Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Off-Topic News: WW2/Iraq War Author Wins $100,000 Award

Historian Rick Atkinson To Receive 2010 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement, Pritzker Military Library Press Release, June 21, 2010.

Rick Atkinson has been selected to receive the 2010 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. The $100,000 honorarium, citation and medallion, sponsored by the Chicago-based Tawani Foundation, will be presented at the Library’s annual Liberty Gala on October 22, 2010. The announcement was made today via Internet webcast at

The Pritzker Military Library Literature Award recognizes a living author for a body of work that has profoundly enriched the public understanding of American military history. A national panel of writers and historians – including previous recipients James M. McPherson, Allan R. Millett, and Gerhard L. Weinberg – reviewed nominations and definitive works submitted by publishers, agents, booksellers, and other professional literary organizations. Colonel James N. Pritzker, (Ret.), Founder and President of the Pritzker Military Library and Tawani Foundation, called it an honor to present Atkinson with the award.

“Throughout his multifaceted career, Rick has given readers accurate and frank analysis of military history from World War II to the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Pritzker. “His independent voice, tempered with respect and compassion, has earned high esteem not only from scholars, journalists, and civilians on the home front but also the members of the Armed Forces about whom he writes. His life and professional dedication to military history truly represent the “Citizen” in Citizen Soldiers, who are essential for the maintenance of democracy.”

"This is simply thrilling,” said Atkinson. “I couldn't be more honored than to be selected by the Pritzker Military Library for an award that recognizes the literary aspirations of vivid military history. I'm grateful, and delighted." Atkinson is at work on volume 3 of his trilogy about the American role in the liberation of Europe in World War II. The first volume, An Army at Dawn, won acclaim for its brilliantly researched, deeply felt narrative of the Allied campaign in North Africa. It was followed by The Day of Battle, which interwove portraits of Eisenhower, Patton, Roosevelt, and Churchill with unforgettable images of soldiers confronted with the transformative effect of fear and violence. He is also the author of In the Company of Soldiers, which followed the 101st Airborne Division and Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq; Crusade, a narrative history of the Persian Gulf War; and The Long Gray Line, a narrative account of West Point’s class of 1966.

Born in Munich, in the Federal Republic of Germany, Rick Atkinson is the son of a U.S. Army officer and grew up on military posts. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he worked as a reporter, foreign correspondent, and editor at The Washington Post for a quarter century, holding tenures as the assistant managing editor for investigations, the deputy national editor supervising national security coverage, and the Berlin bureau chief, at which he covered not only Germany and NATO but also Somalia and Bosnia.

Atkinson’s awards include the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting; the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for public service, awarded to the Post for a series of articles he directed and edited on shootings by the District of Columbia police department; the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for history; the 1989 George Polk Award for national reporting; and the 2007 Gerald R. Ford Award for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense.

For the 2004-2005 academic year, Atkinson was the Gen. Omar N. Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at the U.S. Army War College and Dickinson College. His wife, Dr. Jane C. Atkinson, is a researcher and clinician at the National Institutes of Health. They live in the District of Columbia, and have two children.

The Pritzker Military Library Literature Award was established in 2007. The recipient’s contributions may be academic, non-fiction, fiction, or a combination of any of the three, and his or her work should embody the values of the Pritzker Military Library. The finalist recommendation was unanimously endorsed by the executive council of the Foundation established to oversee the award process.

The award will be presented on October 22, 2010 during the Library’s annual Liberty Gala at Chicago’s historic Palmer House. The evening will also include presentation of the Colby Award to Medal of Honor recipient Jack Jacobs for his memoir If Not Now, When?

CWL: Atkinson's work on World War 2 is outstanding; Army at Day is well written, well organized, clear, concise, well researched and enjoyable. Day of Battle is on my bookshelf waiting for me.

Text Source: Pritzker Military Library

Image Source: Rick Atkinson

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recent Issue Of Army History Journal: Pennsylvania Division at Antietam and Fredericksburg

Just recieved this pdf of the Army History Journal. The issue leads with an article on the Pennsylvania Division at Antietam and Fredericksburg.

"No Heroism Can Avail": Andrew A. Humphreys and His Pennsylvania Division at Antietam and Fredericksburg by Matthew T. Pearcy. Here is the link: Army History Summer 2010, no. 76 . Enjoy and pass it along.

