Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
It is a brain disease that causes deer to stop eating and eventually waste away to nothing and die. It has been in Colorado for quite awhile. The disease is spread when deer are in close proximity to each other. As the disease takes its toll it is easier to determine which deer have the disease. A deer that has recently contracted the fatal disease however is difficult to spot. The only currently known test involves brain tissue. No one goes to the time and money to harvest brain samples in a non lethal method from deer. So the way to test a population of deer is to kill a bunch of them and run the test. Of course this upsets many different groups of people. On the other hand the only known way to control the disease is to thin the herd.
Apparently there is not chronic wasting disease at Antietam or Monocacy yet but they will soon find themselves in a catch-22. If they ignore the issue they run the risk of having emaciated deer wandering around the park and dying in front of visitors. If they take steps now to research the issue they will certainly have to kill quite a few deer, and I'm sure nature watching is a prime reason to visit the park for some people (some people come for the nature and never realize the history), and the killing of a large number of deer won't make them happy although the other option probably doesn't make them happy either. Then of course if the results are positive the park will need to go kill a bunch more deer.
So far no report has shown that the disease can transfer to humans when they eat venison but I personally would not want to risk it. I'd imagine the park would have to do the harvesting by archery because there is no telling where bullets might end up. Bullets can pass through deer, ricochet off a rock and strike a monument. The whole thing seems a bit odd but I think the park will almost have to end up doing this at some point. They might stick to observation for now since chronic wasting disease has not been found in the park yet, but once it does they will need to aggressively attack the issue.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
With tongue somewhat in cheek I would like to throw my own hat in the ring to be the new superintendent starting March 1, 2009.
I have never been employed by the National Park Service, or any sort of government agency. I do have some management experience from my time as a retail manager and am used to keeping spending within budget parameters (both as a manager and in my personal life). But those experiences will certainly pale in comparison to whomever else applies for this wonderful position.
What I can bring to the table though is a true love for the park. I don't want to minimize how other candidates may feel about the park but being at Gettysburg (or any other battlefield) is a truly magical experience. Every time I go there the excitement builds as I pass the towns along the route. When I finally see the signs for Gettysburg the excitement has nearly built to a crescendo. I don't want to go to the visitor's center, I want to be on the ground. I want to feel the grass under my feet, the sun kiss my face, the wind in my hair. I want to stand where my Iron Brigade boys stood west of town. I want to gaze at Meade from the Virginia monument, walk over there and then look back at Lee. I want to criss cross the Wheatfield, following every attack in that sector. I want to stand at the 20th Maine monument and yell "Bayonets!" I want to stand next to Longstreet and apologize for him spending the rest of eternity on a pony.
Obviously as superintendent I wouldn't have the time to do that sort of thing every day but I'd be out there after hours soaking up the atmosphere. I'd want to complete Latschar's work and return the town to an 1863 appearance. I say lets get rid of the concrete roads and blacktop parking lots. All travel in town will be by horse or foot. Shops could stay in historic buildings but anything built after 1863 would have to go. Let's give Gettysburg that Harper's Ferry feel to it. One of the great things about Harper's Ferry is that in the park section of town the modern elements have been minimized and you get more of a historic feeling. In fact whenever I talk to someone about their favorite battlefields they almost always mention places like Shiloh or Antietam or Perryville, where you can feel like you've stepped back in time. Stones River, Franklin, Manassas and Fredericksburg just don't have that same feel to them (all great places to visit but traffic and urban sprawl makes them a bit less of an experience).
At Gettysburg the town is part of the battlefield (and I don't think gets the interpretation it deserves) so it only makes sense to return it to its 1863 appearance like most of the other fighting areas have been. Of course this won't be popular. Cutting trees was not popular. But I'm not going to be at Gettysburg to be popular, I'll be there to make historic interpretation and our understanding much better.
If that phase of the plan works out then I would also like to build a museum for the Gettysburg nuts. Not sure if there is enough room near the new visitor center to build this new museum but I think the devoted Gettysburg people need a museum to showcase as much of the collection as possible. The general public might find this one too tedious or boring to attend but us diehards would be thrilled to see every single variety of rifle the park possesses.
I am quite willing and able to have a Gettysburg address. If it helps my cause I'd be willing to work for free, just don't tell my wife I said that.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Every year Dave Powell helps organize a spring weekend of Chickamauga tours. Usually he is a main tour guide with NPS Historian Jim Ogden. I got an email over the weekend announcing the next spring tour, March 13 & 14, 2009. Since Dave has helped me out in the past with research questions on Chickamauga I thought I'd help advertise the tours here.
