Thursday, October 28, 2010

Civil War Era Toys Used for Smuggling

Here's an interesting article from Yahoo this evening. Turns out that dolls now owned by the Museum of the Confederacy had hollowed heads that could have been used to smuggle quinine or morphine to Confederate troops through Union blockades. One theory is that the dolls came from Europe and already had the medicines inside with the thought being that if Union troops boarded a ship they would not closely examine children's toys. When you click on the link be sure to click on the photo to see other photos of the dolls and also a couple of x-ray images that have been taken.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dave Powell Interview at Bull Runnings

Considering I just had a post with comments from Dave Powell I thought it right that I point out an interview with him just published on the excellent Bull Runnings blog. Check out the interview here. Dave has a new book coming out that looks like a winner. Just another one to add to the want list and already bulging reading pile.

Documents at risk at the National Archives

I opened up Yahoo to this great bit of news. Not that this is anything new or unexpected really but now the Government Accountability Office has released an audit showing that records and documents at the National Archives are at risk. The highest risk factors are theft (big shock since money is involved), deterioration (estimates show that up to 65% of holdings need some form of preservation care with many already being unreadable), and ignorance of the law (some federal documents and electronic media are destroyed illegally by agencies before proper permissions are granted).

Say what you will about federal spending but based upon everything that NARA is supposed to take care of and with the explosion of electronic records I'm not sure that the $470 million budget quoted in this article is enough.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Robert Partin update

A few days ago I posted about an interesting find I had made in my great great grandfathers Florida Confederate pension application. Jim Schmidt suggested contacting Chickamauga expert Dave Powell for his input. Dave was kind enough to reply and allow me to post his thoughts. Some great information especially considering I knew next to nothing about this battle. This is an area I hope to increase my knowledge on in the future especially with the family connection there!


Thanks for the post.

Since Chickamauga was the first national military park, states created commissions starting in the late 1880s to determine how to site monuments. The northern states led the way here, with the goal of having most monuments in place when the park was scheduled to open in 1896.

The idea was that each regiment would form a committee to decide where their monument belonged and what text it should include. Then the ideas would be vetted at the state level, and finally by the park commission.

The ex-confederate states, having much less money to throw at monuments during this period, were slower to respond and often created a single state monument instead of individual regimental ones. Florida was one such - their monument stands just south of the Visitor's Center today.

The 4th Florida was in Stovall's Brigade, Breckinridge's Division, and fought very near where the state monument sits today. On September 20th 1863 Stovall's men routed part of John Beatty's Federal brigade (principally the 104th Illinois and part of the 15th Kentucky) and then turned south to strike into the flank of George Thomas' line at Kelly Field. The 4th did reach Kelly Field, but then Union reserves ejected them again. The 4th suffered 87 casualties out of 238 engaged, or 37%, in about an hour's fighting.

Dave Powell

Friday, October 22, 2010

Reading suggestions please!

I came across a small advertisement in a local magazine that on November 20 the Ormond Beach Historical Society will be presenting a talk on General Adelbert Ames. I did not realize that Ames had retired to Ormond Beach. Hopefully this will be an interesting talk and nothing will come up in the mean time.

Does anybody know of a good book on Ames or his command? I scanned quickly through Amazon and didn't see anything that looked too promising. I'll be checking Larry Tagg's The Generals of Gettysburg and also Ezra Warner's Generals in Blue but was hoping for something a bit more in depth. I mean it's not like I don't have tons to read already.

As always, thanks for your help!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Charting a More Perfect Union

I received a notice through Family Tree Magazine regarding a new online set of Civil War maps that are available. Click the image below to access the collection. Nearly 400 maps put together by the Office of the Coast Survey are available. Read the Family Tree Magazine blog article regarding this collection here.

Pennsylvania Grand Review

In November 1865 citizens of Harrisburg, PA gathered to honor the black Union troops who were not allowed to march in Washington D.C. in the Grand Review of the Armies. November 4-7 will be a commemoration of this event.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Interesting Family Find

My father's side of the family contributed several soldiers to the Confederate effort through various Florida regiments. My great great grandfather was Robert Charles Partin.

Robert Partin was born March 15, 1840 in Tattnall County, Georgia the son of Hugh Gilmore Partin and Nancy Elizabeth Smith. The family moved to Florida in 1852. Partin enrolled in the Confederate Army on September 14, 1861 at Cedar Key, Florida joining Company F of the 4th FL Infantry. He served through the war apparently never being captured and injured only slightly. After the war he married Narcissus C. Ballard on July 19, 1876. I believe them to have had three children, Nellie B., Homer M, and Charles D. .According to his death certificate Robert worked as a farmer and died on June 14, 1927 from senility. He is buried in Rosehill Cemetery in Osceola County, FL.

