Wednesday, December 18, 2013

News---North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans Fund Conservation of Battle Flag

Sons of Confederate Veterans Funds  Conservation of Another Battle Flag At Museum of History, Michael Hudson, Beach Carolina Magazine, December 16, 2013.    On November 21, 2013, members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Camp 379 in Marion, North Carolina, presented an $8,200 check to staff at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. The funds will be used for specialized conservation treatment of a battle flag carried by the 35th Regiment North Carolina Troops during the Civil War. The generous gift was the result of two years of fund-raising by Camp 379.

“It is an honor for Camp 379 to help preserve a part of North Carolina’s important history for future generations,” noted Jeff Cordell, Commander, North Carolina Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Camp 379. The historic banner is part of the museum’s Confederate flag collection, one of the largest in the nation. The standard wool-bunting state flag is missing its regimental numbers, possibly cut away as a souvenir during the war.

35th Regiment, North Carolina Infantry

35th Infantry Regiment completed its organization in November, 1861, at Camp Mangum, near Raleigh, North Carolina. Its members were raised in the counties of Mecklenburg, Onslow, McDowell, Moore, Chatham, Person, Union, Henderson, Wayne, and Catawba. After fighting at New Bern, the regiment was ordered to Virginia and assigned to General R. Ransom's and M.W. Ransom's Brigade. It participated in the difficult campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days' Battles to Fredericksburg. Ordered back to North Carolina, it fought at Boon's Mill and Plymouth , then returned to Virginia in May, 1864. The 35th saw action at Drewey's Bluff , endured the hardships of the Petersburg Campaign  siege south of the James River, and ended the war at Appomattox. This unit sustained 127 casualties at Malvern, 25 in the Maryland Campaign, 29 at Fredericksburg, and 103 at Plymouth. Many were disabled at Saylor's Creek, and on April 9, 1865, it surrendered 5 officers and 111 men. The field officers were Colonels James T. Johnson, John G. Jones, Matthew W. Ransom, and James Sinclair; Lieutenant Colonels M.D. Craton, Oliver C. Petway, and Simon B. Taylor; and Majors John M. Kelly and Robert E. Petty.

Text Source with slight edits:  Beach Carolina Magazine

Text Source of 35th NC Infantry: National Park Service

Thursday, December 05, 2013

News: Slave Cabins and Sherman's March Encampment Sites In Path of New Georgia Highway

Archaeologists Discover Slave Artifacts Were Georgia Highway Project Will Cross Georgia Plantation Site, Russ Bynum, Associated Press, December 1, 2013.

A Mexican coin punctured with a small hole, nails from long-decayed wooden dwellings, and broken bits of plates and bottles are among thousands of artifacts unearthed from what archaeologists suspect were once slave quarters at the site of a planned highway project in Savannah.

A team hired to survey the site by the Georgia Department of Transportation spent three months excavating 20 acres of undeveloped woods tucked between a convenience store and apartments off busy Abercorn Extension on Savannah's suburban south side. Archaeologist Rita Elliott said the project yielded a staggering 33,858 artifacts believed to date from about 1750 until after the Civil War.

Historical records show that a wealthy Savannah attorney named William Miller owned a large plantation at the site and at one time had 87 slaves, Elliott said. Archaeologists didn't find the main plantation house but believe many of the artifacts they found are consistent with slave dwellings.
"These people are pretty anonymous in the historical records," Elliott said. "The archaeology may not tell us much about their names, but it will tell us about their lives."

As for the sheer volume of items recovered at the site, Elliott said, "It's not unheard of. But this is a lot of artifacts." The plantation site had plenty of high ground that probably would have been used for growing row crops, while the lower-lying marshlands would have been suitable for growing rice. Records show that two planters owned the land until Miller bought it all in the mid-1850s.
Clusters of nails found in the ground indicate that buildings were made from wood instead of brick, Elliott said. Archaeologists uncovered small pits used to store items in the floors of dwellings and dug up no window glass, further evidence the site had crude structures occupied by slaves.

Archaeologists found a silver Mexican coin from 1831 with a hole punched near the edge, as if it had been worn as a pendant. An 1865 penny was recovered from a pit. Researchers also found fragments of brick, broken dishes and bottles, a cast iron pot and a small brass thimble.

A small part of the site also turned up clues that some Union troops of Gen. William T. Sherman camped out at the site around the time Savannah was seized in1864. Archaeologists found bullets from muskets and uniform buttons, as well as what appear to be spikes used to hold down tents.
Elliott said records show that some of Sherman's troops marched right through Miller's plantation en route to Savannah. She estimates that several hundred camped there.

The archaeological work was ordered as part of the pre-construction phase of a $30.3 million dollar project to elevate Ga. 204, which links Savannah's south side to Interstate 95, above a busy residential crossing. Archaeological research was required for the project because it uses federal transportation money. Construction is scheduled to begin next year. "It is rare, and it's an opportunity that we enjoy," Georgia DOT spokeswoman Jill Nagel said of the plantation discovery. "We're preserving Savannah's history."
Since field work at the site ended in May, archaeologists have kept busy in the laboratory cleaning and examining each artifact, looking for clues to piece together the stories of slaves who lived on Miller's plantation. Eventually the artifacts will be turned over to the University of West Georgia in Carrollton for safe keeping.

Text SourceTribTown, December 1 2013
Image Source: Memphis Commerical Appeal, December 1, 2013

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

News: Fraud Claimed In Sale of U.S.Grant's Coat and Cup

Disputed Sale of Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant's Coat and Cup Prompts Legal Battle, Fraud Claims by Gettysburg Antiques Seller, Matt Miller, Patriot-News' Penn Live Web Site, November 29, 2013.

Nearly 150 years after it ended, the Civil War is still big business. And the sale of some property of one of its key figures is now fodder for a federal lawsuit. A legal battle just begun in U.S. Middle District Court centers on claims by the owners of a military antiques shop in Gettysburg that they are owed a share of a $1.6 million to $1.85 million sale of a coat and cup once owned by Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, one of the war's top commanders and a former U.S. president.There is a bit of North-South friction as well.

The owners of The Horse Soldier on Steinwehr Avenue contend that a Virginian, Donald Tharp, defrauded them out of their cut on the sale of the Grant artifacts. The Horse Soldier owners, Patricia, Sam and Wesley Small, fired their first shot in the fight by suing Tharp in Adams County Court in late October. Tharp is now seeking to have the dispute moved to the federal court in Harrisburg.
In their complaint, the Smalls claim that in 1995 they discovered several Grant artifacts were up for sale. The Smalls and another man approached Tharp with a proposition for a joint financing deal to come up with the money to buy Grant's coat and cup.

Under that oral agreement, Tharp was to receive 10 percent interest annually on his investment, but no more than $160,000, until the artifacts sold, according to the suit. Once they sold, Tharp was to get 55 percent of the profit, with the Smalls receiving 25 percent and 20 percent going to the other investor, the Smalls claim.

The Grant pieces were in the Smalls' store for about three weeks before Tharp asked to borrow the coat and cup to display at his home. The Smalls claim they agreed to turn them over because they'd had dealings with Tharp before and trusted him. However, the Smalls claim in their suit that, without telling them, Tharp sold the items for at least $1.6 million to more than $1.8 million, with Grant's coat going for around $1.5 million. The suit does not state when the sale took place, but the Smalls claim that they didn't learn that the artifacts had been sold until 2010.

