Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Sorry I've been away for the last few weeks. Just got busy with holiday madness, plus I have taken on a second job. I just have not had much spare time this month for much of anything connected with the Civil War. Hopefully things will settle down again after the first of the year.

Happy holidays to all of my friends and readers out there.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The other day I received a review copy of “Chatfield Story.” There were a few oddities in how endnotes were done which made me wonder who the publisher was. It turned out to be booksurge, a do it yourself publisher. Booksurge has since become createspace. So that cleared up why there were a few oddities in endnotes (and in a few other minor areas), it was because the author had 100% control over the product and decided that this was the way they wanted to do endnotes. I’m not a huge fan of their endnotes but I’ve seen publishers do even odder things so its not a huge issue. Personally I prefer footnotes but there are nearly as many ways to do notes as there are publishers so I don’t get worked up when publishers don’t use footnotes or do something else odd.

Anyway the book made me curious about createspace. The book itself is wonderfully put together, if the endnotes had been done a little differently I don’t think I would have ever known this was a do it yourself book otherwise.

It prompted me to find out more about createspace because I’ve had my own issues getting my work published. A brief review of my manuscript’s status; the peer review came back positive, suggesting some changes (which have been made) before publishing but not needing another peer review before then. But the head ranger at the one battlefield indicated that he would never allow the book to be sold in his book store, I’ve since found out that basically he blocks all new books on his battle from appearing in his bookstore (unless he published them, which he has not yet done). The other two battlefield parks I’ve worked on have been enthusiastic about the project. I’ve received tremendous support from both and have completed two other manuscripts along the way, only one of the battlefields has yet to be done and only because I have not had the time to get there and put in the leg work needed (and probably won’t now for the foreseeable future).

But that one park ranger scared my first publisher to the point that they decided not to do any of the books, even though they also thought all the projects were worthwhile. I have not sent the manuscripts to any other publishers because they will eventually run into the same road block with the ranger. In my mind it seems like why bothering to send a manuscript off, get good peer reviews and then have it all end when they try to get it sold in the park. So the fact that createspace books have an ISBN number and can be ordered by any book store, and by anyone on amazon made me very interested. Yes, I would like to walk into the battlefield book store and see my book, it probably would also be a great source of sales, but on the other hand I tend to buy few books at battlefield book stores, instead buying them at home online. I support the battlefield stores by buying t-shirts, maps, pins, hats and the like, things that I cannot find online. So maybe not being sold in the battlefield book store is not such a horrible thing.

The tough part of going through createspace will be not having a publisher’s marketing team working with me. I’ll have to do it all myself. I’ll have to do all the marketing myself. As I’ve learned through some publisher’s blogs (Ted Savas’ in particular) the author needs to do a lot of that work anyway, the publishers do what they can but if the author sits back waiting for the sales to roll in they will wait in vain. The publishers do help with some of the major advertising and helping to focus the efforts, but if Savas Beatie published my book I’d probably have to work just as hard to get people to buy it than if I published it myself through createspace.

The financials at createspace do seem pretty good. For example if my book was 350 pages (a reasonably accurate figure) it would cost me $8.50 to print a book, or if I upgraded to the pro plan it would cost $5.05 per book. The pro plan costs $39 per title and if you sell more than a dozen it pays for itself. If I then sold the book for $20 I would get paid $7.50 per sale at the createspace estore, or $3.50 per sale through amazon. On the pro plan those figures jump to $10.95 at createspace and $6.95 at amazon. I don’t really know what royalty figures are at other publishers but from what I’ve heard I don’t think $6.95 is a horrible royalty, although I could be wrong.

So I’m really considering publishing these three books through createspace. They are all not 100% ready to go so I could stagger them a bit, print one every 4-6 months or so, to make sure they are perfect. One other major roadblock doing it this way is that there is no copy editor to check my work, nor is there any peer review. I can accomplish both on my own by sending it to people (and having to pay them as well), its just one more thing that is not done for me. That’s part of the reason I think getting one out every 6 months is a reasonable goal as it allows time for me to get it in the hands of other readers.

Do you all think I’m crazy for going this route? Any advice to give, pro or con about the createspace versus established publisher route?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Shiloh Campaign

The Shiloh Campaign Edited by Steven E. Woodworth

Eastern theater battles have long been the beneficiaries of essay filled books. Gary Gallagher has edited roughly a dozen of these books. Now the Western theater is getting the same treatment as Steven Woodworth has embarked on a series of books through Southern Illinois University. Each book will be a collection of essays from some of the leading Western theater historians. The first book in “Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland” is The Shiloh Campaign. It is a pretty balanced collection of essays. There are three which focus on the Union, three on the Confederates and two are on battle events that clearly affected both sides.

In the first chapter John R. Lundberg intends to give a recap of Albert Sidney Johnston’s actions in the Shiloh campaign, beginning roughly with the fall of Fort Donelson. Lundberg believes that Johnston has been unfairly criticized for his actions during this time period. Although the essay is good at recapping Johnston’s activities I do not fully agree with his assessment that Johnston had shown a vast improvement in his abilities as a commander. Of course his performance in the Shiloh campaign was better than his performance during the Forts Henry-Donelson campaign, his performance there was below par. So while he was making an improvement he was still not living up to Jefferson Davis’ earlier assessment of his abilities. Lundberg says that Johnston “might conceivably have become as great a field commander as Lee or Jackson.” This seems doubtful given his performance so far. Lundberg is most likely right though when he says “His death at Shiloh lengthened the odds against Confederate success in the West and thus ultimately in the war as a whole.” Of course that is only right because the commanders who replaced Johnston over the next three years did not achieve great results. We’ll never know if Johnston would have done much better.

Stuart’s defense of the Union left is one of the lesser known actions of the battle but it gets covered here by Alexander Mendoza. He does a good job explaining the flow of battle but his times do not coincide with the times listed on the markers and monuments on the field. He credits Stuart with holding his main position til 3 pm, but all the markers say the position was held until 2 pm. If his times are to be believed then Johnston was killed in the rear of Stuart’s position.

Timothy B. Smith provides an excellent essay on the Hornets’ Nest in memory, basically how several key figures have shaped our understanding of the Hornets’ Nest in the context of the battle. The main figure at work here is David W. Reed, first historian of the park , who fought in the Hornets’ Nest with the 12th Iowa. Smith argues, convincingly, that the main fighting occurred on either side of the Hornets’ Nest. While it seemed to those Union defenders that they were holding off repeated charges, they were actually facing a small part of the Confederate army while the rest of the army fought elsewhere. Once the rest of the Union army had retreated to the final line at Pittsburg Landing the Confederates focused more attention on this last pocket of resistance. Smith points out that the final line was essentially finished by 4:30, so there was no need for Prentiss and WHL Wallace to stay in the Hornets’ Nest as long as they did. In other words, since the main fighting was elsewhere and the final defensive line was ready at 4:30 the defense of the Hornets’ Nest cannot be the most important action of the day; and yet due to the efforts of Reed it is considered one of the most important parts of the battle.

Lew Wallace’s march is one of the mysteries of the battle. Wallace was a competent general, who had shown some talent earlier in the war and would later turn in respectable performances. Steven Woodworth tackles Lew Wallace’s march well, as he works through the troubled time line created by non-standardized times between commanders. Woodworth is of the opinion that Wallace’s removal from the army had less to do with the speed of the march and more to do with the lack of urgency displayed when it was made clear to Wallace the dire predicament that the army was in.

