Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Opinion---Washington Post Columnist Asks Dixie To Do The Impossible: Disown R. E. Lee

Robert E. Lee, Symbol Of The South's Greatest Mistake: It's Time To Disown The Civil War General, Richard Cohen, New York Daily News, April 26th 2011

The Opinion: It has taken a while, but it's about time Robert E. Lee lost the Civil War. The South was defeated on the battlefield in 1865, yet the Lee legend - swaddled in myth, kitsch and racism - has endured even past the civil rights era, when it became urgent to finally tell the "Lost Cause" to get lost. Now it's Lee's turn. He was loyal to slavery and disloyal to his country - not worthy of the honors accorded him.

I confess to always being puzzled by the cult of Lee. Whatever his personal or military virtues, he offered himself to the cause of slavery. He owned slaves and fought in the courts to keep them. He commanded the vast army of a nation dedicated to the proposition that white people could own black people and sell them off as the owner saw fit. Such a man cannot be admired.

But he is. All over the South, particularly in his native Virginia, the cult of Lee is manifested in streets, highways and schools named for him. When I first moved to the Washington area, I used to marvel at these homages to the man. What was being honored? Slavery? Treason? Or maybe, for this is how I perceive him, no sense of humor? I also wondered what a black person was supposed to think. Chagrin or rage would be perfectly appropriate.

I kept thinking I must be missing something. I imagined all sorts of virtues in his face. He is always dignified in photos, a perfect pill of a man yet somehow adored by his men. They cheered him when he left Appomattox Court House, having just surrendered. They shouted, Hooray for Lee! Hooray for what?

Now comes Elizabeth Brown Pryor, author of Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters, who in an essay for The New York Times gives us a Lee at odds with the one of gauzy myth. He was not the creature of crushing political pressure who had little choice but to pick his state over his country. In fact, members of his own family stuck with the Union.

"When Lee consulted his brothers, sister and local clergymen, he found that most leaned toward the Union," Pryor wrote. "At a grim dinner with two close cousins, Lee was told that they also intended to uphold their military oaths. . . . Sister Anne Lee Marshall unhesitatingly chose the Northern side, and her son outfitted himself in blue uniform." Pryor says that about 40% of Virginia officers "would remain with the Union forces."

After the war, the South embraced a mythology of victim hood. An important feature was the assertion that the war had been not about slavery at all but about states' rights. The secessionists themselves were not so shy. In their various declarations, they announced they were leaving the Union to preserve slavery. Lee not only accepted the Lost Cause myth, he propagated it and came to embody it.

Lee was a brilliant field marshal whose genius was widely acknowledged - Lincoln wanted him to command the Union forces. A commander of more modest talents might have been beaten sooner, might not have taken the war to the North (Gettysburg) and expended so many lives. Lee is an American Rommel, the German general who fought brilliantly, but for Hitler.

British novelist L. P. Hartleay's observation that "the past is a foreign country" cautions us all against facile judgments. In the antebellum South, there were plenty of people who recognized the evil of slavery and the folly of secession. Lee was not one of them and deserves no honor. In the awful war that began 150 years ago this month, he fought on the wrong side for the wrong cause. It's time for the South to honor the ones who were right.

Text Source: Washington Post April 25, 2011
Image Source: The Truth About Guns

CWL: The past is a foreign country to Richard Cohen. CWL understands that Lee was a slaveholder, who broke his oath of honorable allegiance made at West Point and who loved Virginia above his country. But to call Lee "an American Rommel . . . who fought for Hitler" demonizes the Confederacy. Complaining that Lost Cause ideology embraced 'victim hood' Cohen turns around and likens the Confederacy to Nazi Germany. As much as The Lost Cause promoters get it wrong so does Cohen get it wrong. The arrogance of his opinion discredits his argument that The Lost Cause promoters should look hard at the facts, less at their navels, and stop complaining about the negative images of themselves in the media.

Monday, April 25, 2011

New and Noteworthy: Why Didn't The Confederacy Seize Washington in April 1861? Was It Lee's Fault?

Excerpts from Jim Cullen's Review of John Lockwood and Charles Lockwood's The Siege of Washington: The Untold Story of the Twelve Days that Shook the Union (Oxford, 2011) which appears on the History News Network, April 24, 2011.

"Historians like to remind us that collective memory is a process of remembrance and forgetting. In the case of contemporary Civil War historiography, there is a growing recognition that historians themselves have lost sight of something important in recent decades: the depth and power of Northern unionism. Much of the work of the last half-century has focused on American racism (cause in its own right in the case of the Confederacy, fact of life in the case of the Union), or impersonal structural forces like capitalism, whether industrial or slave-based, in the coming of the conflict. And the major social changes of the sixties -- that's the 1960s, not the 1860s -- have placed great emphasis on the role of individual struggles and collective oppression of important demographic segments of the population. Amid these legitimate and useful avenues of scholarship, it is sometimes hard for students of the war to imagine, much less remember, that millions of Americans had a deep and abiding commitment to the idea of a constitutional republic, one for which hundreds of thousands proved willing to risk their lives. Books like Joan Waugh's recent biography of Ulysses S. Grant, Gary Gallagher's newly published The Union War and Adam Goodheart's recent 1861: The Civil War Awakening have reconnected with these currents. In an indirect but powerful way, so do brothers John and Charles Lockwood in The Siege of Washington."

"This volume is the first book-length treatment of a standard episode of the master narrative: the tense two-week period in April 1861 following the fall of Fort Sumter, when Washington DC was essentially a federal island in a Confederate lake, situated between a Maryland itching for the chance to secede from the Union and a Virginia that would formally succeed in doing so. In these desperate days, with railroad and telegraph lines cut, the national capital was extraordinarily vulnerable."

"What the brothers are best at, though, is capturing the awakening of Northern patriotism in the face of the crisis. This was apparent in the enthusiasm with which the the Union states responded to President Lincoln's call for volunteers, but also a newly assertive unionism that surfaced in what had always been a de facto Southern city."

"The Lockwoods periodically check in with the Davis administration, still in Montgomery, as well as Virginia politicians and Robert E. Lee, who declined Scott's offer to command the U.S. army. We learn at one point that Washington never fell in large part because Lee commanded that Virginia troops would not take the city, but we get no clear sense of why, or why the Confederacy as a whole did not capitalize on what appeared to be a golden opportunity."

The full text of Jim Cullen's Review of The Siege of Washington: The Untold Story of the Twelve Days That Shook the Union by John Lockwood and Charles Lockwood

CWL: Frankly speaking, of the many March and April releases this book had little appeal to CWL. But after reading the review, specially in regard to the importance of Unionism as motivation and the possibilty that Lee, due to his previous loyalty did not press his command forward, is intriguing. CWL might work this book into the reading schedule before Memorial Day or Flag Day.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

New---Lincoln On War: The Commander-In-Chief And The People's Contest

Lincoln On War, Edited by Harold Holzer, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 304 pp., index, 24.95. April 2011.

Harold Holzer has produced 40+ books on American Civil War topics. Not bad for someone whose daytime job is with the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art as the Senior Vice President for External Affairs, the largest and most comprehensive art museum in the western hemisphere. Though skeptical of Civil War another Lincoln book during the sesquicentennial, CWL was won over in an hour of reading.

