Civil War Talks on the Life of Jacob Cox, the Battle of Antietam, the Battle of Franklin, and the War in West Virginia

Salvador Dali on Monument Avenue? Almost!

While writing an article for my next book, “CIVIL WAR VIRGINIANS,” about Sally Tompkins, a Richmond woman who not only ran a Confederate military hospital during the Civil War, and was the only commissioned woman officer during the war, I discovered an odd and quirky moment in Civil War history.

It seems that in the mid-1960’s, as the Centennial celebrations of the Civil War were ending, some Richmonders thought it was time to add more Confederate monuments to Monument Avenue, where Davis, Lee, Jackson, Stuart, and Maury were already celebrated. Sally Tompkins was deemed an appropriate honoree, and some Richmonders contacted appropriate sculptors to offer designs.

Surrealist artist Salvador Dali was among those contacted, and he proposed a unique design for a statue which was, not surprisingly, immediately rejected. As you can see, it depicted Sally holding an upraised sword about to slay a dragon. As if that were not quirky enough, the two figures, Sally and the dragon, were to be standing on a mound which is in turn is resting on the extended index finger of Dali himself!

As it turned out, there were no more statues added during the Centennial, and the only addition came in 1995’s statue of Arthur Ashe. And of course, in the last year several of the statues have been removed/defaced as Richmond debates the future of Monument Avenue. One can only wonder what the debate might have been about if it had included, “When Sally met Dali!”

Confederate Ohioan Roswell Ripley, the Ever-Irascible

One section of my new book, Civil War Ohioans, features Ohioans who fought for and/or defended the Confederacy. Among the better known of the latter was Ohio politician Clement Vallandigham.

Among the better known Ohioans in the Confederate army was General Roswell Ripley. When reading about him, you might get the impression that he was a matter of “addition by subtraction” for the Union effort.

One biographer wrote of him, ““General Roswell Ripley could not get along with anyone.  Not even Robert E. Lee.  For nearly four years, Roswell Sabine Ripley wore the wreath and three stars of a Confederate general officer, despite being an unmistakable Yankee by any definition. He hardly fit the image of the gallant Southern officer nobly defending the “Lost Cause,” even expressing distaste for Robert E. Lee…Roswell Ripley ran afoul of troubles with women, booze, and scornful colleagues in daunting numbers, and left behind a record that might be characterized as ‘Mixed at Best,’ but ‘Colorful Always.”

Born near Columbus, Ohio, Ripley graduated from West Point in 1843. After duty helping prepare the Confederate coastal defenses, during which he excoriated Lee’s abilities, Ripley joined the Army of Northern Virginia in the summer of 1862. One of his colleagues at the time called him “a big fat whiskey drinking loving man.”  At Antietam, where Ripley’s men helped defend the center, the general was accused of cowardice by General D.H. Hill.  One Colonel noted that “Ripley had been wounded, unfortunately for his reputation, not fatally.” 

He was then sent back to Charleston, where he again commanded its defenses until early 1865.  During his tenure there he underwent a trial on charges of drunkenness on duty, but apparently was adjudged not guilty.  In March 1865 he and his division were sent to join Joe Johnston, just in time to be defeated at the Battle of Bentonville. 

            After the war Ripley spent most of the rest of his life in England, where he engaged in a variety of schemes.  He returned to the U.S. in the late 1880’s, and he died in New York City.  Neither his estranged wife nor any of his family attended the funeral. 

Below is a copy of the cover of the book and a photo of Ripley.


My next book in my series, “Civil War Personalities, 50 At a Time,” number 7, CIVIL WAR OHIOANS,” has been published. It is now available in both ebook and paperback versions at:

As a native Ohioan, I am especially proud to produce this volume, dedicated to the 50 Buckeyes who made a major difference in the Civil War.

Grant, Sherman, Stanton, Chase, and many other native Ohioans were in the vanguard of the Union victory. And lest we forget, there were also Ohioans on the other side, or at least sympathetic to the other side, who also made a difference in “The American Iliad.”

See the cover of the book below. (Next book: CIVIL WAR VIRGINIANS!)


My next book in my series, “Civil War Personalities, 50 At a Time,” number 7, is “CIVIL WAR OHIOANS.” As a native Ohioan, I am especially proud to produce this volume, dedicated to the 50 Buckeyes who made a major difference in the Civil War.

Grant, Sherman, Stanton, Chase, and many other native Ohioans were in the vanguard of the Union victory. And lest we forget, there were also Ohioans on the other side, or at least sympathetic to the other side, who also made a difference in “The American Iliad.”

See the cover of the book below. I hope to make it available in both ebook and paperback edition very soon. (Next book: CIVIL WAR VIRGINIANS!)

Statuary Hall in the News: See the first book about it and the Civil War

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article with a picture of the violent demonstrators in the Capitol last week in front of the Abraham Lincoln statue in the Rotunda. The article about the statue, sculpted in 1871 by a women sculptor, Vinnie Ream, also briefly discusses the background of Statuary Hall and its link to the Civil War.

