Friday, July 29, 2011

News---At Sailor's Creek Did The Wrong Federal Soldier Get the Medal Of Honor For Capturing Custis Lee?

Massachusetts Soldier’s Scion Stakes Claim For His Civil War Due, Theo Emery, Boston Globe, July 27, 2011.

The Army long ago presented the nation’s most hallowed award, the Medal of Honor, to a Civil War soldier from New York for capturing Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s eldest son. But sometimes history calls for a bit of revision. Now, 146 years after the capture, the Army has agreed to take another look at whether it made a mistake and whether a young private from the Berkshires deserved the honor instead. Regiment accounts provide reason to think Private David D. White, of Cheshire, nabbed Lee during a barbaric battle in the wilds of Virginia in the war’s waning days.

The Army’s unusual reconsideration is a victory for White’s descendants, particularly his great-great-grandson, Frank E. White Jr., who has worked for decades to set the record straight. He recently enlisted the aid of Massachusetts lawmakers in the effort. In reviewing the case, the Army also casts a light on a key battle that is largely unknown, except among historians and Civil War buffs who note its frenzied viciousness, even in the context of a war known for its brutality.

At one junction in the Battle of Sailor’s Creek in the waning days of the war, White and his Massachusetts brethren fought a desperate hand-to-hand assault against the rebels near the banks of a swollen Virginia creek, slashing with bayonets, clubbing one another with muskets, and biting one another’s throats as they grappled on the muddy ground. The battle was a stunning victory for the Yankees; the South called it “Black Thursday.’’ Yet it became a footnote, eclipsed by the Confederate surrender days later at Appomattox.

Not so for Frank White. He wrote a 2008 book, “Sailor’s Creek: Major General G.W. Custis Lee, Captured with Controversy,’’ rekindling the dispute over whether the infantryman from Cheshire should have received the Medal of Honor for capturing George Washington Custis Lee. “To me, this is really not bragging rights,’’ said White, a New Jersey resident with deep family roots in Massachusetts. “This is really just setting the record straight. History is history.’’

White’s book methodically argues that his ancestor deserved the medal rather than Harris S. Hawthorn, a soldier with the 121st New York Infantry who also fought at Sailor’s Creek. Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation agree. “This kind of thing doesn’t come up very often, but when it does, the government should make the correction,’’ said US Representative John W. Olver, a Democrat whose letter to the chief of the Army’s awards and decorations branch started the official review process last fall. Senators John F. Kerry and Scott P. Brown have also written on White’s behalf.

White’s request for a review is rare. “I’ve never had anybody say that somebody else got my medal. This is kind of new territory in some ways,’’ said Victoria Kueck, director of operations with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The group was created by Congress in 1958 to preserve the medal’s legacy and honor its recipients. Army spokesman Mark Edwards confirmed that the case was under review by the awards and decorations branch, based at Fort Knox, Ky., but said the Army cannot comment on pending award reviews, a process that can take years.

Today, there are 3,455 Medal of Honor recipients, with the most recent granted this month to an Army Ranger. There are not a lot of people sticking up for the official recipient of the award, but Hawthorn does have one champion. Atlanta History Center president Salvatore G. Cilella Jr., who wrote a book about Hawthorn’s regiment, has debated White for years over the issue and believes that the evidence lies with Hawthorn.

Either way, the controversy is fascinating, he said, calling it “a human story - a great human story.’’ “The answer to the whole thing is that no one really knows. In history, that’s what we deal with - we deal with ambiguity and we deal with unknowns,’’ he said. The Battle of Sailor’s Creek took place April 6, 1865. Robert E. Lee’s army was retreating southwest from Richmond. About half of the force, including its wagon trains, lagged behind, and the generals in the rear decided to turn and face the federal forces behind them.

When Union forces surged across Sailor’s Creek, they were met with withering Confederate fire, and many retreated.The 37th Massachusetts Infantry - armed with state-of-the-art repeating rifles - held its ground. In the middle of the battle, a Confederate column set upon the Massachusetts men. One Confederate officer described how “the battle degenerated into butchery’’ as soldiers fought “like wild beasts’’ with every weapon they had, including their teeth and fists.

When the battle was over, about 1,100 Union soldiers were dead, injured, or missing. The toll for the Confederates was devastating: 7,700 soldiers - one quarter of Lee’s army - were casualties, including more than 3,000 soldiers and eight generals captured. Upon seeing what was left of his force, Lee exclaimed, “My God, has the army dissolved?’’ He would surrender three days later.

What happened with Lee’s son is at the heart of the dispute. According to transcripts of letters and battlefield reports that White submitted to the Army, Private White spotted Custis Lee on the battlefield and charged him. Lee initially refused to surrender to an enlisted man and then gave up his sword and pistol to an officer, Captain William C. Morrill. The official Army record says that White captured Lee, but it separately lists Hawthorn as his captor, backed by an affidavit from the New York regiment’s chaplain. Hawthorn’s commander noted in his report that “there was some controversy in the matter.’’ In addition, at least two other men bragged about capturing Lee.

Though both Hawthorn and White received credit for Lee’s capture and received promotions, only Hawthorn applied for the Medal of Honor, but not until 1894. He was one of hundreds of veterans who scrambled for medals, some making spurious claims of bravery in support of their applications. When the Massachusetts regiment learned of the award, it vehemently contested the decision, calling it “a great injustice.’’

But Secretary of War Russell A. Alger rejected the appeal. In 1916, a panel of Army generals reviewed every medal and rescinded more than 900, but not Hawthorn’s. For decades, White has been researching the dispute, digging up letters from members of the Massachusetts regiment and scouring the National Archives. He has been in contact with a Morrill descendant who says he still has Lee’s pistol.

There is a plausible explanation for why two soldiers could claim to have captured the same man: After Lee surrendered to White, he was ordered behind Union lines for processing, and Hawthorn stopped him again as he milled among other captive soldiers, perhaps as he sought an escape route. “I don’t think there was any slight intended, but that’s possibly how it happened,’’ said Chris Calkins, manager at the state historical park that marks the site.

Sharon S. MacDonald, a retired Illinois State University history professor who helped a black Union soldier receive a posthumous Medal of Honor and is now aiding White, sees a more sinister explanation: Hawthorn committed fraud. She believes the medal’s integrity is at stake. “There is absolutely no doubt that Harris Hawthorn fabricated his application for a Medal of Honor. No doubt at all,’’ she said.

The American Legion post in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., the site of Hawthorn’s grave, held a memorial for him in 2006. Walter Zwinge, the post commander who presided at the ceremony, knew nothing of the dispute. While he is intrigued by the controversy, he has no reason to doubt Hawthorn’s claim. “As far as I know, [Hawthorn] is a Medal of Honor winner, and that’s the way it stands,’’ Zwinge said. “Until somebody can prove to my satisfaction that he doesn’t deserve it, then we have to go with what we’ve got.’’

