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This is the archive for July 2006

Monday, July 31, 2006

I’ve been reading Ken Burger’s editorials for close to two decades and Sunday’s was perhaps his best. Although the Sports Editor for Charleston’s Post and Courier, he tackled a bigger issue, taking the Confederate Battle Flag off of state property.

I have previously posted on what the flag has cost the state of South Carolina, so you might want to read this first.

Time to take down that flag
Ken Burger – Charleston Post and Courier – July 30, 2006 http://www.charleston.net/stories/?newsID=100131§ion=sports

There is a time and place for everything, and that time and place has come for the state of South Carolina.
After years of flying the Confederate flag in the face of the world to show everybody how defiant we are, it's time to reconcile and move on.

Why? Because it's going to continue to cost us money and a whole lot more. Our dignity.

Since the flag was removed from the Statehouse dome a few years back and placed on the lawn of the state capitol in a legislative compromise, the Palmetto State has been trying to ignore a tourism boycott initiated by the NAACP.

To be honest, the impact of the boycott has been minimal.

Except when it comes to the NCAA.

The rulers of college athletics have denied us lucrative college basketball regionals and other events as long as the flag flies. Most recently, the flag issue killed a proposal to bring a college bowl game to the Lowcountry.

Folks at The Citadel would someday like to host the I-AA football playoffs once Johnson Hagood Stadium is renovated. But that won't be possible because of the flag.

Now, in a new offensive, the NCAA says it might not allow state schools to host college baseball regionals or super regionals, which are almost annual events at powerhouse schools like South Carolina and Clemson.

Sooner or later, we are going to be forced to deal with the flag issue. Again.
Do we really have to drag this racist ankle-iron from the 19th century into the 21st century?

Damnyankee
If you are in favor of the flag, as many people are, you're already so mad at me you're writing nasty letters and calling me a traitor.

But, truth is, I'm about as South Carolina as you get.

I was born and raised in Allendale, my mother's family has a tap root that runs deep in the Palmetto State, I wear Weejuns without socks, I know how to shag, I'm proud of my southern accent and I was raised to believe damnyankee is one word.

Instead of playing cowboys and Indians when we were little boys, we played Rebels and Yanks. Of course, the Rebels always won because nobody wanted to be a Yankee.

But even as the crow flies, that was a long, long time ago. I grew up in the segregated South and can tell you it wasn't such a pretty place to live.

I'm proud to be part of what South Carolina has become. And what we will become.
Even though we lost the Civil War, the South really did rise again. We literally rose from the ashes of ignorance, arrogance and prejudice to become one of the most desired destinations in the world.
If you don't believe it, ask your neighbors from Ohio how much they paid for their retirement condo.

Wrong reasons
Indeed, the past has been good to those of us in the present.

Our history drives the economic engine that is tourism and we all have an opportunity to enjoy the good life. The only thing holding us back is that flag and some of the people who think flying it somehow honors their ancestors.

Truth is, we fought that war for all the wrong reasons. Many think it was about pride, but it was really about money, an economy dependent on slave labor and a way of life that discriminated against poor whites as much as it did blacks.

Although we are still paying the price for that misguided romance, we have come a long way and will continue to become a better place if we do the right thing.

That is to furl the flag and put it in a museum where it belongs.

Those people who rally behind it are often the same people who want their favorite college coaches to go out and recruit the top athletes around the country. They also want the home team to host a regional or some other championship contest to get the competitive edge. Somehow, they don't see the paradox. Well, this is another war we're going to lose.

And like the first one, the outcome will make South Carolina a better place to call home.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Living in Charleston, SC there is always a wealth of Civil War news and events going on. Unfortunately most have nothing to do with the War itself and instead tend to be people trying to rewrite the war, be it the cause or ending.

Don’t get me wrong, I tend to bring my head up a couple of times a year. I love going to the Civil War show (think a Star Trek convention but instead of Trekkie nerds, you have Civil War nerds), I like going to one of the reenactments, mainly for the food and I head over to CSA galleries during their sales, hoping one day to find some union art that will take my fancy. Of course I can’t forget the Daniel Library Friends of The Citadel who put on a wonderful author lecture series each year, which always features a few Civil War authors.

The big thing in the Charleston area over the last few years (besides the NAACP boycott of SC due to the Confederate battle flag flying on state grounds) is the raising of the CSS Hunley. And there have been some crazy things happening as of late, so I thought I would start posting on them.

For those of you who are unaware of the Hunley, it has the distinction of being the first submarine to sink an enemy ship during war. It also liked to sink, a lot. Before sinking its ship, it sunk twice as it practiced – and then after sinking the USS Housatonic, the Hunley sunk again.



Fast forward to present day and author Clive Cussler goes exploring and finds the wreck, the state gathers some money and raises it and now it’s in a lab being poked and prodded for all of its secrets and getting refurbishing too. When the refurbishment is complete, it has too find a home and that has been a little tricky. There are three major cities in the Charleston area – Charleston, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant - and they are all fighting to be the home.

The leaders of each city have great points on why it belongs in their city.

The City of Charleston has the oldest museum in America and gets the most tourists in its downtown area, so it would make sense to put it there.

Mount Pleasant has Patriots Point, a floating Naval Museum, so it has the best experience with ships. Plus all the Navy historians already go there so the tourists that want to see the Hunley, are going to be in Mount Pleasant to begin with. As far as Civil War enthusiasts go, almost half of the tourists who go to Fort Sumter depart from that location.

North Charleston currently gets few tourists but is in the midst of redeveloping the property that was once the Charleston Navy Base from a blighted eye sore to a new community. It had partnered with Noisette, a private company to finance and do the actual work but there were a few bumps in the road. But guess what? North Charleston has the upper hand in landing the museum, why you ask? Simple, it is willing to put money and a lot of it to keep the Hunley in the city that it’s being refurbished in. So the city was announced as the winner but no formal document was signed.



Within the past week North Charleston has started to cut ties with Noisette and a divorce settlement is being hammered out. As the public makes its way through reading the lengthy document, a surprising factoid has appeared. North Charleston will still be given the land needed to build the museum but it will give Noisette the right to build condos and offices above and next to the museum.

Unfortunately, this could be a breaking point for North Charleston receiving the Hunley.
The Hunley Commission, the group charged with preserving the Hunley, does not like this idea at all and two have stated that they will not allow the Hunley to stay if the deal is not changed, city council members are now stating that they are getting a bum deal from Noisette (even though they originally said they agreed to the plan) and the Mayor of North Charleston is trying to calm everyone down.

I don’t know what is going to happen but will be watching it closely.

Why? Because it has better drama than anything on TV right now and I love watching politicians fight over the Civil War, especially when most know nothing about it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Did you know that a company has decided to trademark the words "Civil War"?

I was just as surprised as you, so let me give you some background.

Marvel Comics
, the Comic Book company that has created such characters as Spiderman, The Hulk, Captain America, The Fantastic Four and The XMen, currently is going through a Civil War among its super heroes. After a series of events that saw the public growing weary of the destruction that follows a Hero vs. Villain fight, the last straw comes as a battle results in the destruction of a school and neighborhood along with the death of many in in the area.

