Thursday, June 28, 2012

New and Noteworthy Fiction---Blaze of Glory: Jeff Shaara Returns to the Civil War

Blaze of Glory:  A Novel of the Battle of Shiloh, Jeff Shaara, 464 pages, Ballantine Publishing, $28.00.

Wellington described The Battle of Waterloo as 'a close run thing.' The same can be said of the Battle of Shiloh [April 6-7, 1862]. Jeff Shaara's novel Blaze of Glory provides a memorable vision of that suspense filled campaign and battle.  Within these two days over 13,000 Federals were killed, wounded, captured or missing; Confederate loses were nearly 11,000 were killed, wounded, captured, and missing.  Current estimates are that 15% of those wounded later died of their wounds within 90 days.

Shaara's novel travels several paths to the April 6 and 7 battle, one of which begins in Nashville as the Confederates retreat during the third week of March from Tennessee's capital city. The first four chapters  offers the points of view of the Rebel cavalry covering a retreat and of the mind of military theater Confederate commander Albert Sidney Johnston. Audacious plans are formed during desperate times. Shaara then offers three chapters from the Federal point of view from the rank and file and from William T. Sherman, a division commander. In a similar way to Ralph Peters' recent novel Cain at Gettysburg, Shaara
creates compelling voices of German soldiers in the Federal army. Following the pattern of Shaara's previous  two Civil War novels and his novels of World War One and Two, he utilizes both actual historic characters and invented characters.

Quickly and somewhat too broadly Shaara covers a lot of ground to get both armies to the battlefield; at times the novel approaches a comprehensiveness that may be found in historians' work on the battle.  Yet, Shaara supplies the remarkable details of soldiers' marching during all types of weather and all hours of the day.  The weather is wet, the roads are muddy, and the foliage is thick. At times confusion reigns along the battle's front and rear. His remarkable scenes include of the initial discovery by the Federals of the Confederate surprise-at-dawn assault,  Sherman's wounding, the looting of the Union camps by Rebels, and the muzzle-too-muzzle gunfights at The Sunken Road, The Hornet's Nest, The Peach Orchard.

Historic and compelling Confederate characters include, among several others,  Tennessee governor Isham Harris who became an aide to Johnston and a witness to his battlefield death, and  general and hero of Fort Sumter and the Battle of Bull Run, Pierre Bureaugard who is sick and exhausted even before the battle begins. Federal generals Ulysses Grant, William Sherman, Don Carlos Buell and several others collide in competition for glory during the campaign. Shaara does not neglect the failure of commanders with their battle plans and with their lack of battle experience. He counters them with the heroism and courage of the rank and file soldiers who also lacked of battle experience. Both sides are shocked and disheartened by the carnage of 24,000 killed, wounded and missing within 48 hours.  Among the dead were the Confederate western theater commander Albert Sidney Johnston who is at the battlefront encouraging a brigade when a bullet clipped an artery behind his knee and he bleeds to death.

Shaara offers a retelling of Nathan Bedford Forrest's wounding and his taking of a hostage at the Battle of Fallen Timbers soon after April 7. This story  is a part of the Forrest biography lore but appears to have no actual eyewitnesses. Yet it works well as a finale in the novel. Those readers who enjoy fiction with a Civil War setting are well served by A Blaze of Glory. Shaara provides a sustained glimpse of Johnson's relationship with his headquarters' hostess while the he has Johnson reflecting upon his memories of his wife  Eliza, their children and their large Texas plantation, China Grove. Additionally, Shaara offers descripitons  of the Federal soldiers fond  memories of their ethnic German families and communities. Blaze of Glory is a fine novel of civilians at war, generals in over-their-head, and of southwestern Tennessee terrain that is transformed from a remote frontier to a close and mortal hell. 

News----Civil War Observation Balloon Will Launch July 4

Civil War Balloon to Take Flight with Last-Minute Helium Donation
 Excursions on the Intrepid to Begin July 4 at Genesee Country Village & Museum

When the CEO of the Genesse Country Villlage Museum  set out last year to build and fly the world's first replica of a Civil War manned balloon – the Intrepid – little did he know his dream could collapse from a nationwide helium shortage. But he also didn't bargain that one of the country's most iconic retailers would step forward to deliver a miracle at the last minute, literally raising the project off the ground.

