TRAILBLAZERS AND TROUBLEMAKERS NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPER AND EBOOK!

My new book, Civil War Trailblazers and Troublemakers is now available in both e-book and paperback on amazon.com. Here is the link:   https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HV4SSWK

 

 

The book is a series of short essays about key figures in the war, from Lincoln and Harriet Tubman to Sherman and Braxton Bragg, and why they were either a trailblazer or a troublemaker — or both!  I have also included a list of further readings about each character.  Most importantly, I have used period photos from the Library of Congress to underline how these people looked at the time and how they affected their age.  Look forward to hearing from you all about the book and seeing reviews on amazon.com.

Oh, and the last chapter is something I don’t think anyone has done before.  It is a tribute to the people behind the scenes, the cattle drovers, the drummer boys, the telegraph operators, the nurses, etc., who played such a critical role in the war.  The Library of Congress has so many wonderful photos of them, and you will enjoy seeing them also.

50 men and women who inalterably changed the civil war era

 

 

“Dixie” Bookends: Davis and Lincoln

At his “inauguration” as President of the Confederacy, on February 18, 1861, Jefferson Davis heard  a lively version of the song “Dixie” played in his honor.

Four years later, on April 11, 1865, Abraham Lincoln, speaking to a lively crowd outside the White House celebrating the news of Lee’s surrender, asked the crowd to join him in singing “Dixie” as a gesture toward reconciliation.   It was to be his last speech.

The derivation of Dixie meaning the South is disputed.  Some say it was because ten dollar bills in Louisiana also included the word “Dix” , French for “ten.”  That allegedly led people to call the South “Dix’s Land”, which eventually became “Dixieland.”  Another theory is that it came from the creation of the “Mason-Dixon Line.”  In any case the song “Dixie” was written in 1859 and, naturally, first performed in New York City (?!).  It was quickly adopted in the South.  (The above is from Mark Boatner, “The Civil War Dictionary”)

Here are images of Davis’s inauguration and Lincoln’s appearance:

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TRAILBLAZERS AND TROUBLEMAKERS NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPER AND EBOOK!

My new book, Civil War Trailblazers and Troublemakers is now available in both e-book and paperback on amazon.com. Here is the link:   https://civilwarhistory-geneschmiel.com  

The book is a series of short essays about key figures in the war, from Lincoln and Harriet Tubman to Sherman and Braxton Bragg, and why they were either a trailblazer or a troublemaker — or both!  I have also included a list of further readings about each character.  Most importantly, I have used period photos from the Library of Congress to underline how these people looked at the time and how they affected their age.  Look forward to hearing from you all about the book and seeing reviews on amazon.com.

Oh, and the last chapter is something I don’t think anyone has done before.  It is a tribute to the people behind the scenes, the cattle drovers, the drummer boys, the telegraph operators, the nurses, etc., who played such a critical role in the war.  The Library of Congress has so many wonderful photos of them, and you will enjoy seeing them also.

50 men and women who inalterably changed the civil war era

 

 

Honoring a Union Spy, Pryce Lewis

I am writing another book, Civil War Rogues, Rascals, and Rapscallions, in which I have written short bios of people who fit into those categories.  However, I have stretched the definition of rogue a bit, citing some people as being “positive rogues” for going off on their own to accomplish things for the good.  For instance I categorize George Custer as a “charming rogue” who made many positive contributions to the Union war effort while, as the saying goes, “marching to his own drummer.”

Another positive rogue was Pryce Lewis, a Welshman who became a Union spy.  Working with Alan Pinkerton, Lewis provided critical intelligence early in the war which helped lead to Union control of western Virginia as it transitioned to becoming West Virginia.  In writing his bio, I discovered that he lived until 1911, but that he had committed suicide that year after a long decline into poverty.  He was then buried in an unmarked grave in Torrington, Connecticut.

In 2014 the Connecticut Civil War Round Table, http://www.ctcwrt.org/ raised funds and placed a granite headstone at the gravesite site at ceremonies in 2014.  One of its members, Wilber Runk, a local history teacher, had re-enacted and portrayed Lewis during Civil War activities.  He died in 2012, and the group, led by Blair and Mary Lou Pavlik, decided to honor him and Lewis with the headstone.  Here is a link to the article in the local paper about the ceremonies and the background:

Union spy honored in Torrington

Below are pictures of Runk, of the ceremonies, and of the biography of Lewis.

Rebecca Runk is escorted back to her seat during a dedication ceremony for a headstone on what is believed to be the grave site of Pryce Lewis. Runk's late husband, Wilber

 

Trailblazers and Troublemakers

I am re-sending this one with the “answers” about the people I have written about in the book.

To Repeat:  I hope to have my new book, Civil War Trailblazers and Troublemakers” out soon.  (See cover below) In the meantime, to give you a taste of what is to come in this volume, here are some hints as to which colorful personalities will be featured.  Hope my readers can figure these out:

1. Both a trailblazer and a troublemaker, he explored the West before the Civil War,  but proved to be a poor military leader.  John C. Fremont

2. Perhaps the best “Political General” for the Union, this man, according to historian T. Harry Williams, “did more than Grant or any general to win the war for the Union.” Abraham Lincoln

3. Wounded at Shiloh, this Confederate general, told by a surgeon that his leg had to be amputated, pulled a gun and disagreed with the surgeon.  He kept his leg, but walked with a limp for the rest of his life. William Bate

4. This woman, asked on what authority she was acting when assisting the wounded, replied, “On the authority of Lord God Almighty–have you anything that outranks that?”  Mary “Mother” Bickerdyke

5. This man secured several diplomatic posts after the war, but during it he was a bit less diplomatic.  As one historian wrote, “his notorious immoralities and rapacity set so demoralizing an example to his troops that the best disciplinarians among his subordinates could only mitigate its influence.”  Judson “Kill Cavalry” Kilpatrick

50 men and women who inalterably changed the civil war era

 

 

Trailblazers and Troublemakers

I am re-sending this one with the “answers” about the people I have written about in the book.

