Monday, December 26, 2011

News---St. Nick Visits Military Camps In The Republic of Suffering

Cartoonist Nast Drew One Of First Santa Claus Images In A Time Of Political Turmoil, A Holiday Hero, Frank Reeves, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 26, 2011.

By Christmas 1862, more than 200,000 Union soldiers and sailors had been killed, wounded, died of disease or gone missing since the Civil War began 20 months earlier. So staggering were the casualties on both sides that the United States had become, in the words of one modern historian, a "republic of suffering." It was against this background of death and despair that Harper's Weekly -- then one of the country's leading illustrated newspapers -- published its annual Christmas issue, dated Jan. 3, 1863. The magazine had well more than 150,000 subscribers who paid $2.50 a year for its fare of news articles, short stories by authors such as Dickens, and its wood engravings of the war.

To illustrate the cover of its holiday issue, Harper's selected Thomas Nast, a 22-year-old artist who had been on the magazine's payroll for only a few months. He was one of a cadre of artists, including Winslow Homer, hired by Harper's to cover the war. For Nast, it was the beginning of a 25-year career with Harper's that would see him rise to a level of fame and fortune such as no other American cartoonist before him had ever achieved, said V.C. Rogers, a North Carolina-based freelance illustrator and unofficial historian of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

Harper's would be the forum through which Nast would excoriate Southern sympathizers, the Ku Klux Klan, corrupt politicians and, perhaps most regrettably to many today, Irish immigrants and their Catholic faith. Even though he opposed slavery and would support the cause of black rights during Reconstruction, his depictions of African-Americans have often been criticized as racist.

During his political crusades, he created some of the nation's most enduring caricatures and symbols, such as the elephant as a symbol of the Republican Party. Nast's drawing of a fat man, with an ample paunch and a money bag for a head, would become synonymous with the corrupt politician and, later, the greedy plutocrat. He would popularize the use of the donkey as the symbol of the Democratic Party, although he wasn't the first cartoonists to do so, Mr. Rogers said.

And, yes, Virginia, it is to Nast that we owe our modern conception of Santa Claus -- a composite drawn from German folklore and "St. Nick" in Clement Moore's " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas." The jolly old elf, sitting in his reindeer-drawn sleigh, would make one of his first public debuts on the Harper's cover for Jan. 3, 1863. "Nast was with only slight exaggeration the father of us all," Mr. Rogers said, referring to the generations of American political and editorial cartoonists who have followed in his wake.

In the 1860s, Nast was a staunch Union man. Family lore has it that he considered joining the Union army after President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers following the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861. But family and friends convinced the young man that he could do more to support the Union cause by using his paint brushes, pens and sketch books than by carrying a rifle. Their confidence in him was amply rewarded by the numerous sketches he drew from life about the war and the Union army. So effective were Nast's illustrations, which became the basis of some of Harper's most popular wood engravings, that Lincoln reportedly said Nast "is our best recruiting poster."

One of Nast's early masterpieces was "Christmas in Camp," the wood engraving for the cover of Harper's Jan. 3, 1863, issue. In the voice of a Victorian father, the editors provided an explanation of the drawing for their young readers: "Children, you mustn't think that Santa Claus comes to you alone." Soldiers bundled against the cold stand in the snow as they welcome Santa. "See how the soldiers have decorated their encampment in honor of the day. They have erected a triumphal arch to show how welcome [Santa] is," the editorial note continues.

Some of the men eagerly open the gifts Santa has brought them. One soldier pulls out a sock -- a Christmas stocking containing holiday goodies. In the foreground, a youngster, described as a drummer-boy, plays with a jack-in-a-box while his comrade looks on. Drummer-boys were popular subjects with Civil-War era artists. The boys in Nast's drawing look to be eight or nine years old. In reality, drummer boys were usually older. Children under 16 would probably not have lasted very long in an Army camp. The threat of disease and the rigors of infantry life would have killed them off quickly, said Michael Kraus, historian and curator at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Oakland. (The museum recently acquired original editions of Harper's, many of which contain Nast's illustrations.)

In the background (get your magnifying glasses at this point), soldiers "are playing football, getting a fine appetite for their Christmas dinner which is cooking on the fire." Despite the attempt by Nast and his editors to invoke holiday cheer, the grim business of war is an ever-present reality even in this fanciful scene. Nast's Santa was hardly a neutral figure in the conflict that was tearing the country apart. This Santa, wearing a star-spangled jacket and striped pants, is a staunch Union man like Nast himself. He wouldn't have been welcome around a Confederate campfire.

On first glance, Santa appears to be playing with a puppet for the innocent amusement of the men. Instead, as the edtiors tell us, Santa "is entertaining the soldiers by showing them Jeff Davis's future. He is tying a cord pretty tightly around his neck and Jeff seems to be kicking very much at such a fate." Jefferson Davis was, of course, the hated president of the Confederacy, often depicted in Harper's and other Northern newspapers as a rat.

The impact of the war did not fall on soldiers and sailors alone but also on their families at home. At war's end, many women and children would be widows and orphans. Then, as now, military families felt the grief of separation most acutely at Christmas. Nast tapped into this feeling in a double-page wood engraving entitled "Christmas Eve." It, too, appeared in Harper's Jan. 3, 1863, edition.

On the left panel, children are shown asleep in their bed while their mother kneels in prayer. We can imagine she is thinking about her soldier-husband at an Army camp far away. On the right panel, a soldier sits, bayonet in hand, while reading a letter from home. A small fire burns beside him to keep him warm. Nast surrounded these larger panels with contrasting scenes of holiday joy and the business of war. In the foreground, he drew a picture of four soldiers' graves. Even amid holiday joy, the war dead were not to be forgotten. "Letters from every corner of the Union poured into Harper's weekly with messages of thanks for that inspired picture," Thomas Nast St. Hill, the illustrator's grandson, wrote in an account that was published in 1971 of the elder Nast's Christmas illustrations.

"A colonel wrote the weekly to say that he had received his copy of the magazine and had unfolded it by the light of his campfire," St. Hill continued. " He was so touched by Nast's drawing that tears had fallen on the page. 'It was only a picture,' he wrote, 'but I couldn't help it.' " For the rest of his career, Nast would continue making pictures that touched the emotions of his audience. In the years immediately after the Civil War, he would play a pivotal role in bringing down New York City's corrupt Democratic political machine headed by William M. Tweed, the infamous "Boss Tweed." "I don't care a straw for your newspaper articles, my constituents don't know how to read," the boss reportedly said. "But they can't help seeing those damned pictures."

Nast died in 1902 of yellow fever while serving as a U.S. consul in Ecuador. But his place was already secure in the pantheon of political cartoonists. "We constantly refer back to Thomas Nast. We all take a piece of his legacy," said Rob Rogers, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's editorial cartoonist. "His main influence on us has been the idea that a cartoonist could use his art to combat evil."

Text and Image Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

News---States' Sesquicentennial Efforts Uncover Civil War Antiques

Civil War's 150th Stirs A Trove Of Memories, Steve Szkotak, Associated Press, December 26, 2011.

A diary with a lifesaving bullet hole from Gettysburg. An intricate valentine crafted by a Confederate soldier for the wife he would never see again. A slave's desperate escape to freedom. From New England to the South, state archivists are using the sesquicentennial of the Civil War to collect a trove of wartime letters, diaries, documents and mementos that have gathered dust in attics and basements.

