Thursday, June 30, 2011

New and Noteworthy---The Battle of South Mountain: Lee, McClellan And The Men Who Died For Them

The Battle of South Mountain, John Hoptak, The History Press, 222 pp., maps, illustrations, order of battle, notes, bibliography, index, 2010, $21.99.

The History Press is causing a stir with its clear, concise, accurate, well illustrated and mapped, and well designed Civil War Sesquicentennial Series. Indicative of the series is its newest addition: The Battle of South Mountain by John Hoptak. In the preface, the author recognizes John Michael Priest's Before Antietam: the Battle of South Mountain and others of being the giants upon whose shoulders upon which his own work stands. And a remarkable work it is.

Within the confines of 222 pages, Hoptak and the History Press have produced an exemplary work with seven fine maps and 50 period illustrations and photographs. Hoptak's five chapters are focused and have a fine degree of clarity. Lee's decision to drive North and McClellan's state of mind after Second Manassas are aptly described. The marches of both armies to South Mountain are presented with close attention to the men in the ranks. The combat is fully covered at each of the gaps in South Mountain. Fortunately, in a single chapter Hoptak tells the entire story of the fights at each gap. Taking the reader back and forth between the gaps would be confusing. Crampton's Gap, Fox's Gap, Turner's and Frostown Gaps, each have their own chapters, combatants, and topography. Hoptak organization creates a fullness in his story telling and even lends itself to building suspense.

Hotpak's use of biography is attractive. Clear and pertinent descriptions of many of the commanders are everywhere present in the book. Extensive, dramatic and effective quotations from both commissioned officers and enlistment men are frequently provided. Hoptak does not ignore the cavalry but puts them on the field. The reader may compare the similarities of Confederate cavalry commander Jeb Stuart's conduct at South Mountain and the Gettysburg Campaign and conclude that he did indeed have his bad days.

The work leaves the reader with questions of contingency. Jesse Reno, commander of the Federal Ninth Corps was killed at Fox's Gap on September 14. What if Jesse Reno had been in command at Burnside's Bridge on the 17th? Hoptak sides with Joseph Harsh, author of Sounding the Shallows: A Confederate Companion for the Maryland Campaign of 1862 , in that at Crampton's Gap on South Mountain, the Army of Northern Virgina suffered one of its worst defeats. What if the Federal Sixth Corps had on September 15th stormed into Pleasant Valley and trapped McLaws Division? Hoptak refrains from speculation and encourages readers to ponder the situations.

With such a geographically concentrated event and with four gaps, nine relevant towns and eight roads, readers would have been aided by at least the first map being to a measurable scale or with distances between locations written on it. Additionally a topographic map showing the steepness of the path which attackers faced would be helpful. Also, readers may have been aided if muster numbers had been included in the Order of Battle and possibly if the order of battle had been organized with forces attacking the gaps and the forces defending the gaps on the same page.

Such small discomforts do not detract from the overall usefulness and enjoyment that The Battle of South Mountain by John Hoptak offers the reader. Certainly anyone who is traveling to the Antietam National Battlefield Park, the Harper's Ferry National Park or Maryland's South Mountain Civil War Trails, will find Hoptak's book essential to their understanding of the Maryland Campaign.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New and Noteworthy---The Flames Beyond Gettysburg And The Path To See Them

Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Confederate Expedition To The Susquehanna River, June 1863, Scott L. Mingus, Sr., Savas Beatie LLC, 396 pp, footnotes, appendices, bibliography, order of battle, $18.95.

First, it must be noted that this book is not the 2009 Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Gordon Expedition June 1863 offered by Ironclad Publishing. Yes, it has nearly the same title by the same author but, the 2009 edition is pale compared to the 2011 edition offered by Savas Beatie LLC.

The author reports that responses to the 2009 edition came from the readers in Adams, York, Lancaster and Dauphin Counties. They provided many primary sources that were unavailable to the author while writing in 2008. Having read the 2009 edition, CWL recognizes that indeed Mingus has written a new book, with a stronger narrative style, a greater wealth of sources, better maps, and a certain organization creates both depth and breath in the story.

From Lee's invasion plans through Gordon's withdrawal from Wrightsville, Mingus is in command of the story. There is a fine balance here between the dramatic personalities of the generals and the equally dramatic challenges met by the infantry and cavalry on the march. Civilian stories match the military adventures. The Epilogue covers fascinating material that relates what occurred after the war. Confederates such as Clement A. Evans, colonel of 31st Georgia, and Elijah White, lieutenant colonel of the 35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry are emblematic of Confederate veterans after the war. The stories of the Columbia Bridge and Hanover Junction after the Confederate withdrawal are compelling. Certainly Flames Beyond Gettysburg is a military story but the civilian story matches it page for page.

Key Confederate strategic decisions are presented as well as the responses of the Pennsylvania militia and the civilians in the path of the Confederates. The decision by Pennsylvania Militia to burn the Columbia Bridge is presented the light of military necessities and civilians' discomforts. Mingus's study includes appendices on casualties, weather, chronology, and driving tours. The tours include the Confederate route of march from Maryland; the June 26 skirmish at Gettysburg and the fight at the Witmer Farm; Lt. Col. Elijah V. White's cavalry raids on Point-of-Rocks and Hanover Junction; Gordon's triumphal march through York; the skirmish at Wrightsville; and the bridge burning.

Not only is the 2011 edition superior to the 2009 edition because it is based upon extensive primary source material. The reworking features much better and original maps by cartographer Steven Stanley. Ten maps are included and satisfactory but CWL, the map lover, would have appreciated maps of the counties of York, Lancaster and Dauphin. Scott L. Mingus, Sr. is a resident of the region in which Flames Beyond Gettysburg is set. This is distinctly an advantage for the reader. In the text the author is clearly on the ground and describes what he sees. There is an incomparable freshness in the narrative because Mingus has walked on the footpaths of the story.

News---Que: Do They Reenact The Civil War In Oregon? If So, Why? Ans: The Right To Be Educated.

Civil War Re-Enactors: The Battles Are Only Part Of The Experience, Jennifer Willis, The Oregonian Friday, June 24, 2011, and updated: Tuesday, June 28, 2011.

When the smoke clears, there aren't any Yankees or Rebels, but rather re-enactors gathered together by their passion about the Civil War.
For Oregonians, the words Civil War more often conjure up colors of yellow and green or orange and black than blue and gray. But as the U.S. observes the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War (1861-1865), hundreds of hardy Northwest souls pull on wool uniforms and fill paper cartridges with gunpowder to re-enact the battles and daily life of the War Between the States.

In May, the Mount Pisgah Battle Reenactment and Living History event at Howard Buford Park in Eugene drew hundreds of re-enactors and nearly as many spectators. One-thousand re-enactors are expected July 2-4 at the 21st annual Civil War re-enactment at Willamette Mission State Park north of Keizer. "Some members of the public might stay away because they just see these re-enactors as fanatics," said Robert Harrison, who teaches Civil War history at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany and accompanied students to the Mount Pisgah event. "It's not really about living out a fantasy that maybe the South could have won. It's about teaching the public the material details of Civil War life."

Whether they're Yankees or Rebels, re-enactors spend countless hours researching everything from military maneuvers and rifled muskets to hoop skirts and 19th-century cooking. "Their basic mission is to honor the people who fought and suffered on both sides," Harrison said. "My friends think the whole thing is very odd, and they make fun of me constantly," said re-enactor Jemima Bentley, in the Confederate Camp at Mount Pisgah. She caught the re-enacting bug after taking Harrison's class.

"I don't really mind, since it sounds pretty odd to a lot of people. (But) my family thinks it's great." The 20-year-old decided against portraying a civilian woman, "because, honestly, they spent a lot of time washing and baking corn bread, and I figured I can do that at home. I like being a soldier. I don't get to do this anywhere else."

