Friday, July 29, 2011

Florida Veterans Hall of Fame to Include Confederates?

I received this information from my local SCV Camp. Thanks for the info Preston!

First off...I can't say I knew there was going to be such a thing as the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame. The law calls for honoring veterans who have made a “significant contribution” to the state during their time in the military or afterward. Are there plans for a building or real way of memorializing these men and (no doubt in the future)women other than a plaque on the state capital wall? Who knows. Our state government has some weird priorities and ways to show they can waste money. Oops, I mean be fiscally responsible. 

Any way there's of course a big furor due to who is included on the first list of possible inductees and who isn't. The fact that sitting governor Rick Scott with his shockingly low approval rating and more than checkered past was included is the real head scratcher in my eyes. He has graciously bowed out most likely saving himself the embarrassment of not being awarded the honor.

Confederate Brigadier General
 and 14th Gov. of Florida
Edward A. Perry
The real uproar of course boils down to diversity and anti Confederate rhetoric. Civil Rights advocates are against Confederate inductees who feel it fans the flames of racism. Also, "rank and file" military members do not have representation. What about women?

Here's my take on this. Ignoring the Civil War and Confederates does not and will not make the past go away. Florida was a part, admittedly a small part, of the Confederacy and these men should be recognized. Sure, maybe not all the first time around but they do need to be recognized. Throwing anger on these men however does serve to activate those who work to honor their Confederate ancestors. Pro Confederate groups will seize on this and use it to their advantage. Trying to rebury these men only gives them name recognition in a time when I would all but guarantee 90+% of Floridians would not recognize more than MAYBE one of these men.

The beauty of any "Hall of Fame" is inductees can be added at will. Not everybody deserving gets in on the first or in Bert Blyleven's case the 13th try. He did however get elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the 14th try. To me he should have been elected earlier and Roberto Alomar probably shouldn't have gotten in this year. Heck, I'm still waiting on Iron Maiden to get into the Rock and Roll HOF. I'm pretty sure I'll be waiting a long time since there are fine groups such as Katrina and the Waves and some other ridiculous Eric Clapton project that are no doubt more deserving than any heavy metal group. But I digress.

Daniel James, the first African
American Four Star General
The news article listed some excellent candidates, including Josiah Walls and Daniel James, that are no doubt deserving. Instead of beating the dead Confederate horse why not work to get these others elected. Lobby whatever nominating board you need to. Help make their names known. Rather than pursue what you perceive to be a negative work to accentuate the positive. Remember there's always another group to be nominated. On that note, who do I contact about Iron Maiden.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Arrivals

There have been a couple of new arrivals from publishers I would like to share with readers until I can delve into them deeper.

First from History Graphics Press is Volume 2 of their Civil War Adventure series. From their website:

History Graphics Press presents a new line of graphic novels that bring the past to life with exciting stories fully illustrated by top talents in comics storytelling.

Civil War Adventures is only the first in a line of volumes dedicated to America’s bloodiest conflict and defining hour. Each book will bring you stories of the men and women on both sides of the conflict and draw you into their world through dramatic stories of courage, sacrifice, tragedy and even comedy. The epic scale of the War Between the States is fully realized on page after page of sumptuously rendered sequential illustrations from some of the very best artists in the field.

Meticulously researched and supplemented with text material, maps and period pictures, these books provide a wealth of instruction and insight as well as hours of engaging entertainment. You’ll join the 5th Virginia as it marches toward its first conflict at Bull Run. You’ll ride along with George Custer as his fabled cavalry faces impossible odds. You’ll be a passenger on an armed riverboat as it drifts into range of waiting batteries along the Mississippi. These stories are designed to make real the everyday experiences of men and women caught up in the war that decided the fate of our nation.

For the Civil War novice or aficionado, these detailed stories bring you into the action and allow you to view the events in a new and exciting way. History Graphics Press is looking forward to future volumes that will explore the Civil War and many other aspects of American history in a way that is as thrilling as it is educational.

Run by comic book veterans writer Chuck Dixon and artist Gary Kwapisz, this looks like an interesting and hopefully viable way to bring more people into the study of history. The art looks nice and if the stories go as well this should be a winner!