This still-unfolding call will help states expand existing collections on the Civil War and provide new insights into an era that violently wrenched a nation apart, leaving 600,000 dead. Much of the Civil War has been told primarily through the eyes of battlefield and political leaders. These documents are adding a new narrative to the Civil War's story, offering insights into the home front and of soldiers, their spouses and African-Americans, often in their own words.

Historians, who will have access to the centralized digital collections, are excited by the prospect of what the states are finding and will ultimately share. "I think now we're broadening the story to include everybody—not just a soldier, not a general or a president—just somebody who found themselves swept up in the biggest drama in American life," says University of Richmond President Edward Ayers, a Civil War expert. "That's what's so cool."

In Virginia, archivists have borrowed from the popular PBS series "Antiques Roadshow," traveling weekends throughout the state and asking residents to share family collections, which are scanned and added to the already vast collection at the Library of Virginia. Started in September 2010, the Civil War 150 Legacy Project has collected 25,000 images. Virginians have been generous, knowing they can share their long-held mementos without surrendering them, said Laura Drake Davis and Renee Savits, the Library of Virginia archivists who have divided the state for their on-the-road collection campaign. "They think someone can learn from them rather than just sitting in their cupboards," Savits said of the family possessions. "And they're proud to share their family's experience."

Patricia Bangs heeded the call when a friend told her about the project. She had inherited 400 letters passed down through the years between Cecil A. Burleigh to his wife, Caroline, in Mount Carmel, Conn. "I felt this would be useful to researchers, a treasure to somebody," said Bangs, who works for the library system in Fairfax, Va. In one letter, she said, Cecil writes of Union troops traveling from Connecticut to Washington, crowds cheering them along the way.

The letters, like many collected by archivists, are difficult to read. Many are spelled phonetically, and the penmanship can be hard to decipher. Typically, they tell of the story of the home front and its daily deprivations. Researchers in Tennessee, a battleground state in the war, teamed up with Virginia archivists earlier this year in the border town of Bristol. Both states have seen their share of bullets, swords and other military hardware. "We have grandmothers dragging in swords and muskets," said Chuck Sherrill, Tennessee state librarian and archivist.

Documents are fished from attics, pressed between the pages of family bibles and stored in trunks. Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and many other states have similar programs, or at least are trying to gather materials for use by scholars and regular folks. Pennsylvania has been especially ambitious in adding new layers to the state's deep links to the Civil War, including a traveling exhibit called the "PA Civil War Road Show." The 53-foot-long museum on wheels also invites visitors to share their ancestors' stories and artifacts in a recording booth. The remembrances will be uploaded on the website One visitor brought in a bugle that an ancestor was blowing when he was fatally shot at the Battle of Gettysburg. "He wouldn't let anyone touch it," said John Seitter, project manager of the Pennsylvania Civil War project. "It shows you how deeply these artifacts connect people with the Civil War. There's some serious memorialization going on here."

The George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center at Penn State University is also amid a survey of all the public archives in the state to produce a searchable database. The ambitious project aims to shed light on small, underfunded public historical societies where records are often "hidden from historians and scholars" and not used, Matt Isham of the "The People's Contest: A Civil War Era Digital Archiving Project" wrote in an email.

Some people are even donating items unsolicited. In Maine, for instance, some residents have submitted letters from ancestors who served in the war, but the sesquicentennial also saw an unusual submission from James R. Hosmer. Hosmer's mother, Mary Ruth Hosmer, died in 2005. He was going through her possessions in Kittery, Maine, when he made a discovery: dozens of carte de viste, small photographs carried by some Union troops, an early version of dog tags. They were stored in a suitcase in an attic. "The state archives was quite thrilled with it," Hosmer said.

The Virginia archivists said they were especially pleased by a submission from the family of an escaped slave who wrote of his love for a woman named Julia at the same time he fled his master for an outpost on the Chesapeake Bay, where Union ships were known to pick up men seeking their freedom. David Harris found his freedom in 1861, serving as a cook for Union troops. "I love to read the sweet letters that come from you, dear love," David Harris wrote to Julia. "I cannot eat for thought of you."

A valentine made of pink paper and shaped into a heart using an intricate basket weave was addressed to Confederate soldier Robert H. King to his wife Louiza. He was killed in 1862. As for the diary tucked in a soldier's breast pocket that shielded him from death at Gettysburg, "He kept using the diary," Savits said. "He just wrote around it."

Text and Image Source: Civil War's 150th Stirs

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Newsstand---- The Atlantic Commemorates Civil War With Greatest Hits Issue

The Atlantic Monthly, founded in 1857, was created as a literary and cultural commentary magazine. Quickly achieving a national reputation, it became important by recognizing and publishing new writers and poets, and encouraging major careers by publishing leading writers' commentary on abolition, education, the War Between The States and other issues in political affairs.

Marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, The Atlantic’s special commemorative edition, featuring an introduction by President Barack Obama, showcases some of the most compelling stories from the magazine’s archives. Contributors include such celebrated American writers as Mark Twain, Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott.

Through reporting, essays, fiction, and poetry, The Atlantic chronicled the conflict firsthand—from the country’s deepening divisions in the years leading up to the conflict, to the horrors of the battlefield, to the reshaping of society after the war’s conclusion. This 148-page edition captures the voices of the witnesses to the war and its aftermath. With memorable images from the National Portrait Gallery, this rich collection of contemporary reflections on the dramatic story of America’s most transformative moment. Print copies are available at bookstores, newsstands and ordered online in digital format for iPad and Kindle.

Following is the table of contents for the issue Atlantic's contents:


Where Will It End?
In its second issue, The Atlantic urged readers to take a stand against slavery.

Nat Turner's Insurrection
An account of America's bloodiest slave revolt and its repercussions

A True Story, Word for Word As I Heard It
In his first Atlantic contribution, the author tells the story of a mother's surprise reunion with her son, a former slave.

The Freedman's Story
An escaped slave recalls his violent showdown with slave-catchers.

Paul Revere's Ride
The famous Revolutionary War poem that's really about slavery

John Brown and His Friends
How a coterie of New Englanders-- including the author--secretly funded the raid on Harpers Ferry

Bardic Symbols
The author's first Atlantic poem

The Reign of King Cotton
In 1861, the grandson of John Quincy Adams argued that slavery could still end without war. BY CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS JR.

Recollections of Lincoln
A journalist who covered the Lincoln-Douglas debates recalls the future president's bawdy appeal.

The Election in November
In 1860, The Atlantic endorsed Abraham Lincoln for president.

Charleston Under Arms
A Northern journalist records his visit to Charleston during the Fort Sumter standoff.


Our March to Washington
A dispatch from a Union soldier who was later killed in action

A poem in praise of soldiers who gave their lives for the Union

Bread and the Newspaper
In 1861, an Atlantic editor captured the anxious mood on the home front.

The Advantages of Defeat
A scholar argues that the Union debacle at Bull Run was not such a disaster.

Chiefly About War Matters, by a Peaceable Man
The novelist visits Washington in wartime--and is then censored by The Atlantic.

The Cumberland
A poem commemorating a mighty Union ship done in by the Virginia, a rebel "ironclad"

My Hunt After the Captain
An account of the author's frantic search for his wounded son, who lived to become a Supreme Court justice

Barbara Frietchie
The classic poem mythologizing an old woman who flew her Union flag as the rebels marched past

The Man Without a Country
The famous short story about an Army officer who learns, too late, to love his country

American Civilization
An Atlantic founder argues vehemently for emancipation of the slaves.

The President's Proclamation
Seven months after his call to free the slaves, Emerson hails the Emancipation Proclamation.

Women, Unite Against Slavery
The author of Uncle Tom's Cabin urges other women to action.