The US government passes legislation titled the Superhuman Registration Act, requiring all superheroes - "intending to register all super-powered beings as living weapons of mass destruction and requiring all costumed heroes to unmask themselves before the government and subject themselves to federally mandated standards." Those that don't join are declared outlaws and subject to arrest and prosecution. Any person that helps a fugitive hero is also subject to persecution. You can read more about it by going here.

Although not into comics as much as I was when I was a child, my two sons are becoming huge fans. So each week I take them to the local Comic Book store and they pick up a few books. I've been picking up the Civil War issues as it has been quite interesting watching the heroes that I grew up with, that were friends and always fighting a common enemy, split and become enemies themselves. Captain America, the living embodiment of America (in the Marvel Universe), the hero that actually works for the government, goes underground and gathers up other heroes who disagree with the SRA in a resistance movement.

It has been a huge windfall for Marvel, selling comics at a rate that has not been seen for almost a decade and they are making money hand over foot. And they look to be trying to "protect" their earning potential with the use of a trademark. Previous issues did not have a TM but the issues released this week, did. They even have one of their characters comment on it during a soliloquy in the beginning of his book -



"Once, a tragic divide rocked the stars and stripes. Civil strife pitched brother against brother, blue against grey.

It was a terrible time, blood and guts and everything in very depressing sepia.

It was called the War Between the States, but now we call it The Civil War, Like we own the title or something...

... and now Marvel has their very own Civil War tm -- do we have a tm? We are talking about trademark lawyers who once tried to put a tm on the word Death tm..."

- Cable and Deadpool, issue 30, July 2006


So I went to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and did a search on "Civil War" and returned 59 TM applications for the words Civil War, either by themselves or as part of a larger statement. Most are part of titles like "Where the Civil War began" or a logo as in "American Civil War Musueum" but there is no mention of Marvel's TM. There is one for Take Two entertainment, a video game developer for "American Civil War" which seams pretty strange too.

I guess I am wondering just what is being trademarked and how does it affect me?

I'm going to assume it's for the comic book media only. If it is - does that mean the next publisher that tries to create a series on the Civil War, yes the real one, not one with Super Heroes, is going to be sued by Marvel because they own the rights? Maybe it's all too silly and I shouldn't worry at all.

But then again, what if its not? Before you answer you have to be kidding, read this interesting tale of a woman, a restaurant and an electronics company, all with the same name. Funny how the little guy seems to lose in a situation like this.

Monday, July 24, 2006

About a month ago I was reading various Civil War news stories when I came across one talking about the book "A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co. K, Twelfth Kansas Infantry”. This book is an edited diary of a Civil War soldier assigned to the Western Theater.

The next day I went about getting myself a copy and later posted a review of this strangely compelling book. Since it’s a diary, there is no plot - just statements of what Strong went through and that was a lot of marching. But among all the marching, one sees what an average soldier in the Western Theater went through and how the civil war affected the soldiers and the areas they marched through.



I thought it would be interesting to go one step further and have an interview with the editor, Tom Wing, and he graciously agreed to put up with me asking some questions and not make fun of me not knowing what (e)Uchre was.

Mr. Wing currently teaches at the University of Arkansas, is a former National Park Service Ranger, and a pretty good editor.
“A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co. K, Twelfth Kansas Infantry” is available from the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and can be purchased from the website. – something I would encourage you to do so.

Without further ado, here is the interview

To begin with, I thought I would give you a chance to talk about the review, especially if you felt that I was wrong on any point.

I enjoyed your review, I was particularly interested in perspective of the work from outside the Transmississippi…your comments have been valuable.

I understand you recently received an award from the Kansas National Guard, could you tell us a bit about it and how it came about?

Brigadier General Jonathan P. Small, Assistant Adjutant General of the State of Kansas gave me a small award for excellence for my work on the book. He came to the book signing at Mine Creek Battlefield July 8. It was an honor to meet him and tell him about Private Henry Strong. General Small and his staff flew in on a Blackhawk helicopter and also conducted a staff ride of the battlefield with Arnold Schofield, the Superintendent. It was great to meet the modern Assistant Adjutant General because much of the information on the Kansas soldiers in the book came for the Adjutant General’s Report of the State of Kansas and was written immediately after the war.


I heard you had an awesome reception at the Fort Smith public library where 50 books were bought outright and another 40 had to be ordered – can you tell us about the experience?

Over 80 people attended and according to the library staff is was one of the largest signings they had hosted. Old friends, colleagues, family, and even my 10th grade English teacher came to the talk. It was humbling to have so many people interested in the book. We sold out and took orders for more. My wife Renee’, our four sons, Jerry Allen, Justin, Jake, and Jackson as well as my parents Joe and Shirley Wing were present. It was a special night, one I will never forget.

Have you had any other encounters as cool as that?

No, I would say I haven’t…the only one that would compare was my going away party when I left the National Park Service to come to the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. The support and expressions of friendship that day were equally humbling for me. It is a wonderful feeling to be appreciated for your work.

Realistically, how did you expect the book to be received and compare it to how it has been received?

The book has been received somewhat better than I expected. Mainly by the general publics interest has been a little surprising. I felt the Civil War readers would find it significant but it has been exciting to see the interest in others outside the Civil War community.

One of the things mentioned in the introduction of the book is the lack of Western Theater History in the modern Civil War Scholarly world – what are your thoughts on the cause of this?

This topic would make a good dissertation. I think that over the years, the scholarship on the war has focused on the East mostly from a perception of significance. As general histories have covered the war, sometimes hitting only the major battles, most of which are in the east, the war in the west has taken a back seat. I believe we are at a crossroads of understanding where we can gain insight to the big picture of the war by continuing to add western theater scholarship to the large body of eastern oriented work. As a western theater scholar, my desire is to show that we have an equally compelling story west of the Mississippi River, than we do east of it. Ed Bearss has researched and written on the war for years, he and I have had this conversation that usually ends with the statement along the lines: “the war in the west is a diamond waiting to be discovered.”

And how about on why complete diaries seem to be as "scarce as hen's teeth?"

In this case, an enlisted diary of a federal soldier in Arkansas, full of description and detail makes this a unique document. Written without agenda, the diary is an important record that adds to the primary source material on the war in Arkansas. Some diaries have not survived and the simple fact that few have come to light from the western theater speaks to scarcity.

Many people have made fun of my lack of knowledge on Euchre, or Uchre as Henry calls it. Was there anything else interesting that you discovered while researching?

The James Montgomery connection, especially with him being portrayed in the movie “Glory” was exciting for me. The incident where the girl from Arkansas offers Strong a chew of tobacco at a dance was fun as well. The photos of Fort Smith and the troops on Garrison Avenue for inspection came about in an interesting way. I received a call from Jules Martino, a retired policeman in Oregon who had acquired the photos in an estate sale. After verifying they were in Fort Smith, he mentioned they were dated November 12, 1864. He asked if I knew what was happening that day to require troops on parade. A quick look in Henry Strong’s diary discussed the inspection by General Frances Herron that day.

Henry mentions going to Catholic Mass in two of his entries – do you feel this was out of inquisitiveness or boredom?

I think it was a combination of both, Strong seems to be very curious as he writes about his experiences and he mentions the monotony of camp life often. Church services were important diversions for the soldiers and a connection to homelife.

Was there anything that popped out that you weren't expecting and just amazed at what you had in your hands?

The Strong Diary has answered a number of questions concerning the war in Arkansas. One thing in particular we verified from the narrative was the attack on the garrison of Fort Smith in 1864. The official records account is sketchy and the local newspaper unclear as to the event. Strong however describes in detail, the confederate artillery fire from across the river, doing no damage but creating a nuisance. The confederates hid behind the trees and changed locations numerous times. Strong’s company was later detailed to go across the river and clear the trees to keep the rebels from returning and causing more problems.

So what's next for you?

I have a chapter in a book entitled “The Earth Reeled and the Trees Trembled”
Civil War Arkansas, 1863-6 The chapter is titled: “The Sink of Iniquity and Corruption”: The Civil War in Fort Smith and Indian Territory The book is due out this fall.

Finally questions that you wish I had asked but did not?

I really can't think of any…

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Growing up the son of a Navy man, ships and naval history were always a big thing in my family. My father also loved the story around the Battle of Hampton Roads where the two ironclads the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (still fondly remembered by me as the Merrimack) and would point out the painting of the battle at USNH – Beaufort every time we passed it.

So it was nice to read this article about Connecticut scientists spending some time at the site of the wreck of the USS Monitor and mapping the area. What is really cool is that you can view what is going on under water. You can view the schedule by going here and view what’s going on here.
A friend and I were talking the other day and we got on the subject of blogging. When I mentioned that I blogged, he asked on what. As I started to explain that it was on the Civil War, he interrupted, “You know that it’s over don’t you?”

I misunderstood him at first and thought he was talking about the trend of blogging – when I realized, nope he was talking about the Civil War.

Oh well, I am a bit behind the times…..

Sunday, July 16, 2006

We sent the following to the editors on July 5th in responsed to their article on Samuel Jordan - as of today, it has not been published.

Good Evening,

We read Mr. James Buckley's article titled Civil War took arm of a Franklin Man (June 30, 2006) with interest. The three of us have been researching the 18 th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry for some combined 50 years, have run a website for the unit for 10 years, run a daily blog on the Civil War, wrote "The Civil War Research Guide" based upon our experiences, and more importantly, Donald is a descendant of Stephen Jordan, the soldier in question.

We would have been glad to have helped Mr. Buckley in this article if he had only asked. Because of the extensive research, we could have offered a biography written by Donald, pension and military records as well as family history. Instead it seems Mr. Buckley used standard resources that only scratched the surface and didn't dig any deeper to reach his conclusions.
Although the fight where Stephen lost his arm may have been deemed indecisive, that does not mean it was in vain as Mr. Buckly asserts. United States soldiers never fight in vain when they fight for our country, this as true today as it was in the Civil War. What might have happened if Mr. Jordan and the rest of the Union soldiers who were injured or killed had not fought? At that point, it could very well have been a Confederate victory – much worse than indecisive. In our eyes, the worst part of the battle is not the outcome between the two sides that bloody day so long ago but that the battlefield has been lost to the world, paved over by progress.

Because of our extensive research that we have collected, we could have also helped by providing a better conclusion to the article. Since we knew of Stephen's fiery temper, it is doubtful that he sat around in self pity as Mr. Buckley puts forward. Instead he could have told of how he got on with his life and started his own teamster company and later bought his family homestead and farmed, just like he did before he went to war.

But we weren't asked and couldn't provide anything until now, so we offer Mr. Jordan's biography as written by Donald and a picture of Stephen after the war. We will also ask that if any reader is a descendant of a soldier from the 18 th or has any information about the unit to contact us at http://www.18thmass.com.

Tom Churchill
Steve McManus
Donald Thompson

Co-Authors – "The Civil War Research Guide"
18th Massachusetts online – www.18thmass.com
Touch the Elbow – Blogging the Civil War – www.18thmass.com/blog
Biography on Samuel Harris Jordan (great-great-grandfather of Donald L. Thompson):



Born in Franklin, MA on October 14, 1845, he was the son of Alfred and Sarah L. (Pitcher) Jordan. He enlisted in the 45th Massachusetts Regiment of Volunteer Militia, "The Cadet Corps" on September 10, 1862, one month shy of his seventeenth birthday, for a nine month enlistment. He was assigned to Company C and was mustered at Camp Meigs, Readville, MA on Sept. 26, 1862.

The Regiment embarked in the steamship Mississippi and sailed to Beaufort, NC on November 5, where they were assigned to Amory's Brigade, Foster's Division. Their first action was at Kingston , NC, where they lost 15 killed and 43 wounded. On Dec. 16, 1862 at Whitehall the loss was 4 killed and 16 wounded. On April 23, 1863 the regiment assaulted and captured a Confederate position astride a railroad near Goldsboro, losing one killed and four wounded. The regiment performed guard duty in several cities and then embarked for Boston, where they arrived on June 30, 1863 and were disbanded on July 8, 1863.

Again with parental consent, he re-enlisted as a Veteran Recruit with the 18th Massachusetts, receiving a bonus of $325. Family tradition holds that he was recruited by his future father-in-law, George Washington Thompson, a Sergeant in Company I.

On June 1, 1864 the regiment engaged in a fire fight at Bethesda Church, VA, where Samuel suffered a wound in the left fore arm, a minnie ball penetrating and shattering the arm. He was removed to a medical aid station, with the assistance of William F. King, of Company I, and at the aid station had his arm amputated.

His records reflect that on October 21, 1864 he was transferred to Co. G of the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry, where the first entry on the Company muster roll indicated he was "Absent Wounded." On February 1, 1865 he was recorded as being wounded sick in the Army Hospital, Broad St., Philadelphia. He was later transferred to Dale Army Hospital in Worcester from which he was release on April 20, 1865. He received a disability discharge from the Army on May 12, 1865.

Following his discharge from military service he married Alice Jane Thompson in Woonsocket, R.I. on Sept. 15, 1865. She was the daughter George W. and Joana C. (Keen) Thompson and 15 years of age at the time of the marriage. George Thompson was a sergeant in Co. I, 18th Massachusetts Infantry, and was responsible for the re-enlistment of Samuel Jordan in the 18th Mass. This couple had nine children, including Henry Lincoln, born Oct. 20, 1867; Frank A., born Oct. 10, 1869; William Warren, born April 24, 1875; Ethel Zeolide, born June 6, 1878; Alfred Almond, born March 4, 1880; Roscoe Alton, born Oct. 6, 1881; Eva Fostina, born March 28, 1884; Irvin Forest, born March 28, 1884; and Clara Etta, born Feb. 22, 1892.

Samuel Jordan purchased land in Wrentham, MA on Dec. 17, 1867, in an area now incorporated into Norfolk, MA. During this period he began his own teamster business, hauling produce from the woolen mills in Norfolk and Franklin, MA to the railroad. Considering the disability of having one good arm he was a hardy, independent person to be able to handle situations involved in such a business. After the death of his brother John Warren Jordan in 1891, he evidently purchased the family homestead in Franklin and returned to farming, where he remained until his own death in 1898. From Franklin town reports he owned a horse, two cows, and a heifer. He was a resigstered voter, being listed as having paid a poll tax.

He is reported by his children to have had a fiery temper. He was a member of George Maitland Post, Grand Army of the Republic in Franklin and participated in Memorial Day parades. A photograph, taken about 1895 depicts a serious man with either light or gray hair, a drooping mustache, and wearing an old uniform coat with a medal pinned on the left breast. He applied for a disability pension on June 20, 1865 and received the pension, amount unknown, on certificate 68225.

Samuel Jordan died at his home in Franklin, MA on Dec. 29, 1898 of Bright's disease and was buried in the Union Street Cemetery. Alice Jane Jordan applied for a widow's pension on March 14, 1899 and was granted a pension under certificate 487993. She died in Wrentham, MA on April 17, 1917.

But not this one. We sent a letter to the editor, which was promptly ignored so we thought we would give you the article as one post and our response on another.

Milford Daily News
Milford, Massachusetts
Civil War took the arm of a Franklin man
By James Buckley/ Local Columnist
Friday, June 30, 2006

During the Civil War, men were allowed to select the regiment that they wanted to join. As a result, the majority of fighting men chose to join a regiment filled with men from their town and neighboring towns. The upside of this arrangement was that they felt more comfortable among men from their own region and did not have to spend time adjusting to "foreign" ways. The downside was that if any given regiment had many fatalities in a battle, the town from which they had come had an excessive number of men to mourn.

Samuel Jordan of Franklin decided when he was just three days shy of his seventeenth birthday to join Company "C" of the 45th Massachusetts Regiment, in part because there were a significant number of men from Franklin who had also made the same choice. They included Corporal George T. Woodward, and Privates William Adams, Andrew Alexander, Lowell Adams, Orren (sometimes recorded as Owen) Ballou, Charles Bemis, Edmund Freeman, Walter Fisher, Nathaniel Grow, Francis Glynn and Samuel Hunt.

But when Jordan's enlistment with that unit expired, he decided not to rejoin the 45th Regiment but rather enlisted in the 18th Massachusetts Regiment. At a later date and perhaps throughout the rest of his life, he rued the day he had made the decision to switch regiments.
Sometimes historians and military personnel have refused to come to a consensus on one name for any given battle. This usually happened with battles that have not shared the notoriety of such battles as Gettysburg and Antietam. As a result, the Virginia battle in which Jordan became a casualty is known by seven rather colorful names: Totopotomoy Creek, Bethesda Church, Crumps Creeks, Haw's Shop, Matadequin Creek, Shady Grove Road and Hanovertown.

The fact that this battle has multiple names does not mean that it had few casualties. On the contrary, 1,100 Union troops were either wounded or were killed in battle, while and equal number of Confederate troops also died or were wounded, including Brigadier General George Doles who was killed by a Union sharpshooter near Bethesda Church.

At the beginning of this wandering battle, the Union leaders sent some of their troops to probe General Robert E. Lee's position along Totopotomy Creek, while others were deployed toward Hanover Court House. The rebels decided to counter these moves by coming in on the far right flank of the Union forces. This proved to be a mistake. Apparently those Confederate generals who had made this decision, including General Lee, had not been told by their forward observers that a sizable swampland called Crump's Creek would be in their path. As a result, instead of making hasty progress, the rebel forces were bogged down in the swamp and soon became unable to advance at all.

Because the rest of the Confederate forces were under strength due to the inability of some of their troops to get out of the swamp expeditiously, they were unable to withstand the advance made by the Union Army, including Jordan's Eighteenth Regiment.

Some of the Union troops managed to maneuver themselves into a position on the left of the rebels. As a consequence, they were able to drive the rebel forces back onto Shady Grove Road. Confronted with this advance, Confederate General Early attacked the left flank of the Union Army. In time, the Federal forces were also driven back to Shady Grove Road. Given the fact that by then components of both armies had now been driven back to that road, it is not surprising that it was there that most of the casualties occurred.

Samuel Jordan was among that number. He was forcefully hit in his left arm by an enemy bullet. Today army surgeons might have been able to save that arm, but given the fact that 99 percent of surgeons in the Union and Confederate Armies had received no formal medical education and had learned how to perform surgery by watching older but equally uneducated doctors do so, it is no wonder that Jordan's arm was considered shattered beyond repair and was therefore summarily amputated.

Thus Samuel Jordan became an amputee before he had reached his 19th nineteenth birthday. As a result, in July 1864, Samuel Jordan had plenty of time to wonder how we would earn a living during the rest of his life, given the fact that he now had only one arm. And it is reasonable to assume that his frame of mind became blacker when he heard that the battle in which he had lost his arm was officially declared indecisive, making his sacrifice and that of over 2,000 other men, fruitless.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Pinstripe Press and I seemed to have had the same worry on Thursday – The Museum of the Confederacy and its ongoing monetary problems.

Unfortunately we seem to differ on what can be done by the average citizen. To quote his posting on the MOC:

“…so I am screaming it... “SHAME ON YOU!”

It doesn't help. I'm angry because I feel helpless. I don’t have a few hundred thousand laying around or I would contribute something... maybe I should go chain myself to the doors? Pickett the hospital with a sign? Write another letter? My point is that I really CAN'T do anything. None of us can.”

I have to respectfully disagree with the conclusion that “none of us can” do anything.

All you have to do is visit the Lance Armstrong Foundation to see the impact of a lot of small, individual donations. Those little yellow “LiveStrong™” wristbands are currently worn by 55 million people, each bought at $1 a piece, the proceeds of which go to the foundation.

Take a look at Room to Read, a nonprofit started by one man - John Wood, who while hiking in Nepal visited a poor school with an almost empty library. The few books they had were kept locked up because books were so valuable. As he left, a young student asked if next time he visited, could he bring back some books. He sent an email out to his friends asking for donations so he could just that and ended up bringing back over 3000 books. John went on to quit a very successful job with Microsoft and founded Room to Read which to date has constructed 197 schools, established 2,565 libraries, 60 computer labs, 20 language labs and given over 1.1 million English language books.

My point is, we all can do something and do it easily and painlessly by spending a little less on our normal “fun” money and instead become a member or just plain donate directly to MOC.

You can have an impact and it can be great; you just need to choose to do it.



To learn more about membership in The Museum of theConfederacy, click here
To learn more about donating to The Museum of the Confederacy, click here

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Today I read an article which stunned me.

Simply put, The Museum of the Confederacy was hoping for a $700,000 grant from the state of Virginia for operating expenses and instead received $50,000. Less than 10% of what was asked/expected and it puts them in a deep hole and could cause major problems in keeping the museum open. Yes, I had heard of this last month but the consequences pointed out in the article is what stunned me

See, the museum is considered a treasure trove, to quote the article –

The museum is known nationwide for its “irreplaceable collections,” says Conover Hunt, executive director of the Historic Richmond Foundation. Unlike other Civil War museums, the Museum of the Confederacy received many of its artifacts directly from veterans and their families, Hunt says.

And although no one will confirm, rumors are flying that the museum may need to sell some of it’s artifacts to stay afloat. Heck the Executive Director said it might happen last year but most felt it was an empty threat.

While it is fairly common for a museum to sell to other museums, it is becoming more common for individuals to outbid museums and take it into private collections – far away from the public eye. Some of the Civil War’s most prized possessions could very well disappear.

You may think this is over blowing the situation but read up on the world of nonprofits and their funding and you will see it is a rational conclusion. It is the nature of the beast, in order to run a nonprofit; you are always looking for ways to get money in and keep your organization going. And in a situation like this, every dollar counts – heck every penny counts.

So what can you and I do to help out?

Simple - this month don’t buy a book on the Civil War. Instead save your money and help out the museum by becoming a member or just flat out donate a few bucks.

If you live outside of the Richmond area, a membership only costs $30 - about the price of the last few books I bought! Instead, just read some of the older books you have.

If you don’t want to become a member or donate and just have to buy something, try out the market place at Benevolink where by following this link a portion of every purchase will go to the museum.

I encourage you to help save this landmark institution – stop reading this blog and become a member. If you are a fellow blogger, help me on this noble cause and let your readers know too!

But then come back and read the blog some more, don’t stay away too long - I'll get lonley.

To learn more about membership in The Museum of theConfederacy, click here
To learn more about donating to The Museum of the Confederacy, click here
To use the Benevolink market place, click here
With all of the discussion on mixing the social aspect of history with the military aspect I found the following book which delves deep into the Southern Social scene of the past.

It will be interesting to see how it will portray some of the “facts” that we all seem to take for granted about the war.

Published by UNC Press and is set to release in the Fall/Winter.

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Volume 4: Myth, Manners, and Memory

Edited by Charles Reagan Wilson



This volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture addresses the cultural, social, and intellectual terrain of myth, manners, and historical memory in the American South. Evaluating how a distinct southern identity has been created, recreated, and performed through memories that blur the line between fact and fiction, this volume paints a broad, multihued picture of the region seen through the lenses of belief and cultural practice.

The 95 entries here represent a substantial revision and expansion of the material on historical memory and manners in the original edition. They address such matters as myths and memories surrounding the Old South and the Civil War; stereotypes and traditions related to the body, sexuality, gender, and family (such as debutante balls and beauty pageants); institutions and places associated with historical memory (such as cemeteries, monuments, and museums); and specific subjects and objects of myths, including the Confederate flag and Graceland. Together, they offer a compelling portrait of the "southern way of life" as it has been imagined, lived, and contested.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A couple of weeks ago there were a lot of questions about the way the big box bookstores handled Civil War books. Although Borders and Barnes and Noble ignored my questions, see here, here and here; Books –a – Million was nice enough to reply. To repay them, I have bought books there twice over the last month and purposely went out of my way to go there instead of Barnes and Noble.

I am lucky enough to have a friend that works with me that has worked in bookstores and specifically Barnes and Noble in both South Carolina and Illinois as a manager. I presented this dilemma to him and asked for his thoughts. With that in mind, everyone meet Tom’s friend who shall remain nameless to protect him from the evil Big Box stores and the POD publishers he also makes fun of. Hope you all enjoy it!

I can honestly say that this is the first I’ve heard of this particular issue, but it is no surprise that die-hard buffs of any subject would be vocal about their interest’s representation in a bookstore. We usually had around 2 bays of Civil War books in one of the Charleston store’s, and I’d never heard anyone complain in the 2½ years I was the Customer Relations Manager there. Keep in mind that that store also had 4 or 5 bays of local books and, this being Charleston, a good many of those were Civil War books. The only complaint I ever got personally about the selection at the store was from a woman who was appalled that we only had 1½ bays of Native American Studies books. I explained that the topic wasn’t hugely popular here (like the Civil War is) and she accused me of suggesting that there were no Native Americans in Charleston. Truth be told, I’ve not met one here yet . . .

What’s funniest about the links (editors note – I showed him the different blogs that was discussing the issue) you sent is that there is an undercurrent of distrust and annoyance at big chain stores for the CW selections they have, and so the CW buffs prefer to buy their books online. Would B&N or Borders or BAM, the top 3 biggies, make $2-$5Billion a year carrying books people are not visiting their store to buy? Would a Toyota dealership carry a huge selection of Fords? The only conspiracy I’m aware of is the one they call Capitalism.

The top selling book subjects are children’s’ books, fiction (including sub-genres like mystery and romance), self help, cooking, religion and then maybe history. Factor in the popularity of WW2 books, especially Nazis and Hitler (we’re morbidly human), and the Civil War starts to shrink in monetary value to any giant store like B&N, even in Charleston. Trust me, the BAMs I’ve been to in the Midwest have maybe ½ a bay of CW books on hand. I also worked for Borders in Chicago, and we never had enough Spanish-language books for Latinos or African-American books for African-Americans. Bottom line: you can please some of the people all of the time, blah blah blah.
This reminds me of something I did see/hear quite often: people floored that we didn’t have that one book they wanted in stock. As if each retail bookstore could house the Library of Congress . . .

I think this is one of those situations where a particular interest just does not carry the weight needed to fund a large section of a retail store’s real estate (I am into woodworking, but at any given time my store had ½ a bay of woodworking books on hand). Under my short regime, I brought in a few local and national Civil War authors (Chris W. Phelps, Gordon Rhea, James L. Nelson, even Brian Hicks and Schuyler Kropf of the Hunley book fame), and the attendance for these guys was pitiful. The same went for all the History authors I brought in. I had one author (Hew Strachan) that was floored that he was 20 minutes from Fort Sumter and a Naval Base and an Air Force Base and had two people stop to talk to him about his WWI book. From an event standpoint, it’s a wonder big bookstores don’t just have children’s authors and self-help authors in for signings!

If you can’t get a good turnout for a CW author in Charleston, what makes people think the subject will be well-stocked anywhere else? B&N is at the top because its business sense is ruthlessly brilliant. Its retail accounting is nothing but model preciseness: if any new book of any subject sells 5 to 6 copies in the first 90 days and then nothing for 6 months, then the shelf life of a new book of that subject is 90 days. If the subject only sees 50 new “traditionally” published books a year or less, then there only needs to be 1 or 2 bays dedicated to that subject. And to be quite honest, of every 100,000 people who are interested enough in the CW to read Foote’s trilogy, or McPherson’s books, how many of them are going to repeatedly read about the same battles and events? Maybe 10%? I read McCullough’s John Adams, and as much as I loved every word of it, I can safely say that I will never read another biography of John Adams again.

On another note, B&N saw that BAM has a very poorly managed policy when it comes to small press or self-published books. We never once worried about competition from BAM. Because they have little control over how their chains take in local books, they tend to accept POD authors’ books by the handful, and are then stuck with them if they don’t sell. What you are seeing (and I have seen this too) when you go to the BAMs here are CW and local section that is 50% unreturnable! They are literally stuck with merchandise that has accumulated over the years, giving the appearance of a “good selection.”

By nature, a POD book only serves the POD company: they tap the author for hundreds of dollars, print a medium-quality trade paperback, and put little to no effort in trying to promote the book (unless the author shells out more money). POD books are fun for the author because anyone can turn a manuscript into a book, but those books are an absolute liability to retail outfits (despite the fact that they might contain brilliant material or good writing). A POD makes the bulk of its money from the author’s wallet, not their book sales. B&N is at the top of its game because its retail business sense when it comes to things like the POD issue is ruthlessly brilliant (they do carry some POD titles at bn.com). My old job there required a lot of me politely telling people “no” when it came to shelving their books. With POD companies or even Kinko’s, anyone can “publish.” It is sad to see people being led to believe that they are published and will be in bookstores everywhere for some nominal fee, only to be told their book is a pariah to retail booksellers everywhere. I know this from 2 angles because at one time I also worked for one of the worst POD companies out there . . .

If the subject a reader is most interested in is one that is not traditionally published en masse, then to the Internet they must go. But don’t get me wrong: I hardly ever buy books at the big chains. Only bargains. I like Half.com and good ol’ Boomer’s downtown. B&N was a fun place to work, and a paycheck, but it is at the core a deftly run business. If they sold nothing but toasters, they’d be good at that too. If CW books sold at the volume that even science books sell, you’d see more of them there. Simple as that.

Whew! I hope that helps. It’s not that no one cares, it’s that B&N cares VERY much—about the bottom line. I hate to play devil’s advocate, as on one hand I wish every bookstore was able to fully cater to all interests and philosophies, but on the other I do admire shrewd business practice. This is why I never label myself a Republican or a Democrat. Nor do I buy their books . . .

Thanks for letting me soapbox!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It took a whole wagon for the U.S. Christian Commission to make coffee in mass quantities for the Union soldiers. Read this great article to find out more about the wagon and one man's quest to take reenacting to a whole new level.

Monday, July 10, 2006

It is funny how so many things in life are interconnected most often without even knowing it.

These weekend as I was traveling from Charleston, SC to Beaufort, SC I was reminded of a piece in Mayflower : A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick. One of the things the Pilgrims found out when they settled Plymouth, was that walking a path in America was much different than walking one in England. As you walked you would come across posts in the ground which marked that something significant had happened at that particular place. Since there was no written history in the Native American culture, tribe members where to learn what each post meant and would pass it to the next generation. As Pilgrims would walk with their guides, they would hear fascinating stories of the past, stopping at each post as they walked.

As we drove, we must have passed 15 or so SC Historical Markers, from the Temple of Sport in Green Pond to Colonel Washington’s grave near Red Top to Battery Saxton in Beaufort I have passed them all hundreds of times and now barely give them a fourth thought, much less a second thought. I have though done my good parental duty and pointed them out to my kids a few times, even stopping to show them a few at one time or another.

This weekend, I found a new one. From 1980 – 1987 I lived on the banks of the Beaufort River at the United States Naval Hospital Beaufort. It was a great place to grow up, a self contained base that was small enough that everyone knew each other. It had a pool, a library, a small Exchange, and lots of other kids to play with. Two significant places where the snake pit ( a large crater that was about 10 – 15 feet deep and 100 feet wide that no one seemed to know why it existed) and Fort Frederick, actually the remains of a tabby fort that jutted out into the Beaufort River. Both places I spent a lot of time growing up at and enjoying life as only a kid/teenager can.

My parents still live in Beaufort but the house they are in now is not the same one. It does not hold the memories of youth and although I once called it home, doesn’t feel the same. So as my Mom and I do about once a year, we go visit the Navy Hospital and look around, reminiscing. This time I saw something new, two new signs. Actually quite sad, they had been around for 10 years, I just had never seen them before this due to the paths chosen or worse choose to ignore them as just something in the background.

For the past 10 years I have been searching for the Civil War and yet as a youngster, it was right there in front of me. All those days I played near the Snake Pit and Fort Frederick, I had been sharing the ground of Camp Saxton without even noticing.

Thank goodness we still have posts in the ground.

In front of the Naval Hospital
The Camp Saxton Site on the Beaufort River is nationally important as an intact portion of the camp occupied from early November 1862 to late January 1863 by the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, the first black regiment mustered into regular service in the United States Army during the Civil War. It is also significant as the site of the elaborate ceremonies held here on New Year’s Day 1863 which formally announced and celebrated the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in areas then “in rebellion” against the United States. Because the South Carolina Sea Islands had been captured by Union forces, the Emancipation Proclamation could actually take effect here before the end of the Civil War. The celebration at Camp Saxton heralded freedom to thousands of black inhabitants of the sea islands.

Near Fort Frederick
(Front) On New Year’s Day 1863 this plantation owned by John Joyner Smith was the scene of elaborate ceremonies celebrating the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation. Hundreds of freedmen and women came from Port Royal, Beaufort, and the sea islands to join Federal military and civil authorities and others in marking the event. After the proclamation was read, the 1st South Carolina Volunteers (Colored), the first black regiment formed

(Reverse) Camp Saxton Site
for regular service in the U.S. Army during the Civil War, received its national and regimental colors. Col. Thomas W. Higginson of the regiment wrote, “Just think of it!
— the first day they had seen which promised anything to their people.” This plantation was also the site of Camp Saxton, where the regiment (later the 33rd U.S.
Colored Troops) organized and trained from late 1862 to early 1863.

Erected by Penn Center and the Michigan Support Group, 1996

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Having just returned from a short trip, I read with interest the current debate on the correct way to document Military History. Having attended a military college, I have had the “privilege” of seeing both sides and can see the benefits of both sides but do like the “personal” side of things.

With that being said this whole debate reminds me a lot of how people view and like different forms of art, not sure why they like it but quite sure why they don’t.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

God bless Civil War Reenactors for running around in wool uniforms in scorching heat, for wearing authentic reproduction undergarments, for eating authentic hardtack from great-grandmother’s family recipes, for shooting cap guns while playing war, and generally surrendering their lives to something they view as important. I’m saying this tongue in cheek, because I know the men and women who participate in reenactments take their roles and their Civil War history seriously. As a friend of mine once told me, trying to break down my resistance to this activity, “Once you put on the uniform, it changes everything.” George was a member of a 54th Massachusetts reenacters group from the Washington, DC area, and he had the privilege of standing right behind Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman during the climatic speech given on the beach by Matthew Broderick in the movie Glory. I always responded, because George was persistent in trying to sell his uniform and equipment to me, that I had been in the Army and had no desire to play soldier, again.

While the dedication and attempt at realism are impressive, and, I have attended my fair share of reenactments, I always walk away with the same impression. It ain’t real. No one gets gut shot, no one has their head blown apart, no one losses an arm or a leg to a surgeon’s saw, no one succumbs to chronic diarrhea. And no one dies in the first 15 minutes of a battle. One of the most ludicrous scenes I’ve ever witnessed occurred at a reenactment at Gettysburg. A contingent of about 40 Confederate Reenactors were within 25 yards of approximately 200 Union Reenactors. The Union troops fired their weapons in a mass volley and only two or three Confederate Reenactors fell to the ground. The stands erupted with laughter, which is testimony to the fact that I was not the only one who reacted to the scene the way I did. Still I give Reenactors their due for bringing authenticity to films such as Glory and Gods and Generals.

While Reenactors are serious about the Civil War, so am I. And for this reason I had an adverse reaction when I recently made a visit to the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA. A circular brick walk fronts the museum, The Walk of Valor, with imbedded stone tablets listing the State and the number of men from that State who died in the service of their cause. The museum offers the opportunity to honor an individual soldier through the purchase of a brick and, after inscribing it with the name, rank, company, and regiment, will then place it in the appropriate State section.

I’m always humbled and feel honored to be in places that memorialize our Civil War veterans. At times it can be quite emotional and I admit that I wept when I stood at the grave of Brigadier General Joseph Hayes in South Berwick, Maine, Hayes being a former commander of the 18th Massachusetts Infantry.

But those feelings can evaporate in a second when you see a brick inscribed with a name and the following inscription “Reenactor, 28th Mass. Vol. Inf.” If the truth be told I would venture to guess that person has died at reenactments at Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Antietam, and other locales countless times. So, maybe, just maybe, I feel justified in telling at least one reenactor to “Get a life, buddy!,” because sacrifice, duty, and honor is not something you reenact in your mind.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

For almost a decade, Donald has gone to the Fredericksburg anniversary and laid a wreath in memory of the 18th during the ceremony. This year he has added to the list and made it out to Gettysburg too.

Although not part of the official presentation as it is at Fredericksburg, Donald tells me it was still rather moving and he plans on doing this every year going forward. He had a couple of other adventures, including solving a major mystery of the 18th and finding yet another information source at the same time. He has a rather amusing story of going to the National Civil War Museum and I am bugging him to write about it. Hopefully with enough pressure, we will see it up on the site soon.

Below is a picture he took of the 18th Massachusetts monument at Gettysburg with the wreath, American flags and mini regimental flags.

“Let us have peace”


Tuesday, July 04, 2006


You wouldn’t think that a book that deals with so much marching would be so interesting. Yet, “A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co. K, Twelfth Kansas Infantry” finds itself dealing with a lot of marching and yes, is quite interesting.

The editor, Mr. Tom Wing introduces us to Private Strong and the territory he was about to embark on. He takes a bit of time explaining what Strong is about to go through and some of the highlights from an Army level. He also points out that the areas that the 12th would visit during his enlistment - Kansas, Missouri, the Indian Territory and Arkansas have been mainly overlooked by historians who seem more intent on covering the war in the Eastern Theatre.

I have to admit, I am one of those who have concentrated solely on Army of the Potomac, mainly because of the unit that I research and was unsure how much I would be able to follow. Thankfully, Mr. Wing does a great job with the use of footnotes to explain who the soldiers Private Strong was with, areas that he would travel through and some of the battles he would witness.

As the diary starts off, Private Strong is in a bit of euphoria of just joining the army. The citizens love him, food is still good and there is not much for him to do, at one time even stating, “We thought soldiering a fine thing. Would have enlisted for a lifetime, I presume, had any one proposed it.” As the diary progresses we see things start to change, especially when the 12th ends up in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Here he goes from boredom to work to boredom again. It isn’t until later when the unit goes off to hunt the Rebels that the reality of his situation sets in.

At first as Strong states the daily miles marched, it does not seem of much consequence but then you start to feel the emotions building as they close in on the Rebels and their march afterwards keep those same emotions high. Later as the war goes on and the Union is not doing as well as before, you start to see the despair seep into his writing. As the unit and the citizens of Fort Smith prepare the area for an attack, they have to stop as rations are not enough to keep them going. Yet Strong continues to write and tell of how things in and around the 12th are going.

Camp life is written in detail and you can feel the boredom and excitement that Strong goes through during the years. Letters and books are highlights for him throughout his enlistment and meeting the average citizen seems to make his day several times. Twice he mentions going to a Catholic Church at the Fort and commenting on the way Mass is said, almost making it seem like he could find nothing else to do and this would take his mind off of things for a bit. But it is not just those in town he discusses but also the citizens they meet as they march, both alive and dead. Without knowing, Strong is able to show the side effects of the war and how devastating it had become to the civilians.

The diary shows some important events during the war, the Camden Expedition, the Battles of Poison Spring and Jenkins Ferry, the first use of African Americans in battle for the Union, as well as seeing the only American Indian General in action, as Confederate General Stand Watie captured the steamer J.R. Williams, which Private Strong was traveling on. Even though we can look back and see the importance, Strong does not see it at the time and comments on them just like he does everything else, that it happened and he saw it.

As good as the Introduction and Footnotes were in this book; one wishes that they were a bit more in depth at times. The book seems to depend on the reader’s knowledge of the battles and political circumstances in the area, even though both the editor and Edwin C. Beers, who wrote the forward, lament on the lack of said knowledge in the beginning of the book. Even without this, you can still feel Strong’s emotions throughout the diary, which almost make up for anyone’s lack of knowledge.

Overall “A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co. K, Twelfth Kansas Infantry” provides a great little read and look into one soldier’s life in a way not normally seen in the Western Theatrw, happy that Private Strong took the time to document his life for the 3 years he was with the 12th.

“A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co. K, Twelfth Kansas Infantry” is available from the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and can be p
A few weeks ago I posted about how to hate the Hate groups and proposed that anytime we see that a group is going to rally somewhere, that large groups of protesters should follow. My thought being that they have the right to free speech and so do we. If enough people continue to show how wrong they are, eventually they will go away and disappear.

Now the Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports that the same group of people are now heading to Gettysburg on September 2.

If you live in the area and can make it, I encourage you to take the time to truly honor America by protesting this band of idiots and help show them just how wrong they are. Hopefully this will be the first step in making them go away - and the sooner the better.
Brian over at behind AotW has a very interesting post on if there is any good that comes from allowing advertising on one’s blog. By his calculation, over a third of the sites that he has links to, place advertisements on their pages – Touch the Elbow is one of them, and he asks why would you do it? To him, it seems like it muddies one’s credibility and cheapens the site.

I started this post out as a comment for Brian’s site but it got too long and I felt it would be better for me to just put it here.

First off, I am no expert in History much less the Civil War. But I am an expert of the 18th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and I love researching the war that it took part in. Because of this, I tend to want to share my thoughts and experiences with others. It is very egotistical of me to think others would want to read about my adventures and I am amazed over this fact as much as others. Sometimes I think the only reason people read is to laugh at the outrageousness of it all.

Touch the Elbow is a spin-off of the 18th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Site. It started like most of our projects, someone mentioning wouldn’t it be great if, the other two agreeing it would and then the originally taking it and running with it. This is how just about everything we have done over the past 10 years has happened. It works well for us and if one of us doesn’t have time to help, we do not begrudge him. So even though this is a collaborative site, I have been the only one to post since we started it up. Mainly, because I’m addicted to it but that is a story for another day.

For the last 5 years, 18thmass.com has had advertising on it for two reasons, to provide an easy link to any book we have talked about (since we are providing a link, we might as well have Amazon give us a bit of money) and to supplement our research fund. As most Civil War Enthusiasts already know, this “hobby” continues to get more expensive year after year. When Donald and I meet Steve through eBay, we competed over an ID’ed CDV which at the time, this sort of thing was averaging about $40-$50 – now the last one I saw for the unit, hit $150.

I had a personal hit over the last year dealing with pieces of the war and cost. A large collection of my Great-Great Grandfather’s stuff came on the market. Pictures, letters, diaries, battle souvenirs all together and it could have been mine, for $30,000. Guess what? I can barely afford the CDV’s at $50 much less a collection at $30k – which just happens to be the median annual salary of a citizen in SC. So I watched it slip through my fingers, unable to even look at the letters and diaries as the seller felt it would lessen the value.

So, our advertising goes directly to picking up pieces of the 18th as time goes by. Do we get much? Not at all and I really don’t think we ever will. But if one day I happen to get a check from Google and there happens to be a Shako for sale at the same time – perhaps I can get it; instead of letting someone else get it like I am right now.

I try to keep the ads unobtrusive and not everything will have a link. The Butler Center books that I have mentioned twice over the last two weeks, have no ad connection at all. Like everything on this blog, if I like it, I talk about it, if I don’t they are not going to make their way onto the page. I have friends though he keep me posted on if they think the ads are getting out of control - just a bit over to the right, that's all at this point.

One other thing Brian brings up is the control of ads. Yes, you can prevent ads of predetermined specifications to be banned from your site. I have yet to see any hit our page though that I have had an issue with.

I would like to pose a few questions myself for those against ads. Does the NY Times lose credibility because it accepts ads on its pages? Should I stop believing CNN because the partner with Yahoo or should I believe anything they say when they talk about AOL, since they belong to the same corporate umbrella?

The reality is, ads are part of the general landscape and the only reason that they disappeared for awhile back in the late 90s was that no one could figure out how to make money off of it, until Google came around. Even the so-called free sites, advertise their website – checkout any of the blogger.com pages – so what am I to think of them? So whether we like them or not, we will probably see some form of ads stay forever. Or at least until the Internet goes the way of the Tandy TRS80.

Monday, July 03, 2006

After mentioning Devotion by Julia Oliver from University of Georgia Press I was reminded of two other books that UGA Press has recently released.


The first is The Civil War Letters of Joseph Hopkins Twichell: A Chaplain's Story by Joseph Hopkins Twichell and edited by Peter Messent and Steve Courtney. This book brings the war into light from the viewpoint of one regiment’s chaplain. Publisher’s Weekly has a great quote about the book – “"[Twichell's] correspondence suggests that the nineteenth-century, too, had its greatest generation."


The second is >Hell's Broke Loose In Georgia: Survival In A Civil War Regiment by Scott Walker a history of the Fifty-seventh Georgia Infantry, a unit of Mercer’s Brigade. UGA’s site describes it best as
“Drawing on memoirs and a trove of unpublished letters and diaries, Walker follows the soldiers of the Fifty-seventh as they push far into Unionist Kentucky, starve at the siege of Vicksburg, guard Union prisoners at the Andersonville stockade, defend Atlanta from Sherman, and more. Hardened fighters who would wish hell on an incompetent superior but break down at the sight of a dying Yankee, these are real people, as rarely seen in other Civil War histories.”


A little-told tale of Civil War bravery gets deserved attention
Boston Globe - United States
A review of Uncommon Valor: A Story of Race, Patriotism, and Glory in the Final Battles of the Civil War by Melvin Claxton and Mark Puls


Unlike the arguable most famous African American regiment, the 54th Massachusetts, this regiment fought in Virginia. One of the first battles that they took part in was the Battle of New Market Heights, where 14 of the 16 Medals of Honor awarded to African Americans throughout the war, were awarded.

Where most books seem to end with the Civil War, the authors of this one keep going and for good reason, it is about a black soldier and the regiment he belonged to. Instead of tying things up, the authors then show how others tried to honor the veterans and the problems they encountered as they did so.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

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

Not as much news as last week but we still have a lot going on.

Traditions : Headquarters House ties modern Fayetteville to its Civil War past
Northwest Arkansas Times - Fayetteville,AR,USA
Good article on one building's preservation and it's involvement in the the Civil War, both during and after the war.

tech.life@play | Refighting the Civil War
Philadelphia Inquirer - Philadelphia,PA,USA
A detailed look at Take Command: Second Manassas the PC game.

Interest in Wayne Civil War history is increasing
Goldsboro News Argus - Goldsboro,NC,USA
PR piece on one area's Civil War ties

National Cemetery a legacy of Civil War - Union soldiers' graves are like outcasts on the outskirts of town
Staunton News Leader - Staunton,VA,USA
Not quite a problem in my hometown of Beaufort, SC, this National Cemetary seems to hide the Union soldiers.

Thieves steal cannonballs from war memorial
Boston Globe - United States
Mike has a very good post over at his blog about this act of vandalism.

Civil War soldier honored
Grant County News Online - Williamstown,KY,USA
An ancestor makes sure that others don't forget about about his life in the Civil War.

Lake Villa Civil War ball set for Sept. 30

Waukegan News Sun - Waukegan,IL,USA
Balls can be lot's of fun and a CIvil War ball is even better.

KSU Students Find Civil War Artifacts
WSBtv.com - Atlanta,GA,USA
Article on students searching for the past.

Council Nixes Plans for Civil War Museum
WTRF - Wheeling,WV,USA
Last week it looked like there would be a new museum coming to our nation, now it's not as the business leaders have convinced the city council it's not worth the effort.

Rock opera meets Civil War

Hagerstown Morning Herald - Hagerstown,MD,USA
Too critics talk about how they felt while viewing this "broadway-type" show.

Downtown's second chance: Civil War heritage program

Hagerstown Morning Herald - Hagerstown,MD,USA
Editorial on the potential impact of the Heart of the Civil War program on one town.

CIVIL WAR LEAVES MARK ON TONAWANDA'S PIONEER YEARS
Niagarafallsreporter.com - Niagara Falls,NY,USA
A look at one citizen's part in the Civil War

Brunswick council approves Civil War grant program
Business Gazette - Gaithersburg,MD,USA
More on the Heart of the Civil War

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Even though eBay has lots of neat ways to do searches (simple, advanced, random), I still search the same way I started some 10 years ago (and the same we suggest in our book). It's easy really, since the regiment often is called one of three different things, I do three searches with the “search title and description” box checked.

civil war 18th ma
civil war 18th mass
civil war 18th Massachusetts


Now, I learned long ago that I could put quotation marks around "civil war" and "18th ma" and it would limit the responses. The problem is that it would keep me from getting many responses and I would get depressed that nothing came back. Even as strange as it seems, when nothing comes up, I get a bit depressed that my search is in vain

Keeping it wide open like this would bring back many different responses and some funny things I could bid on.. For example, every month or so I will get an auction on some Chinese statuary and of course always some sort of furniture from the 18th century that “Ma” owned but I never bid on them.

So when a good friend of mine suggested that I try doing an RSS feed, he had to remind me several times before I actually did it. I’ve got to say it’s pretty easy to set up, you do your search and then press the little RSS box, grab an http address and put it in your news reader.

Your newsreader shows all the auctions that you would see by going to eBay and searching yourself. As time goes by it refreshes and shows the new auctions and gets rid of the old ones. If you are looking for the simplest way to search eBay, this is it. Everything is right there for you and you don’t have to do anything to get it (once its set up).

But I don’t like it; it’s missing something and does not seem to be as much fun. It just seems to be, well, a list. After a week of trying it, I don’t even want to look at. It’s blah. I enjoy looking at each auction and entering its respective page, trying to think, do I want this and if I do, how am I going to win it. Instead, I have to go one at a time to see what the auction title is listed as and actually go into the auction page to get a real look at it. Too much work for me!

So, it looks like the RSS feed is a bust to me and I’ll go back to my old searching ways. I might go a little more advanced this time and combine the three versions of the state and the two versions of the unit’s number.

Nah, I’m an old dog and I don’t do new tricks.