Gary D. Joiner does a good of explaining the activities of the two Union gunboats. He also briefly talks about how the gunboats used the slope of Dill Branch to deflect their shots towards the Confederate lines. A greater explanation of this would have been helpful as it seems to me that deflecting shells would not have been any more effective than using a higher gun elevation.

The only old essay used is one by Grady McWhiney in which he attacks Beauregard’s “Complete Victory.” McWhiney argues that the Confederates had a chance to break the final line and that the attack was worth trying. Beauregard however decided against making a final attack, even though he had not seen the position and had no way of knowing if the battle was truly won. That did not stop Beauregard from sending off a telegram to Richmond proclaiming a complete victory, which would come back to haunt him.

Charles D. Grear provided an essay on Confederate soldiers’ reactions to the battle but this covered mostly the same topics that Joseph Allan Frank and George A. Reaves dealt with in Seeing the Elephant: Raw Recruits at the Battle of Shiloh.

The final essay concerns the relationship between Grant and Sherman. Brooks D. Simpson blows a few holes in popular Grant stories from the post-Shiloh time frame. The first being a Lincoln story that he had arranged for Halleck to come to Pittsburg Landing after Shiloh to shield Grant from criticisms, when the facts show that Halleck intended to come to Pittsburg Landing once Buell’s army arrived. The other part of this Lincoln story is that he supposedly said “I can’t spare this man, he fights,” but Simpson points out that immediately after the battle Lincoln did ask Halleck if Grant was negligent. We can infer that Lincoln might not have spared Grant if Halleck had answered yes. The second story to get a more critical look is about Sherman convincing Grant to stay with the army. While Sherman might have given that pep talk Halleck also asked Grant to delay leaving the army, a week later Grant would again command an army. Simpson also reminds us that had Sherman turned against Grant in the aftermath of Shiloh it might have meant the end of Grant’s career as Sherman was very well connected politically. Instead Sherman leaped to defend Grant and might have saved his career.

I have one complaint about the book, there are only three maps in the entire book. There is a general overview map in the introduction and two detailed maps in the Hornets’ Nest chapter. I constantly was referring back to the overview map as I read sections. Not every chapter needed maps but some, such as the essays on Stuart’s fight and Wallace’s march, would have been much better with maps. Then there are minor issues with the book, such as there is no essay on Buell’s forces or coverage of the second day of battle.

This review also appears in the December issue of Civil War News.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Update on Shiloh presentation

I'm currently working on a presentation for the Rocky Mountain Civil War Round Table in which I'll discuss the fighting around the crossroads at Shiloh. Sherman and McClernand do a masterful job of holding back the many Confederate brigades that are sent against them. I think the fighting here was more important than the better known places like the Sunken Road, but generally the historiography has not ranked it as highly.

To get a better grasp of the fighting I'm reading a ton of official reports. Just now I was reading Major Franklin H. Clack's report of the activities of the Confederate Guard Response Battalion (in Anderson's Brigade). After giving a good account of the capture of a battery he then sums up the rest of the day's action with:

"From this time, sir, until the close of the day I am unable to describe the various localities in which you led us to the attack. We made several other successful charges, being ordered from one part of the field to the other, where our services were most needed."

That really does not help me in placing the unit on the field anywhere else. Oh well. Luckily the placing of one regiment is not a big deal for me, I would have liked to pin point every one but knew going into the project that was impossible.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Big news

There are times when great news can be shared with just a few words, this is one of those times. My wife is pregnant!!

Its still pretty early, due date will be mid July, but my wife said its okay to spread the news. Its been tough keeping the news quiet as long as I have, which truthfully has not been very long.

I'm super excited. Right now I can't think of the words to describe how excited I am.

Expect a post every so often over the next several months to have some sort of update on her progress.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Turchin's Chickamauga

Awhile back I stumbled across a potentially really interesting find. I requested John Turchin's Chickamauga through interlibrary loan, with the intention of xeroxing the entire book. Since then google books has made this unnecessary.

The interesting find is that inside the cover was a notation that this copy once belonged to William Rosecrans, commander of the Union army at Chickamauga. But as I read the book I found four pages that had hand written notations on them. They are in pencil so they are not the clearest copies. All the notations center around the time when Wood's Division moved out of the lines on September 20, right before Longstreet assaulted that very spot and turned the tide toward Confederate victory.

This is page 112 with the simple notation, "mistake"

Page 116 with the notation, "[?] Sheridan [?] way to shore up the left of our lines"

Page 127 with the notation, "this is a weak argument to expect a [?] [?]"

Page 128 with the notation, "this is a great mistake"

Is it Rosecrans' handwriting? I have no idea. I only offer it up as an interesting quirk of research. I did find this letter by Rosecrans to allow for some handwriting comparison. My initial reaction is that it does not eliminate the possibility that the writing in the book is Rosecrans'. I'd like to think it is Rosecrans' writing, it seems like an odd hoax to make.
I also posted this pictures on the Civil War West Yahoo discussion group when I found it a few years back. The pictures there might be a bit clearer, I think I scanned them differently back then.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

I would like to thank all of our veterans who have protected us through our great history. As a Civil War buff and blogger I deal with soldiers every day. Whether that's reading about what they did in their own words or by others, or looking at the battlefields that they fought on, and many other ways.

I had a few relatives who fought in the Civil War.

Jacob Goll, 24th Wisconsin, Co. C. Enlisted 1 August 1862. Murdered 25 October 1864 at Marietta, GA.

Friedrich Goehring, 9th Wisconsin, Co. A. Enlisted 17 September 1861. Mustered out 3 December 1864.

Frederick Illian, 37th Wisconsin, Co. G. Drafted 21 October 1864. Mustered out 27 July 1865.

Henry Kneibes, 6th Wisconsin, Co. I. Drafted 21 October 1864. Mustered out 14 July 1865.

Peter Reis, 107th Ohio, Co. F. Enlisted 22 August 1862. Died 10 July 1863 of wounds received at Gettysburg on July 2nd.

My connection to Peter Reis is not direct. My dad's mother was Luella Goll, her mother was Caroline Illian, and her father was Lewis Illian. Lewis' father was Friederich Illian, the same Illian listed above in the 37th Wisconsin. At that same time his brother-in-law, Heinrich Kniebes was also drafted and served in the 6th Wisconsin. Both men were 44 years old and lived on the same farm (owned by Friederich Illian). Friederich's mother and father in law also lived on the farm and when he was drafted were probably a big help to Friederich's wife, who had seven children aged 15 years to 14 months old to take care of. One of Friederich's daughters, Catherine, married Wilhelm Reinheimer. Wilhelm's aunt Elisabeth was married to Peter Reis. Like I said the relation is not direct at all but a line can still be traced.

Additionally, Robert Meisinger (my grandfather) served on the USS Hope and USS Thistle during WW2. His father Louis served in the 150th Machinegun Battalion (Rainbow Division) in WW1. My GG Uncle Alexander Kurtz was in the Coastal Artillery in WW1 headed to Europe when a submarine sunk his troop transport ship and he was killed. A few years my uncle gave me Alexander's hunting shotgun and one of Alexanders' brothers engraved the stock with the particulars of his death.