Thanks to the generous support of Macy's – a brand synonymous with the giant helium-filled balloons that grace Manhattan's skies every Thanksgiving morning – the Intrepid will begin flying this July 4 outside of Rochester, N.Y. Weather permitting, the balloon will take guests 300 feet (32 stories) into the sky, simulating what some of the world’s first military pilots (a.k.a. aeronauts) experienced 150 years ago.
"We were looking for a miracle. The Museum was seemingly out of options to secure helium after having placed innumerable calls to dealers, government officials and even decommissioned research laboratories across the U.S.," said Peter Arnold, GCV&M's CEO and president. "Then we heard from Macy's, which was able to donate the 50,000 cubic feet we needed. We’re simply ecstatic, as we were within days of having to suspend our opening. 'The Magic of Macy's' has never been more real."

First announced this past February, the Intrepid project has captured the imagination of families, educators, historians and aviation enthusiasts across North America. Renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and adventure balloonist and Virgin Group Chairman Sir Richard Barnson have both praised the historic reconstruction.  "Supporting education is an important aspect of our community giving, made even more relevant in this case since Macy’s was founded during the Civil War era,” said Russell Schutte, senior vice president / director of stores, Macy’s Midwest. “With our unique connection to helium ballooning, we had the opportunity to help Genesee Country Village & Museum fulfill its dream to open this one-of-a-kind, interactive exhibit. The result will benefit not only the people of Western New York, but visitors who will travel from across the U.S. and overseas to experience the wonder and history of flight.”

Conceived by Professor Thaddeus Lowe, the Union Army Balloon Corps was personally approved by President Abraham Lincoln in June 1861. Not only was the Intrepid the predecessor to modern-day military aviation, but it also foreshadowed the future of military reconnaissance communications. The pilot would send intelligence information – troop movements, artillery compensation instructions, and more – to soldiers on the ground via telegraph.  Like the original seven gas balloons used by the Union Army during the Civil War, the Intrepid is tethered to land for optimal convenience and safety. Visitors – up to four at a time – will have the opportunity to take 15-minute flights for a nominal cost in addition to their museum entry fee.

 A team of prominent advisors is assisting with the project, including Tom D. Crouch, Ph.D., senior curator of Aeronautics for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum;  Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); and Rob Shenk, director, Internet Strategy & Development, Civil War Trust. 

For more information, visit or follow the museum on Twitter at @GCVMuseum.

About Genesee Country Village & Museum
Genesee Country Village & Museum helps visitors understand the lives and times of 19th-century America through interactive programs, events and exhibits. It is the largest and most comprehensive living history museum in New York State and maintains the third largest collection of historic buildings in the United States. The 700-acre complex consists of 68 historic structures furnished with 15,000 artifacts to provide an authentic 19th-century environment in which visitors can interact with knowledgeable, third-person historic interpreters in period-appropriate dress. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:  Mike McDougall, McDougall Travers Collins for Genesee Country Village & Museum  or 585-789-162  and Andrea Schwartz, Macy’s, Inc.  or 312-399-8934

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Gettysburg Campaign Study Guide, Volume One: 700+ Questions and Answers For Students of the Battle [June 2008]

The Gettysburg Campaign Study Guide, Volume One: 700+ Questions and Answers For Students of the Battle, Rea Andrew Redd, CreateSpace, illustrations, 202 pages, 18.95.

The Gettysburg Campaign Study Guide, Volume One contains 700+ questions and answers regarding the armies, chronologies, maps, cemteries, and commanders of the 1863 Pennsylvania Campaign. The book's format and content help a student's exam performance.

 In 2006  I took the the Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide exam to find out how much knew about the Pennsylvania Campaign; in 2008 and 2010 I took the exam to find how much I  learned in past two years.   I offer the Gettysburg Campaign Study Guide as tool to those who seek to study the Pennsylvania Campaign for their personal enjoyment and satisfaction.

The questions and answers were developed from 2006 through 2011 in Followers of my Civil War Librarian weblog [] are familiar with my discussion of the exam.

