Monday, December 29, 2008

Reading Robertson's "A.P. Hill"

I am just about to finish James Robertson's General A.P. Hill: The story of a Confederate Warrior and I am really excited about finished it. It is a wonderful book about a man who only has one other major biography about him. Known for his red battle shirt and his hard-hitting attacks at the head of the famed Light Division, Ambrose P. Hill proved to be an example of the Peter principle.


Hill was a West Pointer (1847) and veteran artilleryman, he resigned as a first lieutenant on March 1, 1861, and joined the South, where his services included: colonel, 13th Virginia (spring 1861); brigadier general, CSA (February 26, 1862); commanding brigade, Longstreet's Division, Department of Northern Virginia (ca. February 26 - May 27, 1862); major general, CSA (May 26, 1862); commanding Light Division (in lst Corps from June 29 and 2nd Corps from July 27, 1862), Army of Northern Virginia (May 27, 1862 - May 2, 1863); commanding 2nd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia (May 2 and 6-30, 1863); lieutenant general, CSA (May 24, 1863); and commanding 3rd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia (May 30, 1863-May 7, 1864 and May 21, 1864-April 2, 1865).
In reserve at lst Bull Run, he fought at Yorktown and Williamsburg before being given command of a division. On the day he assumed command he directed the fight at Hanover Court House. He then took part in the Seven Days, distinguishing himself. After fighting at Cedar Mountain, 2nd Bull Run, and the capture of Harpers Ferry, he launched powerful counterattacks at the right moment at both Antietam and Fredericksburg. At Chancellorsville he was on Jackson's famed march around the Union right flank. When Jackson was wounded, Hill took command of the corps but was wounded carrying out his chief's orders to "press right in." At the end of the month he was given command of the new 3rd Corps, which he led to Gettysburg where, suffering from a now unidentifiable illness, he put in a lackluster performance.
He was responsible for the disaster at Bristoe Station that fall and, again ill, was virtually circumvented at the Wilderness when Lee in effect took over command of the corps. He relinquished command temporarily after the battle and missed Spotsylvania but returned for the North Anna and Cold Harbor. Taking part in the siege of Petersburg, he was again ill during part of the winter of 186465. With the lines around the city collapsing on April 2, 1865, he was shot and killed in an encounter with a stray group of federal soldiers.
Interestingly enough, both Stonewall Jackson and Lee called for Hill and his division in their dying delirium. It must have been the old Hill they were recalling. (Hassler, William W., A.P. Hill: Lee's Forgotten General and Schenck, Martin, Up Came Hill.- The Story of the Light Division and of its Leaders)

One of the best quotes that I found in this book was Hill's letter to fellow COnfederate General Wade Hampton. It was the latter part of 1864 and Hampton's son was just killed defending the city of Petersburg, Virginia. Hill's letter to his friend Hampton fully expresses his grief over his friends recent loss. Moreover, his letter expresses the feelings that many of us has felt when a friend or a spouse has lost someone who might not have been close to us. Read on and enjoy it!

"October 28, 1864

My Dear General

I take the liberty of writing to you, to express my deep sympathy with you in the end of your nible boy, and my earnest desire, were such a thing possible, to alleviate your grief. Any assistance which I can give you in forwarding your wishes in any way, please do not hestatie to call upon me. With great sympathy, being truly your friend.

A.P. Hill"

Sources: Who Was Who In The Civil War by Stewart Sifakis & General A.P. Hill: The story of a Confederate Warrior by James I. Robertson Jr.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Who should I promote? Robert E. Lee after the death of Thomas J. Jackson

After Stonewall Jackson was killed the Confederate high command had an important decision ot make. The Army of Northern Virginia had entered a state of change after the beloved commander of the Second Corps met his end by a volley fired by his own troops. Lee had six eligiable candiates to replace Jackson and if you look at the list you could form a second army around these guys.

Richard Ewell-->Served with distinction with Jackson in the Valley and the Second Bull Run campaign where he was wounded.

A.P. Hill-->Lee called him his best division commander. This was very difficult for anyone to argue because Hill's division saved the Confederate right at Sharpsburg and despite a questionable performance at Fredricksburg, Hill's division possessed one of the best fighting forces in America. This was due to the strength of Hill as a commander.

John Bell Hood-->Next to Hill he was argulably Lee's best division commander. Hood had smashed the Union line at Gaines Mill and saved the Confederate left at Sharpsburg in 1862.

Richard H. Anderson-->Had one of the best resumes of any of the six commanders. He served with distinction during the Seven Days Campaign, Antietam and Second Bull Run. Anderson also was a very humble man like R.E. Lee.

Lafayette McLaws-->Another division commander and like Hood he served with skill under the commands of James Longstreet and Jackson. Like Hill he fought in every single battle that the Army of Northern Virginia had ever seen.

Jackson died on May 10, 1863 and by May 23rd the gray-bearded Lee had made his decision. He would divide his army into three corps instead of the two that had previously existed. This would make it easier for Lee and his corps commanders to dictate orders and fight battles. Longstreet would remain in command of the First Corps. As successor to Jackson, General Lee decided that Richard Ewell would become the new commander of the Second Corps.

Meanwhile the command of the newly minted Third Corps would fall to A.P. Hill. Many in the army critisized the decision and stated that the army's commander picked Hill because he was a Virginian. Years later Jefferson Davis would put this theory to rest in his memorirs by stating "There had been complaints in certain quarters that Virginia was getting more her fair share of the promotions. But the truth is that A.P. Hill was clearly entitled to the place, both ont he account of his ability as a soldier and the meritorious services he had rendered, that General Lee did not hestiate to to recommend him, and I did not hestiate to make the appointment."


Robertson, James I. General A. P. Hill : The Story of a Confederate Warrior. New York: Random House, 1987.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Forgotten Battles of the Civil War: The Battle of Sheperdstown, September 19-20, 1862

It has been quite a while since I published a Forgotten Battle of the Civil War. But I am back now and today's episode will focus on the Battle of Sheperdstown.

After Lee's "defeat" at Sharpsburg both he and the Army of Northern Virginia retreated across the Potomac at Shepherdstown. Covering the Confederate retreat was Lee's chief of artillery General William Pendleton. General Pendleton set up 44cannon on a bluff overlooking the Potomac River. It was Pendleton's job to make sure that the Union army did not prance upon Lee's retreating troops. Two small brigades of infantry helped protect Pendleton's guns as the Confederates waded the river and by daybreak almost the entire army was across. On September 19th Union caverly and the 5th Army Corps under General Fitz John Porter sent the First U.S. Sharpshooters and one company of the 5th New York Infantry forward. They used the dry trench of the C & O Canal as cover and began to pick off Confederate gunners on the far side of the river. Some Union artillery shells crashed into Shepherdstown itself, causing confusion and chaos among the townspeople and wounded rebels left there.

As Union fire intensfied General Pendleton spread his troops thing so all of his guns could be protected. Just before dark General Porter ordered 500 men to attack and the Confederate infantry was forced back. Pendleton managed to pull out most of his guns but four pieces fell under Union control. Porter pulled the captured guns and his troops back to the Northern side of the Potomac River. As for the Confederates Pendleton mistakenly reported to Lee that Union forces were in Virginia and had captured the entire reserve artillery. Lee and Jackson reacted by ordering A. P. Hill's and Jubal Early's Divisions to stop their withdrawal, turn, and drive the pursuers back into Maryland.

The following day, General Porter ordered two brigades to cross the Potomac and clear out any rebel forces that were in the area. Waiting for them were the troops under Early and Hill. With the Confederates advancing in force, Porter ordered his troops to retreat and he ordered his artillery to cover the "retreat" with a heavy artillery barrage. Colonel Charles M. Prevost, commanding the newly formed 118th Pennsylvania Infantry refused to retreat and Hill's Confederates slammed into the Pennsylvanians as they formed near the edge of the Potomac. Prevost's men quickly attempted to return fire but many of them had defective guns and scores of his men dropped their ineffective weapons in disgust and dashed across the Potomac. Colonel Prevost was wounded trying to steady his men, other officers led a bayonet charge which was smashed, and the regiment broke apart. Some tried to escape by climbing down the bluffs under Confederate fire, and many died as they fell to the rocks below. Others picked their way past the old cement mill, ran across the slippery dam, or waded across at the ford. Of the 700 men in the 118th who crossed the river that morning, only 431 came back across.