Holzer presents portions of 160 speeches, address, proclamations, letters, drafts, telegrams, remarks to small groups, personal meditations, memorandums, letters to newspapers and mutterings to windows. Twenty five of these occurred between 1832 and April 15, 1861. The first one is a receipt dated April 28, 1832 for 30 muskets, bayonets, screw and wipers which Lincoln was obliged to return when the Sangamon County militia company is finished with them. The second item is an address to the Young Men's Lyceum regarding the importance for oral history provided by veterans and the notion themselves provide a living history. The third is Lincoln's anti-war Spot Resolution that was introduced to the House of Representatives in 1847. Holzer's editing of the documents is judicious and usually he offers Lincoln's thoughts in one , two or three pages.

Holzer provides brief and to-the-point introductions to each item. Lincoln On War provides casual personal reading and small group and classroom discussion material. As a collection of primary sources with a central theme, Lincoln On War is accessible for members Civil War Round Tables, book discussion groups, high school and college classrooms. There is a place on CWL' bookshelf for Lincoln On War, right beside Holzer's Lincoln At Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President and The Lincoln Image: Abraham Lincoln in Popular Print.

News----Someone's MA Thesis Begins In These Acid Free Boxes

Andrew G. Curtin Association of Army Nurses, 1861-1903, Andrew G. Curtin Association of Army Nurses, Records, 1861-1903, MC 19

Andrew G. Curtin Association of Army Nurses Records, Center for The Study of The History of Nursing, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania Historical Sketch. The Andrew G. Curtin Association of Army Nurses was composed of Philadelphia-area nurses who served in the Civil War. The Association was founded as the Army Nurse Association of Philadelphia on 24 May 1895 to provide for members in need and to hold social activities supporting such work. The first recorded name change is recorded in the Association's minutes of 24 April 1898 with no discussion preceding the change. Summary. This collection documents the activities of the Association from its founding until the close of its minutes in 1903. Although sketchy, the minutes describe many of the groups activities, including membership, fundraising, and support for its members. A printed testimonial of Annie Wittenmyer, active in the Civil War and past president of the Women's Relief Corp is included with some undated minutes of the Association on the verso. Also included are Mary J. Fox's recollections of her experience in the Civil War and of other members of her family who served in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Freedmen's Hospital Nurses Alumni Club of Philadelphia Records, 1973-1986, MC 23

Freedmen's Hospital was established in 1865 as the Freedmen's Bureau for the "relief of freed men and refugees" by the War Department of the United States. This was due in part to the many freed slaves who migrated to Washington D.C. following the Civil War. Four years after the hospital's founding, they relocated to the campus of Howard University. The School of Nursing was founded in 1894 as an eighteen month program which was later expanded two years. In 1909, the length of study was increased to three years. In the early twentieth century, the school affiliated with a number of institutions in the Washington area in addition to Howard, such as the Gallanger Municipal Hospital and the D.C. General Hospital. The hospital phased out the school and graduated its last class in 1973.

Howard University opened their baccalaureate school of nursing the following year to replace Freedmen's. Over Freedmen's 79 year period, it graduated 1,700 nurses. The Freedmen's Hospital Nurses Alumni Clubs, based in Washington D.C. coordinates local clubs around the country. The Freedmen's Hospital Nurses Alumni Club of Philadelphia, founded in 1966, was established to promote goodwill among its graduates, to participate in the community health and cultural and educational programs, and to support the scholarship fund of the Freedmen's (and later) the Howard University Federation.
Summary. This collection includes five folders of miscellaneous materials that document some of the activities of the Philadelphia club. There is also one publication of oral interviews produced by the national office.

Archives Location: Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, School of Nursing, Nursing Education Building, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6096;

Andrew Curtain Association of Army Nurses

Freeman's Hospital Nurses Alumni Club of Philadelphia

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New and Noteworthy---Enduring Battle: American Soldiers In Three Wars, 1776-1945

Enduring Battle: American Soldiers in Three Wars, 1776-1945,Christopher H. Hamner. University of Kansas Press, 282pp., notes, bibliography, index, 2011, $29.95.

Throughout history, battlefields have placed a soldier's instinct for self-preservation in direct opposition to the army's insistence that he do his duty and put himself in harm's way. Enduring Battle looks beyond advances in weaponry to examine changes in warfare at the very personal level. Drawing on the combat experiences of American soldiers in three widely separated wars--the Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II--Christopher Hamner explores why soldiers fight in the face of terrifying lethal threats and how they manage to suppress their fears, stifle their instincts, and marshal the will to kill other humans.

Hamner contrasts the experience of infantry combat on the ground in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when soldiers marched shoulder-to-shoulder in linear formations, with the experiences of dispersed infantrymen of the mid-twentieth century. Earlier battlefields prized soldiers who could behave as stoic automatons; the modern dispersed battlefield required soldiers who could act autonomously. As the range and power of weapons removed enemies from view, combat became increasingly depersonalized, and soldiers became more isolated from their comrades and even imagined that the enemy was targeting them personally. What's more, battles lengthened so that exchanges of fire that lasted an hour during the Revolutionary War became round-the-clock by World War II.

The book's coverage of training and leadership explores the ways in which military systems have attempted to deal with the problem of soldiers' fear in battle and contrasts leadership in the linear and dispersed tactical systems. Chapters on weapons and comradeship then discuss soldiers' experiences in battle and the relationships that informed and shaped those experiences.

Hamner highlights the ways in which the "band of brothers" phenomenon functioned differently in the three wars and shows that training, conditioning, leadership, and other factors affect behavior much more than political ideology. He also shows how techniques to motivate soldiers evolved, from the linear system's penalties for not fighting to modern efforts to convince soldiers that participation in combat would actually maximize their own chances for survival.

Examining why soldiers continue to fight when their strong instinct is to flee, Enduring Battle challenges long-standing notions that high ideals and small unit bonds provide sufficient explanation for their behavior. Offering an innovative way to analyze the factors that enable soldiers to face the prospect of death or debilitating wounds, it expands our understanding of the evolving nature of warfare and its warriors.

CWL: With the book in hand a review of the index includes the following major subjects: ammunition, artillery, battlefield experiences, casualties, the Civil War, Civil War battles [Antietam, Bull Run, Chapmpions's Hill, Chancellorsville, Chickamaugua, Fredericksburg, Gaines' Mill, Gettysburg, Resaca, Wilderness], Shiloh receives its own entry that covers 10 pages, Confederate Army, fear in combat, Minie balls, motivating factors, muskets, officers, rifled muskets, Springfield rifles, and Union Army.

CWL is attracted to Hamner's work; it is one in the Kansas University Modern War Study, which is a superlative series.

Text Source: University of Kansas Press

Off Topic [Maybe] Ebook and Online Film---Popular Culture, Steam Punk, and the American Civil War

Steampunk is a sub-genre of fiction literature that combines science fiction and alternate history fiction. It came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. In the early 1990s, CWL first encountered Steampunk literature through The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. One part detective story and one part historical thriller, and one part speculative science fiction The Difference Engine is set in 1880s during the Industrial Revolution. So don't be surpised by the steam-driven engines that power Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. The computer age arrives a century early.

Steampunk literature involves an era where coal fired steam engines are widely used. Specifically, Steampunk features anachronistic technology meeting futuristic innovations during the Victorian era. Generally, a Victorian perspective on politics, races, high and low cultures, art and architectural styles is the worldview of these novels. The fictional machines found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne may appear along side other to-occur-in-the-next-century devices.

Steampunk fiction is found on the same shelves in bookstores that hold Cyberpunk fiction. There is considerable sharing of concepts between Steampunk and Cyberpunk. Cyberpunk? Think of the film Bladerunner. Both Steampunk and Cyberpunk have counterparts in the visual arts and interpretative music arts. Which leads CWL to The Pinkerton Files.