I also have veterans who did not see war service. John Kurtz, my great grandfather and Alexander's brother, served in the Wisconsin National Guard during WW1. My father, Gary Kurtz, served in the Colorado National Guard (originally enlisting in the Wisconsin National Guard) for over 20 years. Part of his unit was sent to the Persian Gulf the first time around but luckily he was not.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chatfield Story

Yesterday I was wandering through my library looking for a new book to start. Nothing was catching my eye and then in the mail I received my next book to review for Civil War News. At first glance its nothing too special, "The Chatfield Story," the letters and diaries of private Edward L. Chatfield of the 113th Illinois. But it turns out that private Chatfield moved to Colorado after the war and farmed some land near my parents' current house. The nearby reservoir is named Chatfield and one of the major streets in the area is named Chatfield as well (as well as a high school, although in that case they are simply using the name Chatfield and did not directly name it after the man). So now a simple collection of letters and diaries takes on much more interest for me. I'm going to dive into this one tonight and look forward to learning more about the man whose name abounds in the area I live in.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maps of Chickamauga

The latest release in the amazing Savas Beatie "Maps of ... "series is the Maps of Chickamauga, by Dave Powell and cartography by David Friedrichs. I received my copy the other day and it is another amazing volume.

The basic concept for each book is that when the book is laid open the right side page has a map and the left side page has the text that explains the actions on that map. The book is in a large format (7X10) so the maps are nice and big and there is quite a bit of text accompanying each map. This is not simply a paragraph or two but a full page of text. If you just read the text and never looked at a map you would have a good understanding of the battle but the maps really seal the deal.

The other way to get the most out of these map books is to refer to those maps while reading one of the highly detailed battle histories that are out there. For instance with this book you would pair it with Peter Cozzens' This Terrible Sound. Cozzens' book does have a good number of maps for a battle history but Powell and Friedrichs probably have 10 times the maps, with more detail. Also the problem with a book like Cozzens is that often when you need a map you've already passed it so you need to flip back to the map. Now you just need to keep a second bookmark in the map book so that you keep pace in that book as you read the detailed battle history. (I don't mean to pick on Cozzens, I'm just using him as an example since the latest map book is on Chickamauga, all battle histories suffer from this problem, its not the fault of the author, its just that none of them have upwards of 100 maps in them).

When the Rocky Mountain Civil War Round Table does a battle study we always have a ton of maps in a binder. When Chickamauga comes around again on our schedule we can just use this book instead of creating a massive binder of maps. Okay, I'll probably still create a massive binder of maps, but I really wouldn't need to.

Earlier Ted Savas provided me with a few low resolution images from the book. If you click on them they'll be a bit better.

Ted also informed me that Powell and Freidrichs are currently working on a book on Chattanooga/Knoxville (and attendant satellite actions). And that Bradley Gottfried is keeping the series going in the Eastern Theater with the Maryland Campaign coming out next. The map series will also include several books on the Trans-Mississippi theater campaigns.


Here's a page of text and the accompanying map.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wisconsin Yankee in Confederate Bayou Country: Halbert Eleazer Paine

A Wisconsin Yankee in the Confederate Bayou Country: The Civil War Reminiscences of a Union General by Halbert Eleazer Paine. Edited by Samuel C. Hyde, Jr.

Union General Halbert E. Paine is a figure one rarely encounters in Civil War literature, except for one particular incident. Paine began his career with a brief stint as quartermaster for the 2nd Wisconsin but was quickly promoted to colonel of the 4th Wisconsin. The 4th Wisconsin was first sent to Washington DC, spent some time on the Eastern Shore of Maryland before being sent to the Gulf of Mexico as part of General Benjamin Butler’s force set to attack New Orleans.

Paine seemed to run have afoul of Brigadier General Thomas Williams from the very beginning that the 4th Wisconsin was attached to Williams’s brigade. At first the issue was Williams’s insistence that his brigade use his own tactical formation, the "Order of Combat." Paine described “Order of Combat” as an “interesting performance” and “an invention of Gen. Williams, who, being absolutely ignorant pf tactics, as of everything else worth knowing, sought to make this scheme take the place of the entire system of tactics.” Apparently the movement from the company lines into “Order of Combat” was not that difficult, it essentially made a formation that was two companies wide and four deep (Paine made no note of where other two companies would be). But Williams did not create an order to return the men to their previous formation.

Eventually the problems between Williams and Paine would be far greater than opinions on drill ground movements. The issue of what to do with the escaped slaves that flooded into Union camps became an early problem for Union commanders. Ironically Butler was one of the first to confront this issue head on as he refused to return slaves to their owners (the Fugitive Slave law was still on the books at that time). His reasoning was that the slaves would materially aid the Confederacy, whether this was working on fortifications or working on plantations to allow white men to build fortifications instead. This would eventually become the Contraband Act.

On June 5, 1862 Paine was faced with this very issue while in Louisiana. A slave owner, and a lieutenant from Williams’s staff, came to Paine’s camp to collect an escaped slave. Paine refused to allow the men to do this, citing a recent Act of Congress that forbade officers from returning slaves to their masters. Paine also stated that many of the slaves furnished information about Confederate dispositions and that they were likely to be killed if returned to their masters. Coincidentally on June 4th Paine had started writing formal charges against Williams for breaking an article of war, namely the very Act of Congress that Paine referenced in his refusal to allow the alleged master to search his camp for his slave. Paine was soon put under arrest by Williams for refusing to obey his order concerning the fugitive slave.

For the first 7 weeks of his arrest Paine remained with his regiment and would be temporarily released from arrest when his men were ordered on a scouting mission. By the end of July Paine grew tired of this and asked Butler if the charges against Williams had made their way to his desk yet. This must have prompted Williams to write Butler asking that the temporary releases end and Butler soon ordered Paine to report to New Orleans. Butler tried to smooth the issue but Paine wanted his day in court. There would be no court martial though as Williams was killed August 5th at the battle of Baton Rouge. Butler sent Paine to Baton Rouge to take command of Williams’s brigade as Paine was the senior colonel in the brigade.

Paine turned in fine service at Baton Rouge, and then during the 1863 Bayou Teche and Port Hudson campaigns. At Port Hudson he was severely wounded in the leg. He would end up losing the leg (remarkably his diary does not refer to which leg was amputated). His diary stops there but he did end up returning to duty commanding troops in the defenses of Washington DC. He would be promoted to brevet Major General at the close of the war.

The format of the text is a bit odd in that it is mainly in a diary format but was actually written in 1901. It is not clear in the introduction if Paine kept a diary that he later reworked or if he did this all from memory. It would seem to be the former as some diary entries are as simple as “I received an order from Gen. Williams to hold a lottery, to determine the rank of captains.” Also knowing that this diary was written nearly forty years afterwards has to make us suspicious of some of his comments about leaders. Forty years later it was clear that Butler was not a great general but in the spring of 1862 Paine might not have had all the negative thoughts that he records in this diary. Perhaps his first impression of Williams was positive, but within a year there would be enough bad blood between the two that Paine would never be able to admit his earlier favorable opinions.