The battle proved to Union commander George B. McCellan that pursing Lee after Antietam (Sharpsburg) would only cause more problems for him because Lee's army still had some fight in it. He hestiated and this delay eventually would cause President Abraham Lincoln to remove him as the commander of the Army of the Potomac on November 7. The Battle of Shepherdstown ended the Maryland Campaign, Lee's first invasion of the North.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

JFK, the Gettysburg Address, my birthday and Stonewall Jackson

Tommorrow is my birthday so Happy Birthday to me. Yesterday was the 45th anniverisary of JFK's murder so "Happy John F. Kennedy Assassination Day". November 19was 145th anniversary of Gettysburg Address so Happy belated Gettysburg Address day. I love November!!

Anyway, I wanted to share a famous quote to my readers because it is good to revisit things like this. After the Battle of First Bull Run General Thomas J. Jackson made sure to give credit where credit was due which foreshadowed his ability to give his men the credit fo any of his victories. Jackson wrote in his battle report:

"My preservation was entirely due, as was the glorious victory, to our God, to whom be all the honor, praise and glory. The battle was the hardest that I have ever been in, but not near so hot in its fire. I commanded the centre more particularly, though one of my regiments extended to the right for some distance. There were other commanders on my right and left. Whilst great credit is due to other parts of our gallant army, God made my brigade more instrumental than any other in repulsing the main attack. This is for your information only, say nothing about it. Let others speak praise, not myself."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Book Review #10: Lincoln Murder Conspiracies by William Hanchett

There have been hundreds of books written about Lincoln's assassination. The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies by William Hanchett is one of the better additions to the Lincoln assassination library. The goal of his book is to explore the many different murder plots that could have brought an end to our 16th President's life. Did Booth act alone? Was Booth a pawn in a murder conspiracy? Was the Confederate government involved? Did Jeff Davis plot to murder Lincoln?

Hanchett does a good job exploring each of these by not only spending time on each question but he also explores every major work on the Lincoln murder from 1865-1982. He explores how Booth is portrayed by different authors and how Edwin Stanton has been falsely vilified as a Lincoln conspirator. The book is a bit dated (1983) but still holds its own and is highly recommended to anyone interest in the Lincoln assassination. Ironically, the book is only the second Lincoln assassination book written by a professional historian. Since that time the assassination has recieved plenty of attention by historians. Recently, Edward Steers and Michael Kaufman have written two books that are the "bibles" of the Lincoln assassination but Hanchett's book still holds its own after 25 years.

Dr. William Hanchett's closing sentences in The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies are as follows: "Lincoln would not have enjoyed the extravagant and pseudoreligious praise being offered in his name by so many Americans. Possibly he would have been reminded of some anecdote by which to deflate the absurdities of such exaggerations. But one suspects that if he could learn of the slush written about the suggested involvement of his secretary of war in his own death he would simply become angry." An interesting assessment.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lincoln and Obama

Would Abraham Lincoln have supported the presidency of Obama? It is difficult to say but Lincoln has been misquoted as saying the following:

"You cannot bring prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further brotherhood of men by inciting class hatred.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves"

I was brought up to believe that Lincoln said these words but according to several webpages and several books that I have read then I have learned that this might not be the case. If it was true than one could say that perhaps Lincoln would not have supported Obama but then again he believed that man should rise as far as talent could take them and since Obama did that in the 2008 election than he might have actually supported our new president. In the end Lincoln is dead and we may never know how he would have felt because he might have went with the "party-line" and John McCain.

Regardless of how you voted on Tuesday, Obama has a tough task remaining before him and if he is able to get the United States out of this crisis then he will have a bigger victory in 2012. He has a lot on his shoulders so maybe the comparison between Lincoln and Obama holds some water because when Abe was elected he faced a major crisis too. Even Ken Burns agrees with this assessment. I did a quick internet search and not to my surprise I learned that Burns had supported John Kerry and Al Gore during the 2004 and 2000 elections. He also compared Obama to Lincoln because Obama and Lincoln did not have enough experience when they were elected. Burns noted that Lincoln had come into the White House with much less Washington experience than other leading politicians of the 1850s. With the country in such a perilous state at the time, he said, one might have thought it needed an "old pro" like William Seward, when in fact, Burns said, "what the country really needed was a wiry, relatively inexperienced" person, Abe Lincoln. In this regard, he argued, history may be repeating itself.

Obama did pull out all the stops when he used quotes from Lincoln's first inugural speech during his own acceptence speech. They are of course some of my favorite Lincoln quotes. Obama said:

"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection...The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." Almost 150 years after Lincoln, Barack Obama is also summoning us to heed the angels of our better nature. Will we heed them?

I am not a Obama supporter but he did state during his acceptence speech that "And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too." Good luck President Obama, you got a lot of work to do and a lot of healing to do. This country is divided and needs a leader. Good luck.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ronald's Farewell

In the wake of the worst defeat in Republican Poltical history I cannot help but look back on the greatest President of our age. This is a true president. God Bless America and God Bless Ronald Reagan.

Farewell Address to the Nation
Oval Office
January 11, 1989

This was President Reagan's formal goodbye to the nation after the completion of two terms in office. Over the next four years I will miss Ronnie!

"This is the 34th time I'll speak to you from the Oval Office and the last. We've been together eight years now, and soon it'll be time for me to go. But before I do, I wanted to share some thoughts, some of which I've been saving for a long time.

It's been the honor of my life to be your president. So many of you have written the past few weeks to say thanks, but I could say as much to you. Nancy and I are grateful for the opportunity you gave us to serve.

One of the things about the presidency is that you're always somewhat apart. You spend a lot of time going by too fast in a car someone else is driving, and seeing the people through tinted glass--the parents holding up a child, and the wave you saw too late and couldn't return. And so many times I wanted to stop and reach out from behind the glass, and connect. Well, maybe I can do a little of that tonight.

People ask how I feel about leaving. And the fact is, "parting is such sweet sorrow." The sweet part is California, and the ranch and freedom. The sorrow--the goodbyes, of course, and leaving this beautiful place.

You know, down the hall and up the stairs from this office is the part of the White House where the president and his family live. There are a few favorite windows I have up there that I like to stand and look out of early in the morning. The view is over the grounds here to the Washington Monument, and then the Mall and the Jefferson Memorial. But on mornings when the humidity is low, you can see past the Jefferson to the river, the Potomac, and the Virginia shore. Someone said that's the view Lincoln had when he saw the smoke rising from the Battle of Bull Run. I see more prosaic things: the grass on the banks, the morning traffic as people make their way to work, now and then a sailboat on the river.

I've been thinking a bit at that window. I've been reflecting on what the past eight years have meant and mean. And the image that comes to mind like a refrain is a nautical one--a small story about a big ship, and a refugee and a sailor. It was back in the early '80s, at the height of the boat people. And the sailor was hard at work on the carrier Midway, which was patrolling the South China Sea. The sailor, like most American servicemen, was young, smart, and fiercely observant. The crew spied on the horizon a leaky little boat. And crammed inside were refugees from Indochina hoping to get to America. The Midway sent a small launch to bring them to the ship and safety. As the refugees made their way through the choppy seas, one spied the sailor on deck and stood up and called out to him. He yelled, "Hello, American sailor. Hello, freedom man."

A small moment with a big meaning, a moment the sailor, who wrote it in a letter, couldn't get out of his mind. And when I saw it, neither could I. Because that's what it was to be an American in the 1980s. We stood, again, for freedom. I know we always have, but in the past few years the world again, and in a way, we ourselves rediscovered it.