Re-enacted battles like Mount Pisgah's aren't based on actual combat events, and they have pre-determined outcomes: The South won in the morning, the Union prevailed in the afternoon. "The re-enactments ... sort of bring to life some of the things that I talk about in class," Harrison said. "If I do a lecture on the Battle of Gettysburg, then I take the students to a Civil War re-enactment. They can see what it means for a group of soldiers to move to a certain area. They didn't just march. It was difficult. They had to train even to walk in formation."

Spectators witnessed real battlefield maneuvers and got a sense of just how much noise and smoke there was 150 years ago. "We have many descriptions from soldiers of how they couldn't see much during a battle," Harrison said. "It was all chaotic."

Re-enactments aren't all cannons and gunpowder. They also give a glimpse into daily life for civilians and soldiers during the war. Spectators are encouraged to visit the camps -- Union, Confederate and civilian -- for demonstrations of period dress, food and medicine, to meet the cavalry and their horses and to strike up conversations with in-character re-enactors.

Re-enactments aren't just about the battles, but about what it was like in the 1860s as well, where the homemade banjo would have been at home, but not so much the folding chair. The Mount Pisgah event was the first for re-enactor Mike Johnson of Lebanon. He signed with the 116th Pennsylvania on the Union side because his daughter's teacher is also a member.

"I wanted to charge into it full-tilt years ago, but just never had the time, money and organization," said Johnson, outfitted in a borrowed uniform. "I have just always loved history. (But) people definitely look at you sideways when you say, 'I'm going to a Civil War re-enactment.'"

Johnson enjoyed participating at a more casual level as an anonymous Union private, while others invest more time and effort to portray specific historic figures. After his first battle, however, Johnson already planned to ask for time off from work for re-enactment events through the rest of this year. Linn-Benton Community College professor of history Robert Harrison recommends searching online for Union and Confederate reenactment units and visiting the Northwest Civil War Council website ( Or, show up at a re-enactment event and ask re-enactors how they got started.

If you're a new soldier on the re-enactment battlefield and you're not sure where and when to "die," Confederate re-enactor Jemima Bentley advises taking a dive as soon as you're out of ammunition. On hot days, Harrison recommends picking a shady spot under a tree for your last breaths.He estimated he can outfit himself with boots, jacket, hat and pants for about $300 -- more if he wants his own tent and camp cookware.

After using loaner gear for several events, new re-enactors are expected to pick a side and start assembling their own kits -- whether it's authentic Civil War gear, new replicas or used items bought from other re-enactors. "The best way to find (gear) is to talk to other re-enactors and see if they have stuff that they don't want," Bentley advised in the Confederate camp. "Re-enactors are always retiring and new people are always joining up."

Spectator Timothy Carruthers of Salem was content to remain on the battlefield's sidelines. A U.S. Army veteran formerly stationed in the Kunar Valley in Afghanistan, he's seen the real thing -- and thinks Civil War soldiers had it worse. "It was pretty intense there. It's not a safe place where you're free to do anything you want," Carruthers said of his experience with the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, N.Y., then gestured toward the re-enactment battlefield. "But this is like ridiculously scary! Charging at the enemy while they're shooting from behind trees and stuff? It would scare me to fight like this."

Carruthers said he's always been interested in the Civil War and has been to several re-enactments. "It's just more personal when you actually see what it's like. ... It's an interesting and very unfortunate event in American history, but I enjoy learning about it." "We all firmly believe that history repeats itself if you don't pay attention," said Chris Gattman, 1st Lieutenant in the 4th Texas Cavalry re-enactment unit. "Most of the people (at the time of the Civil War) got their education from church. In the South, it's pretty easy to defend slavery out of the Bible. All you have to do is quote Ephesians (6:5): 'Slaves obey your masters.' For somebody who doesn't really have too advanced of an education, that's telling you how to live your life right there."

"I can see where the national fervor would have driven a lot of Southern people who had no stake in slavery whatsoever to join up," another 4th Texan, John Kirkpatrick, chimed in, noting that most Confederate soldiers weren't slave owners. "They didn't want to be called a traitor or a coward. And off they went."

"It's very easy for you to join to fight a war because your neighbor did," added Gattman. Re-enactors live in their tents during reenactment events, but not everything in the camp is authentic to the period. Bentley admitted to keeping a cell phone in her tent and said her eyeglasses aren't exactly up to 19th-century specs. "A lot of people are surprised by how invested in it a lot of re-enactors are," she said. "There are people who will just sort of sit down and talk about modern-day things, cell phones, stuff like that. Then there are re-enactors who will stay completely and utterly in persona, and just speak like they're living in 1863."

"We've just got a lot of really intelligent people here," Kirkpatrick explained, describing re-enactors' campfire discussions about Greek, Roman and European history and strategies of warfare. "I think the intellectual climate (in Oregon) lends itself to people that would go to all this trouble and invest all this time and money just to come out and pretend to be something 150 years ago."

North and South combined, the Civil War claimed the lives of more than 600,000 American soldiers -- 2 percent of the population. Troops in Oregon guarded forts, travel routes and reservations, but they were thousands of miles away from the war's more than 10,000 combat engagements, most of which took place in Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri. Naturally, Civil War re-enacting isn't as common or well-attended in the Pacific Northwest as is it on the East Coast. So, why re-enact the Civil War in Oregon? "Because a 10-year-old in Oregon has as much right to understand it as a 10-year-old in Mississippi," Gattman said. "(People) appreciate better once they've been to a re-enactment the suffering that went on during the war, the anguish and just the sheer determination of both sides to fight. What it cost people on both sides," Harrison said. "It just reinforces the idea that this was our huge epic war, here in this country."

Text and Image Source: The Oregonian

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New and Noteworthy: Bloodied And Unbowed---Army of the Potomac's Second Corps

Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, Lawrence A. Kreiser, Jr., Indiana University Press, 2011,388 pp., appendices, bibliography, notes, index, maps, illustrations, $34.95.

In the American Civil War, an integral role was played by the Army of the Potomac. One of the cornerstones of this army was the Second Army Corps. Lawrence Kreiser tells the Second Corps' story with verve and attention to personal as well as bureaucratic details. The author's study grapples with whether the Second Corps "is a sample providing insight into the rest of the Union army or a subject with its won distinct history." To the author's credit both offers both insight into the commonality of Union soldiers and the uncommon story of a corps that fought from the Peninsula to Appomattox.

Kreiser breaks the four parts.: 1. the organization and first experience of combat [the Peninsula and Maryland campaigns], 2. the consolidation of the corps leadership and its immersion into combat [Fredericksburg through Mine Run campaigns], 3. the shredding and rebuilding [Overland, Petersburg, and Appomattox campaigns, 4. the remembering and memorializing of the corps [the Grand Review through the Grand Army of the Republic associations and the publication in 1887 of the Second Corps' history by former staff officer Francis Walker who died in 1897].

Four of ten Second Corps soldiers became casualties during the war, the highest numerical losses of any Federal corps. Kreiser explains how paid the men paid such a high price for their service. Soldiers' motivation changed over time; leadership was developed then lost in battle and then developed again. The author at times takes an analytical approach to understanding the corps' story from its creation to the efforts of its veterans. At other times, he presents the lives of the soldiers in the words of the soldiers and their families.

Kreiser adequately handles the movement within the high command of the army from brigade and division organization in 1861 to division and corps organization in 1862. By early 1863, the corps had earned the reputation of solid endurance, faithful obedience, and for hard marching and fighting. By the Gettysburg Campaign, it along with the First Corps was the backbone of the Army of the Potomac. After the destruction of the First Corps on July 1, the Second and Fifth Corps became the spine of the army.