"A groundbreaking new series, on sale today on iTunes, Audible, Kobo, Amazon.com and other digital retailers, sets the real-life adventures of Allan Pinkerton, America's first private eye, in an alternate reality where the history of the United States takes radically different turns because of steam technology. Written by Canadian author David Luchuk, The Pinkerton Files re-casts history into a steampunk reflection of itself where fact and fiction collide into a moody, sophisticated and surreal adventure.

The series is available in both digital audio and ebook formats.The audio is narrated by Michael Hogan — known internationally for his role as Battlestar Galactica's Colonel Saul Tigh — as well as his wife, Susan, and their children, Gabriel and Jennie. "Playing Allan Pinkerton was the most fun I've had in a while," said Hogan. "The world that Luchuk has created is a truly amazing place to be." Developed by Audio Joe Inc. in partnership with HarperCollinsCanada, The Pinkerton Files is the first digital-only product of its kind launched by a major publisher."

CWL has received a link to three episodes of The Pinkerton Files and will happily find time in the next two weeks to view them.

The Text in quotes is provided by the Pinkerton Files author and HaperCollins Publishing.

Top Image Source: Kyle Cassidy and is registered on Wikipedia Commons.

Sequicentennial News---Have The Winners Forgotten The Civil War?

In North, Civil War Sites, Events Long 'Forgotten', Russell Contreras, Associated Press , Associated Press, April 17, 2011.

The gravesite of a Union Army major general sits largely forgotten in a small cemetery along the Massachusetts Turnpike. A piece of the coat worn by President Abraham Lincoln when he was assassinated rests quietly in a library attic in a Boston suburb. It's shown upon request, a rare occurrence. A monument honoring one of the first official Civil War black units stands in a busy intersection in front of the Massachusetts Statehouse, barely gaining notice from the hustle of tourists and workers who pass by each day.

As the nation marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, states in the old South —the side that lost — are hosting elaborate re-enactments, intricate memorials, even formal galas highlighting the war's persistent legacy in the region. But for many states in the North — the side that won — only scant, smaller events are planned in an area of the nation that helped sparked the conflict but now, historians say, struggles to acknowledge it. "It's almost like it never happened," said Annie Murphy, executive director of the Framingham History Center in Framingham, Mass. "But all you have to do is look around and see evidence that it did. It's just that people aren't looking here."

Massachusetts, a state that sent more than 150,000 men to battle and was home to some of the nation's most radical abolitionists, created a Civil War commemoration commission just earlier this month. Aging monuments stand unattended, sometimes even vandalized. Sites of major historical events related to the war remain largely unknown and often compete with the more regionally popular American Revolution attractions. Meanwhile, states like Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina and Missouri not only established commissions months, if not years ago, but also have ambitious plans for remembrance around well-known tourist sites and events. In South Carolina, for example, 300 Civil War re-enactors participated last week in well-organized staged battles to mark the beginning of the war.

To be sure, some Northern states have Civil War events planned and have formed commemoration commissions. Connecticut's 150th Civil War Commemoration was set up in 2008 and has scheduled a number of events and exhibits until 2015. Vermont, the first state to outlaw slavery, started a similar commission last year to coordinate activities statewide and in towns. And some Massachusetts small non-profit and historic groups are trying to spark interest through research, planned tours and town events. But observers say those events pale in comparison to those in the South.

That difference highlights Northern states' long struggle with how to remember a war that was largely fought on Southern soil, said Steven Mintz, a Columbia University history professor and author of "Moralists and Modernizers: America's Pre-Civil War Reformers." For Northern states like Massachusetts, Mintz said revisiting the Civil War also means revisiting their own unsolved, uncomfortable issues like racial inequality after slavery. "We've spent a century and a half turning (the war) into a gigantic North-South football game in which everybody was a hero," Mintz said. "In other words, we depoliticized the whole meaning of the war. And insofar as it was captured, it was captured by the descendants of the Confederates."

Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group open to male descendants of veterans who served in the Confederate armed forces, boast 30,000 members across the Old South. The Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War has 6,000 members. Kevin Tucker, Massachusetts Department Commander for the Sons of the Union Veterans, said some Northern descendants don't even know they're related to Union veterans. "I found out after my father did some research and discovered that my great-great-grandfather had collected a Union pension," said Tucker, of Wakefield. "Until then, I had no idea."

Mark Simpson, 57, South Carolina commander of Sons of Confederate Veterans, said his family knew for generations about his great-great-grandfather's service in the Confederacy. "I visit his gravesite every year and put a flag down," Simpson said. "He is real to me." Mintz said the North has another factor affecting its Civil War memory: immigration from Italy and Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century. He said those populations, and more recent immigrants, sometimes struggle to identify with that war compared to more contemporary ones.

Then, Mintz said, after the Civil War a number of Northerners moved West — and to the South. History buffs with the Framingham History Center in Framingham, Mass., a town where residents say "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was first sung, said they are using the sesquicentennial to bring attention to long-forgotten local Civil War sites and personalities. Included in a planned event is a celebration at Harmony Grove, site of many anti-slavery rallies where abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison famously burned a copy of the U.S. Constitution and called it a "pact with the Devil."

Today, only a small plaque in front of a house announces the historic site now surrounded by industrial lots, train tracks and a motorcycle shop. Volunteers also hope to raise around $1 million for Framingham's dilapidated Civil War memorial building to repair its cracked walls and leaky ceiling. The building houses a memorial honoring Framingham soldiers killed in the war and an American flag that flew over the Battles of Gettysburg and Antietam. (Murphy said the flag was discovered in the 1990s after being forgotten in a case for 90 years.)

Fred Wallace, the town's historian, said that more importantly, volunteers wanted to bring attention to General George H. Gordon, a long-forgotten Union hero from Framingham who was a prolific writer and organizer of the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. "I don't understand how this man was lost to history," said Wallace, who has researched Gordon's life and is now writing a biography on him. "He was in the middle of everything."

During a recent afternoon, Murphy took a reporter and photographer to Gordon's gravesite, which she said would be included in a planned walking tour. But Murphy couldn't locate the site and a cemetery official needed to comb through maps to find it. Murphy said putting the pieces together of Gordon's life is part of the fun, even when it surprises residents. "When I was told that I lived in what used to be a barn of Gen. Gordon's horse," 81-year-old Ellen Shaw said, "I was like ... General who?"

Since then Shaw has joined history buffs in searching for what they believe is a marker announcing the gravesite of Ashby, Gordon's horse in many battles. She hasn't located it on her property. "I hope I find it one day when I'm just walking around outside," Shaw said. "Then I can say, 'Glad to meet you. Sorry we forgot about you.'

Image Caption: In this March 25, 2011 photo, a workman does repairs at the Framingham History Center behind a statue.
Image and Text Source: Yahoo News/Associated Press

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Off Topic: New Orleans History---Life in A New Orleans Bordello

The Last Madam: A Life In The New Orleans Underworld, Christine Wiltz, Faber and Faber Inc, 2000, 228 pp., 18 b/w photographs, $16.00 [DaCapo Press, 2001].

Self-labeled as landladies, brothel keepers in New Orleans became noted for their hospitality and ability to keep secrets in the city's French Quarter. Before Norma Wallace turned 20 she realized that more opportunities and were available to madames that were not available to prostitutes. Using her personnel and patron management skills, she became known for her politically connected customers and her clean prostitutes.