My only issue with the text is that Hyde says Paine’s original manuscript had many more details of the feud with Williams. Hyde says he removed the extra chapter to avoid repetition and also to make the manuscript as a whole better. I think though that this should have been included because this dispute is how most readers have heard of Paine, not for his service in the Baton Rouge, Bayou Teche and Port Hudson campaigns. This is especially true because there is a wonderful regimental history on the 4th Wisconsin (A History of the 4th Wisconsin Infantry and Cavalry in the American Civil War by Michael Martin). If someone wanted to learn about the movements of Paine and the 4th Wisconsin they would be better served by that book than this one. With that in mind I think Hyde would have been well served to explore the Williams-Paine feud more closely. Despite that absence the book is still a very enjoyable read.

This review originally appeared in October issue of Civil War News

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chickamauga Memorial by Tim Smith

A Chickamauga Memorial: The Establishment of America’s First Civil War National Military Park. By Timothy B. Smith

Over the past few years Timothy B. Smith has established himself as one of the leading authorities on the initial preservation of Civil War battlefields in the 1890s. He has previously written about the formation of Shiloh (This Great Battlefield of Shiloh: History, Memory, and the Establishment of a Civil War National Military Park) and the initial period of preservation (The Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation: The Decade of the 1890's and the Establishment of America's First Five Military Parks). Now he has tackled the first battlefield that became a National Military Park, Chickamauga.

Even though battlefield preservation efforts began very early in some instances it wasn’t until the 1890s that the effort began seriously. In 1888 two Union veterans of Chickamauga, Henry Van Ness Boynton and Ferdinand Van Derveer, toured the battlefield and decided that Chickamauga should be preserved. There were already efforts at Gettysburg to preserve that battlefield but what Boynton and Van Derveer’s idea different is that they wanted to preserve the entire battlefield. Gettysburg’s efforts were focused only on saving Union positions, while the newly hatched plan for Chickamauga was preserve both sides’ positions.

Boynton was in a unique position to make this happen. He was the Washington correspondent for the Cincinnati Gazette, founder of the Gridiron Club and friendly with many national politicians. He also was a staunch defender of the Army of the Cumberland, and had written a rebuttal against William T. Sherman’s memoirs. When Boynton returned home from his battlefield tour he threw himself into the effort to create a national military park at Chickamauga, which also intended to include sites in Chattanooga. He started with articles in Cincinnati Gazette, which were eventually published in book form. He also lobbied politicians to spend federal money on creating the park, another new way of preserving a battlefield.

When his efforts to convince Congress to pass legislation creating the park they turned to Boynton to write the bill. With no guide to follow he created a bill that needed few changes and would also be the template for future battlefield park legislation as four other battlefields became national parks in the 1890s. Boynton was then selected as the first park historian. From this position Boynton would greatly influence how the story of the battle was told. No plaque or monument could be placed during his watch without his approval. The fight on Snodgrass Hill took on greater prominence in the Chickamauga story and it was no coincidence that Boynton’s regiment, the 35th Ohio, had fought there. There were obviously controversies over positions but Boynton almost always prevailed.

Interestingly the way Boynton preserved both battlefields was different. At Chickamauga the entire battlefield was purchased, sometimes through condemnation proceedings. At Chattanooga only land along roadways with some small side parcels was preserved. This was done primarily because Chattanooga had grown in the intervening years and huge parcels of land could not be purchased. This method was first copied at Antietam and became known as the Antietam Plan but Smith argues, quite correctly, that it should be called the Chattanooga Plan. Within both units of the park both methods of preservation were utilized. Since the 1890s preservation efforts, nationally and locally, mainly followed the Chattanooga Plan. In recent decades preservationists have gone back to Boynton’s original idea of preserving huge tracts of land.

It was not long after Chickamauga became a park that the Spanish-American War began. The US Army needed areas to train and garrison soldiers before sending them to Cuba. Chickamauga became one of these sites. Over 70,000 passed through the park on their way to the war. Their presence damaged roads and left a mess behind. A few years later the Army would build Fort Oglethorpe just north of the park. The park was still used for maneuvers but the total impact was lessened. The park was again used as a staging ground for World War One, with 60,000 troops using the park. Trenches were dug on Snodgrass Hill to simulate the trench warfare the men would see in Europe. In 1933 FDR transferred the park to the Interior Department and it would not be used by the troops for World War Two.

Smith’s book in some respects can be considered a biography of Boynton as Boynton was the prime moving force in the early days of the park. From 1888 until his death in 1905 there probably was no other man who was more active in park activities than Boynton. In fact one wonders if Smith might write a biography of Boynton sometime in the future.

I have one minor complaint about Smith’s book. It is that he ends the story with the 1933 transfer to the Interior Department. He does a brief recap of events at the park since then but I wish there was more. I do understand it however as Smith’s goal was to write about the formation of the first national military park and that story is over by 1933. I think this book is a worthwhile addition to anyone with an interest in Chickamauga, or who has visited our national battlefield parks and wondered how it all got started.
This review also appeared in the November issue of Civil War News

Friday, October 30, 2009

Shiloh maps

This week I've been working on a Shiloh presentation I'm doing for the Rocky Mountain Civil War Round Table on December 10th. Its on the Crossroads, I'll be covering Sherman and McClernand's area from the first strike in the 53rd Ohio's camp thru the withdrawal after the noon counterattack. The round table is doing a theme lately of focusing on a small aspect of a battle. Last month was the Sunken Road at Antietam, earlier in the year was the Wheatfield of Gettysburg. I think there are others coming up but do not remember right now what they might be.

So the last few days I've been working on my maps. I scanned in the park service brochure and then edited out all the modern stuff I didn't want, like tour stops and modern names for roads. Then using the Trailhead Graphics map I put on the locations of every marker and monument. Its not perfect as the scale is different but I put each one as close as I could, and since no one is going to use my map in the field it does not need to be 100% accurate. For all the maps I used the marker's numeric designation. Later I'll either add a legend or will change the numbers to regimental designations.

First I have a map showing all the Union camp sites and I've added the brigade commanders' names and drawn lines to show how each brigade was scattered, or kept together as the case might be.

Then I made a map showing only the markers for this fighting, and my time frame only.

Then I made a map with the monuments for all the units involved. I would like to add the monuments to the markers map too but I think it will be too cluttered in this scale.

Then I made maps with just Union and Confederate positions, these versions don't show monuments but I think I have the space to add them. I also made versions that only show the positions for each division and each brigade but those are more for sorting my own notes.
This is the Union version:

And the Confederate:

Future ideas for the maps:
1) Depending on how cluttered it is, so it might be a divisional level map, draw a line between positions each regiment held so that you could clearly see where they moved to.
2) Make a map for each distinct time period that shows positions for both sides. I will be doing these, still fine tuning how many maps and the times represented.
At the actual presentation I will probably pass out a small packet of the maps (probably about 4) and then use the projector to show many more maps as I talk. So I'm willing to make a ton of maps because I know I don't have to print every single one.
I posted this early look at my maps with the hope my readers would offer some input on the whole deal.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Confederate Order of Battle for Shiloh

Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, (killed) commanding
Col. Wm. Preston, volunteer aid (OR Report)

Gen. P.G. T. Beauregard, commanding, Monday (OR Report)
Col. Jacob Thompson, volunteer aid (OR Report)

Maj. Gen. Leonidas Polk (OR Report)
Maj. Smith P. Bankhead, Chief of Artillery (OR Report)
Surg W. D. Lyles, Medical Director (OR Report)

Brig. Gen. Charles Clark (wounded) (OR Report) (Supplement OR Report)
First Brigade
Col. Robert M. Russell (OR Report)
11th Louisiana (OR Report)
12th Tennessee (OR Report) (OR Report)
13th Tennessee (OR Report)
22d Tennessee
Bankhead’s Tennessee Battery

Second Brigade
Brig. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart (OR Report)
13th Arkansas (OR Report) (OR Report)
4th Tennessee (OR Report)
5th Tennessee (OR Report)
33d Tennessee (OR Report)
Stanford’s Mississippi Battery (OR Report)

Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham (wounded) (OR Report)

First Brigade
Brig. Gen. Bushrod R. Johnson (wounded) (OR Report)
Blythe's Mississippi
Walker’s 2d Tennessee
15th Tennessee
154th Senior Tennessee (OR Report) (OR Report)
Polk’s Tennessee Battery

Second Brigade
Col. William H. Stephens (OR Report) (Maney’s OR Report)
7th Kentucky (OR Report)
1st Tennessee Battalion
6th Tennessee
9th Tennessee
Smith’s Mississippi Battery

1st Mississippi (OR Report) (OR Report)
Mississippi and Alabama Battalion (OR Report)

47th Tennessee (arrived on field April 7)

Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg (OR Report)

Brig. Gen. Daniel Ruggles (OR Report)

First Brigade
Col. Randall L. Gibson (OR Report)
1st Arkansas (OR Report)
4th Louisiana (OR Report)
13th Louisiana (OR Report)
19th Louisiana (OR Report)
Vaiden, or Bain's Mississippi Battery

Second Brigade
Brig. Gen. Patton Anderson (OR Report)
1st Florida Battalion (OR Report)
17th Louisiana (OR Report)
20th Louisiana (OR Report)
Confederate Guards Response Battalion (OR Report)
9th Texas (OR Report)
Washington (Louisiana) Artillery, Fifth Company (OR Report)

Third Brigade
Col. Preston Pond, Jr. (OR Report)
16th Louisiana (OR Report)
18th Louisiana (OR Report)
Crescent (Louisiana) Regiment (OR Report)
Orleans Guard (Louisiana) Battalion
38th Tennessee (OR Report)
Ketchum's Alabama Battery (OR Report)

1st Alabama Cavalry Battalion (OR Report)
Prattville Dragoons (OR Report)
Mathew Rangers (OR Report)
Robins’ Cavalry (OR Report)

Brig. Gen. Jones M. Withers (OR Report)

First Brigade
Brig. Gen. Adley H. Gladden (mortally wounded)
Col. Daniel W. Adams (wounded) (OR Report) (Deas’ OR Report) (Loomis' OR Report)
21st Alabama (OR Report)
22d Alabama (OR Report) (OR Report)
25th Alabama (OR Report)
26th Alabama (OR Report)
1st Louisiana
Robertson's Alabama Battery

Second Brigade
Brig. Gen. James R. Chalmers (OR Report)
5th Mississippi
7th Mississippi
9th Mississippi
10th Mississippi
52d. Tennessee
Gage's Alabama Battery

Third Brigade
Brig. Gen. John K. Jackson (OR Report) (Moore’s OR Report)
17th Alabama
18th Alabama (OR Report)
19th Alabama (OR Report)
2d Texas (OR Report)
Girardey's Georgia Battery (OR Report)

Clanton's Alabama Regiment

Maj. Gen. William J. Hardee (wounded) (OR Report)

First Brigade
Brig. Gen. Thomas C. Hindman (disabled), commanding his own and Third Brigade
Col. R. G. Shaver (disabled) (OR Report)
2d Arkansas (OR Report)
6th Arkansas
7th Arkansas (OR Report)
3d Confederate
Warren Light Artillery, or Swett's Mississippi Battery,
Pillow's Flying Artillery, or Miller's Tennessee Battery,

Second Brigade
Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne (OR Report)
15th Arkansas
6th Mississippi
Bate’s 2d Tennessee (OR Report) (OR Report)
5th (35th) Tennessee (OR Report)
23d Tennessee (OR Report)
24th Tennessee

Shoup's Battalion
Trigg's (Austin) Arkansas Battery
Calvert's (Helena) Arkansas Battery
Hubbard's Arkansas Battery

Third Brigade
Brig. Gen. Sterling A. M. Wood (disabled) (OR Report)
16th Alabama (OR Report)
8th Arkansas (OR Report)
9th (14th ) Arkansas (battalion) (OR Report)
3d Mississippi Battalion (OR Report)
27th Tennessee (OR Report)
44th Tennessee (OR Report)
55th Tennessee
Harper's (Jefferson Mississippi) Battery (OR Report) (OR Report)
Avery’s Georgia Dragoons (OR Report)

Brig. Gen. John C. Breckinridge (OR Report)

First Brigade
Col. Robert P. Trabue (OR Report)
Clifton's 4th Alabama Battalion
31st Alabama
3d Kentucky
4th Kentucky
5th Kentucky
6th Kentucky
Crew's Tennessee Battalion
Lyon's (Cobb's) Kentucky Battery
Byrne's Mississippi Battery
Morgan’s Squadron Kentucky Cavalry

Second Brigade
Brig. Gen. John S. Bowen (wounded) (Martin’s OR Report)
9th Arkansas (OR Report)
10th Arkansas
2d Confederate
1st Missouri
Pettus Flying Artillery, or Hudson's Mississippi Battery
Watson's Louisiana Battery
Thompson's Company Kentucky Cavalry

Third Brigade
Col. Winfield S. Statham, 15th Mississippi
15th Mississippi
22d Mississippi
19th Tennessee
20th Tennessee
28th Tennessee
45th Tennessee
Rutledge's Tennessee Battery
Forrest's Regiment Tennessee Cavalry

Wharton's Texas Regiment Cavalry (OR Report)
Wirt Adams's Mississippi Regiment Cavalry
McClung's Tennessee Battery
Roberts Arkansas Battery

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Principles of War

Earlier this week I talked about principles of war. I just wanted to post the list alone so it'd be easier for all of us to refer back to when needed.

Objective: Direct every military operation towards a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective.

Offensive: Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative.

Mass: Concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time.

Economy of Force: Allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts.

Maneuver: Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power.

Unity of Command: For every objective, ensure unity of effort under one responsible commander.

Security: Never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage.

Surprise: Strike the enemy at a time or place, or in a manner, for which he is unprepared.

Simplicity: Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and clear, concise orders to ensure thorough understanding.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Battlefield Preservation

At the Rocky Mountain Civil War Symposium Tim Smith talked about the "Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation," that time in the 1890's when all the factors aligned for a good amount of battlefield preservation. (Review of symposium here and here, and check out Smith's The Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation : The Decade of the 1890's and the Establishment of America's First Five Military Parks and A Chickamauga Memorial: The Establishment of America’s First Civil War National Military Park for more information).