It's been quite a journey this decade, and we held together through some stormy seas. And at the end, together, we are reaching our destination.

The fact is, from Grenada to the Washington and Moscow summits, from the recession of '81 to '82, to the expansion that began in late '82 and continues to this day, we've made a difference. The way I see it, there were two great triumphs, two things that I'm proudest of. One is the economic recovery, in which the people of America created--and filled--19 million new jobs. The other is the recovery of our morale. America is respected again in the world and looked to for leadership.

Something that happened to me a few years ago reflects some of this. It was back in 1981, and I was attending my first big economic summit, which was held that year in Canada. The meeting place rotates among the member countries. The opening meeting was a formal dinner for the heads of government of the seven industrialized nations. Now, I sat there like the new kid in school and listened, and it was all Francois this and Helmut that. They dropped titles and spoke to one another on a first-name basis. Well, at one point I sort of leaned in and said, "My name's Ron." Well, in that same year, we began the actions we felt would ignite an economic comeback--cut taxes and regulation, started to cut spending. And soon the recovery began.

Two years later another economic summit, with pretty much the same cast. At the big opening meeting we all got together, and all of a sudden, just for a moment, I saw that everyone was just sitting there looking at me. And one of them broke the silence. "Tell us about the American miracle," he said.

Well, back in 1980, when I was running for president, it was all so different. Some pundits said our programs would result in catastrophe. Our views on foreign affairs would cause war. Our plans for the economy would cause inflation to soar and bring about economic collapse. I even remember one highly respected economist saying, back in 1982, that "the engines of economic growth have shut down here, and they're likely to stay that way for years to come." Well, he and the other opinion leaders were wrong. The fact is, what they called "radical" was really "right." What they called "dangerous" was just "desperately needed."

And in all of that time I won a nickname, "The Great Communicator." But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: It was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things, and they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation--from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I'll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense.

Common sense told us that when you put a big tax on something, the people will produce less of it. So, we cut the people's tax rates, and the people produced more than ever before. The economy bloomed like a plant that had been cut back and could now grow quicker and stronger. Our economic program brought about the longest peacetime expansion in our history: real family income up, the poverty rate down, entrepreneurship booming, and an explosion in research and new technology. We're exporting more than ever because American industry became more competitive and at the same time, we summoned the national will to knock down protectionist walls abroad instead of erecting them at home. Common sense also told us that to preserve the peace, we'd have to become strong again after years of weakness and confusion. So, we rebuilt our defenses, and this New Year we toasted the new peacefulness around the globe. Not only have the superpowers actually begun to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons--and hope for even more progress is bright--but the regional conflicts that rack the globe are also beginning to cease. The Persian Gulf is no longer a war zone. The Soviets are leaving Afghanistan. The Vietnamese are preparing to pull out of Cambodia, and an American-mediated accord will soon send 50,000 Cuban troops home from Angola.

The lesson of all this was, of course, that because we're a great nation, our challenges seem complex. It will always be this way. But as long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours. And something else we learned: Once you begin a great movement, there's no telling where it will end. We meant to change a nation, and instead, we changed a world.

Countries across the globe are turning to free markets and free speech and turning away from ideologies of the past. For them, the great rediscovery of the 1980s has been that, lo and behold, the moral way of government is the practical way of government: Democracy, the profoundly good, is also the profoundly productive.

When you've got to the point when you can celebrate the anniversaries of your 39th birthday, you can sit back sometimes, review your life, and see it flowing before you. For me there was a fork in the river, and it was right in the middle of my life. I never meant to go into politics. It wasn't my intention when I was young. But I was raised to believe you had to pay your way for the blessings bestowed on you. I was happy with my career in the entertainment world, but I ultimately went into politics because I wanted to protect something precious.

Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: "We the people." "We the people" tell the government what to do, it doesn't tell us. "We the people" are the driver, the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world's constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which "We the people" tell the government what it is allowed to do. "We the people" are free. This belief has been the underlying basis for everything I've tried to do these past eight years.

But back in the 1960s, when I began, it seemed to me that we'd begun reversing the order of things--that through more and more rules and regulations and confiscatory taxes, the government was taking more of our money, more of our options, and more of our freedom. I went into politics in part to put up my hand and say, "Stop." I was a citizen politician, and it seemed the right thing for a citizen to do.

I think we have stopped a lot of what needed stopping. And I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.

Nothing is less free than pure communism, and yet we have, the past few years, forged a satisfying new closeness with the Soviet Union. I've been asked if this isn't a gamble, and my answer is no because we're basing our actions not on words but deeds. The detente of the 1970s was based not on actions but promises. They'd promise to treat their own people and the people of the world better. But the gulag was still the gulag, and the state was still expansionist, and they still waged proxy wars in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Well, this time, so far, it's different. President Gorbachev has brought about some internal democratic reforms and begun the withdrawal from Afghanistan. He has also freed prisoners whose names I've given him every time we've met.

But life has a way of reminding you of big things through small incidents. Once, during the heady days of the Moscow summit, Nancy and I decided to break off from the entourage one afternoon to visit the shops on Arbat Street--that's a little street just off Moscow's main shopping area. Even though our visit was a surprise, every Russian there immediately recognized us and called out our names and reached for our hands. We were just about swept away by the warmth. You could almost feel the possibilities in all that joy. But within seconds, a KGB detail pushed their way toward us and began pushing and shoving the people in the crowd. It was an interesting moment. It reminded me that while the man on the street in the Soviet Union yearns for peace, the government is Communist. And those who run it are Communists, and that means we and they view such issues as freedom and human rights very differently.

We must keep up our guard, but we must also continue to work together to lessen and eliminate tension and mistrust. My view is that President Gorbachev is different from previous Soviet leaders. I think he knows some of the things wrong with his society and is trying to fix them. We wish him well. And we'll continue to work to make sure that the Soviet Union that eventually emerges from this process is a less threatening one. What it all boils down to is this. I want the new closeness to continue. And it will, as long as we make it clear that we will continue to act in a certain way as long as they continue to act in a helpful manner. If and when they don't, at first pull your punches. If they persist, pull the plug. It's still trust but verify. It's still play, but cut the cards. It's still watch closely. And don't be afraid to see what you see.

I've been asked if I have any regrets. Well, I do. The deficit is one. I've been talking a great deal about that lately, but tonight isn't for arguments. And I'm going to hold my tongue. But an observation: I've had my share of victories in the Congress, but what few people noticed is that I never won anything you didn't win for me. They never saw my troops, they never saw Reagan's regiments, the American people. You won every battle with every call you made and letter you wrote demanding action. Well, action is still needed. If we're to finish the job, Reagan's regiments will have to become the Bush brigades. Soon he'll be the chief, and he'll need you every bit as much as I did. Finally, there is a great tradition of warnings in presidential farewells, and I've got one that's been on my mind for some time. But oddly enough it starts with one of the things I'm proudest of in the past eight years: the resurgence of national pride that I called the new patriotism. This national feeling is good, but it won't count for much, and it won't last unless it's grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge.

An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn't get these things from your family, you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed, you could get a sense of patriotism from popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-'60s

But now, we're about to enter the '90s, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven't reinstitutionalized it. We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom--freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection.

So, we've got to teach history based not on what's in fashion but what's important: Why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. You know, four years ago on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, I read a letter from a young woman writing of her late father, who'd fought on Omaha Beach. Her name was Lisa Zanatta Henn, and she said, "We will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did." Well, let's help her keep her word. If we forget what we did, we won't know who we are. I'm warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let's start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual. And let me offer lesson No. 1 about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. That would be a very American thing to do.

And that's about all I have to say tonight. Except for one thng. The past few days when I've been at that window upstairs, I've thought a bit of the "shining city upon a hill." The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we'd call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.

I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it and see it still.

And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that; after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

We've done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for eight years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren't just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger. We made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.

And so, good-bye, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America."