They contend that Tharp has refused to pay them the money they are owed for the sale, and has ignored a June 2011 arbitration decision that found in their favor. They want the court to rule that their agreement with Tharp is binding and that he must pay up on claims of breach of contract and unjust enrichment.  Specifically, the Smalls are seeking $380,000, plus interest and legal fees.
Tharp's attorney, Ralph J. Kelly, and Steven E. Grubb, the lawyer representing the Smalls, weren't immediately available for comment Friday.

Text and Image Source: Patriot-News' Penn Live Web Site, November 29, 2013.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

New And Noteworthy: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Soldiers In the Gettysburg Campaign

Those Who Fought: Allegheny County, Pa., and the Gettysburg Campaign, Arthur B. Fox, Mechling Bindery, 202 pages, Softbound, $19.95.

From the Publisher: The first book that specifically recognizes the role of Allegheny County, Pa., in the Battle of Gettysburg and honors the local soldiers who fought there. The author presents the human side of the soldier, and adds vital facts of the regiments and current efforts to memorialize them.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: [excerpt] " The book is the third volume in a trilogy Mr. Fox has written about the region's military role at the time of the War Between the States. His earlier works are Pittsburgh During the American Civil War: 1860-186" and Our Honored Dead: Allegheny County, Pa., in the American Civil War. All three books are published by Mechling Bookbindery in Chicora, Butler County.
"Those Who Fought" was planned as a much longer work looking at the experiences at Gettysburg of soldiers from 10 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. Its 50,000 words now concentrate on units recruited mostly from Allegheny County.

Text Sources: Mechling Bindery and Pittsburgh Post Gazette December 2, 2013

Saturday, October 26, 2013

New and Noteworthy---Surgeon in Blue, Jonathan Letterman: Triage, Ambulances and Battlefield Farms

Surgeon in Blue: Jonathan Letterman, The Civil War Doctor Who Pioneered Battlefield Care by Scott McGaugh, Publisher: Arcade, 368pp., notes, bibliography, b/w photographs, $25.95
Scott McGough’s Surgeon In Blue is the first full length biography of Letterman. The author’s narrative is accessible to a variety of readers. It is not a detailed account of military campaigns nor is it a densely written example of medical history. It offers minimal insight into Letterman’s character and motivation. Jonathan Letterman did not leave a trove of personal letters. A current edition of his Medical Recollections of the Army of the Potomac is 204 pages in a slim trade paperback edition. Letterman’s narrative is similar to an analytical treatise: clear, precise and dispassionate.McGough gives other medical reformers credit where credit is due. He notes that Letterman in early 1863 “could set aside the continuing refinement of battlefield care that he had organized. Fredericksburg validated the Letterman System. Though the system was Letterman’s achievement, it had been built in part on the work of Napoleon’s surgeons more than sixty years before and of Union army surgeons under Ulysses S. Grant earlier in 1862.” 
McGough’s work accomplishes several tasks.  It puts Letterman and his work in the context of the mid-19th century U.S. army. Surgeon in Blue offers a clear depiction of the personalities and political vendettas of the Army of the Potomac, the presidential cabinet, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Sanitary Commission. McGough has researched the appropriate archival material and enhanced his efforts by consulting historians of the National Park Service and the U.S. Army, the Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides, and the staff of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Surgeon in Blue offers the compelling story of American physician’s life lived during the sobering era of the American Civil War.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Off Topic---All Hallows' Eve and All Saints Day and Stories That Go Bump In The Night

Carrie (1974), Mile 81 and The Dune (2012), Joyland (2013), Stephen King; In The Tall Grass, Stephen King and Joe Hill (2012), A Face In The Crowd, Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan (2012).

Well, the leaves and turning and a fresh crop of zombies are rising from their graves. In the twilight, atop ivory candles are small white flames with amber and honey colored edges that honor and remember the saints who continue to intercede in behalf of humanity. All Hallows Eve and All Saints' Day are upon us.

Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows' Evening (October 31), a day in the liturgical annual calendar dedicated to remembering dead saints and martyrs, and all departed, faithful believers in the resurrection of the dead.  All Saints' Day [also known as All Hallows, Solemnity of All Saints, The Feast of All Saints] is celebrated on 1 November.  As for myself, I use the liturgical calendar and the Hagerstown Farmers' Almanac. My first 18 years included planting and harvesting crops, birthing and slaughtering cattle, and even, after one heavy but brief July rain storm, listening to two acres of corn grow. I respect the saints, mother nature, and those who have been committed to the earth and continue to await their resurrection.

Carrie is  Stephen King's first published novel; it was released on April 5, 1974   Set future year of 1979, the novel's focus is on Carietta White, a much bullied female who lives with her mother, a sociopath who uses small portions of The Bible to justify her abuse of Carrie. During a incident in high school, Carrie becomes aware of her latent telekinetic powers. By the end of the novel, the body count is above 500 and most of Chamberlain, Maine is ashes.

Carrie is an epistolary novel that offers a limited omniscient narrator and portions of documents that include fictional letters, commission reports, and imaginary non-fiction books. The novel's several main and secondary characters are compelling; the pace of the novel is neither too slow nor too fast.
If there is a problem, it is in the denouement. Carrie's path of destruction is too wide and the body count too large. It appears that King may wanted to use fictive documents to help him plot his first published novel and needed a castrophe to be investigated in order to justify their use.  Carrie appeared after the novels Rosemary's Baby (1967) and The Exorcist (1971) and the films (1968, 1973) respectively. Both novels and films broaded the territory which King could explore, such as a bullied child with delayed menstruation.

Mile 81 and The Dune (2012), Joyland (2013), In The Tall Grass, (2012), A Face In The Crowd, (2012) are better paced, more subdued and more creepy than Carrie.  The novella Mile 81 offers a malevolent, supernatural, shape shifting force stymied by a vulgar but clever adolescent. The short story The Dune is set, for the most part in a single with an older gentlemen reporting a prophecy of eminent death to his listener. Joyland is a short (for King) novel set in the early 1970s set in a North Carolina amusement park where a ghost prompts an investigation into the possibility of a serial killer travelling between amusement parks. In The Tall Grass and A Face In The Crowd are longer short stories which are reminiscent of Peter Mathieson's work and the television series The Twilight Zone. Mile 81, In The Tall Grass and A Face In The Crowd are offered only as audio and Kindle products.

With a twice a day 45 minute commute, audio books are nearly always sliding around my passenger seat. In autumn, on purpose I avoid the interstates and take two lane highways.  I pass small churches and their neighboring cemeteries, forests preparing for winter, pumpkin vendors and harvested fields. I slow down. I listen to stories and ponder mother nature, the departed, and the liturgy .

Monday, October 21, 2013

New and Noteworthy--- Did John Brown Get What He Wanted? An Emancipation Army With Armed African Americans?

To Raise Up a Nation: John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and the Making of a Free Country, William S. King, Westholme Publishing,  664 pages, 40 b/w illustrations and maps, $35.00.

From The Publisher:  Drawing on decades of research, and demonstrating remarkable command of a great range of primary sources, William S. King has written an important history of African Americans’ own contributions and points of crossracial cooperation to end slavery in America. Beginning with the civil war along the border of Kansas and Missouri, the author traces the remarkable life of John Brown and the personal support for his ideas from elite New England businessmen, intellectuals such as Emerson and Thoreau, and African Americans, including his confidant, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman.
Throughout, King links events that contributed to the growing antipathy in the North toward slavery and the South’s concerns for its future, including Nat Turner’s insurrection, the Amistad affair, the Fugitive Slave law, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the Dred Scott decision. The author also effectively describes the debate within the African American community as to whether the U.S. Constitution was colorblind or if emigration was the right course for the future of blacks in America.
Following Brown’s execution after the failed raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859, King shows how Brown’s vision that only a clash of arms would eradicate slavery was set into motion after the election of Abraham Lincoln.