I've always wanted to attend but every year something gets in the way. This year is no different. Maybe some day I'll hit the lotto and can retire, then I'll have plenty of time to run down to Chickamauga for the weekend.
CCNMP Study Group 2009 Seminar in the Woods
Mission Statement: The purpose of the CCNMP Study Group is to create a forum to bring students of the American Civil War together to study and explore those events in the fall of 1863 that led ultimately to the creation of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park. The intent is to use the indispensable resource of the park itself as an outdoor classroom to promote learning and study of the battles for Chattanooga, and to build interest for an annual gathering that will in time examine all aspects of the Campaigns for Chattanooga. Additionally, we hope to bring students and serious scholars, both professional and amateur, to the field to share insights and knowledge about the battles.
Tour Leaders: Jim Ogden, Park Historian, and Dave Powell
Date: Friday, March 13, and Saturday, March 14, 2009.
Note: Friday’s tours will involve a tour bus. We will be charging a small fee for use of the bus. See below.
Friday Morning: 8:30 a.m. to Noon. Minty vs. Johnson, September 18th, 1863.
By Bus, we will examine the opening engagement of the battle, as Bushrod Johnson and Nathan Bedford Forrest collided with Minty’s Cavalry Brigade. Stops will include Ringgold, Peeler’s Mill site, Peavine Ridge, Reed’s Bridge, and conclude at Jay’s Mill. This land is in private hands, but we will have ample opportunities to dismount and walk some of the terrain in question.
Park at the Visitor‘s Center. The bus will depart and return from there.
Friday Afternoon: 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Rosecrans in Command, September 17th to 20th, 1863.
By Bus, we will trace Union Commander William Starke Rosecrans’ movements on the field between September 17th and 20th, discussing his command decisions and the information he had at the time. Stops will include Crawfish Springs, Wilder Tower/Widow Glenn’s, the Visitor’s Center, and the Dyer Orchard HQ site.
Park at the Visitor’s Center. The Bus will depart and return from there.
Saturday Morning: 8:30 a.m. to Noon. Hindman vs. Sheridan, morning of September 20th.
On foot: We will examine the attack of Hindman’s Division on Sheridan’s Federals, after Davis’ division is overwhelmed. We will discuss the fighting in South Dyer Field, the storming of Lytle Hill, defeat of Lytle and Walworth’s Brigades, and end with Wilder’s repulse of Manigault’s Rebel Brigade.
Park in the gravel lot by Recreational Field.
Saturday Afternoon: 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Hindman assails the end of the line: Horseshoe Ridge, September 20th
On Foot: Horseshoe Ridge provides a dramatic conclusion to the battle of Chickamauga. We will discuss the movements of Anderson’s, Manigault’s and Deas’ Brigades as they make their final attack on Horseshoe Ridge.
Park at Snodgrass Hill.
Cost: Beyond the fee for Friday’s Bus, there is no cost for tour participation. Meals lodging, transportation, and incidentals, however, are the individual’s responsibility.
Tour Departures: All tours will meet at the Chickamauga Visitor’s Center at the designated start time, and will depart from there after some brief overview discussion. We will board the bus or car caravan to the designated parking area, and from there, we will be on foot. We will be on foot for up to three hours, so dress and prepare accordingly. Tours will depart rain or shine. Participants are responsible for their own transportation, and should plan accordingly. All tours are designed to be self-contained, so participants who cannot attend the full schedule are still welcome to join us for any portion of the weekend.
Lodging and Meals: Everyone is responsible for their own lodging and meals. There are many hotels in the greater Chattanooga area, for any price range. The closest are in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, with the least expensive in Ringgold. Each tour is designed to leave at least 90 minutes for lunch, and there are several family and fast food restaurants within minutes of the battlefield. There are designated picnic areas near the Visitor’s Center, for those who wish to bring a lunch and eat on the field.
What to bring: Each tour will involve extensive walking. Proper clothing and especially footgear is essential. Dress in layers, wear sturdy, broken-in walking shoes or boots, and be prepared for some rain, as spring can be quite wet in North Georgia. We will be walking on dirt and gravel trails, uncut fields, and through stretches of woods. The ground will be wet and muddy in places. Bring your own water and snacks.
Reading up on the subject: Many people like to prepare in advance for these kinds of events. I suggest the following works might be of help.
