Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Black Union soldier remembered

A black Union soldier, Pvt. Alan Bobson, who died at a Civil War field hospital in Lynchburg, Va., is being remembered by the local Sons of Union Veterans. • Article

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Motorists running into monuments

Careless driving has resulted in monument damage at Gettysburg National Military Park, leading Superintendent Bob Kirby to announce that memorial relocation is being considered. • Article

Monday, September 27, 2010

John Brown: Martyr or Madman?

The Center for the Study of the Civil War Era and American Studies Program at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta has a program on fiery abolitionist John Brown next month.

The program, "Martyr or Madman?", is from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at Auditorum/Room 1021 (Building 22) on the campus. Parking is free at the KSU Welcome Center.

"John Brown’s role and actions prior to the Civil War as an abolitionist, and the tactics he chose, still make him a controversial figure today," the center says. "Sometimes he is memorialized as a madman and a terrorist and sometimes as a heroic martyr and a visionary."

Dr. Rebecca Hill will present “Radical Politics of John Brown.”

Dr. Brian Wills, also of KSU, will present “Madman of the Movies.”

Brown advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to end all slavery. He was executed after the unsuccessful raid at Harpers Ferry, W. Va., in 1859. President Abraham Lincoln said he was a "misguided fanatic."

"Movies have tendencies to simplify characters and compress stories with portrayals often meant to conform to the expectations of audiences, with the intent of getting them into the theater seats or before their television screens," Wills, director of the center, told the Picket.

"The John Brown of film/television is a mixture of the metaphors that fit the notions of viewers whose knowledge of the historical figure tends otherwise to be limited. Brown must be seen in a certain light and in specified settings to be believed. The Old Testament temper, flowing beard and vehement expressions (verbal and visual), provide the appropriate context for the zealot of Bleeding Kansas and Harpers Ferry."

For more information, call (678) 797-2551.

Book review: Memorable days in '65

A new book about the end of the Civil War focuses on the Union's rush to capture Jeff Davis and the 1,500-mile to return President Abraham Lincoln's remains to Illinois. According to publisher HarperCollins, "James Swanson masterfully weaves together the stories of two fallen leaders as they made their last expeditions through the bloody landscape of a wounded nation." • Review

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Famed Civil War scholar retiring

James "Bud" Robertson, Virginia Tech's oldest faculty member, plans to retire at the end of the current academic year.

Robertson will be finishing his career teaching his acclaimed Civil War history class, a long-time favorite of Tech students. He spent more than eight years authoring his favorite book, “Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, The Legend.” • Article

Friday, September 24, 2010

No 'Confederate' in Virginia observance

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell announced he will declare April 2011 "Civil War in Virginia" month, rather than "Confederate History Month," as he offered an apology for a proclamation that omitted reference to slavery's role in the war. • Article

Thursday, September 23, 2010

CWPT makes deal for battlefield land

The nation's leading Civil War land preservation group will formally announce plans to buy 84 acres of land now owned by General Motors. There's one catch: The deal is contingent upon members helping raise part of the $2 million needed by Nov. 29, the 146th anniversary of the Battle of Spring Hill (Tenn). • Article

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Relic collector has items great and small

Gettysburg is known as a place to go and learn about the Civil War, but a West York man can also show and tell you a lot about its history. Phares Barnhill, of West York, Pa., a 62-year-old retiree, is surrounded by Civil War items he has collected through the years. One of the bullets is a Williams Type I Cleaner bullet, manufactured in 1861, and used to clean out guns. • Article

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tennessee's inaugural 150th event

"The Coming of the Civil War" will be a two-day event held in Nashville on November 12-13. It will feature several prominent Nashville attractions including the Tennessee State Museum, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, Tennessee State Library and Archives, and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. • Details

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Upcoming on Picket: French flag incident

Georgia's new 150th map recounts the story of women and children captured and sent north after an infamous incident during the Atlanta Campaign. It's not a new story, but it is one with which I was not familiar. I'll include a conversation with Michael Hitt, who wrote about the bizarre Roswell confrontation in "Charged With Treason."

A blog worth checking out

The Picket occasionally peruses other blogs. Here's one that I've been a fan of for a while. Lots of newsy items, deeper articles, resources and analysis. • Civil War Memory

Friday, September 17, 2010

Antietam, usually on my insufficient terms

America's bloodiest single day was on this day so many years ago. Sept. 17, 1862.

What was called a tactical draw turned out to be a significant strategic loss for the Confederacy at the Battle of Antietam.

I'm sure you've read 23,000 Americans were killed, wounded, captured or missing that day. It's the kind of trivia we throw around.

When I think of Antietam, I think of the beauty of the Maryland fields, the leaves turning color in autumn. The quaint Burnside Bridge. A nice walk along Sunken Road. The bucolic Dunker Church.

I haven't been to the site for years, and I'm always wistful when reading about it.

What I don't usually think about is the horror of that day. The mangled and missing limbs. The chaos and terror that filled the breasts of so many young soldiers. Opportunities lost. Lives snuffed out.

On this clear morning, I'm taking a moment to remember them.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Civil War veteran to be interred

On Friday, Moberly, Mo., residents will have the rare opportunity to attend the funeral of a Civil War soldier. The remains of Private John W. Kling, a Union Army Civil War veteran, and his wife, Elizabeth, unclaimed since her death in 1923, will be interred at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery. • Article

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Charleston seeks funding for 2011 events

The City of Charleston is expecting a quarter of a million people to come to the Lowcountry next April with events stretching from White Point Gardens to Marion Square to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter, the first shots of the Civil War. The city is estimating the cost for its sesquicentennial events at $90,000. • Article

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Picket poll: Share feedback

If you have a moment, take the poll and add a comment on coverage you'd like to see. We've been tied up on a freelance project on an entirely different topic and haven't been able to report out as many items as usual. But we've got some things in the works. Thanks for your support!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Barbara Fritchie House on the market

A piece of Civil War literary history is for sale in Frederick. The Barbara Fritchie House is on the market with an asking price of $185,000, according to the Associated Press.

The two-story, red-brick structure is a replica of the house from which the 90-something widow defiantly waved a Union flag at Confederate General Stonewall Jackson in John Greenleaf Whittier's poem.

"'Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, but spare your country's flag,' she said," according to the poem. Historians say the incident was never documented.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Today in history: Battle of Cheat Mountain

Here's one I didn't know about. On Sept. 12, 1861, Robert E. Lee began his first offensive operations of the war, in western Virginia.

According to the American Battlefield Protection Program:

Lee went against Brig. Gen. Joseph Reynolds’s entrenchments on the summit of Cheat Mountain and in the Tygart Valley. The Confederate attacks were uncoordinated, however, and the Federal defense was so stubborn that Col. Albert Rust (leading the attacks) was convinced that he confronted an overwhelming force. He actually faced only about 300 determined Federals. Lee called off the attack and withdrew to Valley Head on September 17. In October, Lee renewed operations against Laurel Mountain with the troops of Floyd and Loring, but the operation was called off because of poor communication and lack of supplies.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Museum planned for Appomattox

The pen that Gen. Robert E. Lee used to help end the Civil War. The elegant uniform and sword he had that day in 1865. These three iconic relics of the Confederacy, along with hundreds of other artifacts, soon will be moving from downtown Richmond to a new, $7.5 million museum in Appomattox, about a mile from the farmhouse where Lee surrendered the main Confederate army and effectively concluded the war. • Story

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Re-enacting 'jolly good poppy' in Europe

Civil War re-enactment in America? OK. But overseas? Last year, photographer Jay Seawell spent three months documenting the subculture in Britain. • Photos

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Abraham Lincoln's forgotten fort

Fort Stevens — located in a working-class neighborhood near President Lincoln’s summer cottage at the Soldiers’ Home in Washington — had been neglected in recent decades. Some stimulus money came its way, and the National Park Service cleaned it up in hopes of making it more visitor-friendly. The Civil War Preservation Trust fears that a five-story building planned by the Emory United Methodist Church next door will make it harder for visitors to visualize history. The pastor has defended the expansion. • Column

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mobile museum to roll through country

The Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission is developing the “Civil War 150 HistoryMobile”— a 53-foot single-expandable tractor trailer that houses a complete museum. The HistoryMobile will travel throughout Virginia and the nation for four years, debuting at Manassas. • Article

Sunday, September 5, 2010

See how civilians dressed during war

Beginning Thursday, Belmont Mansion in Tennessee hosts an impressive exhibition of civilian clothing from the Civil War era. The dresses, menswear, shoes and other accessories are from the collection of Phillip and Janine Whiteman, an Atlanta-based couple who are members of the Costume Society of America. The Whitemans are believed to have amassed the largest private collection of Civil War-era civilian clothing in the country. • Article

Saturday, September 4, 2010

One opinion on the Gettysburg casino

The Picket hasn't done the research on a proposed casino to have an opinion on the topic. But here's something that ran today in the Philadelphia Inquirer. • Editorial

Friday, September 3, 2010

Walking tours start in Cincinnati

A tour of several sites will explore the stories of Cincinnati's Black Brigade, a German-speaking regiment known as the "Dutch Devils" and Sister Mary Anthony O'Connell, a Cincinnati nun whose innovative techniques for battlefield triage earned her the nickname, "Angel of the Battlefield." • Article

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Georgia unveils Civil War 150th anniversary logo, website for tourism, marketing

The Georgia Department of Economic Development has unveiled its logo and website design for the state's observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Details on the state's tourism plans for the event were presented recently at the Georgia Governor's Tourism Conference in Athens.

The logo looks like a soldier's belt buckle and has a large "GA" in the center, reminiscent of a "CSA" or "US" during the war.

The state also is updating the book "Crossroads of Conflict: A Guide to Civil War Sites in Georgia", is printing and circulating a Civil War driving map (below) and will unveil a special website in late October, according to the department. The push is for 2011-2015.

The website "will be an inviting and engaging interactive experience that drives tourism by allowing consumers to feel, experience and engage in Georgia’s history. Features include an interactive map, historical timeline, heritage war trails, ecommerce, and social media." the state says.

The site is not yet complete, said Stefanie Paupeck of the department's communications office.

"The Sesquicentennial of the Civil War is the most significant heritage tourism event impacting Georgia in coming years. The state has the opportunity of educating residents and tourists alike to the role Georgia played in this critical moment in U.S. history," according to a statement.

More than a dozen states have had sesquicentennial websites up for several months. Observers have said the anniversary has not been a funding priority of the Perdue administration.

The website is a portal for local governments and businesses to tout their plans.

"As of now, we are not sponsoring a major sesquicentennial event. We are promoting all the activities and events that our tourism partners around the state are hosting," Paupeck said. "Over the next four years the Sesquicentennial will be a huge part of the tourism division’s marketing efforts including features in our newsletters, quarterly contests, travel guide feature in the 2011 issue and so on."

According to the state, the CW150 website will reach beyond just Civil War buffs to “to tell the story in a compelling way to a much broader audience.”

It will also direct travelers to points of interest and events.

"Crossroads" serves the "dual purpose as tour guide and as an in-depth history of Civil War Georgia. Included are over 200 modern and period photographs, images, maps, GPS coordinates, and a detailed chronology of events as they unfolded during the four-year conflict," the state says.

Insurance flap could end Ore. re-enactments

A battle over liability insurance coverage for groups using state property is brewing, and a nonprofit that stages Civil War re-enactments is caught in the middle. • Article

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Definitive Lincoln show stops in Atlanta

One hundred and forty-five years after his death, Abraham Lincoln still speaks to us.

-- His grammar book recites the determination of a young farm boy struggling to master English.
-- A gold Tiffany necklace and bracelets whispers of his affection for his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, who gave the president three sons, one of whom died during the Civil War.
-- A Bible (photo below), used by Lincoln at his 1861 first inauguration and again by President Barack Obama at his 2009 inauguration, is a sermon on faith in America.
-- Two pair of spectacles, a pocketknife, newspaper clippings and other items in Lincoln’s coat on the night of his April 1865 assassination tell of his humanity (photo below).

The items are from the Library of Congress’ traveling blockbuster Lincoln exhibit, which comes Sept. 4 (Saturday) to the Atlanta History Center and runs through Nov. 7

“There are really big ticket artifacts,” says Gordon L. Jones, senior curator of the history center, which is hosting the only Southern stop of “With Malice Toward None.”

There are far too many national treasures to describe here, but among the most prominent are life masks, drafts of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s handwritten farewell address when he left Springfield, Ill., to assume the presidency in 1861.

The bicentennial traveling exhibit opened in 2009.

“With Malice Toward None” opens with a multimedia presentation that explores the myth and realities of Lincoln. Video commentaries reveal personal connections to the documents the 16th president wrote.

The Atlanta History Center hopes to get a membership boost and a spillover effect from “Malice.”

The AHC’s “War in Our Backyards” exhibit, which lasts through September, gives visitors a glimpse of wartime Atlanta and what remains. The permanent “Turning Point: The American Civil War,” has hundreds of military artifacts collected by the DuBose family.

“You get a very broad view and a local view,” says Hillary Hardwick, vice president of marketing.

There are actually two Bibles in the exhibit. One is the Lincoln family Bible and the other is the one Lincoln and Obama used at their inaugurations (that is the one pictured in this blog).

The "Lincoln/Obama" Bible appeals to younger and diverse patrons.

“For them, that connection makes sense,” said Jones.

Civil War aficionados will find plenty to peruse, including the famous Antietam “Lost Orders” by Gen. Robert E. Lee. A Union soldier found them wrapped around cigars, but Gen. George B. McClellan was unable to exploit the discovery.

Another letter speaks to Lincoln’s amazing discernment and judgment.

After the Union’s victory Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln wrote a letter to Gen. George Meade (below), showing his frustration with the latter’s failure to pin down Lee’s retreating Confederates.

“Again, my dear general, I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee's escape. He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely.”

Lincoln put the letter aside. He never sent it to Meade, who may well have resigned.

“He would write stuff down to get it out of his system,” said Jones.

The AHC , in conjunction with the exhibit, is planning an opening day celebration from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and later events for teachers and families.

“When you know the story ... it starts to tickle the emotions,” said Jones.

The Lincoln exhibit will run through Nov. 7. Information: 404-814-4000,