In Defeating Lee Kreiser places the battles along side national and army politics. The replacement of enlisted men and commissioned officers is a constant dilemma for the corps throughout the war. The impact of both battlefield casualties and the attempt to raise new regiments with little regard for veteran units is both a moral and administrative issue. The enlistments of 1864 create a constant change in brigade and division level cohesion and effectiveness.

Though Winfield Scott Hancock is on the cover, Defeating Lee is not just his story. There are a great deal of admirable leaders at the regimental, brigade and division level that allows Hancock to succeed at corps command. Notably, the book does not end at Appomattox or the Grand Review. Kreiser continues the story of how the commanders angled for opportunities to tell the war from their point of view.All in all, Kreiser pays close attention to Francis Walker's 1887 history and both expands and corrects it. Hopefully, other corps histories will be told with the attention to detail, argument, and context that Kreisler has given to the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac.

In a query to the author, CWL learned that Unfurl Those Colors: McClellan, Sumner, and the Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign by Marion V. Armstrong does not appear in the bibliography because Defeating Lee had been accepted by the publisher, edited and scheduled to be printed when Unfurl Those Colors was release in spring 2008.

Monday, June 27, 2011

News---CSS Hunley Turned Upright From 45 Degree Angle, Now Unseen Side Revealed

Confederate Sub Upright For First Time Since 1864, Bruce Smith, Associated Press, June 24, 2011.

The first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship is upright for the first time in almost 150 years, revealing a side of its hull not seen since it sank off the South Carolina coast during the Civil War. Workers at a conservation lab finished the painstaking, two-day job of rotating the hand-cranked H.L. Hunley upright late Thursday.

The Hunley was resting on its side at a 45-degree angle on the bottom of the Atlantic when it was raised in August 2000 and scientists had kept it in slings in that position in the lab for the past 11 years. But they needed to turn it upright to continue with the job of conservation. Scientists hope the hidden side of the sub will provide clues as to why the Hunley sank with its eight-member crew in February, 1864, after sending the Union blockade ship Houstonic to the bottom. While there was no immediate clue from a first look at the hidden hull but "we are seeing some tantalizing clues on that side," Hunley archaeologist Maria Jacobsen said Friday.

Scientists knew there were large hull breaches on the starboard side that remained out of view all these years. Jacobsen said the area around the holes is smooth, as the sediment that has hardened on the hull was blasted away. It's not clear whether the breaches are manmade — caused by an explosion or the like — or simply caused by nature. She said it likely could have been scoured away by water and tides. "We may be dealing with nature here. How can these massive hull breaches occur?" she asked.

"Nothing jumps out at me" from seeing the starboard side, said state Sen. Glenn McConnell, the chairman of the South Carolina Hunley Commission. "But we will be examining it for any clue that might be there to help us solve the mystery." There are various theories why the sub sank. It could have been damaged by fire from the Housatonic or the sub's crew was knocked out by the concussion from the blast that sank that ship. Or it could have been damaged by another Union vessel rescuing the Housatonic. Studies show the crew died of a lack of oxygen and didn't drown. The remains of the crew, who were buried in 2004, were found at their stations and there seemed no rush to the escape hatch. McConnell said seeing the submarine upright brings it alive. "Instead of looking like an artifact, it now looks like a stealth weapon," he said.

"It's as if you are looking at the submarine for the first time," agreed conservator Paul Mardikian. "Before it was more like a mass of inert metal. Now it looks like something that had a life." The next step in conserving the Hunley comes next week when it will be lowered onto keel blocks to hold it upright. It will probably be a month before a truss and the slings that suspended the sub from it will be removed, providing an even better view of the submarine.

The delicate process of righting the sub involved rotating it between 800 and 1,000 millimeters. A team of workers adjusted the slings by 2 millimeter increments during the two days the job took. "It went better than it had any right to do," said Mike Drews, the director of the conservation center. "Knowing there were unknowns, we always erred on the side of caution."

Text and Top Image Source: Associated Press, June 24, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

News---In The Future, What Will Be New About The Civil War?

The Future of Civil War History: New Methods and Frameworks for Understanding March 30-31, 2012, Conference at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey

The History and Culture Program at the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies, Drew University, is pleased to announce a two-day conference exploring the present state and future potential of Civil War and Reconstruction-era studies.
Possible topics include digital humanities and Civil War study, digitization initiatives, transnational perspectives, memory and contemporary American culture, pedagogy and the contemporary Civil War classroom, emerging trends in the public history of the war, borderlands and peripheries, challenging existing narratives and interpretations, the war in the context of contemporary conflict studies and domestic security concerns, leadership studies, science and technology, civilian involvement, medicine, food, environment, manufacturing, and infrastructure, and new perspectives on gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, and the role of the state. The conference aims to engage multiple disciplinary perspectives including history, African American studies, American Studies, literary studies, archival and digital studies, archeology and anthropology, museum studies, political science and more.

Graduate students, faculty, educators, and public scholars interested in proposing single presentations or whole panels should send a 250-word abstract (for panels: each paper and the panel as a whole) and a separate 2-page CV in .doc, .docx, or .pdf format to by no later than August 15, 2011. Questions may be addressed to:

Justin Causey, Student conference convener,
C. Wyatt Evans, Associate Professor and Director, History and Culture Graduate Program

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Off Topic---Classic Detective Fiction: A Drop Of The Hard Stuff, Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder

A Drop of the Hard Stuff, Lawrence Block, Mulholland Books Inc., May 2011, 338 pages, $25.99.

Lawrence Block is an contemporary American crime writer who is known worldwide. He is best known for two long-running about the recovering alcoholic P.I. Matthew Scudder and gentleman burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, respectively. Both series are set in New York City. Block received the Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America award in 1993.

Block's most famous creation is Matthew Scudder, was introduced in 1976's The Sins of the Fathers as an alcoholic ex-cop working as an unlicensed private investigator in NYC' Irish neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen. the second and third entries—In the Midst of Death (1976), Time to Murder and Create (1977) and A Stab in the Dark 91981). All four were originally published as paperbacks without hardcover editions.

In 1982's Eight Million Ways to Die was the first hardcover in the Scudder series. The novel concludes with Scudder introducing himself at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Blocked considered the series at an end. A promise Block made to publisher to produce a short resulted in "By the Dawn's Early Light", a story set during Scudder's drinking days; the short story is told from the perspective of a recovering alcoholic which lead to the next novel in the series.

Block tell Scudder's movement from becoming an alcoholic to becoming a recovering alcoholic in 1986's When the Sacred Ginmill Closes, a title borrowed from Dave Van Ronk's lyrics. It was this novel that gave Block and Scudder a much wider audience, especially among those who enjoy a more literary story. From then on, Scudder's circumstances rarely remain the same from one book to the next; 1990's A Ticket to the Boneyard, for example, reunites him with a hooker from his days on the force, whom he marries several books later.

Other high points are 1991's taut, gruesome A Dance at the Slaughterhouse that won Edgar award for best Mystery Novel. In 1993's A Long Line of Dead Men, an ingeniously-plotted puzzler featuring a rapidly dwindling fraternity known as the "Club of 31." The sixteenth in the series, All the Flowers Are Dying, was published 2005 was grim and bleak. One could image that the series was over. But the seventeenth Scudder novel, A Drop of the Hard Stuff is here.

Set soon after Scudder abruptly retires from the detective bureau, he is facing his alcoholism. Then he runs into "High-Low" Jack Ellery, a childhood friend from the Bronx and they view each other as two sides of the same coin: Scudder solves crimes Ellery commits them. In Scudder, Ellery sees an honest man; in Ellery, Scudder sees a recovering alcoholic. Then Ellery is murdered. With no family and with a criminal past, Ellery's murder isn't a pressing issue for the NYC PD. Scudder has only one lead, a list of list of people Ellery abused. Themes lost loves, missed opportunities, and avoiding tough choices reoccur from the series.

