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Saturday, December 31, 2016

I love the music of Brandi Carlile. Unfortunately whenever I tell someone about her, they think I am talking about Belinda Carlisle. This is somewhat acceptable since my music taste tends to lean towards 80’s but in this case they couldn’t be further apart. You have probably heard her song "The Story" as it was featured on Grey's Anatomy and got a good bit of airplay. Take a moment or two, watch and listen to "Fall Apart Again", "The Eye" or "Hallelujah"

I’m a member of a private fan page on Facebook and one of the members has taken it upon himself to make the world know about the story of Ruth Blay, a nineteenth-century woman from New Hampshire who was executed due to hiding the body of her stillborn son. He has personally bought 9 books and ships them to other fans, which in turn then ships them to others. I was so impressed, I bought one (you can find it here) to read and then do the same. He asked that I write about why we are doing this in the book and below is what I wrote on the 248th Anniversary of her execution.



It can be hard grasping how much humanity has changed in such a short time over history. Ten years ago, equality in marriage seemed an impossible dream, 60 years ago segregation ruled the land, 120 years ago Irish need not apply, 160 years ago owning a slave was a Constitutional protected right and 248 years ago a young woman hid the body of her stillborn child because she was afraid of the consequences of having an illegitimate child that had died during childbirth, a fear that was justified – as the body would be found and she would be executed.

Simple put, Ruth Blay was failed by her community and the laws that governed the citizens of her time. And while what happened to Ruth would not be repeated in America today, around the world similar “crimes and punishments” are dealt with daily. Unfortunately, we do live in a world that is still heavily misogynist, that can and does still punish women for being women.

Mark Cancelada started sharing Ruth’s story with a twofold purpose. To remind us of the continuing struggles of women, now and though out history and to inspire Brandi Carlile to write and/or sing about Ruth’s story.

After reading the book, please continue to share Ruth’s story by forwarding it to the next person in line. Don’t forget to write your name and date on the cover, post a picture of it and the book on Facebook and Bramily – and #RememberRuthBlay



Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Karma can get you and sometimes, as outsiders we have to laugh one someone truly deserves it. In this case, South Carolina House Rep. Chris Corley, R-Graniteville is feeling its wrath. The “man” who sent Christmas cards out with the Confederate Battle flag after the Mother Emanuel shooting, chastising lawmakers for bringing the flag down, is now in jail on charges of domestic abuse.



You can read about the charges here

But what would cause karma to strike so hard? Well, this:


In the season of peace, love and light, South Carolina House Rep. Chris Corley, R-Graniteville, has sunk to a new low with a divisive Christmas card to his GOP colleagues in the General Assembly.

Instead of reconciliation and good cheer, Corley chose to craft a holiday message dripping with venom directed at those who supported removing the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds in July.

Corley, a member of the Aiken County Legislative Delegation, said those who may be offended by the card don’t understand his sense of humor.

“Those who know me and know my sense of humor, probably walked away after reading the card, having a good laugh and saying, ‘That’s just Corley being Corley,’” he said.

Corley’s card reads “Merry Christmas” on the front, showing a photo of the South Carolina Statehouse with the Confederate battle flag flying on the grounds.

The inside of the card is inscribed, “May your Christmas be filled with memories of a happier time when South Carolina’s leaders possessed morals, convictions and the principles to stand for what is right. May you have a blessed Christmas, and may you take this joyous time as an opportunity to ask for forgiveness of all your sins such as betrayal.”

In a report from The Post & Courier, the card also references Dante’s “Inferno,” consigning those guilty of treachery to hell.

“This is Cocytus, the ninth circle, the fourth and last great water of Hell, and here fixed in the ice, each according to his guilt, are punished sinners guilty of treachery against those who they are bound to by special ties,” the card reads.

Corley didn’t send the same card to his Democratic colleagues, instead giving them a card with a photo of his kids on the front.

“The message I was sending, I was sending to my Republican colleagues only,” he said. “I had a problem with the politicalization of the flag removal movement. I believe my colleagues caved to political correctness, and I have an issue with that.”

Demands to take the flag down permanently gained momentum after nine churchgoers, including pastor and late State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, were gunned down on June 17 at Charleston’s historic black Emanuel AME Church by Dylann Roof, a white gunman who authorities said posted online photos of himself holding a handgun and a Confederate flag. Corley took exception to the portrayal of the shooter.

“The Confederate flag did not kill those nine people,” Corley said. “Dylann Roof did not choke anybody with a Confederate flag, he used a gun. To use a tragedy like this for political gain was wrong. The Democrats used the tragedy to cram the flag issue down our throats. I think the entire process was wrong.”