Text and Image Source: Boston Globe, July 27, 2011

Talent----Conrad Wise Chapman and John Gadsby Chapman----Prints Available From Museum of the Confederacy

Conrad Wise Chapman’s and John Gadsby Champman's Charleston paintings in a special interactive Web presentation of the Museum of the Confederacy. The Museum of the Confederacy has reproduced the line of the most famous of Civil War art that has the setting of Charleston, South Carolina. There are 31 original paintings by Conrad Wise Chapman and John Gadsby Chapman preserved in the Museum of the Confederacy's vault, are now available as prints.

Conrad Wise Chapman was born in 1842, in Washington, D.C. and is known for his depictions of the Civil War, in particular a series of thirty-one oil paintings depicting the forts and batteries in the area of Charleston, South Carolina.

He was the son of John Gadsby Chapman, an Alexandria, Virginia artist and teacher, who moved his family to Rome in 1850 when Conrad was eight. While in Italy, Conrad was trained by his father. Although he was raised in Europe, he was strongly attracted to the Southern United States, and returned in 1861 to Virginia at the age of nineteen to enlist in the Confederate Army as the Civil War began. He was soon branded with the nickname of "Old Rome".

He received head wounds at Shiloh and participated in the siege of Vicksburg. Upon recovery, he returned to Virginia, and then transferred a year later to Charleston. There, on the recommendation of his father's friend General Henry A. Wise, he became part of the staff of General P.G.T. Beauregard. He was soon given orders to create a pictorial record of the Confederate Army's defense of Charleston Harbor, and other forts and batteries of the city.

Chapman completed a series of illustrations between September 1863 and March 1864, which laid the groundwork for thirty-one small paintings. These historical documents are noted for their strong contrasts, deep perspective, and color clarity. In 1864, Chapman had moved to Richmond, Virginia, along with other artists such as portrait painter Edward C Bruce, landscapist John Ross Key, Adalbert Volck, and the political caricaturist, William Ludwell Sheppard. Perhaps never again would Richmond experience such a concentration of creativity.

Chapman's notable series of thirty-one paintings were painted, however, in Rome, where he had traveled on leave, due to family illnesses. An example would be Fort Sumter Interior, Sunrise, December 9, 1864 (oil on board, Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA). In this work he underscored the tragic dimensions of the bombardment of the fort, contrasting the desolate destruction with the beauty of its natural setting.

When Chapman returned to the Confederacy, the war was almost over. After Lee's surrender, he followed the Confederate General John B. Magruder to Mexico to serve the Emperor Maxmillian. During the next seven years his paintings concentrated on that country's landscape, the first American artist to do so. Overall, Chapman's works have great historical significance as Civil War record. In addition, his art is included for the first time, in the category of Southern, as well as American art. He lived primarily in Rome, Paris, and Mexico for the rest of his life, though Conrad Chapman died in Hampton, Virginia, in 1910.

Museum of the Confederacy's Main Page with Chapman Prints Link

Text Source for biographical information on the Chapmans from AskArt.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New and Noteworthy---Photographing Union Soldiers: Images of Surgery, Anesthesia, And Pathological Specimens

Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Photography by R.B. Bontecou, Dr. Stanley B. Burns, Burns Archive Press, 150+ illustrations, bibliography, no index, July 2011 168 pp.,$50.00

Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Photography by R.B. Bontecou, a revealing exposé of the wartime clinical photographs of Reed Bontecou, is a new significant chapter in Civil War history. The war has been under writers’ and scholars’ microscopes for the past 150 years and there are few significant things yet to be uncovered of general interest. The subject of this book is one of them – clinical photography during the war – and the images are artistically posed in the style of the masters of photography, making them major works of art.

Through his remarkable portraits, Bontecou created and became a legend. This is the first volume of a series showcasing the Civil War carte de visite (CdV) photographs of Reed Brockway Bontecou, MD, Surgeon-in-Charge of Harewood U.S. Army General Hospital, Washington DC. He was responsible for pioneering and taking the largest number of photographs of wounded soldiers during the war and was the largest contributor of photographs and specimens to the Army Medical Museum and Civil War medical publications. His close up images of surgery, anesthesia, and patients posing with their pathological specimens were unique for his time. Many photographs are of patients pre- and postoperation, views of patients showing the progression of specific treatments, or the various stages of diseases.

The album is also the pioneering effort by one physician to document war wounds and to use photography to teach physicians how to care for these wounds. None of the clinical images were published as photographs, most of these images are now reproduced photographically in this series for the first time. Bontecou’s photographs are beautiful, artistic representations of photographic art that transcend the subject. This book will become a classic and has been heralded by the Civil War medical historians who have seen the images and text as it was produced. Michael Rhode, Chief Archivist of the Otis Historical Archive, National Museum of Health and Medicine wrote the forward. He notes “that the presentation of these images is a great service as even I have not seen most of them.”

To place the photographs in context of their creation, a history of Bontecou’s career is presented along with a history of the various images and albums he made. A summary of the last campaigns of the war are also briefly documented. A list of units represented is documented along with a list of the battles and the specific soldiers wounded in them. About 103 plates of soldiers from the CdV album posing with identification boards are included, and arranged by states but not numerically by unit number. Also discussed are the artistic and scientific merit of the images. A presentation of the role of sacrifice and death during the Civil War era is important in helping understand the general mental state of servicemen of that era. This chapter documents some death and dying concepts in the time period and emphasizes the lack of concern of Federal government authorities for identification and proper burial of servicemen.

In addition to being an internationally distinguished author, curator, historian, collector, publisher, and archivist, Dr. Stanley B. Burns, MD, FACS, is a New York City ophthalmologist and Clinical Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center. In 1975 he began collecting historic photography. In 1977 he founded The Burns Archive to share his discoveries and began his writing and publishing career. Dr. Burns’ collection of vintage photographs (1840-1950) has been generally recognized as the most important private comprehensive collection of early photography. It has been showcased in numerous national media venues worldwide. Artists, researchers and historians can access the one million+ photographs. The images have been the source of numerous Hollywood feature films, documentaries and museum exhibitions. Dr. Burns has authored forty photo-historical texts and curated more than fifty photographic exhibitions. He has been a founding donor of photography collections, including the J.P. Getty Museum and The Bronx Museum of the Arts. He spends his time lecturing, creating exhibits, and writing books on underappreciated areas of history and photography.

Text Source: Burns Archive Press Release

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New and Noteworthy----How Did Stonewall Jackson Become Worshipped?

The Surprising Story of How Stonewall Jackson Became a Mythical Figure for the Religious Right, Wallace Hettle, History News Network, July 5, 2011.

Next week will mark the 150th anniversary of First Bull Run, the initial major battle of the Civil War. The combat that day remains memorable for several reasons, including the importance of the telegraph and the use of trains to transport troops. Few images in Civil War history are more compelling and tragic than the panic of green Union soldiers running away from the field.