CWL has read the entire series twice. The series is on both the bookshelf and in the Kindle. The plots are the transmission, the style is the style is the engine, and the character is the driver. CWL imagines a third reading of the series in the distant future right along with third readings Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ross McDonald and The King James Version of the Bible.

News---Frederick Douglas and Confederate Veterans Share Maryland Courthouse Lawn

Douglass Statue Welcomed Home, Downtown Easton Fills With Proud Celebrants Of Douglass' Returns, Becca Newell, The Star Democrat, Easton, Maryland, June 19 2011.

Before the unveiling of the Frederick Douglass statue Saturday morning, keynote speaker David Blight, director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University, spoke briefly about Douglass' life and the significance of the statue, which now proudly stands on the Talbot County Courthouse lawn. "Douglass was one of the greatest ironists," he said. "And the irony that his monument will now stand forever ... next to Talbot County's Confederate monument is something Douglass would not want us to forget."

Throughout his life, Douglass considered himself an orphan, Blight said, spending much of his time searching for a mother, a father and, most importantly, a home. "Home is one of the most powerful themes in Douglass' autobiography," he said, noting that if Douglass were present at Saturday's unveiling ceremony, he would undoubtedly speak about "home."

In some ways, Talbot County - St. Michaels, Easton and along the Tuckahoe creek - was always his home, Blight said. "That's a complicated sense of home," he said. "But it's really the closest thing Douglass ever had to roots."

Thirty years ago, Blight visited Talbot County in an effort to retrace Douglass' steps, he said, describing his visit around the Eastern Shore, from the Wye House to Edward Covey's farm. While at the farm, Blight saw the exact scene Douglass previously had described in a passage about his time enslaved by Covey. "Our house stood within a few rods of the Chesapeake Bay, whose broad bosom was ever white with the sails from every quarter of the habitable globe," he said, citing examples of Douglass' eloquent use of words. "Those beautiful vessels robed in purest white, so delightful to the eye of freemen were to me so many shrouded ghosts, to terrify and torment me with thoughts of my wretched condition."

Douglass will forever be remember as much more than a fugitive slave, who escaped to freedom, Blight said. He's now celebrated as a thinker, an orator, and perhaps most importantly, for the language he used in his writings and speeches. "Frederick Douglass is a writer of the ages; he is a writer of the universality of human rights," he said.

However difficult it may be for the country to re-visit the topic of slavery, it is important that individuals do so, Blight said. "You've done so much here today ... to make sure (slavery) is no longer just under the surface, it is now on the courthouse lawn," he said. "We need to choose to remember, to hear, Douglass' voice."

And, like Monticello in Virginia has its Jefferson statue and Springfield, Ill., has its Lincoln statue, the courthouse lawn in Easton now has its own Frederick Douglass statue, Blight said, as the crowd of about 1,000 people applauded. Another of the invited speaker's, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, also spoke before the unveiling of the nearly eight-foot-tall bronze sculpture which sits atop of a 33-inch granite pedestal. "We've finally come to the crescendo," O'Malley said, with a smile, pointing to the statue that was covered with a red, blue and white sheet.

Douglass was born in Talbot County, just four years after the birth of The Star-Spangled Banner, O'Malley said, before admitting that Douglass is one of his favorite Republicans. As the crowd counted backwards from 10 to one, O'Malley stood next to the statue, ready to remove the its patriotic cover at the end of the countdown. Also with O'Malley were Eric Lowery, president of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, Juliette Neil, winner of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society-Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum essay contest, and Brandon Coleman, a soon-to-be fifth-grader who researched Douglass for a school project, on which he earned 100-percent.

"Frederick Douglass was one of the great Americans of all time and the placement of this statue today, I think, is a real testament, not only to his life and the contributions to the America that we carry in our hearts, but I think it's a great reflection of the people of the Eastern Shore," O'Malley said, in a brief interview with The Star Democrat, following the ceremony. "(They) understand by the placement of this statue

Text and Top Image Source: Easton Star Democrat, June 19 2011

Bottom Image Source: Talbot County website

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

News---The Civil War Trust Launches New Initiative to Save 20,000 Acres in Four Years

Civil War Trust Gathers In Gettysburg To Announce National Sesquicentennial Preservation Initiative, Liz Jacoby, Development Coordinator for the Civil War Trust, June 21, 2011.

On Thursday, June 30, the eve of the anniversary of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, officials from the Civil War Trust will gather in Gettysburg to announce the start of an ambitious national fundraising initiative that, if successful, will permanently protect an unprecedented amount of hallowed ground during the Civil War sesquicentennial commemoration.

The “Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy,” initiative will seek to permanently preserve 20,000 acres of battlefield land before the conclusion of the Civil War’s 150th anniversary commemoration. Doing so will allow the Trust to eclipse the 50,000-acre mark for total battlefield land set aside for future generations to learn from and enjoy. Joining Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer at the news conference will be two tireless advocates for battlefield preservation: country music superstar Trace Adkins and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson.

The announcement of the national fundraising campaign will be made at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 30 in Schmuker Grove on the grounds of the historic Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. The seminary is an important landmark on the first day’s battlefield and served as both as a rally point for Union troops on July 1 and as a hospital during the battle that cared for more than 700 wounded soldiers.

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its goal is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War sites and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. Please visit the Trust’s website at, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.

More information is available from Liz Jacoby, Development Coordinator for the Civil War Trust. Her office is located at 1156 15th Street NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005. Her telephone and fax numbers 202.367.1861 x7215 and 202.367.1865. Her email address is

CWL chips in three or four times a year to the Civil War Trust. Glad to save and help preserve the Glendale battlefield and the Breakthrough Farm at Fredericksburg; both important in the Pennsylvania Reserve Division's history. To the left is Don Troiani's The Iron Brigade: The 24th Michigan at Gettysburg, July 1, 1863. The cupola of Schmucker Hall is in the top center/right of the print that hangs in CWL's office at work.

Happy Anniversary!----Harpers Ferry Historical Society Celebrates 40th Year

The Harpers Ferry Historical Association, established in 1971, is a not-for-profit association that provided over $1 million to enhance the interpretive and education programs of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the National Park Service. The association has helped fund park public education programs, living history events, Artists-in-Residence, media for curriculum-based learning, publications, and visitor information assistance.

These donations enhance the visitor experience at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The association helped fund John Brown Remembered: The 150th Anniversary of the Raid on Harpers Ferry and funds the annual re-creation of Election Day 1860. Online, the HFHA offers the Harpers Ferry Explorer, an interactive virtual tour that showcases the history and beauty of Harpers Ferry. The association publishes "A Walker's Guide to Harpers Ferry" and other park publications.

For classrooms the HFHA provides materials for teachers and students for the annual School House Ridge Education Program for all 5th grade students in Jefferson County. The association hosts an annual Book and Author Festival. In partnership with the town of Harpers Ferry and the national historical park, the association supports the annual Keeping Christmas event.

Funds are generated through the park's bookshop, which offers over 3,000 items to help the visitor understand Harpers Ferry's unique place in history. Harpers Ferry Historical Association has over 500 members in the United States and Canada. Memberships are as follow and each include bookstore discounts.
$25 Armory Worker
$45 Millwright
$100 Master Armorer
$250 Paymaster
$500 Armory Superintendent

The 2011 schedule of 28 events hosted in the park by the HFHA includes Thomas Jefferson and his Notes on Virginia, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the War of 1812, John Brown's Raid, Inventors, Inventions and Technolgy, food gardening/harvesting/preserving, Storer College and the Niagra Movement, Civil War cavalry, medicine, quartermasters, infantry combat, cider and creamed ice making.