Corley said if the movement to take down the Confederate flag had followed the normal process, he would have voted against it, but he would have accepted the process.

“There’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it, and at every turn we chose the wrong way,” he said. “We would have discussed it, and we would have debated it, but it would have followed the process. If they had done it the right way and it came down, I’d have said, ‘If you have a problem with it, see how your representative or senator voted and take it up with them.’”

Corley said the Confederate flag means different things to different people, and not every interpretation of the flag is rooted in evil, racism or bigotry.

“To me the flag represents a time when the states decided their individual rights mattered more than a centralized federal government exerting their control,” he said. “It represents a time when people felt the federal government was too big.”

How far back in history would you have us go, Mr. Corley?

Should we return all the way to the days when states exercised the authority to make people property and allowed them to be enslaved to others? Perhaps we should fast-forward from the period 50 years when women had not yet secured the right to vote and the leaders of the Palmetto State were fighting their right to do so every step of the way. Where is this sweet spot of yours exactly?

Would returning to the 1960s and the days of Jim Crow segregation and the valiant battles to keep the races separated, fought by the “leaders” you cite, be more to your liking, Mr. Corley?

Despite your protests to the contrary, sir, the majority of South Carolina residents will gather for the holidays and give thanks that the flag issue is settled at long last.

You may continue to pout as you wish, but the rest of us are moving on – with or without you.


Friday, December 23, 2016



Even though we haven’t posted in very long time, we still get contacted – which means folks are still reading. We, though, have not been writing.

Which is a shame since we have still been active.

During our break, research has continued. We have found more letters; more items related to the 18th, expanded out database and did a few other things. Heck, Donald and I even met for a visit to Gettysburg. I’ve gotten pretty deep into Citadel History and have spent a lot of time on that. We have kept up with the current events of Civil War history – and as a resident of the Charleston area – the impact it had on the Mother Emanuel shooting. So, we didn’t entirely disappear.

Recently, a friend of mine decided to start a web design business and I took him up on a offer to redesign and update our site. I didn’t realize how dated it had become until I looked at it in comparison with some other sites. At the same time, I started a Masters of History program. While the course I took last semester had nothing to do with the Civil War, the next one will have a peripheral view as I look at the History of the American military.

With both of these events, I thought I would start up again and perhaps broaden the blog by also posting about the courses I take, Citadel notes, along with the normal Civil War history. A bit more free flowing on the thoughts – but still centered around the Civil War.

At one point we had a pretty good following, doubt we will get it again – but we shall be posting more frequently.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Donald is out chasing down new clues on the 18th Massachusetts. Check back next week for more tales from the boys of the Bay State.
Chasing the dead

He has already let us know that he has found letters from a POW of Andersonville from the time he was in the prison. The letters were still in the envelopes - meaning not many people have seen them since they were first written. Hopefully he will share some of what he finds when he gets back.

Monday, May 31, 2010

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

I’ve always wondered how the world of Pokemon would be if Abraham Lincoln had been involved. Luckily, I don’t have to wonder anymore thanks to the fine folks at Walkingsquares.com….

Click link above to see bigger version.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It is our 1000th post and I thought I would celebrate with our first attempt at spreading the Civil War Gospel, an article (blogs were not around then) on an old Geocities site. It was when I first started researching the unit and was experiencing massive failure in doing so. Writing helped make it a tad better.

Hope you enjoy.


Tom Vs The World

Part One: The Civil War Experience

I have come to a conclusion, my luck sucks. At first, that sounds pretty awful, imagine living your life with nothing but bad luck. Yes, you are doomed to nothing ever going right but once you start thinking about it, you get used to the idea. Maybe I should clarify my "bad luck" a little bit. I have a great family, a decent job (hope my boss is not reading this, but boss if you are, IT'S A GREAT JOB!!!!!!) and living a good life. But to quote my best friend "I can't win!"

I came to the this grand deduction while searching through my family roots. Now when people get started looking up their family history, they are usually told about "the black sheep" syndrome. That's where your image of the perfect family is shattered when you discover a long lost great-great- great uncle Ebenezer who was so strange that he read a passage in the Bible and decided it meant that he should forsake the use of fire and form a nudist colony in a desolate region of Siberia, or the triple murderer cousin Joe Bob, who killed three people in Texas because they wouldn't taste his scorpion casserole. You never know what you are going to come up with, and that's a chance you take. So far I have not been able to find any black sheep, heck I can barely find anything. And that's how this whole bad luck syndrome started.