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Halloween!!!!!! If you can watch one of the Halloween films and please do not watch Halloween 8! Enjoy your Tricks or Treats!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A quick link

I never heard of this site until I did a random search today. Great page for reviews on current and past Civil War litrature.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Could Lincoln be speaking about the 2008 Election??????????????

Obviously, Lincoln never heard of Obama or McCain but his famous Lyceum Address is one of my favorite speeches and it contains one of my favorite quotes of all-time. Bascially, Lincoln is stating that American cannot be destroyed unless we choose to destroy ourselves. The 2008 election is a key moment in American history because we are at a crossroads of our being. There is a major fork in the road and whereever it takes this country I hope that our voters make the right choice for President. Without further adieu here is what Lincoln had to say in 1837.

"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?-- Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!--All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

We can only destroy ourselves, lets hope that it isn't because we picked the wrong person for president. In 1860 it didn't seem like we made the right choice as a nation and it turned out okay. History tends to repeat itself....I hope!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Interesting painting of the surrender at Appommatox

Great image.

I also want to congradulate the Oakland Raiders for winning just their 21st game since playing in Super Bowl 37 in Jan. 2003. Oakland beat New York 16-13 in overtime. Brett Farve entered the game with a 4-0 record against the Raiders. As of today he is 4-1, we finally beat that old man. My team has struggled with a 21-65 record since playing on sports biggest stage. Thank god.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My next book

My next Civil War book and possibly my final Civil War read of 2008 will be The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies by William Hanchett. It is an older book from 1983 but most of research is still good. I have read so much about the Lincoln Assassination since 2007 that I figured that I might as well continue reading on it. This book is a unique one because it details the several conspiracy.

Among the accused have been members of the Confederate government, including Jefferson Davis, the Catholic Church and members of Lincoln's own Cabinet. Hanchett examines these conspiracy theories and the people who put forward the theories in an attempt to find out if a higher authority, civil or religious, ordered John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators to kill Lincoln and members of his Cabinet. I cannot wait to dive in!

How Abraham Lincoln ordered his steak

October 19, 2008

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — If we really are what we eat, Abraham Lincoln was rare steak, fruit, coffee and pecan cake.

A new cookbook announced Friday by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield sheds new insight on the 16th president’s diet. Among the tidbits: Lincoln ate heavy meals in winter to keep warm. And skinny Lincoln had a sweet tooth.

‘‘A. Lincoln Cookbook: A Cookbook of Epic Portions’’ includes 623 recipes, including many of the confections Mary Todd Lincoln created in her kitchen. Lincoln museum volunteers also contributed recipes.

The cookbook costs $40 a copy and proceeds benefit the museum’s volunteer services department. It will also be available online at

This is a fascinating fact. is a cool site and it even has a countdown for the Lincoln Bicentential. More later.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A "sore" loser

While imprisoned at Fortress Monroe the former President of the Confederacy wrote his wife a letter. Recently, I was watching C-Span's "Lincoln: 200 Years" series and during that episode author James Swanson mentioned the idea that Jefferson Davis was involved in Lincoln's Assassination. Inspired by this conversation I did not look into Jefferson Davis involvement or lack thereof but I instead looked at the Jefferson Davis Papers which are conveniently online.

Throughout his letter Davis updates his wife on the wars ending and adds his own interesting ending:

"I think my judgement is undisturbed by any pride of opinion or of place, I have prayed to our heavenly Father to give me wisdom and fortitude equal to the demands of the position in which Providence has placed me. I have sacrificed so much for the cause of the Confederacy that I can measure my ability to make any further sacrifice required, and am assured there is but one to which I am not equal, my Wife and my Children. How are they to be saved from degradation or want is now my care. During the suspension of hostilities you may have the best opportunity to go to Missi. and thence either to sail from Mobile for a foreign port or to cross the river and proceed to Texas, as the one or the other may be more practicable. The little sterling you have will be a very scanty store and under other circumstances would not be counted, but if our land can be sold that will secure you from absolute want. For myself it may be that our Enemy will prefer to banish me, it may be that a devoted band of Cavalry will cling to me and that I can force my way across the Missi. and if nothing can be done there which it will be proper to do, then I can go to Mexico and have the world from which to choose a location. Dear Wife this is not the fate to which I invited when the future was rose-colored to us both; but I know you will bear it even better than myself and that of us two I alone will ever look back reproachfully on my past career."

What fascinating statements from a man, on the run, who obviously will spend the rest of his life missing what the Confederacy stood for but no regret the events that transpired. In many ways he wasn't a "sore" loser as many authors have protrayed him to be. He was saddened by the loss of his "lifestyle" which obviously had to go had to go. Slavery and white supremecy was finally appraching its apex and in less than 100 years it would forever be ended. At least in theory.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Manhunt is becoming a movie!

Simon, Fontana Planning Manhunt on HBO
Source: Variety September 16, 2008

"Homicide" collaborators David Simon and Tom Fontana are looking to reunite for an HBO miniseries about the 12-day search for John Wilkes Booth, reports Variety.

The project is an adaptation of James L. Swanson's book "Manhunt," which follows the search for Abraham Lincoln's assassin. The project is in early development, with HBO optioning the novel and Simon and Fontana set to write the screenplay.

Simon and Fontana would serve as executive producers, along with Lawrence Bender, Kevin Brown and Walden Media.

The story will focus on the perspectives of lesser-known historical figures that were connected to the assassination of Lincoln and the subsequent media frenzy and manhunt.


Great link at

At this site Chattanooga-area officials are working to lure tourists to lesser-known Civil War sites over the next few years as the region looks ahead to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which begins in 2011 and runs for four years.
Check it out. Great stuff.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lee, Jackson and Dr. King day???

Just an interesting article that I cut and pasted fro Wikepedia:

"Lee-Jackson-King Day was a holiday celebrated in the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1984 to 2000.

Robert E. Lee's birthday (January 19, 1807) has been celebrated as a Virginia holiday since 1889. In 1904, the legislature added the birthday of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson (January 21, 1824) to the holiday, and Lee-Jackson Day was born.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan approved an Act of Congress declaring January 15 to be a national holiday in honor of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Since 1978, Virginia had celebrated King's birthday in conjunction with New Year's Day. To align with the federal holiday, the Virginia legislature simply combined King's celebration with the existing Lee-Jackson holiday.

The incongruous nature of the holiday, which simultaneously celebrated the lives of Confederate generals and a civil rights icon, did not escape the notice of Virginia lawmakers. In 2000, Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore proposed splitting Lee-Jackson-King Day into two separate holidays, with Lee-Jackson Day to be celebrated the Friday before what would become Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The measure was approved and the two holidays are now celebrated separately."

I just found this fascinating.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Still waiting

I went to Barnes and Noble on Monroe Street in Toledo Ohio and found nothing. Their Civil War section is very limited and I was unable to find anything worth buying. I have a gift card for Barnes and Noble but I didn't want to waste it on a book that I am not interested in. Hopefully I can find something better at our other Barnes and Noble. As for the one on Monroe Street all I can say is please update your bookshelves. The selection there is really, really lacking.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I'm Back

After several months of planning a wedding and working at my new job I have been extremely busy. If you look at the number of blogs posted between July and October you will notice a lack thereof. But I'm back now and will work hard to get blogs posted ASAP.

Recently I have not read a Civil War book. I read two books on Ted Bundy and have recently been reading about Adolf Hitler because one of my courses focuses on World War II and I wanted to brush up on his life. However, today I am going to Barnes and Noble to find a book that I can read/review and hopefully enjoy. We will see what happens!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ike uncovers a possible Civil War wreck

Just a cut a paste from a interesting Yahoo News Article. The link is posted at the bottom.

When the waves from Hurricane Ike receded, they left behind a mystery — a ragged shipwreck that archeologists say could be a two-masted Civil War schooner that ran aground in 1862 or another ship from some 70 years later. The wreck, about six miles from Fort Morgan, had already been partially uncovered when Hurricane Camille cleared away sand in 1969.

Researchers at the time identified it as the Monticello, a battleship that partially burned when it crashed trying to get past the U.S. Navy and into Mobile Bay during the Civil War.