The Story of a Year
One of the earliest pieces published by the author, who was 21 years old at the time

The Ladies of New Orleans
A Union general is stymied by the ornery women of the South.

Leaves From an Officer's Journal
The white colonel of the first official black regiment recounts his experience.

Life on the Sea Islands
A young black woman describes her experience teaching freed slaves.

The Brothers
Set in a wartime hospital, a short story about a family with a poisonous secret

The Words That Remade America
The significance of the Gettysburg Address

A Rebel's Recollections
A Confederate soldier from a plantation family provides a Southern perspective.

Lee in Battle
A Northerner pays tribute to the general's humility and heroism.

Toward Appomattox
Reliving the war's final battles

Late Scenes in Richmond
A reporter describes the rebels' flight from Richmond, and Lincoln's surprise visit two days later.


The End, and After
A Confederate soldier recalls the chaotic days following surrender.

Three months after Lincoln's murder, The Atlantic seeks to make sense of it.

Ode to Lincoln
The magazine's first editor gives poetic voice to the nation's grief.

Three Months Among the Reconstructionists
In 1866, a journalist offered a scathing report on post-war life in the South.

The Mistress of Sydenham Plantation
The famous novelist's tale of an elderly Southerner, oblivious to what the war has cost her

The Case of George Dedlow
An absurdist short story about a Union doctor--which many Atlantic readers erroneously believed at the time to be nonfiction

For the Union Dead
The classic 1960 poem pays tribute to the glory of the Civil War era.

The Freedmen's Bureau
A leading black intellectual surveys the government's efforts to aid the freed slaves.

Reconstruction, and an Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage
A former slave urges Congress to grant black Americans the vote.

The Death of Slavery
A poem hailing the demise of slavery's "cruel reign"

The Result in South Carolina
A Southerner describes mounting racial tensions in the aftermath of Reconstruction.

The Awakening of the Negro
An educator's controversial argument contends that blacks should advance by making themselves useful to whites.

Of the Training of Black Men
Taking issue with Booker T. Washington, the author argues that blacks should attend college. BY W. E. B. DU BOIS

Strivings of the Negro People
Du Bois gives voice to the aspirations of black Americans in the post-Civil War world.

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Text Source With Edits: The Atlantic

Off Topic---Richard Matheson, Master of the Uncanny

Shadow On The Sun, Richard Matheson, TOR Books, 192 pages,$13.99 and Other Kingdoms, Richard Matheson, TOR Books, 320 pages, $24.99.

Richard Matheson is the author of the classics I Am Legend, Hell House, Somewhere in Time, The Incredible Shrinking Man, A Stir of Echoes, The Beardless Warriors, What Dreams May Come and others. Now forget the movies made from his books. Remember The Twilight Zone episodes.

Named a Grand Master of Horror by the World Horror Convention, and a recipient of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement, Matheson has won the Edgar Award for Mystery and Detective writing, the Spur for Western novels and stories, and several of the Writer's Guild awards. In 2010, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Yes, this is the author that the best storytellers, such as Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, Peter Straub and others, read.

Matheson has authored screenplays for film and television. His most recognizable work is for The Twilight Zone including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” based on his short story and featuring a very young William Shatner. Born in New Jersey and raised in Brooklyn, and a World War 2 combat infantryman, Matheson earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.

Shadow On The Sun, originally published as a mass-market Western in 1994, has been out of print for years. This tale of supernatural terror is best described by a comment of a friend who had just finished the book. "Wow! Couldn't put it down. I wonder if the makers of Cowboys and Aliens [the film] read this before they made their movie." Set in Arizona, a century ago during a truce between the remote frontier community and the Apaches. A delicate peace is literally shredded when the mutilated bodies of two white men are found. Billjohn Finley, the local Indian agent, fears that darker, more unholy forces may be at work: a tall, dark stranger who rides into town and is wearing the dead men’s clothes.

In Other Kingdoms the setting spans decades in France, England and Brooklyn. In 1917 a young American soldier is recently wounded in the Great War. The young veteran, Alex White, travels to Gatford, England because of a promise made to a dying comrade. This pastoral English village, seems to be the perfect spot to heal his wounded body and soul. In truth for the reader, Gatford and its forests are not as distant as Narnia but closer that Brigadoon. The neighboring woods are said to be haunted by capricious, even malevolent spirits, but surely those are just old folk tales.

In the forest dwells Magda Variel known as a witch but confesses to Alex that she is merely a practitioner of Wicca and has healing powers. She warns him of a more real danger, one that is located deeper into the forest. It is another kingdom. A World War One veteran, Alex is bold and undaunted. He becomes a resident in three kingdoms: rural England, the Wicca religion, and live among shape-sifting spirits. He willing enters bondage to love, sex and magic and has dual citizenship in two of kingdoms. Each has a dominant woman who wants him.

To read these two shorter works by Matheson is to engage a master storyteller who will very subtly cause you to suspend your disbelief. The literary genre of The Uncanny deals with the notion that a person or a thing has or seems to have a supernatural basis. The Uncanny genre deals this events that are beyond the ordinary, that are mysterious, superstitious, fearful or dreadful. Like Stephen King's work, Richard Matheson work is both an uncomfortably strange but a comfortably thoughtful experience.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Film News---Spielberg Films Team of Rivals in Virginia; Release Date 2013

Daniel Day-Lewis Has a Great Honest Abe Beard Going for ‘Lincoln’, Tim Grierson, The Projector, December 2, 2011.

It was just over a year ago that it was announced that Daniel Day-Lewis would be the star of Steven Spielberg's Abraham Lincoln film. There's no question that the two-time Oscar-winner is an astonishingly gifted actor, but when you're playing a revered American president there will always be questions about whether you can do justice to a mythic figure in U.S. history -- especially when some people refuse to accept Day-Lewis in the role since he's English. But we think most folks will be willing to look past such minor issues after checking out this first photo of Day-Lewis sporting his beard for "Lincoln." You have to admit, the resemblance is pretty striking -- and rather presidential.

The photo (the first we've seen of the actor as Lincoln) was snapped by Michael Phillips (via Badass Digest), who took the picture presumably while Day-Lewis was enjoying a lunch break during the filming of "Lincoln" in Virginia. While a lot of unofficial on-set photos capture stars at their most unflattering, this casual shot actually gives Day-Lewis a regal, dignified air that's synonymous with most people's impressions of our 16th president. Even in repose, the guy just exudes rugged authenticity.

"Lincoln," which is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" is said to follow Lincoln during the final months of his life when the Civil War was coming to a close. The film won't open until December 2012, but it already has to be considered an Oscar front-runner simply because of the pedigree of the material, the director and the star -- and that it's not even mentioning the rest of the cast, which includes Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Strathairn and Hal Holbrook. Spielberg has two movies coming next month -- "The Adventures of Tintin" and "War Horse" -- but after seeing this Day-Lewis photo it's hard not to focus on what the director has coming our way next year. We always knew Day-Lewis could play the part. Today, we learned he definitely looks the part, too.

