Oregon. The Park opened in 1994 as Pamplin Park Civil War Site and debuted the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier in 1999, when it adopted its current name.

Text Source:

Image: portion of Pamplin Park Mural created by Keith Rocco

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

CWL---Among The Top Ten of 2008: Learning the Battle of Gettysburg.

Learning the Battle of Gettysburg: A Guide to the Official Records, Benjamin Y. Dixon, Ph.D.,144 pp., 11 Illus., Thomas Publications, 2008. $9.95.

This book is the most complete and annotated guide to the official battle reports submitted by officers from both armies at Gettysburg. Readers will learn which Gettysburg reports and parts of reports pertain to nearly every significant battle event from the opening of the fight to its aftermath. Annotations are included to highlight important facts, explanations, and fascinating battle descriptions and stories as reported by Gettysburg officers.

This book's focus is a detailed, concise history of the battle featuring the best quotes from the more than 500 Gettysburg officer reports. Important heroes, units, plans, and maneuvers are presented to explain the fighting in efficient detail at such places as Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, the Wheatfield, and 25 other key locations. For each of these battle sites, readers learn precisely what units reported action, where to find those reports, and the quality of those reports. Best of all, this guide is organized geographically and chronologically for easy use in the field as well as at home or in the library.

In addition, separate chapters are devoted to the aftermath of the battle, interesting quotes from the soldiers, and miscellaneous incidents and events. CWL thoroughly enjoyed the officer reports that discussed incidents of cowardice, death by friendly fire, the dangers of retrieving the wounded, disputes between officers and units, and much, much more. An “Order of Battle” is appended showing which units at Gettysburg submitted reports for the Official Records, and which did not.

Ben Dixon has cross-referenced the Official Records so thoroughly that he has made it an easy task for readers and researchers to find what they need in the nearly 2100pages of battle reports relating to the Battle of Gettysburg. This book is an excellent training and reference manual about the Battle of Gettysburg for any guide, buff, or even casual learner.

As a Gettysburg native and as a academic with a Ph.D in geography, Ben Dixon brings a unique perspective to Gettysburg studies. His all day seminar and tour of Gettysburg, sponsored by the Gettysburg Foundation and Friends in July, was a remarkable presentation of preservation efforts and the varieties of interpretations of the battlefield. With inexhaustable enthusiasm, Dixon combined an overview of these trends with a remarkable collection of signicant details and anecdotes. This time next year, CWL will be compiling the best of 2009 and Dixon's history of the park, to be released late in 2009 by Johns Hopkins University Press, is most likely to be on the list.