Thursday, June 27, 2013

New---Arkansas Late In The Civil War: The 8th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry, April 1864-1865

Arkansas Late In The Civil War: The 8th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry, April 1864-1865, David E. Casto, History Press, 128 pages, bibliographic notes, maps, photographs and sketches, $19.99.

Arkansas Late In The Civil War: The 8th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry, April 1864-1865 is another blessing of the sesquicentennial; a well researched regional history of a topic that needs spotlighted. Mark K. Christ's Civil War Arkansas, 1863: The Battle for a State clearly offered the major issues and personalities of the war; David Castro's study of the 8th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry offers a micro-study one cavalry regiment during one year.  

In 1864 U. S. Grant ordered department commandeer Major General Frederick Steele to send 12,000 Federal troops from Arkansas to Louisiana to participate in the Red River Campaign and its Arkansas segment, the Camden Expedition.  The remainder of the infantry was to stay in stockades while the cavalry were ordered to patrol central Arkansas protect the state from raiding rebels. The 8th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry, along with others cavalry regiments spent nine battling CSA general Jo Shelby's raids on the fertile river valleys Arkansas' borders communities. 

Throughout the summer of 1864, Confederate strength in northeast Arkansas steadily grew.  Many men who had either deserted from their previous commands or become separated were returning to the Confederate army and cavalry. New Confederate units such as the 45th through the 48th Arkansas Mounted Infantry Units were created in the spring and summer of 1864. The Federal unit, 8th Missouri Volunteer Cavalry was organized in August and September 1862. It fought in the Battle of Prairie Grove [December 7, 1862] and may have engaged in a massacre of nine Confederate sympathizers at Huntsville [January 10, 1863].  The 8th Regiment took part in the capture of Little Rock in September, 1863.

Casto's history begins in April 1864 with declarations from primary sources that describe the 8th Missouri as being a 'hell roaring' regiment that is 'without fear.'  The White River and the Arkansas River were crossed frequently by the regiment and it became adept at tracking Rebels in pelting rainstorms and on sun baked plateaus.  Throughout the year, the 8th Missouri Cavalry gave better than they usually got.  The remained in Little Rock until March, 1864 and then were ordered to Duvall's Bluff, Arkansas. They spent the remainder of the war securing Arkansas, during which time they engaged Confederate forces and guerrillas bands in several skirmishes but without any major battles. They mustered out of service on July 20th, 1865.

Casto relies on both the Official Records of the Civil War and numerous letters, diaries and newspapers and offers a narrative that covers the major issues and the local history of Arkansas. With a clear and concise style, he presents the 8th Missouri Cavalry as conscientious soldiers who are mindful that there are enemies in uniform and enemies without uniforms, which is much like American wars from Viet Nam to the present.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On The Road---The Rosecrans/Wheeling [WV] Ambulance

The Wheeling or Rosecrans ambulance wagon was built in the Government workshops after a design of General W. S. Rosecrans, U. S. A. It was lighter than [others and] could be readily drawn by two horses, and would accommodate eleven or twelve sitting or two recumbent and two or three sitting patients. Two cushioned benches were attached to the two sides of the interior of the wagon, running along its whole length.

From the edge of each of these benches, fastened by hinges, depended a cushioned seat the length of the benches. These seats could be readily brought on a level with the benches, and when thus elevated could be securely fixed by iron feet, folded in the suspended seat. For the ends of the iron feet receptacles were fitted in the floor of the wagon. When both seats were raised they met, in the middle of the carriage and made one continuous bed for two patients.

When only one seat was raised it formed a bed for a recumbent patient, while the other bench, with its suspended seat, allowed space for at least four sitting patients. A water-tank, capable of holding five gallons, was stored away under the seats in the rear end of the ambulance wagon; not unfrequently stretchers took the place of one of the water-tanks. In front of the benches a transverse seat, accommodating the driver and two or three patients, was provided.

