Saturday, October 30, 2010

New---Into the Crater: The Mine Attack at Petersburg

Into the Crater: The Mine Attack at Petersburg, Earl J. Hess, University of South Carolina Press, 352 pages, $44.95.

From Publisher: The battle of the Crater on July 30, 1864, was the defining event in the 292-day campaign around Petersburg, Virginia, in the Civil War and one of the most famous engagements in American military history. Although the bloody combat of that "horrid pit" has been recently revisited as the centerpiece of the novel and film versions of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, the battle has yet to receive a definitive historical study. Distinguished Civil War historian Earl J. Hess fills that gap in the literature of the Civil War with Into the Crater.

The Crater was central in Ulysses S. Grant's third offensive at Petersburg and required digging of a five-hundred-foot mine shaft under enemy lines and detonating of four tons of gunpowder to destroy a Confederate battery emplacement. The resulting infantry attack through the breach in Robert E. Lee's line failed terribly, costing Grant nearly four thousand troops, among them many black soldiers fighting in their first battle. The outnumbered defenders of the breach saved Confederate Petersburg and inspired their comrades with renewed hope in the lengthening campaign to possess this important rail center.

In this narrative account of the Crater and its aftermath, Hess identifies the most reliable evidence to be found in hundreds of published and unpublished eyewitness accounts, official reports, and historic photographs. Archaeological studies and field research on the ground itself, now preserved within the Petersburg National Battlefield, complement the archival and published sources. Hess re-creates the battle in lively prose saturated with the sights and sounds of combat at the Crater in moment-by-moment descriptions that bring modern readers into the chaos of close range combat. Hess discusses field fortifications as well as the leadership of Union generals Grant, George Meade, and Ambrose Burnside, and of Confederate generals Lee, P. G. T. Beauregard, and A. P. Hill. He also chronicles the atrocities committed against captured black soldiers, both in the heat of battle and afterward, and the efforts of some Confederate officers to halt this vicious conduct.

The Blurbs

Hess has produced yet another Civil War classic--a compelling narrative and astute analysis of one of its most dramatic and most confusing battles. Using a vast array of unpublished and published accounts by combatants to craft a masterful moment-by-moment examination of the Battle of the Crater and its immediate aftermath, this is the clearest picture yet of how a Federal mine was built underneath the Confederate lines at Petersburg, how the assault against those lines was planned and executed, and why it ultimately failed. . . . Into The Crater is everything we have come to expect and appreciate from Hess's previous landmark studies: authoritative, persuasive, accessible, and simply indispensable.---J. Tracy Power, author of Lee's Miserables: Life in the Army of Northern Virginia from the Wilderness to Appomattox

With impressive research and persuasive interpretation, Earl J. Hess paints a comprehensive picture of one of the most intriguing episodes of the Civil War. This book cuts through the confusion in the Crater with poignant clarity, surpassing all previous renditions of that fascinating story.---William Marvel, author of Lincoln's Darkest Year: The War in 1862

In this most detailed account ever produced of the unusual July, 1864, battle at Petersburg, Virginia, Hess challenges several traditional beliefs. This is a must-have book for anyone who studies Civil War military history in depth.---James I. Robertson, Jr., , biographer of Stonewall Jackson and Alumni Distinguished Professor in History, Virginia Tech

Hess applies his many gifts as a historian to one of the Civil War's remarkable military incidents. The battle of the Crater combined impressive engineering, inept leadership, the first appearance of black soldiers on a large scale in the Virginia theater, and bitter combat--all of which Hess handles beautifully. Both enjoyable and instructive, the narrative amply rewards a careful reading.---Gary W Gallagher, author of The Confederate War and well respected Civil War author, teacher and speaker.

"With his encyclopedic research and impressive narrative style, Earl J. Hess sets a new standard in modern studies of the Battle of the Crater, one of the most unique military actions of the American Civil War."—--William Glenn Robertson, director of the Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth.

