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This is the archive for January 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Great news from the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association via this email sent to me on Saturday, January 24th. This news follows a decision by the West Virginia Supreme Court upholding a developer’s right to build houses on the site of the September 19th and 20th, 1862 battle involving three brigades from the Fifth Corps of the Army of the Potomac and A.P. Hill’s Division, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear an appeal. Those were dark moments, when horrific visions of "little houses on the hillside, little houses made of ticky tacky," filled everyone's head. People didn’t lose faith and in the future their faith may be rewarded.


Dear SBPA Member:

On Sunday, January 18, the United States Senate passed S.22, the "Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009".

Included in the "Act" was a section that authorized the National Park Service to conduct a Special Resources Study of the Shepherdstown Battlefield. The study is to: 1) determine the national significance of the battle and the site; and, 2) to determine the suitability and feasibility of adding the Shepherdstown site to either the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park or the Antietam National Battlefield. The "Act" also authorizes the appropriation of such sums necessary to carry
out the study.

SBPA thanks Senator Byrd and his staff for their continued effort to save and preserve the site of the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown. We anxiously await action by the United States House of Representatives.

We apologize for delivering this news 6 days late but several of us were out of town until Thursday evening and were only able to confirm the news on Friday afternoon.

Thank you for your continued support.
-SBPA Board of Directors

For more information on the continuing struggle to preserve the Shepherdstown Battlefield, click here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


We had a momentary power outage, but we’re back today. Over the past week, and I’m not sniffling self-pitying woes, I had to deal with reformatting and restoring my hard drive, changing Internet Service Providers, the loss of heat for two days during one of coldest snaps to hit Washington in the last twelve years, not to mention devoting time to the NFL playoffs, reviewing transcripts of letters written by Richard Holmes of Co. D in our favorite Regiment, and Barak Obama’s inauguration. No, I didn’t attend any of the festivities in D.C.; too cold and too crowded for my liking. But I did lose out on something by not going, the flavor of experiencing a very historic event in person. That’s something you don’t get from television. My nutshell take on Obama’s eighteen and a half minute inaugural speech: it’s time to tighten our belts and roll up our sleeves, all in an effort to rebuild this country and its institutions and set it back on the path toward greatness as a Nation, at a time when we seem to have lost our way and sense of purpose, not only within our own borders, but in the world as a whole. Amen.

And while we’re on the subject of television, mark down two shows that’ll be broadcast on PBS in early February.

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, a documentary based on Michael Kaufman’s book American Brutus, will air on Monday, February 9th at 9 p.m. EST.

Looking for Lincoln, which will air on Wednesday, February 11th at 9:00 p.m., features Henry Louis Gates, Jr. dissecting “the myths that have grown up around Abraham Lincoln, and in doing so, addresses outstanding questions – about race, equality, religion, and depression – by carefully interpreting the evidence provided by people who actually knew the president."

Monday, January 12, 2009

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Having attended the 2007 conference sponsored by the American Civil War Center and knowing they’d be holding another in 2009, I’ve been marking the days off my calendar for the past two years. Now the time’s at hand. The ACWC in connection with the University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership has lined up the dates, March 12th to 14th, an international panel of scholars, the University of Richmond as a location, and a theme, "Lincoln and the South."

Historian after historian, including Shelby Foote, James McPherson, and James Ford Rhodes, have all begun their narratives of the War with Lincoln’s election and the resultant Southern reaction. Forget the shot fired by Citadel cadets across the bow of the “Star of the West” in January 1861, or the first missile that flew across Charleston harbor three months later. Lincoln’s election the previous November was effectively the shot that had Southern Firebrands wringing their hands in glee and ultimately led to war. Had Douglass, Breckinridge, or Bell triumphed at the polls it’s likely Congress would have hammered out another compromise agreement on the issue of slavery.

Beginning with Thursday evening’s session reviewing Lincoln’s role as commander-in-chief, Friday’s agenda will delve into events leading up to the election of 1860, Lincoln’s election and the war years that followed. Saturday morning’s concluding session will examine the 16rh President’s hopes for binding up the nation’s wounds and his legacy from a Southern perspective.

The ACWC promises the 2009 conference will take an unconventional approach. “Traditionally conferences parade the presenters to deliver formal papers and then answer a few questions if there’s time.” The ACWC is “turning the tables. Our scholars will present overviews based on the themes of the session and then it will be up to our moderators [Charles Dew, Emory Thomas, and James McPherson] to begin a conversation with the scholars and the audience on the ideas presented.”

I haven’t mentioned all the scheduled events, but I want to add you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck at the 2009 conference. For more information and to register for Lincoln and the South, follow this link to the American Civil War Center.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Here is a great article on the restoration efforts of the Hunley Lab on cannons from the CSS Alabama.

With all of the cutbacks that have happened in the South Carolina State Government, I am happy to see that the Hunley Lab is still working. At one point it was targeted by some folks who thought it was a waste of taxpayers’ money but that didn’t pan out.

I love the bit about finding a jawbone connected to one of the cannons and how it probably got there.