In 1901 Wallace was born into a family with generation poverty; she turned to street walking during her teens. During the 1920s she began to follow her desires for a less risky, more comfortable and profitable career: bordello management. She became a landlady whose tenants were prostitutes discreetly serving policemen, politicans and gangsters in a somewhat lavish house of many floors and rooms.

Personally, Wallace kept the company of sharp-looking gangsters one of which was a killer. Several husbands and lovers passed through her career: a blind bantam weight boxing champion, jazz and Hollywood entertainers, and.a contract hitman, Her longest lasting was with a man who was almost 40 years younger than herself.

Late in her career, her first prison sentence encouraged Wallace to get out of the business during 1960s. Wiltz captured Wallace's memories before Wallace committed suicide in 1974. Police and envelopes of cash, politicians and criminals passing each other in the door way, pet dogs and birds, fast cars loaded with new college graduates, and the knack of interior design are covered in The Last Madame. Vivid details of the personal conduct and health issues of the prostitutes are recalled. Enclosed pathways and hiding places are necessary part of the bordellos' design. Once, she sets up a temporary bordello in a mortuary.

Wiltz interviews several of Wallace's husbands, lovers, professional friends and former clients and thereby broadens her biography in to a New Orleans history. Though the book's central character is an individual, Wiltz widens the focus to include New Orleans political history and downtown development. Wallace is a complex individual who lives her life on many levels, both public levels and private levels in the social milieu of 20th-century New Orleans.

Wiltz' portrait is of a very strong willed woman who for over 40 years ran a successful brothel for the New Orleans gentry. Wiltz's story is of the last madame standing in a city transitioning from the late 19th century and into 20th century burgeoning commercialized tourist industry. Like her clients Norma Wallace was shrewd and ambitious.

Within in the past two years, CWL has visited New Orleans twice and plans to do so again. A city which it would nice to visit once, New Orleans now has become a destination. David Fulmer's late 19th century detective novels set in New Orleans, an antebellum New Orleans slave market history, along with a history book that examines the world that made New Orleans are now on the shelf that is labelled 'To Be Read Soon.'

Friday, April 15, 2011

News---Rate Hike At Gettysburg NMP's Visitor Center

Gettysburg Foundation Defends Rate Hike; Residents Call For Transparency, Say Hike May Deter Tourists, Tim Purdente, The Evening Sun, April 14, 2011.

Gettysburg Foundation officials defended plans Thursday night to increase ticket prices for the Cyclorama painting, film and museum at the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center.

The move would be the second time fees have been raised since an admission price was implemented in 2008 at the museum, which was originally planned as free facility for the display of Civil War relics. Some residents objected to the plan during a public meeting at the park and called for the foundation to release revenue and expense figures. Others said the price increase will drive away visitors, especially children. "Part of the problem here is getting the information," said Gettysburg resident Steve Felix. "Where do we get what your expenses are and what you're making?"

Gettysburg Foundation President Joanne Hanley said plans have been made to make annual financial reports available to the public soon. She said the plans will help residents understand why an increase to ticket prices is necessary. "I've worked at other museums and, quite honestly, been embarrassed," she said. "This (facility) must never grow old, stagnant, deteriorated, and run down because of a lack of appropriations like so many others."

The fee increase, projected to sustain the foundation for the next three years, would begin January 2012. Most ticket prices will increase $2 and an adult ticket, for those 13 and older, would cost $12.50 and a youth ticket would cost $8.50. In June of 2009 ticket prices increased to $10.50 and $6.50 respectively. Admission for children 5 and younger will remain free. Hanley said the facility had been operating at a deficit and that it was "irresponsible" to think prices could remain low while costs everywhere are increasing. "I don't want to fundraise," she said. "I don't want us to get in a situation like so many other museums relying on state and federal funding."

Hanley said the foundation has taken dramatic steps to cut costs. She said two vice president positions have been cut and that her own salary is less than half the nearly $425,000 made by the foundation's first president. Still, she said the facility is faced with increasing expenses due to employee health care and utility costs. Other officials have noted that an increase in the use of credit cards has led to higher processing fees and the growing visitation from tour groups has led to the need for more staff to direct and manage the crowds. She added that the foundation is working carefully not to price itself out of the market. Others, though, contended the increase would hit hardest among children visiting the facility.

Under the new plan, children ages 13 and older would be considered adults and subject to a $12.50 ticket. The current fees allow children ages 6 to 18 admission for a $6.50 youth ticket. Licensed battlefield guide Tom Vossler said such a hike will deter youth visitation. "The children are our primary audience. So we're going to increase their fees and anoint them adults? I don't think that's right," he said.

Vossler said the foundation has also proposed to increase fees for car tours, from $55 to $65, which he believes will discourage tourists. Hanley, though, said they're confident an increase to the price of guided tours won't drive away visitors. She said that's because many visitors believe tours now cost $55 per person, instead of for the entire car. Therefore, she says, the price is often less expensive than visitors believe and a $10 increase won't affect much.
Gettysburg resident Dean Shultz was concerned a $2 increase to the costs for student groups, from $6 to $8, will deter field trips. "How will it affect the schools?" he asked. "I think you're making a big jump here."

He, too, asked for the foundation's financials to be posted so the reason for the hike can be understood. "I don't know what justification you have for the increase," he added. "Hopefully some financial study has been done but I haven't seen it."

The Gettysburg Foundation operates the Visitor Center for the park under an agreement to donate the facility and the land upon which it sits, debt-free, at the end of 2028. The Foundation draws upon ticket revenues, proceeds from the bookstore and food sales to pay down $20 million in municipal bonds issued for construction of the facility.

Hanley praised the relationship and said it would have allowed the Visitor Center to remain open during a shutdown of the government, when every other national park museum would have closed. And not everyone in attendance criticized the proposed ticket increase. Gettysburg resident David Dematteis said the price is fair for the experience offered at the Visitor Center. "Price increases are a fact of life," he said, adding that he would like to see more of the park's artifacts on display.

But Vossler warned officials that the real treasure was the battlefield and not the $103-million facility. "We used to talk about education, preservation, information and protection. Now we talk about the building, the building, the building," he said. "There are hundreds of monuments on this battlefield and this building should not be made one of them."

Text Source: Evening Sun April 14, 2011

News---Gettyburg NMP Rangers Launch Weblog

The Official Gettysburg Park Blog: From the Fields of Gettysburg, News and historical views from the staff at Gettysburg National Military Park.

From the Fields at Gettysburg, April 12, 2011:

Each summer our rangers present over 2,100 interpretive programs for the public. We cover a wide range of subjects with these programs and reach quite a few people, but there are many things about Gettysburg we don't cover, either because we don't have time or the subject doesn't quite fit a formal interpretive program. A blog however, provides us the ideal outlet to explore a wide variety of topics. We can do it year round and you don't need to be in Gettysburg to participate. You can be anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection. The chilly wind and falling temperatures of fall and winter may curtail our interpretive programs but not our blogging.

I am Scott Hartwig, a supervisory historian at Gettysburg National Military Park. I have worked at Gettysburg full-time since 1980 and like to say that I have never been bored a single day in my career here. Sounds contrived but it is true. It is a fascinating, exciting place to work and not a week goes by that I don't acknowledge how fortunate I am to work here. My part in this blogging adventure is to tackle history topics while my partner Katie Lawhon blogs about park news. But I won't do the history part alone. All of our permanent historians and rangers will be making contributions. They are Angie Atkinson, Matt Atkinson, Bert Barnett, Troy Harman, John Heiser, Tom Holbrook, Evangelina Rubalcava, and Karlton Smith. And we will have other people on the park staff make contributions from time to time.