After examining photos of the wreck post-Ike, Museum of Mobile marine archaeologist Shea McLean agreed it is likely the Monticello, which ran aground in 1862 after sailing from Havana, according to Navy records.

"Based on what we know of ships lost in that area and what I've seen, the Monticello is by far the most likely candidate," McLean said. "You can never be 100 percent certain unless you find the bell with 'Monticello' on it, but this definitely fits."

Other clues indicate it could be an early 20th century schooner that ran aground on the Alabama coast in 1933.

The wrecked ship is 136.9 feet long and 25 feet wide, according to Mike Bailey, site curator at Fort Morgan, who examined it this week. The Monticello was listed in shipping records as 136 feet long, McLean told the Press-Register of Mobile.

But Bailey said a 2000 report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined the remains were the schooner Rachel, built at Moss Point, Miss., in 1919 and wrecked near Fort Morgan in 1933.

He said the wreckage appears to have components, such as steel cables, that would point to the Rachel rather than an 1860s schooner.

Glenn Forest, another archaeologist who examined the wreck, said a full identification would require an excavation.

"It's a valuable artifact," he said. "They need to get this thing inside before it falls apart or another storm comes along and sends it through those houses there like a bowling ball."

Meanwhile, curious beach-goers have been drawn to the remains of the wooden hull filled with rusted iron fittings. Fort Morgan was used by Confederate soldiers as Union forces attacked in 1864 during the Battle of Mobile Bay.

"It's interesting, I can tell you that," said Terri Williams. "I've lived down here most of my life and I've never seen anything like this, and it's been right here."


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Another Civil War vet murdered

On September 6, 1901 our 25th President and Civil War Vet was murdered in Buffalo, New York. The William McKinley assassination took place on September 6, 1901, at the Temple of Music, in Buffalo, New York. President William McKinley, attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, was shot twice by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist. McKinley initially appeared to be recovering from his wounds, but took a turn for the worse six days after the shooting and died on September 14, 1901. Theodore Roosevelt succeeded McKinley as President. McKinley was the third of four American presidents to be assassinated, following Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and James Garfield in 1881 and preceding John F. Kennedy in 1963. After McKinley's murder Congress would officially charge the United States Secret Service with the physical protection of American presidents.

Presonally, I grew up near Buffalo, New York in a small town called Youngstown. Yesterday was the 107th Anniversary of the McKinley assassination.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thank god I got one

When I was 8 years old my mother bought me the Golden Book of the Civil War at a local garage sale. I read the book from cover to cover and at that time I was really interested in the presidents, particularly Lincoln and she thought that the book would supplement that interest. Little did she know that it would grant me the lifelong love that I have for the American Civil War.

The book was written by Charles Flato and distributed by Golden Press Publications. Civil War author Bruce Catton wrote the books introduction and its colorful depectitions of battlefields is amazing. In just 216 pages the book sweeps its readers back to the Civil War time period but the best thing about this book is that it is made for young readers. When I was eight this book made the war come alive for me and since it was written during the centennial of the Civil War it is especially memorable. This book is written in style very similar to a textbook. I found it interesting, and it would be especially good for younger readers who are interested in learning more about the Civil War. One of the strengths of the book was the photos as well as many paintings and drawings that came from the period of the Civil War. These give the reader a picture of the scenes of war. Other helpful things found in the book are maps of battlefields with explanations of what took place and in what areas. The book might be a little old and outdated, but it is still very helpful in explaining more of that awful period of American history.

I love this book but the original copy that my mother bought me has been misplaced so I managed to acquire a copy from a online book seller. Thank god that I have a copy to give to my own son or daughter. I can only hope that they love the Civil War as much as their dad does. Thanks mom!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Robert E. Lee Timeline or Lifeline

Recently, I've wanted to create a Robert E. Lee timeline for fun. Yes I am such a history nerd but that is what makes me so cool.

Robert E. Lee Timeline

1807 January 9 Robert Edward Lee is born at 'Stratford', Westmoreland County, Virginia
1829 _______ Lee graduates from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
1831 May 7 Arrives at Fortress Monroe for duty.
1831 June 30 Robert Edward Lee and Mary Anne Custis marry.
1832 September 16 George Washington Custis Lee is born.
1835 July 22 Mary Lee is born.
1837 May 30 William Henry Fitzhugh Lee is born.
1839 June 18 Annie Carter Lee is born.
1841 February 27 Elanore Agnes Lee is born.
1843 October 27 Robert Edward Lee, Jr., is born.
1846 February 10 Mildred Childe Lee is born.
1852 September 1 Lee assumes his duties as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point.
1853 July 17 Lee is Confirmed into the Episcopal Church.
1859 October 17 Lee is ordered to the War Department in regards to John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. 1859
1859 October 18 Lee leads a command of United States Marines to capture John Brown and his cohorts at Harpers Ferry.
1860 February 9 Lee is ordered to San Antonio, Texas, to take command of the Department of Texas.
1861 April 20 Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army.
1861 May 14 Lee is appointed Brigadier General in the Confederate States Army.
1861 June 14 Lee attains the rank of General in the Confederate States Army.
1862 May 31 Joseph E. Johnston is wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines.
1863 July 1-3 Battle of Gettysburg. MORE
1865 April 2 Lee orders the Abandonment of Petersburg, Virginia.
1865 January 23 Lee is named General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States.
1866 February 17 Lee appeares before the Joint Committee on Reconstruction on Capitol Hill.
1870 October 12 Robert E. Lee dies in Lexington, Virginia
1975 July 22 Congress Passed a law restoring Lee's Citizenship.
1975 August 5 President Gerald Ford signs in to law the bill Congress passed restoring Lee's Citizenship to the United States.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Busy but I got a job

Hello everyone,

Sorry that I have not produced many blogs since June but I finally got my first real gig as a teacher and I have been busy preparing lessons and trying to envision my classroom. More blogs will be produced soon. I want to thank everyone who stood by me all these years including Megan, my parents, and the rest of my family & friends. Thank you.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Today and the future

The Battle of Wilson's Creek occured one this date in 1861. I do have to announce that I finally recieved a full-time teaching job so my lack of posts this summer will not drastically increase as the year goes on. However, expect more posts soon! I am in the process of getting the Golden Book of the Civil WAr and that was the first Civil WAr book that I ever got but I have been unable to find my original copy. I am purchasing a copy off of Ebay.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Great Gettysburg Photo

Originally uploaded by Green Destiny
A beautiful photo at Gettysburg that was taken by a tourist and posted on flickr. I liked it so much that I thought that I would share it with my readers. It is a great view of the sunset near the angle and I love the use of the statue and the cannon. A great view of the "High Tide of the Confederacy".

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fort Battery Wagner

Today, 145 years ago the 54th Massachusetts Regiment attacked an unattainable position at Fort Battery Wagner, South Carolina. The All-black regiment was led by a white colonel named Robert Gould Shaw. Colonel Shaw was killed, along with one-hundred and sixteen of his men. Another hundred and fifty-six were wounded or captured. The regiment's bravery and sacrifice destroyed any stereotypes that white soldiers had about black soldiers. A newspaper write wrote of the regiment "The Fifty-fourth did well and nobly. . . . They moved up as gallantly as any troops could, and with their enthusiasm they deserved a better fate." The 1989 film Glory tells the story of the 54th. After the battle the Confederates did not feel that the black troopers were worth a grain of salt. They unceremoniously buried in a mass grave and Shaw was buried in the burial pit with his soldiers. The poor burial choice reinforced the public's feelings towards the regiment. Black history would never be the same and the race was well on its way to recieve the American citizenship that they so much deserved.

A casualty list for the regiment can be found here:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Generals Graveyard: The Battle of Franklin

The Confederate charge at Franklin completely destroyed a Confederate army and became the final major Confederate assault of the war. The cost of the battle is best told by the official casualty numbers, 1,750 men were killed and another 3,800 were wounded. An estimated 2000 others suffered less serious wounds. But the biggest loss for the Confederacy was in its officer ranks which were decimated in the attack.