Once the Civil War erupted on the heels of Brown’s raid, the author relates how black leaders, white legislators, and military officers vigorously discussed the use of black manpower for the Union effort as well as plans for the liberation of the “veritable Africa” within the southern United States. Following the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863, recruitment of black soldiers increased and by war’s end they made up nearly ten percent of the Union army, and contributed to many important victories.

To Raise Up a Nation: John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and the Making of a Free Country is a sweeping history that explains how the destruction of American slavery was not directed primarily from the counsels of local and national government and military men, but rather through the grassroots efforts of extraordinary men and women. As King notes, the Lincoln administration ultimately armed black Americans, as John Brown had attempted to do, and their role was a vital part in the defeat of slavery.

Blurb: “In his fast-paced and deeply researched To Raise Up a Nation, William S. King narrates the coming of the Civil War, the war itself, and the emancipation process, through the intertwined lives of John Brown and Frederick Douglass. King’s stimulating, well-written account draws upon telling anecdotes and pen portraits to document America’s dramatic story from Harper’s Ferry to Appomattox, a drama personified by the lives of Brown and Douglass."  John David Smith, Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of American History, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and author of Lincoln and the U.S. Colored Troops.

CWL:  As the historiography grows and as schools of historical thought reveal the stereotypes used to misrepresent John Brown, King possibly completes the circle to what people in 1859 understood Brown to be and what Brown himself claimed to be: a captain without a company of soldiers, in an army that was yet to be raised, fighting for country that was still being formed. CWL is  looking forward to several days with To Raise Up a Nation: John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and the Making of a Free Country.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New and Noteworthy---Allegheny County, Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, Local History At Its Best

Those Who Fought: Allegheny County, Pa., and the Gettysburg Campaign, Arthur B. Fox, Mechling Bookbindery,  202 pages, softbound; $19.95.

From The Publisher: The first book that specifically recognizes the role of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania in the Battle of Gettysburg and honors the local soldiers who fought there. Although thousands of books and articles have been written about the Battle of Gettysburg, nothing specifically regarding the role of Allegheny County and the men who served has ever been published—until now. In his third book on western Pennsylvania’s involvement with the American Civil War, Pittsburgh historian Arthur B. Fox acknowledges the contributions of, and demonstrates his appreciation for, the local participants, past andpresent, in the many aspects the Gettysburg Campaign.  Those Who Fought: Allegheny County, Pa., and the Gettysburg Campaign is not simply another study or a re-interpretation of these battles. Instead, it is a commemoration of the courage, valor and sacrifice of Allegheny County soldiers who fought in the largest and deadliest battle of the Civil War.

Arthur Fox’s passion for Gettysburg history is evident in the details: lists, descriptions, monuments and vignettes, snippets of regimental records and battle reports—yet he brings it all to life through a wealth of little known, human interest stories. Allegheny County, represented by several thousand soldiers during the battle, makes up the majority of those stories. One of the most significant is that of Allegheny County’s only Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Gettysburg: Private Casper Carlisle (shown on the book’s cover).

In Those Who Fought, Fox delivers the most comprehensive narrative of this local hero. Among these compelling stories, the author documents the region’s impact on the battle with additional fascinating
information and images:

• Gettysburg reunions
• Care of the wounded at Camp Letterman; area physicians who volunteered to treat the Gettysburg wounded
• History, placement, and photos of area Civil War monuments
• Local contemporary groups and individuals dedicated to preserving the Allegheny County area’s
• Civil War legacy
• Numerous references and online sources; documentation from informants in letters and diaries
• Over 60 B&W and color photographs, several previously unpublished
• Images of paintings by Larry Smail, The Wheatfield: Whirlpool of Death, and by James Horton, of Casper Carlisle’s heroics near the Peach Orchard.

To begin all of this is the enlightening forward by Tom McMillan, Vice President of Communications for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and his interest and devotion to the battlefield, driven by the knowledge that several of his ancestors fought in the Gettysburg Wheatfield. Revealed later in the book is the surprise connection Fox discovered he had with McMillan’s ancestors.

About the Author:

Arthur Fox, a Dormont resident, received B.A.s in history and anthropology (specialty in archaeology) from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.A. in public history from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Fox has published more than 50 articles and is best known for his books
Pittsburgh During the American Civil War, 1860-1865 and Our Honored Dead: Allegheny County During the American Civil War. Fox formerly taught U.S. and Pittsburgh history at the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University and LaRoche College. For the last 14 years, he has been a permanent part-time assistant professor of world, U.S. and Canadian geography at Community College of Allegheny County, Allegheny Campus. He served in the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet during the Vietnam War.

Contributor John Haltigan, an Allison Park resident, graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with a B.A. in history. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Haltigan worked for more than 30 years as a personnel specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Since his retirement, he has been an active volunteer at the Aspinwall Divison of the Pittsburgh VA Medical Center, where he has interviewed a number of World War II veterans for the Veterans History Project. Art and John began their collaboration after meeting several years ago at the VA Medical Center in Aspinwall, Pennsylvania.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New And Noteworthhy---Inside Your Museum; The Smithsonian's Civil War Collection

Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection, Neil Kagan and Stephen G. Hyslop, editors, Hugh Talman, photographer, Smithsonian Books, 368 pp., profusely illustrated, object list, index, $40.00.

In 150 slim chapters, beginning with the Smithsonian before the Civil War to the creation of the Lincoln penny, some very remarkable objects and their stories are revealed in Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection. The Institution was a creature of antebellum politics. Slave holding Congressmen resisted the passage of the 1846 Congressional bill to establish the Smithsonian Institution. Yet the future president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, was the regent of the Smithsonian from 1847 to 1851; his circa 1855 photographic portrait graces an early page of the book. During the war years the Smithsonian Secretary was Joseph Henry who was a vocal advocate of slavery; he and his family lived the the building that included a museum, a library and other facilities. Henry refused to fly the U.S. flag over the building. He believed that the flag was an invitation for Confederates to fire on the building and its neighborhood.

Generally, the chapters consist of one page of  narrative and one to three pages of photographs of objects.  For example Chapter 10, John Brown, has one page of narrative divided into two columns; between the columns is a photo of one 950 pikes "that Brown acquired to arm slaves incited to rebel by his rat on Harper's Ferry." The second page is a photographic image of Brown [not bearded] taken in the mid-1850s by Augustus Washington, and African American. The third and fourth pages includes a small photographic image of Brown [bearded] taken in 1858, photos of weapons used by Brown in Kansas [44. caliber Sharps rifle, 52 caliber Sharps carbine, .31 caliber six -shot revolver] and August 10 1857 personal letter from John Brown to George Stearns regarding funds that bought the arms used in Kansas.

The150 chapter capture hundreds of unique items in the Smithsonian's collection. Chapters such as The Fire-Eaters' War, the Wartime Patent Office, the Telegraph at War, and Appomattox Paroles offer unique documents, devices and and military accouterments.  Indeed, there is something for everyone in Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection.  Currency and postage stamp printing plates, children toys, a soldier's photographic image in a hardtack frame, a variety of telegraph keys, two intact Minie balls that collided in flight, printing presses that accompanied armies, and a small wooden drum that held slips of paper which identified Union men eligible for the military draft  are just a few of the hundreds of objects that tell a stories in Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection. Some are amazingly unique. Federal soldier Solomon Conn of Company B, 87th Indiana purchase on May 1, 1863 in Nashville a violin to share with others because he never in his life learned to play the instrument but, its back he inscribed all the battles in he carried the fiddle. The entire back is full. in 1988 his heirs gave the instrument to the Smithsonian Institution. 