We hope to range far and wide in what we cover about Gettysburg with this blog. The subject matter is deep and rich; the battle, its aftermath, the Soldiers' National Cemetery, the Gettysburg Address, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, monuments, marking the field, battlefield farms, soldiers, civilians, preserving and protecting the park resources today, interpreting the battle . . . you get the picture; we have a nearly inexhaustible supply of topics we can cover. It should be interesting and I hope get at not only the stories about this special place, but also why we preserve it and what it continues to teach us.

We plan on a schedule of a new history related post every two weeks. However, our first two posts will be this Thursday and Friday, to mark the 150th anniversary of the firing on Ft. Sumter and the beginning of the Civil War. The subject will be some of the soldiers who participated in that engagement and later fought Gettysburg. See you then.

Scott Hartwig, Supervisory Historian, Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg National Military Park Weblog

Review----Indiana's Civil War: From Front Lines to Home Front

Indiana's War: The Civil War in Documents, Richard F. Nation, Stephen E. Towne, eds. Ohio University Press, 2009. xx + 252 pp. $18.65 (paper).

Indiana's War in Documents A Review by A. James Fuller (University of Indianapolis),Published on H-CivWar, April, 2011.

Indiana’s War offers an excellent collection of primary source documents that will prove useful to scholars and students of the Civil War and midwestern history. Published as a volume in the Ohio University Press series, The Civil War in the Great Interior, the book is edited by Eastern Michigan University history professor Richard F. Nation and Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, archivist Stephen E. Towne, two established authorities on the nineteenth-century Midwest and Indiana in particular. Emphasizing race and politics, the book provides a wide range of documents that reflect current trends in historical research by including a diverse number of authors--rich and poor, well known and obscure, male and female, black and white--and covering topics ranging from the front lines to the home front, from southern Indiana to the northern part of the state, from state politics to slavery, from patriotism to treason. The editors provide brief, but interpretive introductions to the book as a whole and each chapter, along with a chronology and a section of discussion questions, which all combine to make this a powerful teaching tool for use in the college classroom.

The editors’ introduction sets up the interpretive framework of the book in its first sentence: “The two main issues that drove the Civil War--slavery and the right of a people to determine their own institutions--had animated politics in Indiana from its territorial slavery” (p. 1). Arguing that race and slavery played an essential role in early Indiana politics, despite the midwestern state being a free state that had been part of the Northwest Territory that forbade slavery from its beginning, Nation and Towne reflect the trends of the last several decades that have seen a return to seeing slavery as the dominant theme in studies of Civil War causation. Noting that Indiana had a large Southern influence due to early settlement patterns (the state was settled from south to north, with most of the first settlers coming from Virginia via Kentucky), the editors also point out the pervasive racism of white Hoosiers. While most of the state’s white citizens were antislavery in their sentiments, they had mixed reasons for that view.

For Full Text of Review Go To : H-Net Reviews

Thursday, April 14, 2011

News---Gettysburg Casino Rejected by Gaming Commission

Proposed Gettysburg Casino Location Rejected by Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Civil War Trust praises board for its enduring commitment to protecting this hallowed ground (Harrisburg, Pa.) – Following today’s decision by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to reject a second proposal to bring casino gambling to the doorstep of Gettysburg National Military Park, Civil War Trust president Jim Lighthizer issued the following statement:

“Both personally, and on behalf of our members, I would like to thank the members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for their thoughtful deliberation and insightful decision. By stating that the hallowed ground of America’s most blood-soaked battlefield is no place for this type of adults-only enterprise, they have reiterated the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s commitment to its priceless history and upheld its obligation to protect such sites from wanton and unnecessary degradation.

“This is a great day, not just for Gettysburg, but for all historic sites. However, we must remember that this proposal was just a symptom of a larger problem — the numerous irreplaceable sites similarly besieged by ill-considered development. I am confident that those seeking to protect priceless treasures of our past will be empowered by this victory for historic preservation, and I hope that its spirit will be carried forth in other communities facing similar questions of encroachment.

“Sadly, this was not the first time that the Gaming Board was forced to weigh the possibility of gaming with a Gettysburg address. Now that two such proposals have been denied — clearly demonstrating the resonant power this iconic site and the widespread desire to protect it — I sincerely hope that those would seek personal profit and financial gain will think twice about trading on the blood of 50,000 American casualties.

“Now, as ever, the Civil War Trust and its allies stand ready to work on behalf of Gettysburg and the other deathless fields that shaped the legacy of our nation, particularly as we begin the sesquicentennial commemoration of the American Civil War. We are exceptionally pleased to have the support and cooperation of visionary government bodies, like the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, that understand the singular significance of such sites to aid our efforts.”

Since it was announced last year, the proposal to open Mason-Dixon Gaming Resort a scant half-mile from Gettysburg National Military Park has drawn immense opposition — an early April survey by a nationally renowned polling and research firm found that only 17 percent of Pennsylvanians supported the idea, with 66 percent actively opposed and 57 percent indicating that such a facility would be “an embarrassment” to the Commonwealth. Tens of thousands of petitions were submitted against the project and nearly 300 prominent historians united to urge its rejection, as did the national leadership of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and the American Legion. Other prominent Americans who lent their name to the campaign to protect Gettysburg include Susan Eisenhower, Emmy-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, Medal of Honor recipient Paul W. Bucha, renowned composer John Williams and entertainers Matthew Broderick, Stephen Lang and Sam Waterston. In 2005, citing public outcry, the Gaming Board likewise rejected a plan to construct a casino one mile from the edge of the national park.

Text Source: Civil War Trust

News---Intriguing Civil War Board Game Factors In Lincoln's and Davis' Politics

Lincoln's War, Designer: John Poniske, Artist: Nicolás Eskubi, Publisher: Multi-Man Publishing, 2010, Pre-order price, $60.00, retail order price, $80.00.

Lincoln's War is a CDG that reflects the fickle nature of politics and juggling resources during the American Civil War.

In Lincoln’s War, the battlefield is an extension of the political arena. More than 125 historical movers and shakers support or oppose their presidents’ conduct of the war. Each card's activation number can goose a general into action, or be banked as political currency (PCs), used to promote worthy commanders, purchase war material, force indecisive commanders into action or be translated into direct support for commanders in the field. Overwhelming political support (a decisive point spread between the player’s PC totals) or lack of support (driving an opponent to 0 PCs by the end of a turn) is necessary for victory.

Unique features include an original combat system, seditious characters, immobilization (commander paralysis) rules, blockade rules and Confederate commerce raiding. The combat system does not employ dice, but does require the player to husband resources in the form of enthusiastic political support (ESPs). Seditious characters such as Joseph Brown and Zebulon Vance for the Confederates and Fernando Wood and Clement Vallendigham for the Union oppose their respective administrations. Expect them to steal political support at some time during the game. Immobilization tokens or ITs replace damage tokens in the game. ITs reflect not only casualties but hesitation, confusion, recuperation, perhaps even insubordination.

Lincoln's War is nearly ten years in the making. Of moderate complexity, the entire war can be completed by proficient players in under 3 hours. Win or lose, play-testers inevitably experience a high level of sustained tension. Thanks for visiting. We very much appreciate your interest and your comments.