I was lucky enough to have a great-aunt give me a family genealogy going back 13 generations. After reading it I got intrigued with my ancestors. "Who were these people? What did they do? Why did they do it?" were questions that I found myself asking. I thought it would be neat to add some life to the tree by finding more information out about all these people.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Not only did he keep the union whole but now we know he kept it safe from vampires - Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. This is from the same author who brought us "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

As much as I give my home state of South Carolina hell for, well, just about everything it does – I do have to say that an article like this warms my heart and shows that not all of the South was against the Civil Rights movement – although there was still threats.

I lived near Penn Center for a very long time. While it was established after the Civil War to educate freed slaves, it has evolved over the years and something so much more.

If you are ever near Beaufort, stop by and see a historical landmark that all can be proud of.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy."
Unless you are Google, who once again left their page blank.

Meanwhile, the Evil Empire that is Microsoft, outdid Google with its tribute on Bing

Friday, September 11, 2009

One of the things I have always found neat about Google is their whimsical logos that they put out to celebrate holidays and events. As an example, at the beginning of Spring this year, they had an homage to Eric Carle’s famous book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
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Yet today, in what could be considered the anniversary of this generation’s Pearl Harbor – how do they celebrate it? Like this
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Yet if you go to Bing – Microsoft’s new Search tool found a way to mark this day in a very classy way; that brings no sensationalism to it.
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Epic Fail on Google's part. If you want to see some of the holiday's and events they deem important enough to show off, look here.

I will be switching to Bing for my searching needs. I hope you will join me.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

One of the best parts of living in Charleston is being able to look just about anywhere to see history all around.

Case in point, this week my wife and I did a little staycation as a getaway from it all. We stayed at a nice hotel on the Ashley River. At the top of the hotel is a nice restaurant with a beautiful view of the river and the Charleston skyline. As we sat and ate, we could see over some buildings, out into the harbor and in the distance - to the fabled Fort Sumter. Looking at the picture below, it looks like a pancake in the middle of the harbor.

Fort Sumter in the distance

Of course, then there is the made up history that is all about the South. Like this restaurant that is built to look like a fort but named California Dreaming.

Because nothing says dreaming about California like a fake fort built in the seat of the Rebellion.

Dreaming of California in fake fort

Of course this is where I would normally take pot shots at the Lost Cause, the Confederate Battle Flags, Slavery wasn't the main cause of the Civil War, Heritage not Hate and a host of other things. But I have not had enough coffee today to even begin....

Thursday, January 01, 2009

It has been about six months since our last post.

To put it bluntly, we have been a bit slack. Of course there were reasons.

Mine were simply crazy (and if you have followed me on Facebook you know this already) – I had bought a lot to build a house on; the developer said in the closing and mls that there was water and sewer. As we started building we found out there wasn’t the promised water and sewer. The pipes had been laid, just hadn’t been approved by the state.

While we should have been in sometime in April or May, we didn’t get in until the week before Christmas. Let me tell you, if you want a kick in the pants, stand in front of your basically complete house that only needs water and realize that you can’t move in. Now repeat that for seven months. Yeah it sucked.

This morning I started making New Years Hoppin’ John and drinking out of my 18th Massachusetts coffee mug and realized that I should start writing again.

I was hoping to write a bit more about the Gullah Culture and how it affects the new year with the making of Hoppin’ John (for luck) and Greens (for money) but the family is waking up and I will need to spend some time with them.

Instead, here is an article on Hoppin’ John

Finally, if you are on Facebook or LinkedIn, feel free to request a friend or link – I’d love to create a Civil War “community” using the social media out there.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It’s two days until Juneteenth, do you know what your state/community is doing?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Although Donald has already commented on their going away, I felt I needed to also.

One of the things Donald and I have a very hard time in doing is self promotion. You wouldn’t know it by our subliminal advertising for The Civil War Research Guide (still the best guide ever written) but it’s true.

I once chastised Donald for commenting on other blogs without mentioning our blog. In classic Tom style, I proceeded to do the exact same thing. We could be doing a bunch of stuff that would make the site more known in the blogosphere but I tend to be too lazy. So instead we have relied heavily on the fine folks at CWI to do it for us.

I’ll be honest that there were several times that I would eagerly await their weekly review. When they were kind enough to review us in a North and South article on Civil War blogs, I was on cloud nine – we had taken our slightly (maybe more than slightly) skewed look at the war and made it to the big time. Of course sometimes we didn’t agree with what they thought of our world but they were always kind and pretty funny.

I will miss them greatly. I can only hope they will be able to find a way to restart the reviews at a later date.

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all of the great work you did not just for Touch the Elbow but for the entire Civil War blogosphere.