One other notable aspect of First Bull Run is that here Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson got his nickname. South Carolina’s Barnard Bee, mortally wounded in the battle, is believed to have proclaimed something like “there stands Jackson like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here and we shall conquer.” He may have said it, though it is not clear who heard him in the din of battle. If he did say that above the clash of artillery, we may think his words a bit pretentious. It does not matter: Jackson had been “baptized with blood.” The Confederacy needed a hero with a cool nickname, and Jackson fit the bill.

Jackson’s heroic wartime image, as well as his posthumous reputation, is not just about a nickname. Jackson became a truly great general, but his fame goes beyond his military exploits. While the Lost Cause movement to memorialize the Confederacy may have slightly faded by the middle of the twentieth century, traces of admiration for Jackson remain on the landscape today. If a traveler wants to commemorate Jackson’s death, he needs to visit a good half dozen sites. The first would be the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia. There Jackson lies with his second wife and daughter under a suitably idealized statue of the standing general, sculpted by Edward Valentine in 1891. From the cemetery, one can continue in Lexington to the Virginia Military Institute, or VMI, where Jackson taught until 1861. VMI, in ways more numerous than one can describe in brief, serves as a living memorial to Jackson. A perennial attraction there is the mounted hide of Jackson’s warhorse, Little Sorrel. The horse’s hide attracts 50,000 viewers a year. After the long-past indignity of being skinned by a taxidermist, Little Sorrel today gets genuine respect. Rescued from a drawer on campus in 1997, the horse’s bones have been buried under a tastefully understated marker in his memory, on the school’s parade grounds.

If one travels east to the battlefield at Chancellorsville, Virginia, one can see both a modern obelisk and an older, timeworn tablet, both of which supposedly mark the spot where a fatal volley fired by his own men hit Jackson. (Of course, both markers cannot be correct.) There is a related shrine about thirty miles to the south. Jackson was badly wounded in his left arm, and the risk of gangrene required amputation. After emergency surgery, authorities quickly moved him south to Guinea Station. The surgery failed to save the general, who lingered and died of pneumonia, or perhaps sepsis. A “Stonewall Jackson Shrine,” complete with the deathbed, still marks where Jackson passed away.

However, that still leaves more spots on the tour. Strange as it may seem, no tribute to Jackson’s death can neglect his left arm, buried on the Chancellorsville battlefield. The site of Jackson’s arm, marked by a simple gravestone, is open to the public on weekends only. During the week, the National Park Service can provide a pass and directions to the resting place of the arm, which lies on park service land. James Power Smith, the last surviving member of Jackson’s staff, erected the marker in 1903, on land known as Ellwood Plantation, which the park service has recently acquired. According to Park Service historian John Hennessey, his colleagues have been surprised by the “intense interest generated not by the magnificent [Ellwood] house, but by the curiosity of Jackson’s arm.” There is a final irony in Jackson’s highly memorialized death. Smith’s marker only approximately shows where Jackson’s arm lays—no one today is quite sure where it is actually buried. Still, tourists come to visit what they believe is the site of Jackson’s arm, and the marker rewards them with a sense of certainty that they have completed their task.

Scholar Barry Schwartz has described modern America as a cynical “post-heroic society.” After Vietnam, Watergate, and a host of other scandals, sophisticated Americans are supposed to know that even the greatest of leaders can have glaring flaws. Some of us today feel a bit foolish expressing adulation for any historical figure. Yet a significant audience still idolizes Jackson. Readers of military history see in him an admirable blend of ferocity and genius, and treat his Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862 as a sign of greatness. In the wake of Ron Maxwell’s laudatory 2003 film featuring Jackson, Gods and Generals, a significant number of present-day Americans found inspiration in the Jackson family’s home life, seemingly based on ideals of Christian piety. Jackson also receives accolades for his conspicuous religiosity. As journalist Jeff Sharlet noted in a Harper’s Magazine story, “In the pantheon of fundamentalist history, the man revered above all others is General Stonewall Jackson of the Confederacy.”

Thus, Jackson remains a hero to this day, admired by countless Americans north and south. Among Confederate heroes, only Robert E. Lee surpasses Jackson in popular esteem. Such veneration is difficult to measure with precision. Yet as recently as 1995, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp honoring Jackson, making him a figure who apparently transcends the normal bureaucratic dynamics of political correctness. That stamp, mounted as a lapel pin, was one of many tributes to Jackson available on eBay in 2010.

Martyrs like Jackson are as varied as the myth-makers who tell their stories. In spite of Jackson’s popularity with southern conservatives, martyrdom is not just a quirk of the religious right. If you dislike Jackson because he fought for the Confederacy and owned slaves, you can revere the Chicago’s Haymarket martyrs, left-wing folksinger Joe Hill, or Leon Trotsky. If politics is not your thing, there is always fiction. There is Uncle Tom, for example. My son, like so many kids, admires Harry Potter’s mentor, Dumbledore, who was slain by a double agent working for the evil Voldemort.

In writing about Jackson in history and memory, I ran a certain risk. I am a life-long resident of the Midwest, raised in a Protestant church. I have read every book on the Lost Cause I could find. Yet Jackson, the monuments, markers, and relics all struck me as a little weird—almost like Catholic reverence for a saint. Since this view of heritage activities is enormously patronizing to conservative white southerners, I have tried to excise it from my book. (I may not have succeeded, but you will have to read the book to find that out). For most people the decision to revere a heroic martyr is not bizarre or pernicious—it is a way of identifying with a selfless act for the good of a higher cause. My home office sports a bust of Jackson, but across the room a Malcolm X poster stares down ominously at Stonewall. Some would say that fascination with dead heroes is out step in our supposedly skeptical age, but such a view embodies a condescension towards ordinary people I would rather do without.

Wallace Hettle is professor of history at the University of Northern Iowa and the author of Inventing Stonewall Jackson: A Civil War Hero in History and Memory.

Text Source: History News Network, July 5, 2011

News---Civil War Reenactors: Who Are Those Guys?

Civil War Re-enactors Immerse Themselves In The Time Period, Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 24, 2011.

Chris Sedlak served for 19 months in Iraq, saving his pay to buy a cannon for Civil War re-enactments. Joanne Shelby-Klein, a longtime re-enactor who became disabled, now portrays a little-known Civil War heroine who also used a wheelchair. Nick Griffey and Allyson Perry, a young couple who met through re-enacting, are devoting their lives to teaching history.

Civil War re-enactors are drawn to it for many reasons. Some feel an almost mystical connection, jokingly dubbed the Civil War gene. Others with a passion for history use it to teach outside the classroom. It's as much a lifestyle as a hobby, requiring major commitments of time and money.

Mr. Sedlak, now 37 and a Pittsburgh police officer, spent $30,000 on a working replica of a 1857 Napoleon cannon and $12,000 more for its carriage. A trailer to haul them in was $5,000. His truck needed $3,000 in modifications to tow 6,000 pounds. "I was born in the wrong century. I just was," he said of his love for re-enacting. "I look at society today and it isn't me."

He believes that morals and honorable conduct meant more then, that men respected women and bravely faced certain death. He first sensed that backward tug in time on a seventh grade trip to Gettysburg. When he was 16, he enlisted in the Ninth Pennsylvania Reserves Company A, a Pittsburgh re-enactment unit. Like all such groups, it re-creates a real unit. All troops enlist as privates and earn promotion.

To man the cannon, Mr. Sedlak resurrected the Ninth Pennsylvania's Company C, the Iron City Guards, where he is field commander. To be eligible for promotion, enlistees must be able to talk to a crowd for an hour about artillery, to drill according to National Park Service standards and to explain how to load and fire the cannon properly. The Iron City Guards gather regularly to repair and maintain their gun. The strong bond that Mr. Sedlak feels to these men also keeps him in re-enacting. "These guys are my extended family," he said.

Not every re-enactor longs for Victorian times. Ms. Perry, 22, a Saint Vincent College graduate, has a critical perspective on life for women, black people and labor. "Some people see this as very romantic, but I'm not one of them," said Ms. Perry, a Plum native and summertime National Park ranger at Gettysburg.

"I don't understand why people would say they want to go back to that time and wear those wonderful things. If you really wore the costume with all the underpinnings and the corset in the correct fashion, you would see how confining it is and how hard it was to do everyday activities. You couldn't do what you do now." But she is devoting her future to teaching about the Victorian era. This fall she begins work on her master's degree in history and women's studies at West Virginia University. Her interest began in eighth grade, when she watched the movie "Gettysburg." She wrangled permission to attend re-enactments with a friend's grandfather. At 17 she joined the civilian wing of the Ninth. In high school she spent hours studying period photographs and reading, trying to make her wardrobe authentic.

The story is continuted at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 24, 2011.

CWL: The author, Ann Rodgers, is the spouse of CWL. She is a reenactor and her impression is of Mrs. Moore, a Baltimore mother who accompanied her persistent daughter to the Getttysburg battlefield in July 1863.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New: Battles of Fair Oaks and Glendale Books Reviewed by Wilson Greene of Pamplin Historical Park, Notes Problems

The Battle of Fair Oaks: Turning Point of McClellan's Peninsula Campaign, Robert P. Broadwater, McFarland Publishing, 2011, 219 pp.,$35.00 (paper).

Reviewed by Wilson Greene (Pamplin Historical Park) Published on H-CivWar July, 2011

The Battle of Fair Oaks, or Seven Pines as it is more commonly known, was the largest engagement in the eastern theater of the Civil War at the time it occurred. Fought over a two-day period, May 31 to June 1, 1862, the battle generated more than 11,000 total casualties, although it did little to change the operational situation of the two armies contending for control of Richmond, the Confederate capital.

With the exception of a competent if little-known monograph by Steven H. Newton The Battle of Seven Pines, May 31-June 1, 1862_, 1993, this sizable clash between the forces of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston (who fell wounded near the close of the first day's combat) and Union commander George B. McClellan, has received little attention from historians except as a chapter in larger studies of the entire Peninsula Campaign. The battlefield itself is rarely visited, as twentieth-century development has blanketed the historic landscape, save for an evocative little National Cemetery at the contest's key road intersection.

Thus, a new study detailing the context, conduct, and consequences of the Battle of Fair Oaks/Seven Pines would be a welcome addition to the literature on the war. Unfortunately, Robert Broadwater's book will be a disappointment to readers hoping for such a fresh examination of a little-studied but large-scale Civil War battle.

Greene's Review of the Battle of Fair Oaks is continued at H-CivWar Reviews

The Battle of Glendale: The Day the South Nearly Won the Civil War, Jim Stempel, Jefferson McFarland Publishing, 2011, 214 pp., $35.00 (paper),

Reviewed by Wilson Greene (Pamplin Historical Park) Published on H-CivWar (July, 2011). The review is entitled: The Battle of Glendale: The Day the South Did Not Nearly Win the War

When one thinks of the pivotal battles of the American Civil War, engagements such as Antietam, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Cedar Creek, or Atlanta most often come to mind. In Jim Stempel's new book, _The Battle of Glendale: The Day the South Nearly Won the Civil War_, readers are asked to believe that the stakes on the sixth day of the Seven Days battles east of Richmond in the summer of 1862 exceeded those of every other clash of arms between 1861 and 1865. "Once ... and only once" Stempel writes in his concluding paragraph, would the South come "within a hair of victory so compelling that it would have catapulted the Confederacy to its independence," and that moment came on June 30, 1862 at Glendale (p. 194).

General Robert E. Lee, in command of the Army of Northern Virginia for less than a month in the early summer of 1862, began an offensive on June 26 designed to drive the forces of Major General George B. McClellan from the outskirts of Richmond, the Confederate capital. Lee's bold initiative quickly launched McClellan's Army of the Potomac on a desperate and difficult march southeast toward the James River and the protection of the Union navy. Lee devised a complicated plan to trap McClellan near the rural intersection of the Long Bridge, Charles City, and Willis Church roads east of Richmond. He divided his divisions into four distinct components, three of which were to descend on the vital crossroads that funneled the Federals toward their safe haven along the James. Three of those four wings failed to execute their portion of the plan, leaving only the divisions of James Longstreet and Ambrose Powell Hill to assault the bluecoats at a bloody but tactically inconclusive battle that became known as Glendale or Frayser's Farm. McClellan's battered men slipped away after dark, leading to the Confederate offensive disaster the next day at Malvern Hill and ultimately to the successful escape of the Union army. Lee had saved Richmond but failed to inflict a crippling blow on his enemy.

Greene's Review of The Battle of Glendale is continued at H-CivWar Reviews.

Friday, July 15, 2011

New and Noteworthy---Gettysburg's Dobbin House: Local History In A National Context

The Alexander Dobbin House in Gettysburg: A Short History, Dr. Walter L. Powell, Ten Roads Publishing, 72 pages, maps, illustrations, bibliography, $9.95.

Publishers' Description: One of Gettysburg's most popular restaurants is also its oldest building- and one of its most historic. Built in 1776 for Reverend Alexander Dobbin, the house has been witness to historic political and religious meetings, students gathering for class, slaves seeking refuge on "The Underground Railroad," and to the Battle of Gettysburg. To read about the Dobbin House is to read about the history of Gettysburg, and stirring moments in our nation's history.

CWL:The Alexander Dobbin House in Gettysburg: A Short History is a model of fine local history placed into a national context. From frontier community to county seat, to tragic battlefield, to national military park, the Dobbin House is both a typical and atypical building. Insights to Protestant worhship and a pastor's life, the underground railroad and a homestead between the battlelines, a tenant house and restraunt are provided by Powell's booklet.

New and Noteworthy---Inventive Confederate Minds

Confederate Invention: The Story of the Confederate States Patent Office and Its Inventors (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War), H. Jackson Knight, Louisiana State University Press, 464 pages, $55.00.

Publisher's Description: The formation of the Confederate States of America included more than an attempt to create a new, sovereign nation--it inspired a flurry of creativity and entrepreneurialism in the South that fiercely matched Union ingenuity. H. Jackson Knight's Confederate Invention brings to light the forgotten history of the Confederacy's industrious inventors and its active patent office.

Despite the destruction wrought by the Civil War, evidence of Confederate inventions exists in the registry of the Confederate States Patent Office. Hundreds of southerners submitted applications to the agency to secure patents on their intellectual property, which ranged from a ''machine for operating submarine batteries,'' to a ''steam plough,'' to a ''combined knapsack and tent,'' to an ''instrument for sighting cannon.'' The Confederacy's most successful inventors included entrepreneurs, educators, and military men who sought to develop new weapons, weapon improvements, or other inventions that could benefit the Confederate cause as well as their own lives. Each creation belied the conception of a technologically backward South, incapable of matching the creativity and output of northern counterparts.

Knight's work provides a groundbreaking study that includes neglected and largely forgotten patents as well as an array of other primary sources. Details on the patent office's origins, inner workings, and demise, and accounts of southern inventors who obtained patents before, during, and after the war reveal a captivating history recovered from obscurity.

A novel creation in its own right, Confederate Invention presents the remarkable story behind the South's long-forgotten Civil War inventors and offers a comprehensive account of Confederate patents.

H. Jackson Knight is a registered United States patent agent with over twenty-five years' experience in all phases of technical development and patenting. He previously authored the book Patent Strategy for Researchers and Research Managers (2nd ed.) and has produced numerous articles and other publications on the patenting of inventions.

CWL: Once surprised by discovering that the Confederacy had its own Journal of Military Medicine, CWL is now not surprised that the Confederacy had a patent office. Knight has the qualifications for revealing a guide to Confederate inventiveness and business savy.

New and Noteworthy---The Hearts and Minds of the Army of Northern Virginia

Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee (Civil War America) by Joseph T. Glatthaar, The University of North Carolina Press, 256 pages, $50.00

From the Publisher: In this sophisticated quantitative study, Joseph T. Glatthaar provides a comprehensive narrative and statistical analysis of many key aspects of General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Serving as a companion to Glatthaar's General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse, this book presents Glatthaar's supporting data and major conclusions in extensive and extraordinary detail.

While gathering research materials for General Lee's Army, Glatthaar compiled quantitative data on the background and service of 600 randomly selected soldiers--150 artillerists, 150 cavalrymen, and 300 infantrymen--affording him fascinating insight into the prewar and wartime experience of Lee's troops. Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia presents the full details of this fresh, important primary research in a way that is useful to scholars and students and appeals to anyone with a serious interest in the Civil War. While confirming much of what is believed about the army, Glatthaar's evidence challenges some conventional thinking in significant ways, such as showing that nearly half of all Lee's soldiers lived in slaveholding households (a number higher than previously thought), and provides a broader and fuller portrait of the men who served under General Lee.

Scholars, Civil War enthusiasts, and anyone with an interest in the Army of Northern Virginia must read this first-rate piece of research and analysis by Glatthaar. It will be a highly useful companion to his narrative history, General Lee's Army, and is sure to become one of the most cited reference works on any Civil War army."--Robert K. Krick, author of Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain and Lee's Colonels

CWL: Joseph T. Glatthaar's companion to his remarkable General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse, Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee is quite likely of offer more insights into both the enlisted men's and commissioned officer's' hearts and minds. This is likely to be required for any undergraduate and graduate student focusing on Civil War history. Glatthaar delineates the research method for his stereotype breaking description of the Army of Northern Virginia. Bell Irvin Wiley is smiling from beyond the veil.

New----North Carolina's Soldiers and Civilians During Civil War

North Carolina in the Civil War, Michael C. Hardy, History Press, 130 pp., History Press, paperback, $21.99 (July 14, 2011).

Publisher's Description: First at Bethel, farthest at Gettysburg and Chickamauga and last at Appomattox" is a phrase that is often used to encapsulate the role of North Carolina's Confederate soldiers. But the state's involvement stretched far beyond these few battles. The state was one of the last to leave the Union but contributed more men and sustained more losses than any other Southern state.

Tar Heels witnessed the pitched battles of New Bern, Averasboro and Bentonville, as well as incursions like Sherman's March and Stoneman's Raid. Join Civil War scholar Michael C. Hardy as he delves into the story of North Carolinians the Civil War, from civilians to soldiers, as these valorous Tar Heels proved they were a force to be reckoned with.

Award-winning author and historian Michael C. Hardy has penned numerous books, articles and blog posts on North Carolina and the Civil War. In 2010, he was honored as the Historian of the Year by the North Carolina Society of Historians. He lives with his family in western North Carolina, near the famous Grandfather Mountain.

CWL: History Press' reputation for finding the best talent for their Civil War Sesquicentennial Series continues. Michael C. Hardy has written 6 other North Carolina's Civil War books and three others on North Carolina history. CWL recently featured the History Press' Battle of South Mountain by John Hoptak and is now reading The Battle of Fort Donelson by James R. Knight. Both are clear, concise, and thorough.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New and Noteworthy--- 19 Critical Decisions That Defined The Gettysburg Campaign

Decisions at Gettysburg: The Nineteen Critical Decisions That Defined the Campaign, Matt Spruill, University of Tennessee Press, 200 pp., 21 photographs, 10 maps, 3 charts, 3 appendices, notes, bibliography, index, paperback, $24.95.

Matt Spruill has the credentials weigh in on the command and control issues of the Gettysburg Campaign. He has been a student of Jay Luvass and Harold Nelson at the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle and then faculty member there. He was for a time a Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide. The 19 critical decisions were chosen based on his military background, his close reading of the primary sources as a participant and instructor of the U.S. Army's staff tours of the battlefield, and his association with the battlefield's licensed guides. His "criterion for a critical decision is that, after the decision was made, it shaped not only the events
immediately following it but also the conduct of the campaign or the battle from that point on." [xii]

The strenghts of Spruill's work is the arguments for each decision are incisive, convincing, and clear. The reader should come to Spruill's work with a basic background knowledge of the battle. Decisions at Gettysburg is not overview of the battle. There is no day-by-day or hour-by-hour account of the fighting. Readers need to have at least one guided tour of the entire battlefield or have read Trudeau's or Sears comprehensive works on the battle. General readers who have delved into Coddington's and Pfanz's books are prepared to read Decisions at Gettysburg.

For each decision, Spruill describes the options available to the commander and of the decision then taken. Then he covers the impact of the decision on the succeeding events and on the the campaign. Fortunately Spruill does not judge decisions as being right or wrong. He is more concerned with how the decision set conditions for a response or another decision. Spruill is color blind in regard to the uniform the decision maker wears. There is no anti-Ewell, anti-Sickles, or pro-Lee or pro-Meade content in the book.

As with any list, what decisions are left off or unnecessarily included. CWL doesn't see any of Spruill's decisions being left off such a list. Several that should have been included though were Lincoln's decision to replace Hooker with Meade, Lee's decision not to pull Ewell's corps from the east side of Gettysburg on the morning of July 2, Hunt's decision to silence Federal artillery on Cemetery immediately before the Pickett/Pettigrew/Trimble assault on July 3. Spruill's does give a slight nod to McGilvery's construction of a line of artillery east of the Trostle Farmstead during the late afternoon of July 2. Those would be on CWL's list of critical decisions that defined the Gettysburg Campaign.

As an appendix, Spruill does supply a 40 page battlefield touring guide to the 19 decisions. In CWL's copy, there is now no page that does not have underlining, notes, questions and exclamation marks on it. Most likely, Spruill's Decisions at Gettysburg will be seen in December and January on many best of 2011 lists.

Nineteen Critical Decisions That Defined the Gettysburg Campaign

Before the Battle
1. Lee’s decision to take the Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania,
2. Lee’s reorganization of the Army of Northern Virginia during late May
3. Hooker’s reorganization of the Army of the Potomac’s artillery in late May
4. Lee’s ambiguous orders to Stuart that allows him to take the cavalry astray

July 1
5. Buford chooses to contest the advance of the Army of Northern Virginia
6. Reynolds chooses to reinforce Buford’s cavalry division
7. Ewell with Rodes chooses to attack immediately on arriving near Gettysburg
8. Ewell with Johnson chooses not to attack Culp’s Hill
9. Meade chooses to move forward to Gettysburg

July 2
10. Lee choose to continue the offensive and attack the Federals left
11. Longstreet chooses to counter march to avoid detection by the Federal left
12. Sickles chooses to advance to the Emittsburg Road
13. Longstreet choose advance en echelon northeast
14. Law sends his brigade to capture the artillery on Devil’s Den and Houck’s Ridge
15. Benning sends his brigade towards Devil’s Den and not Little Round Top
16. Geary holds Greene brigade on Culp’s Hill while sending two brigades to the Federal left

July 3
17. Slocum and Williams assault the Confederate left at 4:30a
18. Lee orders Longstreet to coordinate an assault of the Federal center

July 4
19. Lee conducts full retreat from Pennsylvania

News---Hail To The Thief! Presidential Historian Charged with Stealing Millions of Dollars Worth of Documents

Probe Expands Into Attempted Theft of Maryland Historical Papers, Justin Fenton and Julie Baughmann, The Baltimore Sun, July 12, 2011

At the Maryland Historical Society, they're calling it the Great Cupcake Caper. Before being arrested by police on Saturday and charged with stealing dozens of historical documents, author and collector Barry H. Landau had brought cupcakes for the center's employees. They figure he was trying to ingratiate himself with the staff, much as he has for decades with political and Hollywood elite.

And it may be a calling card of sorts. As the investigation into the thefts continued to broaden Tuesday, officials at another state historical society said they had been visited multiple times in the past by Landau and his alleged conspirator, who brought Pepperidge Farm cookies for the staff and aroused suspicions with their "odd" behavior. Word of the arrests has set off a ripple effect among the historic preservation community, with the FBI requesting that other museums and libraries review their logs to see if Landau and 26-year-old Jason Savedoff had been visitors.

Landau is a renowned collector, reputed to have the largest collection of presidential memorabilia outside of museums and the presidential libraries. The former White House protocol officer has claimed to have 1 million artifacts in his Manhattan apartment on West 57th Street.

The director of the Maryland Historical Society confirmed that the pair had previously visited its Baltimore library in June, and authorities were working to account for documents that were checked out during that visit. The incident has sparked renewed attention to securing priceless and historic artifacts at museums and libraries. "In historic preservation circles, it's a problem that they've been trying to deal with for some time, and these situations bring it right to the forefront," said Joseph M. Coale, the former president of Historic Annapolis, who served on the board of the Maryland Historic Trust for 25 years. "Maryland has an interesting and unique history that's given great credibility by a lot of these documents" apparently targeted for robbery. "As a Marylander, I'm rather incensed about it."

Authorities declined to discuss the next steps in the investigation, but agents from the National Archives were observed leaving the Maryland Historical Society's Monument Street location around lunchtime Tuesday, boxes under their arms, as an FBI agent with a gun on his hip reviewed documents in the library where the crimes are alleged to have occurred.

Barry H. Landau has rubbed elbows with presidents, helped plan inaugurations, and claims one of the largest collections of Oval Office memorabilia outside museums and presidential libraries. His Manhattan apartment includes a collection of china from Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration and a picture of Landau kissing John F. Kennedy’s dog Clipper.

Police say he tried to expand that collection by pilfering dozens of rare documents from the Maryland Historical Society on Saturday. Landau, whose connections reportedly bridge the Washington, New York and Hollywood elite, now sits in Central Booking and is being held without bail.

The artifacts police say he and 24-year-old Jason Savedoff tried to take during a Saturday of reviewing historical papers at the Monument Street nonprofit’s archives include documents signed by Abraham Lincoln, presidential inaugural ball invitations and programs, a commemoration of the Statue of Liberty, and a commemoration of the Washington Monument. The items range in value from $100,000 to $500,000, and are just four of the 60 documents police say the men planned to steal, meaning the total value could be in the millions.

Text Source: Baltimore Sun

Image Source: New York Daily News. Caption: Photos by Baltimore Police Department. Jason Savedoff (l.) and historian Barry Landau were arrested for allegedly ripping off the Maryland Historical Society, stealing millions in documents.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New and Noteworthy---1861 News Reports Produced For The 2011 Cable Audience

Civil War Librarian readers are very likely to enjoy The Mason-Dixon Report, a four to five minute webcast of 1861 news and opinion set within a 2011 television news-opinion format. It's 1861. The nation is in crisis. Where does America turn for their news? The Mason Dixon Report, the 19th century's only cable news show. Robert Barnwell Rhett [historic character], Charleston Mercury newspaper editor is interviewed from his Charleston, S.C. newspaper editorial offices. Melanie Cooper and Oswald Mooney [fictitious characters] reports live from Charleston Harbor.