Under the seat was a box for medicines and other articles for field use. Accurate specifications for the building of this ambulance will be found on page 59 of the Report of a Board of Officers . . . . The body of the wagon rested upon four elliptical springs, two placed, transversely (one on the front and one on rear axle), and two on the rear axle running longitudinally. A frame of light wood, with canvas cover, protected the patients against the inclemencies of the weather, and on the sides curtains of canvas could be closely buttoned to the top and the body. At the rear of the wagon was a step to assist patients and bearers in lifting in the wounded. The weight of the wagon was between seven hundred and eight hundred pounds.

Text Source with edits: Civl War
Photograph Souce: Civil War Librarian LLC and June 20, 2013

The photographs of a reproduction Wheeling Ambulance. It was built in Rayland, Ohio and on exhibit on Rest Stop #1 on Interstate 70 in West Virginia about 3 miles from the Pennsylvania line. From autumn to spring, the ambulance resides in the Pry House barn, Antietam National Military Park.  During the summertime, it returns to the owner who lives in Rayland, Ohio.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New---The Battle of West Point Bridge, Mississippi Clearly and Concisely Presented

The Battle of West Point: Confederate Triumph At Ellis Bridge, John McBryde, History Press, 128 pages, maps, photographs, illustration, appendices, bibliographic notes, bibliography, $19.99.

William T. Sherman's early 1864 Meridian Mississippi Campaign in some ways prepared him and his troops for the late 1864 Savannah Georgia Campaign.  From February 3–20, 1864, Sherman and the Army of the Tennessee marched from Vicksburg in western Mississippi to Meridian in eastern Mississippi. The primary purpose was to destroy Meridian an important railroad hub, the location of an arsenal, a military hospital, and a prisoner of war camp.  Since the capture of Jackson, the state's capital, Meridan held important Mississippi state offices.

Sherman planned to take Meridian and possibly advance further east to Selma, Alabama or south to Mobile, Alabama. He  ordered Brigadier General William S. Smith and 7,000 cavalry to leave Memphis, Tennessee and to Okolona, Mississippi and follow the route of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad to Meridian.  Smith cavalry met the troopers of  Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest at West Point, Mississippi.   He forced Smith to begin to retreat back into Tennessee. Forrest followed Smith's retreat. Forrest caught Smith and his troops at Okolona, Mississippi  and forced them to retreat even more quickly.  Smith's coverage of Sherman's left flank failed though Smith troops were a magnet for CSA resistance and Forrest did not impede Sherman's advance nor his retreat.

John McBryde's The Battle of West Point: Confederate Triumph At Ellis Bridge, focuses upon the February 21 one as a precursor to the February 22 Battle of Okolona. On the banks of the Chuquatonchee Creek which is crossed by Ellis Bridge, Smith's 7,000 exhausted troops met Forrest's fresher and more experienced 2,500 cavalrymen.  Citing primary sources of troopers and civilians, McBryde's account is concise, well-paced and well organized. He offers ten pages of civil accounts of the engagement.  The period and modern photographs, the officers' photographic portraits and post-war sketches are appropriate and clarify the text. McBryde's narrative is clear and is a fine example of local history well done.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New and Noteworthy---Loyal Americans Becoming Confederates: Lee, Ramseur and Early Viewed By Gary Gallagher

Becoming Confederates: Paths to a New National Loyalty by Gary W. Gallagher, University of Georgia Press and Mercer University Press, 152 pages; $59.95 hardcover, $18.95 paperback [May 1, 2013]

Description From the publisher:

In Becoming Confederates, Gary W. Gallagher explores loyalty in the era of the Civil War, focusing on Robert E. Lee, Stephen Dodson Ramseur, and Jubal A. Early-three prominent officers in the Army of Northern Virginia who became ardent Confederate nationalists. Loyalty was tested and proved in many ways leading up to and during the war. Looking at levels of allegiance to their native state, to the slaveholding South, to the United States, and to the Confederacy, Gallagher shows how these men represent responses to the mid-nineteenthcentury crisis.

