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This is the archive for June 2006

Friday, June 30, 2006

While reading "A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co. K, Twelfth Kansas Infantry" edited by Tom Wing (Butler Center for Arkansas Studies) I came across a mention of soldiers playing Uchre. Luckily, the editor, Mr. Tom Wing, offered a footnote that explained it was a popular card game with the soldiers and that he had seen many mentions of said game in other letters in documents.

This intrigued me; I wanted to know what the heck it was so off I went.

First, I went to Wikipedia, nothing. Then I searched Google. It had a few things but most were on some foreign company, my favorite, one of those squatter sites that have a list of things to purchase. Thank goodness I had a popup blocker on, who knows what would have shown up if I hadn’t.

But Google is cool and asked if I actually meant Euchre, which I apparently did because the first listing for that of the rules of the card game Euchre. More surprisingly, it is played still around the world – if you count the mid-west of the US, Canada, parts of England and the US Navy the whole world.

Once spelled right, Wikipedia provided a great summary. It’s a game that has two teams of two playing each other for “tricks”. My mind was a bit in the gutter at first and thought, no wonder the soldiers played this, until I read that it was not what I thought but actually who won the hand that was dealt. Disappointing.

It seemed a bit confusing at first but if you are interested in seeing what was popular with some soldiers of the Civil War, you can try the game out at free online at Lycos. Me, I’m going to stick with Solitaire, seems much easier.

I’d like to give a big thank you to SC Hotline.

It’s a neat website that I read daily, that pulls together the best South Carolina political news on the web. Yesterday they placed a link to “What if you threw an election and nobody came?” and the response was tremendous. If you happen to live in SC or hoping/worried that Senator Lindsey Graham is going to run for President, I would highly recommend taking a look.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Day 16 -
Still no response from B&N. I wonder if my gmail email account is being picked up as spam? Wouldn't that be funny? At least there would be an excuse for B&N not to have responded.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

You may think you have never heard of Morris Island but chances are very good that you have. Ever watch Glory? There you go, you know about Morris Island. At the very end, when the 54th goes up against Fort Wagner, that was Morris Island. At least in real life, in the movie it was filmed far from the Charleston harbor where Morris Island sits.

Unfortunately, where the 54th failed, the ocean has not. In the late 1800’s the state of South Carolina received permission from the federal government to build jetties to help deepen the Charleston harbor. Unfortunately it also changed the way sand moved within the local area and Morris Island found the vast majority of its land, under water.

There was still a bit left above ground and over the years, it has, for the most part, been left alone. Unfortunately, living near the water has become big business in America and for awhile, it looked like Morris Island would soon be developed.

In stepped Mr. Bobby Gin, a developer who purchased the island for $6.8 million but has agreed to sell it to the Trust for Public Land for $4.5 million. With all that we keep hearing about people and corporations destroying the past to make way for the future, it is good to see that someone is willing to help.

The unfortunate part to all of this? Even with the SC State Conservation Bank giving $1.5 million to kick start raising funds, the bank still needs to come up with close to $4 million to cover all the costs in purchasing the island and getting it ready for the public.

I wonder if the same public that complains of the environment and history slipping away will step up and make sure that Morris Island is preserved.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In South Carolina 57% of the population is registered to vote. If you apply that to the population of my county that would mean an estimated 86,454 citizens could vote.

12,025 actually voted for County supervisor - the MOST powerful position in the county - 13.9% of the voting population or 7.9% percent of the total population. Yes this is for a primary but still that could mean the estimated voting population could be cut in half - if the Democratic party had not suggested that members vote in the Republican primaries as you do not have to register a specific party in SC.



Today sees South Carolina holding its primary runoff elections. And if it is like the first election two weeks ago, it will have a rather lackluster turnout.

In a state of over 4.2 million residents, there are 2.4 million registered and yet only 16% showed up for the primary. 384,000 people basically decided some of the major elections across the state, less than 10% of the total population.

With our status of being a Republican stronghold, many of the city and county Republican primaries will be the only contested vote. Many Democrats won’t even waste the money to run against the Republicans – and who can blame them when no one bothers to show up?

In my county, the County Administrator (think Mayor of the County – an extremely powerful position) and my County Councilman will have their elections decided today. So the future of the county is in our hands, yet I am willing to bet few will show up to voice their opinion.

I feel though, that this is more than an opinion to voice, it is more than a right when we take part in voting, it is a duty.

My father was career Navy, and along with my mother instilled that voting was a duty of a citizen. I can remember them filling out their absentee ballots in the 1980 election and the seriousness they placed in deciding who to vote for. The day I turned 18, I registered to vote as soon as school let out and was proud to do it. And since that day, rarely have I missed an election. When my son was all of three days old, the day he was let out of the hospital, we went together and voted. I was one of the youngest voters that day and 11 years later, often feel that way while voting.

But where is everyone else? What happened to the power of the Civil Rights movement or the women’s suffrage movement? All that energy and time spent fighting the establishment for the right to vote, now ignored. Is everyone hoping that the status quo will keep them safe and help provide what they need? Or is the care and desire completely gone?

When the drinking age was forced up to 21, it should have been a wake up call for the youth. They just sat there and complained but did nothing. MTV tried to Rock the Vote, it was more of a tremble than anything else.

Some groups still get it. Why is our policy towards Cuba still so strict? Ask the politicians in Florida. As long as the state is a swing state in the Presidential elections, you can bet that the national policy will stay the same. The elderly get it too. They always have and I guess it’s because with age comes wisdom.

