Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Random thought on Jeff Davis

I have just finished watching a 1990's episode of Civil War Journal which chronicled the life of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. During the documentary the authors detail not only his life but his failures as the sole Confederate president. One of the more interesting quotes was made by historian Gary Gallagher who stated "Its that contrast between Lincoln's tremendous abilities and Davis absence of those abilties that has made many people critatize Davis even more than they might have. Its unfair in many ways to critize Davis because he wasn't Abraham Lincoln. Nobody else has been Abraham Lincoln either and it isn't right to hang Davis on that charge." A interesting thought on comparing Davis and Lincoln.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. This break I am looking forward to writing and producing my future title for the Civil War. My New Years resolution is to finish it by the end of the year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Williams - The Last Casualty

I always remember this one from Ken Burn's Civil War. Moreover, the Civil War Preservation Trust published a short article about Williams in their Hallowed Ground magazine.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Various casuality reports for Lee's Army at Gettysburg

Various casualty reports for Lee's Army at Gettysburg

Confederate reports for its losses at Gettysburg have always been questioned by historians. Many units underreported their losses or did not report as many losses as they obviously suffered. Determining the casualty lists for either side during the war is very difficult. But looking at Busey and Martin's book on the subject sheds some light on things. Growing up I always thought that Lee lost 28,000-30,000 men at Gettysburg but was that the case??

Lafayette Guild. Medicial Director of the Army of Northern Virginia reported 14,278 casualties in 1889.

Also in 1889 the War Department published 20,451 casualties at Gettysburg.

Details: 2592 killed, 12,709 wounded, 5,150 captured or missing

William F. Fox and his infamous study on the wars casualties reported Lee's losses at 20, 448

Details: 2592 killed, 12, 706 wounded 5,150 missing, he also noted a few thousand captured

The official reports of Lee's Corps commanders (Ewell, Longstreet, Hill and Stuart) reported 22,968 casualties.

Details: 2,701 killed, 12,739 wounded, 7,528 missing.

Historian Thomas L. Livermore calculated the Confederate casualties to be 28,063 which is the number that I most remember.

Details: 3,903 killed, 18,735 wounded and 7,528 missing, Livermore felt that the Confederate Corps commanders underreported their losses.

HIstorian Robert Krick estimated a loss of 22,915 men for Lee and his beloved army.

Details: 4,649 killed, 12,420 wounded and 5,830 missing

Busey and Martin whose book I am using for this post reported that Lee lost 23,231

Details: 4,708 killed, 12,693 wounded and 5,830 missing


Busey, John W. Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg. New York: Longstreet House, 2005.

The Numbers Game

I have been going over the casuality lists for several Civil War battles with Gettysburg being one of the battles that I am examining closely. I cannot believe the sacrifice of the 26th North Carolina. I have read so many Gettysburg books that discuss the sacrifice of the 26th along with scores of regiments both North and South but this regiment is so interesting.

During the three days at Gettysburg the 26th North Carolina went into the battle with 839 men. 687 of them were killed, wounded, or missing/captured. 172 were killed, an astonishing 443 were wounded & 72 were missing/captured. The regiment faced an overall loss of 81.9 percent! Granted, most Confederate casualities were unrecorded, overestimeted or underestimated but the truth is that I cannot imagine the loss of that many man. As Shelby Foote once said that whole towns saw their entire male population of military age died as a result of that brutual war. It was just madness.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

John Buford

Here is a interesting biography of General John Buford

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lincoln site

The official launch of the National Park Service's Lincoln Memorial Interactive site in honor of the 146th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address is now up. Whether you love visiting the Memorial in person or are hoping to get there soon, this stunning site will bring you even closer to this beloved landmark.

To see the site, visit

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The faces of RE Lee

I have to plead ignorance here. I never fully realized that photography in the 1860's was still in its infancy and it was very difficult for photographs of famous leaders to spread around the country. Robert E. Lee falls into this category. For almost the entire war his true likeness remained unknown to many Union officers who face him. I highly suggest that you check out this short 8 minute video which focuses on Lee's image during the Civil War.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Book Review #13 The Complete Gettysburg Battlefield Guide

Since those warm days in 1863 the Battle of Gettysburg has had the ultimate distinction of having more books published about it than any other military campaign in American history. After the guns fell silent the men and women who partcipated in the battle published first-hand accounts which were ultimately followed by more secondary sources than most people can count. The battle has been disceted by authors for years and the publishing world has produced books solely based on the action on specific parts of the battlfield. For example, some authors have focused on the action on Little Round Top or the Wheatfield or the unfinished railroad cut or Pickett's Charge. The battle has also seen the publication of several tour guide books over the years which provide visitors with the opportunity to use them during their trips to the site. One would think that with so many books published on the subject that nobody could come up with anything unique but noted Gettysburg historian J. David Petruzzi & Civil War cartographer Steven Stanley have produced a book whose ownership is required by anyone interested in Gettysburg or the Civil War.

The book itself comes in hardcover and has an excellent dust jacket which depicts General Warren's statue on Little Round Top. The book is sturdy and purchasers will be happy to see that every page is on thick, glossy paper which should allow the user to use it on the battlefield. Also, the book is in full color and that makes both the locations and the information come alive for the reader. The book would not have the impact that it does if it was in black and white. This book is unbelieveable!

The book is the result of a perfect partnership between authors JD Petruzzi and Steve Stanley. The latter is a cartographer who creates maps for The Civil War Presevervation Trust. His maps are colorful, easy to read but very detailed. In all the book contains 70 maps and dozens of photos by Stanley which supplement Petruzzi's easy to read and detailed text. In fact, this book is not only a must for Gettysburg lovers but because the text is not overly detailed makes this a book that is easy to use on the battlefield or read on your armchair.

The contents of the book make the purchasing price seem ambigious. This book is worth every dollar that you will spend on it. First, it contains excellent introductions by Petruzzi, Stanley and Gettysburg Battlefield Guide Eric Campbell. Campbell also appears in Civil War Tours as a audio tourguide. Wisely the authors have a short section entitled "Helpful Hints for using the Guide" which briefly explains how the reader should use the book and encouragers vistors to the Gettysburg battlefield to get out of their cars and walk the grounds. You can easily tell that both Stanley and Petruzzi love this campaign, the fields on which it was fought and are passionate about educating people about the battle.

Another wise thing that Petruzzi did a nice 8 page overview of the entire Gettysburg campaign. This is a wonderful addition because newcomers to the battle will find it very interesting and it allows them to quickly educate themselves on the situation that both Meade/Hooker and Robert E. Lee faced from the day the campaign started to the last rebel crossed the Potomac River. Also, this overview is written so well that Gettysburg experts will find it a worthy read.

The bulk of the book contains 11 seperate tours of the Gettysburg battlefield and other surrounding areas. The first tour takes the readers to the site of a little known and overlooked skirmish between Confederate cavarly and the 26th Pennsylvania Milita. Chapter 2-3 take the readers through the key stops on July 1-3 1863. Like all the tour chapters, each stop on the tour is detailed and almost always a photograph is included. Stanley's excellent maps and photos support Petruzzi's writings and both keep the readers interest. The next three tours deal with the caverly action around the Gettysburg battlefield which includes the sometimes overlooked East Caverly Battlefield, Hunterstown and Fairfield.

The seventh tour in the book takes the readers to the imporant sites in the town of Gettysburg area. These historical sites include but are not excluded to the town square, the Gettysburg rail station, Thaddeus Stevens' office, the imfamous "Jennie" Wade House and the Harvey S. Sweney House which is now known as the Farnsworth House. In all the town tour has 22 stops and all are detailed by Petruzzi.

The next two tours bring the readers into two cemetarys. The first is a tour of the Soldiers' National Cemetery and the second is a tour of the lesser visited Evergreen Cemetery. Some of the fascinating graves that the authors discuss are the graves of James Gettys (founder of Gettysburg) and the Gettysburg Civil War Women's Memorial. Another interesting stop is the gravesite of Gettysburg resident Edward Stewart Plan who is a member of the Professional Baseball Hall of Fame. In all the Evergreen Tour is 37 exciting stops. Petruzzi also points out the actual location of the Speakers' Platform that was used for the Gettysburg Address. Of course the graves of "Jennie" Wade, Jack Skully and John Burns are also included.

