Monday, December 15, 2014

Forthcoming---A Guide To the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign

Guide To the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign, edited by Charles R. Bowery, Jr. and Ethan S. Rafuse, maps by Steven Stanley, University of Kansas Press, 420 pages, 47 maps36 illustrations, $34.95 hardcover, $19.95 paper.

Text From The Publisher:  Lasting from June 1864 through April 1865, the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign was the longest of the Civil War, dwarfing even the Atlanta and Vicksburg campaigns in its scope and complexity. This compact yet comprehensive guide allows armchair historian and battlefield visitor alike to follow the campaign’s course, with a clear view of its multi-faceted strategic, operation, tactical, and human dimensions.
A concise, single-volume collection of official reports and personal accounts, the guide is organized in one-day and multi-day itineraries that take the reader to all the battlefields of the campaign, some of which have never before been interpreted and described for the visitor so extensively. Comprehensive campaign and battle maps reflect troop movements, historical terrain features, and modern roads for ease of understanding and navigation. A uniquely useful resource for the military enthusiast and the battlefield traveler, this is the essential guide for anyone hoping to see the historic landscape and the human face of this most decisive campaign of the Civil War.
Charles R. Bowery, Jr. is an officer in the U.S. Army who has taught Civil War history at West Point, led tours of Civil War battlefield sites, and authored Lee and Grant: Profiles in Leadership from the Battlefields of Virginia. Ethan S. Rafuse is a professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of nine books, including McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union and Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865.

Blurbs: “A stellar contribution to the long and excellent tradition of the U.S. Army War college guide that covers one of the most important campaigns of the Civil War. The authors’ organization and contextualization of their story are superbly done and the maps are outstanding, among the best I have ever seen depicting the action and topography of the Richmond Petersburg battle sites.”—Earl Hess, author of Into the Crater: The Mine Attack at Petersburg

“A much needed edition on the final campaign to capture Richmond and Petersburg.  This book brings together the events on both sides of the James River enabling readers to understand this very complex and prolonged military event.”—Chris Bryce, Chief of Interpretation, Petersburg National Battlefield

“The most thorough, detailed, and accurate books of their kind. Indeed, they are unique. I have used them to lead guided tours of several battlefields, with great success.”—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom
CHARLES R. BOWERY, JR. is an officer in the U.S. Army who has taught Civil War history at West Point, led tours of Civil War battlefield sites, and authored Lee and Grant: Profiles in Leadership from the Battlefields of Virginia. ETHAN S. RAFUSE is a professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of nine books, including McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union and Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865.

Friday, December 05, 2014

News----Georgia's Ebenezer Creek, The March To The Sea Interrupted, And 40 Acres And A Mule

Historic Hebenezer Creek Property Protected For Future Greenway, by The Trust For Public Land, Atlanta Georgia, December 2, 2014.

The Ebenezer Creek site of a frantic and tragic moment of Civil War history has been protected as a new public park. On December 9, 1864 hundreds of freed slave refugees died trying to cross Ebenezer Creek to avoid confederate troops pursuing General William Tecumseh Sherman during the union Army’s “March to the Sea.” Public outcry over the deaths led President Abraham Lincoln to appro
ve Sherman’s Special Field Orders No. 15 that were intended to redistribute to former slaves 400,000 acres of confiscated coastal property in 40-acre tracts. The order was revoked by President Andrew Johnson following Lincoln’s death.

The 275-acre property protects almost two miles of rivers and streams at the confluence of the Savannah River and Ebenezer Creek. For the residents of the City of Springfield the property becomes a key piece in the proposed Ebenezer Greenway planned along the creek to the river.
“The City of Springfield is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Ebenezer Crossing property. This purchase will be important for Springfield, Effingham County and the State of Georgia due to the historical and cultural nature of the property. It has been our dream to preserve Ebenezer Creek’s natural beauty for the enjoyment of future generations. Our hope is that the Creek will remain as it is now, bringing tourists to enjoy the peace and serenity of the area, said Mayor Barton Alderman. “We would like to thank The Trust for Public Land, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation and the Knobloch Family Foundation for making this dream a reality.“

“This coastal Georgia property is quite special for people, history, and the environment,” said Curt Soper, The Trust for Public Land’s Georgia state director. “The public recreational benefits along Ebenezer Creek to the Savannah River will benefit generations of people to come. And the historical significance of the Ebenezer crossing is immense and this land is protected in memory of the many lives that were lost here 150 years ago in the pursuit of freedom.”