The next big wave of preservation would not happen until the 1920s when several other battlefields were preserved on a much smaller scale. These parks were much smaller because of the financial cost involved and also because urbanization had often covered much of the battlefield. That is why we do not have a Stones River, Franklin or Atlanta battlefield park preserved on the scale of Chickamauga. In the 1890's Congress had other opportunities but for a variety of factors they ended up creating those five big parks (Chickamauga-Chattanooga, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Antietam and Gettysburg). And they did study to some degree creating other parks, I forget how many Tim said, but I think it was nearly two dozen battlefields.

That got me to thinking, if the veterans had been able to preserve one more battlefield in the 1890's (and preserve it on a large scale like Chickamauga or Shiloh) which battlefield should they have preserved? I have too many options to narrow down to just one more battlefield.

Perryville is in great shape, though still not a national park, so while it would have been great if it had been preserved in the 1890's we lucked out.

If TVA had not happened then it would have been great to preserve Fort Henry. I'm not sure it would add a whole lot to the story but it still feels weird that a battlefield is now at the bottom of a lake. Of course if it had been preserved then TVA would have faced another obstacle and might not have happened. In the course of American history the creation of TVA is probably more important than preserving a single fort (unless that fort had a huge impact on history, Fort Henry while important was not a supremely important event).

I would like if there was more ground at Corinth and Iuka to study but those were not huge battles. I think a sixth park should have been a large battle.

I'm not sure how you preserve Atlanta. There are three battles for the city but none of those are the final word on the fate of the city. Plus they are spread out. The same goes for the other battles of the Georgia campaign. While I would love if every one was preserved none are really that huge battle that cries out for total preservation.

Its a shame how little of Franklin is preserved and I would love for it have been the sixth one in the 1890's. It would also have preserved an 1864 field so that, in theory, the visitor centers could have worked together to tell the entire story of the war. I think it should have been the sixth large battlefield.

My other choice for the sixth large battlefield is Stones River, and the two are very close in my mind. I think I'd give the edge to Franklin only because it would provide an excellent chance to link the story of the war across the battlefields, and being in 1864 it would help bring to a close the war. People could do a loop going from Shiloh to Vicksburg to Chickamauga, and Chattanooga) and end up at Franklin. A one week vacation/pilgrimage could tell the story of most of the war. But if not Franklin then I think it should have been Stones River. I think Stones River is an interesting battle to study, lots of maneuver and fighting, and only a small portion is saved. I heard a ranger there once say that if he had been forced to only save 10% of the battlefield this is the 10% he would have picked, and while the 10% saved might be an important 10% there is so much more to this battlefield that has disappeared since the 1890's.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Superintendent vacancy at Gettysburg

As you might have heard over the past day or so John Latschar, Superintendent at Gettysburg, has found himself in a bit of trouble over sexually explicit photos found on his computer. This morning it has been reported that he has been reassigned to a desk job within the National Park Service. Which means that there is an opening at Gettysburg.

Dear Jonathan Jarvis,
As you have probably read events for the Civil War's sesquicentennial have started to happen. The first event was the recent retracing of John Brown's night march to Harper's Ferry that helped bring the impending conflict closer to the minds of all Americans. And now you have a superintendent vacancy at one of the crown jewels of the National Park system, Gettysburg.

The most recent superintendent, John Latschar, did a tremendous job in returning the battlefield to its 1863 appearance. I know the locals and environmentalists didn't always agree with him but Gettysburg historians are generally very pleased with the condition of the field.

But this work is not done. It would be very troubling if the next superintendent came in and erased all of the hard work that has been in the recent years returning the battlefield to its original appearance. The work must continue. But there is an opportunity here to do so much more.

If you hire me to be the next superintendent I promise that by Gettysburg's sesquicentennial you will have a battlefield more closely resembling its 1863 appearance than at any time since then.

Here is my plan:
First we must continue the work of cutting down woodlots that were not there in 1863 and replanting the woodlots and orchards that have since disappeared.

Second, we should make an annual effort to plant each field with the same crop that it was at the time of the battle.

Third (and my most revolutionary step) we should remove from the battlefield area all things that would not have been there in 1863, with a few exceptions. The monuments, markers and tablets will remain of course, as well as the cemetery and museum. But then all concrete roads and power lines should be removed. Any building in the area between the first day's fight and the southern part of the battlefield that was not there on July 3rd needs to be removed. I realize this means a lot of gas stations, hotels, homes and restaurants will need to be removed but they can be relocated on the periphery. We then will need to build 2 small visitor's centers on the edges of the battlefield (most likely on near York Pike and Highway 15, and another west of the battlefield on the Chambersburg Pike) where people can park their cars and then choose to enter the park by foot, horse or buggy. The only place modern transportation will be allowed is on the Baltimore Pike between the current visitor's center and Highway 15.

I know my plan is expensive and will be met by opposition by people who will be forced to relocate. But they live in modern intrusions on the battlefield, the battlefield was there first, they choose to live in Gettysburg and many probably picked it for its historical value. Its time to return that historical value. We can create a battlefield that very closely resembles the way it was those three momentous days in July. People will flock to Gettysburg. Even if they recently visited the park they will want to come again to see its improved look. This increased visitation will allow us to slash the cost of the museum (and cyclorama and movie) and make family vacations more affordable. The new transportation visitor centers will also have some display room for artifacts so that more of the huge Gettysburg collection can be shown.

Thank you for your consideration.

Nick Kurtz

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Principles of War: US Grant

Yesterday I covered Albert Sidney Johnston in the Shiloh campaign based on a modern list of principles of war. Today its Grant's turn.

Objective: Did he direct every military operation towards a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective? Yes. On the first day it was more about holding ground when possible so that other parts of the army were not opened up to attack. This worked well with the exception of the Hornets' Nest and there Prentiss had an earlier opportunity to leave, he just held on to late. On the second day the objective is clear, recapture what was lost, this was attainable and was decisive.

Offensive: Did he seize, retain, and exploit the initiative? His opportunity for this comes on the second day and he does a wonderful job of doing this. On the first day Sherman and McClernand lead a counter attack that seizes and exploits the initiative but they do not retain it. They also act on their own so we cannot credit Grant with this.

Mass: Did he concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time? This one is a little tough to answer. He does do a good job of parceling out his reserve units on the first day sending Hurlbut to the far left and WHL Wallace into the center. A few other regiments and brigades are separated from their parent unit and are sent out to other portions of the field. But what is the decisive point on the battlefield? Yesterday I said for the Confederates it was the Peach Orchard as that then led to the fall of the Hornets' Nest. But perhaps the decisive point on the battlefield is the final line at Pittsburg Landing. In that case Beauregard did a poor job (Johnston was dead by this time) in that he did not commit to the attack and canceled the attack that was naturally being made. And then Grant does a good job because the final line has all available men ready for the attack. On the second day Grant really doesn't concentrate his men for a decisive blow, he simply swamps the Confederates with too many men (many of them fresh from Lew Wallace and Don Carlos Buell) all along the line. Overall I guess I would say that Grant did a good job with this principle.

Economy of Force: Did he allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts? In a sense there was no secondary efforts. Grant faced Confederates everywhere on both days so he had his men spread out roughly evenly both days. Not sure what he could have done differently on this front.

Maneuver: Did he place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power? Not sure what is meant by flexible application, Grant surely didn't shuffle men to overpower one particular point. On the first day he reinforced areas that needed it. On the second day his men were spread out everywhere, in about the same strength everywhere, there was just too many Union soldiers to be held back forever. I think I'll answer no for this one. After the battle he had an opportunity at Fallen Timbers to do more, especially if he had sent out more men than he did, so we should probably mark him down a bit for that as well.

