Thursday, March 31, 2011

Battlefield cleanups this weekend

Volunteers will be armed with items such as stone mason tools and boots instead of muskets and cannons when they gather at the nation's Civil War sites Saturday to help clean and restore battlefields, cemeteries and shrines. • Details

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fort Defiance park opens next week

The City of Clarksville, Tenn., will open the Fort Defiance Civil War Park and Interpretive Center on April 9. Fort Defiance, which overlooks the confluence of the Red and Cumberland Rivers, was a cornerstone of the Confederate defense of the area and, subsequently, an important part of the eventual Union occupation of Clarksville. • Article

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Burns' 'Civil War' reissued on DVD

Ken Burns’ 11-hour epic documentary “The Civil War” (PBS/Paramount, 1990, $99.99) is being reissued in a special edition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the mighty conflict that almost tore America apart forever. • Article

Monday, March 28, 2011

Part 1 of Utoy Creek: Restored cemetery shares story of Confederate hospital in Atlanta

His face ringed by perspiration, Malcolm McDuffie pauses from removing root knots on an unusually warm February day in west Atlanta.

Nearby, smoke rises from a pile of brush, wood and dead branches McDuffie, 68, and another volunteer have cleared at Utoy Cemetery.

Grave stone and markers in the city’s oldest burial ground provided witness to their toil in a tree-covered plot that a small, but dedicated, group is trying to return from neglect.

“We can make it a beautiful place,” says the website of the Utoy Cemetery Association, which contends the first burial dates to 1816, when this land was on the edge of Creek Indian settlements. White missionaries and settlers moved onto land that once belonged to an Indian village at Utoy.

McDuffie, who grew up in nearby East Point and now lives in Lilburn, Ga., guides a visitor through the cemetery, which holds the bones of between 25 and 35 Confederate soldiers who died at the Battle of Utoy Creek Aug. 5-7, 1864, during the Atlanta Campaign.

Utoy Cemetery also has the graves of Atlanta’s first physician, Joshua Gilbert, who had ties to the area and treated the wounded during the battle. By the 1820s, Gilbert’s family had purchased land lots in what once was Native American land. The doctor died at age 73 in 1889.

The Confederate defenders established a hospital at Utoy Church (also known as Utoy Baptist and Utoy Primitive Baptist), behind the battlefield.

McDuffie’s great-great-great-aunt, Sally Hendon, served as Gilbert’s nurse and also is buried at Utoy Cemetery, which features the graves of two Revolutionary War soldiers and a War of 1812 veteran.

The association vice president pauses at the marker for Exie E. Cochran. “I have a love for my grandmother,” he says. She helped to raise me.”

The cemetery adjoins what once was Utoy Primitive Baptist Church, which had moved to this neighborhood in 1828, before there even was a city of Marthasville, or, as it became later known, Atlanta.

Maj. Perry Bennett grew up in Atlanta, is an Army historian with the 335th Signal Command in East Point and is president of the cemetery group. He participated in a 1972 Cub Scout cleanup.

Bennett, 50, estimates 250-300 people, possibly including slaves and Native Americans, are buried there.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans placed markers at the Confederate soldiers, including a Jewish man from Savannah.

“I’ll find stones on his headstone,” says Bennett, referring to the Jewish custom.

Col. James S. Boynton (right), 30th Georgia, was wounded and brought to Utoy Church for medical care. He later became a politician and judge and briefly served as Georgia governor.

Bennett, McDuffie and others are working to have the cemetery added to the National Register of Historic Places. In June, they’ll go for state approval, with a National Park Service designation, hopefully, to follow.

Few Utoy Church or cemetery records survive.

The church, at Venetian and Cahaba drives, closed in the 1970s or early 1980s. The building now houses Temple of Christ Pentecostal Church. It’s not far from the Army’s Fort McPherson.

Bennett opens and closes the gate to the cemetery most days and regularly gives impromptu tours to people who stop by.

The Battle of Utoy Creek occurred when Union Gen. William T. Sherman, fresh off three major victories in July 1864, against Gen. John Bell Hood, tried to complete the job of taking the vital Southern city.

Sherman extended his right flank to hit the railroad between East Point and Atlanta.

“A delay allowed the Rebels to strengthen their defenses with abatis, which slowed the Union attack when it restarted on the morning of August 6th,” according to the National Park Service summary of the fight. “The Federals were repulsed with heavy losses by Bate’s Division and failed in an attempt to break the railroad.”