Fifteen Confederate generals (6 killed or mortally wounded, 8 wounded, and 1 captured) and 53 regimental commanders were casualties.

Divisional Commanders KIA

Major-General Patrick Cleburne

Brigade Commanders KIA

Brig. Gen. John Adams
Brig. Gen. Hiram B. Granbury
Brig. Gen. States Rights Gist
Brig. Gen. Otho F. Strahl

Brigade Commanders Mortally Wounded

Brig. Gen. John C. Carter

Brigade Commanders Wounded

Brig. Gen. Arthur M. Manigault
Brig. Gen. Thomas M. Scott
Brig. Gen. Francis M. Cockrell
Brig. Gen. William A. Quarles
Brig. Gen. Zachariah C. Deas
Brig. Gen. John C. Brown
Brig. Gen. Arthur M. Manigault
Brig. Gen. Ellison Capers

Brigade Commanders Captured

Brig. Gen. George W. Gordon

As Shelby Foote once put it "The flower of the army fell" at Franklin. That may be true but surely no other battle in Civil War history claimed more top commanders than the Battle of Franklin. The leadership of the Army of Tennessee had been shot away. Major General Benjamin F. Cheatham's Corp command suffered the highest number of high command casualties. Its casualty list included; Cleburne, Granbury, Brown, Gist, Carter, Strahl were killed or wounded. Gordon became the seventh officer lost when he was captured. Lt. General Alexander P. Stewart's corps suffered as well and four of its generals were killed or wounded (Adams, Scott, Cockrell & Quarles).

I hope that everybody is enjoying their summers!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Just a cut and paste

Many Blogs ago I wrote about General Albert Pike in my Fogotten Generals of the Civil War Series. On July 12, 1861 Pike was involved in a key treaty with several Native American Tribes. Today's blog is just a cut and paste from History but I think it is a great read.

Special commissioner Albert Pike completes treaties with the members of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Tribes, giving the new Confederate States of America several allies in Indian Territory. Some members of the tribes also fought for the Confederacy.

A Boston native, Pike went west in 1831 and traveled with fur trappers and traders. He settled in Arkansas and became a noted poet, author, and teacher. He bought a plantation and operated a newspaper, the Arkansas Advocate. By 1837 he was practicing law and often represented Native Americans in disputes with the federal government.

Pike was opposed to secession but nonetheless sided with his adopted state when it left the Union. As ambassador to the Indians, he was a fortunate addition to the Confederacy, which was seeking to form alliances with the tribes of Indian Territory. Besides the agreements with the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes, Pike also engineered treaties with the Creek, Seminole, Comanche, and Caddos, among others.

Ironically, many of these tribes had been expelled from the Southern states in the 1830s and 1840s but still chose to ally themselves with those states during the war. The grudges they held against the Confederate states were offset by their animosity toward the federal government. Native Americans were also bothered by Republican rhetoric during the 1860 election. Some of Abraham Lincoln's supporters, such as William Seward, argued that the land of the tribes in Indian Territory should be appropriated for distribution to white settlers. When the war began in 1861, Secretary of War Simon Cameron ordered all posts in Indian Territory abandoned to free up military resources for use against the Confederacy, leaving the area open to invasion by the Confederates.

By signing these treaties, the tribes severed their relationships with the federal government, much in the way the southern states did by seceding from the Union. They were accepted into the Confederates States of America, and they sent representatives to the Confederate Congress. The Confederate government promised to protect the Native American's land holdings and to fulfill the obligations such as annuity payments made by the federal government.

Some of these tribes even sent troops to serve in the Confederate army, and one Cherokee, Stand Watie, rose to the rank of brigadier general

Saturday, July 5, 2008

July 4th thoughts

Everybody celebrates the Declaration of Independence, shoots off fireworks and cooks hotdogs on Independence Day but I cannot help but think of other things. Yes I am biased but the twin victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg are rarely thought of as we bite into our ketchup covered hotdogs. Those victories were key to Union victory and set the stage for the end of the most destructive war on North American soil. It saddens me that this day is so focused on July 4, 1776 and we rarely recall the importance of July 4, 1863 when two towns, one in the north and one in the south had the war brought to their doorsteps and the country was saved on their farms. Yes I agree that we need to remember John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin but we also have to remember the heroes that saved the country that they founded and the men of blue and gray who fought over the ideals that they were unable to resolve. Colonel William C. Oates, Colonel Josh Chamberlian, Sam Watkins, Joseph E. Johnston, "Sam" Hood, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, U.S. Grant, William T. Sherman, George H. Thomas, Robert E. Lee, and the countless thousands met in mortal combat for four long years. To think that this day is only about 1776. July 4, 1863 is equally important and deserves its place in our collective memory.

I also added a new link. Check out for some really cool insight, artifacts and photos of Gettysburg.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Today the most famous retreat in American History began

Today, 145 years ago General Robert E. Lee issued these orders which began the long retreat back to Virginia. The Army of Northern Virginia had just been soundly defeated at Gettysburg and the demoralized southern forces picked up the wounded that they could and started for home.

General ORDERS, No. 74.

July 4, 1863.

I. The army will vacate its position this evening. General A. P. Hill's corps will commence the movement, withdrawing from its position after dark, and proceed on the Fairfield road to the pass in the mountains, which it will occupy, selecting the strongest ground for defense toward the east; General Longstreet's corps Will follow, and General Ewell's corps bring up the rear. These two latter corps will proceed through and go into camp. General Longstreet's corps will be charged with the escort of the prisoners, and will habitually occupy the center of the line of march. General Ewell's and General Hill's corps will alternately take the front and rear on the march.
II. The trains which accompany the army will habitually move between the leading and the rear corps, each under the charge of their respective chief quartermasters. Lieutenant-Colonel [James L.] Corley, chief quartermaster of the army, will regulate the order in which they shall move. Corps commanders will see that the officers remain with their trains, and that they move steadily and quietly, and that the animals are properly cared for.
III. The artillery of each corps will move under the charge of their respective chiefs of artillery, the whole under the general superintendence of the commander of the artillery of the army.
IV. General Stuart will designate a cavalry command, not exceeding two squadrons, to precede and follow the army in its line of march, the commander of the advance reporting to the commander of the leading corps, the commander of the rear to the commander of the rear corps. He will direct one or two brigades, as he may think proper, to proceed to Cash town this afternoon, and hold that place until the rear of the army has passed Fairfield, and occupy the gorge in the mountains; after crossing which, to proceed in the direction of Greencastle, guarding the right and rear of the army on its march to Hagerstown and Williamsport. General Stuart, with the rest of the cavalry, will this evening take the route to Emmitsburg, and proceed thence toward Cavetown and Boonsborough, guarding the left and rear of the army.
V. The commanding general earnestly exhorts each corps commander to see that every officer exerts the utmost vigilance, steadiness, and boldness during the whole march.

R. E. LEE,

Thursday, July 3, 2008

President Garfield was shot yesterday

Yesterday was the 127th Anniv. of the assassination of a Civil War veteran who was serving as our nation's president. James A. Garfield was murdered by Charles Guiteau as he was waiting for a train to take him to Williams College where he was scheduled to make a speech. Like Lincoln, President Garfield had not bodyguards and he was shot from behind at point blank range. One of the witnesses to the assassination was Robert Todd Lincoln who was the only surviving son of our beloved 16th President. Guiteau was apprehended and his purpose for murdering Garfield hinged on his belief that the Republican Party was divided over Garfields presidency and only his murder would solve the problem. President Garfield lingered for several months and died on September 19, 1881. Doctors had been unable to locate and remove the bullet that drove itself deep into his back and infection and other issues led to his demise. Ironcally, inventor Alexander Graham Bell probed the wound with a "metal detector" but the metal bed frame made the device useles. Nobody thought to try it again on different type of bedframe.