Sherman’s Brigadier General Davis destroyed a pontoon crossing which stranded 5,000 freed slaves on the wrong side of the creek. Remnants of the pontoon bridge have been located on the property.
“I am very pleased that the site of the crossing on Ebenezer Creek is going to be preserved for future generations. Saving unspoiled land associated with the Civil War is becoming increasingly difficult and The Trust for Public Land is to be commended for their vision and leadership,” said Dr. W. Todd Groce, President and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society. “Although not a battlefield, the site is still historic ground filled with meaning for all Americans. As the scene of one of the war’s most tragic events, it sheds light on the plight and courage of African Americans during the war and illustrates the extent to which human beings will go in order to be free.”

The diverse and productive habitat on the property, including fresh water tidal wetlands and bottomland hardwood forest, has been coveted for protection by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The National Park Service lists the land as a National Natural Landmark for its cypress-gum swamp forest. Federally listed rare species on the property include the wood stork and the shortnose sucker.

Funding for the acquisition of this property included a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources as well as grants from the R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation and the Knobloch Family Foundation.

Full Text Source: The Trust For Public Land
Image Source: Historic Marker Database 
and  Effingham Today

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

News--NYT's Review of Embattled Rebel Gives McPherson Good Marks For Putting Davis In Military Context

Embattled Rebel by James McPherson,  Steven Hahn, New York Times, November 20, 2014

Steve Hahn: "Yet, there is a larger and more unsettling issue. Treating Davis as commander in chief risks lending the Confederacy a legitimacy it never achieved at the time. No foreign country accorded the Confederacy diplomatic recognition, at least in part because of an unwillingness to openly support a slaveholders’ rebellion. Only after the war, as part of a reconciliation process, were Confederates spared serious punishment and then tendered respect as a cause and a state, enabling men like Davis and subsequent devotees of the “lost cause” to get a hearing for their version of events."

A full text ink is below.

Text and Image Source:  Sunday Book Review New York Times, November 20, 2014

Monday, December 01, 2014

News---Ohio's Camp Chase Cemetery: Are Yankees Buried Among Rebel POWs?

Blue Among Gray?, Jeb Phillips, The Columbus Dispatch ,

On Row 41 of Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery — one of only two places in Ohio officially designated for Confederate dead — is a marker for a John Kennedy. It’s actually a double marker, number 2100. The top half is for a Texas soldier. But the bottom part is what caught the eye years ago of an amateur historian from New Albany who now lives in Georgia.

The stone reads: “John Kennedy; 33 KY VOLS; C.S.A.” The Confederate States of America regiments in Kentucky didn’t have numbers that high, Dennis Ranney knew. Maybe an extra “3” was added by mistake. Ranney, 59, likes to learn about Civil War prisons and had first visited Camp Chase, at 2900 Sullivant Ave. on the West Side, as a teenager. Most of the people buried there also were prisoners there. Ranney decided to research the dead and write small biographies about five years ago. “Some of them have stories to tell,” he thought. One of the people he pursued was Kennedy.

No matter how hard Ranney looked in Confederate records, he couldn’t find Kennedy. Then, “just for the heck of it,” he looked in Union records. And there he was. This John Kennedy who had been called a Confederate since at least 1869 was actually: “John Kennedy; 33rd Kentucky Infantry; U.S.A.” “Oh my God,” Ranney said he thought to himself.

In 1867, Ohio Gov. James Cox ordered a military chaplain to identify all of the war’s dead buried in Ohio. The chaplain did the best he could with spotty records, according to historians. Some he determined were Confederates were disinterred and reburied at Camp Chase in 1869. Many of those, including Kennedy, have markers in Row 41 — the last full row nearest the Hill Top Dairy Twist on Sullivant Avenue. It’s the most likely row for identification mistakes. Ranney used online records and physical ones at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., to research other names in that row. He has found five other Union soldiers who he believes are mistakenly called Confederates on their markers:
• James Lykens, Co. A, 12th Ky. Cavalry, CSA, is actually James Likens, Co. A, 12th Ky. Cavalry, USA.
• Jacob Lake, Co. G, 90th Tenn. Regiment, CSA, is Jacob Lake, Co. G, 90th Penn. Infantry, USA.
• J.A. Stilzer, Co. A, 9th Ky. Cavalry, CSA, is J.W. Stitzer, Co. A, 9th Ky. Cavalry, USA.
• Taylor Ellis, Co. B, 1st W. Tenn. Regiment, CSA, is Taylor Ellis, Co. M, 6th Tenn. Cavalry, USA.
• John Clark, Co. G, 3rd Va. Cavalry, CSA, is John E. Clark, Co. D, 3rd W.Va. Cavalry, USA.