The book is available in Gettysburg book stores and on  Here is the link:

New and Noteworthy---Shiloh 1862: First Great Battle of the War

Shiloh1862: The First Great and Terrible Battle of the Civil WarWinston Groom, National Geographic Books. 512p. order of battle, 44 black and white illustrations, 10 maps, bibliography, index., March 2012 . $30.00
In  Shiloh1862: The First Great and Terrible Battle of the Civil War,  novelist and historian Winston Groom offers a narrative that is historically and graphically compelling. Best known for his novel Forrest Gump, which was adapted into a film in 1994, Groom's 1982 novel Conversations with the Enemy was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1983. Fought April 6 and 7, 1862 in southwestern Tennessee, The Battle of Shiloh, was one of the several turning points of the Civil War. A Federal loss would have jeopardized recent victories at Forts Donelson and Henry and the capture of Nashville. 
Groom's account takes several paths to the April 6 and 7 battle. The first three chapters gather the major commander together from their early careers until the battle. Chapter Four through Seven places the battle into its political and social context. The stories of those living in the national capitals and those living on what will soon become a battlefield gives both an expansive and particular tone to Groom's story. His reliance on the words of the soldiers personalize the movements of hundreds and thousands of men.  The weather was wet, the roads were muddy, and the foliage was thick; at times confusion reigned along the battle's front and rear. Groom deftly weaves together the failure of commanders with their battle plans with the heroism and courage of the rank and file soldiers with their lack of battle experience. Both sides were shocked by the carnage.  
Among the dead are the Confederate western theater commander Albert Sidney Johnston who was at the battlefront encouraging a brigade when a bullet clipped an artery behind his knee; he bled to death. Within two days over 13,000 Federals were killed, wounded, captured or missing; Confederate loses were nearly 11,000 were killed, wounded, captured, and missing.  Current estimates are that 15% of those wounded later died of their wounds within 90 days.
Though not a definitive rendering of the Shiloh story, Groom's well paced, highly descriptive effort is well founded on the recognized primary sources of the battle.  Unfortunately Groom offers no bibliographic notes for direct quotations. Also, the retelling of Nathan Bedford Forrest's wounding and his taking of a hostage at the Battle of Fallen Timbers soon after April 7 is apart of the Forrest biography lore but appears to have no eyewitnesses. Groom offers no alert to the reader on this point. As one would expect from National  Geographic, the maps clear and precise with neither too much nor too little information on them. Shiloh 1862: The First Great Battle of the Civil War is a grand and compelling narrative of the battle. Those readers who have their first encounter with the battle of Shiloh with Groom's work are well served. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

New and Noteworthy: Battle Hymns: The Power and Popularity of Music in the Civil War

Battle Hymns: The Power and Popularity of Music in the Civil War, Christian McWhirter, The University of North Carolina Press, 352 pages, $39.95.

From the publisher: 
Music was everywhere during the Civil War. Tunes could be heard ringing out from parlor pianos, thundering at political rallies, and setting the rhythms of military and domestic life. With literacy still limited, music was an important vehicle for communicating ideas about the war, and it had a lasting impact in the decades that followed. Drawing on an array of published and archival sources, Christian McWhirter analyzes the myriad ways music influenced popular culture in the years surrounding the war and discusses its deep resonance for both whites and blacks, South and North.

Though published songs of the time have long been catalogued and appreciated, McWhirter is the first to explore what Americans actually said and did with these pieces. By gauging the popularity of the most prominent songs and examining how Americans used them, McWhirter returns music to its central place in American life during the nation's greatest crisis. The result is a portrait of a war fought to music.                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                              Readers' Reviews

"With facts, figures, and firsthand accounts, Mr. McWhirter powerfully demonstrates the important role played by music in the lives of Johnny Reb, Billy Yank, and the folks back home during the war between the states. As a longtime student and performer of Civil War songs I am excited to have this valuable and informative resource available."  Bobby Horton, multi-instrumentalist and composer

"A stirring patriotic air almost never failed to restore Civil War soldiers or renew them to their respective causes but the soundscapes of war offered more than inspiration or escapism from a brutal and tedious military existence. Those in the ranks and back home found their political voice through song and ballad, and no historian has done more than Christian McWhirter to open our ears to Civil War music as a powerful expression of political action. Neither side, as McWhirter brilliantly reveals, was just 'whistling Dixie' in camp or on the battlefield, as their music pulsed with the rhythmic melodies of revolution and revenge." - Peter S. Carmichael, Fluhrer Professor of History, Gettysburg College