Most historians and medical experts now believe that Garfield probably would have survived his wound had the doctors attending him been more capable. Several inserted their unsterilized fingers into the wound to probe for the bullet, and one doctor punctured Garfield's liver in doing so. This alone would not have brought about death as the liver is one of the few organs in the human body that can regenerate itself. However, this physician probably introduced Streptococcus bacteria into the President's body and that caused blood poisoning for which at that time there were no antibiotics. Vice-President Chester A. Arthur who had hired a substitute to serve in his place during the Civil War replace Garfield as President. After a State Funeral, Garfield's body was taken to Cleveland where another short funeral was held. He is buried in Mentor, Ohio which is just east of Cleveland.

Guiteau's trial was a national sensation and he even tried to plead insanity so he could avoid the death penalty. He was so vain that he provided a New York newspaper writer with a autobiography and followed that with a personal ad for any lady under thirty years old! He even claimed that the doctors had killed Garfield by their poor medical techinques and that he was only guilty for shooting Garfield. Guiteau's insanity defense, his brash attitude and his unwilingness to take responsibilty for his crime led to his conviction and his death sentence. His only appeal was rejected and on June 30, 1882, Guiteau was hanged to death. Even before his death, Charles Guiteau continued his brash, vain, over confident style. He recited a poem as his "final words" and even requested that music be played during his "speech". The request for the strings was denied but below is Charles Guiteau's final words.

The Prisoner's Last Words
(June 30, 1882)
I am now going to read some verses which are intended to
indicate my feelings at the moment of leaving this world. If set to music they may be rendered very effective. The idea is that of a child babbling to his mamma and his papa. I wrote it this morning about ten o'clock:

I am going to the Lordy, I am so glad,
I am going to the Lordy, I am so glad,
I am going to the Lordy,
Glory hallelujah! Glory hallelujah!
I am going to the Lordy.
I love the Lordy with all my soul,
Glory hallelujah!
And that is the reason I am going to the Lord,
Glory hallelujah! Glory hallelujah!
I am going to the Lord.
I saved my party and my land,
Glory hallelujah!
But they have murdered me for it,
And that is the reason I am going to the Lordy,
Glory hallelujah! Glory hallelujah!
I am going to the Lordy!
I wonder what I will do when I get to the Lordy,
I guess that I will weep no more
When I get to the Lordy!
Glory hallelujah!
I wonder what I will see when I get to the Lordy,
I expect to see most glorious things,
Beyond all earthly conception
When I am with the Lordy!
Glory hallelujah! Glory hallelujah!
I am with the Lord.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Forgotten Battles of the Civil War: The Battle of Picacho Pass, Aug. 15, 1862

The Civil War was fought in over 10,000 places and it is nearly impossible for someone to remember every battle. The Battle of Picacho Pass in New Mexico Territory is one of the forgotten battles of the Civil War. Today my goal is to eductate my readers on this small battle.

In the spring of 1861 the Confederates claimed that the New Mexico Territory was theirs and support for the rebels by the small population supported their claim. The Federal government was anxious to prevent the claim and halt the spread of Confederate support. On August 15, 1862 a Union patrol commanded by Lieutenant James Barrett of the 1st California Cavalry, were conducting a sweep of the Picacho Pass area. They were searching for Confederates who were reported to be in the area. Barrett's offical orders were to find these rebels but not engage them until Union reinforcements arrived. Initally, Barrett and his men were met with success and they quickly rounded up three Confederate soldiers as prisoners. However, the Union troops failed to see that seven other Confederates were in the area and the men in butternut opened fire on the men in blue.

Union Lieutenant James Barrett waved his men forward against the remaining Confederate cavalry troopers, who laid down heavy fire, killing and wounding four more Union soldiers, including the impetuous young lieutenant. After withdrawing and regrouping, the Union cavalry continued trading shots with the Confederates until late afternoon, when they withdrew and slowly returned to the main body to the north.

The Confederates were commanded by Sherrod Hunter and the rebel success at Picacho Pass did not change the strategic realities of the situation. Hunters men retreated to Texas as the Northern ranks swelled in the area. The battle was itself a skirmish and pales in comparision to the battles at Vicksburg, Stones River, Shiloh, Gettysburg and Fredricksburg. In total just 26 men took part in the combat but it did mark the farthest west clash of arms in the Civil War, and the only site in the State of Arizona. The casualties of the fight, Lieutenant Barrett, Company A, 1st California Cavalry, shot in the neck, breaking his neck and dying instantly, Private George Johnson, Company A, 1st California, shot in the region of the heart, died within a few minutes, were killed on the site (referred to as the Battle Site) and their bodies were lying where they fell. Private William S. Leonard, (in Reports spelled Denerd) , Company D, 1st California Cavalry was mortally wounded, shot in the back, the ball passing upwards and exited his mouth. He died early the next morning. The wounded of Lieutenant Barrett's Detachment were as follows, Private William C. Tobin, Company D, 1st California Cavalry, was shot in the forehead, but the brasses of his hat deflected the bullet and left an ugly but not fatal wound, Corporal James Botsford, Co,pany A, wounded, and Private Peter Glenn, Company, were shot in the arm and shoulder, but either wounds were fatal. Reports does state which man was shot in the arm or the shoulder.

For modern photos of the battlefield and a good description go here

The offical park webpage is here:

Even more information and battle description are located here:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Interesting Gettysburg reference

Civil War reference is a wonderful web page and I found an interesting page and it lists all the officers that were killed during the battles at Gettysburg. Here is the list.


Lewis Addison Armistead Mortally Wounded
William Barksdale Mortally Wounded
Elon J. Farnsworth Killed in Action
Richard B. Garnett Killed in Action
William Dorsey Pender Mortally Wounded
John F. Reynolds Killed in Action
Paul J. Semmes Mortally Wounded
Strong Vincent Mortally Wounded
Stephen H. Weed Killed in Action

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Confederate Hero meets his end 144 years ago today

Today in Civil War history:

While inspecting his lines, Leonidas Polk is killed at Pine Mountain by an artillery blast ordered by William Tecumseh Sherman. Polk was scouting enemy positions with his staff when he was killed in action by a Federal 3" Hotchkiss shell at Pine Mountain. Although his record as a field commander was poor, Polk was immensely popular with his troops, and his death was deeply mourned in the Army of Tennessee

More information about Polk can be found at

One this date in 1863....145 years ago, Nathaniel Banks orders a ground assault against Port Hudson but fails to breach the walls.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Another Death

I cannot say that I am perfect but when I learned of the deaths of Shelby Foote and Brian Pohanka I was deeply saddened. I watched these men on Civil War shows and read their books and they helped me understand the Civil War, its battles and the men who fought it. If one askes me about the Lincoln Assassination I would point to historian James Hall as the expert. If you watch any documentary about the Lincoln Assassination or pick up a book about it then James Hall is somehow involved either as a citation or he is directly involved. In 2007, James Hall died at the age of 94.

Here is the infomation about his death:

By Washington Post | March 6, 2007

WASHINGTON -- James Hall, one of the most authoritative scholars on the Abraham Lincoln assassination, died Feb. 26 of aspiration pneumonia at his home in McLean, Va. He was 94.

Mr. Hall, with William A. Tidwell and David Winfred Gaddy, wrote "Come Retribution: The Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln," a 1988 book that detailed Confederate plans to kidnap and assassinate the president. The Washington Post's review of the book said its outline of Confederate intelligence activities and clandestine secret service operations was "by far the best such account in print."

Although he earned his living as director of the wage and hour division of government contracts in the Labor Department, Mr. Hall devoted his spare time and the years after retiring in 1972 to research the Lincoln assassination.

Mr. Hall helped train guides at the Surratt House Museum in Clinton, Md., and 30 years ago helped the museum set up its popular tours of the route that John Wilkes Booth took after shooting Lincoln. The museum named its research center for Mr. Hall.

In 2001, Mr. Hall was the keynote speaker at the National Park Service's Lincoln symposium at Ford's Theatre. He was still researching the subject at almost age 90.