Cozzens, Peter. This Terrible Sound. University of Illinois, 1992. The best modern study of the battle.
Gracie, Archibald. The Truth About Chickamauga. Morningside, Reprinted 1987. For the veteran Chickamauga student only. Gracie’s narrative is incoherent, disorganized, and mistaken in many places. However, his focus is central to Saturday Afternoon’s tour, and his work contains a wealth of primary source accounts that are not found anywhere else. We will be discussing many of the same topics Gracie examines.
Woodworth, Stephen E. Six Armies In Tennessee: The Chickamauga And Chattanooga Campaigns. Lincoln, Nebraska. University of Nebraska Press, 1998; an excellent overview campaign study.
Woodworth, Stephen E. A Deep Steady Thunder: The Battle Of Chickamauga. Abilene, Texas. McWhiney Foundation Press, 1998. Concise but very useful account of the battle, designed as an introduction to the action. 100 pages, very readable.
Note: Friday’s Tours will be by Bus, as we move from site to site. While the tour itself is free, we do have to pay for the bus.
Pre-registration Fee: $35 Due by February 1st, 2009
After November 5th, 2008, send to:
34664 ORANGE DRIVE
PINELLAS PARK, FLORIDA 33781
Frank will hold your payments. If you pay by check, note that Frank will not cash those checks until we have sufficient entries, so that if we have to refund, Frank will simply send your checks back to you.
Please also note that this fee is NON-REFUNDABLE after February 1st, 2009. Once we are committed to the bus, we will be charged the booking fee.
On-site Sign up Fee: $40
We MUST have 20 attendees registered and Paid by Feb 1st, or we cannot reserve the bus. Once we confirm the minimum, you will be able to join the tour the day we depart, for late add-ons. If we do not meet the minimum, we will car-caravan for Friday’s tours.
For more information, email David Powell at: Dpowell334@aol.com
Friday, November 14, 2008
Recently I was posting some Shiloh tablets on Historical Marker Database and going back over my Shiloh manuscript gave me an idea of how to improve my Chickamauga maps. Not sure if my recent burst of creativity and productivity is a result of having fewer roundtable responsibilities but it does feel good to get these projects moving forward again.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I've also added the information compilation section like has been talked about on a few different blogs this week. I think it is useful to sort some blogs into this section. If you want your blog included in this section let me know. Basically I put blogs in there that seemed like the posts were mostly geared towards putting some sort of Civil War knowledge/information online with a minimum of opinion. A few I had a hard time classifying. Like Gettysburg Daily. That site shows some feature of Gettysburg daily and when I plan my next trip there I'll use the site to amass a list of places I want to see, and there are things I've learned from it but I just wasn't sure it was "information compilation." Now if they did an officer biography or unit history every day then I probably would add it to the compilation section. There were others I had a hard time with too. Basically this is a somewhat new designation and as such is still in its formative stage. I'm sure there will be blogs to add, and remove, from the "information compilation" section in the coming weeks and months but at least today I started to make some changes around here.
I'm also looking at making a few other small additions to the right column information. One idea is to add a section with small book reviews. Like a list of what I've read recently. Some things I've read I'm waiting on posting the review here until it appears in print in Civil War News, and in the meantime I thought it might be nice to have a picture of the book, and a paragraph that gives a very quick overview with a recommendation on how good the book was.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Another pickup from the library. I thought this was an interesting book. Its listed as a juvenile book but I think it also suits a mass market well. Basically this is an easy to read book that covers the Civil War for anyone who does not know, or remember from school, much of that conflict.
There is a fair amount of coverage of the causes of the war. It covers roughly a sixth of the book. Then a section about half that size follows on the election and the buildup to Fort Sumter and First Manassas. After that battle events dominate the text but some of the lesser events are also mentioned, like Robert Smalls escaping to freedom by stealing an armed Confederate ship and steaming past other Confederate ships. There is also a section that talks about the common soldiers, but battle oddities and stories fill most of the pages.
If you read this blog daily this book is not for you. It might be for that family member of yours that wonders just why you feel compelled to watch the sunset from Little Round Top, or be in Fraley Field at sunrise.
Friday, November 7, 2008
'The last mail ... brought scores of Eastern and Western papers with similar recommendations. The voice of the press is almost unanimous in its approval. That is a pretty correct index of popular opinion, and we may therefore set down that almost the entire loyal States endorse the action of the President. It must be expected that the ultra Abolitionists will kick against it, as too conservative for their radical views. Let them squirm! 'Honest Abe' has shown that he will be no tool of theirs.' "
This struck me as odd because up until the time Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation he did everything possible to distance him from emancipation. When a variety of generals declared emancipation in their districts he forced them to rescind those orders. So I emailed the author.