CWL---Hess usually casts a wide net for primary sources and has done fine work on field fortifications and the rifled musket.
Yet it is difficult to imagine that Into the Crater exceeds Richard Slotkin's No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864. Slotkin's research and strong, even thrilling, narrative is probably be a notch above Hess' Into the Crater more mundane narrative approach. Sometime in 2011 CWL will pick up Into the Crater, read it an report back.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

News---Penn State University Launches A People's Contest, Civil War Weblog

Earlier this summer, CWL participated in a survey that considered the kinds of resources and content that might make a Civil War-era weblog useful. Responses to the survey guided Penn State's Richards Civil War Era Center which now offers a new blog, A People's Contest. The weblog covers a wide range of academic and popular culture issues relation to preservation, Southern heritage issues,

Great finds of the wwwsite include: a YouTube video of the Sons of Confederates' summer camp for youth that includes seven hours of classes a day, Pittsburgh's Soldiers and Sailors National Museum organizing of the Pennsylvania Grand Review Project that celebrates African-Americans' service to the Union during the Civil War, the discovery and preservation of Duffy's Cut that holds a mass grave of 57 Irish laborers, and the remarks of scholars visiting the Richard's Civil War Era Center.

CWL strongly recommends bookmarking A People's Conflict which can be found at

Image Source: Wordpress

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Novel---The First Assasin: Fire Eaters Hire Professional Killer To Deal With Lincoln

The First Assassin, John J. Miller, Amazon Encore Publishing, 450 pp., 2010, $14.95.

Set in Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Charleston, S.C., The First Assassin is a fast paced, tightly knit, speculative story of a murder attempt on Lincoln immediately after the Baltimore Plot of January and February 1861. South Carolinian planter Langston Bennett, hires the assassin. Mazorca, Latin American para-military sociopath, is aided by Violet Grenier, a Washington, D.C. socialite and Southern sympathizer.

In their way is Portia, a slave on Bennett's plantation and Rook, an aide to Winfield Scott, commander of all Federal forces. Portia's mission is to escape from Charleston and deliver the assassin's photograph to President Lincoln. Rook is knowing that the Baltimore plot was the first attempt but may not be the last of the attempts that will be made on Lincoln.

Miller's novel is of two worlds. He has done his background reading in Lincoln's life, wartime Washington D.C., and slave plantations. He also appears to be quite immersed in the past decade's 'political thriller' and detective novels. The First Assassin's pace is fast and it's characters tend to be a bit over-the-top. Historic in details, thrilling in pace, and driven by a modern sensibility, The First Assassin will most likely be found in stores in the mystery-detection-thriller shelves and not on the historical fiction shelves.

Image Source
: First Assassin

CWL--- Wide Awake Production of Chickamauga Hits High Mark

Chickamauga! High Tide In The West, Wide Awake Films, 2006, 50 minutes, $19.95.

CWL decided to buy a couple of films for a Great Battles of the Civil War discussion group. Hmmmm? Wide Awake Films? Lionheart Films? Media Magic? Previous experience had shown that the latter two may have uneven production and inconsistent story editing. On the other hand, Wide Awake was unfamiliar. Chickamauga! High Tide In the West has the best reenactment footage, storyline, narrative style CWL has seen in a long time.

Positive Factors: 1.)No intrusive talking heads. The single narrator is a voice over. 2.) A smoothly written, clearly and concisely written script. 3) The essential maps are sharp and not simplistically crafted. 4.) The film footage is not repetitious and 12 guys in uniform are not passed off as a brigade. 5.) Whatever reenactment was captured on film . . . well . . . wish I had participated in it. It was huge and loud 6.) The combat sound was crisp and not intrusive on the narrative.

The film editing was well done and had variety to it. Live action and slow motion, black/white and color, steady cams and hand held cameras, still photography and archival photos. "The best Civil War footage gathered thus far," Ed Bearss, highly respected chief historian emeritus for the National Park Service on the film's case. Don Troiani, noted Civil War artist [CWL as several of his prints] and avid collector of authentic Civil War artifacts and uniforms, said the the film has a "standard in historical accuracy rarely met by film documentaries" and is very realistic. CWL agrees with both.

The film offers a brief review of the generals and the armies involved in the Chickamauga campaign and its place in 1863, a year of battles east and west.
Chickamauga is a battle by brigades and in Peter Cozzen's book on the battle, CWL counted 15 brigades mentioned in one long paragraph. The script writers understood this element. Neither a compendium of the battle or a eighth grade level discussion of the battle, Chickamauga! deftly presents the complexity of the battle without getting lost in its details. Primary sources and the soldiers' words are used to summarize movements and characterize battle action.