Readers of all ages will find delights, new information and unique images between the covers of  Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

New and Noteworthy---How Arkansas,Missouri and Mississippi Were Won: Counter-Guerrilla Operations by 5th Illinois Cavalry

The Prairie Boys Go To War: The Fifth Illinois Cavalry, Rhonda M. Kohl, Southern Illinois University Press, 301 pages, 22 illustrations and maps, bibliographic notes, bibliography, index, 2013, $35.95.

The Trans-Mississippi Theatre probably does not receive the attention from scholars and buffs that it deserves.  Without fanfare and notoriety, essential work  was done by the Federal cavalry throughout the four years of war. The 5th Illinois Cavalry was organized and trained throughout the late summer and fall of 1861and by February 1862 they were serving in Missouri. The regiment became riven by internal dissent. The differences stemmed from religious, political and geographic diversities. Roughly 60% of the troopers were from northern and central Illinois and generally Republicans; about 40% hailed from southern Illinois and generally were Democrats. Those families from southern Illinois had migrated generations before from Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and the Carolinas.  In many instances politics, religion, family incomes, social values and education separated the officers from the enlisted men

Throughout 1862 they fought and chase guerrillas throughout southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. In the late fall the 5th Illinois left Helena, Arkansas to participate in Grant's late 1862 and first half of 1863 campaign to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi. Keeping Confederate guerrillas out of Grant's path and guarding the paths of supply to the Federal army were the regiment's primary tasks. During the latter half of 1863 and until the summer of 1862, the regiment raided central Mississippi and performed garrison duties.  Constantly the 5th Illinois Cavalry suffered from poor leadership, low morale, camp discipline and health issues including alcoholism, typhoid, malaria, and typhus.

Rhonda M. Kohl's work is unique in that it combines military and cultural history with a narrative that is both precise and enjoyable. She has balanced military adventures with explosive cultural issues. There are varieties of racism, religion, and politics contained in the soldiers' lives. Kohl sets aside stereotypes and offers a complex but accessible narrative of civilian soldiers in a civil war. Her training in anthropology is a strength. Her deeply researched The Prairie Boys Go To War: The Fifth Illinois Cavalry relies upon diaries, letters and memoirs to reveal the rubbed-raw emotions of the cavalrymen.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

New and Noteworthy---The Mary Lincoln Enigma: A Kaleidoscope for Mary Lincoln's Life

The Mary Lincoln Enigma: Historians on America's Most Controversial First Lady, Frank J. Williams and Michael Burkhimer, editors, Southern Illinois University Press, 33 illustrations, 376 pp., bibliographic notes, index, 2012, $32.95.

Fourteen historians tackle the popular misunderstandings associated with Mary Todd Lincoln. In both popular culture and academic circles, the First Lady, verifiers and sympathizers. The Mary Lincoln Enigma: Historians on America's Most Controversial First Lady offers a variety of interpretations of Abraham Lincoln's wife, who had a role in both politics and society.

Mary Lincoln as a sibling, as a child in a household with slaves, a a socialite and hostess, as a mother with sons and as as a European traveler are considered. Her depiction by novelists and graphic artistic are offered. Each of the authors have written books on the Lincolns.Each of the essays are between 20 and 40 pages.  The authors' narratives are direct and to the point, neither meandering  nor discursive.

In is not necessary for readers to have an Abraham or Mary Lincoln biography under their belt. No insider information is needed to enjoy The Mary Lincoln Enigma: Historians on America's Most Controversial First Lady. Several of the essays have appeared in other publications and some may have been portions of other chapters in other books. Overall, The Mary Lincoln Enigma functions as a kaleidoscope for Mary Lincoln's life.

News---Plantation Quest: Re-enactor Sleeps In The Beds of The Slaves

One Man's Epic Quest To Visit Every Former Slave Dwelling in the United States: Joseph McGill, A Descendant of Slaves, Has Devoted His Life To Ensuring The Preservation Of These Historic Sites, Tony Horwitz, Smithsonian Magazine, October, 2013.

At a bygone plantation in coastal Georgia, Joseph McGill Jr. creaks open a door to inspect his quarters for the night. He enters a cramped cell with an ancient fireplace and bare walls mortared with oyster shell. There is no furniture, electricity or plumbing.“I was expecting a dirt floor, so this is nice,” McGill says, lying down to sample the hard pine planks. “Might get a decent sleep tonight.”

Some travelers dream of five-star hotels, others of visiting seven continents. McGill’s mission: to sleep in every former slave dwelling still standing in the United States. Tonight’s stay, in a cabin on Georgia’s Ossabaw Island, will be his 41st such lodging. McGill is 52, with a desk job and family, and isn’t fond of sleeping rough. A descendant of slaves, he also recognizes that re-inhabiting places of bondage “seems strange and upsetting to some people.” But he embraces the discomfort, both physical and psychological, because he wants to save slave dwellings and the history they hold before it’s too late.  “Americans tend to focus on the ‘big house,’ the mansion and gardens, and neglect the buildings out back,” he says. “If we lose slave dwellings, it’s that much easier to forget the slaves themselves.”

A century ago, the whitewashed cabins of former slaves remained as ubiquitous a feature of the Southern landscape as Baptist churches or Confederate monuments. Many of these dwellings were still inhabited by the families of the four million African-Americans who had gained freedom in the Civil War. But as blacks migrated en masse from the South in the 20th century, former slave quarters—most of which were cheaply built from wood—quickly decayed or were torn down. Others were repurposed as toolsheds, garages or guest cottages. Of those that remain, many are now endangered by neglect, and by suburban and resort development in areas like the Georgia and Carolina Low Country, a lush region that once had the densest concentration of plantations and enslaved people in the South.

McGill has witnessed this transformation firsthand as a native South Carolinian who works for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Charleston. But it wasn’t his day job that led him to sleep in endangered slave cabins. Rather, it was his weekends as a Civil War re-enactor, wearing the uniform of the 54th Massachusetts, the black unit featured in the movie Glory. Donning a period uniform and camping out, often at antebellum sites, “made the history come alive for me,” he says. Re-enacting the 54th has also drawn public attention to the pivotal role of black soldiers in the Civil War. So in 2010, when Magnolia Plantation near Charleston sought to publicize restoration of its neglected slave cabins, McGill proposed sleeping in one of them.

“I was a little spooked,” he says of his overnight stay. “I kept getting up hearing noises. It was just the wind blowing limbs against the cabin.” His simple bedroll, laid on the hard floor, also didn’t make for a comfortable night. But the sleepover succeeded in drawing media attention to the slave cabins, which have since been opened to the public. So McGill began compiling a list of other such structures and seeking out their owners, to ask if he could sleep in them.

Source and Full Text Continued at Smithsonian Magazine, October 2013

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

New and Noteworthy---Connecticut Yankees At Antietam: A Fascinating and Very Humane Segment of Civil War History

Connecticut Yankees At Antietam, John Banks, History Press, 192pp., bibliographic notes, bibliography, index, profusely illustrated, $19.99.

Banks' Connecticut Yankees At Antietam offers compelling stories of over 30 Connecticut citizens who performed bravely, or merely adequately, or deserted at the Battle of Antietam. Delving into pension records, collections, manuscripts, reports, regimental histories, newspapers, Banks sets forth brief biographies of unique individuals who typify Union soldiers, nurses and undertakers.