CWL, an HFHA member, travels to Harper's Ferry two or three times a year and is in the park as well as the Appalachian Trail equipment store, the Ceramics Co-0p store and of course the bookstore. Here is the Harper's Ferry Historical Association's online site.

Monday, June 20, 2011

New and Noteworthy: As America Burns, Britain Smolders

A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War, Amanda Foreman, Random House, 1008 pages, $35.00, release date: June 28, 2011.

From the Publisher: Acclaimed historian Amanda Foreman . . . with her long-awaited second work of nonfiction: the fascinating story of the American Civil War and the major role played by Britain and its citizens in that epic struggle.

Even before the first rumblings of secession shook the halls of Congress, British involvement in the coming schism was inevitable. Britain was dependent on the South for cotton, and in turn the Confederacy relied almost exclusively on Britain for guns, bullets, and ships. The Union sought to block any diplomacy between the two and consistently teetered on the brink of war with Britain. For four years the complex web of relationships between the countries led to defeats and victories both minute and history-making. In A World on Fire, Amanda Foreman examines the fraught relations from multiple angles while she introduces characters both humble and grand, bringing them to vivid life over the course of her sweeping and brilliant narrative.

Between 1861 and 1865, thousands of British citizens volunteered for service on both sides of the Civil War. From the first cannon blasts on Fort Sumter to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, they served as officers and infantrymen, sailors and nurses, blockade runners and spies. Through personal letters, diaries, and journals, Foreman has woven together their experiences to form a panoramic yet intimate view of the war on the front lines, in the prison camps, and in the great cities of both the Union and the Confederacy. Through the eyes of these brave volunteers we see the details of the struggle for life and the great and powerful forces that threatened to demolish a nation.

In the drawing rooms of London and the offices of Washington, on muddy fields and aboard packed ships, Foreman reveals the decisions made, the beliefs held and contested, and the personal triumphs and sacrifices that ultimately led to the reunification of America. A World on Fire is a complex and groundbreaking work that will surely cement Amanda Foreman’s position as one of the most influential historians of our time.

Published in 2010 in the U.K. The Economist and others British book reviewers love this book:

“This is a tale never previously told.”—Stephen Graubard, Financial Times
“Riveting . . . The reader is swept along. . . . One can hardly overestimate the brilliance of Foreman’s conception. . . . A shimmering tapestry.”—Jay Parini, The Guardian

“Amanda Foreman’s magnificent new book . . . resembles nothing so much as War and Peace.”—Adam I. P. Smith, History Today

“A real-life Gone with the Wind . . . extraordinarily rich, racy and poignant . . . an iridescent book.” Antonia Fraser, The Mail on Sunday

“Magnificent . . . a completely fresh perspective on the first great modern conflict.”—Antony Beevor, author of D-Day: The Battle for Normandy

“The scale of Ms. Foreman’s book is epic.”—The Economist

American reviewers begin to note its U.S. publication:
A World on Fire is an achievement as enjoyable as it is impressive. As in a great nineteenth-century novel, a teeming cast propels this epic—the gallant and the craven, scoundrels and lovers, diplomats and freebooters—some helplessly caught in the gale, others with their hands firmly on the levers of power. Charles Dickens appears in this book; had he been an historian he might well have written it.”—Richard Snow, editor, American Heritage, 1990–2007

"Foreman amply offers a new perspective on the war in an elegantly written work of old-fashioned narrative history.” Publisher's Weekly, starred review

Here's the link to Amanda Foreman's appearance on CSpan's Book TV

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

News---Extended Director's Cut of Gods & Generals Film

Gods and Generals extended director's cut in the Blu-ray format was released on May 24. This edition is 280 minutes; the original 2003 release was 219 minutes. CWL and a friend viewed the film on May 31 in a campus auditorium with Blue Ray projection and sound.

In the extra 61 minutes are is the long awaited Antietam scenes, some of which are very good. The Cornfield segments show nearly face to face volleys that explode corn cobs and cut corn stalks. But since none of the main characters are in Antietam combat scenes, these scenes seem extraneous to the film's narrative. The 20th Maine is shown readying itself for combat and then receiving the news that they won't be going into battle. There is no significant Jackson, Lee, Longstreet, or Hood presence in the Antietam scenes. Actually, Longstreet is rarely featured in the movie and probably not at all in the 61 additional minutes. One of the failures of the 2003 G&G was the neglect of the Lee/Longstreet relationship which was so important to the Gettysburg film.

Also in the 61 minutes are three scenes with John Wilkes Booth, two of which are with Harrison [the Confederate spy from Gettysburg]. The first scene is wretchedly directed and acted. Southern belles with lip gloss and plucked eyebrows oogle, drool, and flirt with Booth. They do not even hide behind hand fans. The second and third scenes with Booth are not much better Harrison the spy [from Gettysburg] in them. The third scene with them is set in a dressing room after a Shakespearean play. The dialog and acting is ripe for small screen television but comes across as silly on the big screen. Chamberlain and Fanny are in the audience and meet Booth backstage. It is a preposterous scene with Fanny quizzing Booth on political issues. After the Chamberlains excuse themselves . . . . Well, both Harrison and Booth may have gender issues. The women swoon for Booth; the guys too.

There are two extra scenes with African Americans. Both scenes include a new character who, like Jackson's cook, is a free man. This former slave, recently freed by the owner, now works for the owner who is now a member of the Confederate army. Of the three blacks in the film, two are freedmen and one is a slave living with her children in a white Fredericksburg household. No issues similar to those found in the film Glory are found in this version of Gods and Generals. It would not be a stretch to imagine neo-Confederates being extremely satisfied with G&G's depiction of slaves and slavery. CWL would have gladly watched Jackson conduct Sunday School lessons with black children. But G&G's depiction of blacks a being only loyal is superficial and probably misleading to a general audience.

Nothing significantly new is added the Chamberlain's character or Lee's character as presented in the 2003 version. In 2003, it was rumored that there was a Booth scene and a Jackson scene at John Brown's 1850 hanging. It is not in the extra 61 minutes. Neither is the Irish Brigade receiving boxwood stems from historical consultant Brian Pohanka which appeared among previous editions' deleted scenes. There are extra scenes of the Irish Brigade and other Federal soldiers fighting their way into and then looting Fredericksburg

An introduction by executive producer Ted Turner is included on the second disc along with the three making-of documentaries: "Journey to the Past," "The Life of Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson," and "The Authenticites of the Film" and the two music videos from Bob Dylan and Mary Fahl which were released earlier on the 219 minute director's edition.

News---Alexandria Virginia's Fort Ward Offers Confederate Banner's Star Stained With Union Blood

Sensational Civil War Death Explored In 3 Exhibits, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2001.

Col. Elmer Ellsworth never stepped foot in Fort Ward, but a lock of his hair and his uniform cap have made it here to the grounds of one of the dozens of Union strongholds built around the Washington, D.C., area after the outbreak of the Civil War. Ellsworth was the first Union officer killed in the conflict. His death on May 24, 1861, while removing a flag from the top of the Marshall House hotel in Alexandria caused a sensation throughout the nation, prompting thousands of men across the northern states to enlist for the Union cause and go to war against the South. He was made a martyr in the North and his image appeared on stationery, sheet music, pottery and memorial lithographs throughout the war.

Although Ellsworth's death preceded the construction of Fort Ward and the 67 other Civil War forts that guarded the nation's capital, he's the focus of a new exhibit at the Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site in Alexandria, just across the Potomac River from the District of Columbia. "We are a Union fort," said Walton Owen, assistant director and curator at Fort Ward, "and he's an important part of our local history and the occupation of Alexandria."

The 150th anniversary of Ellsworth's death is also the subject of an exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and several of his artifacts — including the uniform coat he was wearing when he died — are on display at the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs.

Forever linked with Ellsworth is James Jackson, the Marshall House proprietor and staunch secessionist who shot the Union officer in a stairway of the hotel. Cpl. Francis Brown, one of Ellsworth's soldiers, shot and killed Jackson, who was hailed in the South as the "first martyr" of the Confederate States of America. While Ellsworth is buried under a 40-foot-tall obelisk at his gravesite in upstate New York, there's no memorial in the South dedicated to Jackson, although his name was added to Alexandria's Confederate Statue 11 years after it was unveiled on May 24, 1889.

Before the war, Ellsworth gained national fame while leading a military-style drill team called the Zouaves, known for their distinct uniforms of red pantaloons, red fezzes and blue brocaded jackets. He also became close friends with Abraham Lincoln while clerking in the future president's law office in Illinois, and he campaigned for the Republican Party candidate during the 1860 election.

Fort Ward was named for Commander James Harmon Ward, the first Union naval officer to be killed in the Civil War. Construction began in September 1861 and was completed in about a month. The fort was the fifth largest of the installations collectively known as the Defenses of Washington. Traces of about 24 of the fortifications still exist, including Fort Ward, considered the best-preserved of the sites still accessible to the public.

Operated by the city of Alexandria, the museum and adjacent park offer visitors a glimpse of what a garrison soldier's life was like during the Civil War. A reconstructed officers' hut represents a typical fort dwelling of the era, while Fort Ward's Northwest Bastion, mounted by several cannons, has been completely restored. Other earthwork walls have been preserved at the site, set amid the lush landscape of a 40-acre park located in a residential neighborhood. A road rings the site's perimeter while a walking path passes the old fort's bombproofs, earth- and grass-covered structures designed to provide an underground space for operations during an attack. Signage leads visitors to viewing platforms that keep people off the fragile earthwork walls.

The small museum is located near the site's entrance. Opened in 1964 during the Civil War's centennial, the museum interprets the fort's role in the Union's occupation of Alexandria, a vital crossroads town dating back to Colonial times. In addition to displays on the everyday life of Civil War soldiers, the museum features an exhibit on the "Ellsworth incident."

The exhibit includes a lock of his hair, a red kepi (cap) he wore, photographs of the young officer in uniform and contemporary published accounts of his death at the hands of James Jackson.

Most of a star from Jackson's secessionist flag, still stained with Ellsworth's blood, is on display, along with the "O'' from the Marshall House sign, one of the many pieces of the structure torn off the building by souvenir-hunting Union soldiers seeking a momento from the spot where Ellsworth was slain.

"Col. Elmer Ellsworth and The Marshall House Incident" can be seen through February 2012 at the Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site, 4301 West Braddock Road, Alexandria; or 703-746-4848. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sundays, noon-5 p.m. Park open daily 9 a.m.-sunset. Free admission. Guided tours: $2 per person.

The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, located on the site of a former Union hospital, is marking the Civil War's 150th anniversary with a series of seven exhibitions in the alcove linking two rooms with Civil War displays. The first — "The Death of Ellsworth" — includes artifacts from the "Ellsworth incident," including portraits of Ellsworth and Lincoln, as well as Alonzo Chappel's historic painting depicting the Union officer being shot by Jackson.

Also on display are Jackson's shotgun and the rifle Cpl. Francis Brown used to kill Jackson, along with a piece of the blood-stained flooring torn up by souvenir hunters from the hallway where Ellsworth died. Brown bequeathed the weapons and other items to the Smithsonian.

This article is continued at The Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2011.

Top Image Source: Ellsworth Coat Image
Bottom Image Source: Death of Ellsworth Painting

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

News---Racially Integrated Grand Army of the Republic Post

An enlargeable copy of this image is available at the link below.

Civil War Mystery: Do you Recognize Anyone In This Photograph?, Marylynne Pitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sunday, April 03, 2011

In 1904, Espy members gathered at the Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie for this photo. Now, a woman is hoping to identify the men in this photograph.On a rainy Memorial Day in 1904, Civil War veterans from the Captain Thomas Espy Post gathered in Carnegie, marched about two miles to Chartiers Cemetery and decorated the graves of their comrades. When the rain stopped, sergeants and soldiers stood in their muddied boots on the steps of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie and looked into a bellows camera.

All that remains from that day are the solemn faces of 86 men, a few of whom brought their sons to the gathering. Some wore bowlers or derbies; others donned the kepis they had worn with their uniforms. The names and deeds of the Union Army soldiers and sailors who made up this Grand Army of the Republic post are documented. But matching the names with these marvelous faces requires a diligent researcher like Diane Klinefelter -- with maybe a little help from people like you.

Throughout that Saturday, events will be held at the library and at Carnegie Park, 201 Cooks Lane, Carnegie (15106). Also, the Capt. Thomas Espy G.A.R. Post will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The post is normally open only on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Espy Post is located in a room in the Andrew Carnegie Free Library, 300 Beechwood Ave., Carnegie. All of the April 30 events are free except for the tea, which is $12 per person, and the Civil War Ball, which is $20 per person or $30 per couple. For a listing of activities, locations and times, visit

If your ancestors served in the Civil War and lived in Collier, Chartiers, Green Tree, Heidelberg, Mansfield, Scott or South Fayette, Ms. Klinefelter would like to hear from you. Her goal is to identify all 86 men in the picture. "Their enlistment papers gave a physical description but the passage of time is probably the most challenging thing because physical appearance changes over time," said Ms. Klinefelter, Civil War historian and director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library.

Enlistment papers recorded height, weight, hair color and eye color. But those traits aren't much help when descendants come forward with family photos. "It's just challenging because most of them grayed. They are black and white photos so it's difficult to see eye color," she said. Veterans from the James Garfield G.A.R. Post, based in the West End neighborhood of Temperanceville, are also in the picture. Those men gathered at Wabash and Steuben streets before marching to Chartiers Cemetery, said Martin Neaman, a member of a local reenactors' group called the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves, Company A. Such parades, he added, often drew crowds of 5,000 people in fine weather.

So far, six of the men have been identified and some of the best clues have come from descendants with family photos. Recently, relatives identified William Walker, Jacob Yeager and Billingsley Morgan. Bill Grinage, 71, of Windgap, identified his great-grandfather, Jonathan Grinage. Two of the Espy post's volunteer docents, Wanda Forsythe Clay and Virginia Forsythe Rye, identified their grandfather, George B. Forsythe, a prominent farmer whose picture also appears in "Memoirs of Allegheny County."

It's easy to spot Mr. Grinage's great-grandfather, Jonathan. He stands out in the center of the third row, distinguished by a light colored hat and a prodigious mustache. The man to Mr. Grinage's immediate right is one of three African-Americans who belonged to this integrated post. But no one would guess by looking at the picture that Jonathan Grinage, the son of a French father and light-skinned black mother, was African-American. In the 1860 U.S. census, he is listed as a blacksmith working in Findlay Township with a wife, Catherine, and one son and two daughters. "People brought him inventions on paper and he would put them together," Bill Grinage said.

Stories about Jonathan Grinage passed through the family. The Civil War sergeant, who lived to the age of 86, recounted his life experiences to his only son, John, and to his grandson, Charles Grinage, a coal miner who was the father of Bill Grinage. "My father was about 12 years old when his grandfather died. He knew his grandfather well," Mr. Grinage recalled. Jonathan Grinage enlisted in the Union Army in 1863 and mustered out in 1865 as a first sergeant. Despite his light skin, he never tried to pass as a white man, which would have been an advantage. "He was black because he said he was black," Bill Grinage said proudly.

Jonathan Grinage was nearly 30 when he joined Company C of the 8th Regiment, which saw action at Olustee, Chaffin's Farm and New Market Heights. On April 9, 1865, "his regiment witnessed the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox," said Mr. Grinage, who owns an 1861 Springfield muzzle loading rifle, which he theorizes may have belonged to his great-grandfather.

On the left side of the picture in front of a flag stands George B. Forsythe. One face away and to his left is his only son, Joseph W. Forsythe, father of Mrs. Clay and her sister, Virginia Forsythe Rye. George B. Forsythe was studying when the Civil War broke out. He enlisted in 1861, joining company B of the 100th Pennsylvania volunteer infantry. An entrepreneur, he earned $1,000 during the war by foraging for apples and selling them to his fellow soldiers, said his granddaughter, Wanda Forsythe Clay of Carnegie. At Spotsylvania, Va., on May 7, 1864, a minie ball lodged in his right hip. As he lay on the battlefield, he asked himself, "George B. Forsythe, are you going to lay here and die or are you going to get up and get help?"

Gripping two long muskets that lay by dead soldiers and, using them as crutches, he managed to stand and hobble off the battlefield to get help. After many months in various hospitals in Fredericksburg, Washington, D.C., and Staten Island, N.Y., he was furloughed to visit his brother, a Presbyterian minister who lived in Montgomery, N.Y. "When he was up in New York, he was released from the Army," Mrs. Clay said.

Then, someone stole Mr. Forsythe's money. "He was so resourceful that he built a raft to come down the Allegheny River from New York. He landed in Pittsburgh. How he got to Finleyville where his mother lived, I don't know," Mrs. Clay said. Mr. Forsythe bought a 90-acre farm in Carnegie; a road that runs through the borough still bears his name. His granddaughters still live in their family's ancestral home, which was built in 1850. On Saturdays, they lead tours of the Espy Post.

Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, hopes to hear more of these stories, and see more photos. She will ask an expert to compare the family photos to the old group photo. "A facial reconstructionist can take that 1904 photo and compare it with the descendants' photo of the veteran. There are certain things that don't change on a person -- the distance between your pupils. and their ear lobes," Ms. Klinefelter said.

If you believe your ancestor is in the 1904 picture, contact Civil War historian Diane Klinefelter at or 412-276-3456, ext. 5.

Correction/Clarification: (Published April 5, 2011) A story about efforts to identify members of the Captain Thomas Espy Post, who were photographed on Memorial Day of 1904, gave an incorrect identification for Jacob Yeager. Mr. Yeager stands in the last row, directly below the L in the word Library. He has a mustache and beard and is wearing a hat (photo right). Mr. Yeager enlisted in the Union Army on Feb. 21, 1865, and was a private in Company F, 78th Regiment PA Infantry Volunteers

Text Source: Post

News---Memorial Day, The Grand Army of the Republic, and Saving Gravestones

Ninth Pennsylvania Reserves, Company A is a Civil War reenactment unit based in the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania metropolitan region. Located in the Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie Pennsylvania, the Ninth Pennsylvania Reserves serves the Thomas Espy Grand Army of the Republic post which is located on the second floor of the library building. The Ninth Pennsylvania Reserves, Company A was founded in 1981. CWL joined the unit in 1993. The Ninth is heavily committed to education, preservation, authentic campaigning, and the National Park's understanding of visitor education. Along with the Pennsylvania Reserve Division, a reenactment unit coalition, the Ninth lives three days a year at Gettysburg National Military Park and performs public education at the Pennsylvania Monument.

Marty Neaman and Joe Hesh, two members of the Ninth, have volunteered for the past several years to aid in the preservation of the Thomas Espy Post on the second floor of the Carnegie Free Library, Carnegie, Pennsylvania. The picture to the left show Marty and Joe with the Thomas Espy Post Flag. The event is the Memorial Day Parade in Carnegie. Joe is to the left and Marty is the flag bearer.

Richard Williams, drummer in the Ninth and a new recruit are in front of the rank. A volley has just been fired during the Bridgeville, Pennsylvania parade. The drummers and fifers make the audience aware of forthcoming volleys. Mind the babies' ears and the pets! Photograph is taken by CWL, the color sergeant during parades.

At the Chartiers Cemetery over 100 Civil War gravestones were beneath or at the surface of the sod. Many were members of the Thomas Espey GAR Post or members of the United States Colored Troops. The burials have been identified and funds are being raised to purchase new stones and set them into place. In the photograph to the left, members of the Ninth Pennsylvania fire volleys over the grave of William H.H. Lea whose gravestone and that of his wife were at the surface of the sod. 95% of the gravestones were covered by soil. The black lines on the backs of the gravestones are the marks left by topsoil as the gravestones sank and then sank deeper into the ground.

Within three months, the stones were identified and lifted out of the soil. In this picture the black triangle contains a photograph of William H.H. Lea. It was found on Ebay just a week before Memorial Day. It was purchased by Marty Neaman, a member of the Ninth. Both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review have featured the work of Marty Neaman and Josh Hesh regarding the recovery and restoration of the Union veterans' gravestones.

Check out the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's 'Cemetery Holds City's' Civil War History' and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review's Duo Counting On Private Donors To Replace Civil War Headstones
Duo Counting On Private Donors To Replace Civil War Headstones'.

News---Gettysburg Reenactment of Pennsylvania Reserve Assault

The Terrible Impetuosity: The Pennsylvania Reserves at Gettysburg, Jeffrey F. Sherry, Gettysburg Magazine, Issue Number 16, January 1997.

Excerpted text is found at the Pennsylvania Reserves Historical Society online.

The July 2 charge of the Pennsylvania Reserves from the north and west side of Little Round Top and into the Wheatfield was reenacted by the present day Pennsylvania Reserves Division, a Civil War Reenactment group. The event was May 22. The march was from the east slope of Powers' Hill to the stonewall on the northeast border of the Wheatfield. At the stonewall, the names of those killed were read aloud accompanied by a time of remembrance. Accompanying photos are by Civil War Librarian.

While marching to the left, Crawford received an order, presumably from Sykes, to send a brigade to aid the brigades of Col. Strong Vincent and Stephen Weed, which were heavily engaged on Little Round Top's southern and western slopes. Crawford ordered Fisher's Brigade, which was in the lead, to move left across the summit of the hill to Vincent's aid. Crawford then ordered Colonel Jackson's 11th Reserves, bringing up the rear of Fisher's column, to remain on the south slope of the hill, and McCandless' Brigade formed on Jackson's flanks and in his rear. Crawford's first line on the north slope, from right to left, consisted of the 6th Reserves under Lt. Col. Wellington H. Ent, Jackson's 11th Reserves, and Col. William C. Talley's 1st Reserves. The second line, close behind the first, consisted of Col. Charles F. Taylor's 13th Reserves (Bucktails) on the left and Lt. Col. George A. Woodward's 2nd Reserves on the right, all under McCandless' command.[20]

As the brigade settled in among the rocks and stumps on the rugged slope of Little Round Top, the scene in the valley below them must have been a sight few would forget. The setting sun cast a dull reddish light on the smoke rising from the Wheatfield and nearby woods. Thousands of Federal soldiers from several divisions and corps retreated across the valley and some, Crawford reported, through his lines and down the Wheatfield road heading to the rear. Some came without weapons and with Confederate skirmishers close behind. At this point, an unidentified "Dutch Captain" who, according to Colonel Jackson, was an officer in Capt. Frank C. Gibbs' Company L, 1st Ohio Light Artillery, approached the colonel with a phrase that would become part of the lore of the Pennsylvania Reserves. Gibbs' battery held a position to the right of McCandless' line with two sections, while one section was higher up Little Round Top's north slope, just behind the right of the Bucktails. According to Capt. Henry N. Minnigh of the 1st Reserves, the "Dutch Captain...raved and swore, when it seemed as if his guns would be taken." "Dunder and blixen, don't let dem repels took mine batteries" shouted the officer to Colonel Jackson. Jackson told the man to "double-shot his guns, hold his position, and we would see to their safety." The men nearest to the artillery officer called out further comfort: "stand by your guns Dutchy, and we will stand by you."[21]

The smoke and setting sun were making it difficult for McCandless' men to tell friend from foe. When Colonel Jackson asked two retreating Federal soldiers if their front was clear of friendly troops, one replied that the men behind them were "Johnnies." That was enough for the colonel, and he ordered his men to open fire on the advancing Confederates, just then beginning to scramble up the face of Little Round Top's northwest slope. Most accounts agree that McCandless' Brigade fired two volleys at close range into the advancing Confederates and Gibbs' guns poured in double canister as well.[22]

While few of the Pennsylvania Reserves would admit to it later, they were not alone on Little Round Top's north slope that evening. The 98th Pennsylvania of Brig. Gen. Frank Wheaton's Sixth Corps Brigade had come up to the left rear of the 1st Reserves' line and charged down the slope into Plum Run Valley, obliquing to the left as they advanced with a "hurrah," stopping at the base of Devil's Den. Interestingly enough, the 98th's commander, Maj. John B. Kohler, did not even mention the Reserves presence or the advance they were about to make on his right moments later. Surely he could not have missed the advance of five regiments only a few hundred yards away. Kohler did not even mention the Fifth Corps in his report, believing the soldiers on his right were from the Second Corps.[23]

At this point, General Crawford rode onto the stage. Seizing the flag of the I st Reserves, one of whose color-bearers had fallen, the mounted Crawford placed himself at the front of his line and shouted, "Forward, Reserves." Colonel Jackson of the 11th Reserves said it was he who ordered the charge. Nevertheless, forward they went down the slope with a loud cheer "peculiar to the Reserves," the color-bearer of the 1st Reserves trailing behind Crawford. The general's account had the man holding Crawford's stirrups and trouser leg all the way across the valley, but Crawford's version is the only one that includes this detail. The Confederates they charged into were about spent after fighting across the Wheatfield and through Rose's Woods to the west. The brigades of Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw, Brig. Gen. Paul J. Semmes, and Brig. Gen. William T. Wofford of Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws' Division and Brig. Gen. George T. Anderson's Brigade of Maj. Gen. John B. Hood's Division, both of Longstreet's corps, fell back as the Pennsylvanians advanced at the run down the rocky slope.[24]

As the regiments under McCandless' command charged down the hill, the 2nd Reserves and the Bucktails, who together formed the second line, shifted to the left to come into line with the other Reserves regiments. For reasons never fully explained, McCandless' Brigade had come onto the field in reverse order. At the moment the advance was ordered, at least one regiment, the Bucktails, was trying to counter-march to get everyone where they were supposed to be. Had they advanced as they were, the rear rank would have been in front and all the officers, non-commissioned officers, and file closers would have been in the wrong place. They managed to get it all sorted out just as they advanced, but it no doubt caused a few tense moments as they went through complicated maneuvers under Confederate fire. [25]

As the Confederates fell back rapidly, they still inflicted casualties on the advancing Reserves. Lt. Col, Alanson E. Niles of the Bucktails fell at the base of Little Round Top with a bullet in his hip. The 2nd Reserves reported the loss of three color-bearers in the charge across what Colonel Jackson called "the swamp"-Plum Run. The men of the 98th Pennsylvania remembered that mud slowed and disorganized their advance .[26]

As they approached a stone wall on the western edge of the little valley, the left of the Reserves' line began to take notice of heavy Confederate fire coming from the vicinity of Devil's Den, causing the left regiments to incline in that direction to confront it. This fire from Devil's Den would keep the Bucktails busy for some time to come. At the stone wall, the Confederates rallied briefly but were driven off after a short hand-to-hand fight. The historian of the 1st Reserves wrote later that cries of "Revenge for Reynolds" were heard and that the Confederates "could not stand against the terrible impetuosity of this charge, and at last broke and fled from the field."[27]

Many of the Reserves' officers later wrote that they had trouble restraining their commands once they reached the stone wall. The Bucktails advanced over the wall and up the slope beyond and through the woods to the eastern edge of the Wheatfield until Colonel Taylor, realizing he was advancing without support, ordered everyone back to the stone wall that would be so prominent in official reports written after the battle and accounts written by veterans after the war. Confederate fire from the 1st Texas in Devil's Den had begun to wear away Taylor's left and would soon prove to be his undoing.

Full Text of Pennsylvania Reserves at Gettysburg by Jeff Sherry located at the Pennsylvania Reserve Historical Society online. For more information on Pennsylvania Reserve reenactors go to the Ninth Pennsylvania Reserves, Company A's website.

New---First Civil War Amputee Makes Lemonade From Wound

West Virginia Event Marks 150th Anniversary of Battle of Philippi, Len Barcousky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Monday, May 30, 2011.

James E. Hanger lost a limb but found his profession at the Battle of Philippi, W.Va. Hanger, an 18-year-old Confederate cavalryman, had his leg shattered by a Union cannonball on the morning of June 3, 1861, during what was the first land battle of the Civil War. A re-creation of the amputation of Hanger's leg and an unusual nighttime skirmish each will be part of the Blue & Gray Weekend 150th anniversary commemoration of the battle and its aftermath.

Events begin Thursday with an afternoon craft fair and food festival in the square in front of the Barbour County Courthouse in Philippi. The four-day festival will end Sunday with an 1860s-style church service and a battle re-enactment. In-between activities will include an artillery demonstration (11 a.m. Saturday) and fireworks (10 p.m. Friday). A complete schedule of events is available at Reunion organizers can be reached at 1-304-457-4265 or 1-304-457-2368. Philippi is about 120 miles south of Pittsburgh.

About 250 Union and Confederate re-enactors are expected to participate, said Edgar Brown, chairman of the reunion committee. Between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors are expected to attend the weekend events. That latter number is about equal to the number of Union troops who took part in the battle. They sought to capture a smaller force of 800 Confederates who held the town of Philippi and a 300-foot-long covered bridge over the Tygart River.

Reconstructed several times, the two-lane bridge continues to carry automobile and foot traffic across the river. Serving Route 250, it is the only covered bridge in the country to be part of a national highway. Although almost all of the Confederates escaped when the nighttime attack began prematurely around 4 a.m., their panicked retreat in heavy rain provided another name for the clash: The Philippi Races.

The all-volunteer Blue and Gray Reunion Committee has been marking the anniversary of the battle annually since 1987, Mr. Brown said. A little more than a skirmish when compared to the deadly actions to come, the Battle of Philippi had at least two long-term consequences. The battlefield amputation of James Hanger's leg ended his fighting days, and he became a Union prisoner of war. After his release in a POW exchange, he designed his own hinged prosthetic limb.

After the war, he patented his design and created a company that still exists as part of Hanger Orthopedic Group, Mr. Brown said. The victory by the North at Philippi also encouraged anti-slavery and pro-Union Virginians in the northwest corner of the state to take political action against secession. Meeting about a week after the battle, delegates to the Second Wheeling Convention voted to stay in the union. They first formed a "restored" state government and then created the new state of West Virginia.

"The delegates probably would have done it anyway, but the Union victory certainly helped encourage them," Mr. Brown said.

Text Source: Pittsburgh May 30, 2011

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