"In this marvelous study of the production and consumption of music of the Civil War, Christian McWhirter enriches our understanding of the soundscapes of America's bloodiest conflict. It is a deeply researched and beautifully executed examination of a curiously understudied aspect of the War."  Mark M. Smith, author of Listening to Nineteenth-Century America

Battle Hymns is engagingly written and creatively researched. Over 50 contemporary periodicals and over 70 newspapers were mined to give the reader a rich sense of the importance of music to daily life in this era. Some might wish the author had delved deeper into the psychological and spiritual appeals of various texts and tunes; but the author excels at showing us how music altered people’s consciousness in this bloodiest of wars. Students of the Civil War will learn much from reading this excellent book. Randy Finley, Professor of History at Georgia Perimeter College. Review from Civil War Monitor

Friday, June 08, 2012

Forthcoming: Django Unchained---Are Quentin Tarentino's Inglorious Basterds Coming To Dixie For Christmas?

On December 25, 2012 Django Unchained a film written and produced by Quentin Tarantio will be released.  Set in the South two years before the Civil War, Django Unchained stars Academy Award®-winner Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles dead or alive.

Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the Souths most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.

Django and Schultzs search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Academy Award®-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of Candyland, an infamous plantation. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Academy Award®-nominee Samuel L. Jackson), Candies trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival

Written and directed by Academy Award®-winner Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained is produced by Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone. The executive producers are Harvey and Bob Weinstein, Michael Shamberg, Shannon McIntosh, and James Skotchdopole. Django Unchained will be released in the U.S. by The Weinstein Company on December 25, 2012, and internationally by Sony Pictures.

Text and Image Source: Internet Movie Database

News: Dr. Charles Leale's Long-Lost Homicide Report 'Discovered' In A Box At The National Archives

Report Of First Doctor To Reach Shot Lincoln Found,  John O'Connor, Associated Press, June 2, 2012.

 The first doctor to reach President Abraham Lincoln after he was shot in a Washington theater rushed to his ceremonial box and found him paralyzed, comatose and leaning against his wife. Dr. Charles Leale ordered brandy and water to be brought immediately. Leale's long-lost report of efforts to help the mortally wounded president, written just hours after his death, was discovered in a box at the National Archives late last month.
The Army surgeon, who sat 40 feet from Lincoln at Ford's Theater that night in April 1865, saw assassin John Wilkes Booth jump to the stage, brandishing a dagger. Thinking Lincoln had been stabbed, Leale pushed his way to the victim but found a different injury. "I commenced to examine his head (as no wound near the shoulder was found) and soon passed my fingers over a large firm clot of blood situated about one inch below the superior curved line of the occipital bone," Leale reported. "The coagula I easily removed and passed the little finger of my left hand through the perfectly smooth opening made by the ball."
The historians who discovered the report believe it was filed, packed in a box, stored at the archives and not seen for 147 years. While it doesn't add much new information, "it's the first draft" of the tragedy, said Daniel Stowell, director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln. "What's fascinating about this report is its immediacy and its clinical, just-the-facts approach," Stowell said. "There's not a lot of flowery language, not a lot of emotion."
A researcher for the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, Helena Iles Papaioannou, found the report among the U.S. surgeon general's April 1865 correspondence, filed under "L'' for Leale. Physicians continue to debate whether Lincoln received proper treatment. With trauma treatment still in its infancy, Leale's report illustrates "the helplessness of the doctors," Stowell said. "He doesn't say that but you can feel it." "For his time, he did everything right," said Dr. Blaine Houmes, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, specialist in emergency medicine who has studied the assassination. Accounts vary about how Leale did it — Houmes thinks he might have pounded on the victim's chest — but the doctor resuscitated the president.
"When Dr. Leale got into the president's box, Lincoln was technically dead," Houmes said. "He was able to regain a pulse and get breathing started again. He basically saved Lincoln's life, even though he didn't survive the wound." Leale wrote a report for an 1867 congressional committee investigating the assassination that referenced the earlier account, but no one had ever seen the original, said Stowell, whose group's goal is to find every document written by or to Abraham Lincoln during his lifetime.
At least four researchers have been painstakingly scouring boxes of documents at the National Archives for more than six years. They methodically pull boxes of paper — there are millions of records packed away and never catalogued, Stowell said — and look for "Lincoln docs," as Papaioannou called them.
She was assigned the surgeon general's mail and was leafing through letters pitching inventions for better ambulances and advice about feeding soldiers onions to ward off disease when she hit Leale's report, likely rewritten in the neat hand of a clerk. "I knew it was interesting. What we didn't know was this was novel," Papaioannou said. "We didn't know that this was new, that this was an 1865 report and that it likely hadn't been seen before."
Leale, who was 23 and just six weeks into his medical practice when Lincoln died, never spoke or wrote about his experiences again until 1909 in a speech commemorating the centennial of the president's birth. While Leale's report includes little sentiment, Papaioannou believes the way he described the moments after Booth disappeared shows how deeply he was affected.
"I then heard cries that the 'President had been murdered,' which were followed by those of 'Kill the murderer' 'Shoot him' etc. which came from different parts of the audience," Leale wrote. "I immediately ran to the Presidents box and as soon as the door was opened was admitted and introduced to Mrs. Lincoln when she exclaimed several times, 'O Doctor, do what you can for him, do what you can!'"
The Papers of Abraham Lincoln, administered by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, has found and is digitizing 90,000 documents, Stowell said. Leale's report — neither written by or to Lincoln — doesn't technically fall in the group's purview, but Stowell said some exceptions are made for extraordinary finds.
Text and Image Source: Yahoo News