He wrote back:
"I'm a little puzzled by your view of Lincoln's "preliminary proclamation," though. I have a photocopy (that I made) of the actual April 8, 1862, page from the Rocky. It fully lays out Lincoln's apparent intentions, and the date is clearly printed. It goes on at quite some length, in fact. And as you no doubt read, the paper even went on to comment regarding the preliminary news."
I've since asked him to send a copy of the April 8th issue so that I might be able to find out more of what the paper was reporting. Does anyone out there have ideas of what could be in the paper?
I wrote back to the author my knowledge of the Emancipation Proclamation. Basically that the first reference to it is in Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles' diary. He mentions being told about the proclamation by Lincoln on July 13th 1862 in the company of Secretary of State William Seward. At a cabinet meeting on July 22 Lincoln revealed the proclamation to his entire cabinet and sought their advice as far as implementation went. He had already made up his mind to go forward with the proclamation. Seward convinces Lincoln to wait, saying that, “It may be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government, a cry for help.” And “that it would be considered our last shriek, on the retreat."
While the proclamation sat in his desk Lincoln did his best to project a public appearance of moderation. There is a famous letter he wrote to Horace Greeley on August 22, 1862 in which he states,
“I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”
I told the author that I doubted that there would be proclamation news in April that was directly tied to Lincoln when in August he didn't let out a bit info to Greeley. If Greeley knew something the world would have known it as his paper had one of the widest circulations in the country. Yet somehow the Denver paper reports on an emancipation proclamation four months before Greeley urges Lincoln to adopt the same route. I'm guessing that the April 8th issue was just reporting rumors of emancipation, which the Radical Republicans wanted from the start of the war, and somehow Lincoln's name was associated with these rumors. I'll be interested to see if the author can send me a copy of the April 8th issue and see exactly what it says.
I do regret having to contact the author through the corrections department. I truly do not think this deserves to be listed as a correction in the paper so I hope that I didn't get him into any trouble by contacting him that way. It sounds like the error was made in 1862 when the paper directly linked Lincoln with this emancipation rumor. Although it would be funny to see in the corrections section: "Correction: A story on page 1 of the April 8, 1862 issue incorrectly said that Lincoln was issuing an emancipation proclamation. Instead it was other politicians who were urging Lincoln to adopt such a proclamation."
Just got an email from the author. Apparently what the April 8th issue talked about was Lincoln's plan to buy all the slaves from the South. A message from Lincoln to Congress that says, in part, "Resolved, That the United States ought to co-operate with any State which may adopt a gradual abolishment of Slavery, giving to such State pecuniary aid, to be used by such State in its discretion, to compensate for the inconveniences, public and private, produced by such change of system." So the newspaper in 1862 called it an emancipation proclamation when it was a bit less. Since this was the first emancipation proclamation of any kind I think they can be allowed to exaggerate a bit.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Harry uses Bull Runnings to list a ton of 1st Manassas stuff. If I have a 1st Manassas question I often go to his site first as I know it might be there somewhere in the archives.
Don at Crossed Sabers has a ton of info on the Regular Cavalry units in the war. I don't often have a cavalry question but his is a great site the few times I've had questions.
Craig at To the Sound of the Guns uses his blog almost like Brian does with Behind Antietam on the Web. Craig is also a major contributor at Historical Marker Database and uses his blog to give updates on that site as well as talk about his trips to battlefields (a kindred spirit).
Jenny at Draw the Sword offers a daily Gettysburg monument. Her blog inspired me to do something similar with Shiloh monuments here awhile back.
I'm sure there are other blogs like this but these are the ones that spring to mind first. Most other blogs offer up more of a daily thoughts take than systematically examining something. I think I will follow their leads and in the next few days rearrange my blog list with a section for "Information Compilation" blogs.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
First was the January 12, 1861 edition that talked about South Carolina's secession. Then on April 18, 1861 there was the firing on Fort Sumter. Today's was the April 10, 1862 edition that told of the battle at Glorietta Pass in New Mexico.
These are interesting editions to read partly because this is my town but also because you can really see how removed Denver was from the rest of the world. The Sumter news took 6 days to arrive and then it was only that the firing had started, not that the fort was surrendered. The secession news took much longer, roughly 3 weeks. The Glorietta news took about 2 weeks to arrive.