Americans have cared and cared greatly before. But there has always been some sort of ralling wake up call. A need for a revolution, to keep the country together, to protect its borders or to make all men equal almost 200 years late, these are the things that have changed the course of a nation. Is there another call coming? Or are we going to continue with the current national attitude until it’s too late and the right is completely gone and we are the serfs and peasants our ancestors were so long ago?
Devotion by Julia Oliver
University of Georgia Press will be releasing what looks to be an interesting novel titled Devotion by Julia Oliver in October. Since I am unable to gobble up history after history without some sort of break, I tend to throw in fiction every now and then. This looks like one that might make it to my reading list. Combining fiction and history, Ms. Oliver tells the story of Winnie Davis, the youngest daughter of Jefferson Davis. After the war, she would become the “foremost cultural symbol of the South’s Lost Cause.” As with most tales, there appears to be much more to Ms. Davis as you dig deeper and Ms. Oliver shows this through telling the tale from several different characters.

In other news -

Civil War snapshots
The State - Columbia,SC,USA
A look at Margaret E. Wagner's The American Civil War: 365 Days - Library of Congress and Harry N. Abrams Inc.

Bay Staters on the battlefield: New book chronicles Civil War bravery of Massachusetts men
MetroWest Daily News - Framingham,MA,USA
As a researcher of the 18th Massachusetts, it is always great to see other regiments getting press, in this case it is 3 regiments in the new book, Isn't This Glorious!: The 15th, 19th, And 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiments at Gettysburg's Copse of Trees by Edwin R. Root and Jeffrey D. Stocker.

Our weekly look at the most interesting stories of the week.

This week we saw quite a bit more than usual, so this post is a long one.

Martial law declared in Kentucky during Civil War, election hijacked
WKYT - Lexington,KY,USA
An Interesting story looking at what happened in an election where a Union State teetered on the brink of searching for peace with the Confederacy

Bridgeport To Open Civil War Museum

WTRF - Wheeling,WV,USA
A piece on a new museum dedicated to the Civil War

Civil War cannon returns home to Groton
Ithaca Journal - Ithaca,NY,USA
What happens when history is sold away? In this town the citizens get it back!

Oktibbeha officials OK marker to Union Civil War soldiers

Biloxi Sun Herald - MS, USA
In response to a monument that seemed pro-Confederate, a civil rights group gets permission to put up a Union one.

New headstones give Civil War vets recognition they deserve
Lansing State Journal - Lansing,MI,USA
Correcting mistakes almost 100 years old, veterans get headstones that correctly tell their story.

Paying respect Civil War veterans honored

Maryville Daily Times - Maryville,TN,USA
After finding headstones/markers that didn’t seem appropriate in honoring their service in the Confederate Army, these citizens got new ones.

Civil War vet to be honored
Connellsville Daily Courier - Connellsville,PA,USA
At least the soldiers in the previous article had headstones, this veteran didn’t even have one until now.

Civil War show pairs the old with the new
Springfield State Journal Register - Springfield,IL,USA
Broadway and the Civil War continue to partner - and continue to amaze me that it is happening!

Civil War-Era $100 Note Goes for $2.1 Million
Los Angeles Times - CA,USA
Couple's old currency from Civil War sells for $4.2 million
Bradenton Herald - FL, United States
Donation may be best for Civil War letter
Daily Press - Newport News,VA,USA
Civil War diaries now open to all
The Herald - Everett,WA,USA
The first two stories tell of getting a lot of money for some old paper. The third suggests donating old paper instead. While the last shows what happens when you do donate old paper.

Author lost in Civil War, ‘Gone With the Wind’

Henry Herald - McDonough,GA,USA
A nice human interest story about a man, acting and the Civil War. Some people might think him crazy, we will just call him an enthusiast.

Fenton To Offer Civil War History Camp
Jamestown Post Journal - Jamestown,NY,USA
I was thinking about sending my kids to the Citadel Summer camp next year, this one might beat it out though.

'The Battlefield Embalmer' explains Civil War techniques
Frederick News Post (subscription) - Frederick,MD,USA
I've mentioned in the past that the funeral business as we know it, owes much to the Civil War. This is quite an interesting story about how bodies were embalmed back then.

A tribute to Civil War veterans

Aurora Beacon News - Aurora,IL,USA
Not a statue, not a monument, but a building dedicated to the war. It's fallen into some bad times and a town looks to be coming to save it.

Civil War paint
Albany Times Union - Albany,NY,USA
A look at how the Old West artist was influenced by the Civil War

'Heart of Civil War' is formed
Hagerstown Morning Herald - Hagerstown,MD,USA
And the last one is one that has made waves across the CW Blogosphere. Are a band of towns turning their history into a Disney-type creation? Read about it here and decide for yourself.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I got another three books yesterday and yes, I didn't plan on getting any more until I finished the batch I already had - but these looked too interesting to pass up.

As I have mentioned before, I am much more interested in the history and experiences of a soldier than his unit, corps or Army. Enough has been said about those and I truly feel that too much has been glossed over by just looking at the standard sources and skipping these fine treasures. So when I saw "A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co. K, Twelfth Kansas Infantry" edited by Tom Wing and "Things Grew Beautifully Worse: The Wartime Experiences of Captain John O'Brien, 30th Arkansas Infantry, C.S.A." edited by Brian K. Robertson, I couldn't resist.

Both come from the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and look at two different aspects of the war. Private Strong was a Union soldier who served in Missouri and Kansas and took part in the Camden Expedition and Battles of Poison Spring and Jenkins' Ferry. Captain O'Brien's diary tells of injuries on the battlefield and his subsequent time as a Union Prisoner. This one ties in nicely with While in the hands of the enemy: Military Prisons of the Civil War by Charles W. Sanders Jr.the book I am currently reading.