The siege of Atlanta continued.

Upcoming in Picket: A deeper look at the Battle of Utoy Creek and what remains today.

Read about Utoy Cemetery Association

Mount Vernon offers Civil War tours

A new Civil War themed walking tour, a restored 18th-century garden and a new bike/boat tour option are among fresh offerings at Mount Vernon, George Washington's Virginia home.• Article

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gettysburg acquires 95 acres

Civil War buffs can now walk the land on Chambersburg Pike west of Gettysburg where Confederate and Union troops locked in a ferocious struggle at the start of the epic battle. The 95-acre tract, scene of major fighting on July 1, 1863, has been made part of Gettysburg National Military Park at last. • Article

Friday, March 25, 2011

Then-and-now photos of Charleston siege has produced this fascinating collection of then-and-now photos for Charleston, S.C. Photographs from the 1860s reveal how the Union bombardment and a blazing fire during the Civil War devastated much of the city, as show in this Library of Congress photo. • Photos

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Alabama's biggest re-enactment this weekend

The 17th annual reenactment of the Siege at Bridgeport will be held this weekend on the McCraw Farm. The event commemorates the historic struggle for the Alabama town that occurred in 1862 during the Civil War. • Article

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Victorian Secrets": Ladies' undergarments and fashions during the Civil War

Gloria Swift has dressed in woolen tunic and pants while serving on a Civil War artillery demonstration crew.

She’s also worn a chemise, corset, underskirt and other layers to show visitors at Fort Pulaski National Monument near Savannah, Ga., ladies’ fashions during the Civil War.

The coolest get-up during those incredibly hot Savannah days?

Wear the artillery uniform, she advises.

The National Park Service ranger is organizing two programs at the fort this Sunday, March 27, as part of Women’s History Month.

At 11 a.m., a model, in a program called “Victorian Secrets,” will be dressed from the “inside out” to show all the undergarments a woman of means put on “before going to town.”

Unless she had assistance, a woman put on her stockings and shoes on first. Drawers, a chemise, corset, an underskirt, a hoop, an overskirt and the dress followed.

“How lucky we are to have pants these days,” quipped Swift.

A fashion show follows at 1 p.m. A park employee will display a civilian gentleman’s fashions of the day while women showcase everyday and traveling dresses, as well as a ball gown.

The Victorian Era, as we know, was a time of public modesty, but some women knew how “to flash an ankle.”

“Clever women who wanted to be a little seen wore red stockings or red stripes,” Swift told the Picket. “It was scandalous.”

Of course, fashions had much to do with social status and other circumstances. Most women during the war made do with a day dress, bodice and apron.

Union blockades eventually starved the South of war material and clothing.

“In the South, you saw less and less new patterns” as times got lean, Swift said. Women customized the one or two available dress styles.

Soldiers’ wives lived at Pulaski (above) both during and after its fall in 1862. This weekend’s program is a way to let visitors know about the battles and the people back home.

“Let’s tell the other side of the story,” Swift said.

The fee at Fort Pulaski is $5 per person; children ages 15 and under are free. Call the park at (912) 786-5787 for more details.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tweeting civilian side of the war

A North Carolina historian is telling the civilian story of the Civil War, 140 characters at a time. • Article

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New books offer fresh perspectives

Though the causes and campaigns have all been examined by ranks of historians, many books are coming this spring for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s start on April 12, 1861, when Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter. More than 100 books offer unexpected angles and fresh interpretations of the battles and key figures we thought we knew. • Article

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Symposium set March 25-26 in Kennesaw

The Center for the Study of the Civil War Era and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park will host a March 25-26 symposium on new interpretations of the Civil War, "From Civil War to Civil Rights."

The events are free and open to the public.

The symposium will examine slavery and the multifaceted legacies of the war. Events are taking place at Old Zion Baptist Church in Marietta, Kennesaw State University and the battlefield park.

Symposium presenters include:

-- Thomas M. Costa, chair and professor of history at the University of Virginia-Wise and director of UVA’s Geography of Slavery in Virginia Project. His topic is “Runaway Slave Advertisements: Teaching from Primary Documents.”

-- Vernon Burton, professor of history and sociology, University of Illinois, and author of the award-winning book “The Age of Lincoln." His topic: "The Age of Lincoln, Then and Now."

-- Emory M. Thomas, Regents Professor of History Emeritus, University of Georgia, and author of acclaimed biographies of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. His topic: "How the Civil War Happened."

-- Robert A. Pratt, professor of history, University of Georgia and author of “The Color of their Skin: Education and Race in Richmond, Virginia” and a recent chronicle of the desegregation at UGA. His topic: "Let Us Die to Make Men Free: Reflections on African-American Emancipation and Mythmaking at the Civil War’s Sesquicentennial."

-- Judith Richardson, filmmaker andco-producer of the Academy Award-nominated PBS series, “Eyes on the Prize,’ and a founding member of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee). Her topic: "Letting Our Light Shine: The Making of Eyes on the Prize and Other Movement Films."

More information on the symposium

Friday, March 18, 2011

Upcoming in Picket: Battle of Utoy Creek

You've probably read about the Atlanta, Peachtree Creek and Ezra Church battles. But how about Utoy Creek, which resulted from a Union grab for a railroad? Late next week, we'll explore the August 1864 battle and today's environs in Atlanta.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Marker planned at Farragut birthplace

The town of Farragut, Tenn., plans to match funds to install a Civil War Trail marker off Northshore Drive near Adm. James David Glasgow Farragut’s birthplace. Farragut was 63 years old at the Battle of Mobile Bay, where he spoke the famous words, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead." The Union military leader is buried in New York. • Article

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

St. Louis event will recall bloody riot

Plans for local events to observe the 150th anniversary of the Civil War were rolled out Monday during a ceremony at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. • Article

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dealer claims sword belonged to woman warrior

A combat sword from the Civil War Battle of New Bern in North Carolina has returned to the area. Will Gorges, a memorabilia dealer for 30 years, said he bought a Union sword that belonged to female soldier, Kady Brownell, regaled as a battle hero and the most distinguished northern female soldier. • Article

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cannonnball detonated in Virginia

A Napoleon 12-pound artillery shell that could be from the Civil War era was found at Fort Lee, south of Richmond, Va., and explosives experts were called in to detonate it. • Article

Thursday, March 10, 2011

U.S. Grant descendant dies at 90

The last surviving great-grandson of Ulysses S. Grant has died in a Missouri home brimming with artifacts from the 18th president and commander of the Union forces. • Article

Part 2 of Alfred Waud: Combat artist brought war, postwar South to ordinary Americans

Alfred R. Waud was perhaps the Civil War’s most famous combat artist, a familiar bearded figure on horseback, almost always headed to the Union Army of the Potomac’s front lines.

With derring-do, paper, pencil, charcoal and china white pigment, Waud documented people, places and the realities of war.

Calling Waud prolific is an understatement. He produced thousands of sketches, shipping his work to New York, where magazines, including the venerable Harper’s Weekly, brought the war to the people.

This was before the mass production of photographs.

What Waud saw, Americans saw.

He carried a revolver and was known to fire, occasionally, at Confederate lines.

Less known, but perhaps artistically and journalistically as important, were his postwar trips out west. He documented New Orleans, the Mississippi River, other portions of the South and, even, the Great Chicago Fire.

Waud died in 1891 in Marietta, Ga., while touring and sketching Southern battlefields. He was 62.

Essential reading on Waud includes Frederic E. Ray’s “Alfred R. Waud: Civil War Artist.”

We asked three curators to tell us about the essential Waud (pronounced “WODE”). Please click images to enlarge.

SARA W. DUKE, curator, popular and applied graphic art, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Duke’s first duty at the Library of Congress was cataloguing the more than 1,200 Waud works in the collection.

For her, it’s the reality of the artist’s subjects that make his work special.

“You can really see the faces,” Duke says. “He is capturing the likenesses of people.”

Duke’s comments on Waud bring to mind Robert Capa, the 20th-century war photographer Robert Capa, who said, “If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough.”

Waud was usually at the front. One of the sketches in the library’s collection carries drops of blood, when he apparently got nicked.

And he braved sniper’s bullets during the Petersburg siege, climbing a tree to get a drawing of the Confederate lines for Gen. George Meade (left).

“He is positioning himself to see what is happening,” Duke says.

Waud, who sometimes wrote articles to accompany his illustrations, was the only artist to record Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.

He and his fellow “Bohemians” were the true visual artists of the time, largely because photographers concentrated on still scenes.

“The dead were not a problem,” Duke says of the lensmen. “War action was impossible.”

Waud is most known for providing sketches for Harper’s Weekly, hugely popular in the North during the Civil War.

Harper’s Weekly, Duke says, was interested in propaganda and wanted the public to think the war was always going well.

The publication took an image of Union soldiers slogging in the snow near Falmouth, Va., (above, the original) and made it cheerier. An 1862 sketch of wounded soldiers being assisted at Antietam was altered to hide the sight of an amputated limb.

“I think he was well liked. The men and the officers respected him,” Duke says of Waud. “To me, it’s his relationship with soldiers.”

Waud depicted African-American soldiers mustering out in 1866 in Little Rock, Ark. They are shown being greeted by family members.

“It [shows them as] empowered, as opposed to liberated,” the curator says.

DANIEL HAMMER, head of reader services, The Historic New Orleans Collection

Hammer is impressed by Waud’s ability to capture more than the immediate subject. The Englishman, he said, had an eye for acute detail.

The Historic News Orleans Collection, which is a museum, archive and publisher, has thousands of works by Waud and his brother, William. That includes Alfred’s early sketchbooks.

Waud traveled to New Orleans to record Reconstruction and returned in 1871 to travel the Mississippi River. He made it as far north as St. Louis, where he was dispatched to the Chicago fire. In 1872, Waud made sketches for "Picturesque America."

In the Civil War, Hammer says, Waud captured scenes quickly.

In New Orleans, “he captures human characters in a cosmopolitan city.”

Waud’s works include market scenes, the opera, bar patrons and, of course, the Mississippi River.

“His energy seemed to match the country he adopted,” said Hammer. “He also was a journalist, not just an artist.”

Hammer also lauds Waud’s accuracy in the scaling of buildings in New Orleans.

“They were meant to depict the scene as it was,” he says of the collection.

HARRY L. KATZ is an independent curator and writer. He is the former head curator in the Prints and Photographs Division at the Library of Congress. He is editor and co-author of “Baseball Americana: Treasures of the Library of Congress” and “Herblock: The Life and Work of the Great Political Cartoonist.”

Katz ranks Waud second behind Frank Vizetelly as the best Civil War sketch artist, able to get as close as possible to the truth.

“He epitomized the life of a sketch artist. They were photojournalists before they existed,” says Katz. “He was larger than life.”

The well-dressed correspondent was gregarious, a mischief maker and “was quite a character.”

Waud covered virtually every campaign in the Eastern Theater. “He was very brave,” Katz said. (Below, "Advance into the Crater before Petersburg.")

“He was one of the first to recognize that this was about death and dying and destruction.”

“Special artists,” as they were known, sketched their work on paper and had it sent to publishers, where craftsmen made wood block engravings. Sometimes, the emotion of a scene might get lost.

“He had a reputation among his peers,” Katz said of Waud.

The curator has a book coming out next year entitled, “Civil War Sketchbook: Drawings from the Battle Front.” It will include works by Waud, Edwin Forbes, Winslow Homer and artists in the Joseph Becker Collection.

Read Part 1 of our report on Alfred R. Waud

Credits (sequentially): Photograph of Waud, 1864, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-cwpb-03706; "Ammoniacal gas engine, New Orleans streetcar," The Historic New Orleans Collection, accession no. 1965.90.51; "In Front of Petersburg, sketch made for Gen. Meade, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-22584; "Winter Campaigning," Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-22444; African-American soldiers mustered out, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-21005; "Noon on Sunday at the French Market N. Orleans", The Historic New Orleans Collection, accession no. 1965.13; "Bar of the Natchez," The Historic New Orleans Collection, accession no. 1965.90.33; "The Mouth of the Mississippi / a tow approaching the Gulf," The Historic New Orleans Collection, accession no. 1965.79; "Advance into the Crater before Petersburg," Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-20996.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Vandals damage cannons at Wilson's Creek

Park rangers at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield west of Springfield, Mo., are actively looking for vandals who damaged four civil war cannons. • Article

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

He enlisted in Union army at age 8

The youngest soldier of the Civil War was born in Wayne County, Ind. At 8 years and 2months (a third-grader by today's standards), Edward Black enlisted on July 24, 1861, and was assigned to the 21st Indiana Regiment as a drummer boy. • Article

Monday, March 7, 2011

National Archives at Atlanta sets symposium, treasures in your attic display

The National Archives at Atlanta is sponsoring a day-long program where people can display and learn more about their Civil War heirlooms.