I'll be interested to see what other Civil War news cracks the top 150. I'm guessing there will be something on the Sand Creek Massacre and Lincoln's assassination. Besides that I'm not sure what other editions might make the cut. What's nice about the Rocky Mountain News site is that they offer the front pages in pdf so you can read the entire page and see all the news that made the cut that day.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Part of the problem too is commentators with no sense of history. I hear countless talking heads yammering on about how this is the most bitter election in history. And I'm left thinking back to 1860. Back then half the country was threatening to leave if the election didn't go their way. That has not been mentioned as a possibility this year.
The personal attacks in ads are also pointed out as an example of the bitterness of this election. But in 1856 congressman Preston Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner with his cane on the Senate floor. Brooks resigned his seat in the House of Representatives but his constituents considered him a hero and reelected him. True Sumner was not running against Brooks but when congressmen are fighting on the Senate floor (or actually Sumner was receiving a severe beating while another congressman, Laurence Keitt, prevented anyone from coming to Sumner's aid by brandishing a pistol) calling someone a cheat or a liar in a campaign ad does not seem that horrible.
In any respect its all over today. I'll be glad to see the return of all those other ads. I know the actual final tally might take a few more days to be 100% sure who the winner was but at least those horrible ads will be done. And maybe some talking heads will read a book before 2012 and will realize that while modern elections are bitter and filled with name calling and false accusations they do not measure up with the tumultuous times we went through roughly 150 years ago. In fact I bet if we truly dissected all the old campaigns we would find out that generally campaigns bring out the worst in people, they say things about the other party and their candidates that they would normally not say. I'd be willing to bet that there has never been a campaign that has been a 100% rational discussion of the issues involved with no exaggerations made by either side.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Our final panel will consist of Russel Beatie, Ted Alexander, Bradley Gottfried,Lance Herdegen and Timothy B. Smith. The theme is Lee Invades the North.
Russel Beatie, who is working on a multi-volume history of the Army of the Potomac, will provide an overview and give some context for the two campaigns. Ted Alexander, chief historian at Antietam, will talk about the battle of Antietam. Bradley Gottfried, who has done some wonderful work on Gettysburg including "Brigades of Gettysburg" and "Maps of Gettysburg" will talk about the battle of Gettysburg. Lance Herdegen, a leading authority on the Iron Brigade, will talk about the Iron Brigade's experiences at Antietam and Gettysburg. Timothy B. Smith, who has done much work on the creation of these battlefields into national parks, will talk about the formation of Antietam and Gettysburg and will include the modern efforts to return, primarily, Gettysburg to its war time appearance.
Like last year we will have time for author signing and will have many of the presenters' books for sale. We will also add a panel discussion to end the day's festivities. Last April we did not do this as we wanted to keep things simple for our first time, but now we feel confident enough to try a bit more.
Here is a reading list of what each author has written so that you can become a bit more acquainted with each presenter:
Russel H. Beatie
The Army of the Potomac: Birth of Command, November 1860-September 1861
Army of the Potomac, Volume II: McClellan Takes Command, September 1861-February 1862
Army of the Potomac: McClellan's First Campaign, March - May 1862
Timothy B. Smith:
The Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation: The Decade of the 1890's and the Establishment of America's First Five Military Parks
This Great Battlefield of Shiloh: History, Memory, and the Establishment of a Civil War National Military Park
The Untold Story of Shiloh: The Battle and the Battlefield
Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862
Champion Hill: Decisive Battle for Vicksburg
The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged by D. W. Reed
Those Damned Black Hats! The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign
The Men Stood Like Iron: How the Iron Brigade Won Its Name
Four Years with the Iron Brigade: The Civil War Journal of William Ray, Seventh Wisconsin Volunteers with Sherry Murphy
In the Bloody Railroad Cut at Gettysburg with William J.K. Beaudot
Bradley M. Gottfried
The Artillery of Gettysburg
Brigades of Gettysburg: The Union and Confederate Brigades at the Battle of Gettysburg
The Maps of Gettysburg: The Gettysburg Campaign June 3 – July 13
Roads to Gettysburg: Lee's Invasion of the North, 1863
Kearny's Own: The History of the First New Jersey Brigade in the Civil War
Stopping Pickett: The History of the Philadelphia Brigade
The Battle of Gettysburg: A Guided Tour with Edward J. Stackpole, and Wilbur Sturtevant Nye.