A card driven Civil War game that is less complex than For the People, but more detailed than the Price of Freedom. The map uses hexes of approximately 70-80-miles across. With exceptions for certain commanders, combat is without dice. To quote the designer:

Lincoln’s War revolves around political influence points which can be used for a variety of purposes. Political influence can be banked, spent on activation, promotion, building naval assets, stockpiling combat resources, or goading a recalcitrant general into action. In the field, combat strength is represented but outranked by the personalities of the generals that command them. As the commander’s fortunes rise and fall so do the fortunes of his army. Some generals are better in the offense, some in the defense, some are completely unpredictable in battle.

Text and Image Source: Lincoln's War webpage

Retail Purchase Website

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

News---Selling the Sesquicentennial to African-Americans

Selling the Civil War to African Americans, David A. Graham, April 12, 2011.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and other activists are trying to invest more black Americans in this year’s Civil War sesquicentennial, in part by stressing that slavery—not states’ rights—was the primary cause of the conflict. David A. Graham reports.

Going to elementary school in Michigan in the 1980s, Geoffrey Blair learned about the Civil War: a story of Lee vs. Grant, North vs. South. He learned about Gettysburg and Vicksburg, Manassas, and Antietam. And he learned that President Lincoln had freed the slaves in the Emancipation Proclamation. But no one ever told him about the nearly 200,000 black soldiers who fought in the war. “I was never taught that blacks actually had a role in the Civil War,” says Blair. “It wasn’t until I had my first college history class that I realized.”

Today he’s president of the 102nd United States Colored Troops, Co. B, a Detroit-based reenacting group that keeps alive memories of those black soldiers without whom, Lincoln once said, the Union couldn’t have won the war. Although the historically liberal 1989 film Glory brought a new awareness of black soldiers to many Americans, “we still do get looks,” says Blair, who portrays a corporal in the unit. “We get questions like, ‘Where do they come from? I didn’t know there was a black regiment that fought in the war.’”

But while Blair’s avocation is unusual, his experience is not. Historians, educators, and politicians worry that many blacks don’t know and don’t care much about the Civil War—even though it’s the pivotal moment in African-American history. So with the sesquicentennial of the Civil War beginning this spring, they’re pushing for ways to make sure the black community is invested in commemorating the war, including a new emphasis on the role of slavery as the primary cause of the war—pushing back Confederate apologists who insist the war was fought over states’ rights.

“I’m for an interpretation of the war that includes more Americans,” says Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who’s been a major driving force of the changes. “The federal government, which draws its strength from having saved the union, is under an obligation to tell a broader story at the battle sites that it has preserved, and that includes an interpretation of American history where people can better understand the causes and effects of the war.”

But it’s a difficult battle, facing obstacles from lack of funding, political opposition, and apathy in the black community. Black indifference to the war is partly a legacy of botched commemorations of the war’s centennial 50 years ago, experts say. With civil-rights battles raging across the South, the federal commission and its state counterparts stuck to discussing bullets, bombs, and battlefields, leaving the thorny question of “why” unanswered. “In a way, the civil-rights movement eclipsed the centennial and was seen by many people as being more relevant than observation and commemoration of military battles,” recalls James McPherson, an eminent Civil War historian at Princeton. “There was an idea that this war was about something that wasn’t really talked about.”

“It wasn’t in any abstract or theoretical sense that African Americans were fighting for freedom—they knew that if they lost, they were still slaves.” That created a chance for two kinds of history to take hold: a slanted version propagated by Confederate apologists who blamed the war on states’ rights rather than conflict over slavery, and a second, more common version that focused excessively on military history while leaving cultural context behind. Both alienated blacks from Civil War history.

Blair, the reenactor, chuckled at predominantly white preservation groups baffled at African-American disinterest in their activities. “I said, the names of your lectures are ‘Forrest: Wizard in the Saddle’ or about Robert E. Lee,” he says, referring to Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest. “What African American is going to want to go to that?”

Jackson is trying to push the nation over these barriers. As a youngish black man from the urban North, even one whose father is a leading civil-rights activist, the Illinois Democrat is an unlikely Civil War buff. He became interested when he toured Southern battlefields in the late 1990s. It was a horror show. He saw dozens of schools and civic buildings named after Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis—men he describes as “the greatest traitors in our nation’s history.” In Appomattox, Virginia, site of Lee’s surrender, a veteran high-school teacher told him how she had taught generations of students that the war wasn’t about slavery, proud of her even-handed but misleading approach.

And when he pressed National Park employees about the lack of context at historic sites, he was dismissed. “I was at a battlefield in Georgia, meeting the park superintendent, who had no idea I was a congressman,” Jackson recalls. “The guy got fairly indignant and said, ‘Well, if you want that changed, you got to go all the way to Congress!’ So I said OK.”

When he returned to Washington, Jackson slipped language into an appropriations bill that mandated that the National Park Service address slavery’s role as the primary cause of the war at relevant sites. NPS Chief Historian Bob Sutton says that’s led to a revolution in how the parks explain the war. But just swapping out the displays at Gettysburg only goes so far. A scant 5 percent of rangers are black, for example, and only six of the NPS’s 74 Civil War sites have black superintendents. And while the park service doesn’t collect statistics on visitor demographics, rangers say it’s not hard to tell that almost all park visitors are white—just look around most parks.

The centennial commission had a wide reach, but lack of funds and lack of organization mean that any Civil War education effort, much less one with a controversial message, will struggle to reach a wide swath of America. With Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, Jackson has proposed a national Civil War sesquicentennial commission, following in the footsteps of the centennial commission, but that bill stalled in the last Congress and hasn’t made any progress in the new term, either. Some states have created commissions to commemorate the war, but they’re often only advisory and are chronically underfunded. Other states, such as Mississippi, don’t even have committees.

But states that do are trying to include African-American stories in their celebrations. Ohio’s sesquicentennial commission is emphasizing the state’s role as a central part of the Underground Railroad. Pennsylvania has made a military training camp for black soldiers a centerpiece. Ed Ayers, a Civil War historian who is president of the University of Richmond, has scheduled historical events at historically black colleges and universities in order to draw in a black audience. And Keith Hardison, director of North Carolina historic sites, says commemorations there are focusing on blacks from the Tar Heel State who fought. “It wasn’t in any abstract or theoretical sense that those African Americans were fighting for freedom—they knew that if they lost, they were still slaves,” he says. “That’s a North Carolina story in the same way as the boys who lined up and put on the gray.”

Meanwhile, the Confederate apologists—though weakened by the passage of time—remain strongly opposed to the new narrative. Although the academic consensus is virtually unanimous in naming slavery as the primary cause of the war, pockets of resistance persist. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, a heritage organization, has been aggressive in promoting its view that the war was fought not over slavery but rather over an unlawful invasion of Southern states. “I don’t think our government wants to face the truth that the war shouldn’t have happened,” says Michael Givens, SCV’s commander in chief. “If they’re just trying to appease the African-American population, it’s not going to do that.”

Within the Civil War history community, Virginia’s Civil War 150 commission is widely seen as the best organized and best funded in the nation, but the state was also recently forced to pulp a fourth-grade textbook that falsely asserted—based on shoddy Internet research—that thousands of blacks fought for the South. That came just months after the state’s governor proclaimed Confederate History Month and was then forced to reverse his move. And Mississippi is embroiled in a controversy over proposed license plates honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Even against a challenging backdrop, the revisionist camp represented by Jackson and others is optimistic. Many in the current generation of Civil War buffs credit the centennial with awakening an interest in the war, so the four years of sesquicentennial are the best chance they’ll have to make a major impression. “I want people’s understanding of American history to be transformed, for this to be the culmination of changing perceptions that began with the civil-rights movement,” Ayers says. “If it’s not a profound turning point in our history, we will have failed our own time.”

Text and Image Source: The Daily Beast April 12, 2011

Sequicentennial News---No Plans for 150th Anniversary Reenactment of Antietam

No Large-Scale Battle Of Antietam Re-Enactment Plans For Sesquicentennial, Heather Kells, Hagerstown Hearld-Mail, Arpril 9, 2011.

Hearld-Mail Editor's note: It has been 150 years since the first shot of the Civil War was fired at Fort Sumter, S.C. In observance of the beginning of hostilities on April 12, 1861, The Herald-Mail has prepared a package of stories about how that conflict affected those who lived in the Tri-State area during those times. The first stories are being published today and Monday. The package will culminate with a special section in Tuesday's newspaper. Is it possible the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam could come and go next year without the thunder of hoofbeats, clank of bayonets and the sights of thousands of re-enactors in blue and gray marching through Washington County fields?

Not only possible, but likely, according to local historian Dennis Frye, who said he had not heard of any large-scale Battle of Antietam re-enactment plans for the battle's sesquicentennial in September 2012. Frye said he did not anticipate anything on the scale of the public re-enactments that were staged in 1997 and 2002, which each attracted about 13,000 re-enactors and as many as 100,000 spectators. "If anybody wanted to do something at Antietam in 2012, they're already way behind," he said.

Planning for the 1997 and 2002 re-enactments began about two and a half years before each event, he said. Frye, now chief historian at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, chaired those two re-enactments, which were nonprofit events coordinated by the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites in 1997 and the Antietam Commemoration Committee in 2002. Thomas B. Riford, president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Liz Shatto, director of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, said they had not heard of any public re-enactments planned for Antietam in 2012.

"We are putting more emphasis in general on emphasizing the product that's available 365 days a year, rather than putting a lot of effort into sort of a one-time, big blowout event," Shatto said. "But if a partner organization came forward and had the wherewithall and the interest, we certainly would do what we could to make their project known."

One obstacle to staging a re-enactment today is finding suitable land for it, Frye said. National Park Service policy prohibits re-enactment on the battlefields themselves, and much of the nearby farmland used for the 1997 and 2002 re-enactments has since been developed. "Our bloody lane battlefield is now a data processing center, and the union campground is now a satellite facility," Frye said.

Staging a large-scale re-enactment requires an "enormous" amount of land with space for not only battles, but encampments, parking and support services such as food and toilets, he said. The 1997 and 2002 re-enactments used nearly 1,000 acres of land on Rench Road, south of Hagerstown. "It would be a real challenge to find a large property in Washington County of 1,000 acres that has very good access to the interstate and could facilitate all of the logistical requirements of a massive public re-enactment," Frye said.

The National Park Service prohibition against re-enacting on battlefields was put into effect in 1962 after a 100th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Antietam because of the amount of damage the event caused on the historic land, Frye said. "Basically all battlefields are cemeteries without stones, so the National Park Service believes they're sacred ground — hallowed ground — and that they should be commemorated, but not re-enacted upon," he said.

Another obstacle to re-enactments is their cost, according to Thomas Clemens, a history and political science professor at Hagerstown Community College. "It counts on someone talking a financial risk because you put a lot of money in up front and if bad weather or anything else happens, then you lose a lot of money," he said. "There's nobody interested in sticking out their neck these days." Clemens said he thought cultural factors had also played a role in curbing some of the enthusiasm for re-enactments.

"Re-enactors are, from my experience, aging, like the rest of the population, and you don't see nearly as many young people as you did, even in the 90s and early 2000s," he said. "I think that there's just sort of a change in culture to some extent." Amid a shifting political climate, the attractiveness of Civil War re-enacting is becoming more controversial, Clemens said, citing a column last spring in which writer Leonard Pitts criticized Confederate "apologists and battle flag fetishists" for sweeping the issue of slavery under the rug with "heritage not hate" rhetoric.

"The idea of the Confederacy as a defender of slavery is becoming much more of an inflammatory issue than it was eight, 10 years ago," Clemens said. "I don't think that's a big factor in the lack of re-enactments, but it's another thing to keep in mind. People are just a little more politicized about it than they used to be."

Text Source: Hagerstown Hearld-Mail, April 9 2011

Top Image Source: Capitol Hill CWRT
Middle Image Source: The Donovan
Bottom Image Source: 4th Michigan

Sesquicentennial News---- 4:30a April 12, 2011 Charleston Harbor, SC

The lights shine at Fort Sumter at 4:30 a.m. EDT to commemorate the moment the first shots of the Civil War were fired in Charleston, S.C. on Tuesday, April 12, 2011. The South Carolina ceremony Tuesday begins the four-year national commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Cannon blasts from Fort Johnson across Charleston Harbor toward Fort Sumter at daybreak signaled the commemoration of the start of the Civil War 150 years ago, Tuesday, April 12, 2011 in Charleston, S.C.

Fort Sumter, viewed from Fort Johnoson on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired 150 years ago in Charleston, S.C.

Text and Image Source: Kansas City Star, April 12, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sesquicentennial News---Democrat and Buchannan's Attorney General, Stanton Predicts Wartime Prosperity

The Open Salvos Fired In A Great Calamity, Len Barcousky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 12, 2011.

The following is an excerpt. Stanton, out of government following the Republican takeover of the White House, had no more illusions about what would follow. "It is now certain that we are about to be engaged in a general civil war between the Northern & Southern states," Stanton wrote to Hutchison on April 15, 1861. "Every one will regret this as a great calamity to the human race."

With Virginia and "probably" Maryland likely to join the Confederate states, Washington, sharing borders with both, was vulnerable to Southern occupation, he wrote. "The government will of course strive to protect it but whether successfully or not is perhaps doubtful," he admitted.

"Many persons are preparing to remove from here," he told Hutchison. "I shall remain, and take the chances, feeling a firm faith in the final result ... and willing to encounter its risks." A practical man, Stanton advised his brother-in-law that war, especially conflict in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, was likely to be good for local business. "The manufacturing interests of Pittsburgh will I think receive a strong impulse," he predicted.

He was right. During the next four years, Pittsburgh and Allegheny County provided heavy arms and ammunition, as well as thousands of volunteers, for Union forces. Although a longtime Democrat, Stanton became an adviser to Lincoln and then in 1862 his secretary of war. He was present when Lincoln died on April 15, 1865, the morning after he was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater. "Now he belongs to the ages," a tearful Stanton said.

Text and Image Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 12 2011

Sesquicentennial News---A Democrat, Edwin M. Stanton Predicted Peace, Got War

The Open Salvos Fired In A Great Calamity, Len Barcousky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 12, 2011.

While lawyers are encouraged to anticipate the worst thing that can happen, U.S. Attorney General Edwin M. Stanton in January 1861 was optimistic about a peaceful resolution of differences between Northern and Southern states.

"I have never doubted that we should in the end pass safely through the present troubles," he wrote to his brother-in-law, James Adam Hutchison Jr., in a letter dated Jan. 15, 1861. Stanton's letter to Hutchison, a Pittsburgh lawyer, is in a collection of family correspondence and photographs in the archives at the Heinz History Center.

That correspondence offers a glimpse into the life and thinking of a man who would become a member of Abraham Lincoln's Cabinet and one of his closest advisers during the Civil War. The conflict began 150 years ago today with the Confederate shelling of Fort Sumter.