Called the specialist's specialist on the Lincoln assassination, he knew more about it "than anyone who ever lived, except those personally involved in it," Ford's Theatre historian William Hanchett once said

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth...again

Recently I cam across John Wilkes Booth: Fact and Fiction of Lincoln's Assassination & The Hidden Lincoln: From the Letters and Papers of William H. Herndon. The Booth book is extremly rare and I am really looking forward to reading it. It was published in 1929 and is still the definitive biography of JW Booth. Author Francis Wilson even addresses the idea that Booth escaped from the barn and lived out a life under a few assumed names. The biggest disappointment is that Wilson provides no footnotes, endnotes or citations for this work. Back in the day historical authors were not required to do this but with the limited amount of Booth information available to him, it will be easy to track down his sources. I am sure that Asia Clarke Booth's biography of her brother was a key source.

The William Herndon book is cited in nearly every biography that has ever been written about Abraham Lincoln. Herndon was a close friend who despises Mary Lincoln and did a great job of painting Lincoln as the greatest president that our country has ever seen. I don't disagree with him on this but the book itself really provides a lot of insight about Lincoln's character and virtues. It is made up of letters that Herndon wrote to people about Lincoln from 1865-the late 1890's. One of the more intesting things that I have found in the book was the poem that Lincoln wrote about his childhood. It is interesting to note that it was in the possession of Robert Lincoln and his wife for several years and was not revealed to the general public until long after Booth's bullet rang out in Fords Theatre.

I cannot wait to dive into these books this summer!

More posts are on the way. I am sorry that I have been so distracted lately.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lewis Paine's strange journey

It seems like forever since I posted last and I want to say that I am very sorry for not putting up posts recently. I have been very busy and I have been working over 60hours a week so I get very tired. I recently read another Edward Steer's Jr. book called The Escape and Capture of John Wilkes Booth. I just cannot seem to beat the Lincoln Assassination kick that I am on.

After Lewis Paine was hanged for taking part in the Lincoln Assassination and attempting to murder William H. Seward, his remains had some unique movements. In 1993 Betty Ownsebey wrote a biography of Paine and after reading that book I saw that there was more to Paine then meets the eye. Originally, Powell's body was buried in Georgetown but was later moved to another cemetery in Washington D.C. In 1871 his family made the long journey from Paine's home state of Florida to reclaim his body. They were buried on the family farm until 1879. Eventually, Powell's body was dug up and buried next to his mothers corpse in Geneva, Florida. It was at this point that someone opened his casket and noticed that the body was headless. Apparently the undertake had removed his head and it became part of the Army Medical Museum which was ironically housed in Ford's Theatre. Later research revealed that the skull was given to the Smithsonian Anthropology in 1898 and there it remained until it was rediscovered in 1992. When Smithsonian workers uncovered the skull they noticed a small piece of paper which was with the skull that read "cranium of Payne hung (sic) in Washington, D.C. in 1865 for the attempted assassination of Secretary of State William H. Seward."

After nearly 100 years the skull was given to Paine's descendants in Florida. Lewis Paine's body was dug up once again and the skull was buried with the body. Author Michael Kaufman, who later wrote American Brutus, helped lower the coffin into the grave.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I've seen it all now

I found a interesting picture while searching online. Look at the picture below and it just doesn't work does it. I mean Hitler, Washington and Lincoln in the same picture. It makes no sense. When I first saw it I had to take several double takes to make sure that I was seeing what I was seeing. Check it out.....Werid isn't it! This would never work and the greatness of Washington and Lincoln would never spend 1second with Hitler. In fact I wish that Washington was choking Hitler that would work better. George and Abe were not cowards.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Forgotten Generals of the Civil War: Union General Alexander Hays

Alexander Hays was born just north of present day Pittsburg on July 8, 1919. After receiving a decent education within his native state, Hays got an appointment to West Point and attended the military academy with a young man from Ohio named U.S. Grant. Never a scholar, Hays graduated 20th out of 25 students in the Academy’s class of 1844. The two remained friends for the rest of their lives.

Like so many future Civil War officers, Hays distinguished himself during the Mexican War. He resigned from the army in 1848 and attempted to make a living in the iron trade. After his business failed, Hays journeyed to California and took part in the gold rush but he failed to strike it rich and returned to Pittsburgh to act as one of the cities bridge builders. Hays was commissioned as a colonel of the 63rd Pennsylvania Volunteers and he led his men with distinction during the Battle of Seven Pines in 1862. During the Seven Days campaign he was wounded while he leading a bayonet charge at Glendale. The attack was meant to cover a Union withdrawal and Hays was forced out of action with a partially paralyzed left arm.

After taking a month off to recover Hays returned to his men and received another wound during the Second Battle of Bull Run. As his shattered leg was recovering he received word that he had been promoted to brigadier general. His new command was the third division in the Second Corps and Hays took command just two days prior to the Battle of Gettysburg. Although he was inexperienced at the brigade level, Hays knew that he had to do a good job during his first battle as a divisional commander. His timing couldn’t have come at a worse time because the Army of Northern Virginia had beaten back Union troops at Gettysburg on July 1. After a July 2 stalemate the third division lay in waiting along Cemetery Ridge just as Confederate General Robert E. Lee was planning to attack the same region. The Confederates preceded their attack with a gigantic artillery barrage and Hays men prepared four rifles each for the coming assault. General Hays moved up and down the line without flinching at the shells. He encouraged his men and instructed them to wait until the Confederates reached a fence line that lay just 200 yards away. As the rebels struggled with removing the fence Hays shouted “fire!” and the Union muskets erupted. Hays later wrote in his report that “before the smoke of our first volley had cleared away, the enemy, in dismay and consternation, were seeking safety in flight. Every attempt by their officers to rally them was vain. In less time than I can recount it, they were throwing away their arms and appealing most piteously for mercy. The angel of death alone can produce such a field as was presented.”

The attack was later known as “Picketts Charge” and it was easily beaten back by Union troops. After the assault ended, Hays jumped on his horse, grabbed a captured rebel flag and dragged it in the dirt behind him. Union General Winfield Scott Hancock praised Hays conduct as “all that could be desired in a division commander”.

After the battle, Hays continued to lead the division during fall campaigning but during the March 1864 reorganization of the army he was reduced back to a brigade command. On May 5, 1864, the first day of the Battle of the Wilderness, Hays was killed by a bullet through his head. Today, Hays is remembered by his statue at Gettysburg, a marker identifying the site of his death at the Wilderness and his gravesite. All three areas are accessible to visitors who may be surprised to find out that Hays belongs with the best of all Union heroes. Perhaps Hancock said it best when he wrote of Hays "Brig. Gen. Alexander Hays, that dauntless soldier, whose intrepid and chivalric bearing on so many battle-fields had won for him the highest renown, was killed at the head of his brigade".

The Hays monument at the Wilderness:

Hays Gettysburg report:

General Alexander Hays monument at Gettysburg

His gravesite

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lincoln poem

Abraham Lincoln was a talented poetry writer. After living outside of Kentucky for over twenty years, Lincoln made a trip to his birthplace, it would be his final visitation to his true home. Later, Lincoln wrote a poem which described his reaction to the fields that made up his earliest childhood memories. Here is the first stanza from that poem. It is very powerful.

My Childhood Home I See Again

My childhood's home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There's pleasure in it too.

O Memory! thou midway world
'Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,

And, freed from all that's earthly vile,
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle
All bathed in liquid light.

As dusky mountains please the eye
When twilight chases day;
As bugle-tones that, passing by,
In distance die away;

As leaving some grand waterfall,
We, lingering, list its roar--
So memory will hallow all
We've known, but know no more.

Near twenty years have passed away
Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
And playmates loved so well.

Where many were, but few remain
Of old familiar things;
But seeing them, to mind again
The lost and absent brings.

The friends I left that parting day,
How changed, as time has sped!
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,
And half of all are dead.

I hear the loved survivors tell
How nought from death could save,
Till every sound appears a knell,
And every spot a grave.

I range the fields with pensive tread,
And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)
I'm living in the tombs.