A truely intriguing addition to the book is 21 stop tour of the battlefield's rock carvings. According to Petruzzi he included this section to catch the interest of vistors who tend to focus on the main parts of the battlfield and "often miss" the "out-of-the way locations. Many soldiers carved their names on the battlfield to point out the fact that they were there and in several cases the reader will have to leave their car to explore them. I cannot think of any other publication taht includes a review of these sites. One of the more interesting carvings to me is a 1889 carving by a member of the 143rd Pennsylvania on McPherson's Barn. For each carving Petruzzi includes the offical location, easy to follow directions and never before published photographs of each.

The owner of this book will have a series of excellently written tours. It will stand up to repeated use and it will be the final say on Gettysburg Tour books for years to come. If you own other Gettysburg Tour books you may want to toss them out because the Complete Gettysburg Guide is all you will ever need! Any Gettysburg enthusiast will be happy with this book. Although one could be a nitpicker and point out things that should have been included I highly doubt that you will ever find anything better. If you are interested in learning about Gettysburg then you must purchase this book.


The books webpage is located at:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Finally got it!

This week I finally got my copy of JD Petruzzi's "The Complete Gettysburg Guide" which I have been waiting anxiously for. I recently joined the Civil War Preservation Trust and with my 100 dollar donation I got Petruzzi's book, a jacket (which still hasn't come yet), a tax break (Thank you Obama), and a yearly subscription to the preservation society. I am so excited and a book review on the guide is in the works! Stay Tuned!

Gettysburg "kick" Continues

My July 09 trip to Gettysburg is still impacting my reading. I have just finished the 1958 biography of Major General John F. Reynolds who was killed at Gettysburg and the new "Fog of Gettysburg" which was an interesting read. I'm trying to quit but now I am reading Jeffery Wert's book on the third day at Gettysburg and after that I will read JD Petruzzi's book "The Complete Gettysburg Guide". After that I will stop...I promise.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Little Round Top

I sat there alone on the storied crest, till the sun went down as it did before the misty hills, and the darkness crept up the slopes, till from all earthly sight I was buried as with those before. But oh, what radiant companionship was election around, what steadfast ranks of power, what bearing of heroic souls. Oh, the glory that beamed through those nights and days. Nobody will ever know it here!- I am sorry most of all for that.” May 1913

Gettysburg Super with too much time on his hands

The leader of one of this nation's most important national parks is too busy doing other things but his job

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gettysburg meets Vietnam

GETTYSBURG, ADAMS COUNTY - The moving Vietnam War Memorial Wall makes it's second last stop as part of a year long tour through the United States. The wall commonly known as the "Wall that Heals" has been traveling since 1996, and today made a stop at Gettysburg College. The wall lists 58,261 names of people who died in Vietnam, and now people in charge of the the wall said they are looking for photos of sericemen and women to add to the wall.

"The best part for us in in having the veterans come out and have that time to heal the wounds they received during the war," said the program manager of the wall, Dan Schenk.

The wall is now on it's way to Wisconsin, where it will end it's journey for the time being.

Source: Copyright © 2009, WPMT-TV

Friday, September 25, 2009

Born in 1821 George Nixon would not achieve the level of importance that his great-grandson would as the 37th President of the United States. He served during the Civil War as a Private in Company B, 73rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. During the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 2, 1863), he was wounded in the right hip and side during skimishing with the Confederates, and lay in the no-man's land between the Union position on Cemetery Hill and the Rebel's hold on the town. At night his cries of pain were such that it inspired Musician Richard Enderlin to crawl out during the constant firing between the two forces, drag Private Nixon back most of the way, then stand up with the wounded man in tow and dash the final distance to safty. This act won Richard Enderlin a instant promotion to Sergeant, and a Medal of Honor 34 years later. Despite his rescue, Private Nixon's wounds proved to be mortal, and he died in the XI Corps Hospital seven days later. His great-grandson, Richard Millhouse Nixon, would become a president and serve eight years as the nations vice-president. During the Presidential election of 1960 Nixon would also lose one of the most famous elections in American History to John F. Kennedy.

Currently, Nixon's remains lie in the National Soldiers Cemetery at Gettysburg. According to the NPS website Richard Nixon visited his great-grandfathers grave during his tenure as vice-president.


Fascinating fact

I was born and raised in New York but live in Ohio. Recently I cam across some numbers that stated that Ohio had over 4,400 men serving at Gettysburg. Only Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts had more men on the battlefield. Ohio had men serving in the 2nd, 5th, 11th and 12th Corps, along with the artillery and cavalry corps.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Did the Civil War start in CA

Interesting article from Yahoo.

Senator's death in duel prefaced Civil War carnage
By FREDERIC J. FROMMER, Associated Press Writer Frederic J. Frommer, Associated Press Writer
Sat Sep 12, 10:32 am ET

WASHINGTON – Nearly two years before the first shots were fired in the Civil War, simmering hostilities over slavery erupted on a "field of honor" in California, where a pro-slavery judge mortally wounded an anti-slavery senator in a duel.

The duel showed how political disagreements over slavery had become increasingly violent, culminating in 1861 when the war broke out.

On Sept. 13, 1859 — 150 years ago Sunday — Sen. David Broderick, D-Calif., and Chief Justice David Terry of the California Supreme Court faced off at 10 paces near the San Francisco-San Mateo County line at Lake Merced. Broderick fired first, but his hair-trigger pistol went off prematurely and the bullet landed in the ground. Terry then fired a bullet into Broderick's chest; Broderick, 39, died a few days later from the wound.

"They have killed me because I was opposed to slavery and a corrupt administration," Broderick said from his deathbed.

The Senate's historian, Don Ritchie, said that as Northerners and Southerners settled in California, the tensions over slavery spilled over into the free state.

Terry was from Kentucky; Broderick was born in Washington, D.C., but his family later moved to New York City. He went to California for the gold rush and wound up making it rich in real estate.

Although the Republican Party had emerged as the national abolitionist political movement, the California Democratic Party had an anti-slavery wing, with Broderick as its chief. This enraged Terry, a pro-slavery Democrat. He leveled a personal attack on Broderick at a political convention, a few months before the fateful duel, that eventually led to their fateful encounter.

Terry charged that the anti-slavery Democrats "have no distinction they are entitled to; they are the followers of one man, the personal chattels of a single individual, whom they are ashamed of. They belong, heart and soul, body and breeches, to David C. Broderick."

Terry mocked them for claiming the support of Sen. Stephen Douglas, an Illinois Democrat who tried to straddle a middle ground on slavery and went on to lose the presidential race to Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

"Perhaps they do sail under the flag of Douglas, but it is the banner of the black Douglass, whose name is Frederick, not Stephen," Terry said to cheers at the convention. Frederick Douglass was a former slave and abolitionist, and invoking his name was meant as a slur, historian Ritchie said.

The next day, Broderick told friends at a San Francisco hotel that he once considered Terry "the only honest man on the Supreme bench, but I take it all back."

This led to a series of notes between the two men, starting with a demand from Terry for a retraction and ending with a challenge from the judge for "satisfaction usual among gentleman." That meant a duel, which Broderick accepted.

California was a "a wide-open world where newspapers carried announcements of upcoming duels as if they were street fairs," wrote Barbara Holland in her 2003 book, "Gentlemen's Blood: A History of Dueling."

Broderick and Terry, who had resigned from the state court, met early in the morning on Sept. 12, but were arrested and brought before a judge in San Francisco. The judge released the men, ruling that while dueling was illegal, an attempt to duel was not, according to David Williams' 1969 book, "David C. Broderick: A Political Portrait." Williams wrote that several of Broderick's friends were disappointed in the ruling.

The next morning, the two men met around 7, drew lots for the pistols and then threw off their overcoats as dozens of people watched.

"Mr. Broderick seemed a little nervous, and as he received his pistol, gripped it with a convulsive grip," reported the San Francisco Bulletin, adding that the senator's nervousness "was the result not of fear, but of intense resolution, or, perhaps, deadly hate. Judge Terry, meanwhile, stood erect, without a wink or a motion, like a man accustomed to such a position."

After Broderick misfired, Terry shot back and shouted, "The shot is not mortal; I have struck two inches to the right." Broderick lowered himself, and then keeled over. He was taken by wagon to a friend's home, and died three days later, on Sept. 16.

"The sad intelligence was immediately conveyed to the city, and produced a deep and settled gloom on the community," reported the San Francisco Herald. Thousands of people came to his funeral. He was the only senator to have died in a duel.

Terry was tried for murder but quickly acquitted.

"Very few duelers were ever convicted of murder," said Charles Fracchia, founder and president emeritus of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society.

Terry left politics and joined the Confederate Army. In 1889, after striking Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field, who once served with Terry on the California Supreme Court, Terry was shot and killed by Field's bodyguard.

Williams wrote that although Broderick had a history of not backing down from a fight, he had tried to avoid the duel with Terry. But had he refused the challenge, he would have been seen as cowardly.

"At the time, dueling was illegal but was tolerated by a large segment of the public, which accepted it as a part of the world of politics," the biographer wrote.

But others were horrified by the practice. On the day of the duel, the San Francisco Bulletin editorialized: "We cannot refrain from indulging, once more, in some expressions of sorrow and disgust at the barbarous practice of dueling which still seems to be tolerated among us."

Dueling, which had been mostly a southern tradition as a way to defend a man's honor, pretty much died out in this country after the Civil War.

"There was enough bloodshed," Ritchie said.


On the Net:

San Francisco Museum and Historical Society:

Museum of the City of San Francisco:

Senate Historical Office:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Underratted Gettysburg book gets its just due

July 2 and July 3 1863 seem to get their just due in several books which means that July 1st often gets overlooked. Historian Harry Pfanz has written an excellent book that focuses on the first day of the battle but its recent publication overshadows David G. Martin's 1995 publication Gettysburg July 1. Although Pranz does an excellent job (he always does) Martin's book details the battle on July 1st in greater detail and provides even more insight on the combat. A review on accurately describes the book as "Martin's Gettysburg, July 1 is now the standard source for the first day's fight." -- Civil War Regiments.

Perhaps the best thing about this book is the way that Martin is able to cover the micro and macro parts of this epic contest that began early on July 1st. Amongst its 736 pages are three extra chapters which provide the reader with the usual Order of Battle and two other interesting additions. Appendex 2 is an outstanding account of the topography of the first day's battlefield and of the road network surrounding Gettysburg. The third appendex is a brief but good overview of the weather leading up to and during the battle. Both Appendex 2 and 3 are a must for any Gettysburg buff.

The maps of this book are unique. Most Gettysburg books use the same maps but Marting goes a step further. The maps are of two kinds: a "situation" map showing the position of the troops at a given point in time and an "action" map focusing on an incident of the battle. Perhaps the biggest reason that so many authors have avoided writing a book that just focuses on day one was the fateful decision of Richard Ewell to avoid any further entaglements with the Federals after they had been repulsed to Cemetery Hill/Culps Hill. I don't want to reveal everything that Martin talks about but his analysis/opinions shift the blame off Ewell's shoulders. I won't say where he places it but I am sure that you can take a guess. I highly suggest that you read this book for yourself and make your own descision. Again it isn't as recent as Pfanz's book but is superior to that work in so many ways. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee
Originally uploaded by doxadigital
My next goal is to see Richmond and R.E. Lee

Monday, August 31, 2009

New Gettysburg museum has an interesting artifiact

In Gettysburg a recently opened museum called the "Gettysburg Museum of History" opened recently and hosts over 4,000 arifacts. One of the interesting items is a pair of bullets that met in mid-air and merged. (see picture). The museum is free and opened just three weeks ago and one week after I visited the area in late July 2009. The currator of the museum has ancestors who farmed much of the area where Pickett's Charge took place and as he dug up things during his work he kept them and past them down to his decedents.

According to an 1887 newspaper account that Dorr (the museum manager) located, Pfeffer discovered a burial trench with the bodies of seven Confederate soldiers located near what is now the 12th New Jersey monument. Dorr said his great-great grandfather kept buttons and other momentos from the bodies, then re-buried the bones.

"As far as I know, they're still there," he said.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday

Location: 219 Baltimore St., Gettysburg

I have to say that I am very disappointed that this didn't exist during my visit to Gettysburg. I guess that it is another reason to go back.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Little Round Top from the 11th US Monument

What a view of Little Round Top.

Check this out.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Just sharing a nice link about Wilson's Creek

Just sharing a great link concerning the battle of Wilsons Creek which was the second major battle of the war and the first major battle in the western theatre.

A while back I mentioned Wilson's Creek in my Forgotten Generals of the Civil War series. Check out John Schofield.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book Review #12 "The Myth of Little Round Top" by Garry E. Adelman

Since my Gettysburg trip is still in the recent past I figured that my next book review should focus on a Gettysburg book. Remember reading your history and learning that if the Confederate army had succeeded in carrying Little Round Top then they would have won the battle? Author Garry E. Adelman states that this version of history is false and he wrote a 100 page book to discuss his views and thesis.

If i revealed Alderman's viewpoints then it would ruin the book for you so instead I will focus on what you get with the book which is modestly prices at $12.95. Adelman incudes three appendix which will be my focal point here. The first appendix is the sterotypical Order of Battle for both sides during the battle. That is usually in every Gettysburg book so I will not speak anymore of it. The second appendix includes the casuality list for those regiments who were engaged at Little Round Top on July 2, 1863. Incuded are the number engaged, killed, wounded, missing, totals, and % Lost.

The third appendix is awesome. Standing alone the third appendix is worth the purchase if you are interested in this part of the battle. In this appendix, Alderman lists the major primary and secondary sources in what he calls a "historiography of Little Round Top". This includes a chart of one hundred or so sources written about the struggle for that rocky hill to show how the views of Little Round Top has changed over the years. The list is chronologically through time, by type of source the manner of importance placed upon Little Round Top by the author. You can see how each source explains the importance of Little Round Top. Its great stuff and should you get the opportunity to purchase this book it is highly recommended.

As a final note, his reasoning for the myth is broken in chapter one with a history of fight for Little Round Top, the second chapter explores the Legend of Little Round Top and how it grew ove the course of the latter part of the 1800's and the early 1900's. The final chapter deals with the military analysis of Little Round Top and what would or could have happened if the Confederates had taken that hill. the answer to that question might surprise you. If you get a chance purchase Garry E. Adelman's "The Myth of Little Round Top".

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Friend to a Friend Monument

Back when I visited Gettysburg in 1986 and 1989 the "Friend to a Friend" monument was not yet built. I was really happy to see it during our 2009 trip to Gettysburg. I thought I'd share this pic with everybody because it is a great view of this monument.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Little Round Top after 20 years

Its been 20 years since I walked the hill of Little Round Top. I know that historians today have researched the fact that the drama that unfolded on that rocky hill in July of 1863 is overrated and overshadows the situation that occurred further north at the Peach Orchard, The Wheatfield, Devils Den and the lower part of Cemetery Ridge. But as I have written in earlier blogs (Blog 1 & Blog 2) I love Little Round Top. I still believe that it was the most important part of the Gettysburg battlefield regardless of its importance being overrated.

Another cool thing about the trip was that I brought my 11 year old nephew to the battlefield. The first time that I went to Gettysburg was in 1986 and I was only slightly younger than my nephew is and it was exciting to show him to the battlefield. I already want to go back to Gettysburg.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gettyburg 2009

As you may know I travelled to Gettysburg last week and enjoyed the town and the battlefield. Pics and a blog about it will be coming soon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gettysburg 2009

With my trip to Gettysburg drawing near I found this great site on General George Pickett. Since his charge was so important to the outcome of the battle please check it out.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The First Virginia Brigade

The great Stonewall Jackson says goodbye to the "Stonewall Brigade" in the film "Gods and Generals".