Overall, the film was well received in the discussion group and CWL gives Chickamauga! high marks and feels comfortable adding a few more Wide Awake films on the personal bookshelf.

Friday, October 22, 2010

News---Elementary School Text States Black Confederates Fought Under Jackson

Virginia 4th-Grade Textbook Criticized Over Claims On Black Confederate Soldiers, Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, October 20, 2010.

A textbook distributed to Virginia fourth-graders says that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War -- a claim rejected by most historians but often made by groups seeking to play down slavery's role as a cause of the conflict.

"Thousands of Southern blacks fought in Confederate ranks, including two black battalions under the command Stonewall Jackson."

The passage appears in "Our Virginia: Past and Present," which was distributed in the state's public elementary schools for the first time last month. The author, Joy Masoff, who is not a trained historian but has written several books, said she found the information about black Confederate soldiers primarily through Internet research, which turned up work by members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Scholars are nearly unanimous in calling these accounts of black Confederate soldiers a misrepresentation of history. Virginia education officials, after being told by The Washington Post of the issues related to the textbook, said that the vetting of the book was flawed and that they will contact school districts across the state to caution them against teaching the passage. "Just because a book is approved doesn't mean the Department of Education endorses every sentence," said spokesman Charles Pyle. He also called the book's assertion about black Confederate soldiers "outside mainstream Civil War scholarship."

Masoff defended her work. "As controversial as it is, I stand by what I write," she said. "I am a fairly respected writer." The issues first came to light after College of William & Mary historian Carol Sheriff opened her daughter's copy of "Our Virginia" and saw the reference to black Confederate soldiers. "It's disconcerting that the next generation is being taught history based on an unfounded claim instead of accepted scholarship," Sheriff said. "It concerns me not just as a professional historian but as a parent."

Virginia, which is preparing to mark the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, has long struggled to appropriately commemorate its Confederate past. The debate was reinvigorated this spring, when Gov. Robert F. Mc­Don­nell introduced "Confederate History Month" in Virginia without mentioning slavery's role in the Civil War. He later apologized. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group of male descendants of Confederate soldiers based in Columbia, Tenn., has long maintained that substantial numbers of black soldiers fought for the South The group's historian-in-chief, Charles Kelly Barrow, has written the book "Black Confederates."

The Sons of Confederate Veterans also disputes the widely accepted conclusion that the struggle over slavery was the main cause of the Civil War. Instead, the group says, the war was fought "to preserve their homes and livelihood," according to John Sawyer, chief of staff of the Sons of Confederate Veterans' Army of Northern Virginia. He said the group was pleased that a state textbook accepted some of its views.

The state's curriculum requires textbook publishers and educators to explore the role African Americans played in the Confederacy, including their work on plantations and on the sidelines of battle. Those standards have evolved in recent years to make lessons on the Civil War more inclusive in a state that is growing increasingly diverse. When Masoff began work on the textbook, she said she consulted a variety of sources -- history books, experts and the Internet. But when it came to one of the Civil War's most controversial themes -- the role of African Americans in the Confederacy -- she relied primarily on an Internet search.

The book's publisher, Five Ponds Press, based in Weston, Conn., sent a Post reporter three of the links Masoff found on the Internet. Each referred to work by Sons of the Confederate Veterans or others who contend that the fight over slavery was not the main cause of the Civil War.

In its short lesson on the roles that whites, African Americans and Indians played in the Civil War, "Our Virginia" says, "Thousands of Southern blacks fought in the Confederate ranks, including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson." Masoff said of the assertion: "It's just one sentence. I don't want to ruffle any feathers. If the historians had contacted me and asked me to take it out, I would have." She added that the book was reviewed by a publisher's advisory council of educators and that none of the advisers objected to the textbook's assertion.

Historians from across the country, however, said the sentence about Confederate soldiers was wrong or, at the least, overdrawn. They expressed concerns not only over its accuracy but over the implications of publishing an assertion so closely linked to revisionist Confederate history. "It's more than just an arcane, off-the-wall problem," said David Blight, a professor at Yale University. "This isn't just about the legitimacy of the Confederacy, it's about the legitimacy of the emancipation itself."