I was also recently sent a PDF copy of the new book And the War Came: The Six Months That Tore America Apart written by Jamie Malanowski, who has written for Spy, Vanity Fair, and the New York Times. Published by Byliner it appears this is only available digitally but should be available for whatever e-reader you own.

From the publisher website:

The creator of The New York Times’ award-winning Disunion blog tells the extraordinary story of the country’s slide into the Civil War. A riveting account of a national tragedy whose echoes are still with us today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Confederate Paintings to Be Displayed Online

Rarely-displayed paintings of Charleston during the Civil War by a Confederate soldier, including an iconic rendering of the submarine H.L. Hunley, are being made available this week on the Internet by The Museum of the Confederacy

The museum in Richmond, Va., on Tuesday goes live on its Web site with all 31 paintings by Conrad Wise Chapman, an American artist who grew up in Italy and later served with the Confederate Army.

Read the full article here.

View the online exhibition here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review--Beyond the Gatehouse

Kennell, Brian. Beyond the  Gatehouse: Gettysburg's Evergreen CemeteryEvergreen Cemetery Association, Gettysburg, PA. 2000. 117 pages. Index, bibliography, b/w photos, map. ISBN 0966477200, $9.95*.

For those of us who study history it can be tough to pass up a cemetery much to the chagrin of our loved ones. Historic cemeteries are even better when you can purchase an excellent guide like the one written by Brian Kennell, second generation superintendent at Evergreen Cemetery.

In a fast reading 117 pages Kennell takes us on a brief history of the cemetery and then on a guided tour of the most famous burials located there.

The Gatehouse from across the Baltimore Pike
While the grounds are beautiful that doesn't mean it comes easy. As you walk through the Gatehouse and into the well maintained cemetery be sure to understand that much of the ground you are standing on consists of diabase rock. What is diabase rock you ask? Think both Round Tops, Devil's Den, and Culp's Hill. Now imagine trying to dig graves in the summer heat much like the pregnant Elizabeth Thorn did while her husband Peter was serving in the 138th PA Infantry. Hers is just one of many stories you will read about in this must have book for students of Gettysburg.

The book is really a brief series of biographies of the famous and important buried in Evergreen. The book rightly starts out with James Gettys, the town founder. Others that will be recognizable to Gettysburg history buffs include Virginia "Jennie" Wade, David Wills, Rev. Dr. Samuel Schmucker, John Burns, Jack Skelly, and William Tipton. For those with interests other than the Battle of Gettysburg there are the burial sites of Eddie Plank the Baseball Hall of Famer, singer and actor Oscar Shaw, and poet Marianne Moore amongst others. Also included is a nice fold up and removable map for finding the locations of the burials.

Located just southeast from the Gettysburg National Cemetery look for the beautiful Gatehouse on the Baltimore Pike. There is parking close by but be careful as sometimes traffic can be a bit on the fast side near the entrance. Both the book and the cemetery are highly recommended!

Please be sure to check out Gettysburg Daily who has a great set of posts featuring Evergreen Cemetery hosted by Licensed Battlefield Guide Deb Novotny.

* While I have included a link to Amazon the prices are really out of line. This week I acquired a nicely signed and inscribed copy through Battlefields and Beyond paying cover price. I would recommend giving Bern a call or contacting the cemetery directly through the link on their site.

Borders to Close Up Shop

Well, even though this is sad who didn't see it coming. And the thought of a Borders/Books-A-Million combination does nothing but hurt my stomach. BAM just doesn't quite seem to get how to run a bookstore in my opinion but that's for a different post I suppose. I've only been in a couple of Borders...there isn't one too close to me. I did manage to meet Ted Nugent at a Borders several years ago though so I can't say they are all bad.

The article below is courtesy of Yahoo.

Borders Calls Off Auction, Plans to Liquidate

The Borders Group, the bankrupt 40-year-old bookseller, said on Monday that it will move to liquidate after no last-minute savior emerged for the company.

Borders said in a press release that it will proceed with a proposal by Hilco and the Gordon Brothers Group. That liquidation plan will be presented to the federal judge overseeing the company's bankruptcy case on Thursday.

What is left to unwind are Borders' 399 stores, about two-thirds of the locations it operated when it filed for bankruptcy in February. It currently has 10,700 employees.

Borders will begin closing down its remaining stores as soon as Friday, and the liquidation is expected to run through September.

The development came as little surprise, ever since a committee of Borders' biggest unsecured creditors rejected the company's plan to sell itself to the Najafi Companies for $215.1 million. The committee had argued that the bid by Najafi, which also owns the Books-of-the-Month Club, could have allowed the investment firm to liquidate borders without letting creditors benefit.
Najafi has since said publicly that it would not make another bid for the company.

Borders had set Sunday as a deadline to find alternatives to liquidation. But while it had held talks with the likes of Books-a-Million, the bookseller was unable to sign up another deal.

"Following the best efforts of all parties, we are saddened by this development," Mike Edwards, Borders' president, said in a statement. "The headwinds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, eReader revolution, and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now."

While Borders was unable to find a buyer for most of itself, some of its rivals -- notably its bigger rival, Barnes & Noble -- have expressed interest in purchasing a few locations.

The company, which began in 1971 as a used bookstore in Ann Arbor, Mich., had fought to stay afloat for years amid a difficult retail environment, persistent management turnover and a failure to move aggressively in the e-book space. In February, it filed for bankruptcy protection and subsequently closed about one-third of its 650 stores.

Publishers were disheartened but hardly surprised by the announcement, as they have watched Borders's troubles deepen for years. According to Bowker, a research organization for the publishing industry, Borders accounted for 13 percent of the overall market share for print books in 2010. By July, that had dwindled to less than five percent, several large publishers said.

After the bookseller declared bankruptcy in February, many publishers pressed Borders for a reorganization plan, but were left unconvinced that executives had a viable way to revamp the company.

"It saddens me tremendously because it was a wonderful chain of bookstores that sold our books very well," said Morgan Entrekin, the president and publisher of Grove/Atlantic, an independent publisher. "It's part of the whole change that we're dealing with, which is very confusing."

The news exposed one of publishers' deepest fears: that bookstores will go the way of the record store, leaving potential customers without the experience of stumbling upon a book and making an impulse purchase. In the most grim scenario, publishers have worried that without a clear place to browse for books, consumers could turn to one of the many other forms of entertainment available and leave books behind.

Independent shops have closed in droves as book sales have moved online, especially to Amazon. Barnes & Noble put itself up for sale last year and has focused on expanding its digital footprint as sales of print books have sputtered.

Publishers said with Borders gone, they would plan for smaller print runs and shipments. Employees at major publishing houses worried that layoffs could be imminent, as many companies have dedicated staff members that work only with Borders.

The closing could have a particular impact in paperback sales. Borders was known as a retailer that took special care in selling paperbacks, and its promotion of certain titles could boost them to best-seller status

Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review--Sickles at Gettysburg

Hessler, James. SICKLES AT GETTYSBURG: The Controversial Civil War General Who Committed Murder, Abandoned Little Round Top, and Declared Himself the Hero of Gettysburg Savas Beatie, El Dorado Hills, CA. Index, bibliography, notes, maps, b/w photos. 490 pages, 406 pages text*, ISBN 9781932714845, $22.95

SICKLES AT GETTYSBURG: The Controversial Civil War General Who Committed Murder, Abandoned Little Round Top, and Declared Himself the Hero of GettysburgFew Civil War subjects lend themselves to as many questions and as much controversy as Daniel Sickles. Praised by some and vilified by more Sickles is as dividing a figure in Civil War history as there is. In his masterful work Sickles at Gettysburg author James Hessler, while leaving the decision as to Sickles legacy to the reader, puts him out there with all his wrinkles.

Dan Sickles life is a remarkable collection of stories that are woven together with skill in a way that makes each piece vital to the whole story. While primarily covering Sickles actions at Gettysburg, Hessler includes the rest of Sickles life and this helps show readers the pattern of arrogance that Sickles showed throughout his entire life.