My book, The Civil War in Statuary Hall, is the first one on that topic ever published. It is available at:

Below are a picture of the cover of the book and the photo from the article:

Statuary Hall Changes Include Union and Confederate Soldiers

In my new book, “The Civil War in Statuary Hall,” I discuss the 50 people related to the Civil War who have been honored by having statues of them placed in the U.S. Capitol. However, as we know, since 2003 there have been suggestions/demands for changes, especially regarding the Confederates.

Curiously, the first change, in 2003, was to remove a Union soldier! That was George Washington Glick of Kansas, replaced by President Eisenhower. The second was of Jabez Curry of Alabama, who had a minimal career in the Confederate army, but was a staunch secessionist. His statue was replaced in 2009 by one of Helen Keller.

More Confederates will likely follow the example of Robert E. Lee, whose statue was removed a few weeks ago. Legislatures in several former Confederate states have committed to making changes. At the same time, Union General Phil Kearny of New Jersey too is due to be replaced.

The book is available at:

Here are the “before and after” pictures of the statues of Eisenhower, Glick, Curry, and Keller:

See the source image


Recent years have seen a “new Civil War,” a debate over who should be honored in Statuary Hall in the United States Congress.  This book, just published, is the first ever to review, in brief, the history of the relationship between Statuary Hall and both Civil Wars, the one which was fought in the 19th century and the one ongoing now.

Statuary Hall was created via legislation in 1864, during the war, and the “Statue of Freedom” was placed atop the dome in 1863. Since then each state has emplaced two statues of honorees, and, in some cases, has replaced them. The removal of Virginia’s Robert E. Lee statue a few days ago was a key moment in the current “new Civil War” over who should be honored. Statues of Jefferson Davis, Edmund Kirby Smith, and Wade Hampton, among other Confederates, remain in place, but the controversy is heating up.

The book has a short summary of the history and current controversies, but the main focus is, as part of my series, “Civil War Personalities, 50 At a Time,” on short biographies, complete with photos of their statues, of 50 honorees related to the Civil War, including some which have been replaced. The book can be purchased at:

Statuary Hall in Congress and the Civil War: My Upcoming Book and Ongoing Changes

On December 16 Virginia announced that a special advisory group had recommended that the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Congress’s Statuary Hall be replaced by one of Barbara Rose Johns, a black student who led a protest in 1951 against segregated schools.

This step is the latest in a series begun in several states earlier this millennium to update their representation in the Capitol building. The very first change took place in 2003 when Kansas replaced George Washington Glick, a former Governor who had fought in the Civil War for the Union (not the Confederacy), with a statue of former President Eisenhower.

The history of Statuary Hall and the Civil War are inextricably intertwined. The legislation authorizing each state to give Congress two statues of its honorees was passed in 1864 in the midst of the war. Further, the “Statue of Freedom” atop the Capitol Dome was emplaced there just a year earlier, in 1863. The first statue, of Nathanial Greene of Rhode Island, was emplaced in 1870, and by 1971 each state had emplaced at least one.

Of the statues currently in Statuary Hall and elsewhere in the Capitol officially recognized as state “representatives,” roughly half have a connection to the Civil War.

It was with the above in mind that I decided to write a book about Statuary Hall and its relationship with the Civil War. Entitled The Civil War and Congress’s Statuary Hall, the book will, I hope, be published by the end of this year on as the next in my series, “Civil War Personalities: 5o At A Time.” It contains a brief history of the creation and evolution of Statuary Hall and biographical sketches of 49 honorees and one allegorical figure, the “Statue of Freedom” herself, who were involved in the Civil War era. It also discusses which statues have been replaced, and by whom, and which statues, like Lee’s, are likely to be replaced.

Below is the likely cover page of the book, which pictures nine of the honorees. They are, from top left:

Francis Pierpont, West Virginia

Washakie, Wyoming

General Philip Kearny, New Jersey (due to be replaced)

James A. Garfield, Ohio

Statue of Freedom

Frederick Douglass, District of Columbia

Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Mississippi

Sarah Winnemucca, Nevada

General Robert E. Lee, Virginia


“CIVIL WAR UNSUNG HEROES” — New book now available

“Arma Virumque Cano.” With those words the epic poet Virgil begins The Aeneid as he sings of the achievements of his hero, Aeneas.

The Civil War too had its heroes, of whom many have sung, from Lincoln and Grant to Sherman and Clara Barton and Harriet Tubman. But behind the scenes there were many more heroes who were unsung, who remained in the background and only emerged much much later in the writing of history. Montgomery Meigs, the great Quartermaster; George Sharpe, the founder of modern intelligence gathering; and Gustavus Fox, who made the U.S. Navy a formidable force are among those chronicled in my new book, Civil War Unsung Heroes and Other Key Actors “Behind the Scenes.”

The book also discusses those who were not necessarily heroes as such, but who played key roles nevertheless “behind the scenes.” Charles Francis Adams, Sr. , Ambassador to Great Britain, helped assure that nation’s neutrality. On the other side, Stephen Mallory, Secretary of the Navy for the Confederacy, played a weak hand very skillfully.

The book, the latest in my series, “Civil War Personalities, 50 At a Time,” is available now in paperback and e-book format at: