Monday, February 28, 2011

CWT--Help Save 104 Acres at Gettysburg

The Civil War Trust is teaming with The Conservation Fund to help preserve 104 acres of first day battlefield at Gettysburg. The land being targeted covers vital ground where the Iron Brigade and the 26th North Carolina fought. The Civil War Trust hopes to raise $70,000 for this goal and has lined up money to turn each dollar into $29. Donate $30 or more and receive a CWT hat.

See the CWT announcement here. You can read more from CWT President Jim Lighthizer here. See Gettysburg maps including the targeted property here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book Review--My Thoughts Be Bloody

Titone, Nora. My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth that Led to an American Tragedy.  Free Press, New York, NY. 2010. 479 pages, 386 pages text, notes, bibliography, index, b/w photos. ISBN 9781416586050, $30.00.

My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy As an actor John Wilkes Booth was considered a poor excuse when compared to his famous father Junius, or to his brother Edwin. While John had received the good looks of his father, and was the favored child of his mother, Edwin was considered to have received the acting talent. Junius saw this and chose Edwin to accompany him on his travels to stages across the country. While John thought this to have been the glamorous life little did he know the side of Junius Edwin had to deal with. Junius was an alcoholic and many a time Edwin had to rescue him from himself. Edwin also found himself being responsible for the family finances, a role he would continue into adulthood.

The Booth family while being famous and outwardly wealthy was full of strife. Junius was still married to a woman in England who eventually came to America demanding her share of Junius's wealth, nearly destroying the family. As mentioned Junius was an alcoholic and it was common for him to lose entire paychecks to the bottle. Shortly after Junius's death while on a return trip from San Fransisco, the rivalry between Edwin and John Wilkes took a larger life. Edwin's acting star was rising while John Wilkes was given niceties due to his family name.

It was around this time where John Wilkes showed an interest in the growing sectionalism in the country. In 1859 John Brown staged his failed raid on the arsenal at Harper's Ferry. John was present on December 2, 1859 for the executions, pretending to be a member of the Richmond Grays. His views were still unsettled first backing the Union but by the time he arrived in Philadelphia for an acting gig he had turned pro slavery. During the New York City draft  riots of 1863 John became even more anti-Union.

As his political views came more into focus the differences between brothers became more evident. After a failed tour of Europe Edwin returned again to the states where he eventually regained his fame and fortune. He even had the honor of performing in front of Abraham Lincoln at the New National Theatre in NYC. John however still performed to poor reviews and failed financial endeavours such as his attempt at oil speculation. While Edwin enjoyed success with his 100 Nights of Hamlet John delved deeper and deeper into making history that culminated with his assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865.

Nora Titone has written an engaging book that was easy to read. While the research is not ground breaking it is thorough and she works to show that there were other factors than those traditionally associated with John Wilkes Booth that led to his becoming the most hated man in America. Despite being the favored son of his mother John longed for the approval of his father. This however went to Edwin and led to a lifetime of jealousy as Edwin won acclaim almost everywhere and John was only granted cursory acceptance. Can we say that this jealousy pushed John to assassinate Lincoln? I think that's a big stretch. Can we say it was a contributing factor. I think we may be on more firm ground there and Titone does a good job backing this idea. In life Edwin had all the fame but for eternity it is John Wilkes Booth we all remember.

Thank you to the good people at The Free Press for sending a complimentary review copy.

Upcoming Civil War Show and Sale

Here's something for Florida readers to consider. There's an upcoming collectible show and sale in Deland. The show is open for business on Sunday, March 13. The show coincides with the final weekend of Bike Week so despite being the first show of it's kind in the area promoters are hopefull to have a good attendance.

The show is being co-sponsored by the local SCV. Here's the website for the show.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

ABE on Collecting Civil War Books

While scanning through some blogs I follow I came across this interesting post regarding collecting Civil War books. I hope you enjoy.

Thanks to Paul Taylor and his blog With Sword and Pen for the link.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Florida Civil War sites on state chopping block

Times are tough all around and yet governments continue to make bad decisions. Please read Dale Cox's excellent report on what the state of Florida is considering.

State park closings should be looked at VERY closely before enacting them. The $6.5 million in estimated savings could come at the expense of 53 state owned parks used by families, seniors, tourists, and more. Dale properly points out the economic loss that will be felt by localities that could lose these parks. Free or low cost entertainment during what for many are hard times? Forget it!

With the current administration in Florida is the thought of selling off properties all that far fetched? Or better yet maybe they will sell naming rights like state parks are a sports stadium. I can see it now...Welcome to the Pepsi Fort Mose Historic State Park. Or better yet thanks for visiting The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park presented by Kmart.

For those of us with an interest in the Civil War please note that both the Olustee Battlefield and Natural Bridge Battlefield are on the list of possible closings. The Civil War Trust recently helped raise funds for the Natural Bridge site. The leading battlefield preservation organization in the country helps you save precious lands and then you close them off.  That makes perfect sense to somebody I suppose.

Tough times mean tough choices but I truly believe this a wrong way to go about things. Hopefully our legislators will see past very short term and small savings to see the value to the state in keeping these assets available. There are plenty of other ways to save money. Cutting state parks is not the answer.

Harvard University Press History 2011 catalog

About a week ago I received the 2011 History catalog from Harvard University Press. There aren't a large amount of Civil War related titles but here we go.

Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South--Written by Stephanie McCurry. " the startling story of the epic political battle in which women and slaves helped to decide the fate of the Confederacy and the outcome of the Civil War."  $35

Near Andersonville: Winslow Homer's Civil War--written by Peter H. Wood. "...he also created some of the first serious black figures in American art. Near Andersonville (1865-1866) is the earliest and least known of these impressive images."   $18.95

The Civil War and the Limits of Destruction: The Civil War and the Limits of Destruction--written by Mark Neely Jr. New in paperback.  $16.95

Fugitive Justice: Runaways, Rescuers, and Slavery on Trial--written by Steven Lubet. "...tells the story of three of the most dramatic fugitive slave trials in the decade before the Civil War in which ordinary citizens challenged enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act."  $29.95

Daughters of the Union: Northern Women Fight the Civil War --written by Nina Silber. New in paperback. $19.95

Justice in Blue and Gray: A Legal History of the Civil War--written by Stephen C. Neff. Released last year. $45

Friday, February 11, 2011

2011 Lincoln Prize Awarded

The 2011 Lincoln Prize will be awarded to Eric Foner for his book The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. Foner's work deals with Lincoln's changing views of slavery and the role of African Americans. Read the press release here.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and Gettysburg College are sponsors of the Lincoln Prize which awards the winner $50,000 as well as a bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ life-size bust, "Lincoln the Man.".