The Mason Dixon Report is a new approach to teaching the history of the Civil War. It is lots of fun both inside a school classroom, a Civil War discussion group or on you own desktop computer. Chris Mason [fictitious character] is the discussion moderator and brings his own opinions. A female Southern supporter from the Concerned Women for Liberty group from New York City takes Mason to task for his positions. Honus Winchell [fictitious character] calls Thomas Jackson a thief for stealing the property of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

April 1, 1861 Webisode: Interviews from Charleston, SC
April 11, 1861 Webisode: Interviews from Charleston, SC
April 12, 1861 Webisode: Interviews from Charleston, SC
April 15, 1861 Webisode: Interviews from Charleston, SC
May 10, 1861 Webisode: Interviews from St. Louis, MO and New York City, NY
May 24, 1861 Webisode: Interviews from Lynchburg,VA and New York City, NY

The language is sprinkled with 1861 slang such as sneak thief. Thankfully, there are not 1861 commericals for carriages, beer or food. William Rabkin, author of the interviews states that "the conceit of our web series is simple: Cable news existed in 1861, and this was the flagship series. And it turns out that nineteenth century cable news looks a lot like today’s. We’ve got a host who gets the news of the day from our regular reporter, and then turns to a rotating panel of pundits, politicians, and consultants to explore the meaning of what just happened."

But does the format work? In CWL's opinion is that certainly does. Rabkin offers the reason why the under five minute news and opinion blast does. He states: "But what really works for us is cable news’ institutional amnesia. Every day on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News pundits give analyses and make predictions, and the next few days prove them completely wrong. Then they come on again and make a new set of predictions based on the current state of affairs, and no one ever mentions what they said before. We wanted to give our people that license to forget. Because what’s most important to us on The Mason Dixon Report is that we never know what’s going to happen next. We don’t know who is going to live or die, which side will win or lose, which tiny detail will turn out to be a crucial turning point.

The Mason-Dixon Report is not the Colbert Report or the John Stewart Show; it doesn't go for the comedy. It stays close to the historic material and offers it in a contentious Question and Answer format. Go to the Mason-Dixon Report and enjoy it.

Friday, July 08, 2011

News--Women Military Re-enactors: The Exceptions and The Rules

Women Re-Enact Civil War As Men, Quite Accurately, Associated Press, Citizens-Times, Asheville, NC,July 6, 2011.

Hoop skirts and washboards don't appeal much to Joyce Henry, so she found another way to relive the Civil War — as a man. With her breasts tightly bound, shoulder-length red hair tucked under a shaggy auburn wig and upper lip hidden by a drooping mustache, Henry impersonates Lt. Harry T. Buford, a real-life Confederate soldier.

The impression could hardly be more accurate since Buford, too, was a woman. He was invented by Loreta Janeta Velazquez, a Cuban-born woman from New Orleans who fought as a man in a series of Civil War battles including the First Battle of Bull Run, according to her autobiography.

Researchers have documented more than 200 such cases. And today, a small number of women follow suit by donning blue and gray uniforms as Civil War re-enactors. A century and a half ago, women weren't allowed into military service; masquerading as men was the only way in for those who weren't satisfied with supporting the war effort from home or following their husbands' military units around. As the country marks the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States, some female re-enactors still cling to secrecy — not just for historical accuracy but because uniformed women aren't always welcome in the male-dominated hobby.

Some of these women are easily spotted by their lack of attention to detail. Others go to great lengths and expense to avoid detection. Henry, of Williamsburg, Va.,said she even got an FBI expert to teach her to apply facial hair. "My goal has always been to be as authentic as possible," said Henry, a former Petersburg National Battlefield ranger who is now head coachman at Colonial Williamsburg. She said she has spent nearly $3,500 on her Civil War outfit and gear, including an $850, custom-tailored, gray wool frock coat.

Image Caption: Elizabeth Charlton, right, gets help with her backpack as she prepares to portray a Civil War soldier at a Memorial Day event at Bellevue Cemetery in Lawrence, Mass. [Photo by The Associated Press]

Text and Image Source: Citizens-Times, Asheville, NC,July 6, 2011

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Off Topic--- Germany During the Rise of Hitler Through The Eyes of a Virginian

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, Erik Larson, Crown Publishing, black and white photographs, map on end papers, bibliography, notes, 464 pages, notes, $26.00.

In the Garden of Beasts is a vivid but grim portrait of Germany and particularly Berlin in the 1930s. Virginia citizen and University Chicago professor William E. Dodd in 1933 became America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s regime. With his wife, son and his daughter he moved from his Winchester, Virginia farm to the political cauldron of Wiemar-Nazi Germany. Martha, his daughter was quite free with herself; she bedded both Gestapo and Soviet agents.

Ambassador Dodd, political science professor who had studied in Germany before World War One, admirer of Thomas Jefferson, biographer of Woodrow Wilson, Shenandoah Valley gentleman farmer, doesn't fit into semi-disguised fascism of 1930's Germany nor in among the State Department's career administrators. He personally is uncomfortable with the carnal extravagance of the Nazi elite and bureaucratic incest of the State Department. His frugality annoys the Nazis and his fellow State Department colleagues.

Dodd is cautious toward all Nazis and has misgivings towards Hitler’s ambitions. Conversely, Martha is embraces the glamorous parties and the pseudo-intellectualism of Berlin's wealthy elites. Her life in Berlin’s salon society and pursuit of sexual partners among Berlin's elites lead her to dangerous liaisons. Both her Gestapo and Soviet lovers expose her to exhilarating and risky sex during a political revolution fought in Berlin's office buildings and on streets. She even goes on a blind date and spends the evening with Adolf Hitler. William Dodd spends afternoons with Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In the destruction of the Nazi SA during the Night of the Long Knives Martha loses acquaintances. During Kristalnacht, Ambassador Dodd loses friends. With In the Garden of Beasts Erik Larson achieves a suspenseful, intimate story that climaxes with murders and flights. Those who enjoy Larson's Devil In The White City and Thunderstruck will not be disappointed. Those who enjoy Philip Kerr's series featuring Berlin detective Bernie Gunther will be well satisfied.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

New and Noteworthy: Lee's Glorious Army and The Price It Paid

A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee's Triumph, 1862-1863, Jeffry D. Wert, Simon and Schuster Inc., 384 pp., 29 b/w photographs, 9 maps, notes, bibliography, index, $30.00.

Advancing his work on the Stonewall Brigade, J.E.B. Stuart, James Longstreet, July 3 at Gettysburg, and the Army of the Potomac, Jeffry Wert sets forth a well paced and balanced story of a year in the life of the Army of Northern Virginia. Covering the familiar ground of June 1 1862 to July 31 1863 in the eastern theatre, Wert provides his own perspective on Lee's and his army's virtues along with those of other historians. One of the strenghts of this work is Wert recognition and reliance on others' interpretations. Throughout the book Wert presents and discusses the insights of Gabor Borritt, Peter Carmichael, Thomas Connelly, Gary Gallagher, Joseph Glatthaar, Joseph Harsh, Robert K. Krick, Donald Pfanz, George Rable, Ethan Rafuse, Steven Woodworth and several others.