Text Source: The Projector

Image Source:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Robert Todd Lincoln
Daniel Day-Lewis/Abraham Lincoln
Tommy Lee Jones/Thaddeus Stevens [Pennsylvania, US Congressman]
Lee Pace/Fernando Wood [Mayor NYC]
Sally Field/Mary Todd Lincoln
Jackie Earle Haley, Alexander Stephens [CSA, Vice President]
Jared Harris, Ulysses S. Grant
Joseph Cross, John Hay [Secretary to Lincoln
David Strathairn, Secretary of State William Seward
Bruce McGill, Edwin Stanton [Secretary of War]
Jeremy Strong, John Nicolay [Secretary to Lincoln]
Grainger Hines, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles
Reed Birney, James Speed [Kentucky friend of Lincoln]
Mike Shiflett, CSA Senator RMT Hunter
John Hutto, Senator Charles Sumner [Massachusetts, US Senator]
Lincoln (original screenplay) (filming)

John Logan is the development screenwriter; his works include: 2004 The Aviator, 2003 The Last Samurai, 2000 Gladiator, 1999 Any Given Sunday. Tony Kushner is the onset screenwriter; he also wrote the screenplay of Munich

Information Source:

On The News Stand---Robert E. Lee and John Brown Share Lead Stories In Military History Quarterly

'John Brown’s Blood Oath' by Tony Horwitz shows that before The Harpers Ferry Raid, the abolitionist promised a campaign of violence. It began with a gruesome midnight massacre in Kansas in 1856. ‘A Moment Full of Peril’ by Noah Andre Trudeau discusses the fear in the Buchanan administration that John Brown might touch off a national insurrection at Harper's Ferry and the decision by Washington officials to turn to Robert E. Lee to assess the situation and capture the rebels.

Readers may be familiar with Horwitz's and Trudeau's previous works. Horwitz wrote the informative and entertaining Confederates In the Attic and Trudeau wrote Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New and Noteworthy: The Iron Ties That Bind or One Ring To Rule Them All?

The Iron Way: Railroads, the Civil War, and the Making of Modern America William G. Thomas III, Yale University Press, 296 pages, 54 illustrations and maps, notes, index, bibliography, $30.00

Beginning with Frederick Douglass's escape from slavery in 1838 on the railroad, and ending with the driving of the golden spike to link the transcontinental railroad in 1869, this book charts a critical period of American expansion and national formation, one largely dominated by the dynamic growth of railroads and telegraphs. William G. Thomas brings new evidence to bear on railroads, the Confederate South, slavery, and the Civil War era, based on groundbreaking research in digitized sources never available before. The Iron Way revises our ideas about the emergence of modern America and the role of the railroads in shaping the sectional conflict.

Both the North and the South invested in railroads to serve their larger purposes, Thomas contends. Though railroads are often cited as a major factor in the Union's victory, he shows that they were also essential to the formation of "the South" as a unified region. He discusses the many—and sometimes unexpected—effects of railroad expansion and proposes that America's great railroads became an important symbolic touchstone for the nation's vision of itself.

William G. Thomas is professor of history and the John and Catherine Angle Chair in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He taught history at the University of Virginia, and, as director of the Virginia Center for Digital History, created digital projects on slavery, the Civil War, segregation, and civil rights. He lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Railroads and the Making of Modern America website.

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Fiction---Culp Brothers, Jack Skelley, Virginia Wade: Main Characters In A House Divided

West Virginia Author Says New Civil War Fiction 'Mostly True', Associated Press, Lebanan Daily News, November 28, 2011.

Charles Town historian Bob O'Connor says his newest Civil War book, "A House Divided Against Itself," is a historical novel that's based on a true story. While it's technically fiction, O'Connor said the four main characters were real people, and the story about them is "mostly true." O'Connor told The Herald Mail of Hagerstown, Maryland, that he studied 90 letters, plus records from the National Archives and Army War College, to create the story of brothers John Wesley and William Culp.

The brothers grew up in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, but John Wesley moved to Shepherdstown, then to Virginia. He fought for the Confederacy. William, meanwhile, joined a Gettysburg militia that eventually became part of the Union's 87th Pennsylvania regiment. Their units battled in the Shenandoah Valley between 1861 and 1863, but O'Connor said the brothers never met during the conflict. His other key characters are John Wesley's best friend, Johnston "Jack" Skelly Jr., who joined the Union army, and Mary Virginia Wade, Jack's girlfriend. The story ends with the Battle of Gettysburg.

O'Connor said the 230-page book was inspired by a lecture that historian James C. Price gave on the Culp brothers in Martinsburg. It's available online at O'Connor's website, at Four Seasons Books in Shepherdstown, and at the Antietam National Battlefield gift shop in Maryland. He is the author of The Perfect Steel Trap: Harpers Ferry 1859 a novel, The U.S. Colored Troops at Andersonville Prison a history, and editor of The Life of Abraham Lincoln as President: A Personal Account by Lincoln's Body Gaurd, War Hill Lamon. His website is Bob Oconnor Books.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Off-Topic---Dealy Plaza, Dallas Texas Noverber 22, 1963: The Umbrella Man

November 22, 1963, Dealy Plaza, Dallas Texas. It is a sunny day. During the Kennedy motorcade, a man opens and raises a black umbrella. Kennedy is shot in front of him. What part in the assassination did he play? A last minute signal that the plan to assassinate the President would go forward. A signal that could be seen from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository and the fence near the overpass behind the Umbrella Man. The truth is revealed is recalled by Josiah Thompson, author of Six Seconds in Dallas.

Go to The New York Times video album.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New and Noteworthy---A Scribbling Englishman On Both Sides of the Potomac

The Confederacy's Secret Weapon: The Civil War Illustrations of Frank Vizetelly, Douglas W. Bostick, History Press, 158 pp., 98 b/w illustrations, bibliography, $19.99.

Frank Vizetelly's illustrations have for decades been viewed in coffee table books on the Civil War. Yet the name of this graphic artist usually does not ring a bell with probably most readers. Bostick's book remedies the situation. Placing Vizetelly in the context of mid-19th century print journalism is helpful but Bostick offers only a page and a half on how the work of a sketch artist moves from the sketch pad to news print. Strengths of Bostick's work is the close attention paid to Vizetelly's travels inside the Confederacy and his success in getting the illustrations exported to London.

As a correspondent for the London Illustrated News, Vizetelly is challenged by the U.S. War department July 1861 after the Federal defeat at Bull Run. He then enters the Confederacy and views the battle of Fredericksburg and the 1863 Mississippi Campaign. The artist is quite comfortable among the plantation aristocracy, the cavalier and chivalrous officers of the Confederate forces. With a clear and concise narrative, Bostick provides many of Vizetelly's dispatches and finished sketches. Vizetelly reports as if he is at Chickamauga, but Sorrel, Longstreet's aide, reports in his Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer,that appears that Vizetelly arrived "long after the battle."

Vizetelly's anecdotes at times ring true and at other times there is a false ring to them. Did Vizetelly loan Jefferson Davis funds for his escape from Virginia? Bostick's account takes Vizetelly's memoirs at face value. This may leave some readers recalling the saying that the first casualty of war is truth. Was Vizetelly's illustrations a secret weapon of the Confederacy? Upon finishing Bostick's the book, CWL's reply is The Scots' Verdict: unproven.

Having no index and no bibliographic notes, The Confederacy's Secret Weapon: The Civil War Illustrations of Frank Vizetelly is not conducive to much further research. The brief bibliography does not list a book or article by Henry Vizetelly though on page 79 Bostick quotes from one. Yet, in providing a fine account of the life and times of Frank Vizetelly, sketch artist and correspondent of the London Illustrated News, Bostick offers a fine album of illustrations, a brief life on an English sketch artist and an introduction to the world of Civil War journalism.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New and Noteworthy---The Battle of the Crater: A Novel Entertains and Informs

The Battle of the Crater: A Novel, Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen, Thomas Dunne Books Inc., 384 pages, $27.99, audiobook, 10 compact disks, unabridged, $44.95.

