Later…

13 11 2006

Later today (I hope) I’ll talk about what my digital history project is all about, and why I have chosen the web as my outlet.  I’ve had some inquiries about the mechanics of such a project, and nobody has said it better than Brian Downey in a series of posts last month on his blog, so I’ll provide the links to those as well.

In recent correspondence with a friend we were discussing various individuals who later achieved some prominence in the war and were present during the battle as civilians.  I’ve added that to my list of things to discuss later.  It’s getting to be a long list, but I think I need to define the project first before I do anything else.  Even if I doubt that I’ll hold myself to any strict definition.

Here’s something weird…the spellchecker on this blog does not include the word “blog” in its dictionary.





Thanks…

10 11 2006

I’m pretty happy with how this is  going so far, and I’m very surprised by the number of visitors I’m getting each day.  From what I gather from the statistics provided by WordPress, the activity is due in no small part to folks navigating to this site from others that have mentioned it, or added it to their blogrolls, or both.  I must give credit where credit is due.  First and foremost, thanks to Brian Downey of Behind Antietam on the Web, who has given me so much advice and help with my digital history project and this blog.  Thanks also to the godfather of Civil War bloggers, Dmitri Rotov of Civil War Bookshelf, for giving me the opportunity last May/June to try my hand at this.  Also, thanks to the following for announcing the site and/or adding me to their blogrolls (you can find all their sites listed in the right hand column of this page):

Brett Schulte of American Civil War Gaming and Reading

Drew Wagenhoffer of Civil War Books and Authors

Mike Keopke of Mike’s Civil War Musings

Mannie Gentile of My Year of Living Rangerously (congrats on the new digs, Mannie)

Eric Wittenberg of Rantings of a Civil War Historian

It never ceases to amaze me how enthusiastically helpful to one another are people who share an interest in the American Civil War.  There are always exceptions, but for the most part I have found this to be true.

Over the next few days I’ll go into more detail on my digital history project and what I want to accomplish with it and with this blog.  Busy weekend coming up, though.

The “written with love” signature has mysteriously disappeared.  It was kinda nice while it lasted.





Take A Moment

9 11 2006

OK, up and running for a week.  I need some feedback from you guys regarding the theme of this site.  Is it too hard to read?  Too busy?  Just right?  Super wonderful the best I’ve ever seen?  Throw me a bone here, people!  It doesn’t take much to change the theme.





Tragic Prelude

9 11 2006

Tragic Prelude

It dawned on me that some readers may not be familiar with the artwork parodied by Free State Brewing Co. on their T-shirts and included in my post To Purge This Land With Beer.  Above is the original artwork by John Steuart Curry, The Tragic Prelude, one of two murals he painted for the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka.  I got this image on the Famous Trials website.

Curry was born in Kansas in 1897, and eventually became a well respected resident of the Westport, CT art colony.  With Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton, Curry established the US style of art that became known as regionalism.  Signature pieces of the three artists are Baptism in Kansas (Curry), Boomtown (Benton), and the iconic American Gothic (Wood).

In 1937, despite the fact that his work had never been well received in Kansas, at the instigation of several powerful newspapermen Curry was commissioned to cover the statehouse walls with paintings depicting the history of the state.  As work progressed, critics felt the murals (The Tragic Prelude and Kansas Pastorale) did not show the state in a favorable light, focusing on its troubled past and the difficulty of life on the prairies.  The Kansas Council of Women protested “The murals do not portray the true Kansas. Rather than revealing a law-abiding progressive state, the artist has emphasized the freaks in its history – the tornadoes, and John Brown, who did not follow legal procedure.” In 1941, after the completion of the panels in the second floor hallways but before work began in the rotunda (this was to focus on the dangers of poor soil management), the state legislature ordered work halted.  Curry was so outraged that he left the state never to return.  He never signed the paintings, and died in 1946.  Today the paintings are considered masterpieces. 

In 1991, the Kansas Senate issued a resolution which officially recognized the legislature’s poor treatment of one of the state’s most famous sons.  More here.





We Got Us the Movin’ Pitchers!

9 11 2006

OK, here’s another challenge…insert a Youtube video into a post.  I got the instructions from WordPress’ FAQ.  You need to insert the url for the video between two pretty simple tags.

Mannie Gentile, the happiest ranger in the NPS and host of My Year of Living Rangerously, sent me this video he made of the Jackson monument.  You may need to click the big arrow twice.  Take a gander:





Body by Balco?

8 11 2006

Jackson 4 

Jim Burgess is the Museum Specialist at Manassas National Battlefield Park, and he is one of the many folks I’ve come across in the NPS who goes the extra mile to help out strangers.  I was put in contact with Jim by John Hennessy down in Fredericksburg after asking John about a relatively obscure listing in his order of battle for BR1, and together I think Jim and I solved something of a mystery while uncovering another, but more on that in a later post.  I sent Jim a note on Monday asking if he had any info on the dedication of the Jackson monument on the battlefield and, as I knew he would, he came through for me yesterday.  The following summary of how the monument came to be has been gleaned from the information Jim sent me and from the e-book “Battling for Manassas” by Joan Zenzen.

At the 75th Anniversary reenactment on July 21, 1936, a suggestion was made to erect a monument more suitable than the “poorly lettered” sign then marking the site of Jackson’s line.  When the Sons of Confederate Veterans conveyed the Henry Farm to the US government on March 19, 1938, the deed included a condition for the erection of a monument to Jackson by the State of Virginia.  Also as part of the negotiations with the SCV, the Park Service  pledged to construct what is now the visitor’s center.  These two projects effectively established the national park.

In 1939, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (after the usual wrangling with a national arts commission) chose Joseph P. Pollia (1894-1954) to sculpt the Jackson statue.  Pollia was Italian born but trained in Boston, and had previously sculpted a memorial on San Juan Hill in Cuba and a statue of Phil Sheridan.  An early model of the statue was criticized by Confederate organizations because they felt the features of the rider more closely resembled US Grant, and that the horse looked more like a plow horse than a prize mount (that is, more like Little Sorrel than Cincinnati?).  Pollia changed his design.

After casting at the Bedy-Rassi Foundry in New York City, the statue was trucked to the park where it arrived on July 14, 1940.  The State of Virginia appropriated $25,000 for the artwork and paid $22,500 to Pollia.  On August 31, 1940, more than 1,500 people gathered for the dedication, and were reminded by Douglas Southall Freeman in his keynote speech that “Jackson’s use of discipline and vigorous training…would serve current military commanders well.”

Even though I am a thoroughly unreconstructed Union man, I’ve loved this monument from the day I first laid eyes on it.  It reminded me of so many of the drawings in the Stan Lee Marvel Comics of my youth – this Jackson is impossibly muscular, like The Incredible Hulk.  In fact, this Jackson achieved a state of muscular development not seen in real live human beings until the mid 1980’s.  The dude is ripped!  And so is his horse (supposed to be “Little Sorrell” – not likely).  Striated glutes!  The horse has striated glutes!  Jackson’s diamond shaped calves are easily discernible through his heavy leather riding boots.  And his chest!  (See the banner at the top of this page.) Obviously ‘ol Blue Light spent his down time at Harper’s Ferry that spring doing lots of bench presses from various angles, dumbbell flys, and cable crossovers.  But I suspect he (and Little Sorrel) had some help.  And on my last visit to the park, I found something that comfirmed my suspicion. 

On the west side fo the monument’s black granite base are etched the immortal (if possibly ambiguous) words of Brigadier General Barnard Bee, uttered before his mortal wounding: “There Stands Jackson Like a Stone Wall.”  Everyone can see these words.  They face the visitor’s center.  Fewer folks walk to the east side of the monument, and fewer still stoop low enough to read the small inscription nearly at ground level:

“Saved the day for the Confederacy in 1861, also hit 78 home runs with 207 RBI in a secession shortened season.”

And at the end of the inscription, in a brighter etching obviously made recently:

An asterisk.





To Purge This Land With Beer

7 11 2006

I’m working on a number of things for posts here.  In fact, I have taken to yhst-67605305109593_1886_30797.jpgkeeping a notebook with me so that I can write down these ideas as they pop into my head.  This bit is not earth shattering, but cool nonetheless.  Last year I took part in an online book discussion of Stephen Oates’ “To Purge This Land With Blood”, and have to say that Brown is a fascinating character –  I’m envious of the man’s clarity.  There must be great contentment and freedom that goes along with being able to see everything as either black or white.  At left is a version of the Kansas Statehouse mural that I had never seen before.  Thanks to e-quaintance (that’s someone I’ve never met and know only via the internet) and Kansan extraordinaire Pat Jones for supplying the link to Free State Brewing Co.   I asked the wife for one of the long sleeve T-shirts as a birthday present.








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