Stanton, who grew up in Steubenville, attended Kenyon College, studied law and began his professional career in his native Ohio. In 1847 he relocated to the booming industrial city of Pittsburgh. His first wife, Mary, had died in 1841 while he was still building his Ohio law practice. Following a two-year courtship, he married Ellen Hutchison in 1856. Sixteen years younger than her new husband, she came from a wealthy and socially prominent Pittsburgh family.

After Stanton and his family moved to Washington, D.C., he maintained close ties to his wife's Pittsburgh relatives, keeping in touch via letters to various family members. The material dealing with Stanton and the Hutchison family was donated to the history center in 2001 by Terry H. Wells, of Evanston, Ill., a descendant of the Hutchison family. While James Adam Hutchison moved to Chicago after the Civil War, family members maintained their links to Allegheny County, according to David Grinnell, chief archivist at the history center. Many are buried in Pittsburgh's Homewood Cemetery.

Stanton usually wrote in a firm hand, using dark ink on fine paper that has deteriorated little in the past century and a half. It is, nevertheless, occasionally difficult to make out some of his words. Mr. Grinnell, chief librarian Art Louderback and archivist Susan Melnick all gathered around to help transcribe one of Stanton's letters last week.

An anti-slavery Democrat, Stanton became U.S. attorney general during the final months of the disastrous administration of President James Buchanan. While sympathetic to the "South" and its "Peculiar Institution," as slavery was sometimes called, Buchanan believed that secession was illegal. Unfortunately, he also believed there was nothing he could do as president to stop states from breaking up the union.

Historians credit Stanton with stiffening Buchanan's spine during the period between the election of Lincoln in November 1860 and his inauguration the following March.

Above are excerpts. To read the complete story go this webpage at Post-Gazette.com

Text and Image Source:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 12, 2011

Caption: The letter from Edwin M. Stanton to his brother-in-law, dated April 15, 1861: "It is now certain that we are about to be engaged in a general civil war between the Northern & Southern states. Every one will regret this as a great calamity to the human race," Stanton wrote.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

New and Noteworthy: Battles and Campaigns in Mississippi

The Civil War in Mississippi: Major Campaigns and Battles, Michael B. Ballard, University Press of Mississippi, hardback, $40.00

The Civil War in Mississippi : Major Campaigns and Battles from the University Press of Mississippi is the first volume ever published that is dedicated exclusively to the story of major Civil War campaigns and battles in Mississippi. Author Michael Ballard takes readers on a chronological journey through Mississippi ’s Civil War. From the first Union attack on Vicksburg in the spring of 1862 through Benjamin Grierson’s second and last raid through Mississippi in late 1864 and on through early 1865, this book traces the campaigns, fighting, and causes and effects of Mississippi ’s Civil War.

The Civil War in Mississippi begins with a prologue covering military and other events in the state leading up to the first military action within the state’s borders. The book then covers in detail all of the major military operations that took place in Mississippi , including the campaign for and siege of Vicksburg , and battles at Iuka and Corinth , Meridian , Brice’s Crossroads, and Tupelo .

The colorful cast of characters present here includes such household names as Sherman, Grant, Pemberton, and Forrest, as well as a host of other commanders and soldiers. Minority troops and others generally forgotten in studies of the Mississippi military during the war are also discussed at length.

The Civil War in Mississippi will delight any Mississippian or Civil War buff who wants the complete story of the military history of the Civil War in Mississippi. Michael B. Ballard is author of Civil War Mississippi: A Guide and many other books. He is a professor and University Archivist and Coordinator of the Congressional and Political Research Center at Mississippi State University Libraries. He is also associate editor of the Grant Papers from the Ulysses S. Grant Association. He lives in Ackerman, Mississippi.

Text Source: book's webpage University of Mississippi Press

New and Noted by H-CivWar: The 4th Michigan Regiment, The Mechanical Fuze, and the Prairie Grove Campaign

The 4th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War, Bertera, Martin N.; Crawford, Kim.. Michigan State University Press, 2010, 560 pp., $44.95.

H-CivWar reviews summarizes the book as haveing a strong narrative about the 4th Michigan from 1861 to 1866. The authors are is successful in their goal of presenting the 4th Michigan through the words of the regiment's troops and thereby humanizing the regiment. At times though some paragraphs lack focus and the editing appears inconsistent.

H-Net link: Fourth Michigan Reviewed for H-CivWar by Mike Burns

The Mechanical Fuze and the Advance of Artillery in the Civil War, McCaul Jr, Edward B., McFarland Publishing, 2010, 227 pp. $35.00.

H-CivWar finds the tht author provides a thoughful monograph that covers an often overlooked subject. The work is successfull in providing clear descriptions of complex devices. The books holds the reader's interest in an inanimate object by providing the human element of inventors and their fortunes. Yet further editing would have been helpful and the latest secondary sources should have been added.

H-Net link: The Mechanical Fuze Reviewed for H-CivWar by Justin Solonick

Fields of Blood: The Prairie Grove Campaign, Shea, William L., University of North Carolina Press, 2009, 358 pp. $35.00.

H-CivWar states that the author has produced a compelling narrative of a campaign that is important but has not received its full due. The author is not excessively analytical nor indavertetnly noncommittal. The participants have a free hand to critique the campaign for themselves. The book is a sound and thorough study and may well serve as a benchmark on the Prairie Grove campaign.

H-Net link: Fields of Blood Reviewed for H-CivWar by Gary Edwards

Monday, April 04, 2011

Off Topic----True Crime: 11 Murders, 1 Body, A Civil War Reenactor And An Imprisoned Informant

In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption by James Keene and Hillel Levin, St. Martin's Press, 272 pages, hardcover $25.99, unabridged audiobook $29.99, [September 2010].

Throughout the 1990s Jimmy Keene was living the two dreams. The first dream was to win football,wrestling and martial arts championships, have rich friends and get an offer from film director Martin Scorsese to take a screen test. The second was a drug dealer's dream: trusted by suppliers, rolling in cash, and aided by loyal friends. A policeman/fireman's son, Keene, financed his father's many failing businesses. He was informed upon by a very close friend since high school, one whom he had saved from a very violent death in Mexico.

Betrayed, he was sentenced for ten years in a mazimum security prison. Just short of his first year in prison, the prosector who put him there, offered a deal: shave years off his sentence in exchange for moving into a high security psychiatric prison and buddy up to a serial killer. If Keene could get confessions and body locations from the killer, then Keene would be back on the street.

In with the Devil: A Fallen Hero, a Serial Killer, and a Dangerous Bargain for Redemption reads as a true crime story and as a mystery novel. Much of the book relates Keene's story in Keene's words. Hillel Levin, Keene's coauthor, dramatize events at which Keene was not present. Harrowing on several levels, In With the Devil is reminescent of Midnight Express, Billy Hayes' story of his sojourn in a Turkish prison. There are no easy 'outs' in the story and there is some graphic violence.

Keene and Levin present as much as can be known about Larry Hall, the serial killer who is a twin. With a very harsh upbringing, Larry is not sociable and as comfortable with girls has his brother. The first jolt is that the killer becomes is a Civil War reenactor in an Indiana regiment and presents it as an albi. The killer's biography gets more grounded the mundane details of encampments, class street rod detailing, and janitorial work. In With The Devil is a work of many facets: the business of drug dealing, life in prisons, criminal psychology, and the court system. In With The Devil is not a plotted novel. It is a true story of tragedy and grief, evil and redemption.

The In With The Devil website has images of the reenactor as well as other characters in the book.