The soldiers are members of the 8th, 11th, 14th and 16th Connecticut infantry and their stories are told by their letters, diaries, pension files, photographs and artifacts they left behind. The author includes the story of Maria Hall, a nurse at the Smoketown Hospital, who was one of the many women rejected by Dorthea Dix but found her way to serve the wounded on the battlefield. Also, Banks offers the story of William Roberts, a Connecticut undertaker, who travelled in October to the September battlefield in order to locate and disinter eight bodies and return them to their families. 

At times Connecticut Yankees At Antietam may be grim. Banks has collected instances of amputations made by manual chain saws, survivors of wounds that did not receive aid for nearly 48 hours. The instances of wounding, deaths and imprisonment of fathers and sons are many. Banks is careful not to carry the stories beyond the evidence provided by the primary documents available; there is no speculation of probable endings in the book. Terry Reimer of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, Bob Zeller of the Center for Civil War Photography, Ted Alexander and Stephanie Gray of the Antietam National Military Park and many local Connecticut historians and reenactors gave Banks a hand in bringing forward the fascinating and very humane segment of Civil War history.

New--Fiction: Stonewall Goes West And, Of Course, Wins

Stonewall Goes West: A Novel Of The Civil War, R. E. Thomas, Black and Gold Media, 238 pages, 2013, $12.99.

R. E. Thomas' Stonewall Goes West offers an intriguing notion. Jackson is a corps commander at Gettysburg. The July 3 Grand Assault fails and the Federal Second Corps counter-attacks. With those conditions set, the novel opens in October 1863 and the Bristoe Station campaign becomes a Confederate victory. The Federals receive 7,000 casualties, Warren is killed, Webb is wounded and captured, Hays is killed and Sykes commits suicide. Braxton Bragg's army is sent reelling away from Chattanooga. Who can save the deteriorating situation? Stonewall Jackson goes west.

It not easy for Tom Jackson in the West. Sherman is not Meade; the Army of the Tennessee is not the Army of the Potomac. Jackson has to accommodate himself to Hardee, Cheatham and Polk. But Jackson has the Army of Tennessee and Cleburn's division to rely upon. Within sixty days Jackson has the Army of Tennessee at Nashville and Sherman never enters Georgia.

Thomas' work is not quite counter factual history; it does not examine realistic alternatives and possible outcomes. Stonewall Goes West is not quite in the same vein at Gingrich's Gettysburg and Grant Comes East; it does not stay within historic parameters. The novel is not quite like Harry Turtledove's works that puts the characters in an historic environment in which their actions seems inevitable.   R. E. Thomas' Stonewall Goes West may be enjoyed as a fanciful collision of personalities and conditions. He does have some characters who are in the rank and file and not on horses. Unfortunately there is very little suspense in the story. Stonewall and his lieutenants always win.

New and Noteworthy---Civil War Fiction: The Hunley, The Civil War's Secret Weapon

The Hunley: The Civil War's Secret Weapon, Larry C. Kerr, Melange Books, 2012, 305 pp., $15.95.

The CSS submarine H.L. Hunley plays a small part in in the Civil War but has a larger role in history. Revealing the dangers and advantages of undersea warfare, the CSS Hunley was the first to sink an enemy warship, the USS Housatonic. The current historic record is not explicit as to whether the submarine was entirely submerged during the assault. It cost 21 sailors their lives during the experimentation and assault; the ship sank three times. Constructed at Mobile, Alabama, shipped by railroad to Charleston, South Carolina, the Hunley was lost on February 17, 1864. After decades of search, the Hunley's remains were located in 1995 and recovered in 2000. It now rests in a marine labratory in Charleston.

Kerr employes quick, conversational style dialog to move the story forward from April 1861 to February 1864. The author does not provide fanicful developments to heighten the narrative or suspense. Readers who are familar with the Hunley's story will be well satified. Those who are encountering the story for the first time will be compelled to track down the original TNT Network's 1999 creative film, The Hunley. Readers seeking toto learn more about the submarine, the heroic individuals who died with it are well served by current stewards of the ship and its museum. The Friends of the Hunley offer a very fine website. The website is a fine companion to Kerr's enjoyable, fact-based novel.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

News---Gardner Photo of Gettysburg Addess May Contain Lincoln, But Not The One You've Seen

I Found Real Abraham Lincoln! Armchair Historian Disputes 2007 Claim, Michael Sheridan, September 24, 2013.

Armchair historian disputes 2007 claim, says he's found the actual 16th President in famed Gettysburg Address photo. Assistant professor and animator Christopher Oakley, who is working with his students on a Virtural Lincoln Porject to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, claims his Lincoln is the correct one. He never believed the claim six years ago that focused on another person in the same Alexander Gardner photo.

They got the wrong man.
An animator and teacher at a North Carolina college says the man believed to be President Abraham Lincoln on horseback in a famed photo taken 150 years ago isn’t him. Instead, the slain 16th President is actually farther to the right. The “Where’s Waldo”-like discovery by Christopher Oakley, an assistant professor of new media at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, was revealed Tuesday. And his potentially historic find came completely by accident. “I was actually looking for William Seward,” Lincoln’s Secretary of State, the 51-year-old told the Daily News.

Oakley was studying the image as part of the university’s Virtual Lincoln Project, a computer animated, interactive 3D film that celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in November. It was during an early morning examination in March of the image captured by famed photographer Alexander Gardner that he came across the man he immediately knew to be Abraham Lincoln.  “You ever have that feeling that you’re about to fall out of bed, and your heart is racing?” he said, describing how he felt the moment he saw that stovepipe hat.

Link to Full Text: New York Daily News September 24, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

News----October 18 Release of 12 Years A Slave Film; the Book Has Its Own History

An Escape From Slavery, Now A Movie, Has Long Intrigued Historians, Michael Cieply, New York Times, September 22, 2013.
In the age of “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” questions about the accuracy of nonfiction films have become routine. With “12 Years a Slave,” based on a memoir published 160 years ago, the answers are anything but routine. Written by John Ridley and directed by Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave,” a leading contender for honors during the coming movie awards season, tells a story that was summarized in the 33-word title of its underlying material.
Published by Derby & Miller in 1853, the book was called Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853, From a Cotton Plantation Near the Red River, in Louisiana. The real Solomon Northup — and years of scholrly research attest to his reality — fought an unsuccessful legal battle against his abductors. But he enjoyed a lasting triumph that began with the sale of some 30,000 copies of his book when it first appeared, and continued with its republication in 1968 by the historian Sue Eakin.
Speaking on Friday, Mr. Ridley said he decided simply to “stick with the facts” in adapting Northup’s book for the film, which is set for release on Oct. 18 by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Mr. Ridley said he was helped by voluminous footnotes and documentation that were included with Ms. Eakin’s edition of the book. For decades, however, scholars have been trying to untangle the literal truth of Mr. Northup’s account from the conventions of the antislavery literary genre.
The difficulties are detailed in “The Slave’s Narrative,” a compilation of essays that was published by the Oxford University Press in 1985, and edited by Charles T. Davis and Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Mr. Gates is now credited as a consultant to the film, and he edited a recent edition of “Twelve Years a Slave.”) “When the abolitionists invited an ex-slave to tell his story of experience in slavery to an antislavery convention, and when they subsequently sponsored the appearance of that story in print, they had certain clear expectations, well understood by themselves and well understood by the ex-slave, too,” wrote one scholar, James Olney.
Mr. Olney was explaining pressures that created a certain uniformity of content in the popular slave narratives, with recurring themes that involved insistence on sometimes questioned personal identity, harrowing descriptions of oppression, and open advocacy for the abolitionist cause.  In his essay, called I Was Born: Slave Narratives, Their Status as Autobiography and as Literature, Mr. Olney contended that Solomon Northup’s real voice was usurped by David Wilson, the white “amanuensis” to whom he dictated his tale, and who gave the book a preface in the same florid style that informs the memoir.
“We may think it pretty fine writing and awfully literary, but the fine writer is clearly David Wilson rather than Solomon Northup,” Mr. Olney wrote.