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Newly Revised: Life and Death on the USS Monitor

Iron Coffin: War, Technology, and Experience Aboard the USS Monitor, David A Mindell,  Johns Hopkins Introductory Studies in the History of Technology Series. Baltimore  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.  208 pp.  $23.00 (paper),

H-Net Review by Gregory Stern (Florida State University) Published on H-War (June, 2012) 

David A. Mindell's Iron Coffin is an update of the 2000 version of the book. The Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mindell adds a new preface and epilogue in light of the raising of the USS Monitor's steam engine and gun turret in 2001 and 2002 respectively--and in respect to technology's role in warfare since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In Iron Coffin, Mindell continues to impress on readers the complications of putting men in the midst of revolutionary new technology and suddenly thrusting man and machine into the throes of combat. From the _Monitor's creation by inventor John Ericsson, to its famous duel with the CSS Virginia during the American Civil War at Hampton Roads, to its foundering in a storm on December 31, 1862, the remarkable ship was a nexus of technological marvels and human controversies.

The argument in Iron Coffin remains unchanged from the 2000 version, a persistence that only enhances its power. More than telling a story of inventor and invention, Mindell contends that the Monitor frames issues of technology and society, thereby inviting us to reconsider the relationship between soldier and weapon, as well as expectation and experience. The human element, as Mindell highlights throughout the book, was essential to the ship's success or failure. Competing inventors, sailors living onboard, political figures, and the public's image of the Monitor through experience or literature were as much a part of the ship's legacy as its engines, guns, and rivets.

Mindell's book walks us through the steps that nineteenth-century nautical engineering took in bringing ironclad technology to fruition. He reiterates how transitioning from sail to steam and from wood to iron resulted from decades of gradual developments and uncertainty among shipbuilders and governments. Although aware of European innovations that led to France's ironclad Gloire and Britain's HMS Warrior in 1859 and 1860, U.S. naval officers only tinkered with steam engines and ironclad batteries (army or navy cannons set in a series). Except for the increasing use of steam vessels, Congress did not support any line of revolutionary ships before the Civil War. Mindell mentions how competition can change a situation rapidly. As Britain's _Warrior_ was a response to France's Gloire the Confederacy's pursuit of ironclad technology to thwart the Union's naval blockade forced the hand of Union Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles.

Mindell continues the story of how the Monitor was built through his discussion of Welles forming the "Ironclad Board" and coming to settle on the ship design of Swedish engineer Ericsson. The middle part of the book takes the reader inside the Monitor, often through the eyes of its crew--especially paymaster William F. Keeler. Mindell uses Keeler's reminiscences (mostly Keeler's letters to his wife) as observations of life onboard the ship over the few months of its service. The book highlights the mixed feelings crew members had about the Monitor. The crew was simultaneously grateful for the Monitor's iron hull protecting them from ordnance, but loathing of the hot interior, stagnant air, and leaky joints of the vessel. Of note is Mindell's showcasing the crew as being fully aware of how experimental their ship was--recognizing the novelty of their being onboard, sometimes regretting their courage in serving on such an untried design.