Image Source: Pennsylvania Reserve Division monument at the Cornfield, Antietam

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pittsburgh Scholar's Urban History Recognized For Research and Narrative

Civil War Books and Authors is one of CWL's frequent destinations on the Internet. CWBA offers reviews, news, views, and interviews about non-fiction Civil War books, publishers, and authors. This week Author Fox, who teaches at Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is recognized for the second edition of his history of the Iron City during the American Civil War. CWBA's review follows.

Pittsburgh During the American Civil War 1860-1865, Arthur B. Fox, Firefly Publications/Mechling, 2009 2nd ed.). Softcover, maps, tables, photos, illustrations, notes, appendices, bibliography. 237 Pages. $29.95.

When it comes to Pennsylvania cities and towns, Gettysburg and Philadelphia (as one might expect) get most consideration from the publishing world, but author Arthur B. Fox has done much to bring attention to the western part of the state, specifically Allegheny County and the emerging industrial city of Pittsburgh. His book Pittsburgh During the American Civil War 1860-1865 (Mechling Bookbindery, 2002) was reissued in paperback last year. An excellent all around survey of the city's participation in the war, it is well worthy of the privilege.

Fox's book is not presented as a cohesive narrative history, but rather an informative and winding series of explanatory sections, replete with directions, maps, drawings, lists, and tables, more akin to a reference work. In line with the city's importance to war industries, several chapters are devoted to civilian businesses, war contractors, and military arms and ammunition production, most famously the Allegheny Arsenal and Fort Pitt Foundry. Local firms of all types are summarized and located for the reader. Events and circumstances surrounding the tragic series of explosions at occurred at the arsenal on September 17, 1862, killing close to 80 workers (mostly young women), are discussed. The foundry produced large numbers of heavy cannon for the war effort, and Fox goes into some depth describing the Rodman method of casting increasingly massive guns, the culmination of which was a colossal 20-inch smoothbore firing a projectile weighing over 1,000 lbs. Another interesting tidbit was the author's discovery, through local newspapers, of managers at the arsenal openly threatening workers with termination if they did not vote for Lincoln in the 1864 election, and following through with their threat. If true, one wonders how widespread was the practice.

Companies raised in Pittsburgh and the surrounding county are listed, and much information about the nine military camps that dotted the landscape 1861-1863 is provided. Pittsburgh hospitals are also discussed, as well as Confederate POWs. A pair of appendices additionally deal with city and county GAR posts and orphanages. As one can readily see, Fox's coverage of local institutions is quite comprehensive.

With the threat of Confederate raids into the state in 1863, a series of earthwork forts were constructed around Pittsburgh, ringing the city by the time of the Gettysburg Campaign. Period photographs do not exist, but a series of post-war images (several are reproduced in the book) documented the sites before they were destroyed by urban expansion. Aided by William McCarthy's 1992 history and archaeological survey of the dozens of forts, redoubts, and batteries, Fox provides a complete summary of these sites and their original location. A pair of period maps, including a large pullout, also reference these sites, as well as the arsenal and camps.

Well researched, and generously filled with images, maps, and data tables, Pittsburgh During the American Civil War 1860-1865 is a wonderful example of local history done right, as well as an invaluable guide for outside readers and historians seeking to learn more about the city's manpower and industrial contributions to the Union war machine. Highly recommended.

Source of Text: Civil War Books and Authors. The review was posted on June 27, 2010.

Off Topic: New and Noteworthy--- WW2: Survivors' Testimony

The Pacific: Hell Was An Ocean Way, Hugh Ambrose, New American Library (NAL) Company, end notes, illustrations, maps, 490 pp., 2010, $26.95.

Yes, the author is Stephen Ambrose son. Like father, like son? Yes, trained in history and a fine writer. Is this a tie-in-to-a-movie book? Yes. Which came first the film or the book? It is not clear. Hugh Ambrose, historian, has been working in the WW2 field as historian, museum director, tour guide for over a decade. He has had a working relationship with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks before this project. The bottom line is that the books stands very well apart from the HBO series which I have yet to view.

The Pacific is reminiscent of Stud's Turkel's The Good War which is one of the finest oral histories on the war and possibly one of the finest collection of participant testimonies from the 20th century. Ambrose notes that his book has more characters than the video series. As an infrequent reader in WW2 history, especially the Pacific Theater, The Pacific pleased CWL. The pacing is steady, no push-shove between the narratives and no abrupt transitions. Military and civilian testimonies are balanced and reinforce each other. The adventures are harrowing; the capture of Corregidor, the Bataan Death March, the imprisonment of the survivors, and their successful and unsuccessful escapes are memorable and heartbreaking.

Medals, marines, massacres, and MacArthur; Ambrose takes sides without being heavy handed. For those who appreciate eyewitness stories, The Pacific offers 450 pages of thoughtful and reflective testimonies that underscores that war is indeed Hell.

Jim Cullen's Model Review With Clarity And Content: A Vast and Fiendish Plot

CWL previously reviewed Johnson's A Vast and Fiendish Plot. The following review by Jim Cullen of Johnson's work is offered to CWL's readers as an example of a fine book review that serves as a model of clarity and content.

Jim Cullen, Review of Clint Johnson's "A Vast and Fiendish Plot: The Confederate Attack on New York City" (Citadel, 2010), Special to History News Network, April 8, 2010. (

[Jim Cullen, who teaches at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York, is a book review editor at HNN. He is the author of ten books, among them The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation (Oxford, 2003) and Essaying the Past: How to Read, Write, and Think about History (Blackwell-Wiley, 2009). He blogs at American History Now.]

This is a digressive, partisan, entertaining and unsettling book. Using an obscure failed 1864 plot to burn down New York City as its backdrop, popular historian Clint Johnson captures the aggrieved mood among die-hard Confederates in the closing months of the Civil War. His work also suggests the ongoing power such attacks on federal authority continue to exert in the imagination of the contemporary Right.

In the first and most fascinating section of A Vast and Fiendish Plot, Johnson traces the arc of what might be termed the romance -- or, perhaps more accurately, the marriage of convenience -- between the antebellum Cotton Kingdom and New York. The city's port facilities, financial infrastructure, and trade relationships made it the linchpin of the Southern economy, and while this interdependency periodically would cause resentment -- Johnson repeatedly cites a statistic that forty cents of every cotton dollar stayed in Manhattan -- the strong economic ties also had political as well as cultural consequences, principal among them a shared investment in slavery. The New York financial community remained sympathetic to secessionist sentiment for months after the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, who lost the city by an almost 2-1 margin, and there was talk in some quarters of the city seceding from the Union as well in early 1861. Only with the Confederate decision to attack Fort Sumter in April did this sympathy weaken. (I never understood until I read this book what a political masterstroke it truly was that Lincoln maneuvered the Fire-eaters of Charleston to fire the first shot.) By the end of 1861, it was increasingly becoming clear to the city's finance, manufacturing, and trading elites that joining the Union effort was going to be more lucrative than the slave trade ever was. While antiwar sentiment would continue to run high in the years that followed in some quarters, notably the working classes that erupted in the draft riots of 1863, the breach in the antebellum basis of the relationship would never be re-established.

After this promising beginning, Johnson gets sidetracked into a catalog of Confederate grievances with Union war policy in tactical decisions like the siege of Vicksburg in 1863 by Ulysses S. Grant, and General Philip Sheridan's systematic destruction of the Shenandoah Valley in late 1864, which sapped the Confederacy's ability to sustain its war effort. Johnson moves beyond portraying the Confederate point of view sympathetically to making some serious, albeit wobbly, allegations himself, as when he charges Lincoln with making "a horrendous mistake in judgment," in that he "may have expressly ordered or tacitly approved" an assassination attempt on Confederate president Jefferson Davis. (The evidence of this not-quite direct accusation is less than fully compelling.) By this logic, the 1864 attack on New York was no terrorist act, but rather a blow for justice in which those who sanctioned or condoned total war would get a taste of their own medicine.

This section of the book brings the underlying logic of the preceding one into focus: Johnson wants to show that the North was as racist as the South, and to suggest both a moral equivalence between the sections as well as a sense of legitimate grievance on the part of the Confederacy regarding Union conduct of the war that would justify the attempt to destroy Manhattan. The argument for Northern racism has, of course, long since been embraced as a staple premise of the academic left, so this is a fairly deft maneuver on Johnson's part. But a case that relies heavily on a coalition of slaveholders and bankers as a representative cross-section of American public opinion is not one that invites much in the way of identification or assent. One of the byproducts of this line of thinking, inside and outside the academy, is to make the fact that slavery did end, by Constitutional means, seem mysterious, if not impossible to understand.