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I just learned about a new Gettysburg book

I just learned about a new Gettysburg book that was written by a person from Western New York. As you may know I was born in Niagara Falls, New York and since I am from that area I love finding materials from writers who hail from the Buffalo/Niagara Falls area. The authors name is James A. Hessler and his book is on an amazing topic that historians have debated for decades.

General Dan Sickles is one of the most colorful and controvisial figures in Civil War history and may be one of the most conttrovisial figures in American History. He was a man who murdered his wifes lover in cold blood and got away with it. He disobayed orders at Gettysburg, abondonded Little Round Top and marched his men into areas still remembered for the ferocity of the fighing that happened there; the Wheatfield, Devils Den, The Slaughter Pen, the Peach Orchard, the Valley of Death.

Here is a copied portion from the publishers webpage:

Sickles at Gettysburg: The Controversial Civil War General Who Committed Murder, Abandoned Little Round Top, and Declared Himself the Hero of Gettysburg, by licensed battlefield guide James Hessler, is the most deeply-researched, full-length biography to appear on this remarkable American icon. And it is long overdue.

No individual who fought at Gettysburg was more controversial, both personally and professionally, than Major General Daniel E. Sickles. By 1863, Sickles was notorious as a disgraced former Congressman who murdered his wife's lover on the streets of Washington and used America's first temporary insanity defense to escape justice. With his political career in ruins, Sickles used his connections with President Lincoln to obtain a prominent command in the Army of the Potomac's Third Corps-despite having no military experience. At Gettysburg, he openly disobeyed orders in one of the most controversial decisions in military history.

Most likely I will wait for this book to enter the market as a paperback because I am not an avid fan of hardcover books. However, I think this one is a keeper and a welcomed addition to my Civil War library. The book comes out on June 29 so check it out on Amazon and order a copy! This one is going to be a great read!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Error in Ken Burns: The Civil War

I found an error in one of the first hand accounts contained in Ken Burns: The Civil War. The issue concerns Confederate Colonel William C. Oates comments regarding the Round Tops. The series introduces Oates as the commander of the 15th Alabama which is not a lie but when he refers to "Within half an hour I could convert" the big hill into a Gibraltar." In his account after the battle, Oates was referring to the first hill that his regiment climbed and that was what later became Big Round Top not Little Round Top. However, in Burns' series, the words "Within half an hour I could convert 'Little Round Top' into a Gibraltar. Another incorrect statement by Ken Burns The Civil War was that Lee wanted the Round Tops taken. There is no evidence that Lee ever made that statement or wanted them unless you refer to his statements in the days, months and years following Gettysburg.


Lafantasie, Glenn W. Twilight at Little Round Top July 2, 1863--The Tide Turns at Gettysburg (Vintage Civil War Library). New York: Vintage, 2007.

Burns, Ken. The Civil War.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Little Round Top

Little Round Top
Originally uploaded by RunnerJenny
What a great pic of Little Round Top!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Finished, a key book review!!!!

For the 200th Anniv. of Lincoln's birth I chose to purchase and read A. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald C. White Jr. In my youth I read the late David Herbert Donald's Lincoln and actually felt that it was the one and only true biography of our 16th President. I will pay David Donald what he deserves, his book will always be the best biography of Lincoln but White's book is a close second. It is a wonderful examination about the life of Lincoln and it has a bit of something for both beginners and Lincoln experts.

White liberally shares photographs, maps, illustrations, documents, even signatures of key characters. Unlike many history/biography books, these are not confined to a few glossy pages in the middle of the book, but appear frequently throughout the text. I like this because it allows the reader to see what he is talking about without having to flip to a specific section of the book reserved for photos. The bibliography is amazing and this book could serve people looking to research the life and time of Lincoln. Ronald White Jr.'s research is as good as anyone could ask for.

Like most Lincoln biographies the first half of the book deals with his early life, his times as a leglislator, lawyer and family man. The second half deals with his presidency with White providing you just enough details in both sections (700+ pages) without bogging the reader down with too many details. He finds time to analyze Lincoln's inagural addresses, the Gettysburg Address and other key speeches. He balances Lincolns home life with Mary and his sons versus his political and law career. White even talks about Lincoln's highs and lows as our nation's Commander in Chief. In short, White's A. Lincoln provides great detail without sacrificing the larger picture.

My only disappointment, though it may have been not included because of the books length was the assassination plot by John Wilkes booth and Lincoln's funeral. One can't fault White though because the book itself might have went over 1,000 pages if it was included.

Another good thing about White's biography is it stays true to the facts that we know about Lincoln. So many books recently have focused on his depression, his possibly homosexuality and other generatic things that avoid painting Lincoln as a hero. Lets face it, Abraham Lincoln is a hero and this book lets everybody know that Abraham Lincoln is one of the greatest men to ever call himself an American. White himself sets it up on the books first page when he states "He signed his name `A. Lincoln.' A visitor to Abraham Lincoln's Springfield, Illinois, home at Eighth and Jackson would find `A. Lincoln' in silvered Roman characters affixed to an octagonal blue plate on the front door. All throughout his life, people sought to complete the A - to define Lincoln, to label or libel him. Immediately after his death and continuing to the present, Americans have tried to explain the nation's most revered president. A. Lincoln continues to fascinate us because he eludes simple definitions and final judgments." White is pointing out to his readers that the search for Lincoln goes on and that his book is one step in an important process that paints a clearer picture of Abraham Lincoln.

Friday, May 22, 2009

David Herbert Donald dies.....we will miss you man

I copied this from a news webpage, the link that cites my source follows

BOSTON, May 19 (UPI) -- David Herbert Donald, a Harvard professor emeritus who won two Pulitzer Prizes for biography, has died in Boston at 88.

Donald died Sunday, the Boston Globe reported.

A native of Mississippi and graduate of Millsaps College in Jackson, Donald came north to Illinois for graduate school. He specialized in the history of the United States during the Civil War and the period immediately before and after and in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Donald's first book was on Lincoln's law partner and at his death he was working on a study of John Quincy Adams' years as an abolitionist congressman.

In 1960, Donald won a Pulitzer for "Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War." His second book, 27 years later, was for "Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe," a biography of the North Carolina novelist.

Donald received many other honors for his work. In 2005, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Ill., awarded him the first David Herbert Donald Prize for excellence in Lincoln studies.

Appropriately, Donald lived on Lincoln Road in Lincoln, Mass., and is to be buried in Lincoln Cemetery. He told interviewers he picked the town for its excellent school system, not its name.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved

This article was taken from

David Herbert Donald (1920-2009) wrote or edited almost twenty books, most of them about the Civil War Era. His book "Lincoln" (1995) was on the New York Times bestseller list for fourteen weeks and won numerous awards. He was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize in biography, for "Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War" (1960) and "Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe" (1987). His other books are "Lincoln's Herndon: A Biography" (1948), "Divided We Fought: A Pictorial History of the War, 1861-1865" (ed., 1952), "Inside Lincoln's Cabinet: The Civil War Diaries of Salmon P. Chase" (ed., 1954), "Lincoln Reconsidered: Essays on the Civil War Era" (1956), "Why the North Won the Civil War: Six Authoratative Views on the Economic, Military, Diplomatic, Social, and Political Reasons Behind the Confederacy's Defeat" (ed., 1960), "The Civil War and Reconstruction" (with J.G. Randall, 1961), "Diary of Charles Francis Adams" (edited with his wife, Aida Donald, 1964), "The Politics of Reconstruction, 1863-1867" (1965), "Charles Sumner and the Rights of Man" (1970), "Gone for a Soldier: The Civil War Memoirs of Private Alfred Bellard" (ed., 1975), "The Great Republic: A History of the American People" (with co-authors, 1977), "Liberty and Union: The Crisis of Popular Government, 1830-1890" (1978), "Charles Sumner" (1996), and "Lincoln at Home: Two Glimpses of Abraham Lincoln's Family Life" (1999). Mr. Donald was the principal historical adviser and commentator for the 1992 documentary series "Lincoln" and for the 2000 television series "A House Divided: Abraham and Mary Lincoln."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Those WalMart Bastards!

God I hate Walmart. Now they want to install another pathetic store on the Wilderness battlefield ruining one of the most remarkable battlefields in American Military History.

It is important for future generations to walk the Wilderness battlefield to better understand the campaign which brought the Confederacy to her knees. This situation has left me a bitter man towards Walmart.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Did Lincoln have Cancer

Dr. John Soto may get a chance to prove his theory that Lincoln would have possibly died of cancer during his second term if he wasn't assassinated. Sotos has long theorized that Lincoln had MENIIB, a fatal cancer gene. A Civil War museum in Philidelphia possesses a strip of a pillowcase stained with Lincoln's blood. The pillow is from the Peterson House, where Lincoln lay suffering from the wounds of the assassination. The museum is called the Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library.

The museum's board of directors voted unanimously to possibly answer the question of Lincoln's mortality once and for all. Museum President Eric Schmincke says "we do not want to damage it to the point that it doesn't exist anymore." Now, the museum says it will find the right experts to extract a few delicate fibers from the pillowcase that may hold an unwritten chapter of American history.

Soto has developed some proof for his hypothesis. In his book Physical Lincoln, Soto has used photographs and other evidence that proves his theory to a point. Now he is seeking that final bit of evidence.

Here is the link to Soto's website and book.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Can I make it back?

It has been 20 years since I toured the Gettysburg battlefield and for years I have been itching to return to the site. It has been a long journey but if everything works out I will return to Gettysburg this summer to tour the fields that I have seen twice in my life. I think about the battle a lot and I truly hope to walk it again. One of the places I want to visit the most is Little Round Top. I once wrote a blog about my feelings towards that rocky hill in southern Pennsylvania.

I have always felt that Little Round Top was the key to the battle at Gettysburg. Many historians feel the same way and some do not but you cannot deny the drama that surrounds the defense of that hill. Although some of that drama has been enhanced by the postwar writings of the men who fought there or books like The Killer Angels or movies like Gettysburg those twilight moments on Little Round Top were vital to the success that the Union enjoyed at Gettysburg. I will write more later but the more I think about going back the more I hav eto remember that anything can happen in life and we are all just a heartbeat away from being unemployed. This economy is awful!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Well its just hours away

Its April 14th again and if your reading this then you know what that means. Tonight is the 144th Anniv. of the Lincoln Assassination. It is also the 97th Anniv. of the steamship Titantic meeting its fate during its maiden voyage. These tragedies have always stuck my interest and I wanted to acknowledge them and take a moment to honor those who were lost. God Speed!

I honored the 143rd anniv. of the Lincoln Assassination last year. Just click here to read it.

Also, if you want to learn more about the Lincoln Assassination then I suggest two books for you to read. I wrote a great blog on them and you can read that blog here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A old warrior writes home

On April 13, 1865 Brigader General Joshua Lawerence Chamberlain, the soon to be self-proclaimed saviour of Little Round Top wrote home to his sister from Appomattox Court House. Chamberlain had just witnessed the surrender of the rebel army and the eventual end of the Confederacy. In the letter Chamberlain does a great job describing the incident and honoring the vanguished foe. I really love the way that he describes the divisions of Hood and Pickett, men with whom he was very familar with. They two Confederate divisions had fought Chamberlain's men on several battlefields which included Gettysburg.

Head Quarters 3d Brigade

1st Div. 5 Army Corps

Appomattox Court House

April 13th 1865.

My dear Sae,

I am glad I was not tempted to leave the army this Spring. I would not for a fortune have missed the experiences of the last two weeks. It seems like two years, so many, + such important events have taken place, within that time. Father said in his last letter to me that "the glory of battles was over." But if he had seen some of these we have had of late, in which we captured the enemy by thousands + carried their positions by a dash, and at last at Appomattox Court House received the surrender of Genl Lee + his whole army he would think differently.

For my personal part I have had the advance every day there was any fighting—have been in five battles – two of them being entirely under my own direction and brilliantly successful—twice wounded myself—my horse shot—in the front line when the flag of truce came through from Lee—had the last shot + the last man killed, in their campaign; + yesterday was designated to receive the surrender of the arms of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. The bare mention of these facts seems like boasting, but I assure you I do not feel any of that spirit. I only rejoice that I was here + bore my part in the crowning Triumphs of the war. It was a scene worthy of a pilgrimage, yesterday, when the old "Third Brigade" of the 1st Div. was drawn up to receive the surrender of the Rebel arms. My Brigade you know consists of 9 Regts. the remnant of the old 5th Corps, veterans of thirty battles. They number about six thousand men all told- on the right was old Massachusetts with the remnants of her 9th, 18th, 22d + 32d. Then Maine, her 1st, 2d, + 20th- Michigan 1st, 4th, + 16th- Pennsylvania- with the sturdy relics of her 82d, 83d, 91st, 118th, + 155th.- with my staff + the old flag- the red maltese cross on a white field with blue border. I took post on the right at 5 a.m., + received first Maj. Gen Gordon with his corps—Stonewall Jackson's—then Longstreet's corps. with Hoods Andersons & Pickett's old Divisions—men we had faced a score of times + almost recognized by face. [Picket's] [Pickett's] splendid Div. only stacked 53 muskets + not a single stand of colors—we had so completely used them up at 5 Forks. Last came Hill's Corp.—by Divisions—Hill himself being killed.[1] We received them with the honors due to troops—at a shoulder—in silence. They came to a shoulder on passing my flag + preserved perfect order. When the head of their column reached our left, they halted face toward our line + close to it—say 4 or 5 yards-- + stacked their arms + piled their colors. Poor fellows. I pitied them from the bottom of my heart. Those arms had been well handled + flags bravely borne.

15,000 stand of arms + 72 flags were stacked before my line. I saw + conversed with nearly all the Rebel Generals, + shall have more things to tell you of by + by.

Your letter has just come. The first mail for two weeks. I thank you much. With great love to you all your aff. Lawrence



George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College, Joshua L. Chamberlain Collection, M27.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A great gift

An old college professor of mine contacted me via email the other day and offered me the 1953 set of "The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln." I want to thank Dr. Danziger for this gift which has found a new home in my hands. I have already delved into the works and found some classic speeches, letters and drafts of speeches that made Lincoln one of the greatest and most overlooked writers in American history.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cool books that I want to read

Two books that I need to check out this summer are

Recarving Rushmore which researches the Presidents, presidential rankings and so forth.

The other book is about Lincoln. (Big surprise!) This one is called "Summers with Lincoln"

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mary Lincoln's lost brothers, brothers-in-law, etc

Mary Lincoln's brother George R.C. Todd and her half-brothers Alexander Todd, David Todd, and Samuel Todd all fought in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Alexander Todd was killed at Baton Rouge.
Samuel Todd was killed in the Battle of Shiloh.
David Todd was wounded at Vicksburg.
Her half-sister Emilie Helm's husband was a Confederate general killed at Chickamauga.
The husbands of her half-sisters, Martha White and Elodie Dawson were ardent supporters of the Confederacy.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Forgotten Generals of the Civil War: Confederate General William H. C. Whiting

William Henry Chase Whiting was born on March 23, 1824 and was an excellent student. He was educated in both Boston and what would later become Georgetown University. Later he graduated West Point in 1845. After graduation he joined the prestigious Army Corps of Engineers and help construct seacoast defenses in both Maryland and Florida. He later served out west for several years aiding the construction of defenses on the West Coast. By 1858 he was back east improving canels and harbors when the Civil War exploded onto the public consenice.

Just a few weeks before Fort Sumter he resigned his commission and joined the Confederate service. He was appointed chief engineer under Joseph Johnston and helped the Confederates defeat northern forces at the First Battle of Bull Run. After being promoted to brigader general in April 1861 he commanded a division at Seven Pines and led some forces under Stonewall Jackson during Jackson's famed Valley Campaign. When Union General George McCellen slowly pushed his forces to Richmond, Whiting and his men traveled by rail to reinforce newly appointed Confederate General Robert E. Lee. After fighting at Gaines Mill and Malvern Hill the Confederate high command saw that Whiting's past as an engineer was far more valuable to the Confederate cause then his leadership on the battlefield. He served the defenses at Petersburg and Wilmington and was promoted to Major General in 1864.

During the Battles at Fort Fisher he was wounded and was take prisoner. Whiting died while a prisoner of war at Fort Columbus in New York Harbor on March 10, 1865. He was buried there until his widow had his body transferred to North Carolina in 1900.


Boatner, Mark Mayo III, The Civil War Dictionary

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Interesting Blog

This blog was really interesting to me. I found it while searching Civil War blogs and believe me there are so many of them. This sit has pictures of every Gettysburg monument. Really interesting stuff!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Interesting side note on Longstreet

Actor Tom Berenger has stated that one of his favorite roles was that of General James Longstreet in the 1993 hit Gettysburg. I was never a big fan of the film because it plays too into the spirit of the Lost Cause and overplays Josh Chamberlain as the savour of Little Round Top. I always felt that Strong Vincent's role is vastly underplayed in documentaries on the subject. He gave his life to save that rocky hill. Anyway, I thought that Berenger's comment on playing Longstreet was cool.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lincoln's Last Photo????????????????

The following message related to the above photo is related to the Associated Press

This detail of a March 6, 1865 photo by Henry F. Warren, provided by the Collection Keya Morgan/, shows the White House with several figures standing in front of it. Photography collector Keya Morgan says the photo is the only known photograph of Lincoln standing in front of the White House, and the first photo ever to have been taken of a President in front of the White House. Morgan added the 6'4 to reference which figure he believes in Abraham Lincoln.
(AP Photo/Collection of Keya Morgan,

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lincoln meets Obama via cartoon

I found this today, its really funny.

Expect a forgotten generals blogger shortly. I haven't posted one in ages and all of my readers have been begging for them.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Booth "killed" four people not one

As John Wilkes Booth entered the presidential box on April 14, 1865 he drew his weapon and fired it into the back of Lincolns skull. But history sometimes forgets the that there were three other people sitting in the presidential box. Mary Lincoln suffered from severe depression and it is very likely that her actual death in 1883 was preceded by her actual death on April 15, 1865. When Mr. Lincoln died Mrs Lincoln may have died too. But if we include Mrs. Lincoln in the numbers we have to recall that two more people occupied the presidential box on that April evening.

After shooting Lincoln, Major Henry Rathbone stood up and attempted to subdue the presidential assassin. Booth drew a knife and stabbed Rathbone int he arm and his wife watched helplessly as Rathbone's bled. Booth escaped Rathbones grasp and eventually escaped to Virginia where he was killed on April 26. Rathbone eventually married the woman who accompied him with the Lincolns on July 11, 1867. The couple eventually produced two children and in 1882 Rathbone was appointed U.S. consul to Germany and the family moved the Hamburg, Germany. But Rathbone could not escape the memories of April 14, 1865. A friend later said "I don't think that he ever recovered from the shock of his night in President Lincoln's box, the scene always haunted his mind." On December 23, 1883 Rathbone murdered his wife Clara and their two children were saved when Clara's sister managed to take them away safely. The former major was committed to a mental institution in Germany. There he remained until his death in 1911.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Who died last? The fate of the Lincoln Conspirators

What was the fate of these men? My biggest question is who died first? Who died last? Here is the accurate list.

1. John Wilkes Booth-->Booth went first, he died on April 26, 1865
2. George Atzerot, Mary Surratt, David Harold, Lewis Powell all went on July 7, 1865
3. Michael O'Laughle died on September 23, 1867 while serving his prison sentence.
4. Edmund Spangler died on February 7, 1865
5. Sam Mudd (Not proven to be directly involved in the Booth cnspiracy) died on Janurary 10, 1883
6. Sam Arnold died on September 21, 1906. He was one of only two conspirators to survive into the 20th Century.
7. John Surratt lived longer than any of the other conspirators. He died on April 21 1916.

By the way this is my 200th blog post. It only seemes like yesterday that I started this blog. Its been a great ride so far.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Franklin Pierce and the Lincoln Assassination

After serving as president Franklin Pierce settled in his home state of New Hampshire. During the Civil War, President Pierce was known as a "doughface" which was a person who had southern sympathies but supported the fighting cause of the north. As a former member of the democratic party he did not support the policies of Republican President Abraham Lincoln. Publicly Pierce blamed Lincoln for causing the war and his fondness for liquer made his political situation even worse.

After Lincoln was murdered in April 14, 1865 a mob surrounded Pierce's home. To save his home he gave a impassioned speech to the crowd, urging them to disperse peacefully, and they did. Pierce died in 1869 and little has been written of him since. In 2009 the channel C-Span gathered several historians together and excluding President Obama, the station had them rank all 42 presidents. Lincoln was ranked first and Franklin Pierce was ranked 40th out of 42 presidents.

As a side note, Millard Fillmore ranked 37th out of 42 presidents.

Guess they were forgoetten.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ignorance is bliss

Two former presidents, Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce failed to properly mourn the death of our 16th President Abraham Lincoln. Despite being born in New York, President Millard Fillimore has some southern sympathies and he tended to speak out against the Lincoln Administration. Fillmore was never a big Lincoln fan. In 1861 when Lincoln was traveling to Washington by train he visited several prominant American cities. One of these stops was in Buffalo, New York which was the home of former president Millard Fillmore. At the station Fillmore coldly greeted Lincoln and just exchanged a few words with him. Then both boarded seperate carriages and Lincoln traveled to the American Hotel. Fillmore's reception can be seen disrespectful to the president-elect and this continued after Lincoln's death.

After the assassination a mob, unforgiving of Fillmore's sympathy for the South, surrounded his house and draped it in black cloth, then splashed black ink on it. For Fillmore ignorance was bliss. He ignored a nation wide mourning in which churches, schools and homes were drapped in mourning. When the Lincoln funeral train stopped in Buffalo the former president was there to greet it. Perhaps to save face pubiclly, perhaps because he finally came to his senses, our 13th President paid his final respects to our 16th President.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lincoln: the Ultimate American Icon/Myth

W.E.B. Dubois once remarked that Lincoln was "brave enough to be inconsistent." Fredrick Douglas once said that Lincoln “began by playing Pharaoh” but “ended by playing Moses.” In 1922 H.L. Mencken remarked "Lincoln becomes the American solar myth, the chief butt of American credulity and sentimentality." He later wrote "But meanwhile the varnishers and veneerers have been busily converting Abe into a plaster saint, thus marking hum fit for adoration in the Y.M.C.A.’s. All the popular pictures of him show him in his robes of state, and wearing an expression fit for a man about to be hanged. There is, so far as I know, not a single portrait of him showing him smiling—and yet he must have cackled a good deal, first and last: who ever heard of a storyteller who didn’t? Worse, there is an obvious effort to pump all his human weaknesses out of him, an obvious effort to pump all his human weaknesses out of him, and so leave him a mere moral apparition, a sort of amalgam of John Wesley and the Holy Ghost." The point is that Lincoln has become that ultimate icon, the person that everybody American leader has to speak about, act like and so forth.

I noticed that President Obama gave a speech for the Lincoln Bicentennial in Springfield on Feb. 12. I once read that people claim that Lincoln is their representative for any and everything. For example, gay rights activists use Lincoln as an icon and claim that he was gay. Both Republicans and Democrats use Lincoln as they symbol but if Lincoln was living today he might be an Independent. Yes, the independents have used Lincoln as a symbol in the past. Insurance companies and even cleaning companies have used his name to evoke consumer confidence and reliability. Communist groups and other social groups that do not have a major voice in the majority have used Lincoln as their icon. After reading Obama's speech I was fascinated that he mentioned a few other Presidents when he said:

"Lincoln understood what Washington understood when he led farmers and craftsmen and shopkeepers to rise up against an empire. What Roosevelt understood when he lifted us from Depression, built an arsenal of democracy, created the largest middle-class in history with the GI Bill. It's what Kennedy understood when he sent us to the moon."

Notice that Obama doesn't mention Washington (A Federalist) or Reagan? The mere mention of other famous Presidential Democrats places Lincoln with them rather than at home with his fellow Republicans. Lincoln is an icon, a symbol that everyone wishes to use to justify that they are in the right. Too bad the old man couldn't speak up for himself. I wonder how he would feel about the past few presidents like Bush or Obama's big-time spending bill? Hey I can be biased but at least I mentioned presidents from both parties.

The full text of Obama's speech is here

Other sources:

H.L. Mencken's article on Lincoln is here

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Great Lincoln line

I found this while searching Lincoln news articles today.

As Lincoln traveled via train to Washington D.C. in 1861 his transportation made several key stops along the way. One of these was in Painesville, Ohio which is located just east of Cleveland.

"I have stepped out upon this platform that I may see you and that you may see me," President-elect Abraham Lincoln announced when his inaugural train steamed into tiny Painesville, Ohio, on a chill February morning in 1861. "And in the arrangement," he quipped to the curious crowd lining the tracks, "I have the best of the bargain." Lincoln was commenting on his "beautiful face" and Lincoln expert Harold Holtzer wrote an excellent article detailing this at the U.S. News.

Historians have given Lincoln credit for understanding the power of the photograph and using it to catapult him to elected office. Some claim that this insight goes as far back as when Lincoln was running for the U.S. House of Representatives. Despite his opinions on his own beauty he was willing to have himself photographed and so many photographs of Lincoln have been uncovered since his death that one can see the effects that the war and deaths in the family had on him from 1861 to '62 to '63 to '64 '65.

After reading the article I did not realize that author Nathaniel Hawthrone called Lincoln "the homeliest man I ever saw." Lincoln could always find humor in his "beauty". Once he quipped to a person painting his portrait "It is allowed to be ugly in this world, but not as ugly as I am." Truth be told Abraham Lincoln was no beauty, he did not possess the dapper elegence of John Kennedy or the bearing of George Washington but he was our greatest president and he will always be our greatest president.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Whose that man?

Poor Kid
Home owner
Regular guy
Role Model
Animal Lover
Lottle Brither
Store Clerk

All of those maxims describe Abraham Lincoln.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Father Abraham

Abraham Lincoln was born 200 years ago today on Feb. 12, 1809. Personally, I could not allow this important day to pass without blogging about it. I've been recently reading the new biography of our 16th president which was published a few weeks back. To celebrate Lincoln's birthday I am writing here some interesting facts about Lincoln. I am using White's new book as my source.

On May 7, 1833 Abraham Lincoln was appointed as the postmaster of New Salem. Lincoln earned twenty-five to thirty dollars a year.

Just before Lincoln boarded a train to assume his first elected seat in 1834 he stopped by the house of Coleman Smoot. Mr. Smoot was a prosperous farmer in the New Salem region and his influence and support helped Lincoln get elected to the Illinois legislature. "did you vote for me?" Lincoln asked Smoot. Smoot told him "I did." Lincoln replied "You must loan me money to by a suitable clothing for I want to make a decent appearance in the legislature." Smoot then had to loan him two hundred dollars. Lincoln promised to pay it back, took the cash and purchased the first suit that he ever owned.

By the age of eighteen Abraham Lincoln lost both his mother and his only living sibling, as sister named Sarah.

So much has been written about Abraham Lincoln that he can be referred to as a icon or even a myth. Lincoln himself may have left us the perfect poem for our need to read about Lincoln. Lincoln was a poor mans poet and here is the statement:

"Abraham Lincoln is my nam
And with my pen I wrote the same
I wrote both hast and speed
And left it here for fools to read."

Happy Birthday Father Abraham. I am one of many fools who always wants to learn more about you.


White, Ronald C. A. Lincoln. New York: Random House, 2009.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

10 little known facts about Abraham Lincoln

A great link depicts the 10 things that you didn't know about Abraham Lincoln.

10 Things You Didn't Know About Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln was the first president born beyond the original 13 states
Posted February 10, 2009
1. Born in Kentucky in 1809, Abraham Lincoln was the first president born beyond the boundaries of the original 13 states.

2. Lincoln worked as a ferry operator and a flatboat pilot before entering the world of politics.

3. In 1849, Lincoln obtained Patent No. 6,469 on a device that was designed to keep boats afloat when they passed over a sandbar or entered shallow water; to this day, he is the only president to hold a patent.

4. Lincoln was the first president to sport a beard; he began to grow his beard shortly after his election in 1860, when supporters and advisers suggested that facial hair would soften his somewhat harsh appearance.

5. The Lincoln family shared the White House with several unusual pets, including two goats named Nanny and Nanko. The Lincolns also had a dog named Fido whom they left in Illinois after the presidential victory in 1860 because they were worried that the long train ride to Washington would be too difficult and frightening for him.

6. A turkey was sent to the White House for a holiday dinner in 1863, and Lincoln's son Tad pleaded that it not be executed. Lincoln issued "an order of reprieve," sparing the turkey's life.

7. Lincoln was the first president to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

8. In 1876, a group of men tried to remove Lincoln's body from Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Ill., and hold it for a large ransom.

9. The Lincoln Bedroom was never a bedroom in Lincoln's time; it was an office where Lincoln met with cabinet members and signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The room still contains a few pieces of office furniture from Lincoln's time along with a handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address.

10. Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks, was a distant relative of Tom Hanks, making the president and the actor fourth cousins, four times removed.


Facts About the Presidents (H. W. Wilson Co.)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
New York Post
Chicago Tribune
National Park Service
Time magazine
More News
Lincoln's Great Awakening
Lincoln's Lessons for Barack Obama

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lincoln movie and the actor who will play him

Coming published a interview with actor Liam Neeson who is scheduled to play Lincoln in a Steven Spielburg directed epic. He even claimed to be an "educated" person on Lincoln's life because he claims to have read over twenty books on our 16th President. Neeson has also done his research. He claims to have read key speeches and letters and has had a complete tour of Fords Theatre which included a physical examination of many Lincoln artifacts.

"I've been there. I've been to Washington, I've held his wallet, I've said a prayer on the Bible he was inaugurated on. Still ongoing… there's an extraordinary Lincoln bicentennial committee, a place I go to in Washington. I got to know this guy Michael Bishop who's the co-chair. He gave me access to all this Lincoln stuff. I read his personal letters and stood on the stage at Ford's Theater." Liam Neeson.

This is good news. Neeson is perfect because of his easy going voice, tall/lanky figure and thin face. I cannot wait for this. Stay tuned I will continue to publish more about this upcoming film.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Abraham Lincoln and Captain Kirk? "Lincolns" appearance on Star Trek

It is rare that a fictional tv series is able to capture the full hearted feelings of a important historical personality. The original Star Trek tv show was able to capture the essence of Abraham Lincoln on one of its episodes. I have been a Star Trek fan since 1986 and have enjoyed the show from Kirk to Picard.....sorry I am not a fan of Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise (the other three Star Trek tv series).

During the original Star Trek third season Lincoln made an appearence in the episode "The Savage Curtain" which first aired on tv on March 7, 1969. In the show Captain James T. Kirk (played by William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (played by Lenard Nimoy) are forced to fight alongside such historical figures as Abraham Lincoln of Earth and Surak of Vulcan by aliens who want to understand the concepts of "good" and "evil." The Enterprise is surprised to detect life signs coming from an apparently lifeless planet. During the ensuing investigation, an image of Abraham Lincoln appears on the viewscreen.

"Captain’s log, stardate 5906.4. Who or what has been beamed aboard our vessel? An alien who has changed himself into this form? An illusion? I cannot conceive it possible that Abraham Lincoln could have actually been reincarnated. And yet his kindness, his gentle wisdom, his humor, everything about him is so right."
Lincoln makes a brief tour of the ship, then invites Kirk and Spock to beam down to a thousand-kilometer Earth-like region that suddenly appears on the sensors. Kirk seems all too ready to admire the "illusion," whereas McCoy and Scotty insist that the whole affair is a setup to lure Kirk and Spock to their deaths on the planet's deadly surface. Kirk and Spock accept the invitation, and discover themselves locked in a mortal combat of good versus evil, with the good represented by themselves, Lincoln, and Surak (the legendary Vulcan philosophical leader), and evil represented by four archetypes, including Kahless, founder of the Klingon Empire; Zora of Tiburon; ancient human conqueror Genghis Khan, and the charismatic but thoroughly despicable 21st century tyrant Colonel Green. The planet's denizens reveal themselves to be a race of rock-like beings, the Excalbians, who often stage such combats to learn more about alien philosophies. Since Kirk refuses to fight, the aliens raise the stakes by damaging the Enterprise's matter/antimatter equipment, which will cause the ship to "blow to bits" in four hours – unless the "good" side manages to defeat their opponents.

"Supplemental log, stardate 5906.5. Engineer Scott reporting. The Enterprise is doomed to explode in two hours if Captain Kirk is defeated by the enemy on the surface of the planet. The enormous power of the Enterprise has been neutralized and we sit here watching, unable to assist."
Of course, Kirk and Spock prevail, and are allowed to beam back to a miraculously repaired Enterprise.

During the episode, Lincoln (played by actor Lee Bergere) did an excellent job playing Abraham Lincoln. He even has a mole on his right cheek just like Lincoln did although it is really makeup. One of his best lines in "The Savage Curtain" is a comment that he makes to Captain Kirk. Here it is:

"We fight on their level.
With trickery, brutality, finality.
We match their evil.
I know, James. I was reputed to be a gentle man.
But I was commander in chief...
during the four bloodiest years of my country's history.
I gave orders that sent...
a hundred thousand men to their death...
at the hands of their brothers."

To me that is something that Abraham Lincoln would say but it has been wrongly attributed to the real Lincoln.

Another exchange that is interesting is Lincoln's brief conversation with Lt. Uhura. For those people who are not Star Trek fans, Lt. Uhura is played by actresses Nichelle Nichols who is African-American.

Uhura: Excuse me, Captain Kirk. -

Kirk: Yes, Lieutenant.

Lincoln: What a charming Negress. Oh, forgive me, my dear. I know in my time some used that term as a description of property.

Uhura: But why should I object to that term, sir? In our century, we've learned not to fear words.

Kirk: May I present our communications officer, Lieutenant Uhura.

Lincoln: The foolishness of my century...had me apologizing where no offense was given.

Another fun exchange occurs later in the episode. During the "good" and "evil" battle, Spock's hero is captured by the enemy and Lincoln volunteers to save him. To do this Lincoln must secretly enter the enemy camp and rescue Surak (Spock's hero). Kirk refuses to let Lincoln go. Here is the exchange.

Lincoln: James, James. Remember, I was something of a backwoodsman. I doubt that you could do what I was bred to.

Kirk: I can't let you risk it, Mr. President.

Spock: I am no longer president.

Lincoln is killed in the attempt and once again he is sacrificed for the good of others.

"The Savage Curtain" is a great episode and being a fan of Abrham Lincoln makes this episode even better! It is highly recommended to any buff even if Star Trek isn't their thing. Check it out, you might be surprised. Also, check out these pics, this is a great representation of President Lincoln. Lincoln is Kirk's hero and Shatner does a great job connecting the two characters. Expressing sadness over the death of Lincoln.

Kirk: They seemed so real. And to me, especially Mr. Lincoln. I feel I actually met Lincoln.

Spock: Yes, and Surak. Perhaps in a sense they were real, Captain. Since they were created out of our own thoughts,how could they be anything but what we expected them to be?

Kirk: It was so hard for me to see him die again. I feel I understand what Earth... must have gone through to achieve final peace.

Its great stuff, if you get a chance then check it out.

The fictional Abraham Lincoln on the original Star Trek tv series


Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Lincoln Stamps

New Lincoln stamps will be introduced on Feb 9. Here is a pic of them. I have to get a copy of them. Of course these are for the Lincoln Bicentential.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I don't think that this blog could exist if I did not speak on todays events in Washington D.C. I don't think that Hollywood could have written a better script for Barack Hussein Obama II. If you would have told me one year ago that the first African-American president is brought into office just one month away from the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln & the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Day I would have called you crazy. What a script for our new president.

Now that this ceremony is out of the way, President Obama can work towards uniting our nation and hopefully aiding this economy which is slowly failing before our very eyes. However, I was not impressed with his speech and since I enjoy the inugual addresses I have speak about it. I noticed a few Lincoln moments in Obama's inugual address that I will point out here but before I get to that I recently read a quote that stated that every politican has to "get right with Lincoln" because it seems like "Father Abraham's" shadow covers every president who has ever taken office.

Here are a few interesting quotes from the Obama address which are followed by my comments.

The first line of his speech read as follows and echoes Lincoln.

"I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors."

This one has nothing to do with Lincoln but I find it funny. Obama needs to check up on his presidential history.

"Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath." This is untrue. 43 American have offically taken the presidential oath. Grover Cleveland is counted twice because he was elected to two non-consecutive terms. Therefore, there have been 44 administrations but only 43 men have taken the oath. Therefore, President Obama needs to subtract one person.

I did enjoy his reference to the great heros of our military and he highlighted several battles which cross all eras and time periods.

"For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn."

He sounded like President Franklin Roosevelt when he stated:

"Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."

I thought of Ronald Reagan when Obama said:

"Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint."

A little Harry Truman appeared in this quote:

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

Lets face it, he has four years, lets give him our support and see if he will complete the process of "in reaffirming the greatness of our nation."

Monday, January 12, 2009


People have tried to prove that a wider conspiracy existed in 1865 to murder Abraham Lincoln. The most famous "conspiracy" is the murder of President Kennedy in 1963. Both of these murders have hundreds of books, articles and information out there for researchers to read and history buffs to debate about. Historian Henry Steele Commager and historian William Manchester wrote some interesting information about the Kennedy assassination which directly relates to the death of Abraham Lincoln.

Commager wrote "I do think that there has come up in recent years...something that might be explained by ordinary processes...We are on the road to a paranoid explanation of things...The conspiracy theory, the conspiracy mentality, will not accept ordinary evidence...There's some psychological requirement that forces them to reject the ordinary, and find refuge in the extraordinary." It is hard to accept that Lincoln's conspiracy was led by a actor who built a group of "loser" conspirators. Its hard to accept that a low-life like Lee Harvey Oswald decided to shoot Kennedy at the last minute and carried out the process all by himself.

Perhaps William Manchester did a better job describing it better when he wrote (and you could substitute the information about the Lincoln assassination here) "Those who desperately want to believe that President Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy have my sympathy. I share their yearning. to employ what may seem like an off metaphor, there is an esthetic principle here. If you put six million dead Jews on one side of a scale and on the other side put the Nazi regime---the greatest gang of criminals ever to seize control of a modern state---you have a rough balance: greatest crime, greatest criminals. But if you put the murdered President of the United States on one side of a scale and that wretched waif Oswald on the other side, it doesn't balance. You want to add something weightier to Oswald. It would invest the President's death with meaning, endowing him with martyrdom. He would have died for something.

A conspiracy would, of course do the job nicely."

I feel that Machesters statement says it all.


Kauffman, Michael W. American Brutus : John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2005.

Posner, Gerald. Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK. New York: Random House, 1993.