Among the baggage that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich brings to the campaign, his successful career as a fiction writer is not being debated. During 2011 and 2012 much will be made of the alternative path that is being offered by this candidate. There is no discernible agenda in Gingrich's fiction other than to entertain and educate readers. With The Battle of the Crater, Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen tackle historical fiction without making alternative history.

Of the ten or so novels that the team of Gingrich and Forstchen have written CWL admits to having read none of them. Richard Slotkin's The Crater is on the short list of best Civil War fiction. Also, Richard Slotkin's No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864 will stand the test of time for being the best treatment of the battle. So, CWL came to Gingrich's and Forstchen's novel with limited expectations and was surprised by having them exceeded. The authors do not simply supply characters, attitudes, and story for the sake of the marketplace. The aspirations of African American troops, the terrain and importance of the Elliot's Salient entrenchments, the failures of generals are presented accurately and in a compelling fashion.

The Battle of the Crater was just one day of the nearly nine month siege of Petersburg, Virginia. On July 30, 1864, the Federal army exploded an underground gallery under the Confederate earthworks. Federal and Confederate generals and soldiers, in a general sense, are accurately portrayed. The story unfolds with the help of a fictitious character. James Reilly, newspaper sketch artist and friend of Lincoln, for the most part narrates the novel. The historic character Sergeant Major Garland White of the 28th USCT regiment, an escaped slave, recruiter, non-commissioned officer and informal chaplain, shares narrative duties with Reilly. Both are compelling figures and the novel rests easily on their shoulders.

The author's novel doesn't lag, in part because like most historic fiction, time and characters are compressed, but events and plot points are not hastily inserted. The major and minor characters are well drawn and the resolution will be heart felt by readers. Written for the mass market, The Battle of the Crater: A Novel succeeds in both entertaining and informing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

News---Battle of Gettysburg Witness' Death Remembered

Sadie Shriver, An Eyewitness To The Battle of Gettysburg, Died at age 18, Jacqueline Palochko, The Evening Sun, November 20, 2011.

It's a solemn procession. Women are walking, holding flowers, with their hoop skirts hitting the fallen brown leaves on the ground. Men in top hats, staring straight ahead under the gray November clouds. Slowly, the crowd moves to Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg on Sunday morning. And around the gray, faded tombstones, they gather. More than 130 years ago, this is how the loved ones of Sadie Shriver might have said goodbye to her. But when her family buried her, one thing was missing -- a headstone.

This was a young woman who came from one of the oldest families in Adams County, Nancie Gudmestad, director of the Shriver House in Gettysburg said. A little girl who kissed her father, George Shriver, goodbye as he rode off to war. An eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg when she was just 7 years old. And when she was 18 years old -- two weeks before her 19th birthday -- she died from tuberculosis and was laid to rest in Evergreen Cemetery. Yet -- for some unknown reason -- her grave has been unmarked since she died in 1874. Until Sunday.

On what would have been her 156th birthday, a ceremony was held to unveil a headstone at Sadie's grave. A funeral procession with a couple dozen people, including re-enactors, traveled from the historical Shriver House on Baltimore Street to the cemetery.

So, they gathered around Sadie's grave. And spoke of how she must have seen the bloody, wounded soldiers during the battle. How she heard their last cries for help before they died. How she smelled gun smoke in the air. And among the crowd were some distant relatives of Sadie. A few years ago, Diane Weikert Dolan, of New Jersey, visited Gettysburg and toured the Shriver House. And when she started to hear the stories of the Shriver family and Sadie's mother -- Hettie Shriver, whose maiden name was Weikert -- it all sounded familiar. "They started telling me my family history," she said.

For Becki Powell, who now lives in Hershey, her family history was right under her nose. When she was living in Littlestown, she was a tour guide for the Shriver House. Around the same time, she started looking through books her family had been using to record their history. And there it was -- notes on Hettie and George Shriver in her family history book. Since then, Powell has visited Evergreen Cemetery to pay respects at the graves of her distant, long-lost relatives. She found the grave of Sadie's younger sister, Mollie; and their grandparents, Sarah and Jacob Weikert. But she always had trouble finding Sadie's. "I find this all very moving," Powell said of the ceremony for Sadie.

And before they left -- before they went back to their Sundays -- each visitor left a pebble on Sadie's grave. It's a Jewish tradition, Gudmestad said, to let the dead know they haven't been forgotten. "Sadie will know that someone came to visit her today," Gudmestad said.

Text and Image Source: Evening Sun November 20, 2011

News---Manassas Virginia Reports Reenactment Related Income A Healthy Sucess

Manassas Profits From Mass Casualties (reenactment), Tom Jackman, Washington Post, November 20, 2011.

Thousands of Civil War reenactors and spectators converged on Manassas in July. “Our hotel is air-conditioned, right?” Most Civil War reenactments are done for the pure pleasure of recapturing historical moments, educating others about our past, and sweating off large amounts of weight in authentically heavy uniforms. But for the 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run, Manassas City and its businesses in Old Town were actually able to make some money, according to a new report issued by the city’s community development department.

. . . the report states, “The Sesquicentennial of the First Battle of Manassas was a singular event that is not expected to be repeated.” And what happened was that the city as a whole collected 14.4 percent more in meals taxes than in July 2010, which translates into an additional $811,500 in revenue for Manassas restaurants, the report figures.

In Old Town Manassas, shops saw increases of 55 percent for sales taxes and 21 percent for meals taxes, for more revenue. And sales at the Manassas Museum jumped 700 percent over the same time last year. ne party who didn’t cooperate: God. It was over 100 degrees most days of that July weekend, felt way hotter, and some events were canceled. But even this was turned into a positive because it allowed emergency management agencies to try out their response capabilities, and as a result there were no significant injuries, the report found.

So what does this mean for the sesquicentennial of the Second Battle of Bull Run, August 2012, a larger and even bloodier battle? Get those cash registers ready. And cool it with the heat waves, Big Man.

CWL: Here is the 27 page report of An Analysis of the City of Manassas Participation in the Sesquicentennial of the Battle of First Manassas, July 21 – 24, 2011

Text Source with some edits: Washington Post November 20 2011

Top Image Source: Kris's Photo a Day

Bottom Image Source: Manassas Civil

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New and Noteworthy---John Brown Is In Everybody's Attic

Midnight Rising: John Brown And The Raid That Sparked The Civil War, Tony Horwitz, Henry Holt/MacMillian Publishing, 383 pages, 55 illustration, 4 maps, appendix, notes, bibliography, $29.00. Unabridged Audiobook with Author Interview, $39.95.

In the 1998, the very funny and popular Confederates In The Attic, Tony Horwitz gained a degree of notoriety for pursuing Civil War reenactors. What does the the American Civil War mean to men who dress in blue or gray wool, to children in classrooms and to pickup drivers who fly Confederate flags from their truck beds? In Midnight Rising Horwitz pursues the historic Civil War character of John Brown, an individual who used terror to confront terrorism.

W.E.B. DuBois, a noted African-American historian, looked back on the historiography concerning John Brown's life, his murders, his kidnappings, his armed insurrection and his execution for treason against the state of Virginia. He noted that many historians concluded that Brown was insane and an impractical, if not a stupid, terrorist. What makes Brown impossible to understand, the historian noted, is also what makes Brown understandable to blacks. Brown was willing to risk his life and was willing to die to set African-Americans free from slavery. For John Brown, slavery was a war against blacks and it was a war that started along time before Brown himself was born.