Lee traditionally has been presented as a reluctant convert to the Confederacy whose most powerful identification was with his home state of Virginia—an interpretation at odds with his far more complex range of loyalties. Ramseur, the youngest of the three, eagerly embraced a Confederate identity, highlighting generational differences in the equation of loyalty. Early combined elements of Lee's and Ramseur's reactions—a Unionist who grudgingly accepted Virginia's departure from the United States but later came to personify defiant Confederate nationalism.

The paths of these men toward Confederate loyalty help delineate important contours of American history. Gallagher shows that Americans juggled multiple, often conflicting, loyalties and that white southern identity was preoccupied with racial control transcending politics and class. Indeed, understanding these men's perspectives makes it difficult to argue that the Confederacy should not be deemed a nation. Perhaps most important, their experiences help us understand why Confederates waged a prodigiously bloody war and the manner in which they dealt with defeat.
Focuses on the competing allegiances of Robert E. Lee, Stephen Dodson Ramseur, and Jubal A. Early.


Once again, Gary Gallagher, the master essayist on the Civil War, has given us wonderful food for thought on the nature of Confederate nationalism. Through three cross-generational test cases—R. E. Lee, Dodson Ramseur, and Jubal Early—Gallagher penetrates the thicket of state versus national loyalty in the Confederacy and emerges with some fascinating insights about the nationalizing power of slavery and the war and the persistence of Confederate national sentiment in the postwar years."—Joseph T. Glatthaar, author of Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee
"These three powerful portraits, painted with bold strokes and evocative detail, bear the unmistakable marks of Gary Gallagher's mastery of the historical craft. The decisions made by these men help us understand the decisions all white southerners faced in the era of the Civil War."—Edward L. Ayers, author of In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863, winner of the Bancroft Prize
"In this slim volume, based upon his 2011 Lamar Lectures delivered at Mercer University, Gary W. Gallagher offers major new insights into how we should understand the Civil War soldier and his core motivations. . . . At one level, Gallagher offers valuable interpretive capsule biographies of the lives of three celebrated Confederate officers: Robert E. Lee, Stephen Dodson Ramseur, and Jubal A. Early. Even readers familiar with all three men will find new nuggets in each chapter. But in a broader sense, Becoming Confederates proposes a template for assessing the behavior of the Civil War participants, both military and civilian."—Matt Gallman, Civil War Monitor

"While Gallagher’s examinations of this trio of men are interesting enough, it is the broader argument for which they serve as a base that is the true value of the book: namely, that the Civil War was not a conflict between regional entities (i.e., North vs. South), but rather between fleshed-out nations—'the United States versus the Confederacy'. . . . An excellent addition to Civil War scholarship." —Publishers Weekly

The Author:
Gary W. Gallagher is the John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War at the University of Virginia. He is the author of many books on the Civil War, including most recently The Union War and Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War.

CWL: Gary Gallagher is among the top five prolific Civil War historians today. His writing style is clear, concise and primary source based. His CSPAN 2 and CSPAN 3 appearances are available online. Gallagher's two Teaching Company courses, The Civil War and Lee and His Lieutenants are notable.

Forthcoming---America's Longest Siege: Charleston, South Carolina's Slavery, Siege and Surrender

America's Longest Siege: Charleston, Slavery And The Slow March To The Civil War, Joseph Kelly,  Overlook Press, 384 pp., $28.95.   June 27, 2013.

From The Publisher: In 1863, Union forces surrounded the city of Charleston. Their vice-like grip on the harbor would hold the city hostage for nearly two years, becoming the longest siege in the history of modern warfare. But for almost two centuries prior, a singular ideology forged among the headstrong citizens of Charleston had laid a different sort of siege to the entire American South--the promulgation of brutal, deplorable, and immensely profitable institution of slavery.

In America's Longest Siege, Joseph Kelly examines the nation's long struggle with its "peculiar institution" through the hotly contested debates in the city at the center of the slave trade. From the earliest slave rebellions to the Nullification crisis to the final, tragic act of secession that doomed both the city and the South as a whole, Kelly captures the toxic mix of nationalism, paternalism, and unprecedented wealth that made Charleston the focus of the nationwide debate over slavery. Kelly also explores the dissenters who tried--and ultimately failed--to stop the oncoming Civil War.
Exhaustingly researched and also compulsively readable, America's Longest Siege offers an insightful new take on the war and the culture that made it inevitable.

From the Invitation To Book's Launch Party at the Old Slave Mart, Charleston, SC on June 26: America's Longest Siege: Charleston, Slavery, and the Slow March toward Civil War, begins and ends with the Union's siege of Charleston, the longest in modern warfare until Hitler's attack on Leningrad. But it also tells the story of the evolving ideology of slavery from the colony's founding through the Civil War, focusing on key moments of change: the Stono and Vesey rebellions, the American Revolution, the Constitutional Convention, and the Nullification Crisis. Taking seriously the founding fathers' expectation that slavery would die a gradual and natural death in the new republic, the book reveals how the hard and determined work of a relatively few South Carolinians sustained slavery against the odds, through chicanery, torture, the politics of intimidation and fear. 

This talk will narrate one chapter in the moral history of the nation: how John Rutledge and the Pinckneys, contrary to the conscience and wishes of most delegates, connived to protect slavery in U. S. Constitution. Joe Kelly has been a professor of literature at the College of Charleston since 1992. His interests range from modern Irish literature and nationalism to the history of American Southern ideology. His archival research has been supported by NEH and Mellon fellowships. His first book, Our Joyce: From Outcast to Icon, uncovers the manipulations of this monumental figure of modern literature by liberals and conservatives in the American culture wars. His popular introductions to literature, W. W. Norton & Company's Seagull Readers series, are entering their 3rd editions. America's Longest Siege: Charleston, Slavery, and the Slow March toward Civil War, is his first foray into narrative history. He earned his Ph. D. in literature with a minor in history from the University of Texas at Austin.

CWL: Steven Channing's 1974 Crisis of Fear: The Secession Crisis In South Carolina was a hallmark study while I was in graduate school; Channing's work has been in print continously for nearly 40 years and has stood the test of time and scholarship.  Stephen Wise's 1994 Gate of Hell: The Siege of Charleston, 1863 offers a fine, detailed account of the seige and the struggles of the troops and their commanders on both sides.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

News---20 ' Long, 20' High, 6' Diameter: Rodman Canon, Wonder of the 19th Century, Reproduction Exhibited In Pittsburgh

Heinz History Center To Display Copy Of Huge Fort Pitt 1864 Cannon,  Len Barcousky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 10, 2013

Fabricating a full-size reproduction of a 20-inch Rodman cannon required the help of a 21st century 3-D computer modeling program. The artisans at LF Creative Group needed about two months to complete the job. "It takes amazing technology to make this kind of copy," LF Creative partner Travis Gillum said. "What is more amazing is that workers were able to make something this big in the 1860s."

The barrel of the Rodman reproduction is about 20 feet long and about 6 feet in diameter at its widest point. When mounted on its iron carriage, the artillery piece will stand about 20 feet tall. The model will serve as the centerpiece of the 9,000-square-foot "Pennsylvania's Civil War" exhibit that opens June 22 at the Heinz History Center. The original 20-inch Rodman cannon was cast in 1864 at the Fort Pitt Foundry, That manufacturing plant was located on the banks of the Allegheny River, just across Smallman Street from the history center. The "20-inch" refers to the interior diameter of the weapon's bore.

The giant gun was built according to a design developed by U.S. Army ordnance officer Thomas Jackson Rodman, the one-time commander of the Allegheny Arsenal in Lawrenceville. Rodman's cannons were made of cast iron and cooled from the inside out by water flowing through the center of the mold. The metal shrank inward as it cooled, producing a stronger barrel far less likely to blow up while being fired. Rodman developed several other military innovations, according to Andrew Masich, president of the Heinz History Center. "He perfected a bullet-making machine that used compression rather than casting," Mr. Masich said. "It allowed workers to crank out thousands of bullets per hour, each uniform in weight and size."

Rodman also designed new cartridges for use in breech-loading, rather than muzzle-loading, weapons. Because they offered increased strength and safety, Rodman cannons could be made much larger. Charged with 200 pounds of gunpowder, the 20-inch Rodman could fire a half-ton ball 4 1/2 miles. The barrel of the smooth-bore, cast-iron artillery piece weighed more than 58 tons and required a special railroad car to transport it to Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. Its original role was to protect the Verrazano Narrows entrance to New York's upper bay. While it no longer keeps watch over the harbor, the cannon remains near its original location in a small park. The only other cannon Rodman made this size is at Fort Hancock in Sandy Hook, N.J. The model of the Rodman cannon is one of the largest single pieces that the Ohio-based LF Creative Group ever has produced, Mr. Gillum said. With a foot in several different worlds, LF Creative does work for both museums and theme parks, he said.

. . .  Full Text Continued at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 10, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

New and Noteworthy---How Soldiers Die In Battle

The following is a portion of a book review written by Andrew Burtch, Canadian War Museum, published by Michigan War Studies, June 13, 2013.

The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die In Battle, Michael Stephenson, Crown Publishing, 464 pp., 2013, $28.00.

In The Last Full Measure, Michael Stephenson combines a compelling, encyclopedic analysis of the history of warfare with firsthand accounts of battlefield carnage. The finished product is accessible, informative, convincing, and moving. It forgoes any discussion of the geopolitical and strategic elements of warfare to get at what Stephenson defines as the core of military history—killing and dying. Whether inflicted by fire-hardened sharp sticks, swords, axes, arrows, musket balls, high velocity rounds, cruise missiles, or IEDs, violent death links soldiers across the centuries.

Stephenson states his central thesis in a discussion of combat in the Pacific during the Second World War: "The fighting ... reminds us that combat is a bloody gutter-slop: nasty, brutish and short—an abattoir that is only later cleaned up, perfumed, and decorated with the laurel crown of history" (262). He also dismantles the myth of the "Western Way of War," characterized by heroic man-to-man confrontations on the battlefield, by highlighting accounts from the sharp end, where "the last sound from the lips of the stricken is not so much the rousing call 'for the motherland' as the heartbreaking cry for mother" (xii–xiv).

. . . .

The book has no formal conclusion, perhaps because wars and their aftermaths are still ongoing in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and any attempt to assess definitively their outcome or meaning would quickly be outdated. But Stephenson misses an opportunity to use his considerable store of evidence to answer a question he raises at the close of his Civil War chapter. If war is such a devastating experience (in General Sherman's words, if "war is hell"), why does it continue to exist? Why is it that a man like Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., wounded and thoroughly disillusioned, resigned his commission, yet less than twenty years later, "Like some American samurai, … discovered a fervent belief in the mystical importance of a warrior's unquestioning obedience unto death" (165).

Why, in short, do men so easily forget the atrocities of past wars just in time for the next one? Of course, many historians have fruitfully explored the meaning and memory of death and the heroic ideal after the battle, but we are left to wonder about Stephenson's thoughts on the subject.
This book is a thoughtful, respectful treatment of a difficult subject. Its author deftly balances personal, sometimes extremely graphic accounts of death and mutilation with enlightening historical analyses, steering clear of the purely anecdotal war stories or "pornography of violence" that John Keegan warned against. I recommend The Last Full Measure to both scholars and general readers with any interest in military history.

The full text of the review is found at Michigan War Studies, June 13, 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013

New And Noteworthy---Chancellorsville NPS Guide Tours on Video: Jackson's Flank Attack and The Wounding of Stonewall Jackson

Civil War Battlewalks---The Battle of Chancellorsville: Jackson's Flank Attack and Civil War Battlewalks---The Battle of Chancellorsville: Wounding of Stonewall Jackson, Frank O'Reilly, Pennsylvania Cable Network, 2006. $19.95 each.