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson of Princeton University said, "These Confederate heritage groups have been making this claim for years as a way of purging their cause of its association with slavery." Masoff said one of her sources was Ervin Jordan, a University of Virginia historian who said he has documented evidence -- in the form of 19th-century newspapers and personal letters -- of some African Americans fighting for the Confederacy. But in an interview, Jordan said the account in the fourth-grade textbook went far beyond what his research can support.

"There's no way of knowing that there were thousands," Jordan said. "And the claim about Jackson is totally false. I don't know where that came from." The book also survived the Education Department's vetting and was ruled "accurate and unbiased" by a committee of content specialists and teachers. Five Ponds Press has published 14 books that are used in the Virginia public school system, all of them written by Masoff. Masoff also wrote Oh Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty and Oh Yikes! History's Grossest Moments

Text Source: Washington Post

Author Image: Joy Masoff

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New---America In 1859 And On The Eve Of The War, Maybe

America on the Eve of the Civil War, Edward L. Ayers (Editor), Carolyn R. Martin, University of Virginia Press, 160pp, index, bibliography, $23.95.

This expensive little book is worth every penny. Described as having 160 pages, it really has 147 pages. makes it available at 32% off which is $16.29. I had a 40% off coupon at Borders and got mine for $14.37. So on Saturday, I started it at around 3p and finished it at 10p. On the deck, above a stream, next to a small woodlot, beside a wood fire. Two micro-brews and four hot sausages [no bun, honey mustard only] later I finished it and it was marked up on nearly every page.

Four chapters take stock of America in 1859, the future of Virginia and the South, John Brown's October Raid on the Federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, and the 1860 election. The theme of the conference was set beside the condition that historians were limited to the constraint of discussing 'America on the eve of what would become the Civil War. Sixteen historians during the one day discussed 1859 as if it was December 31 1859 and the presidential campaign of 1860 was yet to occur.

In 1859 the emerging technologies were the railroad and the telegraph. John Brown had been executed just three weeks before and one of the overriding divisive issues was immigration. Gary Gallagher reported that in December 1859 very few white people awoke in the mornings with the sectional crisis on their minds. One of Virginia's chief exports to the others states were slaves and one of the understandings that South, especially Richmond, was realizing was that slavery was adaptable to factory production.

The book concludes with an essay by David W. Blight, a contribution, not to the conference but to the Chronicle of Higher Education. "Marking the Civil War Sesquicentennial--Will We Do Better This Time?" Blight states that the 1960-1965 centennial celebration was a political and historical debacle. Due to Cold War nationalism, racism, Lost Cause historiography, and the divisiveness of the Civil Rights Movement, the centennial celebration became a reconciliationist, Blue-Gray celebration of valor and national greatness. Blight hopes that the sesquicentennial celebration is not one that offers the country in pathos and nostalgia. He looks forward to a celebration that finds national unity in a shared history of conflict and tragedy that confronts the nations' present day conflicted memory squarely in the face.

CWL's appreciation of interviews with historians began with John Garrity's Interviews with Historians: Volumes I and II. Required reading in both halves of a 1970-1U.S. history college survey course, the interviews provided basic information, an historiographical overview and the historian's personal interpretation. Ed Ayers is a fine interviewer and elicits some remarkable states from the sixteen historians. Constrained by the December 31, 1859 focus, the scholars provide an intriguing summary of America with the knowledge of the future [1860-1865]. The volume will be useful for readers in Advance Placement American history course and for the Civil War enthusiast.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

News---150 Years Ago: Wide Awakes' 5,000 Man March For Lincoln

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during a night time parade 150 years ago, between 5,000 and 10,000 Republicans carried torches for Abraham Lincoln. A few Republican newspapers reported it as a 100,000 man march or the figure included spectators and marchers. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the 150th anniversary of the march offered a review of how the Pittsburgh newspapers reported the event. The Pittsburgh Post, a Democratic paper, scoffed at an estimate of 100,000 marchers and spectators that was reported by the Daily Pittsburgh Gazette.

The Post reported that 222 carriages and wagons, 1,027 horses, and 2,052 demonstrators paraded through Allegheny City [now known as the North Side] and downtown Pittsburgh. Fireworks, torches, tossed bouquets, and a shoulder-to-shoulder throng marked the parade route during twilight. A second, daylight parade occurred the next day. Four podiums throughout the North Side hosted public speakers that included Ohio Senator Ben Wade, former Ohio Governor and U.S. Senator Tom Corwin, Pennsylvania Representative John Covode and soon-to-be-elected Governor Andrew Curtain and many others. Many of the cities iron, glass and textile factories released their workers for the political holiday. The Democratic Party's Pittsburgh Post declared it to be a farce and a Feast of Fools.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

News---Virginia's Confederate History Month Is No More

With Apology For Misstep, McDonnell Promises No Confederate History Month Next Year, Rosalind Helderman, Washington Post, September 24, 2010.

With apology for misstep, McDonnell promises no Confederate History Month next year Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) announced Friday morning that he will declare April 2011 "Civil War in Virginia" month, rather than "Confederate History Month," as he offered a humble apology for a proclamation this year that omitted reference to slavery's role in the war.

Speaking at a scholarly conference about slavery hosted as part of Virginia's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War at Norfolk State University, McDonnell called this year's proclamation an "error of haste, not heart." "My major and unacceptable omission of slavery disappointed and hurt a lot of people--myself included," he said.

McDonnell drew criticism from across the county this year when he declared April Confederate History Month, a proclamation that came at the request of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Even President Obama weighed in, chiding McDonnell for failing to mention the role that slavery played in the state was the capital of the Confederacy. Within days, McDonnell had apologized and reissued the proclamation with a new reference to the "abomination" of slavery.

But in brief remarks at Friday's conference, McDonnell promised next year he will go farther, pledging to issue no proclamation honoring Confederate history, but rather one that acknowledges the broader sweep of the war in Virginia. "One hundred and fifty years is long enough for Virginia to fight the Civil War," he told the 1,600 attendees of the conference on "Race, Slavery and Civil War: The Tough Stuff of American History and Memory."

He promised Virginia would conduct a sensitive commemoration of the war in coming years. "For this to be truly one nation, under God, it required the abolition of slavery," he said. "A modern Virginia will take four years and will remember that past with candor, with courage and with conciliation."

In so doing, he will follow the lead of former governor Jim Gilmore (R), who broke with his predecessor governor George Allen (R) and first issued a Confederate History Month proclamation that included anti-slavery language and then changed the proclamation to note the Civil War broadly rather than the Confederacy. Democratic former governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine declined to issue any declaration for the month, with Warner calling such documents a lightening rod that prevents racial reconciliation.

Text Source: Virginia Politics, Washington Post

Image Source: Kindred Blood

News---Collector Sends Library of Congress Nearly 700 Images

Faces 0f the Civil War, Staring Out Across The Decades, Michael E. Ruane, Washington Post, October 3, 2010.

A Virginia collector has donated to the Library of Congress the largest trove of Civil War-era photographs depicting average soldiers that the institution has received in at least 50 years, officials said last week. The stunning photographs - small, elegant ambrotypes and tintypes - show hundreds of the young men who fought and died in the war, often portrayed in the innocence and idealism before the experience of battle.

The pictures, almost 700 in all, make up the bulk of the collection of Tom Liljenquist, 58, of McLean, who operates a chain of Washington area jewelry stores and with his sons has been buying Civil War photographs for 15 years. The images show the striking youth of the soldiers of the 1860s. Many seem barely out of boyhood and too young for the trials ahead of them. Yet, as Liljenquist remarked last week, they became saviors of the nation. The donation comes on the eve of the war's sesquicentennial next year, and the library plans a major exhibition of the photos in April, on the 150th anniversary of start of the war.

But most of the images have been digitized and are available online. "This is an amazing gift of Civil War material," said Carol M. Johnson, curator of photography in the library's prints and photographs division. "A landmark gift." Liljenquist, whose name is pronounced "Lily-en-quist," said his family donated the images to make them available to posterity, free of restrictions. And when "they digitize the photos," he said, "that photograph will look exactly that way 20,000 years from now."

Most of the pictures are of Union soldiers. But there are also several dozen Confederates. There are no generals or politicians, and most of the Billy Yanks and Johnny Rebs portrayed are unidentified. There are also rare photos of African American soldiers, as well as women and children. One moving photograph shows a young boy wearing a checkered shirt and sitting in a wooden chair, his thumb hooked in the pocket of a jacket that has rows of bright buttons. He's a fair-skinned child, and there was a lock of blond hair tucked behind the keepsake, dated from the 1850s. Also hidden behind the photo was a folded note, with a haunting message from the past.

"My beloved son Carl," it read. "Taken from me on April 1, 1865 at age 18." He'd been killed in the fighting at Dinwiddie Courthouse, days before the Civil War ended, the writer said: "Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

The identity of the boy is not known. Nor is that of his bereaved parent, although he or she knew Shakespeare, as the closing quote is from "Hamlet." But such anonymity confers a certain mystery and allows the viewer to imagine each subject's life, Liljenquist said at the library last week. A picture of a sad-eyed little girl wearing mourning ribbons on her dress as she holds a photo of her dead soldier father in her lap seems a saga. She is wearing a necklace and sits with clasped hands as she stares wearily into the camera over the distance of a century and a half.

The striking ambrotype of the African American Union soldier posing with his wife and two daughters cost Liljenquist $19,200, but it reminded his sons of a family now in the White House. Did that soldier, they wondered, ever fathom such an event? "I think it's one of the most important photographs taken during the American Civil War," the collector said. "It's the only one that we know of of a black soldier and his family."

There are numerous photos of soldiers who look like boys - in hats too large, collars too big. There is confidence, determination and beauty in their faces. They don't seem to be faces yet etched by the sights of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg or Spotsylvania. One serene young Union soldier with the visage of a teenager holds his musket with the large hands of a man. His name is not known. Did he live, marry, have children and grandchildren? What parents, wife, descendants perhaps gazed at his likeness, with pride or heartbreak?

The fresh-faced Cpl. Alvin B. Williams, of the 11th New Hampshire regiment, is pictured standing with his musket, in full uniform with his cap brim turned up - the picture of a jaunty Union infantryman. Eighteen when he enlisted in 1862, he was killed at Spotsylvania on May 12, 1864. Another Union soldier, Freeman Mason, of the 17th Vermont regiment, was photographed holding a picture showing his brother, Michael, who was killed at the Battle of Savage's Station in 1862. Freeman Mason, himself, died in 1865.

One photograph shows a young Union soldier sitting beside a woman, who might be his wife or sister. Their names are not known. But the soldier's hat indicates that he was with the battle-hardened 86th New York infantry regiment, which lost scores of men at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Spotsylvania. Another shot identifies its youthful subject as Confederate Pvt. W.T. Harbison, of the 11th North Carolina regiment. He has light-colored eyes and short hair, and he looks like a high school senior. His regiment is said to have lost half its 600 men at Gettysburg. Liljenquist said he became fascinated with the photographs after he bought one in a shop in Ellicott City. "I was just impressed by the sincerity of the soldier's look," he said. "I felt like I had really picked up a piece of history . . . I felt a real kinship."

Liljenquist, who was reared in Northern Virginia and is the president of Liljenquist & Beckstead Jewelers, said he grew up steeped in the region's Civil War history. He, and later his sons, Jason, 19, Brandon, 17, and Christian, 13, assembled the collection methodically, he said. They went to memorabilia shows as far away as Tennessee, networked with dealers, and made purchases on eBay. Some pictures cost a hundred dollars; others thousands. They wanted images that resonated with them, pictures that for one reason or another made them say, "Wow," he said. "We looked for compelling faces that seemed to be saying something across time to us."

The photos, many which fit in the palm of a hand, are on glass - an ambrotype; or metal - a tintype. Most were probably taken by local photographers before a soldier was sent to the front or by itinerant photographers who set up a mobile studio at a regimental encampment, said Johnson, the library curator. In the past 50 years, the library, which has many photos of famous Civil War figures, had acquired only about three dozen photographs of average soldiers, she said. "This fills that gap completely," she said.

Text Source with photo captions:
Washington Post, October 3 2010