For Mindell, the Battle of Hampton Roads (March 8-9, 1862) serves as much as a separation of image and reality as it does a trial by fire for the Monitor. 

The review continues at H-Net Reviews

News: Gettysburg's Forgotten Cavalry Actions Wins Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Writing Award

Wittenberg’s Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions previously won the Bachelder-Coddington award upon its initial release. Now with a completely revised and redesigned edition Wittenberg has won another major award.

“Considering that the original edition of the book won an award, I find it especially gratifying that the new edition was also recognized,” said Wittenberg. “The new edition is a completely different book, and it deserves to be judged on its own merits. I’m grateful to the good folks at Savas Beatie for sharing my vision for it, and I am similarly grateful to the Army Historical Foundation for honoring it.”

Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions is a fully revised edition that adds extensive new research, interpretations, and conclusions about the Battle of Gettysburg’s Farnsworth’s Charge, South Cavalry Field, and the Battle of Fairfield, July 3, 1863. The revised edition includes: nearly 15,000 words of new material, including a new appendix (co-authored with J. David Petruzzi), a walking and driving tour complete with GPS coordinates, updated photographs to reflect the modern appearance of the Gettysburg battlefield, and a new map.

"Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions is an influential book and we are honored that it was given this prestigious award," explained Savas Beatie’s Managing Director Theodore P. Savas. "Eric is a true trail blazer in the arena of Civil War Cavalry research and writing and we are proud of our ongoing relationship with him."

The AHF Distinguished Writing Awards program was established in 1997 to recognize authors who make a significant contribution to the literature on U.S. Army history. Each year nominations are submitted to the Awards Committee by publishers and journal editors. A small group of finalists are selected and a final judging is made. 

Monday, June 04, 2012

News: Are Union Soldiers Buried Among Rebels In Ohio POW Camp?

Blue Among the Gray?,  Jeb Phillips, The Columbus Dispatch, May 28, 2012.

An amateur historian thinks six Union soldiers are buried at Camp Chase, a cemetery reserved for Confederate troops. On Row 41 of Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery — one of only two places in Ohio officially designated for Confederate dead — is a marker for a John Kennedy.

It’s actually a double marker, number 2100. The top half is for a Texas soldier. But the bottom part is what caught the eye years ago of an amateur historian from New Albany who now lives in Georgia. The stone reads: “John Kennedy; 33 KY VOLS; C.S.A.” The Confederate States of America regiments in Kentucky didn’t have numbers that high, Dennis Ranney knew. Maybe an extra “3” was added by mistake.
Ranney, 59, likes to learn about Civil War prisons and had first visited Camp Chase, at 2900 Sullivant Ave. on the West Side, as a teenager. Most of the people buried there also were prisoners there. Ranney decided to research the dead and write small biographies about five years ago. “Some of them have stories to tell,” he thought. One of the people he pursued was Kennedy.
No matter how hard Ranney looked in Confederate records, he couldn’t find Kennedy. Then, “just for the heck of it,” he looked in Union records. And there he was. This John Kennedy who had been called a Confederate since at least 1869 was actually: John Kennedy; 33rd Kentucky Infantry; U.S.A. “Oh my God,” Ranney said he thought to himself.
In 1867, Ohio Gov. James Cox ordered a military chaplain to identify all of the war’s dead buried in Ohio. The chaplain did the best he could with spotty records, according to historians. Some he determined were Confederates were disinterred and reburied at Camp Chase in 1869. Many of those, including Kennedy, have markers in Row 41 — the last full row nearest the Hill Top Dairy Twist on Sullivant Avenue. It’s the most likely row for identification mistakes. Ranney used online records and physical ones at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., to research other names in that row. He has found five other Union soldiers who he believes are mistakenly called Confederates on their markers:
• James Lykens, Co. A, 12th Ky. Cavalry, CSA, is actually James Likens, Co. A, 12th Ky. Cavalry, USA.
• Jacob Lake, Co. G, 90th Tenn. Regiment, CSA, is Jacob Lake, Co. G, 90th Penn. Infantry, USA.
• J.A. Stilzer, Co. A, 9th Ky. Cavalry, CSA, is J.W. Stitzer, Co. A, 9th Ky. Cavalry, USA.
• Taylor Ellis, Co. B, 1st W. Tenn. Regiment, CSA, is Taylor Ellis, Co. M, 6th Tenn. Cavalry, USA.
• John Clark, Co. G, 3rd Va. Cavalry, CSA, is John E. Clark, Co. D, 3rd W.Va. Cavalry, USA.
Ranney says he has doubts about four other markers but hasn’t been able to prove any errors yet. Members of the Hilltop Historical Society learned of Ranney’s work last week. The society leads tours of the cemetery, keeps some historical records and organizes a memorial ceremony every June. “It’s very plausible,” Dick Hoffman, a society board member, said of Ranney’s findings.
“I believe there’s a good possibility that (Ranney’s work) is correct,” said Monty Chase, another board member and a distant cousin of the cemetery’s namesake and Abraham Lincoln’s treasury secretary, Salmon P. Chase. Camp Chase has some known errors, and it’s not surprising that there would be others, Hoffman said. Historians know that some people buried at Camp Chase aren’t marked at all. They also know that the stones themselves are just approximations of where the soldiers are buried. Ranney’s findings are so new that no one knows if any changes can be made at the cemetery. Monty Chase suggested leaving the stones in place and carving updates on the backs. The big arch at the cemetery says “Americans,” and that’s just as true now as it ever was, he said. The Dayton National Cemetery, which oversees Camp Chase, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Ranney has also discovered that the same John Kennedy from Kentucky, identified as a Union soldier, has a marker at Green Lawn Cemetery. Ranney expects that there’s more work to be done to sort out Columbus’ burial records.  Now, though, he’s satisfied that for the first time since the end of the Civil War, six soldiers can be remembered on Memorial Day for who they really were.