Ranney says he has doubts about four other markers but hasn’t been able to prove any errors yet.
Members of the Hilltop Historical Society learned of Ranney’s work last week. The society leads tours of the cemetery, keeps some historical records and organizes a memorial ceremony every June.
“It’s very plausible,” Dick Hoffman, a society board member, said of Ranney’s findings
“I believe there’s a good possibility that (Ranney’s work) is correct,” said Monty Chase, another board member and a distant cousin of the cemetery’s namesake and Abraham Lincoln’s treasury secretary, Salmon P. Chase.

Camp Chase has some known errors, and it’s not surprising that there would be others, Hoffman said. Historians know that some people buried at Camp Chase aren’t marked at all. They also know that the stones themselves are just approximations of where the soldiers are buried. Ranney’s findings are so new that no one knows if any changes can be made at the cemetery. Monty Chase suggested leaving the stones in place and carving updates on the backs. The big arch at the cemetery says “Americans,” and that’s just as true now as it ever was, he said.

The Dayton National Cemetery, which oversees Camp Chase, didn’t respond to a request for comment.Ranney has also discovered that the same John Kennedy from Kentucky, identified as a Union soldier, has a marker at Green Lawn Cemetery. Ranney expects that there’s more work to be done to sort out Columbus’ burial records. Now, though, he’s satisfied that for the first time since the end of the Civil War, six soldiers can be remembered on Memorial Day for who they really were.

Text and Image Source:  Columbus Dispatch, May 28, 2014

New And Noteworthy---Montana's Confederate Heritage

Confederates In Montana Territory: In The Shadow of Price's Army, Ken Robison, History Press, 192 pp.,49 illustrations, 4 maps, index, chapter bibliographies, $19.99. 

Montana was not an organized territory until the spring of 1864 and was over a thousand miles away from military operations in Kansas and New Mexico. During the first three years of the war the region that would become Montana was divided between the territories of Washington, Idaho and Dakota. During the war there were those Confederate soldiers that deserted or Confederate civilians who drifted into this region. In the southwest area one community wished to name itself Varina, in honor of Varina Davis, the wife of  the Confederate president. This was dismissed by a regional judge who was a native of Connecticut but did allow a substitute name, Virginia. In 1862, gold was discovered in the region and one strike was named Confederate Gulch. Such loyalty issues arose and caught the attention of Unionists in the region who brought it to the attention of the national government which remedied the situation by creating the Montana Territory.

Ken Robison, the author of Confederates In Montana Territory is a Montana native, historic preservationist, newspaper columnist, historian and retired captain of the U.S. navy's intelligence branch. He has authored four other books on Montana's early history and a frequent contributor to the Montana: The Magazine of Western History and other regional journals.

Confederates In Montana Territory: In The Shadow of Price's Army offers detailed and entertaining stories regarding Confederate veterans commanded by William Quantrill,  Bill Anderson, Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Mosby. Robison's focus includes particular cavalry regiments and the unique adventures that the Confederate veterans experienced during the war. The Moore brothers accompanied Jefferson Davis during his flight from Richmond, Virginia; others were veterans of the Confederate Marine Corps. Robison uniquely captures the lives of former slaves who migrated to Montana during and after the war. His work is a biography driven account of Confederate soldiers, civilians and contrabands living together on western frontier.   Confederates In Montana Territory: In The Shadow of Price's Army offers a clear and concise account which is a fine example of local and regional historical research done well.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

News---The Sensory Experience of the Civil War: Battles, Sieges and The Bloated Bodies

 Experiencing War Envelops All The Human Senses, Even Taste, Renee Standera, WISTV,  Report from Columbia, SC.

The sensory experience of the Civil War is the subject of a new book written by University of South Carolina Distinguished Professor Mark Smith. It's titled The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege. "My aim to add texture to the experience of war," he said. "What did it mean? How did it feel?"

From the first shots at Fort Sumter, to the Hunley submarine and the burning of Columbia, South Carolina is featured throughout the book.  "My thinking was to identify a very well-known event during the Civil War and then look at the sources. What do the sources say about the sensory experience of that event?" he said.

Each sense is related to an incident in the Civil War. It opens with the sense of sound related to the firing on Fort Sumter in 1861. "The war literally began with a bang in South Carolina...This was the first time that people had heard the sound of war, for many, many years at least. That's what they commented on."

The first battle of Bull Run represents the sense of sight. "First Bull Run was principally a conversation and an event about confusion. Visual confusion," he said. "Troops at this point in time had not adopted gray or blue, so there were Confederate troops wearing blue. There were Union forces wearing gray. This caused enormous confusion on the battlefield."