Unity of Command: Did he ensure unity of effort under one responsible commander, for every objective? I think he did okay on this one and it was more by luck than be design. He did not assign a commander to an area he just ended up with relatively good commanders in each area. Sherman and McClernand did a good job on the right. WHL Wallace and Prentiss did not face as rough a task in the center as post battle writings would indicate but they did good with the task they faced. They stayed in the position longer than they needed to but they were following Grant's orders to the fullest ("hold at all hazards") I think Hurlbut did a good job on the left although he hardly seems to get any acclaim for it.

Security: Did he permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage? One of Grant's failings. The Confederates gained the unexpected advantage with the early morning attack. Grant and Sherman may later claim that they were prepared but the manner (slightly foreshadowing the next principle) definitely was a surprise.

Surprise: Did he strike the enemy at a time or place, or in a manner, for which he is unprepared? As I just mentioned Grant was on the receiving end on this one. The manner definitely surprised him and caught him unprepared. One could argue that the place was not so much a surprise as there was only a limited front the Confederates could attack, unless they went for Lew Wallace well north of the main camp. The place was unprepared as there were no entrenchments made prior to April 6th, some will be made that night. And the timing was a bit of a surprise. The evidence had been mounting that the Confederates were more active near the camps, so I think realistically Grant figured there would be some sort of fight in the coming week. But I think he imagined it as a fight between a few companies or regiments, not 100,000 men engaged for two full days. Grant's attack on the second day doe snot catch the Confederates unprepared, the only way he could have accomplished this is if he had made a flank attack, that would have meet the manner portion of the principle. But a flank attack would have been nearly impossible to make due to the creeks and swamps that defined the edges of the battlefield.

Simplicity: Did he prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and clear, concise orders to ensure thorough understanding? A bit of both. Certainly Lew Wallace did not receive clear orders or there would not have been any controversy over his march. Most everyone else did get clear orders but those orders were rather simple, hold on as best you can and retreat slowly. Prentiss was told to hold to the last when Grant might have meant hold until it really didn't need to be held any more, but Grant probably hoped his final line might not be right at the Landing. If Hurlbut, Sherman and McClernand had been able to create a final line that connected to the Hornets' Nest position than those earlier orders were perfect. But once everyone else had retreated Prentiss should have joined them, he waited too long and it cost the army about 2000 men captured. As army commander Grant deserves some blame for Prentiss staying too long; once it was clear Prentiss was alone Grant probably should have sent orders to join everyone at the Landing.

In all I think Grant did a good job on four of the principles with one that was a bit of both. Yesterday I rated Johnston as good on three with two mixed. I'm not sure any commander fought a battle and met all nine principles. It'll be fun to tackle some other battles in the future, I hope to make a series of this, maybe doing a battle every other week, or as the mood strikes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Principles of War: AS Johnston

The other day I was going through a pile of xeroxes I had made months earlier and stumbled on this nugget that I had since forgotten about. It is a list of principles of war. I showed it to a buddy who is a retired colonel and he said that this is an army list and not something some author created. He said other countries’ armies have similar lists and he went through them briefly with me. Anyway here is the list and then I thought I’d examine Albert Sidney Johnston in the Shiloh campaign by this list.

Objective: Direct every military operation towards a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective.

Offensive: Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative.

Mass: Concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time.

Economy of Force: Allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts.

Maneuver: Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power.

Unity of Command: For every objective, ensure unity of effort under one responsible commander.

Security: Never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage.

Surprise: Strike the enemy at a time or place, or in a manner, for which he is unprepared.

Simplicity: Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and clear, concise orders to ensure thorough understanding.

So now Johnston’s review
Objective: Did he direct every military operation towards a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective? Not really. Johnston and Beauregard were operating on different plans. They committed troops to battle in different areas. Now if one plan had been stuck with then it might meet this criteria with the main debate being if the objective was attainable.

Offensive: Did he seize, retain, and exploit the initiative? As best he could while alive, yes. Of course there are going to be lulls in a battle and some missed opportunities, but by and large Johnston did a good job on this score.

Mass: Did he concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time? Yes and no. The original attack did not really do this as each corps was stretched across the width of the battlefield. Then Beauregard sends men towards the Crossroads (which I don’t think could be called the decisive point as taking this position did not win the battle). To finally make the Peach Orchard line fall, which led to the capture of Prentiss’ men, Johnston did concentrate his power. Although there were not too many brigades to concentrate he did what he could with what he had. There was not a huge attack with every brigade at his disposal but he funneled the men he had into the attack that finally caused the Peach Orchard area to fall. Not a huge concentration so my yes on this question is lukewarm at best.

Economy of Force: Did he allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts? No, because Beauregard and Johnston worked at cross purposes. Beauregard tended to funnel men into the attack on Sherman and McClernand on the Confederate left while Johnston was on the right directing the attacks. The allocation of combat power was seriously messed up.

Maneuver: Did he place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power? No. The Union fell back to a nice line near Pittsburg Landing.

Unity of Command: Did he ensure unity of effort under one responsible commander, for every objective? No. The attack plan with each corps attacking in one long line meant that the corps commanders never had control over their corps.

Security: Did he permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage? No. The Confederates were the one that gained the unexpected advantage with the early morning attack. Johnston finally scores one solidly in his column.

Surprise: Did he strike the enemy at a time or place, or in a manner, for which he is unprepared? Once again this one is clearly one Johnston did right. Truthfully for this one and the previous one the Union did a lot wrong to allow Johnston to do well with surprise and security but he still did well.

Simplicity: Did he prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and clear, concise orders to ensure thorough understanding? I almost want to say yes because allow the method of attack was flawed it was understandable. Everyone joined the battle fairly well. But Beauregard’s orders and Johnston’s plan were not the same. Beauregard orders forced the action towards the Landing while Johnston was hoping to turn the Union away from the Landing.

For the nine principles I give Johnston good scores on three with two others that are a little of both. Tomorrow I’ll tackle Grant’s performance at Shiloh.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Diabetes Charity Walk

For the third consecutive year I will be participating in the "Step Out" Diabetes charity walk in Denver. Its a great walk to be part of. We walk through an interesting old part of Denver along the Platte River and Cherry Creek (in this area gold was discovered in 1858 spurring a rush in 1859 that forced the creation of Colorado as a territory); there are always interesting vendors and games to play, plus we raise money to find a cure for diabetes.

Diabetes is a unique disease in that each person who has it reacts differently to the various medications and lifestyle changes prescribed. Some medications work wonders for some people but not at all for others. Finding what works and what doesn’t takes time. There is no cure, just various methods of controlling diabetes. I worry that someday I might get this disease because of my family history. I worry about the health of my wife too as she struggles daily with diabetes.

The Center for Disease Control says that 23.6 million Americans suffered from diabetes in 2007. This was 7.8% of our population. They also estimate that roughly 57 million Americans had pre-diabetes conditions. That means about a quarter of this country (over 80 million people) currently deals with diabetes in some form, although for many of them they do not realize the condition they are in. In 2007 it was estimated that over 1 million people were diagnosed with diabetes each year so in the two years since the CDC released its latest numbers the total number infected is now even higher.

As I said before, my wife has diabetes. If you’ve never been around a diabetic than you have no idea how big a part of their life it is. Everything my wife does has to be considered in light of the diabetes. This is much more than just constantly monitoring her blood sugar levels, and what she eats or when to take insulin. Some things are simple and require no thought. But other things require a bit more vigilance from her. And by now she's been dealing with Type 1 Diabetes long enough that she knows what she can and cannot eat, and what she must do to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Doing the charity walk will be a small step from me in fighting this disease. But obviously I cannot do much alone. I’m asking for your support. You can help by donating directly to the American Diabetes Association, participating in a walk in your hometown, or contact a legislator about a variety of diabetes related bills. I don’t mean this to sound like begging for dollars. If you donate to the American Diabetes Association at all I will be happy, if your donation is for my walk that’d be great but not necessary. If this just makes you have your own blood sugar tested to see if you are at risk, or might already have diabetes, that’d be great too. Mostly I’m hoping to raise a little awareness with this post and if in the process some money gets donated to the American Diabetes Association for research for a cure that would be wonderful.

Diabetes is currently the 7th leading cause of death as listed on death certificates. The CDC though thinks that this is under reported as 35-40% of diabetics didn't have their diabetes listed at all on the death certificate and only 10-15% of diabetics listed diabetes as the primary cause of death. Most likely the other 85-90% of diabetics deaths were attributed to some of the things diabetes does to your body; like heart disease and kidney disease. Diabetes also causes high blood pressure, blindness (the leading cause of new blindness cases for the over 20 crowd) and nervous system disease (primarily a loss of sensation in the feet).

All of this scares me. It seems to me that if I can maintain a healthy lifestyle (or in my case do some improvements to get back to healthy and then walk the straight path again) and prevent type 2 diabetes that likely the other health problems will take care of themselves too. The life style that would prevent type 2 diabetes would also be healthy enough to prevent heart and kidney disease, assuming no other factors like family history.

Also I've said a bit about type 1 and type 2 diabetes but have not really defined it. The easiest way I know how to describe it is that in Type 2 diabetes you can "control" it with diet and exercise. You may have to take insulin but diet and exercise will also help lower your blood sugar level. In fact some people with Type 2 can diet and exercise enough that they can stop taking insulin. Type 1 diabetics do not have this luxury. Diet and exercise do still help them but they will always have to take insulin. Their pancreas just does not produce enough of it. With diet and exercise they may have to take a little less insulin but they will have to do daily injections, or have an insulin pump for the rest of their lives.

Beyond my wife, type 2, I've had other diabetics in my family. Most of them have had type 2, which happens to many Americans as we age. I'm sure the Wisconsin lifestyle of everything fried, with plenty of cheese and butter has not helped prevent my family members from getting diabetes as they aged. I'm guilty of that one too, I love cheese and I loved things fried, I love fried cheese too. My dad's mom had diabetes. I'm not sure how old I was but when I was young she had to have part of her leg amputated and my only memories of her are laying in a hospital bed at home. When we went there on vacation I spent a lot of time in her room, watching tv and talking. I know from pictures that there were vacations where she had two full legs and played with me. The first time I saw those pictures I was kinda shocked because I had no memory of that at all. Eventually she died of a heart attack but since heart disease is one of the things that diabetes causes her heart attack was probably diabetes related.

For more information visit the American Diabetes Association online. To donate to the walk I’ll be participating in go to my page.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Symposium Presenters

First off let me apologize for not providing a full recap of what each presenter said. I took notes not to provide a verbatim account here, I took notes mostly of things I thought were important or thought provoking.

The first speaker was Russel Beatie and he covered the corps structure in the Army of the Potomac from the its beginnings through the battle of Gettysburg with some discussion of how it would look on the eve of the 1864 Virginia campaign.

Beatie said a few things I do not agree with, that's the beauty of an event like this, you can talk to him immediately about why he came to conclusions he did. The first thing he said I didn't agree with is that Lincoln was an "abomination as a military president." I think Lincoln did struggle figuring out how to be commander in chief, trying to be hands off at times but then thinking he needed to very hands on at other times. I'm not going to say he didn't make mistakes but he did pilot the Union to victory. Might it have come sooner if he made some better decisions? Possibly. Beatie pointed out that giving army commands to Pope, Hooker and Burnside showed Lincoln's poor personnel decisions, but on the other hand when he made those decisions he did not have a huge pool of leaders to choose from. Beatie also said that only experience identifies people who are qualified; Lincoln never figured it out while Grant and Meade did. Again, I don't think this is a 100% fair attack on Lincoln as some of his greater blunders in picking leaders came early in the war when the level of experience was low across the board. As the war progresses he does pick Meade and Grant for higher commands, so if Grant and Meade are his examples of leaders who picked good subordinates than shouldn't Lincoln get some credit for putting those two men in high command?

One thing Beatie said that I found somewhat funny is that Burnside was the worst performance at Antietam. I found this humorous because I don't agree with him, but also because the next presenter, Stephen Recker, said that Burnside was the hero of Antietam since he was the only corps commander to take the position he was ordered to take.

Recker used a prototype of Virtual Antietam during his presentation (Virtual Gettysburg is already done and sold well at the event) and it was amazing to see. If my own budget wasn't so tight right now I probably would have left with a copy of Virtual Gettysburg and had my name on a list for Virtual Antietam.

He focused on Burnside's final attack, calling it the Pickett's Charge of Antietam. Basing this on numbers involved and the ground covered. Another thing he said was that if the Union had captured Nicodemus Heights on the 16th there probably would not have been a battle at all. He thought this was probably the lost opportunity of the battle.

Next up was Bradley Gottfried who went through the best and worst performing brigades at Gettysburg. There were many reasons a brigade might fall into either category. They might benefit from a strong position on the ground, or have high moral. Or they might be fresh troops, attacking a tough position, or their commander might not be very good.

The slides moved too quick for me to take copious notes of the good and bad brigades but I did manage to write a few down. Gottfried gave high marks to Perrin, Vincent, Stannard, McCandless, Greene and the Iron Brigade. Some of the poor performers were Mahone, Smith, Fisher, Brockenbrough, Ames and von Gilsa.

Lance Herdegen then talked about the Iron Brigade from their inception through Gettysburg. This was a talk I was looking forward to as my family is all from Wisconsin and I've always enjoyed reading about the Iron Brigade's exploits. So I mostly sat back and soaked it all in and took very few notes. Luckily the college was videotaping the entire day so later I might be able to post some clips here.

Our final presenter was Tim Smith, a Western Theater historian who also has done a ton of work on the history of preservation and the formation of the battlefields into national parks. The method of preservation at Antietam, mainly buying roadways and not much other land, is usually called the Antietam Plan but Smith argues that it should be called the Chattanooga Plan as that is where it was first implemented. At Chattanooga it was the method used mostly because there were few large tracts left to buy in the 1890s, the town had grown over the battlefield already, while at Antietam the decision was based more on financial concerns. The other main method in the 1890s was buying close to 100% of the battlefield, as was done at Chickamauga (and later at Shiloh). Gettysburg was a bit of a hybrid of both methods as there are areas that large chunks of land were purchased and there are other areas were small strips were purchased.