Since the 1980s John Brown has become understandable. Stephen Oates' To Purge This Land With Blood and David S. Reynolds' John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights have reignited interest in Brown's life of violence. Tony Horwitz's Midnight Rising: John Brown And The Raid That Sparked The Civil War describes John Brown as expanding his sense of self from childhood through his execution and his death. Indeed, Horwitz finds suspense in Brown's wrestling, and at times failing, to become a successful family man, a prosperous businessman, an industrious community member and an accepted authority in a faith community.

John Brown cannot be understood without the context of America from 1800 to 1860, an era when multiple American revolutions were happening: political, industrial, transportation, religious, agricultural and economic. Brown was caught up in them all. Horwitz concisely acknowledges the state of the Union during these decades and recognizes the national trends that are causing havoc in Brown's life. He moved through New England and made friends with Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Frederick Douglass, a man who stole himself from slavery, counted John Brown as a friend. Several abolitionists throughout the North contributed to Brown chosen cause and efforts. His friends included several of the wealthiest men of the era. But, there were also bankers who dealt with his business failures.

In the early 1850s with nothing to inherit due to Brown's financial failings in the domestic international wool markets, his children moved to Kansas for a fresh start. In June 1855 John Brown, at the urging of his sons, travelled to Kansas in order to participate in Kansas' civil war. By early 1856 the city of Lawrence had been burned and its abolitionist citizens were left dead in its streets. On May 24 Brown and his sons travelled to nearby Pottawatomie Creek and late at night he directed the murder of five pro slavery settlers.

During January 1857, In an effort to aid the antislavery fight in Kansas, Franklin Sanborn, secretary of the Massachusetts State Kansas Committee, introduced Brown to influential abolitionists in the Boston area. These acquaintances constituted themselves as the "Secret Six" who would fund Brown's lawlessness. By January 1858 Brown, with his sons and others rode into Missouri and attacked two homesteads, confiscated horses and wagons and stole eleven of the farmers' slaves. Brown and the raiders traveled eighty-two days, covered over a thousand miles, and to delivered the slaves to freedom in Canada. Within the next year, Brown would conceive a plan to steal and move Virginia's slaves into the Appalachian Mountains and then northward.

On July 3 1859 John Brown rented a farmhouse a few miles outside of Harpers Ferry, Virginia. A member of his party began to reconnoiter the U.S. arsenal at the convergence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. During August, Brown and Frederick Douglass gathered together for a clandestine meeting at a rock quarry near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Brown tried to convince Douglass to join him in a raid to Harpers Ferry and its environs. Douglass told Brown that the place was 'a perfect steel trap' and refused to become an accomplice.

On October 16 Brown with his raiders seized the armory at Harpers Ferry, removed slaves from nearby plantations and remained long enough to be trapped in the fire engine house. By October 18 he fell into the hands of the U.S. Army. The politicos in Washington D.C. also sensed a trap for themselves and turned Brown and the surviving raiders over to Virginia authorities. On November 2 a Virginia jury after a week of trial and forty-five minutes of deliberation declared John Brown guilty of murder, treason, and inciting a slave insurrection.

During the morning of December 2 John Brown wrote the following message: 'I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had as I now think, vainly flattered myself, that without very much bloodshed, it might be done.' Brown was hanged that day and a year later, South Carolina was in the midst of seceding from the Union.

Much like the December 2 note, Horwitz shows Brown evolving into the role of a public martyr. Smoothly written, well paced and at times dramatic, Horwitz takes Brown seriously as a man who wrestles with his own failures and the failures of his nation. The author does not over dramatize the story. The characters around Brown are unique and engaging without a writer's help. Thankfully Horowitz avoids bringing forth into his John Brown story such currents events as the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. Such remarks have marred the Emory Thomas’ Dogs of War and have already dated Louis P. Masur's A Concise History of the Civil War.

Readers of David Reynolds’ John Brown and Stephen Oates' To Purge This Land With Blood are encouraged to return to Horwitz’s John Brown. Like Reynolds and Oates, Horwitz offers an engaging, multi-dimensional and compelling biography of a puzzling character who makes trouble for nearly all readers. Those familiar with Horwitz's Confederates in the Attic will find a character who would not have believed that the Civil War started on April 12 1861, but had started many decades before.

Bottom Image Source: Harpers Ferry Historical Association

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New and Noteworthy---Forrest's Fighting Preacher

Forrest's Fighting Preacher: David Campbell Kelly of Tennessee, Michael R. Bradley, Hisory Press, 145 pp., illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, notes, 2011, $19.99.

Before the war he was a pastor, at the beginning of the war he was a recruiter, during the war he as an aide to N.B. Forrest and by the end of the war he had commanded a regiment, a battalion and a brigade. David Campbell Kelly's adventures are described in Forrest's Fighting Preacher: David Campbell Kelly of Tennessee. It serves as a fine 'slice of life' biography, a window into the Forrest's command, and a picture of Tennessee pastor.

Bradley reveals Kelly to be Forrest's trusted confidant. For Kelley, a clergyman who had served for two years as a missionary in China, his return to Tennessee conincided with the election of Lincoln and Tennessee's secession. He raised a cavalry company from his large congregation. The unit began its service in N. B. Forrest's original regiment. Kelley became Forrest's second in command, served in combat, offered on Forrest's staff and as ade-de-camp and chaplain. After the war, Kelley returned to the ministry and took part in the establishment of Vanderbilt University. Later he stood for the office of the governor of Tennessee.

Michael R. Bradley earned his PhD from Vanderbilt University and taught U.S. history for thirty-six years at Motlow College in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Now professor emeritus, he remains an active author and speaker. He is recognized for his several works, including Nathan Bedford Forrest's Escort And Staff , Tullahoma: The 1863 Campaign for the Control of Middle Tennessee and With Blood and Fire: Life Behind Union Lines in Middle Tennessee, 1863-65 .

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New And Noteworthy---What Did Blockade Runners Bring Into The Confederacy?

The Denbigh's Civilian Imports: Customs Records of a Civil War Blockade Runner between Mobile and Havana, J. Barto Arnold III, Institute of Nautical Archaeology, 512 pages, paperback, 2011, $40.00

The Denbigh Shipwreck Project Publication Number 5 offers customs forms and invoices revealed details of everyday life during the Civil War, January and June 1864. Hundreds of small orders for individually identified families as well as orders for merchants. The invoices presented might just as well be answers for survey questions to the lady of the house such as, “What six items would you like us to bring you from the general store in Havana ?”

A typical invoice might contain 20 yds. of fabric for new clothes, 6 pairs of children’s shoes, 10 lbs. of fancy tea, and 200 cigars. The book offers an amazing look into the import business during wartime and fascinating details on those Southerners who could afford them.
Bottom Image Source: Robert Oreg

Monday, November 14, 2011

New and Noteworthy---The Real War Has Gotten Into A Book: The Civil War Medical Photography Archive of Harewood Hospital

Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Photography, Book One: Wounded Soldiers Identified, 101 Regiments From the Harewood Hospital Album, Reed B. Bontecou, M.D., The Burns Archive Press, 165 pp., 100 b/w photographs, indices, primary references, $50.00.

Clinical photographs taken of the wounded soldiers taken by Dr. Reed Bontecou, were at one time among the collections of the Army Medical Museum. Later scattered, many are now in Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Photography, Book One: Wounded Soldiers Identified, 101 Regiments From the Harewood Hospital Album. Dr. Stanley Burns' 35 year pursuit benefits readers with this publication, the size of which is 5 3/4" by 6 3/4".