Text and Image Source:  Columbus Dispatch

News---In Search Of The Authentic Campaign Experience

Extra Strength Reenacting, Matt Dellinger, New York Times, May 30 2012.

The re-enactors bivouacked at the landing were of the “progressive” variety, a more hardcore breed that insists on well-researched, authentic portrayals and eschews many of the modern comforts in which their mainstream counterparts quietly indulge.  No one was packing protein bars or pristine produce; this group ate rations of salt pork and rustic bread for dinner and the same again for breakfast.They had been brought together by Matt Woodburn, the commander of an umbrella group called the Western Independent Grays. When he’s not involved in Civil War re-enacting, Mr. Woodburn is the chief operating officer for the nationally syndicated radio talk show host Dave Ramsey. In May 2011 he posted on the Web site the first details of a scenario he called “The Grand Adventure”:
Imagine being ten miles upriver from Pittsburg Landing in Savannah, TN. . . . Very early Saturday morning, you are awakened to proceed to the river’s edge where you see against the dark night sky a paddle wheel steamer dimly lit by candle light. Your regiment, the 15th Iowa Infantry, is ordered to board. . . . You walk up a gang plank on the dirt bank (no modern marina dock) and find a place on the steamer. For the next two hours you will travel down river.
Eventually the men would disembark, be issued ammunition and hold the dirt road to the landing. “Once we receive word that we’re needed at the front, we will make a five mile march on the original battlefield to the actual event site” — all of that, in other words, before even reaching the rest of the re-enactors. Then again, this wasn’t for your weekend Civil Warrior: Woodburn also promised a cavalry escort, a horse-drawn wagon with plenty of drinking water and a camping location “away from the masses.”
To help the men get into character, Woodburn later posted a Web page with links to historical background material, including the diary of a soldier from the 15th Iowa named Cyrus Boyd, and he ordered those interested to get into shape by hiking with their full pack for five miles at least once before the event.
The soldiers on the message board found the whole idea thrilling. An hour and a half after Woodburn’s post, a user called dirtyshirt replied, “I could almost end my career with this scenario.” The plans brought out re-enactors from across the country and even overseas, members of progressive groups with names like Liberty Rifles and the Chesapeake Volunteer Guard, who portray a variety of regiments, both Confederate and Union. By early July 2011, the slots on the boat — three trips worth — were full.
Text and Image Source Continued At  New York Times, May 30 2012