Text Source and Full Text Continued at
New York Times, September 22, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

New and Noteworthy--Marrow of Tragedy: The Civil War As a Medical Laboratory

Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War, Margaret Humphreys, Johns Hopkins University Press; 400 pages; $34.95

From The Publisher:  The Civil War was the greatest health disaster the United States has ever experienced, killing more than a million Americans and leaving many others invalided or grieving. Poorly prepared to care for wounded and sick soldiers as the war began, Union and Confederate governments scrambled to provide doctoring and nursing, supplies, and shelter for those felled by warfare or disease.

During the war soldiers suffered from measles, dysentery, and pneumonia and needed both preventive and curative food and medicine. Family members—especially women—and governments mounted organized support efforts, while army doctors learned to standardize medical thought and practice. Resources in the north helped return soldiers to battle, while Confederate soldiers suffered hunger and other privations and healed more slowly, when they healed at all.

In telling the stories of soldiers, families, physicians, nurses, and administrators, historian Margaret Humphreys concludes that medical science was not as limited at the beginning of the war as has been portrayed. Medicine and public health clearly advanced during the war—and continued to do so after military hostilities ceased.

The Author: Margaret Humphreys is the Josiah Charles Trent Professor in the History of Medicine, a professor of history, and a professor of medicine at Duke University. She is the author of Intensely Human: The Health of the Black Soldier in the American Civil War and Malaria: Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States, also published by Johns Hopkins
Blurbs: "A consistently engaging overview of Civil War medicine in its every aspect. Based on careful research and mastery of an abundant literature, Marrow of Tragedy provides a powerful depiction of a subject revealing of a dynamic and increasingly complex American society." Charles Rosenberg, Harvard University

"If there is one study that shows us the significance of sickness in the Civil War, and the attempts to define and counter it, this is it. With admirable scholarship and an eye for key turning points, Humphreys has written a compelling history of the war’s medical costs and achievements." Steven M. Stowe, Indiana University)

"Full of fresh perspectives, thoughtful insights, and judicious re-assessments, this sweeping synthesis by an outstanding historian will fundamentally change the way we think about Civil War medical history. For scholars and general readers alike, Marrow of Tragedy is a must-read book." James C. Mohr, University of Oregon

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

News--- Chamberlain's MOH Turns Up At Massachusetts Yard Sale

Joshua Chamberlain's Original 1893 Medal of Honor Found At Church Sale,  Seth Koenig, BDN State, September 10, 2013

One of the most prestigious medals earned by one of Maine’s most decorated sons was discovered at a church sale and turned over to a Brunswick-based organization for safe keeping, the group announced Monday.

The U.S. Army Medal of Honor was awarded to Civil War hero Joshua Chamberlain — who would go on to become president of Bowdoin College and governor of Maine — in 1893 for “distinguished gallantry” in the Battle of Gettysburg 30 years earlier.The artifact was given to the Pejepscot Historical Society, which owns the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum in Brunswick, by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, the organization announced Monday afternoon. The individual who came to own the medal found it in the back of a book he had purchased “several years ago” at a sale held by First Parish Church in Duxbury, Mass., according to the society.

Chamberlain’s last surviving descendant, granddaughter Rosamond Allen, left her estate to that church upon her death 13 years ago. “Though it seems almost too good to be true, we are confident that we are now in possession of Joshua Chamberlain’s original Medal of Honor,” said Pejepscot Historical Society Director Jennifer Blanchard in a Monday statement. “All of the experts we’ve consulted believe it to be authentic, and we are tremendously honored to return the medal to Chamberlain’s home in Brunswick. The timing couldn’t be better, since the medal was awarded for Chamberlain’s distinguished service in the Battle of Gettysburg, whose 150th anniversary we mark in 2013. Our gratitude to the donor who discovered this treasure, and knew its importance to us and to the state of Maine, knows no bounds.”

Chamberlain was a Brewer native who later attended Bowdoin College and led the Union Army’s 20th Maine Infantry Regiment in its crucial defense of the Little Round Top high-ground at Gettysburg, a stand considered by many historians to be one of the defining moments of the Civil War. Bowdoin College has in its possession a 1904 Army Medal of Honor that belonged to Chamberlain, representing an updated design of the award authorized by Congress at the time, according to the Pejepscot Historical Society.

The Legislature allowed recipients to keep their previous versions of the medal as long as they did not display both at the same time, and the 1893 artifact now in the society’s collection represents the earlier award. Blanchard worked with experts at the Maine State Museum, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and the Department of the Army’s Awards and Decorations Branch to confirm the medal’s authenticity, according to the society’s Monday announcement.

“Based upon the documentation submitted and the historical documentation available to this office, we are able to confirm that [the] Pejepscot Historical Society medallion is the 1862 United States Army Medal of Honor design,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael A. Ries, assistant chief of the Awards and Decorations Branch, in a statement. “It is an honor to authenticate the Medal of Honor bestowed upon Colonel Chamberlain for his extraordinary heroism on July 2, 1863.”
Historians throughout Maine lauded the find and donation. Maine State Museum Director Bernard Fishman in a statement called it “one of the most interesting discovery and donation stories on record.”

Text And Image Source; Full Text Continued at BDN State September 10, 2013

Monday, September 09, 2013

News: Job Open At Gettysburg NMP: Superintendent

Gettysburg Battlefied Boss Announces Retirement, Mark Walters, The Evening Sun, September 5, 2013

After  40 years of service with the National Park Service, Bob Kirby, superintendent of the Gettysburg National Military Park, is retiring at the end of the year.

Kirby made his announcement at Thursday night's Gettysburg National Military Park Advisory Commission semiannual meeting. Kirby, who took over at Gettysburg in March 2010, will leave after accomplishing a litany of long-term projects including the demolition of the old Cyclorama building, selling the Electric Map and the acquisition of the Gettysburg Armory. Kirby said he would define his tenure at Gettysburg as being the guy who worked with a brilliant group of people. He simply was smart enough to get out of their way, he said. “My predecessor did a great job helping get this place built,” Kirby said of the museum and visitor center. “He got a lot of great stuff started. It was the logical step to smooth out the rough spots and keep a lot of that going.”

Kirby, a 64-year-old Freedom Township resident, said he intends to stick around an area that he loves. “This place has everything I'm looking for and I've lived all over the country,” Kirby said.
With the sesquicentennial of the Gettysburg battle approaching as he took over the superintendent position, he anticipated the challenge, he said. “This is the Cadillac of cultural parks,” Kirby said. “Coming here was a combination of challenge and ego and just a love for this stuff.”

Some have considered the superintendent at Gettysburg as the pinnacle of national park ranger positions and a dream job to take as one nears retirement. Kirby said that is part of the ego aspect. You spend a career climbing a ladder and to say you ended your career at such a great place that is the premier cultural landscape park,” Kirby said. Kirby, who has worked at a plethora of other parks around the country, said that while some took longer than others, he and his staff was able to achieve the goals he established each year. The Cyclorama, Kirby said, took two years. “That's part of the process,” he said. “These are process-ladened things that take a huge amount of work.”

