Tuesday, August 31, 2010

News----Museum of the Confederacy Offers Online High Res Digital Images of Its Collection

The Museum of the Confederacy's [MOC] collections department is featuring its new high resolution digital photographs that allow viewers to virtually explore artifacts right down to the threads. MOC's digital images' details are enhanced through Zoomify, a software application created by Adobe. Recently upgraded photographs of the new conserved 41st Georgia's flag, Stonewall Jackson's kepi, and Beauregard's revolver are amazing. New high-resolution digital photographs allows views to virtually explore in great detail these artifacts. Donations will fund additional digital photographs of the MOC's collection.

Above is the newly conserved 41st Georgia Infantry Flag. This Army of Tennessee pattern battle flag was issued to the unit in 1864 and believed carried until its surrender at Greensboro, North Carolina, April 1865. It was found in Yonkers, New York, by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and given to the Museum in 1935. Its conservation in 2009 was funded by major contributor Martin Tant along with other generous donors.

Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's wore this forage cap during the Civil War. It is an infantry officer's forage cap, made of wool with a leather brim and brass buttons. MOC's online collection is stunning when used with Zoomify.
The Museum of the Confederacy's online homepage is located here.

Image and Edited Text Source: Museum of the Confederacy

Monday, August 30, 2010

Off Topic and New---Cold Cases And The Ninth Level of Dante's Inferno

The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases, Michael Capuzzo, Gotham Publishing, 448 pages, $26.95

I've read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories. I've read Arthur Conan Doyle's biography. I've read enough of the history of crime detection to know who Eugene Francois Vidocq was. So I'm not in the center of this author's target audience. The book may have been written for a much wider audience. And during middle school, I read lots of Readers' Digest condensed novels. If I was still reading RD's condensed novels I would have been satisfied with Michael Capuzzo's effort to tell the story of the Vidocq Society, which come to think of it he really doesn't do. The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases, is really a greatest hits [excuse the pun] of the Vidocq Society.

I have been trained as an historian and am sensitive to issues of chronology, cause and effect, and unsupported generalizations. Somehow the word 'hoopla hoops' and the 'serial killers' search for authentic self-expression' are in the same sentence that attempts to describe the 1950s. The initial chapters come across as being interview notes poorly knit together. Paragraph transitions must have been written by fictional detective Philip Marlowe created by Raymond Chandler during the 1930s, 1940s and the 1950s. At times Capuzzo inserts his own character into the story and I began to wonder how accurately he transcribed the interviews he made with the three leading characters.

On the other had the murder stories are compelling as are William Fleisher, Frank Bender and Richard Walter, the prime movers of the Vidocq Society. Fortunately the subtitle of the book is wrong. The Vidocq Society members are not the 'heirs of Sherlock Holmes'. They are real people who are brilliant, hardworking, intuitive and possibly flawed individuals. In a stunning monologue detective Richard Walter, having reading the classics of Western Civilization, graphically describes how the descent of serial killers' personality corresponds to Dante's levels of hell. The cases covered in The Murder Room are at times heartrending and horrific. Other cases are mundane and presented in a fashion which encourages the reader believe that local police detectives at times are lazy, uncreative and out of touch with their profession.

Compelling stories are told without suspense in The Murder Room. A newspaper journalist and I read the book during the same week. Though debating some merits of Capuzzo's style and organization, we both agreed that there are currently too many unemployed book editors and proofreaders. What is the difference between a benefactor and a beneficiary? Capuzzo needed a professional editor/proofreader. There are no footnotes, although there is a long bibliography. In the acknowlegements Capuzzo states that he did more than 1,000 hours worth of interviews with the three investigators he upon which he focuses. He also cites many other interviewees.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, but not as a model for style, organization or clarity. The substance of the stories is compelling even if the handling of the material by the author is not.

Forthcoming and Interesting----The Wicked Father Of Waters And The Siege of Vicksburg

Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild, Lee Sandlin, Pantheon Pres, Hardcover, 304 pages, $26.95, October 19, 2010.

A riveting look at one of the most colorful, dangerous, and peculiar places in America’s historical landscape: the strange, wonderful, and mysterious Mississippi River of the nineteenth century.

Beginning in the early 1800s and climaxing with the siege of Vicksburg in 1863, Wicked River takes us back to a time before the Mississippi was dredged into a shipping channel, and before Mark Twain romanticized it into myth. Drawing on an array of suspenseful and bizarre firsthand accounts, Lee Sandlin brings to life a place where river pirates brushed elbows with future presidents and religious visionaries shared passage with thieves—a world unto itself where, every night, near the levees of the big river towns, hundreds of boats gathered to form dusk-todawn cities dedicated to music, drinking, and gambling. Here is a minute-by-minute account of Natchez being flattened by a tornado; the St. Louis harbor being crushed by a massive ice floe; hidden, nefarious celebrations of Mardi Gras; and the sinking of the Sultana, the worst naval disaster in American history. And here is the Mississippi itself: gorgeous, perilous, and unpredictable, lifeblood to the communities that rose and fell along its banks.

An exuberant work of Americana—at once history, culture, and geography—Wicked River is a grand epic that portrays a forgotten society on the edge of revolutionary change.

Garrison Keillor[creator of National Public Radio's Prairie Home Companion]says "A gripping book that plunges you into a rich dark stretch of visceral history. I read it in two sittings and got up shaken."

Text and Image Source: Wicked River

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

News---Door Opens for Gettysburg NMP To Add 95 Acres of July 1 Rebel Assault Path

Park To Get Country Club Land: Cumberland Township Approves Country Club Subdivision, Tim Purdente, The Evening Sun, August 25,201, 08/25/2010

The Cumberland Township Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday evening to approve a subdivision plan that opens the door for the National Park Service to purchase 95 acres of the Gettysburg Country Club. The property saw significant fighting during the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Since Susquehanna Bank foreclosed on it over one year ago, the Park Service has been interested in acquiring the property and adding it to the Gettysburg National Military Park.

The supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the plan. Supervisor Debi Golden voted against the subdivision plan. She said that was because the township would lose as much as $150,000 in annual property taxes if the Park Service acquired the land. "It's tough (to do) when people are coming in to complain about their taxes," Golden said. The plan divides the country club property into two tracts, one of which would be about 15 acres and contain the developed portions of the property, with facilities such as the clubhouse, tennis courts and banquet hall. The other would be 95 acres and consist of the golf course and other undeveloped portions.

Golden said she also voted against the plan because of some questions regarding easements on the property and whether the remaining 15-acre lot will meet township code. "I like to treat applicants equally and if this was an issue not related to the Park Service it may not have passed," she said, after the vote.

With the decision, The Conservation Fund plans to purchase the property from Cumberland Club Investment LLC., the current owner, and then sell the property to the Park Service. "We'd like to have it for as little period of time as possible," said Todd McNew, Pennsylvania State Director of The Conservation Fund. "It will maybe be 90 days before the Park Service gets it."

Likewise, Cumberland Club President Martin K.P. Hill said the company plans to sell the property to The Conservation Fund "as soon as possible." Before the vote, Hill said if the plan was not passed he would pursue development opportunities for the property, which is zoned as residential and could include as many as 3.5 housing units per acre. "Dollar for dollar that would be the way to go, but we're most interested in seeing this become battlefield," Hill said.

In fact, Hill said the Park Service had previously expressed interest in purchasing 100 acres of the property, but township ordinances for open space, among others, required the remaining tract be at least 15 acres. The remaining lot will continue to function in its current state, meaning the pool and tennis courts will still be available for use, according to Hill.

Cumberland Club purchased the property in April of this year for $1.45 million. Prior to the sale, the club had fallen into financial distress and Susquehanna Bank ultimately foreclosed on the property. It went up for sale at a sheriff's auction for a minimum of $2.79 million in February 2009, but no one placed a bid so the property transferred back to the bank. At the time the Park Service had expressed interest in the property but a long-standing legal covenant on the land had prevented its purchase. The covenant - which stated no hog farming could take place on the land - proved a legal and bureaucratic hurdle for the federal government, according to Hill. "That was probably what prevented Susquehanna Bank from selling to them," Hill said. "We could go to settlement in 45 days but the Park Service has to go through the Department of the Interior and they got no word from Washington."

In fact, Hill said the Park Service had offered the bank more money than his own company but it would have been unable to close the deal in the necessary time frame. Although the covenant caused problems for the Park Service in the past, Hills said the issue has been resolved and the Park Service is now able to purchase the land."The contract has been sent to their attorneys for final review and we're expecting to reach an agreement in a week," he added.

Preservation groups have taken such an interest in the property because it proved the site of substantial fighting during the Battle of Gettysburg. On the first day of the battle, the famed Iron Brigade attacked across Willoughby Run, onto what is now the golf course, driving back a Confederate brigade and capturing its commander, Gen. James Archer. Later in the day, Confederate Gen. James Pettigrew's North Carolina brigade advanced across that same ground to attack the Iron Brigade near the run.

Text Source: The Evening Sun

Image's Source : Gettysburg National Military Park

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Intriguing Thesis---- The Mayor, The Cops, The Immigrants and The Quick Fall of the Big Easy in 1862

Mutiny at Fort Jackson: The Untold Story of the Fall of New Orleans, Michael D. Pierson, University of North Carolina Press, 2008. 264 pp. $30.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8078-3228-8.

Reviewed by Judith Gentry (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)on H-CivWar (August, 2010)

Mutiny and Unionism in Civil War New Orleans

The title of this book is misleading, as very little of it is about the mutiny at Fort Jackson. It might better be titled A Study of Unionism and Other Disaffection in Confederate Military Units and among Civilians in or near New Orleans in 1862.

Michael D. Pierson has done an excellent job of describing and analyzing the small number of sources focused on the night of the mutiny, but the heart of the book is a discussion of the impact of the mutiny on Admiral David G. Farragut’s ability to rescue New Orleans from the Confederates; the extent of Unionist sentiment (or at least disaffection from the Confederacy) in New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana; the background and the social, economic, and political context that caused the mutineers and deserters and other New Orleanians to have little affection for the Confederacy; and the role of Benjamin Butler in protecting existing Unionists and building additional support for the Union in New Orleans.

Pierson reveals, as the book unfolds, a series of provocative thesis statements. For the ease of the readers of this review, I have arranged them in chronological order. The peculiar Louisiana version of the Know-Nothing Party, which emphasized anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions, controlled the New Orleans government from 1856 until May 1, 1862, when Butler established martial law. Once Louisiana seceded from the Union, the New Orleans mayor used his direct control of patronage, which traditionally had been used to win elections for the Know-Nothings through violence and intimidation of opponents by police officers and government workers rampaging through the streets in what was commonly called the “mob,” to support the Confederacy.

By 1858, such tactics had reduced voting by immigrants by 50 percent and caused most immigrants to keep a low profile on politics. In 1861 and into the spring of 1862, both the mob and the police were used to suppress dissent and encourage volunteering for military service. Poverty and joblessness also coerced volunteering by New Orleanians who had no love for the Confederacy. By September 1861, the government had help from the mob in coercing military-age men to participate in local units of the state militia. In the emergency of February and March 1862, as Farragut’s fleet entered the lower Mississippi River, several of the militia units were reorganized into units of the Confederate army and placed on ships that carried them to Fort Jackson or Fort St. Philip downriver from New Orleans. Others were sent to other forts nearer to New Orleans.

Although the police and mob were effective in keeping Unionists in New Orleans quiet, Pierson argues, Unionists existed. Some simply preferred the prewar U.S. life. Secession and war had closed down the economy of New Orleans and left the working class in extreme poverty. Other Unionists were immigrants who had never felt welcome in New Orleans and had endured Know-Nothing harassment. “Merchants and white wage workers, in addition to African Americans, came to support the Union in large numbers during the war.... New Orleans offered considerable aid and comfort to the United States” (pp. 49-50). The fact that much of this aid took place in 1861 and 1862 rather than later in the war made New Orleans unusual.

An important reason why the Confederates in New Orleans suppressed Unionism was that the existence of Unionists undercut the central moral justification for secession: that secession was necessary because the Northern states were oppressing all white Southerners and trying to take away the rights of all Southerners to enjoy the prosperity and freedom of the nation. The author argues that the importance of the mutiny at Fort Jackson has been underestimated.

This review is continued at H-Net Reviews

The second image is Fort Jackson as it appears today and the image's source is Civil War Librarian, June 2008.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New and Intriguing---One Was Hung, One Was Exchanged

Double Death: The True Story of Pryce Lewis, the Civil War's Most Daring Spy, Gavin Mortimer, Walker & Company Publisher, 21 b/w photographs, index, end notes, appendices, 304 pages, $26.00.

The exploits of Pryce Lewis a successful but captured Union spy are intriguing. From the first chapter that an indication of Pryce Lewis's eventual demise, Gavin Mortimer writes a compelling true story of Civil War espionage. Mortimer's recounting of the writing, loss and recovery of Lewis' manuscript is in itself a revealing description of historical sleuthing and perseverance.

Lewis, a Welsh-born emigrant from the United Kingdom before the Civil War, tried his hand at door-to-door book sales in New England. Reaching Chicago he accepted employment as a grocer's clerk and planned a prospecting trip to the West. By chance a New England acquaintance visiting Chicago encouraged Lewis to apply with the Pinkerton Agency. The year was 1859 and the Pinkerton Agency's main clients were the railroad corporations.

Lewis accepted assignments in Baltimore during the 1861 Lincoln Assassination conspiracy, in western Virginia during McClellan's Appalachian Mountain campaign, and in Washington DC regarding the espionage of Rose Greenhow and her friends. Lewis toured western Virginia as an English cotton dealer and Mortimer's account of Lewis' deceptions of Confederate commanders is wonderful.

Traveling by carriage with a coachman [co-conspirator], wearing red leather shoes, and befriending Confederate backwoods militiamen and soldiers, Lewis toured rebel camps, gave rousing speeches, and promised British help to the South. His intelligence reports played a crucial role in McClellan's victory over Lee in the western Virginia mountains. While his traveling companion has a difficult time handling the stress of the deception, Lewis keeps his head and passes through and around the lines. Union military endeavors organized by McClellan relied upon Lewis' information on CSA troop location and numbers.

Pinkerton ordered Lewis and others to check up on Tim Webster, among the best of Pinkerton's agents. Webster had established a courier service out of Richmond, across the Potomac and into Washington, D.C. Webster had not been in communication with for several weeks. Lewis resisted by saying that the Rebel agents and families that had been displaced from Washington D.C. were now living in Richmond. Lewis, feeling his honor and his friendship with Webster were at stake, reluctantly went to Richmond and was captured. Webster was hanged; Lewis was eventually paroled. His British citizenship played a part in the mercy shown him. As a British national in the employ of an Federal detective agency, Lewis had no claim for British help. His captivity is an ordeal that reveals much about Confederate treatment of prisoners.

Mortimer covers Lewis' further adventures and feuds. Lafayette Baker, a self-promoting civilian investigator who injected himself into the wartime Washington bureaucracy was no friend of Lewis'. Furthermore, Pinkerton's self-aggrandizing memoir laid Webster's hanging on Lewis's shoulders. Pryce Lewis unsuccessfully attempted to market his memoir in the face of a popular misunderstanding promoted by Pinkerton that Lewis had caused Webster's capture and execution. Lewis' death came in the 20th century when he chose in the winter of 1911 to jump from New York's Pulitzer Building.

Mortimer adds to Lewis' memoir background information on Confederate female agents, military observation balloons, Richmond's military governance and the work habits of Allan Pinkerton. Mortimer in Double Death recounts Pryce Lewis's dramatic story and offers bibliographic notes for his findings and conjectures. The author may have had his manuscript completed when in 2008 The Baltimore Plot: The First Conspiracy to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln by Michael J. Kline was published. Mortimer's understanding is that the 1861 assassination conspiracy was a self-promotion fantasy by Pinkerton. Kline makes a very strong case that conspiracy was active and that Pinkerton, at best, was playing catch up with conspirators who were ready, willing and able to dispatch Lincoln to his grave during February 1861.

Overall, readers with an interest in the American Civil War are well served by Mortimer's biography of Lewis whose amazing life story is compelling and well handled in Double Death: The True Story of Pryce Lewis, The Civil War's Most Daring Spy.

News---Gettysburg, Petersburg Receive Funds to Expand

U.S. Senate Committee OKs Effort To Expand Gettysburg National Military Park, Public Opinion Online

The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has approved a resolution that would revise the boundaries of the Gettysburg National Military Park. New boundaries would include the Gettysburg Train Station and land along Plum Run in Cumberland Township.

The Department of Interior is to acquire publicly owned property within the area by buying from willing sellers only, if efforts to acquire that property without cost have been exhausted. The government cannot exercise eminent domain. The bill goes to the full Senate along with several others that would expand the Petersburg National Battlefield, establish another national park in New Mexico and protect a watershed around Glacier National Park.

"With April 2011 marking the 150th anniversary of the beginning of our American Civil War, enactment of these bills is of urgent importance," said Joy Oakes, senior mid-Atlantic regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association. Reps. Todd Platts and Todd Russell sponsor the House version (HR 4395). Sponsors of the Senate version (S 3159) are Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Philadelphia, and Robert Casey Jr., D-Scranton.

Text Source: Public Opinion Online

Image Source: Gettysburg National Military Park

Friday, August 20, 2010

News---When Is A Recreated Civil War Building Too Authentic?

Gettysburg Log Chapel Under Scrutiny, Scot Andrew Pitzer, Gettysburg Times, August 18, 2010.

After two Gettysburg Borough panels debated compliance plans this week for a log chapel, you’d think the church operator wanted to place neon signs in front of the building, and construct metal doors. No, not the case this time (although metal doors and neon signs will always be a controversial issue in this Civil War town.)

In this case, the Chambersburg Street church was built illegally (five years ago), and its operator (the U.S. Christian Commission) has been told to comply with zoning laws, or shut it down. The illegally-built log chapel in downtown Gettysburg didn’t receive welcoming reviews during two separate meetings Monday and Tuesday night, before the town’s Planning Commission and Historical Architectural Review Board.

It’s no surprise. The chapel, according to borough officials, shouldn’t be there — at 112 Chambersburg Street — in the first place. It was built five years ago, without proper permits, and doesn’t meet zoning laws, such as stormwater management, parking, electric, plumbing and ADA codes. The borough wants the church, owned by the U.S. Christian Commission, to comply or disappear. Compliance won’t be easy.

Town planners and HARB members aren’t happy that the church was built in the first place, without complying with borough laws. Borough Planner Merry V. Bush noted that in 2005-06, U.S. Christian Commission Director John Wega presented plans for a fence and deck, and “that’s it.” “That’s what he got approved for, (and) nothing else,” she explained.

The five-member planning commission, missing two members Monday night, determined that it couldn’t make a decision, and that the U.S. Christian Commission should go before the town’s Zoning Hearing Board for a ruling. Twenty-four hours later, HARB denied a certificate of appropriateness application filed by Wega and the USCC, pointing out that the chapel ignored zoning laws over the past five years. “You knew HARB was here. You built it (the wooden chapel) anyway,” HARB Vice Chairman Elwood W. Christ told Wega.

In 2002-03, a fire leveled an apartment building at 112 Chambersburg Street, and caused damage to the neighboring property, the Ragged Edge Coffee Shop. Three years later, the USCC appeared before HARB, seeking permission to construct a fence and walled platform at the site for church services. At that time, the re-enactors elected to employ a tent to hold period services and discussions within.

Since then, the property evolved into a Civil War style log chapel, which Wega believes is a tourist attraction. But no permits were issued, borough leaders argue. “You never came to us to do this (erect a wooden structure),” said HARB member Peggy Gustafson.

Christ added that the “building itself is not harmonious with the streetscape. This is not appropriate for the downtown...(This is not an) appropriate site for this type of structure.” Gettysburg Borough Council Vice President Holliday Giles and Councilwoman Alice Estrada have voiced favorable comments about the church, noting that it adds character and ambience to the Civil War town. Wega has said that the church represents an “historical experience” and that it’s a tourist attraction.

Similarly, Hanover resident Jane Lingenfelder — who attends services at the chapel — believes that the building is “so much more than a church.” “It has a positive historic presence,” she said. “It’s so positive that I’m asking you to do whatever it takes to keep it here.” “It’s become an icon.” The future doesn’t look promising for the popular church on Chambersburg Street. It’s an unfortunate situation, that would have avoided this scrutiny, if the laws were followed in the first place.

Text and Image Source: Gettysburg Times

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

News---Discovery of Georgia Camp Site Reveals Prisoners' Lives

Major Archaeological Find At Site Of Civil War Prison, Phil Gast, CNN, August 17, 2010.
The discovery of the exact location of a stockade and dozens of personal artifacts belonging to its Union prisoners is one of the biggest archaeological Civil War finds in decades, federal and Georgia officials said Monday. Outside of scholars and Civil War buffs, few people have heard of the Confederacy's Camp Lawton, which replaced the infamous and overcrowded Andersonville prison in fall 1864.

For nearly 150 years, its exact location was not known, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Georgia Southern University said. Georgia Southern students earlier this year began their search at a state park and federal fish hatchery for evidence of the wall timbers and interior buildings. "Archaeologists call it one of the most significant Civil War discoveries in decades," a joint statement read.

Officials would provide no details until the formal announcement Wednesday morning at Magnolia Springs State Park, five miles north of Millen in southeast Georgia. An open house for the public will follow from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Life at Lawton, described as "foul and fetid," wasn't much better than at Andersonville, with the exception of plentiful water from Magnolia Springs. In its six weeks' existence, between 725 and 1,330 men died at the prison camp. The 42-acre stockade held about 10,000 men before it was hastily closed when Union forces approached.

Monday's announcement follows weeks of speculation that began after a locked chain-linked fence went up around the hatchery adjoining the state park. Townspeople in nearby Millen made the secrecy part of their water cooler discussions. "It's created a lot of buzz, what's going on out there," said Connie Lee, owner of Cindy's Cafe, a popular meeting place in the town of about 3,500.

Rumors have included the discovery of a chest with important papers, gold, a burial trench and, yes, even Union Gen. William Sherman's horse. There are no photos of Lawton and few visual stockade details, although a Union mapmaker painted some important watercolors of the prison. He also kept a 5,000-page journal that detailed the misery at Camp Lawton, which was built to hold up to 40,000prisoners.

"The weather has been rainy and cold at nights," Pvt. Robert Knox Sneden, who was previously imprisoned at Andersonville, wrote in his diary on Nov. 1, 1864. "Many prisoners have died from exposure, as not more than half of us have any shelter but a blanket propped upon sticks. . . . Our rations have grown smaller in bulk too, and we have the same hunger as of old."

The impending arrival of Federal forces during Sherman's March to the Sea soon forced the Confederates to move the prisoners elsewhere, including Florence, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. In early December 1864, Union cavalry found the empty prison, a freshly dug area and a board reading "650 buried here." Outraged, troops apparently burned much of the stockade and the camp buildings, and a depot and a hotel in Millen, which was a transportation hub.

Many of the state park facilities -- including a pool, houses and the main office -- sit atop the prison site. Some earthworks, long known to visitors and historians, survived. The artifacts will deepen the knowledge of the tough daily life of prisoners and guards alike, said a historian who has completed a manuscript on the camp. "[Lawton] illustrates almost every Civil War POW issue," said John K. Derden, professor emeritus at East Georgia College which has campuses in nearby Statesboro and Swainsboro.

Derden cited health conditions, death rates, prisoner exchanges and the South's dwindling ability to manage a population where disease and poor sanitation were in abundance. Until now, Andersonville was the sole POW camp in the South to capture the public's attention and imagination. Besides the camp's own horrors, Clara Barton made Andersonville famous through her extensive campaign to have POW graves found and soldiers reinterred at a national cemetery. The prison's commandant, Henry H. Wirz, was hanged in 1865, the only man to be hanged for war crimes during the Civil War. Monuments dot Andersonville National Historic Site, which drew 136,000 visitors last year. A 1996 movie tells its story. None of that happened at Camp Lawton, where time and its remote location put it on the road to obscurity, fortunately for archaeologists.

That promises to change beginning Wednesday, when the public will get its first glimpse of what life might have been like for prisoners, many of whom had been moved to Lawton from Andersonville. Lee and Walter Bragg, owner of Millen Auto Parts, hope anything associated with the discovery will boost the depressed area, where a 10.7 percent unemployment rate exceeds the state average. "Our county [Jenkins] needs something to revitalize Millen," Lee said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Georgia Southern University on Wednesday plan to announce some major Civil War archaeological discoveries.

For nearly 150 years, the exact location of the stockade at Camp Lawton, which was a Confederate prison camp that was abandoned in 1864, had been unknown, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Archaeologists from Georgia Southern University have located the stockade site and found several personal artifacts that were left behind by Civil War soldiers. Archaeologists say it is one of the most significant Civil War discoveries in decades. A news conference of the Camp Lawton findings is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Magnolia Springs State Park in Millen, Ga.

Text Sources: CNN and WALB

Images' Source: Camp Lawton Site

Monday, August 16, 2010

News---Is North Carolina's Civil War 40,275 Body Count Accurate? 2,000 NC Federals Found? No Black Rebels Died?

Historian Reviews NC's Civil War Death Count, Associated Press, August 09, 2010.

North Carolina's claim that it lost the most men during the Civil War is getting a recount from a state historian who doubts the accuracy of the accepted, 144-year-old estimate.

"The time has come to get it right," said Josh Howard, a research historian with the Office of Archives and History in Raleigh. "Nobody has gone through man by man looking for the deaths." Howard is reviewing the military records of every Tar Heel who served in the 1861-65 conflict, as the state prepares to mark its sesquicentennial, The News & Record of Greensboro reported Monday.

Since shortly after the war ended, North Carolina has boasted that it sacrificed more men to the Confederate cause than any other state, at 40,275. That's more than twice the death toll of South Carolina, where the war's first shots were fired. It suffered the second-highest toll at 17,682. "This has sort of been the North Carolina badge of honor," says Keith Hardison, director of the Division of State Historic Sites and Properties. It was "held out as gospel, and it may be gospel. If it is, we need to have the figures to back it up. If it is not, we need to correct it."

Since 1866, the number of Civil War deaths has been attributed to a federal study by Gen. James B. Fry, the U.S. provost marshal general. Fry and his clerks examined Union and captured Confederate muster rolls and regimental reports to determine the toll from fighting, disease, accidents and those who died in prison. But Fry's figures were "incorrect and misguided," Howard said, because clerks relied on incomplete records, sometimes counted the same case twice, and identified units as being from North Carolina when they were from another state. Additionally, some records were lost and some casualty reports may have been exaggerated. "Officers did that to keep the enemy in the dark," Howard said. "Or it showed you were in the thick of the fight."

If North Carolina's numbers are wrong, then the numbers for other states are wrong as well because they all come from the same faulty sources, he said. Howard is basing his review on a 17-volume roster of Tar Heels who served on either side of the conflict - a project that was launched in the 1960s to commemorate the war's 100-year anniversary and continues with the state history office. For units not yet collected in the series, Howard will rely on military service records in the National Archives. He expects to examine the records of more than 140,000 men. By Friday, Howard had confirmed 29,418 North Carolina war dead.

While many died in battle for the Confederacy, most died of disease. Others died from drowning, lightning strikes, suicide, bar fights, train wrecks, riots, execution for desertion, accidental shootings, collapsing buildings, insect and snake bites, falls, or being run over by wagons.

The research also found that about 2,000 North Carolinians, black and white, died during service in the Union army. No cases of blacks who died while serving in North Carolina's Confederate ranks have been found, although some have argued that blacks did fight for the South. Howard is getting help from members of the Garner chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which had separately started its own study. "We are going to compare our lists. We are coming at it from two different angles," said Charles Purser, a retired Air Force master sergeant who led the veterans' group's research.

The study is unlikely to change the fact that a third of the state's men of military age died during the Civil War. "I don't think it matters if it is 30,000 or 40,000," said Tom Belton, curator of military history and the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. "It's a significant number of North Carolinians who gave their lives for a cause they thought was worth dying for."

Text Source: News-Observer.com
Top Image Source: North Carolina Monuments, Gettysburg
Second Image Source: North Carolina Department of Geology

News--- Brady's Collection from National Archives Now At Flickr

Mathew Brady (1823-1896) was one of the most prolific photographers of the nineteenth century, creating a visual documentation of the Civil War period (1860-1865). During the Civil War, Brady and his associates traveled throughout the eastern part of the country, capturing the effects of the War through photographs of people, towns, and battlefields. Additionally, Brady kept studios in Washington, DC and New York City, where many influential politicians and war heroes sat for portraits.

The U.S. National Archives has digitized over 6,000 images from the series Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes (National Archives's Local Identifier 111-B) and included them in our online catalog. We plan to upload all of the ones available in the online catalog to Flickr gradually over a few months.

To better aid researchers, we have created topical sets on Flickr that organize the photos in a meaningful way. These sets are constantly added to as more photos are available on Flickr. Sixty-two sets contain photos of common and uncommon Civil War locations, individuals, structures such as: entrenchments, defenses, forts, breastworks, earthworks, gabions, abatis, cities, battlefields, casualities of war and many others.

Text and Image Source: Link to Image Source and Brady Collection

News---The Lessons of Civil War Reenacting: Biases, Epiphanies, and Education

Remove Second-Guessing From American History, David Christy, News Editor, Enid (Oklahoma)News and Eagle, August 13, 2010.

I doubt it’s a recent phenomenon and it probably goes back to biblical times, but second-guessing and Monday-morning quarterbacking by people in every walk of life is as much an American pastime as watching fireworks on the Fourth of July or rooting for your favorite college football team. It’s as all-American as apple pie and drinking cold beer on a hot day after mowing the grass.

But for historians, second-guessing history is something of a pitfall — it should be avoided at all costs lest said historians’ bias and beliefs slip in and cloud the final picture. You see, it’s my contention we all should look at history and historical events from all sides, with as little bias as possible and with the most open mind we can muster.

Most who are familiar with me know I spent nearly 25 years as a Civil War living history re-enactor.

Re-enacting history, in my own view, is a way for an individual to go back in time on the odd weekend and attempt to live in the shoes and act the part of an individual from a bygone era. In this case I was able, within certain limitations and obvious boundaries, to try and re-create history in my own mind, and at the same time provide the public with a snapshot of how an individual soldier during the American Civil War would have lived, would have reacted, would have thought and would have interacted with others.

Re-enacting Civil War battles is not for everyone. It’s grueling, time-consuming, dirty, sometimes dangerous and most times a very mentally challenging hobby. Not only that, it’s a little on the expensive side to authentically outfit yourself both as a Confederate and Union soldier, constantly do research, travel around the country and find time to take a three- or four-day weekend to lose yourself in mid-19th century America with tens of thousands of other like-thinking re-enactors.

But ... it was an absolute epiphany.

So, when I see an author or historian who writes a book and questions how a particular Civil War general made his battlefield decisions, or a politician or president reacted to a situation, I always hope the author of the second-guessing has been there and done that, so to speak.

My first Civil War re-enactment occurred in the late-1980s at the Indian Territory Battle of Honey Springs, in all-encompassing 110-degree July heat, ticks, chiggers and powdered dust near a little creek and wooded area called Rentiesville, north of Checotah in McIntosh County. After two days of marching and fighting and putting on a show for thousands of appreciative spectators, I had lost 10 pounds and was hooked on re-enacting for life.

The next 24 years were full of building impressions of both a Confederate and a Union infantry soldier, studying and working to be as historically accurate as is possible for a 20th century individual, who didn’t have to live in those trying and history-altering times.

The first and most lasting thing I learned from travels to hundreds of places like Wilson’s Creek, Mo., Chickamauga, Ga., Franklin, Tenn., Vicksburg, Miss., and Mansfield, La., — my hat is off to the men and women who lived through those times, and helped us to get to where we are in history today.

Don’t believe me? Try wearing a heavy-wool uniform, long johns, lugging an 11 lb. musket and about 25 pounds of leather gear, water and food in heavy-leather, high-top Jefferson brogans about 15-20 miles during an average re-enactment, eat homemade hardtack and biscuits and wake up shivering in a thin canvas tent while sleeping on the hard ground when its 15 degrees.

It will open your eyes. More than a few historians over the years have questioned why the Confederates didn’t follow up their rout of the Union troops at the Battle of First Bull Run, capture Washington and end the war in 1861. Or, why Union generals George McClellan and George Meade didn’t pursue their battlefield successes at Antietam and Gettysburg and end the Civil War in 1862 and 1863, respectively.

If you’ve ever re-enacted a battle, you know why. Physical exhaustion, mental fatigue and sheer hunger and thirst are overwhelming. Any soldier in any real war will attest to that. And re-enactors aren’t being shot at in anger with real bullets and real artillery shells. There’s no dead or dying comrades. After the battle they aren’t forced to march mile after mile in freezing temperatures, over rivers of mud or in 100-degree heat, day after day after day.

History is made by the sacrifice of flesh and blood and intestinal fortitude. It is not made by historians — it’s only chronicled as best we can. It does dishonor to those who lived, fought and died to do otherwise. Keeping bias out of history is the ultimate goal. It allows us to see events and decisions and outcomes from different perspectives. It allows us to learn by mistakes made and keep the past from being tainted by our own individual mores — historically speaking.

Text Source: Enid News and Eagle
Image Source: Civil War Librarian, Bentonville, NC 2010.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New and Noteworthy: Children's Book on 8th Wisconsin and Mascot

Old Abe, Eagle Hero, Patrick Young, illustrated by Anne Lee, Kane Miller Publisher, Ages 5-9, 48 Pages, jacketed hardcover,$15.99.

A bald eagle that inspired the nation during the darkest days of the American Civil War is the subject of a dramatic picture book for young children. Old Abe, Eagle Hero: The Civil War’s Most Famous Mascot is the little-known story of an eagle that served as a Union mascot and was a veteran of twenty-five major battles. This “biography” of Old Abe gives kids a new point of view from which to experience the Civil War, a defining event in American history.

Captured as an eaglet and named in honor of President Abraham Lincoln, Old Abe braved bullets, shells, and cannon balls, his courage never flagging. He could shake hands with his soldier friends, drink from a canteen, and sound the alarm when a stranger was approaching. Newspapers dubbed him “The Eagle Hero,” and for people on the home front he took on an almost-mythic status as a symbol of the Union.

Readers ages 5-9 will be fascinated by the amazing bond between man and bird in this unearthed piece of Americana revised and updated for a new audience. Evocative, ink and watercolor illustrations and simple, straightforward text make Old Abe the perfect, accessible introduction to the Civil War. An endnote gives facts about Bald Eagles.

Author Patrick Young is the great-grandson of Capt. Victor Wolf, commander of Company C of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, “the Eagle Company,” during much of the American Civil War, and he grew up hearing stories about Old Abe from his grandmother and mother. He is a science and medical writer whose articles have appeared in Smithsonian, Good Housekeeping, Parade, and Popular Science. His seven books include five for children and young adults. Illustrator Anne Lee grew up in Colorado, and now lives in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania, where she has been lucky enough to see Bald Eagles on the shores of the Allegheny River .

Text [with edits] and Image Souce: Kane Miller Publishing

New and Noteworthy Novel: My Name Is Mary Sutter and I am Civil War Nurse and Aspiring Doctor

My Name Is Mary Sutter: A Novel, Robin Oliveira, Viking Publishing, 384 pages, $26.95,

Well versed in the scholarship of Civil War era medicine and urban life, My Name Is Mary Sutter offers a well defined historical setting with characters that have struggles common to men and women in any era. Oliveira's novel is enjoyable for readers are looking for a medical setting, a romance, and a war story with civilians playing a major role.

There is no gratuitous battlefield violence but stark pictures of midwifery and battlefield surgery. At times the characters carry themselves forward but at other times the author gives them a shove into action. The hearts and hands of male doctors and female nurses are often in conflict in this 19th century setting. For this reader, the tour of Washington D.C. hospitals and a tragic fire were compelling episodes. My Name is Mary Sutter has both unique and stock characters described at times with a fine dramatic pace and at times with tedious slowness. Overall, My Name Is Mary Sutter repays the reader for the time invested. After all, Graham Greene [notable British author] described his own work as primarily 'entertainments.' My Name Is Mary Sutter achieves that.

Monday, August 09, 2010

News: $25,000 Frederick Douglass Book Prize Finalists Announced

Yale University's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, has announced the finalists for the Twelfth Annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize, one of the most coveted awards for the study of the African-American experience.

The finalists are: Judith A. Carney and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff for In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa's Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World (University of California Press); Siddharth Kara for Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery (Columbia University Press); and Robert E. McGlone for John Brown's War Against Slavery (Cambridge University Press). The $25,000 annual award for the year's best non-fiction book on slavery,resistance, and/or abolition is the most generous history prize in its field. The winner will be announced following the Douglass Prize Review Committee meeting in, and the award will be presented at a dinner at the Yale Club of New York on February 24, 2011.

The Frederick Douglass Prize was established in 1999 to stimulate scholarship in the field by honoring outstanding accomplishments. Previous winners are Ira Berlin and Philip D. Morgan in 1999; David Eltis, 2000; David Blight, 2001; Robert Harms and John Stauffer, 2002; James F. Brooks and Seymour Drescher, 2003; Jean Fagan Yellin, 2004; Laurent Dubois, 2005; Rebecca J. Scott, 2006; Christopher Leslie Brown, 2007; Stephanie Smallwood, 2008; and Annette Gordon-Reed, 2009.

The award is named for Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), the one-time slave who escaped bondage to emerge as one of the great American abolitionists, reformers, writers, and orators of the nineteenth century. Eighty books were nominated this year.

In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa's Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World, by Judith A. Carney and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff (University of California Press), tells the fascinating story of how enslaved Africans shaped and changed the landscape of the New World. With remarkable originality, the authors reveal how the men and women of the Middle Passage wielded their agricultural experience as part of the unending struggle to control their own lives. Interpreting archival evidence with both rigor and creativity, Carney and Rosomoff explore the provisioning of slave ships, the transfer and diffusion of African horticultural knowledge, the botanical gardens of slaves, and the gastronomic legacies of black slavery, among many other intriguing topics. Comprehensive and compelling, this is a work of truly global dimensions that narrates the ordeal of enslavement as a simultaneous story of food, memory, and survival.

Siddharth Kara's book Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery (Columbia University Press) carefully and compassionately convinces us to understand the phenomenon of modern-day human sex trafficking as part of the history of slavery and abolition. As an investigative reporter, Kara posed as a customer across Asia, Europe, and the United States, entangling himself with perpetrators and speaking confidentially with victims. Sidestepping sensationalism and absent any delusion of casting himself as a rescuer, Kara relates wrenching stories in lucid prose, thereby shedding a strong and steady beam of light on a widespread and ongoing global crime. With an exemplary mixture of courage and humility, the author combines a gripping first-person narrative with trenchant economic analysis and clear-eyed proposals for change. In the end, this book prevents us from consigning slavery to the past.

John Brown's War Against Slavery, by Robert E. McGlone (Cambridge University Press), tells a new version of the story of John Brown by taking on the most perplexing question of all: Why did John Brown carry out the raid at Harper's Ferry? With a fine balance of narration and interpretation, McGlone offers a meticulous re-creation of Brown's life, returning to old questions and asking new ones. No quest for seamless analysis, McGlone's story embraces complexity as he charts transformations in Brown's family alongside the shifting political world of the antebellum United States. This absorbing and learned book ultimately portrays a keen, compassionate, and conflicted abolitionist who made a purposeful decision to go forward with a plot that was sure to fail, but only in the most literal sense.

Text Source: Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, Yale University

Image Source: First Edition of Douglass' autobiography; In The Shadow of Slavery ; Sex Trafficking; John Brown's War Against Slavery

Friday, August 06, 2010

News: Civil War Chaplains' Museum To Host Fredericksburg Film

The film The Angel of Marye's Heights, (2010, 29 minutes)will be shown Saturday September 18 at 7:30 in room 113 of the De Moss Learning Center on the campus of Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virgina. This half-hour dramatic Civil War documentary covering the life and legacy of Confederate Sgt. Richard Kirkland who climbed the stonewall at one of the bloodiest battle of the war to give water to his wounded enemies. The image of this young South Carolina soldier holding a canteen to the lips of a fallen foe has been memorialized in many mediums but never in film. In essence, the memory of Richard Kirkland as a 'Southern Samaritan' is even larger than the selfless act he performed. This moment of mercy has become a major symbol of light amidst the darkness of war. This film examines both Kirkland's act and the commemoration of it. Tickets are $5 and $3 with the proceeds going to the Civil War Chaplains Museum. This new endeavor can be found online at http://chaplainmuseum.org/

CWL: The film was funded by the Fredericksburg, Virginia based Foundation of Civil War Life. It can be found online.

Text Source: Internet Movie Database

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Wide Awake In 1860 America: In Search of Young Men For Voting and Fighting

"Young Men for War: The Wide Awakes and Lincoln's 1860 Presidential Campaign," Jon Grinspan, Journal of American History, 96:2, 2009.

The initial Wide Awake club was founded in March 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut but with two months, from Bangor Maine to San Fransico California major cities and rural counties boated local chapters. Even upper South cities, such as Baltimore, Wheeling, and St. Louis held chatpters. The youth and militancy of the members differentiated it from other political organizations during the 1860 presidential campaign.

Social events, fraternal memberships, the publication of comic books and the wearing of goatees, attracted younger voters. A generation deeply shaken by the spectacle of partisan electioneering and instability seemed to be looking for a political identity that took their youth into account. An emphasis upon military-type organization and uniforms with social behaviour short of violence offered social strengths and voices to those who had yet to vote due to age or had voted in one or two presidential elections.

Parades and rallies in Pittsburgh, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston and other cities and counties of Wide Awake members, clad in black raincoats and black hats, carrying torchs and marching in military ranks and files startled Northern politicans and enhanced fears lurking in Southern hearts. Total membership numbers cannot be obtained but marchers thoughout the North may have totaledd 70,000. An estimate of 100,000 individuals seems reasonable which would translate into one percent of the 2009 U.S. population. Grinspan, the author, does not provide a figure for the percentage of Northern voters in the 1860 election that 100,000 would represent.

In a fine review of the past 150 years of literature, Grinspan reviews and disputes attempts by social and political historians to characterize the Wide Awakes as being coerced by an abundance of alcohol, the temptation to group violence, and a sheep-like disposition to follow the loudest political voice. Conversely, Grinspan states that the Wide Awake movement demonstrates the existence of a middle ground neglected by social and political historians. Wide Awakes grew from local conditions and from the bottom-up not the national conditions and from the top-down.

In general campaign clubs foster competition, used appealing symbols and offered a program of mass events. Grinspan finds that the Wide Awakes surpassed local and national expectations in each of the three categories. The Wide Awake movement was birthed in Connecticut, grew in central Illinois and southern Wisconsin, then reached to central New York, southern New Jersey and southern Maine. There appears to have been 250 Wide Awake chapters in the North with Chicago containing 48 of them. States such as Massachusetts, Vermont, and Michigan [each a Republican bastion] had few and apparently quiet chapters. The movement appears to have thrive in sections that contained hot political contents. The first chapters were organized to supply as body gaurds for Republican and Free Soil public speakers.

Grinspan likens the growth and movement through society of the Wide Awakes to a colorful dye dropped into a city's water supply. During the twelve months, March 1860 to February 1861, the movement appeared to be a spontaneous but the author states that it was a fascinating and deliberate effort that used the new communication technology of telegraphic news. Appealing to political, generational and social conditions, the Wide Awake movement took advantage of the new network of partisn newspapers and militia fever. A uniform could be purchased for two dollars and local talent, Ulysses Grant for example, taught precision marching.

Bloodshed during Wide Awake mass demonstrations occurred in politically competitive cities of the lower North. Marchs were ambushed by rock and brick throwing opponents who damned and threaten to kill demonstrators who at times gave as good as they got. Guns sparked, knives flashed and clubs splintered. The Wide Awakes did not keep their marching formation when attacked; some fled and some assaulted their attackers. Marchers never displayed weapons but hid them under their raincoats. Focusing upon confronting northern Democrats, the Wide Awakes rarely considered the impression they were having on the South.

Southerners came to view the Wide Awakes as part of the Republican alledged coercion. In many Southern minds, the Republican presidential would appoint for the South Republican postmasters and possibly organize Wide Awake chapters. Such events would move the South from a one-party political system two a two-party political system.

And then the war came.

Images' Sources: Wide Awake America 1860

Monday, August 02, 2010

New and Noteworthy: Mississippi's Wartime Homefront

Mississippi in the Civil War: The Home FrontTimoth B. Smith, niversity of Mississippi Press, illustrations, bibliography, index, $40.00.

In Mississippi in the Civil War: The Home Front, Timothy B. Smith examines Mississippi’s Civil War defeat by both outside and inside forces.

The Union army dismantled the state’s political system, infrastructure, economy, and fighting capability. The state saw extensive military operations, destruction, and bloodshed within her borders. One of the most frightful and extended sieges of the war ended in a crucial Confederate defeat at Vicksburg, the capstone to a tremendous Union campaign.

As Confederate forces in Mississippi became overwhelmed militarily, the white populace’s morale began to crumble. Realizing that the enemy could roll unchecked over the state, civilians, Smith argues, began to lose the will to continue the struggle. Many white Confederates chose to return to the Union rather than see continued destruction in the name of a victory that seemed ever more improbable. When the tide turned, Unionists and African Americans boldly stepped up their endeavors. The result, Smith finds, was a state vanquished and destined to endure suffering far into its future.

The first examination of the state’s Civil War home front in seventy years, this book focuses new light on previously neglected groups such as women and African Americans and it is the fourth book in the Heritage of Mississippi Series.

Tim Smith teaches history at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He is the author of several books, including The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and Battlefield and Champion Hill: Decisive Battle for Vicksburg.

Text Source: Mississippi Department of Archives and History