From June 1862 when Robert E. Lee assumed command and through the near diaster in Pennsylvania, the Army of Northern Virginia's officer corps became severely depleted. After each campaign, Wert dwells upon the specifics of dead and wounded regimental, brigade, division commanders. Not only were the ranks of the enlisted men suffering but the commissioned officers were being lost. Lee nearly constantly struggled to locate the talent and put it in the best situation.

A Glorious Army is not a review of the campaigns and battles. Wert sets forth an analysis of theatre strategy, army leadership and how the rank and file coped with the demands of the campaigns. Lee's reorganization of the army in June 1862 was not satisfactory; an army of divisions was difficult to coordinate. The emergence of Longstreet and Jackson as wing commanders in the Second Manassas and Maryland campaigns came as a necessity and not necessarily from the mind of Lee.

As the talent rose to the occasion, wing and later corps staff officers were organized. Lee, Longstreet and Jackson found talent to make their commands efficient. The Maryland Campaign of 1862 reveals their struggles. The lost copy of Order 191 was a duplicate sent to D. H. Hill from Jackson. Hill did not miss it because he had received a copy of Order 191 from Longstreet.

With clear and concise prose Wert makes is accessible the conflicts in the command structure and the exasperation of Lee, Longstreet and Jackson who continually lose their best division and brigade commanders to the battlefield. Wert does not neglect the enlisted men in the least bit. At times the commanders gave marching orders that drop soldiers out of the ranks. Indeed, the army lost crucial percentages of soldiers to the miles of Virginia's roads. Second Manassas, South Mountain, Antietam, and Gettysburg saw a great deal of physical exhaustion among the enlisted before and after the battles.

Wert shows that Lee's audacity and aggression brought victories, high casualties and a near disaster at Gettysburg. But, as Wert reviews Lee's options and evaluates his choices. How brilliant were the victories? How mediocre was the generalship of the Army of the Potomac? Wert sets the parameters but does not force his conclusions on the reader. A few events are unaddressed in A Glorious Army. Gettysburg is cut short on July 3. There is no mention of the Pennsylvania Reserves assault on Houck's Ridge and the Wheatfield after the Pickett/Pettigrew/Trimble Charge. Neither is Farnesworth's charge mentioned. The retreat from Gettysburg is covered on one page. Wert does dwell on the drastic loss of division and brigade commanders and hints at these loses may be irreplaceable. A study of the fall 1863 Mine Run campaign is not offered. CWL would not be surprised if in late 2012, Wert offers a study of the Army of Northern Virginia from 1863-1865. If so, CWL welcome Wert's study of the final year of Lee and his glorious army. Though, CWL would also welcome a biography of George Gordon Meade from Jeff Wert.

News---Gettysburg Battlefield Interactive Online Site Surges With 10K Visitors In Two Weeks

Press Preserving Gettysburg's Battlefield Goes Interactive, Press Release of Stage of Life LLC, June 14, 2011.

In anticipation of the 150th Year Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Stage of Life LLC, a loyalty and marketing agency in York, PA, helped the Gettysburg Foundation refresh its membership website,, for 40,000 members and contributors. The website gives history buffs, Civil War enthusiasts, and those who care about the preservation of Gettysburg's Civil War significance a wide array of interactive features including:

•Photo sharing of ancestors who fought in the Civil War or a recent visit to Gettysburg

•Essay sharing to upload Civil War stories passed down through the generations or an observation about the battlefield

•Park ranger's preservation blog

•Historical blog, "This Great Task Before Us" profiling Union and Confederate soldiers

•Gettysburg Rewards, a perks program offering discounts around Gettysburg

•Registration for members-only events

•Member announcements from the Rupp House Online store and purchase apparel,books, etc

The Gettysburg Foundation's Chief Development Officer, Jerry Moore, said, "Stage of Life delivered a totally unique experience for our members... we've received nothing but positive feedback." Since its launch, the interactive website has hosted over 10,000 visitors. Eric Thiegs, CEO of Stage of Life LLC, added, "We're honored our firm was selected to develop this project. It's a chance to help preserve our nation's history."

Stage of Life LLC builds customized membership websites, partnership marketing alliances, and perk programs. It operates; a free blog website providing writing contests, printable coupons and a place to share your life's story. The Gettysburg Foundation is a private, non-profit educational organization working in partnership with the National Park Service to enhance preservation and understanding of the heritage and lasting significance of Gettysburg. In addition to operating the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, the Foundation has a broad preservation mission that includes land, monument and artifact preservation, battlefield rehabilitation and education -- all in support of the National Park Service's goals at Gettysburg.

For more information, question or comments about The Great Task Before Us email

The Friends of Gettysburg is the membership component of the Gettysburg Foundation. Online go to

Friday, July 01, 2011

Off Topic---World War Two Classic: A Helmet For My Pillow, A Helmet For My Heart

Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific, Robert Leckie, Bantam Books, 305 pp., 1957, 2010 edition, 16.00.

First published in 1957, Helmet for My Pillow is the World War Two memoir of Robert Leckie, United States Marine Corps veteran and military historian. Born in 1920, Philadelphia Pennsylvania native Leckie served in the Pacific Theatre with the First Marine Division as a machine gunner and intelligence scout during the Battle of Guadalcanal and later campaigns. One of eight children born into an Irish Catholic family began his writing career, at age 16 as a sports writer for The Bergen Evening Record in New Jersey.

In 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Leckie enlisted in the Marines. He was assigned to H Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. He deployed to Guadalcanal, Australia, New Guinea, and Cape Gloucester and participated in every major First Marine Division campaign except Okinawa. Drill instructors, disappearing individuality, drunkeness, and new comrades enter Leckie's life during boot camp in MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina, and then during his first post at New River, North Carolina.

Each take their toll on Leckie: heavy combat at Guadalcanal, jungle patrols in New Guinea, bread-and-water in the brig twice, more months of combat at Point Glouster, assignment to the psychiatric ward for a month, more combat at Bloody Nose Ridge, and blast concussion.

His comrades are Artist, Chuckler, Commando, Hoosier, Ivy League, Runner, Souvenir, and Straight Talk. Officers steal his cigars and his foot locker. Like William Manchester's Goodbye, Darkness Leckie's memoir offers brilliant descriptions, an amazing use of language, and masterful storytelling. The 2010 HBO mini-series The Pacific was adapted in large part from Helmet for My Pillow, and Eugene Sledge's With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa.

Leckie's memoir is literature. Leckie's work is fascinating, compelling, highly descriptive writing by one who lived through what hell mankind could make. The conclusion of the story is humane and heartfelt with reflections of the use of the atomic bomb, the loss of comrades, and the nature of sacrifice. A few weeks ago David McCullough prescribed a remedy for the dearth of knowledge about American history among citizens, young and old. He wishes teachers would create history lab exercises for students much like National History Day competitions. CWL would teach history through biography and on the list would be Robert Leckie's Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific.