Sunday, October 30, 2011

Posters were vivid calls to arms

Like the posters in later wars, those employed by the Union and Confederacy used patriotic effigies such as Lady Liberty to entice recruits. But in contrast with the inspiring messages from the 20th century, the text of these posters is much more blunt. The sentiment "Don't wait to be drafted" fills a line on almost every flyer. • Images

Friday, October 28, 2011

Brown's action sent shock waves

Tony Horwitz, an award-winning author, tells the story of John Brown in his new book, "Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Road that Sparked the Civil War." "I think we still struggle to comprehend why Americans, who by and large shared a common culture, and language and religion, came to slaughter each other by the thousands in the 1860s," Horwitz said. • Article

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Longstreet Society yard sale Saturday

Here's another timely item on the Longstreet Society, which operates from an historic building in Gainesville, Ga.

The Piedmont Hotel is the centerpiece of the society, which was formed in 1994 to honor the life of Confederate Gen. James Longstreet, who lived in Gainesville in his last years and died at age 82 in 1904.

The yard/estate sale is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 29) at the Piedmont Hotel, 827 Maple St., Gainesville.

Items for sale are expected to include kerosene and electric heaters, glass lantern globes, bricks, wooden shutters, an antique mahogany and brass coffee table, chandeliers and more.

The society uses the old hotel rooms to tell Longstreet's story. He bought and operated the hotel for several years. Society treasurer Joe Whitaker said the proceeds will go toward an outstanding $50,000 loan. The group has done extensive renovations over the years and bought a lot next door for parking.

The hotel has seen an increase in visitors and is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

For more information on the sale, e-mail or call 770-539-9005.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Remembering Battle of Port Royal

Port Royal Plantation is hosting a community commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Port Royal from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 5. Port Royal Plantation includes the historic site of Fort Walker and the naval battle on Nov. 7, 1861, that made Hilton Head Island, S.C., an important supply and headquarters base for the federal military during the Civil War. • Details

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Longstreet Society seminar held on bloodied ground of Manassas

The Gainesville, Ga.-based Longstreet Society earlier this month visited Manassas National Battlefield Park, scene of the general's crushing assault on the Union army in the second of two engagements on the Virginia battle ground.

Speakers included Perry Jamieson, co-author of "Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage," and Scott Patchan, who wrote "Second Manassas: Longstreet's Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge."

In August 1862, Gen. John Pope clashed with Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson in Northern Virginia. At Manassas, their armies slugged it out on Aug. 29. According to the National Park Service battle summary, "During the afternoon, Longstreet’s troops arrived on the battlefield and, unknown to Pope, deployed on Jackson’s right, overlapping the exposed Union left. Lee urged Longstreet to attack, but “Old Pete” demurred. The time was just not right, he said. Critics have said Lee should have overruled Longstreet.

After futile Federal attacks on Aug. 30, Longstreet made his move.

"Seeing the Union lines in disarray, Longstreet pushed his massive columns forward and staggered the Union left. Pope’s army was faced with annihilation. Only a heroic stand by northern troops, first on Chinn Ridge and then once again on Henry Hill, bought time for Pope’s hard-pressed Union forces."

Pope withdrew to Washington and Lee prepared for an invasion of the North.

Dan Paterson, great-grandson of Longstreet, told the Picket he spoke at the seminar about how the maligned Longstreet's postwar support for black suffrage made him the "fall guy" for the war's loss.

The 2012 seminar is scheduled for Oct. 6-7. It will cover the Seven Days Campaign in Virginia.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Spoil of war returned to Va.

Nearly 150 years after a Union Army captain pilfered a book of court records from a county courthouse in Virginia during the Civil War, the Jersey City Free Public Library has returned the 220-year-old spoil of war to its rightful home. • Article

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dear Sallie: Letters from N. Fla.

A new book contains 114 letters -- mostly from Private James Jewel of Oglethorpe County, Ga., to his sister Sallie -- written between 1862 and 1865. While many Civil War soldiers' letters are from the better-known battlefields, most of these are from the north Florida campaign. Those from his sister tell of the plight of women on the home front, and show how desperate things had become for them. • Article

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Artillery shell removed from yard

An apparently live Civil War artillery shell -- buried in a Johns Island, South Carolina, yard for more than a century -- was removed Friday and will be detonated, authorities said. • Article

Friday, October 14, 2011

Walking the fields at Perryville

His failure to chase Braxton Bragg's army after the Oct. 8, 1862, Battle of Perryville in Kentucky cost Union Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell his job. While brave and organized, Buell was cautious and lacked the ingenuity to overcome unexpected circumstances.

Last month, I finally was able to visit Perryville, stopping at the visitors center for exhibits and a movie, before taking a self-guided tour over much of the battlefied.

It was a beautiful late summer afternoon, puffs of clouds hovering over the green rolling fields. With the exception of one couple, we had Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site to ourselves.

Bragg’s autumn 1862 invasion of Kentucky had reached the outskirts of Louisville and Cincinnati, but his far-outnumbered army was forced to retreat and regroup.

According to a National Park Service summary of the battle, Buell's army, numbering nearly 55,000, converged on the small crossroads town of Perryville in three columns.

The undulating hills in the area had a strange effect, we had learned, making it difficult to hear the din of battle from portions of the battlefield. Buell, who wasn't aware of the fierce fighting until late in the day, failed to send a large number of reserves to stem the Confederate assaults.

We walked up and down the terrain where Maney's men in gray attacked the Union flank and forced it to fall back. When more Confederate divisions joined the fray, the Union line made a stubborn stand, counterattacked, but finally fell back with some troops routed, according to the NPS.

The Yankees regrouped and were able to push some Confederates back into Perryville.

"Bragg, short of men and supplies, withdrew during the night, and, after pausing at Harrodsburg, continued the Confederate retrograde by way of Cumberland Gap into East Tennessee. The Confederate offensive was over, and the Union controlled Kentucky."

Casualties were estimated at 7,407, 4,211 of them Federal.

The Civil War Trust is trying to purchase a 141-acre tract on the extreme southern portion of the battlefield, where Rebels had smashed into the Union line.

A Louisianian described the fighting on this tract as "the grandest but the most awful sight, ever looked upon ... the enemy stood firm," according to the trust's website.

Despite surprising the Federal forces holding the line near the Squire Henry Bottom house, the fighting had quickly devolved to a bloody, stand-up fight. "All along our front, a solid line of dead and wounded lay, in some places three deep, extending to the right from the barn."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Battle of Franklin this weekend

The second-ever large-scale re-enactment of the Battle of Franklin is this weekend at the Park at Harlinsdale Farm in Tennessee. Organizers expect at least 700 re-enactors — twice as many as last year — to participate. • Article | • Event site

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Faith in the trenches, homefront

The S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum has opened a new exhibit — “Through Fiery Trials: Religion in the Civil War” — taking a look at that faith. During the sesquicentennial “we wanted to showcase different things from our collection that don’t get to be viewed by the general public,” said Kristina Johnson, the Relic Room’s curator of history. “Personal Bibles and devotionals from South Carolina soldiers are a strongpoint of our collection and we wanted to highlight that. The exhibit grew from there.” • Article

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lessons from Ball's Bluff

The Battle of Ball’s Bluff in Leesburg, Va., is the tale of a quick slaughter. It contains broader lessons about warfare, painfully learned as bodies floated downstream. • Article

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stolen flag recovered in Va.

A Civil War battle flag said to have been stolen from a Louisiana museum more than two decades ago is headed home after the FBI found the item at a house in Caroline County, Va. • Article

Monday, October 3, 2011

Group hopes to get train rolling

A replica of a Civil War-era train could be rolling through central Pennsylvania in time for the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, if members of a York County nonprofit have their way. • Article