The third book is "All Cut to Pieces and Gone to Hell: The Civil War, Race Relations, and the Battle of Poison Spring" edited by Mark K. Christ. This one came from the Butler Center also, via August House. This one ties into Private Strong's diary and goes into detail of one of the battles he participated in with great detail. The book's summary asks some pretty difficult questions on the actions of the Confederate Soldiers and the outcome of the battle – ones that have intrigued me just by reading the summary.

I also have heard that Mr. Wing just had a book-signing this past week at the Fort
Smith, AR Public Library. Over fifty books on hand were purchased and another forty had to be ordered! Sounds like it is starting make a mark out there.

So I have my reading pretty much laid out for me, I just have to hope that no one else comes out with any cool books. Somehow I doubt that will happen.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

You know I waited 10 days before posting yesterday’s blog on the lack of response from both Barnes and Noble and Borders. So what happens? I got a response last night from one of the many emails sent out. So I would like to start off with

Day 10 –
I got a response from one of my emails! It looks like it’s from Barnes and Noble! I am so shocked; I am timid about opening it. I keep looking at my little Gmail inbox, trying to make it go away or disappear somehow. But it continues to beckon me, asking, pleading for me to open it. After 10 days, I am not sure I want to, I am a bit nervous of what it will say.

Oh well, here goes nothing, I am going to open it.

Nope, never mind I’ll surf the web for a bit instead.

I’m back and it’s still sitting in my inbox and now it seems to be taunting me. I wonder if this is all for nothing and the email is really just something saying, get a life and leave us alone. I am going to open it now and see what it says.

I lied. I opened up Foxpro which I don’t have the Gmail inbox set up in. I really need to stop being so silly. I just don’t want to be disappointed with some canned response.

Here goes nothing; I’m opening up Internet Explorer, double clicked on the email to open it. Now I just have to go there. Unfortunately, my two sons are fighting and I have to go break that up.

With kids taken care of, I am going to read the email now.

Darn, I was wrong.

It was from Books-A-Million not Barnes and Noble. Still, it’s great to get a response.

So what did they say? Well, Mr. Rick Rupp, Merchandise Manager puts it nice and succinctly, what sells best for them is what they stock the most of, what doesn’t sell, they don’t put out a lot of or order.

When asked why, Books-A-Million might stock better than the other big chains, he responds, that he does not “presume to speak for my competitors…” but “We all make choices that are designed to achieve a wide range of goals and measures including meeting the needs of our customers.”

Makes perfect sense to me and I appreciate the super fast response by Mr. Rupp. Unlike the other book stores we have been talking about. Books-A-Million responds in one day, B&N, 11 days and counting.

I am still a bit confused though. Books-A-Million states that they order things that sell for them. You would think the same would happen with the other chains, yet one seems to be missing the boat. Are we, the Civil War enthusiasts actually the snobs? Are we the ones not shopping at B&N and therefore they are not ordering them because of us? Wouldn’t that be funny?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Recently, there were a whole bunch of remarks in the Civil War Blogoshpere on the perceived lack of Civil War related books stocked by book seller giant Barnes and Noble. I decided that it might be good to get information on whether this perception is true or not directly from the source instead of guessing to why they seem not to stock anything.

Below is my ongoing tale of adventure.
Day 1 –
As a “member” of the Barnes and Noble book program, I email media relations. I truly am happy about the type of service I get at B&N, so think I will get the same fast response. Can’t wait for tomorrow to read their reply.

Day 2 –
I remember that a friend of mine used to be a B&N manager, I email him – he responds quickly and informatively. I want to wait to post his response with the official B&N response.
No response from B&N, maybe they are just shifting through a lot of mail. Tomorrow I am sure to get a response.

Day 3 –
No response from B&N. Surely they have gotten to my email by now?

Day 4 –
No response from B&N but it is Saturday. Should not count it against them

I buy some books at Books-a-Million for my daughter. Apparently B&N doesn’t stock “My Little Pony” books either

Day 5 –
No response from B&N but it is Sunday, they should be resting. I wish I was, instead I am working around the house. If I was resting I would be reading some great books right now!

Day 6 –
No response from B&N, could it be they are resting up from the weekend? I had a busy one so maybe they did too! Hope they don’t have a hangover; they would never get to my email if they do.

Day 7 –
No response from B&N, Could be a busy time with books and stuff, I know they wouldn’t ignore a Civil War book reader, would they?

Day 8 –
No response from B&N, I check my sent emails just to make sure I did send out an email. Maybe I just imagined it, nope, I sent it.

Day 9 -
No response from B&N – I send a follow-up email and include my B&N member number just to prove I am a member.

I send an email to media relations at Books-a-Million, asking why they stock so much while others don’t. I include the emails I sent to B&N too.

You have to prove that you are “working press” with Borders in order to ask a question. I am sure I am not “working press” but try the process anyways. This should be fun. Yup it was fun – I got the following response within an hour:

“Thank you for registering at the Borders Group Media Center. At this time we are unable to approve your registration. Please note that full access to the Borders Group Media Center is restricted to credentialed journalists and the working press. If you feel you should be admitted to the site, please provide additional information about your media outlet.” Guess I won’t be asking them after all.

Apparently Borders only cares if you are press, everyone else, including consumers, don't matter.

At this time I think everyone hates the Civil War, except for me, but that could be debatable right now. I’ll post my friend's response next week when I finally admit defeat.

Thanks for caring book stores!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Surprisingly there was little out in the blogosphere about Juneteenth this week. When I did a Google news search, I found a mere 23 articles dealing with it, which really seemed low. Especially compared to the recent event on the battlefield of Antietam.

What exactly is Juneteenth you may ask? Well, it's a celebration of the emancipation proclamation and the end of slavery. The "holiday" started in Texas shortly after the war and is now celebrated throughout the country, although not as big as it used to be.

Here in South Carolina, the small town of Lincolnville celebrated with an event that lasted through the weekend. As one organizer put it, they were trying to teach the younger generations the importance of their history.

I am glad to see that people are celebrating Juneteenth, remembering that at one time, they did not have the opportunity to do so.

Perhaps next year, we will see more people celebrating Juneteenth or at least a bit more people acknowledge its existense. For no matter what you feel about the causes of the war, this is an example of something good that came out of it. Something very good.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The problem with writing a book on something that everyone already knows about it is the possibility of alienating your potential audience.

Most schoolchildren know how the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims survive the first year in America and all celebrated with a Thanksgiving feast. Some might even know that the Native Americans brought what most modern Americans would consider good food, while the Pilgrims had some great stewed eels.

So when I was walking through Sam’s Wholesale Club and I saw a somewhat thick book titled Mayflower : A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick . I almost didn’t pick it up. Fortunately for me, the cover intrigued me enough to read the book flap, which then helped me decide to purchase it.

Intriguingly, Mr. Philbrick does not assume that you know the story of the Pilgrims; he starts from scratch and builds a foundation based upon the community that the Pilgrims were so desperately wanted to build. This desire saw the group first move to Holland, where surprisingly agents of the King tried to arrest members of the community, and then to the shores of America. As you go through the book you realize that the group sole goal was to build a community that could withstand the upcoming Armageddon and to do so they had to approach the natives as equals.

As the book continues we see how the colony has achieved success and expanded throughout what we now call New England but it is not the community that the Pilgrims had desired. Nor do the children who have now taken leadership roles in both the Native American tribes and the colony, have the same desire of living together in a symbiotic relationship. We see several mistakes by both sides that could have easily been defused, lead to King Phillip’s war, a war that would devastate both sides.

Throughout the second half of the book as the war and its accompanying death and destruction, Mr. Philbrick makes a point of showing how earlier in the colony’s history, events that you are reading about, could never have been imagined much less have happened. But it is not just the war that takes place; it is also how the two sides treat each other and why they did so. It is a tragic tale of a beautiful friendship gone terribly wrong.

This book does a fantastic and enjoyable job of showing how the colonists came to America and struggled to establish a foothold that would transform into the beginning of a new nation. It pulls no punches showing the mistakes of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans and also highlights the accomplishments. So even though I thought I knew about the Pilgrims, I learned more in this one book than I have ever before.

One major drawback that I came across was one of the final conclusions of Mr. Philbrick where he tried to compare the failures of the colonial government and the current administration’s policy towards terrorism. This is an otherwise beautiful book, soiled by an attempt to politicize the Pilgrims and their actions from so long ago.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The blog received a great honor this past week.

Civil War Interactive has bestowed upon Touch the Elbow with the CWI Recommended Blog award. CWI has long had some of the most sought after awards in the Civil War community.

Receiving an award for this blog within the first two weeks of the creation of it was a great achievement indeed.

While reviewing the site, the following really made us smile, “His post of 6/12 called "How should we hate the Hate groups?" is one of the best we've read on the subject. He makes an excellent case that the "ignore them and they'll go away" policy doesn't work, and can have some peculiar side effects in unlikely areas.”

A big thank you to Joe Avalon and his staff at Civil War Interactive for thinking so highly of us.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Bringing you the best news articles of the week straight to your computer.

KKK Stages Rally at Civil War Battlefield
Washington Post - United States

Although it’s been all over the news, I still feel this should lead this week’s news links. The Civil War community seems divided on how to respond to the racists and all have definitive opinions. Check out my previous post - How to hate the Hate groups - for my feelings on this strange turn of events.

Controversy over proposed civil war memorial
WMC-TV - Memphis,TN,USA

A proposed Civil War memorial in the south and it’s deemed racist by a specific group? Most people wouldn’t think twice, except that it’s for African-American Union soldiers and it’s ignoring Confederate soldiers of the same race. Check out my previous post - Do we care about the monuments? - on my thoughts on if we really care about what the monuments and memorials are really about.

Massachusetts Civil War dead brought home
Boston Herald - United States

This is a continuation of last week’s stories on Union soldiers returning to the Bay State and their long overdue funeral. The article also includes a great slide show of the events themselves.

Flanders donates Civil War library to Mount AnthonyBennington Banner - Bennington,VT,USA

Books have been a big thing lately with the blogs, with one blogger even questioning, what will happen to some of the collections out there? Looks like we have an answer to at least one of them.

Gettysburg Welcomes Wildhorn's "New" Civil War Musical, For the Glory - New York,NY,USA

Broadway, Civil War and Gettysburg – what a combination – read to believe.
Did Lincoln Blunder Into War?
American Heritage – USA

This is a review of the book, “Mr. Lincoln Goes to War” and with a headline like that, you know you have to read the story. After reading the review, I doubt I’ll be reading the book.

Civil War Exposure
Independent Florida Alligator - Gainesville,FL,USA

This book looks like it will be very interesting, a coffee table book that shows re-enactors doing what they do best, re-enact. That would be nice but the author adds to it by including quotes from soldiers of the actual war. It looks like the pictures and quotes will work well together, in one way using pictures to bring the quotes to life and to give meaning to the pictures through the quotes.

Friday, June 16, 2006

I picked up a copy of While in the hands of the enemy: Military Prisons of the Civil War by Charles W. Sanders Jr. yesterday. I have to say that the Introduction and first chapter was worth the price of the book. Noting that after the war, the Union was able to write about the prison system in a positive light and that Confederates and their backers have long tried to brush over the horrors of their camps, Mr. Sanders sets off to prove that both sides did horrible things. More importantly it should have been easily preventable by both governments. As I finish up the book I will definitely write a review.

Last night I finished Mayflower : A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick and truly enjoyed it. Mr. Philbrick does a fantastic job of balancing what happened during the first two generations of the Plymouth colony and the causes of some of the major events. Expect a full review soon.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I’ve been reading about memorials over the past week and some controversy around each and it got me thinking.

The first one dealt with a new monument in La Salle County, Illinois where the county decided to build a new monument to replace their original. The issue came that not all the names from the original would make it to the new one. A couple of different reasons were provided, “we couldn’t make the names out” and “there is no record of this person being from our county” being the best.

Yesterday, it was reported that historian Mr. Arthur Webb was looking to create memorials in Memphis for African-American soldiers who fought in the Civil War. A concerned citizen has asked; why not include those who fought for the confederacy? The response, Mr. Webb is “only interested in honoring the contributions of black soldiers who he feels helped unite the country.”

I am sure all of you remember the movie Glory. At the end credits you see a granite monument of soldiers marching. I was in Boston a few years ago and walking out of the State House and towards the Boston Commons. I noticed a bunch of people standing in what appeared to be a bus stop with a large granite slab in back of them. It was the monument from the movie and no one even looked at it, it was just part of the scenery. I couldn’t even get a picture because no one would move.

My great, great grandfather once took my grandfather and his sister to the Plympton Town Green. There was a new memorial just put up, dedicated in memory of the town citizens who had fought for the Union. Not every soldier had died yet but the town fathers did not want to pay twice for engraving, so they put everyone’s name up at once. My GG grandfather found it funny that in honoring him; they couldn’t wait for him to die and wanted to show it to his grandchildren.

The above stories make me wonder if anyone really cares about what the monuments/memorials really stand for. If they did, would there be more interest, more dedication, and more emphasis on getting it right or would they just let it go as is?

So, are we honoring the men, the nation, the ideals with these monuments and memorials, or are we just trying to make ouselves feel better?
If I were to ask you who started World War II, what would you say? I am willing to bet that most people would say Hitler or the country of Germany. The US did not get into it until after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor but for citizens of many European countries, they had the misfortune of being in front of the Blitzkrieg war machine that almost gobbled up the continent.

So it was with some confusion that I read a story on Fox News dealing with one Mr. Ted Junker of Wisconsin. It seems that Mr. Junker had served in a Nazi SS Unit before moving to America and feels that Hitler is just misunderstood. To help better educate the world or at the very least his neighbors, he is building a museum on his farm dedicated to the man who has been credited with starting a war that tore across the world for almost 6 years.

It sounds awful familiar to what we see in Civil War circles today. All those hard questions 140 years after the war that no one agrees with each others answer but sure are causing so much discord. Who started the Civil War? Why did it start? What about slavery?

It is now almost 61 years after the end of WWII and yet we all seem to know that Mr. Junker is well off the mark with thought process. What would have the Americans of 1926 think of our beliefs on the cause and start of the Civil War? Are we a bit off?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It’s “Adventures in Research Day” where we get to talk a bit about our (mis)Adventures researching the Civil War and the 18th Massachusetts.

One of the tools that I feel has had the greatest impact for us has been having a website. It’s amazing to think that what started off 10 years ago as an offshoot of a genealogy website has become such a big part of our research and life.

It was the website that brought Donald and I together and I still remember thinking to myself, “Who is this crazy guy thinking we could write a book about the 18th?” when he first proposed working together. Thank goodness I decided he wasn’t crazy after all.

It was the website that brought dozens of other descendants to us, sharing pictures, obituaries and stories of their ancestors from after the war. It was these personal items and notes that we could never have found scouring the internet, libraries and historical societies. I am thankful each time I look at them and think how helpful some people in the Civil War Research community can be.

It was actually the website that brought me together with my GG-Grandfather’s Civil War artifacts. The original seller found me on the web and contacted me about them. Sometimes all you have to do is sit and wait for people to come to you.

And to be honest, it’s not as hard as people think. I knew nothing about website building than - although some people would say I still don’t – I won’t argue. The first site took about 10 minutes to build and it looked like it. It had a short history of the unit and a paragraph begging people to help me find more information out. As I found more information out, I posted it. In today’s world it is even easier, with software that does all of the hard work for you much different then when I had to figure out HTML by trial and error.

It does not have to be a big production, sometimes simple works just as well. I have been impressed more times by a site that had just a page or two of good information than a flashy page that gave you nothing of substance but lots of graphics and sounds to drive you nuts.

You can find cheap ways to put the sites together. When we started, I used GeoCities which offered free websites and building tools. Although I know there are still free places out there, we currently use doteasy which registers the domain and then has a host for free option.

The biggest thing, don’t expect to get a lot of hits. Advertise your site so that people can find you but Regimental pages as a whole are very niche and unless someone has a personal interest in it – you probably won’t see them often.

Just don’t get discouraged, keep on pushing forward. It seems whenever I am at that point, that another descendant emails me asking if I would like a picture or tidbit of information on their ancestor – something we didn’t have before that now helps us paint an even better picture of the unit. Something that would not have happened with the little webpage I put up on a whim so long ago.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Have you ever heard of the ESPN Palmetto Bowl? Unless you live in the Charleston, SC area there is a pretty good chance that you haven’t.

A few years ago, ESPN decided it wanted to put together a new bowl game and at the same time The Citadel was planning on rebuilding its football stadium. The NCAA had pretty much agreed to letting there be another game; they just needed to find the perfect spot. So ESPN got together with The Citadel and some state legislators and came up with a plan where the college would add several thousand seats to its stadium plans and ESPN and the state would, for the most part pay for the addition. There was just one small problem.

The NAACP still had a tourism boycott of South Carolina.

This boycott has been going on for years and almost everyone but the NAACP and the NCAA has forgotten about it. Why is there a boycott? In the simplest sense, in the early 60’s, SC put the Confederate Battle flag on top of the statehouse dome. Some say it was to honor the Confederate Soldiers of the state, others to protest the Civil Rights movement but for whatever reason, it had been flying for 30 years. So most (white) lawmakers thought it should continue while at the same time others found it offensive and divisive and wanted it down. While one group claimed the flag was about “heritage not hate” the other group claimed that the hate groups had taken it as a symbol of their own – corrupting the meaning of the flag.

After some tug of war, press battles and downright un-southern discussion a compromise was reached between the traditionalists (who wanted it up) led by Senator Glen McConnell of the Hunley fame and the “bring the flag down because it promotes discord” group led by Senator Robert Ford. The compromise saw it come off the dome and placed at a soldier’s memorial on the statehouse grounds.

Now during this time, the NAACP had been threatening a tourism boycott unless the state took the flag down. When the compromise was announced, instead of rejoicing they continued their threat stating that this was not good enough. When even Senator Ford said this was sufficient and they should be happy, everyone thought that would be the end of it, it wasn’t.

So, a state that depends heavily on the tourist dollar got hit with a boycott. I won’t get into the pros and cons of this but will say in the beginning it made a lot of press. The NY Knicks who had their preseason camp at the College of Charleston pulled out. The Family Circle Cup (at the time in Hilton Head, now in Charleston) saw the Williams’ sisters skip over the tournament. Tiger Woods needed to rest after winning the Master’s and could not come to the Heritage Classic. Politicians running for President would not stay at hotels in SC; they would stay in North Carolina, Georgia or houses of supporters. The NCAA decided that some championship level games (read bowl games) could not be played in SC but other things like baseball tournaments could be held.

And like many things, over time everyone seemed to forget about it, except for the NAACP and the NCAA. So just as ESPN, SC and The Citadel were about to implement the stadium plans for the ESPN Palmetto Bowl, someone reminded them that the NCAA still had a boycott and would not allow them to play it in SC. So, the Palmetto Bowl was scrapped just before becoming a reality.

This is what happens when no one speaks up against hate groups.

For years the white supremacist hate groups latched on to the Confederate Battle Flag and what they thought the Confederacy stood for and no one said anything. So by the time the NAACP started looking at SC to bring the flag down, hearing groups of people try to claim “heritage not hate” fell on deaf and disbelieving ears. The flag had effectively become a tool of racism.

Mr. Mike Koepke at Mike’s Civil War Musings discusses the recent events at Antietam National Battlefield where members of the KKK and other various white supremacists groups got together to rally their cause. In this case it meant some 30 racists, 30 protesters of said racists and 200 law enforcement agents got to spend some time together on the battlefield.

Mr. Koepke puts forth that we should ignore the racists and they will eventually go away, unfortunately I disagree. They need to be shown that there is no place for their type of thinking in America and that no one agrees with them. History has a long list of whack jobs that were ignored at first only to cause major problems in the long run. Or worse, what would be the next item that they would ruin in their name? Could the actual battlefields be next? You may scoff at this but take a look at what has happened to the Battle Flag and think again.

What do I feel should be done? Two things, we should show up in force at the rallies voicing our concern and give them as much press as they want.

Yes they have freedom of speech but so do I. Whenever they show up, the protesters should show up in mass – not just a few. Time and time again the racists have a rally that almost none of their own show up too. Imagine if everywhere they go they are outnumbered 10 to 1. They will show an initial strong face, stating that this means nothing but after rally after rally after rally, most will eventually see that no one agrees with them.

I have often heard that “no press is bad press” but you just need to listen to Mr. Daniel Carver on the Howard Stern show to see where that is wrong. Mr. Stern lets this admitted racist have a huge market but no one takes him serious, they make fun of him. Not just while Mr. Carver is on the air but ongoing afterwards. It is amazing the amount of stupid things this guy continuously says and that he actually believes it.

To millions of listeners he is the spokesperson for the white supremacist movement and he comes off as an idiot. So instead of converting anyone, he is affirming how bad of an idea the whole racist movement is. After a while, the movement becomes just what the presenter is – a joke. And it is for these reasons I believe we should let them have as much press as possible – not to give them validation but instead to help seal their downfall.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

No – not reviews but just a look at the books that I am currently reading with a brief summary. Soon though, there should be a review every week or so.

It might surprise you to know that the two books I am currently reading have NOTHING to do with the Civil War. I have quite an eclectic taste in books so often, I’ll walk through a bookstore and pick up all sorts of crazy things. Today I picked up an Amazing Spider Man that is part of Marvel Comics Civil War storyline. No it’s not about “our” Civil War, it’s about the Super Heroes of the Marvel Universe (think X-Men, Captain America, Spiderman and Iron Man) in conflict with one another and the Federal Government on one side. I then went out to a couple of the local comic book stores to catch up on the series. My children are reading them now and I am back to "regular" books.

Books that I am reading now
I’ll have reviews up for these as I finish them

Mayflower : A Story of Courage, Community, and War
by Nathaniel Philbrick
This book opens up the Pilgrims and the Massachusetts area colonies like never before. From the difficulties founding the Plymouth colony to a time of decent living to the beginning of King Phillips War – and this is just the first half of the book – it shows our founding fathers in perhaps the most honest light ever – a light that is not always nice.

As you read the book, you can see the beginning of American politics, military direction, “national direction” that still exists to this day.

Parish Priest : Father Michael McGivney and American Catholicism
by Douglas Brinkley, Julie Fenster
A parish priest from a factory town in Connecticut, dead before 40, his legacy would be the small group that he founded that would become one of the largest lay Catholic organizations in America and the world – the Knights of Columbus. The book tells of his time as a priest and the trials he would face in the Anti-Catholic feelings of the day.

Books that I have recently finished
Andersonville Violets.
By Herbert Collingwood
I’ve done a previous post on this book so you know about it already. Yes it’s formulaic but just throw that thought out and enjoy the book

Carrying The Flag: The Story of Private Charles Whilden, the Confederacy's Most Unlikely Hero
by Gordon C. Rhea">
I think one of the problems with most books on the Civil War is the reliance on battles, generals and other high ranking officers. Yet most of those that took part in the war were enlisted men.

Much like his previous books, Mr Rhea takes a unique look at the war and battles and in this case one soldier. Here is a book that shows the impact of what one man, who really didn’t do well during the war, had a huge impact on a battle and what would happen to him after the war.

Mr Rhea lives in the Charleston area and I have had the opportunity to hear him speak on the war. If you ever get a chance to see him, do everything possible to do so. First though, pick up this book.

Books that have perked my interest

A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co. K, Twelfth Kansas Infantry
Edited and annotated by Tom Wing
As mentioned above, I am interested in the soldier stories and this looks like a very intriguing.

While in the hands of the enemy: Military Prisons of the Civil War
by Charles W. Sanders Jr.
General James Barnes – first commanding officer of the 18th Massachusetts – would spend some time in charge of Point Lookout. Thomas Mann wrote a scathing article after the war describing his treatment in Andersonville and other southern prison camps. Not to mention that there were many other soldiers from the 18th that would spend time in a POW camp. From the reviews I have seen, this will become the definitive book on POW camps. This looks like a no brainer read!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A look at some of the Civil War news that we found interesting this week. In the future, let us know if you know of a link that we should include.

Civil War POWs suffered
The Free Lance-Star - Fredericksburg,VA,USA
Here is a book review on prisons of both sides of the conflict and why the acted the way they did. After Gettysburg, General James Barnes (first Commanding Officer of the 18th) was in charge of Point Lookout towards the end of the war– looks like I will be getting this one.

Civil War burial draws praise and cries of disrespect – Boston, Ma
Interesting story about finding buried soldiers and bringing them home, just not quite going all the way and finding out exactly who they are. An underlying current in the story but not fully looked into is that where they were originally found was being developed by a McDonalds – we continue to lose our heritage and history but at least we have a place to get a dollar double cheeseburger

Remains of Civil War vets make long journey home
Milford Daily News - Milford, Ma
A slightly different take on the soldiers coming home and how a funeral director is reproducing a civil war era funeral for them. For those of you who don’t know, the funeral home business really took off in the Civil War as family members wanted their loved ones to be buried in the town plots, not in battlefields far away. The foundation of modern day embalming was laid as a direct result of the Civil War.

Film focuses on how Civil War impacted civilian life here -
The Freelance-Star – Fredericksburg, Va
I laughed in a sick sort of way at the opening paragraph –
Before the Fredericksburg area was occupied, camped on, marched across, fought over, looted, bombarded and burned during the Civil War, it was a thriving community of homes, farms and businesses.
The editor of “Fighting with the Eighteenth” – a book written by a soldier in the 18th Massachusetts – John Hennessy is heavily quoted within the article. Take a moment and think of the citizens of Bagdad will be doing the same thing 150 years from now.

St. Joseph Ready for Pony Express and Civil War Anniversaries

Kansas City infoZine - Kansas City,MO,USA
I didn’t get the connection either so don’t feel bad – then I read the article and there really is a connection.

Re-enactors enliven Civil War history
Business Gazette - Gaithersburg,MD,USA
A nice article on three friends who reenact

Tom Wing's Book Shows Civil War through Diary of Soldier

UA Fort Smith News - Fort Smith,AR,USA
Book review of a private in the Union Army. I am happy to see this as I feel too often books dwell on the massive armies and their commanders even though it was the individual soldiers who carried the day. I will be getting this one.

CIVIL WAR MONUMENT: Not every name to get new listing - Ottawa,IL,USA
New plaza to enhance 1873 La Salle County Civil War monument - Ottawa,IL,USA
One of those good news/bad news things. They are recreating a monument but not all the names are being re-inscribed. There are some good reasons but if I had been in charge, I would have tried to make it as much like the original as possible.

Civil War Sites, Part II

Washington Post - United States
An article on some of the great Civil War sites in Virginia

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Today has been one heck of a crazy day. The site’s hit count has gone through the roof. So big, it is currently ranked 3rd in the Civil War Top 100 sites.

Looking at the referrers, it has been all over the map. We have had four blog sites welcome us to the fold - Stike the Tent, behind AotW, Rantings of a Civil War Historian and American Civil War Gaming and Reading Blog. All were nice of enough to devote an enrty provide links to the site

Another cool link was from a web site called Stumble Upon, where you download a toolbar, create some settings and press a button that randomly brings you to a site. Pretty neat and I found some amazing History sites out there.

Thanks to everyone for making this a success. Remember, subscribe to the RSS feed and click the ads. It’s painless and helps keep the blog going!

And most of all, don't forget to come back.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


That’s right; I just held a book that was published in 1889. It is in pretty good shape for a book that is 117 years old; I would even call it beautiful. Something about holding the antique book is just mesmerizing. But it invokes a lot of questions.

The book – see the first question already? Andersonville Violets.

You have never heard of Andersonville Violets? Too be honest, that does not surprise me. It was written by Herbert Collingwood, the son of Captain Joseph Collingwood, Company H of the 18th Massachusetts. Although the book tells the tale of two men who cross paths in Andersonville and then again later in life; it is not a veiled attempt to portray his father. Joseph died long before Andersonville became a horror, shot during the battle of Fredericksburg. At the time, Herbert was but a small boy who would grow up without a father. Even so, he would do well in his life as a reporter, editor and author.

There is an inscription in it; I can’t really make it out. It seems to mention a birthday. It makes me wonder who wrote it, who received it, why did they think the book should be given as a gift? Did they like it, did they even read it or maybe just placed it somewhere to collect dust.

The style of writing is different than today’s novels. Remember how your English teacher tried to convince you that Shakespeare was just as relevant and hip today as it was in the 17th century? But you never believed what they said, did you? Yes, it is similar to that – a style that is just different than today’s style. Don’t expect to be reading an Updike, Heinlien, Gaiman or even a King. Let it be like your secret TV vice, you know that show you are embarrassed to admit you watch much yet like. No one would believe you do and if they found out, they would make fun of you. Mine is the Ultimate Fighter, let the teasing begin. This book is similar; it is good and smooth but not a classic. If other people read it, they might just think I have no taste.

More questions as I ponder. How many people owned this book? I wonder their stories, their thoughts, the reason it was given to the next owner. How did I end up buying it off of eBay?

Besides the connection with Collingwood, it has a special place in my heart. It was republished in 2000 with a special introduction, where we are mentioned. It was nice to see our name in print. Now I have both the 2000 and 1889 book. I’ve read it twice; both times thinking that it is a nice book.

I don’t know many of the questions the book has caused me to ask but I do know this, it is a special book. It is being put in a special place – right next to my favorite books on a top shelf where the kids can’t get it. At this point, who cares about all these questions or what the other owners thought, I have a treasure that they were foolish to give up.

So what is this whole blog thing anyway? In its simplest definition, it’s an online journal. In this case it is an easy way for the web guys of and co-Authors of “The Civil War Research Guide” to communicate on a regular basis to you, our audience.

You could ask, isn’t that what the website itself is for, and the answer would be “Yes but it’s not as easy for us or you.”

By doing the blog we are able to just throw some thoughts out with ease and not have to come up with a specific page or all of the weird html code to make it look nice. Needless to say, in the last week there have been more updates to the blog than we have in the past three years on the website itself.

So what is planned? Well, we are still shaking it all out but we do hope to continue to update often and with specific categories in mind. Already Civil War News of the Week has been a huge hit, so expect that at least weekly. Since we just happened to write a book on researching the Civil War we have some “Adventures in Researching” planned out and of course tips and tricks to help you in your adventures. Finally, we will throw random thoughts here and there as the mood hits us.

What do we hope from you? Well three small things –
1. Comments! Let us know what you think and what you think about what we are sharing. You can also contact us directly via our main page if you would like to speak privately.

2. Click on the ads to the right– its painless for you and helps us in our cause to save Civil War history. Take a look at our lost history to see just how expensive it can be.

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Thanks for stopping by and we hope to see you again soon.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A collection of this weeks most interesting news articles on the Civil War. No, it doesn't matter if they are Union or Confederate.

Lost Letters return home
The Courier-Journal - Louisville, Ky

Civil War letters come home
'meet you all in aland wher frinds never part'
Amazing discovery of civil war letters, I only wish we had been able to discover more like this for the 18th, thankfully we have a few.

Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery, Al
Alabama pushes Civil War tourism - State banks on Civil War tourism
The state is usining its history in order to attract tourists - too bad more areas are not afraid of proclaiming their history.

97th NY remembered

WEAN News 10 – Syracuse, NY

Town honors local Civil War regiment
It’s nice to see monuments being taken care of instead of letting fall apart

Intersting article about reenacting Civil War surgeries. Every time I see a Civil War doctor's kit, I am reminded more of my father's tool box than a medical kit. Surgeries were quite gruesome to say the least....

The Frederick News-Post - Frederick, MD
Civil War surgeries re-enacted

Sunday, June 04, 2006

This is not too suprising to me, my Army ROTC professor had us read
The Killer Angels as part of our leadership training and that was 15 years ago.

Daily - Hampton Roads, Virginia
Civil War offers tips for modern combat
A look back at errors fosters 21st-century doctrine, says a military instructor of top officers.
The State - Columbia, SC
Audit urged of Hunley spending

Saturday, June 03, 2006


No, this is not my impression of a pirate – it’s my never ending frustration of the lost history of Edmund Churchill. If you have not read about it yet, check out Lost History and learn why I would be so frustrated. But that is normal, why am I more so than normal?

Well, I did just what we suggest in the Civil War Research Guide, use the internet on a frequent basis to search for new information on the unit and its soldiers. Last night I was taking a break from rebuilding the site and creating this blog, when I found some more of my Great-Great Grandfather’s stuff for sale.

For just $1200 I could own my family's stuff again. Great deal isn’t it? On the bright side I was able to find a picture of him after the war when he was a bit older and was able to crop it for below.

Although you won’t always like what you find, often times something cool will come out of it.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Sci-Fi fans may recognize the title from something a Vorlon once said concerning the start of war in the future. It is with a bit of irony that I use it as title for the beginning of our new website, complete with a blog, concerning a group of men who fought in a war so long ago.

In the future, we will have postings that actually deal with the unit or the war. For now, let’s just say we will be back soon….

From deep in the heart of the rebellion