Both battle walks occur within the National Park Service's Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania National Military Park and both tours are given by Frank O'Reilly, one of the NPS historians that work in the park. He is the author of The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War On The Rappahannock. O'Reilly's in depth familiarity with the story and ground of the Battle of Chancellorsville is evident in both segments. He concisely covers past and present interpretations of the events and offers his own evaluation of the evidence. 

The Battle of Chancellorsville: Jackson's Flank Attack is 49 minutes in length and The Battle of Chancellorsville: Wounding of Stonewall Jackson is 40 minutes in length.  The Pennsylvania Cable Network has long filmed the battle walks of the NPS historians at Gettysburg National Military Park. PCN's expertise continues to be evident as it starts to work in Virginia.  There are no shaky cameras, no sun flares, and no editing distractions.  While viewing the tours, a map such as the Earl McElfresh's watercolor map of the terrain at the time of the battle is recommended by CWL.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

News: Kick Starting The Angels Of Our Nature: A Film Set In The Civil War

Angels of Our Nature film's producers describe their effort as a short film that follows a Civil War sketch artist who meets his long lost twin brother on the opposite side of the war.  The film is to be created in Mississippi. Angels of Our Nature about the early days of the war. Battle sketch artist Cale Bacall travels with a regiment of eager yet inexperienced Confederate soldiers into hostile combat, where he must come to terms with his own conflicting ideologies on war and death at the hands of his fellow countrymen.
Cale Bacall's loyalties are complicated, however, when he recognizes a long lost face from his past, fighting for the Union. It is the face of a cunning and battle hardened soldier who he hasn't seen since he was a young boy -- his twin brother.

They cite The National Geographic's article on Civil War battlefield sketch artists as the inspiration for the story line.  Investments from $5 to $10,000 are appreciated and will be rewarded with items such as autographed storyboards, autographed scripts, autographed posters, DVD copies of the film and screen credits. Angels Of Our Nature's creators discuss the film and its inspiration at the Kick Starter website. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

New and Noteworthy---The Gettysburg Campaign: Numbers, Losses, Strengths, Maps, Synopses In Color

The Gettysburg Campaign In Numbers and Losses; Synopses, Orders of Battle, Strengths, Casualties and Maps, June 9-July 14, 1863, J. David Petruzzi and Steven A. Stanley, Savas Beatie Publishing, 210 pp., 42 maps in color, 10 charts, $32.95.

Q: Of what does the Gettysburg Campaign consist?
A: 16 battles, 23 skirmishes, 3 fights 1 siege, and 1 raid

One of the more attractive, useful and informative reference books of the sesquicentennial is now available from Savas Beatie Publishing and authors David Petruzzi and Steve Stanley. The Gettysburg Campaign In Numbers and Losses; Synopses, Orders of Battle, Strengths, Casualties and Maps, June 9-July 14, 1863 presents over 40 color maps and synopses of 44 engagements occurring in June and July during The Pennsylvania Campaign.

With clear writing and interesting anecdotes, each engagement is described in a brief synopsis.  Offered immediately after the synopsis is a listing of the units engaged, their commanders, the number of soldiers entering the engagement, and the number of killed, wounded in missing.  The narrative style of the synopses is accessible and engaging. The bar graphs are clear and offer important visual comparisons of strengths and losses. The four Battle of Gettysburg bar graphs show July 1, July 2, July 3 and the total casualties; the colorful graphs are compelling. Those leading groups that discussing the campaign will find the ten bar graphs very useful.

Photographs of the major commanders in engagement offered within each synopsis; the majority are from the Library of Congress. Several are images from historical societies and the author' collections. Striking are the images of Captain Robert Bell commander of  the Independent Adams County Cavalry and Colonel Jacob G. Frick commander of the Wrightsville and Columbia defenses.

The Gettysburg Campaign In Numbers and Losses; Synopses, Orders of Battle, Strengths, Casualties and Maps, June 9-July 14, 1863, J. David Petruzzi and Steven A. Stanley is essential for most readers of The Pennsylvania Campaign and The Battle of Gettysburg.  Those taking the battlefield guide exam will likely keep within arm's reach The Gettysburg Campaign In Numbers and Losses.