An interesting find about him came from his Florida Confederate Pension application. It turns out that on December 14, 1906 Florida governor Napoleon Broward appointed Partin to be "Honorary Chickamauga Park Monument Commissioner for Osceola County, to exercise, perform, and enjoy all the duties and privileges appertaining to said position." I can't say I know what this means and have not done any further research on it or on Partin's service record. I just thought it was a neat item and the type that is not in every soldiers application. You may view the document here. If any readers have knowledge on this please feel free to comment.

Most information in this post came from Robert Charles Partin's Florida Confederate Pension application which may be viewed in PDF format here.

A photo I have found of Robert Partin's headstone and also a newspaper article in papers from my grandmother, Louise Redd. Unfortunately, I do not know the date or what newspaper this is from.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Asking for advice

A bit off subject buy maybe this can be of value to others as well. I'm working on my Civil War book collection. You know the has spilled out on to the floor, isn't in very good order, you can't remember if you have a  book but can't find it if you do. Yeah that one. For those of you with considerable libraries how do you shelve your books? Is it straight by author? Do you divide by subject? If so, how? How do you keep track of  biographies? Are they by author or by the subject matter? If by subject how do you deal with authors with a large and varied body of work such as maybe Eric Wittenberg?

I have tried LibraryThing but have to admit that I just can't get motivated to enter everything. While that would help record keeping should something terrible happen it doesn't address the shelving issue.

Any ideas are appreciated before the shelves become completely out of control.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

LOC Receives Nearly 700 Photo Donation

Please check out this post on Rea Andrew Redd's Civil War Librarian blog

A Virginia collector has donated almost 700 rare Civil War era photos to the Library of Congress. The majority are ambrotypes (on glass) or tintypes (on metal) and are of common soldiers. Some are identified while others names have been lost to history. The LOC is planning an exhibition of the photos in April 2011 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the start of the war. Many have already been digitized and are available online.

Click here for the LOC announcement.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NARA Opens Part Two Of Civil War Exhibit On November 10, 2010

Posted yesterday on the National Archives website. Discovering the Civil War Part 2 will be opening on November 10, 2010 and will feature a rare chance to see the original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. While the entire exhibit will run through April 17, 2011 the Emancipation Proclamation will only be available for 4 days, November 11-14, 2010.

NARA Opens Part Two Of Civil War Exhibit On November 10, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book Review--Knoxville 1863

Stanley, Dick. Knoxville 1863. Createspace. 2010, 221 pages. ISBN 9781451580310, $14.50.

Fellow blogger Dick Stanley was nice enough for send me a copy of his historical fiction work, Knoxville 1863. As I have not read anything on this battle I really didn't know what to expect. Would I need to have knowledge of the battle? Would I be able to follow the action? Would it be historically accurate?

After reading this work I have come to the conclusion that a reader doesn't really need to know anything about this battle to enjoy the book. The action is easily to follow but with each chapter being told from a different viewpoint you do need to pay attention. The characters do show up in each others chapters in ways that make sense. I really can't say if the battle scenes are historically accurate but I have to say I'm not sure it really matters. As a work of fiction this stands on it's own.

I didn't get the feeling that Stanley was trying to teach us the history of the Battle of Knoxville despite the fact that he seems to have done his research. Weaving true life characters with those he has created Stanley has created a work that keeps moving while not getting bogged down in details the way a non-fiction work might. Be sure to read his interesting Afterword where he discusses the characters, true and fictional, and also goes on to discuss some of the sources he has used in his research. Well worth the additional few minutes!

As Mr. Stanley works his way through the history of the siege and Longstreet's attack on Fort Sanders he shows us the difficulties of camp and battle life. Soldiers are subjected to bad weather, poor food, and lack of sanitation. The Confederate attack on Fort Sanders is shown as it might have happened. With poor information Longstreet sends his men into a nearly impossible situation. Stanley doesn't hide the gore but nor did I find it gratuitous. Afterwards, under a flag of truce, Stanley shows us how soldiers many times had to care for the wounded or bury the dead. Again, Stanley paints a picture showing how war is not glamorous to those fighting it.

This is a work of fiction I can recommend. While it helps to have some knowledge of the Civil War it isn't mandatory. The work should be accessible to any reader. The storyline moves along well. While this is not published by any of the big boys I didn't find the spelling and grammar mistakes I thought I might.

Dick Stanley is the author of several blogs that you might find worth checking out. The one I read most often is 13th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. Be sure to check his website for the book Knoxville 1863 as well. There is good information on both sites.

Thanks to Dick Stanley for providing a free review copy.