The first of several projected this volume, this volume of portraits present wounded soldiers' partially clothed with their wounds exposed and each patient holds a chalkboard with their names on it. The image of. J. E. Jolliff, Company K, 116 Pennsylvania Volunteers graces the book's cover. An extensive introduction offers a history of the photographs, a biographical sketch Dr. Reed B. Bontecou, an explanation of new weapons and the war's tactics, and a brief history Harewood Hospital.

The photographs are presented as 3.5 x 5.5 images with one photograph per page. Page 37 is typical of the format. "David R. Tempelton, Co. A., 46 NY, Petersburg, April 2, 1865, gun shot wound, left eye, [photograph taken] at time of admission. At 16, was admitted to HHH, Arpil 5 with gunshot wound of the head. Ball hit left temple, just back of outer angle of eye, grazing malar bone and eyeball, destroying sight; passed off producing fles would of the tip of the nose. Was wounded at Petersburgh April 2nd 1865. He is now well."

There are indices of the regiments, and the battles at which his subjects received their wounds. The bibliography of includes both print and online primary sources. This book aids general readers of the war ,and those readers specializing in medical history and Civil War photography. In summary, CWL recalls the words of the radio correspondent who May 6, 1937 watched the explosion and destruction of the zeppelin Hindenburg at Lakehurst, New Jersey. "The humanity! Oh! The humanity!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Film Coming in 2012, 2013---12 Years a Slave: Kidnapped And Sold Into Slavery, An Autobiography

Director Steve McQueen is already getting plenty of attention for his sexually controversial film Shame starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, and while his next film, Twelve Years a Slave already sounds promising featuring a reunion with the X-Men: First Class star and Chiwetel Ejiofor, the new is sure to get a considerable amount of exposure with a huge name now joining the cast. Screen Daily reports (and The Playlist confirms) that Brad Pitt, who is already producing the film through his Plan B production banner, will also have a role in the film written by McQueen along with Three Kings scribe John Ridley.

Based on Solomon Northup's 1853 autobiography, the film will tell the story of a free black man (Ejiofor) who found himself kidnapped and turned into a slave for twelve, long, grueling years under numerous owners. Northup was a happy, married, educated and free black man living in New York who was approached by two men with a job offer in Washington D.C. But upon his arrival in the capitol, he was kidnapped, put in a slave pen and passed around through various slave owners for twelve years. As an autobiography, the book is a detailed firsthand account of the slave markets in D.C. right down to the food served to the slaves. Spoiler alert for those who don't want to know too much, the real-life story has a happy ending with the man able to secure his freedom when a white carpenter from Canada, who didn't believe in slavery, smuggled out letters to Northup's wife, thus initiating a court case that set him free.

It's not clear what role Pitt will take in the film, but it's my bet that he'll play one of the various slave owners. Fassbender's role has yet to be confirmed either, but it's been speculated that he'll play the carpenter from Canada, though that role could just as easily end up going to Pitt. Either way, with a film like Shame putting McQueen in the spotlight for its NC-17 sexual drama, and a stellar cast, that includes a long deserved lead role for Ejiofor, this is already one of my more anticipated films in the coming years.

Text Source: First Showing
Top Image: Black Film
Bottom Image: Brad Pitt in film The Assassination of Jessee James

Journal of the Civil War Era: Volume 1 Number 3: Messmates, Illinois Politics, Women's Civil War History

The Journal of the Civil War Era announces the publication of its December 2011 issue, Voume 1 number 4. The journal is a collaborative effort between the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center at Penn State and the University of North Carolina Press. It canvasses the history-cultural, social, and economic as well as political and military-of the United States from roughly 1830 to 1890.

The contents of the December 2011 edition are as follows:


Rachel A. Shelden, "Messmates' Union: Friendship, Politics, and Living Arrangements in the Capital City, 1845-1861"

Bruce Levine, "'The Vital Element of the Republican Party': Antislavery, Nativism, and Abraham Lincoln"

James L. Huston, "The Illinois Political Realignment of 1844-1860: Revisiting the Analysis"

Review Essay:

Lyde Cullen Sizer, "Mapping the Spaces of Women's Civil War History"

Professional Notes:

Brian Kelly and John W. White, "The After Slavery Website: A New Online Resource for Teaching U.S. Slave Emancipation"

Further information about the journal, including subscription rates, may be found at:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

News---Gettysburg's Lutheran Seminary Building Becomes Battle Museum

Seminary Building Will Be Refurbished Into A Museum To Show Its Role In The Battle Of Gettysburg, Steve Marroni, The Evening Sun, November 2, 2011.

One of the most historically significant Civil War buildings in private hands soon will be refurbished into a state-of-the-art museum and will be open to the public just in time for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Schmucker Hall at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg was a lookout point and the center of the Union’s defenses the first day of the three-day battle. And in the following days, it served as a field hospital for hundreds of wounded soldiers.

Seminary Ridge Historic Preservation Foundation President John Spangler said the museum will teach people about the building’s role in the battle, as well as the sig­nificance religion played in the lives of Americans during the time of the Civil War.
“What’s amazing to me is that on both sides, Union and Confederate troops sat by the fire at night, and read from the same Bible", Spangler said.

The seminary, along with the Adams County Historical Society and the preservation foundation, received a $4 million state grant last week for The Voices of History campaign, which will transform the 1832 building into a fourstory, state-of-the-art museum. The building, once called the Old Dorm, has not been in use for students since the 1950s. Currently, the top two floors are not being used at all because of unsatisfactory heating and cooling and lack of humidity control, but the bottom two are a part of the historical society, where much of its collection is on display.

Spangler said Schmucker Hall played a significant role in the first day of the battle. The cupola at the top of the building has been a prominent feature for many historians, and was where Union cavalry Gen. John Buford observed the approaching Confederate army and met with Gen. John Reynolds to develop a plan.

Bradley Hoch, chairman of the Adams County Historical Society board of directors, said the Union's First Corps suffered 5,700 casualties killed, wounded and missing out of 8,000 soldiers as they defended the position at Schmucker Hall, giving the Union time to fortify other key points along the battlefield. He said the Union essentially traded lives for time. Each floor of the museum will have interpretive displays, bringing to life the history of Schmucker Hall, Spangler said. The fourth floor will be dedicated to the events of the first day of the battle that occurred around Schmucker Hall. The third floor will follow Schmucker Halls use as a field hospital during the remainder of the battle, and through September of that year. The second floor will focus on the moral and social history of the period, and will feature displays on faith, issues of slavery and freedom and the Underground Railroad, Spangler said. The first floor will be a reception area.

The museum will include murals, artifacts, and audio and video displays. It also will feature interactive maps, recreations of hospital scenes with die-cast statues and much more. The historical society is now packing up artifacts and moving them out of Schmucker Hall in preparation for construction, which is excepted to begin in December. The museum is expected to be ready by spring 2013.

Text and Image Source: The Evening Sun, 11.01.11

Sesquicentennial News----Port Royal Sound, November 1861

The Battle of Port Royal is among the earliest amphibious operations of the American Civil War. The United States' navy and army captured Port Royal Sound, South Carolina,on November 7, 1861. The sound lies between Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina and was guarded by two forts on opposite sides of the entrance: on the south was Fort Walker located on Hilton Head Island and to the north Fort Beauregard located on Phillip's Island.

Beginning on November 3 the amphious force assembled in the Atlantic close to its force's objective. Because of losses occurred during an Atlantic storm, the army was not able to land. The Federal attack was solely between ship-based guns and land based guns.