“The Civil War: America’s Long Struggle” begins at 9 a.m. April 16 at the archives, 5780 Jonesboro Road, Morrow, Ga.. The cost is $20 per person, with registration and payment due by March 31. Lunch is provided.

A morning symposium includes David Ferriero, archivist of the United States; Kenneth Noe, Auburn University professor and author of “Reluctant Rebels”; and Daniel Stowell, director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln at the Abraham Lincoln President Library and Museum.

The programs’s “Civil War Treasures in Your Nation’s Attic,” starts at 2 p.m. Display space is limited to the first 100 individuals who register and pay.

Participants are encouraged to bring Civil War-era photographs, books, diaries, letters, family keepsakes, games, uniforms and more. The display is limited to three items per person and a display space of 2 feet by 3 feet.

Up to three firearms can be brought, but no replicas. Security personnel will inspect all firearms, which must be disabled and cleaned. No bullets, ammunition, swords, knives or sabers are allowed. All items must be pre-approved.

“It’s one thing to hear about the Civil War in a lecture or read about it in books. It’s another to dig through your attic and find your family’s place in the greater narrative,” said Jim McSweeney, regional administrator, National Archives at Atlanta.

Subject area experts can provide information, but no monetary value, on the items. Georgia Public Broadcasting will film the exhibits for future broadcast.

Those displaying artifacts must attend the morning symposium.

The event includes an exhibition of 19th-century newspapers chronicling the African-American experience.

More info on symposium, artifacts display

Photo: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Vrrrooom! Arkansas trail for motorcyclists

As part of the state's observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Arkansas tourism office has generated a heritage trail and patch for motorcyclists. • Article

Friday, March 4, 2011

Estate sale at Shelby Foote's home

Civil War writer Shelby Foote's 11-room house — secret room and all — is the highlight of an estate sale in Memphis, Tenn., this weekend. The 1927 house and about $200,000 in personal belongings are part of the sale beginning Saturday. • Article

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Family ties 6: Your Civil War stories

The Picket is sharing readers' accounts of their ancestors who served or were affected by the Civil War. We encourage you to get involved by e-mailing us at David Walker, of Canton, Ga., here provides his second submission.

My great-great-great grandfather was Augustus B. Culberson, born December 1822 in what is now called Troup County. As a young man he moved to LaFayette, in Walker Co. to study law. In 1847 he married Margaret H. Caldwell of Morgan Co. and the couple settled in LaFayette, where it is recorded in 1850, with two young sons, Ovid and Gerald.

With the War of Northern Aggression in its third year, he was appointed commander of the 6th Battalion Georgia Cavalry, State Guards (Culberson’s Battalion) at the rank of Lt. Colonel. The battalion was formed in August 1863 to serve only six months as a local defense in the northwest section of the state. The battalion was comprised of horse soldiers from Chattooga and Walker counties.

The only engagement with the enemy is noted on January 22, 1864, as the “Battle of Subligna” in Chattooga County.

After the war he moved his family to the “West End” of Atlanta in Fulton County where he was appointed to the Fulton County Bar Association in 1869 and later represented Walker County in the Georgia Legislature.

Grandfather Culberson passed away at his home in West End Atlanta, February 24, 1889, and is buried in Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta. A sign of the times in the late 1800s was bestowed on him with a street named after the Culberson family. Culberson Street in West End Atlanta can still be found today.

In 1918 Lt. Col. A.B. Culberson was awarded the Southern Cross of Honor, which was presented to his son Hubert L. Culberson. Also A.B. Culberson along with his nephews Augustus L. Culberson and Eugenius L. Culberson and his wife’s younger brothers Joseph E. Caldwell and Robert H. Caldwell can be found on the “Wall of Honor” located along with the Marsh House and the John B. Gordon Hall in LaFayette.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Civil War-era medals recovered

Firestone, Colo., police recovered two stolen Civil War-era medals and had a suspect in custody on Tuesday afternoon. • Article

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

'Teachable moment' at federal level?

Democratic U.S. senators plan to introduce bills that would set up a federal commission to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Previous proposals to create such a commission never made it out of committee. • Article