Sickles' political career began when he associated himself with the Tammany Hall Democrats and continued rising with his election to the New York Assembly in 1847. During this time he was what might be called a playboy and even his 1852 marriage did not slow this down. In 1855 he was elected to the New York Senate and in 1856 was elected to the U.S. Congress. Tiring of her husband's free ways Teresa Sickles took part in an affair of her own with Philip Barton Key. Sickles ultimately murdered Key and the resulting trial produced a not guilty verdict with what now may be called a temporary insanity defense. Hessler traces the trial and evidence effectively showing the male dominated society of the time.

The Civil War is the next big event in Sickles life and here he uses his political skill to continue receiving bigger and larger appointments. Sickles contacts and recruiting abilities eventually landed himself command of the III Corps as a Major General. Sickles certainly was what would be called a political general. Sickles role at Chancellorsville and his famous role at Gettysburg are covered in depth. Sickles unwillingness to follow orders while at  Gettysburg is of course legendary and his move from Meade's fishhook forward to the Wheatfield thus leaving Little Round Top uncovered will be debated as long as the Civil War is studied. It can be argued that his move was genius by tying up Longstreet's men or that it could have proven a disaster and without luck and skill from others have cost the Union the battle. Ultimately we all know what happened but Hessler gives us plenty of ammunition with which to make our own decisions.

After Sickles injury at Gettysburg much of the rest of his life is spent attempting to promote his war legacy most often at the expense of General George Meade. Post war oddities such as his late in life friendship with Confederate General James Longstreet and also the controversy of Sickles being awarded the Medal of Honor more than 30 years after the war are adequately covered as well. Perhaps Sickles great legacy however were his battlefield preservation efforts. Until 1974 Gettysburg National Military Park boundaries were set based upon maps produced by Sickles. And while Sickles himself does not have a monument (well, we all know the whole battlefield is his monument) he does have a road name after him and he was also an early proponent of there being both Union and Confederate markers on the field.

This is an excellent book that will no doubt be a starting point for future research on Sickles. A full bibliography and detailed end notes show the depth of the research Hessler has done. Illustrated with maps from Brad Gottfried and printed on high quality paper this is the standard from noted publisher Savas Beatie. Highly recommended!

Hessler is the winner of the 2009 Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award from the Robert E. Lee Civil War Round Table of Central New Jersey and was also a finalist for the Army Historical Foundation's Biography category for the 2009 Distinguished Writing Award.

For further information please check this Facebook page or the Sickles at Gettysburg web page.

* Page counts are based upon the hardcover version which is what I read. ISBN and price information is based upon the trade paperback.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Attempted Theft of Historical Documents

Recently there was destruction and now outright theft. I can only imagine what is next.  What is so sad is that one of the accused is a published history author. I won't include a link to his book since scum like this don't deserve to sell books. Thanks to Yahoo for the article below.

Here's a link to the Maryland Historical Society where the attempted theft took place.

NY men charged in Md. presidential artifacts theft

BALTIMORE (AP) — A published presidential historian was one of two men caught with millions of dollars in documents from the Maryland Historical Society, including some signed by President Abraham Lincoln, according to court documents.

Baltimore police charged Barry Landau, 63, and Jason Savedoff, 24, both of New York City, on Saturday with theft of more than $100,000 and they were ordered held on Monday. The FBI is involved in the investigation under a federal statute that covers thefts from museums.

An employee told police he had been watching Savedoff and Landau for several hours, believing their behavior to be suspicious. He called police after he saw Savedoff conceal a document in a portfolio and walk it out of the library, according to court documents.

A search of a locker at the building that Savedoff was carrying a key to turned up 60 documents. That included papers signed by Lincoln worth $300,000, numerous presidential inaugural ball invitations and programs worth $500,000, a signed Statue of Liberty commemoration valued at $100,000 and a signed Washington monument commemoration valued at $100,000, court documents state.

Court records do not list attorneys for the men. A message was left at a number listed for Landau and no listing could be found for Savedoff.

Landau had signed out many of the documents police found in Savedoff's bag in the locker. Staff told police that the dozens of other documents had about the same value.
Photocopies of all the historical papers were made and the originals were returned to the historical society.

An Associated Press story written in 2007 when Landau's "The President's Table: Two Hundred Years of Dining and Diplomacy" was published notes that he was working on a trilogy was to be followed by a history of inaugurations and a volume on presidential style. The story describes vintage black and white etchings of 19th-century inaugurations on the walls of his Manhattan high-rise apartment, a cabinet displaying presidential mugs, plates, goblets and a skeleton key that fit the front door of the White House during John Adams' administration and a wall of inscribed photos of presidents.

There are careful rules dictating the procedures for viewing documents in the library and people may only check one set of documents out of the stacks at once, according to society President Burt Kummerow. First-time visitors must complete a registration form and present current photo identification and researchers must sign in and out during each visit, according to the society's website. What happened is a reminder of the value of the documents at the library, he said.

"It is one of the older libraries in the United State and is wonderful record of the story of the early United States and right up to the present," Kummerow said.

Monday, July 4, 2011

John F. Kennedy at Gettysburg

With this being the 148th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg I thought I would share what I think is a very cool post from Gettysburg Daily.

The Kennedys at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial
 on Oak Hill.
On March 31, 1963 John F. Kennedy and his family visited Gettysburg. One of the stops they made was at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial. Please click the link above to see some rare close up home video shot by Betty J. Ridinger Deitch. My how times have changed. It is said that Mrs. Kennedy got the idea for the eternal flame at John F. Kennedy's burial spot from their visit to Gettysburg.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Book Review--Soldiers of the Southern Cross


Wilson, William Gregory. Soldiers of the Southern Cross: The Confederate Soldiers of Tallapoosa County, Alabama. Self Published, Roanoke, AL. 2011. 313 pages, 160 pages text, index, bibliography, 43 appendices, b/w photos. ISBN 9781450749626, $35.

As the Civil War continued to take it's deadly toll each state was required to shoulder it's share of replenishing troops. Whether through volunteer efforts or conscription soldiers were needed in efforts both in the east and the west. Author William Gregory Wilson has produced a fascinating and usefull book outlining the sacrifices made by a single county in eastern Alabama. Ultimately Tallapoosa County would send over 3,000 sons, fathers, and brothers to war with nearly 850 not returning.

Tallapoosa County was formed in 1832 on land once owned by the Creek Nation. The land had both good and bad areas for farming with the best land being near the Tallapoosa River. Despite the differences in land quality the county grew and as was the norm agriculture was the lifeblood with cotton being the main crop. Cotton was of course built on the back of slave labor. At the onset of the Civil War the county population of right around 24,000 contained approximately 28% slaves. As would be expected the rise of the Republican party and the election of Abraham Lincoln led to calls for secession. While not approved of by all delegates the state approved an Ordnance of Secession on January 11, 1861. With the firing on Fort Sumter the war was on and so was the race for recruits.

Wilson has divided his book up by regiments that primarily fought in the east and those in the west. If he was able to verify that soldiers from Tallapoosa County mustered in to a regiment it is included. This of course means that some receive much more in depth coverage than others. The 47th Infantry as a whole receives nearly 30 pages while other Companies from small regiments may only garner a paragraph or two. Of course the 47th took part in the most legendary of Civil War battles, Gettysburg, at perhaps the most well known location there, Little Round Top.

This book is ambitious and accomplishes a lot. It could accomplish even more with a professional editing job. Overall the spelling and grammar are fine and the overall look and feel of the book are much better than the majority of self published works. I think a professional history editor could have made the flow of the book go better and also helped make more cohesive sense of it all.

That said there is a tremendous amount of research contained within this books pages. More than 40 appendices break out each Company that had soldiers from Tallapoosa County. These men then receive a very brief biographical treatment most of which was obtained through service records. The bibliography contains many primary resources and archive collections that were referenced. Also included are photos of soldiers both from the war period and then later in the lives of these brave men.

This is a book that should be in the collections of most libraries in the state of Alabama. With its more than reasonable price genealogical societies should also own a copy and anybody with ancestors from this region of Alabama should not miss checking this book. The index contains all the soldiers referenced whether in text or in an appendix. For anybody with an interest in local Alabama history this is also a must own. While this may not have broad appeal to all interested in Civil War history this is a book that can still be strongly recommended.

Please be sure to check Mr. Wilson's website and also his Facebook page.

Thanks go to Mr. Wilson for providing a complimentary review copy.