In the second half of A Vast and Fiendish Plot, Johnson finally turns his attention to the sequence of events leading up to November 25, 1864, when a group of eight conspirators, many of them former colleagues of the dead Morgan, executed a long-planned operation in which they would break twelve dozen vials of an incendiary substance known as "Greek Fire" in twenty New York hotels. The conspirators expected their work would unleash the bottled fury of tens of thousands of city residents, who would express their solidarity with the Confederacy (or, at any rate, their hatred of the federal government). Needless to say, this wellspring of popular support for their actions was a figment of their imaginations. But Johnson also carefully traces the amateurishness of the conspirators, who not only did little to maintain their undercover operations, much of it based out of Canada, but who also failed to understand their chosen weapon. Never realizing that their fires would need oxygen for a true conflagration, they left the windows at their chosen sites closed, allowing the fires to be quickly doused. He also notes that by lighting the fires in the early evening, rather than the middle of the night, for supposedly humanitarian reasons, they blunted the force of their attack. While a number of the operatives were caught, only one was executed. Another, John William Headley, recounted the plot in his 1901 book Confederate Operations in New York and Canada. Johnson relies heavily on this source, which is of questionable veracity (as Johnson notes, Headley doesn't even remember the name of one of his collaborators). So while the whole incident is intriguing for what it might have been, it is finally an asterisk of Civil War history.

In a somewhat disquieting late chapter of the book, Johnson offers a five-part postmortem on the attack, pointing out (in disappointment?) the failures in execution that prevented an otherwise plausible plan from being realized. This analysis takes the form of crisply formulated principles, like "Good saboteurs wait for the right conditions," or ""Attacks are more successful when the target is sleeping." While it would not be fair to assert that Johnson actually endorsed what these people did, he never actually condemns them, either, and it's not hard to imagine a certain kind of reader interpreting his analysis as a kind of training manual.

Johnson, the author of eleven previous books, including The Politically Incorrect South (and Why it Will Rise Again), is a very good storyteller, and academic historians would do well to be attentive to the strong sense of narrative pacing that marks even his detours. But one finishes this book wondering to what ends, political and moral, his talent is being applied.

Text Source: History News Network

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Forthcoming and Noteworthy---The War's Impact On The Environment

Flora and Fauna of the Civil War: An Environmental Reference Guide,Kelby Ouchley, Louisiana State University Press, 272 pp., 7 illustrations, $29.95. [August 2010]

During the Civil War, humans impacted plants and animals on an unprecedented scale as soldiers on both sides waged the most environmentally destructive war ever on American soil. Refugees and armies alike tramped across the landscape foraging for food, shelter, and fuel. Wild plants and animals formed barriers for armies and carried disease, yet also provided medicine and raw materials necessary to implement war, greatly influencing the day-to-day life of soldiers and civilians alike. Of the thousands of books written about the Civil War, few mention the environment, and none address the topic as a principal theme.

In Flora and Fauna of the Civil War, Kelby Ouchley blends traditional and natural history to create a unique text that explores both the impact of the Civil War on the surrounding environment and the reciprocal influence of plants and animals on the war effort.

With an increasing rate of literacy in the country, the war generated an abundance of letters, diaries, and journals in which soldiers and civilians penned descriptions of plants and animals, sometimes as a brief comment in passing and other times as part of a noteworthy event in their lives. Ouchley collects and organizes these first-person accounts of the Civil War environment, adding expert analysis and commentary in order to offer an array of fascinating insights on the natural history of the era.

After discussing the physical setting of the war and exploring humans’ attitudes toward nature during the Civil War period, Ouchley presents the flora and fauna by individual species or closely related group in the words of the participants themselves. From ash trees to willows, or alligators to white-tail deer, the excerpts offer glimpses of personal encounters with the natural world during the war, revealing how soldiers and civilians thought about and interacted with wild flora and fauna in a time of epic historical events.

Collectively, no better sources exist to reveal human attitudes toward the environment in the Civil War era. This one-of-a-kind reference book is sure to spark widespread interest among Civil War scholars, writers, and enthusiasts, as well as environmental historians.

Kelby Ouchley was a biologist and manager of national wildlife refuges for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for more than thirty years. He and his wife Amy live in the woods near Rocky Branch, Louisiana, in a cypress house surrounded by white oaks and black hickories.

Text Source: Louisiana University Press

Monday, June 21, 2010

News--- Photograph of Enslaved Children? Historic Sleuthing

Portrait or Postcard? The Controversy over a “Rare” Photograph of Slave Children, Mary Niall Mitchell, History News Network, June 21, 2010.

For those of us who work with historical photographs (particularly images from the nineteenth century, when the medium was still in its infancy) there are few things more thrilling than stumbling on an image we didn’t know existed. But finding and then identifying historical photographs with any certainty, particularly the subjects in them, is tricky business. Retrieving the story behind the image—who took it, of whom, and why—can often be near impossible.

So I was surprised last week to see an AP story about a “rare” photograph of slave children. The accompanying image—purportedly of two boys, either enslaved or just recently freed, from North Carolina taken in the 1860s dressed in ragged clothes, seated on a wooden barrel, posed for the camera—intrigued me for several reasons. For one, my own reading of the image was quite different from what was described in the wire article and subsequent reports (recent sleuthing by collectors supports my suspicions, as I’ll explain).

Second, the eagerness to accept the authenticity of this image as a reflection of daily life in the South in this era is based on, at best, a shallow reading of the history of black children in the photography of this period. Finally, the shock the image of “slave children” seemed to give reporters and readers, and even some experts, makes it clear that the picture of antebellum slavery most people hold in their heads is an outdated one. If they imagine Southern plantations were sustained largely by the sweat and blood by enslaved adults, the work of recent historians has brought another view to light, one in which young people made up the majority of the enslaved.

The basic story about the discovery and subsequent dispute over the photograph’s provenance, is as follows. A collector named Keya Morgan recently purchased the album containing the photograph, found in an attic in North Carolina, for $30,000. He also purchased, at the same sale, for $20,000, a deed of sale for a slave named John, valued at $1,150 in 1854. The deed seems to have been represented to Morgan as the sale document for one of the boys in the photograph, but this link seems unlikely. The price is awfully high for an infant in that period, which is what either boy in the photograph would have been at the time of sale if the picture had been taken in the 1860s. Subsequent digging by the AP and others found what seems to be the original petition for the sale in the Digital Archive of Slavery, which suggests that the slave John, mentioned in the deed, was twenty-seven or twenty-eight in 1854.

Bringing further attention to the photograph was the initial attribution of the image to someone in Matthew Brady’s photographic studio (the caption beneath Morgan’s photograph reads simply “Brady”). If a link to the famous Civil War photographer could be confirmed, perhaps it could justify the high sale price. Web searches by a blogger named Kate Marcus and a collector named Sherry Howard, however, found other copies of this image in stereoscope format (meant to be seen through a 3-D like viewfinder popular from the mid- to late nineteenth century). One copy recently sold on eBay for $163, and another is in the New York Public Library Digital Gallery. Both are attributed to J.N. Wilson, a photographer active in Savannah, Georgia in the 1870s and 1880s, and seem to have been part of a series of “Plantation Scenes.” The caption in the NYPL catalog (which presumably appears on card’s verso) reads: “Plantation Scene; Happy Little Nigs.”

Complete Text of article: Mary Niall Mitchell

Mary Niall Mitchell is Associate Professor of History at the University of New Orleans. Her latest book, Raising Freedom's Child: Black Children and Visions of the Future after Slavery (NYU, 2008), is now available in paperback.

Top Image Source: University of New Orleans
Bottom Image Source: New York University Press

News---Photograph of Slave Children Launches History Sleuths

Rare Photo Of Slave Children Found In NC Attic, Nicole Norfleet, Associated Press, June 10, 2010.

A haunting 150-year-old photo found in a North Carolina attic shows a young black child named John, barefoot and wearing ragged clothes, perched on a barrel next to another unidentified young boy. Art historians believe it's an extremely rare Civil War-era photograph of children who were either slaves at the time or recently emancipated.

The photo, which may have been taken in the early 1860s, was a testament to a dark part of American history, said Will Stapp, a photographic historian and founding curator of the National Portrait Gallery's photographs department at the Smithsonian Institution. "It's a very difficult and poignant piece of American history," he said. "What you are looking at when you look at this photo are two boys who were victims of that history."

In April, the photo was found at a moving sale in Charlotte, accompanied by a document detailing the sale of John for $1,150, not a small sum in 1854. New York collector Keya Morgan said he paid $30,000 for the photo album including the photo of the young boys and several family pictures and $20,000 for the sale document. Morgan said the deceased owner of the home where the photo was found was thought to be a descendant of John.

A portrait of slave children is rare, Morgan said. "I buy stuff all the time, but this shocked me," he said. What makes the picture an even more compelling find is that several art experts said it was created by the photography studio of Mathew Brady, a famous 19th-century photographer known for his portraits of historical figures such as President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Stapp said the photo was probably not taken by Brady himself but by Timothy O'Sullivan, one of Brady's apprentices. O'Sullivan took a multitude of photos depicting the carnage of the Civil War. In 1862, O'Sullivan famously photographed a group of some of the first slaves liberated after Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

Such photos were circulated in the North by abolitionists to garner support for the Union during the Civil War, said Harold Holzer, an author of several books about Lincoln. Holzer works as an administrator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Most of the photos depicted adult slaves who had been beaten or whipped, he said. The photo of the two boys is more subtle, Holzer said, which may be why it wasn't widely circulated and remained unpublished for so long. "To me, it's such a moving and astonishing picture," he said.

Ron Soodalter, an author and member of the board of directors at the Abraham Lincoln Institute in Washington, D.C., said the photo depicts the reality of slavery. "I think this picture shows that the institution of slavery didn't pick or choose," said Soodalter, who has written several books on historic and modern slavery. "This was a generic horror. It victimized the old, the young."

For now, Morgan said, he is keeping the photo in his personal collection, but he said he has had an inquiry to sell the photo to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He said he is considering participating in the creation of a video documentary about John. "This kid was abused and mistreated and people forgot about him," Morgan said. "He doesn't even exist in history. And to know that there were a million children who were like him. I've never seen another photo like that that speaks so much for children."

CWL: Looks like a Reconstruction Era photograph to me.
Text and Image Source: Google News

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

New and Noteworthy: Classic Writing on Rebel Generals

Confederate Generals in the Western Theater: Classic Essays on America’s Civil War, Volume One, Lawrence Lee Hewitt (Editor), Arthur W., Jr. Bergeron (Editor), Terrence J. Winschel, University of Tennessee Press, 7 maps, notes, bibliography, index, 312 pages. $45.95.

The following is a portion of a review at Civil War Books and Authors

This essay collection is the first volume in University of Tennessee Press's new Western Theater in the Civil War series. Dedicating its fifteen chapters to noted historian Thomas L. Connelly, general editors Larry Hewitt and the late Art Bergeron assembled for Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, Vol. 1 a who's who of scholars. Five additional series volumes are already in the works, three more for the West and a pair covering Trans-Mississippi generals. But why begin with a compilation of previously published essays? Most of the articles originally appeared in obscure publications, read by few, and the editors felt they were deserving of renewed attention for a wider audience. Because the demands of scholarship have become more exacting over time and interpretations necessarily change with the introduction of new source material and specialist studies, it is no surprise that the strength of the essays (one is almost 50 years old) varies, although the editors did go back and standardize the notations and some of the authors revised and updated their work for the new volume. Additionally, there are some editorial comments inserted within the notes.

The first essay, a brief and uncompromising composition by Grady McWhiney, takes note of Leonidas Polk's unbroken stream of military blunders and insubordinate behavior.

Continue the review at Civil War Books and Authors

Off Topic News: Found---World's Only Well-Preserved Roman Gladiator Cemetery; They Died With Their Heads Off

Roman Gladiator Cemetery Found In England, CNN Wire Staff, June 8, 2010.
Heads hacked off, a bite from a lion, tiger or bear, massive muscles on massive men -- all clues that an ancient cemetery uncovered in northern England is the final resting place of gladiators, scientists have announced after seven years of investigations.

The archaeological dig has found "what may be the world's only well-preserved Roman gladiator cemetery," the York Archaeological Trust said. Scientists have found 80 skeletons in the "unique" cemetery under the city of York, northern England, since 2003. They announced their discoveries on Sunday, ahead of a documentary about the site due to air in Britain on June 14. This was one of two big archaeological developments, with Israeli scientists announcing the discovery of a huge cache of ancient religious objects.

They first thought the graveyard might contain the remains of criminals or political purges. But that doesn't explain the teeth mark. "One of the most significant items of evidence is a large carnivore bite mark - probably inflicted by a lion, tiger or bear -- an injury which must have been sustained in an arena context, " said Kurt Hunter-Mann, the lead archaeologist on the dig.

"Nothing like them has ever been identified before on a Roman skeleton," said Michael Wysocki, who examined the remains in the forensic anthropology laboratory at the University of Central Lancashire. He said the bite marks suggest the remains were of someone who fought as a gladiator. "It would seem highly unlikely that this individual was attacked by a tiger as he was walking home from the pub in York 2,000 years ago," he said.

One arm was bigger than the other in many remains, the scientists found -- a suggestion that the men were gladiators who trained from a young age with a weapon in one hand. Other clues include healed and unhealed weapon injuries, possible hammer blows to the head, and burial with "grave goods" such joints of meat or pottery -- a sign of respect. It's not certain that the men were gladiators, Hunter-Mann cautioned. "The research is continuing and we must, therefore, keep an open mind," the archaeologist said.