He said he is still hopeful the federal government can find a way to pass legislation that would bring the Lincoln Train Station on Gettysburg's Carlisle Street within the boundary of the national park by Nov. 19, the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address.
“It's hard to say what's going to happen,” Kirby said. “Congress is always distracted but it's a noncontroversial piece of legislation supported by (Pennsylvania) Congressman Scott Perry and Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey.” Katie Lawhon, spokesperson for the National Park Service, said taking on so many projects and being a part of the Civil War 150th commemoration is fantastic, but that it is especially fun with a great leader like Kirby.

Text and Image Source and Story continued at The Evening Sun, September 5, 2013.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New and Noteworthy---- Did Blundering Politicans Make The Civil War Inevitable?

The Republic in Crisis, 1848-1861, John Ashworth, Cambridge University Press, 2012. 217 pp. $75.00 (cloth), $22.99 (paper) and  A Political Nation: New Directions in Mid-Nineteenth-Century American Political History, Gary W. Gallagher, Rachel A. Shelden, eds., University of Virginia Press, 2012. 272 pp. $40.00 (cloth),
Reviewed by Matthew E. Mason (Brigham Young University)
Published on H-CivWar (August, 2013)
"Reading these two books together with an eye to Civil War scholarship is in a way an exercise in déjà vu. For these volumes offer versions, if attenuated and nuanced ones, of the old historiographical debate between those who held that the Civil War was an "irrepressible conflict" and those who argued that it was a "blundering generation"--not underlying sectional differences or grand forces--that caused the war. But besides the persistence of this debate, there is no way in which reading these two volumes feels like being caught in a time warp. For all their appreciation for traditional political history, both books, especially Gary W. Gallagher and Rachel A. Shelden's edited collection, draw productively on and model the latest developments in American political history." 
"Though very different in origins, purpose, and nature, these two books will in their own way provide current and future scholars of the politics of the Civil War era with plenty to consider and discuss."
This combined review of these two books is continued at H-Net Civ War.

Monday, August 26, 2013

New And Noteworthy: Slavery, Secession, Surrender and the Second American Political Party System

A Political Nation: New Directions in Mid-Nineteenth-Century American Political History, Gary Gallagher and Rachel Sheldon, editors, University of Virginia Press, 272 pages, $40.00.

Publisher's Description:  This impressive collection joins the recent outpouring of exciting new work on American politics and political actors in the mid-nineteenth century. For several generations, much of the scholarship on the political history of the period from 1840 to 1877 has carried a theme of failure; after all, politicians in the antebellum years failed to prevent war, and those of the Civil War and Reconstruction failed to take advantage of opportunities to remake the nation. Moving beyond these older debates, the essays in this volume ask new questions about mid-nineteenth-century American politics and politicians.

In A Political Nation, the contributors address the dynamics of political parties and factions, illuminate the presence of consensus and conflict in American political life, and analyze elections, voters, and issues. In addition to examining the structures of the United States Congress, state and local governments, and other political organizations, this collection emphasizes political leaders—those who made policy, ran for office, influenced elections, and helped to shape American life from the early years of the Second Party System to the turbulent period of Reconstruction.

The book moves chronologically, beginning with an antebellum focus on how political actors behaved within their cultural surroundings. The authors then use the critical role of language, rhetoric, and ideology in mid-nineteenth-century political culture as a lens through which to reevaluate the secession crisis. The collection closes with an examination of cultural and institutional influences on politicians in the Civil War and Reconstruction years. Stressing the role of federalism in understanding American political behavior, A Political Nation underscores the vitality of scholarship on mid-nineteenth-century American politics.

Erik B. Alexander, University of Tennessee, Knoxville · Jean Harvey Baker, Goucher College · William J. Cooper, Louisiana State University · Daniel W. Crofts, The College of New Jersey · William W. Freehling, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities · Gary W. Gallagher, University of Virginia · Sean Nalty, University of Virginia · Mark E. Neely Jr., Pennsylvania State University · Rachel A. Shelden, Georgia College and State University · Brooks D. Simpson, Arizona State University · J. Mills Thornton, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
"Separately and together, these essays make a persuasive argument for a return to traditional political history. Each contributor in the collection draws on the best of the extant literature in his or her field/bailiwick, synthesizes it, and suggests either new avenues for exploration or ways to think about and bring coherence to a field (political history) that has become fragmented if not diffuse. Incredibly well written and accessible," Michael A. Morrison, Purdue University.

"Leading interpreters of America's mid-nineteenth-century political crisis join with several younger historians in this collection of insightful and provocative essays. Introducing new issues and topics as well as reexamining some of the more enduring ones, A Political Nation will be of great interest to all those who, quite understandably, find the Civil War era intriguing," Michael Perman, author of Pursuit of Unity: A Political History of the American South  

The Authors: Gary W. Gallagher is John L. Nau III Professor of Hisgtory at the University of Virginia and most recently the author of The Union War.   Rachel A. Shelden is Assistant Professor of American History at Georgia State College and State University.




Friday, August 09, 2013

New and Noteworthy---Gettysburg's July 1 No Man's Land: The Emanual Harmon Farm On Willoughby's Run

Beyond The Run: The Emanuel Harmon Farm At Gettysburg, Andrew I. Dalton, Ten Roads Publishing, 126 pages, 14 maps, 97 illustrations, 3 appendices, end notes, index, bibliography, $11.95.

The Emanuel Harman Farm property, located on Gettysburg's July 1 battlefield, is now protected as part of Gettysburg National Military Park. The Gettysburg Country Club and Golf Course went bankrupt a few years ago and the Adams County Conservancy purchased it.Situated between the Chambersburg Pike and the Fairfield Road, and bordered on the east by Willoughby's Run, the farm today is bisected by the Old Mill Road. It became the Confederate assault path for the brigades of Archer, Brockenbrough, Pettigrew, Scales, Lane, and Perrin as they engaged Gamble's, Stone's Meredith's and Biddle's brigades.

Andrew I. Dalton in Beyond The Run: The Emanuel Harmon Farm At Gettysburg relies upon the Gettysburg National Military Park's library holdings, in particular the Harman Farm reports of Kathleen G. Harrison, Donald R. Heiges, Jacob M. Sheads and many letter collections.  He has consulted the manuscript collections of the Adams County Historical Society, 16 assorted newspaper archives, and dozens of books and articles. The farm's history is told in well organized segments: the 1790-1863 farm, the July 1863 battle and destruction of the farm, the 1865-1947 Katalysine Springs Bottled Water and Hotel industry, and the 1947-2011 Country Club of which President Eisenhower was a member.

Beyond The Run: The Emanuel Harmon Farm At Gettysburg's strengths include its reliance on Amelia Harman's recollections of watching the battle, being ordered from the house as it burns, and her reliance upon Confederate charity during July 2-4.  Confederate soldier's recollections of their assaults through the farm and across Willoughby's Run are frequently offered. Dalton offers an insightful description of post-battle and post-war Gettysburg whose residents quickly embraced visitors to the historic fields. Overall, Dalton's work is a fine example of local history done well.

Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia: The Jaws of Defeat and Victory

The Battle of Cedar Creek: Victory From The Jaws of Defeat; Jonathan A. Noyalas, History Press, 125 pp., 32 illustrations, 3 maps, bibliographic notes, index, $19.99.

Fought October 19, 1864, Cedar Creek was the culminating battle of Confederate general Early's Shenandoah Valley Campaign. During the summer of 1864, the Army of Northern Virginia was being besieged at Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley had been invaded in May.  Lee sent the army's Second Corps under the command of Jubal Early to force the Federals from the valley and invade Maryland again for the third time.