The fleet attacked on November 7 by bombarding Fort Walker and Fort Beauregard. After passing both forts several times, the fleet assumed enfilading positions that took advantage of both forts. Four Confederate gunboats appeared then fled into a creek. By the afternoon, a majority of the forts' artillery pieces could not be service by the Confederate gunners and the Confederate infantrymen had fled the forts. Fort Walker fell to landing parties from the Federal flagship.

Those Confederates gaurding Fort Beauregard assumed that they would soon have no way to escape and they abandoned the fort. Another landing party took possession of the Fort Beauregard later in the day. Though facing a heavy volume of fire, neither the Federal nor the Confederates suffered heavily and casualties were light. In both forts 11 men were killed, 47 were wounded, and 4 were missing. In the fleet, 8 were killed and 23 wounded. Immediately following the capture of the forts, the Union forces occupied Beaufort, Georgia, and moving north occupied St. Helena Sound. The northward expansion continued up to the rivers south of Charleston,
South Carolina.

The Civil War Navy blogsite offers a list of bloggers, news, resources and commemoration activities. Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial Bloggers. Matthew Eng, Coordinator, Deputy Educator, Hampton Roads Naval Museum, and Civil War Navy's blogsite coordinator, his other Blog Contributions: Hampton Roads Naval Museum, Naval History

Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial Website

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

News---President Signs Proclamation, Establishes Fort Monroe National Monument

President Barack Obama Tuesday signed an executive order making Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., which closed as a military base in September, a National Monument. Fort Monroe "was the site of the first slave ships to land in the New World," Obama said during the Oval Office signing. "But then in the Civil War, almost 250 years later, Fort Monroe also became a refuge for slaves that were escaping from the South, and helped to create the environment in which Abraham Lincoln was able to sign that document up there -- the Emancipation Proclamation."

Obama said the National Monument designation would bring millions of dollars to the region and create 3,000 jobs. "There's a strong economic component to this. We think we're going to see additional jobs in Virginia as a consequence of this. But for those members of Congress who are here, I still need some action from Congress on the American Jobs Act and other steps," the president said.

Remarks by the President at Signing of a Presidential Proclamation Establishing the Fort Monroe National Monument, President Barack Hussein Obama, Oval Office, White House, Washington, DC, November 2, 2011.

"Well, one of the great pleasures of this job, but also one of my responsibilities, is making sure that we are preserving our nation’s treasures so that they can be enjoyed by our children, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren. And over the years, over 100 sites have been set aside as national monuments -- everything from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon.

"So today, I am continuing that proud tradition by adding another monument to the list: Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, has played a remarkable role in the history of our nation. It was the site of the first slave ships to land in the New World. But then in the Civil War, almost 250 years later, Fort Monroe also became a refuge for slaves that were escaping from the South, and helped to create the environment in which Abraham Lincoln was able to sign that document up there -- the Emancipation Proclamation.

"In September, Fort Monroe closed its doors as a military base. But thanks to advocacy of some outstanding citizens and historians and elected officials who are represented here, as well as the great work of our Department of the Interior and Ken Salazar and the -- all the people who have been involved in making this day possible, we are going to continue this legacy, making Fort Monroe a national monument.

"This is going to give an opportunity for people from all across the country to travel to Fort Monroe and trace the history that has been so important to making America what it is. It’s also going to be an incredibly important economic boost to the region. Local officials estimate that this may end up creating as many as 3,000 jobs in the region. It will add millions of dollars to the local economy in and around Hampton. And so this is a win-win. Not only is it good for the people of that region now, but it also allows us to set aside this incredibly important site for the enjoyment and appreciation of generations to come.

"So I want to thank everybody who’s here for the great work that they’ve done. I am looking forward to not only visiting myself but also taking Malia and Sasha down there so they can get a little bit of sense of their history. And I thank the Commonwealth of Virginia for giving us this opportunity to appreciate the remarkable history of their state but also of this country.

So with that, I’m going to sign this bill -- or executive order.(The executive order is signed.) There you go. (Applause.) Just one last point I want to make. As I said, there’s a strong economic component to this. We think we’re going to see additional jobs in Virginia as a consequence of this. But for those members of Congress who are here, I still need some action from Congress -- (laughter) -- on the American Jobs Act and ot steps. But in the meantime, this is going to make a big difference. And again, I want to thank everybody here, particularly the private citizens who put their time and money and effort into making this day possible.

Top Text Source: United Press International

Bottom Text Source: White House

Top Image Source: Hampton Roads
Middle Image Source: Missouri Law
Bottom Image Source: White House

Off Topic---Stephen King 'Creeps Me Out'

Full Dark, No Stars, Stephen King, Scribner's Publishing, Pocket Books paperback edition, 576 pp., $9.95.

Once a decade CWL reads a book by Stephen King. During the previous decade it was On Writing which is in part a memoir and in part a writer's workshop lecture. It reveals a practical view of his craft and the contents of his toolkit. While looking for something that would 'creep him out' during autumn's dying of the light, CWL turned to King's 2010 Full Dark, No Stars.

The work Richard Matheson, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe is echoed and enhanced by King. In Full Dark, No Stars's first story '1922' is reminiscent of Poe's A Tell-Tale Heart. A farmer, making his son an accomplice, kills his wife; the motivation is that the wife has inherited land that she wants to sell to a pork rendering plant. The story meets King's checklist of being propelling and assaulting. But the characters' marionette strings are pulled conspicuously by King. The wife could have sold the land in a heart beat, taken the money and moved to Omaha; the author stops her. Even before the murder the farmer, who is not worth a pinch of owl's dung, lets rats overrun his barn. That is especially bad when the wife's ghoul sends them to do her bidding. CWL lived 20 years on a dairy and beef farm. No rats, just cats. Though the story meets King's criteria, set forth in an essay at the end of the book, of running at full speed on an open highway, 1922 has a few large and obvious potholes.

On the other hand, the next three stories, Big Driver, Fair Extension and A Good Marriage are are nearly irristable. Well plotted, with characters that are obnoxiously attractive and climaxes these stories are subtle, and satifying. The stories have a quick pace. Mundane details and slight metaphors fix images in the mind of the careful reader. The romance author in Big Driver can be a bit cloying; but her cat and her GPS hold to the Socratic Method and ask questions that keep the author and the reader on task. In Fair Extension, a devil appears with an offer that should have been refused by a loan officer with terminal cancer. This story is a long list of painful circumstances imposed on the banker's best friend and his family. The ending is both striking and disappointing. The protagonist is left staring at the planet Venus, thinking that life is good. The scene is reminescent of work by playwright Henrik Ibsen and the novelist Norman Mailer.

A Good Marriage offers a question and an answer. How would a wife who has a good marriage respond when she learns that her husband is a serial killer? This is King's most successful short story among the four in Full Dark, No Stars. The main character's narrative voice is clear and relates her utterly boring, normal life in a marriage with two children. Like the other main characters in these stories, the wife discovers a double life witin her marriage partner, and then she discovers her own double life. In each of these stories these characters talk to themselves in slang and baby talk. It is annoying. Yet for CWL the overall effect of these four stories is that they do indeed 'creep him out.'

After the four short stories, King offers a further look at his motivation. He has been writing for the market place since he was 18 and has been in the trade for over 40 years. It's not about the money reports the fiction writer who is a multi-millionaire. King can not stop writing fiction; he has his own criteria and standards. You might like some of his stories; you might not like some of his stories. He might judge himself as more successful in some stories and less so in others. There will be more to come. CWL expects to continue to read King's work, sometime in the next decade, just like the past four decades.