But "almost all the individuals are male, very robust and mostly above average height -- features which would also be consistent with a gladiator interpretation. Many also have muscle attachment marks on their arm bones suggesting severe muscle stress," he said. They also appear to come from all over the Roman empire, which straddled the Mediterranean for hundreds of years, starting more than 2,000 years ago. "These are internationally important discoveries. We don't have any other potential gladiator cemeteries with this level of preservation anywhere else in the world," Wysocki said.

The skeletons are between 1,600 and 1,900 years old. The most impressive grave was that of a tall man aged between 18 and 23, buried, probably in a coffin, in a large oval grave about 1,700 years ago. He had been decapitated by several sword blows to the neck, the scientists said.

Buried with him were what appear to have been the remains of substantial joints of meat from at least four horses -- that left behind 424 horse bones -- possibly consumed at the funeral, plus some cow and pig remains. Other graves also had joints of horse, sheep or chicken, possibly remains of funeral feasts, the archaeologists speculated. The site was first discovered when archaeologists probed an area scheduled for a housing development in 2003.

Also on Monday, Israeli archaeologists announced the discovery of a huge cache of religious objects about 3,500 years old -- older than the Bible itself, and nearly twice the age of the Roman skeletons. "It would appear that the vessels were used in a pagan cult that worshipped idols. During this period it was customary that each city had a temple of its own where special cultic vessels were used," said archaeologists Uzi Ad and Edwin van den Brink.

They include a vessel that was used for burning incense, a sculpted face of a woman that was part of a cultic cup used in dedicating a libation to a god, goblets and bowls with high bases and tableware that was intended for eating and drinking, the Israel Antiquities Authority said. Scientists called the discovery "extremely rare" -- both because it is so old and because the objects are so well preserved. Some of them had been brought from Mycenae in Greece, including a storage vessel for precious oils -- evidence of the ancient trade relations that existed with Greece, they said.

See the Web Video: Roman Gladiators' Cemetery

Text Source: CNN Wire News

Top Image Source: UK Telegraph

Middle Image Source: UK Mirror

Bottom Image Source: Jilele, site of cemetery

New And Noteworthy: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in the Union Army

The Gentlemen and the Roughs: Violence, Honor, and Manhood in the Union Army, Lorien Foote, NYU Press, 256 pages, $39.00,

During the Civil War, the Union army—like the society from which it sprang—appeared cohesive enough to withstand four years of grueling war against the Confederates and to claim victory in 1865. But fractiousness bubbled below the surface of the North’s presumably united front. Internal fissures were rife within the Union army: class divisions, regional antagonisms, ideological differences, and conflicting personalities all distracted the army from quelling the Southern rebellion.

In this highly original contribution to Civil War and gender history, Lorien Foote reveals that these internal battles were fought against the backdrop of manhood. Clashing ideals of manliness produced myriad conflicts when educated, refined, and wealthy officers (“gentlemen”) found themselves commanding a hard-drinking group of fighters (”roughs”)—a dynamic that often resulted in violence and even death. Challenges, fights, and duels were common. Based on extensive research into heretofore ignored primary sources—courts-martial records and regimental order books—The Gentlemen and the Roughs uncovers holes in our understanding of the men who fought the Civil War and the society that produced them.

Lorien Foote authored Rich Man's War, Rich Man's Fight: Class, Ideology, and Discipline in the Union Army in Civil War History 51:3 (2005). Here is a beginning segment of the essay:

"In September 1861, for three successive days, an officer of the 2d Massachusetts tied a private to a tree for one hour. A courts martial had found the man guilty of drunkenness and insubordination. Regiments encamped near the Second noticed this punishment and disapproved. On the third day, as the man hung bound to the tree, a large crowd gathered around the edge of the Second's camp. Hurling insults at the officers, many men in the crowd took up a cry of "cut him down!" The crowd quickly became a mob that was not easily subdued. After this incident, officers from several regiments approached Colonel Gordon, commander of the Second, and asked him to punish the man in a more private place. Gordon refused. Wilder Dwight, the Major of the 2d Massachusetts, commented bitterly to his family that the Second was the only regiment that attempted to maintain discipline. "Even the officers among our neighbors discountenance the severity which alone insures our discipline," he lamented. "To-day our army is crippled by the ideas of equality and independence which have colored the whole life of our people. When this defect is cured, and men recognize authority and obey without knowing why, we shall begin to get... "

Text and top Image: New York University Press
Bottom Image: Lorien Foote, Facebook

Friday, June 04, 2010

New and Noteworthy: The Battle of New Market in Context

Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market and the Opening of the Shenandoah Campaign, May 1864, Charles Knight, Savas Beatie Publications, 11 maps, photographs and illustrations, appendices, notes, bibliography, index, 360 pages, $29.95

Civil War Books and Authors weblog on Thursday, May 13 gives Valley Thunder high marks:

Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market and the Opening of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, May 1864 by Charles R. Knight (Savas Beatie, 2010).