Smith used the battle of Gettysburg to represent the sense of smell. "More people died in those hills than any other battle. So many, in fact, that the technology of death outpaced the technology of burial," said Smith. "They couldn't bury the corpses fast enough. And, as a result, on those hot July days, those dead bodies started to reek."Death could be smelled for miles. Death could be smelled for weeks."

The Union siege of Vicksburg represents the sense of taste. "The siege was simply designed to starve people into submission and that's precisely what Grant did at Vicksburg," Smith said. "At the beginning of the siege Southerners -- white Southerners at least -- ate well. Ate plentifully. By the end of the siege, there had been in revolution in their palate. They ate anything they could find. Once proud, they were reduced to eating morsels, scraps fit only for animals."

The sense of touch was represented by the C.S.S. Hunley. "Poignantly, the eight men who died in that submarine died at their posts," he said. "They didn't try to clamber out of their seats and they died alone. They died without human touch and it took over a hundred years for them to be touched again by another human being."  

Smith wraps all the senses into the Union Army's occupation of Columbia and the city's subsequent burning. "Their presence changed the sensory landscape of Columbia. The noises were unprecedented. The smells of thousands of troops--their garbage. Their refuse. And then the smell of a burning city and civilization evaporating on a cloud. And then they left and the city didn't even look the same any longer."

Smith is a leading expert in Civil War History and the senses. The History Channel has requested an interview with him regarding the subject. "If you don't pay attention to the role of smell, the role of touch, the role of sound, taste, including visual, then you come away with a very antiseptic view of war,"Smith said. "Almost a...a view of war that suggest it wasn't painful. That somehow it was simply an honorable act."

Text Source:

Monday, November 17, 2014

New and Noteworthy---Soldiering For Freedom: Clear, Concise, Cogent and Accessible

Soldiering For Freedom: How The Union Army Recruited, Trained and Deployed the U.S. Colored Troops, Bob Luke and John David Smith, Johns Hopkins University Press, 131 pp., 12 b/w images, bibliographic notes, bibliography, index, $19.95.

Soldiering For Freedom: How The Union Army Recruited, Trained and Deployed the U.S. Colored Troops is a superlative introduction to the USCT for advanced placement high school and undergraduate students. Basic information is providded on the raising of African American troops, the Bureau of Colored Troops, contrabands, discrimination, the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, and Abraham Lincoln. Additionally, the narrative offers an addresses the issues of race, soldiering, emancipation, nationalism, citizenship.   Overall, Soldiering For Freedom is clear, concise, cogent and accessible to students and general readers.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

New and Noteworthy---The Confederate Raid Into Vermont: The Setting, The Raid, The Trials

The St. Albans Raid: Confederate Attack on Vermont, Michelle Arnosky Sherburne, The History Press, 191 pages, appendix, bibliography, index, 37 illustrations, 3 maps, $19.99.

On the same day as the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia,  there occurred a controversial raid from Canada into Vermont by Confederate soldiers. The goal was to rob banks in retaliation for Sheridan's burning of the Shenandoah Valley and hopefully draw Federal forces from Virginia and defend the Canadian border.

Bennett Young, a Confederate cavalryman who had been captured during Morgan's 1863 Raid, imprisoned  then escaped, led the one day assault. His 1863 escape led him to Canada where he met Confederate sympathizers. His return to the Confederacy gave him the opportunity to request permission to return to Canada as a lieutenant and rob American banks. Shortly before 3 p.m. on October 19, Bennett and over twenty conspirators  initiated simultaneous robberies of St. Albans'  three banks. They identified themselves as Confederate soldiers and took a total of $208,000  which is a little over 3 million dollars in current value. During the robberies, eight or nine Confederates held the villagers at gun point on the village green, then stole their horses to prevent pursuit. Those Vermonters who chose resistance were killed or wounded. Young ordered his men to burn the city, but the four ounce bottles of sulfur, naphtha and quick lime they attempted to use did not ignite.

Michelle Sherburne's The St. Albans Raid: Confederate Attack on Vermont presents a clear and concise introduction to U.S.-Canadian relations during 1863 and 1864, the Confederate Secret Service in Canada, and the goals of the raid. The robberies and treatment of the civilians are well described as is the rescue of the town by discharged Vermont veterans and others. The Confederate invaders were captured, tried and found guilty but Canada, being neutral, did not extradite the criminals. Sherburne cogent description of the proceedings take into account of the impact of the trials on the relations between the two countries. She acknowledges gaps in the story due to the lack of documents and does not over-dramatize events.

One of The St. Albans Raid: Confederate Attack on Vermont several strengths is the inclusion of the photographs of many artifacts, portraits, weapons, bottles of Greek fire and buildings such as court houses and prisons.Sherburne's work is a fine example of local history well researched and well written.