Early drove the Federals out of the valley and advanced into Maryland during the first days of July.  Grant sent troops to Washington D.C. to turn back the threat and then a month later sent additional troops under the command of Philip Sheridan to again invade the Shenandoah Valley and thoroughly route Confederate forces there. After a defeat at Fisher's Hill during September, Early's army appeared to be routed.

The North Fork of the Shenandoah River, the 2,900 feet peak of Massanutten Mountain and the environs of Strasburg were shields to hide a dawn attack by Early's troops on October 19. During the dawn to noon fighting, seven Union infantry divisions were forced from their camps and retreat several miles.  Numerous prisoners and cannons were captured. The assault began to deteriorate after the capture of the camps and before the assault enter Middletown.

John Noylas' The Battle of Cedar Creek: Victory From The Jaws of Defeat is a fine, though brief, introduction to the battle. Those who are quite familiar with the engagement will note the minimal descriptions of Gordon's night march over the north side of Massanutten Mountain and of the construction of the Federal earthworks. Strengths of the book include the last two chapters. Chapter 5 describes the differences between the actual and culturally enhanced story of Sheridan's Ride. Chapter 6 describes the post-war gatherings on the battlefield of the veterans who had fought there. Two of the three maps are by Blake Magner and are clear and uncluttered. Noteworthy is Noyalas' reliance of soldiers' accounts of the fighting.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

New and Noteworthy---A Nation Saved, A Cause Lost At Gettysburg

Confrontation At Gettysburg: A Nation Saved, A Cause Lost, John David Hoptak, History Press, 285 pp., chapter notes, 80 illustrations, 17 maps, order of battle, selected bibliography, index, $16.99.

Written for a broad market of those with American Civil War interests, Confrontation At Gettysburg: A Nation Saved, A Cause Lost is a clear and concise telling of the campaign and battle. It does not offer just July 1, 2,3 but the entire campaign from mid-May to mid-July. One of the strengths of Confrontation At Gettysburg: A Nation Saved, A Cause Lost is that it is thorough within its page limit. Recently, Allen Guelzo covered the campaign in 800 pages. Hoptak has written a well paced and colorful account that provides the essential facts and the compelling details of the campaign.

The illustrations include photographic portraits, pen and ink sketches, black and white newspaper illustrations and renditions of paintings,. Maps by Hal Jespersen and Mannie Gentile are distinguished by precision and clarity. Hoptak moves the story forward with both familiar and unique quotations by the participants. He has crafted a narrative that is similar to a well led tour of the battlefield. Confrontation At Gettysburg: A Nation Saved, A Cause Lost will likely stand the test of time and be in print for years after the sesquicentennial.

Off Topic Fiction---Rogue Island, Rhode Island and Relationships Between Lawyers and News Writers

Rouge Island: A Novel, Bruce DeSilva, Forge/Tom Doherty Associates Publishing, 2010,  302 pp., $24.99 hardcover, $14.99 trade paper cover.
From The Publisher: Liam Mulligan is as old school as a newspaper man gets. His beat is Providence, Rhode Island, and he knows every street and alley. He knows the priests and prostitutes, the cops and street thugs. He knows the mobsters and politicians--who are pretty much one and the same. Someone is systematically burning down the neighborhood Mulligan grew up in, people he knows and loves are perishing in the flames, and the public is on the verge of panic. With the police looking for answers in all the wrong places, and with the whole city of Providence on his back, Mulligan must find the hand that strikes the match.

From Publisher's Weekly:  DeSilva's lengthy career as a reporter for the Providence (R.I.) Journal has provided him with the writing skill and the in-depth knowledge of city room and cityscape so well displayed in this strong debut crime novel. It's also allowed him to create a totally believable protagonist in Liam Mulligan, a beleaguered journalist seeing his old neighborhood being destroyed by arson and his newspaper by reader disaffection. Mulligan's first-person narration is filled with emotion, not the least of which is his love-hate relationship with his city and state. And there are suspenseful moments of high tension.

From Book List: *Starred Review* Born and raised in the Mount Hope section of Providence, Rhode Island, journalist Liam Mulligan won’t simply report on the rash of arsons killing lifelong friends and loved ones in his old neighborhood. He wants to know more and launches an investigation, discovering a heavy-handed plot to own Mount Hope in order to redevelop it. Along the way, he’s threatened, beaten, arrested on suspicion of arson and murder, suspended from his newspaper, and targeted with a Mob contract on his life. Mulligan must turn to some unlikely allies to save his tired old neighborhood and secure justice. Rogue Island has everything a crime fan could want: a stubborn, street-smart hero with a snarky sense of humor; more than a baker’s dozen of engaging characters; a fast-paced plot; a noirish style; a realistic postmillennium newspaper setting; mean, pot-holed streets; and, best of all, a knowing portrait of a small city and a tiny state famous for inept government, jiggery-pokery, and corruption. Debut novelist DeSilva began a four-decade career in journalism as a reporter for the Providence Journal, and his take on the city and state is harsh but also affectionate, as when he describes graft as Rhode Island’s “leading service industry,” noting that “it comes in two varieties, good and bad, just like cholesterol.” This tremendously entertaining crime novel is definitely one of the best of the year. --Thomas Gaughan 
CWL:  DeSilva's writing style is short, quick and to the point, with lots of dialog and very few descriptive paragraphs.  The author develops characters in their conversations. The settings are a newspaper's offices, bars, grocery stores, fire engine houses, cars, police interrogation rooms and bedrooms.  Rogue Island accurately describes the slow demise of a metropolitan newspaper and a mill town. The main characters are interesting and somewhat unique.  Rogue Island is detective fiction in which the detection is performed by a print news writer.  Overall, a second novel with the same characters would be welcomed.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Off Topic ---Company D, 2nd Ranger Battalion In Its Own Words, In Europe, In WW2

Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc, The Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's toughest Mission and Led The Way Across Europe, Patrick K. O'Donnell, DaCapo Press, 320 pp., 2012, $26.99.

Patrick O'Donnell's Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc, The Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's toughest Mission and Led The Way Across Europe is a very dramatic account of the U.S. Army Rangers 1944 to 1945 combat history.  He has collected the Ranger's oral accounts of Pointe du Hoc, the Normandy breakout, and Hill 400 in Hurtgen Forest and has woven them into a vivid, well paced, suspenseful work of history.  Bravery nearly beyond belief and courage that nearly beyond endurance is a constant in these episodes.

The words of the soldiers of Company D, Second Ranger Battalion were transcribed by O'Donnell, himself a combat veteran.  He understands combat from a boots-on-the-ground perspective. Creeping artillery barrages, death by friendly fire, and deaths from sharpshooters are not unique single occurrences but regularly occur throughout the book. O'Donnell is also a masterful interviewer who is able to elicit candid remarks from the veterans. There are frank recollections of the insubordination of enlisted men toward commissioned offices; the one and two syllable responses of enlisted men to officers is not rare.

O'Donnell sets the strategic and tactical information forth in a concise manner.  The veterans voices are heard more often than the authors.  There is an occasion when O'Donnell enters the story. The ferocity of the combat in the Hertgen Forrest during late November and early December should have warned the generals that the U.S. Army had advanced into a situation that was indicative of something larger to come. O'Donnell is clear in his own interpretation that the  Hertgen Forest was a trip wire for the Ardennes Forrest, which was to explode the last weeks of December.

Patrick K. O'Donnell is a military historian and the award-winning author of seven books, including the bestselling  Beyond Valor, Give Me Tomorrow, and We Were One, the remarkable and highly acclaimed account of the Battle of Fallujah. He was an historical consulting for DreamWorks'  the miniseries Band of Brothers and for documentaries produced by the BBC, the History Channel, and Fox News.