To Repeat:  I hope to have my new book, Civil War Trailblazers and Troublemakers” out soon.  (See cover below) In the meantime, to give you a taste of what is to come in this volume, here are some hints as to which colorful personalities will be featured.  Hope my readers can figure these out:

1. Both a trailblazer and a troublemaker, he explored the West before the Civil War,  but proved to be a poor military leader.  John C. Fremont

2. Perhaps the best “Political General” for the Union, this man, according to historian T. Harry Williams, “did more than Grant or any general to win the war for the Union.” Abraham Lincoln

3. Wounded at Shiloh, this Confederate general, told by a surgeon that his leg had to be amputated, pulled a gun and disagreed with the surgeon.  He kept his leg, but walked with a limp for the rest of his life. William Bate

4. This woman, asked on what authority she was acting when assisting the wounded, replied, “On the authority of Lord God Almighty–have you anything that outranks that?”  Mary “Mother” Bickerdyke

5. This man secured several diplomatic posts after the war, but during it he was a bit less diplomatic.  As one historian wrote, “his notorious immoralities and rapacity set so demoralizing an example to his troops that the best disciplinarians among his subordinates could only mitigate its influence.”  Judson “Kill Cavalry” Kilpatrick

50 men and women who inalterably changed the civil war era

 

 

Brandy Station’s 157th anniversary: A Confluence of Colorful Cavalry

In need yet again of an opportunity to get out of the house and into the countryside away from the cacophony of repetitive news, we visited the Battlefield of Brandy Station (June 9, 1863), just outside Culpeper, Virginia.

Touted as the first battle of the Gettysburg campaign, it also is important as the largest cavalry engagement in the war. Further, as the many placards sprinkled around the large battlefield state, it was the battle at which the Union cavalry finally saw itself as the equal of the Confederates’ forces.

Also interesting is the number of very colorful characters who were involved, probably not surprising since the dashing horseman concept was highly-valued at the time. The group includes, of course, JEB Stuart and his loyal and cantankerous deputy, William “Grumble: Jones. On the Union side, “Kill Cavalry” Judson Kilpatrick, Golden Boy George Custer, and British import “Sir” Percy Wyndham all had a good day, at least according to their biographers.

I should note that all of the above, as well as Union commander Alfred Pleasonton, are featured in my upcoming books, Civil War Trailblazers and Troublemakers and Civil War Rogues, Rascals, and Rapscallions. I won’t say which are in which book — you have to buy them to find out!

Below are some of the placards:

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NEW BOOK COMING! SEE WHO’S ON THE COVER

Staying at home for these two months has allowed me  time to work on a couple of projects involving both short bios of fascinating Civil War personages and the wonderful pictures available on the Library of Congress web-site, loc.gov.

The first book, which I hope to have published on amazon.com soon, is entitled, CIVIL WAR TRAILBLAZERS AND TROUBLEMAKERS.

Over the next couple of days I will post either a picture or a short description of one of these people and then will let you, my good readers, see if you know who they are.

But first, and this is likely the easiest task you will have, here is the proposed cover of the book with pictures of nine of the personages.  First one to name all nine will get the award as the most knowledgeable Civil War buff of all!

50 men and women who inalterably changed the civil war era

GRANT — MY TAKE

I had the same reaction to “Grant” as I did to the movie “Lincoln” a few years ago. Both were/are excellent productions which needed about three more hours and a few fact-checkers to improve the product. But given the limits of time and, sadly, commercials, what they created was among the best Civil War products I have seen.

For those who will “nit pick” the errors and compression of history, I say you are right, but so what? I too thought the last episode was trying to do too much, and I agree that it was a bit hagiographic. But considering the dearth of good Civil War productions in general, we should be thankful for ones like this that achieve so much. Perfect? Not by a long shot. Excellent? Yes, for the most part. Very Good? I think that’s my grade.

White’s Ferry/Ford and the Maryland Campaign

We took a break today from our isolation to make our first trip over the Potomac River between Virginia and Maryland using Whites Ferry.  The Virginia side is located just outside Leesburg, VA, and a ferry has been operating in the general area since 1817.  This is the last operating ferry on the river between the two states.

Soon after the Civil War a Confederate officer named Elijah White (thus the name) purchased the boat then operating and named it after his former commander Jubal Early.  The current owners have purchased two boats over the years for the operation, each time naming it after Early because, they say, of that general’s “rebellious, no surrender attitude.”  (I guess someone forgot to tell them that Early had surrendered, but oh well).

About a mile north, at White’s Ford, Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia forded the Potomac in early September 1862 to begin the Maryland campaign.

Below are pictures of the current boat, and placards describing Whites Ferry and Whites Ford.

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