William C. Davis's The Battle of New Market (Doubleday, 1975) has always been my favorite of his many books, but in the 35 years since its publication enough new source material has emerged to justify a new book length account. Happily for students of the Civil War and the 1864 campaign in the Shenandoah, Charles R. Knight's Valley Thunder is a masterpiece of modern battle history, firmly establishing itself as the new standard work on the subject, a situation that Davis himself readily concedes in his gracious and incredibly effusive introduction to Knight's book. When Davis places Valley Thunder in the top dozen Civil War battle histories that have ever been published, it should raise eyebrows a bit, but, if he's overdone it, he's not off by much. The review continues at Civil War Books and Authors weblog.

Check out the YouTube 4 minute video trailer.

Off Topic: Classic Music Live

OK. I'll tell you the story.

Buffalo, New York, 1976. I rushed the stage for the encores when the security let us. I got there first on on the band's left side. By the end of the first song, my feet were in the air, literally not figuratively. The crowd was so packed that I got lifted up and tipped, at the waist, on to the stage. Evil stares were cast my way by big, big black shirted men.

I pushed back and stood straight up with my feet off the ground. Bruce roared past. I screamed the lyrics at him as he went by me. At the center of the stage he slammed on the brakes and a sheet of sweat came right through his clothes and hung in the the air like light on a Christmas tree. He turned back to look a me. And then he came, stood he front of me, gave me the Big Nod and ran back to the center of the stage.

Later I 'screamed his name at night in the streets'.

So check out the 6:00+ minute version of 'Dancing in the Dark'

Discussion and News: Why Is It Important To Study How We Remember The Civil War?

Why Is It Important To Study How We Remember The Civil War?, Brooks D. Simpson, Civil Warriors Weblog's URL

In the last two decades the scholarly study of how Americans remember the American Civil War has become something of a cottage industry in the profession. I admit that at times I grow a bit skeptical about it, even as I am intrigued by some of the findings. It’s not as if other historians have not written about memory before: the work of Merrill Peterson and Norman Cantor comes to mind. At times some studies simply employ in rough fashion the process of deconstruction evident in literature studies, and at times the conclusions reached in some of these studies seem to belabor the obvious. Indeed, it may well be time to take a step back in order to see how this field is progressing, and to do so with a little care and discernment, instead of rushing heedlessly ahead to find something else to dissect. That said, what I thought was obvious may strike others as new, and in any case I like that more people are approaching sources with a critical eye.

That said, there’s still a good reason to study how Americans remember the Civil War era, including the decades leading up to the war and the Reconstruction period. That’s because today we see people engaged in the misuse of the past to justify present political beliefs and some rather deplorable prejudices. Take, for example, this little affair, which Kevin Levin brought to my attention on Civil War Memory.

CWL:The instance that Levin [Civil War Memory] brought to the attention of Brooks is a controversy generated by a Sons of Confederate Veterans speaker and an communities heritage celebration

Brooks' phrase ". . . some studies simply employ in rough fashion the process of deconstruction evident in literature studies, and at times the conclusions reached in some of these studies seem to belabor the obvious" underscores CWL's understanding and feelings on much of academic literature being presented today to the educational and public marketplace.

Authors will defend their conclusions drawn from their deconstruction of evidence as being the only obvious conclusion that can be made from the evidence. Indeed, they see their conclusions as definitive because all other conclusions before their's have been generated by the climate of the times in which they have been written. Every historical interepretation is conditional on the era in which it was written. There are no exceptions.

A fine example are Jefferson Davis' and Alexander Stephens' writings before, during, and after the Civil War. Davis, the president, and Stephens, vice president, reflect climates of opinion unique to the pre-war and post-war South as lived by committed Confederates. It appears that neo-confedates have accepted the post-war but not the pre-war statements.

Image Source: Sons of Confederate Veterans